Pixel Scroll 7/26/16 I Am The Very Pixel Of A Modern Scrolling General

(1) WONDER WOMAN FOREVER. At the San Diego Comic-Con the Postal Service announced “Wonder Woman’s 75th Anniversary to be Celebrated on Forever Stamps”. The first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony will take place October 7 at New York Comic-Con.

wonder woman stamps

This new issuance showcases four different stamp designs on a sheet of 20 stamps depicting Wonder Woman during four eras of comic book history:  Golden Age (1941–55), Silver Age (1956–72), Bronze Age (1973–86) and Modern Age (1987–present).

On the first row of stamps Wonder Woman of the Modern Age wields a hammer with a power and determination befitting her roots in the heroic world of Greek mythology.

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The Bronze Age Wonder Woman’s bold stance empowers the second row of stamps. With her fist held high and bulletproof bracelets gleaming, the Amazon princess leads the charge against injustice.

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The third row of stamps depicts Wonder Woman during the Silver Age. Although she possesses great strength and speed, the world’s favorite superheroine prefers compassion to the use of brute force. With her golden lasso of truth close at hand, she compels honesty from her foes.

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In the last row of stamps, Wonder Woman from the Golden Age bursts onto the scene as originally envisioned by creator William Moulton Marston.

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Art director Greg Breeding of Charlottesville, VA, designed the stamp pane.

(2) SIGNATURE TRAITS. Max Florschutz continues his “Being A Better Writer” series of posts with “Giving Characters a Leitmotif”.

….Now, to some of you long-time readers, this may sound somewhat familiar. After all, we’ve spoken before of ways to show a reader character through dialogue choice or body language. Here and now, however, I’m sort of pulling all of this together into a single, overarching idea: What leitmotif have you given your character? What element of their personality, attribute of their view of the world, are you going to weave into their parts (or perhaps point of view) in order to let the reader know exactly who they’re following even before you give them a name?

No joke. With strong enough characterization to a character’s perspective, it’s entirely possible to write a piece that, without ever mentioning a character’s name, is identifiable wholly as that character’s own. Through use of specific dialogue ticks, phrasing, complexity of language, or even things like catch phrases, general attitudes, or body language, you can inform a reader exactly who your character is.

Better yet, such an action will, if varied (we’ll talk about that in a moment) bring the character to life. Because let’s be honest here: We all have a “leitmotif.” Each of us has very recognizable traits that allow others to see who we are quite quickly(an old friend of mine once—no joke—identified me in the dark, only from my silhouette, on the explained logic of “no one else walks with that much casual swagger” … and come to think of it, that’s happened more than once).

Likewise, as you sit down to create—and then write—a character, what “leitmotifs” are you going to give them? What verbal cues, what methods of thought, or what reactions will they have. Will they be fight or flight? Will they be brusque to those they don’t know? Courteous? Do they think of themselves in first or second person when thinking?

Now, I know this all sounds like character design and development stuff—and it is! But what I’m bringing to the front here is not just the act of deciding all this stuff, but of picking the ones that you’ll weave into everything about the character….

(3) BOIL ‘TIL DONE. The New York Times invites you to “Meet Luca, the Ancestor of All Living Things”. At least, that’s the theory.

….Luca, the Last Universal Common Ancestor, and is estimated to have lived some four billion years ago, when Earth was a mere 560 million years old….

….Genes that do the same thing in a human and a mouse are generally related by common descent from an ancestral gene in the first mammal. So by comparing their sequence of DNA letters, genes can be arranged in evolutionary family trees, a property that enabled Dr. Martin and his colleagues to assign the six million genes to a much smaller number of gene families. Of these, only 355 met their criteria for having probably originated in Luca, the joint ancestor of bacteria and archaea.

Genes are adapted to an organism’s environment. So Dr. Martin hoped that by pinpointing the genes likely to have been present in Luca, he would also get a glimpse of where and how Luca lived. “I was flabbergasted at the result, I couldn’t believe it,” he said.

The 355 genes pointed quite precisely to an organism that lived in the conditions found in deep sea vents, the gassy, metal-laden, intensely hot plumes caused by seawater interacting with magma erupting through the ocean floor.

…Dr. Sutherland, working from basic principles of chemistry, has found that ultraviolet light from the sun is an essential energy source to get the right reactions underway, and therefore that land-based pools, not the ocean, are the most likely environment in which life began.

“We didn’t set out with a preferred scenario; we deduced the scenario from the chemistry,” he said, chiding Dr. Martin for not having done any chemical simulations to support the deep sea vent scenario.

Dr. Martin’s portrait of Luca “is all very interesting, but it has nothing to do with the actual origin of life,” Dr. Sutherland said.

(4) PRINCESS CHARMING. Roby and Kreider have turned to Kickstarter to get their next project out of the starting gate – Princess Charming: for a Few Princesses More.

Josh Roby has been writing professionally for more than a decade (and writing unprofessionally for a long time before that), and has worked as an editor for curriculum development and a number of early reader titles. Nowadays, most of Josh’s time is spent as a home maker and raising two darling children.

Anna Kreider is a writer, game designer, and illustrator who spends a lot of time blogging about depictions of women in pop culture. She is also attempting to raise a toddler, despite the toddler’s best efforts to the contrary.

Here’s what they’re doing —

Princess Charming

We started the Princess Charming book series to make children’s books that feature active, competent princess characters who do more than wait around to get rescued. We’ve already published six books across three different reading levels, but we’re far from done.

Publishing the first six books was a great experience, and we’re ready to bring out the second batch, starting with Princess Rowan Charming.

Only one thing slows down our Rowan — her friend, Prince Sundara, who insists on coming along. Something about Rowan having only one hand and that he has to protect her. But he only gets in the way! Somehow Rowan has to make the boy understand that he’s not cut out for adventuring… before he gets hurt.

And In the Wings…

If we fund all of Princess Rowan’s titles, we’ve got two more princesses lined up and ready to go: Princess Chandra and Princess Nayeli are both penciled in for three books, which we will unlock as stretch goals.

With a week to go, the appeal has raised $1,875 of its $3,000 goal.

(5) SEVEN DEAD GODS. Westercon 67 alumnus Valynne Maetani has hit it big. Publishers Weekly has the story – “Two YA Authors Tweet Mutual Interests into Six-Figure Deal”.

What began as a casual Twitter conversation between two long-time friends who for years talked about writing a book together – Valynne Maetani and Courtney Alameda – has become a hot property that recently was sold to HarperCollins in a two-book, six-figure deal after an auction earlier this year in which four major publishers participated. The final contract was signed in June.

Seven Dead Gods, the YA novel co-written by Maetani and Alameda, who have both been represented by John Cusick (now with Folio Literary Management/Folio Jr.) since 2012, is scheduled to publish in winter 2018. While Cusick described Seven Dead Gods as a combination of “An Ember in the Ashes and Daughter of Smoke and Bone meets Akira Kurosawa,” Alexandra Cooper, the HarperCollins editor who acquired it, used more cinematic terms: “Mean Girls meets Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.”

According to the two co-authors, it’s simply the inevitable culmination of their mutual passion for horror, anime, comic book culture, and Kurosawa’s classic Japanese epic movies. In Seven Dead Gods, which is set in modern-day Japan, 17-year-old Kira, who is the victim of bullying at her school, finds solace working in her grandfather’s Shinto shrine. After realizing that she can see and commune with demons, Kira – with her younger sister in tow – partners with seven “death gods,” or “Shinigami” in Japanese, to save Kyoto from destruction.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 26, 1969 — First Moon rock samples analyzed.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born July 26, 1894 –Aldous Huxley
  • Born July 26, 1928 — Stanley Kubrick

(8) MONUMENT TO A HUGO BALLOT. Lurkertype finished voting for the Hugos and Retro-Hugos and celebrated by using the Pulp-O-Mizer mentioned in yesterday’s Scroll to make this faux pulp cover.

(9) WILL JRRT FOLLOW GRRM ON HBO? That’s what iDigital Times would like to see: “’The Silmarillion’ TV Series: HBO Should Adapt ‘The Silmarillion’ After ‘Game of Thrones’”.

The Silmarillion would be an incredible successor to Game of Thrones on HBO, not least because the two would be so different. The Silmarillion is firmly set in the epic vein, in the realm of the mythic; Game of Thrones is a story of kings and princes, but has always been down to earth, even in its new epic fantasy phase. The battles in The Silmarillion are more elemental; these are wars between Elves and dragons, Balrogs, giant spiders and endless hordes of orcs, and sometimes the gods themselves intervene. But the story itself is incredibly interesting—it has the depth and complexity to carry a series, even one that’s more directly fantastical than Game of Thrones.

Could it happen? It’s not impossible. The Tolkien family still holds the film rights to The Silmarillion, and Christopher Tolkien has made it very clear that Peter Jackson isn’t getting those rights, not after the debacle of The Hobbit movies. But that doesn’t mean no one is getting them. HBO has shown itself a relatively careful steward of such properties, and it’s willing to invest in the money and talent to do such shows right.

(10) WHAT WILL DARTH SAY? After Tor Books announced its latest round of promotions, Elizabeth Bear voiced the joke that immediately came to some people’s minds —

(11) NEEDS A CLUE. Spacefaring Kitten is “No-Awarding Editors and Avengers”.

I don’t think that any of the novel editors does a bad job (ok, maybe one of them). This is strictly a protest vote against the insane category. How can anybody who is not an industry insider come to any conclusion about who is better than someone else in turning mediocre books into great ones? I have no clue.

So when you have no clue, why cast a vote that in principal can obstruct others who don’t feel that way from giving an award?

(12) ONE TRICK. Was there any question about this being the end times?

“Zombie Dog – The Barking Dead Messenger Pet”

zombie dog

(13) MASHUP. Brian Kesinger came up with a good one —

(14) PIONEER OF UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE. Sir Julius Vogel, for whom New Zealand’s national sf award is named, was remembered at a special memorial service in London at the beginning of the month, though not for reasons to do with his fantasy writing, which was never mentioned.

Vogel had a visionary imagination. He wrote about air cruisers, driven by engines much like jet engines, the inventor of which was a young Jewish woman, niece of the spymaster. He envisages large irrigation schemes in the South Island, electricity as the prime source of domestic light and heat, hydro-electricity as a major source of power.

In political developments, he foresaw a global federation of financial interests that maintained world peace, taxation as the great divisive issue threatening to break up the empire, and the resolution of the issue of Irish Home Rule.

There is no limit to Vogel’s seemingly far-fetched ideas.

The Southland Times, reviewing Vogel’s book, said: “In Anno Domini 2000, it is easy to detect the hand of a beginner. The plot, if plot it can be called, is not very ingenious, the dialogue is not very brilliant and the characterisation is decidedly poor. The whole story is moreover ridiculously improbable.”

What is interesting is that Vogel, who was reminded of his Jewish identity throughout his life, whom his political opponents described as the “wandering Jew”, whose newspaper, the Otago Daily Times, was referred to as “that despicable literary dish clout”, “the Jew’s Harp”, created a positive image of Jewishness in one of the leading characters of his work of fantasy.

(15) A HUMMER. I must have missed this one the first time it came around in 2006.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Dave Doering, JJ, and James Davis Nicoll for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Pixel Scroll 7/24/16 The Pixel Who Walks Through Walls

(1) CLOTHING SHRINKS. NPR takes a psychological look at cosplay in “Cosplayers Use Costume To Unleash Their Superpowers”.

These cosplayers are invoking clothing’s subtle sway over us. People have used clothing to subdue, seduce and entertain for millennia. In some outfits, people not only look different, but they feel different. Psychologists are trying to figure out how clothes can change our cognition and by how much. Adam Galinsky, a psychologist at Columbia Business School, spoke with NPR’s Hanna Rosin for the podcast and show Invisibilia. Galinksy did a study where he asked participants to put on a white coat. He told some of the participants they were wearing a painter’s smock, and others that they were in a doctor’s coat.

Then he tested their attention and focus. The people who thought they were in the doctor’s coat were much more attentive and focused than the ones wearing the painter’s smock. On a detail-oriented test, the doctor’s coat-wearing participants made 50 percent fewer errors. Galinksy thinks this is happening because when people put on the doctor’s coat, they begin feeling more doctor-like. “They see doctors as being very careful, very detailed,” Galinksy says. “The mechanism is about symbolic association. By putting on the clothing, it becomes who you are.”

Almost any attire carrying some kind of significance seems to have this effect, tailored to the article as a symbol. In one study, people wearing counterfeit sunglasses were more likely lie and cheat than those wearing authentic brands, as if the fakes gave the wearers a plus to cunning. “If the object has been imbued with some meaning, we pick it up, we activate it. We wear it, and we get it on us,” says Abraham Rutchick, a psychologist at California State University Northridge.

(2) WOMAN OF MYSTERY. The LA Weekly claims to know “Why This Might be Elvira’s Last Comic-Con (as Elvira)”.

Cassandra Peterson has been playing Elvira, the self-proclaimed Mistress of the Dark and horror movie hostess, for 35 years, and she’s been attending Comic-Con as the character for longer than she can remember.

“I was going through my records trying to find the first Comic-Con I came to, and it was in the basement of some motel or hotel or something,” she says. She used to come almost every year, but this year will likely be her last, at least as Elvira. She’s here now to promote her upcoming coffee table book, which features commentary and photos spanning Elvira’s 35-year history (including a few behind-the-scenes shots, like one of her in full costume, seven months pregnant).

Reflecting on her years at the convention, she’s enjoyed meeting her idols, like Forrest Ackerman, a prominent figure in the sci-fi and fantasy scene, and running into colleagues. “I saw Gene Simmons last time I was here, a couple years ago, and that was awesome, because I don’t often run into him, and he was in his KISS drag, I was in my Elvira drag, kind of scary. We were both going, ‘How long are we going to be doing this?’”

But what sticks out the most is a memory of her first Comic-Con, where she was one of the only women in attendance. “When I was there, I was really the ‘odd man out,’ being a woman,” she says. “And now, I am positive that it’s at least 50 percent women [here] that are interested in the whole genre, whether it’s horror, fantasy, sci fi. And I’ve seen that, in my 35 years, just completely change.” She adds, “I was one of those geek girls who was into that stuff when I was a kid, so to see it catch on, for me, is pretty thrilling.”

(3) ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE. Trek Core relays word from SDCC: “The Roddenberry Vault Reveals Lost Star Trek Clips, New Blu-Ray Release Arriving in Late 2016”.

In a surprise reveal today at its own San Diego Comic Con panel, STAR TREK: THE RODDENBERRY VAULT, a years-long endeavor to recover lost and cut footage from the making of the original Star Trek series, debuted with never-before-seen clips from production of the series.

The source of the recovered material (to be released as part of an extended documentary) comes from hundreds of film reels of archived, unused Original Series footage – called the “Holy Grail” by Denise Okuda – which remained in Gene Roddenberry’s possession after the conclusion of filming on the classic series.

Mike and Denise Okuda spoke to the motivations behind the nine-year (!) project, starting from hints of cut scenes in the James Blish novelizations of the classic Trek episodes to occasional publicity photos that the pair had never seen before.

Producer Roger Lay, Jr., who worked on the Next Generation and Enterprise Blu-ray releases, also confirmed that a Blu-ray release of this recovered footage will be arriving before the end of 2016 – but the team has not yet finalized the documentary, and could not specify how many minutes of recovered footage will be included.

…We have no information yet on the timetable for release of this fantastic-sounding new Blu-ray, but as Lay reiterates at the end of the panel, this is a Fiftieth Anniversary production that WILL be out before the end of 2016.

 

Roger Lay Jr. and Ray Bradbury back in the day.

Roger Lay Jr. and Ray Bradbury back in the day.

(4) YOU’RE THE CADET. Guelda Voien was at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum to see an exhibit celebrating 50 years of Star Trek, and pronounced it “Every Dork’s Wet Dream”.

…It is Career Day at the Academy, and you’re given a chance to try out all the different stations—tactical, medical, navigation, command and communications. You perform tasks, like a phaser exercise or choosing which planet to evacuate your crew to, and take a sort of quiz at the end. Your RFID bracelet tracks your progress. It’s like the part of the Museum of Tolerance where you track a Jewish child through the Holocaust, but less horrible.

I did all of them except for communications. No offense, Uhura, but I did not go to Starfleet Academy to talk (though your role got way better in the reboots, thanks, J.J.). No, I went to shoot stuff, try to heal a Klingon and try the fucking Kobayashi Maru.

And I got to do all that stuff. The assessments straddled the obvious and full-on dorkbait in a way that kept me pretty much giddily entertained for an hour (the ticketed show is intended to take about that long and costs $25 for an adult nonmember). At some point, I turned to Danny and asked, “Is Kronos in the Alpha Quadrant?” He thought about it for a second. “I don’t think it is.” I thought about it. “Well, Bajor, Earth and Cardassia definitely are, so it must be Kronos that isn’t.” But I was also thinking, “Hmm, wasn’t Kronos destroyed by the time TNG began?” And that’s why they just call the Klingon homeworld “the Klingon homeworld” later in the timeline, right? And I was happy. This is why I came.

(5) MARVEL AT DISNEY CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE. The Los Angeles Times says Marvel Studios has made official what fans have been speculating about for awhile — “Tower of Terror to get superhero makeover at Disney California Adventure Park”.

….Walt Disney Co. bought Marvel Entertainment Inc. in 2009 for $4 billion but had yet to inject many of the Marvel characters into the Anaheim theme parks. The ride will reopen next summer.

The move to re-create the Tower of Terror into a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction has been rumored on Disney fan blog sites for months but the Burbank-based entertainment giant has refused to comment on the speculation.

The announcement was made by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige at San Diego Comic-Con, the annual celebration of comics and pop culture.

“We are eager to present the attraction to the millions who visit Disney California Adventure and place them in the center of the action as they join in a mission alongside our audacious Guardians of the Galaxy team,” he said in a statement.

In the past, Disney has added new features to existing rides to renew interest among park visitors. Space Mountain, for example, became Hyperspace Mountain when the park added elements borrowed from the popular Star Wars franchise, now owned by Disney.

But Disney representatives say that the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride will keep the fast-dropping elevator from the Tower of Terror, but the rest of the attraction will be completely overhauled.

They declined to say how much Disney will spend on the project.

Disney fans have speculated that the overhauled attraction will stand at the entrance to a new Marvel land at the park.

 

(6) GONE. Variety reports “Popular Movie, TV Set Location Sable Ranch Destroyed in California Wildfire”. IMDB shows a number of sf TV episodes were shot there.

Sable Ranch, a location boasting Old West-style buildings that have been used for countless movies and TV shows, is one of the latest casualties of a Southern California wildfire that has nearly blocked out the sun in Los Angeles all weekend.

The ranch in Santa Clarita, Calif., was destroyed by the fire on Saturday despite the efforts of dozens of firefighters, according to the Los Angeles Times. Some offices were reportedly able to be salvaged, but the set is gone.

Sable Ranch served as host to such movies as horror film “Motel Hell” and Chevy Chase’s “The Invisible Man,” as well as classic Westerns like “The Bells of Coronado.” Television shows including “The A-Team,” “Maverick” and “24” also shot at the location.

(7) HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU’RE FINISHED? Caroline Yoachim says this was her way —

(8) SDCC AS SEEN FROM WILLIAM WU BOOKS. Sundays are less crowded than Saturdays in front of William Wu Books.

wu books at sdcc

(9) I THINK HE LIKED IT. Ian Sales was surprised to be pleased by Station Eleven. By the end of his review I was convinced to add the book to my TBR list – something the thoroughly favorable reviews I read had never accomplished.

Station Eleven, Emily St John Mandel (2014). This won the Clarke Award last year, and while I’d heard many good things about it, it’s a lit-fic post-apocalypse novel and I find post-apocalypse fiction banal at the best of times, and lit fic attempts at the genre all too often seem to think they’re doing something brand new and innovative, that no one has ever thought of before, and so the prose tends to reek of smugness. So my expectations were not especially high. Happily, Mandel proved a better writer than I’d expected, and I found myself enjoying reading Station Eleven. It’s still banal, of course; more so, in fact, because it trots out the Backwoods Messiah With The Persecution Complex plot, which should have been retired sometime around 37 CE. Anyway, a global flu epidemic wipes out most of humanity. Station Eleven opens in Toronto, when a famous actor has a heart attack on stage and dies. Then everyone else starts to die from the flu. The book jumps ahead twenty years to a post-apocalypse US, and a travelling orchestra/acting troupe, who travel the southern shores of the Great Lakes. And then there is a half-hearted attempt at a plot, which ties in with some of the flashback sections, which are about either the actor or the main character of the post-apocalypse story, a young actress in the travelling troupe. The writing was a great deal better than I’d expected, and so despite being post-apocalypse I came away from Station Eleven a little impressed. A worthy winner of the Clarke Award.

(10) AUTHOR EARNINGS. At Mad Genius Club, Fynbospress pointed out a new round of statistics has been posted:

Author Earnings just did an in-depth analysis of the romance genre, and presented it at the RWA (Romance Writers of America). …

2.) Down in the comments at the bottom, both of the report itself and in the comments at Passive Voice, Data Guy provides breakouts for SF&F, and for Mystery/Thriller/Suspense, too!

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 24, 1948 – Marvin the Martian (not yet given that name) appeared onscreen for the first time in the Bugs Bunny cartoon “Haredevil Hare”.

275px-Looney_Tunes_'Haredevil_Hare'_-_screenshot

  • July 24, 1969 — Apollo 11 returned to Earth, ending its historic moon-landing mission. After the spacecraft’s splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were flown by helicopter to the recovery ship USS Hornet.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRLS

  • Born July 24, 1951 – Lynda Carter, called by some the Only and True Wonder Woman.
  • Born July 24, 1982 — Anna Paquin

(13) THOUGHT FOR THE DAY. Neil Armstrong said the Apollo missions demonstrated that “humanity is not forever chained to this planet, and our visions go rather further than that, and our opportunities are unlimited.”

(14) SELDEN’S XANATOS PLAN. Vox Day teases “No one foresaw it” at Vox Popoli.

It’s no wonder the SF-SJWs are always a few steps behind.

It had been believed that the slaters would lose interest if they couldn’t sweep entire categories, since it that would mean that they could neither get awards for their own favorites (since fans would No Award them) nor “burn down” the awards, since fans would have at least a couple of organic works to give awards to. No one foresaw the “griefing” strategy of nominating works whose mere presence on the finalist list would cast the awards into disrepute. – Greg Hullender at File 770

They still don’t quite get it, do they? Rabid Puppies didn’t nominate “If You Were a Dinosaur My Love” or “Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue” for the Hugo Award. We didn’t give a Best Novel Nebula to The Quantum Rose (Book 6 in the Saga of the Skolian Empire) or a Best Novel Hugo to Redshirts. We’re not casting the awards into disrepute, we are highlighting the fact that the SJWs in science fiction have already made them disreputable. I wonder what they will fail to foresee next? That’s a rhetorical question, of course. I already know….

(15) A VOX ON BOTH THEIR HOUSES. RameyLady doesn’t understand the impact of the Rabid Puppies slate on the finalists –

The nominees continue to suffer, in these shorter works, from poor selection but perhaps that’s as much a result of fan voting as it is the Puppies’ attempt at chaos and domination.

— but still writes a good overview of the Hugo-nominated novelettes.

In order of my appraisal:

  1. “Obits” by Stephen King is going to be my top pick in Novelette, though my #2 selection is within a hair’s breadth of taking my top vote.  But it’s hard to deny the feel of sentences coming off the pen of a man as experienced and talented as King.

(16) BALLOT SNAPSHOT. Mark Ciocco says Lois McMaster Bujold gets his vote for Best Novella in his survey of all five nominees.

After last year’s train wreck of a Novella ballot, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to this year’s finalists. But it seems my fears were misplaced, as this might be the most solid fiction category of the year. Novellas can be awkward and to be sure, a couple of these don’t entirely pull it off, but even those manage better than the other categories.

  1. Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold – No surprise here, as I was one of the many who nominated this in the first place. I’m a huge fan of Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga and it’s very much to her credit that I’ve followed her from my preferred SF genre to her fantasy worlds. This story takes place in her Chalion universe and tells the story of a young man who accidentally contracts a demon. This is both better and worse than you’d expect. Better, because in Chalion, demon possession can grant great powers. Worse, because with great power comes intrigue and scheming by those interested in your new powers. That’s all background though, and the story itself is well plotted and the character relationships, particularly between Penric and his demon, and extremely well done. Easily and clearly tops this list. (Also of note: the sequel to this story is out!)

(17) RESPIRE OR EXPIRE. Spacefaring Kitten tackles The Martian in “Aspiration Porn — Campbell Nominee Andy Weir”.

While watching The Martian, I remember enjoying the cosmic visuals, but the reader of the book doesn’t have that and she has to be kept in awe of the science. It was quite impressive, considering that the natural sciences interest me very little. Still, Weir was able to force me into the aspiration porn mindset — ISN’T IT GREAT THAT THE HUMAN RACE HAS DONE SUCH A WONDERFUL THING AS GOING TO SPACE (AND MOSTLY ALSO MAKING IT BACK ALIVE??!!). Yeah, it is. Little less bable about making water and oxygen wouldn’t have hurt, but I guess that really paying attention to these technical details was what Weir’s project was about.

(18) IT’S ALIVE! Bradley W. Schenck tells how he achieved “My successful human hybrid experiment” – which is a piece of digital artwork.

It’s with no small amount of pride that I can now reveal my second, and most successful, human hybrid experiment. I wish I knew exactly what it was; but, as you can see, it’s keeping an eye on us until I figure that out.

Over the past year or so I’ve learned some new tricks with my morph-targeted character heads, and the most interesting tricks are the ones I can play on characters that are already done. Some of this is due to Collapse to Morpher, a very useful 3DS Max script.

Morphs are terrific, but they rely on the source object and its morph targets sharing the exact same topology. That means they need to have the same number of vertices, and (importantly!) those vertices have to be numbered in the same order. If you’re not careful you can end up with two objects that used to share those properties but which now are subtly and fatally different. You just can’t morph them any more.

(19) ANOTHER MARVEL SUPERHERO HEARD FROM. Doctor Strange movie trailer #2 dropped at Comic-Con.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day John King Tarpinian.]

Pixel Scroll 5/29/16 Hell Is Other Pixels

(1) HE SIGNS AND WONDERS. From the Baltimore Sun: “’Game of Thrones’ author draws faithful crowd at Balticon 50”

The wildly popular HBO series has gone beyond the plot lines of Martin’s books, though more are in the works. In an afternoon interview with Mark Van Name, Martin said he never anticipated that the unfinished book series would end up as enormous as it has become. When he sold it in 1994 with 100 pages written, he pitched it as a trilogy. That quickly became a “four-book trilogy,” he said, then a five-, six- and seven-book series. The sixth and seventh books have not yet been published.

“It hit 800 pages and I wasn’t close to the end,” he said of writing the first book, “Game of Thrones,” the show’s namesake, which was part of a larger series, “A Song of Ice and Fire.” Then “Thrones” became “1,400 pages and there was no end in sight. At that point I kind of stopped and said, ‘This isn’t going to work.'”

Though Martin didn’t speak in detail about the books, he said the Vietnam War was part of what shaped his writing and the complexity of his characters.

“We have the capacity for great heroism. We have the capacity for great selfishness and cowardice, many horrible acts. And sometimes at the same time. The same people can do something heroic on Tuesday and something horrible on Wednesday,” he said. “Heroes commit atrocities. People who commit atrocities can be capable later of heroism. It’s the human condition, and I wanted to reflect all that in my work.”

Martin Morse Wooster emailed the story along with his own observations:

…Nearly all of the piece is about listening to George R.R. Martin or standing in line to get your Martin books and other stuff signed.  This morning I was standing in line for the elevator and heard that they were admitting the 1,070th person to the autograph line.

(2) TIPTREE AUCTION AT WISCON. I’d like to hear the rest of this story…

And I’d like to hear this, too.

(3) CAPTAIN AMERICA SPOILER WARNING. (In case there’s anybody who doesn’t already know it…)

Ed Green snarked in a Facebook comment:

I rather like the bonus factoid that they released this in time to help celebrate Memorial Day. Because nothing says ‘Thank you for your sacrifice!” like turning a WWII legend into a Nazi.

You rotten bastards.

Jessica Pluumer also criticized the choice in her post “On Steve Rogers #1, Antisemitism, and Publicity Stunts” at Panels.

You probably already knew that, but I’d invite you to think about it for a minute. In early 1941, a significant percentage of the American population was still staunchly isolationist. Yet more Americans were pro-Axis. The Nazi Party was not the unquestionably evil cartoon villains we’re familiar with today; coming out in strong opposition to them was not a given. It was a risky choice.

And Simon and Kirby—born Hymie Simon and Jacob Kurtzberg—were not making it lightly. Like most of the biggest names in the Golden Age of comics, they were Jewish. They had family and friends back in Europe who were losing their homes, their freedom, and eventually their lives to the Holocaust. The creation of Captain America was deeply personal and deeply political.

Ever since, Steve Rogers has stood in opposition to tyranny, prejudice, and genocide. While other characters have their backstories rolled up behind them as the decades march on to keep them young and relevant, Cap is never removed from his original context. He can’t be. To do so would empty the character of all meaning.

But yesterday, that’s what Marvel did.

Look, this isn’t my first rodeo. I know how comics work. He’s a Skrull, or a triple agent, or these are implanted memories, or it’s a time travel switcheroo, or, or, or. There’s a thousand ways Marvel can undo this reveal—and they will, of course, because they’re not about to just throw away a multi-billion dollar piece of IP. Steve Rogers is not going to stay Hydra any more than Superman stayed dead.

But Nazis (yes, yes, I know 616 Hydra doesn’t have the same 1:1 relationship with Nazism that MCU Hydra does) are not a wacky pretend bad guy, something I think geek media and pop culture too often forgets.

(4) BOUND FOR BLETCHLEY. The Guardian reports a discovery made by museum workers — “Device used in Nazi code machine found for sale on eBay”.

It was just such a coincidence that led to the museum getting its hands on their Lorenz teleprinter, after they spotted it for sale. “I think it was described as a telegram machine, but we recognised it as a Lorenz teleprinter,” Whetter said.

They rang the seller and drove to down to Essex to take a look for themselves. “The person took us down the garden to the shed and in the shed was the Lorenz teleprinter in its original carrying case,” Whetter said. They snapped it up for £9.50.

But the true value of their purchase was yet to become clear. It was only after cleaning the machine at Bletchley Park, where the museum is based, that they found it was a genuine military issue teleprinter, complete with swastika detailing and even a special key for the runic Waffen-SS insignia.

Is it a suspicious coincidence that this story came out the same month as Steve Rogers #1? You decide!

(5) WISCON CON SUITE. Tempting as it is, if I left now I still wouldn’t get there in time.

(6) FAREWELL FROM THE MASSES. The G has something to say “About that Castle finale…” at Nerds of a Feather.

I finally got around to watching the series finale of Castle last night, and feel the need to vent a bit.

First, let me admit that I’ve watched a lot of Castle over the years. But I didn’t watch it out of any conviction that it’s good. It wasn’t. Rather, I watched it because it was simple fun. At its best, the show took a familiar formula (the police procedural), approached it with an appealing balance of drama and comedy and then let its charismatic leads (Nathan Fillion and Stana Kati?) carry the show. All in all, that made for an enjoyable, if somewhat forgettable, hour long diversion.

Sure there was the ongoing story about an increasingly convoluted and opaque conspiracy, as well as the love story between Castle and Beckett, but at its heart Castle was an episodic show. And now that it’s gone, I realize how few watchable episodic dramas are left on TV.

Which brings me to the finale…

As soon as it was over, my wife turned to me and said “Poochie died on the way back to his home planet.”

With a hook like that, how could I not read the rest, which is an explanation of the reference?

(7) DESPITE POPULAR DEMAND. There will be a movie based on the Tetris video game, in which massive blocks descend from the sky. Don’t be underneath when they fly by… oh, wait, that’s a different punchline.

Larry Kasanoff, producer of films based on the Mortal Kombat video games and Bruno Wu, CEO of China’s Sun Seven Stars Media Group announced that their new company Threshold Global Studios is set to produce the film Tetris The Movie.

 

(8) RECOMMENDATION: REREAD THE BOOK. Gary Westfahl’s analysis, “Alice the Great and Powerful: A Review of Alice Through the Looking Glass”, is posted at Locus Online.

The visual effects are regularly creative and engaging, and there are lines here and there that might make you laugh, but overall, anyone looking for 153 minutes of entertainment on this Memorial Day weekend would be best advised to read, or reread, Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871) instead of watching this film, which borrows its title but none of its unique wit and charm. The work that it most recalls, as my title suggests, is the film Oz the Great and Powerful (2013 – review here), another thumb-fisted effort to “improve” upon a classic children’s book by adding new characters, new back stories for old characters, and an action-packed, melodramatic story line….

(9) MEANWHILE, BACK AT WISCON. Yes, indeed.

(10) CARBONARA COPY. Kurt Busiek commented yesterday about cooking a meal for his future wife using a recipe in a comic book. I thought it might be a pleasant surprise if I could find that American Flagg spaghetti fritatta recipe online. It was there, but I found more than I bargained for in Cleo Coyle’s post at Mystery Lovers Kitchen.

When I first met my husband, he whipped up a fantastic spaghetti carbonara that has since become part of our menu. Because he’s part Italian, and because both his mother and father taught him how to cook, I assumed his recipe came from one of them. Not so. Marc informed me that he found the recipe in a 1980’s comic book.

The comic was Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg!, launched in 1983. Fans of this series include Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Chabon, who hailed Flagg as a precursor to the cyberpunk genre of science fiction.

Flagg is not for everyone. It presents a hard-boiled look at life in 2031—after nuclear war and an economic collapse leave things a tad chaotic in the USA. How bad do things get in Chaykin’s 2031? One example: The broken down piano player who inhabits the local lounge is Princess Diana’s oldest son.

As for today’s recipe, spaghetti carbonara happens to be the favorite dish of Rubin Flagg, the comic book’s hero. The recipe was published in the same issue that Rubin cooked it up. (Recipes included in fiction! Is that a good idea or what?)

Coyle says she’s married to somebody named Marc, so presumably this isn’t Kurt’s wife telling her side of the same anecdote. (I’m also sure Kurt knows his fritatta from his carbonara.) Just the same, it’s starting to sound like that American Flagg recipe is quite the love potion!

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born May 29, 1906 T. H. White author of The Once and Future King.

(12) SUITS. Mr. Sci-Fi, Marc Scott Zicree, takes you along —

While in London pitching series, Mr. Sci-Fi got a tour of the Propstore’s exclusive amazing collection of spacesuits from such films as Alien, Armageddon and Star Trek – The Motion Picture — plus he shows rare concept designs of Space Command’s spacesuit by Iain McCaig (designer of Darth Maul, Queen Amidala and The Force Awaken’s Rey). Not to be missed!

 

(13) WOLFE TALK. Spacefaring Kitten interviewed Marc Aramini who wrote Between Light and Shadow: An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe, 1951 to 1986 (Castalia House).

Is there a “right” answer to questions like “what has really happened between the protagonist and Suzanne Delage in ‘Suzanne Delage’” or “which one is the changeling in ‘The Changeling’”?

I’m asking this because I kind of enjoyed the ambiguous atmosphere and the weight of the unexplained in those stories, and while I was reading them I didn’t necessarily feel that there should be one comprehensive solution to be unearthed.

Yes, but you don’t have to get there to enjoy the story. I honestly believe there is a “right” answer from the author’s point of view, but that there are other authors who do not have this kind of rigid, disciplined mindset and write from a place of the subconscious or unconscious. I really do not feel that this is the case with Wolfe, and I have written about 700,000 words so far between the two volumes which argue that his mysteries have universal solutions. I think one of his tasks is using the tool-box of post-modern subjectivity and uncertainty to imply that there is still a universal structure behind the act of creation.

(14) HARDY. David Hardy has created a video tour of his famous astronomical art —

Voyage to the Outer Planets

To follow up my 50s compilation, ‘How Britain Conquered Space in the Fifties’, here is a video made from art of the outer Solar System which I produced 50 years later , for comparison. I like to think I have progressed a little! This is partly a short excerpt from my DVD ‘Space Music’ (available at www.astroart.org), which in turn was edited from German TV’s ‘Space Night’, shown in the early morning from 1994 (google it). They showed two programmes of my art, but for the DVD I added digital images from my 2004 book with Sir Patrick Moore, ‘Futures: 50 Years in Space’.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Spacefaring Kitten, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hal Winslow’s Old Buddy.]

Pixel Scroll 5/3/16 The Seven Pixel Scrollution

(1) JEOPARDY! Funny how fandom has gone from being the contestants to being the answers…. On the May 3 episode of Jeopardy! one of the answers was —

In A Storm of Swords, he acknowledged “Phyllis, who made me put the dragons in it.”

The correct question would be “Who is George R.R. Martin?” But the clue is Phyllis Eisenstein.

Martin discussed this on a panel at Chicon 7 in 2012.

The dragons were one aspect that I did consider not including. Very early in the process, I was debating, should I do this just as like historical fiction about fake history, and have no actually overt magic or magical elements, but — my friend Phyllis Eisenstein, a wonderful fantasy writer who lives here in Chicago, I happened to be talking to her at very early stage in the process. Phyllis has written some great fantasies herself. She said, “Nah, you have to have dragons. It’s a fantasy, you know!” And I dedicated A Storm of Swords to Phyllis, who made me put the dragons in, and I think that was the right thing to do.

(2) TERMS OF UNDEARMENT. Kukuruyo’s image of Ms. Marvel has been pulled from DeviantArt. And on his own site, the Project Wonderful ads have been pulled on the page that displays the image. Did he violate the Terms Of Service?

(3) OFF THE CHARTS. The map found in illustrator Pauline Baynes’ copy of The Lord of the Rings has a new home reports The Guardian — “Tolkien annotated map of Middle-earth acquired by Bodleian library”.

Here be dragons – and wolves, bears, witches, camels, elephants, orcs, elves and hobbits.

A map of Middle-earth, which to generations of fans remains the greatest fantasy world ever created, heavily annotated by JRR Tolkien, has been acquired by the Bodleian library in Oxford to add to the largest collection in the world of material relating to his work, including the manuscripts of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The annotations, in green ink and pencil, demonstrate how real his creation was in Tolkien’s mind: “Hobbiton is assumed to be approx at latitude of Oxford,” he wrote.

(4) CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN. BBC News has a story about a a member of the 501st climbing England’s highest mountain. A Star Wars fan who walked to the tops of Snowdon and Ben Nevis while dressed as a stormtrooper plans to tackle England’s tallest mountain.

Ashley Broomhall hopes to make the trek on Wednesday, the date of which – May the fourth- is often linked to the Star Wars phrase “May the force…”

He will wear his stormtrooper armour for the walk up 3,208ft (978m) Scafell Pike in the Lake District.

(5) AMAZONIAN TOSSER. Heather Rose Jones “tosses a little numbers-geekery” at the question of what it means for a book to have only really really good reviews on Amazon. (Spoiler: She says it means your book isn’t getting out enough.)

You know who has spent a very long time in the top 10 books sold in Historical Fantasy? Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. Do you know how many one-star reviews Outlander has on Amazon? 749. Seven hundred and forty-fucking-nine one-star reviews (4% of the total). No book is universally beloved.

(6) CHINA BOUND. Martin L. Shoemaker posted his good news on Facebook:

Now that the contract has been signed, I am very honored to announce that “Today I Am Paul” will appear in Science Fiction World, the Chinese science fiction magazine, as part of their new series of Hugo/Nebula nominees.

(7) CROWDFUNDING AEROSPACE HISTORIAN. You can support Dr. Jim Busby by helping fund his travel to Spacefest VII.

Help Us Keep Our Aerospace Heritage Alive

From June 9 – 12 2016 Spacefest VII , a reunion of legendary NASA astronauts, engineers, famous space scientists, authors, astronomers, space artists, and fans produced by Novaspace, will be held in Tucson, AZ.

Dr. Jim Busby Aerospace Historian, educator and board member of Aerospace Legacy Foundation (ALF) in Downey, CA has been invited to be a guest lecturer and to do a memorabilia display. Unfortunately, ALF being a small non-profit organization cannot afford to send Dr. Busby, his wife and other members of the organization to Tucson. That is why we are turning to aerospace enthusiasts to help fund this trip. Dr. Jim Busby’s extensive knowledge of aerospace history has educated many over the years. In 1978 he helped create the world’s first Apollo lunar reenactments and worked at the California Science center for 19 years.

“I enjoy educating children and adults in our long fascination with space exploration,” Busby commented. “Inspiring children when I talk about Apollo lunar exploration is an experience beyond words.”

The GoFundMe has raised $645 of its $2,500 goal at this writing.

(7) JURY DUTY. Mary Anne Mohanraj announced on Facebook that jurors are needed to review grant applications for Speculative Literature Foundation.

JURORS NEEDED: The Speculative Literature Foundation is looking for ten volunteer jurors willing to read applications (a few pages each, including a writing sample) over the space of about a month for our Diverse Writers Grant and our Diverse Worlds Grant. The grant deadline is at the end of July, so you would need to have time available in August to read and discuss. In order to be considered, potential jurors should be writers, editors, teachers, or readers with broad knowledge of the genre, who are capable of judging literary quality in a work.

If interested, please send a brief note to our director, Mary Anne Mohanraj, mohanraj@uic.edu, with the subject line: JUROR. Include a few lines on what your qualifying background would be for serving as a juror. Thank you for your interest, and for your support of science fiction and fantasy!

More information about the Diverse Writers and Diverse Workds grants at the link.

(8) SOUND RETREAT. John C. Wright takes “A Polite Retreat from Combat”.

Mr. George R.R. Martin here (http://grrm.livejournal.com/485124.html) has taken the time out of his busy writing schedule to rebut my comment where I rebuked him for characterizing the Sad Puppies reading list of last year as ‘right-wing’ and ‘weak’, a statement published in the Guardian newspaper.

My reply, humbly enough, was that my work was unweak enough to have sold at least one example to him. He responds by chiding me for being insufficiently humble: as if making a sale to George R.R. Martin were not indeed a matter for pride.

He and I (or so I thought) had an agreement to smooth over our puppy-related sadness.

In the spirit of that agreement, I plead nolo contendere to his allegations, in the hope that if I say nothing but this in reply, he will return to his writing, and tell me and his other fans the final fate of Westeros.

The years fly like autumn leaves, and life too short for such fare. Winter is coming.

(9) RITUALLY UNCLEAN. Sami Sundell calls it “Overemphasizing the Taint”.

…I’ve also seen some more dire messages. For example, Steve Davidson listed nominations sans puppy taint. Matthew M. Foster had an even stricter stance and called the awards Vox Awards. And that’s what really hit my nerve….

So who cares if one of the nominees is Ann Leckie‘s Ancillary Mercy, the final part of the trilogy that started with Hugo winner Ancillary Justice – a book that has been much reviled by the Puppies. Mercy was on Sad Puppies recommendation lists so it’s tainted. Same apparently goes for Uprooted by Naomi Novik.

And Vox Day, apparently all by himself, decided Seveneves by Neal Stephenson is worthy of a Hugo nomination. You know, the multiple award winner Neal Stephenson? And a book that was pre-emptively put into mind blowing science fiction list of io9 in January 2015? Expectations were high, and I’ve seen plenty of reviews saying those expectations were met, and then some.

Same goes for Alastair Reynolds’ Slow Bullets and Lois McMaster Bujold‘s Penric’s Demon. McMaster Bujold has won or been nominated for Hugos more times than I have fingers. Is it really so hard to believe she would write yet another masterpiece?

…No. Saying Day made some OK choices is not surrender. That blog entry is surrender. It gives all the power to Vox Day, it ignores the quality of works, and it claims fans had no say in the nominations. That sounds awfully lot like the arguments we’ve heard from Puppies for several years….

(10) TROLLFIGHTING SPACE KITTEN. Spacefaring Kitten would deal with the ballot this way — “On Fighting Trolls and Going to Have to Ask Kevin Standlee”.

Rule changes are slow, however, so they don’t help in the current situation — where we indeed have a hostile takeover by trolls who have stated explicitly that their intention is to destroy the award. Among the Hugo finalists, there are works that include blatant hate-speech, fat-shaming, misogyny et cetera. Overall, it’s more horrible than last year, when the voters had to mostly just stomach bad writing (this year, the level of writing is probably much higher).

The works I’m referring to here are of course the short story “If You Were an Award, My Love” and the related works SJWs Always Lie, “The Story of Moira Greyland” and “Safe Space as Rape Room” (and maybe the work of the fan artist “Kukuruyo”). These are ugly works manufactured to harass individual members of the SFF community or groups of people that the Rabid Puppies contingency happens to love harassing (women, LGBTI community and so on).

So, what could be done about them? Unfortunately, not much.

After reading the WSFS constitution, I came up with only two things. If I was running the Worldcon (which I’m not, of course), I would:

  1. Not include them in the Hugo voter packet. (There are zero rules about the voter packet, so it would be completely possible for the Worldcon to exclude the works mentioned above.)
  2. Insert onto the online voting form a statement that says “Midamericon II condemns the hate-speech/whatever featured in Finalist X”.

(11) SUTHERLAND CONTINUES. Meanwhile, Doris V. Sutherland is still working on her category-by-category discussion of last year’s results in “2014 Hugos Versus 2015 Sad Puppies: What Could Have Been, Part 1” at Women Write About Comics.

So, let me restate that the works on these longlists are the works that received the highest number of votes during the Hugo nomination process without being on either the Sad Puppies or Rabid Puppies slates. I have seen no evidence to justify suspicion of any conspiracy or wrongdoing on the part of George R. R. Martin or anyone else involved.

That said, I also have to question the claim made by certain Sad Puppies opponents that these longlists show us exactly what the Hugo ballot would been had the Sad Puppies campaign never existed. This interpretation ignores the fact that some of the Puppy picks could quite conceivably have made the final ballot even without the aid of the campaign. Nevertheless, a look at the longlist will at least give us a good idea of how the ballot would have looked without Puppy slating—and an idea is all we can have.

Best Short Story

“Jackalope Wives,” by Ursula Vernon

One of the 2014 nominees in this category was Sofia Samatar’s “Selkie Stories are for Losers,” which riffed on the folkloric motif of the animal bride. Interestingly enough, one of the contenders for the 2015 award plays with the same theme—albeit with very different results.

Ursula Vernon constructs her pseudo-folkloric story from specifically American materials, lending it a folksy tall-tale feel. It takes place in a world where young men periodically go out and hunt for jackalopes—which, in Vernon’s conception, are more than just antlered bunnies. Once they remove their fur, they take on their true forms as beautiful, unearthly women. As per animal bride tradition, any prospective suitor must steal a jackalope’s fur before he can win her as a bride, and burn it to prevent her from changing back and escaping.

So far, so conventional. But while folktales of this type are often told from the point of view of the man, with the bride’s disappearance seen as a sad occurrence, Vernon sheds light on how rotten the scenario must be for the woman. The protagonist of “Jackalope Wives” learns the ugly truth behind the legend when he tries to burn a jackalope’s fur; her resulting screams of pain cause him to have second thoughts, inadvertently leaving the woman trapped halfway between human and animal. The manic pixie dream girl has had her wings cut off.

“Jackalope Wives” is true to its folkloric roots while simultaneously offering a contemporary spin on the age-old material. A deserving contender for Best Short Story.

Sutherland also drew a “salute” to GamerGate Life.

(12) AGAINST HATRED. Jon Tully at GeeksOut tells “How Hatred Is Hurting the Hugos”.

…This year, the Rabid puppies doubled their votes and succeeded in nominating 62 out of 80 stories that they backed. And are these stories that reflect where our culture is headed? Are they stories about inclusivity, empathy, and reflection?

No. They are stories such as “SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police” a story about “social justice warriors” (penned by Beale himself), “If You Were an Award, My Love” by Juan Tabo and S. Harris, (a direct spoof on the gay-affirming “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”),  “Safe Space as Rape Room” by Daniel Eness (published by Castalia House) and, my personal (sarcastic) favorite, Space Raptor Butt Invasion by Chuck Tingle, which has all the literary merit the title suggests.

If the judges were willing to deny awards in five categories last year, what is it going to look like this year? Will any awards be given? Will authors begin to gravitate away from the Hugos towards the Nebula or the Locus Awards?

Will this be the death of an institution I love?

As Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” And while these oft-repeated words can seem passé (and a little too gender-specific), there is, of course, a core of truth. The reason that we’re in this situation is because the various Puppies were able to rally enough hate to their side to be heard.

But the fact that sours my stomach is not that small-minded children were able to throw a tantrum and get their way, it’s that, by doing so, they’re hijacking the narrative of our era. Metaphorically speaking, the Rabid Puppies are wedging their intolerance into a time capsule that future generations will open, and societies not yet born will see and be ashamed of.

(13) WORD BALLOONS. At this link you will find what seems to be popularly regarded as “the best superhero story ever.” And at minimum it’s pretty funny: http://imgur.com/a/czaDD

(14) FLIGHT TO THE FINNISH. Zen Cho can’t resist temptation.

(15) FRED POHL IS HERE. The Traveler from Galactic Journey has the latest ancient prozine news: “[May 3, 1961] Passing the Torch (June 1961, Galaxy, 2nd Half)”.

Fred Pohl came on last year.  He was not officially billed as the editor, but it was common knowledge that he’d taken over the reigns.  Pohl is an agent and author, a fan from the way-back.  I understand his plan has been to raise author rates again and bring back quality.  While he waits for the great stories to come back, he leavens the magazines with old stories from the “slush pile” that happen not to be awful.  In this way, Galaxy showcases promising new authors while keeping the quality of the magazine consistent.

The June 1961 Galaxy is the first success story of this new strategy.

Last issue, I talked about how Galaxy was becoming a milquetoast mag, afraid to take risks or deviate far from mediocrity.  This month’s issue, the first that lists Pohl as the “Managing Editor,” is almost the second coming of old Galaxy — daring, innovative, and with one exception, excellent.

Take Cordwainer Smith’s Mother Hitton’s Littul Kittons, in which an interplanetary ring of thieves tries to steal from the richest, and best defended planet, in the galaxy.  Smith has always been a master, slightly off-center in his style; his rich, literary writing is of the type more usually seen in Fantasy and Science FictionKittons is ultimately a mystery, the nature of the unique (in name and nature) “kittons” remaining unknown until the last.  A brutal, fascinating story, and an unique take on the future.  Five stars.

(16) DABBLING IN THE DEBACLE. Amanda S. Green asks “What do you want?” at Mad Genius Club.

…the Hugo debacle. Yes, debacle. There is no other way to describe it. Whether you support the idea that the Hugos are a fan award (which I do since you buy a membership to WorldCon in order to vote and anyone with the money can do so) or a “literary” award (which, to mean, would require it to be a juried award in some fashion), I think we all can — or at least should — agree that Hugo should not be exclusionary. If you can afford the money for the membership, you should be able to vote and your vote should have the same weight as the next person’s. Until the rules are changed, that is how it should be.

So imagine my surprise yesterday when I was looking through Facebook and came across a post from one of the puppy-kickers — and I am looking straight at you, Mr. Amazing Stories — saying that the committee should go in and look at all the ballots. Any ballot cast by a puppy should be thrown out. (And he even adds to his comment “screw privacy”, which had been one of the concerns last year’s committee had when they were asked to release the voting data.). But that’s not enough for him. He advocates never letting a “puppy” buy a membership to WorldCon again. There’s more but you can go look for yourself — assuming the post is still there. It is dated April 26th and was posted at 7:24 pm.

Needless to say, when I saw this, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Laughter because these sorts of comments show the hypocrisy of those who are “fighting the good fight” against those evil Sad and Rabid Puppies. We are called all sorts of names because, as they claim, we want to exclude message and “marginalized” people from the genre. Yet here one of their most vocal supporters is doing exactly what they claim we are doing. He is saying we should not be allowed into the same room with the Hugos. Note, he is not only saying that we shouldn’t be allowed to vote for their beloved award but tat we should not be allowed to attend WorldCon.

Sounds pretty exclusionary to me. How about you?

(17) HE’S EXCITED. More from Shamus Young about his Hugo nomination in a podcast on his site. The show notes say:

01:08 Shamus is up for a Hugo Award

Here I talk about the fact that I’ve been nominated for a Hugo, and I briefly mention the controversy the Hugos have been having for the past two years. I don’t want to talk about the controversy here. In fact, the no politics post was written specifically in anticipation of this discussion.

If you’re looking for more information: On WIRED there’s this post entitled Sci-Fi’s Hugo Awards and the Battle for Pop Culture’s Soul, which seems to be the one everyone links when trying to bring people up to speed on this. However, like a lot of Wired articles this one feels like the author was paid by the word. It’s long on anecdotes, it takes forever to get to the point, it’s broad and hyperbolic, and for all the words it spends it never feels like it gets down to details.

I found this one much more useful: A Detailed Explanation by Matthew David Surridge, explaining why he declined his Hugo nomination last year. It is also long – I’m afraid you can’t really do the topic justice in a couple of paragraphs – but instead of spending its word count on stories, he just takes up one side and argues for it. In the process he kind of maps out a good deal of both sides[1].

I’m excited to be nominated for a Hugo. I’m excited that videogames are being recognized and encouraged in their pursuit of sci-fi stories. I’m dreading dealing with people who don’t respect my no politics rule and are just looking for an opportunity to unleash the anger they’re hauling around. I think accepting the nomination is the most diplomatic thing to do, and win or lose I’m grateful for everyone who thinks my work has merit.

(18) COUNTING TO ZERO. The Locus Awards navigated around the worst rocks and shoals of the puppy lists only to incur criticism about the composition of the YA Novel finalists.

(19) NEW POPULAR FICTION MFA. Emerson College in Boston is starting a new Masters of Fine Arts in Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing in Fall 2016. It will be a fully online program designed for students who want to pursue a career as a writer of novels in the genres of fantasy, science-fiction, horror, mystery, thriller, or young adult.

The program will enroll a cohort of 12 students in order to provide individual attention and coaching. The two-year accredited MFA program will be housed in Emerson’s nationally known Department of Writing, Literature and Publishing.

The MFA in Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing is one of the first online writing programs to prepare students to write professional-level stories and novels in a variety of fictional genres and provides an opportunity for students to read deeply, think critically, and discuss popular fiction with peers. Students will have the experience of participating in creative workshops and literature courses that focus on the history of various popular genres. Additionally, hands-on publishing courses will teach students how to turn a completed manuscript into a polished, publishable work. Emerson’s publishing faculty will offer insights on the avenues available for students to publish their work, from finding and working with literary agents to self-publishing to reaching a wide readership through trade publishers.

For more information, visit the MFA in Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing web page or contact John Rodzvilla, graduate program director, at john_rodzilla@emerson.edu or 617-824-3717.

(20) PUPPY DISAMBIGUATION. Don’t miss the rollover in Trae’s cartoon “The inevitable outcome”.

(21) UNKNOWN TRAILER. The first trailer for Approaching the Unknown has been released, a movie starring Mark Strong and Luke Wilson.

(22) TOLKIEN TALK. Terri Windling will lecture about Tolkien in Oxford on May 26.

Pembroke Tolkien lecture

(23) PAYING BACKWARD. Rachel Swirsky has a plan for getting through these parlous times which she shares in “Making Lemons into Jokes: ‘If You Were a Butt, My Butt”.

In my family, humor has always been a way of putting crap into perspective. When life hands you lemons, make jokes. And then possibly lemonade, too. It is coming up on summer.

In that spirit, I’m trying a self-publishing experiment. And that experiment’s name is “If You Were a Butt, My Butt.”

If my Patreon reaches $100 by the end of the month, I will write and send “If You Were a Butt, My Butt” to everyone who subscribes. If things go well, I’ve got some stretch goals, too, like an audio version.

I will be donating the first month’s Patreon funds to Lyon-Martin health services. Lyon-Martin is one of the only providers that focuses on caring for the Quiltbag community, especially low-income lesbian, bisexual, and trans people. They provide services regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.

pablo-1

[And that’s the end! Thanks to John King Tarpinian, James David Nicoll, Mark-kitteh, Dawn Sabados, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Rambo, Hampus Eckerman, Mike O’Donnell, Glenn Hauman, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 4/30/16 Pride and Prejudice and Puppies

Here is your Hugo-themed Scroll.

(1) RIGHT IN THE EYE. These are beauties….

(2) STUBBORN. The G at Nerds of a Feather asks “HUGOPOCALYPSE II: Where Do We Go From Here?” (This was posted the day the nominations were announced, April 26 – I lost track of it while trying get File 770 back online.)

So outside the popular categories, it’s pretty much all RP all the time. And this is the big problem for me, because the clear message is “organize or be rendered irrelevant.” Like I said last year, I don’t want the Hugos to be an annual rerun of the US presidential election. That already takes up too much oxygen as it is, and the Hugos are supposed to be about fans celebrating the best stuff they discovered over the previous year–not voting in lockstep to further someone’s agenda. So I won’t back any proposed counter-slates–not even one that reflected my exact political worldview (and it’s very doubtful that any would). I want nothing to do with that–nothing at all.

(3) ASTERISKS DEFENDED. David Gerrold responded on Facebook to Jim C. Hines’ recent post about the Sasquan asterisks.

…But let’s be honest. There were people who arrived at the Hugo reception and the award ceremony with the intention of being offended, no matter what happened. These were the people who decided that the asterisks were intended as an insult.

I suppose I should be sorry about inadvertently hurting people’s feelings — and I would apologize to people like Toni Weisskopf and Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Ken Burnside (and a few others) if they took it the wrong way. I had hoped that everyone would see it as a chance to laugh away some of the tension.

But the real hurt to all the qualified people on the ballot was the damage done by the slate-mongering in the first place and that’s where the real anger should be directed — not at the attempt to leaven the pain. People who should have gone home with trophies came in behind No Award because the great majority of fans voted no to the slates.

And yet, there is this — despite all the Monday-morning complaining by the outrage committee, the sale of those little wooden asterisks raised $2800 for the Orangutan foundation — and that’s $2800 more than all the pissing and moaning and whining and name-calling raised for anything.

(4) GERROLD DEFENDED. Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag backs David Gerrold at Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog.

David Gerrold has a post about Hugo asterisks. I just want to say, the asterisks were there the instant the puppies gamed the Hugos. Putting them into physical form didn’t make it any worse, since the damage was already done. On the contrary, the asterisks let some of us have a physical memento of their first time voting in the Hugos (me!) and raised money for a worthy cause. The people who were hurt by the asterisks deserved to be hurt because they are the ones who put the asterisk there in the first place by gaming the Hugo nominations. The fact that they still don’t get it only proves the point. And it still amazes me that they are stupid enough to think that people gamed the Hugos before they did. The utter willful ignorance of the puppies is astounding.

(5) THE HAMSTER COMMANDS. Ian Mond’s Hysterical Hamster headline may say “Don’t Look Away – it’s the HUGOOOOOS, oh and the Clarke Awards and a truly fantastic book” but he absolutely refuses to explain….

This week saw the announcement of the Hugo Award and Clarke Award nominees – one rinsing the taste of shit left by the other.

As with 2015, Vox Day successfully took a massive crap all over the Hugo Awards, smearing his poo-stained fingers over 64 of the 81 nominees.  If you have no idea who or what a Vox Day is then GIYF because I honestly can’t be bothered explaining it.

(6) HOT LINKS. Spacefaring Kitten has “Rabid Puppy Finalists’ Reactions, Compiled” at Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Kittens. I spotted one I hadn’t seen before –

(7) I’VE BEEN HAD. Depending on what you thought he was talking about, you also may have been had by Chuck Tingle.

(8) IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR. Europa SF takes an in-depth look at a European Retro Hugo nominee in “Karin Boye’s ‘Kallocain’ Nominated As Best Novel for the Retro Hugo Awards”.

In Boye’s novel, the “World State” is locked in a condition of perpetual war with the “Universal State” to the East; both states – each of them claustrophobic warren-like male-dominated repressive societies – are gripped by paranoia and fear, with Thought Police ubiquitous. The protagonist’s fatal invention of the eponymous truth drug only generates further repression in the “World State”, as the involuntary self-betraying inner thoughts of everyone are now punishable. He eventually becomes a prisoner scientist in the “Universal State”, where he continues his work. As in Orwell’s novel, there is no light at the end of the tunnel.” – The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

“Kallocain” by Karin Boye (Bonnier)

Seen through the eyes of idealistic scientist Leo Kall, “Kallocain‘s depiction of a totalitarian world state may draw on what Boye observed or sensed about the bolshevic dictatorship of Soviet Union, which she visited in 1928 and the Nazi Germany. An important aspect of the novel is the relationships and connections between the various characters, such as the marriage of the main character and his wife Linda Kall, and the feelings of jealousy and suspicion that may arise in a society with heavy surveillance and legal uncertainty.

One of its central ideas coincides with contemporary rumors of truth drugs that ensured the subordination of every citizen to the state. Both Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” (1932) and Boye’s “Kallocain” are drug dystopias, or societies in which pharmacology is used to suppress opposition to authority. However, unlike “Brave New World”, where a drug is used to suppress the urge to nonconformity generally, in Kallocain a drug is used to detect individual acts and thoughts of rebellion.

Kallocain has been translated into more than 10 languages and was adapted into a television miniseries in 1981 by Hans Abramson.

(8) CANON PREDICTION. Camestros Felapton asks “Is N.K.Jemisin’s The Fifth Season a Science Fiction Classic?”

There is a rhetorical rule of headlines that if they are phrased as a question then the answer is actually “no”. Strictly, I also have to say “no” but only because we can only declare a novel a ‘classic’ retrospectively, after years in which its influence and critical impact have occurred. However, I’m posing the question because I feel that the answer that will come 10 years, 20 years, 30 years down the line is “yes”. I think this is a book that will shape authors and will be studied and will be cited by many as their favorite SF book. I suspect in 20 years time when people are moaning about the books nominated for the Hugo awards not being as good as the books in the past, people will point at The Fifth Season and say ‘there is nothing this year that is as good as that’.

However, I know that is a hard position to defend. So I’m going to go off on some tangents. Bear with me. Readers should also be aware that the book deals with themes of violence and physical abuse, some of which will be discussed below.

(9) HE READ THE NEWS TODAYS. John C. Wright tells how the mainstream media coverage of the Hugo nominations falls short of his standards in “We Also Call Them Morlocks”.

I used to be a newspaperman and newspaper editor, so I know the business, and I understand the pressure newspapermen are under to lie, and lie, and lie again.

Some, as did I, resist the temptation.

Others, many others, very many others indeed, not only give into the temptation to dwell in falsehoods, but bathe in falsehood, dive into it, drink it, anoint themselves in it, baptize themselves in it, breathe it in, absorb it through every skin pore, mainline it, insert it as a suppository, and perform unnatural sexual acts with it, and in all other ways regard falsehood as a holy calling, and deception a sacrament.

However, even so, the true shocking nature of the falsehood, the insolence of it, the recklessness, the sheer magnitude of it, cannot truly be felt except to one, like me, who has been on the receiving end.

It is astonishing to hear newspapermen who have never made the slightest effort to contact you, who neither interview you nor quote anything you say, nor offer the slightest scintilla of evidence, reporting your innermost thoughts and motivations hidden in the most secret chamber of your heart, and to discover that your motives are the opposite of everything you have said, thought and did your whole life. Astonishing.

Here is a roundup of some links of various media outlets who decided that their honesty, integrity and sacred honor were worth selling in return for the questionable gratification involved in spreading an untruth so unlikely to be believed….

(10) SLATE FATE. “Vote Your Conscience” says Steve Davidson at Amazing Stories.

My argument against slates has always been about the methodology, not the presumed issues that gave rise to them (be it push-back against diversity or the juvenile temper-tantrum that is Beale).  My advancement of the No Award strategy (and I was not the only one to suggest it) was predicated on the idea that a hard and fast line could be established:  either a work had been slated or it had not been.  This directly addressed the methodology of the puppy protest, in effect saying “slates and campaigning are not the way to go about registering your protest”.  It did not address the questions of whether or not their arguments were valid, nor did it shut them out of the process.

This, I believe, is a position that falls in line with the thinking of the vast majority of Hugo Award participants, who welcome anyone who wishes to join – so long as they respect the culture and institutions of the community.  No one is saying to puppies “do not participate”.  All that is being said is “don’t game the system”.

In conjunction with the No Awards voting strategy, I also strongly (and repeatedly) urged everyone who might have something nominated for an award last year or into the far future, to make a public statement that they do not want to be included on a slate and, if they become aware that they have been, they publicly ask to be removed.  Further, I asked that voters respect those public statements and to treat such nominees as if they were not on a slate, should they appear on the ballot.

This strategy does not rely on compliance from puppies.  This year there are several nominees who made such statements, found themselves on a puppy slate, asked to be removed and were ignored.  I have no problem including those authors on my ballot.  I am positive that the vast majority of voters have far less angst over including them in their votes than they do over other works that “would have been on the ballot anyway”, but which are not backed up by slate repudiation.

Absent repudiation, questions remain:  are they happy to be on the ballot regardless of how they got there?  Are they ok with being used as a shield?  How will they feel if it turns out that some other, non-slated work was knocked off the ballot because they said nothing?  (Recognizing that they have no control over placement on a slate is no cover for not having said anything previously.)

(11) THESE THINGS MUST BE DONE VERY CAREFULLY. Mal-3 at Conceptual Neighborhood says “There Is An Art to Trolling….”.

A long time ago at the 2000 World Horror Convention I got to witness Dan Simmons troll the absolute shit out of Harlan Ellison. It was at a panel about getting works adapted in Hollywood, and Ellison has historically had kind of a terrible time getting his stuff through the studios, and he was going on in incredible detail about how the process was horrible and everybody involved was awful and so forth and so on. And then Dan Simmons would break in and just say, with a big kinda dopey smile, “Well, I had a great time!”

Every single time Ellison would start going off on a tear Simmons would come back with that line, and Ellison just kept getting angrier and angrier and it was the funniest goddamned thing.

That’s kind of what I’m seeing here with Chuck Tingle: somebody tried to weaponize him and now it’s not working like it should. Pity, that.

[Thanks to Will R., Gregory N. Hullender, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Pixel Scroll 3/13/16 We’re Off To See The Pixel, The Wonderful Pixel Of Scroll

(1) DAYLIGHT STEALING TIME. Disney’s Alice Through The Looking Glass trailer investigates a time crime.

(2) TAKING INVENTORY. Bill Roper had some insights about being a convention dealer while doing “That Taxes Thing”.

One of the distressing things about doing the taxes for Dodeka is seeing:

– How many different titles we carry.

– And how many of them appear to have sold one or fewer copies in 2015.

Some of these are the result of having bought out Juanita’s inventory when she retired and having acquired various CDs that had been sitting in her inventory for too long. A few of them are the result of my own ordering errors.

The problem is that the boxes are large and heavy and the table is very full. But if you don’t take the CDs out to the cons with you, you can’t sell them…

Filk is an extremely regional business. And given that we’re in the eighth-or-so year of a sucky economy, I certainly understand people’s reluctance to take a flyer on something that they aren’t familiar with.

(3) BATMOBILE REPLICA MAKER LOSES. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a Ninth Circuit decision in favor of DC Comics, which had sued Mark Towle over his unlicensed replicas of the 1966 and 1989 Batmobiles, sold for about $90,000 each. So DC wins.

According to Robot 6:

Towle argued that the U.S. Copyright Act doesn’t protect “useful articles,” defined as objects that have “an intrinsic utilitarian function” (for example, clothing, household appliances or, in this case, automobile functions); in short, that the Batmobile’s design is merely functional.

However, a federal judge didn’t buy that argument… Towle appealed that decision, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals wasn’t any more sympathetic, finding in September that, “the Batmobile is almost always bat-like in appearance, with a bat-themed front end, bat wings extending from the top or back of the car, exaggerated fenders, a curved windshield, and bat emblems on the vehicle. This bat-like appearance has been a consistent theme throughout the comic books, television series, and motion picture, even though the precise nature of the bat-like characteristics have changed from time to time.”

In his petition to the high court, Towle insisted that the U.S. Copyright Office states outright that automobiles aren’t copyrightable, and that the Ninth Circuit simply created an arbitrary exception. He also argued that there have been “dozens” of Batmobiles in DC comic books over the decades that “vary dramatically in appearance and style” — so much so that the vehicle doesn’t have the “consistent, widely-identifiable, physical attributes” required to be considered a “character.”

(4) SFL SURVIVOR. Andrew Liptak retells “The Adventures of the LA Science Fantasy Society” at Kirkus Reviews.

When he [Forry Ackerman] set off on his own, he founded the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society. While every other Science Fiction League chapter closed—as well as many of the other fan groups—the LASFS survives to the present day, the longest running science fiction club in the world.

In the coming decades, the club became an important focal point for the growing science-fiction community. It counted some of the genre’s biggest writers as its members: when Ray Bradbury’s family moved from Arizona to Los Angles, the young storyteller quickly found the group. “A turning point in his life came in early September 1937,” Sam Moskowitz recounted in his early history Seekers of Tomorrow: Masters of Modern Science Fiction, “when poring through the books and magazines in Shep’s Shop, a Los Angeles book store that catered to science-fiction readers, he received an invitation from a member to visit the Los Angeles Chapter of the Science Fiction League.” Through the league, Bradbury quickly got his start as a writer, publishing “Hollerbochen’s Dilemma” in the club’s fanzine, Imagination!

LASFS is not quite the lone survivor of the Science Fiction League – there is also the Philadelphia Science Fiction SocietyFancyclopedia 3 has more SFL history.

(5) ON WINGS OF STONE. You must keep an eye on these winged predators. BBC tells “How to survive a Weeping Angels attack!”

The Weeping Angels are scary. Really scary. They possess a natural and unique defence mechanism: they’re quantum locked. This means that they can only move when no other living creature is looking at them. These lonely assassins also have the ability to send other beings into the past, feeding on the potential time energy of what would have been the rest of their victims’ lives.

But how do you survive a Weeping Angel attack? Well, here’s our guaranteed, foolproof 4-step guide…

(6) TOP DRAWER. Peter Capaldi proves to have a flair for sketching his predecessors as Doctor Who.

(7) COINAGE. A horrible, fannish pun in March 12’s Brevity cartoon.

(8) MARIE WILLIAMS OBIT. New Zealand fan Marie Williams died of cancer February 27. She was a member of the board of Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand (SFFANZ), and their announcement said, “She was a valued member and we will miss her thoughtful insights and interesting comments.”

(9) TOMLINSON OBIT. E-mail pioneer Ray Tomlinson died March 5 at the age of 74. The New York Times report gave a brief history of his development.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Mr. Tomlinson was working at the research and development company Bolt, Beranek & Newman on projects for ARPANET, a forerunner of the Internet created for the Defense Department. At the time, the company had developed a messaging program, called SNDMSG, that allowed multiple users of a time-share computer to send messages to one another.

But it was a closed messaging system, limited to users of a single computer.

Mr. Tomlinson, filching codes from a file-transfer program he had created called CYPNET, modified SNDMSG so that messages could be sent from one host computer to another throughout the ARPANET system.

To do this, he needed a symbol to separate a user name from a destination address. And so the plump little @ sign came into use, chosen because it did not appear in user names and did not have any meaning in the TENEX paging program used on time-sharing computers.

The BBC’s Dave Lee wrote “Ray Tomlinson’s e-mail is flawed, but never bettered”.

He is widely regarded as the inventor of email, and is credited with putting the now iconic “@” sign in the addresses of the revolutionary system.

He could never have imagined the multitude of ways email would come to be used, abused and confused.

Just think – right now, someone, somewhere is writing an email she should probably reconsider. Count to 10, my friend. Sleep on it.

Another is sending an email containing brutal, heartbreaking words that, really, should be said in person… if only he had the nerve.

And of course, a Nigerian prince is considering how best to ask for my help in spending his fortune.

Chip Hitchcock says, “AFAICT, nobody saw person-to-person email coming; computers were for talking to central data, as in ‘A Logic Named Joe’ or even The Shockwave Rider. The closest I can think of to discussing the effects of mass cheap point-to-point communication is the side comment on cell-phone etiquette in the opening scene of Tunnel in the Sky. Can anyone provide another example?”

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 13, 1981 – Joe Dante’s The Howling premieres in North America.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born March 13, 1911 – L. Ron Hubbard

(12) HUGO NOMINATORS: NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER. Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Kittens reappears after a five-month hiatus, because it’s “Hugo Season!”

The annual SFF self-loathing theme weeks are here again — I feel (as I feel every year) like a total loser for not having read enough new science fiction and fantasy to make informed nominations for the Hugo award. I haven’t read Seveneves, haven’t seen Ant-Man, haven’t had the time for Jessica Jones, haven’t waded through a lot of short fiction.

Damn damn damn.

Then again, you’re always going to feel that way, no matter what. And it’s not football (which means “soccer”, in case you’re American), so whining doesn’t help.

(13) BINARY BEAUTY. “Google’s AI Is Now Reigning Go Champion of the World”. Motherboard has the story.

On Saturday afternoon in Seoul, AlphaGo, the Go-playing artificial intelligence created by Google’s DeepMind, beat 18-time Go world champion Lee Sedol for its third straight win in a five game series.

The win was a historic one for artificial intelligence research, a field where AI’s mastery of this 2,500 year old game was long considered a holy grail of sorts for AI researchers. This win was particularly notable because the match included situations called ko fights which hadn’t arisen in the previous two games. Prior to AlphaGo’s win, other Go experts had speculated that ko situations could prove to be stumbling blocks for the DeepMind program as they had been in the past for other Go computer programs.

“When you watch really great Go players play, it is like a thing of beauty,” said Google co-founder Sergey Brin, himself a self-proclaimed adamant Go player in grad school, after the match. “So I’m very excited that we’ve been able to instill that level of beauty inside a computer. I’m really honored to be here in the company of Lee Sedol, such an incredible player, as well as the DeepMind team who’ve been working so hard on the beauty of a computer.”

(14) PC OR BS? Ethan Mills of Examined Worlds asks “Has Political Correctness Run Amok? Does It Even Exist?”

… I’m tempted to call this “A Prolegomena to Any Future Discourse about Political Correctness.”….

  1. Is political correctness a cut-and-dried free speech issue?  Why is it that many examples of the “political correctness has run amok” narrative involve cases where one group exercises its freedom to speak against ideas or to decide what speech they want to support in their space?  Is this really a threat to free speech in general if it’s limited to a particular space?  Is there a right to tell people what speech to support in their space? Does political correctness threaten free speech in a more fundamental way by making people feel uncomfortable to say certain things at all?  How do we decide what counts as a threat to free speech in general?  Are there some things that just shouldn’t be said in certain contexts?  Should all speech be allowed in all contexts?  If not, how do we decide when it’s permissible to limit speech?  Is there a difference between limiting speech and simply asking people not to say certain things?
  2. What is the difference between political correctness and politeness or basic respect?  Is there a difference?  What happens if what one person calls political correctness another person calls being polite, civil, or respecting the humanity of others?  How do we settle these disputes?  Is it possible that this whole issue is really just based on the feeling that people don’t like being told what to say?  Is it possible or desirable to change that feeling and thus shift the whole narrative on this issue?

(15) PI TIME. Are you getting into MIT? Then expect notification from BB-8. “MIT parodies ‘Star Wars’ for ‘decision day’ announcement”.

The video ultimately reveals that “decision day” for the class of 2020 will take place on March 14, which is also known as “Pi Day”, as 3.14 represents the first 3 digits of pi.

Hopeful applicants will be able to learn whether or not they’ve been accepted to MIT by logging onto the admissions website starting at 6:28 p.m. on Pi Day. This time represents another reference to pi as 6.28 is known as “Tau” or two times pi.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]

Pixel Scroll 9/3 The Nine Billion Noms of Dog

(1) Digg has the best space images from the month of August. They are beauties.

As we tediously while away our days down here on Earth, satellites are zooming through space, snapping incredible pictures of Earth, the solar system and outer space. Here are the highlights from August.

(2) Answer just 4 questions, and the William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Sonnet Generator will create a unique 14-line love sonnet just for you!

What Is Lovely As A Summer Slate

Based on the William Shakespeare Star Wars series by Ian Doescher

When sorely press’d by Sith-like enemy,
I think on thee, and soon have no regret.
My heart is lock’d, yet thou dost hold the key,
Our lives are join’d in lovers’ sweet duet.
Let us unto Naboo, its shores of green,
There meet the call of passion at our best.
If thou wert droid, I’d love thee, though machine
If thou would claim mine heart, I’ll not protest.
Love, like a lightsaber, one’s heart can slay,
Love is the new-grown fruit sprung from the heart,
Love plunges one headlong into the fray,
Love is the canvas, passion is the art.
Let rivals come, who chase me at the rear,
Thou hast e’er been my solace, dear.

(3) Radio Times learned nothing from Christopher Eccleston about Doctor Who in a recent interview.

When asked if he’d been watching his successor Peter Capaldi onscreen recently, Christopher Eccleston replied in the negative – in a pretty big way.

“I never watched Doctor Who when I was a child,” he retorted. “I never watched MYSELF as Doctor Who!”

(4) Pat Cadigan on Facebook

After recent events in which Bryan Thomas Schmidt did a solid for both me and everyone else working on MACII, I’ve had some thoughts:

Whatever else happens on social media, on websites, in review columns, on Amazon, or anywhere else, I want a kinder, gentler worldcon.

Worldon is our annual gathering of the clans, not a field of combat. We go there to enjoy ourselves and to be among friends. For a few days, we get to hang out on Planet Science Fiction/Fantasy.

Worldcon is *not* a battlefield.

This is not to say that those with opposing perspectives can’t have a meaningful, even spirited dialog. But there’s a big difference between a heated discussion between people who feel strongly about their respective positions and gladiatorial combat in the Colisseum for the lurid amusement of people who didn’t even bother to show up and in fact never intended to.

I don’t care what your point of view is; I don’t even care if you don’t like *me*––you’re welcome at MACII and I will do nothing to make you feel like you aren’t. But worldcon isn’t a passive, static thing like a department store. Worldcon is interactive (worldcon was interactive before it was fashionable)––what you get out of if, for the most part, is what you put into it. If you go to the panels, check out the dealers’ room and the art show, meet some writers or artists or other pros at kaffeeklatsches, literary beers, or signings, go to the bid parties, and make a little effort to meet new people, you’ll have a great time…

(5) Can you tell this book by the cover?

(6) Tom Knighton gives his “Thoughts on Sad Puppies 4”.

For most people, the idea of tens of thousands voting for the Hugos should make you giddy.  For us, it has added benefits of rendering any small group influence on the awards non-existent.  No, our favorites may not win, but you know what?  That’s life.  What we want to see win is the stuff the actual fan–the people that [George R.R.] Martin may dismiss but who buy books by the truckload–actually reads.

While Martin doesn’t think it will add to the prestige of the award, more fans voting on them will do one thing from my perspective.  We’ll start to see some books win that actually look interesting and then deliver on the inside.  With the exception of Three Body Problem (which I haven’t read yet, so I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt), that hasn’t been the default position of the Hugos in some time.

(7) Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Kittens – “My first (seven) reactions to the surprise announcement of Sad Puppies 4”

4 reasons to pet the Puppies:

  1. Tone

The Puppy organizers Kate Paulk, Sarah A. Hoyt and Amanda S. Green have written things that I consider stupid, hateful and obnoxious, but the Sad Puppies 4 announcement was phrased very un-obnoxiously. Civility is a nice thing.

  1. It’s not a slate, really

Listing more works than one can nominate for the Hugos and stating up front that one should read the stuff before suggesting it are good and play down the slate aspect.

  1. No more shady correct taste comissars

With Sad Puppies 3, Brad Torgersen had a somewhat similar nominee suggestion phase (that had humorously few participants). After that, though, he ditched most of the stuff people had suggested and went on with the things that were written by his chums. There will be no more of that, it seems.

  1. Focus on MOAR

The Puppy trio has promised to focus on participation instead of ideological screeds. It remains to be seen if that is a promise they are able to keep.

(8) Barry Deutsch – “Don’t Be Fooled – Kate Paulk’s Kinder, Gentler Sad Puppy Slate Is Still A Slate”

For instance, in 2012 (before the puppies), 611 Hugo voters turned in ballots for short stories. The most popular short story, E. Lily Yu’s amazing The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees, was listed on only 72 of those 611 ballots (about 12%). At least 60% of those 611 ballots didn’t vote for any of the top five nominated stories.

And that’s fine. That’s how the Hugo nominations are designed to work. 611 Hugo voters, acting as individuals, each nominate whatever short stories they think are award-worthy. From that list of hundreds of short stories, the five most-nominated make it to the final ballot.

Unfortunately, it’s an easy system to game, as the Puppies have proven. If you can form a voting bloc of just 100 people who will nominate an agreed-upon list, instead of voting as individuals, that’s enough to completely overwhelm the much larger number of Hugo voters who are voting as individuals. 100 people voting for just 5 works will beat out 500 people voting from among hundreds of works.

(9) Philip Sandifer – “Weird Kitties: An Organized Anti-Slate For The 2016 Hugos”

The good news is that there are five thousand of us, united, if nothing else, by the facts that 1) We voted in the Hugos, and 2) We are not Puppies of any stripe. We are not a campaign. We are not a political movement. We are not playing some elaborate game of four-dimensional chess in order to topple Christendom. Indeed we, in the sense of “me and everyone reading this,” are not even all five thousand voters. But nevertheless, we are a bunch of fans defined by the simple fact that we’re eligible to nominate things for Hugos next year, and we’re not Vox Day’s pack of rabid dogs.

One of the most helpful things, then, would be if all five thousand of us nominated, and if we nominated a full ballot. Among us, we’ve got 25,000 open slots on our ballots in every category with which to push a work over the slate-busting threshold of 541. That’s doable, but it’s also hard. A lot of us, myself included, don’t identify five eligible Hugo-worthy items in every category in a normal year’s reading. In many categories, a lot of us don’t identify one. We don’t all have writing Winds of Winter to be distracted from, after all. And we could use some help.

So I’m creating Weird Kitties for exactly that. It’s going to be an ongoing conversation about awesome science fiction and fantasy that’s come out and is coming out in 2015, conducted for people who want to fill in their Hugo ballots with things they love.

(10) Camestros Felapton – “How big should the Hugo Awards”

What is the ideal number of people to vote on the Hugo Awards? I’d say it should be around whatever the number of people is that feel they can make a reasonable decision on the least popular story category (Novelette? I haven’t checked historically) – i.e. how many people are taking an active interest in SF/F Novelettes published in English in a given year. I don’t know what that number is but those are the interesting people. Why? Because they are people looking at newer writers and people doing interesting things and who are interested in trends etc.

(11) John C. Wright – “Hugo Controversy Quiz Questions”

Theodore Beale, who writes under the pen name Vox Day, joined us as an ally, but disagreed with the goals. He thought the award could not be salvaged and restored to its former glory; indeed, the only thing that could be done would be to force the politically-correctness faction (which he calls by the mocking title Social Justice Warriors, at one time their own name for themselves) to reveal their true purposes. His plan was to make it clear to any honest onlooker that the awards were being given out not based on merit, but due to politics. For this reason, he promoted his own slate of suggested works for his fans to read and vote upon, called the Rabid Puppies.

The Social Justice Warriors did in fact react precisely as Mr Beale predicted, and after the Sad Puppies unexpectedly swept several categories in the nominations, the SJWs used their superior numbers to vote NO AWARD into that category rather than give the award to whichever work was most worthy among the candidates.

This was done purely and openly for political reasons. The mask is torn. No honest onlooker can doubt the motive of the Social Justice Warriors at this point, or ponder whether the claims made by the Sad Puppies were true or false.

(12) Sarah Mirk of Bitch Media interviews Ann Vandermeer in “’Sisters of the Revolution’ Collects Powerful Feminist Sci-Fi”

I was wondering what you think of the “puppies” pushback to the Awards and what that reveal.

Well I have to say I was really excited at the people that won. The best novel category, I was very, very excited about that, because I know both the writer and the translator, so that was—I mean the way that I look at the outcome of the entire awards ceremony is it was showing you that science fiction is bigger than just the United States and the U.K. That’s how I felt. The science fiction community is definitely making that outreach into the wider world. When you think about the Hugos, what you’re looking at is a popularity contest in a sense because the awards are going to be voted on by the people that buy the memberships. It’s plain and simple. It’s not a juried award, there’s no judge, it’s just who’s voting and how they’re voting. So it’s just by the numbers. When you look at it that way, the thing that was really exciting to me is that this past year they had more than double the average number of people voting than they’ve had in the past. I think they had close to 6,000 people who voted.

Did more people turn out to vote because they’d heard about the controversy over the awards?

Well, I think people were getting more involved in the discussion. If you take a look at the numbers, and you look at the number of people who are actually members of World Con, every single person who signs up for a membership, whether it’s supporting or attending, can vote. So, typically, only half of the people that have memberships, vote. Only half. It’s kind of like when you take a look at our Presidential elections, what’s the percentage of people that vote? Not everybody. But we had so many people that actually voted. Now, here’s the good thing about that. It’s not true for every voter, I’m not naïve, but a lot of voters went in and read the stories, which to me is amazing. So a lot of those stories got a larger audience than they ever would.

(13) Didact’s Reach – “So what now, Hugo?”

The detailed statistics behind the awards results showed very clearly that the voters at WorldCon and Sasquan were perfectly willing to undermine the legitimacy of their own award process in order to keep out those that they don’t like. LTC Tom Kratman, John C. Wright, Steve Rsaza, a number of Baen authors, and Toni Weisskopf herself, were all denied awards that they richly deserved and should have won for their respective categories.

Yet, instead of even bothering to consider the alternatives, five different categories were given “No Award”. The Hugo and Nebula Awards were, essentially, reduced to a farce. And all because politics overruled etiquette, courtesy, wisdom, and good judgement.

The SJWs who currently control the nomination and award process have made it perfectly clear that they intend to amend the (already incomprehensible) rules for next year’s ballot in order to prevent a similar uprising from happening again. Good luck with that; I have every reason to think that the Sad Puppies leaders for next year, Amanda Green, Kate Paulk, and Sarah A. Hoyt, will simply adapt, react, and overcome in order to get works by actual skilled authors that fans actually might want to read up for nominations.

(14) Jed Hartman on Lorem Ipsum – “Why I love the Hugos”

I acknowledge that the system is contentious and complicated and initially confusing, and I’m sad that people feel excluded, because I want everyone who’s interested to feel like they can be part of it. In general, I feel like bringing more people into the process means that the awards are more valid, because they’re less likely to represent the views of only a few people.

And there’s a whole lot of room for expansion. Even though I agree that the financial barrier to entry is high, that’s certainly not the only issue, because every year a large percentage of the Worldcon members who are eligible to vote don’t do so. So it’s great that the nominating and voting numbers have been going up and up in recent years, but there are still a lot of people who could vote but don’t, and a lot of other people who want to but can’t.

But even so. Despite all of the system’s flaws; despite my eye-rolling when an MC yet again does the “I’m going to make this ceremony last as long as possible” schtick; despite occasional bad behavior on the part of an MC or a presenter or a nominee; despite my personal disappointment that the magazine I edited for twelve years hasn’t yet won one (I’ve wanted a Hugo since I was a kid); despite the sometimes-contentious arguing about what should be nominated and what should win; despite my dubiousness about making nominees sit there tensely waiting to find out whether they’ve won, and about the basic idea of declaring one particular work or person to be the “best” of the year; despite everything—the Hugos are important to me.

And I especially love the Hugo ceremony itself, in all its disparate parts. The pause to honor the people in our field who’ve died over the past year, as their names scroll by on the screen. The awards honoring contributions to fandom, like the Big Heart award. The occasional very entertaining MCs. The beautiful designs for the Hugo award base. The passing-along of the Campbell tiara. The delight of most of the winners. The sometimes gracious and sometimes funny and sometimes overwhelmed acceptance speeches. The rush to analyze the stats afterward. The whole thing, flaws and all. It’s one of my favorite things about Worldcon, which is (despite its flaws) one of my favorite conventions.

(15) Robert Bevan on Caverns and Creatures “Hugo Loss (Sad Puppies Can Eat a Dick.)”

  1. What do the Sad Puppies see as the problem? 

SJW, the all-too-often abbreviated form of the “Social Justice Warrior”. It’s most often used as a lazy means for bigots to dismiss opinions which differ from whatever they were told by their daddy/preacher/grand wizard.

Having said that, I will admit to being annoyed by people I perceive as SJWs (in the derogatory sense) as well. In fact, they were an entry in my Reviewers Who Can Eat a Dick post right up until the final edit. I ended up removing that entry because I felt it made me sound like a whiny asshole, and because it’s so hard to differentiate an actual advocate for social justice, which is something that I admire, from an obnoxious loudmouth who’s only interested in scoring sensitivity points by pretending to be offended by innocuous words. (If enough people read this, I’ll get a few comments calling me a misogynist, in spite of the SJW nature of this post, for using the phrase “Cry like little bitches.” in the above entry.)

The puppies’ stated problem was that these SJWs had already compromised the integrity of the Hugos by voting along the lines of authors’ race, gender, sexuality, or politics, rather than based on the quality of the actual books they were voting on. Books with “messages” and meaning were winning out over good old-fashioned fun space romps, like the kind Puppies like to write.

That last sentence is paraphrased from what I read on one of the puppies’ blogs. The implication seemed to be that their books were more deserving of a prestigious award specifically because they were devoid of anything important to say. By that metric, my books should be pulling in Hugos left and right.

(16) Vox Day declares:

John Scalzi can ban all the parodies he likes. The VFM [Vile Faceless Minions] will just publish more bestsellers. Strike one down and two pop right back up to the top of the category within 24 hours.

parodies_3

(17) Scalzi looked over the goods and said…

(18) Kevin Standlee is working on a proposal to drop some Hugo categories and add others.

I think we’ve reached a point, in small steps, where a significant proportion of the Hugo Award electorate doesn’t know how to actually nominate in at least three categories, and at worst derides those categories because they think they are so complicated or need specialist knowledge that they’ll never have. This is not good for the health of the Hugo Awards. I therefore propose that we should delete three existing categories that people find confusing and unclear and replace them with three new categories that, while not perfectly defined (it’s difficult to define things completely air-tight), are at least more accessible and understandable to the people picking up the ballot or reading the results list.

Categories to Delete

  • Best Semiprozine
  • Best Editor Long Form
  • Best Editor Short Form

Categories to Add

  • Best Professional Magazine
  • Best Anthology or Collection
  • Best Publisher

(19) Andrew Porter writes:

Couldn’t get to Smokane? The smoke made it to the East Coast … by the middle of last week, according to this report. That explains the haze and pollution so many places on the East Coast have been experiencing.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Steven H Silver, Mark, Barry Deutsch and John King Tarpinian for some of these links. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day John Seavey.]

Pixel Scroll 7/31 Happy Hour at Paulk’s Tavern

Lions roar, kittens tweet, and other animals make noise in today’s Scroll.

(1) Recommended – Gregory Benford reviews Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora in “Envision Starflight Failing”.

Aurora depicts a starship on a long voyage to Tau Ceti four centuries from now. It is shaped like a car axle, with two large wheels turning for centrifugal gravity. The biomes along their rims support many Earthly lifezones which need constant tending to be stable. They’re voyaging to Tau Ceti, so the ship’s name is a reference to Isaac Asimov’s The Naked Sun, which takes place on a world orbiting Tau Ceti named Aurora. Arrival at the Earthlike moon of a super-Earth primary brings celebration, exploration, and we see just how complex an interstellar expedition four centuries from now can be, in both technology and society.

In 2012, Robinson declared in a Scientific American interview that “It’s a joke and a waste of time to think about starships or inhabiting the galaxy. It’s a systemic lie that science fiction tells the world that the galaxy is within our reach.” Aurora spells this out through unlikely plot devices. Robinson loads the dice quite obviously against interstellar exploration. A brooding pessimism dominates the novel.

There are scientific issues that look quite unlikely, but not central to the novel’s theme. A “magnetic scissors” method of launching a starship seems plagued with problems, for example. But the intent is clear through its staging and plot.

I’ll discuss the quality of the argument Aurora attempts, with spoilers.

 

 

(2) Spacefaring Kitten is one of many people posting their Hugo ballot today, but one of the few who has an interesting analysis of my favorite category.

Best Fanzine

  1. Journey Planet
  2. Tangent SF Online
  3. Elitist Book Reviews
  4. No Award
  5. The Revenge of Hump Day

Journey Planet is easily the most interesting of these publications. Black Gate would have been able to put up a fight here, but they chose to withdraw because of Puppy-related embarrassment.

Tangent SF Online and The Revenge of Hump Day were probably on the Puppy ballots as a sort of payback for, respectively, the public outcry following Tangent’s umm… let us say fatherly review of the Women Destroy Science Fiction issue of Lightspeed and the disinvitation of Tim Bolgeo (the guy behind The Revenge of Hump Day) as a Fan Guest of Honor in Archon after accusations of racism. However, I chose to place Tangent second and well above No Award, because I think all venues in which short SFF fiction is discussed are important.

As far as I can see, Tangent’s short fiction reviews are quite good, even if the editor’s attitudes smell a bit aged. Take a look at their 2014 Recommended Reading List, for example. Tangent lists noteworthy stories in four categories (0, 1, 2 and 3 stars), and I couldn’t resist counting that together all the 14 Puppy finalists get four mentions and one star. In contrast, the five short story nominations I made myself (none of which made the final ballot, obviously) collect three mentions and eight stars. The Tangent seems like a useful resource for finding the sort of fiction I’d enjoy, and I plan to take a look at some of the three-star stories I haven’t read yet.

There was nothing terribly amiss with Elitist Book Reviews either, even though they seem to generally like books that I don’t and I found their practice of discussing recommended age and levels of offensive language, violence and sex amusingly over-protective. You don’t really have to be 16 to be able to read a curse word, do you? However, they’re number three.

 

(3) By now I think everybody has seen Adam Roberts’ cheery thoughts about the Hugos in the Guardian:

What the Puppies have done is within the rules of the awards, and key figures in the movement have already declared their intention to repeat the process next year. But this is larger than one set of awards. It is about the direction of science-fiction as a whole, and it poses larger cultural questions.

The truth is that this year’s Hugo awards are wrecked. Can you imagine anyone saying that of the Pulitzer, Man Booker, or Nobel? Yet here we are, and if the Puppies succeed in gaming the awards again in 2016 we may as well give up on the Hugos forever.

This is what is so frustrating about the Puppies’ campaign. Not that it has resulted in a bunch of frankly inferior works being shortlisted – although it has. And not that it values old-fashioned SF over more experimental, literary and progressive writing – that’s a matter of taste. What is so annoying is that it so ostentatiously turns its back on the global context out of which the best writing is happening today.

 

Can it be true that Roberts values rhetoric about diversity over rules changes that preserve it as a possibility?

(4) The Guardian article sure revived Larry Correia! Yesterday’s limp “fisking” of The New Yorker’s Delany interview has been succeeded his vibrant smackdown “Fisking the Guardian’s Latest Sad Puppy Article of the Week”. Correia’s remarks in boldface, Guardian text in regular text.

Considering that the Hugo awards hadn’t even ever nominated a single work of media tie in fiction until Sad Puppies came along, I don’t know where the hell you’re getting this idea that the insular little inbred cliques were combing the whole world for worthy new talent before. Hell, I believe the first ever INDY PUBLISHED novel nomination came from Sad Puppies, and you expect that little cliquish circle jerk of friends who’ve been taking turns giving each other awards, to suddenly teach themselves Spanish in order to check out the best sci-fi from Uruguay? 

This whole train of thought is just a stupid diversion. The Guardian is just being its normal snooty self. Look at us, we read MOAR GLOBALLY (no, actually, they probably don’t. From inaccuracies in previous articles about various classics we’re already pretty sure Damien skates by reading Wikipedia synopsis of books and then pretending to be well read). 

Science fiction, if it is about anything, is about hospitality to otherness,

Just not conservatives or libertarians, because screw those guys.

 to the alien and the unusual, about freeing one’s mind and boldly going where no one has been before. It is, centrally, about diversity. Locking out women writers, writers of colour, gay and trans writers does a violence to the heart of the genre.

That concluding paragraph is just regurgitated tripe.  We’re not the ones trying to lock out anyone. Female, “writers of colour” (oh how I hate that stupid racist term), gay, trans, left handed ginger pygmy wolf-riding garden squirrels, WE DON’T CARE. Write books. Entertain people. Fans get to judge books by the content of their pages rather than the author’s bio. Then give the really good ones awards.

This isn’t exactly rocket science, not that you jackasses didn’t literally try to make actual fucking rocket science all about sexism too.

If the Puppies win, nobody wins.

No. The Puppies would win. That’s sort of what the word win means, dumbass.

 

 

(5) Sasquan guest astronaut Kjell Lindgren is at the International Space Station.

 

(6) Mark your calendars. Vox Day has announced the release date for his next project:

This is interesting. Apparently the SJWs are more than a little worried about my upcoming book, SJWS ALWAYS LIE: Taking Down the Thought Police….

Just wait until August 27th, the one-year anniversary of #GamerGate, which I plan to celebrate by publishing the book.

You read it here first. Or possibly second. But more likely first. Maybe you can leave town that day – does Kjell Lindgren have a spare cot?

(7) The Final Interview of C. S. Lewis, conducted by Sherwood Eliot Wirt, appeared in Decision magazine in September 1963.

From Part I —

Wirt: How can we foster the encounter of people with Jesus Christ?

Lewis: “You can’t lay down any pattern for God. There are many different ways of bringing people into his Kingdom, even some ways that I specially dislike! I have therefore learned to be cautious in my judgment.

“But we can block it in many ways. As Christians we are tempted to make unnecessary concessions to those outside the faith. We give in too much. Now, I don’t mean that we should run the risk of making a nuisance of ourselves by witnessing at improper times, but there comes a time when we must show that we disagree. We must show our Christian colors, if we are to be true to Jesus Christ. We cannot remain silent or concede everything away.

“There is a character in one of my children’s stories named Aslan, who says, ‘I never tell anyone any story except his own.’ I cannot speak for the way God deals with others; I only know how he deals with me personally. Of course, we are to pray for spiritual awakening, and in various ways we can do something toward it. But we must remember that neither Paul nor Apollos gives the increase. As Charles Williams once said, ‘The altar must often be built in one place so that the fire may come down in another place.’”

In Part II, Lewis answers questions about Heaven, Earth and Outer Space.

Wirt: Do you think there will be widespread travel in space?

Lewis: “I look forward with horror to contact with the other inhabited planets, if there are such. We would only transport to them all of our sin and our acquisitiveness, and establish a new colonialism. I can’t bear to think of it. But if we on earth were to get right with God, of course, all would be changed. Once we find ourselves spiritually awakened, we can go to outer space and take the good things with us. That is quite a different matter.”

[Thanks to JJ, Gregory Benford, and John King Tarpinian for some of these links. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day JJ.]

Pixel Scroll 7/27 Riffing on AD&D

A long-eared geezer, eight stories and an embarrassing admission in today’s Scroll.

(1) Today’s birthday boy is… Bugs Bunny. He’s 75 years old.

(2) David Steffen answers “Why Do I Value The Hugos?” on Diabolical Plots.

[Excerpt is the second of seven points.]

I’ve been following the Hugos closely for several years, trying to read and review as many of the nominated works as I can digest between the announcement of the ballot and the final deadline.  I also follow the Nebulas, and I glance at the results from other SF genre awards, but for me the Hugos take up most of my attention come award season.  With this eventful Hugo year, it crossed my mind to wonder why the Hugos specifically, and whether I might perhaps be better off devoting more of my attention to awards that don’t collect controversy the way the Hugo Awards always seem to do, and in escalating fashion these last few years….

  1.  The Hugos Have a Long Reading Period

The Nebulas and the Locus awards have very short reading periods (the period of time between the announcement of the ballot and the voting deadline) of only about a month.  If I want to read as much of the fiction as possible, that’s not nearly enough time–I can’t finish all the short fiction, let alone start the novels.  The Hugo ballot is announced around Easter weekend (usually early April or so) and the voting deadline is at the end of July, so there are nearly four months to try to do all the reading.  The Hugo Packet isn’t released right at the beginning of the reading period, but usually enough of the short fiction was published in online venues so that I can fill my reading time with Hugo material.

https://twitter.com/LisaR_M/status/625448045316943872

(3) Then maybe Lisa would rather hear about – Worldcon site selection?

Spacefaring Kitten thinks it’s only fair that Helsinki win the right to host 2017 because all the other contenders have already had a turn…or seven.

A few facts to consider:

Five last countries that have hosted a Worldcon: United States (2015), United Kingdom (2014), United States (2013), United States (2012), United States (2011). Next year, the Worldcon will be in United States. In case the bid for Washington DC in 2017 (that is sort of a favorite at the moment, I guess) is successful, that’s third United States year in a row, and given the fact that there are only US bids for 2018 at the moment, it’s quite probably going to be four years of back-to-back United States Worldcons and seven United States Worldcons in eight years. That’s a lot of United States in one paragraph.

Competing for the 2017 Worldcon location, there are also bids for Montreal (in Canada) and Shizuoka City (in Japan). After 2000, the Worldcon has been in Canada twice (2009, 2003) and in Japan once (2007). Now, I’m sure that all proposed locations would hold a wonderful convention, but Helsinki would certainly be something new.

worldcon(4) Toymakers have got to protect the brand. Or, “Why Thomas the Tank Engine Doesn’t Kill Anybody in Ant-Man.

“I believe in Edgar [Wright] and Joe Cornish’s original drafts it was a train set,” Reed recalls. “At some point in the process that predated my involvement it became Thomas. As I came on, they had not secured the rights to Thomas. We had to do this whole thing where we did this presentation for the people who own the rights to Thomas. Thank God they agreed and found it funny, but there were definite stipulations. For example, nobody could be tied to the tracks and run over by Thomas. Thomas couldn’t be doing anything that could be perceived by children as evil Thomas. Thomas had to stay neutral in the battle, which was always our intention. Like anybody, they’re protective of their brand. I didn’t know what we were going to do if we didn’t get the rights to that. There are certain things I was going to be devastated about if we couldn’t have them. Thomas was one, because… you could do any kind of toy train, but the personality of that thing and the eyes moving back and forth give it a whole vibe and took it to another level.”

(5) Another Castalia House child prodigy! Jeffro Johnson reports in “First Session Report for my Daughter’s Dungeon Design!”

At the age of nine, my daughter has designed a 15 level dungeon, gotten paid for her work, and received back playtest report. It doesn’t get any better than that…!

It’s true – and entertaining, too.

(6) The Official Tolkien Calendar 2016 featuring artwork by Tove Jansson will be released on July 30. The cost is £9.99.

Jansson, who passed away in 2001, is well-known worldwide as the author and artists behind the popular Moomin series. As an accomplished artist, she provided the artwork for the Swedish editions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Hobbit (also later used in Finnish editions). In Boel Westin’s autobiography of Jansson, she is quoted as saying “The figures are banal: dwarves, gnomes, fairies, dark-elves. But the scenery is luring in its macabre cruelty … Haunted woods, pitch-dark rivers, a moon-lit moor with burning wolves.

2016 Tolkien Calendar(7) Ursula K. Le Guin is offering writing advice through an “Online Fiction Workshop” at Book View Cafe. Use the form at the post to submit your question.

I have enough vigor and stamina these days to write poems, for which I am very thankful. It takes quite a lot of vigor and stamina to write a story, and a huge amount to write a novel. I don’t have those any more, and I miss writing fiction.

Reliable vigor and stamina is also required to teach a class or run a workshop, and so I had to give up teaching several years ago. But I miss being in touch with serious prentice writers.

So in in hope of regaining some of the pleasures of teaching and talking about writing fiction with people who do, I’m going to try an experiment: a kind of open consultation or informal ongoing workshop in Fictional Navigation, here on Book View Café.

I hope it will work its own process out as we go along, but here’s how I plan to start:

I invite questions about writing fiction from people who are working seriously at writing fiction.

(8) Explore the author’s earliest novels in Part I of SF Signal’s Interview with Samuel R. Delany.

Q: Your new book, A, B, C: THREE SHORT NOVELS, takes the reader back to the beginning of your career by offering up your first three novels. What is it about these works that impelled you to offer them up again?

Samuel R. Delany: With all these books’ clumsinesses and immaturities, I think—I hope—I was trying for something that is probably harder and harder to see with time’s passing. Indeed, it may never have been there. The only thing that might have thrown some highlighting onto it at the time they were published were slight differences between them and what was then coming out in the genre. Because so many changes have taken place in the background against which individual works now register, however, it’s harder and harder to read the signals.

(9) The Guardian included Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves on its 70 title longlist for the “Not The Booker prize”.

If you want to become part of this noble process, all you have to do is vote for two books from the longlist, from two different publishers, and accompany those votes with a review of at least one of your chosen books in the comments section below. This review should be something over 100 words long, although, as the rules state, we probably won’t be counting all that carefully.

Readers have until August 2 to vote titles onto the shortlist.

(10) After using geometric logic to deduce the wrong writer behind “Ray Blank’s” real-life identity, I was informed by a friend that it’s not even a secret. Eric Priezkalns says it’s him:

Ray Blank is the pen name I use when submitting speculative fiction to publishers.

And just in case I needed more convincing, my friend also ran comparative text samples through IBM Watson Personality Insights. Because science!

Really, though, it’s just not any kind of a secret.

[Thanks to JJ, Mark, Will R., Jonathan Olfert, and John King Tarpinain for some of these stories. Title credit to Soon Lee]

Pixel Scroll 7/24

Editor’s Appeal: Is “Pixel Scroll” a good title for these daily posts? If so, I still think there needs to be some adornment and variety to keep it fresh. Can anybody think of a scheme to generate a brand of subtitles? (The “Pixel Scroll” title could be changed to something else to facilitate a winning idea.)

(1) George R.R. Martin is coming to Sasquan after all and has declared he is taking back the Hugo Losers Party from the boring souls who have sanitized it and disguised it as the “Post-Hugo Nominees Reception.” GRRM and Gardner Dozois held the first one in 1976 and it immediately became de rigueur.

Gardner and I ran another one at Suncon in 1977, and yet another at Iguanacon in 1978 (I lost my first novel Hugo that year). I don’t think there was one in 1979, but don’t know for sure… that year worldcon was in England, and I didn’t have the money to go. But the Hugo Losers party came back big in 1980, at Noreascon II. That blurry picture up above? That’s me, entering the Hugo Losers Party with two Hugos in my hands. Such hubris cannot go unpunished. Nor did it. Please note the man lurking behind me. That’s Gardner, smiling innocently. A few moment later, when my back was turned, he produced a can of whipped cream and sprayed it all over my head. Sic Semper Victorius.

So George says:

Fuck 1999. Let’s party like it’s 1976.

(2) Those looking to practice their party skills should show up for Prolog(ue), the relaxacon being held in Seattle the weekend before the Worldcon (August 14-16). Ulrika O’Brien has posted a progress report at the link. The international array of Persons of Interest coming to the con includes TAFF winner Nina Horvath and —

Charles Stross – Hugo- and Locus-Award winning author of the Laundry Files series, the Merchant Princes series, and too many stand-alone novels and short stories to mention, will be reading from his latest Laundry Files book, The Annihilation Score (released July 7) and possibly unreleased upcoming stories. You Heard It Here First.

(3) “Portlander Ursula K. Le Guin is Breathing Fire to Save American Literature” in Portland Monthly begins, “At 85, she may be Portland’s greatest writer. She may also be the fiercest.”

Foremost among her concerns these days, it seems, is what Le Guin considers a worrisome literary shift whereby writers—squeezed to make a living in a world that attaches less and less financial value to their profession—view themselves more as brands and “content producers” than artists. “I see so many writers getting pushed around by the sales department, the PR people, and being led to believe that that’s what they do,” she told me. “That’s a terrible waste.”

Artistic resignation in the name of pragmatism—“letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish, what to write,” as she put it in her National Book Awards speech—elicits Le Guin’s especial disapproval precisely because she herself spent an entire career bucking what others thought she should write. Yet even now that her own science fiction has been lofted into the modern literary canon, praised by no less an elitist than Yale’s Harold Bloom, Le Guin remains more interested in keeping the good fight going than in declaring victory. “We’ve come a real long way,” she admitted, “and in fact I think essentially these genre walls are down. But you would not believe how contemptuously reviewers and other people still just dismiss sci-fi. There’s still so much ignorance, and that bugs me.”

(4) GoodReads has blogged their choices for “10 of the Best Narrator and Audiobook Pairings of All Time” which includes numerous SF/F entries:

Ready Player One

BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS Written by Kurt Vonnegut Narrated by John Malkovich (Dangerous Liaisons, Being John Malkovich)

READY PLAYER ONE Written by Ernest Cline Narrated by Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Stand by Me)

THE HANDMAID’S TALE Written by Margaret Atwood Narrated by Claire Danes (My So-Called Life, Homeland)

A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS Written by Lemony Snicket Narrated by Tim Curry (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, It)

FAHRENHEIT 451 Written by Ray Bradbury Narrated by Tim Robbins (The Shawshank Redemption, Mystic River)

(5) Robert J. Sawyer admits he is skeptical about newer writers crowdfunding their novels.

So, I’m still struggling with this. I’ve supported some Kickstarters for projects that clearly are not commercially viable that I’d like to see done. But early books in a writer’s career? Those have rarely been commercially viable for anyone, and have always represented a substantial degree of risk and commitment on the part of the author.

(6) Bradbury, the Building makes for good reading, too, on LA Curbed.

The timeless, fantastic Bradbury Building at Broadway and Third Street is a much-beloved Downtown Los Angeles landmark, most widely known for its significant appearances in movies including Blade Runner, (500) Days of Summer, and Marlowe, starring the late James Garner. But before it was a popular film set, it was the idea of a gold-mining magnate who really wanted to put his name on a building. His vision led him to turn down a prominent architect and mysteriously commission a totally untrained one instead, and that not-quite-architect, George H. Wyman, turned to ghosts and literature to pull it off. Avery Trufelman, producer of the design and architecture podcast 99 Percent Invisible, talked to Esotouric operators Kim Cooper and Richard Schave about the eerie history of what 99 PI calls “arguably the biggest architectural movie star of Los Angeles.”

As the story goes, Lewis Bradbury, a gold-mining millionaire, decided he wanted to build and put his name on a building, so in 1892 he commissioned prominent architect Sumner P. Hunt, who alone and with partners would design the Southwest Museum, the Ebell Club, the Automobile Club in University Park, and loads of private homes for wealthy clients throughout the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries. Hunt prepared some plans for the proposed building, but when Bradbury visited the office to check them out, he wasn’t taken with any of them. Here’s where things get weird…..

It’s said that Wyman’s inspiration for the building’s design was directly inspired by a novel, Looking Backwards by Edward Bellamy, a popular science fiction novel about a utopian society that was published in 1888. A passage from that book describes this incredible building in the future (which, in those days, was 2000): “a vast hall full of light received not alone from the windows on all sides, but from the dome.

(7) Pluto appears to have glaciers of nitrogen ice, judging by the latest pictures from the New Horizons probe.

….But the mission team cautions that it has received only 4-5% of the data gathered during 14 July’s historic flyby of the dwarf planet, and any interpretations must carry caveats.

“Pluto has a very complicated story to tell; Pluto has a very interesting history, and there is a lot of work we need to do to understand this very complicated place,” explained Alan Stern, the New Horizons principal investigator.

In a briefing at the US space agency’s HQ in Washington DC, he and colleagues then outlined a number of new analyses based on the limited data-set in their possession.

These included the observation that Pluto has a much more rarified atmosphere than previously predicted by the models. …

Pluto atmosphere(8) Don’t miss out — here’s info about how to submit yourself for casting calls for the next three Star Wars movies.

The Walt Disney Studios and Lucasfilm in association with Kasdan Pictures and Genre Films will begin production on “Star Wars: Episode VIII” on January 16, 2016. Casting is now officially underway for new lead roles and supporting roles. Filming will take place at the Pinewood Studios in London, England among another undisclosed locations in the United Kingfom. Casting director information is posted below. Experienced film crew members can now submit resumes to the production office email below. All actors, extras, and film crew members must be legally eligible to work in the entertainment industry in the United Kingdom….

(9) Speaking of available work, Vox Day posted a Tor job announcement today – they’re looking for a publicist. See how helpful he is? Not just trying to create openings at Tor, but willing to fill them too!

(10) I enjoyed Spacefaring Kitten’s spin on this nominee –

(11) Sarah Lotz, in a Guardian book blog post titled “The Hugo awards will be losers if politics takes the prize”, has this to say —

It raises the question: who should nominate works for awards anyway? A select jury (a la the Man Booker or Clarke) or the fans who actually buy the books? Clearly there should be enough room – and integrity – for both. Yet this year’s Clarke award shortlist was almost universally praised, while, in contrast, the Hugo nominations were met with derision and incredulity (for example, so-called “rabid puppy” Vox Day, who has called women’s rights “a disease to be eradicated”, is up for two awards). You might say that this is democracy at work – the fans have spoken! – and that would be all well and good, but, tellingly, two authors recommended by the Sad Puppies have already pulled their work from the nominations, saying that they want their writing to be judged on merit and not on their assumed political affiliations. It goes without saying that all books, whatever their authors’ political stance, should be judged on whether they’re any good or not; but with some factions suggesting fans vote “No Award” on categories that they believe have been hijacked, and the Puppies urging their stormtroopers to stick to their guns, the whole thing has slipped into farce. And this is a great pity.

(12) Here’s a dissenting theory.

(13) And now you need a laugh.

A Italian western parody, of Sergio Leone’s THE GOOD, THE BAD and the UGLY…but with Star Wars characters. With respect to Ennio Morricone’s unforgettable and entirely iconic film score.

 

[Thanks to JJ, Paul Weimer, SF Signal and John King Tarpinian for some of these links.]