Pixel Scroll 3/15/17 I’m Scrolling On My Knees Looking For The Answer

(1) NO FLY ZONE. John Brunner in The Shockwave Rider said that ‘The future arrives too soon and in the wrong order.’ And here’s proof of that — “French hoverboard inventor banned from flying in France”.

The man who invented the Flyboard Air has been barred from flying his jet-powered hoverboard in France, sparking a debate over the country’s policies on innovation. In a Facebook post on March 10th, Franky Zapata, founder of the company that bears his name, said there is a “strong probability that the Flyboard Air will never fly again in France,” after officials from the French air gendarmerie told him he would be placed under criminal investigation if he continued to pilot the craft. Zapata added that he will now be “obliged to leave France” in order to continue his work.

“That is how innovators are treated in our country,” Zapata wrote in a French-language post. “I leave you [to] imagine my disgust after having produced more than 10,000 ‘made in France’ Flyboards.”

(2) DO YOU DIG IT? A road that is too close to Stonehenge will probably be buried, but there are many issues with the proposed tunnel.

It’s one of the world’s most famous ancient monuments: an instantly recognisable icon from a forgotten world, a place for quiet wonder and contemplation.

And yet for many people, the first and perhaps only glimpse they get of Stonehenge is from a traffic jam on the A303, one of the main routes between London and southwest England.

This could be about to change. A bold £1.4bn plan proposes ripping up much of the existing road and replacing it with a new route that includes a 2.9km (1.8 miles), deep-bored tunnel just a few hundred metres south of Stonehenge….

A far bigger priority is ensuring that the context of the wider landscape is preserved, such as that the sightlines between the area’s various monuments and barrows – thought to have been deliberately designed by the Neolithic engineers of ancient Britain – are left intact.

For instance, a key area of concern with the current proposal, and something that McMahon and others hope to be able to persuade Highways England to address, is the positioning of the western entrance. “It’s too close to one of the major funerary monuments in the landscape called the Normanton down barrow cemetery,” says McMahon, “and the road coming out also sits for part of its route on the same astronomical alignment as the midwinter setting Sun.”

(3) GRAMMAR’S SLAMMERS. Walter Jon Williams declares “Victory for the Oxford Comma”:

I stand proudly with the Oxford comma, as it stands for reason, clarity, and mitigates against incertitude.  (Try reading that sentence without the Oxford comma and see where it gets you.)

I am pleased to know that the US Court of Appeals agrees with me, insofar as they ruled that a missing Oxford comma was the deciding factor in the case of Kevin O’Connor v. the Oakhurst Dairy….

(4) 10-SIDED DICE YES, BLACK HELICOPTERS NO. An Ars Technica writer at SXSW found “The CIA uses board games to train officers – and I got to play them”.

Clopper recalls one day in 2008 when his “boss’s boss” called him into a meeting and asked him to develop new internal training exercises. Normally, these exercises test whether recent lessons and seminars have been absorbed by officers, and they usually involve “teams, flip charts, and briefings,” Clopper says. “Incredibly boring.” But Clopper had now been at the CIA long enough to reshape its exercises, his boss said, and he got excited: “I’m a gamer. I enjoy games, video games, tabletop games. Could we bring games into learning?”

He used SXSW to present three board games made for his training exercises over the span of a four-year period, one of which is still in development. The first is the one we got the most hands-on time with during SXSW: Collection. If that dry-as-a-desert name isn’t a good indicator, rest assured—this is not a game meant for retail or for the highest ratings at BoardGameGeek.

Collection compares favorably to the popular cooperative game Pandemic. In Clopper’s game, a group of players must work together to resolve three major crises across the globe. The object is for players, who each represent different types of CIA officers, to collect enough relevant intel to resolve all three crises. If any one of the three impending disasters boils over (as represented by three increasing “fire” meters), the team loses. Every game must have at least three players to fill the roles of “political analyst,” “military analyst,” and “economic analyst.” Those three are only able to collect intel in their specific fields, while additional players (up to seven on a team) have their own specialties.

The difficulty comes from the low number of actions each player can do per turn, along with how quickly the fire meter ratchets up.

(5) WIZARDRY. Bradbury biographer Sam Weller tells why you should “Pay Close Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain: 8 Things I Learned About Writing from Ray Bradbury”.

In 12 years, as one might imagine, I observed many of Bradbury’s creative secrets. I peered behind the Oz-ian curtain, as it were, and paid close attention. Bradbury was a master storyteller and visionary artist who created across an unprecedented nine decades. Fahrenheit 451. The Martian Chronicles. Dandelion Wine. Something Wicked This Way Comes. Massive collections of poetry. Massive collections of essays. Hundreds of short stories across every conceivable genre. He owned and operated his own theatre company. He wrote episodes of The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. On a whim, he scripted an animated short film that was later nominated for an Oscar. He earned an Emmy for an animated television adaptation of his own YA novel, The Halloween Tree. Bradbury developed architectural concepts for shopping malls, the 1964 World’s Fair and EPCOT. There is a crater on the moon named, by NASA, for Ray Bradbury’s book 1957 novel-in-stories, Dandelion Wine.

The man was a force.

Not surprising then, that much of my own creative ethos is culled from what I learned working alongside Ray Bradbury….

(6) HARRIS OBIT. Jack Harris, producer of the original horror film The Blob (1958) died March 14 at the age of 98. He was also a producer or executive producer of Paradisio (1962), Beware! The Blob (1972), Schlock (1973) and other genre films.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • The Ides of March – Julius Caesar finds out what happens when you keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

(9) TODAY IN BEER HISTORY

  • March 15, 1937 – H.P. Lovecraft joins the choir invisible.

(10) FRANCHISE CROSSOVER. CBS gets its clicks on Route 66 with “19 Star Trek References on The Big Bang Theory”. First is —

“Game over, Moon Pie.”

Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Wil Wheaton is a regular guest star on The Big Bang Theory. Sheldon’s arch nemesis makes his first appearance in “The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary” (Episode 5, Season 3), where he tricks Sheldon into throwing a Mystic Warlords of Ka’a card tournament.

(11) APOCALYPSE IN REVERSE GEAR. The Guardian interrupted the memorial service for paper books with this flash – “Ebook sales continue to fall as younger generations driver appetite for print”.

Readers committed to physical books can give a sigh of relief, as new figures reveal that ebook sales are falling while sales of paper books are growing – and the shift is being driven by younger generations.

More than 360m books were sold in 2016 – a 2% jump in a year that saw UK consumers spend an extra 6%, or £100m, on books in print and ebook formats, according to findings by the industry research group Nielsen in its annual books and consumer survey. The data also revealed good news for bricks-and-mortar bookshops, with a 4% rise in purchases across the UK.

While sales through shops increased 7% in 2016, ebook sales declined by 4%. It is the second year in a row that ebook sales have fallen, and only the second time that annual ebook sales have done so since industry bodies began monitoring sales a decade ago.

(12) PERIODICAL PERFORMANCE. The March ratings are up at Rocket Stack Rank. Sarah Pinsker, Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali, and Michael Flynn have the top-ranked stories.

(13) EQUALS? Natalie Luhrs does her annual slice-and-dice of the Locus Recommended Reading List to show how many listed works are by people of various genders and races.

I wrote yesterday that one problem with pure counting exercises is that they don’t tap into the experience or emotion of the subjects. Today in Luhrs’ report I ran into a further  question – if the goal is diversity, and an analyst is considering numbers in isolation, what number equals winning? This came to mind when I read this passage in her section on race. Luhrs found that works by people of color on the list increased from 15.61% to 26.47% in one year. She commented —

Race Breakout by Year, Percentages

Nearly three quarters of the works are still by white people. Representation of POC has jumped by over 10% and that is a really good thing, but I believe there is still room for improvement.

Does Luhrs have a target number in mind that Locus has yet to reach, or is she failing to put in perspective what seems to be a radical effort to get diverse works listed?

(14) GROWTH IN AFRICAN SFF. This isn’t the first time someone has asked “Why Is science fiction so white?” The news is that the question was posed today by a journalist in Zimbabwe, Mako Muzenda.

The presence of these spaces – websites, magazines and publications – goes a long way in introducing readers to different writers, and getting aspiring authors the visibility they need. Ivor Hartmann has been involved in speculative fiction since 2007, with the release of his first book Earth Rise. After going from publisher to publisher, looking for someone to put his book on the market, Hartmann (a Zimbabwean) was finally able to get his story out with Something Wicked, which at the time was the only science-fiction magazine for the whole of Africa.

“While I did publish it with them (Something Wicked), I was distressed at the lack of publishing venues for speculative fiction in Africa. So rather than moan about it I started up an online weekly magazine,” explains Hartmann. His decision led to the creation of StoryTime, which ran for five years until Hartmann switched to solely publishing anthologies. With enough experience in the industry behind him, Hartmann decided to take the plunge and address the inadequacies in African science fiction head-on with AfroSF, the first Pan-African science fiction anthology.

“Of course, now there are loads of African online magazines but back then it was all new territory for writers and readers. No longer were we held back by the excruciating logistics and heavy capital needed to run a print magazine.”

What had started off as a fringe movement is growing into a vibrant community of people dedicated to letting Africa’s voice be heard in speculative fiction….

(15) IN THE JURY ROOM. The Shadow Clarke Jury has produced three more thoughtful reviews.

The Underground Railroad is, perhaps, the best novel of 2016.

I qualify that statement only because I have not read every novel published in 2016. Nobody has. But I have seen nothing to suggest that I am wrong in this assessment. And I am not alone in this view; the novel has, after all, won America’s National Book Award.

I consider it the best, in part, because it is a novel that speaks to the moment the way that few other books do. It captures the screams of Ferguson, the anger of Black Lives Matter, the despair in the face of the renewed racism that celebrated the last American election. It is a book that places the experience of being black in America today on a trajectory that puts it closer to slavery than we ever like to think. And it does all of this with intelligence, with beauty, with subtlety, with wit and with invention. It uses the tools of the novel the way those tools are meant to be used, but so seldom are.

It is a book that held me with its first sentence, and continued to hold me, with horror and delight, through to its last sentence.

It is a good novel, perhaps the best novel; but does that mean it is the best science fiction novel?

What is Kavenna’s book actually about, though? This question is harder to answer than it first appears, no doubt intentionally so. As suggested above, the outline appears simple: Eliade Jencks, having failed to enter Oxford as a student, takes a job waiting tables in the cafe of the Tradescantian Ark Musuem and continues to conduct her researches in the evenings and weekends. While working at the cafe she makes the acquaintance of a Professor Solete, an eminent don whose magnum opus is the eponymous Field Guide to Reality, a theory of everything that will finally bring together his lifelong researches into the nature of life, death and the origins of the universe. Unfortunately, Professor Solete dies before the book can be published, and when his acolytes enter his rooms in search of the manuscript they find only a locked box, labelled ‘For Eliade’.

I start with Achimwene because he reminds us that one of the central themes of Lavie Tidhar’s Central Station is the telling of stories, and science-fiction stories in particular. Indeed, the narrative itself is an embodiment of a pivotal moment in sf storytelling: the move from short story to novel. The earliest sf novels weren’t novels as such; they were formed from several closely connected short stories, sometimes reworked to strengthen those connections, and were known as ‘fix-ups’. Central Station is a fix-up par excellence, bringing together Tidhar’s various Central Station stories, some of them substantially reworked, with a couple of new stories added to the mix, and a Prologue that introduces the novel as an act of storytelling, while itself participating in the act of storytelling not once but twice.

(16) A (SUIT)CASE OF CONSCIENCE. Is this “the perfect Tyrion Lannister cosplay” as Reddit  says, or in incredibly bad taste? YOU decide!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Merrick Lex, Andrew Porter, JJ, Mark-kitteh, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Pixel Scroll 2/8/17 With Many Alternative Facts About The Square Of The Hypotenuse

(1) TOUGHER THAN IT LOOKS. Sue Duff thought it would be easy to destroy the Earth, but noooo! She explains the difficulties in a guest post for SFFWorld.

When I plotted out my five-book series a couple years ago, I knew that by book four, it would be time to give my characters a break and began to torture my worlds. I needed to increase the stakes across both dimensions for the big finale in book five. It took quite a bit of research, in spite of my amateur earth and space science interests, and found that it’s not easy to make reality align with your imagination! The challenge was to have my antagonist destroy Thrae, Earth’s mirror dimension, while salvaging enough of the planet to support life. Luckily, I sat on a panel with two NASA scientists at Denver Comic Con and cornered them afterwards to verify my research. I was thrilled, and more than a little relieved, to discover that the details were accurate!

(2) LOCUS AWARD POLL IS OPEN. John Scalzi has beaten me to a pair of headlines today – I’m lucky he spends most of his time on books. John was first with the Audie Awards, and now this —

(3) SHADOW CLARKE. Paul Kincaid tells how he thinks the shadow Clarke jury will operate.

I have never been involved with a shadow jury before, so I’m probably going to be making it up as we go along. But my take on it is that the Clarke Award has become central to the way we see science fiction in Britain, so the shadow jury will use it as a jumping off point from which to expand the discussion of science fiction.

We’ll be starting with the submissions list, which is due to be published shortly and which is probably the best and most convenient way to discover what science fiction has been published in Britain during any particular year. From this we will each, individually, draw up our own preferred shortlists, based on what we’ve read and what we want to read. (No plan survives an encounter with the enemy, so I assume that as we read through our chosen books our views about what should or should not be on the shortlist will change. In many ways, I suspect that will be the most interesting part of the exercise.) We will also, of course, be reading the actual shortlist when that is announced, so the whole exercise will be a scaled-up version of Maureen Kincaid Speller’s wonderful Shortlist Project from a few years back.

(4) THE RIGHTS. Read “SFWA Statements on Register of Copyright and Copyright Reform” at the SFWA Blog.

On January 31, SFWA submitted two sets of copyright-related commentary (authored by SFWA’s Legal Affairs Committee) — one to the Librarian of Congress offering recommendations for choosing the new Register of Copyrights, and one to the House Judiciary Committee regarding its first proposal for copyright reform. SFWA also signed onto a submission from the National Writers Union to the US Copyright Office concerning Group Registration of Contributions to Periodicals.

(5) HEAR THIS ONE BEFORE? From the “Traveler” essay in Larry Niven’s Stars and Gods collection:

Lost luggage? Air France lost a passenger in the Soviet Union, because he annoyed them. They dropped Tom Doherty in Moscow when he only had an internal passport for Leningrad.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY PUPPETEER

  • Born February 8, 1969 – Mary Robinette Kowal

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GARÇON

  • February 8, 1828 — Jules Verne

(8) SQUEE. Walter Jon Williams has signed the contract for three more books in the Praxis series. He discusses the deal in “Unto the Breach”.

And so (I hear you ask) why seek publication by the Big Five after all?  Because (1) they offered me money, and (2) I don’t want to put all my career eggs into a single basket.   Ebook sales are volatile, many sales are generated by gimmicks that quickly grow obsolete, and I’m in competition with a couple million self-published authors who can’t write their way out of a paper bag, but who get just as much shelf space as I do.  If you’re published by a traditional publisher, it demonstrates that someone cared enough for your work to pay more than taxi-fare money for it.

And if the books fail, I’ll get them back, and then I’ll market them myself.  Win/win.

The headline was JJ’s reaction to the news.

(9) CONGRATULATIONS. Jason Sanford’s short story collection Never Never Stories has been translated and released in China by Douban Reads.

The collection is being released as two separate books with similar but different covers. Here’s the link to Never Never Stories Book 1 and here’s Book 2.

(10) MAKE YOUR OWN KESSEL RUN. Graeme McMillan at The Hollywood Reporter says Disney has announced that Star Wars Land will open in Disney World’s Hollywood Studios section in 2019, with a smaller one in Anaheim. They’re mum about what will be in it, but it’s 14 acres!

It’s like ‘La La Land,’ but with less dancing and more Jedi.

Disney is planning something big to mark the conclusion of the current Star Wars trilogy. How big? The size of a theme park.

On a call with investors, Disney CEO Bob Iger on Tuesday revealed that the 14-acre Star Wars Land attraction at Walt Disney World in Orlando will open in 2019, the same year as Star Wars Episode IX, the final chapter in the current “Skywalker Saga” arc of the beloved space opera.

Construction started on the Hollywood Studios attraction last April, following its August 2015 announcement. Until Iger’s statement on Tuesday, Disney had remained quiet about the attraction — which will be paired with a similar one in Disneyland Anaheim — beyond the release of concept artwork last summer. While it’s still unconfirmed just what the attraction will include, a Disney Parks blog post promised “guests will get the opportunity to pilot the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy” after climbing on board a full-size replica of the Millennium Falcon.

(11) THE BOX SCORE. These are the authors who wrote the most short fiction in 2016 that was published in any of the eleven publications or eleven anthologies Rocket Stack Rank reviewed last year. — “2016 Prolific SF/F Short Fiction Authors”

Here are Rocket Stack Rank’s 35 most prolific science fiction & fantasy short fiction authors of 2016. Click on their names in the two tables below to see their stories, and use the Score and AvgScore columns to try some authors you might not have read before. They were selected from the 818 original stories reviewed by RSR in 2016, which include 568 authors who wrote 5.8 million words published in 11 SF/F magazines and 11 SF/F anthologies. (RSR does not read horror magazines or horror anthologies.)

Greg Hullender adds, “Not a surprise to see Rick Larson and Robert Reed at the top in terms of number of stories. The counts by number of words are strongly affected by novella writers, but still interesting.  Could be a useful resource to people looking for a new author to try out.”

(12) THE BOOKS YOU LOVE. Biblio.com has tips on “Storing A Book Collection”.

We routinely hear from customers who want to know the best way to store collectible books. Sadly, even more commonly, we hear from customers who have inadvertently stored their books improperly, eroding the value of their beloved book collection.

We thought we’d take an opportunity to share with you some tips for proper storage of books, gleaned from not only our own personal experience, but that of seasoned professional booksellers. But before we dive right in to the stacks, let’s preface the whole thing by reminding you that:

CONDITION IS EVERYTHING!

Even the most scarce of titles is rarely worth much when it is in poor condition or beyond repair. Mildew, broken spines, torn or faded dust jackets, cocked bindings and similar issues can conspire to move a desirable book from the display case to the bargain bin.

Ok, that said, let’s learn how we can keep your book collection from ruin when you need to put it in storage for a period of time…

(13) OB SF. The Washington Post’s Michael E. Ruane, in “An American filmed the German army in WWI — until they became the enemy”, has an interesting article about the Library of Congress’s restoration of On the Firing Line with the Germans, a documentary Wilbur H. Durborough did on the Eastern Front in Germany in 1915.

The sf connection is that Durborough’s cameraman, Irving G. Ries, had a long, distinguished career in Hollywood capped by an Oscar nomination for his work on the special effects in Forbidden Planet in 1956.

(14) THE MATRYOSHKA TWEETS. It began when Cat Rambo reminded SFWA members to make their Nebula nominations.

(15) DISBELIEF SUSPENDERS. College Humor poses the question — Which Is Nerdier: Star Wars or Star Trek?

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster,JJ, Cat Eldridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 1/12/17 Midnight at the Well of Pixels

(1) THE ARTIST FORMERLY KNOWN AS TYRION. ScienceFiction.com says “Peter Dinklage Is Rumored To Be In Talks To Join ‘Avengers: Infinity War’” and makes a very entertaining post from its inconclusive guesses about what Marvel character he might play.

…The next two ‘Avengers’ movies are expected to shoot back-to-back and whatever role Dinklage is in negotiations for, he will appear in both.

Very little is known about ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ other than it will feature every surviving Marvel Cinematic hero, including all of the Avengers, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy.  And it will feature the clash with warlord Thanos, something that has been teased since the first ‘Avengers’ in 2012.  It will be directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, who previously helmed ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ and ‘Captain America: Civil War’. …

(2) HELP CHANGE THE LAW. Opponents of the new California autograph law say they have lined up a State Assembly member to introduce legislation to constructively amend AB 1570. It is anticipated the bill will be drafted and ready to introduce by mid-February. In the meantime, they continue to ask people show their support by signing their petition at Change.org.

(3) BUY LINGUAL. Rachel Cordasco’s “Roundtable on Speculative Fiction in Translation: Past, Present, Future” at Tor.com brings together Neil Clarke, Sarah Dodd, Cristina Jurado, Cheryl Morgan, and Marian Womack:

Q: How do you work to increase the visibility of sf in translation? Is it mainly through marketing and social media, or other avenues as well? What can people like myself (reviewers, bloggers) do to promote sf in translation in effective ways?

Neil Clarke: Unfortunately, translated works still carry a bit of stigma with readers. It’s like your mom trying to get you to eat a vegetable she knows you’ll like if you just give it a try. One approach is to be low key about it. Treat it like any other piece of food on the plate and surround it with their more traditional selections. Publishers have been doing this for years…leveraging one success to create opportunities to take risks on others. The big difference is that translations can be significantly more expensive.

The best thing I can do for translations, aside from publishing great stories, is to be actively involved in making connections in the international science fiction community and keep them aware that translation is an option that is available to them.

The best thing readers and reviewers can do is support the books and stories they enjoy. All authors enjoy their books being favorably reviewed, but many of the foreign authors I’ve worked with have mentioned that recognition from the English-language market is extra special. Many of the biggest names in SF are published in English. It carries some prestige most of us don’t even think about.

Sarah Dodd: A really important thing that reviewers and bloggers can do is name the translator. (Yes, it seems basic, but it’s amazing how often reviews of translated fiction omit the translator’s name entirely!) The wonderful @TranslatedWorld began the #namethetranslator campaign in 2013, and they’ve been really promoting the work of translators to give them greater visibility. One of the things we’ve realized, working on other translation projects, is just how much the translator does, going beyond the translation itself—a lot of translators also do a huge amount of work pitching the books and stories they love, and then helping drum up interest and publicize them when they come out. So it would be really great to see more of a focus on the translators themselves (something we’re planning to do in Samovar, through our author and translator spotlights)….

(4) THEY SAID IT COULDN’T BE DONE. Walter Jon Williams, before getting around to the TV adaptation, decided to first reread Philip K. Dick’s novel — “Revisiting the Classics: The Man in the High Castle”.

I hadn’t got very far into the re-reading before I came to the conclusion that there was no damn fucking way this could ever be made into a TV series.  The narration is too internal, there is very little dramatizable action, and you can’t make the manipulation of 49 yarrow stalks followed by the reading of an opaque text dramatically interesting.  What HBO has done, I’m sure, is create a situation more or less parallel to that of the novel, and some characters with the same names and some of the same problems, and then done what TV people do to make that interesting.  The series might well be successful on its own terms, it just won’t be The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick.  (Those of you who have seen the [Amazon] series can tell me if I’m right.  I’m particularly interested to learn whether they made successful drama out of I Ching readings.)

And that’s only his first argument why it couldn’t be made for TV.

(5) CRAVING DYSTOPIAS. Boston Review fiction editor Junot Diaz has put out a call for material on the theme of global dystopias, maximum length 5,000 words.

Over the last decades dystopian narratives have proliferated to the point where they seem to have become our default mode for conceptualizing the future. But dystopias are not merely fantasies of a minatory future; they offer critically important reflection upon our present. If (as Tom Moylan has argued) traditional dystopias crafted cognitive maps of the terrors of the twentieth century, what cognitive maps does our current dystopian turn provide us of our turbulent global present?

Throughout 2017 BostonReview.net will feature stories, essays, and interviews on the theme of global dystopias. The project will culminate in a special print issue in the fall of 2017.

We are seeking essays, interviews, and fiction from writers around the globe that engage the theme of dystopia. Nonfiction, personal essay, genre fiction (SF, fantasy, horror, Afrofuturist, slipstream), and work that resides across/between genres are welcome.

Submissions might explore, but are not limited to:

  • Inequality / precarity
  • The Global South
  • Climate change
  • Global democracy
  • Civic media and civic imaginaries
  • Afrofuturism
  • The War on Terror
  • International politics and speculative futures
  • Post-humanisms
  • The future of females
  • Gendered violence
  • Radical futurities

The submissions period is open for fiction and nonfiction via Submittable until May 1, 2017.

(7) DEALER’S CHOICE. The third video in a series about the origins of George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards universe.is now on YouTube:

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY COMPUTER

  • Activated January 12 — HAL 9000. According to the movie, he was activated in Urbana, Illinois, on January 12, 1992. For reasons that even Clarke didn’t remember, years later, in the book the date shifted to 1997.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born January 12, 1628 — Charles Perrault, author of the Mother Goose stories.
  • Born January 12, 1965 – Rob Zombie

(10) PRATCHETT LIFE COMING TO TV. A Terry Pratchett bio program is in the works at the BBC. From Radio Times “BBC reveal plans for ‘poignant’ new Terry Pratchett documentary”.

The BBC is making a documentary about the late writer Terry Pratchett in which his words will be read in character by actor Paul Kaye.

Terry Pratchett: Back In Black is told in Pratchett’s own words, with contributions from authors Neil Gaiman and Val McDermid, and his long-serving assistant Rob Wilkins. Kaye’s impression of Pratchett is said to be “uncanny” according to the BBC.

The programme, which airs on BBC2 later this year, will follow his life from his troubled schooldays, to being dismissed by literary critics, to the remarkable creation of the Discworld series of fantasy novels, which have since sold over 85 million copies worldwide.

It will also chronicle Pratchett’s battle with Alzheimer’s and his death in 2015.

(11) COMICS ON THE HORIZON. In 2017, at least three SF/F novels will be adapted into comic books. Titan Comics will be adapting Forever War by Joe Haldeman, with Haldeman writing the comic and Mavarno doing the art, as well as Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula, with Newman writing and art by Paul McCaffrey. Finally, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods will become a Dark Horse comic book with P. Craig Russell writing and art by Scott Hamilton.

Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War was a groundbreaking science-fiction novel when originally published in 1974, merging high-concept science fiction with gripping social commentary. Next year, Titan Comics are reprinting and serializing the 1988 adaptation written by Haldeman himself, with art by the legendary Mavarno.
Titan’s reprint of the series serializes the original volumes and come packed with bonus materials, including design elements from the series and multiple, brand-new covers for each issue.

And now, it’s finally making it to comics. Titan has announced an Anno Dracula adaptation set for March of 2017, written by Newman with art by Paul McCaffrey.

Originally published in 1992, the first Anno Dracula novel takes place in 1888, focusing on the early years of a society where vampires have just gone public, and a mystery — for the characters, if not the readers — surrounding the Whitechapel murders of Jack the Ripper.

Gaiman said in a statement: “I’ve been watching P. Craig Russell breaking down the book into comic form, watching Scott Hampton painting the pages, watching Glenn Fabry create the covers, and grinning to myself with delight, because the American Gods comic is going to be an astonishing, faithful, and beautiful adaptation.”

(12) DRAFT NOTICE.  Narragansett Brewing Co. wants you to know “The Unnamable Is Coming…”

Unnamable beer

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mark-kitteh, Rob Thornton JJ, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Michael J. Walsh.]

Pixel Scroll 12/3/16 I Pixeled A Scroll In Reno, Just To Watch It Cry….

new-york-ghost

(1) HATCHED BEFORE YOUR EYES. Mashable reveals “All the ‘Harry Potter’ Easter eggs you missed in the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ opening”.

Fantastic Beasts is the type of film that has so much going on it’s all too easy to miss the little things — particularly when you realise how much effort goes into every single prop.

From the posters that pop up along the streets of New York to the books that line the shelves in people’s houses, everything has been carefully considered and crafted to slot neatly in to J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world.

The company behind these details — or “hero props”, as they’re known in the industry — is a graphic design studio called MinaLima. If you’ve ever seen a Harry Potter film, you’ve seen their work.

“Anything that’s scripted — in this case say the Marauder’s Map; The Daily Prophet; any of the books or letters or magazines — so anything that’s scripted that helps tell the story and keep it moving along, we would have to design them and usually make them as well,” Miraphora Mina, a graphic designer at MinaLima, told Mashable.

(2) YOU WON’T BELIEVE NUMBER 4. MeTV lists “8 mean, green facts about ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’”.

3. Boris Karloff is the narrator.

One of horror’s most respected actors voiced the children’s special. Originally, Geisel didn’t like Karloff’s casting because he feared it would make the program too scary.

grinch

(3) THE MUSIC MAN. Theater-goers are hearing someone else’s music in a Star Wars movie this month, but the maestro will be back on the podium soon. ScreenRant reports “Star Wars: John Williams Begins Recording Episode 8 Score This Month”.

Series spinoff, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, releases later this month and will be the first film in the series not scored by Williams. That distinction will instead go to Michael Giacchino (Doctor Strange), who took over for Alexandre Desplat (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) after reshoots delayed the start of the process. Unfortunately, this left Giacchino with only four weeks to finish the score.

In a recent discussion with John Williams for a piece in Variety, it was revealed that Williams will begin the process of scoring Star Wars: Episode VIII this December, and expects to continue the process through March-April of 2017. That leaves a 4 to 5-month time span for Williams to make the score really shine and potentially more time to spare since the film doesn’t release until December.

(4) TAOS TOOLBOX. Walter Jon Williams says applications started coming in on the first day.

December 1 is the first day to receive submissions for Taos Toolbox, the master class for writers of science fiction and fantasy, taught this year by Nancy Kress and Walter Jon Williams, along with guests George RR Martin, Steven Gould, and Emily Mah Tippetts.

And in fact applications have started to arrive right on schedule.

If you think you want to do this professionally, you can do yourself no bigger favor than to send us your application.

(5) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #8. The eighth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for an Autographed Book (Print or Audio) by Nicole Kornher-Stace.

Today’s auction is for an autographed copy of either the paperback or audio CD (your choice) of Kornher-Stace’s Norton-nominated YA novel ARCHIVIST WASP.

archivist-wasp-cover

About the Book:

Wasp’s job is simple. Hunt ghosts. And every year she has to fight to remain Archivist. Desperate and alone, she strikes a bargain with the ghost of a supersoldier. She will go with him on his underworld hunt for the long-lost ghost of his partner and in exchange she will find out more about his pre-apocalyptic world than any Archivist before her. And there is much to know. After all, Archivists are marked from birth to do the holy work of a goddess. They’re chosen. They’re special. Or so they’ve been told for four hundred years.

Archivist Wasp fears she is not the chosen one, that she won’t survive the trip to the underworld, that the brutal life she has escaped might be better than where she is going. There is only one way to find out.

(6) A GOOD START ON RECOVERY. Sarah A. Hoyt phrased her health update like this:

So, for the record, I’m still not dead.

While I did have some sort of a heart event, with continuing irregularities after, it is not in any way a “conventional heart attack.”  Those are the good news….

And she provides more diagnostic details in the post.

(7) FLINT NOT WELL. Eric Flint shared alarming health news of his own in a public post on Facebook today.

I’ve been quite sick for the past three months, with the kind of symptoms that are not easy to sort out. The main ones were: constant fatigue, getting tired easily, occasional dizziness, frequent shortness of breath.

I finally went to the doctor earlier this week, and he did some blood work that showed that my hemoglobin and iron had dropped through the floor. So, he send me to a gastrointestinal specialist and yesterday he did an upper endoscopy on me. (Which they call an EG…D for reasons that escape me.)

Anyway, great news! I have a bleeding ulcer in my stomach!

Well… okay, it’s not technically an ulcer because the stomach lining hasn’t been completely perforated. They’re calling it something like “erosion,” But what it means is that I’ve been losing blood internally, probably over a long period of time until the symptoms became noticeable.

Why do I call this “good news”? Because the alternative was a hell of a lot worse. I do have heart disease — quite mild, but it’s there –. and those same symptoms (fatigue, getting tired easily, shortness of breath, dizziness) are the classic symptoms that your heart’s starting to fly south for the winter.

I’ll take a little blood loss, thank you. My Viking ancestors would have spit the blood into their mead cups and kept partying. (One of their few saving graces.)

Tomorrow, Lu and I are going on the Sail to Success cruise for which I’m one of the instructors. (Yes, the doctor told me it was okay.)

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 3, 1973 — Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and Telly Savalas star in Horror Express.
  • December 3, 1993 — Guillermo Del Toro’s Cronos opens in Del Toro’s native Mexico.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born December 3, 1960 — Daryl Hannah
  • Born December 3, 1968 — Brendan Fraser

(10) THESE AREN’T THE ROOKIES THEY’RE LOOKING FOR. The Fort Worth Police Department is using a Star Wars theme in its recruiting videos. Applicant Darth Vader takes an interview in the first video.

And from Facebook, here’s FWPD’s introduction to the follow-up video:

The Galactic Empire’s second attempt at getting into a Fort Worth Police Academy class. The next civil service exam dates are Jan.10-11, 2017. We are accepting applications until Dec.12, 2016.

Visit http://fortworthtexas.gov/hr/PoliceRecruitment/ for more information. “Good luck and may the “force” be with you.”

 

(11) THE EXPECTED FANNISH INQUISITION. Representatives of three seated WSFS conventions gave updates and responded to questions at SMOFCon 34, the annual SF/F genre conrunners conference, December 3, in Rosemont (Chicago area), Illinois.

SMOFCon 34 Fannish Inquisition: 2017 NASFiC San Juan (16:00)

SMOFCon 34 Fannish Inquisition: 2017 Worldcon Helsinki (17:29)

SMOFCon 34 Fannish Inquisition: 2018 Worldcon San Jose (13:41)

(12) BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE. Gotta love that Finnish sense of humor. Wonder if they’ll do something special for Worldcon travelers?

(13) SUSPICIOUS PUPPY VOTING TREND. A post on the Merriam-Webster blog caught my eye — “In a Time of Uncertainty, a Divided Nation Searches for Puppies. So many puppies. But none of them will be Word of the Year”.

Words that trended this year: Fascism. Misogyny. Acrimonious. Nasty. Bigot. Puppy?

…But people didn’t just suddenly begin searching for puppies. Both puppies and flummadiddle began to trend after we observed that our top lookup has been fascism for the past several weeks.

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

Pixel Scroll 11/13/16 ROFLMPO – Rolling On File, Laughing My Pixels Off

(1) LITIGATION. File 770 reported in September about the Kickstarter appeal raising funds for Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go!, featuring the writing of David Gerrold, the art of Ty Templeton, and the editorial skills of ComicMix’s Glenn Hauman.

The holders of the Dr. Seuss rights have objected and sued for damages reports TMZ.com in “Oh, The Lawsuits You’ll See”.

Dr. Seuss‘ stories should NOT be rehashed with Vulcans or Klingons in the mix — at least not without permission … according to a new lawsuit.

The Doc’s camp just filed suit against ComicMix, which thought it’d be neat to make a ‘Star Trek‘ version of “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” In the docs, obtained by TMZ, the Seuss’ co. says ComicMix fused elements of the classic book with their own story, and even jacked actual prose from the original … all without asking.

They say ComicMix knew damn well it was doing the Doc dirty because its Kickstarter page for the project mentioned they might have to go to court to prove their work was parody and not a violation of copyright. They acknowledged, “we may even lose.”

Team Seuss is suing for damages. A lawyer for ComicMix tells us they love Dr. Seuss and hope to resolve the suit amicably.

(2) NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MARS SERIES. Don’t wait until the November 14 premiere. Stream the Mars premiere now.

The year is 2033, and humanity’s first crewed mission to Mars is about to become a reality. As a clock counts down the final 90 seconds to landing, an expert crew of astronauts endures the final harrowing moments before touching down on the red planet. Even with the best training and resources available, the maiden crew of the Daedalus spacecraft must push itself to the brink of human capability in order to successfully establish the first sustainable colony on Mars. Set both in the future and in the present day, the global miniseries event MARS blends feature film-caliber scripted elements set in the future with documentary vérité interviews with today’s best and brightest minds in modern science and innovation, illuminating how research and development is creating the space technology that will enable our first attempt at a mission to Mars.

(3) TAOS TOOLBOX. Walter Jon Williams announced today the “Most Famous Author in the World” George R.R. Martin will be joining the Taos Toolbox faculty as a special guest. The Taos Toolbox Writers Workshop takes place June 18-July 1, 2017.

George was our guest for the very first Taos Toolbox, and now he’s consented to return for our tenth anniversary. We’re pleased and flattered to have him, even if it’s only once per decade.

The other faculty are Walter Jon Williams, Nancy Kress, with special lecturers Steven Gold and E.M. Tippets.

(4) DINO DUTY. Tastes great? Less filling?  “Jurassic World 2 Will Be Both a Jurassic World Sequel and Jurassic Park 5, Says J. A. Bayona” at CinemaBlend.

Earlier today, I had the great pleasure of sitting down one-on-one with J.A. Bayona in promotion of his upcoming movie A Monster Calls, and it was towards the end of our chat that we talked a bit about his next project. I posed the aforementioned question to the filmmaker, and he not only enjoyed the challenge of the query, but explained why his installment in the dinosaur franchise will be both Jurassic World 2 and Jurassic Park 5.

(5) TOVAR OBIT. Lupita Tovar, the Mexican actress who starred in the 1931 Spanish-language version of Dracula that was shot at the same time on the same sets as the Bela Lugosi picture has died at the age of 108 according to The Hollywood Reporter.

… Lupita returned to Mexico to great acclaim to star in Santa (1932), her country’s first talking film, and later appeared in The Invader (1936) opposite Buster Keaton, Blockade (1938) with Henry Fonda, South of the Border (1939) with Gene Autry and The Westerner (1940) with Gary Cooper….

Lupita Tovar’s daughter is Susan Kohner, who earned an Oscar nomination for portraying the young woman who rejects her black mother (Juanita Moore) and tries to pass herself off as white in the 1959 Douglas Sirk melodrama Imitation of Life.

Other survivors include her grandchildren Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz, Kohner’s sons, who shared an Oscar screenplay nomination for About a Boy (2002).

Tovar was married to Czech-born producer and Hollywood agent Paul Kohner, who represented the likes of Greta Garbo, John Huston, Lana Turner, Ingmar Bergman, Yul Brynner, David Niven, Billy Wilder and Charles Bronson, from 1932 until his death in 1988.

(6) DRACULA EN ESPAÑOL. For those unfamiliar with the movie, here’s some background: “Night Shift: 6 Reasons to Watch Universal’s Spanish-language Dracula (1931)”.

They worked like children of the night, shooting from sundown to sunrise. Directed by a man who didn’t know a word of their language, the Spanish-speaking actors filmed an obscure alternative version of what would become one of the most famous movies of all time.

“Above all,” explains Lupita Tovar, the film’s heroine, “we wanted our version to be the best.” And, in many ways, it is.

For those of us who’ve watched and rewatched the Lugosi version, the simultaneously shot Drácula opens up a mind-boggling parallel universe—one with much improved camerawork and often more convincing acting.

This is a lavish, artful film in its own right, so much more than the “bonus feature” it’s listed as on home releases. If I haven’t hooked you already, here’s why any movie buff or horror fan needs to see Drácula.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • November 13, 1933 The Invisible Man premieres. Did you know: in order to achieve the effect that Claude Rains wasn’t there when his character took off the bandages, James Whale had him dress completely in black velvet and filmed him in front of a black velvet background.
  • November 13, 1940 — Walt Disney’s Fantasia premiered at the Broadway Theater in New York; first film to attempt to use stereophonic sound.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born November 13, 1955 — Whoopi Goldberg

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born November 13, 1947 – Joe Mantegna, who appeared in both the stage production and the Disney movie of Ray Bradbury’s Wonderful Ice Cream Suit.

(10) NORTHBOUND SEASON 2. Production has begun on GeekNation sci-fi series Northbound Season 2. Watch the Season 2 Teaser.

Northbound is a post-apocalyptic webseries set in a North American wilderness soon after a mysterious, cataclysmic event killed millions in a single day. Season 1 of the series is available to view for free exclusively through the entertainment website, GeekNation. The filmmakers are comprised of a Michigan and Los Angeles-based team that is dedicated to shooting in Michigan, and contributing to the long-term growth of the Upper Peninsula region.

Season 1, and the upcoming Season 2 of Northbound are designed as a prelude series to a feature film titled Northstar. Taken as a whole, The Northstar Saga will tell the story of a father as he works to discover why his daughter was one of the rare survivors to be rendered comatose after The Cataclysm. His journey will put him into contact (and inevitable conflict) with others that are struggling to rebuild lives, communities and an overall sense of purpose in a hazardous new world.

northbound-northtar

(11) PHILOSOPHICAL APPROACH. Ethan Mills reviews the movie Arrival (beware copious spoilers) at Examined Worlds.

Director Denis Villeneuve has created a beautiful adaptation, from the striking cinematography to Jóhann Jóhannsson’s unnervingly sublime score. Amy Adams portrays the quiet strength and struggle of the main character, Dr. Louise Banks. I think I speak for most of my fellow college professors when I say it’s great to see a college professor depicted in a movie as a full human being rather than a pompous jerk, an emotionless egghead, or the absent-minded comic relief.

(12) STYLING ALIENS. In the Washington Post, Stephanie Merry takes the aliens in Arrival as a cue to look at how Hollywood has looked at aliens in sf films of the past 40 years, including Close Encounters, Mars Attacks! and Edge of Tomorrow. Beware mild spoilers in “The aliens in ‘Arrival’ are stunning. How do they compare to other film creatures?”

The aliens in “Arrival” are spectacular, and that’s no small feat. In most “first contact” movies, the otherworldly creatures almost always let us down. Either they’re predictable — you know, little green men speaking an echoey, indecipherable language or stereotypical “Greys” with the big eyes and the egghead — or they look fake.

Carlos Huante tested many iterations with director Denis Villeneuve before they settled on the final design for “Arrival,” which came out this week and follows a linguist (Amy Adams) who’s trying to understand what these visitors want. The creature artist first considered a very conventional look but also tried out beings that were more like stone creatures; ones composed of stacks of paper; and egg-shaped critters ambling around on spider legs.

(13) ROLL ‘EM. Victoria Silverwolf at Galactic Journey finds fiction sometimes parallels Hollywood in “[November 13, 1961] (Un)moving Pictures (December 1961 Fantastic)”.

Back to the movies.  Point, by John T. Phillifent (perhaps better known under his pen name John Rackham), deals with a group of filmmakers who travel to Venus to make their latest blockbuster.  The proposed feature involves beautiful female Venusians, and seems intended to provide a bit of satire of silly science fiction movies such as Queen of Outer Space.  Although the author’s description of Venus is a bit more realistic than that, it’s still not terribly plausible.  The Planet of Love is a very dangerous place, inhabited by all kinds of deadly creatures, but its atmosphere is breathable, and humans can walk around on its hot, steamy surface without spacesuits.  The plot deals with a pilot who agrees to take the film crew into the Venusian wilderness.  As you might expect, things quickly go very wrong, and the story turns into a violent account of survival in a hostile environment.  All in all it’s a fairly typical adventure yarn, competent but hardly noteworthy.  Two stars.

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

After The Fall – Walter Jon Williams’ Praxis Universe

Walter Jon Williams

Walter Jon Williams

By JJ: As part of my 2016 Hugo reading, I had on my list Impersonations, by Walter Jon Williams. I hadn’t read any of his books up to now (but hey, WJW, thanks for the beautiful color postcard from Worldcon; the synopsis not only convinced me to read the book, but I’m using it as a bookmark). So I first got hold of, and read, the three books in the Dread Empire’s Fall [Praxis] series, to which this short novel is a kind-of-sequel (although it reads well as a standalone, if you haven’t read the trilogy).

Oh, wow. If, like me, you are one of those people who at first loved the Honor Harrington series but became disenchanted with the endless infodumps of ship and weapons designs, missile and laserstrike counts, and political proselytizing… then this is your antidote: fast-paced, tension-filled, fun military hard SF adventure, without all that associated tedious stuff.

(Fair notice: all Amazon links are referrer URLs which benefit non-profit SFF fan website Worlds Without End)

The Praxis (excerpt) (2003)

wjw-thepraxis

For millennia, the Shaa have subjugated the universe, forcing the myriad sentient races to bow to their joyless tyranny. But the Shaa will soon be no more. The dread empire is in its rapidly fading twilight, and with its impending fall comes the promise of a new galactic order… and bloody chaos. A young Terran naval officer marked by his lowly birth, Lt. Gareth Martinez is the first to recognize the insidious plot of the Naxid – the powerful, warlike insectoid society that was enslaved before all others – to replace the masters’ despotic rule with their own. Barely escaping a swarming surprise attack, Martinez and Caroline Sula, a pilot whose beautiful face conceals a deadly secret, are now the last hope for freedom for every being who ever languished in Shaa chains – as the interstellar battle begins against a merciless foe whose only perfect truth is annihilation.

The Sundering (excerpt) (2004)

wjw-thesundering

The Dread Empire of the Shaa is no more, following the death of the last oppressor. But freedom remains elusive for the myriad sentient races enslaved for ten centuries, as an even greater terror arises. The Naxids – a powerful insectoid species themselves subjugated until the recent Shaa demise – plan to fill the vacuum with their own bloody domination, and have already won a shattering victory with superior force and unimaginable cruelty. But two heroes survived the carnage at Magaria: Lord Gareth Martinez and the fiery, mysterious gun pilot Lady Caroline Sula, whose courageous exploits are becoming legend in the new history of galactic civil war. Yet their cunning, skill, and bravery may be no match for the overwhelming enemy descending upon the loyalist stronghold of Zanshaa, as the horrific battle looms that will determine the structure of the universe – and who shall live to inhabit it – for millennia to come.

Conventions of War (excerpt) (2005)

wjw-conventionsofwar

The universe has fallen into bloody chaos now that the dread empire of the tyrannical Shaa is no more – at the mercy of the merciless insectoid Naxid, who now hunger for domination. But the far-flung human descendants of Terra have finally tasted liberty, and their warrior heroes will not submit. Separated by light-years, Lord Gareth Martinez and the mysterious guerrilla fighter Caroline Sula each pursue a different road to victory in tomorrow’s ultimate battle — for the new order will be far more terrible than the old… unless one last, desperate stratagem can hold a shattered galaxy together.

Investments (novella) (2004)

wjw-investments

Unable to find a meaningful posting due to the hostility of his superiors, Captain Lord Gareth Martinez has accepted a meaningless post as Inspector General of Chee, a newly-settled world. Intending nothing more than a pleasant vacation with his family, he first stumbles across a murderous conspiracy, and then learns he must battle a literal cosmic menace that threatens to wipe out all life on the planet.

(A first cut of this story appeared in Robert Silverberg’s Science Fiction Book Club anthology Between Worlds, but Williams did not get the expected opportunity to revise it before publication – so this standalone e-book is the revised, preferred “director’s cut” version.)

Impersonations (excerpt) (2016)
Tor.com, edited by Jonathan Strahan
cover art by Jaime Jones, design by Christine Foltzer

wjw-impersonations

The people of the Imperium think of Captain Caroline Sula as the last remaining heir of an aristocratic line, an ace military pilot, and a brilliant insurgency leader responsible for the retaking of their home planet from a conquering species. They’re right on 2 of those 3 counts – but the truth of the other is a deep, dark secret which torments her in her sleep. And now someone from her past appears who may blow that secret wide open – never mind the fact that someone is setting her up to be sent to prison, and someone else is out to kill her.

The Praxis books are full of clever military strategy and battles – plus some bonus guerrilla warfare strategy in retaking a conquered planet. The worldbuilding is excellent. The character development, for the most part, is devoted mostly to the two main characters, whose stories are told in alternating chapters – and one of those is a flawed, but fantastic, strong female character.

Not only is this on my 2016 Hugo Best Novel shortlist, the series is on my Hugo Best Series shortlist.

Bonus: WJW is an avid scuba diver, and as a diver, I have enjoyed immensely reading the trip reports he posts on his website.

Filer Comments:

  • Mark-kitteh: at c50,000 words it’s a short novel for award purposes not a novella. It features Sula, but he goes to some lengths to work her backstory in to help it standalone. I’m not sure how well that will work, as the theme is heavily influenced by her backstory and it’s one thing to have had a quick explanation and another to have really got into it through a full novel. It’s made me jump back and re-read book 1 though.
  • Rob Thornton: Just started Walter Jon Williams’ “Impersonations: A Novel of the Praxis” and, like the other books in the series, are perfect Retief-meets-Grimes fodder for times like these. To me, the Praxis series is Baen SF for people who don’t like Baen SF.
  • Simon Bisson: My take on the Praxis books is that WJW realised that Drake Majestraal was too optimistic, and decided to explore that scenario in a more realistic mode. (And if you’ve not read WJW’s Majestraal novels, you’re in for a treat).

About the Author

Walter Jon Williams is the author of thirty volumes of fiction, in addition to works in film, television, comics, and the gaming field. His works have won two Nebulas and a Sidewise Award and have been repeatedly named Finalists for the Philip K. Dick, Sturgeon, Nebula, Prometheus, Sidewise, HOMer, SF Chronicle, Asimov’s and Locus Awards; he’s appeared on bestseller lists, and he’s a world traveler, scuba diver, and a black belt in Kenpo Karate.

Williams began his career by writing the sea-adventure historical fiction series Privateers & Gentlemen. After the market for historicals died, he began a new career as a science fiction writer. His first SFF novel to attract serious public attention was Hardwired. He has written cyberpunk, near-future thrillers, classic space opera, “new” space opera, post-cyberpunk epic fantasy new weird, and the world’s only gothic western science fiction police procedural, and he’s been a short-fiction contributor to George RR Martin’s Wild Cards project.

Pixel Scroll 10/7/16 You Keep Using That Pixel. I Do Not Thing It Scrolls How You Think It Does

.(1) NEW YORK COMIC CON. Tor.com’s Leah Schnelbach says fans packed the room to hear “You Can be Mythic!” Ta-Nehisi Coates, Steven Orlando, and Tee ‘Vixen’ Franklin Discuss Race, Sexuality, and Representation in Comics.

Gray kicked off by asking Coates about the reception of the Midnight Angels—Aneka and Ayo, two Dora Milaje warriors who have left their traditional roles and become fugitives together. While the crowd cheered at their mention, Coates self-deprecatingly joked, “If you see people on the internet who love it, you can’t tell if it’s the same 20 people.”

On why he was drawn to these characters, Coates said: “Many of the male figures in T’challa’s life had been killed. So the only people who were left in his life were women, like the Dora Milaje, and their story was told through his eyes. I was interested in what the perspective might be of a person who’d given up their entire life to protect one man—I mean, they address that man as “Beloved.” What about their love for themselves? What about their love for each other? Now that the social contract in Wakanda is fraying, what will happen to those feelings?” Coates further talked about Ayo and Aneka becoming lovers, and said “I think if you check yourself, you can open yourself to everybody’s worldview. You don’t have insert Black people, you don’t have to insert queer people, insert women—they’re already all around you.”

(2) TURNOVER AT WORLDCON 75. Dave Weingart is no longer running Music programming for Worldcon 75 for reasons he discusses at length at his LiveJournal.

(3) NORSTRILIAN VOICE. Walter Jon Williams expresses appreciation for “The What-He-Did: The Poetic Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith” at Tor.com.

She got the which of the what-she-did,
Hid the bell with a blot, she did,
But she fell in love with a hominid.
Where is the which of the what-she-did?

This cryptic verse opens “The Ballad of Lost C’mell,” by Cordwainer Smith, and may serve as emblematic both of some of the author’s persistent themes and his own rich and distinct strangeness. Smith was one of the Great Peculiars of science fiction, producing strong, intricate, highly-wrought, highly weird stories that will never be mistaken for the works of anyone else. No one else had a mind like Smith.

(4) BBC4 ART CONTEST. Get your crayons ready — “Competition – Draw Neil Gaiman’s Stardust for Radio 4”.

BBC4 will be coming out with a radio adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust in December. In conjunction with that, there’s a drawing contest open to 1) 16-and-unders, and 2) 17-and-olders. Winning images will be used as episode images. Deadline October 26th. More details here: Stardust – Competition – Draw Neil Gaiman’s Stardust for Radio 4 – BBC Radio 4

(5) NBA SHORTLIST. The finalists for the National Book Awards have been announced. One of them is one genre interest – Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railway. The winners will be announced November 16.

(6) IT GETS VERSE. Yesterday was National Poetry Day, prompting ULTRAGOTHA to revisit January’s epic post “Filers Destroy Poetry”.

(7) LAST HURRAH FOR PROF. X? CinemaBlend thinks this is the end, my friend – “New Wolverine 3 Image Reveals A Shocking Look At Professor X”.

Ever since it was announced that Patrick Stewart would be part of the last Wolverine film we’ve wondered exactly what his role would be. While the image doesn’t give us any hints toward answering that question, it does make us wonder if Hugh Jackman won’t be the only one saying goodbye to his famous role when the movie is over. With the Professor X role apparently in the capable hands of James McAvoy within the current X-Men timeline, there’s no specific need for Patrick Stewart going forward, and if Professor X were to pass away by the end of this movie, we wouldn’t be shocked.

(8) AUTHOR DISAVOWS GHOSTS IN POPULAR CULTURE. Richard Bleiler says to take his name off —

Some time ago I contributed essays to a work entitled “Ghosts in Popular Culture and Legend,” ed. by June Pulliam and Anthony J. Fonseca (ABC-Clio, 2016).

When I received my copy I discovered that my encyclopedic contributions were rewritten, egregiously so. Paragraphs and sentences were rearranged and dropped, continuity was disrupted and destroyed, and — worst of all — sentences that I did not write were added without attribution. At no time was I asked if these changes were acceptable. Likewise, at no time was I given any indication that there were any issues with my contributions or asked if I could revise them.

I do not believe that I am being overly sensitive. I am used to being edited, but what was done to my contributions to Ghosts in Popular Culture and Legend is beyond the pale. It is completely unacceptable.

I am therefore taking the (for me) unique step of disavowing the contributions in Ghosts in Popular Culture and Legend that were published under my name. They do not represent my scholarship; they should not have my name attached to them. I have thus asked ABC-Clio:

1. Not to use my name in any advertisements for Ghosts in Popular Culture and Legend;

2. To remove my name from any additional printings of Ghosts in Popular Culture and Legend;

3. To remove my name from all electronic editions of Ghosts in Popular Culture and Legend.

(9) THE MIGHTY KIRK. Matt Melia answers the question “Just How Heroic Is Star Trek’s ‘I Don’t Like to Lose’ James T. Kirk?” for PopMatters.

For this writer, Captain James T. Kirk, of the USS Enterprise, has always been the most iconic and quintessential of television heroes and furthermore, possibly the most recognisable and identifiable as such. From a casual perspective, Jim Kirk embodies the most normative of heroic values: bravery, romance, adventure, leadership, nobility, instinctiveness as well as a penchant for recklessness (in the Season 1 episode “The Corbomite Maneuvre” he is also shown to be something of a gambler, bluffing of the alien, Balok, that the Enterprise is loaded with the non-existent substance Corbomite). But how may we further understand and define “heroism” and unpack it in televisual terms? How does Star Trek, as a cultural text, frame and interrogate the problematic and often contradictory concept of heroism, filtering its inquisitions through the character of Captain Kirk?

(10) FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB. At the next installment of the New York-based reading series, hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present: Jack Ketchum & Caitlín R. Kiernan, October 19th. Starts 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar.

(11) WEEPING DEVILS. Joch McArthur delivers a rant about SF and “being political”.

… Or to clarify, to all the straight white cis dudes bitching and moaning about the blackness of Luke Cage or the PTSD discussion in Jessica Jones or Evan Rachel Wood talking about feminist aspects of Westworld or Wonder Woman’s queerness or any of the other white tears hot topics of the year that are constantly blowing up my social media feed (“why do they have to make everything political!!! It’s just a tv show!!!!!!!” *straight white cis male tears here*)

(12) HISTORIC COMICS APA SIGNING OFF. Capa-alpha, the oldest comics-fandom APA, started in October 1964, will close with its December mailing, #626. Fred Patten has the details.

CAPA-alpha, known as K-a for short, was one of the influences behind the startup of comics fandom in the early 1960s.  It’s been going for 52 years.  Some of the leading names in the comics industry began as comics fans in K-a.

Paper APAs are considered dinosaurs today, but the immediate cause of the APA’s cancellation is its long-running Central Mailer, Douglas Jones, having a foot amputated due to advancing diabetes.  Jones cannot continue as Central Mailer, and none of the current members (23, with a waiting list of 7) feel that they can replace him.

(13) STICK YOUR FOOT IN IT. Dangerous Minds knows where you can find Cthulhu Approved High-Heeled Tentacle Shoes.

chtulhu-high-heel

Totally insane-looking—and probably not practicable footwear—tentacle high-heeled shoes made by fashion designer, costume designer and shoe designer Kermit Tesoro. I can’t imagine walking in these. Hell, I can’t even walk in heels to begin with!

I just checked out Kermit Tesoro’s Facebook page to see if he had any other equally freaky high-heeled designs and it looks like he’s also got a Venus flytrap shoe.

[Thanks to Elusis, Fred Patten, Andrew Porter, Bruce D. Arthurs, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jameson Quinn.]

Pixel Scroll 11/17 How to win friends and influence pixels

(1) Star Wars is causing a great disturbance in the toy aisles:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp. and other retailers have loaded up on plastic lightsabers, robotic Yodas and other toys tied to the coming movie, crowding out shelf space and inventory dollars elsewhere in the toy section. The big bets are pushing orders for toy makers, such as Mattel Inc., closer to the holidays and squeezing some smaller competitors in the $22 billion U.S. toy industry.

One property hit hard: “Peanuts.”

Iconix Brand Group Inc., which controls the license to the newest animated Charlie Brown movie, this month cut its sales outlook from “Peanuts” licenses by $24 million for the year largely because it miscalculated how many Snoopy dolls and other “Peanuts” products retailers would buy.

(2) Sean Wallace advised on Facebook:

Authors: always make sure that a year’s best allowance is in your short story contracts. If you need to see an example of what I mean, Tor.com’s contracts are pretty good on this score: “The Author will not, without written permission from the Publisher, publish or permit publication of the Work or any material based upon the Work in any form or medium until one year after the date of first publication of the Work by the Publisher. Anthologies of the year’s best science fiction or fantasy shall be exempted from the one-year restriction set forth in this paragraph.”

(3) Aliette de Bodard’s guest post on Over The Effing Rainbow deals with “Science-fiction, fantasy, and all the things in between”.

I used to be quite rigid about genre separation: in particular, though I read both fantasy and science fiction, I wasn’t very keen on “merging” them together. In recent years, I’ve found myself being more and more elastic with my definition of genre, and in particular with my definition of “science fiction”.

Partly, it’s because expectations are such a double-edged sword: they are a helpful guide, but like any guide, they can become a cage. It’s very easy–and a very slippery slope–to go from “readers expect this” to “I shouldn’t deviate from this”. Much as I like being aware of what is done and why, I grew increasingly uncomfortable with the (over)splitting into genres and subgenres: I found that tropes, used too many times and without the infusion of freshness from an outside source, calcified into books that were…. ok, but not good, or not great. Books that I read to pass the time (and there’s nothing wrong with that!), but that I felt were missing something. Part of the reason why I read is to find new things, new ideas; and I wasn’t finding that in books that adhered too rigidly to expectations. Ie, a little rulebreaking from time to time never hurt anyone! (also, if you’re going to break a rule, break it good and hard. My personal motto *grin*)

The second thing that made me uncomfortable was becoming aware of the way “science fiction” was used to elevate certain works, and dismiss others altogether…

(4) Walter Jon Williams says Taos Toolbox must move its location, but is still on for 2016.

Taos Toolbox logo

Yes, there will be a Taos Toolbox next year! I’ve had to delay the announcement due to our losing our lodging, and to the fact that there will be massive construction in the Ski Valley next year.

The master class for writers of science fiction and fantasy will be held July 17-30, 2016, at Angel Fire, NM, just a short distance from Taos.

Teaching will be Nancy Kress, Walter Jon Williams, indiepub guru Emily Mah Tippetts, and James S.A. Corey, author of The Expanse.

(5) When his bike was stolen and he was without transportation to his two jobs many miles from home, conrunner Adam Beaton turned to GoFundMe.

That’s why the money will be used for a scooter. I don’t need anything fancy, and I’m not looking for a car because I’d rather not have another bill for insurance on my plate right now. A simple scooter doesn’t require a motorcycle license and also doesn’t require insurance. It’s also far less expensive than buying a car, even a used one, which is why I’ve tried to keep the target goal as low as possible. Honestly I just need simple transportation that I can use to get me to-and-from work so I can continue being a productive member of society and not lose my jobs.

The community came through with the $600 he needed.

Wow. In less than two days, the goal was made. I’m very blessed to have such great friends and family. Especially some of you who I know are also facing some difficult times and still helped me out anyway. Thank you, thank you, thank you. If you’d still like to contribute, it’ll definitely help in getting a scooter that’s say, a bit less used.

(6) Today In History

  • November 17, 2008Twilight, the movie that launched a global teenage vampire romance phenomenon, premiered in Los Angeles.

(7) “New LEGO Slippers Will Spare Parents The Unique Pain They Know All Too Well” says Huffington Post.

Now the LEGO brand has teamed up with French advertising agency Brand Station to create some slippers with extra padding that will protect parents from this tortuous sensation.

 

Lego slippers

(8) Another inventor has come up with the “Prosthetic Tentacle”.

A student designer has created a prosthetic tentacle as an alternative to artificial human limbs,

Kaylene Kau from Taipei made the remarkable invention as part of a design school project.

The limb would be able to grip many different objects by curling up with the help of a simple motor.

It’s actually a pretty simple invention. The controls on the limb tell the motor to curl or uncurl, and there is no ‘hardwire’ link to the nervous system, as seen in some of the most advanced robotic or artificial limbs in development.

 

Prosthetic Tentacle

(9) Daniel Dern sends links to the SF-themed comic strips he’s seen so far this week.

(10) Famous Monsters #283 sports a Star Wars-themed “variant newsstand cover” by artist Rob Prior. The issue includes interviews with Mark Hamill on Star Wars, Greg Nicotero on The Walking Dead, and Sam J. Jones on Flash Gordon.

FM 283 cover SW

(11) “Yorick: A Unique Life-Size Skull Carved From a Crystallized Gibeon Meteorite” at Junk Culture:

A rare and singular combination of natural history and modern art, Lee Downey’s “Yorick.” is a life-size skull carved from a large Gibeon meteorite that crashed in the Kalahari Desert in Namibia a thousand years ago. An artist who is known for selecting exotic materials with which to work, Downey acid-etched the carving to uncover the Gibeon meteorite’s singular, lattice-like pattern. “A symbol of death, of eternity, of immortality, of demise and rebirth.” he explains, “Of any material I could think of to fashion an accurate human skull out of, this Gibeon meteorite best embodies the ‘mystery’ most acutely.”

 

skull2The skull will be auctioned by Bonhams on November 24, perhaps for as much as $400,000. The auction webpage explains the origin story of this type of meteorite.

ABOUT GIBEON

  • Gibeon is iron-based and one of the rarest forms of meteorite.
  • It originated billions of years ago from an unstable planet that existed briefly between Jupiter and Mars.
  • When the planet broke apart, a section of its core traveled through space for four billion years.
  • Only the vacuum of space – which provides no surrounding molecules through which heat can be conducted away from the meteorite – allows the prolonged period of intense heat necessary for the alloys of iron meteorites to crystallize.
  • During its journey, the meteorite’s alloys crystallized to form an octahedral crystalline structure that cannot be recreated on earth.
  • When it met the earth’s atmosphere, about 1000 years ago, it exploded over the Kalahari Desert.
  • The iron rain formed a meteorite field in Great Namaqualand, Namibia, which was first discovered by the local Nama people.
  • A 48,000 gram block was cut out of the heart of a complete, 280 kg iron meteorite, which Downey then painstakingly carved down to the carving’s 21,070 grams.
  • Radiometric dating estimates the age of crystallization of Gibeon’s metal at approximately 4 billion years.

(12) The Doc Dave Winiewicz Frazetta Collection will be auctioned by Profiles in History on Friday, December 11 at 11:00 a.m. PST. Catalog and flipbook at the link.

(13) Winiewicz holds forth on “The Essence of Frazetta” in this YouTube video.

(14) The previous pair of news items come from John Holbo’s discussion of fantasy art and “Men wearing a military helmet and nothing else in Western Art” in “Frazetta Auction – and French Academic Art” at Crooked Timber. The post begins with a revelation about Frazetta’s source for images of fallen warriors in two of his works.

(15) Shelf Awareness editor Marilyn Dahl plugs Larry Correia’s latest book tour and adds some career history.

Larry Correia took a somewhat unexpected journey on his way to becoming a bestselling author. He self-published his first book, Monster Hunter International, when he was an accountant and a gun dealer, and discovered how fundamental handselling is, along with a bit of luck. Don Blyly of Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore in Minneapolis, Minn., asked for a copy, read it and finished it in one night. He purchased a large number of POD (print on demand) copies for the store and handsold them. Then fate appeared. The week Uncle Hugo’s began selling the book, Entertainment Weekly ran the store’s bestseller list, with Monster Hunter International at #3. Toni Weisskopf, publisher of Baen Books, speedily signed Larry to a one-book deal, which turned into 16 in less than six years. In addition, while promoting his POD edition, Correia traveled throughout the Mid- and Southwest, becoming a bookseller favorite. He’s launching Son of the Black Sword with a tour that started in New England, continued to the Pacific Northwest, then traveled down the West Coast and across the desert, wrapping up in Scottsdale, Ariz.

(16) Stuart Starosta of Fantasy Literature scored an interview with Cixin Liu.

What was it like when The Three-Body Problem won the 2015 Hugo Award for Best SF novel and was nominated for the 2014 Nebula Award? Is it exciting to discover so much interest in your works overseas? When you first wrote the series, was it intended mainly for Chinese readers or did you imagine there would be English readers as well?

I was in Chicago for the Nebula Awards in June but was too busy to attend the Hugo Awards ceremony. Yet The Three-Body Problem was awarded the Hugo Award so I was disappointed that I missed this opportunity. But I am delighted that the translator, Ken Liu, was able to receive the award. His excellent translation played a very important role in earning the award so I have always believed that we won the award together. I am of course very happy that my own work is so successful outside China. The genre of science fiction was introduced to China during the end of the Qing Dynasty by Westerners. One century later, China’s science fiction work is finally being published and recognized in the West. But from another perspective, science fiction novels are the most global type of literature compared to other translated works. These works often involve many aspects of Chinese culture that may be foreign to Westerners so science fiction in translation should be easier for a Western audience to understand.

(17) And Sasquan, in the interests of promoting peace and world brotherhood… no, cancel that story. David D’Antonio, 2015 Hugo Ceremony Director, is still chasing after people to give them souvenir asterisks.

The 2015 Hugo Ceremony is over, and we’re reminded that not every nominee could be present. During the Pre-Hugo Reception we offered all present their own 2015 Hugo Asterisk to commemorate an extraordinary year and signify the several records set (including the record number of Hugo voters). Should any of those nominees who couldn’t be present desire one, we do have extras and will be happy to send one along. Please contact us at hugoceremony@sasquan.org at your earliest convenience. Unfortunately, that email list will be closed after two (2) months so we regret that we will not be able to fulfill requests after that time.

Sasquan attendees could get their own asterisk during the convention for a suggested donation to Sir Terry Pratchett’s* favorite charity, The Orangutan Foundation. $2800 was raised and has been sent to help orangutans at Leakey Center.

 

Sasquan asterisk

(18) A photographer imagines the daily, mundane life of Darth Vader at Mashable.

Vader brushing teeth

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, JJ, Alan T. Baumler, Michael J. Walsh, John King Tarpinian, and Paul Weimer for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Apply For 2015 Taos Toolbox

A few openings remain for writers who want to attend 2015 Taos Toolbox, a two-week master class in sf and fantasy to be taught by Walter Jon Williams and Nancy Kress, with special lecturer Carrie Vaughn.

They caution this is not a workshop for beginners. It is recommended for those who have sold a few stories, or already been to Clarion or Odyssey. It’s also (though not exclusively) oriented to novel-writing.

Participants will spend most of their time reading, writing, and offering critiques. They’ll also hear lectures and engage in activities revolving around:

  • the art of worldbuilding
  • plotting a novel
  • pacing a novel
  • crafting a character
  • preparing a package to sell your work, including crafting an outline
  • how magic works (in fiction)
  • the art of rewriting
  • how to read a literary contract
  • what to do when Hollywood calls

The workshop takes place June 28-July 11, 2015 in Taos, NM.

Taos Toolbox Taking Applications

Writers can now apply to attend the 2014 Taos Toolbox, a two-week master class in sf and fantasy to be taught by Walter Jon Williams and Nancy Kress, with special lecturer Ian Tregillis.

They caution this is not a workshop for beginners. It is recommended for those who have sold a few stories, or already been to Clarion or Odyssey. It’s also (though not exclusively) oriented to novel-writing.

Participants will spend most of their time reading, writing, and offering critiques. They’ll also hear lectures and engage in activities revolving around:

  • the art of worldbuilding
  • plotting a novel
  • pacing a novel
  • crafting a character
  • preparing a package to sell your work, including crafting an outline
  • how magic works (in fiction)
  • the art of rewriting
  • how to read a literary contract
  • what to do when Hollywood calls

The workshop takes place July 6-19, 2014 in Taos, NM.