Pixel Scroll 4/19/17 I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Pixel Scroller

(1) VALENTINELLI CONSIDERS ANTIHARASSMENT PROJECTS. Monica Valentinelli has issued a “Tentative Plan for Con Safety Discussion and Call for Feedback”.

…I want to stress, however, that I am no expert on the subject of con safety. There are several people (4) who are already doing the work to make cons/events safer, and I feel that any forthcoming materials needs to emphasis those efforts and individuals. As I mentioned in the previous post, the discussion about con safety is far bigger than what happened at one con, and there can definitely be more than one solution (5) and multiple books.

What I Can Offer

Besides offering support, words of encouragement, or signal boosting where I can (6), I’ve had a few volunteers saying they’d be willing to help put together a book (7) on con safety. Doing so is complex, because a) it collates invaluable knowledge from existing volunteers b) people need to be paid fairly for their time c) it needs to be inclusive to address “what’s missing” from underrepresented groups d) it requires a publisher and ample distribution and e) possibly a Kickstarter….

(2) NERD CON SAYS GOODBYE. Nerd Con, an Escondido, CA event, sent its fans into mourning when they announced on March 31 that the con is kaput.

Nerd Con Announcement:

These past years have been so much fun and we’ve had such a blast meeting so many awesome people. Its been really exiting bringing people together through our events (Nerd Con, Nerdy New Year) and creating memories that will surely last a lifetime.

We would like to thank the multitude of really great people who spent countless hours of time and dedicated their energy into making Nerd Con and Nerdy New Year special events for everyone.

At this time we no longer have the necessary resources to continue producing these events. We realize that this may come as a shock to many of you and we would like to thank you in advance for your patience and understanding….

It may have been a touch overdramatic to say “These past years have been so much fun…” The con’s only been around for two years — the first was in 2015.

But that’s been long enough to energize a few critics. Some wag put up a webpage with the message “Nerd-Con 2017 in Escondido IS CANCELLED for non-payment for services” and filled it with complaints about his experiences at last year’s con.

(3) BACK TO KRYPTON. Might as well start covering this now, I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more about the series as time goes on — “Syfy’s Krypton: In Leaked Pilot Trailer, Grandpa Has a Message for Superman”.

The story of your family isn’t how we died, but how we lived.”

That’s the message being left by Kal-El’s grandfather in a leaked (and since-deleted, sorry!) trailer for Syfy’s upcoming Superman prequel pilot, Krypton.

Penned by David S. Goyer (Man of Steel) and Ian Goldberg (Once Upon a Time), Krypton is set two generations before the destruction of Superman’s home planet and follows the future Man of Steel’s forefather — Seg-El (played by The Halcyon‘s Cameron Cuffe), whose House of El was ostracized and shamed — as he fights to redeem his family’s honor and save his beloved world from chaos.

The cast also includes Georgina Campbell (Broadchurch) as Lyta Zod, a military cadet and Seg-El’s romantic interest; Ian McElhinney (Game of Thrones) as Seg-El’s own grandpa, a genius fascinated by space exploration; Rasmus Hardiker (Black Mirror) as Seg-El’s best friend; Elliot Cowen (Da Vinci’s Demons) as chief magistrate Daron Vex; and Wallis Day (The Royals) as Daron’s daughter Nyssa.

(4) MAJOR BLABBAGE. DenofGeek brings “Doctor Who: huge Christmas special rumors” – coverage that comes with a big fat warning sign —

Huge rumours could become huge spoilers, so only read this article about the Doctor Who Christmas special if you’re okay with that…

The Mirror is reporting that David Bradley will portray William Hartnell’s first Doctor in the 2017 Christmas special, (sort of) reprising his role from the 2013 making-of drama, An Adventure In Space And Time.

“In the plot, the 1st Doctor has to help the 12th [Peter Capaldi] play out his last mission in the TARDIS. The pair must work together to save [their] home planet Gallifrey by moving it to another dimension”, The Mirror claims.

The tabloid’s report continues: “Fans will discover the close-up shot of Capaldi’s eyes from the 50th [anniversary] special The Day Of The Doctor, was actually the start of his own regeneration.”

(5) VERSATILE AUTHOR LAUNCHES PATREON. Since we last heard from Malcolm Cross (“Malcolm Cross, MilSF, and Piracy”), the author of Dog Country, Dangerous Jade, and Extinction Biome:  Invasion, Dog Country has been nominated for the Ursa Major and Coyotl Awards, which are the equivalent of a Hugo and Nebula for furry writers.  Cross has started a Patreon to reignite his career.

(6) HAPPY NEW YEAR! Standback’s Short Story Squee & Snark online short story club is starting on stories from 2017.

With a whole Internet constantly supplying us with excellent short fiction, SSS&S is devoted to reading short stories often, and widely. Every week we read a story – hopping between magazines, authors, styles and subgenres. Then, we meet up back here and discuss – love it or loathe it, being able to talk stories over is often half the fun!

We’re kicking off discussing Sarah Pinsker’s “And Then There Were (N-One)” – the story of SarahCon, the exciting new convention for Sarah Pinskers from across the multiverse.

And, entering a new year of short fiction, we’re very eager for story recommendations – tell us what stories from 2017 you’d love to see discussed, because we’d love to discuss ’em!

(7) 70TH EASTERCON. Last weekend the bid for Ytterbium was chosen to host the 2019 British Eastercon over the Easter weekend, April 19-22 at the Park Inn, Heathrow.

The Guests of Honour will be Frances Hardinge, Sydney Padua, John Scalzi, and DC.

Follow them here on Facebook.

And if someone is willing to alleviate my ignorance of who DC is, please do!

(8) KAYMAR. Congratulations to long-time fan John Thiel on winning the N3F’s Kaymar Award for 2017.

The Kaymar Award is given in April every year, supposedly because the [National Fantasy Fan Federation] was organized in the month of April. The award, unlike other awards in fandom, can only be awarded once to a single person. It is not given for talent or for popularity, but for work — work for the benefit of the club and its members. The award is a memorial to K. Martin Carlson [1904-1986], who originated, maintained, and financed it for 25 years. Carlson was a long-time N3F member who held many positions in the club, including club historian. He went by the fan name of Kaymar

(9) LOST LOSS LEADER. For a mere $29,000 you can own a Lost In Space B-9 Robot 3rd Season Ultimate Prop Replica. (Though wouldn’t you think you could get the original for that much money?)

This B9 Robot was given the privilege to appear at the “50th Anniversary of Lost in Space” at the Hollywood show in Los Angeles. It also held a private exclusive photo shoot with the cast along with their signatures. Photo’s and video will be made available as part of this sale.

3rd season version (paint & finish as seen in the final season)

Functioning Components:

– Lots of Sound FX and Dialogue from the series!
– This Robot has a 6 channel remote control that works 5 motors.
– The Robot will come to life at your control and you can impress family and friends.
– It has dual arm & claw extensions that will open and close, move forward and back.
– The Robot has a rotating torso, entire functions may be used at same time to bring the Robot to life.

(10) TANGLED UP IN BLUE. Some say they were creeped out by the commercial for ”Pandora: The World of Avatar”, which opens May 27 at Walt Disney World in Florida.

To others, Avatar feels like a distant memory now, but according to Polygon

It may seem strange for an Avatar-themed park to be opening in 2017, but the Avatar franchise is far from over. Last April, Fox confirmed Cameron would direct Avatar 2, Avatar 3, Avatar 4 and Avatar 5 over the course of the next six years, with the final movie expected to be released around Christmas 2023. Avatar 2, the sequel to Cameron’s box office-breaking 2009 film, will be released around Christmas 2018.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

The object in the water was not a form of marine life. It was a toy submarine outfitted with a sea-serpent head. This was revealed in 1994 when Christian Spurling, before his death at the age of 90, confessed to his involvement in a plot to create the famous Surgeon’s Photo, a plot that involved both Marmaduke Wetherell and Colonel Wilson.

  • April 19, 1987 — The first television appearance of The Simpsons — Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie — aired during the third episode of The Tracey Ullman Show.

(12) RESONANCE IMAGERY. Justira at Lady Business undertakes a deep. politically-based critique of two works in “Flawed Protagonists, Reader Discomfort, and the Semiotics of the Self: ‘Borderline’ & ‘White Tears’”.

…So let’s return to Millie before we move on to Seth and White Tears. One of Millie’s defining traits as a protagonist, when it comes to my reading experience, is that she made me uncomfortable, brought me discomfort. Sometimes this was the simple discomfort of a protagonist doing an obviously bad thing. That’s relatively was easy to deal with. But sometimes it was the book making a point. Let’s take Millie’s self-consciousness about her racism — that made me uncomfortable, too. Millie will form some negative impression of a character and then wonder, it’s not because he’s a POC, is it? Or, conversely, Millie will desire a POC in a pretty… shall we say, colour-coded way. This, she was less self-conscious about, but juxtaposed with the flip side of her racism, it seemed obvious to me. To me, Millie’s experience of this in her own head — am I thinking this because of X-ism? — ran perfectly parallel to my experience as a reader in regards to Millie: am I finding her unlikable in this moment because I’m ableist? This book uses reader discomfort as a tool to achieve a sociopolitical goal, to achieve a certain kind of consciousness, self-consciousness….

(13) SUBMISSION. Elizabeth Nolan Brown’s analysis and opinion, in “Drupal Developer Larry Garfield Ostracized Over Involvement in Sci-Fi Based Kink Community” on Reason’s “Hit and Run” blog, turns out to be about the consequences to an industry leader of being part of a community of “Goreans,” who are devotees of the novels of John Norman. (Amazing to find Gor novels in the news 40 years later.) A lot of the arguments about the interplay of personal rights and membership in communities are familiar from comments on various topics here.

Inc points out that “the deeper question about how much tolerance should be afforded to controversial views is one that has popped up multiple times in open-source communities” in recent years, from Brendan Eich’s removal as CEO of Mozilla over his opinion on same-sex marriage to the drama surrounding LambdaConf’s inclusion of programmer Curtis Yarvin (who runs a neoreactionary blog in his non-professional life).

Buytaert was at first quite explicit on his answer to this question. In a section of his blog post that’s now been deleted, the Drupal head opined that “someone’s belief system inherently influences their actions, in both explicit and subtle ways,” and wrote that he is “unwilling to take this risk going forward” with regard to Garfield’s potential beliefs about sex and gender potentially spilling over into his professional life. And here’s the real rub of it:

Larry’s continued representation of the Drupal project could harm the reputation of the project and cause harm to the Drupal ecosystem. Any further participation in a leadership role implies our community is complicit with and/or endorses these views, which we do not.

Whether Buytaert himself believes that Garfield is a sexist pervert is irrelevant—he’s clearly worried that other people will perceive Garfield as a sexist pervert, and afraid that this will create bad public-relations for Drupal. Rather than practice what he preaches about tolerance, respect, and creating “a culture of open-mindedness toward difference,” Buytaert offered up Garfield for social-justice sacrifice in order to appease prudes and busybodies. Here’s hoping the tech community continues to reject this sort of phony promise of diversity and attempts at inclusiveness through exclusion.

(14) FIRST NATIONS. Take Us to Your Chief and Other Stories: Classic Science Fiction with a Contemporary First Nations Outlook, edited by Drew Hayden Taylor, was released April 11.

A forgotten Haudenosaunee social song beams into the cosmos like a homing beacon for interstellar visitors. A computer learns to feel sadness and grief from the history of atrocities committed against First Nations. A young Native man discovers the secret to time travel in ancient petroglyphs.

Drawing inspiration from science fiction legends like Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury, Drew Hayden Taylor frames classic science-fiction tropes in an Aboriginal perspective.

The nine stories in this collection span all traditional topics of science fiction–from peaceful aliens to hostile invaders; from space travel to time travel; from government conspiracies to connections across generations. Yet Taylor’s First Nations perspective draws fresh parallels, likening the cultural implications of alien contact to those of the arrival of Europeans in the Americas, or highlighting the impossibility of remaining a “good Native” in such an unnatural situation as a space mission.

Infused with Native stories and variously mysterious, magical and humorous, Take Us to Your Chief is the perfect mesh of nostalgically 1950s-esque science fiction with modern First Nations discourse.

(15) SENSE OF WONDER. John Joseph Adams’ Cosmic Powers anthology was released April 18 – cover by Chris Foss.

“Inspired by movies like The Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Wars, this anthology features brand-new epic stories from some of science fiction’s best authors.  For fans who want a little less science and a lot more action.”

Table of Contents

A Temporary Embarrassment in Spacetime  —  Charlie Jane Anders
Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance  —  Tobias S. Buckell
The Deckhand, the Nova Blade, and the Thrice-Sung Texts  —  Becky Chambers
The Sighted Watchmaker  —  Vylar Kaftan
Infinite Love Engine  —  Joseph Allen Hill
Unfamiliar Gods  —  Adam-Troy Castro, with Judi B. Castro
Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World  —  Caroline M. Yoachim
Our Specialty is Xenogeology  —  Alan Dean Foster
Golden Ring  —  Karl Schroeder
Tomorrow When We See the Sun  —  A. Merc Rustad
Bring the Kids and Revisit the Past at the Traveling Retro Funfair  !—  Seanan McGuire
The Dragon that Flew Out of the Sun  —  Aliette De Bodard
Diamond and the World Breaker  —  Linda Nagata
The Chameleon’s Gloves  —  Yoon Ha Lee
The Universe, Sung in Stars  —  Kat Howard
Wakening Ouroboros  —  Jack Campbell
Warped Passages  —  Kameron Hurley
The Frost Giant’s Data  —  Dan Abnett

(16) VERNE DISCOVERY. Mysterious Universe says a Jules Verne time capsule has been found after researchers analyzed hints about its location on his tomb.

So far, the box has only been examined with X-rays and, unfortunately, it and the materials inside show deterioration from being buried since the late 1800s – Verne died on March 24, 1905. According to Paris Descartes University Field Archaeologist Elouan Beauséjour, the papers appear damp and crumbling and the engravings on the inside of the box are nearly illegible. Other things that can be identified include books and metal objects. Beauséjour says the examination has moved to a more detailed phase that may involve opening the box in a sterile and preservative environment. He plans to issue a statement as this progresses.

(17) CAPITAL INFUSION. Not quite another The Leaky Establishment reference, but some unexpected people are getting into nuclear power: “British reality star building a fusion reactor”.

Although it would be easy to dismiss Dinan as a dreamer, his startup Applied Fusion Systems is one of a growing number of firms investing in the promise of fusion. In the UK alone, there are at least two other companies trying to produce commercial nuclear fusion power stations. And as BBC Future reported last year, in the US, several projects have received the backing of wealthy technology billionaires including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel and former Google vice president Mike Cassidy.

(18) COOL BEANS. And a lab demo of “negative mass”.

Prof Peter Engels, from Washington State University (WSU), and colleagues cooled rubidium atoms to just above the temperature of absolute zero (close to -273C), creating what’s known as a Bose-Einstein condensate.

In this state, particles move extremely slowly, and following behaviour predicted by quantum mechanics, acting like waves.

They also synchronise and move together in what’s known as a superfluid, which flows without losing energy.

To create the conditions for negative mass, the researchers used lasers to trap the rubidium atoms and to kick them back and forth, changing the way they spin.

When the atoms were released from the laser trap, they expanded, with some displaying negative mass.

“With negative mass, if you push something, it accelerates toward you,” said co-author Michael Forbes, assistant professor of physics at WSU.

He added: “It looks like the rubidium hits an invisible wall.”

(19) SHIRLEY YOU JEST. When John Hertz cast his eye on the new Shirley Jackson bio Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin (a Stoker nominee) this is what he discovered –

I turned to the index and found no entry for “One Ordinary Day, with Peanuts”. Various other works of hers were listed.

I haven’t read the book so can’t say if the story is included in the text and merely omitted from the index, or left out entirely.

Opinions differ as to whether it’s a horror story. I don’t think it is, but I do think it wonderful.

(20) FIRST PAST THE POST. Camestros Felapton rates “Hugo 2017: Best Dramatic Presentation Short”. Did that nominee we have already read Camestros raving about come in number one on his ballot? Well, yes!

(21) FURTHER DELIBERATIONS. More reviews from the Shadow Clarke jury – the hardest-working critics on the planet! Superb writers, too.

Empire V is about vampires, which is probably guaranteed to turn away many readers who could happily go the rest of their lives without seeing another vampire. The figure of the vampire has by this point been made to stand in for so many disparate things—the sexual predator, the romantic outsider, the lonely immortal, the feral beast, whatever—that the image feels quite emptied of meaning in itself. Merely knowing that there are vampires in a story no longer tells us anything useful about it. At best, one might make two safe guesses: one, that the story is not going to be about vampirism as such; two, that the vampires will be in some way a fringe element to society.

The first three books on my Sharke shortlist were an unabashed joy to me. Valente, Tidhar and Jemisin all delivered to my personal tastes in terms of prose, character and moral tone. I picked those books because I thought they would push my buttons and they did. I felt minimal friction while reading them or writing about them. Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee was and is a different animal altogether; a book that I found challenging, elusive, tantalising and frustratingly obtuse by turns. This is unsurprising. I’m a historian and a medievalist by training, so military SF predicated on advanced mathematics is always going to test my limits. After 30 pages of immersion in Lee’s world I found myself entirely at a loss for what the hell was going on. My paradigmatic understanding of how things work smacked into the world of the novel at high speed. Stuff exploded, characters were killed, geocide was committed and I was left feebly grasping at threads as they whipped past me. I might have given up on the book in discombobulated despair if not for the muscular grip of the writing:

Hunters & Collectors is a book about celebrity and the way that online celebrity interacts with social class. Tomahawk presents himself as this hedonistic and transgressive figure but as his destruction suggests, his ability to transgress the rules of polite society is constrained by a particular social contract: As a critic, he can express himself as honestly as he wants as long as that self-expression does not extend beyond the realms of consumer advice to a critique of existing power structures and social systems. Be as rude as you like about restaurant owners, but don’t you dare talk about the government. The social contract also has an – unwritten but understood – rule that your celebrity and popularity are entirely dependent upon your ability to face the right direction at all times. Be as rude as you like about the out-group, but don’t you dare talk about people we aspire to be lest we turn against you. There is also an understanding that making any statement in public (even anonymously) positions you in a world where everyone spends their time tearing each other to pieces. Face the wrong direction and your support will evaporate and once your support evaporates, you can be utterly destroyed even if you have not done or said anything wrong. This is a dog-eat-dog world but only for those without any real power.

What I know as the Ashmolean Museum is, in Kavenna’s Oxford, the Tradescantian Ark, reflecting the fact that the collection Elias Ashmole gave to Oxford University was in part composed of John Tradescant the Younger’s collection of artefacts, known as the Ark, which he gave to Ashmole (or, depending on who you listen to, which Ashmole swindled him out of). So, perhaps we are in an Oxford which is less a ‘home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names, and impossible loyalties’, as Matthew Arnold memorably described it, and instead a place where potential wrongs have been righted even before they were committed, and Jeremiah Tradescant’s ownership of his family’s remarkable collection is justly celebrated. Perhaps, but rather as light is both particle and wave, so wrongs can be righted even as the lost causes and forsaken beliefs persist.

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Pixel Scroll 2/19/16 The Fifth Editor

(1) LONGEST EVER 1-HOUR EPISODE. A Kickstarter is raising $15,000 to produce “A Skyboat Audiobook of Harlan Ellison’s Star Trek Teleplay”.

On the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the launching of Star Trek – the Original Series, we want to make the FIRST-TIME-EVER, 6-hour AUDIOBOOK, full-cast version of Harlan Ellison’s book THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER.

To clarify, this book contains Harlan Ellison’s original teleplay; NOT the one eventually filmed. This is the episode which won the Writers’ Guild Award for best dramatic hour-long script. The filmed teleplay also won Harlan a Hugo Award. The book also contains Harlan’s Essay on the controversy backstory, and several tributes from his colleagues.

Roles will be voiced by LeVar Burton, John Rubinstein (a Tony Award winner, as Captain Kirk), Scott Brick, Jean Smart (Emmy Award winner as Edith Keeler), Harlan Ellison, Stefan Rudnicki, J. Paul Boehmer, Richard McGonagle, David Gerrold, D.C. Fontana, Richard Gilliland, Jim Meskimen, Orson Scott Card, and Robert Forster.

In addition, Harlan Ellison has narrated his essay describing the before, during, and after of the controversy surrounding the episode, which has been voted as the most beloved episode of the Star Trek® series. It also includes:

  • Harlan’s rewrite of the Prologue and Act One to eliminate the controversial “Jewels of Sound” drug-dealing elements that the censors and powers-that-were objected to at the time,
  • plus two screenplay treatments written by Harlan,
  • and tribute essays from authors and colleagues who-were-there.

Gabrielle de Cuir also has an article on the Kickstarter page detailing the many differences between Ellison’s original script and the aired episode which include —

The original opening sequences contain the “Jewels of Sound” subplot that was so controversial at the time, and eventually was eradicated from the teleplay altogether. We have several characters in this version that did not appear in the final: the villains Beckwith and LeBeque, the iconic Trooper (the Verdun veteran) and a delightfully surly Cook.

(2) CLAGS WORKSHOP. CLAGS: Center for LGBTQ Studies in New York City will host “Sci-Fi Alien(ation): Diversity Under Attack, Racism, Homophobia, & Sexism at Hugo Awards & Beyond” on April 8, 2016.

A panel discussion of scholars and science fiction authors including André Carrington, Jennifer Marie Brissett, Craig Laurance Gidney dissect racism, homophobia, and sexism in the world of sci-fi publishing and fandom in general, and the highly-publicized hate campaign at the 2015 Hugo Awards.  A group calling itself the “Sad Puppies” gamed the voting system to assure that most award nominees were white, male, and straight, voicing public statements about gay, black, and women’s themes and authors ruining the genre.  Many non-white, queer, and women authors have received rape threats and death threats in association with this campaign.  This episode mirrors “gamer-gate,” where similar rape and death threats against women in the video game industry who have complained about sexism.

In contrast to GamerGate, which had all of the following things, during last year’s Hugo controversy I did not hear about: people fleeing their homes in response to threats, calling the police for protection (Crazy Uncle Lou, though, did try to get the police to screw Sasquan), filing for restraining orders, and being stalked at con panels by hostile bloggers. The things that happened were bad enough – and some Puppies assuredly tried to interest GamerGaters in getting involved. Hopefully the actual workshop will stick to valid parallels between the two controversies.

(3) BUILDING A RABBIT HOLE. Publishers Weekly tells why the owners of Kansas City’s The Reading Reptile are leaving that business in “Kansas City Booksellers Launching ‘World’s First Explorastorium”.

Kansas City booksellers Pete Cowdin and Deb Pettid, who have owned The Reading Reptile for more than 25 years, intend to close the bookstore Pettid founded in 1988 by the end of March so that they can develop “the world’s first explorastorium,” a project that they have been conceptualizing for the past year. The proposed museum, modeled upon San Francisco’s Exploratorium and St. Louis’s City Museum, and called The Rabbit Hole in homage to Alice in Wonderland, will allow visitors to physically immerse themselves in the narratives of beloved children’s books through interactive exhibits and galleries. There will also be regularly scheduled presentations and workshops led by touring authors and illustrators to complement the full-scale 3-D installations, which will change every three or four months.

explo COMP

The mission of The Rabbit Hole, which is being set up as a nonprofit, is to “create new readers on an unprecedented scale” in a world where “only around 50% of parents read aloud to their kids on a regular basis.”

A prototype of one component of The Rabbit Hole has been installed in a temporary leased space in Kansas City’s Crossroads neighborhood. The prototype is a full-scale, walk-through exhibit bringing to life The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau by Jon Agee, who has assisted the Rabbit Hole team in creating it. The grand opening of this Rabbit Hole prototype will be held on April 9.

(4) THOSE BRONZE AGE SOPHISTICATES. Photos and a videos accompany the BBC article “Bronze Age wheel at ‘British Pompeii’ Must Farm an ‘unprecedented find’”.

“The existence of this wheel expands our understanding of Late Bronze Age technology, and the level of sophistication of the lives of people living on the edge of the Fens 3,000 years ago.”

(5) THE ICELAND CON COMETH. Fans in Iceland have plans to launch a new convention this year.

Icecon 2016 is a science fiction and fantasy fan convention that will be held in the heart of Reykjavík, Iceland, this fall. On the 28th to the 30th of October, Iðnó theatre ( idno.is) will be filled with the fantastic.

There will be panels, readings, a Halloween masquerade and other events.

Information on registration, membership fee, guests of honour, program and accommodation coming soon. All information will be posted on this event-page and a forthcoming homepage. Any interested parties can also email us at icecon2016(at) gmail.com

Icecon 2016 is supported by Reykjavik UNESCO City of Literature ( bokmenntaborgin.is/en/)

(6) DREAM DESTINATIONS. I mentioned the NASA space travel posters before, however, this particular webpage displays the entire collection as large thumbnails, and also has a link to the JPL store if you want to order a literal printed poster.

(7) UNDERGROUND REVOLUTION. The Society of Illustrators in New York City will exhibit “The ZAP Show: A Cultural Revolution” from March 2-May 7 on the main floor.

No one could have known that when struggling illustrator R. Crumb self-published Zap Comix #1 in 1968 and began hawking copies in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district, history would be made. By the arrival of issue #4 (1969) and Crumb’s Zap collective (S. Clay Wilson, Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffiin, Gilbert Shelton, Robert Williams, and Spain Rodriguez) fully formed, the artists had broken every Comics Code taboo imaginable — and then some. Zap spawned an entire underground comix industry, establishing an adult market for the comics medium that, in turn, set new standards for creators’ rights and ownership that one day would liberate mainstream comic books from the tyrannical grip of corporate publishers, paving the way for literary work by the likes of Art Spiegelman, Lynda Barry, Chris Ware, and Daniel Clowes, among others.

(8) MEYEROWITZ ART DISPLAY. About the same time, the Society of Illustrators will exhibit on the third floor “Rick Meyerowitz in the National Lampoon” from March 1-April 23.

mona%20gorilla

Rick Meyerowitz was a prolific contributor of both artwork and written pieces for National Lampoon from its first issue in 1970 until close to its last in 1991. He collaborated with many of the magazine’s writers on an astonishing variety of topics and themes. Among his most notable works were the “Mona Gorilla” (Mona Lisa as a gorilla); “DODOSAURS: The Dinosaurs That  Didn’t Make It” (which he and Henry Beard turned into a 1983 book); the widely recognized poster for the movie Animal House; and most recently, “DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD: The Writers and Artists Who Made The National Lampoon Insanely Great,” published by Abrams as a coffee table size visual history of the Lampoon. A documentary film of the same name was released last year.

(9) NURTURING TALENT. Gregory N. Hullender says Rocket Stack Rank “has a new article comparing the Campbell-eligible writers with the stories we reviewed in 2015 with an eye towards figuring out which editors were the most supporting of new writers in 2015” – “Nurturing New SF Short-Fiction Talent in 2015”.

(10) PLAQUE FOR TONI WEISSKOPF. The National Fantasy Fan Federation has circulated a picture of Toni Weisskopf’s Neffy Award.

(11) HARPER LEE OBIT. Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird, died February 19 at the age of 89.

“This is a sad day for our family. America and the world knew Harper Lee as one of the last century’s most beloved authors,” Hank Conner, Lee’s nephew and a spokesman for the family, said in a statement Friday morning.

“We knew her as Nelle Harper Lee, a loving member of our family, a devoted friend to the many good people who touched her life, and a generous soul in our community and our state. We will miss her dearly.”

Conner’s statement indicated that “Ms. Lee passed away in her sleep early this morning. Her passing was unexpected. She remained in good basic health until her passing.”

(12) A REALLY BIG SANDBOX. The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog knows “How One Mashup Artist Got Legal Permission to Pair Calvin & Hobbes with Dune”.

Calvin & Muad’Dib picked up international attention after a shout-out from io9 in September of 2014, and this attention led to an immediate DMC takedown. But unlike most bloggers, Joe lawyered up.

“I did this because it was clear that I wasn’t profiting in any way from Calvin and Hobbes,” Joe says. “There were no advertisements on my blog, nor did I sell or intend to sell any merchandise or even ask for donations. I felt I had a solid ground to defend myself, and I also happen to believe that most DMCA takedowns are inherently unjust due to the ‘guilty until proven innocent’ nature of DMCA.”

Joe entered into talks with the lawyers of Calvin & Hobbes’ publisher. Though he never spoke directly to Watterson, he did succeed in his goal: Calvin & Muad’Dib went back up six months later, in February of 2014.

“We worked out a licensing deal where I could continue to make comics in the way I intended, and the Calvin & Hobbes lawyers could be ensured that abuse of Bill Watterson’s original works would not occur,” Joe says of the discussion. Every comic on his site now comes with a reminder that the mash-up is legit: “Calvin and Hobbes: © and ™ Bill Watterson, used with permission.”

fear is the mindkiller COMP

(15) TWENTIETH CENTURY FANAC. At Amazing Stories, R. Graeme Cameron opens his time capsule: the script of his 1989 talk about fanzines to the Vancouver Public Library.

There exist people who have never earned a penny writing, yet have published thousands, tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of words. They belong to FANDOM. Fandom is something more than merely fans of Science Fiction in its various forms: books, magazines, movies, comic books, etc. Fandom is a mode of behaviour, of attitude, an approach to organized appreciation of Science Fiction which is universal among fans, so that fans as far apart as America and Soviet Russia have enough in common as to establish an immediate rapport should they meet.

People writing for no money! That’ll never catch on… And look who’s one of the people doing it –

FILE 770 is quite a renowned perzine. Mike Glyer has been producing it for a longtime. This is the 77th issue. It’s a kind of NEWSZINE really, reporting on conventions, writers, fan activities, fan feuds, and other fanzines. But it is a one-man operation, so I classify it as a perzine.

(14) ROAD WARRIOR. Someday soon Larry Correia will live at the end of Yard Moose Mountain Road. First he has to build the road. The mountain came built-in….

When we built our current house it was all open fields around us. There were houses near, but we had a little room to breathe. I’m a country boy at heart. I don’t like people all up in my business. We even had a moose come and live in our yard. That’s why we started calling it Yard Moose Mountain. He just kind of camped out under my son’s bedroom window, then he’d wander out and eat our neighbor’s trees, but he never messed with my trees. Good moose.

It was really nice.

Over the last five years our area slowly filled in, until one day I woke up, and realized that rather than living in the country anymore, we were living in a small neighborhood. Sure, it was a nice commuter neighborhood (I’ve got 12 doctors in my ward, no joke) and the people are about as nice as you could possibly ask for, but it was still a neighborhood.  We landscaped and put in a fence for privacy, but it has lost its charm. Add to that, I’d retired from my finance manager job a few years ago to just be a full time author, so I no longer needed to be close enough to the city to commute.

Being a failed D List nobody hack pulp writer with an irreparably damaged career who will never be a *real* author and who can’t even manage to get measly five hundred people to a book signing, my income had still somehow gone up dramatically, but we’d not really changed our standard of living (well, except for more guns and minis, but those don’t count). Plus, because I have a pathological hatred of debt I had been making lots of extra house payments, to the point that I’d knocked 27 years worth of our 30 year mortgage payments out in 5. Because screw debt.

So last year we decided we wanted to move, and this time we were going to move someplace where we’d never have to move again….

(15) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 19, 1985 – The movie Brazil premieres in France, 10 months before opening in the USA.

(16) YOUR SCIENCE QUOTE OF THE DAY. From CNN: “Hubble image: Dormant black hole, in a word, is gargantuan”.

“Black holes don’t suck,” van der Marel said. “That’s a common misconception. Material that happens to be moving in the direction of the black hole falls in because gas has friction that gets eaten [by the black hole]. Once the black hole has eaten all the gas there it can just move on and it will be dormant until it gets another dose of material that it can consume.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Addressee Unknown .]

2015 Kaymar Award

Holly Wilson is the winner of the National Fantasy Fan Federation’s 2015 Kaymar Award. The award is given in recognition of work for the benefit of the N3F and its members.

The award includes a year’s membership in the N3F and a check for $10.

Named after fandom legend K. Martin Carlson (1904-1986), the Kaymar Award has been given every year since 1959. The Kaymar Award is awarded only once to a person. The selection is made by the previous winners who are N3F members.

N3F Franson Award Winner Named

George Phillies has won the Franson Award for 2015, given by the current president of the National Fantasy Fan Federation to a member who has shown outstanding service to the organization. The award is named for former N3F President Donald Franson (1916-2002). Outgoing President David Speakman selected Phillies “for vigorously encouraging David when it seemed needed.”

The announcement was carried in the April 2015 issue of The Fantasy Fan. The same issue called on members to submit nominations for the Neffy, which honors achievements in speculative fiction in the news or traditional media, and for the Kaymar, given for work on behalf of the club.

Art Widner (1917-2015)

Art Widner at the 2008 Corflu. Photo by Alan White.

Art Widner at the 2008 Corflu. Photo by Alan White.

Always ready to help, never a better friend, opinionated, long on experience and wise about fannish weaknesses (even his own), a fascinating storyteller, organizer and party host, Art Widner passed away April 17 at the age of 97.

Widner wrote not long ago that he had prostate cancer, which had spread to his bones, reports Andrew Porter. He had outlived his children, but is survived by several grand-and great-grandchildren.

Art himself lived two complete fan lifetimes, interrupted by a three-decade gafiation.

His first fannish life began when he discovered fandom through the prozines. And that life was characterized by a zeal for fanpolitics and organizing.

“Like so many fen, I was the Old Weird Harold on my block, carrying home those lurid pulp magazines with nubile bimbos on the cover wearing VW hubcap bras – which was remarkable because Volkswagen hadn’t been invented yet,” he told the audience at the 1989 Worldcon’s “Family Reunion.”

As other proto-fans did in the 1930s, he wrote letters to the prozines reviewing their efforts and criticizing their shortcomings – many of them to Weird Tales.

He helped organize “The Stranger Club” in 1940, Boston’s first science fiction club, together with Louis Russell Chauvenet, Chandler Davis, Gertrude Kuslan, Louis Kuslan, Norman Stanley, R.D. Swisher, and others. He chaired  the city’s first two sf conventions, Boskone I (1941) and Boskone II (1942). He published his first fanzine, co-edited with Earl Singleton and Francis Paro, FanFare.

Along with Louis Russell Chauvenet and Damon Knight, he was responsible for the formation of the National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F). Supporting Damon Knight’s call for a national fan organization, Widner wrote in FanFare  in 1940, “The crying need is cooperation among all fans and this seems an impossible situation at present. Fandom should have some sort of united front to put toward the rest of the world, or it will continue to be regarded as just the juvenile goshwowoboyoboy gang.”

Art Widner and Russ Chauvenet at the 1994 Corflu. Photo by Rich Lynch.

Art Widner and Russ Chauvenet at the 1994 Corflu. Photo by Rich Lynch.

He was also one of the big name fans on the board of directors of the Fantasy Foundation announced at the 1946 Worldcon, touted by Forry Ackerman as a museum of imaginative literature.

As a young man Art was reputed to be Built Like A Gorilla. Robert Madle was grateful to have him on hand at the 1941 Worldcon when C.M. Kornbluth was in a violent mood:

He [Kornbluth] was the arrogant one of the group, the one who had a personality like a snake. Not to cut him down his writings, which are very excellent. But he had a peculiar personality. Like there was that night they were going to beat the shit out of me at one of the conventions.

Fortunately I had with me Art Widner. We used to call him Popeye because he had muscle bulging out of his arms. Kornbluth said, “Hey, I’m going to beat the shit out of Madle,” and Widner said, “Who’s going to beat the shit out of who?”

I think that was the Denver convention. Other than that I had no real problems with Kornbluth – other than that night when he decided to beat the shit out of me.

(From C.M. Kornbluth: The Life and Works of a Science Fiction Visionary by Mark Rich.)

He was regarded a member of the Fantasy Amateur Press Association (FAPA) Brain Trust, a colloquial name for those who engaged in weighty discussions. On the other hand, nobody liked a good time better.

Widner featured in the 1940 Worldcon masquerade as Giles Habibula, his costume constructed out of “Pogo’s hat, Trudy Kuslan’s pillow, and an anonymous bartender’s wine bottle.” He returned in 1941 as “Old Granny” from Slan.

But often Art was looking for something beyond simple fun. He is credited with creating the first original science fiction board game, Interplanetary (1943), which he described as —

a combination of a standard [auto] “race” game and Monopoly. One had to get to a planet and bring back a cargo in order to finance a trip to the next distant planet where a still more valuable cargo would be obtained, etc., out to Pluto, which harbored “Immortality Dust,” the game winner. The novel aspect was that the planets moved, making it difficult to land on one, plus such hazards as the “negasphere”. (from EESmith epics–now known as a black hole) and pirates, to say nothing of falling into the sun, getting hit with space junk, etc.

With all these complexities, it took 8-12 hours to complete a game. Using a streamlined set of rules, it became popular with fans again in the 1960s. LASFS still owns a giant Interplanetary board and has hosted games in recent decades.

Art’s literary output was limited to a single prozine sale, “The Perfect Incinerator”, under the name Arthur Lambert, that appeared in a 1942 issue of Robert Lowndes’ Science Fiction Quarterly (priced, appropriately, for a quarter.)

Widner was the most inveterate poll taker in early 1940s fandom. The Widner Poll of 1940 included a list of the top ten science fiction pulps voted on by fans. When a gloating reader pointed out to editor Ray Palmer that not one belonged to Ziff-Davis, which published Palmer’s magazine, he dismissed it, saying that although Widner’s poll may have represented a dozen fans, Ziff-Davis circulation figures showed its magazines represented several hundred thousand readers from all walks of life, all over the world.

A few years later Art launched Poll Cat, chronicled by Jack Speer  in Fancyclopedia I:

Originally it was simply concerned with preferences among stf authors, etc. Appeals were broadcast in all leading fanzines for readers to send in their votes on certain questions, and as returns were compiled, they were published, later returns being published later. Then one issue of a fanzine called The Poll Cat appeared, at which time Widner set out to test the thesis that fans are a separate and distinct type (slans or whatever you want to call them)….Looking for unusual average in fans, Widner found several characteristics that looked significant, such as longevity of grandparents, larger hat size, and greater height….

 Art attended the first Worldcon in New York in 1939, and the next four, in Chicago (1940), Denver (1941), Los Angeles (1946) and Philadelphia (1947).

He drove to the Chicago Worldcon in a 1928 Dodge, the Skylark of WooWoo, the last model made by the Dodge Brothers.

He made an epic cross-country trek to Denvention I — the Widneride — in the FooFoo Special, a car without a trunk, accompanied by “Moneybags Unger, Tree Toad Rothman, Pretty Boy Madle, [and] Sourpuss Bell.”

(Now that Widner has passed away, only four people remain alive who attended the first Worldcon: Dave Kyle, Bob Madle, Erle Korshak and Jack Robins.)

Widner married during World War II, then was drafted into the service. However, because he was “volunteered” to be a technician-guinea pig at the newly formed Climatic Research Lab in Lawrence, MA he still got to go home nearly every weekend.

His fanac slowed while he was in the military and ground to a halt when he moved his family to Los Angeles in 1948. Soon after that he gafiated completely.

Signifying his disappearance from fandom, although Art is constantly mentioned in Warner’s 1940s history All Our Yesterdays, he doesn’t have a single listing in the index of the sequel about the 1950s, A Wealth of Fable.

Widner reappeared in fandom in the 1970s – reminiscing that like Voyager 2 after 10 years he had explored the local system, science fiction fandom, and went to see what lay beyond. “Thirty-five years later I came back to report: it’s pretty lonely out there.” He returned to fandom as an “eo-neo” and bumped into Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden “who knew who I was – or rather, had been.”

Art Widner, Poul Anderson and Charles Burbee at the 1974 Westercon. Photo by Dik Daniels.

Art Widner, Poul Anderson and Charles Burbee at the 1974 Westercon. Photo by Dik Daniels.

His best known fanzine YHOS, first published from 1940 till 1945, resumed publication after a 34 year hiatus and remained a prominent faanish zine into the 1980s and 1990s. (Even Harlan Ellison read it – something Art learned when Harlan phoned his cabin early one morning to take exception to a story Art had run.)

Originally revived as Art’s FAPAzine in 1979, YHOS consisted mainly of personal reminiscences about 1940s fandom and mailing comments.  Then it started to fill out with long travel reports, the kind of thing it was known for in its original incarnation. There was a “special travel issue” about Art’s trip to the ’79 Worldcon in Britain, a report on a trip to China, and another about his visit to Australia.  In time, it took on all the features of a genzine, with a host of original contributions and classic reprints.

Art also visited the Soviet Union in 1978 with a fan tour group that included Forry Ackerman, Joe and Gay Haldeman, Art Widner, Clifton Amsbury and Charles N. Brown.

And he enjoyed sidling up to folks who hadn’t seen him since the 1940s to see if they recognized him:

I believe it was at a Norwescon that I wandered into the SFWA suite and spotted Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm sitting by themselves waiting for something to happen…. We had both changed considerably, and I only recognized him because he was famous and had his picture in Locus. He didn’t recognize me as I sat down nearby. I kept mum and gave him a chance to see past the wrinkles and gray beard, but he apparently decided it wasn’t worth the effort and resumed talking to Kate.

Finally I introduced myself and he cracked up. Turning to Kate, he said, “I’d like to have you meet the guy who helped me start the dumbest organization in all fandom.”

That was the N3F. But when he resumed going to Worldcons Art said he was “quite astonished [to find] that the NFFF was still alive and kicking. Not only that, but the good-hearted fuggheads running the Welcome Room were pathetically eager to induct me into the mysteries of Trufandom about which they didn’t know a blessed thing!”

He attended the first 18 Corflus without a miss. A classic moment at the 2008 edition was Art serenading his fellow eo-fan, Jack Speer, with the first-ever filksong, written by Jack himself.

Although the term “filksong” had yet to be invented, several of these songs were sung at the 1940 Worldcon. Jack created them by setting new lyrics with a science fictional theme to familiar tunes. A snippet of one goes:

We’ll build a tempo-ship
And we’ll take a little trip,
And watch a million years go by.

You can still hear Art Widner’s mellow tones in Bill Mills’ Voice of Fandom podcast #16.

The 2007 Ditto was organized around Art’s 90th birthday and held in his hometown of Gualala, California. “I have never seen that much alcohol in a con suite, maybe even counting Midwestcon,” recalled Hope Leibwoitz in her conreport. “At the birthday party, there were 15 bottles of scotch on the table.” Art was a great fan of good scotch. People toured his eight-sided green-painted house. At one point in the con, Art read the 10 things it took him 90 years to learn, eventually published in Yhos.

He later added a new #3, in “R. Twidner”-style:

It’s specificly directed at the Religiosity Ryt.  ‘Forget John 3:16.  Read Matthew 23’  It’s what Jesus thot of the Philistines, scribes & harisees, i.e., Big Time Hypocrits.

(Michael Ward’s  photos of Art’s 90th Birthday party are online: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, plus Saturday Dinner at St. Orres, Art’s House, a visit to Bowling Ball Beach, and Picturesque Scenes from Gualala, California, and The Breakers Inn.)

Art was a guest of honor at many other conventions: Boskone IV (1945), Noreascon 3 (1989, as part of The Strangers Club), Norwescon VI (1983), Westercon 43 (1990), Minicon 25 (1990), Corflu 16 (1999), Ditto 19 (2007) and twice at BayCon.

A member of First Fandom and the First Fandom Hall of Fame, he was honored with the Big Heart Award in 1989, and in 2001 was selected at Corflu as Past President of the Fan Writers of America for 2000. Along with the other members of The Stranger Club, he was Fan Guest of Honor at Noreascon 3. He was nominated for the 1946 Best Fan Writer Retro Hugo at L.A.con III in 1996. He received a Special Lifetime Achievement Award at Corflu in 2011.

He was voted Down Under Fan Fund delegate in 1991 and attended the Australian NatCon.

Glenn Glazer aptly commemorated Art Widner’s passing with this quote from The Hobbit:

‘No!’ said Thorin. ‘There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.

Freed of the ambitions of his first fannish life, the second time around Art knew exactly how to make this a merrier world. He set a great example for the rest of us.

Update 04/27/2015: Added Jack Robins as a surviving fan who attended the first Worldcon in 1939. Thanks to John Coker III for the correction.

Sally A.Syrjala (1948-2010)

Sally A. Syrjala

Sally A. Syrjala

I learned today via Arthur D. Hlavaty that fanzine fan Sally A. Syrjala passed away in 2010 at the age of 61 after a lengthy illness. Some fans were aware (one signed her memorial page) but this may not be generally known.

Sally was especially active in the National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F), co-editing its publication Tightbeam in 1986-1987 and serving as President in 2008-2009. Her valuable service to the N3F was recognized early with the Kaymar Award in 1983, given for work for the benefit of the club and its members.

She subscribed to File 770 for years and wrote many letters of comment, from which I learned she also was an early Star Wars enthusiast – “Once upon a time I wrote paragraphs on Vader’s transformation and transcendence from the Garden of Eden’s death sentence bestowed from the eating of the Tree of Knowledge” – and kept up an interest in zines that discussed The Empire Strikes Back although she was not pleased with the end of the original trilogy — “the coldness in Return of the Jedi made my interest in SW wane” — and she asserted having no interesting in seeing The Phantom Menace when the second trilogy came out.

Sally belonged to LASFAPA and many other apas over the years.

Her public obituary notes that she was high school valedictorian. She held degrees in accounting, and during her career worked at the Christ Church in Harwich Port, Independence House, Health Education Associates, and Art Waves.

Sally was a member of The First Lutheran Church in West Barnstable. Her many volunteer activities included: Treasurer of Green Cape, Chair of the Friends of Cape Cod Museum of Art, and Secretary of West Barnstable Historical Society. She also was a past trustee of the Massachusetts Archeological Society.

She was predeceased by her husband Edward and sister Helen. She is survived by two other siblings, Victor and Nancy, and their families.

Update 03/13/2015: Corrected memorial tribute link.