Pixel Scroll 7/22/17 On The Fifth Day She Scrolled Five Tidbits About Ray Bradbury

(1) WHAT’S THAT SMELL? CNN’s Brian Lowry is not impressed: “‘Valerian’ turns French comic into epic mess”.

A feast for the eyes and positively numbing on the brain, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” makes an early bid for worst movie of the year — or at least, the most ostentatious waste of money, given the lavish trappings of this comic-book adaptation from French writer-director Luc Besson.

Visually sumptuous, Besson has approximated the scale of a “Star Wars” epic, albeit one wholly populated by versions of Jar-Jar Binks….

(2) GUARANTEED INCOME. Fast Company considers “Could Hawaii Be The First State To Offer A Basic Income?” Shades of Mack Reynolds!

With trials already underway in Kenya, Finland, and Oakland, and several others planned elsewhere, basic income is starting to get a thorough testing. The idea of direct cash transfers to meet basic human needs has been getting a lot of attention in the media, from Silicon Valley leaders, and among academics and think tanks. It can’t be long before a city or state in the United States experiments with basic income for itself (Oakland’s pilot is run by Y Combinator, a startup incubator)….

(3) SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM. And what will Hawaiians buy with their guaranteed money? Well… “‘It’s flavourful as hell’: Welcome to Hawaii’s annual Spam festival”

Not even the drizzle can deter the crowds unspooling along Hawaii’s Waikiki Beach. As late April showers fall upon Kalakaua Avenue, the roads are lined three-deep with sunburned tourists, surfer bros and silver-haired pensioners. Their colourful T-shirts, flower garlands and fancy dress costumes are soaked by rain, but eagerly they wait. Suddenly, a chorus of tiny ukuleles starts to play. The procession begins. Are they waiting to pay homage to a visiting dignitary or religious leader? No. They’re here to celebrate Hawaii’s favourite food: the immortal luncheon meat called Spam.

I join snaking queues for seemingly endless food stalls, each dish more absurd than the last: Spam pizza, Spam fried rice, Spam crackers, Spam pho, deep-fried mac and cheese bites (with Spam) and, of course, Spam fritters. I spot some Spam-infused macadamia nuts, and a slab of grilled Spam atop sticky rice, doused in soy and bound with seaweed: Spam sushi. There’s even Spam dipped in chocolate.

(4) CELEBRATING AFRICAN SF. The University of Manchester’s The Manchester Review has published a special issue on African SF: “Manchester showcases African sci-fi writers, including the author of an ‘African Game of Thrones’”.

This edition of the review is edited by the multi-award winning Geoff Ryman, a Senior Creative Writing Lecturer at The University of Manchester. His own work has won the Arthur C Clarke Award, the Philip K Dick Award and the British Science Fiction Award, and his passion for African science fiction has led him towrite a series interviewing 100 writers from the continent.

Ryman says:

The number of African science fiction stories being published is now too great to do anything other than list. Right now, this wave of creativity reminds me of Elizabethan England at the time of Shakespeare – the power is rising, and the literature with it.

(5) CHAOS DENIED. A spokesperson for former Doctor Who Peter Davison complains the actor’s comments on the new Doctor were quoted out of context:

Since there’s been a flurry of out of context and editorialized articles from various tabloids today (they do love to create chaos), here’s a transcript of Peter’s actual comments from a press interview at #SDCC2017 (the “breaks” were apparently pauses for questions which were edited out):

I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for her and I think that it will be hard for some fans to adjust to it. As I said before, it’s difficult to adjust to any new Doctor, but I think the important thing is that those are uncertain fellows, those who are uncertain should be encouraged to watch it with an open mind. I don’t know, I feel… I think the time for discussion about that is past. They’ve made the announcement. Jodie Whittaker is the next Doctor and that’s great!

[break]

I feel.. if I feel any doubts about it, it’s the loss of a role model for boys, who I think Doctor Who is vitally important for. So I feel a bit sad about that, but I understand the argument that you’ve got to open it up, so that’s absolutely fair enough. So she has my best wishes and full confidence. I’m sure she’ll do a wonderful job.

[break]

As a viewer, I kind of like the idea of the Doctor as a boy, but then maybe I’m an old fashioned dinosaur. Who knows? But I think that’s irrelevant now. The time for discussion is over. We have a new Doctor. And let’s give her our full support.

[break]

I would encourage them to watch. I think there’s too much… you know on the internet… there’s too much bile coming from both sides. And too many people are being horribly sexist about it, and too many people are saying, ‘Well, we don’t care about you. You’re old fashioned. Go away and watch something else.’ I think fans who are doubtful, who are uncertain should be encouraged and welcomed. And just approach it with an open mind.

[break]

Oh yeah, of course. I mean, she’s a terrific actress. And you can absolutely understand it. Look, someone rings you up… I know this feeling… someone rings you up one night. You’re sitting at home and they say ‘how would you feel about being the next Doctor Who?’ It’s a fantastic opportunity, so of course, she grabs it with both hands. I’m sure she’ll do a wonderful job!”

 

(6) THE MAGIC GOES AWAY. This is the last weekend LA’s Harry Potter-themed store Whimsic Alley will be open — “Miracle Mile’s Whimsic Alley Closing”. It says something about social media – don’t ask me what – that a store with over 18,000 Facebook “likes” has bit the dust.

Both a shop and a popular party and entertainment venue, with a castle-like Great Hall event space and a retail area resembling a Dickensian streetscape, the business has been catering to fans of the Harry Potter books and movies — as well as fans of other popular entertainments such as Game of Thrones, Dr. Who, Outlander and even Downton Abbey — in its current location since 2008 (and it was located in Santa Monica for five years before that).  It sells books, costumes, toys, magic wands and other character-related accessories, and has hosted hundreds of birthday parties, tea parties, costume balls, murder mystery dinners, fantasy-themed craft fairs, day camps and even weddings.  For many years before Potter-themed attractions opened at Universal Studios, fans from all over the world would trek to Whimsic Alley for its one-of-a-kind items and atmosphere.

“New multi-million dollar theme parks and exhibitions are awe-inspiring,” owner Stan Goldin said in the closing statement, “But for many years, Whimsic Alley filled a void that no one else seemed interested in filling. Our staff enjoyed serving our clientele as much as they hopefully enjoyed their experiences. As a result, we developed close friendships along the way which we hope will continue for many years to come.”

But Goldin told the Buzz that those new theme park attractions, along with other factors such as the rise of online shopping, and perhaps also traffic and parking disruptions from local subway construction, may be what finally sealed the fate of the beloved store. Business has fallen off dramatically in the last year or so, he said, and “we can only speculate why.”

(7) HALF OF SIXTEEN TONS AND WHAT DO YOU GET? Yahoo! Celebrity’s piece “Comic Book Superfan’s Collection Weighs More Than 8 Tons” tells about Bob Bretell, an LA guy who is in the Guinness Book of World Records for having 103,000 comic books, including Amazing Fantasy 15.

Martin Morse Wooster sent the link with a comment: “I remember there was a discussion in File 770 back in the day about fans who were moving their collections and discussing how many tons of books they had.  I remember some fans had more than one ton, but I don’t think anybody had two.  Well, this guy has eight tons of comics!”

(8) CONVERSATIONS WITH CREATORS. Thieved from John Scalzi’s Twitter feed.

(9) WUT? Camestros Felapton has scored another technological breakthrough, the sound-free podcast. It’s guaranteed to be as pleasing to the deaf as it is to the dumb: “The Book Club Roundtable Discussion Club Non-Audio Podcast Club”. Features Camestros, Timothy the Talking Cat and a radiant guest star —

[Camestros] Well, I’m glad you asked. Coming all the way from the distant past and the far future is Susan the triceratops! A big round of applause for Susan!

[Susan the Triceratops enters from the wings] Hi.

[Camestros] Hi Susan. Now for the viewers at home can you tell us more about yourself?

[Susan] Viewers? Isn’t this a podcast?

[Timothy] The government is always watching us Susan. They fear my outspoken commitment to freedom and privatising healthcare.

[Susan] Thank you for the clarification small mammal predator. Well, as you know, I’m originally from the distant past but due to a time-travel accident I ended up in the far future where I now live in Fungus Town, home to the post-apocalyptic Fungus civilisation. In my spare time I defend the city in my superhero identity: Triceracopter.

(10) SHUFFLE UP. Bibliophilopolis tells how fans can “deal themselves in” to “An All-Bradbury #24in48 Readathon!”

From the readathon’s home page, here are some details: “If you’re new to 24in48, this is the basic gist: beginning at 12:01am on Saturday morning and running through 11:59pm on Sunday night, participants read for 24 hours out of that 48-hour period. You can split that up however you’d like: 20 hours on Saturday, four hours on Sunday; 12 hours each day; six four-hour sessions with four hour breaks in between, whatever you’d like.”

What am I Reading?

Now “the rest of the story” is that most participants don’t actually read 24 entire hours, but rather have that as a goal.  In the past, I’ve participated by reading 24 short stories, which is harder than you think.  This year, though, to up the ante, I’m going to try to read 52 stories, all by the master storyteller, Ray Bradbury.  Why? Many reasons, not the least of which being I really enjoy reading his stories. He also doesn’t write many “long-ish” stories, so they might average a short enough length for me to complete 52 in a weekend. The most important reason, though, is that I am hoping to “raise awareness” about a local (for me) literary treasure, The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies. Pay them a visit at the link, and also check out their Facebook page. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the Center on a couple occasions and it is chock-full of Bradbury artifacts and documents, and a re-creation of his office space. Including his seat of choice, a director’s chair (see photo below).

(11) YESTERDAY IN HISTORY. From John King Tarpinian’s 2009 Comic-Con photos:

Here is a picture I took, my friend Robert is in the middle.  The other two are Jerry Robinson & Ray Bradbury.  If you don’t know who Jerry was then you do not deserve to be in San Diego this weekend.

(12) FIVE YEARS AGO. And in 2012, John photographed George Clayton Johnson’s image on the screen at Comc-Con’s Bradbury eulogy session.

George Clayton Johnson

(13) COMIC SECTION. John  King Tarpinian got a laugh from today’s Off the Mark.

(14) I’VE SEEN THAT FACE BEFORE, SOMEWHERE. One good book cover deserves another. And another.

The Martian by Andy Weir (Feburary 2014)

John Glenn: America’s Astronaut (April 2014)

Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space (June 2014)

Scott Parazynski: The Sky Below: A True Story of Summits, Space, and Speed (August 2017)

(15) FAN MAIL FROM SOME FLOUNDER. The Daily Beast’s Erica Wagner remembers the family business: “Inside the Secret World of ‘The Muppet Show’”.

“Dear Kermit the Frog,” begins the letter from a young fan, framed on the wall of the new Jim Henson Exhibition at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens. “How is show business? When are you and Miss Piggy getting married? Tell Miss Piggy I saw a bride dress.”

I’d guess from the handwriting that the scribe was 6 or 7 years old. But at the top of the page is handwriting that I recognize—my mom’s, making a careful note of just how many letters like this there were the pile of mail requiring her attention. Because when I was growing up, my parents’ job was answering all the fan mail the Muppets received.

(16) VIEW FROM A PUPPY. In what Dr. Mauser says will probably be his last Sad Puppies blog post, he presents his version of recent history: “The Claw!”

….Now if the goal of the Sad Puppies were to probe how deep the fix was in in the Hugo electorate, the goal of the Rabid Puppies was to Win. The organizer has a bit of a beef with the SF community, to put it mildly, and taking one of their awards would be a coup. The first attempt was no real master stroke. Having seen how effective Larry’s fanbase had been in getting nominees on the ballot in SP2, the easiest, no effort way to get in was to hijack the list, add himself and a few of his house’s authors to the list at the top, knock off the bottom items to fill out a slate, and mobilize his fanbase as well. With so much commonality to the lists, it would be impossible to sort out whose supporters were whose. Which as a tactic to make his influence appear larger than it was, was successful. SP and RP got conflated and slammed in the social media, and the real media, by design. Some people still can’t tell them apart. But good Tactics sometimes make bad Strategy, and the backlash the organizer engendered resulted, as I said, in one of the most toxic Hugo ceremonies ever, as well as in rules changes designed to make the Hugo nomination process even more opaque than the final vote process.

It wasn’t much better the next year, when his spitefulness towards the fandom made him pollute the nominations with crude gay porn titles. If he couldn’t win, he was going to ruin the whole thing. It merely cemented the backlash, but it didn’t require the overkill numbers unleashed the year before to shut him out, thus those excess no-award voter accounts were released.

Skipping ahead to this year. It becomes really simple to see why he sent an acolyte to announce he was commandeering the helm of SP5. Clearly he believed that the Sad Puppies had an army of followers and if he could co-opt them to his cause, he could finally win, or at least do real damage.[1] The Kickers, on the other hand, had rigged the game even more, making it harder for any small group to dominate the nominations, but a sufficiently large one, like say, tor.com fans, with properly distributed votes, could capture a large number of nominations, and they did. And in the coming years, another fix is going in that will allow any sufficiently large cabal to de-nominate anything they don’t like[2] (They call it 3 Stage Voting, or 3SV, but it’s NOTHING like what I proposed).

I don’t think though that this is going to stop him from shoving more and more quarters into the damned machine, trying to grab that Trophy. The Sad Puppies have proven their point, and are off to chase more good fiction. The Hugos don’t interest them any more. The Rabids though, they’re out to win, no matter how much the game is rigged, and how destructive the results end up being. That’s a feature to them, not a bug.

(17) CONFEDERATE. Vulture’s Josef Adalian in “The Producers of HBO’s Confederate Respond to the Backlash and Explain Why They Wanted to Tell This Story” has an extended interview with showrunners Benioff and Weiss, including why they brought in two African-Americans, Nichelle Tramble Spellman and Malcolm Spellman to be co-showrunners.

So Malcolm and Nichelle, take me back to how David and D.B. first came to you with this. How did you decide to get involved?

MS: They first called me and said they wanted to take us to lunch and talk about a project they had. They took me and Nichelle out to a restaurant and told us the history of it: They had this script, the movie version, but they felt taking it to TV would be better. And they knew they needed black voices on it. There was already a comfort level between all of us. I feel like me and Nichelle, both separately, have a great pedigree — her particularly — and so it made sense.

For me and Nichelle, it’s deeply personal because we are the offspring of this history. We deal with it directly and have for our entire lives. We deal with it in Hollywood, we deal with it in the real world when we’re dealing with friends and family members. And I think Nichelle and I both felt a sense of urgency in trying to find a way to support a discussion that is percolating but isn’t happening enough. As people of color and minorities in general are starting to get a voice, I think there’s a duty to force this discussion.

Nichelle Tramble Spellman: When we initially sat down, we made the joke, “Oh, this is going to be a black Game of Thrones spin-off! This is gonna be awesome.” And then [Benioff and Weiss] got into what the story was about, and I just remember being so excited — and absolutely terrified at the same time. I can’t remember the last time I approached any story like that. So Malcolm and I left the lunch and couldn’t stop talking about it the entire way home. And immediately that night, this chain of emails just started. Like, “Have you read this? Have you read that? What about this piece of history? How can we bring this all into a present-day story line.”

And immediately what the conversation turned into is how we could draw parallels between what has been described as America’s original sin to a present-day conversation.

(18) NOT EVERYONE’S A BELIEVER. It’s easy to be cynical in Hollywood.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/7/17 Oh I Get Scrolled With A Little Help From My Friends

(1) BY KLONO’S BRAZEN BALLS. I remember how 30s space opera authors invented colorful gods for characters to swear by. Taking advantage of today’s freer speech, Book View Café’s Marie Brennan advises writers to give characters language to swear with: “New Worlds: Gestures of Contempt”.

In fiction, you can sell just about anything as contemptuous so long as the characters react to it appropriately. You can give it a cultural underpinning if you want; the story about longbows and the V-sign may not be true in reality, but in a story something along those lines could be a great touch of historical depth. In many cases, though, trying to explain why the gesture is offensive would probably turn into an unnecessary infodump. Instead it can just be like the line from Shakespeare: “Do you bite your thumb at me, sir?” We don’t need to know why biting the thumb is an insult for it to work in the scene. We just need to know whether this is a mild way of saying “screw you” or something to fight a duel over, whether it’s just vulgar or a sign that the other person is placing a curse. The intent and the reaction will tell us all that’s necessary.

(2) JOANN KAISER. The GoFundMe for JoAnn Kaiser has blown past its goal and has raised over $14,000 as of today. She is the widow of fan and bookdealer Dwain Kaiser, who was killed earlier this week.

(3) SMALL PRESS. The Washington Posts’s Michael Dirda says “These small presses can help you think big about summer reading”. He plugs the Haffner Press, and gives a shout-out to Darrell Schweitzer (even using his book cover as art.)

Haffner Press . If you have any interest in pulp fiction, this is the publisher for you. Stephen Haffner issues substantial hardback volumes devoted to the magazine stories of Edmond Hamilton (creator of Captain Future); the crime fiction of Fredric Brown; the early work of Leigh Brackett (whose later credits include the screenplay for “The Empire Strikes Back”); and the occult detective stories of Manly Wade Wellman. One recent title, “The Watcher at the Door,” is the second volume in an ongoing series devoted to the weird tales of the versatile Henry Kuttner. Its foreword is by Robert A. Madle, a Rockville, Md., book and magazine dealer, who may be the oldest living person to have attended the first World Science Fiction Convention, held in 1939…..

Wildside Press . While its books aren’t fancy, this Washington-area publisher maintains an enormous backlist of classic, contemporary and off-trail works of fantasy, science fiction, adventure and horror. Wildside also issues new works of criticism focused on these genres, most recently Darrell Schweitzer’s “The Threshold of Forever.” In these easygoing and astute essays, Schweitzer reflects on the comic side of Robert Bloch (best known for his novel “Psycho”), Randall Garrett’s “The Queen Bee,” often regarded as the most sexist short story in the history of science fiction, and the work of idiosyncratic horror writers such as James Hogg, William Beckford and Sarban.

(4) OH NOES. Gizmodo fears “Mars Might Not Be The Potato Utopia We Hoped”.

In Andy Weir’s novel-turned-Matt-Damon-movie The Martian, the protagonist endures the harsh terrain of Mars by using his own shit to grow potatoes. The idea isn’t that outlandish—over the last few years, a NASA-backed project has been attempting to simulate Martian potato farming by growing taters in the Peruvian desert. While early results were promising, new research suggests that survival of any life on Mars—much less potato-growing humans—might be more difficult than we thought. I blame Matt Damon.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh tested how the bacteria Bacillus subtilis would react to perchlorates, which were first discovered in Martian soil back in 2008. Perchlorates are naturally-occurring (and sometimes, man-made) chemicals that are toxic to humans, but they’re not always so bad for microbes. In fact, in the Atacama Desert in Chile, some microbes use perchlorates in the soil as an energy source. On Mars, perchlorates allow water to exist in a briny liquid form despite the planet’s low atmospheric pressure.

However, when the researchers put B. subtilis in a bath of magnesium perchlorate solution similar to the concentrations found on Mars, and exposed the microbes to similar levels of UV radiation, the bacteria died within 30 seconds.

(5) WAFFLE TEST PATTERN. Scott Edelman invites the internet to chow down on chicken and waffles with Nancy Holder in Episode 42 of Eating the Fantastic. The encounter was recorded during StokerCon weekend.

Luckily, my guest this episode was not a skeptic, and enthusiastically accompanied me for the greasy goodness. Five-time Bram Stoker Award winning-writer Nancy Holder had been the Toastmaster during the previous night’s ceremony, is the author of the young adult horror series Possessions, and has written many tie-in works set in such universes as Teen Wolf, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, AngelSmallville, and Wonder Woman.

We discussed her somewhat secret origin as a romance novelist, why her first horror convention made her burst into tears, how she got off on the wrong foot with acclaimed editor Charles L. Grant, what caused her Edgar Allan Poe obsession to begin, why she was a fan of DC Comics instead of Marvel as a kid, what Ed Bryant might have meant when he called her “the first splatterpunk to chew with her mouth closed,” and more.

(6) HAWKEYE BOO-BOO. Actor “Jeremy Renner Broke Both Arms in Stunt Accident on Set of ‘Tag'”.

Jeremy Renner has broken both his arms in a stunt that went wrong while filming, the actor, who is currently working on Avengers: Infinity War, said Friday.

Speaking before a Karlovy Vary film festival screening of Taylor Sheridan‘s Wind River, in which Renner plays a federal wildlife officer drafted to help solve a murder on a Native American reservation in Wyoming, Renner said the injuries would not affect his ability to do his job.

“It won’t stop things that I need to do. I heal fast and am doing everything I can to heal faster,” he said.

Fall down seven times…stand up 8! #fixedup #pushthrough

A post shared by Jeremy Renner (@renner4real) on

(7) MISSING IN ACTION. Massacres like this are usually reserved for Game of Thrones. Ben Lee of Digital Spy, in “Once Upon a Time season 7 adds five stars including this Poldark actor”, notes that season 7 of Once Upon a Time has started production and no less than seven members of the cast have been booted:  Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jack Dallas, Jared S. Gilmore, Emile de Raven, and Rebecca Mader.

(8) JOAN LEE OBIT. Deadline’s Patrick Hipes, in “Joan Lee Dies:  Wife of Comics Icon Was 93”,  notes her passing on July 4.  IMDB shows she had parts in X-Men Apocalypse and the TV versions of Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Fantastic Four. She and Stan Lee had been married for 69 years.

(9) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

Lon Chaney Jr. is the only actor to portray four major Universal Monsters; the Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Mummy (Kharis), and Count Dracula.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 7, 1955 — The Science Fiction radio serial X Minus One aired “The Green Hills Of Earth.” As John King Tarpinian says, this probably wasn’t a coincidence.
  • July 7, 2006Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, an adventure film starring Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born July 7, 1907 — Robert A. Heinlein

(12) MEDICAL NEWS. Spreading cancer caught on film.

The way in which every single cancer cell spreads around the body has been captured in videos by a team in Japan.

The normal body tissues show up as green, while the cancer comes out as intense red spots.

The team, at the University of Tokyo and the RIKEN Quantitative Biology Center, says the technology will help explain the deadly process.

The research is on mice so far, but it is hoped the method could one day help with treatment too.

(13) NOT INCLUDED. Tesla to build the world’s largest battery.

The battery will protect South Australia from the kind of energy crisis which famously blacked out the state, Premier Jay Weatherill said.

Tesla boss Elon Musk confirmed a much-publicised promise to build it within 100 days, or do it for free.

The 100-megawatt (129 megawatt hour) battery should be ready this year.

“There is certainly some risk, because this will be largest battery installation in the world by a significant margin,” Mr Musk said in Adelaide on Friday.

He added that “the next biggest battery in the world is 30 megawatts”.

The Tesla-built battery, paired with a Neoen wind farm, will operate around the clock and be capable of providing additional power during emergencies, the government said.

(14) HUGO REVIEWS. Natalie Luhrs shares her evaluations in “2017 Hugo Reading: Novelettes”.

I think the novelette finalists are a bit more of a mixed bag. Some of them I think are outstanding, one fell flat for me, and then there’s that other one. You know the one….

This is her review of one she rates as outstanding:

“Touring with the Alien” by Carolyn Ives Gilman (Clarkesworld)

This novelette opens with Avery getting a call offering her a job transporting an alien from the DC area to St. Louis. The aliens had appeared overnight, large domes across the country and until this one decided they wanted a tour of the country, what they wanted and their motives for coming to Earth were unclear. Their motives are still not very clear at the outset of the journey, but by the end–well.

The alien comes aboard the bus in crates and is accompanied by his human translator, Lionel. Each alien has a human translator, someone who was abducted as a child from a family that didn’t care for them, a child no one would miss (how horrible is that?) Avery starts driving and as they make their way across the US, she gets to know Lionel and through Lionel, the alien.

Avery’s a sympathetic narrator and she is genuinely curious about the aliens and willing to acquiesce to most of Lionel’s requests on the alien’s behalf. There is a lot about what it means to have consciousness—the aliens are not conscious—and what value, if any, that brings to existence. I found the ending to be both a surprise and quite endearing. Gilman is an easy prose stylist and Avery’s conversational and self-reflective voice is exactly what this story requires.

(15) ANOTHER TAKE. Speaking of “the one,” it’s given an actual review as part of Doris V. Sutherland’s “2017 Hugo Reviews: Novelettes” at Women Write About Comics.

Alien Stripper Boned From Behind by the T-Rex is, of course, the Rabid Puppy pick for Best Novelette. It is here as a result of Vox Day rather lazily repeating his prank from last year when he got Chuck Tingle’s Space Raptor Butt Invasion on the ballot as a dig at Rachel Swirsky’s “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love.”

Some have dismissed Stix Hiscock (who, despite her masculine choice of pseudonym, is a woman) as a mere Chuck Tingle imitator. This would be unfair. After all, Chuck Tingle was not the first author to write weird dinosaur erotica, and Ms. Hiscock has as much right as he does to try her hand at the genre.

Taken on its own terms, Alien Stripper Boned From Behind by the T-Rex is a solid but undistinguished specimen of its kind….

(16) SUMMER TV. Glenn Garvin on reason.com reviews Salvation, an end-of-the-world show in the vein of When Worlds Collide coming to CBS starting on July 12: “Salvation Will Have You Hoping for the World’s End”.

He concludes that “Salvation strongly resembles recent congressional budget debates, punctuated by occasional kidnappings, car chases, and gunplay by an unidentified gang of thugs that want the world to end.”

(17) MORE THAN A MEMORY. Speculiction’s Jesse Hudson, in “Review of The Mindwarpers by Eric Frank Russell”, revisits the work of someone once regarded as among sf’s more thought-provoking writers.

One of the interesting aspects of science fiction is that it is a form sometimes used to criticize science, or more precisely the application of science, rather than glorify it.  From Barry Malzberg to J.G. Ballard, Ray Bradbury to Pat Cadigan, Tom McCarthy to James Morrow—these and other writers in the field have in some way expressed a wariness at technological change and its impact, intended and unintended, on people and society.  The quantity of such fiction dropping since the days vast and quick technological change first threatened, change has almost become the norm.  Getting more outdated with each day, Eric Frank Russell’s 1965 The Mindwarpers is one such book.  Republished as an ebook in 2017 by Dover Publications, the message at its heart, however, transcends time.

(18) MANY A TRUTH IS SAID IN TWEET. Wax on. Wax off.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Isotype from Henning M. Lederer is a soothing kaleidoscope-type animation with music from Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.

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

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

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

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

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

The red carpet event had been scheduled for May 31…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colorfully formal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Kratman’s Carreraverse

John Ringo’s Posleen Wars

Travis S. Taylor’s Tau Ceti Agenda

Michael Z. Williamson’s Freehold

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can I be Wolverine?

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

Oooooh, X-force please!

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

…can I choose Nightcrawler?

Yes, ya can.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. SEAN BEAN AND SHARPE

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

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

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

He’s immortal.

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

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

Pixel Scroll 3/2/17 Doing The Trilogy Backwards

(1) RECURSIVE NEWS. The Large Hadron Collider gets a pixel tracker.

Officials said the replacement of a key component inside the CMS experiment represented the first major upgrade to the LHC – the world’s biggest machine.

Engineers have been carefully installing the new “pixel tracker” in CMS in a complex and delicate procedure on Thursday 100m underground….

More than 1,200 “dipole” magnets steer the beam around a 27km-long circular tunnel under the French-Swiss border. At certain points around the ring, the beams cross, allowing collisions to take place. Large experiments like CMS and Atlas then record the outcomes of these encounters, generating more than 10 million gigabytes of data every year.

The CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) pixel tracker is designed to disentangle and reconstruct the paths of particles emerging from the collision wreckage.

“It’s like substituting a 66 megapixel camera with a 124 megapixel camera,” Austin Ball, technical co-ordinator for the CMS experiment, told BBC News.

In simple terms, the pixel detector takes images of particles which are superimposed on top of one another, and then need to be separated.

(2) COLLECTING THE CURE. A bidder paid top dollar for a moldy piece of history.

The mold in question — which actually outpaced early expectations to be sold for a whopping $14,617, according to The Associated Press — is a capsule of the original Penicillium chrysogenum Alexander Fleming was working with when he discovered the antibiotic penicillin. Encased in a glass disc, inscribed with the words “the mould that first made Penicillin,” and signed by Fleming himself, the little sample comes from the collection of Fleming’s niece, Mary Anne Johnston.

(3) GOLD RUSS. James Davis Nicoll has the panelists reading “When It Changed” by Joanna Russ at Young People Read Old SFF.

With this story we enter the 1970s, the last decade in the Young People project . I knew which story I wanted to begin the decade with: Joanna Russ’ 1972 Nebula-winner “When It Changed”. Noted author and critic Russ’s story is a reply to such classics as Poul Anderson’s Virgin Planet, stories in which planets populated entirely by women are granted that most precious of treasures, a man and his unsolicited advice. Russ was not always entirely pleased by the status quo. Subtle hints of her displeasure can be detected in this classic first contact tale.

Of course, we live in a modern era of complete equality between the sexes. Who knows if this story can speak to younger people? Let’s find out!

Here’s one participant’s verdict –

….I’d still be willing to suggest that “When It Changed” is the most relevant of all the stories we’ve read so far in this project. I’m sure this is a very hard to believe statement, especially when you compare the story to some of the others we’ve read (i.e. dolphin-people and doomsday don’t-let-the-sun-set cultists), but I’m willing to say it and stand by it, for a few reasons….

(4) DEALING WITH IT. Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s “Business Musings: Writing with Chronic Health Problems” deals with something I’m sure many writers are doing after seeing people’s comments here.

It wasn’t until I got a Fitbit on a lark that exercise became do-not-miss for me. Why? Because I can hit my 10,000 steps even when I’m sick. I shuffle around the house like the walking dead, determined to hit that magic number, because I’m anal, and because finishing my steps every day before midnight is something I can control.

The knee injury got in the way. I made my doctor give me a schedule and benchmarks so that I wouldn’t start up again too soon, but also so that I would start as soon as I could. He thought I was nuts, but he did it. And I followed it, even though I didn’t want to. (I wanted to hobble around the house to hit that magic 10,000 steps.) Even with an injured knee, I got 3,000-4,000 steps per day (using crutches), because I really can’t sit down for very long.

It drives me crazy.

So why am I telling you all of this? This is a writing blog, right?

Because dozens of you have asked me, both privately and in comments, how I write with a chronic health condition.

There really is a trick to the writing while chronically ill. But the trick is personal, and it’s tailored to each individual person.

So, more personal stories—and then tips.

(5) MoPOP. Nominations for next year’s inductees to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame are being taken from the public through April 16.

We’ve opened up our Hall of Fame nominations to the public so that you can choose the creations (e.g. a movie, video game, book, comic/graphic novel, superhero, etc.) and creators (e.g. director, actor, writer, animator, composer, etc.) that have most inspired you!

MoPOP also says the public will be able to vote for the selected finalists later this year, although it’s unclear what impact that vote will have. The website says —

Founded in 1996, the Hall of Fame was relocated from the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas to its permanent home at MoPOP in 2004. Nominations are accepted from the public and the final inductees are chosen by a committee of industry experts.

A public was invited to vote was taken on last year’s nominees, too, but as it says above, selected experts chose the inductees.

(6) NEBULA NOMINEE. Brooke Bolander, who calls this “sputtering,” writes a pretty good thank-you: “Nebula Finalist Frenzy, or: IT HAPPENED AGAIN WTF BBQ”.

Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies,” my thousand-word rage bark published in Uncanny Magazine, is a finalist for the Best Short Story Nebula. Again, to everyone who put it on their ballot: holy shit, thank you so goddamned much. I was helping clean up after a family funeral when I got the call, so to say that I needed that good news is a grave and frankly insulting understatement to the gift you all handed me. I didn’t expect to get on the ballot last year. I figured it was probably the last time I’d be within six city blocks of a ballot for a long, long time, if ever. Is being a finalist again so soon intimidating? You’d better fuckin’ believe it, buster. Is trying to figure out how I am going to follow this up absolutely bowel-twistingly terrifying, the fear that I’ll never write anything else worthwhile once again lurking at the edges of my internal narrative like a shadow beneath a 1 AM streetlamp? DING DING DING.

(7) SURVIVOR. Pat Cadigan is deeply reflective in this installment of “Still Making Cancer My Bitch”.

…At the same time, however, it’s a little spooky to think that, had my cancer followed its standard course––had I not gotten so extremely lucky––I wouldn’t be here now. And the two friends I lost were supposed to be living their lives as usual. John Lennon once pointed out that life is what happens while you’re making other plans. Truer words were never spoken.

A few days ago, I had started writing a post about survivor guilt. There have been a few posts I found very difficult and uncomfortable to write but this one was impossible. I have seldom written nonfiction; it’s really not my metier. I did write two nonfiction books in the late 1990s, one about the making of Lost In Space and another a year later about the making of The Mummy; they were assignments I lucked into and I think they turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself. But I digress.

Survivor guilt is one of those things easier felt than explained––easier done than said, if you will. You can’t write about it without sounding like you’re fishing for comfort: Please forgive me for still being alive. You know people are going to tell you that you have nothing to feel guilty about. Except for the few whom you secretly suspect don’t forgive you.

Personally, I’ve always thought of survivor guilt as something suffered by people who have been through terrible catastrophes––natural disasters, mass transit crashes, explosions, wars. These people have been through extreme trauma and injury themselves. So claiming I have survivor guilt sounds self-aggrandising. The truth is, I’ve never been in pain and thanks to my family and my ongoing support system of friends far and wide, I’ve never felt alone or like I had no one to talk to.

What I’m feeling is more like survivor embarrassment. It’s like this: you find out you’re terminal, and you make a big deal out of it, because what the hell, it is a big deal, to you anyway. Then, holy guacamole! Things take a completely unexpected swerve and it turns out you’re not as terminal as they thought. You’re not exactly well, not in remission, but you’re stable and you’re not leaving any time soon unless someone drops a house on you. (And even then, it would probably depend on the house.)

(8) BEAR NECESSITIES. Worldcon 75 has received a 5000 € grant from Art Promotion Centre Finland. If you read Finnish, you can find out the details in the organization’s press release.

(9) ROCK SOLID EVIDENCE. “Oldest fossil ever found on Earth shows organisms thrived 4.2bn years ago”. The Telegraph has the story.

Oldest fossil ever found on Earth shows organisms thrived 4.2bn years ago

It’s life, but not as we know it. The oldest fossil ever discovered on Earth shows that organisms were thriving 4.2 billion years ago, hundreds of millions of years earlier than previously thought.

The microscopic bacteria, which were smaller than the width of a human hair, were found in rock formations in Quebec, Canada, but would have lived in hot vents in the 140F (60C) oceans which covered the early planet.

The discovery is the strongest evidence yet that similar organisms could also have evolved on Mars, which at the time still had oceans and an atmosphere, and was being bombarded by comets which probably brought the building blocks of life to Earth.

….Space expert Dr Dan Brown of Nottingham Trent University added: “The discovery is exciting since it demonstrates how quickly life can form if the conditions are right on a planet or moon.

“This makes it clear to me that as soon as we find conditions on an exoplanet that would favour life as we know it, the probability of finding some form of life on that planet is very high. However, we are not talking about little green aliens but about microorganisms.

(10) ABSTRACT THINKING. Click here for the table of contents of the March issue of Science Fiction Studies which brings us, among other headscratchers, Thomas Strychacz’ “The Political Economy of Potato Farming in Andy Weir’s The Martian” —

Abstract. This essay examines the diverse political-economic registers of Andy Weir’s The Martian (2011) in terms of its symbolic response to the material and ideological crises of the Great Recession. The 2008 financial collapse in the US led to millions losing their homes and posed a serious challenge to the legitimacy of mainstream economic principles. Published at the height of the crisis, and concerning itself with the monumental challenge of bringing just one person home, the novel writes contested economic discourses into cultural fable. On Mars, Mark Watney’s potato farming evokes the paradigmatic neoclassical economic figure of homo economicus, the self-interested, maximizing agent who constantly prioritizes competing choices in order to allocate scarce resources rationally. NASA’s Earth, conversely, is a fantastic world of “unlimited funding” where, overturning two centuries of (neo)classical economic principle, “every human being has a basic instinct to help each other out” (Weir 368-69). The novel’s confused attempts to reconcile homo economicus with a workable concept of the common good can be historicized. Other prominent documents of the recessionary era—the US government’s official Report on the Financial Crisis and Occupy Wall Street’s Declaration among them—manifest the same yearning to restore a vanishing sense of commonwealth.

(11) REVENGE OF THE SON OF THE RETURN OF THE SHADOW CLARKE. Two more shortlists from Shadow Clarke jurors.

One of the things I wanted to do with my shortlist was to explore the idea of the Arthur C. Clarke Award as an institution that challenges the near-monopoly that genre publishing has over not only the field’s annual hype cycle but also over the construction of literary excellence. Traditionally, the Clarke Award has filled this role by smuggling a few choice mainstream titles over the ghetto walls but what if those disruptive tendencies were allowed to manifest themselves more fully? What if the Clarke Award came to represent genre publishing industry’s systematic failure to drive the genre forwards?

In order to come up with a deliberately counter-cultural shortlist, I made several passes through the submissions list in order to rule things out before making more positive choices about the things I wanted to read and write about:

…Second pass: Genre publishing has slowly developed a near-monopoly on the means through which individual works acquire a word-of-mouth buzz. This monopoly is partly a result of publishers and authors developing direct relationships with reviewers and partly a result of critics and reviewers losing influence in the age of Goodreads and Amazon reviews. With most of genre culture’s systems of recommendation skewed in favour of genre imprints and established genre authors, I chose to prioritise works that were either produced outside of conventional genre culture or which have been marginalised by genre publishing and forced towards smaller publishing venues….

…The task of compiling a shortlist is slightly different for the shadow Clarke juror, because there is more scope to set a personal agenda. What do I want my shortlist to be? This question came into sharp focus when I looked at the list of submissions, and realised that I wouldn’t want to shortlist any of the books that I’d already read.

So I have had to fall back on books that I would like to read. On that basis, I decided to orient my shortlist around the idea of discovery, focusing primarily on authors I hadn’t read much before, and taking note of a few strong recommendations from trusted sources….

Mark-kitteh sent the links along with these comments: “I did a spot of tallying up:

  • The Underground Railroad — Colson Whitehead 5
  • Central Station — Lavie Tidhar 4
  • A Field Guide to Reality?— Joanna Kavenna 4
  • The Many Selves of Katherine North?—?Emma Geen 3
  • The Power — Naomi Alderman 3
  • The Gradual?— Christopher Priest 3

“Which conveniently makes a potential shortlist of 6. It’s unlikely to be the final result, but the jurors seem to have more to agree on than to disagree.

“They are followed by another 7 chosen by two jurors, plus 10 singletons with a lone champion. Nick Hubble has the honour of being the only juror with at least one other agreeing with all his choices.”

(12) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

Monopoly Board Games produced after September 2008 come with $20,580 in play money. Standard editions produced before that came with $15,140.

(13) TODAY’S DAY

Today is Dr. Seuss Day, a full twenty-four hours to make a mess with the Cat in the Hat, dance around with the Fox in Sox, hear a Who with Horton, count the red and blue fish, help the Grinch see the error of his ways, and listen to Sam I Am’s friend complain about his dish of green eggs and ham, the ungrateful hairball!

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

(15) EARLY BARR. At Galactic Journey, Victoria Silverwolf has an eye for talent — “[March 1,1962] Hearts and Flowers (April 1962 Fantastic)”:

Appropriately, The April 1962 issue of Fantastic is full of romance, along with the sense of wonder demanded by readers of speculative fiction.

Before we get to the mushy stuff, however, Judith Merril offers us a mysterious look at The Shrine of Temptation.  George Barr’s beautiful cover art appears to have inspired this ambiguous tale of good, evil, and strange rituals.  Barr’s work has appeared in a handful of fanzines for a few years, but I believe this is his first professional publication.  Based on the quality of this painting, I believe the young artist has a fine career ahead of him.

(16) IT’S MERVEILLEUX. At The New York Review of Science Fiction: “Brian Stableford: Madme De Villaneuve and the Origins of the Fantasy Novel”

The first concerted attempt to define and characterize a genre of fantasy fiction was made by Charles-Joseph Mayer between 1785 and 1789 when he published the 41 exemplary volumes of Le Cabinet des fées, ou Collection choisie des contes de fées et autres contes merveilleux [The Cabinet of the Fairies, or, Selected Collection of Fairy Tales and Other Marvelous Tales] in parallel with Charles Garnier’s Voyages imaginaires, songes, visions et romans cabalistiques [Imaginary Voyages, Dreams, Visions, and Cabalistic Fiction]. The latter is now regarded as most significant for the volumes containing imaginary voyages that can be affiliated in retrospect to the nascent genre of roman scientifique [scientific fiction] but, as the full title illustrates, it contains a good deal of material that would nowadays be considered to belong to the fantasy genre, and some of the items, such as Madame Roumier-Robert’s “Les Ondins, conte moral” (1768; tr. as “The Water-Sprites”) would have been perfectly at home in Mayer’s collection. It was, however, Mayer’s assembly that identified the two principal strands of the genre of the merveilleux as the mock folktales that became fashionable in the literary salons of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries in association with the court of Louis XIV and tales written in imitation of Antoine Galland’s collection of Les Mille-et-une nuits (1707–19), which claimed to be translations of Arabian folklore, although many of the inclusions are drastically rewritten from the original manuscripts or wholly invented by Galland.

(17) PULLMAN. In “Paradise regained: ‘His Dark Materials’ is even better than I remembered”, the Financial Times’ Nilanjana Roy uses the forthcoming publication of The Book of Dust to discuss how she read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy ten years ago and how much she enjoyed these books. (The article is behind a paywall; the link is to a Google cache which can be read after taking a survey.)

The first in the trilogy is the most memorably dazzling, a classic quest story where the young Lyra travels to the north, befriending armoured bears and witch-queens. She has a daemon, Pantalaimon — most people in her world do, the daemon being an animal who is the external manifestation of a person’s inner spirit — and that is what I remembered most about the trilogy. When His Dark Materials came out, most of my friends abandoned their dignity and played games of Guess His Daemon? assigning slinking jackals or brown marmorated stink bug daemons to those they didn’t like.

(18) IT PAYS NOT TO BE IGNORANT. BoingBoing tells about the Norwegian news site that makes readers pass a test proving they read the post before commenting on it.

The team at NRKbeta attributes the civil tenor of its comments to a feature it introduced last month. On some stories, potential commenters are now required to answer three basic multiple-choice questions about the article before they’re allowed to post a comment. (For instance, in the digital surveillance story: “What does DGF stand for?”)

(19) THE CULTURE WARS.  Yes, it’s Buzzfeed – perhaps someday you’ll forgive me. “This Far-Right Tweet About ‘The Future That Liberals Want’ Backfired Into A Huge Meme”. A lot of tweets have been gathered in this post – here are three examples, the tweet that started everything, one of the pushback, and a third from the bizarre spinoffs.

(Buzzfeed says the photo was originally posted on @subwaycreatures, where it was used to “showcase the beauty of New York’s diversity.”)

Finally:

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Mark-kitteh for some of these stories. Title inspiration credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Lis Carey.]

Pixel Scroll 2/26/17 That Hideous Scroll

(1) EUROFANDOM. Fandom Rover launched today, a new blog focused on Polish sf conventions.

Hello, I’m Marcin, but my fandom nickname is Alqua. I created this blog to write about conventions and fandom in different countries. I live in Poland, so you will probably find a lot of posts about Polish conventions here, but you can expect some information about European fandom, too, as I try to attend cons in other countries as well.

The first post is “Understanding Polish conventions”

We have a lot of conventions. Depending on what events one will count, they may get numbers reaching even 100 per year. If you will be more picky about what you may call a convention, you will still have around 40 or 60 events every year. This means that there should be at least 1 convention per week (maximum 2 weeks). This is partially true, however, most of the conventions take place around summer months, and winter is much less popular for conrunners. Of course not all of the events are SF conventions – some are devoted to SF/F or to manga & anime, some are big LARPs, some are furry conventions and others are devoted to specific franchises (like Doctor Who or Star Wars).

(2) THE WATER WE SWIM IN. The Washington Post’s Zachary Pincus-Roth, in “Aliens as immigrants: How ‘Arrival’ became the latest political sci-fi film”, interviews Arrival producer Shawn Levy, District 9 screenwriter Terri Tatchell, and Tufts University political scientist Daniel Drezner, author of Theories of International Politics and Zombies, about the role politics plays in science fiction films.

“It’s turned out to be loaded with political commentary,” “Arrival” producer Shawn Levy says of the movie’s reflection of the immigration issue, “something our filmmaking team doesn’t regret, but this was largely unanticipated.”

The film’s political themes were intended to be more timeless. “The movie was always a commentary on a world that is often prone to fracturing,” Levy says. “It invests in the faith that cooperation among nations beyond borders can lead to global benefits.”

(3) GENERAL SEMANTICS AND SF. A panel on “Science Fiction, Language and General Semantics” will be hosted by the New York Society for General Semantics on March 1. Free to the public, but registration is required.

Science fiction has long been associated with spaceships, alien beings, futuristic technologies, and the like. But the genre has also provided an opportunity to speculate about the future of human consciousness, about modes of perception and communication, and about language and symbols.

Not surprisingly, general semantics, as a discipline based on applying a scientific approach to thought and action, has influenced science fiction in a number of ways. Science fiction writers such as A.E. van Vogt, Robert Heinlein, and Frank Herbert were familiar with general semantics and incorporated concepts learned from Alfred Korzybski and S.I. Hayakawa into their novels and short stories. Through them, the influence of general semantics spread to the fiction of Philip K. Dick, and the films of George Lucas. Moreover, novelists William S. Burroughs and L. Ron Hubbard were students of general semantics, while a fictional (and less than flattering) version of the Institute of General Semantics appears in the Jean Luc-Godard film, Alphaville.

More generally, questions concerning language, meaning, and consciousness have been incorporated into science fiction narratives, for example the presence of Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation in The Matrix, references to Julian Jaynes in HBO’s remake of Westworld, and in the problematic nature of translation in stories such as Samuel R. Delaney’s Babel-17, Stanslaw Lem’s His Master’s Voice, and the recent film, Arrival.

Clearly, this is a topic for discussion that is, in many ways, out of this world. so come join us for a panel featuring:

  • Marleen S. Barr, Science Fiction Critic and Novelist
  • Paul Levinson, Past President of the SFFWA and Novelist
  • Lance Strate, NYSGS President and Professor of Communication and Media Studies, Fordham University
  • Ed Tywoniak, Editor of ETC: A Review of General Semantics and Professor of Communication, Saint Mary’s College of California

(4) HOLE IN THEIR POCKETS. Jim C. Hines continues slicing and dicing his data in “2016 Novelist Income Results, Part 5: Miscellaneous Data”.

Who Lost Money in 2016?

One thing I found interesting — of the 371 people who provided gross income and expenses data, 63 ended up with a net loss in 2016. In other words, roughly one out of six published novelists lost money last year.

17 of these identified as full-time writers, with the other 46 being part-time. Looking at the overall number of full- and part-time respondents, the part-time authors were disproportionately more likely to end up in the red.

(5) BEEN THERE. An Apollo 11 Space-Flown U.S. Flag went for $25,623 (including buyer’s premium) in an auction by the Nate D. Sanders firm this week.

(6) USING THE OLD BEAN. Baseball’s Hall of Fame is honoring “Homer at the Bat” and ‘inducting’ Homer Simpson into Cooperstown. Cut4.com has the story.

The Hall will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the episode on May 27 during Hall of Fame Classic Weekend. Festivities will include appearances by Wade Boggs and Ozzie Smith — both of whom guest-starred in the episode — at a discussion featuring members of The Simpsons team who put the episode together.

 

(7) PAXTON OBIT. Actor Bill Paxton died suddenly today due to complications of surgery. He was 61. Although better known for his non-genre performances in Titanic and Twister, his resume is studded with roles in high-profile sf movie and TV productions such as The Terminator, Aliens, Weird Science, Predator 2, Future Shock, Apollo 13 (as astronaut Fred Haise), Mighty Joe Young, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, Thunderbirds, The Colony, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (as John Garrett), and Edge of Tomorrow.

(8) FINGLETON OBIT. Game of Thrones star Neil Fingleton has died at the age of 36. The story in The Guardian says —

Once named as Britain’s tallest man, the 7ft 7in star played Mag the Mighty in the fantasy series and also took on roles in X-Men: First Class and Jupiter Ascending. According to reports, he passed away following heart failure on Saturday.

(9) WAPNER OBIT. Judge Joseph Wapner died February 26 reports the Washington Post. I was going to run this item anyway, but a check of IMDB revealed he actually has a genre credit. Wapner appeared in the pilot episode of Sliders in 1995.

Joseph A. Wapner, a retired California judge whose flinty-folksy style of resolving disputes on the show “The People’s Court” helped spawn an entire genre of courtroom-based reality television with no-nonsense jurists and often clueless litigants, died Feb. 26 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 97….

Within a few years of its debut, the program regularly attracted 20 million viewers. One measure of its success was a Washington Post survey in 1989 that showed that 54 percent of Americans could identify Judge Wapner compared with 9 percent who could name the chief justice of the United States, William H. Rehnquist….

Disputes centered on nonpayment for goods and services, unwise lending of money to shady friends and family members, purchases in which the buyer did not beware and altercations between people and their neighbors’ animals.

(10) TODAY’S DAY

Tell A Fairy Tale Day is all about exploring myths and stories, old and new. From grim(m) tales to urban legends, tap the dark corners of your subconscious.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 26, 1963 — NASA announced that Venus is about 800 degrees F.
  • February 26, 2005 — The Razzies held their 25th annual ceremony at Hollywood’s historic Ivar Theatre. Making a surprise appearance was Halle Berry, an Oscar winner for Best Actress in Monster’s Ball (2001), who showed up to accept that year’s Razzie for Worst Actress for the title role in the poorly received action extravaganza Catwoman.

(12) NEATNESS COUNTS.

(13) PUB QUIZ. The Sci-Fi London Pub Quiz will happen Tuesday, May 2. The Clarke Award’s Tom Hunter explains —

[W]e’re again joining forces with the team at the SCI-FI-LONDON film festival, and we’re aim to celebrate Sir Arthur’s centenary year and raise some money for two excellent causes in the best way we know how, with an EPIC PUB QUIZ.

Tickets are on sale now and already selling well, but we’ve plenty of tables left and we’re looking for teams to compete.

Tickets cost £5 per head (in a team of 6, that’s £30 a table!) and all proceeds go to two amazing charities.

Science Fiction fans, authors, artists, agents, publishers and enthused newbies, we want you all!

GET TICKETS >>

Here are the two great organisations we’re aiming to support with this year’s quiz:

STEMettes, who inspire the next generation of females into Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) fields by showing them the amazing women already in STEM via a series of panel events, hackathons, exhibitions, and mentoring schemes. http://www.stemettes.org

Rebuilding Sri Lanka. The Asian tsunami on the 26th December 2004 killed over 40,000 people in Sri Lanka.Over a million people were left homeless. Thousands were destitute. Rebuilding Sri Lanka has been active since the day of the disaster and continues to provide support, rehabilitation, nutrition, education and shelter to those affected by the disaster. http://www.rebuildingsrilanka.org.uk

(14) LOOKING FOR IDEAS. Black Gate has compiled Rich Horton’s recent blog posts in “Hugo Nomination Thoughts, 2017”, including numerous recommendations in the fan categories which few people discuss.

Best Fan Writer

The first thing I’ll do here is mention myself. I am a fan writer (at least my blog writing and my stuff for Black Gate qualifies, if perhaps not my work for Locus, which I guess is now officially professional). I would note in particular my reviews of old magazines at Black Gate, particularly Amazing and Fantastic in the Cele Goldsmith Lalli era, and my various reviews of Ace Doubles (and other SF) at Strange at Ecbatan (and often linked from Black Gate.) I would be greatly honored if anyone thought my work worthy of a Best Fan Writer nomination.

But of course there are many wonderful fan writers out there. For years I have been nominating Abigail Nussbaum, especially for her blog Asking the Wrong Questions, and I see no reason not to do so again this year. I will note in particular her review of Arrival, which captured beautifully the ways in which the movie falls short of the original story, but still acknowledges the movie’s strengths.

Another fan writer who has attracted my notice with some interesting posts is Camestros Felapton. Some of the most interesting work there regarded (alas) the Puppy Kerfuffles, and I was quite amused by this Map of the Puppy Kerfuffle. But the blog is much more than Puppy commentary – indeed, it’s much more than SF commentary. In the more traditional fanwriting area, I can point to the most recent entry (as I write), a well-done review of Greg Egan’s Diaspora.

Another possibility is Greg Hullender at Rocket Stack Rank. The site is run by Greg along with his partner Eric Wong, and both deserve a lot of credit – I mention Greg in particular because of articles like his analysis of the effect of slate voting on the 2016 Hugos.

One of my favorite fan writers does a lot of his stuff in a place relatively few people see, but he has begun to review Amazing Stories for Galactic Journey. This is John Boston, and his work can be found here. The conceit at Galactic Journey is that magazines from 55 years ago are reviewed, with an attempt to make the reviews reflect only knowledge up to the point of publication of the magazine. (It will be obvious to anyone who reads my stuff at Black Gate that this sort of thing is right up my alley, and in particular that reviews of Amazing from the early ‘60s are of special interest, as I am (in a somewhat less disciplined fashion) trying to look at and write about as many issues of Amazing and Fantastic edited by Cele Goldsmith Lalli as I can.)) A couple of years ago John (along with Damien Broderick) published a series of books reviewing every issue of New Worlds and Science Fantasy from the Carnell era, which gives another look at his credentials as a fan writer.

And finally I think there are a number of people at Black Gate worthy of a look. Too many to mention, perhaps, but one who definitely deserves recognition is the editor, John O’Neill, who also does a great deal of writing for the site.

(15) BACK TO MIDAMERICON II. Melanie Marttila continues her series of posts about programs at MidAmeriCon II with “WorldCon 2016: The dark side of fairy tales”.

Panellists: Ellen Datlow, Brooke Johnson, Erin Wilcox (moderator), Sandee Rodriguez, Dana Cameron

Joined in progress …

DC: Fairy tales are the intersection between the known and the unknown in a way that other stories aren’t.

BJ: Tone is the defining quality. It’s a sense of magic realism or normalized magic. I’m currently reading the Turnip Princess. It’s meant to be read. Oral storytelling. Fairy tales are mythic, grand and meaningful, larger-than-life, and yet the things that happen are everyday occurrences to the characters of the story.

SR: Folk tales have the element of reality. Fairy tales have no sense of history.

DC: Domesticity is addressed in fairy tales….

Find the rest of her series here.

(16) MARTIAN SCIENCE. At NPR, Jacqueline Miller and Thomas Max Roberts discuss “Science Is Cool In ‘The Martian.’ Can It Be Compelling In The Classroom, Too?”

Can learning science be as compelling as applying science is in the movie? Yes. Giving our science students frequent and ongoing opportunities to investigative and problem-solve in the classroom is a start. Students thrive when they are allowed to focus on a problem in depth, apply their learning to real-world situations, and experiment, transferring new knowledge to address a challenge or answer a question.

Reviewers have called “The Martian” a “love letter to science.” It should be required viewing for all middle and high school students, and it should serve as a call to action for improving science education.

How exciting would it be to hear your student, when confronted with a challenge in science, exclaim, “We’re going to have to science the s— out of this!”

(17) FELGERCARB! But in a new edition of The Martian nobody is sciencing the “s—“ out of anything. Bad language has been modified to make the book usable in schools: “Andy Weir’s Best Seller ‘The Martian’ Gets a Classroom-Friendly Makeover”.

After getting dozens of inquiries from teachers, Mr. Weir, who describes himself as “a lifelong space nerd,” asked his publisher, Crown, if they could release a cleaned-up edition of the book.

The novel was pretty easy to amend, by simply replacing the foul language with tamer words like “screwed,” “jerk” and “crap” (Mr. Weir said there were “occasional squabbles” when he tried to lobby the censors to keep some of the less offensive swear words in.) A kid-friendly version came out last year, and it is now being used to help teach science in classrooms around the country.

At Synergy Quantum Academy, a public charter high school in South Los Angeles, students are conducting experiments based on the novel. In physics class, students will build miniature solar-powered cars, and during astronomy next month, they will try to grow potatoes as Watney did, using a chamber modeled on NASA’s Lunar Plant Growth Chamber.

(18) FUTURE SCIENCE. David Winnick looks ahead to technological predictions that haven’t happened yet at Quirk Books.

Penfield Wave Transmitter – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Depression and loneliness can be tough sometimes, even for Rick and Iran Deckard. While most people know Rick from Blade Runner, the famous Ridley Scott film adaption of the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the original Rick Deckard is quite different. Deckard wakes up in the morning and dials in the emotion he wants for the day on his Penfield Wave Transmitter, a device which controls feelings. Unfortunately for Deckard, he and his wife, Iran, have different ideas about how he should be feeling.

As countless speculative fiction works have shown us, controlling emotions almost always gets people into sticky territory (we’re thinking of The Stepford Wives and shuddering). As useful as the Penfield Wave Transmitter could be, maybe it’s best to leave that tech idea on the shelf.

(19) STONE AGE MUSIC. “The Flintstones Variations for Piano Solo” performed by Ilan Rechtman.

(20) SPACE AGE MUSIC. The LA experimental hip-hop group Clipping is suggesting that their sci-fi oriented album Splendor & Misery be submitted for a Hugo:

Even if voters take their subtle hint, Clipping would not be the first group to have a nominated music album. That was Jefferson Starship with Blows Against the Empire (1970). True, not many musical performances have made the Hugo ballot – the most recent was Rachel Bloom’s music video, F*** Me, Ray Bradbury (2010). And I don’t remember any in between.

According to the Wikipedia, Splendor & Misery

…follows the story of a person in outer space referred to as Cargo #2331. The musical instrumentations being a mix of futuristic and classical, tells the story of a slave in the future in outer space.

(21) FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION. George R.R. Martin is also beating a drum for some candidates in “Hugo Thoughts: Best Professional Editor, Long Form”.

JANE JOHNSON

Jane is the editor and publisher of HarperCollins Voyager, one of the leading publishers of SF and fantasy in the United Kingdom. British editors are eligible for the Hugo, just like their American counterparts, but they are NEVER nominated, no matter how great their accomplishments… and that’s bollocks, as the Brits might say. Jane is one of the towering figures in our field across the pond, yet she’s never been recognized, and it is bloody well time that she was.

It would be useful if Martin went back and added the titles of the 2016 books these editors worked on, as this is not a lifetime achievement award.

[Thanks to Rob Thornton, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, JJ, John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 6/9/16 I See All Good Pixels Scroll Their Heads Each Day So Satisfied I’m On My Way

(1) WHAT’S A FEW MILLION BETWEEN GEEKS? Wizard World will be scaling back conventions after posting a $4.25M loss in 2015.

The comic convention franchise Wizard World is scaling back the number of conventions after filing a $4.25 million loss in 2015, according to ICv2. The company, which takes its name from the defunct magazine Wizard, held 25 events in 2015 for a combined revenue of $22.9m, which was less than 2014’s convention revenue of $23.1m despite only hosting 17 shows that year. Looking closer, Wizard World’s 2015 conventions earned on average $916,000 per show, as opposed to $1.36m in the year prior.

Additionally, Wizard World has sold all but 10% ownership of the fledging ConTV to Cinedigm. That venture was a $1.3m loss for WizardWorld in 2015.

WizardWorld has 19 conventions planned in 2016, with one being the new ‘con cruise’ venture.

(2) WISTFUL WATNEY. From The Martian Extended Edition, now on Digital HD, DVD, Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD.

Mark Watney marvels at Earth and contemplates on the reasons for his rescue from Hermes.

 

(3) LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER. Mark Gunnells wrote “A Love Letter to Joe R. Lansdale”.

Some of you may be saying, Who’s that?  And if you are, that makes me sad.  The man’s talents are so immense that he really should be a household name in my opinion.  His books never fail to impress and thrill me, and I’ll give a few reasons why I am such a fan.

One, simplicity.  The man’s language can be so lean and yet convey so much.  He doesn’t have to do a lot of literary acrobatics to get his point across, but can say so much with such economy of words.  It is something I aspire to.

Two, dialogue.  I’m a sticker for good dialogue, and Lansdale knows how to do it.  His characters talk in a way that is witty and fun but also believable and authentic.

Three, darkness of character.  But not just of the villains.  He isn’t afraid to infuse his protagonists with darkness too.  They aren’t all saintly and virtuous, but a mixture of good and bad, just like real people.

Four, diversity.  The man does westerns, mystery, horror, and a great deal of fiction that defies category.  I think that hurts him in some ways, since the industry (and many readers) like writers who are predictable, where they know what they’re getting going in.  That isn’t Lansdale, and I love him for it.  He is also equally adept at short stories, as well as novels and novellas.

(4) ROAD WARRIOR. “Letter From Terry Brooks: The Importance of Touring” at Suvudu.

…Chained to my computer and locked away for 8 to 10 months while writing, you tend to forget what it is you are writing for. You tend to forget how wonderful it feels to hear that your books mean so much to the readers. You forget that it gives you energy and inspiration for your work. But the book events remind you of all this, and they give you an unmistakable desire to go back and do more and to never, ever disappoint your readers by doing something that is less than your best work.

Love the families that come out. Sometimes four or five, all reading the books at once. Love the stories of how people came to read the books in the first place – frequently through another member of the family recommending them. Love the way the stories and characters have impacted people at times in their lives when things seemed a bit bleak. I am reminded of how we all escape into books to flee our own lives now and then, and when we do we inevitably return better able to get on with things. Love all the strange, wild tales of where people were and what they were doing when they read a particular book…..

(5) TWEETAGE OF THE LAMBS. Here’s a little-known fact about Amazon rankings.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 9, 2006 — The animated feature film Cars, produced by Pixar Animation Studios, roars into theaters across the United States.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY DUCK

  • Born June 9, 1934 — Donald Duck made his first screen appearance in “The Wise Little Hen.”

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS AND GIRLS

A time traveler, a pirate and a princess…

  • Born June 9, 1961 — Michael J. Fox
  • Born June 9, 1963  — Johnny Depp
  • Born June 9, 1981 — Natalie Portman

(9) WHITE HOUSE LOOT CRATE IN HEADLINES. The Toronto Globe and Mail reports “Obama gave Trudeau a signed copy of Star Wars script”.

According to ethics disclosures, Justin Trudeau was given a copy of “The Force Awakens” script – the seventh Star Wars movie, released last year – signed by writer/director J.J. Abrams. U.S. President Barack Obama gave Mr. Trudeau (a big fan of the sci-fi franchise) the gift, along with a sculpture, a photograph and toys for the children, during the state visit to Washington in March.

Mr. Trudeau and his family gave the Obamas a sculpture and indigenous clothing.

The personal touch of this particular gift is no doubt a sign of how close the two world leaders are. Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Obama will see each other again at the end of the month, when the President comes to town for the North American Leaders’ Summit in Ottawa on June 29. Mr. Obama is expected to address parliamentarians while he’s in town.

(10) BROOKS FANZINES. The University of Georgia (as reported last month) is displaying Ned Brooks’ fanzines in the Rotunda of the Russell Special Collections Libraries through July. Now there is also a companion online exhibit anchored by George Beahm’s tribute, “To Infinity and Beyond! The Fanzine Collection of Ned Brooks”.

(11) WILLIAMS SCORES AFI AWARD. Tonight John Williams picks up the 44th American Film Institute Life Achievement Award. The ceremony will air on TNT on June 15.

John Williams’ storied career as the composer behind many of the greatest American films and television series of all time boasts over 150 credits across seven decades. Perhaps best known for his enduring collaboration with director Steven Spielberg, his scores are among the most iconic and recognizable in film history, from the edge-of-your-seat JAWS (1975) motif to the emotional swell of E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1982) and the haunting elegies of SCHINDLER’S LIST (1993). Always epic in scale, his music has helped define over half a century of the motion picture medium. Three of Williams’ scores landed on AFI’s 100 Years of Film Scores — a list of the 25 greatest American film scores of all time — including the unforgettable STAR WARS (1977) soundtrack, at number one. With five Academy Award® wins and 49 nominations in total, Williams holds the record for the most Oscar® nominations of any living person.

(12) VAPORTECTURE. “Is a Comic-Con museum headed to Balboa Park?” asks the San Diego Union-Tribune. The answer is: not necessarily.

So far it’s undecided whether such an attraction would simply share space with the Hall of Champions or occupy nearly all of the 68,000-square-foot, memorabilia-filled venue next to the Starlight Bowl.

“I heard they might be interested in doing something, so I made contact and began a conversation, and it’s been going on for awhile,” said Hall of Champions board member Dan Shea. “We have a space that could be considered under-utilized for what we have. Comic-Con is an iconic community group, and we would love to see them stay here, so we thought, wouldn’t it be great to have a museum for them in our hometown. And that’s what we talk about when we get together now and then.”

But no deal has been reached, and it could be some time before a museum even materializes, Shea acknowledged.

“There’s no hurry to move it along,” he said.

Comic-Con International spokesman David Glanzer was equally vague about the prospects for a Balboa Park museum devoted to the popular arts icon, a San Diego presence since 1970. The four-day convention, which now draws more than 130,000 attendees, is contracted to stay in San Diego through 2018.

Asked about what the museum might showcase and how much space it might occupy, Glanzer responded, “We’re still in discussions. I’m sorry but we haven’t gotten that far yet.”

Shea said an announcement about the possibility of a museum was made, in part, to put to rest “silly things we were hearing about what people thought they knew about this.”

(13) SEVENEVES MOVIE MAYBE. “Skydance Reunites ‘Apollo 13’ Team For Neal Stephenson Sci-Fi Novel ‘Seveneves’”Deadline has the story.

EXCLUSIVE: Skydance has set the Apollo 13 team of writer Bill Broyles, director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer for an adaptation of bestselling author Neal Stephenson’s sci-fi novel Seveneves. Grazer and Howard’s Imagine Entertainment is producing the ambitious adaptation.

(14) KRAKEN, NOT STIRRED. Nerdist “Meet the GAME OF THRONES Brittle Star: Ophiohamus Georgemartini”.

The trend of naming new species after pop culture icons is on the rise, and we’re giving the latest addition to the list of nerdy namesakes our stamp of approval. A brittle star, found deep in the South Pacific, has been officially dubbed Ophiohamus georgemartini because of its likeness to the thorny crown found on the cover of book two in the Game of Thrones series, A Clash of Kings….

The George R.R. Martin-friendly specimen was found off the coast of New Caledonia, at a depth of 275 meters (902 ft), but you can find brittle stars in shallow waters as well, and even in rocky tide pools. “Brittle stars live everywhere,” explains the Echinoblog’s Dr. Christopher Mah. “Under rocks, in the mud, on corals, under corals … even on jellyfish. Many of them are tiny, tiny little critters that fit easily into cracks, crevices and nooks in rocks.”

[Thanks to Stephen Burridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bruce Baugh.]

Pixel Scroll 3/10/16 Just Hook The TBR Pile Directly To The Vein

(1) DUALING READERS. Rob Dircks delivered an unexpected bonus to those attending his reading at Queens Library Sci-Fi/Fantasy Author Night – it’s titled “Today I Invented Time Travel”.

I was invited to read from my novel Where the Hell is Tesla? at the Queens Library Sci-Fi/Fantasy Author Night, and decided to write a short story for the evening — when an unexpected visitor showed up…

Here’s a clip from the story:

And my phone found me the top five reasons to go back in time:

  1. Stop George Lucas from making the prequels to Star Wars.
  2. Bet on the 1969 Mets.
  3. Talk to that girl you had a secret crush on in elementary school.
  4. Kill Hitler.
  5. Meet Jesus.

 

(2) TEMPORAL THOUGHT EXPERIMENTS. For writers determined to stick with real science there are a lot of details to work out, even when it’s only your imagination traveling to the future. R. A. MacAvoy, co-author of Albatross with Nancy Palmer, tells about those challenges.

This ingenious 25-year leap into the future turned from wiggle-room into a straight-jacket. It helped with the science, but not so much, as each of us kept coming up with new discoveries on the news that needed massive re-write. The Higg’s Boson companion (if it is what it seems to be). Gravitational waves.

And that was just the science!

Sweating, sweating, we began to consider all the other important changes in life which would go along with the advances in the sciences and which would touch the lives of the characters in the story even more than The Theory of Everything. In twenty-five years, we assumed, would people still be driving around in automobiles? Seemed likely – as this was not a Zombie Apocalypse novel. Petrol cars? Self-driving cars? Re-write. Rewrite.

Mobile phones. On the wrist, as part of one’s glasses? People still doggedly carrying things the size of card-decks in their pockets? Hey – at least a person in a self-driving car won’t be guilty of much as they babble or text into whatever form of phone they have as their cars zoom them to their destination. Or get lost in a daily traffic jam caused by the inevitable software problems.

And in a moment of O.C.D. we decided to eliminate all references to the daily habit of tea-time in the British Isles. It suddenly seemed too difficult to decide whether or not the increasingly technical lives we lead would have time for such an old custom. Eliminating all references to tea time was perhaps the silliest rewrite. But it explains, better than anything else, the straight-jacket effect of writing in the near-future.

This is only one aspect of the difficulty we found in writing twenty-five years into the future.

(3) TROPE CONSERVATION. Peter McLean on “Why We Shouldn’t Hunt The Trope To Extinction” at Black Gate.

The poor old trope had had a lot of bad press in recent years. A lot of people seem to want to deconstruct the little critter, or subvert it or discredit it. Basically people seem to want to hunt the trope to extinction, and I think that’s unfortunate.

Now I agree some members of the trope herd have got a bit long in the tooth and are probably due for culling. No one really needs to read another fantasy novel where a simple farmboy turns out to be the Chosen One / Long Lost Heir who is foretold by prophecy and destined to save the world, do they? No, so the “Farmboy” trope is probably due to meet the huntsman, and I think the “Damsel in Distress” has probably had her day too.

You very rarely if ever see these tropes in modern fantasy now, and that’s because everyone got sick of them. An overused trope can eventually outstay its welcome and evolve into a cliché, a completely different critter, and that’s when the huntsmen need to come after it. And that’s fine. The world moves on, as Stephen King would say.

But I don’t think we should tar the whole herd of tropes with the same brush just because some of them get old and go bad. Healthy tropes can be useful little critters. Tropes are what help to stop every novel being 1000 pages long.

(4) A SCALZI FIRST. “On The Wall,” John Scalzi’s first zombie story, co-written with Dave Klecha, appears in Black Tide Rising, the zombie apocalypse anthology edited by John Ringo and Gary Poole. The book is due in stores June 7, however, Baen Books has the eARC on sale right now For $15.

(5) ATTEND ZOMBIE TECH. Amazon is hosting a Zombie Apocalypse Workshop, where you can learn to apply Amazon Web Services technology to recover from the end of civilization. Bring your own laptop and shotgun.

Apocalypse Workshop: Building Serverless Microservices – Washington D.C.

Note: The AWS Lambda Signal Corps has recruited sufficient volunteers for our mission, and all registrants from now until March 10th will be placed on a recruit waitlist. Waitlisted recruits will be admitted if space permits on a first-come, first-serve basis so please arrive early.

Scenario: Zombies have taken over major metropolitan areas. The AWS Lambda Signal Corps has built a communications system to connect the remaining survivors.

Learn how AWS Lambda provides a platform for building event-driven microservices, all without the need to provision, manage, and scale servers. In this workshop, we will introduce the basics of building serverless microservices using AWS Lambda, Amazon API Gateway, Amazon DynamoDB, and Amazon S3.

(6) CAN ALTERNATE HISTORY BECOME DATED? Fantasy Literature reviewer Marion Deeds, in 1632: The tale is dated but I love its exuberance”,  makes it hard to figure out why there are (by her count) 23 books in this popular series. (And she may not know about the 1632 conventions…)

Flint lets us know in the prologue of 1632 that there’s going to be no discussion of quantum physics, magical portals, of clicking our heels together and going home. The story is an exciting live-action role-playing game with a small force of Americans who completely outgun the competition. The competition are evil mercenaries, so we don’t have to feel sorry for them as they are chopped down like a summer lawn under the blades of a riding mower.

There are also a few other things that are not going to be problems for twentieth-century people dumped into the seventeenth century. Here’s a short list: no one’s going to struggle with a sense of psychic displacement or post-traumatic stress; no one’s going to pine for family or loved ones left behind; no one’s going to question the basic premise that they are stuck in the 1630s. No one is going to turn, irrationally, on another group; no one is going to scapegoat anyone; no one’s going to have a spiritual crisis.

A few more things no one in the new America is going to have to worry about: sufficient food, clean water, sanitation, electrical power, medicine, radios or even TV, except they do have to create their own programming. That’s because all that stuff came with them. They have their own coal vein, and Grantsville landed next to a river in Europe, so they have water and fuel for steam power. The area had its own power plant and three machine shops, several doctors and a jewelry store, so that as the various couples hook up, they can all get wedding-ring sets. It’s nice. Knowing they can’t maintain their current level of technology for too long, the Americans decide to “gear down,” and convert to steam power, settling at late-eighteenth/early nineteenth century tech. This is smart. All of this clears away survival-level problems so that Flint can get on with what’s important; those battles.

(7) RICHARD DAVALOS OBIT. Best known for roles in East of Eden and Cool Hand Luke, actor Richard Davalos died March 8 at the age of 85. He also was in genre films The Cabinet of Caligari (1962) and Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983). And he was the grandfather of actress Alexa Davalos, who stars in Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle.

(8) MICHAEL WHITE OBIT. Rocky Horror and Monty Python producer Michael White died March 9.

His theatre production credits included the West End premieres of The Rocky Horror Show, Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and A Chorus Line.

Born in Glasgow, White began his theatrical career in London’s West End producing plays such as Annie and The Rocky Horror Show.

He later went on to produce films, including The Hound of the Baskervilles in 1978, and those which have achieved cult status such as Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which is still regularly screened in cinemas.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 10, 1876 — Alexander Graham Bell transmitted the first telephone message to his assistant in the next room: “Mr. Watson, come here. I want you.” (It is not true that the second telephone message was, “Do you have Prince Albert in a can…?”)
  • March 10, 1997 — The CW premiered Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There is an oral tradition that Buffy inspired the creation of the Best Dramatic Presentation (Short) Hugo category, and it did receive a couple of nominations before it went off the air.

(10) RABID PUPPIES. After a brief hiatus, Vox Day resumed announcing his slate with “Rabid Puppies 2016: Best Novelette”.

The preliminary recommendations for the Best Novelette category.

  • “Flashpoint: Titan”, Kai Wai Cheah
  • “Folding Beijing”, Hao Jingfang
  • “What Price Humanity?”, David VanDyke
  • “Space Raptor Butt Invasion”, Chuck Tingle
  • “Obits”, Stephen King

We have been repeatedly informed that homophobia and the lack of diversity is a serious problem in science fiction, and speaking as the leader of Rabid Puppies, I could not agree more. The decades of discrimination against gay dinosaur love in space by the science fiction community stops now, and it stops here!

Let’s face it, there are just three words to describe the only event that might happen in 2016 that I can imagine would be more spectacularly awesome than “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” winning a Hugo Award this year, and those three words are “President-elect Donald Trump”.

(11) HUGO LOVE. Joe Sherry at Nerds of a Feather: “My Favorite Stories Don’t Get Nominated: A Hugo Love Story”.

I love the Hugo Awards because in becoming part of the WSFS I get to add one small voice to the multitude and help pick the nominees for the five best novels / stories / whatevers. In 2014, artist Joey Hi-Fi was one nominating vote from making the final ballot for Best Professional Artist and becoming an official Hugo Award Nominee….

Collectively, a bunch of people who love science fiction and fantasy come together and say that these, these novels and stories and artists and fans – this is the best of what I read and watched last year. These are some of the best of what the genre has produced.

Then, when the nominations come out and also after the awards are given, we can all sit back and think…what the hell is everyone else thinking? Why are they so wrong? That book is terrible and this book that I loved is so much better.

Of course my opinions are right and everyone else is wrong. Of course this is true. Unfortunately, a whole bunch of people who are just like me except that their taste in great fiction isn’t quite the same disagreed. Or, maybe what I loved was their sixth favorite story and they can only nominate five. Or maybe they just never read it because holy crap there is a lot of stuff published every year. I read a LOT and I don’t even scratch the surface of what’s out there. What the Hugo Awards allows me to do is be part of a group where everyone looks at what they read and tries to figure out what the best of that is – and then collectively, the numbers come together and a ballot is produced.

I love the Hugo Awards even when everyone else obviously gets it wrong because at its heart, the Hugo Award nominees are selected by a group of fans who are passionate about science fiction and fantasy. It’s a group of fans who, ideally with no agenda beyond love of genre, point to something they love and say “this, this is awesome.”

(12) LOOSELY WRAPPED. Kate Paulk has a small update on what Puppies can expect at MidAmeriCon II at Mad Genius Club.

Planning for the Puppy Presence at Worldcon continues under wraps until we have things sufficiently stable to make an announcement. The goal there is to be at the convention, have fun (lots of fun), and meet friends face to face. If I can arrange it there will be a PuppyGate in honor of the Jeopardy question and visitors will have to cross the PuppyGate to enter the fun zone.

(13) TRUTH, JUSTICE, AND THAT OTHER THING. Attorney-at-Work blogger Jared Correia finds an excuse to write about a favorite show – “The Truth Is in Here: Lawyer Lessons Buried in ‘The X-Files’”:

The point is that Duchovny did not again discover wide popularity until he made it back to TV, for his turn as debauched author Hank Moody, on Showtime’s “Californication.” Now “Californication” has wrapped, and he’s back on “The X-Files.” Accepting that Mulder was the best role that he’s had, and coming back around to it, feeling at home in it, is the best end for his story.

Sometimes, you can take the circuitous route back to where you belong — but, there’s something to be said for recognizing that you should never have left in the first place.

I don’t think Jared Correia is any relation to Larry, although the click-through ad over Jared’s column “The way attorneys get paid” is very Larry-esque.

(14) GREEN PLANET. CBBC answers the question “Could vegetables grow on Mars?”

The team wanted to find out what could we grown if humans try to live on Mars in the future.

Although they didn’t have real Martian soil, they used dirt supplied by Nasa, which was taken from a Hawaiian volcano that’s thought to be very similar….

But there’s still a long way to go – no one ate the experimental vegetables, because substances in the soil including arsenic and mercury might have made them poisonous.

Now the team are trying to find a way to grow vegetables that are safe to eat.

Wait a minute. So there would have been arsenic in Watney’s potatoes…?

(15) MAD SNACKS. An aeropress is a thing for making coffee. The 2016 Australian AeroPress Championship will be held March 17 —

Australian Aeropress poster COMP

On the night, Australia’s best brewers will be stirring, steeping and pressing coffee generously supplied by Condesa and roasted by the punks at PMC.

Inspired by the Thunderdome of Mad Max, there’ll be beers, industrial disco balls, heaps of food (unlike the Thunderdome), a DJ in full Mad Max dress (not conformed) and, no doubt, some crazy revellers (confirmed), but weirdly the original Mad Max, Mel Gibson, declined the offer to MC.

(16) PUPPY IN ORBIT. Galactic Journey’s time traveler has the latest (really late) space program news in “[Mar. 10, 1961] Dog and Puppy Show (Sputnik 9)”.

We are definitely not far away from a person in space.  The Soviets launched another of their five-ton spaceships into orbit.  We’re calling it Sputnik 9; who knows what they call it?  On board was just one dog this time, name of Chernushka, who was recovered successfully after an unknown number of orbits.  It is pretty clear that the vessel that carried Chernushka is the equivalent of our Mercury capsule, and once the Russians have gotten the bugs out of the ship, you can bet there will be a human at the controls.

This is not to say that the American program is standing still—one of our astronauts may go up on a suborbital jaunt as early as next month.  But the Atlas booster, the big one that can put a man in orbit, won’t be ready until the end of the year, at the earliest.

(17) A WRITER WHO WELDS. No, it’s not the Emergency Backup Hugo – it’s Nancy Jane Moore’s “Post-Apocalyptic Spaceship”, at Book View Café .

(18) THE ROCKET’S BLUE GLARE. The New York Times has a story on Amazon owner Jeff Bezos’ private space program — “Jeff Bezos Lifts Veil on His Rocket Company, Blue Origin”.

Blue Origin is part of a shift of the space business from NASA and aerospace behemoths like Lockheed Martin toward private industry, especially smaller entrepreneurial companies. Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, founded by another Internet entrepreneur, Elon Musk, has been the most visible and most successful of the new generation of rocket companies. Last Friday, it launched another satellite to orbit, but an attempt to land the booster on a floating platform again ended in an explosion.

Much more quietly, Blue Origin has also had big space dreams, but until now did not give outsiders a look at what it was doing.

For almost four hours, Mr. Bezos, who only occasionally talks to the press, led 11 reporters on a tour of the factory and answered a litany of questions over lunch. He talked garrulously, his speech punctured by loud laughs. “It’s my total pleasure. I hope you can sense that I like this,” he said.

He described an image on a wall in the company’s central area, which showed two tortoises holding an hourglass and gazing upward at a stylized image of the planets and cosmos. Below is Blue Origin’s motto: “Gradatim ferociter,” Latin for “step by step, ferociously” — no cutting of corners, but no dillydallying, either. “You can do the steps quickly, but you can’t skip any steps,” Mr. Bezos said.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Rambo, Cat Eldridge, Mark-kitteh, Seth Gordon, Will R., and Tom Galloway for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day RedWombat.]

Pixel Scroll 2/24/16 Happy Jack Wasn’t Tall But He Was A Scroll

(1) PAID REVIEW WORTH IT? Jeb Kinnison evaluates Kirkus Reviews’ reception of sf.

So I was leery of spending my publisher’s money to get a Kirkus review done. The review was glowing, but without the coveted star that tends to get notice from other reviewers and purchasing agents. I was interested in how they had treated other genre books, so I did a quick survey.

It appears that in the past, Kirkus assigned reviewers who were less than sympathetic to the book’s genre and intended audience. This review [of GHOST by John Ringo] made me laugh: …

But other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln? This is Ringo. His books aren’t likely to be accidentally purchased by people like the reviewer, so the review is useless for deciding which violent testosterone-infused male fantasy adventure book to buy for people who enjoy that sort of thing.

One of the best writers of science fiction and fantasy, Lois McMasters Bujold, never got a starred review from Kirkus. Here’s the summary of their review of middle Miles Vorkosigan in Mirror Dance: “A well-conceived series, solidly plotted and organized, though heavy going in places and, finally, lacking that spark of genuine originality that would blazon it as truly special.” Kind of missing the point, no?

(2) DOCTOR WHO PUN OPPORTUNITY. We ought to be able to do something with a character who is married to River, and whose series will be hstreamed on Amazon Prime beginning in March.

Welp, it wasn’t the longest of national nightmares, but now it appears it is over. Last week, I wrote about how and where you could watch Doctor Who following its abrupt pulling from streaming services on February 1 of this year. But it wasn’t to last, it seems; Amazon announced today via their Twitter that Series 1-8 of the show will be back on their Prime streaming service beginning in March.

(3) WHEN DID YOU FIRST SUSPECT? I got a kick out of Sarah A. Hoyt’s “Ten Signs That You Might Be A Novel’s Character” at Mad Genius Club. Number 10 and the Bonus sign are especially funny.

1- Nothing is ever easy, nor simple.  Say you are walking across the street to get a gallon of milk.  A rare make of car will almost run you down.  The store that sells the milk will be out of milk. You’ll have to walk across the most dangerous area of town to get to the next store.

This means someone is making you terminally interesting….

(4) FROM REJECTION TO ANGRY ROBOT. Peter Tieryas details “My Experience Publishing With Angry Robot” at Fantasy-Faction.

My journey to being a writer almost never happened. With my new book, United States of Japan, coming out, I wanted to reflect on how I got here and what it’s been like working with the fantastic Angry Robot Books.

Perfect Edge

Back in 2009, almost seven years before I joined the robot army, I’d gotten so many short story rejections, I wondered if I was even meant to be a writer. While I’d had a series of short stories published when I was younger, there’d been a gap of about five years where I’d only gotten one piece accepted. I was devastated when I received that issue and found all sorts of typos and formatting errors in my story. What I thought would be a brief moment of victory had been ruined…..

As the decision to publish was made by the whole of Angry Robot and Watkins Media staff, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. It took USJ about four months to get to “acquisitions” which is the meeting where they make their choice to “acquire” or not. I got an email from Phil the week of the acquisition meeting telling me when it was going to happen. I could not sleep the night before and kept on hitting refresh on my emails, awaiting final word. The notification came from Phil on March 5, 2015 with a simple subject line: “You’re in.” Even though it was late, I got up and started dancing in what might be better described as an awkward fumbling of my hips.

(5) HOLLYWOOD READIES SF/F MOVIES. News of three different sf/f film projects appears in Deadline’s story “Ava DuVernay Set To Direct Disney’s ‘A Wrinkle In Time’; Script By ‘Frozen’s Jennifer Lee”.

EXCLUSIVE: Selma director Ava DuVernay has just been set by Disney to direct A Wrinkle In Time, an adaptation of the 1963 Newbery Medal-winning Madeleine L’Engle fantasy classic novel that has a script by Oscar-winning Frozen writer and co-director Jennifer Lee. Deadline revealed February 8 that DuVernay had been offered this film and was also in the mix at DreamWorks for Intelligent Life, a sci-fi thriller scripted by Colin Trevorrow and his Jurassic World collaborator Derek Connolly. DuVernay now has the offer on that film and is in negotiations on a pic that has 12 Years A Slave Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o attached to a fable about a UN worker in a department designed to represent mankind if there was ever contact with aliens, who falls for a mystery woman who turns out to be one. That film is produced by Frank Marshall, Trevorrow and Big Beach principals Peter Saraf and Marc Turtletaub.

(6) TRUST & SAFETY. Here’s Twitter’s announcement of the Trust & Safety Council in case you want more info, tweeted February 9. It lists all the members of the Council. (Somebody may have put that in a comment here already.)

As we develop products, policies, and programs, our Trust & Safety Council will help us tap into the expertise and input of organizations at the intersection of these issues more efficiently and quickly. In developing the Council, we are taking a global and inclusive approach so that we can hear a diversity of voices from organizations including:

  • Safety advocates, academics, and researchers focused on minors, media literacy, digital citizenship, and efforts around greater compassion and empathy on the Internet;
  • Grassroots advocacy organizations that rely on Twitter to build movements and momentum;
  • Community groups with an acute need to prevent abuse, harassment, and bullying, as well as mental health and suicide prevention.

We have more than 40 organizations and experts from 13 regions joining as inaugural members of the Council. We are thrilled to work with these organizations to ensure that we are enabling everyone, everywhere to express themselves with confidence on Twitter.

(7) AXANAR SUIT DEVELOPMENT. Inverse discusses why “Paramount Must Explain ‘Star Trek’ in Court or Lose Ownership”.

Enter the lawyers. Obviously, they can claim to own Star Trek because they acquired the series from Lucille Ball’s Desilu Productions in the late 1960s. Now they’ve been merged with CBS and that’s how we’re getting both a new TV series and a continuing film franchise. But the Axanar team has a card up its sleeve.

The Paramount lawsuit claims that this infringes upon “thousands of copyrights” and the Axanar team has asked the simple question: “Which ones?” Because Star Trek now exists over several different universes, time periods, and casts, it’s not so simple. The universe is so spread out, it is almost impossible to define what Star Trek actually is. To that end, the burden is on Paramount to explain what Star Trek is — in a legal sense.

(8) CLIFF AMOS OBIT. Louisville fan Cliff Amos passed away February 22 after a long battle with heart disease. Bob Roehm wrote a fine appreciation on Facebook:

Louisville fan Cliff Amos passed away February 22. Cliff was the founder of Louisville fandom, creating both the Falls of the Ohio Science Fiction Association (FoSFA) and RiverCon. I first met Cliff around 1970 while he was teaching a free university course in SF at the University of Louisville. We had both separately attended the St. Louis worldcon the year before, but had not met. Seeing an announcement of the Free U. meeting, I began attending the weekly gatherings. A year… or two later, the local fan club was organized and in 1975 Cliff chaired the first RiverCon (combined with DeepSouthCon that year). Cliff continued to head RiverCons for several years and was a regular at Midwestcon and Kubla Khan. He was given the Southern Fandon Confederation Rebel Award in 1979, and also chaired the second NASFiC, NorthAmeriCon, that year. His interests were certainly wide-ranging and eclectic (for example, he once appeared on Tom Snyder’s late night talk show as warlock Solomon Weir), and he will be missed by his many friends both within and without the science fiction community. There will no funeral service or visitation but a memorial wake is being arranged for the near future (probably this coming Sunday); details forthcoming.

(9) GAMBLE OBIT. Australian childrens’ book artist Kim Gamble passed away February 19 at the age of 63.

Tashi cover

The much-loved, award-winning artist is known for illustrating the best-selling Tashi books, written by mother and daughter authors Barbara and Anna Fienberg.

Gamble created the lively, elfin boy with the towering curl of hair and gypsy earrings, who looked nothing like the authors initially imagined, more than 20 years ago….

Anna Fienberg called Gamble’s imagination “a magic gift which he shared with the world”….

“Working with Kim was like learning a new way to see. It was perhaps the magical appearance of Tashi that inspired us to go deeper into the mythical land of dragons, witches, giants, ogres … the world lying beneath.”

…Gamble’s favourite book as a child was Moominsummer Madness, by Finnish writer Tove Jansson, and artists he admired included Marc Chagall and Odilon Redon.

When asked about the success of the Tashi series, Gamble said, “It’s very popular because he’s the smallest kid in the class and in every story he’s up against the odds … and he uses his head, he doesn’t fight to get out of the problem. I think kids really just enjoy how cleverness beats brawn.”

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born February 24, 1786 — Wilhelm Grimm, historian and, with his brother Jacob, compiler of Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
  • Born February 24, 1947 — Edward James Olmos

(11) MORE MARK OSHIRO COMMENTARY. Mark Oshiro updated his Facebook readers about the response to his complaint about sexual harassment at ConQuesT.

3) MidAmeriCon II was the first to make a public statement, which you can find on their Twitter account. I wasn’t expecting a response from them, so I appreciated a very direct message about their commitment to safety for this year’s WorldCon. I *am* going to be at WorldCon, even if some of the people who were responsible at ConQuesT are on staff/the board. WorldCon has become a tradition for me because it was my first introduction to this community, so I will be there and be on programming. Say hello if you like!

4) Chris Gerrib was the first to apologize to me, and I appreciated and accepted the apology. I respect that he did so without being asked to.

5) Yesterday, Kristina Hiner sent me an apology. I am keeping it private because I see no reason to publish it. It is a *very* good apology, and I accepted it, too. I am very thankful for her response, and more so than anyone else, she was the only person I really *wanted* an apology from. I have also informed her that at this point, I actually don’t need each of the complaints followed up on at this point. It seems redundant to me. Everyone knows about the post now, and I don’t need an apology from anyone else. I just wanted someone to inform these people that their behavior was unwelcoming, rude, or hostile. I’ve now done that, so I think the board and ConQuesT can devote time and energy to future conventions instead of last year’s.

Mikki Kendall used the discussion about Oshiro to launch her post “On Bad Cons & How You Kill An Event in Advance”.

I get invited to a lot of cons that have a diversity problem. I also get a lot of requests from cons that claim to want to create anti harassment policies. Aside from my feelings on an expectation that I donate hours of work to strangers for events I have no interest in attending, there’s the sad reality that many small cons are so entrenched on reinventing the wheel they’ve missed the window to do better. Younger fans, fans of color, disabled fans…they don’t have to keep going to cons that aren’t welcoming to be able to connect with other fans. They can go to the big commercial cons, to the smaller cons that do get it & to social media for their community needs. So no, they won’t keep giving cons with bad reps chance after chance. They won’t be patient with serial offenders or the places that enable them. Why should they donate that time & energy to some place that doesn’t want them, that thinks they deserve to be hazed, deserve to be mistreated in order to prove something to bigots?

Bluntly? Most small cons will age out of existence because of bad behavior, because of a focus on the past that prioritizes the social mores of the dead over the actual experiences of the living.

(12) THE LIGHT’S BACK ON. The Wertzone says Pacific Rim 2 re-greenlit for 2018”.

It was on, off and now back on again. Universal and Legendary Pictures are moving ahead with Pacific Rim 2, probably for a 2018 release date….

This has unfortunately meant that Guillermo Del Toro will be unable to return to direct, having already moved on to other projects. However, Del Toro will still co-write (with Jon Spaihts) and produce the movie. The new director is Steven S. DeKnight, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer veteran who went on to create Spartacus and is currently working on Netflix’s Daredevil. The film will be DeKnight’s directorial debut.

(13) THIS COULD RUIN ANDY WEIR’S SEQUEL. This video argues we can reach relativistic speeds using new technologies.

Imagine getting to Mars in just 3 days… or putting points beyond our solar system within our reach. New propulsion technologies could one day take us to these cosmic destinations making space travel truly interstellar! NASA 360 joins Professor Philip Lubin, University of California Santa Barbara, as he discusses his NASA Innovative Advanced Concept (NIAC) for energy propulsion for interstellar exploration.

 

(14) ADMIT IT, YOU DO. Motherboard asks, “Why Do We Feel So Bad When Boston Dynamics’ New Robot Falls Down?”

Even though all the things the engineers do to mess with the robot are done to showcase its ability to correct itself, recover from falls, and persevere in performing tasks, the human tendency to anthropomorphize non-sentient objects is so strong as to override our common-sense knowledge that Atlas is an object incapable of feeling. Engineers commonly kick robots to demonstrate their ability to recover, and it always feels a tiny bit cruel. It’s a strange quirk of the brain—though the tendency is stronger in some people than in others.

(15) A LONG TIME AGO IN DOG YEARS. Some Sad Puppies writing on Facebook are grieved that I have not excerpted Stephanie S.’ “Opening a Moderate Conversation on Fandom with ‘Standback’” atThe Right Geek.

Let’s talk first about what I like to call the “pre-history” of the Sad Puppies. For the past fifteen years (at least), the character of fandom has shifted in a way that many Puppies find very troubling — and by the way, for the vast majority of our number, this has nothing to do with race, gender, or sexuality. A significant number of us are women who accept the precepts of first wave feminism at the very least. A number of us are “people of color.” And a number of us are gay or, at minimum, amenable to leaving gay people alone to live their lives as they see fit. No — what has disturbed the Puppies is the increasingly strident tone that many fans have adopted in support of their favored cultural and political causes. In our perception, the vague “codes of conduct,” the “shit lists,” the pilings on, the endless internet flame-wars, and the non-falsifiable accusations of racism/sexism/homophobia/etc. have all created an environment that is extraordinarily hostile to points of view that don’t hew to a particular left-wing party line. The result? We’ve felt unwelcome and stomped on for what, to our mind, should be recognized as sincere and well-meant differences of opinion.

Over the same time frame, the Puppies have also become concerned about the artistic direction of our field. The “Human Wave” movement, the “Superversive” movement, and the more generalized complaints about “message fic” and “grey goo” that started gaining steam before last year’s Sad Puppies campaign are all flailing attempts by the Puppies to describe the flatness we’ve perceived in many recent award winners — particularly in the shorter fiction categories, where the stylistic sophistication and emotional catharsis beloved by creative writing professors and MFA programs the world over appear to be crowding out more accessible stories with identifiable plots and recognizably science-fictional ideas.

(16) EDIT AND GET CREDIT. Michael J. Martinez singles out for praise and award consideration five editors who worked on his fiction in 2015.

Yes, these are editors I’ve worked with. Each one of them has contributed both to the quality of my work as well as my ever-ongoing education as a writer. They are also lovely humans, which goes a very long way with me.

(17) ANY SUFFICIENTLY ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY. Radio Times found a very funny site: “Someone is pretending to be the IT guy at Hogwarts and it’s hilarious”.

Let’s be honest: magic is great and everything, but if Hogwarts didn’t have WiFi, we probably wouldn’t be so interested.

A Tumblr account called The Setup Wizard took this premise and ran with it. The blog is the fictionalised account of an American muggle named Jonathan Dart working as Hogwarts’ first IT guy. The somewhat grumpy character is constantly solving problems and handling the struggles of being a Muggle in a magic world.

How is it that the first person in this school I’ve successfully been able to explain network bandwidth to is the 500 year old partially decapitated ghost?

Today I taught a centaur how to use a hands free Bluetooth headset. Apparently he really felt the need to make phone calls while wielding a bow and arrow.

[Thanks to Will R., Michael J. Walsh, Reed Andrus, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 2/10/16 They Hive

(1) QUINN FEATURES IN MAINSTREAM NEWS. Jameson Quinn is quoted several times in “Your ballot has matrix algebra lurking in the background” at the Concord Monitor.

Mathematically speaking, “one man, one vote” sounds about as exciting as “1 = 1.” Yet it turns out that something so simple can produce a Nobel Prize in economics, not to mention a slew of graduate school statistics homework.

“Our class spent three weeks just on Arrow’s Theorem, looking at it from different angles,” said Jameson Quinn, a Ph.D. candidate in statistics from Harvard who showed up in Concord last week to testify before the House Elections Committee in favor of a bill allowing something called approval voting.

Arrow’s Theorem, key to the aforementioned Nobel prize, is to social choice theory what E=MC2 is to physics. It is usually described as saying that all voting systems are imperfect, a synopsis which misses lots of nuance and isn’t all that helpful to laymen, because most of us don’t even known that other systems exist.

(2) EDELMAN’S NEW PODCAST. Scott Edelman has started an SF-related podcast, Eating the Fantastic.

Are you ready to have lunch with me and writer/musician Sarah Pinsker? Because the first episode of Eating the Fantastic is now live!

 

Scott Edelman and Sarah Pinsker

Scott Edelman and Sarah Pinsker

Food, friends, and clanking dishes in the background reproduce the atmosphere where so many great fan conversations take place. Edelman writes:

I’ve found that while the con which takes place within the walls of a hotel or convention center is always fun, the con away from the con—which takes place when I wander off-site with friends for a meal—can often be more fun. In fact, my love of tracking down good food while traveling the world attending conventions has apparently become so well known that Jamie Todd Rubin once dubbed me “science fiction’s Anthony Bourdain.”

…During each semi-regular episode (I’ve yet to determine a frequency), I’ll share a meal with someone whose opinions I think you’ll want to hear, and we’ll talk about science fiction, fantasy, horror, writing, comics, movies, fandom … whatever happens to come to mind. (There’ll also be food talk, of course.)

One thing to note—this will not be a pristine studio-recorded podcast, but one which will always occur in a restaurant setting, meaning that mixed in with our conversation will be the sounds of eating and drinking and reviewing of menus and slurping and background chatter … in other words … life.

(3) PKD AWARD. The five Philip K. Dick Award judges for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original format in the United States in the 2016 award year are Michael Armstrong, Brenda Clough, Meg Elison, Lee Konstantinou, and Ben Winters.

(4) CASSANDRA CLARE SUED. “Copyright Clash Over Demon-Fighting Stories” at Courthouse News Service has the scoop.

Sherrilyn Kenyon says she started the “Dark-Hunter” series in 1998. The story “follows an immortal cadre of warriors who fight to protect mankind from creatures and demons who prey on humans,” according to court records.

On Friday, Kenyon sued Cassandra Clare aka Judith Rumelt aka Judith Lewis, claiming her “Shadowhunter” series initially used Kenyon’s trademark “darkhunter.”

After Kenyon demanded that Clare remove the word “darkhunter” from her work, Clare used the term “shadowhunter” for her protagonists instead, according to the lawsuit. The word “hunter” was also removed from the book title.

Clare’s book, “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” was published in 2007. Since then, Clare has expanded her use of the term “shadowhunter” despite assurances that she would not, according to Kenyon.

Clare’s 2007 book was made into a movie and released in 2013, the lawsuit states. In 2014, it was reportedly announced that “Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” would be adapted into a television series called “Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments.”

Kenyon says ABC Family picked up Clare’s TV pilot in March 2015. The first episode of the “Shadowhunters” TV show premiered on Jan. 12 of this year, according to IMDB.

The “Dark-Hunter” author also claims Clare has used symbols and merchandise that are confusingly similar to Kenyon’s.

“Comparing the Dark-Hunter series to Clare’s work or works, the literary components are fictional and, in many respects, the elements are virtually identical,” Kenyon’s Feb. 5 lawsuit states. “These substantially similar elements, coupled with defendant’s access to the Dark-Hunter series, which were widely disseminated, leave little doubt that numerous substantive original elements of the Dark-Hunter series have been copied by defendant.”

(5) AB INITIO. Sarah A. Hoyt begins a column for Mad Genius Club about the preceding news story, “There Is Nothing New Under The Sun”, with these words —

So, this morning (yes, I crashed early yesterday) I was sent this article NEWS: Sherrilyn Kenyon sues Cassandra Clare over infringement claims by Amanda S. Green.  It’s amazing.  And by that I mean, I was amazed anyone is giving this so called “plagearism” any credence.

Now, I haven’t read the complaint, so perhaps there is more to it, and the complaint is more substantial. …

We’ll stop here and wait til she reads the complaint…

(6) GRRM’S EDITOR RATIONALE. George R.R. Martin had some feedback for File 770 commenters about the Best Editor (Long Form) category, but he also queried some of the editors he recommended about “What They Edited” in 2015.

My observations about the Best Editor (Long Form) Hugo, which you can read in full several posts down, have drawn some comments here and on FILE 770 from fans who object to my suggestion that this category has become a de facto lifetime achievement award, at least since David G. Hartwell set an example by withdrawing from future consideration after his third win.

The objections seem to take the form of stating emphatically that Best Editor (Long Form) is NOT a lifetime achievement award, it’s not, it’s not, it’s just NOT.

And quite right they are. According to the rules, that is. According to the rules, the award is only supposed to be for the previous year’s editing.

Which is great in theory, and completely wrong in fact. Maybe those who are objecting vote on that basis, but if so, they are a very tiny minority….

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 10, 1957 – Roger Corman’s Not Of This Earth premiered.

Not of this Earth poster

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born February 10, 1906 – Lon Chaney, Jr.

(9) A PEEK AT PIXAR. “Pixar and Khan Academy Release Free Online Course for Aspiring Animators”, from Makezine [via Chaos Manor.]

Up there with being an astronaut, comic book artist, or the President, there’s one job that your average kid would probably love to snag: Working at Pixar. Animation and Pixar enthusiasts of all ages, take note! Pixar in A Box (or PIAB) is a collaboration between Khan Academy and Pixar Animation Studios that focuses on real-Pixar-world applications of concepts you might usually encounter in the classroom. The latest batch of Pixar in a Box, released today, gives Makers a rare peek under the hood so that you can get a whiff of the warm engine that keeps those Pixar pistons pumping. There’s no need to register for the course, nor a requirement to watch the lessons in order — just head to their site and start exploring!

(10) BRING HIM HOME. Here’s a review of an app game — “The Martian: Communicate with Astronaut Mark Watney in real time while helping him return to Earth”.

In The Martian, you’ll experience the plight of astronaut Mark Watney, only in this strategy game you’re his only hope for survival. You play one of a NASA communications specialist that is communicating with Mark in real time via text-based messages. You’re his only contact on Earth, and all that stands between him and a return to our world, or certain death.

themartian

(11) MAD TEA. Links to all kinds of interesting Alice In Wonderland-themed merchandise in this post at The Snug.

Bonkers pillow

(12) BEST OF A YEAR LONG AGO. Black Gate’s John ONeill revisits “Thomas M. Disch on the Best Science Fiction of 1979”.

He has particular praise for Connie Willis’s first published story, “Daisy in the Sun,” originally published in issue #15 of Galileo (see right):

My own favorite among the also-rans is Connie Willis’s first published story, “Daisy in the Sun” (in the Wollheim/Saha annual). With lyric ellipses Willis describes a world in the grip of epidemic schizophrenia precipitated by news that the sun is going nova. The heroine is a sexually disturbed adolescent girl in a condition of fugal amnesia. All the way through I thought, “This won’t work,” but it did. What a great way to begin a career.

Of course, you could dismiss all this as sour grapes, as Disch’s own Hugo-nominee, the novel On Wings of Song, came in last in the voting that year.

(13) A CURIOUS ARTIFACT.

(14) RULES OF THE ROAD. After reading a few thousand selected words in the Amazon Web Service’s Service Terms, the account holder arrives here —

57.10 Acceptable Use; Safety-Critical Systems. Your use of the Lumberyard Materials must comply with the AWS Acceptable Use Policy. The Lumberyard Materials are not intended for use with life-critical or safety-critical systems, such as use in operation of medical equipment, automated transportation systems, autonomous vehicles, aircraft or air traffic control, nuclear facilities, manned spacecraft, or military use in connection with live combat. However, this restriction will not apply in the event of the occurrence (certified by the United States Centers for Disease Control or successor body) of a widespread viral infection transmitted via bites or contact with bodily fluids that causes human corpses to reanimate and seek to consume living human flesh, blood, brain or nerve tissue and is likely to result in the fall of organized civilization.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Will R., and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day J-Grizz.]

Pixel Scroll 1/22/16 Raindrops On Scrollses And Pixels On Kittens

(1) IT’S A WRAP. Tom Cruise will star in Universal’s reboot of The Mummy, now scheduled to arrive in theaters on June 9, 2017. This version will be set in the contemporary world. Cruise is not playing the title role, trade outlets are referring to his character as a former Navy SEAL.

So who is The Mummy?

Sofia Boutella, best recognized as the badass beauty with swords for legs in Kingsman: The Secret Service, will be playing this new version of the Mummy.

Who’s directing it?

Alex Kurtzman will be calling the shots. The only feature film he’s directed to date is People Like Us, but he’s best known for being a writer on a ton of big blockbuster movies, like Transformers, The Island, Mission: Impossible III, and J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek series. It currently has a script from Jon Spaihts (Prometheus).

(2) TRACING FIREBALLS TO THEIR SOURCE. In “A Precursor to the Chainmail Fantasy Supplement” Jon Peterson of Playing at the World identifies Leonard Patt as a forgotten influence or source on Gary Gygax, whose Chainmail (a collaboration with Jeff Perren) was the first game designed by Gygax sold as a professional product. It included a heavily Tolkien-influenced “Fantasy Supplement”, which made Chainmail the first commercially available set of rules for fantasy wargaming.

Patt, should he still be with us, would surely be unaware of how Chainmail followed his work, let alone the profound influence that concepts like “fire ball” and saving versus spells have had on numberless games over the decades that followed.

…In the early, pre-commercial days of miniature wargaming, the environment was very loose and collaborative, and these kinds of borrowings were not uncommon – but attribution was still an assumed courtesy. Gary Gygax has something of a reputation for adapting and expanding on the work of the gaming community without always attributing his original sources. The case of the Thief class is probably the most famous: the first draft of Gary’s rules do note their debt to the Aero Hobbies crowd, but as the published version of the rules in Greyhawk (1975) did not, the obligation of the Thief rules to Gary Switzer and the others at Aero Hobbies long went unacknowledged. Regarding Chainmail, Gary in late interviews says nothing to suggest that concepts like fireball were not of his own invention; Patt’s rules compel us to reevaluate those claims. Nonetheless, we must acknowledge that Gary had a singular gift for streamlining, augmenting and popularizing rules originally devised by others: certainly we wouldn’t say that Patt’s original rules could have inspired Blackmoor, and thus Dungeons & Dragons, without Gary’s magic touch and the elaboration we find in the Chainmail Fantasy Supplement.

But if you ever vanquished an enemy with a fireball in Dungeons & Dragons, or Magic: the Gathering, or Dragon Age, and especially if you ever made a saving throw against a fireball, thank Leonard Patt!

(3) LIGHTNING STRIKING AGAIN AND AGAIN. The Kickstarter appeal for People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction has raised $20,192 as of this writing – 400% of its original goal. Another special issue of Lightspeed, it will be guest-edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Kristine Ong Muslim, in partnership with section editors Nisi Shawl, Berit Ellingsen, Grace Dillon, and Sunil Patel, who are assembling a lineup of fiction, essays, and nonfiction from people of color.

Lightspeed’s Destroy series was started because of assertions that women, LGBTQ, and POC creators were destroying science fiction. The staff of Lightspeed took that as a challenge. Building on the astounding success of Lightspeed’s Women Destroy Science Fiction! (and Horror, and Fantasy) and Queers Destroy Science Fiction! (and Horror, and Fantasy), POC Destroy Science Fiction! brings attention to the rich history and future of POC-created science fiction and fantasy.

Like the previous Destroy issues, this campaign has the potential to unlock additional special issues focusing on Horror and Fantasy as well.

(4) DOUBTFUL. Breitbart.com’s Allum Bokhari dishonestly represents a commenter’s statement as a File 770 news item in “SJWs Are Purging Politically Incorrect Sci-Fi Authors From Bookstores”.

(5) BAKKA PHOENIX REPLIES. Yet he is getting the clicks he wants. One Toronto bookstore owner was intimidated into making a public denial — “A Question Worth Answering”.

We are Bakka Phoenix, a different bookstore entirely. We’re not going to comment on a rumour about XXX’s activities: that way lies madness and a lot of silly Twitter feuds. You might want to contact them directly (their website is XXX). Also, please note: from a Canadian perspective, Breitbart looks more like an outlet for the borderline-lunatic fringe than a credible news source.

But if you were wondering, we can assure you that we ourselves carry many books we find personally or politically reprehensible. Let’s face it, your left wing is somewhere off to our right, enough so that we’d have trouble even agreeing on the definition of ‘conservative’. Frankly, we find a lot of US political posturing completely unhinged.

But… so what? We’re in the business of selling books. Good books. Bad books. Titles some people love; titles others hate enough to throw across the room. Some books will transform readers minds and lives and be remembered for decades. Others will be forgotten immediately upon reading (or even partway through). We don’t have to like a book, its author, or its message in order to sell it. To suggest otherwise merely proves that the suggester spends very little time in actual bookstores.

The many wonderful independent booksellers I’ve met feel the same way. Independent bookstores exist for precisely that reason: to ensure that readers have the widest choice possible. So we — all of us — stock books we think our readers might be interested in, personal taste bedamned.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born January 22, 1934 – Bill Bixby, of My Favorite Martian and The Hulk.
  • Born January 22, 1959 – Linda Blair, of The Exorcist.

(7) BUTTER WOULDN’T MELT. Kate Paulk wrote a post educating her readers about the Best Editor Hugo categories.

Both these categories have seen controversy since their introduction: first the lobbying to split Best Editor – the whispers say this was so that a specific individual could receive an award instead of always playing second fiddle to a very prominent (and very skilled) magazine editor, the apparent hand-off of both through much of their history between an extremely small number of people – so much so that it appears a group of Tor editors considered the Long Form award to be their property (just look at the list of winners…).

The first comment, by Draven:

“yeah well, you know who we say for long form…”

The second comment, by Dorothy Grant:

“Hmmm, Maybe, maybe not. This year will be the last year David Hartwell will be eligible. (He edited L.E. Modesitt & John C. Wright, among others.) The industry lost a good man, and a good editor, yesterday. Granted, he’s won three, but these things do happen in tribute.”

The third comment, by Kate Paulk:

“They do indeed, and David Hartwell is certainly a worthy nominee.”

(8) BRUSHBACK PITCH. Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher in the National League, also has a less well known claim to fame – his great-uncle Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto. That explains his loyalty to the diminutive world, and his recent contradiction of NASA on Twitter.

(9) SINBAD. The Alex Film Society will screen The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) on Thursday, April 28 at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.

(10)  A SCI-FI KID REMEMBERS. Film fan Steve Vertlieb has compiled his memories about meeting genre stars into one extravaganza post:

After some forty seven years of writing about films, film makers, and film music, I thought that I’d take a moment to remember the glorious moments, events, and artists who have so generously illustrated the pages of my life, and career, over these many remarkable years.  Do return with me now to Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear when artistry and grandeur populated the days of our lives…days when gallant souls courageously rescued their leading ladies from screen villainy…days when culture and dignity proliferated the screen, television, radio, and the printed page.  Look for it only in books, for its sweet reflection of gentle innocence is but a faded memory…a  tender, poignant whisper of grace and wonder that, sadly, has Gone With The Wind.

Those memories are also the driving force of his autobiographical documentary Steve Vertlieb: The Man Who “Saved” The Movies. The director keeps an online journal of their progress.

A FILM DIRECTOR’S JOURNAL #3…THE PHILADELPHIA “SHOOT”

Whew!  It would be a bitch of an exhausting marathon, because we had lots of LITERAL ground to cover in Center City, hopscotching from one locale to another blocks away; then to another, then to another; finally finishing up on the “high steel”, the center of the city’s Benjamin Franklin Bridge, stretching from Philadelphia across the Delaware River into Camden, N.J.  But everyone agreed.  And our “Philadelphia Marathon” was off and running.

The documentary film will wrap in February, 2016, with film festival screenings planned for this Spring.

(11) ALAN RICKMAN. Today Star Talk Radio site revisited Neil deGrasse Tyson’s 2012 conversation with Alan Rickman.

So what does astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson ask him about? Failing physics in high school, of course. They also talk a little about acting, including how Alan chooses and prepares for his roles, from researching the heart surgeon in Something the Lord Made to the wine-tasting scene in Bottle Shock. You’ll hear Alan explain his sense of responsibility to his audience and what he describes as “the mysterious mechanism of acting and theatre and storytelling.” Neil and Alan also get philosophical about the limits of human perception, the flocking behavior of birds, and the interaction of sound and memory.

(12) MARTIAN HOP. Tintinaus has a great addition to The Martian musical, based on Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler.”

Every Martian knows that the secret to survival,
Is solving the next problem,
And then the problem after that.
‘Cause every day’s a winner
Even if you’re gettin’ thinner,
And the best that you can hope for
Is growing tates in your crewmate’s scat.

 

You gotta know when to sow ’em
Know when to hoe ’em
Know when to harvest
For a bumper yield
You never count sauce satchels
‘Cause that would be depressing.
Knowing how long ungarnished taters
Will be your only meal.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kyra.]