Pixel Scroll 11/28/17 Peering Into The Scrolloscope, I Perceived The Pixels of Mars

(1) COLD TRUTH. Rudy Rucker was a Windycon 44 GoH – and he confesses what was going through his mind at the time.

…Despite the good moments, I did have a very strong flash of “What am I doing here?” when I awoke on each of my three mornings at the con. It’s usually like that. And then I feel guilty and ungrateful for tiring of these dear and all-too-human souls. This annual event is their source of joy, their gay holiday of fun and magic, and they look forward to it, and work on it, and plan for it, and make all the pieces come together, and I, the aloof interloper, I have grave doubts. So I’m a horrible person. What a payoff.

“Why can’t you just relax, Rudy?” says my wife’s voice in my head. “Be happy for them that they’re having fun. They’re touching. Love them.” Well, maybe my wife wouldn’t go that far. Maybe that’s Jesus’s voice, or the Buddha’s, or the White Light’s…

…Well, okay, I was nice to everyone except for a fellow panelist on a “What are your fave books? panel. It was all the GoHs on the panel: GoHs for science, art, videogames, writing, cosplay, and signing (in the sense of translating talks into sign language in real time).

The panelist sitting next to me wouldn’t shut up about some dipshit fantasy books, lavishing cliché praises upon them, trading heartfelt hosannahs with a another motor-mouthed fellow panelist, who claimed to be the “moderator.” And they get onto William Goldman’s Princess Bride (a fine work but, I would humbly submit, not the greatest novel ever written).

And I manage to break in and mention that Goldman wrote a good coming-of-age novel called The Temple of Gold and that it was, in a way, a bit like Catcher in the Rye. And the panelist next to me cries: “The Temple of Gold is SO much better than Catcher in the Rye!” And I’m like, “Well, they’re different.” And the panelist is like “No, Catcher in the Rye is whiny garbage!” And, without turning my head, I deliver what is, for me, the mild-mannered math prof / SF writer, a withering put-down. “And you’re an…English teacher? Hm.”

(2) SEEKING AUTHENTICITY. The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna, in “How Pixar’s ‘Coco’ became a huge box-office hit”, looks at the ways that Disney/Pixar worked with Mexican consultants on Coco, which not only solved cultural sensitivity problems, but made for a better story.

The company was about two years into the making of “Coco” when it committed a significant PR blunder. For its marketing, Disney in 2013 applied to trademark “Día de los Muertos” — the Mexican holiday the movie centers on — sparking a backlash from prominent Latino voices.

Mexican American cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz (“La Cucaracha”) helped give image to the outcry. Alcaraz, who had tweeted that trying to brand the holiday came across as “awful and crass,” created the Mickey Mouse-spoofing cartoon “Muerto Mouse,” with the caption: “It’s coming to trademark your cultura.”

According to Jason Katz, the story supervisor on “Coco,” the backlash to the Southern California parent company’s trademark attempt was tough to take in the Bay Area, where Pixar’s Emeryville studio is located.

“Working at Pixar, you’re in a little bit of a bubble. We’re removed from the machine to a certain extent,” Katz told The Post’s Comic Riffs while in Washington. “[We were] trying to be as genuine and authentic as you can. It wasn’t something we were expecting. We were all just disappointed and sad.”

The incident, though, led to a realization. “We needed to make sure that even though we were reaching out to folks, we needed to make this movie differently than any other movie we’d made…”

(3) BY DESIGN. Ada Hoffman’s series of tweets begins with a swing at Rocket Stack Rank, but it’s also a thought experiment about building an sff review site:

Here’s one of her thoughts:

(4) EVERYONE’S A CRITIC (OR COULD BE). Likewise, Vajra Chandrasekera — critic, author, fiction editor at Strange Horizons, and one of this year’s Shadow Clarke jurors – blasts away at Rocket Stack Rank in a set of tweets you enter here. Apart from that, he is thought-provoking on the issue of awards-driven reviews and criticism.

(5) GONE GUY. New tech issues, new “solutions”: “Foiled! Electrician Used A Snack Bag As A Faraday Cage To Sneak Off The Job”.

For a while, Tom Colella had found his escape at the bottom of a bag of crunchy corn snacks. But it was not to last.

Earlier this month in western Australia, the Fair Work Commission, a workplace tribunal, found that the electrician — who was fired last year — had indeed been fired for good cause: He had been ditching work while on the clock, the commission concluded, and had hidden his whereabouts from his employer by MacGyvering a Faraday cage out of an empty bag of Twisties.

But let’s back up a step: A Faraday cage, named for 19th century scientist Michael Faraday, blocks electromagnetic fields. Faraday found that an enclosure — or, in this case, the foil-lined interior of the cheesy corn snack bag — can keep these charges out if there’s enough conductive material.

It appears Colella, 60, had slipped his company-mandated, GPS-enabled personal digital assistant into the bag to block the signals that enabled the device to track his movements.

(6) FROM CARD COUNTING TO GEIGER COUNTING. Another tech trick: “Berlin police find radioactive iodine on playing cards”.

Police raiding a Berlin restaurant have discovered playing cards which had been laced with a radioactive substance.

Detectives believe players could wear a hidden detector on their bodies allowing them to recognise certain cards, giving them an advantage.

The scheme was discovered when a routine check at a waste treatment facility uncovered an increased level of radioactivity in a rubbish truck.

Police managed to trace the vehicle to a restaurant in Berlin.

(7) CONSPIRACY THEORY? Visit Ingolstadt, “The birthplace of the Illuminati”.

The idea that clandestine Illuminati gatherings could be taking place in the small Bavarian city may seem far-fetched, but Ingolstadt does have a history of them. The city is the birthplace of the infamous secret society that has become part myth, part historical truth, and the foundation of countless conspiracy theories.

(8) GROUND SHORTAGE. “The buildings designed to house the dead” — Chip Hitchcock says, “Not exactly Silverberg’s urban monads, but a vertical solution to a different kind of population problem.”

In the last 50,000 years, it’s been estimated that around 101 billion people have lived and died on planet Earth. Like it or not, everyone alive today – and that’s more than seven billion of us – is likely to join them within the next century. So what will we do with all the bodies?

As human populations continue to expand and flood into crowded cities, traditional methods of handling bodies after death are coming unstuck. The issues range from a shortage of vultures in India – which has led the Zoroastrian community to abandon the ancient practice of sky burials in favour of dystopian “solar concentrators” instead – to the 40-year old corpses in Germany that remain mysteriously fresh after decades in the ground. In many European countries, it’s normal to re-use graves after 15-20 years. But recently some of their inhabitants have been refusing to rot.

(9) LEGO IDEA. BrickBros UK’s “Tron Legacy Light Cycle” has been selected as the next LEGO Ideas set.

The tron light cycle is based on the Disney : Tron Legacy film and consists of a tron light cycle with a user minifigure Sam Flynn it also comes with a Grid base to mount the light cycle on for display.

The light cycle allows a minifigure to easily fit into and clip onto the handles, the light cycle its self has a console in front of the user, two handle bars and detailing down the sides, there is also a power stream behind connected to the light cycle. The Sam Flynn minifigure comes in a tron suit with helmet and disc connected on the back of the minifigure for added detail. The light cycle can easily be mounted on to the Grid base with two connection points and the base has the Grid effect with black and trans-blue tiles creating a tron feel and has a medium azure trim for finish.

(10) POLITICAL FOOTBALL. Vox Day blogged something that reminded Camestros Felapton he hadn’t finished critiquing the new anti-SJW book: “Reading Vox Day So You Don’t Have To: I forgot this was a series”.

Vox is engaged in a similar exercise in extreme ontology to divide each and every fuss about something into either an example of

  • whiny SJWs being whiny and destroying civilisation because they are so evil and lefty…or….
  • a valiant struggle of brave souls against the forces of SJWs even if it doesn’t seem much to do with them.

Unhappy with how Marvel is directing it’s comic books? Well, the great fascist sorting hat says that is an anti-SJW crusade regardless of what your opinion is or that you are objecting to how a major corporation is acting.

Unhappy with the choice of coach for a college football team because of his past association with a convicted child abuser? Well, the great fascist sorting hat says that is lunacy and you must be one of them evil SJWs.

You can retrospectively sort of work out why one and not the other but it is hard to spot in advance.

(11) THE NOT-SO-NEWBORN KING. The Bangor Daily News wants to simplify your shopping — “Eight holiday gifts for the Stephen King fanatic in your life”.

Overlook Hotel keychains

You can let fellow Constant Readers know you’re a fan in a low key kind of way (pun intended) with these cool, retro-looking keychains inspired by various locations in King’s novels. Places like the Overlook Hotel in “The Shining,” Room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel in New York, and a keychain from Darnell’s Auto Repair from “Christine.” Speaking of “Christine,” how about this fun replica of the famed 1958 Plymouth Fury from both the book and the movie?

(12) LEIVA. In 2010, Steven Paul Leiva created and organized Ray Bradbury Week in Los Angeles. Steven’s novel Made on the Moon has just been published as an ebook by Crossroad Press. For $3.99 you, too, can be made on the moon. Find it on Amazon here.

(13) BRADBURY PRESERVED. The Indiana University Foundation wants to crowdfund $5,000 for the work done by “Students Preserving the World of Ray Bradbury”. They’ve raised $1,139, with 32 days left in the campaign.

Students help preserve over 100,000 papers of correspondence, documents, and photographs in the collection at the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies. Their work has just begun and we need your support.

…Graduate interns and research assistants are important to helping preserve Bradbury’s collection of books, literary works, artifacts, correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, and so much more. Hear these students tell what they do in the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies and what this work means to them.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 6/17/16 The Second Fifth Season

(1) RAISE YOUR HAND IF YOU’RE A GREAT WRITER. Photos from George R.R. Martin’s sit-down with Stephen King last night in Albuquerque, in “The King and I” at Not a Blog.

(2) NON-ENGLISH SCHOLARSHIP AWARD. Through September 1, the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts is taking entries for the 10th annual Jamie Bishop Memorial Award for a critical essay on the fantastic written in a language other than English.

The IAFA defines the fantastic to include science fiction, folklore, and related genres in literature, drama, film, art and graphic design, and related disciplines.

The prize is $250 U.S. and one year’s free membership in the IAFA.

(3) FUTURE IAFA. In 2017, “Fantastic Epics” will be the theme of the 38th International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, to be held March 22-26 in Orlando, Florida. Guests of Honor: Steven Erikson and N.K. Jemisin; Guest Scholar: Edward James; and Special Guest Emeritus: Brian Aldiss.

(4) INVENTIVE SF WRITER. Mike Chomko salutes “120 Years of Murray Leinster” at the Pulpfest website.

Although magazines have been around since the seventeenth century, it wasn’t until the last month of 1896 that the pulp magazine was born. It was left to Frank A. Munsey – a man about whom it has been suggested, “contributed to the journalism of his day the talent of a meat packer, the morals of a money changer and the manner of an undertaker” – to deliver the first American periodical specifically intended for the common man — THE ARGOSY. In his own words, Munsey decided to create “a magazine of the people and for the people, with pictures and art and good cheer and human interest throughout.”

That same year, on June 16, a child was born who would become one of THE ARGOSY’s regular writers for nearly four decades — William Fitzgerald Jenkins. Best known and remembered under his pseudonym of Murray Leinster, Jenkins wrote and published more than 1,500 short stories and articles, fourteen movie scripts, and hundreds of radio scripts and television plays. Active as a writer for nearly seven decades, Jenkins’ writing career began in early 1916 when his work began to be featured in H. L. Mencken’s and George Jean Nathan’s THE SMART SET.

(5) JEMISIN INTERVIEWED BY WIRED. “Wired Book Club: Fantasy Writer N.K. Jemisin on the Weird Dreams That Fuel Her Stories”.

We asked readers to submit questions. Here’s one: “I love how this storyline seemed to play with the idea that a person is fluid rather than static, especially when discussing the concept of mothering. Women tend to be judged very harshly on whether or not they want a family, and on the decisions they make when they do have a family. To see one person travel along all different points of the mother spectrum was very interesting. Am I reading too much into this?”

No! I’m glad that reader saw that. I tend to like writing characters that are not typical heroes. I have seen mothers as heroes in fiction lots of time, but they tend to be one-note. You don’t often see that they weren’t always that interested in having kids. They weren’t always great moms. You don’t often see that they are people beyond being mothers, that motherhood is just one aspect of their life and not the totality of their being. I had some concern about the fact that I am not a mother. It’s entirely possible that I made some mistakes in the way that I chose to render that complexity. But it’s something I wanted to explore.

(6) YOU CAN SAY THAT AGAIN. In fact, they have.

(7) JUDGING A BOOK BY ITS COVER. Joe Zieja, gaining fame as a genre humorist, proves his mettle in “Five Books I Haven’t Read But Want To and Am Going to Summarize Anyway Based on Their Titles and Covers” at Tor.com.

The Grace of Kings—Ken Liu

The year is 2256. The Earth is a barren wasteland of oatmeal raisin cookies and hyper-intelligent cockroaches Everything is pretty much firmly settled in a dystopian, post-apocalpytic mess, and nobody can grow any plants. Except one girl: Grace King. This is the story of one girl’s attempt to grow a dandelion out of a really fancy upside-down ladle. As she struggles to find the courage inside herself—and maybe some water or fertilizer, or something—we recognize that her quest for the ladle is not unlike our own, deeply personal quest for soup.

This game sounds tailor made for Filers…

(8) FATHERS DAY READS. The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog comes up with “5 Great Dad Moments in Science Fiction & Fantasy History”.

Aral Vorkosigan Saves His Son (The Warrior’s Apprentice, by Lois McMaster Bujold) Aral Vorkosigan is not a man who easily bends his principles or behaves counter to his beliefs; you can probably count the number of times he’s actually used his power and influence for personal gain on one hand—remarkable considering how much power he wields at various times in his career. At the end of the second book in Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga, his son Miles stands accused of raising a private army and is poised to be drummed out of the military and executed, but Aral influences the proceedings so that Miles is charged instead with the equally serious crime of treason. Why is having your son accused of treason a grand Dad Moment? Because Aral knew treason could never be proved—while it was pretty clear that Miles had indeed raised a private army (even if he had a really good reason). It’s a neat way for Aral to demonstrate his loyalty to his son without, technically, violating his own moral code.

(9) NOW WE HAVE FACES. Yahoo! News brings word that Supergirl has cast its Superman.

For Season 2, though, the Last Son of Krypton will finally have a face, and he’ll look a lot like Tyler Hoechlin. The Teen Wolf star takes flight in a role previously played on The CW by Smallville’s Tom Welling, who portrayed a pre-Superman Clark Kent for 10 seasons.

Hoechlin actually has comic book roots that pre-date his Supergirl assignment. At the age of 14, he won the coveted role of Tom Hanks’s son in Road to Perdition, the Sam Mendes-directed adaptation of an acclaimed graphic novel. In addition to his role as Derek Hale on Teen Wolf, the actor will also appear in the upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey sequels, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed.

(10) QUALITY EMERGENT. At Amazing Stories, MD Jackson continues the series: “Why Was Early Comic Book Art so Crude? (Part Two)”.

His talents did not go unnoticed. Everett M. “Busy” Arnold, publisher of Quality Comics, wanted to integrate the comic book format into the more prestigious world of the Sunday Funnies. He lured Eisner away from the studio to create a weekly comic book that would be distributed by a newspaper syndicate. Eisner agreed and came up with his most famous creation, The Spirit, which would continue to break new ground artistically, but also in the comic book business. Eisner insisted on owning the copyright to his new creation, a situation almost without parallel in comics at that time and almost without parallel on any popular basis for several decades to come. “Since I knew I would be in comics for life, I felt I had every right to own what I created. It was my future, my product and my property, and by God, I was going to fight to own it.” Eisner said. That was a watershed moment in terms of the artist being acknowledged as a creator of comics rather than just part of an assembly line.

(11) A LOONEY IDEA. A BBC video explains why Earth probably has more than one moon a lot of the time.

Or, as JPL explains it:

As it orbits the sun, this new asteroid, designated 2016 HO3, appears to circle around Earth as well. It is too distant to be considered a true satellite of our planet, but it is the best and most stable example to date of a near-Earth companion, or “quasi-satellite.”

“Since 2016 HO3 loops around our planet, but never ventures very far away as we both go around the sun, we refer to it as a quasi-satellite of Earth,” said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object (NEO) Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “One other asteroid — 2003 YN107 — followed a similar orbital pattern for a while over 10 years ago, but it has since departed our vicinity. This new asteroid is much more locked onto us. Our calculations indicate 2016 HO3 has been a stable quasi-satellite of Earth for almost a century, and it will continue to follow this pattern as Earth’s companion for centuries to come.”

(12) IT’S A THEORY.

(13) A DOCTOR ON DYING. Rudy Rucker Podcast #95 shares with listeners an essay/memoir by Michael Blumlein called “Unrestrained and Indiscreet” originally read at the SF in SF series in San Francisco.

And then all at once Blumlein … tells about learning that he himself has lung cancer, about having large sections of his lungs removed, and about learning that the treatments have failed and that he’s approaching death. Blumlein is a doctor as well as as science-fiction author, and he ends with a profound meditation on the process and experience of death…

(14) SCALES AND TALES. William Wu has released the final cover for Scales and Tales, the anthology created to benefit three different animal adoption programs in the LA area.

Wu’s small press is printing 500 copies. An e-version will follow.

There will be a signing at the San Diego Comic-Con in July, and another at Dark Delicacies bookstore in Burbank on August 28 at 2 p.m.

Scales-and-Tales-cover COMP

(15) SIXTIES HUGO WINNER. Nawfalaq at AQ’s Reviews is not the least blown away by Clifford D. Simak’s Way Station, a book that was at the very top of my list of favorite sf novels for a number of years.

Way Station by Clifford D. Simak (1904 – 1988) is the third novel by the author that I have read. It was published in 1963 and won the 1964 Hugo Award for best novel.  Off the bat, I have to say that this is the most polished of the three novels by Simak that I have read. Nevertheless, I admit that this was not an easy read for me to get through. The setting and the tone really caused the big slowdown with my reading of this novel.

The review makes me want to “revenge read” Way Station to prove to myself it is as wonderful as I remember. But what if it’s not…?

(16) SECURITY THEATRE? JJ calls this a “replicant check.”

(17) IT PAYS TO BE A GENIUS OF COURSE. In this installment of Whatever’s “The Big Idea” series, Yoon Ha Lee reveals the thinking behind Ninefox Gambit.

Not so fast. Both of them were also supposed to be geniuses: Jedao at tactics and psychological warfare, Cheris at math. It’s possible that writing geniuses is easy when one is a genius oneself; I wouldn’t know, because I’m definitely not a genius. (I have since sworn that maybe the next thing I should do is write slapstick comedy about stupid-ass generals, not brilliant tacticians.)

So I cheated.  A lot. One of the first things I did was to reread James Dunnigan & Albert A. Nofi’s Victory and Deceit: Dirty Tricks at War. I wrote down all the stratagems I liked, then tried to shove all of them into the rough draft. (And then there was too much plot so I had to take some of them out.)  And of course, their opponent also had to be smart. I’d learned this from reading Gordon R. Dickson’s Tactics of Mistake, a novel I found infuriating because the “tactical genius” mainly geniused by virtue of the opponent being stupid, which I’m sure happens all the time in real life but makes for unsatisfying narrative. Besides all the military reading I did, I also hit up social engineering and security engineering.

(18) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 17, 1955 — Bert I. Gordon’s King Dinosaur premieres in theaters.

ws_Vintage_Cinema__King_Dinosaur!_1440x900 COMP

(19) MONSTERKID. Rondo Award emcee David Colton presents Steve Vertlieb with the Lifetime Achievement, Rondo Award “Hall Of Fame” plaque at the Wonderfest film conference on June 4.

Vertlieb receives rondoRondo Hall of Fame

(20) STAR WARS 8 FINISHES SHOOTING IN IRELAND. Post-Star Wars filming in Ireland, the studio put an ad in a local Kerry newspaper complete with Gaelic translation of may the force be with you. The commenters tried to make it look like the translation was wrong. All I can say is Google Translate made nonsense of it.

Then local Credit Union decided to capitalize on the zeitgeist with Darth Vader as Gaeilgoir (Irish speaker).

(21) FURNISHING THE FUTURE. Stelios Mousarris is a designer with a fantastic imagination.

A Glass Coffee Table propelled by a team of rockets makes a nice Father’s Day gift.

table-1

Ever since I was a little boy, I loved playing with action figures and spent my weekend mornings watching cartoons on the TV. I have been collecting toys and action figures and anything nostalgic from my childhood until this day.

Every time I take a look at my collectibles I remember my childhood, when I used to play for hours on end without a care in the world.

I wanted to recreate that feeling of carefreeness and nostalgia with the Rocket Coffee Table. The design is visually playful bringing cartoon-like clouds and aerial rockets from a personal toy collection to life, in the form of a table.

Combining various techniques from lathe to 3d printing, resin casting and traditional hand curved pieces, this table is fashioned to draw a smile on the face of nostalgic adults, children, and children trapped in adult bodies.

The rockets are not attached to the glass giving the opportunity to each owner to form their own desired structure of the table.

Price: €5000

Or look at the Wave City Coffee Table:

another table 2 COMP.jpg

 

Inspired by a film this table is a well balanced mixture of wood, steel and 3D printed technology.

Price: €8500

[Thanks to Nigel, JJ, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, and robinareid for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

Pixel Scroll 5/7/16 All True Scrollaroos Meeting At Worldcon Hinder Pixelman Agenda

(1) HOPEFULLY INCURABLE. Rhianna Pratchett reacted to the news item that also inspired #12 in yesterday’s Scroll (“Nailsworth teacher claims Harry Potter books cause mental illness”):

(2) CRAZY EX RATED. On NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me, “Not My Job: Actress Rachel Bloom Gets Quizzed On Crazy Ex-Boyfriends”.

Since she’s the expert on crazy ex-girlfriends we’ve decided to ask her three questions about some well-known crazy ex-boyfriends in a game called “No! Really! This time I’ll change!”

She mentions Ray Bradbury, subject of her 2011 Hugo-nominated song.

Rachel Bloom meets Ray Bradbury in 2010. Photo by John King Tarpinian.

Rachel Bloom meets Ray Bradbury in 2010. Photo by John King Tarpinian.

(3) GO AHEAD AND JUMP. David K.M. Klaus predicts, “Someday some Harry Potter fan is going to invent a practical personal jet pack or anti-gravity belt, just so he or she can play Quidditch.” ‘Til then we’ll make do with these skydiving Quidditch players from a Colombian phone commercial.

(4) PARTLY IMMORTAL. Fantasy Faction reposts “Foundations of Fantasy: The Epic of Gilgamesh”.

More than any other genre, fantasy tends to examine ancient epics. Whether it’s the study of archetypes and ectypes, or a historical understanding of narrative itself, or simply a desire to experience myths and legends that have lived for ages, these books remain alive to us. This series of posts will be about some of the more important mythic texts in history, and how they relate to modern fantasy.

The Story Behind the Story

The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the earliest books we have on record. Original stories regarding the character date back as early as the eighteenth century BCE. The primary text was written between the 13th and tenth century BCE, in cuneiform on stone tablets. Then, it was lost for thousands of years, until it was rediscovered in 1850 in the excavation of Nineveh. Even then, it took decades to be translated into English.

Translations are tricky when dealing with situations like these. The poet Rainer Maria Rilke was one of the first people to read it translated. John Gardner (who also wrote the fantastic novel Grendel, a retelling of Beowulf from the monster’s point of view, and The Art of Fiction: Notes on the Craft for Young Authors) made a much more accurate, yet difficult to read translation, making certain to note each place the actual text was missing. Penguin Classics put out a two-volume translation by Andrew George which has received considerable acclaim. For a more poetic, if less rigorous version, Stephen Mitchell’s translation is quite readable, and uses inferences and the aforementioned earlier stories of Gilgamesh to fill in the missing gaps….

(5) GOOD STUFF. See Rachel Swirsky’s recommendation, “Friday read! ‘Hwang’s Billion Brilliant Daughters’ by Alice Sola Kim”.

One man watches the world evolve as he passes, sleep by sleep, into the future, trailing after his generations of descendants….

Hwang’s Bilion Brilliant Daughters” by Alice Sola Kim…

(6) THE MARQUIS OF TENTACLE RULES. Is the beer as good as the label? Octopus Wants To Fight IPA from Great Lakes Beer.

Octopus-Wants-to-Fight_can_label

It pours a beautiful burnt gold edging into a dull orange, like a orange creamsicle complete with a tight white head. As you can imagine, lots of tropical fruits abound from the glass with the first whiffs, followed by a walk in the woods as pine, evergreen and some herbaceous notes are picked up. The first sip provides some sweetness, some dank grass combined with pine needles and then onto “juicy fruit”.  Soft body with some middle mouthfeel bitterness that tastes like another.

The Story “Our pet octopus is a bit of a jerk. He’s that guy who has a couple then either tells you how much he loves you or threatens to fight you. So we brewed this IPA, with 8 varieties of hops and 8 types of malt. We targeted 88 IBU and 8.8% to appease him. Sadly, when he found out that we’d fabricated all of the above info, it only made him more volatile. We are starting to realize that Octopus was a poor choice for a pet.”

Food pairing recommendations

Calamari…

(7) DRAGONSCALE. Mark Yon has a fine review of Joe Hill’s The Fireman at SFFWorld.

The arrival of the latest book by Joe Hill has generally been seen as one of the highlights of the publishing year, and has been much anticipated here at SFFWorld.

Joe has said that The Fireman is his take on his father’s masterwork The Stand. I can see what he means, though the end-results are clearly different. Whereas The Stand begins with the spread of a killer flu germ (‘Captain Trips’), The Fireman begins with the dispersal of a 21st century equivalent – a spore named Dragonscale, of unknown origin, possibly weaponised, that has spread to the general public. The symptoms occur suddenly and are quite striking – a strange dark tattoo, interlaced with gold, appears on the body,  often followed by spontaneous combustion of the person infected….

(8) FELLOW ARTISTS. Rudy Rucker blogs about recent visits to SF MOMA and other cultural events, accompanied by plenty of photos and wry commentary.

I was happy to see they have Arneson’s “California Artist” on display, wearing shades whose lenses are holes revealing, oho, that he has an empty head, California artist that he is. I first saw this sculpture when we moved to California in 1986, and I was, like, yeah, I’m a California artist too. I just didn’t realize that before. It’s high time I got here. Solidarität!

(9) FREE WEIRD. From Europa SF I learned about the English-language magazine Finnish Weird:

Finnish Weird is a free magazine published by the Helsinki Science Fiction Society. It introduces the concept of “Finnish Weird”, showcases a few writers and also includes short stories by Johanna Sinisalo, Anne Leinonen, Helena Waris, Leena Likitalo and Magdalena Hai. The printed version will be available on select occasions (come and look for the Finnish party at Worldcon!), but you can also read the zine online or get an electronic version, either as a pdf or an ebook (epub).

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • May 7, 2010 — The Marvel Cinematic Universe gets its first sequel in Iron Man 2.

(9) LET IT RAIN. The Kickstarter for Quench seeks $20,312 to fund the creation of a computer game that allows players to control the weather and help herds of animals restore their home. Coming to PC & Mac in 2016.

Controlling the Weather

Using your divine powers over the weather, you will provide for your herds, help them as they take up their great pilgrimage, and ultimately restore the world.

Summon rain to bring life to withered plants, quench fires and calm enraged spirits.

Create gusts of wind to hurry your animals along, confuse attackers, and shift great dunes of sand.

Quake the earth to break open chasms and fountains, stun smokebeasts, and clear boulders blocking the way.

Strike lightning to start fires, revive fallen animals and obliterate foes. But don’t forget to take a moment to appreciate the beauty of nature!

There’s also an option for people to vote yes to greenlight the game on Steam.

(10) MORE ABOUT BLACK GATE. Rich Horton’s thoughts about the impact on fiction categories comes before this excerpt in his Black Gate post The Hugo Nominations, 2016; or, Sigh …”.

Of course Black Gate was nominated as Best Fanzine last year, due to Rabid Puppies support, and John O’Neill quite rightly withdrew its nomination. This year we again were (unwillingly) on the Rabid slate, and again John has decided to withdraw.

We discussed what to do – though the choice was always John’s – and there was a definite split. Many of us – myself included – at first inclined to the notion that perhaps we should stay on the ballot. I had four reasons for this: 1) I am certain that Black Gate got a good amount of support from non-Rabid nominators (but we have no way, for now, of knowing how much); 2) I though perhaps the point had been made last year; 3) I felt that withdrawing was ceding even more influence to Vox Day, and also was to an extent disenfranchising the non-Rabid nominators; and 4) I really do think Black Gate is a worthy choice.

But John made two very strong arguments in favor of withdrawing, arguments that now have swayed me so that I believe his decision is correct. First, and most important, by withdrawing it is guaranteed that there will be an entry on the Final Ballot not chosen by Vox Day. Second, in John’s estimation, it is likely that Black Gate wouldn’t have won anyway. I don’t think that’s nearly as important – but it’s probably true. (Alas, the very possible win for whoever replace Black Gate will be somewhat tainted as well if it’s perceived that it won as a default choice.)

(11) CAUSES ME TO TINGLE. Rachel Swirsky said if her Patreon reached $100 by the end of May she would write and send “If You Were a Butt, My Butt” to everyone who subscribes. Well, soon after this tweet, it did, and donations are still coming in. The funds will be given to Lyon-Martin health services.

(12) OF TWO MINDS. Damien G. Walter’s vlog, titled “Why is writing hard?”, never mentions Chuck Tingle, missing a golden opportunity. He previews the actual topic on his blog —

“Damien gets passionate about writing, and talks about the thing that makes it hard, the clash of two very different sides of our personality, the conscious mind and the subconscious imagination. OR. The crazy old hippy VS the corporate middle manager in all of us.”

 

(13) THREE GOLDEN MINUTES. Kendall turned us on to the amazing 2012 short film “The Device.”

[Thanks to Sunhawk, JJ, David K.M. Klaus, ULTRAGOTHA, Kendall, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]

Pixel Scroll 3/9/16 Pet Symmetry

(1) REMEMBERING HARTWELL. Rudy Rucker has one of the best personal tributes to the late David G. Hartwell that I’ve read.

In 2005, Dave got me invited to give the keynote talk at ICFA, the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts, held in a brutally cold motel Florida. One of the organizers quipped, “We don’t come here for the sun, we come here for the air-conditioning.”

Dave told me that a member of the committee had said, “We can’t invite Rucker, he’s a difficult drunk,” and Dave told him, “Not any more.” By then I’d been sober for nearly ten years. I said to Dave, “I wonder if my drinking years had a bad effect on my career.” Dave said, “I don’t think so. Even now, I still talk to people who are very disappointed when they see you at a con and you aren’t swinging from the chandeliers.”

(2) JEMISIN DISCUSSES ROWLING’S NEW WORLD MAGIC. N.K. Jemisin’s verdict on Rowling’s magical North America is: “It could’ve been great.”

…I’m still careful, even with “dead” faiths, because I don’t know how playing with these things might hurt real people. Nations have been built upon and torn down by the concepts I’m playing with. The least I can do is research the hell out of a thing before I put a toe in that ancient water.

It’s even more crucial for religions that are alive, and whose adherents still suffer for misconceptions and misappropriations. But these are easier to research, and it’s often much easier to figure out when you’re about to put a foot right into a morass of discrimination and objectification. All the evidence is there, sometimes still wet with blood. You just need to read. You just need to ask people. You just need to think….

Anyway. This is just to say that there’s a number of ways Rowling could’ve made her Magical North America work without causing real harm to a lot of real people. That would be for her to have treated American peoples — all of us — with the same respect that she did European. Pretty sure she would never have dreamt of reducing all of Europe’s cultures to “European wizarding tradition”; instead she created Durmstrang and Beauxbatons and so on to capture the unique flavor of each of those cultures. It would’ve taken some work for her to research Navajo stories and pick (or request) some elements from that tradition that weren’t stereotypical or sacred — and then for her to do it again with the Paiutes and again with the Iroquois and so on. But that is work she should’ve done — for the sake of her readers who live those traditions, if not for her own edification as a writer. And how much more delightful could Magic in North America have been if she’d put an ancient, still-thriving Macchu Picchu magic school alongside a brash, newer New York school? How much richer could her history have been if she’d mentioned the ruins of a “lost” school at Cahokia, full of dangerous magical artifacts and the signs of mysterious, hasty abandonment? Or a New Orleanian school founded by Marie Laveau, that practiced real vodoun and was open/known to the locals as a temple — and in the old days as a safe place to plan slave rebellions, a la Congo Square? Or what if she’d mentioned that ancient Death Eater-ish wizards deliberately destroyed the magical school of Hawai’i — but native Hawai’ians are rebuilding it now as Liliuokalani Institute, better than before and open to all? …

(3) BAR’S NEW NAME. SF Site News, in its story “Geek Bar Rebrands”, reports that Geek Bar Chicago has changed its name to SFCO.

The rebranding will also bring in an influx of video consoles, late night programming, and new hours, Sunday and Wednesday from 5pm to 10pm, Thursday and Friday from 5pm to Midnight, and Saturday from 3 pm to 2 am. The bar will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. In addition to their game selection, SFCO will continue to offer a rotating menu of geek-themed signature cocktails and a pop culture reference-filled menu items. The news of the rebranding was followed by former CEO David Zoltan announcing that he had resigned from Geek Bar in January.

(4) JULIETTE WADE’S FANCAST. Juliette Wade’s TalkToYoUniverse is a great place to find regular coverage of “linguistics and anthropology, science fiction and fantasy, point of view, [and] grammar geekiness.” Wade is often joined by a guest writer, as in the latest installment, “Andrea Stewart – a Dive into Worldbuilding”.

Something that makes Wade’s project exceptional is that every episode is accompanied by a post fully detailing what was discussed. Here are the first few paragraphs about her visit with Stewart –

We were joined for this hangout by author Andrea Stewart, who told us a bit about her worldbuilding and her work. Her work has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, IGMS, and Galaxy’s Edge.

We started by talking about a piece she had in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Set in a psudo-Chinese culture, it featured an opium den with magical smoke, in a place where the land surrounding the city was dying and this had become the people’s escape. Very cool story! Andrea explained that her mom is a Chinese immigrant, so half her family is Chinese. One of the key differences, she says, is in conversational interaction style.

I asked her about her series, the Changeling Wars. She told me that it had begun as a writing exercise, where every person in a group picks a word, and then each member has to write a piece that uses all the words chosen by the group. She describes this series as being part of a move from dark fantasy to a bit lighter fantasy. The first book begins when a woman walks in on her cheating husband, and her emotion is so powerful in that moment that it awakens magic in her. It turns out she’s a changeling, and not just adopted, as she believed.

Andrea has very warm words for writing exercises, which she says can spark ideas you might not otherwise come up with.

There are 101 Worldbuilding hangouts in the index, 25 featuring special guests, including Aliette de Bodard, N.K. Jemisin, Ken Liu, Myke Cole, Usman T. Malik, Cat Rambo, Sofia Samatar and Isabel Yap.

(5) IN FOR A DIME. Sonia Orin Lyris tells how she “Will Build Worlds for Spare Change” at The Fictorians.

The next week my inbox was filled with indignant treasures, among them this: “No, no, no! This is NOT a D&D game. Coins have names! Coins have histories!”

I instantly knew how right she was. Knew it like the contents of my own pocket.

Pennies. Nickels. Dimes. Not “coppers.” Not “large silvers.”

I dove back into my research and emerged soaked in currency-related facts, from minting to metals, from Greece to China. The facts went on and on, as did the likeness of people and horses and birds and insects, of ships and buildings, of angels and flowers, of myths and monarchs.

So many coins, each symbolizing their culture’s prosperity and priorities. Its very self-image.

I now understood that not only did coins have names and histories, but they were keys to wealth and power, to trade and politics. Coins affected everyone, from rulers to merchants to the poorest of the poor. Coins mattered, and mattered quite a bit.

Coins had names and histories. They had faces. Coins traveled.

That’s when it hit me: Coins are stories.

(6) EVEN MORE WORLDBUILDING ADVICE. Coining words is the focus of “This Kind of World Building :: An Interview with Sofia Samatar” at Weird Sister.

Kati Heng: One thing that always amazes me is when a writer is able to make up not just a story, but also an entire language behind it. Like all creative writing, there must be rules you set for its creation. Can you tell me a little bit about the inspiration behind Olondrian, and especially how the names of characters were created?

Sofia Samatar: Making up the languages was one of my favorite parts of creating the world of Olondria. The biggest influence on the Olondrian language is Arabic, which I had studied before writing A Stranger in Olondria, and was speaking daily while writing the book in South Sudan. I was inspired by Arabic plurals, for example, to devise a complicated system of plural patterns for Olondrian. Olondrian pronouns resemble Arabic pronouns as well. And, like Arabic, Olondrian has no P sound (any word with a P in it has been imported from another language).

The creation of the language was closely tied to the development of names. I don’t have anything close to a complete Olondrian vocabulary, but I do know what the names mean. “Vain” means forest, for example, so there are a bunch of “vains” on my map — Kelevain, Fanlevain, and so on. “Kele” means hunting. “Fanle” means apple.

To invent the names, I chose small chunks of sound that seemed pretty to me and played with combining them. Few activities can be more self-indulgent. It was wonderful

(7) VALLEY FORGE SHARES CoC DRAFT. The Valley Forge in 2017 NASFiC bid’s “Progress Update 2” links to its draft Code of Conduct and other policies. (They also unveiled their mascot, Proxie the Celestial Raccoon.)

Next, we have had a number of queries about what our code of conduct will look like if and when we win the bid. Like I mentioned in the last progress update, we’ve been working on a draft of the CoC for a while now, and it has been a whole heck of a lot of work for the entire team. After many, many hours of sweat and toil by all of us, we’re happy to be able to share version 1.0 of the Valley Forge 2017 Code of Conduct (html version) with you.

Now obviously, calling it “version 1.0” implies that we expect updates, and we do. The convention is a long way (and a successful vote) away and there are some details that we just can’t get in place until we have more structure, like phone numbers and room locations and websites. A lot can change in a year and a half, so what you see here may not be exactly the same thing you see if and when you show up at our door – but substantively, we are happy with what we have and are proud to put our names behind it. If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it.

We’re also elbow-deep in the guts of an internal procedures manual for how to deal with a variety of scenarios, including what to do if we receive a report of a code of conduct violation. That’s not quite ready for prime time yet, and may not be ready until we have a more formal concom structure in place of our current bidcom (in other words, until and unless we win the bid). If we can whip something into releasable shape before then, we will publish that as well.

(8) THE KESSEL RUNS. It is alleged the full title of Kitbashed’s “Complete History of the Millennium Falcon” is “The Complete Conceptual History of The Millennium Falcon or How I Started Worrying and Lost My Mind Completely Over a Fictional Spaceship Someone Please Do Something Send Help Why Are You Still Reading Someone Do Something.”

The Pork Burger

The ILM model shop built the new Pirate Ship model, and quickly found a way to distinguish it from the old one in conversation, namely by adopting Grant McCune’s nickname for it: The Pork Burger.

And if you want my theory, that’s where the myth of the design being based off of a burger Lucas was eating got started.

(9) FURRY CUSTOMS. The Independent learned from Twitter that “Syrian refugees in Canada got housed in same hotel as VancouFur furry convention and the children loved it”.

The fifth annual VancouFur convention, in which people dress up as fictional anthropomorphic animal characters with human personalities and characteristics, was held at the same hotel where a number of Syrian refugees are currently being housed.

A message was given to all attendees at the convention that the hotel had been chosen as one of the temporary housing locations for the Syrian refugees in Canada, and that “a major concern that VancouFur has is ensuring that each and every one of the refugees (and attendees) feels welcome and safe and the fact that this is likely to be a major shock to them”.

“Keep in mind that they likely will not want to interact with you and consent is important to everyone,” the message added.

But luckily for everyone involved, the refugees – especially the children – loved it.

 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born March 9, 1911 — Clara Rockmore.

Rockmore was a master of the theremin, the world’s first electronic music instrument and first instrument that could be played without being touched.

On what would have been her 105th birthday, Rockmore has been commemorated with a Google Doodle. The interactive game teaches you to play the theremin by hovering your mouse over the notes to play a melody.

google_doodle_clara_rockmore-large_trans++4k9pB6mVv575RZMUuuHUNod8NF4FUHHs1V8EwfI8yHk

(11) PROPHET IN HIS OWN LAND. Even George R.R. Martin won’t be allowed a hometown premiere of Game of Thrones Season 6.

And yes, it’s true. After last year’s unfortunate leak, HBO is not sending out any press screeners this year, to try and cut down on the piracy.

They have also eliminated all the regional premieres, including (sob) the one we had scheduled at my own Jean Cocteau Cinema. This year the only premiere will be the big one in LA at Grauman’s Chinese.

The Jean Cocteau will, however, go ahead with our season 5 marathon. Admission is free, so watch our website and newsletter for show times.

(12) LESSER OF TWO WEEVILS. Joe Hill brings his skills as a professional horror writer to bear on the Presidential race in his latest “Perspective”.

I asked my three sons and a cousin what would be scarier: 8 years of a Trump presidency, or two kaiju attacks, one on Washington D.C. and one on L.A., separated by 8 years. Assume standard kaiju size (20 stories, 80,000 tons), atomic breath, acid blood, probably the ability to produce subsonic blasts with one whap of the tail. Immune to conventional nuclear weapons. Highly aggressive.

By a vote of 3 – 1, they agreed two kaiju attacks would be much worse for the nation than if Trump were to become President of the United States. So if you feel depressed by Trump’s toxic mix of misogyny, xenophobia, and bullying, look to this for a cheer-up. It could be worse. You could be jellied beneath the trampling scaly feet of a salamander the size of a skyscraper.

Admit it. You feel better all ready.

(13) THIS JUST IN. “New Survey Finds 92% Of Evangelicals Would Have Supported Genghis Khan” reports Babylon Bee.  

Genghis Khan, the genocidal warlord who conquered most of Central and Northeast Asia during the first part of the thirteenth century, enjoys widespread support from twenty-first century evangelicals, a new CNN poll revealed Tuesday.

“The level of support for the Supreme Khan of the Mongols is off the charts,” explained Malcom Johnstone, the pollster who conducted the survey for CNN. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Clearly, there is a strong correlation between being pro-God and pro-Genghis.”

Still, many Christians question the accuracy of the new findings.

Like Buddy Buchanan of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “I’ve been in a Bible church my whole life, and I’ve never met anyone who likes this Genghis fellow,” Buchanan revealed to sources. “I just don’t get it. I can’t think of a single person who supports him. I remember there was a cool-looking Khan in one of those Star Trek movies, but I don’t think that’s the same guy.”

(14) SHARKNADO FOUR. “Syfy and The Asylum announce Sharknado 4 casting”Sci-Fi Storm has the story.

Syfy and The Asylum announced today that Ian Ziering will slay again in Sharknado 4 (working title), reprising his role as shark-fighting hero Fin Shepard, while Tara Reid is set to return as April Wexler to reveal the outcome of the fan-voted #AprilLives or #AprilDies social campaign. The fourth addition to the hit global franchise also sees the return of David Hasselhoff as Gil Shepard and Ryan Newman as Claudia Shepard.

(15) FOREVER FANS. Future War Stories presents the case for picking Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War as the best military sf work.

In 1974, Joe Haldeman, armed with his bachelors in Physics and Astronomy along with his experiences in the Vietnam War, would craft a military science fiction tale of UNEF soldier William Mendella. This book, The Forever War, would go on to win every major award and prize, rocketing Joe Haldeman into the realm of sci-fi literature. Since its original publication, The Forever War would be re-edited, translated into every major language, and be adapted into various forms, including an major studio film has been in the works since 2008 and the effort seems to be active. The book’s legacy is being hailed has the best military science fiction book of all time and it has been a source of inspiration for decades. In this installment of the continuing Masterworks series, we will explore and explain why Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War is the best literary military science fiction work. A word of caution: this blog article contains spoilers on key moments of the book. Read at your own risk!

(16) STROSS INTERVIEW. Charles Stross, in an interview at SFF World, thinks magic might be a better metaphor for one of sf’s typical tropes.

And what of newer authors? Are there any personal favourites?

In the past year, I’ve read and been incredibly impressed by Seth Dickinson’s “The Traitor” (US: “The Traitor Baru Cormorant”); grim, harrowing, and deeply interesting for his use of secondary world fantasy as a tool for interrogating kyriarchy. I’ve also been impressed by Alyx Dellamonica’s “Child of a Hidden Sea” (and sequel “A Daughter of No Nation”), V. E. Schwab’s “A Darker Shade of Magic”, and Naomi Novik’s “Uprooted”—secondary world/portal fantasies for the most part. SF … I find myself having a knee-jerk reaction against most of what comes to me as highly-recommended or highly popular SF these days; I think this is partly because—for me, these days—magic works better as a metaphor for depicting alienating technology than actual ham-fisted attempts at describing the thing in itself. (And also because so much of the exotic tech in SF is basically warmed-over magic wands.)

(17) VINESPLAINING. In this GEICO commercial, Tarzan and Jane get into an argument about asking for directions. (I may have linked this before, but I can’t find it…)

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, James H. Burns, Will R., and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Pixel Scroll 12/13 Twenty Thousand Links Under the Sea

(1) MOVIE MEME. Mari Ness’ contribution brought the #ExplainAFilmPlotBadly meme to my attention…

Some others –

(2) THINGS TO DO. Mary Robinette Kowal, who uses Habitica as a productivity tool, invites others get the benefit by participating in her guild, “Ink Slingers”

For science-fiction and fantasy writers and editors who are actively working in the field and trying to improve craft. But who also need peer pressure to be productive.

We have some challenges with habits and dailies that you might find helpful.

The way Habitica works is that you break the things you ought to be doing into three types of things.

  1. Habits: which are things you ought to do, but not necessarily on a regular basis. Like “3 minute stretch break.”
  2. Dailies: which you do regularly. Like “Write three sentences.”
  3. To-Dos: which are one time things. Like “Complete revisions for episode 2.”

To use it, you need to create a Habitica account first, then join Ink Slingers.

(3) WENDIG. Locus Online has an excerpt of its interview with Chuck Wendig.

“We’re either moving toward evolution or the ruination of humanity. There’s an angel and a devil. Both of those are manifest in every single technical jump we make. Which one of these do we bet on? Are we going to destroy ourselves with technology, with a nuclear bomb? Or are we going to get nuclear energy? Even a knife can be used to feed my family, or to kill you and take your food. Even the simplest, tiniest technology has a massive polarizing effect on humanity.”

(4) MAXAM PASSES AWAY. SF Site News reports Bay Area fan Felice Maxam died December 1. Maxam, then Felice Rolfe, participated in the Society for Creative Anachronism from the beginning. She was present at its first Tournament in 1966. She also belonged to the Peninsula SF Association in those days. Co-editor of Niekas with Ed Meskys, she was nominated for two Hugo Awards, and won the Best Fanzine Hugo in 1967.

(5) FUTURE OF EASTERCON. Caroline Mullan is publicizing the Future of Eastercon questionnaire one more time. By Novacon, 207 responses had come in. Another 40 have been submitted since. “We’re mailing round to see if there is anyone else out there who would still like to fill it in before we have another go over the responses,” she says.

The Eastercon Options website has been busy over the last month — here are some of the most interesting posts.

Questionnaire Press Release

A questionnaire was open on the website during October 2015. We had 207 responses, about half from people who do not usually attend Eastercon bidding sessions…. https://eastercon.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/novacon-presentation.pdf

What are the issues?

At the Novacon presentation, someone in the audience asked for a general restatement of what problems we’re trying to solve here. We have a number of problems, some more significant than others, some are not problems at the moment but may well become so. It’s fairly obvious from the results of the questionnaire, that we also have a whole bunch of problems that we didn’t really consider to be problems at all, until we started asking questions….

Communication

Fans are often bad about communication. We tend to be rubbish about talking to other people, and even worse about understanding them when they talk back. That’s a bit strange for a subculture that is largely based around forms of communication, from letters to fanzines to films to blogs to conversations and panels at conventions. Historically though, the record of fans communicating, misunderstanding each other, followed by “all Fandom plunged into war” is pretty consistent. So it’s no surprise that here we are in 2015 and the results from our questionnaire show that we’re still doing a lousy job. I’d like to understand why, though the folly of doing this through the act of communicating via yet another written medium has not escaped me….

(6) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • Born December 13, 1925 – Dick Van Dyke

Fans help Dick Van Dyke kick-off his birthday weekend celebration with a flash mob at The Grove in Los Angeles on December 12, 2015.

(7) SITH STATUARY. The BBC profile “The Man Who Turned Lenin Into Darth Vader” tells about Ukranian sculptor Alexander Milov, who got the Odessa city council to allow him to turn a Lenin statue they were threatening to melt down into a Darth Vader statue. It even has free Wi-Fi!

To create his new sculpture, Milov strengthened the original structure and added a helmet and cape made out of titanium alloy – he also inserted a Wi-Fi router in Vader’s head. Despite the statue’s apparent glibness, it serves as a reminder that we can’t control which memories last and which don’t. “I wanted to make a symbol of American pop culture which appears to be more durable than the Soviet ideal.”

(8) COOKING FOR WHO. Chris-Rachael Oseland, author of Dining with the Doctor (recipes inspired by Doctor Who), is interviewed by Salon in “Geek food for the geek soul: ‘As society gets increasingly secular, we need to fill the social void’”.

Oseland will bring out a second edition of her Dr. Who book next year, as well as “Geek Breads,” which includes the “Dune” recipe. If you’ve seen the image of a “Dune” sandworm made of bread that went viral last week, that’s her work….

So it came out of your interest in history, more than fiction or something?

Yes – and I think that’s reflected in most of my cookbooks. “An Unexpected Cookbook,” my hobbit one, is a straight-up history cookbook: It’s all recipes from Tolkien’s childhood in the 1890s.

I’m doing the same thing with my Dr. Who cookbook – anytime where they go back in history, it’s an excuse for me to tuck in a few historical facts… I feel this obligation to make sure I’m historically accurate with these things.

(9) SENSE OF HISTORY. Adam-Troy Castro read Castalia House’s first two blog posts about pedophilia in sf and he challenges the relevance of its entry about David Asimov.

(10) SOUND FOOTING. Star Wars socks from Stance.

Starwars-bg-top-hero-sm

(11) OUT OF THE BOX. This Saturday Night Live faux commercial spoofs toy collecting nerds.

(12) RUCKER RECOMMENDS. Rudy Rucker’s book picks for 2015 ends with four books from this year (the others date earlier). His enthusiasm is contagious, so brace your TBR pile for incoming….!

(10) Paul Di Filippo, A Palazzo in Space. 2015. Paul Di Filippo writes SF stories, a lot of them, and he’s had a zillion collections come out. I collaborate with him on stories sometimes, so I’m very sensitive to the pleasures of his style. He has this jovial voice and an extreme love of words, with a real knack for SF neologisms. Like one of his stories communication devices is said to be “uebertoothed.” And there’s a gang of reality hackers called Los Braceros Ultimos. In one of his stories, “Pocketful of Faces,” he gets into an insane riff about people switching their faces, storylet after storylet, topping himself over and over—its’ like watching some mad juggler. And in the denouement, someone is wearing a fake face on top of a fake face on top of their real face, and who even knows why, but it just has to happen. And the doubly buried faces is like a pale grubworm inside a rotten log. Great stuff. Write on, celestial scribe!

(11) ONE LORD A-LEAPING. Legend of Tarzan official teaser trailer.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, and Steven H Silver for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 7/16

Six stories, two advertisements disguised as news, and a charming science video make up today’s Scroll.

(1) What happens when you delegate your online transactions to a program that becomes annoyed by your laziness? Rudy Rucker provides an imaginative answer in “Like A Sea Cucumber”, a free read on Motherboard. [Via SF Signal.]

(2) Bill Willingham’s Fables is coming to an end reports Jim Vorel on Paste.com.

The closure of Fables with the Fables: Farewell trade paperback on July 22 will be the end of an era in the comics industry, the rightly deserved and satisfying conclusion to a singular, ongoing story rivaled by only a handful of other titles. Fables is retiring on par with say, Vertigo stablemate The Sandman in both critical adoration (a ridiculous 14 Eisner Awards) and commercial success, an immediate entrant into the comics hall of fame. Not bad for a series at least partially inspired by The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show, by Willingham’s own admission.

(3) Frequent File 770 commenter Nicole LeBoeuf-Little educates Examiner.com readers about the Hugos in an article which includes a deep dive into the question “Why would anyone vote No Award? Isn’t that like nuking the Hugos or something?” Five reasons are given, one being a voter’s personal desire to overrule the Hugo Administrator —

Protest a finalist’s placement on the ballot due to eligibility. The award administrators do try to identify ineligible finalists and remove them from the ballot, but not every voter will agree with their assessment. For instance, two of this year’s finalists in the Novella category, “Big Boys Don’t Cry” by Tom Kratman and “One Bright Star to Guide Them” by John C. Wright, were actually first published earlier than 2014. However, the 2014 versions were considered to have been substantially revised and expanded from the originals and thus qualified as new works. A voter who disagrees with that assessment might well choose to rank No Award above those novellas. For another example: Last year, the 14-book Wheel of Time series was nominated in its entirety under “Best Novel,” having been ruled to be a multi-part serialized single work. A number of voters disagreed, and ranked No Award higher.

….Point is, No Award should not be considered a destructive option. It is a tool of dissent with which voters have been intentionally empowered. Use it, or not, as your conscience, heart, and/or whim dictates. The health of the Hugo Awards will be undiminished either way.

(4) Michael Z. Williamson, for one, will be exercising the nuclear option as he told his readers on July 13:

I have just voted NO AWARD across the board for the Hugo awards, including the category in which I am a finalist.

At one time, the Hugo WAS arguably the most significant award in SF, with the Nebula being the pro award with a different cachet.

The Nebula lost any credibility when it was awarded to If You Were An Alpha Male My Love, which was not only eyerollingly bad Mary Sue, but wasn’t SF nor even an actual story. If that’s what the pros consider to be worthy of note, it indicates a dysfunction at their level….

This was my choice.  I am not telling my fans not to vote for me. If you feel my work is worthy, by all means vote for it. Just understand that if I win, it will be subject to the same scathing derision I give to any and all social and political issues.  It deserves no less.

(5) Vox Day still opposes voting No Award in 2015 for tactical reasons:

Also, and more importantly, not voting No Award permits us to correctly gauge the full extent of the SJW influence in science fiction and see how it compares to the current strength of the Sad and Rabid Puppies. That’s my chief interest in this year’s vote, because it will inform the strategy that we pursue in the future. Remember, we haven’t even begun to finance “scholarships” in the way the other side has. Our 2015 numbers do not reflect the full extent of the force we can bring to bear.

(6) Alex, of Randomly Yours, Alex, the opposite of a no award voter, is struggling with a decision about ranking “Hugo Awards: the novellas” for reasons that may be completely unique:

“The Plural of Helen of Troy,” John C Wright: ready for me to get actually controversial? I’m not sure about this one.

That’s right. I actually liked this story and would consider putting this on my ballot. But it was published by Castalia House, and that sound you just heard? That was my politics running smack bang into my reading enjoyment.

The story is told backwards; another PI, this time working in a city outside of time somehow – I’m generally quite capable of reading time travel stories without the paradoxes doing too much to my brain, as a rule, although I know that’s not possible for many readers. (What can I say, it’s a gift. Like reading Greg Egan science.) He’s contracted to help a man whose girlfriend (?) is apparently going to be attacked by someone, and they have to stop it. Of course things get messier than that, and there are iterations and variations as the story progresses (…which means going backwards…). There are some neat moments – I was quite amused by the realisation of who the man and the ‘Helen’ were, and some funny enough moments of these people completely out of their times living together. Including Queequeg. QUEEQUEG LIVES.

Anyway. Now I have to figure out how to vote in the novellas and it HURTS. I’ve got a couple of weeks, right? I can figure it out in that time…

(7) Attendees at Pulpfest in August will receive The Pulpster, the con’s feature-laden program book.

The highlight of the issue will be a round-robin article on H. P. Lovecraft and WEIRD TALES. It will feature contributions from filmmaker Sean Branney; Marvin Kaye, the current editor of WEIRD TALES W. Paul Ganley, founder of WEIRDBOOKand Derrick Hussey, the publisher at Hippocampus Press; authors Jason Brock, Ramsey Campbell, Cody Goodfellow, Nick Mamatas, Tim Powers, Wilum Pugmire, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Darrell Schweitzer, and Chet Williamson; poet Fred Phillips; pulp scholars and collectors John Haefele, Don Herron, Morgan Holmes, S. T. Joshi, Tom Krabacher, Rick Lai, Will Murray, and J. Barry Traylor.

Supporting members are also guaranteed a copy. Or following the convention, a limited number of copies of the program book will be available for purchase through Mike Chomko, Books which can be reached at mike@pulpfest.com.

Nick Mamatas would want you to!

(8) The Easton Press is taking orders for Douglas Adams’ The Complete Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

Five complete novels and one story, together in one volume… “Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.”  With over 15 million copies sold, the Hitchhiker’s Series ranks among the best-loved works of science fiction.  Features 5 specially commissioned original full-color illustrations!

All these gilt-edged editions remind me too much of the Bible…. A resemblance Douglas Adams would probably enjoy, in an ironic way.

(9) Finally, I enthusiastically recommend “The Scale of the Solar System,” linked in comments earlier today:

Not To Be Missed

Yes, there is a world outside the Sad Puppies controversy — and here are a pair of  good posts to remind you.

(1) In “Business Musings: Hidden Treasures”, Kristine Kathryn Rusch takes as her starting point the declining awareness of Andre Norton’s work, and spins it into a historical analysis of the changing availability of books to readers over the past four decades, with implications for bookstores, publishers, and libraries.

What happened with Andre Norton happened in a variety of ways to other older writers or writers’ estates. Copyright issues, draconian contracts, inept families running once-valuable estates, the impossibility of selling a book (for some of these writers) in the last two decades of the century caused a lot of beloved works to simply vanish.

If a writer’s work is impossible to get, then it’s impossible to become loved by a new generation.

That black hole, caused by the changes in bookselling and libraries from about 1979-2000 caused two generations to miss out on classic works of the genre. Not old moldy stuff that no one cares about, but really really good fiction that the readers would love if they only could get their hands on it.

It’s now up to us, the readers who grew up with some of this fiction, to revive it for a new generation. We need to ask for it. We need to get libraries to order it or make it available. We need to make websites devoted to older works. We need to give copies to younger readers.

The new world of publishing makes it possible for readers to find these works again. Readers just have to know these works exist and have to ask for them.

Then, when a publisher actually reprints some of these older works, we need to buy those works and give them to friends and family, and recommend those works on all of the reader sites.

We went through a few business cycles which caused an actual Dark Ages in literature. If we’re not careful, we will lose a part of our heritage that shouldn’t have gotten lost.

(2) On nerds of a feather, flock together, check out this two-part “Cyberpunks on the State of Science Fiction, Then and Now” with Rudy Rucker, Paul Di Filippo, Bruce Sterling and Pat Cadigan.

Part 1

Rudy Rucker

Another angle for changing SF from within is to start writing about a set of ideas that haven’t really been touched upon yet. That’s a true and hardcore kind of SF endeavor. It’s not easy. You have to get yourself to look at the present day world with new eyes—as if you’re a Martian. You pretty much want to forget about all the SF plots and futurist-type prognostications. In the same sense that your characters shouldn’t mirror characters in existing works, your ideas shouldn’t mirror futurist ideas that you might read in magazines.

A good rule of thumb here is that if most people believe something—then it’s wrong. Consider: a hundred years ago, the human race pretty much didn’t know jack shit about science or modern technology. A hundred years from now, just about every single bit of tech that we’re using today is going to be gone.What’s going to replace it? Anything you want. Make up the weirdest shit you can think of. Be optimistic. Why not a new force of nature? Why not aliens from the subdimensions? Why not telepathy with every single object that you see?

Pile on the bullshit and keep a straight face. As the immortal David Lee Roth said, “It’s not who wins or loses—it’s how good you look.” If you and your friends can make your books fun and quirky, then maybe the soggy, stodgy SF ship of state will change its course.

Paul Di Filippo

Rudy does a magnificent job of addressing this viewpoint. He speaks of self-publishing, slipping under the radar of mainstream, creating ezines, etc. I would also mention the great resource of the internet allowing writers to research and communicate beyond anything that has gone before. Imagine how the cyberpunk movement was conducted with paper fanzines! But he does not mention a few of the factors that are making the life of the SF writer so difficult. How to tackle these trends and issues is not something I have an easy answer to.

First is the very lack of gatekeepers and healthy elitist attitudes. The internet has “disintermediated” the hell out of a system that worked, in however flawed and biased a way, to produce the incredible canon of SF that we all cherish. It took Frank Herbert over twenty rejections to get Dune published. Would Herbert’s career have taken off better if he had self-pubbed it with no hassle? Maybe, maybe not (see below). The self-publishing movement, however valid and worthy in some cases, has also opened up the floodgates to a tsunami of crap. Amateurs ruin everything, I’m sorry. When asked if writing workshops discouraged fledgling writers, Flannery O’Connor said, “Not enough.” It’s just Gresham’s Law as applied to SF: bad fiction drives out the good. When presented by Amazon with a hundred new ebooks, 90% of which are shit, and one of which is Rudy’s and nine others of which are good stuff too, guess what the odds are of a random reader buying Rudy’s book, or one of the other nine?

Part 2

Bruce Sterling

I don’t think it’s “transgressive thinking” that solves your alleged problem there. Actually science fiction doesn’t have “inertia” now. It’s not stuck in place, it’s crumbling, disintegrating, like print media and book retail in general in most parts of the world.

Rigorous speculation isn’t in fashion now because science isn’t in fashion. You’re not gonna get a lot of “science” fiction when science is on the back foot in mass culture. People like product-development now, they don’t much like science — they like “technology,” by which they mostly mean commercialized digital technology.

Pat Cadigan

“Transgressive”?

I’ve been transgressive my whole life, not because I wanted to get in someone’s face but because there was always someone objecting to my being who I was in whatever context: e.g., a cyberpunk; a woman in a male-dominated field. Hell, in high school, I was the only girl in my physics class. That was 1970. I spent the first half of the school year just defending myself–and the teacher was the biggest jerk of all.

NYRSF Readings for 3/13

Yes, there was an NYRSF Readings just the other night, but why turn down the chance to hear from Brendan Byrne and Rudy Rucker? The NYRSF crowd will convene once again on Tuesday, March 13.

Brendan Byrne‘s fiction has appeared in Flurb; his nonfiction has been published in Strange Horizons, The Brooklyn Rail and Rhizome. His novella The Showing of the Instruments was published in 2011 by Phone Booth Press. He is the editor of The Orphan.

Rudy Rucker is a writer, a mathematician, and a former computer science professor.  He received Philip K. Dick awards for his cyberpunk novels Software and Wetware, now available in the Ware Tetralogy. His fantasy California novel of the afterlife, Jim and the Flims, appeared in 2011, as did his autobiography, Nested Scrolls, which received the Emperor Norton Award.  Rudy recently finished writing a 1950s alien invasion novel called The Turing Chronicles, featuring a love affair between Alan Turing and William Burroughs.  Rucker edits a speculative fiction webzine called Flurb.  He took up painting in 2000, and he’s had three shows of his pop-surreal works in San Francisco. 

The full press release follows the jump.

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Rudy Rucker Interview at SPR

Self-Publishing Review follows the worldwide splash from its Tessa Dick interview by quizzing Rudy Rucker, a writer who reminds so many of PKD:

SPR: You offer your novel, Postsingular, for free online as a Creative Commons download. What’s your experience been with people downloading that book compared to people buying other novels through ebook distributors?

RR: …This did create some buzz, and I got some interesting fan email. Like one guy said, “I just read your novel on my phone,” and another said, “I read it on my screen in my cubicle at work.” As for the book’s actual sales, they were, I think, slightly better than my usual average, but not radically better, although we haven’t yet seen any numbers for the trade paperback edition, which just now came out.

[Thanks to Francis Hamit for the link.]

2010 Westercon in Pasadena

Westercon 63 logo by Schirmeister

Westercon 63, Confirmation, will be held July 1-4, 2010 in Pasadena, CA. Pro Guest of Honor: Rudy Rucker; Fan Guest of Honor: John D. Berry; Artist Guest of Honor: Marc Schirmeister. Membership info is at the website.

Site selection voting, in a race where Pasadena was not officially opposed, went as follows according to Christian McGuire’s memory:

Out of 114 ballots cast, 99 were for Pasadena in 2010, 9 were for Kevin’s Pants, 2 were for Tonopah, 1 for Tahoe, 1 for Casa de Fruita, and 1 no-preference. These numbers are from memory so I expect any errors to be corrected by people with notes or the last Daily Newszine, which I never got a copy of.

Update 7/10/2008: Added site selection voting figures.