Pixel Scroll 6/20/17 Hugos And Dragons And Campbells Oh My!

(1) HAN SOLO DIRECTORS AXED. The untitled Star Wars Han Solo spinoff started principal photography on February 20 at London’s Pinewood Studios, but progress has come to an ass-grinding stop with the departure of directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who cited “creative differences” for the split.

Variety’s article puts it a bit differently — “’Star Wars’ Han Solo Spinoff: Lord & Miller Fired After Clashing With Kathleen Kennedy”.

Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s reputation for writing irreverent, poppy films such as “21 Jump Street” and “The Lego Movie” helped the white-hot writing and directing duo land one of the most coveted gigs in Hollywood — a chance to call the shots on a “Star Wars” film.

But their chance to put their stamp on a galaxy far, far away collapsed on Tuesday with the stunning announcement that the pair would be departing the still untitled Han Solo spin-off movie in the midst of production. Their exit comes after months of conflict with producer Kathleen Kennedy, others from her LucasFilm team, and co-writer and executive producer Lawrence Kasdan, and the two directors hired to infuse the “Star Wars” universe with a tongue-in-cheek sensibility.

Miller and Lord were stunned to find that they were not being granted freedom to run the production in the manner that they were accustomed to. They balked at Kennedy’s tight control on the set.

(2) SAY IT OUT LOUD. Madeleine E. Robins has some advice about dialect in “’Ow’s that, Guv’nor?: The Art of Reading to an Audience”.

So maybe, even if you hear the words you’ve written with a perfect what-ever-it-is accent, you’ll want to think carefully before giving voice to their accents. This is a time when enlisting the assistance of a friend can be useful. Read aloud to them and ask them to tell tell you if it works. If your listener says you’re more [Dick Van Dyke’s Bert the chimney sweep] than Sir Ben Kingsley, rethink.

But my dialogue is written in dialect! Okay, but you don’t have to read inflections that are not in the page. If you’ve got a character saying “I don’t know ‘ow!” you can soften the presumed “Oi” in I; if you aren’t good at the vowels, don’t hit ’em hard. And remember, it’s more important that your listeners follow the sense and meaning of the words than that they get a full theatrical performance.

(3) RED PLANET INTERIOR DECORATORS. Jeremy White in WIRED (“IKEA designers are living in a Mars simulator to get inspiration for future collections. Really”) says that IKEA sent an in-house design team to spend seven days at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, who then decided how to make a Mars mission “more homey” and then use that knowledge to aid in IKEA’s product development.

At its annual Democratic Design Day event in Älmhult, Sweden, IKEA has revealed its latest collaborations and products, with a focus on millennials and space travel. Yes, space travel.

To this end, IKEA has done something rather drastic. It’s banished a delegation of its in-house design team to live in a simulated Mars habitat at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, America, to learn what it’s like to live in the inhospitable and cramped environs of off-world settlements.

When the company learned that Nasa and students from Sweden’s Lund University School of Industrial Design were working on what would be needed for a three-year space mission to Mars, IKEA requested to join the project.

The home furnishings giant wants to tap in to what scientists and engineers learn from spaceflight to Mars, and apply these discoveries to products and methods for everyday life at home. Marcus Engman, head of design at IKEA, said the company wants to find out what could make space travel “homey” and to identify the boundaries and restraints needed to work in that environment, and then port that knowledge into IKEA’s own product development and “use space knowledge for a better everyday life on Earth”.

(4) TENTACLE TIME. Camestros Felapton reviews a science fictional-themed brew, complete with photos of its exotic label, in “Tuesday Beer: Galactopus @LittleBangBrew”.

…I know my readers would WANT me to drink a beer called “Galactopus”, which features a planet devouring octopus on the label.

The sacrifices I make for you all.

The label has some very clever copy. I wonder how many beer labels a person has to author to qualify for SFWA?

(5) RHETORICAL QUESTION. Having seen the Wonder Woman movie Daniel Dern wants to know, “Why no kangas on Paradise Island?”

(6) HOWARD. The duck’s cameos in Guardians of the Galaxy give his leading lady a new excuse to brag: “Lea Thompson Talks ‘Howard the Duck,’ Claims Her Crown as First Queen of Marvel”.

Lea Thompson couldn’t give a quack about what you think of Howard the Duck, the puntastic 1986 Marvel Comics-based action-comedy that ran afowl of movie critics and has lived in film infamy ever since. The George Lucas-produced movie has a fan base out there, and that’s good enough for her.

“People love that movie!” Thompson said of “HTD,” as she likes to call it, during a Facebook Live interview with Yahoo Movies (watch the full interview below). “They’re releasing it again in Blu-ray or something… They don’t just do that because they’re nice.” (The film was made available on Blu-ray for the first time last May.) “It’s a hilariously bizarre movie,” Thompson continued. “The only thing that I can say that I don’t like about it is that I thought it was a little long.”

The film, which featured the Back to the Future breakout as a Cleveland singer who helps the anthropomorphic duck acclimate to life on Earth, runs 110 minutes, which is still well short of the average runtime of today’s Marvel movies, including the two Guardians of the Galaxy films that have briefly resuscitated Mr. HTD

(7) FIVE STARS. Marion Deeds and Kat Hooper each take a cut at Daryl Gregory’s Spoonbenders at Fantastic Literature. Here’s Marion’s first paragraph:

Spoonbenders (2017) by Daryl Gregory, is multi-generational family saga. It’s a coming-of-age story. It’s a psychic adventure story and a weird conspiracy tale for lovers of shadowy CIA projects like MKULTRA. It’s a gangster story. There’s a heist. There is a long con, and a madcap comedy along the lines of classic Marx Brothers routines. There are a couple of romances, a direct-distribution scheme, a medallion, a cow and a puppy. If we’re talking genre, I don’t know what Spoonbenders is. I know I loved it. I know it was fun and made me laugh, I know it was scary at times and I know I closed the book feeling happy and sad. And I know it’s a five-star book.

(8) COMIC SECTION. John King Tarpinian notes an amusing sf reference today in Bliss.

(9) SAD PUPPIES PROGRESS REPORT. Sarah A. Hoyt returned to tell Mad Genius Club readers what happened to Sad Puppies 5 in “About Those Lost Puppies”. After a lengthy recap of her version of history, she reaches the tentative present:

…Our intention was always to just create a page, in which those who register can post reading recommendations, not just of recent years, but of anything that struck their fancy.  There will be a place where you can say when the book was published and if it’s eligible for an award — and not just a science fiction award — and a link to the award page for people to follow, if so minded.  Yeah, we’ll include the Hugo, but probably with a note saying the award is in the process of self-destructing.

Thing is, I meant to have this up before nominations for the Dragon Award opened.  But on top of the comedy of errors above, our website provider either crashed or was hacked, so while trying to survive auto-immune and meeting more deliveries than UPS, I’ve been trying to get it up and running again.  (My author site is down also.)

So, that’s where we are.  We’ll put it up sometime in the next couple of months, and then Amanda and I will run it, and then Amanda will take over  Or Amanda, Kate and I will continue shepherding it.

When we said this before and pointed out that PARTICULARLY indie books need some place to mention them, we were linked to/lectured by someone one the rabid side, because apparently they already have a site, so we don’t need one of our own.

Tips hat to the right.  Thank you kindly.  But you guys are aware your aesthetics and goals aren’t ours, right?

You just turned Marxist aesthetics on their head, and are judging books by being anti-Marxist and how much they don’t support the neo Marxist idea of justice.  That’s cool and all.  To each his own.  And since, so far, your crazy isn’t being taught in schools, it’s slightly less annoying than the Marxist crazy.

It is still annoying, though, because you’re still judging literary value by whether it fits your (at least as crazy-cakes’ as the Marxists) narrative and your precepts….

(10) I ATE THE WHOLE THING. It’s been reliably reported that Whole Foods was not long for existence if Bezos or the like hadn’t bought them. “Amazon Eats Up Whole Foods as the New Masters of the Universe Plunder America” japes The Daily Beast’s Joel Kotkin.

Unlike our old moguls, the new Masters don’t promise greater prosperity but a world where most people are to be satiated by a state-provided basic income and occasional ‘gig’ work.

 

(11) PLAY BALL The Washington Post’s Scott Allen, in a piece called “Nationals will hide ‘dragon eggs’ ahead of ‘Game of Thrones’ Night”,  says the Washington Nationals have hidden 10 “dragon eggs” in the D.C. area, and if you find one fabulous prizes can be yours at the Nationals’ Game of Thrones night.

Nationals Park will look and feel a bit more like Westeros, the fictional continent from the popular HBO series based on George R.R. Martin’s novels, when the Nationals host the Reds on “Game of Thrones” Night on Friday.

Ahead of the event, the Nationals will hide 10 prize-filled “dragon eggs” in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. A Westeros-themed map posted on the team’s social channels and in The Washington Post Express on Tuesday morning will guide fans to the eggs, which contain a Nationals and “Game of Thrones” co-branded T-shirt, two tickets to Friday’s game and a fast-pass to pose for a photo on the 800-pound Iron Throne that will be located in the Right Field Plaza.

…The Racing Presidents will wear different-colored cloaks with faux fur designed by Ingrid Crepeau, the same woman behind the elaborate costumes that the Racing Presidents have worn on “Star Wars Day” since 2015. Teddy and George showed off their costumes at AwesomeCon in D.C. over the weekend. Screech will be dressed as his favorite “Game of Thrones” character, the three-eyed Raven.

 

(12) SEUSS MUSEUM. The Washington Post’s Andrea Sachs asks, “Will the Dr. Seuss museum be one of the places you’ll go?” Her article reports on the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss museum in Springfield, Massachusetts, where museumgoers can make small books or “a Lorax mustache on a wooden stick, look at his art, and see the rooms where he wrote and drew his books, including hats given him from fans of The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins.

The ground floor brings to life several of his 40-plus children’s books. The front door opens up to “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” the first children’s book Seuss published. A statue of a police officer patrols a zany parade painted on the wall. Around the bend, step into McGrew’s Zoo, a riot of animals, most not found in the wild. A diagram shows some of the pretend creatures from “If I Ran the Zoo.” There is a preep, a proo, a nerkle and a nerd. Yes, a nerd — a word Seuss made up. Continue onward to make the acquaintance of Thing One and Thing Two, the Cat in the Hat, the Lorax and the tower of turtles from — burp — “Yertle the Turtle.”

Here’s the direct link to “The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum”.

The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss is a permanent, bilingual museum designed to introduce children and their families to the stories of Ted Geisel, promote joy in reading, and nurture specific literacy skills. The 3,200-square-foot first floor exhibition will provide opportunities to explore new sounds and vocabulary, play rhyming games, invent stories, and engage in activities that encourage teamwork and creative thinking.

The second floor will be filled with personal memorabilia belonging to Ted Geisel, including original oil paintings, a collection of zany hats and bowties, the original Geisel Grove sign which used to hang in Forest Park, and furniture from Ted’s sitting room and studio, including his drawing board, breakfast table, sofa, and armchair.

(13) NAZI RELICS. Matt Novak of Gizmodo covers the “Huge Collection of Nazi Artifacts Discovered Inside Secret Room in Argentina”.

Federal police in Argentina recently discovered a time capsule of evil, hidden inside a house near Buenos Aires. Roughly 75 Nazi artifacts, including everything from a large knife to Nazi medical devices to a photo negative of Adolph Hitler, were uncovered in a secret room. Police are investigating when and how the items entered the South American country….

One reason that authorities in Buenos Aires has some degree of certainty that they are originals is that some items from the collection are pictured in photographs with Nazi leaders. For example, one item in the collection is a magnifying glass. The same magnifying glass is seen in a photo negative from the collection showing Hitler himself. Investigators showed the photo to the Associated Press on the condition that the photo not be published.

“This is a way to commercialize them, showing that they were used by the horror, by the Fuhrer. There are photos of him with the objects,” said Bullrich.

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

Spoilery Sci-Fi Video Roundup

By Carl Slaughter: (1) Logan. Logan is dying because admantium is poisoning him, right?  Not exactly.

(2) Spider-Man. Spoiler alert:  The identity of Spidey’s love interest in Homecoming has been revealed.

(3) Spiked. Cancelled Batman movies.

(4) GoT. The 10 most powerful items in Game of Thrones.

(5) Cattle call. 38 actors you didn’t know were in Star Trek.

(6) No swiping. Weirdest Star Wars ripoffs.

(7) Ten-hut! 8 best military sci-fi movies.

Pixel Scroll 6/8/17 The Pixel Who Circumnavigated Filerland In A Scroll Of Her Own Making

(1) BUM OF THE MONTH CLUB. The time is ripe for “The Official Pornokitsch Taxonomy of Villains”.

So we’ve been at this Villain of the Month thing for a while now — since August 2016, to be precise — and by this point we’ve accumulated an interesting roster of villains….

First up, we have the True Believer (the Operative, Dolores Umbridge). True Believers have a cause to which they are faithfully devoted. That’s not to say they lack other ambitions — wealth, for example, or glory — but those take a back seat to one all-important ideological goal. For the Operative, that goal is creating “a world without sin”. For Umbridge, it’s a fascist regime ruled by the Ministry of Magic. Villains who obsequiously serve a Dark Lord (e.g. Bellatrix Lestrange) or fight to preserve the existing order (e.g. Agent Smith) would also fall into this category. For me, the most interesting True Believers are those fighting for a cause the audience could nominally get behind (e.g. the aforementioned world without sin), but whose methods are beyond the pale….

(2) MISSING THE APOCALYPSE. “Yeah, why DON’T authors deal with climate change??? <rolleyes>,” wrote JJ after seeing Tobias Buckell, Daniel Abraham and some other sff authors on Twitter get a little peeved because Publishers Weekly touted an article by Siddhartha Deb in The Baffler that said only nonfiction writers seemed to be dealing with it.

Such are the absurdities of the fossil-fuel lifestyle we are locked into globally, folly piling upon folly, the latest among them the decision by the United States to pull out of a Paris Climate Agreement that itself is like a band-aid applied to an earthquake. (Its target is to limit the global rise in temperature to between 1.5 and 2 degrees centigrade but, since it comes into effect only in 2020, it is seen by many critics as putting such a target beyond reach.) Yet in spite of all the evidence of the destruction visited upon the world by our resource-heavy appetites, accompanied by a gnawing recognition that something is fundamentally wrong in our relationship with the Earth and in the way we live, and all the cumulative knowledge about climate change and the irreplicable characteristics of an era that some have named the Anthropocene, the end result is still a kind of imaginative fatigue.

This makes itself evident in the paucity of fiction devoted to the carbon economy, something the Brooklyn-based Indian writer Amitav Ghosh addresses in his marvelous recent book, The Great Derangement, writing, “When the subject of climate change occurs . . . it is almost always in relation to nonfiction; novels and short stories are very rarely to be glimpsed within this horizon.”

(3) FAUX POP CULTURE. The Book Smugglers reminds all that Yoon Ha Lee’s Raven Stratagem comes out next week with this guest post from the author, “You Were Watching What on TV, Cheris?”

One of the most entertaining things I’ve gotten to do in the background worldbuilding for the hexarchate is its popular culture. For example, in Ninefox Gambit, my heroine Cheris spends her free time watching crackalicious TV shows (“dramas”). In Raven Stratagem, one of the Kel recalls a classmate who used to read trashy adventures involving “dungeon-crawling” in the bowels of the campus. And it also reveals that Jedao’s mom used to like reading equally trashy sci-fi novels involving survivalists and tentacled monsters from outer space. Just because she’s a science fantasy character doesn’t mean she can’t like sci-fi, right?

(4) INDIGENOUS VOICES. Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Robin Parker have succeeded in creating the Emerging Indigenous Voices Awards, which is now hosted by the Indigenous Literary Studies Association. And the ILSA has announced the award judges. (No excerpt, because the news item is one big image file — not text!) ILSA has set a funding target of $150,000 to”make the award sustainable for many years to come.” As of this writing, the Indiegogo appeal has raised $109,298 (Canadian). [H/T to Earl Grey Editing.]

(5) TIPTREE FELLOWSHIP REPORTS. The two 2016 Tiptree Fellowship winners have reported on how their work has been facilitated by the fellowships. [H/T to Earl Grey Editing.]

First on Porpentine Charity Heartscape’s list:

Here’s what I’ve been up to since I got the Tiptree fellowship. I made Miniskirt World Network: Business Slut Online, a video/music hypertext about a femme vaporwave world where fashion is a basic computer peripheral. I wanted to evoke the contradictory tensions of feminine-coded clothing and the weird emotional textures that come with it.

Mia Sereno (Likhain) explains:

I cannot separate my being Filipino, of the Philippines, from my being a woman; they are inextricably intertwined. Thanks to the Tiptree Fellowship I was able to examine this intertwining more closely through my art. Life has not been easy this past year and between trying to keep my household afloat and taking care of my own health, I’ve had less time than I would have liked to work on my art series built around the concept of Filipinas as monsters, monstrosity reclaimed and embraced. Still, I’d like to share with you some work-in-progress pencils and concept sketches featuring both high fantasy settings and the supernatural as the second skin of our everyday.

(6) THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND. The Wombat Conservancy, Winery, and Writer’s Retreat — a hilarious conversation on Twitter.

To reach the beginning, JJ advises, “You have to keep scrolling up until you get to the top (land for sale listings).”

(7) RARE POWER. ScreenRant tells you what they think is the “Wonder Woman Movie’s Most Important Scene”. But I will excerpt a less spoilery part of the article.

By now most superhero fans with an eye for gender representation will have noticed a discrepancy between males and females with superpowers in comic movies, fantasy, science fiction, etc., etc.. Where the men either immediately or eventually see their superpowers as a gift, and the testing and mastery of the powers as a thrilling ‘coming of age’ story (or montage), women face a different road ahead. Often, the surfacing of a latent or new superpower is treated as an illness: something to hide, remove, control, or at the very least suspect as a problem to be solved (no matter how cool those superpowers may be). For every ‘Professor X’ there is a Jean Grey, for every Flash there is a Killer Frost, for every super-fast Quicksilver, there is a mentally-traumatized Scarlet ‘Witch.’

It’s a gender difference that means men will typically exert power by hitting things, while women are given powers rendering them unpredictable, mentally unstable, or simply tied to forces from an ‘unknown, mystical, potentially harmful’ source. But with Wonder Woman, Diana’s discovery of her ability to punch straight through stone is treated as the world-altering, empowering, and thrilling gift the viewers would take it to be. After smashing her hand through the stone in a frantic fall, Diana deduces that she is stronger than any Amazon before her

(8) NEBULA SHOWCASE. Don’t forget the Nebula Awards Showcase 2017 edited by Julie Czerneda.

The Nebula Awards Showcase volumes have been published annually since 1966, reprinting the winning and nominated stories of the Nebula Awards, voted on by the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). This year’s editor, selected by SFWA’s anthology Committee (chaired by Mike Resnick), is Canadian science fiction and fantasy writer and editor Julie Czerneda. This year’s Nebula Award winners are Naomi Novik, Nnedi Okorafor, Sarah Pinsker, and Alyssa Wong, with Fran Wilde winning the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Book. Also included in this volume are works by N. K. Jemisin and Ann Leckie.

(9) ON THE ROAD. I laughed.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY REDUX

  • June 8, 1949 — George Orwell published his most significant book, 1984. (You may be pardoned for thinking there’s an echo around here.)
  • June 8, 1984 Ghostbusters is released in theaters across the United States.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • June 8, 1910 — John W. Campbell, Jr

(12) BRYANT MEMORIAL. George R.R. Martin tells about attending the memorial service for Ed Bryant in “Saying Farewell”.

Ed was a talented writer and a great workshopper, who mentored and encouraged many writers younger than himself and helped them on their way. He was one of my Wild Cards authors, creator of Sewer Jack and Wyungare. But most of all he was a sweet, kind man, with a warm smile and a gentle wit. Science fiction and fantasy will be poorer without him. Memorials like this are not for the deceased so much as they are for those left behind, I believe. It was good to get together with so many others who cared about Ed, and to share our memories of him, with laughter and love.

(13) TURNABOUT. Queen Idia’s Africa: Ten Short Stories by Cordelia Salter was released May 11.

Africa is rich and the West is poor. That’s the setting for Queen Idia’s Africa: Ten Short Stories by Cordelia Salter with a foreword by Zeinab Badawi.

This is a world where slavery and colonialism never happened and Africa is the rich global superpower.

The West is mired in poverty, politically unstable and relies on aid from Africa. Zeinab Badawi, Chair of the Royal African Society, points out in the foreword that the stories make us think what things could have been like if the boot had been on the other foot.

What would Africa do about swarms of illegal European migrants trying to get to Africa in search of a better life? How would Africa respond to droughts, famines and rebel warfare in North America? Could there have been apartheid the other way round?

(14) SHE, THE JURY. Naomi Alderman, whose sf novel The Power just won the Baileys Prize for Women’s Fiction, has been added to the jury for the The Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize.

Alderman will be one of five judges, chaired by award-winning writer and television presenter, palaeontologist and Royal Society Fellow, Richard Fortey. They are joined by: writer and presenter of BBC Radio 4’s All in the Mind, Claudia Hammond, Channel 4’s Topical Specialist Factual Commissioner, Shaminder Nahal and former Royal Society University Research Fellow, Sam Gilbert.

The Prize has worked with many eminent judges over its illustrious 30-year history, among them Ian McEwan, Sarah Waters, Terry Pratchett, David Attenborough, Tracy Chevalier and Michael Frayn.

The Prize celebrates outstanding popular science books from around the world and is open to authors of science books written for a non-specialist audience. Over the decades, it has championed writers such as Stephen Hawking, Jared Diamond, Stephen Jay Gould and Bill Bryson.

Naomi Alderman commented: “It’s a terrible shame that arts and sciences are so often seen as mutually opposed, and that there’s so little understanding of what makes great work in ‘the other’ culture. So many of the most urgent problems that face us today can only be solved by thinking in an interdisciplinary way. That’s why I’m particularly thrilled to be a judge of this Prize, where we’ll be looking both for great science and excellent writing and storytelling. There’s no reason that a science book can’t be a bloody good read, and I can’t wait to get stuck in, and to discuss the best new science writing with the other judges.”

(15) ILLEGAL ESPIONAGE. In Section 31: Control, frequent Star Trek novelist David Mack takes on Starfleet’s secretive, rogue agency. Dr. Bashir, as he was in Deep Space Nine episodes involving Section 31, is the chief protagonist.

No law…no conscience…no mercy. Amoral, shrouded in secrecy, and answering to no one, Section 31 is the mysterious covert operations division of Starfleet, a rogue shadow group pledged to defend the Federation at any cost.

The discovery of a two-hundred-year-old secret gives Doctor Julian Bashir his best chance yet to expose and destroy the illegal spy organization. But his foes won’t go down without a fight, and his mission to protect the Federation he loves just end up triggering its destruction.

Only one thing is for certain: this time, the price of victory will be paid with Bashir’s dearest blood.

(16) TOASTY. A “heat battery” in use in real world: “From hand-warmer to house-warmer for tech firm”.

It took a creative leap to take the idea further: could you scale up the phase change process so a hand-warmer became a house-warmer?

Several big corporations – over several decades – tried to make it happen but each time the research petered out.

Now an East Lothian company with fewer than 30 employees has succeeded.

The equipment Sunamp have developed at their base in Macmerry has already been installed in 650 Scottish homes, providing heat and hot water for about half the cost of gas.

(17) HAWKING MEDAL. Space.com reports “Neil deGrasse Tyson Becomes 1st American to Receive Stephen Hawking Medal”.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson received the Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication Tuesday (June 6), becoming the first American scientist to earn the prestigious award.

Tyson, who refers to himself as “your personal astrophysicist,” is most known for his television series “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” and podcast-turned-television-series “StarTalk.” He is the director for the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History here in New York City, where Tuesday’s announcement was made.

The Stephen Hawking Medal is an annual award created in association with the Starmus Festival, an international gathering celebrating science and art that will take place in Trondheim, Norway, on June 18-23 this year. Medals are given to science communicators in three categories: writers, musicians and artists, and people in the film and entertainment industry. Hawking, a famous theoretical physicist and author of several best-selling books about the universe, handpicks the recipients himself. [The Most Famous Astronomers of All Time]

(18) WHEN MEN WERE MEN AND DINOS WERE FROGS. Looking for a Father’s Day present? How about this “ORIGINAL JURASSIC PARK Screenplay SPECIAL Copy”, asking price (reduced 30%!) now $2,450 on eBay.

[JURASSIC PARK – THE FILM]. CRICHTON, MICHAEL, DAVID KOEPP. Original Limited and Numbered Confidential Shooting Script for the Film ‘Jurassic Park’ by David Koep. Based on the Novel by Michael Crichton and on Adaptations by Michael Crichton and Malia Scotch Marmo. Los Angeles: Amblin Entertainment, 1992. Original limited and numbered copy of a 126 page shooting script with color rewrite pages for the film ‘Jurassic Park’ by David Koep, based on the novel by Michael Crichton and on adaptations by Michael Crichton and Malia Scotch Marmo. A special printed page at the beginning reads: “HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL – You are a part of a very limited distribution. This numbered copy of JURASSIC PARK has been assigned to you and is for your eyes only.” next to which “JP” and “64” are stamped in red and throughout the script. This copy belonged to the film’s safety coordinator

(19) MARKET OVERVIEW. David Steffen’s “SFWA Market Report for June” at the SFWA Blog includes these opening markets.

OPENING MARKETS

(20) NOT THAT ANYONE WOULD REMEMBER. Chris Chan continues his Orwellian remaking of recent fanhistory in “‘No Award’: The Hugo Awards, Sad Puppies, and Sci-Fi/Fantasy Literature — Part Two: A Short History of the Sad Puppies at the Hugos” at Nerd HQ.

The results of the 2015 experiment were dramatic and explosive. The recommendations of the Sad Puppies (and also those put forward by the Rabid Puppies) dominated the 2015 Hugo Nominations. John C. Wright received five nominations in three categories (he initially was awarded a sixth slot, but one was revoked on a technicality). The Hugo nominee list changed over the coming weeks. Aside from the aforementioned instance, some nominees chose to decline their nomination (Hugo nominees have this option and can decline for any reason they like — some original nominees did not approve of the Sad or Rabid Puppies and did not wish to have any connection with them, and others objected that they believed that the voting process was being corrupted), and the slots were then filled by the runners-up. Incidentally, Correia’s Monster Hunter Nemesis received enough votes to qualify for a Best Novel nomination, but he turned down the nod to make the point that Sad Puppies was not being organized in order to receive honors for himself.

And yet that’s exactly why Correia started down this road — see the first post in 2013, “How to get Correia nominated for a Hugo. :)”, and the follow-up post that initiated the Sad Puppies theme, “How to get Correia nominated for a Hugo PART 2: A VERY SPECIAL MESSAGE”. There was really nothing noble about it, in the beginning or later.

(21) THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF PEOPLE. Jon Del Arroz, after studying the wildlife in its native habitat, offers his “Behavioral Observations In Science Fiction”.

There’s two groups, the old guard burnout mentality, and the new indie pulp revolution. There’s a bit of a line up along political lines, but not as much as you’d expect, and in fact, that’s used as an excuse a lot of the time to poo poo the new. This is the state of science fiction today. I’ve talked about it briefly before, but here’s a broader look at the experiences I’ve had after engaging with both.

Old Guard

You walk into social media, or a group, or a convention of what I called the “old guard”, they’e hesitant. They’re the type to complain that they’re introverts, having to recharge after social interactions (which is fine to be, but knowing that — why complain so often?). A new person is immediately greeted with a stand-offish attitude, like they have to vet you to make sure you’re “really one of them” or that you have to pay your dues to prove yourself somehow. They’re hyper-political. If you look at their social media posts, 70-90% of them are endless shrieking about politics they don’t like. They keep talking about how they’re too busy for anyone or anything — including the next generation of fans and writers. And this is all before they know that you’re on the “wrongthink” side of politics.

(22) WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM. The Coode Street Podcast will take a couple of breaks this year. The announcement provoked this hilarious exchange.

(23) ALTERNATE REALITY HUMOR. It might be too late for this to be funny — Loki Runs For President, a video from last November. (Was it funny then? It’s basically somebody talking a mile a minute over scans of a comic book.)

(24) APE CLIP. Two minutes of War for the Planet of the Apes about “Meeting Nova.”

She is the future. Meet Nova in the first clip from #WarForThePlanet and be the first to #WitnessTheEnd on Monday, June 19

 

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Earl Grey Editing, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor the day Oneiros.]

Obi On The Lookout

Steve Sansweet shows a Day of the Dead knockoff of Han and Leia to a visiting school group. Photo by Victoria Webb.

Steve Sansweet has publicized a major theft from his action figure collection, housed at Rancho Obi-Wan in Petaluma, CA.

The author of 16 Star Wars books, Sansweet created Rancho Obi-Wan, a California nonprofit corporation, in 2011 to manage his vast collection of Star Wars memorabilia and artifacts. It also functions as a museum, and during the school year classes of students are given tours.

In February we at Rancho Obi-Wan found out that we had been the victim of a major theft that surreptitiously took place over many months in late 2015 through 2016.

There were more than 100 valuable items stolen, the majority of them vintage U.S. and foreign carded action figures, many of them rare and important pieces. Most have either been resold or professionally appraised for a total of more than $200,000.

The theft came to light after Philip Wise, a good friend, major collector and owner of several Star Wars websites, posted news of the theft of his rare prototype rocket-firing Boba Fett action figure from his Texas warehouse. Zach Tann, a respected toy dealer and collector in Southern California, immediately notified Philip that he had purchased that figure from Carl Edward Cunningham, 45, a well-known Star Wars collector and R2-D2 builder from Marietta, Georgia.

Tann further told Philip that he previously had bought many other rare Star Wars collectibles from Carl and sent a detailed list. Philip said that he quickly concluded by the quantity and quality of items that they had likely been stolen from my collection here in Petaluma, California.

…Carl surrendered on an arrest warrant from the Sonoma County, California Sheriff’s Department at the end of March and was charged with felony grand theft. He is currently free on bail with additional hearings in the case scheduled.

I have known Carl for many years, considered him a good and trusted friend, and played host to him at my home numerous times. I, and the staff at Rancho Obi-Wan, are devastated that he is the alleged perpetrator of the thefts. Not only have important items been stolen from the collection, but also our time, energy and ability to trust unconditionally have taken a blow.

If you have any information about Carl Cunningham’s activities or items that he has sold please write to tips@ranchoobiwan.org. If you think you may have purchased a stolen item, please be patient while we work through this process

Pixel Scroll 6/3/17 Hello Pixel My Old Friend, I’ve Come To Scroll With You Again

(1) SCORING WONDER WOMAN. Vox explains that Wonder Woman’s score/rating is 93% or 76%, depending on how you look at it, in “Why people are freaking out over Wonder Woman’s stellar Rotten Tomatoes score”

To be clear, a 97 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating doesn’t mean that critics scored the movie at 97 on a scale of 1 to 100, or that Wonder Woman is a perfect movie — rather, it signifies that an overwhelming majority of critics have given the movie a positive review. The average critical rating for the movie is around a 7.6 out of 10 according to Rotten Tomatoes, and a 76 according to Metacritic, both of which take into account any actual score, like a star rating or a letter grade, that a critic gave the movie.

(2) WORD PROBLEM. Or, for those of you who find a verbal response more helpful that a number, Gary Westfahl offers “A Working Model for Superhero Films: A Review of Wonder Woman” at Locus Online.

One important lesson to learn seems obvious enough: since the DC superheroes first became popular because of their appearances in comic books, filmmakers should generally remain faithful to the contents and spirit of their original adventures. One of the irksome aspects of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was his willingness to tinker with Superman’s and Batman’s back stories and ignore facets of their established characters, so that one watches these films regularly thinking, “Superman would never do that,” or “Batman would never do that.” In contrast, though Snyder is co-credited with Wonder Woman‘s story, its other writers — Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs — must be primarily credited with a film that, with minor changes to be noted, is remarkably faithful to the longstanding traditions of Wonder Woman (even though she is never called Wonder Woman in the film), projecting a strong awareness and respect for the three aspects of the heroine that make her almost unique (and her gender, though relevant, is not the most significant issue).

(3) OMNI FOR SALE — BUT SHOULD IT BE? The entire run of Omni magazine is available for purchase from Amazon for $2.99/issue (or free if you have Kindle Unlimited.) — see Omni archive.

But SFWA President Cat Rambo points out there are unanswered questions about the rights to market the fiction in these issues:

Be aware that there’s some questions about those runs of Omni. While the nonfiction seems to have been often work for hire, I don’t believe that’s true of the fiction, and I also don’t think they’re paying the writers of that fiction. At least, they have not replied to repeated and increasingly pointed queries on my part about it. I’ve asked affected fiction writers to mail me if they know their work has been stolen by these folk.

(4) GET OUT THE KLEENEX. The New York Times debuted its feature New York Stories by getting some artists (including Tom Gauld) to draw header illustrations for selected articles.

First one I read was the lost dog story — “World (or at Least Brooklyn) Stops for Lost Dog” by reporter Andy Newman. Big tearjerker.

Bailey, a 2½-year-old goldendoodle, lived a placid, largely uneventful life on a block of handsome brownstones in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, until 7:15 on the morning of Oct. 24.

That was when her owner leashed her to a metal chair outside Henry’s Local, a coffee shop on Henry Street, and went in for an iced latte.

Another customer entered the cafe. Bailey, startled, jumped to the side. The chair crashed to the sidewalk. The noise spooked Bailey further.

She bolted — down Henry Street, dragging the clattering chair behind her, with her owner, Orna Le Pape, in pursuit, yelling: “Bailey, stop! No! No!”

The NYT allows ten free articles before you a paywall. But there are ways around that, as you probably know.

(5) HARRY POTTER FAN FILM. ScienceFiction.com interestingly reports, “Warner Bros. Okays ‘Harry Potter’ Fan Film ‘Voldemort: Origins Of The Heir’”. The spectacular-looking trailer was linked in the Scroll the other day — now it looks like the makers will be allowed to do their feature.

But considering that this borders on copyright infringement, this trend has caused studios much alarm and has even caused some to call in the lawyers. For example, CBS and Paramount went after a ’Star Trek’ fan film titled ‘Axanar’ and tied that production in litigation for over a year. Eventually, things settled down and the filmmakers were allowed to proceed with their project with certain conditions, but it set a precedent for studios and future fan films that have recently played out with Warner Bros. and a ‘Harry Potter’ fan film titled ‘Voldemort: Origins of the Heir’. Luckily, just as with the ‘Star Trek’ production, it would seem that the studio has given the fans their blessing to move forward with their labor of love.

While speaking with Polygon, ‘Origins of the Heir’ co-director Gianmaria Pezzato of Tryangle Films revealed that after WB had their Kickstarter campaign shut down in July 2016, the two parties came to some kind of agreement that would allow Pezzato, co-director Stefano Prestia, and the whole crew to continue their work. However, there were some conditions:

“We had a private and confidential discussion with Warner Bros who contacted us during the period of the crowdfunding campaign. The only thing we can say is that they let us proceed with the film, in a non profit way, obviously.”

With WB’s blessing, Tyrangle is back in business. It’s a good thing too because their film looks really awesome. I mean, when fans can create a House Elf as well as some of the best animators in the business, it would be a crime for a cease and desist to keep the movie from coming to fruition.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 3, 1965 — Astronaut Edward H. White II was the first American to perform a “spacewalk” when he stepped outside of his spacecraft

(7) YESTERDAY IN HISTORY

  • June 2, 1950 Influential sci-fi film Rocketship X-M opens in theaters.
  • June 2, 1989 Nicolas Cage stars in horror comedy Vampire’s Kiss.

(8) YESTERDAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born June 2, 1915 — Lester del Rey

(9) WATCH FOR THE BLINK. Offering more participation than SETI@home: “Citizen Scientists Comb Images To Find An ‘Overexcited Planet'”.

“Maybe Mesklin is out there just waiting to be discovered,” comments Chip Hitchcock.

Professional astronomers have been turning to the public for help with their research. So far, these “citizen scientists” have helped characterize distant galaxies and discovered gravitation lenses.

Now you can add finding brown dwarfs to the list. An article just published in Astrophysical Journal Letters describes a brown dwarf discovered with the help of four volunteers through an online crowdsourced search.

The project is called Backyard Worlds: Planet 9. When NPR reported on it in February, the focus was on finding the planet that astronomers predict exists at the farthest reaches of the solar system.

(10) EARTH, THE FINAL FRONTIER. “This is exactly what Captain Kirk was portrayed as trying to do in the beginning scenes of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier,” David Klaus points out. “I didn’t think it actually was physically possible to do, and the ability to make such a climb was part of the fictional Star Trek future.” — “‘Free solo’ climber conquers El Capitan without rope, safety gear”

Alex Honnold, a celebrated 31-year-old rock climber, on Saturday became the first person to scale Yosemite’s El Capitan, a nearly 3,000-foot granite wall, without using ropes or other safety gear, according to National Geographic

(11) DUFF DOINGS. Down Under Fan Fund delegate Paul Weimer tweets more highlights from the New Zealand leg of his trip.

(12) WISCON. In “That was Wiscon!”, Sigrid Ellis has both favorable things to say about the con, and some other specific observations bracketed by the following excerpts.

Wiscon still has room for improvement in areas of social justice, but this year was certainly better than five years ago. I think it helps that a number of people No Longer Feel Welcome at Wiscon and have decided to go to OddCon instead. Which, is sad for people who liked OddCon, but good for Wiscon.€¦

(A note on Not Feeling Welcome at Wiscon: If you no longer feel welcome at Wiscon because people criticize you and tell you you are saying and doing bigoted things, perhaps you should examine that in your heart. Listen. Read up on the topic. Challenge your views. Think on it a while. Perhaps, apologize. Perhaps grow as a person. Or, you know, clutch your bigotry to your chest and flounce away on a cloud of hurt privilege and drama. That’s a choice you can make, sure, why not.)

(12) TO SEE THE UNSEEN. The Washington Post’s Julie Zauzmer discusses how children’s book author Marissa Moss decided to make her memoir of her husband’s death, Last Things, a graphic novel in order to best convey her emotions about her husband’s death: “In graphic memoir, children’s author aims to show adults what they don’t see about death”.

…Part of the problem, Moss said, is that American culture isolates death from everyday life, cordoning off the messy experiences of illness and grief in hospital rooms and nursing homes. Most people don’t see the ill or bereaved until they become the mourner themselves.

With her memoir “Last Things,” published last month, Moss becomes one of a growing group of writers attempting to expose these hidden yet universal processes. From tell-all bloggers posting about every stage of sickness and death, to Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg’s “Option B” published after her husband’s untimely death, Moss joins in to illustrate grief — in her case, quite literally.

A prolific children’s book writer best known for her popular “Amelia’s Notebook” series, Moss has been telling stories through a mix of words and pictures for decades. But when she first sat down to create a memoir of Harvey’s illness, she only wrote prose.

Publishers balked. …

(13) CLUB MEETING. The Hugo Award Book Club takes up a popular sequel in “A Closed And Common Orbit — Book Club Review”.

Generic Space Setting

Becky Chambers’ strength is not world building. Both of her books so far feature fungible aliens from central casting, off-the-shelf worlds, and a feel-good interstellar society not dissimilar from the United Federation of Planets.

But this is actually not a bad thing, since digging into the world doesn’t detract from what’s important in the book: the relationships and the characters. Numerous novels in recent years have been marred by too much focus on the universe, and not enough focus on the characters.

(14) WE’RE HERE. At The Bearded Trio Paul Gibbs studies the only Name of the Game episode anybody still cares about: “L.A. 2017: A look back at Steven Spielberg’s Early Sci-Fi Time Travel Movie”.

When I first [heard] two years ago that Steven Spielberg had directed a science fiction TV movie called L.A. 2017, I was puzzled. How could I not know about this? I pride myself on my extensive knowledge of Spielberg’s work, and even on the relative completeness of my personal collection (when people try to catch me by asking if the collection includes Duel, I smirk and reply it even includes the far lesser known Something Evil.). How could i not be aware of this one?

(15) TOY TIME. Forbes writer Ollie Barder is excited: “Bandai Unveils Its Perfect Grade Millennium Falcon Model Kit And It Is No Hunk Of Junk”.

For Star Wars fans, Bandai is now the go to resource for the best toys and model kits for the entire franchise. Its latest offering though is all kinds of epic; a massive 1/72 scale Perfect Grade Millennium Falcon kit.

If you are not familiar with the term “Perfect Grade“ that comes from Bandai’s Gundam model kit, or gunpla, line. It’s the highest grade in terms of complexity, gimmicks, detailing, scale and price. The results are usually incredibly though and I have availed myself of a few of these kits over the years, so I speak from experience here.

In this instance, the Millennium Falcon matches the same 1/72 scale as its X-Wing and TIE Fighter kits, so you can totally do a huge nerdy diorama if you so wish.

The size thing is a big point here, as this kit is massive. It’s also gimmick ridden and full of lights and a removable cockpit cover.

 

[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus, Chip Hitchcock, Joe H., Cat Rambo, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 5/30/17 When A Pixel Meets A Pixel, Scrolling Through The Rye

(1) CATREON. Cat Rambo has updated her Patreon appeal video.

(2) WHERE’S WEIMER? DUFF traveler Paul Weimer has reached Hobbiton in New Zealand.

(3) OPTION. Steve Davidson announced that the Experimenter Publishing Company has formed Experimenter Media LLC to develop the Amazing Stories name.

Amazing Stories, the iconic title of the world’s first science fiction magazine and the title of a well-known Steven Spielberg helmed 1980s anthology show, has been optioned for a multi-year deal with Experimenter Media LLC, a newly minted development studio.

The title was previously optioned by NBC/Universal Television in 2015.

Experimenter Media intends to develop the show as an anthology series that will showcase top quality writing by some of the greatest Science Fiction authors in the field.

(4) SAUR PRAISE. “Several-day trips provide a good way to (try) catch(ing) up on my sf (deadtree) magazine reading,” says Daniel Dern. “The highlight for this past weekend was Richard Chedwyk’s latest ‘saur’ story, ‘The Man Who Put the Bomp,’ in F&SF, March/April 2017.

“If you’re a long(-enough) regular reader of F&SF (since 2000, based on info I’m about to cite), you’ve been enjoying these charmingly delightful ‘Saur Stories’ (including the 2004 Nebula short story “Bronte’s Egg”).

“I wouldn’t dream of spoiling your reading enjoyment with any actual details. I will say that this story answers or at least addresses some of the questions about the saurs. Although not all.”

Here’s F&SF’s “Gallery of Covers for Richard Chwedyk’s Saur Stories”

(5) GIVE ME THAT OLD TIME RELIGION. Can this job be automated? “Robot priest delivers blessings in five different languages”:

The video shows a man selecting one of five languages from a screen on BlessU-2’s chest which prompts the robot to begin reciting Bible verses while raising its arms in the air as its hands began to glow.

“We wanted people to consider if it is possible to be blessed by a machine, or if a human being is needed,” Stephan Krebs of the church responsible for the robot told The Guardian.

Krebs added the robot was not designed to “robotize our church work,” but create a new discussion around religion 500 years after Martin Luther sparked a cultural upheaval by posting his 95 theses to a church in the 16th century.

 

(6) CLASS M PLANET. It may be Earth-sized but, baby! It’s cold outside — “New potentially habitable ‘super-Earth’ orbiting star 21 light years away has just been spotted”.

Astronomers have found a new “super-Earth” circling an M-dwarf star, and it could be habitable. The dwarf star, designated as GJ 625, is around 21 light years away from our solar system and is around 1/3rd the size and mass of the Sun.

Super-Earths are a kind of exoplanet with a greater mass than the Earth, but not exceeding the mass of ice giants such as Neptune or Uranus. Although the term “super-Earth” is generally used to refer to the mass of the planetary body, scientists also use the term to describe planets that are visually larger than Earth.

(7) WHO DAT? While viewing the Paddington 2 trailer, Peter Capaldi’s face popped out at me. Whoever “Mr. Curry” is, the soon-to-be-former Doctor Who is playing him in this movie. Paddington 2 hits UK cinemas on November 10.

Featuring an all-star returning cast of Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, Madeleine Harris and Samuel Joslin with Ben Whishaw as the voice of Paddington and Imelda Staunton as Aunt Lucy and joined by new cast members Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson.

 

(8) IMPERIAL MIDLIFE CRISIS. They say clothes make the man — but what do they make him? “I’ll take the sandtrooper in white: Meet the rebel scum making Star Wars armour sets for a living”.

“I think a lot of the older men are buying it because they’ve always wanted to look like a character from Star Wars but have never been able to afford the originals,” says Edwards. “There is that thinking if you dress up as a stormtrooper and look at yourself in the mirror, then you are transported into the world of Star Wars.”

So, where does a 30-something who wants a piece of the legend go? Not the mass market of sub-£1,000 suits that targets the fancy dresser.

No, they tap a cottage industry of British specialists — Ainsworth’s Shepperton Design Studios, Edwards’ CfO, and RS Prop Masters in the UK.

This trio is busy vacuum forming sheets of white ABS plastic using curved moulds to a 1.5mm thickness, cutting out and assembling around 30 pieces per suit, making straps, body suits, eyepieces, mics, boots and blasters. Prices run from £1,200 — around $1,550.

And in case you were wondering, there are few concessions on size or girth. The original stormtrooper was 5ft 10in and 110lbs. He remains so. The most you can expect is a little extra plastic around the overlapping at the edges if you’re a little large for a stormtrooper.

(9) TODAY’S DAY

Loomis Day

The History of Loomis Day. As with many things, the history of Loomis Day is actually the history of a man, and an event, and how they changed the world to come. Mahlon Loomis was a dentist in the 1800’s who had an idea that had nothing to do with teeth. He knew about the electrical properties of the atmosphere, and like Tesla had conceived of an idea to transmit electricity through the air to a distant location. His idea was, perhaps, off a bit. He thought to ‘charge’ a layer of the atmosphere to create an electrical conduit between two metal towers set high on mountaintops (Sound familiar?). What we find interesting about this entire process is that in the end, most if not all of Loomis’s theories on how the atmosphere worked and, indeed, how his own apparatus worked were completely wrong.

Click here for the rest of the story.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born May 30, 1908  — Mel Blanc, voice of Bugs Bunny and many, many others cartoon characters.
  • Born May 30 — Anna Feruglio Dal Dan
  • Born May 30 — Ross Chamberlain
  • Born May 30 — Paul Oldroyd
  • Born May 30 — Nancy Lebovitz

(11) LISTEN UP. Seven of Laura Resnick’s “Esther Diamond” stories are available from Graphic Audio.

(12) CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR. Dave Farland tells Writers of the Future entrants who didn’t reach the highest rungs “Why You Only Got an Honorable Mention”.

Right now on my computer, I have a story up. I’ve read the first two pages, and although I’m a little soft on the opening paragraph, the rest of the first page is quite intriguing. My reaction is, “Looks like I’ll have to read this one.” In other words, I’m looking forward to reading it. I’m hoping that it can be a grand prize winner. I’m hoping that someday I’ll be able to say, “I was the one who discovered this author.”

Why do I feel that I have to read this particular story? First off, it has an engaging idea at its core. I know that from the first page. Second, the author is writing with clarity and grace. Third, the pacing is just right. In short, there are a lot of good things happening here for a first page.

Stories that keep me reading all the way through will almost always get an Honorable Mention. That’s my way of saying, “You’re writing almost at a professional level, but this one didn’t quite do it for me.” Or better yet, “I’d really like to see more from you. Keep trying!”

There are four simple reasons why a story may not rise above Honorable Mention.

* The idea for the story isn’t particularly fresh or interesting. You may not realize it, but the basic concept of your story has probably been done before. For example, let’s say that you decide to write a story about “Zombie Sharecroppers.” Great. You might write it beautifully, and I might get through the entire tale and enjoy it. But ultimately I have to look at it and ask, “Is the basic tenet of the story fresh and original? Did the author give it a surprise twist that lifted it above similar stories?” If the answer to both of those questions is no, then it will probably not get higher than an Honorable Mention. You’ll need to come at me next time with a fresh idea….

(13) SURROUNDED BY ALIENS. In the Washington Post, Ben Guarino uses the release of Alien: Covenant to discuss what we know about parasites, concluding that the notion in the Alien franchise that “a parasite could become a hybrid of human and host organism…has some scientific merit.”– “Disgusting ‘Alien’ movie monster not as horrible as real things in nature”.

The new film, according to Washington Post critic Ann Hornaday, is “a largely turgid, often thoroughly unpleasant affair.” Savvy moviegoers certainly expect some amount of unpleasantness — that sensation being par for the course whenever egg-laying parasites are involved.

But for all the cinematic aliens’ gravid grotesquerie, there exists a world where they would simply be chumps. It is a place crawling with more deceptive, more horrible things. Welcome to Earth.

The inhabitants of our planet directly inspired “Alien” screenwriter Dan O’Bannon and director Ridley Scott. O’Bannon in part looked to horror writer H.P. Lovecraft and previous works of science fiction. But he also plumbed the depths of nature, patterning “the Alien’s life cycle on real-life parasites,” as he said in his 2003 essay “Something Perfectly Disgusting.”

(14) FINELY TUNED EAR. Can you tell which track was written by computer? “For Video Soundtracks, Computers Are The New Composers”.

Four years later, Villegas, who works at a technical college, has a side business doing product reviews on his YouTube channel. He found that adding a little music really improved his videos.

“It just adds that third dimension that is missing sometimes,” he says.

But he hit a snag. Music is expensive. Villegas would either have to pay for rights or pay a composer.

“I upload weekly,” Villegas says. “So for me to pay a composer for 52 separate custom songs … wouldn’t make sense in the return on investment for me.”

Then Villegas discovered Jukedeck, a company that creates and sells computer-generated music. Jukedeck charges as little as 99 cents a track for a small business and $21.99 for a large business.

Chip Hitchcock comments, “The human track is by Vivaldi; IMO this means the program might be able to play checkers, but it’s a long way from winning at go.”

(15) BUBBLE AND SQUEAK. Preserving the sounds of old computers: “Fossils Of Technology: ‘The Imitation Archive’ Turns Near-Extinct Machines Into Music”.

Computers are part of the everyday sounds of our times — for a while. But as each new digital device slips into inevitable obsolescence, so do their signature sounds. Composer Matt Parker thought that meant losing touch with some of our history — so, he’s has created an archive of 126 sound recordings from the historic computers of Bletchley Park, the site where British mathematicians, scientists and spies broke German’s military codes during World War II. And he’s worked those sounds into a new series of musical compositions on an album called The Imitation Archive.

(16) THE GLASS HARMONICA CEILING. “The woman who could ‘draw’ music” (but was ignored because sound engineering was man’s work).

Few people know Daphne Oram, but she helped shape the sounds, and songs, we listen to today. A pioneer of electronic music, she wrote Still Point — thought to be the world’s first composition which manipulates electronic sounds in real time — in 1949. In 1957, she set up the famous BBC Radiophonic Workshop. The same year, she began working on her Oramics machine, which turned graphical gestures into music: the user could ‘draw’ the sounds they wished to hear.

(17) RUN SILENT, RUN DEEP. Wouldn’t you know it belongs to Microsoft? “Inside the quietest place on Earth”.

If LeSalle Munroe stands still for a few moments in his “office”, something unsettling can happen — he can hear the blood rushing around his body and his eyes squelch as they move in his skull.

While many people work in places filled with the tip-tap of keyboards, the hubbub of chatter from colleagues and a constant hum of computers, Munroe is surrounded by almost total silence. His office is the quietest place on the planet.

The specially constructed chamber is hidden in the depths of Building 87 at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington, where the firm’s hardware laboratories are based. Products like the Surface computers, Xbox and Hololens have all been developed here. Microsoft’s engineers built the room — known as an anechoic chamber — to help them test new equipment they were developing and in 2015 it set the official world record for silence when the background noise level inside was measured at an ear-straining -20.6 decibels.

(18) HE’S MAD, YOU KNOW. Wikipedia’s Featured Article for May 30 — “Harvey Kurtzman’s Jungle Book”:

Harvey Kurtzman’s Jungle Book is a graphic novel by American cartoonist Harvey Kurtzman, published in 1959. Kurtzman aimed it at an adult audience, in contrast to his earlier work for adolescents in periodicals such as Mad. The social satire in the book’s four stories targets Peter Gunn-style private-detective shows, Westerns such as Gunsmoke, capitalist avarice in the publishing industry, Freudian pop psychology, and lynch-hungry yokels in the South. Kurtzman’s character Goodman Beaver makes his first appearance in one of the stories.

Kurtzman created the satirical Mad in 1952, but left its publisher EC Comics in 1956 after a dispute over financial control. After two failed attempts with similar publications, Kurtzman proposed Jungle Book as an all-original cartoon book to Ballantine Books to replace its successful series of Mad collections, which had moved to another publisher….

(19) LONDON TOWN. If you want to hear more about London Comic Con than just Flash Gordon and The Hulk throwing tantrums, read the BBC’s mini-interviews with cosplayers and creators who were there.

Comic book illustrator Karen Rubins

“I’m here to sell my comics and prints and meet people who like my work.

“I work for a comic called The Phoenix with a strip called The Shivers by Dan Hartwell, and our characters include girl heroes solving mysteries and standing up to supernatural threats.

“In the comic village here at Comic Con there’s at least 50% female artists and it’s a great space to work, it’s really inclusive and there’s loads of different comics you can discover.”

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

Pixel Scroll 5/25/17 Eight Pixels High And Scrolling For Touchdown

(1) FORTIETH ANNIVERSARY. Today’s the day. Aaron Couch of The Hollywood Reporter, in “‘Star Wars’: Unsung Heroes Finally Share Their Stories”, looks at the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, focusing on all the special effects people who made Star Wars great and how no one was sure at the time that the film would be a hit.

Well, not “no one.” There were all the people who had bought 20th Century-Fox stock in the months before it opened and boosted its price before I saw a screening and had that idea myself. I remember talking with somebody who managed a portfolio for the Hughes Aircraft pension plan who said I’d already missed the bargain. Somebody expected it to be a hit.

Star Wars went to San Diego Comic-Con in 1976, and people weren’t all that excited.

To lure an audience to a panel about an unknown property, the Star Wars promotional team employed star power from Marvel Comics, bringing writer Roy Thomas and artist Howard Chaykin to talk about their Star Wars comic book adaptation. Marketing head Charles Lippincott spent time at a table chatting with people and selling posters … which unfortunately for them, few people kept.

“I think they were $1.75 and that poster now is still available on the collector’s market — and it’s one of the two most expensive posters you can buy on the collector market because people didn’t keep them,” recalls Craig Miller, who worked as a publicity assistant. “It sells for two or three thousand dollars now.”

Yes, Miller does have one in his personal collection. (Saving pays off!)

(2) SHOULD HAVE QUIT WHILE HE WAS AHEAD. The BBC’s Nicholas Barber argues “Why Star Wars should have stopped at just one film”. Try not to hurt yourself laughing.

…A New Hope would be a lot more intriguing today if every other episode had been left to our imaginations –to playground games, to pub discussions, to self-published fan fiction. Instead, the episodes which did come along answered its questions, solved its mysteries, filled in its blanks and narrowed its mythical scope to the prosaic tussles within one dysfunctional family. The prequels demystified the iconic villain of A New Hope by showing him as a grumpy brat, while the most recent sequel, The Force Awakens, devalued its victory by showing us how ultimately pointless it was: not only did evil prevail, but two of the heroes (Han Solo and Princess Leia) had a son who grew up to be a genocidal, patricidal maniac….

(3) PHOENIX COMICON. Police may have averted a serious incident at a Phoenix convention — “Armed man arrested at Phoenix Comicon after struggling with police”.

A man armed with multiple guns at Phoenix Comicon is now in police custody.

Police say the 30-year-old Valley man was taken into custody Thursday afternoon for allegedly threatening to cause harm to Phoenix officers.

According to officials, the man was taking pictures of officers and was found at Comicon with three handguns and one shotgun. He also had knives and ammunition.

Police say the man was inside the Phoenix Convention Center and struggled with officers before he was detained.

(4) THE DOCTOR AFFECTED BY LATEST U.K. INCIDENT. Radio Times says “Doctor Who episode edited for Saturday airing following Manchester bombing”.

This week’s episode of BBC sci-fi series Doctor Who will have a section of dialogue removed as a mark of respect to victims of Monday night’s terrorist attack in Manchester, RadioTimes.com understands.

The excerpt in question from upcoming story The Pyramid at the End of the World made passing references to terrorism as part of a more general discussion of threats to Earth, but the BBC has decided that as a matter of sensitivity it should be removed.

(5) MOTHERBOARD LOSES A PIONEERING MEMBER. In November, Debbie Notkin resigned from the Tiptree Award committee to free her energy for other causes. This month she posted a farewell message.

Last November, after the disastrous U.S. election results, I resigned from the Tiptree Award motherboard. I have been involved with the award from immediately following Pat Murphy and Karen Joy Fowler’s creation of it more than a quarter of a century ago.

I remain deeply committed to the goals and work of the Tiptree Award. When I was trying to make this difficult decision, several people pointed out to me that the work of supporting transgressive artists is resistance, and I agree wholeheartedly. I just feel personally that it’s time for me to put my energy into other kinds of resistance and response.

(6) STAND BY TO FROTH. James Davis Nicoll fires his latest canon — “Twenty Core Speculative Fiction Works About Science and Scientists Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves”.

As with the previous core lists, here are twenty Speculative Fiction Works about Science and Scientists chosen entirely on the basis of merit and significance to the field [1]. No implication is intended that these are the only twenty books you should consider.

(7) GRAND TURK, WE HAVE A PROBLEM. The Traveler at Galactic Journey is fifteen years too early to see Star Wars but don’t think he lacks for excitement –he’s been watching TV coverage of Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter’s drama-laden mission. “[May 24, 1962] Adrift in Two Oceans (The Flight of Aurora 7)”.

Fun, to be sure, but at the end of the third orbit, Carpenter was in a pickle. Almost out of fuel, the ship misaligned thanks to a balky thruster, and the window for firing his retrorockets sliver-thin, the astronaut fired his braking thrusters a few seconds late. For half an hour, first in the shuddering initial reentry, and then in the chest crushing crashing through the atmosphere, culminating in the gentle sway beneath parachutes before splashdown in the Atlantic, Carpenter had no idea where he would end up.

Neither did the recovery fleet. In fact, Carpenter landed some 250 miles away from where he was supposed to. This did not bother the philosophical spaceman, who spent the next hours relaxing on his inflatable raft, sitting in pleasant companionship with a little black fish nearby. When the boats of the U.S.S. Intrepid finally arrived, hours later, Carpenter was completely calm. In fact, like a good guest, he offered them some of his food.

(8) HALO EFFECT. Mentioning The Saint in Roger Moore’s obituary reminded Cat Eldridge of a passage in Kage Baker’s 2007 review of “Otto Penzler’s The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps”.

It’s easy to grumble about Leslie White’s “The City of Hell!,” a wildly improbable fascist-cop fantasy, but at least the prose is lean and passionate. On the other hand, here is Leslie Charteris, clearly being paid by the word in “The Invisible Millionaire.” After 35 pages of coy overdescription and endless adoring references to the Saint’s perfect features, your correspondent was ready to go out and bitch-slap Roger Moore. And was it really necessary to include an entire badly-written novel (“The Crimes of Richmond City”) by Frederick Nebel? He may have been one of the seminal pulp writers, but surely a short story from him would have satisfied honor….

(9) MORE WHEATON COOLNESS. You can expect to find Wil Wheaton on Mystery Science Theatre 3000 before too long.

I have a small part on the first episode of MST3K’s first revival episode. Erin Gray and I get to deliver all the exposition about Jonah’s backstory. It’s pretty great, and this was a freaking dream come true for me.

(10) TODAY’S DAYS

  • Geek Pride Day

The idea for dedicating a day to celebrating geekiness originated in Spain in 2006 when Spanish blogger German Martinez, who chose the day to coincide with the 1977 release of Star Wars. Geek Pride Day spread rapidly across the internet and, soon after, the world, drawing attention from mainstream media as well.One of the events organized to celebrate this day was in Madrid when 300 geeks played a game of a human Pacman together. A list of the basic rights and responsibilities of geeks was also written up. The rights include “The right to not like football or any other sport” and “The right to not be ‘in-style’”, and the responsibilities include “Attend every geeky movie on opening night and buy every geeky book before anyone else.”

  • Towel Day

A tribute to Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, Towel Day sees fans of the author and the book carrying towels with them to work, to school and as part of their daily activities.

The most important thing that you need to remember in order to celebrate is DON’T PANIC; no matter what the day throws at you, draw comfort from the knowledge that you’re armed with your trusty towel.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • May 25, 1977 — Star Wars was released in theaters. (You may have caught a few hints about this earlier in the Scroll….)

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born May 25, 1944 –Frank Oz, of Muppets fame.

(13) DON’T FORGET TO WRITE. Great series of tweets about entering the writing profession by Nick Mamatas (via John Scalzi). It starts here —

(14) TALLYING REPRESENTATION. “GLAAD on LGBTQ representation in film: ‘It is not getting better’”The Verge has the story.

GLAAD released its annual report on LGBTQ representation in film today, and the numbers are bleak. They’ve barely increased since 2015, and when broken out into more specific demographics, they often got worse.

Overall, representation of lesbian, gay, transgender, or queer characters was slightly higher in 2016 than 2015. GLAAD reports that 18.4 percent of the industry’s top 125 films included a LGBTQ character. However, gay men still make up a whopping 83 percent of these characters, and of the 70 LGBTQ characters that GLAAD identified (up from 47 the year before), 14 of them were back-up dancers in one musical number in The Lonely Island’s summer comedy Popstar.

Racial diversity in films with LGBTQ representation decreased in 2016, with characters played by people of color down to 20 percent from 25.5 percent in 2015 and 32.1 percent in 2014.

Here is the link to the report itself — “2017 GLAAD Studio Responsibility Index”.

The GLAAD Studio Responsibility Index (SRI) maps the quantity, quality and diversity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people in films released by the seven major motion picture studios during the 2016 calendar year. GLAAD researched films released by 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios and Warner Brothers, as well as films released by four subsidiaries of these major studios. The report is intended to serve as a road map toward increasing fair, accurate and inclusive LGBTQ representation in film.

(15) PUBLICITY. Meanwhile, the gender disparity in publishing industry PR is measured by Breaking the Glass Slipper’s article “Gender parity in publisher PR”.

Results at a glance

Statistically, Orbit came in as the worst for gender disparity. Every single newsletter I opened was skewed in favour of their male authors. Men were mentioned over three times more often and also featured over three times more often.

Then you have a sliding scale. Rebellion’s parity was generally poor, as was Hodder, Gollancz and Voyager’s –though I received far fewer newsletters from them. Angry Robot achieved near parity between April –October 16, but for unknown reasons, the remainder of the year wasn’t as equal.

Tor.com was the only publisher who regularly featured more women than men, but this was almost solely as authors of articles and short stories published online.

These graphs only record the frequency of simple mentions. Another avenue of interest might be to follow the PR level of books once they’re published compared to the build-up beforehand. Some titles drop off the radar entirely, while others go from strength to strength. If that were tracked, I wonder whether this trend would continue?

(16) SPACE JAM. Dan Tepfer is a pianist and composer whose new album, Eleven Cages, is due out next Friday. He also maintains a keen interest in science — especially astrophysics, the subject of his undergraduate degree. WBGO asked him to elaborate on some recent findings in a faraway solar system, and he came back with this absorbing lesson in the music of planetary orbits: “Dan Tepfer, Pianist and Science Enthusiast, Walks Us Through the Music of the Cosmos “.

Watching the video below made me happy. It brings together two of the things I love most, astrophysics and music. It’s very unusual to find these two subjects talked about seriously in the same sentence, and even rarer when they are able, as in this video, to complement and illuminate each other. Watch as the orbits of planets around a distant star are expressed in sound:

 

I’m a jazz musician, but I studied astrophysics for my bachelor’s and have always loved science, so it feels natural to me that these two worlds belong together. Thinking about natural processes and mathematics has informed my composing for a long time. And while many artists remain math-adverse, there’s a small but significant number of musicians who think along similar lines. (Composer and saxophonist Steve Coleman, whom I heard at the Village Vanguard last week, is an inspiration to many in this regard, and has used orbital ratios in his work.)

So, what’s going on in this video? How, in the first place, were these orbits figured out? It’s only in the past 25 years that we’ve been able to detect planets in orbit around stars other than our own. This is mainly done indirectly, by (for example) measuring faint dips in a star’s brightness as planets pass in front of it….

(17) WINGING IT IN THERE. Perhaps Devenski should also yell ‘Dracarys!’ when he throws his fastball. MLB.com’s Cut4 reports “The Astros have a perfect ‘Game of Thrones’ bobblehead planned for Chris ‘Dragon’ Devenski”.

(18) WHERE PAPER IS KING. Not that you’ve never been to a bookstore before, but if you want a peek at what Amazon is doing in the Big Apple, Recode takes you “Inside Amazon’s first New York City bookstore”.

Inside, it’s brightly lit with a subtle warmth. And the first table, right inside the door, shows the kind of data-informed curation that Amazon seems to be aiming for: “Highly Rated” books, rated 4.8 stars and above — on Amazon’s website, of course.

Amazon uses its data throughout the store, including up-to-date star reviews on title cards for each book, as well as for other curation.

Here’s my favorite example: An endcap called “Page Turners,” consisting of books that Kindle readers finish in three days or less. Clever.

(19) NAME IN THE NEWS. Chinese sf writer Hao Jingfang’s new celebrity as the winner of a 2016 Hugo has already gained her an automobile endorsement.

Narrator: In the face of the unfamiliar and the unknown, there are a group of people who are fearless to march. To go beyond all the achievements. To imagine. To open up a new world. You are the first ones to create history when others are hesitating. Every owner of Audi is igniting the fire for change.

Ma Long is the first male Full Grand Slam winner in table tennis.
Hao Jingfang is the first female writer to win the Hugo Awards for Best Novelette.
Cheng Congfu is the first Chinese racing driver to compete in 24 Hours of Le Mans.

 

Of course, she is not the first women to win the Best Novelette category — that was Joan D. Vinge in 1978. Nor is even unusual for women to win the category — they’ve now done so four of the past five years. But it’s great to see another sf writer in commercials.

And is there something about novelette writers that attracts ad agencies? Don’t forget that Harlan Ellison had won three Best Novelette Hugos by the time they hired him to plug the 1988 Geo Metro.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, ULTRAGOTHA, Chip Hitchcock, Early Grey Editing, Brandy Wood, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, and Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 5/24/17 Hives And Filers Were Spawned To be Released

(1) COLLATERAL DAMAGE. This week’s terrorist bombing in the U.K. has quashed Wonder Woman’s London premiere.

Warner Bros. has canceled its Wonder Woman premiere in London, following Monday’s terrorist attack following an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena.

“Our thoughts are with those affected by the recent tragedy in the U.K.,” the studio said in a statement. “In light of the current situation, we will not be proceeding with our plans for the Wonder Woman premiere and junket activities in London.”

The red carpet event had been scheduled for May 31…

(2) STAR POWER AHEAD. Vanity Fair’s “Cover Story: Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the Definitive Preview” includes great cast photos.

The first trip to Skellig Michael was wondrous: an hour-long boat ride to a craggy, green island off the coast of Ireland’s County Kerry, and then a hike up hundreds of stone steps to a scenic cliff where, a thousand years earlier, medieval Christian monks had paced and prayed. This is where Mark Hamill reprised his role as Luke Skywalker for the first time since 1983, standing opposite Daisy Ridley, whose character, Rey, was the protagonist of The Force Awakens, J. J. Abrams’s resumption of George Lucas’s Star Wars movie saga….

“When I read the script for Episode VIII, I went, “Oh my God, we’re going back?’ Because I said I was never going back,” Hamill told me when I sat down with him recently at his home in Malibu. He wondered, in vain, if they could drop him in by chopper this time, “which is so clueless of me, because there’s no landing pad, and it would mar the beauty of it all,” he said. Hamill is a youthful 65 but a sexagenarian nevertheless; whereas the fit young members of the crew were given 45 minutes to get up to the now iconic Rey-Luke meeting spot — carrying heavy equipment — Hamill was allotted an hour and a half, “and I had to stop every 10, 15 minutes to rest.”

None of this was offered up in the form of complaint. Hamill just happens to be a rambling, expansive talker — in his own way, as endearingly offbeat a character as his friend and on-screen twin sister, Carrie Fisher, who passed away suddenly and tragically last December. Like Fisher, Hamill was put on a diet-and-exercise regimen after he was reconscripted into the Star Wars franchise. (Harrison Ford was under less obligation, having retained his leading-man shape because he never stopped being a leading man.) Over a spartan snack plate of carrot sticks and hummus, the man behind Luke held forth at length on this subject.

(3)WHY HE USES THE OXFORD COMMIE. James Davis Nicoll wants your suggestions for book to review in his new series Reds Under the Bed.

Subversives! They lurk everywhere! They could be anyone, from the kindly couple next door to the innocent seeming nuclear researcher mailing thick bundles to Moscow every week, from your child’s teacher to the President himself! Even you could be an unsuspecting brainwashed puppet of the enemy!

There have been many noteworthy works about the hidden enemy. Some were even readable. Many will be reviewed.

(4) A TIE OF A DIFFERENT COLOR. Love this art — and shouldn’t they be able to make a tie that actually animates the way it does in the ad? Think how many of those they could sell this Father’s Day. “Coffee & Donuts DIY Coloring Book Tie”.

Colorfully formal

The fun part about getting a tie that you can color is that you can choose how formal you get to be. Casual Friday? Draw some some chocolate sprinkles on those donuts. Wearing a tux? We mean, you could just color the whole thing black – we aren’t stopping you. Although, we wouldn’t say drawing a vibrant rainbow donut is a bad idea either. Hint hint. Color in your perfect neck-wear with the Coffee & Donuts DIY Coloring Book Tie. Get those creativity wheels turning for you to unleash on the world. The only thing we don’t encourage is spilling actual coffee on it. Save the impressionist art for another day.

(5) OLD FAVES. At Tor.com Natalie Zutter explains “Why I Stopped Reading The Queen’s Thief Series”. The answer is surprisingly simple.

My best friend handed me Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief probably shortly after its publication in 1996, at a point where we had read through all of Tamora Pierce’s then-current body of work and were slowly going mad waiting for the next installment. The Thief was the logical recommendation for a next read: Gen was small and sassy like Alanna, stubbornly self-reliant even when the gods decided to take an interest in his business, and as creative an interpretation of the thief archetype as Alanna is with knighthood. It was also, I think, the first fantasy novel that actually bowled me over with its twist. The stuff I had read before then — ”The Song of the Lioness, The Blue Sword, etc. — kept me enthralled simply exploring every inch of their lush worlds, but The Thief set up expectations and then swiftly subverted them.

It was such a perfect standalone novel that I remember initially being leery of the sequel. But then 2000’s The Queen of Attolia, true to the brutal ruler after which it’s named, upped the ante with a devastating act of violence early on that forever alters Gen’s identity. Suddenly, instead of a thief or trickster he is neither, simply a beloved protagonist coping with the unimaginable. By the end of the book, our worldview — both as readers and as participants in the ongoing conflict among Sounis, Eddis, and Attolia — has radically shifted. So why didn’t I continue on with The King of Attolia, published in 2006? For one, I didn’t even know that a third installment existed. Around that time, I met new fantasy heroines in Rani Trader (from Mindy Klasky’s The Glasswrights’ Apprentice) and Mel Astiar (from Sherwood Smith’s Crown Duel) and forgot all about Gen.

But twenty years after I read The Thief, Turner’s series has stolen my attention back….

(6) HELP BAEN DESIGN CHALLENGE COINS. Baen Books is calling on their fans for suggestions about a planned set of souvenir coins.

Challenge coins, which began as a military tradition, have become a widely recognized way of showing membership and boosting morale. Collectors have spent thousands of dollars tracking down coins but now you can get a full set of Baen coins for free!

We’ve commissioned artist Jack Wylder (of Monster Hunter Nation fame) to design a set of 12 Baen Challenge Coins, and we’d like your input on designs! What do you think should go on coins representing the following four series?

Tom Kratman’s Carreraverse

John Ringo’s Posleen Wars

Travis S. Taylor’s Tau Ceti Agenda

Michael Z. Williamson’s Freehold

Please email your design ideas to PR@baen.com with “Baen Challenge Coin Design”in the subject line. Submissions must be in by Memorial Day (May 29th). If your design is selected, you will win a free coin when they’re minted, so be sure to include a mailing address in your idea submissions. The winning design across all four series (as voted on by the Baen team and our authors) will receive a full set of all 12 coins–and the exclusive Baen bonus coin! We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

(7) WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE COMIC? NPR has opened the digital voting booths — “It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane … It’s Our Comics And Graphic Novels Reader Poll!”

Here at NPR headquarters in DC, MARVELous IMAGEs and FANTAstic GRAPHICS are dancing in our heads as we contemplate this year’s edition of our famous Summer Reader Poll — who will make the cut? Will it be packed with old favorites or BOOM! Will a DARK HORSE muscle in?

Oh god, we can’t keep this up anymore. Let’s just come right out and say it: This summer, we’re celebrating comics and graphic novels, and we need your help! Whether it’s a dogeared childhood treasure, the latest Eisner award winner or the webcomic you binge-read last week, tell us about it using the form on this page.

Based on what you tell us, our expert panel of comics creators, reviewers — and geeks — will curate a final list of 100 favorite comics…

(8) HIGHLY SPECIALIZED. Enjoy Atlas Obscura’s “Ultimate List of Wonderfully Specific Museums”. Cat Eldridge sends the link with a note: “There is here in this city a museum devoted to umbrella covers. And of course we have the world famous International Cryptozoological Museum…”

A lot of them seem really interesting, despite a few doubtful-sounding entries like The Museum of Celebrity Leftovers

(9) WORLD FANTASY CON MEMBERSHIPS TO RISE. World Fantasy 2017 will be held in San Antonio, Texas from November 2-5.

WFC2017 attending membership rates will be go up on June 1 to $275. Supporting memberships will remain at $50. Currently attending memberships are $225 and have been held at this rate for over 6 months. Memberships are available for immediate purchase at various conventions, online at http://www.wfc2017.org, and by postal mail. Attending memberships will be transferable until either September 1, 2017, or when 850 memberships are sold, whichever comes first.

The guests of honor of World Fantasy 2017 are David Mitchell, Karen Joy Fowler, Greg Manchess, and Gordon Van Gelder, with Martha Wells as the Toastmaster.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • May 24, 1985 — H.P. Lovecraft’s classic tale comes to the big screen in Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator, first seen on this day.
  • May 24, 2003 — Crop circle discovered in Haysville, Kansas.

(11) SHUT UP AND DEAL. The Spinoff invites us to follow along: “Let’s play — Legendary: the Marvel Deck Building Game”.

…There will be Marvel-themed poetry slams by 2020. Until then, Marvel Legendary is here to perform a hostile takeover in the board game scene — and it’s eerily addictive. My board game dealer, Douglas Moore, opened up his trench coat and gave me a free hit.

As you are my guest, dear Liam, I’ll let you pick the heroes we will play with. Given the three sets I have crammed in here, I should be able to pick them ou-

I like Dr. Strange. Can I be Dr. Strange?

*sigh* OK, I don’t have Dr Strange. He’s from the Secret Wars Expansion… I think. Try again.

Can I be Wolverine?

Will that be X-Men Wolverine or X-Force Wolverine?

Oooooh, X-force please!

So what I have here are the hero cards for just one hero. We need to shuffle them in with four others to form the hero deck we will be recruiting from.

…can I choose Nightcrawler?

Yes, ya can.

…and Storm? …and Spider-Man? …and Groot?

Yes, yes, and yeeesssssss. I’ll go ahead and set up the rest of the game….

(12) ALIEN TOUCH. GeekTyrant says “Ridley Scott Working on a Sci-Fi Series Lineup for TNT”.

With the release of Alien: Covenant this past weekend comes news that the movie’s director, Ridley Scott, is developing a Science Fiction block of programming for the cable network TNT. Scott will develop one night of original sci-fi programming that will showcase several formats including an hour long series, short form programs and other formats in collaboration with TNT.

(13) JEOPARDY. An answer from last night’s Jeopardy!

The correct question is what is Andy Weir’s book, The Martian?

(14) A LATE-HATCHING EASTER EGG. PopSugar has been hitting the books: “Here’s Another Harry Potter Detail We Can’t Believe We Never Noticed Before”.

J.K. Rowling always surprises us with the amount of detail she poured into Harry Potter, and it feels like every day we learn something new about the series. Reddit user SunshineallDay’s fan theory provides more evidence of how much Rowling hid in her books.

It might be hard to catch when you’re first reading, but look a little closer and you’ll see it. The fun Easter egg shows how Hermione’s character learned Wizard Baruffio wasn’t the most intelligent in The Sorcerer’s Stone from Professor Flitwick. Later in The Order of the Phoenix, Harry and Ron are tempted to drink Baruffio’s Brain Elixir before their O.W.L.s, but Hermione clearly recalls their lesson and pours the drink down the toilet. An image from the books highlighting these two passages is below….

(15) THIS FELL OUT OF THE WRINKLE IN TIME. An item old enough to be new. Cynthia Zarin’s 2004 New Yorker profile about Madeleine L’Engle, “The Storyteller”.

I once asked L’Engle to define “science fiction.”She replied, “Isn’t everything?”On another occasion, in the vast, sunny apartment in a building on West End Avenue where she has lived since 1960, and where she and her late husband, the actor Hugh Franklin, brought up their three children, she offered an example. “I was standing right there, carrying a plate of cold cuts,”she said, pointing at a swinging door between the dining room and the pantry. “And I swooped into the pantry, bang, and got a black eye. It was exactly as if someone pushed me.”At eighty-five, L’Engle is a formidable figure. She is five feet nine in her stocking feet, and uses a wheelchair owing to a broken hip. She has a birdlike head, a sharp nose, and an air of helpless innocence that is almost entirely put on. She wore a loose-fitting dress in one of her favorite colors, peacock blue. “Most likely,”she continued firmly, “it was a poltergeist. There must have been a teen-age girl in the house. All that energy! They create the best atmosphere for them, you know. We don’t know how to catch and harness it.”She nodded. “Too true of most things.”

(16) INCONCEIVABLE! Aussiecon II guest of honor Gene Wolfe, joking about his out-of-print books, said that the difference between a fanzine editor and a professional publisher is that if a faned sells all the copies of his fanzine, he’ll print more.

— So can this Marvel Comics news item really be true?

An alliance for the ages — Amadeus Cho joining forces with Old Man Logan, Sabretooth, Domino, Warpath, and Lady Deathstrike to battle the new Weapon X. Now, this Hulk-sized team-up is about to get even bigger, as Marvel is pleased to announce that TOTALLY AWESOME HULK #19 has sold out and will immediately return for a second printing.

A mysterious new director of the Weapon X program is creating soldiers who threaten the lives of some of the most powerful and deadly heroes the Marvel Universe has ever seen. But the man behind the curtain has now set his sights on a new target: the fearless, gamma-imbued Amadeus Cho. What will become of the Hulk when he is forced to partner with some of Marvel’s deadliest killers and hunters? One thing is for sure — this is a story not to be missed!

(17) WORDS FROM A MASTER. Fantasy-Faction scored an interview with Bernard Cornwell.

  1. SEAN BEAN AND SHARPE

FF: Sean Bean is renowned for his repeated and progressively messier mortality on both the large and the small screen.

Surely this means there is one book at least still to write: “Sharpe’s Death“?

BC: There is another Sharpe book to be written, maybe more than one, but none of them will be called Sharpe’s Death!

He’s immortal.

(18) SUMMER IS COMING. Another season of Game of Thrones begins July 16.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Phil Nichols, Cat Eldridge, Mark-kitteh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day IanP.]

Pixel Scroll 5/23/17 Pixel, Pixel, Scroll, Scroll, Know What I Mean? Say No More

(1) ZENO’S MARTIAN THEOREM. You can’t get to Mars before you…“The first trip to Mars will come with the longest layover ever”

Nobody likes layovers, but the first astronauts heading to Mars will get to experience one of the longest such experiences of their lives. They’ll have to spend one year going around the moon, which will probably be a very annoying wait for the first people heading to the red planet. It’s not all bad news, however, as they won’t just wait for time to pass by. NASA actually wants to make sure that the round trip to Mars, a 1,000-day endeavor, is carefully planned during the time.

NASA’s Greg Williams, revealed that the agency’s Phase 2 of its plan to send humans to Mars includes a one-year layover in orbit around the moon in the late 2020s, Space reports..

Williams, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for policy and plans at the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, revealed that NASA wants to build a “deep-space gateway” around the moon that would serve as the testing ground for the first Mars missions.

(2) ZUBRIN’S MARTIAN KERFUFFLE. Joel Achenbach’s article for the Washington Post, “Mars Society founder blasts NASA for ‘worst plan yet’”, reports on a space exploration conference sponsored by The Atlantic in which Robert Zubrin said NASA’s plan to build a space station orbiting the moon is a giant waste of money because no one before this suggested Mars expeditions needed to have a midway stop before.

Until recently, NASA branded virtually everything it was doing as part of a “Journey to Mars,”and Mars remains the horizon goal. The destination was even mandated in a recent congressional authorization act for NASA that was signed by President Trump.

In the meantime, NASA has more modest plans — and these plans don’t please Zubrin, for one.

NASA wants to put a “spaceport”in orbit around the moon. It would be a habitat for astronauts on long-duration missions. You could call it a “space station”if you wanted, though it wouldn’t be nearly as big as the one that’s circling the Earth right now. NASA refers to it as the Deep Space Gateway and describes it as “a crew tended spaceport in lunar orbit.

…After the presentations, Zubrin gave The Post some additional thoughts on what he perceives as NASA’s failure to come up with a bold and coherent plan. He said that in the long history of NASA studies on the future of human spaceflight — and there is a long list of these lengthy reports — no one ever suggested that an orbital lunar outpost was a necessary part of an exploration program. Part of the problem, as he sees it, is the agency’s recent announcement that the first, uncrewed flight of the Space Launch System rocket will be delayed again, to 2019: “The tragedy of SLS is not that it is being delayed. The tragedy is that it doesn’t matter that it’s being delayed, because there’s nothing for it to launch anyway.”

(3) BACK IN ACTION. After an 8-year break, Elizabeth Moon relaunched her Vatta’s War series in April with Cold Welcome.

(4) EMERGENCY BACKUP. “Justice League director Zack Snyder steps down due to family tragedy”. Joss Whedon comes off the bench to finish the picture.

Zack Snyder, who has acted as DC Comics’ directorial visionary on a number of its most ambitious film projects, is stepping down from Justice League due to a family tragedy. The news, announced in an interview published today by The Hollywood Reporter, means Snyder will be handing the reins over to Avengers director and writer Joss Whedon, who will ferry the project through its remaining post-production stage before its November 17th release later this year.

‘Justice League’ is now in Joss Whedon’s hands

Snyder, whose daughter committed suicide in March at the age of 20, admits that he originally misjudged how the loss would affect his work. “In my mind, I thought it was a cathartic thing to go back to work, to just bury myself and see if that was way through it,”Snyder told The Hollywood Reporter. “The demands of this job are pretty intense. It is all consuming. And in the last two months I’ve come to the realization…I’ve decided to take a step back from the movie to be with my family, be with my kids, who really need me. They are all having a hard time. I’m having a hard time.”

(5) DANCING IN THE SAND. A ballet adaptation of Dune will be performed August 4-6 by the Vaught Contemporary Ballet at the Baltimore Theater Project (45 West Preston Street, Baltimore, MD 21201):

Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, Dune, is widely recognized as the best selling science fiction novel of all time. It’s exploration of politics, religion, sexism and ecology set against an interstellar backdrop allows the reader a reflection on the human condition in the modern era. Herbert’s Fremen of Arrakis provide a counterpoint to a culture consumed by avarice — the desire for melange.

Join us as we depict Herbert’s illustrative words through the art of ballet. Movement will be on full display in its varied definitions as we follow Paul Atreides in his rise to power as both royalty and the prophet of the Fremen.

Keep track of the event on Facebook.

(6) GO GO GO. I don’t pronounce it, I just report it. “Google’s AlphaGo AI defeats world Go number one Ke Jie”The Verge has the story.

Google’s AI AlphaGo has done it again: it’s defeated Ke Jie, the world’s number one Go player, in the first game of a three-part match. AlphaGo shot to prominence a little over a year ago after beating Korean legend Lee Se-dol 4-1 in one of the most potent demonstrations of the power of artificial intelligence to date. And its defeat of Ke shows that it was only getting started.

“I think everyone recognizes that Ke Jie is the strongest human player,”9th-dan professional and commentator Michael Redmond said before the match. And despite defeat, Ke’s strategy suggested that the 19-year-old Chinese prodigy has actually learned from AlphaGo’s often unorthodox approach. “This is Master’s move,”said Redmond of one of Ke’s earliest plays, referring to the pseudonym that AlphaGo used for a recent series of online matches in which it racked up a 60-game winning streak.

(7) COMIC SECTION. A commenter seeing yesterday’s news item about someone in a T-rex costume scaring horses in Charleston aptly contrasted the episode with the comic “Menace” at Hyperbole and a Half.

(8) THE PHENOMENON. Carl Slaughter has an update about prolific YA author Bella Forrest:

 

When we last checked in on Bella Forrest, she had just launched her dystopian Gender Game series and was continuing her longrunning Shade of Vampire series. In June 2017, she will wrap her Gender Game series. In March 2017, she launched her magic academy Spellshadow Manor series. Shade of Vampire is at #45. With all 3 series, she cranks out a book per month. Meanwhile, the first Gender Game novel has received 1500 Amazon reviews, over 90% of them 4 and 5 star.

(9) PUSHME PULLYU. “Oh, your tractor beam is so itty bitty.” “Oh, your imagination is so itty bitty.” —“Physicists sketch plans for a matter-wave tractor beam”.

A team of physicists have outlined a means of making tractor beams to push and pull objects at a distance using “matter waves” those strange analogues of light waves that underlie quantum mechanics.

Tractor beams, staple tools of science fiction for remotely pulling in space shuttles and yanking away incoming space debris, have been edging into reality in recent years.

The first real-life tractor beams were made of photons. It is easy to imagine a stream of photons carrying a particle of matter along like a river picking up a leaf and carrying it downstream. What is astounding about tractor beams is that by skilfully manipulating the transfer of momentum from the beam, physicists do not have to rely only on pushing particles, but can make light pull particles of matter, like a tractor. Beams made of sound waves have also been demonstrated in the lab.

(10) LEST PAYDAY FAIL. At Tor.com, Jo Walton asks “Why is Genre Fiction Obsessed with Belisarius?”.

I once wrote jokingly here that there are only three plots, and they are Hamlet, Pride and Prejudice, and Belisarius, because those are the ones everyone keeps on reusing.

There is a conference in Uppsala in Sweden the weekend before the Helsinki Worldcon called “Reception Histories of the Future“which is about the use of Byzantium in science fiction. The moment I heard of it, I immediately started thinking about our obsessive reuse of the story of Belisarius. (I’m going. Lots of other writers are going. If you’re heading to Helsinki, it’s on your way, and you should come too!)

It’s strange that science fiction and fantasy are obsessed with retelling the story of Belisarius, when the mainstream world isn’t particularly interested. Robert Graves wrote a historical novel about him in 1938, Count Belisarius, and there’s Gillian Bradshaw’s The Bearkeeper’s Daughter (1987), but not much else. Whereas in genre, we’ve had the story of Belisarius retold by Guy Gavriel Kay, David Drake (twice) and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and used by L. Sprague de Camp, John M. Ford, Jerry Pournelle, Robert Silverberg, and Isaac Asimov. So what is it about this bit of history that makes everyone from Asimov to Yarbro use it? And how is it that the only place you’re likely to have come across it is SF?…

(11) ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST. Trae Dorn at Nerd & Tie says a Chicago convention is pivoting to serve a different market and adopting a new name — “Kollision Con Calling it Quits, Organizers Launching GEM Expo Chicago Gaming Con in Its Place”.

After six conventions, Chicago based anime convention Kollision Con€˜s organizers have decided to call it quits. They made the announcement on the con’s official Facebook page late last week, citing venue issues and an overcrowded Anime con scene as their primary reasons for ending the show.

The organizers aren’t giving up on running conventions though, as in that same post they announced the GEM Expo Chicago, a gaming convention that will occupy the dates originally reserved for Kollision Con 2017.

(12) FLYING OFF THE SHELVES. Last year toy sales received a boost and the reason is clear — “Year-round ‘Star Wars’ toy sales boost entertainment merchandise revenue” reports the LA Times.

Year-round “Star Wars” hype is giving a boost to Hollywood’s merchandising business.

Licensed goods based on movies and other entertainment properties generated $118 billion in global retail sales last year, up 5% from 2015, according to a new report.

Toys, apparel and other wares tied to movies such as “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” helped propel the increase, the Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Assn. said Monday.

The year benefited from two “Star Wars” installments as bookends: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which was released in December 2015, and “Rogue One,” which came out a year later, said Marty Brochstein, senior vice president of the association.

“In 2016, you had a full year of sales of ‘Star Wars’ merchandise,” Brochstein said. “Obviously that helped on the entertainment side.”

(13) DON’T STIFF THE STAFF. Are you a bad tipper? You’re a science fiction fan, of course you’re a bad tipper. Okay, maybe not you personally. But ever been out to dinner with a group of fans? It can be excruciating! Here’s one commentator’s advice about “How to Tip in All Situations”.

Tipping has been known to divide families, ruin relationships, and even start wars. Not really. But tipping is an issue that brings out all sorts of passionate opinions.

Who should you tip? How much should you tip? When is it appropriate to leave a bad tip? And is the whole idea of tipping flawed in the first place?

If you’ve ever asked those questions, then we’re here to provide a little clarity on the all-important subject of tipping etiquette.

When in doubt about whether or not to leave a tip, always err on the side of generosity. Remember, your tip says more about you than the person you’re leaving a tip for.

So let’s take a look at some of the people you should tip. Then we’ll give you a general idea of how much to tip them.

(14) FEELINGS OF INSECURITY. Yahoo! News lists major cyber attacks over the past 10 years.

A huge range of organisations and companies around the world have been affected by the WannaCry ransomware cyberattack, described by the EU’s law enforcement agency as “unprecedented”.

From “cyberwar” to “hacktivism”, here are some of the major cyberattacks over the past 10 years: …

…In November 2014, Sony Pictures Entertainment became the target of the biggest cyberattack in US corporate history, linked to its North Korea satire “The Interview”.
The hackers — a group calling itself Guardians of Peace — released a trove of embarrassing emails, film scripts and other internal communications, including information about salaries and employee health records…

(15) STATE OF THE ART. Carrie Vaughn’s Amaryllis and Other Stories was named winner of the Colorado Book Award in the Genre Fiction category on May 21. [Via Locus Online.] (See, proper attribution can be done. It hardly hurts at all.)

 

(16) WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY. The latest explanation for bee colony collapse — “How beekeepers help deadly parasites thrive” in Cosmos.

Deadly mite infestations considered a leading cause of the continuing collapse of the global commercial honey-bee industry are being abetted by modern bee-keeping practices, new research suggests.

The research, published in the journal Environmental Entomology, points the finger at the practices of siting commercial hives too close to each other, and of thwarting the bees’ swarming behavior, for creating conditions ideal for the rapid growth and spread of the parasitic Varroa mite.

The mite (Varroa destructor) is a text-book example of zoonosis — a predatory or parasitic species that has “spilled over” from its traditional host into a new species which, not being adapted to it, suffers catastrophic consequences.

Varroa’s natural host in the Asian honey-bee (Apis cerana). Co-evolution has resulted in the two species being able to live in balance.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, John King Tarpinian, Kreiri, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Pixel Scroll 5/15/17 Scroll Sat Alone On His File Of Stone, And Pixeled And Godstalked A Bare Old Bone

(1) ADVANCED ALT-MARKETING. Jon Del Arroz is convinced you can sell more books if you fight with the right people. And the right people are on the left.

His business had a good day on Monday, as he garnered negative attention from Paul Weimer, and tangled on Twitter with SF Bluestocking’s Bridget McKinney.

Things got rolling after this Weimer tweet:

Jon took all that back to his blog and positioned himself as a staunch defender of Anne McCaffrey against a benighted feminist in “The Cult Of The New And Its Destruction Of Culture”.

…It started because I was talking to a Tordotcom reviewer. A Hugo Nominated Fanzine writer chimed in to tell me how irrelevant I am by referencing my last novel, how she looked up “Rescue Run” and found that there was “nothing in sci-fi that returned on a google search”.

I corrected, of course, stating not only is there my extremely highly regarded, award nominated and well-reviewed book, but that I chose the title intentionally as an homage to the late great Anne McCaffrey, who wrote a book by the same name. This work was demeaned by her first as “it’s only a short story” (It’s a novella, actually) and this person who is nominated for the Hugo Award for fanzine work, retorted to that by calling Anne Mccaffrey “old and irrelevant.”

… And of Hugos? This fanzine writer who writes self-described “feminist” commentary on science fiction is attacking the first woman ever to win the award! For shame! It boggles my mind to see this kind of lack of reverence for her.

When it comes to protecting the reputation of Anne McCaffrey, I didn’t know Jon had a dog in this fight. Now I know he’s got at least a puppy.

(2) HIGH ON KYLO. If you think the death of Han Solo might make people question having children at all, that’s because you haven’t met last year’s crop of new parents: “Turning to the Dark Side: Kylo is the fastest growing baby name in the US in honor of the latest Star Wars villain” — the Daily Mail has the story.

  • The name, inspired by Star Wars’ Kylo Ren, has jumped a massive 1,467 spaces
  • Popular culture also inspired parents to name their girls after popstar Kehlani
  • The most popular boys’ name is still Noah and it’s Emma for girls once again
  • Despite being in news every day, Donald and Hillary proved unpopular names

… The Social Security Administration released its annual list of the 1,000 most popular baby names for 2016 on Friday.

(3) ANOTHER CAPTAIN ON ANOTHER BRIDGE. This part is obvious – The Verge says “Seth MacFarlane’s upcoming TV series looks like a parody of classic space adventure shows” – but the idea that it takes inspiration from GalaxyQuest is hopeful.

(4) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

Why do the Imperial Stormtroopers all appear to be left-handed?  It’s because their ammunition magazines on their weapons are on the left side, so it’s easier to hold the guns left-handed.

So is this Lego Storm Trooper inaccurately showing a right-hander?

(5) BONUS TRIVIAL TRIVIA

And while we’re on the subject of Star Wars, did you know….? (Via Scifihistory.net.)

(6) BOOTHE OBIT. Powers Boothe, who appeared in Deadwood and Sin City died May 15 at the age of 68. Boothe also played Gideon Malick in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, first in The Avengers (2012), then on TV in ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born May 15, 1856 – L. Frank Baum

(8) HEADQUARTERS IN THE SADDLE. Gamer and comic owner lives the life as a jouster: “The boss who lives as a medieval knight”.

Given how Jason spends his weekends, you might imagine that his day job is equally daring, that he is some sort of professional stuntman.

Instead, he is the chief executive of one of the UK’s largest computer games companies – Rebellion Developments.

Jason set up the Oxford-based business with his younger brother Chris in 1992, and today it has an annual turnover of more than £25m.

Still wholly owned by the two siblings, its best-selling titles include Sniper Elite and Rogue Trooper.

For the past 17 years the company has also owned cult UK comic book series 2000 AD, and publishes a range of novels.

(9) CALLING DR. DYSON. Maybe there is a Ringworld? “The most mysterious star in the galaxy”.

The starlight dips in an irregular pattern, suggesting that something is intermittently blocking the star. This bizarre behaviour, first reported in autumn 2015 and not seen in any other star, has scientists baffled. Researchers have proposed a myriad of explanations, including black holes, comet swarms, and interstellar clouds. But a conclusive answer remains elusive. And one hypothesis in particular has raised eyebrows: aliens.

Yes, aliens.

Perhaps, researchers have posited, an advanced alien civilisation has constructed a vast structure encircling their star, maybe an enormous power plant that harnesses the star’s energy. When parts of the structure pass in front of the star, it creates dips in the starlight.

(10) I HEARD THE NEWS TODAY. A local Albuquerque TV station recently  devoted 1-minute video bio to — “George R.R. Martin Living and Loving New Mexico”.

(11) UNLUCKY STRIKE. The Chicxulub asteroid hit “the worst possible place”:

Scientists who drilled into the impact crater associated with the demise of the dinosaurs summarise their findings so far in a BBC Two documentary on Monday.

…It is becoming clear that the 15km-wide asteroid could not have hit a worse place on Earth.

The shallow sea covering the target site meant colossal volumes of sulphur (from the mineral gypsum) were injected into the atmosphere, extending the “global winter” period that followed the immediate firestorm.

Had the asteroid struck a different location, the outcome might have been very different.

“This is where we get to the great irony of the story – because in the end it wasn’t the size of the asteroid, the scale of blast, or even its global reach that made dinosaurs extinct – it was where the impact happened,” said Ben Garrod, who presents The Day The Dinosaurs Died with Alice Roberts.

(12) ORION DELAYED. And we’re getting farther from returning to the Moon — “NASA nixes Trump’s moonshot plan” reports The Register.

NASA will miss its deadline for the first flight of the Orion capsule and the Space Launch System, with the launch moved from 2018 to 2019.

The agency’s Bill Gerstenmaier also told media in a briefing last Friday that as well as delaying the first flight (designated Exploration Mission One, EM-1), the EM-2 mission that will carry astronauts will probably miss its original 2021 date.

In February, the new Trump administration asked NASA to assess the feasibility of changing the EM-1 mission, planned as an uncrewed jaunt into cislunar space between Earth and Luna, to instead carry human cargo around the moon.

NASA has concluded that it can’t justify the cost of such a change to the schedule.

(13) FLYING TOYOTA IN YOUR FUTURE? The car maker pushes in a big stack of chips: “Toyota ‘backs flying car project’ in Japan”.

Japanese carmaker Toyota has announced its backing for a group of engineers who are developing a flying car.

It will give 40 million yen (£274, 000) to the Cartivator group that operates outside Toyota city in central Japan.

The Nikkei Asian Review reports Toyota and its group companies have agreed in principle to support the project.

So far crowdfunding has paid for development of the so-called Skydrive car, which uses drone technology and has three wheels and four rotors.

(14) GIFTED CHILDREN. Here is the trailer for Fox’s series The Gifted, set in the X-Men universe. It will air this fall.

(15) INSTANT CLASSIC. Bill filed the numbers off an old earworm in this update to “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah”

With apologies to Allan Sherman

Hello Scrolls and Hello Pixels
Many posts are just for ticks. You’ll
Find that some are entertaining.
But not those that end up being all mansplaining.

I follow daily the blog of Glyer.
And I’ve become a faithful Filer.
You remember Rabid Puppies?
Their campaign to win the Hugos got them bupkis.

Some folks come here to rant and foment
But I’d prefer a Meredith Moment
A nice movie for my Roku,
Or a book to put on top of Mount Tsudoku.

[bridge]
Let’s go scroll, we pixel filers
Let’s go scroll, my reading pile has
Climbed so high. It’s not so long til the
Ballots are due in Helsinki.

I see my comment is second fifth.
It’s regarding Bob Asprin’s Myth.
But it’s missing a URL link
So I shall leave and appertain myself a cold drink.

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