Pixel Scroll 7/25/16 The Ants Are My Friends, Scrolling In The Wind

(1) FIRST RULE OF GAME WRITING. Creators are interviewed in NPR’s feature “Amid Board Game Boom, Designers Roll The Dice On Odd Ideas – Even Exploding Cows”.

When you play a game, you have to learn some rules, right? Well, same goes for designing a game. And here’s one rule: No idea is too wacky.

Take a game called Unexploded Cow, for instance.

“That’s a game where you’ve discovered two problems with a common solution,” says the game’s co-creator, James Ernest. “There’s mad cows in England and unexploded bombs in the French countryside, and you’re going to bring them together and solve everybody’s problems by blowing up a bunch of cows. ”

Using cows with a debilitating brain disease to get rid of leftover bombs — for most people, that’s just an absurd joke. But Ernest designs board games for a living. He and a colleague took that weird idea and came up with a card game. Each player manages a herd of sick cows and tries to make money blowing them up.

That game, Unexploded Cow, is now one of the most popular he’s created….

Are these guys SFWAns in the making?

(2) GET IN THE GAME. Cat Rambo lists “What SFWA Offers Game Writers” at her blog.

In light of recent discussions, I wanted to jot down a few things that come to mind when what I think about SFWA has to offer game writers, because there’s actually quite a bit.

  • Access to SFWA promotional resources includes a number of venues quite suitable for publicizing games. Our curated Kickstarter page, the New Release Newsletter (which can easily be expanded to include games), the SFWA blog, SFWA’s presences on Facebook and Twitter. It’d be easy to make the Featured Book section a Featured Work section to go with Authors section on the SFWA website.
  • Even the book-specific promotional features, such as the NetGalley program, may be of use to game writers who are doing books or stories as well, as is often the case.
  • SFWA has been working at relationships with a number of companies that will be of interest to game writers. Our Outreach Committee has monthly checkins with representatives at Amazon, Audible, Draft to Digital, Kickstarter, Kobo, Patreon, and more….

(3) MORE SFWA ADVICE. Russell Galen offers his accumulated experience in “Ten Thoughts About The Business Side of Writing”.

  1. Get a written agreement for every transaction, even with people you love and trust. I am still trying to solve feuds stemming from oral agreements for tiny properties that wound up becoming movie/TV franchises.
  2. Don’t ever think, “I don’t want to bother my agent with this trivial matter.” It’s not just that it might be a bigger matter than you realize, but even if it stays small, it may still have to be cleaned up some day. Your agent would rather do the work now than have to deal with a bigger problem later.

(4) NOW ONLINE. Suvudu delivers “SDCC 2016: Chuck Wendig Talks ‘Life Debt’, Snap Wexley, and Writing in the Present”.

SUV: You favorite a third-person present tense which is quite different from the other books in the Star Wars fiction line. Why did you go with that? What are some of the advantages of using this?

CW: On a simple level, what’s great is that Young Adult books tend to take a present tense viewpoint to telling stories. Sometimes first-person, sometimes third-person, but a lot of young adult fiction is written in present tense. For me, a person who likes to write in that already, the great thing is that we’re speaking to young readers and to older readers who are willing to be drawn into the cinematic component. Star Wars begins as film and moves on to TV. To have the books feel exciting in that kind of action-adventure thing, present tense keeps you in the moment. I always say that past tense is like looking at a painting on a wall in a museum, but present tense is like watching the painter paint it. It’s like watching Bob Ross: You see him painting on his half-hour show. You really don’t know what’s going to happen. I love that feeling: What’s he going to paint here? Is that an ocean? Is that a rock? There’s also a component where you think he’s going to mess the painting up completely but by the end he pools it all out. To me, present tense is like watching the painter paint. When you look at the Star Wars crawls, they’re written in third-person, present tense. I want to capture that: I do think that it’s very cinematic, and that’s why we went with it.

(5) SUPERHEROES TO WHO? “Optimism vs Cynicism in Superhero Narratives by Paige Orwin” at SFFWorld.

Now, there are deconstructions of the genre that take a more cynical view, of course, and it’s possible to tell dark superhero tales where those with power lose their way and take advantage of those around them. Marvel’s superheroes are perhaps more prone to making mistakes, while DC’s might be more prone to growing remote from the concerns of the people they protect, but the end result tends to be similar: things get worse, innocents get hurt, much anguish is had, humanity seeks desperately for someone else to take on the new menace and it’s all terribly bleak…

…but, eventually, things pretty much always get better. It helps that evil is fundamentally punchable, once you figure out who/what needs punching and where the head is. It helps that violence is so often the best answer.

(6) COMIC RELIEF. This photo appears in the middle of a huge gallery of cosplayers from San Diego Comic-Con.

gender at comic con

(7) OUTFITS FOR YOUR SJW CREDENTIAL. However, Chip Hitchcock is skeptical about the cosplaying cats featured in an NPR story — “For These Cosplayers, Geek Costumes Are The Cat’s Pajamas”

Nak, 13, and Fawkes, 6, have been cosplaying for a little more than a year. They’ve been ambitious. Their social media pages show off more than 50 geeky costumes: Alien, Star Trek, Fallout and Game of Thrones each make an appearance. During the year they’ve been active, they’ve gained a sizable following with nearly 10,000 followers on Twitter and 18,500 on Instagram.

Oh, and just one little thing: Nak and Fawkes are, well, cats.

Chip says, “Nobody discusses what this does to the cats’ psyches. I’m just amazed the cats put up with it; if I tried that with my part-Coon foundling (14+ pounds) I’d draw back a bloody stump.”

(8) EATING THE FANTASTIC. In Episode 14 of Scott Edelman’s podcast he is joined by Fran Wilde, the Nebula Award-winning and Compton Crook Award-winning author of Updraft, plus the host of the Cooking the Books podcast, which has a writers + food focus just like his.

Fran Wilde

Fran Wilde

(9) FROM THE EARTH TO…? Ken Murphy at The Space Review lists dozens of “Stories of cislunar suspense: Literary adventures on the near frontier (part 2)”.

Part 1, last week, examined literature from the 1950s through the 1980s.

1990s

The movement of the Baby Boomer generation into positions of power that began in the 1980s took full flower in the 1990s. This marked a significant shift (but not a real change) in the status quo, and there began the generation of much more ‘product for the marketplace’. Lots of Shuttle stories as we worked through the trauma of Challenger, but also solar power satellite and space station stories. Gen X coded the World Wide Web, while their bosses day-traded their way to enormous prosperity (oh…wait…), and the Millennials were digging Bill Nye the Science Guy. The Soviet Union didn’t so much collapse as dissolve into a new form of corruption and warlord-led tribalism, and this left writers looking for new enemies, from corporate baddies to Asians with cryptic agendas. The Space Shuttle was ramping up its tempo of flights, boldly going where it had gone so many times before, along with operations of Mir and the genesis of ISS.

Fallen Angels, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle & Michael Flynn (1991): in a future where technology is blamed for the world’s ecological ills, those trapped in orbit in the post-space age must struggle to survive. When a scoop ship is shot down, the race is on by the Fen to rescue the crew and return them to orbit. Don’t know Fen? Then this book is probably not for you. But if you’re a devotee of the science fiction writers cons then this book is entirely for you. [GoodReads: 3.49/1,937] …

(10) FIFTH ITERATION. David C. Handley tells why “Pokémon GO Signals New Social Media Paradigm” at SciFi4Me.

There’s just one issue with the current model for social media: it’s purely virtual. The social component has been lost. That means that apart from location data and images and people becoming connected (“friended” or “followed”) or disconnected (“unfriended” or “kicked to the curb”), there’s no way of determining interactions in the real world. The difficulty has always been to integrate physical reality and virtual reality.

Enter augmented reality. Although not a new concept (it’s been used for heads-up displays (HUD) for fighter jets since the 1970s), the smartphone has given it new applications. In Korea a few years back, for example, people could hold a phone camera up and landmarks would be marked on the screen.

Then camePokémon GO.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know by know that Pokémon GO has become … um … big. Really big. No, I mean huge! And it knows no limits. Players of all ages are collecting ’em all. And they’re changing the face of social media by combining the social with the media.

There are two ways that the game has, well, changed the game. The first is the reintroduction of social interaction. Not only do the catching and training of Pokémon cause interaction between players, but the competition and even the very act of searching for the virtual creatures has created peaceful gatherings that have had the feel of makeshift parties. People are meeting new people and making friends, something that was generally absent from the old flash mobs.

(11) NOMINATED NOVEL. Lisa Goldstein began her review of Jim Butcher’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass  with seven things she disliked.

1. Butcher seems to go his own carefree way with many words, heedless of any actual dictionary definitions.  So, for example, the characters in this world live in huge circular towers far above the ground, which he calls “spires” — but spires are tapered or pointed, not cylindrical.  One of the types of airships that sail between the towers is called a “windlass,” which is actually a “device for raising or hauling objects.”  (Yeah, I had to look that one up.)  There are neighborhoods in the spires called spirals, which — as you’ve probably guessed by now — consist of streets in perfectly straight lines.

2. Both female leads are forthright, plucky, and kick-ass, to the point where I started confusing one with the other.  One is rich and small and the other one isn’t and isn’t, and that’s about the only difference I could find between them….

But all is not lost….

(12) GETTING READY TO VOTE. Lis Carey continues her progression through the Hugo-nominated short fiction at Lis Carey’s Library.

(13) MORE THAN YOU CAN SHAKE A STICK AT. JJ posted a bumper crop of short reviews in comments today.

2016 Novel Reading

  • Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold (2016) (Novella)
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong? by Taylor, Jodi (2016)
  • Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel (2016)
  • Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer (2016)
  • Arkwright by Allen Steele (2016)

Leftover Novel Reading

  • Coming Home by Jack McDevitt (2014)
  • Dark Intelligence by Neal Asher (2015)
  • Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald (2015)

(14) BUT WHO GETS TO SIT IN THE CHAIR? Five captains all in one place.

(15) BLACK PANTHER. The Guardian reports “’Bad feminist’ Roxane Gay to write new Marvel Black Panther series”.

“It’s the most bizarre thing I’ve ever done, and I mean that in the best possible way,” Gay told the New York Times. But “the opportunity to write black women and queer black women into the Marvel universe – there’s no saying no to that.”

Her story, she promised, would be “pretty intimate. There’s going to be all kinds of action, but I’m also really excited to show Ayo and Aneka’s relationship, build on that love story, and also introduce some other members of the Dora Milaje … I love being able to focus on women who are fierce enough to fight but still tender enough to love.”

The recruitment of Gay is part of Marvel’s drive to diversify its offering, both in terms of creators and characters. “So. I am writing a comic book series for Marvel,” Gay tweeted, announcing the news. “Black women are also doing the covers and art … And no. It doesn’t make sense that I am the first, in 2016. But I won’t be the last.” She also tweeted that it was likely to come out in November.

(16) MAN WITH A PLAN. At writing.ie,  “Outline Planning Permission: Part 1” by our own Nigel Quinlan.

This summer will be the summer of me learning to PLAN.

No plan survives first contact with your neurons.

Planing is defined in the dictionary as… I dunno, I haven’t a dictionary handy.

Already we’re off to a disastrous start, highlighting my failings as a planner. Had I planned ahead properly then the dictionary would be in reach. I would have overcome my laziness and inertia and fetched a dictionary from a nearby shelf. I would not have forgotten that I am typing this on a computer connected to the internet which has dictionaries in it. I’m a complete mess.

The ultimate aim of this exercise will be to have two proposals to slide onto the desk of my publisher and turn their eyes to pound signs. One will be for a big scary fantasy MG novel, the other will be for a series of MG books utilising ideas I cut from Cloak. Neither of these may be viable or publishable, but I am going to learn how to plan them and present them.

Nigel adds, “Part 2 should be up next week. I wrote it a few weeks ago and I look back now at few-weeks-ago-me and think, you poor sweet summer child.”

(17) WORKING ON THE FIVE W’S. Now fans know where, but not when — “Mystery Science 3000 Revival to Premiere on Netflix”.

Revealed during a panel at SDCC 2016, as reported by THR, the new season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (or MST3K) will be broadcast by streaming giant Netflix, with a tentative start date set for (in a reference to the series’ original theme song) “the not-too-distant future.”

(18) HAMIT WINS. “’Christopher Marlowe’ Script By Francis Hamit Wins Screenplay Category” at Annual Hollywood Book Festival.

Francis Hamit has won the Screenplay category at the 11th Annual Hollywood Book Festival for his soon-to-be-produced script “Christopher Marlowe”. The Elizabethan-era thriller about the poet, playwright and spy has been in development for over six years and is based upon Hamit’s stage play “MARLOWE: An Elizabethan Tragedy”, which was originally presented in Los Angeles in 1988.

It will be directed by Michael John Donahue, DGA, and produced by Gary Kurtz. Negotiations for cast and financing are ongoing.

(19) SOLD TO THE HIGHEST BIDDERS. The Nate Sanders firm completed another auction on July 21.

”Peanuts” comic strip hand-drawn by its creator Charles Schulz, from 9 April 1958. The strip comments on a subject that we think is a modern phenomena, the fact that children can’t concentrate for a long period of time. Here, Schroeder reads that from a book, and Charlie Brown proves its point by watching TV, drawing, playing baseball and paddle ball in the course of four frames. Strip measures 28.75” x 7”. United Feature Syndicate label appears on third frame. Inscribed by Schulz to ”Elizabeth Vaughn and her sixth grade pupils – Charles M Schulz”. Some toning and a light paper backing affixed to verso, overall very good condition.

[Thanks to Nigel Quinlan, Martin Morse Wooster, Dawn Incognito, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Robert Whitaker Sirignano.]

American Gods Teaser Trailer

American Gods brought its “dream team” and cast to the San Diego Comic-Con.

The teaser trailer was shown to fans at SDCC. American Gods will premiere on Starz in January 2017.

[Thanks to JJ for the story.]

2016 Will Eisner Awards

eisnerawards_logo_2Comic-Con International announced the winners of the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards 2016 on July 22.

Best Short Story

  • “Killing and Dying,” by Adrian Tomine, in Optic Nerve #14 (Drawn & Quarterly)
Best Single Issue/One-Shot
  • Silver Surfer #11: “Never After,” by Dan Slott and Michael Allred (Marvel)
Best Continuing Series
  • Southern Bastards, by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour (Image)
Best Limited Series
  • The Fade Out, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Image)
Best New Series
  • Paper Girls, by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang (Image)
Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 8)
  • Little Robot, by Ben Hatke (First Second)
Best Publication for Kids (ages 9-12)
  • Over the Garden Wall, by Pat McHale and Jim Campbell (BOOM! Studios/KaBOOM!)
Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17)
  • SuperMutant Magic Academy, by Jillian Tamaki (Drawn & Quarterly)
Best Humor Publication
  • Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection, by Kate Beaton (Drawn & Quarterly)
Best Digital/Webcomic
  • Bandette, by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover (Monkeybrain/comiXology)
Best Anthology
  • Drawn & Quarterly, Twenty-Five Years of Contemporary, Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels, edited by Tom Devlin (Drawn & Quarterly)
Best Reality-Based Work
  • March: Book Two, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Top Shelf/IDW)
Best Graphic Album—New
  • Ruins, by Peter Kuper (SelfMadeHero)
Best Graphic Album—Reprint
  • Nimona, by Nicole Stevenson (Harper Teen)
Best Adaptation from Another Medium
  • Two Brothers, by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá (Dark Horse)
Best U.S. Edition of International Material
  • The Realist, by Asaf Hanuka (BOOM! Studios/Archaia)
Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia
  • Showa, 1953–1989: A History of Japan, by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly)
Best Archival Collection/Project—Strips
  • The Eternaut, by Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Francisco Solano Lòpez, edited by Gary Groth and Kristy Valenti (Fantagraphics)
Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books
  • Walt Kelly’s Fairy Tales, edited by Craig Yoe (IDW)
Best Writer
  • Jason Aaron, Southern Bastards (Image), Men of Wrath (Marvel Icon), Doctor Strange, Star Wars, Thor (Marvel)
Best Writer/Artist
  • Bill Griffith, Invisible Ink: My Mother’s Secret Love Affair with a Famous Cartoonist
Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team
  • Cliff Chiang, Paper Girls (Image)
Best Painter/Multimedia Artist
  • Dustin Nguyen, Descender (Image)
Best Cover Artist
  • David Aja, Hawkeye, Karnak, Scarlet Witch (Marvel)
Best Coloring
  • Jordie Bellaire, The Autumnlands, Injection, Plutona, Pretty Deadly, The Surface, They’re Not Like Us, Zero (Image); The X-Files (IDW); The Massive (Dark Horse); Magneto, Vision (Marvel)
Best Lettering
  • Derf Backderf, Trashed (Abrams)
Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism
  • Hogan’s Alley, edited by Tom Heintjes (Hogan’s Alley)
Best Comics-Related Book
  • Harvey Kurtzman: The Man Who Created Mad and Revolutionized Humor in America, by Bill Schelly (Fantagraphics)
Best Academic/Scholarly Work
  • The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art, edited by Frances Gateward and John Jennings (Rutgers)
Best Publication Design
  • Sandman Gallery Edition, designed by Graphitti Designs and Josh Beatman/Brainchild Studios (Graphitti Designs/DC)

Named for comics creator the Will Eisner, the awards are celebrating their 28th year of highlighting the best publications and creators in comics and graphic novels.

Other Awards Presented at Ceremony

Hall of Fame Award

  • Carl Burgos
  • Tove Jansson
  • Lynda Barry
  • Rube Goldberg
  • Jacques Tardi
  • Matt Groening

Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing

  • Elliot S! Maggin
  • Richard E. Hughes

Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award

  • The Oatmeal’s Matthew Inman

Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award

  • Orbital Comics & Gallery, Karl Asaa, Damian Keeng & James Wilson, London, UK

Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award

  • Dan Mora

The awards ceremony was hosted by John Barrowman, who stretched his cosplaying wings tonight!

2016 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award Finalists

Five finalists have been chosen from the 20 nominees for this year’s Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award. Judging was held on July 19 at Comic-Con International, and the winner will be announced at tonight’s award ceremony.

The Award is given out yearly to retailers who have done an outstanding job of supporting the comic art medium both in the industry at large and in their local community. Comics fans around the world nominate their favorite stores on the Comic-Con International website.

The 5 finalists for the 2016 award are:

  • Big Bang Comics

John Hendrick, Dublin, Ireland

  • Comikaza

Ori Ayalon and Jacob Sareli, Tel Aviv, Israel

  • Legends Comics & Books

Lloyd Chesley and Gareth Gaudin, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

  • Orbital Comics & Gallery

Karl Asaa, Damian Keeng & James Wilson, London, UK

  • Time Warp Comics and Games

Wayne Winsett, Boulder, CO

This year’s judges were:

  • Trevor Richardson (Diamond Comics)
  • Heidi MacDonald (editor, TheBeat.com)
  • Gina Gagliano (First Second Books)
  • Peter David (writer of stuff)
  • Teresa Colegrove (2015 Retailer Award winner, PackRat Comics, Hilliard, OH)
  • Mike Pellerito (president, Archie Comics)

Pixel Scroll 7/15/16 The Scroll And The Pixelcat Went To Sea In A Seven And Seventy Blog

(1) WRITER BEWARE. If they can’t resolve a matter privately for an author, SFWA’s Grievance Committee will sometimes turn the matter over to another SFWA arm, Writer Beware. Here’s a write-up by Victoria Strauss of a recent investigation into Sky Warrior Books’ use of termination clauses — “How Publishers Abuse Termination Fees; Sky Warrior Books”.

As it happens, Eve is an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. She turned the matter over to SFWA’s Grievance Committee, which has a good record of mediating disputes between authors and publishers. Bonham, however, refused to cooperate, doubling down on her denial of wrongdoing and reiterating her her demand for money. She also accused SFWA and Writer Beware of a dastardly conspiracy:

After all, if we are harmed, you will have participated in the further erosion of independent, small presses, and I can’t believe the rumor that SFWA and Writer Beware are cooperating with the Big Five publishing houses’ efforts to destroy the independents once and for all. Although I did find it curious that Writer Beware’s publisher avoid list is populated exclusively with small presses, often based in rural areas, far from the New York in-crowd.

Damn. And we thought we were being so discreet. Seriously, though, I think Eve’s experience illustrates how publishers can use termination fee clauses to retaliate against authors who displease them. The other authors I heard from who complained about nonpayment had their rights reverted without any demand for money. It’s hard not to conclude that Eve was being punished for having the temerity to hire legal assistance. The other takeaway here is the importance of taking contract language seriously.

(2) AVOIDING SLAUGHTER. Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo beings “This Is Not the Natural State of Things” by quoting someone he went to school with.

Thirty plus years ago I was lucky enough to be one of two poor kids on scholarships in my class at a school for rich kids in a small town in California. The other was the renowned science fiction writer John Scalzi. I just noticed this tweet from him as I was watching a welter of reports about what appears to be yet another terror attack in France.

I don’t think John was talking about the attack but the US election and elections now across the world. But perhaps he was talking about the whole picture in toto.

Autocracy is government based on fear, domination and insecurity. It is of course billed as the opposite. But it is born of these three horsemen and in turn breeds them. One of the shaping thoughts of the generation of actors and thinkers who emerged from the Second World War was the seared perception that stability, trust, peace and virtuous cycles of all sorts are not natural phenomena or human norms. In fact, they are brittle creations and perhaps abnormal in human affairs. Of course, these beliefs and the ambitions and goals which grew out of them led to their own follies. One can jump from 1945 to 1965 and see the wisdom of this recognition leading the same luminaries to walk into a folly of an entirely different kind. The men who built much of the world we live in today also built a world that was perpetually on the brink of cataclysmic nuclear annihlation. Their creation, let us say with some understatement, had real shortcomings….

(3) SCIENCEERS. Lloyd W. Currey has for sale a truly historic document: “(Fanzine History) Glasser, Allen. MINUTES OF THE MEETINGS OF THE SCIENCEERS, 26 APRIL 1930-27 SEPTEMBER 1930”.

[New York?]: Allen Glasser, 26 November 1937. Octavo, 6 leaves plus cover sheet, typewritten copy, brad bound. A possibly unique historic record of the meetings of The Scienceers held from 26 April 1930 to 27 September 1930, documenting the birth of THE PLANET, the first true science fiction fan magazine. During the 14 June meeting the suggestion that a club paper be issued was met with unanimous approval, THE PLANET was chosen as the name of the proposed paper, and the editorial staff was elected. Under the editorship of Allen Glasser a total of six monthly issues dated from July 1930 to December 1930 were produced. The first issue, dated July 1930, was distributed to members at the meeting of 19 July, the August issue was distributed at the 2 August meeting, the September issue was distributed at the 30 August meeting, and the October issue was distributed at the 27 September meeting. The history of The Scienceers is presented concisely by former secretary Allen Glasser in his “explanatory note” dated 26 November 1937: “The Scienceers club was founded Dec. 11, 1929, and its first official meeting was held Jan. 4, 1930. From the latter date to April 26, 1930, when the following records begin, no minutes were kept, since meetings had been held at irregular intervals and the future of the club was uncertain. After the reorganization of April 26, The Scienceers held regular weekly meetings until September 27, 1930. Following that date, the club split into two separate groups, both of which disbanded by the end of the year without keeping any further records.” See Moskowitz, The Immortal Storm, p. 10. Paper stock a bit tanned, else fine. (#155718).  Price: $450.00 

(4) ARCHIBALD PRIZE. Nick Stathopoulos was a runner-up to Louise Hearman for the Archibald Prize for portraits. Stathopoulos is a long-time fan, 10-time winner of the Australian NatCon’s Ditmar Award, and a past Hugo and Chesley Award nominee.

Stathopoulos_SID61293_2560px_jpg_505x507_q85

As Nick told his Facebook followers.

I had to contend with a film crew this morning…filming me not getting the call from the AGNSW. Then I had to go into the AGNSW with film crew knowing I wasn’t the winner. But it was heartening to hear my name mentioned among the final contenders. (I do love Louise’s work though…so I can’t be disgruntled at her win. Well done!)

 

Nick Stathopoulos with portrait.

Nick Stathopoulos with portrait.

The Guardian’s Andrew Frost named Stathopoulos as one of his two preferences to have won.

Louise Hearman’s looming half-figure of Barry Humphries may have scooped the prize, but in a just alternate universe, Nick Stathopoulos’s portrait of Deng Thiak Adut or Marc Etherington’s painting of Ken Done would have been rewarded

Unjustly maligned by some critics for his photorealist style, Stathopoulos’s subject, Deng Thiak Adut – a former Sudanese child solider who came to Australia, graduated law school and now works as a refugee advocate – has the kind of back story that would normally guarantee entry into the prize.

But it is also a commanding picture that contrasts areas of detail such as the face, skin and hair that are rendered photorealistically with a neutral grey background and white shirt. Not only does the picture go against the grain of the faux-expressionist impasto painting that remains popular, but it also demonstrates that the Art Gallery of New South Wales trustees can spot a good picture when they see one.

The 51 finalists are shown here.

The gallery’s description of Stathopoulos’ painting reads:

Sudanese refugee and lawyer Deng Adut came to the attention of Nick Stathopoulos through an advertisement for Western Sydney University, where Adut was a graduate. It movingly documented how he came to Australia following life as a child soldier in Sudan and how he put himself through law school, becoming a formidable refugee advocate and community leader.

Despite his increasingly busy schedule, Adut agreed to sit for Stathopoulos. ‘You really need to have the subject there in front of you to capture that life-spark and commanding presence. Those eyes, those scars, tell a story that no ad could ever convey,’ says the artist.

The portrait took over four months to complete, more time than Stathopoulos has ever spent on any single painting. ‘I’m actually a very traditional practitioner by choice. I’ve spent my entire life developing my style and process. What I do is time-consuming, laborious and painstaking,’ he says.

Born in Paddington, Sydney in 1959, Stathopoulos is a self-taught artist, known for his hyper-realistic style, particularly his paintings of his childhood toy collection. This is his fifth time as an Archibald finalist. He has also been a finalist in the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize twice. His portrait of Robert Hoge, Ugly, won the People’s Choice Award in the 2014 Salon des Refusés and was a finalist in the 2015 BP Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery in London. He is a finalist in the 2016 Shirley Hannan Portrait Prize.

(5) SULMAN PRIZE. Announced around the same time is the winner of the Sulman prize for subject, genre or mural painting. Judged by artist Judy Watson, the winner was Esther Stewart’s Flatland Dreaming.

Based in part on Edwin Abbott’s 19th century proto-science fiction novel, the work charts the zone between abstraction and figuration, deftly conflating dimensional space that the eye tries to unpack.

 

Flatland Dreaming

(6) RICK AND MORTY. The Rick and Morty Simulator is coming to Comic-Con. Dawn Incognito sent these lines —

Wanna try it first-hand? For those of you able to make it to San Diego Comic Con, we’ll be at Adult Swim On The Green with HTC Vives in tow!

July 21st-24th from 11am – 6pm Located behind the Convention Center at Convention Way & 5th Ave Pier

Rick and Morty Simulator: Virtual Rick-ality smashes together the absolute VR chaos of the award-winning Job Simulator with the ridiculous, all-out, take-no-prisoners comedy of Rick and Morty. And now, for the worldwide, earth-shattering gameplay teaser reveal:

 

(7) FARINI OBIT. Corrado Farini: Italian film drrector, actor, died 11 July, aged 77. Best known for Baba Yaga (1973, aka The Devil Witch and Kiss Me, Kill Me), which he adapted from Guido Crepax’s comics and had a cameo appearance as a Nazi.

(8) NINTENDO REVIVAL. Nintendo is launching the NES classic Mini in November.

According to the site NintendoLife the mini NES Classic Edition will cost $59.99. It will be loaded with 30 classic games and it comes with a NES controller.

Here are a few of the 30 games that will be pre-loaded:

Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong Jr.
Mario Bros.
PAC-MAN
Super Mario Bros.
TECMO BOWL
The Legend of Zelda

(9) HUGO REVIEWS. David Steffen is reviewing Hugo-nominated fiction at Diabolical Plots. The latest is — Hugo Novelette Review: “Obits” by Stephen King

(10) THREE MINUTES OF MAKING ROGUE ONE. SciFiNow says this “sizzle reel” was shown on the first day at Star Wars Celebration.

[Thanks to Dawn Incognito, Mark-kitteh, Steve Green, Cat Rambo, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]

Pixel Scroll 7/9/16 Snort, Harlequin, Said the Ear, Nose, Throat Man

(1) HEARTS MADE OF TIN. David Brin says robots will be so charming they won’t have to conquer us physically, in “Endearing Visages”.

I’ve been pondering Artificial Intelligence or AI a lot, lately, with several papers and reviews pending. (Indeed, note who is one of the ‘top ten people followed by AI researchers.’) One aspect that’s far too-little discussed is how robots are being designed to mess with human emotions.

Long before artificial intelligences become truly self-aware or sapient, they will be cleverly programmed by researchers and corporations to seem that way. This – it turns out – is almost trivially easy to accomplish, as (especially in Japan) roboticists strive for every trace of appealing verisimilitude, hauling their creations across the temporary moat of that famed “uncanny valley,” into a realm where cute or pretty or sad-faced automatons skillfully tweak our emotions.

Human empathy is both one of our paramount gifts and among or biggest weaknesses. For at least a million years, we’ve developed skills at lie-detection (for example) in a forever-shifting arms race against those who got reproductive success by lying better!  (And yes, there was always a sexual component to this.)

But no liars ever had the training that these new, Hiers or Human-Interaction Empathic Robots will get, learning via feedback from hundreds, then thousands, then millions of human exchanges around the world, adjusting their simulated voices and facial expressions and specific wordings, till the only folks able to resist will be sociopaths. (And sociopaths have plenty of chinks in their armor, as well.)

(2) READERCON. A lot of good tweets coming out of Readercon this weekend. Here’s a small sampling.

(3) THE TWINKIE OFFENSE. Hostess has marketed two new Twinkie flavors to celebrate the release of the new Ghostbusters movie — Key Lime Slime and White Fudge Marshmallow.

The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man wouldn’t be able to contain himself! Or maybe he would — isn’t that kind of like cannibalism? Either way, if you like marshmallows, you are going to like these Twinkies.

Key Lime Green Slime Twinkies

GBWhiteFudgeMarshmallowTwinkiesByHostessSc01 COMP(4) FEZ CLAIM TO FAME. Closed for renovation in 2012, the world’s oldest library in Morocco reopened this year.

A wealthy Tunisian merchant’s daughter, Fatima al-Fihri, founded al-Qarawiyyin University as a mosque in 859 CE. By the 10th century, Atlas Obscura reports, it grew into a full-fledged university with a library. Today, it’s considered to be the world’s oldest existing and continually operating institute of higher education, as well as the first degree-awarding educational institution. Eventually, the University of al-Qarawiyyin moved to another location in Fez, but the mosque and library remained at the original site.

(5) CROTCHETY DOESN’T MEAN WRONG. Steve Davidson has a point – “Pay for the Privilege” at Amazing Stories.

…sometimes a new way of doing things comes along and it is Just. Not. Right.

Take the internet as a perfect example.

Why are we all still individually paying for it?

It watches and records us without our consent.  Data miners have found all manner of ways to entice us into revealing even more behaviors and data through the internet of things.  Those useful, free apps and games aren’t really free, are they?

Aggregated data and its derivatives are both earning and saving business concerns billions of dollars annually.  And we’re just in the infancy of this technology.

(6) MONKEYING AROUND. Those with Facebook accounts might get a kick out of the Turner Classic Movies video of Dr. Zaius sharing stories about working with Charlton Heston on the set of Planet of the Apes.

Dr. Zaius

Dr. Zaius

(7) NOT AS ANIMATED AS THEY USED TO BE. How old are your favorite cartoon characters? Artist Andrew Tarusov has created a gallery of favorites who show their age.

(8) PHYSICIST WHO DID FANAC. Sidney Coleman remembered on the Not Even Wrong blog.

A couple months ago there was a session at an APS meeting with the topic Sidney Coleman Remembered. Slides are available for talks by Coleman’s student Erick Weinberg and colleague Howard Georgi. Georgi has recently posted a written version of the talk here. He also a few years ago wrote this biographical memoir about Coleman for the National Academy of Sciences.

David Derbes and collaborators [see comment section for details] are putting together a book version of Coleman’s famous lectures on quantum field theory, hope to be finished with this by the end of the summer.

Coleman was a long-time Boston fan and a founder of Advent:Publishers.

Sidney, Dave Kyle and James White at the 1987 Worldcon in Brighton. Photo taken and copyright by Andrew Porter.

Sidney, Dave Kyle and James White at the 1987 Worldcon in Brighton. Photo taken and copyright by Andrew Porter.

(9) FEYNMAN TALES. Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek writes in Quanta Magazine “How Feynman Diagrams Almost Saved Space”. The story begins in 1982 when Wilczek asked Feynman, “Why doesn’t empty space weigh anything?”

I asked Feynman the most disturbing question in physics, then as now: “There’s something else I’ve been thinking a lot about: Why doesn’t empty space weigh anything?”

Feynman, normally as quick and lively as they come, went silent. It was the only time I’ve ever seen him look wistful. Finally he said dreamily, “I once thought I had that one figured out. It was beautiful.” And then, excited, he began an explanation that crescendoed in a near shout: “The reason space doesn’t weigh anything, I thought, is because there’s nothing there!”

(10) BEAGLE COMING TO SDCC. Peter S. Beagle will be at Comic Con 2016, participating in a panel entitled “Creating Your Own Universe”, in addition to signing autographs and meeting fans at his table.

His first novel in well over a decade, Summerlong, will be released September 15 on Tachyon.

(11) SULU STILL BEING DEBATED. Adam-Troy Castro answered a reply to his post about Sulu being revealed as a gay character in Star Trek Beyond.

Concerned STAR TREK fan in a thread, on the revelation of Sulu’s sexuality:

“It is also pointless for the story to just make the character gay for no other reason than to be so. Is important to the plot? Does it advance the story somehow? This is ultimately the only way it would make sense.”

What you’re talking about is the principle of Chekhov’s Gun. Not Pavel Chekov, but Anton Chekhov, who held that if you put a gun on the mantelpiece in one scene, then at some point somebody was going to have to take it down and fire it.

What perplexes is just how any STAR TREK character’s homosexuality could possibly “be important to the plot” or “advance the story somehow.”….

In the original series, one crew member being Asian, another being Scottish, another being a southern gentleman, another being Russian, another being African, was all texture. It was there, and then for the most part unremarked-upon, because Gene Roddenberry wanted to establish, within the boundaries of his time, that in the far future he wished to present, this was nothing unusual. (And even then, we had manifestations of his time’s near-sightedness, as when Janice Lester bitterly complains that the profession of starship captains is closed to women.)

Similarly, that brief shot of Sulu’s husband does not “advance the plot;” chances are that there will be no action climax where the ship can only be saved by the two of them having sex atop the warp nacelles. It does, however, provide more texture to the hypothetical universe around them, by establishing for the first time ever that Sulu has a personal life, that he must leave his family behind every time he goes on some mission for Kirk’s glory, that in the utopian world where he lives a marriage like his is just something that exists and that it is not remarked-upon as unusual, by anyone.

Texture….

(12) ALL’S QUIET ON THE DRAGON FRONT. Nominations for the inaugural Dragon Awards close on July 25, just a little over two weeks from now. If anybody’s excited about that, they’re mostly keeping it a secret from the internet.

Declan Finn wrote a long post about what to vote for so that he could ask people to nominate his book Honor at Stake (which is absolutely fine under the rules). Then he used the Sad Puppies list as a memory prompt for the rest of his suggestions.

Alfred Gennesson’s picks for the new Dragon Awards led off with John C. Wright, Larry Correia, and Rod Walker (published by Castalia House). Then he signed off with these thoughts —

I like the Dragon Awards already. Quality indicators for the year are going to be more honest than Hugo/Nebula, just in nomination process. And those ignore games. When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Two other writers are looking for support on Twitter —

However, since June 1, the only tweets about the Dragon Awards other than from people already mentioned were generic calls to vote from Larry Correia and Daddy Warpig.

(13) FELAPTON SPEAKS. Camestros Felapton reviews all five Hugo-nominated Novellas.

I think this is one of the most interesting categories this year. Each one of the nominees is a plausible candidate as a finalist but there isn’t a real stand-out winner. Three out of the five are by well-established writers and two are by newer writers. The least good (IMHO) has some excellent writing and made me want to read more by the same author. The best felt lacking in places and didn’t hit knock-your-socks-off great.

(14) STATE OF MIND. The Publishers Weekly story poses the question “Was Philip K. Dick a Madman or a Mystic?”, but do we really have to ask?

In The Divine Madness of Philip K. Dick, Kyle Arnold delves into the complicated psyche of one of the 20th century’s most important writers. At the center of the subject is the profound vision Dick experienced in 1974, which he referred to as “2-3-74.” Arnold, a psychologist at Coney Island Hospital and Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, explains the experience and its significance.

In February of 1974, Philip K. Dick was home recovering from dental surgery when, he said, he was suddenly touched by the divine. The doorbell rang, and when Dick opened the door he was stunned to see what he described as a “girl with black, black hair and large eyes very lovely and intense” wearing a gold necklace with a Christian fish symbol. She was there to deliver a new batch of medications from the pharmacy. After the door shut, Dick was blinded by a flash of pink light and a series of visions ensued. First came images of abstract paintings, followed by philosophical ideas and then, sophisticated engineering blueprints. Dick believed the pink light was a spiritual force which had unlocked his consciousness, granting him access to esoteric knowledge.

(15) ASIMOV SINGS! Fanac.org has uploaded a third segment of  sound recording of the 1971 Hugo Banquet at Noreascon.

Banter and badinage from Robert Silverberg and Isaac Asimov, and the awarding of the Hugos. Asimov sings!

 

(16) RENT LONG AND PROSPER. Treknews featured this movie-related promotion.

In the commercial, entitled “Business Is Going Boldly,” Enterprise employees are shown beaming, speaking Klingon in the break room and renting the Starship Enterprise to customers.

Remember, the Romulans always get the damage waiver.

As we’ve previously reported, select Enterprise locations will have Star Trek related signage, plus Enterprise airport shuttle buses in New York City and Philadelphia will be wrapped with images of the U.S.S. Enterprise and the phrase: “Until We Can Beam You Up, We’ll Pick You Up”.

The dialect jokes are amusing, but should Enterprise Rent-A-Car really be renting starships to Klingons?

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson. (OK Steve – now it’s up to you whether you record a hat trick.)]

Pixel Scroll 7/3/16 All Blogs Go To Heaven

(1) CENTURIES. Marcelo Rinesi at Tactical Awareness offers an unusual free read – 100 Stories in 100 Words.

This books is a free collection of a hundred SF short stories (we live, as Warren Ellis remarks, in the Science Fiction Condition), each of them exactly one hundred words as reported by my text editor — if a piece of software says it, it must be true —, a self-imposed constraint I chose out of the same worrisome tendencies that made me need to do it in the first place.

It’s very weird, this world we’re building, with no overarching plot, some very unsettling corners, and no other moral lesson than with hindsight, it does look like something we would do, doesn’t it? If this book reflects at least part of it, I’ll think myself well rewarded for the time I put in it, and I hope you will too.

Here’s an example:

The Collectors

There’s a storm of happy notifications coming from your phone.

Somebody’s buying every last one of your paintings, so quickly that markets haven’t adjusted.

Quickly enough that they’ll have bought all of them before the ambulance gets to your cabin. The gunshot wound will have killed you before that anyway.

Maybe it’s the shock, but what enrages you is that they are going to destroy all of your paintings. All but one, which will become valuable enough to pay for the whole schema, assassin included.

You hope they at least pick the right one.

Click the link to access the PDF file.

(2) STELLAR IDEA. James Davis Nicoll’s line on Facebook was, “I can see no way that deliberately bombarding the Earth from space could go horribly wrong.”

National Geographic says “Get Ready for Artificial Meteor Showers”.

Natural meteor showers occur when Earth plows through trails of debris shed by passing comets. When this celestial schmutz slams into our atmosphere at breakneck speeds, the debris burns up and creates fiery streaks of light.

Now, if a Japanese start-up called ALE has its way, a satellite capable of generating artificial meteor showers will be in orbit sometime in the next two years. From 314 miles (500 kilometers) above Earth’s surface, the orbiter will shoot metal spheres the size of blueberries into the upper atmosphere.

As these particles move across the sky at roughly 17,400 miles (28,000 kilometers) an hour, the spheres will burn into brilliant crisps—painting the night with colorful streaks on demand….

(3) THE TRUTH IS NOT OUT THERE. Don’t rely on what you’re hearing, says the director. “Fuller: Trek Gossip Rated ‘Pants On Fire’”.

Bryan Fuller won’t share too many details of the new Star Trek series, reportedly saving them for San Diego Comic-Con next month. But what he can say is all that gossip originating from a blog with unverified and uncorroborated information? Totally not true.

Fuller, the former “Star Trek: Voyager” writer who will serve as showrunner for the CBS All Access series, says reports that circulated over the spring that set his show after “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” and before “Star Trek: The Next Generation” is false. Also false? The fact that the new series would be an anthology show.

In fact, Fuller said reading the various reports online about the show makes him almost wish there was a Politifact for rumors. Then he could check the accuracy and rate them on a varying scale between true and false.

“It’s interesting to see those suggestions, and seeing the truth mixed in with them, and going like, ‘Oh, they got that part right,'” Fuller told Moviefone’s Scott Huver. “But it’s sort of on the Truth-o-Meter on Politifact. It’s sort of like some truth, and a lot of like, ‘No, pants on fire! That’s not true.'”

(4) LEGION. Yahoo! Style reveals – “Another Marvel character just got their own TV show and we have our first look”.

Legion, a new series coming FX, centers around a character struggling with mental illness — and his own mutant powers. In the comics David Haller, played in the new series by Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens, is the son of Professor Charles Xavier and shares his father’s telepathic abilities.

In the television series, Haller will think the voices in his head are a symptom of mental illness, likely because in this universe (which is not the same as the universe of the X-Men films, but a parallel one) the public doesn’t know mutants exist. In fact, the U.S. government is only just becoming aware of them — so it’s natural for Heller not to realize he has superhuman powers.

(5) FINNCON. GoH Catherynne M. Valente at Finncon 2016. The committee says they drew 4000 visitors this weekend.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 3, 1985 — George Romero’s Day of the Dead is seen for the first time.
  • July 3, 1985 Back to the Future released, features 1981 DeLorean DMC-12

(7) UNIFORM CODE OF MILITARY JUSTICE. You can admire photos of Kevin Standlee in character as Col. Chinstrap, with his aide (Lt. Hayes) and orderly (Pvt. Bear), in his Livejournal post about the second day of Westercon.

Here we are in full outfits. As we went by the SJ in 2018 bid table, a person (we don’t remember who and don’t want to remember) came over and insisted that the little bronze cannon on the Colonel’s pith helmet was a “representation of a weapon” and thus prohibited by the hotel weapon’s policy and that we would have to take the hat back to our room.

(8) ASCENT OF MAN. Lou Antonelli ponders his recent history as a user of social media in a “Causerie on reaching 3,000 Facebook Friends” at This Way To Texas.

First off, Facebook is a necessary evil. There are a myriad of social platforms today, the proliferation of which is leading America towards a collective nervous breakdown. People are too distracted and have the attention span – maybe – of a cocker spaniel. And as I have said before, we knew in the past men did not possess telepathy because if we knew what we were thinking about each other, we’d be at each other’s throats. Well, the internet has accomplished that anyway, and we are indeed at each other’s throats – figuratively. Only time will tell if we implode into a full scale shooting civil war, in which case the figurative will have become the literal.

It’s not my strategy to quote entire posts, so let me assure you of finding many other lively opinions therein.

(9) FUTURE UNGUESSED. At SF Crowsnest, Geoff Willmets returns to a perennial question: “Editorial – July 2016: Can Science Fiction go any further than it is today”.

Reading ‘Cyberpunk Women, Feminism And Science Fiction by Carlen Lavigne’ last month made me realise once again that it’s been a long time since the last major attempt at change or addition to Science Fiction. My observations there that the real failure of cyberpunk, itself marketed since 1984, was because Ian Gibson took the tactic that young people would eventually rebel at computer tech taking over their lives when, as reality has shown, they have not only embraced but now can’t live without it. No major dissenters. No rebellion. No attacks on authority, be it corporation or government for privacy invasion, let alone taking over their lives. SF put up the markers and both sides are a little cautious or haven’t totally strayed into that area, with maybe the exception of China and some other dictatorial states. Well, not yet, anyway and the security services elsewhere don’t admit how much they can access so people tend to forget it. Those that fall into that category are either lone wolves or some rogue government wanting to stir things up but I doubt if it’s done for the dislike of computer software.

(10) PREDICTING THE PRESENT. Andrew Liptak seems to agree with Willmets about the arrangement of the literary map, but he is not disappointed with it — “How science fiction writers predicted virtual reality”.

What has set these novels apart from their peers is the ability of their authors to comprehend not the underlying technology itself, but how it is utilized by its users. Moreover, these authors have largely imagined not just their virtual worlds, but the real world that supports their use, depicting bleak, corporate-driven universes that feel not too unlike our own.

(11) NINEFOX. At Lady Business, renay reviews Ninefox Gambit in “Let’s Get Literate! Don’t Trust a Fox (Unless it’s a Robot Fox)”.

The society and political structure in Ninefox Gambit, known as the hexarchate, is one formed and held together by a version of advanced, far-future mathematics (i.e. magic) that allows a large society to create their own version of reality through a rigid belief system. And, okay, it’s not exactly math. But it has rules, like math has rules, so it’s a lot easier for me to think of it as mathematical. The book calls this system a calendar. Calendrical rot, which we’re introduced to in the first chapter, is what happens when another large group grows big and influential enough to create their own reality by believing something different. This creates a situation in which reality itself (depending on which calendar you’re standing in) doesn’t work right. Things go all wonky, weapons don’t work, and it’s a great big mess. The hexarchate is very interested in ensuring their dominance so their calendar and the six factions that operate under it remain the greatest calendar in all the universe. It’s an old story: people in power want to stay in power or want more power.

But wait! There’s a twist! There’s a heretical calendar afoot and it comes in the form of democracy and the captured-by-heretics Fortress of Scattered Needles.

For me, this is hard science fiction, because Ninefox Gambit is playing with how reality is formed and how we relate to one another on a system of time and in space. Ignoring the fact that the math and science in this novel are currently impossible, that’s enough for me to go, “well, this is a challenge to HOW WE PERCEIVE REALITY as a concept, that’s a logical problem, logic is math, there’s also sociology and psychology and philosophy mixed in, OMG THIS IS HARD SCIENCE FICTION.” Ask someone who didn’t fail every math class after 4th grade, and this is science fantasy, especially if you read “actual” hard science fiction. I don’t, because it’s often written by cisgender straight men who are like “women are people who can do things in novels besides be objects? That sounds fake but okay.” So yeah, I don’t read a lot of “proper” hard science fiction, with “real” math and science and that influences my reading of this novel. Bias disclosed!

(12) EAST MEETS WEST. Charles Stross and Cat Rambo at Westercon.

Had to get a pic with Charlie's shirt!

A photo posted by Cat Rambo (@specfic) on

(13) GAIMAN ON LATE NIGHT. A couple weeks ago, Neil Gaiman was on Late Night with Seth Meyers and they talked about the American Gods TV adaptation.

(14) THE FLAMING C. Conan O’Brien will return to San Diego Comic-Con again this year, and interview the cast of Suicide Squad.

Last year O’Brien’s “Conacon” trip to SDCC produced some big laughs as he spoofed popular titles like Mad Max: Fury Road and brought his signature style of sarcastic, self-deprecating humor to everything from interviews with the cast of Game of Thrones to getting his own Conan superhero, The Flaming C, courtesy of Warner Bros. animator Bruce Timm. This year will likely boast even more laugh-out-loud moments as well as a huge amount of attention, given the comedian’s intention to interview the cast of Suicide Squad. Billed as social media’s most talked about movie of 2016, O’Brien’s sense of humor should provide an interesting and undoubtedly hilarious boost to Suicide Squad’s hype.

(15) THE PERMANENT THRONE CAMPAIGN. Emily Nussbaum tells why the just-ended season of Game of Thrones fits in so well with the election coverage in “The Westeros Wing”.

In the colossal, bloody, flawed, exhausting, occasionally intoxicating phenomenon that is “Game of Thrones,” the best bits are often moments like this: seductive mini-meditations on politics that wouldn’t be out of place in “Wolf Hall,” if “Wolf Hall” had ice zombies, or “Veep,” if “Veep” featured babies getting eaten by dogs. Season 6, which ended on Sunday, to the usual celebration and fury, and with the usual viral memes, and with corpses mangled (I assume, since HBO didn’t give me a screener), felt perversely relevant in this election year. It was dominated by debates about purity versus pragmatism; the struggles of female candidates in a male-run world; family dynasties with ugly histories; and assorted deals with various devils.

(16) BREWERS WITH SECRET IDENTITIES. David Mulvihill’s column about Southern California beers in the June/July Celebrator Beer News discusses Unsung Brewing, which is in Tustin but because of weird California reasons has their tasting room in Anaheim. The brewery was founded by Michael Crea.

Crea, an avid comic book fan when he was growing up. has incorporated the comics theme in his brewery’s branding and point of view. Beer nerd meets comic book nerd, as each beer takes the name of an unsung hero. Each backstory is created around the hero’s ingredients and its namesake’s alter ego or super power.  Look for quarterly releases of comics telling their heroes’ full stories, with artwork from local artists. See how Propeller-Head travels the world in search of the best coffee. How about the adventures of Buzzman’s battles with the yard beast?  Learn also about two female IPA heroes: Sylvan’s quest to save forests decimated by  big business and oil, and Anthia’s mission to help pollinate the earth’s fruit trees because of pesticide-related diminishment of bee and insect populations,  A prominent wall mural of Buzzman fighting the yard beast will be displayed in Unsung’s tasting room, which will be expected to open in early June.

The Unsung Brewing website has a section called “Credo” in which they explain why they’re all comics geeks.

We were raised on Batman. We came of age with the Incredible Hulk. We wore out our Spidey Super Stories LP. Hero mythology runs through our veins and flows through our glycol chiller. Digging deeper, we see super-traits in the unsung heroes of everyday life. From service men and women, firefighters and doctors, to friends and family who practice small acts of kindness and sacrifice– real life heroes surround us. We are dedicated to honoring these unsung heroes through philanthropy, and hope to inspire the hero in all of us.

(17) BY JUPITER 2. Lost in Space is getting rebooted by Netflix.

It’ll be interesting to see just how the new incarnation of the story is adapted on Netflix, especially with one of the executive producers behind Prison Break. Other rebooted science fiction television shows such as Battlestar Galactica have returned with a far more serious take than their original source material, and Netflix noted that this new version would be ready to please fans of the original show while bringing in modern audiences. A dark, modern drama is certainly something Netflix can deliver to viewers, but hopefully, they’ll keep the classic phrase “Danger, Will Robinson,” somewhere in there.

“I wonder if they will get John Williams to do the score?” asks John King Tarpinian.

 [Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day RedWombat.]

Pixel Scroll 6/28/16 The Right To Scroll Pixels Is The Right to Be Free

(1) LEARNING SPACE. Steve Davidson has a fine interview with Jim C. Hines about the Launch Pad Academy Workshop.

Steve Davidson for Amazing Stories Magazine: How did you hear about the Launch Pad Workshop?

Jim C. Hines: I heard about it years ago online — I think it might have been the Speculations writing boards, back when it was still active. At the time, I didn’t feel qualified to apply, in part because I was only writing fantasy.

But I kept an eye on how it was going from year to year, as well as the comments and reports from other attendees.

ASM:  Was it a program you always wanted to participate in or was your interest piqued when you learned about it?

JCH: I’ve been interested in attending ever since I heard about the program, but there was the combination of needing to be able to leave for a week without causing difficulties with work or at home, and having a project where I thought the knowledge would be useful. This year, I’ve started working on my first SF trilogy, and I’d quit my day job last fall, so the timing was perfect.

ASM: How would you describe your familiarity with astronomy, cosmology, etc., prior to attending?

JCH: I think I had some basic foundational knowledge, but most of it wasn’t anything I’d studied in depth. I knew enough to answer most of my kids’ basic questions about space, which astronomical bodies orbit one another, how the seasons work, and so on. And I’d read Douglas Adams, so I knew space was big. Really big.

(2) WOMEN IN SF, 1961. At Galactic Journey, in “[June 28, 1961] The Second Sex in SFF, Part IV”, The Traveler issues an invitation to increase our history of the genre:

Come meet six of these lady authors, four of whom are quite new, and two who are veterans in this, Part IV, of The Second Sex in SFF.

The six are Kit Reed, Jane Dixon Rice, Jane Roberts (the only woman invited for the first science-fiction writers conference in Milford, PA – I didn’t know that), Joanna Russ, Evelyn Smith, and Margaret St. Clair.

(3) YOUR HOUSE IN NORTH AMERICA. At Tor.com, Emily Asher-Perrin has scouted Pottermore for the latest additions: “Get Sorted Into Ilvermorny, the American Hogwarts!”

A ton of new information on the North American magic school, Ilvermorny, was just dropped onto Pottermore. But that’s not all! You can now get Sorted into the various Houses (if you have a Pottermore account, so sign on up).

As a reminder, the four Ilvermorny Houses are Horned Serpent, Wampus, Pukwudgie, and Thunderbird! Here is where you go for the Sorting, provided you have a Pottermore account. (I got Horned Serpent, which seems to be the brainy house? Not what I expected.) These Houses don’t break down quite the same way the Hogwarts ones do; instead, they are associated as follows….

 

(4) HOLD THAT TIGER. Lisa Goldstein reviews another Hugo nominee at inferior4 + 1 “Short Story: ‘Seven Kill Tiger’”.

This review contains spoilers.

“Seven Kill Tiger” by Charles Shao is a disturbing story, but maybe not for the reasons the author thinks.  We start with a deeply unpleasant main character, Zhang Zedong, a company man sent from China to Zambia who needs to improve his production numbers and who is prone to thinking things like “Africa would be a glorious place were it not for the Africans.”  “What he needed was more Han people,” he thinks, and the solution he comes up with is to wipe out the native population of Africa using genetic warfare.

(5) BEST FANCAST. Joe Sherry is “Listening to the Hugos: Fancast” for Nerds of a Feather.

Admission of Bias Time: The longer the podcast, the less interested I am in listening to it. 30 minutes is my sweet spot, I’m comfortable up to an hour, and the farther a podcast goes past an hour the less interested I become, even when the topic and conversation is interesting. Most of the episodes of 8-4 Play run over 90 minutes, with a not insignificant number running over 120 minutes.

8-4 Play did not include links to recommended episodes, so I pulled one from 2015 that was focusing on some video games I was interested in (Zelda and Dragon Quest). 30 minutes later, I was done. 8-4 Play is a video game focused podcast, and it took way too long for the hosts to actually start talking about the games. The opening seemed more focused on refreshing each other what they’ve been up to than moving on to the games. Now, first main section on one guy’s Retro Collection was okay (and I love me some old school games) and they were only just moving into Fallout 4 by the time I gave up on the podcast, so maybe there is solid game talk and a reason why I should consider listening to 8-4 Play in the future, but this particular episode is more than two hours long and that’s really tough for me to overcome, and given that for this particular episode the hosts took waaaaaay too long getting to the meat, I won’t be coming back to it. Perhaps I selected the wrong episode and perhaps I should have skipped forward to the 38 minute mark, but perhaps this podcast is simply not for me. Pass.

(6) OBAMA’S TAKE ON STAR WARS. In the series “Conversations With Tyler,”  Tyler Cowen interviews Cass Sunstein about his Star Wars book. The Star Wars geekery begins at about 18:00 and continues to about 40:00, and all of the audience questions are about Star Wars. (There’s also a full text transcript available.) Many examples of the public policy ramifications of Star Wars are discussed, and at one point Sunstein, who served in the Obama administration as chief regulator of the Office of Management and Budget, reveals that he asked President Obama about which Star Wars movie was his favorite and argued with his boss that The Empire Strikes Back was better than A New Hope.

(7) WEDDING. Congratulations to Becky Thomson and Tom Veal, who married on June 25 in Ft. Collins, Colorado.

(8) KYRA IS BACK. Mini-reviews from Kyra today:

Airplane read #1: In the Time of Dragon Moon, by Janet Lee Carey (here)

Airplane read #2: The Wrath & The Dawn, by Renee Ahdieh (here)

Airplane read #3: Kingfisher, by Patricia McKillip (here)

Airplane Read #4: I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson (here)

Airplane Read #5: A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend, by Emily Horner (not SFF) (here)

Airplane Read #6 (last one!): Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, by Elizabeth Moon (here)

(9) ENTERPRISE DUE TO LEAVE DRYDOCK. NPR has a progress report: “Smithsonian Sets Phasers To Restore On Original Starship Enterprise”.

Sorry to disappoint Trekkies who still believe, but the actual USS Enterprise did not really take up much space.

That famous starship of Mr. Spock and Capt. James Tiberius Kirk in the original Star Trek TV series — which turns 50 this year — was a model. Quite a large one, to be fair: 11 feet long and about 200 lbs., made out of blow-molded plastic and wood. But not life-sized.

And for more than a decade, it hung in the gift shop of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space museum in Washington, D.C.

“From a conservator’s standpoint, that is probably one of the worst places to put an artifact,” says Malcolm Collum, the chief conservator of the National Air and Space Museum….

On Tues., June 28, the USS Enterprise will reach its final frontier beside other famous and historical aircraft in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • June 28, 1926 – Mel Brooks. He’d like to make Spaceballs 2.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • June 28, 1979 — Felicia Day

(12) THE ACTOR IS IN. At the invitation of Samantha Bee (Full Frontal), “David Tennant Unleashes His Inner Time Lord On Donald Trump”

The “Full Frontal“ host called on Scottish actor David Tennant to read a series of anti-Trump tweets that his fellow countrymen posted after the real estate magnate erroneously said they were “going wild“ for Brexit.

In contrast to the United Kingdom as a whole, the majority of Scots actually voted to remain inside the European Union.

By proxy, “Jessica Jones“ star Tennant called Trump a “wiggy slice,” “weapons-grade plum” and “ludicrous tangerine ball bag” in the segment that aired Monday.

 

(13) HOWARD DAYS. Keith West delivers a “Report on Howard Days 2016” at Adventures Fantastic.

Howard Days has grown, something that was emphasized since this year marked the 30th anniversary of the first Howard Days.  While things officially don’t start until Friday, people are showing up on Wednesday evenings.  Space is becoming a consideration, with events this year moved from the library to the high school auditorium or the Senior Center across the street from the library.  There were a number of new attendees, which is always a healthy thing for an event, and I’m not referring the 10,000 or so mosquitoes that showed up.There were multiple anniversaries, such as the first Frazetta cover on a Lancer paperback and both the publication and film version of Novalyne Price Ellis’s memoir, One Who Walked Alone (filmed as The Whole Wide World).

There have been some excellent reports on the 2016 Howard Days, such as this one by Lee Breakiron and this one by David Piske.  Also, Ben Friberg has uploaded Mark Finn’s interview with guest Michael Scott Myers and the boxing panel to YouTube.  I expect there will be more videos coming.  I’ll not repeat what they’ve said, especially since I don’t trust my memory on some of the details and didn’t make some of the panels that they did.  Rather I’ll focus on some personal highlights…..

(14) ENCELADUS. Scientific American discusses why “Excitement Builds for the Possibility of Life on Enceladus”.

Saturn’s frozen moon Enceladus is a tantalizing world—many scientists are increasingly convinced it may be the best place in our solar system to search for life. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, currently orbiting Saturn, has made intriguing observations of icy jets spewing from a suspected underground liquid ocean on the mysterious world that might be hospitable to alien life.

Cassini’s tour is due to wind down in 2017, and scientists badly want to send a dedicated mission to Enceladus to look for signs of life. In fact, some have already started seriously thinking about exactly how they might do this—including planetary scientist Carolyn Porco, who is the imaging team leader for Cassini. Earlier this month, she gathered a group of researchers including oceanographers, organic chemists and astrobiologists at the University of California, Berkeley, to strategize how to search for extraterrestrials on Enceladus—which, according to Porco, “is a total bitch of a problem to solve.”

Although Enceladus is small in size and shrouded in a thick shell of ice, it appears to be a habitable world: It has a source of energy from friction created by its orbit around Saturn, organic compounds that are building blocks for life and a liquid water ocean underneath all that ice. But just because Enceladus may be hospitable to life does not mean life exists there; it will take much more work to definitively prove it.

(15) TEACHING WITH COMICS. San Diego Comic-Con International has teamed up with the San Diego Public Library to host a free four-day “Comics Conference for Educators and Librarians” from July 20-23.

This first-of-its-kind educational conference will take place during Comic-Con, and will explore the role comics play in promoting education and literacy for all ages.

Library professionals and educators are invited to this free event to learn creative and exciting ways to incorporate comics and graphic novels into their work. Through presentations and panel discussions, the conference aims to engage the community, promote comics as a powerful tool for learning, and celebrate the medium as an important literary art form. The Comics Conference for Educators and Librarians is also an opportunity for attendees to connect and dialogue with publishers and industry professionals.

The Conference will be located in the Shiley Special Events Suite on the ninth floor of the San Diego Central Library. Each day of the Conference will have different themes….

The conference is free to attend, but space is limited and registration is required for each day. Comic-Con badge-holders with valid single same-day or four-day badges are welcome to attend and are not required to register. Further details about the Comics Conference for Educators and Librarians will be provided for registrants in the coming weeks.

(16) THE TWINKIE OFFENSE. “The World’s Oldest Twinkie” is has spent 40 years on display at a Maine school.

Bennatti had students buy a package of Twinkies from a nearby store during a 1976 lesson on food additives and shelf life. He placed the Twinkie on the blackboard for the class to observe, and there it remained until Bennatti retired in 2004 and passed custody of the aging snack cake to Rosemeier, who placed it in a case in her office.

(17) HOYT SERIES. Jeb Kinnison has kind words for “Sarah Hoyt’s Through Fire – Darkship Book 4”.

Through Fire, Book 4 in Sarah Hoyt’s Darkship series, came out last month and I bought it immediately, but despite its can’t-put-it-down action, I had to put it down until this week.

It’s a fine entry in the series, plunging us into action on the Seacity Liberté, which unlike the last book in the series I read, A Few Good Men (review here) is dominated by French cultural influences, with the rebellion set in motion in the first scene modeled on the French Revolution and its Terror.

(18) LMB ON SELF-PUBLISHING. At Eight Ladies Writing,“Lois McMaster Bujold Answers Three Questions about Self-Publishing”, now that she’s self-pubbing increasingly large parts of her back-catalog, and her novellas.

LMB: I first had some e-publishing experiences starting in the early 00s with the e-books company Fictionwise (later to be bought out and terminated by B&N.) This was not self-pubbing; they just took my manuscript files, or in some cases made OCR files themselves of my older paper books, did everything else themselves, and sent me checks. (These were the selection of my books whose old contracts predated e-books, hence those rights were still mine.) Their sales were all through their own website. But for one very interesting statement, my Fictionwise backlist e-titles were for sale on or via Amazon, for which the maybe $500-to-$1000-a-quarter they’d been jointly clearing shot up seven-fold, which riveted my attention. But then that went away as mysteriously as it had arrived, for corporate reasons I never discovered….

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Mark-kitteh, Martin Morse Wooster, Lisa Goldstein, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 6/19/16 MacArthur’s File Is Posting In The Dark, All The Sweet Green Pixels Scrolling Down

(1) COMPLETE WEAPONS BAN AT SUPERCON. Florida Supercon (July 1-4) will not permit any real or replica weapons to be brought into the con. Includes blades, blunt weapons, whips, tasers, or even things that “cause excessive noise levels like vuvuzelas.”

In light of recent events, we have chosen to tighten security around the event and have recently updated many of the rules. This is done to protect our attendees and make sure that everyone may enjoy the convention without concern.

Florida Supercon is dedicated to the safety and security of ALL attendees.

Use common sense and remember what seems harmless to you may appear like a threat to someone else. All attendees must adhere to Florida State Law at all times during the weekend of Florida Supercon, including laws regarding firearms and weapons. If it is illegal outside of the convention, it is illegal inside the convention.

Please read this entire policy before attending Florida Supercon. Failure to follow this policy may result in your removal from the convention without refund. We have a ZERO TOLERANCE FOR WEAPONS.

(2) FAN OF THE SUPREMES. Michael Z. Williamson had this out earlier in the week: “Orlando: The AAR and BFTNP”.

This is going to be part pep talk and part “There there, here’s a foot in your ass.”

The Orlando shooting was not your fault. You bear no guilt and no shame. By embracing guilt and shame you give the terrorists what they want. Stop it. That way lies madness….

MAKING YOURSELF MORE HELPLESS HELPS NO ONE.  “I don’t need guns,” you say. I know more about guns than you, and you’re wrong.  You may not want any, and that’s fine, that’s your decision to make, FOR YOU, not for me, nor anyone else.  “I couldn’t have done anything.”  You’re right. So stop trying to Monday Morning Quarterback the whole thing. “Nobody needs an AR15.”  Again, you’re wrong, and at this point you should be reminded of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

See this article here: http://www.michaelzwilliamson.com/blog/index.php?itemid=219

Get that?  Access to firearms is a constitutionally protected right, and SCOTUS  says so, the end.

(3) FINDING DORY FILLS TREASURE CHEST. Yahoo! Movies confirms the latest Pixar film, Finding Dory, set a record for an animated movie, earning many dollars in its worldwide debut.

Some 13 years after Finding Nemo first hit theaters, Pixar and Disney’s sequel Finding Dory made a huge splash, landing the biggest domestic opening of all time for an animated title with $136.2 million from 4,305 theaters….

The previous crown holder for top animated launch was DreamWorks Animation’s Shrek the Third, which debuted to $121.6 million in 2007. Until now, Pixar’s best was Toy Story 3 (2010) with $110.3 million.

(4) MASSIVE SPOILERS. ScreenRant spills all the beans in “The Alternate History of Independence Day Explained”.

Picking up in real-time, ID:R portrays a much different recent history than our own alien invasion-free world. The alternate events that occur following the War of 1996 in Independence Day definitely depict a darker timeline.

Thanks to a big viral marketing campaign, a prequel comic, a prequel novel – Independence Day: Crucible – and various Independence Day: Resurgence clips and trailers released during marketing, this dark timeline has become a little more clear.

Forget the history you thought you knew, and prepare yourself for some spoilers. Here is the full alternate timeline leading to Independence Day: Resurgence.

(5) JEMISIN IN NYT. N.K. Jemisin’s latest “Otherworldly” column for the New York Times Book Review covers new works by Claire North, Jonathan Strahan, Mira Grant, and Malka Older.

The easiest comparison that comes to mind when reading Malka Older’s INFOMOCRACY (Tor/Tom Doherty, $24.99) is to its cyberpunk forebears. There’s an obvious line of inheritance here from William Gibson and Neal Stephenson to Older’s futuristic world of global information networks and cool, noirish operatives vying for power and survival. Yet there’s also an inescapable “West Wing” vibe to the book. This probably owes to the fact that Older is herself a global player, with impressive bona fides in the field of international affairs. This lends the story a political authenticity that’s unusual in the field of cyberpunk, and very welcome.

(6) PULP FIRST CONTACT. James Davis Nicoll explains why he started Young People Review Old Science Fiction.

Young People Read Old SF was inspired by something award-winning author Adam-Troy Castro said on Facebook.

nobody discovers a lifelong love of science fiction through Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein anymore, and directing newbies toward the work of those masters is a destructive thing, because the spark won’t happen. You might as well advise them to seek out Cordwainer Smith or Alan E. Nourse—fine tertiary avenues of investigation, even now, but not anything that’s going to set anybody’s heart afire, not from the standing start. Won’t happen.

This is a testable hypothesis! I’ve rounded up a pool of younger people who have agreed to let me expose them to classic works of science fiction1 and assembled a list of older works I think still have merit. Each month my subjects will read and react to those stories; I will then post the results to this site. Hilarity will doubtless ensue!

First in the barrel is “Who Goes There?” by Don A. Stuart (John W. Campbell). The responses are quite articulate and the young readers weren’t too rough on old John.

This reminds me of a “teens react” YouTube series – James may be missing out on millions of views by doing this in text!

(7) YELCHIN OBIT. Anton Yelchin, Star Trek’s Chekov, was crushed to death by his own car this morning.

Anton Yelchin, the Russian-born actor who played Chekov in the new Star Trek films, has been killed by his own car at his home in Los Angeles, police say.

It struck him after rolling backwards down the steep drive at his Studio City home, pinning him against a brick postbox pillar and a security fence.

He died shortly after 01:00 (08:00 GMT) on Sunday.

Yelchin, 27, also appeared in such films as Like Crazy (2011) and Green Room (2015).

The third movie in the rebooted series, Star Trek Beyond, comes out in July.

(8) DECORATE OR EDUCATE? The University of Glasgow’s Robert MacLean ponders the question, “How can we be sure old books were ever read?”

Owning a book isn’t the same as reading it; we need only look at our own bloated bookshelves for confirmation. You may remember this great cartoon by Tom Gauld doing the rounds on social media a year or two ago. We love it because, in it, we can clearly see our own bookshelves and our own absurd relationship with books: unread, partially read and never-to-be-read books battling it out for space with those we’ve successfully tackled. With our busy lives and competing demands on our leisure time, the ever-growing pile of unread books can even sometimes feel like a monument to our failure as readers! Although this is surely a more common anxiety in a time of relatively cheap books and one-click online shopping we should be reassured that it’s nothing new: Seneca was vocal in criticising those using “books not as tools for study but as decorations for the dining-room”, and in his early 16th century sermons Johannes Geiler (reflecting on Sebastian Brant’s ‘book fool’) identified a range of different types of folly connected with book ownership that included collecting books for the sake of glory, as if they were costly items of furniture1. When we look at our own bookshelves we can fairly easily divide the contents into those we’ve read and those we haven’t. But when it comes to very old books which have survived for hundreds of years how easy is it to know whether a book was actually read by its past owners? ….

Dog-ears

Different readers have different methods of physically marking their reading progress in a book. Once upon a time (I confess!) I was a dog-earer, who turned over the top corner of the page to mark my place; now – evidence of where I do much of my reading – I tend to use a train ticket as a bookmark. In this fascinating blogpost Cornelis J. Schilt, editor of the Newton Project, describes how one famous reader of the past, Isaac Newton, used large and often multiple dog-ears to act as mnemonic aides reminding him of specific words and references in books he was reading.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 19, 1958 — Wham-O filed to register Hula Hoop trademark.

(10) LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED. Word of the Hugo Voter Packet finally reached readers of Sad Puppies 4: The Embiggening on Facebook.

The voter packet is out! Remember, ?#?Wrongfans read before they cast their votes, ?#?trufen just vote how they’re told to NoAward.

(11) ALPENNIA ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED. Heather Rose Jones bids you “Welcome to the New Improved Expanded Alpennia Website!”

Quite some time ago (nearly two years, I think), I decided I needed a more professional looking website for my writing activities. And it could have all sorts of bells and whistles! Book reviews! Forthcoming publications! Future convention schedules! I could not only move the Lesbian Historic Motif Project to the new site, but I could make it the primary home of my blog. And then it could push content automatically to LiveJournal and Twitter and Facebook. And the LHMP could have improved functionality, with better tagging, and a dynamic index page, and…and everything

(12) KEEP ‘EM CLICKING. “If Amazing Stories Were A Hugo Finalist, My Love: The Top 25 Posts of All Time” – Steve Davidson counts off his site’s biggest traffic magnets.

At the top of the list:

  1. What Happens When People Confuse Alternate History for Real History?

(13) SDCC LIVE. Syfy is starting to beat the drum for its upcoming Syfy Presents Live From Comic-Con broadcast.

Syfy will invade the world’s largest pop culture convention this summer with a three-night telecast directly from the heart of San Diego Comic-Con. The special – Syfy’s first-ever live broadcast from Comic-Con – will air on the network Thursday, July 21 through Saturday, July 23 at 8/7c.

Each night, SYFY PRESENTS LIVE FROM COMIC-CON will bring the Con’s non-stop action directly to viewers across the country, featuring celebrity interviews, breaking news and behind-the-scenes reports. The hosted live broadcast will highlight the biggest stars, top franchise reveals, panel news, exclusive sneak peeks of the hottest films, as well as audience interaction, games, party coverage and much more.

(14) ACKERMAN CENTENARY PROJECT. There’s a Kickstarter appeal for a 4E Ackerman tribute: “Famous Monsters is making a star-studded comic book anthology of weird & Terrifying tales in honor of Forry Ackerman’s 100th Birthday” has raised $3,875 of its $10,000 goal with 42 days remaining.

The year 2016 marks what would have been the late Forrest J Ackerman’s 100th Birthday. Famous Monsters and its comic book publishing imprint, American Gothic Press (AGP), are celebrating Forry’s centennial with an original hardcover anthology called TALES FROM THE ACKER-MANSION, to be released in October at our ALIEN CON event in Silicon Valley, CA!

Famous Monsters is a big name, but we are a small company. Despite our well-known magazine and iconic logo, we are a boutique operation. Still, we manage to make an enduring magazine, cool comic books, neat merchandise, run film festivals, and now are producing a major convention in October. As we spin several creative plates in the air at the same time, we are always mindful of “Uncle Forry” and the imaginative endeavors he championed. For Forry’s centennial celebration, we thought TALES FROM THE ACKER-MANSION would be a super-cool tribute, but in order to pull it off, we need help! That’s why we are doing FM’s first-ever Kickstarter/crowdfunding effort to cushion the incredible launch costs of such a project (more details at the end under RISKS & CHALLENGES)….

The magical thing about Forry is that he connected people from all fields and industries — be it film, music, comics, or literature. In the spirit of that connection, we have sought to make TALES FROM THE ACKER-MANSION a truly eclectic offering.

John Carpenter: “For TALES FROM THE ACKER-MANSION, John Carpenter channels O. Henry in an original short horror folk-tale, “The Traveler’s Tale”. It tells the story of an old British traveler who steals a cursed bejeweled box from a Middle Eastern bazaar. Written by the Horror Master himself!”

William F. Nolan: “His contribution for TALES FROM THE ACKER-MANSION is ‘the story of how Forrest J Ackerman and the robot from Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS became acquainted.’”

John 5: “He currently plays for Rob Zombie on tour and in the studio. John has also produced numerous solo records — one of which, ‘Careful with that Axe’, shares the title of his story for TALES FROM THE ACKER-MANSION, a surreal rockstar fable about a Telecaster guitar that seems to give a young boy special powers.”

Richard Christian Matheson: “His short story ‘Barking Sands’ is appearing in TALES FROM THE ACKER-MANSION as illustrated prose”.

Joe R. Lansdale: “His short story ‘The Dump’ is being adapted for the anthology by MARK ALAN MILLER.”

Also included:

  • An apocalyptic monster truck comic from creator Cullen Bunn (HARROW COUNTY) and artist Drew Moss (TERRIBLE LIZARD)
  • A painted robot tale from comics writer and artist Ray Fawkes (CONSTANTINE)
  • A cannibal story in the style of old Creepy and Eerie from HELLRAISER: BESTIARY’s Ben Meares and Christian Francis
  • Stories by FM Editor David Weiner and AGP Editor Holly Interlandi
  • An unconventional coming-of-age story by reknowned fantasy author Nancy Kilpatrick, illustrated by Drew Rausch (EDWARD SCISSORHANDS)
  • A Golden Age noir-style romp from Victor Gischler (X-MEN)
  • A Sci-Fi alien saga by Trevor Goring (WATERLOO SUNSET)
  • A legend about lethal knitting needles from Travis Williams and Jonathan La Mantia
  • Art pinups by many Famous Monsters cover artists

(15) SMASHUPS. ScreenRant believes these are the “13 Best Comic Book Crossovers of All Time”.

More often than not, this means comic creators throw together as many popular characters as they can get their hands on. It’s good business to throw characters together that no one expects to see sharing a page; companies as adversarial as DC and Marvel have been known to join forces for a good, crazy story. This has led to more than a few fantastic crossover stories over the course of comic book history….

  1. JLA/Avengers

…Arguably the most famous of all crossover comics, JLA/Avengers was actually the result of over thirty years of negotiations between the two companies, as the initial plans had been made in 1979 before plans were put on hold due to editorial differences between Marvel and DC’s higher ups. For a time it seemed as if JLA/Avengers was the sign of more cooperation between the two comics publishers, but there hasn’t been any further successful attempts to unite the two brands since.

(16) COMIC SECTION. Tom Gauld has been cracking them up on Twitter

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, James Davis Nicoll, Cat Eldridge, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Heather Rose Jones.]

Maggin, Hughes Are 2016 Bill Finger Award Winners

Elliot S! Maggin and the late Richard E. Hughes have been selected to receive the 2016 Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing. The award is given under the auspices of San Diego Comic-Con International. Each year the selection committee, chaired by Mark Evanier, chooses two recipients, one living and one deceased, whose body of work “has not received its rightful reward and/or recognition.”

Elliot S! Maggin began his career the hard way, submitting a script completely on “spec” to DC Comics in 1971. Editor Julius Schwartz thought it was the best submission he’d seen in several decades and bought it. Before long, Maggin was writing for most of DC’s star characters with a special emphasis on Superman. He has published several novels, including the upcoming Not My Closet and the soon to be re-released Superman: Miracle Monday. Among his other comic book credits are Green Arrow, Archie’s Super-Teens, Batman, Justice League, Elseworlds, Hulk, Peter Parker, Strange Sports Stories, Wonder Woman, Shazam, Ellison’s Dark Corridors, Star Raiders, Joker, and a bunch of others, including a Marvel Classics version of Homer’s 24-book Iliad “crowbarred” (his term for what he did) into 48 pages. He has also taught at every grade level including adults, run twice for Congress, designed games and software, and raised horses, dogs, bees, and kids.

Richard E. Hughes (1909–1974) was one of the most prolific writers and editors to ever work in comics, so much so that his work was published under dozens of pen names ranging from “Ace Aquila” to “Zev Zimmer.”  Even “Richard E. Hughes” was a pen name for the man born Leo Rosenbaum. “Hughes” began writing for advertising and pulps in the 1930s, and his first known comic book credits were for Pine Comics where he co-created and wrote Doc Strange (no relation to the later Marvel hero) for Thrilling Comics #1 in 1940. His best-known character of that era was probably The Black Terror for Standard Comics. He eventually assumed the editor position for publisher Ben Sangor and helmed Sangor’s American Comics Group, which published both funny comics and the first horror titles, such as Adventures Into the Unknown. Hughes wrote many of the scripts for years and almost all of them the last decade of ACG’s existence. His best-known work came in a 1958 issue of Forbidden Worlds, where he wrote and co-created the Fat Fury, Herbie Popnecker, who later spun off into his own, well-remembered comic book series of the sixties, Herbie.

In addition to Evanier, the selection committee consists of Charles Kochman (executive editor at Harry N. Abrams, book publisher), comic book writer Kurt Busiek, artist/historian Jim Amash, cartoonist Scott Shaw!, and writer/editor Marv Wolfman.

The Bill Finger Award honors the memory of William Finger (1914–1974), the first writer of Batman. Many have called him the “unsung hero” of the character. The award was created in 2005 at the instigation of Jerry Robinson.