Pixel Scroll 1/16/18 You Were Scrolling As A Pixel In A Sci-Fi File When I Met You

(1) VAN GELDER AUCTION BENEFITS PKD AWARD. Norwescon announced that Gordon Van Gelder, administrator for the Philip K. Dick Award, has put 18 sff books up for auction on eBay, including several first editions and signed editions (and some signed first editions), as a benefit for the award’s administrative fees. The Philip K. Dick Award, is presented annually to distinguished science fiction books published for the first time in the United States as a paperback original. The award ceremony is held each year at Norwescon.

(2) SECOND TAKE. Strange Horizons got some pushback about sexism in Adam Roberts’ review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and has now supplemented the original with an edited version —

Editor’s note: This review has been edited to remove sexist commentary about Carrie Fisher. The original version of this review can be read here. For additional background, please see this Twitter thread.

(3) TRUE GRIT. The BBC reports on “Transport Scotland’s fleet of gritters and their gritter tracker”. Contractors Bear Scotland ran competitions to name the various vehicles, and what roads they’re covering can be viewed online.

Thanks to social media, Transport Scotland’s fleet of light-flashing, salt-spraying kings of the road have become a bit of a sensation.

Followers have been glued to their screens following the roads authority’s Gritter Tracker.

They were surprised to find out the vehicles had humorous names like Sir Andy Flurry, Sir Salter Scott and Gritty Gritty Bang Bang….

The force was with the people of Ayrshire during Tuesday’s snow flurries, their roads were being protected by Luke Snowalker.

Along with strong snow-slaying names like the Ice Destroyer, Snow Queen and Ice Buster, more unassuming gritters like Fred, Jack and Frosty have also been out and about keeping the country moving.

Not forgetting Sprinkles, Sparkle and Ready Spready Go.

(4) ANOTHER HORRIFIC LESSON. Chloe N. Clark continues the excellent Horror 101 series with “Surrounded by Others–Anatomy of a Pod Person” at Nerds of a Feather.

As a child, two of my earliest film-related memories are watching the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and watching the John Carpenter version of The Thing. In both, what stuck with child me was the depiction of a monster who not only could be anyone, but also could be someone that you think you know so well: your crewmate, your friend, your lover. This early exposure to these two films led to a longtime obsession with pod people (which the Thing is not technically, but I’m extending my definition here to any monster who can appear in the exact visage of someone you know and trust). As a child, there was a visceral terror to the idea, because the world was one I trusted. As an adult, while I don’t think pod people are likely, they still strike a certain fear because the concept at the heart of pod people’s terror-making is very much real. In this edition of Horror 101, I’ll be diving into the anatomy of a monster (a thing I’ll do occasionally in this series).

(5) ABOUT THAT VENN DIAGRAM. Sarah at Bookworm Blues was caught up in a kerfuffle yesterday, and analyzes the underlying issues in “On Twitter and Representation”.

While most of the comments I received yesterday were displaying the righteous indignation I’m still feeling, there were a handful of others that made their way to me through various means that said something along the lines of, “I just love reading SciFi and Fantasy. I don’t pay attention to the gender of the author.” Or “Does the gender of the author even matter?”

Comments like that bother me about as much as, “I don’t see your disabilities.” Or “I don’t see color.”

As much as I don’t want to be defined by my chronic illness, or my disabilities, they absolutely are part of who I am, and by refusing to see them, you are, in a way, refusing to see me. You’re only seeing pieces of me. Not seeing my disability doesn’t make it go away. Putting me in a box will limit the reaches of my work, rather than expand it.

In another example, women tend to get paid less than men here in the good ol’ US of A, and not seeing the gender roles in that situation, is refusing to see the problem.

Representation matters. It matters for a hell of a lot of reasons. It is important to show young kids everywhere that they can be, do, accomplish whatever they set their minds to. Seeing disabled characters in literature normalizes disabilities in important ways. It provides education to those who might need it. It also gives me someone I can relate to in the books I read, and that right there is absolutely priceless.

This graphic that I posted yesterday doesn’t just have a dearth of female authors on it, but it also lacks any people of color, disabled authors, LGBTQ authors and basically any minority group at all. It’s a list of white male fantasy authors…

and Robin Hobb.

This is important because, I get pretty fed up with women authors putting out work that’s just as good, if not better, than their male counterparts and not getting equal recognition for it. This isn’t a Divide and Conquer thing, it’s a We’re all in it Together thing. Someone’s effort shouldn’t be seen or overlooked based on any of their minority or majority qualifiers. The fact that when asked for a list of fantasy authors the first ones someone gets are white male, says a whole lot. And the truth is, I think this inequality is so ingrained in our culture that it really isn’t even noticed until something like this happens. Maybe we don’t mean for this to happen, but in a way, the fact that this happens without malice or intent makes it just that much more insidious.

Women have basically cleaned the clock in the past few Hugo Awards, and where are they on charts like this? One of the most awarded, celebrated authors in our genre today is N.K. Jemisin, a black female fantasy author, and she deserves recognition for her accomplishments, but where is it in a list like this, and why in the world didn’t her name come up when someone was polling Twitter for fantasy authors? Nnedi Okorafor is getting her book Who Fears Death turned into a television show, and I’ve seen her name, her image, herself routinely cut off from many articles. Namely, when Vice News tweeted about this deal, and the graphic that followed wasn’t of the author who wrote the book, but of George R R Martin, and the book cover….

And today an alternate version is making the rounds –

(6) JACKET. Neil Gaiman’s cover reveal for the U.S. paperback.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 16, 1939 — The comic strip Superman first appeared in newspapers.
  • January 16, 1995 Star Trek: Voyager premiered.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born January 16, 1948 – John Carpenter celebrated his 70th birthday today – no matter what you may have read. Entertainment Weekly caught the competition’s mistake in listing him as deceased.

Happy birthday John Carpenter! Rotten Tomatoes has some bad news…

The mega-popular film review aggregation site mistakenly declared veteran film director dead Tuesday in a since-deleted tweet.

The 70-year-old horror icon is very much alive, though RT seemed to have a different impression when it honored the Halloween and The Thing director’s birthday…

(9) SEARCHING FOR A SIGN. Further Confusion was held this past weekend in San Jos and they have lost track of a convention icon —

(10) CATAPOSTROPHE. Apparently Kazakhstan is switching from the Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet, and the result is loaded with apostrophes, so the words look like they came from a bad SF novel. The New York Times has the story: “Kazakhstan Cheers New Alphabet, Except for All Those Apostrophes”.

In his 26 years as Kazakhstan’s first and only president, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev has managed to keep a resurgent Russia at bay and navigate the treacherous geopolitical waters around Moscow, Beijing and Washington, keeping on good terms with all three capitals.

The authoritarian leader’s talent for balancing divergent interests, however, suddenly seems to have deserted him over an issue that, at first glance, involves neither great power rivalry nor weighty matters of state: the role of the humble apostrophe in writing down Kazakh words.

The Kazakh language is currently written using a modified version of Cyrillic, a legacy of Soviet rule, but Mr. Nazarbayev announced in May that the Russian alphabet would be dumped in favor of a new script based on the Latin alphabet. This, he said, “is not only the fulfillment of the dreams of our ancestors, but also the way to the future for younger generations.”

…The modified Latin alphabet put forward by Mr. Nazarbayev uses apostrophes to elongate or modify the sounds of certain letters.

For example, the letter “I” with an apostrophe designates roughly the same sound as the “I” in Fiji, while “I” on its own sounds like the vowel in fig. The letter “S” with an apostrophe indicates “sh” and C’ is pronounced “ch.” Under this new system, the Kazakh word for cherry will be written as s’i’i’e, and pronounced she-ee-ye.

(11) ON TONIGHT’S JEOPARDY! Rich Lynch says the game show Jeopardy! included an Asimov clue in the first round of tonight’s episode, mentioning the Hugo Award. The returning champ got it right!

(12) WHERE’S THE BEEF? Astronaut John Young, who recently died, once got in trouble for smuggling a corned beef sandwich on a space mission.

Gemini 3 had several objectives, from testing the effect of zero gravity on sea urchin eggs to testing orbital maneuvers in a manned spacecraft, which would aid the future moon landing. But another imperative was to test new space foods. Grissom and Young were sent up with dehydrated packets that they were meant to reconstitute with a water gun.

According to Young’s biography, “A couple of congressmen became upset, thinking that, by smuggling in the sandwich and eating part of it, Gus and I had ignored the actual space food that we were up there to evaluate, costing the country millions of dollars.” The House Appropriations Committee convened to mull over the sandwich incident, and one representative even harangued a NASA administrator, calling the sandwich stunt “just a little bit disgusting.”

Young was given a reprimand, the first ever for a member of a NASA space flight. He eventually regretted smuggling the sandwich into space, especially as the story came up over and over. But Grissom remembered it as “one of the highlights of the flight.” Grissom himself was in hot water for nicknaming Gemini 3’s spacecraft Molly Brown after the musical “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” (Grissom’s first space flight ended with his capsule sinking into the ocean after re-entry.) Grissom forced irritated NASA administrators to back down after he suggested the name “Titanic” as an alternative.

(13) STARGAZING. From the BBC, “Hubble scores unique close-up view of distant galaxy”.

The Hubble telescope has bagged an unprecedented close-up view of one of the Universe’s oldest known galaxies.

Astronomers were lucky when the orbiting observatory captured the image of a galaxy that existed just 500 million years after the Big Bang.

The image was stretched and amplified by the natural phenomenon of gravitational lensing, unlocking unprecedented detail.

Such objects usually appear as tiny red spots to powerful telescopes.

(14) RATS ACQUITTED! New simulations show “Black Death ‘spread by humans not rats'”.

“We have good mortality data from outbreaks in nine cities in Europe,” Prof Nils Stenseth, from the University of Oslo, told BBC News.

“So we could construct models of the disease dynamics [there].”

He and his colleagues then simulated disease outbreaks in each of these cities, creating three models where the disease was spread by:

  • rats
  • airborne transmission
  • fleas and lice that live on humans and their clothes

In seven out of the nine cities studied, the “human parasite model” was a much better match for the pattern of the outbreak.

(15) RARE CASES. BBC considers “The mystery of why some people become sudden geniuses”. Chip Hitchcock notes, “Readers of old-time SF may recall H. L. Gold’s ‘The Man with English.’”

But until recently, most sensible people agreed on one thing: creativity begins in the pink, wobbly mass inside our skulls. It surely goes without saying that striking the brain, impaling it, electrocuting it, shooting it, slicing bits out of it or depriving it of oxygen would lead to the swift death of any great visions possessed by its owner.

As it happens, sometimes the opposite is true.

After the accident, Muybridge eventually recovered enough to sail to England. There his creativity really took hold. He abandoned bookselling and became a photographer, one of the most famous in the world. He was also a prolific inventor. Before the accident, he hadn’t filed a single patent. In the following two decades, he applied for at least 10.

In 1877 he took a bet that allowed him to combine invention and photography. Legend has it that his friend, a wealthy railroad tycoon called Leland Stanford, was convinced that horses could fly. Or, more accurately, he was convinced that when they run, all their legs leave the ground at the same time. Muybridge said they didn’t.

To prove it he placed 12 cameras along a horse track and installed a tripwire that would set them off automatically as Stanford’s favourite racing horse, Occident, ran. Next he invented the inelegantly named “zoopraxiscope”, a device which allowed him to project several images in quick succession and give the impression of motion. To his amazement, the horse was briefly suspended, mid-gallop. Muybridge had filmed the first movie – and with it proven that yes, horses can fly.

The abrupt turnaround of Muybridge’s life, from ordinary bookseller to creative genius, has prompted speculation that it was a direct result of his accident. It’s possible that he had “sudden savant syndrome”, in which exceptional abilities emerge after a brain injury or disease. It’s extremely rare, with just 25 verified cases on the planet

(16) KEVIN SMITH’S RATIONALE. Sebastian Paris, in “‘Star Wars’: Kevin Smith Weighs In On The Backlash Against ‘The Last Jedi’” on Heroic Hollywood, says that Smith, in his Fatman on Batman podcast, says that one reason many fans were disappointed with The Last Jedi was that they expected Luke Skywalker to be like Obi-Wan Kenobi and were disappointed when he turned out to be someone else.

(17) 2017 IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR. Rich Lynch’s 19th issue of My Back Pages [PDF file] is now online at the eFanzines.com website:

Issue #19 absolutely deplores the undearly departed 2017 as one terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year, and has essays involving historic mansions, convincing re-enactors, subway cars, Broadway shows, urban renewal, pub food, deadly duels, famous composers, iconic catchphrases, tablet computers, 1930s comic books, noir-ish buildings, foreboding edifices, unpaid interns, jams & singalongs, storm warnings, ancient palace grounds, Buddhist temples, worrisome fortunes, sushi adventures, retirement plans, and lots of Morris Dancers.

(18) MUNDANE COMMERCIALS, WHAT ELSE? Should you run out of things to watch, there’s always this collection of Dos Equis “The Most Interesting Man In the World” ads – at least 8 minutes worth.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Richard Williams–Animating Movement is a piece on Vimeo by the Royal Ocean Film Society that describes the techniques of the great Canadian animator whose best known work is the Pink Panther and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, IanP, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Greg Hullender, Martin Morse Wooster, Rich Lynch, ULTRAGOTHA, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

2018 Philip K. Dick Award Nominees Announced

The judges of the 2018 Philip K. Dick Award and the Philadelphia SF Society, along with the Philip K. Dick Trust, have announced the seven nominated works that comprise the final ballot for the award:

  • The Book of Etta by Meg Elison (47North)
  • Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty (Orbit)
  • After the Flare by Deji Bryce Olukotun (The Unnamed Press)
  • The Wrong Stars by Tim Pratt (Angry Robot)
  • Revenger Alastair Reynolds (Orbit)
  • Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • All Systems Red by Martha Wells (Tor.com)

First prize and any special citations will be announced on Friday, March 30, 2018 at Norwescon 41 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Seattle Airport, SeaTac, Washington.

The Philip K. Dick Award is presented annually with the support of the Philip K. Dick Trust for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States during the previous calendar year.

The award is sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and the Philip K. Dick Trust. The award ceremony is sponsored by the Northwest Science Fiction Society.

Last year’s winner was The Mercy Journals by Claudia Casper (Arsenal Press Publications) with a special citation to Unpronounceable by Susan DiRende (Aqueduct Press).

The 2017 judges are Deborah J. Ross (chair), Robert Onopa, James Stoddard, Amy Thomson, and Rick Wilber.

2017 Philip K. Dick Award Judges Announced

The five Philip K. Dick Award judges for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original format in the United States during the 2017 award year are:

  • Robert Onopa
  • Deborah J. Ross
  • James Stoddard
  • Amy Thomson
  • Rick Wilber

The Philip K. Dick Award is presented annually with the support of the Philip K. Dick Trust for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States. The award is sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society.

The 2017 winner will be announced in 2018 at Norwescon, hosted by the Northwest Science Fiction Society.

2017 Philip K. Dick Award Winner

The 2017 Philip K. Dick Award winner is the Mercy Journals by Claudia Casper.

Also, a Special Citation was given to Unpronounceable by Susan diRende (Aqueduct Press).

The award is given for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form for the first time during 2016 in the United States.

The winner was announced April 14 at Norwescon 40 in SeaTac, WA.

The Philip K. Dick Award is presented annually with the support of the Philip K. Dick Trust for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States. The award is sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society.

The 2016 judges were Michael Armstrong, Brenda Clough, Meg Elison, Lee Konstantinou, and Ben Winters.

This a beautiful sight. 2017 Philip K Dick Awards. #nwc40

A post shared by Kristy Acevedo (@kristyacevedo) on

2017 Philip K. Dick Award Shortlist

The six finalists for the 2017 Philip K. Dick Award have been announced.

The award judges are Michael Armstrong (chair), Brenda Clough, Meg Elison, Lee Konstantinou, and Ben Winters.

The Philip K. Dick Award is presented annually with the support of the Philip K. Dick Trust for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States during the previous calendar year.  The award is sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and the Philip K. Dick Trust and the award ceremony is sponsored by the Northwest Science Fiction Society.

First prize and any special citations will be announced on Friday, April 14, 2017 at Norwescon 40 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Seattle Airport, SeaTac, Washington.

[Via SF Site News.]

2016 Philip K. Dick Award Winner Announced

The 2016 Philip K. Dick Award winner is Apex by Ramez Naam (Angry Robot Books). And a special citation was given to Archangel by Marguerite Reed (Arche Press).

The award is given for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form for the first time during 2015 in the United States.

The winner was announced March 25 at Norwescon 39 in SeaTac, WA.

The Philip K. Dick Award is presented annually with the support of the Philip K. Dick Trust for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States. The award is sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society.

The 2015 judges were Eric James Fullilove, James C. Glass, David M. Higgins, Lisa Mason (chair), and Jack Skillingstead.

This year’s judges are Michael Armstrong, Brenda Clough, Meg Elison, Lee Konstantinou, and Ben Winters.

Pixel Scroll 2/10/16 They Hive

(1) QUINN FEATURES IN MAINSTREAM NEWS. Jameson Quinn is quoted several times in “Your ballot has matrix algebra lurking in the background” at the Concord Monitor.

Mathematically speaking, “one man, one vote” sounds about as exciting as “1 = 1.” Yet it turns out that something so simple can produce a Nobel Prize in economics, not to mention a slew of graduate school statistics homework.

“Our class spent three weeks just on Arrow’s Theorem, looking at it from different angles,” said Jameson Quinn, a Ph.D. candidate in statistics from Harvard who showed up in Concord last week to testify before the House Elections Committee in favor of a bill allowing something called approval voting.

Arrow’s Theorem, key to the aforementioned Nobel prize, is to social choice theory what E=MC2 is to physics. It is usually described as saying that all voting systems are imperfect, a synopsis which misses lots of nuance and isn’t all that helpful to laymen, because most of us don’t even known that other systems exist.

(2) EDELMAN’S NEW PODCAST. Scott Edelman has started an SF-related podcast, Eating the Fantastic.

Are you ready to have lunch with me and writer/musician Sarah Pinsker? Because the first episode of Eating the Fantastic is now live!

 

Scott Edelman and Sarah Pinsker

Scott Edelman and Sarah Pinsker

Food, friends, and clanking dishes in the background reproduce the atmosphere where so many great fan conversations take place. Edelman writes:

I’ve found that while the con which takes place within the walls of a hotel or convention center is always fun, the con away from the con—which takes place when I wander off-site with friends for a meal—can often be more fun. In fact, my love of tracking down good food while traveling the world attending conventions has apparently become so well known that Jamie Todd Rubin once dubbed me “science fiction’s Anthony Bourdain.”

…During each semi-regular episode (I’ve yet to determine a frequency), I’ll share a meal with someone whose opinions I think you’ll want to hear, and we’ll talk about science fiction, fantasy, horror, writing, comics, movies, fandom … whatever happens to come to mind. (There’ll also be food talk, of course.)

One thing to note—this will not be a pristine studio-recorded podcast, but one which will always occur in a restaurant setting, meaning that mixed in with our conversation will be the sounds of eating and drinking and reviewing of menus and slurping and background chatter … in other words … life.

(3) PKD AWARD. The five Philip K. Dick Award judges for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original format in the United States in the 2016 award year are Michael Armstrong, Brenda Clough, Meg Elison, Lee Konstantinou, and Ben Winters.

(4) CASSANDRA CLARE SUED. “Copyright Clash Over Demon-Fighting Stories” at Courthouse News Service has the scoop.

Sherrilyn Kenyon says she started the “Dark-Hunter” series in 1998. The story “follows an immortal cadre of warriors who fight to protect mankind from creatures and demons who prey on humans,” according to court records.

On Friday, Kenyon sued Cassandra Clare aka Judith Rumelt aka Judith Lewis, claiming her “Shadowhunter” series initially used Kenyon’s trademark “darkhunter.”

After Kenyon demanded that Clare remove the word “darkhunter” from her work, Clare used the term “shadowhunter” for her protagonists instead, according to the lawsuit. The word “hunter” was also removed from the book title.

Clare’s book, “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” was published in 2007. Since then, Clare has expanded her use of the term “shadowhunter” despite assurances that she would not, according to Kenyon.

Clare’s 2007 book was made into a movie and released in 2013, the lawsuit states. In 2014, it was reportedly announced that “Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” would be adapted into a television series called “Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments.”

Kenyon says ABC Family picked up Clare’s TV pilot in March 2015. The first episode of the “Shadowhunters” TV show premiered on Jan. 12 of this year, according to IMDB.

The “Dark-Hunter” author also claims Clare has used symbols and merchandise that are confusingly similar to Kenyon’s.

“Comparing the Dark-Hunter series to Clare’s work or works, the literary components are fictional and, in many respects, the elements are virtually identical,” Kenyon’s Feb. 5 lawsuit states. “These substantially similar elements, coupled with defendant’s access to the Dark-Hunter series, which were widely disseminated, leave little doubt that numerous substantive original elements of the Dark-Hunter series have been copied by defendant.”

(5) AB INITIO. Sarah A. Hoyt begins a column for Mad Genius Club about the preceding news story, “There Is Nothing New Under The Sun”, with these words —

So, this morning (yes, I crashed early yesterday) I was sent this article NEWS: Sherrilyn Kenyon sues Cassandra Clare over infringement claims by Amanda S. Green.  It’s amazing.  And by that I mean, I was amazed anyone is giving this so called “plagearism” any credence.

Now, I haven’t read the complaint, so perhaps there is more to it, and the complaint is more substantial. …

We’ll stop here and wait til she reads the complaint…

(6) GRRM’S EDITOR RATIONALE. George R.R. Martin had some feedback for File 770 commenters about the Best Editor (Long Form) category, but he also queried some of the editors he recommended about “What They Edited” in 2015.

My observations about the Best Editor (Long Form) Hugo, which you can read in full several posts down, have drawn some comments here and on FILE 770 from fans who object to my suggestion that this category has become a de facto lifetime achievement award, at least since David G. Hartwell set an example by withdrawing from future consideration after his third win.

The objections seem to take the form of stating emphatically that Best Editor (Long Form) is NOT a lifetime achievement award, it’s not, it’s not, it’s just NOT.

And quite right they are. According to the rules, that is. According to the rules, the award is only supposed to be for the previous year’s editing.

Which is great in theory, and completely wrong in fact. Maybe those who are objecting vote on that basis, but if so, they are a very tiny minority….

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 10, 1957 – Roger Corman’s Not Of This Earth premiered.

Not of this Earth poster

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born February 10, 1906 – Lon Chaney, Jr.

(9) A PEEK AT PIXAR. “Pixar and Khan Academy Release Free Online Course for Aspiring Animators”, from Makezine [via Chaos Manor.]

Up there with being an astronaut, comic book artist, or the President, there’s one job that your average kid would probably love to snag: Working at Pixar. Animation and Pixar enthusiasts of all ages, take note! Pixar in A Box (or PIAB) is a collaboration between Khan Academy and Pixar Animation Studios that focuses on real-Pixar-world applications of concepts you might usually encounter in the classroom. The latest batch of Pixar in a Box, released today, gives Makers a rare peek under the hood so that you can get a whiff of the warm engine that keeps those Pixar pistons pumping. There’s no need to register for the course, nor a requirement to watch the lessons in order — just head to their site and start exploring!

(10) BRING HIM HOME. Here’s a review of an app game — “The Martian: Communicate with Astronaut Mark Watney in real time while helping him return to Earth”.

In The Martian, you’ll experience the plight of astronaut Mark Watney, only in this strategy game you’re his only hope for survival. You play one of a NASA communications specialist that is communicating with Mark in real time via text-based messages. You’re his only contact on Earth, and all that stands between him and a return to our world, or certain death.

themartian

(11) MAD TEA. Links to all kinds of interesting Alice In Wonderland-themed merchandise in this post at The Snug.

Bonkers pillow

(12) BEST OF A YEAR LONG AGO. Black Gate’s John ONeill revisits “Thomas M. Disch on the Best Science Fiction of 1979”.

He has particular praise for Connie Willis’s first published story, “Daisy in the Sun,” originally published in issue #15 of Galileo (see right):

My own favorite among the also-rans is Connie Willis’s first published story, “Daisy in the Sun” (in the Wollheim/Saha annual). With lyric ellipses Willis describes a world in the grip of epidemic schizophrenia precipitated by news that the sun is going nova. The heroine is a sexually disturbed adolescent girl in a condition of fugal amnesia. All the way through I thought, “This won’t work,” but it did. What a great way to begin a career.

Of course, you could dismiss all this as sour grapes, as Disch’s own Hugo-nominee, the novel On Wings of Song, came in last in the voting that year.

(13) A CURIOUS ARTIFACT.

(14) RULES OF THE ROAD. After reading a few thousand selected words in the Amazon Web Service’s Service Terms, the account holder arrives here —

57.10 Acceptable Use; Safety-Critical Systems. Your use of the Lumberyard Materials must comply with the AWS Acceptable Use Policy. The Lumberyard Materials are not intended for use with life-critical or safety-critical systems, such as use in operation of medical equipment, automated transportation systems, autonomous vehicles, aircraft or air traffic control, nuclear facilities, manned spacecraft, or military use in connection with live combat. However, this restriction will not apply in the event of the occurrence (certified by the United States Centers for Disease Control or successor body) of a widespread viral infection transmitted via bites or contact with bodily fluids that causes human corpses to reanimate and seek to consume living human flesh, blood, brain or nerve tissue and is likely to result in the fall of organized civilization.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Will R., and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day J-Grizz.]

Pixel Scroll 1/13/16 Scrollilas in the Mist

(1) MIND MELD. SF Signal’s latest Mind Meld asks —

Q: What Speculative Fiction titles are you most looking forward to consuming in 2016?

The answers this time come from Rachel Cotterill, Fran Wilde, Lisa Taylor, Paul Weimer, Foz Meadows, Rachel Cordasco, Lynn Williams, Amanda Rutter, Robert Davis, Sally Ember, Ed.D., Nick Mamatas, Delilah S. Dawson, and Sunil Patel.

(2) ARE THE GUNS BIG ENOUGH? Camestros Felapton has added Sad Larry to his line of Hugo figure trading cards. Looks like he’s holding a pair of .32 Lego Specials. Hmm. May need to rethink that. Larry was shooting a .44 Magnum when he was eight years old, and later in life was a licensed machine gun dealer.

Camestros will post additional figure cards posted over the next few days. He says they are all male, and that he is worried about the gender balance of the collection.

So 9 figures only one of which *looks* female (by the crude standards of lego), only one of which is referred to as female and some which could be female. That’s a pretty bad showing. I really want to add some more but avoid anything that looks like I’m mocking somebody’s appearance.

Funny that someone who’s messing with Sad Larry thinks that is what he should be worrying about…

(3) GOING TO THE FRONT OF THE LINE. George R.R. Martin’s update on the progress of The Winds of Winter indicated if the manuscript had been turned in by year-end it could have been out by March. Chris Lough at Tor.com explains how a book could be produced at warp speed in “How Could The Winds of Winter Be Published In Only Three Months?”

…The production process is broken into six steps below, with an overall explanation of how the process typically works, coupled with speculation on how that process could be condensed into a span of three months. It should be noted that some of the terminology used may be publisher-specific, even though the terminology describes a universal process within the industry….

(4) LITIGATION. The Last Unicorn Film Tour investors have filed a lawsuit against Connor Cochran. Support Peter Beagle’s summary is:

They’re suing Cochran for $450,000, based on the original investment, not to mention punitive damages for fraud and all legal costs incurred by them. You can read the sordid details here in Sandbox-Complaint-for-Damages.

(5) MARGULIES OBIT. Character actor David Margulies died January 11 of cancer at the age of 78. He was best known for playing the mayor in Ghostbusters and Tony Soprano’s sleazy lawyer. The New York Times recalled:

In “Ghostbusters” (1984) and “Ghostbusters II” (1989), he played the mayor, Lenny Clotch, who evoked the incumbent New York mayor at the time, Edward I. Koch. In the sequel, Mr. Margulies invokes a former mayor (“I spent an hour last night in my bedroom talking to Fiorello La Guardia, and he’s been dead for 40 years”) and expresses skepticism that the citizenry’s obnoxious behavior is to blame for the river of pink slime that is inundating the city.

“What am I supposed to do?” he asks the Ghostbusters team (including Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd). “Go on television and tell 10 million people they have to be nice to each other? Being miserable and treating other people like dirt is every New Yorker’s God-given right.”

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 13, 1128 — Pope Honorius II grants a papal sanction to the military order known as the Knights Templar, declaring it to be an army of God.
  • January 13, 1930Mickey Mouse comic strip debuted in newspapers.
  • January 13, 1957 – The Wham-O Company developed the first Frisbee.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born January 13, 1893 — Clark Ashton Smith
  • Born January 13, 1933 — Ron Goulart

(8) CAMPBELL AWARD PARAPHERNALIA. Okay, we’ll definitely be watching for this to show up.

(9) NO SANITY CLAUS. Steve Davidson at Amazing Stories proves he’s as tired as anyone of writers who don’t finish in “F**K YOU, Dead Writers”.

The other day I was reading some commentary on George R.R. Martin’s FAILURE to meet his latest installment’s deadline and about how concerned he was regarding fan reaction.

Then, this morning, I was reading the comments to David Gerrold’s latest analysis of the CBS vs Axanar lawsuit and was reminded of David’s FAILURE to get the latest War with the Chtorr novel out – for 23 years,

And THAT reminded me of Harlan Ellison’s FAILURE to finish up a certain anthology I don’t dare mention by name for fear of invoking the wrath of Elcin, the wind god.

And THEN I was reminded of the fact that these living icons of science fictional disappointment are pikers compared to some.

You can not imagine how absolutely apoplectic I am about Robert A Heinlein.  Or Arthur C. Clarke.  Not to mention Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Eric Frank Russell, Fred Pohl, A. Bertram Chandler, Leigh Brackett, Joanna Russ, Octavia Butler, Henry Kuttner, Judith Merrill, C.L Moore, Doc Smith, Hamilton, Campbell, Bester, Chalker, Zelazny, Henderson, McCaffrey, Farmer, ….

You’re all dead and now you’ll NEVER finish ANYTHING! …

(10) CRITICAL MORASS. Lou Antonelli’s “On constructive criticism” manages to thread Lois Tilton, criticism, last year’s Hugos, and Catholic theology together on one string.

Most of the reviews of my short story “On a Spiritual Plain” boiled down to “The premise sucks, and it’s a weak story, and it’s badly written, and Lou Antonelli is a miserable human being, anyhow.”

Occasionally I was surprised by some genuinely thoughtful reviews. Any author worth his salt will recognize VALID criticisms. For example, saying a story of mine relies too much on dialogue and first person narration is valid; I lean on that a lot, and it indicates a weakness in my writing skills.

But IMHO, overall most so-called constructive criticism I hear simply reminds me (having been raised a Catholic) of original sin. Deep down, we’re all sinners, and it’s something we all have to fight constantly – to do good and help people, and improve the world.

Constructive criticism is usually just a justification for hatefulness.

(11) KNOW NOTHINGS. ScreenRant learned nothing about the next Star Trek series from an interview with the head of CBS Entertainment – because he doesn’t know anything either.

Despite being the launchpad for the new Star Trek series, CBS Entertainment’s new president Glen Geller revealed to Slashfilm that the show has been developed exclusively by and for the All Access streaming division.

“I’m not sure about the plans creatively for new characters. I don’t have anything to do with it. It really is for All Access. While the network will be broadcasting the pilot, I actually can’t answer any creative questions about it. I’m looking forward to seeing the new Star Trek. I think it’s going to be an exciting project.”

…While Geller says the new TV show will have no connection to the upcoming film, it may be inspired tonally by that franchise. Alex Kurtzman, who co-wrote and produced the J.J. Abrams-directed Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), will executive produce the 2017 series. He’ll be joined by Heather Kadin, with whom he also produces CBS series Limitless and Scorpion.

The first episode of the sixth Star Trek series will have to be impressive enough to convince viewers to sign up for a subscription service to see the rest. Netflix has set a precedent for getting new fans to sign up in order to watch episodes of series like Orange is the New Black and Daredevil, and CBS will be hoping longtime Trek fans will be extra motivated. For $5.99 a month, viewers can watch the new Star Trek series, plus every episode of its five predecessors. The service also includes on-demand viewing and live streaming of many of CBS’s other shows.

Star Trek Beyond opens in U.S. theaters on July 22, 2016. The new Star Trek TV show will debut on CBS in January 2017.

(12) TOUGH TO BE TOLKIEN. Sarah Monette/Katherine Addison’s “Doing Tolkien Wrong” is a reprint of a 2005 article.

I was given The Hobbit for my sixth birthday, The Lord of the Rings for my ninth. I’ve read The Silmarillion. I own the extended edition DVDs of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King–even though I don’t own a DVD player. In other words, I love Tolkien as much as the next really geeky person.

So when I say that Tolkien is an affliction and a curse, you understand that I’m saying it for a reason.

Specifically, Tolkien is an affliction and a curse to fantasy writers. This is a horribly ungrateful thing to say, when it’s largely thanks to Tolkien that fantasy writers can exist as a sub-species today at all. Certainly it’s thanks to Tolkien that so many fantasy novels, especially series of novels, can get published. But, nevertheless, the genre has reached a point where Tolkien causes more problems than he solves.

The reason for this is that, while Tolkien was a genius and a godsend to readers prepared to love secondary-world fantasy, he is a terrible model for writers. And that for a number of reasons, ranging from, on the macro level, his use of the quest plot to, on the micro level, the nature of his prose style. Imitating Tolkien – in and of itself, not a bad idea – has become mired down in slavish adherence to his product, rather than careful attention to his process.

(13) DICK AWARD. Joel Cunningham’s post “This Year’s Philip K. Dick Award Nominees Take SF in Strange New Directions” at B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog gives the Hugos a little bump en route to praising his favorite sf award.

Sorry Hugos, but for my money, there’s no more interesting award in sci-fi than the ones named for Philip K. Dick. In the tradition of everyone’s favorite gonzo pulpist, the “PKD Award” honors innovative genre works that debuted in paperback, offering a nice reminder that you don’t need the prestige of a hardcover release to write a mind-blowing book (just ask William Gibson, whose seminal cyberpunk classic Neuromancer claimed the title in 1984), and in fact, if past winners are any evidence, the format might be seem as a license to take greater risks.

 [Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Will R., for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day  Soon Lee.]

2016 Philip K. Dick Award Shortlist

The nominees for the 2016 Philip K. Dick Award have been announced:

  • Edge of Dark by Brenda Cooper (Pyr)
  • After the Saucers Landed by Douglas Lain (Night Shade Books)
  • (R)evolution by PJ Manney (47North)
  • Apex by Ramez Naam (Angry Robot Books)
  • Windswept by Adam Rakunas (Angry Robot Books)
  • Archangel by Marguerite Reed (Arche Press)

The award is given for the best paperback original sf book of the year by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and the Philip K. Dick Trust.

The award judges are Eric James Fullilove, James C. Glass, David Higgins, Lisa Mason (chair), and Jack Skillingstead.

First prize and any special citations will be announced on Friday, March 25, at Norwescon 39 in SeaTac, Washington.

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh for the story.]

 

2015 Philip K. Dick Award

The winner of the 2015 Philip K. Dick Award was announced at Norwescon 38 – The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison (Sybaritic Press).

The award is given to “the distinguished original science fiction paperback published for the first time during 2014 in the U.S.A.”

The judges also gave a Special Citation to Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett (Aqueduct Press).

The Philip K. Dick Award is sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and the Philip K. Dick Trust

The judges for the 2015 Award were Jon Armstrong, Ritchie Calvin, Ellen Klages, Laura J. Mixon (chair), and Michaela Roessner-Herman.