Pixel Scroll 1/11/18 Agent 770, With A License To Scroll

(1) YOUNG PEOPLE. James Davis Nicoll asked the crew at Young People Read Old SFF their response to Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild”. Two of the four readers said it was their first experience with the author. (The others didn’t say one way or the other.)

Octavia E. Butler was one of a small handful of African American SF authors back in the 1970s, an era when SF was often whiter than a crowd of naked albinos holding loaves of Wonder Bread in a snowstorm. Butler’s stories often focused on people doing their best from a position of profound weakness, striving despite slavery, apocalypse or worse. This example of her work won the 1984 Nebula Award for Best Novelette, the 1985 Hugo Award for Best Novelette, the 1985 Locus Award for Best Novelette and the 1985 Science Fiction Chronicle Award for Best Novelette.

Young People Read Old SFF also recently tackled “The Light of Other Days” by Bob Shaw. Some liked it, but Mikayla did not disappoint….

Bob Shaw was born in Northern Ireland. Over the course of the three decades of his career, he won three BSFA awards and was nominated for the Hugo, the Locus, the Campbell, and the Clarke.

The Light of Other Days is an atypical Shaw. It is a classic idea story, a story in which an author tries to show unexpected implications of some new development. Slow glass, a material in which the speed of light is so slow it takes decades for light to pass from one side to the other of a thin sheet, was one of the rare examples of an idea veteran editor John W. Campbell considered actually original at the time of publication. It was shortlisted for the Nebula Award for Best Short Story and for the Hugo Award for Best Short Story.

Of course, just because professionals and fans liked a story half a century ago is no guarantee modern readers will. Let’s see what they thought….

(2) HUNGARIAN BLOGGER. Bence Pintér recommends the new English-language blog of Balázs Farkas, a Hungarian author; especially his post on Black Mirror.

Black Mirror needs to reinvent itself. The sooner, the better.

Don’t get me wrong. The fourth season has cleverly written, beautifully directed episodes throughout, as usual. It’s still the prime science-fiction anthology, and one of the most relevant TV series, even if contemporary science-fiction writers and futurologists already explored most of its ideas. The problem is, the new season didn’t have any new ideas, at all…

Also recommended, his thoughts on the comedy in Get Out

Last year Get Out was nominated for a Golden Globe in the category of Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. Many consider Get Out one of the best horror films of 2017. I was intrigued for months, but I rarely watch movies nowadays, but I decided to see Get Out for myself and see whether it’s a comedy or a horror. Well, I found out it’s neither, but can be interpreted as both, and it’s really fascinating to see why.

And on the short fiction of Aleister Crowley.

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”

The interesting thing about Aleister Crowley is that he really believed this. We don’t consider him a fiction writer (at least not primarily), but he went and did it for a while, because he could do whatever and whenever. So he wrote fiction, but only between 1908 and 1922, that’s merely fifteen years from his prolific and incredibly versatile mind. This was an era when he approached the literary world as a critic and writer, although at first quite reluctantly (“I had an instinctive feeling against prose; I had not appreciated its possibilities,”  he wrote, later admitting that“the short story is one of the most delicate and powerful forms of expression”). He wasn’t only a writer, but he still made sure that his legacy includes a large collection of miscellaneous prose, now presented in a prestigious (and affordable) Wordsworth edition, titled The Drug and Other Stories.

(3) INSIDE THE SHELL. In The New Yorker, Teddy Wayne tells why “A Storm Trooper Reconsiders His Support for Snoke”.

…Except things started changing when Snoke passed that big tax bill. The very next day, we’re told our pensions are getting cut—which hardly matters, because Storm Troopers have a seventy-five-per-cent fatal occupational-injury rate. (Some from combat, but mostly guys falling into chasms off narrow ship walkways that for some reason don’t have guardrails.)

Sure, the galaxy’s health insurance wasn’t perfect, but at least I got a little subsidy from Vadercare. Snoke repeals the individual mandate and all these Storm Troopers, fresh out of the academy, thinking they’re invincible, go, “Awesome—I’m young and healthy, Han Solo’s dead, screw it.” My premiums suddenly shoot through the roof, so I’m going without it this year and hoping I don’t run into a freaking Jedi Knight. But how am I gonna pay for the infirmary visit when a trespassing Resistance fighter conks me on the head to steal my uniform and gain access to a ship’s inner sanctum, which now seems to happen every other year? And if my arm’s sliced off with a lightsabre, you think my Storm Trooper’s comp will cover the robotic prosthetic?

(4) A FAITHFUL 451. The Hollywood Reporter interviews co-writer, exec producer and director Ramin Bahrani, who assures them “HBO’s ‘Fahrenheit 451’ Will Stay True to Ray Bradbury’s Central Themes”.

Bahrani, who co-wrote the telepic alongside Amir Naderi and reteams with Shannon after he starred in their feature 99 Homes, confessed that he told his agent at one point that he should call HBO and refund the network’s money because he felt that he couldn’t finish the script. He spoke at length about the parallels between Bradbury’s 1953 work and what’s happening in the world today.

“I don’t want to focus so much on [Trump] because I don’t want to excuse the 30 to 40 years prior to that; he’s just an exaggeration of it now,” he said. “I don’t want us to forget what Bradbury said — that we asked for this. We elected [politicians] over many decades, we’re electing this thing in my pocket [pulls out his cellphone]. Between the technological advancements in the last 20 years and politics, Bradbury’s biggest concern about the erosion of culture is now.”

Bahrani said he never had the opportunity to meet with Bradbury before his death but did an extensive amount of research, watching and reading multiple interviews and more. “Bradbury’s novel was set in the future where he was predicting having screens on the wall that you could interact with. Social media and supercomputers like my phone are real now. [The film] is not set in the distant future like Bradbury’s novel but an alternate tomorrow where technology is here right now — like Amazon’s Alexa,” he said. “One of the things in the film is storing knowledge, books in DNA. This exists now. All your drives could be stored 100-fold in DNA. There was no reason to put it in the future; it’s just [set in] a strange tomorrow.”

(5) THE TOLL. Kameron Hurley, who I admire for her unflinchingly transparent posts about her life as a writer, tells a heartbreaking story about her experiences in 2017 — “The Year I Drowned My Emotions”.

Depression is a complex state of being. I know we want to try and pretend it’s easy. Just pop a pill, increase your meds, try new meds, find something that works! But there’s also depression caused by external forces, and that’s the sort of depression that you can paint over with pills, sure, but the root of it is still there, like painting over a crack in your wall.

I was already feeling overwhelmed and deflated in the months leading up to the election. I was struggling with the reality that I’d produced three books in a year but still had to function at a day job, and the relentless treadmill of publishing was still going, without the sort of reward I needed in order to maintain my sanity. I’ve talked before about how writing all those books and then promoting books and having a weird dude-bro day job (at the time) conspired to murder me. What we don’t acknowledge is that when you experience that kind of breakdown followed by grief and disappointment, you can’t just… get back up like nothing happened.

(6) HADLEY OBIT. At ComicMix, Glen Hauman reports “Cinamon Hadley, The Girl Who Was Death, Has Died”.

Cinamon Hadley, whose appearance inspired the look of Death in the Sandman comic series, passed away today according to Sandman co-creator Neil Gaiman.

The body-piercer and goth icon whose portrait was immortalized as the second eldest in a family of anthropomorphized forces called the Endless, Hadley was described as extremely tall, extraordinarily thin, with bone-white skin, impeccable make-up and thin, black hair.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born January 11, 1937 — Felix Anthony Silla, known for his role as the costumed character of “Cousin Itt” on television’s The Addams Family.

(8) ADVENTURE OR COOKBOOK? Having seen the movie, this one has me a little worried – Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Chewie and the Porgs:

From Emmy award-winning writer Kevin Shinick comes a lovable tale of Chewbacca the Wookiee and the pesky porgs of Ahch-To Island. Featuring adorable illustrations by artist Fiona Hsieh.

(9) WATCHWORTHY. In “Consumption: 2017”, John Harden makes “a list of everything I watched in 2017 plus my very excellent and totally correct opinions on same.”

I make this list every year, for fun and as a reference. As always, it only reflects things seen for the first time. “POLTERGEIST on TV, 14th viewing” doesn’t make the list. Nor do films not viewed in their entirety, for example, Guy Ritchie’s THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E, which got ejected from the Blu-Ray player after 15 minutes. I’d never seen Henry Cavill in anything before but he seems to emit some kind of anti-charisma particle.

I didn’t bother making a numbered best-of list this year. But if I had, LOGAN would be at the top. It’s perfect. Damn you James Mangold, for making me cry at your Wolverine movie.

(10) SLOW DOWN, YOU MOVE TOO FAST. How fast is the universe expanding? “‘Serious gap’ in cosmic expansion rate hints at new physics”.

To calculate the Hubble Constant, Prof Riess and others use the “cosmic ladder” approach, which relies on known quantities – so-called “standard candles” – such as the brightness of certain types of supernova to calibrate distances across space.

However, a different approach uses a combination of the afterglow of the Big Bang, known as the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), as measured by the Planck spacecraft and a cosmological model known as Lambda-CDM.

The Hubble Constant obtained using these data is 66.9 kilometres per second per megaparsec. (A megaparsec is 3.26 million light-years, so it follows that cosmic expansion increases by 66.9km/second for every 3.26 million light-years we look further out into space).

The gap between the two is now at a confidence level of about 3.4 sigma. The sigma level describes the probability that a particular finding is not down to chance. For example, three sigma is often described as the equivalent of repeatedly tossing a coin and getting nine heads in a row.

A level of five sigma is usually considered the threshold for claiming a discovery.

However, Prof Riess said that at the three sigma level “this starts to get pretty serious I would say”.

(11) EYES IN THE SKY. “Finnish start-up ICEYE’s radical space radar solution” — swarms of small cheap satellites for continuous coverage.

Big things sometimes come in small packages. That’s the hope of Finnish start-up ICEYE, who are about to see their first satellite go into orbit.

The young company are making waves because they’re attempting what no-one has dared try before; indeed, what many people had previously said was impossible.

ICEYE aim to launch a constellation of sub-100kg radar micro-satellites that will circle the Earth, returning multiple pictures daily of any spot on the globe, whether it’s dark or light, good weather or bad.

The special capability of synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) satellites to sense the planet’s surface whatever the conditions is loved by government and the military, obviously – and they make sure they always have access to this kind of imagery.

But here’s the rub: the spacecraft that gather this sort of data have traditionally been big, power-hungry beasts.

(12) ANCIENT WINGS. BBC invites you to “Meet the butterflies from 200 million years ago”. They evolved nectar-suckers before there were flowers.

Newly discovered fossils show that moths and butterflies have been on the planet for at least 200 million years.

Scientists found fossilised butterfly scales the size of a speck of dust inside ancient rock from Germany.

The find pushes back the date for the origins of the Lepidoptera, one of the most prized and studied insect groups.

… “These finds push back the evolution of this group with proboscises – with a tongue – by about 70 million years,” said Dr van de Schootbrugge.

“Our finds show that the group that was supposed to co-evolve with flowers is actually much older.”

(13) REEL STINKERS. ComicMix’s Arthur Martinez-Tebbel looks back on the worst of the year in “Box Office Democracy: Bottom 6 Movies of 2017”. At the very bottom is —

  1. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

If this was just about wasted potential, Valerian would easily be on the top of this list.  There are five worse movies this year but none of them have a fraction of the visual artistry displayed here by Luc Besson.  Valerian has some of the best design I’ve seen in a movie all year and two of the most inventive chase sequences maybe ever.  It also features a terrible script that meanders forever over trivial nothing and merrily skips past dense plot without a moment for inspection.  I loved watching the action but I never really understood why any of it was going on.  Toss on top some of the worst chemistry I’ve ever seen between an on-screen couple (and honestly maybe Dane DeHaan isn’t ready to be a leading man) and this is an unpleasant movie to watch at any volume above mute.

(14) BURROWER DOWN UNDER. Introducing Vulcanops jennyworthyae – “Giant bat: Remains of extinct burrowing bat found in New Zealand”

The fossilised remains of a giant burrowing bat that lived in New Zealand millions of years ago have been found on the country’s South Island.

The teeth and bones of the extinct bat were found to be three times the size of an average modern bat.

The bat, which weighed around 40g (1.41oz), not only flew but also scurried about on all fours looking for food.

The remains were recovered from ancient sediments near the town of St Bathans.

(15) ALTERED CARBON. Netflix has released Altered Carbon Official Trailer # 3.

In the distant future, human consciousness can be digitized and downloaded into different bodies. Brought back to life after 250 years by Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy) the richest man on Earth, ex-Envoy soldier Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman / Will Yun Lee) must solve Bancroft’s attempted murder for the chance to live again in a world he doesn’t recognize. Altered Carbon debuts exclusively on Netflix February 2nd, 2018.

 

(16) SCORCHED EARTH. The Official Trailer –

The planet has suffered an environmental collapse; the air became dangerous to breathe, the water became toxic, and billions of people died. Generations later, mankind has finally re-established a rudimentary society, in an attempt to pick up the pieces that continue to blister in the sun. Attica Gage (Gina Carano) is a bounty hunter with a chance at the bounty of a lifetime: to bring down the ruthless outlaw, Elijah Jackson. Gage infiltrates Jackson’s gang, and everything is going to plan until she meets a slave girl who reminds her of her dead sister. With her loyalty to only herself now tested, Gage learns that there might be more to life than just survival.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 1/7/18 Your Majesty Is Like A Scroll With Pixels On Top

(1) BOOK SMUGGLERS AT 10. Happy birthday to The Book Smugglers. They celebrated their tenth anniversary today:

Welcome to Smugglivus 2017: A Year In Review. Today, January 7, 2017, is our bloggoversary–and it’s a big one. Today we officially turn ten years old. To celebrate, we’re looking back at 2017 to document our year, as well as our top 10 moments since starting The Book Smugglers a decade ago.

A lot of interesting achievements and reminiscences in this post.

(2) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Myke Cole and Joseph Helmreich on Wednesday, January 17, 2018, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street, New York).

Myke Cole

Myke Cole is the author of the military fantasy Shadow Ops series and its prequel trilogy, the Reawakening series, both from Ace/Roc. His Sacred Throne series is forthcoming from Tor.com in February. His first nonfiction (military history) book, will be out from Osprey in the fall. Myke appeared on CBS’ hit TV show Hunted, as part of a team of elite investigators tracking fugitives across the southeastern United States.

Joseph Helmreich

Joseph Helmreich has contributed writing to NewsweekNY Daily News, and Tor.com, and is author of the recent sf thriller, The Return (St. Martin’s Press, March 2017) about a physicist who gets abducted by an alien ship on live TV.  When not writing, Joe is a ventriloquist, illustrator, voice-over actor and member of alternative folk duo, Honeybrick. He lives in New York City and works in film distribution.

(3) SALAM AWARD. The 2018 jury for the Salam Award will be Elizabeth Hand , E. Lily Yu and Anil Menon. The award promotes imaginative fiction in Pakistan.

Last year’s winner was Firuza Pastakia for her story The Universe is a Conscientious Gardener.

(4) FANTASY MINIATURES. Dangerous Minds showcases some cute miniature models of Fauns, Jackalopes, Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen, and Unicorns. Here’s Exhibit A:

Warning: Cuteness overload ahead

Silvia Minucelli is an engineer and freelance artisan who creates itsy-bitsy, ickle figurines using polymer clay and a toothpick—can you imagine how painstaking and difficult that must be? Minucelli produces and sells her delightful models under the name Mijbil Creatures—named after the famous otter in Gavin Maxwell’s book Ring of Bright Water.

(5) PKD ON TV. The New York Times’ Jonathan Ringer tells how “With ‘Electric Dreams,’ Philip K. Dick Gets the TV Anthology Treatment”.

…The actors attracted to the series included Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad” (also one of the show’s executive producers), Steve Buscemi, Maura Tierney and the avant-R&B singer Janelle Monáe. And “Electric Dreams” attracted writers and directors like Dee Rees (“Mudbound”), Peter Horton (“American Odyssey,” “Thirtysomething”) and Alan Taylor (“Game of Thrones”).

Dick’s daughter, Isa Dick Hackett, whose production company Electric Shepherd oversees adaptations of her father’s work, reached out in 2012 to Mr. Dinner, executive producer of FX’s “Justified,” and invited him to look at the short stories. “Michael really had the idea to do it as anthology,” said Mr. Moore, a friend of Mr. Dinner’s who was brought on soon after.

Mr. Dinner, who had a deal with Sony, also recruited Mr. Cranston, who, like the others, is a major Philip K. Dick fan. All four brought in people they’d worked with as well as reaching out to talent they admired. “I sent Janelle Monáe a letter and asked her if she’d want to be a part of it,” Ms. Hackett said. “I knew that she was a big fan of my dad’s.”

David Klaus sent these comments with the link:

There’s an irony in that Star Trek was sold as the first s.f. t.v. series unlike previous s.f. series which had all been anthology shows, to have continuing characters and standing sets, to reduce production costs.

It could also be said another of Robert Heinlein’s great gifts to science fiction was the typewriter he bought and gave to PKD so that he could earn his way out of being so broke he couldn’t pay a library overdue fine.

(6) BLATHER. The New York Times interviewed an expert about “How To Speak Gibberish”. And it wasn’t even a member of Congress.

… In 2014, Sara Maria Forsberg was a recent high-school graduate in Finland when she posted “What Languages Sound Like to Foreigners,” a video* of herself speaking gibberish versions of 15 languages and dialects. Incorporate actual phonology to make a realistic-sounding gibberish. “Expose yourself to lots of different languages,” says Forsberg, now 23, who grew up speaking Finnish, Swedish and English.

Assemble your raw linguistic materials. Shortly after her YouTube video went viral — it has since been watched more than 19 million times — Lucasfilm contacted Forsberg and asked her to make up a language for one of the alien fighter groups in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” The actors were Indonesian, so Forsberg studied online videos in various Austronesian languages including Bahasa Indonesia and Sundanese, a language spoken in western Java. “Listen for repeated syllables,” she says. Write them down phonetically. Note the rhythm of the language. Look at the way a speaker’s lips and tongue give shape to his or her words. You don’t need to be a linguist to get an impression of real syntactic rules, which you can borrow. It helps to love listening to the singsong quality of people talking. For Forsberg, “it’s like music.”…

(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.

A friend was watching Queen of Outer Space with Zsa Zsa Gabor and noticed the title stuff did not appear until 17 minutes into the flick.

He then recalled that George Lucas was fined by the Directors Guild for not having the opening credits.  George paid the half million dollar fine and quit the Guild — see “How famous Star Wars title sequence survived imperial assaults” at The Conversation.

Star Wars creator George Lucas had to fight to maintain his vision of going straight into the story through the use of his rolling text sequence. He thought that opening credits were nothing to do with making a movie, seeing them as an example of the old-school posturing that he and his new Hollywood contemporaries had spurned. In this he could well have been inspired by George Mélies’ A Trip to the Moon (1902), which is regarded as the first sci-fi film and avoided using any credits because the visual narrative was so strong.

Lucas did end up having to put the studio and Lucasfilm idents at the start of the reel, but he put his own directing and producing credits at the end of the film. He argued that credits would destroy the impact of the opening, and put them at the end of the film instead.

Lucas did the same thing for Empire Strikes Back in 1980, which was directed not by himself but by Irving Kershner. This time the Directors Guild of America objected, even though Kershner didn’t mind. The guild wanted the movie withdrawn from theatres, the opening re-titled with Kershner’s directing credit at a cost of US$500,000 (£1.4m today), and that Lucas pay a $25,000 fine.

Lucas was incensed and took the guild to court. When it countersued, he decided to pay the fine to avoid entangling Kershner in the dispute. It was a pyrrhic victory for the guild, however. Lucas resigned from both the writers’ and directors’ guilds and all future Star Wars opening titles were untouched and consistent with the original.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 7, 1929 — The Buck Rogers in the 25th Century A.D. comic strip debuted. (The character’s first appearance was in a story published by Amazing Stories in 1928.)

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • January 7, 1934 – Flash Gordon. This has been long regarded as his “birthdate” because that was the day Alex Raymond’s strip was first published.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) WOMBAT ON THE AIR. Information wants to be free —

(12) REMEMBERING THE GREAT RAY BRADBURY. Steve Vertlieb hopes you will read his piece for AmericanMusicPreservation.com, “A Ray Bradbury Remembrance (Film Music Review 14th Anniversary Special)”.

Here is my affectionate tribute to cherished friend Ray Bradbury, whose loving presence occupied my world and my heart for nearly four decades. Ray was one of the most distinguished writers of the twentieth century and, with H.G. Wells, perhaps the most influential, legendary science fiction writer of the past one hundred years. More importantly, however, Ray was a gentle little boy whose love of imagination, fantasy, and stories of other worlds influenced hundreds of writers and millions of admirers all over the world. His monumental presence upon this planet warmed and inspired all who knew him, and I was honored to call him my friend for thirty-eight years. Here, once more, is my loving remembrance of the life and world of Ray Bradbury, “I SING BRADBURY ELECTRIC.”

Steve’s article begins —

He was a kindly, gentle soul who lived among us for a seeming eternity. But even eternity is finite. He was justifiably numbered among the most influential writers of the twentieth century. Among the limitless vistas of science fiction and fantasy he was, perhaps, second only in literary significance to H.G. Wells who briefly shared the last century with him. Ray Bradbury was, above all else, the poet laureate of speculative fiction.

(13) KARMA. The house directly to the left of what was Ray Bradbury’s is listed on Air BnB and other sites as a party rental  You can even search for it by name, Cheviot Wonderland.

The large floor plan with gorgeous floor to ceiling windows overlooking the breathtaking pool area makes entertaining a breeze. With a state of the art chef’s kitchen and dining room that seats 10, tastefully dazzle your guests with a perfect setting for your dinner parties.

Los Angeles architect Thom Mayne razed Bradbury’s longtime Cheviot Hills home and built a place of his own design, which was finished in 2017.

(14) SIMULTANEITY PRINCIPLE. Andrew Porter points out there will be two conventions a few miles apart, same town, same weekend, July 27-29. Confluence is at the Sheraton Pittsburgh Airport Hotel. And Pulpfest is at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry. He says —

They’re about 8 miles apart, NW of downtown Pittsburgh. You’d think both conventions could do some sort of deal together. Maybe a shuttle between the two. I bet both sets of dealers would be happy with the exposure.

Also, judging from people’s Facebook posts, Confluence will be gaining some writers who have been trimmed from ReaderCon programming (another July convention).

(15) ANOTHER ADDICTIVE GAME. They say literally anybody can play: “China’s Most Popular Mobile Game Charges Into American Market”.

Chinese tech giant Tencent is trying to do something that’s never been done before: take the biggest online mobile game in China global.

Kings Of Glory, sometimes also translated as Honor Of Kings, boasts over 200 million monthly players worldwide. In China, it’s been reported that tens of millions play daily. The game is so popular that Tencent had to implement a daily time restriction for young players to “ensure children’s healthy development.”

(16) JUST IN TIME. The doctor will see you – right after he levels up. “Gaming addiction classified as disorder by WHO”.

Gaming addiction is to be listed as a mental health condition for the first time by the World Health Organisation.

Its 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD) will include the condition “gaming disorder”.

The draft document describes it as a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour so severe that it takes “precedence over other life interests”.

Some countries had already identified it as a major public health issue….

(17) MORE TRIVIA. Mad Genius Club has 10 times more people who want to read JDA’s blog than we have here. At least. Didn’t we know that already?

(18) ROWLING SITES. The Washington Post’s Tom Shroder tells how to go about “Discovering the magic of Edinburgh” in a travel piece about his visit to the places where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in longhand, and a trip to Greyfriars Graveyard, whose tombs include Thomas Riddle (the real name of Lord Voldemort).

It was the first of what I came to think of as our Edinburgh Harry Potter moments — when the ordinary Muggle reality suddenly parted to reveal something magical. As it turned out, this wasn’t entirely fanciful thinking on my part. I only discovered later that J.K. Rowling herself said, in a 2008 speech accepting the Edinburgh Award, “Edinburgh is very much home for me and is the place where Harry evolved over seven books and many, many hours of writing in its cafes.”

The city’s remarkably consistent buildings of mottled brown stone blocks, the most spectacular of them with sharply peaked roofs and ostentatious turrets, are clear inspiration for the architecture of the Hogwarts School of Wizardry. The tombstones in the fabulously gloomy Greyfriars Kirkyard in the oldest part of the city bear the names of some key Potter characters — McGonagall, Moodie and, most notably, Thomas Riddle, the birth name of Harry’s nemesis, Lord Voldemort. Tourists flock to the cafes where the then-impoverished author wrote out her stories in longhand: the Elephant House, Nicholson’s (now called Spoon), the baroquely gorgeous Balmoral Hotel.

(19) ADDRESSER UNKNOWN. An anonymous piece at write.as summarizes Jon Del Arroz’ track record and concludes —

The most mind-boggling thing of all about Jon is, he insults and harasses people, then wonders why folks don’t want him around. If you call SFWA terrorists, insult women in science fiction related podcasts, insult people in the comic industry, call folks running fandom sites bigots, then openly admit you’re going to break a convention’s rules, why would you be surprised when people start banning you? You are your own worst enemy, Jon Del Arroz. I don’t believe you anymore.

(20) WHAT THOSE TINY HANDS ARE FOR. Thanks to ScienceFiction.com I discovered this artistic triumph — “Colorado Symphony Performs ‘Jurassic Park’ Theme Led By A T-Rex”.

Last March, Colorado Symphony conductor Christopher Dragon donned a T-rex costume to lead the ensemble in a performance of John Williams’ beloved ‘Jurassic Park’ theme song. The hilarious musical moment is getting its 15 minutes of fame after a video from the concert was posted to social media.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 1/3/18 Scroll Out Wild Pixels, To The Sci Fi

(1) P STEW’S COWBOY CLASSICS. Where was I when this came out in 2016? Patrick Stewart did a fundraiser album of cowboy songs for International Rescue Committee (IRC). The album itself is sold out now, but they will still sell you a five-tune sampler at P Stew Sings.

Help save refugees in crisis

Help us save refugees fleeing for their lives. Your support right now will help innocent families fleeing Myanmar, South Sudan and other crises.

Here’s P Stew singing the theme from Rawhide.

(2) SWATTING. In The Verge, writer Katherine Cross has a follow-on to yesterday’s SWATting story — “In 2018, let’s stop pretending abusive fans are ‘passionate’”.

First, we have to take stock of what led us to this moment, including technology and gaming industries too willing to indulge the “passion” of their most ardent fans — even when that “passion” is nothing more than frothing rage and unchecked entitlement. We also have to reckon with why swatting is so potentially deadly: militarized American police forces trained to shoot first and ask questions later.

Just a few months ago, we witnessed another case of fandom gone horribly awry, which — in its own absurd way — prefigured the same entitlement and callousness on display in the instigators of the Wichita shooting. The incident is infamous now precisely for its penny-ante stupidity: fans of Rick and Morty running wild at McDonald’s restaurants that ran out of szechuan sauce packets for a promotional tie-in with the show. Several McDonald’s employees were screamed at by fans who did not receive their sauce, and treated the people behind the counter as uniformed vending machines obligated to dispense the edible fandom kitsch they desired. “Some [fans] became physical,” reported Eater, and in one Los Angeles location, police were summoned to the scene.

The restaurant giant responded to the debacle by plucking a page from the PR handbook of the gaming industry, which routinely reacts to even the most vile attacks by rhapsodizing about the enthusiasm of their fans. Take Beamdog CEO Trent Oster, who responded to a furious transphobic backlash against Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear by saying: “The last few days have showed us how passionately many of our fans care for our games.” McDonald’s, similarly, issued one ingratiating tweet after another, calling the unruly Rick and Morty fans “the best fans in the multiverse,” and saying that the company was “humbled by the amazing curiosity, passion, and energy” of the enraged sauce-seekers.

The gaming industry routinely reacts to even the most vile attacks by rhapsodizing about the enthusiasm of their fans

There’s nothing quite so emblematic of commodified fan culture as corporate representatives euphemistically describing this sort of toxicity as “passion.” This C-suite impulse — to never draw a line in the sand and to let the ugliest and loudest voices dictate what fandom should look like — inevitably privileges the bottom line over the more vulnerable people who are harmed by the colliding forces of technology and toxic fandom.

(3) BEREN AND WIFE. Olga Polomoshnova traces their real-life romance: “In the name of love: on Ronald and Edith” at Middle-Earth Reflections.

The story about one of the greatest loves in Middle-earth sprang from the greatest love of Tolkien’s life. Ronald and Edith’s tombstone in Wolvercote Cemetery in Oxford bears the names of Beren and Lúthien right under their real names, revealing to those familiar with the legend that the love of Ronald and Edith was not an ordinary one. Just like the story of the mortal Man Beren and the Elven maiden Lúthien, the story of Edith and Ronald was full of sacrifice and difficulties, but was deeply rooted in great love and affection which they managed to carry throughout their whole lives.

(4) RSR EXPANDS SPECTRUM. Rocket Stack Rank announced an increase to its “Magazine Coverage By Reviewers”.

We’re adding Jason McGregor and Charles Payseur to RSR’s Recommended By list and changing our criteria for “prolific reviewer” to make up for low coverage of Apex, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Strange Horizons magazines, as shown in red in the table below.

(5) GALAXY’S EDGE TO HAVE CHINESE OWNERSHIP. SF Site News reports “Galaxy’s Edge Sale”:

Publisher Shahid Mahmud announced in the Phoenix Pick January Newsletter that they will be offering Galaxy’s Edge for free on-line. The note stated that the expansion of free material was due to a cash infusion from various sources and also noted the “imminent sale” of the magazine to a Chinese publisher.

Click to see the Galaxy’s Edge website.

(6) CUMMINS OBIT. British actress Peggy Cummins (1925-2017) passed away December 29, 11 days after her 92nd birthday. Appeared in the 1953 comic fantasy Meet Mr. Lucifer, played the murdered professor’s daughter in the classic MR James adaptation Night of the Demon (1957, aka Curse of the Demon), and contributed to Speak of the Devil: The Making of Night of the Demon (2007). She’d recently made several public appearances and her films regularly feature on the UK cable channel Talking Pictures TV.

(7) COPYWRONG. This story is all over the mainstream news, but we often touch on copyright here so it seemed a good idea to include The Hollywood Reporter story for future reference: “Spotify Hit With $1.6 Billion Copyright Lawsuit Over Tom Petty, Weezer, Neil Young Songs”.

“Spotify brazenly disregards United States Copyright law and has committed willful, ongoing copyright infringement,” states the complaint. “Wixen notified Spotify that it had neither obtained a direct or compulsory mechanical license for the use of the Works. For these reasons and the foregoing, Wixen is entitled to the maximum statutory relief.”

The complaint (read here) suggests that as much as 21 percent of the 30 million songs on Spotify are unlicensed.

Spotify hasn’t responded to a request for comment. The company may continue to challenge Wixen’s authority or it could attempt the provocative argument that it has been putting forward in the Gaudio lawsuit — that “streaming” implicates neither reproduction nor distribution rights under copyright law.

All this occurs as lawmakers turn their attention to reforming music licensing.

In late December, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) introduced the Music Modernization Act, which among other things, would end the “notice of intent” process that’s currently spelled out by Section 115. Instead, a database would publicly identify songs and potentially alleviate the way that digital services struggle to identify and locate co-authors of each of the tens of millions of copyrighted musical works. Under the proposal, digital services would fund a Mechanical Licensing Collective that would be granted blanket mechanical licenses. And rates would more closely hew to market value, with songwriters and publishers being granted audit rights.

(8) SHAPE OF SFWA TO COME. Cat Rambo announces her “Promises for the 2018 SFWA Presidency”. They end —

  1. I will work at paying attention to all the disparate groups that make up SFWA and serve their needs, particularly both our newer groups, like game writers and indie writers and groups that have in the past been underrepresented or underserved in/by the organization.
  2. I will continue to piss off a few people with what they think is my irreverent or otherwise inappropriate sense of humor/outlook/set of principles.
  3. And finally, as always, when I screw up, I’ll admit it and say what I’m doing in the future in order to do better.

(9) 451 REVIEW. Literary Hub, in “Savage and Shockingly Prophetic”, quotes what August Derleth said about Fahrenheit 451 in the Chicago Tribune, October 25, 1953.

Fahrenheit 451 was conceived out of Hitler’s burning of the books, and is all the more timely now because of the fortunately ill-fated American venture on a similar path….

(10) WORD FROM A TALKING CAT. Another author you won’t be seeing in San Jose.

(11) THE BRAVE LITTLE WHATSIT. The BBC reports: “Psychedelic toasters fool image recognition tech”.

A team of Google researchers has created psychedelic stickers that can fool image recognition software into seeing objects that are not there.

Using a toaster as an example, the team produced colourful computer-generated patterns by sampling hundreds of photographs of the appliance.

When the patterns were put next to another item, such as a banana, many neural networks saw a toaster instead.

The team said the method could be used to “attack” image recognition systems.

(12) UK BOX OFFICE. Emma Watson did it — “Beauty and the Beast pips Star Wars to be the UK’s top film of 2017”. Admittedly, Star Wars isn’t done, but this includes its first three weekends, which is usually most of a typical film’s legs.

The foe to defeat the all-action space sequel in the year-end box office rankings was Emma Watson, with her hit Beauty and the Beast.

Beauty and the Beast earned £4.1m more than The Last Jedi in 2017.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Steve Green, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Cat Rambo, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]

Pixel Scroll 12/21/17 Look! It’s The Pixel Scroll Repair Man!

(1) FRACTURED EUROPE. Bence Pintér interviewed Dave Hutchinson (in English) for his Hungarian zine Spekulatív Zóna.

The first installment of Dave Hutchinson’s Fractured Europe Sequence, Europe in Autumn will be published soon in Hungary. Years ago I read that one and the two sequels, and now I wanted to know what Mr. Hutchinson think about the future of Europe, and how he came to create a spy, who is in fact a chef.

Europe in Autumn was published only three years ago, but the near-future you imagined with a fractured Europe could be the present soon. Independence movements are booming, Brexit in talks… Do you think the world you created for the books can become reality?

It’s been kind of horrifying to watch world events over the past few years – I started writing Autumn sometime in the very late 1990s and back then the idea of a fractured Europe really was a thing of fiction, although independence movements and micronations are nothing new. Now, it seems a lot more plausible. I’d like to say that I hope the world of the books doesn’t come about; I’m a big fan of the EU ideal and of Schengen. On the other hand, Rudi’s world has always seemed to me to be vibrant and full of possibility. I’ve heard it described as a dystopia, but I don’t think it is – certainly it wasn’t intended that way. I think it would be a very interesting place to live. Whether it will actually happen, I don’t think anyone can predict that. We seem to have gone from the old black-and-white certainties of the Cold War to something a lot more uncertain and fluid, with only a very brief period of hope between them.

(2) THE GOOD STUFF. Ann Leckie returns to tell us about “Some things I’ve read lately”.

Yes, it’s time again for Some Stuff I Have Read and Liked Recently. As always–I am not a reviewer or any sort of critic, and I’m not going to try to be one.

Everfair by Nisi Shawl

Ever since I heard that Nisi was not only working on a steampunk novel set in the Belgian Congo, but that she had gone and sold that novel to Tor, I’ve been eager to read this. I finally got around to it, and I highly recommend it. It’s pretty epic, really, it covers a couple decades in time, from the POVs of a wide variety of characters. Seriously, check this out if you haven’t already….

(3) ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED. Anika Dane of Women At Warp cheers Star Trek: Discovery “I’m an Age-Appropriate Woman In Command: Hear Me Roar!”

It’s no secret Hollywood has a problem with women aging. There are fewer leading roles for women over the age of 40, and the supporting ones tend to be underdeveloped and fall into the category of mother, wife, woman sad because she’s old, or villain (sad because she’s old). …

[Discovery’s Admiral Cornwell] is experienced and she’s accomplished, and she’s Lorca’s peer, and also his superior. She couldn’t be that at twenty-seven, or thirty-six. Moreover, she’s a woman over fifty, whose eye crinkles and grey hairs have not been erased, who is presented on screen as attractive and desirable. Admiral Cornwell is not beautiful despite her age, she’s beautiful and powerful because of it.

(4) CROWDFUNDING SUCCESS. The James Tiptree Jr. Award made their Giving Thursday goal

We made it! The donations raised through our Facebook fundraiser plus the donations through the Tiptree website total more than $2400! The Tiptree Award will receive all the matching funds available to us! With the help of all who have donated and shared our fundraising message and matched the donations, we’ve raised more than $4800, half of our annual budget. Thank you all for your help. This award wouldn’t be possible without you!

Of course, it’s never too late to add your support to this successful effort. With your donations, you make possible our efforts to encourage the creation of speculative fiction that explores and expands our understanding of gender. And since the Tiptree Award is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, all donations are tax-deductible. https://tiptree.org/support-us/donate

(5) TIPTREE SYMPOSIUM TRANSCRIPTS. The expanded talks from the 2016 Tiptree Symposium have been published in Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology Issue #12.

(6) LE GUIN FELLOWSHIP. Applications are being taken for the Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellowship, sponsored by the University of Oregon Libraries Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) and the Center for the Study of Women in Society (CSWS). The deadline to apply is January 5, 2018. Full guidelines here.

Purpose: The intention of the Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellowship is to encourage research within collections in the area of feminist science fiction. The UO Libraries Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) houses the papers of authors Ursula K. Le Guin, Joanna Russ, James Tiptree, Jr., Kate Wilhelm, Suzette Haden Elgin, Sally Miller Gearhart, Kate Elliot, Molly Gloss, Laurie Marks, and Jessica Salmonson, along with Damon Knight. SCUA is also in the process of acquiring the papers of other key feminist science fiction authors.

Fellowship description: This award supports travel for the purpose of research on, and work with, the papers of feminist science fiction authors housed in SCUA. These short-term research fellowships are open to undergraduates, master’s and doctoral students, postdoctoral scholars, college and university faculty at every rank, and independent scholars working in feminist science fiction. In 2018, $2,000 will be awarded to conduct research within these collections. The fellowship selection committee will include representatives from the UO Libraries Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) and the Center for the Study of Women in Society (CSWS).

Past Le Guin Fellows — 2013: Kathryn Allan; 2014: Andrew Ferguson; 2014: Jennifer Rea; 2015: adrienne maree brown; 2016: Roxanne Samer; 2017: Theodora Goss.

(7) NAME THAT TUNE. By George, I think he’s got it.

(8) FEAT IN SEARCH OF AN AWARD. Not sure what category this deserves to win. Since he got it right the first time does that rule out editing?

(9) LAST JEDI. If reading articles about The Last Jedi now leaves me feeling jaded, then you probably started feeling that way two days ago (or fill in your own number). However, a critic for The Hollywood Reporter hooked me with the pop culture insights in “New ‘Star Wars’ Trilogy Is Failing Galactic Politics 101”.  YMMV. Also, BEWARE SPOILERS.

And that’s where we left off before the start of this new trilogy of Star Wars films. After decades of theorizing, fan fiction and “Legacy” stories, The Force Awakens had the exciting task of updating fans of the series about what happened in the decades since we last saw our favorite characters and rooted for the Rebellion. Would we see a New Republic and what would it be like? Who would be the enemy of that Republic and what would our character’s places be in it? The opportunities were endless, with the possibility of giving audiences a brand-new vision for the series, but would also require a deft touch. Yes, the series would have to build on viewers’ knowledge of Star Wars history, but it could also do what A New Hope did: thrust us into a new scenario and slowly give us more information about what transpired to get us here.

As a huge fan of the series, looking back on the new films after the opening weekend of The Last Jedi, I have to admit an incredible frustration and disappointment in the result. While walking through my local Target, I could not help but feel like The Force Awakens had failed what I’m now dubbing the “toy test”: I couldn’t pick up a Star Wars toy and tell you who each character was and their political standings in the newest round of wars, as depicted in the films.

(10) FAUX SHOW. And hey, this is sweet! The absolutely fake Disney/Pixar’s X-Wings Movie Trailer.

(11) ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES. The BBC asks “Is The Last Jedi the most divisive film ever?”

Its audience score of 54% on Rotten Tomatoes (that’s the proportion of users who have rated it 3.5/5 or higher) is the lowest of any Star Wars film, including the much-maligned prequels (The Phantom Menace has 59%).

But something else is going on too – while fans are divided, film critics were largely in agreement.

The LA Times called it the “first flat-out terrific” Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back. Time Out said it “dazzles like the sci-fi saga hasn’t in decades”. The Daily Telegraph said it is “Star Wars as you’ve never felt it”.

The Last Jedi has a critics’ score of 93% – that’s the proportion of writers who gave it a positive review – putting it level with A New Hope and The Force Awakens, and just 1% behind The Empire Strikes Back.

That puts The Last Jedi at number 49 on Rotten Tomatoes’ all-time list. And of the all-time top 100 films, The Last Jedi has by far the biggest gap between the critics’ score and the audience score.

(12) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 21, 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered at the Carthay Circle Theater in Hollywood, California
  • December 21, 1968 — Apollo 8, the first manned mission to visit the moon, is launched from Cape Canaveral.
  • December 21, 1979 C.H.O.M.P.S. and The Black Hole both premiered on this day.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY JEDI

  • Born December 21, 1948 — Jedi Master Samuel L. Jackson

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) DREAM STREAM. Nerds of a Feather contributor “English Scribbler” can say it out loud: “Television review of 2017 – the year it beat cinema”.

…Sure, I went to see The Last Jedi  this week like everyone else with the inclination and ability to do so, and it was wonderful. But it felt like, well, a box of popcorn in nutritional terms compared to the hearty vegetable stew of series below. So in no particular order, here is a very personal, haphazard list of series I have been amazed by. Whilst they don’t all quite fit into the classic Nerds Of A Feather, Flock Together genre areas, all share a spirit and flavour with the incredible works highlighted on these pages…

(1) Halt and Catch Fire (AMC)

Originally feeling like a compelling yet shallow computer nerd version of Mad Men (all mysterious arrogant male protagonist dipped in retro nostalgia), this series became, long before this astonishing forth and final season, one of the most accomplished and daring dramas of this decade, and culminated in the best conclusion to a series I’ve seen since possibly Six Feet Under (a work to which this owes much debt). Nothing else this year matched the emotional impact of seeing these five colleagues and friends arrive at a finish line that for once was allowed to be set with purpose and patience by the creators. The setting and subject became less and less relevant (though no less enjoyable) as the masterplan of the writers emerged – that this, like all the greatest tales, was about emotional connections and the rewards that they bring, and the tolls they take. The last three episodes made my smile and cry more than any film, book or other show this year. Exemplary acting, music, sound, cinematography, dialogue to wallow in… superb.

(16) HEERE’S RAY. A wise friend of mine hinted that there hasn’t been enough Bradbury in these pages lately. Let’s drop in Ray’s appearance with Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show on March 1, 1978:

(17) TWO RAYS. And Episode 17 of the Ray Harryhausen Podcast “Ray Harryhausen and Ray Bradbury”.

A very special episode of the Ray Harryhausen podcast, as we explore the Ray’s lifelong friendship with legendary author Ray Bradbury.

Phil Nichols from The Centre for Ray Bradbury Studies joins us for an in depth discussion on a relationship which was to span 8 decades. After meeting in the mid-1930s, the two became best friends, and would speak on at least a monthly basis for the rest of their lives. We explore the circumstances that would lead both men to become legends within their own fields of interest, and the early influences which inspired them both to greatness. Both Rays left an incredible archive of their own, and so we examine the parallels between the collection of the Centre for Ray Bradbury Studies, and the Foundation’s own archive.

The show also contains a never-heard-before interview with Ray Bradbury’s daughter Susan, recorded at Ray Harryhausen’s memorial in 2013, where she shares her memories of ‘Uncle Ray’ and their enduring friendship.

(18) HORTON ON SHORT SFF. One of the field’s grandmasters has added a prime story to his resume: “Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction’ at Locus Online. (Covers F&SF 9-10/17, Analog 9-10/17, Beneath Ceaseless Skies 8/17/17, Lightspeed 10/17, Tor.com 9/6/17.)

The most exciting short fiction news this month is surely the appearance in the September/October F&SF of a new story by Samuel R. Delany. Even better, “The Hermit of Houston” is exceptional work! It’s set some time in a strange future and is hard to get a grip on (the best kind). From one angle it seems a sort of pastoral utopia, from other angles utterly horrifying. It’s mostly about the narrator’s long-time lover, an older man named Cellibrex (sometimes), and about the hints he lets drop of some of the true nature of this future. There is extremely interesting treatment of gender, politics, law, custom, and memory – and I don’t get everything that’s going on in the story, in a good way. One of the stories of the year, I think.

(19) DEVELOPING FIELD. The Washington Posts’s Rachel Rackza, in “In young-adult novels, queer love stories have begun to feel mainstream”, discusses how teenage LGBT readers have read novels by Cassandra Clare, Audrey Coulthurst, and Anna-Marie McLemore and found comfort in reading YA fantasy with gay characters.

For Mackenzi Lee’s whip-smart “The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue,” the author wanted to showcase an authentically positive representation of queer identity in centuries past. “I wanted so badly with this book to say to queer teenagers: ‘You have always existed even before there were words or vocabulary or acceptance,’ ” she said. “I wanted them to know they have not only existed, but they thrived and had fulfilled romantic and sexual lives with people they love.”

(20) SUN-DAY DRIVERS. See: “What Happens When 2 Neutron Stars Collide” — text, and very short video.

An international team of astronomers has concluded that when it comes to theories about colliding neutron stars, Einstein got it right. Everybody else, not so much.

A neutron star is what’s left when a star burns out and collapses in on itself, leaving a small, incredibly dense ball.

Einstein’s theory of general relativity predicted that when two neutron stars collide, they would generate a gravitational wave, a ripple in space time.

That’s exactly what physicists saw for the first time last summer with LIGO, the new gravitational wave observatory.

(21) YOU’VE GOT MAIL. You could send wild game (dead) or people (living) once upon a time — “The strangest things sent in the UK post”

“There was nothing in the rules to say you couldn’t send people”, Mr Taft said.

In 1909 two suffragettes, Miss Solomon and Miss McLellan, used the Royal Mail’s same-day courier service to post themselves to 10 Downing Street so they could deliver their message personally to Prime Minister Herbert Asquith.

But a Downing Street official refused to sign for them and the delivery boy had to return the women and explain to his bosses why he had failed to make the delivery.

Yet Miss Solomon and Miss McLellan were not the UK’s first “human letters”.

W Reginald Bray, an accountant from Forest Hill in south-east London, claimed to hold that honour having posted himself successfully in 1900, then again in 1903 and for a last time in 1932

(22) THE NEXT GENERATION. Funny but not exactly sensitive — Robert Jackson Bennett’s post at Tor.com: “My Terrible Children Are Both Fake Geeks”.

This is way different than when I grew up, when we kept renting a wobbly VHS of A New Hope from the library, and then my dad brought home The Empire Strikes Back and suddenly we realized that they had made more of these movies, oh my God.

So the Large Son is absolutely drowning in genre exposure. He lives in an age of abundance that I was utterly denied. But does he take advantage of it? Does he religiously memorize all of the various planets, as well as the types of ships?

No. He does not. For a whole damned year he called Darth Vader “Star Vader,” and he still calls Boba Fett “Bobo Fett,” and he calls every kind of land transport an “AT-AT,” which is just abysmally fucking wrong in every kind of way. I created a spreadsheet for him but I am fairly sure he only gave it a cursory glance. Perhaps the most galling thing about it all is that, incredibly, despite having never actually watched a Star Wars movie in the six years of his life (he says they are “too loud,” which, okay, sure), he somehow already knows that Vader is Luke’s father, and he’s just utterly fucking blasé about it, too.

(23) GHOST NOUN. An annual tradition continues — Larry Correa’s “CHRISTMAS NOUN X: THE GHOSTS OF DIE HARDS PAST”. (Thoughtfully linked here to a Wayback Machine page.)

Santa gestured for one of his elves to start the PowerPoint slide show.

“As you can see, this reality is much like ours, but their timeline diverged in the 1980s. Because of the misguided actions of their less militant Christmas Ghosts, they were deprived of the greatest Christmas movie ever made.”

“The Firefly Christmas Special?” asked the elf running the computer.

“Oh no, very few lucky universes got that.” Santa chuckled, as he thought about the heartwarming scene where Jayne’s mom had knitted him a Santa hat, which he’d later used to strangle a reaver. “Besides, that was a two hour TV special that aired during Firefly’s fifth season. I’m talking about how this world was deprived of the greatest Christmas movie ever made… Die Hard.

There were gasps around the conference table. That was inconceivable. And only boring losers and communists didn’t think of Die Hard as a Christmas movie.

“I know, right? Christmas there is dull and lame now. So we’re going to use the Christmas Noun to send Tim back to 1988, so he can make sure Die Hard actually happens like it’s supposed to.”

“I don’t know, Santa… Since this crosses into another alternate universe’s jurisdiction, isn’t this a job for Tom Stranger?”

Santa shook his head sadly. “Unfortunately, since Larry Correia first started writing the Christmas Noun stories, Audible.com came along and offered him large sums of money to write Tom Stranger stories exclusively for them, so I doubt Tom will show up here. This is up to us and Tim and any other characters who we still own the rights for!”

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

Pixel Scroll 12/8/17 Is There A Hologram On My Shuttlecraft That Says ‘Dead Klingon Storage’?

(1) CHECK-IN. The 1954 Worldcon chair Les Cole and Esther Cole, who live in the vicinity of the Ventura, CA fires answered Rich Lynch’s query about how they are doing —

Thanks for asking. Les and I and doggies are OK. Fire went passed us. The air is heavy, so we stay indoors. Much of southern California is rough.

(2) HERBERT MAY BE HONORED BY HOMETOWN. Metro Parks Tacoma Public Information Manager Michael Thompson says a recommendation to name a local peninsula “Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park” and its loop trail “Frank Herbert Trail” probably will go to the Park Board for a vote in January. The proposal has been working its way through the system for some time. The News Tribune has an update: “‘Dune’ author Frank Herbert finally set to get his due in his hometown of Tacoma”:

While the Metro Parks Board will have the final say on the matter — and it’s the elected body’s prerogative to deviate or tweak — it’s clear that the public has spoken, and Metro Parks’ staff has attempted to listen. During a public outreach effort earlier this year, more than 500 possible names were submitted via an online survey. The majority of responses referenced Herbert or “Dune.”

“This name provides a simple, evocative identifier that highlights the uniqueness of the peninsula remediation and new park features,” according to the staff recommendation. “On a literary level, it honors the name of the book series by Frank Herbert, a famous Tacoma author, which was inspired by the environmental history of Tacoma’s Asarco copper smelter site, directly adjacent to the peninsula.”

Last month, Thompson helped a local radio reporter tour the peninsula with park commissioner Erik Hanberg. “‘Dune’ And The City Of Destiny: How Tacoma Inspired One Of The World’s Most Acclaimed Sci-Fi Authors”.

If you go to the base of Point Defiance in Tacoma and look east, you’ll see a finger of earth jutting into Puget Sound.

It formed as toxic slag spilled from a copper smelter during the city’s industrial heyday.

For years, it was a foreboding sliver of black, glassy material. Today, workers and machines roam the peninsula as they transform it into a grassy park with Puget Sound views.

Tacoma Metro Parks Commissioner Erik Hanberg has a space-age term for what’s going on there. He calls it “terraforming.”

(3) BACK TO THE STACK. Doris V. Sutherland does a good job framing the issues in “Rocket Stack Rumpus: Critics, Authors, and Non-Binary Science Fiction” accompanied by light analysis. Sutherland concludes:

Greg Hullender responded by writing an apology-cum-rebuttal in collaboration with Eric Wong and altering the offensive reviews. Despite this, he has paid a high price for his faux pas. Locus decided that he was unfit to recommend stories to readers and removed him from its reading list jury, making the following announcement on Twitter.

Thank you to those who brought their concerns about RSR to our attention. Greg Hullender will not be involved in the Locus Recommended Reading List. We support our wonderfully complex and diverse SF community, and hope for continued positive dialogue on these issues.

The reference to positive dialogue seems out-of-place. The Rocket Stack Rumpus marks a breakdown in communications all around, from a reviewer missing the point of the stories he was covering, to authors misreading his reviews in turn. Meanwhile, the issue of Rocket Stack Rank’s provincial approach to stories set against non-Western cultural backdrops–as flagged up by Rose Lemberg in this Twitter thread–ended up being lost alongside Hullender’s misunderstanding of non-binary SF, which is perhaps a secondary issue.

There may well be positive dialogue to come out of the controversy, but at the present moment, there is little of it to be seen.

(4) MEAT AND PROPER. Autocorrect is being blamed rather than legislators falling down on the job: ” Typo in Bill C-45 legalizes cannibalism instead of cannabis”.

Canada is one step closer to the accidental legalization of cannibalism after the House of Commons passed a typo-ridden Bill C-45, formerly known as The Cannabis Act.

“I think no one wanted to be the one to point out the error,” MP Sara Anderson said. “We all thought someone else would do it, and then they called the vote, and here we are, all voting to legalize cannibalism.”

(5) RADICAL CHANGE. If this catches on, Twitter will get awfully quiet.

(6) ANDERS STORY COLLECTION. At Locus Online, “Rachel Swirsky reviews Six Months, Three Days, Five Others by Charlie Jane Anders”.

Anders’s unique humor provides a uniting theme. Only some of the stories are explicitly comic, but all benefit from her linguistic wit and her quirky but generous characterization. Her stories seem to say with affection, “People. We’re weird. What can you do?” She’s particu­larly good at tailoring prose to her characters, revealing their lives through their diction. Char­acters go to “one of those mom-and-pop Portu­guese places” and “the kinda-sorta gay bar.”

(7) MCDUFFIE AWARD OPEN. The 4th Annual Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics is taking entries until December 31.

Please attach a link or a 15mb .PDF file of the work to be considered. When submitting work, we strongly suggest sending the first issue of a series. If submitting anything other than the first issue, a one-page synopsis of what came before must accompany the submission. Also, we suggest sending the first 25-30 pages or first chapter of a graphic novel. We cannot guarantee anything more will be considered. If one is available, please also attach a .JPG photo of the entrant to the email. Please do not include any further attachments.

The award’s three new selection committee members are Jennifer de Guzman, Jamal Igle and Mikki Kendall, who join Mark D. Bright, Joan Hilty, Heidi MacDonald, Kevin Rubio, Gail Simone, and Will J. Watkins.

(8) ELIGIBILITY POSTS. Cat Rambo is doing her annual award eligibility post round-up, this year including editors, publishers, and magazines: “2017 Award-Eligible Work Blog Posts & Roundups for F&SF”. Right now there are about 20 entries on the list. She will be doing daily updates.

(9) CLASS TOMORROW. Cat Rambo says there is still space, including a couple of free slots, in the December 9 class “Speculative Poetry with Rachel Swirsky”.

Next classes are Saturday, December 9 – 9:30-11:30 AM or Wednesday, February 7, 2018, 4-6 PM. (Each class is a separate session.)

Poetry requires intense linguistic control. Every word matters. Whether you’re a poet who wants to create fantastical verses, or a prose writer who wants to learn the finely tuned narrative power that poetry can teach, you’ll find something in this class.

(10) WRITER’S LIFE. A short interview with Ursula K. Le Guin at Shelf Awareness:

Who do you write your blog for? Do you ever read the comments, and if so, what do you learn from them, if anything?

I write them for anybody who wants to read them. (Writers live in hope.)

Yes, sure, I read all the comments. They’re mostly good-natured, and some are thoughtful and enlightening.

You say that dystopian literature is yang-driven, and its opposite–utopian literature–is also yang-driven. Is there a literature that presents a realistically complex vision of a world in balance? Or is that just fantasy?

Of course it’s just fantasy. That’s why I write fantasy…

(11) NOBODY LIKES BEING SLAPPED. Cat Rambo, talking about writers and audiences: “Nattering Social Justice Cook: This Is Not A Review”.

So why did this book hit me so hard in an unhappy place? Because it was so smart and funny and beautifully written and involved connected stories about a favorite city and magic, which are three of my favorite things. And because it had a chapter that was one of the best short stories about addiction that I’ve read, and that left me thinking about it in a way that will probably shape at least one future story.

And yet. And yet. And yet. Women were either powerful and unfuckable for one reason or another or else fell into the category marked “women the protagonist sleeps with”, who usually didn’t even get a name. Moments of homophobic rape humor, marked by a repeated insistence on the sanctity of the hero’s anus, and a scene in which he embraces being thought gay in order to save himself from a terrible fate, ha ha, isn’t that amusing. And I’m like…jesus, there is so much to love about this book but it’s like the author reaches out and slaps me away once a chapter or so.

(12) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 8, 1991 Hook premieres in Hollywood.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born December 8, 1950 – Rick Baker, the Monster Maker

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian saw that First Contact isn’t going too well in Close To Home.

(15) END OF THE MAZE. Maze Runner: The Death Cure comes to theaters January 26.

In the epic finale to the Maze Runner saga, Thomas leads his group of escaped Gladers on their final and most dangerous mission yet. To save their friends, they must break into the legendary Last City, a WCKD-controlled labyrinth that may turn out to be the deadliest maze of all. Anyone who makes it out alive will get answers to the questions the Gladers have been asking since they first arrived in the maze.

 

(16) CONTRARIAN. Go figure. While Patreon was in flames yesterday, Jon Del Arroz climbed aboard — “Jon Del Arroz Patreon Launch!”.

(17) EWW. It’s admittedly a mixed message when I say “Don’t look!” then put in a link anyway — “Here’s What It Looks Like When You Fry Your Eye In An Eclipse”.

“We were very surprised at how precisely concordant the imaged damage was with the crescent shape of the eclipse itself,” noted Dr. Avnish Deobhakta, a retina surgeon at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai in New York, in an email to NPR.

He says this was the most severely injured patient they saw after the eclipse. All in all, 22 people came to their urgent care clinic with concerns about possible eclipse-related damage, and most of them complained of blurred vision. Of those, only three showed some degree of abnormality in the retina. Two of them had only mild changes, however, and their symptoms have gone away.

The young woman described in this case report, at last check, still has not recovered normal vision.

(18) SUPPORTING SPACE EXPLORATION. Bill Nye says The Planetary Society’s latest collaboration with the Chop Shop store is mission posters for kids, like this one:

(19) TENTACLE TIME. In the garden: “‘Underwater city’ reveals mysterious octopus world”.

Once thought of as solitary creatures, scientists discover ‘underwater city’ full of octopuses living side by side

A couple of assumptions are often made about octopuses. First, that they are smart. There is truth in that: octopus behaviour such as tool use, predation techniques and puzzle-solving suggest a higher level of intelligence than other invertebrates. Everyone has watched an octopus unscrewing a jar.

Second, they have a reputation for being solitary. So solitary in fact that an official collective noun for octopuses doesn’t even exist (though ‘tangle’ has been suggested).

This may have to change, however. Over the last decade, scientists have discovered that octopuses aren’t always lone beasts. In fact, octopuses engage in rich, fascinating and unusual behaviours when they interact with each other.

(20) PATREON SURVIVOR, IF POSSIBLE. Cat Rambo is weathering the storm by asking readers how to add more value to her Patreon campaign (and also whether or not to bail from it): https://www.patreon.com/catrambo

Cat She says, “I’ve lost about 15% of my income from there so far, but I’m a very minor player. however if there is something the F&SF is not seeing from me but desperately yearns for, now’s the time to weigh in: “Patreon Changes”.

(21) FRONT PAGE NEWS. I have added to the File 770 sidebar a link to John Hertz’ review of The Glass Bead Game (Hesse), which has found a permanent online home.

(22) KRYPTON. SyFy has put out a teaser trailer for its series about Superman’s homeworld. ScienceFiction.com sums it up:

The series is set two generations before the destruction of the Man of Steel’s home planet. ‘Krypton’ follows Superman’s grandfather (Cameron Cuffe), whose House of El was ostracized and shamed, as he fights to redeem his family’s honor and save his world from chaos. The Seg-El name is both a nod to Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel and a reference to John Byrne’s 1980s miniseries, ‘The World of Krypton.’ Cameron Cuffe is set to play Seg-El alongside with Georgina Campbell as Lyta Zod.

 

(23) THE DARK SIDE. Charles Payseur turns his attention to dark fantasy and horror in “Quick Sips – The Dark #31”.

December brings a pair of stories to The Dark Magazine that focus sharply on observation and theater. In both, women drawn into roles where they are closely watched by men, and in both these experiences are further framed in terms of a sort of voyeurism. In one, a woman is filed, in the other, a woman is part of a play. Both feature stages and bring the reader in as spectators and in some ways as participants. We are the eyes that act as camera and as audience.

(24) BLOW BY BLOW. Sci-Fi Design has a gallery of “Comic Book Covers Recreated Using Balloons”.

Comic book cover art is awesome. They use a variety of styles, but have you ever seen comic book covers that are made from balloons? These awesome balloon sculptures as comic book covers were created by Phileas Flash. They take days to make and the pieces themselves fit into a 10 foot by 10-foot space. Then photoshop is used to add the letters which are also balloons. I love all of the detail that he gets with this unusual medium.

(25) POP CULTURE SUMMIT. Rolling Stone took notes: “Alice Cooper on His Dinner With David Bowie and Ray Bradbury”.

After Cooper’s initial meeting with Bowie in the late Sixties, they later forged a friendship. Once, they even had dinner together with Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury. “It was really interesting, because these guys were in outer space somewhere,” he says. “They were talking about quantum physics, and I’m going, ‘So … what kind of car are you driving?'” Cooper laughs.

(26) CAMERON PROJECT. Alita: Battle Angel Official Trailer.

From filmmakers James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez. Alita Battle Angel is in theaters July 20, 2018. Cast: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley, Keean Johnson.

 

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Cat Rambo, Greg Hullender, David K.M. Klaus, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, Rich Lynch, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Darren Garrison.]

Pixel Scroll 11/27/17 And All I Ask Is A Tall Scroll And A Pixel To Godstalk Her By

(1) MORE GIFT POSSIBILITIES. C.F. Payne, who has produced covers for Time and Reader’s Digest among others, has been doing portraits of various creatives (writers, artists, musicians, et al) as demos for his art students and selling them on his Etsy page. These three examples are Lucas, Méliès, and Bradbury.

(2) OFF THE GROUND. George R.R. Martin’s 10-episode Season 1 of Nightflyers has been greenlit by SyFy.

NIGHTFLYERS will be shot in the Republic of Ireland, I’m told, on sound stages in Limerick… which will give them access to the same great pool of Irish and British actors that GAME OF THRONES has tapped in Belfast (and considering how many characters we’ve killed, a lot of them should be available). … If all goes according to schedule, the series should debut this summer, in late July. It will be broadcast on SyFy in the USA, and on Netflix around the world.

(3) ROOM DISRUPTION. Arisia 2018 takes place January 12-15 in Boston, but they just learned they’ll have to get by with almost 200 fewer rooms in their main hotel.

Q: What happened?

A: In early November the Westin informed us that its parent company has scheduled guest-room renovations. These renovations will be happening all winter and overlap the convention. During Arisia, three floors of guest rooms will be unavailable.

“Innkeeper” Holly Nelson is appealing to members to volunteer to move their reservations to a secondary hotel:

…One month into my role, Arisia received the news from the Westin about the renovations scheduled this winter. We were told 196 rooms would be unavailable and those reservations would need to transfer to the Aloft across the street. I was shocked and worried about how we would address the situation. Arisia staff members worked with the Westin to negotiate a better deal for those who would be required to move, as well as increasing how much of the Westin is reserved for our attendees to use.

If we don’t get enough volunteers, we’ll need to make involuntary transfers. If that happens we will be considering what is best for everyone who is concerned about moving. We’re working to meet the needs of as many people as possible – with the help of Arisia staff, including our Con Chair – in the most fair, impartial way we can. I would love to avoid this unpleasant duty, but that’s only possible if you volunteer by Thursday….

There are incentives for volunteering – see the FAQ.

(4) ABOUT HUGO AWARDS SITE LINKS TO THIRD PARTIES. The official Hugo Awards website’s response to criticism of Rocket Stack Rank, one of the “Third Party Recommendation Sites” linked there, has been to add a disclaimer:

I asked Kevin Standlee, who is part of the committee that runs the website, to address the broader question of why the Hugo Awards site links to other sites and how they are chosen:

The sites we’ve added have been as they came to our attention or when people asked us to add them. But a key thing is that they had to have a fixed address. People who set up a list for one year, then a new address for another year, then another new address, and so forth, we won’t add, because it’s too difficult to maintain. That has been apparently too high a bar for most people, who want to do things like set up Google Sheets for 2017, 2018, 2019, etc, with a new one every year. I’ve turned down the people whose request amounted to, “Add my site, and constantly monitor it so that when I change it to a different address, you’ll also change yours.” I have enough trouble keeping up with routine maintenance as it is.

Renay of Lady Business, this year’s Best Fanzine Hugo winner, will recognize Kevin’s example.

(5) BLOCKED. In “Star Trek Fight:  Shatner Blasts Isaacs on Twitter”, James Hibbard of Entertainment Weekly notes that William Shatner has blocked Jason Isaacs on Twitter, because he says that Isaacs is preventing him from a guest role on Star Trek: Discovery.  Isaacs responds that since Star Trek:Discovery takes place just before Star Trek TOS, James T. Kirk would be about 16 on the show which leaves no room for Shatner.

William Shatner has set his Twitter shields to maximum.

The actor who played the most iconic Star Trek captain has blocked the newest actor to play a Star Trek captain —  Jason Isaacs on Star Trek: Discovery — on the social network following the latter’s comments in an interview.

Shatner hasn’t publicly stated a reason for the blocking. But it follows a UK tabloid story posted a couple of weeks ago headlined, “Jason Isaacs hopes William Shatner won’t appear in Star Trek: Discovery.” Which admittedly does sound pretty bad. But Isaacs didn’t say that — or at least didn’t seem to mean that — but rather was making a point about how it wouldn’t make sense to have Shatner in the series since his character would only be about 16 years old during the Discovery time period.

(6) THE LION SLEEPS TONIGHT. John Hertz could tell from the way I spelled the lyric “A-WEEMA-WEH” that I was missing cultural nuances – beginning with the correct spelling – readily available from the Wikipedia’s entry about “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”.

Apparently I’m first in directing your attention to the Zulu mbube (“lion”) and uyimbube (“you’re a lion”), the spelling “Wimoweh” by Pete Seeger, and a cross-language cross-cultural trail of creativity and intellectual property (some Filers would add “appropriation”) worthy of B. Pelz’ coinage Berlitzkrieg.

The Wikipedia says this about the song’s origin:

“Mbube” (Zulu for “lion”) was written in the 1920s, by Solomon Linda, a South African singer of Zulu origin, who later worked for the Gallo Record Company in Johannesburg as a cleaner and record packer. He spent his weekends performing with the Evening Birds, a musical ensemble, and it was at Gallo Records, under the direction of producer Griffiths Motsieloa, that Linda and his fellow musicians recorded several songs including “Mbube,” which incorporated a call-response pattern common among many Sub-Saharan African ethnic groups, including the Zulu.

(7) 2017’S TOP HORROR. The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog brings us the editors’ picks for “The Best Horror Books of 2017”. The list begins with –

Chalk, by Paul Cornell
Chalk tells the story of Andrew Waggoner, who suffers a horrifying act of violence at the hands of his school’s bullies. In his grief and anger, the boy makes contact with an old and ancient presence, which offers to help make him whole and exact terrible revenge—if he allows it. The occult horror masks a genuine exploration of how trauma can affect a person, cutting them out of the world, instilling violent fantasies of revenge, and leaving psychological wounds that linger long after the physical trauma had healed. It’s heartfelt, surreally terrifying, and utterly wrenching in ways I can only struggle to describe, and worth all the attention you can give it. Read our review.

(8) MYTHS FOR OUR TIME. Let The Guardian tell you why this is a good idea: “Mythos review – the Greek myths get the Stephen Fry treatment”.

Ever since William Godwin persuaded Charles Lamb to retell The Odyssey as a novel for younger readers in The Adventures of Ulysses (1808), the myths of ancient Greece have been retold in contemporary prose by every generation. Most of these retellings were originally poetry – the epics of Hesiod, Homer and the philhellene Latin poet Ovid, the Athenian tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides – in Mythos, Stephen Fry has narrated a selection of them in engaging and fluent prose. But do we need another version of the Greek myths in an already crowded market? Such treasured collections as Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Tanglewood Tales (1853), Edith Hamilton’s Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes (1942) and Robert Graves’s The Greek Myths (1955) are still in print. Countless family car journeys are enlivened by Simon Russell Beale’s audiobook of Atticus the Storyteller’s 100 Greek Myths. So should a reader looking for an initiation into the thrilling world of the ancient Greek imagination choose Fry’s book?

…Yet Fry’s ear is finely tuned to the quaint tonality of some of his ancient sources. This is best revealed in his retelling of two Homeric Hymns, to Demeter and Hermes. They deal respectively with the abduction of teenage Persephone and the theft by the newborn Hermes of his big brother Apollo’s cattle. Fry’s distinctive voice undoubtedly adds something lively, humorous and intimate to myth’s psychological dimension. People who enjoy his media personality and particular style of post?Wodehouse English drollery are in for a treat. He tells us that he imagines Hera, queen of the gods, “hurling china ornaments at feckless minions”. Ares, god of war, “was unintelligent of course, monumentally dense”. Baby Hermes tells Maia: “Get on with your spinning or knitting or whatever it is, there’s a good mother.” Epaphus, child of Zeus and Io, “was always so maddeningly blasé about his pedigree”.

(9) MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE TO END — WELL, NOT REALLY. “Secrets of the Marvel Universe” by Joanna Robinson in Vanity Fair is a lengthy interview with MCU supremo Kevin Feige, including the revelation that the MCU will officially end with the release of Avengers 4 in 2019, although there will still be plenty of Marvel superhero movies after the MCU ends.

On a sweltering October weekend, the largest-ever group of Marvel superheroes and friends gathered just outside of Atlanta for a top-secret assignment. Eighty-three of the famous faces who have brought Marvel’s comic-book characters to life over the past decade mixed and mingled—Mark Ruffalo, who plays the Hulk, bonded with Vin Diesel, the voice of Groot, the monosyllabic sapling from Guardians of the Galaxy. Angela Bassett, mother to Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther, flew through hurricane-like conditions to report for duty alongside Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Brie Larson, Paul Rudd, Jeremy Renner, Laurence Fishburne, and Stan Lee, the celebrated comic-book writer and co-creator of Iron Man, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men.

Their mission: to strike a heroic pose to commemorate 10 years of unprecedented moviemaking success. Marvel Studios, which kicked things off with Iron Man in 2008, has released 17 films that collectively have grossed more than $13 billion at the global box office; 5 more movies are due out in the next two years. The sprawling franchise has resuscitated careers (Downey), has minted new stars (Tom Hiddleston), and increasingly attracts an impressive range of A-list talent, from art-house favorites (Benedict Cumberbatch and Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange) to Hollywood icons (Anthony Hopkins and Robert Redford) to at least three handsome guys named Chris (Hemsworth, Evans, and Pratt). The wattage at the photo shoot was so high that Ant-Man star Michael Douglas—Michael Douglas!—was collecting autographs.

(10) BIZARRE HOLLYWOOD. Life and times: Escapes is a Winningly Off-Kilter Doc About the Screenwriter of Sci-Fi Classic Blade Runner” at The Stranger.

If the name Hampton Fancher rings a bell, you probably have strong opinions on the best version of Blade Runner. The screenwriter of that sci-fi classic, Fancher sports one of the damndest backstories in Hollywood, including acting appearances on Bonanza, literal ditch digging, and occasional bouts of flamenco dancing. The documentary Escapes tells the thoroughly odd, strangely endearing saga of a genial bullshitter who somehow keeps stumbling, if not always upwards, at least sideways through show business. Think Robert Evans with a smidge of self-consciousness, and prepare for a wild ride.

Beginning with a long, shaggy story involving Teri Garr, director Michael Almereyda (Experimenter) gives his subject ample room to spin his yarn, wittily utilizing a slew of media clips as Fancher wanders hither and yon between topics such as his relationship with Lolita’s Sue Lyon, Philip K. Dick’s hilariously unsmooth attempt to hit on Fancher’s then-girlfriend, and the sexual exploits of the (human) star of Flipper. As for Blade Runner, that seemingly career-defining experience receives the same breezy pass-through as the rest of his stories, further painting the picture of a man who’s proud of his achievements, but doesn’t always seem entirely certain of how all the dots came to connect….

(11) LONELINESS OF THE LONG-DISTANCE BURRITO. Perhaps you’ve already seen this culinary steampunk extravaganza — it’s dated 2007: “The Alameda-Weehawken Burrito Tunnel” at Idle Words.

Who can imagine New York City without the Mission burrito? Like the Yankees, the Brooklyn Bridge or the bagel, the oversize burritos have become a New York institution. And yet it wasn’t long ago that it was impossible to find a good burrito of any kind in the city. As the 30th anniversary of the Alameda-Weehawken burrito tunnel approaches, it’s worth taking a look at the remarkable sequence of events that takes place between the time we click “deliver” on the burrito.nyc.us.gov website and the moment that our hot El Farolito burrito arrives in the lunchroom with its satisfying pneumatic hiss.

The story begins in any of the three dozen taquerias supplying the Bay Area Feeder Network, an expansive spiderweb of tubes running through San Francisco’s Mission district as far south as the “Burrito Bordeaux” region of Palo Alto and Mountain View. Electronic displays in each taqueria light up in real time with orders placed on the East Coast, and within minutes a fresh burrito has been assembled, rolled in foil, marked and dropped down one of the small vertical tubes that rise like organ pipes in restaurant kitchens throughout the city.

Once in the tubes, it’s a quick dash for the burritos across San Francisco Bay. Propelled by powerful bursts of compressed air, the burritos speed along the same tunnel as the BART commuter train, whose passengers remain oblivious to the hundreds of delicious cylinders whizzing along overhead. Within twelve minutes, even the remotest burrito has arrived at its final destination, the Alameda Transfer Station, where it will be prepared for its transcontinental journey….

(12) SIX BOOKS. From Nerds of a Feather comes “6 Books with Mira Grant”:

  1. How about a book you’ve changed your mind about over time–either positively or negatively?

The Dead Zone, by Stephen King. I originally read it when I was way too young, and thought it was incredibly boring. Revisiting it as an adult was a revelation.

(13) VINTAGE DARKNESS. It used to be all you had to do was look up. Night is getting harder to find: “Idaho Dims The Lights For One Of The Best Night Skies Anywhere”.

In a high mountain valley in central Idaho over 6,000 feet in elevation, the last hint of a glow from sun fades in the western sky. The conditions are perfect as Steve Botti, an astronomy enthusiast and city councilman for the tiny town of Stanley, holds his sky quality meter to the heavens. There are no clouds, and the moon has dipped behind the craggy Sawtooth Mountains as he assesses the darkness of the sky with the little device that looks like a pager.

His arm extended and his head snugly wrapped in a beanie, Botti says, “A reading of 21.75 or higher is considered by the dark sky association to be exceptionally dark.”

On a clear night here you can see the purple cloud of the Milky Way stretched across the sky. The rare sight is possible because people are making an effort to keep the night sky dark. Dark enough, they hope, to earn a seal of approval from the International Dark-Sky Association…

(14) CARTLOADS OF CARATS. An asteroid’s leavings: “The German town encrusted with diamonds”.

During construction of the town, which was first mentioned in records in the 9th Century AD, the settlers didn’t realise the stone they were using was embedded with millions of tiny diamonds, in a concentration seen nowhere else in the world.

As I looked down on the sleepy Bavarian town from the top of the tower, it was hard to picture the area as being anything other than tranquil. It was, in fact, a violent and otherworldly event – an asteroid strike that hit 15 million years ago – that led to the strange reality of Nördlingen becoming Germany’s diamond-clad town.

… Not long after Shoemaker and Chao first visited Nördlingen, it was estimated by local geologists that the town walls and buildings contained approximately 72,000 tons of diamonds. Although suevite can be found in other parts of the world from similar impacts, nowhere is the gemstone concentration as high as it is in Nördlingen.

(15) NEW VOICE. Editor Elizabeth Fitzgerald has joined the Skiffy and Fanty Show.

I’ll be working as their YA reviewer and my first post will go up in December. In the meantime, you can hear my first outing as co-host of one of their podcasts. Paul Weimer and I chatted with C.B. Lee, Cat Rambo and Nicky Drayden about participating in National Novel Writing Month.

Last year Fitzgerald was a co-winner of the Ditmar Award for Best Fan Publication with the team of interviewers who created the Australian Speculative Fiction Snapshot.

(16) 70 MM. How long will people be able to see 2001 in its original format? “Dying arts can be saved — but is it worth it?” (From the Boston Globe: may be paywalled in the near future, but isn’t yet.)

When cinema buffs celebrate the 50th anniversary of “2001: A Space Odyssey” next year, an uncomfortable question will loom larger than a malicious monolith. Does the epic sci-fi movie — the one that to its most ardent fans delivers a near-religious experience — have any future?

To true believers, the 1968 Stanley Kubrick cult classic must be viewed in its original wide-screen 70-millimeter format, an immersive visual experience augmented by the classical music score. Lauded for its crisper colors, deeper blacks, and higher-resolution images, fans see 70-millimeter as the highest expression of Hollywood artistry. The format was popularized in the 1950s to showcase movies’ technical superiority over television, and reserved for major productions like “Ben-Hur” and “Lawrence of Arabia.” But today, with Hollywood’s near-total shift to digital projection, the format faces an uncertain future — and is only held together, as a labor of love, by the efforts of a passionate community of movie fans.

…The worst case scenario is that, in a generation or two, the movie theaters may still exist, but the practical skills to build, fix, and use the specialized projectors will have vanished.

(17) GRATITUDE. Joe Stech of Compelling SF found plenty to be thankful for in his Thanksgiving post “10 issues of Compelling Science Fiction: a retrospective”.

I get asked every couple months why I spend so much time on this magazine. Most of the time I give a brief canned answer, something along the lines of “everyone needs a hobby, this is one of mine.” While that’s true, it’s a bit of a non-answer. Let me try and give a real answer here, in a few parts:

  1. Science fiction is fascinating. Like many art forms, good science fiction requires a base layer of technical skill. That’s the starting line. However, there’s a secondary layer of subject matter expertise, and a third layer that involves actually saying something meaningful about the universe we live in.
  2. Evaluating that third layer is deeply subjective, which means that no two readers will necessarily see eye to eye when reading a story. This also means that every publisher has its own set of biases when selecting stories to publish, which means that many stories that I’d enjoy never get out into the world. I want to help change that.
  3. There are extremely talented people out there producing wonderful content who never get paid for their work — I want to help support them, which is why I’ve always paid professional rates, even at the beginning when nobody was supporting the magazine. I’ve always been a proponent of putting my money where my mouth is, and I’m extremely grateful to have found magazine supporters who feel the same way.

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

Pixel Scroll 11/26/17 I Can’t Believe I Pixeled In Front Of The Dean Of Science Fiction

(1) PRONOUNS AND ROCKET STACK RANK. Bogi Takács wrote a series of tweets criticizing Greg Hullender’s statements in reviews about the usage of pronouns for non-binary characters in stories reviewed at Rocket Stack Rank, adding many screenshots of examples. Takács also pointed out the reviews are given a certain implied authority because Rocket Stack Rank is linked from the official The Hugo Awards site as a “Third Party Recommendation Site.”

Get into the thread here:

The Hugo connection is illustrated here:

The comments on the Hugo linkage include one from Patrick Nielsen Hayden:

For those who are unfamiliar, here is Bogi Takács’ brief bio from Patreon:

I’m Bogi Takács, a Hungarian Jewish agender trans person (e/em/eir/emself or singular they pronouns) currently living in the US as a resident alien. I write speculative fiction and poetry – I have had work published in various professional venues like Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Apex and Strange Horizons.

Other comments on RSR, Hullender’s views, and their impact included —

(2) COCO CASHES IN. On opening weekend in the U.S., “Pixar’s ‘Coco’ feasts on ‘Justice League’ at box office”.

Pixar’s “Coco” sang its way to the fourth best Thanksgiving weekend ever with an estimated $71.2 million over the five-day weekend, a total that easily toppled Warner Bros.’ “Justice League.”

“Coco” rode strong reviews and an A-plus CinemaScore from audiences to the top spot at the domestic box office. According to studio estimates Sunday, it grossed $49 million from Friday to Sunday. Centered on the Mexican holiday Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), “Coco” has already set box office records in Mexico, where it has made $53.4 million in three weeks.

(3) BSFA AWARDS. The British Science Fiction Association invites members to “Nominate for the BSFA Awards” between now and December 31:

The BSFA awards are presented annually by the British Science Fiction Association, based on a vote of BSFA members and – in recent years – members of the British national science fiction convention Eastercon. They are fan awards that not only seek to honour the most worthy examples in each category, but to promote the genre of science fiction, and get people reading, talking about and enjoying all that contemporary science fiction has to offer.

…Nominations are open until 31st December. This will be the first round. Then from 1st January to 30th January the opportunity for members to vote for their shortlist from the collated suggestions will be provided. This will be the second round.

To nominate in the first round, fill in the form here: http://tinyurl.com/BSFA2017nominations

or email your nominations to awards@bsfa.co.uk. A form and process for the second round will be made available on this page after the first round has closed.

(4) FLORIDA EXPANDS RIGHT TO CHALLENGE TEXTBOOKS. The Associated Press has the story: “New Florida law expected to increase textbook challenges”.

A parent in Florida is citing profanity and violence in trying to get the local school to ban Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” — itself a cautionary tale on the banning of books. Another wants to remove Walter Dean Myers’ “Bad Boy” for using the word “penis” and a homophobic slur.

Elsewhere in Florida, some say global warming and evolution are a hoax and should not be taught in textbooks unopposed. Others say their local school’s textbooks shortchange Islam’s role in the world, while their opponents argue it’s the danger posed by Muslim terrorists that’s underexposed.

Under a bill passed by the Florida Legislature this year, any district resident — regardless of whether they have a child in school — can now challenge material as pornographic, biased, inaccurate or a violation of state law and get a hearing before an outside mediator.

The mediator advises the local school board, whose decision is final. Previously, challenges could only be made by parents to the school or district. There was also no mediator and fewer mandates. Districts must now also post online a list of all new books and material by grade level to make monitoring easier.

(5) THANKSGIVING AT THE ISS. A day like any other day, only turkey was there: “Happy Space Thanksgiving: How the Food-Stuffed Holiday Went Orbital”.

One Thanksgiving party will literally look down upon them all, as the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) continues its longstanding tradition of observing the festive harvest holiday from orbit. This year’s menu includes irradiated smoked turkey, rehydratable cornbread dressing, green beans and mushrooms, broccoli au gratin, mashed potatoes, candied yams, sweet tea, and thermostabilized cherry blueberry cobbler for dessert.

Space.com says “Thanksgiving in Space Means Turkey, Work and Football for Astronauts”:

“They don’t actually have the day off on Thursday,” NASA spokesman Dan Huot told Space.com in an email, adding that the crew has “a lot of cargo-unloading tasks to complete” with the Cygnus spacecraft that arrived last Tuesday (Nov. 14). However, the astronauts will at least have Friday off, Huot said.

Along with over 7,700 lbs. (3,500 kilograms) of supplies and science equipment, the Cygnus cargo craft delivered the crew their Thanksgiving dinner and some other tasty treats, like pizza and ice cream. Holiday gifts and care packages from the astronauts’ families also shipped with Cygnus. With that trove of holiday goodies just waiting to be unpacked, the astronauts have plenty of incentives for working through the holiday

(6) AFTER THE STUFFING. Here’s how it looks from the Batcave:

(7) ANTHOLOGY APPEARANCE. Cora Buhlert highlights her recently-published story: “New science fiction anthology with a new “In Love and War” story available: The Guardian, edited by Alasdair Shaw”.

The Guardian includes eleven science fiction stories by international authors, all featuring guardians of some kind. My own story in the anthology, “Baptism of Fire” is a prequel story to my In Love and War space opera romance series, so all you fans of Anjali and Mikhail (come on, I know there are some of you out there) rejoice.

(8) ALAS, POOR ALANTIM. Motherboard invites you to “Watch a Robot Eulogize Its ‘Brother’ at Moscow’s New Cemetery for Dead Machines”; video at the link.

The sad news is that this Alantim could not be revived after the attack. But the silver lining is that its death inspired Olga Budnik, a spokesperson for the Muscovite tech hub Phystechpark, to create the world’s first dedicated robot cemetery.

“Alantim was a really good robot,” Budnik told me in an email. “It was supportive, always polite, always happy to see you. You know, like a pet. And [the cemetery] was an idea to bury it like a pet. Not disassemble or carry it to the trash. To say good-bye.”

On October 31, Alantim’s Earthly remains were placed at the Phystechpark cemetery site next to a box for collecting other dead robots. He was eulogized by another Alantim, who honored his dearly departed “brother” for being “very useful to your people and Russian science,” according to a Russian-to-English translation of the ceremony as seen at the top of this article.

(9) COURT IS IN SESSION. Lauren Davis briefs io9 readers about “Six Strange Cases of Science Fiction Trademarks”.

J.R.R. Tolkien
Ownership Claimed by: The J.R.R. Tolkien Estate

The J.R.R. Tolkien Estate owns numerous trademarks based on Tolkien’s works, as well as registered trademarks on Tolkien’s name. Last year, a fellow who sold buttons reading “While you were reading Tolkien, I was watching Evangelion” through Zazzle was contacted by Zazzle, who said that they were removing the buttons at the Tolkien Estate’s request. Later, Zazzle restored the buttons, saying that they had been removed erroneously due to a miscommunication, but it shined a light on the estate’s ownership of Tolkien’s name and left lots of folks wondering where the line was. When are you invoking Tolkien the brand and when are you referring to Tolkien the man?

The estate also owns the right to publicity for Tolkien’s name and image, which they used to challenge the publication of Steve Hillard’s historical fiction book, Mirkwood: A Novel About JRR Tolkien. Eventually Hillard and the estate settled, with Hillard agreeing to make some changes to the book’s appearance to make it look less like one of Tolkien’s novels. A Mirkwood movie is in the works.

Bonus Round: Like any other trademark holder, the Tolkien Estate has to be vigilant about enforcing their trademarks. But some are stranger than others. In 2004, the estate issued a cease and desist letter to the owner of the domain Shiremail.com, claiming the estate owned the trademark on the word “shire.” The word “shire,” which means an administrative subdivision, such as a county, has been around since the 12th century.

(10) BOARDMAN OBIT. Perdita Boardman (1931-2017) died November 26 after a long illness. Mark Blackman writes:

Perdita was best-known in Northeast Fandom for hosting Lunarians meetings and running the Lunacon Con Suite for many years, and with her husband, John, hosting a monthly fannish gathering called First Saturday. For their long service, she and John were voted Honorary Members of the Lunarians.

Her younger daughter, Deirdre, shared the following on Facebook:

I wanted to share with family (& friends) about the passing of my mom this morning peacefully in her sleep.

Many know she has been suffering from severe dementia well over a decade now, but she became very sick about two weeks ago and moved to hospice care.

Born Dec 27, 1931 in Baxter Springs, KS she grew up outside of Detroit, bounced around a bit living in Chicago, San Francisco, Virginia and finally settling in New York City about 1960, first in Manhattan, then Park Slope and finally her well known home in Flatbush. She spent her final years in Frederick, MD to be closer to Karina & I.

She has loved science fiction & fantasy (as well as mysteries & regency romances) novels since the 50s and was an avid reader.

She was a talented artist, master seamstress and knitted the most amazing sweaters!

I could go on all.

One of her funny quotes from the other day after being annoyed by nurses prodding her was, “I am Perdita Ann Lilly Nelson Boardman and I am going to sleep”

Good night mom.

(11) LE GUIN AS CRITIC. Ursula K. Le Guin reviews You Should Come With Me Now by M John Harrison – stories “for the uncommon reader” in The Guardian:

One of these brilliantly told stories, “The Walls”, begins: “A man, let’s call him D, is seen digging his way out through the wall of his cell. To help in this project, D has only the thinnest and least reliable tools: two dessert spoons (one stainless steel, one electro-plated nickel silver); half of a pair of curved nail scissors; some domestic knives lacking handles; and so on. The cell wall, constructed from grey, squarish cinder blocks about a foot on a side has been carelessly mortared and laid without much attention to detail. But this lack of artifice makes no difference; none of the knives is long enough to reach the last half inch of mortar at the back of each block, and the more D uses them the shorter they get. Each block must, eventually, be loosened and removed by hand, a task which can take several months, and which leaves him exhausted.”

A close attention to detail characterises this story and contributes much to its effectiveness, and yet, like the careless mortaring of the cinder blocks, it makes no difference in the end. Why and how does D have two dessert spoons? What does he live on during these months (which become years)? Who brings it to his cell? We have nothing with which to fill in unstated facts, as we’re used to doing when reading fiction, because the story is consistent only in pulling the carpet out from under its own feet. It is a play of imagination in a void. Its power is that of a dream, in this case a bad one, the kind that keeps repeating itself with variations in an endless loop of frustration.

This holds for all the stories collected in You Should Come With Me Now. Some of them are surrealistic, some are spoofs, some are fables; many are funny, all are inventive; none entirely escapes the loop….

(12) 25 WAYS TO RUB YOUR LAMP. A Yahoo! Movies piece, “Disney’s ‘Aladdin’: 25 magical fun facts for 25th anniversary”, has lots of trivia about Aladdin, including how Patrick Stewart nearly played Jafar but couldn’t get out of his Star Trek: The Next Generation commitments and how there is a hidden Aladdin reference in Hamilton.

  1. The animators crafted the Genie around Williams’s rapid-fire improv. Co-director Ron Musker said Williams did 25 takes for the movie’s first scene, “and they were all different.” The entertainer would stick to the script for the first few takes, “then he would riff.” Musker said Williams recorded 16 hours’ worth of material, forcing the creative team to piece the character together “like a ransom note.”

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Mike Kennedy quit groaning at the Tolkien pun long enough to send a link to today’s Brevity.

(14) HE’S DEAD ED. The Smithsonian covers nine theories about “The (Still) Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe” (2014 article.)

On September 27 [1849] —almost a week earlier—Poe had left Richmond, Virginia bound for Philadelphia to edit a collection of poems for Mrs. St. Leon Loud, a minor figure in American poetry at the time. When Walker found Poe in delirious disarray outside of the polling place, it was the first anyone had heard or seen of the poet since his departure from Richmond. Poe never made it to Philadelphia to attend to his editing business. Nor did he ever make it back to New York, where he had been living, to escort his aunt back to Richmond for his impending wedding. Poe was never to leave Baltimore, where he launched his career in the early 19th- century, again—and in the four days between Walker finding Poe outside the public house and Poe’s death on October 7, he never regained enough consciousness to explain how he had come to be found, in soiled clothes not his own, incoherent on the streets. Instead, Poe spent his final days wavering between fits of delirium, gripped by visual hallucinations. The night before his death, according to his attending physician Dr. John J. Moran, Poe repeatedly called out for “Reynolds”—a figure who, to this day, remains a mystery.

(15) MISSING FROM THE MARQUEE. The project loses some name cachet as “Adam Nimoy Steps Down From Directing Deep Space Nine Doc, Release Pushed Back” – story at TrekMovie.com.

On Saturday there were two announcements from What We Left Behind, the upcoming crowd-funded Star Trek: Deep Space Nine documentary.  Adam Nimoy, while remaining involved, will no longer be directing, and the release date  is likely being pushed back.

Nimoy stepping back

In a statement posted on Facebook Saturday, Adam Nimoy revealed he was stepping down as director for What We left Behind, but he will continue to be a producer and advisor on the doc. The reason given for the change was that he needed more time to focus on other responsibilities. From the statement:

“The real creative force behind the DS9 documentary was well in place before I came along. I was happy to lend them support and guidance to push the project along so that it could be completed in time for the 25th anniversary of the show which is coming up in 2018. I wish the creative team all good things as they Boldly Go!”

(16) WINDOW ON THE UNIVERSE. Motherboard’s article about the “Casting of a Giant Mirror for the First Extremely Large Telescope” has a good infographic comparing the relative sizes of all the existing large telescopes, as well.

(17) HARD SF. Down these mean starlanes a man must go…. A Twitter conversation begins here:

(18) COMPLETE HORSESHOE. Here’s another statistic I never knew anyone kept – the record for world’s largest horseshoe sculpture: “Camberley artist’s dragon ‘could obliterate’ world record”.

Mr Poolman’s sculpture is described as “not just a dragon but a tableau”, telling the story of a village bringing a dragon from the sky with arrows and stones.

“It’s partly collapsed,” Mr Powell said, “brought to the ground, in its death throes.”

Tens of thousands of old horseshoes were provided by farriers in Hampshire – some of them were used whole and others cut into smaller pieces.

“A complete horseshoe is quite limiting in what it can be made into,” Mr Poolman said.

(19) NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER. Brandon Sanderson isn’t just on the list, he’s #1 —

(20) UNDER THE TREE. We continue our cavalcade of holiday presents with –

(21) MULTITASKING. It’s a Jedi thing: “Elle UK Interviews Daisy Ridley While She Builds A Lego Millennium Falcon”.

She’s talented and beautiful and she plays Luke Skywalker’s new padawan, Rey, in one of the most anticipated “Star Wars” films of all time, but now comes the true test: Can Daisy Ridley build the Millennium Falcon with Legos?

Elle UK interviewed the “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” actress, asking her things like when was the last time she cried, what color her lightsaber would be, and if her father still prefers “Star Trek” (ouch) ? all while she’s tasked with building the Millennium Falcon out of Legos.

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Happiness by Steve Cutts is a cartoon on Vimeo about rats trying to survive the rat race as commuters, consumers, and at work. I’m having trouble getting it to embed, so here’s the link — https://vimeo.com/groups/motion/videos/244405542

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

Pixel Scroll 11/25/17 In The Scrolling, The Mighty Scrolling, The Pixel Scrolls Tonight

(1) A-WEEMA-WEH. Derek Kunsken, one of the guests of honor, tells Black Gate readers about “The 4th International Science Fiction Conference, Chengdu, China, November 2017”.

Among the international guests were authors Michael Swanwick and Ted Komsatska from the USA, Taiyo Fujii from Japan, Robert J Sawyer and I from Canada, and editors Neil Clarke from the USA, Francesco Verso from Italy, con organizer Crystal Huff from the USA, and a few others. A few of us got to visit the Panda breeding facility the day before the conference started.

…Incidentally, China is interested in hosting a WorldCon, and some of my expedia searching has shown me that flights from Ottawa to Chengdu were in the neighborhood of $900 Canadian, and the hotel they got us in downtown Chengdu was about $110 Canadian a night. I don’t know how much more or less expensive that is compared to Helsinki or Dublin, but I would vote for a Chinese bid on a WorldCon!

Black Gate adds this background about the author —

Derek Künsken writes science fiction and fantasy in Gatineau, Québec. His first novel, The Quantum Magician, is being serialized right now in China in the magazine SFWorld before its publication in book form in the spring.

(2) ALL BRADBURY, ALL THE TIME. Hillsdale College historian Bradley J. Birzer, in “Out of the Shire:  Life Beyond Tolkien” in The American Conservative, recommends several writers for Tolkien fans, but “of all 20th century fabulists, Ray Bradbury comes closest to equaling Tolkien’s literary and imaginative powers.”

If you look at what’s playing on your television, at what’s showing at the local cinema, at what video games your children are playing, or at what is selling in the young adult section of your neighborhood Barnes & Noble, you’ll see something that is at once deeply cultural and deeply countercultural at the exact same moment: Romanticism.

It’s difficult to know exactly where the movement started, though most historians and literary scholars would give the nod to Edmund Burke and his second great work, On the Sublime and the Beautiful. From Burke’s treatise, almost all modern Romantic thought arose. Burke’s presence is, at times, implicit, and, at times, blatant in the works of such critical figures as Wordsworth and Coleridge, but it can be found throughout most of the romantic poetry and art of the early 19th century. It’s not hard even to imagine Burke’s shadow lingering over Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, the Pastoral. In his own writings on Western civilization, Christopher Dawson argued that the rise of Romanticism, whatever its excesses and failings, was as important to Western civilization, as the re-discovery of Hellenic thought in the Renaissance. Whatever its original and essential intent, Romanticism successfully saved Christianity from the utilitarianism and rationalism of the 18th century, Dawson continued. In its recovery of medieval Christianity in the early 19th century, the Anglo-Welsh Roman Catholic scholar asserted, the Romantics actually discovered “a new kind of beauty.”

From its earliest origins, one can trace Romanticism’s history through the 19th century and into the early 20th century through figures as diverse as Friedrich Nietzsche, G.K. Chesterton, and Willa Cather. Perhaps most importantly for Western culture, however, was its manifestation in the vast mythology of J.R.R. Tolkien….

(3) TOP LGBT SFF. Rocket Stack Rank has consulted the ratings for excellent stories and come up with the “Best LGBT Science Fiction & Fantasy of 2015-2016”.

Greg Hullender sent the link with a note: “We’ve been talking about doing this for a while, but we finally got it put together. Note that this is just 2015-2016. Because we depend on scores from other reviewers (including the 4 annual anthologies plus Hugo and Nebula nominations), the earliest we could do anything like it for 2017 would be April 2018, so our current plan is to do 2017 in June for Gay Pride Month and try to make that a regular thing.”

In addition to regular monthly ratings we’re going to start publishing occasional lists of excellent stories from particular subsets of Science Fiction and Fantasy (SFF). We’ve previously done this for Hard Science Fiction, and this month we’re doing it for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) stories.

As always, our focus is on the stories, not the authors. These are stories with memorable LGBT characters—not necessarily stories by noted LGBT authors. These include excellent stories in which a key character merely happens to be an LGBT person as well as stories where the LGBT angle is crucial to the plot.

Also, these are stories that had at least one recommendation from a “prolific reviewer” (that is, any reviewer who reads at least 500 stories a year from major print and online sources); no single reviewer can really capture the tastes of all readers, so drawing from a pool of reviewers makes it more likely that we haven’t omitted anything.

(4) BLACK FRIDAY. New Zealand’s Weta Workshops is running a Black Friday sale through Monday. All kinds of figures and paraphernalia from Lord of the Rings and other films they’re associated with.

(5) UNICORN ANTIDOTE. This will cure your post-ceramic stress — JJ calls it “Brain bleach for the wine caddy.” If you need that explained, consider yourself lucky.

(6) TIMEY-WIMEY. Holiday shipping has run amok:

(7) XL5. Galactic Journey’s Ashley R. Pollard turned on the TV and found this new show on channel 1962 — “[November 25, 1962] Great Balls of Fire!  (Gerry Anderson’s new series, Fireball XL5)”

I’ve mentioned in a past article that Britain has Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future.  Now we also have Colonel Steve Zodiac of the World Space Patrol.  Not the hero of a comic strip, but rather of a children’s television show from Anderson Provis Films (APF), which you may all remember from when I talked about their production last year, Supercar.

Gerry and Sylvia Anderson are back with another Supermarionation series, Fireball XL5.  Supermarionation is their term to describe puppets that speak using electronic synchronization, and the Andersons have used it to great effect, creating a brand new medium for SF.

(8) KIT SHIRT. Francis Hamit, whose movie script has been winning prizes, offers the “Christopher Marlowe fan T-shirt” through Zazzle.

Check out the CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE fan t-shirt that I designed at Zazzle.co.uk. We did this because we have about 1,400 Facebook friends in London and we need to sell something to prove that we are actually in business. Zazzle seemed like the easiest way to do this and we already own the art. We also have a similar product. on CafePress.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) THE SLEUTH’S BOSS. The Financial Times’ Henry Mance profiled Mark Gatiss, a writer for Doctor Who and the showrunner for Sherlock, where he also plays Mycroft Holmes: “‘We will all be dust soon’: Sherlock’s Mark Gatiss on death, despair and drama”. (Usually these are behind a paywall, but I was able to see this one. Caveat non-emptor.)

When asked if Sherlock Holmes has Asperger’s, Gatiss says, “I don’t think it (Asperger’s) is a disorder.  You can read Conan Doyle and think he is–you can diagnose him. Clearly that is based on people who have manic mood swings.  We made Mycroft the Niles to Holmes’s Frasier, who apparently feels nothing–though of course he does, he just keeps it under control.”

When asked if there will be more episodes of “Sherlock,” Gattis says, “Dunno.  Honestly.  It’s the first time we haven’t had to make plans for 18 months down the line.  The last episode of Sherlock was both “a possible natural ending, and a possible place for them to do another one.”

Gattiss’s next project, with Mark Moffat, is a version of “Dracula” which will appear on the BBC in 2019.

(11) WORTHY OF THE VOGONS. History.com found a by-product of its cipher-cracking project: “This Supercomputer Was Programmed to Think Like the Zodiac Killer. No Wonder Its Poetry is So Creepy”.

Now Knight, CARMEL and a team of code-breaking researchers are working with the HISTORY Channel to try and crack the Z340, the Zodiac killer’s most impenetrable cipher. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the self-named murderer terrorized Northern California with a succession of random killings and taunting letters to the police and newspapers. Four of those communiqués contained ciphers filled with perplexing letters and abstract symbols. Cryptologists consider the Zodiac’s 340-character cipher, sent to The San Francisco Chronicle in November 1969, a holy grail of sorts.

As part of Knight’s research into what computers can do with language, CARMEL can churn out complex verse on any given topic within a matter of seconds.

(12) PARTS OF SPEECH. Fast Company explains why “John Waters Doesn’t Need To Make Movies To Make Trouble”.

Despite the fact that he has “never graduated from anything,” John Waters was invited by the Rhode Island School of Design to deliver its 2015 commencement address. In his speech, Waters urged the graduating class to cause trouble. “Go out in the world and fuck it up beautifully,” he advised. “Design clothes so hideous they can’t be worn ironically. Horrify us with new ideas. Outrage outdated critics. Use technology for transgression, not lazy social living. Make me nervous.”

Understandably, the speech went viral, or as Waters puts it, “it had a little trip.” In April of this year, the speech was turned into a book called, Make Trouble. Now, that book has been turned into a vinyl record of the same name, released by Jack White’s Third Man Records. Waters recorded the audio at his dining room table in his New York apartment in an afternoon. “But it took me three days to write it,” he says in mock defensiveness.

(13) SCORING THE COVERS. Camestros Felapton has started the ball rolling with “The Book Cover Thing 2017: Draft Long List”. Jump over and add your suggestions.

A reminder of how this works. There is no eligibility period.

  1. A draft long list is made from finalist from the Hugos, Nebulas and Clarke Awards, as well as the winners of book categories from the Dragons.
  2. To the long list we add book covers suggested in the comments by anybody (and yes that includes Phantom as per last year). Also I may add additional covers to keep it interesting.
  3. The covers are then scored on a set of criteria (see below).
  4. Points are totaled and the highest scoring cover(s) are the winners.
  5. Winning artist/designer gets a JPEG of Timothy.

(14) CULTURE WARRIORS. And while you’re visiting Camestros’ blog, check out the full-length edition of Doris V. Sutherland’s lyrical comment:

Jason Rennie was ill
When the Hugos stood still
But Superversive’s where he stands
And Chuck Tingle was there
While lacking underwear
Dec Finn was the most Pius man
But something’s not right
With Vox Day and John Wright
They got caught in a No Award jam
Then at a deadly pace
It was in cyberspace
And here’s how the message ran…

(15) IT’S WEIRD. Bookmunch recommends this compilation of 2016 weird fiction: “We are living in an apocalyptic moment and we have a duty to be witnesses” – Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volume Four ed. Helen Marshall

Helen Marshall is the guest editor for this year’s book. An award winning writer and creative writing lecturer, she comes at weird fiction from a very different angle to last year’s editor Simon Strantzas. This is no bad thing. The key to weird fiction is its malleability. Last year, Strantzas put together a very horror centric anthology, with weird fiction’s key players such as Robert Aickman, Rob Shearman (who will be guest editing volume five) and Ramsey Campbell at the forefront. Marshall instead has assembled a vastly different kind of anthology, which demonstrates the vastness of the genre. Yes, there are horror stories in here, most notably Usman T Malik’s ‘In the Ruins of Mohenjo-Daro’, but then there are also stories like Irenosen Okojie’s magnificent ‘Outtakes’, or Aki Schilz’s ‘Beating the Bounds’, both of which are highlights of a brilliant book.

(16) LOOKING AHEAD. Paul Kincaid, whose book about Iain M. Banks came out earlier this year, talks about his next book in “A Priest chronology”.

So, my next book will be about Christopher Priest and will be published by Gylphi, which is something that makes me inordinately pleased. I’ve started the reading and note taking that inevitably accompanies such a task. But I’ve also put together a chronology of his books and short stories, just as a way of keeping everything straight in my mind.

(17) CHOW TIME. Aaron Pound continues cooking his way through Ad Astra: The 50th Anniversary SFWA Cookbook — “Ad Astra Review – C3PO by Ef Deal”

Review: C3PO is a pretty simple recipe. It more or less consists of a can of crushed pineapple with chopped bell pepper, onion, and pecans all mixed into a pile of cream cheese. That is basically it. The only change I made from the text of the recipe was that I used a red bell pepper instead of a green bell pepper, mostly because I had a red bell pepper on hand. The end result is a spread than can be used on crackers or fresh vegetables. The end result is also delicious.

(18) AN ETHNIC FIRST. The Washington Post’s Noah Berlatsky, in “With ‘Justice League,’ now there’s a Jewish superhero played by a Jewish actor on the big screen”, notes that The Flash is the first movie superhero to be Jewish, and he looks at other Jewish superheroes in the comics, including The Thing, who was revealed to be Jewish in the early 2000s.

I’m sure this statement will provoke some disagreement among people who pay attention to firsts in films. Depending on how you look at it, you could argue that the first superhero was also the first Jewish superhero. Superman, after all, was created by two Jews, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, and fans have found some (often overstated) traces of Jewish cultural influence in his creation.

There’s also Thing of “The Fantastic Four,” who wasn’t officially declared Jewish in the comics until the 2000s, and hasn’t been identified as Jewish in the films. But he was often seen by fans as a working-class ethnic stand-in for his creator, working-class ethnic Jew, Jack Kirby. The X-Man Kitty Pryde was Jewish in the 1980s, and the X-Man villain Magneto was retconned into a Holocaust survivor at about the same time.

Flash, though, is the first character in our ongoing superhero film frenzy who is identified specifically as Jewish — he mentions he’s Jewish quickly, offhand, when he first meets Batman (Ben Affleck).

(19) SCORCHED PLASTIC. The Lego Millennium Falcon – if you haven’t already ordered, you’re screwed: “What’s $800 And Already Sold Out? This Lego Star Wars Ship”.

It made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. But a new buildable version of Han Solo’s famous Millennium Falcon is currently stalled.

Those hoping to snag one of Lego’s new Star Wars sets for the 2017 holidays will likely be disappointed. It’s currently sold out online. After a September release only to its VIP list, the company promises it’s working as fast as it can to “make more sets available and keep our LEGO builders happy.” At a cool $799.99 and more than 7,500 pieces, it’s the expensive, easy-to-lose gift that keeps on giving.

Dang, these went faster than Worldcon 76 hotel rooms.

(20) FOR YOUR TREE. Of course, these are still available — “Holiday Gift Idea: ‘Elvira Christmas Ornament’”. I don’t suppose that comes as a surprise.

Sculpted by artist MATTHEW BLACK and painted by DAVID FISHER, these specialty Mistress of the Dark ornaments come in two versions; Standard has Elvira in black dress, while the Limited Edition has her in red and is limited to 500 pieces.

(21) TURNED DOWN. The news behind Deadline.com’s report “Time Responds To Donald Trump’s “Incorrect” Claims Of Turning Down Person Of The Year — Update” is inspiring things like Will Brown’s tweet —

(22) DUDE. Two compilations of “Super Café” videos from How It Should Have Ended.

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

Pixel Scroll 11/12/17 I Saw A Pixel Order A Perrier At Trader Vic’s. And Its Scroll Was Perfect

(1) COURTING FATE. At The Millions, B.J. Hollars remembers “Ray Bradbury’s Keys to the Universe”.

I marvel at such miracles; in particular, Ray’s ability to forge his own fate as the opportunities presented themselves.  But I marvel, too, at his refusal to leave anything to chance.  Perhaps his stick-to-itiveness is best illustrated by way of a story he shared with me during my visit to his home all those years ago.  How, as a young, broke, telephone-less writer in L.A., he’d given editors the telephone number of the gas station payphone across the street.  His bedroom window flung wide, whenever that phone rang he’d leap out the window and sprint across the street. Then, as casually as possible, he’d answer, “Hello?”

Now that’s how it’s done, I remember thinking.  That’s how you become a writer.

(2) WWWWD? Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot wants Warner Bros. to pull the plug on accused harasser Brett Ratner. Page Six broke the story: “Gal Gadot will only be ‘Wonder Woman’ again if Brett Ratner is out”.

“Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot is continuing to battle accused Hollywood sexual harasser Brett Ratner by refusing to sign for a super­hero sequel unless the movie-maker is completely killed from the franchise.

A Hollywood source tells Page Six that Gadot — who last month backed out of a dinner honoring Ratner, where she was due to present him with an award — is taking a strong stance on sexual harassment in Hollywood and doesn’t want her hit “Wonder Woman” franchise to benefit a man accused of sexual misconduct.

Ratner’s production company RatPac-Dune Entertainment helped produce “Wonder Woman” as part of its co-financing deal with Warner Bros. The movie has grossed more than $400 million internationally, and Ratner’s company will take a healthy share of the profits. A Warner Bros. insider explained, “Brett made a lot of money from the success of ‘Wonder Woman,’ thanks to his company having helped finance the first movie. Now Gadot is saying she won’t sign for the sequel unless Warner Bros. buys Brett out [of his financing deal] and gets rid of him.”

(3) MORE HOLLYWOOD HARASSMENT. Classic Trek’s Mr. Sulu, actor George Takei, is one of the latest Hollywood figures to be accused of harassment. The Guardian has his denial — “George Takei responds to accusation he sexually assaulted a young actor”.

The Star Trek actor and gay rights activist George Takei responded on Saturday to an accusation that he sexually assaulted a young actor nearly 40 years ago. The alleged event “simply did not occur”, Takei said.

On Friday, Scott R Brunton told the Hollywood Reporter that in 1981, when he was 23, he was invited into Takei’s condo in Los Angeles. Brunton implied his drink may have been spiked, saying he passed out and awoke to find Takei trying to strip him and groping his genitals.

(4) SHOULDN’T BE A MYSTERY. On Friday night, the Jeopardy! game show had a “Science Fiction” category during the “Double Jeopardy” round. How did the contestants handle it? Andrew Porter supplied this narrative:

The category was in Double Jeopardy. I guess no one reads SF.

$400: This “Dune” author’s first published sci-fi tale appeared in Startling Stories Magazine in 1952.

No one answered.

$800: In John Wyndham’s 1951 novel “The Day of” these, “these” are carnivorous plants that can walk and kill a man.

No one answered.

$1200: Like “World War Z”, “Robopocalypse” is labeled this kind of history; it’s told by those who survived a robot war.

Wrong answer: “What is an alternate history?”

Correct answer: “What is an oral history?”

$1600: In “A Princess of Mars”, this fictional Civil War vet is transported to Mars & meets the beautiful Dejah Thoris.

No one answered.

$2000: The cover of this Isaac Asimov novel claimed, “four men and one woman journey into the living body of a man.”

Again, no one answered.

The final Jeopardy question, under “Awards & Honors”, was: “The Victoria Cross is for military bravery; this ross first given in 1940 & named for Victoria’s Great-grandson is for civilian bravery.”

Answers: “What is the Edward Cross?” – wrong; “What is the George’s Cross?” also wrong; “What is the George Cross?” – correct.

(5) BOOK RECS. Ann Leckie praises some “Things I’ve Read” beginning with —

I got an advance copy of Emergence, the next volume in C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series. Look, I’m a longtime fan of these, and I enjoyed the heck out of this one. If you’ve read the previous volumes, you’ll enjoy this one. If you haven’t, DO NOT START THE SERIES HERE. Give Foreigner a go–that’s the first volume–and see what you think.

(6) ALL IN BLACK AND WHITE FOR A DIME. Field Notes, a quarterly publication, will be doing a Dime Novel edition.

Inspiration for Field Notes Quarterly Editions can strike anytime, from anywhere. For our Fall 2017 edition, it struck from all the way back in 1860 in New York City and a pair of brothers: Erastus and Irwin Beadle. The Beadles had published a variety of inexpensive paperback books on subjects ranging from the tax code to baseball, but when they released Ann S. Stephens’ frontier tale Malaeska as the first of their orange-covered “Dime Novel” series, it sold more than sixty thousand copies and started a trend for cheap pocket-sized genre fiction.

Beadle’s Dime Novels eventually topped 300 titles, each selling 35–80,000 copies, and inspired countless other publishers to imitate (or often steal outright) the Dime Novel’s format, style, characters, and content. Along with imitators came an epic brotherly feud and a long series of lawsuits. It’s a complicated story, but in the end, a fair argument can be made that the Beadles created the mass-market American paperback

There’s also a four-minute video at the link.

(7) BRADBURY FOREVER. J. W. Ocker showed highlights of his Ray Bradbury artifact collection on his website in “Collecting Ray”.

Obviously, I wear my Ray Bradbury fandom on my [straightjacket] sleeve, but I’m also a Ray Bradbury collector, too. And I don’t mean his books, although that is part of it. I’m talking artifacts. Pieces of his life, his works, and those works inspired by him. They range from a brick from his now-demolished Los Angeles house to a test sketch by artist Joe Mugnaini for one of the illustrations for The Halloween Tree to a particularly disturbing prop from the movie version of his Something Wicked This Way Comes. Next time you come over to my house, I’ll show it all to you.

… See that wiry, coppery mass in the lower right corner? That’s actually the top of an award given to Bradbury in 2010 for “contribution to world peace through literature.” And it now sits on my shelf about a foot away from my desk, like I was the one who win it or something.

Ocker’s new book just came out, Death and Douglas. Here’s the front cover blurb:

“Spooky! Hilarious! And beautifully written. Ocker’s Death and Douglas now joins Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree as an annual autumn read.” — Jay Asher, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Thirteen Reasons Why and Piper.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • November 12, 1982 Creepshow premiered in theaters.

(9) YOUR DIGITAL SJW CREDENTIAL. The internet has a cat. Its name is Purrli.

(10) $PACE COMMAND. Marc Scott Zicree’s Kickstarter to fund Space Command: Redemption hit its basic $39,000 goal in the first three days and now is ticking off its stretch goals.

They’ve raised $45,434 as of this writing. Should they hit $80,000, there will be enough to pay for Part Two of Space Command: Redemption.

(11) PULP REVOLUTIONARY. Galactic Journey tells readers what they have to look forward to in the December (1962) issue of Amazing — “[November 12, 1962] HEADS ABOVE THE CLOUDS (the December 1962 Amazing)”.

Roger Zelazny’s Moonless in Byzantium—his second Amazing story, fourth published—might have a broader appeal.  It’s a surreal riff on one of the more familiar plots in the warehouse, the lone rebel face to face with an oppressive regime, in this case the Robotic Overseeing Unit.  In this dystopia, machines are in charge, people are mostly machines, and our protagonist is charged with writing Sailing to Byzantium on a washroom wall.  He is also charged with illegal possession of a name—William Butler Yeats, which he appended to Yeats’s poem.  This is the world of Cutgab, in which language itself is drastically restricted and simplified, and writing forbidden.  ROU accuses: “You write without purpose or utility, which is why writing itself has been abolished—men always lie when they write or speak.” The outcome is inevitable save for the accused’s final and futile defiance.  This is one that succeeds on sheer power of writing; in theme and style, it suggests Bradbury with sharper teeth.  Four stars for bravura execution of a stock idea.

(12) CLAIM JUMPER. Richard Paolinelli is always trying to get mentioned in this space, but making claims like this isn’t a good way to do it. He often tweets about his Dragon Awards finalist Escaping Infinity, but yesterday’s tweet also identified it as a Nebula nominee.

So what is that supposed to mean? Everyone knows his book wasn’t a Nebula finalist. Did someone cast one vote for it? Interestingly, the tweeted honor isn’t even listed on his website’s Awards page.

(13) ASK UMAMI. As usual, everything you know is wrong: “The real truth about whether our tongues have ‘taste zones'”.

You probably remember the diagram from school – a pink tongue with different regions marked for different tastes – bitter across the back, sweet across the front, salty at sides near the front and sour at the sides towards the back. I can remember a biology class where we made sugar and salt solutions and pipetted them onto different parts of our tongues to confirm the map was right.

At the time it all seemed to make sense, but it turns out it’s not quite this simple.

The famous tongue diagram has appeared in hundreds of textbooks over the decades. It’s sometimes blamed on a dissertation from 1901 written by a German scientist called David Pauli Hänig. By dripping salty, sweet, sour and bitter samples onto different parts of people’s tongues, he discovered that the sensitivity of taste buds varies in different areas of the tongue.

…Today we know that different regions of the tongue can detect sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Taste buds are found elsewhere too – in the roof of the mouth and even in the throat. As well as detecting the four main tastes, each taste bud can also detect the most recently discovered taste, umami – the taste that makes savoury foods like parmesan so more-ish.

(14) SUNDAY DRIVER. The BBC reports “US rocket launch aborted after small plane enters airspace”.

A rocket launch in Virginia was aborted at the last moment when a small aircraft flew into restricted airspace.

The unmanned cargo ship was about to be launched en route to the International Space Station (ISS) when mission control called “abort, abort, abort!”.

They had spotted a small aircraft flying in restricted airspace at 500ft (150m) near Wallops Island.

Chip Hitchcock sent the link with a comment: “As a former lightplane pilot, I don’t know whether this was ignorance (of temporary rules closing the airspace) or deliberate stupidity.” The launch did go on schedule on Sunday morning.

(15) ANDY WEIR ON THE MOON. NPR interview — “In New Novel, ‘Martian’ Author Andy Weir Builds A Colony On The Moon”.

On where he got the idea for Artemis

I wanted to write a story that took place in the first city that was not on Earth. And I thought about Mars, I thought about lower Earth orbit, but the Moon is the obvious place to build it. If you were on a football field and you were standing at one goal line, and if Mars were at the other goal line, the moon would be 4 inches in front of you. So that is the distance scale between them. So, yeah, colonizing Mars before you colonize the moon would be like if the ancient Britons colonized North America before they colonized Wales.

(16) WEIR’S FAVES. Breathe a sigh of relief – for once your TBR pile is safe — you’ve probably read most of “Andy Weir’s 6 favorite science fiction books”. The sixth is —

The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks (Orbit, $16).

A fantastic look at what a post-scarcity society might look like. There’s no hunger, no disease, no war — just benevolent computers that take care of humanity and other beings. How could there be conflict or struggle in such a world? Well, Banks is a genius and spins one hell of a story about what happens when the Culture meets a spacefaring alien race with far less enlightened views. And it doesn’t go how you think it would.

(17) GET READY. Naragansett Brewery’s Lovecraft Whiskey Release Party takes place December 1.

About two years ago, we released the I Am Providence Imperial Red Ale… and we’ve been keeping a deep, dark secret ever since.

While you were busy enjoying our other Lovecraft offerings, I Am Providence was distilled at Sons of Liberty, and has been aging in twisted oak barrels ever since.

Just as Cthulhu patiently waits to rise from the depths to destroy us all, I Am Providence has been waiting for you.

On December 1st, we unleash the madness. Get ready.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Fabrice Mathieu’s HZ Hollywood Zombies, a meteor strikes Hollywood! And all the Movie Stars become… Zombies! Which movie star would you like to be eaten by? Here are a couple of the many choices — Daniel Craig and Natalie Portman.

 

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Bill, Magewolf, Rich Lynch, Andrew Porter, Moshe Feder, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor the day Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 11/8/17 If You Can Scroll This Pixel, You Are Driving Too Close

(1) VISIT A BRADBURY HOME. The house Ray Bradbury lived in when he was 11 years old will be included in Tucson’s Armory Park home tour, which will be happening November 12.

From the outside, Dolores and Jerry Cannon’s house looks like an antique dollhouse with a white picket fence — not the kind of place one would think the author of such celebrated books as “Farenheit 451” or the “Martian Chronicles” once lived.

But it is — Ray Bradbury called the Armory Park home in 1931, when he was just 11. You can imagine where he might have gotten some of his early inspiration on the Nov. 12th Armory Park Home Tour which will include 15 homes.

The Bradbury family lived in Tucson, Arizona at two different times during his boyhood while his father pursued employment, each time returning to Waukegan.

(2) NO ENVELOPE, PLEASE. Adrian Tchaikovsky’s guest post for SFFWorld, “Mad Science and Modern Warfare”, describes the tech in his MilSF novel Ironclads.

Ironclads is set in the near future. There’s a lot in the geopolitics and social elements of the book that is a direct, albeit very negative extrapolation from the way things are now. The technology, though, goes to some odd places, and I was conscious of not just pushing the envelope but ripping through it a few times. I like my science fiction, after all, and some of what Ted Regan and his squad face up against has more fiction than science to it.

“Designed for deep insertion.”

Most of Ted’s own kit, and that of his squadmates Sturgeon and Franken, is not much different to a modern military payload, but then the chief lesson Ted’s learnt about the army is that they get yesterday’s gear compared to the corporate soldiers. Hence their vehicle, the abysmally named ‘Trojan’, is not so far off a modern armoured car – resilient and rugged but, as the Englishman, Lawes, says, “what soldiers get into just before they get ****ed”. Most of the rest of their kit is drawn direct from cutting edge current tech. Their robotic pack-mule is a six-legged version of the “Big Dog” robots currently being developed, and the translation software in Ted’s helmet isn’t much beyond what advanced phone apps these days are being designed to do.

(3) BREAKTHROUGH ARCHEOLOGY. “Unearthing a masterpiece” explains how a University of Cincinnati team’s discovery of a rare Minoan sealstone in the treasure-laden tomb of a Bronze Age Greek warrior promises to rewrite the history of ancient Greek art.

[Jack Davis, the University of Cincinnati’s Carl W. Blegen professor of Greek archaeology and department head] and Stocker say the Pylos Combat Agate’s craftsmanship and exquisite detail make it the finest discovered work of glyptic art produced in the Aegean Bronze Age.

“What is fascinating is that the representation of the human body is at a level of detail and musculature that one doesn’t find again until the classical period of Greek art 1,000 years later,” explained Davis. “It’s a spectacular find.”

Even more extraordinary, the husband-and-wife team point out, is that the meticulously carved combat scene was painstakingly etched on a piece of hard stone measuring just 3.6 centimeters, or just over 1.4 inches, in length. Indeed, many of the seal’s details, such as the intricate weaponry ornamentation and jewelry decoration, become clear only when viewed with a powerful camera lens and photomicroscopy.

“Some of the details on this are only a half-millimeter big,” said Davis. “They’re incomprehensibly small.”

…“It seems that the Minoans were producing art of the sort that no one ever imagined they were capable of producing,” explained Davis. “It shows that their ability and interest in representational art, particularly movement and human anatomy, is beyond what it was imagined to be. Combined with the stylized features, that itself is just extraordinary.”

The revelation, he and Stocker say, prompts a reconsideration of the evolution and development of Greek art.

(4) GRRM’S ROOTS. George R.R. Martin will make an appearance on a PBS series:

Day before last, I spent the afternoon with Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr, taping a segment for his television series, FINDING YOUR ROOTS.

I thought I had a pretty good idea of my roots, but Dr. Gates and his crack team of DNA researchers had some revelations in store for me… and one huge shock.

PBS is currently airing Season 4 of Finding Your Roots, with episodes featuring guests Carmelo Anthony, Ava DuVernay, Téa Leoni, Ana Navarro, Bernie Sanders, Questlove, and Christopher Walken.

(5) PKD: STORY VS TUBE. Counterfeit Worlds, a blog devoted to exploring the cinematic universes of Philip K. Dick, has published a series of weekly essays comparing and contrasting each episode of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams (which has been airing in the UK) with the original Philip K. Dick short story. The series will soon be available in the U.S. on Amazon.

Here’s a sample: “Electric Dreams Episode 1 The Hood Maker”.

The Short Story: Published in 1955, ‘The Hood Maker’ was—like the majority of Philip K. Dick’s work—incredibly prescient of the world we now live in. It opens with a scene of an old man attacked on the street by a crowd. The reason? He’s wearing a hood that blocks his mind from telepathic probe. One of the crowd cries out: “Nobody’s got a right to hide!” In today’s world where we seem happy to ‘give away’ our privacy to Facebook or Google in return for access, the world of Philip K. Dick’s hood maker is not all that alien….

The Television Episode: In bringing ‘The Hood Maker’ to television, screenwriter Matthew Graham faced a challenge. The material would obviously have to be expanded to fill an entire 50-60 minute episode of television, but exactly how that expansion was realized could make or break the show. The television version of ‘The Hood Maker’ is, as a result of that expansion, a mixed success.

Richard Madden stars as Clearance Agent Ross (using his natural Scottish accent, for a welcome change), while Holliday Grainger is the teep, Honor, assigned to him as a partner with special skills. This is a world, visually and conceptually, that is reminiscent of Blade Runner. Madden is dressed and acts like a cut-rate Rick Deckard, while the shanty towns, marketplaces, and urban environments (some shot in the Thamesmead estate made famous by Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange—instantly recognizable, despite an attempt to hide it through all the murky cinematography and constant rain) all recall scenes from the first ever Philip K. Dick big screen adaptation. It seems, as ever, that any take on Dick’s work has to somehow pay homage to the foundation text of Blade Runner….

(6) BETANCOURT NEWS. John Betancourt has launched a membership ebook site at bcmystery.com (to go with their new Black Cat Mystery Magazine).

The model is subscription-based: for $3.99/month or $11.97/year, you get 7 new crime and mystery ebooks every week. We’re going through the Wildside Press backlist (currently about 15,000 titles) and digitizing new books from estates I’ve purchased. Wildside owns or manages the copyrights to 3,500+ mysteries. For example, this year I purchased Mary Adrian’s and Zenith Brown’s copyrights (Zenith Brown published as Leslie Ford and David Frome — she was a huge name in the mystery field in the 1950s and 1960s.)

(7) HE DIDN’T GO THERE. Did John W. Campbell kill his darlings? Betancourt reports discovering a new segment of a famous old science fiction classic:

Of SFnal interest, an early draft of John W. Campbell’s “Who Goes There?” has turned up amidst his papers. It’s 45 pages longer (!) with 99% of the new material taking place before the events in the classic story. I’m discussing what best to do with it with my subrights agents. I’m thinking of publishing it myself as a 200-copy limited hardcover edition.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • November 8, 1895 – X-rays discovered
  • November 8, 1969 Rod Serling’s Night Gallery aired its pilot episode.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born November 8, 1847 – Bram Stoker

(10) THE VIEW FROM INSIDE THE GLASS HOUSE. S.T. Joshi devoted 5,600 words to ripping the work of Brian Keene, as reported here the other day, leading to this priceless observation by Nick Mamatas:

(11) LTUE BENEFIT ANTHOLOGY. The annual Life, the Universe, & Everything (LTUE) academic symposium has been a staple of the Utah author community for decades. LTUE helps students of all ages by providing them with greatly discounted memberships. So that practice may continue, Jodan Press—in conjunction with LTUE Press—is creating a series of memorial benefit anthologies.

The first will be Trace the Stars, A Benefit Anthology in Honor of Marion K. “Doc” Smith. It will be edited by Joe Monson and Jaleta Clegg, and they have put out a call for submissions.

Trace the Stars, is a hard science fiction and space opera anthology created in honor of Marion K. “Doc” Smith. Doc was the faculty advisor to the symposium for many years before his passing in 2002. He had an especially soft spot for hard science fiction and space opera. From his nicknamesake, E.E. “Doc” Smith to Orson Scott Card, and Isaac Asimov to Arthur C. Clarke, these tales inspired him. This anthology will contain stories Doc would have loved.

We invite you to submit your new or reprint hard science fiction or space opera short stories to this anthology. Stories may be up to 17,500 words in length. Those wishing to participate should submit their stories to joe.monson.editor@gmail.com by July 31, 2018. Contracts will be sent to those whose stories are accepted by September 30, 2018. Stories not accepted for this anthology may be considered for future benefit anthologies for LTUE. The anthology is projected to be released during the LTUE symposium in February 2019 in electronic and printed form.

As this is a benefit anthology, all proceeds beyond the basic production costs (such as ISBN and any fees to set up distribution) will go toward supporting the symposium in its goals to inspire and educate authors, artists, and editors in producing the next generation of amazing speculative fiction works.

(12) MONSTROUS BAD NEWS. Dangerous games: “Caught Up In Anti-Putin Arrests, Pokemon Go Players Sent To Pokey”.

To be sure, Sunday’s arrests at Manzeh Square near the Kremlin are serious business: Authorities say 376 people described as anti-government protesters linked to the outlawed Artpodgotovka group were rounded up. The group’s exiled leader, Vyacheslav Maltsev, called the protest a part of an effort to force President Vladimir Putin to resign.

“We showed them that we’re all really trying to catch Pokémons. Police asked us why we all gathered together. One of us answered. ‘Try catching it on your own,'” one player, identified as a 24-year-old history studies graduate named Polina, told The Moscow Times.

What we might call the “Pokémon 18” now faces court hearings next week on charges of violating public assembly rules. The infraction carries a fine of 20,000 rubles ($340), according to the newspaper.

(13) A STITCH IN TIME. The BBC profiles another set of women who make significant contributions to the space program in “The women who sew for Nasa”

Without its seamstresses, many of Nasa’s key missions would never have left the ground.

From the Apollo spacesuits to the Mars rovers, women behind the scenes have stitched vital spaceflight components.

One of them is Lien Pham, a literal tailor to the stars – working in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s shield shop to create thermal blankets, essential for any spacecraft leaving Earth.

It may not sound glamorous, but Lien does work with couture materials.

The Cassini mission, her first project at Nasa, went to Saturn cloaked in a fine gold plate for durability over its 19-year journey.

(14) RECOGNIZABLE TRAITS. Sarah A. Hoyt’s survey of the characteristics of various subgenres of science fiction is interesting and entertaining — “Don’t Reinvent The Wheel”. Here are a few of her notes:

Hard SF comes next.  It’s usually — but not always — got some element of space.  Even if we’re not in it, this change whatever it is, relates to space.  Again, not always, but the ones that sell well seem to have this.  I’ve talked a bunch about the genre above, so no more on it need be said.

Next up is Time Travel science fiction.  This differs from time travel fantasy in that the mechanism is usually explained in science terms, and from time travel romance in that there are usually (but not necessarily) a lot fewer hot guys in kilts.  Either the dislocated come to the present, or we go to the past.  Your principal care should be that there should be a semi-plausible mechanism for time travel, even if it’s just “we discovered how to fold time” and if you’re taking your character into historic times, for the love of heaven, make sure you have those correct.  My favorite — to no one’s surprise — of these is The Door Into Summer which does not take you to past times.  Of those that do, the favorite is The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis.  My one caveate, re: putting it on Amazon is for the love of heaven, I don’t care if you have a couple who fall in love, do not put this under time travel romance.  Do not, do not, do not.  You know not what you do.

Next up is Space Opera — my definition, which is apparently not universal — Earth is there (usually) and the humans are recognizably humans, but they have marvels of tech we can’t even guess at.  The tech or another sfnal problem (aliens!) usually provides the conflict, and there’s usually adventure, conflict, etc.  My favorite is The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress.  (And by the knowledge of his time I think it was hard SF except for the sentient computer which we STILL don’t have.  Yes, I cry when Mycroft “dies” What of it?)

(15) POPPYCOCK. Shaun Duke is touchy about the notion that there is such a thing: “On the “Right” Kind of Reviews”.

One of the things that often bothers me about the reviewing process is the idea that some reviews are inherently more valuable than others. By this, I don’t mean in the sense of the quality of the writing itself; after all, some reviews really are nothing more than a quick “I liked it” or are borderline unreadable. Rather, I mean “more valuable” in the sense that different styles of reviewing are worth more than others. While I think most of us would agree that this is poppycock, there are some in the sf/f community who would honestly claim that the critical/analytical review is simply better than the others (namely, the self-reflective review).

Where this often rears its head is in the artificial divide between academia and fandom-at-large (or “serious fandom” vs. “gee-golly-joyfestival fandom”). I don’t know if this is the result of one side of fandom trying desperately to make sf/f a “serious genre” or the result of the way academics sometimes enter sf/f fandom1. But there are some who seem hell bent on treating genre and the reviews that fill up its thought chambers as though some things should be ignored in favor of more “worthy” entries. I sometimes call these folks the Grumble Crowd2 since they are also the small group of individuals who appear to hate pretty much everything in the genre anyway — which explains why so much of what they do is write the infamous 5,000-word “critical review” with nose turned up to the Super Serious Lit God, McOrwell (or McWells or McShelley or whatever).

(16) ICE (ON) NINE. Amazing Stories shared NASA’s explanation about “Giant Ice Blades Found on Pluto”, our (former) ninth planet.

NASA’s New Horizons mission revolutionized our knowledge of Pluto when it flew past that distant world in July 2015. Among its many discoveries were images of strange formations resembling giant blades of ice, whose origin had remained a mystery.

 

(17) MARVEL’S LOCKJAW. Call me suspicious, but I’m inclined to be skeptical when I see that the author of a comic book about a dog is named “Kibblesmith.”

He’s been a breakout star since he could bark, a faithful sidekick to his Inhuman masters, and has helped protect an empire. Now, he’s got his own mission to take on — Marvel is excited to announce LOCKJAW #1, a new four-part mini written by Daniel Kibblesmith with art by Carlos Villa.

When Lockjaw finds out his long-lost siblings are in danger, he’ll embark on a journey which will result in a teleporting, mind-bending adventure. “We’re super excited about this book. Daniel Kibblesmith—a hilarious writer who works on The Late Show and recently published a book called Santa’s Husband—has cooked up an incredibly fun, heart-filled romp around the Marvel Universe,” said series editor Wil Moss. “Back in BLACK BOLT #5, writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Frazer Irving finally settled the mystery of Lockjaw’s origin: He’s definitely a dog, birthed by a dog, who happens to have the power of teleportation. But now we’re going even further: How did Lockjaw obtain that power? And is he really the only Inhuman dog in the universe? So in issue #1, we find out that Lockjaw’s got brothers and sisters. From there, we’ll be following everybody’s best friend around the universe as he tracks down his siblings—along with a surprising companion, D-Man! It’s gonna be a fantastic ride, all beautifully illustrated by up-and-comer Carlos Villa! So grab on to the leash and come with!”

You heard us: Grab a leash, prepare your mind, and teleport along with Lockjaw when LOCKJAW #1 hits comic shops this February!

(19) ANOTHER OLD NEIGHBORHOOD. See photos of “The birth, life, and death of old Penn Station” at NY Curbed. Andrew Porter recalls that the hotel across the street from the station was the site of numerous comics and SF conventions, including the 1967 Worldcon and SFWA banquets, etc. Porter says:

The Pennsylvania Hotel was built directly across the street, to capture the trade of those using the Pennsylvania Railroad to get to NYC. At one time, the hotel had ballrooms (replaced with TV studios), swimming pools, etc. Renamed the Statler-Hilton in the 1960s, re-renamed the Pennsylvania Hotel in recent decades. The hotel’s phone number remains PEnnsylvania 6-5000, also a famous swing tune written by Glenn Miller, whose band played there before World War Two.

The current owners of the hotel planned to tear it down, replace it with an 80-story office building (shades of Penn Station!) but those plans fell through a couple of years ago.

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