(1) I KNOW, YOU’RE FROM THE SIXTIES! Somebody may be slipping drugs into the coffee at the Arizona Opera Company. Coming in October is their production of Hercules vs Vampires.
Hold on tight for an out of this world event! Hercules vs Vampires combines operatic singing and 1960s pop culture, synchronizing live music with the 1961 cult classic film, Hercules in the Haunted World. Watch as the original film, starring bodybuilder Reg Park and horror legend Christopher Lee, is projected above a live orchestra and singers performing the music to a new, original score. You’ll thrill as the mighty hero Hercules journeys through the underworld, battling fiendish monsters to rescue his beloved! Action packed, outlandish, and fun for the whole family, Hercules vs Vampires offers a fresh take on this gorgeously campy Technicolor world.
(2) BATMAN REMEMBERED. Adam West Day will be celebrated in the actor’s hometown — Walla Walla, Washington — on September 19.
He said proceeds will go to Camp Rainbow, a free camp in Idaho for children who have survived or are undergoing treatment for cancer and blood-related disease or disorders. West, who had a home in Idaho, was a vocal supporter of the camp.
Grant plans to wear his own Batman costume to the screening and is urging others to join him.
“This is bigger than just one fan,” Grant said. “This is a community getting together and doing something that should have been done long ago to honor someone that they love, and that they’re very proud of.”
They will also host a bat-signal lighting ceremony, similar to the one done in Los Angeles.
(3) 2017 HUGO VOTE TOTAL. I don’t remember reporting this when it came out, so just in case:
We are happy to report that we have 3319 final ballot voters for the 2017 Hugo Awards! The third highest ever!
— Worldcon 75 (@worldcon75) July 16, 2017
(4) FINNISH WEIRD. This Is Finland continues its Worldcon coverage: “Proud to be weird at Worldcon”.
[Maria] Turtschaninoff, who won the Finlandia Junior prize, is one of the most popular authors in Finnish literature today. She has had her book rights sold to over twenty countries and a movie has even been optioned. The first two books in her Red Abbey Chronicles series, Maresi and Naondel, have been called “feminist fantasy” by impressed reviewers.
“I’m not very interested in labels. I’m not that interested in messages either,” she says. “But I am a feminist, and an environmentalist, and a humanist, and all my values are reflected in what I write. And the mere fact that I am a woman who gets to write and who writes about women is inarguably a feminist action.”
Worldcon attendee Turtschaninoff says she is proud of the diversity in Finnish Weird, and says for such a small country Finnish writers have done quite well.
“From what I have seen, we in Finland are somewhat freed of the commercial expectations authors in, for instance, the Anglo-Saxon world face,” she continues. “This gives us some room to experiment, to go beyond what is expected. I believe Finland is fertile ground for bold, different and new voices and stories.”
(5) MEME OF THE DAY. A couple of SJW credentials have their own ideas about packing for the Worldcon.
Packing for WorldCon going just fine thanks. pic.twitter.com/7Ql1pBNbYy
— Goldeen Ogawa (@GrimbyTweets) August 6, 2017
— Corina Stark (@Zeteram) August 3, 2017
— JY YANG ? ??? (@halleluyang) August 5, 2017
— David D. Levine (@daviddlevine) August 3, 2017
— TJ Berry (@TJaneBerry) August 1, 2017
— David D. Levine (@daviddlevine) July 31, 2017
— Piper J. Drake (@PiperJDrake) July 31, 2017
— Carmen Capiti (@CarmenCapiti) July 31, 2017
(7) 9W. Lots happening at Nine Worlds this weekend. One small example:
Geek BSL is the BEST. I've learned to sign dinosaur and Dr Who and 'winter is coming' and feminist and 'all men must die' #nineworlds
— Paranoid Android (@BlueHairedJo) August 5, 2017
(8) ALPHABET MALES. The Nameless Digest’s “A to Z: Influential Science Fiction Authors” has photos of 26 authors in alphabetical order – including a rare one of a clean-shaven Larry Niven.
Unfortunately, no women included at all.
(9) OWNING LITERATURE. One never thinks of these numinous scenes as being associated with a real place that a person could buy: “E.B. White’s former Maine farm, where Charlotte spun her web, goes up for sale”.
White, who wrote the children’s classics “Charlotte’s Web” and “Stuart Little,” bought the 44-acre property overlooking Blue Hill Bay with his wife, Katharine, in 1933. He lived there until his death in 1985.
The Gallants, who also own a home in South Carolina, purchased it shortly after White’s death, and have lived half of each year there ever since. They are now in their 80s and plan to live full time in their single-level home in South Carolina.
The couple has tried to be respectful of White’s memory – and the history of the house – by updating the kitchen and refinishing the floors but otherwise leaving its character alone.
“They have not gentrified it,” said Martha Dischinger of Downeast Properties in Blue Hill. “They’ve not gone in and done weird things. They have made all the right improvements.”
The barn that was the setting for “Charlotte’s Web,” the beloved children’s book about a pig named Wilbur and his friendship with Charlotte the spider, is still there, including the famous rope swing whose motion was mimicked in White’s writing.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY
- August 5, 1960 – William Castle’s 13 Ghosts brings “Illusion-O” to moviegoers.
- August 5, 1988 — The Blob remake oozes into theaters.
- August 5, 2011 – Rise of the Planet of the Apes premiered on this day.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY MOONWALKER
- Born August 5, 1930 — Neil Armstrong
(12) WHAT, HE WORRY? Kyle Smith at National Review Online has a piece called “Confederate and the Dunces Who Assume It’s Pro-Slavery” where he argues that people who assume that ‘Confederate’ is going to promote slavery will have nothing to worry about.
Race these days is a kind of mental high-voltage power surge that is short-circuiting people’s minds. Do these writers really lack the imagination to see what creative direction Confederate is going to take? Every character, scene, and line of dialogue is going to be scrutinized, double-checked, and triple-checked to make sure it sends the message that white supremacy is evil. The primary creative risk for Confederate is not, as many commenters fear, that it will amount to alt-right white-supremacy porn but that it’ll be so focused on being the opposite of that it will keep pounding the same chords over and over. It’ll be so single-mindedly determined to prove it is on the morally correct side that it might be didactic and repetitive. A creative project that is principally concerned with selling the audience a political message (even one as unexceptionable as opposition to racism) risks being more of a sermon than a story.
(13) PERSON OF INTEREST. Chip Hitchcock theorizes: “It looks likely that the authorities have again gotten the wrong angle on a computer crime: Bail of $30,000 set for UK cyber expert Marcus Hutchins. To those of us who remember the mess the Secret Service tried to make of Steve Jackson Games, this sounds way too familiar.”
Ms Lobo said Mr Hutchins denied he was the author of the malware and said he would plead not guilty to all of the charges, which date between July 2014 and July 2015.
“He has dedicated his life to researching malware, not trying to harm people,” she said. “Use the internet for good is what he has done.
“He was completely shocked, this isn’t’ something he anticipated. He came here for a work-related conference and he was fully anticipating to go back home and had no reason to be fearful of coming or going from the United States.”
Mr Hutchins came to prominence in May this year after finding a “kill switch” to stop the WannaCry ransomeware attack that hit the NHS, as well as other organisations in 150 countries.
Also known as “MalwareTech” online, Mr Hutchins was hailed as an “accidental hero” after registering a domain name to track the spread of the virus, which actually ended up halting it.
Mr Hutchins, who works for Los Angeles-based computer security firm Kryptos Logi, had been in Las Vegas to attend the Black Hat and Def Con cyber-security conferences.
He was arrested at Las Vegas airport minutes before he was due to fly home.
(14) THE SHIRT OFF THEIR BACK. Pulp Coming Attractions runs a weekly roundup about publications and products of interest to pulp collectors and fans. That’s where I spotted these magazine logo t-shirts —
Famous Fantastic Mysteries T-Shirt This is the authentic logo used for this classic pulp magazine from the 1940s. Note: red fabric only. $22.95
(15) STAR WARS WEATHER. You may also appreciate Snorgtees’ “Alderaan 5-Day Forecast”…
(16) AND MATCHING SHOES. Yahoo! Movies’ Marcus Errico recommends these “‘Star Wars’ Shoes: Put the Force on Your Feet For 40th Anniversary”
As the 40th anniversary celebration for A New Hope, rolls on, a new line of canvas footwear inspired by George Lucas‘s original 1977 space opera is ready to launch from shoemaker Sperry, which released a popular Jaws-themed collection last year. Arriving Aug. 10, the Star Wars x Sperry collection features five styles that run the gamut from the light side to the dark side with seminal designs, images, and iconography from the film
For example —
(17) MEMO FROM THE EMPEROR. Charlie Lee Jackson II’s Empire of Entertainment has released two new digital books this week, both space operas.
Planet Patrol is about a small ship on which a Space Princess (like a circuit-riding judge of the Old west) travels the Solar System.
Dreadnought of Space is set centuries later, on one of those gigantic ships travelling to another star system to dispense justice. They represent the first books of a new series, “Star Service”.
(18) PARK EFFECT. When you wish upon a star…. “MouseMingle helps Disney fans find their happily-ever-after”.
Tavres, who scored six dates on MouseMingle, quit his full-time job as a technical program manager to work on the site. He’s close to finishing a mobile app and site redesign…..
MouseMingle is not just about finding love. Subscribers can also find friends and park pals.
“It’s not just about Disneyland, and it’s not specific,” Tavres said. “Everybody is welcome. I want people just to connect.”
“I couldn’t believe it when I learned couples were getting married from this site that I started,” said Tavres, who noted that Disney contacted and applauded him but added that he stress the website was an unofficial fan site unaffiliated with the Walt Disney Co. “I’m so happy for all of them.”
Tavres learned of the Guy wedding when Atwood-Knudson sent him an email thanking him for his creation.
Their wedding bands were set in three diamonds in the shape of Mickey Mouse’s head and the character’s silhouette was featured in tabletop topiaries and as a cake topper.
The bride walked down the aisle to “Married Life” from “Up.” The new husband and wife left the ceremony to an orchestral version of “You’re Welcome” from “Moana,” shared their first dance to “Ma Belle Evangeline” from “The Princess and the Frog” and selected “Baby Mine” from “Dumbo” for the father-daughter number.
(19) FRANKENSTEIN LOVED GUACAMOLE. Do you find news like this anywhere else? Of course you don’t.
(20) BEETLEJUICE ANNIVERSARY COMING. Documentary for the Recently Deceased is an independent documentary about Tim Burton’s movie Beetlejuice. It will be available in 2018 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of the film. Here’s a trailer —
[Thanks to Bruce D. Arthurs, JJ, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Charles Lee Jackson II, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
Curated by Carl Slaughter: (1) Reckless Disagreement says Rogue One ruined Star Wars:
(2) In episode 3 of Season 7 of Game of Thrones, Littlefinger delivers to Sansa some classic, poetic advice:
Fight every battle, everywhere, always, in your mind.
Everyone is your enemy, everyone is your friend.
Every possible series of events is happening, all at once.
Live that way, and nothing will surprise you.
Everything that happens will be something that you’ve seen before.
(3) What Culture ranks the Doctors.
(4) Kit Harington went to his Game of Thrones audition with a black eye.
(5) James Cameron mulling a new Terminator trilogy.
“The question is — has the franchise run its course or can it be freshened up?” said the filmmaker. “Can it still have new relevance now where so much of our world is catching up to what was science fiction in the first two films? We live in a world of predator drones, and surveillance, and big data, and emergent AI. So, I am in discussions with David Ellison, who is the current rights holder globally for the Terminator franchise, and the rights in the U.S. market revert to me under U.S. copyright law in a year-and-a-half, so he and I are talking about what we can do. Right now we are leaning toward doing a three-film arc and reinventing it. We’ll put more meat on the bones if we get past the next couple of hurdles as and when we announce that.”
(6) Superhero double team
(7) Superhero fight club
(8) Superheroes versus Dominators
(9) Jack O’Neill’s 7 Rules of Gate Travel
(10) Stargate’s linguistic hilarity.
(11) If you’re a peanut, beware of drunken Kryptonians.
(12) Emilia Clarke reads Game of Thrones.
Curated by Carl Slaughter: (1) Black Panther photo breakdown.
(2) 1993 first draft outline for the Game of Thrones intended trilogy.
(3) New Rockstars delves deep into the opening episode of Game of Thrones Season 7.
(4) Littlefinger versus Varys: Who played the better game?
Varys: “Chaos is a pit.”
Littlefinger: “Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder.”
(5) Deleted scenes from Game of Thrones
(6) Daenerys versus Varys
(7) The White Walkers are coming. Not through, not under, not over, but around. This is Talking Thrones’ interpretation of The Hound’s fire vision. Plenty of clues from the books and the show to confirm this theory, including Patch Face from the books.
(8) The fate of Arya Stark.
(9) Lessons The Hound taught Arya – and vice versa.
(10) Arya loses Nymeria because “the girl is no one.”
(11) 22 Times Lady Olenna From Game Of Thrones Was the Queen of Shade
Cersei: “Ah yes, the famously tart tongued Queen of Thorns.”
Oleena: “And the famous tart Queen Cersei.”
(12) Why Daenerys Will Not Win The Game of Thrones
(13) 100 greatest quotes from Game of Thrones
(14) 10 Reasons Star Wars Is Darker Than You Thought
(15) How The Inquisitor Killed So Many Jedi
(16) 18 Times Pam From True Blood Was The Vampire Queen Of Sass
(18) The Strain, Season 4 featurette
(19) Why Valerian failed at the box office
(20) What Culture offers suggestions for fixing Doctor Who
(21) Inhumans primer
(22) Robin will be in the Batgirl movie
(1) NEW DAY JOB. Congratulations to Uncanny Magazine’s Lynne M. Thomas who has been appointed to head the Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, one of the largest repositories for rare books and manuscripts in the United States: “University of Illinois alumnus to head Rare Book and Manuscript Library”
Thomas, who earned her master’s degree in library and information sciences at the University of Illinois in 1999, has been the curator of rare books and special collections at Northern Illinois University since 2004 and the head of distinctive collections there since 2014. She’ll begin her appointment at the library and assume the Juanita J. and Robert E. Simpson Rare Book and Manuscript Library Professorship on Sept. 1.
While working at Northern Illinois University, Thomas helped grow its holdings of the papers of contemporary sf authors.
We are considering the field both with and without the “People of Colo(u)r Destroy!” special issues of Lightspeed, Nightmare, and Fantasy Magazine, since they constitute a project that is limited to one year. Without these issues, a sample of 24 professional SF/F/H magazines yielded 31 stories by Black authors out of 1,089 total stories — that’s 2.8% — while 2.9% of 2016’s published unique authors are Black. In 2015 we found figures of 1.9% and 2.4%, respectively. While there’s no way to determine yet if these small increases are evidence of gradual long-term improvement or just normal variation — two years is too short a trajectory for that — perhaps we can find a cautious degree of optimism…..
Effects of the “People of Colo(u)r Destroy!” Issues
In spite of comprising a tiny portion of the field’s story volume, the “PoC Destroy” issues collectively contained over 20% of 2016’s stories by Black authors. They alone raise the 2016 field-wide ratio by nearly a full percentage point, from 2.8% to 3.6%. Put another way: any improvements that took place from 2015 to 2016? The “PoC Destroy” issues are responsible for about half….
Where Do We Go From Here?
Again, we think there’s reason to have a degree of optimism. Some magazines made substantive changes to their editorial staffs and marketing strategies subsequent to the 2015 report, which was released late enough last year that any resulting improvements would impact only 2017 and beyond. It’s for this reason that this 2016 follow-up is not a comparative analysis but rather should serve as a baseline for comparison in future years.
Progress isn’t always linear; not all magazines have equal resources or lead times, which is why we want to hear from editors and publishers. What are your strategies for combating low publication rates of Black authors? Please answer our survey to let us know.
Black SF/F writers: we’d like to hear your comments and suggestions for how we can improve future reports. This also goes for data collection; we’re working purely from what’s publicly available on the Internet, and we don’t want to force people to publicly self-identify in order to be counted. If you suspect your stories are not included in this count and would like them to be, just want to double check, or have any other concerns — please let us know. Our email address is BlackSpecFicReport@gmail.com; correspondence will be kept confidential.
(3) CHIPPING IN. A Scroll last month talked about one man getting chipped; now it’s an entire company workforce: “Wisconsin company Three Square Market to microchip employees”.
Three Square Market is offering to implant the tiny radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip into workers’ hands for free – and says everyone will soon be doing it.
The rice grain-sized $300 (£230) chip will allow them to open doors, log in to computers and even purchase food.
And so far, 50 employees have signed up for the chance to become half-human, half-walking credit card.
(4) GAME OF SIMPSONS. The Verge has learned “Matt Groening is making an animated medieval adult fantasy with Netflix” called Disenchantment.
Netflix announced today that Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons and Futurama, will be developing a medieval animated adult fantasy called Disenchantment. It’s scheduled to begin streaming on Netflix in 2018.
The series’s protagonist is a young, “hard-drinking” princess named Bean (Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson), and her two male companions are a “feisty elf” named Elfo (Nat Faxon) and a demon named Luci (Eric Andre). While both The Simpsons and Futurama have dynamic, fleshed-out female characters, this is Groening’s first series with a clear female lead.
Rough Draft Studios, the studio that does the art for Futurama, will animate Disenchantment. From the few details Netflix is offering, it’s easy to imagine a sort of epic-fantasy version of Futurama, with the same acerbic, absurdist humor as Groening’s other shows. In the US, Netflix doesn’t have a series that fits this exact bill, though Archer may come closest. (Netflix also carries Futurama, so Disenchantment should fit in.)
(5) ROLL THE BONES. Tom Galloway sent this link with the comment, “Curiously, ‘Santa Fe, NM’ isn’t given as a location from which large bets would raise suspicions…” — “Growing Strong: Inside the Burgeoning ‘Game of Thrones’ Gambling Business”.
Increasingly, Thrones also lends itself to speculation in the financial sense of the word. As Thrones has ascended to its singular place in the splintered TV firmament, it’s not only come to be covered like the Oscars and the Super Bowl, but it’s started to support a similar secondary market of rumors and wagers. Thanks to the series’ big built-in audience, large (if shrinking) cast of characters, and uncertain endgame, Game of Thrones and gambling go together like lovestruck Lannister (or Targaryen) twins.
Some Thrones-related betting contests, like The Ringer’s Thrones Mortality Pool, are just for fun. But in recent years, a number of ostensible sportsbooks have gotten in on the action, with prominent sites such as Sportsbet, MyBookie.ag, and Pinnacle (which debuted its Thrones odds this year) trying to capture a piece of the (hot) pie. The best-known of these books is Bovada, an online gambling and casino-games site owned by a group based in Québec.
Bovada began publishing prop bets for Game of Thrones in 2015. Since the start, those bets have been the personal province of Pat Morrow, who’s been with Bovada for a decade and has served as the site’s head oddsmaker for the past four years. Technically, Morrow oversees all of the site’s wagers, but he’s much more likely to delegate work on the data-based bets that make up most of the site’s offerings. The Thrones odds come from his head alone, both because they require a personal touch and because no one else at Bovada is as qualified to apply it
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY
- July 25, 1969 – In theaters: The Valley of Gwangi, a schlockfest of cowboys vs. dinosaurs in Forbidden Valley
(7) SPACE STYLES. The Fashion Spot is telling everyone “Gucci’s Fall 2017 Campaign Is Out of This World!”
Alessandro Michele continues to raise the bar at Gucci while refusing to follow the rest of the fashion pack. His advertising campaigns for the iconic Italian fashion house are often extremely well-received by our hard-to-thrill forum members (despite a few controversies). The newly unveiled Fall 2017 campaign, captured by Glen Luchford, is on another planet — literally. Yes, Michele revisits his sci-fi concept, going all-out for the new mainline campaign — complete with dinosaurs, hovering spaceships, models channeling their inner alien and so much more.
(8) T AND SEE. Lisa Allison at Adventures In Poor Taste lists her faves: “SDCC 2017: Top 5 nerdy t-shirts”. John King Tarpinian says he’d have bought this shirt –
#2: Vampires Don’t Do Dishes
I was drawn to this one for a few reasons. It pairs a quote from What We Do in the Shadows starring Jemaine Clement with a sort of buck toothed, vampire. It’s fun, creepy and artistic. The Benday dots on the sides are a nice touch.
(9) BITER BIT. A Discovery magazine columnist showed several fee-for-publication medical journals seem to have nonexistent professional standards, in “Predatory Journals Hit By ‘Star Wars’ Sting”.
A number of so-called scientific journals have accepted a Star Wars-themed spoof paper. The manuscript is an absurd mess of factual errors, plagiarism and movie quotes. I know because I wrote it….
Four journals fell for the sting. The American Journal of Medical and Biological Research (SciEP) accepted the paper, but asked for a $360 fee, which I didn’t pay. Amazingly, three other journals not only accepted but actually published the spoof. Here’s the paper from the International Journal of Molecular Biology: Open Access (MedCrave), Austin Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutics (Austin) and American Research Journal of Biosciences (ARJ) I hadn’t expected this, as all those journals charge publication fees, but I never paid them a penny.
So what did they publish? A travesty, which they should have rejected within about 5 minutes – or 2 minutes if the reviewer was familiar with Star Wars. Some highlights:
“Beyond supplying cellular energy, midichloria perform functions such as Force sensitivity…”
“Involved in ATP production is the citric acid cycle, also referred to as the Kyloren cycle after its discoverer”
“Midi-chlorians are microscopic life-forms that reside in all living cells – without the midi-chlorians, life couldn’t exist, and we’d have no knowledge of the force. Midichlorial disorders often erupt as brain diseases, such as autism.”
“midichloria DNA (mtDNRey)” and “ReyTP”
And so on. I even put the legendary Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise monologue in the paper…
…This matters because scientific publishers are companies selling a product, and the product is peer review. True, they also publish papers (electronically in the case of these journals), but if you just wanted to publish something electronically, you could do that yourself for free. Preprint archives, blogs, your own website – it’s easy to get something on the internet. Peer review is what supposedly justifies the price of publishing.
[Via Ansible Links.]
(10) PASSING THE HELMET. And in other bogus Star Wars news, Darth Vader has started a GoFundMe: “Help Me Build a Death Star!”.
The Empire is under attack. We are in urgent need of funds to construct a Death Star to crush this rebel alliance!
It had raised zero of its $900 million goal when I last checked in.
(11) SUCKING UP DATA. Speaking of world domination – Eric Persing shared this link with the comment, “This is pretty much the beginning of how the robots take over humanity…right? The vacuum maps your home, sells your home layout to the highest bidder and before you know it, the toaster is trying to kill you.” — “Roombas have been mapping your homes for years, and that data’s about to be sold to the highest bidder”.
As Reuters reports, Roomba maker iRobot is bullish on the prospect of selling what it learns about your home to whoever might want it. “There’s an entire ecosystem of things and services that the smart home can deliver once you have a rich map of the home that the user has allowed to be shared,” iRobot boss Colin Angle told Reuters.
If that sounds more than a little creepy that’s because, well, it is, but companies pushing into the smart home market would most certainly be willing to pony up the dough for the data. Products like smart speakers, security monitors, high-tech thermostats, and many other gadgets could potentially benefit from knowledge of your home’s layout, but in order for iRobot to actually sell archives of the data, it would likely need to be anonymize — that is, scrubbed of any personally identifiable information and lumped in with countless others.
(12) NOT MY FAULT. Munchkin is concerned:
Have so far resisted the urge to set my WorldCon badge sub-title to 'Well I didn't vote for Brexit'
— Munchkin (@munchkinstein) July 24, 2017
(13) PUPPY RADAR. Camestros Felapton has compiled a list of authors and works being promoted for the Dragon Awards in “Time for those Dragon Projections!”
- The titles listed are based on what I have found trawling the web looking for people who were, to some degree or other, promoting works to be nominated for a Dragon Award. I found a lot but who knows what I missed. I did find some stuff on Facebook but it and other places are hard to search inside of. Also, maybe some authors are promoting the Dragons like crazy in forums I cna’t access or on their email lists. Who knows? So large pinches of salt please.
- There is though a ‘status’ column and that is even a greater testament to hubris in data collection. The higher the status the more wallop I think the promotion of the work had – either in multiple places or by venues with known impact (e.g. the Rabid slate). “Low” though also includes stuff whose promotional impact I don’t know. Some are authors I don’t know but who may have some legion of highly devoted followers ever ready to throw their bodies and email addresses at an awards website. It is NOT any kind of assessment of the quality or even the popularity of the work – so if you an author and you see ‘very low’ next to your book, don’t be disheartened.
- So it is all a bit pointless then? No, no. Basically the more stuff on the list that appears as Dragon Awards finalists, the more the finalists were determined by overt public campaigning on blogs – and predominately from the Rabid and Scrappy corners. The less stuff on the list making it as finalists, then the less impact that kind of campaigning had on the Dragon Awards.
(14) THE SHARKES BITE. The Clarke Award will be announced this week. The Shadow Clarke jury dashes off one more review, then begins analyzing the Sharke experience and the future of the Clarke award.
An inspector investigates the case of a disappeared man but despite his occasional dreams of solving the case, he never uncovers the truth and only succeeds in stripping away layer after layer of appearance until nothing is left. Infinite Ground is a kind of metatext in which the ostensible missing person investigation in the plot simultaneously functions to interrogate fundamental aspects of being such as identity and even existence, as though the world itself is also text. By the end of MacInnes’s novel we are no longer sure if the man, the inspector and the society they come from are still in existence or, indeed, if they ever existed at all. Among the many facets of the text is a strain of the kind of hermeneutic deconstruction that marks out my natural enemies in any literature faculty. ‘At the heart of meaning there is no meaning’ is the refrain of this theme but it often seems to coexist very comfortably with institutional power structures and academic management hierarchies. MacInnes takes this to extreme levels of quantum indeterminacy and fractal microbiology that defy any kind of systematisation, however there is still a level of destruction wrecked on everyday life in texts like this which I find uncomfortable. I am reminded of reading Paul Auster’s different, but not entirely dissimilar New York Trilogy and turning afterwards to Dashiell Hammett for an equally relentless but more grounded interrogation of social existence. MacInnes, however, had me turning to Hammett within 30 pages…
So, what did we achieve here?
If nothing else – apart from a few good jokes floating around the web about who has read which Iain Banks novels – we have demonstrated why the actual Clarke Award juries don’t make their deliberations public. Nevertheless, I do think the level of discussion and analysis we have provided has been a positive feature even when this has provoked a certain amount of pushback. There hasn’t been a hidden agenda and the motivations and various criteria used by members of the shadow jury have become reasonably clear across the process. Anyone looking at the project from the outside is in a position to weigh up the assumptions and judgements made and to criticise these for deficiencies; and, of course, a number of people have done this. I have found it interesting to read the discussion on File770 and twitter as well as on the comment boxes on the Sharke posts themselves. Some of this seems fair and some seems unfair; but that is often the way of things.
- “The Shape of Things to Come: some possible runners and riders in next year’s Clarke: by Nina Allan”
As this year’s Clarke festivities wind inexorably towards their close, I thought it would be interesting to cast an eye over the landscape ahead of us. It does the heart good to have something to look forward to, after all, and what could be more fun than making a few early advance predictions about next year’s Clarke Award?
I’m not here to discuss the more obvious entries. We all know that Kim Stanley Robinson, Cory Doctorow, Kameron Hurley and Ann Leckie have new novels out this year and everybody will be talking about them as possible contenders soon enough. As the books I’m most interested in tend to be those that hover around the edges of genre, I thought I’d do better to focus upon novels published by mainstream imprints that might otherwise be overlooked by SFF commentators. With a little over half the year gone, there will inevitably be titles I’ve overlooked, authors I’ve not come across yet. This is just a tiny sample of what next year’s Clarke jury might have to look forward to.
And as a bonus, a review of the actual Clarke shortlist from Strange Horizons. Interestingly, the reviewer has a good go at linking the 6 nominees together thematically, even though the Sharkes were of the opinion that the shortlist lacked a coherent theme…
In theme, style, and content, the 2017 Clarke Award shortlist—Emma Newman’s After Atlas, Yoon Ha Lee’s Ninefox Gambit, Tricia Sullivan’s Occupy Me, Becky Chambers’s A Closed and Common Orbit, Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, and Lavie Tidhar’s Central Station—is a diverse set. However, in different ways, each of these books speaks to [Jill] Lepore’s concern about “a fiction of helplessness and hopelessness.” Perhaps, as a function of the times we are in, these books do not heed Le Guin’s call to envision alternatives to how we live. The futures—and in one case, the past—that these books offer is either dystopic or close to dystopic, in utterly recognizable ways. Many of the pregnant battles of today—for democracy, for equality, for privacy, and against universal surveillance—have in these pages been lost for good, and there is no pretence that any individual, or group of individuals, has the power to transform the world. There is little in the way of grand narrative or vaulting ambition in terms of the stories that these novels set out to tell. Far greater—and in some cases, exclusive—focus is placed on human relationships, on more mundane struggles; it is as if Marx’s utopianism of overthrowing centralized power has been replaced by Foucault’s bleaker understanding of power’s ubiquity, and the dispiriting realization that the struggle is limited to daily, quotidian acts. Above all, there is—almost—a palpable mistrust of any radical re-imagination of the ways in which society might be organised.
(15) CARRIE VAUGHN. Lightspeed poses questions to the author in “Interview: Carrie Vaughn”.
You explored Enid’s world in your Hugo-nominated short story “Amaryllis,” which, contrary to most post-apocalyptic stories, has a positive ending. What made you want to explore the dark side of this world at novel length in Bannerless?
It’s a multifaceted culture with both good and bad to it, and Enid is in a unique position to see both. I went into the story assuming that a culture built up like this one is, with a huge amount of scrutiny to go along with the community building, is going to have some unintended consequences, such as the bullying of outsiders.
(16) CONNECTIONS. Matt Mitrovich reviews Nick Woods’ Azanian Bridges for Amazing Stories.
Azanian Bridges is a well-written novels that tackles a difficult period of South African history that, in the grand scheme of things, only recently ended. I read it shortly after I finished Underground Airlines and found myself comparing the two novels. Both deal with de jure racial inequality in two different countries continuing long after it ended in our timeline. To be honest, I felt Underground Airlines had a bigger impact on me since I am an American and have a better understanding of my own country’s past, but if you have any knowledge of South African history, there is enough about this world that Nick created for you to enjoy.
And yet the actual history plays a secondary role to the primary purpose of Azanian Bridges: that we can have peace if we can bridge the divide between peoples.
(17) COSPLAY AT COMIC-CON. ScienceFiction.com shares stunning photos in “SDCC 2017: Cosplay Gallery Part 1”.
(18) ONE DOES NOT SIMPLY EVICT THE SUPERNATURAL. Todd Allen continues The Mister Lewis Incidents — a monthly short form satirical horror detective / urban fantasy series featuring the adventures of a “physics consultant” who consults on matters that defy the laws of physics. The fourth one is out commercially and the fifth one is in the hands of the crowdfunding folks.
The Gentrified Bodega Investigates the Secrets of a Shady Landlord
Wherever rents are rapidly rising, and especially where there’s rent control, there’s always a problem with landlords stepping outside the law to evict renters. But what happens when there’s something in the building that isn’t human and isn’t ready to leave?
About The Gentrified Bodega
“The neighborhood was improving and people were dying to move in. Then their bodies were turning up in the back aisle of the bodega. The building wove a web of shady evictions, fake leases and unexplainable deaths. Can Mister Lewis discover the secret of the gentrified bodega or will the housing crisis be solved by mass attrition?”
The Gentrified Bodega is available on Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook and Kobo or direct from the publisher.
(19) ALL WET. Aquaman Movie 2018 Teaser Trailer.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge,JJ, Todd Allen, Carl Slaughter, DMS, and Mark-kitteh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day JJ.]
(1) SHE’S THE DOCTOR. The casting of Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor Who hit all the mainstream news outlets.
However, the reaction of some Daily Mail readers left a lot to be desired. But as they say, when you have lemons make lemonade. That’s what comedian Aaron C. M. Gillies did:
I took Daily Mail comments from people angry about a possible Female Dr Who and turned them into episode titles for the new series pic.twitter.com/k586EeVpld
— TechnicallyRon (@TechnicallyRon) July 15, 2017
And just before the Whittaker announcement, this meme was getting a lot of play on Twitter.
Alright, we'll get the announcement of the new Doctor soon. Time to remind people of the regeneration cycle. pic.twitter.com/6kovexrXny
— JD DeMotte (@JDDeMotte) July 16, 2017
(2) OH NOES! Matthew Foster has also been taking soundings and shared what he found with his Facebook readers.
Fun with sexism. So I just had to go looking to see what the dim set had to say about Doctor Who, and it is amusing. Most that I peaked in on want to keep their sexism on the down low, so while they always object to the Doctor being female, it is never due to her being female. No, no. That’s not the problem… exactly… So there’s lot’s of:
- I don’t like the Doctor being a woman, but because that’s pandering. Yeah.
- I don’t like the Doctor being a woman, but because it isn’t for a good story reason… You know, the way choosing a male for have been for a good story reason.
Plus 9 more…
(3) RIVER SONG. Radio Times reports actress Alex Kingston was given the news while onstage at a con in North Carolina: “Alex Kingston’s reaction to a female Doctor Who was SO River Song”.
“Jodie Whittaker? Oh my goodness!” the actress told the crowd, after making joke kissing noises. “God, I’m always the damn cradlesnatcher!
“Oh, that’s lovely. She’s a really great actress. She’s fantastic. Oh my God that’s so exciting! Ohhhh! How fabulous.
“Well, we’ve all discovered that together,” she concluded. “That’s marvellous.”
— Keung Hui (@nckhui) July 16, 2017
(4) THE FIRST WOMAN DOCTOR. Some argue there’s already been a woman Doctor Who. (Besides Doctor Donna, that is.) It happened in 1997.
Lily Savage (Paul O’Grady) is The Doctor in a comedy sketch from The Lily Savage Show back in 1997. Features Gayle Tuesday (Brenda Gilhooly) as her companion and a classic impression of Liz McDonald from Coronation Street.
(5) SCAMMERS LIVE IN VAIN. My latest strategy for finding news is to hang around Camestros Felapton’s blog. He had a bunch of good links in this post: “Is the Kindle store broken?”
And far from living in vain, the scammers are running away with the store, according to David Gaughran: “Scammers Break The Kindle Store”.
On Friday, a book jumped to the #1 spot on Amazon, out of nowhere; it quickly became obvious that the author had used a clickfarm to gatecrash the charts.
The Kindle Store is officially broken.
This is not the first time this has happened and Amazon’s continued inaction is increasingly baffling. Last Sunday, a clickfarmed title also hit #1 in the Kindle Store. And Amazon took no action.
Over the last six weeks, one particularly brazen author has put four separate titles in the Top 10, and Amazon did nothing whatsoever. There are many such examples….
How Clickfarms Work
As I explained in my post last month, unscrupulous authors and publishers are now adopting scammer tactics, and it’s pretty obvious this guy used a clickfarm to artificially borrow his book. Those fake borrows are equivalent to a sale for ranking purposes. A few thousand of them at the same time can be enough to put you at the top of the charts.
For those who don’t know what a clickfarm is, read this or this, but the basics are as follows. Clickfarms can do a number of things for those with flexible morals. Depending on what the author is trying to achieve, they can download free books, or borrow KU books, and/or page through borrowed books to generate reads – which will then be paid out of the communal KU pot. These services are easy to find, they are all over Google and Fiverr. They are especially popular in shady internet marketing circles and places like Warrior Forum.
We aren’t taking about the darknet here. These services are open to the public and incredibly easy to find. I’m not going to link to them directly, but here’s an example of the kind of services they offer:
- 100 guaranteed KU borrows for $59
- 200 KU borrows with a guaranteed Top 100 ranking for $109
- 1000 KU borrows with a guaranteed Top 5 ranking in any category for $209
They also provide paid reviews, ghostwriting services, the works. Fake authors, fake books, fake borrows, all parlayed into real chart position stolen from genuine authors and significant funds paid out of the communal KU pot.
(6) STAR WARS LAND. You can learn preliminary details about Disney’s forthcoming attraction, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge from The Verge.
There will be two main attractions: one that lets guests captain the Millennium Falcon on a secret mission, while the other places thrill-seekers in the middle of a “climatic battle” between the First Order and the Resistance. The images released show rugged terrain, lush forests reminiscent of scenes on Endor in Return of the Jedi, and metal cantina structures. According to Bloomberg, the new Star Wars lands will cost about $1 billion each….
Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, revealed the official name of the Star Wars-inspired lands that are currently under construction at the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts, and shared details on the immersive experiences guests will be able to enjoy when the lands open in 2019!
(7) MARTIN LANDAU OBIT. He won an Oscar playing Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood, but Martin Landau, who passed away today at the age of 89, was first seen by fans in Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone (both the Sixties original and again in the Eighties relaunch). Having turned down an offer to play Spock in the original Star Trek series, the pinnacle of Landau’s science fictional success came while playing Commander John Koenig in Space:1999.
He worked constantly over the decades, and appeared in many genre productions — The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (one episode, 1966), Mission: Impossible (76 episodes as “Rollin Hand”, 1966-69), Get Smart (one episode, 1969), The Fall of the House of Usher, Meteor (both 1979), The Return (1980), The Being (1983), The Return of the Six-Million-Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman (1987), Spider-Man (voice, 1995-96), The X-Files (1998), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Frankenweenie (voice, 2012).
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
- July 16, 1952 – Zombies of the Stratosphere flickered briefly through theatres.
- July 16, 1955 — The TV serial Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe blasted into the popular consciousness.
- July 16, 1958 — Audiences gasp for the first time at The Fly.
- July 16, 1959 – The Alligator People was released.
- July 16, 1969 — Apollo 11 launched from Cape Kennedy, Florida, to become the first manned space mission to land on the moon.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
- Born July 16, 1928 – Robert Sheckley
(10) AND THEY’RE OFF. With Game of Thrones Season 7 starting, the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog gets its kicks by imagining how each character will die. First up —
After finally saying goodbye to noted hellhole Meereen, Dany will be cut down in a tragic boating accident, lest her plot line advance. The tragedy will be of Titanic proportions, with Dany and Missandei struggling to share space on a door before both drowning. Varys will float by moments later and note there was plenty of room on the flotsam for both women.
(11) TOP TEN. And The Daily Beast it getting its clicks by publishing the list of “‘Game of Thrones’ Author George R.R. Martin’s Top 10 Fantasy Films”.
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
The frightening thing about Holy Grail is that it may very well be the best version of the Matter of Britain ever put on film. King Arthur has not been well served by the movies, I fear. Yes, yes, there’s John Boorman’s Excalibur, a flawed film with with some great parts. Beyond that and Holy Grail, what do we have? Knights of the Round Table (some gorgeous spectacle, but a ham-handed script–the Timpo toy knights issued as tie-ins to the film were better than the movie), Prince Valiant (I liked the Singing Sword, and those pigskins full of boiling oil, but it’s hard to get past Robert Wagner’s wig), First Knight (gag), King Arthur (yes, let’s just let all the Saxons through Hadrian’s Wall and fight them on the other side, what a clever tactic)…. I do have a certain fondness for the film version of Camelot, but only because I never got to see the stage play. But back to Holy Grail. Back to Brave Sir Robin. The Black Knight. The Knights Who Say Ni. The Frenchman on the ramparts. The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. Castle Anthrax. Coconuts. (They still sell coconuts at Castle Doune in Scotland, where much of Holy Grail was filmed). What more do I need to say? Let’s go to Camelot! Yes, it is a silly place, but that’s what I love about it.
(12) WAIT UP. io9’s Germain Lussier’s post “This Mysterious New Droid Is Rolling Around the Star Wars Section at D23 Expo” has photos, though apparently they weren’t easy to get.
Disney loves a good surprise, and fans at the D23 Expo in Anaheim got plenty of those over the weekend. One of the more subtle ones featured a brand new droid, rolling around the display for the new theme park additions called Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge.
The droid definitely resembles other Star Wars droids you know, kind of a R5 droid’s body with 2-1B arms. But, according to Walt Disney Imagineers in the area, it does not yet have an official Star Wars distinction. In fact, the may not even be part of Galaxy’s Edge when it opens in 2019. It’s just kind of an experiment at how droids and humans who are just mulling around can interact. And let me tell you, it’s not necessarily a smooth relationship.
The Imagineers call this guy “Jake” and he would not stand still for a photo. You’d set up to snap one, and he’d just start going the other way. Here’s what it’s like.
(13) CONTAINS SOME NUDITY. In fact, that’s what it mostly contains. Chip Hitchcock is convinced fans could break the record at Worldcon 75 if they put it on the program — “Finland naked swimmers bid for biggest skinny dip record”.
Hundreds of naked swimmers have taken to the water in Finland in a bid to break the world record for the biggest naked swim.
Some 789 people at a music festival in eastern Finland went skinny dipping on Saturday, organisers said, beating the previous record set in Australia by just three, reports said.
Organisers were waiting for Guinness World Records to confirm the record.
It is the third Finnish attempt at the record, Yle news website said.
(14) KING’S SECRET IDENTITY. Mental Floss remembers: “Known Alias: How Stephen King Was Outed as Richard Bachman”.
King’s cover endured for a surprisingly long period. But the 1985 release of Thinner would usher in fresh suspicion about Bachman. Unlike the other four novels, Thinner was contemporary King, a hardcover written with the knowledge it was a “Bachman book” and perhaps more self-conscious about its attempt at misdirection. And unlike early-period Bachman, which often featured nihilistic but grounded scenarios—a walking marathon that ends in death, or a game show where prisoners can earn their freedom—Thinner took on more of a horror trope, with a robust lawyer cursed to lose weight by a vengeful gypsy until he’s practically nothing but skin and bone.
When Stephen Brown obtained an advance copy at Olsson’s, he had an innate belief he was reading a King novel. To confirm his suspicions, he visited the Library of Congress to examine the copyrights for each Bachman title. All but one were registered to Kirby McCauley, King’s agent. The remaining title, Rage, was registered to King himself. It was the smoking gun.
(15) IN THE ARCHIVES. The Verge tells you where to find Galaxy —“One of the greatest science fiction magazines is now available for free online”.
If you like classic science fiction, one of the genre’s best magazines can now be found online for free. Archive.org is now home to a collection of Galaxy Science Fiction, which published some of the genre’s best works, such as an early version of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man.
The collection contains 355 separate issues, ranging from 1950 through 1976. Open Culture notes that it’s not quite the entire run of the magazine, but it’s got plenty of material to keep fans occupied for years. It includes stories from science fiction legends such as Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Clifford Simak, and Theodore Sturgeon. There are also some underappreciated authors who deserve re-discovery, such as Kris Neville, Alan E. Nourse, or John Christopher. (Sadly, like most publications of this era, female SF authors were underrepresented.)
(16) LAST-MINUTE VOTING. Spacefaring Kitten got in under the wire with a second set of Hugo recommendations.
— Spacefaring Kitten (@SpacefaringK) July 15, 2017
(17) NAME ABOVE THE TITLE. Stan Lee is rebranding his Los Angeles convention. The Hollywood Reporter has the story: “Stan Lee Reintroduces His L.A. Convention: New Name, Even Greater Ambitions”.
Stan Lee is putting Los Angeles on the map in a new way.
The legendary comic book creator is not only getting a citywide day named in his honor (Oct. 28), he is also rebranding his popular pop culture convention Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo and giving it a new name: Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con.
Comic book fans area rejoiced when Lee launched his convention in 2011, and for Lee, the name change makes sense when major cities from New York to San Diego have flagship conventions bearing their cities’ names.
“I felt that a lot of people didn’t know what Comikaze really meant or what it was. And I didn’t think we should hide under a bushel,” Lee tells Heat Vision of the con, which runs Oct. 28-30. “Los Angeles is, to me, the center of the world’s entertainment. It has to have a Comic Con.”
(18) FUNNY AND DIE. Reason TV is getting in on the new season, too, with Game of Thrones: Libertarian Edition.
As HBO’s blockbuster series Game of Thrones returns for its seventh season, Reason offers its own freedom-filled parody. A libertarian paradise north of the wall? What’s happened to Westeros’ social security trust fund? Should it take low-income Dothraki four years to get a hair-braiding license? Watch!
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, Colin Kuskie, JJ, Cat Eldridge, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]
(1) HEATING UP AND COOLING OFF. The current edition of WNYC’s On the Media talks extensively on SF and climate change:
Science fiction has always been an outlet for our greatest anxieties. This week, we delve into how the genre is exploring the reality of climate change. Plus: new words to describe the indescribable.
- Jeff VanderMeer @jeffvandermeer, author of the Southern Reach Trilogyand Borne, on writing about the relationships between people and nature.
- Claire Vaye Watkins @clairevayetalks about Gold Fame Citrus, her work of speculative fiction in which an enormous sand dune threatens to engulf the southwest.
- Kim Stanley Robinson discusses his latest work, New York 2140. The seas have risen 50 feet and lower Manhattan is submerged. And yet, there’s hope.
- British writer Robert Macfarlane @RobGMacfarlaneon new language for our changing world.
Throughout the show: listeners offer their own new vocabulary for the Anthropocene era. Many thanks to everyone who left us voice memos!
(2) ECONOMIC IMPACT. Some businessman are paying attention: “How climate change will transform business and the workforce”.
Right now, the top 10 most-desired skills for getting hired, according to LinkedIn’s data analysis, all have to do with tech: think cloud computing, SEO marketing and web architecture. In the same way tech has transformed today’s workforce, some say that climate change could transform tomorrow’s.
One industry that already shows some of that evolution is energy. According to data provided by job listings search engine Indeed, in the first quarter of 2014 in the UK, job postings in the renewable energy sector – made up of bioenergy, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, and wind – accounted for a third (32.9%) of all energy-sector job postings in the first quarter of 2014. In 2017, that had risen to over half of all energy sector job postings, or 51.5%.
(3) MORE ON BUTLER MUSEUM EXHIBIT. In “Octavia Butler: Writing Herself Into The Story”, NPR goes behind the scenes of the Butler exhibit at the Huntington.
“Octavia Butler: Telling My Stories” is an exhibit currently at the Huntington Library, in the Pasadena suburb of San Marino, Calif. Curator Natalie Russell went through some “8,000 manuscripts, letters and photographs, and an additional 80 boxes of ephemera” to create an exhibition that shows, in chronological order, how Butler’s career was born and evolved, and what influenced her.
Large glass cases hold early notebooks and drawings, report cards from her days at Pasadena City College and notes to herself about character development. Early copies of her first editions are here. So is the one-page letter from the MacArthur Foundation notifying Butler she’d been chosen as a fellow in 1995.
…She often made them up while sitting on the porch at her grandmother’s chicken farm, in the High Desert town of Victorville, Calif., where she dreamed about animals. The drawings of horses that illustrated one of her early stories are on the walls at the Huntington. After Devil Girl, though, Butler switched to science fiction, determined to make that her career.
Creating her own path
That was astonishing, because the world was not full of well-paid science fiction writers, and with very few exceptions, all of those were male and white. No one like Butler existed in the genre. And that didn’t seem to hold Butler back one bit. “I don’t recall every having wanted desperately to be a black woman fiction writer,” she told Rose. “I wanted to be a writer.”
(4) SHUFFLING INTO HISTORY. Here’s what Magic fans can look forward to at San Diego Comic-Con: “Magic the Gathering Reveal Their SDCC Exclusive”.
- “Magic: The Gathering 2017 Planeswalker Pack” – $180.00
Includes a 24” x 36” screen print of Nicol Bolas illustrated by Brandon Holt. Produced in collaboration with Mondo. Printed by D&L on Magic: The Gathering card stock. Nicol Bolas is an iconic Magic character who first made an appearance in the game in 1994 and has been a powerful fan favorite since.
- 6 Planeswalker cards with exclusive artwork by illustrator, Vincent Proce
Characters include Gideon Jura™, Jace Beleren®, Liliana Vess®, Chandra Nalaar®, Nissa Revane™ & Nicol Bolas™
(5) FUTURAMA GAME. SyFy beats everyone to the story: “Neat! Futurama returns as a game and we’ve got the scoop”.
It’s been a painfully long four years since the last original Futurama episode graced our screens (insert Kif shudder), but good news everyone, the Planet Express-less universe is no more with the launch of the Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow game available now on iOS and Android.
(6) WANTING MORE. At The Book Smugglers, Thea James advises readers “Where to Start with the Star Wars Expanded Universe”.
Star Wars inspires passion. Everyone has a different experience with the franchise, especially when it comes to opinions regarding touchy subjects like the prequel era, and the subsequent novels and shows to come out of said era.
My experience with Star Wars is probably very similar to many others of my generation: I grew up watching the original trilogy, which I loved very dearly. I watched the prequels when they were released in theaters starting with The Phantom Menace when I was fifteen, and… I enjoyed them. Sure, the writing was horrible and the acting not much better, but I ate it all up because it was more Star Wars. I bought into the prequel era, even as I felt it was falwed and lacking the emotional gravitas I so desperately wanted. I collected Pepsi bottles featuring different members of the galactic senate and other key characters, I obsessively played Rogue Squadron and, yes, Episode I: Racer, among others.
I bought into all of this because I was hungry for more of the universe I loved, and I wanted answers. I wanted to learn more about Dooku’s fall from grace and the rise of the Sith. I wanted to understand the corruption in the Senate beyond a cursory few scenes across three movies; I wanted to feel the cameraderie between Obi-Wan and Anakin, and understand how the Jedi could have been so blind to Palpatine’s machinations.
(7) ON TOP OF THE PILE. Nerds of a Feather finds out what the author is reading in “6 Books with Yoon Ha Lee”.
Yoon Ha Lee’s first novel NINEFOX GAMBIT was shortlisted for the Nebula, Hugo, and Clarke awards. He lives in Louisiana with his family and an extremely lazy cat, and has not yet been eaten by gators. Today he shares his 6 books with us…
What book are you currently reading?
I’m rereading John Wick’s PLAY DIRTY 2, which is by a game designer and features a collection of tips for tabletop roleplaying and game masters. I find a lot of the narrative tricks and discussions really useful for thinking about how to construct a narrative even in a non-game format. I don’t always agree with Wick, but he’s thought-provoking, intelligent, and interesting.
(8) BEASTLY TV. Echo Ishii excavates another ancient TV series in “SF/Horror Obscure: Beasts”.
Beasts is a short run anthology horror show by Nigel Kneale, the creator of Qatermass.
(If you don’t know Qatermass it was one of the first serious SF TV serials and inspired Doctor Who among other things.) Nigel Kneale has a long and distinguished career in SF and horror.
Beasts originally ran in 1976 on ITV, as six episodes (50min). They are connected by a loose them of strange creatures and horrific circumstances, but the real power lies in the often unsympathetic but completely compelling characters. There are many recognizable actors in the series including Martin Shaw (Inspector George Gently!!!) and Micheal Kitchen (Inspector Foyle!!). I’m a huge fan of British TV mysteries-I’ve watched more of Midsomer Murders than is healthy.
(9) J.K. ROWLING’S LOST MANUSCRIPT. In an interview with CNN, Rowling revealed that she has written yet another fairy tale — but this one may never be published.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: I read that you were considering writing a political book for children, young people?
J.K. ROWLING: Oh, that was a fairy tale …
But I — I will tell you this. On my 50th — the theme of my 50th birthday, which I held at Halloween, even though that’s not really my birthday, was come as your own private nightmare. And I went as a lost manuscript. And I wrote over a dress most of that book. So that book, I don’t know whether it will ever be published, but it’s actually hanging in a wardrobe currently.
(10) MORE REVELATIONS. In “The Potter Family” on Pottermore J.K. Rowling looks at the history of the Potter family going back to the 12th century and reveals that Harry Potter is actually the second person in his family named “Harry Potter” since his great-grandfather also had the same name.
Potter is a not uncommon Muggle surname, and the family did not make the so-called ‘Sacred Twenty-Eight’ for this reason; the anonymous compiler of that supposedly definitive list of pure-bloods suspected that they had sprung from what he considered to be tainted blood. The wizarding Potter family had illustrious beginnings, however, some of which was hinted at in Deathly Hallows.
In the Muggle world ‘Potter’ is an occupational surname, meaning a man who creates pottery. The wizarding family of Potters descends from the twelfth-century wizard Linfred of Stinchcombe, a locally well-beloved and eccentric man, whose nickname, ‘the Potterer’, became corrupted in time to ‘Potter’. Linfred was a vague and absent-minded fellow whose Muggle neighbours often called upon his medicinal services. None of them realised that Linfred’s wonderful cures for pox and ague were magical; they all thought him a harmless and lovable old chap, pottering about in his garden with all his funny plants.
(11) MAGIC IS TURNING MUGGLES INTO MONEY. Behind a paywall in the Financial Times, Emma Jacobs has a lot more info about Rowling’s business activities. The news includes:
- If you try to find Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross station, you won’t find the Hogwarts Express, but there is a Potter gift shop and Potter fans from around the world
- One of the rules Rowling has imposed is that there are to be no Harry Potter tie ins with fast food.
- “The challenge is to stretch the franchise without breaking it.” Jacobs spoke to children’s marketing consultant Gary Pope, who says the Toklien movies–particularly the three Hobbit films– was a franchise “that got too complicated and grown up, and you can’t sell merchandising to adults.”
(12) TODAY IN HISTORY
- July 10, 1981 — John Carpenter’s Escape from New York premiered.
- July 10, 1985 – Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome opened in theatres.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS
- Born July 10, 1923 – Earl Hamner Jr., of The Twilight Zone (“You Drive”) and The Waltons.
- Born July 10, 1926 — Fred Gwynne (Herman Munster).
- Born July 10, 1929 – George Clayton Johnson
(14) COMIC SECTION. John King Tarpinian recommends Brevity’s “cool” Star Wars joke.
(15) SCALZI COLLECTION. Subterranean Press has announced a new collection of John Scalzi’s nonfiction, Don’t Live For Your Obituary.
Between 2008 and 2017, author John Scalzi wrote fifteen books, became a New York Times bestselling author, and won numerous awards, including the Hugo, the Locus and the Governor’s Award for the Arts in Ohio. He also had book deals crater, lost more awards than he won, worried about his mortgage and health insurance, flubbed a few deadlines, tried to be a decent parent and husband, and got into some arguments on the Internet, because, after all, that’s what the Internet is for.
Scalzi wrote about it all—the highs and lows in the life of a working writer—and gave his readers, and other writers, a glimpse of the day-to-day business of navigating a writing life in today’s world. Sometimes these essays offered advice. Sometimes they commented on the practical business of publishing and selling books. Sometimes they focused on the writing issues, arguments and personalities of the day. And sometimes, Scalzi reflected on his own writing life and career, and what both meant in the larger scheme of things….
(16) CONVERGENCE PLAUDITS. Here’s a couple of highly complimentary threads about the just completed CONvergence:
Also: #cvg2017 is the single most smart, fun, enthusiastically inclusive fan event in these United States of America. Fight me.
— Tex Thompson (@tex_maam) July 8, 2017
As Standback says, “It’s really nice to see people highlighting a convention that knocks it out of the park.”
— April King (@CubeApril) July 9, 2017
(17) THE FELAPTON FILE. Here’s Camestros Felapton’s take on the Hugo-nominated novellas:
- Every Heart a Doorway: Weird – I didn’t think this would be my number one when I read it. It has sort of got the spot by default. The novellas were a struggle between the familiar and the experimental and sometimes a struggle with making the experimental familiar or making the familiar experimental. None of them quite manged the achievements of the others but Every Heart came closest.
(18) HUGO REVIEWS. Edmonton’s Hugo Award Book Club has reached the short stuff: “Hugos 2017 — Short Stories”. They say Wong and Wright are at the bottom of their ballot.
The most perplexing nominee — A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers by Alyssa Wong — is a frenetic time-hopping story about a girl and her sister who have magical (electrical?) powers. The story may be about suicide, or it may be about the end of the world. There’s very little overall narrative thread to hold onto. In portions of the text, it feels like Wong is stringing words together into paragraphs without the traditional intermediary step of sentences. We can appreciate the artfulness of this style of writing, but it is not to our tastes…..
An Unimaginable Light is probably the best John C. Wright story that we’ve read — in no small part because it’s based around a couple of interesting notions about the ability of robots to interpret Asimov’s Three Laws in ways that their creators never intended. Although the ‘twist’ ending seems to come out of nowhere, that ending is at least built around an interesting idea concerning what it means to be human.
That being said, Wright’s slightly didactic prose and aggressive thesaurus use isn’t to our taste, nor is the way he seems to delight in the sexual degradation of one of the characters. This won’t be at the top of our ballot, but we can understand why some fans chose to nominate it.
(19) SPINE OUT OF ALIGNMENT. I wonder how often this happens? The collaboration by Larry Correia and John Ringo titled Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge came out this month, unfortunately, on the spine it read: “Larry Correia – Monster Hunter Nemesis.” B&N College HQ distributed a warning: “Simon & Schuster has issued a “return in place” for the following book due to a production error – the spine has a different title listed than the front cover of the book. Ooops! Please destroy all inventory as soon as possible.”
Correia also blogged about it: “Monster Hunter Grunge came out while I was away. Apparently the cover and interior are fine, but they had the spine of Monster Hunter Nemesis. Publishing screw ups happen, so this print run is being destroyed and replaced.”
(20) CORREIA RECUSAL. The same post also reminded people to vote for the Dragon Awards, with this request:
So please, participate, go an nominate whatever you think was awesome. Except don’t nominate me for anything. I won one last year, so I’m recusing myself from now on. Share the love!
(21) GRACE HOPPER COLLEGE GETS SUITABLE ARMS. Following up the Scroll item some months ago about one of Yale’s colleges replacing John C. Calhoun’s name with a modern one: “Grace Hopper coat of arms”.
The Grace Hopper College coat of arms became official on July 1, 2017.
Grace Murray Hopper’s accomplishments and qualities of character offer rich opportunities for visualization, and for representing the College’s transformation. The blue of the shield reflects the colors of Yale and of the U.S. Navy, where Hopper rose to the rank of Rear Admiral. The dolphin – thought of in the early days of heraldry as the ‘sovereign’ and ‘guiding light of the sea’ – represents Hopper’s exemplary personal and professional record of leadership. The ‘semé’ of white circles and vertical rectangles – evoking zeros and ones in this case – recognizes her contributions to mathematics and computer science. The scalloped bar at the top of the design gestures at waves or horizon, and links the College’s visual history to the patterns and colors of a new time.
(22) STORMS AHEAD. BBC News has been highlighting the images the Juno probe has been taking of Jupiter. The images of the polar regions showing a multitude of storms, each larger than Earth, all pressed up against each other are spectacular.
(23) VIDEO OF THE DAY. SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival 2017 Trailer previews, in two minutes, 19 animated films that will be shown at the SIGGRAPH convention in Los Angeles later this month.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Bill Burns, Dann Todd, Harold Osler, IanP, Michael J. Walsh, Chip Hitchcock, and Standback for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day lauowolf.]
(1) STAR WARS CARTOONS. In a Yahoo! Movies piece called “New ‘Star Wars’ Cartoon Shorts Debut Online, Bringing Female Heroes in Full Force”, Marcus Errico says that Disney is releasing sixteen three-minute cartoons online featuring female Star Wars heroes, The first, “Sands of Jakku” is online and has Daisy Ridley in it.
Lucasfilm Animation has produced an initial run of 16 shorts. New shorts will arrive daily at YouTube.com/Disney ahead of their broadcast premiere on the Disney Channel on July 9. Future episodes will center on Princess Leia, Padmé Amidala, Rogue One‘s Jyn Erso, The Clone Wars fan favorite Ahsoka Tano, and Sabine Wren from Star Wars Rebels, with each installment narrated by Maz Kanata and featuring John Williams’s seminal soundtrack.
In addition to Ridley, film stars John Boyega (Finn), Felicity Jones (Jyn) and Lupita Nyong’o (Maz) will reprise their roles, as will key talent from the TV series Clone Wars and Rebels, including Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka), Tiya Sicar (Sabine), and Vanessa Marshall (Hera Syndulla).
“The movies tell these epic heroes’ journeys, big pieces of mythology,” Carrie Beck, VP of Lucasfilm Story and Animation and a producer of Forces of Destiny, told Yahoo Movies earlier this year. “For this, we thought these stories could tell those moments of everyday heroism… the kind of stories that would be appropriate over two to three minutes.”
(2) UNHOLY ROAD TRIP. The LA Times questions “Neil Gaiman on the ‘American Gods’ season finale and what’s on tap for Season 2”.
The first season of Starz’s ambitious “American Gods” ended on the brink of a godly brawl. But Neil Gaiman, an executive producer of the series and author of the book from which it is adapted, teases that his divine road trip across the secret supernatural back roads of the United States is just beginning…
Did you have an emotional reaction to the end of the first season of “American Gods?”
I have all sorts of emotions.…I’m fascinated by how involved people are. How grumpy they are about the fact that, now they got their eight episodes, they have to wait for another season. I love watching the joy of having faces that plug into these characters who were names and descriptions in the book. I’m loving seeing how people argue online. There are people out there who think Laura [Moon, played by Emily Browning] is the best female character that they’ve ever seen on television.And there are people who would pay good money to make sure that she never appears on their screen ever again, but they love the whole series apart from her.
(3) GUESS WHO JOINED GAB. GAB is the new message platform popular with Vox Day, Jon Del Arroz, and others who find Twitter hasn’t always appreciated the way they exercise their freedom of speech.
And, unexpectedly, it now is someplace you can find Brianna Wu:
Why did I join Gab? Well, joining App.net early (another Twitter competitior) was amazing for my career. It was a networking goldmine. The other part is, I’m running for congress in a part of Massachusetts with many conservatives. Listening to the other side helps me be a better candidate.
(4) SOCIETY OF ILLUSTRATORS. Top fantastic illustrators Wayne Barlowe, Donato Giancola, Greg Manchess will demonstrate their skills and techniques in an open forum at the Society of Illustrators in New York on July 8 from Noon to 4 p.m.
Plus! Have your portfolios reviewed by renowned art directors Irene Gallo (Associate Publisher, Tor.com/ Creative Director, Tor Books) and Lauren Panepinto (Creative Director, Orbit Books/ Yen Press). 15 minutes reviews. Reservations required
Admission: $50 Non-members | $40 Members | $20 Students/ seniors (Undergrad with valid ID) Price includes the catalog from The Korshak Collection: Illustrations of Imaginative Literature.
(5) SPACE SALVATION. Sylvia Engdahl revives a philosophical debate in “Space colonization, faith, and Pascal’s Wager” at The Space Review.
In his essay “Escaping Earth: Human Spaceflight as Religion” published in the journal Astropolitics, historian Roger Launius argues that enthusiasm for space can be viewed as a religion. He focuses mainly on comparisons with the outer trappings of religion, many of which are apt, but in one place he reaches the heart of the issue. “Like those espousing the immortality of the human soul among the world’s great religions… statements of humanity’s salvation through spaceflight are fundamentally statements of faith predicated on no knowledge whatsoever.”
I think Launius may be somewhat too pessimistic in his assertion that we have no knowledge whatsoever about our ability to develop technology that will enable humans live in the hostile environment of space, but that is beside the point. It’s true that we have no assurance that the colonization of space will ensure the long-term survival of humankind. “Absent the discovery of an Earthlike habitable exoplanet to which humanity might migrate,” Launius continues, “this salvation ideology seems problematic, a statement of faith rather than knowledge or reason.” And the accessibility of such an exoplanet is questionable, since by current knowledge it will not be possible to cross interstellar space rapidly enough to achieve much migration.
It is indeed faith that underlies the conviction that traveling beyond our home world will prevent the extinction of the human race. But Launius’ presentation of this fact seems to imply that it lessens the significance of such a conviction, as if beliefs supported by mere faith were not to be taken seriously. That is far from the case, as the history of human civilization clearly shows. Most major advances have been made by people who had faith in what they envisioned before they were able to produce evidence; that was what made them keep working toward it. Having faith in the future, whether a personal future or that of one’s successors, has always been what inspires human action.
On what grounds can faith without evidence be justified? This issue was addressed by the 17th century philosopher Blaise Pascal in what is known as Pascal’s Wager, now considered the first formal use of decision theory. Pascal was considering whether is rational to believe in God, but the principle he formulated has been applied to many other questions. In his words, “Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.” If on the other hand, you bet on it being false and it turns out to be true, you lose everything; thus to do so would be stupid if the stakes are high.
(6) NEXT AT KGB. “Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series” hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Karen Neuler and Genevieve Valentine on July 19 at the KGB Bar. The event starts at 7 p.m.
Karen Heuler’s stories have appeared in over 100 literary and speculative magazines and anthologies, from Conjunctions to Clarkesworld to Weird Tales, as well as a number of Best Of anthologies. She has received an O. Henry award, been a finalist for the Iowa short fiction award, the Bellwether award, the Shirley Jackson award for short fiction (twice), and a bunch of other near-misses. She has published four novels and three story collections, and this month Aqueduct Press released her novella, In Search of Lost Time, about a woman who can steal time.
Genevieve Valentine is an author and critic. Her most recent book is the near-future spy novel ICON; her short fiction has appeared in over a dozen Best of the Year anthologies. Her comics work includes Catwoman for DC Comics and the Attack on Titan anthology from Kodansha. Her criticism and reviews have appeared in several venues including the AV Club, the Atlantic, and The New York Times. Please ask her about the new King Arthur movie.
(7) AMBIENT TRIBUTE TO DUNE SERIES. April Larson, a Louisiana ambient/drone/noise musician, has released a tribute album to the original Dune trilogy and the other Dune-related novels on Bandcamp.
It is titled “You Stand in a Valley Between Dunes” and the album features tracks with names such as “The Fall of Ix (Core Instability Mix),” “Lady Jessica,” and “Guild Navigator (Junction).”
April Larson is the representative of a tribe of naga located along the coast of Louisiana. She translates music into sense- data… through a collection of three interlaced brains. She continues her research in oneironautic listening and regularly delivers lectures on relevant tone-clusters to beehives and ghosts.
(8) RYAN OBIT. YouTuber Stevie Ryan (1984-2017): American comedian, actress and writer; found dead by apparent suicide on 3 July, aged 33. She appeared as a version of herself in the experimental thriller John Doe: Diary of a Serial Killer (2015, but apparently never released).
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
- July 3, 1985 — Back to the Future released, features 1981 DeLorean DMC-12.
- July 3, 1985 — George Romero’s Day of the Dead is seen for the first time.
- July 3, 1996 – Independence Day was released.
(10) FACE IN A DUFF CROWD. Paul Weimer took this picture on his trip Down Under. I’ve interacted with Ian Mond online but I’ve never seen him before.
— Paul Weimer (@PrinceJvstin) July 3, 2017
(11) SKIFFY AND FANTY POLL. Man, this is a hard one!
It's #PollMondays. Here we go!
Of the following movies, which one is the most excruciatingly terrible? Take the poll 🙂
— Skiffy and Fanty ? (@SkiffyandFanty) July 3, 2017
(12) BEWARE DOCTOR WHO SPOILER NEWS. You’ve been warned. Tariq Kyle, in “’Doctor Who’ season 10 finale explained: Yes, that is who you think it is” on Hypable, says that the mysterious guy in the end of the Season 10 finale of Doctor Who is in fact William Hartnell (played by David Bradley) and that Hartnell and Peter Capaldi will survive until this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special, at which time Capaldi will regenerate.
Doctor Who season 10 just ended with a cliffhanger that none of us saw coming, and if you’re wondering who the mysterious new character is and where they are in the Doctor’s timeline, then check out our explanation!
Obviously, if you haven’t seen the season 10 finale of Doctor Who yet, beware of huge spoilers. If you continue on and you don’t want to be spoiled, then ¯\_(?)_/¯.
(13) CHILL FACTOR. Reason TV has put out a video called “Mark Hamill v. Autographed Memorabilia: The Revenge of the Dark Side,” which is mostly about Bill Petrocelli of the San Francisco-based chain Book Passage and how his company will be affected by the California autograph law. The impetus for the law was Mark Hamill’s complaining about fake Hamill autographs, which caught the ear of the legislator who had the law introduced.
(14) WHAT AUNT MAY HAS TO SAY. This is not your uncle’s Aunt May: “WATCH: Marisa Tomei on making Aunt May cooler than Peter in Spider-Man: Homecoming”.
What is different is Aunt May herself. Let’s face it, Tiger: May has never been cooler than she is now, as portrayed by Oscar-winning actress Marisa Tomei. She’s much younger than she’s ever been portrayed in the comics or any of the previous Spider-Man feature films. The fact that the age difference between Peter and May is much less adds a new dynamic to their relationship … but, thankfully, not even a hint of sexual tension. (Hey, the actress brought it up, not me!)
SYFY WIRE talked with Tomei about how her Aunt May still worries about Peter, primarily about the fact that he doesn’t seem to have a social life. We also talked about whether May trusts Tony Stark as Peter’s mentor and what she wants to see in an Aunt May action figure.
(15) WHAT’S MY LINE? Meanwhile, back in the Sunday funnies: “Spider-Man and His Inker: Wrists Still Going Strong a Half-Century Later”. Joe Sinnott in his studio; several photos.
Joe Sinnott says spider webs drive him crazy, even though he has been drawing them for over 50 years for one of the world’s most famous superheroes.
“They’ve got to be so accurate, and they’ve got to be the same all the time,’’ he said. “It takes me about three days to do two pages.”
At 90, Mr. Sinnott still brings to life the action tales spun by Stan Lee, the co-creator of Spider-Man, continuing a collaboration begun in 1950 when Mr. Sinnott first went to work for Mr. Lee at what later became Marvel Comics. “Imagine having the same boss for 67 years,” Mr. Sinnott said. He added that they should be in the Guinness World Records book.
With pen and brush, he keeps Spider-Man flying over New York City, soaring from skyscraper to skyscraper, in a never-ending battle against supervillains. “It just takes time putting all those lines, and the tiny spider on Spider-Man’s chest, in such a small space,” Mr. Sinnott said.
(16) WEB REVIEW. The BBC says the new Spider-Man is “fun”.
The makers of Spider-Man: Homecoming have remembered something that the makers of almost every other recent superhero film have forgotten. They’ve remembered that if you’re going to tell a story about someone in a skin-tight costume who can throw cars around like frisbees, then it should probably be fun for all the family. That’s not to say that superhero movies can’t be used to lecture us on the international arms trade, or to examine why allies fall out and turn against each other. But sometimes they should return to their comic-book roots, and offer snazzy, buoyant entertainment for children as well as for their parents – and that’s what the latest Spider-Man film does.
Chip Hitchcock sent the link with a comment: “The story complains that the ‘gauche, geekily enthusiastic youngster with a pubescent squeak of a voice’ isn’t true to the comics; does anyone remember what Parker was like in the very early comics, when he was still in high school (as in the movie)?”
(17) SUNK COST. A first-class ticket to see the Titanic: “The ‘merman’ facing a Titanic mission”
Next year he will be taking dozens of paying passengers down about 12,500ft (nearly 2.4 miles or 3.8km) to the wreck of the Titanic, 370 miles south-southeast of Newfoundland.
OceanGate, the US firm behind the dives, says more people have been into space or climbed Mount Everest than have visited the Titanic’s final resting place.
The firm stresses that it is a survey expedition and not a tourist trip.
Over six weeks from next May, David will make repeated dives in a new carbon fibre submersible called Cyclops 2, designed to withstand depths of up to 4,000m.
On each trip to the bottom of the ocean, he will take three “mission specialists” – passengers who are underwriting the expedition – and a “content expert” with a good working knowledge of the wreck
The expedition doesn’t come cheap. Each one of the 54 people who have signed up for the deep dive is paying $105,129 for the privilege.
(18) LINEUP, SIGN UP, AND RE-ENLIST TODAY. The Washington Post’s Steve Hendrix asks “There are already four-hour lines at Walt Disney World’s new ‘Avatar’-themed attraction. Does Pandora live up to the hype?” And he answers that the Avatar-based “Pandora” section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a “trippy, tropical” and “an authentically immersive land that soothes even as it dazzles,” but prepared to wait four hours to get on the two rides in the section.
The Disney iteration, though, takes place generations after the miners have been driven out (hopefully with ample job-retraining for these victims of the War on Unobtanium) and the peacefully gigantic blue Na’vi of Pandora are busy restoring it to space-age splendor. That ingenious conceit allowed planners to combine dystopian ruins (the colossal exo-armor battle suit from the movie’s climax sits rusting outside the gift shop) with lush streambeds and flowering vines.
(19) SUBTRACTION BY DIVISION. Lela E. Buis, in “Does the Hugo really represent fandom?”, totes up the racial and sexual minorities among this year’s Hugo-nominated fiction authors only to find a problem with this diversity. And what is that problem?
So, what are the chances that SFF fandom as a whole would elect this ballot? Remember that taste is never random, but with equal participation I’d expect the SFF readership demographics should roughly match the ballot for a popular award. Assuming that everyone participates, of course.
What does that mean? If the right people were voting for the Hugos the list of winners would look like the Dragon Awards? Is that what this is code for?
(20) APPROPRIATION V. EXCHANGE. K. Tempest Bradford wrote a commentary NPR that declares “Cultural Appropriation Is, In Fact, Indefensible”.
…Cultural appropriation can feel hard to get a handle on, because boiling it down to a two-sentence dictionary definition does no one any favors. Writer Maisha Z. Johnson offers an excellent starting point by describing it not only as the act of an individual, but an individual working within a “power dynamic in which members of a dominant culture take elements from a culture of people who have been systematically oppressed by that dominant group.”
That’s why appropriation and exchange are two different things, Johnson says — there’s no power imbalance involved in an exchange. And when artists appropriate, they can profit from what they take, while the oppressed group gets nothing.
I teach classes and seminars alongside author and editor Nisi Shawl on Writing the Other, and the foundation of our work is that authors should create characters from many different races, cultures, class backgrounds, physical abilities, and genders, even if — especially if — these don’t match their own. We are not alone in this. You won’t find many people advising authors to only create characters similar to themselves. You will find many who say: Don’t write characters from minority or marginalized identities if you are not going to put in the hard work to do it well and avoid cultural appropriation and other harmful outcomes. These are different messages. But writers often see or hear the latter and imagine that it means the former….
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for some of these stories and the fried chicken. Other story thanks goes to Rob Thornton, Dann, Steve Green, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, and Cat Eldridge. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]
(1) IN TIMES TO COME. Stephanie Lai’s eye-opening post about strategies for coping with microaggressions on panels and elsewhere at sff cons, “Continuum: First Aid for paper cuts”, is not merely advice, it may be a forecast of what will be happening at cons in the immediate future.
Interrupting micro aggressions in a social setting
Sometimes micro aggressions happen in a panel, but sometimes they occur in the bar or in a conversation or in passing. No Award recommends a few techniques. These are applicable to both the people being aggressed at, and those friends who want to have our backs.
For the extremely non-confrontational or when you just don’t have the patience, go the non-sequitur and change the subject: “Do you like cats? Would you like to look at pictures of mine? Please tell me in detail about your pets.” Always have your cat pictures ready to hand for quick whipping out. You can do this one, I believe in you.
A bit more confronting: “Gosh, I wouldn’t have said that.”
Really lean on in to it: “Wow, that’s an anecdote. How would you relate that to the topic we’re talking about?”
Go for it: “Wow, that’s racist.” “Wow, do you think that’s appropriate?” “Wow, don’t ever talk to me ever again.” GO FOR IT. Make it uncomfortable. They already have.
Please manage this institutionally
This note is specifically directed at my white friends who want to fix the thing. It is also applicable if you are some other sort of not-marginalised voice, such as if you are straight. When you find something that needs to be fixed, please understand that it cannot be fixed by my friend, it has to be fixed by the convention committee. It cannot be fixed by my friend because that’s not how institutional change works. And when we talk about micro aggressions, when I talk about micro aggressions, I’m talking about institutionalised racism.
It’s nice that I have your friendship — and I really value it — but what I really want is the promise of the institution, not the individual.
(2) SPUFFORD INTERVIEW. Gavin Edwards interviewed “Francis Spufford: The Benign Dictator” for Barnes & Noble Review. Spufford, has many sff devotees because of Red Plenty, and such a rich and entertaining discussion of long-ago Manhattan is well worth reading. Gavin Edwards is the New York Times-bestselling author of many books, most recently The Tao of Bill Murray.
BNR: So how did you end up writing about Manhattan in the 1740s?
FS: A random effect of visiting New York: suddenly realizing that once you got down below the grid, the southern tip was strangely like the city of London, down to the same street names. And like the city of London now, also burned down by great fires. So you’ve got a pre-modern net of lanes with enormous glass temples of international finance growing out of them. And I thought, heavens, this is still haunted by the city that was.
I got a photocopy of an eighteenth-century street map and tried to walk lower Manhattan to see if it was still there. And it kind of is, apart from the fact that the shoreline has gone outwards about a block all the way round. There’s nothing above ground level so far as I could see, apart from the tombs in Trinity Church and Bowling Green — which has the same railing around it, although the crowns were snipped off the top with the Revolution….
BNR: There’s a line in the musical Hamilton that New York City is “the greatest city in the world.” While that’s flattering to Broadway audiences, I don’t think most people in the eighteenth century thought of New York as the greatest city in the world.
FS: They didn’t. The strange thing is that it was urban in feeling, even though there was hardly any of it. But Philadelphia was the financial center; New York was this slightly provincial place that exported flour to slave plantations down in Barbados and Jamaica. And in return, turned sugar into rum. Not cosmopolitan. On the contrary, rather suspicious and narrow, Anglo and Dutch and African and very suspicious of the outside world, particularly if it spoke French.
In some ways, satisfyingly the opposite of everything you associate with New York City now. Very small rather than huge, ethnically exclusive rather than a vast melting pot. Very pious rather than being possibly one of the secular places on earth. Very closed and paranoid about the outside world rather than open and curious. And yet, to my fascination, I could still see a recognizable New York?ness in the New York of the 1740s. Even when you can walk end to end in ten minutes, even when everybody in it thinks they’re British or Dutch, there is still something about it as a deal-making city living on its wits, already sure that it’s the center of something, even if they don’t know what yet.
And at his own blog Gavin Edwards put up a bonus bit where he talks about why Red Plenty is appealing to sci-fi fans: “The Golden Age of Francis Spufford”.
(3) LOOKING BACK. Steve Mollmann of Science’s Less Accurate Grandmother reviews “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers” before moving on to the author’s Hugo-nominated sequel.
I also felt very uncomfortable with the way the majority of the crewmembers impose their moral views on one character and their way of life, in a book that was otherwise about celebrating the joys of multiculturalism and (what I guess you might call) multibiologism. I don’t think the book sufficiently made the case that a particular character was being exploited to justify what was done to them against their will.
(4) HALFWAY MARK. The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog makes its picks of “The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of 2017 So Far”.
These 25 novels represent the finest SFF this still young year has to offer. They’re smart, scary, uplifting, terrifying, thrilling, prescient, unforgettable. At the bookstore, at least, it’s been a very good year…so far. Here’s looking at six months’ worth of the best science fiction & fantasy books of 2017.
One of them is –
Six Wakes, by Mur Lafferty A locked-room mystery nestled comfortably inside a big-idea sci-fi premise, Lafferty’s latest is a interstellar page-turner, building a compelling future world of human clones and interstellar travel, and rewriting the rules of the crime novel accordingly. Societal and climate collapse drives humanity to send 2,000 cryo-frozen people to a distant, Earth-like planet on a ship crewed by six criminals who volunteer to be cloned again and again as they shepherd their precious cargo to its final destination. Every time the crew is cloned, they maintain their collective memories. When they wake up at the beginning of the novel, however, their former bodies are dead—brutally murdered in various ways; the ship is in shambles (gravity is off, the controlling artificial intelligence is offline, and they’re off-course); and their memories (and all other records) have been erased. The six have to clean up the mess—but they also have to figure out who killed them and why, and how to survive within a paranoid pressure-cooker of a ship. Lafferty steadily ramps up the tension from the jarring first pages to the nail-biting conclusion. We dare you to stop reading it. Read our review.
(5) SENSE8 NOT ENTIRELY DEAD. SciFiStorm reports Sense8 will return, at least temporarily…
After getting canceled by Netflix earlier this month with some things unresolved, Lana Wachowski, via the official Sense8 Twitter account, explained why she hasn’t said much, but also why she is talking now
Death doesn't let you say goodbye. 2 hour finale episode in the works. Tell your cluster. pic.twitter.com/GHZgGuHwS0
— Sense8 (@sense8) June 29, 2017
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY
- June 29, 1979 – Moonraker was released.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
- Born June 29, 1920 – Ray Harryhausen
Harryhausen receiving his Oscar:
(8) BEEP BEEP KA-CHING. The Associated Press, in “‘Star Wars’ R2-D2 Droid Sells for $2.76M at Auction”, reports that auctioneer Profiles in History sold an R2 D2 made from “parts” of droids used in the Star Wars films for $2.76 million.
A Darth Vader helmet and a Luke Skywalker lightsaber sold for lower sums says The Wrap:
Other “Star Wars” items that were up for auction include Mark Hamill’s “Luke Skywalker lightsaber used in the first two films, which sold for around $450,000 and original concept art by Tom Jung that were used to inspire the movie posters. A Darth Vader helmet from the original film sold for $96,000.
(9) GENRE IN ASIA. In another post at No Award, Stephanie Lai contrasts Western and Asian horror writing in “Continuum: SFFH with Asian characteristics”.
We talked a lot about how horror is not considered a genre when you think about Asia, in large part because the things that are classified as horror in the west are actually just a daily part of life. The telling of ghost stories is very social. We talk about them all the time, like a description of the car that overtook us at the lights or the reason we rejected that house in the cul-de-sac, like the aunty who always compliments your hair.
Mia spoke about finding Australians and people in general less superstitious when she moved to Australia; nobody saying ‘excuse me’ to ant hills. She BEAUTIFULLY described ghost stories as being stories about neighbours you never acknowledge but you know are there. It’s true. I talk a lot about how the unspoken spirits and ghosts rule my family life (the ghosts of Alzheimer’s and accidents; the spirits of bankruptcy and the fire in the oven that never lights first try). It’s a bit like following superstitions just in case, which Mia, Devin and I all agreed we do; but it’s a bit like knowing the ghosts believe in you.
(10) 90 MINUTES LIVE. Videos of two author interviews from 1978 have been posted to YouTube.
(11) SF AUTHOR CARD GAMES. Darrah Chavey is here to introduce Filers to Buddyfight, a Japanese and English card game, of the general genre of Magic: The Gathering or (more accurately) Yu-Gi-Oh!.
What makes this card game more interesting to us is that several of the card characters are the last names of SF authors. So you could put together a game deck consisting of (Arthur C.) Clarke, (Ray) Bradbury, (Ursula) Le Guin, (Robert) Heinlein, (Brian) Aldiss, (Edgar Rice) Burroughs, (Andre) Norton, (Robert F.) Young, (James) Tiptree, (George Alec) Effinger, and (Alfred) Bester.
Each of the characters comes with a “flavor text”, which seems to play to the author. Tiptree is saying “Hehe, I wonder what I should write next…”, and Burroughs says “I’ll survive anywhere as long as I have this sword with me.”
At the following link are sample images of some of the author cards. The Bradbury and Effinger cards are shown below. I have no doubt George Alec Effinger would have been pleased to see himself represented as a figure in a deck of magic game cards.
(12) CHAMBERS. I don’t think I mentioned the announcement earlier this month of Becky Chambers’ next novel, coming out in 2018:
We are thrilled, delighted and ELATED to reveal the title of the next Wayfarers novel!
— Hodderscape (@hodderscape) June 15, 2017
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Darrah Chavey, Martin Morse Wooster, and Elizabeth Fitzgerald’s Earl Grey Editing blog for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day clack.]
(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.]