Pixel Scroll 10/29/17 Please Remember To Scroll Your Pixels In The Form Of A Question

(1) THE ORIGINAL KTF REVIEWER. Humanities revisits “Edgar Allan Poe’s Hatchet Jobs”.

Poe churned out reams of puff-free reviews—the Library of America’s collection of his reviews and essays fills nearly 1,500 dense pages. Few outside of Poe scholarship circles bother reading them now, though; in a discipline that’s had its share of so-called takedown artists, Poe was an especially unlovable literary critic. He occasionally celebrated authors he admired, such as Charles Dickens and Nathaniel Hawthorne. But, from 1835 until his death in 1849, the typical Poe book review sloshed with invective.

Tackling a collection of poems by William W. Lord in 1845, Poe opined that “the only remarkable things about Mr. Lord’s compositions are their remarkable conceit, ignorance, impudence, platitude, stupidity, and bombast.” He opened his review of Susan Rigby Morgan’s 1836 novel, The Swiss Heiress, by proclaiming that it “should be read by all who have nothing better to do.” The prose of Theodore S. Fay’s 1835 novel, Norman Leslie, was “unworthy of a school-boy.” A year later, Poe doomed Morris Mattson’s novel Paul Ulric by pushing Fay under the bus yet again, writing, “When we called Norman Leslie the silliest book in the world we had certainly never seen Paul Ulric.”

Attacking better-known writers – a tactic still in use today by several minor sff authors — was also typical of Poe.

The twist, though, is that as a critic Poe often treated ethics as disposably as we do coffee filters. That self-dealing rave review is just one example. Poe plagiarized multiple times early in his career (most notably in The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym and “Usher”), but still spent much of 1845 leveling plagiarism accusations against Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Poe delivered his attacks under his own name, but also anonymously, and through an imaginary interlocutor named “Outis.” But for all of Poe’s bluster, evidence of Longfellow’s thievery was thin, and the poet, wisely, didn’t respond. “Poe’s Longfellow war,” said publisher Charles Briggs, who’d hired Poe at the Broadway Journal, “is all on one side.”

(2) WHAT A REVIEWER IS FOR. New Yorker’s Nathan Heller revisits the American Heart controversy in “Kirkus Reviews and the Plight of the “Problematic” Book Review”.

People make sense of art as individuals, and their experiences of the work differ individually, too. A reviewer speaks for somebody, even if he or she doesn’t speak for you.

To assume otherwise risks the worst kind of generalization. I went to high school in San Francisco at the height of the multiculturalism movement. My freshman curriculum did not include “The Catcher in the Rye,” “The Great Gatsby,” or “Moby-Dick.” We read, instead, “Their Eyes Were Watching God” and “Bless Me, Ultima,” and other books showing the range of American fiction. I’m glad. (One can read “The Grapes of Wrath” anytime.) I remember finding Hurston’s novel brilliant and Anaya’s novel boring. I did not conclude, from these feelings, that African-American literature was interesting and Chicano literature was not. Why would I? The joy of books is the joy of people: they’re individuals, with a balance of virtues and flaws. We are free to find—and learn our way into—the ones that we enjoy the most, wherever they come from.

That specificity of response is what Vicky Smith seems to encourage by opening the full canon of new work to new readers. It’s also, though, the diversity that Kirkus has smothered by issuing a “correction”—the editor’s word—on the political emphasis of a published response. Although it’s easy these days to forget, a politics is a practice of problem-solving, case by case, not a unilateral set of color-coded rules. If certain inputs guarantee certain outputs, what’s in play isn’t politics but doctrine. Kirkus, admirably, is trying to be on the progressive side of a moment of transition in our reading. But its recent choices aren’t about progress, or about helping young people find their way through many voices. They’re about reducing books to concepts—and subjecting individuals who read them to the judgments of a crowd.

(3) AWARD REBOOT. Newly appointed award administrator Tehani Croft announced “Significant changes for the Norma K Hemming Award”.

The Norma K Hemming Award, under the auspices of the Australian Science Fiction Foundation (ASFF), announces significant changes to the Award structure.

Designed to recognise excellence in the exploration of themes of race, gender, sexuality, class or disability in a published speculative fiction work, the Norma K Hemming Award, which has been running since 2010, has had a major overhaul this year, with new categories and a two year cycle.

The award is now open to short fiction and edited anthologies, alongside the previous eligible work of novellas, novels, collections, graphic novels and stage plays. It will also make allowances for serialised work. In addition, entry submissions may be digital or print for all submissions.

Two prizes will now be given, one for short fiction (up to 17,500 words) and one award for long work (novellas, novels, collections, anthologies, graphic novels and play scripts), with a cash prize and citation awarded.

Nominations for the 2018 awards, covering all eligible work published in 2016 and 2017, will open in early November.

(4) THE HORROR. Chloe continues the Horror 101 series at Nerds of a Feather with “HORROR 101: The Uncanny”.

The uncanny to me is a crucial element of horror: not being able to pinpoint exactly what makes us scared. While the extreme can be terrifying (the xenomorph in Alien is a category crisis—its something we can’t classify/is not instantly knowable—but it’s not uncanny because we shouldn’t be able to know it/classify it as its something completely new to the human experience). However, even more terrifying is that which is just a little off: pod people who may look like your lover, but they smile in just a slightly different way. A man with fingers just a little too long. Women with hair in front of their faces so that their expressions are unknowable.

In technology, we refer to the “uncanny valley” (a term coined by Masohiro Mori in the 70’s) when dealing with robots and computer designed images of people. A robot who looks human-like but not realistically so (think Bender in Futurama) wouldn’t trigger the uncanny valley but a robot who looks extremely close to human, but has some tiny bit of offness, such as the more and more realistic robots we have currently, would fall into it and create a sense of slight fear, revulsion, or distrust. In the film Ex Machina (which on its surface is a film about a Turing test going very wrong, but in its heart is a take on the tropes of Gothic literature and the Bluebeard fairy tale), Alicia Vikander portrays Ava brilliantly by making the robotic elements include both Ava’s movements (more perfect than an average person’s) and speech (carefully clipped and enunciated)—this heightens the uncanny valley feeling while going against the entirely human looks of her face (which wouldn’t necessarily fall into the uncanny valley).

(5) WHEN WILL YOU MAKE AN END? Alastair Reynolds writes a whole post – “Gestation time” — around a term that also came up in a discussion of Zelazny here earlier this week.

In the previous post I mentioned that my new story “Night Passage” – just out in the Infinite Stars anthology – was one I was glad to see in print because it had taken about five years to finish. I thought that was approximately the case, but when I checked my hard drive I saw that I opened a file on that story at the end of November 2009, so the better part of eight years ago. That wasn’t an attempt at the story itself, but as per my usual working method, a set of notes toward a possible idea. I rarely start work on a story cold, but instead prefer to brainstorm a series of rambling, sometimes contradictory thoughts, out of which I hope something coherent may emerge. This process can take anything from a morning to several days or weeks, but I never start a story in the first fire of inspiration.

(6) INITIAL QUESTION. At Nerds of a Feather, The G interviews Shadow Clarke reviewer Megan AM – “FIRESIDE CHAT: Megan AM of Couch to Moon”.

MEGAN AM: …  My own personal goal was to demonstrate that good, interesting, literary SF does exist; that it can come from anyone, anywhere, and in any language; and that it can compete with the basic, Americanized, TV-style SF I keep encountering on shortlists. Unfortunately, the 2017 Clarke submissions list didn’t give me much to work with on that front–a lot of the choices were very formulaic, very bland, not to mention very British, white, and male– but I did manage to find some champions I’m grateful to have read: Joanna Kavenna, Martin MacInnes, Lavie Tidhar, Johanna Sinisalo. As for my experience as a contributor… I mean, eight people I have admired in this field–most of whom I had never interacted with before– read and talked books with me. It was the coolest thing ever. I’m curious what you thought of the whole thing. Watching you watch it from the outside was interesting: You seemed genuinely interested in bridging gaps between contentious parties, communicating good faith in all sides, and withholding judgment until it was all said and done. So, now that it is done, what do you think? …

THE G: …. I’d also extend these observations to criticism itself. So I try to have a thick skin anytime I press “publish.” Someone is bound to think my ideas are rubbish, and that’s fine. At the same time, authors and fans are often guilty of violating the text/person distinction–taking depersonalized comments on a text personally and lashing out at the person who made them. The effect is to police what critics, bloggers and other reviewers can say in public, and that’s bullshit. 

I could go on, but let’s get back to the Sharke project! Or rather, back to awards. One thing that’s come up a lot in discussions is the concept of “award worthiness,” i.e. that there is some objective-ish bar that works of fiction must live up to in order to be proper candidates. I’ve bandied this term about a few times, generally when talking about the Hugos. I have a very clear sense of what, for me, constitutes award worthiness in science fiction and fantasy–some combination of ideas, execution, emotional resonance and prose chops. Not always the same combination, but hitting all four to a significant degree, and hitting one or two out of the park….

MEGAN AM: ….This comes back to questioning the idea of an objective kind of “award worthiness.” You mention “comfort SF,” which is just as subjective, because I don’t find that kind of SF comforting at all. We’re living in a Trumpnado, where critical reading and thinking skills are devalued, fake news accusations are flying from all directions, nazism is being given a platform in centrist media, and yet progressive SF fans feel threatened by the idea that it might be necessary to sharpen up on difficult, rigorous, uncomfortable novels? I’m not sure it’s appropriate right now to award anything less than radical and complex. And even setting politics aside, the these ‘comfort food books’ are aesthetically old and crusty. Reading award-nominated novels from different decades really helps to put that into perspective: Not a lot has changed in the styling of SF and its “coding” of metaphors, so I’m confused by why we keep awarding the same styles and thoughts… seventy. years. later.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

Amazingly, Clemens photographed 117 of the 156 episodes of the series. His crisp black-and white photography is well featured in the Blu-ray format – so crisp that a freeze-frame sometimes reveals details that even the art directors didn’t want you to see. For instance, in the Donald Pleasence episode “Changing of the Guard” (the final episode of the third season), the diploma on the wall of Professor Ellis Fowler’s office should feature his name. It doesn’t. Thanks to George Clemens’ crystal-clear photography, we see that it belongs to another man.

  • October 29, 1998 – John Glenn returned to outer space.

(8) THINKING ABOUT MOOLAH.  Franklin Templeton Investments gives a rundown about AI “Science Fiction To Science Fact: The Rise Of The Machines”.

By Mat Gulley, CFA, Executive Vice President, Head of Alternatives and Co-Head IM Data Science, Fintech & Rapid Development; Ryan Biggs, CFA, Research Analyst

The rapid expansion of artificial intelligence (AI) has generated a lot of excitement, but also some (perhaps justified) paranoia. Will computers replace-or even overtake-human beings? Mat Gulley, executive vice president and head of alternatives at Franklin Templeton Investments, and Ryan Biggs, research analyst at Franklin Equity Group, explore the ramifications of “the rise of the machines” in the realm of asset management. They say the full implications of the new machine age will likely take decades to fully play out, but will likely be staggering.

We have been anticipating their arrival for decades. As far back as 1958 the New York Times wrote a story about a machine developed at Cornell University called the Perceptron. The device was said to be “the embryo of an electronic computer … expected to walk, talk, see, write, reproduce itself and be conscious of its own existence.” In 1958!? That would have been an astonishing achievement in a time even before the microwave oven graced our kitchen countertops.

For the past half century, humanity has been eagerly anticipating the age of artificial intelligence (AI); imagining it in Hollywood and reporting on its progress in the media. Perhaps at times our optimism has gotten ahead of itself. Not any longer. This time, the machines are not just coming-they are already here….

(9) SPEAKING UP. The Washington Post’s Todd C. Frankel looks at the career of the video game voice actor, who can spend four hours straight practicing ways of screaming death scenes and who went on an eight-month strike to get better working conditions and residuals: “In $25 billion video game industry, voice actors face broken vocal cords and low pay”.

Yet voice actors in this industry are not treated like actors in television and movies. This led voice actors to go on strike last year against 11 of the largest video game developers over bonus pay and safety issues such as vocal stress. The bitter labor dispute dragged on for 11 months, making it the longest strike in the history of Hollywood’s largest actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA. Burch was forced to give up a critically acclaimed role she loved. Gaming fans feared delays for their favorite titles before a tentative deal was reached late last month. A vote by the full union is going on now.

The lengthy strike highlighted how video games have emerged as the scene of a tense clash between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Voice actors want to be treated more like TV and film actors, who are viewed as central to the creative process. Tech firms often see the developers and engineers as the true stars of the show.

“They keep saying, ‘Games are different,’?” said J.B. Blanc, a well-known voice actor and director who has worked with Burch several times. “But that’s no longer true. Because games want to be movies, and movies want to be games. These are basically 100-hour-long movies.”

(10) EASY PICKINGS. Abbie Emmons has now taken her Twitter account private after absorbing a thorough and professional internet beating. The punishment began after she tweeted the opinion belittled by Foz Meadows in “Dear Abbie: An Open Letter”. Foz begins with the admission “I don’t know where your hometown is” but doesn’t let that keep her from making assumptions about it, or from working in “white” and “Christian” four times in her opening paragraph, and not in a positive way.

You’re quite right to say that you, personally, will not encounter every type of person in your small corner of the world. But “small” is the operative word, here: wherever your hometown might be, the fact that it’s the basis of your personal experience doesn’t make it even vaguely representative of the world – or even America – at large.

You claim that you “love everyone” regardless of their background, and I’m sure you believe that about yourself. Here’s the thing, though: when you say you wish people would stop being “correct” and “just write books that actually… reflected the kind of thing we encounter in real life,” you’re making a big assumption about who that “we” is. There might be very few black people in your hometown, but if one of them were to write a novel based on their memories of growing up there, you likely wouldn’t recognise certain parts of their experience, not because it was “incorrect,” but because different people lead different lives. And when you claim that certain narratives are forced and unrealistic, not because the writing is badly executed, but because they don’t resemble the things you’ve encountered, that’s not an example of you loving everyone: that’s you assuming that experiences outside your own are uncomfortable, inapplicable and wrong.

(11) EXOTIC NATTER. NextBigFuture declares “Teleportation and traversible wormholes are all real”. You wouldn’t doubt Han Solo would you?

Einstein-Rosen or “ER” bridges, are equivalent to entangled quantum particles, also known as Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen or “EPR” pairs. The quantum connection between wormholes prevents their collapse without involving exotic matter.

The quantum-teleportation format precludes using these traversable wormholes as time machines. Anything that goes through the wormhole has to wait for Alice’s message to travel to Bob in the outside universe before it can exit Bob’s black hole, so the wormhole doesn’t offer any superluminal boost that could be exploited for time travel.

Researchers are working towards lab tests of quantum teleportation to verify their theories…

(12) POT. KETTLE. BLACK. Camestros Felapton, in “Reading Vox Day So You Don’t Have To: The last essay on Chapter 6”, thinks the way to refute Vox Day’s characterization of alleged SJW organizational tactics is to show how Republicans have done the same thing to each other. True as that may be, the trouble is tit-for-tat casemaking isn’t entertaining – and usually, Camestros is very entertaining.

Organizational Tactics

These are the terrible things SJWs are supposed to do to organizations. Vox lists seven and he manages to set up a deeply insightful analysis of how an organization can be destroyed by political extremists. The only problem is that as an analysis it fit bests how the right have wrecked the Republican party. Again, I’ve changed the order to show the sequence of events better.

“The Code of Conduct: Modifying the organization’s rules and rendering them more nebulous in order to allow the prosecution or defense of any member, according to their perceived support for social justice.”

Lobbying organizations on the right like the NRA or “Americans for Tax Reform”  have systematically created an extension of the GOP’s actual rules and accountabilities for their politicians. For example the ATR has been pressurizing Republican candidates (at state and federal level) to sign the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge”: …

(13) DEAR SIR OR MADAM. SyFy Wire tells about the exhibit where you can read J.K. Rowling’s original Harry Potter pitch to publishers.

Rowling’s original pitch opens with:

Harry Potter lives with his aunt, uncle and cousin because his parents died in a car-crash — or so he has been told. The Dursleys don’t like Harry asking questions; in fact, they don’t seem to like anything about him, especially the very odd things that keep happening around him (which Harry himself can’t explain).

The Dursleys’ greatest fear is that Harry will discover the truth about himself, so when letters start arriving for him near his eleventh birthday, he isn’t allowed to read them. However, the Dursleys aren’t dealing with an ordinary postman, and at midnight on Harry’s birthday the gigantic Rubeus Hagrid breaks down the door to make sure Harry gets to read his post at last. Ignoring the horrified Dursleys, Hagrid informs Harry that he is a wizard, and the letter he gives Harry explains that he is expected at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in a month’s time.

The synopsis goes on to discuss Hagrid’s arrival and his revelations about Harry’s forehead scar while also explaining that “Harry is famous among the witches and wizards who live in secret all over the country because Harry’s miraculous survival marked Voldemort’s downfall”.

(14) SPACE VAMPIRES AND THE FUTURE OF “I”. Peter Watts brings a whole new level to the term “self-effacing” – “The Bicentennial 21st-Century Symposium of All About Me”.

This feels a bit weird. Creepy, even.  If it makes any difference, I advised them not to go ahead with it.

A couple of weeks from now— Nov 10-11— the University of Toronto will be hosting an academic symposium about me. More precisely, about my writing.

You could even call it an international event. While U of T is providing the venue, the symposium itself is organized by Aussie Ben Eldridge, of the University of Sydney. At least two of the presenters are from the US (although one of them will be Skyping in, doubtless to avoid the mandatory cavity search that seems to be SOP at the border these days).

Friday is layperson-friendly: a round-table discussion of my oeuvre, or omelet, or however you say that; a reading (new stuff, yet to be published); an interview; a bit of Q&A.  The schedule only listed 15 minutes for drinks after that, but as Ben reminds me he is an Australian and would never make so rookie a mistake. That 15 minutes is only for warm-up drinking on campus, after which we retire to the Duke of York.

Saturday is the academic stuff….

(15) VISIBLE WOMAN. We probably have more cyborgs than Taylor Swift fans on this site — which still means some of you should be interested in this new recording: “Taylor Swift Turns Cyborg For New ‘Blade Runner’-Inspired Video to ‘…Ready For It?’ Watch”.

As fans of the Blade Runner universe mull over Denis Villeneuve’s cerebral cinematic study of what makes a human, Swift goes full replicant in the new futuristic music video, which dropped at midnight.

Taylor lit up the Internet earlier this week when she teased snippets from the sci-fi clip, in which she appears in a skin-tone thermoptic suit, giving the illusion of actually being her birthday suit. Who needs threads when you’re a machine, right?

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Carl Slaughter, and Elizabeth Fitzgerald for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 10/20/17 The Fan In The High Pixel

(1) WELCH’S STAR WARS VINTAGES. Collect and swill ’em all!

The Force is strong with these ones! Welch’s new Star Wars™ themed Sparkling Red 100% Grape Juice is the perfect addition to your celebration, or to your collection. Find all 4 unique designs, including the limited edition!

(2) PULLMAN ON THE AIR. Starting next Monday, BBC Radio 4 is presenting a 10-part audio narration of Philip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage, volume 1 of Pullman’s new The Book of Dust trilogy.

Episode 1 at 10:45 PM (GMT), Monday 10/23. As usual with BBC, the episodes will be available for online listening “shortly after broadcast”.

This is part of BBC’s Book At Bedtime series, which is more of an audiobook-on-radio than the dramatic adaptations they’ve done elsewhere on their schedule.

Accompanying the novel installments will be nonfiction essays by Pullman, “Dreaming of Spires”:

In these personal, entertaining and deeply thoughtful essays, Philip Pullman examines the art of storytelling.

Written over a period of 30 years, they reflect on a wide range of topics including the origins of his own stories, the practice of writing and the storytellers who have most inspired him.

(3) FORMERLY FORBIDDEN. Cat Rambo conducts an “Interview with Sherwood Smith on Omniscient Point of View in the Inda Series”.

Recently the question of omniscient POV has come up in several classes, so I started reading some examples of it. One of the best I hit was Sherwood Smith’s Inda series. I figured, why not go to Sherwood and ask some questions about how she pulled that off.

What drew you to using omniscient point of view for the Inda series? What sorts of stories work particularly well with that POV? Were there any models that you looked when working with it?

I had always written in omni. I’m a visual writer (with all its pluses and pitfalls), which means I see a movie in my head—not just dialogue but characters’ inner lives. Omni always seemed the easiest way to get that movie down.

But when I started selling, I was told to switch to limited third, which I had to learn.

Segue up a couple decades, I was desperate to escape the limitations of third, and omni was no longer (trigger doom music) Forbidden….

(4) BECKY CHAMBERS’ NEXT NOVEL. Hodderscape invites you to “Read the first extract from Becky Chamber’s Record of A Spaceborn Few

When we heard that Becky Chambers was writing a new book set in the world of the Wayfarers we were over the moon. When we read the blurb and heard that one of the main characters was an alien academic (squee!) we were way over the moon and somewhere near Jupiter. Then we read this extract and we shot into a whole other galaxy entirely.

Record of a Spaceborn Few arrives 26th July 2018 and is available to pre-order now.

(5) FILERS AND REFILERS. Librarians at an Auckland public library kept finding books that had gone missing from their shelves “reshelved” in nooks & crannies.  Turns out bookloving homeless people were responsible (because they didn’t want the books to be lent out before they got a chance to finish reading). The New Zealand Herald has the story: “The curious case of the missing books at Auckland Library”.

“A lot of the guys that come in are extremely well-read and have some quite eccentric and high-brow literary tastes … people are homeless for so many different reasons, and being intelligent and interested in literature doesn’t preclude that.”

According to Rivera, around 50 homeless people visit the library daily.

The story also has been taken up by The Guardian.

(6) FOR YOUR SJW CREDENTIAL. Cat bowls hand-painted by celebrities are being auctioned for the benefit of “Architects For Animals Giving Shelter”. They include the handiwork of William Shatner, Elvira, and Jeri Ryan.

(7) HOVERCRAFTER. IBM’s Science and Star Wars video series talks about how superconductors are the future of mass transportation – an installment featuring Kevin Roche, engineer scientist at IBM Research Almaden who coincidentally is also chair of next year’s Worldcon in San Jose.

(8) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Episode Five-Oh! Book ‘em, Danno! Scott Edelman invites everyone to “Bask in Basque beef stew as Eating the Fantastic turns 50 with guest Xia Jia”.

Here we we are, more than 20 months later, and those of you who’ve followed my journey have listened as I’ve shared at times full meals—at times a donut, during my two lightninground episodes—with more than 75 guests. And the feasting’s not over yet!

This time around, I’m inviting you to join me and my guest for lunch during Worldcon at Parrilla Española, the oldest Spanish restaurant in Helsinki.

And who is this episode’s guest?

Xia Jia, whose short stories have been published in Nature, Clarkesworld, Year’s Best SF, Science Fiction World, and many other venues. She’s won five Galaxy Awards for Chinese Science Fiction as well as six Nebula Awards for Science Fiction and Fantasy in Chinese. But her science fiction skills have been visible on more than just the page, because she directed the 2007 science fiction film Parapax, in which she also acted, appearing as three different identities of the protagonist across parallel universes.

We discussed how reading science fiction gave her the courage to take risks; what it means when she says she writes not hard SF, nor soft SF, nor slipstream, nor cyberpunk, but “porridge sci-fi;” why Ray Bradbury matters so much to her; the challenges of writing in Chinese, writing in English, and translating from one language to the other; our mutual love for Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler; how The Three-Body Problem changed the perceptions of science fiction in China, why she has faith she’ll eventually get to Mars, and more.

(9) MAY OBIT. Julian May (1931-2017) died October 17.

John Hertz profiled her in “May the Force Be With Her” in 2015, after he accepted her First Fandom Hall of Fame Award on her behalf.

She has always spelled her name Julian, and although after marrying T.E. Dikty (1920-1991, elected posthumously in 2013) she sometimes declared copyright as Julian May Dikty, she continued to write under the name Julian May — among others, including, I’m told, Wolfgang Amadeus Futslogg, by which I dare not address her.

Her fanzine was Interim Newsletter, rendering her to some extent a surrogate for all of us. Her story “Dune Roller” was in the December 1951 issue of Campbell’s Astounding, with four interiors by herself (it was made into a 1972 film, credited to her as Judy Dikty). Eight months later she chaired Chicon II, at the age of twenty-one….

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 20, 1932 — James Whale’s The Old Dark House opens in theaters.
  • October 20, 1943 Son of Dracula premieres.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • October 20, 1882 – Bela Lugosi

(12) COMICS SECTION.

John King Tarpinian believes in Frankensteinly speaking as practiced by The Argyle Sweater.

(13) SPEAK UP. Mary Robinette Kowal is boosting the signal.

(14) SOUND INVESTMENT.  Atlas Obscura takes us “Inside the World of a Halloween Sound-Effects Artist”.

…Jumping ahead to the late 1950s, vinyl records allowed people to bring albums of sound effects home. Novelty records by the likes of Spike Jones, featuring funny monster songs and spooky stories set to eerie effects, became popular. However, possibly the first record with a track of just spooky sounds seems to be a record released by Disney in 1964 called Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House. The album features effects that are now Halloween staples: moaning ghosts, barking dogs, clattering chains, and screaming victims, interspersed with short, often comedic, vocal segments that established them. “Disney’s Haunted House album, which was rereleased in 1995, seems to have become a staple in the U.S.A. in particular,” Haggerwood says.

(15) ANOTHER WORLD. At Nerds of a Feather, The G kicks off a new series of posts: “WORLDBUILDING: A Big World and Beyond”.

Welcome to the first post in our Worldbuilding series, where our writers explore various elements of imagining place, people and culture. Today I’m going to discuss where inspiration for fantasy worlds comes from, and what I’d like to read more of in that regard. Obligatory disclaimer: this is an opinion piece. You may agree, if our tastes align or if the arguments put forth resonate with you; or you may disagree, if they do not. That’s healthy. There is ample space for all kinds of approaches to fantasy, and life would be boring if we all wanted to read the same things. -G

Second-world fantasy is not historical, but draws from human histories, cultures and mythologies. The most famous and influential fantasy author, J.R.R. Tolkien, drew heavily from Nordic and Celtic mythologies in constructing Middle Earth. Most fantasy published since The Lord of the Rings has been similarly Eurocentric, utilizing the tropes he established and/or popularized as well as other widely-known (European) sources: Arthurian Legends, the Brothers Grimm, Niebelungenlied and various medieval bestiaries. Many, like Tolkien, are also in a sense a retelling of Song of Roland, or Herodatus–wherein a “civilized” stand-in for the West is threatened by a horde from the geographic periphery.

(16) TASTER’S CHOICE. Also at Nerds of a Feather, Charles Payseur uploads his monthly short fiction reviews: “THE MONTHLY ROUND – A Taster’s Guide to Speculative Short Fiction, 09/2017”.

The stories very much run the gamut between joyous and crushing, but each one is beautiful in its own way, and each brings its unique flavor to this early autumn tasting experience. So settle in and raise a glass, and let’s get to it. Cheers!

Tasting Flight – September 2017

“Pan-Humanism: Hope and Pragmatics” by Jess Barber and Sara Saab (Clarkesworld)

Notes: Expertly balanced between darkness and light, the story tastes like a breath of fresh air after a lifetime of smog, warms and lifts and offers a hope of healing.

Pairs with: Amber Bock

Review: Amir and Mani grow up in a Beirut strained by climate change, by water-scarcity, by the fear of doing greater harm. Both characters, because of their world and because of the weight of history, know only too well the cost of possession, of privatization. Both enter into service to try and heal the planet and bring water and hope and life back to a world that is on the brink. At the same time, they find themselves drawn to one another, and yet mindful that how humans treat the world, and how they treat each other, is linked, and that treating people like possessions, just like treating the Earth like a possession, leads only to corruption, deprivation, and loss. The story, through the exploration of these characters lives and relationships, begins to build a picture of what it might take to make the world work better. It stresses that it’s not technology alone that will save us, because without a philosophy to match, the exploitation and consumption will continue to escalate, pushing past all obstacles and barriers and safeguards. I love how the story implies that humanity needs a different framework in order to respect humans and the environment, in order to put cooperation and compassion ahead of personal ambition or passion. And it is a beautiful story that touches on how love still works in this philosophy, not quite in the same way that we now expect but still in profound and powerful dimensions that allow Amir and Mani’s story to be one of hope and healing and triumph, even as it is often about longing and distance as well. It is an amazing piece, and one of my very favorite stories of the year, period.

(17) WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE. At Centauri Dreams, an interesting piece on whether robotics might make the traditional SF vision of asteroid mining practical — “Robotic Asteroid Mining: Bootstrapping the Solar System Economy”.

While the prospects for humans in space dimmed somewhat, a renewed flowering of developments in AI and robotics burst onto the scene with capabilities that astonished us each year.  On the endlessly orbiting ISS, while astronauts entertained us with tricks that we have seen since the dawn of spaceflight, autonomous robots improved by leaps and bounds.  Within a decade of a DARPA road challenge, driverless cars that could best most human drivers for safety appeared on the roads.  Dextrous robots replaced humans in factories in a wide variety of industries and threaten to dramatically displace human workers. DeepMind’s AlphaGo AI beat the world’s champion GO player with moves described as “beautiful” and well within the predicted time frames.  In space, robotic craft have visited every planet in the solar system and smart rovers are crawling over the face of Mars.  A private robot may soon be on the Moon.  In orbit, swarms of small satellites, packing more compute power than a 1990 vintage Cray supercomputer, are monitoring the Earth with imaging technologies that equal those of some large government satellites. On Earth we have seen the birth of additive manufacturing, AKA 3D printing, promising to put individual crafting of objects in the hands of everyone.

What this portends is an intelligent, machine-based economy in space.  Machines able to operate where humans cannot easily go, are ideally suited to operating there.  Increasingly lightweight and capable, and heedless of life support systems, robotic missions are much cheaper..  How long before the balance tips overwhelmingly in the machines’ favor? Operating autonomously, advanced machines might rapidly transform the solar system.

(18) FASHION VIOLATIONS. Kelly Woo’s Yahoo! piece, “Halloween horror: 19 terrible ‘sexy’ movie and TV costumes no one should ever wear”, is clickbait that warns that women who want to dress up as Sexy Freddy Kruger, Sexy Strawberry Shortcake, and Sexy Remote Control, don’t do it!

So-called sexy Halloween costumes have gotten out of control in the last few years, with manufacturers doing their best to crank out a “sexy” version of pretty much anything. Even characters that have no business being sexy are now tarted up — and it’s time for the madness to end. Click through to see 19 terrible “sexy” pop culture costumes that simply should not exist.

(19) KEEPS ON TICKING. Lisa Taylor is enthusiastic about The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones — review at The Speculative Herald.

I’ll cut straight to it: The Salt Line is one of my favorites for the year. The entire concept of killer ticks sounds like it could be campy or over the top. That is not at all the case. The ticks are described in such a realistic and terrifying way that it truly becomes plausible. Or at least feels plausible. The author is able to use enough facts grounded in science to create this terrifying epidemic. This book did remind me a bit of Joe Hill’s The Fireman in that way. It depicts a world that has been ravaged by some disease, where people’s ways of life are altered because of them. I suppose there are a number of books that could fit this, but the over all tone and presentation and just the quality of writing put me in mind of Hill. That is a huge compliment from me as Hill is one of my favorite, must read authors.

(20) IT IS THE END, MY FRIEND. Talk about “news to me” – I never heard there was another ending: “Frank Oz restores dark original ending of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ for Trump era”.

The first time Warner Bros. screened Little Shop of HorrorsFrank Oz’s 1986 film musical, test audiences ate it up like a bloodthirsty plant devouring a sadistic dentist. They rooted hard for Seymour (Rick Moranis), the nerdy 1960s shop assistant who makes a devil’s bargain with a man-eating plant to win the love of his co-worker Audrey (Ellen Greene). Every scene met with laughter and applause — until the plant devoured Seymour and Audrey, and the audience went silent. After two previews and many livid comment cards, Oz and screenwriter Howard Ashman decided to scrap the original, 23-minute ending — in which the plant eats everyone and takes over the world — in favor of giving Seymour and Audrey their happily-ever-after. Oz has no regrets. “My job is to entertain,” he tells Yahoo Entertainment, and the new ending was “more satisfying to the audience.” However, film fans have long mourned the disappearance of the original ending, which included a heartbreaking reprise of Audrey’s ballad “Somewhere That’s Green” and a fantastic montage of the plant, named Audrey II, rampaging, Godzilla-style, across New York City.

This month, Little Shop of Horrors will be screened for the first time nationwide with its original, darker ending restored. Oz wonders if the film will have a new resonance in the Trump era, when America’s real-life monsters thrive on blood, greed, and the misguided good intentions of countless Seymours….

(21) THE KINDEST CUT OF ALL. Vanity Fair interviews the principals to find out “How The Princess Bride Built Film’s Most Beloved Sword Fight”.

For six months, Princess Bride star Mandy Patinkin had trained to become Inigo Montoya, the world’s greatest swordsman. His worthy opponent, the Man in Black/Westley—played by Cary Elwes—had four months of prep under his belt as well. Spirits were high as the actors performed their duel for director Rob Reiner on the Cliffs of Insanity set for the first time, in London in 1986.

Elwes and Patinkin finished, drawing applause from the film’s crew. Then, both drenched in sweat, they looked to Reiner, who voiced his own response: “That’s it?” It wasn’t exactly the reaction they had hoped for.

(22) THE PEN IS MIGHTIER. Marked down to $6,862.50! “Montegrappa Limited The Iron Throne Game Of Thrones Limited Edition Fountain Pen & Rollerball Set Matching Number”.

But if you can’t swing that, there’s always “Montegrappa Limited DC Comics Superhero Set Ballpoint” for  $3,920.00.

(23) SPACE JOCKEY. Jockey statues have mostly gone out of fashion – unless it’s one created by H.R. Giger. You’ve got less than a week to put in your bid at Nate Sanders Auctions: “H.R. Giger Hand-Painted Model of Space Jockey & the Derelict Spaceship From ”Alien” — Measures Over 3 Feet by 3 Feet, Personally Owned by 20th Century Fox Executive Peter Beale”. Minimum bid: $100,000.

The enormous Space Jockey and cavernous spaceship are quintessential Giger, renowned for human-machine melded beings called biomechanoids; the walls of the spaceship appear to be either vertebrae from a once living creature, or cogs in a vast industrial machine system, or perhaps both. Space Jockey is fused into his command station and wears either a mask, or has an elephantine trunk extending from his face. In the ”Alien” set — which was built based on this model — Space Jockey sits 26 feet tall, dwarfing the characters of Kane, Dallas and Lambert who find him dead, his rib cage blasted open, serving as foreshadowing to what awaits the crew later in the film. So pivotal was the scene — establishing the world of the Alien creature and serving as ground zero for the film’s mythology — that Ridley Scott insisted upon its construction, despite the enormous cost of building the life-size (or larger than life) set. Space Jockey so enthralled the audience of ”Alien”, that the character would even go on to serve as a critical and central story point in Scott’s ”Promethus”, the ”Alien” origin story released in 2012.

(24) HORROR MUST ADVERTISE. Adweek has the story behind a series of seasonal candy commercials: “The Makers of the ‘Bite Size Horror’ Ads Tell Us All About Their Wonderfully Spooky Creations”

Halloween advertising has been a treat this year, thanks to Fox and Mars candy brands, which teamed up for a wonderfully creepy series of two-minute “Bite Size Horror” films that have been airing on Fox TV networks.

The series has included four films— “Floor 9.5” for Skittles, “The Road” for M&Ms, “The Replacement” for Starburst, and “Live Bait” for Snickers. (The campaign was created by Fox Networks Group’s integrated agency All City. Tony Sella from All City is the executive producer of the campaign, and Arby Pedrossian from Fox Digital Studio is the producer.)

 

[Thanks to Bruce Arthurs, John King Tarpinian, Lenore Jean Jones, Michael Brian Bentley, JJ, Alan Baumler, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Soon Lee, and Mark Hepworth for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Pixel Scroll 9/1/17 You Only Scroll Twice

(1) LEAVE SOMETHING TO THE IMAGINATION. Adweek takes us behind the scenes of the Blade Runner 2049 marketing strategy,

How do you get audiences interested in a new film without pumping out trailer after trailer? If you don’t, they might not know about the film. But if you do, you’ll likely give away more and more of the film’s detail, leaving little to the imagination, and ultimately make audiences less likely to actually go to the theater.

This gorgeous new short film, Nexus: 2036, is over six minutes long and serves as the perfect way to establish the atmosphere and tone of the next Blade Runner installment. While Warner Brothers is certainly using trailers to entice the audience, this short, which stars Jared Leto and introduces his character in Blade Runner 2049, takes a franchise that has been dormant for the past 30 years and fills in some of the gaps between the two films.

This spot, from Ridley Scott’s content marketing agency 3AM, was shot in Budapest during principal photography for Blade Runner 2049 and was directed by Luke Scott.

 

(2) THE HEIGHTS OF FOLLY. Although Luc Besson’s Valerian & the City of a Thousand Planets is pretty much in everyone’s rear-view mirror by now, C. E. Murphy’s review is eminently readable:

The dialogue, specifically the dialogue between leads Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne, was excruciating. They had roughly the chemistry of two wet paper towels (although that may be doing wet paper towels a disservice), and the attempt at a romantic storyline between them was very possibly the worst I’ve ever seen on film.

…Aside from the total lack of chemistry, DeHaan and Delevingne were desperately mis-cast in terms of size and physical attributes: they literally looked like children with their waifish forms, big eyes, delicate bone structures, and teensy tinsy heights. Everybody else (including the obviously very young and very, very pretty Kris Wu as a young sergeant that my companion and I said sadly to each other, “He’s obviously going to die,” as soon as he came on screen) looked like adults and towered over them. It was genuinely bizarre.

(3) LISTENING TO THE GOH. Murphy also wrote several fun posts about attending Worldcon 75. The final one in the series is “Worldcon 75: Day Five”. It begins —

*I’d* gotten up because I wanted to go to Walter Jon Williams’ guest of honor interview, which I did (although I went into the wrong room first and was pretty torn about leaving what proved to be an astronaut’s lecture, but did anyway). The first half of it was full of what I thought were really great general questions for a writer and I wanted to be answering them! The second half got more specific about his career, but as he said at the end of the hour, “Well, that got us up to 1985, so please come to the next convention for the other half…” 🙂

(4) SFWA ACCEPTING GRANT APPLICATIONS. The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America have put out a “Call for Grants” that reminds people they provided $24,000 to deserving genre-related programs last year:

Recipients included: the LaunchPad Astronomy program; Alpha, the science fiction, fantasy, and horror workshop for young writers; the African Speculative Fiction Society; a Philadelphia reading series; and others.

SFWA encourages programs supporting and promoting fantasy and science fiction writing and writers to apply for a 2017 grant. We look for non-profit, diverse projects that span a range of ages and publishing approaches and that reach a large group of individuals.

The guidelines and application form are at the link. Decisions will be announced by mid-December.

(5) KILLING SPOCK. Steve “Frosty” Weintraub (that’s his byline) in Collider,com’s piece “William Shatner Shares Some Great Behind-the-Scenes Stories About Making ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’” has a chat with “Shat” about the making of The Wrath of Khan, soon to be shown in Regal theatres as a one-night showing from Fathom Events.

That scene is obviously one of the most iconic in Star Trek history, but speaking of another iconic scene is, when you scream “Khan,” it is one of these scenes that everyone knows that it’s probably the most iconic Star Trek scene that’s ever been done. At the time when you were making it, did you have any inkling that this was going to be such a memorable scene?

SHATNER: No. I was, nobody told me that there was some thought about bringing him back and that Leonard [Nimoy] leaned over, McCoy [DeForest Kelley], and whispered “remember.” I said, “What’s that all about? Why are we killing Spock? Why are we killing Spock?” And they said, “Well, Leonard doesn’t want to do it anymore. I was thinking god, if Leonard doesn’t want to do it anymore, what’s going to happen to Star Trek? If we were to make another film? Well, that’s the way that went. They never told me.

(6) DON’T TOUCH THAT DIAL. Hell, when you put it that way….!

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born September 1, 1942 – C.J. Cherryh

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born September 1, 1875 – Edgar Rice Burroughs

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 1, 1954 Tobor the Great premiered.

(10) NEGLECTED WORKS. While John Scalzi is in DC for the National Book Fair he decided to look up some old friends.

He’s also researching the origins of SJW credentials:

(11) IMPRESSIVE. It looks like a movie, til you get to the last frame. Destiny 2 Official Live Action Trailer – New Legends Will Rise.

(12) THE LAUGHING CARTOGRAPHER. Camestros Felapton finds a way to keep riding the fantasy map bandwagon by tying that topic to his jokes about the award most favored by puppies and frogs (but not pandas): “Map of the Dragon Award Lands”.

The mysterious lands of Inkshares have appeared out of the mists, as have (since yesterday) the newly discovered Red Panda Land. The Islets of Confused Nominees are famed for being inhabited by authors saying “I’ve been nominated for a what now?”

(13) PICARD FORGOT. Andrew Moseman, in “Here’s a Fun Math Goof in ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation'”, says that Some Nerd on Reddit found that in the episode “The Royale,” Captain Picard mentions how Fermat’s Last Theorem remains unsolved whereas the problem was solved by Andrew Wiles in 1994.

The Star Trek: The Next Generation writers probably figured Fermat’s Last Theorem would go on being a mystery for many centuries more. So they introduced it into the 1989 episode as an excuse for Picard to comment on how even the marvels of 24th century tech aren’t enough to solve a problem posed by a Frenchman with no computer. But in 1994—five years after “The Royale” first aired on TV, when TNG was about to end its run—Andrew Wiles released the first successful proof of the theorem.

There is a YouTube video called “Star Trek TNG Fermat’s Last Theorem.” accompanying the story.

(14) ISLAND GIRLS. In “Hollywood’s Woman Problem”, author Libba Bray says her Beauty Queens already explored the ground that putatively will be covered in the Lord of the Flies remake.

Wednesday night, Twitter came to my door with a take-out bag of “No Thanks” marked: Two Dudes decide to make an all-female version of Lord of the Flies.

And I sighed heavily and thought, “Oh. Really?”

Because I’m fairly certain I wrote a book like that in 2011. It’s a satire called Beauty Queens, and it follows a group of girls — teen beauty contestants in this case — who are stranded on an island and thus removed from the patriarchal rules that shape their daily lives. It imagines the sort of world they would begin to build. (Spoiler: It does not involve the chant, “Kill the Pig.” But it might involve Napalm hair remover.)

(15) FUTURE CHOW. How will you keep ‘em down on the farm after they’ve eaten these? “Ants, Seaweed, Chocolate Beer And (Maybe) Less Meat: The Future Of Food”.

Pleasing our palates matters too, right alongside addressing serious environmental issues. That brings us back to ants, plant power, and fake meat: All those foods will have to taste good for people to embrace them in large numbers. As I told Tapper in the interview for Borough Market, at my house this has been a summer of experimenting with vegan ice cream — and I’m having a blast finding out that my own sense of ethics and of delicious taste co-exist.

Earlier this month, I turned the tables on Tapper, and interviewed him. He’s created some cool-sounding beers in recent years, including — with a nod back to Knight’s wild foods — what he calls “a sour beer brewed with raspberries foraged around the Yorkshire countryside.” As a chocolate fiend, it’s the beer he’s currently creating that I’d most like to sample: a “chocolate and coffee imperial porter brewed with hops grown in Borough Market’s entrance.”

(16) WATCHING THE MARKET. Who buys?  “The women in Scotland championing comic books”.

[Tanya Roberts:] “I think the differences in attracting a male/female readership is subtlety small. Because I go to conventions and sell my material to people I get feedback and notice who is buying my artwork.

“Females seem to appreciate character relationships and that emotional connection between them a bit more. I know I do, as a female reader, get inspired when there’s great characters in the story with interesting relationships to others.”

Roberts believes there to be a healthy female audience for comics.

She says: “Girls don’t only seem to cosplay as their favourite characters they also buy comics too.

(17) WINTER IS HERE. At Nerds of a Feather, The G has written a SPOILER-FILLED lookback at the just-completed Game of Thrones season: “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Start Watching GAME OF THRONES Again”.

You see, it’s impossible to capture all the detail of a 700+ page book in a 10-episode season, and that was doubly true once the scale of the drama shifted from the closed-door intrigues of A Game of Thrones to the cross-continental wars of A Clash of Kings. So the writers and producers had to pick and choose what they would bring to screen, as well as take some shortcuts. All quite understandable, really. Unfortunately, they chose to emphasize what are to me the most problematic and least attractive elements of the books, namely, their excess of cruelty and sexual violence. And the show didn’t *just* emphasize these elements; it made them more central, upfront and over-the-top. Meanwhile, I was getting less of the things that made reading the books a magical experience for me–less than I wanted, at least….

Summing up my feelings about Season 7 is basically a fight between heart (which likes it) and head (which does not). Heart wins out, in the end, for the simple reason that head’s been increasingly lonely since the end of Season 1.

[Thanks to The G, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Charon D.]

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

Here is your Hugo-themed Scroll.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Kallocain” by Karin Boye (Bonnier)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some, as did I, resist the temptation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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