Pixel Scroll 1/28/17 The More You Hive, The Less Pixelated You Are

(1) CORTANA’S WRITERS. The Financial Times’ Emma Jacobs, in “Robots replacing our jobs? Microsoft’s Cortana is creating them”, interviewed Joanthan Foster, principal content publishing manager for Microsoft’s Cortana, who oversees a staff of 28 (including a children’s novelist and a playwright) tasked with giving this personal digital assistant a personality.

“Why, for example, does Cortana have to have a favourite movie? ‘Because people are asking that,’ says Mr Foster.  For a while, her favourite film was ET (she skews to science fiction) but today it swings between Star Wars and Star Trek films.  Her favourite TV show is Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

Another sf reference:  Cortana’s name “is a reference to a buxom character clothed in a transparent sheath in the video game Halo.”

How to access this article – Look it up on Google and you will be able to click through to read it. If you use the link above directly, you will hit a paywall.

(2) ASTRONAUT FASHIONS. Washington Post reporter Christian Davenport, in “A first look at the path NASA astronauts will walk when the U.S. launches humans into space again”, has an overview of activities at Cape Canaveral, with reports on activities by Boeing, Blue Origin, Moon Express, and SpaceX.  But the news here is about the Boeing spacesuits.

Then there’s the sleek new blue Boeing spacesuit that, at 20 pounds, weighs 10 pounds less than the one worn by shuttle astronauts. It comes with gloves that work on touch screens and lightweight boots designed by Reebok that feel like slippers. Instead of having a huge fishbowl bubble helmet, as the shuttle astronauts’ suits did, the new suit’s helmet slips over the head like a hood.

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(3) MOVING POSTERS. Disney released a collection of motion posters featuring the cast of the upcoming live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. UPI has the story.

(4) FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB. On February 15 the hosts of the reading series, Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel, will present Michael Cisco and Nicholas Kaufmann. Begins 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar.

Michael Cisco is the author of several novels, including The Divinity StudentThe NarratorThe Great Lover, Animal Money, The Wretch of the Sun, and a short story collection, Secret Hours.  His fiction has appeared in The WeirdLovecraft Unbound, and Black Wings (among others). His scholarly work has appeared in Lovecraft StudiesThe Weird Fiction ReviewIranian Studies, and Lovecraft and Influence. He lives and teaches in New York City.

Nicholas Kaufmann’s work has been nominated for a Bram Stoker Award, a Thriller Award, and a Shirley Jackson Award. His novel Dying is My Business from St. Martin’s Press was selected for the Los Angeles Times Holiday Book Gift Guide, and the sequel, Die and Stay Dead, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. His latest novel is In the Shadow of the Axe, out now from Crossroad Press with an introduction by Laird Barron.

(5) STICK A FORK IN IT. Write On by Kindle, Amazon’s attempt at a Wattpad competitor, is closing down March 22, a year after leaving beta testing. Users have been advised:

Your Amazon.com account will not be affected by the closure of Write On. If you don’t have any content you wish to save, no further action is required on your part.

If you do have content you wish to save, we encourage you to download your posted and drafted stories by March 22.

(6) HURT OBIT. Actor John Hurt died January 25 at the age of 77. The Vanity Fair tribute listed some of his many genre credits –

The cause of death was not immediately reported; Hurt was diagnosed in 2015 with pancreatic cancer, but in October of that year announced that he was “thrilled” to have had his final scan, “and it‘s all gone brilliantly.”

… He earned his first BAFTA award in 1976, for playing gay author and ranconteur Quentin Crisp in the TV film The Naked Civil Servant; that same year, he played notorious Roman emperor Caligula in the TV film classic I, Claudius.

As a trained actor with a resonant voice and an unmistakable screen presence, Hurt could be a leading man—as in the 1984 version of George Orwell’s 1984 and David Lynch‘s The Elephant Man—but may be more familiar to audiences as a supporting player, from the first, unlucky victim of the chestburster in 1979’s Alien to 2016’s Jackie, in which he plays a priest who has the ear of a mourning Jacqueline Kennedy. He earned Oscar nominations for his roles in 1979‘s Midnight Express, as a heroin addict doing time in a Turkish prison, and in The Elephant Man. He’ll also be remembered by a generation of children as the mysterious Mr. Ollivander, wand salesman, from the Harry Potter films. And thanks to a 2013 appearance as the War Doctor on Doctor Who, he will also forever belong to a legion of fans.

In the last decade of his career alone, Hurt worked with some of the world’s most fascinating directors, from Guillermo del Toro in the Hellboy series to Steven Spielberg on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull to Lars von Trier on Melancholia to Joon-ho Bong on Snowpiercer.

— To which we can add The War Doctor in Doctor Who, the voices of Aragorn and Hazel (the rabbit) in the animated Lord of the Rings and Watership Down respectively, and still be guilty of leaving some out.

David Tennant, John Hurt, Matt Smith.

David Tennant, John Hurt, Matt Smith.

(7) GARRAY OBIT. Artist Pascal Garray (1965-2017), a prolific Smurfs creator, passed away January 17.

During his career of 26 years, he also participated in the creation of 17 albums of ‘The Smurfs’ (‘Les Schtroumpfs’), and was the lead artist on at least six albums since 2002. The other regular Smurfs artists are Ludo Borecki, Jeroen de Coninck and Miguel Díaz Vizoso, while most of the writing is done by Thierry Culliford, Alain Jost and Luc Parthoens. Garray had just finished drawing the 35th Smurfs album (‘Les Schtroumpfs et les Haricots Mauves’, about bad eating habits), when he passed away on 17 January 2017.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born January 28, 1981 — Elijah Wood (actor)

(9) RSR’S GUIDE TO SHORT FORM EDITORS. Greg Hullender of Rocket Stack Rank introduces its recently-posted guide to those eligible for the Best Editor Hugo – Short Form category.

With luck, this won’t be as controversial as it was last year. We’ve made it clearer that you’re supposed to use this data to vet a list of editors of works you’ve read—not to construct a slate of people whose publications you’ve never read (or even heard of).

Since people are more likely to know works than editors, we start by helping them find the editors who produced different publications. It’s a lot of work to figure out who’s qualified, so we’ve done that too.

Then, like last year, we show how much work each editor produced and how well that work was reviewed—both in terms of word count and percentage, which we encourage people to use to see how the editors in their list stack up.

New this year is a chart showing how much fiction from new writers each editor published, since this was the commonest thing people asked for last year. There are also sortable tables with the raw data so people don’t need to stare at charts to try to guess which editors were in the top four or five.

As ever, we’d love to hear ideas for what would make this easier to do.

(10) SEMIPROZINE HUGO. Neil Clarke’s Semiprozine.org announced last month they are “Currently updating directory”, which hopefully will happen soon because I need an authoritative answer to settle a difference of opinion!

We are currently updating the directory to reflect any changes in eligibility for the year ending December 31, 2016. Feel free to comment on this post if you have questions.

(11) COACHING. George R.R. Martin reminds everyone how TV shows can be eligible for the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo – Long Form, whether you want them to or not.

This is truly the Golden Age for science fiction and fantasy on television, with more interesting series than ever before… most of them serial dramas. WESTWORLD, for instance. Terrific show. But the entire season is one story. To me, it makes no sense to pick an episode at random and nominate it in Short Form, when every episode depended so much on what had come before and what was to follow. I will be nominating WESTWORLD season one in Long Form, and I urge other WESTWORLD fans to do the same. Then we have STRANGER THINGS, recent Golden Globe nominee, another cool new genre show… I loved the series, but looking back, did I love one episode? No, I loved the whole story, so I’d nominate STRANGER THINGS, season one. Ditto for PENNY DREADFUL, the final season, which wrapped up in fine style last year. You could also make a case for MR. ROBOT, if you consider that sf.

And, of course, there’s GAME OF THRONES. Our sixth season won an unprecedented number of Emmys, setting an all-time record. And there are individual episodes that won Emmy acclaim: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss won for writing for “Battle of the Bastards,” Miguel Sapochnik took the directing Emmy for the same episode, and “The Door” also earned a directing nomination for Jack Bender. But it was the season as a whole that won for Best Drama, and for me, at least, it makes the most sense to nominate GAME OF THRONES, season six, in Long Form.

(12) GREATEST ANIMATOR. Brian Phillips on MTV.com has an article called “The Little Gray Wolf Will Come”, a profile of Yuri Norstein, whose short films “Tale of Tales” and “Hedgehog in the Fog” are regarded as among the greatest pieces of Soviet animation but who has been stuck for 40 years working on a full-length version of Gogol’s The Overcoat that he may never finish.

Here he is, an old man, onstage at the Dom Kino. Cinephiles of Moscow, your evening’s entertainment: Yuri Norstein, 74, white-bearded, small, stout, urbane, rumpled, and mischievous. Sitting in front of a pale gold curtain, with a bump on his nose the size of a pistachio shell. Considered by many to be a great, if tragically self-defeating, Russian artist. Considered by many to be the finest animator in the world.

He did not move to Moscow last week; he knows what they say about him. How he sabotaged his own career at what should have been its peak. How he has not managed to release a new film in 37 years. How he made Hedgehog in the Fog, a movie every Russian child knows by heart, and then Tale of Tales, which international juries have more than once named the greatest animated picture ever made. How he threw it all away to chase an absurd, unattainable ideal, an animated adaptation of Gogol’s short story “The Overcoat” that he has toiled at for nearly 40 years and has never been able to finish. He takes questions at events like this, and the sequence is always the same. First a few respectful queries about his past work, his process, his inspirations. Then, when some brink of nerve has been crossed: When will you finish The Overcoat? Do you think you ever will?

(13) TIMEY-WIMEY STUFF. Science Alert says “Scientists have confirmed a brand new form of matter: time crystals”.

First predicted by Nobel-Prize winning theoretical physicist Frank Wilczek back in 2012, time crystals are structures that appear to have movement even at their lowest energy state, known as a ground state.

Usually when a material is in ground state, also known as the zero-point energy of a system, it means movement should theoretically be impossible, because that would require it to expend energy.

But Wilczek predicted that this might not actually be the case for time crystals.

Normal crystals have an atomic structure that repeats in space – just like the carbon lattice of a diamond. But, just like a ruby or a diamond, they’re motionless because they’re in equilibrium in their ground state.

But time crystals have a structure that repeats in time, not just in space. And it keep oscillating in its ground state.

Imagine it like jelly – when you tap it, it repeatedly jiggles. The same thing happens in time crystals, but the big difference here is that the motion occurs without any energy.

A time crystal is like constantly oscillating jelly in its natural, ground state, and that’s what makes it a whole new form of matter – non-equilibrium matter. It’s incapable of sitting still.

(14) WHAT THE DOCTOR SAYS. David Tennant told The Last Leg viewers it’s all going to be okay:

[Thanks to Dawn Incoognito, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day J-Grizz.]

Pixel Scroll 1/16/17 I’m A Boxticker, Jim, Not A Pixel!

(1) DEDICATED TO MEREDITH. It’s ”Appreciate a Dragon Day”.  According to the Donita K. Paul website:

Appreciate a Dragon Day was started in 2004 by Mrs. Paul to celebrate the release of DragonSpell. We encourage you to join us as we celebrate literacy and have some fun!

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(2) NEANDERTHALS. Jon Mooallem delivers a thoroughly fascinating account of paleoanthropological research in “Neanderthals Were People, Too” at the New York Times.

For millenniums, some scientists believe, before modern humans poured in from Africa, the climate in Europe was exceptionally unstable. The landscape kept flipping between temperate forest and cold, treeless steppe. The fauna that Neanderthals subsisted on kept migrating away, faster than they could. Though Neanderthals survived this turbulence, they were never able to build up their numbers. (Across all of Eurasia, at any point in history, says John Hawks, an anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, “there probably weren’t enough of them to fill an N.F.L. stadium.”) With the demographics so skewed, Stringer went on, even the slightest modern human advantage would be amplified tremendously: a single innovation, something like sewing needles, might protect just enough babies from the elements to lower the infant mortality rate and allow modern humans to conclusively overtake the Neanderthals. And yet Stringer is careful not to conflate innovation with superior intelligence. Innovation, too, can be a function of population size. “We live in an age where information, where good ideas, spread like wildfire, and we build on them,” Stringer told me. “But it wasn’t like that 50,000 years ago.” The more members your species has, the more likely one member will stumble on a useful new technology — and that, once stumbled upon, the innovation will spread; you need sufficient human tinder for those sparks of culture to catch.

I picked that paragraph because it reminds me of Robert Zubrin’s argument about the need for population growth as a prerequisite in developing a starship.

To achieve a 200-times increase over today’s GDP, we will need a population of 54 billion. We will need energy of 2500 terawatts by the year 2200.

Pounding away at the opposite conclusions reached in Paul Ehrlich’s famous book The Population Bomb, Zubrin said, “If humans destroyed more than they made, the earth would be barren already. The real resource is human creativity.” Every mouth comes with a pair of hands and a brain. If we accept Malthusian advice, and act to reduce the world’s population, we will impoverish the future by denying it the contributions the missing people could have made.

(3) THE AI TROPE. Ann Leckie’s “Vericon 2016 GoH Speech” overflows with interesting ideas, just like her fiction.

The very first robot story–the first ever use of the word “robot” in fact–is a robot uprising story. But when Karel ?apek wrote RUR he wasn’t worried about artificial intelligence. The robots of his story aren’t mechanical, they’re made of some sort of synthetic biological material. And the word “robot” which ?apek famously coined, comes from a Czech word for “slave.” It’s a story about the revolt of people made on an assembly line (the first actual assembly line had debuted just ten years earlier). It’s a story about the rebellion of people who were built to be the cheapest, most efficient workers possible, workers you didn’t have to pay, or feed anything in particular, or take any notice or care of. In other words, slaves. And ?apek ‘s story hit a nerve. It didn’t just give us the word for robot, it is the ultimate model for nearly all the robot uprising stories since. So that model–robots as slaves, with all the assumed dangers attendant on enslaving people who outnumber you–is the model we’re using when we think about super smart machines. This has not been lost on any number of science fiction writers, who have used robot and AI stories to comment explicitly on oppression and racism. But just personally–well, I won’t go into my problems with the whole “slaves in my allegory are machines and the masters are human beings” bit, though that’s kind of icky when you think about it, but on top of that I think it’s a dangerous model to use as a basis for actual, serious real world predictions about artificial intelligence.

(4) AUSSIE FANHISTORY. Now available at eFanzines.com, issues of iOTA, a fanzine with news of Leigh Edmonds’ Australian fandom history project.

Here are a pair of excerpts from iOTA #2:

  • The purpose of this little efanzine is to serve as a progress report on my current history project which is to research and write a history of Australian fandom, focusing on the period between 1956 and 1975. It is also a place where I can publish little bits and pieces of the writing and art of Australia’s fan past to help introduce you to the rich vein of material that previous generations of fans have left us.
  • Fanzine Review what you missed in 1939. Our friend Robin Johnson turns up with the most interesting things at times.  Usually it is old airline timetables – and we share an interest it air transport so we can find hours of harmless interest and amusement in airline timetables – but not on this occasion. This time it was a little fanzines with a pink cover produced in the old fashioned way using carbon paper.  (If you are not aware of this form of reproduction, I’m thinking about writing a little series called something like ‘Reproductive Pleasures’ in some future issues.  Some people have never heard of carbon paper, which means that they are young and happy folk.) This little pink and carbon paper produced fanzine is Ultra 1, produced by Eric Russell in Sydney, bearing the date October 1939.  It is probably the fourth fanzine title to be published in Australia after John Devern’s single issue of Science Fiction Review published in February 1939, Australian Fan News, a single issue of which was published by William Veney, Bert Castellari and Eric Russell in May 1939 and three issues of the JSC Bulletin (Junior Science Club) published by Vol Molesworth and Ken Jeffreys in June 1939.  (Thanks to Chris Nelson for his extensive research in this area.)  Of these early titles Ultra was among the early successful Sydney fanzines, seeing fourteen issues published between October 1939 and December 1941 when the commencement of the Pacific War brought an end to most of this kind of frivolity in Australia.

(5) GERONIMO! Neil Clarke has quit his day job and gone into editing full-time.

I’m quite excited—and a little terrified—by the prospect of taking the leap. There are a bunch of uncertainties, like healthcare costs and filling the income gap between Lisa’s new job and my old one, but we’re close enough to give this career switch a try. As some of you know, this has been a major goal of mine since my heart attack four years ago. At age fifty, and after ten years working part-time, I’m finally going to be a full-time editor!

Naturally, my first priority has to be those uncertainties I mentioned: income gap and insurance. As I see it, I have a few things to target:

  1. I’ve altered the Clarkesworld Patreon goals to include direct salary and healthcare expenses. Would be nice if it was that simple, but I figure it’s worth putting out there….

(6) HOW TO MAKE IT TO THE FINISH LINE.  The New York Times tells “Obama’s Secret to Surviving the White House Years: Books”. Some of these titles are of genre interest.

Even books initially picked up as escape reading like the Hugo Award-winning apocalyptic sci-fi epic “The Three-Body Problem” by the Chinese writer Liu Cixin, he said, could unexpectedly put things in perspective: “The scope of it was immense. So that was fun to read, partly because my day-to-day problems with Congress seem fairly petty — not something to worry about. Aliens are about to invade!”

…To this day, reading has remained an essential part of his daily life. He recently gave his daughter Malia a Kindle filled with books he wanted to share with her (including “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” “The Golden Notebook” and “The Woman Warrior”). And most every night in the White House, he would read for an hour or so late at night — reading that was deep and ecumenical, ranging from contemporary literary fiction (the last novel he read was Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad”) to classic novels to groundbreaking works of nonfiction like Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow” and Elizabeth Kolbert’s “The Sixth Extinction.”…

(7) CERNAN OBIT. “Gene Cernan, last man to walk on Moon, dies aged 82” reports the BBC.

Captain Cernan was one of only three people to go to the Moon twice and the last man to leave a footprint on the lunar surface in 1972.

The final words he spoke there were: “We leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return with peace and hope for all mankind.”

He was the commander of the Apollo 17 mission at the time.

Twelve people have walked on the Moon, and only six of them are still alive today

(8) THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

Neil Armstrong, recalling how it felt to look back at Earth from the surface of the moon: “I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born January 16, 1948 – John Carpenter.

(10) QUOTABLE QUOTE: “In England, I’m a horror movie director. In Germany, I’m a filmmaker. In the US, I’m a bum.” – John Carpenter.

(11) BRANDON EASTON INTERVIEW. From Motherboard, “How Diversity Writing Programs Can Help Sci-Fi Live Up to Its Ideals”.

Motherboard: What do you think is really the problem that people aren’t talking about?

Brandon Easton: A lot of the reason why white writers who are entry level aren’t getting work has nothing to do with diversity programs. It’s because showrunners are hiring their buddies who are also EP’s [executive producers] and co-producer level who have these immense salaries that eat up the budget, so that they can’t hire anybody underneath a story editor level. This is what’s going on. Everyone knows this, yet still you have all these disgruntled writers scapegoating diversity programs instead of talking about the real issue at hand, which is nepotism. If you look at how many people graduate from these programs every year that number is so fucking low, it doesn’t even register as a percentage.

Motherboard: Science fiction has a long history of being open-minded about multiculturalism. Some argue that it’s the most open-minded of the genres. Do you think that’s true?

Brandon Easton: Science fiction as a literary genre, in theory, has open-minded concepts. And the fact is that historically, black writers have not been allowed in because for a while the editors, the people who controlled it, the publishing industry itself, even if someone had a great story – once racial politics were revealed, those people didn’t get to work. Now, if you’re talking about TV and film, there has been some really cool stuff that has progressive undercurrents thematically, but, when it comes to hiring practices we still revert back to straight white men as writers and creators of science fiction. Again, I do believe science fiction in its content itself can be extremely progressive and extremely life affirming, but we’re talking about the content versus the content creators. And I think that’s the issue.

Motherboard: I still think science fiction is special versus the other genres. Not only historically in terms of casting, but because when I read the genre, I don’t care what the race of the writer is. I just want to be blown away. Show me a new way of thinking.

Brandon Easton: I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. What I’m saying is that it helps when people get the opportunity. That’s where the problem is. If you want to be really serious about it, the only genre that’s really helped black people more than anything else has been comedy. Historically, I’m going back to the early 1900s, comedy was the only place where black writers could get a chance to write. Several generations of mainstream black stars came out of comedy: Will Smith, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Jamie Fox, Bill Cosby, Chris Tucker, Eddie Murphy, Steve Harvey, Tyler Perry, Wanda Sykes, Whoopi Goldberg and so many others. Comedy is where African Americans have had a shot, as opposed to science fiction, particularly television, has almost been completely closed to black writers.

(12) PRIZEWORTHY. Jonathan Edelstein’s picks in short fiction – “Another year of awards” at Haibane.

I’ll start with novelettes rather than short stories, because that way I can start with my favorite story of 2016: Polyglossia by Tamara Vardomskaya (GigaNotoSaurus, March 2016). GigaNotoSaurus doesn’t usually get much attention from reviewers and critics, but this is a rich, multi-layered story that is well deserving of an award.

Polyglossia is a story of linguistics, cultural survival, family and resistance to oppression – not necessarily in that order – set in a low-magic fantasy world that suggests the early twentieth century. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a fan of good world-building, and the world of this story is intricately detailed and plausible; more than that, the world-building is integrated into the plot and informs the characters’ actions such that no detail is wasted. The linguistics are also tightly integrated into the plot – the author is a Ph.D. candidate in linguistics with an interest in the philosophy of language, and it shows – and the politics of language and cultural preservation come to play a key part in its resolution. At the same time, the story calls into question what we call family, what duties we owe to our ancestors, and how to balance those duties against the exigencies of politics. Polyglossia is rewarding on several levels – thus far, I’ve never failed to get something new out of it with each rereading – and if I had to pick one story that defined speculative fiction for me in 2016, it would be this one.

(13) STEALING A MARCH. Dan Wolfgang very carefully avoids stepping on Sarah A. Hoyt’s Sad Puppies turf while offering slates for the Dragon Awards and Hugo Awards in “A Very Special Message About Pooka Related Sadness”.

Sad_Pookas--678x381

The post is labeled “satire,” but here are typical examples of the names and works populating the slates:

Best Editor, Long Form

Best Semiprozine

Best Fanzine

(14) ROCKET RESOURCE. Greg Hullender sends word that Rocket Stack Rank has posted its page to help people pick artists for the 2017 Best Professional Artist Hugo.

We’ve added some features to make this easier to use, based on our own use (we’ve both already used it ourselves to make our own nominations) but we’ve realized that Eric and I use it very differently, so we’d welcome feedback from others. As with much else involving awards, there’s no one “right” way, so it’s good to support a number of different ways.

Eric is the artistic one (he can actually draw), so he wants to see several pieces by the same artist and makes judgments on that artist’s style overall. When he sees things he likes, he wants to visit that artist’s site, look at their gallery—even read interviews with the artist.

I don’t know art, but I know what I like. I want to quickly flip through all the pictures, extract the ones that I like, and then winnow down the list. (“Extract” means “Press ctrl-click on the author’s name at the top of the lightbox.” That opens a new tab, with that author’s work at the top of it.)

So this year the list contains eligible pictures as well as some that aren’t eligible (either they’re from last year or else they’re from semiprozines). The award is for an artist, not a particular work, after all, and this provides a bit more context on many of the artists. No one is listed who doesn’t have at least one eligible work, though, and those are highlighted.

Since the usual way to use the list is by opening the lightbox and then flipping through the pictures, we inserted an image of the Hugo rocket to separate artists. Eric found that useful, but I discovered that I paid almost no attention to which artist was which until after I’d selected about fifteen pictures I liked.

Winnowing the list wasn’t that hard (for me—Eric’s process was more sophisticated). I looked at all fifteen just at the thumbnail scale, and dropped three or four that I decided weren’t really as good. I dropped a few more because they really only had one picture I’d liked and the rest looked different. (In one case, I went to the artist’s home page to confirm that other pics in his/her gallery really did look like the single picture I was using to judge.) When I had six, I eliminated one because I didn’t like any of that artist’s pictures that were actually qualified for 2016. (So much for the idea that it’s about the artist, not the art.)

To fill out the Hugo Ballot, I copy/paste the author’s name from the web site and for the example of that author’s work, I use a link to that artist’s place on the main Professional Artists’ page. For example, http://www.rocketstackrank.com/2017/01/2017-professional-artists.html#JulieDillon points to Julie Dillon’s work on our page. (It’s what you get when you click on her name in the lightbox.)

We’d love to know how well this works for other filers and what we might do to make it better.

(15) HIDDEN HISTORY. Lauren Sarner, in “Tim Powers Loves Conspiracies” at Inverse, interviews the author of The Anubis Gates, Last Call and Declare about hanging out with Philip K. Dick and the allure of conspiracy.

What was Philip K. Dick like?

Since his death, there has arisen a kind of caricature of him. If you just read casually, you’d get the impression that he was this drug addled, crazy visionary who imagined God spoke to him. Actually he was a very sociable, funny, realistic, generous, gregarious friend. Not at all the William Blake crazy mystique the general impression has become. If you read his last few books, like VALIS and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, you can see that this was a rational, skeptical, humorous person. But it always does annoy me when people say, ‘Didn’t he like live in a cave and wander up and down the street talking to himself?’

(16) YOU CAN TELL A BOOK (COVER) BY ITS COVER. JJ sent this link — “The Cover of Each Max Gladstone Book Has Predicted the Cover of the Next One” from Tor.com — with a recommendation:

Okay, this is not new, but it is too fucking funny (you have to read all the way to the end for the final cover).

I say it lives up to the hype…

(17) RESURRECTED TALENT. IMDB shows some pretty hefty credits for Citizen Vader (2014):

A lonely widower stalks his deserted mansion, gloomily contemplating ending his own life. His last word may hold the key to what has sent him down this dark path.

 

Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)

Aidan Duffy
George Lucas (characters)
Orson Welles (characters)

Music Department

Bernard Herrmann original score music
John Williams original score music

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Hampus Eckerman, Aziz H.Poonawalla, Cat Rambo, Andrew Porter, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer Sylvester.]

Pixel Scroll 1/12/17 Midnight at the Well of Pixels

(1) THE ARTIST FORMERLY KNOWN AS TYRION. ScienceFiction.com says “Peter Dinklage Is Rumored To Be In Talks To Join ‘Avengers: Infinity War’” and makes a very entertaining post from its inconclusive guesses about what Marvel character he might play.

…The next two ‘Avengers’ movies are expected to shoot back-to-back and whatever role Dinklage is in negotiations for, he will appear in both.

Very little is known about ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ other than it will feature every surviving Marvel Cinematic hero, including all of the Avengers, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy.  And it will feature the clash with warlord Thanos, something that has been teased since the first ‘Avengers’ in 2012.  It will be directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, who previously helmed ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ and ‘Captain America: Civil War’. …

(2) HELP CHANGE THE LAW. Opponents of the new California autograph law say they have lined up a State Assembly member to introduce legislation to constructively amend AB 1570. It is anticipated the bill will be drafted and ready to introduce by mid-February. In the meantime, they continue to ask people show their support by signing their petition at Change.org.

(3) BUY LINGUAL. Rachel Cordasco’s “Roundtable on Speculative Fiction in Translation: Past, Present, Future” at Tor.com brings together Neil Clarke, Sarah Dodd, Cristina Jurado, Cheryl Morgan, and Marian Womack:

Q: How do you work to increase the visibility of sf in translation? Is it mainly through marketing and social media, or other avenues as well? What can people like myself (reviewers, bloggers) do to promote sf in translation in effective ways?

Neil Clarke: Unfortunately, translated works still carry a bit of stigma with readers. It’s like your mom trying to get you to eat a vegetable she knows you’ll like if you just give it a try. One approach is to be low key about it. Treat it like any other piece of food on the plate and surround it with their more traditional selections. Publishers have been doing this for years…leveraging one success to create opportunities to take risks on others. The big difference is that translations can be significantly more expensive.

The best thing I can do for translations, aside from publishing great stories, is to be actively involved in making connections in the international science fiction community and keep them aware that translation is an option that is available to them.

The best thing readers and reviewers can do is support the books and stories they enjoy. All authors enjoy their books being favorably reviewed, but many of the foreign authors I’ve worked with have mentioned that recognition from the English-language market is extra special. Many of the biggest names in SF are published in English. It carries some prestige most of us don’t even think about.

Sarah Dodd: A really important thing that reviewers and bloggers can do is name the translator. (Yes, it seems basic, but it’s amazing how often reviews of translated fiction omit the translator’s name entirely!) The wonderful @TranslatedWorld began the #namethetranslator campaign in 2013, and they’ve been really promoting the work of translators to give them greater visibility. One of the things we’ve realized, working on other translation projects, is just how much the translator does, going beyond the translation itself—a lot of translators also do a huge amount of work pitching the books and stories they love, and then helping drum up interest and publicize them when they come out. So it would be really great to see more of a focus on the translators themselves (something we’re planning to do in Samovar, through our author and translator spotlights)….

(4) THEY SAID IT COULDN’T BE DONE. Walter Jon Williams, before getting around to the TV adaptation, decided to first reread Philip K. Dick’s novel — “Revisiting the Classics: The Man in the High Castle”.

I hadn’t got very far into the re-reading before I came to the conclusion that there was no damn fucking way this could ever be made into a TV series.  The narration is too internal, there is very little dramatizable action, and you can’t make the manipulation of 49 yarrow stalks followed by the reading of an opaque text dramatically interesting.  What HBO has done, I’m sure, is create a situation more or less parallel to that of the novel, and some characters with the same names and some of the same problems, and then done what TV people do to make that interesting.  The series might well be successful on its own terms, it just won’t be The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick.  (Those of you who have seen the [Amazon] series can tell me if I’m right.  I’m particularly interested to learn whether they made successful drama out of I Ching readings.)

And that’s only his first argument why it couldn’t be made for TV.

(5) CRAVING DYSTOPIAS. Boston Review fiction editor Junot Diaz has put out a call for material on the theme of global dystopias, maximum length 5,000 words.

Over the last decades dystopian narratives have proliferated to the point where they seem to have become our default mode for conceptualizing the future. But dystopias are not merely fantasies of a minatory future; they offer critically important reflection upon our present. If (as Tom Moylan has argued) traditional dystopias crafted cognitive maps of the terrors of the twentieth century, what cognitive maps does our current dystopian turn provide us of our turbulent global present?

Throughout 2017 BostonReview.net will feature stories, essays, and interviews on the theme of global dystopias. The project will culminate in a special print issue in the fall of 2017.

We are seeking essays, interviews, and fiction from writers around the globe that engage the theme of dystopia. Nonfiction, personal essay, genre fiction (SF, fantasy, horror, Afrofuturist, slipstream), and work that resides across/between genres are welcome.

Submissions might explore, but are not limited to:

  • Inequality / precarity
  • The Global South
  • Climate change
  • Global democracy
  • Civic media and civic imaginaries
  • Afrofuturism
  • The War on Terror
  • International politics and speculative futures
  • Post-humanisms
  • The future of females
  • Gendered violence
  • Radical futurities

The submissions period is open for fiction and nonfiction via Submittable until May 1, 2017.

(7) DEALER’S CHOICE. The third video in a series about the origins of George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards universe.is now on YouTube:

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY COMPUTER

  • Activated January 12 — HAL 9000. According to the movie, he was activated in Urbana, Illinois, on January 12, 1992. For reasons that even Clarke didn’t remember, years later, in the book the date shifted to 1997.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born January 12, 1628 — Charles Perrault, author of the Mother Goose stories.
  • Born January 12, 1965 – Rob Zombie

(10) PRATCHETT LIFE COMING TO TV. A Terry Pratchett bio program is in the works at the BBC. From Radio Times “BBC reveal plans for ‘poignant’ new Terry Pratchett documentary”.

The BBC is making a documentary about the late writer Terry Pratchett in which his words will be read in character by actor Paul Kaye.

Terry Pratchett: Back In Black is told in Pratchett’s own words, with contributions from authors Neil Gaiman and Val McDermid, and his long-serving assistant Rob Wilkins. Kaye’s impression of Pratchett is said to be “uncanny” according to the BBC.

The programme, which airs on BBC2 later this year, will follow his life from his troubled schooldays, to being dismissed by literary critics, to the remarkable creation of the Discworld series of fantasy novels, which have since sold over 85 million copies worldwide.

It will also chronicle Pratchett’s battle with Alzheimer’s and his death in 2015.

(11) COMICS ON THE HORIZON. In 2017, at least three SF/F novels will be adapted into comic books. Titan Comics will be adapting Forever War by Joe Haldeman, with Haldeman writing the comic and Mavarno doing the art, as well as Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula, with Newman writing and art by Paul McCaffrey. Finally, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods will become a Dark Horse comic book with P. Craig Russell writing and art by Scott Hamilton.

Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War was a groundbreaking science-fiction novel when originally published in 1974, merging high-concept science fiction with gripping social commentary. Next year, Titan Comics are reprinting and serializing the 1988 adaptation written by Haldeman himself, with art by the legendary Mavarno.
Titan’s reprint of the series serializes the original volumes and come packed with bonus materials, including design elements from the series and multiple, brand-new covers for each issue.

And now, it’s finally making it to comics. Titan has announced an Anno Dracula adaptation set for March of 2017, written by Newman with art by Paul McCaffrey.

Originally published in 1992, the first Anno Dracula novel takes place in 1888, focusing on the early years of a society where vampires have just gone public, and a mystery — for the characters, if not the readers — surrounding the Whitechapel murders of Jack the Ripper.

Gaiman said in a statement: “I’ve been watching P. Craig Russell breaking down the book into comic form, watching Scott Hampton painting the pages, watching Glenn Fabry create the covers, and grinning to myself with delight, because the American Gods comic is going to be an astonishing, faithful, and beautiful adaptation.”

(12) DRAFT NOTICE.  Narragansett Brewing Co. wants you to know “The Unnamable Is Coming…”

Unnamable beer

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mark-kitteh, Rob Thornton JJ, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Michael J. Walsh.]

Neil Clarke Reveals Choices For The Best Science Fiction of the Year

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Neil Clarke’s Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 2 will feature these stories from 2016:

Table of Contents

  • “The Visitor from Taured” by Ian R. MacLeod (Asimov’s, September 2016)
  • “Extraction Request” by Rich Larson (Clarkesworld, January 2016)
  • “A Good Home” by Karin Lowachee (Lightspeed, June 2016)
  • “Prodigal” by Gord Sellar (Analog, December 2016)
  • “Ten Days” by Nina Allan (Now We Are Ten, edited by Ian Whates)
  • “Terminal” by Lavie Tidhar (Tor.com, April 2016)
  • “Panic City” by Madeline Ashby (CyberWorld, edited by Jason Heller and Joshua Viola)
  • “Last Gods” by Sam J. Miller (Drowned Worlds, edited by Jonathana Strahan)
  • “HigherWorks” by Gregory Norman Bossert (Asimov’s, December 2016)
  • “A Strange Loop” by T.R. Napper (Interzone, January/February 2016)
  • “Night Journey of the Dragon-Horse” by Xia Jia (Invisible Planets, edited by Ken Liu)
  • “Pearl” by Aliette de Bodard (The Starlit Wood, edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe)
  • “The Metal Demimonde” by Nick Wolven (Analog, June 2016)
  • “The Iron Tactician” by Alastair Reynolds (Newcon Press)
  • “The Mighty Slinger” by Tobias S. Buckell and Karen Lord (Bridging Infinity, edited by Jonathana Strahan)
  • “They All Have One Breath” by Karl Bunker (Asimov’s, December 2016)
  • “Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea” by Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed, February 2016)
  • “And Then, One Day, the Air was Full of Voices” by Margaret Ronald (Clarkesworld, June 2016)
  • “The Three Lives of Sonata James” by Lettie Prell (Tor.com, October 2016)
  • “The Charge and the Storm” by An Owomoyela (Asimov’s, February 2016)
  • “Parables of Infinity” by Robert Reed (Bridging Infinity, edited by Jonathana Strahan)
  • “Ten Poems for the Mossums, One for the Man” by Suzanne Palmer (Asimov’s, July 2016)
  • “You Make Pattaya” by Rich Larson (Interzone, November/December 2016)
  • “Number Nine Moon” by Alex Irvine (F&SF, January/February 2016)
  • “Things with Beards” by Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld, June 2016)
  • “Dispatches from the Cradle: The Hermit—Forty-Eight Hours in the Sea of Massachusetts” by Ken Liu (Drowned Worlds, edited by Jonathana Strahan)
  • “Touring with the Alien” by Carolyn Ives Gilman (Clarkesworld, April 2016)

Greg Hullender has updated the Rocket Stack Rank “2016 Best SF/F Anthologies” page and passed along his count of the stories that multiple editors picked for their year’s best volumes.

  • “The Visitor from Taured,” by Ian R. Macleod, and “Things with Beards,” by Sam J. Miller, are the only two stories to appear in all four anthologies. [Clarke, Dozois, Horton, Strahan]
  • Three other stories arguably got 4-way approval when you include stories the anthologists recommended during the year. (Horton and Dozois both review short fiction for Locus Magazine.)
  • “Touring with the Alien,” by Carolyn Ives Gilman, and “Terminal,” by Lavie Tidhar, appeared in all but Horton’s anthology, but Horton recommended both works in his Locus Magazine column.
  • “Number Nine Moon,” by Alex Irvine only appeared in Strahan and Clarke’s anthologies but Dozois and Horton both recommended it in their Locus Magazine columns.

Neil Clarke Interview

Clarkesworld crew accept Best Semiprozine Hugo at LoneStarCon in 2013.

Clarkesworld crew accept Best Semiprozine Hugo at LoneStarCon in 2013. (L-R) Neil Clarke, Sean Wallace, Kate Baker, and Jason Heller.

By Carl Slaughter: Clarkesworld has survived and thrived in an ezine landscape strewn with casualties. Editor Neil Clarke’s magazine has been a finalist for or winner of the Hugo, Nebula, Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson, Chesley, World Fantasy, British Fantasy, Locus, and Parsec awards. He has been a three-time Hugo nominee in the Best Short Form category. Clarkesworld has received four Best Semiprozine Hugo nominations and won three times. In October, Clarkesworld celebrated its 10th anniversary.

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CARL SLAUGHTER: What was your vision for Clarkesworld? How has that vision evolved? What’s your vision for the magazine’s future?

NEIL CLARKE: When we launched ten years ago, all any online magazine could hope for was survival and that was rarely the case. Attitudes, revenue opportunities, and a few other things have changed considerably since then. Over the years, we’ve been able to take advantage of this to responsibly grow the magazine into what it is today. Now, our vision is to be thriving and that includes things like becoming more international (subscribers/readers/listeners/writers) and making Clarkesworld my full-time career.

CS: What void do you see Forever filling?

NC: I wouldn’t call it a void. Forever is scratching an itch I had to do more work with novellas and at the same time it promotes stories and authors I’ve enjoyed over the years. It was designed with six, twelve, and twenty-four month subscription milestones that determine whether or not it continues. It’s a fun little side project I started before I started getting regular anthology projects.

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CS: In addition to your Clarkesworld anthologies, what does Wyrm publish?

NC: At the moment, not much more than that. After my heart attack, I reorganized my priorities and began allocating my time more wisely. In addition to the magazines and anthologies, I still have a full-time day job. Wyrm was the easiest thing to scale back without interfering with things I enjoy, so it’s on hold until I leave the day job. I did use Wyrm to get Upgraded into distribution, but that’s the only non-Clarkesworld project it’s touched since 2012.

CS: What are the criteria for inclusion in your annual best series?

NC: The eligibility requirements for The Best Science Fiction of the Year series are very simple. A work must be:

  • science fiction
  • published in English for the first time that year
  • a short story, novelette, or novella

After that, it’s like taking a year’s worth of magazines, anthologies, standalone stories, and collections and turning it into a slush pile. Throughout the year, I’ll flag stories I enjoyed and think I should come back to. That final pass can be a challenge and even when you love a story there’s a chance you won’t be able to include it. For example, last year I was unable to include Greg Egan’s “The Four Thousand, The Eight Hundred” because the reprint rights weren’t available. If a story doesn’t make the final cut or can’t be included, I add them to the recommended reading list in the back of the book.

CS: Why the interest in cyborgs?

NC: Like many my age, much of my early views on cyborgs came from The Six Million Dollar Man (childhood) and cyberpunk (college), but I also remember the Jarvik 7 heart transplant in the early 80’s. My 2012 heart attack made it personal. The considerable damage to my heart caused my doctors to recommended having a defibrillator implanted, so, in early 2013, I went under the knife and became a cyborg. While I was recovering, I dove deeper into the stories and was inspired to launch a Kickstarter campaign for the Upgraded anthology. In many ways this was my attempt to make something positive out of the whole experience. I learned a lot from the experience and look forward to continuing this therapeutic track.

clarke-upgraded-mockup5-600

CS: How much of Clarkesworld’s traffic is podcast? Do you see that increasing?

NC: The online edition of the magazine makes up the majority of our reader/listenership. The podcast comes in at a close number two. I report the stats for the online edition, podcast, print editions, and digital subscriptions separately because there isn’t a clean way to determine the overlap. Each plays an important role in reaching a different audience. It’s our responsibility to get our authors’ works read by as many people as possible. From the beginning, we’ve accepted that means being in the format the readers want. Sometimes that’s audio. Sometimes that’s print. Each audience continues to grow, though.

CS: Will your anthology work increase?

NC: That’s the goal. I’m wrapping up the second volume of The Best Science Fiction of the Year now and can happily report that I’m contracted for two more beyond that. I also have Galactic Empires coming out in January. Later this month, I’ll start considering stories for the next two 2017 anthologies: More Human Than Human and War Machines. Clarkesworld Magazine: A 10th Anniversary Anthology is currently scheduled for early April.

CS: What will we see in Galactic Empires?

NC: Stories that span the breadth of the empire by some of the best writers working in that area over the last twenty years. A complete lineup can be found at: http://neil-clarke.com/books/galactic-empires/

Pixel Scroll 10/12/16 The Baloney Weighed The Maguffin Down

(1) HAPPY TENTH BIRTHDAY. Neil Clarke has a great article about the birth of Clarkesworld  — Clarkesworld Turns Ten – Part Four – The Beginning.

A lot of people were willing to provide advice. The most common thoughts were “don’t do it” and “it will be dead in a year.” A certain level of stubbornness, foolishness, and passion are required to enter this field and I was already over the edge. I doubt that anything said–unless it was from Lisa–would have deterred me at that point. There were a number of things that did help though, including the advice that I tell people to this day: “know how much you are willing to lose and don’t cross that line.”

(2) YOUR LACK OF FAITH IS DISTURBING. John King Tarpinian thinks this makes a suitable successor to the lava lamp – the Star Wars Death Star 3D LED Light Lamp.

(3) MYTHOPOEIC AWARDS: Here’s another bit of news I never put in the Scroll. It did get listed in comments while I was sick, but since I used to be a Steward of the Mythopoeic Society I like to put a spotlight on these awards when they come out….

The winners of the 2016 Mythopoeic Awards were announced at Mythcon 47 in San Antonio, Texas, on August 7, 2016.

Fantasy Awards

Adult Literature

  • Naomi Novik, Uprooted (Del Rey)

Children’s Literature

  • Ursula Vernon, Castle Hangnail (Dial Books)

Scholarship Awards

Inklings Studies

  • Grevel Lindop, Charles Williams: The Third Inkling (Oxford Univ. Press, 2015)

Myth & Fantasy Studies

  • Jamie Williamson, The Evolution of Modern Fantasy: From Antiquarianism to the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)

(4) BRITISH INTELLIGENCE WITH STEPHEN HAWKING. Creativity Online covered this in March —  “Professor Stephen Hawking Is Jaguar’s Latest ‘British Villain’”.

Jaguar’s “British Villains” campaign, which kicked off at the 2014 Super Bowl, has starred some distinguished British actors: Tom Hiddleston, Mark Strong, Nicholas Hoult and Ben Kingsley among them. Now, the campaign introduces a new evil mastermind, played by Professor Stephen Hawking.

Directed by Smuggler’s Tom Hooper, who helmed the original “British Villains” ad, the global ad promotes Jaguary’s first SUV, the F-PACE, and introduces the new theme of “British Intelligence” to the campaign. The spot opens with young man drives the SUV up an mountain road to a modernist lair redolent of a Bond villain. He’s off to meet his master: revealed to be Hawking. As they walk into an underground control room, the pair exchange some quips about the laws of time and gravity. “We are the masters of time and space,” says his underling and before Hawking finishes: “And we all drive Jaguars. Ha ha ha.”

 

(5) MAKES YOU WONDER. ScienceFiction.com has the scoop: “Lynda Carter’s President On ‘Supergirl’ Gets A Name”.

Carter, who also appeared on an episode of ‘Smallville’, is returning to superhero prime-time action in the third episode of ‘Supergirl’ which will air in two weeks.  Carter will play the President of the United States, Olivia Marsdin, a name that would appear to be a tribute to William Moulton Marsden, the psychiatrist who created Wonder Woman back in 1942 as an alternative to the testosterone-heavy male superheroes appearing at the time.

… In the episode, entitled “Welcome To Earth,” President Marsdin will need Supergirl’s protection as the humans vs. aliens debate boils over with Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) suspecting that Mon-El (Chris Wood) could be a threat.  Meanwhile, her sister Alex (Chyler Leigh) will team up with new character Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima).

 

supergirl-and-lynda-carter

(6) ESCHEW OBFUSCATION. Sarah A. Hoyt, in “Keeping It Real”, has interesting advice about striking a balance to help keep stories believable for the reader.

However, imagine how much better it could be if you wrote well.  How many more people you could reach.

So, to begin with, what are the elements of “real.”….

2 – Do not obscure the writing with a lot of your opinions, philosophies and views of life.  Save that for the blogs.  Okay, this is not true.  You can do it, if it fits the character voice, which is what I try to do in DST and Earth Revolution, and which Heinlein did pretty well.  BUT do not do it as an omnipresent, omniscient, not-in-the-story narrator.  The more you do go on, the more we get tired of reading unmoored stories.

This is not even just for politics, morals, etc.  I’ve found the main difference between Heyer and modern regency writers is that Heyer never felt the need to talk at LENGTH about how her characters felt about each other every minute.  Yeah, sure, she gave us hints, but most of it was showing not telling.

We’ll discuss how you can be fooled into thinking telling is showing, how to port-in your telling when absolutely needed, etc.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born October 12, 1968  — Hugh Jackman

(8) LOOK BACK AT WORLDCON MASQUERADES. The “A Look Back” series of videos features clips from science fiction and costuming convention masquerades and other events from the past 30+ years in the International Costumers Guild Pat & Peggy Kennedy Memorial Library.

This episode features highlights from the MidAmeriCon 1 masquerade held in Kansas City in 1976, using the video recording from the Scott Imes archives.

(9) GIVE MY REGARDS TO SHATNER. The New York Post knows “Why Broadway wasn’t William Shatner’s final frontier”.

You can see him Friday at Montclair, NJ’s Wellmont Theater in “Shatner’s World: We Just Live in It.” It’s a sharper, tighter version of the one-man show he performed on Broadway in 2012.

Full of anecdotes and a couple of songs, this autobiographical show grew out of off-the-cuff speeches he’d given for years at comic conventions. After an Australian producer suggested he put together a show, Shatner says he thought, why not?

“If the audience grew restless or I failed, I could quit and it would remain buried Down Under,” he says. “But it didn’t fail, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

“Shatner’s World” delves into his theater career and his first “42nd Street”-like break, when he went on at the last minute and saved the show.

The show was “Henry V” at the Stratford Festival in 1956 and Shatner was the understudy for its star, Christopher Plummer. Plummer woke up one morning and collapsed to the floor, felled by a stabbing pain in his groin. As Plummer writes in his memoir, “In Spite of Myself,” what he thought was venereal disease turned out to be a kidney stone.

Plummer tried to break out of the hospital to get to the theater, but “the thought of Shatner or anyone replacing me in that part instantly brought back my pain.” He screamed for help. A nurse jabbed him with morphine and he was down for the count….

(10) GUNN CENTER. Starbridge: A Visual Blog highlights books pulled from the shelves of our lending library at the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas.

This week’s post features an entry in Andre Norton’s Forerunner series. These books feature characters discovering and interacting with the artifacts of a powerful but long-lost alien race.  Andre Norton published over 300 titles over the course of her seven-decade career. She was the first woman the SFWA named Grand Master, and also the first to be inducted into the SFF Hall of Fame.  The cover art was illustrated by artist and educator Charles Mikolaycak, whose work was frequently influenced by his Polish and Ukrainian heritage.

forerunner-foray

(11) POWER RANGERS TEASER TRAILER. The Power Rangers are high school kids, but getting top billing are Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Banks and Bill Hader. Who have probably all been through high school, I admit.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

2016 WSFA Small Press Award

smallpress-shoemaker“Today I Am Paul” by Martin L. Shoemaker, published in Clarkesworld Magazine, ed. by Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace, (August 2015), is the winner of the 2016 WSFA Small Press Award given by the Washington Science Fiction Association. The award was announced at Capclave on October 8.

Neil Clarke, publisher of Clarkesworld Magazine, accepted on behalf of Shoemaker.

The WSFA Small Press Award honors the efforts of small press publishers in providing a critical venue for short fiction in the area of speculative fiction. The award showcases the best original short fiction published by small presses in the previous year. Members of the Washington Science Fiction Association select the winner. All voting is done with the identity of the author (and publisher) hidden so that the final choice is based solely on the quality of the story.

A Dozen “Year’s Best”

By Carl Slaughter: A dozen editors, some of them household names in the speculative community, take their stab at the year’s best stories.

The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Third Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois

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The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume One edited by Neil Clarke

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The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015 edited by Joe Hill and John Joseph Adams

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The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2016 Edition edited by Rich Horton

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The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Ten edited by Jonathan Strahan

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The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016 edited by Karen Joy Fowler and John Joseph Adams

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The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Novellas 2016 edited by Paula Guran

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The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2016 Edition edited by Paula Guran

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Nebula Awards Showcase 2016 edited by Mercedes Lackey

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The Year’s Best Military & Adventure SF 2015: Volume 2 edited by David Afsharirad

Years Best milSF 2015

The Best Horror of the Year Volume Eight edited by Ellen Datlow

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The Year’s Top Ten Tales of Science Fiction 8  edited by Allan Kaster

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Pixel Scroll 9/14/16 A Trans-Atlantic Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Hurrah!

(1) VALUE OF SPECIAL THEME ISSUES. Neil Clarke has written a blog post, “Specials”, to discuss what he learned from a discussion he launched yesterday on Twitter.

So yesterday I took to Twitter to get an answer to a question I had about the value of special theme issues as a tool in addressing representation. It was driven in part by an incomplete editorial sitting on my desktop for a couple of months now…..

Here’s where I made a few mistakes:

  1. Assuming that the primary goal for these projects was long-term (as in taking a long time) or that there ever was just one. In fact, it appears as though in many of these cases, a goal was to spotlight a specific community or provide a safe entry point, not necessarily to focus on altering the landscape for the field or attract a permanent change in the slush pile for the magazine. Yes, some of these already had existing policies in place to monitor and maintain that specific branch of diversity. They were a celebration rather than a corrective measure, but hasn’t been the norm across the years….

What I learned:

  1. That there is a serious and demonstrable benefit to the theme projects, but not necessarily in direct service of the results I hoped for. I heard from a wide variety of people who had career-changing moments from their involvement in projects as ranging from anthologies, to Helix, to Escape Artists, and Lightspeed’s Destroy series. A common refrain was that it encouraged them to try, gave them a confidence boost when they needed it, made them feel like they belonged, and served as a stepping stone. That last one is a long-term thing. It might not be to the big scale of the long-term goal I was talking about, but it was certainly step in the right direction. There is something to be said to the qualitative safety element of these projects even if it doesn’t specifically raise to the level of changing the playing field on a bigger scale….

(2) VERBOSE VERISIMILITUDE. After these introductory paragraphs I found her stylistic demonstration to be deeply intriguing – Sarah A. Hoyt’s “The Quality of Description Should not be Strained” at Mad Genius Club. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

The Quality of Description Should not be Strained, a Dialogue with Bill and Mike.

“Hey there buddy,” Mike said, as he came into the office, slamming the door behind him and making for the coffee maker like it was on fire and he had the only firehose on the planet.  “Why so glum?”

Bill blinked from where he sat at his desk, looking across him at the red spires dotting the desert landscape outside the office window.  “My writer’s group said I needed more description and sense of place,” he said.  “But then when I put in description, they told me I had stopped the action and given them indigestible infodumps.”

(3) INTERNET ANTIQUITY. While rhapsodizing yesterday about the 10-year anniversary of bacon cat and the 18th anniversary of Whatever, John Scalzi said:

It’s an interesting time to be doing a blog, still, because I think it’s safe to declare the Age of Blogging well and truly over, inasmuch as personal blogging as been superseded in nearly every way by social media, including Twitter (my favorite), Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat and so on and so forth. I’m not planning on mourning blogs in general — as a phenomenon they had their moment and it was a relatively good one — but it is interesting to watch the blog tide recede, with just a few die-hards left to do them old-school, like I do.

Reading that, I thought no wonder I’ve really been in the swing of blogging this past year. I’m one of the great late-adopters, and seem to have timed my entry into the field perfectly. Had I waited a few moments longer blogs would have been extinct…

(4) OF COURSE NOBODY’S HAPPY. Aaron has penned a long and thoughtful post about slates and this year’s Hugos in “Biased Opinion: 2016 Hugo Awards Post-Mortem” at Dreaming of Other Worlds. This includes a category-by-category breakdown of the results. Filers actually started discussing this yesterday. I want to point even more people at it by including the link in today’s Scroll.

But why have the Pups erupted in paroxysms of rage when their candidates generally did so well in the final Hugo voting? The first reason is that, despite their claims that they were merely nominating and supporting what they felt were the “best” works, it seems that what they really wanted was for their political allies and personal cronies to win. The Puppy picks that won in 2016 were Nnedi Okorafor, Hao Jingfang, Neil Gaiman, Andy Weir, Abigail Larson, Mike Glyer, none of whom are beholden to the Pups in any way. In fact, one of the things that seems to have enraged the Pups is that Gaiman was insufficiently grateful to them for their support, calling them out on their bad behavior over the last couple of years with his acceptance speech. If supporting quality works was the primary goal of the Pups, then Gaiman’s stance wouldn’t matter to them one way or the other – they would be extolling the victory of The Sandman: Overture as a triumph of what they regard as good work.

(5) NEW BUNDLE. Now’s the time to pick up the New StoryBundle: Extreme Sci-Fi:

bundle_113_cover

For three weeks only, from September 14 through October 6, you can get five or ten DRM-free ebooks (your choice) ready for loading on any e-reading device you like. You decide what you want to pay. After that, this bundle will disappear forever.

The initial titles in the Extreme Sci-Fi Bundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:

  • The Me and Elsie Chronicles by M. L. Buchman
  • Climbing Olympus by Kevin J. Anderson
  • Orphan – Giant Robot Planetary Competition: Book 1 by J.R. Murdock
  • Suave Rob’s Double-X Derring Do by J. Daniel Sawyer
  • Star Fall by Dean Wesley Smith

If you pay more than the bonus price of just $15, you get all five of the regular titles, plus five more:

  • Away Games by Mike Resnick
  • Extremes by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • Hadrian’s Flight by J. Daniel Sawyer
  • Risk Takers by Fiction River
  • Fairchild by Blaze Ward

We’ve got a classics, best-sellers, and four brand new books written especially for this bundle celebrating the human spirit. Inside, you’ll find dark tales of murder and intrigue, high-comic farce, young adult adventure, awe and wonder, rapture and redemption.

(6) JACK VANCE. Paul Weimer analyzes one of Jack Vance’s richly inventive fictional worlds in “Robinson Crusoe of Tschai: Jack Vance’s Planet of Adventure Tetralogy”, posted at Tor.com.

Strange customs and societies, a hallmark of Vance’s fiction, populate (and almost overcrowd) the world. What is near-mandatory in one region of Tschai will get you killed in another. Anyone who despairs of planets in SF which feature all the same terrain and the same people have never visited Tschai. This variety and diversity is such that most people who encounter Reith and hear his story just think he’s from some corner of Tschai that they are unaware of, and probably crazy to boot.

(7) PASSENGER. NPR reports what it’s like to ride along in a self-driving Uber car.

Fourteen self-driving Ford Fusions idle in front of Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh.

On each vehicle, dozens of stationary and spinning cameras collect 1.4 million distance measurements per second, guiding the car on its journey.

Beginning Wednesday, the cars will be deployed on Pittsburgh’s streets in a striking experiment by Uber to introduce self-driving technology to its passengers.

“For me this is really important,” says Anthony Levandowski, the head of Uber’s self-driving car team, “because I really believe that the most important things that computers are going to do in the next 10 years is drive cars.”

(8) LICENSE TO WRITE. Larry Correia says don’t be bullied: “Writers should be Cultural Appropriating all the Awesome Stuff”.

I’ve talked about Cultural Appropriation before, and why it is one of the most appallingly stupid ideas every foisted on the gullible in general, and even worse when used as a bludgeon against fiction authors.

First off, what is “Cultural Appropriation”?  From the linked talk:

The author of Who Owns Culture? Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law, Susan Scafidi, a law professor at Fordham University who for the record is white, defines cultural appropriation as “taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission. This can include unauthorised use of another culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc.”

The part that got left out of that definition is that engaging in Cultural Appropriation is a grievous mortal sin that self-righteous busy bodies can then use to shame anyone they don’t like.

Look at that definition. Basically anything you use that comes from another culture is stealing. That is so patently absurd right out the gate that it is laughable. Anybody who has two working brain cells to rub together, who hasn’t been fully indoctrinated in the cult of social justice immediately realizes that sounds like utter bullshit.

If you know anything about the history of the world, you would know that it has been one long session of borrowing and stealing ideas from other people, going back to the dawn of civilization. Man, that cuneiform thing is pretty sweet. I’m going to steal writing. NOT OKAY! CULTURAL APPROPRIATION!

Everything was invented by somebody, and if it was awesome, it got used by somebody else. At some point in time thousands of years ago some sharp dude got sick of girding up his loins and invented pants. We’re all stealing from that guy. Damn you racists and your slacks.

In his customary swashbuckling style, he treats anyone’s concern about this issue as an absurd failure to comprehend how culture and the sharing of ideas works. That tone naturally makes people want to fire back on the same terms – whereas I wonder what everyone might say if he had expressed the same views in a persuasive structured argument.

One of Correia’s commenters implied that would look like Moshe Feder’s recent comment on Facebook.

MOSHE FEDER: I’ve always found “cultural appropriation” a weird concept. To me, it’s usually a progressive step toward a future in which humanity realizes that from a galactic point of view, we all share ONE culture — albeit a complex and varied one — the planetary culture developed by homo sapiens over tens of thousands of years. It was by this very so-called “appropriation” that fire, animal husbandry, agriculture, the wheel, and other crucial advances were spread to the benefit of all. Of course, there _are_ cases where CA is rude or inappropriate, as when you use it to mock or misrepresent other groups, and people of good will try to avoid those. But even those uses are protected by our free speech rights. (As are the protestations of those who resent such uses.) But all too often, complaints about cultural appropriation are another example of political correctness carried to the point of absurdity, the point at which it gives unscrupulous demagogues like Trump something they can look sensible for complaining about.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born September 14, 1914 — Clayton Moore, TV’s The Lone Ranger.
  • Born September 14, 1936 — Walter Koenig (age 80). He was 31 when he started Star Trek.

(10) SQUARE DEAL FOR NUMBER ONE FAN. Although the neighbors didn’t succeed in having Forry Ackerman’s last home designated a cultural landmark, the city may agree to name a Los Feliz neighborhood intersection in his honor. The Los Feliz Ledger has the story:

“Sci-Fi” Square: Beloved Local, Ackerman, Up for Honor.

The intersection of Franklin and Vermont avenues may soon be known as “Forrest J Ackerman Square,” thanks to an August motion by Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu (CD 4).

The square would honor Ackerman, a lifetime Angeleno best known for coining the term “sci-fi.”….

The notion of honoring Ackerman with a city square was first brought up at a March meeting of the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission, where a group called “Concerned Citizens of Los Feliz” tried and failed to gain historic status for a bungalow on Russell Avenue, which Ackerman called home for the final six years of his life.

Ackerman referred to the bungalow as his “Acker-Mini-Mansion,” in reference to the “Ackermansion,” his former home on Glendower Avenue in the Hollywood Hills.

(11) GEAR. Vox Day is thinking of doing some Dread Ilk merchandise. Here are the initial ideas.

I’m interested in knowing which designs are of most interest to the Ilk. So, here are a few random ideas; let me know which would be of the most interest to you, assuming that the designs are well-executed. Or if you have any other ideas, feel free to throw them out.

  • Evil Legion of Evil (member’s edition)
  • Evil Legion of Evil (Red Meat cartoon)
  • Vile Faceless Minion
  • Dread Ilk
  • Rabid Puppies 2015
  • Rabid Puppies 2016
  • Vox Day Che
  • Just Say N20 (Psykosonik lyrics on back)
  • Spacebunny (cartoon logo)
  • Supreme Dark Lord (Altar of Hate mask logo)
  • SJWAL cover
  • Cuckservative cover with 1790 law quote
  • That Red Dot On Your Chest Means My Daddy Is Watching
  • Castalia House logo “Restoring Science Fiction Since 2014”
  • There Will Be War
  • The Missionaries

(12) GAME SHOW. Steven H Silver is back with another stfnal Jeopardy! question:

A daily double in Awards. She bet $2400 and got it right on a total guess.

jeop-201690914

I’m sure all you Filers would have cashed that in.

(13) THE HONOR OF THE THING. John Scalzi confessed on Twitter:

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes  to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 9/13/16 I Know Why The Crottled Greep Pings

Art by Camestros Felapton.

Art by Camestros Felapton.

(1) TALKING ABOUT “DESTROY” OR “DIG” COLLECTIONS? Neil Clarke, editor of Clarkesworld, raises the question of whether special collections for underrepresented communities is a good idea.

(2) THE ELDER CLODS. The Huffington Post continues to cover the full horror of this year’s presidential election: “Stephen King Compares Donald Trump To Cthulhu; Cthulhu Issues Angry Denial”.

(3) NEXT FROM LIU CIXIN. Death’s End, the last book in Liu Cixin’s trilogy which started with The Three-Body Problem, will be released September 20. A preview can be read here on the Tor/Forge Blog.

And the author’s next translated novel is announced in a tweet from Ken Liu.

(4) AUTHOR LIFE. What is Joe Hill doing today?

So we’re doing #authorlife today. Okay. I’ll play. I’ll try to write 1500 words on a new novella (the last in a book of four), working longhand in an oversize National Brand account book. If it goes badly, I’ll accept 1000 words and hope for better tomorrow. When I’m done (1 PM? 2?) I’ll have a salad and read forty pages of A MAN LIES DREAMING, the current book (starring Adolf Hitler, PI, no, really). The afternoon is for office chores and email. If I can I’ll write a snail mail letter to a friend. Because I like doing that. At some point I’ll also listen to a chapter of the current audio book (PRINCE CASPIAN). Over the course of the day I’ll have four cups of tea. Three black, no cream, no sugar. The last is green and has honey and lemon. It all sounds very exciting, doesn’t it? Living life on the edge, that’s me. I’d like to be more physical but haven’t been on any kind of regular exercise schedule since before THE FIREMAN book tour. Hummmm. I also started playing piano this year for the first time since I was 13, and come evening I like to practice for a half hour. But I won’t today cos one of my fingers is f’d up. Maybe I’ll have an episode of THE AMERICANS. Then it’ll be 10PM and I’ll go to bed, like an old person. Shit. I think I’m an old person.

(5) I’VE HEARD THIS SONG BEFORE. Cora Buhlert’s “The Three Fractions of Speculative Fiction” jumps off from a Nathaniel Givens article recently linked in the Scroll, analyzing the sources of complaints about Hugo Award winners, then goes back to 2013 when Sad Puppies had barely begun for an eye-opening comparison of Hugo complaints then being made by fan critics and iconoclasts totally unrelated to the Puppies. Extra points to Buhlert for remembering what those other voices were saying.

Nonetheless, I did remember that there was a controversy involving the 2013 Hugos at the time, a controversy I chronicled in several posts here, here and here.

Interestingly, most “The Hugos are broken” complaints that year came not from the puppy side (though Larry Correia waded into the fray, being his usual charming self) but from overwhelmingly British critics, who complained about the alleged lack of sophistication of the nominees. For examples, check out these posts by Justin Landon, Aidan Moher, Adam Callaway and Jonathan McCalmont.

The critics who wrote those posts are not puppies. Quite the contrary, they are probably the polar opposite. Where the puppies complain that the Hugos aren’t populist enough and reward obscure literary works, these critics complain that the Hugos are too populist and not sophisticated enough. However, if you read through those posts (and particularly Justin Landon’s remains a marvel of condescension) you’ll notice that their criticisms of the Hugos eerily mirror those made by the sad and rabid puppies a few years later: The Hugos are broken, they are dominated by a small and incestous clique of aging babyboomers who have been attending WorldCon for decades and/or an equally incestous clique of livejournal posters voting for their friends, those cliques are hostile to outsiders and disregard everybody who doesn’t attend cons as “not a real fan”, only works that appeal to that clique of insiders are nominated and the books/authors the critics like are never nominated. So the Hugos should be burned to the ground or reformed to represent all of fandom or maybe a new award should be established to better represent what’s best in SFF. And as if the puppy parallels weren’t striking enough, many of those posts also contain some bonus condescension towards women writers and writers of colour. Oh yes, and they all agree that Redshirts is an unworthy nominee. Ditto for Lois McMaster Bujold and Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire. Opinions are divided on Saladin Ahmed.

So what is going on here? Why do two seemingly diametrically opposed groups make so very similar points? …

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • September 13, 1977 – Jay Anson’s The Amityville Horror is published.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born September 13, 1916 — Roald Dahl
  • Born September 13, 1939 — Richard Kiel

(8) NOT ALL CATS ARE SJW CREDENTIALS. L. Jagi Lamplighter, in “The Bifrost Between Calico and Gingham”, explains the difference between Sad Puppies and those who are satisfied with the Hugos, using “Cat Pictures Please” as an illustration [BEWARE SPOILERS].

I have been asked what the Puppies—Sad and Rabid alike—are objecting to? If they are not racist or homophobes—ie, if it is not the author’s identity that they object to—why do they think that so many of the stories that have been winning the Hugo and the Nebula are receiving their awards for the wrong reasons?

I think I can explain. I will use, for my example, the short story that won the Hugo in 2016: “Cat Pictures Please.” ….

So, to Left-Leaning readers, “Cat Pictures Please” is a witty story with a common, but perhaps new-to-them, SF premise, which also reinforces their idea of truth about the world and comes to a delightfully-satisfying conclusion.

The mixture of the simple SF premise, the wit, and the satisfying political leaning make it a very delightful story indeed.

To anyone who is Right-Leaning, “Cat Pictures Please” is a witty story with a common, and perhaps not-so-new-to-them, SF premise, which is full of concepts and moral choices that grate on them the wrong way, and the end is, while a bit amusing, rather unpleasant.

The first group says, “This is a great story!

The second group says, “Look, I’ll be fair and overlook all the pokes in the eye, but as I am regarding the story through my blurry, now-painful eyes, I want to see some really fantastic science fiction. Something that wows me so much that I am going to think it is worth putting next to “Nightfall” or “Harrison Bergeron.” And I just don’t see it.

 “Your stuff is not new. If you take today’s problems and put them in space, that’s not science fiction. You need the new, the controversial, to be SF. 

“Where is the stuff that’s going to shake my world and make me think, the way the Hugo winners of years gone by, such as “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”, did?

(9) HOW HUGO VOTING CHANGES MAY WORK. Cheryl Morgan wrote an analytical post after watching the MACII Business Meeting videos – “WSFS Has Spoken – What Does It Mean?” —  which I just got a chance to read today. I found Cheryl’s speculation about the impact of the changes to the Hugo voting rules very interesting, indeed. Here’s just one brief excerpt:

So I have no objection to the detection of “natural slates”. Politically, however, I suspect it will be a minefield. If, next year, when EPH is used on the actual voting, people who are not on the Puppy slates get eliminated by it, I think that there will be an outcry. Fandom at large is expecting EPH to get rid of all of the Puppies, and no one else. It will not do either. People are not going to be happy.

Another potential issue here is the effect that EPH will have on Helsinki in particular. Finnish fans will presumably want to vote for Finnish works. Because there are a lot fewer Finnish writers than non-Finnish ones, there will be much less diversity in their nominations. I suspect that EPH will see the Finnish votes as a slate and kick some of the nominees off. That too will make some people unhappy, including me.

(10) JEOPARDY! Another science fiction question on Jeopardy! This one was worth $800 in Numerical Literature. Steven H Silver sent a long a screencap, and confirmed “They got it right.”

jeopardy-que

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Steven Silver, Rose Embolism, Mark-kitteh, and Steve Davidson for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]