Pixel Scroll 11/6/16 The Sound Of One Pixel Scrolling

(1) UNREALITY CHECK. Damien G. Walter loves the Doctor Strange movie but he believes it’s time to explain again that Buddhism wont give you magic powers.

But can we please clear something up here? BUDDHISM IS NOT THE GATEWAY TO SECRET MAGICAL POWERS. It doesn’t matter how many thousands of hours you spend in meditation, you’ll never be able to summon power from other dimensions, conjure cool looking glowing sigils with wavy hand movements, or indulge in the joys of astral projection. Got it?

“Oh Damo!” I hear one of you sigh, “You’re just taking this all too seriously! Nobody believes Buddhism can REALLY give them magical powers. Any more than they believe they can really upload their mind into a computer to achieve immortality! Oh, wait, loads of people do actually believe that…” As, in fact, do many people really genuinely believe Buddhism will give them magic powers. And much as I would like to blame this on Hollywood, it’s a much, much older problem.

While I’m lucky not to have had my hands crushed in an automobile accident, my own life took me into the Himalayan mountains, to study at the Buddhist temples in Dharamsala. I’ve been a student of Buddhism for eight years now. I stepped out of a successful, creative career that was killing me incrementally and Buddhism was part of what helped me transition to a different kind of life. Now I live in Thailand, a Buddhist nation, to study Theravada Buddhism. In 2015 I travelled across India, to the capital of the Tibetan government in exile, and home of the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, to study Mahayana Buddhism.

(2) STRANGE THOUGHTS. Paul Weimer shares some thoughts about the Doctor Strange movie.

Tell me if you recognize this story from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

A brilliant, snarky, assholish rich person with amazingly skills strides through life blandly, confident that he knows everything, and often can back up his reputation with cold hard skills and knowledge. He is an endless deadpan snarker, always with a cutting jape or a quip for friend and rival alike. He has a long-suffering quasi love interest who clearly deserves better. We get to see him in his glory before an accident brings him low and nearly kills it. Worse, it doesn’t kill him, but gives him a permanent debility, changing his future plans forever. Said asshole learns to be better slowly and painfully in a period of retrenchment and regrowth, becoming a superhero in the process, and defrosting the heart of his love interest a bit whilst in the middle of battling the big baddie.

I could be describing Iron Man, but I am also describing Doctor Strange, and that is the core of one of the problems I found with the 2016 Marvel Cinematic Universe story.

(3) QUIZZING BUJOLD. Lois McMaster Bujold, who published a new novella this week, Penric’s Mission, is interviewed about her writing process (just in time for the National Novel Writing Month) — “Lois McMaster Bujold Answers Three (Okay, Four) Questions about the Writing Process”.

MD: So, National Novel Writing Month is basically about creating a first draft of at least 50,000 words. What’s your favorite thing about writing the first draft?

LMB: Finishing it. (-:

Starting it runs a close second, true. Then, probably, those moments when a sticky knot gets suddenly undone by some neat idea or inspiration that I didn’t have — often couldn’t have had — earlier.

I do rolling revisions — correcting, rewriting, re-outlining, and dinking as I go — because if I don’t get my edits in pretty early, my prose sets up like concrete, and it takes a jackhammer to pry it open. Also, by the end I will be tired and frantic and in no state of mind for careful polishing, still less major surgery. Since I’m usually doing novels or novellas, there’s too much to face, not to mention wrangle and just find, if I save all that till the finish.

This is a shift from earlier decades, when my method was to complete each chapter, print it out, run it past my test readers, and then do little more than make notes on the pages till I circled around for the final run/s. (There’s never only one.) In the past few years I’ve finally gone paperless, so I do a lot more micro-editing along the way now.

(4) WORLDCON 75 NEWS. The Worldcon 75 International Film Festival is accepting entries.  

Worldcon 75 international film festival is now open for submissions! Please read the official rules and send in your entry form and film by email or snail mail by June 1st, 2017: WORLDCON 75 INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL PDF (633 kB).

(5) OPERATION GONDOR. The Angry Staff Officer says Tolkien exemplifies sound Army doctrine, in “Warfighter: Middle-Earth”.

When I think of the six warfighting functions I always think of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

What, you don’t?

Let’s be honest, one does not immediately think of fantasy or science fiction when conversations turn to Army doctrine. Most vignettes that are used to make the subject understandable to the lowly minds of company grade officers are either historical or situational. And while there is nothing wrong with this technique, are we perhaps overlooking a missed opportunity for providing a broader understanding of our doctrine? …

Summary

Through utilizing the six warfighting functions, the Captains of the West were able to preserve their combat power, protect critical information nodes, deceive and confuse the enemy as to their true intentions, and finally mass key maneuver assets at critical points in the enemy lines. This led to an eventual tactical victory that reversed the course of ground operations in the War of the Ring.

Tolkien is assuredly cursing me profoundly in the afterlife.

(6) ON THE OTHER PAW. Rachel Neumeier decided that the B&N Sci-FI & Fantasy Blog’s recent list of 25 cats in sf/f needed answering, so she listed the “Top ten dogs in SFF”.

  1. Barbara Hambly’s wonderful THE BRIDE OF THE RAT GOD actually made me fall a little bit in love with Pekingese, not ordinarily my favorite breed (sorry, Pekingese lovers; just a personal preference). Do NOT be misled by the title, which is deliberately B-movie campy. The story is delightful and the three Pekingese are real characters, real dogs, and also btw capable of hunting demons if any should turn up.

(7) SIGHTS SEEN AND UNSEEN. After being feted at Utopiales, Ann Leckie’s travels took her to Paris, as she tells in her latest post, “Utopiales”.

I did some very touristy things–the day I had to myself in Paris, the weather was clear and just chilly enough for a good walk, and the map told me the Louvre was only a few kilometers from my hotel, so I figured I’d go on foot. It was a nice walk! And the Louvre is just as full of looted antiquities as ever. Every now and then I’d see a familiar object–oh, hello Etruscan couple I’ve seen photos of you all over the place! Oh, that round hat looks familiar, could it be Gudea, King of Lagash? Why, yes, it is! The Dendera Zodiac I didn’t stumble across, though, I was actually looking for it. (And found it.)

I didn’t bother with the Mona Lisa. No doubt she was surrounded the way the Venus de Milo was. I found that kind of fascinating–there were dozens of other wonderful statues in the room, but everyone was just looking at her, taking pictures, and selfies.

A remark that brings to mind Art Buchwald’s famous column, “The Six-Minute Louvre” which begins:

Any sportsman will tell you that the only three things to see in the Louvre are the “Winged Victory of Samothrace,” the “Venus de Milo” and the “Mona Lisa.” The rest of the sculpture and paintings are just so much window dressing for the Big Three, and one hates to waste time in the Louvre when there is so much else to see in Paris….

(8) ANTIHARASSMENT ALLY PROJECT. Steven Saus has created #IWillBelieveYou, “An Ally Project To Support Those Affected by Sexual Harassment and Assault In Fandom and Elsewhere.”

As he explains in a post on his blog Ideatrash:

After the revelations last month (reference one, two), those of us with enough energy, privilege, and resources have to do something. Something that shows both that we will support those who have been harassed and that we do not accept harassment in the places we gather. So, building on the example of Take Back The Night, as well as #IllRideWithYou and #IllGoWithYou, I created #IWillBelieveYou.

(9) ROALD DAHL’S TV SHOW. Atlas Obscura remembers that “In 1961, Roald Dahl Hosted His Own Version of ‘The Twilight Zone’” called Way Out.

Under the gun, some enterprising producers at the network began dreaming up a creepy drama show to fill the time slot, and they went right to Dahl. While he is best remembered today for his timeless works of children’s literature like Matilda and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, for a good portion of his writing career, he was better known as an author of twisted, devilish fiction. As explained in an article originally published in Filmfax Magazine, Dahl jumped at the chance to develop the series, spurred on by the fact that the show’s time slot (9:30 p.m. on Fridays) fell right before another thematically similar little CBS show, The Twilight Zone.

The black-and-white show would begin with what became its signature image, a slow pan over a series of mist-shrouded, disembodied hands, before resting on one which would burst into flames at the title came onscreen. Then, flexing his dry British charm like a more cosmopolitan Vincent Price, Dahl would give a short intro to each episode. The bulk of the program consisted of the main tale, usually a short morality play with an ironic or surprising ending or element, which often dipped into the supernatural. Then Dahl would close out the show with another direct epilogue, much like the Cryptkeeper of the later Tales From the Crypt.

(10) HELLO, I LOVE YOU. A Vintage News story tells how “Abandoned in space in 1967, a US satellite has started transmitting again”.

In 2013 in North Cornwall, UK, an Amateur Radio Astronomer picked up a signal which he determined to be the LES1 that was built by MIT in 1965. The satellite never made it to its intended orbit and had been spinning out of control ever since.

Phil Williams, the amateur radio astronomer from near Bude, picked out the odd signal which was transmitting due to it tumbling end over end every four seconds as the solar panels became shadowed by the engine. “This gives the signal a particularly ghostly sound as the voltage from the solar panels fluctuates,” Williams said.

It’s more than likely the onboard batteries have disintegrated, and something else caused its 237Mhz transmission to resume when it was in sunlight.

The LES1 is about the size of a small automobile and should not cause any issues more than any other piece of space junk in orbit.

This proves electronics built around 50 years ago, 12 years before Voyager 1, and far before microprocessors and integrated circuits are still capable of working in the hostile environs of space. Phil refers to his hobby as “Radio-Archaeology”.

(11) TREACHEROUS HOME APPLIANCES. It’s great that Sixties electronics are still working in space, but look out for latest tech in your own home: the internet of things is a fertile environment for hackers, who can turn even the most innocuous thing to their purposes: “Why Light Bulbs May Be The Next Hacker Target” in the New York Times.

Now here’s the bad news: Putting a bunch of wirelessly connected devices in one area could prove irresistible to hackers. Researchers report in a paper made public on Thursday that they have uncovered a flaw in a wireless technology that is often included in smart home devices like lights, switches, locks, thermostats and many of the components of the much-ballyhooed “smart home” of the future.

The researchers focused on the Philips Hue smart light bulb and found that the wireless flaw could allow hackers to take control of the light bulbs, according to researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science near Tel Aviv and Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. That may not sound like a big deal. But imagine thousands or even hundreds of thousands of internet-connected devices in close proximity.

Malware created by hackers could be spread like a pathogen among the devices by compromising just one of them.

And they wouldn’t have to have direct access to the devices to infect them: The researchers were able to spread infection in a network inside a building by driving a car 229 feet away.

The new risk comes from a little-known radio protocol called ZigBee. Created in the 1990s, ZigBee is a wireless standard widely used in home consumer devices. While it is supposed to be secure, it hasn’t been held up to the scrutiny of other security methods used around the internet. The researchers found that the ZigBee standard can be used to create a so-called computer worm to spread malicious software among internet-connected devices.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/22/16 Little Old Lady Got Pixelated Late Last Night

(1) SHINY. What’s the latest at Young People Read Old SF? Curator James Davis Nicoll has assigned them Arthur C. Clarke’s “Superiority”.

I knew I would be offering my subjects a Clarke story at some point, not because he is an old favourite of mine, but because Clarke was name-checked in the Facebook post that inspired Young People Read Old SF.

nobody discovers a lifelong love of science fiction through Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein anymore, and directing newbies toward the work of those masters is a destructive thing, because the spark won’t happen.

But which Clarke? A White Hart anecdote? (No bar stories in this series … so far). A Meeting with Medusa? His creepy “A Walk in the Dark”? The puritanical “I Remember Babylon”? After considerable dithering, I selected 1951’s “Superiority,” because I thought pretty much everyone has had some worthy endeavour undermined by someone else’s desire to embrace a new shiny, whether it’s a committee member using email options they clearly have not mastered (1) or simply someone who discovers Windows 10 installing itself on their once useful computer. Or, in the case that inspired Clarke, the V2 rocket program that undermined the German war effort….

(2) THE QUESTION. The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog couldn’t be more right — “The Biggest Question in Sci-Fi & Fantasy: Series or Standalone?” Aidan Moher and Corrina Lawson take opposite sides in the debate.

Aidan: Very interesting. I was definitely raised on series and trilogies as I first discovered science fiction and fantasy, and I totally agree that there’s something exciting and comforting for a young reader to know that there are more books just like the one she’s finished reading. As I’ve grown older, though, my tastes have changed quite a bit.

Honestly, I think that downfall you mention is a serious one for me. My time for reading is limited, even more so as I’ve grown older, established a career, and started a family, so I want to know that when I commit to a story, I’m guaranteed some measure of satisfaction by the time I finish it….

Corrina: It’s the time commitment for a stand-alone that gets to me. I have to take that extra time to get used to the style of the book. I’m more likely to enjoy something that is fast-paced in that case, like Chuck Wendig’s Invasive, which really reads more like a movie playing in my head….

(3) MACARTHUR FELLOWS. The 2016 MacArthur Fellows have been named, recipients of the “genius grants.”

The MacArthur Fellowship is a $625,000, no-strings-attached grant for individuals who have shown exceptional creativity in their work and the promise to do more

Here are some of the fellows who are involved in the arts:

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, New York, New York
Playwright using a range of theatrical genres in subversive, often unsettling works that engage frankly with the ways in which race, class, and history are negotiated in both private and public.
Josh Kun, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
Cultural Historian exploring the ways in which the arts and popular culture are conduits to cross-cultural exchange and bringing diverse communities in Los Angeles together around heretofore unnoticed cultural commonalities.
Maggie Nelson, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California
Writer rendering pressing issues of our time into portraits of day-to-day experience in works of nonfiction marked by dynamic interplay between personal experience and critical theory.
Claudia Rankine, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
Poet crafting critical texts for understanding American culture at the beginning of the twenty-first century in inventive, ever-evolving forms of poetic expression.
Lauren Redniss, Parsons, The New School for Design, New York, New York
Artist and Writer fusing artwork, written text, and design in a unique approach to visual nonfiction that enriches the ways in which stories can be conveyed, experienced, and understood.
Sarah Stillman, The New Yorker, New York, New York
Long-Form Journalist bringing to light the stories of people usually invisible to mainstream reporting and providing new and compelling perspectives on even well-covered social justice issues.
Gene Luen Yang, San Jose, California
Graphic Novelist bringing diverse people and cultures to children’s and young adult literature and confirming comics’ place as an important creative and imaginative force within literature, art, and education.

 

(4) GENRE REALITY. Ann Leckie takes a swing at defining “Real Science Fiction” by looking at a negative definition.

It is notoriously difficult to define “science fiction” but a common attempt to do so–to wall off stuff that isn’t “really” science fiction from the proper stuff–is to assert that a real science fiction story wouldn’t survive the removal of the science fictiony bits, where, I don’t know, I guess “fake” science fiction is just Westerns with spaceships instead of horses or somesuch….

And I can’t help noticing how often this particular criterion is used to delegitimize stories as “real” science fiction that by any other measure would more than qualify. It’s not just that the critic doesn’t really like this work, no, sadly the story is just not “really” science fiction, because if you take away the robots and the spaceships and the cloning and the black holes and the aliens and the interstellar civilizations and the fact that it’s set way in the future, well, it’s still a story about people wanting something and struggling to get it. Not really science fiction, see?

(5) SCHEINMAN OBIT. How “The Day the Earth Stood Still” became the impetus for the creation of assembly-line robots. From a New York Times obituary.

Victor Scheinman [1942-2016], who overcame his boyhood nightmares about a science-fiction movie humanoid to build the first successful electrically powered, computer-controlled industrial robot, died on Tuesday in Petrolia, Calif. He was 73.

His brother, Dr. Richard Scheinman, said the cause was complications of heart disease. He said he had been driving his brother to visit Dr. Scheinman’s home in Northern California when he apparently had a heart attack. He lived in Woodside, near Palo Alto, Calif.

Mr. Scheinman was part of Stanford University’s mechanical engineering department when, in 1969, he developed a programmable six-jointed robot that was named the Stanford Arm.

It was adapted by manufacturers to become the leading robot in assembling and spot-welding products, ranging from fuel pumps and windshield wipers for automobiles to inkjet cartridges for printers. Its ability to perform repeatable functions continuously equaled or surpassed that of human workers.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

Born September 22, 1982 — Billie Piper. Order your Rose Tyler action figure now!

billie-piper-rose-tyler-series-4-side

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • September 22 – Bilbo
  • September 22 — Frodo

(8) YOUR PATRONUS. “Now Pottermore Lets You Find Out Your Patronus (J.K. Rowling Got a Heron)”io9 has the story.

The latest feature on Pottermore, the ever-expanding home of Harry Potter content, is a quiz designed by J.K. Rowling to tell you what your Patronus is.

In case you’d forgotten, a Patronus is a spell conjured by a happy memory and the incantation “Expecto patronum!” The Patronus takes the form of a silvery animal that protects against the soul-crushing depression caused by exposure to Dementors.

The test on Pottermore, like all Pottermore quizzes, is multiple choice. Only instead of answering a question, two or three words pop up and you have a short time to click one instinctively. No thoughts needed or wanted.

(9) KEN LIU TRANSLATIONS. Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction from editor/translator Ken Liu will be released November 1, 2016. Here’s more information plus the Table of Contents.

Award-winning translator and author Ken Liu presents a collection of short speculative fiction from China.

Some stories have won awards; some have been included in various ‘Year’s Best’ anthologies; some have been well reviewed by critics and readers; and some are simply Ken’s personal favorites. Many of the authors collected here (with the obvious exception of Liu Cixin) belong to the younger generation of ‘rising stars’.

In addition, three essays at the end of the book explore Chinese science fiction. Liu Cixin’s essay, The Worst of All Possible Universes and The Best of All Possible Earths, gives a historical overview of SF in China and situates his own rise to prominence as the premier Chinese author within that context. Chen Qiufan’s The Torn Generation gives the view of a younger generation of authors trying to come to terms with the tumultuous transformations around them. Finally, Xia Jia, who holds the first Ph.D. issued for the study of Chinese SF, asks What Makes Chinese Science Fiction Chinese?.

Full table of contents:

  • Introduction: Chinese Science Fiction in Translation

Chen Qiufan

  • The Year of the Rat
  • The Fish of Lijiang
  • The Flower of Shazui

Xia Jia

  • A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight
  • Tongtong’s Summer
  • Night Journey of the Dragon-Horse (unpublished)

Ma Boyong

  • The City of Silence

Hao Jingfang

  • Invisible Planets
  • Folding Beijing

Tang Fei

  • Call Girl

Cheng Jingbo

  • Grave of the Fireflies

Liu Cixin

  • The Circle
  • Taking Care of God

Essays

  • The Worst of All Possible Universes and the Best of All Possible Earths: Three-Body and Chinese Science Fiction
  • The Torn Generation: Chinese Science Fiction in a Culture in Transition
  • What Makes Chinese Science Fiction Chinese?

(10) BANDERSNATCH. Diana Pavlac Glyer’s book about the Inklings, Bandersnatch, was released in January 2016. Here was one of the ads from last year encouraging people to pre-order….

gilligan-bandersnatch

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Darrah Chavey, Dawn Incognito, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stores. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bruce Arthurs.]

Pixel Scroll 7/30/16 Two Pixels Diverged In A Scroll, And I – I Took The One That Had The Most Bacon

(1) ALWAYS TO CALL IT RESEARCH. An appeals court affirmed that Luc Besson’s Lockout plagiarized John Carpenter’s Escape From New York.

The French filmmaker will have to fork over nearly half a million dollars

An appeals court has ruled that French filmmaker Luc Besson is guilty of plagiarizing from John Carpenter’s 1981 classic “Escape From New York” and must now pay the fellow filmmaker nearly half a million dollars.

As Yahoo reports, Besson has long denied that his 2012 thriller, “Lockout,” was a copy of Carpenter’s Kurt Russell-starring actioner. In Carpenter’s film, Russell plays a former government agent who is tasked with retrieving the U.S. president from the island of Manhattan — which has been turned into a massive prison — after his plane crashes there (thanks, Air Force One, thanks a lot). In “Lockout,” Pearce is a convict sent to a giant space jail who is given the chance to win back his freedom if he can rescue the U.S. president’s daughter, who is trapped in said giant space jail.

The court ruled that Besson’s film had “massively borrowed key elements” of Carpenter’s feature…

[Via Ansible Links.]

(2) MIDAMERICON LOSES HOTEL. The MidAmeriCon II committee announced on Facebook that one of its hotels will be unavailable, and members who reserved there are being shifted elsewhere:

HOTEL UPDATE: The Courtyard/Residence Inn has let us know that their construction has run over schedule and they will not be open in time for MidAmeriCon II. We have been working with their staff and Passkey to contact those displaced to advise them of the situation and to find our members a hotel room with one of our other contracted properties. Please be aware that the new reservations will not be in the individual hotel systems until later this week. Once that occurs, the affected members will be contacted with information on where they have been relocated and provided new confirmations. Any questions can be sent to hotel@midamericon2.org.

(3) FURNISHING THE NEXT STAR TREK. iDigital Times learned that “’Star Trek: Discovery’ Ship Has Its Captain’s Chair”.

Star Trek: Discovery showrunner Bryan Fuller revealed the captain’s chair aboard the starship U.S.S. Discovery NCC-1031. It’s very much in line with classic captains’ seats, with the swept open armrests of Jean-Luc Picard’s luxurious, tan cathedra.

 

(4) THE PRICE OF FAME. Of course, by “the price of fame” we mean what price the fans will pay. CNN Money has the going rates: “Want a picture with Captain Kirk? That’ll be $100”.

Star Trek’s massive 50th anniversary convention starts next week in Las Vegas, and celebrities have posted their prices for photos with fans.

…Resistance is, of course, futile.

Older actors who starred in Star Trek: The Original Series from the 1960s charge higher prices. And the clairvoyant Whoopi Goldberg tops the charts.

(5) OWL SERVICE. A gig on Fiverr: “I will design a Harry Potter Hogwarts Personalized Acceptance Letter for $5”.

acceptance letter

Have you been waiting forever for your special letter to come? OMG! Don’t wait anymore! You can receive your very own letter, stating that you’ve been accepted to Hogwarts and feel the magic! Makes the perfect Hogwarts gift for anyone of any age and it is fully personalised with their very own name and address.!

What you get is a PDF file – when you pay only $5, you have to provide your own bells and whistles….

(6) THE DISNEY-TOLKIEN INTERSECTION. The original story is on Cracked, but this Hello Giggles writer explains it more clearly. Maybe that’s because she’s sober. “This insane theory says ‘Snow White’ is a sequel to ‘Lord of the Rings’”

While Snow White’s dwarfs seem pretty standard—they’re short, unsocial, and obsessed with treasure—Diplotti explains that Tolkien took many of the names of his dwarves from a centuries-old Norse epic called the Voluspa, which has a section devoted to dwarf names and their meanings. Durin? That’s “Sleepy,” thank you very much. Dwalin, or “Dvalinn” in the “Voluspa,” is torpid, lazy, or sleepy. Oin? That would be “shy,” a.k.a. “bashful.” Well, that’s creepy!

(7) LIFE IS NOT A REHEARSAL. As Kameron Hurley frees herself, she offers hope to other writers: “You Don’t Owe Anyone Your Time”.

Certainly one in a position of privilege does have a moral imperative to state, “This atrocity is wrong.” But when you buckle down to engage the haters on any issue, consider what your end goal is in having that conversation, and consider what other valuable work you could be doing with that time. I can pretty much guarantee you that, say, writing The Geek Feminist Revolution and getting it into people’s hands was worth about a billion times more than spending that time arguing with dudes on the internet who were just there to distract me. They aren’t here to change minds. They are here to keep us from doing the work that changes the world.

We all have a finite amount of time on this earth. Those of us with chronic illness or who have had near-death experiences appreciate that more than others. I feel that it’s my moral imperative to remind you that you could get hit by a bus tomorrow. And if you did, would you regret how you’d spend the hour, the day, the week, the month, the year before?

My goal is to live the sort of life where I won’t feel I’ve wasted my time if I die tomorrow. It has kept me on target through a lot of bullshit. The truth is that all this shit is made up, and because it’s made up, it can be remade. But only if we focus our efforts on creating the work that moves the conversation forward, instead of letting ourselves get caught up in the distraction.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 30, 1932 — Walt Disney released his first color cartoon, “Flowers and Trees,” made in three-color Technicolor.
  • July 30, 1999Blair Witch Project released

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY TERMINATOR

  • Born July 30, 1947 — Arnold Schwarzenegger

(10) BANG THE GAVEL SLOWLY. Frank Darabont is auctioning off rare Hollywood memorabilia. The Hollywood Reporter explains:

Frank Darabont, the filmmaker behind The Shawshank Redemption who helped launch The Walking Dead on AMC, is parting ways with some of his most prized possessions.

The director is putting more than two dozen rare items up for the gavel Saturday as part of Profiles in History’s art and movie memorabilia auction — including plenty of items that would make fanboys and fangirls weak in the knees.

“One thing I’ve always known is this amazing art wouldn’t be mine forever. It couldn’t be. We don’t own these things. We can only be their caretakers for a time, enjoying them as much as possible until inevitably they must pass on to the next caretaker” Darabont said in a statement. “For me, that time has come. I won’t lie to you and say that parting with these things is easy. Trust me, it really, really isn’t. But the time for everything passes, and so has my position as caretaker. I will be ever grateful for the joy these wonderful pieces of art have brought me. I can only hope that they will bring their next caretakers (and all caretakers after that, ad infinitum) equal or greater joy.”

And Art Daily has more details about the items going up for auction.

Following the hugely successful sale of Frank Frazetta art from the collection of Dave Winiewicz, this unique auction will be presented in two sessions. Session One, The Frank Darabont Collection, includes original works by master artists Bernie Wrightson, Mike Mignola, Sanjulian, Jack Davis, Will Eisner, Eric Powell, Bob Peak, Rich Corben, Vaughn Bode, a bronze of the “Cyclops” creature by Ray Harryhausen, and rare movie posters including the only known Frankenstein 1941 Italian 4-fogli, and much more.

Session Two comprises a superb collection of vintage comic and illustration artwork featuring the finest original oil paintings by Frank Frazetta ever offered at auction, including “Sea Witch” (pre-sale estimate of $1,000,000 – $1,500,000) and “Bran Mak Morn” (pre-sale estimate of ($450,000 – $550,000), the most expensive Frazetta paintings ever offered at auction. These two paintings have never been offered for sale. The sale also features a wealth of works by “The Studio” artists Bernie Wrightson, Mike Kaluta, Jeffery Jones, and Barry Windsor-Smith, as well as Spider-Man art by John Romita, a Golden Age cover by Jack Kirby, horror and fantasy art by Richard Corben, an important work by John Buscema, among many other pieces by notable masters of the comic medium. Most of these works have been hidden away in private collections for decades, and this sale represents the first and likely only chance to obtain them.

 

(11) AUSTRALIA IS ON THE MOVE – LITERALLY. The BBC tells why “Australia plans new co-ordinates to fix sat-nav gap”

Because of the movement of the Earth’s tectonic plates, these local co-ordinates drift apart from the Earth’s global co-ordinates over time.

“If you want to start using driverless cars, accurate map information is fundamental,” said Mr Jaksa.

“We have tractors in Australia starting to go around farms without a driver, and if the information about the farm doesn’t line up with the co-ordinates coming out of the navigation system there will be problems.”

The Geocentric Datum of Australia, the country’s local co-ordinate system, was last updated in 1994. Since then, Australia has moved about 1.5 metres north.

So on 1 January 2017, the country’s local co-ordinates will also be shifted further north – by 1.8m.

Chip Hitchcock commented, when he sent the link: “A fascinating reminder that the world we live on is still changing. (I’d love to see comparable numbers for the US, cf the Grand Canyon docent snarking ‘If you want to go to Europe this is the year, because it will never be any closer.’) The story also quotes a claim that this inaccuracy affects self-driving cars, but I’d hope such cars would rely on immediate observation rather than stored memories of coordinates of fixed objects like curbs.”

(12) THE SHARK, DEAR. The Wrap reviews the sequel a day before it airs on SyFy: “’Sharknado 4’ Review: This Joke Has No Teeth Anymore”.

A joke might be funny the first time, but by the fourth time you hear it, the punchline gets tired.

“Tired” is a good description for “Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens,” which premieres Sunday on Syfy. Although the parody movie is as absurd and silly as the first three installments were, this time around the whole thing feels forced.

On one hand, you can tell stars Ian Ziering, Tara Reid and David Hasselhoff are having fun. Ziering even manages to mock his stint as a Chippendales dancer. But the novelty of this campy killer-shark franchise has clearly worn off, and now the nudges and winks from the made-for-TV flick’s cast and writers border on punishing.

(13) SOUTH KOREA’S GAMERGATE? NPR raises the spectre that “South Korea Is Contending With A ‘Gamergate’ Of Its Own – Over A T-Shirt”.

An online controversy over a South Korean voice actress’s tweeted image of a T-shirt has escalated into what is now being called East Asia’s version of Gamergate — a reference to the vitriolic controversy that pitted gamers, largely men, against women in tech.

Twelve hours after posting a photo of a shirt reading “Girls Do Not Need A Prince,” Kim Jayeon — who had been providing a voice for the popular video game Closers — was out of her job.

Part of the problem was the source of the shirt. It’s put out by Megalia4, a South Korean feminist group.

When Kim’s tweet surfaced on July 18, scores of male gamers demanded that she apologize for supporting what they call a “anti-man hate group.” When Kim refused to budge, they bombarded Nexon, her employer and publisher of Closers, with complaints and refund requests, and soon, she was out.

“We have to be responsive to our customers’ opinions,” Nexon told The Hankyoreh, a South Korean news outlet. “The voice actress exacerbated the issue by posting inflammatory tweets such as ‘what’s wrong with supporting Megalia?'”

(14) HANDICAPPING THE HUGOS: This reader predicts Chuck Tingle will get a rocket.

(15) MACII ONLINE PRE-REG ENDS AUGUST 5.

MidAmeriCon II will be closing online pre-registration for all classes of membership on Friday, August 5, 2016.  Fans planning to attend the convention are encouraged to buy their membership before this date, both to take advantage of the best membership rates and for maximum convenience when they arrive at the convention. Full (five-day) Adult Attending Membership rates will increase from $210 now to $240 at the door, while Young Adult and Military Attending Membership rates will increase from $100 now to $120 at the door. Pre-registered members may collect their badges and other membership materials from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, August 15 and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, August 16.  Members who can collect their materials on these days can expect to benefit from reduced waiting times.

Full details of all MidAmeriCon II membership categories and rates, as well as at-con opening hours, can be found on the convention website at http://midamericon2.org/home/registration-hotel-member-information/registration/.

(16) YELLOW F&SF DAYS. Paul Fraser at About SF Magazines provides a retro review of “The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction #5, December 1950”.

(17) TREK BREW. The Nerdist relays plans to “Celebrate 50 years of Star Trek with golden anniversary beer”.

Trek Pale Ale

A quote:

“Star Trek Golden Anniversary Ale: The Trouble With Tribbles” will debut at the premiere of Star Trek Beyond, at the IMAX Embarcadero Marina Park on July 20, and Comic-Con at the San Diego Convention Center on July 21 – 24. It will also available at the “Star Trek Las Vegas” convention at the Rio Hotel & Casino from August 3 – 7, 2016. Then in the fall, Shmaltz will bring Voyage to the Northeast Quadrant to the Mission New York Convention at the Javits Center from September 2 – 4, 2016.

(18) JULES VERNE MOVIE. The Galactic Journey crew was among the first to see what they dubbed “[July 30, 1961] 20,000 Leagues in a Balloon (Jules Vern’s Mysterious Island)”.

Perhaps the most famous of Verne’s protagonists is Captain Nemo, skipper of the magnificent submarine, the Nautilus.  In 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, adapted to film in 1953, Nemo led a one-man crusade against war, sinking the world’s warships in the cause of pacifism.

My daughter and I just came back from the premiere of Mysterious Island, the latest translation of a Verne novel.  It is a sequel of sorts to 20,000 Leagues, though this is not immediately apparent from the beginning.  The initial setting is the siege of Richmond at the end of the American Civil War.  Four Yankee prisoners make a daring escape in a balloon along with an initially wary, but ultimately game, Confederate prisoner.  The film begins with no indication of where it’s going other than the title (and the mention of Nemo in the cast list – an unfortunate spoiler).

(19) APOLLO TREK. Space.com’s Leonard David has a piece about how George Takei and Buzz Aldrin got an assist from William Shatner to celebrate the 47th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing and the 50th anniversary of Star Trek at Cape Canaveral.

An audience of some 250 people took part in the evening event, which was dominated by a huge Saturn 5 moon rocket perched overhead. The occasion raised funds for Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s ShareSpace Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring children to be passionate about science, technology, engineering, the arts and math.

The anniversary gala was hosted by George Takei, best known for his portrayal of Mr. Sulu in the original “Star Trek” TV series and movies….

Takei had a special surprise video beamed in from one of his “Star Trek” crewmates — William Shatner, who played USS Enterprise Capt. James T. Kirk.

Shatner said he wished he could be present at the Apollo 11 anniversary event. He was in Los Angeles, tied to a previous engagement with the other starship captains of “Star Trek” celebrating the past 50 years, Shatner said.

(20) UNSPARING CHANGE. Black Gate’s Derek Kunsken experiences “A Tremendously Disappointing Re-Read: The Soaked-in Misogyny of Piers Anthony’s Xanth”

How bad is the sexism and misogyny? I mean, can we cut it some slack because it was published in 1977?

Um. No. The 1970s were the 1970s, but there were still lots of remarkable writers creating compelling stories with well-rounded characters back then.

All the female characters in the first two novels occupy a narrow range of man-created stereotyped roles that were already fossils in the 1970s. Anthony has:

  1. the dumb love interest,
  2. the smart love interest,
  3. the nagging love interest, and
  4. the cautionary tales for Bink’s choice of love interest.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Keith Kato, Martin Morse Wooster, Dawn Incognito, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Benford Reviews Bandersnatch

Bandersnatch coverBandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings by Diana Pavlac Glyer, illustrations by James A. Owen (Kent State University Press, 2016)

By Gregory Benford: I recommend this excellent study, from which I learned much: about the Inklings, and how creative intersections fuel greatness. I can’t think of any depiction of group inspiration that makes it point so specifically, citing text, and so well. How unpredictable a collective of agreeable creators can be! I’d never have guessed that C.S. Lewis and Tolkien began writing their great series of novels—Out of the Silent Planet etc; Lord of the Rings etc) on a resolve to both write imaginative adventure, and decided on subject (space travel vs time travel) on the toss of a coin! What if it had gone the other way?

Bandersnatch’s more valuable lesson is showing in detail the way the writing community of Inklings worked in a range of ways, encouraging but not getting into critical derogation. Writers might well extrapolate from that to get more from their own creative communities, workshops and even online groups.

More Fantasy Beers

File 770 has covered a lot of Lovecraft-related beers. But if you’re a Tolkien fan, where is the beer for you?

Well, Massachusetts’s Night Shift Brewing has come out with Second Breakfast, a Baltic porter. They then barrel aged that beer in brandy casks and came up with Elevensies, a very limited edition.

Elevensies

Or if you’re a George R.R. Martin fan, Ommegang has a new release in their Game of Thrones line: Seven Kingdoms Hoppy Wheat Ale, which was released this month to coincide with Season 6.

Seven Kingdoms follows the re-release of the first two Game of Thrones-inspired beers, Iron Throne Blonde Ale and Take the Black Stout (fall 2015 and spring/fall 2013), Three-Eyed Raven Dark Saison (spring 2015), Valar Morghulis (fall 2014), and Fire and Blood Red Ale (spring 2014). Due to the popularity of this series of beers, Seven Kingdoms will be brewed at 3.5 times the volume of the first beer released in spring 2013. It will be available nationally in March 2016 on draft and in 750ml bottles for the suggested retail price $9.99 per bottle.

Ommegang-Seven-Kingdoms-Bottle-750ml_FINAL COMP

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 2/29/16 Leap Scroll

Your host will be on the road for a couple days attending Nic Farey’s wedding to Jennifer AlLee on February 29. I have prepared a couple of Scrolls in advance.

(1) A RINGING ENDORSEMENT. Tor.com has the story – “Star Trek’s Best Writer/Director EVER Has Joined the Crew of CBS’ New Star Trek TV Show”.

Star Trek fans of every shade just received the best news: writer/director Nicholas Meyer is joining CBS’ new Star Trek television show, which is set to debut in 2017 with Bryan Fuller producing.

Not sure who Nicholas Meyer is? He’s the guy who saved Star Trek from obscurity and made it smarter than you ever realized. Here’s why this is possibly the best geek-related news of the past 20 years.

(2) AUTUN PURSER. See Autun Purser Illustration, the online gallery, portfolio and shop for a gifted part-time illustrator and full-time deep sea ecologist.

I am a lifelong science fiction fan and I have enjoyed some success with my series of travel posters, advertising travel to destinations from unusual fiction — the ‘Fantastic Travel Destinations’. The majority of these are available for print purchase direct, or from various bookshops and conventions.

Click to see the artist’s fantastic travel posters – first up, Arrakis. Purser also did the cover and some of the interiors for the 24th issue of the Hugo-winning Journey Planet, plus artwork for Gollancz covers, and numerous other works.

(3) DELANY. Here’s a one-hour interview with Samuel R. Delany at the University of Pennsylvania on February 16.

(4) ELIZABETH EISENSTEIN OBIT. Elizabeth Eisenstein died January 31 at the age of 92 reports the New York Times.

A retired faculty member of the University of Michigan, Professor Eisenstein was renowned for “The Printing Press as an Agent of Change: Communications and Cultural Transformations in Early Modern Europe,” first published in 1979. Spanning two volumes and nearly 800 pages, the work has been translated into many languages and remains in print…..

“It’s quite unusual for an academic book to achieve its 25th anniversary and still be vital to the discourse in the field,” Professor Baron, a historian at the University of Maryland, said. “Her book continues to be reviewed as if it just came out.”

In “The Printing Press as an Agent of Change,” Professor Eisenstein argued that the development of movable type by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-15th century helped inaugurate a set of sweeping social changes thanks to the authoritative, widely tangible dissemination of information it allowed.

“What printing did was to standardize texts,” Professor Baron explained. “So you would have numerous people all over Europe reading exactly the same thing. Information had a much greater reach, a much wider audience, a much greater impact.”

(5) TERRI WINDLING’S QUIET MORNING. Artist Terri Windling, in “A Quiet Morning in the Studio”, uses a compelling 1974 essay by Ursula K. Le Guin as the frame for some fine dragon and unicorn pencil drawings, and a couple of dog photographs.

(6) NEXT COMPANION. Screen Rant speculates about 12 actors whose selection as the next companion would be a Doctor Who dream cast. Number 6 —

Eleanor Tomlinson is known for a variety of roles, most recently that of Georgiana Darcy in the BBC Miniseries Death Comes to Pemberley and currently as Demelza Poldark in Poldark. Still relatively young and establishing her place in the British acting world, a companion role on Doctor Who would serve not only to bring awareness to her talent, but also help guide her in refining her skills.

Tomlinson’s sweet, young and endearing nature would allow audiences to relate to her and set her up to become a fan favorite. But much like Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), youth would give younger Whovians a reason to connect with her and be impressed by the talent she brings to the role. Tomlinson would play off Capaldi’s Doctor extremely well.

(7) NOT ENTIRELY ALTERNATE HISTORY. Destination Planet Negro by Kevin Wilmott (co-writer of Spike Lee’s Chiraq). Release date May 20, 2016.

“Three brave explorers in search of a better place… instead found Kansas City…”

I’m not making this up! But the trailer has a review quote from Ray Bradbury, so somebody’s making it up…

(8) MAYBE THERE’S STILL SOME LUCK IN IT. During Heritage Auction’s Rare Books Signature Auction on April 6 the public will have a chance to bid on assorted Harry Potter items – including the very chair used by J.K. Rowling as she wrote the first two books of the Harry potter series.

In 2002, she decorated one of the chairs from her welfare days—taking care to paint “I wrote Harry Potter while sitting in this chair” on the seat’s apron—and donated it to a private charity auction for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Her philanthropy inspired her fans as well who used their own communities to bring awareness to social causes, including the non-profit organization The Harry Potter Alliance.

(9) CTHULHU BREW. Narragansett has introduced I Am Providence Imperial Red Ale.

Narrr beer COMP

Taste & Enjoy:  I Am Providence pours a mysterious dark red with a complex amalgam of flavors. The blend of malts lead to flavors of biscuits and sweet caramel, and the Warrior and Citra hops bring aromas of pine and citrus that meld on the palate to create an intriguing balance.

The History: The latest chapter in the Lovecraft Series pays tribute to Lovecraft’s adoration for his hometown by heralding his famous words – “I Am Providence.” Later inscribed on his gravestone in 1977, this resonant phrase lives on as a tribute to Lovecraft and anyone who has ever called Providence home.

(10) ANOTHER TOLKIEN. Simon Tolkien, grandson of J. R. R. Tolkien, and the eldest child of Christopher Tolkien, is keeping up a family tradition. From Publisher’s Lunch:

Simon Tolkien’s NO MAN’S LAND, the story of a boy who grows up between the turbulent years of 1909 to 1919, starting life as an impoverished child in London who moves to a hard-living coal mining community and is subsequently adopted by the wealthy owner of an Edwardian country house, where he and the owner’s younger son become fierce rivals for the same girl, a rivalry that leads them to develop a murderous hatred for one another which affects all the characters around them, in a novel of faith, class, and war including the horrors of the Battle of the Somme which has profound effects on them all, [sold] to Nan Talese at Nan A. Talese, in a pre-empt, by [agent] Marly Rusoff at Marly Rusoff & Associates (NA).

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

Pixel Scroll 2/8/16 One Scroll I Sing, A Simple Separate Pixel

(1) WHEN GRAVITY DOESN’T FAIL. NDTV headline: “Announcement Thursday On Albert Einstein’s Gravitational Waves”:

“My earlier rumor about LIGO has been confirmed by independent sources. Stay tuned! Gravitational waves may have been discovered!! Exciting,” said a message on Twitter from Arizona State University cosmologist Lawrence Krauss, who does not work with LIGO.

His words sparked a firestorm of speculation.

An announcement will be made Thursday at 10:30 am (1530 GMT) at the National Press Club in the US capital Washington.

The event brings “together scientists from Caltech, MIT and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration to update the scientific community on efforts to detect them,” a National Science Foundation statement read.

They will provide “a status report on the effort to detect gravitational waves — or ripples in the fabric of spacetime — using the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO),” it said.

LIGO is a dual set of identical detectors built by scientists at MIT and Caltech to pick up “incredibly tiny vibrations from passing gravitational waves,” said the statement.

(2) CHINESE STAR WARS. “Red ‘Star Wars’: How China used pirate comic to promote science in 1980s”  at Japan Times.

Song Feideng

Song Feideng

A long time ago in a country far, far away, Chinese authorities managed to obtain a copy of America’s ultimate cultural weapon: a blockbuster movie with enough special effects to wow an entire planet.

Summoned to a small theater in the southern city of Guangzhou in 1980, artist Song Feideng was shown “Star Wars” and instructed to transform it into a traditional Chinese comic book, known as a “lianhuanhua,” to promote scientific achievement in China.

Song was one of the first people in China to see George Lucas’ magnum opus at a time when it was still banned — a marked contrast to the status of the series’ most recent installment in a market that Hollywood increasingly sees as crucial to success.

“The objective was to take the world’s advanced science and popularize it in China,” Song, who worked for a state-owned publisher at the time, said in an interview.

He replaced the movie’s X-wing spacecraft with Soviet rockets and jet fighters. In one illustration, Luke Skywalker wears a cosmonaut’s bulky spacesuit and rebel leaders are dressed in Western business suits. Darth Vader appears alongside a triceratops.

(3) AND YOU CAN READ IT IN ENGLISH. The whole comic has been translated by Nick Stember — Star Wars comic part 1-6.

Chinese_star_wars_comic_manhua_llianhuanhua6-1024x792

(4) GENIUS CLUSTER. “Alice Cooper on His Dinner With David Bowie and Ray Bradbury” at Rolling Stone.

After Cooper’s initial meeting with Bowie in the late Sixties, they later forged a friendship. Once, they even had dinner together with Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury. “It was really interesting, because these guys were in outer space somewhere,” he says. “They were talking about quantum physics, and I’m going, ‘So … what kind of car are you driving?'” Cooper laughs.

Does Cooper know how funny that question really was? Despite living in LA, Bradbury famously didn’t drive.

(5) NUMBERS THAT MATTER. What File 770 reader can resist a series titled “Five Books About”? Marc Turner’s contribution is “Five Books Where Dragons Are Put In Their Place” at Tor.com.

Dragons may be a trope of the epic fantasy genre, but they are a trope I suspect I will never tire of. My new book, Dragon Hunters, might just have one or two of the creatures lurking within its pages.

Whenever you encounter a dragon, it’s usually the apex predator of its world. But invincible? Certainly not. There’s a quote I recall from Neil Gaiman’s Coraline (paraphrasing G.K. Chesterton) that goes: “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

His first choice is Smaug.

(6) WHERE SAWYER BEGAN. Robert J. Sawyer’s first SF publication was in The Village Voice in 1981.

I’d had an earlier fantasy publication (“The Contest,” in the 1980 edition of White Wall Review, the literary annual of my alma mater, Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, edited by Ed Greenwood, who created the “Forgotten Realms” for Dungeons & Dragons), and I’d sold a science-fiction story to be produced as a a planetarium starshow), but that was my first science-fiction publication — and it came out exactly 35 years ago today.

That story appeared in the 14-20 January 1981 issued of The Village Voice: The Weekly Newspaper of New York, as a winner in a ten-week contest they were running called “Sci-Fi Scenes,” featured in the “Scenes” column by Howard Smith & Lin Harris.

The rules required a story of exactly 250 words — no more, no less (title words didn’t count, a fact I took full advantage of).

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born February 8, 1828 – Jules Verne.

(8) EVEN BAT DURSTON LOST? Charlie Jane Anders tells the story of “That Time When a Fake Science Fiction Author Won a Major Novel-Writing Prize” at io9.

Back in 1953, Galaxy Science Fiction and Simon & Schuster launched a huge contest to find a great new science fiction novel. The prize was $6,500 (a lot of money in those days). The winner? A brand new writer named Edson McCann. Except for one thing: Edson McCann did not exist.

It was a pretty disgraceful scam, everything considered.

(9) PUPPIES MARCH ON. Vox Day announced the next addition to his slate – “Rabid Puppies 2016: Best Editor (Long-form”).

  • Anne Sowards, Penguin
  • Bryan Thomas Schmidt, independent
  • Mike Braff, Del Rey
  • Toni Weisskopf, Baen Books
  • Vox Day, Castalia House

(10) LURKER REQUEST. People are welcome to ask questions like this in a comment on the Scroll. I received this one as an e-mail query:

I was wondering if you recognized this summary, or would be willing to post it (a long shot, I know), to see if someone recognizes it and can give title or author.

Our main character is a women who is involved in a profession that shows a lot of skin; I don’t recall if it’s actress, dancer, sex worker, or what. One day she wakes up in a thick, gray, sack-dress with no recollection of how it could have gotten on her. She can’t take it off and, when she tries to bathe, it sheds material but doesn’t wash away. It turns out that a Moral Majority opponent of hers has figured out how to program nanobots to turn out this cloth, and has set it in a cloud around her. He and his congregation wear it as well, I think? I know that the climax of the story involves that as a plot-point, along with some clever reverse-engineering on what wavelengths the nano-cloth passes or reflects…

Sound familiar to anyone?

(11) HIS FIELD OF EXPERIENCE. Never let it be said that Neil deGrasse Tyson missed a chance to talk science.

(12) SPORTS JOKE. For those who are interested enough in US sports to get the joke, a parody of a series of NFL promos aired during yesterday’s Super Bowl broadcast.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Alan Baumler for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Henley.]

Pixel Scroll 1/19/16 That Wretched Hive of Scrolls and Pixelry

(1) LE GUIN’S PROTEST. Ursula K. Le Guin’s letter to the editor in The Oregonian concisely explains the injustice of allowing Ammon Bundy and company to continue occupying a federal wildlife refuge.

Federal land: The Oregonian’s A1 headline on Sunday, Jan. 17, “Effort to free federal lands,” is inaccurate and irresponsible. The article that follows it is a mere mouthpiece for the scofflaws illegally occupying public buildings and land, repeating their lies and distortions of history and law.

Ammon Bundy and his bullyboys aren’t trying to free federal lands, but to hold them hostage. I can’t go to the Malheur refuge now, though as a citizen of the United States, I own it and have the freedom of it. That’s what public land is: land that belongs to the public — me, you, every law-abiding American. The people it doesn’t belong to and who don’t belong there are those who grabbed it by force of arms, flaunting their contempt for the local citizens.

Those citizens of Harney County have carefully hammered out agreements to manage the refuge in the best interest of landowners, scientists, visitors, tourists, livestock and wildlife. They’re suffering more every day, economically and otherwise, from this invasion by outsiders.

Instead of parroting the meaningless rants of a flock of Right-Winged Loonybirds infesting the refuge, why doesn’t The Oregonian talk to the people who live there?

Ursula K. Le Guin

Northwest Portland

Think Progress has a story about the letter with more comments by Le Guin.

Le Guin told ThinkProgress that the letter was printed unchanged, and she “got a pleasant note informing me it was to be published,” but nothing more from the paper or the author. A request for comment to the Oregonian’s public editor went unanswered as of publication.

The science fiction author is not alone in wanting the ranchers to return Malhuer to the public. Most Western voters, according to a recent poll, disagree with Bundy and do not want the states to take over public lands.

“We have been going out to the Steens Mountain area, on and near the Wildlife Refuge, for 45 years — first to teach summer classes at the field station, later just to be there in the grand high desert country,” she said. “We spend a week every summer on a cattle ranch very close to Refuge lands. I am proud to consider the family who own the ranch and the local hotel as friends, and I have learned a great deal from them. The Refuge Headquarters is a quiet, fragile, beautiful little oasis that is particularly dear to us.”

(2) WHAT IF BOOK FESTIVALS PAY WRITERS? Claire Armitstead’s opinion piece in the Guardian argues the burden of paying writers to attend book festivals would have unintended side-effects: “Book festivals are worth far more than fees”.

Philip Pullman became cheerleader for a growing band of refuseniks last week when he resigned as president of the Oxford literary festival because it didn’t pay speakers. Thirty more writers immediately picked up the chant, with a letter to the trade journal the Bookseller calling for all authors and publishers to boycott festivals that expected writers to appear for free.

…Edinburgh is one of the biggest festivals and an honourable exception to the no-pay rule, offering the same flat rate to all its contributors. But it’s not unusual to hear writers grumbling that this is tokenism, and no recompense for the hours (and expense) of travelling. So what is a reasonable return? Should it be calibrated to audience size, or offset against book sales? Or should it be a flat rate – only bigger than it currently is?

There are now more than 350 literary festivals in the UK, which adds up to a whole heap of calls on writers’ time and energy – and one argument is that if they can’t afford to pay contributors they should simply shut down. But small festivals do more than simply put writers on stage; they support local bookshops and create a buzz around books. They circulate flyers publicising authors and their work. They are part of the great reading group boom that has bolstered book sales by turning reading into a social activity.

…So while I have every sympathy for hard-pressed authors, I feel they need to be careful what they wish for. The logic of the marketplace – in book festivals as in every other arena – is that, were fees to become obligatory, the haves will end up having more, while the have-nots will find themselves banished to outer darkness. It would mean the end of a golden era of access to books and the people who write them. And that would be impoverishing for all of us.

(3) OXFORD MAY PAY WRITERS. Philip Pullman and other protesting writers have made the Oxford Literary Festival consider paying authors.

In a statement issued on Tuesday morning, the Oxford literary festival said that it “recognises and understands the strength of feeling in the literary community regarding the payment of speaker fees to authors and writers and we are sympathetic to this cause”.

But, adding that it is a registered charity that receives no public funding, with no full-time staff, supported by a team of 40 unpaid volunteers, the festival said that “for every £12 ticket sold, a further £20 in support has to be raised from our generous sponsors, partners and donors in subsidy”. The festival’s current supporters include FT Weekend and HSBC.

“We have of course been aware of the debate regarding author payments for some time, but given the limitations of the tight budgets we run to (the festival’s last audited accounts show a loss of £18,000 in 2014) paying each speaker would require an additional 15% in costs or £75,000 for the 500 speakers across our 250 events planned for 2016,” said the festival.

Once this year’s event in April is over, organisers have nonetheless said that they “will meet with all interested parties to discuss how to achieve payment of fees for all speakers – while safeguarding the presence of our record levels of unknown writers for 2017 and beyond”.

(4) ONE LORD A’LEAPING. Middle-Earth political science student Austin Gilkeson lectures on “The Illegitimacy of Aragorn’s Claim to the Throne” at The Toast. (Traffic to the post is hyped by the GIF of a flaming Denethor hurling himself from the promontory of Minas Tirith.)

After the War of the Ring and Denethor’s death, Gondor did embrace Aragorn as its new king, partially because he’d arrived at the head of an army of the Dead. But while “commands a terrifying ghost army” is a fantastic qualification for fronting a Norwegian black metal band or a community Halloween parade, it’s less than ideal for ruling a vast and diverse country of the living.

Even worse, Aragorn’s supposed suitability to rule is directly tied to his pure Númenorean blood….

Given that the Númenoreans ruined their civilization to the point that it was personally destroyed by God Himself, the Gondorrim probably shouldn’t have been so quick to crown a long-lived, pure-blooded Númenorean like Aragorn. They’d probably have been better off elevating Pippin Took to the throne. Hobbits at least dally with the good things in life: hearty food, heady ales, fireworks, and weed.

(5) EVERYMAN HIS OWN NUMENOREAN. Stephen Hawking issued another warning that humanity may wipe itself out in years to come.

Cheery physicist Professor Stephen Hawking says that mankind could be wiped out by our own creations within the next 100 years.

Answering audience questions at this year’s BBC Reith Lectures, he said that our rush to understand and improve life through science and technology could be humanity’s undoing.

He has previously suggested that colonising other planets will be the only way that the human race can survive, but he warns that we may lose Earth to some kind of major disaster before we have a chance to properly do so.

“Although the chance of a disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low,” he explained, “it adds up over time, and becomes a near certainty in the next thousand or ten thousand years.

(6) SFWA KICKS IN. Science Fiction Writers of America has begun donating to some non-members’ crowdfunded self-publishing efforts.

Beginning in January, SFWA will be making small, targeted pledges to worthy Kickstarter projects projects by non-members, designating them a “SFWA Star Project.” Projects will be selected by the Self Publishing Committee, coordinated by volunteer Rob Balder. Selections will be based on the project’s resonance with SFWA’s exempt purposes, and special preference will be given to book-publishing projects in the appropriate genres.

Funds for these pledges will come from the SFWA Givers Fund, from a $1000 pool approved by the Grants Committee in December. When a pledge results in receiving a donor reward such as a signed book, these items will be auctioned off at fundraising events, to help replenish the Givers Fund.

The first two Star Projects are:

SFWA President Cat Rambo also blogged about the initiative.

Over the past few years, I’ve been helping with the effort to open SFWA doors to professional writers publishing outside the traditional structure, to the point where we are the only writers organization (I believe) to accept crowdfunded publications as membership qualifying material. The Star Project effort ties in nicely with that and it’s gratifying to see SFWA continue to expand to match the changing needs of professional F&SF writers.

(7) BETTER THAN THE FILM. Rachael Acks has a completely entertaining and THOROUGHLY SPOILERY review of SyFy’s theatrical release 400 Days. You’ve been warned. And it’s safe to read the first paragraph, where nothing is given away  –

400 Days is the first theatrical release film from a company (SyFy) that’s been cranking mediocre to howlingly (we hope intentionally) funny terribad movies out onto its cable station for years. Getting in to movie theaters is a big deal, a major investment, but doesn’t necessarily guarantee a movie’s actually good, right? Let me tell you, I’d rather watch a SyFy offering any day than Transformers 4. But is this Syfy going legit, so to speak?

(8) RSR INDEXES ARTISTS. Rocket Stack Rank has now added exhibit and viewing tools for a wide number of creators eligible in the Best Professional Artist and Best Fan Artist categories. Gregory N. Hullender says, “The value we’ve added here is that we’ve gathered together hundreds of online images and set up a lightbox so people can riffle through them quickly.”

The drawback to the Best Fan Artist exhibit is that it features only semiprozine cover contributors at the site, and a link to eFanzines’ cover index where one can see some artwork in fanzines produced as PDFs. I will be the first to agree there are technical barriers and questions about permissions in the way of indexing art from PDFs (in contrast to semiprozine covers which are already available online) – however, RSR needs to figure out how to present fan art on a level playing field.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 19, 1990 — Natives of a small isolated town defend themselves against strange underground creatures in Tremors, seen for the first time on this day in 1990.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born January 19, 1809 – Edgar Allan Poe

(11) CONRUNNERS COULD USE MORE FANS LIKE THIS. Icelandic strongman Hafthor Bjornsson, known for his role as “The Mountain” on HBO’s Game of Thrones set a Guiness World Record for being the fastest person to carry two refrigerators 65 feet.

(12) CLEVELAND THANKS THE FANS. In response to a club’s charitable work, “Cleveland celebrates Star Trek’s roots with thank you to The Federation”.

Cleveland City Councilman Martin Keane will present a resolution of appreciation at 7 p.m. PJ McIntyre’s, on Lorain Avenue in Kamm’s Corners, is hosting a celebration from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

According to the resolution, the 60-member Cleveland chapter, named the USS Challenger — named to honor the crew of the ill-fated space shuttle Challenger — has raised $15,000 for local charities, and has conducted annual drives for food for local food banks; supplies for local animal shelters; Toys for Tots campaigns and supported March for Babies, Heartwalk and Laura’s Home.

Given that the reporter pointed to another Cleveland/Star Trek connection — did you know Majel Barrett was a native of suburban Shaker Heights? — it’s a pity no one told her that Roddenberry previewed the show for fans at the 1966 Worldcon in Cleveland.

(13) LOVECRAFT LETTERS. Heritage Auctions will take bids on a parcel of 10 handwritten letters by H. P. Lovecraft at its Rare Books Auction #6155 on April 6. The letters to aspiring author Frederic Jay Pabody are full of writing and publishing advice.

Lovecraft recounts recent visits with his “literary friends” R.H. Barlow and Adolphe de Castro, the suicide of Robert E. Howard, other “weird” fiction authors, the nature of good marriages and bad marriages, religion (or the lack thereof), Atlantis, some splendid passages about the nature of “seriously artistic” weird fiction, and his repeated inveterate hatred of typewriters.

One highlight from the letters includes a hand drawn map or, as Lovecraft calls it, a “rough Mercator’s Projection chart” of Kusha, a land associated with the myth of Atlantis.

Another letter, displaying Lovecraft’s somewhat morbid sense of humor, describes his short story “The Haunter in the Dark”, in which he kills off a character based on his friend and fellow writer Robert Bloch, as “a kind of revenge.”

In both ‘The Dark Demon’ and ‘The Shambler from the Stars’ Bloch has a figure modelled more or less after me come to a hideous end. Well- I’ve survived other fictional deaths – Long having left me as a charred cinder on the floor of my apartment over a decade ago in “The Space-Eaters.” In a recent unpublished mss. Kuttner kills off Bloch, himself, + myself under thin disguises… slaughter de-luxe! I am decapitated – but my head is later found with its teeth buried in his carotid artery. Nice, wholesome ideas the boys have!” (December 20, 1936).

(14) BUGS. Kudos to Black Gate’s John ONeill for turning today’s entomological headline into a beautiful genre blog post – “I Don’t Mean to Alarm Anyone, But We’ve Discovered Giant Insects on Monster Island”.

(15) PEOPLE OF EARTH. TBS has given a series order to People of Earth, a comedy starring Daily Show alum Wyatt Cenac as a skeptical journalist investigating a support group for alleged alien abductees.

In the series, from Conan O’Brien and Greg Daniels (The Office) and formerly known as The Group, Cenac’s Ozzie Graham slowly becomes sympathetic to the survivors’ stories and eventually comes to suspect that maybe he is an abductee, as well.

The cast includes Ana Gasteyer (Suburgatory), Oscar Nuñez (The Office), Michael Cassidy (Men at Work), Da’Vine Joy Randolph (Selfie), Brian Huskey (Veep) and Tracee Chimo (Orange Is the New Black).

 

[Thanks to Will R., Brian Z, Cat Rambo, Jim Reynolds, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]

Pixel Scroll 12/29 ’Twas Pixel, And The Slithy Scrolls Did Gyre And Gimble In The Wabe

(1) LEMMY WAS A FAN. Lemmy of Motörhead fame died last night. But did you know about his love for Science Fiction and Fantasy? See “Parting Shots: Lemmy” reposted from a spring 2011 issue of Relix.

I recently bought a complete set of the Elric of Melniboné fantasy books by Michael Moorcock. One of them is dedicated to you. Are you still friends with him?

Yeah, I haven’t spoken to him in years, though. He’s in Texas someplace. I did want to get in touch with him actually. Somebody was gonna text me his number but they didn’t do it. I must get ahold of him.

In addition to working with Moorcock in Hawkwind, you were in the 1990 movie Hardware. Are you a big science fiction fan?

Yeah, I always liked a bit of sci-fi. My favorite sci-fi author’s someone you’ve probably never heard of – Jack L. Chalker. Try him, he’s good.”

(2) JEMISIN BRANCHES OUT. N. K. Jemisin talks about the debut of her New York Times Book Review column “Otherworldly” in “My New Side Gig”.  (The first installment is already online.)

I’m an eclectic reader, so the new column will obviously feature science fiction, fantasy, horror, some YA, some graphic novels, some anthologies, and even some nonfiction where it impacts the genre. I’ve got no problem with self-published or small-press books, although I believe the NYT has a policy forbidding selfpubs if they can’t be found in “general interest” bookstores, whatever that means. I like books that feature complex characters, period, but stereotypes piss me off and stuff I’ve seen too often bores the shit out of me. I don’t “believe in” the Campbellian Hero’s Journey, for pretty much the same reasons as Laurie Penny. Obviously I’ve got a thing for worldbuilding and secondary world or offworld stuff. I believe wholeheartedly in the idea that we all should get to dream, and I look for books that let me.

(3) FUTURE OF WHO. ScienceFiction.com gives a rundown on the major players signed for the next season of Doctor Who.

Leaving is a constant theme on ‘Doctor Who’ as even the role of the title character regularly shifts to new actors.  This past season saw the departure of the longest running companion in the show’s history, Clara Oswald played by Jenna Coleman.  And recently, the 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi has hinted that he wants to exit in order to focus on directing.  But like Moffat, he is signed on for at least one more season.

Moffat wrote the latest Christmas Special as though it might be his last reports Digital Spy.

Steven Moffat hadn’t signed for a 10th series of Doctor Who when he wrote this year’s Christmas special.

The showrunner told press including Digital Spy that he thought the festive episode could be his last ever for the show.

“I hadn’t signed for next year at that point,” he confirmed. “I have now – unless they fire me, which would be quite sensible!

“I thought it might be the last one, so to get River (Alex Kingston) in – that was bringing me full-circle…”

(4) JANUARY FRIGHT SALE. Cthulhu bedding from Needful Things priced to go at $112.98.

Cozy up with Nyarlathotep on those long, dreary nights with this Cthulhu bedding by Melissa Christie. Set includes one Queen-sized duvet cover (86″x86″) and two pillowcases (20″x30″) printed on 100 percent cotton with eco-friendly inks. Available on white, blue or weirdo purple fabric.

 

Cthulhu bedding

(5) POLAR PUN. James H. Burns writes: “Our friends in Alaska and other areas up North have also long been familiar with ‘The Force.’

“They use their Inuition.”

(6) GROTTA OBIT. Daniel Grotta of Newfoundland passed away December 13 in Philadelphia. He was known for his 1976 biography J.R.R. Tolkien: Architect of Middle Earth, in print for more than 30 years.

(7) BUSINESS SECTION. John Scalzi’s new comment on “Very Important News About my 2016 Novel Release and Other Fiction Plans” also applies to arguments under discussion here.

I understand that one of my constant detractors is asserting that the reason the first book of my new contract comes out in 2017 and not 2016 is because I turned in a manuscript and it was terrible and now Tor is trying to salvage things. This is the same person, if memory serves, who asserted that Lock In was a failure and Tor was planning to dump me, shortly before Tor, in fact, handed me a multi-million dollar contract, which included a sequel to Lock In.

Now, as then, his head is up his ass and he’s speaking on things he knows nothing about. I haven’t turned in a manuscript; there’s no manuscript to turn in. They (remember I’m working on two) haven’t been written yet. To be clear, the only thing I’ve turned in to Tor since submitting my manuscript for The End of All Things is my contract for the next set of books. That was accepted without any additional revision, I would note.

For the avoidance of doubt, you should assume that any speculation about me or my career coming from that quarter is based on equal parts of ignorance, craven maliciousness, and pathetic longing for my attention, and almost certainly false. Anything said by that person about me is likely to be incorrect, down to and including indefinite articles.

(8) LOVE IN THE RUINS. Earlier in the day Scalzi scoffed at another rant in “I Ruin Everything But Mostly Science Fiction”

Here’s the thing: If I ruin the genre of science fiction for you, or if the presence in the genre of people whose politics and positions you don’t like ruins the genre for you — the whole genre, in which hundreds of traditionally published works and thousands of self-and-micro-pubbed works are produced annually — then, one, oh well, and two, you pretty much deserve to have the genre ruined for you. It doesn’t have to be ruined, mind you, because chances are pretty good that within those thousands of works published annually, you’ll find something that rings your bell. And if you do, why should you care about the rest of it? It’s literally not your problem. Find the work you’ll love and then love it, and support the authors who make it, hopefully with money.

(9) ANALYZING HUGO PARTICIPATION. Kevin Standlee is gathering data to help answer whether Hugo voter participation is expanding at the same rate as the eligible voter base.

The figures do show that, broadly speaking, nominating participation for 1971-2008 was generally static in a range of about 400-700 people per year. 2009 was the first year we see a significant up-tick in nominating participation from the previous few years.

What is unclear (and even now still is unclear) is whether the percentage of eligible members is actually increasing. WSFS has been steadily increasing the nominating franchise, bringing in first the previous year’s members and then the following year’s members, so that the eligible nominating electorate is he union of three years of Worldcon members as of January 31 each year, a group that could be more than 20,000 people at times, compared to the fewer than 5,000 previously eligible prior to the expansion of the franchise. It’s actually possible that the percentage of eligible members participating has gone down even as the absolute number of nominations has gone up.

(10) GRRM’S PRO ARTIST RECS. George R.R. Martin recommends four creators for the Best Pro Artist Hugo in “More Hugo Suggestions”.

First: JOHN PICACIO http://www.johnpicacio.com/ Yes, John is a past winner. Truth be told, he is one of the current crop of Usual Suspects. He was nominated for the first time in 2005, and lost. Thereafter he was nominated every year from 2006 to 2011, losing every year and winning a place of honor in the Hugo Losers party… until he finally broke through and won in 2012. He won again in 2013, lost to Julie Dillon in 2014, and was squeezed off the ballot by the Puppies last year.

(11) KEEP THOSE REVIEWS COMING. Another review of “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers” by Federhirn at Bastian’s Book Reviews

It’s a well-written book. The prose flows pleasantly, there is a sense of fun and joyfulness about it, and the story plods along from one feel-good scene to the next. Unfortunately, there isn’t really much of an overarching plot. The story is episodic, with almost every chapter telling a different episode of their journey. It’s a cheerful road movie in space.

One thing which is very obvious is that the story was inspired by Firefly and seemingly created from a wish list of themes and ideas that the people derogatorily called ‘Social Justice Warriors’ might have come up with. (Social Justice Warriors are people who want a more equal world, with opportunities for all, and a more diverse, multicultural, multiracial, multisexual representation of life in fiction)….

(12) PUPPY CENSUS. Brandon Kempner at Chaos Horizons ends the year by “Checking in with Sad Puppies IV”. His count shows John C. Wright’s novel Somewhither currently has 12 recommendations, more than any other.

(13) EMPIRE BEAUTY PAGEANT. Jeff Somers at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog nominates “The 6 Most Fascinating Galactic Empires Outside of Star Wars”.

Invariably, when the topic of galactic empires comes up, someone will reference Star Wars—the muddy details of the Empire’s economy and structure, maybe a few pointed jokes about trade disputes. Yet as cool as some of the principal officials of the Empire’s vast bureaucracy are (do we ever find out Darth Vader’s official title? Does he get a pension?), the Empire is actually only the eighth or ninth most interesting galactic empire in science fiction. Which ones are more exciting? Glad you asked: Here are the six most interesting empires stretching across time and space in SF lit.

(14) CLASSIC TREK. A 16mm print of the second Star Trek pilot preserves an experiment with a radically different style of introduction. The smiling Spock in the first scene is even more unexpected.

The original print from Star Trek’s 2nd pilot was never aired in this format. Had different opening narration, credits, had acts 1 thru 4 like an old quinn martin show and had scenes cut from aired version and different end credits and music. The original 16mm print is now stored in the Smithsonian oddly enough the soundtrack for this version was released with the cage.

 

[Thanks to Jim Meadows, Andrew Porter, Hampus Eckerman, John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA. ]

The Doctor Makes A House Call

Will Peter Jackson direct an episode of Doctor Who? In a video shot at his home in New Zealand, Jackson and his daughter Katie converse about Steven Moffatt’s efforts to sign him for the series.

The byplay is described in the Guardian, including the punchline.

SPOILER WARNING

Later in the video, the Timelord himself, Peter Capaldi, appears at the door in full costume, with a sealed envelope containing a contract from Moffat and the BBC. The Doctor Who actor has just visited New Zealand as part of a series of fan events.

“I’m the Doctor,” Capaldi says in the video. “Who?” asks Jackson. “Correct,” says Capaldi, in a nod to the perennial schoolyard joke, before being chased out of the room by a Dalek.

The video puts one further tease on the table – literally – in the shape of a bashed-up copy of JRR Tolkien’s book, The Silmarillion, complete with pink Post-it notes.

Fans have long hoped that Jackson might win over the Tolkien estate for the rights to direct a film adaptation of the book

If there are fans who hope for that, they aren’t commenters at File 770, based on what I’ve been reading here…