Pixel Scroll 4/12/17 Blah, Blah, Blah, Pixels, Blah, Blah, Scroll

(1) FOR THE RECORD. Odyssey Con co-chair Alex Merrill published an official response to the departure of GoH Monica Valentinelli yesterday – filling the void left by Richard S. Russell’s retracted statement with something more socially acceptable.

We, the Convention Committee of Odyssey Con, deeply regret losing Monica as a Guest of Honor, especially in the way the last twenty-four hours have unfolded. Odyssey Con strives to be a warm and welcoming place for all people to express themselves and engage in fandoms. We took a long and hard look at the issue of having Jim Frenkel continue to be a member of our convention committee when he was banned from WisCon in 2012. Our position at that time was to look at our policy on harassment and ensure that any situation that may take place at our convention would be dealt with professionally. We now have an ombudsman, anonymous reporting procedures, and a very detailed policy. There have been no complaints filed against Mr. Frenkel from attendees of Odyssey Con. However, in light of Monica’s email, the following changes have been made: Mr. Frenkel is no longer a member of our ConCom in any capacity, he has no position of authority in the convention proper, and he is not a panelist or lecturer. He has the right to purchase a badge and attend the convention, but as of this writing, I do not know if he is planning to do that.

I personally wish to apologize for the mishandling of our response to Monica’s concerns. It has never been our intent to minimize any guest’s complaints. Odyssey Con is an all volunteer organization staffed by people who have many strengths, but not all of us are great communicators.

I have already reached out to Monica to personally apologize for the email response she received from one of our ConCom members and for the subsequent posting of email chains publicly. This exchange was not an example of Odyssey Con as a whole, which is run by fans, for fans. I hope to have a continued dialogue with you all.

However, the first comment left on the post identified a number of questions that remained unanswered by the statement.

And after K. Tempest Bradford looked over the new response, she shared her reaction in the comments of her blog.

…No matter how much the Internet is mad at your organization, that does not excuse any implication that the person reporting feeling unsafe because a harasser is involved in running the con is at fault here. That’s immature. That’s not professional. That’s yet another indication that guests would not have been treated professionally by OddCon as an organization.

Also an indication that attendees will not be treated in a professional manner.

And being a volunteer run con is not an excuse for that. Yeah, you’re all volunteers, but you’re running an event. People attending said event as fans or guests have the right to expect a certain level of safety and respectful treatment from those running the event. That was not what happened. Now they’re sorry. Yet I still do not see that behavior addressed in a meaningful way in this Sorry….

(2) MARVEL FIRES SYAF. Marvel pencil artist Ardian Syaf, who inserted anti-Semitic and anti-Christian political references into his work on X-Men Gold has now been officially terminated.

Over the weekend, Marvel released a statement that it had been unaware of the references, and they would remove the artwork from all upcoming versions of the issue.

The company’s follow-up statement, quoted in Paste Magazine, says:

Marvel has terminated Ardian Syaf’s contract effective immediately. X-Men: Gold #2 and #3 featuring his work have already been sent to the printer and will continue to ship bi-weekly.

Issues #4, #5, and #6 will be drawn by R. B. Silva and issues #7, #8, and #9 will be drawn by Ken Lashley. A permanent replacement artist will be assigned to X-Men: Gold in the coming weeks.

Syaf wrote on his Facebook page:

Hello, Worlds…

My career is over now.

It’s the consequence what I did, and I take it.

Please no more mockery, debat, no more hate. I hope all in peace.

In this last chance, I want to tell you the true meaning of the numbers, 212 and QS 5:51. It is number of JUSTICE. It is number of LOVE. My love to Holy Qur’an…my love to the last prophet, the Messenger…my love to ALLAH, The One God.

My apologize for all the noise. Good bye, May God bless you all. I love all of you.

Ardian Syaf

However, Coconuts warns that statement should not be confused with Syaf actually regretting his actions.

…In an interview about the controversy with local newspaper Jawa Pos published today, Ardian explained why he thought that Marvel could not accept his explanation for including the references.

’But Marvel is owned by Disney. When Jews are offended, there is no mercy,” he was quoted as saying.

After making the anti-Semitic remark, Ardian reiterated to the interviewer that he was not anti-Semitic or anti-Christian because, if he was, he wouldn’t have worked for a foreign publisher.

(3) WHITE AWARD DELAYED. The British Science Fiction Association has postponed the date for revealing the winner of the James White Award:

With apologies to those who have entered this year’s competition, we are sorry to announce that the announcement of this year’s James White Award winner has been delayed.

The longlist will announced shortly after Easter and the shortlist shortly after that. We are working to complete the judging as quickly as possible.

We intend to announce the winner by Friday, 19 May at the latest.

(4) SFWA STORYBUNDLE. Cat Rambo has unveiled The SFWA Science Fiction Storybundle.

The SFWA Science Fiction Bundle is a very special collection full of great sci-fi books that benefit a great cause! If you’re unfamiliar with the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, it’s over 50 years old, and has a membership of professional writers and publishing professionals from around the globe. It administers the Nebula Awards each year. This bundle is filled with talented SFWA members and their wonderful works, such as Tech Heaven by Locus-award-winning Linda Nagata and Factoring Humanity by Hugo, Nebula and John W. Campbell Memorial Award winning Robert J. Sawyer, plus 10 more tremendous reads. You can easily choose to donate part of your purchase to the Science Fiction Fantasy Writers of America to support these fantastic authors. Don’t forget to click here to read much more about the bundle, and make sure to click on each cover for reviews, a preview and a personal note from our curator!

It has another 22 days to run.

(5) DISTRACTIONS. With so much happening in 1962, Galactic Journey’s Victoria Silverwolf finds it hard to concentrate on her reading — “[April 12, 1962] Don’t Bug Me (May 1962 Fantastic).

Maybe it’s because it’s almost time to mail in those tax forms to Uncle Sam, or maybe it’s because of the tension between President Kennedy and the steel companies, or maybe it’s because Jack Parr left his television series (which will now be known by the boring, generic title The Tonight Show), or maybe it’s because the constant radio play of the smash hit Johnny Angel by actress Shelley Fabares of The Donna Reed Show is driving me out of my mind, or maybe it’s because of George Schelling’s B movie cover art for the May 1962 issue of Fantastic; but for whatever reason your faithful correspondent approached the contents of the magazine with a leery eye….

(6) TIPTREE. There will be a Tiptree Auction at WisCon 41 on Saturday, May 27.

Can’t get enough Tiptree fun on Facebook? Are you curious about Tiptree auctions? Fan of Sumana Harihareswara? Want to support science fiction that explores and expands gender? Want to roar with laughter? There are dozens of possible reasons to go to the Tiptree Auction at WisCon 41.

(7) APEX REPRINTS EDITOR. Apex Magazine is bringing aboard Maurice Broaddus as reprints editor. The magazine publishes one reprint in each issue, and he will be responsible for finding those reprints beginning with issue 98, July 2017.

Maurice Broaddus and Apex Publications have a long history together going back 10 years. He has been published in several of our anthologies, including most recently in Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling edited by Monica Vallentinelli and Jaym Gates. He has also had several books published through Apex, including Orgy of Souls (co-written by Wrath James White), I Can Transform You, and the anthologies Dark Faith and Dark Faith: Invocations which he co-edited with Jerry Gordon. Most recently, Maurice Broaddus guest edited an issue of Apex Magazine—issue 95 (http://www.apex-magazine.com/issue-95-april-2017/) , which included original fiction by Walter Mosley, Chesya Burke, Sheree Renee Thomas, and Kendra Fortmeyer, poetry by Linda D. Addison and LH Moore, and nonfiction by Tanya C. DePass.

(8) NEW COLUMNIST. Galaxy’s Edge magazine has a new columnist, Robert J. Sawyer. He’ll replace Barry N. Malzberg starting with issue 27.

Robert J. Sawyer, author of the bestselling novel Quantum Night, has agreed to write a regular column for Galaxy’s Edge magazine. Robert is currently one of the foremost science fiction authors in the field and one of Canada’s top writers. He was admitted into The Order of Canada (one of the country’s highest civilian honors) in 2016. His novels have won more awards than any other person in the history of the genre (as per the Locus index for science fiction awards) from countries around the world.

(9) SINISALO. At Europa SF, Cristin Tamas conducts a lengthy interview with 2017 Worldcon GoH Johanna Sinisalo.

Cristian Tamas : Johanna Sinisalo seems to have emerged, along with Leena Krohn and Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen, as a central figure in the ‘‘Finnish Weird’’, which like many such movements may be a coincidence, a plot, or even, as Sinisalo herself said in her introduction to last year’s Finnish Weird anthology, simply a ‘‘brand.’’ In any case, it seems to carry with it a celebratory feeling of having just rediscovered the possibilities of nonrealistic fiction, even as some of its major works come with pretty grim premises.” – Gary K.Wolfe ; Please comment !

Johanna Sinisalo : Finnish Weird is basically a term invented for commercial uses, based on the fact that most of the Finnish Weird writers do not want to be pigeonholed as fantasy or sf or horror writers. Words like “nonrealistic” or “speculative fiction” are relatively strange to the wider audiences, so we came up with this kind of definition that could perhaps be compared to the commercial term “Nordic Noir”. Analogically, the Scandinavian crime writers have not “rediscovered the possibilities of crime fiction”, but the term Nordic Noir tells the reader that those books are a part of a certain literary tradition (and in many cases it is also considered as a sign of high quality).

Cristian Tamas : Isn’it weird that the oldest (beginning of the 13th century) known document in any Finnic language, the Birch Bark Letter no.292 is written in Cyrillic alphabet in the Karelian dialect of the archaic Finnish (or Finnic language) and it was found in 1957 by a Soviet expedition led by Artemiy Artsikhovsky in the Nerevsky excavation on the left coast side of Novgorod, Russia ? Is this an avant-la-lettre sample of Finnish Weird ?

Johanna Sinisalo: It is an interesting document. As far as I know the only words in that letter that the scholars totally agree upon are “God” and “arrow”, and the most popular theory is that the the text is a spell or prayer protecting from lightnings, saying “Jumaliennuoli on nimezhi”, roughly ”You are / will be called as the Arrow of Gods”. Perhaps it forecasts that we Finnish Weird writers are lightnings of the literary gods?

(10) TODAY’S DAY

Bookmobile Day

Bookmobile Day is an opportunity to celebrate one of the many services offered through public libraries. Originating in the nineteenth century, the earliest bookmobiles were horse-drawn wagons filled with boxes of books. In the 1920s, Sarah Byrd Askew, a New Jersey librarian, thought reading and literacy so important that she delivered books to rural readers in her own Ford Model T. And today, Kenya still uses camels to deliver materials to fans of reading in rural areas.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 12, 1981 — Space shuttle Columbia first launched.

(12) COMIC SECTION. A horrible pun and a funny gag – John King Tarpinian recommends today’s Brevity.

(13) HATERS. John Scalzi, the midst of his annual Reader Request Week, takes up the subject of “Haters and How I Deal With Them”. This section of his post is from a list of “things I know about haters, and how they relate to me.”

Fourth, I’ve come to realize that some people are using hating me primarily as a transactional enterprise; they see some personal business advantage to holding me up as someone to be hated, and doing so allows them to, say, peddle to the gullible and strident wares that they might not otherwise be able to profitably market. To this respect the hating isn’t actually about me — if I didn’t exist, they’d just pick someone else who suited their needs. That being the case, why get worked up about it? Especially if it’s not having any noticeable effect on my own personal or professional fortunes.

(14) MEANWHILE BACK AT THE RANCH. Quite coincidentally, Vox Day put up a post titled “This is what ‘Zero Fucks’ looks like” that’s all about….would you like to guess?

(15) LIBRARIANS LIKE IT. Library Journal gives its take on the 2017 Hugo ballot in “Quality and Diversity”

After a contentious two years owing to the Sad/Rapid Puppies dispute, last week’s announcement of the 2017 Hugo Award nominees was received with acclaim. Library Journal sf columnist Megan McArdle, noting that the puppies appeared to have lost their fangs, was thrilled by the lists. “The fact that so many women are represented (and trans women! and women of color!), just shows that diversity is actually valued by the majority of SFF fans, which is great to see after so much drama in past years.” She was also excited to see a couple of her favorites—Charlie Jane Anders’s All the Birds in the Sky and Becky Chambers’s A Closed and Common Orbit—make the list.

Co-columnist Kristi Chadwick was equally excited by the nominations, which are voted on by attendees of the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) and paying members of the World Science Fiction Society. “I am a big squeeing girlfan of Seanan McGuire, and I think Every Heart a Doorway has given fantastical tropes a way to bend sideways. Then I see N.K. Jesmin, Charlie Jane Anders, and [Lois McMaster] Bujold? Amazing stories that never cross our desks? The editors, movies and everything else that makes this genre amazing? I am so thrilled with the wealth of knowledge and imagination available to readers today.”

(16) A VISIT TO DYSTOPIA. Nerds of a Feather continues its series on Dystopian Visions. Here are excerpts from two of the major critical essays. And the link will also lead you to innumerable posts about individual books and films with dystopian themes.

What marked Utopia out from these fantasies of plenty was that it could be reached, and reached in two ways. Reached physically: there was a long, arduous but supposedly practicable journey that could get you from here to there. It was a journey beyond the abilities and wishes of most people, but the idea was established that perfection did not exist only in dreams or upon death, but here in the everyday world we all inhabited. And it could be reached structurally: this perfection was not the province of god or of fairies or some supernatural inversion of the natural world, this perfection was achieved by rational men. If a safe, secure, happy existence could be achieved by sensible human organisation in Utopia, then sensible, rational men could achieve the same here.

No, I don’t think science fiction’s exploration of dystopian presents and futures has been instrumental in bringing on twenty-first century dystopia, but the genre as a whole does bear some small responsibility for our comfort with what we should be deeply uncomfortable with…

Three science fiction novels spring to mind as examples, published in 2011, 2013 and 2014. One was by a highly-regarded genre writer, who has spent the last twenty years writing fiction not actually published as science fiction. Another was written by a successful British author of space operas. The earliest of the three is also a space opera, the first in a series of, to date, six novels, which was adapted for television in 2014.

…The three books are: The Peripheral by William Gibson, published in 2014, Leviathan Wakes by James SA Corey, published in 2011, and Marauder by Gary Gibson, published in 2013.

Since its beginnings, science fiction has exhibited a blithe disregard for the characters who people its stories, outside those of the central cast of heroes, anti-heroes, villains, love interests, etc. Frank Herbert’s Dune from 1965, for instance, describes how Paul Muad’Dib launches a jihad across the galaxy which kills billions. EE ‘Doc’ Smith’s Second Stage Lensman, originally serialised in 1941, opens with a space battle between a fleet of over one million giant warships and an equal number of “mobile planets”… Manipulating scale to evoke sense of wonder is one thing, but the lack of affect with which science fiction stories and novels massacre vast numbers of people, for whatever narrative reason, is more astonishing.

(17) DO YOU? I had to answer “No.”

(18) EXOTIC GAME. Review of Simon Stålenhags RPG Tales from The Loop at Geek & Sundry — “Tales from the Loop Invites You to Roleplay in the ‘80s That Never Was”.

Tales from the Loop takes place in a retro-futuristic version of the 80’s where Cold War Era science brought us hover-vehicles, robots, and other advancements that pepper this light sci-fi landscape. It’s an idyllic time. Kids are free to roam after dark. The same children who have grown up around robots and Magnetrine Vehicles geek out over Dungeons & Dragons and Atari systems. There are problems, but the future is hopeful.

If this whole setting sounds like a sci-fi version of Stranger Things you wouldn’t be far off. If that’s what it takes to get you to crack into this portal into a future past then by all means: it’s a sci-fi version of Stranger Things. But in reality it captures more of the feeling of E.T. or The Goonies. Mike, Dustin, and Lucas were able to get help from Joyce and Sheriff Hopper. In Tales from the Loop the focus is squarely on the trials, challenges, and successes of the kids. One of the 6 Principles of the game right in the book is that “Adults Are Out of Reach and Out of Touch”, and if your character ever turns 16 years old, they age out of the campaign

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Marc Criley for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W, who will be awarded a Nobel Prize for his discovery of the basic Scroll title DNA.]

The Lemonade Award

Nalo Hopkinson announced at WisCon 40 she is creating the Lemonade Award for kindness and positive change in science fiction.

Strange Horizons has more about her plans:

There are many people who do good in this field, who perform small and large actions of kindness and welcome every day. I’d like to encourage more of that.

I’m starting an award, an annual kindness award to recognize five people and groups who in the previous year have done something that makes positive change in science fiction community. It might take the form of printed certificates, awarded and announced with little pomp or ceremony; perhaps via a press release. There need not be a monetary award, but it’d be nice to give the recipients a tangible token of recognition. Should enough people commit to donating a few dollars every year, such that there is an annual pot of $2,000, that would be enough for five monetary awards of $300 each, with $500 left over for administration. $3,000 per year would be enough for each recipient to receive in addition a physical award.

Sherryl Vint, of the Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Programme at the University of California Riverside, will manage the nomination/adjudication process. Hopkinson will do fundraising.

Follow the Lemonade Award on Twitter.

Cash donations can be sent via the Speculative Literature Foundation, following Hopkinson’s instructions:

(a) Email a note to lemonadeaward@gmail.com, informing us how much you’re donating. Don’t skip this step. It’s the only way the Spec Lit Foundation will know that the donation is for us, not them.

(b) You can donate via cheque (make it out to SLF) or PayPal (preferred). Donation information is on this page: http://speculativeliterature.org/donation-info/

Offers of help can be emailed to lemonadeaward@gmail.com.

[Thanks to Gregory N. Hullender for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 6/7/16 Pixel Sally, Guess You Better Scroll That Pixel Down

(1) THE WAY TO LIVE IN FANDOM. In “A few post-Wiscon thoughts on being an ally” Sigrid Ellis covers several topics, and this segment speaks to fans far beyond the environs of WisCon.

Here’s the thing: if the fates are kind, all of us will one day be old in fandom. Two, three, four generations will pile in after us, building on what we have fostered. We, too, will be pushed to the margins and passed by.

Yet my heart and head are with the youth. With the future. I cannot bring myself to condemn change that spreads power among more people. I cannot argue against hearing more people tell their own stories. I cannot stand against representation, inclusion.

And yet, and yet, and yet …

What I want, what a crave, is for people to LISTEN to each other. To empathize. I want the young’ns to thank those who came before for their victories, however incremental. I want the founders and established folks to respect the anger and impatient demands for change. I want the next generation to not throw out everything just because it was done before. I want the previous generation to avoid “because we always do it this way” as a reason.

When I hear some Old Fart say something dismissive and intolerant, I wince. I want to prevent my respected elders from showing their ass in public, I want to cover for them, I want to protect them from being overheard.

When I hear some Young Turk calling to burn it all to the ground and start again, I wince. I want to run interference, I want to soften their demands, I want to compromise and meet them halfway.

(2) WHAT IT’S ABOUT. In a piece for Bloomberg, “’Star Wars’ Is Really About Feminism. And Jefferson. And Jesus”,  Cass Sunstein has excerpts from his book The World According to Star Wars.

….Like a great novel or poem, Star Wars doesn’t tell you what to think. You can understand it in different, even contradictory ways. Here are six of those ways.

Feminism

From the feminist point of view, is Star Wars awful and kind of embarrassing, or actually terrific and inspiring? No one can doubt that “The Force Awakens” strikes a strong blow for sex equality: Rey is the unambiguous hero (the new Luke!), and she gets to kick some Dark Side butt. Just look at the expression on her face when she has a go at Kylo Ren.

By contrast, the original trilogy and the prequels are easily taken as male fantasies about both men and women. The tough guys? The guys. When you feel the Force, you get stronger, and you get to choke people, and you can shoot or kill them, preferably with a lightsaber (which looks, well, more than a little phallic — the longer, the better).

But there’s another view. Leia is the leader of the rebellion. She’s a terrific fighter, and she knows what she’s doing. She’s brave, and she’s tough, and she’s good with a gun. By contrast, the men are a bit clueless. She does wear a skimpy costume, and she gets enslaved, kind of, by Jabba the Hutt. But isn’t everything redeemed, because she gets to strangle her captor with the very chain with which he bound her? Isn’t that the real redemption scene in the series?

(3) SISMAN OBIT. Publisher and novelist Robyn Sisman (1955-2016) died May 20 of cancer reports The Bookseller.

She began her career in publishing at Oxford University Press where she worked her way up to become an editor.

She later became an editorial director at J M Dent and created two publishing imprints – Everyman Fiction, a list of contemporary fiction; and a classic crime line, which included writers such as Nicholas Blake (Cecil Day-Lewis), Margery Allingham, and Kingsley Amis.

Malcolm Edwards believes she commissioned the first Interzone anthology at Dent.

Sisman then joined Hutchinson, part of the Random House group, via a stint at the newly established UK arm of Simon & Schuster.

She oversaw publication of Robert Harris’ wartime novel Fatherland, but also such books as Kim Newman’s The Night Mayor and Brian Stableford’s Empire of Fear brought to her attention by an sf advisor.

Sisman’s career as a writer began with her debut novel, Special Relationship, published in 1995 by Heinemann. She wrote five other romantic comedies, Just Friends (Penguin), Perfect Strangers (Penguin), Weekend in Paris (Penguin), A Hollywood Ending (Orion) and The Perfect Couple? (Orion).

She was married to author Adam Sisman.

(4) TOP DRONE. I don’t know what Luke will go shooting womp-rats with now – “The U.S. Air Force May Have Just Built Its Last Fighter Jet” reports The Daily Beast.

In the direst scenario, Air Force fighters simply won’t survive over enemy territory long enough to make any difference during a major war. In that case, the penetrating counterair system, or PCA, might not be a fighter jet as we currently understand it.

Instead, it could be a radar-evading drone whose main job is to slip undetected into enemy air space and use sophisticated sensors to detect enemy planes—and then pass that targeting data via satellite back to other U.S. forces. “A node in the network,” is how the strategy document describes the penetrating system’s main job.

The Air Force could start work on the penetrating counterair system in 2017, according to the new air-superiority plan. The document proposes that this possible stealth drone could team up with an “arsenal plane”—an old bomber or transport plane modified to carry potentially hundreds of long-range missiles

(5) AERIAL SNACKAGE. Richard Foss was up early to guest on a TV show called Food: Fact or Fiction and wrote a great post about his experiences.

One segment was about the history of food aboard commercial aircraft, the other about food in space, and each had their humorous moments. As part of one I had to eat some airline peanuts, and unfortunately they had brought the sweet kind that I detest. I managed to fake enjoyment when the camera was on, but must have made an interesting face as soon as it stopped, because the cameraman asked if I was choking. When I told him the situation, he complimented me on my acting, because he had thought I loved peanuts as long as the camera was on. The annoying part? They had to shoot the scene three times, so I ate a whole bag of the nasty things.

(6) UP THE AMAZON. John Scalzi delivered “A Tweet Spree on Amazon Authors and Envy” — 17 tweets and a kitten picture. Here’s number 6.

(7) AUGUST BRADBURY SHINDIG. Steven Paul Leiva signal boosted a call for submissions for this summer’s Ray Bradbury Read in LA.

On August 22, 2016, in celebration of the ninety-sixth anniversary of the birth of American and Angeleno literary great Ray Bradbury, the Ray Bradbury Read will take place in downtown Los Angeles from twelve noon to three p.m.

The Ray Bradbury Read will feature three hours of short readings from the works of Ray Bradbury; from his short stories, novels, poems, and essays…

The readers of Bradbury’s work will be members of the public selected by the process described below. There will also be guest celebrity readers….

To be considered as a reader you must submit a proposal for a reading of a five-minute-or-under excerpt from one of Bradbury’s many works. The excerpt can come from any of Ray’s published prose and verse writings and should have a central theme, coherence, and completeness about it. More than one excerpt or poem can be read, as long as their reading time does not exceed five minutes. Excerpts from plays and screenplays will not be accepted.

Ray Bradbury Read 8 22

(8) WALK THROUGH MGM. Marc Scott Zicree, Mr. Sci-Fi, visits the former MGM, where Twilight Zone was shot.

(9) DO ANYTHING ELSE IF YOU CAN. William F. Nolan wrote on Facebook:

A major misconception: that all famous, successful writers find it easy to bring in vast amounts of money and have always enjoyed big bucks, right from the start of their fabled careers. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Stephen King had his phone cut off for non-payment and had to use a gas station phone to receive calls while sweating for low pay in an industrial laundry. Ray Bradbury lived on tomato soup for years as his stories were rejected. Charles Beaumont had to hock his typewriter for food. Richard Matheson nearly starved trying to live on random, penny-a-word sales. Just a few examples from many. It takes talent, hard work and a LOT of years to “make it big” as a writer. And most writers never do. A tough game, people. Very, very tough indeed. Write if you must — but ONLY if you must.

(10) NOT A STRANGER. ScienceFiction.com shares “Strange Opinion: Bob Gale Of ‘Back To The Future’ Is Not Happy About ‘Doctor Strange’”.

In a recent interview with MoviePilot, Bob Gale let his opinion be known about Marvel’s upcoming ‘Doctor Strange’ movie, a film that he is not looking forward to. While you might think “Who the hell is Bob Gale?” and “Why does his opinion matter on this?” let me tell you, I had similar thoughts. I knew he was a writer/producer on the ‘Back to the Future‘ movies back in the 80?s (and has done little else since, except for ‘Back to the Future’ video games and promos, and the ride at Universal Studios), and I thought it was very strange that years later the man would pop up again with comments on a Marvel movie. However, Bob Gale having an opinion on the matter is not as strange as I originally thought, as it turns out that back in the 80s (at the height of his relevancy) the man wrote a screenplay for ‘Doctor Strange,’ which unfortunately never got made. Apparently Bob Gale is a huge ‘Doctor Strange’ fan and an expert on the character, which is why he tried to get his movie made, and also why he feels so strongly about Marvel’s upcoming film featuring the character.

Of course I’d listen to Bob Gale’s opinion. He majored in film at USC. More important, that’s how he happened to take me (a fellow USC student) to the first LASFS event I ever attended, the club’s 1970 anniversary dinner, where Harlan Ellison read aloud “Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World.” He can say anything he likes about Doctor Strange as far as I’m concerned. 😉

(11) FANTASY TOURISM. The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog has “Rough Guides to Getting Around Single-Climate Planets”.

Ursa Beta Minor (The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, by Douglas Adams) Introduction: The Pleasure Planet Ursa Beta Minor was designed, manufactured, and terraformed to be the ultimate vacation destination. The planet is comprised completely of warm oceans and thin strips of beach front. It is always Saturday afternoon, and the bars are always open. In fact, as you read this, you’re wondering why anyone would travel to any other single-climate planet, and frankly we have to agree with you.

Where to Go: Aside from the beaches and the bars, there is only one other destination: Light City, the capital city. While in Light City, visit the headquarters of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which will be very disappointing, but afterwards you can stroll down Life Boulevard and walk past the shops that literally no one is wealthy enough to afford.

Getting There and Getting Around: You’ll need a ship equipped with some sort of Infinite Improbability Drive, or at least a Bistromatic Drive. Once in orbit, you can only arrive by air, as the owners really want you to see Light City from up there, or else the whole trip is a waste.

(12) APPERTAIN YOURSELF A LIBATION. Stoic Cynic in a comment:

Apropos of nothing in this thread (yet), and with apologies to Johnny Mandel, Mike Altman, the cast of MASH, and various posters toasting world peace:

Through early morning fog I see
Another troll post on the screen
Their words that are meant to rile me
I realize and I can see

That scrolling past is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it
If I please

Games of trolls are a loss to play
Not gonna feed it today
That losing card I’ll some day lay
But right now though I have to say

That scrolling past is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it
If I please

Their words are time we’ll not see again
It doesn’t hurt when it begins
But engage and get all drawn in
The loss grows stronger, watch it grin

Scrolling past is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it
If I please

Sea Lions once demanded me
To answer questions they thought key
Is it to be, or not to be?
And I replied, oh why ask me?

Scrolling past is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it
If I please

And you can do the same thing
If you please

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Stoic Cynic, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]

Pixel Scroll 6/4/16 Later on We’ll Scrollspire, as We Dream by the Fire

(1) SUPERHERO CONSUMER REPORT. The Verge warns “Thanos’ almighty Infinity Gauntlet defeated by above-average oven heat”.

The most powerful weapon in the universe has a weakness: it cannot withstand the necessary heat to remove a cast iron pizza pan once warmed to 400-plus degrees. Reports of the weapon’s fragility have been making the rounds by way of Loot Crate, which shipped an Infinity Gauntlet oven mitt to subscribers in its May product bundle. Following many failed attempts to hold hot objects and presumably eradicate Marvel superheroes, the device has been dubbed defective.

 

(2) RUNAWAY MIND MELD. When SF Signal closed, a couple of people were still at work on installments of its popular “Mind Meld” feature. James Aquilone has now posted the one he was curating, that asks participants the question:

Q: What are your favorite visions of the future in the SF genre?

Answers come from Sean Williams, Stewart Baker, Stephen Merlino, Matt Dovey, John Lasser and Christoph Weber, all published in the latest Writers of the Future anthology.

(3) FEELING BETTER? While the SF Signal blog is shuttered, somebody (John DeNardo?) is still issuing regular news tweets from the SF Signal Twitter account.

(4) CAPTAIN MY CAPTAIN. Tom Smith’s protest filk “Just A Kid From Brooklyn” – a $1 download.

…You’ve heard about his shield, to keep him safe from harm,
And how he used it like it was an extension of his arm,
You’ve heard about his buddies, and how some paid the cost,
The woman that he loved, the childhood friend he lost.

But most of all, you’ve heard about the man behind the mask,
How fighting for our freedom was his most important task,
Sometimes it was a rescue, sometimes it was a fight,
But sometimes it was just his words and knowing he was right

And now you tell me… he’s a Nazi
You want to prove the best of us can end up like the rest of us
You’ve undone his whole purpose, and then shoved him off a ledge,
And tell us it’s so bold of you, how it’s oh so cutting edge….

(5) THE I-FILES. Gillian Anderson has a new gig says Variety, having been cast in Starz’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

Anderson will play Media, the mouthpiece for the New Gods, functioning as their public face and sales representative, by taking the form of various iconic celebrities. She lives off the attention and worship that people give to screens — to their laptops, their TVs, to their iPhones in their hands while they watch their TVs. Ever the perky spokesperson, and always in control, she spins stories in whatever direction best suits her.

(6) PEACE BLIND YOUR WEAPONS. Police have warned those attending Armageddon 2016 in Wellington this weekend to cover their fake weapons to avoid public panic. The New Zealand Herald has the story.

Many of those attending the expo, which has been dubbed the Wellington Geek Event, arrive dressed in costumes which may include accessories such as fake weapons. While they were fake, they looked real, police warned this evening.

“Those attending the festival are asked that they be careful when they are walking to and from the events around Wellington and that they carry these ‘weapons’ with care so as not to scare members of the public.”…

Police had already today been called to Porirua after a man travelling to the expo was seen carrying a fake weapon.

(7) RALPH OBIT. SF Site News reports Patrick Ralph passed away.

Illinois fan Patrick “PJ” Ralph died on June 2 following a battle with cancer. Ralph was an active and was currently developing a game for market with some friends. He was part of the “Bermuda Triangle” hoax Worldcon bid for the 1988 Worldcon, which took second in a field of four.

(8) G.O.A.T. John Scalzi, who at age 8 knew Muhammad Ali was “The Greatest of All Time”, at age 47 has a far deeper appreciation why it was true.

But — and this is the second thing — you cannot love or honor Ali properly without acknowledging that blackness and Islam are at the core of his greatness. It seems to me, and I think the events of his life bear this out, that the greatness of Ali — who he was — was did not come out to you, was not there for you, and in a fundamental way did not care what you thought of it. It was there, and you could come to it or not, and if you did, you had to take it on its on terms. On Ali’s terms. And Ali’s terms were: He was a black man, in America and in the world. He was a Muslim man, in America and in the world. He was who he was. He did not have to transcend those things about himself. You, however, might have to overcome your understanding of what you thought of both blackness and Islam to appreciate him. People did or did not; Ali went on regardless.

(9) WHEN JIM BURNS MET ALI. Jim Burns posted this memory of meeting the champ in person:

AliSupermanI’ll always be grateful that I got to meet Muhammad Ali when he was still in the full height of all his many powers. The occasion was an odd one–a 1978 press party at the Warner Communications building on Fifth Avenue, heralding Superman Vs Muhammad Ali, a special edition “deluxe” comic book volume that DC Comics produced (in which aliens compel the two titans to tussle, “to save the Earth”).

(10) CARTOON SECTION. Today’s Close To Home by John McPherson concerns a hellish to-do list.

(11) MIKKI KENDALL. Tasha Turner pointed to Mikki Kendall’s “WisCon 40 Highs, Lows & What The Actual F*ck?”. Now I think I can see what was behind that committee tweet I wondered about.

That brings me to the “WTAF?” part of this post. We’re going to start with the Con Suite. Because I made the actual beef for it, and because it is an exceptionally glaring example of an overarching problem. Time & time again I saw people come in, take umbrage that a place staffed by volunteers serving free food had imperfect service. Not dangerous service, not unhealthy (AFAIK no one got food poisoning which I did from a place where I actually paid for the food), just imperfect. Because a delivery didn’t show up on time the menus had to be shifted around. Because two of the aging fridges went out food was in shorter supply than expected. Because there weren’t enough volunteers actually willing to show up & work when scheduled some things took longer than expected. You know..normal things that can go wrong at any event.

Now, there are a lot of theories about the entitled attitudes on display from some con attendees. Some of it was definitely about race & gender (funnily enough all the Black women serving in the con suite that I know have similar stories about rudeness despite being there on different days, I didn’t get a chance to check in with other POC, but I have some guesses based off stories relayed to me), some of it was about bizarre expectations and a total lack of home training (possibly related to reason #1) but at base none of it was okay. Here is where I remind you that Julia, the con suite chair pays for a flight & hotel from Boston to Madison to spend an entire weekend volunteering. To feed hundreds of strangers three meals and unlimited snacks every day. Here is where I remind you that con suite staff are all volunteers. Here is where I ask you why a con that prides itself on being at a union hotel can’t remember to treat volunteers like people.

(12) THE PERPETUAL CAMPAIGN. The BBC’s roundup of electoral futurism starts with the spectre of a holographic Trump campaigning in 20 places at once.

Then it moves on to a candidate with a strongly science-fictional view of the future.

Forty-foot coffin

“Why not?” offers Zoltan Istvan, an US independent presidential candidate who identifies as a futurist and transhumanist.

“Many other jobs are being replaced by robots. Why not our leaders?

“We’re about 10-15 years from having a machine that’s as smart as anyone in this room. It might make sense at some point to have a machine lead us.”

I met Istvan this week at the Augmented World Expo in Santa Clara, a gathering of companies working on augmented, virtual and mixed reality technology.

He certainly stood out. First, he’s built like an action figure. Second, he wants to live forever (that’s the transhumanist part). His presidential campaign is built around calls to fund further science that will – the movement hopes – one day make immortality a reality.

He, of course, is not going to become the next president. But that’s not the point. His campaign is designed to bring attention to his call for the US to put more money into research. This publicity drive is enhanced by his campaign bus – a 40-foot long coffin on wheels.

(13) CLICKBAIT. Tickld’s “30 Things You Probably Missed in Star Wars: The Force Awakens” are on 30 different pages, so a lot depends on how irresistible you find this kind of lure.

(14) BILLBOARD PROTESTED. Yahoo! reports “Rose McGowan is speaking out against a billboard of Jennifer Lawrence in ‘X-Men’ for an important reason”.

The purpose of a movie billboard is not just to give viewers an idea of what the movie’s about, but also excite them enough to go see it. That’s why some people are concerned about what’s going down on a current billboard in Los Angeles for X-Men: Apocalypse featuring Jennifer Lawrence‘s character, Mystique, and Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse. I know what you’re thinking: how could anything involving Oscar Isaac and Jennifer Lawrence be bad? However, actress Rose McGowan, and a handful of others, have pointed out that it sends a pretty weird message, and we can’t help but agree. The billboard shows Apocalypse with his hand around Mystique’s throat, strangling her.

 

(15) TABLET HARDWARE. “Hello From Londinium: Oldest Handwritten Documents In British History Discovered” on NPR.

Archaeologists in London have unearthed the oldest handwritten documents in Britain — a collection of notes, bills and contracts dating back nearly 2,000 years.

The discovery, a collection of more than 400 Roman waxed writing tablets, was announced Wednesday by the Museum of London Archaeology. The tablets were unearthed in London’s financial district during excavation work for a new building.

The Guardian has more on the tablets’ discovery:

“The tablets were found under a 1950s office block in the still smelly, wet mud of the lost river Walbrook, as the site was being cleared for a huge new European headquarters for Bloomberg.

” ‘They give us a glimpse into a carpet-bagging community in the new wild west frontier of the Roman empire,’ said Roger Tomlin, the expert on early Roman writing who spent a year poring over the faint scratches on slivers of fir wood recycled from old barrels.

The Bloomberg tablets, as the museum is calling them, date back to as early as A.D. 43.

(16) THE LATE PLAYWRIGHT. Francis Hamit, in “Film Producer Reveals Truth About Christopher Marlowe’s Death”.

After years of intensive research Francis Hamit is satisfied that he knows exactly how and why the Elizabethan poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe died on May 30th, 1593.

“It was a hit,” Hamit said, “A political assassination for reasons of state, ordered by Queen Elizabeth herself. Marlowe professed atheism, which would have been no big deal if he had not been the most famous and popular playwright of the Elizabethan stage. His fame meant that the deed had to be done secretly. Marlowe was also one of her spies and worked for the Secret Service under Sir Francis Walsingham and Sir Robert Cecil. The other men in the room with Marlowe at the time of his death were all friends of his and long-time agents for the Crown.”

“Marlowe infiltrated the Jesuit Seminary at Rhiems as a spy in 1585, and probably did other missions. He was part of Sir Walter Raleigh’s group of freethinkers, the so-called ‘School of the Night,’ and gave a lecture about atheism. His former chambermate and lover Thomas Kyd was arrested for having atheistic literature and revealed under torture that the documents were Marlowe’s. Additional accusations from informers got Marlowe arrested by the Privy Council and he was under investigation and restrictions when he died.”

For the last six years, Hamit has been developing these details into a screenplay, now being produced by famed film producer Gary Kurtz in the UK. The film will be directed by American film director Michael John Donahue, DGA. The underlying material is Hamit’s 1988 stageplay “MARLOWE: An Elizabethan Tragedy”.

“Actually the whole thing was Mike Donahue’s idea,” Hamit said. “He read the original stage play and suggested we make the film. We decided to make it in the UK because of the locations, the very deep bench of acting talent, and the generous tax incentives.” To that end, Hamit and his partner formed The Kit Marlowe Film Co. PLC with offices in London as well as Los Angeles and negotiated a North American film and video distribution deal with Lightyear Entertainment in 2015.

Hamit has done several drafts of the screenplay and just added a scene where Queen Elizabeth orders Marlowe’s death. “She did it for the best of reasons from her point of view,” Hamit said. “Her authority as Queen was based upon the Divine Right to Rule. Saying there was no God was a direct challenge to that authority. Marlowe had to go, and as quietly as possible. She pardoned the man who murdered him a month later.”

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

Pixel Scroll 6/1/16 This Scroll Will Self-Pixelate In Five Seconds

(1) HOAX OF THRONES. From Entertainment Weekly, Game of Thrones producers reveal 4 of their epic cast pranks”.

  1. John Bradley’s Ridiculous New Costume.

During the making of season 6, Kit Harington (Jon Snow) and Hannah Murray (Gilly) asked the producers to help them play a wicked trick on their costar and friend, John Bradley (Samwell Tarley). Explains Weiss: “Hannah has long had the sh–tiest costumes on Game of Thrones; she’s been in a burlap sack for five years. She was so happy that she finally gets into a real piece of clothing this year. So Kit and Hannah thought it would be funny to play a joke on John and let him think he’s going to get a new costume too.”

The producers wrangled the show’s costume department to stage a mock fitting for Bradley in a fake costume before shooting began. “We thought it would be great to make the costume ludicrous, but just believable enough to not know it was a gag – so he’d think he would be wearing this on screen,” Weiss says. The result, as you can see in the exclusive photo above, “was all rental stuff, very Henry the VIII, with Tudor bloomers and a massive codpiece that wasn’t even the same color as the rest of the costume.”

(2) CAST PHOTOS. At Pottermore, “A first look at Ron, Hermione and Rose Granger-Weasley as they will appear in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two. Noma Dumezweni ‘gets Hermione inside out,’ according to J.K. Rowling”.

Yesterday, we got a sneak peek at Harry, Ginny and Albus Potter in full Cursed Child costume and make-up. Now, let’s meet the Granger-Weasleys.

Here we see Harry’s two best friends Ron Weasley (Paul Thornley) and Hermione Granger (Noma Dumezweni) in full costume with their daughter Rose Granger-Weasley, who will be played by actress Cherrelle Skeete.

‘It’s 19 years later when the play begins,’ Paul explained. ‘Ron is married to Hermione Granger and they’re now the Granger-Weasleys. Our magnificent daughter Rose Granger-Weasley is about to start at Hogwarts, which is obviously a big day for everyone.’

 

(3) EARLY GRRM. It’s not a hoax, but it may be a hallucination. Dangerous Minds, an underground music and culture site, discusses “’The Armageddon Rag,’ George R.R. Martin’s Rock-and-Roll Occult Fantasy Novel”,

In 1983 Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin published a standalone novel drenched in classic rock that featured the following: a sorceress marshaling a menacing army of loyal warriors, a faithful direwolf cut down in the act of protecting its master, and a scary henchman of well-nigh mountain-ous stature.

The book is called The Armageddon Rag, and a perusal of the synopses of his other pre-Song of Ice and Fire output leads me to the conclusion that the book is Martin’s most realistic novel and surely represents his most sustained homage to the works of J.R.R. Tolkien—unless, of course, the still-uncompleted Westeros/Essos series qualifies.

It also doesn’t really work.

According to the author, The Armageddon Rag nearly sank Martin’s career—and also (HBO subscribers, rejoice) prompted the writer to investigate the possibilities of writing for television….

(4) CELEBRATING WOMEN SF/F ARTISTS. The Society of Illustrators exhibit “Points of Vision – Celebrating Women Artists in Fantasy and Science Fiction” runs June 8-August 20 in New York.

When people think of the Science Fiction and Fantasy genre they often think of it as a male-dominated field, both in authorship and art. However, women have always been a critical part of the genre, and have often brought a slightly different point of view to the way that they create around the themes of myth, heroism, science, and futurism. Mary Shelley wrote one of the first, if not the first science fiction books in Frankenstein. For every Tolkien there was an Ursula K. Le Guin. For every Frank Herbert an Octavia Butler. When we think of Science Fiction and Fantasy Art, it is often the names like Frazetta and Hildebrandt that come first to mind. However, all along through the art history of the genre you have women such as Kinuko Craft, Mary Blair, Julie Bell, and many more who have been creating their own visual worlds and illustrating the worlds of authors, filmmakers, and game designers. For the first time, the work of women in this genre will be exhibited together in Point of Vision: Celebrating Women Artists in Fantasy and Science Fiction at the Museum of Illustration at the Society of Illustrators.

We have chosen to exhibit these women artists together to propose that although both men and women have always created art in the worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy, women inherently have a slightly different point of view, a unique way of internalizing the themes and stories and then creating visuals imbued with their perspective. However it would be a mistake to say that art created by women is automatically “feminine” — in this exhibit the viewer will see that there are as many different definitions of “woman artist” as there are women creating art.

This exhibit is curated by Irene Gallo and Lauren Panepinto.

(5) PROPHECY REDEEMED. “It’s 2016 — where’s my reusable spacecraft?” demands Chip Hitchcock, setting up the BBC’s reply in “One thing spacecraft have never achieved – until now”.

So a short explanation for why reusable rockets haven’t arrived earlier is simply the technical difficulty. However, the idea of reusable spaceplanes dates back to before World War Two.

Before the Apollo programme, spaceplanes were thought to be the future of reusable spacecraft, says Roger Launius at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air & Space Museum in Washington DC. “The idea has been out there since the Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon science fiction comic strips in the 1920s and 1930s. Every single one of the spacecraft in those strips was a reusable spaceplane. So since before World War Two we always thought spaceflight would be like airplane activity.”

After 1945, captured German rocket scientists revealed they had planned – but never built – a suborbital spaceplane, the Silverbird, with which the Nazis had hoped to bomb the US. A novel design feature was that it was shaped like a wing, so its shape helped add aerodynamic lift. This ‘lifting body’ idea was harnessed by the US Air Force in 1958 when it started work on a reusable winged spaceplane, the X-20 Dyna-Soar – but the Moon program saw that canned in 1963.

(6) SIXTIES BATMAN ACTORS COLLABORATING. CinemaBlend says when they’re not busy collecting Medicare, “Batman’s Adam West And Burt Ward Are Working On A New Project”. (Okay, I made up the Medicare part.)

Although Adam West’s information was sparse, we may already have a clue about what this thing is. Last year, he and Burt Ward mentioned that they would be voicing their versions of Batman and Robin in a 90-minute animated project. It seems unlikely that this would be a movie released in theaters. Instead, it seems like a much better fit as a direct-to-DVD movie, something streamed on an online platform or even as a TV special. However, there’s been no official announcements concerning that particular project, and it’s unclear whether what West is currently talking about is the same project or something entirely different. Either way, having the old guard together again is intriguing.

(7) DEVIL IN A BLUE RAY. The other day Guillermo del Toro praised director John Carpenter in a long series of tweets that included this story:

(8) BIRTHDAY DEITY

  • Born June 1, 1936 – Morgan Freeman, who in addition to playing God in two movies, has performed as a leader of all three branches of the US government, the President, the Chief Justice, and the Speaker. (And you can throw in the Director of Central Intelligence for good measure.)

(9) BIRTHDAY MUPPET

  • Born June 1, 2000 — Oscar the Grouch. [Updated. Oscar has been on Sesame Street since 1969. But the birthday is official.]

(10) STRETCH GOALS. Diana Pavlac Glyer’s Bandersnatch audiobook Kickstarter not only funded, but hit three stretch goals.

And for unlocking the last goal, backers will soon learn if illustrator James A. Owen can really draw a bandersnatch blindfolded.

(11) THE DOORS OF HIS MOUTH. David Brin will speak in Washington DC to Caltech alumni on June 14. Tickets are $10.

Knocking on Doors

What Caltech Taught Me about Self-Education

Join us for a special conversation with Hugo award winning and New York Times bestselling science fiction author David Brin (BS ’73). Brin will speak about how his experience at Caltech prepared him for a three decade career at the intersection of science and imagination.

(12) ONLINE PAYMENT OPENS. MACII opened Site Selection voting the other day, however, today they made it possible to pay the Advance Supporting Membership fee online.

All Adult Attending, Young Adult Attending, and Supporting members of MidAmeriCon II are eligible to take part in the site selection process. Ballots may be submitted by postal mail or in person at the convention, up to the close of voting at 6 p.m. on Friday, August 19, 2016. All ballots must be accompanied by an Advance Supporting Membership fee, which will automatically be converted to a Supporting Membership of the respective convention, regardless of which convention the member voted for. This fee has been set at $40 for the 2018 Worldcon selection and $35 for the 2017 NASFiC.

Full information on the site selection process, including a printable ballot form, can be found on the MidAmeriCon II website at www.midamericon2.org/home/hugo-awards-and-wsfs/wsfs/site-selection/. A copy of the ballot form will also be included in MidAmeriCon II’s Progress Report 3, which will be mailed to convention members in the coming weeks.

In accordance with the requirements of the World Science Fiction Society, each bidder has submitted an official bid filing package. This documentation can also be found on the MidAmeriCon II website at www.midamericon2.org/home/hugo-awards-and-wsfs/wsfs/site-selection/.

(13) 2017 WISCON. The WisCon 41 guests of honor have been named.

  • Amal El-Mohtar – Nebula-nominated Canadian poet and writer of speculative fiction
  • Kelly Sue DeConnick – American comic book writer and editor and English-language adapter of manga

(14) ONE THUMB UP FOR GHOSTBUSTERS. Executive producer Dan Aykroyd praised the new Ghostbusters. Is he an objective critic? You decide!

Dan Aykroyd, who played Ray Stantz in the original Ghostbusters film, has praised the upcoming reboot.

Aykroyd is listed as an executive producer on the movie, which features a female-led cast including Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig.

He commended the “brilliant, genuine performances from the cast both female and male”.

The actor made the comments after seeing a test screening of Paul Feig’s new film.

“It has more laughs and more scares than the first two films, plus Bill Murray is in it!” Aykroyd wrote on Facebook.

(15) FLEXIBLE FLYERS. This picture of posable dragons comes from Patricia Briggs fans FB page.

posable dragons

(16) TIME AND AGAIN. Details about the 2017 season of Doctor Who continue to leak: “Doctor Who Season 10 Is Bringing A Major Character Back”.

Actress Michelle Gomez actually dropped the news herself at this weekend’s MegaCon in Orlando, confirming that she would definitely be bringing Missy back into the Doctor’s life for Season 10, according to Doctor Who News. And it doesn’t appear that she was in character while making the admission, so we don’t have to worry about this being a trick of some kind that she’s playing on humanity. Or do we?

The latest incarnation of the Doctor’s arch nemesis The Master, Missy first appeared in “Deep Breath,” after already being introduced by name in a previous episode. She is more of a trickster than earlier Masters when it comes to playing mind games with the Doctor, and has appeared in a handful of episodes since her introduction. She was last seen in Season 9’s “The Witch’s Familiar,” where she was left on Skaro amidst a huge group of Daleks, remarking on a clever idea she’d just had. Was that idea to show up in Season 10? It fits.

(17) FORGED PROPERTY. Suvudu knows how few can resist a headline like “King Tut’s Dagger Has an Extraterrestrial Origin”.

Conspiracy theorists are fond of pointing to things like the pyramids as proof that the Egyptians were in communication with an extraterrestrial civilization. While that’s very, very, very unlikely, a recent scientific discovery has revealed a surprising connection between Egyptian royalty and outer space. According to the Guardian, Italian and Egyptian scientists have concluded that a dagger found in the tomb of King Tutankhamen was forged from iron extracted from a meteorite.

(18) JUST SAY NO. Steven Harper Piziks shares his social media strategy at Book View Café.

Links I don’t click on:

–Anything that uses the phrase “mind blown”…

–Or “90% of readers won’t share this” (Now we just need to work on the other 10%.)

–Or “This major event in space is happening any second! Click here to learn more about how fake it is!”

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Rob Thornton, Andrew Porter, and Craig Miller for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day katster.]

Pixel Scroll 5/30/16 You Only Five Twice

july-1942-patriotic-pulps

(1) MEMORIAL DAY. Honoring service and sacrifice — James H. Burns’ 2015 tribute to the WWII generation:

Yet, one of the biggest influences on that generation has remained generally uncommented on. Decades later, it can almost be viewed as a secret text, or a  vast compendium, that may well have helped prepare our country’s youth for the immense challenges that awaited them.

In the 1930s, during the height of the Great Depression–still the toughest economic calamity that ever faced the United States–ANYONE could tune in, on the radio, to the terrific adventure series, comedies and dramas that were performed LIVE, for national broadcast.

It didn’t matter if you were rich or poor, or what race or creed you encompassed. There was a wide array of delights simply waiting to be discovered….

(2) LLAMA DROP. Kameron Hurley has a book out tomorrow that she expects to be controversial. She recommends several rules of engagement to her readers, beginning with —

Hey, hey folks, my first essay collection, The Geek Feminist Revolution, drops TOMORROW, May 31!

In anticipation of its release, here are some things you should know that I know and some things you should know about how I’ll be comporting myself online during the launch:

  1. Some people (the minority, but oh, what a vocal minority!) will HATE this book, even and especially those who’ve never read it and have never heard of me and have no idea what it’s actually about. I fully anticipate several pile-ons. I expect lots of garbage in my social feeds. But fear not! All of my email is screened, I’ve muted the majority of the worst accounts and keywords on Twitter, and buttoned up other things to ensure this goes as smoothly as possible. I WILL BE FINE. CHIN UP.
  2. This leads us to THIS point, which is: NO WHITE KNIGHTING. All I ask if there’s a pile-on is for you to NOT tag me if you argue with trolls. My troll policy is mute and ignore. I’ve found that very effective. You are, of course, free to argue with whomever you want on the internet, but as a courtesy, I ask that you keep me out of it, or I’ll have to mute you too, and we don’t want that! In related news: DON’T POINT ME TO BAD REVIEWS or TELL ME TO READ TERRIBLE COMMENTS. I mean, unless you’re a troll? But I don’t think you’re a troll. Like, I mean, for real, folks? I never, ever, read the comments, and I’m not going to be reading bad reviews, even funny ones, for months yet. Thank you….

(3) LLAMA THUMBS DOWN. At Fantasy Literature, reviewer Bill Capossere’s verdict is The Geek Feminist Revolution: Just didn’t do it for me”. I’ve heard of “damning with faint praise,” on the other hand, this review is devoted to “damning with faint damns.”They follow after a three-paragraph confession of the expectations he brings to a book of essays.

The pieces certainly aren’t badly written, but there just wasn’t enough there for me, whether in terms of style or content. Often, the thrust of the piece wasn’t all that fresh. What does it take to succeed in writing? Persistence. How does one succeed? One has to be willing to fail. Women are horribly trolled on the net. Writers have a responsibility to consider the impact of how they present their worlds and the people who inhabit them, etc.

Now, I don’t have an issue with covering territory that has been covered extensively for a long time or, in the case of more contemporaneous issues, has been covered extensively elsewhere (well, maybe I have a little issue). But if you’re going to present me content I’ve seen lots of other places or have been reading for some time, then you need to do something else for me. When I talk to my students in creative writing I call this the “so what” issue with non-fiction. You have to give the reader a reason to keep reading something they’ve seen before. Maybe it’s the beauty of the language, maybe it’s the stimulating structure. But something.

With regard to structure, the essays in The Geek Feminist Revolution are almost strictly linear and mostly singularly focused. As for language, it’s adequate for communicating the ideas, but rarely rises above that. It’s conversational, passionate, but nothing will have you linger over the phrasing or is particularly dense with meaning.

(4) CHINA SF CON. Shaoyan Hu’s article at Amazing Stories covers “A Time to Share, a Time to Enjoy – The Closing Ceremony of the 8th Shanghai Science Fiction & Fantasy Festival”.

In the main hall, the ceremony was incorporated with the final stage of a mind contest called ‘Useless Superpowers’, in which the participants were encouraged to come up with ideas of superpowers that had no practical values but could become interesting under certain circumstances. They were requested to present the ideas with any means of their choice, such as videos, pictures, stage performances, and so on.

The winner was a student from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The imaginary superpower he had fabricated was ‘Immovable’, which meant the owner of the power could prevent anything from moving by simply touching it. Now, just imagine, someday in the future, if an asteroid is going to crash into the Earth, guess who will be sent out to the space to stop it?

(5) BALTICON AUTOGRAPH MACHINE. See George R.R. Martin sign and sign and sign in Chris Edwards’ half-minute video on Facebook.

(6) WISCON WARNING. Wondering what happened.

(7) CAPTAIN AMERICA SPOILER WARNING. With the mandatory warning out of the way, here is Brad Torgersen’s warning about violating fans’ expectations for a franchise.

Of course, the whole Captain America = Hydra Nazi thing, is a stunt. It will be eventually written up such that this shocking reveal is just the top-most layer on a plot cake wherein good old Steve is still true-blue American, and so forth. But by then the writers will have gotten what they wanted out of said stunt: attention, eyeballs, chatter, and (theoretically) sales.

Or . . . not?

Sometimes, stunts like this can dramatically backfire. If the audience suspects that it …is being shown contempt (by the creators) then the audience may very well turn its back. Superheroes are treasured icons for fans across the spectrum, and if you mess with those icons too much, you truly are playing with fire.

(8) IN A CAPTAIN CRUNCH. Echoing one of Torgersen’s notions about the fans no longer accepting the authority of the creator, comics veteran Gerry Conway has been besieged by fans trying to tell him the history behind Captain America. Here are a few examples from the Twitter exchange.

However, not everyone is engaging in the Captain America controversy with the same firestorm intensity….

(9) AUDIO BANDERSNATCH. Diana Pavlac Glyer’s Kickstarter funded – in fact, later today it achieved its first stretch goal.

I’m walking on SUNSHINE!! We met our funding goal for “Bandersnatch Goes AUDIO!!” Michael Ward will be narrating this book, and I am absolutely THRILLED. We still have one more day to meet some delicious stretch goals: I’d love to give each and every backer a copy of the 20-page discussion guide, and I’m still wondering if James A. Owen can draw a bandersnatch blindfolded. But for now, here’s the important thing: this is a real dream come true. This  audiobook will really really happen, and I want to thank YOU for taking part. I’m so excited and so, so grateful. WOOT!! Bandersnatch is going AUDIO!!

10) FAMILY REUNION. Fanac.org has uploaded video of “Science Fiction’s 50th Anniversary Family Reunion” from Noreascon 3 (1989). After the Sunday brunch, many of the greats reminisced – including Isaac Asimov, Terry Pratchett, Jack Williamson, Samuel Delany, Fred Pohl, Forry Ackerman, David Kyle, Connie Willis, and others.

(11) IT WAS A NEEDLESS TRAGEDY. The Onion has learned “Leaked Documents Reveal Studio Executives Knew About ‘Gods of Egypt’ Before It Released Onto Public”. Gasp!

Suggesting that the disastrous events of three months ago could have been averted, federal investigators stated Wednesday that a trove of leaked documents confirmed high-ranking studio executives had full knowledge of Gods Of Egypt long before the film was released onto unsuspecting Americans….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Michael J. Walsh, and Leslie Turek for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Pixel Scroll 5/29/16 Hell Is Other Pixels

(1) HE SIGNS AND WONDERS. From the Baltimore Sun: “’Game of Thrones’ author draws faithful crowd at Balticon 50”

The wildly popular HBO series has gone beyond the plot lines of Martin’s books, though more are in the works. In an afternoon interview with Mark Van Name, Martin said he never anticipated that the unfinished book series would end up as enormous as it has become. When he sold it in 1994 with 100 pages written, he pitched it as a trilogy. That quickly became a “four-book trilogy,” he said, then a five-, six- and seven-book series. The sixth and seventh books have not yet been published.

“It hit 800 pages and I wasn’t close to the end,” he said of writing the first book, “Game of Thrones,” the show’s namesake, which was part of a larger series, “A Song of Ice and Fire.” Then “Thrones” became “1,400 pages and there was no end in sight. At that point I kind of stopped and said, ‘This isn’t going to work.'”

Though Martin didn’t speak in detail about the books, he said the Vietnam War was part of what shaped his writing and the complexity of his characters.

“We have the capacity for great heroism. We have the capacity for great selfishness and cowardice, many horrible acts. And sometimes at the same time. The same people can do something heroic on Tuesday and something horrible on Wednesday,” he said. “Heroes commit atrocities. People who commit atrocities can be capable later of heroism. It’s the human condition, and I wanted to reflect all that in my work.”

Martin Morse Wooster emailed the story along with his own observations:

…Nearly all of the piece is about listening to George R.R. Martin or standing in line to get your Martin books and other stuff signed.  This morning I was standing in line for the elevator and heard that they were admitting the 1,070th person to the autograph line.

(2) TIPTREE AUCTION AT WISCON. I’d like to hear the rest of this story…

And I’d like to hear this, too.

(3) CAPTAIN AMERICA SPOILER WARNING. (In case there’s anybody who doesn’t already know it…)

Ed Green snarked in a Facebook comment:

I rather like the bonus factoid that they released this in time to help celebrate Memorial Day. Because nothing says ‘Thank you for your sacrifice!” like turning a WWII legend into a Nazi.

You rotten bastards.

Jessica Pluumer also criticized the choice in her post “On Steve Rogers #1, Antisemitism, and Publicity Stunts” at Panels.

You probably already knew that, but I’d invite you to think about it for a minute. In early 1941, a significant percentage of the American population was still staunchly isolationist. Yet more Americans were pro-Axis. The Nazi Party was not the unquestionably evil cartoon villains we’re familiar with today; coming out in strong opposition to them was not a given. It was a risky choice.

And Simon and Kirby—born Hymie Simon and Jacob Kurtzberg—were not making it lightly. Like most of the biggest names in the Golden Age of comics, they were Jewish. They had family and friends back in Europe who were losing their homes, their freedom, and eventually their lives to the Holocaust. The creation of Captain America was deeply personal and deeply political.

Ever since, Steve Rogers has stood in opposition to tyranny, prejudice, and genocide. While other characters have their backstories rolled up behind them as the decades march on to keep them young and relevant, Cap is never removed from his original context. He can’t be. To do so would empty the character of all meaning.

But yesterday, that’s what Marvel did.

Look, this isn’t my first rodeo. I know how comics work. He’s a Skrull, or a triple agent, or these are implanted memories, or it’s a time travel switcheroo, or, or, or. There’s a thousand ways Marvel can undo this reveal—and they will, of course, because they’re not about to just throw away a multi-billion dollar piece of IP. Steve Rogers is not going to stay Hydra any more than Superman stayed dead.

But Nazis (yes, yes, I know 616 Hydra doesn’t have the same 1:1 relationship with Nazism that MCU Hydra does) are not a wacky pretend bad guy, something I think geek media and pop culture too often forgets.

(4) BOUND FOR BLETCHLEY. The Guardian reports a discovery made by museum workers — “Device used in Nazi code machine found for sale on eBay”.

It was just such a coincidence that led to the museum getting its hands on their Lorenz teleprinter, after they spotted it for sale. “I think it was described as a telegram machine, but we recognised it as a Lorenz teleprinter,” Whetter said.

They rang the seller and drove to down to Essex to take a look for themselves. “The person took us down the garden to the shed and in the shed was the Lorenz teleprinter in its original carrying case,” Whetter said. They snapped it up for £9.50.

But the true value of their purchase was yet to become clear. It was only after cleaning the machine at Bletchley Park, where the museum is based, that they found it was a genuine military issue teleprinter, complete with swastika detailing and even a special key for the runic Waffen-SS insignia.

Is it a suspicious coincidence that this story came out the same month as Steve Rogers #1? You decide!

(5) WISCON CON SUITE. Tempting as it is, if I left now I still wouldn’t get there in time.

(6) FAREWELL FROM THE MASSES. The G has something to say “About that Castle finale…” at Nerds of a Feather.

I finally got around to watching the series finale of Castle last night, and feel the need to vent a bit.

First, let me admit that I’ve watched a lot of Castle over the years. But I didn’t watch it out of any conviction that it’s good. It wasn’t. Rather, I watched it because it was simple fun. At its best, the show took a familiar formula (the police procedural), approached it with an appealing balance of drama and comedy and then let its charismatic leads (Nathan Fillion and Stana Kati?) carry the show. All in all, that made for an enjoyable, if somewhat forgettable, hour long diversion.

Sure there was the ongoing story about an increasingly convoluted and opaque conspiracy, as well as the love story between Castle and Beckett, but at its heart Castle was an episodic show. And now that it’s gone, I realize how few watchable episodic dramas are left on TV.

Which brings me to the finale…

As soon as it was over, my wife turned to me and said “Poochie died on the way back to his home planet.”

With a hook like that, how could I not read the rest, which is an explanation of the reference?

(7) DESPITE POPULAR DEMAND. There will be a movie based on the Tetris video game, in which massive blocks descend from the sky. Don’t be underneath when they fly by… oh, wait, that’s a different punchline.

Larry Kasanoff, producer of films based on the Mortal Kombat video games and Bruno Wu, CEO of China’s Sun Seven Stars Media Group announced that their new company Threshold Global Studios is set to produce the film Tetris The Movie.

 

(8) RECOMMENDATION: REREAD THE BOOK. Gary Westfahl’s analysis, “Alice the Great and Powerful: A Review of Alice Through the Looking Glass”, is posted at Locus Online.

The visual effects are regularly creative and engaging, and there are lines here and there that might make you laugh, but overall, anyone looking for 153 minutes of entertainment on this Memorial Day weekend would be best advised to read, or reread, Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871) instead of watching this film, which borrows its title but none of its unique wit and charm. The work that it most recalls, as my title suggests, is the film Oz the Great and Powerful (2013 – review here), another thumb-fisted effort to “improve” upon a classic children’s book by adding new characters, new back stories for old characters, and an action-packed, melodramatic story line….

(9) MEANWHILE, BACK AT WISCON. Yes, indeed.

(10) CARBONARA COPY. Kurt Busiek commented yesterday about cooking a meal for his future wife using a recipe in a comic book. I thought it might be a pleasant surprise if I could find that American Flagg spaghetti fritatta recipe online. It was there, but I found more than I bargained for in Cleo Coyle’s post at Mystery Lovers Kitchen.

When I first met my husband, he whipped up a fantastic spaghetti carbonara that has since become part of our menu. Because he’s part Italian, and because both his mother and father taught him how to cook, I assumed his recipe came from one of them. Not so. Marc informed me that he found the recipe in a 1980’s comic book.

The comic was Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg!, launched in 1983. Fans of this series include Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Chabon, who hailed Flagg as a precursor to the cyberpunk genre of science fiction.

Flagg is not for everyone. It presents a hard-boiled look at life in 2031—after nuclear war and an economic collapse leave things a tad chaotic in the USA. How bad do things get in Chaykin’s 2031? One example: The broken down piano player who inhabits the local lounge is Princess Diana’s oldest son.

As for today’s recipe, spaghetti carbonara happens to be the favorite dish of Rubin Flagg, the comic book’s hero. The recipe was published in the same issue that Rubin cooked it up. (Recipes included in fiction! Is that a good idea or what?)

Coyle says she’s married to somebody named Marc, so presumably this isn’t Kurt’s wife telling her side of the same anecdote. (I’m also sure Kurt knows his fritatta from his carbonara.) Just the same, it’s starting to sound like that American Flagg recipe is quite the love potion!

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born May 29, 1906 T. H. White author of The Once and Future King.

(12) SUITS. Mr. Sci-Fi, Marc Scott Zicree, takes you along —

While in London pitching series, Mr. Sci-Fi got a tour of the Propstore’s exclusive amazing collection of spacesuits from such films as Alien, Armageddon and Star Trek – The Motion Picture — plus he shows rare concept designs of Space Command’s spacesuit by Iain McCaig (designer of Darth Maul, Queen Amidala and The Force Awaken’s Rey). Not to be missed!

 

(13) WOLFE TALK. Spacefaring Kitten interviewed Marc Aramini who wrote Between Light and Shadow: An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe, 1951 to 1986 (Castalia House).

Is there a “right” answer to questions like “what has really happened between the protagonist and Suzanne Delage in ‘Suzanne Delage’” or “which one is the changeling in ‘The Changeling’”?

I’m asking this because I kind of enjoyed the ambiguous atmosphere and the weight of the unexplained in those stories, and while I was reading them I didn’t necessarily feel that there should be one comprehensive solution to be unearthed.

Yes, but you don’t have to get there to enjoy the story. I honestly believe there is a “right” answer from the author’s point of view, but that there are other authors who do not have this kind of rigid, disciplined mindset and write from a place of the subconscious or unconscious. I really do not feel that this is the case with Wolfe, and I have written about 700,000 words so far between the two volumes which argue that his mysteries have universal solutions. I think one of his tasks is using the tool-box of post-modern subjectivity and uncertainty to imply that there is still a universal structure behind the act of creation.

(14) HARDY. David Hardy has created a video tour of his famous astronomical art —

Voyage to the Outer Planets

To follow up my 50s compilation, ‘How Britain Conquered Space in the Fifties’, here is a video made from art of the outer Solar System which I produced 50 years later , for comparison. I like to think I have progressed a little! This is partly a short excerpt from my DVD ‘Space Music’ (available at www.astroart.org), which in turn was edited from German TV’s ‘Space Night’, shown in the early morning from 1994 (google it). They showed two programmes of my art, but for the DVD I added digital images from my 2004 book with Sir Patrick Moore, ‘Futures: 50 Years in Space’.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Spacefaring Kitten, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hal Winslow’s Old Buddy.]

Pixel Scroll 5/28/16 The Boy Who Cried Woof

(1) WISCON GOHS. Justine Larbalestier, Sofia Samatar, and Nalo Hopkinson.

(2) AMERICAN SNARKER. John Z. Upjohn is at WisCon, too.

(3) FIVE-OH. Meanwhile, Peter S. Beagle was signing at Balticon 50.

(4) WHAT IT IS. George R.R. Martin made something clear during his Balticon 50 appearance.

(5) 1980 HUGOS. Nicholas Whyte has located a copy of the 1980 Hugo Awards voting statistics. He discusses the competition in a post for From the Heart of Europe.

The earliest Hugos for which I have been able to find full voting numbers are the 1980 Hugo awards given at Noreascon Two.  The details were release in December 1980, some months after the convention was over, and are available in a seven-page PDF here (the last two pages of the scan are in the wrong order).

563 nomination votes were received, which was a record at the time but was exceeded four times in the rest of the 1980s.  (See George Flynn’s records.)  Nominations seem to have then dipped again until the recent rise.

The 1788 votes for the final ballot were also a record at the time, and a record which as far as I can tell stood for over thirty years until 2100 voted for the 2011 Hugos at Renovation.

(Incidentally I find it fascinating that participation in Site Selection was well ahead of the Hugos for most of the 1980s and 1990s, peaking at 2509 in 1992, a tight-fought campaign between the eventual 1995 Intersection in Glasgow and a rival bid from Atlanta.)

The closest result in 1980 was for the Gandalf Grand Master Award for life achievement in fantasy writing, won by Ray Bradbury by a single vote,mailed in late from England, ahead of Anne McCaffrey, 747 to 746….

The next closest result was the Hugo for Best Novel, which went to Arthur C. Clarke’s The Fountains of Paradiseby 19 votes, 671 to 652 for John Varley’s Titan.  I have to feel that the Hugo voters got it right (even if Jo Walton disagrees – see also excellent comments); it’s a long time since I read Titan but I feel it was really a book of its time, whereas the Clarke is a satisfying capstone to a crucially important career in the genre. The Fountains of Paradise won the Nebula as well that year, but was only third in the Locus poll behind Titan (which won) and Frederik Pohl’s Jem.  It was also nominated for the 1979 BSFA Award but lost to J.G. Ballard’s The Unlimited Dream Company.

(6) ANIMATED ROD SERLING INTERVIEW. Blank on Blank, the PBS video series that creates animated videos from old audio-only interviews with celebrities, writers, and pop culture icons, has given the treatment to a recording of Rod Serling taking questions from Australian radio personality Binny Lum in 1963.

Well, it’s a very beautiful day, and it’s made infinitely more pleasant for me by the fact that I am going to talk to Rod Serling. So many of you have enjoyed his television shows. The Twilight Zone I think is the one that everybody talks about. I’ve just confessed to Rod that I haven’t seen it.

Believe me, Binny, some of my best friends are quite unaware of this program back in the States, including relatives, I might add….

(7) ROLLING A 770 CHARACTER. Kind words from Tim Atkinson who launches his series of Hugo nominee review posts with a look at File 770.

It helps that – occasional op ed articles aside – the blog not only links back to the original stories but quotes liberally from the sources themselves. Glyer and other contributors usually confine themselves to introducing each item rather than responding to it, although occasionally a little mild frustration can be detected.

In short – if File 770’s had an DnD alignment, it would be Lawful Neutral, or at least trying to live up to it. Which is really what you need from a news service.

The File 770 community, on the other hand, existing in a ecosystem of comments on individual blog posts, is all about opinions plural. Whether it’s taking a position on the stories of the day, swapping book or recipe recommendations or engaging in an epic comic riff about what to say to the Balrog in Moria (archived here), the threads are always insightful. Occasionally a little hot-tempered, but by comparison to Twitter (say) they’re a paragon of civility. 🙂

(8) NOT ENOUGH SPACE. Ashley Pollard steps up at Galactic Journey with “[May 27, 1961] Red Star, Blue Star (May 1961 UK Fandom Report)”

….To summarize Great Britain’s role in space, we lag far behind both United States and the Soviet Union, our government having cancelled Blue Streak early last year, which was a medium-range ballistic missile that would’ve made a good basis for a British rocket.  It was being tested at the Woomera Rocket Range in Australia (named, aptly, after an Aboriginal spear throwing aid).  Woomera has plenty of room to fire rockets into space, unlike the Home Counties or anywhere else for that matter on the British Isles…..

However, that still leaves us with Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future, which I haven’t mentioned before.  He is the eponymous hero of the Eagle comic’s lead strip.  Dan Dare is the lead test pilot of the “Interplanet Space Fleet”, whose adventures in space are still delighting its readers after ten years of weekly installments.  The series was created by Frank Hampson who consulted Arthur C. Clarke on the comic strips’ science.  While lots of spaceships have been lost, favourites like Dan Dare’s own Anastasia fly around the Solar system rescuing those in need of help, and defeating the various nefarious plans of enemies like the Mekon: large headed green alien overlords from Venus (and I expect you thought I would say Mars – still green though).

(9) BUT MORE SPACE THAN BEFORE. They finally succeeded in inflating the new room at the ISS.

NASA on Saturday successfully expanded and pressurized an add-on room at the International Space Station two days after aborting the first attempt when it ran into problems.

The flexible habitat, known as the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), slowly extended 67 inches (170 centimeters) soon after 4 pm (2000 GMT) following more than seven hours during which astronaut Jeff Williams released short blasts of air into the pod’s walls from the orbiting lab using a manual valve.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born May 28, 1908 — Ian Fleming, creator of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which I borrowed from the library while in junior high, assuming from the title it naturally would be another spy adventure like his James Bond.

(11) THE FUNNY PAGES. Will R. recommends this Hobotopia cartoon for a laugh.

And John King Tarpinian appreciates the references in today’s Brevity.

(12) STAY ON THE ISLAND. It’s the place to be, next time you’re in New York — “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ lair listed on AirBNB”.

An AirBNB listing is offering fans of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the opportunity to spend a night in the reptilian crime fighters’ secret lair.

The listing posted by the group’s very own Leonardo allows up to six guests to rent the Turtles’ three bedroom lair in Manhattan for just $10 a night.

“This high-tech dojo is fully loaded…a glow in the dark basketball court, a retro arcade, more video games with a pretty sweet tv wall…anything for hanging ninja-style,” the listing states.

While guests will get the opportunity to take full advantage of the lair and possibly even grab a bite of pizza, the Turtles themselves will not be present on the property due to their commitment to protecting the city.

(13) COMING TO VIMEO. A Neil Gaiman documentary will soon be posted online. The trailer says it can be pre-ordered for $12.99.

The documentary Neil Gaiman: Dream Dangerously will be exclusively shown on Vimeo, starting on July 8th. The film chronicles Gaiman’s childhood in Portsmouth UK to his initial success in writing The Sandman comic series to his more recent work with novels such as Coraline and The Graveyard Bookwhere he became the first author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work. His novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane was voted Book of the Year in the British National Book Awards.

 

(14) ANCIENT BOMB. Entertainment Weekly tells us “Mel Brooks was ‘ready to jump off a roof’ over sci-fi fiasco Solarbabies”.

How Did This Get Made? …recruited SlashFilm writer Blake Harris to speak with the makers — or, perhaps, “perpetrators” would be a better word — of the films featured in the podcast.

Harris can now claim to have struck bona fide gold with an interview in which comedy legend Mel Brooks talks about his backing of 1986’s Solarbabies, a sci-fi movie starring Jason Patric, Jami Gertz, and Lukas Haas. Don’t remember the film? Doesn’t matter. The always entertaining Blazing Saddles director, who exec-produced the movie through his Brooksfilms production company, remembers it like it was yesterday. In particular, Brooks has excellent recall of how the budget ballooned from a modest $5 million to a jaw-dropping $23 million…

(15) IT’S ABOUT TIME. Southern California Public Radio’s “Off-Ramp” segment delivers “DIY Film Fest: 6 time-travel flicks you’ll go back to (sorry) time after time” by Tim Cogshell, of CinemaInMind.

Off-Ramp has been after me asking me to do another DIY film festival, and I’ve been asked to talk sci-fi flicks with the sci-fi nerds over at the DigiGods podcast.  They have a great audience and I know they are going to want to talk time-travel movies. Sci-fi nerds always want to talk time travel movies. So let’s kill two birds with one stone.

1. “Looper” (2012)

Let’s start with a modern film that’s fast becoming a cult classic. The nerds love Director Rian Johnson’s 2012 time-travel thriller “Looper,” and so do I.  It stars Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon Levitt as the same guy from different moments in time. What I like most about Looper is that it’s a love story wrapped in a thriller hidden in a time-travel movie.  And that it’s Johnson’s own original script. He worked it all out beat-by-beat in his head and “Looper” is tight as a drum.

(16) FANCY MEETING YOU HERE. Washington State Republican Party Chairman Susan Hutchison’s Unity Speech includes video clips of various pundits – including a brief excerpt from a YouTube conversation between Vox Day and Stefan Molyneux. Their snippet appears at the 2:00:10 mark.

As Cally observed, “He’s one of the few people in the video who’s actually got his name displayed; most are either anonymous people or, I suppose, people who you’re supposed to recognize on sight.”

(17) HARD SELL. Originally for those who GET HARD, this shirt is now HARD TO GET. Teespring lists the “Legends of Science Fiction” t-shirt as sold out two days ago. If you click the “I still want one” button they’ll take your e-mail address.

Tingle t shirt

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

Pixel Scroll 5/24/16 Bark Side Of the Moon

(1) RELEASE THE MONSTER BALLOT. Jo Lindsay Walton is pleased with the flood of Sputnik Award ballots, and is at least not horrified by one of the suggestions.

Btw: I’ve received some really touching enthusiasm, warmth and wise counsels and offers of support, as well as a pretty significant amount of “eh?” “baroo?” “mph?” “wha-?”, which tbh is also kinda gratifying. One thing I’d love to hear more of is unwise counsel. The best I’ve heard so far is the suggestion that we do the Dungeons of Democracy for real.

Just imagine, ripping it from the Excel and into the streets, playing out the entire vote as a vast LARP, cosplaying Daleky Phoenixes and Hedgehoggy Thing Itselves . . .

(2) WINDLING. Remember, Terri Windling lectures on fantasy at Oxford on Thursday, May 26.

I will be delivering the 4th Annual Tolkien Lecture at Pembroke College, Oxford University this Thursday at 6:30 pm. The Pembroke Fantasy lecture series “explores the history and current state of fantasy literature, in honour of JRR Tolkien, who wrote The Hobbit and much of The Lord of the Rings during his twenty years at the college.”

The lecture I’ll be giving is Tolkien’s Long Shadow: Reflections on Fantasy Literature in the Post-Tolkien Era. Admission is free, but you need to register for a ticket and space is limited. Go here for further details.

(3) LUCAS MUSEUM. Mark Guarino’s Washington Post article “George Lucas’s dream of a Chicago lakefront museum faces choppy waters” even-handedly covers the battle to bring the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art to Chicago, showing the strengths – the vast art collection, and the architecture — and the minuses, chiefly that it will be partially paid with hotel taxes, which raises a question about whether George Lucas really needs to be subsidized by Illinois and Chicago taxpayers.

The Lucases had two real requirements: One, it would be in a prominent location and, two, that it would be near other museums,” he says. “The Lucases are not going to go to another site.”

A new plan approved by Lucas involves reconfiguring an aging extension of the McCormick Place convention center that sits on the lake and partially replacing it with the museum, 12 new acres of parkland, in addition to new convention space. That multipurpose site is more complicated because it involves borrowing nearly $1.2 billion and extending five taxes on hotels and more. Because it is co-owned by the state, approval from Springfield is required. With Illinois in a budget deadlock that is nearing a full year, and the state ranked at the bottom of those with underfunded pensions, the timing could not be worse. Koch says the selling point is long-term revenue in taxes and tourism dollars, as well as that it would add to Chicago’s “meaningful group of museums and cultural assets” that make it globally competitive.

This is both an enormous opportunity to update and modernize McCormick Place,” he says. “It has this element of Lucas, but they are two separate things that would happen to be tied together financially.”

Talks are on hold until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit rules on a city petition that asks for the lawsuit to be thrown out. Meanwhile, Hobson released a statement calling Friends of the Park “a small special interest group” that has “co-opted and hijacked” the process. “It saddens me that young black and brown children will be denied the chance to benefit from what this museum will offer,” she says.

She added that she and her husband “are now seriously pursuing locations outside of Chicago.” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has already said he would welcome the museum in his city.

If the Lucases leave Chicago, it will ultimately discredit the couple’s statements about wanting to help the children there, park advocates say.

“They keep saying how committed they are to the city, but they’re not committed enough to build anywhere but the lakefront,” [Friends of the Park executive director Juanita] Irizarry says.

(4) THIS HAPPENED. N.K. Jemisin started a Patreon campaign less than a week ago and it’s been so successful she can give up her day job.

So, internets. Big changes in Noraland. For the few of you who don’t follow me on Twitter and FB, I Did A Thing. Specifically, last Friday I started a Patreon campaign with the specific goal of breaking free of the 9 to 5 life. I launched it officially at 5:35 pm on Friday afternoon, thinking nobody would much care since Friday News Dump, and thinking that would give me time to fix bugs and work out any kinks in the campaign over the weekend. Instead, to my absolute shock, I hit my baseline goal within 24 hours, and my stretch goal within 48. And it’s still going. People really, really want me to have a retirement plan, apparently.

(5) BEVERLEY OBIT. Jo Beverley passed away on May 23 at the age of 68. Though best known as a romance writer, she also wrote romances with fantasy and magic in them, was a Writers of the Future contest finalist (1988), and published in Songs of Love and Death (2010) edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.

(6) HEARTWARMING WOOKIEE. In “Star Wars’ Favourite Wookiee Goes Back to School”, Lee Costello of the BBC’s Northern Ireland service reports on Chewbacca’s visit to a school in County Kerry.

Chewbacca, Star Wars’ world-famous wookiee, has left pupils at a Republic of Ireland primary school star struck after landing for a visit.

The star is filming the newest instalment of the blockbuster series in County Kerry.

He took a break from the set to visit Scoil Fheirtearaigh National School in Ballyferriter on Monday.

The visit was arranged after some pupils sent impressive artwork to director Rian Johnson.

(7) AND HIS MOM. Meanwhile, Hollywood summoned a viral video maker for 15 more minutes of fame — “J.J. Abrams Surprises Chewbacca Mom”.

Candace Payne, also known as the Chewbacca Mom, took over the Internet this weekend with her Chewbacca mask and infectious laugh. In the video, Candace is sitting in her car, super excited about a purchase she just made: a Star Wars Chewbacca mask with sound. The next few minutes are her trying to contain her infectious laughter. The video broke the all-time total for most views on Facebook Live, and everyone has been talking about the joyful mom from Texas.

James Corden brought Candace out to Los Angeles to appear on The Late Late Show and surprised her with a visit from J.J. Abrams. The trio took a ride in a car, where Abrams gives Candace some notes on how to play Chewbacca, but the best part was her reaction outside of the car when J.J. first surprised her.

Video at the link.

(8) START SPREADING THE NEWS. Looks like this will be no problem in Ireland, but for everyone else IFL Science contemplates “How Do We Tell The World That We’ve Found Alien Life?”

…That’s a topic discussed in a paper from astronomers Duncan Forgan and Alexander Scholz from the University of St Andrews in Scotland (hat tip to Cosmos Magazine for picking it up). They have examined the protocols that are already in place, and have suggested ways that those involved in the discovery should prepare for the media onslaught that would accompany a tentative detection.

“A critical concern for scientists pursuing the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is the reaction of the world to the knowledge that humans are not the only technological civilization in the universe,” they write. They suggest that the “culture shock” of such a discovery will put SETI scientists under intense scrutiny, which they must be prepared for…..

“SETI scientists must be prepared to not simply announce a detection via press release, but to be a trusted voice in the global conversation that will begin after the initial announcement,” the authors write. “This will require both pre-search and post-detection protocols to be implemented.”

(9) AWARD JUDGES. In Australia, the 2016 Aurealis Awards judging panels have been selected.

There’s a panel for every category – which means a lot of judges. Scroll down to see the judges’ bios.

(10) TRUER GRIT. Damien Walter believes Dune Deserves A New Film Adaptation”.

Dune’s cinematic qualities have made it a natural target for Hollywood adaptations. But the Lynchian weirdness, followed by a lacklustre mini-series, have left the franchise in a televisual limbo for most of the last two decades. Herbert’s own sequels, while conceptually interesting and widely loved by established fans, lack the storytelling muscle displayed in the first book. A risible series of cash-in prequels have dragged the Dune universe down to the bargain basement of pulp fiction. It’s a sad legacy for such a significant work of fiction.

(11) TROLL HOIST. Death and Taxes did an overview of Chuck Tingle’s Hugo nomination that ends with this paragraph:

Luckily these goons didn’t know who they were dealing with. This is Chuck Tingle, leading author of gay dinosaur erotica, licensed massage therapist, and outspoken enthusiast of hardness and love. Nobody nominates him for a prestigious award and gets away with it.

(12) ANOTHER FINE MESS. There’s reason to be interested in Charlie Jane Anders’ impressions about the field, despite the post ignoring the copious documentation available to answer its strawman question: “One way of looking at the Hugo Awards mess”.

So we’re once again having Hugo Awards drama. It’s confusing, because the people who packed the ballot with their choices have a bunch of vague explanations about why they’re upset. (Ranging from “OMG SJWs” and “affirmative action” to “we just want fun stories.”) They generally keep their grievances vague and nebulous (no pun intended), and it’s hard to pin down what they’re upset about. And this year, they changed tactics slightly, putting more “mainstream” choices on the ballot except for some of the short fiction categories.

So I figure one useful way to look at this issue is to ask: What’s changed? If there’s a group of people who are upset, what recent changes could possibly account for their being upset? Here are a few things that occur to me….

(13) AT WISCON. I see a lot of tweets promoting people’s panel appearances, but rarely one so artistic.

(14) THE SIGN OF THE Z. John Z. Upjohn joined Twitter today. The cause was soon revealed.

Alexandra Erin explained in a GoFundMe appeal update:

And because you all pitched in enough to cover airfare for WorldCon before I head off to my current con, Mr. John Z. Upjohn will be providing live twitter commentary of the event [WisCon]…

Erin also delivered another Sad Puppies Review Books installment once the fundraiser hit $300 (it’s now at $775) – Upjohn’s take on The Cat in the Hat.

The Cat in the HatThe protagonist of the book is a cat who develops games, games that are fun (like all games should be), and who wants nothing but to share them with children who are bored. Not so fast, cat! There is a game critic in the house, a fish who is clearly used to thinking of himself as a big fish in a small pond.

I almost threw this book across the room at one point, because the cat is playing a game and he is clearly having a lot of fun, but the fish says, “NO! THIS ISN’T FUN!” Imagine hating fun so much that you lie about what’s fun in order to ruin a game for everyone else….

(15) PRONOUN STICKERS. WisCon 40 registration will have pronoun stickers available.

Hihi!  I want to take a minute to talk to you about an exciting option we’re offering at Registration this year: pronoun stickers!

We offered them last year and got a lot of reaction, so here’s the explanation:

Pronoun stickers are totally optional to wear. You don’t have to declare anything to anyone. You don’t have to wear the same sticker all weekend. These exist to make it easier for all of us to treat each other respectfully.

If someone IS wearing a pronoun sticker, we expect you will use that pronoun for them. Part of our social contract is kind and respectful treatment of each other, and there are few things that feel as terrible as being misgendered ON PURPOSE. If you make a mistake, just correct yourself and move on…..

 

Options. God bless WisCon. #WisCon

A post shared by Monica Byrne (@monicabyrne13) on

(16) TOMORROW IS TOWEL DAY. The annual tribute to Douglas Adams, Towel Day, takes place on May 25.

Naturally there are dedicated social media sites– a Facebook page or a Flickr group, and a way to tag videos on YouTube.

There are also hybrid events with in-person and internet components like Lofty Pursuits’ Vogon Poetry Slam. You have only a few hours left to enter online.

If you are in Tallahassee, please come and enter the International Vogon Poetry Slam. It is a contest for the worst possible poem. It happens at 8pm on May 25th as part of our Towel Day celebrations. If you are coming in person DO NOT ENTER ON-LINE. You will get to read your own poem live in front of your victims. The rules are the same….

The Vogon Poetry contest. Rules: The worst original poem will win as judged by us. No appeal is possible.

Sent to vogon@pd.net to be considered for this contest. We must get the poems by midnight on the 24th, Eastern Daylight Time (GMT-5). Late entries will go to the spam folder.

(17) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born May 25, 1686 — Polish inventor Gabriel Fahrenheit

(18) NAMING CALLS. Rachel Swirsky considers short story titles in “What should I have titled this essay? (Thoughts on John Joseph Adams’ ‘Zen in the Art of Short Fiction Titling’”).

Titles That Come From the Text

John starts the article by noting several titles that he suggested to authors that he’s published in his magazines and anthologies. He discovered these titles “right there in the text of the stories themselves. When I’m reading or editing a story, I frequently highlight evocative phrases I come across that I can later suggest to the author as a possible alternate title. Sometimes the phrasing isn’t quite right for the title, but it’s something that can be massaged, or combined together with another phrase from elsewhere in the story, that somehow captures the essence of what the story is about.”

I used to do the large majority of my titling this way until I started my MFA program at Mills, where the teacher told me what John Joseph Adams brings up next: “I should note that some writing professors—including notable literary giants—advise against this practice, largely because, they say, doing this puts too much emphasis and meaning on the eponymous phrase when the reader comes across it in the story.”

(19) DON’T CALL ME ISHMAEL. “Moby goes where Brian Eno, and his ancestor Herman Melville, went before” at the LA Times.

As a famously brainy electronic musician — and a descendant of literary royalty — Moby had plenty of lodestars he might have looked to while writing his first book.

There was, for instance, Brian Eno, the pop experimentalist who reflected on his work with U2 and David Bowie in his 1996 volume “A Year With Swollen Appendices.” And the distant ancestor from whom Moby got his nickname: “Moby-Dick” author Herman Melville.

In reality, the DJ and producer best known for 1999’s multi-platinum “Play” album took inspiration from a more unlikely source: Duff McKagan, the tattooed bassist in Guns N’ Roses.

“Honestly, I’d never given much thought to the guy before I read his memoir,” Moby said on a recent morning at home in Los Feliz, referring to “It’s So Easy (and Other Lies),” in which McKagan writes frankly about the excess and the illusions of show business. “But he wrote a book that’s good enough that it transcends the fact that I wasn’t interested in him.”

(20) BLAME OF THRONES. Juliet McKenna has her own tangle of pop culture references to work through — “Sansa Stark’s joined the X-Men? Thoughts on popcultural cross contamination”

I’ve yet to see the X-Men Apocalypse movie, so I can’t comment on Sophie Turner’s performance. Her work on Game of Thrones – especially at the moment (NO spoilers in comments please!) – gives me every reason to expect she’ll do a thoroughly good job.

The thing is, though, this is becoming A Thing for me. An amusement at the moment, rather than a distraction, but definitely A Thing.

I caught a trailer for A Knight’s Tale on the TV last week, which is one of my favourite movies. Now though? That’s the one where Robert Baratheon makes The Joker’s armour while The Vision bigs him up to the crowd…

(21) DISCO SCI-FI. Thomas A. Foster looks back at the Seventies in “Sci-Fi TV of the Disco Era: The Grounded Astronaut” on Pop Matters.

…Another key to understanding the sci-fi of the era: the shrunken profile of space exploration. In the ‘60s, NASA was perhaps the most popular Federal project, partly because fallen leader John F. Kennedy was associated with the “space race”. Television covered every moment leading up to the first moon walk in 1969, and Hollywood pitched in with movies and TV shows (I Dream of Jeannie, Star Trek, the made-in-England 2001: A Space Odyssey). The Jetsons had a dog named Astro, and Houston chose the same name for its new baseball team, which played, of course, in the Astrodome.

As our radio-alarm-clocks flipped to the ‘70s soundtrack, however, the Apollo Program was curtailed by budget cuts and sharply declining interest. The scientific idealism of the ‘60s was victim to chronic civil unrest, distrust of authority, and general exhaustion, as Americans turned to self-improvement (meditation, back-to-the-land/find-your-roots trends); hedonism (swinging, cocaine, disco); and all things para- (the paranormal, paranoia), including persistent rumors that the moon landings had been faked. In keeping with the zeitgeist, most of our TV astronauts of the decade would be lost, passive, or grounded….

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

Pixel Scroll 4/18/16 It’s Better To Pixel Out, Than To Scroll Away

(1) WHILE YOU WERE WAITING. Ann Leckie must be wondering if any of us are paying attention.

Quite frequently someone at a reading will ask me if I’ll ever explain about that icon Breq is carrying. And the answer is, I already have.

(2) JUST SAY THANKS. Joe Vasicek has some intriguing “Thoughts on series and perma-free”.

For the last five years, the conventional wisdom among most indie writers has been to write short books in sequential series and make the first book permanently free. It’s a strategy that works, to a certain extent. It’s what got me from making pizza money on my book sales to making a humble living at this gig. However, I’m starting to question that wisdom….

….Also, when you have a book that’s permanently free, it tends to accumulate a lot of negative reviews. It’s strange, but some people seem to feel more entitled to XYZ when they get it for free, as opposed to paying for it. Or maybe these are the people who try to go through life without actually paying for anything? Who hoard everything, even the stuff that they hate, so long as they can get it for free? I don’t know.

Certainly, that’s not true of everyone who reads free books. But when you have a perma-free book, it tends to accumulate more of the barely-coherent “dis buk sux” kinds of reviews from people who probably weren’t in the target audience to begin with. And over time, that tends to weigh the book’s overall rating down, which unfortunately can be a turn-off for people who are in the book’s audience.

(3) TIPTREE AUCTION. Here’s an advance look at an item in the Tiptree Auction at WisCon.

On Saturday, May 28, fans of the Tiptree Award will have the opportunity to bid on a genuine blaster that was once the sidearm of Space Babe, a legendary feminist superhero. (Blaster is modeled here by a Space Babe impersonator). This rare item will be part of the annual Tiptree Award Auction, to be held at at WisCon in Madison Wisconsin….

 

Blaster-wielding Jeanne Gomoll.

Blaster-wielding Jeanne Gomoll.

(4) MANCUNICON. Starburst brings you Ed Fortune’s 2016 Eastercon report.

Event highlights included interviews with the Guest of Honour John W. Campbell Award-winning novelist Aliette de Bodard, Hugo Award-winning author Ian McDonald, British Fantasy Award-winning creator Sarah Pinborough, and noted astrophysicist David L. Clement. Each drew a huge crowd, and coloured the event in their own unique way. Notably, Clement spearheaded a science-heavy approach to many of the panel items, and many of the talks centred on science and Manchester’s iconic research centre, Jodrell Bank. The iconic building, which has inspired many works of science fiction throughout its history, was thoroughly explored in many talks and lectures.

(5) NUMBER FIVE. Nina Munteanu, at Amazing Stories, continues the series — “The Writer-Editor Relationship, Part 2: Five Things Writers Wish Editors Knew – and Followed”.

  1. Edit to preserve the writer’s voice through open and respectful dialogue

Losing your voice to the “hackings of an editor” is perhaps a beginner writer’s greatest fear. This makes sense, given that a novice writer’s voice is still in its infancy; it is tentative, evolving, and striving for an identity. While a professional editor is not likely to “hack,” the fear may remain well-founded.

A novice’s voice is often tangled and enmeshed in a chaos of poor narrative style, grammatical errors, and a general misunderstanding of the English language. Editors trying to improve a novice writer’s narrative flow without interfering with voice are faced with a challenge. Teasing out the nuances of creative intent amid the turbulent flow of awkward and obscure expression requires finesse—and consideration. Good editors recognize that every writer has a voice, no matter how weak or ill-formed, and that voice is the culmination of a writer’s culture, beliefs, and experiences. Editing to preserve a writer’s voice—particularly when it is weak and not fully formed—needs a “soft touch” that invites more back-and-forth than usual, uses more coaching-style language, and relies on good feedback….

(6) KELLY LINK. Marion Deeds picked the right day to post a review of a Kelly Link story from Get in Trouble at Fantasy Literature.

“The Summer People” by Kelly Link (February 2016, free online at Wall Street Journal, also included in her anthology Get in Trouble)

“The Summer People” is the first story in Kelly Link’s new story collection Get in Trouble. Fran is a teenager living in a rural part of the American southeast. Her mother is gone, and she is neglected by her moonshiner father. While Fran is running a fever of 102 with the flu, her father informs her that he has to go “get right with God.” On his way out the door, he reminds her that one of the summer families is coming up early and she needs to get the house ready. However, that family isn’t the only group of summer people that Fran “does for,” and this is the point of Link’s exquisite, melancholy tale.

(7) HE’S FROM THE FUTURE. While Doctor Who can travel to anyplace and nearly any point in time, he invariably ends up in London. The Traveler at Galactic Journey seems likewise constrained always to arrive at the same opinion of John W. Campbell, although his fellow fans voted Analog a Hugo for this year’s work — “[April 18, 1961] Starting on the wrong foot”.

Gideon Marcus, age 42, lord of Galactic Journey, surveyed the proud column that was his creation.  Three years in the making, it represented the very best that old Terra had to offer.  He knew, with complete unironic sincerity, that the sublimity of his articles did much to keep the lesser writers in check, lest they develop sufficient confidence to challenge Gideon’s primacy.  This man, this noble-visaged, pale-skinned man, possibly Earth’s finest writer, knew without a doubt that this was the way to begin all of his stories…

…if he wants to be published in Analog, anyway.

(8) ON MILITARY SF. SFFWorld interviews Christopher Nuttall.

Christopher Nuttall’s Their Darkest Hour has just been released as part of the Empire at War collection where four British Science Fiction authors have joined forces to show the world that British Military Science Fiction is a force to be reckoned with….

So what is different with British Military SF? Obviously in Their Darkest Hour you have the UK setting that probably will be more familiar to a Europeans than Americans, but do you also think there are other aspects where British authors are able to bring something different and unique to military SF? 

I think that’s a hard question to answer.

There is, if you will, a cultural difference between American MIL-SF (and military in general) and British MIL-SF.  Many American military characters (in, say, John Ringo’s work) are very forward, very blunt … I’d go so far as to say that most of them are thoroughly bombastic.  Think a Drill Instructor screaming in your face.  While a great many British characters are often calm, competent and basically just get the job done.  We’re not as outwardly enthusiastic as the Americans; we’re more gritty endurance, stiff upper lip and just keep going until we win.

To some extent, I think that comes from our differing experiences.  The Americans are staggeringly rich and, even as early as their civil war, had little trouble keeping their troops supplied.  Britain, particularly in the years after 1919, had very real problems making ends meet, let alone keeping the troops supplied.  We operate on a shoestring and know it.  The Falklands was our most successful war in years, yet it was a very close run thing.  We simply cannot afford to be as blatant as the Americans.

I think that is reflected in our SF too.  Independence Day was followed by Invasion: Earth, a six-episode TV series set in Britain.  Independence Day is blatant; the enemy is clearly visible, merely overwhelmingly powerful.  Invasion: Earth has an enemy who hides in the shadows, at least up until the final episode.  They both represent, too, a very different set of fears.

(9) OVER THE EDGE OF HISTORY. Jeff Somers considers “6 Historical Fiction Novels That Are Almost Fantasy” at B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.

Hild, by Nicola Griffith Set in the so-called “Dark Ages,” after Rome abandoned Britain but before the squabbling kingdoms and tribes were unified under one crown, Griffith’s novel tells the true story of the Christian saint Hild, who would become Saint Hilda of Whitby, patron saint of learning. In 7th century Britain, she is the 6-year old niece of King Edwin of Northumbria, and becomes his seer and mystic upon arrival at his court. The reality of otherworldly forces is taken for granted as real in this brutal, violent land, and Griffith plays with the concept expertly as Hild becomes increasingly masterful at sniffing out plots and advising her uncle in ways that often seem magical. Anyone who has been awed by a brilliant mind’s ability to perceive what most cannot will witness that superpower at work in Hild, one of the most complex and deeply-drawn characters to ever appear in a novel—historical, fantasy, or otherwise.

(10) AN OP-ED. David Dubrow, in “David A Riley and the HWA”, criticizes how Horror Writers of America handled the recent controversy. And he’s announced he’ll be publishing an interview with Riley about it.

At times it’s interesting to get under the hood of the writing business and see how the sausage is made, to mix cliched metaphors. This issue happens to concern horror writers, so it has particular meaning for me at this time.

In short, an English horror author named David A Riley was set to be on the jury for the anthology segment of the upcoming Bram Stoker Awards. As it turns out, Riley was once a member of a far-right, nationalist political party in the UK called the National Front. A Tumblr blog was created to curate some of Riley’s online commentary, titled David Andrew Riley Is a Fascist. Wikipedia’s entry on National Front can be found here.

When outraged members protested Riley’s appointment to the jury, Horror Writers Association President Lisa Morton issued a tepid statement on Facebook that satisfied nobody. As is so often the case, the most arresting thing wasn’t the statement, but the ensuing discussion. Three distinct elements stood out and are worth examination….

Second, the thread has really big buts. The biggest but is, of course, “I believe in free speech, but…” A clever reader always ignores everything before the but in any statement containing a but. Anyone who puts his big but into the free speech discussion is not on the side of free speech, but is actually in favor of criminalizing speech he finds offensive (see what I did there?). As someone who worked at the bleeding edge of First (and Second) Amendment issues in publishing for over thirteen years, I find the big buts disturbing, but they’re there, and they stink like hell….

(11) THE FIRST RULE OF CHICXULUB. According to the BBC, this is “What really happened when the ‘dino killer’ asteroid struck”.

Where armies of trees once stretched skywards, seemingly escaping from the thickets of ferns and shrubs that clawed at their roots, only scorched trunks remain. Instead of the incessant hum of insect chatter blotting out the sound of ponderous giant dinosaurs, only the occasional flurry of wind pierces the silence. Darkness rules: the rich blues and greens, and occasional yellows and reds that danced in the Sun’s rays have all been wiped out.

This is Earth after a six-mile-wide asteroid smashed into it 66 million years ago.

“In the course of minutes to hours it went from this lush, vibrant world to just absolute silence and nothing,” says Daniel Durda, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado. “Especially in the thousands of square miles around the impact site, the slate was just wiped clean.”

Much like putting in all the edge pieces of a jigsaw, scientists have outlined the lasting impacts of the meteor strike. It claimed the lives of more than three-quarters of the animal and plant species on Earth. The most famous casualties were the dinosaurs – although in fact many of them survived in the form of birds….

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born April 18, 1976 — Melissa Joan Hart. She’s not a teenaged witch anymore.

(13) THE STARLOST. Created then disowned by Harlan Ellison, the 1970s series The Starlost can be seen here on YouTube. The link takes you to the entire series for Starlost (16 episodes plus the “sales pitch.”)

Complaining about how the show was dumbed down from the original concept, Ellison took his name off the credits and substituted his Writers Guild alias Cordwainer Bird.

(14) DUTCH TREATS. Wim Crusio reminisces about conversations with writers at the 1990 Worldcon, in “Writing science, writing fiction (I)”.

Synopsis: Whether writing a good novel or a killer scientific article, the process is much the same: What scientists can learn from science fiction authors…

Many years ago, back in 1990, I attended my first Science Fiction Worldcon, called “ConFiction“, in The Hague. An interesting feature that year was the “Dutch Treat”. One could sign up with a group of about 10 people and invite a science fiction writer for lunch and talk with them in that small circle. To me, these “treats” were the highlights of that particular meeting. I did as many of them as I could and have fond memories of speaking with John Brunner, Harry Harrison (a Guest of Honor, accompanied by his charming wife, Joan), Fred Pohl, Brian Aldiss, and Bob Shaw (I think that’s all of them, but I am writing this from memory, so I may have forgotten one). Of course, these conversations spanned many topics and I was not the only participant, but at some point or another I managed to pose the same question to each of them, namely: how do you write a story (be it a short story or a novel in multiple parts). Do you just start, do you write some parts first and only continue when you’re completely done with revising them, or something else entirely?

(15) REJECTION. Editor Sigrid Ellis’ post “On handling publishing rejection” tells things that can’t really be said in rejection letters. Some of them would be encouraging to writers!

Speaking from my work as a short fiction editor, I can 100% genuinely assure you — sometimes your story is fantastic, it’s just not what that venue needs at that time.

I hated writing those rejections. I knew that the writers would take them as a sign that the story wasn’t any good, no matter how much I tried to say “I swear to GOD it’s not you, it’s us! We just need something lighter/darker/fantasy/sf this month I SWEAR!!!”

Of course authors take that hard. Because — and here’s the secret — the generic blow-off letter is very similar to a genuine, personal rejection. That similarity is on PURPOSE. It permits everyone to save face. It allows everyone to walk away, dignity intact. But, then, if you get a personal rejection, you understandably might wonder if this is just the blow-off.

I know. It’s hard, and I know.

But here’s what I always wanted every author to do when they received a rejection, whether standard or personalized…..

(16) STRICTLY ROMANCE. The first romance-only bookstore starts in LA. (Strictly speaking, The Ripped Bodice is in Culver City.)

Romance novels are a billion dollar industry, vastly outselling science fiction, mystery and literary books.

And there’s only one rule for writing a romance – it has to have a happy ending.

Yet the romance genre has long been dismissed as smut or trashy by many in, and out, of the publishing world – a fact that mystifies sisters Bea and Leah Koch, who last month opened the US’s first exclusively romantic fiction bookstore.

Their shop in Los Angeles is called The Ripped Bodice, and the store’s motto is “smart girls read romance”.

(17) DEFINING X. They say it’s the intersection of politics and Marvel comics: “A People’s History of the Marvel Universe, Week 9: The Mutant Metaphor (Part I)” at Lawyers, Guns & Money.

A lot of people have discussed the manifold ways in which the “mutant metaphor” is problematic, but what I’m going to argue in this issue is that a big part of the problem with the “mutant metaphor” is that it wasn’t clearly defined from the outset, in part because it wasn’t anywhere close to the dominant thread of X-Men comics.[i] While always an element of the original run, as much time was spent on fighting giant Kirby robots or stopping the likes of Count Nefaria from encasing Washington D.C in a giant crystal bubble. And this was always problematic, because in the shared Marvel Universe, you need to explain why it is that the X-Men are “feared and hated” and must hide beneath the façade of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters in Westchester, whereas the Avengers and the Fantastic Four were treated as celebrities and could live openly on Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue, respectively.

So what did the “mutant” metaphor mean initially?

One of the best ways to understand how the “mutant metaphor” was originally understood is to look at depictions of anti-mutant prejudice. In the early Lee and Kirby run, anti-mutant prejudice is described almost entirely as a mass phenomenon, a collective hysteria that takes hold of large groups of people. You can see this especially in the way that crowds of humans descend into violence in contexts that you wouldn’t normally expect them. Like sports events:…

(18) SKYWALKERED BACK. J. J. Abrams made a little mistake…. CinemaBlend has the story: “Star Wars: J.J. Abrams Backtracks Statement About Rey’s Parents”.

Earlier, J.J. Abrams sat down with Chris Rock at the Tribeca Film Festival to talk about the director’s work in television and film. During the Q&A segment, a young fan asked the identity of Rey’s parents and Abrams said “they aren’t in Episode VII.” This implies that just about every fan theory is wrong, but Entertainment Weekly caught up with Abrams after the show and he was able to clarify his statement:

What I meant was that she doesn’t discover them in Episode VII. Not that they may not already be in her world.

So, Rey’s parents could be somewhere in The Force Awakens as opposed to not being in it at all. That’s a pretty serious backtrack, but it opens the floor back up for fans to come up with theories on the heroine’s lineage. This potentially limits the amount of suspects, but most theories were already focused on Force Awakens characters. There are a few contenders that have risen above the rest, each with there own amount of logic and speculation.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Alan Baumler, Chip Hitchcock, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]