Pixel Scroll 9/12/17 There Are As Yet Insufficient Pixels For A Meaningful Scroll

(1) ABRAMS BACK AT THE HELM. The Wrap’s Beatrice Verhoeven and Umberto Gonzalez, in “J.J. Abrams To Replace Colin Trevorrow on STAR WARS:  EPISODE IX”, say that Disney says that Abrams has been signed to direct this Star Wars film after Trevorrow, who has been attached to Episode IX since 2015, was given the boot.

 “With ‘The Force Awakens,’ J.J. delivered everything we could have possibly hoped for, and I am so excited that he is coming back to close out this trilogy,” said Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy in a statement.

Abrams directed and produced “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in 2015. He is also serving as an executive producer on the upcoming film “The Last Jedi,” out this December, which Rian Johnson is directing. Abrams will co-write “Episode IX” with Chris Terrio.

(2) A VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY. Time-lapse photography unexpectedly reveals that starships are built from wood.

(3) TOOTLE, PLUNK AND BOOM. And it’s time that the new series theme embarked on a shakedown cruise.

When it comes to Star Trek, a dynamic main title theme is key. In this behind-the-scenes video for Star Trek: Discovery, composer Jeff Russo leads a 60-piece orchestra in recording the new series theme.

 

(4) THANKS FROM THE CENTER. The Center for Bradbury Studies hit its fundraising goal.

THANK YOU! Because of your generous support, the #CenterforRayBradburyStudies exceeded its #fundraising goal to raise over $6,000! In May, the Center received a generous grant from the Indiana Historical Society with a matching requirement that you helped raise. Thanks to you, we will be able to move forward in our mission to preserve and advance #RayBradbury's amazing legacy. We promise to steward your investments wisely. We'll do our best to keep you up to date on what's happening at the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies and the impact of your support. For those who missed the opportunity, the Preserving the World of Ray Bradbury crowdfunding site is still open. The collection is huge and our preservation needs continue. Thank you again, great Bradbury supporters, including those of you who support us regularly!!! #RayBradbury @indianahistory https://iufoundation.fundly.com/preservingtheworldofraybradbury

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(5) VINTAGE TUBE. Echo Ishii has a new installment in her series of reviews of antique TV shows: “SF Obscure: The Tripods”

The Tripods TV series is a 1984-1985 YA SF series based on a series of books The Tripods by John Christopher. It ran for two seasons on the BBC. There are many changes from the books to the tv series though the basic concept remains the same.

The show begins in the future 2089. We see a pre-industrial version of England. Horse drawn carriages, family farms, etc. A young man in a suit is being congratulated by his friends and family for his “capping “ceremony. He takes off his hat to reveal his shaven head. Out of the sky comes a giant metal tripod, that lands in the lake and pulls the young man up inside.

(6) BELIEVERS IN THE MISANDRY CONSPIRACY. At the Emperor’s Notepad a blogger who writes books as Xavier Lastra is convinced he has come up with a more profound explanation for the anti-male bias claims Jon Del Arroz has been selling online this week: “‘Lit Bait’ and preferences/discrimination in genre literature”.

Because the artistic preferences of SF&F editors go way beyond a possible gender bias (which I’m sure exists in some places.) You could be a woman of color with an African-Asian name and a card-carrying member of the Communist Party that if you write a certain type of story, it will be ignored. If it gives off just a whiff of testosterone or sounds like an action-packed adventure yarn with a preference for honest and unironic drama and fun, without any pretense of being “mature,” it won’t be accepted. After all, they have an artistic image to maintain. They can’t just publish any pulpy trash!

And here’s where the feminine aspect comes into play. Obviously, women write all sort of stories, but there is a specific female subset that seems to be especially apt at writing the sort of sentimental Literary Bait, dripping with status anxiety and cheap progressive performances, that routinely gets awarded. It happens at all levels, from school contests to international literary awards. Call it “discrimination” or simply “preferences,” but it’s there.

(7) CAN YOU SAY, “ECOLOGICAL DISASTER”? I KNEW YOU COULD. The more I hear about these hippo books, the more intriguing they become. The Barnes & Noble Sci-Fic & Fantasy Blog’s Martin Cahill gives Sarah Gailey’s latest two tusks up: “The Hippo Mayhem Continues in Taste of Marrow.

Earlier this year, Sarah Gailey treated us to a book that made the phrase “alternate history western hippo caper” part of the vernacular. River of Teeth is a fun, nuanced tale of an alternate 19th century United States in which hippopotami were introduced into the environment to make up for a livestock shortage and soon overran their boundaries (something that really almost happened, save for a fateful vote in Congress).  It’s a novella chock full of what we love in a debut: memorable prose, a lush setting, precise worldbuilding, and a cast of diverse characters trying their best to pull off a caper, even with the odds against them.

If River of Teeth asked why and how this hippo-hunting posse formed up, sequel Taste of Marrow asks a different question: why do they stay together? Especially with the caper is in shambles, a key member of the crew dead, and another presumed dead at the hands of a pregnant assassin?

Several weeks after River of Teeth, the feral hippos once penned into the Mississippi have been let loose, and Archie and Houndstooth are fleeing to parts left un-feraled.

(8) WEIN REMEMBRANCE. NPR’s Glen Weldon paid tribute to the late Lein Wein on Morning Edition: “Comic Book Legend Len Wein Dies At 69”.

GLEN WELDON, BYLINE: Len Wein wrote and edited the adventures of many well-known superheroes over the course of his career – your Batmans, your Hulks. But he created Wolverine with artists John Romita Sr. and Herb Trimpe. Hugh Jackman played him on screen for years. With his extendible, razor-sharp, adamantium claws, he isn’t much of a talker.

(SOUNDBITE OF SCREAMING)

WELDON: He’s more of a grunter, and slasher and stabber.

(SOUNDBITE OF SLASHING)

WELDON: Wolverine was an innovative superhero in several ways. He was hotheaded. He was hyperviolent. He was Canadian. Most importantly, he was an antihero, one of an emerging breed of characters who strained against the good-guy-versus-bad-guy formula of old-school comics. As Wein explained in the 2016 PBS documentary, you couldn’t pin the guy down.

(9) TODAY’S DAY

Video Games Day

History of Video Games Day

The history of Video Games Day is really the history of the video game, and that history goes back much farther than most people imagine. The first game ever created is often thought to be Bertie the Brain, an artificial intelligence designed to play Tic-Tac-Toe. Considering that Bertie was a 4 meter high machine built on vacuum tube technology, you can imagine it didn’t get out much, in fact, it was disassembled after the Canadian National Exhibition it was revealed at, and never rebuilt. A year later a computer was built called Nimrod, Nimrod was a computer built and displayed at the Festival of Britain in 1951 and designed to play a game called Nim.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 12, 1958 The Blob premiered.
  • September 12, 1993 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman premiered on the small screen.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY POET

  • Born September 12, 1942 – Marge Simon, Grand Master of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association.

(12) HURRICANE HARVEY FALLOUT. The 100 Year Starship Symposium that was scheduled for this weekend in Santa Monica has been postponed til next year.

While we were busily and excitedly preparing for the debut of the NEXUS 2017 event in Santa Monica this month, Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, the administrative, programming and operational headquarters of 100 Year Starship (100YSS).

As you know from all the news reporting, Hurricane Harvey effectively stopped Houston business, transportation, commerce and private activities at homes for five days or more.  All aspects of the work on NEXUS was severely disrupted.  And though the skies are clear in Houston now, the problems of catching up in the face of clean-up and remediation of this natural disaster — currently called the most severe in U.S. history – continue.  We tried diligently, but it has been impossible to overcome Harvey’s impact.

The NEXUS event team huddled and decided to postpone NEXUS so that it will be the type of wildly transformational, engaging and magical event planned.

Space. Radical. Vital. Down to Earth.

We are working to reschedule NEXUS for the first quarter of 2018 and should have new dates shortly.

However, one of the weekend’s scheduled events will still take place —

The 25 Strong! Celebration under the Space Shuttle Endeavour at the Oschin Pavilion of the California Science Center will take place in Los Angeles on Friday, September 15 as originally scheduled since most of the planning and logistics activities were handled there.  If you had planned to attend, are local or have safe travel plans, then please join us.

Patrick S. Tomlinson will be hosting 25 Strong.

(13) LAWS WERE BROKEN. In “Still A Harsh Mistress – Andy Weir: Artemis” at Spekulatív Zóna, Bence Pintér reviews the new novel by the author of The Martian.

Nevertheless, Jazz needs money. Very, very much. And that’s the point when one of her old clients, a Norwegian billionaire businessman comes up with a plan. It is complicated, but it’s a piece of cake for a woman as talented as Jazz. The job pays a lot of money. It is also illegal as hell. And as it turns out, it can really affect the future of Artemis. By the way: why everyone is suddenly crazy about the failing aluminium industry?

The start is a bit bumpy, but after we learn more about Jazz and her ways, the novel shifts to full throttle. The elements are almost the same as in The Martian: a lot of fun in the narration by the badass protagonist and loads of Moon-science instead of Mars-science. Also with some sparkling dialogues and one-liners, the Brazilian mafia, and a collection of misfit friends of Jazz. Jazz is doing a lot of illegal stuff, so forget about the heroism of Mark Watney. And also say goodbye to space potatoes: all you got in exchange is algae-based food called Gunk, which is awful by all accounts.

(14) 19TH-CENTURY RESISTANCE LEADER. GF Willmetts of SFCrowsnest has some iconoclastic things to say about “The Forgotten Genius Of Oliver Heaviside by Basil Mahon (book review)”.

Much of the formulas and his science, especially his legacy, are in the footnotes at the back of the book. It would have made more sense to have incorporated much of this into the main contents of the book. If readers couldn’t understand it, they can easily skip it but placing in notes brings it to secondary importance. I think even Heaviside would agree his maths is more important than his life.

(15) NOTE FROM THE DEAN. Crooked Timber’s John Holbo helps you visualize what happens when “Robert Heinlein writes letters to editors and librarians”.

Enough Lovecraft! Robert Heinlein! I’m reading Innocent Experiments:Childhood and the Culture of Popular Science in the United States, by Rebecca Onion. Chapter 4, “Space Cadets and Rocket Boys: Policing the Masculinity of Scientific Enthusiasms” has quite a bit of good stuff on Heinlein – well it would have to, wouldn’t it? If you’ve read some Heinlein you kind of know what Heinlein is like. But there’s good stuff here about his exchanges with editors. The guy was one serious SJW, insisting on his minority quotas. Of course, he always manages to make it weird in his cosmopolitan-but-All-American, messianic-rationalist-masculinist libertarian-disciplinarian anti-authoritarian-but-in-an-authoritarian-way way.

(16) GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY GAINS RECRUIT. Marvel says you can expect to see a familiar face in an unfamiliar space when the comic’s next issue appears.

The Guardians have been tasked with some wacky and big adventures while doing the Grandmaster’s bidding, which includes stealing from The Collector – and Star-Lord even accidently destroyed one of his favorite mix-tapes. Now, as they prepare for their Legacy arc THE INFINITY QUEST, they’ll have to team up with the group that has been on their tails – the Nova Corps – as well as one ex-Avenger if they want to keep the universe safe.

“We’re excited to have an Avenger joining the ranks of the Guardians…or is it the Nova Corps? Or both? Oh, you’ll see,” teased editor Jordan D. White. “Just know, he beat out some stiff competition, as you can tell by that cover of issue #12!”

Who exactly is this Avenger? One of the five Marvel superstars on this cover should give you a hint…

(17) HWA ANTHOLOGY. The Horror Writers Association’s Haunted Nights will be released October 3:

Sixteen never-before-published chilling tales that explore every aspect of our darkest holiday, Halloween, co-edited by Ellen Datlow, one of the most successful and respected genre editors, and Lisa Morton, a leading authority on Halloween.

In addition to stories about scheming jack-o’-lanterns, vengeful ghosts, otherworldly changelings, disturbingly realistic haunted attractions, masks that cover terrifying faces, murderous urban legends, parties gone bad, cult Halloween movies, and trick or treating in the future, Haunted Nights also offers terrifying and mind-bending explorations of related holidays like All Souls’ Day, Dia de los Muertos, and Devil’s Night.

  • “With Graveyard Weeds and Wolfbane Seeds” by Seanan McGuire
  • “Dirtmouth” by Stephen Graham Jones”
  • “A Small Taste of the Old Countr” by Jonathan Maberry
  • “Wick’s End” by Joanna Parypinski
  • “The Seventeen Year Itch” by Garth Nix
  • “A Flicker of Light on Devil’s Night” by Kate Jonez
  • “Witch-Hazel” by Jeffrey Ford
  • “Nos Galen Gaeaf” by Kelley Armstrong
  • “We’re Never Inviting Amber Again” by S. P. Miskowski
  • “Sisters” by Brian Evenson
  • “All Through the Night” by Elise Forier Edie
  • “A Kingdom of Sugar Skulls and Marigolds” by Eric J. Guignard
  • “The Turn” by Paul Kane
  • “Jack” by Pat Cadigan
  • “Lost in the Dark” by John Langan
  • “The First Lunar Halloween” by John R. Little

(18) NOPE. Madeleine E. Robins explains “No, I Won’t Put You in My Book” at Book View Café.

I have a lot of friends who tuckerize, or even kill off people who have hurt them in their fiction. Sometimes they auction off  naming for a character for charity. Sometimes a friend just works his/her way into a story. I found myself a member of the NYPD a few years ago, which was kind of interesting. I have nothing against having real-world names or real-world people showing up in fiction; I sometimes find it distracting, if it’s a real-world name or person I personally know, but that’s not enough reason to demand a practice be stopped. I don’t kill off my enemies (wait, I have enemies?) or exes in my work, but again–that’s me.

(19) CAT HERDERS. SJW symbols survive Irma: “Hurricane Irma: Rare animals survive devastating storm”.

As Hurricane Irma cut a devastating path through the Florida Keys islands, a colony of six-toed cats appears to have survived without a scratch.

The furry felines, descended from a pet owned by Ernest Hemingway, ignored orders to evacuate as the winds swept through the writer’s historic house.

Endangered deer native to the islands also appear to have survived the storm.

Florida Keys and western parts of the state bore the brunt of Irma in the US, with winds of up to 120mph (192km/h).

“Save the cats. Get all the cats in the car and take off!” the late Mr Hemingway’s granddaughter, Mariel, urged in a video posted on Friday.

Staff responsible for maintaining the Hemingway Home Museum in Key West, Florida, chose to ride out the storm over the weekend in the property with 54 of their feline friends.

(20) SJW CREDENTIALS – ALL ABOARD! Unfortunately I can’t get my computer to pick up an excerpt from “What It’s Like to Ride Japan’s Cat Café Train” at Atlas Obscura. You’ll love the photos.

(21) ALWAYS NEWS TO SOMEONE. To make up for it, I will run another SJW Credential story I missed when it came out in 2016: Seanan McGuire and the TSA.

(22) SCARES MORE THAN CROWS. “Giant Star Wars AT-AT model built in front garden” – video at the link.

A man has built a giant Star Wars model in his front garden.

The 20ft (6m) replica AT-AT – a combat vehicle in the Star Wars films – was built by Ian Mockett, 54, at his home in Harpole, Northamptonshire.

It took him and his friends a month to make it out of wood for the village’s annual scarecrow festival.

(23) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Burn Out. JJ has anointed this a “strong contender for the DP Short Form Hugo.”

Stella, a space mechanician, has broken down and ended on a desert planet. While she is in despair, a little girl appears out of nowhere. Following the child into a tunnel, in the depths of the planet, she discovers a big cave full of objects that belonged to her, reminding her the dreams she has left behind.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Alan Baumler, Cat Eldridge, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Pixel Scroll 2/13/17 Scroll Me The Pixel Of Alfredo Garcia

(1) DOG DOESN’T BITE MAN. Can you believe it? Someone is not getting sued. His name is Wil Wheaton: “The library for Storytime With Wil just got a little deeper…”

For a few weeks (months?) I’ve been doing this silly and fun thing on Monday nights. I pick a random Choose Your Own Adventure book from my collection, and I read it on my Twitch channel, letting the audience make the choices for me…

So it’s pretty much a regular thing, now, and I seem to have settled upon 6pm Pacific time every Monday, unless there’s a Kings game or I have some other pressing engagement.

Anyway, I always point out that I am not doing this for money, and I don’t mean to infringe on Choose Your Own Adventure’s IP rights or anything like that. I always point out that I’d rather beg forgiveness than ask permission, and I hope that if CYOA ever stumbles upon my thing, they’ll treat it as free marketing and not a thing to throw lawyers at.

So last week, someone from CYOA emailed me … and it turns out a lot of them at the publisher are fans of my work, including my Storytime with Wil thing!! Not only do they not want to sue me to death, she offered to send me a care package, and it arrived today.

See what good things happen when, for a random example, you don’t raise half-a-million dollars on Kickstarter to turn a fan thing into a moneymaker?

(2) FIRST TIME. Jodi Meadows has written an addendum to her post Before She Ignites cover reveal” responding to comments like those made by Justina Ireland (reported in yesterday’s Scroll.)

A few people have mentioned they see this as an important cover, because it has a Black girl in a dress. That’s what I want to talk about. I didn’t realize when the cover was being designed (that’s my privilege), but this is the first time a big publisher has this kind of cover.

It shouldn’t be the first time.

The first time a major publisher designed a YA cover with a Black model in a gown, it should have gone to a Black author.

Again, me not realizing that hadn’t happened yet: that was my white privilege at work.

The fact that mine came first is a symptom of the problems in publishing, and who publishing is designed to work for. By the time I knew what was at stake with this cover and the timing, the model had already been hired and her photos taken. At that point, changing the cover would have meant telling a Black model that she couldn’t be on my cover because she’s Black.

I hope it’s obvious why I wouldn’t do that.

Dhonielle Clayton told me I should say all this upfront, but I resisted because I couldn’t think of a way to do that without seeming preemptively defensive or like I wanted a pat on the back. So I just didn’t talk about it. Now I see that was the wrong decision, because this hurts people. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.

Meadows also discusses a soon-to-be-published YA novel by a black author that will feature such a cover.

Some of the names involved in the Meadows story are also sources for Everdeen Mason’s recent Washington Post article, “There’s a new way for novelists to sound authentic. But at what cost?”, which reports how publishers are hiring “sensitivity readers… who, for a nominal fee, will scan a book for racist, sexist, or other offensive content.”  From Mason’s article, it appears these readers are used most often for YA fantasy novels.

For authors looking for sensitivity readers beyond their fan base there is the Writing in the Margins database, a resource of about 125 readers created by Justina Ireland, author of the YA books “Vengeance Bound” and “Promise of Shadows.” Ireland started the directory last year after hearing other authors at a writing retreat discuss the difficulties in finding people of different backgrounds to read a manuscript and give feedback about such, well, sensitive matters.

One reader for hire in Ireland’s database is Dhonielle Clayton, a librarian and writer based in New York. Clayton reviews two manuscripts per month, going line by line to look at diction, dialogue and plot. Clayton says she analyzes the authenticity of the characters and scenes, then points writers to where they can do more research to improve their work.

Clayton, who is black, sees her role as a vital one. “Books for me are supposed to be vehicles for pleasure, they’re supposed to be escapist and fun,” she says. They’re not supposed to be a place where readers “encounter harmful versions” and stereotypes of people like them.

(3) WHO’S SECOND? The “America First, <yourcountry/etc here> Second” meme (explained in this CNN news segment) has inspired at least two fannish responses –

  • Mordor Second

  • Mars Second

(4) HE’S ON THE FRONT. Cool cover by Tom Gauld for the Guardian Review:

(5) ROUNDTABLE REMOVED. Apex Magazine has pulled the “Intersectional SFF Round Table” that Mia Sereno (Likhain) protested in an open letter to the editors quoted in yesterday’s Scroll. Jason Sizemore passed responsibility to those who packaged the roundtable, who also are “Likhain’s publisher” (bolded in the original as shown).

…One correction I need to make regarding Likhain’s email since this is a discussion she chose to take public rather than giving Apex a chance to respond. She says: “It is not your choice to publish RH that I find appalling, but your specific choice to ask her to contribute to a roundtable on, of all things, intersectionality.”

This is not true. Djibril and Rivqa, Likhain’s publisher, invited Benjanun to be on the round table. The round table contains four other people with greater wisdom on what is and is not appropriate when it comes to intersectionality than I will ever possess: Cassandra Khaw, Vajra Chandrasekera, Miguel Flores Uribe, and Rivqa Rafael. Since they participated in the discussion I could only assume they had no issue including Benjanun. Djibril had no issue with Benjanun. Therefore, I felt it was okay to move forward.

In consideration to the concerns expressed by Likhain’s public post, our readers, and the counsel of several friends in the genre community, I have decided to remove the round table from our website….

(6) WHAT WATCH? James Gleick asks Guardian readers “Do we still need Doctor Who? Time travel in the internet age?”

Two generations of TV watchers have been schooled in temporal paradox by Doctor Who, and when one Doctor gives way to the next, as will happen in the next series, the reincarnation generates almost as much speculation as the royal line of succession. Who will follow Peter Capaldi? She will be a Time Lord, after all.

Nor does time travel belong solely to popular culture. The time-travel meme is pervasive. Neuroscientists investigate “mental time travel”, more solemnly known as “chronesthesia”. Scholars can hardly broach the metaphysics of change and causality without discussing time travel and its paradoxes. Time travel forces its way into philosophy and influences modern physics.

How strange, then, to realise that the concept is barely a century old. The term first occurs in English in 1914 – a back-formation from HG Wells’s The Time Machine (1895). Somehow humanity got by for thousands of years without asking, what if I could travel into the future? What would the world be like? What if I could travel into the past – could I change history?

(7) REVISITING AN OLD FAVORITE. Cat Rambo walks the razor’s edge between a fisking and a fond reading of the Doc Savage novel Quest of Qui in her latest blog post.

Cassy, in the process of shedding a box of Doc Savage novels, found out I loved them and passed them along. I remember Doc and his men fondly; while at my grandparents for a Kansas summer when I was twelve or thirteen, I found my uncle’s old books, which included a pretty complete run of the Bantam reprints and reveled in them for years to come.

I’m going back and rereading while making notes because I loved and still love these books; my hope is that I’ll start to notice some patterns as I move through the books and that I’ll be able to talk about pulp tropes, gender assumptions, reading fiction aimed at a gender other than your own, and writerly techniques in an entertaining and (maybe) useful way….

You’d think Doc would train himself out of that tell, but even the Man of Bronze has limits. An alarm clock rings and a knife appears from nowhere and hits Doc in the back. At this point, we discover that he habitually wears a fine chainmail undergarment. The material of the undergarment isn’t specified. Neither Renny nor Doc can figure out where the knife came from; at least, Renny can’t. Doc’s a cagey dude and you’re never really sure what he knows and what he doesn’t. The knife is an ancient Viking relic.

The phone rings; it’s another of Doc’s men, Monk, aka Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Blodgett Mayfair (“Only a few inches over five feet tall and yet over 260 pounds. His brutish exterior concealed the mind of a great scientist,” the frontispiece helpfully informs us) What’s new, pussycat, he asks Doc, only not in those words. An alarm clock just rang in my office and then there was a knife out of nowhere, Doc retorts. Of course the phone goes dead at this point….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • February 13, 1923 – Chuck Yeager, the first man to travel faster than the speed of sound. Born in Myra, West Virginia.

(9) AVOID THE KISS OF DEATH. Leading up to Valentine’s Day, the Horror Writers Association blog presents Mac Child’s latest piece of writing advice, “Love is a Disease: Prevent the Romantic Storyline from Strangling the Scary”.

First, a caveat: There’s nothing wrong with paranormal romance; it’s simply a different genre from horror (and the two genres frequently have a substantial overlap in readers). A romantic storyline, in and of itself, is not a terrible thing at all. This argument is by no means a condemnation of love and the readers who love it.

Romantic fiction uses a different kind of tension—will the protagonist suffer heartbreak? Will the couple get together? End up together?—than the frequently external threats and emphasis on surviving found in horror. In a horror, too much ink spilled about love ends up replacing one tension with another, pulling focus away from whatever monster, human or not, is menacing your hapless heroes.

(10) NEXT CONRUNNER PLEASE. Steve Cooper discussed the latest Conrunner on Facebook and announced he and Alice Lawson will be organizing Conrunner 5.

…We even have a provisional theme – “new con-runners” and with that in mind Conrunner 5 will have a Y.A membership category for those who will be under 40. And we hope to provide bursaries to help members who are relatively new to con-running. We’ve already spoken with the chair of INNOMINATE who will try to find some money for this after pass-along to follow on from the generous donation by Satellite 4 to Conrunner 4. We’ll also be following this up with Follycon and the 2019 Eastercon. There will also be a 2nd Pete Weston memorial scholarship – but how that will be targeted has not yet been fixed.

But Alice and I don’t “Run” Conrunner – we provide the back-bone for others to put on a con-running programme. Claire [Brialey] & Mark [Plummer] did a stirling job this year. Now it could be your turn.

…But let me end by thanking the 70 con-runners who came to Nottingham, and participated in the convention especially the two thirds of members we managed to get on panels. (Next time join earlier and we’ll try and get that closer to 100%). We hope you had an enjoyable and instructive weekend and look forward to seeing you all and many others at Conrunner 5

(11) SELECTIVE EXCERPTS. That’s what Dave Freer always calls these representative quotes, but today I’m really doing it. Plucked from his typical stew of complaints against Puppy-kickers, Scalzi, Tor, and David Gerrold (as well as a big plug for Jon Del Arroz based on taking his story at face value) comes this spot-on statement about the movie Starship Troopers – “Truth in Advertising” at Mad Genius Club.

The other relevant aspect is you shouldn’t be just selling once. The key to success as an author is building a customer base, building a name. Now over on Tor.com they were busy displaying how not to understand this. You see –according to the genius on Tor.com (I hope he runs marketing for the company) – Paul Verhoeven’s STARSHIP TROOPERS was a work of genius satirically parodying that nasty evil Robert A Heinlein that the modern literati of sf love to hate.

(shrug) I don’t care if you agree, or disagree, adore the movie or hate it… the problem is one the writer of the article seems blind to, and yet, when you think about it, is behind almost all the adverse reaction the movie received.

…If Paul Verhoeven had called the movie I HATE HEINLEIN, or HUMAN FASCISTS KILL INNOCENT BUGS the same people now calling it ‘brilliant satire’ would still have loved it… (possibly less, because they enjoyed watching the Heinlein fans get furious), but it would have engendered almost no disparagement. It would also have lost a huge volume of sales to the suckers who believed the advertised name.

(12) LIFE INTERRUPTED. Is it dead or not? There’s a thematically appropriate question for a magazine about ghoulish movies, Fangoria, especially now with there being disputed claims that the magazine has produced its last print issue. Former editor-in-chief Ken W. Hanley announced on Twitter –

Today Fangoria officialdom issued a statement admitting that print publication has been “interrupted” but they hope to make a comeback –

These words are in no way excuses, more the bitter truth about the current circumstances involving our print publication and interruption of production. With time and continued patience from our fans, writers, artists and subscribers we will be working endlessly to make good on any funds owed for magazines and/or articles written. In the meantime, we’ll continue trying to conquer the uphill battle to restore our print issues that our fans urgently long for.

(13) JOCULARITY. Adam Rakunas and Patrick S. Tomlinson have a plan for boosting author revenue – let’s see if this starts trending.

[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Lex Berman, Daniel Dern, Paul Weimer, John King Tarpinian, and an untipped hat for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Pixel Scroll 12/7/16 While Pixels Watched Their Scrolls By Night

(1) DAMN THE SPOILERS, FULL SPEED AHEAD. Scott Timberg writes for Salon on “The art of ‘Archer’: ‘The arc of the character of Archer is really interesting’”. I’m told there are spoilers – but I rarely watch Archer so I read the profile anyway….

Oh, yeah, Archer’s favorite movie is what again?

He loves “Gator” and also “Smokey and the Bandit.” And there are references to “Deliverance” and “Hooper,” all of them.

I took this show originally as a kind of guilty pleasure for other retro straight guys who like single-malt scotch and ’50s Playboy and “Man Men.” But I’ve found gay men and left-leaning feminist women who love “Archer,” too.

It makes me wonder: Is this a show that heroizes Sterling Archer as the coolest cat ever or is it somehow a critique of toxic masculinity? Is he a sleek, Bond-like hero or a cross between a frat boy, a hedge fund asshole and a lacrosse bro?

I think it’s all of that. But I also think it’s up to each individual viewer; I would never tell anybody what to think about it. What I personally love about it is that it shows all sides of Archer, this character. On one hand, he definitely fits the image of the lacrosse bro. And then he has a moment where he says, “Pam, I think you’re my best friend.” There’s a real heart to this person.

He’s not a flat character at all. He definitely has blind spots, you know? And he definitely pretends to have blind spots. There’s a description of him as “willfully obtuse,” which I think is quite apt.

(2) PARALLAX VIEWS OF THE NEWS. “Cassini sends back intriguing pictures of Saturn from new ring-grazing orbit” says the Los Angeles Times.

Cassini’s cameras captured the latest images of the giant hexagon on Dec. 2 and 3, a few days after the spacecraft first began its new orbit on Nov. 30. Each side of that six-sided figure is about as wide as Earth. At the center, a giant storm swirls on the north pole. It’s a surprising structure, surrounded by Saturn’s smoother rings, and scientists have long wondered how it maintains its shape. (Saturn’s larger cousin, Jupiter, has no such shape at its northern pole.)

“Forget the Great Red Spot – Saturn has a hexagonal storm” reports the BBC. (Both articles have the same newly-released photos.)

The destructive ending being planned for Cassini is a result of the spacecraft having nearly exhausted its fuel.

But Nasa is also concerned about the small, yet important possibility that the probe will crash into one of Saturn’s moons at some point in the future.

Given that some of these bodies, such as Enceladus, are potential targets in the search for extra-terrestrial life, it has the potential to contaminate these bodies with terrestrial microbes borne on Cassini.

Starting from April, Cassini will begin its grand finale, in which it will make the first of 22 dives through the 2,400km gap between the planet and its innermost ring.

The spacecraft will make its final plunge into the atmosphere of Saturn on 15 September.

(3) FUND APPEAL. Katherine Kerr needs to rebuild her career so she can afford her husband’s care. More details on her Patreon site.

Yes, my author photo there looks a little grim. Here’s why. Six years ago, my much-loved husband developed early-onset Alzheimer’s dementia.  As you can probably guess, this turned our lives upside-down.  My writing career first faltered, then ground to a halt while I desperately tried to take care of him myself.  Didn’t work — we now have a full-time live-in caregiver while I try to get my writing back on track.  Our primary caregiver, VJ, is wonderful but he isn’t cheap, just worth every penny….

What I want to do is get my writing career back on track. I have a contract for a new book in the Deverry universe.  I also want to write more short fiction. In the meantime, however, those bills make it hard to concentrate.  I spend about $300 a week on food, basics, and utilities, plus even more on medical expenses. My current income falls short.  Any help I can get is very very welcome. And thank you all very much.

(4) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #11. The eleventh of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for a flash fiction story from Stephanie Burgis, written specifically for the auction winner.

Today’s auction is for a brand new flash-fiction story written for you. That’s right, author Stephanie Burgis will write a story for the winner of the auction about any of the characters from her published novels – the winner gets to choose! You’ll let her know which character should be the protagonist, and Burgis will write it within a month of getting the commission. You can find all of her published works on her website.

Burgis reserves the right to share it with other readers later, but it will belong to the winner alone for the first month after she sends it to you.

(5) SWEDISH SF ARTIST LAUNCHES KICKSTARTER. There’s a new Kickstarter campaign for an RPG based on Simon Stålenhag’s art, Tales from the Loop: Roleplaying in the 80s that never was”.

In 1954, the Swedish government ordered the construction of the world’s largest particle accelerator. The facility was complete in 1969, located deep below the pastoral countryside of Mälaröarna. The local population called this marvel of technology The Loop.

Acclaimed scifi artist Simon Stålenhag’s paintings of Swedish 1980s suburbia, populated by fantastic machines and strange beasts, have spread like wildfire on the Internet. Stålenhag’s portrayal of a childhood against a backdrop of old Volvo cars and coveralls, combined with strange and mystical machines, creates a unique atmosphere that is both instantly recognizable and utterly alien.

Now, for the first time, YOU will get the chance to step into the amazing world of the Loop. With your help, we will be able to create a beautiful printed RPG book about the Tales from the Loop.

This game is our third international RPG, after the critically acclaimed Mutant: Year Zero and Coriolis – The Third Horizon. The lead writer is the seasoned Swedish game writer Nils Hintze, backed up by the entire Free League team who handle project management, editing, and graphic design.

(6) REPURPOSED HISTORY. The election of Donald Trump has made some people revise the history of the Puppy Wars of 2015 – can no one accurately remember what happened only last year? – to furnish a heroic example for the current resistance narrative. See — “Patrick S. Tomlinson Wants YOU To Fight The Power”.

Eventually, the intractable nature of the invaders became clear and a new strategy of opposition and containment emerged. To countermand the exploitation of the nomination rules slate voting represented, the equally devious, yet totally legitimate under the same rules, voting for “No Award” became the marching orders for the faithful.

And it worked. With a clear plan in place, our superior numbers and organizational skills kicked in and slapped the puppies’ poisoned pills out of five categories, doubling the number of times No Award had been given in the Hugo’s entire seventy-three-year history up to that point. I was sitting in the audience for the ceremony. It was electric.

And despite their whining in the aftermath about “burning down our own awards” the attack had been largely turned back. The very next year, puppy influence over the nominations had already begun to ebb, with fewer categories subject to full slating takeovers and fewer No Awards handed out as a result. More women and POC won major awards. And by next year, changes to the rules will see the threat recede even further in the future.

That is how in two short years we beat back the puppies, and that is the model we have to use now that the same sickness has metastasized onto our society, indeed all of Western Civilization. It’s easy to forget now, but the facts are the forces of fascism and intolerance are exactly like the hordes of GamerGate and the Puppies. They are loud, angry, aggressive, shameless, and without scruples.

But they are also a clear minority. As of this writing, more than two point three million more Americans had voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. More Americans voted for Democratic Senators. More Americans voted for Democratic Representatives in the House. It is only through exploitation of the rules in violation of the spirit of American democratic ideals that the forces of intolerance and bigotry maintain their majorities. This has been true for more than a decade. This makes them vulnerable to our superior numbers should we have the foresight and resolve to set aside our petty bickering and unify in an organized fashion and agree to a coherent plan of counterattack.

(7) POLISH FANZINE. For Eurocon this year the publishers of the Polish fanzine Smokopolitan produced an English-language edition, which includes two articles about fandom. You can download a .mobi or .pdf version here.

We proudly present our special English issue, created for Eurocon 2016 in Barcelona. Inside you will find short stories by, among others, Pawe? Majka, Andrzej Pilipiuk and Micha? Cholewa, as well as essays about many branches of speculative fiction in Poland

(8) GLENN IN HOSPITAL. Former astronaut and U.S. senator John Glenn reportedly has been hospitalized for the past week.

Hank Wilson with Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs said Wednesday that the 95-year-old Glenn is at the James Cancer Hospital, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he has cancer.

Wilson said he didn’t have other information about Glenn’s condition, illness or prognosis.

Glenn apologized for his poor eyesight this year at the renaming of Columbus’ airport after him. He said then he’d lost some of his eyesight because of macular degeneration and a small stroke. Glenn had a heart valve replacement in 2014.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 7, 1925 – Future five-time Olympic gold medalist and movie Tarzan Johnny Weissmuller set a world record in 150-yard free-style swimming.
  • December 7, 1945 House of Dracula shown for the first time. The film features four different actors in the role of Frankenstein’s Monster: Glenn Strange, Boris Karloff (via footage from The Bride of Frankenstein), Lon Chaney Jr. and his stunt double, Eddie Parker (via footage from The Ghost of Frankenstein).

house-of-dracula

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

(11) ANOTHER BEST OF THE YEAR LIST. The list of 44 books in “NPR’s Best SFF of 2016” has “Something to outrage (or at least annoy) almost everyone, I expect….,” promises Chip Hitchcock.

(12) AMAZING STORIES, THE MAGAZINE. Today Amazing Stories highlights “’The Great Milo’ by David Gerrold”, one of the stories by established pros included in its issue along with winning stories from its Gernsback Writing Contest. The tag from Gerrold’s story is —

Never piss off a man who buys ink by the barrel.

(13) COMING TO A TBR PILE NEAR YOU. Nancy Palmer and Bertie MacAvoy agree – they loved Craig Russell’s Fragment.

Nancy Palmer reviewed it at her website.

…I ended up reading the whole thing, compulsively. It’s a slender volume. The story, however, is a big one.

Sometimes what’s scary about a thriller is its plausibility. One of the things speculative fiction writers do best is tell the truth sideways.  And there’s a lot of truth here. Craig Russell’s near future ecological and political world are a little too easy to imagine as reality. It was a compelling, but uncomfortable read: I found myself reading faster as the story progressed, hoping there might be some way to avert disaster. Maybe something in the way of hope, that might be carried past the pages of the book and into the outer world. The hubris and political manipulation in Fragment: yes, there are real-world analogs. Seeing the potential outcome as spelled out in this novel? Dread inducing. But I couldn’t look away.

And Bertie MacAvoy praises it, too:

I just loved Craig Russell’s first novel, Black Bottle Man, and told him so, although I didn’t know the man at all.  It was an old-fashioned sort of novel, very much in control, and I found it fantastically well written.  May others have agreed, if you look at the number of awards it received for a debut novelist.  I awaited his second novel eagerly.

Not only  is it just as good, or better, but it is wildly unconventional, even for these most unconventional S.F. days, and it caught me so firmly I wasn’t even aware of the tricks he was playing on the reader until the book was 65% read. I love being tricked, when it is done well.  (Done poorly, however, of course, I just feel let down.)

It strides the border between intricate Science Fiction and an almost Kafka-esque style.  And doesn’t break the rules of either.  That is the ultimate trick.

So I advise all and sundry to read ‘fragment’.  You will be the better for it.  And, it’s quite a thrill-ride.

(14) CLIPPING SERVICE. “How The Internet Unleashed a Burst of Cartooning Creativity” is a piece on Medium.com that was originally published in The Economist in 2012 (so it’s not behind the Economist paywall).  Randall Munroe is prominently featured, but Kate Beaton and Zach Weiner are also interviewed. Also of interest is the section on Arab cartoonists who would be censored if they were restricted to newspapers but are freer to express themselves on the Net.

Triumph of the nerds

The decline of newspapers and the rise of the internet have broken that system. Newspapers no longer have the money to pay big bucks to cartoonists, and the web means anybody can get published. Cartoonists who want to make their name no longer send sketches to syndicates or approach newspapers: they simply set up websites and spread the word on Twitter and Facebook. Randall Munroe, the creator of “XKCD”, left a job at NASA to write his stick men strip, full of science and technology jokes (see above and below). Kate Beaton, a Canadian artist who draws “Hark, A Vagrant”, sketched her cartoons between shifts while working in a museum. Matthew Inman created his comic “The Oatmeal” by accident while trying to promote a dating website he built to escape his job as a computer coder.

The typical format for a web comic was established a decade or more ago, says Zach Weiner, the writer of “Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal”, or “SMBC” (below). It has not changed much since. Most cartoonists update on a regular basis?—?daily, or every other day?—?and run in sequence. “I think that’s purely because that’s what the old newspapers used to do,” says Mr Weiner. But whereas many newspaper comics tried to appeal to as many people as possible, often with lame, fairly universal jokes, online cartoonists are free to be experimental, in both content and form.

(15) SFFSFF. The annual Science Fiction + Fantasy Short Film Festival (SFFSFF) at Seattle’s MoPOP has announced its program selections for the January 28, 2017 event. From Seattle Seahawks battling giant monsters through the city’s streets to a mind-altering cell phone app with unintended consequences, this year’s lineup of 23 films is presented in two packages with a 30-minute intermission between sessions and concludes with an awards ceremony. Ticket information and further details at the linked site.

(16) SCOUTING REPORT. This Inverse article – “11 Science Fiction Books That Will Define 2017” includes the official title and cover for book #3 in Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy.

Science fiction books have always looked toward the future through both creative speculation and adventurous escapism. After the 2016 Presidential Election, science fiction authors are poised to be more influential than ever before.

Luckily for readers, sci-fi authors are known to churn out their books like rabbits, creating a never-ending stream of great works. In 2017, we’ll see the continuation of several acclaimed book series, but will also have plenty of impressive standalone science fiction, too. Below is a list of eleven books that are slated for release in 2017 that will define science fiction in the upcoming year. Keep in mind these dates can be finicky, and that they can change at warp speed. But, otherwise, happy reading to your future self!

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, James Davis Nicoll, John King Tarpinian, Dawn “No Middle Name” Incognito, J(“No Middle Initial”)J, Hampus Eckerman, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anthony.]

Pixel Scroll 10/11 Slaughterhouse Hive

(1) C. E. Murphy is “home from Octocon” with several good stories.

I brought about eight pounds of fudge to the con, and passed it out to the attendees of the Golden Blasters film festival on Friday night. Probably the best two bits of that were saying to people, “If you’re allergic to anything except gluten you can’t eat this, but it’s gluten-free,” and having one woman LIGHT UP when she was told it was gluten-free and safe for her to eat. (Eggs, dairy, corn, nuts: basically all those things go into my fudge unless I’m making Special Batches.) The other best bit was handing a box of vanilla-and-cranberry fudge over to my friend (and guest of honour!) Maura McHugh, who doesn’t like chocolate and who put on an expression of Noble Acceptance of Not Getting Fudge when I came through waving the batch of chocolate fudge. But I was prepared for her, and she shrieked and leapt up and hugged me. 🙂

(2) A six-part Frankenstein horror series starring Game of Thrones actor Sean Bean has been acquired by A&E for broadcast in the U.S., according to Variety.

The Frankenstein Chronicles was created by British production house ITV, and features six hour-long episodes set in 1827 London. Bean plays inspector John Marlott, on a search for a murderer who leaves behind a trail of mutilated body parts which have been assembled into complete human forms.

Set in 19th century London, the show will include plenty of gas lamps, horses, and opium — a bust of an opium den is reportedly how Bean’s character stumbles upon the trail of Dr. Frankenstein, and or his monster, in the first place.

But does Sean Bean survive the first season?

(3) The other day I ran a news item about Dean Wesley Smith, and in his latest post, “Writing workshops: caveat emptor”, Brad R. Torgersen says how much he learned at the Rusch/Smith workshop he attended.

One of the best things my wife and I ever did, was pony up some cash for my first writing workshop. Having endured years and years of rejection letters, by 2008 I was hoping to bust out of a serious slump. My wife asked the question, “What else can we do?” I’d never done workshops before. They were too expensive, and they required too much time away from work and home — especially the king of all science fiction and fantasy workshops, Clarion. But it was precisely because I’d never done a workshop before, that my wife and I determined to get me to one. She asked me which workshop looked best, for a “get your feet wet” event, and I chose the weekend-long Kris and Dean Show being put on in Lincoln City, Oregon, at the eclectic Anchor Inn — by Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith. This was June of 2009. It turned out to be something of a watershed event, for me as an aspiring professional. In two delightfully exhausting days, Kris and Dean ran the table: from matters of craft, to matters of publishing, as well as self-promotion, book-keeping, personal writerly habits, known pitfalls, and of course myths and conventional (false) wisdoms.

I walked away feeling like I’d learned more in one weekend than in all the many hundreds of hours I’d spent reading “How to write books” books.

Torgersen, noting that most people need to be cost-conscious, offers practical advice about how a beginning writer can decide what workshops will meet his or her needs.

(4) Where better to make revelations about Gotham than at this weekend’s New York Comic Con?

Paul Reubens, the actor best known for his iconic role as Pee-Wee Herman, will play The Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot’s father in “Gotham” season two, star Robin Lord Taylor revealed during the show’s panel at New York Comic Con.

“He will be showing up very soon,” Taylor teased, before letting his fan enthusiasm out. “Pee-Wee Herman is playing my dad! What the hell? Oh my god!”

Fittingly, Reubens has already played the role of the Batman villain’s father before — he appeared as Tucker Cobblepot in 1992’s “Batman Returns.”

(5) Another George R.R. Martin work has been optioned for television – “Cinemax Orders SKIN TRADE Script”.

I am very excited to announce the Cinemax (HBO’s sister company) has optioned the television rights to “The Skin Trade,” the offbeat “werewolf noir” novella I penned back in the late 80s. The deal is closed, and Cinemax has ordered the pilot script. This being Hollywood, of course, you never know where things will end… but if they like the script, we’ll shoot a pilot, and if they like that, hey, who knows, maybe we’ll get a series on the air. Which would be very cool. I have always thought there was a TV series (or maybe a feature film) in Willie Flambeaux and Randi Wade….

“The Skin Trade” has had a storied, and complex, publishing history. It was originally written for NIGHT VISION 5, the fifth volume of the prestigious annual horror anthology from the late lamented small press Dark Harvest, where it appeared together with original contributions from Dan Simmons and Stephen King, some stellar company. The novella was very well received, and went on to win that year’s World Fantasy Award.

More recently, the novella was purchased by Mike the Pike Productions, who played a big part in taking the project to Cinemax. To handle the adaptation, script the pilot, and produce the show (should we get a greenlight), we’ve tapped a terrific talented young scriptwriter named KALINDA VAZQUEZ, whose previous credits include work on PRISON BREAK and ONCE UPON A TIME….

(6) Europa SF profiles Science Fiction Studies Special issue On Italian Science Fiction.

Here is the direct link — Science Fiction Studies #126 – Volume 42, Part 2 – July 2015, SPECIAL ISSUE ON ITALIAN SCIENCE FICTION, Edited by Umberto Rossi, Arielle Saiber, and Salvatore Proietti.

(7) Science fiction writer Patrick S. Tomlinson is quoted in the recent Washington Post article “Most gun owners support restrictions. Why aren’t their voices heard?”

Once again, their voices are missing from the debate.

Gun owners who favor tighter restrictions on firearms say they are in the same position after the mass shooting in Oregon as they have been following other rampages — shut out of the argument.

The pattern, they say, is frustrating and familiar: The what-should-be-done discussion pits anti-gun groups against the National Rifle Association and its allies, who are adamantly opposed to any new restrictions on weapons…..

“There’s this perception that people are neatly divided into folks who want an M1A1 Abrams battle tank to drive to work and those who want to melt every last gun and bullet into doorstops,” said Patrick Tomlinson, a science-fiction writer and gun owner in Milwaukee who favors universal background checks and longer waiting periods for gun purchases. “There seems to be no middle there, but I know there is. I’m in it.”

Tomlinson has two novels out with a third on the way, and his short fiction has appeared in anthologies.

(8) Slate blogger Marissa Visci answers the question, “What Does It Mean When a Book is Stamped With the Words ‘Author’s Preferred Text’?”

Sifting through Slate’s mailroom recently, we found a new edition of Neil Gaiman’s first novel, Neverwhere, with three words printed beneath the title on its glossy cover: “author’s preferred text.” It’s not the first time those words have graced a Gaiman cover—you’ll also find them on the 10th-anniversary edition of American Gods. So we wondered: What does this mean? What is an “author’s preferred text?” And what makes one text more preferred than other texts?

It turns out that the “author’s preferred text” is the director’s cut of the literary world, only far less ubiquitous. The definition is, in part, pretty self-explanatory: It’s the version of a particular work that the writer prefers, editorial interference be damned. The phenomenon is not limited to Gaiman, though he may be its most frequent practioner. Stephen King released a mammoth new edition of The Stand, subtitled Complete and Uncut, in 1990, in which he not only restored gargantuan passages that had been cut in the editing process, but moved the story’s time period ahead by a decade….

For Gaiman, the “author’s preferred text” is, in part, a way of restoring some of the text that was lost in translation during its Americanization. One thing that the new edition reinstates is some of the humor that Gaiman claims was eliminated from the initial U.S. version, as he wrote in his intro:

My editor at Avon Books, Jennifer Hershey, was a terrific and perceptive editor; our major disagreement was the jokes. She didn’t like them and was convinced that American readers would not be able to cope with jokes in a book that wasn’t meant solely to be funny.

(9) And Neil Gaiman will be appearing on stage, unencumbered by editors, at the Richard and Karen Carpenter Center in Long Beach on November 14. Details here.

The bestselling and award-winning author—whose notable works include the comic book series The Sandman as well as novels Coraline, Stardust, American Gods, The Graveyard Book, and extends to screenplays, song lyrics, poetry, journalism and multimedia—appears for one inspiring evening!

(10) Efforts to restore an old B-29 to flightworthiness continue to pay off.

Doc is a B-29 Superfortress and one of 1,644 manufactured in Wichita during World War II. Since 1987 when Tony Mazzolini found Doc on sitting and rotting away in the Mojave Desert, plans have been in the works to restore the historic warbird to flying status to serve as a flying museum.

They now have all four engines running.

(11) Honest Trailers – Aladdin has been created to commemorate the movie’s 25th anniversary.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, David K.M. Klaus, Roger Tener, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Dogs With A Blog 8/27

(1) Kate Paulk on Mad Genius Club “Yet Another Hugo Post”

I was going to mine the Intertubes for Nazi quotes that the Puppy-Kickers could have said if they’d been about Puppies or white men rather than Jews, but alas, even in translation Hitler and Goebbels are so much more articulate the comparison would be utterly unfair to the Puppy-Kickers (and remember, these are writers and editors – but the Nazis beat them on all fronts when it comes to articulating points of view. I suppose I should be relieved: pointing and shrieking tends to be rather less than effective as a means of converting the undecided).

Oh, and for those who are wondering? The reason I didn’t use quotes from Mao, Lenin, or Stalin was that an awful lot of Puppy-Kickers would be flattered to be compared to such luminaries of the world’s most lethal ideology.

So, let’s call them for what they are. Nasty, petty, bullying socialists who would fit in just as well with the Nazis as they would with their equally murderous Communist cousins. They even have a racial agenda, and while they’d deny it, they’re so US-centric it’s hilarious (as well as sad).

And what’s even sadder is this pathetic collection of power-hungry little Hitlers have destroyed what was once a genuinely respected award. Whether it can be resurrected by the Campaign to End Puppy-Related Sadness or not, I consider the cause to be worthy.

Anonymous (who else?) in a comment on fail-fandomanon

Oh, dear. I hope the popcorn harvest this year is bountiful; looks like we’ll need it.

Kate Paulk in a comment on “Yet Another Hugo Post”

It’s not Godwin’s law if the comparison is legitimate, Mr Brandt.

(2) Mark Judge on Acculturated – “Political Correctness Puts Science Fiction on Trial”

John C. Wright losing to “No Award” is like the Rolling Stones losing to “No Award” at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s a disgrace.

The blackballing of Wright brings to mind, yet again, the concept of punitive liberalism. The phrase was coined by James Piereson in his brilliant and groundbreaking book, Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism. Punitive liberalism, unlike classic liberalism—which was tolerant, thoughtful, and popular in America during most of the history of science fiction—is a product of post-1960s identity politics, is against free thought, against virile men of action (like the swashbucklers found in a lot of the Sad Puppies’ stories), against sexy ladies in pulp fiction (or anywhere else for that matter), against fun, and focused like a phaser on race, class, and gender.

It’s why John C. Wright, one of the best science fiction writers alive, is not sitting at home polishing his five Hugos.

(3) Sanford Begley on Otherwhere Gazette – “Congratulations to the winner”

The Hugo awards for 2015 are over. The clear winner is Vox “Machiavelli” Day. He pretty much got everything he wanted. He wanted Three Body Problem to win and it did. He wanted the Hugos to No Award everything and it mostly did. He wanted to help the SJWs in general and the powers behind the World Science Fiction Convention to look like screaming idiots and it happened. And he was given so much help that a casual observer has to wonder how many of the people he was destroying were secretly his minions.

Before I go into how thoroughly he won I would like to offer condolences to Laura Mixon, Guardians Of The Galaxy and the others who lost because of his machinations. Yes I said lost. You see, they will be forever tainted by the actions of the body bestowing the award. They will be the winners of the Year of the Asterisk. For those who don’t know it, a vanishingly small body by now, the asterisk is both a sign that they weren’t real winners and a symbol known in SF circles to represent the common asshole. The work they did was certainly deserving of being on the ballot, the way they won will forever brand them as not good enough to win honestly. And the fault lies not with them.  The fault lies in the machinations of a clique of mostly old, mostly white, mostly male morons who could not stand the idea that they were not the all powerful force they thought they were. Well, them and Vox Day.

(4) John Carlton on The Arts Mechanical – “Scalzi And Who’s A Jerk”

He [Scalzi] starts out saying that the puppies acted like jerks.  As if somehow the puppies created a world wide media smear campaign to smear the clique that ran world cons.  Or pressure authors to withdraw their nominations.  Or derided fans who nominated the “wrong books” as “wrong fans.”  The puppies did all that?  Actually no.  That was Scalzi and his friends.

His primary complaint is that the puppies created slate.  He’s all angry about that.  As if this was the first time that anybody had a campaign to nominate books.  As if He, himself had not campaigned to get his stuff nominated.  Or maybe it’s because he wasn’t this year.  Did he really think that he was ENTITLED to award nominations every year?  I guess so. Anyway, Lets look at his list and maybe get a grasp of the truth here.

(5) Tom Knighton – “What Puppies Want From Awards”

Awards should be indicative of quality.  We have maintained that the Hugos haven’t had that for a long time.

You want to know something though?  We can change that perception without anyone having to surrender.

This year, Three Body Problem won for best novel.  It wasn’t on any of the lists, but that was because none of us read it at that time.  However, a number of people on both sides of the divide read it and loved it.  It won not from just anti-puppy support, or puppy support, but from both camps loving the book.

Was that love universal?  No.  No book is universally loved, and 3BP has detractors.  Every book does.

But what matters is that this one book had enough support from two different groups that it won.  It’s proof that this world I dream of, where the good stories win regardless of anything else, can exist.

(6) Jay Swanson – “The Hugos as a Microcosm”

Hugos – How it Could Have Been

My real experience with the Hugos began last Saturday, even if I voted months beforehand (and only on like two things because I was too late to vote on most). So I’d like to address what I saw. I do think it was important, considering how everything had escalated, to send a message that said “It is not OK to hijack the Hugos.” That is a fair statement to make, and the “No Award” handed down as a result was not unfair. It was in how they were handed down that mattered.

It’s important to realize that real people were sitting in that auditorium, their hearts in their throats, their hopes burgeoning that maybe, just maybe, they would win something that night. It’s hard enough not winning an award. It’s doubly so when people applaud the fact that no one won it.

Rather than applaud (of which I’m guilty on a few counts), it would have been more appropriate had I simply nodded quietly in approval. In the same moment, it would have been good to reach out and offer comfort to one of the nominees if they had been nearby. Just to say, “Hey, I realize this sucks, but there’s always next year.”

(7) Jason Clark on Your Nerd Is Showing – “Kicking Puppies: The Promise of Sci-Fi vs. Anti-Inclusivity Brigade”

And then the No Awards began. This article is not a definite list of the winners. The Hugos have that themselves as well as many far more respected journalistic establishments. I’m only going to tell you the sweeping emotion that began to take me as I started sending messages to friends, colleagues, and acquaintances to tell them the results. I was taken by the solidarity of the thing. There were many tolerable candidates on the Sad Puppies slate, but still, the voters hold firm. They would not negotiate with what they felt were bigots or terrorists. They would not put up with the kind of people who would leave a stack of vile papers on the freebies table, hoping to insult as many groups as possible while referring to the SFWA as the “Socialist Fiction Writer’s of America.” Overall, five No Awards were announced that night, bringing the total of No Awards given in the history of the Hugos to five. The Sad Puppies were almost entirely shut out, with the singular exception of “Guardians of the Galaxy” winning long form presentation. It was a category completely full of Puppy nominees and yet, enough voters had intended to vote for it regardless, that it still won. It struck me, sitting there, as the Sad Puppies’ greatest loss. It was the one that proved that voting weren’t just there to spite them. They were protesting the Puppies’ methods and tactics, certainly. But they weren’t beyond voting for a option that they agreed with.

(8) CiaraCat Sci-Fi “Tell me about the good SFF you’ve read/watched in 2015!”

So, now that a record number of fans have shown up to prove that the group barking “You are a tiny clique trying to block us completely out of the Hugo Awards” were, in fact, the tiny clique who themselves were trying to block everybody else out of the awards…. Let’s move on to what new SFF has been coming out!

(9) Miles Schneiderman on YES! Magazine “Sci-Fi Fandom Declares Victory After Reactionary Nominees Lose Big at the Hugos”

Aside from Guardians, the Hugo voters took every opportunity to award nominees not supported by the Puppies. And despite a deck stacked against women and people of color, the voters rewarded both. Chinese author Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem won for “Best Novel,” becoming the first translated novel ever to win a Hugo. The award in the “Best Graphic Story” category went to the first volume of Ms. Marvel, the comic book that features a teenage Muslim girl as its heroine. Julia Dillon won her second straight Hugo for “Best Professional Artist,” beating out four Puppy candidates. Meanwhile, Lightspeed Magazine beat two Puppy nominees for “Best Semiprozine,” and one of Lightspeed’s editors, Christie Yant, began her acceptance speech with a sardonic, “I’d like to thank the patriarchy.”

One of the most interesting winners was Laura J. Mixon, who won “Best Fan Writer” over four Puppies for her exposé on the notorious Internet troll known as Requires Hate. Mixon’s chances of victory had been uncertain, despite her exclusion from the Puppy slates, because Requires Hate turned out to be a left-leaning woman of color who had been nominated for the Campbell award in 2014. She earned her reputation by viciously attacking and bullying authors she perceived as misrepresenting her race and gender, and had been cited by the Puppies as a glaring example of leftist extremism. Mixon exposed and denounced her, and as a result, many anti-Puppy advocates were also anti-Mixon.

In her acceptance speech, Mixon stressed the importance of being inclusive, and while she didn’t explicitly call for the Puppies to be accepted into the fold, that sentiment could clearly be heard. She ended, however, by advocating for the powerless instead. “I stand with marginalized groups who seek merely to be seen as fully human,” Mixon said before leaving the stage. “Black lives matter.”

(10) Eric Offill on GonnaGeek – “World War Geek: Contemplating The Hugo Fiasco”

The Hugo organizers needed to listen to the dissent and try to answer the claims they are voicing. They need to create avenues of trust with those readers who feel marginalized because their taste in sci-fi isn’t trendy. Because whether they believe it or not, they can’t afford to lose these fans or the one these fans will generate. Larry Correia’s work (which I actually think is pretty good) matters. Orson Scott Card’s work matters. And if you don’t think that their voices aren’t trying to be silenced by the progressive side, ask yourself if Starship Troopers were written today, would it have even been nominated not to even mention win?

That said, the Puppies need to stop acting like victims of the establishment. Bear in mind while Sad and Rabid Puppies are two separate groups, the old adage still goes that if you lie down with dogs, you get fleas. You associate with unsavory individuals, align yourself with news outlets of disrepute, not only do you have to fight the battle you picked, but you have to fight the appearance of malice. You can’t proclaim to be taking the high ground and get into the mud with your opponents. If you truly are interested in being the voice of the marginalized, start acting like a reputable activist and you’ll find allies. Otherwise you’re letting your opponents paint you as a petulant child throwing a tantrum, and they could be right.

But neither side has an excuse for the “No Hugo” reaction. This is beyond embarrassing to EVERYONE. Whether you agree with the nominees or not, they are still nominees and DESERVE to compete for an award and not to be denied simply because the voters didn’t like the choices.

(11) George R.R. Martin on Not A Blog – “The Hugo Losers Party”

Not all the losers were there, to be sure. I had a pocket full of invitations throughout the con, as did Parris and my minions Raya and Jo and Tyler, but even so, we missed people. I never saw Mike Glyer, who I was especially eager to invite, since he had attended the first Hugo Losers Party in 1976, and had done such a great job of covering Puppygate in File 770. But we did get Liza and the LOCUS crew, and it was Charlie Brown and LOCUS who named that first party the best at Big Mac. I looked for Toni Weisskopf at the Hugo ceremony, but never found her. I saw John Joseph Adams at the ceremony, but he somehow escaped me during the picture-taking afterward, and my efforts to track him down at the KC bash came to naught. I never found Jo Walton, though I got messages that she was looking for me. There were others I missed as well… and some who were not invited. NO ASSHOLES, the invite warned. We had a small list, and no, I won’t tell you the names on it… but we wanted this party to be about joy and celebration and togetherness, not division, anger, and ugliness.

In that we succeeded. We had a great crowd. Old and young, fan and pro, male and female, gay and straight and trans, losers and winners, editors and publishers and artists and writers, all dancing and laughing and drinking and having fun. It wasn’t as crowded as that party in Denver, no, but there were probably more people; the Glover is a lot bigger than Rusty’s suite was.

And yes, a number of the guests were on the Puppy slates, and yes, the losers included people who lost to No Award, which has to be an especially hard way to lose. Maybe the party helped in some small way. I have to say, if there is any hope at all of reconciliation with the Sad Puppies, it is much more likely to be accomplished with drinks and dancing than by exchanging angry emails over the web.

(12) Lou Antonelli on This Way To Texas – George R.R. Martin Thinks I’m An Asshole”

I ran into George at the “official” reception, and asked him about a non-Hugo related subject, an article I did last spring regarding his donation of a rare first edition of “The Hobbit” to the Texas AQ&M University Library System. He essentially blew me off; I realize now he was only there to find his chums and hand them the private invites. Of course, I had no idea what he was up to. And of course, he didn’t stop to hand me an invite. But I mean, if you read his blog post – I hardly think I would have been happy there. In his blog post, at one point he says: “Some who were not invited. NO ASSHOLES, the invite warned. We had a small list, and no, I won’t tell you the names on it… but we wanted this party to be about joy and celebration and togetherness…” Jeez, George, I may not be the smartest kid in class, but it’s easy to tell my name was on your Asshole list. You know what? At least I didn’t forget my working class roots.

(13) George R.R. Martin on Not A Blog – “What’s It All About, Alfie?”

And this year, thanks to the slates, we had more losers than ever before. This year, indeed, we were all losers. Some lost the usual way, finishing behind an eventual winner. Others lost to No Award, an especially galling sort of defeat. (Which also created five losers in those five categories instead of four). Even the winners lost, since their victories will always bear as asterisk in the minds of some because they triumphed under such unusual circumstances, over a weakened field, or whatever. (I don’t necessarily endorse this viewpoint. I think some of this year’s winners deserve an exclamation point rather than an asterisk. But I have heard a fair amount of the asterisk talk even on Hugo night itself). The Hugos lost: five No Awards is an occasion for mourning, not cheers. The genre lost: I don’t buy that even bad press is good, and we sure got a lot of bad press this year. Fandom lost: division and discord poisoned our annual celebration of love for SF, and left wounds that will be a long time healing. The nominees who withdrew from the slates lost; they walked away from a Hugo nod, a painful thing to do, and were abused for that decision. The nominees who stayed on the ballot lost; they were abused for that decision too, and some, who were NOT Puppies and never asked to be slated, saw their Hugo chances destroyed by the Nuclear option. Some nominees managed to catch flak from both sides.

And there was another class of loser, less visible, but still very much a victim of the slates. Those writers who produced outstanding work in 2014, and who, in a normal year, would have almost certainly received Hugo nominations. Some might even have won rockets. But this was NOT a normal year, and the usual word-of-mouth buzz and fannish enthusiasm that generally carries a story to a place on the Hugo ballot could not and did not prevail against the slate-mongering of the Sad Puppies and the lockstep voting of the Rabids. These were the invisible losers of the 2015 Hugo season. Losing is a part of life, and certainly of the Hugos… but it is one thing to be beaten in a fair contest, and another to be shoved aside and denied the chance to compete.

It was for those ‘invisible losers’ that I decided to create the Alfies. If one accepts that the Hugo has value, these writers had suffered real harm thanks to the slates. There was no way I could hope to redress that… but I could make a gesture. In the door of my room in KC in 1976, Alfie Bester told us that winners can become losers. If so, losers can become winners too. I would give my own awards… and of course I’d name them after Alfie. So that’s how the Alfies came about.

(14) Patrick S. Tomlinson – “One Final Thought on the Hugos”

The whole SP/RP phenomenon is a microcosm of this inability to recognize and cope with shifting attitudes and preferences within the fandom community. They simply refuse to believe that the silent majority really has moved on to new things, so they concocted a narrative to explain their failures where some secret cabal is somehow stacking the deck against them. How this is accomplished, considering both the nomination and voting processes are done through public ballot, is never clearly explained.

And much like the Wisconsin voter fraud case above, the Puppy slate voting was a coordinated attack (although within the rules of the award at the time) meant to counterbalance the SJW conspiracy locking them out of the nomination process. But just like the WI case, there was no conspiracy. There was no attempt to lock them out. They just weren’t that popular among the people who follow, vote for, and attend the Hugos. They thought they’d awaken a sleeping populist dragon that would swoop down and defeat the small clique of elitists holding them back. But the beast they awoke turned on them instead.

That’s a tough pill for anyone to swallow, but the ensuing results should make it very clear where the sympathies of the actual silent majority of modern fandom lay. Now, the question is, will the SP/RP’s take the time to do some self-reflection and learn from this lesson, or will they double down and comfort themselves with even more extreme conspiracy theories? Only time will tell.

(15) George R.R. Martin on Not A Blog – “The Alfies”

Two more Alfies went to ANNIE BELLET and MARKO KLOOS. Added to the slates without their knowledge or consent, both of these talented young writers found themselves on this year’s Hugo ballot, Bellet for her short story “Goodnight Stars” and Kloos for his novel LINES OF DEPARTURE. It was the first Hugo nomination for both of them, something that every science fiction writer dreams of, a day to be remembered and cherished forever. And yet, when they discovered the nature of the slates and the block-voting that had placed them on the ballot, both Bellet and Kloos withdrew, turning down their nominations. I cannot imagine how difficult and painful a decision that must have been. Bellet’s story actually had more nominations than any other short story on the ballot, regardless of slate, which suggests that she might well have been nominated even without the ‘help’ of the Puppies. And it was Marko Kloos’ withdrawal that opened up a space on the ballot for Cixin Liu’s THREE-BODY PROBLEM, the eventual winner. They lost their shot at a Hugo (this year, at least — I think both of them will be back), but their courage and integrity earned them both an Alfie.

The last Alfie of the night had… surprise, surprise… nothing to do with the slates, the Sads, the Puppies, or any of that madness. I wanted to give a token of recognition to one of the giants of our field, a Hugo winner, Hugo loser (if you look only at the fiction categories, he has lost more Hugos than anyone, I believe), SFWA Grand Master, former Worldcon Guest of Honor, and Big Heart Award winner… the one and only Silverbob. The coolest Alfie of all (the half-lucite one that lights up) went to ROBERT SILVERBERG, the only man among us to have attended every Hugo Awards ceremony since 1953. There has never been a Hugo given out without Silverberg watching. Just think of that!

(16) CCTV – “Chinese sci-fi hit wins Hugo Awards for the first time”

Chinese sci-fi fans were ecstatic when they learned that the Hugo Awards, one of the most prestigious science-fiction awards in the world, went to a Chinese novel for the first time.

The Three-Body Problem, written by Chinese sci-fi novelist Liu Cixin, beat out four other finalists and was announced the winner of the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel in Seattle on Saturday night local time.

The book’s translator Ken Liu accepted the award on the author’s behalf.

As one of the key international awards for the sci-fi genre, the Hugo Awards have been recognizing the best science fiction or fantasy works published in English since 1953.

The Three-Body Problem is also the first Chinese sci-fi novel that has been translated to English. Ever since it was first serialized in a Chinese sci-fi magazine in 2006, The Three-Body Problem, now a complete trilogy, has captivated millions of people in China for its magnificent space philosophy, and was unanimously hailed by sci-fi fans as “China’s best sci-fi novel.” In 2014, the English version of the trilogy’s first book was published in the US.

The second book, The Dark Forest, is planned to hit stores this summer, and the finale, Death’s End, will be out in January 2016, according to the trilogy’s publisher Tor Books.

(17) Don’t show this to the Gallifrey One committee!

(18) Makes me feel better about my own copyediting —

‘As You Know’ Bob in a comment on File 770

Three days after losing “Best Editor” to “NO AWARD” ….Beale self-publishes a book with TWO Chapter Fives?

Is there anyone in the entire universe who continues to question the collective wisdom of the Hugo voters?

Now a bestseller:

John Scalzi Is Not A Very Popular Author And I Myself Am Quite Popular: How SJWs Always Lie About Our Compariative Popularity Levels – Kindle Edition

by Theophilus Pratt (Author, Editor)

Just look at these glowing comments:

More Chapter 5s Than Some Books !

ByTechnoLadyon August 27, 2015

Brilliant and, in all modesty, possibly one of the great works of the 21st century. I especially liked the Chapter layout and how they were sequentialized. This groundbreaking tome once and for all settles the matter of the perfidious John Scalzi’s popularity! This book actually has THREE bonus Chapter Fives, unlike some other lesser works which give you barely two. This NEEDS to be nominated for a Best Editor award next year!

Even the object of the parody admires the product:

And John Scalzi responded to File 770 commenters’ request that he voice the audiobook by dangling this bait“Charity Drive for Con or Bust: An Audio Version of ‘John Scalzi Is Not A Very Popular Author And I Myself Am Quite Popular’ Read by Me”

Short version: To benefit Con or Bust, a charity which helps fans of color attend science fiction and fantasy conventions, I will make an audio version of John Scalzi Is Not A Very Popular Author And I Myself Am Quite Popular: How SJWs Always Lie About Our Comparative Popularity Levels, a parody of an actual book by a certain obnoxious bigot who is obsessed with me, if $2,500 is raised for Con or Bust by 11:59pm (Eastern), Sunday, August 30, 2015. You can donate to Con or Bust here. To goose the giving, I will gift-match for the first $500 in donations.

(19) A tweet from a celebrity Hugo presenter.

(20) Bringer Tom on Metafilter

There was a period in my life when my fondest dream was to be a professional science fiction writer. All I can think now is that I dodged a huge fucking bullet when that didn’t work out.

(21) You can check out any time you like….