Pixel Scroll 10/27/17 Dark Scroll Crashes, Pouring Pixels Into Ashes

(1) ASSUAGING YOUR TBR GUILT. Fantasy-Faction’s Nicola Alter playfully advises about “Coping with Reading Guilt in 7 Easy Steps”.

Signs you might suffer from Reading Guilt of one form or another can include:

1. The pile of unread books on your shelf, be it virtual or real, makes you feel anxious every time you look at it.
2. You occasionally dust off that book your friend loaned you and pretend you are about to read it, knowing in your heart you are just preparing it to collect more nightstand dust.
3. The sight of a bookstore evokes complex feelings of longing and guilt.
4. The book-devouring speed of a well-read friend makes you irrationally envious.
5. The question, “have you read…” elicits an instinctual dread, because whatever it is, you’ve usually never read it.
6. When someone recommends a book to you, you smile and make enthusiastic noises to cover the sinking feeling in your stomach, because it’s just another to add to the endless list and you’ll probably never get around to reading it anyway.
7. You are so behind on that reading goal you set that it just serves to depress rather than motivate you.
8. You have a vague but pervasive feeling that you haven’t read enough of the “important” books.
9. The hunt for bookmarks depresses you, because you realise they are all wedged in half-finished books and you can’t bring yourself to remove them.
10. You participate in online “How many of these books have you read?” quizzes, even though you know the results will not cheer you up.

Fortunately, Reading Guilt is a very treatable disorder, and if you are exhibiting these symptoms, you are not alone. Here are seven easy steps to help you cope with Reading Guilt, and prevent it from getting in the way of your bookly enjoyment….

(2) A CHEESY EVENT. The Harry Potter Festival that promised to “bring the magic” to Jefferson, WI last weekend has been roundly criticized as a dud: “Angry fans say organizers of Harry Potter Festival in Jefferson were unprepared”.

Some Harry Potter fans are cursing their decision to attend last weekend’s Harry Potter Festival USA in Jefferson, Wisconsin.

Fans says organizers promised an immersive experience but were instead unprepared for the crowds. City officials provided an estimate that around 35,000 attended the event on Saturday.

Here are some of the main criticisms circulating on the festival’s Facebook page: 1) Visitors say hidden costs were added on top of the price of admission 2) the effort put into decorations were at the level of a high school homecoming and 3) poor transportation planning caused long lines for shuttles.

…For hours people waited to get to certain attractions that have also been highly criticized online.

One person commented on the festival’s Facebook page “‘Hagrid’ ate breakfast without his wig and played on his phone the whole time and did not get up once for pictures. Very disappointing, especially for $20 per person!”

Another person wrote “Went to the ‘prison’ – where nothing was happening?! Empty tennis court? So extremely disappointed.”

Others say they wouldn’t make the drive to the again and regret doing it the first time.

“We traveled an hour and a half,” Maria Remillard of Elk Grove Village, Illinois said.

“And once we got there we were basically stuck there. The bus lines were hours long. I ended up walking back to the fairgrounds to pick up our car so I could go back and pick up my parents, my sister, and my daughter,” Remillard said.

“‘The Owlry’ was a small VFW hall with one stuffed animal and one girl signing letters for an extra fee,” Remillard said.

(3) SUBURBAN BLIGHT.  Adweek highlights another scary ad: “Xfinity Adds Its Own Creepy 5-Minute Film to 2017’s Fright Fest of Longer Halloween Ads”.  See the video at the link.

The Comcast cable brand just unveiled its own five-minute horror short, titled “The Neighborhood,” developed by Goodby Silverstein & Partners and written and directed by Dante Ariola of production company MJZ.

The tale concerns a spooky old mask, made out of a burlap sack, that seems to be making the rounds in one suburban neighborhood on Halloween. But those gifted with it quickly come to regret their mysterious new present.

(4) PULP ART BOOK. IDW Publishing has released “The Art of the Pulps: An Illustrated History” co-edited by Doug Ellis, Ed Hulse, and Robert Weinberg. Doug Ellis gives the background:

“The Art of the Pulps”, co-edited by myself, Ed Hulse and Robert Weinberg, came out earlier this week, on October 24 from IDW. For me, it was a long wait, but I think the final book was well worth it. Bob and I actually started preliminary work on the book back in January 2016, so it’s been nearly a two year project for me. Bob unfortunately passed away in late September 2016, just as we were about to start working on it in earnest, but fortunately Ed Hulse was willing to step in and help see the book through to its completion. I think Bob would have been very pleased with how it came out.

The book focuses on the colorful cover art of the pulps, along with a sampling of some black and white interior pulp art, containing roughly 460 images. But in addition to the images, there’s well over 50,000 words of text, written by some of the top experts in the pulp field. Besides contributions from the co-editors, we were fortunate enough to enlist the writing talents of (in alphabetical order): Mike Ashley (science fiction), Will Murray (hero), Michelle Nolan (sports), Laurie Powers (love), Tom Roberts (air and war), David Saunders (the great pulp artists), F. Paul Wilson (foreword) and John Wooley (detective). We think you’ll agree, if you read the book, that each did a bang-up job!

(5) DOWN THESE MEAN STREETS. Stevens Point author Patrick Rothfuss’ new show on Travel Channel, Myth or Monster, debuts with three showings this weekend on Travel Channel. Myth or Monster will first air 9 p.m. on Friday.

Rothfuss “dives into the past and consults with present-day eyewitnesses to expose the truth behind stories long believed to be sheer fantasy.”

The first episode is titled “Mothman:

Armed with new evidence of a modern-day sighting, acclaimed fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss investigates the local legend of an 8-foot-tall man-bird hybrid that has haunted a small West Virginia town for over 50 years.

(6) THE DICKENS YOU SAY. Alonso Duralde of The Wrap was disappointed: “‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’ Review: Scrooge’s Origin Story Ends Up a Bit of a Humbug”

The history of Christmas is a fascinating one, from the biblical account of Jesus’ birth, to the church’s moving of his birthdate so as to capitalize on the popularity of pagan holidays like Saturnalia and Yule, to the Puritans banning it as a feast of licentiousness, to the abundant, familial celebration we know today. Standiford touches upon all of this, and on how the immense popularity of “A Christmas Carol” changed the culture around the holiday, but screenwriter Susan Coyne (“Anne of Green Gables”) and director Bharat Nalluri (“Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day”) gloss right over it in a way that will leave most viewers befuddled by the film’s title.

While Dickens (played here by Dan Stevens) was a well-established writer by 1843, the author was in something of a slump before he decided to take a crack at writing a Christmas story. “Barnaby Rudge” and “Martin Chuzzlewit” were slow sellers, and his essays about his trip to America hadn’t flown off the shelves either; meanwhile, he and his family were grandly restoring a new house, and his constantly-in-debt father John (Jonathan Pryce) was one of many people in Dickens’ orbit with hands perpetually out.

(7) KING TUT. Someone apparently tutted at John Scalzi about his weekly photos of incoming ARCs and review copies.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born October 27, 1948 – Bernie Wrightson
  • Born October 27, 1953 – Robert Picardo, who played the holographic doctor in ST-Voyager and is on the board of directors of the Planetary Society.

(9) LOOK OUT BELOW. Newsweek brings out Michael Rampino  to answer the question: “Did Dark Matter Kill the Dinosaurs? How Mass Extinctions Are Linked With Universe’s Mystery Ingredient”.

… Over the last three decades, some scientists have found a good correlation of mass extinctions with impacts and massive volcanism. Curiously they have also turned up evidence that these events occur in a cycle of about 26 to 30 million years. This attracted the interest of astrophysicists, and several astronomical theories were proposed in which cosmic cycles affected Earth and life on the planet.

My own hypothesis linked the Earthly events to the motion of the solar system as it moves through the galaxy.  Now, it seems that these geologic cycles may be a result of the interactions of our planet with mysterious dark matter.

How does dark matter affect our planet? Most dark matter can be found as huge haloes surrounding the disc-shaped spiral galaxies, like our own Milky Way. But in 2015 physicist Lisa Randall at Harvard, proposed that significant dark matter is concentrated along the central mid-plane of the galactic disk.

During the cyclic movement of the sun and planets through the galaxy, we pass through the mid-place about once every 30 million years. At these times, the dark matter concentrated there tugs on the myriad Oort cloud comments found at the edge of the solar system. This gravitational perturbation causes some of the loosely bound comets to fall into the zone of the inner planets, where some would collide with Earth, producing a roughly 30 million year cycle of impacts and associated mass extinctions. As a result, dark matter may have killed the dinosaurs.

(10) TREMONTAINE. At Fantasy Literature, Marion Deeds reviews the book version of Tremontaine Season One by Ellen Kushner, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Malinda Lo, Joel Derfner, Patty Bryant, Racheline Maltese and Paul Witcover — “Tremontaine Season One: Magic can’t always be re-created”.

The most interesting secondary character is Micah, a young county girl in the city, who is a math genius. Disguised as a boy, Micah is taken up by the university students because she has a gift for winning card games, and because she is a genius. Micah is a problematic character for some of the writers. She is neuro-atypical. In some of these novellas, Micah convinces me that she is somewhere on the autism spectrum. In the hands of others she reads more like an innocent, much younger girl (eleven or twelve). This wobbliness broke my suspension of disbelief. Beyond the problem of Micah’s characterization, tone in general is a problem, changing from episode to episode, and sometimes clashing with the previous chapter, as it does most noticeably in Episode Seven, “The Swan Ball.”

(11) THEY LOST HIM AT HELLO. Superversive SF’s Declan Finn says he was so offended by Star Trek: Discovery that he had already turned it off before they reached the part that was designed to offend him: “The STD That Will Never Go Viral”.

I gave up at the 40 minute mark. So, all of this is this is, of course, before I got to the stuff that was designed to offend me. I’m told there are gay, bisexual and other sexes all over the place, that the Klingons were supposed to be Trump supporters, that they use cussing but can’t say “God” on the show.  Heck, I didn’t even get far enough into the episode to see “Michael” assault her captain, take over the ship in a mutiny specifically so she could commit an act of war on the Klingons… which happened.

But they never got a chance to appeal to my politics. They never got a chance to offend me. They never got a chance to make me angry. Because they never got me to care. Because this isn’t Star Trek. This is just a bad parody.

This is one STD that will never go viral.

(12) THE NOT RIGHT. Prager University produced a video, “What is the Alt-Right?” which briefly mentions Vox Day.

What is the alt-right? What is its worldview? How big is it? Michael Knowles, bestselling author and host of The Michael Knowles Show, took a deep dive into alt-right culture. Here’s what he learned.

When a reader of Vox Popoli brought it to Day’s attention he teed off on the site’s namesake.

I would have been shocked if Dennis Prager had anything positive to say about me. He’s a mediocre thinker and a mediocre writer whose columns on WND were lightweight, little trafficked, and almost entirely forgettable.

(13) ARISTOTLE! Speaking of Aristotle….Camestros Felapton has now reached Chapter 6 in his dissection of Vox Day’s SJWs Always Double Down: Anticipating the Thought Police.

“It is one of more than a dozen such tactics that I have observed SJWs utilizing over the past few year, and what is fascinating is how many of these tactics were first observed more than 2,400 years ago by one of Man’s greatest thinkers, Aristotle.”

Having said that, we don’t get an illustration of social media bait and report re-imagined for ancient Athens (which might have been interesting). I’d imagine the advice would be simple from Aristotle – if somebody is trying to bait you then don’t let them wind you up. There is an excellent example from Jesus in the New Testament dodging a “bait and report” when he is quizzed about paying taxes. Mind you I don’t think Vox reads the New Testament much, particularly not a section where his God implies that you should pay your taxes.

Anyway, put my side trip to Jesus aside, Vox is back with our friend Aristotle. This time rather than Aristotle’s Rhetoric, Vox wants us to look at The Organon and in particular the section called On Sophistical Refutations. “Sophistical” here referring to sophists – the quasi-professional arguers of stuff and/or Plato’s contemporary philosophers not in tune with the Socratic wing of thinking.

Aristotle lists 13 fallacies and Vox goes through them all to some extent. I’m going to look at them from a different direction…

(14) LET THERE BE LIGHTS. Tesla in real-world success: “Turns Power Back On At Children’s Hospital In Puerto Rico”.

Tesla has used its solar panels and batteries to restore reliable electricity at San Juan’s Hospital del Niño (Children’s Hospital), in what company founder Elon Musk calls “the first of many solar+battery Tesla projects going live in Puerto Rico.”

The project came about after Puerto Rico was hit by two devastating and powerful hurricanes in September, and Musk reached out about Tesla helping.

Musk’s company announced its success in getting the hospital’s power working again less than three weeks after Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello tweeted on Oct. 6, “Great initial conversation with @elonmusk tonight. Teams are now talking; exploring opportunities.”

Tesla’s image of the project’s solar array, in a parking lot next to the hospital, has been liked more than 84,000 times since it was posted to Instagram Tuesday.

(15) SOFTCOVER SCARES. Rise of a genre? “These ‘Paperbacks From Hell’ Reflect The Real-Life Angst Of The 1970s”. NPR did an interview with Grady Hendrix who argues that “horror” was not a mainstream term before _Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, et al.

On the appeal of horror paperbacks in the ’70s and ’80s

In the early ’70s, I think part of the appeal of these books is [that] they were written fast and without a lot of pretensions, and so in doing that, these authors were kind of capturing the time in which they were writing. And so you had in the early ’70s, late ’60s, all this fascination with the occult. Astrology was big, Time magazine had two covers that were like, “The New Age occult craze in America” and also there was a fear of our children — “What is this rock music and this LSD and this ‘Summer of Love’? Surely there must be a dark side there.”

And so these books really reflected a lot of where we were at the times and answered a lot of questions, and the answer to most of the questions was, “Yes, be very, very afraid of everything.” Jellyfish, mattresses, curtains, dogs, moths, caterpillars, children, dolls, clowns, puppets. But at least they were answers.

(16) NO RENDEZVOUS WITH THIS RAMA. Passing through: “Scientists Spot First Alien Space Rock In Our Solar System”.

It’s long been assumed that an interstellar object like this one should be out there, because giant planets in forming solar systems are thought to toss out bits of space crud that haven’t yet glommed into anything. But this is the first time scientists have actually found one.

The mysterious object is small — less than a quarter mile in diameter — and seems to have come from the general direction of the constellation Lyra, moving through interstellar space at 15.8 miles per second, or 56,880 miles per hour.

“The orbit is very convincing. It is going so fast that it clearly came from outside the solar system,” says Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “It’s whipping around the Sun, it has already gone around the Sun, and it has actually gone past the Earth on its way out.”

(17) INSECURITY. The internet doesn’t know you’re a dog – or an AI: “AI Model Fundamentally Cracks CAPTCHAs, Scientists Say”.

A new model, described in research published today in Science, fundamentally breaks the CAPTCHA’s defenses by parsing the text more effectively than previous models with less training, George says.

He says that previous models trying to get machines to learn like humans have largely relied on a prevailing AI technique called deep learning.

“Deep learning is a technique where you have layers of neurons and you train those neurons to respond in a way that you decide,” he says. For example, you could train a machine to recognize the letters A and B by showing it hundreds of thousands of example images of each. Even then, it would have difficulty recognizing an A overlapping with a B unless it had been explicitly trained with that image.

(18) RUNAWAYS. Marvel’s Runaways will be on Hulu starting November 21.

(19) YOU HAD ONE JOB. Alien Invasion S.U.M. 1 official trailer.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/30/17 Scroll Like No One Is Filing You

(1) IS THIS A GOOD IDEA? What did Ray Bradbury think would happen when he left his personal books to the Waukegan Library?

When I covered the legacy in 2013, Bradbury’s daughters had approved trading some of the books to the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies to get other books for the library’s collection. That was before plans for a Bradbury statue got off the ground. The latest on that front is told by The Verge in “Ray Bradbury’s hometown is crowdfunding a statue in his honor”:

The committee is looking to raise $125,000 to fund the project, and launched its campaign earlier this month. Donors who give more than $150 will be given a book from Bradbury’s library. Thus far, the committee has raised around $13,000, with another $20,000 promised. Richard Lee, the Library’s executive director and chair of the statue committee, told The Chicago Tribune that he hoped that the statue will remind area children of the famous author, and that it might inspire them to become writers themselves.

The link for donations is here.

Gifts of any amount will make this project reality. Donors supporting the project at $500 and above will be recognized permanently near the statue on the grounds of Waukegan Public Library….

Gifts of $150 and higher will be acknowledged with a book from Ray Bradbury’s personal library, which was left to Waukegan Public Library after Bradbury’s death in 2012.

(2) COSPLAY MELEE WINNER. Jacqueline Goehner won Season 1 of Syfy’s Cosplay Melee. See her interview here.

(3) CHARON DUNN HAS LAUNCHED AGAIN. And this time she’s following Camestros Felapton’s marketing advice: “I had my cat interview me this time, but he’s not nearly as articulate as Timothy. So much for idea stealing.”

“An Interview with Charon Dunn, author of Retrograde Horizon, by T.B. Kahuna”

I interviewed myself to promote the last book I launched, and it worked! People actually bought copies! I was feeling all self-congratulatory about my self-inflicted promotional ability, when I reflected that everything on the internet is better with a cat in it. Maybe I could get my own cat to interview me to promote my current book!  So I woke T.B. Kahuna from his nap, and bribed him with some catnip and a bilateral ear massage.

Me: Kahuna, I really appreciate your being able to fit this interview into your busy schedule.

T.B. Kahuna: I have food in the square kitty dish but not the round one! Please move it to the round one right now. It’s kind of an emergency.

Me: Sure, but before I do that, I just wanted to talk about my most recent book, Retrograde Horizon….

T.B. Kahuna: Oh no, my catnip-filled squirrel got stuck behind the couch again.

It’s interesting that you should bring up politics. I did a little rewriting after the U.S. presidential election, since one of my villains is a politician – I toned down the violence and opinion-slinging, and I made my bad guy more generic. My stories take place far in the future, long after the corpses of current politicians have decayed into dust and the social problems we’re fighting about have been solved for the most part, leaving room for a whole bunch of new ones (for instance: if we create sentient life, do we have to consider it a sovereign nation?). My goal is escapism for people taking a breather from politics, not to browbeat people about the world they’re trying to escape. [Retrieves squirrel.]…

(4) WELCOME TO THE CLUB. Well said.

(5) DOING JUSTICE. Is the studio doing enough to promote Wonder Woman? Here’s an uptick in marketing from the past couple of days. “Wonder Woman: Diana, Steve Trevor & Etta Candy Arrive in New Photos”

Warner Bros. has released a handful of new images for the “Wonder Woman,” featuring Gal Gadot as Diana Prince, Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, Saïd Taghmaoui as Sameer and Lucy Davis as Etta candy.

The photos arrive amid criticisms that the studio isn’t promoting director Patty Jenkins’ film as heavily as it did last year’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad.” However, it was revealed late last week that advertising spending for “Wonder Woman” is outpacing that for “Suicide Squad” at the same point in pre-release

Also:

(6) HOW PLASTIC WAS MY VALLEY. Silicon Valley deconstructed by In the Circle, on NPR: “In ‘The Circle’, What We Give Up When We Share Ourselves”.

The Circle, the film based on the novel by Dave Eggers, presents a dystopian view of the direction Silicon Valley is taking the world. And, as a longtime Silicon Valley correspondent, I have to say there is a lot that this comic and spooky film gets right.

Let’s start with the main character, Mae, a recent college grad played by Emma Watson. Mae is eager, idealistic and versed in the kind of marketing verbiage that rolls off the tongues of way too many young people in Silicon Valley. When she goes for a job interview at the Circle — the world’s biggest tech company — she impresses her interviewer with a comically perfect description of the company’s main service.

Sounding like a commercial voice-over, she says: “Before TrueYou, it was like you needed a different vehicle for every single one of your errands. And no one should have to own 87 different cars. It doesn’t make sense. It’s the chaos of the Web made elegant and simple.”

(7) THE ROADS MUST BURROW. More SF from Elon Musk: underground highways to reduce traffic jams: “Ted 2017: Elon Musk’s vision for underground road system”.

In a wide-ranging conversation with Ted curator Chris Anderson, the founder of Tesla and Space X said that he was inspired to consider a tunnel system to alleviate congestion because he found being stuck in traffic “soul-destroying”.

Chip Hitchcock sent the link with a comment, “The Big Dig may have been exceptionally expensive, but I don’t see this happening for under a billion dollars a mile.”

(8) FEELS MUGGY. There is a fantasy design, and several of the other designs also include one or two sff writers.

This sturdy 11 ounce (i.e., normal size) white ceramic mug is both microwave and dishwasher safe. There are books all the way around it, so it works beautifully for both coffee and tea drinkers, and for both righties and lefties.

This set is of 20 of the most beloved fantasy books of all time, including Game of Thrones, The Fellowship of the Ring, Stardust, and The Last Unicorn.

You know I’ll never hear the end of it unless I show you the one with a Bradbury reference. (It’s the third book from the right.)

(9) PINNING AWAY FOR THE FJORDS. The same outfit sells book pins like these. Use your psychic powers to figure out which one John King Tarpinian now owns.

(10) ZAHN’S STAR WARS NOVELS. THRAWN by Timothy Zahn, was published by Del Rey on April 11.

One of the most cunning and ruthless warriors in the history of the Galactic Empire, Grand Admiral Thrawn is also one of the most captivating characters in the Star Wars universe, from his introduction in bestselling author Timothy Zahn’s classic Heir to the Empire through his continuing adventures in Dark Force Rising, The Last Command, and beyond.

But Thrawn’s origins and the story of his rise in the Imperial ranks have remained mysterious. Now, in Star Wars: Thrawn, Timothy Zahn chronicles the fateful events that launched the blue-skinned, red-eyed master of military strategy and lethal warfare into the highest realms of power—and infamy.

Other Thrawn novels:

Thrawn Trilogy:

  • Heir to the Empire
  • Dark Force Rising
  • The Last Command

Hand of Thrawn:

  • Specter of the Past
  • Vision of the Future

Star Wars Legends:

  • Outbound Flight
  • Choices of One

Carl Slaughter notes, “I have not been able to find material in Wikipedia, Amazon, or Good Reads about the previous Thrawn novels that provides insight into the development of the Thrawn character and his place in the Star Wars Universe.  I would appreciate anyone linking to or writing such material. “

(11) PAINFUL BUT GREAT. Review of The Handmaid’s Tale TV show by Annalee Newitz at Ars Technica. “The Handmaid’s Tale is the most horrific thing I have ever seen”

What’s really stunning about The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t its evocation of a dark political future, however. It’s the way we’re drawn into the personal perspective of June, a book editor who paid very little attention to politics until one day her credit card stopped working. Because she’s fertile, June is sent to a reeducation camp for handmaids. Eventually she’s renamed “Offred” when she becomes the property of a man named Fred and his supposedly infertile wife. Other women aren’t so lucky. The infertile are sent to die cleaning up toxic waste in the colonies. Lesbian “gender traitors” are hanged in public places, where their bodies are left on display for days.

(12) A HANDMAID’S TRAILER. You might be curious to compare the trailer for the 1990 adaptation of A Handmaid’s Tale with the current one.

(13) ONE ADAM-12. Grammar brawl in progress. Proceed Code Three.

(14) IT’S GREAT TO BE A GENIUS OF COURSE. C. and Matt make a promising beginning as two snooty critics in “The 2017 Hugo Awards shortlist: a conversation between two SFF fans” just before completely embarrassing themselves:

C. …So when I say I looked at this year’s list with a sigh, I’m being pretty literal. I’m quite resigned to the fact that the Hugo isn’t the best award for my tastes.

Matt …So over the last last three years I have tried to get involved.  The Hugos are not perfect they have been prone to white US male for a long time but it’s changing.  This year I think we have an almost puppy free list and that finally allows a debate on the quality of the books!

Be that as it may – they decided to go ahead with their debate although each admits not having read half the nominees for Best Novel. Here’s a scorecard —

All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders

  • C: (Quit at page 150)
  • M: (Finished book)

A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers

  • C : (Refused to read – didn’t like first book)
  • M. (Read)

Death’s End, by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu

  • C: (Read)
  • M. (Hasn’t read)

Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee

  • C. (Read)
  • M. (Read)

The Obelisk Gate, by N. K. Jemisin

  • C. (Read)
  • M. (Hasn’t read)

Too Like the Lightning, by Ada Palmer (Tor Books)

  • C. (Hasn’t read)
  • M. (Hasn’t read)

Yet they confidently offer this opinion about the award –

So, let’s face it: both of some of the most popular novels on the list aren’t novels that, to me, bring something new to the genre. They are certainly crowd pleasers but I really wonder at their future legacy.

How the hell would they know? And then they go on to cover themselves with even more glory, discussing what they haven’t read in the rest of the award categories.

(15) FIVE MISCONCEPTIONS. Vintage Geek Culture seeks to convince readers there are places where the narrative and factual history part company: “Top Misconceptions People Have about Pulp-Era Science Fiction“. There are five, which, as we know, is the magic number.

“Racism was endemic to the pulps.”

It is absolutely true that the pulps reflected the unconscious views of society as a whole at the time, but as typical of history, the reality was usually much more complex than our mental image of the era. For instance, overt racism was usually shown as villainous: in most exploration magazines like Adventure, you can typically play “spot the evil asshole we’re not supposed to like” by seeing who calls the people of India “dirty monkeys” (as in Harold Lamb).

Street & Smith, the largest of all of the pulp publishers, had a standing rule in the 1920s-1930s to never to use villains who were ethnic minorities because of the fear of spreading race hate by negative portrayals. In fact, in one known case, the villain of Resurrection Day was going to be a Japanese General, but the publisher demanded a revision and he was changed to an American criminal. Try to imagine if a modern-day TV network made a rule that minority groups were not to be depicted as gang bangers or drug dealers, for fear that this would create prejudice when people interact with minority groups in everyday life, and you can see how revolutionary this policy was. It’s a mistake to call this era very enlightened, but it’s also a mistake to say everyone born before 1970 was evil.

(16) SPACE AT ANY SPEED. CBS Sunday Morning’s  “Book excerpt: Neil deGrasse Tyson’s ‘Astrophysics for People in a Hurry'” inspires me to paraphrase Emily Dickinson’s line about death – “I could not slow for astrophysics, so astrophysics kindly slowed for me…”

Time is relative, but some of us still don’t have enough of it to fully take in the most salient aspects of such topics as dark matter, exoplanets, the Big Bang, and why so many objects in outer space are spherical.

Fortunately, we have Neil deGrasse Tyson, whose latest book, “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry” (published Tuesday from WW Norton), offers a shortcut to scientific literacy, with entertaining, bite-sized chapters that explore cosmic questions.

Read the excerpts below. And make time for Martha Teichner’s interview with Tyson on CBS’ “Sunday Morning” April 30!

Excerpt from the chapter entitled “Dark Energy”

So what is the stuff? Nobody knows. The closest anybody has come is to presume dark energy is a quantum effect — where the vacuum of space, instead of being empty, actually seethes with particles and their antimatter counterparts.

They pop in and out of existence in pairs, and don’t last long enough to be measured. Their transient existence is captured in their moniker: virtual particles. The remarkable legacy of quantum mechanics — the physics of the small — demands that we give this idea serious attention. Each pair of virtual particles exerts a little bit of outward pressure as it ever so briefly elbows its way into space.

Unfortunately, when you estimate the amount of repulsive “vacuum pressure” that arises from the abbreviated lives of virtual particles, the result is more than 10120 times bigger than the experimentally determined value of the cosmological constant. This is a stupidly large factor — a consequence of what may be the most embarrassing calculation ever made, leading to the biggest mismatch between theory and observation in the history of science.

(18) SHARPEN UP THOSE SKILLS. CinemaBlend says “Machete Kills Again In Space Is Actually Happening”.

If you saw Machete Kills in theaters, then you probably also saw that hilariously ridiculous trailer for something called Machete Kills Again…in Space. At the time, we thought that was all we were going to get of the supposed third installment of the Danny Trejo-led franchise, but the man himself has confirmed that this is in fact in the works. Yes, we will be seeing Machete going berserk…in space! Trejo told Halloween Daily News that he and Robert Rodriguez, his Machete director, will be filming Machete Kills in Space. (Apparently they thought the “Again…” part was unnecessary.) We won’t even have to wait too long for it, as he also said that they will be “working on it this year.” If Trejo can’t land a part in Star Wars: Episode 7, 8 and/or 9, he’ll at the very least be able to brandish a lightsaber machete.

This is the 2014 teaser —

[Thanks to JJ, David K.M. Klaus, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Mark-kitteh, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

Pixel Scroll 7/23/16 I Tasted The Pixels In The Scroll Of The Universe, And I Was Not Offended

(1) TRAFFIC. How do you get more pageviews for your blog? Talk about politics. But, of course, these things must be done delicately. Notice the daft, er, deft touch in Camestros Felapton’s post “Well, He Kept That Quiet”.

The local newspaper reports:

In a surprising move, presumptive Democratic nominee for President of the United States, Hillary Clinton, has chosen local vermin catcher Timothy the Talking Cat as her Vice Presidential pick….

(2) SPACE, THE FASHION FRONTIER. Mayim Bialik of Big Bang Theory did a Star Trek-themed photo shoot. There are six pictures in the gallery, with Bialik costumed as a series of characters from classic Trek.

Mayim Bialik and fans everywhere geek out over Star Trek at 50. To celebrate, we boldy go where no man—or woman—has gone before, with a little help from this Trekkie pinup girl and The Big Bang Theory star. “I watched a lot of Star Trek when I was a kid, and being able to not only dress up like some of the most iconic characters from that universe,” Mayim Bialik said, “but be made up by some of the original innovators who created these looks, was personally so meaningful.”

trekkie1

She also appears in a two-minute “making of” video.

(3) LEGO SPACEWOMEN. LEGO has been asked to do a Women of NASA project about five female scientists and astronauts:

Women have played critical roles throughout the history of the U.S. space program, a.k.a. NASA or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Yet in many cases, their contributions are unknown or under-appreciated — especially as women have historically struggled to gain acceptance in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

This proposed set celebrates five notable NASA pioneers and provides an educational building experience to help young ones and adults alike learn about the history of women in STEM. The five Women of NASA are:

Women of NASA 2562129-o_1anriledce9i1qm5hpeki28vo1u-full

Margaret Hamilton, computer scientist: While working at MIT under contract with NASA in the 1960s, Hamilton developed the on-board flight software for the Apollo missions to the moon. She is known for popularizing the modern concept of software.

Katherine Johnson, mathematician and space scientist: A longtime NASA researcher, Johnson is best known for calculating and verifying trajectories for the Mercury and Apollo programs — including the Apollo 11 mission that first landed humans on the moon.

Sally Ride, astronaut, physicist, and educator: A physicist by training, Ride became the first American woman in space in 1983. After retiring as a NASA astronaut, she founded an educational company focusing on encouraging children — especially girls — to pursue the sciences.

Nancy Grace Roman, astronomer: One of the first female executives at NASA, Roman is known to many as the “Mother of Hubble” for her role in planning the Hubble Space Telescope. She also developed NASA’s astronomy research program.

Mae Jemison, astronaut, physician, and entrepreneur: Trained as a medical doctor, Jemison became the first African-American woman in space in 1992. After retiring from NASA, Jemison established a company that develops new technologies and encourages students in the sciences.In addition to a desktop frame that displays these five minifigures and their names, the set includes vignettes depicting: a famous photo of the reams of code that landed astronauts on the moon in 1969; instruments used to calculate and verify trajectories for the Mercury and Apollo missions; a microscale Hubble Space Telescope and display; and a mini space shuttle, complete with external tank and solid rocket boosters.

The idea has gathered 2,513 supporters as of this writing – with 541 days left (that’s what it says). It needs 10,000 supporters to qualify for an official LEGO review.

(4) GHOSTBUSTER TOYS. Meanwhile, some toy shelves have become ghost towns due to strong sales  – “Mattel Reports ‘Ghostbusters’ Toy Sales Have ‘Exceeded Expectations’”.

Mattel is reporting strong early sales for its line of toys based on the female-led “Ghostbusters” — from both boys and girls.

In keeping with the tagline “Everybody wants to be a Ghostbuster,” Mattel’s retail strategy was to sell the female-led Ghostbusters action figures in the boys’ toy aisle. The sales figures at the top retailers in the country have exceeded expectations, the toymaker reported Friday.

(5) PULP STUDIES. James Madison University will host the 1st Annual Pulp Studies Symposium on October 7-8. One of the speakers is today’s Munsey Award winner, Laurie Powers.

Nestled in the Shenandoah Valley, James Madison University’s Special Collections hosts one of the finest publicly accessible collections of pulp magazines in the United States, including a recent acquisition of over eighty issues of Street and Smith’s romance pulp Love Story.

Speakers

David M. Earle

Associate Professor of Transatlantic Modernism and Print Culture at the University of West Florida

David M. Earle is Associate Professor of Transatlantic Modernism and Print Culture at the University of West Florida. He is author of Re-Covering Modernism: Pulps, Paperbacks, and the Prejudice of Form (2009) and All Man!: Hemingway, 1950s Men’s Magazines, and the Masculine Persona(2009). More recently, he has published on pulp magazines and modernism for The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines, Volume 2; the influence of pulps on William Faulkner for Fifty Years after Faulkner; and pulps and the modernist genre novel for The Cambridge History of the Modernist Novel (2016). His online projects include the Digital Newsstand, an online re-creation of a newsstand from 1925.

Laurie Powers

Laurie Powers, an Ada Comstock Scholar graduate of Smith College, developed her interest in pulp fiction in 1999 when she discovered that her paternal grandfather, Paul S. Powers, (1905–1971) had been a successful writer of stories that appeared in magazines such as Weird Tales, Wild West Weekly, Western Story Magazine, Real Detective Tales, Thrilling Western, and many more. Since then, Laurie has been very active in the community of pulp fiction historians, writers, and collectors. She wrote the prologue and epilogue that appear in her grandfather’s memoir, Pulp Writer: Twenty Years in the American Grub Street (University of Nebraska Press, 2007), has published several collections of her grandfather’s stories, and has spoken to a variety of audiences on the history of pulp fiction. Laurie is now writing a biography of Daisy Bacon, editor of Love Story Magazine, and has written articles and book introductions about Bacon and the romance pulps

(6) ONE WRITER’S PROCESS.

(7) KISS ANOTHER HISTORIC HOUSE GOODBYE. According to Los Angeles Magazine, “The Home Where Walt Disney Founded His First Studio Is Set to be Demolished”.

New owners have requested a demolition permit for Walt Disney’s first home in California. The well-preserved 1914 Craftsman bungalow at 4406 Kingswell Avenue in Los Feliz belonged to Walt’s aunt Charlotte and uncle Robert Disney, who in July of 1923 invited their young nephew to board in their home (at a rate of $5 per week) as he pursued his dream of becoming a film director. The 2-bedroom, 1458 square-foot home would stay in the Disney family for 30 years. Charlotte moved next door in 1955, spending five decades on Kingswell. When it was sold again in 1977 the owners described it as having “lots of wood trim, fireplace & cheery breakfast room.” The home exhibits tremendous architectural integrity, with the same porch, gables, shingles, windows, and beveled glass door that greeted 22-year-old Walt Disney.

According to the Los Angeles County Assessor the property was sold two months ago to Sang Ho and Krystal Yoo of Studio City, who submitted plans on Friday for a new 2-story, 1 or 2-family home they plan to build on the site. In November, the City of Los Angeles Survey L.A. program declared the property eligible for the National Register of Historic Places for its role as Walt Disney’s first studio in California. The same city planning department is now considering issuing a permit for its destruction.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 23, 1982 — Actor Vic Morrow and two child actors were killed when a helicopter crashed on the movie set of The Twilight Zone.
  • July 23, 1999 — Disney’s Tarzan became the first all-digital film.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born July 23, 1989 – Daniel Radcliffe

(10) WISE CRACKS. Ethan Mills at Examined Worlds reviews “Tectonic Fantasy: Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin”.

N. K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season is a difficult, complex, and engrossing tale.  Let me focus on the plot structure, the worldbuilding, and the major theme of living within unjust social structures….

Building a Volatile World The worldbuilding is amazing.  The Stillness (the sarcastically-named continent where it all takes place) is on a world of intense geological activity, which every few hundred years creates a “Fifth Season” that wipes out a lot of the life on the planet.  Worldbuilding aficionados will love the historical appendix that tells the history of each Fifth Season going back several thousand years.  There’s also a glossary for more general terms, which is helpful for forgetful readers like me (although most of the terms can be understood in context as you read the novel).  It’s obvious as you’re reading that this is the first book of a trilogy, so while I look forward to learning more about the characters, I’m most interested to learn more about the world.

(11) HUGO CHANGES. Steve Davidson gives “A 3SV Endorsement” at Amazing Stories.

3SV would insert an additional vote between nominations and final voting.  (Nominations > 3SV > Final Vote.) Up to the top 15 nominees in each category are presented to the voters, who in effect have an opportunity to preemptively vote No Award for each of the 15 nominees.  Based on the criteria of the proposal (here), nominees that receive above a certain threshold of “reject” votes during this round are removed from the list of 15 and the remaining top 5 nominees – based on the original nomination counts – are then placed on the final ballot.

Nominees of questionable origin, undeserving nominees and nominees gamed onto the ballot can be removed at this second stage, which will prevent bad actors from acquiring a “Hugo Award Finalist” designation;  voters will not have to choose to vote for something reprehensible or No Award the entire category;  the effectiveness of slate voting will be seriously reduced, if not eliminated.

The bar for rejection is high – 60% – so it is unlikely that anything but those works generally perceived as having arrived on the ballot through unfair means will be eliminated during the process.

(12) FANTASTIC BEASTS. There’s been an inundation of trailers tailored for showing at the San Diego Comic-Con. I’m including several in today’s Scroll.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Comic-Con Trailer

(13) JUSTICE LEAGUE. Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment showed footage of Zack Snyder’s Justice League in Hall H.

(14) KONG. SciFiNow has a good intro: “Kong Skull Island trailer crash-lands in modern day”.

The first trailer for Kong: Skull Island has come rampaging in…

Letting us know that this is brought to us by same folks who created Godzilla, this should have given us a hint of what to expect from Kong: Skull Island. We’ll be honest though: we weren’t prepared for this.

Leads Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson don’t get a single line of dialogue. Instead, co-stars Samuel L Jackson and John Goodman get their time to shine in this modern-day reimagining of the King Kong mythos.

 

(15) MARVEL AND NETFLIX AT SDCC.

San Diego Comic Con Sizzle presented by Marvel and Netflix

A look back at Daredevil and Jessica Jones as we get ready for Luke Cage. All episode of Daredevil and Jessica Jones now streaming on Netflix. Luke Cage premieres on September 30.

 

Marvel’s Iron Fist – SDCC – First Look – Netflix [HD]

Marvel’s The Defenders – SDCC Teaser – Netflix [HD]

Marvel’s Luke Cage – SDCC – Teaser – Netflix [HD]

(16) MARCHING DOWN THE AISLE. Elaborate cosplay at SDCC.

(17) SOME DARE CALL IT ACTING. Hello Giggles really likes Margot Robbie.

This brand new “Suicide Squad” trailer ONLY features Harley Quinn and thus, it is awesome

Is it too early to start an Oscar campaign for Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad? This is a very serious question. She shouldn’t just with an Oscar for her role in the upcoming DC movie, but maybe like, four. And also probably an Emmy, and a Tony, and let’s just give her a Pulitzer and a Nobel Peace Price, why not. All the awards for Robbie, who is about to make WAVES as Harley Quinn.

 

(18) EVERYBODY NEEDS A CRISIS. Time Magazine explains “Why Aliens Are So Important to Star Trek” – but are they right?

“Gene was very big on not wanting to create conflict among the characters on the show,” says Rick Berman, who led the Star Trek franchise after Roddenberry died in 1991 until 2005 and produced several series and feature films. “He felt that humans, especially Starfleet humans, had evolved to a point where he didn’t want to see conflict between them.”

Yet conflict is at the core of all great storytelling. So if the Enterprise crew couldn’t squabble with one another, Star Trek writers had to find friction elsewhere. Aliens came to the rescue. “Often we were telling stories of how humans had progressed, or not, in the far reaches of space,” says longtime Star Trek writer D.C. Fontana. “But sometimes the theme of the tale was better told by demonstrating how aliens approached or solved problems, or how they failed.”

(19) ROGUE ONE. JJ says, “They’ve done a great bit of spot-on casting for this character, whose original actress is now 83.” Movie Pilot has the story: “Mon Mothma Sure Has Changed Since We Last Saw Her”

While the original Mon Mothma, Caroline Blakiston, is now 83, and thus a little too old to play the Rebel leader in a prequel, it seems that Star Wars: Rogue One has still managed to find a way to go old school with its Mon Mothma-related casting.

Our new Mon Mothma is the same Mon Mothma we (kind of) saw in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Genevieve O’Reilly.

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

Your Darn Near Hugo-Free Auxiliary Pixel Scroll 4/27/16 Scrolljira!

Gluten-free, too!

(1) SF HALL OF FAME VOTING. The EMP Museum has opened public voting on the 2016 finalists for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. The deadline to cast your vote is May 11.

In honor of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame’s 20th anniversary, we invited the public to submit their favorite Creators and Creations. After tallying up your nominations (nearly 2,000 submissions!), a committee of industry experts narrowed down the list to the final twenty nominees.

SF Site News observed:

It is the first time the EMP will be inducting a second class into the Hall of Fame, comprised of “Creations” as well as the “Creators” who have traditionally been honored.

Creators

  • Douglas Adams
  • Jorge Luis Borges
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Aldous Huxley
  • Stephen King
  • Stan Lee
  • Terry Pratchett
  • Nichelle Nichols
  • J.K. Rowling
  • Lana & Lilly Wachowski

Creations

  • 1984, by George Orwell
  • Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott
  • Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  • Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
  • The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
  • The Star Wars media franchise, created by George Lucas
  • The Star Trek media franchise, created by Gene Roddenberry
  • “Space Oddity,” by David Bowie
  • The Twilight Zone TV series, created by Rod Serling
  • A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle

(2) OWN ONE OF THE WORLD’S BEST SF COLLECTIONS. Ebay is asking for best offers on what is billed as the “World’s Best Science Fiction Small press and Pulp Magazine Collection – High Grade”.

The owner is willing to sell it outright for US $2,500,000.00.

Details about  World’s Best Science Fiction Small Press and Pulp Magazine Collection High Grade

20,000+ Books Complete Sets Arkham House Fantasy Press

You are bidding on the most extensive, highest graded, complete set of all Small Press Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror books as well as the most extensive very rare pulp magazine collection in the world. Many of the sets below are the best in the world. A few are the only ones in the world, let alone in “like new” condition. Many are also complete (or near complete as some authors were dead at time of publication) signed sets.

You aren’t just buying a bunch of books, you are buying the rarest, and you are buying the best.

There is also a long Q&A section.

How can these things be in such high grade? Are there any fake dustjackets or facsimile reprint books?

EVERYTHING IS ORIGINAL. They are in such high grade because that’s what I go after. I have bought most of the books in the small press collection (for example) 2-4 times a piece. I love to marry high grade dustjackets to high grade books. I regularly buy the highest graded copy of any book that comes up for sale online from any of a couple dozen different book sites) as well as buy from older collectors with long time private collections. My record for any individual book is having bought it 13 times before finding a very high grade copy. Virtually none of these books came from collections I bought as a dealer. I had to buy them all individually. Most of the books I bought individually several times a piece. I’ve assembled all but one of these sets personally….

How large is the collection and book store?

Imagine a three car garage completely full from floor to ceiling, front to back without walking room in between, completely full of books. It’s the equivalent of about 350 to 400 “comic long boxes”, and will take the majority of an 18-wheeler for transportation purposes….

Why sell the personal collection and store together?

There is a lot of cross over interest, and frankly if I own even one book after this auction is over, I’ll just end up buying more….

(3) HAILED INTO COURT. Rachel Swirsky conducts a “Silly Interview with S. B. Divya, Defense Attorney for the Oxford Comma”.

1. Your bio says that “S.B. Divya is a lover of science, math, fiction, and the Oxford comma.” I am here to tell you that the Oxford comma has, unfortunately, been put on trial for its life. However, you are its defense attorney! Make your case.

Your honor, I humbly present the Oxford comma, also known as a serial comma. It is abastion of orderliness in a sea of grammatical chaos. This comma is an exemplary citizen, always obeying a simple rule: that it follows each item in a list until the last. Let us not create an exception to the rule! Let us not say, “It follows each item in a list except for the second to last and the last, which shall be joined by a conjunction.” Nay, let us stand fast against such unwieldy rule-making – such convoluted thinking – and embrace the simplicity that is embodied by this innocuous punctuation mark.

(4) CLASSIC FANZINE DIGITIZED. Linda Bushyager’s 1970s newzine Karass has been scanned and put online at FANAC.ORG.

They currently reside at http://fanac.org/fanzines/Karass/” Go there for a blast from the past (1974-1978). Lots of good artwork too, especially in the final Last Karass issue. If you don’t remember it, Karass was a SF fan newszine I published. My thanks go to Joe and Mark for doing this.

Basically, Karass passed the torch to File 770 at the end of its run. Wasn’t that awhile ago!

(5) CHINA PRESS COVERS HUGO NOMINEE. The South China Morning Post ran this story: “Young writer’s fantastical tale of class inequality in Beijing earns her Hugo Awards nomination”

Hao Jingfang says her sci-fi novelette ‘Folding Beijing’ aims to expose society’s injustices…

The nomination of Hao’s work comes after Chinese author Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem – depicting an alien civilisation’s invasion of earth during the Cultural Revolution – won best novel at the Hugo Awards last year.

Folding Beijing is set in the future, where Beijing folds up so different groups occupy different levels. The protagonist, a waste worker from the Third Space, is hired by a student in the Second Space to send a love letter to a girl in the First Space, despite strong opposition from the girl’s family due to their class difference.

(6) FAN MAIL. Kurt Busiek tweeted a fan letter he once sent to a Marvel comic calling on them to revive the quality of their letter section.

(7) BOOKMARKED. Rachel Swirsky interprets her story “If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love” in a comment at File 770.

“If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love has the clear implication that the author desires violent justice towards people who beat the narrator’s lover into a coma over either their sexuality or their ethnicity.”

OK, author talking about their own story follows. Feel free to skip.

Desires it, sure, but then is like “wow, that would suck and leave victims like me which is not okay.” Or: “I have a base desire to hurt you despite my understanding that it is morally and ethically wrong and would have terrible consequences, and I can’t even really fantasize about it without being overwhelmed by that knowledge and returned to the reality of the real world where nothing helps, nothing changes things, and certainly not revenge.”

(To a certain extent, isn’t that the *same* point Wright makes about homosexuals and tire irons? It’s his impulse, he says, but he’s not doing it, so presumably he’s aware that it is wrong–I hope–or at least that it has social consequences he doesn’t wish to encounter.)

I’m not suggesting you didn’t understand this in your comment. Just that it is a thing that confuses and bugs me about the revenge reading that’s been put forward, since it’s specifically an *anti-revenge* story.

It is an *anti-revenge* story because one of my intimate relations had recently uncovered a history of childhood physical and sexual abuse, and fuck if I didn’t fantasize about stopping or revenging it. But the damage is done. It is incontrovertible. And there is no revenge to be had; the abuser is still around, but what’s the point? It’s been thirty years. The person who did it, and the moment when it could have changed, are gone. All that’s left is the reality of the abuse and its long-lasting damage.

Not that I realized that was the impetus when I was writing it. I didn’t put it together until a lot later, that the story, and the angst I was going through over that, were related.

(I continue to have no problem with people who dislike it based on actual literary criteria, personal definitions of SF, or for sentimentality or manipulation. I would ask the folks in category two to consider noting that “it’s sff” or “it’s not sff” is actually a matter of opinion, not fact, since there is no reifiable SFF; it’s not like it’s a platonic thing that can be identified and pointed to. It’s a mobile boundary, interacting with a lot of other things. In this case, the interaction occurs around conditional tense and storytelling, which has a long history of being considered SFF in cases like The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, and folklore, but I suspect there are also works that are considered realist that use the device. I don’t actually have an investment in whether it’s SFF or not, as I cannot be moved to give a damn about genres, but I think both positions are valid.)

OK, done, thanks, needed a rant.

(8) GET YOUR SECRET DECODER RINGS READY. The signal is on its way from John Scalzi —

(9) HAIR TONIGHT. King Gillette never used this for a commercial.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, and Michael J. Walsh, for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the second shift, Brian Z.]

World War II, and a Lexicon in Time

july-1942-patriotic-pulpsBy James H. Burns: Americans have never needed a guidebook for courage. And the men who served in World War II were amongst the bravest citizens our nation has ever produced.

Yet, one of the biggest influences on that generation has remained generally uncommented on. Decades later, it can almost be viewed as a secret text, or a  vast compendium, that may well have helped prepare our country’s youth for the immense challenges that awaited them.

In the 1930s, during the height of the Great Depression–still the toughest economic calamity that ever faced the United States–ANYONE could tune in, on the radio, to the terrific adventure series, comedies and dramas that were performed LIVE, for national broadcast.

It didn’t matter if you were rich or poor, or what race or creed you encompassed. There was a wide array of delights simply waiting to be discovered.

Many youngsters, whether in the most rural climes or the toughest streets of our cities, took particular delight every day in the fictional exploits of such action heroes–and “do-gooders”–as Jack Armstrong (“The All American Boy”), Gangbusters, and The Lone Ranger.  (Other series, including Dick Tracy, Flash Gordon, and Jungle Jim, were based on popular newspaper comic strips.)

blb1492_flashgordon_forestkingdomofmongo COMP

It was truly a meritocracy of joy — everybody, potentially, could join in on the fun.

On the newsstands in the 1930s was another miracle of the imagination: pulp magazines. The roughly 10-by-7 inch magazines featured novel-length tales, or collections of short stories, in virtually every category of prose.  But it was the adventure stories that again caught the attention of many kids.

The most popular heroes, always named in the titles of their periodicals, were highlighted by Operator No. 5 (a secret service agent); Doc Savage ( a superb athlete AND genius who spanned the globe thwarting “evil masterminds,” and whom many credit as a key influence on the comics’ Superman); G-8 And His Battle Aces ( World War I air force pilots); and the crimefighters  The Spider and The Shadow (the latter inspired by a successful radio series).

3(These were magical monickers for a legion of our neighbors from coast to coast, in a time when more people seemed to take the time to read actual STORIES…)

Youngsters across the United States thrilled to this newest roster of exciting archetypes (often passing their magazines onto friends, widely increasing the publications’ already impressive circulation).

(No doubt, the radio shows had helped whet the country’s appetite for derring-do!)

For kids like my father, Hyman Birnbaum (later “Hugh Burns”), there was another phenomenon of fascination:

The science fiction pulps.

My Dad was as poor as a kid could be during the Depression, raised on the lower East Side of Manhattan, and in Brownsville, Brooklyn. (It was a period, my Dad remembered, when even the most devoted of fathers struggling to find a job could find himself on a bread line, trying to bring SOMETHING home for his family’s supper…)

But along with other teens, and men in their twenties, my father could be transported to the farthest reaches of the universe, or to the cusp of the development of a spectacular new scientific innovation.

(Having been weaned on Flash Gordon — in the comic strips, “Big Little Book” adaptations, and in the film serials starting Buster Crabbe!–my Dad’s favorites were Thrilling Wonder, Planet Stories,  and Astounding.)

Born in 1924 (like many other World War II vets), my Dad was exactly the right age for this burgeoning of  what was also called “extrapolative fiction”. (By 1939, many of science fiction’s soon to be legendary writers were making their professional debuts, including Robert A. Heinlein, Stanley G. Weinbaum, and Isaac Asimov…)

Just a few years later, my Dad was there marching with Patton’s troops, a decorated army infantryman, who also saw battle in the Hurtgen Forest, and the Ardennes.

(Ultimately, my father, like many other early science fiction fans, was drawn to a career in technology, becoming a mechanical engineer, and teaching at NYU, and for decades at CCNY, in Harlem.)

There can be no debate that my Dad, and all of his brethren in uniform, would have proved magnificent no matter what they read, or what radio shows and movies they enjoyed. But it seems likely that “the hero pulps” helped pave at least some of their paths to perceiving the merits of valor, and the benefits of serving a higher cause, to vanquish those who would both massacre liberty, and the people who embrace justice and freedom.

(I am certain that my Dad thought more than once of Flash Gordon and his exploits on the planet Mongo (pit against the treacherous “Ming the Merciless”), as he heard gunfire aimed in his direction.)

In fact, my father was still stationed in Europe, when American forces dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima. He said that it was as though the future had suddenly come to life, despite the devastation–

A concept that had existed only in the pages of a magazine, now an everyday reality.

Thanks to all our fathers–and mothers!–who strove so well in the military, we’ve had the opportunity to flourish in the greatest Democracy the world has ever known–

In what was once simply–and with gallant foresight–a happy dream of tomorrow.

2015 Pulp Convention Schedule

Pulps SMALLA rundown of 2015 pulp collector conventions is available at Yellowed Perils. The article lists a baker’s dozen which have confirmed dates.

The first of the season is Pulp AdventureCon on February 21 in Ft. Lauderdale.

The other highlights include the Los Angeles Vintage Paperback Collectors Show on March 22, the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention near Chicago on April 17-19, and PulpFest 2015 from August 13-16 in Columbus, OH.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.].

Memoir About Frank Robinson, Pulp Collector

Walker Martin has written an excellent reminiscence of Frank Robinson, friendly pulp collector at Mystery File.

Great collectors compile great collections not just by buying them but also by helping other collectors. I’ve run into this a hundred times with old-time collectors over the years. Here are some examples where Frank attempted to help me with my collection:

1. During our correspondence, Frank asked me for my want list. At the time I was collecting just about every major pulp title except for the love, sport, and aviation/war magazines. Therefore it was several pages long and handwritten. He found several of my wants and we traded back and forth. A couple months later, I received in the mail a neatly typed manuscript. It was my handwritten want list that Frank had typed and without errors. It must have taken him hours to do it.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster for the link.]

Pulp Studies at Pop Culture Conference

Papers and panels on Pulp Studies are sought for the Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association 2014 National Conference being held in Chicago, IL, April 16-19, 2014. Full details here.

CALL FOR PAPERS

Pulp magazines were a series of mostly English-language, predominantly American, magazines printed on rough pulp paper. They were often illustrated with highly stylized, full-page cover art and numerous line art illustrations of the fictional content. They were sold for modest sums, and were targeted at (sometimes specialized) readerships of popular literature, such as western and adventure, detective, fantastic (including the evolving genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror), romance and sports fiction. The first pulp Argosy, began life as the children’s magazine The Golden Argosy, dated Dec 2, 1882 and the last of the “original” pulps was Ranch Romances and Adventures, Nov. 1971.

The Pulp Studies area exists to support the academic study of pulp writers, editors, readers, and culture. It seeks to invigorate research by bringing together scholars from diverse areas including romance, western, science fiction, fantasy, horror, adventure, detective, and more. Finally, the Pulp Studies area seeks to promote the preservation of the pulps through communication with libraries, museums, and collectors.

With this in mind, we are calling for papers and panels that discuss the pulps and their legacy. Suggested authors and topics:

  • Magazines: Amazing Stories, Weird Tales, Wonder Stories, Fight Stories, All-Story, Argosy, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Spicy Detective, Ranch Romances and Adventures, Oriental Stories/Magic Carpet Magazine, Love Story, Flying Aces, Black Mask, and Unknown, to name a few.
  • Editors and Owners: Street and Smith (Argosy), Farnsworth Wright (Weird Tales), Hugo Gernsback (Amazing Stories), Mencken and Nathan (Black Mask), John Campbell (Astounding).
  • Influential Writers: H.P. Lovecraft, A. E. Merritt, Robert E. Howard, C. L. Moore, Fritz Leiber, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Donald Wandrei, Clark Ashton Smith, and Henry Kuttner. Proposals about contemporary writers in the pulp tradition, such as Joe Lansdale and Michael Chabon are also encouraged. New Weird writers and others, such as China Mieville, whose work is influenced by the pulps, are also of interest.
  • Influences on Pulp Writers: Robert Bloch, H. Rider Haggard, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jack London, and Edgar Rice Burroughs were all influences, along with literary and philosophical figures such as Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, Friedrich Nietzsche, Edgar Allen Poe, and Herbert Spencer.
  • Popular Characters: Conan of Cimmeria; Doc Savage; Solomon Kane; Buck Rogers; Northwest Smith; The Domino Lady; Jiril of Jiory; Zorro; Kull of Atlantis; El Borak; The Shadow; The Spider; Bran Mak Morn; Nick Carter; The Avenger; and Captain Future, among others. Also character types: the femme fatale, the he-man, the trickster, racism and villainy (such as Charles Middleton’s Ming the Merciless), and more.
  • Artists: Popular cover artists including Margaret Brundage (Weird Tales), Frank R. Paul (Amazing Stories), Virgil Finlay (Weird Tales), and Edd Cartier (The Shadow, Astounding).
  • Periods: The dime novels; Argosy and the ancestral pulps; Weird Tales, Amazing Stories, and the heyday of the pulps; the decline of the pulps in the 50s and 60s; pulps in the age of the Internet.
  • Theme and Styles: Masculinity, femininity, and sex as related to the heroic in the pulps; the savage as hero, the woman as hero, the trickster as hero, etc.
  • Film, Television and Graphic Arts: Pulps in film, television, comics, graphic novels and other forms are especially encouraged. Possible topics could include film interpretations such as Conan the Barbarian, comic book incarnations of pulp magazines and series; “new weird” reinventions of the pulps such as the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and The Watchmen; fan films; and newer productions, including the recently released Solomon Kane and Conan.
  • Cyberculture: Cyberpulps such as Beneath Ceaseless Skies and pulp-influenced games such as the Age of Conan MMORPG or the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game.

These are but suggestions for potential panels and presentations. Proposals on other topics are welcome.

[Via Rick Thomas and Andrew Porter.]

Pulp Renaissance

The 2013 Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention runs April 12-14 in Lombard, IL. Organizers Doug Ellis and John Gunnison predict it will be the largest yet. They’ve sold out all 150 tables in the dealers room. Over 200 lots of material from the collection of Jerry Weist will be on the block at the con’s Friday night auction. And Sunday’s program will emphasize pulp’s promising future.

Wait, pulp has a future? Yes, and a present too.

Decades ago Ed Cox astonished me by opening copies of early pulps in his collection that still had ivory-white pages like they were fresh off the newsstand. Thereafter I associated “pulp” with the effort to collect and preserve these venerable relics of science fiction history, but nothing more.

I’ve discovered I was too pessimistic.  Pulp writing and publishing never really went away. If no longer conducted on the scale of Ziff-Davis with 200,000-copy runs, pulp does occupy its own niche in the market. That’s something to ponder, amid speculation about the survival of a market for physical books. (Though it must not be overlooked that some “pulps” appear in digital editions).

Tommy Hancock explains pulp’s continued heartbeat on the New Pulp site:

New Pulp is fiction written with the same sensibilities, linear storytelling, pattern of conflict, and creative use of words and phrases of original Pulp, but crafted by modern writers, artists, and publishers.  New stories with either completely original characters or new tales of established characters from Pulp past.   It’s really that simple.  New Pulp is Pulp written today.

So much New Pulp is now available, including work from noted pulp historians such as Will Murray and Tom Johnson as well as the entire Wold Newton family of creators and beyond.   Add to that the literal multitude of mavericks and new guns that have stepped forward, myself thankfully included, and New Pulp is suddenly more than just a group of guys and gals telling stories like the ones we grew up on.  It’s its own movement, its own subgenre, within Pulp as a whole. 

The New Pulp Movement will be celebrated by Windy City Pulp & Paper Convention in five-hour program block. Ron Fortier, Managing Editor of Airship 27 Productions and Tommy Hancock, Managing Editor of Pro Se Productions have arranged three panels and eight authors’ readings. They’ll be joined by Chris Bell, Rob Davis, Joe Bonnadonna, David C. Smith, Wayne Reinagel, William Patrick Maynard, David White and Terrence McCauley.

The con will also hosts the Pulp Factory Awards, given to the best in new pulp fiction and artwork.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

 

Pulp Factory Awards

 

Rusty Hevelin’s House Burglarized

The late Rusty Hevelin’s house was broken into and trashed reports Jack Cullers on a fannish e-mail listserv.

Cullers checks on the place from time to time for Rusty’s son, Bruce. Based on a tip from a neighbor he found a door had been jimmied open, the interior had been torn apart and water left running in the basement. When told the news by Cullers, Bruce inquired about damage to the pulps in the basement, and Cullers told him they were gone.

It is not clear what pulps were in the basement. However, Kathryn Hodson, Special Collections Department Manager, University of Iowa Libraries, confirm that the Hevelin collection has already been delivered to the University of Iowa as announced in its its April press release.

Update 06/25/2012: Added information received from UI. // Gregory J. Prickman of the University of Iowa Libraries adds:

Rusty’s collection is indeed safe at the University of Iowa–we worked diligently to bring it here because we knew it wouldn’t be safe for long in his house. There were some pulps left in the basement, they were duplicates that Rusty had set aside. We took a certain percentage to have some teaching copies of a few things and the rest were intended for one of Rusty’s dealer friends. I’m sorry to hear that he may not have picked them up, but Rusty’s collection, at least, is safe.