Pixel Scroll 9/20/17 Won’t You Jaunt Home, Lije Bailey?

(1) IT’S ABOUT TIME. The Sun tells about the actor’s latest project — “Tom Baker is back playing Doctor Who nearly 40 years after originally playing the Time Lord”.

He recorded final scenes for Shada, written by Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy creator Douglas Adams.

It was meant to be a six-episode tale for Tom’s fourth incarnation of the Doctor in 1979-80.

But production was wrecked by a BBC technicians’ strike and only half was filmed before it was shelved.

Tom and other members of the original cast — including Lalla Ward, 66, as companion Romana — returned for the recording in Uxbridge, West London.

They are voicing animated sequences that will replace the unfilmed material.

(2) NEXT LARA CROFT. Rick Marshall on Digital Trends has “First ‘Tomb Raider’ trailer introduces Alicia Vikander as the new Lara Croft”.

Two films based on Lara Croft’s adventures preceded the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot film: 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and 2003’s Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. Both films cast Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft and collectively earned $432 million at the worldwide box office, making the series one of the highest-grossing film franchises based on a video game property.

Tomb Raider hits theaters March 16, 2018.

 

(3) THE SPIRIT OF SFF. Although I’ve become inured to this phrase being code for “more nutty nuggets, please,” author Joseph Brassey has only the original meaning in mind when he talks about “Keeping the Fun in Science Fiction” at Fantasy-Faction.

I firmly believe, however, that a story should be able to confront real problems without losing its soul, its sense of fun, and this is found in the conviction that things can always be better. It is in an explicit rejection of a tone of cynicism, because work that grapples with darkness doesn’t need to assume it is in the nature of our most misanthropic, derisive qualities to prevail. Hope is not a method, but it is the precursor of methods. The spark that ignites action and turns talk of change into moving feet and hands grasping for actions of worth. Hope is not the fire. It is the lighter of fires.

The human element is everything. Where the fantastical meets the machine. Where the magic meets the skycraft. Where the sword turns aside the crackling bolt of gunfire and the pilot spins the wheel to take her ship from the roaring path of the dragon’s breath. Where conflict assails the human spirit and we find our noblest qualities in the face of ravening hate, violent authoritarianism, and bone-chilling fear.

It is in the wonder that reaches for stars, responds to fury with mercy, hatred with love, having the courage to peer beyond a terrible present to embrace a future awash with a thousand hues of color.

(4) GENRE WALK WITH ME. Abigail Nussbaum delves into her psychology as a viewer, the history of a particular show, and generational changes in the television medium in “That Gum You Like: Scattered Thoughts on Twin Peaks: The Return” at Asking the Wrong Question.

My third try with Twin Peaks was just a few months ago, when, in preparation for the upcoming revival series, I mainlined the entire 30 episodes of the show, plus Fire Walk With Me, over a long weekend.  It was strange experiencing the show this way, simultaneously a newcomer and someone who knew quite a bit about it, including the major turns of plot.  What was even stranger was how much the existence of The Return changed the meaning and significance of the original Twin Peaks, even before a single frame of it had aired.  From a failed experiment, it became merely a chapter in a story, whose later installments might yet redeem it.  Watching Twin Peaks was suddenly no longer an exercise in nostalgia and self-flagellation, but that venerable Peak TV practice of binge-watching the previous seasons before the new episodes start.  I ended up enjoying this rewatch much more than I was expecting (Fire Walk With Me, in particular, turns out to be a great deal more rewarding than I’d been led to believe), but I wonder if I would have felt the same if I didn’t know that another chapter in the saga was just around the corner.

(5) YOUR HOST, BORIS KARLOFF. It’s 1962 in England and a wonderful sf anthology series has just completed its run: “[Sep. 20, 1962] Out of this World (the British Summer SF hit!)”. Galactic Journey’s Ashley R. Pollard delivers mini-reviews of all the episodes.

As I mentioned before, this series was launched with Dumb Martian shown as part of the Armchair Theatre series.  The new series has a very spooky theme tune called The Concerto to the Stars, composed by Eric Siday, which plays against a background of moving microscopic tentacles that sets the tone for the show.  For those who are interested, Tony Hatch has expanded the theme tune into very catchy 45 record, available from all good record stores.

The format of the show has each episode introduced by Boris Karloff, who is disarmingly charming with his bon mots about the story to come.  There are two breaks for adverts, which is annoying, but this is commercial TV, so it is to be expected.  Then Mr. Karloff signs off the story with an announcement of the cast.

(6) LAWYER LETTERS GO GENRE. Adweek has the story: “Netflix Sent the Best Cease-and-Desist Letter to This Unauthorized Stranger Things Bar”.

Evidence for this comes from Chicago, where an unauthorized Stranger Things bar recently opened and has since become quite popular. Naturally, Netflix wasn’t OK with this. But instead of firing off a nasty, sharply worded missive, it sent a quite adorable letter to the owners in the style of the Stranger Things universe.

“Danny and Doug,” the letter started out…

My walkie talkie is busted so I had to write this note instead. I heard you launched a Stranger Things pop-up bar at your Logan Square location. Look, I don’t want you to think I’m a total wastoid, and I love how much you guys love the show. (Just wait until you see Season 2!) But unless I’m living in the Upside Down, I don’t think we did a deal with you for this pop-up. You’re obviously creative types, so I’m sure you can appreciate that it’s important to us to have a say in how our fans encounter the worlds we build.

We’re not going to go full Dr. Brenner on you, but we ask that you please (1) not extend the pop-up beyond its 6 week run ending in September, and (2) reach out to us for permission if you plan to do something like this again. Let me know as soon as possible that you agree to these requests.

We love our fans more than anything, but you should know the Demogorgon is not always as forgiving. So please don’t make us call your mom.

(7) THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE. Early in Honest Trailers’ take on Wonder Woman comes this line:

Now, Patty Jenkins bravely asks the question, “What if a female-led superhero movie wasn’t absolute garbage from beginning to end, and had a powerful message for girls: Save the world, look flawless doing it, be a literal god, then men might begrudgingly half-tolerate your presence?”

 

“I pretty much howled,” says Rick Moen, who sent the link, “Fair cop.”

(8) VOICE OF OUR FRIENDS. Last night a thousand people paid tribute to the late June Foray. From The Hollywood Reporter, “Veteran Voice Actress June Foray Remembered by Lily Tomlin, More at Packed Event”.

Billed as “Hokey Smokes! A June Foray Celebration,” the grand gala was produced by animation veterans Mark Evanier, Jerry Beck, Bob Bergen, Howard Green and Tom Sito and ably hosted by Evanier, who was June’s longtime friend and sometime employer.

Among the many eager to pay personal and professional tribute were Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart Simpson), Bill Mumy (who spoke of June’s guest appearance on an episode of Lost in Space), animation historian Charles Solomon, Teresa Ganzel (The Duck Factory) and a surprise guest — Lily Tomlin — who won a voiceover Emmy in 2013 the same night June received the Governors Award. Tomlin said of Foray, “The characters she played were so much more than cartoons; they were our friends.” …

Foray was also saluted for her tireless efforts to engender more respect for the world of animation as a founding member of the American branch of ASIFA (Association International du Film d’Animation), which produces the annual Annie Awards, and she is credited with helping to establish the Academy Award category for best animated feature film.

As a grand finale, Evanier invited a number of animation actresses who had been inspired by Foray’s pioneering work to come up onstage and pose for a sort of “class photo” (below) flanking a large portrait of Foray in her natural habitat — seated at a microphone….

Evanier remarked that Foray’s career began in the Golden Age of Radio in the 1930s and continued up to and including video games.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 20, 1979 – The theatrical release was edited down as the pilot episode for TV’s Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
  • September 20, 1985 Morons From Outer Space premiered theatrically on this day.
  • September 20, 1987  — Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future premiered its first and only season.
  • September 20, 2002 Firefly premiered.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born September 20, 1948 – George R.R. Martin

(11) MALTIN ON ELLISON BIO. Leonard Maltin approves “A LIT FUSE: THE PROVOCATIVE LIFE OF HARLAN ELLISON: AN EXPLORATION WITH EXTENSIVE INTERVIEWS by Nat Segaloff (Nesfa Press)” which is more than I can say ‘til I read it. And maybe then.

Harlan Ellison is one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met. An author, activist, and professional provocateur, he is incapable of being dull, which makes this book a page-turner almost by definition. His fame in the field of science-fiction obscures other facets of his career, including writing for television and movies. It’s all chronicled in this highly readable profile by a longtime friend and follower. No single book could cover the entirety of Ellison’s life, or reproduce every one of his memorable rants, but Segaloff makes a healthy start in that direction.

(12) QUARTER CENTURY MARK. SyFy Wire continues to celebrate the channel’s 25th anniversary with lists – today “25 people we really miss”.

In the last 25 years, we’ve had some amazing new creators of science fiction, fantasy, and horror emerge – but we’ve lost many true legends in the field along the way, as well. These writers, artists, actors, and visionaries helped to make our world a richer place with the power of their imaginations and continue to inspire us long after they’re gone.

How often are you going to see David Bowie on a list sandwiched between Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury?

(13) LOTS TO TALK ABOUT. Amal El-Mohtar sees strengths and weaknesses in Annalee Newitz’ Autonomous: “In A Future Ruled By Big Pharma, A Robot Tentatively Explores Freedom — And Sex: ‘Autonomous'”.

I rarely dog-ear the books I read for review, trusting myself to remember their most notable aspects. I dog-eared enough of Autonomous‘ pages to almost double its thickness, such was the granularity of things I wanted to highlight, praise, and discuss. From startling insights to delicately turned prose to whole passages of unbearably tender musings on the intimate desires of artificial intelligence, there’s much more than I can feasibly talk about here. But here’s some highlights.

Autonomous‘ main interest is the danger our late capitalist modernity poses to personhood, and the intricacies of what it means to be free – from ownership, from programming, from the circumstances of one’s birth. But the parts that enthralled and moved me most – to laughter, to tears – were the musings on sexuality, and the contrast between Jack and Paladin’s respective experiences. Throughout most of the novel, Jack’s relationship to sexuality is written in clinical, chemical terms, a physical means to a physical end; Paladin’s, meanwhile, is explored in intimate, puzzled probings, often starkly contrasted with the extreme violence for which Paladin was built. I loved the contrast between seeing a woman treat sex as casually as an itch to scratch, and a genderless robot building romance and sexuality from first principles, through internet searches, conversations with other AIs, and awkward, fumbling experiments.

(14) BUGS M ‘LADY: Sophia Spencer and Morgan Jackson co-wrote a scientific paper on Twitter, entomology and women in science, after a tweet about Sophia’s love for bugs went viral: “Once Teased For Her Love Of Bugs, 8-Year-Old Co-Authors Scientific Paper”

We were hoping that we could find an entomologist or two, perhaps, that would be willing to talk to Sophie and share a little bit about their backstory,” he said. “We were blown away with the number of people who came charging to help Sophia.” The organization received more than a thousand replies and more than 130 direct messages.

(15) WOMEN IN POP CULTURE. Alexandra Heller-Nicholas takes a victory lap in “Hard Corps: Women in power and the politics of taking action”.

This same toxicity has recently riddled science fiction and fantasy literature as well. In 2015 and 2016, alt-right trolls took aim at the prestigious Hugo Awards and what they perceived as a leftist bias. Women, of course, have long had a forceful presence in this literary domain, particularly those driven by strong ideological motivations: Ursula Le Guin, Margaret Atwood and Octavia Butler to name but a few. And in film, directors including Kristina Buozyte, Kate Chaplin, Kathryn Bigelow, Jennifer Phang and Lizzie Borden have each used science fiction codes and conventions in profound and often diverse ways.

But it is in front of the camera that the genre’s history of strong, active women is the most visible and diverse. Heroine Maria and her evil gynoid doppelga?nger in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, aggressive sex bomb Jane Fonda as the title character in Roger Vadim’s Barbarella, turbo-mum Sarah Connor from the Terminator franchise, resourceful Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, and – of course – the iconic image of the no-shit-taking woman, Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley from the Alien movies. For starters.

But if we’re going to lift the lid off of this particular Pandora’s Box, it’s worth doing it properly. Representations of strong women in cinema bleed outwards across eras, production contexts and the often blurry lines of film genre itself. Any prehistory of women characters in the recent Star Wars movies – Rey (Daisy Ridley) from The Force Awakens and Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) from Rogue One – must necessarily look far beyond the terrain of sci-fi itself.

(16) TERMINATOR WILL RETURN. Borys Kit’s Hollywood Reporter story “Linda Hamilton Set to Return to ‘Terminator’ Franchise”, says that James Cameron is producing a new Terminator film, to be directed by Deadpool director Tim Miller.

After waving hasta la vista, baby, more than 25 years ago, Linda Hamilton is returning to the world of Terminator, reuniting with James Cameron, the creator of the sci-fi franchise, for the new installment being made by Skydance and Paramount.

Cameron made the announcement at a private event celebrating the storied franchise, saying, “As meaningful as she was to gender and action stars everywhere back then, it’s going to make a huge statement to have that seasoned warrior that she’s become return.”

With Hamilton’s return, Cameron hopes to once again make a statement on gender roles in action movies.

“There are 50-year-old, 60-year-old guys out there killing bad guys,” he said, referring to aging male actors still anchoring movies, “but there isn’t an example of that for women.”

(17) G AS IN GEEZER. Meanwhile, an octagenarian male hero gets the glory in William Shatner’s Zero-G: Green Space, released September `9.

In the second installment of William Shatner’s Zero-G series, Director Samuel Lord must identify a mole sabotaging the top-secret NASA project aboard the US space station Empyrean, while also fighting a fast-replicating virus that threatens humanity. In the year 2050, the United States sends the FBI to govern its space station, The Empyrean. Under the command of suave, eighty-year-old director Samuel Lord, the “Zero-G” men are in charge of investigating terrorism, crime, corruption, and espionage, keeping an eye on the rival Chinese and Russian stations as well….

(18)  PUNISHER. Nextflix has a new trailer up for the Punisher.

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

Will the Last Puppy to Leave the Planet Please Shut Off the Sun? 5/14

aka The Puppy Who Sold the Moon

The field for today’s royal rumble includes John C. Wright, Eric Flint, Vox Day, Tom Knighton, Spacefaring Kitten, Wayne Borean, Lis Carey, Lisa J. Goldstein, T.C. McCarthy, Kevin Standlee, Alexandra Erin, Thomas A. Mays, Brandon Kempner, Rick Moen, Peace Is My Middle Name, Bruce Baugh and Damien G. Walter. (Title credit to File 770 contributing editors of the day Whym and Rev. Bob.)

John C. Wright

”Suggested Reading for Sad Puppy Backstory” – May 14

Some of you came in to this theater late, and did not catch the first act.

For those of you puzzled or dazed or disgusted with the goings-on, allow me to provide a partial (and admittedly partial) list of the backstory on Puppy Related Sadness.

From Larry Correia you can get links to his original announcements of Sad Puppies 1,2,and 3. Allow me, at the risk of seeming egomaniacal, of listing only my own contributions to the movement and the columns leading up to it.

[Post includes around a dozen selected links.]

 

Eric Flint

“And Again On The Hugo Awards” – May 14

[Again, just a small excerpt of a long and wide-ranging post.]

I think one side in this dispute is wrong—that’s the side championed by Brad and Larry. I think that, not because I think the Hugo awards don’t have a lot of problems—I do, and I explained those at length in my first essay—but because their analysis of the problem is so wrong as to be downright wrong-headed. But I don’t think they pose a mortal threat to social justice, western civilization, science fiction or even the Hugo awards themselves.

 Why did they launch this brawl and keep pursuing it? Well, I’ve always been a devotee of Napoleon’s dictum: “Never ascribe to malevolence what can be adequately explained by incompetence.” I don’t think there was anything involved except that, driven by the modern American right’s culture of victimization—they are always being persecuted; there’s a war on white men, a war on Christmas (no, worse! a war on Christians themselves!), blah blah blah—they jumped to the conclusion that the reason authors they like weren’t getting Hugo awards or even nominations was because of the Great Leftwing Conspiracy against the righteous led by unnamed Social Justice Warriors—presumably being shuttled around the country in their nefarious plots in black helicopters—and off they went.

If they’d simply said: “We think the Hugos have gotten too skewed against popular authors in favor of literary authors,” there’d have still been a pretty ferocious argument but it never would have reached this level of vituperation.

 But simply stating a problem wasn’t good enough for them. No, following the standard modern right-wing playbook, SOMEBODY MUST BE TO BLAME.

 Enter… the wicked SJWs! (Whoever the hell they are. They’re to blame, dammit.)

 

Vox Day at Vox Popoli

“Islands in a sea of rhetoric” – May 14

I stopped commenting at File 770 as it proved to be another exercise in demonstrating the truth of Aristotle’s dictum about those who cannot be instructed. Give them dialectic and they shamelessly attempt to pick it apart, some honestly, most dishonestly, while constantly declaring that any errors or falsehoods on their part are irrelevant. Give them rhetoric to meet them at their level and they either cry about it or concoct pseudo-dialectic to explain why it’s not valid.

VD: SJWs always lie. SJW: I told the truth once back in 2007. See, you’re totally wrong. Your whole argument is disproved. You are a bad person. DISQUALIFIED!

But the ongoing Hugo coverage still makes for interesting reading, particularly as the few remaining commenters possessing intellectual integrity one-by-one throw up their hands and stop trying to force the relevant facts through the SJW’s cast-iron skulls. A pair of neutrals recounted typical experiences, as one of them juxstaposed his treatment at various Puppy sites versus SF-SJW Central:

 

Tom Knighton

“One problem with the Hugos that will never be solved?” – May 14

I’m sorry, but less than 50 votes got nominations on the ballot?  With such low numbers getting a work nominated, you can tell that there just aren’t that many people nominating.  This puts the fate of the Hugos in the hands of a few, which makes it possible for small groups to have a disproportional impact on the overall Hugos.  Let’s be honest, it’s why Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies were so effective.  Put those exact same groups into a pool of millions, and you’d never notice their impact.

However, back to the subject at hand, you have a handful of people who are essentially deciding who gets nominated for the Hugos, and if they don’t read something, it’s not getting nominated.  What if that handful hasn’t read the Best Book Ever Written yet?  Well, guess who isn’t getting a Hugo nomination?

That’s what almost happened with Three Body Problem this year.  The Puppies just hadn’t read it yet, so it didn’t make either slate.  It’s probably happened a dozen times previously, it’s just that this time there’s far more scrutiny being paid to the process.

 

Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Kittens

“Disagreeing With Brad” – May 14

Because I so thoroughly disagree with Sad Puppy advocates, I’ve been thinking about doing a fisking of some essential Puppy advocate post. Fisking is a thing Larry Correia does sometimes in his blog, and as far as I’ve been able to decipher, what it means is a mean-spirited rebuttal of everything somebody else has written elseweb, line by line. Generally, it seems to involve a great deal of calling other people morons and idiots, but I’ll try to do it without the nasty parts, because I have no desire to be nasty.

An opportunity presented itself when Brad R. Torgersen published a blog post earlier today. In it, he says a lot of things that I don’t agree on. That let’s us, well, disagree.

 

Wayne Borean on Zauberspiegel International

“Hugo Gernsback Still Causing Controversy” – May 15

The Hugo Awards have lost their relevance. You might argue with me about the date I picked (1985), or my view of the Hugos, but you cannot argue with me about the demographics of fandom. We are a bunch of grey haired old folks, and the younger generation isn’t rushing to sit at our feet in awe for some reason.

To fix the problem we have to expand the Hugo Awards, and encourage younger people to get involved.

Yes, I am aware that I’m probably going to really annoy a lot of people by saying this, but we brought this on ourselves. We’ve been too self centered, for far too long.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“The Day the World Turned Upside Down, by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (author), Lia Velt (translator)” – May 14

The story is competently written, but it’s the worst sort of “literary” fictions: Nothing needs to make any sense, and the protagonist is not someone I’m inclined to care about at all, for good or ill. I don’t care what happens to him.

 

Adult Onset Atheist

“SNARL: Totaled” – May 14

I liked this story. I am not using “liked” as a euphemism for “reading this did not make me sick”. This story is a worthy Hugo nominee; the first story that has earned that description from amongst what I have so far read of this year nominees. Before I get into what is right with this story I should point out the a couple issues. This story is told through the juxtaposition of communications, but is recalled in near real time to the reader who does not exist in the story. The reader must carefully examine the types of communication; where it originates, how it is read, how the information is stored, even what type of images are implied by the mechanism of communication. However, when it comes to the story itself the reader is expected to unquestioningly act as an omnipotent recording device.

 

Lisa J. Goldstein on theinferior4

“The Hugo Ballot, Part 9: Novelettes” – May 14

[“Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium” by Gray Rinehart] is so slight, in fact, it could have been about half its size.  The first section, where Keller asks a Peshari artist to make him a tombstone and the artist refuses, might have been cut, and there are other unnecessary parts as well.  (The section gives us some important information about Keller and the Peshari, but that information could be presented in other ways.)  I actually like the idea of studying an enemy’s myths in order to defeat them, but I don’t think the story manages to use it to full advantage.

 

 

Kevin Standlee on Fandom Is My Way of Life

“Fandom Is A Pot-Luck Dinner” – May 13

My metaphor is that Fandom is a Pot-Luck Dinner. We have lots of acquaintances, we all like to eat, and we decide to hold a big pot-luck dinner where we can share our favorite dishes and socialize. We have so many friends and friends-of-friends that none of us owns a barn big enough to hold everyone, so we have to rent the community center. None of us is wealthy enough to do that on our own, so we ask everyone coming to not only bring a dish, but also to kick in part of the cost of renting the hall, plus the tables, chairs, etc. We’re not running a restaurant, and we’re not making a profit, just covering the cost of putting on the event. Some of us volunteer to schlep tables and chairs, others volunteer to wash dishes, and so forth. Everyone brings something. That means some of the food is stuff I personally like, and other stuff I hate. But that’s okay: I eat what I like, and leave the rest for those who like green bean casserole.

Somewhere along the way, we got the idea of voting among ourselves for what the best dishes were. (“Best Appetizer,” “Best Main Course,” “Best Dessert”) And we started holding this big pot-luck in different places so as to share the fun with our far-away friends who couldn’t necessarily make the trip to Our Fair City.

Well, now we’ve got people who started coming to the pot-luck, paying the share of the hall rental, and are angry that we’ve been choosing things they personally hate to eat, and have decided that they want to knock over all of the tables with food they dislike and insist that the rest of us eat that stuff that they personally like, because they say so. It should not be a surprise to them that the rest of us start saying, “I don’t think we want to invite you anymore; you’re making the rest of us very uncomfortable by your anti-social behavior.” They respond with variations of, “I paid my cover charge to your restaurant, and you’re responsible for feeding me things that I like, and to not serve food I don’t like!” and they don’t understand why that response alternately baffles or infuriates the rest of us.

 

Alexandra Erin on Blue Author Is About To Write

“The Barker and the Big Tent” – May 14

A pair of burly roustabouts flanked each of the gates. As Jake watched, a couple of people were roughly turned away from one. The bouncers’ faces were murderous, while the people they sent packing just looked scared. All the lines got shorter as people saw this and left in apparent disgust or, in some cases, fear.

“Well, lad, that’s where we let everyone in,” the barker said, then repeated, “Everyone is welcome in the Big Tent.” He cupped his hands over his mouth and shouted, “Come one, come all, to the Big Tent! If you believe that any show is a good show as long as it’s entertaining, this is the place for you!”

“So, who were those people, then?” Jake asked.

“Gatekeepers,” the barker said.

“No, I mean the people your gatekeepers turned away.”

Our gatekeepers?” the barker said. He let out a loud, raucous laugh, slapping his knee. “We don’t have gatekeepers, son! This is the Big Tent you’re talking about, and everyone’s welcome in the Big Tent! No, those nice gentlemen are there to keep the gatekeepers out.

 

Thomas A. Mays in a comment on File 770 – May 14

Just a point of order here. I am not “one of the gentlemen on the other side” as Chris Gerrib put it. I have no dog in this hunt. Chris has admitted that he originally had me confused with James May when he called me one of the louder voices on Brad Torgerson’s blog, but it brought him to my book, A Sword Into Darkness. Yeah, a sale!. I’m glad he enjoyed it somewhat, and as it was intended as an homage to some of the mil and hard SF I grew up with, I do understand his charge that it may seem “recycled” or “trope-ish” (though I and my fans don’t necessarily agree). What I don’t understand is why he keeps copying, spreading, or reposting this review around with the misleading intro. It’s a free ‘Net, so he can do as he pleases, but it seems to suggest he has more ideological axes to grind than I do. For the record, I’m a middle of the road guy and a newbie to this industry. I can see and appreciate both perspectives, but believe the rhetoric and vitriol folks keep injecting into the “discussion” may be actively preventing a fair resolution to the issues at hand rather than expediting that resolution. I myself would have loved to have gotten the recognition of being selected for a non-ideological Puppy slate before it all blew up. Now? I get how the anti-puppies feel about the recommendation slate perhaps skewing results, though I’m reserving judgment on whether or not it was bloc voting until after the ballots are revealed. I will not have any part of the No Award movement though, and I’m about halfway through my reading list. I’m looking forward to the Hugos, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Sad Puppies 4 responds to the criticisms of SP3. For all those who wanna check out my non-nominated, but much referred to novel A Sword Into Darkness, it’s for sale now on Amazon and Smashwords. Take care, Tom Mays

 

Brandon Kempner on Chaos Horizon

“Hugo Award Nomination Ranges, 2006-2015, Part 4” – May 13

Maybe we don’t want to know how the sausage is made. The community is currently placing an enormous amount of weight on the Hugo ballot, but does it deserve such weight? One obvious “fix” is to bring far more voters into the process—lower the supporting membership cost, invite other cons to participate in the Hugo (if you invited some international cons, it could actually be a “World” process every year), add a long-list stage (first round selects 15 works, the next round reduces those 5, then the winner), etc. All of these are difficult to implement, and they would change the nature of the award (more voters = more mainstream/populist choices). Alternatively, you can restrict voting at the nominating stage to make it harder to “game,” either by limiting the number of nominees per ballot or through a more complex voting proposals.

 

Rick Moen in a comment on File 770 – May 13

Con Chair: What happen?
SMOF: Somebody set up us the tail.
Operator: We get spoor.
Con Chair: What!
SMOFr: Main piddle turn on.
Con Chair: It’s You!!
Dogs: How are you, fandom!! All your Hugo are belong to us. You are on the way to SJWdom.
Con Chair: What you say!!
Dogs: You have no chance to nominate make your time. Ha Ha Ha Ha ….
SMOF: Con Chair!!
Con Chair: Take off every “Noah”!! You know what you doing. Move “Noah”. For great justice.

 

Peace Is My Middle Name in a comment on File 770 – May 13

It was a dark and stormy mutt; the rage fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of whinge which swept up the streets (for it is in Spokane that our scene lies), rattling along the hotel-ballrooms, and fiercely agitating the skiffy flames of the fans that struggled against the darkness.

 

Bruce Baugh in a comment on File 770 – May 13

Toward the end of a stormy summer afternoon, with the sun finally breaking out under ragged black rain clouds, Castle Worldcon was overwhelmed and its population destroyed.

Until almost the last moment the factions among the fans were squabbling as to how Destiny properly should be met. The SMOFs of most prestige and account elected to ignore the en­tire undignified circumstance and went about their normal pursuits, with neither more nor less punctilio than usual. A few CHORFs, des­perate to the point of hysteria, took up weapons and prepared to resist the final assault. Others still, perhaps a quarter of the total population, waited passively, ready—almost happy—to expiate the sins of fandom.

In the end death came uniformly to all; and all extracted as much satisfaction in their dying as this essentially graceless process could afford. The letter hacks sat turning the pages of their beautiful zines, or discussing the qualities of a century-old essence, or fondling a fa­vorite Powers cover. They died without deigning to heed the fact. The hot-heads raced up the muddy slope which, outraging all normal rationality, loomed above the parapets of Worldcon. Most were buried under sliding rubble, but a few gained the ridge to blog, hack, tweet, until they themselves were shot, crushed by the half-alive power-wagons, hacked or stabbed. The contrite waited in the classic pos­ture of gafiation, on their knees, heads bowed, and perished, so they believed, by a process in which the Puppies were symbols and fannish sin the reality. In the end all were dead: letterhacks, actifen, faans in the lounges; dealers in the dealer rooms. Of all those who had inhabited Worldcon, only the media fans survived, creatures awkward, gauche and raucous, oblivious to pride and faith, more concerned with the wholeness of their hides than the dignity of their con.

 

Rick Moen in a comment on File 770 – May 13

No one would have believed in the first years of the twenty-first century that the SFF world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences stranger than fen’s and yet as demented as his own; that as fen busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a fan with a mimeograph machine might Letter of Comment about the transient mundanes that swarm and wander in a convention hotel lobby. With infinite complacency fen went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over genre. It is possible that the mundanes in the convention hotel do the same … Yet, across the gulf of the Internet, minds that are like unto our canines, intellects energetic and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this fandom with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. — Not Entirely H.G. Wells, Either

Jet Beetle

Ron Patrick's jet-powered Beetle

Ron Patrick’s jet-powered VW Beetle is street legal. Well, the cops haven’t found a California law they can charge him under, anyway.

He has a website explaining all about the design, with intriguing comments like: “The heat blanket keeps the plastic bumper from melting when the jet is operating.” Uh, yeah, that would be important now that you mention it.

And his motorcycle? It’s powered by two jet engines.

There is a Darwin Award story about somebody killing himself while driving a jet-powered rig like his, but someone ruined my fun by pointing out Snopes’ report that it’s 100% baloney.

[Via Dave McCarty and Rick Moen]

Ron Patrick's Scooter