(1) Syfy offers a free viewing of the first episode of The Expanse — Episode 1: Dulcinea. (Also available on the Syfy Now App, Hulu, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, iTunes, Playstation, Xbox, and Facebook.)
(2) Variety says additional episodes have been ordered for Rachel Bloom’s series and CW’s iZombie.
Freshman comedy “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” has landed five more episodes, bringing its first season total to 18, while “iZombie” has received an additional six-episode order, giving the second season a total of 19.
Audience for the Bloom series is growing slowly.
While the positively-reviewed “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” hasn’t gained much ratings traction, it has posted its best numbers to date in recent weeks. Paired with sophomore critical breakout “Jane the Virgin,” the six episodes averaged a 0.34 rating in 18-49 and about 1 million total viewers in Nielsen’s “live plus-3” estimates.
(3) Misty Massey tells about a live slushpile reading in “Getting What You Ask For” at Magical Words.
Many, many times I hear writers complain how much they hate getting form rejections from editors, because such things do nothing to help them understand why the editor didn’t want to buy their story. Editors don’t understand, they cry, that writers can’t fix stories if they aren’t told what went wrong in the first place. Some writers say editors are lazy, others think they’re cruel. For whatever reason, it’s always the editor’s fault.
A couple of years ago, David Coe approached Faith Hunter and me to present a panel called Live Action Slush. (For those who don’t know, the writers submit the first pages of their novels anonymously. A designated reader reads each page aloud, and the three of us listen as if we were slush editors, raising our hands when we reach a place that would cause us to stop reading and move on to the next submission. Once all three hands are up, the reading stops and we discuss what made us stop reading.) David had done such a panel at another con, to great acclaim, and wanted to bring it to ConCarolinas. We had two sessions, both standing room only. As far as we could tell, anyway. We were asked to present it at Congregate later that same summer, and since then we’ve offered it in various incarnations at any cons we attended.
Most of the time, the writers seemed happy to hear our suggestions, although once in a while we would run into a writer who just couldn’t handle the idea that their story wasn’t already perfect. You see, the point of Live Action Slush is to give the writers exactly what they’ve been complaining they never receive – a specific, clear reason for the turndown. Sometimes the problem is that nothing is happening by the time we reach the end of the first page. Sometimes the writer spends the entire first page describing the characters without giving the reader the slightest idea what the book’s about. Characters might be hideous stereotypes, or flat and wooden. There are tons of reasons, most of which are easily repaired once the writer knows what has happened. But there are some writers who really aren’t ready to hear what needs fixing. They’ve come to the workshop fully expecting that the panelists will declare their first page to be utter brilliance. Those are the writers who storm out of the room, instead of staying to listen to the critique of other writers under the same scrutiny. They go into the hallway and tell their friends how mean we were, how we don’t really know anything. Most important, they don’t make any changes.
(4) In an Absolute Write forum, Alessandra Kelley gives the context for a wisecrack James Frenkel made on a Windycon panel and asks “Is what I witnessed abusive behavior?”
There are a number of important questions that urgently need discussing if we are to have any sort of careful, agreeable, professional and accepting environment for our conventions.
Many people make thoughtless remarks or cruel witticisms or little jokes. Should people be more mindful of them?
Is it right to treat a category of people as inherently funny or insulting?
How much tolerance should there be for little jokes? At what point does laughing them away become aiding and abetting the marginalization of a segment of the community?
Should a person with a known history of abusive behavior be held to a higher standard than others? What about a person in a position of authority?
Should we not speak up when we see such behavior?
(5) Lucy Huntzinger reports that the Down Under Fan Fund will be receiving a $2,000 donation from Sasquan, the 2015 Worldcon. The DUFF co-administrator said, “Thank you for supporting face to face encounters between international fandoms!”
(6) Today In History
- November 23, 1963 – Doctor Who begins on the BBC.
The first of a four-part pilot episode of the series aired on the BBC on this day in 1963. Titled “An Unearthly Child”, the story introduced the Doctor, the Tardis, and many other things that would become hallmarks of the program.
(7) Today’s Birthday Boys
- Born November 23, 1887 — Boris Karloff, birthname William Henry Pratt, in Camberwell, London, England.
- Born November 23, 1914 – Wilson “Bob” Tucker
(8) Early suggestions coming in for the 2016 Worldcon program…
WorldCon Panel Proposal: THE WRITING LIFE – 5 esteemed panelists sit, paralytically drunk, mumbling incoherently about the end of publishing
— Myke Cole (@MykeCole) November 23, 2015
@MykeCole I do that panel at every con, and also at my house
— robert j bennett (@robertjbennett) November 23, 2015
(9) The Kickstarter for The Dark North – Volume 1, a premium coffee table art book with new stories from Scandinavia’s best illustrators and concept artists, is just fully financed, but it’s still possible to contribute.
(10) “Being a Better Writer: Names” by Max Florschutz at Unusual Things has four good ideas for dealing with a fundamental sf writing challenge.
So, naming things. This is, as you might guess, a requested topic. And to be honest, I think it’s one worth talking about.
See, naming things can actually be pretty tricky. When creating a world from scratch, or even just a redesigned/repurposed version of our own world, often one of the first things a lot of young writers do is assign their characters, places, and things very interesting names. It’s kind of a trope by this point, but if I had to guess my prediction would be that to the new writer, the goal is to excitedly show you how fantastical their world is. So they don’t have people with names like Joe or Samantha. They have people with names like Krul’Qa’pin or something like that. And they live in the city of Byulnqualalaltipo! Aren’t those fantastic?
Well, in sense, sure. They’re also completely unpronounceable, for a start. And that is just the start.
See, there are a host of problems with names like this. The first being that they’re difficult for the reader to read, pronounce, and parse. They’re these very out there, fantastical names that are hard to make sense of, and the more of them a writer puts into his story, the harder it will be not only for the reader to keep interest, but to keep everything straight. Especially if the writer has gone and made a number of the names similar through conventions such as “I’ll stick apostrophe’s here and here and that’ll make a name.” And while it certainly might create names that look impressive, the truth is that a lot of “name creation techniques” that novice writers go for tend to create a whole host of problems like what we just discussed.
Okay, so this is writing that, if not bad, is certainly not good, clearly. But in order to avoid this trap, it’s worth understanding why it’s a trap in the first place. Why are writers doing this? What makes creating a multi-syllable name that defies typical English attractive?
(11) A dress worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, (which did not win the brackets, darn it) sold at auction for $1.56 million today.
The blue and white gingham dress, one of 10 thought to have been made for Garland in her role as Dorothy in the movie, was among the top items in the Bonham’s and Turner Classic Movies Hollywood memorabilia auction….
A year ago, the Cowardly Lion costume worn by actor Bert Lahr in the movie sold for almost $3.1 million at a Bonham’s auction.
(12) National Geographic reveals “An 80-Year-Old Prank Revealed, Hiding in the Periodic Table!”
You wouldn’t know it, because it’s hiding down there at the bottom of the periodic table of elements, but it’s a prank—something a five-year-old might do—and the guy who did it was one of the greatest chemists in America. It’s pure silliness, staring right at you, right where I’ve drawn my circle, at element 94.
(13) At Motherboard, “For the First Time Ever, Astronomers Have Observed the Birth of a Planet”:
The new research, published this week in Nature, provides hard evidence of a developing gas giant orbiting a young Sunlike star called LkCa 15, located 450 light years away in the constellation Taurus. What’s more, it appears as if at least two other giant bébés are also forming around the star, though only one was directly detected.
“No one has successfully and unambiguously detected a forming planet before,” said astronomer Kate Follette, a co-author on the study, in a statement. “There have always been alternate explanations, but in this case we’ve taken a direct picture, and it’s hard to dispute that.”
(14) Click at your own risk! From ScienceFiction.com – “Thanks To A Leaked Children’s Book We Have Some HUGE ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Spoilers!”
But while those meetings went on, more and more actors publicly denied that they would be a part of the special, prompting growing discontent from Doctor Who fans—who didn’t realize that behind-the-scenes problems with the script, and a ticking clock, meant that Moffat very nearly had to scrape together a story with whatever actors he could find. Case in point? In one form or another, there was a story outline for “The Day of the Doctor” that featured no Doctors at all… only Jenna Coleman as Clara.
(16) A project known as “Justice League Dark” is inching closer to a greenlight. Joblo lists the front-running candidates to direct:
Things are heating up for DARK UNIVERSE, as casting rumors have been swirling around the past week and now we have word on who the studio is eyeing to direct the supernatural superhero tale. We’re told that BIG BAD WOLVES directing duo Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, as well as EVIL DEAD remake director Fede Alvarez are the top contenders to take the gig right now. Both sets of filmmakers have a strong grasp of the dark and macabre genre and would easily fill the shoes of Guillermo Del Toro, who left the film after turning in his screenplay and toiling with the studio over casting and scheduling. However, Del Toro’s script is said to be excellent and one of the main reasons that the studio is pushing to get JLD underway with a shooting start in early 2016.
Yahoo! says Dark Universe is expected to put the spotlight on some of the lesser-known heroes and villains of the DC Comics universe whose adventures typically involve magic or supernatural elements of some sort.
Among the characters rumored to have a role in the film are occult detective John Constantine, who was featured in a short-lived television series of his own recently, and Swamp Thing, a multimedia sensation who was the subject of two live-action movies, a live-action television series, and an animated series to go along with his long-running comic book series and other projects. The film will also reportedly feature the villain Anton Arcane, the antihero demon Etrigan, and the sorceress Zatanna, as well as Madame Xanadu and the body-swapping spirit Deadman.
(17) Ice Age 5 short: Scrat In Space!
[Thanks to Hampus Eckerman, Will R., JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day RedWombat.]