Pixel Scroll 7/31/16 O You Who Turn The Wheel And Look To Scrollward, Consider Pixel, Who Was Once Handsome And Tall As You

(1) IT IS THE END MY FRIEND. My daughter went to the midnight Cursed Child book launch at her local store. She’d keep buying Potter novels if Rowling would keep writing them, but that is not in the works — “J.K. Rowling Says ‘Cursed Child’ Is the Last Harry Potter Story: ‘Harry Is Done Now’”.

The author, 51, spoke at the opening night of the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child stage play in London’s West End theatre district on Saturday, July 30, where she told fans that she’s finished with the series.

“[Harry] goes on a very big journey during these two plays and then, yeah, I think we’re done,” Rowling told Reuters on Saturday night. “This is the next generation, you know. So, I’m thrilled to see it realized so beautifully but, no, Harry is done now.”

(2) BEAM ME – OH, NEVER MIND. Steven Murphy of ScienceFiction.com canna stand the strain – of Star Trek’s inconsistent and underimaginative use of the transporter. He makes his case in “Star Trek and the Optimization of the Transporter”.

Does it bother anyone else that the characters of ‘Star Trek’ regularly overlook the obvious solution? They’re not stupid. I’d understand if they were stupid. They are among the smartest collection of people in fiction. They just have a huge blindspot: the power of teleportation.

In ‘Star Trek,’ transporters can dematerialize people or things in one location and rematerialize them elsewhere. I wouldn’t be the first to point out that the functionality of the technology maddening varies based on the requirements of the plot.

Murphy develops three main themes:

  • The Federation Should Weaponize Transporters
  • The Federation Should Use Transporters Defensively
  • Transporters Should Be Used As A Warp-Alternative

(3) POLITICAL SF/F. Ilya Somin recommends “7 Fantasy/Science Fiction Epics That Can Inform You about the Real-World-Political Scene” at Learn Liberty.

Battlestar Galactica

The original 1970s TV series was remade in the 2000s. Both versions focus on the survivors of twelve human colony worlds that have been devastated by an attack by the Cylons, and both feature many of the same characters. Yet the original series and the remake are otherwise fundamentally different.

The former reflects a conservative response to the Cold War: the humans fall victim to a Cylon surprise attack because they were influenced by gullible peaceniks; the survivors’ military leader, Commander Adama, is almost always far wiser than the feckless civilian politicians who question his judgment. Concerns about civil liberties and due process in wartime are raised, but usually dismissed as overblown.

By contrast, the new series reflects the left-wing reaction to the War on Terror: the Cylon attack is at least partly the result of “blowback” caused by the humans’ own wrongdoing. The series stresses the importance of democracy and civilian leadership, and condemns what it regards as dangerous demonization and mistreatment of the enemy—even one that commits genocide and mass murder.

Both the original series and the new one have many interesting political nuances, and both have blind spots characteristic of the ideologies they exemplify. The sharp contrast between the two makes them more interesting considered in combination than either might be alone. They effectively exemplify how widely divergent lessons can be drawn from the same basic story line.

(4) DEL TORO COLLECTION. The Los Angeles County Art Museum exhibit “Guillermo del Toro: At Home With Monsters” opens August 1.

DelToroMain_0

Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters Guillermo del Toro (b. 1964) is one of the most inventive filmmakers of his generation. Beginning with Cronos (1993) and continuing through The Devil’s Backbone (2001), Hellboy (2004), Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), Pacific Rim (2013), and Crimson Peak (2015), among many other film, television, and book projects, del Toro has reinvented the genres of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. Working with a team of craftsmen, artists, and actors—and referencing a wide range of cinematic, pop-culture, and art-historical sources—del Toro recreates the lucid dreams he experienced as a child in Guadalajara, Mexico. He now works internationally, with a cherished home base he calls “Bleak House” in the suburbs of Los Angeles.

Taking inspiration from del Toro’s extraordinary imagination, the exhibition reveals his creative process through his collection of paintings, drawings, maquettes, artifacts, and concept film art. Rather than a traditional chronology or filmography, the exhibition is organized thematically, beginning with visions of death and the afterlife; continuing through explorations of magic, occultism, horror, and monsters; and concluding with representations of innocence and redemption.

(5) SOMETHING MORE TO VOTE ON. Still on that adrenaline high after voting for the Hugos? You can help James Davis Nicoll – he’s looking for readers’ opinions about the books he should review. He explains, “That specific set of reviews is of books I read as a teen, so between 1974 and 1981.” Register your choices in a “non-binding” poll” at More Words, Deeper Hole.

(6) AN IMPONDERABLES REVIEW. Dave Feldman enjoyed playing Letter Tycoon.

Once you get started, game play is remarkably fast and hassle-free. Letter Tycoon is a combination word game and stock market game. You form words using your own letters combined with three “community cards.” The longer the words you form, the more assets (in the form of cash and stocks) you earn. If you accumulate enough cash, you can buy patents in the letter(s) you have used to form your words. These patents function like houses and hotels in Monopoly; you get paid every time another player forms a word using “your” patented letters. As you’d expect, it costs more to buy a patent on the most frequently-used letters, but some more obscure letters possess special powers that can make them valuable.

(7) TOOLS THAT CHANGE THE TOOL USER. Matthew Kirschenbaum, author of Track Changes, asserts “Technology changes how authors write, but the big impact isn’t on their style”.

“Our writing instruments are also working on our thoughts.” Nietzsche wrote, or more precisely typed, this sentence on a Malling-Hansen Writing Ball, a wondrous strange contraption that looks a little like a koosh ball cast in brass and studded with typewriter keys. Depressing a key plunged a lever with the typeface downward onto the paper clutched in the underbelly.

It’s well-known that Nietzsche acquired the Writing Ball to compensate for his failing eyesight. Working by touch, he used it to compose terse, aphoristic phrasings exactly like that oft-quoted pronouncement. Our writing instruments, he suggested, are not just conveniences or contrivances for the expression of ideas; they actively shape the limits and expanse of what we have to say. Not only do we write differently with a fountain pen than with a crayon because they each feel different in our hands, we write (and think) different kinds of things.

But what can writing tools and writing machines really tell us about writing? Having just published my book “Track Changes” on the literary history of word processing, I found such questions were much on my mind. Every interviewer I spoke with wanted to know how computers had changed literary style. Sometimes they meant style for an individual author; sometimes they seemed to want me to pronounce upon the literary establishment (whatever that is) in its entirety.

(8) LOCUS POLL COMMENTS. At Locus Online you can read voters’ Comments from the 2016 Locus Poll and Survey. For example:

I actually read a couple of first novels I liked, which surprised me! I don’t read those very often these days, but these were strongly urged on me and I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve been reading e-books for about a year now and they’re starting to form a large chunk of my “book” buying in general, though I still buy more genre in print form than e-book. I’m buying a lot of the old classics in e-book (i.e., Ye Olde Deade Whyte Guys, like Twain, Shakespeare, Mary Shelley (;)) and some of the older sf/f/h titles as well. The “Great Distemper of 2015” left me with a dull ache behind my eyes and reminded me why I ducked out of the fannish aspects of SF 20 years ago or so. I fervently hope it goes away soon. I read more and liked more of what I read last year. There must be something wrong with me! (innocentlookicon) I’m trying very hard to work up my inner “Hey you kids, get off my lawn!” attitude about the state of SF, but I can’t.

(9) FINAL CHAPTER. A Los Angeles Daily News story about several LA-area bookstores facing closure.

Adryan Russ slips behind the counter at Bookfellows/Mystery & Imagination in Glendale to say goodbye to co-owner Christine Bell, who recently announced that her long-standing used bookstore will be closing at the end of August.

With a hug, the longtime customer wishes her well.

“To see this store have to follow the trends of today’s world, where we won’t be holding books much longer, you can see the sadness in her eyes about it,” says Russ, a musical theater lyricist based in Glendale. “It’s like a whole era is fading.”

The shuttering of Bookfellows comes as economic pressures from an increasingly competitive online marketplace, rising rents and dwindling walk-in traffic make it hard for some Southern California independent used booksellers to keep their large storefronts.

(10) ONE NY BOOKSTORE IS STICKING AROUND. The New York Times found a bookstore with an edge on the competition — “Want to Work in 18 Miles of Books? First, the Quiz”.

As Jennifer Lobaugh arrived at the Strand Book Store to apply for a job this spring, she remembered feeling jittery. It wasn’t only because she badly wanted a job at the fabled bookstore in Greenwich Village, her first in New York City, but also because at the end of the application, there was a quiz — a book quiz.

She rode the elevator to the third floor, sat down at a long table and scanned the quiz: a list of titles and a list of authors. She matched “The Second Sex” with Simone de Beauvoir right away. But then she had doubts. “I thought I would have no trouble,” said Ms. Lobaugh, 27, who has an M.F.A. in creative writing and a background in French and Russian literature. “But I got nervous.”

The Strand is the undisputed king of the city’s independent bookstores, a giant in an ever-shrinking field. It moves 2.5 million books a year and has around 200 employees. While its competitors have closed by the dozens, it has survived on castaways — from publishers, reviewers, the public and even other booksellers.

For nearly a century, the huge downtown bookstore has symbolized not only inexpensive books, but something just as valuable: full-time work for those whose arcane knowledge outweighs their practical skills.

Can you pass the Strand’s literary quiz? Match each book with its author. Test Your Book Smarts.

With a score of 33/50, I probably won’t be working at Strand until they start hiring folks whose specialty is asking, “Would you like fries with that?”

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

It was the first time humans had experience driving on another world, and by all accounts, the LRV was awesome.

The LRV was used mainly to extend the astronauts’ travel range up to a few miles from the landing site (for Apollo 15, the LRV traveled more than 17 miles in total). This allowed the science-focused missions of Apollo 15, 16, and 17 far more reach than hoofing it around the moon’s surface.

Jerry Seinfeld also had something to say about driving on the moon:

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born July 31, 1965 – J. K. Rowling

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY WIZARD

  • Born July 31, 1980 — Harry Potter

(14) GIANT ROBOTS. Kevin Melrose of Comic Book Resources thinks “Glorious ‘Transformers’ fan film is better than any of Michael Bay’s”.

Called “Generation 1 Hero,” it’s directed by Lior Molcho and stars members of Arizona Autobots, a group of Transformers cosplayers who create their own costumes. “Y’know, it was a lot of fun having them punch each other,” Molcho said in a behind-the-scenes video. “It’s a boy’s dream come true, y’know: giant robots punching each other! This is pretty awesome!”

 

(15) AN EDITOR’S ADVICE. Amanda S. Green’s post “It is a business”, quoted here the other day, attracted comment from the publisher of Castalia House, Vox Day in “Submissions and so forth”. His counsel begins —

  1. Most of the stuff that is submitted isn’t anywhere near ready. Seriously, we’re talking “WTF were you thinking” territory. Don’t submit just to submit, practice, then file it away if it’s not genuinely on par with what the publisher publishes and move on to the next work.
  2. You have VERY little time to impress the slush reader, who is wading through large quantities of writing that ranges from barely literate to mediocre. Make it count.
  3. Keep the cover letter short and to the point. No one is going to be impressed by how BADLY you want to be published or HOW MUCH you want to work with the publishing house. What you want has nothing to do with how good your book is.

(16) LARPOLOGY. The thirtieth installment of Marie Brennan’s Dice Tales column for Book View Café has the irresistible headline: “Every Title I Can Think of for This Post Sounds Like Spam”.

When you introduce a new character to an ongoing campaign, narrative integration is only one of the problems you face. The longer the game has been underway, the more you need to think about mechanical balance.

(17) LAST DAY OF VOTING. Peter J. Enyeart makes a fascinating assessment of Neal Stephenson while explaining how he ranked the nominees in the Best Novel category, but here’s who he thought should win —

  1. Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie In the closing novel of the trilogy, Breq faces ever greater challenges as she finds herself a high-value target in the Radchaai civil war. I feel a little bad about picking this one for the top spot, since it’s a sequel to a book that won two years ago, but it was definitely my favorite. It’s the only nominee I had read before the nominations were announced, and the only nominee that I actually nominated. I read the whole thing in about 24 hours, the week it came out. It even makes me feel more charitable towards the second installment in the series, which I liked less, because it serves as a nice set up for this satisfying conclusion. Breq is one of my favorite characters in fiction. So cold, aloof, detached, and calculating, and yet so empathetic, observant, devoted, and inspiring. It’s a tall order for a writer to pull off that combination, but she did it. Breq provides a model for leadership that seems like something a person like me could aspire to, and I’m very appreciative. (I like the Presger Translators a lot, too.) Well done, Ann Leckie.

(18) ANOTHER COUNTY HEARD FROM. Charon Dunn, on the other hand, put Stephenson’s novel first on her 2016 Hugo Ballot.

Seveneves

Earnestly focusing on books as they linearly progress from beginning to end is for noobs and editors and people like that. Sometimes you just want to dive into a ballpit of words and mosh around. Seveneves is one of those, hard science flavored, where humanity reaches the mostly dead state before seven intrepid spacewomen start cranking out babies, thus founding seven distinct races, each one bioengineered per their founding mother’s will. Setting the scene for future highjinks.

Many of the reviews I have read make a pointed effort at informing readers that the bioengineering in Seveneves is hogwash. A lot of my generation feels the same way about bioengineering that the Victorians did about sex, which makes it a fun taboo to read and write about. Sure it’s hogwash, so are Death Stars, who cares. The science in Seveneves follows this soothing cycle of looming disaster; implement solution; new looming disaster. I’m a fan of this method of plot organization.

(19) A NEW LEAF. And if you assumed that someone writing for a blog called Books & Tea would pick the book by the tea-loving Leckie, then Christina Vasilevski will surprise you with her choice, in “What I’m Voting for in the 2016 Hugo Awards”.

  1. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin — As I mentioned when I read and reviewed this book last yearThe Fifth Season blew me away. I’m so glad this one ended up on the ballot. Jemisin’s writing is lyrical and her willingness to put her politics front and centre in her stories is great.

(20) FAN ARTISTS. Doctor Science posted an overview of the Fan Artist nominees. Earlier, the Good Doctor covered Pro Artist.

(21) HOW DO YOU GET THIS OUT OF SECOND GEAR? Forbes’ infographic contrasts Star Trek’s warp drive with what scientists are working on today.

If you want to experience the thrill of travelling faster than the speed of light, all you need to do is hitch a ride on the Starship Enterprise and engage the ‘warp drive’. You’ll be able to enjoy a cup of hot Earl Grey while visiting countless worlds through interstellar travel, all thanks to the power of warp drive! Easy peasy.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, and Steven H Silver for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ann Leckie.]

Pixel Scroll 6/23/16 Where The Scrolls Have No Name

(1) THE LEMONADE IS READY. Rachel Swirsky’s Patreon donors are enjoying the squozen fruits of victory.

One of those donors tells me the story has two Chapter Fives.

(2) AXANAR TEASERS. Space.com ran an exclusive story,  “Trailer for ‘Star Trek: Axanar’ Unveiled Amid Lawsuit”, about the filmmaker’s unexpected decision:

A second teaser trailer for a fan-made “Star Trek” movie was released this week, despite an ongoing lawsuit over the film.

The new teaser trailer for “Star Trek: Axanar” was released by the filmmakers yesterday (June 22). Called “Honor Through Victory,” the trailer shows Klingon ships flying through a planetary ring system and features an intense voice-over that sounds like a prebattle pep talk. This is the second of three teaser trailers set to be released this week. The first, titled “Stands United,” also appeared online yesterday. The “Honor Through Victory” teaser trailer was shared exclusively with Space.com.

 

(3) VINTAGE TV. Echo Ishii is tracking down antique sf shows in “SF Obscure: The wishlist Roundup” for Smart Girls Love Sci-Fi Romance.

Since it’s summer once again, it’s time  to I hunt down the really obscure classics or try to sample B/C list  shows and see how many episodes I can survive. This time around I decided to make a list of those shows which I have not seen, but added to my wishlist. Most are only on limited DVD runs.  Based on cloudy memories jarred by  the vast world of YouTube, I  tracked down a stray episodes, or a set of clips, or an old commercial to remind me of their existence. Here are a select few.

The post discusses Mercy Point, Birds of Prey, Starhunter, and Space Rangers.

(4) JIM CARREY TURNS TO HORROR. Variety reports “Jim Carrey, Eli Roth Team on Horror Film ‘Aleister Arcane’”.

Jim Carrey will star in and executive produce while Eli Roth directs the long-in-development horror movie “Aleister Arcane” for Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment.

“Aleister Aracane,” written by Steven Niles, was first published in 2004 by IDW Comics. Jon Croker will adapt for the screen.

Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman will produce along with Michael Aguilar.

The story centers on a group of children who befriend a bitter old man ruined and shunned by their parents. After his death, only they have the power to thwart the curse he has laid upon their town.

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY

Logans Run

  • June 23, 1976 Logan’s Run (the movie) was released.
  • June 23, 1989 — Tim Burton’s noir spin on the well-known story of the DC Comics hero Batman is released in theaters.
  • June 23, 2016 – Today is National Pink Flamingo Day.

(6) FIRST PAST THE POST. Rachel Neumeier tells how she surprised herself in “Hugo Voting: at last, the novels”:

Okay, now, listen. I went in knowing, just *knowing* that I was either going to put Ancillary Mercy or Uprooted in the top spot, the other one second. I hadn’t read the other three nominees at the time. I was happy to try The Fifth Season, unhappy about being forced to try Seveneves, and okay if not enthusiastic with trying The Aeronaut’s Windlass.

That’s how I started out.

I have seldom been more surprised in my life as to find myself putting Seveneves in the top spot….

I guess I’d better read it after all. 😉

(7) PUPPY CHOW. Lisa Goldstein continues her reviews of Hugo nominated work with “Short Story: ‘If You Were an Award, My Love’”. About the review she promises: “It’s a bit intemperate.”

“If You Were an Award, My Love” is not so much a story as a group of schoolkids drawing dirty pictures in their textbooks and snickering.

(8) JUSTICE IS NOT BLIND. Joe Sherry continues his series at Nerds of a Feather with “Reading the Hugos: Short Story”, in which No Award does not finish last….

While I am clearly not blind to the controversy surrounding this year’s Hugo Awards (nor is The G, for that matter), I have mostly chosen to cover each category on the relative subjective merits of the nominated works. I understand that this is something that not everyone can or will choose to do, but it is the way that I have elected to engage with the Hugo Awards. While the result of the Hugo Awards short list is not significantly different in regards to the Rabid Puppies straight up dominating most of the categories / finalists with their slate, the difference is that this year they have selected to bulk nominate a group that includes more works that might have otherwise had a reasonable chance of making the ballot and also that meets my subjective definition of “quality”. That slate from the Rabid Puppies also includes a number of works that come across as little more than an extended middle finger to the people who care about the Hugo Awards. Feel free to argue with any or all of my opinions here.

(9) FEELING COLD. Not that Kate Paulk liked any of these Hugo nominees, but in her pass through the Best Semiprozine category she delivered the least condemnation to Sci Phi Journal:

Sci Phi Journal edited by Jason Rennie – Sci Phi was the only finalist with any content that drew me in, and honestly, not all of it. I could have done without the philosophical questions at the end of each fiction piece, although that is the journal’s signature, so I guess it’s required. I’d rather ponder the questions the stories in questions raised without the explicit pointers – although I will say they weren’t as heavy-handed as they could have been, and they did highlight the issues quite well. I’m just fussy, I guess.

(10) AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL GRAPHIC NOVEL. Paul Dini signs at Vromans Bookstore in Pasadena on Friday, June 24 at 7:00.

Dark Knight

This is a Batman story like no other the harrowing and eloquent autobiographical tale of writer Paul Dini’s courageous struggle to overcome a desperate situation.

The Caped Crusader has been the all-abiding icon of justice and authority for generations. But in this surprising original graphic novel, we see Batman in a new light as the savior who helps a discouraged man recover from a brutal attack that left him unable to face the world. In the 1990s, legendary writer Paul Dini had a flourishing career writing the hugely popular “Batman: The Animated Series” and “Tiny Toon Adventures.” Walking home one evening, he was jumped and viciously beaten within an inch of his life. His recovery process was arduous, hampered by the imagined antics of the villains he was writing for television including the Joker, Harley Quinn and the Penguin. But despite how bleak his circumstances were, or perhaps because of it, Dini also always imagined the Batman at his side, chivvying him along during his darkest moments. A gripping graphic memoir of one writer’s traumatic experience and his deep connection with his creative material, Dark Night: A True Batman Story is an original graphic novel that will resonate profoundly with fans. Art by the incredible and talented Eduardo Risso…

(11) WORLD FANTASY AWARD WINNER. Jesse Hudson reviews Sofia Samatar’s A Stranger in Olondria at Speculiction.

If it isn’t obvious, A Stranger in Olondria is one of those novels where the road beneath the feet only reveals itself after the reader has taken the step—what the foot lands so rich and engaging as to compel the next step.  The novel a journey of discovery, there are elements of Robert Silverberg’s Lord Valentine’s Castle as much as Ursula Le Guin’s The Tombs of Atuan.  A coming of age via a very personal quest, Samatar unleashes all her skill as a storyteller in relating Jevick’s tale.

But the novel’s heart is nicely summed up by Amel El-Mohtar: it is about the human “vulnerability to language and literature, and the simultaneous experience of power and surrender inherent in the acts of writing and reading.”

 [Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day LunarG.]

Pixel Scroll 6/9/16 I See All Good Pixels Scroll Their Heads Each Day So Satisfied I’m On My Way

(1) WHAT’S A FEW MILLION BETWEEN GEEKS? Wizard World will be scaling back conventions after posting a $4.25M loss in 2015.

The comic convention franchise Wizard World is scaling back the number of conventions after filing a $4.25 million loss in 2015, according to ICv2. The company, which takes its name from the defunct magazine Wizard, held 25 events in 2015 for a combined revenue of $22.9m, which was less than 2014’s convention revenue of $23.1m despite only hosting 17 shows that year. Looking closer, Wizard World’s 2015 conventions earned on average $916,000 per show, as opposed to $1.36m in the year prior.

Additionally, Wizard World has sold all but 10% ownership of the fledging ConTV to Cinedigm. That venture was a $1.3m loss for WizardWorld in 2015.

WizardWorld has 19 conventions planned in 2016, with one being the new ‘con cruise’ venture.

(2) WISTFUL WATNEY. From The Martian Extended Edition, now on Digital HD, DVD, Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD.

Mark Watney marvels at Earth and contemplates on the reasons for his rescue from Hermes.

 

(3) LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER. Mark Gunnells wrote “A Love Letter to Joe R. Lansdale”.

Some of you may be saying, Who’s that?  And if you are, that makes me sad.  The man’s talents are so immense that he really should be a household name in my opinion.  His books never fail to impress and thrill me, and I’ll give a few reasons why I am such a fan.

One, simplicity.  The man’s language can be so lean and yet convey so much.  He doesn’t have to do a lot of literary acrobatics to get his point across, but can say so much with such economy of words.  It is something I aspire to.

Two, dialogue.  I’m a sticker for good dialogue, and Lansdale knows how to do it.  His characters talk in a way that is witty and fun but also believable and authentic.

Three, darkness of character.  But not just of the villains.  He isn’t afraid to infuse his protagonists with darkness too.  They aren’t all saintly and virtuous, but a mixture of good and bad, just like real people.

Four, diversity.  The man does westerns, mystery, horror, and a great deal of fiction that defies category.  I think that hurts him in some ways, since the industry (and many readers) like writers who are predictable, where they know what they’re getting going in.  That isn’t Lansdale, and I love him for it.  He is also equally adept at short stories, as well as novels and novellas.

(4) ROAD WARRIOR. “Letter From Terry Brooks: The Importance of Touring” at Suvudu.

…Chained to my computer and locked away for 8 to 10 months while writing, you tend to forget what it is you are writing for. You tend to forget how wonderful it feels to hear that your books mean so much to the readers. You forget that it gives you energy and inspiration for your work. But the book events remind you of all this, and they give you an unmistakable desire to go back and do more and to never, ever disappoint your readers by doing something that is less than your best work.

Love the families that come out. Sometimes four or five, all reading the books at once. Love the stories of how people came to read the books in the first place – frequently through another member of the family recommending them. Love the way the stories and characters have impacted people at times in their lives when things seemed a bit bleak. I am reminded of how we all escape into books to flee our own lives now and then, and when we do we inevitably return better able to get on with things. Love all the strange, wild tales of where people were and what they were doing when they read a particular book…..

(5) TWEETAGE OF THE LAMBS. Here’s a little-known fact about Amazon rankings.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 9, 2006 — The animated feature film Cars, produced by Pixar Animation Studios, roars into theaters across the United States.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY DUCK

  • Born June 9, 1934 — Donald Duck made his first screen appearance in “The Wise Little Hen.”

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS AND GIRLS

A time traveler, a pirate and a princess…

  • Born June 9, 1961 — Michael J. Fox
  • Born June 9, 1963  — Johnny Depp
  • Born June 9, 1981 — Natalie Portman

(9) WHITE HOUSE LOOT CRATE IN HEADLINES. The Toronto Globe and Mail reports “Obama gave Trudeau a signed copy of Star Wars script”.

According to ethics disclosures, Justin Trudeau was given a copy of “The Force Awakens” script – the seventh Star Wars movie, released last year – signed by writer/director J.J. Abrams. U.S. President Barack Obama gave Mr. Trudeau (a big fan of the sci-fi franchise) the gift, along with a sculpture, a photograph and toys for the children, during the state visit to Washington in March.

Mr. Trudeau and his family gave the Obamas a sculpture and indigenous clothing.

The personal touch of this particular gift is no doubt a sign of how close the two world leaders are. Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Obama will see each other again at the end of the month, when the President comes to town for the North American Leaders’ Summit in Ottawa on June 29. Mr. Obama is expected to address parliamentarians while he’s in town.

(10) BROOKS FANZINES. The University of Georgia (as reported last month) is displaying Ned Brooks’ fanzines in the Rotunda of the Russell Special Collections Libraries through July. Now there is also a companion online exhibit anchored by George Beahm’s tribute, “To Infinity and Beyond! The Fanzine Collection of Ned Brooks”.

(11) WILLIAMS SCORES AFI AWARD. Tonight John Williams picks up the 44th American Film Institute Life Achievement Award. The ceremony will air on TNT on June 15.

John Williams’ storied career as the composer behind many of the greatest American films and television series of all time boasts over 150 credits across seven decades. Perhaps best known for his enduring collaboration with director Steven Spielberg, his scores are among the most iconic and recognizable in film history, from the edge-of-your-seat JAWS (1975) motif to the emotional swell of E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1982) and the haunting elegies of SCHINDLER’S LIST (1993). Always epic in scale, his music has helped define over half a century of the motion picture medium. Three of Williams’ scores landed on AFI’s 100 Years of Film Scores — a list of the 25 greatest American film scores of all time — including the unforgettable STAR WARS (1977) soundtrack, at number one. With five Academy Award® wins and 49 nominations in total, Williams holds the record for the most Oscar® nominations of any living person.

(12) VAPORTECTURE. “Is a Comic-Con museum headed to Balboa Park?” asks the San Diego Union-Tribune. The answer is: not necessarily.

So far it’s undecided whether such an attraction would simply share space with the Hall of Champions or occupy nearly all of the 68,000-square-foot, memorabilia-filled venue next to the Starlight Bowl.

“I heard they might be interested in doing something, so I made contact and began a conversation, and it’s been going on for awhile,” said Hall of Champions board member Dan Shea. “We have a space that could be considered under-utilized for what we have. Comic-Con is an iconic community group, and we would love to see them stay here, so we thought, wouldn’t it be great to have a museum for them in our hometown. And that’s what we talk about when we get together now and then.”

But no deal has been reached, and it could be some time before a museum even materializes, Shea acknowledged.

“There’s no hurry to move it along,” he said.

Comic-Con International spokesman David Glanzer was equally vague about the prospects for a Balboa Park museum devoted to the popular arts icon, a San Diego presence since 1970. The four-day convention, which now draws more than 130,000 attendees, is contracted to stay in San Diego through 2018.

Asked about what the museum might showcase and how much space it might occupy, Glanzer responded, “We’re still in discussions. I’m sorry but we haven’t gotten that far yet.”

Shea said an announcement about the possibility of a museum was made, in part, to put to rest “silly things we were hearing about what people thought they knew about this.”

(13) SEVENEVES MOVIE MAYBE. “Skydance Reunites ‘Apollo 13’ Team For Neal Stephenson Sci-Fi Novel ‘Seveneves’”Deadline has the story.

EXCLUSIVE: Skydance has set the Apollo 13 team of writer Bill Broyles, director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer for an adaptation of bestselling author Neal Stephenson’s sci-fi novel Seveneves. Grazer and Howard’s Imagine Entertainment is producing the ambitious adaptation.

(14) KRAKEN, NOT STIRRED. Nerdist “Meet the GAME OF THRONES Brittle Star: Ophiohamus Georgemartini”.

The trend of naming new species after pop culture icons is on the rise, and we’re giving the latest addition to the list of nerdy namesakes our stamp of approval. A brittle star, found deep in the South Pacific, has been officially dubbed Ophiohamus georgemartini because of its likeness to the thorny crown found on the cover of book two in the Game of Thrones series, A Clash of Kings….

The George R.R. Martin-friendly specimen was found off the coast of New Caledonia, at a depth of 275 meters (902 ft), but you can find brittle stars in shallow waters as well, and even in rocky tide pools. “Brittle stars live everywhere,” explains the Echinoblog’s Dr. Christopher Mah. “Under rocks, in the mud, on corals, under corals … even on jellyfish. Many of them are tiny, tiny little critters that fit easily into cracks, crevices and nooks in rocks.”

[Thanks to Stephen Burridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bruce Baugh.]

Pixel Scroll 5/18/16 Griefer Madness

(1) GENRE RECAPITULATES ONTOLOGY. Damien Walter divides the audience into “The 8 Tribes of Sci-Fi”.

Calling sci-fi a genre in 2016 is about as accurate as calling the United States one nation. In principle it’s true, but in practice things don’t work that way. While crime, romance and thrillers all remain as coherent genres of fiction, it’s been decades since sci-fi could be comfortably understood by any shared generic criteria. What do Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, Joe Abercrombie’s Shattered Seas trilogy, the fiction of Silva Moreno Garcia and the erotic sci-fi of Chuck Tingle actually have in common, beyond being nominated for major sci-fi book awards this year?

The answer is they all belong to one of the eight tribes of sci-fi…..

The Weirds Most writers at some point play around with the effects that can be induced by engineering stories with internal inconsistencies, mashing together disparate metaphors, or simply being weird for weirds sake. The weirds take this as an end in itself. With China Mieville as their reigning king they were riding high for a while. However, with newer voices like Molly Tanzer’s Vermillion coming through, the American ‘bizarro fiction’ movement, and with authors including Joe Hill and Josh Mallerman rejuvenating the traditional horror genre, the Weirds are still among the most creatively interesting of the eight tribes.

(2) SILENT THING. According to Digiday, “85 percent of Facebook video is watched without sound”.

Facebook might be hosting upwards of 8 billion views per day on its platform, but a wide majority of that viewership is happening in silence.

As much as 85 percent of video views happen with the sound off, according to multiple publishers. Take, for instance, feel-good site LittleThings, which is averaging 150 million monthly views on Facebook so far this year. Eighty-five percent of its viewership is occurring without users turning the sound on. Similarly, millennial news site Mic, which is also averaging 150 million monthly Facebook views, said 85 percent of its 30-second views are without sound. PopSugar said its silent video views range between 50 and 80 percent.

(3) YAKKITY CAT. Steve Davidson says an interview with Timothy the Talking Cat will appear on Amazing Stories this Thursday. I’m running neck and neck with Steve in pursuit of interviews with the hottest new talents in the field — he won this round!

(4) JENCEVICE OBIT. SF Site News carries word that Chicago conrunner and club fan Mike Jencevice died May 16.

Chicago fan Mike Jencevice (b.1955) died on May 16. Jencevice entered fandom in 1978, publishing the fanzine Trilevel and serving as the long-time president of Queen to Queen’s Three, a media fan club. He ran the dealers room at Windycon for more than 30 years and served on the ISFiC Board for much of that time. He was one of two associate chairs for Chicon 2000.

(5) VR. BBC News explores “How will virtual reality change our lives?”

Four experts, including Mark Bolas – former tutor of Palmer Luckey, who recently hand-delivered the first VR handset made by his company Oculus Rift – talked to the BBC World Service Inquiry programme about the future of VR.

Mark Bolas: Out of the lab

Mark Bolas is a professor at USC School of Cinematic Arts and a researcher at the Institute for Creative Technologies. He has been working in virtual reality since 1988.

VR hits on so many levels. It’s a real out-of-body experience, and yet completely grounded in your body. …

To find a way to make it low cost and still retain that field of view, we harnessed the power of mobile phones – the screens, tracking and processing – and we figured out a lens design that was extremely inexpensive.

It’s been really fun playing all these years, but there’s something more important now, which is making it a space that allows us to harness our emotions, our desire to connect with people.

I’m worried by our current computer interfaces. I watch people walking around like zombies with cell phones in their hands, and I have to manoeuvre a mouse to fill out little boxes on web forms in a horribly frustrating way. I think VR will allow us to transcend this.

I don’t worry so much about where VR is going, I worry about where we currently are.

(6) SHEER WEIR. By the Washington Post’s Joel Achenbach: “Andy Weir, author of ‘The Martian,’ aims his pen at the moon”

Lots of people who are interested in going to Mars have been gathering this week at George Washington University for the annual Humans to Mars Summit, and the star attraction this morning was Andy Weir. He’s the author of the novel “The Martian,” which has sold 3 million copies, been translated into something like 45 languages and served as the basis of the blockbuster movie by the same name, directed by the legendary Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon. So, yes, that book did well — remarkably so given that he originally published it in chapters on his website and later as an electronic book that could be downloaded for free.

Weir, whom I interviewed on stage in the summit’s opening session (you can probably find the video here), was scheduled to pop by The Post for today’s “Transformers” event and then visit Capitol Hill to testify before the House subcommittee on space. Busy day! He said he was going to talk about how an interplanetary spacecraft, such as one going from Earth to Mars, can be designed to spin to create artificial gravity. That’s a potential way to moderate the severe physical effects of weightlessness on the human body. Without artificial gravity, the first astronauts on Mars would likely spend many days just trying to recover from all those months in zero-g conditions.

But he’s also working on another novel, this one about a city on the Earth’s moon that features a female protagonist who is something of a criminal but still lovable, according to Weir.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born May 18, 1931 — Mad magazine cartoonist Don Martin
  • Born May 18, 1930 — Fred Saberhagen

(8) THE REAL-LIFE GRINGOTT’S. The BBC tells where the gold is kept.

The largest by far lies in the Bank of England. It holds three-quarters of the gold in London, or 5,134 tonnes. Most of the gold is stored as standard bars weighing 400 troy ounces (12.4 kg or 438.9 ounces) – there are about 500,000 of them, each worth in the region of £350,000.

But the official reserves of the UK Treasury account for less than a tenth of this.

“Just 310 tonnes of the gold in the Bank of England is from the UK Treasury, the rest is mostly commercial,” says Adrian Ash of BullionVault.com.

The gold is held in a system of eight vaults over two floors under Threadneedle Street in the City. This is to spread the weight and prevent the vaults from sinking into the London clay beneath the bank.

“So no maze of caves bored into rock,” says Chip Hitchcock, sounding a little disappointed.

(9) MARCON HARASSMENT, PART ONE. Steven Saus relays “Reports of Harassment at MarCon 2016, including ‘The Chainmail Guy’ who harassed people at CONTEXT” at Ideatrash. (To refresh your memory, see File 770’s post about Context.)

Sadly, I’m hearing from friends who attended MarCon this year that the stance about Chainmail Guy’s harassment – the one that some members of the board decided to destroy the con over rather than censure a buddy who was harassing people – was completely justified.

According to multiple accounts, he was very visible in the main corridor, apparently with a table displaying some chain mail. (Which is exactly the setup that spawned problems at Context.) Sure, he wasn’t a volunteer, but had a very prominent bit of real estate. And, much like the complaints at Context, kept inserting himself into private conversations, just as he did before.

Unlike Context, he was in the main hall – and therefore much harder to avoid.

As one person put it, “if you heard about the stuff about Context, you’d get the very clear opinion that MarCon was okay with all that.”

Sadly, this might just be the case.

There were reports (and these were forwarded to the con chair) of another guy suggesting he should “frisk” a young woman after earlier reaching out to touch her without consent.

A corset vendor walked the line between creepy and harassment by insisting their corset fit perfectly, and any impression otherwise was due to the person’s “body issues”. He told another person that “he needed to see me try on one of the corsets and not in a friendly way…in front of my kids.”

And this is just what’s managed to cross my awareness.

(10) MARCON HARASSMENT, PART TWO. Saus also published “A (Good) Response From One of the Security Team From MarCon about Harassment”. It is signed by JP Withers.

As a fan I really hate it when our community is damaged by harassing behavior. Inclusion is kind of the point of our thing to me.

Our security and operations folks need help making our space better for everyone, and that help is reporting stuff when it happens. I know there can be a lot of reasons someone might not report behavior, but if one of those reasons is a feeling we won’t take it seriously I can tell you that isn’t the case for anyone on my team….

(11) MARCON HARASSMENT, PART THREE. Ferrett Steinmetz, immediately after Marcon, published these generalized comments calling into question how some apply the principle that “A Person Is Innocent Until Proven Guilty By Law”.

…And all the complexity comes to a boil when we’re discussing how to handle missing stairs in a community – potentially dangerous people who have gossip swirling about them, but no definitive proof. (Because most consent violators are smart enough not to do terrible stuff in public with witnesses.) And what do you do to keep your parties free of dangerous players when the only proof you have is the equivalent of “She said Phil didn’t pay her back”? Do you ban people on someone’s word?

Maybe you think the court’s standards are worthy for any institution, which is a noble goal. There is a strong case to be made for “I will hold the people who would spread rumors to the highest of standards,” because yeah, the ugly truth is that there are corrupt cops and there are people who’ll trash folks they don’t like. Having standards for evidence is good, and though there’s no single True goal, having high standards when the penalty is “Banning someone from a party” is not necessarily a bad thing.

But stop extending that to the idiotic argument of “If something someone says has not been proven in a court of law, it is automatically untrue.” No. If that happens, you are adopting the court’s standard of, “We would rather have someone guilty attending our parties than risk ejecting an innocent person.”…

(12) MARCON HARASSMENT, PART FOUR. Reddit ran its own recap of the latest episode, the essence of which is —

But now a different Ohio convention, MarCon, has had a problem with a harasser… and it’s the SAME GUY:

It’s the same stuff different day syndrome at its worst. There is no way for cons in general to keep these people out since conventions don’t have any kind of shared governance… so even when “missing stairs” are dealt with at one con, they aren’t at another. 🙁

(13) UNPAID MINIONS. The Seattlish has screencaps of the legal papers — “Someone Is Suing Emerald City Comicon for Not paying Volunteers”.

A class action lawsuit has been filed by a former Emerald City Comicon volunteer—the organization calls them “minions”—alleging that the convention violates labor laws by treating their volunteers like employees, but failing to pay them.

The suit, filed in King County Superior Court on May 16 by plaintiff Jerry Brooks and naming ECCC and three members of the Demonakos family as defendants, alleges that as many as 250 people may be among the class.

According to the suit, the volunteers are expected to work essentially as paid workers would—performing functions necessary to the operation of the convention—but aren’t required to be paid for their labor or their overtime due to their volunteer status.

This suit could be hard to prove; the volunteers not only willingly enter into an agreement stating that they’ll work for free, but the culture of the convention fosters a competitiveness for the volunteer positions. A lot of people really like volunteering. In a blog post from 2013, a minion wrote that it “isn’t the  kind of thing you do for money.”

(14) STORYBUNDLE. The Story Collection StoryBundle is available for another 15 days. Readers can choose to donate part of each purchase to SFWA. Curator Lisa Mason tells how the bundle was assembled here.

As always at StoryBundle, you the reader name your price—whatever you feel the books are worth. You may designate a portion of the proceeds to go to a charity. For the Story Collection StoryBundle, that’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (“SFWA”). SFWA champions writers’ rights, sponsors the Nebula Award for excellence in science fiction, and promotes numerous literacy groups.

The initial titles in the Story Collection StoryBundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:

  • The Green Leopard Plague by Walter Jon Williams. Two stories in this collection won the Nebula Award.
  • Collected Stories by Lewis Shiner. This extensive and multi-genre collection was prepared as an ebook for StoryBundle.
  • Errantry: Strange Stories by Elizabeth Hand.

Those who pay more than the bonus price of $12 get all three regular titles, plus five more:

  • Women Up to No Good by Pat Murphy. Two stories in the collection were nominated for the Nebula Award.
  • Strange Ladies: 7 Stories by Lisa Mason Six Stories by Kathe Koja. The collection was created by the author for StoryBundle.
  • What I Didn’t See: Stories by Karen Fowler. The collection won the World Fantasy Award and the title story won the Nebula.
  • Wild Things by C.C. Finlay. The collection was prepared as an ebook for StoryBundle and has a brand-new Afterword. Finlay is the editor of F&SF.

(15) NEBULA CONFERENCE. SFWA President Cat Rambo has vivid memories of “Nebula Conference 2016, Chicago”.

For me, so much of the weekend was a reaffirmation of joy in our genre and the worlds that we love, worlds created by some of the best and brightest. Opportunity to talk with so many talented, kind, and outstanding members of the industry. A chance to stand by one of my heroes, someone whose work I’ve read most of my life and who has been one of my role models, and see her body of work recognized. A chance to be in a place where people treated each other with respect as peers and took pride in each other’s accomplishments, where there weren’t the sort of pettinesses that belong on the playground rather than among fellow professionals. A chance to tell people some of what SFWA’s been working hard at in the past year, and some of what’s coming down the pike.

And Liz Argall is still buzzing about Henry Lien’s Radio SFWA.

(16) CONVERT MADE. Say what you like about Seveneves, Bill Gates wrote on his website that it’s got him back reading sf.

“What Bill Gates says: “I hadn’t read any science fiction for a decade when a friend recommended this novel. I’m glad she did. The plot gets going in the first sentence, when the moon blows up. People figure out that in two years a cataclysmic meteor shower will wipe out all life on Earth, so the world unites on a plan to keep humanity going by launching as many spacecraft as possible into orbit.

“You might lose patience with all the information you’ll get about space flight—Stephenson, who lives in Seattle, has clearly done his research—but I loved the technical details. Seveneves inspired me to rekindle my sci-fi habit.””

(17) STAY INVESTED IN THE FUTURE. Helen Sharman speaks out — “First UK Astronaut calls for more Brits in space”.

Britain’s first astronaut has said the UK risks becoming a “backward nation” if the government does not pay to send more people into space.

Helen Sharman believes the country would lose many of the benefits of Tim Peake’s mission if a commitment to more flights is not made very soon.

Ms Sharman said that this was the UK’s “last chance” to be involved “in the future of the human race”.

She spoke to BBC News on the eve of the 25th anniversary of her spaceflight.

The government has effectively paid for one spaceflight, Tim Peake’s, according to Ms Sharman. After he returns to Earth in June, it is unlikely there will be more UK astronauts in space unless the nation makes a further commitment of funds at a ministerial meeting of European Space Agency (Esa) member states later this year.

(18) MR. ROBOT SEASON 2 TRAILER. The Hollywood Reporter summarized the preview video.

“This is what revolution looks like,” the text of the trailer reads. “Control is an illusion.”

Although they were successful in their hack, fsociety will face more obstacles in season two. “They need to know we haven’t given up,” Darlene (Carly Chaiken) says. “That we meant what we said about changing the world.”

However, the most worrisome image in the clip is Mr. Robot himself (Slater) as he puts a gun to Elliot’s head. “Our revolution needs a leader,” he tells Elliot.

 

(19) NEWS FOR HITCHHIKERS. “Towel Day” is coming on May 25, and Nerdist reports a candy store is readying its supply of babelfish.

The fandom of Douglas Adams and his writing is intense, to say the least, and has even resulted in a holiday to honor the late author. Every May 25th, fans around the world celebrate “Towel Day” which itself is a reference to what Adams thought to be the most important item you could have with you through your galactic travels.

As a way of showing their love of everything Hitchhiker’s, a candy shop in Florida that specializes in nerdy confections decided to celebrate by creating some Babel fish of their very own. Using an antique 19th-century drop candy roller, the folks at Public Displays Of Confection rolled out a serendipitous 42 bags of these fish shaped candies just in time for Towel Day, and we can only assume that they went with piña colada flavor because it’s just too hard to perfect the essence of a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.

[Thanks to Hampus Eckerman, Cat Rambo, Chip Hitchcock, Steve Davidson, Tracy Benton, Darren Garrison, Steven Saus, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Mark Twain Pixel Scroll 4/30/16 Never Mind The Scrollocks, Here’s The Sex Pixels

One hundred percent pure Scroll.

(1) NOT QUITE FAILURE TO LAUNCH. “Nail-biting start for Russia’s new Vostochny space centre” – BBC has the story.

“Oh please, darling, fly!”

A technician standing behind me was really nervous during the launch countdown at Vostochny, a new space centre in Russia’s Far East.

It was the second launch attempt – a day after the previous one had been aborted at the last minute.

I noticed that some of the technician’s colleagues also had pale faces and had crossed their fingers.

It emerged later that a cable malfunction had led to the postponement of Wednesday’s launch.

This time there was relief for Russia’s federal space agency, Roscosmos, as the Soyuz rocket, carrying three satellites, blasted off and the booster stage separated.

President Vladimir Putin had travelled 5,500km (3,500 miles) to watch the launch and was in a black mood after Wednesday’s cancellation, berating Vostochny’s managers for the financial scandals that have blighted this prestige project.

(2) DEAD TO RIGHTS. For a collision between the real world and fantasy, see “Gucci warns Hong Kong shops on paper fakes for funerals”. Gucci is trying to prevent people from selling paper mockups (of their products) to be burned in placate-ones-ancestors ceremonies.

Italian luxury goods maker Gucci has sent warning letters to Hong Kong shops selling paper versions of its products as offerings to the dead.

Paper replicas of items like mansions, cars, iPads and luxury bags are burnt in the belief that deceased relatives can use them in the afterlife.

Demand for these products is highest during the Qingming “tomb-sweeping” festival, which happened last month.

The shops were sent letters but there was no suggestion of legal action.

(3) NEAL STEPHENSON CONNECTION. Kevin Kelly writes “The Untold Story of Magic Leap, the World’s Most Secretive Startup” in the May issue of Wired, about mega-mysterious virtual reality company Magic Leap.

Among the first people (CEO Rony) Abovitz hired at Magic Leap was Neal Stephenson, author of the other seminal VR anticipation, Snow Crash.  He wanted Stephenson to be Magic Leap’s chief futurist because ‘he has an engineer’s mind fused with that of a great writer.’  Abovitz wanted him to lead a small team developing new forms of narrative.  Again, the myth maker would be making the myths real.

The hero in Snow Crash wielded a sword in the virtual world.  To woo Stephenson, four emissaries from Magic Leap showed up at Stephenson’s home with Orcrist–the ‘Goblin-cleaver’ sword from The Hobbit trilogy.  It was a reproduction of the prop handcrafted by a master wordsmith.  That is, it was a false version of the real thing used in the unreal film world–a clever bit of recursiveness custom-made for mixed reality.  Stephenson was intrigued.  ‘It’s not every day that someone turns up at your house bearing a mythic sword, and so I did what anyone who has read a lot of fantasy novels would:  I let them in and gave them beer,’ he wrote on Magic Leap’s blog.  ‘True to form, hey invited me on a quest and invited me to sign a contract (well, an NDA actually).’ Stephenson accepted the job.  ‘We’ve maxed out what we can do on 2-D screens, he says.  ‘Now it’s time to unleash what is possible in 3-D, and that means redefining the medium from the ground up.  We can’t do that in small steps.’  He compared the challenge of VR to crossing a treacherous valley to reach new heights.  He admires Abovitz because he is willing to ‘slog through that valley.'”

Magic Leap has also hired Ernest Cline as a consultant.

(4) REYNOLDS RAP. The Traveler at Galactic Journey has kind words for a prozine in “[April 30, 1961] Travel Stories (June 1961 Galaxy)”.

My nephew, David, has been on an Israeli Kibbutz for a month now.  We get letters from him every few days, mostly about the hard work, the monotony of the diet, and the isolation from the world.  The other day, he sent a letter to my brother, Lou, who read it to me over the phone.  Apparently, David went into the big port-town of Haifa and bought copies of Life, Time, and Newsweek.  He was not impressed with the literary quality of any of them, but he did find Time particularly useful.

You see, Israeli bathrooms generally don’t stock toilet paper…

Which segues nicely into the first fiction review of the month.  I’m happy to report I have absolutely nothing against the June 1961 Galaxy – including my backside.  In fact, this magazine is quite good, at least so far.  As usual, since this is a double-sized magazine, I’ll review it in two parts.

First up is Mack Reynolds’ unique novelette, Farmer.  Set thirty years from now in the replanted forests of the Western Sahara, it’s an interesting tale of intrigue and politics the likes of which I’ve not seen before.  Reynolds has got a good grasp of the international scene, as evidenced by his spate of recent stories of the future Cold War.  If this story has a failing, it is its somewhat smug and one-sided tone.  Geopolitics should be a bit more ambiguous.  It’s also too good a setting for such a short story.  Three stars.

(5) POHL PIONEERED. In a piece on The Atlantic by Michael Lapointe, ”Chernobyl’s Literary Legacy, Thirty Years Later”, the author credits Fred Pohl with writing the first novel about Chernobyl and says that Pohl’s 1987 Chernobyl “is done on an epic scale.”

(6) INDIE NOVELTY. Cedar Sanderson tells how she self-published a coloring book in “Non-Traditional Books” at Mad Genius Club.

So why am I telling you about this? Well, it’s different. Someone reading this may be a terrific artist (I’m not, by the way. I doodle really well) and this might be a great way for them to get a product on the market. I figure you can learn along with me, or from my mistakes, so you don’t have to make the ones I did.

Ingredients for a Coloring Book: 

  • Pens, pencils, and paper
  • A thematic idea (mine was adorable dragons and flowers)
  • Line-Art (this from the pen and paper, or you could create it digitally, which would be even better)
  • A good scanner
  • Graphics software: Gimp will work, Photoshop is actually better for this
  • Wordprocessing software: I laid the book out in Microsoft Word. You could use InDesign if you have it and are comfortable with it.
  • Patience

Cost? Well, not counting the cost of pens, ink, paper (I had all of those at the beginning, although I did invest some in upgrades) I spent about $12 on Inktail’s final production stages. That was $10 for a Createspace ISBN and $2 for stock art elements to put on the cover. Time? Well, now, that’s a horse of a different color.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

Born April 30, 1938 — Larry Niven.

(8) TO THE LITTLE SCREEN. ScreenRant reports “Wheel of Time Book Series to Become TV Show”.

Fans of the best-selling American fantasy novel series Wheel of Time, created by Vietnam War veteran and prolific genre fiction writer Robert Jordan, are no doubt well familiar with the epic, fourteen-novel long series for its many well-detailed narrative elements and Hugo award-winning reputation. Drawing from European and Asian mythology, Jordan (who was born James Oliver Rigney Jr.) saw fit to create a fantasy realm and spiritual mythos that borrows elements from Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity. The resulting overarching narrative accordingly featured an overarching thematic concern with the forces of light and dark, mirroring the metaphysical concepts of balance and duality in kind.

As an answer to British novelist and former Oxford University professor J.R.R. Tolkien’s likeminded The Lord of the Rings, Jordan made a name for himself until the time of his death in 2007 as the chief successor to the throne of bestselling imaginative fantasy. The legacy that Wheel of Time has since left in the wake of its author’s death still holds a certain reverence for his grandly orchestrated fiction – and now that special place the series holds in the hearts of many fans looks to be fit for future production as a major network TV series.

Posting to the official Google+ account for the Wheel of Time franchise and intellectual property, Jordan’s widow, Harriet McDougal, was pleased to let fans of the series know that a late legal dispute with Red Eagle Entertainment has been resolved, meaning that the production of an official TV series based on her late husband’s masterwork will soon be announced. Speaking on behalf of Jordan’s estate, McDougal posted the following:

“Wanted to share with you exciting news about The Wheel of Time. Legal issues have been resolved. The Wheel of Time will become a cutting edge TV series! I couldn’t be more pleased. Look for the official announcement coming soon from a major studio.”

(9) MONSTERPALOOZA. Lisa Napoli explains that “Halloween is a $7.5 billion year-round industry”.

Here among the crowds of freakily dressed people at Monsterpalooza at the Pasadena Convention Center, Yvonne Solomon stands out. Not because of the red dress she’s wearing, with a plunging neckline. It’s the large old-fashioned baby carriage she’s pushing. In it are four distinctive creatures:  “These are my were-pups,” she said. “They’re silicone, handmade little pieces of art.”

Were-pups.  Baby were-wolves. Solomon paid an artist $650 a piece for these creepy-looking critters. At this gathering of fellow monster fans, she’s assured a sympathetic reception for her investment. Horror fests like Wizard World and Shuddercon take place every weekend, all around the country. People happily fork over pricey admission fees for the chance to mingle with like-minded mutants and monsters.

“You’re in a big hall with a bunch of people you don’t have to explain yourself to,” Keith Rainville said, who is here selling vintage Mexican and Japanese horror tchotchkes. “We’re all from the same mothership that dropped us off in this weird world.”

Rainville is one of 200 vendors here, selling one-of-a-kind pieces, like what Paul Lazo brought from his little shop of collectibles in New York: “He is a severed head with a bloody pan and he’s damn handsome.”

(10) INKSTAINED WRETCHES ON DISPLAY. Shelf Awareness catches a vision of the American Writers Museum.

The American Writers Museum, the first in the United States to focus exclusively on American writers, “past and present,” will open in March 2017 in downtown Chicago, Ill. Located at 180 North Michigan Avenue, the museum expects to draw up to 120,000 visitors each year and is working with more than 50 authors’ homes and museums around the country to build its exhibitions. Among the planned attractions are re-creations of writers’ homes and fictional locales (including Tara, Cannery Row and the House of Seven Gables), interactive exhibits about writers’ lives and methodologies (including “travels” with Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck, for example), and ample space for film screenings, talks, readings and presentations. The museum aims to hold exhibitions on a range of subjects. Roberta Rubin, the former longtime owner of the Book Stall at Chestnut Court in Winnetka, Ill., is co-chairman of the museum’s board of directors.

(11) VIRTUOSO. Hear the Star Trek: Voyager (Theme) “Metal cover” done by YouTube guitarist Captain Meatshield.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Will R., and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

Pixel Scroll 11/20 Some people call me the Pixel Cowboy, some call me the Pompatus of Scrolls

(1) Richard Powers has been inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame reports Irene Gallo on Tor.com.

Science fiction artist Richard Powers is among the Society of Illustrators’ newest Hall of Fame inductees, along with Beatrix Potter, Peter de Seve, Marshall Arisman, Guy Billout, Rolf Armstrong, and William Glackens. Since 1958, the Society of Illustrators has elected to its Hall of Fame artists recognized for their “distinguished achievement in the art of illustration.”

Richard Powers was a hugely influential science fiction illustrator throughout the 1950s and ’60s…

Powers was dedicated to a fine art career alongside of his commercial work—the influences of modern art were clear throughout his illustration. While trends switched towards more literal and rendered illustration in the ’80s to ’90s, Powers is still beloved today. This year’s World Fantasy Convention mounted a special exhibit of nearly 90 Powers paintings and collages.

 

Paperback covers by Richard Powers.

Paperback covers by Richard Powers.

(2) There are many shots of the Richard Powers exhibit in John Davis’ photos from the 2015 World Fantasy Convention.

Andrew Porter, who sent the link, hopes you will also appreciate the five paintings and the other Powers material he contributed to the show.

(3) Gallo’s post “Twelve Tor.com Story Illustrations Make it Into Society of Illustrators Awards” features all 12 images.

We talk a lot of about writers and stories on Tor.com but we always strive to give equal attention to our visual presentation. We are indebted to the artists who work tirelessly to make us, and our stories, look good and connect to readers. With that in mind, I’m sure you can appreciate how delighted and honored I am that 12 illustrations for Tor.com Publishing have been selected for this year’s Society of Illustrators annual exhibition.

(4) Simon Spanton, associate publisher at Gollancz, left Orion on November 20. Orion said Spanton was leaving the publisher after 19 years “by mutual agreement.”

Spanton joined Orion in 1996, having started out as a bookseller in 1986 and after a spell at Macmillan UK.

He first worked on Orion’s Millennium imprint in a wide role encompassing fiction, sports books, military history and children’s fiction before it was bought by Cassell in 1999, after which he became co-editorial director for Gollancz with Jo Fletcher. Spanton was promoted to the position of associate publisher at the sci-fi and fantasy imprint in May 2013, tasked with responsibility for “innovative acquisitions and Gollancz’s social media and community engagement, as well as continuing to publish his award-winning list to its full potential”.

(5) N. K. Jemisin’s newest fan is a reader who had given up on fantasy – but is back now.

There does seem to be a theme running through a lot of the fanmail I get, along these lines: people who’d stopped reading fantasy for whatever reason have been reading my work and then feeling pulled back into the genre. And that’s awesome. I love that my audience contains so many “non-traditional” fantasy fans. But this is the kind of thing that shouldn’t be happening just because of my fiction. There’s plenty of fantasy out there with “no wizards or orcs or rangers or elves”… and while I think there isn’t nearly enough fantasy out there starring middle-aged mothers of color (or biracial polyamorous proto-goddesses, or blind black women, or Asian male ex-gods with daddy issues, or gay black male assassins, or shy black female healers, or…), there’s some other stories like that out there, too. So what’s happening here, that so many ex-fantasy readers — readers who really just need one non-formulaic book to bring them back into the fold — aren’t aware that there’s stuff here they might enjoy?

(6) Pam Uphoff rides to the rescue of NaNoWriMo participants who are out of gas, in her post at Mad Genius Club.

Welcome to the last third of NaNoWriMo, where we all despair! Let me throw out some ideas that might help you get going again.

Finished? Ha! Go back a make a searchable mark (I use ///) everyplace where you told us about something instead of showing us, instead of pulling us into the situation.

Then go back to the start and search those out. Rewrite them. Use lots of dialog. Don’t be stiff and terse. Have some fun. Have your hero call something pink. Have your heroine disagree. “Don’t be silly! It’s obviously a soft dusty salmon.” “It’s a fish?” Or flip the genders on it. He’s an artist, he sees these colors. Make the reader laugh. Or cry. Or get mad.

Then go to the next mark and rewrite that bit. Do them all.

(7) A local Spokane man was in court November 16, charged with attacking his neighbor with a Klingon bat’leth, a bladed weapon, reports  TV station KREM.

Carlo Morris Cerutti was in court Monday, accused of attacking his neighbor for putting trash in his trash can on Saturday. Court documents Cerutti, 50, is charged with Assault after swinging a Klingon sword at his neighbor.

Documents said Cerutti’s wife, Joyce, had accused their neighbor of putting trash in their trash can. The neighbor told police he had gotten into argument with the wife about the trash.

“Our next door neighbor was evicted and he was throwing his stuff in our garbage can so I took it put it in a bag, took it to him and said Jr. will you please not put your stuff in our garbage can,” said Joyce.

Joyce said the incident only escalated from there.

“I turned around and he chucked the bag at me and hit me in the back and then he started throwing garbage all over my yard,” said Joyce.

The neighbor said after the argument, Cerutti came rushing out of his house with a weapon that had multiple blades and started swinging. Court documents said the neighbor put his hands up and blocked the blade from striking him. The neighbor said he was able to pull the weapon away from Cerrutti and in the process, he fell backwards off the porch. The neighbor then called 911. Documents said when police arrived on scene Cerrutti was taken into custody for Assault and was later booked into the Spokane County Jail.

Joyce said that her husband never attacked the neighbor with a sword.  She said her husband did grab the Klingon sword off the wall and said he did swing it at the neighbor. She said he only did this after he barged into their home.

(8) Neal Stephenson will be at George R. R. Martin’s Jean Cocteau Theatre in Santa Fe to discuss Seveneves next Friday at 3:30 p.m.

Neal Stephenson

Neal Stephenson

(9) While I don’t think Brian Clegg’s “A Strange Relationship” for the SFWA Blog is heretical, surely somebody will.

Although definitions of science fiction are tricky, it surely specializes in “What if?” – placing humans (or aliens) in an imagined scenario that has an element of science or technology in its set-up and seeing how they react. This is why Jules Verne got it so wrong about H. G. Wells when comparing their fictional voyages to the Moon. Verne remarked “It occurs to me that his stories do not repose on a very scientific basis… I make use of physics.” Yet in reality, Wells did the better job. He took an admittedly fictional means of travel, but then followed it through logically in its impact on humans. Verne took an existing technology – the cannon – and used it in a totally illogical fashion, firing his astronauts into space with a g force that would have left them as soup.

It is far more important in science fiction for the follow-through of the “what if” to be realistic and logical than it is for the setup to make a clear prediction of scientific possibility.

(10) Cheezburger is letting people vote on whether “H.P. Lovecraft Looks Totally Like Woodrow Wilson”.

And you wonder why I don’t link more often to Cheezburger…

(11) Michael G. Gross, who designed the Ghostbusters logo and a famous/infamous magazine cover died November 16 at the age of 70.

Gross is perhaps best remembered at National Lampoon for the 1973 “Death” issue, whose cover featured the words “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog” emblazoned over an image of a dog with a gun to its head. “This very talented comedian named Ed Bluestone came to the office in 1972 with the line,” Beard told Splitsider in 2012. “The next day Michael found a dog who would turn its eyes away from a pistol with a little prodding. I saw this picture and simply couldn’t believe it. And it was like with a wave of his left hand. Magic.”

(12) Mike Hale finds many good things to say about Netflix’ new Jessica Jones in his review at the New York Times.

Jessica Jones,” the second of Netflix’s original series based on Marvel comic books (after “Daredevil”), is reluctantly superheroic. Created by Melissa Rosenberg, the screenwriter of five “Twilight” movies as well as a writer on TV shows including “Dexter,” and starring the acerbic Krysten Ritter of “Don’t Trust the B____ in Apartment 23,” it’s a clever 21st-century take on film noir, featuring a heroine who hides her superstrength because it’s at the root of her extreme emotional vulnerability and fear. There’s a tricky balancing act going on — crossing a moody detective show with both a comic action thriller and a woman-in-peril psychological drama — but Ms. Rosenberg proves to be mostly up to the task.

(13) M.I.T. researchers’ haste to open a time capsule addressed to the year 2957, found during construction, led the media to kid them about their deficient counting skills.

(14) Hunger Games‘ heroine Katniss Everdeen (played by comedian Whitney Avalon) and Harry Potter‘s Hermione Granger (played by actress Molly C. Quinn) are facing off in an epic edition of Princess Rap Battles.

[Thanks to Brian Z., John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day JJ .]

Pixel Scroll 10/2 The Roads Must Roll Over

(1) Shea Serrano at Grantland asks “Which Movie Astronauts Would You Want To Be Stranded With In Outer Space?”

And which ones would you definitely not want to be with in outer space?

This doesn’t necessarily presume that you and your astronaut friend will definitely face a life-or-death situation, but it does consider how that astronaut would navigate any life-or-death situation that might arise. Other things involved: How would he or she handle the mental punishment that being in space inflicts upon the brain? How would he or she deal with the possibility of having to spend the rest of his or her life in space? How would he or she react should aliens turn out to be real? And so on.

Normally, these sorts of conversations require rules to function efficiently, but really there’s only one that needs to be instituted here. It’s easy: We need to get rid of the astronauts from movies in which people live in space full time (or mostly full time), because those characters are already comfortable with the unnaturalness of Being In Space. So let’s consider only those who have traveled to space or been placed into space in a temporary context.

His article lists lots of obvious favorites, and others I’d never thought of in those terms.

(2) ”Skin Feeling” , Sofia Samatar’s beautifully-written essay on what it is like to be an African-American professor (she teaches at the University of California Channel Islands) covers a lot of ground, and one of her points is this:

In the logic of diversity work, bodies of color form a material that must accumulate until it reaches a certain mass. Once that’s done, everyone can stop talking about it. For now, we minimize talk by representing our work with charts that can be taken in instantly, at a glance. In her book On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life, Sara Ahmed writes of diversity workers of color: “We are ticks in the boxes; we tick their boxes.” The box is the predictable form, the tick the sign of how quickly you can get past it. Get past us.

Well, you ask, should we dissolve all the committees, then? Keep faculty of color off them? What’s your solution? Try to read the demand for solutions and your frustration for what they are: products of the logic of diversity work, which wants to get the debt paid, over with, done. Diversity work is slow and yet it’s always in a rush. It can’t relax. It can’t afford the informal gesture, the improvised note, the tangential question that moves off script, away from representation into some weird territory of you and me talking in this room right now. Diversity work can’t afford to entertain the thought that some debts can’t be paid, that they might just be past due. With agonizing slowness, this work grinds on toward payment—that is, toward the point where it will no longer exist. It’s a suicidal project.

(3) The sf magazine field is probably about to experience a contraction, says Neil Clarke in “Editor’s Desk: The Sad Truth About Short Fiction Magazines” at Clarkesworld.

  1. Quality

If the number of quality stories isn’t growing as fast as the number of stories publishers need to fill all their slots, then quality must dip to fill the void.

  1. Sustainability

If the number of readers willing to pay for short fiction isn’t growing as fast as the financial need of the publishers, the field begins to starve itself.

…But what can any of us do about it? Here’s a few suggestions:

  • Subscribe to or support any magazine that you’d be willing to bail out if they were to run aground. Just-in-time funding is not a sane or sustainable business model. If you want them to succeed, then be there before they need you.
  • If a magazine doesn’t offer subscriptions or have something like a Patreon page you can support them financially through, encourage them to do so.
  • Encourage SFWA to raise their qualifying rate for short fiction. Why? Given the small explosion in markets that are paying that rate, it’s clearly too easy for publishers to earn that badge. Yes, that rate is a badge of honor for publishers. Seriously though, the authors deserve better.
  • Don’t support new (or revival) projects until they clearly outline reasonable goals to sustain the publication after their initial funding runs out.
  • Introduce new readers to your favorite stories and magazines. This is particularly easy with so many online magazines being freely available at the moment. We need more short fiction readers if all this is to remain sustainable. This plays into my comments on short fiction reviews last month.

(4) Neal Stephenson has been named a Miller Distinguished Scholar at the Santa Fe Institute. He visited SFI this week and will return for periodic visits through the end of 2016.

The Miller Distinguished Scholarship is the most prestigious visiting position at SFI, awarded to highly accomplished, creative thinkers who make profound contributions to our understandings of society, science, and culture.

Stephenson will be the sixth SFI Miller Scholar since SFI Board Chair Emeritus Bill Miller conceived and underwrote the scholarship in 2010. Stephenson follows philosopher of science Daniel Dennett (2010), quantum physicist Seth Lloyd (2010-2011), actor/playwright Sam Shepard (2010-2011), philosopher/author Rebecca Goldstein (2011-2012), and author/narrative historian Hampton Sides (2015-2016).

(5) George R.R. Martin describes his fascination with the red planet for the Guardian in “Our long obsession with Mars”.

Once upon a time there was a planet called Mars, a world of red sands, canals and endless adventure. I remember it well, for I went there often as a child. I come from a blue-collar, working-class background. My family never had much money. We lived in a federal housing project in Bayonne, New Jersey, never owned a car, never saw much of anywhere. The projects were on First Street, my school was on Fifth Street, and for most of my childhood those five blocks were my world.

It never mattered, though, for I had other worlds. A voracious reader, first of comic books (superheroes, mostly, but some Classics Illustrated and Disney stuff as well), then of paperbacks (science fiction, horror and fantasy, with a seasoning of murder mysteries, adventure yarns, and historicals), I travelled far and wide while hunched down in my favourite chair, turning pages.

… Growing up, I think I went to Mars more often than I went to New York City, though Manhattan was only 45 minutes and 15 cents away by bus.

Mars, though … I knew Mars inside and out. A desert planet, dry and cold and red (of course), it had seen a thousand civilisations rise and fall. The Martians that remained were a dwindling race, old and wise and mysterious, sometimes malignant, sometimes benevolent, always unknowable. Mars was a land of strange and savage beasts (thoats! Tharks! sandmice!), whispering winds, towering mountains, vast seas of red sand crisscrossed by dry canals, and crumbling porcelain cities where mystery and adventure lurked around every corner.

(6) “Still not a reason to start drinking coffee,” says John King Tarpinian. Star Wars Spiced Latte.

Star Wars spiced latte

(7) Today in History:

October 2, 1950 —

  • The “Peanuts” comic strip by Charles M. Schulz was published for the first time.

 

October 2, 1959 —

Twilight zone earl holliman

  • Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone debuts on TV with the episode Where Is Everybody? in which a man finds himself alone in the small town and without any recollection of where or who he is.

(8) Today’s birthday boy –

(9) Kevin J. Anderson recommends the Superstars Writing Seminar, to be held February 4-6, 2016.

If you’re serious about taking your writing career to the next level, this business seminar is a must—three days and nights immersed in a heightened atmosphere of real-world wisdom and professional advice dispensed by best-selling authors Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, David Farland, Eric flint, and James A. Owen. Some of the guest speakers for the 2016 Seminar include Jody Lynn Nye, Penguin/Putnam editor Ann Sowards, and some urban fantasy author named…Bisher…Bonger…no, uhm…Butcher. Yeah, that’s it. Jim Butcher.

There are five scholarships available from the Don Hodge Memorial Scholarship Fund.

(10) Harrison Ford will be honored by BAFTA on October 30 at the Britannia Awards.

Ford will receive the Albert R. Broccoli Britannia Award for Worldwide Contribution to Entertainment at the ceremony to be held at the Beverly Hilton.

“It is impossible to imagine the past 40 years of Hollywood history without Harrison Ford, and his performances are as iconic as the films themselves,” BAFTA Los Angeles chairman Kieran Breen said in a statement.

The ceremony, hosted by actor-comedian Jack Whitehall, will air Nov. 6 on Pop. The Britannia Awards had aired on BBC America in recent years but were carried by TV Guide Network, the predecessor of Pop, in 2010 and 2011.

Other Britannia honorees this year include Orlando Bloom, who will receive the Britannia Humanitarian Award, and Meryl Streep, who will receive the Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film. Sam Mendes, James Corden, Amy Schumer and event production company Done + Dusted will also be recognized.

(11) Here’s a list of “The Best Haunted House for Adults in Los Angeles”.

Though there are nearly 5,000 professional haunted attractions operating nationwide every Halloween, there’s never a guarantee when it comes to true, bone-chilling quality. From haunted mansions and abandoned asylums to old prisons or open fields, you want the haunts that’ll scare you the most. They provide visitors with a horror experience that just makes you feel like you’re in your favorite horror movie. Given its close ties to the entertainment industry, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Los Angeles is home to some of the best haunted houses for adults. This Halloween, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to face your fears at the five best haunted houses for adults in Los Angeles.

(12) A new film clip from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 – “Star Squad”

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Will R., Mark sans surname, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

2015 APF Awards for Most Significant Futures Works

The Association of Professional Futurists has named the winners of its Most Significant Futures Works Awards.

The award is given for the “purpose of identifying and rewarding the work of professional futurists and others whose work illuminates aspects of the future.”

Category 1: Advance the methodology and practice of foresight and futures studies 

thing from the futureThe Thing from the Future (link) The Situation Lab, game 

The Thing from the Future is an imagination game that challenges players to collaboratively and competitively describe objects from a range of alternative futures. The object is to come up with the most entertaining and thought-provoking descriptions of hypothetical objects from different near-, medium-, and long-term futures by playing a card game. The four types of cards are: arc cards (possible futures), terrain cards (contexts, places, and topics), object and mood cards.

Research Foresights: The Use of Strategic Foresight Methods for Ideation and Portfolio Management (link) Ted Farrington, Keith Henson, & Christian Crews, article: Research-Technology Management, March/April 2012, pp.26-33

The authors describes a massive project that used a potpourri of strategic foresight methods – including an Internal Futures Audit, Weak Signals Environmental Scan, Implications Wheels,  Technology Forecast , Inductive Scenarios, Participatory Futures, and Point of View Options — carried out by a network of futurists to influence the strategic research agenda at Pepsico.

Category 2 Analyze a significant future issue 

Mutative Media: Communication Technologies and Power Relations in the Past, Present, and Futures; (link) James A. Dator, John A. Sweeney, and Aubrey M. Yee, monograph: Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

A monograph-length investigation into the nature of social change through the lens of how a range of communication technologies in a variety of cultural contexts has (and has not) impacted the mechanisms and flow of power. It offers four alternative futures, including narrative scripts used for experiential scenarios, and outlines the prototype of a hybrid, mixed-reality game within four very different environments and conditions.

Category 3:  Illuminate the future through literary or artistic works

about1Byologic/Zed.TO (link1 & link2) Trevor Haldenby, cross-platform narrative

“An 8-month narrative told in real-time through an integrated combination of interactive theatrical events and online content. It told the story of the beginning of the end of the world, from a viral pandemic created by ByoLogyc, a fictional Toronto-based biotech company.” They had 8 live events, involved 75 performers, 333 crowdfunders, 3,500 event participants, and 35,000 online engagements. The combination of live events, a fictional website (that looks quite “real”) and the use of social media, brought the future to life in a stunning fashion.

The Museum of Future Government Services (link) Noah Raford, Exhibit

The Museum of Future Government Services, launched at the Government Summit in Dubai, 2014, was perhaps the largest concerted effort by a public institution to create images of the future explicitly designed to shift policy conversations and accelerate innovation. The Museum was structured as an immersive, interactive experience that explored the future of key government services. Museum may be the world’s largest “design futures” exhibition to date (not counting Disney’s Epcot, for example).

hieroglyphProject Hieroglyph, Hieroglyph: Stories & Visions for a Better Future (link) Kathryn Cramer, Ed Finn, and Neal Stephenson; project

Project Hieroglyph at Arizona State University Center for Science and Imagination was inspired by Stephenson’s call for positive science fiction futures and resulted in this first anthology of short stories. Authors include Elizabeth Bear, Cory Doctorow, Bruce Sterling, and Karl Schroeder who aimed to write works of “techno-optimism” that “challenge us to do Big Stuff.”

The award judges are: Bob Treadway, Paul Tero, Oliver Markley, Elizabeth Rudd, Peter Bishop, Bob Frame, Josh Calder, Sam Miller, Kristin Alford, Terry Grim, Natalie Ambrose, Peter Padbury, and Devin Fidler.

[Via Michael J. Walsh.]

Pixel Scroll 7/27 Riffing on AD&D

A long-eared geezer, eight stories and an embarrassing admission in today’s Scroll.

(1) Today’s birthday boy is… Bugs Bunny. He’s 75 years old.

(2) David Steffen answers “Why Do I Value The Hugos?” on Diabolical Plots.

[Excerpt is the second of seven points.]

I’ve been following the Hugos closely for several years, trying to read and review as many of the nominated works as I can digest between the announcement of the ballot and the final deadline.  I also follow the Nebulas, and I glance at the results from other SF genre awards, but for me the Hugos take up most of my attention come award season.  With this eventful Hugo year, it crossed my mind to wonder why the Hugos specifically, and whether I might perhaps be better off devoting more of my attention to awards that don’t collect controversy the way the Hugo Awards always seem to do, and in escalating fashion these last few years….

  1.  The Hugos Have a Long Reading Period

The Nebulas and the Locus awards have very short reading periods (the period of time between the announcement of the ballot and the voting deadline) of only about a month.  If I want to read as much of the fiction as possible, that’s not nearly enough time–I can’t finish all the short fiction, let alone start the novels.  The Hugo ballot is announced around Easter weekend (usually early April or so) and the voting deadline is at the end of July, so there are nearly four months to try to do all the reading.  The Hugo Packet isn’t released right at the beginning of the reading period, but usually enough of the short fiction was published in online venues so that I can fill my reading time with Hugo material.

https://twitter.com/LisaR_M/status/625448045316943872

(3) Then maybe Lisa would rather hear about – Worldcon site selection?

Spacefaring Kitten thinks it’s only fair that Helsinki win the right to host 2017 because all the other contenders have already had a turn…or seven.

A few facts to consider:

Five last countries that have hosted a Worldcon: United States (2015), United Kingdom (2014), United States (2013), United States (2012), United States (2011). Next year, the Worldcon will be in United States. In case the bid for Washington DC in 2017 (that is sort of a favorite at the moment, I guess) is successful, that’s third United States year in a row, and given the fact that there are only US bids for 2018 at the moment, it’s quite probably going to be four years of back-to-back United States Worldcons and seven United States Worldcons in eight years. That’s a lot of United States in one paragraph.

Competing for the 2017 Worldcon location, there are also bids for Montreal (in Canada) and Shizuoka City (in Japan). After 2000, the Worldcon has been in Canada twice (2009, 2003) and in Japan once (2007). Now, I’m sure that all proposed locations would hold a wonderful convention, but Helsinki would certainly be something new.

worldcon(4) Toymakers have got to protect the brand. Or, “Why Thomas the Tank Engine Doesn’t Kill Anybody in Ant-Man.

“I believe in Edgar [Wright] and Joe Cornish’s original drafts it was a train set,” Reed recalls. “At some point in the process that predated my involvement it became Thomas. As I came on, they had not secured the rights to Thomas. We had to do this whole thing where we did this presentation for the people who own the rights to Thomas. Thank God they agreed and found it funny, but there were definite stipulations. For example, nobody could be tied to the tracks and run over by Thomas. Thomas couldn’t be doing anything that could be perceived by children as evil Thomas. Thomas had to stay neutral in the battle, which was always our intention. Like anybody, they’re protective of their brand. I didn’t know what we were going to do if we didn’t get the rights to that. There are certain things I was going to be devastated about if we couldn’t have them. Thomas was one, because… you could do any kind of toy train, but the personality of that thing and the eyes moving back and forth give it a whole vibe and took it to another level.”

(5) Another Castalia House child prodigy! Jeffro Johnson reports in “First Session Report for my Daughter’s Dungeon Design!”

At the age of nine, my daughter has designed a 15 level dungeon, gotten paid for her work, and received back playtest report. It doesn’t get any better than that…!

It’s true – and entertaining, too.

(6) The Official Tolkien Calendar 2016 featuring artwork by Tove Jansson will be released on July 30. The cost is £9.99.

Jansson, who passed away in 2001, is well-known worldwide as the author and artists behind the popular Moomin series. As an accomplished artist, she provided the artwork for the Swedish editions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Hobbit (also later used in Finnish editions). In Boel Westin’s autobiography of Jansson, she is quoted as saying “The figures are banal: dwarves, gnomes, fairies, dark-elves. But the scenery is luring in its macabre cruelty … Haunted woods, pitch-dark rivers, a moon-lit moor with burning wolves.

2016 Tolkien Calendar(7) Ursula K. Le Guin is offering writing advice through an “Online Fiction Workshop” at Book View Cafe. Use the form at the post to submit your question.

I have enough vigor and stamina these days to write poems, for which I am very thankful. It takes quite a lot of vigor and stamina to write a story, and a huge amount to write a novel. I don’t have those any more, and I miss writing fiction.

Reliable vigor and stamina is also required to teach a class or run a workshop, and so I had to give up teaching several years ago. But I miss being in touch with serious prentice writers.

So in in hope of regaining some of the pleasures of teaching and talking about writing fiction with people who do, I’m going to try an experiment: a kind of open consultation or informal ongoing workshop in Fictional Navigation, here on Book View Café.

I hope it will work its own process out as we go along, but here’s how I plan to start:

I invite questions about writing fiction from people who are working seriously at writing fiction.

(8) Explore the author’s earliest novels in Part I of SF Signal’s Interview with Samuel R. Delany.

Q: Your new book, A, B, C: THREE SHORT NOVELS, takes the reader back to the beginning of your career by offering up your first three novels. What is it about these works that impelled you to offer them up again?

Samuel R. Delany: With all these books’ clumsinesses and immaturities, I think—I hope—I was trying for something that is probably harder and harder to see with time’s passing. Indeed, it may never have been there. The only thing that might have thrown some highlighting onto it at the time they were published were slight differences between them and what was then coming out in the genre. Because so many changes have taken place in the background against which individual works now register, however, it’s harder and harder to read the signals.

(9) The Guardian included Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves on its 70 title longlist for the “Not The Booker prize”.

If you want to become part of this noble process, all you have to do is vote for two books from the longlist, from two different publishers, and accompany those votes with a review of at least one of your chosen books in the comments section below. This review should be something over 100 words long, although, as the rules state, we probably won’t be counting all that carefully.

Readers have until August 2 to vote titles onto the shortlist.

(10) After using geometric logic to deduce the wrong writer behind “Ray Blank’s” real-life identity, I was informed by a friend that it’s not even a secret. Eric Priezkalns says it’s him:

Ray Blank is the pen name I use when submitting speculative fiction to publishers.

And just in case I needed more convincing, my friend also ran comparative text samples through IBM Watson Personality Insights. Because science!

Really, though, it’s just not any kind of a secret.

[Thanks to JJ, Mark, Will R., Jonathan Olfert, and John King Tarpinain for some of these stories. Title credit to Soon Lee]

Stephenson and Krauss in L.A. at MOCA 9/15

Neal Stephenson

Neal Stephenson

“Can Science Fiction Revolutionize Science?” will be discussed by sf author Neal Stephenson (Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon) and ASU physicist Lawrence Krauss (The Physics of Star Trek) during Zócalo at MOCA in L.A. on September 15.

Isaac Asimov’s robots. Robert Heinlein’s rocket ships. William Gibson’s cyberspace. Before they vacuumed our houses, put a man on the moon, and changed the way we access information, these inventions were the stuff of science fiction. But today, in an era where it seems we have all the technology we could possibly need, science fiction has taken a dystopian turn. Artificial intelligence turns on its human creators. Genetic engineering causes civilizations to collapse. But what if we created and used science fiction to solve our most intractable problems? How can this genre of literature stoke the ambitions of scientists, engineers, and inventors? Science fiction writer Neal Stephenson and Arizona State University physicist Lawrence M. Krauss, both of whom contributed to the new anthology Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future, visit Zócalo to discuss whether science fiction can truly change contemporary science, and what the alternative futures we imagine mean for present-day innovation.

There is no separate charge for the event but attendees must pay the museum’s admission charge and make a reservation. General admission is $12. Tickets can be purchased online through MOCAstore.

The discussion runs from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Monday, September 15 at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) 250 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA.