Pixel Scroll 3/29/18 Two Scrolls Diverged In A Wood And I – I Took The One Less Pixeled

(1) EVERYONE MUST GET STONED. James Davis Nicoll shares “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson with the panel in the latest installment of Young People Read Old SFF.

Incredibly influential, Shirley Jackson died aged only 48 back in the 1960s. I sense that while some of her acolytes (and their students) are well known Jackson herself has declined in fame. If a young person has encountered Jackson, it’s most likely thanks to the film adaptation of The Haunting, in which an attempt to probe the secrets of an ancient house goes very badly indeed (and the second, lesser, adaptation at that.). “The Lottery” is a more constrained affair than The Haunting. It’s a simple account of annual celebration that binds a small community together. A classic or superseded by more recent works?

Let’s find out…

(2) ETHICS QUESTION. Charles Payseur asked Rocket Stack Rank to drop him from the list of reviewers they track. His thread starts here —

Although as reported in the March 27 Scroll, the RSR piece was a project by Eric Wong, it may be the case that the reviewers tracked are predominantly white, as that is the demographic of many well-known critics and bloggers. But what about the point of the project – and one of Payseur’s goals as a reviewer – to help get more eyeballs on good sff by PoCs? Therefore, isn’t RSR multiplying the effectiveness of Payseur’s reviews? Should a reviewer have a veto in a case like this? And as I do quote from Payseur in the Scroll somewhat often, I now wonder what would I do if he asked me to stop?

(3) VR. The Washington Post’s Steven Zeitchik talked to people who say “It could be the biggest change to movies since sound. If anyone will pay for it.” He visited the Westfield Century City mall, where people can experience the 12-minute Dreamscape Immersive virtual reality production Alien Zoo for $20.  He surveys the current state of virtual reality projects and finds that many of them are sf or fantasy, including an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Wolves in the Walls.

The Westfield Century City mall runs a dozen of the latest blockbusters at its modern movie theater here, but recently some of the most cutting-edge entertainment was playing one story below, at a pop-up store across from Bloomingdale’s.

That’s where groups of six could enter a railed-off area, don backpacks and headsets, and wander in the dark around the “Alien Zoo,” a 12-minute virtual-reality outer-space experience with echoes of “Jurassic Park.”

By bringing the piece to the mall, “Zoo” producer Dreamscape Immersive — it counts Steven Spielberg among its investors — hopes it has cracked a major challenge bedeviling the emerging form of entertainment known as cinematic VR.

(4) GENDER MALLEABLE. At The Verge, Andrew Liptak questions “Wil Wheaton and Amber Benson on depicting gender in John Scalzi’s next audiobook”.

Next month, Audible will release the recorded version of John Scalzi’s upcoming novel Head On, a sequel to his 2014 thriller Lock In. Like Lock In — but unlike most audio editions — this release will come in two versions: one narrated by Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Wil Wheaton, and the other by Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Amber Benson, who are each popular audiobook narrators.

Why?

When Scalzi wrote Lock In, he made a creative decision to not reveal Chris’ gender, creating a character who readers could read as male, female, or neither. He explained that he did it as a writing challenge, and realized that in this world, gender might not be easily distinguishable for a Haden using a robotic body.

(5)  FIVE DAYS TO GO. The Kickstarter appeal to fund The Dark Magazine “for two more years of unsettling fiction” has achieved 70% of its $12,500 goal with just five days remaining.

The Dark Magazine has been around for five years and in that short period of time we have published award-winning stories by new and established authors; showcased great artwork from all corners of the world; and done it all on the backs of a small team of simply wonderful people. But now it is past time to take it to the next level, and help finance the magazine for two more years to allow us to increase the subscription base, increase the pay rate from three cents to five cents a word, and increase the amount of fiction we bring to you, with double Christmas issues. Because we don’t just like dark fantasy, horror, or weird fiction . . . we love it. And it means so much to us to introduce you to unsettling and thoughtful stories every month that we want to keep on doing it, with your help.

(6) F&SF COVER REVEAL. Gordon Van Gelder shared the May/June 2018 cover for The Magaine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The cover art is by Alan M. Clark.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY XENA

  • Born March 29, 1968 – Lucy Lawless

(8) COMIC SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian spotted an especially funny Brevity  — at least I thought it was, because I’m familiar with the collectible they’re joking about.

(9) NATURE CALLS. The next issue of Concatenation, the British SFF news aggregator, comes out in a couple of weeks, but while you’re waiting, Jonathan Cowie, lead editor of the original zine, sent along this link to the new issue of research journal Nature which carries a piece on “The ageless appeal of 2001:A Space Odyssey.

Fifty years on, Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece looks more prophetic than ever, reflects Piers Bizony.

…Monoliths aside, 2001 was prescient in almost all its detailed predictions of twenty-first-century technology. For instance, in August 2011, the Samsung electronics group began a defence against a claim of patent infringement by Apple. Who invented the tablet computer? Apple claimed unique status for its iPad; Samsung presented a frame from 2001.

Samsung noted that the design claimed by Apple had many features in common with that of the tablet shown in the film clip — most notably, a rectangular shape with a display screen, narrow borders, a flat front and a thin form. In an era when computers still needed large rooms to accommodate them, Kubrick’s special-effects team rigged hidden projectors to enliven devices that looked as though you could hold them in one hand. Only the need to trim the film’s running length prevented ingenious mock-ups of touch-sensitive gaming screens and electronic newspapers from making the final cut.

(10) OFF WITH ITS HEAD. Can social media be saved? Should it? That’s the question Kevin Roose tries to answer in a New York Times column.

I don’t need to tell you that something is wrong with social media.

You’ve probably experienced it yourself. Maybe it’s the way you feel while scrolling through your Twitter feed — anxious, twitchy, a little world weary — or your unease when you see a child watching YouTube videos, knowing she’s just a few algorithmic nudges away from a rabbit hole filled with lunatic conspiracies and gore. Or maybe it was this month’s Facebook privacy scandal, which reminded you that you’ve entrusted the most intimate parts of your digital life to a profit-maximizing surveillance machine.

Our growing discomfort with our largest social platforms is reflected in polls. One recently conducted by Axios and SurveyMonkey found that all three of the major social media companies — Facebook, Twitter and Google, which shares a parent company with YouTube — are significantly less popular with Americans than they were five months ago. (And Americans might be the lucky ones. Outside the United States, social media is fueling real-world violence and empowering autocrats, often with much less oversight.)

(11) THE MATTER. “Ghostly galaxy may be missing dark matter”. i.e., it apparently doesn’t have any.

An unusually transparent galaxy about the size of the Milky Way is prompting new questions for astrophysicists.

The object, with the catchy moniker of NGC1052-DF2, appears to contain no dark matter.

If this turns out to be true, it may be the first galaxy of its kind – made up only of ordinary matter. Currently, dark matter is thought to be essential to the fabric of the Universe as we understand it.

(12) L’CHAIM! Shmaltz Brewing’s latest Star Trek beer is “Terrans Unite India Pale Lager.”

STAR TREK MIRROR UNIVERSE
TERRANS UNITE! INDIA PALE LAGER

Available in 4-Packs and on Draft.

MALTS: 2-Row, Pilsen, Patagonia 90
HOPS: Pacific Gem, Centennial
5% ABV

What if there was another world, a world that appeared similar to our own, with the same people, the same places, and even the same advancements in technology, but a world in which the motives and ethics of its inhabitants were turned upside down? The heroic now villainous and the noble corrupt, valuing power over peace and willing to obtain their desires by any means necessary – this is the Terran Empire in the Mirror Universe.

Our universe may feel villainous and corrupt at times, but we can still find comfort in good friends and tasty beer. By spanning north and south, east and west, continents and traditions, Mirror Universe blends ingredients bringing together the world of brave new craft brewing. HOPS – MALTS – LAGER – UNITE!

(13) EXCEPT FOR ALL THE REST. Panoply took flak for appearing to overlook how far other podcasting pioneers have already taken the medium.

Here’s an example of the feedback:

(14) LEARNING FROM WAND CONTROL. Washington Free Beacon editor Alex Griswold, in “Harry Potter Is An Inspiring Parable About #Resisting Gun Control”, argues that “I’ve read all seven (Harry Potter) books on several occasions, and they make the strongest case for an armed populace and the evils of gun control I’ve ever read.”

…Even if you buy into the notion that fantasy books should dictate our policy, I find it surprising that so many of the children who read Harry Potter came away thinking we need more gun control. I’ve read all seven books on several occasions, and they make the strongest case for an armed populace and the evils of gun control I’ve ever read.

Instead of guns, wizards in Harry Potter use wands for self-defense. Every wizard is armed at eleven, taught to use dangerous spells, and released into a society where everyone’s packing heat and concealed carry is the norm. It’s an inspiring example the United States should strive towards.

But the reader slowly discovers there is wand control in the Harry Potter universe, and that it’s a racist, corrupt and selectively enforced. In the second book, Chamber of Secrets, we learn that the Hogwarts groundskeeper Hagrid has been forcibly disarmed after being accused of a crime he didn’t commit. When government officials again come to falsely arrest Hagrid, he lacks any means of self-defense….

(15) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. New Statesman advised “Forget Facebook, Russian agents have been pretending to be furries on Tumblr”.

Cambridge Analytica. Mark Zuckerberg. Steve Bannon. Russians pushing propaganda on Facebook and Twitter. Yeah, you’ve heard it all before, but did you know that Russian agents were posing as furries on Tumblr to destabilise the crucial ‘Riverdale stans’, K-Pop obsessive, secretly-looking-at—‘arty’-porn in the office demographic? Because they were. And Tumblr just admitted it.

(16) REN AND STIMPY CREATOR ACCUSED. Buzzfeed tells “The Disturbing Secret Behind An Iconic Cartoon”.

Robyn Byrd and Katie Rice were teenage Ren & Stimpy fans who wanted to make cartoons. They say they were preyed upon by the creator of the show, John Kricfalusi, who admitted to having had a 16-year-old girlfriend when approached by BuzzFeed News….

In the summer of 1997, before her senior year of high school, he flew her to Los Angeles again, where Byrd had an internship at Spumco, Kricfalusi’s studio, and lived with him as his 16-year-old girlfriend and intern. After finishing her senior year in Tucson, the tiny, dark-haired girl moved in with Kricfalusi permanently at age 17. She told herself that Kricfalusi was helping to launch her career; in the end, she fled animation to get away from him.

Since October, a national reckoning with sexual assault and harassment has not only felled dozens of prominent men, but also caused allegations made in the past to resurface. In some ways, the old transgressions are the most uncomfortable: They implicate not just the alleged abusers, but everyone who knew about the stories and chose to overlook them.

(17) TRAILER PARK. The Darkest Minds, due in theaters August 3, sure has a familiar-sounding plot:

When teens mysteriously develop powerful new abilities, they are declared a threat by the government and detained. Sixteen-year-old Ruby, one of the most powerful young people anyone has encountered, escapes her camp and joins a group of runaway teens seeking safe haven. Soon this newfound family realizes that, in a world in which the adults in power have betrayed them, running is not enough and they must wage a resistance, using their collective power to take back control of their future.

(18) SCOOBYNATURAL. Daniel Dern found this video via io9. Dern leads in: “Yes, there was the Farscape episode which turned the characters (and action) into an animated cartoon sequence. And the Angel episode where Angel got turned into a large-ish puppet. (That was fun.) And now this…”

“…as in, the Supernaturalists (if that’s the right word) somehow end up in a Scooby episode. (Note, this isn’t a show I’ve watched, and not clear I will catch this episode, but I’m glad I know about it.)”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Jonathan Cowie, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Brian Z., Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]

Pixel Scroll 3/15/18 Yon Pixel Has A Lean And Hungry Look

(1) LUCAS MUSEUM. NBC Los Angeles was there for Wednesday’s ceremony: “George Lucas’ $1 Billion Museum Breaks Ground in Exposition Park”.

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts in Exposition Park is beginning to take shape in Los Angeles’ Exposition Park area.

Filmmaker George Lucas and wife Mellody Hobson were at a groundbreaking Wednesday for the $1 billion museum. The museum will house works by painters such as Edgar Degas, Winslow Homer and Pierre-Auguste Renoir; illustrations, comic art and photography by artists such as Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish and N.C. Wyeth; as well as storyboards, props and other items from popular films. It will be a “barrier-free museum” where “artificial divisions between `high’ art and `popular’ art are absent,” according to the museum’s website.

“It will be beautiful. It will be 11 acres of new parkland here,” Hobson said. “Everyone always wonders why we are doing so much to make this building stand out. George said, ‘I want an iconic building. I want a child to look at this building and say I want to see what is inside of that building.’ The building itself is a piece of art that will be in this park that we’re creating for this entire community and the world.”

The museum plans to feature a five-story building with 300,000 square feet of floor area for a cafe and restaurant, theaters, office space, lecture halls, a library, classrooms, exhibition space and landscaped open space.

Lucas told a CBS News interviewer:

Movies, including the “Star Wars” series, will be featured in exhibits showing what it takes to make a film, from set designs to character and costume sketches. There will be film storyboards and comic art. But the museum will also display paintings by Renoir, N.C. Wyeth, Winslow Homer, Maxfield Parrish and Norman Rockwell – all from Lucas’ private collection.

“I think more people will come in for Rockwell than will come in for ‘Star Wars,'” Lucas said.

“Norman Rockwell can tell a whole story in one picture,” Lucas said.

“When were you captivated by Rockwell?” Blackstone asked.

“When I was 8 years old… I wanted to be an illustrator. I wanted to be able to do that,” Lucas said. “I wanted to be able to do pictures that have a message that appeals to a lot of people.”

Art that tells a story inspired him to tell stories. That narrative art is what Lucas will share in his museum.

(2) ANNIHILATION. Camestros Felapton has eyeballed the evidence and delivered his verdict: “Review: Annihilation (movie 2018 – Netflix)”.

The film (which had a very limited cinema release in the US and then a Netflix release internationally) is a different creature than the book. Events have been changed, plot elements removed, characters adjusted and the structure of the story altered. All of which seems to have been a good idea. The film carries the same sense of paranoia and wonder as the book and the same theme of people trying to cope when confronted with the incomprehensible. However, it has been remade into its own thing – a story with its own structure and characters that shares DNA with the book but which follows its own course.

(3) HELP WANTED. Journey Planet wants contributors for a Star Wars theme issue —

Regular Editors Chris Garcia and James Bacon, joined by Will Frank, have set out to create an issue of Journey Planet dedicated to the legendary Star Wars Universe. The issue, set for a May 4th release, will look at the films, the universe, the fans, the books, the comics, the toys, the Irish Connection and the meaning of the greatest of all science fiction franchises!

We want to hear from you if you are interested in contributing. We have an instant fanzine and are soliciting pieces, from short pieces on the first time you saw the films, about your massive collection of Star Wars figures (Mint-on-Card, of course)

We already have a beautiful cover by Sarah Wilkinson.

Please contact — journeyplanet@gmail.com

Tell us what you’d like to write about. Then content submission Deadline is April 17th

And may the Force be with you!

 

(4) HAL/ALEXA. So how is this invention supposed to parallel the workings of HAL-9000 – by preventing people from getting back into their homes? The Verge tells us “This replica of HAL-9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey comes with Amazon’s Alexa built in”.

HAL-9000, the malevolent supercomputer at the heart of Stanley Kubrick’s classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, is an icon of science fiction cinema. So much so, that if you ask any one of the virtual assistants to “Open the pod bay doors,” they’ll dutifully parrot HAL’s lines from the movie back at you. Now, Master Replicas Group wants to take that step a bit further, turning HAL into a virtual assistant that can control your home.

The company name might be familiar to prop and costume fans: the original Master Replicas produced a range of high-quality props from franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek before going out of business a decade ago. If you’ve seen someone swinging around a lightsaber, there’s a good chance it’s one of Master Replicas’ props, or based off of their models. The new company is made up of several former employees, who are getting back into the prop replica business with a new range of products, including an interactive replica of HAL.

This isn’t the first time that someone’s thought about putting HAL into your home’s smart devices: a couple of years ago, fan prop-maker GoldenArmor made its own version that allows someone to mount it over their Nest thermostat. MRG’s prop goes a bit beyond that. It recently obtained the license from Warner Bros. to create an exact replica of the iconic computer, and while most prop replicas are static recreations of a movie or film prop, this version is designed to be interactive, using Amazon’s smart assistant, Alexa.

A humorous video simulating “If HAL9000 was Amazon.com’s Alexa” has already gone viral —

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 15, 1956 Forbidden Planet premiered.
  • March 15, 1967 Frankenstein Created Woman stitched together a story for the theaters.
  • March 15, 1972 Slaughterhouse Five was first released theatrically.

(6) IS IT VINTAGE? Mark Kelly considers the sequel to Dandelion Wine in “Ray Bradbury: FAREWELL SUMMER”.

RB provides an afterword to this book, also, in which he explains where this book came from. In the mid 1950s (several years after the successes of THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES and THE ILLUSTRATED MAN)  he submitted a manuscript to his publisher, Doubleday, for the book that became DW. But that original manuscript was too long and his editor suggested cutting it. RB quotes his reply (p210 in FS): “ ‘Why don’t we published the first 90,000 words as a novel and keep the second part for some future year when you feel it is ready to be published.’ At the time, I called the full, primitive version The Blue Remembered Hills. The original title for what would become Dandelion Wine was Summer, Morning, Summer Night. Even all those years ago, I had a title ready for this unborn book: Farewell Summer.”

With DANDELION WINE such an entrenched classic, it’s difficult to imagine how the content of FAREWELL SUMMER could have been incorporated into it. That would have been a completely different book. As it came to be, DW has a perfect story arc, across one summer in the life of a 12-year-old. Yet even as a leftover, on its own, FS is a quite different, a rather oddly amazing and moving, book.

(7) WHEATON MEETS SHATNER. In this video, Wil Wheaton acts out meeting William Bleeping Shatner when ST:TNG was in its second season.

The filming of Star Trek 5 happened only a few doors away from Star Trek The Next Generation, Giving Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher) the chance to meet his idol William Shatner, it didn’t go as well as he had hoped…

 

(8) LAST-MINUTE CAMPAIGNING. We’re annually snowed under by award eligibility posts, but it’s strange to see them still arriving with less than 24 hours left to nominate, when voters no longer have time to read/listen to the person’s recommended body of work.

Lawrence Schoen urges consideration of his Eating Authors blog:

Every Monday morning*, since June of 2011, I’ve put out a blog post featuring authors and their most memorable meals. That’s more than 350 stories of incredible food, amazing dinning companions, astonishing circumstances, and remarkable settings.

And Crystal Huff points to a year’s worth of tweets:

(9) POOP HAPPENS. From Pitchfork we learn: “Neil Young Writing a Sci-Fi Novel Called Canary”.

Neil Young recently sat down with Rolling Stone’s Patrick Doyle to discuss his role in the upcoming film Paradox. In the midst of the interview, he opened up about the sci-fi novel he’s been writing. It’s called Canary, and Young said it focused on a power company employee who gets caught exposing the corruption at his workplace. “He discovers the solar company he works for is a hoax,” he explained. “And they’re not really using solar. They’re using this shit—the guy who’s doing this has come up with a way to make bad fuel, the bad energy, this really ugly terrible stuff, and he’s figured out a way to genetically create these animals that shit that gives the energy to make the [fuel]. So he’s created this new species. But the species escapes. So it’s a fuckin’ mess. It’s a long story.”

Young said he already has a New York agent on board with the project, but didn’t share a possible publication date. He also got candid when it came to the topic of retirement tours. “When I retire, people will know, because I’ll be dead,” he said. “I’m not gonna say, ‘I’m not coming back.’ What kind of bullshit is that? I could go out and play if I felt like it, but I don’t feel like it.”

(10) SHETTERLY. Are Will Shetterly’s and Jon Del Arroz’ situations alike? JDA evidently thinks so.

(11) YO HO NO. Fraser Sherman is teed off: “Books are too expensive, so it’s okay to pirate them. Oh, really?”

I have no sympathy for this crap. In the many years I did the struggling-writer shtick, I saw lots of books I couldn’t afford. I didn’t steal copies. I wouldn’t do it if I were still struggling. If it was a paper copy, would they shoplift it from Barnes & Noble if they thought it was overpriced? Or how about a restaurant — if the service takes too long (the “they don’t release it fast enough” argument), does that mean they’re entitled to steal food from the salad bar? Soft drinks cost a fraction of what they sell for, does that make it okay to steal them? Or movie tickets — lord knows those are outrageously priced, but does that justify sneaking in without paying?

(12) THE JEOPARDY BEAT. Rich Lynch says tonight’s episode of Jeopardy! included this answer:

A contestant got it right.

(13) GOT OBSIDIAN? “Changing environment influenced human evolution”: a site in Kenya is “the earliest known example of such long distance [25-95km] transport, and possibly of trade.”

Early humans were in the area for about 700,000 years, making large hand axes from nearby stone, explained Dr Potts.

“[Technologically], things changed very slowly, if at all, over hundreds of thousands of years,” he said.

Then, roughly 500,000 years ago, something did change.

A period of tectonic upheaval and erratic climate conditions swept across the region, and there is a 180,000 year interruption in the geological record due to erosion.

It was not only the landscape that altered, but also the plant and animal life in the region – transforming the resources available to our early ancestors….

(14) STORAGE WARS. That stuff sure looked familiar…. “Police: Marvel fan spotted his $1.4M collection for sale online”.

Police in California said two men were arrested on burglary charges after a man discovered his $1.4 million collection of Marvel super hero memorabilia for sale online.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office said the Rancho Cucamonga Police Department responded Feb. 22 to a storage facility where a man discovered his collection of Marvel collectibles had been stolen after he was made aware that some of his items were listed for sale online.

(15) LATE NIGHT NERDS. Joel Zakem spotted this TV highlight: “Steven Colbert talks to Paul Giamatti about Science Fiction and used book stores during the first 5 minutes of this interview from yesterday’s Late Show. It’s probably the only time you will hear Henry Kuttner and Avram Davidson mentioned on late night TV.” — “Paul Giamatti And Stephen Are Science Fiction Nerds”

‘Billions’ star Paul Giamatti gets some gifts or reading assignments from Stephen, depending on how you look at them.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Joel Zakem, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Owlmirror.]

Pixel Scroll 1/12/18 If You’ll Be My Pixel, I Can Be Your Long Lost Scroll

(1) TERRAN AWARD. George R.R. Martin, in “Aliens In Taos”, announces he has created a scholarship to bring an sf writer from a non-English speaking country to Taos Toolbox.

When astronauts look down on Earth from orbit, they don’t see borders, national boundaries, or linguistic groups; they see one world, a gorgeous blue globe spinning in space, streaked with clouds. I don’t know if humanity will ever reach the stars (though I hope we will), but if we do, it won’t be Americans who get there. It won’t be the Chinese or the Russians or the British or the French or the Brazilians or the Kiwis or the South Africans or the Indians or the folk of any other nation state either. It will be humanity; in the language of the SF of my youth, it will be Terrans or Earthlings or Earthmen. The future belongs to all the peoples of the world.

With that in mind, I want to announce that I am sponsoring a new scholarship, to bring an aspiring SF writer from a non-English-speaking country to the Taos Toolbox, the graduate level writing workshop that Walter Jon Williams and Nancy Kress run every summer in the mountains of northern New Mexico. The TERRAN AWARD, as I am calling it, will be given annually, and will cover all tuition and fees to the Toolbox (travel and meals not covered, alas). Applicants will need to speak and write in English, but must be from from a country where English is not the primary language. Walter Jon and Nancy and the Toolbox staff will select the winner. For more information on applying for the workshop, and the scholarship, contact WJW at wjw@taostoolbox.com

(2) MARKET REPORT. David Steffen has compiled the “SFWA Market Report for January” for the SFWA Blog,

(3) VISIT QO’NOS. The first Klingon tourist center has opened in Sweden.

Humans! tlhlngan maH [we are Klingons]

The Klingon Institute of Cultural Exchange demand your presence at our Terra-Friendly© presentation of Klingon culture and customs at Turteatern on Terra, Alpha Quadrant.

You will get the possibility to try cuisine, listen to opera, and a chance to acquire useful lifesaving tips in your everyday interaction with Klingons and Klingon customs, so that you may plan your holiday to our great empire and the First City on the planet Qo’noS without risking any discomfort and/or premature death.

This live-act presentation is brought to you by Visit Qo’noS, the tourist department of the Klingon high council.”

(4) OPINION RECONSIDERED. Teresa Jusino goes in an unexpected direction at The Mary Sue with “Internalized Sexism and Star Wars: My Long-Overdue Apology to Luke Skywalker”.

It would be tempting to “blame” all this on the prequels adding in new information after the fact, but as the video essay goes to great lengths to point out, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda teach Luke the same lessons about burying his feelings in the original trilogy. The difference between Anakin and Luke?

Luke consistently bucks his Jedi training in favor of giving in to his emotions and saving people.

Luke cares about others, even if they’ve “fallen to the Dark Side,” and so whether it’s to save his sister and his friends or to try to redeem Darth Vader, he follows his emotions in spite of the warnings he gets from his mentors, and he’s heroic because of it. This is why, to me, the Luke we meet in The Last Jedi is Peak Luke. He’s at his most emotional, his most vulnerable … and ultimately, at his most heroic

(5) WHEATON. Think Tank tells about supernovas in “When Stars Go Boom.”

Why do some stars end their lives in a supernova explosion? And how does that lead to forming planets and life like us? A science expert (Jerrika Hinton) explains by hooking her hapless assistant (Wil Wheaton) up to a Thought Visualizer, a machine that allows anyone to see his thoughts. With Ed Wasser.

 

(6) MORE VIDEO ARCHEOLOGY. Fanac.org has posted the restored video of the “Weird and Horror Genre Luncheon Panel” from MidAmeriCon, the 1976 Worldcon.

MidAmeriCon, the 34th World Science Fiction Convention, was held in Kansas City in 1976. This excerpt from the discussion held at the Weird and Horror Genre Luncheon features (L-R) Poul Anderson, Charles Grant, Ted White, Kirby McCauley (mod), Tom Reamy and Stuart Schiff talking about ghost stories, fairy tales, and why they are attracted to the genre. There are some spots where the film is damaged. Video and video restoration provided by David Dyer-Bennet and the Video Archeology Project.

 

(7) FLAME ON. HBO dropped a teaser trailer for Fahrenheit 451.

HBO Films presents Fahrenheit 451. In a terrifying care-free future, a young man, Guy Montag, whose job as a fireman is to burn all books, questions his actions after meeting a young girl…and begins to rebel against society. Starring Michael B. Jordan, and Michael Shannon.

 

(8) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to share flash-fried cauliflower with Sheila Williams in episode 57 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Sheila Williams

Sheila has worked for Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine since 1982, became its editor in 2004, and went on to win the Hugo Award for Best Short Form Editor in 2011 and 2012. She also co-edited A Woman’s Liberation: A Choice of Futures by and About Women with Connie Willis, as well as numerous other anthologies.

We chatted about her first day on the job more than a third of a century ago, meeting Isaac Asimov at an early Star Trek convention when she was only 16, which writer intimidated her the most when she first got into the business, what she learned from working with previous Asimov’s editors Shawna McCarthy and Gardner Dozois, the most common problems she sees in the more than 7,000 stories that cross her desk each year, the identities of the only writers she’s never rejected, what goes through her mind in that moment she reads a manuscript and arrives at “yes,” and much more.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 12, 1933:  Dr. Moreau adaptation Island of Lost Souls opens in New York City.
  • January 12, 1940:  Universal’s Invisible Man returns in The Invisible Man Returns! The Department of Redundancy Department approves.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY EYEBALL

  • Born January 12, 1992 or 1997 – HAL 9000. In the film 2001, HAL became operational on this date in 1992. The Wikipedia says the activation year was 1991 in earlier screenplays and changed to 1997 in Clarke’s novel.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) MASSIVE EFFORT. Pornokitsch reviews all ten Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 2017 finalists in a single glorious post – “SPFBO2017: The Finalists Reviewed (All of ’em!)”.

But, for now, here are this year’s ten finalists, in no particular order, with my – somewhat arbitrary – scores. Thanks again for all the writers, readers, judges and administrator (singular!) for participating, and please check out the other judges for other perspectives!

(13) CON OR BUST. Kate Nepveu’s Con or Bust newsletter lists many opportunities for fans of color/nonwhite fans to get memberships and other assistance to attend upcoming sf events. For example —

The following cons have recently donated assistance or memberships to Con or Bust:

  • JoCo Cruise 2018, February 18-25, 2018, departing from San Diego, CA, USA. JoCo Cruise has donated at least five cabins, which accommodate two to four people, and which come with lodging, meals and drinks (except not alcohol or soft drinks), and access to all programming. Please see the blog post for important details.
  • The 2018 SFWA Nebula Conference, May 17-20, 2018, Pittsburgh, PA, USA. The SFWA Givers Fund has awarded $4,000 to Con or Bust to enable people of color/non-white people attend SFWA Nebula Conference; funds can be requested during February 1-10, 2018.
  • Beach City Con, October 12 – 14, 2018, Virginia Beach, VA, USA (@beachcitycon). Beach City Con is a Steven Universe fan convention; it donated four weekend passes, which can be requested during February 1-10, 2018.
  • Scintillation, October 5-7, 2018, Montréal, Quebec, Canada. Scintillation is a small literary focused SF convention with program by Jo Walton; details at its Kickstarter page. It donated three memberships and $100, which can be requested during February 1-10, 2018

(14) LAST JEDI ANALYZED. Under some circumstances, Foz Meadows might like to take a red pen to “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”. BEWARE SPOILERS, if you still need to.

Based on this, it seems clear that The Last Jedi is intended to parallel The Empire Strikes Back, both structurally and thematically. All the same elements are in play, albeit recontextualised by their place in a new story; but where Empire is a tight, sleek film, The Last Jedi is middle-heavy. The major difference between the two is Poe’s tension-and-mutiny arc, which doesn’t map to anything in Empire.

And this is the part where things get prickly. As stated, I really love Rose Tico, not only because she’s a brilliant, engaging character superbly acted by Kelly Marie Tran, but because she represents another crucial foray into diverse representation, both in Star Wars and on the big screen generally. There’s a lot to recommend Vice-Admiral Holdo, too, especially her touching final scene with Leia: I still want to know more about their relationship. I am not for a moment saying that either character – that either woman – doesn’t belong in the film, or in Star Wars, or that their roles were miscast or badly acted or anything like that. But there is, I suspect, a truly maddening reason why they were paired onscreen with Finn and Poe, and that this logic in turn adversely affected both the deeper plot implications and the film’s overall structure.

(15) NO EMISSION CONTROL. NPR says “Researchers Spot Massive Black Hole In Double ‘Burp'”.

A giant black hole located at the center of a galaxy 800 million light-years from Earth has been caught on camera letting out not one, but two massive “burps” of highly charged particles.

It is the first time astronomers have viewed the phenomenon twice in the same black hole.

Images released Thursday and credited to the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory were presented at the American Astronomical Society’s winter meeting in National Harbor, Md., outside Washington, D.C.

“Black holes are voracious eaters, but it also turns out they don’t have very good table manners,” Julie Comerford, an astronomer at the University of Colorado Boulder, said during a news conference Thursday, according to Space.com. “We know a lot of examples of black holes with single burps emanating out, but we discovered a galaxy with a supermassive black hole that has not one, but two burps.”

(16) PADDINGTON 2 VERDICT. NPR’s Andrew Lapin sees “‘Paddington 2’: A Story That Bears Repeating”.

If only all of us could see the world the way Paddington sees London. The furry little bear in a raincoat looks around his adopted home and finds, in the smiling faces of his neighbors, nothing but joyful spirits and good intentions. There are no “no-go zones”; even a prison full of roughnecks can be a chance to help people in need. Forget the fact that he’s a talking bear from Darkest Peru. It’s Paddington’s impenetrable spirit, his striving to do right by the world, to “always see the good in people,” even those who wish him harm, that is the biggest wish-fulfillment of 2018.

(17) SHE GETS MAIL. Ursula Vernon cannot comfort the youth of America —

(18) MORE EYES IN THE SKY. BBC reports on a UK satellite, launched by India, to make movies from space, (first of a planned cluster, like ICEYE satellites sent yesterday).

A British satellite has gone into orbit on an Indian rocket to acquire full-colour, high-definition video of the surface of the Earth.

The demonstrator is expected to pave the way for a series of at least 15 such spacecraft, which will be operated by the Guildford-based company Earth-i.

The small, low-cost UK mission was one of 31 payloads riding on the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle.

It lifted off from the Satish Dhawan spaceport in Andhra Pradesh.

(19) BLACK WIDOW APPROACHING. According to Variety, “Marvel’s Standalone ‘Black Widow’ Movie Gains Momentum With Jac Schaeffer Writing”.

Marvel is finally pushing ahead with the highly anticipated “Black Widow” standalone movie starring Scarlett Johansson, with Jac Schaeffer penning the script.

Sources say this is still very early development, as the film has no greenlight, but naming a writer is the closest the studio has come to moving forward on a standalone pic. Marvel President Kevin Feige met with several candidates before tapping Schaeffer, and Marvel execs met with Johansson to discuss what they wanted from a “Black Widow” writer.

In case you need a reminder, watch this scene from Iron Man 2 of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow in action.

(20) BLUE MAN CULTIST. Here’s the official trailer for Cold Skin.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Hampus Eckerman, Andrew Porter, Kathodus, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 1/9/18 Scrolled Pixel’s Book Of Practical SJW Credentials

(1) CLASSIC KETTLE. True Rat: The Beast of Leroy Kettle collects and preserves the humorous writing of British fan Leroy Kettle. Edited by Rob Hansen, it’s available as a free download in the usual ebook formats plus PDF from Ansible Editions. Over 105,000 words.

Every issue of True Rat is included, plus much more comic autobiography and articles, speeches and scurrilous gossip columns published elsewhere. Only a very few passages that seemed almost funny in the 1970s are here omitted to protect the guilty (Leroy Kettle).

One included item is the transcript of a live interview with our hero by Simone Walsh – with audience participation – at Skycon, the 1978 UK Eastercon. Rob Hansen strongly recommends the audio version, available as an MP3 download from this linked page on his site.

(2)  BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. Wil Wheaton remembers his friend Stepto in a touching tribute, “who lives who dies who tells your story”. The excerpt comes from his remarks at the memorial. He follows them with a powerful and poetic vision.

“I want to tell you about the time Stepto and I had cigars in the Caribbean,” I say, “I want to tell you about how he saved my Xbox for me, about how he made me laugh and how much I miss him in my life.” I think, but don’t say, that I want to talk about how sad and angry I am that Stepto successfully kept his alcoholism a secret from me, and from everyone who was closest to him, for the more than ten years we were friends. I want to talk about how angry I am that he got a second chance, when he survived a coma last year. I want to say a lot of swears, because he convinced himself and me that it wasn’t alcohol that put him into a coma, but some kind of genetic thing and a virus and something else that was a bunch of bullshit. But I am coming up on two years of an alcohol-free life, myself, and even though I’m not an alcoholic, and even though I don’t do any recovery programs, I do know that addiction is powerful and all consuming. I know that it’s incredibly easy to convince yourself that you’ve got it under control, and that the rationalizations and justifications come as easily as opening another bottle after adding an empty one to the lie. Huh. I was going to write “line”, but my fingers made the first typo I think I’ve ever made that was more apt than what I intended. I want to be angry, but I can’t be. Stepto was sick, and he couldn’t get well, so he died. But while he was here, he was a good friend, and a magnificent human being. The world is better because he was in it, and the sun is not as warm or as bright as it was, now that he is gone.

(3) BOMBCON. Fanhistorian Rob Hansen has added the story of “Bombcon” (1941) to his THEN website. It happened in London during WWII. He’s assembled the text of two conreports plus supporting photos.

England’s biggest fan reunion for the last year was held over the weekend, September 20/21, when in spite of the manifold difficulties attending such a proposition – far in excess of anything the US fans encounter – a muster of some 14 was managed. At Saturday lunch time a party gathered to welcome Maurice Hanson, ex-editor of “Novae Terrae” who had wangled leave from Somerset. After some bookhunting in Charing X Road, the party saw the film “Fantasia”.

On Sunday, a crowd assembled in Liverpool St. stn. waiting room, and proceeded to convert it, in the approved manner of fan meetings, into a magazine mart. We rolled on to Holborn to meet author John Beynon Harris, nearly got arrested for taking photos of the gang, had tea, & held London’s first open air meeting of fans, in Lincoln’s Inn Fields….

(4) MEANING OF DECLINING NUMBERS OF STARS. John Scalzi’s “Four Views of the Same Short Story” uses reviews of his newly-published short story as the basis for an essay about how different readers perceive the same story differently and what authors should do about that.

…The text of the story is the same regardless of who reads it, but the experience of reading it is unique to the person reading.

This is a very important thing for writers (especially newer writers) to learn and build into their worldview: That everyone’s experience of your work, and any reviews they might then write, are inherently subjective, dependent on the person writing them, and there is nothing in the world you can do about that. That’s just the nature of putting work out into the world. Your job is to write the story as well as you can, and not worry overly much how it will be received. Because, as you can see above, it will be received well, and poorly, and everywhere inbetween.

And yes, learning to be okay with the fact everyone won’t love what you wrote is hard, because everyone has an ego, and everyone likes the validation of people enjoying their work…

(5) JOHN CARTER IS ALIVE! ALIVE! I09, in “John Carter Of Mars Is Getting an Action-Packed Romance RPG”, says –

Disney might have soured a few people on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic scifi saga, but John Carter and the world of Barsoom, Mars have been reborn with a new roleplaying game….

Modiphius Entertainment has announced its latest tabletop game, John Carter of Mars: Adventures on the Dying World of Barsoom. Working in cooperation with Burroughs’ estate, the pulp-action RPG lets players take on iconic roles like John Carter, Dejah Thoris, and Tars Tarkas (or a made-up character) “as they travel, battle, and romance their way across the wondrous and dangerous world known to its natives as Barsoom.” John Carter of Mars launched today on Kickstarter, and it’s already nearly tripled its fundraising goal.

The John Carter of Mars game rules are available on the Kickstarter page.

(6) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian liked Bizarro’s take on the Bard of Avon.
  • Tarpinian also recommends The Argyle Sweater, where they serve up some Transformer humor.
  • And I’m personally a fan of this cat joke at Bizarro.

(7) TRANSFORMATIVE WORK. The Washington Post’s John Kelly looks at the cheesy 1973 horror film Werewolf of Washington which he thinks has resonances with contemporary politics — “What a howl: Here’s the background story to ‘The Werewolf of Washington’”.

A few years later, one of that film’s producers asked Ginsberg whether he had anything else up his sleeve. As scandal was starting to engulf the Nixon White House — but before Watergate had exploded — Ginsberg went to New York’s Fire Island and in 10 days wrote “The Werewolf of Washington.”

Said Ginsberg: “I came back and the [producer] said, ‘Are you out of your mind? This is an attack on the president. The script is yours. Don’t ever show up here again.’?”

Another producer and some of Ginsberg’s friends stepped in to fund the movie, shot on a shoestring budget of $100,000. Somehow, they were able to get veteran actor [Dean] Stockwell to star. His career, Ginsberg said, “had fallen into eclipse at that time. He loved the script.”

(8) GAME CHANGER. NPR discusses “Fighting Bias With Board Games” — like Buffalo.

This is where Buffalo — a card game designed by Dartmouth College’s Tiltfactor Lab — comes in. The rules are simple. You start with two decks of cards. One deck contains adjectives like Chinese, tall or enigmatic; the other contains nouns like wizard or dancer.

Draw one card from each deck, and place them face up. And then all the players race to shout out a real person or fictional character who fits the description….

It’s the sort of game you’d pull out at dinner parties when the conversation lulls. But the game’s creators says it’s good for something else — reducing prejudice. By forcing players to think of people that buck stereotypes, Buffalo subliminally challenges those stereotypes.

“So it starts to work on a conscious level of reminding us that we don’t really know a lot of things we might want to know about the world around us,” explains Mary Flanagan, who leads Dartmouth College’s Tiltfactor Lab, which makes games designed for social change and studies their effects.

Buffalo might nudge us to get better acquainted with the work of female physicists, “but it also unconsciously starts to open up stereotypical patterns in the way we think,” Flanagan says.

In one of many tests she conducted, Flanagan rounded up about 200 college students and assigned half to play Buffalo. After one game, the Buffalo players were slightly more likely than their peers to strongly agree with statements like, “There is potential for good and evil in all of us,” and, “I can see myself fitting into many groups.”

(9) ALL GOOD THINGS. “End signalled for European Ariane 5 rocket” says the BBC — 82 straight successes, but Ariane 6 will be cheaper.

A final order for a batch of 10 Ariane 5 rockets has been raised.

The vehicle, which has been the mainstay of European launcher activity for the past 20 years, will be phased out once its successor is in place.

ArianeGroup, the French-led industrial consortium, expects its new Ariane 6 to be flying no later than mid-2020, and in full operational service in 2023.

At that point, Ariane 5 can be retired. The last order ensures sufficient rockets are available for the handover.

(10) BIGGER. How do you take away a crashed helicopter? With a bigger helicopter: “US Marines rescue their helicopter… with a bigger one” (video)

US Marines have rescued one of their helicopters after it made an emergency landing on a beach in Okinawa, Japan. The aircraft was airlifted back to base using an even bigger helicopter.

The US presence on Okinawa in southern Japan is a key part of the security alliance between the two countries. The base houses about 26,000 US troops.

(11) WITH FACTS UNCHECKED. It’s fascinating to see JDA start his post “I’m in Good Company” with the rhetorical fillip “I was wrong,”  then grandiosely “correct” himself by citing more misinformation.

It turns out I was wrong in saying WorldCon  made an unprecedented  move in banning someone over politics. It has happened — one time before. Today on the blog we’re going to take you all the way back to 1939, where WorldCon was, like in this year, all too proud of blackballing someone over their dangerous visionary ideas for science fiction. A reader wrote to me:

The Futurians were kicked out of the first Worldcon because organizers feared that they would distribute communist propaganda. The group included a number of luminaries including Asimov and Pohl.

Because  of their fear of not Asimov hurting anyone  (no one fears me hurting anyone by the evidence of how I’ve conducted myself at dozens of conventions in the past) — but spreading political ideas that they found too dangerous for the times  — WorldCon banned Isaac Asimov.

The implication is clear. The elites in science fiction believe I have the potential to be the next Asimov…

Asimov wasn’t kicked out of the first Worldcon. There are a lot of places you can learn who was (like this  Fancyclopedia entry.) Asimov wasn’t one of them — a fact he himself referenced when speaking at “Science Fiction’s 50th Anniversary Family Reunion” in 1989 (Noreascon 3), where he sounded less embarrassed than proud that he had not been turned back at the door with the six other Futurians.

(12) WHAT’S A MAP? Meanwhile, blogger The Phantom, determined to force a connection between the Worldcon and James Damore’s lawsuit against Google, performs this geographic sleight-of-hand:

What does this have to do with WorldCon? Well, this year’s WorldCon and Hugo award ceremony will be held in San Francisco. That’s where Google’s headquarters is, and where all the computer nerds who work at Google live.

Of course, Google’s headquarters is in Mountain View, and the Worldcon is in San Jose. Neither is in San Francisco.

(13) KING KONG. Steve Vertlieb’s 2014 Rondo-nominated article ”A Triple Life: King Kong’s Trinity of Reincarnation on Film” is “A published celebration of the enduring legacy, and profound cultural significance of Merian C. Cooper’s immortal 1933 motion picture masterpiece, King Kong, as well as its numerous cinematic incarnations, influences, and tributes throughout the past eighty five years.”

KING KONG related the remarkable tale of a giant beast, an impossible ape-ike creature whose imposing, horrifying shadow would follow the intrepid explorers whose heroic exploits had led them to its discovery.  Released by RKO Studios during the winter of 1933, the picture reunited Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong with Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack for yet another thrilling adventure in the lurid jungles of a primordial world.  They were joined by Bruce Cabot in, perhaps, the pivotal performance of his career.

(14) ADVERTISING ART. Andrew Liptak at The Verge recommended a documentary about a very rare collection:

The Collection is a short documentary (via Kottke) by Adam Roffman that chronicles a unique piece of Hollywood history: tens of thousands of plates and blocks used to create the newspaper advertisements used for nearly every film that hit theaters before the 1980s.

…The collection includes blocks used for films as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, Star Wars, Planet Of The Apes, and many others.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Pixel Scroll 12/31/17 Another Scroll Over, a Pixel Just Begun

(1) WEEPIN’ WESLEY. The ST:TNG Lego-style figure set discussed in yesterday’s Scroll compelled a response from Wil Wheaton “because so many of you asked…”

…In this particular custom set, though, Wesley is depicted as a crying child, and that’s not just disappointing to me, it’s kind of insulting and demeaning to everyone who loved that character when they were kids. The creator of this set is saying that Wesley Crusher is a crybaby, and he doesn’t deserve to stand shoulder to minifig shoulder with the rest of the crew. People who loved Wesley, who were inspired by him to pursue careers in science and engineering, who were thrilled when they were kids to see another kid driving a spaceship? Well, the character they loved was a crybaby so just suck it up I guess.

“Oh, Wil Wheaton, you sweet summer child,” you are saying right now. “You think people actually loved Wesley Crusher. You’re adorable.”

So this is, as you can imagine, something I’ve spent a lot of time dealing with for thirty years….

So back to the minifig: it’s “Shut up, Wesley,” made into what would otherwise be an awesome minifig, in a collection of truly amazing and beautiful minifigs. It’s a huge disappointment to me, because I’d love to have a Wesley in his little rainbow acting-ensign uniform, but I believe that it’s insulting to all the kids who are now adults who loved the character and were inspired by him to go into science and engineering, or who had a character on TV they could relate to, because they were too smart for their own good, a little awkward and weird, and out of place everywhere they went (oh hey I just described myself. I never claimed to be objective here)….

(2) ARTIST AWARENESS. Edmonton’s Hugo Award Book Club blog encourages Hugo voters to consider some unusual choices when nominating works for Best Professional Artist in their blog post “Beyond The Standard Palette”.

Thanks to the Internet, digital print-on-demand services, small-press art books, alternate art posters, the availability of new artistic tools, and the fact that science fiction has gone mainstream, we are in the middle of a boom in science fiction art. Over the past decade, there have likely been more artists making science fiction art than there have ever been before. Some of the work that is flying under the radar of Hugo voters is breathtakingly imaginative, technically accomplished, and worthy of consideration.

Their post includes sample work by their suggested favorites.

(3) SMUGGLERS’ BEST. The Book Smugglers, Ana and Thea, each offer their ten best lists in “The Book Smugglers’ Best Books of 2017”, and several other lists while they’re at it. Ana begins –

Remember how 2016 was a terrible year and we were all “what a trash fire of a year”? Good times. 2017 proved to be even worse in many ways – and yet, somehow through it all, I did manage to read MORE than last year. It was just the ONE book more – 61 as opposed to 2016’s 60 – but hey, I will take my victories where I can.

And just like last year, I had to be extremely careful picking the books I’d read – not only because of time constraints but also because I wanted to read happy, light books. My average rate for 2017 is pretty dam high at 7.9, an all-time high. Predictably, picking a mere top 10 was a super difficult task and at one point, I emailed Thea to ask if my top 10 could be a top 12.

(4) WRONG QUESTIONS’ BEST READS. Likewise, Abigail Nussbaum read over five dozen books last year and explains her top picks in “2017, A Year in Reading: Best Books of the Year” at Asking the Wrong Questions.

As usual, this list is presented in alphabetical order of the author’s surname:

  • My Favorite Thing is Monsters, Book One by Emil FerrisIt’s amazing to think that this long, dense, expertly-crafted volume was Ferris’s first published work.  It feels like the grand capping-off of an illustrious career, not an introduction of an exciting new artist.  The book itself, however, is very much about the emergence and development of a young talent.  In pen-stroke drawings meant to evoke a child’s sketchbook, Ferris introduces us to Karen Reyes, a ten-year-old girl growing up in a seedy 1968 Chicago neighborhood.  Karen’s life is troubled by her mother’s illness, her father’s absence, her older brother’s emotional problems, and the death of her beloved upstairs neighbor, the Holocaust survivor Anka.  She is also, however, struggling with her own identity–as an artist, as a working class woman of color, as a lesbian, and, as she thinks of it, as a monster, straight out of the schlocky horror movies she loves so much.  Her drawings dash between fantasy and reality, between Chicago in the 60s and Germany in the 30s, as she listens to Anka’s recorded testimony of the things she did to survive, which went on to haunt her and may have gotten her killed.  The result is a mystery story, a coming of age tale, a narrative of artistic growth, and a major art object in itself….

(5) TIME FOR THE STARS: As the year disappears, Jason returns quickly with the “Annual Summation: 2017” which looks back on the last twelve months of Featured Futures and the world of webzines.

This summation has three parts. The first is a list and slideshow of the magazines Featured Futures covered in 2017, with statistics and lists of the stories read and recommended from them. The second is a list of this blog’s popular posts and most-visited stories, with a pitch for some “underclicked” stories. The third is a note about some non-webzine readings I did for Tangent.

(6) OBAMA AND GENRE. Axios’ report “Barack Obama shares his favorite books and songs of 2017” says The Power by Naomi Alderman is on his Facebook list. I checked, and so is Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward.

(7) BY THE NUMBERS. Dorothy Grant opens the discussion of what is a “Successful Author” at Mad Genius Club.

Dean Wesley Smith, who’s been in this business for a few decades, has said that he knew a crusty old bookstore owner who figured you weren’t a “pro” until you had ten books out, as he’d seen far too many writers quit before they got that far. So the day Dean slapped that tenth published book on the table, the old gent acknowledged that he was “no longer a neo-pro.”

But for actual hard numbers, Author Earnings has pulled back the curtain and let us take a good hard look at actual sales figures, and the amount of money going to the author from those sales. They found about 10,000 authors are making $10,000+ a year from their sales on Amazon.com. (May 2016 Report). Of those, slightly over 4,600 were earning above $25K/yr on Amazon.com (not counting .co.uk, .au, .de, .ca, or kobo/iTunes, etc., so I expect the actual numbers are a little higher.)

(8) A BLAND NEW YEAR. The Traveler at Galactic Journey has reached January 1963 and isn’t finding Analog any more to his taste than it was last year: “[Dec. 31, 1962] So it goes… (January 1963 Analog)”.

This month’s Analog, the last sf digest of the month, complements the news situation.  It’s filled with pages and pages of pages, none of which will likely stick with you long after you set it down.  The stories in this month’s issue don’t even have the virtue of being terrible.  Just redolent in that smug mediocrity that so frequently characterizes this mag, once the flagship of science fiction.

(9) WINDY CITY’S GOH. Doug Ellis & John Gunnison announced F. Paul Wilson will be GoH of the 2018 Windy City Pulp & Paper Convention, April 6-8, 2018 in Lombard, IL.

F. Paul Wilson. Photo by and copyright © Andrew Porter

Wilson is the author of over 50 books, many of which feature his popular anti-hero, Repairman Jack.  Among his numerous awards are the Bram Stoker Award, the Prometheus Award, the Porgie Award and the Inkpot Award.  His first published story, “The Cleaning Machine,” appeared in the March 1971 issue of Startling Mystery Stories, while his second appeared a month later, in the April 1971 issue of the John Campbell edited Analog.  His newest novel, “The God Gene,” is scheduled to be released by Forge Books on January 2, 2018.  Wilson contributed the Foreword to The Art of the Pulps, published in October 2017, where he shared that “I love the pulps. … I’ve been a fan of the pulps since my teens…”  We’re excited to have him as our GoH, and we know that our attendees will enjoy meeting him at the convention!

(10) HE WENT PSYCHO. Doctor Strangemind’s Kim Huett ends the year by explaining his theory about director Alfred Hitchcock’s decisions for adapting The Birds“Psycho Birds Bloch Hitchcock!”

Having at last seen the film version of The Birds I find I was right to assume that a 1963 Hollywood production, even with Hitchcock at the helm, could not match the power of du Maurier’s original. Overall I thought The Birds was okay, certainly better than I had assumed it would be, but still not great. I can see why Hitchcock made so many changes as I doubt that in 1963 a more faithful translation of the story would sell tickets, but I can also see why Daphne du Maurier hated what he did to her story. I didn’t hate it myself but I did think it was the least impressive Hitchcock film I’ve ever seen.

None the less I was fascinated the way Hitchcock started off the film with a light romance that had nothing to do with du Maurier’s story and didn’t begin to introduce anything by du Maurier until the romance plot was well advanced. Why did he take such an unexpected approach I wondered as I watched this story unfold? Afterwards however it occurred to me that Hitchcock began The Birds the way he did in order to replicate the success of Psycho.

This theory of mine starts with not with Hitchcock but Robert Bloch for it was he who wrote the 1959 novel Hitchcock turned into his famous film….

(11) OF BRONZE. Cat Rambo continues to share the pleasures she finds in the old series in — “Reading Doc Savage: The Czar of Fear”.

…And then we hear a sound from the radio: “a tolling, like the slow note of a big, listless bell. Mixed with the reverberations was an unearthly dirge of moaning and wailing.” The trio react with panic, but Aunt Nora reassures them, “It’s not likely the Green Bell was tolling for us — that time!” We learn that whenever the bell tolls, it means death and insanity….

(12) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 31, 1935 — C. B. Darrow received a patent for his Monopoly game
  • December 31, 1958 — We saw The Crawling Eye which was originally entitled The Trollenberg Terror.
  • December 31, 1958 The Strange World Of Planet X premiered.
  • December 31, 1961 The Phantom Planet premiered.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRLS

  • Born December 31, 1945 – Connie Willis
  • Born December 31, 1949 – Susan Shwartz
  • Born December 31 – Sharon Sbarsky

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • It’s not easy to crack a joke about an in memoriam presentation – Mike Kennedy says Brewster Rockit managed to do it.

(15) DC NOT AC. The Hollywood Reporter calls it “2017: The Year Almost Everything Went Wrong for Marvel Comics”.

Nearly every month held a new PR crisis for the company where Iron Man, Thor and Captain America live.

2017 has been a bad year for Marvel Entertainment’s comic book division. It’s not simply that sales have tumbled (the company’s traditional dominance in year-end sales charts is absent this year), but that Marvel’s comic book publishing arm has suffered through a year of PR disasters so unforgiving as to make it appear as if the division has become cursed somehow. Here’s how bad things have been over the last twelve months.

(16) BEST COMICS. According to Erik and Paul from Burbank’s House of Secrets, here are the Best Comic Books of 2017.

(17) DANGEROUS TO WHO? Milo’s lawsuit against Simon & Schuster has made the editor’s complaints about his manuscript part of the public record. Follow the tweet to see two pages of the publisher’s rebuttal submitted to the court.

Ivers considered plaintiff’s first draft to be, at best, a superficial work full of incendiary jokes with no coherent or sophisticated analysis of political issues of free speech… Plainly it was not acceptable to Simon & Schuster for publication.

(18) AND THE BAND PLAYED ON. The Han Solo movie will also receive the master’s touch: “John Williams Set To Compose A Theme For Solo: A Star Wars Story”.

It looks like Solo: A Star Wars Story is getting a theme from the legendary Star Wars music composter John Williams.

According to a report by Variety, Williams is to continue his working relationship with Lucasfilm, working on a new them for the studio’s upcoming standalone film, Solo.  Williams is to work with How to Train Your Dragon composer John Powell, who is set to work on the rest of the music of the film. Powell’s involvement with the project was announced way back in July last year, and in an interview with the publication, Williams explained how he and Powell would collaborate on Solo’s music.

“[Powell’s] assignment is something I’m very happy about. What I will do is offer this to John, and to [director] Ron Howard, and if all parties are happy with it, then I will be happy. … John [Powell] will complete the score. He will write all the rest of the themes and all of the other material, which I’m going to be very anxious to hear.”

(19) SORTING HAT. I agree with the Facebook matchup, so maybe the others are right, too.

(20) CONTINUED NEXT PHAROAH. The BBC explains the value in “Scan technique reveals secret writing in mummy cases”.

[The cases] are made from scraps of papyrus which were used by ancient Egyptians for shopping lists or tax returns.

The hieroglyphics found on the walls of the tombs of the Pharaohs show how the rich and powerful wanted to be portrayed. It was the propaganda of its time.

The new technique gives Egyptologists access to the real story of Ancient Egypt, according to Prof Adam Gibson of University College London, who led the project.

(21) ACQUIRED TASTES. Abbey White revisits some old favorites as she explains “Why Spice Is a Staple of Science Fiction” at Food & Wine.

One of science fiction’s most famous food tropes, spice often exists as something outside its everyday culinary use. Whether a deadly, interstellar travel enhancer in Frank Herbert’s Dune, a magical form of seduction in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s The Mistress of Spices, a drug in George Lucas’s Star Wars or currency in EA Games sci-fi simulation Spore, across mediums the term has become synonymous with things it ostensibly isn’t. As a result, it’s altered the way we understand food within imagined, futuristic settings. But why are science fiction writers making something so commonplace such a notable element of their universes? The answer lies in the extensive global history of spice.

For many writers, creating new worlds in genre requires first mining through the social and scientific things they’re familiar with and then making them unfamiliar, either by changing their composition or context. Speaking to Food & Wine, Georgia Tech University professor and former president of the Science Fiction Research Association Lisa Yaszek noted that because spice is both a regionally distinctive and internationally mundane aspect of life, it’s a fitting launching board for establishing that familiar/unfamiliar dichotomy in a world of altered technology.

(22) THIS WILL KEEP YOU ON YOUR DIET. Disturbing images accompany Vice’s interview — “Pastry Chef Annabel Lecter [Who] Will Turn Your Nightmares into Cake”. This one is very…vanilla… compared with the others.

Do you get a lot of negative comments on the internet?

It comes with the territory, I get, “Why are you disturbed,” “Why do you do that”, “how can you make this”…and I’m like, “At the end of the day, it’s only a cake.” It’s food. I’m not burying anyone, or digging anyone up, or killing anyone. It’s food. With the baby heads if you google the comments I was called out for “inciting cannibalism,” being a “satanist,” as well as called a racist because they were white chocolate. It was just the best. And with all of that, people were asking if I was upset. No, because I’m none of those. [However], if somebody said they were really badly made I would have cried. If somebody said this tasted like crap then yeah, I’d be upset. The other stuff I just find entertaining. Priorities, you know.

(23) FIXED OPINION. At Yahoo! Lifetyle Murphy Moroney declares, “If the Caretakers Aren’t Your Favorite Characters in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, You Can’t Sit With Us”.

Even a Star Wars franchise novice such as myself picked up on how epic they are right off that bat, and I’ve only seen one-and-a-half of the movies in my 25 years of life. Why should you be as obsessed with them as I am? Because if the Jedi are the head of the universe, then the caretakers are the neck that supports it. And newsflash people: without the neck, there’s no head!

Hey, thanks anyway, but I see some people over there I promised to sit with….

(24) OUT WITH THE OLD. Let Camestros Felapton be the first to wish you…

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, Will R., Jason, Olav Rokne, Cat Rambo, and JJ for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Pixel Scroll 12/17/17 Scroll Your Pixel Wings And Fly Away

(1) OLD CHESTNUTS ROASTING. John Scalzi’s “8 Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know About Your Favorite Holiday Music” might make you suspect he gets his inside pop music history the same place Lucy Van Pelt finds her little-known facts about nature. But his facts are much funnier!

“Little Drummer Boy”

…Most of these drafts were only fragments, although Davis completed “Little Didgeridoo Boy” and had it performed for Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies during a 1964 trip to the United States. Menzies was reported to ask Davis how a didgeridoo happened to be anywhere near Bethlehem in biblical times. Davis would later write disparagingly of Menzies’ “Philistine musical nature” and shoved that version of the song into a box. In 2001, musical artist Madonna was reported to have considered recording the didgeridoo version with herself playing the instrument, but the idea was shelved to avoid offending Australian aboriginal sensibilities. Madonna went on to make the film Swept Away instead.

(2) COLLECTING COLLECTIBLES. Amy B. Wang of the Washington Post profiles Star Wars autograph collectors, who will happily pay $200 for Felicity Jones’s signature and $295 (in cash) for Mark Hamill’s and who make sure they have Vis-a-Vis blue permanent markers, which are no longer made and sell for $415 a box on eBay — “Want an autograph by ‘Star Wars’ Mark Hamill? Bring the right marker and $295 in cash.”

Welcome to the modern world of autograph collecting, a passion that has evolved into a highly choreographed commercial endeavor. It’s rare these days to write to a PO box and receive an autographed headshot or to bump into a famous figure on the street and ask him to sign a napkin. Increasingly, getting an autograph requires a fan’s time and money.

Despite this, autograph seeking has reached a fever pitch for the Star Wars fandom, a reflection of the series’s hold on popular culture.

(3) YOUNG ARTHUR. Kim Huett says. “Since the centenary of Arthur C. Clarke’s birth has been celebrated by all and sundry it seems only appropriate that I come in late with the story nobody else knows to tell” — “The Young Arthur Clarke”. (Here follows the lead-in – the principal story is at the link.)

Believe it or not but there was a time when Arthur C. Clarke was not yet a famous science fiction author. Way back in the late thirties he was merely known as an aspiring author and genius who had been nicknamed ‘Ego Clarke’ by his good friend William F. Temple. Why ‘Ego’? Something to do with Arthur C. Clarke being very sure of himself I believe. I’m reminded of a an exchange between Bill Temple and Arthur’s brother that occurred during Clarke’s first visit to the USA. While out on a late evening stroll Arthur’s brother exclaimed in horror that Arthur had forgotten to take the Moon with him. Bill Temple assured him that everything was fine, that Arthur had a US edition over there. You simply don’t make that sort of joke about an unassuming friend. (For more about the Temple/Clarke relationship please read Temple of the Sphinx.)

(4) SMOFCON MEMBERSHIPS. Next year, SMOFCon 36 will be held in Santa Rosa, California. Chair Bruce Farr announced:

Membership rates are presently $50 for full, or $25 for Con Suite Only memberships. After December 31, 2017 full memberships will go up to $60. The link to our online Registration page is here.

We’ve added some space for Thursday pre-convention meetings just down from the Hospitality Suite. There is also a meeting room close by the Hospitality Suite throughout the convention for socializing so that the Hospitality parlors won’t be overcrowded.

If you have any questions or comments, the below links are active from the Committee page on our website.

(5) JUMANJI. The December 16 Parade has an interview with Jack Black by Mara Reinstein, where Black recalls his friendship with Robin Williams and explains why he is barely on social media: “Jack Black Dives into Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”.

Black filmed Jumanji with its original star at the forefront of his mind.“He had a profound influence on the industry,” he says of the legendary comic. Black recalls being an 8-year-old kid in Southern California and seeing the rising star as alien Mork from the planet Ork in a 1978 episode of Happy Days (which would lead to Williams’ own breakout sitcom, Mork & Mindy).

“It was a big moment for me,” he says. “He came on like a hurricane. I remember being like ‘Who is that? That guy is amazing! I believe he’s an alien!’ Throw any other actor in there and it’s ridiculous. But Robin Williams took you on this fantastic journey with this absurd premise because he committed so completely.”

(6) GIVENS OBIT. In “Robert Givens, R.I.P.”, Mark Evanier pays tribute to a former Disney animator who died December 14.

Bob Givens got out of high school in 1936. In 1937, he went to work for the Walt Disney Studio, mostly as animation checker on Donald Duck cartoons and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In 1940, he moved over to the Warner Brothers cartoon studio where one of his first jobs was doing the redesign of a rabbit character who would henceforth be known as Bugs Bunny.

(7) POPVICH OBIT. Marina L. Popovich, a test pilot who broke more than 100 flying records and who was the first Soviet woman to break the sound barrier, died November 30 reports the New York Times:

Despite their initial skepticism, most male instructors and pilots came to be in awe of her.

“She learned strikingly fast,” Nikolai A. Bondarenko, a test pilot, wrote in his memoirs, adding that she had piloted an L-29 fighter jet “as confidently as she walked the ground.”

In “The First Soviet Cosmonaut Team: Their Lives and Legacies” (2009), the space historians Colin Burgess and Rex Hall wrote that most of Ms. Popovich’s success “would lead to later speculation that she was about to become the first Soviet woman to travel into space.”

At one point the Soviet space program did train female cosmonauts, and Ms. Popovich was admitted for testing. But ultimately only one, Valentina Tereshkova, was sent into space. Ms. Popovich said that she was advised to focus on her family, and that she was forced out of the program.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 17, 1843 — Charles Dickens’ classic story “A Christmas Carol” is published.
  • December 17, 1969 – Project Blue Book, a program dedicated to the investigation of UFOs, was terminated. For more than 20 years, the U.S. Air Force had examined 12,618 sightings. Most of these were found to be caused by man-made objects such as balloons, satellites, and aircraft; natural or astronomical phenomena; weather; and hoaxes. Today, 701 remain unexplained
  • December 17, 2003 — The third and final Lord of the Rings movie opens.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born December 17, 1973 — Rian Johnson, director of some outer space movie.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Mike Kennedy asks if this is unfair competition at the Olympics – In the Bleachers.
  • John King Tarpinian says he would have one of these if he still had an aquarium – Close To Home.

(11) OPENING WEEKEND THREATS. Sure sounds scary, but shouldn’t a real Jedi be able to do some kind of mind trick on himself to avoid seeing spoilers?

(12) AVOIDING SPOILERS. And if you haven’t seen the movie, don’t watch this video. Well, actually, do what you like, I’m not your mother!

(13) PORG$. The Washington Post’s Hau Chu looks at the porgs by telling readers about the Ewoks, because George Lucas, thinking about his daughter, “wanted her–and all children–to have a STAR WARS character that would appeal specifically to them” — “Porgs are the latest Star Wars creature aimed at hearts and wallets”.

 Porgs appeared for only a split second in the trailer, but one glimpse of the creatures was enough to stir up a frenzy. A Google search produces more than 3 million results for porgs, many of them revolving around one question: What are they?

The birdlike creature was inspired by puffins on Skellig Michael, an island off the southwest coast of Ireland. That island was the filming location for Ahch-To, the planet where Luke Skywalker appears at the end of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

“You fall into those deep, soulful eyes. I think a lot of people are going to want a porg as a pet,” said Pablo Hidalgo, creative executive for Lucasfilm, the company that has produced the Star Wars movies.

(14) HEAD CANON. “No, Lord Helmet, I didn’t see you playing with your dolls!” “For ‘Last Jedi’ Director, The Journey To ‘Star Wars’ Began With Action Figures”.

Johnson has been a Star Wars fan since he was a little boy in Denver, playing with his action figures.

“My mom surprised me and got me a Jawa,” he recalls. “I wanted a Jawa, and she got it for me. But then you always end up losing the main characters, and you’re left with like Hammerhead and like the walrus man; with the weird droid whose name you don’t know, who’s missing a leg. Those were the first movies I was making in my head.”

(15) REIMAGINED. A different take on the iconic headgear.

(16) ALSO PLAYING. NPR loved SW VIII and hated Ferdinand, but says the obscure Spanish Birdboy is “A Dark, Beautiful, Boundary-Pushing Animated Film”.

Just how dark is Birdboy: The Forgotten Children, a trippy animated folktale from Spain about a bunch of talking animal adolescents searching for a better life? Well, even the tottering alarm clock seemingly there for comic relief wails to its owner, “Why do you always have to hurt me?” In fact, the bulk of the movie consists of adorable, anthropomorphic objects and critters getting hurt, often in some grisly fashion: an inflatable PVC duck who screams when he’s deflated; a chirping bird who gets shot to death, leaving behind starving chicks; a baby Jesus doll who cries an alarming amount of blood when his owner squeezes him. Yessir, the Happy Meal toys are sure to go flying off the shelves for this one.

(17) ASKING THE WRONG QUESTION. Abigail Nussbaum is back from the theater with her take on “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”. This is a full review, so BEWARE SPOILERS.

Whatever else can be said about this film, it is so much its own thing that I half-wonder whether general audiences won’t reject it for being neither the fun romp they associate with Star Wars, nor the grim but still conventionally-structured deviation from the norm that was The Empire Strikes Back.  It is the first Star Wars film to actually try to be about something[1], and what it’s about is, well, Star Wars.  It’s a film that is in direct conversation with the previous works in this series, most especially Return of the Jedi and the prequels.  It spends slightly more than half its running time fooling you into thinking that it’s merely going to recapitulate these movies, only to pull the rug out from under you, along the way asking some pointed questions about the Star Wars‘s universe’s core assumptions.  This doesn’t entirely work, but the mere existence of the attempt, in a film universe as little given to self-reflection as this one, is shocking.  It’s a Star Wars movie that is interesting.

(18) THE UPSIDE DOWN. The BBC tells how “Rocket rumbles give volcanic insights”.

What do volcanoes and rockets have in common?

“Volcanoes have a nozzle aimed at the sky, and rockets have a nozzle aimed at the ground,” explains Steve McNutt, a geosciences professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

It explains why he and colleague Dr Glenn Thompson have installed the tools normally used to study eruptions at the famous Kennedy Space Center.

Comparing the different types of rumblings could yield new insights.

(19) DROPPING CHUNKY. There’s a madness to this method: “Biologists With Drones And Peanut Butter Pellets Are On A Mission To Help Ferrets”.

She said there are only about 300 black-footed ferrets left in the wild, and they depend almost entirely on prairie dogs to survive. And protecting the prairie dog population is beneficial to species beyond the ferrets.

“Prairie dogs are Chicken McNuggets of the prairie, where so many species eat them,” Bly said.

But in recent years, prairie dog towns across the American West have been exposed to a deadly disease called sylvatic plague. While it’s treatable in humans, sylvatic plague can wipe out entire prairie dog towns in less than a month. And that means no more food for endangered black-footed ferrets.

So Bly, Matchett and a team of scientists and engineers have spent this year vaccinating prairie dogs in central Montana against the plague using drones.

Drone pilots fly the machines across the prairie, dropping blueberry-sized pellets about every 30 feet. They are flavored to taste like peanut butter, and prairie dogs love peanut butter. The kicker is that they’re laced with a live vaccine that protects them from the plague.

(20) YOUR NEXT SIDEWISE AWARD WINNER. Sounds legit.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 12/15/17 You’ve Got The Wrong Android, I Scroll My Name Danger

(1) HE DOOD IT. How could he not? “Wil Wheaton Wears ‘Star Trek’ Uniform To ‘Star Wars’ FOR REAL”.

Life gloriously imitated art Thursday when actor Wil Wheaton wore a “Star Trek” costume to a screening of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

Wheaton portrayed Wesley Crusher on TV’s “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (1987-1994), and has been playing himself on “The Big Bang Theory.” In a 2015 episode of the hit sitcom, he watched a “Star Wars” movie in “Star Trek” garb, attracting boos from the audience and an insult from one moviegoer. “Live long and suck it!” he yelled back in a memorable line.

(2) A DISTURBANCE IN THE THEATER. Fans weren’t prepared to accept the first silent Star Wars movie: “Uprising at Burbank AMC after ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ starts without sound”.

According to Twitter user, Isaias Rodriguez, theater management attempted to appease the angry fans by either moving them to another screening at the same theater — albeit not in the IMAX format — or to attend a screening of the much-anticipated film at another AMC theatre Friday.

Police reportedly were called to the Southern California venue.

(3) ICE CREAM AND COOKIES. Scott Edelman invites you to lunch at the Society of Illustrators with Irene Gallo in Episode 55 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Irene Gallo

Gallo has worked as an art director at Tor Books for more than two decades, where she currently holds the title of Creative Director. She’s also the Associate Publisher of Tor.com, and is ultimately the one responsible for the look of the publishing company’s book covers, as well as its online output. She’s been nominated for a Chesley Award for her art direction an astounding 19 times, the first back in 1999, and has won 13, as early as 2001, and as recently as 2017.

We discussed what it was like the first time she realized she wasn’t the only one in the world who cared so strongly about art, how she felt the day she discovered Harlan Ellison as well as the title of his that made her go “whoa,” why seeing book covers as thumbnails started long before the trend of Internet bookselling, how a manuscript moves from cover concept through to final cover, whether the cliche that an author is the worst possible designer of their own book cover is true, how self-published authors who create their own books can get the best possible covers, and much more.

(4) WHO PREVIEW. If you want to read some “minor spoilers” for the Doctor Who Christmas Special, “Twice Upon A Time,” ScienceFiction.com is ready to oblige: “15 Things To Watch For In ‘Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time’”. If not – DON’T CLICK!

With just 11 days to go until to Peter Capaldi’s Doctor and the Steven Moffat say their final farewells, some fans are finding it hard to wait! Some sites have been granted early access to ‘Twice Upon a Time,’ so to hold us over until December 25, we have a list of hints and teasers from the episode!

(5) SJW CREDENTIALS ARE GO. Corey J. White has identified “5 of the Coolest Cats in Space” for readers of Tor.com.

The cat is on the floor, looking up at me and yelling as I type this. My original plan was for a piece on ‘Pets In Space’, but she’s threatened to vomit on my bed, under the covers, if I don’t focus solely on cats. Why? Because cats are better than dogs. I am typing this of my own free will. Please send salmon.

In all seriousness though, even dog lovers have to admit that cats would make better pets aboard a space craft: they don’t require as much food as any but the smallest dogs, unlike many dog breeds they don’t need a lot of space to run around, and they’re great at catching the rodents chewing on the cables of the life-support system.

(6) SECOND FIFTH. John Scalzi shares his “Spoiler-Free Observations on The Last Jedi”.

  1. The Last Jedi is the longest Star Wars film, and director Rian Johnson packs it full of story, so you’re unlikely to be bored, and even the laggy parts move along. With that said, there’s so much going on in the story and we’re keeping track of so many characters (Luke and Leia and Rey and Kylo and Poe and Finn and Chewie and BB-8 and R2D2 and C-3PO and Hux and Snoke and Phasma and oh look there are new characters too and what the hell are these porg things anyway?) that it can feel thin, and some bits are clearly contrived simply to give beloved characters things to do and/or give us new merchandising yes Porgs I am looking at you (I bought a porg stuffed animal at the show last night so, uh, I fell for it). I think I would have been happier with a sharper focus on fewer characters, and also I’m worried that Episode IX will be three and a half hours long and have five different endings, a la The Return of the King.

(7) PLAY BALL. Cut4.com, a Major League Baseball site, tried to attract a few clicks by assembling a baseball team out of Star Wars characters in celebration of The Last Jedi — “This is the team you’re looking for”. This one you need to follow baseball to fully appreciate:

Starting Pitchers: Obi-Wan Kenobi and Jamie Moyer

The wise old wizard, utilizing a psychological advantage to best his enemies and thrive, despite all odds. And, as a solid No. 2, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

(8) BATTLESTAR GALACTICA VET BACK ON TV. Deadline reports — “Apple Orders Ronald D. Moore Space Drama Series”.

Ronald D. Moore is heading back to space. Apple has given a straight-to-series order to a space drama from the Battlestar Galactica developer. The untitled project hails from Sony Pictures Television and Moore’s studio-based Tall Ship Productions.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 15, 1958 Frankenstein’s Daughter came out.
  • December 15, 1961 The Twilight Zone aired “Once Upon A Time,” starring Buster Keaton.
  • December 15, 1974 Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein premieres.
  • December 15, 1978 Superman – The Movie premiered in U.S. theaters.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born December 15, 1949 — Don Johnson, who starred with his canine companion in A Boy and His Dog.

(11) MATH PROJECT. Do we know anyone attending Emmanuel College in Boston?

(12) DUBIOUS FAN. Camestros Felapton is restraining his enthusiasm about new mix-and-match possibilities after the Disney/Fox merger for several reasons. Here’s one of them: “Disney, Fox and MCU”.

A comic book universe relies on somehow making superheroes whose basic premise is quite different work together. Marvel has juggled this by having elements that work together and elements that work as given character’s own domain. Thor can be a god-like alien being on Earth and exist side-by-side with Iron Man a human with fancy gadgets but their separate adventures put the characters in quite different characters. Some suspension of disbelief is required to accept that these characters can have their own stories without every film requiring all the Avengers to turn up to help but the settings help and each character can have separate stories.

Now add the X-men. The X-Men aren’t the X-Men without the key premise that they live in a world in which:

  • Some people get random mutant superpowers.
  • That the wider population knows this.
  • That the mutant population is feared and persecuted and suppressed.

Captain America has to be cool with this. I mean, obviously, he isn’t but for the X-Men to have their stories, basically The Avengers have to not do anything when the US government starts hunting people with giant killer robots. Also, the wider public has to be relatively OK with one bunch of super powered people and raging bigots about a different bunch. It has to be OK to get superpowers from a spider bite but not from a genetic mutation AND people have to believe that story (i.e. people don’t think Spiderman is a dangerous mutant).

(13) CHRISTMAS GOAT. Hampus Eckerman says, “Sometimes you have to go to the foreign press to understand why the Gävle goat is burned down every year. The Guardian has its own theory, totally new for me.” — “Killing Gävle – a Swedish city divided by a giant straw Christmas goat”.

Welcome to the small northern Swedish city of Gävle where there’s an annual battle over a 12-metre-high straw effigy of a goat. Local custodians try to protect a giant straw goat from mischievous pagans in a fight for the spirit of Christmas.

Every year since 1966, in the dark days of winter, the business owners pay for a goat to be built in the central square on the first day of advent. For 37 of those 51 years, the goat has been burnt down or damaged by shadowy outsiders, sometimes within a few hours of going up.

In the latest Guardian documentary, Killing Gävle, residents and those who might want to burn the goat explain their hopes and motivations as Christmas approaches and the battle over the goat is fired up once more.

The goat, which pulls Santa’s sleigh, has come to symbolise Christmas in Sweden, drawing people in from the surrounding country. Families bring their children to look in wonder and, the businesses hope, do a bit of shopping while they are there.

But there are other people in the dark forests that surround the city who hold an entirely different view of the goat. They believe in a time before Christianity appeared in Sweden, when people worshipped Norse gods including the goat goddess Heidrun (goddess of enlightenment) and the god of thunder, Thor, who rode around on two goats. Each night he would burn and then eat them, only to wake up the following morning to them having been reborn and able to pull his chariot again….

 

(14) DOPPELGANGER. When they get it right and find one that has nine planets, then we can talk: “NASA’s Kepler finds solar system like ours with eight planets” in USA Today.

Researchers used data from NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler space telescope to discover an eighth planet orbiting a star known as Kepler-90.

The planet, dubbed Kepler-90i, is a hot, rocky planet that orbits its star every 14.4 days, and was found with the help of artificial intelligence, NASA said Thursday. The discovery marks the first solar system to tie with our solar system in the number of planets orbiting one star.

(15) STAY FROSTY. Timothy Cama, in a December 12 article in The Hill called “Emails: Disney annoyed by Obama push to use ‘Frozen’ brand” said that recently unearthed emails showed a 2015 negotiation between the Obama administration and Disney about using Frozen characters to promote warnings about climate change broke down because, according to one Disney executive, “it’s in our culture to tell stories that project optimism and have happy endings.”

Papp’s outreach generated extensive media coverage at the time and attracted mockery and criticism from conservatives who already thought then-President Obama’s climate agenda had gone too far.

The effort to use “Frozen” for climate messaging was part of an extensive plan by the Obama administration to convince Americans and the world that climate change is a major issue with enormous consequences.

(16) OCEANS, NOT CANALS. The BBC considers “Pacific ‘baby island’ is natural lab to study Mars”.

It is one of Earth’s newest landforms and it could just tell us where to look for evidence of life on Mars.

The tongue-twisting volcanic island of Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai exploded out of the Pacific Ocean in 2015, and its shape has been evolving ever since as it has been lashed and bashed by waves.

Scientists are watching this slow erosion very closely.

They think they see the remnants of many such water-birthed islands on the Red Planet.

(17) FORERUNNER. The 60th anniversary of this project recently passed — “Skylark: The unsung hero of British space”.

It wasn’t a big vehicle, and it didn’t go to orbit. But the anniversary of that first flight from Woomera, Australia, should be celebrated because much of what we do in space today has its roots in this particular piece of technology.

“Skylark is an unsung British hero really,” says Doug Millard, space curator at London’s Science Museum.

“The first one was launched during the International Geophysical Year of 1957, and almost 450 were launched over the better part of half a century. It was the Skylark space rocket that really laid the foundations for everything the UK does in space.”

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Slaughterbots” on YouTube is a near-future film warning about the problems of miniature drones trained to kill.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Wesley Crusher: Naming Calls

ST:TNG had just started its second season when Rick Foss and I organized the 1988 Loscon program. Every fan I knew watched the show and had opinions about the assorted minor controversies involving its creator Gene Roddenberry and how the characters were scripted. We expected a panel about Wesley Crusher, the precocious teenaged boy who all too often saved the Enterprise, to be a good draw, and we had excellent writers to use on it.

We also had the prospect of springing a celebrity guest on the panelists – just not the one who actually showed up. Here’s what happened. (From File 770 #78, recently uploaded to Fanac.org)

o0o

The Star Trek-oriented “Solving the Wesley Problem” filled every seat and had fans lining the walls They got a bonus when the actor who plays Wesley unexpectedly dropped in.

The panel began with D.C. Fontana, Joe Straczynski (then known as story editor for the new The Twilight Zone), Sonni Cooper (a Trek novelist), Mel Gilden and Jane Mailander (local writers) and a hoped-for surprise guest – but not the one we got.

As the program began, Bjo Trimble was stationed at the front of the Pasadena Hilton, and John Trimble at the back door, waiting for the arrival of Patrick Stewart, whom a contact at Paramount had supposedly sent our way seeking some word-of-mouth publicity for his Charles Dickens reading scheduled in December.

While I was shuttling between John and Bjo for news of Patrick Stewart, Wil Wheaton, who plays Wesley, materialized in the “Solving the Wesley Problem” audience and virtually took over the panel. As I learned from him the next day, he simply came to Loscon because he likes sf conventions. But Guy Vardaman, his stand-in, looked in the pocket program and told him, “Hey, there’s an ‘I Hate Wesley’ panel; I think you should check it out.”

Wheaton’s gesture to explain the panelists’ changing tone when he arrived was one of extracting foot from mouth. (Actually, the panelists had criticized the series, rather than Wheaton’s acting.) They didn’t know he hadn’t been there for most of it.

Patrick Stewart never did show up, but I like to think of the alternate world where he walked in on the panel after Wil Wheaton had already joined it. What pandemonium!

Before Wheaton’s unexpected appearance, our biggest “star” was going to be Paul Marco, joining the “Plan 9 From Outer Space 30th Anniversary” panel. He played Kelton the cop, and ever since the film came out he’s been working very hard to turn himself into a cult figure, despite the movie’s reputation as the worst film ever made.

Pixel Scroll 11/2/17 Contraterrenean Homesick Blues

(1) LEWIS & CLARKING AROUND. Charles Payseur, in “MAPPING SHORT SF/F: Part 2: Fun Short SFF” at Nerds of a Feather, leads readers through a highly interesting survey of where to find the fun stories in sff.

Fun. For some people, fun evokes childhood and a certain kind of carefree energy. For others, it means something more like excitement and adventure and novelty. Mapping fun short SFF is something of a challenge, not because I cannot point to works that I’d consider fun, but because fun is a weirdly nebulous term that, like most things, I probably define oddly in terms of genre. But, as that what I’m seeking to do in this series, I’ll do my best.

To me, fun as a genre operates a lot like horror does. It’s not so much about elements of world building or how the piece conveys message. It’s not about theme or about any one style. When I say it operates a lot like horror, what I mean is that they both are built around a feeling. Horror as a genre is defined (or at least I define it) by its ability to evoke fear and unease in the reader. Whether the story seeks to do that through gore or violence, or through atmosphere and suspense, doesn’t matter so much, because it’s all horror. Similarly, for a story to be fun, it has to be about evoking an emotion. Instead of fear, though, I’d say that fun is about joy. To me, fun SFF stories are those that seek to make the reader feel joyous. Which, given the times, is both an incredibly difficult and important mission….

(2) URBAN UPHEAVAL. James Davis Nicoll presents: “Twenty Core Speculative Fiction Works Featuring Notable Cities Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves”. The list includes —

(3) PAGES OF RAGE. Cat Rambo is taking submissions for “If This Goes On”

This project is born of rage and sorrow and hope. Rage at the way America has been stolen and how those thieves have been eating away at its infrastructure. Sorrow at the lives being destroyed in the sorrow as well as for the earth as its protections are stripped away by a kleptocratic and corrupt regime. Sorrow for the way words themselves have been distorted and twisted away from truth.

And hope. Because humans continue to progress and evolve, even though that climb is a rocky one and we slide back sometimes. We seem to have done so recently. And so this anthology, an attempt to rally, to inspire, and to awaken. Some stories will despair, but others will have the light we seek, lamps to light the path and show the pitfalls as we continue upwards.

This anthology is part of my resistance. I hope it will be part of yours as well.

The publisher says:

The anthology will contain up to thirty original stories including contributions from Steven Barnes, Andy Duncan, Chris Kluwe, Alexandra Renwick, and E. Lily Yu. Release is planned for 2018 mid-term election season in order to maximize engagement and encourage readers to take the long view when heading to the polls.

(4) ADDITION TO HUGO VOTING HISTORY. Kevin Standlee announces another gap has been filled-in.

We have updated the 1951 Retro-Hugo Award history page by adding the nominating and final ballot statistics for that year.

(5) CAN’T MAKE UP MY MIND. Four days left to answer Adam-Troy Castro’s poll question –

(6) CONSTRUCTION CREW. Jeffe Kennedy tells how she tapped the SFWA Forums for useful help in “Building Worlds with SFWA” at the SFWA Blog.

Still, when I went to self-publish a whole new series, to be safe as possible and avoid any trouble, I wanted it to be very clearly an entirely different world. The “easy” way to do that, I decided, was to give this world two moons. It also fit in thematically with the magic system I had in mind, as well as the partnership between enemies that formed the core of the story.

One big problem: I’m a biologist, not an astrophysicist (or whatever discipline this sort of thing falls under) and I had zero clue how the presence of two moons would affect the world.

So, I asked on the SFWA forums! I did not expect what I got: an immediate, detailed deluge of information from how the moons themselves would look, to their phases and orbits, to their effects on the tides, etc. It was amazing and I used almost all of it. By the end of the series—I’m up to four books now—I might indeed use every bit.

(7) EXTIRPATE! Did you know “Dalek operator” is a job? Or that one of them is unemployed today? And that he issued a little F-you on the way out the door? The Gallifrey Times has the story: “Nicholas Pegg fired after including a cryptic offensive message in DWM”.

Nicholas Pegg is known to fans as one of the main Dalek operators since 2005, but he has also been the man behind the entertaining Wotcha column on the final page of Doctor Who Magazine. But not anymore. It was first pointed out in the Mirror that Pegg, under the pen name The Watcher, left a cryptic message in his column in issue #518 of DWM.

If you take the first letter of every sentence, it spells out: Panini and BBC Worldwide are c*nts.

Panini are the publishers of the magazine, while the BBC distributes the TV series.

There is even a clue at the end, as Pegg himself writes, “If you look hard enough, there is always something hidden in plain sight.”

A BBC Worldwide spokesman told the Mirror:

“The matter was raised with the publisher who has dismissed the writer.”

It was also revealed that Pegg was not expected to be involved in Series 11.

It’s unknown why he included this attack…

(8) ON DISPLAY. In the foyer of San Francisco Airport’s Terminal 2 is a display of famous writers’ typewriters, including the one used by Orson Welles, another belonging to Tennessee Williams, and Ray Bradbury’s own, below. The photographer warns that the exhibit is in the secure area of the terminal, so you can’t casually wander through the airport to see it.

(9) NEXT TREK. Popular Mechanics asked “8 Sci-Fi Writers on Where Star Trek Should Go Next” – Kameron Hurley, Mur Lafferty, Christopher Brown, Rob  Boffard, Genevieve Valentine, Elizabeth Bonesteel, Annalee Newitz, and Charles Yu.

By Mur Lafferty, author of Six Wakes

I’ve always been fascinated by the transporter and the various capabilities it has. The fact that the transporter saves a limited-time backup of every person it transports was only touched on a few times in any of the series. This makes sense; there are too many ways it could be abused as a Deus Ex Machina fix for half the problems they come across in the series. (Oh, Tasha got killed by a black goo? It’s OK, we saved her DNA and can print you a new one right away, Captain!)

Still, putting aside the difficulties surrounding the aging and dead actors, the ultimate Star Trek show would be for a Ferengi-financed hacker to gain access to the transporter traces of every member of every Star Trek show and bring them all back.

The new Star Trek crew would be assigned the many-season rescue of each character from all the other shows. The characters would be mixed up and scattered around the universe. For example, the Klingons would be having gladiatorial battles with Kirk and Picard to finally settle the greatest debate to plague my generation. (Team Picard all the way.)

There would be a side romantic plot with Troi, Worf, every version of Dax, and Alexander living on Risa. Speaking of Alexander, all the kids, Nog, Jake, Alexander, Molly, and young Wesley, could have a Risa-based Stand By Me-kind of adventure. Riker and Bashir could be stranded on an all-male planet where no one is impressed by them. Bones and Data could have an Odd Couple/Buddy Cop kind of adventure. I can see The Doctor, Crusher, Bashir, Pulaski, and Phlox in their own ER-type story.

I could go on, but you get the idea. It’s always a good idea to limit your tech when you make it “oh dear God, that thing is too powerful!” But it’s also a possibility to make a compelling plot about the abuse of said powerful machine when it’s put in the hands of an incompetent, or a villain.

(10) BANGING WITH WHEATON AND NEWHEART. Although I lost interest in Big Bang Theory awhile ago, I may have to watch this episode:

(11) CASH IN POINT. There could be a Twilight Zone reboot coming to CBS All-Access.

CBS has announced a new Twilight Zone anthology series from Get Out director Jordan Peele, over 50 years after the iconic scifi series ended its initial run. This comes about five years after the studio tried and failed to reboot the series with X-Men director Bryan Singer, and in the wake of Bioshock creator Ken Levine’s stalled attempt to revive the franchise as an interactive movie or series. Right now, it’s not clear whether Peele’s show has already been picked up for a series, or if the project is simply in development.

(12) D POTTER OBIT. Bay Area fanzine fan D Potter passed away in her Oakland apartment (probably on October 25) reports Sue Rae Rosenfeld on Facebook.

Fancyclopedia lists the amateur press associations she was active in over the years:

Apa-nu, A Women’s APA, APA-Q, Myriad, Mixed Company (of which he has been OE), Spinoff, MISHAP, ALPS, FAPA, Intercourse. She was a co-founder and OE of ALPS [The Amateur Long-Playing Society.]

She was Fan GoH of Balticon 16 in 1982.

(13) COMICS SECTION

  • Darrah Chavey would never drop a bad pun like “the umpire strikes back,” but I would: it came to mind when I saw his linked installment of Pearls Before Swine.
  • Rich Lynch found a rare Bradbury joke in Mutts!

(14) KSR. Kim Stanley Robinson is interviewed by José Luis de Vicente for CCCBlab: “Angry Optimism in a Drowned World: A Conversation with Kim Stanley Robinson”.

In New York 2140, I wanted sea level rise to be significant enough to make Lower Manhattan like a Venice, to be a kind of giant symbol of the current situation with climate change. For that reason I pushed it out to the year 2140, which is 120 years from now. For reasons of plausibility: it takes that long to get that much of a sea level rise, which is what I wanted for telling my story.

The truth is that we are actually already at that moment of climate change and crisis. The political project that my novel discusses really ought to be enacted now, not 120 years from now. In the real world, what we’ve got is a necessity for our economic system to take damage to the ecosystem into account, and pay for that damage.

The way that we create energy and the way that we move around on this planet both have to be de-carbonized. That has to be, if not profitable, affordable. Humans need to be paid for that work because it’s a rather massive project. It’s not that it’s technologically difficult (we already have the solar panels, the electric cars, we have the technical problems more or less solved in prototype) but the mass deployment of those is a huge human project, equivalent of everybody gathering together to fight World War II. Everybody agrees that, yes, this is important enough that people’s careers, lives, be devoted to the swapping out of the infrastructure and the creation of a de-carbonized, sustainable, physical plan for the rest of civilization.

Well, this isn’t the way capitalism works, as currently configured; this isn’t profitable. The market doesn’t like it. By the market I mean – what I think everybody means, but doesn’t admit – capital, accumulated capital, and where it wants to put itself next. And where it wants to put itself next is at the highest rate of return, so that if it’s a 7% return to invest in vacation homes on the coast of Spain, and it’s only a 6% rate of return to build a new clean power plant out in the empty highlands of Spain, the available capital of this planet will send that money and investment and human work into vacation homes on the coast of Spain rather than the power plants. It’s just the way it is and there is no control over that except for nation-state governments, each one looking at its own responsibility and power and feeling in competition with others, not wanting to lose its differential advantage. So, If Spain were to do a certain amount for its country, but was sacrificing relative to international capital or to other countries, then it would be losing the battle for competitive advantage in the capitalist system.

(15) MARKET NEWS. The submissions window will soon close for Glass & Gardens: Solarpunk Summers:

GLASS & GARDENS: SOLARPUNK SUMMERS

Anthologist: SarenaUlibarri

Open for Submissions: August 15, 2017 – November 15, 2017

Expected Publication: Summer 2018

Story Length: up to 8,000 words

Payment: $0.01 per word + contributor copy Solarpunk is a type of eco-conscious science fiction that imagines an optimistic future founded on renewable energies. It might take place in a wind-powered skyscraper or on a solar-powered robotic farm, in a bustling green-roofed metropolis or in a small but tech-saavy desert village. Often coupled with an art nouveau aesthetic, and always inclusive and diverse, solarpunk stories show the ways we have adapted to climate change, or the ways we have overcome it….

(16) HALLOWEEN LEFTOVERS. Hate to think I almost missed this – let’s start with the intro from Nerdist, “Wayne Brady Sings “Thriller” Like a 1930s Jazz Song”.

The video starts with a nod to Cab Calloway and jumps right into the upbeat cover and ’cause this is “Thiller” (Thriller night!), PMJ even brought on a few tap dancers in order to pay homage to the iconic dance moves from the original video. They even worked in some Charleston moves for good measure. Is it weird that we’d want to see all the dancing in the original video with this era-specific spin?

 

(17) HANGOUT AND LEARN. Cat Rambo announces two upcoming online classes:

Sunday, November 5, 9:30-11:30 AM, Pacific time.

Tell, don’t show. Dump your information. Write in second person. Write in passive voice. Use adverbs. To heck with suspense.

Rules mark what’s difficult, not what’s impossible. There’s a whole range of exciting storytelling possibilities beyond them. Not every story needs to be in second person, but when it’s the right voice for the right story, it can be magic. The right information dump, written perfectly, can become a dazzling gymnastic feat of beauty, fascination, or humor.

Sunday, December 17, 9:30-11:30 AM, Pacific time.

There’s an art to food writing. Anyone who has read a professional restaurant review can tell you that. We react viscerally to descriptions of food. Our mouths water, our minds color with tastes we can almost experience. In fiction, this can be used to enrich world-building, and to further blur the lines between the reader and the text.

Join Cat and award-winning game writer, author, tech journalist Cassandra Khaw for a session where we will discuss food writing, the sensualities of taste, how to incorporate and interpret our understanding of food, and how all this can be used to shape one’s stories.

(18) INDUSTRY ROLE. Here’s a thread on what sensitivity readers actually do.

(19) TO SERVE FAN. John C. Wright has taken up the quest of reading in their order of publication the Conan stories of Robert E Howard. This necessarily (?) required a fling at Damon Knight for belittling Howard in an early 1950s magazine piece (which you can find in the 1956 collection, In Search of Wonder: Essays on Modern Science Fiction).

Here, for example, is a quote from the loathsome Damon Knight. If the reader is surprised I use so harsh a word for this well-known figure in science fiction, please reflect that he is not well known for any creative writing, only for his ludicrous claim to be a critic…

…We need not dwell long here in the chamberpot of Mr. Knight’s performance as a critic. I am content with noting that there is not a word of actual criticism anywhere in the passage. It is merely a stream of insults against Robert E Howard, as everything from unintelligent to maniacal to emotionally crippled to sick, with occasional flippant insults against Mr. Howard’s fans and admirers, not to mention studied insults against other luminaries of the field.

The ”not well known” fiction of Damon Knight includes his frequently-anthologized “To Serve Man,” the basis for a famous episode of The Twilight Zone and a 2001 Retro Hugo winner. His criticism was recognized with a 1956 Hugo for Best Reviewer. Surely someone who has accepted as many Hugo nominations as Wright respects the imprimatur of the Hugo Award. No, really.

(20) BIG MONTH FOR GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Marvel has declared a Thanksgiving feast for Guardians of the Galaxy fans, serving up multiple comics about the team, and Rocket and Groot individually.

Week of 11/6

 

ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1

A NEW ERA OF COSMIC ADVENTURE BEGINS HERE! Double ships every month! The Guardians of the Galaxy have taken off into space once more, on their biggest and weirdest misadventures yet! Kicking things off with the biggest heist they’ve ever tried, we join Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon and company as they blast their way through the galaxy, the peacekeepers of the Nova Corps hot on their tails. And once they find themselves caught in a war between The Collector and The Grandmaster, there will hardly be time to explain why Groot can’t grow any bigger, what Gamora is searching for or why Drax has sworn off violence! But don’t worry, we will — with a new twice-monthly schedule, All-New Guardians of the Galaxy has space for ALL your Marvel Cosmic needs!

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: MISSION BREAKOUT #1

The Collector’s many-worlds-famous collection is opening its doors to the public — and you won’t believe the star attraction. Only the Guardians can break through Taneleer Tivan’s security and BREAK OUT! The Marvel Universe story of Disney’s newest, raddest ride!

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: MOTHER ENTROPY #1

The Guardians owe everyone on Knowhere money, so they’re forced to do a job for the local police. But that gets them running afoul of Pip the Troll and a mysterious entity known only as Mother Entropy. And that’s when the fun begins.

Week of 11/13

ROCKET #1

GET READY FOR A LIFE OF SPACECRIME! It’s a dirty universe out there, even when you’re not regularly mistaken for trash-foraging vermin. And it’s about to get dirtier. He thought his paws were clean, that he was on the up-and-up. But then an old flame swam back into his life, and he was back in the game… the heist game. If you need a safe cracked, a vault busted or a score taken…ask for Rocket. Just don’t call him a raccoon.

Week of 11/27 

I AM GROOT #1

GROOT IN HIS OWN SERIES, SMALLER AND BETTER THAN EVER! When the Guardians of the Galaxy get caught in a wormhole, a smaller-than-normal Groot is separated billions of light-years away from the team. Falling to a planet below, Groot discovers he is on an entirely alien and unknown world full of strange creatures and societies. Seriously underdeveloped and with nobody who can understand him, Groot will need to make the journey to the center of this world and find the way back to his family!

(21) ENTRY LEVEL. TIME Magazine tells “How Much You Can Earn in the Comic Book Industry — From Artist to CEO”.

Marvel and DC Comics are once again facing off in an epic box-office duel this month, with the release of Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League — two superhero films that, of course, have their roots in the comic book industry. Print isn’t dead to this world — the industry makes $800 million-a-year annually and employs tens of thousands to do so.

So how do you get started in this type of career? And more importantly, what does it pay?

Like any career in the arts, you can get started in the industry by going to school to and majoring in something that translates well into this world, like animation, sequential art, or illustration. Marvel artist Irene Strychalski recently told attendees of New York Comic Con she majored in sequential art and minored in animation at Savannah College of Art and Design. Other schools that comic book artists seem to gravitate towards include Ringling College of Art and Design and Rhode Island School of Design. However, if you don’t want the college experience, the Kubert School is a trade school in Dover, N.J. that offers a three-year training program.

I think Vox Day plans on skipping all these steps.

(22) ARCHEOLOGY. “I’m ready for my closeup”: new tech discoveries: “‘Big void’ identified in Khufu’s Great Pyramid at Giza”.

It is not known why the cavity exists or indeed if it holds anything of value because it is not obviously accessible.

Japanese and French scientists made the announcement after two years of study at the famous pyramid complex.

They have been using a technique called muography, which can sense density changes inside large rock structures.

The Great Pyramid, or Khufu’s Pyramid, was constructed during the reign of Pharaoh Khufu between 2509 and 2483 BC.

(NPR also covers, but their diagram isn’t as readable: “Scientists Say They’ve Found Hidden Space In Great Pyramid Of Giza”

(23) THINK NICK FURY. Samuel L. Jackson talks Game of Throne newcomers through the basics as only he can.  “The first thing you need to know about this world is…no, not dragons…**** those dragons!  Focus!”

[Thanks to Mark Hepworth, John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, Stephen Burridge, Carl Slaughter, Cat Rambo, Rich Lynch, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Darrah Chavey, and Tasha Turner for some of these stories,. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Pixel Scroll 9/29/17 Like The Best And Worst Of Typos That Lose Control

(1) TASTING SESSION. James Davis Nicoll feeds his test subjects “Ugly Chickens” by Howard Waldrop at Young People Read Old SFF.

With so many works to choose from, which of Waldrop’s stories to pick? “The Ugly Chickens” seemed like a safe bet; the setting is comfortably mundane and it won both the Nebula and World Fantasy Award, as well as garnering nominations for the Hugo, the Locus and the Balrog. I’ve been wrong before; what did the Young People actually think?

Some say yay. Not Mikayla:

I’m not generally a fan of this style of story anyway, but it didn’t matter because I was pretty much done by the third paragraph.

(2) HOME COOKING. Aaron Pound has launched the “The Ad Astra Cooking Project” at Dreaming About Other Worlds.

I recently acquired Ad Astra: The 50th Anniversary SFWA Cookbook, a collection of recipes from members of the Science Fiction Writers of America edited by Cat Rambo and Fran Wilde. As with all things, I intend to review it, but reviewing a cookbook poses a challenge that most other books do not: There is really no way to accurately review the book based upon reading it. Cookbooks are interactive – you can only appreciate them if you cook the recipes and eat them. So that is exactly what I am going to do….

The book was created to raise funds for the SFWA Legal Fund to support writers in need. The overall theme of the recipes in the book is supposed to be “party”, working on the theory that writers know how to throw a party. A lot of the recipes were solicited for this work, but some were originally collected by Astrid and Greg Bear for a cookbook that was never published. The introductory material includes Connie Willis passing on some excellent cooking advice from Charles Brown, and Carrie Vaughn explaining how to create a cocktail laboratory, including a couple of recipes for some classic cocktails to try. Larry Niven contributes a chapter on how to serve hundreds of cups of Irish Coffee to eager convention-attendees, an essay that is clearly informed by lots of experience….

First out of the oven is — “Ajvar by K.V. Johansen”.

The first recipe in Ad Astra: The 50th Anniversary SFWA Cookbook is one that K.V. Johansen discovered when some of her books were translated into Macedonian and she began traveling to the Republic of Macedonia, presumably to promote her work. Ajvar is an eggplant and bell pepper concoction flavored with garlic, cider vinegar or lemon juice, and hot sauce that can be served as a spread on naan or bread….

(3) CHANGING COLORS OF THE SEASON. It’s time for Petréa Mitchell’s “Fall 2017 SF Anime Preview” at Amazing Stories. Here’s one example of what you have to look forward to –

ClassicaLoid 2

The premise: More surreal comedy about characters patterned on famous composers using musical powers to bend reality. And Antonín Dvo?ák will be a pygmy hippopotamus.

Derivative factor: Sequel

The buzz: The first ClassicaLoid was a surprise hit in Japan, but there’s less enthusiasm about it in English-speaking fandom.

Premiere: October 7

(4) ALL FALL. Meanwhile, back on American TV — “Your Guide To (The Many, Many) Sci-Fi And Fantasy TV Premieres And Returns In October” from Creators.

The Fall season launched in September with over a dozen returns and premieres, but things really kick into gear in October. At current count there are 23 (!) shows returning to the schedule or starting their freshman seasons this month, and that means you have quite a lot of #scifi and #fantasy shows to pick from. Below is a rundown of the October entries and you can see the full Fall schedule here.

 

(5) CLASSIC SF BOUND FOR TV. Deadline has a blast of genre news: “Amazon Developing ‘Ringworld’, ‘Lazarus’ & ‘Snow Crash’ In Genre Series Push”.

Amazon has set up three high-profile drama series for development: Ringworld, based on Larry Niven’s classic science fiction book; Lazarus, based on the comic book by Greg Rucka (Jessica Jones); and Snow Crash, based on Neal Stephenson’s cult novel.

The streaming platform has been ramping up its slate with new projects as part of a programming strategy overhaul in search of big, buzzy shows. A major emphasis has been put on fast-tracking big-scope genre drama series in the mold of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, with Sharon Tal, brought in earlier this year as Head Of Event Series, tasked with spearheading efforts. The deals for Ringworld, Lazarus and Snow Crash are part of that push….

More discussion at the link.

(6) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman beckons his audience to “Ruminate over reindeer with Johanna Sinisalo in Episode 48 of Eating the Fantastic.

Johanna Sinisalo

Joining me this episode was Johanna Sinisalo, who was one of this year’s Worldcon Guests of Honor. Her first novel, Ennen päivänlaskua ei voi (Not Before Sundown) won the Finlandia Prize for Literature in 2000 and the James Tiptree Jr. Memorial award in 2004. Her novel Enkelten vert (Blood of Angels) won the English PEN Award. She was a Nebula Award nominee in 2009 for “Baby Doll.” Her novel Auringon ydin (The Core of the Sun) recently won the 2017 Prometheus Award for Best Novel. She has won the Atorox award for the best Finnish-language SF short story seven times.

We discussed what she learned in advertising that helped her be a better writer, how Moomins helped set her on the path to becoming a creator, why she held off attempting a novel until she had dozens of short stories published, the reason the Donald Duck comics of Carl Barks were some of her greatest inspirations, the circuitous way being an actor eventually led to her writing the science fiction film Iron Sky, and more.

(7) KINGS GO FORTH. Daniel Dern says, “This NPR segment gives a good sense of what the King father/son event I went to was like – some of the readings and the schmoozing, including many of the same points and anecdotes I heard them do in person. (hardly surprisingly).” — “Stephen And Owen King On The Horror Of A World Without Women In ‘Sleeping Beauties’, Author interview by Mary Louise Kelly”, initially on NPR’s Morning Edition.

(8) CAVEAT EMPTOR. These are supposed to be Top 10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Star Trek Discovery. If it turns out you knew them, I don’t know where you go for a refund.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

Chip Hitchcock and John King Tarpinian send this warning about a peril for Filers, in yesterday’s Bizarro.

(10) SAFETY FIRST. John Scalzi’s question elicits a thread of entertaining answers….

(11) HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, WESLEY. Teresa Jusino is giving orders at The Mary Sue: “Star Trek: TNG at 30: Here’s Why Wesley Crusher Was Awesome, So You Just Shut Up.”.

Basically, the moral of so many episodes of TNG was basically Hey adults! Maybe if you’d listen to Wesley instead of telling him to shut up all the time, you might learn something! In “The Naked Now,” the entire Enterprise crew is infected with a Polywater intoxication that makes everyone all primal and horny and totally into their own deepest desires. So, naturally, what’s the oft-ignored Wesley’s deepest desire? (Besides Ashley Judd?) That’s right, he makes himself the Acting Captain of the ship thanks to a doohickey that he made for fun that can replicate Captain Picard’s voice.

And yet, even while under the influence, he’s such a genius that he’s able to figure out how to quickly turn the ship’s tractor beam into a repulsor beam when the adult Chief of Engineering tells him it would be too hard. He uses the repulsor beam to propel the disabled Enterprise away from another ship, narrowly avoiding the fragments of an exploding star that would’ve hit them. This is the kind of thing Wesley Crusher was capable of on a bad day….

(12) THE MONEY KEEPS ROLLING IN. Vox Day’s crowdfunded Alt*Hero raised $37,000 of its $25,000 goal in about a day. Three donations account for $10,000 of the receipts, however, the site reports 426 backers so far.

A new alternative comic series intended to challenge and eventually replace the SJW-converged comics of DC and Marvel.

(13) AVENGERS GO BOOM. But he may not be able to keep pace with Marvel’s effort to replace itself —

It’s the end of an Avengers Era as we know it! And in the team’s final days, a change has come to the Marvel Universe in the form of a story that’s filled with so much action and so much drama, Marvel had no choice but to make it a weekly epic!

Beginning this January, Marvel will unleash the epic AVENGERS: NO SURRENDER with AVENGERS #675, a weekly saga that unites the casts and creative teams of three titles into an epic tale of heroic action, jaw-dropping cliffhangers, and drastic adventures! The AVENGERS, UNCANNY AVENGERS and U.S. AVENGERS come together in a powerhouse of an event that will be unleashed in a story as spectacular and epic as the Marvel Universe itself.

Featuring one of Marvel’s biggest collaborations to date, each issue will be co-written by superstar writers Mark Waid, Al Ewing and Jim Zub with art by Pepe Larraz for the first month, Kim Jacinto for the second month, and Paco Medina for the third month.

(14) REMINDS ME OF HEINLEIN. More dreams: “Elon Musk says rockets will fly people from city to city in minutes”.

Mr Musk made the promise at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide, Australia.

A promotional video says the London-New York journey would take 29 minutes.

Mr Musk told the audience he aimed to start sending people to Mars in 2024. His SpaceX company would begin building the necessary ships to support the mission next year.

He says he is refocusing SpaceX to work on just one type of vehicle – known as the BFR – which could do all of the firm’s current work and interplanetary travel.

(15) SURF’S UP. The BBC reports a journal article: “Tsunami drives species ‘army’ across Pacific to US coast”.

Scientists have detected hundreds of Japanese marine species on US coasts, swept across the Pacific by the deadly 2011 tsunami.

Mussels, starfish and dozens of other creatures great and small travelled across the waters, often on pieces of plastic debris.

Researchers were surprised that so many survived the long crossing, with new species still washing up in 2017.

The study is published in the journal Science.

(16) GENE FIXING. Beyond CRISPR: “DNA surgery on embryos removes disease”.

Precise “chemical surgery” has been performed on human embryos to remove disease in a world first, Chinese researchers have told the BBC.

The team at Sun Yat-sen University used a technique called base editing to correct a single error out of the three billion “letters” of our genetic code.

They altered lab-made embryos to remove the disease beta-thalassemia. The embryos were not implanted.

The team says the approach may one day treat a range of inherited diseases.

(17) DANGER UXB. Neat video: “WW2 bombs blown up at sea in Japan”.
US-made shells have been destroyed in a controlled underwater explosion in Japan.

(18) KILLING GROUND. Real-life source of some “Call of Duty” scenery: “The deadly germ warfare island abandoned by the Soviets”.

That expert was Dave Butler, who ended up going with them. “There was a lot that could have gone wrong,” he says. As a precaution, Butler put the entire team on antibiotics, starting the week before. As a matter of necessity, they wore gas masks with hi-tech air filters, thick rubber boots and full white forensic-style suits, from the moment they arrived.

They weren’t being paranoid. Aerial photographs taken by the CIA in 1962 revealed that while other islands had piers and fish-packing huts, this one had a rifle range, barracks and parade ground. But that wasn’t even the half of it. There were also research buildings, animal pens and an open-air testing site. The island had been turned into a military base of the most dangerous kind: it was a bioweapons testing facility.

(19) THANKS, DONORS. David Steffen’s Long List Anthology is getting longer — “3 Novellas Added! All 3 Print Copies Reward!”

9 days left to go in the campaign, and we’ve reached another stretch goal to add 3 novellas which adds another 58,000 words to the book!  All 3 excellent science fiction stories by S.B. Divya, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Gu Shi with translation by Ken Liu and S. Qiouyi Lu.

I’ve also added a reward level that includes a print and ebook copy of each of the 3 volumes of the anthology for $80–if you’ve already pledged but you’d like print copies of all 3 you can choose to upgrade.

There are still a couple of stretch goals left.  The next one’s just a short hop of $58 from where we are now to add “We Have a Cultural Difference, Can I Taste You” by Rebecca Ann Jordan.  And another $300 beyond that to add one more novella “Hammers on Bone” by Cassandra Khaw.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day IanP.]