“Marvelous Nerd Year’s Eve” Joins Ranks of Failed Media Conventions

marvelous-nerd-years-eve-banner

Perhaps the accursed year 2016’s last victim, Marvelous Nerd Years Eve in Dallas is the latest media con to underperform and leave behind a cloud of shortchanged celebrities.

Marquis guest Stan Lee, who received half of his $200,000 appearance fee in advance, is still owed $50,000 reports Heidi McDonald at ComicMix.

The con advertised 40 other celebrities would be on hand, including Ming Na Wen, Michael Rooker, Kevin Sorbo, Jasen Mewes, and Nichelle Nichols.

Matthew Egan, a con volunteer, wrote in a public Facebook post that “many celebrities were not paid, many agents were not paid, all employees at the show have been laid off.” He also claimed to have overheard attendance estimated at 4,000, half of what was needed to make the con a success.

As a result, the con did not meet its room guarantee. According to McDonald, “When not enough rooms were booked, the amount owed skyrocketed as rooms were then billed at a higher rate. When the guarantee wasn’t met the hotel threatened to kick people out of their rooms on Sunday unless organizers paid the difference.”

Things were settled with the hotel, but many others are still looking to get paid. Among them is David Gerrold, who detailed his experience in a Facebook post that he encouraged people to share.

I was an invited guest at the “Marvelous Nerd Year’s Eve” Comic-Con held in Dallas over New Year’s weekend.

Apparently, it was a disaster of biblical proportions. Not just dogs and cats living together, but suing each other for palimony and custody of the kittens.

The convention organizers over-promised, under-budgeted, over-extended, under-performed, and committed what I consider acts of “criminal incompetence.”

Why do I use the adjective “criminal?”

Because people were hurt. Not just by the incompetence, but by the deliberate incompetence.

Many of the guests — not necessarily the A-listers — depend on the sales of autographs and photographs as part of their income between gigs. They are not all millionaires. Many actors and celebrities, especially those from TV shows of yore, have some income from royalties and residuals, but often depend on convention appearances to give them a little bit of a cushion — or even cover the mortgage.

So when a convention signs a contract, makes a commitment — such as, “We guarantee that you will make $5000 in autograph and photo sales, or we will make up the difference” and then fails to provide enough attendees to make those sales and then fails to cover the guarantee as well — that’s criminal incompetence.

Even worse, the company formed to put on the convention is dissolving itself, so there will be no one to sue.

Most of the other guests had their air fare covered and meals covered by a per diem. So at least their basic travel expenses were covered.

I drove.

After four days of promises, I had nothing but four days of promises. My travel expenses were never covered.

Based on their promises, I had expected $2500 and travel expenses as the bare minimum, and I budgeted for that.

Instead, I’m out my travel expenses. Nearly $800.

Did I sell enough books and tribbles and scripts to make it worthwhile? No.

Because first, they didn’t have a dealer’s table for me, and the woman who was supposed to arrange it was more interested in talking about how busy she was than in actually making arrangements for the table. Not a bad person, but not really focused on the job.

When I finally did get a sales table, it wasn’t in the dealer’s room, it was in a second room that was carefully hidden from most of the convention membership. I did not sell enough to cover my expenses.

I am particularly angry at the CFO of the convention who lied to my face, three times — that he had a check for me for my travel expenses (I’d already turned in my receipts) — when he already knew damn well that the convention was so far in the hole that the hotel was about to lock all of the guests out of their rooms because the convention couldn’t cover the lodging bills.

Any other convention, I would have made enough to justify the effort. Instead, I have a hole in my budget that is going to create a problem for the next month or two. I had planned to spend the money on paying for the kids’ wedding pictures. Now I have to generate that cash somewhere else. (January book sale starts momentarily.)

So yes, “criminal incompetence.” People were hurt. Not just me — but every celebrity guest (over 40 of them) and every vendor (at least as many) who invested his or her weekend on the promises of this criminally incompetent group of people.

I’ve had nearly a half century of convention experience. Most of the cons I’ve attended, whether professional or fan run, have been managed well enough that fans and guests were taken care of. I have never been caught up in a disaster as big as this one. (Which is why I didn’t recognize my personal alarm bells when they went off.)

I would hope that the individuals responsible for this particular train wreck have enough class and courage to issue a public apology — but more than that, I hope they get out of the convention business, because, based on the evidence, they are a danger to the well-being of everyone who trusts them.

The event was produced by Geek Expos, and Bleeding Cool’s article about the debacle says the company is going under:

Added to a poor performance in their recent Oklahoma show, and the word was that Geek Expos is in the process of being dissolved, with firings across the company including the CEO, and future announced shows, in Dallas and Tulsa, being cancelled.

Pixel Scroll 10/25/16 Bears Discover File 770

clarke-center-arrivalcarouseli

(1) ARRIVAL PREMIERE BENEFIT FOR CLARION. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination will host the San Diego premiere of the film Arrival, starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker. After the film, there will be a conversation and Q&A with Ted Chiang, whose novella “Story of Your Life” provided the basis of the screenplay.

All proceeds from the screening benefit the Clarion Foundation, which supports the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop at UC San Diego. Click on the link to buy tickets.

Arrival is the the story of what happens when mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe. An elite team, led by expert linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams), is brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers-and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and, quite possibly, humanity.

Ted Chiang is a graduate and, later, instructor in the renowned Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, organized at UCSD by the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination. Known for his exacting craftsmanship in writing profound and psychologically rich science fiction, Chiang this year alone has the honor of having a story (“The Great Silence”) in both the Best American Short Stories 2016 and Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016, after it was originally written for a collaboration with the visual artists Allora & Calzadilla.

(2) NEW CLARKE CENTER PODCAST. Into the Impossible: A Clarke Center Podcast launches November 1.

clarke-podcast-logoInto the Impossible is a podcast of stories, ideas, and speculations from the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination. Early episodes will take listeners through exciting, ranging conversations with and between scientists, artists, writers, and thinkers of different stripes, on the nature of imagination and how, through speculative culture, we create our future. The first episode includes Freeman Dyson (physicist and writer), David Kaiser (physicist, MIT), Rae Armantrout (Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, UCSD professor emeritus), and Brian Keating (astrophysicist, UCSD).

Later episodes will feature actors like Herbert Siguenza (Culture Clash), futurists like Bruce Sterling (writer, design theorist, WIRED columnist), and science fiction authors like Vernor Vinge (novelist, mathematician, computer scientist), as well as looks into Clarke Center activities like Dr. Allyson Muotri’s lab growing Neanderthal brain neurons and the new Speculative Design major. We will also premiere an audio performance created in collaboration between artist Marina Abramovic and science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson, created in workshop here at the Clarke Center with Adam Tinkle and local and student volunteers.

(3) LEARNING AND RELEARNING. Cat Rambo’s speech is now online — “Into the Abyss: Surrey International Writers Conference, Morning Keynote for October 23, 2016”.

I try to write, every day, 2000 words, because that’s what Stephen King does and I think he’s a pretty good role model. Note that I say try, because I don’t always hit it. But you must write. Every day you write is a victory.

Figure out your personal writing process and what works for you. And then do it, lots. I realized that my most productive time is the mornings. So if my mother calls in the mornings, she knows I will answer “Is this an emergency?” and if she says no, I will hang up. (I did warn her before implementing this policy.) Find the times and places you are productive and defend them from the world. You will have gotten a lot of writing advice here and the thing about writing advice is this. All of it is both right and wrong, because people’s process differs and moreover, it can and will differ over the course of time. Find what works for you and do it.

Be kind to yourself. We are delicate, complex machines both physically and mentally. Writers are so good at beating themselves up, at feeling guilty, at imagining terrible futures. You are the person with the most to gain from being kind to yourself; do it. Don’t punish yourself for not hitting a writing goal; reward yourself when you do.

(4) ZOMBIE PROM REVIEW. Martin Morse Wooster personally eyeballed the production and returned with a verdict:

I saw Zombie Prom on Friday, and I think Nelson Pressley’s review was unfair.  Unexpected Stage Company, which did the production, is a minor-league company.  I doubt any member of the cast was over 25 and no one was a member of Equity.  That being said, everyone hit their marks and remembered their lines and most of the cast had pretty good voices.  I thought the production was pleasant.

The title of the musical is misleading, because there’s only one zombie in the cast. (I guess they couldn’t call it One Zombie at a Prom.) It’s the 1950s, and we’re at Enrico Fermi High.  Jonny Warner gets jilted by his girlfriend and leaps into a vat of nuclear waste, which turns him into a zombie.  Will anyone accept him–including his former girlfriend?

I have never heard of Dean P. Rowe, who did the music, and John Dempsey, author of the book and lyrics, but they have talent and my guess is in five years we will hear a lot from them.  There are some mildly deep references to ’50s pop culture, including what I thought was a reference to The Milton Berle Show.  The two best performers were Dallas Milholland, who for some reason decided to play semi-villainous Principal Delilah Strict in a pseudo-British accent, and Will Hawkins, who played Jonny Warner with a great deal of gusto.

Their website is Unexpected Stage Company.

(5) LONG LISTENER ANTHOLOGY. David Steffen says there will be an audiobook of the Long List Anthology Volume 2 after all, using a modified table of contents.

I have been talking with Skyboat Media and we have decided to go ahead with the audiobook, with some alterations to the table of contents from the original stretch goal to get it to just the right length for the resources available.  So there will be an audiobook again this year, this time with 6 stories.

The table of contents is:

  • Our Lady of the Open Road by Sarah Pinsker
  • Today I Am Paul by Martin L. Shoemaker
  • Madeleine by Amal El-Mohtar
  • Pocosin by Ursula Vernon
  • Damage by David D. Levine
  • Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds by Rose Lemberg

The title will also be different to reflect the different table of contents from the book/ebook:

OUR LADY OF THE OPEN ROAD & OTHER STORIES FROM THE LONG LIST ANTHOLOGY, volume 2

(6) TEPPER OBIT. The SFWA Blog posted an obituary for Sheri S. Tepper.

Cat Rambo says, “If I had to name one series by her I adore more than any other of the many excellent choices, it’s the Marianne series, and I highly recommend them to the File 770 readers.”

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born October 25, 1892 — Leo G. Carroll in 1892  (played Topper, and Alexander Waverly in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.)
  • Born October 25, 1924 — Billy Barty. His sf/f resume includes the animated The Lord of the Rings (1978, rotoscope footage) Snow White (1987), Masters of the Universe (1987) and Lobster Man from Mars (1989).

(8) CHAT WITH THREE-BODY AUTHOR. An excellent interview at SF Crowsnest: “Cixin Liu: interviewed by Gareth D Jones”.

GDJ: My favourite character in the books is Da Shi, especially in the second volume, ‘The Dark Forest’. Do you have a favourite character out of the ones you wrote about?

CL: In terms of Da Shi, he’s one of the most liked characters amongst Europeans and American readers. I think it’s because he’s like a caricature of a Chinese person of Beijing police, real well-connected, good with people. But this kind of people are actually really common in China, so we all know someone like that. But for non-Chinese readers, he immediately captures the attention. In terms of favourite character, I don’t think I have a favourite character really because they’re just there to propel the story forward. So it’s where the story is taking them that affects them, so I don’t have a favourite.

(9) ET, PHONE US. “Either the stars are strange, or there are 234 aliens trying to contact us” says Phys.org news. Obviously, these guys haven’t read the Three-Body Trilogy.

What we’re talking about here is a new study from E.F. Borra and E. Trottier, two astronomers at Laval University in Canada. Their study, titled “Discovery of peculiar periodic spectral modulations in a small fraction of solar type stars” was just published at arXiv.org. ArXiv.org is a pre-print website, so the paper itself hasn’t been peer reviewed yet. But it is generating interest.

The two astronomers used data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and analyzed the spectra of 2.5 million stars. Of all those stars, they found 234 stars that are producing a puzzling signal. That’s only a tiny percentage. And, they say, these signals “have exactly the shape of an ETI signal” that was predicted in a previous study by Borra.

Prediction is a key part of the scientific method. If you develop a theory, your theory looks better and better the more you can use it to correctly predict some future events based on it. Look how many times Einstein’s predictions based on Relativity have been proven correct.

The 234 stars in Borra and Trottier’s study aren’t random. They’re “overwhelmingly in the F2 to K1 spectral range” according to the abstract. That’s significant because this is a small range centred around the spectrum of our own Sun. And our own Sun is the only one we know of that has an intelligent species living near it. If ours does, maybe others do too?

(10) THE HULK V. THE THING. CinemaBlend reports Stan Lee’s definitive answer to America’s most asked question. (And no, it’s not “Does your chewing gum lose its flavor in the bedpost overnight?”)

It’s a question that has dogged comic book fans for decades: who would win in a fight between The Hulk and The Thing? Of course, there’s only one man who has the definitive answer to this quandary: Marvel icon Stan Lee himself. So when it was finally posed to the comic book legend, the world waited with bated breath to hear the answer, which, as it turns out, is The Hulk.

Stan Lee made this admission during his chat with The Tomorrow Show. But there were a few caveats to Stan Lee’s answer, who predicted that The Thing/Ben Grimm would definitely give The Hulk/Bruce Banner a run for his money, as he’s a little smarter than his counterpart. But that didn’t stop Stan Lee from picking The Hulk as the winner, as he explained:

“Oh, The Hulk would win. The Thing is faster and smarter, so he would probably find a way to turn it into a draw or save himself. He’d trap or trick the Hulk. But, in a fair fight, there’s no way the Hulk [would lose]. He’d win.”

(11) FIFTH OF INDIANA. ScreenRant says a fifth Indiana Jones movie will be out in 2019, starring Harrison Ford and directed by Steven Spielberg. But what about George Lucas? “Indiana Jones 5: George Lucas Is Not Involved With Story”.

In an interview with Collider, the screenwriter mentioned that Lucas does not have a hand in crafting the Indiana Jones 5 story, saying, “I haven’t had any contact with him.” Spielberg’s earlier claims that Lucas would be an executive producer could still be true, but it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which Lucas is attached to an Indiana Jones film and isn’t helping design the narrative. It would appear that Lucas would rather enjoy his retirement than jump into the Hollywood machine again, which isn’t all that surprising considering his comments about Disney in the lead-up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. For many fans, this is a bittersweet revelation; like Star Wars, Lucas is an integral part of the Indiana Jones property, but he was responsible for some of the more unfavorable elements in Crystal Skull, such as his insistence aliens be in the film. Some viewers would prefer Lucas stay away.

(12) SFWA MARKET REPORT. SFWA President Cat Rambo says, “The latest market report went out a little late this month and I wanted to make sure people were aware of it. Dave Steffen is doing a terrific job assembling it.” Find it here: http://www.sfwa.org/2016/10/sfwa-market-report-october/.

(13) OPENINGS IN RAMBO/SWIRSKY CLASS. There are still slots open in “Re-Telling and Re-Taleing: Old Stories Into New”, the Cat Rambo/Rachel Swirsky live online class happening Saturday, October 29.

Authors constantly draw on the stories that have preceded them, particularly folklore, mythology, and fables. What are the best methods for approaching such material and what are the possible pitfall? How does one achieve originality when working with such familiar stories? Lecture, in-class exercise, and discussion will build your proficiency when working with such stories. Co-taught with Nebula-award winning writer Rachel Swirsky.

(14) ARCHEOTELEVISION. Echo Ishii has a new post about another antique sff TV show – “SF Obscure: Children of the Stones”.

Children of the Stones is a 1977 television drama for children produced by ITV network. I know of this show mainly because of the late Gareth Thomas. So, I decided to watch it because I had heard good things about it.

Astrophysicist Adam Brake and his son Matthew go to a village called Millbury which has a megalithic circle of stones in the middle of it. (It’s filmed on the prehistoric monument of Avebury) Things get strange as soon as they arrive. First of all, the housekeeper and neighbors all seem abnormally happy. Matthew has strange feelings of evil and is immediately hostile towards the new neighbor. His father chides him, but Matthew can’t help but feel something is wrong. We later learn that Matthew has some psychic abilities and this is why he reacts the way he does….

(15) DISSECTING THE FALL TV PREMIERES. Asking the Wrong Questions’ Abigail Nussbaum continues “Thoughts on the New TV Season, 2016 Edition, Part 2”.

Westworld – Easily the most-anticipated new series of the fall, the consensus that has already formed around HBO’s latest foray into genre is that it represents the channel’s attempts to grapple with its own reputation for prurient violence, particularly violence against women (see Emily Nussbaum in The New Yorker, and Aaron Bady in The Los Angeles Review of Books).  You can see how that consensus has formed–Westworld builds on the 1973 movie to imagine a lush and impeccably-detailed theme park in which customers pay lavishly to indulge their every fantasy, which almost inevitably seem to involve murder, mayhem, and of course rape.  The metaphor for how HBO’s pretensions to highbrow entertainment ultimately rest on the sumptuously-filmed and -costumed violence of Game of Thrones, True Detective, and The Night Of pretty much writes itself.  For myself, I’d like to believe that there’s more to Westworld than this glib reading, first because I simply do not believe that anyone at HBO possesses this level of self-awareness–this is, after all, the channel whose executives were genuinely taken aback, in the year 2016, by the idea that their shows had become synonymous with violence against women–and second because it’s by far the least interesting avenue of story the show could take.

(16) WOMEN INVISIBLE AGAIN. Juliet McKenna takes to task “Andrew Marr’s Paperback Heroes – a masculine view of epic fantasy entrenching bias”.

Two things happened on Monday 24th October. News of Sheri S Tepper’s death spread – and a lot of people on social media wondered why isn’t her brilliant, innovative and challenging science fiction and fantasy writing better known?

Then the BBC broadcast the second episode of Andrew Marr’s series on popular fiction, looking at epic fantasy.

The programme featured discussion of the work of seven, perhaps eight, major writers – six men and one, perhaps two women if you include the very passing reference to J K Rowling .

Four male writers were interviewed and one woman. Please note that the woman was interviewed solely in the context of fantasy written for children.

If you total up all the writers included, adding in cover shots or single-sentence name checks, eleven men get a look-in, compared to six women. Of those women, three got no more than a name check and one got no more than a screenshot of a single book.

It was an interesting programme, if simplistic in its view, to my mind. There’s a lot of fantasy written nowadays that goes beyond the old Hero’s Journey template. There’s a great deal to the genre today that isn’t the male-dominated grimdarkery which this programme implied is currently the be-all and end-all of the genre….

(17) MASQUERADE VIDEOS. The International Costumers Guild has posted the final version of the “MidAmeriCon 1 masquerade Look Back”.

This episode features highlights from the MidAmeriCon 1 masquerade held in Kansas City, MO. Having discovered another version of this masquerade after the initial upload, we’ve replaced it with this one because the color is more vivid. There is also one additional costume entry that has been added to the video. Note: This video, while not the sharpest in detail, could still be considered slightly NSFW.

 

They have also just released a quick memorial to author and costumer Adrienne Martine-Barnes.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Rambo, Nora and Bruce Mai, JJ, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 10/23/16 Earth Scrolls Are Easy

(1) LE GUIN HEALTH NEWS. Ursula K. Le Guin, who was hospitalized for a few days this summer with heart problems, gave a health update in a comment at Book View Café on October 22.

The kindness of these messages is wonderful.  I wish I could thank you each. I can only thank you all with all my heart.

Health update: My daily bouquet of medicines with weird names is definitely doing its job.   Am quite recovered from the bad time, and get along fine if I don’t push it. My model of behavior is the Sloth.  Can’t hang from branches yet, but am real good at moving slo o o w w l y . . .

Best wishes to all my well-wishers.

(2) STARSHIPS IN OUR LIFETIME. Starship Engineer Workshops are being offered in London on November 12-13.

For further information or to book contact the team at: info@i4is.org  for more details.  For the full promotional flyer: http://i4is.org/app/webroot/uploads/files/SE_A4_Nov2016%20(AM)%20Vers%202.pdf

The Initiative for Interstellar Studies in collaboration with the British Interplanetary Society will deliver an updated Starship Engineer workshop course. Two one day courses, either attend one or both, each will be different and important in their own way.

12th November: Starship Engineer.  Aims to give a grounding in interstellar studies. It starts from considering the essential requirements to giving you an overview of different spacecraft systems, then takes you on a journey through several actual starship design studies. We use examples from the literature, but focus on two specific case studies, that of fusion and beamed-sail propulsion, as plausible ways by which we may someday reach the  stars.

13th November: Science Fiction Starships.  The works of science fiction literature have fascinating starship concepts, but how realistic are they? In this day course we will examine and evaluate the laser-sails in “The Mote in Gods Eye (Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle), Torch Ships in “Time for the Stars” (Robert Heinlein), Quantum Ramjets in “The Songs of Distant Earth” (Arthur C Clarke) and other inspirational examples of interstellar vessels….

Principal Lecturers: Kelvin F. Longis a physicist and aerospace engineer, until recently Chief Editor Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, author of the book “Deep Space Propulsion: A Roadmap to the Stars” and is the Executive Director i4is and a member of the Breakthrough Starshot advisory committee.

Rob Swinney is a former RAF Squadron Leader aerosystems engineer and is a Deputy Director of i4is. He, and Long, have both been involved in the creation and running of the only two modern starship design projects, Project Icarus (fusion) and Project Dragonfly (laser-sails).

(3) IN TRAINING. Kevin Standlee writes a lyrical post about taking the California Zephyr through the Sierras.

Speaking of the nice parts: the eastbound Zephyr includes some views through the Sierra Nevada that you don’t get on the westbound trip. For example, shortly after Colfax the train goes around “Cape Horn” with some spectacular views of the American River Canyon. Some of the trees have finally been cut back as well; for a while, they’d grown so thick that they cut off the vista, which was unfortunate. Eastbound you miss this because the normal eastbound track goes through a tunnel that custs off this corner with its precipitous view. I’m composing most of them while snaking our way up the mountain, but I can’t post it because on this stretch there is no cell phone signal. We’re on the opposite side of the mountains from the I-80 corridor where the cell phone towers are. Not that I mind. I’m mostly looking out the window. As a touch-typist, I don’t need to stare at the keyboard to write.

(4) NOT A TYPICAL ANALOG WRITER. Galactic Journey says Harry Harrison has finally registered on their radar screen –

Author Harry Harrison has been around for a long time, starting his science fiction writing career at the beginning of the last decade (1951).  Yet, it was not until this decade that I (and probably many others) discovered him.  He came into my view with the stellar Deathworld, a novel that was a strong contender for last year’s Hugo.  Then I found his popular Stainless Steel Rat stories, which were recently anthologized.  The fellow is definitely making a name for himself.

Harrison actually occupies a liberal spot in generally conservative Analog magazine’s stable of authors.  While Harry tends to stick with typical Analog tropes (psionics, humano-centric stories, interstellar hijinx), there are themes in his work which are quite progressive – even subversive, at least for the medium in which they appear.

For instance, there is a strong pro-ecological message in Deathworld.  I also detect threads of pacifism in Harrison’s works, not to mention rather unorthodox portrayal of women and sexual mores.  Harry isn’t Ted Sturgeon or anything, but he is definitely an outlier for Analog, and refreshing for the genre as a whole.

(5) ALMOST YOUR BIGGEST FAN. The Twitter user formerly known as Jim Henley knows how to pay a compliment.

(6) DILLON OBIT. Comics artist Steve Dillion died October 22 reports the BBC.

Steve Dillon, the legendary British comic book artist, known for his work on Preacher, Punisher, and 2000AD’s Judge Dredd has died aged 54.

His brother Glyn confirmed the death on Twitter, saying his “big brother and hero” had died in New York City.

Dillon was a prolific artist who began professional work at age 16, drawing for Marvel UK’s Hulk magazine.

He was best known for his US collaborations with writer Garth Ennis, creating classic cult comic titles.

In his Twitter profile, Dillon, originally from Luton, describes himself as: “A comic book bloke. Co-creator/Artist of Preacher. Co-founder/Editor of Deadline magazine. Artist on Punisher, Judge Dredd and many others.”

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born October 23, 1942  — Michael Crichton.

(8) YOUR EPIC IMAGINATION. James Davis Nicoll says it’s “Good news!” Dorothy J. Heydt’s The Interior Life (published under penname Katherine Blake) available again as a free ebook.

Go here for the download.

(9) DO YOU LIKE WHAT SMART PEOPLE LIKE? Ann Leckie keeps hitting them out of the park. Today’s topic: “On Guilty Pleasures”.

Or Romance. Romance isn’t one of my things, right, but let’s be honest, a crappy detective novel or a crappy SF or Extruded Fantasy Product is just as bad as a crappy Romance. When it’s SF we’ll protest that no, that’s just a bad one, the whole genre’s not like that, but Romance? Romance is just stupid, man.

Isn’t it funny how guilty pleasures are things that poor people like–or tend to buy or use because it’s cheap. Isn’t it funny how guilty pleasures are things that teenage girls like, or women. Isn’t it funny how guilty pleasures are things we liked when we were kids.

I’m not saying that nothing can be criticized–there are surely bad Romance novels. Taylor Swift is a pretty good songwriter who has done some very admirable things, but she’s also had her less than admirable public moments. Velveeta doesn’t come out well in a comparison with really good cheese (unless its a competition for what will make the easiest mac & cheese, given only three minutes and a microwave to work with), and it’s probably not very good for you. I’m perfectly willing to criticize things I like, or consider criticism of those things, and still like them.

No, I’m talking about that weird, moral dimension to likes and dislikes. You like pumpkin spice anything? You should be ashamed. You should feel guilty, because you’re not supposed to like that, smart people don’t like that, people who like that have something wrong with them.

So much of what we like or dislike–what we’re publicly supposed to like or dislike–is functioning as in-group identifiers.

(10) HAN SOLO MOVIE CASTING. Donald Glover will play young Lando Calrissian, and YES he will wear a cape reports the Los Angeles Times.

Donald Glover is officially your new Lando Calrissian. Lucasfilm has announced that Glover will play the younger version of “Star Wars’” Cloud City administrator turned Rebel Alliance general in the upcoming standalone Han Solo film.

Glover will join Alden Ehrenreich, who was confirmed to play the young Solo during Star Wars Celebration in July.

According to the press release, the upcoming film will depict “Lando in his formative years as a scoundrel on the rise in the galaxy’s underworld — years before the events involving Han, Leia, and Darth Vader in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and his rise to Rebel hero in ‘Return of the Jedi.’”

(11) ACCELERATING HUMAN IMAGINATION IN ENGLAND. Did somebody think it wasn’t fast enough?

On November 24 and 25th on the campus of the University of Liverpool, London, the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination and the University of Liverpool, London will host a workshop called Accelerating Human Imagination, bringing together a number of US and European experts in the study of imagination. They will be presenting and discussing new research on questions such as: What is “imagination?” Is there a singular basis of imagination that develops into a number of different phenomena, or do we use the word imagination to group together a number of aspects of behavior and cognition into a common category? If we can better understand imagination, we might be able to find ways of directly engaging it in order to accelerate its operation. What use might we put this accelerated imagination to?

(12) RAW SCIENCE FILM FESTIVAL. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination is a  partner of the Raw Science Film Festival, which honors films on science and technology from around the world. The screening and award ceremony will take place on December 10, 2016, on the Fox Studio lot inside the historic Zanuck Theater. Sheldon Brown will be on hand to present the inaugural Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination Prize in Speculative Media. The deadline for festival submissions is November 9.

(13) INDIE SHRINKS. At Mad Genius Club, Fynbospress makes insightful speculations about the new author earnings report.

Interesting times, interesting results. After two and half years of constant growth, this time we see the first contraction for indie market share. Trad Pub’s big five showed a very slight gain in unit sales, but most of the market share went to Amazon’s own publishing arm, and a smaller amount to uncategorized single-author publishers (mostly indies).

On gross revenues, most of the lost market share went to small and medium publishers, with a smaller amount to amazon Pub.

Having the what, we’re left to speculate on the why, and how. Causes may include, but are not limited to: Amazon’s Kindle first program, pushing their own new releases; Bookbub’s increasing percentage of big and medium press slots as opposed to indies (and increased price raising the barrier to the fewer slots left); Amazon’s new promoted/sponsored search ads; consolidation of indies into small pubs; the stars being in the right configuration for C’thulu to rise from dead R’lyeh; other factors unknown at this time.

(14) SAY AHHHHH. Research shows “Migraine Sufferers Have More Nitrate-Reducing Microbes in their Mouths”.

Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have found that the mouths of migraine sufferers harbor significantly more microbes with the ability to modify nitrates than people who do not get migraine headaches. The study is published October 18 by mSystems.

“There is this idea out there that certain foods trigger migraines — chocolate, wine and especially foods containing nitrates,” said first author Antonio Gonzalez, a programmer analyst in the laboratory of Rob Knight, PhD, professor and director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation at UC San Diego and senior author on the study. “We thought that perhaps there are connections between what people are eating, their microbiomes and their experiences with migraines.”

Many of the 38 million Americans who suffer from migraines report an association between consuming nitrates and their severe headaches. Nitrates, found in foods such as processed meats and green leafy vegetables and in certain medicines, can be reduced to nitrites by bacteria found in the mouth. When circulating in the blood, these nitrites can then be converted to nitric oxide under certain conditions. Nitric oxide can aid cardiovascular health by improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure. However, roughly four in five cardiac patients who take nitrate-containing drugs for chest pain or congestive heart failure report severe headaches as a side effect.

(15) SQUINTING. Kevin Marks discusses “How the Web Became Unreadable”. Surprisingly, he’s not talking about all the political posts.

It’s been getting harder for me to read things on my phone and my laptop. I’ve caught myself squinting and holding the screen closer to my face. I’ve worried that my eyesight is starting to go.

These hurdles have made me grumpier over time, but what pushed me over the edge was when Google’s App Engine console—a page that, as a developer, I use daily—changed its text from legible to illegible. Text that was once crisp and dark was suddenly lightened to a pallid gray. Though age has indeed taken its toll on my eyesight, it turns out that I was suffering from a design trend.

There’s a widespread movement in design circles to reduce the contrast between text and background, making type harder to read. Apple is guilty. Google is, too. So is Twitter.

(16) HAGIOGRAPHY. Leonard Maltin interviews Stan Lee for Parade.

DINNER WITH DOCTOR STRANGE

When asked which three of his superheroes he would like to have dinner with, he takes a moment to think the question through. “I’d probably enjoy talking to Iron Man,” he says. “I’d like to talk to Doctor Strange. I like the Silver Surfer. Iron Man is sort of a classier Donald Trump, if you can imagine that sort of thing. The Silver Surfer is always philosophical; he comments about the world and man’s position in the universe, why we don’t enjoy living on this wonderful planet and why we don’t help each other.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/9/16 Little Old Lady Got Nominated Late Last Night

(1) HERE’S THE PLOT. Ursula Vernon cultivates history in her garden. Read “Sowing History: A Gardener’s Tale” at Tor.com.

When people think of gardeners, many of them tend to picture little old ladies in straw hats with bright green gloves, pottering among the roses.

When people think of gardeners who are also children’s book authors, they go straight to Beatrix Potter and assume that not only are these little old ladies in straw hats pottering among the roses, but they are also greeting the friendly woodland creatures by name—“Hello, Mister Robin! You’re looking very feathery today!” “Why, Missus Tiggywinkle, how have you been?” “Oh dear, that naughty little cottontail has been at my lettuces again!”

Well, I am a gardener and a children’s book author. I am also under forty, tattooed, and the owner of a mostly black wardrobe, and when I greet a happy woodland creature by name, there is an excellent chance that the sentence will end with “touch that and I will end you.”

(2) THE FIRST STAR WARS FANS. The Skywalking Through Neverland podcast discusses “The Early Days of Star Wars Fandom with Craig Miller”.

Our spe­cial guest Craig Miller was the Pub­li­cist and Direc­tor of Fan Rela­tions for Lucas­film dur­ing the hey-day of the 70’s and 80’s. Ever won­der how fans knew what was going on in fan­dom before social media? Whose job was it to tell the world about this new movie called Star Wars? Craig shares some awe­some stories.

 

episod116square Craig Miller

(3) KAMERON HURLEY. Asked where his inspiration came from, lyricist Sammy Cahn said “When the check arrives.” Kameron Hurley’s check has arrived, but she explains what else she needs besides, in “Kameron Hurley: Cultivating Inspiration on Deadline” at Locus Online.

Instead of spending all that time feeling guilty about what I wasn’t doing and scrolling through Twitter, I needed to release myself from the ‘‘I should be writing’’ mentality and let my brain start connect­ing things on its own. I found that the more I actively thought about plot problems, the less my brain wanted to fix them. It kept trying to avoid the problems I’d put to it. For instance, instead of fixing a plot problem on my current book, my brain recently offered up a solution to a subplot problem in the next book I’ll be working on. At some point I have to give in and let my brain make the connections it needs to make, without getting in its way. More and more, I have to let my brain go more than I’m used to, or it just retreads the same old story paths.

I would like to tell you that giving up everything to write is the only way to write. I enjoy spouting that whole ‘‘fall on your sword’’ advice time and time again. Giving up activities that waste your time while you should be writing is beneficial, but I can only burn hard like I have for so long before the flame gutters out. I don’t want to be that writer who just writes the same story over and over again.

(4) A LECKIE FANTASY. Rachel Swirsky’s April 8 Friday Fiction Recommendation is “Marsh Gods” by Ann Leckie.

I’m a fan of Ann’s fantasy universe in which gods must be careful to speak the truth, lest they lose their power. I hope we get longer work in it someday, or at least more. (Publishers: Hint, hint.)

Read “Marsh Gods” at Strange Horizons, or listen at PodCastle.

(5) WRITERS OF THE FUTURE. There was a bit of drama during “Day 5 – Writers of the Future Volume 32 Workshop”.

First up was Liza Trombi from Locus Magazine, the foremost professional publication in science fiction and fantasy literature. She discussed Locus, and then moved on to the vagaries of self-publishing, traditional publishing, and going hybrid. Liza recommended trying traditional publishing before attempting self-publishing. She also mentioned that publishing your first novel is rare, and that the best thing you can do for your future writing career is to always be writing a new book.

Robert J. Sawyer was up after Liza. With fresh copies of Locus in the winner’s hands, Robert took the opportunity to point out that his latest book, while having been well reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly and the Washington Post, was disliked by Locus. And while the book is doing extremely well, the reality is that someone will always dislike your work. He stressed that you should never write to please everyone because you never will. Your job, he says, is to identify what it is you do. You should know what your brand is as a writer, and write to please those people.

(6) WRITERS OF THE PRESENT. The bestselling authors are walking between the raindrops at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books this weekend.

Stan Lee kept dry.

Other ornaments to our genre were on hand.

No Scalzi food photo today, but it played an important part on the program.

He also found time to practice his starship hijacking skills, on a modest scale.

(7) BINDER FULL OF LETTERS. Doug Ellis shares a few more historic letters in his post “Otto Binder on H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard” at Black Gate.

In late December 1935, science fiction author Otto Binder moved from Chicago to NYC to represent Otis Adelbert Kline’s literary agency. Among the authors he represented for Kline’s agency was Robert E. Howard. Binder had been to NYC previously, in late June and early July 1935, with his friends Clifford Kornoelje (better known in SF circles as Jack Darrow) and Bill Dellenback.

As I’ve mentioned before, back in 2001 I bought a few boxes of correspondence from Darrow’s estate, including dozens of letters that Binder had written to Darrow over the course of many decades. In going through them last month, I pulled this one and thought I’d post it today.

Once in NYC, Otto quickly resumed his friendships with Mort Weisinger and Charles Hornig, and rapidly met more figures involved in the local science fiction community. Less than two weeks after he’d arrived, he was invited to a gathering at Frank Belknap Long’s place, which was held on Friday, January 3, 1936. Binder and Long were fellow Weird Tales authors, with Binder and his brother, Earl, having sold WT some stories under their Eando Binder penname.

Among the others at the party were Donald and Howard Wandrei, Kenneth Sterling and, most interestingly of all, H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft impressed Binder greatly, as he relates in this letter to Darrow dated January 12, 1936. That would have been some gathering to attend!

(8) HAMPUS, IS THAT YOU? Not a toll-free call! CNN has the story: “The Swedish Number: Random Swedes are waiting to hear from you”.

Are you there, Sweden? It’s us, the world.

To mark the 250th anniversary of Sweden’s abolition of censorship, the Swedish Tourist Association has launched a phone number connecting global callers with random Swedes.

Think Chatroulette meets the United Nations.

Sweden’s new ambassadors don’t receive any training and their time is voluntary. They simply download the Swedish Number app, register their number, and signal their availability by switching themselves on or off.

As for the cost of ringing up, it’s charged as an international call so check with your provider before chatting with your new Swedish buddies late into the night.

There have been nearly 14,000 calls since the service launched on April 6, with nearly a third coming from the U.S. and a fifth from Turkey.

(9) GAME MAKER YIELDS. Crave reports “Baldur’s Gate Developer States They Will Change Trans Character and Remove GamerGate Joke”.

After an inexplicable amount of press was placed upon their team by angry gamers, Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear‘s developer Beamdog has stated that they will be altering the dialogue of transgender character Mizhena in a future update, along with removing a reference to GamerGate.

In the game, which is an expansion to the original Baldur’s Gate, there is a line of dialogue in which minor NPC Mizhena explains the origins of her name, revealing to the player that although being born a boy, she and her parents “came to understand [she] was truly a woman” later in life. This entire exchange, which is limited to four sentences, led to the game being bombarded with negative user reviews online, despite critical reviews of the game being positive. Another point of contention for its detractors was a line at the expense of GamerGate, in which popular character Minsc says “really, it’s all about ethics in heroic adventuring.”

(10) CARPENTER ON GALAKTIKA PAYMENT OFFER. Anna Grace Carpenter, who surfaced the story (“Galaktika Magazine: Theft on a Massive Scale”) expresses her views about Galaktika’s response in “Galaktika Magazine: By Way of Explanation”.

Let me pause for a moment and say that the offer of compensation is a step in the right direction. However, neither Mr. Burger or Mr. Németh have addressed the underlying issue.

This is a chronic and widespread issue of theft. It is not just the stories published in 2015 (of which there are many), but work that was published as far back as 2008….

This pattern is more than a lack of diligence or caution or speed on the part of the publishing staff at Galaktika. It is not an occasional oversight or misunderstanding of previous contracts. This is habitual theft.

Remember that the vast majority of these authors never submitted their work for consideration, there was no implication of giving their permission for the translation and publication of their stories in Galaktika. Rather, their work was copied from other, paying publications online without any attempt to contact the original publisher, editor or author, and then printed for profit in Galaktika. That is not a mistake, that is theft.

Cat Rambo, current president of SFWA, said she is still trying to obtain a copy of István Burger’s statement in English and there are still questions to be answered. (How soon can authors expect to receive payment? Will authors be able to request their work be pulled from Galaktika? Will Galaktika contact all those involved to arrange compensation or will they put the responsibility on the individual to contact them and make a claim?)

And the question remains, what will Mr. Burger and Mr. Németh do going forward?

(11) DRAGON AWARDS DISCUSSION CONTINUES.

Deby Fredericks on “The Dragon Awards” at Wyrmflight.

One of the distinctions I believe Dragon Con is trying to make, is that the existing prestigious awards are decided by a limited number of people — a jury, members of a particular convention or group — while the Dragon Awards will be nominated and voted by all fans. This sounds fair and noble, but I’m remembering that time when DC let fans vote on whether Robin should be killed by the Joker. They were aghast that fans wanted Robin dead. Was the outcome fair? Perhaps. But was it noble?

Already, some in the community responsible for the Hugo Awards Kerfluffle have been heard to gloat that now they will win because no bunch of snobs can vote them down. As you probably can tell, I’m a little tired of hearing privileged majorities play the dismartyrdom card. We’ll all find out in time.

I don’t necessarily agree that SF/media/everything needs another set of awards. However, I do believe Dragon Con is a large enough and inclusive enough organization to credibly present such an award. It will be interesting to see the outcome, and where it aligns or doesn’t align with the other awards.

Brian K. Lowe posted about “The Dragon Awards” at Graffiti on the Walls of Time.

“Another trophy,” you say, possibly enthusiastically, perhaps dismissively, maybe with a touch of boredom. Or maybe you say it with an appraising tone, as do we authors who think, “Hey, there’s another award I can aspire to (and probably never win)…” Regardless of your personal reaction, the awards are here and presumably they’re going to stick around a while. (America’s thirst for awards ceremonies is almost as impossible to slake as its thirst for reality shows, or sleazy political drama. If it ain’t a competition, we’re not interested.)

All of these reactions are quite understandable. What I don’t understand is those who believe that this development somehow spells trouble for the Hugo Awards given out every year by the aforementioned Worldcon.

Cirsova takes the whole thing rather less than completely seriously in “Genrefication and Dragon Awards”.

This isn’t a victory, unless your aim is creating genre ghettos.

In response, I propose an alternative.  If I ever get the reach to make such an endeavor feasible, I will give you the Brackett Awards:

  • Categories will include, but are not limited to, in Long and Short Form:
  • Best Space Princess/Classiest Dame
  • Most Dashing Swordsman/Gunman
  • Creepiest Monster/Alien
  • Most Exotic/Erotic Xeno-hominid
  • Best Explosion
  • Coolest Spaceship
  • Best Empire (domineering, crumbling or otherwise)

Will these categories end up punishing certain books under the SFF umbrella?  Probably, but not the most awesome ones.

Ian Mond says live and let live at Hysterical Hamster.

And a day or so ago Dragon Con launched its own genre awards.  To reflect the size of the con there’s about fifty billion categories ranging from best Apocalyptic fiction (my personal favourite) to Best episode in a continuing science fiction or fantasy series, TV or internet (take a deep breath).  I don’t begrudge any organisation, individual or entity organising and administering their own awards.  More power to them.  Personally though, I think I’ll give this one a miss.

Martin C. Wilsey’s sentiments about “The Dragon Awards” are shorter but not as sweet.

Well it was bound to happen. The Hugo Awards process corruption scandal has finally led to the inevitable conclusion. A new award that has fairness baked in. The Dragon Awards.

–Let’s hope that this award is all about quality of the fiction.

(12) RECAP. I don’t watch Sleepy Hollow so it’s hard to explain how I got sucked into reading this spoiler-filled recap of the final episode. This paragraph will give you the gist of what SciFi4Me felt about it:

Bloody Hell. I don’t know what they are thinking. And I don’t know how a show based on such a flimsy premise could jump the shark, but they did.

(13) DEAN KAMEN. The inventor of the Segway is the son of E.C. Comics’ Jack Kamen. Read about “Inventor Dean Kamen’s Big Ideas” in the Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Kamen, 65, is known for coming up with the Segway (the two-wheeled electric vehicle), the iBot (a stair-climbing wheelchair) and a portable dialysis machine. He considers the First Robotics Competition, now in its 25th season, one of his best ideas yet…

In the competition, teams of students have six weeks to build a robot from scratch. The robots must then complete various tasks, working in teams. In this year’s challenge, they have to get through their opponents’ fortifications and take over territory in a space set up to look like a medieval battlefield with castles and towers. More than 400,000 students are competing this year, up from about 100 in 1992. “More and more, kids are starting to see that technology is cool. It’s not for nerds,” he says.

Mr. Kamen grew up a self-described nerd in New York’s Long Island, the son of a comic-book illustrator and a teacher. His engineering career started early; in high school, he earned more than $50,000 a year for designing and installing light and sound systems for musicians and museums.

Mr. Kamen, who is unmarried and doesn’t have children, spends most of his time working. “I get up in the morning, and I start working, then I keep working until I can’t work anymore, then I fall asleep,” he says. His idea of a vacation is going from one project to another when he’s stuck.

(14) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 9, 1833: First tax-supported U.S. public library founded, Peterborough, New Hampshire
  • April 9, 1959: NASA introduced first seven astronauts to press.

(15) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born April 9, 1926 – Hugh Hefner.

(16) KEEPING THE HARD IN HADRON. Ladies and gentlemen, the LEGO Particle Accelerator! JK Brickworks says —

This is a working particle accelerator built using LEGO bricks. I call it the LBC (Large Brick Collider). It can accelerate a LEGO soccer ball to just over 12.5 kilometers per hour.

 

(17) A CASE OF PHYSLEXIA. As most of you already guessed, I picked the previous item’s headnote because it references a typo that made news this week.

The BBC get overexcited by the world’s largest atom smasher.

 

(18) ATARI FLASHBACK. RPF Pulse brings us “The Art of ATARI Book Preview Images”.

Co-written by Robert V. Conte and Tim Lapetino, The Art of Atari includes a comprehensive retrospective collecting game production and concept artwork, photos, marketing art, with insight from key people involved in Atari’s rich history, and behind-the-scenes details on how dozens of games featured within were conceived, illustrated, approved (or rejected), and brought to life!

Includes a special Foreword by New York Times bestseller Ernst Cline, author of Armada and Ready Player One, soon to be a motion picture directed by Steven Spielberg.

Atari is a touchstone for many people. Their games and game system exposed many to video games for the first time. Whether you’re a fan, collector, enthusiast, or new to the world of Atari, this book offers the most complete collection of Atari artwork ever produced!

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

Marvel at the Streets of Wonder

marvelmania_sticker_sheet_steranko_kirby_fantastic_four_2 COMP

By James H. Burns: It was in the early 1990s when rereading some Marvel comics of the very late ’60s, and early ’70s — and more to the point, reading some tales from that period that were entirely new to me — that I came to the happy conclusion that the success of the comics line was no accident, or a gossamer from childhood that didn’t quite hold up in a later light. Stan Lee, with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko and Don Heck–and many, many others! —

All for publisher Martin Goodman, the gentleman most overlooked in pop culture histories (and who had been active since the days of the pulp magazines, in the 1930s)

— Had indeed created an engaging and complex universe, with as much potential for enchantment and intelligence, as action and adventure.

negzone5

Too often forgotten is that it was with Lee’s achievements as an editor overseeing the Marvel line, coordinating and inspiring the contributions of many other writers and artists (while still scripting many  titles on his own) that all these terrific elements coalesced. (Writer/editor Roy Thomas, beginning in the second half of the 1960s, also made significant contributions, which became even stronger, when he became Marvel’s editor-in-chief in 1972, with Lee as the publisher.) This saga was all the more remarkable because you could see the new installments of Stan Lee’s oeuvre every month, gleaming  at your local newsstand, beaming with often incredible cover art —

By just making a few blocks walk, or bike ride (or a short car-drive with a parent)!

panel_avg034b

Also phenomenal was that you could purchase these issues for just twelve, and then fifteen cents…

(Imagine the widest spectacle of adventure, with almost always wonderful illustrations, available today, for what would be the equivalent of  a little less than a buck!)

Many of the stories, at least in their cumulative impact, remain among the best the medium has offered.

60s-marvel-blockbusters

And while the Marvel movies have certainly offered at least a hint, too many fans of imaginative fiction remain unaware of just how wonderful that Marvel universe could be–

Priceless, at any time!

KirbyAsgardhttpdigitalspyuk.cdnds.net1432980x490landscape_comics-steve-ditko-doctor-strange-1.jpg

st156_1Marvel was a success all over the country, but there was a special kind of thrill if you grew up in New York, or the Tri-State area (New Jersey, Connecticut, and even parts of Pennsylvania)

The characters not only lived relatively near you, but so did their creators! The majority of Marvel’s heroes and villains resided in Manhattan, or its nearby environs, and the editorial offices were in the heart of the great metropolis.

marvel_spread_lrg

I first discovered the world of Marvel in the same way as millions of other kids, via The Marvel Super Heroes, a daily syndicated half-hour cartoon series, that debuted across the United States in September 1966.

The series featured often primitive animation — even using what seemed like cut-outs from the comics, or colored xeroxes of the same, moving across the screen. But the adaptations of the Marvel scripts were usually almost exact, and it’s astonishing, even today, to see the era’s artwork come to a certain kind of life, with some particularly good voice acting, and background — if stock — music.

The line-up included Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Bill Everett’s Sub-Mariner.  (Each character received thirteen half-hour episodes, with very memorable theme songs!) Spider-Man was originally supposed to be part of the lineup, but when a Spidey series was sold to ABC for the next television season, Subby (Prince Namor, of Atlantis) indeed became a substitution. (The network Spider-Man series featured far improved animation, and a jazz score that remains notable.)

(The program was also unusual because, reportedly, its individual series were provided by several animation studios (which would certainly help explain the shows’ widely divergent styles)! Stan Lee supplied the scripts for which — even more remarkably, if recent accounts are accurate! — he also brought in contributions from none other than Jerry Siegel, the co-creator (with Joe Shuster) of Superman.)

The Marvel Super Heroes’ importance to Marvel as a company, and to the explosion of super hero pop culture across the nation in the mid-1960s is usually ignored, which is odd:  Because for the next several years, the program would be the majority of Americans very first exposure, and introduction to Marvel’s unique cosmography.

You were able to experience much of the first couple of years of the Marvel universe, before you could even read!

As a four-year old, it was amazing to be sitting in front of the family TV, and see New York City street scenes, and sequences taking place in the suburbs — often with a kind of neat, chiaroscuro effect (as I watched on a black-and-white television!) — taking place within less than forty minutes from where I lay my head.

I also loved the DC/National comics characters (Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, the Atom, Hawkman, the Justice League of America…).  As I began to read and become devoted to comics over the next few years, those affections grew even stronger. But there was a bonus to knowing that many of the Marvel folks lived virtually next door!

This delightful fancy came full on to me one weekend afternoon in the early 1970s, during one of the very last times – the last time? — my immediate family was in a car together, going somewhere.  Anne and Phil Lehrman had been like an aunt and uncle to me, and their daughter, Bettie Jo, was marrying David Chin, in Queens (the New York City borough right between Manhattan’s East River, and Long Island).

(For years, Annie and Phil would bring me an ice cream sundae — a parfait, actually, from Carvel — whenever they would visit!)

As we drove through the pleasant residential area that some might  be surprised to discover exists in New York City’s outer reaches, I suddenly thought:

This is where Peter Parker lives (or, somewhere close by….)!”

I didn’t expect the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (Parker’s alter-ego) to suddenly be swinging overhead, or even to see his Aunt May out for a stroll.  But it was fun to indulge in such whimsy, on what promised to be an even happier afternoon ahead.

Forest-Hills-Peter-Parker

1367610602_1(Similarly, as a very little kid, the skyline of Manhattan always gave me  a thrill, and not just for the obvious reasons.  For years, every early Sunday afternoon, New York’s local WNEW-TV would broadcast a comedy from the Bowery Boys series (starring Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, and Gorcey’s father, Bernard, as Louie Dumbrowski, the “Sweet Shop” owner).  Many of the movies opened with a logo featuring New York’s skyscrapers. The iconography of the mind, particularly of those that are very young, can take many forms!)

back01

It was even more astonishing to learn, later, that at the time of Marvel’s early ascendancy, I lived directly between the homes of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, in Nassau County — Lee in Hewlett Harbor, and Kirby in East Willison (near Mineola); both about fifteen-to-twenty minutes distance….  I still haven’t been able to quite process the fact–discovered only about fifteen years ago — that in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the legendary fantasy and comics artist Wally Wood had opened a small studio only five minutes from my family’s place in Valley Stream. As a child, I had walked by that nondescript small building, with absolutely no idea of the delights being devised within!

Nick_Fury_of_SHIELD(1000)_001_20

Forgive me, because I didn’t mean to go all self-referential.  But New York City, I’m told by some, has become inexorably linked to my writing. (Barbara Peterson, in fact, surprised me by initially  entitling a series of occasional columns that I wrote for her wonderful Thunderchild website, “Burns in the City”.)

When I’m walking in Manhattan, particularly at night…  It’s  always more than enough to be on the Seventh Avenue and Broadway blocks that live so much in my heart —

But many of those Marvel comics panels still echo somewhere in my mind.

(Surely, many of your own favorite writers and artists — comics and otherwise — know these streets as well, or better than I do. And it’s extraordinary to realize that artist/writer Steve Ditko, now eighty-eight years old, the co-creator of Spider-Man, and the creator of Doctor Strange and many other characters, still works every day in his studio/office, somewhere in the Times Square area.)

It’s not that I expect to have Captain America suddenly tap me on the shoulder–

And I wonder sometimes if I’d even deserve such an hero’s greeting —

But it’s warm to remember how many of the adventures that so inspired me, transpired here, along the way.

And that for those who are only discovering these stories today, it’s all in the future, as so many tales await.

httpslongboxgraveyard.files.wordpress.com201305captain-america-122.pngw=604&h=451254f70b4474d5464ae3e61dd9a6aaf60

ADDENDUM:

For decades, the rarest piece of Marvel film footage was the opening and closing credits of The Marvel Super Heroes.  The title sequences disappeared somewhere during the program’s later rebroadcasts and syndication.  When the cartoons debuted on home video in the 1980s, clips from the scenes could be seen in a new montage that began each volume, but the intro and finale were still gone.

…Until a few years ago, when some intrepid comics fans (“True Believers,” or “Fearless Face Fronters,” as Stan Lee might have called them!) began somehow finding the films, and putting them online.

These vignettes are of importance because they were some of the first science fiction or fantasy super hero milieu experienced by the general public.

And as to the end titles, how often, to this day, do you get to see a group of dancing titans?

The Marvel Super Heroes also featured theme songs for each character:

Captain America

Hulk

Iron Man

Thor

Subby

As a service to our faithful readers, here are the lyrics: CAPTAIN AMERICA

When Captain America throws his mighty shield,
All those who chose to oppose his shield must yield.
If he’s led to a fight and a duel is due,
Then the red and white and the blue’ll come through,
When Captain America throws his mighty shield.

HULK

Doc Bruce Banner,
Belted by gamma rays,
Turns into the Hulk.
Ain’t he unglamorous!
Wrecking the town,
With the power of a bull,
Ain’t no monster clown,
Who is as lovable,
As ever-lovin’ Hulk! HULK!! HULK!!!

IRON MAN

Tony Stark makes you feel,
He’s a cool exec with a heart of steel.
As Iron Man, all jets ablaze,
He’s fighting and smiting with repulsor rays!
Amazing armor!
That’s Iron Man!
A blazing power!
That’s Iron Man!

THOR

Cross the Rainbow Bridge of Asgard,
Where the booming heavens roar,
You’ll behold in breathless wonder,
The God of Thunder, Mighty Thor!

SUB-MARINER

Stronger than a whale,
He can swim anywhere; He can breathe under water,
And go flying through the air:
The noble Sub Mariner, Prince of the deep.
So, beware you deadly demons,
Lord Namor of Atlantis,
Is the Prince of the Deep.

There remains one more “lost” element from the series. The cartoons were actually relatively short, about eighteen minutes in their entirety, which led  some stations to initially have the program presented by a host (working from scripts, reportedly, provided by Lee and Siegel, as well using their own material and ad-libs).

To “fill out” the half hours, the show included “interstitials,” very short segments (under a minute), explaining a character’s origin, or special concerns. These sequences also disappeared over the years, and only a few have resurfaced.

You have a repeat of The Marvel Super Heroes opening here (in color), but at 47 seconds, a “bumper” all about Captain America’s shield:

Some are available for now only in French, such as this one about Thor:

Or this “bio,” about Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner

And finally, this background on the character who was one pf the Marvel Universe’s very first pillars,, Captain America:

It would be lovely if a historian at Marvel, or its current corporate parent, Disney, could trace the rest of these short films down.  It’s not so much, obviously, that they are celluloid jewels, but they  still  reflect in a  very unique way on these oh-so-many beloved fictional lives, and the history of the company they once kept.

Pixel Scroll 2/23/16 The Lurker at the 5% Threshold

(1) THE PUPPET’S INSIDE STORY. Mary Robinette Kowal livestreamed “Ask a puppet about publishing” today. The answer to the old standby “Where do you get your ideas?” got perhaps the truest answer that has ever been given to this question.

(2) GREG KETTER MAKES NEWS. The legendary Minneapolis bookstore is featured in Twin Cities Geek — “From the Stands: DreamHaven Books Is Still Standing”.

Dreamhaven

A later memory I have of the store is hearing Neil Gaiman read his book The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish there upon the book’s rerelease in 2004. I remember maybe 35 or 40 people in the store, which can’t be correct—there must have been more than that to see Neil Gaiman—though I’m certain it was a number far smaller than you’d expect to see today, in the age of expanded cons, fandom, and the Internet social-media grapevine. Except for running into Gaiman a few weeks later at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival (and a few other places, actually—that was a weird summer), I wouldn’t see him again in the flesh until an MPR Wits show last year, crammed into the Fitzgerald Theater with over 1,000 other fans. That show was a little closer to what one would expect of a Gaiman sighting, where Neil is a smudge, his pale face and customary black clothes treating us to an impromptu and sparsely populated Mummenschanz show against the stage’s dark backdrop, not at all the mild, T-shirted man with the roiling mind, reading to us about the best deal you could get in a trade for your dad.

… Last April, DreamHaven returned to normal store hours with the help of Alice Bentley, a former business partner of Ketter’s. The two co-founded the Chicago bookstore The Stars Our Destination in 1998, which Bentley ran by herself from 1994 until 2004, when she closed the store, moved to Seattle, and got out of the book business. Says Ketter of Bentley, “She had been out of books for a while, and she really wanted to get back in. So, she moved to [Minneapolis] from Seattle and she’s partnering with me . . . She’s very knowledgeable; in the last 11 or 12 years since she left, things have changed a great deal [but] she’s been very happily relearning the book business.” The two now run the business as partners, with Ketter as the “go-to guy for questions” and Bentley employing her “love of spreadsheets” to keep the business on track.

(3) SPURNING PASSION. Andrew Porter recalls, “I wanted to reprint a Tolkien poem first published in the 1940s, and Tolkien refused me permission — and then he refused a whole bunch of other people including Ballantine Books, and it’s still not been ‘officially’ published. But some people got tired of waiting for “official” publication, and here it is, on the web: “The lay of Aotrou and Itroun” (1945).

A witch there was, who webs could weave
to snare the heart and wits to reave,
who span dark spells with spider-craft,
and as she span she softly laughed;
a drink she brewed of strength and dread
to bind the quick and stir the dead;
In a cave she housed where winging bats
their harbour sought, and owls and cats
from hunting came with mournful cries,
night-stalking near with needle-eyes.

(4) TELL ME IF YOU’VE SEEN THIS BEFORE. At MeTV, “7 reused props on television that will make you do a double-take”.

Neosaurus Disguise:

Lost in Space’s creator Irwin Allen liked to recycle props, but one of his most notable ones was reused by another iconic ’60s TV show. The neosaurus disguise first appeared in Lost in Space:

(5) NEW SAWYER NOVEL. Robert J. Sawyer’s 23rd novel Quantum Night will be released March 1 in hardcover, ebook (all formats), and as an audiobook from Audible.

Robert-J-Sawyer-novel-Quantum-Night

What if the person next to you was a psychopath? And that person over there? And your boss? Your spouse? That’s the chilling possibility brought forth in bestselling author Robert J. Sawyer‘s new novel Quantum Night. Psychopaths aren’t just murdering monsters: anyone devoid of empathy and conscience fits the bill, and Sawyer’s new science-fiction thriller suggests that there are as many as two billion psychopaths worldwide.

A far-out notion? Not at all. As Oxford Professor Kevin Dutton, the bestselling author of The Wisdom of Psychopaths, says, “Sawyer has certainly done his homework about psychopaths and he understands well that, far from being just the occasional headline-grabbing serial killer, they’re everywhere.”

Sawyer says: “Reviewers often call me an optimistic writer — one of the few positive voices left in a science-fiction field that has grown increasingly dystopian. I like to view my optimism as a rational position rather than just naïveté, and so I felt it was necessary to devote a novel to confronting the question of evil head on: what causes it, why it flourishes, why there seems to be more and more of it — and what we can do about it. The theme is simple: the worst lie humanity has ever told itself is, ‘You can’t change human nature.’”

Click to read the opening chapters. Details of the Canadian and U.S. stops on Sawyer’s book tour can be found here.

(6) OSHIRO STORY CONTINUES. Here are links to new posts dealing with Mark Oshiro’s published harassment complaint.

The Kansas City Science Fiction and Fantasy Society, Inc. (KaCSFFS) is the sponsor of ConQuesT, the oldest convention in the central states region. The KaCSFFS Board of Directors oversees ConQuesT, but the day-to-day operations of the convention are done by the volunteer chairs and convention committee, who change from year to year.

In light of recent issues we feel that more oversight of the convention committee as a whole is necessary by the KaCSFFS Board of Directors. This is being addressed by the current Board of Directors as we speak.

KaCSFFS is profoundly sorry that these issues arose, and the policies in place were not followed through to completion. We are taking steps to ensure that future complaints are addressed appropriately and in compliance with current policies and procedures in place.

Posted by Jan Gephardt

The KaCSFFS Board of Directors is: Margene Bahm, President, Earline “Cricket” Beebe, Treasurer, Kristina Hiner, Secretary, Jan Gephardt, Communications Officer, Keri O’Brien, ConQuesT Chairperson for 2016, and Diana Bailey, Registered Agent.

From SFF and romance convention attendees alike. To the point that I’ve applied some probably unfair stereotyping of my own, in deciding that media and writers’ conventions in Those Four States (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri) are probably off limits to me. If I won a lottery tomorrow and travel costs were not an issue…I probably wouldn’t change my decision.

I get told, rightfully so: ‘That’s unfair. We have lovely, diverse people at X convention or Y festival! By not attending, you are letting the bad people win!”

True. I know some good people in those places. I’d love to visit them. There is a large romance convention in Texas and an even bigger SFF gathering in Kansas City that I *should* attend for career reasons. (Except that the romance con has a dismal record respecting M/M romance authors, and I’m not sure I’m at the professional level to go to the SFF con yet.)

By not attending, I’m not validating some indefensible behavior from con committees who keep getting away with this shit, and use fans and sane staffers as their human shields. I’m not paying into the tax coffers of hotels, cities, and corrupt hypocritical legislatures who still seem to be stuck in Pre-Civil Rights America. By myself, I’m a nobody, and I only have power over what I personally spend and buy.

I was unlucky enough to get tapped for a self-pub panel at CONQuest (Kansas City 2013) that consisted of me and two gatekeepers who bloviated the entire time, talking over anything I had to say. Lawrence M. Schoen was the moderator who opened his introductory email to me with a declaration that nobody should self publish unless they’d already been vetted by the publishing industry. He also used the term “politically correct” which prompted the following response from me:

“Please do not use the term ‘politically correct’ in my presence. My colleagues and mentors include survivors of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the Soviet GULag. Current American usage of this term trivializes these mass atrocities in the service of defending lazy-minded reflexive bigotry.”

In response, he doubled down on his insistence on right to say anything he liked.

On the panel, Silena Rosen was particularly notable for her crude, hostile manner as well as rant about how self-pub was shit, fanfic was public masturbation, yadda yadda yadda. Schoen wasn’t so much a moderator as a partner in the pile-on. I had quality assurance experience from multiple industry jobs, and a whole list of suggestions for editorial collectives and the like. They talked right over me as loudly as they could. None of that stuff even got said.

I felt the whole time as if I were fighting with both hands tied behind my back. I was there to give the audience new ideas and perspectives and to present myself with courtesy and professionalism; they were there to beat me up in public.

I don’t know anything about the Oshiro thing. Is that the one where the guy was the GoH at a con and didn’t get treated well? I’ve seen that in passing is all. I can only assume that if File 770 is upset over it, they’re either on the wrong side, or just plain stupid.

A bunch of comments from File 770 are reproduced in that same thread. Which is great, because it proves how many of Larry’s fans find this blog despite his refusing to allow pingbacks from my posts, and how they force the rest to read the material anyway.

(7) REASONS WHY DOING NOTHING IS WORSE. Jim C. Hines reviews the recent history of convention antiharassment policy enforcement in “The Importance of Having and ENFORCING Harassment Policies at Cons”

I get it. It’s one thing to write up policies on harassment and appropriate behavior for a convention. It’s another to find yourself in the midst of a mess where you have to enforce them.

Emotions are running high. The person accused of violating the policy isn’t a mustache-twirling villain, but someone who’s been attending your con for years. They’ve got a lot of friends at the con — possibly including you. If you enforce the consequences spelled out in your policies, someone’s going to be upset. Someone’s going to be angry. Someone’s going to feel hurt. It feels like a no-win situation.

And it is, in a way. There’s nothing you can do to make everyone happy. But we’ve seen again and again that there’s a clear losing strategy, and that is to do nothing. To try to ignore your harassment policy and hope the problem goes away on its own.

It won’t. As unpleasant as it is to be dealing with a report of harassment, doing nothing will make it worse. Here are just a few examples from recent years.

(8) THE F IN SF IS NOT FILLET. Seeing a comment on File 770 about all the fiction with “bone” in the title, Fred Coppersmith recommended:

(9) HENCEFORTH THEY WILL BE CALLED FUCHSIA HOLES. Gazing at black holes – “What does a black hole actually look like?” at Vox.

Impossibly dense, deep, and powerful, black holes reveal the limits of physics. Nothing can escape one, not even light.

But even though black holes excite the imagination like few other concepts in science, the truth is that no astronomer has actually seen one….

We do have indirect images of black holes, however

Some of the best indirect images of black holes come from the Chandra X-ray Observatory, where Edmonds works. “The friction and the high velocities of material forming out of a black hole naturally produces X-rays,” he says. And Chandra is a space telescope specially designed to see those X-rays.

For example, the Chandra observatory documented these X-ray “burps” emanating from the merger of two galaxies around 26 million light-years away. The astrophysicists suspect that these burps came from a massive black hole: …

Similarly, the fuchsia blobs on this image are regions of intense X-ray radiation, thought to be black holes that formed when two galaxies (the blue and pink rings) collided: …

Be sure to check out the fuzzy but fascinating video showing the proper motion of stars around an apparent black hole.

(10) YES THERE IS A DRAGON. Pete’s Dragon official teaser trailer.

(11) FARTHER BACK TO THE FUTURE. TechnoBuffalo declares “This fan-made Back to the Future prequel trailer is amazing”.

There’s never going to be a Back to the Future sequel or reboot—at least as long as director Robert Zemeckis is alive. With that in mind, what if there was a prequel? Didn’t think of that, did you? I sure didn’t, but after seeing the trailer above, I’d totally be on board.

If you’ve never seen BTTF (what’s wrong with you?), it begins with Doc Brown revealing to Marty that the only way to produce the 1.21 Gigawatts necessary to time travel is to use plutonium. The prequel would be a story about how Doc Brown gets hands on the plutonium, which he only mentions in passing in the original film.

The prequel trailer was brilliantly edited together by Tyler Hopkins, who used footage from various movies featuring Christopher Lloyd (the actor who played Dr. Emmett Brown).

 

(12) HE’S A MARVEL. “Stan Lee Makes a Cameo During Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns 30th Anniversary Panel”. (Check out the photo at the post — Stan looks younger than Frank!)

In Los Angeles to celebrate the 30th Anniversary Edition of the book’s release, Miller sat down with IGN to talk about The Dark Knight Returns’ enduring legacy, what makes Batman relevant, and why he keeps coming back to the character. He then took the stage for a Q&A moderated by DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio, where he discussed his initial apprehension at reinventing such an established character, the impact he’s had on future creators, and who would win in a fight between Batman and Captain America.

The evening took an unexpected turn right out the gate as Miller’s panel was interrupted by an audience heckler. That heckler turned out to be none other than Marvel Comics legend/cameo king Stan Lee, who was on hand to celebrate pal Miller’s accomplishments. Lee of course demanded to know who would win in a showdown between publisher mainstays Batman and Captain America, to which Miller slyly responded “Robin.”

(13) THE ICON’S IMAGE. Abraham Riesman profiles the icon in “It’s Stan Lee’s Universe” at Vulture.

A comic-book Methuselah, Lee is also, to a great degree, the single most significant author of the pop-culture universe in which we all now live. This is a guy who, in a manic burst of imagination a half-century ago, helped bring into being The Amazing Spider-Man, The Avengers, The X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, and the dozens of other Marvel titles he so famously and consequentially penned at Marvel Comics in his axial epoch of 1961 to 1972. That world-shaking run revolutionized entertainment and the then-dying superhero-comics industry by introducing flawed, multidimensional, and relatably human heroes — many of whom have enjoyed cultural staying power beyond anything in contemporary fiction, to rival the most enduring icons of the movies (an industry they’ve since proceeded to almost entirely remake in their own image). And in revitalizing the comics business, Lee also reinvented its language: His rhythmic, vernacular approach to dialogue transformed superhero storytelling from a litany of bland declarations to a sensational symphony of jittery word-jazz — a language that spoke directly and fluidly to comics readers, enfolding them in a common ecstatic idiom that became the bedrock of what we think of now as “fan culture.” Perhaps most important for today’s Hollywood, he crafted the concept of an intricate, interlinked “shared universe,” in which characters from individually important franchises interact with and affect one another to form an immersive fictional tapestry — a blueprint from which Marvel built its cinematic empire, driving nearly every other studio to feverishly do the same. And which enabled comics to ascend from something like cultural bankruptcy to the coarse-sacred status they enjoy now, as American kitsch myth.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Moshe Feder, Paul Weimer, Andrew Porter, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 2/5/16 The Rough Guide To Neveryon-Neveryon Land

(1) KILL YOUR DARLINGS. Jason Cordova of Mad Genius Club thinks after a month of writing, you need “NaDecEdMo!”

Why is that, though? Why do we get to have a NaNoWriMo and not a NaDecEdMo? Because NOBODY wants to be that butthead who is celebrating an author who is gutting their baby.

That’s what editing is, in a nutshell. It’s taking out that precious baby of yours and changing it, ruthlessly making it better. It’s a rough, rough time for an author when this is going on. The author is feeling insecure about their novel as is, and now they have to look at it with a critical eye. That cute scene that you really liked but now doesn’t really fit into the story as much? Gutted like a day old fish on Market Street.

(2) SALE. Francis Hamit of Brass Cannon Books is running an experiment – and you can save.

A consultant has told us selling e-books for 99 cents each will inspire those customers who like them to then buy the print edition to have forever. . What the heck! We’ll try it. All fiction e-books and mini-memoir are now going for 99 cents each in e-book form for a limited time only. Starting February 5th, 2016.

(3) PLYING THE KEYBOARD. Nancy Kress asked her Facebook followers

Since I am always behind the curve on everything, I have just become aware that nowadays people put one space after a period in manuscripts instead of two spaces. Is this widespread? Do I need to learn to do this? I’ve been doing it the other way for 40 years; old habits die hard.

(4) BY THE NUMBERS. Natalie Luhrs of Pretty Terrible looks for statistical evidence of bias in “A Brief Analysis of the Locus Recommended Reading List, 2011-2015”.

I want to preface this by saying that I believe that the Locus staff works very hard on this list and intends for it to be as comprehensive as they can make it. I know how hard it can be to stay on top of the flood of fiction and other affiliated works that are produced each year.

But I also believe that Locus has a responsibility to think about their biases so that lists of these type don’t inadvertently perpetuate structural inequalities–as our field’s magazine of record, this Reading List is published around the same time that Hugo nominations open and while qualified members of SFWA are filling out their Nebula nomination ballots.

One of her many graphs shows —

…The majority of the authors or editors of the works included on the Locus list are male–over 50% each year. Female authors or editors come in second in the 35-40% range. Mixed gender collaborations are next, followed by non-binary authors and editors….

(5) A NEWS STORY ABOUT NO NEWS. Bleeding Cool gives a status on some aging litigation in “Disney Pursuing Stan Lee Media For Half a Million, Finds Bank Accounts Emptied”.

With Hillary Clinton running for President, her association with convicted drug dealer and fraudster Peter F Paul and Stan Lee Media may well hit the headlines again.

Paul run the (then) largest political fundraiser ever for her Senatorial campaign and tried to get Bill Clinton onto the board of his company Stan Lee Media. The company was set up to exploit Stan Lee‘s name after he left Marvel Comics, to benefit from his new creations for comics, TV and films.

It all went sour rather. And Stan Lee Media – a company no longer associated with Stan Lee – has spent the last ten years trying to claim rights to all Stan Lee’s creations from Marvel – and now Disney. Despite six courts saying they have no claim.

Stan Lee Media have claimed that Lee transferred all his creative rights to the company in exchange for a large sum of money, and that includes Spider-Man, The Avengers, the Hulk. X-Men, Thor and the like. Unfortunately the courts really don’t see it that way. And Disney was awarded almost half a million in costs.

ScreenRant continues, adding its two bits:

The ongoing issue has come up again largely because of old political connections involving Stan Lee Media co-founder Peter F. Paul, a businessman and former convicted drug-dealer notorious for a series of allegedly illegal international political dealings. Paul fled the country during the initial SLMI investigation for Sao Paulo, which became a mini-scandal in United States politics when it was uncovered that Paul had been a major financial backer of Hillary Clinton’s U.S. Senate Campaign and had even lobbied for former president Bill Clinton to join Stan Lee Media’s board of directors. Paul at one point produced videos supposedly showing Stan Lee himself participating in campaign-finance calls with the Clintons as proof of his (Lee’s) complicity in the company’s bad dealings (Lee counter-sued over the matter). However, it didn’t stop Paul from being convicted to a ten year prison term in 2009 for fraud.

(6) MESKYS’ GUIDE DOG PASSES AWAY. It’s as if the beginning of the New Year also signaled the opening of the floodgates of misery, with one sad loss after another.

Ed Meskys, a blind sf fan, reports, “This morning I lost Gyro (public name ‘Killer Dog’) my guide dog with 9 years of service, just weeks past his age of 11…. He had been welcome at many conventions, SF and [National Federation of the Blind]. He will be my last dog guide as I am weeks short of 80, cannot bend to pick up after a dog, and have trouble with stairs….”

(7) NIRASAWA OBIT. Kaiju designer Yasushi Nirasawa , (1963–2016) died February 2. The Japanese illustrator, character designer, and model maker was known for his work Kamen Rider Blade, Kamen Rider Kabuto, and Kamen Rider Den-O and the creatures in the GARO series.

(8) MITCHELL OBIT. Edgar Mitchell, who 45 years ago became the sixth man to walk on the moon, died February 4, on the eve of his lunar landing anniversary. He was 85.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 5, 1953 – Walt Disney’s Peter Pan premiered.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born February 5, 1914 – William S. Burroughs.

(11) SCIENCE SHOWS CANADIANS ARE NICER. Oliver Keyes says “When life gives you lemons, make science”.

Ever since my writeup on leaving R my blog has been getting a lot more traffic than usual and many more comments. Usually this would be fine except the topic means that a lot of those comments are blathering about whiny SJW babies or actual death threats. 28 at the last count.

But, sure, it’s the social justice people who are oversensitive and fly off the handle…

This isn’t a formal study so my definition of arsehole can be basically whatever I want it to be. I settled for any comment which exhibited one of the following traits:

  1. Accused me of lying about everything that had happened to get some benefit that apparently comes alongside threats, harassment and weird emails. Nobody has explained to me what this benefit is but I eagerly await my cheque in the mail from the nefarious SJW cabal apparently causing me to make shit up;
  2. Contained threats, goading-towards-suicides, or generally obscene and targeted harassment;
  3. Used terms like “SJW” or “pissbaby” or “whinging” or really anything else that indicated the author had, at best, a tenuous grasp on how the world works;
  4. Was premised on the idea that I was “oversensitive” or “overreacting” which is pretty rich coming from people whose idea of acceptability includes insulting people they’ve never met on somebody else’s website.

So I took this definition and hand-coded the comments and grabbed the data. We ended up with 107 users, of whom a mere 40 weren’t arseholes, producing 183 comments in total. Then I worked out their referring site and geolocated their IP address, et voila.

(12) RABID PUPPIES. Vox Day posted his picks in the Best Fanzine category.

This appears to be one of those increasingly misnamed and outdated categories, but based on the previous nominees, it has apparently become the functional equivalent of “best SF-related site”. Using that as a guideline while keeping the eligibility rules in mind, here are the preliminary recommendations for Best Fanzine:

Black Gate succumbed to the genetic fallacy in turning down last year’s nomination; regardless of whether John O’Neill will do the same or not again this year, it remained the best SF-related site in 2015.

People I respect have suggested I publicly demand that Vox Day remove File770 from the Rabid Puppies slate. Then having done so, if Day fails to comply and I ultimately receive a Hugo nomination, they feel I can accept it with a clear conscience.

If I understand Steve Davidson correctly, he wants everyone to make a public statement repudiating slates. I don’t think people are unclear on how I feel about slates, thus it really becomes a question whether — by modeling that behavior — I want to encourage Steve to go around hammering people who don’t post the equivalent of an oath. I don’t.

Consider this point. I have been planning to nominate Black Gate because I’ve been reading it since last year’s Hugo contretemps brought it to my attention, and think they do a terrific job. What if they don’t make a public declaration? Should I leave them off my ballot? And thereby fail to do what I tell every other Hugo voter to do, nominate the stuff they think is the best?

I’m not voting for Black Gate because of a slate, and I don’t intend to be prevented from voting for it by a factor that has nothing to do with what I think about the quality of its work. That’s also why I’m choosing not to follow the advice I received about handling File 770’s apperance on the slate, though the advice is well intended.

(13) NUCLEAR TOY. In 1951, A.C. Gilbert, inventor of the Erector Set, released the U-238 Atomic Energy Laboratory.  Using real radioactive materials, one could witness mist trails created by particles of ionizing radiation.

The set included four Uranium bearing ore samples, and originally sold for $49.50.  That would be $400 in today’s dollars.

Gilbert atomic science set COMP

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, and James H. Burns for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 1/17/16 Kaiser Scroll, Hold The Pixel

(1) HONEST POSTERS. “If 2016’s Oscar-nominated movie posters told the truth” they’d be very funny. Courtesy of Shiznit.

MARTIAN COMP

(2) A TOP TEN WITH FANGS. Here’s Fantasy Faction’s ingenious list – “Top Ten Wolves In Fantasy”. How come I never do Top 10 Lists for File 770? People love them. Ah well, there isn’t enough time to do everything that’s a good idea.

  1. Maugrim (The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, by C.S.Lewis)

Maugrim was the head of The Witch’s Police in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and relished the dirty work that had to be done. Seen by many as an agent of the Devil, he is the ugly face of evil in Narnia and makes no bones about it. He is instrumental in the coming of age of Peter who eventually slays him, earning the name Sir Peter Wolfsbane.

(3) BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Gustaff Behr tries to work out “How Much Does It Cost Being A Doctor Who Fan?”

Fred starts where all new fans start. He wants to go back and take a look at how Doctor Who came back in 2005 which means, including Series 9 which he will definitely get; Fred needs 9 seasons of complete box sets which costs on average $65.00. That’s $585.00 in total for Chris, David, Matt, John and Peter.

Being a Who fan costs at least $585.00 if you buy all nine New Who seasons of Doctor Who.

And after watching nine seasons of Doctor Who, barely sleeping, bathing or eating, Fred craves more. He needs to see how Doctor Who started all the way back in 1963. He also has to see the celery Doctor, the scarf Doctor, the pullover one and all the other past Doctors he’s heard so much about. He knows there are 156 classic stories of Doctor Who which range between $13.99 and $16.99 so we’ll budget for $15.49 as a rough average. That’s $2416.44 for the whole of the Classic Era of Doctor Who.

Being a Who fan costs at least $3001.44 if you want to have the entire television collection of Doctor Who from William Hartnell all the way up to Peter Capaldi.

And then he moves on to the merchandise….

(4) FUNICELLO OBIT. [CORRECTION — Turns out the source has taken an old story and given it a 2016 timestamp. But it might still be news to somebody….] Annette Funicello (1942-20162013) died January 11, 2013 after a long battle with multiple sclerosis. She was 70. Funicello was a child star as a Mousketeer on the original Mickey Mouse Club, and as a teenager starred opposite Frankie Avalon in several beach movies. Her genre work included Babes In Toyland (1961), and quasi-genre movies like The Monkey’s Uncle, and Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine.

(5) GEORGE CLAYTON JOHNSON TRIBUTE. The Girl George & the Dragons Radio Show talked about George Clayton Johnson with his son, Paul Johnson, and others on January 17.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 17, 1605 Don Quixote was published.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY SITH

  • Born January 17, 1931 — James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader (and an actor renowned for many other roles.)

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born January 17, 1962 – Jim Carrey, of Hugo-winner The Truman Show, The Mask, and other quasi-fantasy films.

(9) MEET KYLO. Joseph Pimentel reports in the Orange County Register that Kylo Ren will replace Darth Vader in the “meet-and-greet” section of Disneyland’s Star Wars area in Tomorrowland where people stand in line to get autographs and photos with Disney characters.

Guests will be able to mingle with Kylo Ren, a central character from the smash hit “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” in Tomorrowland, Disney announced Friday. The company declined to say when the light-saber-wielding dark warrior and Jedi slayer will debut.

Ren will join Chewbacca, and Boba Fett as characters from the “Star Wars” franchise available for visitors to meet and take photos with at the Star Wars Launch Bay. There’ll also First Order Stormtroopers roaming around.

The upper floor of the building, the Tomorrowland Expo Center formerly known as Innoventions, houses the Super Hero HQ where guests meet Spider-Man and Thor.

Ren will replace Darth Vader, the original “Star Wars” villain, in the meet-and-greet. The Sith Lord Vader will continue to be in the show “Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple.”

Meet-and-greets with various Disney characters have become one of Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s signature attractions, drawing long lines of visitors wanting autograph, pictures and hugs.

(10) KYLO ON SNL. Saturday Night Live sent Kylo Ren (guest star Adam Driver) undercover as Matt, a radar technician, in Star Wars Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base.

(11) ABOUT SPECTRAL PRESS. Simon Bestwick has written a lengthy, heavily-documented post about issues with Spectral Press, publishers of his book Black Mountain.

Readers may wish to pour themselves a large, stiff drink before continuing. This is going to be a long post.

I’ve thought long and hard before blogging on this topic, but there is a great deal of confusion and misinformation out there, and I believe it’s important that the facts be made available. There is also an issue of transparency to customers regarding Spectral Press in its past or present incarnations….

7) The Short Version  Spectral Press has published books, which sold. A share of the money from their sales is, contractually, their authors’. Their authors have not received it, and yet Spectral do not have it. Spectral Press has taken money from customers from books that have gone undelivered and, in some cases, unpublished. Many of these customers want their money back, and yet Spectral do not have it. I would just like to close by reminding anyone who feels Spectral’s critics are being unreasonable, that this situation has persisted for over a year; that the amount owed is a very large sum for a small press to owe, and that the individual in whose hands this situation has been placed has responded to polite and factual criticism with insults and blocking critics on social media, and whose own history should be cause for concern.

(12) ENOUGH IS TOO MUCH. Anne Wheaton tells her blog readers why she bid Twitter goodbye.

In real life, I stand up for myself. If someone says or does something to me or someone around me, I do something about it. As my online presence grew, there were people who don’t follow me showing up to say something horrible about me, my husband, or my children. Yes, they can be muted, blocked, or reported, and I was doing that all the time, every day. Sometimes I responded because like I said, in real life I stand up for myself so occasionally, I will do that online. But after a while, it’s like trying to smile and have a pleasant conversation with a kind person in a room full of people screaming hateful things in your face. You can ignore it but eventually, it just isn’t worth even talking at all and you just have to walk out of that room to protect yourself.

I chose to be on Twitter. I am not a celebrity. I am a middle-aged woman who’s a retired hairdresser who now runs a non-profit, is on the Board of Directors at Pasadena Humane Society, has a house FULL of rescue animals, and has two wonderful boys. I do not have a job I need to promote, nor am I looking for a job to take on. I have a full life with an amazing husband and family, wonderful friends, and a successful business I run. If something I choose to do on the side isn’t fun, I need to walk away from it because my free time is pretty scarce. Twitter used to be the fun thing I did on the side, and for the most part, it just isn’t fun anymore, so I need to walk away from it and that’s okay.

(13) ANOTHER TWITTER MAELSTROM. Neil Gaiman’s tweet endorsing Clarion set off a wave of complaints. Brad R. Torgersen was as surprised as Gaiman himself by the controversy, but did a better job of understanding the reaction.

I guess Gaiman upset people with this?

…Second, Gaiman is simply expressing what all of us have expressed — from time to time — about our favorite learning experiences. I have evangelized for the Kris Rusch and Dean Smith workshops, the Dave Wolverton workshops, the Writers of the Future workshop, the Superstars Writing Seminar, the “Life, The Universe & Everything” symposium, and so on, and so forth. All of them have been very valuable to me, and remain valuable long after attendance and participation….

It would be great if a Clarion-type experience were free. But running a workshop with that kind of scope and scale, is not cheap. And the truth is, there are people who will argue that it shouldn’t be cheap. That the high cost weeds out the dilettantes. So that only serious students, who are dedicated, will apply for acceptance. Clarion isn’t designed for wannabes. Clarion is for budding professional artists, who want to flower in an environment that will feed and nurture their professional artistry. Or at least that’s the ideal. And I definitely think Gaiman had the ideal in mind, when he wrote what he wrote.

Still, there is no royal road to publication and acclaim. I don’t have the stats in front of me, but I suspect Clarion’s success rate is probably on par with just about every other workshop going. Which means two-thirds of Clarion’s graduates, won’t make it. They won’t sell. Or at least, they won’t sell well. They will find that life has other work for them, and they will move on.

(13) ONE THUMB DOWN. Fran Wilde’s tweets, 10 of which are Storified here, illustrate the negative response.

(14) ANOTHER THUMB DOWN. Alex Bledsoe, in “Thoughts on Clarion, Privilege and Gaiman”, is one of many other writers sounding off about how they launched professional writing careers without the help of a workshop.

Now, I don’t for a moment believe that Gaiman literally meant need, as in you can’t consider yourself a real writer unless you have Clarion on your CV. But at the same time, I understand the outrage of those who see his statement as an unthinking beacon of privilege. Who the hell is Neil Gaiman, who will never again have to worry about paying bills, or child care, or taking time off from work, or any of the day-to-day struggles that most of his readers experience, to tell us what we need? It’s in the same ballpark as Gwyneth Paltrow’s famous statements about her being a “typical” mother.

Like a lot of writers, I never went to Clarion, or any professional writing workshop. I learned to write via journalism, both from studying it and working at it. I like to say it’s one reason my books are so short, but in another very important way, it taught me to approach writing as a job. A reporter is no special snowflake: if he or she can’t do the work, there’s always someone waiting to eagerly step up. So you get on with it, and do the best you can with what you have. That lesson has been incredibly useful as a fiction writer, too.

(15) GAYLACTIC SPECTRUM AWARDS. The winners and recommended short list for the 2014/2015 Gaylactic Spectrum Awards in the Best Novel category were announced at Chessiecon in November 2015.

(16) DAVIDSON ON THE FINE POINTS. Steve Davidson discusses “How To Recommend Without Slating” at Amazing Stories.

As it has evolved, an acceptable Eligibility Post is limited to the following elements:

  • A statement that a work is, under the rules in play, eligible for a particular category of award.
  • Information on where and when the story was made available (so that others can verify its eligibility)
  • A suggestion that those voting for the award in question might be interested in checking it out
  • An Eligibility Post may also include an opportunity for others to add other works that are eligible

An Eligibility Post does not contain:

  • reasons why someone ought to vote for the work
  • begging for votes in any manner
  • discussion of external politics that are somehow related to voting for the work
  • discussion of the “messages” that will be sent by voting for the work
  • plays for sympathy, or authorial love, mentions of career status

The Eligibility Post was soon joined by the “Recommended Reading” list…..

(17) POSTCARD FROM THE EDGE. In 2004, soon after meeting Howard Waldrop, Lou Antonelli succeeded in selling his first story.

I wrote Howard and told him meeting him had brought me good luck. He later dropped me this postcard. I recently found it in a drawer while cleaning up a messy storage shed, and thought I’d share it. If you have trouble reading Howard’s handwriting, this is what it says:

“Dear Lou,
“Congratulations on the sale to Gardner. (You were already getting rejection letters – it was only a matter of time, whether you came to Austin or not!) You’ve sentenced yourself to a life of bitterness and frustration, like me..
“Way to go!
“Yer pal,
“Howard”

Howard is a great writer, a nice guy, and it also seems, a clairvoyant.

(18) BOWIE MOVIE SCREENINGS. The Vista Theatre in LA sold out its Labyrinth 30th Anniversary midnight screening (for obvious reasons) and has scheduled another.

In January we’re going to celebrate the 30th anniversary of one of our favorite fantasy films- LABYRINTH, featuring everyone’s favorite goblin king Jareth and his Bowie-bulge! Feel free to join us in costume and dance, magic dance! Response to this event was larger than we expected- we were trending towards a sell out by show night, but with the tragic passing of David Bowie yesterday we sold out in 6 hours of the news breaking. We want all our friends and Bowie fans in our nerd circle to be able to grieve in the manner they chose and if celebrating his life with Labyrinth on the big screen is what they want than we’re here to help. We’ve added this SATURDAY NIGHT midnight screening for those that were unable to catch tickets for Friday night. We will have a costume contest both nights, and hope everyone enjoys the hell out of this film and Bowie’s incredible performance on the big screen

(19) ONE BUSY HOMBRE. Today’s mandatory Guillermo del Toro news is that he will develop to potentially direct Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark for CBS Films. The film is based on the trilogy by Alvin Schwartz.

He is such a big fan of the books that he owns ten of the original illustrations by Gammell.
In addition to potentially directing, del Toro will also produce the film alongside Sean Daniel, Jason Brown and Elizabeth Grave. Alvin Schwartz’s trilogy of short story collections have sold more than 7 million copies worldwide. Even though, from the moment it was published in 1984, the Scary Stories series was one of the most banned from placement by the American Library Association, as the collections were considered to be too scary for children. The ensuing controversy only helped to fuel sales, and the trilogy has remained a cultural phenomenon ever since.

(20) RAINBOW BATMAN. DC Comics invites fans to “Brighten your batcave with Rainbow Batman figures”

Why should the criminals of Gotham get all the colorful costumes? Now you can have the Caped Crusader in pink, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.

 

rainbowbatmanclip 2Where did these come from? According to Yahoo! Movies

A year ago, DC Collectibles opened up their vault to reveal prototypes of statues, action figures, and busts that were never produced and allowed fans to vote on which item from the collection should be produced and sold. A colorful line of Batmen figures based on “The Rainbow Batman” cover of Detective Comics #241 (1957) won the poll.

(21) JACK KIRBY DRAMATIZED. Now on stage in Seattle (through January 23), “’King Kirby’ play profiles the artist behind the superheroes, overshadowed by Stan Lee”.

“King Kirby” opens with the canonization of its subject at a high-level sale, where an auctioneer recounts the artist’s pictorial achievements and begins the bidding on each Kirby illustration at thousands of dollars.

From somewhere in the beyond, Kirby (who died in the 1990s, and is portrayed with vigor and conviction by Rick Espaillat) looks on disgustedly at the pretentious upscaling of his work.

In a pungent Brooklyn accent and with a defensive edginess, Kirby takes us back to his humble beginnings growing up in a rough neighborhood, where he had to use his fists to fend off attackers.

No wonder he invented heroic protectors and epic rescuers. Fascinated by mythology and quick with a sketchbook, Kirby starts out doing grunt work in a cartoon sweatshop, forms a partnership with a business-savvy pal, and comes into his own working under a series of amusingly irate moguls. In collaboration with head honcho and collaborator Stan Lee, he’s a big reason why Lee’s Marvel Comics still thrill the masses with spinoffs of characters created in the 1940s and ’50s.

Lee is portrayed as a marketing maestro and idea man, who not only stiffed his top artist out of franchise deals and royalties but also presented himself as the sole inventor of superheroes co-created and fleshed out by Kirby.

(22) STAN THE MAN. CBS Sunday Morning program featured “The Marvelous Life of Stan Lee” on January 17.

The comic starts out, as Stan started out, as Stanley Martin Leiber, born to Jewish immigrants in 1922. He grew up poor in a tiny Bronx apartment during the Depression.

When Stan was old enough, he started looking for jobs to help pay the bills, and in 1939 he landed at a publishing house which just happened to have a small division called Timely Comics.

“I’d fill the ink wells — in those days they used ink!” he said. “I’d run down and get them sandwiches at the drug store, and I’d proofread the pages, and sometimes in proofreading I’d say, ‘You know, this sentence doesn’t sound right. It ought to be written like this.’ ‘Well, go ahead and change it!’ They didn’t care!”

Characters like Destroyer, Father Time and Jack Frost soon had Stan’s fingerprints all over them.

He got so caught up in the battles of good vs. evil that after Pearl Harbor, it seemed only natural he join the Army.

“Oh hell, how could you not volunteer for the Army?” he said. “Hitler was over there doing all those horrible things.”

But instead of fighting, Lee found himself drawing. His best work: a poster telling soldiers how NOT to get VD.

“I drew a little soldier, very proudly,” he recalled. “And he’s saying, ‘VD? Not me!’ as he walks in. They must have printed a hundred trillion of those! I think I won the war single-handedly with that poster!”

 [Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Tom Galloway, Steve Lieber, Andrew Porter, and Kendall for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

McCallum, Stan Lee Signings in January at Farmers Market

David McCallum and Stan Lee each will appear in January at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in The Grove at Farmers Market. Reserve now, because books and admission wristbands will be limited.

David McCallum will sign his mystery novel Once a Crooked Man on Thursday January 21 at 7:00 p.m. Currently playing Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on NCIS, he is also remembered as one of the leads in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Stan Lee will appear at the store on Saturday, January 30 at 2:00 p.m. to celebrate The Zodiac Legacy: The Dragon’s Return. Lee will be there to hand out presigned copies.

Both are wristbanded events. For guidelines, visit the store’s Facebook page.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 11/15 Scrolled Acquaintance

(1) John Green of the Vlog Brothers waves Nalo Hopkinson’s Midnight Robber at the camera and heartily endorses it to 2.6 million subscribers at the 2:00 mark in his “Pizzamas Day 4” video posted November 12.

Today Hopkinson’s book – originally published in 2001 — ranks 2,902 in Amazon’s Kindle eBooks>Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Paranormal & Urban category. I wish I knew where it was ranked the day before for the sake of comparison.

(2) NPR interviewed Stan Lee about his new autobiography.

The man who dreamed up lots of backstories for Marvel characters has now put out his own origin story: A memoir, Amazing Fantastic Incredible, in comic book form. It begins with Lee as a boy, transported to other worlds through books by Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells and William Shakespeare. His real world was the Depression, a father mostly out of work and a dingy New York apartment with laundry hanging in the kitchen and a brick wall for a view. Lee says his mother doted on him; he remembers she’d just watch him read. “One of the best gifts I ever got — she bought me a little stand that I could keep on the table while I was eating, and I could put a book in the stand, and I could read while I was eating. I mean, I always had to be reading something,” he recalls.

Stan Lee memoir cover

(3) Discovery Times Square is hosting “Star Wars And The Power Of Costume: The Exhibition” which includes costumes from the forthcoming movie.

SW-SHOWCLIX-LOGO%20(1)Featuring 70 hand-crafted costumes from the first six blockbuster Star Wars films, this exhibition reveals the artists’ creative process—and uncovers the connection between character and costume. George Lucas imagined and created a fantastical world filled with dynamic characters who told the timeless story of the hero’s journey. The costumes shaped the identities of these now famous characters, from the menacing black mask of Darth Vader and the gilded suit of C-3PO, to the lavish royal gowns of Queen Amidala and a bikini worn by Princess Leia when enslaved by Jabba the Hutt. A special presentation for the showing at Discovery Times Square in New York will feature seven additional costumes from the highly anticipated film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

(4) James H. Burns denies that “love of the Three Stooges is a guy thing” at TV Party.

three-stooges-tuxedos

One night, in one of the popular Broadway joints, I’m having a couple of drinks with an actress I had recently met. A lovely, musicals-type gal….

And. somehow, I mention the Stooges. She tells me she LOVES the Stooges…

So, being a little devilish, as many of you know I can be, I say to her:

“Great…. What’s the only known defense for this…”

And I start doing a, slow-motion, split-finger, eyepoke. She INSTANTLY raises her hand, sideways, to her nose.

(5) Get the electronic Mythlore Plus Index for free – or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work. Order fulfillment goes through PayPal which won’t take a zero-price sale.

Available as a fully searchable digital file downloadable in PDF format, this newly, updated edition of the Mythlore Index covers issues 1-127 and has now been expanded to include all articles and reviews published in the Tolkien Journal, Mythcon Conference Proceedings, and Mythopoeic Press Essay Collections. Articles are indexed by author, title, and subject, and reviews by author and author of item reviewed. The index is illustrated with classic black and white artwork from early issues by Tim Kirk and Sarah Beach. This essential reference in mythopoeic studies will be updated after the publication of each Mythlore issue.

Add it to your cart and when you check out you’ll be sent a download link.

(6) Today In History

  • November 16, 2001:  First Harry Potter film opens

(7) Christopher M. Chupik, guided by his own reading experiences, says there is a tendency to shortchange the appeal of classic sf, in his guest post “Reflections of a Golden Age” on According To Hoyt.

My high-tech Kobo e-reader has a copy of Edmond Hamilton’s The Star Kings on it. Does it matter that I was reading this novel with a device more sophisticated than any of the computers contained within? Of course not.

One of the complaints made was that the younger generation can’t relate to “futures” where men still wear hats and they can make intelligent positronic robots but not personal computers. I say you’re not giving the younger generation enough credit. When I was reading Bradbury and Asimov, I was very aware that I was reading of future’s past. It doesn’t matter that Orwell’s 1984 is behind us (or is it?) any more than it matters that the Mars that Burroughs and Bradbury wrote about has no more foundation in reality than Middle-Earth.

It didn’t matter to me because I could see the things that hadn’t changed. Ultimately, the human experience remains consistent across the ages. Sure, superficial things like slang and fashions change with the decades…

Feel free to ignore the slur on this blog in the first paragraph; I did. (Almost.)

(8) Heritage Auctions is taking bids on a large selection of classic comics. At this writing, Superman #1 is going for $30,000.

(9) T. Campbell’s nominations for the“11 Weirdest Supergirl Stories” are posted on ScreenRant.

The Time She Was Superman’s Archenemy

No one seems to be quite sure where the Linda Danvers Supergirl is at this point (we last saw her in Hell, of all places), but not long after Supergirl‘s comic cancellation, a Supergirl from Krypton showed up (Superman/Batman #8, 2004) who was just straight-up the cousin of Superman. No angel powers, no shapeshifting, no unfortunate Luthor connections, no alternate-Earth shenanigans… just Kara Zor-El, the classic “Orginal Recipe” Supergirl from before things got messy. Except for the part where she might’ve been sent back to kill Superman.

(10) Lou Antonelli stopped doing the backstroke in the punchbowl long enough to post “You Heard It Here First” at This Way To Texas.

George R.R. Martin will be the next recipient of the Science Fiction Writers of America Grand Master Award (The Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award).

No, I do not have inside information, nor do I have a crystal ball. It’s simply a logical conclusion, especially if you know how the literary leaders of the science fiction community think.

Regardless of the merit of Martin’s literary output, he will get the award as a reward for helping trounce the dissident nominees for the Hugo awards this year (the so-called Sad Puppies). It’s not really any more complicated than that.

(11) In “A Forthcoming Speculative Fiction Anthology Asks Transgender Authors To Imagine New Worlds” at Bitch Media, Katherine Cross posed this question to Casey Plett and Cat Fitzpatrick.

On that note, what are your thoughts on the controversy around the Sad Puppies, the group who tried to rig the reader-voted Hugo Awards to favor “traditional” sci-fi works. It was clearly a powerful, angry, and organized reaction against the steady diversification of storytelling in sci-fi and spec-fic. What exactly is happening to this genre that’s so explosive and dangerous?

CP: White straight cis men are getting very upset because they feel they’re losing something when a more diverse set of stories is represented. On the one hand, they don’t have to worry—the share of representation of white straight cis male characters in sci-fi is maybe dropping from 98 percent to 95. But on the other hand, they’re right—they are losing some measure of dominance, and they should lose this. And I think acknowledging that challenges a fluffy teddy-bear idea of what an ally is—the idea that no one is going to lose anything. Being an ally requires giving shit up, which is what these people are not prepared to do.

CF: I think the throwing-the-toys-out-of-the-pram thing totally describes Brad Torgersen [sci-fi author and ringleader of the Sad Puppies]. I think Vox Day [another author, who organized an extreme offshoot of the Sad Puppies called the Rabid Puppies] is altogether a more sinister person, with really far-right politics and a desire to upset people to get attention. He’s a serious reactionary, traditionalist, religious, pseudofascist type—he even called leading spec-fic writer N.K. Jemisin an “uneducated half-savage” because she’s Black. And I think he saw Torgersen’s toy-throwing and said, “Here is a tool I can use to hurt people.”

I do fear that the way the story has been reported makes it seem as if spec-fic is going through growing pains that literary fiction outgrew long ago, as if lit-fic is more mature than spec-fic or sci-fi. Yet lit-fic has these same problems [with diversity and bigotry] and actually deals with them in a much less effective way. Part of it is that spec-fic is always concerned with community—you always have to invent the world from scratch, which entails obviously political choices. Traditional lit-fic straight white authors can say, “I’m just writing how the world is,” and even believe it, but if you’re a sci-fi writer who wants every book to be like Heinlein, you can’t escape the fact that you’re making this up, that your choice as a writer is meaningful and political.

CP: I think this stuff does get talked about in lit-fic—the VIDA Count revealed just how male the writing published by prestigious magazines was. That caused a big scandal. But it was still limited to writers. People in my mfa knew, but I think if you asked a person in a bookstore’s fiction section about the VIDA Count, they would have no idea what it was, whereas someone in the sci-fi section would probably know about Puppygate.

CF: Totally. On one hand, that relative openness laid them open to the whole Puppy thing, but on the other hand, it has meant much more engagement with the debate. And in the end the Puppies were voted down in the actual awards, even if that meant not awarding some categories. Which was kind of amazing. And it opened up a really important conversation and brought a lot of people together around it. I’m actually kind of happy about how the spec-fic or sci-fi community as a whole has handled this thing.

CP: I have a friend who said, “When stuff like this happens, it means you’re winning,” and I think they might be right in this case. It also opens up that question, “Who is focused on awards, and why?” I know awards can help sales, and it’s nice to be recognized, but I think it’s interesting these straight white cis guys are so focused on prestige. Whereas our feelings as editors about recognition are, “It’s nice, but it’s a byproduct.” We’re not interested in this writing being prestigious, we’re interested in it being interesting, first of all, to a trans audience—we want to be accountable to them.

(12) Steven Erikson’s guest post “Awards or Bust”, largely devoted to a critique of Stephen Jones’ defense of the WFA Lovecraft bust (on Facebook), concludes —

The time was long past due on getting rid of that bust.  And at the table at the banquet at the World Fantasy Awards, I made my applause loud and sustained.  And as for the Lovecraft pin I wear to conventions, indicating a past nomination, I’d love to see a new version.  In the meantime, however, I will continue to wear it, not in belligerent advocacy of H.P. Lovecraft, but to honour all past winners of the World Fantasy Award.

In my mind I can make that distinction.  That I have to lies at the heart of the problem with having Lovecraft as our symbol of merit.  To all future nominees and winners, you won’t have to face that awkward separation, and for that, you can thank that ‘vocal minority,’ who perhaps have not been vocal enough, and who are most certainly not a minority.  Not in this field, not in any other.

(13) Laura J. Mixon’s conclusion, after quoting one of Lovecraft’s racist statements in “Farewell to the Bigoted Bust”:

These are not simply a few hot-headed opinions popping out of the mouth (or the pen) of a young man, whose attitudes mellowed with age. They weren’t ill-considered Thingish thoughts that he reconsidered later. Nope. He remained hostile and entrenched in these views to the end of his life, despite the sustained efforts of his friends and family.

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