Pixel Scroll 3/27/18 Godstalk It, Jake, It’s Pixel Scroll

(1) READ THE GAME. The Read it Forward site is celebrating Ready Player One’s theatrical debut this week with an interactive 8-bit-inspired excerpt that “gamifies” the prologue from Ernest Cline’s novel. [Click on the GIF to view.]

Read your way to the top of the Scoreboard as you earn points for discovering Easter eggs that bring the content to life. As readers learn of Parzival’s hunt for the keys to OASIS, they’ll maneuver their way around a maze, attend an ‘80s dance party, unlock footnotes, and more. Upon completion, readers can add their name to a Scoreboard and share their score with a link to the excerpt on social media. All of the excerpt’s hidden extras are unlocked once a reader earns the maximum score of 10,000 points.

(2) TV INTEREST IN THREE-BODY PROBLEM. From io9: “Report: Amazon May Pay $1 Billion to Adapt the Hugo-Winning Chinese Novel The Three-Body Problem”.

The Hugo-winning Chinese novel The Three-Body Problem could become Amazon’s Game of Thrones. A new report from Financial Times suggests Amazon is pursuing a deal to make a three-season television show based on the trilogy from Liu Cixin, and it may be willing to pay up to $1 billion to do so.

According to the Financial Times report, international investors say Amazon is negotiating for the rights to produce three seasons based on Remembrance of Earth’s Past, the scifi trilogy more commonly known by the title of its first book, The Three-Body Problem.

In a statement reported by Chinese news outlets, YooZoo Pictures stated that it remains the sole owners for the film and TV rights for The Three-Body Problem, though it didn’t comment on whether Amazon had approached the company or were in talks with them to collaborate on this reported streaming project. Cixin was also asked about this development by Chinese news outlet MTime.com, where he revealed he knew nothing about the project and doesn’t know if he’d be invited to work on it.

(3) DISSENTING VOICE. In contrast to those looking forward to the movie, Vox says “The Ready Player One book used to be considered a fun romp. Then Gamergate happened,” in “The Ready Player One backlash, explained”.

A time traveler from 2011 could be forgiven for being deeply confused by this response. In 2011, Ready Player One was beloved. It was “a guaranteed pleasure.” It was “witty.” It was not only “a simple bit of fun” but also “a rich and plausible picture of future friendships in a world not too distant from our own.”

What gives? How did the consensus on a single book go from “exuberant and meaningful fun!” to “everything that is wrong with the internet!” over the span of seven years?

… But the main thing Ready Player One is doing is telling those ’80s-boy-culture-obsessed gamers that they matter, that in fact they are the most important people in the universe. That knowing every single goddamn word of Monty Python and the Holy Grail can have life-or-death stakes, because why shouldn’t it? (Yes, that is a crucial step in Wade’s battle to save the OASIS.)

For readers in Cline’s target demographic in 2011, that message felt empowering. For readers who weren’t, it felt like a harmless piece of affirmation meant for someone else. Everyone deserves a silly escapist fantasy, right? And since Cline’s silly escapist fantasy wasn’t specifically meant for girls — unlike, say, Twilight, which was getting savaged in popular culture at the timeReady Player One was largely left alone by the people it wasn’t built for…

(4) ASHBY STORY. This month’s entry in the Future Tense Fiction series, “Domestic Violence” by Madeline Ashby, is a free read at Slate.

A partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University, Future Tense explores how emerging technologies will change the way we live. The latest consumer gadgets are intriguing, but we focus on the longer-term transformative power of robotics, information and communication technologies, synthetic biology, augmented reality, space exploration, and other technologies. Future Tense seeks to understand the latest technological and scientific breakthroughs, and what they mean for our environment, how we relate to one another, and what it means to be human. Future Tense also examines whether technology and its development can be governed democratically and ethically.

And there’s also a response essay from Ian Harris, who works on technology issues with the National Network to End Domestic Violence: “The Complicated Relationship Between Abuse and Tech”.

Violence against women is having something of a moment right now. Which is to say, portrayals of domestic violence in film and TV are gaining critical acclaim. Through shows like Big Little Lies and movies like I, Tonya, popular culture is grappling with more nuanced representations of domestic violence and the humanity of survivors of abuse. These are important conversations, and I hope that this is the start of a profound societal transformation, though time will tell. For me, the most disturbing part of these portrayals is not the brutality of the assaults, but how frequently physical violence is prioritized over other types of abusive behavior. It is what we don’t see that worries me.

We see this distorted prioritization in real life, too. I’ve been a domestic violence attorney for more than a decade. Despite the long list of clients who have struggled to get the justice system to live up to its name, I have found that survivors are much more likely to get help for physical assaults than for other kinds of abusive behavior such as stalking, surveillance, harassment, and intimate image disclosures, which frequently feel more harmful to the survivor.

(5) AVENGERS PLUG. A new TV spot for Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War.

The end is near. One month until Avengers: Infinity War.

 

(6) SEARCH FOR DIVERSE FICTION. Rocket Stack Rank has another new feature. Greg Hullender explains:

In response to readers who wanted a way to find good stories by diverse authors, we did an analysis of the most-recommended short speculative fiction stories written by people of color in 2015 and 2016 — “Best People of Color SF/F of 2015-2016”.

This only looks at stories that got some sort of recognition (e.g. solid recommendation from a prolific reviewer, inclusion in a years-best anthology, finalist for a major award), so just 481 stories across those two years. Of those, 112 were written by people of color.

The credit for this work goes to Eric Wong, who did the hard work of looking up information on all the authors as well as customizing the software to let readers group the data different ways.

(7) BLOWN UP, SIR. In “This teacher aims to get kids fired up about chemistry”, the Washington Post’s Kitson Jazynka profiles University of Texas chemistry instructor Kate Biberdorf, who “breathes fire and makes explosions that blast the eyes out of jack-o-lanterns.”

Or what about one who, with a quick pour of potassium iodide into a mix of hydrogen peroxide, dish soap and food coloring, makes bubbly foam that shoots toward the ceiling? Kate Biberdorf is no imaginary teacher. She’s real, and she’s coming to Washington next month, bringing along her blowtorch and cornstarch, her supplies of liquid nitrogen and dry ice, and a lot of enthusiasm for chemistry.

Bibersdorf’s website is http://katethechemist.com/.  How could Filers NOT be interested in a woman who says her goal in life is “to have an explosive science show in Vegas?”

(8) HELP BILL SPENCER. Paul Di Filippo urges readers to support a GoFundMe that will “Give Back to Bill Spencer”.

We all need a little help sometimes. This is one of those times for Bill. He has several different health issues going on right now and the medical expenses he is incurring that are not covered through Medicare are mounting and could get much worse.   As well, he’s facing some unforeseeable out of pocket expenses that could potentially end up being a serious problem.   Right now, Bill simply doesn’t have enough for monthly bills, day to day living expenses and numerous co-pays that keep coming his way for various medical necessities.

Many readers know Bill as the award-winning writer William Browning Spencer, author of novels like Zod Wallop, Resume with Monsters and short-story collections like his latest, The Unorthodox Dr. Draper and Other Stories.

But Bill has contributed to others in a very different way as well.  By freely and graciously donating endless amounts of his time over the years to sponsoring and supporting people who are facing their own daunting problems related to alcohol, drugs and living life.  It’s time to give back to Bill what he has so freely given.

This is something Bill would never ask for himself, but he is one of my best friends and I know he is important to folks like yourself, who may wish to help in his time of need.  Bill is truly one of the most amazing, caring and hilarious human beings I know and if you’re reading this you most likely feel the same.  I think we’d all love for Bill to have the peace of mind of knowing that, whatever happens, he need not be stressed out and worried each day about how he’s going to pay for medication or a test or procedure he needs on top of his modest monthly and day to day expenses.

(9) BISCHOFF OBIT. Writer David Bischoff, 66, of Eugene, OR died March 19. He was a contributor to Doug Fratz’ 1970s fanzine Thrust. His first professional successes included The Seeker, a novel published in 1976, and the Nebula-nominated story “Tin Woodman,” co-authored with Dnnis Bailey, later adapted into both a novel and TV episode for Star Trek: The Next Generation. He also wrote the Star Trek tie-in novel Grounded, which spent time on the bestseller list. His other TV work included Dinosaucers (with Ted Pedersen). Bischoff wrote 75 original novels, and tie-in novels for movies and TV series.

David Bischoff. Photo by and copyright Andrew Porter.

(10) A POLICEMAN’S LOT. Camestros Felapton reacted to Richard Paolinelli’s minor league prank of complaining to the Aussie cops about Felapton’s blog.

(11) MOUNTAINTOP EXPERIENCE. “The hidden history of the UK’s highest peak”: A tourist hiking trail once led to an early weather station whose records are now being used to trace climate change.

Back in Victorian Britain, science was still largely an amateur pastime conducted by bands of self-financed enthusiasts who formed scientific societies. One was the Scottish Meteorological Society, which set up and maintained a network of weather stations across Scotland between 1855 and 1920.

(12) WAVE GOODBYE. “Stephen Hawking’s final interview: A beautiful Universe” starts from LIGO discovery of grav waves.

Tell us how important is the detection of two colliding neutron stars?

It is a genuine milestone. It is the first ever detection of a gravitational wave source with an electromagnetic counterpart. It confirms that short gamma-ray bursts occur with neutron star mergers. It gives a new way of determining distances in cosmology. And it teaches us about the behaviour of matter with incredibly high density.

(13) MAY THE ODDS BE ALWAYS IN YOUR FAVOR. Don’t look up — “Tiangong-1: China space station may fall to Earth ‘in days'”.

Should I be worried?

No. Most of the 8.5-tonne station will disintegrate as it passes through the atmosphere.

Some very dense parts such as the fuel tanks or rocket engines might not burn up completely. However, even if parts do survive to the Earth’s surface, the chances of them hitting a person are incredibly slim.

“Our experience is that for such large objects typically between 20% and 40% of the original mass will survive re-entry and then could be found on the ground, theoretically,” the head of Esa’s space debris office, Holger Krag, told reporters at a recent briefing.

“However, to be injured by one of these fragments is extremely unlikely. My estimate is that the probability of being injured by one of these fragments is similar to the probability of being hit by lightning twice in the same year.”

(14) WEDDING BELLS. Page Six headline: “‘Star Trek’ star marries Leonard Nimoy’s son”:

Live long and prosper, you two.

Adam Nimoy, son of the late “Star Trek” icon Leonard Nimoy, and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” actress Terry Farrell married on Monday, on what would’ve been Leonard Nimoy’s 87th birthday.

The couple tied the knot in a civil ceremony at City Hall in San Francisco, according to film critic Scott Mantz, who tweeted a photo of the couple on their wedding day. Farrell retweeted Mantz’s photo and wrote, “Freakin AWESOME day!!!!!!! Love ya all! Aka: Mrs. Adam Nimoy.”

She also changed her Twitter bio to include “Mrs. Adam Nimoy.”

(15) COMPLAINTS ABOUT DATE OF HUGO ANNOUNCEMENT. The announcement of the 2018 Hugo finalists wouldn’t be on March 31/Passover/Easter weekend/a Saturday if it was up to these folks:

(16) VERTLIEB CANVASSES. Rondo Awards voting closes April 8 at midnight and Steve Vertlieb hopes people will consider his nominated article “Robert Bloch: The Clown at Midnight” for Best Article of the Year.

My published work about the author of “Psycho” … “Robert Bloch: The Clown At Midnight” … has been nominated for a Rondo Award for “Best Article of the Year.” Anyone can vote.  This year’s competition ends Sunday night, April 8th, at midnight. To vote for my remembrance of Robert, simply send your choice, along with your name, to taraco@aol.com

This is the story of my twenty five year friendship with acclaimed writer Robert Bloch, the author of Psycho. It is the newly published remembrance of a complex, remarkable man, and our affectionate relationship over a quarter century.

Robert Bloch was one of the founding fathers of classic horror, fantasy, and science fiction whose prolific prose thrilled and influenced the popular genre, its writers, and readers, for much of the twentieth century. An early member of “The Lovecraft Circle,” a group of both aspiring and established writers of “Weird Fiction” assembled by Howard Phillips Lovecraft during the early 1930’s, Bloch became one of the most celebrated authors of that popular literary genre during the 1940’s, 1950’s, and 1960’s, culminating in the publication of his controversial novel concerning a boy, his mother, and a particularly seedy motel. When Alfred Hitchcock purchased his novel and released “Psycho” with Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh in 1960, Bloch became one of the most sought after authors and screen writers in Hollywood. His numerous contributions to the acclaimed television anthology series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” are among the best of the director’s classic suspense series, while his legendary scripts, adaptations and teleplays for Boris Karloff’s “Thriller” series for NBC are among the most bone chilling, frightening, and horrifying screen presentations in television history. He also famously penned several classic episodes of NBC’s original “Star Trek” series for producer Gene Roddenberry. Writers Stephen King, Richard Matheson, and Harlan Ellison have written lovingly and profusely of their own literary debt to Robert Bloch. Bob was, for me, even more significantly, a profoundly singular mentor and cherished personal friend for a quarter century. This is the story of that unforgettable relationship.

(17) NUMBER PLEASE. A strange post at George R.R. Martin’s Not a Blog caught Greg Hullender’s eye: “I wonder if this is a coded announcement that Winds of Winter is coming?” “Yowza” consists of a series of pictures of hands with finger extended as though counting. But does the number 4534 really mean anything?

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Joey Eschrich, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Ghostbird, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Greg Hullender, Paul DiFilippo, and Mark Hepworth for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]

Pixel Scroll 2/17/18 Scrolls of Mystery and Imagination

By JJ:

(1) THE RIGHT STUFF, WITH A NEW WRINKLE.

Most of you may remember that at just 9 years old I raised funds via GoFundMe to attend my first Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama and that one day I will be an astronaut, scientist and an engineer. Since then outlets like GoFundMe not only help my STEM dreams come true but others as well. Just this year through GoFundMe I raised over $20,000 to send over a 1000 girls to see the movie Hidden Figures because it was important to me that girls know that with drive, determination, and hard work you be anything, a scientist, a mathematician, an engineer, an astronaut or maybe the President of the United States even when the odds are against you!

I am 14 now and using my voice to not only bring girls of color to STEM/STEAM but all kids all over the U.S. and abroad.

I’m so excited about the upcoming movie A Wrinkle in Time, which is scheduled to come out spring 2018.

My goal is to send a 1000 girls to see this movie.

Why? I have a lot of reasons but the main ones are:

  1. It shows young, black girls deserving a chance to be a part of the scifi cultural canon.
  2. It has a female protagonist in a science fiction film. A brown girl front and center who looks like me in the role of Meg, a girl traveling to different planets and encountering beings and situations that I’d never seen a girl of color in.
  3. Most impressive and importantly, it’s a fantasy film that is not about some white boys fighting evil, but about a black girl overcoming it.

Thanks to donors, including a $10,000 gift from JJ Abrams and his wife Katie McGrath, the goal has been exceeded. Richardson says that any funds raised above what is needed for the movie event will go to projects, events, and scholarships to bring diversity and gender equality to the STEM field.

(2) ELIMINATING CONFUSION. The opening weekend of Marvel’s Black Panther film has unsurprisingly been marked by attacks and trolling. No sooner had the screenings started, says Lauren Rearick at Teen Vogue, than posts began appearing on social media claiming that white people who attended showings of the movie were being attacked by black people.

The social media posts in question have used images from previous acts of violence that have absolutely nothing to do with the film. Among the photos being used include a woman who was attacked at a bar in Sweden last month, and Colbie Holderness, ex-wife of former White House staff secretary Rob Porter who recently opened up about alleged domestic abuse.

People on social media are fighting back against the false claims by sharing links to Teen Vogue and other articles documenting the fake photos.

Trolls have also been targeting theatres showing the film, determined to set them straight about the fictional nature of the film:

Variety reported that Black Panther’s box office take after Thursday and Friday reached almost $76 million, marking the eighth-highest opening day ever, and third largest for Marvel, according to comScore.

(3) GIVE THE SHOGGOTH A TIME HUG. Dr. Janelle Shane, whose work with neural networks turned loose on generating Harry Potter fiction, Dungeons & Dragons game scripts, and Christmas Carols has previously featured on File 770, last week set her twisted brainchild to composing Candy Heart messages, using messages taken from real candy as input. The neural network not only uses words it is fed, but it creates what it thinks are similar words to use in its results as well. Some of the stranger romantic messages it generated:

ALL HOVER

OOG LOVE
TIME HUG
SWOOL MAT
BEAR WIG
TWEET UP BAT
LOVE 2000 HOGSYEA
YOU ARE BOA
SWEAT PEAR

Dr. Shane adds:

There was yet another category of message, a category you might be able to predict given the prevalence of four-letter words in the original dataset. The neural network thought of some nice new four-letter words to use. Unfortunately, some of those words already had other meanings. Let’s just say that the overall effect was surprisingly suggestive. Fill out the form here and I’ll send them to you.

(4) ORIGIN STORY. Oor Wombat has revealed the possible inspiration for her Hugo Whalefall speech:

(5) DELIBERATELY SCUTTLED. Barnes and Noble appears to be scaling back operations, as a prelude to a complete shutdown. But the ship didn’t sink on its own, says blogger audreyii_fic in “The entirely unnecessary demise of Barnes & Noble”:

On Monday morning, every single Barnes & Noble location – that’s 781 stores – told their full-time employees to pack up and leave. The eliminated positions were as follows: the head cashiers (those are the people responsible for handling the money), the receiving managers (the people responsible for bringing in product and making sure it goes where it should), the digital leads (the people responsible for solving Nook problems), the newsstand leads (the people responsible for distributing the magazines), and the bargain leads (the people responsible for keeping up the massive discount sections)…

We’re not talking post-holiday culling of seasonal workers. This was the Red Wedding. Every person laid off was a full-time employee. These were people for whom Barnes & Noble was a career. Most of them had given 5, 10, 20 years to the company. In most cases it was their sole source of income.

There was no warning.

But it gets worse…

The Barnes & Noble executives do not intend to rebuild.

How do I know this? Because every decision from the upper levels is being made solely to increase cash on hand.

(6) HOPES DASHED. Benjamin C. Kinney, whose essays on neuroscience have been featured on File 770 in the past, relates a tale of woe in “The Story that Never Was”:

I hit a writer milestone yesterday, though a sad one it is. You see, about a month ago, I had another short story accepted at a professional SFF magazine! I was just waiting on the contract to make it official, and then tell you all about my delightful Fairy Gentrification story. The eldritch diner with the portal between worlds was torn down for condos years ago – but there’s one last fairy chevalier stranded in this world, seeking out the owners’ son.

But, alas, it is not to be. Because the magazine has died, with my story in its casket.

The publication in question, PerVisions, has been defending a trademark suit against their original name, Persistent Visions, by an animation production company of the same name, and according to Publisher Christophe Pettus in a story on Locus Online:

The core reason for us having to stop accepting work is that our budget for acquisitions was largely consumed by a long and unpleasant dispute over the name of the publication. Although the other party was not in the publishing industry and we had no intention of causing any confusion with their services, ultimately, it became clear that no compromise except changing the name of the journal was possible.

Sadly, working through that legal issue was very expensive, and consumed our available capital. I would not ask to publish material that I could not pay a decent rate for, and keeping authors in suspense while the future of the journal is decided is not fair to them.

The website will remain live, so that stories they previously published will be preserved.

(7) BELIEVE IT OR NOT. Deadline reports that the 80s TV series The Greatest American Hero is getting a reboot:

With New Girl coming to an end, series’ co-star Hannah Simone has been tapped for the title role in ABC’s single-camera comedy pilot The Greatest American Hero, from the Fresh Off the Boat duo of Rachna Fruchbom and Nahnatchka Khan. In the reimagining with a gender switch of Steven J. Cannell’s 1981 cult classic, the unlikely (super)hero at the center, played by William Katt in the original, is being reconceived as an Indian-American woman.

 

(8) STANDLEE STILL, STAY SILENT. Kevin Standlee has announced that he will not be adding any Hugo recommendations to the Bay Area Science Fiction Association’s list this year:

I’m not making any Hugo Award recommendations this year. As one of the members of this year’s Hugo Awards Administration Subcommittee, I don’t want my own personal preferences being seen as trying to influence anything. But BASFA continues with its practice of meeting to discuss works/people they think are Award-worthy… if you go to BASFA’s web site, you should see a link to this year’s recommendations. Or you can just download the 2018 BASFA Hugo recommendations PDF directly.

(9) NO ROOM AT THE INN. GenCon attendees with accessibility needs report that this year’s hotel room reservation system is unable to allocate ADA accessible rooms online, and that fans have to wait up to 2 weeks to hear if they have an ADA room. Meanwhile, the hotel room blocks continue to be sold online to other members, and hotels which run out of regular rooms are apparently assigning their ADA rooms to online registrants instead of holding them back for accessibility applicants.

Maria Turner: IMPORTANT PSA:

Housing will no longer be allowed to be traded to avoid cancellation fees.

AND people requesting ADA rooms may not get confirmation they actually got an ADA room for TWO WEEKS!!! This is totally unacceptable. Totally. I am awaiting a response from Gen Con on this matter.

Todd Bunt: I am sad today. My friend a disabled veteran cannot get a room this year since there were no ADA room reserved. He has a hard time walking but the only room he can get is 10 miles away. Last years he got an ADA room in one of the hotels attached to the convention center. (t made it easy for him to go to the room to rest during the day. He was looking forward to going to GenCon this year but that was taken from him. Maybe next year they can hold some ADA rooms for those that need the help.

Daniel Lagos: Has anyone who needed an ADA room at any hotel in the Gencon block, who called and got the answering machine for the call center, actually gotten a call back yet?

I had an 8:44pm time for getting a room, and I left my information in my message. So far, I haven’t gotten a call yet. (more comments follow)

Doug Triplett: Arrrgh. I tried to call the ada line and they shut it off. Said it wasn’t working this weekend. Anyone else had an issue with that today. And in the portal the closest hotel is at least 10 miles away. This sucks!

Miriam Breslauer: NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

Gencon set my housing request time to 10:28 pm. Because I need an ADA room I had to call them. There was no one there, because it was outside business hours! WTF! I am beyond pissed. Hopefully, they just call me back tomorrow and there are magically still some rooms left.

Not cool Gencon. Not cool at all.

Maria Turner: Does anyone know where one submits an ADA complaint re the hotel reservation process icw a major convention?…

What is wrong with the process is the way the search criteria is processed.

1) ADA requirement is not a component of the housing acquisition query screen

2) Hotels with all available rooms are returned as available

3) it is not until a person goes to a hotel returned from the initial query that one requests an ADA room with no idea if there is even one available at that hotel or not

4) No one will confirm for me if hotels are selling ADA rooms to non-ADA attendees as current law provides if there is demand that exceeds their supply of non-ADA rooms

5) ADA attendees wait up to two weeks to receive confirmation that their reservation for the room and/or hotel they requested is accepted

6) non-ADA attendees receive confirmation immediately their reservation was accepted.

7) ADA attendees may be moved to other hotels

I’ve been back and forth with Mike Boozer regarding the process, and he’s unresponsive citing supply and demand when that’s not the issue.

All the people I know who have obtained ADA rooms have had to do so out of block. I’m not paying $770/night at the JW, so we’ll likely be commuting if we don’t get a room via Authors/Artists housing block this weekend.

ADA Room checkbox needs to sit on that initial screen, the available hotels list returned should be only hotels with ADA room availability.

Thus far, there do not appear to be any posts on Gencon’s Facebook page which address the situation.

(10) ECLECTIC LADY. Janelle Monáe, who starred in the Hugo-nominated Hidden Figures as well as releasing Afrofuturist music albums The ArchAndroid, Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase), and The Electric Lady (which was nominated for a Tiptree Award in 2014) has announced a new SFFnal album Dirty Computer:

Janelle Monáe has confirmed early details of her follow up to 2013 album The Electric Lady. Titled Dirty Computer, the album currently has no release date but a trailer starring Monáe alongside actress Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok and the upcoming Annihilation) can be seen below.

(11) BIRTHDAYS.

  • Born February 17, 1912 – Andre Norton, Author (Beastmaster, Witch World)
  • Born February 17, 1925 – Hal Holbrook, Actor (Capricorn One, Creepshow)
  • Born February 17, 1954 – Rene Russo, Actor (The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, Thor)
  • Born February 17, 1981 – Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Actor (Inception, Looper)
  • Born February 17, 1991 – Bonnie Wright, Actor (Harry Potter)

(12) WALKAWAY GONE WALKABOUT. Cory Doctorow, author of 2017’s Walkaway, will be doing a Down Under book tour for the novel starting next week, with stops in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide in Australia, and Wellington in New Zealand. Perhaps he’ll wave to Camestros as he passes through Aberdeen.

(13) MOUNT TSUNDOKU, IN 12 PARTS. Grant Snider’s Incidental Comics features a story which may sound familiar to many Filers: My Bookshelf

(14) A NOVEL WAY TO DEAL WITH MARKETING SPAM.

(15) RE-VISITING A… ER, CLASSIC? According to SyFy, a feature film version of the TV series “V” is in the works:

Desilu Studios has announced it’s going to bring V The Movie, based on the classic 1983 miniseries, to theaters in a big-budget film version that will be written and directed by Kenneth Johnson, creator of the original show.

The two-part miniseries aired on NBC in 1983 and chronicled an invasion of Earth by vicious reptilian aliens who disguised themselves as friendly humanoids, triggering a human resistance movement. A metaphor for revolution against a fascist government, V was hugely popular with audiences, spawning a 1984 sequel, V: The Final Battle, a short-lived 1985 show called V: The Series, and a 2009 reboot that lasted for two seasons on ABC.

Casting, production details, and a release date for V The Movie are all yet to be determined.

(16) MORE YOUNG PEOPLE READ OLD SFF. This time out, James Davis Nicoll has them reading Tanith Lee’s horror story “The Gorgon”, and the reactions cross the whole spectrum, from “intriguing and mysterious” to “annoying and racist”, with some bonus commentary on imprudent alcohol consumption.

(17) THE NO AWARD AWARD. In the February 2, 2018, issue of the Times Literary Supplement, J.C. says:

In early December, we stumbled on a blog at the Paris Review Daily site, written by Ursula K. Le Guin, on the subject of one of our most coveted awards, the Jean-Paul Sartre Prize for Prize Refusal. It is open to any writer who has refused a literary prize.

“I first learned about the Sartre Prize from NB”, Ms Le Guin wrote, “the last page of London’s Times Literary Supplement, signed by J.C. The fame of the award, named for the writer who refused the Nobel in 1964, is or anyhow should be growing fast.” Ms Le Guin flattered us further by quoting from a past NB: “So great is the status of the Jean-Paul Sartre Prize for Prize Refusal that writers all over Europe and America are turning down awards in the hope of being nominated for a Sartre”. As we noted at the time, and Ms Le Guin repeated it, “The Sartre Prize itself has never been refused”…

Ursula Le Guin died on January 22, aged eighty-eight. She left us with an idea, however: “I do hope you will recommend me to the Basement Labyrinth so that I can refuse to be even nominated, thus earning the Pre-Refusal of Awards Award, which has yet to be named”. It has a name now: The Ursula K. Le Guin Prize, for writers who refuse shortlisting, longlisting and any other form of nomination for literary prizes. The essay, “A Much Needed Literary Award”, is included in her final book, No Time To Spare: Thinking About What Matters, published in December last year.

(18) MARKET REPORT. David Steffen has compiled the “SFWA Market Report for February” for the SFWA Blog, listing those publications which are opening or closing for submissions.

(19) STROSS SHOUTS AT CLOUDS. Not every SF work needs to conform to strict worldbuilding standards, writes Cora Buhlert “In Defence of Wallpaper Science Fiction”:

A few days ago, Paul Weimer pointed me on Twitter to this post by Charles Stross in which Stross laments the current state of the science fiction genre, because a lot of SF writers these days focus more on plot, action, characters and their relationships than on worldbuilding, particularly on economics, which is the aspect of worldbuilding that is closest to Stross’ heart.

Whenever Stross posts a variation of this “other people are doing science fiction wrong” rant, it inevitably gets my hackles up…

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a kernel of truth in Stross’ post. Because all too often, things show up in science fiction, just because “that’s the way things are”, whether in genre or life, regardless if this makes sense in this particular setting. The prevalence of Galactic Empires vaguely modeled on the Roman or British Empire in science fiction is a result of tropes being imported from other genre works unexamined, as is the fact that every future military ever is either modelled on the US Marine Corps of the 20th/21st centuries or the British Royal Navy of the 18th and 19th centuries and that every starship is modelled on a modern aircraft carrier…

So if all that Stross’ post did was implore science fiction writers to interrogate their worldbuilding choices and ask themselves “Why did I choose this?” and “Does this even make sense for the world that I built and if not, how can I make it fit?”, I would probably have heartily applauded. However, that’s not all he does.

(20) THE PUNCH LINE. So an SFF writer, a zombie, and a cat walk into a bar…

(21) THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS.  A Kickstarter has gone live for Tiny Wastelands, a post-apocalyptic RPG, and it’s already blown way past its goal in the first few days, racking up $22,906 in pledges against its original goal of $6,000.

Tiny Wastelands is post-apocalyptic roleplaying in a minimalist package! Using the rules in this book, you’ll be able to play survivors of lost and destroyed civilizations, mutants rampaging the wastelands and so, so much more.

Stretch goals include additional micro-settings for the game written by various authors, including this one already achieved:

$14,000: Paul Weimer takes us to High Plains Drift!

“The High Plains of the Dakotas are wide, flat, and deadly. Between the mutant prairie dogs, what lurks in the minuteman silos, and the farmers turned bandits who have adapted farm tractors to war vehicles, survival on the plains is nasty, brutish and short.

What makes it unique? Farm Tractor war vehicles, mutant wildlife and endless horizons in a hardscrabble world.”

(22) WHICH CAME FIRST? Hampus Eckerman believes that Filers will enjoy this SFF film short from 2016:

[Thanks to Camestros Felapton, Cora Buhlert, Hampus Eckerman, lauowolf, PJ Evans, RedWombat, Standback for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 Contributing Editor of the Day JJ.]

2018 Down Under Fan Fund

Down Under Fan Fund co-administrator Paul Weimer has announced the 2018 DUFF ballot is live. There is one candidate, Marlee Jane Ward, who will attend Worldcon 76 in San Jose.

Although it is a one-person race, the voting process is DUFF’s fundraiser, as votes need to be accompanied by a minimum contribution of at least $5 in US, Australian, Canadian, or New Zealand currency.

Get a PDF ballot or vote online at the OZ Fan Funds page. The voting deadline is March 31, 2018 at 23:59 AEDT (Australian Eastern Daylight Time).

Ward’s platform is:

Marlee Jane Ward

I’m a writer, blogger and amateur photographer from Melbourne, Australia. I’m passionate about writing, but every writer begins as a fan – and I’m mad about Science Fiction. I attended Worldcon in 2016 in Kansas City and I’d love to have the opportunity to build connections with world-wide fans of Science Fiction again in San Jose this year. I look to document fan culture and my personal experience at the biggest con in the world, both through blogs and photos. I’m warm, outgoing and absolutely sure that I won’t just make networks, I’ll make friends.

Nominators: Australasia: Jane Rawson, Cat Sparks and Corey White; North America: Neile Graham and Kij Johnson.

Ward attended the Clarion West Writers Workshop in 2014. Since then, ISFDB shows Ward has published six short stories and a novel (Welcome to Orphancorp). In 2017 she won the Ditmar Award for Best New Talent, and also attended Kij Johnson’s novel writing workshop in Kansas.

The Golden Age of Science Fiction is Twelve: 1983-4, in genre, for me and the field

By Paul Weimer:

“The Golden Age of science fiction is twelve” – Peter Graham, 1957 (and requoted many times since)

Pete Graham at the 1965 Worldcon in London.

With the anniversary of File 770, I thought I would revisit that quote from Peter Graham, that the Golden Age of science fiction is the age of 12, by looking back at what the field was doing, and what I was reading at the age of 12. I turned 12 in October 1983, having already been a reader and consumer of science fiction for a number of years, thanks to an older brother already immersed in the genre.

1983 from a book perspective for me was about year 4 of getting really into SF. Getting handed copies of I, Robot and The Martian Chronicles had led to a still-ongoing era of raiding my brother’s SF books for stuff to read. Given that he’s 7 years older, this meant that my formative early SF reading was always a bit out of sync with what was going on at the time. It took me a while to start reading “currently” in the genre, rather than backfilling. So out of the hundreds and hundreds of books publishes when I was 12, I had read very few of them.

But what was in books published in 1983 and 1984, you ask?  Let’s look at the Hugo and Nebula nominees for an idea of what was out there:

1984 Hugo Nominees (for books in 1983)

  • Startide Rising by David Brin
  • Tea with the Black Dragon by R. A. MacAvoy
  • Millennium by John Varley
  • Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
  • The Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov

I had read Robots of Dawn that year, since Asimov had been a formative author for me. I read none of thee at the time, although in a few years I would discover Brin, MacAvoy, Varley and McCaffrey. (I was about a year away from discovering Pern at this point).

File 770 (Best Fanzine) and Mike Glyer (Best Fan Writer) would both get Hugo nominations and wins in 1984.

How about the Nebulas that year?

  • Startide Rising by David Brin
  • Against Infinity by Gregory Benford, published by Timescape
  • Tea with the Black Dragon by R. A. MacAvoy
  • The Void Captain’s Tale by Norman Spinrad
  • Lyonesse by Jack Vance
  • The Citadel of the Autarch by Gene Wolfe

I had not yet quite discovered Benford, so his novel was still in my future at the time. Too, for Norman Spinrad. I had an intense Spinrad phase toward the end of the 80’s, but I was not there yet. I had already read a chunk of Jack Vance, but Lyonesse was still in my future. Gene Wolfe, too, was more than a decade in my future. I don’t think I’d really have grokked Book of the New Sun at age 12 anyway.

Let’s move onto the year 1984.  Again, a lot of my genre reading was idiosyncratically behind some years, as I was for the most part still working through my brother’s back collection. And yes, I did read 1984 in the year 1984, so there’s that.

1985 Hugo Nominees (for books in 1984)

  • Neuromancer by William Gibson
  • Emergence by David R. Palmer
  • The Peace War by Vernor Vinge
  • Job: A Comedy of Justice by Robert A. Heinlein
  • The Integral Trees by Larry Niven

Out of this set, I had read none of them that year, although in a couple of years I would read Heinlein, Niven and Gibson, and when it came back in print years later, the Vinge. I have not ever read the Palmer.

In the 1985 Hugo nominees for Novelette, the winner for Best Novelette was Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild”, with that oh so memorable Asimov’s SF magazine cover. As I detailed in my essay in the collection Letters To Butler, this story had a profound impact on me and my subsequent Science Fiction reading. I had just started dipping a bit into current short fiction by 1984, mainly by reading issues of Asimov’s.

File 770 won for best Fanzine again in 1985. Mr. Glyer himself was nominated again for Best Fan Writer but did not win.

The Nebula award lineup that year for novels:

  • The Man Who Melted by Jack Dann
  • Neuromancer by William Gibson
  • Job: A Comedy of Justice by Robert A. Heinlein
  • The Integral Trees by Larry Niven
  • The Wild Shore by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Frontera by Lewis Shiner

I have never read the Shiner or the Dann, and as far Kim Stanley Robinson, I didn’t discover him, really until the Mars books, whereupon I went back and read books like The Wild Shore and enjoyed them highly.

Oh, and the aforementioned Octavia Butler Novelette “Bloodchild” won the Nebula, too.

As far as movies, 1983 and 1984 marked the first years I actually got to see movies in a movie theater. My family was not big on movie watching, so it took my older brother again to take me and my younger brother to the movies for the first time. The second ever movie I saw in a movie theater, in the summer of 1983, was Return of the Jedi. I had not seen the previous Star Wars films, and only had the vaguest idea of what was in them, even though I did have many toys from a young age. Finally, in 1983, I was able to see Star Wars as it was meant to be, on a wide screen in a theater, being immersed into SF in a visual way that really only some television properties and television-broadcast movies had provided for me.  I did watch the Ewok Adventure: Caravan of Courage that fall, and was rather disappointed in it.

But back to movies and my season of going to movies for the first time. As it so happens, the first movie I saw in a movie theater was also genre, as it so happens — Metalstorm 3d: The Destruction of Jared Syn. I recently rewatched it to try and see how it matched up to my hazy memories of a desert planet that looked out of a Doctor Who rock quarry…it does not hold up to the memories I am afraid.

Other movies I saw in 1983 and then 1984 in genre included Superman III (a huge disappointment), The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, which was enormous fun, the original Ghostbusters and The Last Starfighter. I remember seeing Star Trek III: The Search for Spock after months and years of seeing articles which had spoiled the as-yet-unseen-to-me Star Trek II, and the debate on “How are we going to get Spock back, because they have to”. So when I saw Star Trek III, I already knew that Spock was dead and wondered just how he was going to be resurrected. I highly enjoyed Night of the Comet, although even at the time I realized that the denouement really is a downer despite its outwardly upbeat ending. All that infrastructure is doomed to fail!

I did not manage to see Dune at the time, although I remember Starlog magazine articles on it, because it disappeared from local theaters too soon. I also missed at the time Krull, 2010, Brainstorm, The Philadelphia Experiment, The Terminator, Wargames, The Right Stuff, Nausicaa, 1984, Ice Pirates, Repo Man, Videodrome, and  Firestarter.  I would see all of these in future years with the rise of VHS cassettes, however.

In terms of Television, 1983-4 was a pretty formative year, too. I watched the original V, avidly. It took a rewatch for me to really glom onto the anti-fascist theme. I was hopeful for Manimal, but the show died relatively quickly. 1983 also marked the end of Voyagers!, which married ideas of alternate history, history and time travel in a tasty genre package. 1983 and 1984 also were part of the early portion of another beloved show at the time for me, Knight Rider. The anthology show Tales from the Darkside also came out in Fall 1983. Although not really terribly to my taste (I felt really uncomfortable parallels to Brainy Smurf and how he was a butt monkey of the show), The Smurfs were also big at this time.

And of course, there is Doctor Who. People in the UK were watching Peter Davison in Season 20 (which included the 20th Anniversary special, The Five Doctors) Season 21 (which would be Davison’s final season), and Colin Baker’s first serial, The Twin Dilemma, I lived here in America, which meant watching old episodes of Doctor Who on PBS. This was still mostly 4th Doctor (Tom Baker) episodes at this point. It would not be until the later 80’s that I would get to see the Davison episodes and beyond.

On a roleplaying game front, 1983-4 marked for Dungeons and Dragons the start of the seminal Dragonlance modules, which would eventually be turned into novels by Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis. At this point, I was playing Dungeons and Dragons, but mostly homebrewed adventures. In a couple of years, I would move from being a player to being a GM, a role that I’ve usually taken more of ever since for many roleplaying games. Other roleplaying games at that type that emerged included Skyrealms of Journe (which is science fantasy cracking goodness), Twilight 2000, Toon, and the Ringworld RPG.

The 1983-1984 season of my 12th birthday, overall, was indeed, for me, a golden age, both at the time, and thereafter.

Pixel Scroll 12/18/17 Scrolls For Industry! Scrolls For The Undead!

(1) CADIGAN NEWS. Congratulations to Pat Cadigan who told her Facebook followers today:

I am now allowed to say that I am writing both the novelisation for the forthcoming movie Alita: Battle Angel as well as the prequel novel, Iron City.

And this is why I’m in Deadline Hell.

That is all.

(2) STAR PEACE CORPS. In  “Star Wars Without the Empire”, Camestros Felapton conducts an awesome thought experiment inspired by Paul Weimer’s tweet.

In post-war Germany, a version of Casablanca was produced, re-edited and with a new script for the dubbing, that had no Nazis in it. As you can imagine, given the role Nazis play in the plot, they had to do a lot of work.

I was wondering if you could do the same to Star Wars Episode 4 – remove the Empire…

Star Not Wars Because They Aren’t Having a War With Anybody: A New Hope

A spaceship has broken down. Princess Leia finds a robot on the ship and gives it something. The robot (R2D2) finds an escape pod with its friend (C3PO). They leave the ship. We don’t see the ship again. It probably had engine trouble or something. Maybe the robots have gone off to get some fuel from a service station.

The robots land in a desert. After an argument, they split up. Later they each get caught by tiny people.

Meanwhile, young Luke Skywalker is unhappy being a farmer and living with his uncle. He’d rather be…doing something else I suppose.

(3) MARK YOUR CALENDAR. The Vintage Paperback Show returns to Glendale, CA on March 18.

(4) ROBOT ON PATROL. Tech Crunch reports “Security robots are being used to ward off San Francisco’s homeless population”:

Is it worse if a robot instead of a human is used to deter the homeless from setting up camp outside places of business?

One such bot cop recently took over the outside of the San Francisco SPCA, an animal advocacy and pet adoption clinic in the city’s Mission district, to deter homeless people from hanging out there — causing some people to get very upset.

The article quotes this tweet from Brianna Wu:

The SPCA deployed a robot from security startup Knightscope to deter crime and vandalism on their campus.

And, according to both the S.F. SPCA and Knightscope, crime dropped after deploying the bot.

However, the K9 unit was patrolling several areas around the shop, including the sidewalk where humans walk, drawing the ire of pedestrians and advocacy group Walk SF, which previously introduced a bill to ban food delivery robots throughout the city.

“We’re seeing more types of robots on sidewalks and want to see the city getting ahead of this,” said Cathy DeLuca, Walk SF policy and program director, who also mentioned S.F. district 7 supervisor Norman Yee would be introducing legislation around sidewalk use permits for robots in the beginning of 2018.

Last week the city ordered the S.F. SPCA to stop using these security robots altogether or face a fine of $1,000 per day for operating in a public right of way without a permit.

The S.F. SPCA says it has since removed the robot and is working through a permitting process. It has already seen “two acts of vandalism” since the robot’s removal.

(5) THE DIAGNOSIS. Ted Chiang says “The Real Danger To Civilization Isn’t AI. It’s Runaway Capitalism” in an article for Buzzfeed.

Speaking to Maureen Dowd for a Vanity Fair article published in April, Musk gave an example of an artificial intelligence that’s given the task of picking strawberries. It seems harmless enough, but as the AI redesigns itself to be more effective, it might decide that the best way to maximize its output would be to destroy civilization and convert the entire surface of the Earth into strawberry fields. Thus, in its pursuit of a seemingly innocuous goal, an AI could bring about the extinction of humanity purely as an unintended side effect.

This scenario sounds absurd to most people, yet there are a surprising number of technologists who think it illustrates a real danger. Why? Perhaps it’s because they’re already accustomed to entities that operate this way: Silicon Valley tech companies.

(6) CHEERS AND BOOS. Fanac.org has posted a 36-minute video of Robert A. Heinlein’s guest of honor speech at the 1976 Worldcon.

MidAmeriCon, the 34th World Science Fiction Convention, was held in Kansas City in 1976, with Robert A. Heinlein as Guest of Honor. With a warm introduction by Bob Tucker, this sometimes uncomfortable speech touches on Heinlein’s belief in the inevitability of atomic war and his belief that mankind will go to the stars. There are comments on Russia and China, the role of men, and more than a few very bad jokes. You will hear applause and you can hear disapproving boos. If you are one of “Heinlein’s Children”, or simply a reader of classic SF, this video is a rare opportunity to hear that legendary figure.

(More background about the booing is here.)

(7) UNCANNY DINOSAUR ISSUE. The submission window opens in March – read the pitch and complete details here: “Uncanny Magazine Dinosaur Special Issue Guidelines”.

As you may know if you followed the Uncanny Magazine Year 4 Kickstarter, Uncanny Magazine Issue 23 will be a Special Shared-Universe Dinosaur Issue! The planned solicited contributors are:

Do you want to join them? One of the stretch goals was adding two extra unsolicited stories to the issue! We will be open to submissions from March 1- March 15, 2018.

(8) CAPITOL TBR. Former congressman Steve Israel profiles members of Congress in the Washington Post about their favorite books of the year and found Rep. Ted Lieu of California enjoying the Nebula Awards anthology and Rep.Adam Schiff of California reading Pierce Brown’s Red Rising series — “A former congressman asked his old colleagues for book suggestions. Here’s their list.”

(9) TROLLING FOR CLICKS. At NBC News, Noah Berlatsky asks “Is Star Wars’ ‘The Last Jedi’ science fiction? It’s time to settle this age-old argument”. Will anybody take my bet that the argument will not be settled by his op-ed? Or maybe it will, by a kind of cinematic force majeure.

To figure out whether Star Wars is science fiction, you first need to figure out how to define the term — which is harder than you might think. Genres are notoriously difficult to pin down, which is why they spark so many arguments. Some country fans protested loudly when Beyoncé appeared at the Country Music Awards because she (supposedly) was not a country artist. Some critics similarly argued that Bob Dylan’s lyrics are not literature, though the Nobel committee disagreed.

Genre is a marker of quality and belonging, of seriousness and community. Science fiction in particular is often seen as more important or serious than fantasy, so it’s no wonder that there’s been some struggle over how to place the films. George Lucas himself declared that “Star Wars isn’t a science-fiction film, it’s a fantasy film and a space opera” in 2015. Others have also waded in over the years; Annalee Newitz included Star Wars in a list of 10 science-fiction works that are really fantasy at io9, while author Brian Clegg says Star Wars is only “low-grade science-fiction” — it’s not quite real science-fiction, so it’s not high quality.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 18, 1957 The Monolith Monsters premiered.
  • December 18, 1968 Chitty Chitty Bang Bang opens in New York City.
  • December 18, 1985 — Terry Gilliam’s Brazil! was released.
  • December 18, 1996 — Wes Craven’s Scream hits theaters, and a Halloween mask was born.
  • December 18, 2009 – Director James Cameron’s Avatar premiered.
  • December 18, 2013Forbidden Planet (1956) is selected by the Library of Congress for inclusion in the National Film Registry.

(11) TODAY’S  BIRTHDAYS

  • Born December 18, 1939 – Michael Moorcock
  • Born December 18, 1941 – Jack Haldeman
  • Born December 18, 1946  — Steven Spielberg
  • Born December 18 — Steve Davidson

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Mike Kennedy overheard Dilbert talking about a zombie apocalypse.

(13) I HAVE A LITTLE LIST. SyFy Wire’s Swapna Krishna names these as “The 10 best sci-fi and fantasy books of 2017”. People get upset if I say I haven’t heard of all the books on a “best” list, so let me say I have heard of many of these.

(14) THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS 2014. Everyone has their own way of celebrating the holidays. John King Tarpinian’s traditions include rewatching Thug Notes’ analysis of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

(15) THE BIG BUCKS. Speaking of stacks of cheddar — “Star Wars: The Last Jedi takes $450m on opening weekend”.

The movie dwarfed its nearest rival – the computer-animated comedy Ferdinand, which took $13m (£10m).

The total for The Last Jedi includes $220m (£165m) from box offices in the US and Canada, placing the film second in the all-time list for North America.

It trails behind the 2015 release Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which opened with a record-breaking $248m (£185m).

(16) BREATHLESS TAKE. Chuck Wendig launches his review with a long stretch of onomatopoeia: “The Last Jedi: A Mirror, Slowly Cracking”. And how often do you get a chance to use that word?

This will be less a review of The Last Jedi (Episode VIII) than it will be… my thoughts? An analysis? Me opening my head like a flip-top Pac-Men and seeing what globs of brain-goo I can grab and hastily smack into the screen?

Spoilers follow the noises, Wendig warns.

(17) WHAT’S BREWING IN SHORT FICTION. Nerds of a Feather’s Charles Payseur serves “THE MONTHLY ROUND – A Taster’s Guide to Speculative Short Fiction, 11/2017”.

So please, take seat. The flavors on tap this month are perfect for those looking to unwind by the fire, to shed a tear for those who have not made it this far, and to reaffirm a commitment to pushing forward, into a future that is not mired by the same harms and dangers as the past. Each pint today comes with a special side of memories and a tendril of shadow creeping just out of view. The only remedy is to drink deep, and share the moment with those you care about, and look for ways to escape the familiar cycles of hate, loss, and fear—together….

Tasting Flight – November 2017

“An Unexpected Boon” by S.B. Divya (Apex)

Notes: Pouring a dark brown rimmed with gold, the first sip is deep, subtle and smoky like dreams burning, only to reveal newer, sweeter tones underneath, a future still bright despite loss and danger.

Pairs with: Honey Bock

Review: Kalyani is a young (probably autistic) girl who experiences the world quite differently from the rest of her family. It’s something that Aruni, her older brother, finds quite difficult to handle, especially when his parents have left him in charge while they are away. For Kalyani, though, it’s the rest of the world that doesn’t make as much sense, that overflows with threats and dangers…

(18) ON STAGE. It’s live! “The Twilight Zone returns to spook theatergoers”.

In 1959, a groundbreaking TV series began in the USA. The Twilight Zone came to be regarded as a classic of science fiction for the small screen. Now the Almeida Theatre in London is taking eight episodes to make a Twilight Zone for the stage.

(19) YA. A dystopia? Why, that’s just another day in a teenaged life: “Why Teens Find The End Of The World So Appealing”.

“The hallmark of moving from childhood to adulthood is that you start to recognize that things aren’t black and white,” says Ostenson “and there’s a whole bunch of ethical grey area out there.”

Which makes dystopian fiction perfect for the developing adolescent brain, says Laurence Steinberg, a psychologist at Temple University.

“Their brains are very responsive to emotionally arousing stimuli,” he explains. During this time, there are so many new emotions and they are much stronger than those kids experienced when they were younger.

“When teenagers feel sad, what they often do it put themselves in situations where they feel even sadder,” Steinberg says. They listen to sad music — think emo! — they watch melodramatic TV shows. So dystopian novels fit right in, they have all that sadness plus big, emotional ideas: justice, fairness, loyalty and mortality.

This time in a kid’s life is often defined by acting out, but, Steinberg says, that’s a misguided interpretation of what’s happening. “It isn’t so much rebellion, but it is questioning.”

(20) BAD AIR. I remember breathing this stuff at the 2015 Worldcon: “California fires: Sentinel satellite tracks wildfire smoke plume”.

Europe’s new Sentinel-5P satellite has captured a dramatic image of the smoke billowing away from the devastating California wildfires.

It is a powerful demonstration of 5P’s ability to sense the atmosphere.

The plume is seen to sweep westwards out over the Pacific Ocean near Los Angeles and then turn north towards the State of Oregon.

(21) JDA. Jon Del Arroz shares his vision of the controversies he’s engaged in this year with BayCon, Scalzi, Cat Rambo, Chuck Wendig, and some guy who scrolls pixels in “It’s Better To Be My Friend #JDAYourFriend”.

…Where they all screwed up, is that I’m a competent writer who works hard. I’m a competent businessman who markets hard. I don’t take my ball and go home and I’m not deterred from speaking the truth by some threats or someone’s bully pulpit.

And now I’ve got a platform. It’s one a lot of people read on a daily basis. It’s only going to grow bigger in 2018. I’m a well-respected journalist, I’m a multiple-award nominated author with an avid readership. I’m winning. Readers and audiences like winners. Yet not one of these people has come forward and said “you know what, Jon, I shouldn’t have attacked you, let’s be friends.”

(22) TO SMELL THE TRUTH. Hugo-winning editor Gordon Van Gelder had a famous father, Dr. Richard Van Gelder, who tried to stump the panelists on the episode of game show To Tell The Truth aired March 13, 1961. The chairman of the Department of Mammals at the American Museum of Natural History, Van Gelder pere was specially touted as an expert on skunks. The real Van Gelder and two impostors appear at 17:00, and the truth is told right after the 23:00 mark.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/16/17 The Hoboken Pixel Emergency

(1) #MAPPINGFANTASY. Alex Acks and Paul Weimer taught their “Mapping Fantasy” online class today. Cat Rambo tweeted the highlights – jump onto the thread here:

(2) PURINA ALIEN CHOW. Food & Wine investigates “How Hollywood’s Sci-Fi Food Stylists Create Futuristic Meals”.

For Janice Poon, one of TV’s most popular food stylists and a frequent collaborator with Bryan Fuller (American Gods, Hannibal, Pushing Daisies), food styling for the future is as much about taking cues from the script or the world around you as it is about pushing your imaginary limits—within production capability, of course.

Poon refers to the script, pulling the tone and character motivations from a food scene, before brainstorming alongside her showrunner (and sometimes even a cinematographer) on how a spread will look. However, Poon says that “because it is sci-fi, you can do just about anything really.” To do just about anything, Poon uses conventional tools like wet wipes and syringes, but also “an ability to problem solve” and a four and a half inch white ceramic santoku knife that enables Poon to work in the darkness of a set

(3) STRAHAN CALLING. Even as Jonathan Strahan’s 2017 best of the year collection is being readied for publication, he’s looking ahead to 2018 — Call for stories: The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Vol. 13.

I edit The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year anthology series for Solaris Books. The twelfth volume in the series will be published in April 2018, and the thirteenth volume will appear in March 2019.

I am currently reading for the 2018 volume, and am looking for stories from all branches of science fiction and fantasy: space opera to cyberpunk, fairy tales to the slipstream, or anything else that might qualify. If in doubt, please send it.

Eligibility

This is a reprint anthology. Stories must have been published for the first time between 1 January and 31 December 2018 to be considered.

Deadline

The submission deadline for this year’s book is:

1 November 2018

Anything sent after this deadline will reach me too late, as I  deliver the final book to the publisher in late December. If a magazine, anthology, or collection you are in or you edit is coming out before 31 December 2018 please send galleys or manuscripts so that I can consider the stories in time.

(4) GALACTIC STARS. Meanwhile, The Traveler recognizes the best sff of 1962 in See the Stars at Galactic Journey.

Best Novelette

The Ballad of Lost C’Mell, Cordwainer Smith (Galaxy)

The second time an Instrumentality tale has gotten a Star… and this one is better.

(5) CENTENARY PROJECT. The Clarke Award’s’ Kickstarter to fund “2001: An Odyssey in Words” has started. In this original anthology honoring Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s centenary year every story is precisely two thousand and one words long.

The Arthur C. Clarke Award is famous for its annual redefinition of that elusive term ‘science fiction,’ and Sir Arthur was always adamant that while the award may be named for him, it shouldn’t be styled on his work.

We wanted to make sure that the scope of the anthology was as broad as the fluid definition of science fiction for which the Clarke Award is renowned, while still retaining a direct acknowledgement of Sir Arthur’s own work.

The solution? A collection where every story has all the scope and freedom to imagine that an author might possibly want, but where the word count had to be precisely 2001 words (and we had rules about authors playing clever games with super-long story titles, just to make sure).

(5) CLARKE CENTENARY IN SOCIAL MEDIA. Here are tweets from some of the groups celebrating the day.

  • And I applaud Gideon Marcus for staying in character –

(6) RIVALRY. From 2015, Adam Rowe at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog fondly remembers “The Decades-Long Flame War Between Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov”.

While introducing his Asimov at an event in London, Clarke had plenty of time to prepare his choicest insults.

“Well, Isaac, I’ve lost my bet. There are more than five people here,” he opened. “I’m not going to waste any time introducing Isaac Asimov. That would be as pointless as introducing the equator, which indeed, he’s coming to resemble more and more closely.”

(7) SUPERBOOTS ON THE GROUND. Andrew Liptak combed through all sci-fi media and came up with a list of “18 suits of power armor from science fiction you don’t want to meet on the battlefield” in The Verge. Here’s one of them:

Goliath Mk ? Powersuit, James S.A. Corey’s The Expanse

In The Expanse, Mars possesses the most advanced military force in the solar system, and its elite Marines are trained to operate in deep space, onboard spaceships, and planetary surfaces. They come decked out in a powerful suit of armor called the Goliath Powersuit. This armor completely protects its wearer, providing life support and armor, as well as a heads up display to help soldiers with targeting. They also come equipped with guns mounted directly into their arms, and carry a small rack of missiles on their backs.

These suits will resist small arms fire, and are small enough that they can be used inside the narrow corridors of a spaceship. But they’re not invincible, as Bobbie Draper’s Marines discovered on Ganymede during the television show’s second season.

(8) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

Lillian Disney (wife of Walt) came up with the name Mickey Mouse.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 16, 1901 — Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit was first published
  • December 16, 1981 Beach Babes from Beyond premiered.
  • December 16, 2016Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was released.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born December 16, 1775 — Jane Austen
  • Born December 16, 1917 — Arthur C. Clarke
  • Born December 16, 1927 — Randall Garrett
  • Born December 16, 1927 — Peter Dickinson
  • Born December 16, 1928 — Philip K. Dick
  • Born December 16, 1957 — Lenore Jean Jones
  • Born December 16, 1981 — Krysten Ritter (aka Jessica Jones)

(11) SWORD OF LIGHT. In honor of the release of The Last Jedi, Doctor Strangemind’s Kim Huett sent along this quote from Kaldar, World of Antares written by Edmond Hamilton and originally published in 1933:

With the tunic went a belt in which were a sword and a tube such as he had noticed. Merrick examined these weapons of the Corlans carefully. The sword seemed at first glance a simple long rapier of metal. But he found that when his grip tightened on the hilt it pressed a catch which released a terrific force stored in the hilt into the blade, making it shine with light. When anything was touched by this shining blade, he found, the force of the blade annihilated it instantly. He learned that the weapon was called a light-sword, due to the shining of the blade when charged, and saw that it was truly a deadly weapon, its touch alone meaning annihilation to any living thing.

(12) BELIEVE IT OR NOT. The price is unbelievable! “Check out an original ‘Star Wars’ lightsaber valued at $450,000”.

Starting Saturday, and just in time for the release of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” visitors to Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum in Hollywood, California, will be able to see the iconic prop in person.

Ripley’s purchased the saber hilt for a whopping $450,000 at an auction last June held by Profiles in History. The auction house specializes in Hollywood memorabilia and acquired the prop from the collection of Gary Kurtz, a producer on “Star Wars: A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back.” It’s the first time the prop has been put on public display.

(13) LYRICAL MIRACLE. This thread started in 2013 but gets rediscovered every time a new Star Wars movie comes out – begins here:

(14) HURLEY. BEWARE SPOILERS in Kameron Hurley’s review “The Last Jedi: Promises, Pitfalls, and What Sticks With You”. (No spoilers in this excerpt.)

I came out of watching The Last Jedi, and was like, “Well, that was good, but I’m not blown away.” It had a lot of threads; it felt like three movies in one, and cramming all that story into one movie made it feel a little bloated. The story beats weren’t that clockwork structure that The Force Awakens and the original trilogy stuck to. There were a couple of massive emotional moments that needed to be paid off more than we got.

And yet.

And yet this morning I find that I can’t stop thinking about it. Stories are, at their heart, about characters. If I’m invested in the characters and their struggles, you can fall down on plot and no one cares….

(15) I DON’T KNOW IF THIS IS A SPOILER. If it is, don’t read it.

(16) MODERATE PRAISE. The Hugo Award Book Club concluded “The Stone Sky is the echo of a great book”, but they’d still like to give it an award:

The first book in the series, The Fifth Season, was innovative and unique. It offered a refreshing take on science fiction and fantasy that unquestionably deserved the Hugo Award. But The Stone Sky does not stand on its own. It is good, but mostly because it is an echo of a truly great book.

It might be more appropriate to honour N.K. Jemisin with a Best Series Hugo this year, rather than another Best Novel, because that would recognize how The Stone Sky works as part of a larger whole.

(17) SUMMATION. John Crowley’s Ka is a book-length historical fantasy about a crow. The author has been profiled by an area paper: “Conway author’s handwritten ode to birdwatching”.

The book was written while “looking out at Baptist Hill and watching people mow their lawns, and watching crows fly around.” Crowley explained in a recent interview about what went into the makings of “Ka” and how his living in Conway for nearly the last 35 years influenced his work.

The narrator of the novel, “feels like he is living in a country different from where he grew up,” after moving back home, he explained.

Crowley himself grew up in Brattleboro, Vt., moved to Indiana for college, and then New York City for some professional years, where he wrote his critically acclaimed, “Little, Big.” He eventually returned to New England.

Crowley said the narrator of the novel “says to himself that he is surprised by seeing kinds of birds that he doesn’t remember seeing when he was a child … the Canada geese use to fly overhead and still do, but they’re not going south anymore.”

Things like climate change, but also other elements that just sometimes change with generations, have thrown off this narrator.

“Things like that have changed his feelings about the world and saddened him … If I’m going to leave the world, it’s not the world I began in,” Crowley said about the protagonist.

(18) UNIDENTIFIED FLYING TRAILER. Avengers: Infinity War Reality Stone Trailer (2018). Is this a fan trailer or official?

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 12/9/17 All Pixels Great And Small

(1) EVERYBODY’S TALKIN’. Fleen continues its epic roundups about the Patreon controversy and lists the alternatives:

The logic of the decision is, if not in my opinion sound, at least defensible, but Patreon didn’t trust its users enough to defend it. The (best reading) incompetent or (worst reading) dishonest way they treated their user base is a mark that will persist. Kickstarter is smart enough to keep to their plans for Drip, maybe speed things up by 10%, but they won’t rush to open the gates to all; they know that as the invites go ever wider (and when they’re ready, invites are no longer needed), creators that don’t trust Patreon any more will be waiting to shift. Ko-Fi, Venmo, Paypal, Tippeee, Flattr, Google Wallet, and other means of cash transfer are suddenly burning up the search engines.

(2) BOTTOM LINE. Three-time Hugo-winning professional artist Julie Dillon tweeted daggers at Patreon management. Jump onto the thread here:

(3) WITHOUT REPRESENTATION. Rose Lemberg compares the Patreon fee rollout with another fiasco:

(4) WHO VIEW. Here’s the newest Doctor Who Christmas Special trailer.

(5) BRAVE NEW WORDS AWARD CREATED. “Starburst Launches Brave New Words Book Prize”. Nominations are being accepted through the end of the year. Submission guidelines at the link.

STARBURST Magazine, the world’s premier platform for new and exciting genre media, is pleased to announce that it will now have a prize for genre-related writing. The award ceremony will be part of The STARBURST Media City Festival.

The Brave New Words award is for someone who produces break-out literature that is new and bold. We are looking to highlight exciting work that breaks new ground in the field of Cult Entertainment.  Editors, writers, publishers, and bloggers can be nominated. We are looking for works produced in 2017. A shortlist will be announced early 2018 and the winner will be announced at The STARBURST Media City Festival, at Salford Media City 16th – 18th March 2018.

The panel of judges will be announced soon.

(6) ECLECTIC WORKS. The Economist has posted a wide-ranging list of the “Books of the Year 2017” – two fiction titles are of genre interest.

Fiction

Lincoln in the Bardo. By George Saunders. Random House; 368 pages; $28. Bloomsbury; £18.99
Abraham Lincoln’s son dies young and enters a multi-chorus Buddhistic underworld. One of the year’s most original and electrifying novels.

Austral. By Paul McAuley. Gollancz; 288 pages; £14.99
A chase thriller set in late 21st-century Antarctica that combines elements of Jack London, J.G. Ballard and William Gibson. A significant contribution to writing about the anthropocene.

(7) MORE ON COMIC CON LITIGATION. Rob Salkowitz gives Forbes readers a pro-San-Diego spin on the verdict in “Jury Decides For San Diego Comic-Con In Trademark Suit”.

‘David vs. Goliath?’ Farr and Brandenburg also saw advantages in taking their case public, rallying fans to the idea that “comic con” belongs to everyone, not one particular institution. They ran a coordinated campaign on social media including promoted Facebook posts, marshalling an online army of supporters to comment, upvote and retweet their position and paint themselves as altruistic “Davids” standing up to the “Goliath” of SDCC, which is seen by some as the embodiment of commercialism and Hollywood hype.

It was disclosed in court proceedings that the two organizers voted themselves bonuses of $225,000 each as they were mounting a crowdfunding campaign to get fans to pony up for their legal defense. However, the comment threads on SLCC’s posted content indicated that the tactics were effective in mobilizing fan anger.

“Comic-Con is a Brand.” CCI, meanwhile, saved its best lines for the court. They asserted that Comic-Con was a brand recognized to apply exclusively to the San Diego show, and offered in evidence a survey showing that more than 70% of respondents agreed. The validity of the survey was called into question by SLCC attorneys during the trial but the jury appeared to accept it as proof.

“This is a brand that we must protect from these defendants and anyone else who seeks to exploit or hijack it,” Bjurstrom said.

SDCC’s lawyers also asserted the defendants knew this to be the case when they launched their own event, an assertion the jury apparently rejected in their deliberations regarding damages. In filings seeking summary judgment, Comic-Con produced emails and public statements by Farr and Brandenburg boasting of how they sought to “hijack” the media notoriety of SDCC to boost their own event, and settled on the name “comic con” expressly to leverage fan enthusiasm around the festival that draws upwards of 140,000 to San Diego each July and generates billions of media impressions and coverage during its 4-day run.

(8) PAUL WEIMER. Book Smugglers continue their own unique holiday season with “50th Anniversary of The Prisoner – Paul Weimer’s Smugglivus Celebration”.

The Prisoner is the story of an nameless British secret service agent, played by Patrick McGoohan. McGoohan was no stranger to playing spies and secret agents. McGoohan had previously played a British secret service agent, John Drake, in Danger Man. Patrick McGoohan, based on the strength of his performance in that show, had been offered the role of James Bond in Dr. No, but had turned it down. That would have been a rather strange thing if he had accepted, because the no-nonsense John Drake is erudite, thoughtful, not much of a lady chaser and quite different than James Bond in other aspects as well. Whilst filming The Prisoner, McGoohan would also get the role of a British secret agent in the Cold War spy thriller Ice Station Zebra. He also would be asked again, and to turn down again, James Bond, for Live and Let Die.

(9) MOSAIC AUTOBIOGRAPHY. The University of Oregon Libraries’ magazine Building Knowledge has compiled a first-person Ursula K. Le Guin biography [page 20, PDF file] “illustrated with her personal keepsakes, told (mostly) in her own, inimitable words” all drawn from the collections of the UO Libraries.

“If I can draw on the springs of ‘magic,’ it’s because I grew up in a good place, in a good time even though it was the Depression, with parents and siblings who didn’t put me down, who encouraged me to drink from the springs. I was encouraged by my father, by my mother. I was encouraged to be a woman, to be a writer, to be any damn thing I wanted to be.”

Jeffrey Smith sent a note with the link:

It’s a snowy day here in the east, so I’ve been going through the week’s mail. I just received the Fall 2017 issue of the University of Oregon Libraries’ magazine Building Knowledge, and started flipping through it before throwing it out, and found myself reading quite a bit of it. After enjoying the article on the book about Oregon’s marine invertebrates, I continued paging through and was surprised to see an article on Ursula Le Guin (page 20), with some great old family photos (many of which I had seen the last time I was out at UO) — there’s also one on the inside back cover. Then I turned the page and saw my own picture (bottom of page 24).

Guess I won’t be tossing this out after all.

(10) IAN WATSON. An Ian Watson interview at The Bloghole: “Space Marine! And an Interview with a Legend”.

Firstly, Space Marine, and the Inquisition trilogy which started with Draco, were the first “proper” novels set in the Warhammer 40k universe. I know it was a little while ago, but was there much input from Games Workshop at the time, or were you left to your own devices in terms of how you chose to interpret the setting?

[IAN WATSON] Go back quarter of a century and Mr Big was Bryan Ansell, Managing Director/Owner of GW who wanted to read “real” novels by “real” novelists set in his beloved Warhammer domains. As intermediary Bryan hired David Pringle, editor of Britain’s leading SF magazine Interzone, operating from Brighton as GW books. David had already recruited half a dozen authors who regularly contributed stories to Interzone, but no one would touch Warhammer 40K with a bargepole. So it fell to me to read Rogue Trader and many other encyclopedic publications which Nottingham HQ proceeded to send me, including printouts of nonfiction work-in-progress such as the manual of Necromunda, and much else. Bryan Ansell did send me quite a long letter lovingly detailing the sounds which 40K weaponry should make, so that I should be geared up sensually to describe combat. As far as I’m aware (though beware of false memory!) I was given no instructions at all regarding plot or characters and I simply made up the story, within the constraints of what I knew about the 40K universe. I toured the 40K universe, and after a few years the GW games designers decided that they disapproved of a broad approach, compared with single-action novels set on single worlds. (Those are more compatible with games, of course.)

(11) NEW LEADERSHIP FOR WADE CENTER. The Marion E. Wade Center of Wheaton College, Illinois is a major research collection of materials by and about seven British authors: Owen Barfield, G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, Dorothy L. Sayers, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams. The college has announced who the new directors of the Center will be: “Introducing Newly Named Wade Co-Directors Crystal and David C. Downing”.

Dr. Crystal Downing is currently Distinguished Professor of English and Film Studies at Messiah College, PA. She has published on a variety of topics, with much of her recent scholarship focused on the relationship between cultural theory and religious faith. Her first book, Writing Performances: The Stages of Dorothy L. Sayers (Palgrave Macmillan 2004) received an international award from the Dorothy L. Sayers Society in Cambridge, England in 2009. The thought of Sayers and C.S. Lewis is evident in Crystal’s next two books, How Postmodernism Serves (My) Faith (IVP Academic 2006) and Changing Signs of Truth (IVP Academic 2012). The success of her fourth book, Salvation from Cinema (Routledge 2016) has led to her current book project, The Wages of Cinema: Looking through the Lens of Dorothy L. Sayers. Crystal has received a number of teaching awards and was the recipient of the Clyde S. Kilby Research Grant for 2001 from the Wade Center.

Dr. David Downing currently serves as the R.W. Schlosser Professor of English at Elizabethtown College, PA. He has published widely on C.S. Lewis, including Planets in Peril: A Critical Study of C.S. Lewis’s Ransom Trilogy (UMass 1992), The Most Reluctant Convert: C.S. Lewis’s Journey to Faith (IVP 2002), which was awarded the Clyde S. Kilby Research Grant for 2000, Into the Region of Awe: Mysticism in C.S. Lewis (IVP 2005), and Into the Wardrobe: C.S. Lewis and the Narnia Chronicles (Jossey-Bass 2005)….

They follow Wade founder and first director Clyde S. Kilby (1965–1980), director Lyle W. Dorsett (1983–1990), and director Christopher W. Mitchell (1994–2013).

(12) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 9, 1983  — John Carpenter’s adaptation of Stephen King’s Christine premieres.

(13) MAKE THE KESSEL RUN IN 13 STEPS. You could make this. Disney Family has the recipe: “Nothing Says the Holidays Like a Millennium Falcon Gingerbread Starship”. The final step is —

Attach the cockpit (piece #3). Then start decorating the Millennium Falcon! Use frosting to outline the ship, add details, and attach cookies, chocolate wafers, peppermints, chocolates, and candies.

(14) THE GAME IS SLOW AFOOT. The Hollywood Reporter knows “Why ‘Game of Thrones’ Won’t Return Until 2019”.

At least one more full winter will pass until the winter of Westeros arrives one last time, as the final season of Thrones will not arrive until 2019. Production on the eighth and final season began in October and will reportedly run through August 2018 — a full year following the season seven finale, all but dashing any prospects for Thrones‘ arrival in the next calendar year.

“Our production people are trying to figure out a timeline for the shoot and how much time the special effects take,” HBO programming president Casey Bloys told The Hollywood Reporter over the summer about the long wait between seasons of Thrones. “The shooting is complicated enough — on different continents, with all the technical aspects — and the special effects are a whole other production period that we’re trying to figure out. That is a big factor in all of this.”

(15) VERSE ON THE WEB. Here’s the teaser trailer for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Enter a universe where more than one wears the mask. Watch the Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse trailer now, in theaters next Christmas

 

(16) DEL TORO DEL MAR. Now that it’s officially out, NPR’s Chris Klimek says  The Shape of Water is An Elegant Fable Of Starfish-Crossed Lubbers”.

The Shape of Water, the latest R-rated fairy tale from Mexican auteur Guillermo del Toro, offers a sense of what might spawn if those two Rimbaldi feature-creatures were to mate. The Spielbergian gentleness wins out, by a lot, making for a hybrid that’s just a little too cuddly to rate with The Devil’s Backbone or Pan’s Labyrinth, del Toro’s twin masterpieces. I wish his new film had spent at least a little time being frightening before it phased into aching and swooning; with its lush evocation of longing amid gleaming midcentury diners and cinemas and Cadillacs, SoW sometimes feels like The Carol of the Black Lagoon. But it’s a transporting, lovingly made specimen of escapism — if it’s possible for a movie that depicts a powerful creep blithely abusing women in the workplace to count as escapism — and easily the strongest of del Toro’s seven English-language features, though it spin-kicks less vampire butt than Blade II did. To place yourself in GDT’s hands, as he tells the type of story he tells better than anyone else, is a rich pleasure.

(17) BOUNCING MATILDA. Can you hear this GIF? BBC explores “Why some people can hear this silent gif”. “An optical illusion for the ears” –apparently not new, but it’s news again.

Dr DeBruine received more then 245,000 responses from people claiming to hear a sound accompanying the animation, with 70 per cent of respondents saying they could hear a thudding sound.

(18) DISSECTING ANOTHER HOLIDAY. Having vented about Thanksgiving in the first, John C. Wright’s second Dangeous column is: “It’s Not Just the Décor. Why the Left Truly Hates Christmas”.

In the culture of life, life is a gift from the hand of the Creator. It is not ours to decide to keep or to destroy. In the culture of life, your life is not your own.

This means your unborn daughter or your grandmother in the terminal ward can live, despite any pragmatic, dead-eyed, empty-hearted, cost-cutting reason to murder her.

That is the end goal of all of this. The end goal is a black mass where innocent life is sacrificed. Nothing is sacred but the whim of Caesar. No one prospers, but Moloch feeds.

Yes, strange as it sounds, that is what is at stake.

The War on Christmas is a war by the unhuman against the human.

(19) END GAME. Bob Byrne tells “the story of how TSR destroyed one of the greatest wargaming companies in history” in “Simulations Publications Inc: The TSR Incursion” at Black Gate.

The death blow came in 1982 and it would be delivered by Brian Blume, who initially looked like a white knight. Well, at least a moderately gray one. Wagner and SPI secured a $425,000 loan from TSR, secured by its assets and intellectual properties (uh oh!).

The majority of the loan was used to repay the venture capitalists, which eliminated that problem, but it was the modern day equivalent of getting an advance on your credit card to pay down the existing balance on another credit card. You still have to pay off that second credit card advance.

Only two weeks later, TSR called in the loan, which SPI had absolutely zero ability to pay back. TSR announced in March that it had “initiated a legal and economic chain of events” to buy SPI. Once it realized the company’s debt situation, it backed off of that and stated that TSR had acquired the company’s assets, but not its debts. I’m still not sure how TSR got away with that.

WOW! How can you look at it in any other light than that TSR lent the money so it could immediately foreclose on SPI and acquire all its games? I mean, yeesh.

(20) NEW ART EXHIBIT. Tove Jansson is profiled by Dominic Green in The New Criterion. “Adventures in Moominland”. “Tove Jansson” opened at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, on October 25, 2017 and remains on view through January 28, 2018.

It was a Swedish actress, Greta Garbo, who said she wanted to be alone, and a Swedish director, Ingmar Bergman, who documented what it felt like. It was, however, Tove Jansson (1914–2001), a Swedish-speaking Finn, who may have produced the most truthful record of the inner life of postwar Scandinavia. Best known in the English-speaking world as the illustrator of the Moomintroll comic strips, Jansson was also a painter, cartoonist, and writer of stories for children and adults. In Scandinavia, the breadth of her work is common knowledge. The Helsinki Art Museum contains a permanent Jansson gallery, and sends visitors out on a “Life Path of Tove” sculpture trail around her hometown. There is even a Moomin Museum in nearby Tampere, featuring the Moominhouse, a five-story doll’s house that Jansson built. And posthumously, the Moominlegend has incorporated Jansson’s complex and often unhappy private life.

“Tove Jansson,” now at London’s Dulwich Picture Gallery, is a comprehensive survey, and the first Jansson exhibition designed for a foreign audience

(21) LATE NIGHT LAST NIGHT. Lost ‘Star Wars’ Footage Of Luke Skywalker At The Cantina.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Diana Glyer, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Ed Fortune, Jeff Smith, Chip Hitchcock, Stephen Burridge, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 12/6/17 Pixels Came Naturally From Paris, For Scrolls She Couldn’t Care Less

(1) MANIFESTO. Charles Payseur’s thought-provoking tweets about reviewing begin here —

Some of the points he makes include —

(2) THIS IS HORROR AWARDS. Public nominations are now open for the seventh annual This Is Horror Awards.  Click on the link for eligibility and other information: “This Is Horror Awards 2017: Public Nominations Are Open”. Here are the categories:

  • Novel of the Year
  • Novella of the Year
  • Short Story Collection of the Year
  • Anthology of the Year
  • Fiction Magazine of the Year
  • Publisher of the Year
  • Fiction Podcast of the Year
  • Nonfiction Podcast of the Year

Public nominations close at 12:01 a.m. PST on 22 December 2017. 

(3) DUFF. Yesterday’s announcement that they’re looking for Down Under Fan Fund candidates included a statement that the delegate will go to the Worldcon “or another major convention in North America in 2018.” I asked Paul Weimer, is that a change? Paul replied —

The intention for this is two fold–one to provide, in future years for situations in years where Worldcon is not in North America (if the 2020 NZ bid wins, for example, this will be an issue), and also to provide for the possibility that the winning delegate wants to focus on, say, Cancon, or another major SF con in the United States.

We expect that its almost certain that any winning delegate will want to go to Worldcon, but this provides flexibility in that regard.

(4) GREAT FANZINE. Australian faned Bruce Gillespie has released a new 90,000-word issue of SF Commentary. Download from eFanzines:

Cover by Ditmar (Dick Jenssen).

Major articles by John Litchen (the second part of ‘Fascinating Mars’) and Colin Steele (his usual book round up ‘The Field’), as well as articles by Tim Train and Yvonne Rousseau.

Major tribute to 2017 Chandler Award-winning Bill Wright by LynC and Dick Jenssen, and memories of Brian Aldiss, David J. Lake, Jack Wodhams, Randy Byers, Joyce Katz, among others.

Lots of lively conversations featuring such SFC correspondents as Michael Bishop, Leigh Edmonds, Robert Day, Patrick McGuire, Matthew Davis, Doug Barbour, Ray Wood, Larry Bigman, and many others.

(5) REZONING. The Twilight Zone is coming back. At The Verge, Andrew Liptak reports “Jordan Peele will resurrect The Twilight Zone for CBS All Access”.

The granddaddy of surreal, science fiction television anthologies is returning. CBS announced today that it has issued a series order for a revival of The Twilight Zone from Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions and Simon Kinberg’s Genre Films for its All Access streaming service.

Peele and Kinberg, along with Marco Ramirez (Marvel’s The Defenders), will serve as executive producers on the show and will “collaborate on the premiere episode.” CBS has yet to announce a release date, casting, or any other writers attached to the project. Like Star Trek: Discovery, however, the show is destined as exclusive content for the network’s paid streaming service, CBS All Access.

(6) ON BOARD. How appropriate that The Traveler at Galactic Journey has found a way to kill time! “[December 6, 1962] How to Kill Friends and Influence People (The game, Diplomacy)”.

Ah, but here’s the tricky bit.  Turns are divided into two segments.  The latter is the one just described, where players write their marching orders.  The former is a 15-minute diplomacy segment.  This is the period in which players discuss their plans, try to hatch alliances, attempt to deceive about intentions.  It is virtually impossible to win the game without help on the way up; it is completely impossible to win without eventually turning on your allies.  Backstabbery is common, even necessary.  Honesty is a vice.

Diplomacy is, thus, not a nice game.  In fact, I suspect this game will strike rifts between even the best chums.  So why play at all?  Why suffer 4-12 hours of agony, especially when you might well be eliminated within the first few turns, left to watch the rest of your companions pick over your bones?

Well, it’s kind of fun.

(7) TREACHERY IN THE PRESENT. Meanwhile, here in 2017, holiday gift shoppers might want to pick up the “CLUE®: Game of Thrones™ Exclusive Expansion”.

Add more treachery and betrayal and create an all-new game play experience while solving the mysteries in Game of Thrones Clue with this  special exclusive expansion that includes two additional character suspects and power cards as well as beautifully gold-finished weapons.

Really, though, for a genuine Game of Thrones experience it would have to be possible for all the suspects to be murdered in the same game.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 6, 1979 Star Trek: The Motion Picture premiered.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY COUNTRY

  • Born December 6, 1917 — Finland

(10) COMICS SECTION. Brian Kesinger, a veteran visual artist for Disney and Marvel, has created Watterson-style mashups that merge The Force Awakens characters with Calvin and Hobbes. “Disney Illustrator Combines Star Wars And Calvin & Hobbes, And The Result Is Adorable” at Bored Panda.

(11) HAIR TODAY. Interesting how movie marketing works now. A trailer for the new Jurassic World sequel will be out Thursday, heralded by a 16-second teaser, and this behind-the-scenes featurette. SciFiNow.uk claims, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom featurette has loads of new footage and freaking out”.

Ahead of the trailer release tomorrow, a new featurette has arrived for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom which features lots of new footage and plenty of the cast and crew freaking out about how awesome the film is going to be. And Jeff Goldblum’s got a beard.

 

(12) GARY FISHER IN LAST JEDI, TOO. The cat is out of the bag, and so is the dog: “Carrie Fisher’s Beloved Dog, Gary, Will Appear in ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi'”.

During the press tour for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Carrie Fisher’s therapy dog, Gary, became an internet sensation as the late actress took him everywhere for interviews and red carpets. Now, an eagle-eyed fan discovered that Gary will be making an Easter egg cameo in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which director Rian Johnson has confirmed.

Twitter user Clair Henry found a promotion still for the movie in which Finn (John Boyega) and Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) face off at a galactic casino. On the left side of the screen, you can see a strange brown creature looking directly at the camera. That’s Gary, touched up with CGI to look like an alien pet.

(13) HELLO . A special wine collection is back in time for the season: “‘Hello Kitty’ Wine Returns In Time For The Holidays”.  The five-bottle collection goes for around $150, but you can also buy individual bottles.

The Hello Kitty wines by Torti “L’Eleganza del Vino” returns to the U.S. with new supercute designs and two new blends. Now including an award-winning Pinot Noir, a “Sweet Pink” blend, Sparkling Rosé, Pinot Nero Vinified in White, as well as a special edition Sparkling Rosé with limited edition packaging.

 

(14) CAN’T FACE IT. Forget Sad Puppies: “Sad poop emoji gets flushed after row”.

Plans to introduce a “frowning pile of poo” emoji have been flushed from the latest proposals by the group in charge of creating the symbols.

The symbol was floated as one of many to be introduced in 2018, but it angered typographers who said it was “embarrassing” to the group.

The Unicode Consortium pushes out a central list of emoji so that they show up properly on different devices.

It said changes to the “pile of poo” emoji had not been totally dumped.

Chip Hitchcock sent the link with a comment: “IME, the Unicode Consortium can be very random; around the time I started working with character storage, their principles sniffily declared that they were encoding only live characters, and would therefore not do Glagolitic (the alphabet that Cyril’s students developed into Cyrillic) — but they already had Tolkien’s Elvish alphabet(s?). They later relented, don’t ask me why.”

(15) ALL THEY’RE CRACKED UP TO BE. The BBC answers the question, “Why clowns paint their faces on eggs”. Pratchett fans may remember this was a plot point in at least one of his books.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of Faint’s collection, though, are the eggs. Each one is different, and represents the unique face design of its subject. Eggs like these are kept in only a handful of collections around the world, representing a kind of informal copyright – and much more.

(16) TREE SLEEPER. Older human: “Little Foot skeleton unveiled in South Africa”. 500,000 years older than Lucy — same species, different genus.

One of the oldest and most complete skeletons of humankind’s ancestors has been unveiled in South Africa.

A team spent more than 20 years excavating, cleaning and putting together the skeleton of Little Foot.

Its exact age is debated, but South African scientists say the remains are 3.67 million years old.

(17) BLACK MIRROR. Netflix has released a full trailer for Black Mirror Season 4. The release date is December 29.

(18) LE GUIN. At Electric Literature, “Ursula K. Le Guin Explains How to Build a New Kind of Utopia”:

…Good citizens of utopia consider the wilderness dangerous, hostile, unlivable; to an adventurous or rebellious dystopian it represents change and freedom. In this I see examples of the intermutability of the yang and yin: the dark mysterious wilderness surrounding a bright, safe place, the Bad Places?—?which then become the Good Place, the bright, open future surrounding a
dark, closed prison . . . Or vice versa.

In the last half century this pattern has been repeated perhaps to exhaustion, variations on the theme becoming more and more predictable, or merely arbitrary.

(19) SPACE COMMAND. Four days left in the Space Command: Redemption Kickstarter. Congratulations to Marc Zicree — they made their goal, and two stretch goals. To celebrate —

A scene from Space Command: Redemption in which Yusef (Robert Picardo) repairs a broken synthetic named For (Doug Jones). For more information about this new sci-fi series, follow this link:

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Rob Thornton, Cat Eldridge, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Speaking of Seeger

By John Hertz:  Having happened to enlighten Our Gracious Host about Pete Seeger’s “Wimoweh” (1957) and the Tokens’ hit “The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh)” (1961), “wimoweh” a mis-hearing of Zulu “uyimbube” (“you’re a lion”), I thought further about how Paul Weimer heard it.

Weimer was this year’s Down Under Fan Fund delegate, and having been there and back again is now the North America Administrator for DUFF.

I was ecstatic to learn in August he’d promptly published his trip report.

After some commotion I got a copy from him, not by “downloading” but a realio trulio paper copy which I without citizenship in Electronicland could read.  It was 300 pages, printed on one side only, to a great extent photographs (very beautiful, some of them) without labels, through which I searched agonizingly. So much for Michelangelo.

However the fact remains that I still haven’t published my own report from 2010, though I did send a note here.

Thus by way of applause we might sing:

Going down under, the Fan Fund Down Under,
Paul Weimer went tonight.

A Weimer went, a Weimer went,
A Weimer went, a Weimer went.

’Cross the ocean, the peaceful ocean,
Paul Weimer went tonight.
’Cross the ocean, the quiet ocean,
Paul Weimer went tonight.

A Weimer went, a Weimer went,
A Weimer went, a Weimer went.

“Three hundred pages!” the no-’Net man rages;
Paul Weimer’s back tonight.

A Weimer went, a Weimer went,
A Weimer went, a Weimer went.

Who’s from down under, who’s next from down under?
Paul Weimer went last time.
Who’ll go to Worldcon, the San Jose Worldcon?
Paul Weimer went last time.

                                            

Alas, though none of us three knew it, Mitch Margo (1947-2017), who was 14 when as one of the Tokens he recorded “The Lion”, had died on November 24th, age 70.  R.I.P.