2016 Edgar Awards

The Mystery Writers of America announced the winners of the 2016 Edgar Awards on April 28.

Among them is Stephen King’s “Obits,” which was just nominated for a Hugo in the Best Novelette category.

Best Novel

  • Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy (Penguin Random House – Dutton)

Best First Novel

  • The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Atlantic – Grove Press)

Best Paperback Original

  • The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney (HarperCollin Publishers – William Morrow)

Best Fact Crime

  • Whipping Boy: The Forty-Year Search for My Twelve-Year-Old Bully by Allen Kurzweil (HarperCollins Publishers – Harper)

Best Juvenile

  • Footer Davis Probably is Crazy Susan Vaught (Simon & Schuster – Paula Wiseman Books)

Best Young Adult

  • A Madness So Discreet by by Mindy McGinnis (HarperCollins Publishers – Katherine Tegen Books)

Best Short Story

  • “Obits” – Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King (Simon & Schuster – Scribner)

TV Episode Teleplay

  • “Gently with the Women” – George Gently, Teleplay by Peter Flannery (Acorn TV)

Robert L. Fish Memorial

  • “Chung Ling Soo’s Greatest Trick” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Russell W. Johnson (Dell Magazines)

Mary Higgins Clark

  • Little Pretty Things by Lori Rader-Day (Prometheus Books – Seventh Street Books)

Grand Master

  • Walter Mosley

Raven Awards

  • Margaret Kinsman, Sisters in Crime

Ellery Queen Award

  • Janet Rudolph, Founder of Mystery Readers International

Pixel Scroll 3/12/16 Crosseyed and Pixelless

(1) A TERRAN ECLIPSE. Click to see the Astronomy Picture of the Day for March 11

This snapshot from deep space captures planet Earth on March 9. The shadow of its large moon is falling on the planet’s sunlit hemisphere. Tracking toward the east (left to right) across the ocean-covered world the moon shadow moved quickly in the direction of the planet’s rotation. Of course, denizens of Earth located close to the shadow track centerline saw this lunar shadow transit as a brief, total eclipse of the Sun. From a spacebased perspective between Earth and Sun, the view of this shadow transit was provided by the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC).

(2) GROKKING THE FULLNESS. In “Fandom Needs to Change to Insure Its Future Survival”, Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson devotes 3,500 words to thinking outside his box on the subject of Worldcons.  (The newer ideas are in the last half of the piece.)

Fandom is growing.  It’s growing tremendously.  Unfortunately, the major percentage of that growth is taking place under the auspices of institutions and organizations that are not themselves fannish (or are fannish so long as being so is in service to making a profit).

As fans, we like to say that we’re not in “competition” with events such as SDCC or Dragoncon.  Not only do we dismiss Anime conventions and multi-media cons as doing something that we’re not doing, we discount the experience that attendees and staff gain from these events.  In our minds there is a difference between the conventions that are connected to fan history and largely follow fannish traditions (you buy a membership, not a ticket;  we don’t pay guest to appear;  we’re focused on the literature; those aren’t real conventions) and those that aren’t.  We go to great pains to try and distinguish the bona fides of small ‘f’ fans and large ‘F’ fans.

But here’s the problem:  the non-traditional conventions are offering the vast majority of “fannish experiences” these days.  Traditional conventions have such a small footprint in national awareness that so far as most potential fans are concerned, non-traditional events ARE fandom.

In short, it is non-traditional events that are educating the public about what fandom is and what it’s all about.  Not traditional fandom.

(3) INCOMING. Neil Clarke analyzed the “2015 Clarkesworld Submissions Stats”, complete with beautiful graphs.

In 2015, we received submissions from 109 different countries. In the above chart, the blue bar represents the percentage of total submissions for that country. The green bar indicates the percentage of all acceptances. (Reminder: The Chinese translations are handled by a separate process and not included in these numbers.)

Note: If you feel inclined to proclaim that this data indicates that I have a bias towards international submissions, perhaps you should read this editorial. That said, it pleases me that Clarkesworld has a more global representation of science fiction. There’s a lot of great work written beyond our shores.

(4) AND A DEAFENING REPORT. James H. Burns had a blinding insight.

Hanging out at Joe Koch’s comics warehouse the other day, it suddenly occured to me, that if Barry West was Catholic, he would have no problem with Lent.

(Or, if he were Jewish, no problem with Yom Kippur.)

Why?

Because the Flash is the FASTEST man alive.

(5) SILENT SPRING AHEAD. Matt Novak has a clever question – “What Time Is The End of The Daylight?”

What time is the end of the daylight? The sun is expected to die in roughly 5 billion years. But humans—provided we survive any number of ecological, nuclear, or alien-based disasters—are only expected to last about another 1 billion years on Earth.

So technically the “daylight” will be over for humanity in 1 billion years, which is again, predicated upon the absurd assumption that we make it that long anyway.

(6) YA WORLDBUILDING. Alwyn Hamilton picks “The Top 10 invented worlds in teen books” for The Guardian.

8) Crown & Court Series by Sherwood Smith

I have recently been led to understand that the world in Sherwood Smith’s brilliant duology is supposed to be ours, set far in the future on a distant planet, where the magic is alien science. This would certainly explain why they share many touchstones with our world, while also having two moons for the characters to gaze up at and trees willing to exact revenge. But the true magic in these books for me is in the complexities of the ballroom. Smith has created a complete court to rival Versailles in intrigue, with fan language, complicated symbolism woven covertly into jewelry, long lineage that gives you the feeling every character does have a twisting family tree, and old traditions so tangible you’re sure they must have been in fashion once in our world too.

(7) CHICKENS, NOT POTATOES. This week’s The Simpsons has a Bradbury-esque title: “The Marge-ian Chronicles.”

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • March 12, 1971 The Andromeda Strain opens in theaters.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY.

  • Born March 12, 1923 – Mercury astronaut Wally Schirra.

(10) UNCORK NO ALIEN BEFORE ITS TIME. Io9 will hook you up: “Orson Welles Hosted a NASA Documentary About Aliens in the ’70s and It Is Amazing”

It is damn near impossible to explain the joy that comes from watching Who’s Out There, a documentary on aliens made by NASA in 1975 starring real scientists, regular people, and then Orson Welles, pontificating into the camera. I cannot emphasize this enough: Spend half an hour watching this.

(11) FEARSOME. “11 Books That Scared The Master of Horror, Stephen King, And Will Terrify You, Too” from Bustle.com.

King obviously has a way with words, and his Twitter is no exception. Full of hilarious thoughts and weekly answers to reader questions, it’s always entertaining. He alternates between adorable tweets featuring his dog, Molly (aka The Thing of Evil), and recommending the books he’s reading. Being the master of horror that he is, I consider him an authority on recommendations in that genre. You could make an entire reading list based on Stephen King recommendations, and be set for a long time.

Here are 11 books that scared the unshakable Stephen King, and so are pretty much guaranteed to keep you up at night and/or give you nightmares. But hey, that’s the fun part!

(12) RAGE SHORTAGE. Lela E. Buis dropped a post about J.K. Rowling into the well of the internet but never heard it splash —  “No comments on cultural appropriation?”

Since I’ve not gotten any comments on this question at all, I’m going to assume either 1) it’s Saturday and everyone is out enjoying the spring weather or 2) there’s not much interest in what J. K. Rowling publishes on her Website.

Besides this, I’m not sure there’s a whole lot of concern about cultural appropriation except as a tool to attack people who are perceived as targets in some way. I expect Native Americans are fairly used to being abused, so another semi-fictional essay on skinwalkers isn’t going to affect their social outlook one way or the other.

(13) THE LONG VIEW. “11 Amazing Discoveries By the Mars Orbiter”  at Mashable.

4. Fresh craters

The MRO has also treated scientists to views of relatively fresh craters on Mars.

One crater — which appeared in photos in 2010 — was not in images taken in 2008, meaning that whatever impact created the crater happened in between those years.

(14) THE ZERO LIFE. “Fukushima’s ground zero: No place for man or robot” from Reuters.

The robots sent in to find highly radioactive fuel at Fukushima’s nuclear reactors have “died”; a subterranean “ice wall” around the crippled plant meant to stop groundwater from becoming contaminated has yet to be finished. And authorities still don’t know how to dispose of highly radioactive water stored in an ever mounting number of tanks around the site.

(15) BATMAN SINGS. In the episode of The Hollywood Palace originally aired October 8, 1966 Adam West sings “The Orange Colored Sky” and “The Summer Wind.”

(16) IT’S GOT CHARACTER. “Ed Wood’s ‘Plan 9’ Studio To Be Preserved” says LA Weekly.

A storied Hollywood building once used by late pulp film director Ed Wood will be preserved by its new owners, said the sellers’ agent, Kay Sasatomi of Silver Commercial Inc.

That’s good news for fans of the low-budget auteur and for fans of the low-budget building.

The 13,650-square-foot Ed Wood structure on a seedy stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood is said to have also been used as rehearsal space by Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and Guns N’ Roses.

The director housed his Quality Studios at the address, and classics including Plan 9 From Outer Space and Glen or Glenda were filmed there, according to Silver Commercial.

The building features a ground-floor dive bar, Gold Diggers, that plays home to Thai bikini dancers.

The residential hotel next door is a flophouse made famous when a suspect in the Beverly Hills murder of Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen committed suicide as police descended upon the block.

There’s a lot of character here.

(17) STICKING IN HIS TWO CENTS WORTH. Spider-Man appears in the last seconds of Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War – Trailer 2.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Will R., Andrew Porter, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Pixel Scroll 2/3/16 Superscrollapixelistbutextrabraggadocious

(1) THANKS FACEBOOK. Pat Cadigan joined the legions who have committed this social media gaffe — “Happy Birthday, Sorry You’re Dead”.

Well, it happened again…I wished someone a Happy Birthday on Facebook and then discovered they had passed away last year. This is what happens when you have an impossible number of Facebook friends, most of whom you don’t know personally….

Anyway, thinking or not, I have committed a birthday faux pas. And as usual, I feel awful about it. When the person’s loved ones saw that, they probably wanted to go upside my head. Because that’s how it is when you’re on the sharp end of a disaster, whether it’s something of epic proportions or the personal loss of a beloved friend or relative. Your life has changed forever, and yet the world goes on like nothing out of the ordinary has happened. Like, WTF? The stock exchange opens and closes. The sun rises and sets and rises again. People go to work, go home, go grocery shopping, go online, tweet, check Facebook––and they can’t even take a few extra minutes to find out if someone’s alive or dead? Seriously, WTF?

(2) THANKS TSA. James Artimus Owen shared a memo with his Facebook readers.

Dear TSA – I’m breaking up with you. It’s you, not me. Or anyone else you and American Airlines conned into this big threeway. We were awesome dates, going along with everything you asked for, giving you sweet, sweet lovin’, and lots of money, and always on time, and you didn’t care. You still just wanted me to get half undressed, and to feel me up, and poke me in my special place, and go through all my stuff – and then your drunk buddy American Airlines overbooked the flight…, and complained about carryons, and then broke their own damn plane while we were sitting here. And now someone is trying to “fix” things, but the air is off, and we have to sit here for another half an hour, and the paperwork is going to take longer than the repair. So, I just wanted you to know – I’m getting a private plane. With my own crew. And you can date my “people” but I’m not taking my belt and shoes off for you again just so you can lecture me about the difference between 3.5 ounces and 11 ounces.

(3) HOW DID SOME GOOD NEWS SLIP IN HERE? Hobart and William Smith Colleges (in New York’s Finger Lakes region) have announced that Jeff VanderMeer will join the Trias Residency for Writers for the 2016-17 academic year.

Jeff VanderMeer

Jeff VanderMeer

Winner of the Shirley Jackson Award, the Nebula Award, and three-time winner of the World Fantasy Award, VanderMeer is the author of more than 20 books, including the NYT-bestselling Southern Reach trilogy (“Annihilation,” “Authority,” and “Acceptance”), released in 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The trilogy explores, among other issues, environmental degradation in extremis, creating, as the New York Times puts it, “an immersive and wonderfully realized world” with language that is “precise, metaphorical but rigorous, and as fertile as good loam.”

During the residency, VanderMeer will teach one class in the fall of 2016 and work with a number of select students the following spring. Additionally, he will offer a public reading and lecture, participate in a service event for the greater Geneva community and curate a reading series featuring Dexter Palmer (who writes sf), Ottessa Moshfegh and a third writer to-be-announced.

Beyond his work on campus, VanderMeer adds that he is looking forward to “a creative writing visit to the super max prison [in Auburn, N.Y.] and a possible partnership with the Colleges’ environmental center.” He has also invited artist John Jennings, a professor at University of Buffalo, to visit in the fall of 2016 “for some cross-media conversation about narrative and creativity.”

…The Peter Trias Residency at Hobart and William Smith Colleges is designed to give distinguished poets and fiction writers time to write. Academic expectations allow for sustained interaction with our best students while providing the freedom necessary to produce new work. Residents are active, working artists whose presence contributes to intellectual environment of the Colleges and the town of Geneva.

(4) MORE THAN MONEY. “Stephen King On What Hollywood Owes Authors When Their Books Become Films: Q&A” at Deadline.

DEADLINE: So rather than making the old deal, with big upfront money, you figure you’ll make your money on the other side?

KING: The other side of this, too, is that if you do that, you can say to these people, what I want is a share in whatever comes in, as a result, from dollar one. So it isn’t just a creative thing, it’s also the side where I say, if you want to do this, let me make it easy for you up front and if the thing is a success, the way that 1408 was a success for the Weinstein brothers, then we all share in it together. You know, of all the people that I’ve dealt with, Harvey and Bob Weinstein were the ones who were most understanding about that. They were perfectly willing to go along with that. A lot of people feel like you want to get in their business. I don’t want to do that at all. I want to be part of the solution. There were things about the 1408 screenplay that I thought were a little bit wonky actually, you know. There’s a part where you brought in the main character’s sad relationship about how his wife had died, she’d drowned, and he was kind of looking for an afterlife a la Houdini. I thought, well this seems a little off the subject. But it was great in the movie.

DEADLINE: So you’re not an author who feels that what’s in your book is sacrosanct, even when it’s translated to the screen?

KING: No. And the other thing is, you start from the belief that these people know their business. There are a lot of writers who are very, very sensitive to the idea, or they have somehow gotten the idea that movie people are full of sh*t. That’s not the truth. I’ve worked with an awful lot of movie people over the years that I think are very, very smart, very persistent and find ways to get things done. And I like that.

(5) TIL DADDY TAKES THE T-BIRD AWAY. From The Guardian: “Elon Musk personally cancels blogger’s Tesla order after ‘rude’ post”.

Unimaginable wealth has brought Elon Musk a lot of benefits, from being able to build a private spaceflight company to planning a magnet-powered vacuum tube supersonic transport system between LA and San Francisco – and be taken seriously. But perhaps the best perk of being Elon Musk is the ability to be unbelievably petty.

The Californian venture capitalist Stewart Alsop learned that to his cost, he says, after he wrote an open letter to Musk about the badly run launch event for the Tesla Motors Model X (the newest car from Musk’s electric vehicle startup).

Headlined “Dear @ElonMusk: you should be ashamed of yourself”, the letter listed Alsop’s issues with the event: it started late, it focused too much on safety, and it was so packed that even people like Alsop, who had placed a $5,000 deposit on the car (which was originally supposed to ship in 2013, but had only delivered 208 cars by the end of 2015), didn’t get the chance to test drive it.

Alsop concluded that “it would still be nice if you showed some class and apologised to the people who believe in this product”.

Instead, Alsop says, Musk cancelled his pre-order.

(6) HARTWELL OBIT IN NYT. Here is the link to David G. Hartwell’s obituary in the New York Times.

Mr. Hartwell worked at several publishing houses before starting as a consulting editor at Tor/Forge Books in the early 1980s. At his death, he was a senior editor there. He was nominated more than 40 times for Hugo Awards, among the most prominent prizes in science fiction, and won three times for editing.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden, a senior editor at Tor, said in an email that Mr. Hartwell had edited and published hundreds of books, including Mr. Dick’s novels “The Divine Invasion,” “The Transmigration of Timothy Archer” and “Radio Free Albemuth,” as well as novels in Mr. Herbert’s “Dune” saga and Gene Wolfe’s “The Book of the New Sun” series.

He also compiled dozens of anthologies, many with Ms. Cramer, including “The Space Opera Renaissance” (2006) and “Spirits of Christmas: Twenty Other-Worldly Tales” (1989), and he wrote “Age of Wonders: Exploring the World of Science Fiction” (1984).

Mr. Hartwell championed genre fiction long before crossover hits like the “Lord of the Rings” films, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” series and AMC’s “The Walking Dead” broadened its audience.

(7) BERKELEY AUTHOR APPEARANCE. Carter Scholz, author of Gypsy, Kim Stanley Robinson, author of The Lucky Strike, and Terry Bisson, author of Fire on the Mountain, at Books Inc. in Berkeley, CA on February 18th.

Carter Scholz, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Terry Bisson.

Carter Scholz, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Terry Bisson.

(8) DOLLENS ART REMEMBERED. Ron Miller’s post at io9 has a gallery of “Scenes from the 1950s Space Movie That No One Saw”.

Morris Scott Dollens is best known to aging SF fans as one of the most prolific space artists who ever lived.…

These three interests—-astronomy, photography and model-making—-led to an endeavor that that was especially close to his heart: The creation of a movie that would take audiences on a journey through the solar system.

It was to be called “Dream of the Stars,” and Dollens created dozens of meticulous models of space ships and alien landscapes. He assembled these into tabletop dioramas which were then photographed in the same way Hollywood special effects artists would create miniature effects scene. Dollens sent these photos to magazine and book publishers, who ran them with captions that declared that “Dream of the Stars . . .is said to be best space film yet.” I remember seeing these photos in books about space when I was a kid and desperately trying to track down this movie. It wasn’t until decades later, when I contacted Dollens while researching my book, “The Dream Machines,” that I finally learned the truth: that “Dream of the Stars” was just that: a dream.

(9) HAT TIP. The New York Post noticed a fan favorite is back — “’X-Files’ tips a (straw) hat to iconic ’70s TV character”.

The latest episode finds FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) interrogating a person of interest, Guy Mann (Rhys Darby), as they hunt for a reptilian “were-monster.” Mann’s quirky attire — straw hat, seersucker jacket and cheap knit tie — bears a striking resemblance to clothing worn by Carl Kolchak, the rumpled creature tracker played by the late Darren McGavin in the 1970s ABC series “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.”

The homage to McGavin’s vampire- and werewolf-hunter is intentional.

(10) HINES ON REPRESENTATION. Suvudu interviewed “Jim C. Hines on Representation and the Seeds of Possibility”, and Jim made his case in a lucid and fair manner, as he always does. It’s not his fault that his examples play so well against the next item in today’s Scroll….

I don’t understand why this is such a heated topic, but people get quite distraught when you suggest our genre should be more inclusive. Just look at the attempted boycott of Star Wars for daring to cast a woman and a black man in lead roles, or the oceans of man-tears surrounding Mad Max: Fury Road and its competent and kick-ass protagonist Furiosa.

Imagine the backlash to a science fiction show in which the main starship crew—the captain, first officer, navigator, engineer, and doctor—are all women. The only male character is basically a switchboard operator.

(11) TIMING IS THE SECRET. Who knew Ghostbusters will be putting Jim’s example to the test? “Receptionist Chris Hemsworth is Here For You” at Tor.com.

Last night Paul Feig announced that the official Ghostbusters site is up and running, with the first trailer set to drop later this month. If you poke around on Ghostbusters.com (which also has pages for the original movies), you’ll find a new batch of images, featuring the ladies in civilian garb… and their adorable receptionist, played by Chris Hemsworth.

You know how there’s that silly TV/movies trope of putting glasses on a girl to make her less attractive? Yeah, that definitely doesn’t work here.

(12) CHATTACON REPORT. Ethan Mills of Examined Worlds writes about “The Importance of Community”.

Do we need Cons like ChattaCon today?  Aren’t SF fans all shut-in introverts who make snarky anonymous comments on blogs and YouTube videos?  Even if we do need communities, couldn’t we move the Con experience to the internet, where we’ve moved so much of our communal interactions in the 21st century? A ChattaCon Report While the internet is great (you’re reading it!), I think physical meetings are still an essential part of community.  To make my case, consider some of the things I did last weekend:

…One of the guests was Larry Correia (of the Sad Puppies).  I went to one of his panels with a few friends.  Given my opposition to the whole Sad Puppy fiasco, I was wondering what he’d be like in person.   Answer: not all that different than most author guests, although nobody asked him about the Puppies.

(13) SHOCKING. Max Florschutz at Unusual Things calls it “The Indie Scam”.

There are a lot of blogs, posts, and news articles out there decrying the pricing of the big publisher’s books. They make regular appearances on smaller author’s sites, reddit’s r/books, and very frequently in the circles of indie authors. “Publishers are making their books too expensive!” they cry. Look at the price of these books!

…Then came the bit I didn’t agree with. That everyone should flock (and was flocking) to ebooks and indie because the prices were so much better.

The problem is, this isn’t always true….

Let me tell you a story. About a year ago, I was attending a con and talking with a bunch of authors about ebook sales and indie publication. One man in the “group” we’d sort of formed in the hallway was a known trailblazer in the ebook world, one of the first authors to jump ship from his publisher and go straight indie, a decision that had been great for him. Naturally, he being the one with the most experience in success, everyone was letting a lot of questions and comments gravitate his way.

At some point, ebook pricing came up, and I mentioned I was trying to figure out a price for the draft I was about to finish. He shrugged and said it was simple, and asked me how long it was. 300,000-odd words, I said. Eyes wide, he shook his head, and then told me the best way to sell a book of such length:

Cut it up into 8 or 10 sections and sell them for $2-3 a pop.

This, readers, is what I’ve started to see as “The Indie Scam.”

You see, as already mentioned, a lot of indie authors will decry the cost of “big pubs” and their ilk. Like the classic meme, they repeat the line that the prices are “just too d**n high” while showing that their books are so much cheaper at their low, low prices.

But are they really? Well, in a lot of cases … no. And that’s the problem. It’s a misdirect. Because a lot of these indie books? They’re a lot smaller than what they’d have you believe.

(14) RABID PUPPIES TODAY. Vox Day’s picks for the Rabid Puppies slate in the Best Fan Writer category are Jeffro Johnson, Dave Freer, Morgan, Shamus Young, and Zenopus.

(15) KEEPING THE WARDROBE BUDGET DOWN. Den of Geek asks: “Saturn 3: the 1980s’ weirdest sci-fi movie?”

Saturn 3 wasn’t exactly the sci-fi blockbuster its makers might have hoped. Neither broad and upbeat like Star Wars nor as claustrophobic and disturbing as Alien, it instead became one of the great oddities of 80s science fiction. This is, after all, a movie which features such bizarre lines as “No taction contact!” and “That was an improper thought leakage.”

Then there’s the bizarre scene in which Kirk Douglas (nude, of course) chokes out Harvey Keitel after he utters the line, “You’re inadequate, Major. In EVERY department.”

Saturn 3’s by no means a classic, then, but it is undoubtedly one of the most weirdly fascinating sci-fi misfires of the 1980s.

(16) DON’T ORDER THE SOUP. Gizmodo touts a photo series created by Benjamin Wong, a.k.a. Von Wong.

A lovely shepherdess in a flowing white dress tends to her flock in these gorgeous photographs reminiscent of a fairy tale. The twist: the shepherdess is underwater, and her charges are white-tipped reef sharks.

The image is part of the latest series from conservation photographer Benjamin Wong, a.k.a. Von Wong, who has a bit of an adventurous streak, taking his models into the field for a bit of storm-chasing and to underwater shipwrecks—all in the name of capturing that perfect shot. This time, he took model Amber Bourke to Fiji, a hot spot for ecotourism specializing in shark dives.

But his focus isn’t on thrill-seeking or purely aesthetic pursuits; in this case, he wanted to draw attention to the plight of sharks worldwide. “Sharks are almost always depicted as menacing and terrifying, yet it is humans that are responsible for killing them in the millions just to make soup,” he wrote on his blog. “I wanted to create a series of images that would help break those stereotypes.”

 

[Thanks to James H. Burns, David K.M. Klaus, John King Tarpinian, Jeff VanderMeer, Susan Toker, Moshe Feder, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day John Stick.]

Pixel Scroll 1/25/16 The Depixellated Man

(1) X-OUT THE X-MEN FAN VIDEO PROJECT. Joel Furtado, an animator from Vancouver, Canada has cancelled his fan film X-men: Danger Room Protocols due to legal issues with Marvel, which prevented the first video in the series from being hosted on YouTube or Vimeo.

Now, there’s word of another fan production falling to legal issues: Joel Furtado’s X-Men: Danger Room Protocols.

Furtado has been working on the web series for a long while now, with eighteen episodes planned to showcase different pairs of 1990s-era X-Men characters in animated adventures against iconic villains in a Danger Room scenario. Furtado told io9 via email: “I’ve always loved X-men since I was a little kid. It was something I gravitated to, reading the comics at that time even before the animated series,” adding, “When Fox’s cartoon came out that was it, I was hooked. I’ve done a few personal projects over the years, but nothing of this scale or scope. I decided I wanted to take a year off and do this thing for myself, as well as the fans. I knew there were X-men fans out there, wanting more than what the official powers that be were giving them.”

The first episode featured Jean Grey and Wolverine against the Sentinels, but was quickly pulled from YouTube. Furtado released it on Vimeo, but the video was pulled from there as well.

Furtado gave a valedictory talk to his supporters in a new video.

(2) USING YOUR POWER. Kameron Hurley was at Confusion over the weekend, and was inspired to write a wisdom-filled post, “On Kindness and Conventions”.

I have argued with authors for years about the power imbalance between authors and fans. By the very fact that you’re an author, that you’ve had worked published, it puts you in a position of perceived power, even if you don’t feel powerful. And what you do with that power is important. But first you need to realize, and accept, that you have it and people have given it to you….

Most importantly, though, when I was out at parties, or in the bar, I opened up the conversation circle to people. This is probably the most important thing you can do at either of these events. There is nothing worse than hanging on outside the circle hoping to try and get someone to invite you in. Here are these people who’ve known each other for years, and you’ve been told to socialize at the bar because it’s so great to network! and all you’re doing is standing outside these circles of people with a drink, feeling stupid….

I have talked a lot of talk over the last decade. It’s my turn to pay it forward, and to help build the community I’d like to see, instead of just complaining about how shitty things are elsewhere.

Because there is no greater joy than seeing the reactions of people who’ve had their first amazing convention, and who tear up all the way home because in a single weekend they’ve found their people, they feel included, they felt like part of something bigger than themselves.

Be the change you want to see, right? I need to act like the author I always wished I would have encountered when I was twenty-one years old at my first convention. Every time I talk to some new person, especially those at their first convention, I imagine that I’m talking to somebody who is going to come up fighting through here just like me. I’m holding out the hand I didn’t get that first time. I’m opening up the circle.

(3) FANFIC. Mindy Klasky’s “F is for Fanfiction” at Book View Café is an overview of the topic for professional writers that raises good questions writers should consider about setting boundaries on the use of their work, however, it was this paragraph that generated all the comments – most disagreeing that one must outgrow fanfic.

Fan fiction might be a great way for an author to exercise writing skills, learning to recreate an established author’s tone and/or using known characters expected to act in specific ways. But if you intend to publish your work, you’ll need to move beyond fanfic. That “moving beyond” should include at least “filing off the serial numbers”, erasing the specific references to character names, locations, and other details.  Thus, Bella Swan from Twilight became Anastasia Steele, and Edward Cullen became Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey. The special world of sparkling vampires became the elite life of a billionaire.

(4) KING CONTEST SHORTLIST. The finalists have been announced in a short story competition to celebrate the publication of Stephen King’s collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. There were more than 800 entries.

A team of dedicated readers carefully selected stories worthy of putting forward to the long list.  20 stories were in serious contention and after due deliberation judges Claire Armitstead (Books Editor at the Guardian), Philippa Pride (Stephen King’s British editor) and Kate Lyall-Grant (our independent judge and Publisher at Severn House Publishers) unanimously chose six stand-out stories for the shortlist.

The judges were extremely impressed by the quality of the six stories which are now on their way to Stephen King.  The winner will be announced on or after 30 January. Watch this space…

Please join us in congratulating the talented authors on the shortlist:

‘The Spots’ by Paul Bassett Davies; ‘The Unpicking’ by Michael Button; ‘Wild Swimming’ by Elodie Harper;  ‘The Bear Trap’  by Neil Hudson; ‘La Mort De L’Amant’ by Stuart Johnstone; ‘Eau de Eric’ by Manuela Saragosa.

(5) THORNTON OBIT. SF Site News reports Kathy Thornton (1957-2016) died on January 16. She was one of the founding members of Con-Troll in Houston and worked on Texas NASFiCs and Worldcons. In 2005, she was the fan Guest of Honor at Apollocon.

Kathy Thornton and Derly Ramirez

(6) CAST IN THE HAT. As Nicole Hill warns, “We Sort the Cast of The Force Awakens into Their Hogwarts Houses” at B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog is MOSTLY SPOILERS. So no excerpt here. Fun article, though.

(7) LOVECRAFT. Submissions are being taken for the Dunhams Destroys Lovecraft anthology through February 6. What do they mean by the title?

Destroy it all.
Burn the tropes.
Smash the traditions.
The statues.
The awards.
The apologetics.
The so-called gatekeepers of Weird Fiction.
Mock the big fish in the small pond of Lovecraftian fiction.
Nothing is safe.
NO ONE IS SAFE.
Parody as a means to topple to regime.
Spoof the blowhards.
Take anything Lovecraftian and mock the hell out of it.

Payment is $25 and a contributor’s copy for 5-10K word stories. And they repeat, “We do NOT want traditional Lovecraftian fiction.”

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born January 25, 1920 – Jerry Maren, leader of The Lollipop Guild – last of the Munchkins.
Jerry Maren

Jerry Maren

(9) BROKEN NEWS. People asked Jim C. Hines what he thought about his name being mentioned in a Breitbart story based on a comment here. He told them in “Fact-Checking for Dummies. And Breitbart.”

This is what rates an article on Breitbart. “Hey, a commenter on the internet said that some unnamed person is talking to a couple of Toronto bookstores and showing them what some of the Sad/Rabid Puppies have said and asking them not to stock said puppies. Oh, and yeah, there’s no actual evidence of it having any effect.”

(10) SOMETHING IN COMMON. George R.R. Martin’s tribute to David Hartwell touched John C. Wright. He sent this note to Martin.

It grieves me that you and I should be at odds over unimportant political matters when science fiction as a genre, and the people in our lives, and much else besides are things we both have in common and outweigh any differences.

The shadow of our mutual loss of a friend sharply reminds me of what is important in life, and mutual ire is not one of those things.

You wrote not long ago of a desire for peace in the science fiction community; I second that sentiment and voice it also. Let there be peace between us.

(11) ELIGIBILITY POSTS. Cat Rambo favors Hugo eligibility posts.

I blogged about it as a result of Twitter conversation with Daniel Older and Shveta Ta; he’s posted his own and I urged people to post links to theirs in my post. Any help spreading the word is appreciated; too many people let themselves get silenced by fear of internet kerfuffles. I’m hoping that puppies feel free to post on there as well; too many people forget that as SFWA President I’m representing a range of writers, not a single crowd.

Rambo introduces the post on her personal blog with these sentiments:

Let us begin by acknowledging that this is a rancorous period, full of clashing agendas, bewildered onlookers, and all too many innocents caught in the crossfire (although it is not the first time we’ve seen these storms, nor will it be the last.). And that right now making an eligibility post particularly mentioning Hugo Award categories like Related Work is something that some of us are circling and wondering about.

And my answer is yes. Yes, you should. Why?

Check the post for her three arguments.

(12) RSR CAMPBELL LIST. Rocket Stack Rank has made a list of new writers whose stories were reviewed on their site who should be eligible for the 2016 John W. Campbell Award.

Here are 62 writers who are eligible for the 2016 Campbell Award. They were selected from the 565 stories reviewed by Rocket Stack Rank and eight other prolific reviewers in 2015. There are many more new writers out there, but their stories weren’t read by Rocket Stack Rank so they’re not included here.

(13) A LONGLIST OF HUGO RECOMMENDATIONS. Nerds of a Feather will be posting lists of recommendations drawn from its contributors. First up is the Hugo Award Longlist for fiction.

For the past couple years I’ve posted a draft Hugo ballot (2014, 2015). Last year’s slate voting controversy, however, made me rethink that practice. True, this blog has limited influence within fandom, and we’ve never tried to mobilize voters to further a cause or agenda either. But it still feels strange to call out slate-based voting campaigns while publishing something that looks, superficially at least, like a slate of our own. So instead of giving you my personal ballot, I asked the the thirteen nerds of a feather to contribute to a longlist of potential Hugo nominees.

The rules for inclusion were simple–just: (a) meet the eligibility criteria; and (b) be “award worthy” (i.e. good). Given the subjectivity of the latter, it should come as no surprise that the selections on our longlist reflect the spectrum of tastes, tendencies and predilections found among our group of writers. You’ll find selections ranging from the obscure and literary to the unabashedly popular and commercial, and from all corners and subdivisions of the genresphere

(14) UFO FILES. The Express has a photo-illustrated article, “Some of ‘world’s best ever UFO pictures’ go online with CIA former top secret files”.

The US intelligence agency, often accused by UFO conspiracy theorists of being involved in a major cover up to hide evidence of alien life from the public, has for some reason chosen to upload some of its formerly classified UFO case files to its website.

(15) RETROFUTURISM. Joshua Rothman comments on “The Nostalgic Science Fiction of ‘The X-Files’” in The New Yorker.

Scholars have a term for our fascination with the science fiction of the past: they call it “retrofuturism.” In the “Oxford Handbook of Science Fiction,” Elizabeth Guffey and Kate Lemay offer an elegant definition of the term: “Where futurism is sometimes called a ‘science’ bent on anticipating what will come,” they write, “retrofuturism is the remembering of that anticipation.” Retrofuturism tends to be both celebratory and regretful. On the one hand, the retrofuturist sensibility is drawn to old visions of the future because today’s have lost their appeal; on the other, it recognizes that those old visions had their downsides. Steampunk, for example, is attractive precisely because it rejects the disembodied corporatism of the digital world; still, the vision of the future in the film “Snowpiercer” is both refreshingly analogue and brutally Dickensian. (That’s not to say that retrofuturism is always ambivalent: “Star Wars” is, among other things, an upbeat retrofuturist response to the drug-addled sci-fi of the sixties and seventies.) “The X-Files” was a retrofuturist show. It celebrated the wide-eyed sense, prevalent in the forties, fifties, and sixties, that science was about to change everything. It also recalled the darkness of the Cold War, when individuals felt powerless against vast geopolitical forces, and science brought us to the edge of thermonuclear doom.

Because we live in a moment of reboots, remakes, and revivals, we seem to be surrounded by retrofuturism. Superhero movies, with their emphasis on mad-science mutation, have a retrofuturist appeal. So do the rebooted “Star Wars,” “Star Trek,” and “Mad Max.” Even “Interstellar,” in many ways a forward-looking film, also looked back to the sci-fi of the past. If you’re of a theoretical cast of mind, you might wonder what it means to be nostalgic for a retrofuturist show like “The X-Files.” Is it possible, “Inception”-style, to square retrofuturism? Can you look back ambivalently at the way people used to look back ambivalently at a vision of the future?

(16) TV SUCCESS WOULD X-OUT THIRD X-FILES MOVIE. A third X-Files movie has been scripted by Chris Carter – but if the ratings are good for the TV series, he’d prefer to focus on that.

“I actually wrote a third movie, just because I was interested in the idea of where that might go,” Carter told the audience. When Fox approached him about bringing The X-Files back to television, Carter considered repurposing the script for the series. “I let my wife read the third movie,” he shared, “and she said ‘I think not for television.'”

Any chance of a third X-Files film will depend on how strong (or poor) the ratings for the upcoming mini-series are. If the ratings are good, Carter seems more interested it sticking to TV. “I’m waiting for Fox to come back and ask for more,” said Carter. “Then we’ll talk about it.”

And early reports are that ratings for the new show were good.

The preview of the mini-series premiered on Sunday night following the NFC Championship game between the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers and received strong ratings.

Monday’s debut on the mini-series’ normal night will be the true test, along with the subsequently five episodes. Should that run be as strong as many suspect that it will be, a third film might yet by in the cards

(17) SATIRE NOSTALGIA. The WSJ’s Speakeasy blog remembers “When Mulder and Scully Went to Springfield: An Oral History of the ‘Simpsons’ – ‘X-Files’ Crossover”.

Mike Reiss: We had the most illegal shot in TV history. [The episode has] a line-up of aliens where Homer is supposed to pick out which alien is his. We had Alf, Marvin the Martian, Chewbacca — they were all copyrighted. In one five-second shot, we violated five people’s copyrights. But the only comment we ever got was, we had Alf in there. Alf said “Yo!” and I got a call from the real Alf, who said, “Next time you do me, let me do it.”

(18) REV. BOB CROWNED. Our own Rev. Bob was king for about as long as it takes to boil an egg at the Whoisthekingrightnow site. He’s still searchable as Robert in the Hall of Kings, where his three decrees have been immortalized.

King Bob the Horizontal.

  • The denizens of Sensible Castle do not judge. Unless you’re a jerk.
  • Get thee down. Be thou funky.
  • In case of emergency, the masks that drop from the ceiling will make everyone’s final moments MOST interesting. You’re welcome.

[Thanks to Brian Z., John King Tarpinian, Gregory N. Hullender, and Nick Mamatas for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Nigel.]

Update 01/26/2016: Corrected Rev. Bob’s royal name to the right royal name, with the right decrees.

Pixel Scroll 1/24/2016 I Saw The Best Scrolls Of My Generation Destroyed By Pixels, Filing Hysterical Numbered

(1) THE FINNISH. Finland hosts the World Science Fiction Convention in 2017 — but if you can’t make it to Helsinki, hit the library: more and more Finnish speculative fiction authors are getting English translations, as NPR reports in “Finnish Authors Heat Up The Speculative Fiction World”.

In the middle of Johanna Sinisalo’s novel The Core of the Sun, the reader is interrupted by an ad. It’s for Fresh Scent, a personal fragrance available from the State Cosmetics Corporation of Finland. It’s marketed to woman, although “marketed” is an understatement. In Sinisalo’s nightmarish, alternate-reality vision of her homeland, a tyrannical patriarchy splits women into two classes — docile “eloi” and undesirable “morlocks,” terms cheekily drawn from H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine — as part of an oppressive national health scheme that crosses insidiously over into eugenics.

The ad for Fresh Scent is just one of the novel’s many fragmentary asides. In additional to its more conventional narrative, which centers on Vanna, a woman with an addiction to chili peppers (it makes sense a skewed sort of sense, really), The Core of the Sun is made up of epistolary passages, dictionary entries, article excerpts, transcripts of hearings, scripts for instructional films, homework assignments, folk songs, and even fairytales that exist only in Sinisalo’s twisted version of the world. Chillingly, one passage concerning the social benefits of human sterilization is taken from a real-world source, a Finnish magazine article from 1935.

There’s a streak of scathing satire to the book’s fragmentary science fiction, and in that sense it sits somewhere between Margaret Atwood and Kurt Vonnegut — but Sinisalo crafts a funny, unsettling, emotionally charged apparition of the present that’s all her own.

(2) SPEAKING OF COLD PLACES. The New York Times captioned this tweet “A Wookie Chills in Washington (Not Hoth)”

(3) AN ALARMING INSIGHT.

(4) DEATH OF A GOLDEN AGE. Saladin Ahmed’s Buzzfeed article argues “Censors Killed The Weird, Experimental, Progressive Golden Age Of Comics”.

In the 1940s, comic books were often feminist, diverse, and bold. Then the reactionary Comics Code Authority changed the trajectory of comic book culture for good.

The comics themselves exhibited wild stylistic variety. A single issue of Keen Detective Funnies could contain one story with gorgeous Art Nouveau-ish illustration, and another with glorified stick figures. The comic books of the Golden Age were also significantly more diverse in terms of genre than today’s comics. On newsstands across America — in an era when the newsstand was an urban hub and an economic juggernaut — comic books told tales of True Crime, Weird Fantasy and Cowboy Love, Negro Romance, and Mystery Men. And Americans bought them.

Even as Amazing-Man and Blue Beetle were rescuing helpless, infantilized women, badass superheroines like the Lady in Red, the Spider Queen, and Lady Satan were stabbing Nazis and punching out meddlesome, sexist cops.

(5) NOW THAT SHE HAS OUR ATTENTION. Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s post “Business Musings: Poor Poor Pitiful Me Is Not A Business Model” actually is not a rant telling writers to buck up, it’s a discussion of the true levers of culture change. But it begins with a rant….

Granted, in the recent past, the major publishing companies were the only game in town. But they are no longer the only game in town. A major bestselling writer can—and should—walk from any deal that does not meet her contractual and business needs.

Hell, every writer should do that.

But of course most writers won’t. Instead, an entire group of them beg for scraps from the Big All-Powerful Evil Publishers, proving to the publishers that writers are idiots and publishers hold all the cards.

I already bludgeoned the Authors Guild letter last week, so why am I going back to the same trough? Because this poor-poor-pitiful-me attitude has become the norm in the publishing industry right now, and I’m really tired of it.

The big battles of 2014 and 2015, from all of the fighting over the meaning of Amazon in the past few years to the in-genre squabbling over the Hugo awards that science fiction indulged in last year to the hue and cry indie writers have treated us to over the various changes in Kindle Unlimited since its inauguration have all had the same basic complaint.

Someone—be it a publisher (that Amazon is Evil argument) or a writer (the rest of it)—believes they’re entitled to something, and when they don’t get that something, they complain loudly, on social media or in traditional media or via group letter or through (in sf’s case) hateful spiteful posts about the opposing parties.

Only a handful of people take responsibility for the situation they’re in—if, indeed, they are responsible. Only a few actually analyze why the situation exists.

(6) HIGH PRAISE. The first line in David Barnett’s review of Charlie Jane Anders’ All the Birds is —

Imagine that Diana Wynne Jones, Douglas Coupland and Neil Gaiman walk into a bar and through some weird fusion of magic and science have a baby. That offspring is Charlie Jane Anders’ lyrical debut novel All The Birds In The Sky.

Do you think that’s a lot to live up to?

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 24, 1888 — Typewriter “copy” ribbon patented by Jacob L. Wortman. Harlan Ellison still uses one.
  • January 25, 1984 – Apple’s Macintosh computer went on sale. Price tag: $2,495.

(8) TRI ROBOT. Mickey Zucker Reichert, the author of To Preserve, is a working physician and the author of Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot Trilogy (To Protect, To Obey, To Preserve). The third book will be published in hardcover by Roc in February.

Nate, has been Manhattan Hasbro Hospital’s resident robot for more than twenty years. Nate’s very existence terrified most people, leaving the robot utilized for menial tasks and generally ignored. Until one of the hospital’s physicians is found murdered with Nate standing over the corpse.

As programmer of Nate’s brain, Lawrence Robertson is responsible for his creation and arrested for the crime. Susan Calvin knows the Three Laws of Robotics make it impossible for Nate to harm a human. But maybe someone manipulated the laws to commit murder.

(9) DOUGH-REY. Kip W. pays tribute to characters from that billion-dollar movie The Force Awakens.

Poe, a flier; a fast male flier
Rey, who scavenges a bit,
Maz, a host who knows the most,
Finn, a white shirt drone who quit,
Snoke, a hologram quite tall,
Ren, a very angry joe,
Beeb, a droid head on a ball,
Which will bring us back to Poe. Poe, Rey, Maz, Finn, Snoke, Ren, Beeb, Poe!

(10) FLEXIBILITY. Nick Osment analyzes the benefits of reading science fiction in “What We Can Learn From a Time Lord: Doctor Who and a New Enlightened Perspective” at Black Gate.

If tomorrow you stepped inside a time machine and found yourself standing in the yard of this man who is separated from being your neighbor only by the passage of a century, then suddenly his opinions would become somewhat more relevant because now you would actually have to interact with him. But they would not become any more credible to you just because you were now hearing them face-to-face. You would still hear them from the vantage of having come from the future.

Now imagine your life today not as if you were living in your own time but as if you were visiting from a hundred years in the future. The weight given by proximity, i.e., these people are my neighbors, is leveled off, much the way that visiting that long-dead neighbor would be. Detach yourself from all the noise of the television and the Internet and your workplace, your college, your local pub. See it from a more objective position — of not being of this time, with the knowledge that this time, too, will pass, and all these people who are speaking right now; they all, too, will be dead and most of them forgotten.

(11) BIGGER ON THE OUTSIDE. 11.22.63, the eight-part event series based on Stephen King’s 2011 novel, premieres Presidents Day, February 15 on Hulu.

11.22.63 is a thriller in which high school English teacher Jake Epping (James Franco) travels back in time to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy — but his mission is threatened by Lee Harvey Oswald, falling in love and the past itself, which doesn’t want to be changed

 

(12) LONG TAIL OF SALES. Fynbospress summarizes the impact of streaming on the music business, and explains the parallels in book publishing to Mad Genius Club readers in “The Importance of Being Backlist”.

In summary, if publishing continues to mirror music, then streaming will continue to increase, but frontlist sales may continue to fall, and it become harder and harder to get discovered in the initial release period. However, backlist volume is growing, and people are discovering their way through the things that have been out there a while. So, while you can and should do some promotion of your latest release – if it fails to take off, don’t despair. Instead, write the next book, the greatest book you’ve written yet. Sometimes you make your money on the initial release surge, and sometimes, it’ll come in having a lot of things out there all bringing in an unsteady trickle.

(13) TWO COMIC CONS MAY SETTLE. A settlement may be at hand in the San Diego Comic-Con’s suit against the Salt Lake Comic Con for for trademark-infringement. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that on Thursday, attorneys for both conventions asked the judge to extend a procedural deadline so that they could work “diligently” on a settlement. The conventions have scheduled a meeting with Adler on Wednesday in San Diego.

Drafts of the agreement have been exchanged,” according to the Thursday court filing requesting the extension, “and the parties hope to soon reach agreement as to all terms.”

San Diego Comic-Con is a trademarked name, and lawyers have argued that the similarity of “Comic Con” in the name of the Salt Lake City event has confused people into thinking the event is somehow associated with San Diego’s convention.

As Salt Lake’s organizers have seen it, the legal battle isn’t just between them and the flagship convention; it’s a threat to the dozens of other comic book conventions around the world that also use “comic con” in their names. Salt Lake Comic Con co-founder and chief marketing officer Bryan Brandenburg previously asserted that if San Diego wins the case, the precedent will allow it to do this to other organizations.

(14) RING OF POWER. Jim C. Hines snapped this photo at Confusion:

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

Pixel Scroll 10/30 The Stainless Steel Hedgehog Has A Harsh Mistress, Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That

(1) Larry Smith is out of the hospital reports Marcia Kelly Illingworth on Facebook.

Please forgive the lack of recent updates. As they say, no news is good news. Larry is back out of the hospital, and appears to be doing well. He was finally able to attend a convention last weekend, and held up remarkably well. At this point, he is hoping to make all of his November commitments. Clearly, he is not exactly on top of his game, and has had to make some adjustments to his activity level and routine, but he is improving.

Larry and Sally asked me to try to convey the enormous gratitude they feel to everyone who has come to their aid through this very trying time. I say *try* to convey, because there just are not enough words to adequately express how thankful and humbled they feel. And let me just add my thanks as well. These are some very special people, and my heart swells when I see this wonderful family that we call fandom come together to help them like you have.

They are currently still trying to find a replacement van. The one they had was a 15 passenger model, with a long wheelbase and extra suspension to handle the weight of the books. They have found a couple of possibilities (of course, none local), so they hope to find one soon. Give yourselves a much – deserved pat on the back for making this possible for them. Please share this update on any list or social media that you have available to you

(2) David Langford proudly displayed his “Sausage Maker To Fandom” badge ribbon in the new issue of Ansible.  It was given to him at LonCon 3.

(3) Thursday night’s Late Show with Stephen Colbert had Seth MacFarlane and Neil DeGrasse Tyson as guests. Stephen is convinced that star KIC 8462852 is evidence of the alien life predicted in one of his favorite books. In the final interview segment, Colbert goes off on a seriously detailed Ringworld rant, including crediting Larry Niven.

“Just because you don’t understand what you’re lookin’ at doesn’t mean it’s alien,” countered Tyson…

In this YouTube clip, the Ringworld bit starts just after the 1:50 mark.

(4) CNN reports “Orbiting bacteria: Space Station may need some tidying up”.

The next time NASA picks an astronaut to live in the International Space Station, it might want to send Mr. Clean. That’s because scientists using a kind of high-tech white glove test found something in the space dust there.

The astronauts are not alone, it turns out. They share tight quarters with some previously undetected, opportunistic bacterial pathogens.

Nothing unusual here. The Sasquan guest of honor left his hotel room in the same condition as every other fan at this year’s Worldcon. A generous tip ordinarily covers these things. In this case, two or three million dollars should do it…

(5) Grantland, ESPN’s pop culture site founded by Bill Simmons, is shutting down. I’ll miss genre-themed coverage like Brian Phillips’ ”50 Scenes That Do Not Appear in the Fox ‘X-Files’ Revival”.

  1. It does not, at any point, transpire that Assistant FBI Director Walter Skinner joins Kickstarter to seek funding for his “elegantly bound novelization” of Infocom’s Leather Goddesses of Phobos.
  2. The word “copyleft” — that doesn’t get thrown around a lot.
  3. Jonathan, who is not making churros, does not tell Scully that “it’s about the cinnamon” and then gasp, “I’ve said too much,” and then get shot in the head by a sniper from Venus.

(6) Charle Jane Anders acknowledges “The Difference Between a Great Story and a Shitty Story Is Often Really Tiny” at io9.

To some extent this is a “Devil in the details” thing: It’s the little details that will trip you up. Small inconsistencies can make your world feel flimsy. But, too, tiny character moments and little bits of emotional resonance, in between the big incidents, can do a ton to make people buy stock in your world and its people.

The difference between a shitty story and a great story is often just one of clarity, also. A great story sets up its premises early on, then builds on them and deepens them, until finally you reach some kind of crisis. Going back to the topic of movies, I’ve been amazed by how many movies I’ve seen lately where the first 20 or 30 minutes are compelling and fascinating (the “first act”) and then what follows is a dull morass. It’s like the “building and deepening” part of the recipe just got thrown out.

(7) That lunar rover that went to the junkyard?

“Although Mr. Clueless opted to dispose of the moonlander for scrap, not so the junkyard owner!” reports David Doering.

Motherboard has an interview with the anonymous buyer.

Tuesday, we told the sad story of a prototype NASA lunar rover that was sold by an Alabaman to a scrap yard. That is true, but there’s a twist: A heroic scrap dealer has saved the buggy, which appears to be in good condition.

The scrap dealer spoke to Motherboard on the condition of anonymity because he says he wants to speak to his lawyer about his next steps, but he did send me the recent photo of the buggy above to confirm it’s in his possession. The rover matches a historical NASA image we believed to be the rover in question. It also matches the description given by NASA in its investigatory documents.

“The man who originally bought it, from my understanding, he bought it at an auction. He was a road conditioner [in Alabama],” the junkyard owner told me. “I can’t confirm this is true, but he bought it at a NASA auction many years ago. NASA just discarded a lot of that stuff back then. When it was brought to my scrap facility, I set it aside because I knew what it was. The unit does exist today. It is not scrapped. I have that unit in storage.”

“I’ve done quite a lot of research on the unit and it’s an artifact that needs to be saved,” he added.

David Doering says, “Sure looks like an easy cut-and-dried Kickstarter campaign to buy the rover!”

(8) Speaking of space exploring antiques, NASA needs a programmer fluent in 60-year-old computer programming languages to keep the Voyager 1 and 2 crafts going. The new hire has to know FORTRAN and assembly languages.

(9) Although written before the revised WFC 2015 harassment policy came out, Aldasair Stuart’s post on the issue remains revelant for making points like these:

In the last two years I’ve been part of a team asked to deal with a single incident. I saw my colleagues treat the individual who had been harassed with compassion, patience and respect. I saw them be given the space they needed to collect themselves and make decisions rather than be pressured into a choice they might later regret. I have rarely been prouder of the teams of volunteers I’ve worked with over the last few years than I was on that day.

And that’s why the mealy mouthed legal tapdance WFC’15 was throwing up wasn’t just bullshit, it was and still is actively harmful. This event, that proudly lays claim to being the definitive convention for industry professionals, was not bothering to do something that events with a tenth its status and a hundredth its reach have baked into their procedures. The obvious defense here is of course the tiny size of the community and ‘we’ choosing to deal with it ‘in house’.

That’s not even in the same time zone as ‘good enough’.

No one on Earth WANTS to have a harassment policy. Even in building one you’re forced to imagine the absolute worst of the people around you, and in doing so, work out how to minimize the damage they may cause. These people have to, by definition, include your friends and colleagues. It’s an inherently cautious, inherently cynical piece of work that codifies the worst potential human behaviour and how to deal with it. No one wants that, least of all members of a community that likes to pay lip service to inclusion and diversity. But we all need it precisely because of that inclusion and diversity.

(10) John Holyoke reviews Stephen King’s new short story collection Bazaar of Bad Dreams in the Bangor Daily News.

bazaar of bad dreams cover COMP

For loyal King fans who devour anything the author produces, these collections are tiny desserts: sweet morsels that can be consumed rapidly, without guilt. Like some? Fine. Love ’em all? Better. Hate a few? Oh, well — move on. Take a bite out of another.

For those who are new to King and unsure whether they’ll like what they find, “The Bazaar of Bad Dreams” provides a tasty sampler that, like his other short story collections, showcases the master’s array of talents.

King said a year ago that he was confident he could still “write stories that are sleep-with-the-lights-on scary.” And he can. (Try his novel “Revival” on for size, if you’re in doubt.)

But “The Bazaar of Bad Dreams” is a collection of a different flavor and seems to reflect the maturing — and aging — of a writer who likely has left far more tales in his rear view mirror then he has remaining in front of his headlights. Recurring themes this time around include aging, dealing with aging and death itself.

And while that isn’t surprising in itself — there’s often a hefty helping of dying going on in a King book or story — the tone is different, almost melancholy at times, as characters face their mortality and battle with questions like the age-old unanswerable: What’s next?

(11) Lisa Morton, Horror Writers Association president, tells the true, highly commercial origins of today’s Halloween holiday.

The next time somebody tries to tell you that Halloween is a ghoulish tradition that goes back to Druid priests practicing pagan rituals, tell them that companies like Hershey, Coors and Dennison had a lot more to do with the modern Halloween we revere than the Celts from 2,000 years ago.

And that’s a good thing, because these companies have largely created the holiday we now love.

While it is likely that Halloween owes much of its macabre character to the Irish Celtic harvest celebration, Samhain (pronounced “sow-in”), there’s no proof whatsoever to suggest that the Celts dressed in costumes, begged candy from neighbors or staged elaborate haunted scares (although they probably did hold major feasts complete with alcohol).

(12) The Horror Writers Association website has a fine array of posts about the holiday by its members. Today’s entry is “Halloween Haunts: Souled” by Tonya Hurley.

We almost drove past it until I noticed the line snaking around the side of the nondescript-looking Dutch Colonial house on the canal. It hardly looked like the scene of any crime let alone that crime — The Amityville Horror. “112 Ocean Avenue.  That’s it!” I shouted with half excitement and equal parts guilt. The latest family to own the house was moving out and this was hyped as a yard sale guaranteed to top them all.  Shoppers and rubberneckers from miles around gathered to land a piece of horror history, joking with each other, retelling tall tales, mixing myths with fact about the house and the crime like a demonic game of telephone as they waited. A quick walk through the home yielded little contents owned by the DeFeo family, the original owners, who were famously murdered there…

(13) Amy Wallace has updated her Wired article “Sci-Fi’s Hugo Awards and the Battle for Pop Culture’s Soul”.

It is August 2015, and things are looking up for Team Humanity. Or are they? A record 11,700-plus people have bought memberships to the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane, Washington, where the Hugo winners are soon to be announced. A record number have also forked over dues of at least $40 in time to be allowed to vote, and almost 6,000 cast ballots, 65 percent more than ever before.

But are the new voters Puppies? Or are they, in the words of Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin, “gathering to defend the integrity of the Hugos”? Just before 8 pm on August 22, in a vast auditorium packed with “trufans” dressed in wizard garb, corsets, chain mail, and the like, one question is on most attendee’s minds: Will the Puppies prevail?

The evening begins with an appearance by a fan cosplaying as the Grim Reaper, and that turns out to be an omen for the Puppies. By evening’s end, not a single Puppy-endorsed candidate takes home a rocket. In the five categories that had only Puppy-provided nominees on the ballot—Best Novella, Best Short Story, Best Related Work, and Best Editors for Short and Long Form—voters choose “No Award.”

Earlier, Beale explained to me that his plan was a “Xanatos gambit”—“that’s where you set it up so that no matter what your enemy does, he loses and you win.” No surprise then, that in an email he sends after the awards ceremony, Beale is crowing. “The scorched-earth strategy being pursued by the SJWs in science fiction is evidence that we hold the initiative and we are winning,” he writes. The number of major categories in which no awards are given “demon­strates the extent to which science fiction has been politi­cized and degraded by their far left politics.”

Quotes from pro writers only – Kloos, Bellet, Correia, Torgersen, Vox Day, George R.R. Martin, N.K. Jemisin.

Zero quotes from fans, who merely run and vote for the awards. Yet Brad R. Torgersen is outraged that still another pro, Sarah A. Hoyt, wasn’t interviewed.

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh,Tom Galloway, David K.M. Klaus, Martin Morse Wooster, David Doering, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 9/21 For the Scroll is Hollow and I have touched the Pixel

(1) Today’s birthday boys:

Born 1866: H.G. Wells

H. G. Wells in 1943.

H. G. Wells in 1943.

Born 1912: Chuck Jones

Chuck Jones

Chuck Jones

Born 1947: Stephen King

StephenKing_0 COMP

Born 1950: Bill Murray

Bill Murray

Bill Murray

And as a bonus, also on This Day in History:

1937: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit published

(2) Grotesque parody news story of the day: “Game of Thrones Cast Murdered Following Emmy Victory”.

FANS of popular HBO fantasy series Game Of Thrones were this morning trying to get over last night’s shocking post-Emmy massacre, where virtually the entire cast and creative team were brutally murdered in cold blood.

… “One minute Peter Dinklage was standing with his Emmy and a big smile on his face, the next minute his head went sailing through the air,” said one eyewitness to what is now being referred to as the ‘Red Emmys’.

“Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner were stabbed through the heart, and the big lad who plays Sam got it in the neck. Even by Game of Thrones standards, it was fairly over the top”.

With so many members of the cast and crew slaughtered, fans are now fearing that next year’s season will focus mainly on Bran Stark as there’s basically nobody left at this stage.

(3) Constructed languages are the topic of a forthcoming documentary, Conlanging: The Art of Crafting Tongues .

Featuring an overview of the history of constructed languages up to and through the amazing creations and initiatives of those who actively invent new tongues today, this film tells the rich story that has expanded far beyond Tolkien’s “secret vice.” It’s being made by the people who know the craft intimately for language lovers and a general audience alike.

 

And All Things Linguistic has an interview with the creators of the documentary in the Conlangery #112 podcast.

(4) Add this to the list of “Han Solo in Carbonite” products — a huge vinyl sticker for your door.

61zhoplVxSL__SY355_

 

(5) This year Gen Con featured another official beer, Drink Up and Prosper, from Sun King Brewing. According to the Indianapolis Star, not only was the brew available at the con, but it was put in cans and sold in stores.

sunking-genconcan

This will be the fourth year the brewery has partnered with the world’s largest gaming convention, and the fourth beer brewed specifically for the event….

Previous beers included Froth of Khan (2014), Flagon Slayer (2013) and Ale of Destiny (2012).

(6) The Pittsburgh Pirates major league baseball team recently dressed up as superheroes “in the greatest baseball-themed comic book crossover of all-time.”

After the Pirates defeated the Dodgers, 4-3, the team dressed up as superheroes before boarding their flight to Colorado — like, for example, Superman with an expert hair curl hanging out with Bane that came complete with appropriate Zack Snyder lighting.

A squadron of Marvel’s cinematic heroes hung out with either a Na’vi or a really off-brand Nightcrawler: …

 

(7) The Tor boycott continues to fade to invisibility as a news story. Here’s what I found searching Twitter for “Tor boycott” today.

It was the hyphenated “Doc-Tor” that triggered the result.

(8) And by strange coincidence, Adam-Troy Castro has written some good advice in his new blog post, “Writers: The Long-Term Benefits of Not Being An Ass”.

For the vast majority of artists, being an asshole to the people who give you money is not a good career move. You are not indispensable unless you’re an eminence of such towering fame that they are willing to bend heaven and Earth to keep you. And sometimes not even then. Fame is fleeting.

So one guy I’m thinking of, who has come out and described himself as one of the greatest writers of his generation, who says that his work is reeking with literary virtues that any number of others would give their left tits to be even shelved next to, who has been abusing his publisher in public and attacking his editors as people and in general making himself a horse pill – I think he’s in for a surprise, sooner or later, probably sooner. Writers who can sell the number of copies he sells, or more, are not exactly thin on the ground, and the vast majority of them will not be rallying their readers to send hate mail.

But this is not about him. This is about you, the struggling artist. And to you I have some strong advice.

Be a sweetheart.

Be the kind of artist who, when dropping by the publishing house, brings cookies. Or if not cookies, then at least a warm smile and a gracious manner.

(9) The Clarion Foundation has received a $100,000 donation from a benefactor who wishes to remain anonymous. Clarion will use the donation to launch an endowment fund in support of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, held annually at UC San Diego.

Karen Joy Fowler, president of the Clarion Foundation, expressed profound appreciation for this generous gift. “This is tremendously important to all of us who have worked with, for, and on behalf of Clarion over the years. For us, the workshop is a labor of love. Having these funds in hand allows us to plan for the future in a way we’ve never been able to before. This gift provides a solid foundation on which we can build.”

“Our global civilization is now embarked on an unconstrained experiment in long-term sustainability, which we have to get right for the sake of the generations to come,” says Clarion Foundation Vice President Kim Stanley Robinson. “Science fiction stories, ranging from utopian to dystopian, are what we do now to imagine outcomes that help us evaluate our present practices. The Clarion workshop nurtures and trains writers to change the ways we think about the future, and it helps to connect the sciences and the arts at UC San Diego and around the world. We’re thrilled with this gift, which enables us to continue that crucial work.”

The Clarion Foundation partners with UCSD in the delivery of the workshop, with the foundation managing faculty selection and the admissions process and UCSD managing the six-week summer workshop. The foundation has annually conducted fundraising campaigns that allow it to provide about $12,000 in scholarships each year and to cover expenses.

(10) Aaron French compares horror traditions in “Past and Future: Esoteric and Exoteric Philosophy in Weird Fiction” on Nameless Digest.

As with everything else, the philosophy behind dark, weird, and horrific fiction has evolved over time. This philosophical evolution of horror fiction arguably began in earnest with Edgar Allan Poe – though Poe also nurtured a sense of romantic love, which conquers, as well as defeats, his harshest poetry, e.g. “Alone.” Bleaker still, and more callous in disregard of the human race, is H. P. Lovecraft, grandfather of the grim, who described his philosophical position as the following: “…by nature a skeptic and analyst… [I] settled early into my present general attitude of cynical materialism.”

….But if we turn our attention to the postmodern, a new speciation occurs in the writings of Thomas Ligotti, representing a philosophy so hopeless, malicious, and unorthodox that it gives readers pause, unintentionally flipping mental levers and bringing about unwelcome psychological changes.

(11) Here’s somebody else who has definitely flipped his mental levers — “Man angers neighbors by shining ‘alien’ fighting spotlights”:

Neighbors in the Virginia Road area of Hermitage said Arthur Brown, 78, shines the spotlights outside his foil-wrapped house at all hours of the day and night because he is afraid of extra-terrestrial attacks.

(12) From June of 1992, a YouTube clip from Arsenio Hall with guests William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, who are too funny. Shatner enters using a walker and a nurse pushes Nimoy in a wheelchair.

James H. Burns further comments:

Shatner and Nimoy even pitch their convention appearances at the Creation cons of my old pals, Gary Bermand and Adam Malin–

And most amazingly, Shatner talks about his hopes for Star Trek Seven, which he later helped turn into a pretty good Trek novel!

 

[Thanks to James H. Burns, Will R., Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rose Embolism.]

Pixel Scroll 9/17 Second pixel to the left and straight on till Worldcon

(1) Curbed LA is not alone in thinking “The New Look of the Petersen Automotive Museum is Really Really Bad”.

petersen automotive museum

Shawn Crosby hit the nail on the head – “It looks as if the Petersen had skinned Disney Concert Hall Buffalo Bill style and is wearing its bloody outsides like a dress.”

(2) A critical headline also provides the first clue that Io9’s Germain Lussier is down on another project — “The Latest Stephen King Book To Become a Fatally Disappointing TV Show Is…”

The Mist is about how a group of citizens react when—you guessed it—a mysterious mist takes over their town, filled with horrible monsters. Both the movie and novella mostly take place in a isolated supermarket but the TV show will only use that as inspiration, and will have a larger scope.

(3) Anne and Wil Wheaton are hosting “Fancy Dinner: Burgers, Beer, and a Book” on October 20 from 6:30-9 p.m. at Crossings restaurant in South Pasadena. Admission is $100 per person. Click on the link for menu and other details.

At the end of the evening, you will get your own, autographed, advance copy of our book “A Guide To Being A Dog by Seamus Wheaton.” Proceeds from this event will be donated by Crossings to the Pasadena Humane Society to support our participation in the Wiggle Waggle Walk.

(4) This is a good example of what people look to SFWA for — Jennifer Brozek discusses “How Do You Ask For A Blurb?” on the SFWA Blog.

How do you ask for these blurbs without making a nuisance of yourself? You do your research. Many professional authors have “blurb and review” policies in place on their websites, mostly out of self-defense. An author can read only so many books when they are not writing or doing their own story research. Some of these policies may be “No. I will not blurb your book.” Some of them may be “Talk to my agent.” Whatever the posted blurb policy is… follow it. That’s the polite and correct thing to do.

If you have an agent, you can talk to them about talking to the agent of the author you’d like a blurb from. Your agent should have a decent handle on who can be approached and who should be avoided. If you don’t have an agent, you need to do things the old fashioned way: ask.

(5) Steve Davidson harkens back to his Crotchety Old Fan days with “The Things Robert Heinlein Taught Me” at Amazing Stories

What this little episode did remind me of is the fact that, in many ways, Bob served as a surrogate grandfather for me.  Both of mine passed before I’d been on this planet five years, and as anyone who has read Time Enough For Love can tell you, a rascally, unrepentant and self-assured grandfather is a must have in the proper development of the creatures we euphemistically call little boys.

And of course it then occurred to me that there were quite a few humorous (and not so humorous) lessons to be had from all of Heinlein’s books and, lacking the kind of social restraint that would undoubtedly have been passed on to me by a real-life grandfather, I have decided to share some of them with you.

(6) “The Cold Publishing Equations: Books Sold + Marketability + Love” is Kameron Hurley’s latest autobiographical post based on her royalty statements.

Being above average is important, because being average sucks —

The average book sells 3000 copies in its lifetime (Publishers Weekly, 2006).

Yes. It’s not missing a zero.

Take a breath and read that again.

But wait, there’s more!

The average traditionally published book which sells  3,000 in its entire lifetime in print only sells about 250-300 copies its first year.

But I’m going indie! you say. My odds are better!

No, grasshopper. Your odds are worse.

(7) Wallpaper Direct has a fun infographic about Doctor Who villains through time.

The role of The Doctor has been assumed by 12 respected actors, each bringing their own quirks and characteristics to the programme. Along with his Mark I Type 40 TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space), the time travelling rogue has blasted his way across space, but not without gaining some enemies in the process.

From the Daleks to the Cybermen, we take a look at the most notable enemies from the Dr. Who franchise.

And they’d be thrilled to see you some wall covering from their Dr. Who Wall Mural collection.

collection925_main_

Officially licensed wallpaper murals based on the latest BBC series with Doctor Who starring Matt Smith as the Time Lord – from the company Black Dog Murals. The mural is easy to hang – paste the wall product and each is supplied in a box, with full hanging instructions. Please read the hanging instructions carefully. The mural is supplied in pre-cut lengths. The lengths are sometimes reverse rolled due to the manufacturing process. If you are in any doubt regarding direction of pattern please refer to website.

(8) Steve Davidson is back with another installment of what’s eligible for the Retro Hugos that will be voted on by next year’s Worldcon members – Part 4 – Media, specifically, the Long Form category.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, is well served in 1940.  Not necessarily because there were a lot of worthy films, but only in comparison to Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form, which has to settle for serial episodes and cartoons.  Television shows were still almost a decade away.

However, when it comes to film there are a few interesting contenders, and, fortunately, the vast majority of eligible works are known and viewable, thanks largely to the Internet Archive, Youtube and copyright law.

I’m looking forward to short form, where there should be a trove of radio shows and phonograph records, too.

(9) Steven H Silver saw this today on Jeopardy!

Category:  “E” Readers

Daily Double Answer: This novel by Sinclair Lewis caused and uproar for its satiric indictment of fundamentalist religion

Question from returning champ: What is Ender’s Game?

Lost $2000.

(10) Francis Hamit’s new book Security Matters: Essays On Industrial Security is available in a Kindle edition from Amazon. Says Francis:

It’s hard reality actually from the security industry; the experiences that inform some of my fiction.  There are some dramatic moments and instances recounted and the writing is some of my best. If it were a poetry book you’d at least look at the sample.

The volume is edited by Leigh Strother-Vien and Gavin Claypool.

A collection of “Security Counterpoint” columns that originally appeared in Security Technology & Design Magazine between 1993 and 2001 about problems and concerns that are still relevant today. Francis Hamit spent 21 years in that industry in operational, sales and consulting positions.

(11) A tough day for the let’s-you-and-him-fight crowd – because John Scalzi begins “How Many Books You Should Write In a Year” with this preamble:

Folks have pointed me toward this Huffington Post piece, begging self-published authors not to write four books a year, because the author (Lorraine Devon Wilke) maintains that no mere human can write four books a year and have them be any good. This has apparently earned her the wrath of a number of people, including writer Larry Correia, who snarks apart the piece here and whose position is that a) the premise of the article is crap, and b) authors should get paid, and if four books a year gets you paid, then rock on with your bad self. I suspect people may be wanting to have me comment on the piece so I can take punches at either or both Wilke or Correia, and are waiting, popcorn at ready.

If so, you may be disappointed. With regard to Correia’s piece, Larry and I disagree on a number of issues unrelated to writing craft, but we align fairly well here, and to the extent that I’m accurately condensing his points here, we don’t really disagree.

(12) “Here’s how the first humans will live on Mars –and why traveling the 140 million miles to get there will be the easy part” – despite the headline, it’s not a story about The Martian. It’s a pointer to an eye-grabbing infographic based on TED speaker and technologist Stephen Petranek’s book on How We’ll Live on Mars.

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

Stephen King Receives National Medal of Arts

Stephen King and other winners were presented the National Medal of Arts at a White House awards ceremony today. The citation read by President Obama, reports NPR, called King —

“One of the most popular and prolific writers of our time, Mr. King combines his remarkable storytelling with his sharp analysis of human nature. For decades, his works of horror, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy have terrified and delighted audiences around the world.”

Pixel Scroll 8/11 Award not for whom the puppies troll

These are the times that try men’s Scrolls.

(1) Dilbert is still not at work on his sci-fi novel.

(2) Blogger and Big Bang Theory actress Mayim Bialik is opening a new venue for her writing:

I am founding this space for all of us: It’s called GrokNation.

Do you know what it means to grok something? Grok is an old-school sci-fi term from the 1961 book “Stranger in a Strange Land.” It means to fully grasp something in the deepest way possible.

I want to be able to reach all kinds of people with my thinking and writing, and while I will still continue to write for Kveller about Jewish parenting, GrokNation will be the place where I share my thoughts about being an actress on “The Big Bang Theory,” being a scientist and a vegan mom, being an unusual woman because I am an actress and a scientist and a vegan mom, and everything in between. Eventually, I want GrokNation to become a place for voices other than mine, but we are just starting out so it may take some time!

(3) Rachel Bloom, known to fans for her Hugo-nominated music video “F*** Me, Ray Bradbury”, has been busy charming TV critics in advance of the October 12 premiere of her sitcom Crazy Ex Girlfriend.

When it organically was revealed that literally every single present “Crazy Ex” actor can professionally tap dance, Bloom’s co-star and four-time tap champ Donna Lynne Champlin challenged the journalists in attendance to ask all the other casts we come across this tour that same question, and see if any other show comes close….

Showrunner Aline Brosh McKenna and Bloom also masterfully handled — or at least deflected — sincere topics, such as the use of the potentially pejorative “Crazy” in the title, which could have been bait for a less comfortable group.

(4) In World War II, dozens of radio operators in Scituate, Rhode Island dialed into enemy conversations worldwide:

The Chopmist Hill listening post soon became the largest and most successful of a nationwide network of 13 similar installations. Its ability to eavesdrop on German radio transmissions in North Africa, for instance, was so precise that technicians could actually listen in on tank-to-tank communications within Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s infamous Afrika Korps.

The Germans’ battlefield strategy was then relayed to the British, who under Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery eventually defeated Rommel at El Alamein.

(5) With the Worldcon coming to town next week, the Spokane Spokesman-Review brings locals up to speed about the Sad Puppies:

It also arrives amid controversy.

Fans at Worldcon vote for the winners of the annual Hugo Awards. Regarded as some of the most prestigious honors in sci-fi and fantasy writing, the Hugos have been bestowed upon such names as Kurt Vonnegut and Portland novelist Ursula K. Le Guin. The Hugos have been awarded every year since 1955.

This year’s Hugos are mired in a present-day argument instead of a futuristic struggle.

A group of authors who call themselves the “Sad Puppies” is accused of strong-arming Hugo organizers to insert three authors on the shortlist of nominees. The group’s leaders contend the Hugos are too often awarded to what they call the “literati elite” and predisposed to affirmative action rather than less pretentious and more deserving writing.

Critics call the “Sad Puppies” a right-wing group supportive of the writings of white men and averse to the growing diversity of the genre. Martin has chimed in with a long series of blog posts, saying the controversy has “broken” the awards and “plunged all fandom into war.”

The controversy “has resulted in more people interested in Worldcon than would have been interested before,” said Tom Whitmore, a Seattle massage therapist and Worldcon volunteer who’s helping promote and organize the not-for-profit event. “We’ve followed our own rules, and we’re going ahead with our own rules, and that’s that.”

(6) Even those who have been following the Puppies from day one need a map. Aaron Pound, who Lou Antonelli tried to get fired from his job as a government attorney, summarizes all the Antonelli news from then til yesterday on Dreaming About Other Worlds.

Despite my tweeting on my personal twitter account, Antonelli took it upon himself to track down my work e-mail and phone number, first e-mailing a poorly thought out threat to come down to my workplace and do something or other, and then telephoning my office to confirm I was employed there.

(7) Natalie Luhrs’ chronicle of Antonelli’s offenses, “Pattern Matching: Lou Antonelli and the Sad Puppies”, characterizes them as she feels they deserve.

I think it bears emphasizing that by making a false report to police about David Gerrold, Lou Antonelli placed every single attending member of Worldcon in danger. This is reprehensible. The fact that David Gerrold forgave Antonelli for this is between the two of them; Gerrold does not get to accept Antonelli’s apology on behalf of the rest of the convention membership and to its staff and volunteers….

His modus operandi seems to be to incite an incident or seek one out, become abusive in some manner, and then only apologize if the target is high profile enough or if enough high profile people notice that he’s being abusive. His apology will contain a lot of language that deflects responsibility for his actions off him and onto other people or communities. Lather, rinse, repeat.  If he goes after you and you don’t make noise about it or if someone doesn’t make noise on your behalf, or if you’re not particularly high profile, you’re not going to get even an attempt at an apology….

(8) In a separate post, “Some Members are More Equal than Others”, Luhrs makes her case against Sasquan’s decision not to ban Antonelli from attending.

One of Gerrold’s quoted reasons is that Antonelli “deserves” to be able to attend the Hugo Awards because he’s a nominee.

The message I’m getting from Sasquan is that if you apologize enough, if you can convince the person you’ve harassed into accepting your apology, and if you’ve been nominated for an award, Codes of Conduct don’t apply to you. Especially if you’ve promised to be on your very best behavior and not do it again.

(9) But Antonelli has not been left to face the music completely alone. Amanda S. Green on According To Hoyt argues the way he’s being treated is out of proportion, and compares his critics to the storybook folk who claimed “The sky is falling!”

At least that is the way it might seem if you were paying much attention to those very vocal few who have made it their life’s mission to denigrate anyone who might even remotely be associated with Sad Puppies 3. Oh how they have rallied these last few days to not only vilify Lou Antonelli but, even in the face of the one man who could reasonably be seen as having an issue with him accepting his apology, they continue to attack and demonize him. This has resulted in at least one contract being cancelled for Mr. Antonelli and even that is not enough to satisfy those who have taken to social media to attack him.

And, like with so much of what the Anti-Puppy crowd has done these last few months, they have taken Antonelli’s actions and blown them out of proportion. Specifically, Antonelli sent a letter to the Spokane Police Department expressing concerns not so much about what David Gerrold might personally do but what some of those who follow him on social media might do. Was it a wise move on Antonelli’s part? No. But, to be honest, with some of the vitriol I have seen from both sides of the fence the last few months, I can understand why he might have felt concerned.

(10) There will be no comic relief at the end today! Because Stephen King knows how to take a horror and make it verse.

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