Inside Westworld

Curated by Carl Slaughter: New Rockstars, Screen Prism, Source Fed Nerd, and The Why take on the layers of storytelling in the Westworld television series.

(1) The storytelling voice comes from within, i.e., the characters, not from without, i.e., the narrator.

(2) Season 1 Finale

(3) Westworld Timeline

(4) Season 2: Theories and Predictions

(5) Westworld Trivia

Pixel Scroll 11/15/16 The Manhunt Extended Across More Than One Hundred Pixels And Eight Box Tick Scrolls

(1) NAMING CALLS. Katie Rask announced that the YA Award Survey has had over 1,200 entries so far.

(2) THE SHIRT OFF YOUR BACK. The gift-giving season approaches, so it’s time to pay another visit to the Litographs store, where you can pick up something from The Princess Bride movie, or Daniel Jose Older’s Shadowshaper, or quite a few other genre authors from Diana Gabaldon and Ellen Kushner to Kurt Vonnegut and H. P. Lovecraft.

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(3) LINGUISTICS IN SF. Rowan Hooper’s piece for New Scientist looks at the use of linguistics in Arrival to give a survey of how sf films have treated linguistics, with references to Contact and Interstellar — “The science behind the twisting alien linguistics of Arrival.

Science fiction thrillers usually send in gun-toting heroes like Will Smith or Tom Cruise to kick invading alien butt. Arrival is completely, wonderfully different: it sends in a linguist, played by Amy Adams.

“Language,” one character says, “is the first weapon drawn in a conflict.” The big question to ask the aliens: what is their purpose on Earth?

In Contact, the aliens used prime numbers as a Rosetta stone that could be used to decrypt their communication; in Close Encounters of the Third Kind they helpfully used five musical tones in a major scale, presumably because vibrating strings have the same harmonics in other parts of our galaxy.

(4) MR. SCI-FI NEEDS SPACE. Storage space, that is — anybody want to store a spaceship?

Writer-Director-Producer Marc Zicree needs your help! Part of the hero set of Space Command (half the floor) needs a free home! (The rest is in storage). He’s been working to get overhead down on costs such as rent, while he’s busy at work completing the two-hour pilot of Space Command and selling the show. Have some of your garage or yard free to give us some space for our spaceship floor? You can help!

 

(5) INTO THE WEST ONCE MORE. HBO has renewed Westworld reports the New York Times.

“Westworld,” an expensive sci-fi drama, had been sidetracked by development problems and its October debut was later than expected. Before it had its premiere, HBO executives were privately saying they were unsure if it would land with its audience. But landed it has. “Westworld” has regularly been the No.-3-highest-rated scripted TV show in cable, drawing nearly three million viewers each week. HBO said on Monday that after adding up additional metrics like DVR, HBO Go and HBO Now views, the show is averaging 11.7 million viewers per episode, a figure they said is higher than “Game of Thrones” and “True Detective” at similar points in their freshman seasons. And like the first season of “True Detective,” it has ignited a lot of commentary online.

(6) SERIES BASED ON ATWOOD NOVEL. Hulu is planning a 10-episode adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale.

Taking a cue from Netflix, Hulu isn’t slowing down with its original programming. Today, the streaming service announced that it’s ordered a full series adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood’s seminal sci-fi novel. It centers on a totalitarian society where the birth rate is falling, and fertile women are placed in sexual slavery as “handmaids” to help humanity repopulate. Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men, Top of the Lake) will star as Offred, a handmaid working in the home of a government official named The Commander. Her main goal? To find her daughter, all the while trying to deal with her low place in society.

(7) OUTRÉ LIMITS. Sheila Williams explains why the current issue of Asimov’s consists of all fantasy stories.

Welcome to our annual slightly spooky issue. The fall double issue is always long in the making. Throughout the year, we see stories that land a little outside Asimov’s, admittedly rather soft, parameters. While we do publish one or two stories in each issue that could be called fantasy, surreal fiction, or slipstream, our focus is primarily on science fiction. Of course I get a lot of traditional science fiction story submissions, but I see a lot of uncanny submissions, too. The average issue of Asimov’s rarely features ghosts, witches, or werewolves, so during the year I tend to set aside many of my favorite outré tales while I wait to lay out the October/November issue.

(8) I KNOW. The actress kept this news on ice for 40 years — “Carrie Fisher Reveals She Had an Affair With Harrison Ford on ‘Star Wars’: ‘It Was So Intense’”.

Carrie Fisher is finally going public with a secret she has guarded closely for 40 years: When she was 19, she and Harrison Ford, then a 33-year-old married father of two, had a whirlwind three-month affair while filming the original Star Wars in 1976.

“It was so intense,” the actress-author, 60, tells PEOPLE exclusively of the real-life romance die-hard fans of the franchise have wished for since Han Solo and Princess Leia captured hearts on-screen.

(9) POP CULTURE QUEST. The actor who convinced California to pass a law about authenticating collectibles now has turned his interest into a TV show — “Mark Hamill on Turning Professional Toy and Collectibles Explorer”.

Hamill has launched a new series, Mark Hamill’s Pop Culture Quest, on the recently-launched Comic-Con HQ subscription service – you can watch the first episode right now via DC Comics’ YouTube channel.

On the series, Hamill — an avid toy and memorabilia collector himself — travels to see different notable collections, from classic Godzilla and other Japanese-created toys kept in a fan’s home to the iconic Batman comics and items on display at DC Comics’ headquarters. I spoke to Hamill about how the series came to be, what it’s like for him to interview the subjects, and more, including his own personal history as a collector….

IGN: As we’re doing an interview right now, I’m curious, doing this show, do you enjoy getting to be the interviewer, having been on the other side of it so many times?

Hamill: Oh yes, absolutely. That’s part of the fun. I thought, “Boy, I could really get used to this.” You’re right. It’s role reversal. One thing that I discovered… Because you look at the schedule and it’s like, “We’re going to do a show about a guy who collects shoes!?” That doesn’t really grab me, but then you meet the person and it’s really the shared trait that all collectors have that you relate to and then you hear the personal stories of how they got started on whatever collection they have and that’s the connective tissue. So that’s part of the fun. I don’t personally collect some of these things, but I love seeing other people who do.

(10) NAME CHANGE. Seattle’s EMP is now Museum of Pop Culture—MoPOP.

As of Saturday, November 19, EMP will officially be named Museum of Pop Culture—MoPOP. As you know, our museum encompasses so much more than music, and as we look toward the future, MoPOP reflects the entirety of the museum and where we are headed.

Spanning science fiction, fantasy, horror, fashion, sports, and video games, MoPOP reflects our vision for curating, exploring, and supporting the creative works that shape and inspire our lives. While the name of the museum is evolving, our mission remains the same: to bring genuine human experience and perspective to pop culture through our exhibits, programs, and events that invite exploration and inspire creativity.

We are so excited to showcase the breadth of the museum and celebrate pop culture in all its diversity with our Pop Culture Party, an all-day fest that is free to the public this Saturday. Admission includes entry to all MoPOP galleries—including Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds—and will feature live music, architectural tours, pop culture games, and more fun for guests of all ages.

(11) SUBSTANDARD DANCE. Cemetery Dance has been delisted by SFWA.

Please note that, as of November 1, 2016, Cemetery Dance is no longer a SFWA-qualifying market. In 2014, SFWA increased the standard of payment from 5¢/word to 6¢/word, and this publication has not increased its pay rate to keep pace. In addition, payment for stories is capped at $250, regardless of length. Cemetery Dance was alerted in September about the issue and their upcoming de-listing and has declined to raise its rates or change the story cap. Should the magazine change its policy to meet SFWA standards, it will be reinstated to our qualifying list.

(12) THE EXPLANATION. Charles Stross thinks there are no coincidences and all the disparate parts should fit together, rather like a Tim Powers novel played out in real life.

What happened last week is not just about America. It was one move—a very significant one, bishop-takes-queen maybe—in a long-drawn-out geopolitical chess game. It’s being fought around the world: Brexit was one move, the election and massacres of Dutarte in the Philippines were another, the post-coup crackdown in Turkey is a third. The possible election of Marine Le Pen (a no-shit out-of-the-closet fascist) as President of France next year is more of this stuff. The eldritch knot of connections between Turkey and Saudi Arabia and Da’esh in the wreckage of Syria is icing on top. It’s happening all over and I no longer think this is a coincidence.

Part of it is about the geopolitics of climate change (and mass migration and water wars). Part of it is about the jarring transition from an oil-based economy (opposed by the factions who sell oil and sponsor denial climate change, from Exxon-Mobil to the Kremlin) to a carbon-neutral one.

Part of it is the hellbrew of racism and resentment stirred up by loss of relative advantage, by the stagnation of wages in the west and the perception that other people somewhere else are stealing all the money—Chinese factories, Wall Street bankers, the faceless Other. (17M people in the UK have less than £100 in savings; by a weird coincidence, the number of people who voted for Brexit was around 17M. People who are impoverished become desperate and angry and have little investment in the status quo—a fancy way of saying they’ve got nothing to lose.)

But another big part of the picture I’m trying to draw is Russia’s long-drawn out revenge for the wild ride of misrule the neoconservatives inflicted on the former USSR in the 1990s.

(13) GRIM FAIRY TALE. Easier to understand is M.A.M.O.N. (Monitor Against Mexicans Over Nationwide), “a satirical fantasy sci-fi shortfilm that explores with black humor and lots of VFX the outrageous consequences of Donald Trump´s plan of banning immigration and building an enormous wall on the Mexico – US border.”

(14) FIRST ROBOTS. Jim Meadows writes:

A college radio station in my town is airing a student production adapted from the play “R.U.R.” by Karel Capek, credited for coining the word ‘robot’.

The play, “Airing Robots” is being broadcast today and tomorrow (Tuesday & Wednesday) on WPCD, 88.7 FM in Champaign, Illinois. The station streams at its website, http://wpcd.parkland.edu/index.html

The play aired today at 10 AM Central Time, and will repeat today at 6 PM and Wednesday at 12 PM and 8 PM.

The production is the culmination of two different Communications classes at Parkland College, a public community college in Champaign.

Here’s a link to an article in Parkland’s student newspaper, the Prospectus, which actually does a fair job of summarizing key elements of the play

One aspect of “Airing Robots” and its source material Geiken finds interesting is the type of robots featured: androids as opposed to cog-and-gear machines.

“[T]he robots of R.U.R are not your typical mechanical robots that you might imagine for this sort of early sci-fi story, but more akin to cyborgs or androids made from organic matter. The robots of R.U.R. are more like the ‘Cylons’ of the 2004 version of ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ or the cyborgs of the ‘Terminator’ movie series,” he said.

?apek, who was a highly-political writer, wrote “R.U.R.” in 1920, when Europe was feeling the effects of the Russian civil war and the end of World War I. According to Czech writer and biographer Ivan Kilma, ?apek wrote the play in response to many of the societal and technocratic utopian ideas that were spreading around Central Europe at that time.

R.U.R. was first performed in 1921, Kilma states.

(15) ROSEWATER. Rosewater by Tade Thompson is a new release from Apex Publications. Thompson lives and works in the south of England. His first novel Making Wolf won the 2016 Kitschies Golden Tentacle award for best debut novel.

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Between meeting a boy who bursts into flames, alien floaters that want to devour him, and a butterfly woman who he has sex with when he enters the xenosphere, Kaaro’s life is far from the simple one he wants. But he left simple behind a long time ago when he was caught stealing and nearly killed by an angry mob. Now he works for a government agency called Section 45, and they want him to find a women known as Bicycle Girl. And that’s just the beginning.

An alien entity lives beneath the ground, forming a biodome around which the city of Rosewater thrives. The cities of Rosewater are enamored by the dome, hoping for a chance to meet the beings within or possibly be invited to come in themselves. But Kaaro isn’t so enamored. He was in the biodome at one point and decided to leave it behind. When something begins killing off other sensitives like himself, Kaaro defies Section 45 to search for an answer, facing his past and comes to a realization about a horrifying future.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]

Pixel Scroll 10/25/16 Bears Discover File 770

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(1) ARRIVAL PREMIERE BENEFIT FOR CLARION. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination will host the San Diego premiere of the film Arrival, starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker. After the film, there will be a conversation and Q&A with Ted Chiang, whose novella “Story of Your Life” provided the basis of the screenplay.

All proceeds from the screening benefit the Clarion Foundation, which supports the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop at UC San Diego. Click on the link to buy tickets.

Arrival is the the story of what happens when mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe. An elite team, led by expert linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams), is brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers-and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and, quite possibly, humanity.

Ted Chiang is a graduate and, later, instructor in the renowned Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, organized at UCSD by the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination. Known for his exacting craftsmanship in writing profound and psychologically rich science fiction, Chiang this year alone has the honor of having a story (“The Great Silence”) in both the Best American Short Stories 2016 and Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016, after it was originally written for a collaboration with the visual artists Allora & Calzadilla.

(2) NEW CLARKE CENTER PODCAST. Into the Impossible: A Clarke Center Podcast launches November 1.

clarke-podcast-logoInto the Impossible is a podcast of stories, ideas, and speculations from the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination. Early episodes will take listeners through exciting, ranging conversations with and between scientists, artists, writers, and thinkers of different stripes, on the nature of imagination and how, through speculative culture, we create our future. The first episode includes Freeman Dyson (physicist and writer), David Kaiser (physicist, MIT), Rae Armantrout (Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, UCSD professor emeritus), and Brian Keating (astrophysicist, UCSD).

Later episodes will feature actors like Herbert Siguenza (Culture Clash), futurists like Bruce Sterling (writer, design theorist, WIRED columnist), and science fiction authors like Vernor Vinge (novelist, mathematician, computer scientist), as well as looks into Clarke Center activities like Dr. Allyson Muotri’s lab growing Neanderthal brain neurons and the new Speculative Design major. We will also premiere an audio performance created in collaboration between artist Marina Abramovic and science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson, created in workshop here at the Clarke Center with Adam Tinkle and local and student volunteers.

(3) LEARNING AND RELEARNING. Cat Rambo’s speech is now online — “Into the Abyss: Surrey International Writers Conference, Morning Keynote for October 23, 2016”.

I try to write, every day, 2000 words, because that’s what Stephen King does and I think he’s a pretty good role model. Note that I say try, because I don’t always hit it. But you must write. Every day you write is a victory.

Figure out your personal writing process and what works for you. And then do it, lots. I realized that my most productive time is the mornings. So if my mother calls in the mornings, she knows I will answer “Is this an emergency?” and if she says no, I will hang up. (I did warn her before implementing this policy.) Find the times and places you are productive and defend them from the world. You will have gotten a lot of writing advice here and the thing about writing advice is this. All of it is both right and wrong, because people’s process differs and moreover, it can and will differ over the course of time. Find what works for you and do it.

Be kind to yourself. We are delicate, complex machines both physically and mentally. Writers are so good at beating themselves up, at feeling guilty, at imagining terrible futures. You are the person with the most to gain from being kind to yourself; do it. Don’t punish yourself for not hitting a writing goal; reward yourself when you do.

(4) ZOMBIE PROM REVIEW. Martin Morse Wooster personally eyeballed the production and returned with a verdict:

I saw Zombie Prom on Friday, and I think Nelson Pressley’s review was unfair.  Unexpected Stage Company, which did the production, is a minor-league company.  I doubt any member of the cast was over 25 and no one was a member of Equity.  That being said, everyone hit their marks and remembered their lines and most of the cast had pretty good voices.  I thought the production was pleasant.

The title of the musical is misleading, because there’s only one zombie in the cast. (I guess they couldn’t call it One Zombie at a Prom.) It’s the 1950s, and we’re at Enrico Fermi High.  Jonny Warner gets jilted by his girlfriend and leaps into a vat of nuclear waste, which turns him into a zombie.  Will anyone accept him–including his former girlfriend?

I have never heard of Dean P. Rowe, who did the music, and John Dempsey, author of the book and lyrics, but they have talent and my guess is in five years we will hear a lot from them.  There are some mildly deep references to ’50s pop culture, including what I thought was a reference to The Milton Berle Show.  The two best performers were Dallas Milholland, who for some reason decided to play semi-villainous Principal Delilah Strict in a pseudo-British accent, and Will Hawkins, who played Jonny Warner with a great deal of gusto.

Their website is Unexpected Stage Company.

(5) LONG LISTENER ANTHOLOGY. David Steffen says there will be an audiobook of the Long List Anthology Volume 2 after all, using a modified table of contents.

I have been talking with Skyboat Media and we have decided to go ahead with the audiobook, with some alterations to the table of contents from the original stretch goal to get it to just the right length for the resources available.  So there will be an audiobook again this year, this time with 6 stories.

The table of contents is:

  • Our Lady of the Open Road by Sarah Pinsker
  • Today I Am Paul by Martin L. Shoemaker
  • Madeleine by Amal El-Mohtar
  • Pocosin by Ursula Vernon
  • Damage by David D. Levine
  • Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds by Rose Lemberg

The title will also be different to reflect the different table of contents from the book/ebook:

OUR LADY OF THE OPEN ROAD & OTHER STORIES FROM THE LONG LIST ANTHOLOGY, volume 2

(6) TEPPER OBIT. The SFWA Blog posted an obituary for Sheri S. Tepper.

Cat Rambo says, “If I had to name one series by her I adore more than any other of the many excellent choices, it’s the Marianne series, and I highly recommend them to the File 770 readers.”

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born October 25, 1892 — Leo G. Carroll in 1892  (played Topper, and Alexander Waverly in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.)
  • Born October 25, 1924 — Billy Barty. His sf/f resume includes the animated The Lord of the Rings (1978, rotoscope footage) Snow White (1987), Masters of the Universe (1987) and Lobster Man from Mars (1989).

(8) CHAT WITH THREE-BODY AUTHOR. An excellent interview at SF Crowsnest: “Cixin Liu: interviewed by Gareth D Jones”.

GDJ: My favourite character in the books is Da Shi, especially in the second volume, ‘The Dark Forest’. Do you have a favourite character out of the ones you wrote about?

CL: In terms of Da Shi, he’s one of the most liked characters amongst Europeans and American readers. I think it’s because he’s like a caricature of a Chinese person of Beijing police, real well-connected, good with people. But this kind of people are actually really common in China, so we all know someone like that. But for non-Chinese readers, he immediately captures the attention. In terms of favourite character, I don’t think I have a favourite character really because they’re just there to propel the story forward. So it’s where the story is taking them that affects them, so I don’t have a favourite.

(9) ET, PHONE US. “Either the stars are strange, or there are 234 aliens trying to contact us” says Phys.org news. Obviously, these guys haven’t read the Three-Body Trilogy.

What we’re talking about here is a new study from E.F. Borra and E. Trottier, two astronomers at Laval University in Canada. Their study, titled “Discovery of peculiar periodic spectral modulations in a small fraction of solar type stars” was just published at arXiv.org. ArXiv.org is a pre-print website, so the paper itself hasn’t been peer reviewed yet. But it is generating interest.

The two astronomers used data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and analyzed the spectra of 2.5 million stars. Of all those stars, they found 234 stars that are producing a puzzling signal. That’s only a tiny percentage. And, they say, these signals “have exactly the shape of an ETI signal” that was predicted in a previous study by Borra.

Prediction is a key part of the scientific method. If you develop a theory, your theory looks better and better the more you can use it to correctly predict some future events based on it. Look how many times Einstein’s predictions based on Relativity have been proven correct.

The 234 stars in Borra and Trottier’s study aren’t random. They’re “overwhelmingly in the F2 to K1 spectral range” according to the abstract. That’s significant because this is a small range centred around the spectrum of our own Sun. And our own Sun is the only one we know of that has an intelligent species living near it. If ours does, maybe others do too?

(10) THE HULK V. THE THING. CinemaBlend reports Stan Lee’s definitive answer to America’s most asked question. (And no, it’s not “Does your chewing gum lose its flavor in the bedpost overnight?”)

It’s a question that has dogged comic book fans for decades: who would win in a fight between The Hulk and The Thing? Of course, there’s only one man who has the definitive answer to this quandary: Marvel icon Stan Lee himself. So when it was finally posed to the comic book legend, the world waited with bated breath to hear the answer, which, as it turns out, is The Hulk.

Stan Lee made this admission during his chat with The Tomorrow Show. But there were a few caveats to Stan Lee’s answer, who predicted that The Thing/Ben Grimm would definitely give The Hulk/Bruce Banner a run for his money, as he’s a little smarter than his counterpart. But that didn’t stop Stan Lee from picking The Hulk as the winner, as he explained:

“Oh, The Hulk would win. The Thing is faster and smarter, so he would probably find a way to turn it into a draw or save himself. He’d trap or trick the Hulk. But, in a fair fight, there’s no way the Hulk [would lose]. He’d win.”

(11) FIFTH OF INDIANA. ScreenRant says a fifth Indiana Jones movie will be out in 2019, starring Harrison Ford and directed by Steven Spielberg. But what about George Lucas? “Indiana Jones 5: George Lucas Is Not Involved With Story”.

In an interview with Collider, the screenwriter mentioned that Lucas does not have a hand in crafting the Indiana Jones 5 story, saying, “I haven’t had any contact with him.” Spielberg’s earlier claims that Lucas would be an executive producer could still be true, but it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which Lucas is attached to an Indiana Jones film and isn’t helping design the narrative. It would appear that Lucas would rather enjoy his retirement than jump into the Hollywood machine again, which isn’t all that surprising considering his comments about Disney in the lead-up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. For many fans, this is a bittersweet revelation; like Star Wars, Lucas is an integral part of the Indiana Jones property, but he was responsible for some of the more unfavorable elements in Crystal Skull, such as his insistence aliens be in the film. Some viewers would prefer Lucas stay away.

(12) SFWA MARKET REPORT. SFWA President Cat Rambo says, “The latest market report went out a little late this month and I wanted to make sure people were aware of it. Dave Steffen is doing a terrific job assembling it.” Find it here: http://www.sfwa.org/2016/10/sfwa-market-report-october/.

(13) OPENINGS IN RAMBO/SWIRSKY CLASS. There are still slots open in “Re-Telling and Re-Taleing: Old Stories Into New”, the Cat Rambo/Rachel Swirsky live online class happening Saturday, October 29.

Authors constantly draw on the stories that have preceded them, particularly folklore, mythology, and fables. What are the best methods for approaching such material and what are the possible pitfall? How does one achieve originality when working with such familiar stories? Lecture, in-class exercise, and discussion will build your proficiency when working with such stories. Co-taught with Nebula-award winning writer Rachel Swirsky.

(14) ARCHEOTELEVISION. Echo Ishii has a new post about another antique sff TV show – “SF Obscure: Children of the Stones”.

Children of the Stones is a 1977 television drama for children produced by ITV network. I know of this show mainly because of the late Gareth Thomas. So, I decided to watch it because I had heard good things about it.

Astrophysicist Adam Brake and his son Matthew go to a village called Millbury which has a megalithic circle of stones in the middle of it. (It’s filmed on the prehistoric monument of Avebury) Things get strange as soon as they arrive. First of all, the housekeeper and neighbors all seem abnormally happy. Matthew has strange feelings of evil and is immediately hostile towards the new neighbor. His father chides him, but Matthew can’t help but feel something is wrong. We later learn that Matthew has some psychic abilities and this is why he reacts the way he does….

(15) DISSECTING THE FALL TV PREMIERES. Asking the Wrong Questions’ Abigail Nussbaum continues “Thoughts on the New TV Season, 2016 Edition, Part 2”.

Westworld – Easily the most-anticipated new series of the fall, the consensus that has already formed around HBO’s latest foray into genre is that it represents the channel’s attempts to grapple with its own reputation for prurient violence, particularly violence against women (see Emily Nussbaum in The New Yorker, and Aaron Bady in The Los Angeles Review of Books).  You can see how that consensus has formed–Westworld builds on the 1973 movie to imagine a lush and impeccably-detailed theme park in which customers pay lavishly to indulge their every fantasy, which almost inevitably seem to involve murder, mayhem, and of course rape.  The metaphor for how HBO’s pretensions to highbrow entertainment ultimately rest on the sumptuously-filmed and -costumed violence of Game of Thrones, True Detective, and The Night Of pretty much writes itself.  For myself, I’d like to believe that there’s more to Westworld than this glib reading, first because I simply do not believe that anyone at HBO possesses this level of self-awareness–this is, after all, the channel whose executives were genuinely taken aback, in the year 2016, by the idea that their shows had become synonymous with violence against women–and second because it’s by far the least interesting avenue of story the show could take.

(16) WOMEN INVISIBLE AGAIN. Juliet McKenna takes to task “Andrew Marr’s Paperback Heroes – a masculine view of epic fantasy entrenching bias”.

Two things happened on Monday 24th October. News of Sheri S Tepper’s death spread – and a lot of people on social media wondered why isn’t her brilliant, innovative and challenging science fiction and fantasy writing better known?

Then the BBC broadcast the second episode of Andrew Marr’s series on popular fiction, looking at epic fantasy.

The programme featured discussion of the work of seven, perhaps eight, major writers – six men and one, perhaps two women if you include the very passing reference to J K Rowling .

Four male writers were interviewed and one woman. Please note that the woman was interviewed solely in the context of fantasy written for children.

If you total up all the writers included, adding in cover shots or single-sentence name checks, eleven men get a look-in, compared to six women. Of those women, three got no more than a name check and one got no more than a screenshot of a single book.

It was an interesting programme, if simplistic in its view, to my mind. There’s a lot of fantasy written nowadays that goes beyond the old Hero’s Journey template. There’s a great deal to the genre today that isn’t the male-dominated grimdarkery which this programme implied is currently the be-all and end-all of the genre….

(17) MASQUERADE VIDEOS. The International Costumers Guild has posted the final version of the “MidAmeriCon 1 masquerade Look Back”.

This episode features highlights from the MidAmeriCon 1 masquerade held in Kansas City, MO. Having discovered another version of this masquerade after the initial upload, we’ve replaced it with this one because the color is more vivid. There is also one additional costume entry that has been added to the video. Note: This video, while not the sharpest in detail, could still be considered slightly NSFW.

 

They have also just released a quick memorial to author and costumer Adrienne Martine-Barnes.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Rambo, Nora and Bruce Mai, JJ, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 6/21/16 Everybody In The Whole Scrollblock, Dance To The Pixelhouse Rock

(1) HE’S BAAACK. ScienceFiction.com explains how Dr. Okun’s been down for the count almost as long as Captain America – “Okun’s Razor: New ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ Featurette Explains The Return Of Dr. Okum”.

Of course, the alien attacked the doctor and took over his mind, using him to communicate with the other people outside the laboratory, and the encounter ended with men having to shoot the alien before it hurt the president, all of which left Dr. Okun comatose on the floor.

According to the new featurette released, Dr. Okun did not actually die that day. Apparently he was just left in a vegetative state, a coma, for the past twenty years, leaving him prime to be woken up by contact with new alien minds as the aliens return in the new film.

 

(2) FUTURE PUPPIES. Paul Weimer’s “Of Dogs and Men: Clifford Simak’s City” is the latest installment of Tor.com’s “Lost Classics” series.

…A suite of stories that merges Simak’s love of dogs, his interest in rural settings and landscapes, use of religion and faith, and his interest in robots all in one package: City.

City is a fixup novel originally consisting of seven stories written between 1944 and 1951, and collected together in 1952. City charts the fall of Humanity’s (or the creature called “Man” in the stories) civilization, starting with his urban environment, and finally, of the fall of Humanity itself. As Humanity falls, so rises the successor to Man, the Dogs. As David Brin would later do to chimps and dolphins in his Uplift stories and novels, the story of the engineered rise of Dogs, and their supplanting of Man, is due to the agency of one family, the Websters. The growth and development of the Dogs is thanks to their agency, and the Dog’s continued growth is due to the help of Jenkins, the robot created as a butler for the Webster family who becomes a mentor to the Dogs and a through line character in the narrative…..

(3) SIMAK AT 1971 WORLDCON. And with lovely timing, the FANAC YouTube channel has just posted Part 2 of a photo-illustrated audio recording of the Noreascon Banquet. It includes the Guest of Honor speeches from Clifford Simak and Harry Warner, Jr. Other speakers: Bob Shaw, Toastmaster Robert Silverberg, Forrest J Ackerman, Gordon Dickson, and TAFF winner Mario Bosnyak.

(4) PATIENCE REWARDED. Ricky L. Brown says go for it, in a review of Joe Zieja’s Mechanical Failure at Amazing Stories.

At first, the book comes off as a plead, as if asking the reader to accept the fact that it supposed to be funny. The dialog feels a little forced and the humor dangerously becomes the focal point over character development and plot. If a literary version of a laugh track was a real thing, letting the reader know that this part is funny and you are supposed to be laughing along with the fabricated audience, it would be running non-stop during the first chapter.

As a reviewer, this is usually the point when one must decide if the work has potential or if it is time to abandon hope before investing the time. The original premise was sound and I truly wanted the book to be good, so I pressed on.

And then it got better….

Mechanical Failure by Joe Zieja is a funny story about a funny man in a funny universe. What makes this book work so well is the author’s innate ability to paint a sarcastic hero in a ridiculously irrational setting, and allow the reader to laugh along at the absurdity that could become our future.

(5) AUTOGRAPH SEEKERS. A weekend of signings at the Denver Comic Con inspired Sarah A. Hoyt to write “The Running Of The Fans”. Before you get cranked up – I thought it was pretty funny.

….This is interrupted by a voice from the ceiling, “The fans are coming, the fans are coming.”

The double doors open on a throng at the end of the hall.  Some of the fans are in costume.  There is a minotaur in an Acme costume, for instance, several ladies in corsets and men wearing uniforms of all epochs, some of them imaginary.

The announcers shriek and run behind the barriers which are formed by booths filled with books.  For a while the melee is too confused to focus on, and the announcers are both talking at the same time.

After a while the younger announcer says.  “John Ringo is down.  I repeat he’s down, and they’ve taken his kilt.  But he’s still fighting valiantly.”

“Larry Correia,” says the older announcer, “Is still running, though he is QUITE literally covered in fans demanding his autograph.  Look at him move!  That’s why they call him The Mountain Who Writes.”

“If mountains moved, of course.”

“We have the first author to escape the melee, ladies and gentlemen.  David Drake seems to have evaded the fans by the expedient of pretending to be lost and asking for directions, then fading away.”….

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

(7) HOW TO HIT BILLIONAIRES IN THE FEELS. Renay at Lady Business outlines a plan for action in “Captain America: Steve Rogers – The Only Power Left to Us is Money”.

Captain America: Steve Rogers #2 drops on June 29. I’m not getting it because I dropped it from my pull list and didn’t buy #1 due to A) my HEIGHTENED EMOTIONS, expressed by this thread on Twitter by readingtheend and B) the behavior of Nick Spencer/Tom Brevoort in the media, which included laughing at upset fans, and generally being dismissive, cruel, and gratuitously smug on Twitter (the failure mode of clever is asshole, etc.). I placed my funds toward other comics instead (Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur is super cute, y’all). But I’m just one fan. I’ve never advocated a boycott before, but there’s a first time for everything!

Boycotts work when they target specific behavior. A wholesale Marvel/Disney boycott is ineffective; they’re diversified (curse them for being smart at business, and also, billionaires). Refusing to buy and removing from your pull or digital subscription list Captain America: Steve Rogers #2 (June 29, 2016) and all subsequent issues will be more effective than swearing off all Marvel comics. Also, it doesn’t punish other creative people at Marvel who had no control over this situation. That sends a message to Marvel, The Company: this comic/plotline is not profitable! That’s easier for them to grasp than nuanced discussions about history and cultural respect that it’s clear they have no interest in listening to at this particular time. Although it doesn’t hurt to tell them, either, by writing emails or letters to outline exactly why you aren’t supporting the comic. This post has a longer list on how to make financial decisions that impact this specific comic that are active rather than reactive.

(8) WESTWORLD TEASER TRAILER. Westworld is coming to HBO in October 2016.

(9) ORDWAY. Universe Today features “Finding ‘The Lost Science’ of 2001: A Space Odyssey”.

The film 2001: A Space Odyssey brought space science to the general masses. Today we may consider it as common place, but in 1968 when the film was released, humankind yet to walk on the Moon. We certainly didn’t have any experience with Jupiter. Yet somehow the producer, Stanley Kubrick, successfully peered into the future and created a believable story. One of his methods was to employ Frederick I. Ordway III as his science consultant. While Ordway has since passed, he left behind a veritable treasure trove of documents detailing his work for Kubrick. Science author and engineer Adam K. Johnson got access to this trove which resulted in the book “2001: The Lost Science – The Scientist, Influences & Designs from the Frederick I. Ordway III Estate Volume 2“. It’s a wonderful summary of Ordway’s contributions and the film’s successes.

Johnson’s book was released this month.

(10) TABLE TALK. Black Gate’s John O’Neill gave his neighbor a lesson in marketing psychology, as he explains in “Total Pulp Victory: A Report on Windy City Pulp & Paper 2016, Part I”.

I learned a great deal about selling at my first Windy City Pulp show. And most of what I learned was the result of one fateful purchase.

When I noticed I was running low on paperbacks, I glanced across the aisle at the seller across from me, who had hundreds in big piles on his table. He was charging 25 cents each for the books he’d stacked on the floor, but wasn’t selling many. I’d rummaged through them and found he had a lot of great stuff, including some rare Ace Doubles in great condition, but no one seemed to be taking the time to dig through the jumbled stacks on the floor.

So I offered him 10 bucks for a box of books, and he was happy to sell it to me. Back at my table, I slipped each book out of the box and into a poly bag, and slapped a $10 price tag on it. The vendor watched me wordlessly as I put them prominently on display at the front of my booth. I’d put out less than half of them when a buyer wandered by, picked one up excitedly, paid me $10, and happily continued on his way.

Over the next few hours, the seller across the way watched furiously as I did a brisk business with his books, selling a good portion of his stock and making a very tidy profit. In the process, I learned two very valuable lessons.

  1. A 25 cent book in a jumble on the floor is worth precisely 25 cents, and a prominently displayed $10 book in a poly bag is worth $10. Simple as that.
  2. One the whole, it’s much easier to sell a $10 book than a 25 cent book.

(11) STEVE FOX. Somebody on eBay will happily take $12 for “1986 sci-fi fanzine FILE 770 #60, Challenger disaster”. However, I included this link for the opportunity afforded of showing you a cover by Steve Fox, a Philadelphia fanartist who, quite unreasonably, was voted behind No Award in 1985.

steve fox cover f770 60

(12) CHARGE REVERSED. Vox Day, at the end of a post otherwise spent extolling the views of John C. Wright, took issue with the popular acclaim given to a massive battle in the latest episode of Game of Thrones.

The battle scenes in the most recent episode of A Game of Thrones were so shockingly inept and historically ignorant that I found myself wondering if Kameron Hurley had been hired as the historical consultant.

As one wag put it on Twitter: A cavalry charge? I’d better put my pikes in reserve!

And while I’m at it, I’ll refrain from ordering my archers to fire at them as they approach. Then I’ll send my infantry in to surround the survivors, so they can’t break and run, thereby preventing my cavalry from riding them down and slaughtering them from behind. And when the totally predictable enemy reinforcements arrive just in the nick of time, because I’ve been busy posturing rather than simply destroying the surrounded enemy, instead of withdrawing my army and retreating to my fortress, I’ll just stand around and watch them get entirely wiped out before fleeing by myself.

It was the second-most retarded battle scene I’ve ever seen, topped only by Faramir leading Gondor’s cavalry against a fortified position manned by archers in The Return of the King. I was always curious about what the cavalry was intended to do if they somehow managed to survive the hail of arrows and reach the walls that no horse could possibly climb.

(13) STOP MOTION DINOSAURS. The Alex Film Society will show The Lost World (1925) on Sunday, July 10th at 2:00 p.m. at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, CA.

The Lost World poster

When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was not writing Sherlock Holmes stories, he often wrote history, fantasy, adventure and science-fiction tales. One of his most successful novels was The Lost World, the story of adventurers who find a South American plateau – where time stopped 65 million years ago – inhabited by dinosaurs. In 1912, when the book was published, movies were still in their infancy and technology wasn’t available to do the fantastic story justice, but by 1925, Willis O’Brien had begun to perfect stop motion, a form of animation that would allow him and his small team to bring these long dead creatures to life, blending them convincingly with real actors. It created a sensation when people saw, for the first time, believable prehistoric creatures on the screen, and remains a cinematic milestone today.

Featuring some of the biggest stars of the silent era, including Wallace Beery, Bessie Love and Lewis Stone, as well as no less than a dozen different species of dinosaur, our print of The Lost World is a fully restored version from the George Eastman House collection. Famed composer and pianist Alexander Rannie will accompany the film with the musical score that was written for the original release.

Preservation funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and Hugh Hefner.

(14) NEWS FOR THE FIRST DAY OF SUMMER? Yahoo! Movies has a Frozen franchise update: “Olaf Forever! Disney Introduces ‘Frozen Northern Lights’ – Including Brand New Character”.

Think of it as the Frozen sequel before the Frozen sequel. Disney has just unveiled Frozen Northern Lights, a multimedia expansion of its hugely popular princess franchise that will include new books and Lego animated shorts. The adventure revolves around Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff, and Sven — joined by their new friend, Little Rock — on an mission to fix the Northern Lights in time for a special troll ceremony.

 

frozen art

(15) JESSICA F. JONES. Whatever you thought you heard, you apparently didn’t. ScienceFiction.com has the story — “She Don’t Give A @#$%: ‘Jessica Jones’ Executive Producer Reveals Marvel’s Restrictions In Season 1”.

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporte, ‘Jessica Jones’ executive producer Melissa Rosenberg spoke candidly about producing the show, and what restrictions were placed on her by either Netflix or Marvel. As suspected, Netflix did not put a lot of restrictions on the show, but it seems Marvel had some very specific Dos and Don’ts that she had to abide by during Season 1 of ‘Jessica Jones.’ In her words:

“The beauty of working at Netflix is that you don’t have those limits. I also work with Marvel, and Marvel has a brand and their brand is generally PG-13. They’ve kind of let us go to PG-16. No F-bombs! And if anyone was going to say ‘fuck,’ it would be Jessica Jones. Sometimes I would be like, ‘Please just let me put one!’ Never. But what’s funny is that people said, ‘Wait — she didn’t say fuck? I could have sworn she did!’ Ritter can deliver ‘fuck’ with her face. Her look says it! She can be saying ‘potato.’”

[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.]