Pixel Scroll 3/7/17 I Will Play The Wild Pixel No More

(1) NEW SCIENTIST’S NEW REVIEWER. Congratulations to Abigail Nussbaum who is now writing a column for New Scientist.The first installment discusses three space operas: Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion, Joe M. McDermott’s The Fortress at the End of Time, and Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti: Home.

At the moment we are inundated with intriguing, often envelope-pushing space opera, and Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion is exemplary. Where most space opera, acknowledging its icy origins in Last and First Men, exists at a chilly remove from humanity, The Stars Are Legion is fleshy and messily organic.

(2) NAMIBIA. From the BBC, “The astonishing vision and focus of Namibia’s nomads”. Some of these names will ring a bell if you read Binti. The article analyzes whether people’s response to optical illusions is a cultural artifact.

Nestled in a grassy valley of north-eastern Namibia, Opuwo may seem like a crumbling relic of colonial history. With a population of just 12,000, the town is so small that it would take less than a minute to drive from the road sign on one side of town to the shanty villages on other. Along the way, you would see a hotchpotch collection of administrative offices, a couple of schools, a hospital and a handful of supermarkets and petrol stations.

For many of the people living in the surrounding valley, however, this small town is also the first taste of modern life. The capital of the Kunene region, Opuwo lies in the heartland of the Himba people, a semi-nomadic people who spend their days herding cattle. Long after many of the world’s other indigenous populations had begun to migrate to cities, the Himba had mostly avoided contact with modern culture, quietly continuing their traditional life. But that is slowly changing, with younger generations feeling the draw of Opuwo, where they will encounter cars, brick buildings, and writing for the first time.

How does the human mind cope with all those novelties and new sensations? By studying people like the Himba, at the start of their journey into modernity, scientists are now hoping to understand the ways that modern life may have altered all of our minds. The results so far are fascinating, documenting a striking change in our visual focus and attention. The Himba people, it seems, don’t see the world like the rest of us.

(3) WEIN OUT OF SURGERY. All those well-wishes and prayers did some good for Wolverine co-creator Len Wein. Sent from his Twitter account after he came out of the ICU —

(4) LONE WOLVERINE AND CUB. Daniel Dern sent along a mini-review of Logan:

A man re-unites with the daughter he hadn’t known he had, and they take a road trip, discovering shared interests en route.

Way bloody violent, but no infrastructure (e.g. NYC bridges) damaged. A

nd preceded by a Deadpool squib.

(5) EASTER COMES EARLY. “All the hidden eggs, ties  to ‘X-Men’ and more in ‘Logan’” from Good Morning America.

It goes without saying, spoilers ahead, don’t read if you haven’t seen the film!

Wolverine’s past as a cage fighter seen in 2000’s “X-Men” — When he gets angry, Charles brings up how the team took Logan in all those years ago, when Logan was lost and fighting for money. Hard to believe that was 17 years ago, and since then, we’ve not only had multiple films, but duplicate versions of Sabretooth, Professor X, Storm and Magneto, among others.

(6) K.O.’D. And for those of you needing a memory-jog, CheatSheet lists “10 Marvel Characters Who Have Defeated Wolverine”. First on the list –

Deadpool

Who can win in a fight between invincible fighters? Both Wade Wilson and Wolverine are blessed with healing powers that have made their many face-offs truly unpredictable. Each hero (or anti-hero?) has won his fair share of fights. But in one memorable instance, while Wolverine’s healing abilities were still recovering from an encounter with Magneto, Deadpool outlasted his handicapped opponent, and eventually defeated him by stabbing his lungs with a sword

(7) MYTHCON GUESTS. Mythcon 48 will celebrate 50 years of the Mythopoeic Society with the help of two newly announced GoHs:

The Mythopoeic Society and Mythcon 48 are pleased to announce that William Fliss, Archivist at the Marquette University Special Collections and Archives, and Laura Schmidt, Archivist at the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College, will be our Guests of Honor for this very special conference. Mythcon 48 will be held July 28-31, 2017, in Champaign, Illinois. The conference theme is All That Is Gold.

Gold in fantasy:

  • Greed for gold:
  • Tolkien’s dwarves and gold lust, economic systems in fantasy and fantasy gaming
  • Gold as a color: color symbolism in fantasy and heraldry
  • Gold as an element: gold and other fantastic elements and materials like mithril, octarine, meteorite metal, unobtanium, or the list of semi-precious gems in Tolkien’s “Errantry”…
  • The Golden Age: in fantasy and myth, of fantasy as a genre

Digging for Gold in the Archives:

  • Primary and secondary materials about the Inklings and other fantasy authors in the archives at Marquette University, the Wade Center, Oxford University, and other locations
  • Fan material and society archives
  • Materials in collections at the University of Illinois, especially the Center for Children’s Books
  • Archives, libraries, writing, and research IN fantasy

(8) A SUCCESSFUL BOOKSELLER. Detroit Bookfest has a long interview with the owner of “John K. King Used & Rare Books in Detroit, internationally voted one of the World’s Best Bookstores!”. It’s just full of anecdotes like this —

“When we can, we try to shake each book to see if any stray ephemera falls out. Sometime in the late 1980’s, our employee Tom Schlientz was shaking out a book one day and some Mark Twain photos fell out. These ended up being personal unpublished photos that were taken by Twain’s friend. The photos featured Twain riding in a wagon with a little girl and a horse. They were taken sometime around the turn of the century in Hartford, Connecticut. We sold the photos.”

(9) PUT THIS ON YOUR MEDIEVAL RADAR. Steven H Silver heard that Michael Flynn would like more people to be aware Medieval Science Fiction edited by Carl Kears and James Paz and published in 2016 by Boydell and Brewer, an academic press in the UK. The site where it can be downloaded requires registration for a “one month trial account” — here – and I don’t know how many fans are going to want to do that.

(10) THE TOOLKIT OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION. Young Neil Gaiman was sure he could lift it — “Looking for Thor’s Hammer: Neil Gaiman On ‘Norse Mythology’”.

Neil Gaiman was 6 years old when he first met the Norse god Thor — although he wasn’t the red-bearded hammer-slinger of legend. “Marvel. Marvel’s Thor came first,” he says. “I was reading the reprints of Marvel’s Thor in an English comic called Fantastic. … Dr. Don Blake found this stick in a cave, banged it down and transformed into Thor, and the stick transformed into the hammer.” Gaiman says he spent a lot of his first decade looking for likely sticks, “just on the off chance that they might the Thor stick, and might transform into a mighty hammer. But none of them ever did.”

Not long after that, he picked Roger Lancelyn Green’s classic Myths of the Norsemen to learn more about his favorite characters — and found himself fascinated by a vision of Asgard that was nothing like Marvel’s sci-fi space palaces. “It was a bunch of huts with a wall round them. Thor was now red-bearded, irritable, muscly, zooming around the sky in a chariot pulled by goats, and not necessarily the brightest hammer in the bag.”

(11) FOLDING MONEY. A story at ecns,com, the official English-language website of China News Service, mentions the Hugo — “Hugo Award winner Hao Jingfang releases interactive fiction” – while publicizing the author’s new non-sf work.

Hao Jingfang, who won the last year’s Hugo Award, has released a piece of interactive fiction she composed with five other authors in Shanghai.

The story,”The Beginning of Han,” was uploaded to an interactive literature website qiaobooks.com late last week. It cost 9.9 yuan (about 1.4 U.S. dollars) to read.

With 400,000 characters, it is about Liu Bang, founder of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC – 24 AD). Through different option, readers can find their way to nearly 50 endings.

“Interactive literature is increasingly accepted by readers,” Hao said. “While we are talking about different possibilities, we acquire new knowledge.”

Hao won the Hugo Award with “Folding Beijing” in the category of best novelette at the 74th World Science Fiction Convention. She plans to donate the gains from the new fiction to a welfare project in Tibet.

The writer said she is interested in an earlier dynasty, the Qin (221 – 207 BC), and did not rule out the possibility of writing another interactive fiction based on that history.

(12) CAMPBELL OBIT. William Campbell (1920-2017) has passed away, reports Andrew Porter. Campbell was a freelance illustrator and cartoonist, the creator of the “Weird-ohs”, “Silly Surfers”, and “Frantics” plastic model kit series for the Hawk Model Company, which were popular in the early 1960s.

(13) COMIC SECTION. In Soonish, a character finds the safest place to announce his shameful secret: “Moonshot”.  

(14) WHAT TO SAY? Theodora Goss, in “Writing in Troubled Times”, says she’s been finding it difficult to write for social media.

I’ve never found it this hard to write before. Oh, I’m writing . . . I have a book due, and I work on that! I’m working on it as fast and hard as I can. But I’ve always found it easy to write, and to write all sorts of things. Now, all I want to do is work on the book, which allows me to go in deep, to disappear into another time and place, to spend time being my characters rather than myself. All I want to do is escape into my own writing. Not communicate.

Perhaps the problem is, I don’t feel as though I have any particular wisdom to offer.

The sorts of problems I see in the news, I can’t fix, and have no fix for. I’m not the right person to tell you, call your congressman. Yes, call your congressman, but what I write about, what I think about, are deeper systems of values. I write about trees, and rocks, and birds. I write about fairy tales. I write about schools for witches. My writing is about what we should value, about the deeper magic of life. Not political positions, or not immediate ones, although I think politics infuses my writing. How could it not, when I was born behind the Berlin Wall, when my parents lived through 1956 in Hungary, when my grandparents lived through World War II? It’s always there . . . but I have little of value to say on current legislation.

(15) FORERUNNER. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one reason we have a Best Dramatic – Short Form Hugo. But its impact was far greater than that — the BBC says “We should thank Buffy for today’s ‘Golden Age of television’”.

But Buffy had another destiny as well – as the harbinger of the current ‘Golden Age of Television’. When the show premiered in 1997, it seemed at worst a joke, at best a novelty destined for a short life. Instead it contained the seeds of a startling number of trends to come for the medium. Of course, Buffy was a watershed moment for the portrayal of young women on television, giving us a witty, smart heroine uniquely equipped to do no less than save the world. And it brought vampires back well before the age of Twilight. But it also innovated in more artful ways: combining fantasy and grounded realism in a way that prefigured everything from Alias and Lost to Jane the Virgin and the many superhero shows we have today; displaying a postmodern self-consciousness that’s ubiquitous in current programming; and experimenting with the form of television itself via a silent episode and a musical episode. In short, Buffy showed us what television could do, and was about to do.

(16) TONGUE TWISTERS. John Boyega raises suspicions that star gibberish will make a comeback in the next Star Wars movie — “John Boyega Hints ‘The Last Jedi’ Carries On ‘Star Wars’ Tradition of Making Actors Wrestle With Awkward Dialogue”.

Judging by star John Boyega‘s latest tongue-in-cheek Instagram post (see below), the tradition of saddling its actors with serious mouthfuls of sci-fi-speak promises to continue with The Last Jedi, this winter’s highly anticipated sequel to 2015’s The Force Awakens:

 

(17) BRINGING BOOKS TO THE UNSUSPECTING. Well, I guess we all do that. But we don’t all get on TV. Emma Watson tells about her work as a “book ninja” on The Jimmy Kimmel Show.

(18) HELP UNWANTED. It was one thing for Hermoine to help Harry and Ron with their homework, and quite another to help Dan and Rupert with their lines. Kimmel razzed Watson about an embarrassing habit she had as a kid, as illustrated in an old outtake of her shooting a scene for Harry Potter.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Mark-kitteh, Steven H Silver, John King Tarpinian, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]

Pixel Scroll 12/5/16 And They Will Know Us By The Trail Of Pixels

(1) POSTER CHILD. Early this year Cat Rambo placed herself at the forefront of the movement encouraging writers to put up awards eligibility posts, and using the authority vested in her by the Science Fiction Writers of America now calls on everyone to do it.

Practicing what she preaches, Rambo has done a year-end recap of her publications:

The stories of my own I am pushing this year are “Left Behind” (short story), “Red in Tooth & Cog” (novelette), “Haunted” (novella co-written with Bud Sparhawk), and the fantasy collection Neither Here Nor There. SFWA members should be able to find copies of those on the member boards; I am happy to mail copies to people reading for awards whether or not you are a member. Drop me a line and let me know the preferred format. I am looking for reviewers interested in Neither Here Nor There and happy to send copies as needed.

The recap contains links to nearly 30 other F&SF writer awards eligibility posts.

(2) PW PRIDE. Rambo is also proud of Publishers Weekly’s starred review for her new short story collection Neither Here Nor There.

This double collection showcases Rambo’s versatility within the fantasy genre. In the “Neither Here” half, tales set in her existing worlds of Tabat (“How Dogs Came to the New Continent”) and Serendib (“The Subtler Art”) rub shoulders with new worlds of magic and mystery. “Nor There” displays her skill at seeing our world through different lenses, with locations including steampunk London (“Clockwork Fairies”) and urban fantasy Seattle (“The Wizards of West Seattle”)…

(3) SCREEN TIME. George R.R. Martin is getting busy recommending things for Hugos – including other people’s things.

For my part, I already know what two of my Hugo nominations for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form will be. ARRIVAL, to start with. Terrific adaptation of a classic story by Ted Chiang. Brilliant performance from Amy Adams. (She is always great, I think, but this was her best role to date). A real science fiction story, not a western in space. Intelligent, thought-provoking, with some wonderfully alien aliens. And WESTWORLD, season one, from HBO. Of course, as with GAME OF THRONES, one can nominate individual episodes of this one in Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form… but for me it makes more sense to nominate the entire season in Long Form. (GAME OF THRONES season one was nominated in this fashion

(4) HITS AT THE LIBRARY. Library Journal’s “Best Books 2016” picked these as the top five titles from the year’s SF and fantasy.

Borderline, by Mishell Baker
The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers
The Invisible Library, by Genevieve Cogman
Every Heart A Doorway, by Seanan McGuire
Behind The Throne, by K.B. Wagers

(5) SURPASSING THE MASTER. No spoilers for the movie Arrival in the following excerpt, only for the story it’s based on. But it’s natural that the movie spoilers quickly follow in Peter Watts analysis of the adaptation: “Changing Our Minds: ‘Story of Your Life’ in Print and on Screen”.

What might come as a shock— and I hesitate to write this down, because it smacks of heresy— is that in terms of storytelling, Arrival actually surpasses its source material.

It’s not that it has a more epic scale, or more in the way of conventional dramatic conflict. Not just that, anyway. It’s true that Hollywood— inevitably— took what was almost a cozy fireside chat and ‘roided it up to fate-of-the-world epicness. In “Story of Your Life”, aliens of modest size set up a bunch of sitting rooms, play Charades with us for a while, and then leave. Their motives remain mysterious; the military, though omnipresent, remains in the background. The narrative serves mainly as a framework for Chiang to explore some nifty ideas about the way language and perception interact, about how the time-symmetric nature of fundamental physics might lead to a world-view— every bit as consistent as ours— that describes a teleological universe, with all the Billy Pilgrim time-tripping that implies. It’s fascinating and brow furrowing, but it doesn’t leave you on the edge of your seat. Going back and rereading it for this post, I had to hand it to screenwriter Eric Heisserer for seeing the cinematic potential buried there; if I was going to base a movie on a Ted Chiang story, this might be the last one I’d choose.

(6) CALL FOR PAPERS. GIFcon, Glasgow International Fantasy Conversations, is looking for papers and creative works. The deadline is December 19. The SFWA Blog gave their announcement a signal boost:

With a focus on intersections (academic and creative writing; film, art, and games) we aim for GIFCON’s inaugural event to be a crossroads at which these communities can meet and come into conversation.

Fantasy at the Crossroads: Intersections, Identities, and Liminality

29th – 30th March 2017

What is Fantasy? This is a question that the University of Glasgow’s MLitt in Fantasy has explored throughout its first year. While this may seem an unanswerable question, for many of us, fantasy is where reality and the impossible meet. Fantasy inspires a sprawling collection of worlds that stem from a myriad of identities, experiences, and influences. From traditional epics to genre-melding, fantasy branches out into every style imaginable. Cross-sections of genre and identity create cracks in traditional forms, opening in-between spaces from which bloom new ideas and stories.

Examples of intersections in fantasy can be found in:

– Julie Bertagna’s Exodus trilogy, which explores environmentalism within the context of fantasy and science fiction.

– Arianne “Tex” Thompson’s Children of the Drought series, which focuses on subversions of race and gender.

– China Miéville’s The City and the City, which fuses the detective novel with the fantastic.

– Eowyn Ivey’s The Snow Child, which uses fairy tale inspirations to create a magical realist setting and narrative.

– Netflix’s Stranger Things, which melds horror with Dungeons and Dragons via a coming-of-age science fiction story.

– The Elder Scrolls video game series, which intersects narrative, music, and visual arts.

– Frank Beddor’s Looking Glass Wars series, which combines science fiction and fantasy to explore unique, genre-melded world-building.

…Please submit a 300-word abstract, along with a 100-word biography (both in DOC or RTF format) to submissions.gifconference@gmail.com by Monday 19th December 2016.

(7) RIVENDELL AUDIO. Here is the schedule of December Readings from Rivendell program in the Twin Cities, MN.

readings-from-rivendell-december

(8) WETA DIGITAL END OF YEAR PARTY 2016. I’d love to be on the invitation list for this shindig —

The Weta Digital End of Year Party has always had the reputation of being the best party in town. As with previous years, no one knew where the party was being held, or what was involved, all we knew was we had to go to platform 9 at the Wellington train station. After boarding buses at the station, we were transported to the secret location. This is what went down after we arrived… The party was themed by the four elements of nature – Water, Fire, Air/Wind and Earth. As you can see in the video, the themed installations and performance art at the party location were fantastic, and an amazing time was had by all! A big thanks to Weta Digital for putting on such an incredible party!

 

(9) PUCK VS. CUPID. The Book Smugglers present Tansy Rayner Roberts’ review of the year’s favorites in “Smugglivus 2016: A Very TansyRR Smugglivus”. There’s a lot of entertaining writing in the post, not to mention revelations about the previously unsuspected (by me, anyway) subgenres of gay hockey comics and novels.

This has also been an important year for Check! Please, one of my favourite all time web comics. I a couple of scary, stressful months earlier in the year, and the Check! Please fandom pulled me through until I was ready to face the world again. Check! Please was already an adorable gay hockey comic about bros and sports and friendship and pies, but its creator Ngozi gave us so many gifts this year, starting in February with The Kiss which pretty much made the comics fandom lose their collected minds.

Their love is so canon, y’all!

We’ve also had several waves of updates throughout the year, following the ups and downs of our hero Bitty and his secret NHL boyfriend. Ngozi also launched a Kickstarter for the book publication of Year 2 which was crazy successful, showing how dramatically her work’s popularity has soared since Jack Zimmermann got a clue that he was a character in a sweet gay rom com, not a gritty hockey tragedy.

(10) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #9. The ninth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for an autographed copy of Jenna Black’s Replica, and a matching handmade pendant to go with it.

Today’s auction is for an autographed copy of REPLICA and a handmade pendant to go with it (pictured below). You can see samples of Black’s other gorgeous pendants at her Etsy store.

About the Book:

Sixteen-year-old Nadia Lake’s marriage has been arranged with the most powerful family in the Corporate States. She lives a life of privilege even if she has to put up with paparazzi tracking her every move, every detail of her private life tabloid fodder. But her future is assured, as long as she can maintain her flawless public image—no easy feat when your betrothed is a notorious playboy.

Nathaniel Hayes is the heir to the company that pioneered human replication: a technology that every state and every country in the world would kill to have. Except he’s more interested in sneaking around the seedy underbelly of the state formerly known as New York than he is in learning to run his future company or courting his bride-to-be. She’s not exactly his type…not that he can tell anyone that.

But then Nate turns up dead, and Nadia was the last person to see him alive.

When the new Nate wakes up in the replication tanks, he knows he must have died, but with a memory that only reaches to his last memory back-up, he doesn’t know what—or rather, who—killed him. Together, Nadia and Nate must discover what really happened without revealing the secrets that those who run their world would kill to protect.

(11) NOT ASKING SANTA FOR THESE. This link leads to a page from Hunter’s Planet of the Apes Archive. Consider it an online museum of print advertising for Planet of the Apes merchandise.

(12) IN DOORSTOPS TO COME. Ann and Jeff VanderMeer have sold another Big Book – “Announcing The Big Book of Classic Fantasy”.

As Ann and I announced on social media last week, we’re thrilled to have sold another behemoth of an anthology, The Big Book of Classic Fantasy, to editor Tim O’Connell at Vintage Books!! Tentatively scheduled for publication in 2018 and covering roughly the period 1850 up to World War II. Thanks to our agent, Sally Harding, and the Cooke Agency. This will be our fourth huge anthology project, following this year’s The Big Book of Science Fiction, The Time Traveler’s Almanac, and the World Fantasy Award-winning The Weird.

Will this anthology include not just your favorite classics from the English language, but also translations from all over the world? Yes. Will it include never-before-translated new stories? Yes. Will it include the best of the Decadents and the Surrealists in a fantastical vein? Oh yes, most certainly. We hope to widen our net on the translation side, focusing on areas of the world that have been underrepresented in prior anthologies.

(13) WILLIAMS OBIT. Van Williams, famed as television’s The Green Hornet, has died at the age of 82.

Variety reports he actually died on Nov. 28, but his passing only became publicly known on Sunday.

Born in 1934 in Forth Worth, Texas, Williams was working as a diving instructor in Hawaii when he was discovered in 1957 by producer Mike Todd, who persuaded him to move to Hollywood. He earned his big break two years later with a lead role on the ABC private detective drama “Bourbon Street.” He followed that with “Surfside 6,” starring opposite Troy Donahue.

However, it’s on the short-lived “Green Hornet” that Williams made a lasting mark as newspaper publisher Britt Reid, who fought crime as the masked Green Hornet alongside his partner Kato, so memorably played by Bruce Lee.

(14) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 3, 1974 – The last new episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus was broadcast on the BBC.

(15) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born December 5, 1901 – Walt Disney

disney-comic-lio161205

(16) A CAPRINE TRAGEDY. As discussed in comments on an earlier Scroll, the Gävle Yule Goat was burned down on its inauguration day, and replaced by a baby goat made of straw.

Only a week later, a vandal drove a car into the replica.

But in the early hours of Monday, those who were unable to sleep and instead found themselves watching the goat’s webcam feed (we’re told this is a thing) were able to see in real-time how someone raced towards the new goat in their car and brutally ran it over.

(17) SEND THE BILL TO LUCASFILMS. VentureBeat has been reliably informed coff that “The Death Star would cost $7.8 octillion a day to run”.

The British energy supplier Ovo has put some very well-spent hours into a comprehensive calculation of the operating costs of the Death Star, which will return to the spotlight in the December 16th movie Rogue One. They conclude that operating the planet-destroying starbase would cost 6.2 octillion British pounds, or $7.8 octillion, per day—that’s $7,800,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

To put that absurdly large number in perspective, $7.8 octillion is more than 100 trillion times the $70 trillion annual global economic activity of Earth, or 30 trillion times the roughly $200 trillion in wealth on our little blue planet.

(18) WHAT IF THEY’RE NOT LITTLE AND GREEN? NPR reports on NASA’s efforts to recognize life if they find it:

There’s a growing interest in so-called biosignatures — or substances that provide evidence of life — because NASA has upcoming missions that have real potential to search for them. Those include a visit to Europa in the 2020s and the 2018 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, which could scan the atmospheres of planets around other stars.

The last thing NASA officials want is a repeat of the experience with the Viking missions back in the 1970s, when analysis of Martian soil chemistry produced what was initially interpreted as evidence of life — but then later deemed a false-positive.

“I remember the aftermath of that,” says James Kasting, a professor of geosciences at Penn State University, who was tasked with planning this week’s meeting. “NASA was criticized heavily for looking for life before they had investigated the planet and for not having thought that through carefully. They’re hoping to avoid that same experience.”

Finding life means first defining life, and NASA’s Green says the key features are that it must metabolize, reproduce and evolve.

(19) ESA WILL BUILD ROVER. The European Space Agency will build a Mars rover, even if the cost keeps going up.

Europe will push ahead with its plan to put a UK-assembled robotic rover on the surface of Mars in 2021.

Research ministers meeting in Lucerne, Switzerland, have agreed to stump up the outstanding €436m euros needed to take the project through to completion.

The mission is late and is costing far more than originally envisaged, prompting fears that European Space Agency member states might abandon it.

But the ministers have emphatically reaffirmed their commitment to it

(20) AUTO INTELLIGENCE. Uber has bought an AI company to move toward self-driving car.

Ride-sharing service Uber has acquired a New York-based artificial intelligence start-up which it hopes can speed up its progress in creating self-driving cars.

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, will see Uber gain 15 specialist researchers who will form a new division at the company known as Uber AI Labs.

(21) DISAPPEARING STAR. Did you enjoy the video of Chris Pratt’s magic, linked here the other day? Cards aren’t the only medium he does tricks in — “Chris Pratt keeps cropping Jennifer Lawrence out of Instagram selfies and it’s hilarious”.

The acting megastar duo are both starring in upcoming sci-fi romance Passengers, but throughout the film’s promo tour 37-year-old Pratt has been enjoying social media hijinks by cutting out 26-year-old Lawrence whenever the pair share a snap together….

 

(22) WINTER IS COMING. At Dangerous Minds, “Stunning images of pagan costumes worn at winter celebrations around the world”.

In a recent interview, French photographer Charles Fréger revealed that he has always been fascinated by European tribal traditions. This fascination inspired the well-known artist to travel all around Europe to capture images of people dressed in ritualistic costumes honoring the arrival of winter and other seasonal celebrations.

Fréger began his journey in Austria and to date has photographed stunning costumes and rituals from 21 countries around the world. According to Fréger there are many celebrations that mark the arrival of winter that take place in the Czech Republic and, say, Italy that are quite similar when it comes to the materials that are used to create the costumes. Such as the incorporation of animal pelts, branches from trees, horns and bells into the costumes. Though they may share similar appearances, the story behind each living piece of folklore varies from country and location. Here’s more from Fréger about why so many of these celebrations often involve a human masquerading as an animal:

It is not about being possessed by a spirit but it is about jumping voluntarily in the skin of an animal. You decide to become something else. You chose to become an animal, which is more exciting than being possessed by a demon.

(23) LOL. Larry Correia goes through the comments carefully answering everyone’s questions about when the electronic and audiobook versions of his latest novels will be available, when one fan decides to yank his chain:

Ben Smith: Will the leather bound book have a kindle version?

(24) MR. GREEN HAS ARRIVED. Let’s kick off the verse segment of today’s Scroll with a link to Theodora Goss’ “The Princess and the Frog” which begins….

I threw the ball into the water.
The frog came out and followed after,
bringing me the golden ball —
which I did not want at all, at all.

(25) SEASONED GREETING. Joe H. and Heather Rose Jones produced this collaboration in comments.

Lo, how a pixel scrolling,
From tender file hath sprung…
Of Glyer’s laptop coming
As SMOFs of old hath sung

(26) THEN ONE FOGGY CHRISTMAS EVE. In a piece called “Hamildoph (An American Christmas Story)” the group Eclipse 6 performs “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” as if it was done by the cast of Hamilton.

I cannot fly if I cannot see, people!
I’m in dire need of assistance.
Brrr
Your Excellency, you wanted to see me?
Rudolph, come in—did you say “brrr”?
Yes, sir, ‘cause it’s freezing.

 

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Rambo, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

2016 Mythopoeic Awards Finalists

The Mythopoeic Society has released the finalists for the 2016 Mythopoeic Awards. The winners of this year’s awards will be announced during Mythcon 47, August 5-8 in San Antonio.

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature

  • Holly Black, The Darkest Part of the Forest (Little, Brown)
  • Kazuo Ishiguro, The Buried Giant (Knopf)
  • E.K. Johnston, A Thousand Nights (Disney-Hyperion)
  • Naomi Novik, Uprooted (Del Rey)
  • Daniel José Older, Shadowshaper (Arthur A. Levine Books)

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature

  • Cassie Beasley, Circus Mirandus (Dial)
  • Robert Beatty, Serafina and The Black Cloak (Disney-Hyperion)
  • Sarah Beth Durst, The Girl Who Could Not Dream (Clarion Books)
  • Terry Pratchett, Tiffany Aching Series: Wee Free Men; Hat Full of Sky; Wintersmith; I Shall Wear Midnight; The Shepherd’s Crown (HarperCollins)
  • Ursula Vernon, Castle Hangnail (Dial Books)

Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies

  • Verlyn Flieger, ed. The Story of Kullervo by J.R.R. Tolkien (HarperCollins, 2015)
  • Grevel Lindop , Charles Williams: The Third Inkling (Oxford Univ. Press, 2015)
  • Alistair E. McGrath, C. S. Lewis—A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet (Tyndale House, 2013)
  • Abigail Santamaria, Joy: Poet, Seeker, and the Woman Who Captivated C.S. Lewis (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015)
  • Christopher Tolkien, ed., Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary Together with Sellic Spell by J.R.R. Tolkien (Houghton Mifflin, 2014)

Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies

  • Stefan Ekman, Here Be Dragons: Exploring Fantasy Maps and Settings (Wesleyan Univ. Press, 2013)
  • Daniel Gabelman, George MacDonald: Divine Carelessness and Fairytale Levity (Baylor University Press, 2013)
  • Melanie Keene, Science in Wonderland: The Scientific Fairy Tales of Victorian Britain (Oxford Univ., Press, 2015)
  • Heather O’Donoghue, English Poetry and Old Norse Myth: A History (Oxford Univ. Press, 2014)
  • Jamie Williamson, The Evolution of Modern Fantasy: From Antiquarianism to the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)

The Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature is given to the fantasy novel, multi-volume, or single-author story collection for adults published during 2015 that best exemplifies the spirit of the Inklings.

The Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature honors books for beginning readers to age thirteen, in the tradition of The Hobbit or The Chronicles of Narnia.

The Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies is given to books on Tolkien, Lewis, and/or Williams that make significant contributions to Inklings scholarship. For this award, books first published during the last three years (2013–2015) are eligible, including finalists for previous years.

The Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies is given to scholarly books on other specific authors in the Inklings tradition, or to more general works on the genres of myth and fantasy. The period of eligibility is three years, as for the Inklings Studies award.

2015 Mythopoeic Awards

The winners of the 2015 Mythopoeic Awards were announced August 2 at Mythcon 46 in Colorado Springs.

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature

  • Sarah Avery, Tales from Rugosa Coven (Dark Quest)

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature

  • Natalie Lloyd, A Snicker of Magic (Scholastic)

Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies

  • Robert Boenig, C.S. Lewis and the Middle Ages (Kent State Univ. Press, 2012)

Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies

  • Brian Attebery, Stories About Stories: Fantasy and the Remaking of Myth (Oxford Univ. Press, 2014)

Renee Alper (1957-2015)

Gifted filker Renee Alper died July 27 from an infection. She was 57.

Alper discovered Tolkien while in the fifth grade, an interest which in time led her to fandom.

She developed severe arthritis after starting college and was forced to drop out. During a year-and-a-half of enforced inactivity, she read a notice that The Mythopoeic Society was forming a group in the Chicago area. She responded and helped found Minas Aeron in 1977, together with Michael Dorfman, and Greg Everitt.

A wire service story about the new club attracted out-of-town Tolkien fans to join, prompting them to rename their group the American Hobbit Association. The organization soon had more than 200 members, most from the U.S., but several from England, the Netherlands, and Hong Kong. They also recruited Christopher Tolkien, Clyde Kilby, and Raynor Unwin. The AHA newsletter was named Annuminas (West Tower) and they later published The Rivendell Review. The group continued to meet locally for 12 years.

Alper also wrote locs to many sf fanzines and was one of the first subscribers to File 770 in 1978.

Arthritis confined her to a wheelchair most of the time, but her physical challenges became much greater in February 1989 when she suffered a devastating spinal cord injury in an auto accident. While on the way home to Cincinnati, after a day trip to visit her boyfriend in Columbus, the vehicle she was in skidded on a patch of ice and crashed off the side of the road. She broke her neck in numerous places, and was in a halo brace for the next six months.

The emotional trauma accompanying the loss of mobility is described in her essay “Never Should on Yourself” (From There To Here: Gary Karp’s Life on Wheels) — as is a breakthrough she experienced during a conversation with her motion therapist, Eric:

One day Eric asked me, “Do you know that you can be completely content even if nothing in your life improved from the way it is now?” I answered, “Sure, I know, on some esoteric level, that’s true. They say that given the right attitude, even a prisoner being tortured can find contentment. But come on, Eric, look at how my life is: incredible pain, stuck in a wheelchair with spasms, limited mobility, enormous problems finding personal care help – how can I be content?”

She adds that psychotherapy, with the right therapist, was an indispensable tool to her recovery.

Alper became a teacher, a singer, songwriter, public speaker, actress, director and playwright. She used her experiences to write a play about a disability support group, Roll Model, and “Non-Vertical Girl” (2009), which presents her life story as a one-woman musical fringe show.

CPI-NonVerticallogo_000“Non-Vertical Girl” follows the heroine from the onset of a lifelong illness as a teen, through a devastating car crash, and ultimately to love and success. Alper began with a review of all the terms used over the centuries to refer to someone with limited use of their limbs, which changed over time as each came to have a negative connotation: crippled, invalid, handicapped, disabled.

She chaired Cincinnati Playwrights Initiative’s Cold Readings and also read for the Cincinnati New Light Festival. Other Alper works were produced by the Cincinnati Fringe Festival (“Extreme Puppet Theatre”), Talent2000USA (“Roll Model”), and The Renegade Garage Players (“Roll Model Jr.,” “Trust,” and “The Rescue”).

Drawing on her long history as a Tolkien fan, she served as “dramaturg” for Ovation Theatre Company’s adaptations of The Lord of the Rings over a three year period. Alpert told an interviewer —

I liked saying “I am the dramaturg, I speak for the text” — you know, “I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees.” Because where the author deviated from the text, I basically said yay or nay, but he didn’t always listen. The biggest faux-pas he did was having Sam and Rosie get pregnant before they were married. I hopped up and down, waved my hands, did everything I could, but he kept it in the play.

Alper was a devoted and talented filksinger. Dave Weingart, another leading filker, credited her with having “a wonderful voice”.

She was a prolific songwriter, too, and was twice nominated for the Pegasus Award for excellence in filking. “Natira’s Song (For The World is Hollow And I Have Touched The Sky)” was a 1991 nominee for Best Love Song. “On The Inside” was a 1994 nominee for Best Filk Song —

Virtual Reality can be deceiving
Everything is not as it appears
And only a naive soul could be so believing
To fall in love having only met
On the inside, on the inside

Alper also won or placed in the Ohio Valley Filk Fest Songwriting Contest nine times from 1991-2003, with songs like Reed Turner: Novel Hero, Deer John Letter, If I Were a Rich Fan, and Tear It Down.

She produced several tapes, including Wheelchair in High Gear, Four On the Floor, and Thoracic Park.

For a time, she hosted Filkaholics Anonymous at her home in Mason, OH.

She was a GoH at Musicon 2 (1993) in Nashville, Tennessee.

Alper even had connections to gaming fandom. Gamerati did a video interview with her in 2011.

Despite all the physical suffering she endured every day Alper retained a dry wit, and wryly concluded one post on a meetup board:

If there is an exit interview for life, I have a few suggestions for the customer service department….

2015 Mythopoeic Awards Shortlist

The finalists for the 2015 Mythopoeic Awards have been announced. The winners will be revealed at Mythcon 46 (July 31–August 3) in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature

  • Sarah Avery, Tales from Rugosa Coven (Dark Quest)
  • Stephanie Feldman, The Angel of Losses (Ecco)
  • Theodora Goss, Songs for Ophelia (Papaveria Press)
  • Joanne M. Harris, The Gospel of Loki (Gollancz)
  • Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, Locke & Key series, consisting of Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft; Vol. 2: Head Games; Vol. 3: Crown of Shadow; Vol.4: Keys to the Kingdom; Vol. 5: Clockworks; and Vol. 6: Alpha & Omega IDW Publishing

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature

  • Jonathan Auxier, The Night Gardener (Harry N. Abrams)
  • Merrie Haskell, The Castle Behind Thorns (Katherine Tegan Books)
  • Diana Wynne Jones and Ursula Jones, The Islands of Chaldea (Greenwillow)
  • Robin LaFevers, His Fair Assassin series, consisting of Grave Mercy; Dark Triumph; and Mortal Heart (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • Natalie Lloyd, A Snicker of Magic (Scholastic)

Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies

  • Robert Boenig, C.S. Lewis and the Middle Ages (Kent State Univ. Press, 2012)
  • Monika B. Hilder, C. S. Lewis and gender series, consisting of The Feminine Ethos in C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia (Peter Lang, 2012); The Gender Dance: Ironic Subversion in C. S. Lewis’s Cosmic Trilogy (Peter Lang, 2013); and Surprised by the Feminine: A Rereading of C. S. Lewis and Gender (Peter Lang, 2013)
  • John Wm. Houghton, Janet Brennan Croft, Nancy Martsch, John D. Rateliff, and Robin Anne Reid, eds., Tolkien in the New Century: Essays in Honor of Tom Shippey (McFarland, 2014)
  • John Garth, Tolkien at Exeter College: How an Undergraduate Created Middle-earth (Exeter College, 2014)
  • Christopher Tolkien, ed., Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary, Together with Sellic Spell, by J. R. R. Tolkien (Houghton Mifflin, 2014)

Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies

  • Brian Attebery, Stories About Stories: Fantasy and the Remaking of Myth (Oxford Univ. Press, 2014)
  • Daniel Gabelman, George MacDonald: Divine Carelessness and Fairytale Levity (Baylor Univ. Press, 2013)
  • Sara Maitland, From the Forest: The Hidden Roots of our Fairy Tales (Counterpoint, 2012)
  • Michael Saler, As If: Modern Enchantment and the Literary Prehistory of Virtual Reality (Oxford Univ. Press, 2012)
  • Kristen Stirling, Peter Pan’s Shadows in the Modern Literary Imagination (Routledge, 2012)

2015 Mythcon Adds Scholar Guest of Honor

Mythcon 46 named Jo Walton its Author Guest of Honor last fall, and now has added John D. Rateliff as Scholar Guest of Honor.

Mythcon, the annual conference of the Mythopoeic Society, takes place July 31-August 3 in Colorado Springs. The 2015 con’s theme is “The Arthurian Mythos.”

Jo Walton won the 2010 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature for her novel Lifelode. She has published 10 novels, with two more due out in 2015. She won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2002, the World Fantasy Award in 2004 for Tooth and Claw, and the Hugo and Nebula awards in 2012 for Among Others.

John D. Rateliff, PhD., won the 2009 Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies for The History of the Hobbit Part One: Mr. Baggins; Part Two: Return to Bag-end. He also has numerous credits in the gaming field, having worked for TSR, Inc., Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro.

2014 Mythopoeic Award Winners

The winners of the 2014 Mythopoeic Awards were announced at Mythcon 45 in Norton, MA, on August 10.

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature
Helene Wecker, The Golem and the Jinni (Harper)

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature
Holly Black, Doll Bones (Margaret K. McElderry)

Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies
Jason Fisher, ed., Tolkien and the Study of His Sources: Critical Essays (McFarland, 2011)

Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies
G. Ronald Murphy, Tree of Salvation: Yggdrasil and the Cross in the North (Oxford Univ. Press, 2013)

Knossos Makes The Post

John Kelly devoted his column in the May 12 Washington Post to book clubs, including Knossos, the Mythopoeic Society’s Washington chapter – although its appeal to Kelly seems to have been something the group does on rare occasions:

Speaking of science fiction, Wendell Wagner belongs to a book club called Knossos, loosely affiliated with the Mythopoeic Society, which is interested in fantasy, particularly the works of the “Inklings” (J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, etc.). The members read a lot of fantasy and sci-fi, from ancient epics to graphic novels. That’s not all they do.

Wrote Wendell: “For some years now, once a year we watch a lot of movies on a Saturday rather than discuss a book, and once we watched old TV shows.”

A book club that watches TV shows? Now that’s a movement I could get behind.

[Thanks to Knossos member Martin Morse Wooster for the link.]

2013 Mythopoeic Award Winners

The winners of the 2013 Mythopoeic Awards were announced at Mythcon 44 in East Lansing, Michigan, on July 14.

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature
Ursula Vernon, Digger, vols. 1-6 (Sofawolf Press)

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature
Sarah Beth Durst, Vessel (Margaret K. McElderry)

Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies
Verlyn Flieger, Green Suns and Faërie: Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien (Kent State Univ. Press, 2012)

Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies
Nancy Marie Brown, Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)

The Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature is given to the fantasy novel, multi-volume, or single-author story collection for adults published during 2012 that best exemplifies “the spirit of the Inklings.” Books are eligible for two years after publication if not selected as a finalist during the first year of eligibility. Books from a series are eligible if they stand on their own; otherwise, the series becomes eligible the year its final volume appears.

The Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature honors books for younger readers (from “Young Adults” to picture books for beginning readers), in the tradition of The Hobbit or The Chronicles of Narnia. Rules for eligibility are otherwise the same as for the Adult Literature award. The question of which award a borderline book is best suited for will be decided by consensus of the committees.

The Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies is given to books on Tolkien, Lewis, and/or Williams that make significant contributions to Inklings scholarship. For this award, books first published during the last three years (2010–2012) are eligible, including finalists for previous years. The Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies is given to scholarly books on other specific authors in the Inklings tradition, or to more general works on the genres of myth and fantasy. The period of eligibility is three years, as for the Inklings Studies award.