Pixel Scroll 8/15/17 She Said She’d Always Been A Filer, She Worked At Fifteen Blogs A Day

(1) OUT TO LAUNCH. The Planetary Society is trying to raise $100,000 for its LightSail project. They have raised $22,000+ so far.

LightSail: Help Us Get to the Launchpad

The Planetary Society’s LightSail spacecraft is getting ready to make space exploration history as the first to demonstrate controlled solar sail flight of a CubeSat.

Known as the people’s spacecraft, together we’re ushering in a new era—the democratization of space—but there’s still so much to be done and we need your support to do it.

“We have lingered for too long on the shores of the cosmic ocean; it’s time to set sail for the stars.” — Carl Sagan

We’re kicking off the final phase of preparations for the upcoming launch of LightSail 2 into space aboard the SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket. We need your help to get there.

When you make a gift today, your contribution —and your impact on the LightSail mission—will be boosted by a $50,000 matching gift challenge issued by a generous Planetary Society member!

 

(2) TOUCHING SPACE. Some of the remains of the late Hugh Daniel, known to fans as “Doctor Destructo,” are scheduled to fly to the edge of space on the next Celestis mission.

Starseeker, the eighth Celestis Earth Rise service, is scheduled to launch from Spaceport America, New Mexico on November 15, 2017. Your loved one’s flight capsule – containing a symbolic portion of cremated remains or DNA sample and engraved with a memorial message – will launch into space, experience the elegant dance of weightlessness, and return to Earth for recovery and return to you as a flown keepsake.

The Celestis flight capsules will be flown aboard an UP Aerospace SpaceLoft XL rocket, on a mission sponsored by the NASA Spaceflight Opportunities Program to conduct microgravity experiments and technology demonstrations for NASA and affiliated researchers.

You can read about Hugh Daniel at the link.

It seemed Hugh’s love of space and all things science began at birth, helped by regular dinner conversations, open houses at the University of Michigan (UofM) telescopes, Star Trek, Larry Niven, dozens of SciFi Conventions, endless conversations with amateur and professional astronomers, and many nights at the Lick Observatory. He assisted with a friend’s meteor work on Antarctica, attended private rocket launches, and even did some contract work for NASA. He always dreamed of the opportunity to make it into space himself, but he wasn’t counting on being reduced to 1 gram for the trip! Hugh didn’t believe in any form of “afterlife,” but in tribute to a warm and generous friend and beloved family member, we send a piece of him Ad Astra!

(3) IT’S THE VERSE. SPECPO brings us the “Armadillocon Poetry Thunderdome 2017”.

But what is a Poetry Thunderdome? First crafted at Comicpalooza, Thunderdome brings together a group of speculative poets to duke it out in front of an audience in a LIVE writing exercise. Audience members participate by yelling out prompts and poets are given a short period of time to write a poem in response. Hilarity ensues….

By the second round, the audience was feeling feisty. It chose “AitheistJackalope,” “Egypt,” and “Third Eye,” as the topics for our poets writing delight.

In response, Michelle Muenzler gave us this gem:

it’s not the third eye that gets you
that one has all the knowledge after all
it’s that fourth eye
the one that sees the jackalope in the corner of the bar
drinking whiskey and whining about his in-laws
just flown in from Egypt
and maybe it’s the drink talking now
but as far as you knew
there were no jackalopes in Egypt
…then again, somebody had to build the pyramids

(4) PUTTING OUT A CONTRACT. On Facebook, Heikki Sørum has photos of Eemeli Aro signing a solemn agreement to give Finnish fandom a 90 day respite before be gets them involved in his next fannish scheme. Aro was the first one to appear at a Fannish Inquisition and talk about holding a Helsinki Worldcon.

(5) LONG LIST ANTHOLOGY. David Steffen’s latest Diabolical Plots newsletter says he will produce a third Long List Anthology.

On Friday was the Hugo Award Ceremony announcing the winners of this year’s Hugo Awards, and with the nomination numbers posted after the ceremony, starts the planning of the Long List Anthology Volume Three.  If you’re not familiar with the previous two anthologies, it’s an anthology of short fiction from the longer Hugo Award nomination list–more stories that the Hugo voters loved.  Queries have been sent out and there is enough author interest to go forward, and I’m sure I’ll get more responses over the next week or so, (especially with international WorldCon travel).  I am aiming to launch the Kickstarter in early September, so the next newsletter might get sent out a bit early to coincide with it.  The anthology will have stories by the following authors and more included in the base goal or stretch goals:

  • Joseph Allen Hill
  • Yoon Ha Lee
  • Seanan McGuire
  • Ian R. MacLeod
  • Sam J. Miller
  • Sarah Pinsker
  • Cat Rambo
  • Jason Sanford
  • Caroline M. Yoachim

(6) THE SURVIVOR. The upcoming sci-fi indie short film The Survivor: A Tale From The Nearscape, which centers on a young boy as he does whatever it takes to survive in a post-apocalyptic world.

In a post-apocalyptic world where the air is toxic to breathe and oxygen is a precious resource, a young boy embarks on a perilous supply run to obtain water and medicine for his ailing mother. With just his toy robot as a companion on his journey, he faces many obstacles, but the real danger is waiting for him back home.

 

(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

Polyphemus was the name of the cyclops Odysseus and his crew encountered in The Odyssey.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 15, 1977 — On duty at the Big Ear Radio Observatory at The Ohio State University, Dr. Jerry Ehman heard radio noise that lasted 37 seconds and came from the direction of a star nearly 220 light-years away. The signal traveled at a frequency whose use is prohibited by international agreement and that is unlike those of most natural radio sources. It is known as the Wow signal and hasn’t been heard since.
  • August 15, 1984The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension first screened in theatres on this day.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRLS

  • August 15, — Bjo Trimble
  • August 15, 1990 – Jennifer Lawrence

(10) COMIC SECTION.

(11) CAVNA. The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna interviews Ian Jones-Quartey, creator of the new Cartoon Network show O.K. K.O! Let’s Be Heroes because the show is a fictionalized version of Jones-Quartey’s home town of Columbia, Maryland — “A new Cartoon Network show finds inspiration in Columbia, Md., the animator’s home town”.

“OK K.O.!” centers on a boy’s adventures at friendly Lakewood Plaza, where his kick-butt mother runs a dojo and fitness center, and where he helps out at a bodega that supplies equipment to heroes — all across Route 175 from where villainous Lord Boxman runs his big-box retail monstrosity, which sells weapons to baddies.

(12) THE GOOD OMENS SCOREBOARD. Carl Slaughter, after reading that Neil Gaiman is showrunning a screen adaptation of his and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens, found more reasons to be proud of the collaborators:

“Good Omens” is #68 in the BBC’s survey of 750,000 readers.  The 67 books preceding it on the list include “Pride and Prejudice,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “1984,” “Jane Eyre,” “Wuthering Heights,” “Great Expectations,” “Little Women,” “War and Peace,” “Gone with the Wind,” “Grapes of Wrath,” “Emma,” “Animal Farm,” “The Count of Monte Cristo,” “Of Mice and Men,” “Crime and Punishment,” “A Tale of Two Cities,” “A Christmas Carol,” and a slew of B list classics.

Plus “Lord of the Rings,” “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” “Dune,” “Watership Down,” “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” “Harry Potter,” “Alice in Wonderland,” etc.

#69-200 includes, “Vanity Fair,” “The Old Man and the Sea,” etc.

Pretty impressive list of competition for a comedy sci fi writer!

(12) BEWARE SPOILERS. Business Insider interviews Conleth Hill: “The actor who plays Varys on ‘Game of Thrones’ explains how he’s making ‘a better world for everybody else'”

Kim Renfro: On the second episode, “Stormborn,” Varys had a confrontation with Daenerys over his loyalties. What was it like filming a conversation with Emilia Clarke?

Conleth Hill: That was very exciting. Had you not done that scene people would have gone ‘well why did she take him on her team so easily?’ And we couldn’t do it in Meereen because she was off with the Dothraki and I was off, according to some people ‘mermaiding around’ with Olenna and the rest, so it was nice that we had it as soon as we got there — where she was born.

Renfro: You brought up ‘mermaiding around’ — are you sick of people asking you if Varys is a merman?

Hill: Yes. I don’t get it. I really don’t get it. I mean I’m not annoyed or anything, I think it’s funny, but I really don’t know where it comes from. I think someone got too stoned one night and came up with it.

(13) DIY. And just to make sure no customer is left behind, IKEA has published diagrams showing how to turn their rugs into Game of Thrones capes – Bored Panda has them: “IKEA Releases Instructions How To Make ‘Game Of Thrones’ Cape After Costumer Reveals Actors Wore IKEA Rugs”.

Being a member of the Night’s Watch in Game of Thrones doesn’t sound like much fun. Constant threat of danger and death at the hands of Wildlings and White Walkers. Vows of celibacy. Freezing your ass off constantly. There really is very little about their job that you’d actually want. They do however have some pretty cool capes, and you don’t need to be a Brother to get one. All you need is a $79 SKOLD IKEA rug, because believe it or not, that’s what the tough guys of the Night’s Watch have actually been wearing on their backs this whole time.

(14) PLAY PASSWORD. The NIST also approves of less-painful passwording: “Forget Tough Passwords: New Guidelines Make It Simple”.

The organization suggests keeping passwords simple, long and memorable. Phrases, lowercase letters and typical English words work well, Grassi tells NPR’s Audie Cornish. Experts no longer suggest special characters and a mix of lower and uppercase letters. And passwords never need to expire.

“We focus on the cognitive side of this, which is what tools can users use to remember these things?” Grassi says. “So if you can picture it in your head, and no one else could, that’s a good password.”

While these rules may seem suspiciously easy, Grassi says these guidelines help users create longer passwords that are harder for hackers to break. And he says the computer security industry in both the public and private sectors has received these new rules positively.

Chip Hitchcock adds, “I suspect this is a readable version of guidelines issued in June and linked to in the previous story; anybody want to dig through the bureaucratese to find out?”

(15) GAZING. London’s Great Fire monument was also intended to be a telescope: “The secret lab hidden inside a famous monument”.

Robert Hooke was a man of many passions, who applied his enquiring mind to subjects as diverse as chemistry and map making, at the sober end of the scale, and folk beliefs about toads and his own bowel movements at the other. In his day, he had a reputation as lofty as the pillar itself, variously described as “England’s Leonardo” and “certainly the greatest mechanick [sic] this day in the world”.

Today his name has largely been forgotten, but his contributions have endured. Among other things, he coined the word “cell” to describe the basic unit of life (they reminded him of Monks’ rooms, or “cells”), devised Hooke’s law of elasticity – arguably not particularly exciting, but useful – and invented mechanisms still used in clocks and cameras to this day.

After the fire, Hooke tried his hand at architecture too, designing hospitals, civic buildings and churches across the city. He didn’t get a lot of credit, partly because most of his achievements were signed off by, and mistakenly attributed to, Wren – and partly because some of them weren’t very good.

(16) DINO NEWS. Martin Morse Wooster advises: “In the Washington Post, Travis M. Andrews writes about how Britain’s Natural History Museum discovered a fossil they thought was a crocodile was actually a new creature, which they named Lemmysuchus obstusidiens after the late heavy metal rocker Lemmy Kilmister.  This critter partied all night and fought all day, specializing in crushing turtle shells with its mighty teeth. The painting by Mark Witton is very cool.” — “Meet the brutally violent prehistoric crocodile named for Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister”.

They had a new species on their hands, and it needed a name. The creature’s brash, aggressive nature brought to mind the hell-raising British heavy metal band Motorhead, known for songs such as “Killed By Death,” “Born to Raise Hell,” “God Was Never On Your Side” and “I Ain’t No Nice Guy.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Karl-Johan Norén, JJ, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

2017 Rhysling Awards

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association has announced the 2017 Rhysling Award winners.

Short Poem

Winner

2nd:

3rd (tie)

Long Poem

Winner

  • Rose Child” by Theodora Goss • Uncanny 13

2nd:

3rd:

2017 Dwarf Stars Candidates

The 2017 Dwarf Stars Anthology contents have been finalized, which constitutes the shortlist for the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association‘s Dwarf Stars award. The poems were selected by editor Robin Mayall.

The award recognizes the best speculative poem of 1–10 lines published in the previous year, and is designed to honor excellent scifaiku, tanka, cinquains, and other types of short poems that tend to be overshadowed in SFPA’s Rhysling Award competition.

SFPA members have until August 31 to vote their favorite short-short poem from the anthology and determine who will receive the Dwarf Stars Award.

F.J. Bergmann did the layout. The cover art is “The Garden of Life” by Alexander Biglane.

Anthology Table of Contents (66 poems)

  • “abandoned farm …” • C. William Hinderliter • Scifaikuest, August 2016
  • “across the universe” • Alan Ira Gordon • Star*Line 39.2
  • “alighting” • C.?R. Harper • Star*Line 39.1
  • “another moon” • Deborah P Kolodji • Lupine Lunes, ed. Lester Smith (Popcorn Press, 2016)
  • “aster than the speed …” • LeRoy Gorman • Scifaikuest, November 2016
  • “attempting to align” • Terrie Leigh Relf • Star*Line 39.1
  • Brave New World • Scott Mason • frogpond 39.1
  • Cenotaph Moon • Robert Borski • Asimov’s Science Fiction, July 2016
  • Craving • Shannon Connor Winward • 2016 SFPA Poetry Contest, Dwarf 1st
  • “Cypress trees on fire” • Denise Dumars • What the Wind Can’t Touch (Southern California Haiku Study Group anthology, 2016)
  • “dead jackrabbit glares” • David Lee Summers • Lupine Lunes, ibid.
  • demon lovers • Greer Woodward • Star*Line 39.4
  • día de los muertos • John C. Mannone • Spirit’s Tincture 1
  • “don’t go looking for” • Michael Ch’ong • MichaelIsNotMyName.wordpress.com, July 21, 2016
  • “drooping tulips” • Deborah P Kolodji • Grievous Angel, January 2016
  • epitaph for an ogre • Herb Kauderer • Star*Line 39.3
  • “the face looked up” • David C. Kopaska-Merkel • Scifaikuest, November 2016 print
  • “fetching the bones” • Susan Burch • Focus 65
  • “the first calligraphy—” • Ruth Holzer • The Heron’s Nest Vol. XVIII, No. 4
  • First to Draw • Bruce Boston • Grievous Angel, July 2016
  • “Garden statues for sale” • Matthew Wilson • Star*Line 39.1
  • “grasping” • Julie Kelsey • Englyn: Journal of Four-Line Poetry 3
  • “growing child inside her belly” • William Landis • Scifaikuest, May 2016
  • “his totem animal” • David McKee • Modern Haiku 47.2
  • “howling at the rise” • Greer Woodward • Lupine Lunes, ibid.
  • “icy roads” • LeRoy Gorman • Star*Line 39.4
  • “immortality” • James D. Fuson • Star*Line 39.3
  • Intersections • Neal Wilgus • Carillon 46
  • “knitting for nieces” • John Reinhart • Scifaikuest, August 2016
  • Loss • Sandi Leibowitz • Through the Gate, November 23, 2016
  • Lover • Holly Day • Homestead Review, Spring 2016
  • Mercury • Christina Sng • An Assortment of Sky Things (Allegra Press, 2016)
  • Needs Repairs • John Reinhart • Star*Line 39.1
  • New Planet Landscape 15 • Ken Poyner • Star*Line 39.1
  • “next to the infant’s grave” • Manos Kounougakis • Focus 65
  • No Reception • John Reinhart • Scifaikuest, May 2016
  • “no shore” • Ann K. Schwader • Star*Line 39.4
  • “our bodies” • Debbie Strange • Kokako 25
  • “pandemonium” • Christina Sng • Star*Line 39.4
  • “planet of flowers” • ayaz daryl nielsen • Star*Line 39.4
  • Pluto • Shelly Bryant • Scifaikuest, February 2016 print
  • “printing our children” • David C. Kopaska-Merkel • Star*Line 39.2
  • Pterosaur • Deborah P Kolodji • Prune Juice 18
  • R’lyeh • F.?J. Bergmann • Spectral Realms 5
  • “ready shuttle droid” • C.?R. Harper • Dreams and Nightmares 103
  • “red apples” • Christina Sng • Star*Line 39.2
  • The Red Barn • David Clink • The Role of Lightning in Evolution (Chizine Publications, 2016)
  • The Red Spacesuit • Brian Garrison • Eye to the Telescope 21
  • “root cellar” • Christina Sng • Grievous Angel, November 2016
  • “the serrated song” • Carlos Colón • frogpond 39:2
  • “speed of light” • Susan Burch • 2016 SFPA Poetry Contest, Dwarf 3rd
  • “the speed of light …” • Joy Reed MacVane • The Heron’s Nest Vol. XVIII, No. 1
  • “spring migration” • LeRoy Gorman • Star*Line 39.2
  • The Surreal Monster • Bruce Boston • The Literary Hatchet 14
  • Talking to the Dead • Deborah P Kolodji • Unbroken 9
  • “teeth of ferns” • David Boyer • Modern Haiku 47.2
  • “thin moon” • David Boyer • frogpond 39:1
  • “tomorrow will return” • Neal Wilgus • Star*Line 39.2
  • “under a bright moon” • David C. Kopaska-Merkel • Lupine Lunes, ibid.
  • “visiting day” • C. William Hinderliter • Scifaikuest, August 2016
  • The Werewolf Returns • William John Watkins • Star*Line 39.1
  • What’ll It Be? • Lauren McBride • Star*Line 39.4
  • The Woods Look Up • David C. Kopaska-Merkel • Outposts of Beyond, October 2016
  • The Year of the Cottonmouth • Crystal Boson • The Blueshift Journal v
  • “yellow eyes aglow” • Rich Magahiz • Star*Line 39.1
  • “zombie party” • LeRoy Gorman • Star*Line 39.3

Pixel Scroll 6/17/17 Fiery The Pixels Fell. Deep Thunder Scrolled Around Their Shoulders

(1) DOUBLE YOUR PLEASURE. Decided this weekend, the 2019 Eurocon will be hosted by TitanCon 2019 in Belfast, NI. The con is scheduled to complement the dates of the expected Dublin Worldcon.

Our proposed dates are Thursday 22 to Saturday 24 August 2019. That is the weekend after the proposed WorldCon (currently being bid for and running unopposed) to be held in Dublin, Ireland on Thursday 15 to Monday 19 August 2019.

We will also be running our traditional TitanCon Coach Tour on Sunday 25 August visiting beautiful locations around Northern Ireland that have been used as filming locations in HBO’s Game of Thrones.

(2) PHONE CALL FROM THE PAST. Today Galactic Journey had its inaugural video conference call from 1962. Sartorially splendid in his white dress shirt and narrow black tie, The Traveler, Gideon Marcus, shared the split screen with Janice Marcus (his editor), and Professor Elliott (whose blog promises to “Document the obscure”).

He started with a recap of significant genre news, including the new issue of F&SF with Truman Capote and Zenna Henderson on the cover, and developments in film, music, and gaming, like Avalon Hill’s recently released Waterloo.

The Traveler masterfully rolled clips like the technical director in those control booth scenes from My Favorite Year, showing us a performance by the band The Shadows (some of them smoking onscreen) and the trailer for Journey to the Seventh Planet (which surprisingly did not end John Agar’s movie career on the spot).

The trio also took questions from the audience — there were about 18 of us on the call — and gave us 1962’s perspective on dogs in space and something called the Radar Range.

If you’d like to take your own trip 55 years back in time, the session was recorded — here’s the link.

(3) FAUX DINO. The Nerdist admires Neil deGrasse Tyson despite his earnestness about certain topics. “GODZILLA Gets Debunked by Neil deGrasse Tyson”.

But, let’s face it, sometimes the good Dr. Tyson is kind of a killjoy. Especially when it comes to debunking the scientific possibility of your favorite science-fiction franchises. He loves to be that guy, the one to tell you how Superman couldn’t really exist, or how this or that sci-fi movie got it wrong, etc. He loves to be Captain Buzzkill sometimes.

The latest example of Neil deGrasse Tyson telling us how one of our favorite science fiction icons simply could never be real happened on his Star Talk radio podcast. According to Tyson, beloved kaiju Godzilla simply could not exist in the real world, because the laws of physics could not allow for it to happen. A giant creature the size of Godzilla would be way too heavy for his limbs, and would therefore collapse under his own weight. Tyson kills your dreams of Godzilla ever emerging from the oceans in this clip from his Star Talk Radio podcast, which you can watch down below….

(4) MIND IN A VACUUM. Or maybe we would find a little of Tyson’s earnestness useful here — “Is the Universe Conscious?”

For centuries, modern science has been shrinking the gap between humans and the rest of the universe, from Isaac Newton showing that one set of laws applies equally to falling apples and orbiting moons to Carl Sagan intoning that “we are made of star stuff” — that the atoms of our bodies were literally forged in the nuclear furnaces of other stars.

Even in that context, Gregory Matloff’s ideas are shocking. The veteran physicist at New York City College of Technology recently published a paper arguing that humans may be like the rest of the universe in substance and in spirit. A “proto-consciousness field” could extend through all of space, he argues. Stars may be thinking entities that deliberately control their paths. Put more bluntly, the entire cosmos may be self-aware.

The notion of a conscious universe sounds more like the stuff of late night TV than academic journals. Called by its formal academic name, though, “panpsychism” turns out to have prominent supporters in a variety of fields

(5) WTF? That was my first thought upon reading in Variety that YouTube personality Lilly Singh has been cast in HBO’s adaptation of Fahrenheit 451.

Based on Ray Bradbury’s classic novel of the same name, the show depicts a future where media is an opiate, history is outlawed, and “firemen” burn books — Montag, a young fireman, forsakes his world, battles his mentor, and struggles to regain his humanity.

Singh will play Raven, a tabloid vlogger who works with the fire department to spread the ministry’s propaganda by broadcasting their book-burning raids to fans. She joins an A-list cast that includes Michael B. Jordan, Michael Shannon, and “The Mummy” star Sofia Boutella.

I’ve watched a lot of her comedy videos — my daughter is a fan — and she’s talented and funny. This sounds like she’s being given a dramatic role, so we’ll have to see how well that works. I don’t automatically assume Ray Bradbury would be unhappy with the choice — after all, he seemed to like Rachel Bloom’s YouTube act well enough.

Ray watching “F*** Me Ray Bradbury” for the first time. Photo by John King Tarpinian.

(6) MORE RAY TO SHARE. BBC’s Radio 3 program The Essay ends a five-part series with “Ray Bradbury’s The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit”.

Five writers recall clothes and accessories that resonate vividly in works of art: The series started with a white dress and ends with a pristine white suit …

Author and journalist John Walsh describes the transformative powers of a ‘two-piece’, worn in turn by a motley bunch of blokes in Los Angeles and celebrated in Ray Bradbury’s story ‘The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit’.

(7) TOUPONCE OBIT. Ray Bradbury scholar William F. Touponce (1948-2017) died of a heart attack on June 15, His colleague at the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies, Jonathan Eller, has posted a thorough and heartfelt appreciation.

Our good colleague, steadfast friend, and long-time Ray Bradbury scholar William F. Touponce passed away from a sudden heart attack on 15 June 2017. Bill joined the faculty of the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts in Indianapolis (IUPUI) in 1985, and attained the academic rank of Professor of English and adjunct Professor of American Studies during his twenty-seven years with the school. In 2007 Bill co-founded the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies and became the Center’s first director. During his four-year tenure as director, he established The Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury and a scholarly annual, The New Ray Bradbury Review. He retired from the faculty in 2012, but continued to pursue his scholarly interests as Professor Emeritus right up until his passing.

…During the first decade of the new century Bill wrote introductions and volume essays for seven special limited press editions of Bradbury’s works; these included an edition of the pre-production text of Ray Bradbury’s screenplay for the 1956 Warner Brothers production of Moby Dick (2008). In 2007, we co-founded the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies within the Institute for American Thought, and Bill agreed to take on the direction of this new and exciting enterprise. During his four-year tenure as director, he established The Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury multi-volume series, and a scholarly journal, The New Ray Bradbury Review.

(8) FURST OBIT. Stephen Furst, best known to fans as Vir Cotto on Babylon 5 has passed away. The LA Times obituary sums up his career.

Furst’s breakout role was as Dorfman in the 1978 film “Animal House,” which also marked the film debut of “Saturday Night Live” star John Belushi.

…He was later a regular on “Babylon 5” and “St. Elsewhere.”

In addition to his acting career, Furst directed several low-budget films, and was a producer on the 2009 drama “My Sister’s Keeper,” starring Cameron Diaz.

(9) TODAY’S FANNISH ANNIVERSARY

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born June 17, 1931 — Dean Ing
  • Born June 17, 1953 — Phyllis Weinberg

(11) CARRIE FISHER REPORT. An Associated Press story by Anthony McCartney, “Coroner Releases Results of Carrie Fisher Death Inquiry”, says the coroner determined that Fisher died from a variety of causes, one of which was sleep apnea, “but investigators haven’t been able to pinpoint an exact cause.”

Carrie Fisher died from sleep apnea and a combination of other factors, but investigators were not able to pinpoint an exact cause, coroner’s officials said Friday.

Among the factors that contributed to Fisher’s death was buildup of fatty tissue in the walls of her arteries, the Los Angeles County coroner’s office said in a news release late Friday. The release states that the “Star Wars” actress showed signs of having taken multiple drugs, but investigators could not determine whether they contributed to her death in December.

Her manner of death would be listed as undetermined, the agency said.

(12) FOLLOW THE MONEY. Kara Dennison returns with “CONVENTIONS: Where Does Your Money Go?”

The Alley

Artists and vendors, this is for you. This is a whole other concept of paying for cons.

I’ve worked both as a seller in Artist Alley and an AA head, so I’ve seen a lot of sides of this. Tables at events can go for anywhere from $40 to (apparently now) $300, all for a six-foot table with a hotel tablecloth and two chairs. And seriously what the heck.

Here’s what the heck.

For starters, renting those tables actually costs the cons money. Yeah. To take them out of storage and use them for three days, the con has to pay the hotel. That’s a part of the contract. Each hotel chain will have their own version of pricing for that, but that fits into your fee.

Beyond that, the price is reflective of the fee to rent the space the Alley is in, as well as the sort of business the con believes you can expect to do. Not a guarantee, but an estimate. If you shell out $100 for a table, that’s in essence the con saying “A good vendor doing their part can expect to take home at least $100 this weekend.”

To be fair, some cons out there really overestimate themselves. The best way to make sure a price is fair is to talk to regular vendors at the event (in your medium, if possible) and see if it evens out. I’m describing to you how a scrupulous Artist Alley works — if something seems off, do your homework.

That said, there are some cons that know they are too small to bring the goods and will actually cut their prices or waive the table rental fee. If a table is extremely low-priced at an event, it’s not because all tables should be that cheap — it’s because the staff is aware of their attendance size and trying to be fair to artists. Artist Alley fees should be judged against their con, not against each other.

(13) THE X-PERSON FRANCHISE. The word from Vanity Fair ” Sophie Turner Is Now Officially the Future of the X-Men Franchise”.

Fox today confirmed a number of suspicions that had been swirling around the next installment of the central X-Men franchise. For the foreseeable future, just like Cyclops, the mutants will be seeing red as Jessica Chastain joins Sophie Turner at the center of X-Men: Dark Phoenix.

Doubling down on the investment the studio made in Turner as head of the new class of mutants in X-Men: Apocalypse, the sequel is now, Deadline reports, officially subtitled Dark Phoenix–a reference to a famous comic storyline involving her powerful character, Jean Grey, breaking bad. It’s the same storyline X-Men explored with Famke Janssen as Jean Grey in the weakest installment of the franchise: The Last Stand. To lean in on a storyline from the least-loved X-Men film and draft Turner, whose debut in the franchise certainly didn’t make Apocalypse any better, is a risky choice. But Fox is full of gambles that pay off these days (see: Deadpool, Logan) and will shore up this foray into bold, new (yet familiar) territory with a trio of returning stars.

(14) SECURITY. China launches a quantum comsat.

The term “spy satellite” has taken on a new meaning with the successful test of a novel Chinese spacecraft.

The mission can provide unbreakable secret communications channels, in principle, using the laws of quantum science.

Called Micius, the satellite is the first of its kind and was launched from the Gobi desert last August.

It is all part of a push towards a new kind of internet that would be far more secure than the one we use now.

The experimental Micius, with its delicate optical equipment, continues to circle the Earth, transmitting to two mountain-top Earth bases separated by 1,200km.

(15) GLOWBOT. Swimming robot to investigate Fukushima: “‘Little sunfish’ robot to swim in to Fukushima reactor”.

It’ll be a tough journey – previous robots sent in to the ruined nuclear reactor didn’t make it back.

(16) A PIXAR FRANCHISE KEEPS ROLLING. NPR likes Cars 3: “‘Cars 3’ Comes Roaring Back With A Swapped-Out (Story) Engine”

The multi-billion-dollar success of Pixar’s Cars series can be chalked up to a great many things, but don’t discount the little vroom-vroom frowns the cars make with their dashboard eyes when they want to go fast. When Lightning McQueen, the Owen Wilson-voiced stock car with the bright flames decal, guns for pole position, he squints so much that any human who might be driving him wouldn’t be able to see the road. But of course there are no humans in this world, unless you count the invisible giant kids who must be steering the racers with their hands and making the motor sounds themselves.

That enduring childhood (typically but by no means exclusively boyhood) fascination with moving vehicles has propped up this franchise for the backseat set, seeing it through three feature-length films, a spin-off Planes series, and countless toy tie-ins.

(17) IAMBIC TWO-AND-A-HALF-METER. The Science Fiction Poetry Association is having a half-price sale on their t-shirts.

(18) FEWER NAUGHTY BITS. Row over cleaned-up movies: “Sony sanitising films row – the story so far”.

If you’ve been on a long-haul flight recently, you might have noticed the films being shown were a bit different from their cinematic release.

They’re usually a bit shorter as they’ve been made family-friendly for any young eyes who can see your screen.

Earlier this month Sony decided to make these sanitised versions available to download at home, choosing 24 titles including Ghostbusters and Easy A.

But now they’ve had to backtrack after filmmakers complained about the move.

(19) SUBCONTINENTAL SUBCREATOR. “India’s Tolkien”: “Amish Tripathi: ‘India’s Tolkien’ of Hindu mythology”. I wonder, has he been introduced to “America’s Tolkien”?

Meet best-selling Indian author Amish Tripathi who has just released his much anticipated fifth book, Sita: Warrior of Mithila, that re-imagines the life of the Hindu goddess from the epic Ramayan.

With four million copies in print, the former banker, who has successfully turned centuries-old mythological tales into bestselling works of fiction, is one of the highest selling Indian authors writing in English.

Chip Hitchcock says “India has snobs just like the west: ‘Although critics say his books lack any literary merit, they admire him for his ability to “create completely new stories from old ones”.’“

(20) PIONEERING. Oregon breaks new legal ground in personal identification — “Male, female or X? Oregon adds third option to driver’s licenses”.

Oregon on Thursday became the first U.S. state to allow residents to identify as neither male nor female on state driver’s licenses, a decision that transgender advocates called a victory for civil rights.

Under a policy unanimously adopted by the Oregon Transportation Commission, residents can choose to have an “X,” for non-specified, displayed on their driver’s license or identification cards rather than an “M” for male or “F” for female.

The policy change was cheered by supporters as a major step in expanding legal recognition and civil rights for people who do not identify as male or female. This includes individuals with both male and female anatomies, people without a gender identity and those who identify as a different gender than listed on their birth certificate.

(21) BRONZE AGE. Is this the style of armor Patroclus wore? “Dendra panoply, the oldest body Armour from the Mycenaean era”.

The earliest sample of a full body armor in Greece was found at the Dendra archeological site, located in the Argolis area. Discovered in May 1960 by Swedish archaeologists, the discovered breastplate, and backplate made of bronze, date to the 15th century BC. These pieces are part of the Dendra full-body armor, composed of fifteen pieces, including leg protectors, arm-guards, helmet and the parts mentioned above. The pieces were held together with leather lacing, covering the entire body of the soldier.

The breastplate and backplate are linked on the left side by a hinge, and together with the large shoulder protectors, these pieces consisted the upper body armor. Two triangular-shaped plates are attached to the shoulder protectors, providing protection for the armpits. The armor also includes a neck protection plate. Three pairs of curved shields hang from the waist, giving protection to the groin and the thighs. This artifact is unique for its armguard, and as for the leg protectors, it is assumed that they were made of linen and are a standard piece of armor seen in illustrations from the Mycenaean age.

(22) EMISSION IMPOSSIBLE. Speaking of Homeric — what about Our Wombat!

[Thanks to Joe H., Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Rich Lynch, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, and rcade for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

2017 Elgin Award Finalists

Nominations for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association’s Elgin Award closed May 15, and Josh Brown, the 2017 Elgin Award Chair reports the final list of nominees has been posted to the SFPA website.

The award is named for SFPA founder Suzette Haden Elgin, and is presented in two categories, Chapbook and Book.

Chapbooks
Apocalypse • John C. Mannone (Alban Lake, 2015)
An Assortment of Sky Things • Christina Sng (Allegra Press, 2016)
Corona Obscura • Michael R. Collings (CreateSpace, 2016)
Energy (or the Art of Keeping it Together) • Susan Gray (Burning Eye Books, 2016)
Ghost Skin by Wren Hanks • (Porkbelly Press, 2016)
Ghost Tongue by Nicole Rollender • (Porkbelly Press, 2016)
hiku [pull] by James A. H. White • (Porkbelly Press, 2016)
In Favor of Pain • Angel Yuriko Smith (CreateSpace, 2016)
Jackalope-Girl Learns to Speak • Stacey Balkun (dancing girl press, 2016)
Leviathan • Neil Aitken (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2016)
Lost City Museum • Stacey Balkun (ELJ Publications, 2016)
The Mole People by Heather Cox (Bat Cat Press, 2016)
Moon Facts • Bob Schofield (Nostrovia! Press, 2015)
Notes on the End of the World • Meghan Privitello (Black Lawrence Press, 2016)
Prophet Fever • Wren Hanks (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2016)
Quick Bright Things: poems of fantasy & myth • P.S. Cottier (Ginninderra Press, 2016)
Shipwreck Smiles • Lauren Andrei (Cozy Muse, 2016)
Shopping After the Apocalypse • Jessie Carty (Dancing Girl Press, 2016)
Southern Cryptozoology • Allie Marini (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2015)
Radio Heart, or; How Robots Fall Out of Love • Margaret Rhee (Finishing Line Press, 2016)
Violet Hours • Jeanie Tomasko (Taraxia Press, 2016)
What Stranger Miracles • James Brush (White Knuckle Press, 2016)
spacer
Full-length Books
The Acolyte • Nancy Hightower (Port Yonder Press, 2015)
request .pdf from nhightow@gmail.com
Apocalypse • Frederick Turner (Ilium Press, 2016)
Bone Confetti • Muriel Leung (Noemi Press, 2016)
The Book of Robot • Ken Poyner (Barking Moose Press, 2016)
Brief Encounters with My Third Eye: Selected Short Poems 1975-2016 • Bruce Boston (Crystal Lake Publishing, 2016)
Chemical Letters • Octavia Cade (Popcorn Press, 2015)
.pdf available as “Pay What You Want” on DriveThruFiction: http://bit.ly/ChemicalLettersDTF
The Crimson Tome • K. A. Opperman (Hippocampus Press, 2015)
Dark Parchments • Michael H. Hanson (MoonDream Press, 2015)
Dead Starships • Wendy Rathbone (Eye Scry Publications, 2016)
Field Guide to the End of the World • Jeannine Hall Gailey (Moon City Press, 2016)
The Galaxy Is a Dance Floor by Bianca Lynne Spriggs (Argos Books, 2016)
Ghosts Still Walking • Do Nguyen Mai (Platypus Press, 2016)
A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora • Jenna Le (Anchor & Plume, 2016)
House of Mystery by Courtney Bates-Hardy (ChiZine Publications, 2016)
I Am Not A War • Sophia Terazawa (Essay Press, 2016)
free online
In the Crocodile Gardens • Saba Razvi (Agape Editions, 2016)
Lost Gardens of the Hakudo Maru • Ryu Ando (a€¦p press, 2016)
Marginalia to Stone Bird • Rose Lemberg (Aqueduct Press, 2016)
On that one-way trip to Mars • Marlena Chertock (Bottlecap Press, 2016)
Poems of My Night • Cynthia Pelayo (Raw Dog Screaming Press, 2016)
Poor Anima • Khaty Xiong, (Apogee Press, 2015)
The Primitive Observatory • Gregory Kimbrell (Southern Illinois University Press, 2016)
PseudoPsalms: Saints v. Sinners • Peter Adam Salomon (Journalstone, 2016)
The Role of Lightning in Evolution • David Clink (Kelp Queen Press, 2016)
Sacrificial Nights • Bruce Boston & Alessandro Manzetti (Kipple Officina Libraria, 2016)
The Seven Yards of Sorrow • David E. Cowen (Weasel Press, 2016)
Small Spirits: Dark Dolls • Marge Simon (Midnight Town Media, 2016)
Staying Alive • Laura Sims (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2016)
Turn Left at November: Poems • Wendy Rathbone (Eye Scry Publications, 2015)
Underwater Fistfight • Matt Betts (Raw Dog Screaming Press, 2016)

[Thanks to John Brown for the story.]

SFPA’S 2017 Grand Master Candidates

Voting continues as Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) members decide who will be honored as Grand Master this year. Four candidates are under consideration,

  • Ruth Berman is a long-time (since at least 1983) and award-winning member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. She is a writer of short science fiction and speculative poetry. In 2003 for “Potherb Gardening” and in 2016 for “Time Travel Vocabulary Problems”, she won the Rhysling Award for Best Short Poem. She was also the winner of the 2006 Dwarf Stars Award for her poem “Knowledge Of.” Her short fiction has appeared in Analog, New Worlds, Star Trek: The New Voyages, Shadows 2,Tales of the Unanticipated, and Asimov’s Science Fiction. Ruth Berman has also been on the faculty of the University of Minnesota. She was one of the founding members of The Rivendell Group in 1973. She was also a founding member of Minn-Stf, the local Minnesota Science Fiction Society, and has been extensively involved with helping the Minnesota speculative literary scene become what it is today. A selection of Ruth’s poems.
  • Terry A. Garey is a longstanding member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, providing poetry workshops singularly and with her performance group, the Lady Poetesses From Hell. She is a writer and editor. Her poems have been published in many journals and anthologies going back to at least 1978. She won the Rhysling Award in 1997 for “Spotting UFOs While Canning Tomatoes” and in 2013 for “The Cat Star.” She has edited poetry for Tales of the Unanticipated and speculative poetry anthologies including Time Gum, 1988, ed. Terry A. Garey and Eleanor Arnason, and Time Frames, 1991. Her non-fiction book, The Joy of Home Winemaking, has little to do with poetry, but is fun and instructive if you want to make wine. She lives with a librarian, two cats and many books in Minneapolis. A selection of Terry’s poems.
  • David C. Kopaska-Merkel’s poems have populated many magazines over two or more decades. He won the Rhysling Long Poem award with Kendall Evans in 2006 for “The Tin Men.” He was a nominee for the 2014 Elgin Award for Luminosity, and his The Edible Zoo placed 2nd and 3rd in 2013 and 2012 respectively. His dedicated work has helped keep the SFPA alive for years, serving first as Star*Line editor and then as President, plus maintaining Dreams & Nightmares, a quality magazine (the longest running print SFP magazine) that publishes spec poetry from one and all—without prejudice, encouraging new artists as well, for prozine pay out of his own pocket—and a poetry blog. He was a featured poet guest at ICFA, 2013. He serves as Chair and editor of the 2017 Rhysling Award and Rhysling Anthology.
  • Ann K. Schwader is an extraordinarily accomplished member of the SFPA. Her fiction and verse have been published in such magazines as Spectral Realms, Weirdbook, The Lovecraft EZine, Fungi, Weird Fiction Review, Dark Wisdom, Weird Tales, Strange Horizons, Dreams & Nightmares, Mythic Delirium, The Magazine of Speculative Poetry, Tales of the Unanticipated, The Weird Fiction Review, Star*Line, and Space & Time. Her mainstream haiku have recently appeared in countless specialized journals. Her most recent collection of weird verse, Dark Energies, was published by P’rea Press in August 2015 and a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award. An omnibus collection, Twisted In Dream (Hippocampus Press, 2011); Wild Hunt of the Stars (Sam’s Dot Publishing, 2010), a collection of dark science fiction poems was a Bram Stoker Award Finalist for that year; her SF / Lovecraftian sonnet sequence, In the Yaddith Time (Mythos Books, 2007), preceded. She has won the Rhysling Award on two occasions: 2016 Long Form (tie) “Keziah” and 2010 Short Form “To Theia”. Her poetry has been nominated for and garnered 2nd or 3rd in the Rhysling Award at least 3 other times. Her collection Dark Energies received 3rd place in the 2016 Elgin Award.

[Thanks to F.J. Bergmann for assisting with the story.] 

Pixel Scroll 3/27/17 On The Gripping Hand Of Darkness

(1) SPACE, THE INITIAL FRONTIER. In a profile published in the October 17 New Yorker, Julie Phillips reveals why Ursula Le Guin’s name has a space in it.

Her husband’s birth name was Charles LeGuin.  They were married in France, and “when they applied for a marriage license, a ‘triumphant bureaucrat’ told Charles his Breton name was ‘spelled wrong’ without a space, so when they married they both took the name Le Guin.”

(2) JUST MISSPELL MY NAME CORRECTLY. By a vote of the members, the Science Fiction Poetry Association has renamed itself the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association. Although its name has changed, the organization will keep using the initials SFPA.

And nearly every time the poets talk about SFPA in the hearing of old-time fanzine fans you can depend on someone dropping a heavy hint that they’re at risk being mixed up with a pre-existing fan group that uses the same abbreviation. Today it was Andrew Porter chirping in a comment on the announcement —

Not to be confused with the Southern Fandom Press Association, which has been around for more than 40 years…

Unfortunately it’s Porter who is confused, as he seems to have forgotten the apa’s name is the Southern Fandom Press Alliance.

(3) SAMOVAR LAUNCHES. A new sff magazine, Samovar, launched today, featuring “the best of speculative fiction in translation including original stories, reprints, poetry, reviews and more material, as well as printing translations alongside the stories in their original language.” Samovar will be produced as a quarterly, special imprint of Strange Horizons.

“Stories tell us who we are, and let us see who other people are. We already have access to an enormous wealth of speculative fiction in English, but we want to know more” – The Samovar editorial team.

What wondrous fantastical tales are being conjured in Finnish? Who writes the best Nigerian space odysseys? Is Mongolia hiding an epic fantasy author waiting to be discovered? We want to know, and we aim to find out.

For Samovar, writers and translators are of equal importance, and we do our best to shine a spotlight on the talented individuals who pen both the original and the translated version of a story. We hope that in this way we can boost the profile of speculative fiction in translation so that everyone involved receives the recognition they deserve and so we can all continue to enjoy the strange, mind-bending and fantastical fiction of all cultures.

In issue one: two sisters create an imagined world where things that are lost can be found. A despot is forced to see the truth he’s tried to hide from. An academic finds poetry, science fiction and reality beginning to merge. And the Curiosity Rover turns its own sardonic gaze on Mars.

The Samovar editorial team is Laura Friis, Greg West and Sarah Dodd. Their advisory board includes Helen MarshallRachel Cordasco and Marian Via Rivera-Womack.

(4) TENSION, APPREHENSION, AND DISSENSION. The Atlantic’s Megan Garber asks: What’s the opposite of a “cliffhanger”?

Extended cliffhangers (cliffstayers? cliffhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaangers?) have animated some of the most narratively powerful works of television of recent years; they have helped to heighten the tension in shows like Breaking Bad (how low will Walt go?) and Serial (did he do it?) and Quantico (did she do it?) and True Detective (who did it?) and Lost (who are they? where are they?) and, in general, pretty much any sitcom that has ever featured, simmering just below its surface, some will-they-or-won’t-they sexual tension.

What’s especially notable about the recent shows that are employing the device, though, is that they’re locating the tension in one (unanswered) question. They’re operating in direct opposition to the way traditional cliffhangers were primarily used: between installments, between episodes, between seasons, in the interstitial spaces that might otherwise find a story’s momentum stalling. Big Little Lies and Riverdale and This Is Us and all the rest are taking the specific narrative logic of “Who shot J.R.?” and flipping it: The tension here exists not necessarily to capture audience interest over a show’s hiatus (although, certainly, there’s a little of that, too), but much more to infuse the content of the show at large with a lurking mystery. Things simmer rather than boil. The cliffhanger is less about one shocking event with one central question, and more about a central mystery that insinuates itself over an entire season (and, sometimes, an entire series).

(5) SLOWER THAN LIGHT COMMUNICATION. This is how social media works: I never heard of Harry Potter & the Methods of Rationality until somebody complained about it.

The appeal for a 2016 Hugo nomination was posted by the author in 2015.

First, the following request: I would like any readers who think that HPMOR deserves it sufficiently, and who are attending or supporting the 2015, 2016, or 2017 Worldcon, to next year, nominate Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality for Best Novel in the 2016 Hugos. Whether you then actually vote for HPMOR as Best Novel is something I won’t request outright, since I don’t know what other novels will be competing in 2016. After all the nominees are announced, look over what’s there and vote for what you think is best.

I don’t know how many votes he ended up getting but it wasn’t enough to rank among the top 15 works reported by MidAmeriCon II.

(6) FINALLY A GOOD WORD ABOUT THE MOVIES. Book View Café’s Diana Pharoah Francis was both nostalgic and thoughtful after hosting a Lord of the Rings marathon at home.

…Among the SF/F communities, it was this extraordinary vision come to life in a way we had never experienced before. It was not cheesy or all about the CGI. It was about strength, honor, choices, and hope. It was real characters in dreadful situations. The watching of heroes being made and broken beneath weights no one should have to bear. And Aragorn — a king in the making. A soul of strength and doubt and humility.

The movies were inspiring on a lot of fronts. I think it’s appropriate to watch it now in a world that is struggling so hard against itself. With so much fear, and worry and such dire enemies. Who are those enemies? Too many are ourselves. Our fears that turn us into monsters or traitors. Denethor, Gollum, Boromir, the Nazgul — absolute power corrupts. There are those who give up. Those who refuse to fight. Those who lose themselves.

The stories, the movies and the books, are a view into ourselves and what we can hope to be and what we may become — good and bad. It’s a reminder that it’s never a good time to quit in the battle against darkness — in whatever shape it takes….

(7) MAKE ROOM! MAKE ROOM! ON YOUR SHELVES. James Davis Nicoll names “Twenty Core Space Operas Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves”.

“Chosen entirely on the basis of merit,” says James, “with a side-order of not repeating titles that were on the first list.”

(8) TWEETS OF THE DAY ABOUT TWO WEEKS AGO. I felt a disturbance in the force. Just not right away.

(9) FIVE PLUS TWO. John Scalzi offers “7 Tips for Writing a Bestselling Science Fiction Novel” at Female First. This is my favorite:

Make your universe two questions deep. By which I mean, make it so when someone asks you a question about why/how you created or portrayed the universe, character etc the way you did, you have a smart, cogent answer for it, consistent with the construction of the book. And then when they have a follow-up question, be able to answer that effectively, too. That will make 95% of your readers happy with your worldbuilding (the other 5% are SUPER nerds. Which is fine! For them, say “Oh, I’m glad you asked that. I’m totally going to address that in the sequel.” Try it! It works!).

Strangely enough, none of his seven tips is “Start a fuss with somebody in social media.”

(10) SECOND FIFTH. But as we just witnessed last week, that is part of the Castalia House playbook – which is evidently followed by Rule #2, “Stalk real bestselling writers on their book tours.”

Here’s a video of a jackass asking John Scalzi to sign Vox Day’s SJWs Always Lie, and posing an insulting question about John’s Tor book deal. You’ll note the book in John’s hand has not been autographed by Vox Day. When is his book tour?

(11) HOT OFF THE PRESS. Liz Colter (writing as L. D. Colter) has a new book out this week – A Borrowed Hell.

Facing a sad, empty life, July always persevered by looking forward. An unhappy childhood, a litany of failed relationships, and even losing his job–none of it could stop him. But then the foreclosure notice arrives, and July is facing losing the one thing that keeps him grounded–his home.

With pain in his past and now in his future, July gives up and starts down the same road of self-destruction that the rest of his family had followed. It is only when he awakens in a hospital after a violent car accident that things change.

He starts to experience blackouts, which leave him in an alternate reality of empty desert and strange residents. It is a nightmarish world that somehow makes the real world seem that much better. Then he meets a woman that becomes a beacon of light, and his life starts to turn around.

But the blackouts continue, sending him to the alternate reality more often and for longer periods of time. Realizing that he may never escape, July asks the question he’d always been afraid to ask: How can he finally be free? The answer is one he’s not sure he can face.

I can’t resist a droll bio:

Due to a varied work background, Liz can boast a modest degree of knowledge about harnessing, hitching, and working draft horses, canoe expeditioning, and medicine. She’s also worked as a rollerskating waitress and knows more about concrete than you might suspect.

(12) HISTORY MINUS FDR. The LA Times says a bestselling author has a new trilogy on the way.

Charlaine Harris, whose Sookie Stackhouse books inspired the television series “True Blood,” will release the first book in a new trilogy next year.

Harris’ novel “Texoma” will be published in fall 2018 by Saga Press, a science fiction and fantasy imprint of Simon & Schuster, the publisher announced in a news release.

“Texoma” will be a work of speculative fiction that takes place in “an alternate history of a broken America weakened by the Great Depression and the assassination of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.”

(13) DAMP YANKEES. In New York Magazine’s author interview “Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140: To Save the City, We Had to Drown It”, Robinson discusses why the book is surprisingly optimistic, how his thoughts on the global economy influenced 2140, and how he came up with the time frame for the book.

…[T]here were two goals going on that forced me to choose the date 2140, and those two goals cut against each other. I needed to put it far enough out in the future that I could claim a little bit of physical probability to the height of the sea-level rise of 50 feet, which is quite extreme. A lot of models have it at 15 feet, though some do say 50 feet. So I did have to go out like a 120 years from now.

Cutting against that future scenario, I wanted to talk about the financial situation we’re in, this moment of late capitalism where we can’t afford the changes we need to make in order to survive because it isn’t cost effective. These economic measures need to be revised so that we pay ourselves to do the work to survive as a civilization facing climate change.

I wanted a finance novel that was heavily based on what lessons we learned — or did not learn — from the crash of 2008 and 2009. All science-fiction novels are about the future and about the present at the same time.

(14) WEBCAST. Another Spider-Man trailer will be out tomorrow – here’s a seven-second teaser for it.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/27/17 That’s it! Scroll Over Man, Scroll Over!

(1) ACADEMY INVITES LE GUIN. Ursula K. LeGuin has been voted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters reports SFGate. The 87-year-old Le Guin is one of 14 new core members of the Academy.

The arts academy, an honorary society with a core membership of 250 writers, artists, composers and architects, once shunned “genre” writers such as Le Guin. Even such giants as science fiction writer Ray Bradbury and crime novelist Elmore Leonard never got in.

Academy member Michael Chabon, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, advocated for Le Guin.

“As a deviser of worlds, as a literary stylist, as a social critic and as a storyteller, Le Guin has no peer,” he wrote in his recommendation, shared with the AP, that she be admitted. “From the time of her first published work in the mid-1960s, she began to push against the confines of science fiction, bringing to bear an anthropologist’s acute eye for large social textures and mythic structures, a fierce egalitarianism and a remarkable gift of language, without ever renouncing the sense of wonder and the spirit of play inherent in her genre of origin.”

(2) 2017 RHYSLING ANTHOLOGY COVER REVEAL. Hat tip to F.J. Bergmann.

(3) NEW FICTION WEBZINE. Science fiction and fantasy book imprint Strange Fictions Press will officially launch Strange Fictions SciFi & Fantasy Zine on February 28 with “This Chicken Outfit,” by Pushcart nominated author, A.L. Sirois. Siriois’ short stories have appeared in ThemaAmazing Stories, and Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. He has also contributed comic art for DC, Marvel, and Charlton.

Strange Fictions will focus “on publishing speculative short fiction, nonfiction, art, and poetry twice a week for genre fans worldwide.”  New stories, poems, and essays will appear every Tuesday and Friday. Subscribers can sign up for email notifications whenever a new story is posted.

Strange Fictions SF&F Zine is open to submissions from both new and experienced genre writers, and details can be found at the website.

Authors of acquired pieces for Strange Fictions SF&F ‘Zine will receive a flat fee payment of $5 for stories, essays, poetry, and book reviews of 4,999 words and under and $10 for stories, essays, poetry, and book reviews of 5,000-10,000.

(4) ALOFT. Martin Morse Wooster recommends Miyazaki Dreams of Flying as “a lovely compilation of flying scenes from Miyazaki films, including an interview where the great animator expresses his love of airplanes.”

(5) DEFYING THE LAW…OF GRAVITY. In “Mars Needs Lawyers” on FiveThirtyEight, Maggie Koerth-Baker looks at the many problems of international law that have to be solved in we’re ever going to have successful Mars missions.  For example:  if you have astronauts from five countries flying in a spacecraft that’s registered in Liberia, how do you figure out which country’s law applies?

For instance, a limited number of satellites can orbit the Earth simultaneously. Put up too many, and you end up with an expensive game of celestial bumper cars. But some countries — Russia and the United States, in particular — had a big head start on gobbling up those slots. What do you do if you’re Nigeria? Today, Gabrynowicz said, the international community has settled on a regulatory system that attempts to balance the needs of nations that can put an object into geostationary orbit first with the needs of those that aren’t there yet but could be later. And even this compromise is still extremely controversial.

The same basic disagreement behind them will apply to Mars, too. And it’s at issue right now in the U.S., as lawmakers try to figure out how best to implement the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act — a bill signed by President Obama in November 2015. That law states that U.S. companies can own and sell space resources — including minerals and water. But the details of what this means in practice haven’t been worked out yet, Gabrynowicz said. Legal experts say that those details will make the difference in terms of whether the law puts the U.S. in violation of the Outer Space Treaty.

This question of whether space should be an Old West-style gold rush or an equitably distributed public commons could have been settled decades ago, with the 1979 Moon Agreement (aka the Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies), which would have established space as part of the “common heritage of mankind.” What this would have meant in practice is not totally clear. But at the time, opponents saw it as having the potential to ban all private enterprise and effectively turn the heavens into a United Nations dictatorship. It ended up being signed by a handful of countries, most of which have no space program. But it is international law, and if humans go to Mars, though, we’ll likely end up debating this issue again.

(6) GAME WRITING. Monica Valentinelli gives an “Overview of Game Production and the Role of Writers” at the SFWA Blog.

One of the things I enjoy doing as a game developer is hiring new writers. In almost every case, writers are shocked to learn how many levers and pulleys there are in game production. This tends to hold true regardless of what kind of game a writer is contributing to; in part, this has to do with the process of transitioning from a consumer’s mindset (e.g. fan, critic, reviewer) to that of a creator’s. Sometimes, however, the process is confusing because there are aspects physical development that writers aren’t always involved with. A good example of this is that developers often regard word processing documents with an eye for production when they redline and provide comments. What’s laid out vertically on a page in text isn’t how it will be rendered in the final product, and that has a huge impact on what the writers are hired to write, edit, and make changes on. Sometimes, the number of words that fit on a page or a screen can also shape a writer’s assignment, too.

Other, lesser-known aspects of production might include:

  • Canon or Setting Bible creation
  • Systems/rules documentation
  • Marketing copy and sell sheets
  • Outlining and project management
  • Mock-ups and proofs for manufacturing
  • Playtest or beta editions

(7) DISNEY’S DUDEFRÉRES. Another clip from the live-action Beauty and the Beast shows LeFou singing “My, what a guy, that Gaston!” With Luke Evans as Gaston and Josh Gad as LeFou.

(8) VOIR DIRE STRAITS. Shadow Clarke juror Jonathan McCalmont followed his introductory post with an entry on his ownblog, Ruthless Culture “Genre Origin Stories”.

A couple of things that occurred to me upon re-reading the piece:

Firstly, I think it does a pretty good job of capturing how I currently feel about the institutions of genre culture. To be blunt, I don’t think that genre fandom survived the culture wars of 2015 and I think genre culture has now entered a post-apocalyptic phase in which a few institutional citadels manage to keep the lights on while the rest of the field is little more than a blasted wasteland full of isolated, lonely people. One reason why I agreed to get involved with shadowing the Clarke Award is that I see the Shadow Clarke as an opportunity to build something new that re-introduces the idea that engaging with literary science fiction can be about more than denouncing your former friends and providing under-supported writers with free PR….

McCalmont’s post includes a high overview of the past 40 years of fanhistory. I was surprised to find many points of agreement, such as his takes about things that frustrated me at the time they were happening, or that I witnessed affecting my friends among the LA locals who founded anime fandom.

Regardless of whether they are conventional, idiosyncratic, or simply products of distracted parenting, our paths into science fiction cannot help but shape our understanding and expectations of the field. Unfortunately, where there is difference there is bound to be misunderstanding and where there is misunderstanding there must inevitably be conflict.

The problem is that while the walls of science fiction may be infinitely porous and allow for inspiration from different cultures and artistic forms, the cultural institutions surrounding science fiction have shown themselves to be remarkably inflexible when it comes to making allowances for other people’s genre origin stories.

The roots of the problem are as old as genre fandom itself. In fact, the very first Worldcon saw the members of one science fiction club deny entry to the membership of another on the grounds that the interlopers were socialists whose politicised understanding of speculative fiction posed an existential threat to the genre’s continued existence. A similar conflict erupted when the unexpected success of Star Wars turned a niche literary genre into a mass market phenomenon. Faced with the prospect of making allowances for legions of new fans with radically different ideas as to what constituted good science fiction, the institutions of genre fandom responded with sluggishness indistinguishable from hostility. Media fandom was born when traditional fandom refused to expand its horizons and the same thing happened again in the early 1990s when fans of anime decided that it was better to build their own institutions than to fight street-by-street for the right to be hidden away in the smallest and hottest rooms that science fiction conventions had to offer.

The institutions of genre culture may pride themselves on their inclusiveness and forward-thinking but this is largely a product of the excluded not sticking around long enough to give their own sides of the story. Time and again, the institutions of genre culture have been offered the chance to get in on the ground floor when science-fictional ideas began to manifest themselves in different ways. Time and again, the institutions of genre culture have chosen to protect the primacy of the familiar over the vibrancy of the new and the different….

Cultural commentators may choose to characterise 2015 as the year in which genre culture rejected the misogynistic white supremacy of the American right but the real message is far more nuanced. Though the institutions of genre culture have undoubtedly improved when it comes to reflecting the diversity not only of the field but also of society at large, this movement towards ethnic and sexual diversity has coincided with a broader movement of aesthetic conservatism as voices young and old find themselves corralled into a narrowing range of hyper-commercial forms.

I thought that was well said. Unfortunately, I also read the comments.

(9) BELATED BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • February 24, 1909 – August Derleth
  • February 26, 1918 – Theodore Sturgeon

(10) THE STRAIGHT POOP. “Do Cats Cause Schizophrenia? Believe the Science, Not the Hype” advises WIRED.

The link between schizophrenia and cats goes back to the 1970s, when psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey learned that viruses from dogs might trigger multiple sclerosis—a neurological condition—in humans. “That got me thinking about which animals host which infectious agents,” he says. Soon, he learned that cats host the most successful infectious bacteria in the world: Toxoplasma gondii. Looking into previously published research, he found plenty of studies showing that schizophrenics often had higher levels of toxoplasma antibodies in their blood than people without the mental illness.

Then he started surveying schizophrenics about their life history, and found that many had indeed lived with cats. But what’s important isn’t just if, it’s when. See, Torrey’s theory isn’t merely that T. gondii causes mental illness, it’s that it somehow alters the development of a person’s brain during crucial periods of brain development—and probably only if that person is genetically predisposed to schizophrenia. It’s a complicated hypothesis, and even after four decades of study, Torrey says he’s still not totally convinced it’s fact. Hence, his continued research on the subject.

Still, every study he publishes—his most recent, dropped in July of 2015—attracts the media like nip. Same with refutations, like the one published this week. The authors analyzed a dataset of 5,000 UK children, looking for a correlation between cat ownership during critical ages of brain development and behavioral indicators of later psychosis (like dark thoughts) at the ages of 13 and 18. Their statistical analysis of the results showed no correlation. Most (but not all) news websites ran with some variation of “Relax, Cats Don’t Cause Schizophrenia.”

But that’s not what the study said.

(11) GUESS WHO. From 2015. David Tennant’s NTA Special Recognition – his reaction: “Actor Sees A Tribute Video On Screen. The Realizes It’s For Him And He Can’t Believe It”

(12) TELL YOUR FRIENDS. Carl Slaughter says, “This documentary convincingly demonstrates how the Batman movies/trilogies reflect the cultural era in which they were produced.”

  • 60s Batman  –  prosperity
  • 70s  –  disillusionment  –  no Batman movies
  • Batman  –  escapism
  • Batman Returns  –  anti rich
  • Batman Forever, Batman & Robin  –  safety
  • Batman Begins, Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises  –  fear
  • Batman versus Superman  –  extremism

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

2017 Rhysling Award Nominees

The Science Fiction Poetry Association has finalized its 2017 Rhysling Award candidates.

The Rhysling Award is given in two categories. “Best Long Poem” is for poems of 50+ lines, or for prose poems, of 500+ words. “Best Short Poem” is limited to poems of no more than 49 lines, or prose poems of no more than 499 words.

SFPA’s F.J. Bergmann confirmed this year’s entries broke all the new records set last year for the highest number of nominated poems the award has ever had (93 short and 60 long), coming from the longest list of publications, 77. Strange Horizons and Star*Line (SFPA’s own newsletter) tied for publishing the most nominees, 11.

Short Poems (93 poems)
“3d printer” • Francis Wesley Alexander • Scifaikuest November
“Adolescence” • Ken Poyner • Star*Line 39.4
“After” • Herb Kauderer • Asimov’s SF November/December
“Always the Black and White Keys” • Corrine deWinter • Horror Writers Association Poetry Showcase Vol. III, ed. David E. Cowen
“Annie&Diana/One Canoe” • Shari Caplan • Nonbinary Review 11: Anne of Green Gables
“Antagonist” • F.J. Bergmann • Spectral Realms 5
“appendage sale” • Susan Burch • Star*Line 39.2
“The Architect of Bonfires” • Tonya Liburd •  Space & Time 127
“The Ash Manifesto” • Rose Lemberg • Strange Horizons 10 October
“At the Robot National Convention” • Alan Ira Gordon • Star*Line 39.3
“The Bird Prince” • John W. Sexton • Faerie Magazine Summer
“The birds forget to sing” •  Carl Mayfield • Abbey 147
“Black Bull of Norroway” • Jane Yolen • Goblin Fruit Winter
“Bones Knock in the House” • Mary McMyne • Rose Red Review 18
“Bottle Cast Upon A Dry Sea” • G.O. Clark • Asimov’s Science Fiction February
“The Box of Dust and Monsters” • Beth Cato • Devilfish Review 17
“A Bug in the System” • Anton Cancre • Quick Shivers about Bugs (Cosmonomic Multimedia)
“Build a Rocketship Contest: Alternative Class A Instructions and Suggestions” • Wendy Rathbone • Asimov’s SF January
“Christmas on Mars” • Carolyn M. Hinderliter •  Scifaikuest Vol. XIII, No. 4
“Classification of Folktales” • Margaret Wack • Strange Horizons
“The Dark between the Stars” • G.O. Clark • Star*Line 39.4
“Death Rides USAir At Night” • Jane Yolen • Parody 5:1
“Descent of the Composer” • Airea D. Matthews • Poem-a-Day October 24, Academy of American Poets
“Doppelgänger and the Ghost” • Lev Mirov • Eye to the Telescope 22
“Dorothy Delivered” • Kathleen A. Lawrence • Altered Reality Magazine 1
“Exotic Heads Trimmed Neatly” • John Reinhart • Eye to the Telescope 21
“Falling (A Part)” • Alexandra Erin •  medium.com June 8
“The Fantasy of Hans Christian Andersen” • KH Van Berkum • Strange Horizons February 8
Feles Alieni Vere Sunt • Neile Graham • Devilfish Review 17
“*For Quick Sale*” • Greer Woodward • Lupine Lunes, ed. Lester Smith (Popcorn Press)
“Foreign Policy” • David Barber • Star*Line 39.3
“The Frog” • K. Cassandra O’Malley • The Well of Changes (Bag Person Press) [reprint permission unavailable]
“George Tecumseh Sherman’s Ghosts” • Marge Simon • Silver Blade 32
“The Genius” • Sara Backer • Mithila Review 3
“The Giantess’s Dream” • Ada Hoffman • Twisted Moon 1
“Godzilla vs. King Kong” • James S. Dorr • Dreams and Nightmares 103
“History Teacher” • Gary Every • Star*Line 39.4
“How far does night have to fall?” • F.J. Bergmann • The Future Fire 38
“I Left My Heart in San Francisco. I Left Yours Somewhere in Colorado …” • Matt Betts • Underwater Fistfight (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
“Ink” • Akua Lezli Hope • Yellow Chair Review, Horror Issue, October
“Invocation of Diana” • K.A. Opperman • Eternal Haunted Summer Summer
“The Last Woman on Earth” • Mary Stone • Amethyst Arsenic 6:1
“Learning the History of War” J.J. Steinfeld • Star*Line 39.3
“Less than Human” • Marge Simon • You, Human (Dark Regions Press)
“The Long Run” • Neil Gaiman • Uncanny November/December
“Loose String” E. Kristin Anderson • Coe Review 47.1
“Love in the Time of Apocalypse” • Ann Thornfield-Long • Silver Blade 31
“Marginalia on Eiruvin 45b” • Bogi Takács • Bracken Magazine 2
“Martian Garden” • John Philip Johnson • The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction July/August 2016
“Memorial (for Jonathan Franzen)” • Tim Jones • New Sea Land (Makaro Press)
“The Memory Machines” • Jane Williams • The Pedestal Magazine 79
“My Corpse My Groom” • Ashley Dioses • The Audient Void: A Journal of Weird Fiction and Dark Fantasy 1
“My Pet Alien” • Dennis Caswell• Rattle Fall
“A Natural History of Snow” • David Clink • The Role of Lightning in Evolution (Kelp Queen Press, CZP)
“Nothing Goes Away” • A.J. Odasso • The New England Review of Books
“Of My Wounds, There Are Many” • Stephanie M. Wytovich • Sanitarium Magazine 48
“The Old Ones gather” • Terrie Leigh Relf • Scifaikuest May
“Orpheus” • Ace G. Pilkington • The Horror Zine June
“Past Imperfect” • Deborah L. Davitt • Poetry Quarterly Summer
“The persecution of witches” • Ali Trotta • Uncanny 11
“The Phosphorescent Fungi” • D. L. Myers • Spectral Realms 4
“Propagation” • Layla Al-Bedawi • Strange Horizons 18 April
“Quack” • Neal Wilgus • Dreams and Nightmares 104
“Quasar” • Triin Paja • Cleaver 14
“Returning” • Mary Soon Lee •  The Open Mouse May 6
“Richard Feynman’s Commute” • John Weswick • The Were-Traveler December 21
“Riding the Dark” B.J. Lee • Frostfire Worlds February
“Robot Testimonial Z” • Margaret Rhee • Mission at Tenth
“Rusalka” • Jane Yolen • Mythic Delirium 3.1
“Sappho and the Woman of Starlight” • John W. Sexton • Eternal Haunted Summer Winter
“Selkie” • E. Kristin Anderson • Faerie Magazine Summer
“Skin” • Alice Fanchiang • Liminality 10
“Song of the Encantado” • Jeremy Paden • Apex Magazine 83
“Space Opera” • Vince Gotera • Altered Reality Magazine 1
“The Sparrows in Her Hair” • Hester J. Rook • Strange Horizons 18 July
“The Spook Tree” • Cindy O’Quinn • Blood Moon Rising Magazine 66
“Star Dust” • Josh Brown • Illumen 25
“Stellar Quake” • John C. Mannone • The New England Journal of Medicine 375:1305
“Supercomputer Spends the Night” • Danielle Zaccagnino • Weirderary 4
“Sutekh From The Throne” • Denise Dumars • Horror Writers Association Poetry Showcase Vol. III, ed. David E. Cowen
“Terran Mythology” Shannon Connor Winward • Analog Science Fiction and Fact October
“This Rat” • Anne Carly Abad • Chrome Baby 48
“To Live In The Zombie Apocalypse” • Burlee Vang • Poem-A-Day December 20
“To the Girl Who Ran Through Crop Circles” • Karen J. Weyant • Strange Horizons 18 August
“Until Dawn” • Michael H. Hanson • Poetic Hustles 2 (Black Freighter Productions)
La Villa de Sirenia” • Jack Ralls • Star*Line 39.4
“Well, Water, Stars” • Adele Gardner • Silver Blade 32
“Why Elephants No Longer Communicate in Greek” • Timons Esaias • Why Elephants No Longer Communicate in Greek (Concrete Wolf)
“Widening Gyre” • A.J. Odasso • Not A Drop anthology (Beautiful Dragons Press)
“Witch Lord of the Hunt” • Ashley Dioses • Eternal Haunted Summer Spring
“The woman on the bus encounters time dilation” • Daniel R. Jones • Altered Reality Magazine
“World’s Tiniest Human” • Muriel Leung • The Adroit Journal 16

 

Long Poems (60 poems)
“Absentation” • Lesley Wheeler • Thrush Poetry Journal November
“Adam’s Rendezvous with Dante” • John C. Mannone • Last Darn Rites Anthology (Whitesboro Writers, 2016)
“Alice-Ecila” • Steph Post • Nonbinary Review 10: Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass
“At Issue, the Miramo” • Ken Poyner • Dreams and Nightmares 103
“Best of” • Sarah Ann Winn •  Found Poetry Review: Bowietry
“The Blind Elephants of Io” • Karen Bovenmyer • Shortest Day, Longest Night (Arachne Press)
“The Butterflies of Traxl IV” • John Reinhart • The Pedestal Magazine 79
“The Chinese Pirate Ching Shih Plays Go With a Hooded Opponent” • Kendall Evans • Abyss & Apex 59
“Cobblestone Dragon” • Herb Kauderer • Polu Texni July 11
“Dame Evergreen” • Rebecca Buchanan • Faerie Magazine Winter
“The Dark Lord’s Diary” • Lee S. Hawke • Star*Line 39.1
“Data Mine” • Alexandra Erin • medium.com October 24
“The Death of the Horse” •  Beth Cato • Remixt Magazine 1:8
“Defender Prime” • A.C. Spahn • Outposts of Beyond July
“Elegy for Iain Banks” • Vince Gotera • Star*Line 39.3
“Exploratory Colony 454—15th May, 2052” • Lore Bernier • Eye to the Telescope 20
“First Lesson” • Mary Soon Lee • Silver Blade 30
“For Lonnie” • Holly Walrath • Liminality 9
“Further” • F.J. Bergmann • Lovecraft eZine 38
“Getting Winterized: A Guide To Winter Living” • Elizabeth R. McClellan • Angels of the Meanwhile April
“god-date” • Brandon O’Brien • Uncanny 9
“The Great Unknown” • Bruce Boston and Alessandro Manzetti • Illumen Spring
“Houses of the living, houses of the dead” • Jenny Blackford • Ipswich Poetry Feast International Poetry Competition, Highly Commended
“I Will Be Your Grave” • Tlotlo Tsamaase • Strange Horizons 7 November
Im Wald • Sandi Leibowitz • Mythic Delirium 3.2
“In Defence of Science” • David Clink • The Role of Lightning in Evolution (Kelp Queen Press, CZP)
“The Inconceivable Shape” • Simon Smith • Chrome Baby 45
“Interview with a 22nd-Century Sex Worker” • Darren Lipman • Strange Horizons 4 July
“The Journeymaker to Keddar (II)” • Rose Lemberg • Marginalia to Stone Bird (Aqueduct Press)
“Legend of the Albino Pythons and the Bloody Child” • Bruce Boston & Alessandro Manzetti • Polu Texni 18 April
“The Leviathans of Europa” • Christina Sng • Polu Texni 10 October
“The Lies You Learned” • S. Qiouyi Lu • Liminality 7
“little stomach” • Charlotte Geater • Strange Horizons 26 September
“Luminous Decay” • Robert Frazier • Dreams and Nightmares 103
“Morning During Migration Season” • Beth Cato • Star*Line 39.4
“Not Like This” • Mary Soon Lee • Apex Magazine August 4
Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas Lost at Sea, 1527” • Lisa M. Bradley • Strange Horizons 3 October [reprint permission declined]
“Phoenix Fire, Tabula Rasa” • Kim Eun-byeol • Stone Telling 13
“The Poem Gardens of the Ascari” • Rohinton Daruwala • Strange Horizons 13 June
“Portrait of the Captain with Small Waiting Objects” • T.D. Walker • Recompose 2
“Revolution” • Holly Lyn Walrath • Abyss & Apex 58
“The Rime of the Eldritch Mariner” • Adam Bolivar • Spectral Realms 5
“The Robot by the Fireplace” • Ken Poyner • Eye to the Telescope 20
“Rose Child” • Theodora Goss • Uncanny 13
“Salome’s New King” • Terry Miller • Devolution Z: The Horror Magazine 10
“Sargasso Sea” • A.J. Odasso • Remixt Magazine 1:1
“Spoiler Alert” • Matt Betts • Underwater Fistfight (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
“The Starlet Who Married A Monster” • Robert Borski • Lupine Lunes, ed. Lester Smith (Popcorn Press)
“Storm Miners” • Deborah L. Davitt • Blue Monday Review August
“Surviving a Canadian Poem” • David Clink • The Role of Lightning in Evolution (Kelp Queen Press, CZP)
“Talk to the Machines” • Johan Jönsson • Dreams and Nightmares 104
“Thirteen Ways to See a Ghost” • Shannon Connor Winward • 2016 SFPA Poetry Contest
“To the weaver, from the woman who slew Bakunawa” • M. Sereno • Stone Telling 13
“Väinämöinen Sings” • Jennifer Lawrence • Eternal Haunted Summer Winter
“We Shall Meet in the Star-Spackled Ruins” • Wendy Rathbone • 2016 SFPA Poetry Contest
“Were-” • Naru Dames Sundar • Liminality Summer
“Werewolf” • K.A. Opperman • Spectral Realms 4
“What Wants Us” • Karolina Fedyk • Star*Line 39.1
“When Coyote Called Down the Stars” • Aaron Vlek • The Were-Traveler December 21
“When the Gunman Comes” • Edith Hope Bishop • Mythic Delirium 2.3

 

A Speculative Kerfuffle

The Science Fiction Poetry Association is taking nominations from members for the Rhysling Awards until February 15. A.J. Odasso, Strange Horizons Senior Poetry Editor, nominated two poems published by Strange Horizons (which is within the rules) but originally one of them was rejected as insufficiently speculative. The nomination was soon restored – amid charges of racism against Rhysling Award decision makers,  and raking up the personal history of another SFPA volulnteer. And debate continues over the elusive definition of “speculative poetry.”

A.J. Odasso protested against the original decision in a January 14 tweet and followed up on January 17 with a blog post “Concern re: removal of a 2017 Rhysling Award nomination”.

Since nominations are currently open until February 15th for this year’s Rhysling Awards, I did what I usually do: nominate one short poem and one long poem, both of which happened to be poems that I and one of my co-editors had published in Strange Horizons during the course of 2016.  In addition to meeting the line-count requirements, both poems were published in the correct year, in a magazine of speculative literature.  There are rules against nominating your own work, but there are no rules against nominating work you’ve had a hand in publishing.  And it’s a good thing there aren’t, because reading submissions guarantees you’re at the front lines of reading the most exciting new work your community has to offer.

[The poem was selected for Strange Horizons by another poetry editor. Strange Horizons has four.] 

… While I was at Arisia this past weekend dashing from panel to panel, I received an upsetting message from the current Rhysling Anthology Chair [previous SFPA president David Kopaska-Merkel].  My nomination for the Short Poem category, Layla Al-Bedawi’s “Propagation,” had been accepted, but my Long Poem nomination, Tlotlo Tsamaase’s “I Will Be Your Grave,” had been rejected.  I was being asked to find a different long poem to nominate because Tlotlo’s piece was apparently not speculative enough.  First of all, I’d never heard of nominations being rejected; second of all, the nomination had already been made public on the website.  Poets had already been engaged in excitedly congratulating each other on their nominations for more than a week.  I was instantly outraged on Tlotlo’s behalf, as I can’t think of any universe in which publicly announcing a nomination and then deciding to revoke it after the fact isn’t bad form.  I spent a number of hours on email urging the [award] Chair to reconsider this decision in light of the fact that it would be deeply, deeply hurtful to the poet after they’d already seen their nomination, but Tlotlo’s piece was removed before the day was over.

… Mistake or not, this action is problematic for more reasons than I can reasonably delineate in one blog post.  At worst, it’s exclusionary and, yes, even racist to claim that a poem by a writer of color, published in a speculative magazine, is not speculative enough by white/Western standards to be worthy of nomination.  At best, it really is just a mistake, but even at that juncture, it had been publicly posted before being revoked.  It’s flat-out bad form to essentially tell someone, hey, congrats, you’ve earned this honor, and then say, oh, oops, sorry, our bad, it just didn’t conform to standards, we’ve got to pull it.  No matter which way you consider it (and, frankly, I consider it in both), Tlotlo’s owed an apology.

SFPA President Bryan Thao Worra responded the same day as the first tweet —

The same day that Odasso’s post was published, Lev Mirov took up the racial issue.

Elizabeth Barrette, in “Rhysling Award discrimination”, vigorously prosecuted the charges of racism and cultural insensitivity, beginning with an explanation of the African literary context of the poem, then launching into populist arguments against SFPA leadership.

…These perspectives are routinely excluded from white society and, especially, recognition such as awards. Often there’s no representation at all; when black people win awards, it tends to make the news because it doesn’t happen much. It’s usually not because the people rejecting them are the kind of racists who think black people are inferior. It’s because they think black ideas are uninteresting and irrelevant — in this case, “not speculative enough.” Not “good enough.” Not “really” speculative poetry. Not “worthy” of being permitted to compete at all. The awards typically go to things closer to the middle of the bell curve. Usually it’s because people don’t vote for black literature; the perspective shown by the award chairs and officers of the SFPA is common, though by no means universal. But sometimes it’s enforced from the top down, like this case when an African poem shows up to the literary lunch counter and is thrown out the door by organizational fiat. The member who nominated it is not permitted to have a voice regarding what speculative poetry “is,” the poem is not permitted to compete in the award despite meeting the technical standards, its author is excluded from the privileged circle of nominees, and the general membership is prevented from voicing our opinion about what is or is not “speculative enough” and “good enough” through our votes for the Rhysling Award. At the same time, this high-handed move directly blocks everyone else’s mindful efforts to promote diversity in speculative poetry by forcibly removing the option of voting for this poem. Our opinions and work don’t matter; we don’t get a choice. Someone else gets to decide that. Someone with more power. Someone more important. Someone who gets to say which poems and poets can sit at the literary lunch counter, or not. Institutionalized racism is difficult to fix precisely because of examples like this where someone in power can directly thwart other people’s hard work in solving the problem.

The Twitter exchange continued on January 17 –

Then, on January 18, this bluntly-worded tweet came out from the SFPA Twitter account.

And A.J. Odasso, in a comment added to the orignal post, asserted —

The SFPA is populated by a handful of people who really are as exclusionary as they appear to be, and they’ll go to any lengths to insist that they aren’t. And they don’t even seem to understand that a thing can still be racist even if they don’t intend it to be. Like we haven’t covered that enough?

In a further exchange of comments, Odasso laid the blame for the SFPA tweet at the feet of F.J. Bergmann, because SFPA’s webmaster had earlier tweeted an unsympathetic response from her personal account, and immediately dragged Bergmann’s WisCon controversies into the discussion.

However, Bergmann proved not to be the author of the SFPA tweet, that was SFPA officer Diane Severson:

I am Diane Severson, membership and communications chair of the SFPA, who tweets from @sfpoetry . It was not FJ Bergmann who made those blunders on Twitter, but me. I feel sick about this whole situation. I find it very difficult to respond to accusations such as had been made within the context of a tweet.

… We put our collective foot in it with Tlotlo Tsamaase’s poem. I hate that this sort of thing keeps happening to us. We are not evil. An unfortunate few (6 people) are tasked with running the organization. It is the desire of ALL of us to increase inclusivity and diversity within the organization and in our publications. I know that many feel it is not our job to police what is SpecPo. It has never been our intention to do so. With regard to early nominations, we had an unfortunate misunderstanding among those of us determining a nominated poem’s eligibility, which is not just whether it is Spec or not, since there are actual mistakes nominators make in regards to eligibility (year of publication, length, nominators membership, etc.). It was always our intention to ask the nominator for an “explanation” in the event the chair thought it didn’t seem speculative. It’s unclear to me whether that happened, AJ. Barring that we had intended that if only one of the officers thought it was “spec enough” it should be included. In this case, they were split in their impressions and the chair mistakenly thought we’d agreed it should be unanimous.

Odasso responded with an apology to Severson:

I’d like to apologize for my less tactful moments in all of this, too, up to and including assuming the identity of who made the tweets.

Severson continued:

It’s so hard to navigate these issues. No one gets the benefit of the doubt that missteps are unintentional and therefore one is always put in a defensive position. Instead of being informed of one’s errors and given a chance to rectify things, accusation and yes, intolerance is very often what’s led with. Like I said, I’m sick that this keeps happening, but I also have a hard time understanding why people don’t talk to us before tearing us a new one.

Severson also told Odasso that she actually owed the apology to Bergmann, but Odasso replied that Bergmann was deserving of her comments.

SFPA President Bryan Thao Worra made a public statement on January 19, to which he appended this unofficial comment showing he favored the restored nomination:

I always hope that we respect the premise that even if we don’t think of a particular poem as speculative by our personal definitions, at least one of our other members esteemed that poem enough to nominate for consideration. It stands, then, that we recognize those works as a professional courtesy, within reason. Or unreason, if that’s your thing.

The next day, on January 20, SFPA Secretary Shannon Connor Winward, gave her perspective in “Arbitrating Spec”.

….I’d like to share my thoughts, as both a writer and fan of speculative poetry as well as an SFPA officer with firsthand knowledge of the events that transpired.  I believe that, although it may be at times uncomfortable, this is one of those difficult conversations that needs to be had.

WHAT IS SPECULATIVE POETRY?

One of the first issues to appear on my radar as an elected officer of the SFPA was the fact that, even within an organization dedicated to speculative poetry, not everyone agrees on what “speculative” means.  While this may seem like a philosophical or semantic question, it’s also a practical one.  The SFPA exists to foster community among people who read and write speculative poetry.  Each year the SFPA publishes two award anthologies (the Rhysling and the Dwarf Stars) of speculative poetry, bestows the Elgin Award for chapbook and book-length speculative poetry manuscripts, and hosts a speculative poetry contest with cash prizes, with the express purpose of highlighting the very best speculative poetry being written today.  Without a clear, working consensus of what speculative poetry is, what’s the fucking point?

…And yet.  As an officer of the SFPA, it is my responsibility to help recruit, vet, and assist those people we appoint as Editors and Chairs of our organization’s endeavors.  This year’s Rhysling Chair, David Kopaska-Merkel, is a notable member of the SFPA and the wider speculative poetry community – a person with a breadth of experience and demonstrated ability.  We were thrilled to have him take the helm for this project, and to vest him with the responsibilities as well as the discretion required for the role.

I am deeply troubled by the accusations on social media that David acted irresponsibly in deeming certain poems ineligible, or that his actions were done with malice, with the intent of purposely excluding some voices.  As Rhysling Chair, it is David’s job to ensure that all nominated poems meet the criteria for eligibility, which by extension includes determining whether the poems count as speculative, even though there is not – as yet – any clear policy to guide him in this.  David’s solution was to bring each poem that he found questionable to the attention of the executive committee, seeking our input, before making his final determination.  His was a measured, conscientious approach.  And while I did not personally agree with each decision that he made, I was willing to support them.

Members of the SFPA and in the greater community have questioned the right of one person to decide what counts as speculative – and given that as a community we’ve yet to land on a universal definition, it’s a valid question.  It has been argued that the fact the nominated poem first appeared in one of the most celebrated speculative markets in the field should automatically qualify the poem as speculative, which is also an excellent point—I even suggested as much myself at one point during one of the many discussions in our list-serv, saying that any poem published in a speculative journal had already been vetted by an editor and should get an automatic pass.

But on the other hand, a point that I haven’t seen vocalized is the fact that magazine editors, too, exercise personal discretion.  They make decisions based on the same personally or culturally defined and often arbitrary standards and preferences and biases that we, as readers, exercise—and they have the right to do so, because of the task that has been entrusted to them.  Similarly, the Rhysling Chair is tasked with interpreting the organization’s guidelines to the best of his or her ability, which also implies a degree of individual, even arbitrary discretion—and that is what happened.  Without any clear guidance in the form of official policy, and with only the less-than-unanimous opinions of the executive committee (a microcosm of the larger spec community), he made a judgment call.

Personally, I am glad that “I Will Be Your Grave” was reinstated.  I believe that surrealism has a place in the speculative genre, and that poems like this are doing interesting things with language and imagery and genre tropes that should be recognized.  But as an officer, I believe the takeaway from this issue has less to do with righting a perceived injustice, and more to do with improving the Rhysling process.

I think, as a community, we need to look at the central issue –how do we define speculative, and, more importantly, who/how do we empower to apply that definition when it comes to featuring poems in our annual award programs—including our anthologies, which we hold up to the world as the best representatives of what speculative poetry is?

To accomplish this, we need to move away from the merry-go-round of debate (and name-calling) that is endemic in our social media and forums.  We need to work together to define clear and equitable guidelines for both the nomination process and the vetting system—assuming a vetting system for “speculative” should even exist….

It so happened that Winward had already opened a poll on her website asking people what is and isn’t “speculative.” Now the results are in — establishing that, much like the definition of “science fiction,” few can agree on what it is.

[Thanks to Robin A. Reid for the story.]