Pixel Scroll 12/20/17 God Stalk Ye Merry Pixel Scrolls

(1) IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR. Somebody reading this needs a ThinkGeek Steampunk Styled Tesla Analog Watch.

Tesla came up with all sorts of inventions and has sort of become the poster scientist for awesomeness now. Sure he wasn’t perfect. Sure he was a bit crazy. But he was always on time for his appointments. (Ed. note: We made that up.) And now you can be, too, with the new Tesla Watch.

The Tesla Watch goes with your steampunk aesthetic. With a weathered-brass look on all the metal parts, this analog watch features a leather strap. The highlights of this design, however, are the two faux vacuum tubes with red LEDs inside that you can turn on and off with the flick of a switch. Everybody will want to ask you what time it is so they can see your watch. Just remember to follow the answer with, “… 1875.”

(2) ACADEMY MUSEUM. The opening of The Academy Museum in 2019 is more than a year away, however, they have a website to satisfy your curiosity about what’s coming:

The Academy Museum will be the world’s premier institution dedicated to the art and science of movies. Located on Wilshire and Fairfax in Los Angeles, the Museum, will be simultaneously immersive, experimental, educational, and entertaining. More than a museum, this dynamic film center will offer unparalleled experiences and insights into movies and moviemaking.

The Museum will have huge resources to draw its exhibits from:

The Academy’s unparalleled permanent collection contains more than 10 million photographs, 190,000 film and video assets, 80,000 screenplays, 50,000 posters, 20,000 production and costume design drawings, and 1,400 special collections.

Their Rick Baker page illustrates the range of their offerings, in photos, videos, and documents.

A record-holding winner of seven Academy Awards for Makeup out of eleven nominations, Rick Baker is a lifelong “monster kid” who won the first competitive Oscar awarded in that category for his innovative work on An American Werewolf in London (1981), one of several collaborations with director John Landis. His apprenticeship under one of the industry’s greatest makeup artists, Dick Smith (including working as his assistant on The Exorcist), prepared him for a career providing cutting-edge makeup effects in many genres ranging from comedy to science fiction to horror, with titles including Ed Wood (1994), The Nutty Professor (1996) and Men in Black (1998).

(3) ONE MAGAZINE, ONE YEAR. Standback has Storified his “Favorite Stories From F&SF Magazine, 2017”:

F&SF is a magazine that always fills me with joy, wonder, and feels. A quick rundown of my favorite stories of 2017.

(4) THE REASON FOR THE FIFTH SEASON. N.K. Jemisin’s Twitter stream is filled with holiday song mashups today.

(5) SURPRISES. John Scalzi did a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” today. You never know what you’re going to learn.

Q: Do you often set out to write a book to be a series? Or do some of them just insist that you write more in that universe?

SCALZI: Only once: The Collapsing Empire, which we knew was the first installment of a series. Everything else was written standalone, and became series in when they sold well and the publisher asked for more.

(6) NEW SPECULATIVE FICTION AWARDS. Darthmouth College’s Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth College has created two new literary awards, the Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award for Speculative Fiction and the Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award for Debut Speculative Fiction, For A First Book. Each award comes with an honorarium of $5,000. The deadline for entry is December 31, 2017. Complete information about eligibility and submission guidelines is at the linked sites.

(7) TOYS, FIGURATIVE AND LITERAL. While Rian Johnson reasonably says — “You Have To Take The Toys Out Of The Box.” Rian Johnson Talks Creative Risks In “The Last Jedi” (at Fast Company), not as many people are doing that literally this year — “Star Wars ‘Last Jedi’ Toy Shipments Down Sharply From ‘Force Awakens'” (from The Hollywood Reporter.)

(8) WFC PROGRAMMING SURVEY. World Fantasy Con 2018 co-chair Bill Lawhorn announces they have put up a programming survey on their website — http://www.wfc2018.org/programsuggest.php

Lawhorn says, “You do not need to be a member to suggest ideas. There are no guarantees that any individual suggestion will be used.”

One of the things they’re looking for are items that carry out the WFC 2018 themes “Ports in a Storm” and “Celebrating the 200th Anniversary of Frankenstein.”

(9) U.F.O. 6. Laura Resnick has a story in Unidentified Funny Objects 6 called “Lost & Found”. That story has a backstory.

I used to work part-time at a community newspaper. It should have been a great job. The hours, the location, the work, the community, and the rest of the staff were all pleasant, and the pay was okay.

Unfortunately, though, the boss (who was the editor, publisher, and owner of the paper) was an incredibly toxic person, which made working there miserable and stressful, despite all the positive attributes the place otherwise had….

Well, at one point, the boss wanted to print some “joke” stories in the newspaper. He presented staffers with a few real news stories that he wanted us to riff on. I selected one about NASA, wrote my story as directed, and turned it in. After reading it, the boss informed me that this story was not at all what he had wanted. In fact, it was what he had asked for, but now he was asking for something else. So I wrote another draft. He sent this one back to me with some notes. I revised the material in accordance with the notes and turned it in. Now he gave me all-new feedback, stuff he had not said on any previous iteration, and had me revise it again. I did so. And then he did the same thing again.

Next, he told me to start all over from scratch. He couldn’t articulate why, he just knew he wanted something else. I pointed out that I had already done 5 versions. He said I would probably have to do 10 or 12 versions before we were done….

The sad part, so to speak, was that the pieces he kept spiking were funny, and none of them ever saw the light of day.

So when Alex Shvartsman asked me to participate in UFO6, I decided to turn my ideas  for that article into a short story. The result is “Lost & Found,” in which some surprising visitors emerge from a UFO orbiting Earth.

And apparently someone thinks I can write humor, since Imagine A Book SF gave my story 5 stars and said, “So many different layers of humor. Wonderful.”

Yep, getting published is still the best revenge.

(10) HELP WANTED. Roger Silverstein is trying to identify a story —

Tim Pratt posted this on Facebook a little while back, he is hunting for a half-remembered fantasy story.  I actually remember reading this story, but I cannot remember the dang title.  This is bugging me almost as much as it bugs him.  Would you be willing to post this?  (I emailed Tim Pratt for permission to copy and paste and he said “Sure, feel free” He has posted this in various places, but never File 770.

I’ve been trying to track down a half-remembered story for the past 25 years or so. Maybe one of you will recognize it. Google always fails me, either because it’s an obscure story with no digital footprint, or because I’m misremembering salient details. I was reading some rooming house stories by Theodore Sturgeon today, and it reminded me.

The story is set in a boarding house, full of peculiar characters, many of whom have supernatural powers. There’s one man who travels the world and fixes tears in reality; I think he’s described as having “lightning in his hands.” There’s an old woman who sees angels, or maybe just one angel, I think named Toby. There’s a man with magical mechanical aptitude; I think he fixes up an old car, and takes a left turn, and the car disappears, taking him with it. There’s someone who can make things you desire appear, maybe — they make the angel the old woman sees visible to everyone, at one point; that’s one of the hazier details. I don’t remember the plot at all. I probably read it in an anthology or SF magazine that was available at the Wayne Country library in Goldsboro North Carolina in the early ’90s, but it could be from any year before that.

Ring any bells? It’s entirely possible I’m misremembering or even conflating. It was a long time ago, but the story made a big impression on my fledgling writer brain, and I’d love to find it again.

(11) SPEAR CARRIER. “Remember That Guy Who Speared a Drone At a Ren Faire?” (Reference is to this video.) They made a runestone of his feat.


Rudyard, Montana is the only populated place in the US where if you drill through the earth you wind up on land — the Kerguelan Island in the South Indian Ocean.


The remarkable Ed Wynn makes his second and final appearance in The Twilight Zone as Sam Forstmann, a septuagenarian obsessed with maintaining the family grandfather clock. Sam is convinced that if the clock stops, he will die… a belief that baffles his family and the psychiatrist he visits (William Sargent).

  • December 20, 1974 — Walt Disney’s The Island At The Top Of The World debuted.
  • December 20, 1978The Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake opened.
  • December 20, 1985  — Enemy Mine was released


  • If this link works, it will take you to Matthew Gallman’s incredible 360-degree cartoon spoofing The Last Jedi.
  • Mike Kennedy says, “You haven’t seen that? Quelle horror!” – two Game of Thrones jokes, one in Pearls Before Swine, the other in Foxtrot.
  • John King Tarpinian knew we wouldn’t want to miss this moderately horrible superhero-inspired pun — Brevity.

(15) MYTHBOOSTER. In the unlikely event somebody thinks Game of Thrones is science fiction rather than fantasy, Live Science’s Charles Q. Choi, in “Is the Ice Wall from ‘Game of Thrones’ Physically Possible?”, summarizes a paper by University of Alaska (Fairbanks) glaciologist Martin Truffer about whether “The Wall” in Game of Thrones could exist.  He notes that ice flows over time and the only way to preserve a giant ice wall is to keep it at -40 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent the wall from cracking or deforming.

(16) FOR THE BIRDS. BBC covered the annual Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards:

An owl dangling precariously from a branch has scooped the overall prize of this year’s Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.

Out of the 3,500 entries, Tibor Kercz won the overall prize with his series of images showing an owl losing its footing and trying to claw its way back on to a branch.

Other entrants included a yawning dormouse, a photobombing sea turtle and a rather shocked seal.

(17) GORMENGHAST. John C. Wright griped about Gormenghast being published as fantasy, and prompted in response this terrific essay on the subject by Tom Simon, “Gormenghast and the Great Tradition”. (Hat tip to Niall McAuley.) At the end of his tour-de-force, Simon says –

In Britain, where genre labels count for less, the books found a permanent following years before anybody troubled to ask whether they were fantasies or not. In America, they were flung on the ash-heap by the strict rules of Modernism as practised by New York publishers, only to be rescued by Lin Carter. They are the very opposite of fairy tales; but they belong to Faërie nonetheless, for no less spacious realm will claim them. What the critics call ‘Realism’ is a small and besieged principality, entirely surrounded by the empire of Fantasy. On one side, the map says ‘Here Be Dragons’; the other side could plausibly be labelled ‘Gormenghast’. But both are provinces of the same boundless country.

That, my dear Mr. Wright, is why Titus Groan and Gormenghast count as fantasy.

(18) SMITHSONIAN CATS. SJW credentials for everything: “No Kitten Around: Museum Exhibit Celebrates ‘Divine Felines'”.

Independent, graceful, agile, adorable when they’re small — if cats are where it’s at for you, the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery of Asian Art has you covered. Their new exhibition is called Divine Felines, and it features images of cats both big and small from the land that honored them as holy: Egypt.

Ever feel fearful? Or brave? Protective? Aggressive? They had a cat for that in ancient Egypt….

(19) THE INSIDE GAME. The BBC asks — “Video games: How big is industry’s racial diversity problem?”.

When Uncharted: The Lost Legacy was released this year, it gained a lot of attention – not because it is the latest instalment for a popular franchise, it stood out for another reason.

The game was set in India, had two lead women, and one of them, Nadine Ross, is a black South African.

Other big releases this year include Assassins Creed Origins, which is set in Egypt with an African protagonist, while Star Wars Battlefront II used the likeness and voice of Janina Gavankar, an actress with part-Indian heritage.

But speaking to BBC Asian Network, Jo Twist, chief executive for Ukie, the trading body for the UK’s games industry, said there was still a long way to go before video games could be truly representative of the gaming audience.

(20) ABOUT FINN. Steven Barnes weighs in on “’The Last Jedi’ (2017)” – beware spoilers. (I thought this one mild enough to excerpt.)

I’m also still not happy with the amount of “Jar Jar” DNA in Finn. It is noticeable on a couple of levels, although they did allow his character to expand and grow some. When the very first thing we see with him is him falling out of bed, the first “buffoon laugh” of the film, you have a hill to climb, and they didn’t quite climb it. Finn’s treatment was an “othering” I didn’t appreciate. And if you defend it, you are, frankly, the reason I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized Marvel was seeking a black director for T’Challa’s saga.

(21) SFWA’S NEXT MEMBER? Jon Del Arroz publicly applied for SFWA membership today.

To SFWA’s leadership: You can check with all these people listed to verify payment, they are all members of your club. If you try some funky stuff to disqualify me, 10,000+ people who read this blog see it, that’s 5x the amount of members you have. I know you’ll play fair.

I guess we’re all interested to see what happens with that. My sympathy to whoever has to make the decision. I’d say it matters less whether his act is better or worse than other SFWA members’ than if there’s even more damage he could do once he’s inside the tent.

Maybe this is the answer.

(22) DRINK UP. The Daily Beast’s Max Watman hasn’t been killed by doing it, and he sets out to convince others “Why You Should Be Drinking Month-Old Eggnog”.

My friends Ford and Lisa invited me to their “Nog Salon” this year, and I was thrilled to attend. For you see, Ford and Lisa are practitioners of the mysterious art of aging Eggnog. Yes, aging Eggnog is actually a thing. No, I don’t have a death wish. I was actually very excited to taste their mature Nog side by side with a fresh batch we were going to whip up together.

…But I’ve learned that aging Eggnog—contrary to anyone’s first gut instinct—actually can make it safer. To be clear, I’m not talking about the non-alcoholic cartons you buy in the supermarket but the boozy old-fashioned treat that’s made from scratch. In fact, it’s very important that your recipe contains a sufficient amount of liquor, generally recommended at around 20 percent, since the alcohol is key to killing bacteria.

(23) NOT THE GREATEST MOVIE. The Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney tries to convince people to stay home: “‘The Greatest Showman’: Film Review”.

The sawdust and sequins are laid on thick, the period flashbulbs pop and the champagne flows in The Greatest Showman, yet this ersatz portrait of American big-top tent impresario P.T. Barnum is all smoke and mirrors, no substance. It hammers pedestrian themes of family, friendship and inclusivity while neglecting the fundaments of character and story. First-time director Michael Gracey exposes his roots in commercials and music videos by shaping a movie musical whose references go no further back than Baz Luhrmann. And despite a cast of proven vocalists led with his customary gusto by Hugh Jackman, the interchangeably generic pop songs are so numbingly overproduced they all sound like they’re being performed off-camera.

(24) STARGATE TEASER. The Verge reports —

After releasing a pair of behind-the-scenes clips from Stargate: Origins, MGM has unveiled its first teaser for the upcoming digital-only show. While the franchise is known for its interstellar adventures, this prequel looks as though it’s remaining firmly grounded, and taking a bit of inspiration from the likes of Indiana Jones.


[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, IanP, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Niall McAuley, Roger Silverstein, Daniel Dern, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mr Dalliard.]

Pixel Scroll 10/18/16 Talkin ‘Bout My Pixelation

(1) BEVERAGE APPERTAINED. John King Tarpinian is insanely tickled by this visual reference from the latest Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror episode, since Logan’s Run was co-authored by his late buddy George Clayton Johnson.


(2) SOUND OFF. David Steffen’s Long List Anthology Volume 2 Kickstarter successfully funded all the fiction but did not reach audiobook stretch goal. Steffen announced the stories will appear in this order:

Table of Contents

  • “Damage” by David D. Levine
  • “Pockets” by Amal El-Mohtar
  • “Today I Am Paul” by Martin L. Shoemaker
  • “The Women You Didn’t See” by Nicola Griffith (a letter from Letters to Tiptree)
  • “Tuesdays With Molakesh the Destroyer” by Megan Grey
  • “Wooden Feathers” by Ursula Vernon
  • “Three Cups of Grief, By Starlight” by Aliette de Bodard
  • “Madeleine” by Amal El-Mohtar
  • “Neat Things” by Seanan McGuire (a letter from Letters To Tiptree)
  • “Pocosin” by Ursula Vernon
  • “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” by Alyssa Wong
  • “So Much Cooking” by Naomi Kritzer
  • “The Deepwater Bride” by Tamsyn Muir
  • “The Heart’s Filthy Lesson” by Elizabeth Bear
  • “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” by Rose Lemberg
  • “Another Word For World” by Ann Leckie
  • “The Long Goodnight of Violet Wild” by Catherynne M. Valente
  • “Our Lady of the Open Road” by Sarah Pinsker
  • “The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn” by Usman T. Malik
  • “The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps” by Kai Ashante Wilson

(3) THE MCFLY FAMILY CHRONICLE In “Computer Solves a Major Time Travel Problem” by Cathal O’Connell at Cosmos Magazine, the “grandfather paradox” has allegedly been solved by a supercomputer and the research of Israeli physicist Doron Friedman (i.e. you can go back in time, kill your father, and sire another father).

The computer’s second solution is more interesting. The snag is it only works if the father also has the ability to travel in time.

The story goes like this.

In 1954 Marty’s father George travels forward in time one year to 1955, when he impregnates Marty’s mother Lorraine before immediately returning back to 1954 – just as his future son, Marty, arrives and kills him.

Because George’s quick foray into the future allowed him to already conceive his son, the paradox disappears.

(4) TROPE TURNOVERS. Apex Publications’ Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling Anthology, funded by a Kickstarter reported here, is receiving critical praise. They sent backers this update:

I wanted to mention that you may recall we sent out a few ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) in anticipation that we would be releasing this anthology in December. We are pleased to share that Publisher’s Weekly has given our anthology a starred review! Thank you SO much for making this anthology happen, and we hope you enjoy the stories. Huzzah!

(5) ROBBER BARONS. Amanda S. Green has criticized publishers for the past decade for overpricing ebooks, and tells her Mad Genius Club readers there’s no sign it’s going to change. In fact, if they can think of a way, publishers will make the arrangement even more exploitative….

As readers, it means we will have to continue to choose between buying one traditionally published e-book from publishers like Randy Penguin (at $12.99 or more) or buying two or three — or more — indie or small press published e-books. It means choosing to buy e-books from indies or publishers like Baen, sources that don’t add DRM, or buying fro publishers who aren’t afraid to say they think their customers are thieves and that is why they add the DRM. After all, they don’t trust us not to pirate their books or — gasp — resell them after we’re done with them. As readers, it also means we need to be smart and start backing up our e-books to places not connected with our e-readers, etc. Because, as sure as I’m sitting here typing this this morning, I guaran-damn-tee you there is some bean counter sitting in an ivory tower in the publishing industry who is trying to figure out a way to limit the number of times we can read an e-book before we have to buy a new license or something equally as silly. Don’t believe me? Remember, these are the same publishers that put a limit on how many times an e-book can be checked out at a library before the library has to buy — at an inflated rate — the e-book again.

(6) MUSIC OF THE SPHERES. Bladerunner film score composer Vangelis has released a new space-themed opera — “From Composer Vangelis, A True Story Set In outer Space”. You can listen on YouTube.

Rosetta is a concept album, inspired by the European Space Agency mission of the same name. It successfully landed a probe on a comet in 2014 and completed its mission — by total coincidence — within a week of the album’s release.

“I imagine myself being in the position of Rosetta, and going there,” Vangelis says. “It’s something amazing.” Amazing — and disorienting. “You have to go through, sometimes, total dark,” Vangelis says. “You can imagine like a child sometimes.”


(7) TAKE ONE DOWN AND PASS IT AROUND. Motherboard says “This Guy Is Replicating ‘Blade Runner’ Shot-for-Shot in MS Paint”. And I say, keep appertaining beverages for yourself until you’re drunk enough to know why this needs to be reported by File 770.

So when we discovered David MacGowan’s tumblr MSP Blade Runner, our response was one of collective awe and fascination. MacGowan is quite literally going through Blade Runner shot-by-shot and illustrating each in MS Paint. The drawings aren’t perfect in terms of artistry—it is MS Paint, after all—and they’re not 100 percent complete in detail. But each moment is instantly recognizable even to someone with only a passing familiarity with the film. And MacGowan has nailed that elusive, pitch-perfect Internet Ugly aesthetic so many of us try and fail to, well, replicate.

(8) SKIPPING THE AUTHENTICITY. Dwayne A. Day lays waste to a TV show in “O, full of scorpions is my mind” at Space Review.

Every few years a major entertainment program has focused on a human spaceflight theme, and usually the results have been pretty bad. In 2007, Law & Order: Criminal Intent did an episode that was based upon astronaut Lisa Nowak’s arrest for attempted murder (another one of their “ripped from the headlines” stories.) Because it was set in New York City, they portrayed the “National Space Agency” as based in New York. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit did another astronaut-based episode in 2008. In 2011, the cable spy drama Covert Affairs aired an episode about a terrorist spy working at NASA headquarters in Washington, DC (see “Tinker, Tailor, NASA, Spy,” The Space Review, July 11, 2011) In 2010, CSI: Miami had an episode dealing with a murder aboard a commercial orbiting spaceplane that operated out of Miami. (See “Space cops,” The Space Review, March 1, 2010)

Normally this is the point in this article where I would make some kind of semi-clever quip about how bad all these shows were. But they were at least watchable. The CSI: Miami episode was probably the best of the bunch, demonstrating at least a passable knowledge of commercial spaceflight. But in retrospect, all of them now look like 2001: A Space Odyssey compared to last week’s episode of the CBS drama Scorpion which featured a character being accidentally blasted into space. It was bad.

There are few words to describe how amazingly bad it was, so here are a lot of them….

Scorpion’s producers don’t really seem to care about accuracy or believability or logic or continuity or consistency. Despite spending what must be huge gobs of money on the episodes, it is amazing how slipshod some of it is—not just the writing, but the production values seemed to demonstrate that nobody had any real interest in making any of it look good.

(9) RED PLANET CRITIQUE. Mars chronicler Kim Stanley Robinson declines to take Musk’s plan at face value in “Why Elon Musk’s Mars Vision Needs ‘Some Real Imagination’” on Bloomberg.

It’s 2024. Musk figures everything out and gets funding. He builds his rocket, and 100 people take off. Several months later, they land (somehow) and have to get to work remaking a planet.

I have to note, first, that this scenario is not believable, which makes it a hard exercise to think about further. Mars will never be a single-person or single-company effort. It will be multi-national and take lots of money and lots of years.

Musk’s plan is sort of the 1920s science-fiction cliché of the boy who builds a rocket to the moon in his backyard, combined with the Wernher von Braun plan, as described in the Disney TV programs of the 1950s. A fun, new story.

(10) BEHIND BARS. In the latest installment of “The Barrett Brown Review of Arts and Letters in Prison”, Barrett Brown, jailed for decades because of his hacking, answers questions Filers will hopefully never need to ask:  if you’re in prison, how do you teach other prisoners how to play role-playing games?  And how do you make the dice?

We began the campaign with our party having just entered a mysterious cavern that appeared to be inhabited. The gamemaster drew out a map for us as our crude little character tokens advanced down the dark, cliché-ridden passages. Coming upon a fountain in which jewels could be seen lying under the surface of the water, our Hispanic gangster/minotaur barbarian proposed to grab some. The team veteran and meth dealer/elven ranger stopped him, dipped in his flask, and, as our gamemaster informed us, watched as it sizzled and melted, the “water” having been acid.

“Whoa,” said the gangster/minotaur, awed at how close he’d just come to losing his forearm. He was beginning to understand that this wasn’t the relatively straightforward world of street-level dope dealing anymore; this was Dungeons and Dragons. Presumably the feds had never attempted to trick him into incinerating his own arm. But then some of these guys had been targeted by the ATF, so you never know.

(11) MAMATAS. At Locus Online, “Tim Pratt Reviews Nick Mamatas”.

His latest novel, I Am Providence, should be of particular interest to our readers for at least a couple of reasons. For one, it’s a murder mystery set at a genre convention: the Summer Tentacular, devoted to H.P, Lovecraft and his Mythos, held appropriately enough in Lovecraft’s hometown of Providence RI. (The book’s title is taken from Lovecraft’s famous epitaph.) Given how prevalent discussions of Lovecraft’s influence and his problematic qualities have been in our field lately, it’s an astonishingly timely book. If the convention angle doesn’t make it SFnal enough for you, there’s a bona fide speculative element: half the novel is narrated in first person by the murder victim as he lies cooling on a morgue slab.

The murder-mystery-at-a-convention is a venerable subgenre (think Isaac Asimov’s Murder at the ABA or Sharyn McCrumb’s Bimbos of the Death Sun). The best of them combine solid mystery stories anyone can enjoy with a dash of in-jokes, cameos, and thinly veiled versions of figures in the field to amuse those in the know. I Am Providence is among those best.

(12) THE HORSE, OF COURSE. Rosalind Moran reminds SFWAns, “Horses Are Not Machines: On Writing the Steeds of Fantasy Fiction”.

  1. Nobody Learns In A Day

No amount of natural talent can make a horseman in a day. If one’s horse is tolerant, one may be able to hold on over flat terrain after a few hours in the saddle. Nevertheless, there’s a big difference between not sliding off immediately, and being able to ride competently. It can take months – even years – before one is truly balanced enough to cope with a horse moving at various gaits, and occasionally acting up. Yet it’s not uncommon in fantasy novels for characters to pick up the handy skill of horse-riding in one day.

Furthermore, handling horses on the ground is also a skill requiring time. When one first begins working with horses, one can’t read their body language; flicking ears, shifting legs, squeals and snorts. The initial reaction when faced with a horse also tends to be one of intimidation – they’re big animals. So for your protagonist to be confident catching horses, feeding them, tacking them up… that all takes time and experience. You don’t need to devote pages to your character learning relatively mundane skills, but you should acknowledge that these are skills which they are learning, or which they have somehow acquired at another point in time.

Additional note: horses aren’t domesticated in a day either. Worth remembering next time you chance upon a handy herd in the wilderness – sorry.

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

Your Emergency Holographic Backup Pixel Scroll 4/29/16 Second Pixel Scroll and Straight On Till Morning

(1) RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE. One of the biggest news stories in the world today — “Large Hadron Collider: Weasel causes shutdown”.

The Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator at Cern is offline after a short circuit – caused by a weasel.

The unfortunate creature did not survive the encounter with a high-voltage transformer at the site near Geneva in Switzerland.

The LHC was running when a “severe electrical perturbation” occurred in the early hours of Friday morning.

What did they discover when they bombarded the weasel with neutrinos? That it just made him mad?

(2) TIME FOR REFLECTION. They took the covers off the mirrors of the James Webb Space Telescope for the next round of work, the BBC reports.

Revealed for the first time in all its glory – the main mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope, which will be launched in 2018.

JWST is regarded as the successor to Hubble, and will carry technologies capable of detecting the light from the first stars to shine in the Universe.

Paramount in that quest will be a large primary reflecting surface.

And with a width of 6.5m, JWST’s will have roughly seven times the light-collecting area of Hubble’s mirror.

It is so big in fact that it must be capable of folding. Only by turning the edges inwards will the beryllium segments fit inside the telescope’s launch rocket.

The observatory is currently under construction at the US space agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

When in recent months engineers stuck down the segments to their support structure, each hexagon had a cover on it.

Only now, as the engineers prepare to move to the next stage of assembly, have those covers been removed to reveal the full mirror….

Leaving such a sensitive surface exposed even for a short time may appear risky. The fear would be that it might get scratched. But the European Space Agency’s JWST project scientist, Pierre Ferruit, said that was unlikely.

“The main danger is to get some accumulation of dust. But it’s a cleanroom so that accumulation is very slow,” he told BBC News.

“They need to rotate the telescope to get access to the back, and the protective covers were only resting on the mirror segments, so they had to be removed before the rotation.

“When the mirror is upside down, the exposure to dust will be much less, and I doubt anyone will be allowed to walk underneath.”

(3) NEWT SCAMANDER SCREENPLAY. The “Thursday Book Beat” post at Women Write About Comics alerts Harry Potter fans that another Rowling publication is on the way.

Potterheads might not be getting an eighth novel in the Harry Potter series, but J.K. Rowling seems committed to giving her fans new material to devour. She announced that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them wouldn’t just be available as a film on November 18, but that the screenplay would also be published on November 19. Newt Scamander’s adventures in the United States may be a balm for readers who can’t get to London to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, though this announcement also begs the question: why publish the screenplay in the first place when the film will still come out first?

(4) REUBEN NOMINEES. The five cartoonists nominated for this year’s Reuben Award have been announced. This award is generally considered the highest honor a US cartoonist can receive. It is presented yearly by the National Cartoonists Society.

  • Lynda Barry
  • Stephan Pastis
  • Hilary Price
  • Michael Ramirez
  • Mark Tatulli

The nominees in the rest of the categories are here at Comics Beat.

(5) CLASS OFFERED BY RAMBO AND SWIRSKY. Rachel Swirsky posted details on  “Retelling and retaling: Take a class with me and Cat Rambo”

Take an online class from me and Cat Rambo! May 21, 9:30-11:30 AM, Pacific Time.

Personally, I love retellings. As a kid, I had a collection of picture books retelling the Cinderella story in a dozen different settings. SFWA president Cat Rambo and I are teaching a class on the subject.

(6) EDELMAN’S LATEST ALSO HIS EARLIEST. Scott Edelman time travels to 2001 and interviews Samuel R. Delany for Episode 7 of Eating the Fantastic.

The latest episode of Eating the Fantastic was recorded 15 years before Eating the Fantastic began.

How is that possible?

Well, when it comes to Chip Delany, all things are possible.

On June 18, 2001, while Chip was in the middle of a book tour supporting the 25th anniversary republication of Dhalgren, I interviewed him at Bistro Bis in the Hotel George. The recording I made that day wasn’t created to be heard, but was merely a tool so it could be transcribed and run as text in Science Fiction Weekly, a site I edited during my 13 years at the Syfy Channel….

Samuel R. Delany and Scott Edelman

Samuel R. Delany and Scott Edelman

Who’ll be on the next installment of this podcast?

I’m not yet sure of the identity of my next guest, but I’ll be at StokerCon in Las Vegas the second weekend of May—where I’ll either win a Stoker Award or, in losing, tie at six for the most nominations without a win—and while there I plan to record several new episodes.

So it might be award-winning poet Linda Addison. Or writer Mary Turzillo, who won a Nebula Award for a story I published when I edited Science Fiction Age. Or it could be writer Gene O’Neill, with whom I attended the Clarion writers workshop way back in 1979 when we were still both getting started. (More time traveling!)


  • April 29, 1983 — David Bowie stars in Tony Scott’s vampire film The Hunger.
  • April 29, 1983Something Wicked This Way Comes opens in theaters.


  • Born April 29, 1955  — Kate Mulgrew.


  • Born April 29, 1923 — Director Irvin “Kersh” Kershner is born in Philadelphia.

(10) VOTE. The Internet Movie Database is running a poll on “Your favorite ship’s commander?”

Everybody is in there from Kirk, Picard and Janeway, to the captain of The Love Boat, and Captain Kangaroo….

(11) READ TIM PRATT. Rachel Swirsky’s latest story recommendation — “Friday read! ‘Cup and Table’ by Tim Pratt”.

Cup and Table” is my favorite of Tim Pratt’s stories–and it has a lot of competition. To explain how much competition, let me tell an anecdote about the audio magazine I used to edit, PodCastle.

I was no longer on staff when this happened, but at one point, the editors I who took over after I left received a letter. That letter complained of how many stories about lesbians were in the magazine, arguing that PodCastle should just be called LesbianCastle. One of the editors deviously ran the numbers and found that, proportionally, they did not actually run that many stories about lesbians. However, they did run a surprisingly high percentage of Tim Pratt stories. A percentage that, in fact, exceeded the percentage of stories about lesbians. He suggested that they call themselves PrattCastle instead.

(12) LIFE IN THE VAST LANE. In BBC’s article “Where to find life in the blackest vacuum of outer space” there is, says Chip Hitchcock, a “Shoutout to Hoyle, but not Anderson (who IIRC wrote about something much more like their topic).”

On the face of it space is dark, cold and full of lethal radiation – but maybe life has found a way to cling on in the blackness

First, we had better agree on what counts as “life”. It does not necessarily have to look like anything familiar.

As an extreme case, we can imagine something like the Black Cloud in astronomer Fred Hoyle’s classic 1959 science-fiction novel of that name: a kind of sentient gas that floats around in interstellar space, and is surprised to discover life on a planet.

But Hoyle could not offer a plausible explanation for how a gas, with an unspecified chemical make-up, could become intelligent. We probably need to imagine something literally a bit more solid.

While we cannot be sure that all life is carbon-based, as it is on Earth, there are good reasons to think that it is likely. Carbon is much more versatile as a building block for complex molecules than, say, silicon, the favourite element for speculations about alternative alien biochemistries.

(13) WARP SPEED. Larry Correia’s lengthy “Europe Trip Recap” doesn’t end in time to avoid an extraneous complaint about the LA Times’ Hugo coverage. Otherwise it’s an entertaining account of his just-completed overseas tour.

The next day we drove across all of Germany to the Czech Republic, and I got to experience the autobahn, which my whole life has been this sort of mythical place that has no speed limits, and is filled with drivers that understand slow traffic stays right, and where they never camp in the left lane, and in fact, if you’re blocking the left lane, they’ll come right up on your bumper at 100 miles an hour, honking, and flashing their lights. It was a place devoid of mercy, unforgiving of weakness. So we set out.

Apparently there are two kinds of tourist drivers on the autobahn. Those who are weak, fearful, whose crying pillows smell of lilacs and shame, who stay in the truck lane, or who wander out into the left occasionally, timidly, to be honked at and chased aside by awesome Teutonic Super Drivers…

And the other kind is the American who manages to average 180km an hour across all of Germany in a Volvo diesel station wagon.

It was AMAZING. I felt like a race car driver across an entire country. You know why German cars don’t have cup holders? Because if you stop to drink while driving, YOU WILL DIE. And you should. You need to be on. I’d get a gap, jump out to the left, floor it (because fuel economy is for hippies I’m on the mother f’ing autobahn!),  and nobody pulls out in front of me in a minivan to enforce their personal speed limit, people ahead of me going slower (like 100mph) immediately get out of the way, and when some bad ass comes up behind me in a super car, I get out of his way, and then they blast past me like I’m standing still.

It was beautiful.

(14) CUNIEFORM COMPUTING. ScreenRant hopes it has listed “12 Facts You Don’t Know About George R.R. Martin” but chances are you already know all but a couple of them.

4. The Magic of the Wordstar 4.0 Computer

Martin is a dedicated user of the WordStar word processor software, which was the preeminent word processor back in the 1980s, that ran on Microsoft DOS. Martin is one of a handful of famous writers who use the WordStar 4.0 Computer that utilizes a DOS operating system. The other notable users are William F. Buckley Jr., Ralph Ellison, Robert J Sawyer, Anne Rice, and Andy Breckman (of the tv show Monk). So he’s one of the few people left on planet Earth that uses this word processor.

In an interview with Conan O’Brien, George R. R. Martin explained his reason for choosing such a classic program. “Well, I actually like it. It does everything I want a word processing program to do, and it doesn’t do anything else,” Martin said. “I don’t want any help. I hate some of these modern systems where you type a lowercase letter and it becomes a capital. I don’t want a capital! If I’d wanted a capital, I would have typed a capital. I know how to work a shift key!”

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]