Pixel Scroll 2/15/17 Do These Protocol Breeches Make My Throne Look Fat?

(1) RETURN OF INCOME. Jim C. Hines has posted the first results from his annual survey of novelist income.

Gross Income

Let’s start by looking at how much our authors made in 2016 before taxes or expenses. The total ranged from a few dollars to almost five million. Eight novelists made more than a million dollars (before taxes) in 2016.

  • I admit, I was a little surprised by this, and wondered if maybe people were exaggerating or hit an extra zero. Fortunately, the survey also asked for an identifier (name or other) and an email address for anyone who wanted to be informed of the survey results. Looking at who was reporting these numbers, I believe they’re accurate.

Average Income: $114,124

Median Income: $17,000

(I think the median is more useful than the average, here. The average is pulled up significantly by those very successful outliers.)

Much more data, sliced and diced various ways, at the post.

(2) NEW AWARD FOR PAKISTANI SF. The inaugural Salam Award for Imaginative Fiction will be given this year. The new short story award, intended to “promote science fiction and related genres of writing in Pakistan,” is named for Dr. Albus Salam, one of the pioneers of science in Pakistan.

The website’s administrator says some Pakistanis may see pirated copies of sf movies, when it comes to written sf there’s little awareness

I don’t know if science fiction as a genre even exist for Pakistani readers. When you go to book stores, you don’t find any books other than religous ones or text books needed for school curriculum. How can an average reader than get exposure to different genres of writing and specially fiction?

Eligible for the award are original, previously unpublished English-language stories of 10,000 words or less by persons residing in Pakistan, or of Pakistani birth/descent. (The complete guidelines are here.) Entries must be received by July 31.

The winner will receive a cash prize of Rs 50,000, a review by an established literary agent, a review from a professional editor, with the potential for publication by Tor.com.

The award judges for 2017 are sf writers and critics: Jeff VanderMeer, Usman Malik, and Mahvesh Murad.

(3) I LOST ON… Jeopardy! devoted a category to “Sci-Fi Books” on February 14. I only knew the $1,000 question – you’re bound to do better. (The correct reply will display if you scroll over the dollar amount.)

I didn’t get this one despite having read the damn book!

Thomas in this James Dashner sci-fi book awakens being “jerked upward like an old lift in a mine shaft”

(4) NANOWRIMO’S POLITICAL CONSCIOUSNESS. Tom Knighton, in an article for PJ Media headlined “Supposedly Nonpolitical Writers Group Goes Hard Left”, criticizes a message he received from NaNoWriMo .

Unfortunately, the minds behind NaNoWriMo don’t seem to appreciate what that word “apolitical” really means. How do I know?  Because of this email the Internet-based creative writing project sent to its mailing list late last week.

Dear [Name],

As a creative writing nonprofit, we’re not a political organization. We don’t endorse candidates or support any particular party. In an ideal world, we would focus only on empowering people to write.

Yet we find ourselves in a time where people’s ability to tell their stories—and even to safely exist—is at stake….

So while we are not a political organization, we feel moved to take action.

In response to the executive order, as well as any future government efforts that threaten people’s basic freedoms, we will:

Celebrate creativity over apathy, diversity over fear, and productivity over despair.

Welcome all stories and continue to make NaNoWriMo a safe space for all writers.

Advocate for the transformative power of storytelling to connect people and build a better world.

If you have concrete ideas for how we can work toward these goals (or if you have feedback about anything in this message), please share your thoughts.

That wasn’t all. Oh, no, not by any means.  They also took issue with President Trump’s desire to end the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

There are a few things about NaNoWriMo that one must consider before truly understanding the context of the above email.  First, there are no prizes for NaNoWriMo.  “Winners” are basically all who complete a book, and the prize is…well, you wrote a book.  Not insignificant considering how few people who talk about books ever finish one, but that’s about it.

Further, since it is basically an internet writers group/contest, President Trump’s executive order will have precisely zero impact on it.  None.

In short, there’s absolutely no reason for Grant Faulkner to put his name on an email about a piece of political hay that impacts his operation in no way, shape, or form.

The email is more about virtue signaling, a way to tell progressives that NaNoWriMo is with them — and screw the right-leaning members of the email list!  Of course, it’s also possible they couldn’t imagine that anyone on their list actually leans right politically.

(5) THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION. The Shimmer Program has posted Sanfeng’s “Science Fiction in China: 2016 in Review”. I found it an interesting contrast with U.S. society – people generally were happy to hear about President Obama’s tastes as an sf fan, but what if he had announced a plan to co-opt science fiction to further his policies?

SF as National Agenda

Historically, the trajectory of Chinese SF was heavily influenced by top-down political forces at times. Recently it begins to receive continuous and influential support from the governments at all levels. On the one hand, following the tradition of focusing on ‘science’ in science fiction, the government re-emphasizes SF as a useful instrument for popularizing science and improving citizen’s scientific literacy. On the other hand, due to the high popularity and penetration rate of SF media, it is conceivable that the so-called ‘SF industry’ is often adopted in governmental agenda for creative and cultural industry development.

In a central government’s paper regarding promoting citizens’ science literacy issued by State Council in February 2016, it is explicitly stipulated that the government shall support science fiction writing as part of popular science writing. More details were revealed in a later talk given by Han Qide, president of China Association for Science and Technology (CAST), announcing that CAST will set up a national award for SF and host international SF festivals. The story reached the climax when Vice Chairman Li Yuanchao attended 2016 National SF Convention held in September 2016 and gave a speech at the opening ceremony warmly encouraging SF writing.

The post also tells about the 30th anniversary Galaxy Awards, and the inaugural winners of a new set of Chinese sf awards.

At its 30th anniversary, Galaxy Awards were presented on the evening of September 8th. Best Novel was awarded to Dooms Year by He Xi. Three days later, the ceremony of 7th Chinese Nebula Awards was held in National Library of China. The top award Best Novel was awarded to Jiang Bo for Chasing the Shadows and the Lights, which is the final installment of his epic Heart of Galaxy trilogy.

A couple of new SF awards are noteworthy. First ‘Droplet Awards’, named after a powerful and terrifying alien weapon in TBP, were organized by Tecent to call for submission of SF screenplays, comics and short videos. Best Screenplay was awarded to Day after Day by Feng Zhigang and Best Comics to The Innocent City by Yuzhou Muchang. Besides, First ‘Nebula Awards for Chinese SF Films’ were presented at a ceremony held in Chengdu in August 2016. Best SF Movie was given to a 2008 children SF movie CJ7 directed by Stephen Chow. Best SF Short Film was awarded to Waterdrop, a highly praised fan film of TBP, directed and produced by Wang Ren.

The Shimmer Program has also compiled a list of works from China eligible for 2017 Hugo nominations.

(7) TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF, SET A SPELL. Co-Geeking’s Erik Jensen is an American married to a Finn (Eppu) and living in the U.S. He has written a column of advice to fans going to the Worldcon this summer: “How to Helsinki: Concerning Finns”. There are quite a few do’s and don’ts, for example —

DO give people space – Finns expect a lot of it and they will give you a lot of it in return. If you’re talking to a Finn and they back away, don’t chase them. They’re probably not trying to get away from you, they’re just resetting comfortable boundaries. (See previous points.)

DO take your shoes off if you visit a private residence – so you don’t track in dirt that your host then has to clean up. Most Finnish homes have places for taking off and putting on shoes right by the front door….

…DON’T suggest getting together unless you want to make concrete plans – “We should do lunch some time” is just a casual pleasantry in the US. It’s an expression of general good will with no commitment attached. In Finland it is a commitment to future plans and Finns will expect you to follow through.

DON’T make small talk – if you’re in conversation with a Finn and feel like there’s an awkward silence, don’t try to fill it. For most Finns, silence is not awkward at all, but comfortable. The conversation will start again when someone has something to say.

And Eppu has put together an index to cultural resources published by Worldcon 75.

  • “Finland: A Very Short Guide For Your First Trip” (Facebook)
  • “Finland: An Assortment of Notes and Information” (in Progress Report 1)
  • “Finnish Fandom: Some Unique Characteristics” (in Progress Report 1)
  • “Finnish Foods and Where to Find Them” (in Progress Report 3)
  • “Hotels: Understanding the Differences between Countries” (in Progress Report 3)
  • “Non-Fandom Things to Do in Helsinki, If You Have the Time” (in Progress Report 2)
  • “Älä hätäile! Don’t Panic! A Short Guide for Pronouncing Finnish” (in Progress Report 2)

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 15, 1903  — The first Teddy bear goes on sale.

Toy store owner and inventor Morris Michtom places two stuffed bears in his shop window, advertising them as Teddy bears. Michtom had earlier petitioned President Theodore Roosevelt for permission to use his nickname, Teddy. The president agreed and, before long, other toy manufacturers began turning out copies of Michtom’s stuffed bears, which soon became a national childhood institution

  • February 15, 1950 — Walt Disney’s animated feature Cinderella opens in theaters across the United States.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born February 15, 1950 — Matt Groening, cartoonist; creator of The Simpsons.

(10) FORD’S IN HIS FLIVVER. Stephen Baxter has an op-ed in the February 11 Financial Times, “Dude, where’s my flying car?” He looks at flying cars, based on Uber’s announcement that they are launching a flying car development project.  Examining the way flying cars are portrayed in movies from Metropolis through Back To the Future and Thunderbirds Are Go, he concludes that it’s more likely that monorails and electric cabs will be the future’s preferred form of transportation and “flying cars will remain a plaything of the super-rich–and a dream (perhaps in virtual reality) for the rest of us.”

Note – you will probably hit a paywall using the direct link. I was able to access and read the article through a Google search.

(11) LITTLE BUNDLES OF JOY. And maybe not all that little, when you pop for the maximum sized bundle.

Both are limited-time offers.

(12) NEW BIMBO VERSE. Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff continues her Book View Café series with “There’s a Bimbo on the Cover Verse 8: Who Reads Reviews, Anyway?” and a story of the Analog Mafia.

They reviewed my book in Locus magazine.

They reviewed my book in Locus magazine.

The way Mark Kelly synopsized it,

I barely recognized it,

but they reviewed my book in Locus magazine.

True story. In fact, it happened repeatedly with my Analog stories….

(13) ETHICS BEYOND THE STRATOSPHERE. At Dreaming About Other Worlds, Aaron has reviewed Nobody Owns the Moon: The Ethics of Space Exploitation by Tony Milligan.

In Nobody Owns the Moon, Milligan begins his inquiry from the ground up, so to speak, starting with the fundamental question of whether space exploration itself can be ethically justified at all, specifically focusing on whether manned space exploration is justifiable. By starting at such a fundamental level, Milligan indicates that he is going to tackle the questions at hand without presuming that anything is justified. Instead, Milligan works through each issue with as few preconceptions as possible, examining both the arguments for and against the proposition being examined. This can seem frustratingly indecisive at times, because with most questions there is no clear cut answer one way or the other, because there are pros and cons to every position. The end result is that for most such questions, the answer lies in choosing which is the best of a flawed collection of alternatives, not in choosing the one that is clearly correct.

Milligan is also concerned with only dealing with questions that result from actions that are within the realm of possibility. To this end, he spends a fair amount of time examining the question of whether terraforming a planet to be more Earth-like is possible before he gets into the question of whether it is ethical. As he points out, examining a question that could never possibly come to pass is simply idle speculation. To a certain extent, almost all of the questions Milligan addresses in the book are somewhat hypothetical – no one is currently actually mining asteroids or terraforming Mars, but as he outlines in the book, they are all within the realm of reasonable possibility, and thus it is worthwhile to consider their the ethical implications.

(14) FIXING THE SCIENCE IN SCIENCE FICTION. Joe Stech, of Compelling SF, asks you to help him decide which of his guidelines to work on first.

Every so often I receive engaging story submissions that have wonderful writing and great human elements, but contain clearly implausible science. This can pull readers out of the story and potentially mar an otherwise excellent work.

I’ve been thinking about working with scientists to create a series of writer’s guides to help with this pain point, and I was hoping you could help me out by letting me know which subjects you’d find most useful in such a series. The idea is that we’d provide a general overview of the topic and then give some specific tips regarding common misconceptions that we’ve seen. If you have a moment please let me know what you think via the following survey:

A Survey About Science Fiction Writer’s Guides

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfoME88hE2nuDpuX9JZKsl9GSL-8lRYbBux2phjdwsSDtxMVg/viewform?c=0&w=1

Feel free to share the survey link with others that might have an interest.

(15) CHURCHILL’S LOST ESSAY ABOUT ALIENS. An unpublished essay by Winston Churchill about the possibility of life on other worlds is the subject of an article by Mario Livio in the latest issue of Nature. According to the BBC:

The document was uncovered in the National Churchill Museum in Fulton, Missouri, by the institution’s new director Timothy Riley….

Churchill was a prolific writer: in the 1920s and 30s, he penned popular science essays on topics as diverse as evolution and fusion power. Mr Riley, director of the Churchill Museum, believes the essay on alien life was written at the former prime minister’s home in Chartwell in 1939, before World War II broke out.

It may have been informed by conversations with the wartime leader’s friend, Lindemann, who was a physicist, and might have been intended for publication in the News of the World newspaper.

It was also written soon after the 1938 US radio broadcast by Orson Welles dramatising The War of the Worlds by HG Wells. The radio programme sparked a panic when it was mistaken by some listeners for a real news report about the invasion of Earth by Martians.

Dr Livio told BBC News that there were no firm plans to publish the article because of issues surrounding the copyright. However, he said the Churchill Museum was working to resolve these.

(16) SAME BAT CHANNEL, NOT SAME BAT. Carl Slaughter sent a link to “The Evolution of Batman in Television and Film, 1943 – 2016.”

(17) THE GOOD STUFF. Aliette de Bodard has put up her awards eligibility and recommendations post.

I feel like I should start with the usual call to action/disclaimer: if you’re eligible to vote for any of the awards (Nebulas/Hugos/etc.), then please do so, even if you felt you haven’t read enough. It’s a big field and few people can claim to have read everything that came out last year–and generally the people who recuse themselves from voting tend to be marginalised folks, which skews ballots. So please please vote?

Here is an excerpt from her recommendations.

Novelettes

I enjoyed Fran Wilde’s JEWEL AND HER LAPIDARY: set in a universe where gems hold magic but can drive people mad, JEWEL concerns itself with the fall of that kingdom, and the desperate straits in which it leaves its princess and her companion. This is a heart wrenching tale of power, friendship, and two women’s struggle to survive.

Marjorie Liu’s “The Briar and the Rose” (which I suspect is a novelette, from Navah Wolfe’s and Dominik Parisien’s The Starlit Wood) is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty with a twist: a swordswoman falls in love with Rose–but Rose is only herself one day of the week, when the witch who occupies her body has to rest… I loved the characters and their relationship, and the quest undertaken by the swordswoman to free Rose.

Alyssa Wong’s “You’ll Surely Drown Here if You Stay”: a weird Western with a lovely friendship at its core, a tale of the desert, magic, belonging, and the weight of the dead. Definitely sticks in the mind.

Christopher Kastensmidt’s Elephant and Macaw Banner is sword and muskets set in colonial Brazil, following the adventures of Gerard van Oost and Oludara in a land filled with strange creatures. It’s a series of linked novelettes (with gorgeous cover art), and it’s great fun. Two volumes came out last year: A Torrential Complication and A Tumultuous Convergence.

(18) SIRI. In “The Voice (Siri)–a 48 hr film” on Vimeo, Yonatan Tal imagines what Siri would do if confronted with too many inane questions, including knock-knock jokes and “Where can I get some drugs?”

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Steven H Silver, JJ, Mark-kitteh, Joe H., Peter J, John M. Cowan, John King Tarpinian, Aaron, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Dawn Incognito.]

NaNoWriMo 2016

By Gregory N. Hullender: What Is NaNoWriMo?

Every November since 1999, hundreds of thousands of people have spent the month of November attempting to write a complete 50,000-word novel in just thirty days. Participation may reach half a million this year. It’s free, there are no judges, and there are no prizes other than what you learn in the process and your own satisfaction at finishing. That’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). You can sign up now http://nanowrimo.org/ and start writing on November 1.

National Novel Writing Month logo“No judges” means the whole thing is on the honor system. You’re supposed to start from scratch—not merely wrap up something that already has 40,000 words—and you’re supposed to submit your own work—not feed random garbage into the word-counting app. It’s best thought of as a motivational aide, not a contest.

As you write, you copy/paste your text so far onto a web page that counts the words for you and updates your total. (It discards the text, so there’s no worry about anyone stealing your work.) You should do this at least once a day. It then updates your totals and reports whether you’re on track or not.

The NaNoWriMo site encourages you to share your experience with friends, neighbors, co-workers, and relatives. There are a number of widgets you can post on Facebook or Twitter to share your word-count info and progress estimates. The idea is that you’ll make yourself work harder rather than be humiliated in front of all those people.

A lot of the fun comes from interacting with other authors. The NaNoWriMo site has forums covering every imaginable topic around novel writing, and it’s very easy to spend hours just asking questions, reading answers, and writing your own answers. (But this doesn’t count toward your 50,000 words, of course.)

Forum participation is a good way to find a few “writing buddies.” Your friends and family will get bored with you talking about NaNoWriMo pretty fast, but your writing buddies will be happy to cheer you on every day for the whole month. Some may even become friends for real.

NaNoWriMo FAQ

I “won” NaNoWriMo in 2012. Here are some things that worked for me:

I devoted an hour or two every evening to writing, and I didn’t let anything preempt that time.

I started with a really rough outline of what would happen. I never prepared a proper outline, but I started off knowing how it would end. That doesn’t mean that’s how it actually did end, but at every point, I thought I knew how it would end.

Every few days, I’d spend 15 minutes or so making a rough outline of the next few chapters or scenes. The rest of my writing time was spent filling those in.

I (almost) never went back to revise. The story had to move forward. The one exception cost almost a whole day’s work, but I’d written myself into a corner, so I didn’t have much choice. Obviously you can’t afford to do that more than once or twice.

I didn’t allow myself to browse the forums until after I’d already made that day’s quota of words. It’s very easy to spend hours in the forums if you’re not careful. For example, partly in response to numerous relativity questions, I wrote a whole relativity calculator. http://gregsspacecalculations.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html That probably used up as much time as a week of writing, but using it as a reward for meeting the day’s writing quota meant it didn’t hurt me.

I never attended any of the in-person events that NaNoWriMo schedules in major cities, but some people find it works for them to spend an hour or two writing in a room with other people followed by socializing afterwards.

I think most people have fun and learn a lot about writing, even if they don’t get a publishable work out of it. It’s very cool to be able to tell people “I’ve written an SF novel. I never published it, but I did write one from beginning to end.”

The big payoff is when you hit that 50,000-word number and your stats page shows you as a winner. Almost as good as when you write “The End” a day or two later.

NaNoWriMo 2016 Press Release http://d1lj9l30x2igqs.cloudfront.net/nano-2013/files/2016/10/PressRelease2016v5.pdf

Frankenstein Bicentennial Dare

Arizona State University and several cooperating organizations have launched the Frankenstein Bicentennial Dare, a pair of contests which challenge authors to write new fiction and nonfiction stories about creators and their creations, science and society, and monstrosity.

In June 1816, Mary Shelley and a group of fellow writers challenged each other to tell a scary story. In the wee hours of June 16, Mary was woken by a nightmare that became the foundation for Frankenstein, a novel that continues to shape perspectives on contemporary scientific breakthroughs. Today, the Frankenstein Bicentennial Dare competition will replicate that original challenge, inspiring amateur and professional writers to reflect on questions of science, ethics, creativity, and responsibility.

As the ASU website says: “Frankenstein writing contest seeks to reanimate the conversation of science and responsibility”.

Frankenstein emerged in a moment of great social and technological change,” said Ed Finn, co-director of ASU’s Frankenstein Bicentennial Project. “Today, via incredible scientific advances, we have the power to create and guide many kinds of life, from genetically engineered organisms to snarky chatbots. We need new, updated myths about creators, creations, and the responsibilities we share for the things we bring into the world.”

SHORT FICTION CONTEST. Entries will be “short and scary tales about unexpected consequences and unintended monstrosities.”

Almost anything that we create can become monstrous: a misinterpreted piece of architecture; a song whose meaning has been misappropriated; a big, but misunderstood idea; or, of course, an actual creature. And in Frankenstein, Shelley teaches us that monstrous does not always mean evil – in fact, creators can prove to be more destructive and inhuman than the things they bring into being

Tell us your story in 1,000 – 1,800 words on Medium.com and use the hashtag #Frankenstein200. Read other #Frankenstein200 stories, and use the recommend button at the bottom of each post for the stories you like. Winners in the short fiction contest will receive personal feedback from Hugo and Sturgeon Award-winning science fiction and fantasy author Elizabeth Bear, as well as a curated selection of classic and contemporary science fiction books and  Frankenstein goodies, courtesy of the NaNoWriMo team.

One submission per author. Submissions must be in English and between 1,000 to 1,800 words. You must follow all Medium Terms of Service, including the Rules.

All entries submitted and tagged as #Frankenstein200 and in compliance with the rules will be considered.

The deadline is July 31, 2016.

Three winners will be selected at random on August 1, 2016.

Each winner receives the following prize package including:

Additionally, one of the three winners, chosen at random, will receive written coaching/feedback from Elizabeth Bear on his or her entry.

Select stories will be featured on Frankenscape, a public geo-storytelling project hosted by ASU’s Frankenstein Bicentennial Project. Stories may also be featured in National Novel Writing Month communications and social media platforms.

Presented by NaNoWriMo and the Chabot Space and Science Center.

ESSAY CONTEST. The nonfiction competition summons authors to “document true stories about the evolving relationships between humanity and technology.”

Essays must be vivid and dramatic; they should combine a strong and compelling narrative with an informative or reflective element and reach beyond a strictly personal experience for some universal or deeper meaning. We’re open to a broad range of interpretations of the “Frankenstein” theme, with the understanding that all works submitted must tell true stories and be factually accurate. Above all, we’re looking for well-written prose, rich with detail and a distinctive voice.

Creative Nonfiction editors and a judge (to be announced) will award $10,000 and publication for Best Essay and two $2,500 prizes and publication for runners-up. All essays submitted will be considered. Winners will be announced in mid-2017, and winning essays will be included in the winter 2018 issue of Creative Nonfiction magazine.

Deadline for submissions: March 20, 2017. For complete guidelines: www.creativenonfiction.org/submissions

FRANKENSTEIN BICENTENNIAL PROJECT. Launched by Drs. David Guston and Ed Finn in 2013, the Frankenstein Bicentennial Project is a global celebration of the bicentennial of the writing and publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, from 2016-2018.

The project uses Frankenstein as a lens to examine the complex relationships between science, technology, ethics, and society. Arizona State University will act as a global hub for a vast array of activities at a wide range of venues, including film festivals, scientific demonstrations, writing and artistic competitions, museum exhibits, scholarly workshops, new books, special issues of magazines and journals, and other cross-platform media experiences.

This video about the Dare was shot in Geneva just miles from where Shelley originally came up with the story.

Pixel Scroll 12/1 Beyond The Wails of Creeps

(1) BANGLESS. In the beginning…there was no beginning?

At Phys.org — “No Big Bang? Quantum equation predicts universe has no beginning”

The universe may have existed forever, according to a new model that applies quantum correction terms to complement Einstein’s theory of general relativity. The model may also account for dark matter and dark energy, resolving multiple problems at once.

The widely accepted age of the , as estimated by , is 13.8 billion years. In the beginning, everything in existence is thought to have occupied a single infinitely dense point, or . Only after this point began to expand in a “Big Bang” did the universe officially begin.

(2) KNOWING YOURSELF. Tobias Buckell supplies fascinating ideas for learning about yourself and your writing in his answer to “How do I know when to trunk my story or novel?”

… I have several writer friends who are what I would call Tinkerers. They write via a method of creating something, then they continue to tinker it into perfection. It’s amazing to watch, and as a result they often have skills for rewriting that are hard to match.

Some, like me, are more Serial Iterators. They do better writing something new, incorporating the lessons of a previous work. They depend on a lifetime of practice and learning. They lean more toward abandoning a project that hasn’t worked to move on….

When I wrote 150 short stories at the start of my career, I abandoned over 100 of them to the trunk. I did this by knowing I was interested in iteration and not interested in trying to rescue them. I had an intuitive sense of how long it would take for me in hours, manpower, to try and rescue a story, versus how many it would take to make a new one. That came with practice, trusted readers opinions being compared to my own impressions of the writing, and editorial feedback. But I am very aware of the fact that I’m not a Tinkerer.

(3) CONNIE AT SASQUAN. She makes everything sound like a good time no matter what. Her nightmare of a hotel was an especially good source of anecdotes — “Connie Willis Sasquan (WorldCon 2015) Report”.

But instead of being taken to rescue on the Carpathia–or even the Hyatt–we were transported to a true shipwreck of a hotel.

It was brand-new and ultramodern, but upon closer examination, it was like those strange nightmare hotels in a “we’re already dead but don’t know it yet” movie. The blinds couldn’t be worked manually, and we couldn’t find any controls. There was no bathtub. The shower closely resembled the one in a high-school locker room, and there was no door between it and the toilet. (I am not making this up.) The clock had no controls for setting an alarm–a call to the front desk revealed that was intentional: “We prefer our clients to call us and request a wake-up call”–and when you turned the room lights off, the bright blue glow from the clock face enveloped the room in Cherenkhov radiation, and there was no way to unplug it. We tried putting a towel and then a pillow over it and ended up having to turn it face-down.

That wasn’t all. If you sat on the edge of the bed or lay too close to the edge, you slid off onto the floor, a phenomenon we got to test later on when we began giving tours of our room to disbelieving friends. “Don’t sit on the end of the bed,” we told them. “You’ll slide off,” and then watched them as they did.

(4) CONNIE PRESENTS THE HUGO. Her blog also posted the full text of “Connie Willis Hugo Presenter Speech 2015”.

… This one year they had these great Hugos, with sort of a modernist sculpture look, a big angled ring of Saturn thing with the rocket ship sticking up through it and marbles representing planets, and brass nuts and bolts and stuff.

They looked great, but they weren’t glued together very well, and by the time Samuel R. Delaney got off the stage, his Hugo was in both hands and his pockets and on the floor, and mine had lost several pieces altogether.

“Did you lose your marbles?” I whispered to Gardner backstage.

“No,” Gardner whispered back in that voice of his that can be heard in the back row, “My balls didn’t fall off, but my toilet seat broke!”

(5) TAFF. Sasquan has donated $2,000 to the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund.

(6) LUNACON. Lunacon’s Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign has ended, 58 people contributed a total of $6,127. The funds will be put to good use to make Lunacon 2016 a success.

(7) BEYOND NaNo. Amanda S. Green, in “NaNo is over. What now?” at Mad Genius Club, helps writers who missed the target deal with their results, and shows how her own experiences have taught her to adjust.

That collective sigh of relief and groan of frustration you heard yesterday came from the hoards of authors who met — or didn’t — their NaNoWriMo goals. Now they are looking at those 50,000 words and wondering what to do with them. Should they put them aside for a bit and then come back to see if they are anywhere close to a book or if they more resemble a cabbage. Others are wondering why they couldn’t meet the deadline and wondering how they can ever be an author if they can’t successfully complete NaNo. Then there are those who know they finished their 50,000 words, that they have a book (of sorts) as a result but aren’t sure it is worth the work they will have to put in to bring it to publishable standards.

All of those reactions — and more — are why I don’t particularly like NaNo. I’ve done it. I’ve failed more often than I’ve successfully concluded it….

I’ll admit, as I already have, that I usually don’t meet my NaNo goals. That’s because I know I can do 50k in a month and don’t adjust the word count. That is when Real Life tends to kick me in the teeth. Whether it is illness, either of me or a family member, or death or something around the house deciding to go MIA, something always seems to happen. It did this year. The difference was that I still managed to not only meet my 50k goal but I exceeded it.

So what was different?…

(8) SF POETRY. Here’s something you don’t see every day – a review of an sf poetry collection. Diane Severson’s “Poetry Review – Much Slower Than Light, C. Clink” at Amazing Stories.

Much Slower Than Light, from Who’s that Coeur? Press is currently in its 7th edition (2014) and is probably quite different than the 2008 6th edition (I don’t have a copy from which to compare); there are 6 poems, as far as I can tell, which have been added since then and the 6th edition apparently had poems dating back to 1984. This is a retrospective collection; representing the best Carolyn Clink has offered us from 1996 through 2014 and is likely to morph again in a few years when Clink has more wonderful poems to call her best. There is an astonishing variety in form and subject and genre. There are only 22 poems in all, but all of them are gems.

(9) HARD SF. Greg Hullender and Rocket Stack Rank investigate the “Health of Hard Science Fiction in 2015 (Short Fiction)”.

Now that 2015 is almost over as far as the Hugos go, we decided to look over all the stories that we or anyone else recommended and see which qualified as hard SF. In particular, we wanted to investigate the following claims:

No one is writing good hard-SF stories anymore.

Hard SF has no variety and keeps reusing old ideas.

Only men write hard SF.

Most hard SF is published in Analog.

Hullender noted in e-mail, “Lots of people talk about the health of hard SF, but I haven’t seen anyone give any actual numbers for it.”

(10) YA SF. At the Guardian, Laxmi Harihan analyzes “Why the time is now for YA speculative fiction”.

I write fantastical, action-adventure. Thrillers, which are sometimes magic realist, and which sometimes borrow from Indian mythology. Oh! And my young heroes are often of Indian origin. So yeah! My brand of YA is not easily classifiable. Imagine my relief when I found I had a home in speculative YA. There are less rules here, so I don’t worry so much about breaking them.

So, then, I wanted to understand what YA speculative fiction really meant in today’s world.

Rysa Walker, author of the Chronos Files YA series told me, “Anything that couldn’t happen in real life is speculative fiction.”

Speculative fiction is, as I found, an umbrella term for fantasy, science fiction, horror, magic realism; everything that falls under “that which can’t really happen or hasn’t happened yet.”

(11) WENDIG AND SCALZI. Chuck Wendig and John Scalzi’s collected tweets form “Star Wars Episode 3.14159: The Awkward Holiday Get-Together” at Whatever.

In which two science fiction authors turn the greatest science fictional saga of all time into… another dysfunctional holiday family dinner.

(12) “Anne Charnock, author of Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind Discusses Taking Risks With Her Writing” at SF Signal.

I admit it. I’m a natural risk taker, though I’ve never been tempted by heli-skiing, free climbing or any other extreme sport. I’m talking about a different kind of risk taking. I’m a stay-at-home writer who taps away in a cosy lair, inventing daredevil strategies for writing projects. My new novel, Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind, is a case in point.

Readers of my first novel, A Calculated Life, were probably expecting me to stay comfortably within the category of science fiction for my second novel. Science fiction offers a huge canvas, one that’s proven irresistible to many mainstream writers. But for my latest novel, Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind, I wanted to crash through the centuries. The story spans over 600 years—from the Renaissance to the twenty-second century. It’s an equal mix of speculative, contemporary, and historical fiction.

(13) SUNBURST AWARD. A “Call for Submissions: The 2016 Sunburst Award” via the SFWA Blog.

The Sunburst Awards, an annual celebration of excellence in Canadian fantastic literature, announces that its 2016 call for submissions is now open.

The Sunburst Awards Society, launched in 2000, annually brings together a varying panel of distinguished jurors to select the best full length work of literature of the fantastic written by a Canadian in both Adult and Young Adult categories. 2016 is also the inaugural year for our short fiction award, for the best short fiction written by a Canadian.

Full submission requirements for all categories are found on the Sunburst Awards website at www.sunburstaward.org/submissions.

Interested publishers and authors are asked to submit entries as early as possible, to provide this year’s jurors sufficient time to read each work. The cut-off date for submissions is January 31, 2016; books and stories received after that date will not be considered.

(14) VANDERMEER WINNERS. Ann and Jeff VanderMeer announced the winners of their Fall Fiction Contest at The Masters Review. (Via SF Site News.)

Winner: “Linger Longer,” by Vincent Masterson

Second Place Story: “Pool People,” by Jen Neale

Third Place Story: “Animalizing,” by Marisela Navarro

Honorable Mentions:

The judges would like to acknowledge “The Lion and the Beauty Queen” by Brenda Peynado and “Linnet’s Gifts” by Zoe Gilbert as the fourth and fifth place stories.

The three winners will be published on their website, and receive $2000, $200, and $100 respectively.

(15) LE GUIN POETRY READINGS. Ursula K. Le Guin will be reading from Late in the Day: Poems 20-10-2014 in Portland, OR at Another Read Through Books on December 17, Powell’s City of Books on January 13, and Broadway Books on February 24.

Late in the Day poems Le Guin

As Le Guin herself states, “science explicates, poetry implicates.” Accordingly, this immersive, tender collection implicates us (in the best sense) in a subjectivity of everyday objects and occurrences. Deceptively simple in form, the poems stand as an invitation both to dive deep and to step outside of ourselves and our common narratives. As readers, we emerge refreshed, having peered underneath cultural constructs toward the necessarily mystical and elemental, no matter how late in the day.

These poems of the last five years are bookended with two short essays, “Deep in Admiration” and “Form, Free Verse, Free Form: Some Thoughts.”

(16) GERROLD DECIDES. From David Gerrold’s extensive analysis of a panel he participated on at Loscon 42 last weekend —

1) I am never going to be on a panel about diversity, feminism, or privilege, ever again. Not because these panels shouldn’t be held or because I don’t like being on them or because they aren’t useful. But because they reveal so much injustice that I come away seething and upset.

1A) I know that I am a beneficiary of privilege. I pass for straight white male. And to the extent that I am not paying attention to it, I am part of the problem.

1B) This is why, for my own sake, I have boiled it down to, “I do not have the right to be arrogant or judgmental. I do not have the right to be disrespectful of anyone. I must treat everyone with courtesy and respect.” Sometimes it’s easy — sometimes it takes a deliberate and conscious effort. (I have become very much aware when my judgments kick in — yes, it’s clever for me to say, “I’m allergic to stupidity, I break out in sarcasm.” But it’s also disrespectful. I know it. I’m working on it.)

(17) CANTINA COLLABORATION. Did you know J.J. Abrams wrote the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Cantina Band Music with Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda? Abrams told the story on last night’s Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

There are also two other clips on the NBC site, “J.J. Abrams broke his back trying to rescue Harrison Ford,” and “J.J. Abrams was afraid to direct Star Wars.”

(18) BOOK LIBERATION. A commenter at Vox Popoli who says he’s sworn off Tor Books was probably surprised to read Vox Day’s response (scroll down to comments).

I myself will not be purchasing, reading, and therefore not voting for anything published by Tor

[VD] Who said anything about purchasing or reading? Never limit your tactical options.

His answer reminded me of the bestseller Steal This Book. Although in that case, it was the author, Abbie Hoffman, who gave his own book that title.

(19) VOX LOGO NEXT? In a different post, Vox added a stinger in his congratulations to a commenter who bragged about being the point of contact for the outfit that does Larry Correia’s logo-etched gun parts.

I’m actually his point of contact at JP, so I’m feeling proud of myself today.

[VD] Good on you. Now tell them that the Supreme Dark Lord wants HIS custom weaponry and it will outsell that of the International Lord of Hate any day.

And it should look far more evil and scary than that.

(20) Not This Day in History

(21) LUCAS EXPLAINS. In a long interview at the Washington Post, George Lucas offers his latest explanation why he re-edited Star War  to make Greedo shoot first.

He also went back to some scenes that had always bothered him, particularly in the 1977 film: When Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is threatened by Greedo, a bounty hunter working for the sluglike gangster Jabba the Hutt, Han reaches for his blaster and shoots Greedo by surprise underneath a cantina table.

In the new version, it is Greedo who shoots first, by a split second. Deeply offended fans saw it as sacrilege; Lucas will probably go to his grave defending it. When Han shot first, he says, it ran counter to “Star Wars’ ” principles.

“Han Solo was going to marry Leia, and you look back and say, ‘Should he be a cold-blooded killer?’ ” Lucas asks. “Because I was thinking mythologically — should he be a cowboy, should he be John Wayne? And I said, ‘Yeah, he should be John Wayne.’ And when you’re John Wayne, you don’t shoot people [first] — you let them have the first shot. It’s a mythological reality that we hope our society pays attention to.”

(22) YOU WERE WARNED. Anyway, back in 2012 Cracked.com warned us there are “4 Things ‘Star Wars’ Fans Need to Accept About George Lucas”.

#4. Because They’re His Damned Movies

An obvious point, but it needs to be stated clearly: Star Wars fans don’t own the Star Wars movies. We just like them. If they get changed and we don’t like them anymore, that’s perfectly cool, because we don’t have to like them anymore. That’s the deal. All sorts of creative works come in multiple editions, director’s cuts, abridged versions, expanded versions. Lucas appears to be far more into this tinkering than other filmmakers, but he’s hardly unique. Take Blade Runner: …

(22) DUELING SPACESHIPS. Millennium Falcon or Starship Enterprise? There is no question as to which space vehicle Neil deGrasse Tyson would choose.

[Thanks to Gregory N. Hullender, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Brian Z., and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Josh Jasper.]

Pixel Scroll 11/30 The Doom That Came to File770

(1) TOLKIEN AT THE PLATE. Pitchers’ faces turn almost gargoyle-like at the moment they deliver the baseball. Major league baseball blog Cut4  decided it would be amusing to match those expressions with melodramatic quotes from Lord of the Rings.

The pitch face. Completely uninhibited, wholly pure. Every pitcher has one. It takes a lot of effort to throw a pitch 90-plus mph, after all, and pitchers can’t exactly worry about what arrangement their features make while trying to hit their spots. And so, the pitch face is one of baseball’s most totally human elements.

Below, some of the best we saw this year. And to explain their greatness, we captioned them with quotes from the only movies as epic as these faces: The Lord of the Rings trilogy….

“A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day.”

pitcher

(2) SWEDISH SF ART. A fine gallery accompanies a brief interview with the artist in The Huffington Post’s, “Sci-Fi Painter Simon Stålenhag Turns The Everyday Into Dystopia”.

One artist working actively to infuse visions of the future into scenes from the present is Simon Stålenhag, whose narrative paintings have recently been collected into a book, thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign. The paintings in Tales from the Loop show children and adolescents traipsing across gray plains, energetic in spite of their glum surroundings. Power lines and radio towers dot the skyline, alongside foreign machines, hefty and ominous.

That Stålenhag’s imagined robots stand beside clusters of desktop computers, scoreboards and hatchbacks makes their existence that much more believable. “Look what we’ve created,” he seems to suggest. “Imagine what else we can create.”

staylenhag art

(3) FERMI PARADOX REDUX. A long time ago there was a famous commercial for a hamburger chain that mainly consisted of an elderly woman interrupting a rival’s ad copy, shouting “Where’s the beef?” The Fermi Paradox has a similar effect on speculations about intelligent life in the universe – and Jim Henley’s new post puts a dent in a favorite corollary — “Fermi Conundrum Redux: The Singularity as Great Big Zero?”

Half the objections come from transhumanist types saying that “We’ll just send our robots” or “mind-uploading” or “frozen genetic material raised by AI nannies” or self-replicating Von Neumann machines etc. – the whole LessWrong kitbag of secular eschatons.

But it occurs to me that all that does is bring those notions into the orbit of the Fermi Conundrum, née Fermi Paradox*. The Conundrum, as we all know, runs, “Where is everybody?” That is, we should see evidence of intelligent life Out There or right here or, if you’re especially cynical, should have been wiped out by another civilization before we even evolved this far, just to be on the safe side. The answer, “Maybe there just aren’t any other intelligent civilizations,” almost has to count as the most probable answer to the conundrum at this point.

(4) NEWITZ BIDS GOODBYE. Today was Annalee Newitz’ last day at io9 and Gizmodo. Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders co-founded io9 in 2008. In “I’m Heading Out to the Black. Farewell, io9 and Gizmodo!” at io9, Newitz announced:

And this is where my path diverges from io9 and Gizmodo. This past year managing both sites taught me that I’m not actually interested in being a manager. I want to write. That’s why I got into the writing business, and that’s what I want to do for the rest of my life. So I’ve accepted a position as tech culture editor at Ars Technica, where I’m excited to be devoting all my time to writing about the cultural impact of technology and science.

Did I mention that change is scary? Actually, it’s terrifying. And amazing. And a fundamental, banal part of being trapped in linear time. Anyone who loves the future, or who looks forward to a tomorrow that’s different from today, has to accept the uncertainties of change. Your Utopian vision might lead you straight to the shithole. But sometimes, your one-year speculative experiment grows into a giant robot that saves humanity from giant monsters. You won’t know until you actually veer off the road you were on, and steal a little plutonium to fuel your dreams.

Newitz says Katie Drummond will carry on Gizmodo.

(5) NaNoWriMo PROGRESS. Misty Massey asks “Did You Win NaNo?”  at Magical Words,

Today is the last day of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, a gloriously insane thirty-days of writing like your head is on fire and your booty is catching. I’ve participated for a whole lot of years now, although I never win, because this kind of writing is just not what I do. Despite having been told time and again that I should just write it all down and fix it later, I can’t. It needs to be as perfect and wonderful as I can manage the first time, so my writing style is Eeyore-slow.  But I still sign on for NaNo every year, just in case.  I managed about 9,000 words. Which, for me, is a stunning achievement.

(6) FAVES. Stephanie Burgis lists her “Favorite MG Novels of 2015”. And lo and behold, Ursula Vernon, you are Number Six…

  1. Castle Hangnail, by Ursula Vernon, is a wickedly funny fantasy novel with a fabulous heroine, and it turned me into a huge Ursula Vernon fan. You can read my full review here.

(7) JESSICA REVIEW. Jim Henley’s post “Jessica Jones (And Her Amazing Friends): A Netflix Original Series” sounds like he’s going to keep watching, if you ask me.

(8) BANGING ON. Larry Correia notifies his readers “JP Enterprises is now offering MHI [Monster Hunter International] and MCB logo AR-15 lower receivers” – a logo etching on a gun part.

I just had a fun thought. While certain other bestselling novelists are writing sanctimonious ignorant tweets bleating for more gun control, Larry Correia offers you custom rifles. 🙂

JP-MHI-1024x867

(9) THE RACK IS BACK. Lou Antonelli made sf and fantasy the dominant genres sold at the Dollar General store in Mount Pleasant, TX, as he explains in “Help the spin rack make a comeback!”

In talking about publishing original fiction [in a 2008 article by Antonelli], [Tom] Doherty mentioned that those paperback spin racks we used to see in stores and pharmacies were often a point of entry for people to the s-f and fantasy genres.

They used to be ubiquitous – those tall, vertical wire racks that you could spin around to see all four sides loaded up with mass market paperbacks. Doherty noted how the consolidation of book distribution had all but eliminated them. He said he hoped the fiction published by Tor.com would serve the same function as a point of entry for new readers in the digital age.

…Now, fast forward two and half years, to the summer of 2011. I was scheduled as a panelist at ArmadilloCon in Austin, and one of the panels was on “Secret History”. The Thursday before the convention I stopped at a local Dollar General in Mount Pleasant to pick up some groceries on the way home from work, and while standing in line, I caught sight of a spin rack.

Yes, Dollar General still believes in the spin rack. I walked over and saw that among the books was a copy of Steven Brust’s “The Paths of the Dead”. While I don’t read high fantasy, I bought the book because Brust was on the panel with me.

The following Sunday afternoon, as the panel on Secret History broke up, I stopped and pulled the book out. I told Steve “you know you are a best-selling author when you’re on the spin rack in the Dollar General in Mount Pleasant, Texas! That means your books are sold EVERYWHERE!”

(10) OUT WITH THE OLD. Jeff Duntemann’s photo of “Samples from the Box of No Return” is like a fannish time capsule.

I’m packing my office closet, and realized that The Box of No Return was overflowing. So in order to exercise my tesselation superpower on it, I had to upend it on my office floor and repack it from scratch.

I hadn’t done that in a very long time.

You may have a Box of No Return. It’s downstairs from the Midwestern Junk Drawer, hidden behind the Jar of Loose Change. It’s for stuff you know damned well you’ll never use again, but simply can’t bring yourself to throw away. A lot of it may be mementos. Some of it is just cool. Most of it could be dumped if you were a braver (and less sentimental) man than I….

There follows a descriptive paragraph of the treasures discovered. And things less that treasured.

I tossed a couple of things, like my SFWA membership badge. SFWA wanted to get rid of me for years for not publishing often enough; I saved them the trouble. Rot in irrelevancy, you dorks; I’m an indie now, and making significant money. Some promo buttons were for products I couldn’t even recall, and they went in the cause of making room. But most of it will go back in the (small) box, and it will all fit, with room to spare for artifacts not yet imagined, much less acquired.

(11) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • Born November 30, 1835 – Mark Twain

  • Born November 30, 1937 – Director Ridley Scott

(12) ONE STARS. Scalzi, Leckie, Rothfuss and others reading various one star reviews out loud.

(13) ABRAMS INTERVIEW. “J.J. Abrams Is Excited for Mothers and Daughters To See Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The Star Wars: The Force Awakens director stopped by Good Morning America on Monday to talk about the upcoming release, and how he’s hoping it won’t just be a “boy’s thing.”

Star Wars was always a boy’s thing,” Abrams said. “I was really hoping this could be a movie that mothers could take their daughters to as well.”

In the interview, Abrams also confirmed that he at first refused the offer to direct the new Star Wars film, saying that it was a franchise he so revered that he “thought it would be better just to go the theater and see it like everyone else.” After talking to producer producer Kathy Kennedy, however, Abrams said the opportunity was “too delicious and too exciting to pass up.”

Video of the GMA interview is at the link.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Paul Weimer, Mark-kitteh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Greg.]

Update 12/01/2015: Corrected the link to Jim Henley’s review of Jessica Jones.

Pixel Scroll 10/28 Trolling Down the Moon

(1) The Galactic Journey blog is written as the day-to-day experiences of an sf fan living 55 years ago. Last week The Traveler covered the final Nixon-Kennedy debate and the first episode of The Twilight Zone’s second season.

Today’s post is inspired by a Mack Reynolds story in the “current” November 1960 issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Really well done.

Science fiction is not prediction.  It is extrapolation.  No one can see the future, but a gifted writer can show you, dramatically, what will happen “if this goes on.”

It’s no surprise that science fiction writing has enjoyed a boom since 1950.  Never has our world been on the brink of so many exciting and dangerous potentialities.  On the positive side: space travel, automation by computers and robots, atomic energy.  On the negative side: pollution, global warming, and atomic annihilation….

On the other side of the coin, we have Mack Reynolds’ Russkies Go Home!, which appeared in this month’s (November 1960) Fantasy and Science Fiction.  Mr. Reynolds reportedly just returned from a trip behind the Iron Curtain, which explains the multitude of Russia-related stories he’s recently turned out.  Clearly, the trip impressed the writer, as the stories all posit a Soviet Union that fulfills Senator Kennedy’s nightmare prophecies by surpassing the United States in prosperity by 1970.

(2) StoryBundle’s 2015 NaNoWriMo Writing Tools Bundle includes Book View Café’s own Brewing Fine Fiction anthology, and two additional guides by BVC members: Writing Horses by Judith Tarr and Writing Fight Scenes by Marie Brennan.

  • The 2015 NaNoWriMo Writing Tools Bundle contains 13 new books on all aspects of writing, from craft, to productivity, to business, to career advice, to specific areas of expertise, designed for novices or experts alike.
  • A second-tier bonus: If you beat the total of $25, you can get 25 total books, all put together by curator and bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson.
  • When you purchase a bundle you can choose to donate to NaNoWriMo itself.

(3) ‘Tis the season. “Witch wins protective order against warlock in Salem court”.

A judge granted a protective order against a warlock on Wednesday, spelling relief for the Salem witch who accused him of harassment.

The two squared off in court before a Salem District Court judge, who granted the protective order to witch priestess Lori Sforza. She had accused self-proclaimed warlock Christian Day of harassing her over the phone and on social media over the past three years.

(4) Sarah A. Hoyt’s “Swallowing A Fly — #2 How to plot” is useful for NaNoWriMo or any of the other 11 months.

To not lose the plot, I invite you to contemplate the little old lady who swallowed a fly.

She swallowed the spider to catch the fly, she swallowed a bird to catch the spider, she swallowed a cat to catch the bird etc.  Note that starting with the original problem (It might help to know that in regency slang at least to swallow a spider was to go deep into debt you can’t escape) she swallows each animal to catch the last — i.e. to try to solve her problem.  And each time her problem gets worse.

Your character, in the same way, starting with a problem on which they act in what has to be a somewhat rational manner (unless it’s one of my refinishing mysteries) and where the result backfires horribly, must engage in attempting ever bigger solutions (to bigger problems) and having them blow up even bigger.

(5) Allen Steele has a comeback for Nancy Fulda’s “What To Expect When You Start An Internet Kerfuffle” at the SFWA Blog.

There is a solution to all this: don’t blog.

Really, you don’t need to do so, regardless of the current conventional wisdom that says a writer must relentlessly promote himself on the web. Quite a few well-established writers don’t, and their literary careers are just fine, thank you. If you visit the bookstore, you won’t find THE COLLECTED BLOGS OF MARK TWAIN or DUNE BLOGGER by Frank Herbert or ASIMOV BLOGS AGAIN, and there may be a reason for this.

And if getting yourself in trouble for your internet posts isn’t reason enough, then consider this: over the years, I’ve noticed that — with very few exceptions — an author’s literary output decreases in inverse proportion with the amount of time and energy he or she spends on the Internet. And no one is going to pay you for what you post on your blog or even care a month or so later…unless it’s something that may adversely effect your literary career.

The Internet is not your friend. So don’t blog.

(6) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • Born October 28, 1951 – Joe R. Lansdale, 10-time Bram Stoker Award winner.

(7) Motherboard airs its outrage that “Someone in Alabama sold a priceless lunar rover for scrap metal”.

During the Apollo missions, NASA only made a handful of lunar rovers. Three of them are still sitting on the surface of the moon. One of them is at the Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. And another was recently smashed into bits in an Alabama junkyard.

According to documents acquired by Motherboard as part of a Freedom of Information Act request, a priceless lunar rover prototype designed for the Apollo missions was sold to a junkyard in Alabama for scrap metal sometime last year. Specific names and details are redacted in the documents, which include internal emails and reports by NASA’s Office of the Inspector General, the agency responsible for investigating and recovering lost and stolen NASA property.

(8) “He had a right to shoot at this drone, and I’m gonna dismiss this charge”, a made-up quote, headlines Eugene Volokh’s latest installment of “The Volokh Conspiracy” for the Washington Post. Kentucky jurisprudence is notorious inside the Beltway, therefore it’s surprising Volokh reaches the end of his column without having made much legal headway against the fellow who shot down a drone flying through his property.

(9) Via Bayou Renaissance Man, another article on model masculinity —

According to Country Life magazine in the UK, a gentleman’s traits include such gems as:

  • Is aware that facial hair is temporary, but a tattoo is permanent
  • Possesses at least one well-made dark suit, one tweed suit and a dinner jacket
  • Avoids lilac socks and polishes his shoes
  • Breaks a relationship face to face
  • Arrives at a meeting five minutes before the agreed time
  • Knows the difference between Glenfiddich and Glenda Jackson
  • Would never own a Chihuahua
  • Can tie his own bow tie
  • Demonstrates that making love is neither a race nor a competition

(10) James H. Burns found a YouTube video of film footage from the costume contest at Phil Seuling’s 1973 Comic Convention, at the Commodore Hotel, in New York. He identified many science fiction friends in the proceedings.

There are just audience shots for the first two minutes, and then footage of the costumed revelers gathered together. That’s the legendary Joan Winston in the midriff baring dress and the star-spangled cape–Joan was the CBS and ABC executive key to helping run the early STAR TREK conventions, who later became an author (and an agent), and also helped contribute to MANY science fiction events. Thomas Anderson, chairman of a Lunacon or two, and a World Fantasy Convention (and another original Trek Con veteran),appears with his girlfriend (were they married yet?) Dana L. Friese (soon to have more fame in fandom as Dana L.F. Anderson) as Elric.  Costume con favorite Angelique Trouvere (aka “Destiny”) is there as Vampirella (with Heidi Saha as the young Vampi).  Long time film actor, and science fiction fan, Teel James Glenn is there as Flash Gordon (and is that Cortland Hull as Ming?) Soon-to-be-veteran comics pro Jack Harris is Two-Face, Patrick Daniel O’Neill hams it up as Captain Marvel Jr…. (Amazngly, Dave Burd,  future cast member the cult TV comedy program THE UNCLE FLOYD SHOW, is also in attendance, as THE T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS’ Dynamo.) The sound kicks in at about 4:05, and then suddenly one is back in July, 1973!  I find this particularly amazing, because I would become friends with many of these folks, just two-and-a-half years later!  (Heck, I’d be helping to run the programming at some of these comic cons, just a little while after that!)  Although I couldn’t spot any familiar faces in the audience, some among the File 770 faithful might be able to recognize someone–and it’s still a great record of just what a comic con crowd often looked like, even during the next d=few seasons.  (The Andersons, and Joanie, perform a skit, at around 10:10.)  It would be interesting who else can identified here, among the costumed cohorts!

 

(11) I’ve heard of The 39 Steps, but this is the first time I have heard of The 75 Steps, although I’ve seen The Exorcist.

For Andrew Huff, lover of horror films, the 75 steps in Washington, D.C., where Father Karras plummets to his death in “The Exorcist” are his Lincoln Memorial. “I go to the steps all the time,” he said, “and when visitors come to Washington, I always take them there.”

All that was missing was a special tourist designation. And on Friday, largely through Mr. Huff’s efforts, that oversight will be rectified. The eerie stairway will be commemorated with an official city plaque — even signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser — declaring them “The Exorcist Steps.”

I wonder where you go in that neighborhood for a nice bowl of pea soup.

(12) Ray Bradbury manuscripts going under the hammer! And some nice artwork. You have until tomorrow to bid on these items in the latest Nate D. Sanders auction.

Bradbury lot COMP

Ray Bradbury Original Typed Manuscripts For “The Women” And “The Shape Of Things” – Also With Letter Signed By Bradbury From 1964

Ray Bradbury typed letter signed, plus two original typed manuscripts, given by Bradbury to Fracisco Porrua, who edited Bradbury’s works for the Spanish language population. Accompanying the typed manuscripts for ”The Women” and ”The Shape of Things”, Bradbury writes to Porrua on 3 March 1964 on his personal stationery: ”…I have no secretary, which means that hundreds of letters which come in during each month must be funneled through my own inadequate hands and sometimes I fall far behind with my correspondence. Forgive me. To help you in your search for stories for R IS FOR ROCKET, I enclose the following science-fantasy stories and weird-fantasy stories…” Bradbury goes on to list 10 stories, including ”The Women” and ”The Shape of Things” and then continues, ”…I believe these stories would give you much to juggle with in reshaping your various titles in the various books…” Bradbury continues, regarding the introduction for ”R Is for Rocket” and writes, ”…I am happy to hear you will soon be making an offer on MACHINERIES OF JOY and THE ANTHEM SPRINTERS…[signed] Ray Bradbury”. Both manuscripts are typed on thin tracing paper which was placed behind regular sheets of paper. ”The Women” is 16 pages and ”The Shape of Things” is 26 pages. Manuscripts and letter measure 8.5” x 11”. Lot is in very good condition.

Minimum Bid: $1,000.

Pooh COMP

Ink and Watercolor Drawing by E.H. Shepard of Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet

Beautifully rendered watercolor and ink drawing of Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet by E.H. Shepard, the illustrator chosen by A.A. Milne to bring his literary characters to life. Here, Shepard draws Pooh and Piglet upon a letter to his agent, allowing the characters to express his feelings of gratitude and joy. In the autograph letter signed, dated 29 February 1932, Shepard thanks his agent for a letter, writing that he has ”done splendidly” and that ”this view is shared by others”. To emphasize his feelings, Shepard draws Winnie-the-Pooh reaching up and Piglet excitedly jumping at his side. Shepard must have been very pleased with his agent, as he very seldom drew his most famous characters; this drawing, done early in the illustrator’s career and just a few years after the Pooh series, is a rare exception. Single page is written from Long Meadow, Guildford. Light uniform toning and mounted to card. Overall in very good to near fine condition. With provenance from Sotheby’s.

Minimum Bid: $50,000

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, David Doering, James H. Burns, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Introduction to National Novel Writing Month

By Greg Hullender: Every November, NaNoWriMo challenges would-be writers to produce an entire 50,000-word novel from scratch in 30 days. It sounds almost impossible, but it can be done, it can be lots of fun, and you can learn a lot in the process.

National Novel Writing Month logoYou’re not supposed to start from something you’ve already partially completed, but the entire thing is on the honor system, so it’s really up to you.

You submit a daily update on your word count so far, and they predict whether you’ll make it or not. More important, they tell you how many words you need to write today to be on track. This turns out to be very motivating.

To give you more motivation, they encourage you to share your experience with friends, neighbors, co-workers, and relatives. They have a number of widgets you can post on Facebook or Twitter to share your word-count info and progress estimates. The idea is that you’ll make yourself work harder rather than be humiliated in front of all those people.

Participants help each other out by answering questions in numerous forums. SF authors seem to ask a lot of questions about relativity and celestial mechanics. E.g. “Can my planet orbit two stars in a figure 8?” (No.)

Forum participation is a good way to find a few “writing buddies.” Your friends and family will get bored with you talking about NaNoWriMo pretty fast, but your writing buddies will be happy to cheer you on every day for the whole month. Some may even become friends for real.

They have a lot of materials for people to study prior to beginning NaNoWriMo, but there’s no requirement to use any of it. http://nanowrimo.org/nano-prep

Some areas even have real-world NaNoWriMo events, where you can chat in person with others about how it’s going. Some events include quiet time when everyone is supposed to be writing.

Different things will work for different people, of course, but a few things worked well for me when I did this in 2012:

I devoted an hour or two every evening to writing, and I didn’t let anything preempt that time.

I started with a really rough outline of what would happen. I never prepared a proper outline, but I started off knowing how it would end. That doesn’t mean that’s how it actually did end, but at every point, I thought I knew how it would end.

Every few days, I’d spend 15 minutes or so making a rough outline of the next few chapters or scenes. The rest of the time I was filling those in.

I (almost) never went back to revise. The story had to move forward.

I didn’t allow myself to browse the forums until after I’d already made that day’s quota of words.

In the end, I think most people have fun and learn a lot about writing, even if they don’t get a publishable work out of it. It’s very cool to be able to tell people “I’ve written an SF novel. I never published it, but I did write one from beginning to end.”

The sense of satisfaction when you hit that 50,000-word number is hard to describe. Almost as good as when you write “The End” a day or two later.

[Greg Hullender is the co-creator of the SF recommendation site, Rocket Stack Rank.]

Pixel Scroll 10/24 The Pixels that Fall on You from Nowhere

(1) Quirk Books has compiled an array of “Bookish Tights and Leggings” now on the market. For example:

ColineDesign Printed Tights

Jane Austen quotes. Emily Dickinson poems. ColineDesign on Etsy also allows you to personalize your tights with any text you want.

Because I could not stop for Death, he kindly gave me these leggings.

We have our eye of Sauron on this map of Middle Earth by BlackMilk Clothing.

If you’re looking to go into fight some Orcs, these sword leggings by Souvrin will keep you battle ready.

 

lotrleggings

(2) John King Tarpinian remembers the neighbors built a fall-out shelter — today it is a wine cellar. Atlas Obscura looks back to the Cold War days in it gallery “Surviving a Nuclear Attack with Spam, and Other Images from Cold War Fallout Shelters”.

During the Cold War, as the arms race between Soviet Russia and the United States escalated, the perceived threat of nuclear attack became increasingly heightened. In response, the U.S. developed procedures to protect its citizens should the worst happen. In 1956, the National Emergency Alarm Repeater—NEAR—warning siren device was implemented to alert citizens to a nuclear attack. Students were drilled in “duck and cover” practices at schools. Books with titles such as Nuclear War Survival Skills were issued. And the only means of protection against radiation in the event of such a catastrophe was a fallout shelter.

Designs for fallout shelters appeared in pamphlets, subway advertisements and displays at civil defense fairs.  President Kennedy even got involved. In September 1961, the same month that the Soviets resumed testing nuclear weapons, Life magazine published a letter from the President advocating the use of fallout shelters. Rather terrifyingly, it was printed over an image of a mushroom cloud.

But that was just one of the many interesting graphical representations of the threat of annihilation. Below, check out our collection of fallout shelter designs and photographs that show just how people in the 1950s and 1960s tried to prepare for the unthinkable.

(3) Last Halloween Curbed posted a fascinating collection of photos of party costumes created by members of the Bauhaus school.

Most people attribute Germany’s Bauhaus school with the following: being on the vanguard of minimalist design, the paring down of architecture to its most essential and non-ornamental elements, and the radical idea that useful objects could also be beautiful. What may be overlooked is the fact that the rigorous design school, founded by modernism’s grandsire Walter Gropius, also put on marvelous costume parties back in the 1920s. If you thought Bauhaus folk were good at designing coffee tables, just have a look at their costumes—as bewitching and sculptural as any other student project, but with an amazing flamboyance not oft ascribed to the movement.

 

escola_bauhaus

(4) M. Harold Page tells how to conquer the NaNoWriMo challenge at Black Gate, with a collection of links to posts filled with his advice. Two examples…

Some Writing Advice That’s Mostly Useless (And Why): The following writing advice is mostly useless — “Work on your motivation,” “Revise, revise, revise,” “Have a chaotic life,” “Just write,” “Know grammar and critical terms,” “Practice skills in isolation.”

World Building Historical Fiction using Military Thinking: Don’t fall down the rabbit hole of research or worldbuilding. Instead use a layered approach, focussing your world building  as you descend from Strategic (villas exist and can be raided for supplies), through Operational (this villa sits on this ground amidst these fields), to Tactical (here is the ground plan of the villa and here are the people guarding it) level.

(5) Timothy Harvey’s “Doctor Who: How To Train Your Time Lord” at SciFi4Me concludes its introduction with a true piece of wisdom:

We don’t watch Doctor Who for history lessons.

It’s an episode recap with the premise —

OK, so if you’ve ever wanted to see what happens when you cross Doctor Who with How to Train Your Dragon, well, here you go.

(6) “10 Alabama actors who had roles in ‘The Twilight Zone’ series”

Day 5 of Kelly Kazek’s “13 Days of Alabama Halloween,” posted each day from Oct. 19-31 featuring an old news item, spooky legend, historical tale or fun list about All Hallow’s Eve.

“The Twilight Zone” TV series was groundbreaking for its time, not only for its spooky and supernatural content but for its social commentary. Twice, the show’s tales featured Alabama. A 1964 episode mentions Birmingham in a morality tale about hatred and the 1983 movie based on the series also references Alabama in a segment that features the Ku Klux Klan.

But the series has other Alabama connections: At least 10 Alabama actors had roles in the original and reboot of “The Twilight Zone” series, including some of the best-known episodes, such as “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.”

(7) Maureen O’Hara passed away October 24. Her resume was light on genre work, but included memorable fantasies like The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Miracle on 34th Street, and Sinbad the Sailor, the latter with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. She never was nominated for a competitive Oscar but received an honorary Academy Award last year.

(8) Many fans are linking to video of a Lenin monument that has been made over as a statue of Darth Vader,  part of the “de-Communization” of Ukraine, and David K.M. Klaus says, “I’m not sure that this is an improvement…!”

People dressed as Chewbacca and Stormtroopers from Star Wars attend the unveiling of the Darth Vader monument in Odessa on Friday. The monument, built around a bronze Lenin statue, is part of Ukraine’s de-communisation legislation which was introduced earlier this year. The Darth Vader character attending the event says that he is happy to be made into a monument while ‘still alive’

(9) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • October 24, 1915 — Bob Kane (cartoonist; co-creator of Batman) was born

(10) I only thought I had never heard of PewDiePie, the most-viewed YouTuber of all-time. Then I read that he does the Let’s Play! videos. My daughter has watched a bunch of those and shown me a couple.

(11) “The most complete picture of the Milky Way ever” explains Gizmodo —

The picture comes from astronomers at Germany’s Ruhr-Universität Bochum. Of course, this wasn’t a simple matter of an instantaneous point-and-click shot. Instead, to get the full spread, researchers spent a full five years taking photos, which they put into a single 46 billion pixel image.

The entire resulting image was so large, that the photo could only be released in sections…

To see the whole thing, Ruhr-Universität Bochum built a special tool where you can scroll through the full image right here.

(12) Actor Richard Benjamin will do a Q&A following a showing of the movie Westworld at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on November 15 at 1 p.m. Presented by Creature Features. Hosted by Geoff Boucher. Tickets $15.

(13) “Shambleau” read aloud by the author C.L. Moore – the audio from a 1980 spoken word record, posted on YouTube.

(14) Via Andrew Liptak at io9 –

Yesterday, word broke that Bryan Fuller was bringing the sci-fi anthology show Amazing Stories back to life. Now, you can watch the entire first season of the original 80s series over on NBC.

(15) Haven’t had enough Star Wars trailer creativity yet? Science Vs. Cinema co-creator James Darling has mashed together the ultimate supercut for Star Wars: The Force Awakens using all three trailers and the Comic-Con BTS reel.

[Thanks to Michael J Walsh, James H. Burns, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]