Pixel Scroll 4/9/17 Ruler of the Pixelgram

(1) SUCCESSFUL CHARITY EVENT. Tom Edwards, one of the best cover designers in science fiction, teamed up with Parkinson’s UK and Keystroke Medium to raise money for Parkinson’s research. Three premade covers by Edwards, as well, as an editing package by Ellen Campbell, went to auction on April 8 and brought in almost 4000 pounds / $5000 US.

Sample cover

(2) FAKE NEWS PIONEER. His role was created to encourage U.S. support for Britain prior to America’s entry into WWII — “Louis deWohl: The Astrologer Who Helped Foil Hitler”.

Then, in June 1941, one of de Wohl’s more detailed predictions seemed to come true. “A strong collaborator of Hitler who is neither German nor a Nazi will go violently insane,” he foretold. “He will be in South or Central America, probably near the Caribbean Sea.” Three days later, U.S. newswires proclaimed that the Vichy High Commissioner of the French West Indies, Admiral Georges Robert, had gone insane and had to be restrained by staff. The New York Post reported that newspaper editors across America “besieged de Wohl with requests for exclusive stories.” The astrologer possessed a mysterious ability to know the unknowable, and millions of Americans wanted to know more.

The way it worked behind the facade was masterful. The British spy agency first fed information to de Wohl, which he would write up in his column. In turn, MI5 would then feed the bogus information to the U.S. press. Unable to fact-check details with the Third Reich, the American press would report the news as real, which it was not. For example, the Vichy High Commissioner of the French West Indies never went insane.

(3) TINGLE TIME AGAIN. Almost a year ago, UrsulaV wrote a series of tweets in the style of Dr. Seuss after Chuck Tingle played Vox Day, who had slated him onto the Hugo ballot. File 770’s unofficial motto is “It’s always news to somebody” – usually me – and besides, this news is practically fresh again, with Tingle renominated and pranking the porn author who replaced him on Vox’s slate.

(4) NESFA STORY CONTEST. The New England Science Fiction Association is looking for entries in its annual story contest.

Do you like to write science fiction or fantasy stories? Are you an aspiring writer, but not sure if you’re ready for the big time? Then you’re just the kind of writer we’re looking for! The New England Science Fiction Association (NESFA for short) is running a writing contest. Prizes include free books, and a grand prize of a free membership to Boskone. More important though is that we offer free critiques of your work. Our goal is to help young & aspiring writers to improve their writing, so you can become our new favorite writer! Check out our website for details:

http://www.nesfa.org/awards/storycon.html

We welcome submissions from everyone, in every country in the world (as long as it’s written in English, please!). Women, people of color, LGBTQ writers, and members of other underrepresented groups are encouraged to enter the contest.

(5) AH ROMANCE. The shortlist for the Romance Writers of America’s 2017 RITA and Golden Heart Awards was announced March 21. Here are the finalists of genre interest.

The RITA Award – “the highest award of distinction in romance fiction” — recognizes excellence in published romance novels and novellas.

Paranormal Romance

  • Bayou Shadow Hunter by Debbie Herbert Harlequin, Nocturne Ann Leslie Tuttle, editor
  • The Beast by J R Ward New American Library Kara Welsh, editor
  • The Champion of Barésh by Susan Grant Self-published Mary Moran, editor
  • Enchanted Warrior by Sharon Ashwood Harlequin, Nocturne Ann Leslie Tuttle, editor
  • Ghost Gifts by Laura Spinella Montlake Publishing Alison Dasho, editor
  • The Leopard King by Ann Aguirre Self-published Sasha Knight, editor
  • The Pages of the Mind by Jeffe Kennedy Kensington Publishing Corp. Peter Senftleben, editor
  • Where the Wild Things Bite by Molly Harper Pocket Books Abby Zidle, editor

The Golden Heart recognizes excellence in unpublished romance manuscripts.

Paranormal Romance

  • “Beryl Blue, Time Cop” by Janet Halpin
  • “Bless Your Heart and Other Southern Curses” by Heather Leonard
  • “Constant Craving” by Kari W. Cole
  • “Fire’s Rising” by Grace Adams
  • “The Mer Chronicles: Love’s Diplomatic Act” by Kate Ramirez
  • “Soul Affinity” by A. Y. Chao

Award winners will be announced on July 27 at the 2017 RWA Conference in Orlando, Florida.

(6) MESSAGE FICTION. Bleeding Cool reports “Marvel Artist Ardian Syaf Hid Anti-Christian And Jewish Messages In This Week’s X-Men Comic”. The political background to the references is:

In Indonesia, 212 is the number used to denote a specific mass protest from 2nd December last year. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims marched against the Christian governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok,, over allegations of blasphemy regarding his use of the Qu’ran in campaigning against opponents. The march was organised, in part, with the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council’s Fatwa. It was pretty hardline conservative and the protest demanded the government prosecute and jail Ahok based on the council’s fatwa, declaring him to be a blasphemer. This year, a 212 2.0 march with similar aims was held on the 21st of February.

(You can see the artwork at the link.)

The information comes from sources including this public Facebook post by an Indonesian comics reader:

Dear Marvel Comics My name is Haykal, I am from Jakarta, Indonesia And I would like to inform you something about your recent comics, X-Men Gold.

…I found out that on X-Men Gold comic, there’s a subliminal message of hatred towards minorities It was done by this person, a Muslim penciller from Indonesia https://www.facebook.com/ArdianSyafComicArt/

And he’s using your comics to spread hatred against non muslim minorities in Indonesia.

The “QS 5:51” on Colossus shirt refers to the Quran verse used by Muslim extremists to discriminate against the current governor which is also one of the governor candidates in the current election in Jakarta, Indonesia. https://quran.com/5/51

Bleeding Cool has since reported that Ardian Syaf was unwilling to discuss the issue with them.

Meanwhile, Marvel has made a statetment via Comicbook.com.

“The mentioned artwork in X-Men Gold #1 was inserted without knowledge behind its reported meanings. These implied references do not reflect the views of the writer, editors or anyone else at Marvel and are in direct opposition of the inclusiveness of Marvel Comics and what the X-Men have stood for since their creation. This artwork will be removed from subsequent printings, digital versions, and trade paperbacks and disciplinary action is being taken.”

Comicbook.com notes –

No further details were provided concerning how exactly Marvel will discipline Syaf. Preview art suggests that Syaf has already completed work on X-Men Gold #2, which releases on April 19. Syaf is also one of three announced rotating artists on X-Men Gold, along with RB Silva and Ken Lashley, so it may be some time before fans know for certain if he will returning to X-Men Gold.

And if you want to take a deep dive into this, Ms. Marvel writer G. Willow Wilson has a post up — Here is What Quran 5:51 Actually Says.

(7) TODAY’S DAY

Unicorn Day

What mythological creature has been more beloved over the centuries than the unicorn? Symbols of purity and enchantment, unicorns are loved by both children and adults alike and are integral parts of many fairy tales and legends. For all the roles they’ve played in literature, cinematography, and art as a whole, unicorns more than deserve their own day!

Unicorns were mentioned as far back as antiquity—ancient Greek writers believed they lived in the faraway and exotic country of India, which was then largely unknown to Europeans. However, the unicorn was then thought to be a powerful, fierce animal that was not to be meddled with. In the Middle Ages, the unicorn’s image was based greatly on Bible passages that were thought to speak of these animals, and unicorns slowly came to be seen as a symbol of strength, the purest kind of love, and the pets of virgin women. In fact, there is even a sculpture of the Virgin Mary holding a unicorn on her lap and patting it in Warsaw’s National Museum. Thus, unicorns have been appearing in works of literature for thousands of years. The most prominent more modern examples include Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and The Last Battle by S.C. Lewis. The whole immensely popular My Little Pony franchise is also based on unicorns.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 9, 1959 — NASA introduced the first seven astronauts to the press.

(9) BIG FINISH. The Washington Post’s Michael O’Sullivan interviews director Nacho Vigilando, whose film Colossal is a fusion of kaihu eige and romantic comedy that will be released this Friday.

Q: In that film [7:35 in the Morning], you critique the cliches of the movie musical by staging a song-and-dance number in a diner with seemingly ordinary people. “Extraterrestrial” plays with the tropes of the alien invasion movie. In “Colossal,” you do something similar with the genre of the monster movie. What’s so fascinating about genre cinema?

A: The moment in “Colossal” that sums up what you’re talking about is when Gloria calls her ex-boyfriend, because she wants to talk about this monster that is invading South Korea. And he responds by asking, “Why are you calling so late? That happened early this morning.” He thinks that means she has spent the whole day just sleeping. I’m really attracted to the idea of playing inside these sandboxes, in which everybody in the audience knows the rules. Our expectations of these films become part of the show somehow. I admire Superman, but am I a kind person all the time, the way Superman is? How can I relate to a character who has an “S” on his chest, since there are moments in my life when I behave like an a—— to other people?

(10) COUNTING THE PUPPIES. Greg Hullender has written up his analysis of the 2017 Puppy vote at Rocket Stack Rank“Slating Analysis: 2017”. He says, “I get a slightly higher number than you did: 88-118. I make up for that with some cool graphs.”

Now that the 2017 Hugo Awards Finalists lists have come out, we can estimate how many slate voters there were. By our calculations, there were between 88 and 118 of them. This is just slightly higher than Mike Glyer’s estimate of  “80 to 90”. When the detailed statistics are available in August, we’ll make a more precise estimate, using the methods we used in our article Slate Voting Analysis Using EPH Data: 2014-2016

(11) A THREE BLACK HOLE RATING. The Guardian shares Jay Rayner’s brutal review of Le Cinq, Paris, a Michelin 3-star restaurant.

Other things are the stuff of therapy. The canapé we are instructed to eat first is a transparent ball on a spoon. It looks like a Barbie-sized silicone breast implant, and is a “spherification”, a gel globe using a technique perfected by Ferran Adrià at El Bulli about 20 years ago. This one pops in our mouth to release stale air with a tinge of ginger. My companion winces. “It’s like eating a condom that’s been left lying about in a dusty greengrocer’s,” she says. Spherifications of various kinds – bursting, popping, deflating, always ill-advised – turn up on many dishes. It’s their trick, their shtick, their big idea. It’s all they have. Another canapé, tuile enclosing scallop mush, introduces us to the kitchen’s love of acidity. Not bright, light aromatic acidity of the sort provided by, say, yuzu. This is blunt acidity of the sort that polishes up dulled brass coins.

Do you think we could get a Kickstarter funded if he turned his jaded eye in the direction of the Puppies Forbidden Thoughts anthology?

(12) CRETACEOUS TASTINESS. When you hear a bell, think of tacos — TriceraTACOs, that is.

(13) THE PLANE TRUTH. John Scalzi does not get enough credit for his restraint.

(14) IN MEDEA RACE. “The Ballad of Maui Hair” is practically a companion piece to “The Anthem Sprinters.” These tweets just begin to set the scene:

(15) SONG AND DANCE MAN. In 1993, Christopher Walken appeared on Saturday Zoo with Jonathan Ross (who later got uninvited as toastmaster of the 2014 Worldcon in historic record time.) Walken gave an inimitable reading of “The Three Little Pigs.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, and Rev. Bob for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]

Pixel Scroll 2/26/16 The Prisoner of Shadowban

(1) SHORTLIST TRUTHS. At The Hysterical Hamster Ian Mond asks “What Are Award Shortlists For? No… really… please tell me… I want to know….”

What are award shortlists for?

Obviously their main purpose is to recognize and celebrate the best works published in a specific timeframe and a given context.  That celebratory aspect, in particular, is reflected in my Facebook and Twitter feeds moments after a shortlist is announced as friends, rightly, congratulate the nominees.

But once people have provided virtual pats on the back to the finalists, once the glow of platitude and praise has dimmed, what purpose does an award shortlist serve?  Is it there to be read?  Is it there to spark conversation?  Is it there to further the debate – what there is of it – about the genre?

I ask because this week the Kitschies, one of my favorite awards, announced its list of nominees.  When I reported this on my blog earlier in the week I applauded the diversity on the list – both in terms of gender and race – and the fact that there was a distinct lack of multi-series books present (a particular peccadillo of mine).  I also made the throwaway remark that given the winners are announced on March 7 I wouldn’t have the time to read the nominees

(2) THE LATEST AND EARLIEST NEWS ABOUT ELLISON. Mary Reinholz’ interview in the Pasadena Weekly covers “‘Fire-bringing’ Harlan Ellison, one of America’s greatest short story writers, on protecting his work, L. Ron Hubbard, Octavia Butler, and why he will never stop writing.”

“Since the stroke, my right side is still paralyzed, but I can still type with two fingers,” he says during a recent call to his hillside home off Mulholland Drive. “I still get around. I get up and get into the wheelchair. I went to a [science fiction] convention in St. Louis and they all seemed to take it well. No one stoned me, even though I have this reputation of being a tough old bagel that’s hard to chew. A couple of times, I’ve done (spoken word) recordings. But mostly I lie in bed and watch the ceiling.”

…Ellison also remains deeply wedded to his work. December saw the hardcover publication of “Can & Can’tankerous,” which includes previously uncollected short stories and a tribute to Ray Bradbury, and in September the ninth edition of “Ellison Wonderland” was released; the collection was first published 52 years ago.

A third Ellison biography is expected to be published next year. It’s an authorized one written by Nat Segaloff, who has penned several books about Hollywood royalty, the latest on director John Huston. In “Dreams with Sharp Teeth,” a 2008 documentary directed by Erik Nelson, there are interviews with Ellison who admits he once sent a dead gopher to a publisher in the mail and others with his deceased crony Robin Williams, who committed suicide in 2014.

…Ellison, whom the Washington Post has called “one of America’s greatest living short story writers,” joined the bloody 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He was a friend and mentor of the late African-American novelist Octavia E. Butler, the first black woman to achieve international prominence within the largely white male bastion of science fiction writing. She grew up in a racially mixed neighborhood of Pasadena. Ellison was one of three people to whom Butler dedicated her 1994 book “Mind of My Mind.”

Butler, who died in 2006 at 58, was an unknown young writer when she first met Ellison at a workshop. “She was one of my students and came to me as part of a (program) the Writers Guild had decided to put together to bring in Latino and black female outsiders,” he recalls. “She came to me with a story. I took a look at it and knew how good it was. We talked about it and workshopped it and it went on from there. I was just one step on her way up. She did it all herself. She was a stalwart woman.”

(3) FREDRICKSON OBIT. Star Trek scenic and graphic artist Anthony Richard Fredrickson died February 15 of a heart attack. Doug Drexler paid tribute to him on Facebook.

So Anthony and I would go to school together, run science fiction stores together, edit sci fi magazines together, live through car crashes and earthquakes together, do makeup effects together, make movie monsters together, help redefine science fiction graphic design together, create spaceships for Star Trek together, and win an Academy Award together. We conquered Hollywood together. And we should never forget that it all began with baby mice dipped in honey.

(4) FIGHTING IN YEARS TO COME. Learn more about the “Narrative of the future developed at Science Fiction Futures workshop” hosted February 3 by the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab (MCWF) and the Atlantic Council’s Art of Future Warfare Project and taught by Max Brooks, August Cole and Charles E. Gannon. The article is posted at Marine Corps Base Quantico.

The Marine Corps of 2035 will fight in megacities in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, deploying from an arid United States that has retreated to a defensive posture and directs little funding to the military.

The enemies of the future will be internal terrorists from both the extreme right and left, international mega-corporations that control the desalination of water, the Chinese mafia, and other established states with stable governments protecting their interests.

The weapons and equipment of the future will be autonomous robots, miniature electromagnetic pulse weapons, powered exosuits, and a proliferation of area denial weapons that limit access to trade routes.

But while the future Marines will be fighting in a different place, against a different enemy, and with different technology than they do now, they’ll still have a “boots on the ground” element and will still have to be flexible and think outside the box. And even in 2035, they’ll probably still be using masks from 2022.

(5) SFWA-SUPPORTED KICKSTARTER. “Star Project 3” at the SFWA Blog tells about the latest non-member Kickstarter project the organization is helping.

Projects are selected by the Self Publishing Committee, coordinated by volunteer Rob Balder. Selections are 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.

SFWA is delighted to announce support for our latest Star Project: The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror #6. We hope you will consider funding it as well.

From the project’s Kickstarter campaign:

The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror is over 150,000 words of the best fantasy and horror fiction written by Australians (and New Zealanders) and published all over the world in 2015. We’ve already done this five times for the years 2010-2014, and we’d like to do it again.

In addition to the reprinted fiction, The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror series features an extensive introductory essay on the annual state of the genre, obituaries, a recommended reading list, and a list of Australian and New Zealand award recipients.

It is the only volume of its kind being published in Australia at present.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 26, 1920 The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari premieres in Berlin.
  • February 26, 1963 — NASA announced that Venus is about 800 degrees F

(7) GUARDIANS ADDS FRAKES. Jonathan Frakes joins Guardians of the Galaxy animated seriesBleeding Cool has the story.

Marvel has tapped Star Trek’s own Will RikerJonathan Frakes… to voice J’Son, King of the Spartax in the Guardians of the Galaxy animated series. USA Today is reporting bringing the veteran actor on board to play the father of Peter Quill (Will Friedle). Frakes has spent more time behind the camera than in front over the last few years becoming a highly respected television director.

J’Son is Star-Lord’s father in the comics as well as in the animated series, but the live-action movie is going a different direction according to director James Gunn and it is believed that Kurt Russell will be playing that version of Quill’s (Chris Pratt) father.

(8) RABID SLATE. Vox Day has announced his slate for – “Rabid Puppies: Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form”.

The preliminary list of recommendations for the Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form category:

  • Grimm, Season 4 Episode 21, “Headache”
  • Tales from the Borderlands Episode 5, “The Vault of the Traveller”
  • Life is Strange, Episode 1
  • My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic, Season 5, Episodes 1-2, “The Cutie Map”
  • A Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 8, “Hardhome”

(9) MYTHING HORSE REPORT. “Runaway Unicorn Leads Highway Patrol on Wild Chase” at Time.

A white pony dressed as a unicorn ran through the streets of Madera County, Calif., for over three hours on Wednesday night before she was caught by police. The costumed pony, named Juliet, first escaped from a child’s birthday party at about 2:30 p.m., but was soon recaptured. However, she got loose again around 5:30 p.m. and proceeded to lead California Highway Patrol on a long chase as she wove in and out of traffic. “We got a call of a unicorn running in the roadway on 12th avenue near Road 32,” Officer Justin Perry told KTUL. “I’ve been doing this for 14 years and this is my first call for a unicorn.”

(10) PIN POEM. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little broke out in verse when she received her Hugo voting PIN…

On the evergreen topic of MAC II, and in honor of the completely unprompted email I got from Hugo Administration yesterday morning (I’m not patient, I’m just lazy and never got around to emailing them), I give you…

Pup’s in the Manger (TtTO)

My PIN arrived just the other day
With a letter saying “Friend, come and have your say:
Did you read a thing that just blew you away?
Are your socks now orbiting the Milky Way?”

Well I said, hooray! time to nominate–
We don’t want to have no slates, friends,
My vote’s not about those slates

And the pup’s in the manger with a bad review
And little boy Larry wants a rocket to the moon
Are we all gonna go to K. C., then?
We’ll get together then, friends, You know we’ll have a good time then

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

Litigating a Legal Fiction

The National Pork Board sent a 12-page “cease and desist” letter in response to ThinkGeek’s April Fool’s ad for “canned unicorn meat” that used the NPB’s familiar slogan “The other white meat.”

Bloggers naturally seized on the obvious joke — to take at face value that the Pork Board was pig-headed enough to believe unicorn really was being offered for human consumption in competition with pork.

ThinkGeek ended its legal woes by issuing a public apology, though they couldn’t resist ending with a humorous stinger:

Luckily, the Sisters at Radiant Farms, where the unicorns are nursed through old age before being slaughtered, canned, and brought to market at ThinkGeek, have nothing to worry about–this kind of use is protected as a parody. (We’re hoping the NPB doesn’t tell the Sisters that unicorns don’t actually exist; it’d break their little sparkly hearts.)

[Thanks to David Klaus and Andrew Porter for the story.]