By Rob Hansen [host of THEN, the British fanhistory site]: I’m always amazed by some of the stuff that survives down the decades and finds its way to me. The 1957 Worldcon was already easily the most well-covered con on my website, but now there’s more. Want to know the names of those at the con whose names have not been recorded in any conreport, the guests who turned and left on seeing the state of the hotel, those due to be there who cancelled, and those who refused to pay? It’s all here: The Hotel Register.
(1) TOLKIEN’S GONDOLIN. Tor.com carries the official word: “J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fall of Gondolin to Be Published as a Standalone for the First Time”. It will be published August 30.
HarperCollins UK announced today that it would publish The Fall of Gondolin, J.R.R. Tolkien’s tale documenting the rise of a great but hidden Elven kingdom and its terrible fall, for the first time as a standalone edition. Edited by Christopher Tolkien using the same “history in sequence” mode that he did for 2017’s standalone edition of Beren and Lúthien, and illustrated by Alan Lee, this edition will collect multiple versions of the story together for the first time.
Tolkien has called this story, which he first began writing in 1917, “the first real story of this imaginary world”; i.e., it was one of the first tales to be put to paper. The only complete version of The Fall of Gondolin was published posthumously in The Book of Lost Tales; however, different compressed versions appeared in both The Silmarillion and the collection Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth.
(2) POTTER ANNIVERSARY COVERS. Gwynne Watkins, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story “Accio ‘Harry Potter’ covers: See the dazzling new 20th anniversary artwork”, says the Harry Potter books are coming out with new covers by Brian Selznick, author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret (which was the basis for the movie Hugo). See all the covers at the link.
Do your well-worn Harry Potter books need a new look for spring? In honor of the 20th anniversary of the U.S. publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Scholastic is releasing new paperback editions of J.K. Rowling‘s entire series, featuring gorgeous cover art by Brian Selznick. When the seven books are placed side by side, the intricate black-and-white illustrations form a single piece of art chronicling Harry’s adventures. Scroll down to see the covers, which are full of tiny details for readers to discover. (Can you spot the Hogwarts Express? How about Harry’s Patronus?)
(3) ABOUT THE SIMPSONS’ APU. The Simpsons creators can’t figure out how something people laughed at in the past became “politically incorrect.” (And isn’t that term always a signal flare preceding a complete lack of empathy…) Entertainment Weekly’s Dana Schwartz discusses “Why The Simpsons’ response to the Apu controversy was so heartbreaking: Essay”.
…In 2017, comedian Hari Kondabolu wrote and starred in a documentary called The Problem with Apu in which he examined the cultural significance of The Simpsons character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, the Kwik-E-Mart owner, who speaks with a heavy, stereotypical Indian accent and is voiced by Hank Azaria, a white man.
Last night, The Simpsons offered its tepid reply.
The scene began with Marge reading a bedtime story to Lisa that had been neutered with social justice buzzwords. “What am I supposed to do?” Marge asks when Lisa complains.
“It’s hard to say,” says Lisa, breaking the fourth wall and looking directly at the camera. A photo of Apu on the nightstand helped make it very clear they were no longer talking about the fictional bedtime story. “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?”
“Some things will be dealt with at a later date,” says Marge, also to the camera.
“—If it all,” Lisa concludes.
There’s something about the response that came across as not only tasteless but viscerally unsatisfying. In his documentary, Kondabolu initiated the complex conversation about what it meant to have a white actor voicing an Indian character (with a heavy, caricatured accent) during a time when there was little or no Indian representation in the media.
The Simpsons on-air response reveals that the minds behind the long-running animated series either entirely failed to grasp Kondabolu’s point or (perhaps, unfortunately, more likely) they were completely indifferent to it.
(4) VAST GALLERY OF SFF ART. Enjoy TheVaultofRetroSciFi — Lots and lots of SF images, from all sorts of media.
(5) PARANORMAL ROMANCE. Mad Genius Club’s Amanda S. Green explains why it’s hard to “Know Your Genre – Paranormal Romance”. She disagrees with the definitions posted on some of the leading sites.
…So why the confusion about what a PNR is when checking the RITA nominees?
Simply put, that confusion rests solely with RWA. A quick check of their website shows this definition for paranormal romance: “Romance novels in which fantasy worlds or paranormal or science fiction elements are an integral part of the plot.” See, there it is. Science fiction elements.
This definition might have worked several years ago, before there was an increase in the number of science fiction romance titles. Now, it only confuses the issue and muddies the waters when it comes to readers and booksellers. “Paranormal” doesn’t send most readers into the realm of sf, no way and no how. Yet, for RWA’s purposes, science fiction romance mixes and melds with PNR.
Is this the only definition? Far from it. One site defines PNR this way, “For a novel to be a Paranormal Romance, a simple thing must occur: love must begin between a human and a supernatural being (whether wholly supernatural or partially, just as long as there are supernatural elements present)”
Another site has this to say: “Most people hear the words ‘Paranormal Romance’ and visions of sparkly vamps and bare-chested wares seeking virginal human mates spring like crack-addicted leprechauns from the recesses of their minds. While these have certainly been the topic of many a novel **cough** Twilight **cough**, there are so many more topics joining the ranks of Paranormal Romance today. Among them: Shapeshifters—half-human, half-animal beings with the ability to transmute between forms on cue, Angels, Demons, Nephilim, Egyptian Gods and Goddesses, Ancient Greek mythology, and even the occasional Ghost or Alien thrown in for good measure. And I would be amiss in not mentioning the perennial time-traveling, kilt-wearing highlander with the rippling biceps and the heart of gold. His broadsword isn’t the only steely thing about him, if you know what I mean.” Where I have a dispute with the site and its definitions is when it say UF is a sub-genre of PNR. Nope, totally different.
(6) THE WASTELAND. The trailer for Future World has dropped:
In a post-apocalyptic world, where water and gasoline have long since dried-up, a prince from the oasis (one of the last known safe-havens) must venture out to find medicine for the ailing queen (Lucy Liu), but along the way he gets mixed up with the warlord (James Franco) and his robot Ash (Suki Waterhouse), which leads to a daring journey through the desolate wastelands.
(7) FOUNDATIONAL TELEVISION. From Deadline: “Apple Lands Isaac Asimov ‘Foundation’ TV Series From David Goyer & Josh Friedman”.
In a competitive situation, Apple has nabbed a TV series adaptation of Foundation, the seminal Isaac Asimov science fiction novel trilogy. The project, from Skydance Television, has been put in development for straight-to-series consideration. Deadline revealed last June that Skydance had made a deal with the Asimov estate and that David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman were cracking the code on a sprawling series based on the books that informed Star Wars and many other sci-fi films and TV series. Goyer and Friedman will be executive producers and showrunners. Skydance’s David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross also will executive produce….
The project shows a different level of ambition for Apple’s worldwide video programming team led by Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg. In November, they set their first scripted series, a morning show drama executive produced by and starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, with a two-season, straight-to-series order. Apple also has given straight-to-series orders to Amazing Stories, a re-imagining of the anthology from Steven Spielberg, a Ronald D. Moore space drama, a Damien Chazelle series, a comedy starring Kristin Wiig, world-building drama See from Steven Knight and Francis Lawrence, as well as an M. Night Shyamalan psychological thriller.
(8) TWO BUTLER FANS SEEK FUNDS TO ATTEND WORLDCON. Alex Jennings asks “Help Me and Amanda Emily Smith Get to Worldcon 76” via a YouCaring fundraiser. To date people have chipped in $285 of their $2,500 goal.
Last year, Amanda and I both submitted letters to be published in Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia Butler. Octavia was a huge influence on both of us, and Amanda and I had met her separately before her death.
Both our letters were accepted for publication, and we were so pleased to be a part of such a wonderful project. This event was even more of a milestone for Amanda as this was her first professional sale in the science fiction field.
On April 2, the official announcement came down that Letters to Octavia has been chosen as a finalist for the Hugo Award in the category of Related Work! We literally jumped for joy. Honoring one of our greatest influences had lifted us up, as well!
The Hugo Awards are basically the Oscars of Science Fiction. Both Amanda and I have dreamed of attending Worldcon and the Hugo Awards all our lives, but we’ve never been able to before. Now that a book we are both in is a finalist, we feel we must get to Worldcon 76 in San Jose by any means necessary.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
- April 10, 1953 — Feature length, full color, 3-D movie premiered: House of Wax starring Vincent Price.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
- Born April 10, 1953 – David Langford
(11) CANDLE TIME. Steven H Silver lights up Langford’s birthday cake at Black Gate with “Birthday Reviews: David Langford’s ‘Waiting for the Iron Age’”.
Langford may be best known as the holder of twenty-one Hugo Awards for Best Fan Writer, including an unprecedented nineteen year winning streak. During that time he also won six Hugo Awards for Best Fanzine for Ansible and a Best Short Story Hugo for “Different Kinds of Darkness.” In 2012, he won his 29th and most recent Hugo for Best Related Work for The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Third Edition, edited with John Clute, Peter Nicholls, and Graham Sleight. Langford has tied with Charles N. Brown for the most Hugo Awards won.
(12) SOCIETY PAGES. Liz Bourke, Sleeping With Monsters columnist and 2018 Hugo nominee, announced the good news earlier this month:
My amazing girlfriend @fccuffe has asked me to marry her. Obviously I said HELL YES MARRY ME BACK PLEASE. We exchanged engagement pens like utter nerd-geek-dorks. I am deliriously happy. I hope to make her deliriously happy too. pic.twitter.com/9OeySPQxOp
— Liz Bourke (@hawkwing_lb) April 1, 2018
(13) READY FOR HIS CLOSEUP. Neil Gaiman will appear on The Big Bang Theory this month. He’s guested on various TV series over the years, sometimes as an animated character, but this will be live action.
Mark your calendars! On the April 19 episode of The #BigBangTheory, special guest star @neilhimself will put Stuart's comic book store on the map, and (spoiler alert!) Sheldon won't like it. pic.twitter.com/OGkxYjDKIR
— The Big Bang Theory (@bigbangtheory) April 5, 2018
It’s kind of pathetic there are people tweeting responses that they never heard of him. Who cares?
(14) THIS DOCTOR IS NOW IN. ScienceFiction.com reveals that “Peter Cushing’s ‘Doctor Who’ Is Now Canon (Sort Of)”.
One of the biggest tasks an anniversary special has is to balance fan service with a story that can stand on its own merits. Among the many ways ‘The Day of the Doctor’ accomplished this rare feat was to feature appearances by multiple incarnations of the Doctor. Though only three were really sharing the spotlight, every version of the beloved Time Lord made at least a brief appearance, mostly through the use of archival footage. On top of this, Steven Moffat even took the opportunity to introduce a new incarnation in the form of the War Doctor, unforgettably brought to life by John Hurt.
And now he’s done it again.
In the newly released novelization of the fiftieth anniversary special, Steven Moffat has slyly worked Peter Cushing’s version of the Doctor into the series’ continuity
(15) OUTWARD BOUND. A new find pushes the date back: “Finger bone points to early human exodus”.
New research suggests that modern humans were living in Saudi Arabia about 85,000 years ago.
A recently discovered finger bone believed to be Homo sapiens was dated using radio isotope techniques.
Previously, it was theorised that Homo sapiens did not live continuously outside Africa until 60,000 years ago.
(16) MODEST TRIBUTE. The BBC says “Belgrade’s ‘tiny head’ Gagarin statue causes dismay”.
The bust of Yuri Gagarin was ordered by the city council last year, and was put up on a street that bears his name, the Blic news website reports.
But its appearance – a tiny bust on top of a tall plinth – has been met by a hugely negative reaction, the paper says.
“The only way you can see it clearly is to launch yourself into the sky,” the Noizz website says. “While this is somewhat symbolic,” adds writer Ivana Stojanov, “there’s certainly no common sense on show”.
(17) IT’S NOT DEAD, JIM. Nerd & Tie’s Trae Dorn tries to figure out what happened: “Cherry City Comic Con Confusingly Cancelled and then Uncancelled?”.
…Of course, as a Facebook video, it’s highly unlikely that anyone will really end up watching this. Which really does beg the question: if you uncancel a show no one knows was cancelled, did anything really happen at all? Because right now, most people have no idea.
Update 4/10, 12:00pm: In a strange series of events, Cherry City Comic Con has now been uncancelled. The announcement was made, again, with a Facebook video…
Of course, as a Facebook video, it’s highly unlikely that anyone will really end up watching this. Which really does beg the question: if you uncancel a show no one knows was cancelled, did anything really happen at all?
(18) QUICK FLASH. Charles Payseur turns his eye to “Quick Sips – Flash Fiction Online April 2018”.
Continuing the newer tradition of coming out with fairly thematically linked issues, Flash Fiction Online presents an April full of fools. Or maybe fooling. Also aliens. Yup, all three stories feature alien beings, and in most of them there’s also a vein of something…well, of someone pulling one over on someone else. Maybe it’s an actress tricking an alien monster to spare Earth, or a group of alien agents trying to set up first contact on the sly, or even the own paranoid post-drunken-weekend-in-Vegas thoughts of a man who might have just married an extraterrestrial. In any case, the stories are largely bright and fun, even when they brush against planet eating and possible invasion. So without further delay, to the reviews!
(19) ALL KNOWN BRITISH SFF. At THEN, Rob Hansen’s British fanhistory site, you can find scans of a 1937 British SF Bibliography. Once upon a time, the literary universe was a smaller place.
Edited by Douglas W. F. Mayer for the Science Fiction Association and dated August 1937, this was one of the earliest bibliographies to be produced by fandom and contains many titles that would be unfamiliar to a modern reader. A mimeographed publication, it was printed in purple-blue ink, had a soft card wraparound cover, and was stitch-bound. The particular copy scanned for this site includes its unknown previous owner’s checkmarks against many entries.
This is a list of books, only. However, it’s still an interesting coincidence that Mayer himself edited Amateur Science Stories #2, where Arthur C. Clarke’s first published story appeared in December 1937.
(20) JAWS. Or at least part of a jaw: “Ancient sea reptile was one of the largest animals ever”.
Sea reptiles the size of whales swam off the English coast while dinosaurs walked the land, according to a new fossil discovery.
The jaw bone, found on a Somerset beach, is giving clues to the ”last of the giants” that roamed the oceans 205 million years ago.
The one-metre-long bone came from the mouth of a huge predatory ichthyosaur.
The creature would have been one of the largest ever known, behind only blue whales and dinosaurs, say scientists.
(21) SUMMER MUNCH. The Meg is slated for release on August 10, 2018.
In the film, a deep-sea submersible—part of an international undersea observation program—has been attacked by a massive creature, previously thought to be extinct, and now lies disabled at the bottom of the deepest trench in the Pacific…with its crew trapped inside. With time running out, expert deep sea rescue diver Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is recruited by a visionary Chinese oceanographer (Winston Chao), against the wishes of his daughter Suyin (Li Bingbing), to save the crew—and the ocean itself—from this unstoppable threat: a pre-historic 75-foot-long shark known as the Megalodon. What no one could have imagined is that, years before, Taylor had encountered this same terrifying creature. Now, teamed with Suyin, he must confront his fears and risk his own life to save everyone trapped below…bringing him face to face once more with the greatest and largest predator of all time.
(22) AND DON’T FORGET THESE SHARKES. The Shadow Clarke jury’s Nick Hubble picked six books on the submissions list to review, and tells why in this post.
My criteria for the selection of these six titles this year – none of which I have read – was not what I think might be in contention or even necessarily what I think I will personally rate. Instead, I have chosen a range of books that I hope will enable some sort of literary critical discussion of the field as a whole in 2018 (although clearly this remains an entirely subjective choice on my behalf). Therefore, I have tried to mix first-time authors with established novelists, sequels with standalone works, and genre and mainstream literary texts; but I have married this with a practical policy of also choosing books that took my fancy for whatever reason.
I was also trying to pick a set of choices similar to the that offered by this year’s shortlist for the BSFA Award for best novel: Nina Allan’s The Rift, Anne Charnock’s Dreams Before the Start of Time,? Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West, and Ann Leckie’s Provenance?. I thought this was a good list because there were different types of novels, all of which I enjoyed (and because I have read them, I have excluded them from my Clarke selection below even though all have been submitted). Despite large differences in approach, these novels share a focus on family relationships that perhaps tells us something about the preoccupations of our age. It would be trite to argue that they simply demonstrate a retreat from political and ideological uncertainty to take refuge in the personal sphere but perhaps they suggest different ways in which politics and relationships are both being reconfigured in an age of digital communication. It will be interesting to see what patterns emerge from the wider Clarke submissions list.
(23) ABOUT KRESS. Joe Sherry is not fully satisfied with the book, but it’s close: “Microreview [book]: Tomorrow’s Kin, by Nancy Kress”, at Nerds of a Feather.
Once we move past the conclusion of Yesterday’s Kin, the focus remains on Dr. Marianne Jenner as well as pushing in tighter on that of her grandchildren. This is character driven science fiction. Kress explores the impact of Earth’s interaction with a spore cloud that was initially described as a world killer, but she does so through the lens of characters who have become as familiar as family. To a reader not steeped in the nuance and minutiae of science, the unpinning science of Tomorrow’s Kin comes across as fully rigorous as anything in a more traditional “hard” science fiction novel. Kress does not engage in interminable info dumping. I read Tomorrow’s Kin not long after finishing the latest Charles Stross novel, Dark State (my review). There is no real point of comparison between the two novels, except that I generally love the ideas that Stross plays with and wish he did a better job at actually telling the story. That generally isn’t the case with Nancy Kress. She is a far more accomplished writer and is far smoother with her storytelling. Kress’s ideas are just as big and just as bold, but they are strongly integrated into the story.
(24) CATS STAR ON SFF. Moshe Feder has discovered the true identify of Number One!
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mark Hepworth, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Hampus Eckerman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]
(1) CELEBRATING A HALF CENTURY OF BRITISH COMICS FANDOM. Rob Hansen also sent a link to Blimey! The Blog of British Comics where you can get a free download of Fanscene, “a monster (300+ page) one-off fanzine done to celebrate 50 years of comics fandom in the UK.”
It’s only available in .pdf form and download links can be found here: “Celebrate the 50th anniversary of UK fandom with FANSCENE!”
Rob Hansen’s piece starts on p.133 in part 2 of the download links.
(2) CAST A GIANT SHADOW. The members of the actual 2018 Arthur C. Clarke Award jury are:
Dave Hutchinson, Gaie Sebold, Paul March-Russell, Kari Maund, Charles Christian; and Andrew M. Butler (chair)
(3) BADLY MISUNDERSTOOD. Cara Michelle Smith explains “Just Because Voldemort Assembled an Army of Warlocks to Destroy All Muggles, It Doesn’t Mean He’s ‘Anti-Muggle’” at McSweeney’s.
Look, I know how things might seem. When it comes to being sensitive to Muggles, Lord Voldemort doesn’t have the best track record, and now he’s gone and mobilized an army of 3,000 warlocks, witches, and wizards and instructed them to destroy any and all Muggles they can find. I also acknowledge that he’s drummed up a fair amount of anti-Muggle sentiment throughout the wizarding world, with the way he’s referred to them as “filthy vermin” and “shitheads from shithole lands.” But did it ever occur to you that despite the Dark Lord having vowed that the streets will soon run red with Muggle blood, Voldemort might as well be, like, the least anti-Muggle guy you’ve ever met?
Let me tell you a little something about the Dark Lord: He loves Muggles. Seriously, the guy’s obsessed with them. They’re all he talks about. He can’t get enough of the funny way Muggles are always babbling about things that are completely foreign to wizards like him — things like student debt, and being able to afford healthcare, and not being systematically murdered by people more powerful than them.
(4) STOP IN THE NAME OF LOVE. And McSweeney’s contribute Drake Duffer offers a list of “Things That Begin a Sentence That Indicate You May Need to Refrain From Finishing That Sentence”.
I won’t steal any of his thunder, but you’re going recognize all his examples.
(5) JUNIOR STAR TREK. This video has been on YouTube since 2008, however, it’s news to me!
Back in 1969 ten-year-old Peter (“Stoney”) Emshwiller created his own version of a Star Trek episode using his dad’s 16mm camera. The, um, fabulous special effects were created by scratching on the film with a knife and coloring each frame with magic markers. The movie won WNET’s “Young People’s Filmmaking Contest,” was shown on national television, and, all these years later, still is a favorite at Star Trek Conventions.
(6) GOING DOWN TO STONY END. The “Oldest Modern Human Fossil Ever Discovered Outside Africa Rewrites Timeline of Early Migration” reports Newsweek.
An international research team working in Israel has discovered the oldest-known modern human bones ever found outside the African continent: an upper jawbone, including teeth, dated to between 175,000 and 200,000 years old. It shows humans left Africa at least 50,000 years earlier than we had thought.
The scientists unearthed the fossil at Misliya Cave, one in a series of prehistoric caves on Israel’s Mount Carmel, according to a Binghamton University press release. This region of the Middle East was a major migration route when humans spread out from African during the Pleistocene. A paper describing the findings was published in the journal Science.
“Misliya is an exciting discovery,” co-author Rolf Quam, an anthropology professor at Binghamton University, said in the press release. “It provides the clearest evidence yet that our ancestors first migrated out of Africa much earlier than we previously believed. It also means that modern humans were potentially meeting and interacting during a longer period of time with other archaic human groups, providing more opportunity for cultural and biological exchanges.”
(7) CORRECTION. Rob Hansen sent a correction about the date of Ron Ellik’s death: “I’ve subsequently been informed I got the date of his death wrong and that he died not on the 25th but on the 27th. sigh”
Andrew Porter also sent a link to Fanac.org’s scan of his 1968 newzine SF Weekly #215 with complete coverage. Ellik was killed in an auto accident in Wisconsin while moving to St. Paul, MN. He had been planning to be married shortly after the move.
(8) HARRIS OBIT. Mark Evanier paid tribute to the late comics editor in “Bill Harris R.I.P.” at News From ME.
Comic book writer-editor Bill Harris died January 8 at the age of 84.
…One of his innovations when he was in comics was that he was one of the first editors to recognize that there was a promotional value in comic book fanzines. Many of the early zines of the sixties featured letters from Bill, telling fandom what would be forthcoming in the comics he edited. Few others in comics at the time saw any value in that but Harris predicted correctly the growing impact that fanzines and comic conventions would have on the field.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Chip Hitchcock found a medical examiner working in a fairy tale in today’s Bizarro.
- Chip also spotted a hero who’s made a career change in Bliss.
- Mike Kennedy saw a kind of Fountain of Youth in Baldo.
(10) WORD. Vox.com has a post “Remembering Ursula Le Guin, Queen of Sass”:
And in 2016, More Letters of Note, Shaun Usher’s most recent collection of important letters written by important people, unearthed another classic Le Guin smackdown. In 1971 she was asked to blurb Synergy: New Science Fiction, Volume 1, the first of a four-volume anthology series that aimed to publish “the most innovative, thought-provoking, speculative fiction ever.” Le Guin was less than amused by the request:
Dear Mr Radziewicz,
I can imagine myself blurbing a book in which Brian Aldiss, predictably, sneers at my work, because then I could preen myself on my magnanimity. But I cannot imagine myself blurbing a book, the first of a new series and hence presumably exemplary of the series, which not only contains no writing by women, but the tone of which is so self-contentedly, exclusively male, like a club, or a locker room. That would not be magnanimity, but foolishness. Gentlemen, I just don’t belong here.
Ursula K. Le Guin
(11) DENIAL. JDA cannot allow himself to believe that his behavior rather than his politics provokes the criticism directed his way, and so, after Jennifer Brozek spoke out about him (some quoted in yesterday’s Scroll) he blamed others for pressuring her to express those opinions: “How Terrible Gossip Destroys Friendships – My Story With Jennifer Brozek” [link to copy at the Internet Archive.]
(12) APING APES. Scientists in China successfully cloned monkeys, which is the first time primates have been cloned — “Scientists successfully clone monkeys; are humans up next?” Remember Mark Twain’s story about why God created the monkey – “He found out where he went wrong with Man.”
The Associated Press also did a video report:
For the first time, researchers have used the cloning method that produced Dolly the sheep to create two healthy monkeys, bringing science an important step closer to being able to do the same with humans.
From New Scientist — “Scientists have cloned monkeys and it could help treat cancer”.
The female long-tailed macaques represent a technical milestone. It should make it possible to create customisable and genetically uniform populations of monkeys, which could speed up treatments for diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and cancer. But the breakthrough will inevitably raise fears that human cloning is closer than ever.
The monkeys hold such huge potential because they all inherit exactly the same genetic material, says the Chinese team that cloned them.
This would enable scientists to tweak genes the monkeys have that are linked to human disease, and then monitor how this alters the animals’ biology, comparing it against animals that are genetically identical except for the alterations. It could accelerate the hunt for genes and processes that go wrong in these diseases, and ways to correct them, the team says
Kendall sent these links with a comment: “Reading elsewhere about how some fruits and veggies have been quasi-ruined by doing this, I got a little nervous reading the New Scientist say, ‘It should make it possible to create customisable and genetically uniform populations of monkeys, which could speed up treatments for diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and cancer.’ Even though they’re not talking about replacing the world’s monkeys with one strain of monkey. Still, this got a little dystopian-animal-cloning idea whirring around in my head.”
(13) HARDER THEY FALL. Here is the I Kill Giants trailer.
From the acclaimed graphic novel comes an epic adventure about a world beyond imagination. Teen Barbara Thorson (Madison Wolfe, The Conjuring 2) is the only thing that stands between terrible giants and the destruction of her small town. But as she boldly confronts her fears in increasingly dangerous ways, her new school counselor (Zoe Saldana, Guardians of the Galaxy) leads her to question everything she’s always believed to be true. I Kill Giants is an intense, touching story about trust, courage and love from the producers that brought you Harry Potter.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Kendall, Rob Hansen, Carl Slaughter, JJ, Will R., and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]
(1) WORLDCON 76 MEMBERSHIPS SPONSORED FOR MEXICANX FANS, CREATORS. Artist John Picacio, a Worldcon 76 guest of honor, and John Scalzi, are funding four memberships —
GOOD NEWS: As Artist GoH of @worldcon2018, I'm pleased to share that this Monday, January 29th I'll be awarding a Worldcon attending membership to four #Mexicanx. Hugo Award-winning author / International Badass @scalzi and I are each sponsoring two. 1/6 pic.twitter.com/w8mIlEaTCI
— John Picacio (@JohnPicacio) January 25, 2018
Two #Mexicanx professional sf/f artists or writers AND two Mexicanx sf/f fans will each receive a membership. Who decides the recipients? ME. Mr. Scalzi says I should make the decisions, and so I will. 🙂 2/6
— John Picacio (@JohnPicacio) January 25, 2018
Want to be considered? Post a reply here or email me. Answer this: "Why do you want to attend this Worldcon?" I'll review your submissions and make my decisions. Don't craft an epic, but just make it you. Make it from the heart. 3/6
— John Picacio (@JohnPicacio) January 25, 2018
Fair warning: in some cases, it may be necessary to have a followup phone chat this weekend. Maybe, maybe not….we'll see how this goes. This business, this field, this life is about relationships. It's about your stories and your dreams. 4/6
— John Picacio (@JohnPicacio) January 25, 2018
I'm doing this because our world needs more #Mexicanx stories, more #Mexicanx sf/f pros and fans, and more #DREAMers. To own our future, we *must* own our narratives, lest we continue to be villainized, abused, and butchered. 5/6
— John Picacio (@JohnPicacio) January 25, 2018
— John Picacio (@JohnPicacio) January 25, 2018
John Scalzi, who will fund a pair of the memberships, also publicized the announcement on Whatever: “John Picacio Offering Worldcon Memberships to Mexicanx Fans and Creators”.
(2) COMMEMORATION. Naomi Novik was asked by the New York Times to write an appreciation of Ursula K. LeGuin. She responded with a poem — “For Ursula” – which begins:
I want to tell you something true
Because that’s what she did.
I want to take you down a road she built, only I don’t want to follow it to the end.
I want to step off the edge and go into the underbrush
Clearing another way, because that’s also what she taught
Not how to repave her road but how to lay another
Even if it meant the grass came through the cracks of the pavement, and the thicket ate it up.
(3) DID YOU REMEMBER? Philip K. Dick and Ursula K. Le Guin were at Berkeley High School at the same time in 1947. However, it spoils the story to add that they didn’t know each other…. See “When Ursula K. Le Guin & Philip K. Dick Went to High School Together” at Open Culture from 2016.
(4) OF ACE BOOPS. Doctor Strangemind’s Kim Huett draws this great anecdote from the pages of a classic Australian fanzine — “Ursula Le Guin & Her Elusive Hugo!”.
And now for my favourite Ursula Le Guin letter, one which highlights the two things I like best in an author, a lack of pretentiousness and a sense of humour. The following letter appeared in Philosophical Gas #2, published by John Bangsund in October 1970. The Hugo in question was awarded to Ursula for The Left Hand of Darkness at Heicon ’70, the worldcon held in Heidelberg, Germany in August of 1970. I assume the rocket was accepted on Ursula’s behalf by Terry Carr of Ace Books (which would explain a lot).
(5) SFWA AFFIRMED. Jennifer Brozek on “SFWA and its Community”:
Last night, I went to the SFWA Reading to see my friends Josh Vogt, Greg Bear, and Tod McCoy read. I realized something: I’d missed my SFWA community. These are people I only see at conventions and SFWA events. I’d been so busy with my own stuff lately, and needed some distance from the organization after I stepped down as a Director-At-Large, that I’d pulled away too much. That was the wrong approach, but I suppose it was one I needed at the time.
It’s hard to express just how good it feels to be in a room full of like-minded people who all understand why losing one of the greats like Ursula K. Le Guin is such a tragedy or why naming Peter S. Beagle as SFWA’s newest Grand Master is such a joy. So many of the people I met up with last night are at various points in their writing careers. It was like looking at my past, present, and future writing self. They all understood the language of the writing professional and the publishing industry. It felt like coming home. It felt like family.
Recently, SFWA has had to deal with some tough issues. All of them center around protecting its membership at large. I know, intimately, what they’ve been going through—all the time spent, the discussions had, the decisions made—and I’m proud of the Board. I think, with the evidence they had on hand, they did the only thing they could do to protect the SFWA organization and the community they’ve built.
(6) MORE ON COMMUNITY. SFWA President Cat Rambo tweeted —
I logged on this morning to find out Sarah Craft made a point of making that first thread in there a celebration of Ursula K. LeGuin, and it's so sweet that I finally let myself cry about this terrible loss.
— ?RainbowRiotRambo? (@Catrambo) January 24, 2018
(7) RETURN OF THE SHADOW CLARKE JURY. CSFF Anglia has empaneled a new Shadow Clarke Jury for 2018 — Gary K. Wolfe, Alasdair Stuart, Maureen Kincaid Speller, Nick Hubble, Samira Nadkarni, and Foz Meadows. (Speller and Hubble are the only returning Sharkes.)
Dr. Helen Marshall, General Director of the Centre for Science Fiction and Fantasy says in “And Now for a Word from our Hosts” —
The Arthur C. Clarke Award has long been an excellent point of reference for taking stock of the changes in the field. It has a deliberately loose mandate to identify the “best” science fiction book of the year, acknowledging that the definition of “best” must be decided by a changing pool of jurors on an annual basis. The Clarke shortlist and the eventual winner showcase the work that has been done in the field, providing an intriguing snapshot of a field in flux. Since its inception the award has been at the heart of a robust critical discussion which interrogates the centre of the genre, its heartland, as well as the margins, where the genre pushes outward. This is why we’ve chosen the Clarke Award submissions list as a starting point for our discussions, and why we return to their shortlist in our discussions.
…What a shadow jury might do, then, is bring these debates into sharper focus. We believe the criticism is valuable, and that detailed, provocative, and respectful criticism enhances our understanding of the text and the cultures which produced it. This form of criticism is not intended to serve the needs of marketers or publicists but those of readers and writers. It aims not only to make visible but also to illuminate and contextualise.
Shadow Clarke juror Maureen Kincaid Speller’s manifesto for the return engagement, “You’re Never Alone with a Critic – Shadowing the Clarke Award, 2018”, says in part —
Here’s the thing – a critic’s job is not to provide plot synopses, nor is it to tell you whether or not you’ll like a novel. It is definitely not a critic’s job to act as an unpaid publicity agent. A critic’s job is to look at the fiction itself, and to have a view about it. Critics write about all sorts of things. They think about where a text sits in relation to other works of sf, they explore themes, tease out aesthetic similarities and differences; they consider what a novel says about the world at large, and, yes, they make judgement based on their experience as informed readers. Which is, if you think about it, exactly the same kind of work as that carried out by an award jury.
Which makes it all the more puzzling that criticism per se has become so frowned upon in the last few years. Is it just that people don’t want to admit this is what is going on behind the scenes? Is it because the word ‘criticism’ carries two meanings, one analytical, the other disapproving? We couldn’t tell but we were fascinated by this pushback against the Shadow Clarke project and decided we needed to explore it further. So, we have decided to run the project for a second year, and this time, rather than simply focusing on the Clarke Award, we’re taking the opportunity to use the shortlisting process as a springboard to exploring the business of criticism more broadly, because we continue to believe that critical analysis has a vital role to play when it comes to talking about science fiction.
(8) STRONG ATTACHMENT. Live Science reports the discovery of a “1.7-Billion-Year-Old Chunk of North America Found Sticking to Australia”.
Geologists matching rocks from opposite sides of the globe have found that part of Australia was once attached to North America 1.7 billion years ago.
Researchers from Curtin University in Australia examined rocks from the Georgetown region of northern Queensland. The rocks — sandstone sedimentary rocks that formed in a shallow sea — had signatures that were unknown in Australia but strongly resembled rocks that can be seen in present-day Canada.
Will this open the way for an Aussie Worldcon with adjacent NASFiC?
(9) WHO IS COMING. LA’s premiere Doctor Who convention takes place in three weeks, and the program has been posted: “Gallifrey One 2018 Schedule of Events Now Online”.
With great pleasure, Gallifrey One today is proud to announce the release of our Schedule of Events for our upcoming convention, The 29 Voyages of Gallifrey One in February. As in prior years, we are using the Sched online scheduling system for a seamless and easy-to-navigate program that can be used on your desktop or mobile device….
Full Screen (General Purpose) version
Fully viewable version, with custom views of events, searchable, plus panelist and guest listings
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY
- January 24, 1984 — Apple Computer, Inc. introduced the Macintosh personal computer.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- Cat Eldridge read the “Hawaii” installment of xkcd and sent the link, explaining “And no I don’t remember new passwords which is why this one was cutting for me.”
- John King Tarpinian saw Ziggy is worried about an overheard conversation.
(12) RON ELLIK AND THE RONVENTION (1962). Although I never met LASFS member Ron Ellik, who died before I ever joined the club, he was a well-known newzine editor (Starspinkle) and influence on Bruce Pelz, who kept his friend’s name alive in the title of his annual wine and cheese party that I attended for years. Now Rob Hansen gives us new reasons to remember him —
This year’s Eastercon is being held in Harrogate for the first time in more than half a century. Known as the RONVENTION, that earlier one was organised by Ron Bennett and attended by TAFF-winner Ron Ellik, hence the name. At the January first-Thursday pub meeting here in London, Eastercon committee and staff persons Mark Plummer and Caroline Mullan asked me if I could add a section on the RONVENTION to my website that they could link to. Since this was one of those I’d always intended to get around to I was happy to oblige. I drew mainly from conreports by James White and the two Rons when putting it together: “Ronvention, the 1962 Eastercon”.
I’m uploading this earlier than originally intended because of something I realised after I started work on it, namely that tomorrow, 25th January, is the fiftieth anniversary of Ron Ellik’s death at the tragically young age of 30. So I’m publishing it today in memory of him.
Weird to think that when Ron died, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were still alive, the Beatles were still together, and astronauts had yet to leave Earth orbit and strike out for the moon.
(13) OSCAR ISSUE. The Washington Post’s Cindy Boren, in “Kobe Bryant’s Oscar nod rings awkward in a year Hollywood is hyper-focused on sexual assault”, says Dear Basketball, an Oscar nominee for Best Animated Short Film, may be in trouble because, despite its John Williams score and Glen Keane animation, it features Kobe Bryant, who settled a sexual assault case in 2003 for a substantial sum in an out-of-court settlement.
(14) WOEBEGONE. The MPR News (Minnesota Public Radio) post “Investigation: For some who lived in it, Keillor’s world wasn’t funny” has more information on the firing of Garrison Keillor. Several incidents are described at the link.
For weeks, Minnesota Public Radio refused MPR News’ repeated requests to comment on the company’s separation from Keillor. But as negotiations with Keillor’s company stalled and pressure from news organizations mounted, Jon McTaggart, president and CEO of MPR and American Public Media Group, broke his silence.
In an interview with MPR News Tuesday afternoon, he said the company’s separation of business interests from Keillor came after it received allegations of “dozens” of sexually inappropriate incidents involving Keillor and a woman who worked for him on A Prairie Home Companion. He said the allegations included requests for sexual contact and descriptions of unwanted sexual touching.
McTaggart, who after the interview with MPR News sent an email to MPR listeners and members further explaining the separation from Keillor, says cutting Keillor off was the most painful decision he’s made as CEO. But in-house and external investigations into the matter bore details he could not ignore.
“When we reached a point that from all sources we had sufficient confidence in facts that really required us to act, we took the action we did,” he said. “It was the right thing to do. It was the necessary thing to do, and we stand by it.”
Since the firing, Prairie Home Companion has been renamed Live From Here.
(15) WHAT FATE. Charles McNulty ponders “As artists fall into disgrace, must their art be consigned to oblivion?” at the Los Angeles Times.
The cavalier way men have systemically abused their power over women in and around the workplace warrants little leniency. But a more slippery question has emerged in this me-too moment of cultural reckoning: What to do with the works of artists whose conduct has been abhorrent?
In the growing gallery of alleged predators, there aren’t any artists I hold dear. James Toback’s films aren’t in my Netflix queue. I never mistook Kevin Spacey for one of the greats. And my admiration for James Levine’s conducting has been mostly of the dilettantish variety.
But inevitably a contemporary artist with whom I feel a special kinship will shatter my illusions about his or her character. I doubt that I will throw away the books or delete the recordings or swear off the films. I’m sure I’ll be disillusioned and quite possibly disgusted, but I know that an artist is not identical with his or her masterpieces and that few human beings can live up to their greatest achievements.
This is a theme that Marcel Proust returns to in his epic novel, “In Search of Lost Time” (more romantically known in English as “Remembrance of Things Past”). The narrator recalls a dinner party in which, as a young man, he meets his hero, the writer Bergotte. The young Marcel, intimidated to be seated among the important guests of the swanky Swanns, is struck immediately by the way Bergotte bears no physical resemblance to the man he had “slowly and painstakingly constructed … a drop at a time, like a stalactite, out of the limpid beauty of his books.”
More distressing to Marcel than Bergotte’s coarse appearance is “the busy and self-satisfied mentality … which had nothing in common with the type of mind that informed the books.” The narrator, a natural philosopher, begins to understand through this encounter that art is not contingent on the specific circumstances of an artist’s life.
(16) SF HISTORY. Michael Dirda, in “An expert’s guide to science fiction’s greatest — and neglected — works”, reviews the companion volume to A Conversation larger than the Universe, an exhibit on view at The Grolier Club in New York City from January 25 through March 10 (see the January 19 Pixel Scroll, item 7).
Being well-read both inside and outside the genre, Wessells contends that the first major work of alternate history was a 1931 collection of essays, edited by J.C. Squire, titled “If It Had Happened Otherwise.” Its fanciful “lapses into imaginary history” include “If Lee Had Not Won the Battle of Gettysburg,” by none other than Winston Churchill. Wessells also lingers over one of the most chilling dystopian novels of the 20th century, “Swastika Night,” written by Katharine Burdekin under the pen name Murray Constantine. Drafted in 1936 and published in 1937, it projects a Nazified far-future Europe where Hitler is worshiped as an Aryan god and women are kept in pens as breeding animals. (For more about this remarkable book, I recommend Daphne Patai’s excellent Feminist Press edition or the Gollancz SF Masterworks paperback, for which I wrote a short introduction.)
(17) A COMFORTING DOOM. Jill Lepore’s “A Golden Age for Dystopian Fiction” in the June 5-12 New Yorker last summer, is an essay-review of several dystopian novels, including Cory Doctorow’s Walkaway and Ben H. Winters’s Underground Airlines. Martin Morse Wooster flagged up its quotable last paragraph:
Dystopia used to be a fiction of resistance; it’s become a fiction of submission, the fiction of an untrusting, lonely, and sullen twenty-first century, the fiction of fake news and infowars, the fiction of helplessness and hopelessness. It cannot imagine a better future, and it doesn’t ask anyone to bother to make one. It nurses grievances and indulges resentments; it doesn’t call for courage; it finds that cowardice suffices. Its only admonition is: Despair more. It appeals to both the left and the right, because, in the end, it requires so little by way of literary, political, or moral imagination, asking only that you enjoy the company of people whose fear of the future aligns comfortably with your own. Left or right, the radical pessimism of an unremitting dystopianism has itself contributed to the unravelling ot the liberal state and the weakening of a commitment to political pluralism. ‘This isn’t a story about war,’ (Omar) El Akkad writes in American War. ‘It’s about ruin.’ A story about ruin can be beautiful. Wreckage is romantic. But a politics of ruin is doomed.
(18) UP IN THE AIR. Maybe we’ll get them after all? “Degree in ‘flying car’ engineering offered online”.
The online course is being offered by Silicon Valley e-learning school Udacity and will begin in February.
It is the brainchild of former Stanford University professor Sebastian Thrun, who previously headed up Google’s self-driving car project, Waymo.
Prof Thrun is hoping to attract at least 10,000 applicants to what he is describing as a “nanodegree”.
A nanodegree, according to Udacity’s website, is an online certification that can be earned in six to 12 months, and aims to teach basic programming skills in various disciplines.
…Previously Udacity has offered a self-driving car course, which has attracted 50,000 applicants since 2016.
(19) KIDS PUT IT TOGETHER. “K’Nex builds toys rollercoaster you can ride in VR”. (Video) A little like those model railroad trains with the tiny camera on the front – only a lot faster.
Toy-maker K’Nex has designed a toy rollercoaster kit that children can assemble and then “ride” by wearing a virtual reality headset.
The BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones tried it out at the Toy Fair 2018 exhibition in London.
(20) VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA. BBC reports “A submersible mission in Antarctic waters has revealed unique ecosystems so rare they deserve special protection, say scientists.” — “Antarctica’s Weddell Sea ‘deserves protected status'”.
The seabed investigation, co-ordinated by the campaign group Greenpeace, will help build the case for the creation of the world’s largest wildlife sanctuary.
Covering 1.8 million sq km, the marine reserve will be considered by Antarctic nations at a conference in October.
It would ban all fishing in a large part of the Weddell Sea.
… Along with the smaller creatures that live on the seafloor, the reserve would bring additional protection to larger animals such as leopard seals, orcas, humpback whales and penguins.
(21) WETTER RESISTANCE. The BBC’s Nicholas Barber argues “Why ‘The Shape of Water’ is the most relevant film of the year”.
All things considered, the savvy choice for best picture might be Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water, which has been nominated in a whopping 13 different categories. Admittedly, it’s yet another film with a male director, but it does have a female co-writer, Vanessa Taylor, and a female lead, Sally Hawkins, and it passes the Bechdel Test within minutes. If that weren’t enough, it has major black and gay characters, as well as a South American immigrant; true, he’s a half-human, half-newt South American immigrant, but that’s not the point. More diverse and inclusive than any of the other best picture nominees, the film doesn’t just rail against sexism, racism and homophobia, it argues that they are all symptoms of the same patriarchal disease – a disease which all voiceless and oppressed people should defeat together. In short, The Shape of Water is a lot more militant than the average magic-realist fable about a woman who fancies a fish-monster. What’s more, it’s even more topical now than when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival last August.
(22) WORKSHOP WISDOM. Cynthia Felice shared “Five things I learned at Clarion”. The first is:
- Writers who write naked or wearing only a fedora do not write any better than a writer who is fully dressed.
(23) TRAILER PARK TRASH. Cnet doesn’t want you to miss it — “Quentin Tarantino’s Star Trek gets a trashy parody trailer”.
Ever since news emerged that Quentin Tarantino, famous for films like “Pulp Fiction” and “Kill Bill,” had pitched a great idea for a Star Trek movie to film studio Paramount, we’ve been wondering what Tarantino Trek might look like.
We now have one possible answer in the form of “Star Trek: Voyage to Vengeance,” a fake trailer made up of moments from the original series.
The video comes from Nerdist and features a laundry list of some of the original series’ most cringe-worthy moments, including the space hippies and almost everyone Captain Kirk ever kissed.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Mark Hepworth, ULTRAGOTHA, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael J. Walsh, Carl Slaughter, Daniel Dern, David K.M. Klaus, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]
(1) CLASSIC KETTLE. True Rat: The Beast of Leroy Kettle collects and preserves the humorous writing of British fan Leroy Kettle. Edited by Rob Hansen, it’s available as a free download in the usual ebook formats plus PDF from Ansible Editions. Over 105,000 words.
Every issue of True Rat is included, plus much more comic autobiography and articles, speeches and scurrilous gossip columns published elsewhere. Only a very few passages that seemed almost funny in the 1970s are here omitted to protect the guilty (Leroy Kettle).
One included item is the transcript of a live interview with our hero by Simone Walsh – with audience participation – at Skycon, the 1978 UK Eastercon. Rob Hansen strongly recommends the audio version, available as an MP3 download from this linked page on his site.
(2) BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. Wil Wheaton remembers his friend Stepto in a touching tribute, “who lives who dies who tells your story”. The excerpt comes from his remarks at the memorial. He follows them with a powerful and poetic vision.
“I want to tell you about the time Stepto and I had cigars in the Caribbean,” I say, “I want to tell you about how he saved my Xbox for me, about how he made me laugh and how much I miss him in my life.” I think, but don’t say, that I want to talk about how sad and angry I am that Stepto successfully kept his alcoholism a secret from me, and from everyone who was closest to him, for the more than ten years we were friends. I want to talk about how angry I am that he got a second chance, when he survived a coma last year. I want to say a lot of swears, because he convinced himself and me that it wasn’t alcohol that put him into a coma, but some kind of genetic thing and a virus and something else that was a bunch of bullshit. But I am coming up on two years of an alcohol-free life, myself, and even though I’m not an alcoholic, and even though I don’t do any recovery programs, I do know that addiction is powerful and all consuming. I know that it’s incredibly easy to convince yourself that you’ve got it under control, and that the rationalizations and justifications come as easily as opening another bottle after adding an empty one to the lie. Huh. I was going to write “line”, but my fingers made the first typo I think I’ve ever made that was more apt than what I intended. I want to be angry, but I can’t be. Stepto was sick, and he couldn’t get well, so he died. But while he was here, he was a good friend, and a magnificent human being. The world is better because he was in it, and the sun is not as warm or as bright as it was, now that he is gone.
(3) BOMBCON. Fanhistorian Rob Hansen has added the story of “Bombcon” (1941) to his THEN website. It happened in London during WWII. He’s assembled the text of two conreports plus supporting photos.
England’s biggest fan reunion for the last year was held over the weekend, September 20/21, when in spite of the manifold difficulties attending such a proposition – far in excess of anything the US fans encounter – a muster of some 14 was managed. At Saturday lunch time a party gathered to welcome Maurice Hanson, ex-editor of “Novae Terrae” who had wangled leave from Somerset. After some bookhunting in Charing X Road, the party saw the film “Fantasia”.
On Sunday, a crowd assembled in Liverpool St. stn. waiting room, and proceeded to convert it, in the approved manner of fan meetings, into a magazine mart. We rolled on to Holborn to meet author John Beynon Harris, nearly got arrested for taking photos of the gang, had tea, & held London’s first open air meeting of fans, in Lincoln’s Inn Fields….
(4) MEANING OF DECLINING NUMBERS OF STARS. John Scalzi’s “Four Views of the Same Short Story” uses reviews of his newly-published short story as the basis for an essay about how different readers perceive the same story differently and what authors should do about that.
…The text of the story is the same regardless of who reads it, but the experience of reading it is unique to the person reading.
This is a very important thing for writers (especially newer writers) to learn and build into their worldview: That everyone’s experience of your work, and any reviews they might then write, are inherently subjective, dependent on the person writing them, and there is nothing in the world you can do about that. That’s just the nature of putting work out into the world. Your job is to write the story as well as you can, and not worry overly much how it will be received. Because, as you can see above, it will be received well, and poorly, and everywhere inbetween.
And yes, learning to be okay with the fact everyone won’t love what you wrote is hard, because everyone has an ego, and everyone likes the validation of people enjoying their work…
(5) JOHN CARTER IS ALIVE! ALIVE! I09, in “John Carter Of Mars Is Getting an Action-Packed Romance RPG”, says –
Disney might have soured a few people on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic scifi saga, but John Carter and the world of Barsoom, Mars have been reborn with a new roleplaying game….
Modiphius Entertainment has announced its latest tabletop game, John Carter of Mars: Adventures on the Dying World of Barsoom. Working in cooperation with Burroughs’ estate, the pulp-action RPG lets players take on iconic roles like John Carter, Dejah Thoris, and Tars Tarkas (or a made-up character) “as they travel, battle, and romance their way across the wondrous and dangerous world known to its natives as Barsoom.” John Carter of Mars launched today on Kickstarter, and it’s already nearly tripled its fundraising goal.
The John Carter of Mars game rules are available on the Kickstarter page.
(6) COMICS SECTION.
- John King Tarpinian liked Bizarro’s take on the Bard of Avon.
- Tarpinian also recommends The Argyle Sweater, where they serve up some Transformer humor.
- And I’m personally a fan of this cat joke at Bizarro.
(7) TRANSFORMATIVE WORK. The Washington Post’s John Kelly looks at the cheesy 1973 horror film Werewolf of Washington which he thinks has resonances with contemporary politics — “What a howl: Here’s the background story to ‘The Werewolf of Washington’”.
A few years later, one of that film’s producers asked Ginsberg whether he had anything else up his sleeve. As scandal was starting to engulf the Nixon White House — but before Watergate had exploded — Ginsberg went to New York’s Fire Island and in 10 days wrote “The Werewolf of Washington.”
Said Ginsberg: “I came back and the [producer] said, ‘Are you out of your mind? This is an attack on the president. The script is yours. Don’t ever show up here again.’?”
Another producer and some of Ginsberg’s friends stepped in to fund the movie, shot on a shoestring budget of $100,000. Somehow, they were able to get veteran actor [Dean] Stockwell to star. His career, Ginsberg said, “had fallen into eclipse at that time. He loved the script.”
(8) GAME CHANGER. NPR discusses “Fighting Bias With Board Games” — like Buffalo.
This is where Buffalo — a card game designed by Dartmouth College’s Tiltfactor Lab — comes in. The rules are simple. You start with two decks of cards. One deck contains adjectives like Chinese, tall or enigmatic; the other contains nouns like wizard or dancer.
Draw one card from each deck, and place them face up. And then all the players race to shout out a real person or fictional character who fits the description….
It’s the sort of game you’d pull out at dinner parties when the conversation lulls. But the game’s creators says it’s good for something else — reducing prejudice. By forcing players to think of people that buck stereotypes, Buffalo subliminally challenges those stereotypes.
“So it starts to work on a conscious level of reminding us that we don’t really know a lot of things we might want to know about the world around us,” explains Mary Flanagan, who leads Dartmouth College’s Tiltfactor Lab, which makes games designed for social change and studies their effects.
Buffalo might nudge us to get better acquainted with the work of female physicists, “but it also unconsciously starts to open up stereotypical patterns in the way we think,” Flanagan says.
In one of many tests she conducted, Flanagan rounded up about 200 college students and assigned half to play Buffalo. After one game, the Buffalo players were slightly more likely than their peers to strongly agree with statements like, “There is potential for good and evil in all of us,” and, “I can see myself fitting into many groups.”
(9) ALL GOOD THINGS. “End signalled for European Ariane 5 rocket” says the BBC — 82 straight successes, but Ariane 6 will be cheaper.
A final order for a batch of 10 Ariane 5 rockets has been raised.
The vehicle, which has been the mainstay of European launcher activity for the past 20 years, will be phased out once its successor is in place.
ArianeGroup, the French-led industrial consortium, expects its new Ariane 6 to be flying no later than mid-2020, and in full operational service in 2023.
At that point, Ariane 5 can be retired. The last order ensures sufficient rockets are available for the handover.
(10) BIGGER. How do you take away a crashed helicopter? With a bigger helicopter: “US Marines rescue their helicopter… with a bigger one” (video)
US Marines have rescued one of their helicopters after it made an emergency landing on a beach in Okinawa, Japan. The aircraft was airlifted back to base using an even bigger helicopter.
The US presence on Okinawa in southern Japan is a key part of the security alliance between the two countries. The base houses about 26,000 US troops.
(11) WITH FACTS UNCHECKED. It’s fascinating to see JDA start his post “I’m in Good Company” with the rhetorical fillip “I was wrong,” then grandiosely “correct” himself by citing more misinformation.
It turns out I was wrong in saying WorldCon made an unprecedented move in banning someone over politics. It has happened — one time before. Today on the blog we’re going to take you all the way back to 1939, where WorldCon was, like in this year, all too proud of blackballing someone over their dangerous visionary ideas for science fiction. A reader wrote to me:
The Futurians were kicked out of the first Worldcon because organizers feared that they would distribute communist propaganda. The group included a number of luminaries including Asimov and Pohl.
Because of their fear of not Asimov hurting anyone (no one fears me hurting anyone by the evidence of how I’ve conducted myself at dozens of conventions in the past) — but spreading political ideas that they found too dangerous for the times — WorldCon banned Isaac Asimov.
The implication is clear. The elites in science fiction believe I have the potential to be the next Asimov…
Asimov wasn’t kicked out of the first Worldcon. There are a lot of places you can learn who was (like this Fancyclopedia entry.) Asimov wasn’t one of them — a fact he himself referenced when speaking at “Science Fiction’s 50th Anniversary Family Reunion” in 1989 (Noreascon 3), where he sounded less embarrassed than proud that he had not been turned back at the door with the six other Futurians.
(12) WHAT’S A MAP? Meanwhile, blogger The Phantom, determined to force a connection between the Worldcon and James Damore’s lawsuit against Google, performs this geographic sleight-of-hand:
What does this have to do with WorldCon? Well, this year’s WorldCon and Hugo award ceremony will be held in San Francisco. That’s where Google’s headquarters is, and where all the computer nerds who work at Google live.
Of course, Google’s headquarters is in Mountain View, and the Worldcon is in San Jose. Neither is in San Francisco.
(13) KING KONG. Steve Vertlieb’s 2014 Rondo-nominated article ”A Triple Life: King Kong’s Trinity of Reincarnation on Film” is “A published celebration of the enduring legacy, and profound cultural significance of Merian C. Cooper’s immortal 1933 motion picture masterpiece, King Kong, as well as its numerous cinematic incarnations, influences, and tributes throughout the past eighty five years.”
KING KONG related the remarkable tale of a giant beast, an impossible ape-ike creature whose imposing, horrifying shadow would follow the intrepid explorers whose heroic exploits had led them to its discovery. Released by RKO Studios during the winter of 1933, the picture reunited Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong with Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack for yet another thrilling adventure in the lurid jungles of a primordial world. They were joined by Bruce Cabot in, perhaps, the pivotal performance of his career.
(14) ADVERTISING ART. Andrew Liptak at The Verge recommended a documentary about a very rare collection:
The Collection is a short documentary (via Kottke) by Adam Roffman that chronicles a unique piece of Hollywood history: tens of thousands of plates and blocks used to create the newspaper advertisements used for nearly every film that hit theaters before the 1980s.
…The collection includes blocks used for films as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, Star Wars, Planet Of The Apes, and many others.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]
(1) BACK TO THE PRESENT. Rob Hansen has added a preliminary version covering 1991-2000 UK zines to his British Fanzine Bibliography.
(2) GETTING THE BOMB EARLY. Gregory Benford discusses his latest book The Berlin Project with Scientific American in “An Alternate History of the Atomic Age”.
Tell me more about your research process, how you developed this.
I simply went in and read enormous amounts of known correspondence, mostly in the Manhattan Project. It took me four and a half years of work and writing, plus personally knowing most of the characters.
I found all sorts of amazing things — like a memo between Groves and Pres. Eisenhower, where Groves asked Eisenhower’s permission to deploy Geiger counters with every infantry battalion that made a landing at Normandy on D-day. I asked my father James Benford about that — he went into Normandy on the fifth day. He said he remembered them vaguely, and then I found in fact the Geiger counters stayed in the field for about a month before we realized the Germans were not going to use their uranium — of which they had over 150 tons — as essentially a pollutant, a crude terror weapon. But they certainly contemplated doing it — we know that.
The entire history of nuclear weapons is filled with scientists considering the future using science fiction as a prompt. As a scientist and an author of science fiction, I find that fascinating. The idea of using radioactive dust as a weapon came from a short story by Robert Heinlein: “Solution Unsatisfactory,” published in Astounding Science Fiction in 1941, which was about the strategic standoff that would occur from the development of nuclear weapons. But in Heinlein’s story the weapons aren’t explosives, they’re contaminants. That idea went through Astounding directly into the ears of the German rocket scientist Wernher Von Braun, who was still receiving and reading the magazine through a subscription he began in the 1930s via deliveries through the German embassy in Stockholm. He read about it and relayed it to Albert Speer, so the Nazi elite must have known of it as a weapon. The U.S. kept it secret because it occurred to them also, at the same time as Heinlein — in fact, some believe because of Heinlein. There are a bunch of now-declassified memos I have read about uranium as a contaminant, and I quote them in the book! All the memos, letters and so forth in the book are real. I didn’t make them up!
(3) FOR THE BIRDS. A science fiction writer with her own brand of coffee — Balzac’s Atwood Blend. There’s name recognition for you.
Balzac’s is delighted to partner with Canadian author and bird lover Margaret Atwood in creating a Smithsonian Institute certified Bird Friendly blend to help raise funds and awareness for Canada’s Pelee Island Bird Observatory (PIBO).
(4) WHAT COMES AFTER F. Fran Wilde will teach a workshop on “Cussin’ in Secondary Worlds”.
Cursewords, expletives, and more — those things your characters say when nothing else will do — tells you more about the world (including issues of class, cultural taboos, and more) than you might imagine. How cussing and worldbuilding interrelate. AKA the class where we say F*ck a lot.
Join Norton Award winning author Fran Wilde, author of Updraft, Cloudbound, and The Jewel and Her Lapidary for a workshop that will leave you ready to swear magnificently.
Classes are taught online via Google hangouts and require reliable Internet connection, although in the past participants have logged on from coffee shops, cafes, and even an airplane; a webcam is suggested but not required…
The workshop is happening Saturday, June 10, 9:30-11:30 AM Pacific Time. Click the link for further details, cost, and information about how to register.
(5) PINING FOR THE FJORDS? Once more real life outstrips science fiction — RockPaperShotgun reports “Many pet rabbits will die in Second Life on Saturday”.
Virtual rabbits across Second Life [official site] will fall asleep on Saturday then never wake up, now that the their digital food supply has been shut down by a legal battle. The player-made and player-sold Ozimals brand of digirabbits are virtual pets that players breed and care for in the sandbox MMO, and even need to feed by buying DRM-protected virtual food. But they rely on servers. Waypoint reported earlier today that the seller of Ozimals and the Pufflings virtuabirds has received a legal threat he says he cannot afford to fight, so they’ve shut down. By Saturday, rabbits will run out of food and enter hibernation.
The rabbits aren’t dead, they’re sleeping. They simply can never wake up.
The “breedables“ craze, which Ozimals played a big role in, may have peaked a while back but a lot of virtual animals still exist. Well, for now. If digirabbits can’t eat, they enter “hibernation’ after 72 hours and will only wake up when fed again. Ozimals need to check in with servers but these shut down on Wednesday, so no rabbits can be fed. Even players who’ve bought a big supply of food will find their rabbits, er, very still forever. I’ve read that some are already gone….
Sounds awful! But before you start thinking up five or six ways this tragedy could have been averted, the company already has:
Ozimals did give rabbit owners a brief chance to save their rabbits. Before shutting down, they gave away items which make rabbits not need food — and leaves them sterile. Some rabbits will live on forever, the last of their kind. If you wish that fate upon your rabbit, apparently some kindly players have a stash you’re welcome to.
(6) MORE SUPER TV. The CW has debuted the first trailer for Black Lightning.
(7) LISTEN UP. “On Star Trek: Discovery and Michelle Yeoh’s accent”: Swapna Krishna tells why a particular moment in the new Star Trek: Discovery trailer was so moving.
This article is about one specific moment in the trailer: when Michelle Yeoh’s character, Captain Philippa Georgiou, speaks for the first time.
“It’s hard to imagine you’ve served under me for seven years,” she tells First Officer Michael Burnham, played by the exquisite Sonequa Martin-Green, as they walk through a searing desert.
This line might seem innocuous, and it is. But that didn’t stop me from bursting into tears the second I heard Yeoh deliver the line. Why?
Because Michelle Yeoh kept her accent.
(8) TERMS OF COMPLIANCE. Gary Westfahl begins “Contractual Obligations: A Review of Alien: Covenant” with a reassurance and a warning.
In contemporary Hollywood, the announced information about a film often conveys an implied contract — a covenant, as it were — between filmgoers and filmmakers: if you buy a ticket to see this movie, you are guaranteed to experience certain desired forms of entertainment. Thus, a picture with the word “Alien” in its title, directed by Ridley Scott, promises potential viewers that they will observe numerous images of H. R. Giger’s iconic “xenomorphs” bursting out of human bodies and energetically attacking any person in their vicinity. And unquestionably, Alien: Covenant fulfills its contractual obligations: so, if you have been longing to watch scene after scene of lunging aliens latching on the faces of intended victims and gruesomely slaughtering every one of them, this film represents the answer to your prayers. The very open question is whether anyone without that fervent yearning will want to sit through two hours and three minutes of this otherwise lamentable movie.
(9) MORE SPOILERS. As Carl Slaughter phrases it:
Michael Fassbender versus Michael Fassbender:
If there’s anything better than an alien, it’s an android.
If there’s anything better than an android, it’s 2 androids.
If there’s anything better than 2 androids, it’s 2 identical looking androids.
If there’s anything better than 2 identical looking androids,
it’s 2 identical looking androids with opposite character.
Matthew Jacobs titles his review for HuffPo “An Ode To Michael Fassbender Seducing Michael Fassbender In ‘Alien: Covenant'”.
“Alien: Covenant“ has two Michael Fassbenders. Both are androids. They engage in existential disputes on a remote planet. They debate the poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley. One teaches the other to play a flute. More importantly, they kiss.
These two Michael Fassbenders form the hallmark of “Alien: Covenant,” the sixth installment in the 38-year-old “Alien” franchise. One Fassbender is the prototype David, returning from “Covenant” predecessor “Prometheus.” David’s devilish God-like tendencies have annexed the planet where the titular colony ship is investigating a rogue radio transmission. For his next trick, Fassbender plays Walter, a new-and-improved humanoid that takes care of the Covenant and strains to protect his crewmates from the extraterrestrial beasts David has cultivated.
(10) IT’S A WRAP. The movie arrives June 9, heralded by The Mummy – Official Trailer #3
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. And Paul Weimer, who always retweets the best stuff. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]
(1) 21ST CENTURY AIRPORT SECURITY. The Atlantic gives you an overview of the preparations, including a pair of anti-terrorism officials on-staff, at an airport with twice the police force of Pasadena — “Inside LAX’s New Anti-Terrorism Intelligence Unit”.
Today’s threats, whether terrorist or merely criminal, are increasingly networked and dispersed; it only makes sense that an institution’s response to them must take a similar form. It might sound like science fiction, but, in 20 years’ time, it could very well be that LAX has a stronger international-intelligence game than many U.S. allies. LAX field agents could be embedded overseas, cultivating informants, sussing out impending threats. It will be an era of infrastructural intelligence, when airfields, bridges, ports, and tunnels have, in effect, their own internal versions of the CIA—and LAX will be there first.
…[Stacey] Peel currently works in central London, where she is head of the “strategic aviation security” team at engineering super-firm Arup. She explained that every airport can be thought of as a miniature version of the city that hosts it. An airport thus concentrates, in one vulnerable place, many of the very things a terrorist is most likely to target. “The economic impact, the media imagery, the public anxiety, the mass casualties, the cultural symbolism,” Peel pointed out. “The aviation industry ticks all of those boxes.” Attack LAX and you symbolically attack the entirety of L.A., not to mention the nerve center of Western entertainment. It’s an infrastructural voodoo doll…
(2) OVER THE AIR. Bill Campbell of Rosarium Publishing was a guest today of Georgia Public Radio program On Second Thought, speaking about “The Women Who Pioneered Sci-Fi”. You can listen to the segment at the link.
A problem with some fantasy fiction narratives is the misogynistic treatment of female characters. The sci-fi world may still be very much dominated by men behind the scenes, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been female trailblazers. A new book explores some of those unsung heroines. It’s called “Sisters of Tomorrow: The First Women of Science Fiction.” We talked with the author, Georgia Tech professor Lisa Yaszek. We also spoke with Bill Campbell of Rosarium Publishing, which focuses on bringing more diversity to science fiction.
(3) TINY DANCER. Two-time Nebula winner Catherine Asaro is profiled in the Washingtonian: “She’s a Harvard PhD and Author of 26 Novels. She’ll Also Get Your Kids to Like Math”.
Washington’s suburbs are rich with overachieving kids and anxious parents, ambitious college goals and lengthy extracurricular commitments—and of course, supplementary-education programs and afterschool tutors. You can sign your kid up for soccer instruction by a women’s Premier League coach or for Lego robotics taught by engineering grad students. But even in this hothouse environment, Catherine Asaro stands out.
If math were a sport, she’d be its Morgan Wootten. For more than a decade, the brightest STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) prodigies in the area have taken classes from her in cinder-block-lined community rooms or cluttered spaces in her home. Her students have qualified for the USA Mathematical Olympiad and, in 2014, placed first and second at the University of Maryland High School Math Contest. In 2015, her team was named top program in the country by the Perennial Math Tournament. An entire wall in her living room is filled with trophies from MathCounts competitions. Asaro’s students have earned scholarships to the University of Maryland and attend places such as Stanford and MIT….
Asaro looks more like my image of a science-fiction writer than a math tutor—lots of rhinestones on her jeans and long-sleeved T-shirt; flowy dark hair; and a purring, confident voice that recalls another of her gigs: singing with a jazz band. On a living-room wall hangs a photo of her father, Frank Asaro, a Berkeley nuclear chemist who discovered the iridium anomaly that led to the asteroid theory of dinosaur extinction. Naturally, he also played classical piano. Asaro says that, like her dad, she started out more interested in music than in science, deciding to become a ballet dancer after seeing Swan Lake.
(4) PANELISTS FOR HELSINKI. The Worldcon 75 online signup for people wanting to be on the program is working again. The form will close on March 30th and Worldcon 75 will get back to everybody during March/April.
(5) WESTON SCHOLARSHIP. Steve Cooper announced there is a new Pete Weston Memorial Scholarship available to help fund someone attending Conrunner in the UK.
We were all saddened to hear of the death of Pete Weston last week. In his memory an anonymous donor is offering a scholarship to Conrunner to celebrate Pete’s contribution to convention running.
The scholarship will cover two nights accommodation and membership of Conrunner. It is open to anyone to apply – but if this is your first Conrunner – you will be given priority in the selection.
Please message me if you are interested or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
(6) ERIC FLINT UPDATE. The doctor had an encouraging word for Eric Flint.
I have some further news. My cancer has been further diagnosed as large diffuse B-Cell lymphona. That’s the most common type of cancer among adults, mostly hits older folks around 70 (my age) — my doctor calls it “the old fart’s disease” — and is about as white bread as lymphonas come. It responds very well to chemo, too.
So, it looks as if my luck is still holding out (allowing for “I’ve got cancer” values of luck.)
(7) BEWARE! Camestros Felapton understandably set his blog on autopilot and left town just before the unveiling of his new serial:
In the interim, starting Thursday morning Australian time will be the TWENTY-TWO PART serialisation of the annotated version of the early example of British genre fiction BEWARE THE CAT!
Each post has an introductory chatty bit which contains my mangled understanding of Tudor history, reformation theology and cat psychology, followed by a hefty chunk of my edited-for-readability-and-spelling version of Beware the Cat.
To cram it all in there will actually be several posts per day – so the blog will actually be busier than when I’m actually running it.
Indeed and verily, the first installment is now online.
I have written for your mastership’s pleasure one of the stories which Mr. Streamer told last Christmas – which you so would have heard reported by Mr Ferrers himself. Although I am unable to tell it as pleasantly as he could, I have nearly used both the order and words of him that spoke them. I doubt not that he and Mr. Willet shall in the reading think they hear Mr Streamer speak, and he himself shall doubt whether he speaks.
(8) REMEMBERING METROPOLIS. Den of Geek! writer Jim Knipfel discusses “Metropolis at 90: The Enduring Legacy of a Pop Modernist Dystopia”.
In an interview with Peter Bogdanovich shortly before his death in 1976, Fritz Lang said of Metropolis, “You cannot make a social-conscious picture in which you say that the intermediary between the hand and the brain is the heart. I mean, that’s a fairy tale – definitely. But I was very interested in machines. Anyway, I didn’t like the picture – thought it was silly and stupid – then, when I saw the astronauts: what else are they but part of a machine? It’s very hard to talk about pictures—should I say now that I like Metropolis because something I have seen in my imagination comes true, when I detested it after it was finished?”
(9) MAKING A POINT. Sarah A. Hoyt, in “Sad Puppies, Gate Keeping, And We DID Build this”, says what happened yesterday was not gate keeping, it was brand protecting. Which it was. But there’s a lot of haystack to go through before you get to the needle.
Even before I got to that post, and later in the other post that made me almost berserk again (I don’t think I’ve done this twice in one day since my teens) a friend had commented on how he gave the wrong impression and he should stop it already. Later on there were also posts on a bizarre theme, one of which (the comments) is what caused the second berserk attack.
The theme was like this: Sad Puppies said they were against gate keepers, but now they’re trying to be gatekeepers.
There are so many missteps in that statement it’s hard to unpack. First of all, no, Sad Puppies wasn’t against gatekeepers. Sad Puppies was against the secret maneuvering that went on behind the awards. (BTW it was never really a secret. When I was coming in, my mentors told me it was all log rolling and I had to roll the logs.) And which people denied until they stopped denying it, in favor of shrieking at us to get off their lawns, and making up horrible lies about us. (Unless, of course, you believe I’m a Mormon male.)
Second, in what way were we trying to be gatekeepers when we told an unauthorized person to stop pretending he was leading SP 5?
We were as much gatekeepers as, say, Baen would be when it told you you couldn’t call your indie publisher Baen Books For Real. It might or might not violate a trademark (fairly sure it would) but more than that it’s false advertising and it violates the right of people to what they have built.
(10) TIL WE HAVE FACEBOOK. Author S.M. Stirling is not a Twitter user.
With every passing day, I become more convinced I did the right thing by not opening a Twitter account. It’s the Promised Land of aggressive stupidity, and makes otherwise smart and civilized people aggressively stupid. The world would be a better place if it didn’t exist.
(11) THIS JUST IN. Ansible Links reports —
Looks like an obvious attempt to influence the Best Related Works category. Or blatant. Possibly both.
(12) DID ANYONE READ THE DRAGON AWARD WINNER? Doris V. Sutherland, in “Brian Niemeier: The Man Who Would Be (Stephen) King”, disputed that Niemeier’s Souldancer was among the most popular horror novels of 2016, but agreed he’s been successful at branding his work.
The rise of Kindle direct publishing has opened doors for an array of new writers, but it has also confronted them with a big question: how, in lieu of backing from a professional publisher, does you promote a novel?
…Search the space opera category in Amazon’s Kindle department, and I suspect that you will find numerous other indie books that are of equal or superior quality to Niemeier’s novels. Many of those have vanished into obscurity; and this would likely have been the fate of Souldancer, had its author kept his opinions to himself. Instead, by latching onto the Puppy/Superversive movement, he has picked up a loyal following; not a large following, as we have established, but one that has still managed to build him a sturdy echo chamber.
I would rather not write any further posts about Niemeier, as I do not want this to turn into the Doris vs. Brian blog, but I do find all of this an interesting case study in regards to indie publishing. The Puppies have evolved from a campaign centred around bagging an award for a specific author (that is, Larry Correia) into a brand that has granted new authors a platform – Niemeier and Finn being amongst them.
(13) CHUCK. Try and think of any other person people might try to vote a Hugo simply because they promised to show up at the award ceremony.
if i am nominated this year i will accept award IN PERSON (please nominate Slammed in the Butthole by My Concept of Linear Time best short) https://t.co/8dLBlXpRXo
— Chuck Tingle (@ChuckTingle) January 10, 2017
@ChuckTingle Would you be wearing a bag on your head to protect your privacy as a doctor (as in your guided meditation videos)?
— Brownie Mx. (@ADubiousPronoun) January 10, 2017
yes i would wear HUGOS AWARD BAG i have also learned it is in finsland this year so i might not be able to go now. SAM JOSE hugos i will go https://t.co/rSMZswwTDF
— Chuck Tingle (@ChuckTingle) January 11, 2017
(14) EVERY DAY IS HALLOWEEN. That’s the name of Lisa Morton’s newsletter – you can subscribe through her blog. Morton, HWA President, recently told her newsletter readers —
Ellen Datlow and I have now finished up the editing on Hallows’ Eve, the next official HWA anthology. I’m ridiculously happy with the range and quality of the stories we’ve assembled. Here’s hoping we’ll have a cover reveal soon!
The HWA blog has released a list of the contributors:
The sixteen authors included are: Kelley Armstrong, Pat Cadigan, Elise Forier Edie, Brian Evenson, Jeffrey Ford, Eric J. Guignard, Stephen Graham Jones, Kate Jonez, Paul Kane, John Langan, John R. Little, Jonathan Maberry, Seanan McGuire, S. P. Miskowski, Garth Nix, and Joanna Parypinski.
(15) TIME TO REFUEL. Here is Fan-O-Rama: A Futurama Fan Film.
[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus, Steven H Silver, edd, JJ, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall.]
(1) I ROCK, I RAN, EUPHRASIA. Amazing Stories’ Jack Clemons answers the question “Killer Asteroids: Can We Stop Them?”
In an earlier post I talked about the ongoing risk of a sizable asteroid impacting Earth, causing atomic bomb-like destruction, and the still-nascent technologies we’ve developed so far just to track asteroids. So an obvious question is, if we did discover one headed for a bullseye with Earth, and if we had enough time to react, what could we do about it?
The answer at this point is: not much. In the words of NASA administrator Charles Bolden, “If it’s coming in three weeks, pray.” The difficulty comes from attempting to stop, slow or even deflect a massively destructive boulder, which might range in girth anywhere from the size of a tractor-trailer to a planetoid hundreds of miles in diameter, traveling at 40,000 miles per hour.
That’s not to say no one is worrying about it. In fact, several of NASA’s finest have given the problem a lot of thought and so far they’ve come up with three options they’ve labeled “Nuke”, “Kick” or “Tug”.
(2) RING OUT. Moshe Feder calls it bad news for Rob Hansen and everyone who loves bells. Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the UK’s oldest manufacturing business, founded 1570 – and reportedly where fanhistorian Rob Hansen works – is is closing down. The announcement earned the business a long profile in Spitalfields Life.
It is with deep regret that I announce the closure of Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the world’s most famous bell foundry and Britain’s oldest manufacturing company. Below you can read my interview with Alan Hughes, the last in a line of bell founders stretching back to 1420, who will retire next year at sixty-eight years old when the foundry closes in May 2017 and the building is sold – meanwhile, negotiations for the future ownership of the business are underway.
Feder says, “I hope someone buys and saves it, even if it has to move.”
(3) MURDER MOST FOUR. Dave Langford’s Ansible Editions has published an ebook edition of Yvonne Rousseau’s The Murders at Hanging Rock (first published in 1980). Mystery multiplied!
What really happened at Hanging Rock on St Valentine’s Day in 1900?
Picnic at Hanging Rock is the source for this erudite literary entertainment, which will be enjoyed and appreciated by all scholars and lovers of unsolved mysteries. In The Murders at Hanging Rock, Yvonne Rousseau offers four logical, carefully worked-out but thoroughly tongue-in-cheek explanations of the fate of the missing picnickers from Appleyard College.
Now reprinted with a foreword by John Taylor which casts yet more light on the subject, The Murders at Hanging Rock is an essential and amusing companion to Lady Lindsay’s classic story.
- • •
In 1987, the long-suppressed Chapter 18 of Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock was published as The Secret of Hanging Rock, a chapbook to which Yvonne Rousseau contributed a further ingenious commentary which has been added (with a new Preface of its own) to the Ansible Editions ebook of The Murders at Hanging Rock.
(4) RETROSPECTIVE. Randy Byers, just about the nicest person in fanzine fandom, looks back on his first year of fighting a cancer that tore his life apart and reassembled it in a new way.
A lot has happened in the last year and I’m hopeful that there’s more amazement to come, but I thought it was worth marking that a year ago I walked through a door into an examination room and exited a stranger in a strange land that had such people in it.
(5) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #7. The seventh of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for an autographed novel and half a pound of specially roasted coffee beans, from Leah Cutter.
About the Book:
Peter worries about just three things: dancing, finding a girlfriend, and hiding his raven soul.
Peter is a raven warrior, an ancient race known for their assassination and fighting skills. Through secrecy and strict teaching, they’ve learned to cope with the modern world.
When Peter meets Tamara, he knows she’s different. Special. He doesn’t learn until too late that she has secrets too. Tamara is a tiger warrior. And her kind are only interested in killing his kind.
About the Coffee:
Leah will be in touch with the winner to determine what type of roast you want. (Light? Dark? Espresso? Uncertain blend? Decaf? Etc…)
(6) HARLAN IS #1. Digital Trends reviewed all the iterations of Star Trek and picked the top episode from each: “From time travel to Tribbles: Here are the best Star Trek episodes from every series”.
Over its five decades, no science-fiction property has had more of an effect on the genre than Star Trek. Five television series, an animated cartoon, and a dozen movies have captivated Trekkies for generations. While the show has occasionally produced some kitschy dialogue and plot lines that are cringe-worthy, there are many episodes that withstand the test of time as some of the greatest sci-fi adventures ever put on a screen.
In preparation for the forthcoming new series from CBS, Star Trek: Discovery, we glossed hundreds of episodes from each live-action series and picked some of our favorites for you to enjoy, whether you’re new to the franchise or a life-long fan. We’re sure this will cause a lot of discussion, but if you really want to go where no sci-fi adventure has gone before, here are the 20 episodes you’ll want on your watch list.
Star Trek: The Original Series
Set in the 23rd century, Star Trek: TOS follows the five-year mission of the USS Enterprise, with Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), first officer and half-Vulcan Spock, the ever cantankerous ship’s Doctor Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelly), Uhuru (Nichelle Nichols), Sulu (George Takei), and the rest of the gang, alongside a host of alien species.
Season 1, episode 28: The City on the Edge of Forever
The final episode of the original series’ first season gets our nod for its solid storyline. Some of the episodes of TOS seemed to suffer from gimmicky — if not corny — plots, but Roddenberry and his team thread the needle well in this one. In fact, it was good enough to receive the 1968 Hugo (the Emmys of sci-fi) for Best Dramatic Presentation.
In this episode, Kirk and Spock must travel back in time to go after McCoy, who, in a fit of delusion following an accidental overdose of Cordrazine, transports down to the nearest planet. This planet is home to a time portal, and McCoy enters the portal. The incident alters the time line, causing the Enterprise and the entire Federation to disappear. Kirk and Spock bargain with the “Guardian of Forever” to enter the portal, which takes them back to 1930s New York City. What unfolds is a story about timelines that might have been, a device later used by J.J. Abrams in the series’ cinematic reboot.
(7) IT’S CONTAGIOUS. Skyboat Audiobook of Harlan Ellison’s Star Trek Teleplay was named to AudioFile’s Best Audiobooks of 2016.
Today, AudioFile Magazine named THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER as one of the BEST AUDIOBOOKS of 2016. Took our breath away. We wanted to share this amazing news with you, because without you, there would have been no audiobook. There are thousands of books produced every year, and it is deeply moving that CITY was included on this prestigious list. And that brings us back to thanking all of you again and again for your outpouring of love and financial support. Bless you one and all during this Holiday Season.
(8) SACHS OBIT. Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs has died reports the BBC.
Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs, who played hapless Spanish waiter Manuel in the BBC sitcom, has died aged 86, his family has confirmed.
Sachs, who had been suffering from dementia for four years, died on 23 November and was buried on Thursday.
On his role of Manuel, he told the BBC in 2014: “It was just a part I was playing and people seemed to laugh.”
….Manuel was one of the most imitated comedy characters of the 1970s.
The waiter, who famously hailed from Barcelona, often said little more than the word “Que?” to generate laughs, but arguably his most famous line was “I know nothing”.
Fawlty Towers co-writer Booth, who played hotel maid Polly Sherman in the series, said Sachs “spoke to the world with his body as well as his mangled English.”
She said he was a “universally beloved figure”, saying it was “a privilege and an education to work with him”.
Writing in the Guardian, she also compared the pairing of Cleese and Sachs to that of Abbott and Costello or Laurel and Hardy.
(9) CARTOON AMERICAN. Gizmodo’s Casey Chan thinks this is true: “Why Bugs Bunny Is the Ultimate Animated American Icon”.
Mickey Mouse is obviously more well-known than Bugs Bunny. But there’s a kitschy globalization aspect to Mickey that Bugs has somehow managed to avoid ,even though they both served as mascots for their companies (Disney and Warner Bros., respectively). How did Bugs do it?
Kaptain Kristian breaks down the difference between Mickey and Bugs as such: Bugs is cool, slick, funny, defiant, and in control. Mickey is tame, inoffensive, and, well, corporate as hell. Bugs is who most Americans want to be (even if we’re meek li’l Mickeys inside), Mickey is just a safe brand that gets stamped around the world. And while Bugs is a character, Mickey is a company.
Instead of running down Mickey Mouse, Chan needs to justify picking Bugs over Homer Simpson. The aggressively credulous Homer is our neighbor, our nightmare, and – if never to be admitted – sometimes ourselves.
(10) INDIE OR NOT TO INDIE. When asked “Why even have a publisher?”, Fynbospress gave this answer in a comment at Mad Genius Club:
For us, the value of a publisher is as follows:
1.) Exploitation of rights that would otherwise lay fallow. Namely, audiobook, because I personally don’t care for the medium, and therefore am crippled when it comes to trying to put out a good quality product.
2.) additional fanbase. Publishers like Baen and Castalia have cultivated a fanbase that is willing to buy a new author based solely on the publisher – and whether you’re a newcomer to the field or trying to expand into a new market, these are additional sales and market penetration above what we can easily reach. (Note; do research on your publisher. Nobody ever says “Oh, boy, I can’t wait for the next Penguin Putnam release!” So the majors are actually less attractive this way.)
3.) additional marketing efforts. Again, due diligence is required, but if the publisher is willing to commit to pushing your book, that’s more work the author doesn’t have to do. If the press is big enough that your editor has to run this past a marketing department, then it’s critical to get this in the contract.
4.) Someone else to carry the ball. We’ve had some interesting medical adventures over the last couple years. The ability to hand a manuscript off, and not have to do anything else (even though the publisher did ask us for approval / suggestions on cover and blurb), was the difference between getting Brings the Lightning out or not. And when we’re more concerned with the surgeon saying “Unfortunately, due to shrapnel in his body, we can’t put your husband in the MRI to see if complications X or Y will ensue…” having a publisher who will get a royalty check to us is much nicer than having 70% of nothing.
Note that these reasons are very individual to us and our circumstances; they do not necessarily apply to all authors.
(11) AWARD FOR NON-ALTERNATE HISTORY. Pornokitsch tells us that once upon a time there was such a thing as “The Georgette Heyer Historical Fiction Prize”.
Something else I’ve learned this week – the existence of “The Georgette Heyer Historical Fiction Prize”. This was proudly emblazoned on the spine of Zemindar, which I promptly bought for £2. See, awards do sell books!
Sponsored by Corgi Books and The Bodley Head, the Georgette Heyer Historical Fiction Prize ran from 1978 to 1989. It was for discovering “new talent in historical fiction writing” – and not solely Heyer’s stomping ground of the Regency period, as shown by the list of winners below….
There’s a great article about the prize on Reading the Past, where Sarah Johnson has done a terrific job of piecing together the award’s history.
(12) RIOT BEGINS IN 3, 2, 1…. Peter Burfeind pokes all those sensitive places in an article for The Federalist, “Aliens Don’t Exist, But They Tell Us A Lot About Atheists”.
In his movie “Expelled,” Ben Stein challenged Richard Dawkins about the remarkable phenomenon of life on planet earth: how could life arise given the sheer magnitude of its improbability? Dawkins suggested aliens possibly deposited life on earth.
Dawkins, we recall, is an atheist, a scientist directed only by provable facts. Yet he’s willing to posit the source of earthly life to a concept lacking any evidence.
Of course, Dawkins is guilty of nothing more than a thought experiment, something great scientists do all the time. Accordingly, a galaxy without aliens would be like a valley producing no life decades after a massive volcano covered it with volcanic ash—eventually some seed will find its way into the hard crevices, and though difficult, life will find a way.
(13) BACK TO THE BIG BANG. Beware – CinemaBlend tells “What Christopher Lloyd Did On The Big Bang Theory”.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for tonight’s episode of The Big Bang Theory.
The Big Bang Theory has become known, in its 10 seasons on the air, for enlisting the help of several guest stars to enhance the stories the show tells of the group of funny friends we’ve all come to know and love. It was announced a few weeks ago that tonight’s episode, titled “The Property Division Collision,” would feature a guest appearance from iconic actor Christopher Lloyd, but we didn’t know who he’d be playing or how his character would feature into the main plot. Episode 10 of The Big Bang Theory saw Christopher Lloyd playing Theodore, Penny and Leonard’s new oddball roommate.
(14) FOR AN INCREASE IN CHRISTMAS CHEER. The Tea and Jeopardy advent calendar podcasts run from thirty seconds to five minutes (so far).
Whimsy, silliness and festive cheer! The Tea and Jeopardy advent calendar begins with a card and gift from the Harper Voyager Publishing Director Natasha Bardon!
(15) IT GETS VERSE. A magnificent effort by Peer Sylvester: http://file770.com/?p=32198&cpage=2#comment-513386
I scrolled myself today
To see if I still file
I boxticked on the pain
The only thing that’s real
The pixel tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to scroll it all away
But I remember everything
(Rest of the day: Try to get the song out of my head again)
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mark-kitteh, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
(1) TRUTH IS STRANGER. Norman Spinrad has posted on Facebook the original English version of the afterward commissioned by the French publisher for the special 40th anniversary edition of the first French edition of Bug Jack Barron. That anniversary is now far enough in the past that Spinrad finally lost patience with the book appearing and gave the piece its freedom. Heinlein features in this afterward.
JACK BARRON & ME
by Norman Spinrad
It must have been 1969 because I had returned from London to Los Angeles and was writing for The Los Angeles Free Press, and the Charlie Manson trial was going on. We were covering it locally, it was a big national story and it came out that Robert Heinlein’s novel STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND was one of Charlie’s fave raves.
In this novel, the sympathetic lead character “discorporates” people who piss him off, always for a righteous reason of course, and Charlie Manson believed that Heinlein’s fictional justification for this likewise justified his own self-given license to do likewise.
I chanced to run into Bob Heinlein at some science fiction convention, and I just had to ask him how he felt about the widely accepted notion of his novel having inspired the Sharon Tate Murders or at least served as Charlie’s moral template for giving the marching order to his murderous posse.
He looked at me deadpan straight in the eye and hit me with a punchline that has stood me in good stead from then until. now.
“The manufacturer,” said Robert Heinlein, “takes no responsibility for the misuse of the product.”
Thus as the author of BUG JACK BARRON I thereby absolve myself of responsibility for the successful political campaign for Congress of Robert K. Dornan, the unsuccessful campaign of Pat Buchanan for the Republic Nomination for President, the march to the far reaches of the far right by the Republican Party, the Alcor Life Extension Foundation….
(2) ANCIENT BRITFANDOM. Martin Morse Wooster is enjoying Rob Hansen’s history of British fandom, THEN (recently published in book form by the redoubtable Ansible Press). Here’s his latest favorite anecdote:
This is from the memoirs of British fan Jim Linwood. LXI con was the 1961 British national sf convention, where Kingsley Amis was GoH.
“The other famous author who made his debut at LXICon–Martin Amis. He was 10 years old and spent most of his time running screaming throughout the corridors to the annoyance of the attendees. A few years later, Kingdon Road fans cheered when we saw him fall to his death from the rigging of Anthony Quinn’s pirate ship in A High Wind in Jamaica — his only film performance.”
(3) DON’T TRIP ON TROPES. At Tor.com, “Charlie Jane Anders, Alyssa Cole, and Rumaan Alam on Avoiding Blind Spots When Writing Outside Your Experience”.
All agreed that tropes are an important tool for playing with genre expectations, as you can set up a particular familiar trope and then change them in a way that’s fresh and exciting for readers. Tropes “can help, can hurt,” Anders said, as they can be “a way of focusing your intentions in the story” but might also lead a writer astray by binding them to the often outdated, cliché, or downright offensive depictions of certain characters that genre. These blind spots occur when writers fall back on their knowledge of a movie for a certain character’s background rather than doing independent research into the personal histories and experiences of people other than the writer. “You should stop and educate yourself,” she said; if instead you think, in this kind of story, this always happens, “that’s death—that’s death of storytelling.”
When asked how to recognize when you’re in a blind spot, the panelists all shared their experiences and key pieces of advice:
- Get beta readers and sensitivity readers who are familiar with the backgrounds of the characters you’re trying to write. “If you know you have a blind spot, you can even think that you’ve overcome a lot of the blind spot, but you haven’t,” Cole said. “The bottom line is, always have beta readers, but especially make sure you have beta readers from the particular group you’re writing about—if it’s not aliens or something.”
- Have more than one sensitivity reader if possible. Cole found that in writing a suffragette novella set in 1917, with a main character from India, that two of her readers were from different regions of India and had different experiences; not necessarily contradictory, but enough that it provided more nuance to her work. And compensate them for their time!
- “You also have to do a gut check 100 times,” Anders said—put the piece aside for a month, then return to it with a fresh perspective.
- “It’s OK to get it wrong,” Alam said. Sometimes you can work the lack of understanding into the book by putting that perspective into the mouths of your characters; that can be just as valuable.
(4) THE POWER OF SFF. Jim C. Hines and Mary Anne Mohanraj will partner in the creation of Invisible 3, a third volume of collected stories shared by authors and fans “about the importance of representation in science fiction/fantasy.”
These stories help to create understanding and connection. They expose the power of our genre both to help and to harm….
We’re looking for personal, first-hand stories between 400 and 1000 words talking about the impact of SF/F stories and what it’s like to see yourself misrepresented or erased, or relegated to the backgrounds. We’re also interested in the ways underrepresented and marginalized writers have worked to reclaim space in the genre.
Accepted works will first be published online, and then collected and published in an anthology. Contributors will receive a $10 payment.
Once author and artist payments have been covered, all additional proceeds will go to the Con or Bust program, helping people of color to attend SFF conventions.
(5) CALL FOR PAPERS. The annual Literary London conference, will be held July 13-14, 2017. Their theme is “Fantastic London: Dream, Speculation and Nightmare.” They are taking proposals for papers until February 1.
Proposals are invited for papers, comprised panels, and roundtable sessions, which consider any period or genre of literature about, set in, inspired by, or alluding to central and suburban London and its environs, from the city’s roots in pre-Roman times to its imagined futures. While the main focus of the conference will be on literary texts, we actively encourage interdisciplinary contributions relating to film, architecture, visual arts, topography and theories of urban space. Papers from postgraduate students are particularly welcome for consideration. Indicative topics and writers who might be addressed:
- Gaslight romance, the urban gothic, London noir, steampunk & speculative poetry
- Future catastrophes, technological dystopias, nightmares of policing & surveillance
- Forms of fictional flight into alternate ontologies of nationhood and urban belonging
- Architectural caprice, replication and ruin in the development of the built environment
- Stories of financial catastrophe, uncertain inheritance and precarious fortune
- The search for ontological wholeness in a divided, doubled or allotropic city
- The uncanny, arabesque and magical excrescences of the urban everyday
- Dramatizing the life of hidden underworlds, anti-worlds & allegorical environments
- The Weird: H. P. Lovecraft, Arthur Machen, Lord Dusany, M. John Harrison
- ‘Elsewheres’: Doris Lessing, William Morris, J. G. Ballard, Jean Rhys, Anthony Burgess
- Urban Gothic: Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, Thomas De Quincey, Charles Dickens
- Underworlds: Neil Gaiman, China Miéville, Michael Moorcock, Michèle Roberts
- Make-believe: J. M. Barrie, Cassandra Clare, Philip Reeve, Christina Rossetti, John Clute
Please submit all proposals using the links under ‘Conference’ above. If you have any queries, please contact the conference organiser Dr Peter Jones at conference at literarylondon dot org
(6) STAGE PRAISE. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child won a London theater award.
— Harry Potter Play (@HPPlayLDN) November 13, 2016
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY
- November 14, 1851 — Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, was first published in the U.S. And one hundred years later, Ray Bradbury wrote the script for the movie.
(8) THE DOCTOR IS OUT. Both Peter Capaldi and new companion Pearl Mackie will leave with Moffat — “Expect ‘Doctor Who’ In 2018 To Be A “Clean Slate… A Brand New Show” says ScienceFiction.com.
Expect a lot of loose ends to be tied up in the upcoming 2017 season of ‘Doctor Who’. After this, showrunner Steven Moffat and star Peter Capaldi will depart the hit series, which unfortunately has seen waning ratings in the past few years. They’ve never come right out and said it, but this is possibly because of the switch-over coming at the end of the new season, but it sounds like the changes will be sweeping!
Insiders are saying that when new showrunner Chris Chibnall takes over for the 2018 season, he will be left with a “clean slate” in order to build his own “brand new show.” Reportedly this “brand new show” won’t be 100% fresh, however. Instead, it is reported that the BBC, which has not only been unhappy with the weaker ratings of the Capaldi era, but the sharp dip in sales of “dolls, books, DVDs and toys” are looking to return to a winning formula….
Perhaps the most startling change is that Pearl Mackie, who has yet to even debut as new Companion Bill, is also expected to depart the series along with Moffat and Capaldi. Often, Companions are used to help transition between Doctors and in a sense serve as guides until the new Doctor gains his bearings, as was the case with Clara Oswald, who bridged the gap between Matt Smith’s version and Capaldi’s.
But reportedly Mackie only signed on for a one-year contract. She, Capaldi and Moffat are expected to make the 2017 Christmas Special their swan song.
(9) IT’S ABOUT NOT MUCH TIME. Did you know Time Tunnel only ran one season? That’s one of MeTV’s “8 time-defying tidbits about The Time Tunnel“. ABC network programmers then screwed the pooch picking the successor —
The replacement didn’t fare much better.
The Legend of Custer went on to replace The Time Tunnel on Friday nights, but the new series only lasted 17 episodes. Ironically, an episode of the sci-fi series took place during the Battle of Little Bighorn, a.k.a. Custer’s Last Stand.
“Let’s make a series about a young guy with long blonde hair who doesn’t surf or play in a rock’n roll band,” said the executive, who hadn’t noticed it was the middle of the Sixties.
(10) MORE VINTAGE SF TELEVISION. Echo Ishii continues her SF Obscure series.
So for this week’s post I decided to cover the half hour, SF/action show CLEOPATRA 2525.
The year is, uh, 2525. Humanity has been driven underground because the surface is controlled by giant floating robot armchairs (That’s what it looks like anyway) called Baileys. Two fighters Hel(Gina Torres) and Sarge (Victoria Pratt) are resistance fighters who battle the robot overlords. helped by a mysterious voice called ‘Voice’ that taps into Hel’s brain. Anyway, Sarge gets hurt and needs a kidney so they go and get one at the local buy-a-body-part depot. Thus, the meet Cleo (Jennifer Sky), a women cryo-frozen in 2001 when her breast augmentation surgery went awry and she was stored until humanity had the tools to save her life. I am not making this up.
(11) BELLS AREN’T RINGING. A Wyoming bookstore banned the use of electronic devices on the premises.
A Wyoming bookstore is aiming to remind customers that its “a place for books” by refusing to offer WiFi and banning use of electronic devices.
A sign posted at the entrance to Wind City Books in Casper informs customers that there is no public WiFi available and calls on them to keep their laptops and cellphones out of sight inside the shop.
(12) ANALOG MONSTER.
— SciFi/Fantasy Author (@DougWallace1973) November 11, 2016
(13) GRIND ZERO. I don’t know if it’s a good column about writing, but Dave Freer sure has a lot of insights about “Making Sausage”.
There are myriad sausage recipes. Sausage made of everything from bear to squirrel, pork to beef, turkey to fish. Even vegan. Sausages with everything from cranberries to chardonnay in them. But oddly they have two essential ingredients, in essential proportions. Stray too far from either and your sausage doesn’t work. And those are fat and salt. Not the obvious – people say it’s a bear or boar or chicken sausage. They don’t say ‘it’s a fat sausage’. “Yuck!” would be the response. And indeed yuck is appropriate if you don’t get that proportion (around 20%) right. Too much and it becomes a greasy horrible thing. By the time it cooks out the sausage meat and other ingredients taste greasy and overcooked. And too little and it is dry and tasteless. Vegan is particularly difficult because of the whole ‘fat’ thing. I gather it’s considered bad to suggest using plump ones. But I gather one can buy vegan suet.
For me, in writing, that’s the story, the action, the adventure. In some shape or form it has to be in every worthwhile read. Yes, actually you can have too much. Or too little, and vast focus on the other ingredients – be they the setting or the social justice outrage of the week – they tend to dry and un-appealing. And the salt… well those are the characters. And yes, once again there is such a thing as too much – or too bland when it is merely count the pre-expected tokens. I wait with amusement for the first orange haired villain s to appear…
(14) THE BULLET BOX. Larry Correia provides “A Handy Guide For Liberals Who Are Suddenly Interested In Gun Ownership” at Monster Hunter Nation.
That title isn’t joking. This post is aimed at my liberal readers. I’m a libertarian leaning Republican and gun expert, who thinks you are wrong about a lot of stuff, but I’m not writing this to gloat about your loss. For the record, I disliked all the presidential candidates.
Judging by your social media over the last few days many liberals have been utterly terrified that your government might turn tyrannical or that evil people will now be emboldened to hurt you. I’m going to let you in on a little thing the other half of the country is familiar with to keep those unlikely, yet catastrophic, events from happening.
And that my lefty friends, is 2nd Amendment.
Having just gone through a war against a tyrannical government, the Founders understood that governments can go bad, so they made sure to note our God given right (or we’ll say naturally occurring right, since a bunch of you are atheists) to keep and bear arms in order to defend ourselves. The 2nd Amendment isn’t about hunting or “sporting purposes”, it’s about having weapons that you can fight with. As an added bonus, being able to protect yourself from a tyrannical government means that you’re a lot better equipped to deal with any common criminal who decides to hurt you. Before I get into the details about how to enjoy your newly discovered 2nd Amendment rights, let me just say that I get you’re sad, angry, bitter, and fearful. But just like my people over the last few elections, you’ll get over it. The really hyperbolic freak outs about Literally Hitler make you sound just like the Alex Jones crowd worried that Obama was going to herd Christians into FEMA camps last time. So take a deep breath and relax. Your friends and neighbors are the same as they were last week. The vast majority weren’t voting because racism, they voted against the status quo and a really unlikable Democrat. And no, they aren’t going to round you up into cattle cars….
(15) CROTTLED PEEPS. Daniel Dern advises, “Be sure to watch to the very end. Even better than when a character on The Good Wife said ‘A Lannister always pays his debts.’” Shared at io9 by James Whitbrook: “A Breakdown Of My Scattered, Confused Thoughts While Watching This Game of Thrones Sodastream Ad”.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Jim C. Hines, Martin Morse Wooster, and Daniel Dern for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cadbury Moose.]
(1) HARTWELL LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD. Kathryn Cramer posted the speech she prepared for Gordon Van Gelder to deliver accepting David G. Hartwell’s posthumous World Fantasy Life Achievement Award.
First of all, to the board, we are sorry David missed the meeting this morning. Almost nothing could stop him from showing up bright and early on the Sunday morning of World Fantasy to preside over the board meeting.
Not late nights, high fevers, the birth of his children.
This convention—and these awards—were very important to David. For him they were about the conversations we have about our genre and what the genre can do for the world. It makes us proud to think of you all in this room thinking about and talking about the fantasy and horror genres and what excites you about them.
Take a moment, in his honor, and look around the room at the people you have connected with here.
This is what he wanted for you.
This Life Achievement award honors a life well-lived. Thank you all.
(2) ROBERTA POURNELLE SUFFERS STROKE. Jerry Pournelle announced some “Bad News at Chaos Manor”.
Sunday morning – this morning although it’s after midnight now so maybe I mean yesterday morning – I discovered that Roberta had suffered a stroke during the night. I called 911. The firemen responded almost instantly.
We spent the day first at the St. Joseph’s Emergency Room (where the firemen took me after my stroke), then at the Kaiser Emergency Room where she was taken by ambulance arranged by Kaiser, then finally in the Kaiser main hospital. Alex was with me for essentially the entire time. My second son, Frank, who lives in Palm Springs, drove up as soon as he could. Our youngest son, Richard, flew in from DC and just got here.
Roberta appears to be about where I was after my stroke. She can’t really talk yet, but she’s aware of what’s going on around her. We’re trying to arrange rehab at Holy Cross where I was retaught how to swallow, walk, and do all the other things people do.
I’m trying to be calm, but I’m scared stiff.
(3) MARATHON WOMAN. Pat Cadigan’s window isn’t closing this year but she remembers when that was the medical prediction — “Late 2016 Already – Where Does The Time Go”.
…This is not silly wish-fulfilment fantasy optimism on my part. At the worldcon in Kansas City, a few of us fellow-travellers in Cancerland did a panel about living with cancer. One beautiful lady has stage-four lung cancer. You’d never know it, though, because she’s doing great––clinical trials pay off. In fact, over thirty years ago, my Aunt Loretta (one of my mothers) agreed to be in a clinical trial for a breast cancer drug. That drug is Tamoxifen. On her behalf, you’re welcome.
Rational optimism notwithstanding, however, I still remember how the last months of 2016 were projected to be the last months of my life and…well, I can’t help gloating. Who am I gloating at? Cancer, of course. Who else?
These days, I’m thinking not so much in terms of a singing horse as I am the story about the two people in the forest being chased by a bear. One of them stops and puts on fancy running shoes. The other person says, ‘Do you really think you can outrun a bear?’ And the first person says, ‘No, I only have to outrun you.’
I picture me and cancer being chased by a bear called Annihilation. It’s going to get one of us first, and I’m hoping thanks to current clinical trials and the latest developments in immunotherapy, that will be cancer, not me. All I have to do is last long enough. All I have to do is outrun cancer.
(4) TOLKIEN GETS AWARD. The Tolkien Society reports Christopher Tolkien has been awarded the Bodley Medal, given by the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to literature, culture, science, and communication.
Tolkien Society chair Shaun Gunner said: “Christopher Tolkien is a very worthy recipient of the Bodley Medal not only for his own work but for the decades of tireless dedication he has shown in editing his father’s texts. From The Silmarillion to next year’s Beren and Lúthien, Christopher has opened up new vistas of Middle-earth that otherwise might never have seen the light of day. This award is a testament to Christopher’s quiet scholarship as an editor, and a symbol of the continuing significance of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium.”
Christopher Tolkien said: “Although I have never looked for anything remotely of such a kind, I find it especially welcome to receive the Bodley Medal in that it affirms the unique significance of my father’s creation and accords a worthy place in the Republic of Letters to Tolkien scholarship. It gives me particular pleasure that the award comes from and is conceived by the Bodleian, where a great part of my father’s manuscripts lie and where I have happy memories of the great library itself.”
(5) HARASSMENT AT WFC. Jason Sanford revealed the committee was called upon to handle a harassment issue at this weekend’s World Fantasy Con.
— Jason Sanford (@jasonsanford) October 31, 2016
Good thing they did b/c I've heard a convention attendee harassed women there. WFC evidently took report seriously & handled it per policy.
— Jason Sanford (@jasonsanford) October 31, 2016
Proof — yet again! — on why conventions need strong codes of conduct & policies against harassment. Why can't some people understand this?
— Jason Sanford (@jasonsanford) October 31, 2016
Lucy A. Snyder also wrote a public Facebook post.
So I just returned from WFC, where some women experienced harassment: street harassment from rando men that convention organizers had no control over, and at-con harassment courtesy of a local fan who has a documented history of bad behavior (the convention organizers appeared to take the harassment report seriously and appeared to handle it as per their policy, but I question why they’d sell a membership to someone who is known to be a problem.)…
Snyder added in a comment:
I know he harassed at least one woman, because she told me and I escorted her to con ops so she could make the report. In the instance I know about, he did it in front of a male witness (who filed a corroborating report), so I strongly suspect there were other instances that I don’t know about and/or didn’t get reported.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY FANDOM
- Born October 31 1930 – British fandom. That is fanhistorian Rob Hansen’s pick for the date it all began. Click to see the newspaper report of the meeting from the Ilford Recorder.
On Monday October 27th, 1930, the Ilford Science Literary Circle held its inaugural meeting at 32 Thorold Road (which a check of contemporary electoral rolls shows to have been the home of George & Mary Dew), the first ever meeting of our first ever SF fan group. If British fandom has a birthday, this is it. Here is Gillings’ report on the outcome of the event. More details of how many were present and the like would have been useful, but Gillings’ primary intent is to proselytise:…
(7) ESFS AWARDS NOMINEES. At Europa SF, Nina Horvath has listed the 2016 nominees for 14 annual awards presented by the European Science Fiction Society.
I’m not excerpting any of the information here because a lot of the names include special characters that just turn into question marks on WordPress. Boo!
(8) SERIES OF INTEREST. Ed Zitron profiles the late, lamented show beloved by many fans: “Person Of Interest Was Anti-Prestige TV And Too Smart For Primetime”.
First, let me tell you what Person of Interest is. Person of Interest is the inverse of Game of Thrones. For every shock death from the HBO’s version of George R.R. Martin’s book series, it had Kevin Chapman getting maced by a model and beaten up with a handbag. For every Game of Thrones setpiece that sent 49 bloggers into an ejaculatory frenzy over the ambiguous motives and bloodlines of royals, Person of Interest had a scene where Jim Caviezel kicks seven shades of shit out of the cardboard archetype of a bad person. It’s weird watching Jesus throttle people, but you know what, we’re all going to Hell anyway.
[Warning, reading this may spoil the show. But really, you could read an entire synopsis and the show would still be fantastic.]
Caviezel’s John Reese is a former CIA agent that you’re introduced to as a piss-stained, beardy hooch-swigging hobo sitting on a subway train. In one of the most satisfying scenes in TV history, a group of rich dickheads yell at him on the train and attempt to take his booze, which he clings to with an iron grip. He then proceeds to beat them up with his somehow-not-atrophied CIA skills before grabbing one around the throat and giving him the deep, angry stare of a man who uses his pants as a toilet and just wanted to enjoy his train booze in peace.
It’s a great introduction to the show in its purest sense. Peel back the layers of intrigue, spywork and social commentary, and you’ll still find a TV show that brings back the pure joy of seeing people you don’t like getting beaten up. There are no pretenses to prestige here.
(9) HE SCORES, HE WINS! James Davis Nicoll has the numbers to prove a point.
The following review sources managed to review as many works by persons of colour in 2015 as I did in Oct 2016.
The following review sources failed to review as many works by persons of colour in 2015 as I did in Oct 2016. Note that the Big Three are listed.
Rising Shadows 1
(10) SAY CHEESE! NPR reports “NASA’S New ‘Intruder Alert’ System Spots An Incoming Asteroid”.
NASA pays for several telescopes around the planet to scan the skies on a nightly basis, looking for these objects. “The NASA surveys are finding something like at least five asteroids every night,” says astronomer Paul Chodas of JPL.
But then the trick is to figure out which new objects might hit Earth.
“When a telescope first finds a moving object, all you know is it’s just a dot, moving on the sky,” says Chodas. “You have no information about how far away it is. “The more telescopes you get pointed at an object, the more data you get, and the more you’re sure you are how big it is and which way it’s headed. But sometimes you don’t have a lot of time to make those observations.
“Objects can come close to the Earth shortly after discovery, sometimes one day, two days, even hours in some cases,” says JPL’s Davide Farnocchia. “The main goal of Scout is to speed up the confirmation process.”
(11) WHEN GENIUSES PLAY WITH SHARP OBJECTS. Here what NASA’s JPL brings to jack o’lantern design:
Carving pumpkins may not be rocket science – but that hasn’t stopped Nasa engineers.
Scientists at the space agency’s Jet Propulsion Lab held their annual contest to create the best pumpkin this week.
Entries included a gourd inspired by Star Wars villain Darth Vader, and two pumpkins dressed as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton being hit by a meteor.
Motors, robotics and lights all featured heavily.
(12) COSTUMES FOR WHEELCHAIRS. About half a dozen photos here illustrating how wheelchairs are converted to vehicles of kids’ dreams.
Halloween is big business and when you use a wheelchair you want your outfit to pack a punch when you go trick-or-treating.
In America, Ryan Weimer and his wife Lana, have tapped into that market by providing children with the 3D costumes of their imaginations.
Costing between $2,000 and $4,000 each, a team of volunteers spend about 120 hours building the costumes which range from aeroplanes to dragons.
(13) HALLOWEEN TREE. Ray Bradbury tells how the “Halloween Tree” novel and animated film came about.
(14) RAY’S FAVORITE HOLIDAY. John King Tarpinian visited Ray Bradbury’s grave today, bringing some gifts and decorations.
Every Halloween I pay a visit to the Westwood Cemetery where Ray Bradbury is at rest. I had the custom trick or treat bag made and filled it with Clark Bars, Ray’s favorite. The little pumpkin shaped stone I luckily found yesterday from a bead shop I was dragged to by a visiting out of town friend. The pumpkins were brought by one of Ray’s theatrical actors, Robert Kerr.
(15) BOO PLATE SPECIAL. Someone’s Cthulhu license plate attracted a crowd at World Fantasy Con.
— Kat Otis (@kat_otis) October 30, 2016
(16) SILLY SYMPHONY. And here’s your musical accompaniment of the day:
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]