Pixel Scroll 5/4/16 (Take Another) Piece Of My Artificial Heart

May the 4th be with you

(1) BREAKING THINGS. Wired studies the physics behind the destruction of a Super Star Destroyer in Star Wars.

The Mass of the Death Star

The real question remains—why is it moving so fast? There are three possible answers:

After rebels destroyed the bridge, the Super Star Destroyer veered out of control and used its thrusters to drive into the Death Star.

The Destroyer used its engines in some way to stay above the Death Star. The attack eliminated this ability, and the ship fell into the Death Star due to the gravitational interaction between the two objects.

The impact was the result of the engines and gravity.

For the purpose of this analysis, I am going to assume the collision was due only to the gravitational interaction. If that’s the case, I can use this to estimate the mass of the Death Star.

(2) ANATOMY OF A REWRITE. Mark Hamill confirmed the story: “It’s official: ‘The Force Awakens’ almost started with Luke’s severed hand”.

“I can tell you now, the original opening shot of [Episode] VII, the first thing that came into frame was a hand and a lightsaber, a severed hand,” Hamill reveals in a video Q&A with The Sun timed to May the 4th. “It enters the atmosphere [of the desert planet Jakku] and the hand burns away.”

The lightsaber landed in the sand, and an alien hand picked it up. Hamill says he doesn’t know if that alien was Maz Kanata, the castle owner who has the lightsaber in a trunk in the movie.

Then “the movie proceeds as you see it” — presumably meaning we’d cut from the alien hand to a Star Destroyer above Jakku as Stormtroopers depart in shuttles, then Max Von Sydow handing the all-important map with Luke’s whereabouts to Oscar Isaac.

(3) FOURTH WITH. Digg has a compilation of Star Wars related fan art.

The “Star Wars” fanbase has always been fantastically passionate and creative, so in honor of their greatest holiday, here’s a bunch of different kinds of fan art to represent every corner of the “Star Wars” universe.

(4) FASHION STATEMENT. Michael A. Burstein had a big day, and shared a photo with his Facebook readers.

Today, I was sworn in for my fifth term as a Brookline Library Trustee. In honor of Star Wars Day, I wore my Han Solo vest.

(5) EQUAL TIME. That other famous franchise is making news of its own. Canada Post will issue a set of Star Trek themed stamps to commemorate the show’s 50th anniversary. Linn’s Stamp News ran an article about the stamp for Scotty.

The three previous Canada Post Star Trek designs have pictured William Shatner as Capt. James T. Kirk on a commemorative stamp similar to the Scotty design, the Starship Enterprise on a coil stamp, and Leonard Nimoy as Spock, also in commemorative format. Full details of the set, and the planned issue date, have not been officially revealed by Canada Post, though information released with the “Scotty” stamp design added, “More stamps are to be revealed soon.”

And Canada Post has release several short videos previewing the series.

(6) YOU DID IT. Donors stepped up to support Rosarium Publishing’s Indiegogo appeal and Rick Riordan dropped $10,000 of matching funds in the pot. The appeal has now topped $40,000 in donations.

(7) J.K. ROWLING’S ANNUAL APOLOGY. On May 2, the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts, J.K. Rowling followed her tradition.

(8) FIRST FAN. Inverse knows this is the perfect day to dip into Craig Miller’s font of Star Wars anecdotes: “George Lucas’s Original Plans for ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’ and Boba Fett Revealed”.

Craig Miller, Lucasfilm’s first fan relations officer, reveals the original plan for ‘Return of the Jedi.’

…“At first there was one film, and then George originally announced that it was one of 12, and there were going to be 12, and then that changed to, oh there was never 12, there was only 9, and he was going to make 9,” Miller said. “And then during all of it, George kind of lost interest in continuing it… While we were working on The Empire Strikes Back, George decided he was going to complete the first film trilogy and that would be it.

“And I remember sitting in a mixing room with George, working on Empire, and he told me he was just going to make the third movie, which didn’t have a title at that point, and then stop,” Miller continued. “He was going to retire from making big movies and make experimental movies. And that’s why the whole plot of the third movie, what became Return of the Jedi, completely changed.”

Lucas’s 15-year retirement from Star Wars didn’t do much to derail the enthusiasm amongst hardcore fans, who showed early on that they were very, very dedicated to the Galaxy far, far away. Miller remembers one of his better publicity coups, setting up an 800 number (1-800-521-1980, the film’s release date) that allowed fans to call in before Empire and hear little clues about the upcoming sequel, as recited by Luke, Leia, Han Solo, C-3PO and Darth Vader.

“There was no advertising; we talked about it at conventions, and Starlog ran a two paragraph announcement of it,” Miller recalled. “And with just that, we completely swamped the 800 system.”

AT&T forced Lucasfilm to buy more phone lines, cease their advertising (easy, since they weren’t doing any), and apologize to the public and other 800-number users. “That was great because now it was being carried all over the world that we were apologizing that Star Wars fans were so enthusiastic about seeing Empire that they swamped AT&T,” Miller said, laughing.

(9) MAKING THE SCENE. Cat Rambo shares some material from a class, that takes apart what having a scene gives you for purposes of making it into a story: “More From Moving from Idea to Draft”

What it is:

A scene is usually a moment in time that has come to you. It usually has strong visual elements, and something is usually happening, such as a battle, or has just happened in it (a battlefield after the fighting is done). It is probably something that would appear at a significant moment of a story and not be peripheral to it.

What it gives you:

  • Everything but the plot. But actually, that’s not true. What is the main source of tension in the scene, what is the conflict that is driving things? That is probably a version of the overall plot.
  • A scene gives you a strong slice of the world and all that is implicit in that, including history and culture.
  • If characters are included in your scene, they are usually doing or have just done something more purposeful than just milling about. You have some sense of their occupation, their economic circumstances, and often some nuances of their relationship.

(10) NED BROOKS. Part of the late Ned Brooks’ fanzine collection is on display at the University of Georgia, where his family donated it.

The university library’s blog has posted “To Infinity and Beyond! Selections from the Ned Brooks Fanzine Collection”.

A look at a fun collection examining all facets of science fiction fandom. Included are representative fanzine titles from the 17,000+ issues to be found in the Brooks zine collection. They represent a variety of times (including the zine some hold to be the earliest Science Fiction zine in the U.S., Planet #1, from July of 1930), a myriad of international locales, and a broad spectrum of specialized Fandom communities and their interests. Mementos from Brooks’ 38-year career with NASA’s Langley Research Center, along with a vintage typewriter and early reproduction equipment.

The exhibit, in the Rotunda of the Russell Special Collections Libraries, will be up through July.

(11) COOL SPACE PICTURES. Digg has “The Best Space Photos from April”.

Every day satellites are zooming through space, snapping incredible pictures of Earth, the solar system and outer space. Here are the highlights from April.

(12) YA AND AWARDS. Joe Sherry makes raises a point about YA in his post about “2016 Locus Award Finalists” at Adventures in Reading.

This is likely worth a longer discussion, but this year’s Locus Awards are pretty close to what the Hugo Awards should have looked like in the absence of the Rabid Puppy participants voting a slate in apparent lockstep….

Now, there are things we can argue with because it isn’t an awards list or a list of books at all if there isn’t something to argue with. For example, the YA category features five books written by men even though a huuuuuuge number of YA novels are written by women. Further, Navah Wolfe points out that the nominees in this category are, across the board, writers best known for adult science fiction and fantasy.

In terms of the Locus Awards, I think this is a bug rather than a feature. Locus (and it’s readers who voted / nominated), as a whole, is far more plugged into the adult SFF scene. Their nominees for Young Adult Book very strongly reflects this.

This isn’t to say that these finalists are bad, because they very much are not, but they are also not reflective of the YA field.

A committee has been looking at a proposed YA Hugo category for a couple of years. The Hugo voter demographic is probably similar to that of Locus voters. So if we make two assumptions – that the category had existed this year and was not affected by a slate – wouldn’t the shortlist have looked pretty much like the Locus Award YA novel category? And how does that affect people’s interest in having a YA Hugo category?

(13) DEFECTION FROM THE RANKS.

(14) ANOTHER SHOCK. Because that’s what popularly voted awards do?

(15) USE OF WEAPONS. Paul Weimer curated the latest SF Signal Mind Meld reading pleasure today, in which people talk about their favorite SF/F weapons.

(16) TODAY IN HISTORY. Norm Hollyn remembered on Facebook:

May 4 is the 19th anniversary of the death of Lou Stathis, one of my closest friends and major influences (I first heard the Mothers thanks to him). Hopefully you’re happily playing the kazoo wherever you are.

(17) HAY THERE. Signal boosting author Judith Tarr’s appeal to help feed her horses.

Right now I do not know how I’m going to feed the horses for the rest of the month. I have managed to scrape out enough to pay for the last load of hay (if that late check finally gets here), but once it’s eaten, which it will be in about ten days, I don’t know what I’m going to do. The farm will be gone by midsummer unless I find a steady source of sufficient income. I’ve been hustling like a hustling thing but so far with minimal results.

The market does not want either me or the horses. The horses are all old and therefore retired and unsalable, or else would require thousands of dollars’ worth of training and show fees to have any sale value. No one can take them. The market is saturated with unwanted horses and the rescues are overloaded. I am over 60, hearing impaired (ergo, unable to use the phone), and with chronic fatigue syndrome which makes office or minimum-wage work difficult to impossible. And minimum wage would not support the animals, let alone me. All my income streams from backlist books, editing, writing, etc. have shrunk to a trickle or dried up. No one has booked a Camp in over a year.

I have had a few small things come through, but as with everything else, they’ve fallen short or failed to produce. I continue to push, and with the fiction writing regaining its old fluidity, I may manage to make something happen there. I’ve been urged to try an Indiegogo for a short novel, and I am closing in on that. (Indiegogo, unlike Kickstarter, offers an option that pays even if the goal is not met. The goal would be enough to cover mortgage, horses, and utilities for a month.) Since for the first time in my life I’m able to write more than one project at a time, that means I can continue to meet my obligation to backers of last November’s Kickstarter for a science-fiction novel, and also write the novella (and short stories, too).

A friend suggested that I offer sponsorships for the horses. I feel weird about that, but they need to eat. What I would give in return is a little writeup about the horse being sponsored, with a digital album of pictures and a monthly update. And short fiction as it happens, if you are a reader with an interest….

Details and specific support levels at the site.

(18) MEMORY OF THINGS PAST. Katster once was “Dreaming of Rockets”

Of course things got derailed.  My cunning plan to eventually raise myself to a point where I’d get notice from the nominating body of Worldcon crashed hard with two factors — the rise of blogs and fancasts as well as the related fact that pros were getting nominated in the fan awards and, more importantly, my own demons.

I’d end up semi-GAFIAting (the acronym means Getting Away From It All, and covered anybody who’s dropped out of science fiction) and not being very enamored of fandom in general.  The break point came in 2013, with a completely different award.  Fanzine fandom recognizes its own in an award called the Fan Achievement Awards (FAAns) and I’d hoped a particular issue of my fanzine Rhyme and Paradox I’d poured my heart into might have a chance at Best Issue.  A friend of mine said he was nominating it, and I hesitantly nominated it myself, hoping in some way that it would end up on the shortlist.  It didn’t, and the award was won by somebody that was well known in fandom for a typical issue of his (once a year) fanzine.

The blow really came when I got ahold of the longlist and found how many votes my ‘zine had gotten.  It had gotten two, one from my friend and one from me.  It stung like hell.  Here I had poured my heart out writing that zine (I still think it’s some of my best writing ever) and it had sailed quietly in the night.  I know, it’s just an award, and all these things are popularity contests, but even now, I feel the hurt in that moment.

I wonder if it’s the same hurt that has fueled the slates.  The influence of failing to get an award did somewhat lead Larry Correia to start making slates.  As I’ve said before, the Hugos were vulnerable to this kind of attack, but it was explained to me pretty early in fandom that making slates was anathema in fandom, a policy only practiced by Scientologists.  Everybody knows where the rest of this story goes.

(19) ANTI. “’Ghostbusters’ Is the Most Disliked Movie Trailer in YouTube History” says The Hollywood Reporter.

Not only does it have the most dislikes for a trailer on the social platform, but it also makes the top 25 most disliked videos overall.

Things are not boding well for director Paul Feig’s upcoming Ghostbusters based on the film’s first official trailer on YouTube.

Released March 3, the trailer, viewed 29.2 million times and counting, is the most disliked movie trailer in YouTube history, according to “MyTop100Videos” channel’s “Most Disliked Videos” list that was last updated April 16. (Justin Bieber comes in at No. 1 with 5.99 million dislikes for “Baby.”)

Coming in at No. 23, the reboot — starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Chris Hemsworth — has more than double the number of dislikes as likes (208,606)….

Although there has been controversy over the trailer, with many YouTube comments centered around the all-female cast, the video has been generating mostly positive reviews on Facebook with 1,186,569 positive reactions (like, love, haha and wow) and 32,589 negative reactions (sad, angry). The reactions add up to 97.3 percent positive sentiments on Facebook overall.

(20) BREAK THE PIGGY BANK. Coming August 16 in Blu-Ray/DVD — “The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension [Collector’s Edition]”. (Doesn’t it feel like you’ve been reading the word “buckaroo” a lot this week?)

Expect the unexpected… he does.

Neurosurgeon. Physicist. Rock Star. Hero. Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller, Robocop) is a true 80s renaissance man. With the help of his uniquely qualified team, The Hong Kong Cavaliers, Buckaroo is ready to save the world on a moment’s notice. But after his successful test of the Oscillation Overthruster – a device that allows him to travel through solid matter – he unleashes the threat of “evil, pure and simple from the 8th Dimension”… the alien Red Lectroids.

Led by the deranged dictator Lord John Whorfin (John Lithgow), the Lectroids steal the Overthruster with the intent of using it to return to their home of Planet 10 “real soon!” But no matter where you go, there Buckaroo Banzai is… ready to battle an interdimensional menace that could spell doom for the human race.

How can Buckaroo stop the Lectroids’ fiendish plots? Who is the mysterious Penny Priddy? Why is there a watermelon there? For the answers to these and other questions, you have to watch The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, monkey boy!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mark-kitteh, James Davis Nicoll, Will R., Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 11/6 Remember, Remember, the Second Fifth of November

(1) April Carvelli investigates a cancelled media convention for Pop Cult HQ “IFCon Victoria: Scam or a Simple Mans Dream Gone Wrong?”

This convention was scheduled to occur over the Halloween weekend in Victoria, BC Canada. They didn’t have A-List bookings, but they had some well-known names and a lot of artists. They had booked Richard Hatch from the original Battle Star Galactica, Gil Gerard of Buck Rogers, William B. Davis best known as the Smoking Man on The X-Files and Claudia Christian from Babylon 5. They even had several of the Power Rangers…..

Then suddenly, four days before the con, it was canceled. It was reported that the organizer Bill Code had to be rushed to the hospital after collapsing the weekend before the event. Fans were told that he would be undergoing surgery and there was no way he could continue to run the con.

According to the initial posting, Code had been organizing the con for the last year and a half and had invested more than $84,000 but was no longer able to “handle and direct any part of the convention.”

Many of the exhibitors learned of the cancellation of the con through the Facebook page and most, if not all feel that they have been conned. The exhibitors aren’t alone. Artists, Fans, and even celebrity guests are screaming about how this con was handled and the treatment they received from Ken Twyman, the one who appears to have taken the reigns once cancellation of the con was imminent.

(2) Big Bang Theory producer Chuck Lorre writes a “vanity card” that flashes at the end of every episode. The latest one is a paean to science fiction.

I grew up devouring science fiction books. I was like a little Pac-Man, gobbling up everything I could get my hands on: short stories, novels, and, of course, comic books. Looking back, I realize that sci-fi and, to some degree, fantasy novels, were my first attempt at escaping reality (later attempts would prove to be a bit more problematic). Regardless, I now see that immersing myself in this kind of literature informs my current view of the world. The path of history is, for me, forever seen through the eyes and imagination of Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Roger Zelazny, Frank Herbert, Larry Niven, Philip K. Dick, H.G. Wells, Aldous Huxley, and many, many more. Which is why I consider all efforts to control human behavior through force as ultimately doomed to fail. Sure, they might work for a while. That’s where the cool story is – the resistance and overcoming of authoritarian rule. But at the end of the day, the macro, sci-fi view is always toward greater freedom, regardless of what form it takes. The real evil, the much more insidious method of control, is actually what we do to ourselves. The abuse of drugs and alcohol, plus relentless consumerism and over-exposure to mind-numbing entertainment, are the real chains on the human spirit. Of course this means that I, having produced close to a thousand half-hours of television, am part of the problem. Sorry. I never meant to be a Minor Overlord for the Terrestrial Shadow Masters.

(3) Norman Hollyn has been one of the people helping develop the innovative future film school announced on Friday — “$20 Million to Establish Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts”

Those who want an education at the vanguard of new forms of filmmaking and emerging media — including virtual production, interactive and mobile media, film special effects, augmented and virtual reality, game design and more — will one day get the chance to study at the new Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The university on Friday announced a $20 million gift from the Johnny Carson Foundation…

(4) Joseph T. Major has a theory about a wowser in today’s news.

If you ever played Sid Meier’s Civilization (the original game), you would note that building the Pyramids gave you a Granary in every city in your civilization. Obviously Ben Carson has not upgraded.

(5) Yes, a scientific measure of the science in science fiction! “Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness” at TV Tropes. (via Lela E. Buis).

Example: a character is shown a machine for traveling into the past and asks, “How does it work?”

  • In soft SF: “You sit in this seat, set the date you want, and pull that lever.”
  • In medium SF: “You sit in this seat, set the date you want, and drive to 88 mph.”
  • In hard SF: “A good question with an interesting answer. Please have a seat while I bring you up to speed on the latest ideas in quantum theory, after which I will spend a chapter detailing an elaborate, yet plausible-sounding connection between quantum states, the unified field theory, and the means by which the brain stores memory, all tied into theories from both Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.”
  • In really hard SF: “It doesn’t. Time travel to the past is impossible.”

(6) A. C. Thompson shares “Lessons Learned Editing an Anthology” at Magical Words.

  1. I am your editor, not your mama!! Therefore, it is not my job to teach you to write or completely re-write your first draft. I actually overheard an author tell someone, “It doesn’t matter if I can write. That’s what the editor is for.” WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!! It is your job as the writer to write a great story, polish it up (DO NOT SEND YOUR FIRST DRAFT), and edit– not write a ten page dissertation on why the editor is wrong and you’re right. The editor is an unbiased third party whose only interest is in making your story the best it can be. Don’t fight them every step of the way. If you disagree with something, discuss it. Don’t stomp your feet like a toddler and refuse to change it. Or make up some silly excuse as to WHY you can’t edit. It is worth noting that I did NOT have this problem on the Sherlock anthology. Every single author I have is the picture of professionalism and talent. I may be slightly biased, but seriously… those guys and gals rock!

(7) A modest proposal:

Ro Nagey claims once on a live radio show he answered that question, “By taking a little green pill.”

(8) Ralph Bakshi interview at Salon.

I gotta to ask this—when we meet Fritz in his self-titled film in 1972, he’s in the park and he’s checking out the pedestrians, the people and the scene, and he’s just calling bullshit on everyone, basically. How strong was your personal bullshit detector at the time? Like, could you tell [at that point] when someone was jiving you?

That’s a good question; let me think. Yeah, at that point I had finally gotten very angry and very wise. At that point I suddenly woke up. Everything that I grew up thinking was cool — fighting for your country and all of that — was starting to fall apart. I couldn’t believe that black people [were being restricted from the] vote. My life was changing. I was bored to years with Terrytoons animation. So I was using my life to try to expand my art form. I started to comment and I started to read. I read Ginsberg, I read Howl. I read Kerouac — I didn’t think he was good, but I still read him. I read Henry Miller. I started to read other people that were also happening [and] big at that time. It was just breaking all that stuff.

Did you find that creatively liberating as an artist?

Totally. Incredibly liberating.

Okay, so you go from Terrytoons to making your own films, beginning with the X-rated hit “Fritz the Cat.” And by the end you can do anything you want with animation from a technical standpoint and you have this new attitude.

I learned my craft at Terrytoons. I spent 15 years there, writing, directing, designing — every part of an animated cartoon—

(9) Julia Alexander at Polygon breaks out the new information revealed in the international trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens – click to see her video analysis.

Walt Disney Studios Japan posted the new trailer on their YouTube page Friday morning, and although some of the scenes can definitely be found in the English version that aired a couple of weeks ago, there’s some wild new footage.

(10) Here’s the trailer itself:

(11) Is there really going be an Ice Age 5? *croggle*

[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus, J. Neil Schulman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Will R. and Meredith.]