OMNI Is Back

Omni Magazine has reappeared on newsstands, now published by Penthouse Global Media Inc. in Los Angeles, with editor-in-chief Pamela Weintraub and fiction editor Ellen Datlow.

Nancy Kress has a time travel story in the debut issue, “Every Hour of Light and Dark.”

The magazine is on a new schedule, as Ellen Datlow explained on Facebook:

It’s a quarterly continuation of the original. We actually published two all reprint issues in 2016 and have had an active website for several years (with reprints from the original OMNI). We’ve got a new website we’ll be rolling out soon, with reprints and some material from the new print issues.

Last night Jim Freund interviewed OMNI editors Pamela Weintraub, Ellen Datlow, Robert Karl, Johannes Killheffer, and Corey Powell on his WBAI 99.5 FM show Hour of the Wolf. Click the link to hear the program.

[Thanks to JJ for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 7/11/17 Be Kind To Your Scroll-Footed Friends, For A Duck May Be Somebody’s Pixel!

(1) NEW WFA TROPHIES ON THE WAY. Kim Williams, chair of the 2016 World Fantasy Con, told readers of WFC’s Facebook page that last year’s WFA winners, given certificates at the 2016 award ceremony in Columbus, OH will soon be receiving copies of the new statuette created by Vincent Villafranca.

Vincent Villafranca’s design was chosen to replace the Lovecraft bust trophy by the World Fantasy Awards Administration and the Board of the World Fantasy Convention following a year-long public competition.

(2) OMNI REBOOTS AMID RIGHTS LITIGATION. Penthouse Global Media, on July 10, announced the acquisition of OMNI magazine and that its upcoming issue is slated for print publication in late October.

“As Penthouse Global Media enters its second year under new ownership, our driving principle is to put all of the pieces of the brand back together again.  As a result of decades of neglect, much of this company’s brilliant legacy was lost…until now,” stated Penthouse CEO Kelly Holland. “I am proud to announce that one of those casualties, OMNI—the magazine of science and science fiction, heralded as one of Guccione’s most iconic brands—is once again a part of the Penthouse family where it belongs.  Thanks in large part to Pamela Weintraub, one of OMNI‘s original editors, who had the foresight to bring the brand back to life by re-registering the trademarks and launching a digital site, she, along with many of the original OMNI staff, will deliver the award-winning magazine to newsstands once again.”

Only days ago, to protect its intellectual property, Penthouse Global Media sued Jerrick Media, and various other defendants including Jerrick Media Holdings Inc., Jeremy Frommer, and actor Jared Leto, for copyright infringement, trademark infringement, unfair competition and false advertising, among other claims.

The lawsuit states:

Despite the fact that an application for registration of the OMNI Marks in connection with magazines had already been filed with the USPTO by Penthouse’s predecessor in interest, signaling to the world that the OMNI Marks were not available for use by Defendants, in 2013, Defendants Frommer and Schwartz again willfully and blatantly disregarded the intellectual property rights of others and began planning to publish an online science and science fiction magazine using the OMNI Marks and to republish and sell archival material from the original OMNI magazine. 29.

On or about June 27, 2013, Defendant Jerrick Ventures, LLC filed an application for registration of the purported trademark OMNI REBOOT (Serial No. 85,972,230), which registration was refused by the United States Patent and Trademark Office because of a likelihood of confusion with a registered OMNI Mark. On or about May 31, 2016, Jerrick Ventures, LLC filed a cancellation  proceeding before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) seeking to cancel the OMNI Mark (Cancellation No. 92063829). Because Penthouse General Media seeks a declaration in the present action that its registered OMNI Marks are valid and should not be cancelled, it will seek to have the cancellation proceeding  before the TTAB stayed pending the judgment in this action. 30.

Despite knowing of the existence of the registered OMNI Marks, and despite being denied registration of Omni Reboot, Defendants nonetheless  proceeded to willfully and blatantly infringe on the OMNI Marks by operating an online magazine at https://omni.media, which it refers to as OMNI Reboot, that not only uses the OMNI Marks in connection with the publication of an online magazine featuring science and science fiction topics, but also contains archival material from the original OMNI magazine, including magazine articles and reproductions of OMNI magazine covers, all without the permission or consent of Penthouse.

Jeremy Frommer’s claims to the rights are allegedly based on an auction purchase:

Frommer bought at an auction erotic photography, films and historical documents, among other things associated with Guccione and Penthouse. He then began reselling those and other related items online, according to the complaint, and allowing the public to view Caligula for a fee. That triggered the first round of this fight in bankruptcy court in 2013, but the parties mutually dismissed their claims without prejudice.

Penthouse’s Holland minimizes that claim:

“We at Penthouse don’t believe a person can acquire the rights to a brand simply by stumbling upon some of its products,” Holland said. “If you buy a DC comic book at a garage sale it doesn’t give you the rights to make a ‘Wonder Woman’ movie, nor does one have a right to our legacy because they found an old Omni magazine.”

(3) PUBLICLY CHOSEN GARGOYLE. The Washington Post’s Marylou Tousignant found some items of fannish interest at the Washington National Cathedral.

Washington National Cathedral, the sixth-largest cathedral in the world, has 215 stained-glass windows. The most popular holds a piece of moon rock brought back by the Apollo 11 astronauts in 1969.

Another must-see is Darth Vader, carved into the cathedral’s north side. The “Star Wars” villain was one of four winning designs by middle-schoolers in a 1985 contest. Vader is one of 1,242 weird creatures staring down from the cathedral’s neck­stretching exterior.

(4) EYECATCHING. Marvel Comics will release lenticular covers for Marvel Legacy.

The biggest stories and most epic team-ups come to MARVEL LEGACY this fall, and now you can hold the past and the future in your hands! Today, Marvel is proud to announce that all of the Marvel Legacy homage variants will be available as lenticular covers – a true celebration of Marvel’s history and expansive universe!

As seen on Newsarama, all of Marvel Legacy’s homage variants were previously unveiled, showcasing the new Marvel Legacy line-up and classic covers of the past. Don’t miss your chance to own a part of Marvel history – enhance your collection with all of Marvel Legacy’s lenticular covers, coming to comic shops this fall.

(5) DID YOU WONDER? What will the next Wonder Woman movie be about? ” Rumor of the day: Diana will face off against the USSR in Wonder Woman 2″.

With Russia in the news so much these days, The Wrap has said in an unsourced report that Wonder Woman 2 will take place during the 1980s and feature Diana of Themyscira going head-to-head with agents of the Soviet Union.

That means that like its predecessor, Wonder Woman 2 will be a period piece — only not as far in the past as the World War I setting of Diana’s first standalone adventure.

Although Patty Jenkins is not officially confirmed to return as director, she is said to be developing the script for Wonder Woman 2 with DC Entertainment co-president Geoff Johns. And while the story will allegedly feature the USSR in an antagonistic capacity, there’s no word on whether other villains from Wonder Woman’s published history will appear as well.

(6) THE PAYOFF. Marvel says Secret Empire #9 will reveal Steve Rogers’ secret. On sale August 23.

When Steve Rogers was revealed to be an agent of Hydra due to the manipulations of Red Skull, the Marvel Universe was rocked to its core. Now, it’s the moment fans have been waiting for – and you’re not going to want to miss this reveal!

What is the secret of Steve Rogers? And how will it affect the Marvel Universe as we know it?

(7) WHY IT’S HARDER TO FIND GOOD REVIEWS. Speculiction’s Jesse Hudson, in “And the drop is due to”,  charts the site’s declining number of book reviews against his rising familiarity with PlayStation 3 games. He is in awe of the current gaming technology.

It’s no secret that modern video games are exponentially more realistic and immersive than their pixel and dot forebears.  For the unaware, the degree of realism and immersion in today’s video games is essentially one degree removed from cinematics—a gap that will be covered in the next few years, for sure.  What this means is that game creators are able to put players, as much as is possible, into the shoes of the characters running around the imagined worlds on screen.  Being a detective, mighty warrior (or warrioress), or space marine is this close.  Game developers have done all the work to give you agency in what are essentially silver screen experiences.  Instead of watching a movie, you become part of the movie, directing the character, depending on the game, through the story.  I still fully appreciate novels for retaining the distance between sensual and imagined reality—for forcing the reader to use their imagination.  But I also appreciate what modern gaming is doing to virtually eliminate this distance; if the game’s world and gameplay are well-developed and unique, then so too can be the experience.

(8) THOUGHTS THUNK WHILE THINKING. Nancy Kress tells about her Big Idea for Tomorrow’s Kin at Whatever.

Your mind does not work the way you think it does.

You probably assume that you consider data and come to rational conclusions. But all too often, people don’t take into account such pesky tendencies as confirmation bias (“This fact confirms what I already believe so it gets more weight”) Or polarization (“This situation is all good/bad”). Or emotionalism (“I feel this so it must be true”), a need for control (“I’m looking at what I can change and nothing else”), presentism (“The future will be like the present only maybe a little more so”), or scapegoating (“If this isn’t as I wish it to be, someone must be to blame!”)

When I set out to extend my novella “Yesterday’s Kin” into the novel Tomorrow’s Kin, which takes the story ten years farther along, I wanted to write about these distortions in your thinking. Oh, not you in particular (how do I know what you’re thinking as you read this—maybe it’s “She doesn’t mean me. I’m different.”) What interested me—especially in the current political climate—is the public mind as it relates to science and the perception of science….

(9) CROWLEY’S TIME HAS COME. Tor.com’s Matthew Keeley has published a brief profile of John Crowley, “Predicting the Future and Remembering the Past with John Crowley”, an author he notes is best known for his book Little, Big, but regrets is still not very well-known outside writing circles. The article aims to change this situation:

At Readercon a few years ago, I attended a panel on favorite science fiction and fantasy books. One author, one of the best working today, talked about the near-impossibility of writing a book so perfect as John Crowley’s Little, Big. There were wistful sighs from writers in the audience and nodded agreements from other panelists. Everyone in the room at that most bookish convention recognized that competing with Crowley was impossible.

Yet in many fan circles Crowley remains unknown. This literary master of the hermetic, hidden, and esoteric has for too long been as hidden as the obscure histories, gnostic theorists, and addled visionaries that populate his work. Despite the many awards; despite the praise of luminaries both inside the genre community, like Ursula K. Le Guin and Thomas Disch, and outside it, like Harold Bloom; despite his inclusion in both Bloom’s Western Canon and Gollancz’s Fantasy Masterworks, most fantasy readers don’t read him. Perhaps this is the year that changes.

(10) MARTINELLI OBIT. Italian-born actress Elsa Martinelli died of cancer in Rome on July 8. She was 82. Her genre work included The 10th Victim (1965), based on the Robert Sheckley novel.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 11, 1997 — On this day in 1997, Carl Sagan’s Contact entered theatres.
  • July 11, 2014 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes premiered theatrically.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born July 11, 1899 – E.B. White
  • Born July 11, 1913 — Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger — better known by his pseudonym, Cordwainer Smith

(13) JEOPARDY! CONTESTANT. On the July 11 episode of Jeopardy!, Kelly Lasiter, from the St. Louis area, admitted she’s an SF fan who attends conventions in the area, and went to the 2016 Worldcon in Kansas City.

She won the game, with $22,800, and will play again on Wednesday.

(14) WHERE THE GEEKNERDS ARE. Examined Worlds’ Ethan Mills praises a convention’s community building in “CONvergence 2017 Report”.

The deeper thing that CONvergence taught me back in the early-mid 2000’s was the value of cons as a space for community, something I’ve discussed before with regard to other cons.  While being a geek/nerd is not as uncool as it used to be, it’s still great to have a place where you can let your geek flag fly proudly.  No matter how intense your nerdery is, someone at con is nerdier.  You may be wearing Vulcan ears, but someone else may have a full Starfleet uniform and android-colored contacts to dress up as Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation (an actual costume I saw at CONvergence).

The openness of a place where people can love what they love without derision or judgment is a beautiful thing.  This aspect of fandom seems to be unappreciated by small but annoying parts of fandom like the Rabid Puppies and Gamergaters, but it’s safe to say that for the vast majority of fans, this is precisely what fandom is all about….

(15) WHERE TO SELL. Now available: the “SFWA Market Report for July” compiled by David Steffen.

(16) A DAY AT THE PLANT. At Amazing Stories, Adam Roberts is interviewed about his contribution to an anthology,

Gary Dalkin for Amazing Stories: ‘Black Phil’, your story in Improbable Botany, packs a huge amount into 20 pages. It combines the scientific, the political and the personal in a way which is ultimately very moving, and does so while gradually revealing to the reader a startlingly imagined near future earth. There is a lot of specific detail in the story and I’m wondering what your approach to writing a piece like this is, how much do you have planned out before you begin writing, and how much comes to you through the writing process? I’m asking this in part because I’m wondering how quickly you write, given you are a prolific author of highly imaginative, intricately constructed novels and have a day job as a professor of literature as well.

Adam Roberts: My approach to writing has changed, I suppose. When I was starting out as a writer I would generally plan things out fairly carefully; now I have more technical fluency, and can trust my hands to produce more of what’s needed if I let them loose on the keyboard. Not entirely though. It’s a balance, as with so much of life. If a writer maps every beat of every chapter in a detailed plan before she ever writes a word, the danger is that the actual writing turns into a chore, merely filling in the blocks in the grid, and if the writer gets bored writing then that tends to communicate itself to the reader. On the other hand, simply diving in with no sense of where you’re going or how the story is going to unfold, in my experience, will result in something too baggy and freeform, understructured and messy. So the praxis for me is threading a path between those extremes: having a sense of the overall shape of the thing, and which spots I definitely want to hit as I go, but working out some of the specifics as I write the first draft, to keep at least elements of it fresh. With short stories the process is a little different to novels: plot is constrained by the shorter space, so there’s a greater need for other things to hold the whole together – a governing metaphor, for instance, that can be unpacked and explored, provided it’s eloquent enough. In ‘Black Phil’ I was working with blackness as a colour and blackness as a mood, which meant that the story needed to make a certain kind of emotional sense, and the other elements were rather subordinated to that.

(17) IF YOU WANT TO GIVE HER A MISS. Canberra sff author Gillian Polack puts a different spin on the typical convention schedule announcement in “How to avoid me at Worldcon 75”.

This is the post you’ve been waiting for. Now you can plan your Helsinki visit knowing you can avoid me. You’ll also know that I can’t redeem myself with chocolate, for I have tiny scraps of Australia to give everyone instead. Ask me nicely and you could take home some opal or Australian turquoise or fool’s gold. (When I say ‘scraps of Australia’ I mean it quite literally.) Asking me politely would, of course, mean not avoiding me.

I can only be at a small bit of the auction, but I’m bringing Tim tams, a blow-up kangaroo and other exciting things to add to the bidding frenzy. This emans I’ll be there … sort of…for some of the time and my luggage will represent me the rest of the time….

(18) GOOD REVIEWS. The other day I said someone’s Hugo nominee reviews were lacking who hadn’t completely read most of the stories. Now, at the opposite end of the spectrum, I’ve encountered the hyperfeasance of Garik16 who claims, “I managed to read every nominee this year before the nominations were announced except for A Closed and Common Orbit (Yes I know I’m hipster bragging here lol).”

More importantly, his post, “Reviewing the Hugo Nominees: Best Novel”, is rich in analysis and substantive comments.

  1. Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

Review on twitter here:

Disclaimer: I’ve just finished this books sequel (Raven Strategem, review forthcoming next week), and will try to separate the two books since its fresh in my mind. Ninefox Gambit is a book that is Challenging to read.  Whereas other books might try to infodump explanations of how extremely complicated made up SF or Fantasy worlds work, Ninefox Gambit just drops you right in the world, made up terminology and all, and trusts you to figure it out on your own.  It’s probably a bit too far in this direction honestly – a short story in the same universe for example explains a little bit more and there’s no reason this book couldn’t have done the same – but if you can get past it, the result is just phenomenal.

This is a universe where calendars followed are of maximum importance, where mathematical calculations allow for armies to create devastating attacks on a battlefield, and where immortality may be very possible.  This book deals largely with the efforts of a mathematical genius but otherwise standard infantry soldier getting stuck with an undead general in her head – an undead general who is both brilliant and known for massacreing his own forces.  The interplay between them, as well as how the world works around them, results in a truly fantastic book.

This is one of those books that will have you going back after your first reread to find out things you might have missed, and to see how things read after the reveal later in the book. The book isn’t light in tone – the dominant government relies on ritual torture to keep its technology working for example – but it is absolutely gripping if you can get past the terminology at the start and contains some pretty strong themes of the values of freedom, justice and sacrifice.

I suspect it’ll come in 2nd in voting, but this has my vote.

And for bonus reading, here’s what Garik16 thinks about the Hugo nominated novellas, novelettes, and short stories.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Rob Thornton, Rich Lynch, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Pixel Scroll 6/9/17 A Simple Scrollable Pixel, Or How I Was Mike Glyered Into Filing

(1) OPENING ROUND. Fantasy-Faction, in “The SPFBO: Introducing Round One!”, tells how they’re getting ready to participate in Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off.

As you know, 300 competing titles have now been split into batches of 30 and assigned to one of the ten participating blogs. Here’s the tough part: we can’t keep them all. It’s a bit like being asked to foster a small herd of kittens, then being told you’re only allowed to adopt one of them. We try hard not to become too attached, but it proved very difficult last year and I wouldn’t be the least surprised if the same were true again this time.

(2) SPACEBALLS. Profiles in History will be auctioning “Rick Moranis hero ‘Dark Helmet’ helmet from Spaceballs.” At the end of the month reports Invaluable.

Rick Moranis hero “Dark Helmet” helmet from Spaceballs. (MGM, 1987) This articulating oversized signature helmet was worn by Moranis as Dark Helmet throughout the Mel Brooks classic Sci-Fi spoof. Consisting of 20 in. round by 14 in. tall cartoonish “Darth Vader” -stylized helmet constructed of heavy vacuum formed plastic component shell affixed to internal construction worker’s hard-hat liner to fit the actor. With screw-hinged movable faceplate section featuring vents, metalized shower drain mouth piece and triangular embedded tinted see-through lenses. Exhibiting only minor production wear and age. In vintage very good to fine condition. $8,000 – $12,000

(3) M. BANKS. Sam Reader at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog honors the late author — “With The Algebraist, Iain M. Banks Perfected His Space Opera”.

The Scottish author Iain Banks famously led a double life in publishing. Some of his books — the ones published under the name Iain Banks — were sold to readers as “literature,” and shelved as such in bookstores. The rest — the ones that applied his talent for creating boldly unlikeable characters and enormously complex plots to the tropes and trappings of science fiction — were published under the name “Iain M. Banks,” that middle initial serving as a beacon to genre readers across the world, telling them: this one. This is the Banks you’re looking for.

The Algebraist is peak Iain M. Banks. It’s also the only book he ever wrote to be nominated for the Hugo Award, a fact that seems almost unbelievable in retrospect.

The late, great SF pioneer, who died on this day in 2013, spent most of his life experimenting with space opera …

(4) ANY SUFFICIENTLY ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY. Yesterday, you didn’t care about this. But today you will passionately brawl about it. Natalie Zutter asks “Is Time Travel Science Fiction or Fantasy?” at Tor.com.

Even though you would expect time travel to require hard rules, it seems to most often appear in both science fiction and fantasy stories that require a certain amount of handwaving on the details. We’re given some sense of how the TARDIS operates — the chameleon circuit, and the sometimes-isometric, sometimes-telepathic controls — but it’s best just to jump in and hang on. Similarly, there’s no clear explanation for the time travel in Kindred or Outlander aside from supernatural forces working outside of our understanding or control, forces that cause certain events to occur as part of some larger cosmic plan.

(5) NEVERMORE. Maybe there’s a more subtle reason Noah’s raven didn’t come back? The Verge reports “If you wrong a raven, it will remember”.

These nine ravens were raised in captivity, growing to become familiar with the researchers. Then came the test.

The ravens were put in a cage along with two trainers on each one. The first trainer gave the raven a piece of bread. The raven then carried the bread to the other trainer on the other side, and exchanged it for cheese.

The second time, the raven was soundly rejected. Instead of getting the cheese, it had to watch as the trainer just ate the cheese in front of it.

Two days later, the researcher rounded up up seven of the birds and presented them with three trainers: the fair one who gave them the bread, the unfair one who ate food in front of them, and a neutral one. Six out of seven birds chose the fair one. One chose the neutral one. Nobody wanted to play with the mean one.

(6) I FORGOT. The City, Awake by Duncan Barlow was released in March by Stalking Horse Press.

Barlow’s metaphysical noir The City, Awake is a novel of chemically induced amnesia, doppelgangers, fanatics, and killers. Saul, a man without a history, awakes in a hotel room with a note in his pocket. Hunting for answers, he must survive rival assassins, a millionaire with an axe to grind, a shape-shifting femme fatal, a silent hit man, and a psychotic who is only looking for an exit. Barlow evokes a vast mid-century modernist cityscape in prose that is by turns hard-boiled, then unexpectedly psychedelic and delicate. With temporal and spatial distortions reminiscent of A. E. van Vogt’s The World of Null-A, the novel that inspired Godard’s Alphaville, this is a vivid investigation of identity, scientific speculation, and Biblical Apocrypha. The City, Awake is a mirror maze of dark streets and darker secrets.

(7) FEAR OF THE ARTS. Omni’s Joshua Sky asks the questions in “Where X Marks the Spot: An Interview with Steve Barnes”.

Walk me through it. I’ve read about you, but I haven’t been able to find much on your childhood. Can you give me a recap of your youth?

Steve Barnes: Born and raised in South Central, Los Angeles. I was interested in science fiction, fantasy, films and stories from a very early age. My mother and sister raised me; there wasn’t a father in the home. So I was always very interested in macho adventure.

First book that I can remember clearly reading was called Space Cat. I was in second grade, before then, I loved monster movies and stuff like that. It’s always been apart of my life. The first real sci-fi novel I’ve ever read was probably Robert Heinlein’s, Have Spacesuit Will Travel, in the fifth grade.

When did you start making attempts at writing?

The first story I remember ever writing, was in like, third grade. It was called, The Yeti. It was about an abominable snowman in a Canadian lumber camp. After that, I wrote a lot of sci-fi action adventure, space ship monster stuff. I was doing that from third to fourth grade, up through college.

(8) NOTED FUTURIST. Joshua Sky also did an “Interview with Trina Phillips, Chief Futurist at SciFutures” for Omni.

Describe what SciFutures is. I’ve read about it, I know about it, but I’d like to hear it from you.

TRINA: We do a range of things, but our main idea is that a lot of companies don’t do well with changing their ways and staying up to date with new and near future technology. This isn’t just using new systems. We’re talking about thinking forward. Some of these companies have been around for over a hundred years; being forward thinking and moving fast are not their specialty. The idea behind it is that not only do you use science fiction ideas to help propel them into the future, but we use storytelling to help them understand it, to help them comprehend this new information better. Because someone can sit there and say, I’m doing projections, and with all the graphs and charts and this and that. And we don’t do that. We go further out than those are realistic for, you know, guessing at. We’re not going to tell you what you should do next year; we’re going to tell you what you should be looking to do in five to ten years, or more — if you prefer the long view.

But it’s all theoretical in a sense, because it’s from a science fictional standpoint, right?

TRINA: Yes, except it is based on the tech that’s available now, and we have a really good handle on modern technology. Half of our staff consists of tech people — a little more than half, actually. So we have a real grounding in where the tech is, where it’s going. We know what’s feasible, and we base our suggestions on that information. But that doesn’t mean we’re not inventing things that don’t quite exist yet. In fact, that’s exactly what we’re doing.

(9) NO FUTURIST. Meantime, John Scalzi was shocked to discover that his go-to soda, Coke Zero, is on its way out: “Is This the End of Our Hero, Coke Zero?!??!!??!?”

It’s that “no sugar” part that’s apparently important, because these days, or so the news reports suggest to me, sugar is in bad odor as being the worst possible thing you can put in your body short of heroin, a proposition I’m not convinced of, but then I’m kind of a sugar fiend, so I may be biased. By calling the new product Coke No Sugar, Coke is making it clear there’s, uh, no sugar in it. So, good for hyper-literal branding, I guess. I think “Coke No Sugar” is kind of terrible as a brand name, and suspect that if consumers didn’t know Coke Zero had, you know, zero sugar in it, the problem was marketing, and not the branding per se. Mind you, if memory serves, the whole point of Coke Zero marketing in the early days was to hide from dudes with fragile masculinity the fact that they were drinking a diet beverage, which is why the word “diet” was never put anywhere near the product dress. So again, I’m not sure consumers are 100% to blame here if they didn’t catch on about the zero sugar thing.

(10) MORE ON BOOKEXPO. Shelf Awareness insists the cup is half-full: “BookCon Draws 20,000; Trade Attendance Up at BookExpo”.

BookExpo drew 7,425 non-exhibiting attendees–primarily booksellers, librarians, retailers and media members — while BookCon brought in 20,000 readers, up 2,000 from two years ago, when the consumer event was last held in New York, ReedPOP announced this week. According to Brien McDonald, event director for BookExpo and BookCon, trade attendance was significantly up this year compared to last year’s show in Chicago, Ill., and in particular, attendance at the show’s author talks and educations sessions was “exceptionally high.” McDonald also noted that for 2017, ReedPOP implemented a review process for all non-buying categories of trade attendees, including self-published authors, bloggers and consultants, in an effort to curate more “high-quality attendance.”

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 9, 1965 — Ursula Andress stars with Cushing and Lee in Hammer Films’ She
  • June 9, 1978 — Walt Disney’s seminal science fiction classic *coff*  The Cat From Outer Space premieres.
  • June 9, 1989 Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was first seen in theaters.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born June 9, 1925 — Keith Laumer
  • Born June 9, 1930 — Lin Carter
  • Born June 9, 1943 — Joe Haldeman

(13) ON THEIR WAY OUT. If you’re trying to make sense of the British elections, actively avoid Camestros Felapton’s “Exit Poll”. But if you need a laugh, click away.

(14) INCONSISTENCY. J.K Rowling calls out a problem I’ve often observed — critics of misogyny who decide to give themselves a pass whenever they have an opportunity write an insult about a politically conservative woman. If someone values human respect, that should control their choices all the time.

(15) ZOMBIES TO THE RESCUE. In the May 25 Financial Times Charles Clover and Sherry Fei Ju note that China, which has long banned any film with ghosts or the supernatural (such as the Ghostbusters remake or the acclaimed South Korean film Train to Busan) has relented and allowed the latest Resident Evil film and Logan to be shown in China, possibly as a way to stimulate slumping box office sales. (“China unleashes zombie films to boost the box office” , behind a paywall.)

(16) GHOSTING CONS. Kara Dennison says “Let’s Talk About Lobbyconning”.

I was very confused by a comment left on Facebook concerning a convention I work for. A potential attendee asked if the con would be “open” or “closed.” No one really had any idea what this meant, until it was clarified: do you have to buy a badge to enter the convention space at all, or can you chill in the hotel lobby without buying a badge? The practice is known as “lobbyconning,” and I had never heard of it until within the last year or so. Essentially, rather than buying a membership to a convention, the lobbyconner just hangs out in the non-convention spaces of the hotel, seeing friends, showing off their cosplay, using Street Pass, etc. They see it as harmless and a way to save money. Now, quickly up front. I have sped by hotels where a convention is going on to say hi to a friend. Like. If the con is in the area. Usually if I want to see a friend at a nearby convention I’m not attending, we go get lunch or something, or if I go to the hotel we’ll meet for a drink in the bar or I go to their room. But if I’m going to see the friend, we generally leave the convention space. If I’m going to the convention to see the friend, I buy a day pass. Why? Because I am using the convention as a way to pass time with my friend, because it means they can still enjoy all parts of the con without having to abandon me for panels, and because dammit, supporting a con.

(17) A MATCH MADE IN HECK. A newsflash from Cattimothy House — “Jon Del Arroz hires Timothy the Talking Cat as his Publicist”.

Prominent local author, Jon Del Arroz entered into extensive negotiations with Cattimothy House yesterday to massively boost his profile by recruiting the services of Timothy the Talking Cat. Timothy, who is notable for his work with John C Wright, Declan Finn, Hillary Clinton and Vladimir Putin, is one of the leading editors of modern science fiction and is at the forefront of what he calls “the Pulp Revolution” (Timothy’s Jarvis Cocker cover band).

Timothy is alread taking proactive steps to boost Mr Del Arroz’s profile including new cover design concepts …

Naturally (or perhaps unnaturally), Jon was thrilled to realize “The File 770 Crowd Loves Me, Quite Literally”.

Today, Camestros Felapton upped the game of having a crush on me by making a full on book cover based on For Steam And Country — which is releasing next Thursday. This looks like a pretty time consuming effort, maybe even more so than the File 770 commenter who purchased and distributed convention ribbons for a full weekend homaging me …

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Jon Del Arroz, Peer Sylvester, Carl Slaughter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ken Richards.]

Pixel Scroll 6/3/17 Hello Pixel My Old Friend, I’ve Come To Scroll With You Again

(1) SCORING WONDER WOMAN. Vox explains that Wonder Woman’s score/rating is 93% or 76%, depending on how you look at it, in “Why people are freaking out over Wonder Woman’s stellar Rotten Tomatoes score”

To be clear, a 97 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating doesn’t mean that critics scored the movie at 97 on a scale of 1 to 100, or that Wonder Woman is a perfect movie — rather, it signifies that an overwhelming majority of critics have given the movie a positive review. The average critical rating for the movie is around a 7.6 out of 10 according to Rotten Tomatoes, and a 76 according to Metacritic, both of which take into account any actual score, like a star rating or a letter grade, that a critic gave the movie.

(2) WORD PROBLEM. Or, for those of you who find a verbal response more helpful that a number, Gary Westfahl offers “A Working Model for Superhero Films: A Review of Wonder Woman” at Locus Online.

One important lesson to learn seems obvious enough: since the DC superheroes first became popular because of their appearances in comic books, filmmakers should generally remain faithful to the contents and spirit of their original adventures. One of the irksome aspects of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was his willingness to tinker with Superman’s and Batman’s back stories and ignore facets of their established characters, so that one watches these films regularly thinking, “Superman would never do that,” or “Batman would never do that.” In contrast, though Snyder is co-credited with Wonder Woman‘s story, its other writers — Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs — must be primarily credited with a film that, with minor changes to be noted, is remarkably faithful to the longstanding traditions of Wonder Woman (even though she is never called Wonder Woman in the film), projecting a strong awareness and respect for the three aspects of the heroine that make her almost unique (and her gender, though relevant, is not the most significant issue).

(3) OMNI FOR SALE — BUT SHOULD IT BE? The entire run of Omni magazine is available for purchase from Amazon for $2.99/issue (or free if you have Kindle Unlimited.) — see Omni archive.

But SFWA President Cat Rambo points out there are unanswered questions about the rights to market the fiction in these issues:

Be aware that there’s some questions about those runs of Omni. While the nonfiction seems to have been often work for hire, I don’t believe that’s true of the fiction, and I also don’t think they’re paying the writers of that fiction. At least, they have not replied to repeated and increasingly pointed queries on my part about it. I’ve asked affected fiction writers to mail me if they know their work has been stolen by these folk.

(4) GET OUT THE KLEENEX. The New York Times debuted its feature New York Stories by getting some artists (including Tom Gauld) to draw header illustrations for selected articles.

First one I read was the lost dog story — “World (or at Least Brooklyn) Stops for Lost Dog” by reporter Andy Newman. Big tearjerker.

Bailey, a 2½-year-old goldendoodle, lived a placid, largely uneventful life on a block of handsome brownstones in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, until 7:15 on the morning of Oct. 24.

That was when her owner leashed her to a metal chair outside Henry’s Local, a coffee shop on Henry Street, and went in for an iced latte.

Another customer entered the cafe. Bailey, startled, jumped to the side. The chair crashed to the sidewalk. The noise spooked Bailey further.

She bolted — down Henry Street, dragging the clattering chair behind her, with her owner, Orna Le Pape, in pursuit, yelling: “Bailey, stop! No! No!”

The NYT allows ten free articles before you a paywall. But there are ways around that, as you probably know.

(5) HARRY POTTER FAN FILM. ScienceFiction.com interestingly reports, “Warner Bros. Okays ‘Harry Potter’ Fan Film ‘Voldemort: Origins Of The Heir’”. The spectacular-looking trailer was linked in the Scroll the other day — now it looks like the makers will be allowed to do their feature.

But considering that this borders on copyright infringement, this trend has caused studios much alarm and has even caused some to call in the lawyers. For example, CBS and Paramount went after a ’Star Trek’ fan film titled ‘Axanar’ and tied that production in litigation for over a year. Eventually, things settled down and the filmmakers were allowed to proceed with their project with certain conditions, but it set a precedent for studios and future fan films that have recently played out with Warner Bros. and a ‘Harry Potter’ fan film titled ‘Voldemort: Origins of the Heir’. Luckily, just as with the ‘Star Trek’ production, it would seem that the studio has given the fans their blessing to move forward with their labor of love.

While speaking with Polygon, ‘Origins of the Heir’ co-director Gianmaria Pezzato of Tryangle Films revealed that after WB had their Kickstarter campaign shut down in July 2016, the two parties came to some kind of agreement that would allow Pezzato, co-director Stefano Prestia, and the whole crew to continue their work. However, there were some conditions:

“We had a private and confidential discussion with Warner Bros who contacted us during the period of the crowdfunding campaign. The only thing we can say is that they let us proceed with the film, in a non profit way, obviously.”

With WB’s blessing, Tyrangle is back in business. It’s a good thing too because their film looks really awesome. I mean, when fans can create a House Elf as well as some of the best animators in the business, it would be a crime for a cease and desist to keep the movie from coming to fruition.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 3, 1965 — Astronaut Edward H. White II was the first American to perform a “spacewalk” when he stepped outside of his spacecraft

(7) YESTERDAY IN HISTORY

  • June 2, 1950 Influential sci-fi film Rocketship X-M opens in theaters.
  • June 2, 1989 Nicolas Cage stars in horror comedy Vampire’s Kiss.

(8) YESTERDAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born June 2, 1915 — Lester del Rey

(9) WATCH FOR THE BLINK. Offering more participation than SETI@home: “Citizen Scientists Comb Images To Find An ‘Overexcited Planet'”.

“Maybe Mesklin is out there just waiting to be discovered,” comments Chip Hitchcock.

Professional astronomers have been turning to the public for help with their research. So far, these “citizen scientists” have helped characterize distant galaxies and discovered gravitation lenses.

Now you can add finding brown dwarfs to the list. An article just published in Astrophysical Journal Letters describes a brown dwarf discovered with the help of four volunteers through an online crowdsourced search.

The project is called Backyard Worlds: Planet 9. When NPR reported on it in February, the focus was on finding the planet that astronomers predict exists at the farthest reaches of the solar system.

(10) EARTH, THE FINAL FRONTIER. “This is exactly what Captain Kirk was portrayed as trying to do in the beginning scenes of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier,” David Klaus points out. “I didn’t think it actually was physically possible to do, and the ability to make such a climb was part of the fictional Star Trek future.” — “‘Free solo’ climber conquers El Capitan without rope, safety gear”

Alex Honnold, a celebrated 31-year-old rock climber, on Saturday became the first person to scale Yosemite’s El Capitan, a nearly 3,000-foot granite wall, without using ropes or other safety gear, according to National Geographic

(11) DUFF DOINGS. Down Under Fan Fund delegate Paul Weimer tweets more highlights from the New Zealand leg of his trip.

(12) WISCON. In “That was Wiscon!”, Sigrid Ellis has both favorable things to say about the con, and some other specific observations bracketed by the following excerpts.

Wiscon still has room for improvement in areas of social justice, but this year was certainly better than five years ago. I think it helps that a number of people No Longer Feel Welcome at Wiscon and have decided to go to OddCon instead. Which, is sad for people who liked OddCon, but good for Wiscon.€¦

(A note on Not Feeling Welcome at Wiscon: If you no longer feel welcome at Wiscon because people criticize you and tell you you are saying and doing bigoted things, perhaps you should examine that in your heart. Listen. Read up on the topic. Challenge your views. Think on it a while. Perhaps, apologize. Perhaps grow as a person. Or, you know, clutch your bigotry to your chest and flounce away on a cloud of hurt privilege and drama. That’s a choice you can make, sure, why not.)

(12) TO SEE THE UNSEEN. The Washington Post’s Julie Zauzmer discusses how children’s book author Marissa Moss decided to make her memoir of her husband’s death, Last Things, a graphic novel in order to best convey her emotions about her husband’s death: “In graphic memoir, children’s author aims to show adults what they don’t see about death”.

…Part of the problem, Moss said, is that American culture isolates death from everyday life, cordoning off the messy experiences of illness and grief in hospital rooms and nursing homes. Most people don’t see the ill or bereaved until they become the mourner themselves.

With her memoir “Last Things,” published last month, Moss becomes one of a growing group of writers attempting to expose these hidden yet universal processes. From tell-all bloggers posting about every stage of sickness and death, to Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg’s “Option B” published after her husband’s untimely death, Moss joins in to illustrate grief — in her case, quite literally.

A prolific children’s book writer best known for her popular “Amelia’s Notebook” series, Moss has been telling stories through a mix of words and pictures for decades. But when she first sat down to create a memoir of Harvey’s illness, she only wrote prose.

Publishers balked. …

(13) CLUB MEETING. The Hugo Award Book Club takes up a popular sequel in “A Closed And Common Orbit — Book Club Review”.

Generic Space Setting

Becky Chambers’ strength is not world building. Both of her books so far feature fungible aliens from central casting, off-the-shelf worlds, and a feel-good interstellar society not dissimilar from the United Federation of Planets.

But this is actually not a bad thing, since digging into the world doesn’t detract from what’s important in the book: the relationships and the characters. Numerous novels in recent years have been marred by too much focus on the universe, and not enough focus on the characters.

(14) WE’RE HERE. At The Bearded Trio Paul Gibbs studies the only Name of the Game episode anybody still cares about: “L.A. 2017: A look back at Steven Spielberg’s Early Sci-Fi Time Travel Movie”.

When I first [heard] two years ago that Steven Spielberg had directed a science fiction TV movie called L.A. 2017, I was puzzled. How could I not know about this? I pride myself on my extensive knowledge of Spielberg’s work, and even on the relative completeness of my personal collection (when people try to catch me by asking if the collection includes Duel, I smirk and reply it even includes the far lesser known Something Evil.). How could i not be aware of this one?

(15) TOY TIME. Forbes writer Ollie Barder is excited: “Bandai Unveils Its Perfect Grade Millennium Falcon Model Kit And It Is No Hunk Of Junk”.

For Star Wars fans, Bandai is now the go to resource for the best toys and model kits for the entire franchise. Its latest offering though is all kinds of epic; a massive 1/72 scale Perfect Grade Millennium Falcon kit.

If you are not familiar with the term “Perfect Grade“ that comes from Bandai’s Gundam model kit, or gunpla, line. It’s the highest grade in terms of complexity, gimmicks, detailing, scale and price. The results are usually incredibly though and I have availed myself of a few of these kits over the years, so I speak from experience here.

In this instance, the Millennium Falcon matches the same 1/72 scale as its X-Wing and TIE Fighter kits, so you can totally do a huge nerdy diorama if you so wish.

The size thing is a big point here, as this kit is massive. It’s also gimmick ridden and full of lights and a removable cockpit cover.

 

[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus, Chip Hitchcock, Joe H., Cat Rambo, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

A New Year of Bradbury

(1) A GREEN AND ANCIENT LAND. Justin Hamelin strolls through Bradbury’s childhood hometown of Waukegan in “Ray Bradbury: The Wordsmith, The Gentleman and The Icon” at Terror Time.

Over eighty-five years have passed since Ray Bradbury walked the streets and crossed the bridges of Waukegan as a boy, but his legacy in the town does, indeed, live on.

Annual events such as the Ray Bradbury Storytelling Festival occurs every Halloween in Waukegan.  The Dandelion Wine Fine Arts Festival occurs each summer, as well.  The library, albeit in a different building than the one Ray grew up in, holds several contests and programs throughout the year inspired by Bradbury and his work, as well.

The Carnegie Library still stands today and is in relatively good shape.  A local movement to have the building deemed a national landmark continues to pick up momentum with each passing month.  Currently, the library is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a local landmark building.  One of the many things I learned recently is that the Carnegie building is also a PokeStop in the Pokemon Go game, which would no doubt illicit a chuckle from Mr. Bradbury, I’m sure.

(2) HALL OF FAME CALLS. Ray Bradbury was inducted into the California Library Hall of Fame in 2016.

One of the greatest and most prolific authors of the 20th-century, Ray Bradbury was a passionate supporter of libraries, calling them “the center of our lives.” A 1938 graduate of Los Angeles High School, Bradbury sold newspapers on the street until 1942, continuing his education at his local public library. His most beloved work, Fahrenheit 451, famously began as a novella, The Fireman, in UCLA’s Powell Library, where he fed dimes into a pay typewriter. Bradbury was proudly self-educated in libraries, proclaiming that he didn’t believe in colleges and universities–instead he believed in libraries! He once joked to the NY Times that he spoke for free at over 200 California libraries. He also allowed libraries to sell his autographed books and keep all the profits. Bradbury spoke at California Library Association annual conferences and constantly sang the praises of California libraries. When libraries in Pomona, Long Beach, Ventura, South Pasadena, and other areas were threatened with budget cuts and even closure, he was an outspoken, articulate, and attention-getting advocate for their survival. In 2004 Bradbury was awarded the Medal of Arts Lifetime Achievement Award and, in 2007, the Pulitzer Board recognized him with a Special Citation for his incredible lifetime achievements. A crater and an asteroid are also named after him, plus he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

(3)  HOLLYWOOD ICON. LA Weekly reports the closing of the Formosa Café in West Hollywood, where Ray Bradbury would have lunch/dinner with the likes of Sam Peckinpah and John Huston.

Its neighbor was the Mary Pickford– and Douglas Fairbanks–owned studio complex, later known as Samuel Goldwyn Studio, then as Warner Hollywood Studios and finally as Lot Studios. A group called Friends of the Formosa saved the structure from demolition in the early 1990s, though five nearby studio buildings ultimately were razed. The West Hollywood Gateway project next door, which includes a Target and a Best Buy, towers over the Formosa, but its street-clogging traffic doesn’t appear to have nourished the eatery with sustainable business.

This scene of L.A. Confidential was shot there.

(4) QUOTABLE QUOTE: “Rich men can afford the luxury of cathartic murder.”  ~ Ray Bradbury

(5) LESS THAN 24 HOURS LEFT. And only rich men can afford this Bradbury script on eBay

The Strawberry Window Original Typed Script with Hand Written Notes! – 17 Pages – 3rd Draft – 1954 Signed and Inscribed by Ray Bradbury

(6) YOUR WHALE-SHAPED CRAFT. Maria Popova quotes from “Ray Bradbury’s Unpublished Poems and His Meditation on Science vs. Religion” at Brain Pickings.

In the last few years, I have found myself returning again and again to the problem of science and theology. This problem has thrust itself into the center of a series of poems I have written. I have for some time now thought that the conflict between religion and science was a false one, based, more often than not, on semantics. For when all is said and done, we each share the mystery. We live with the miraculous and try to interpret it with our data correctors or our faith healers. In the end, survival is the name of the game.

One upon a time we created religions which promise us futures when we knew there were no possible ones. Death stared us in the face, forever and ever.

Now, suddenly, the Space Age gives us a chance to exist for a billion or two billion years, to go out an build a heaven instead of promising one to ourselves, with archangelic hosts, saints waiting at Gates, and God pontifical on his Throne.

(7) 451. She chose Bradbury. Fate chose her: “Student at University of Texas in Austin Wins a New Hardback Book a Month for Life”.

Heywood Hill, the legendary independent London bookshop, announced today that Mariadela Villegas, a third year student at the University of Texas in Austin, has won the Library of a Lifetime, the world’s first major literary prize focused on readers of books. To win, readers entered the name and author of the single book that has meant the most to them, drawn from any book published in English since Heywood Hill was founded in 1936—eighty years ago this year. The bookshop received more than 50,000 submissions from more than 100 countries during the submission period, October 1 – 31, 2016, and Villegas was notified on November 25th that she had won the grand prize: one newly published and hand-picked hardback book per month, for life, delivered to her home….

Villegas submitted Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury for the competition, describing her choice with the following: “The mere thought of a world where books are forbidden both fascinated and terrified me. The idea of a band of nomads who are the only remaining links to great works of literature kept me up at night imagining what it would be like for them to know that if something were to happen, a literary classic would be lost forever.”

(8) RETURN TO THOSE TITILLATING DAYS OF YESTERYEAR. Omni reprinted a Ray Bradbury interview that originally appeared in Genesis, a softcore magazine, which accounts for why every question is about sex.

Why is there very little sexuality in your work?

I think it’s because I have no hang-ups. People often say to me, “How come you don’t fly? You don’t drive? Isn’t that ridiculous for a science-fiction writer? How do you explain this paradox? You’re writing about these things and you don’t do them.” And I say, “Of course, that’s exactly it.” A writer writes about those things that he can’t do. His hang-ups. Now I was afraid of the dark until I was twenty-one, twenty-two years old. Perhaps some of that is still in me. So my first books are excursions in darkness, trying to make do with my fears. And out of these weaknesses I made strengths. So it is with sexuality. If sex doesn’t appear in my novels, I must be giving forth these energies, exploding my sexual energies in correct proportions. Loving people in just the right way. So I don’t have to write about them.

(9) THE GRADUATE. Entropy tells the story of the Bradbury mural at his alma mater – “Learning from Masters: Ray Bradbury and Richard Wyatt Jr. at Los Angeles High School”.

Originally founded in 1873, Los Angeles High School is the oldest secondary school in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Located on Olympic between La Brea and Crenshaw, Los Angeles High School is undoubtedly one of the most iconic high schools in Southern California. Considering its storied history and its celebrated alumni like Bradbury and Bukowski, the recent transformation of the library makes perfect sense. The central organizer and visionary of the renewal efforts is teacher-librarian, Tikisha Harris. Harris started at Los Angeles High School in the fall of 2013 and when she first arrived, the library was in desperate need of being rehabilitated.

The idea to paint a mural at Bradbury’s alma mater was an event that gradually unfolded and it began ironically enough at an iconic Los Angeles restaurant less than a mile east of Los Angeles High School. The eatery is El Cholo on Western and the reason it all started here is because a teacher from the school, Sonia Hanson was eating there over a year ago and she somehow struck up a conversation with Richard Wyatt Jr. while he finished his meal a table over. After having a great conversation, Wyatt gave Hanson his card and let her know to contact him if he could ever help the school and her in any way.

Flash forward several months to October 2015 and Sonia Hanson was in a meeting with librarian Tikisha Harris discussing Ray Bradbury and how they can get the school interested and involved in Fahrenheit 451 for the citywide initiative called “The Big Read,” which had selected Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 as the book for the year. “The Big Read,” is an initiative of the National Endowment of the Arts where libraries, schools and cultural organizations unite together to all read the same book. The Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs spearheaded the project throughout the city, distributing copies to participating schools and libraries. In the midst of brainstorming how their school could participate, the idea came up of painting a mural of Bradbury in the library.

Bradbury mural Wyatt

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for these stories.]

Pixel Scroll 1/3/17 Scrolling, Scrolling, Scrolling – Rawhide!

(1) SPACE FLOWING PAST THE PORTS LIKE WINE FROM A PITCHER. Here’s a video excerpt from the class “To Space Opera and Beyond with Ann Leckie”, part of the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers, in which Leckie discusses the basics of space opera and the definition of it provided by Brian Aldiss.

(2) BEARS DISCOVER MCGUIRE. Reading Omni’s “Best Emerging Fantasy Authors of 2016”, James Davis Nicoll snorted at one of the selections:

They’ve discovered Guy Gavriel Kay! Who they think is an emerging author. But it is not their fault.

Sylvia Moreno-Garcia brought the problem to the attention Omni and was given the brushoff.

Moreno-Garcia persisted – since this is just pixels on the internet and not carved in granite, Omni could do something about it even now.

JJ adds about another of Omni’s choices, “Given her 8-year career, 25 novels and 4 collections, 9 Hugo finalists plus 2 wins, and a Tiptree finalist, I don’t think Seanan McGuire can be considered “emerging”, either.”

(3) NATIONAL SCIENCE FICTION YESTERDAY. Mayim Bialik celebrated #NationalScienceFictionDay on January 2 by showing her readers this historic tome –

Here’s me with the book that inspired GrokNation, Heinlein’s Sci Fi classic Stranger in a Strange Land! For more info on what “grok” means, check this out: http://groknation.com/faq/

 

mayim-bialik-nat-sf-day

(4) BIOLOGY LESSON. An educational graphic the young’uns can study.

(5) BEFORE PALPATINECARE. Motherboard’s Sarah Jeong asks “Did Inadequate Women’s Healthcare Destroy Star Wars’ Old Republic?”

Padme Never Goes to a OB/GYN

Prenatal visits never happen in Episode III, not even offscreen. Despite Anakin’s spiraling paranoia about Padme’s health, doctors or hospitals are bizarrely never mentioned. And the evidence says that Padme never got an ultrasound.

When she confronts Anakin towards the end of the movie—shortly before giving birth—she refers to “our child,” rather than “our children.” It doesn’t make sense for her to be hiding the ball here, she’s making one last emotional appeal to the father of her children, to try to bring him back to the light side. Rather, Padme simply doesn’t know that she’s about to give birth to twins.

(6) DISSENTING VOICE. “Vera Rubin Didn’t Discover Dark Matter” avers Richard Panek at Scientific American.

Vera Rubin didn’t discover dark matter.

Rubin died last weekend, at the age of 88. Headlines have repeatedly identified her as having “discovered” dark matter or having “proved” the existence of dark matter. Even the Carnegie Institution’s press release announcing her death—she had worked as a staff astronomer at Carnegie’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism in Washington, D.C., for half a century before her recent retirement—said that she “confirmed the existence of dark matter.” Rubin would have said she did no such thing. I know, because she did say that, to me, on several occasions.

One could make the argument that the correct formulation of her achievement is that she discovered evidence for the existence of dark matter, and while Rubin likely would have acquiesced to that construction, she would have found it incomplete, perhaps even misleading. She would have said that while she discovered evidence for the existence of dark matter, you shouldn’t infer from that statement that dark matter actually exists.

The distinction wasn’t merely a matter of semantics. It was, to her, a matter of philosophy, of integrity—a matter of how science works.

(7) JPL ANNIVERSARY. Thanks to SciFi4me we know “Jet Propulsion Laboratory Celebrates 80 Years With Free 2017 Calendar”.

As part of their 80th anniversary, JPL has released a free 2017 calendar you can download, filled with photos from both JPL and NASA, and including anniversaries and events. They also have an interactive timeline of JPL’s biggest moments. You can access both of these, as well as more history of JPL, over on the JPL website. JPL has regular open houses, and I hope to attend one myself one day now that I’m in Los Angeles.

Download calendar (PDF 28 MB)

(8) GETTING THE WORD OUT. A Tom Gauld strip —

(9) NEW PODCAST. The Blastoff Podcast has been launched this week by Jud Meyers and Scott Tipton, creators of Blastoff Comics in North Hollywood.

In the premiere episode, Scott explains the difference between the golden and silver ages of comic books. Then, Jud muses on the child-like wonder of stepping inside a brick and mortar comic shop.

blastoff-podcast-825x383

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 3, 1924 – King Tut’s sarcophagus was uncovered.
  • January 3, 2004 — Spirit rover landed on Mars.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born January 3, 1892 – J. R. R. Tolkien

(12)ESCAPING THE SHADOW. Simon Tolkien, grandson of J.R.R., tells how WWI inspired Lord of the Rings (and his own very modest career).

My grandfather, JRR Tolkien, died when I was 14. He remains vivid to me but through child-like impressions – velvet waistcoats and pipe smoke; word games played on rainy afternoons in the lounge of a seaside hotel or standing on the windy beach down below, skipping flat black pebbles out across the grey waves; a box of matches that he had thrown up in the air to amuse me, rising and falling as if in slow motion through the branches of a horse chestnut tree.

These memories did nothing to illuminate who my grandfather was or how he thought beyond a sense of wise benevolence arching over me like that tree. Nothing except for his religion: I remember the emotion in his voice when he recited prayers with me in the evening – not just the Hail Mary and the Our Father but others too – and the embarrassment I felt at church on Sundays when he insisted on kneeling while everyone else stood, and loudly uttering responses in Latin when everyone else spoke in English.

(13) GOOD FAKES. Timothy Anderson’s online gallery includes a set of clever faux vintage Star Wars paperback covers. They start with The Purloined Plans, second row down, toward the right.

(14) SHUTTERED. Crawford Doyle Booksellers on Manhattan’s Upper East Side is closing. Andrew Porter remembers —

The store, at 1082 Madison Ave, New York (between 81st and 82nd), was a bookstore long before 21 years ago. I used to live above it, at 24 East 82nd Street, and when I was a teenager in the early 1960s, and delivered Womrath Library books to subscribers in the neighborhood.

Downstairs, reached by a staircase from the store, there was an antique toy store. At one time, they sold military miniatures, including soldier figures from Donald A. Wollheim’s collection. An occasional visitor, I was told, was a collector by the name of George R.R. Martin. Another small part of my history disappearing into oblivion…

(15) CLIPPING SERVICE. Some of you might like this assortment of topical clips more than Mad Genius Club’s Amanda S. Green did.

Next up, we have yet another call to have a year of publishing nothing but women. Yep, you read that right. Kamila Shamshie has called for 2018 to be the year of publishing only women. Now, I know what you’re going to say. Look at the source of the article. It’s the Guardian. I know. I know. Another bastion of, well, drivel. However, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen such calls, or something similar. Have you forgotten the calls for readers to give up on reading books by men — or non-people of color or other so-called marginalized groups — for a year?

One of the best responses I’ve seen to the Shamshie article comes from Dacry Conroy. These three paragraphs completely dismantle Shamshie’s argument:

Yes! I thought. We do need to take example from the suffragettes, we do need to stop being so polite and seize our own power, raise our voices and… That’s when she lost me. Because what Shamsie suggested we raise our voices to say to the publishing industry was, essentially, “Please let us in. You’re being unfair. Just for one year without any boys in the way and see if the readers like us. It doesn’t have to be right away, 2018 is fine, but give us a go? Please?”

I don’t see the spirit of the independent presses of the 70s and 80s in that. What I see is a spirit of dependence on an industry that infantilizes writers, making them grateful for any morsel of approval and attention, convincing them that a publishing house is the only way to ‘real’ publication. This seems to be particularly so of literary writers (a group to which I do not pretend to belong) who appear to have been convinced that even though they are the keepers of the “artistic flame,” they would not have an audience at all without the festivals, the reviewers and the awards the publishing houses so carefully close to all but their own.

Surely the lesson from the independent presses of the 70s isn’t to plead for someone else to start a press and offer better opportunities, it’s to stand up, use the technology available and become our own publishers. Many of us are already doing that.

(16) THE YEAR IN RPG. Shannon Appelcline, respected RPG industry watcher, delivers a big gaming roundup in “Advanced Designers & Dragons #10: 2016: The Year in Review”.

The Continued Rise of Indies. For several years now, I’ve been talking about the rise of indie games, as several once-indie companies have become major players in the industry. In 2016 a few of them started collecting together other games, turning themselves into publishing houses that go beyond just the particular ideas of their owners.

Evil Hat* was the most notable, with their expansion occurring thanks to the success of the Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game (2017?)*. They’ve hired a few people on as full-time employees, which is a luxury in today’s roleplaying industry, let alone the indie industry. Meanwhile, they’re printing and distributing a few successful Kickstarters: Blades in the Dark (2017?)* and Karthun: Lands of Conflict (2017?).

Burning Wheel strikes me as a smaller, more casual organization, but they similarly picked up the publishing and distribution of a few indie games: Dungeon World (2012) and Jared Sorsensen’s Parsely games (2009-2010). This also seems like a more casual partnership, mainly amounting to Burning Wheel HQ, Sage Kobold, and Memento Mori combining forces, like in the Gen Con Forge booth of days gone by, but between Burning Wheel (2002), Torchbearer (2013), and Dungeon World (2012), you have three of the most notable indie fantasy RPGs, all under one roof!

Last year also offered one more example of the indie movement growing and maturing: the blockbuster Apocalypse World (2010) got a second edition (2016).

The Inevitable Kickstarter Report. As in recent years, I’m going to end this review with a look at Kickstarter. And, I think the only description of Kickstarter this year is: wow. I mean, it’s been good for the industry for years, but in 2016 it notched up a higher level of success than ever before.

To start with, we suddenly had 26 pure RPG Kickstarters that raised more than $100,000 in 2016, after years of hovering below 20. Most notably, 7th Sea raised $1.3 million! That’s almost double the previous high, which was Deluxe Exalted 3e, which raised $684,755 in 2013. 7th Sea’s 11,483 backers also beat out the 10,103 backers for Evil Hat’s Fate Core from 2012-2013, a number that I thought might be unassailable.

(17) BEST NEW WRITERS. Rocket Stack Rank has put together a list of stories from Campbell-eligible authors. Greg Hullender explains:

As usual, the entry for each story has a spoiler-free blurb plus a link to a more detailed review. People who have already done their reading for the year and just need to be reminded of which story was which will probably find both of those useful. For people still looking for things to read, we’ve indicated which stories were recommended by us or any of the reviewers we track, and there are links to places to read stories for free (where possible) and otherwise there’s info on how to buy or borrow them.

The graph shows that Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies were the most friendly venues for new authors. Original anthologies are the least.

(18) GROOVY, MAN. @70sscifiart on Twitter shares retro sf covers and art.

(19) SUPERFINE. Melville House has a story about a very overdue library book.

Gillett came across the 1,000-page tome when, after her husband’s death, she was sorting through a collection of 6,000 books. Finding the HCS library stamp on the inside cover, she realized the extraordinary truth, and decided to return the book to the school along with a note reading: “I am sorry to inform you that one of your former pupils, Prof AE Boycott FRS, appears to have stolen the enclosed. I can’t imagine how the school has managed without it!”

Perhaps this book helped inspire the Professor’s future career. The little boy once obsessed with snails now has his own portrait hanging in the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Based on the rate at Hereford library, the fine could have been charged at 17 pence a day, over 120 years, totalling around £7,446.

(20) ROTSLER AWARD EXHIBIT AT LOSCON. Courtesy of Elizabeth Klein-Lebbink we have a photo of the Rotsler Award Exhibit from Loscon 2016 featuring the art of Ditmar.

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(21) SCAVENGERS. This is an animated short film about astronauts who were stranded on a planet a long time ago, long enough that they’ve learned a great deal about the planet’s biological organisms and the interactions between the native flora and fauna.

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