2018 Arthur C. Clarke Award


The winner of the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke Award was announced July 18 in London.

  • Dreams Before the Start of Time – Anne Charnock (47North)

The winner receives a cheque for £2018.00 and the award, a commemorative engraved bookend.

[Thanks to Mark Hepworth for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 7/17/18 Behold A Pale Pixel, And Its Scroller’s Name Was Cat

(1) 100 BELOVED BOOKS. PBS’ series The Great American Read will air it’s “Fall Kick Off” on September 11. The eight-part series explores the power of reading, told through 100 favorite American novels as determined by a national survey.

Promotion for the series includes an incredible set of travel poster-style ads for some of the titles, many of them genre works, like these —

PBS also has created a downloadable reading checklist of the hundred titles [PDF file].

(2) STRAIGHT OUTTA SWEDEN. Simon Stålenhag’s paintings will be the inspiration for a TV series: “Amazon Orders Sci-Fi Series ‘Tales From the Loop’”.

Amazon has given a series order to “Tales From the Loop,” a science fiction drama from “Legion” writer Nathaniel Halpern. The project is a co-production with Fox 21 Television Studios.

“Tales From the Loop” is based on the art of, whose paintings blend elements of futuristic science fiction with images of rural life in the Sweden.

“Simon Stålenhag’s paintings are renowned for their vision of a not-too-distant, futuristic landscape. We are looking forward to bringing that to life and sharing it with our Prime Video audience,” said Albert Cheng, co-head of television, Amazon Studios.

(3) GALILEO WOULD BE IMPRESSED. National Geographic explains the discovery of “12 New Moons Found Orbiting Jupiter”.

In a curveball of cosmic proportions, astronomers went looking for a hypothetical planet on the far fringes of our solar system, and instead found 12 new moons dancing around Jupiter.

To be clear, these moons are no Ganymede, the largest moon in the solar system. They’re tiny, some barely a mile across, and they are tracing all kinds of weird paths around the giant world.

…Normally, spotting new moons around Jupiter is quite difficult. Anything small enough to still be hiding from our view is quite faint, and tracking those dim dots requires powerful telescopes that often have too small a field of view to capture the entire Jovian system. To make matters worse, Jupiter is quite bright, and its glare can obscure tiny moons.

But last year, the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Scott Sheppard and his colleagues were hunting a faraway planet rumored to orbit beyond Pluto—a planet so large its gravitational heft rearranges the orbits of smaller, distant objects. So, the team aimed a telescope at Chile’s Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory at the star fields surrounding our cosmic neighborhood, looking for faraway pinpricks of light moving in solar orbits.

(4) JAMES WEBB TELESCOPE COULD HAVE ROCKET ISSUES. The latest slips in the James Webb Space Telescope schedule have it launching no earlier than March 2021. The plan all along has been to use an Ariane 5 launch vehicle (in fact, key aspects of the JWST design were customized for the Ariane 5), which has a planned end of life in 2022. Ars Technica notes that any further slips in the JWST schedule could begin to threaten availability of the launcher. Quoting the article (emphasis added):

Back in 2015, when NASA formally reached an agreement with Arianespace to launch on the Ariane 5 rocket, the projected launch date was 2018. NASA partnered with the European Space Agency and its affiliated rocket company for the launch to keep costs down. Essentially, Europe provided a rocket in exchange for some of the observing time. The telescope’s massive heat shield was then designed to fold 12 times to fit within the Ariane 5’s payload fairing.

Last year […] the telescope’s launch date was delayed into 2019 […] [Now the] launch has since been delayed twice more: first into 2020 and then into 2021. The Ariane 5 can still launch during these years. Further delays, however, may prove problematic.
According to Alain Charmeau, who as the head of Ariane Group oversees a family of launch vehicles including the Ariane 5, European states have created a transition plan to the Ariane 6. A separate launch pad is being constructed at the European spaceport in French Guiana for the Ariane 6, and this will allow the Ariane 5 to continue flying for a few more years—but not indefinitely.

“One can back up the other one,” he told Ars. “We will have the Ariane 5 for at least until the end of 2022, but it’s not clear cut. If we need to have another launch in 2023, we can extend it, it is just a matter of maintaining the team and maintaining the infrastructure. But our plan today is to start Ariane 6 in 2020, and stop Ariane 5 at the end of 2022.”

(5) OVERLY FRESH PRINCE. Mashable reports “Will Smith tries to make out with Sophia the robot, and it does not go well”.

Budding YouTuber Will Smith isn’t afraid to churn out some weird content on his channel, including an attempt at getting frisky with a humanoid.

In his most recent clip, Smith sets himself on a date in the Cayman Islands with Sophia the robot, a humanoid robot from Hanson Robotics that uses artificial intelligence to interact with humans. After a few awkward moments and some burns from Sophia to Smith, he leans in for a kiss, and well, gets denied.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 17, 1955 — Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California.
  • July 17, 1987 Robocop debuted.
  • July 17, 1992 Honey, I Blew Up The Kid premiered.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born July 17 – Donald Sutherland, 83. Genre roles in the Hunger Games films, Billion Dollar BrainInvasion of the Body Snatchers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, And the Salem’s Lot series to name a few.  His first genre role was apparently in the 1964 Castle of The Living Dead.
  • Born July 17 – David Hasselhoff, 66. Genre roles in the Knight Rider franchise, Nick Fury: Agent of Shield film, as the title characters in Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical, and in Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2.
  • Born July 17 – Jason Clarke, 49. Roles in the now filming version of Pet Sematary, Farscape series, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and it  First Man, a look at the life of Neil Armstrong.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Brewster Rockit is getting a lot of mileage from making puns on the name Space Force, like here and here.

(9) NOT JUST A PIE IN THE SKY IDEA. John King Tarpinian urged me to give you enough notice of the time and date when Neil Armstrong took his first step on the Moon — Friday, July 20 @ 7:56 p.m. PDT.  (3:56 a.m. GMT) – so you can plan your own ceremonial observance for the anniversary. John’s already been doing his for years – eating a Moon Pie.

(10) NO PROBLEM, THEY’RE GOING AT NIGHT. NASA touts its “Parker Solar Probe: Humanity’s First Visit to a Star”.

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe will be the first-ever mission to “touch” the Sun. The spacecraft, about the size of a small car, will travel directly into the Sun’s atmosphere about 4 million miles from our star’s surface. Launch is slated for summer 2018.

  • Launch Window: July 31 – Aug.  19, 2018
  • Launch Site: NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida
  • Launch Vehicle: Delta IV-Heavy with Upper Stage

In order to unlock the mysteries of the Sun’s atmosphere, Parker Solar Probe will use Venus’ gravity during seven flybys over nearly seven years to gradually bring its orbit closer to the Sun. The spacecraft will fly through the Sun’s atmosphere as close as 3.8 million miles to our star’s surface, well within the orbit of Mercury and more than seven times closer than any spacecraft has come before. (Earth’s average distance to the Sun is 93 million miles.)

Flying into the outermost part of the Sun’s atmosphere, known as the corona, for the first time, Parker Solar Probe will employ a combination of in situ measurements and imaging to revolutionize our understanding of the corona and expand our knowledge of the origin and evolution of the solar wind. It will also make critical contributions to our ability to forecast changes in Earth’s space environment that affect life and technology on Earth.

(11) SHUT UP AND KEEP SWIMMING. “Rising Seas Could Cause Problems For Internet Infrastructure” — bad enough that your home is gone — you won’t be able to blog about it either.

…The dense network of cables that make up the Internet is likely to be inundated with saltwater as sea levels rise, a new analysis suggests, putting thousands of miles of critical infrastructure along U.S. coastlines underwater in the next 15 years.

“It is actually the wires and the hardware that make the Internet run,” explains Ramakrishnan Durairajan, a computer scientist at the University of Oregon and an author of the research. The analysis estimates under the most severe model for sea level rise that more than 4,000 miles of fiber optic cable along U.S. coastlines will be underwater by the early 2030s.

The Internet is particularly susceptible to flooding because data travels through underground cables buried along roadways and through tunnels. While the massive deep sea cables that carry data under the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are designed to be permanently underwater, other infrastructure such as copper wiring and power stations are not.

(12) LONG BEFORE THE EARL OF SANDWICH. “Prehistoric bake-off: Scientists discover oldest evidence of bread” — previous evidence was 9,000 years.

Scientists have discovered the earliest known evidence of bread-making, from a 14,000-year-old dig site.

The bake would have looked like a flatbread and tasted a bit like today’s multi-grain varieties, they say.

Our ancestors may have used the bread as a wrap for roasted meat. Thus, as well as being the oldest bread, it may also have been the oldest sandwich.

The find, from the Black Desert in Jordan, pushes back the first evidence for bread by more than 5,000 years.

(13) ROOTS. Popular Mechanics doubts these will ever be on the market, though — “Scientists Find ‘Quadrillions’ of Tons of Diamonds Beneath Earth’s Surface”.

Deep beneath the Earth’s surface, there’s a gigantic cache of diamonds, according to new research. While it’s unlikely that we’ll ever be able to obtain these diamonds, knowing that they’re there helps us learn more about our own planet and what it’s made of.

To discover what lies beneath the surface, scientists can’t simply look with their eyes. Instead, they use sound waves and listen. Unlike light, sound can travel through solid rock, and by listening closely scientists can learn a great deal about what the inside of the Earth is like.

Typically, these sounds come from earthquakes or volcanic explosions, and by studying the resulting seismic waves scientists can determine what materials lie underground. One group of scientists was studying a strange anomaly that occurs when these seismic waves pass through underground structures called cratonic roots. These structures are ancient, highly dense rock formations shaped like inverted mountains that lie hundreds of miles beneath most tectonic plates.

Because these rock formations are so dense, sound waves move much faster through thes cratonic roots than through most other rock. But for some reason, many of the seismic waves measured over the last few decades move even faster than predicted. A group of scientists, led by MIT scientist Ulrich Faul, suspected that some material inside the cratonic roots was speeding up these waves.

(14) DON’T WASTE THE OPPORTUNITY. NASA wants your help taking out the trash. Well, “you” if you’re an aerospace development company. SYFY Wire has an article (If we’re going to go to Mars, this is how we’ll have to deal with trash) discussing NASA’s initiative to get industry help with the trash issue:

NASA wants to figure out how to get rid of all those freeze-dried food wrappers (and everything else) way before we land on Mars or venture into deep space. The space agency just announced that it will be seeking concepts for trashing space garbage through its NextSTEP program, so they can find new ways to compact and process trash so the waste situation.

Using the ISS, which sees literally tons of trash every year, as a testing ground for methods of waste management is the most obvious way to prepare for extended stays away from Earth. The floating space station already receives around 13 tons of supplies from cargo resupply missions every year, and periodically sends around 2 tons back to Earth in a commercial supply vehicle that either brings it to the surface or lets it burn up in the atmosphere.

NASA’s announcement (NASA Seeks New Ways to Handle Trash for Deep Space Missions) says that development will be in two phases, but companies must be prepared to invest some of their own funds. Quoting the NASA announcement:

In Phase A, selected companies will create a concept trash compaction and processing system, conduct design reviews with NASA, and validate concepts through prototype ground demonstrations. Throughout this phase, the companies may request use of NASA facilities to conduct subsystem tests. In Phase B, a flight unit will be developed to demonstrate a system aboard the space station as early as 2022.

Inherent with the NextSTEP partnership model, private companies must contribute their own corporate resources toward the development of their trash compaction and processing systems. In this case, responders are required to show a minimum of 20 percent contribution toward the overall development cost, or 10 percent for small businesses.

(15) STRAIGHT ARROW. Robin Hood , in theaters November 21.

Robin of Loxley (Taron Egerton) a war-hardened Crusader and his Moorish commander (Jamie Foxx) mount an audacious revolt against the corrupt English crown in a thrilling action-adventure packed with gritty battlefield exploits, mind-blowing fight choreography, and a timeless romance.

 

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

SDCC Code of Conduct Still Deficient

Comic-Con International starts in San Diego on Thursday. Associated Press reporter Lindsay Bahr’s preview article, “1st Comic-Con of the MeToo era grapples with harassment”, picked up by papers like the Miami Herald, outlines the con’s historic harassment issues and turnover in this year’s guest list, but also speaks uncritically about the SDCC Code of Conduct. The SDCC CoC has not had a good reputation in the past — see for example the 2014 post “San Diego Comic-Con Pushes Back on Harassment Policy Petition” — and I reached out for comments on its current deficiencies for this File 770 post.

The AP article says —

…The convention has always been a home for comic book and genre enthusiasts, and a refuge for like-minded fans to mingle, but it’s also been a place rife with harassment of women and others, whether it’s cosplayers (people who dress up in costumes), general attendees or even those hawking merchandise (sometimes called “booth babes”).

“I don’t think any convention has historically been a safe or inviting space for women,” says Cher Martinetti, the managing editor of SYFY Wire’s Fangrrls site.

Sexual harassment at fan conventions is a subject that is often raised, but the scrutiny will be even more intense this year with the heightened awareness about misconduct.

Just weeks ago, Nerdist founder Chris Hardwick, a mainstay at Comic-Con and moderator of numerous panels, stepped aside from moderating AMC and BBC America panels amid allegations from an ex-girlfriend , which Hardwick has denied. And since last fall a handful of familiar Comic-Con faces, have been accused of misconduct as well, like Ain’t It Cool News founder Harry Knowles and “Honest Trailers” creator Andy Signore.

Comic-Con has a code of conduct that representatives say was, “Intentionally created to serve as a comprehensive measure that makes attendee safety a priority.

“We want all participants to feel if they are treated in a manner that makes them uncomfortable, that there is a system in place that will respond to misconduct and sexual harassment,” Comic-Con International told The Associated Press in a statement Sunday.

According to the code, attendees must “respect commonsense rules for public behavior” and “personal interaction” and that “harassing or offensive behavior will not be tolerated.” The code specifies that anyone who feels at risk should report it to a security person or a staff member and outlines the location of the show office in the San Diego Convention Center, which is open during show hours. Anyone who violates the code is at risk of losing their pass….

The Comic-Con International convention Code of Conduct reads:

Attendees must respect commonsense rules for public behavior, personal interaction, common courtesy, and respect for private property. Harassing or offensive behavior will not be tolerated. Comic-Con reserves the right to revoke, without refund, the membership and badge of any attendee not in compliance with this policy. Persons finding themselves in a situation where they feel their safety is at risk or who become aware of an attendee not in compliance with this policy should immediately locate the nearest member of security, or staff member, so that the matter can be handled in an expeditious manner.

The Comic-Con Show Office is located in the lobby of Hall E of the San Diego Convention Center. During show hours you can always find a Comic-Con staff member or security guard at the Show Office. Please stop by there if you have any questions or concerns.

Four people who answered my call made these observations about the Code of Conduct.

A.G. Carpenter

The flaws with the Comic-con’s approach seem obvious, but here are my immediate (and general) thoughts about it.

I went and read through the actual policies page and, in addition to the Code of Conduct being woefully short and vague, there are no policies that address what “commonsense rules” for public behavior, interaction, etc actually looks like. Nothing to address videotaping or taking photos of people in public or private spaces. (They have two different policies regarding not recording panels/panelists or any images or video footage being presented because proprietary and exclusive, blahblahblah.) Nothing about asking permission to hug strangers or touch them or put your arm around someone for a photograph. Nothing about what harassing or offensive behavior means.

I mean, sure – you can’t write out *everything* that would be problematic. And things that are an issue for some folks won’t be for others. But by giving no examples it leaves the door wide open for abuse. (“I didn’t know they’d mind if I snapped this photo of her bending over.” “All my friends let me hug them, it’s no big deal.”) And it means that folks who are having problems will be even more reluctant to report them because they won’t know if the staffer they approach for assistance will take them seriously because there are no written guidelines about what the convention considers inappropriate. Of course, not writing anything down also lets the con off the hook if something with a higher profile guest happens because they could claim that there was no violation of written policy. Which does make the obvious omission of anything looking like an actual Code of Conduct seem suspicious.

Nchanter

Taking a quick look over the Code of Conduct on the convention website, the glaring omission here to me, other than the Code of Conduct being a little vague (no attempt at defining “common sense rules”), is any sort of information about what to expect when one makes a report, or what will happen after a report is made.  Lack of evidence that there is a post report process concerns me, as does the fact that there is no number to call in case going to the show office would not be a safe option.

Karl-Johan Norén

I’m far from a code of conduct expert, and even less so in working on enforcing them (I’m one of the last fen I know who I know should be put into that spot). But having read some code of conducts, discussed them sometimes, and seen a few incidents play out, I can give the following comments.

The code of conduct has some things in its favour: it is brief, it contains no parts that obviously contradict its purpose, and it gives the right to rescind memberships. If this was a small con, with maybe a couple hundred attendees, with no prior history of harassment, and known good people in the concom, this would be a workable CoC. And it does not contain the dread “your right not to be harassed is not a right not to be offended” clause.

Its deficiencies are in the things that are not said, because none of those three factors above are likely true for SDCC.

(1) No dedicated chains for reporting harassment. Handling harassment cases beyond any initial intervention is psychologically tricky at the best of times. The only con security people I’d trust to have a clue here are the Finnish ones. A con the size of SDCC should list a phone number, e-mail account, and at least physical point of contact dedicated to CoC issues. These points of contact should be heavily promoted (I’d not be averse to putting at least the phone number on the badge itself). Given SDCC’s size, the phone should probably be staffed 24/7 during the con, not only during show hours.

(2) There are no promises from the con regarding how CoC issues will be handled. Granted, the CoC itself is not the place where one should detail instructions to staff, but it should at least: (a) give a promise of confidentiality and discretion from the con towards the person reporting the issue, (b) outline the assistance and help the con can or will provide.

(3) The highest sanction the con reserves is to rescind a membership. Arguably, it should mention contacting the authorities as well, even if it is only like “we will assist any person wishing to contact the authorities, and assist the authorities in any following investigation”. I know US police are far worse than the Swedish police (which also have a poor historical track record), but the con might find itself dealing with cases of reported rape or sexual assault.

(4) No specific guidelines regarding cosplay or photography, nor any examples (clearly not limited to the list itself) of what the con sees as harassing behaviour.

John Scalzi says the CoC is why he keeps passing on chances to attend the convention:

The SDCC’s code never offers examples of what it considers harassing or inappropriate behavior (see the code of conduct at New York Comic Con as an example of a good version of explaining what it is) — it’s all a judgement call by whomever is taking the complaint, and it allows harassers more wiggle room than they should have. That’s not acceptable to me, and it’s one reason I haven’t been back to SDCC in several years.

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter for the story.]

Johan Anglemark’s 2018 TAFF Itinerary

Johan Anglemark

Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate Johan Anglemark will soon leave Sweden on a journey that ultimately will take him to Worldcon 76 in San Jose.

TAFF co-administrator John Purcell announced Anglemark’s itinerary in a special news release:

Hear ye, hear ye! You better run, you better hide! Johan Anglemark is coming! He has set up his travel plans, lining up places to see and people to stay with. All in all, I envy Johan as he is about to embark on a life-changing event.

As it turns out, he can’t wait to attend Worldcon 76 so he is attending two other conventions to prepare himself: Finncon in Turku, Finland (July 14-15), and then ArmadilloCon 40 in Austin, Texas (August 3-5). Eventually he will wend his way out to San Jose, California for Worldcon 76.

Here are the salient points of his journey within North America:

25-JUL Dep Stockholm Arlanda 13:40 on FI309
Arr Reykjavik Keflavik 14:55
Dep Reykjavik Keflavik 17:00 on FI603
Arr Toronto Pearson 18:55
26-JUL Staying with Catherine Crockett & Colin Hinz
27-JUL Staying with Catherine Crockett & Colin Hinz
28-JUL Staying with Catherine Crockett & Colin Hinz
29-JUL Dep Toronto Pearson 14:45 on AC7733
Arr St Paul Intl 15:54
30-JUL Staying with Joyce S.
31-JUL Staying with Joyce S.
1-AUG Staying with Joyce S.
2-AUG Dep St Paul Intl 14:10 on UA6325
Arr Houston George Bush Intl. 16:59
3-AUG Staying with John & Valerie P.
4-AUG Armadillocon, Austin
5-AUG Armadillocon, Austin
6-AUG Staying with John & Valerie P.
7-AUG Staying with John & Valerie P.
8-AUG Dep Houston George Bush Intl. 16:36 on UA1792
Arr Seattle Tacoma Intl 19:20
9-AUG Staying in Vonda M’s guest apartment
10-AUG Staying in Vonda M’s guest apartment
11-AUG Staying in Vonda M’s guest apartment
12-AUG Dep Seattle Tacoma Intl 13:55 on AS330
Arr San Jose Municipal 16:07
13-AUG Staying with Sten and Evangeline T.
14-AUG Staying with Sten and Evangeline T.
15-AUG Staying with Sten and Evangeline T.
16-AUG Worldcon 76, San Jose
17-AUG Worldcon 76, San Jose
18-AUG Worldcon 76, San Jose
19-AUG Worldcon 76, San Jose
20-AUG Worldcon 76, San Jose
21-AUG Staying with some fan or in hotel (TBD)
22-AUG Dep Oakland Intl. 18:10 on DY7068
23-AUG Arr Stockholm Arlanda 13:15

N3F Award Winners for 2018

The National Fantasy Fan Federation announced several awards and honors in the latest issue of the organization’s newsletter Tightbeam.

2018 NEFFY AWARDS

The National Fantasy Fan Federation Speculative Fiction Awards, called the Neffy Awards, have been given annually since 2005.

Best Novel

  • Princess Holy Aura by Ryk Spoor

Best Shorter Work

  • “And Then There Were (N-One)” by Sarah Pinsker

Best Book Editor

  • Toni Weisskopf

Best Film

  • Thor: Ragnarok

Best Fanzine

  • Tightbeam

Best Blog

  • Mad Genius Club

Best TV Show

  • Supergirl

Best Anime

  • The Ancient Magus Bride

Best Graphic Art Publication

  • Jean Grey

LIFE MEMBER

  • Jon Swartz

By vote of the Directorate, N3F Historian Jon Swartz has been elected as a Life Member of the N3F. He joins long-time Life Member Jacqueline Lichtenberg in this role.

2018 KAYMAR AWARD

  • Cedar Sanderson

The Kaymar Award is given for work for the benefit of the club and its members. The recipient is decided by a vote of prior winners. The award, which may only be won once, is a memorial to long-time Neffer K. Martin Carlson (1904-1986) who originated, maintained, and financed it for 25 years.

Update: Corrected title of Spoor novel — which was wrong in the Tightbeam announcement.

 

Video Essay Roundup

Compiled by Carl Slaughter: That video essay contrasting Thanos in the comics with Thanos in the movies veered off into a contrast between Iron Man and Captain America.  Iron Man is a rationalist, trying to outmaneuver Thanos; Captain America is a romanticist, trying to overwhelm Thanos with raw power and courage; just as comic book Thano is a romanticist, trying to impress the woman he’s wooing, and movie Thanos is a rationalist, trying to solve an overpopulation problem.

Dave Cullen has some good insight into the betrayal of Star Trek main characters in J.J. Abrams films.  Abrams portrays Kirk as debonair, promiscuous, and crafty.  So I thought he nailed that character.  But Abrams also portrays Kirk as reckless and full of self-doubt.  Such a portrayal betrays the Kirk character as a natural-born leader.  Abrams portrays Spock as stoic, logical, and stern.  So, again, I though he nailed the character.  But Abrams also portrays Spock as given to emotional and violent outbursts.  The Roddenberry Spock struggles to control his human side.  The Abrams Spock is borderline psychotic.  The Roddenberry Spock makes an effort to understand people whose actions he disproves of.  The Abrams Spock just reacts to people.

Takes this reviewer a while to get around to it, but he finally points out that the sequels shift from exploration of dinos to hunt/exploit dinos.  Also, interesting trivia, the author of the novel sold the rights to the unfinished manuscript to the studio for 7 digits on Spielberg’s endorsement.

Pixel Scroll 7/16/18 Now With Bolded Typos

(1) GONE WITH THE YUAN. The most expensive film ever made in China bombed and is already out of theaters. The Hollywood Reporter has the story — “China’s First $100M Film Pulled From Cinemas After Disastrous Opening Weekend”.

In the long lead-up to its release, Chinese fantasy epic Asura was promoted as China’s most expensive film ever made, with a production budget of over $110 million (750 million yuan). So perhaps it’s unsurprising that the film’s producers, which include Jack Ma’s Alibaba Pictures, decided to take desperate action after the movie opened to just $7.1 million over the weekend.

Late Sunday evening in Beijing, Asura‘s official social media accounts posted a simple statement saying that the film would be pulled from cinemas as of 10 p.m. local time. After landing in theaters with limited fanfare, China’s priciest picture ever would vanish from the scene entirely.

Asura is co-produced by Zhenjian Film Studio and Ningxia Film Group — two of the investors behind the successful Painted Skin fantasy franchise — along with Alibaba Pictures Group and other minority investors.

The statement announcing Asura‘s retreat from cinemas supplied no explanation for the unprecedented move. But a representative from Zhenjian Film, which is credited as lead producer, later told Chinese news site Sina: “This decision was made not only because of the bad box office. We plan to make some changes to the film and release it again.”

Chinese site Sixth Tone tells it this way: “Epic Budget, Epic Fail: Chinese Blockbuster ‘Asura’ Tanks”.

China’s latest fantasy epic, “Asura,” claimed to be the most expensive domestic production to date — but it didn’t even last three days in cinemas.

Six years in the making, the film was planned as the first of a trilogy based on ancient Tibetan mythology. The Alibaba Pictures production promised lush CGI from an award-winning, international team in its depiction of war between two heavenly realms. Marketing campaigns for the film emphasized its budget of $100 million.

But after opening on Friday, the film made a mere $7.1 million over its first weekend. By contrast, “Hidden Man,” a highly anticipated action-thriller by actor and director Jiang Wen, brought in $46.5 million. Meanwhile “Dying to Survive,” a dark comedy about cancer drug smuggling operations, defended its box office lead, racking up $68.5 million on its second weekend and even prompting a spike in online insurance sales.

Aggregate user ratings of “Asura” varied wildly across China’s two biggest ticketing platforms, Tencent-funded Maoyan and Alibaba-owned Tao Piaopiao, earning 4.9 and 8.4 out of 10, respectively. Users of review platform Douban rated the film a miserable 3.1 out of 10.

(2) EFFECTS OF COMIC CON PROLIFERATION. Heidi MacDonald tells Publishers Weekly readers why “In a World of Too Many Cons, San Diego Is Still King”.

An ever-increasing number of comics and pop culture conventions are taxing publishers’ exhibition budgets and turning artists into nomads, on the road signing autographs in a different city or country every weekend….

Indeed, the expanding comics convention schedule is beginning to tax publisher budgets while turning comics creators into a hardened (and often exhausted) group of road warriors who must trek to a different city every weekend.

As more and more events flood the schedule, publishers and creators alike are developing new strategies for dealing with the demands for their time. And the conventions are beginning to evolve, some developing business models to stay above the pack of newly launched shows, while others, including many poorly planned and financed events, are becoming synonymous with disaster, poor attendance, canceled events, and disappointed fans.

“The number of cons has really exploded over the last five years,” says Martha Donato, president of MAD Events Management, which puts on the Long Beach Comic Con every September, along with other shows. “It’s [become] every city, every weekend, all year, globally.”

Even for a location such as Long Beach, Calif., close to many West Coast comics publishers, the competition for guest artists and publisher-exhibitors has become fierce, she says. “A much bigger percentage of our time, energy, and resources are now devoted to getting exhibitors to attend,” she adds. “Talent and their publishers have many more offers than they could ever accept, even if they wanted to.”

Donato’s show gets support from publishers in Los Angeles, including Top Cow and Aspen, but even loyal exhibitors have to pick and choose. “Publishers are facing a deluge of opportunities and they can afford to be choosy,” says Donato. “There’s a lot of saying no.”

(3) RECASTING MUPPETS MOVIES. The most selfless answer is….

(4) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 16, 1955 Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe premiered on the small screen
  • July 16, 1958The Fly creeped the heck out of everybody…”Help Me…Help Me.”
  • July 16, 2005 — The 6th book in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series sold 6.9 million copies in its first 24 hours.

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born July 16, 1928 – Robert Sheckley
  • Born July 16 – Will Ferrell, 51. Holmes in the forthcoming comedy Holmes and Watson film,  HerculesHappily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every ChildCurious George and The Last Man on Earth series.
  • Born July 16 – Corey Feldman, 47. Genre roles in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film series, the animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,Tales from the Crypt and The Crow: Stairway to Heaven series to name but a few of his files.
  • Born July 16 – Rose Salazar, 33. Genre work includes American Horror StoryMaze Runner: The Death Cure, and Batman: Arkham Origins video game.

(6) COMICS SECTION.

  • Updating a Kafka classic at Bizarro.

(7) THE TIDE IS IN. Camestros Felapton continues scoping out the Hugo nominees: “Review: The Black Tides of Heaven (Novella) J.Y.Yang”.

As I said above, I found the second half easier to engage with than the first. It focuses more on Akeha, the surpising “spare” half of the twins, who in post-adolesence decides to be confirmed as a male (gender is assigned post-childhood in this world). Fate, prophercy, control and inevitability (whether magical or political) play out as important themes but, again, I think their impact as ideas get lost amid the scale of the story.

(8) IN ORDER. Mark Kaedrin gives his rankings and his reasons — “Hugo Awards: Short Stories”.

In the past five years of reading Hugo nominated short stories, I think I’ve enjoyed about 2-3 of the stories quite a bit. That’s… not a very good batting average. For whatever reason, I always find that this category just fills up with stories that don’t work for me. True, several puppy trolling nominations made the cut, which didn’t help (for example: they nominated SF-themed erotica two years in a row, and then another that was a bad parody of a bad story, etc…), but even the stories I liked weren’t that great. I’ve always chalked that up to this category having the lowest barrier to entry. It doesn’t take a whole lot of time or effort to seek out a bunch of short stories (mostly available for free online too), so the nominations are spread far and wide. There used to be a requirement that a finalist had to have at least 5% of the nominations in order to be considered, which often resulted in a small category because most stories couldn’t clear that bar. So basically, the stories that do make it here rarely have wide appeal. That being said, this year’s nominees are actually a pretty congenial bunch. I don’t actually hate any of the stories, even if a few don’t quite tweak me the way I’d like (even those are pretty good though). I do still find it hard to believe that these are the actual best short fiction of the year, but I’ll take this over the past 4 years’ worth of nominations. However, I do think it’s telling that at least one story on the 1942 Retro Hugos ballot, Proof by Hal Clement, is far better than any of these nominees, which I think says something (I’d have to read/reread a couple of the other 1942 finalists to be sure, but I suspect that ballot is more my speed). Anyway, let’s get to it….

(9) CURRENT EVENTS. And don’t forget this year’s fiction. Rocket Stack Rank hasn’t — “July 2018 Ratings”. Greg Hullender summarizes:

We posted our monthly ratings last night. It was a typical month, with 11 stories recommended (with 4 or 5 stars) out of 72 (expected would be 11 to 13).

We recommended 4 stories from F&SF, 3 from Asimov’s,  2 from Analog had 2. The other two were in Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Lightspeed. Over time, the three print and seven online magazines we follow split the recommendations 50/50 (not counting stand-alone novellas or original anthologies), and the print magazines only come out 6 times a year, so this isn’t quite as lopsided as it looks, but it was definitely a good month for the traditional three magazines.

(10) START YOUR COCKY CAREER. This article on “Cocky-gate” also seems to be a great blueprint for how to use Kindle Unlimited to give you a 6-figure salary. Let The Verge tell you about it: “Bad Romance”.

…The fight over #Cockygate, as it was branded online, emerged from the strange universe of Amazon Kindle Unlimited, where authors collaborate and compete to game Amazon’s algorithm. Trademark trolling is just the beginning: There are private chat groups, ebook exploits, conspiracies to seed hyperspecific trends like “Navy SEALs” and “mountain men,” and even a controversial sweepstakes in which a popular self-published author offered his readers a chance to win diamonds from Tiffany’s if they reviewed his new book.

Much of what’s alleged is perfectly legal, and even technically within Amazon’s terms of service. But for authors and fans, the genre is also a community, and the idea that unethical marketing and algorithmic tricks are running rampant has embroiled their world in controversy. Some authors even believe that the financial incentives set up by Kindle Unlimited are reshaping the romance genre — possibly even making it more misogynistic.

A genre that mostly features shiny, shirtless men on its covers and sells ebooks for 99 cents a pop might seem unserious. But at stake are revenues sometimes amounting to a million dollars a year, with some authors easily netting six figures a month. The top authors can drop $50,000 on a single ad campaign that will keep them in the charts — and see a worthwhile return on that investment….

(11) THEY’VE GOT ‘RITHIM. Or you can try this route–sell your old pb’s for hundreds or thousands of dollars each on Amazon. The New York Times has the story: “Amazon’s Curious Case of the $2,630.52 Used Paperback”.

Even a casual browse through the virtual corridors of Amazon reveals an increasingly bizarre bazaar where the quaint policies of physical bookstores — the stuff no one wants is piled on a cart outside for a buck a volume — are upended. John Sladek, who wrote perceptive science fiction about robotics and artificial intelligence, predicted in a 1975 story that computers might start making compelling but false connections:

If you’re trying to reserve a seat on the plane to Seville, you’d get a seat at the opera instead. While the person who wants the opera seat is really just making an appointment with a barber, whose customer is just then talking to the box-office of “Hair,” or maybe making a hairline reservation …

Mr. Sladek, who died in 2000, is little read now, which naturally means his books are often marketed for inordinate sums on Amazon. One of his mystery novels, “Invisible Green,” has a Red Rhino “buy box” — Amazon’s preferred deal — offering it for $664.

That is a real bargain compared with what a bookseller with the improbable name Supersonic Truck is asking: $1,942. (Copies from other booksellers are as little as $30.) Supersonic Truck, which Amazon says has 100 percent positive ratings, did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Ms. Macgillivray, who has published eight novels, said she had been poking around Amazon’s bookstore and was more perplexed than ever by the pricing.

“There’s nothing illegal about someone listing an item for sale at whatever the market will bear, even if they don’t have the book but plan to buy it when someone orders it,” she said. “At the same time, I would think Amazon wouldn’t want their platform used for less than honorable practices.”

(12) READERCON PORTRAITS. Paul Di Filippo shares photos of “Some Members of Fictionmags Attending Readercon 2018 “ at The Inferior 4.

In order of appearance: Ellen Datlow, Fred Lerner, Gary Wolfe, George Morgan, Gordon van Gelder, Henry Wessells, Jess Nevins, Michael Dirda, Peter Halasz, Scott Andrews, Scott Edelman, Sheila Williams, Steve Dooner, Mark Walsh.

(13) ONCE MORE WITH FEELING. And Daniel Dern covered the non-human population at ReaderCon, photographing this “alternative SJW credential.”

An ‘edge-‘og (hedgehog). (Not mine.)

Yeah, the SF context isn’t visible, would you take my word for it?

(14) ICE DELIVERY. NPR tells what it’s like for locals: “Massive Iceberg Looms Over A Village In Greenland”.

The photographs are stunning: a giant mountain of ice towers over a tiny village, with colorful homes reminiscent of little doll houses against the stark, blue-gray landscape.

But for the people living in those houses – that beauty could be life-threatening.

“It’s kind of like, if you lived in the suburbs, and you woke up one morning and looked out, and there was a skyscraper next to your house,” says David Holland, an oceanographer at New York University who does research in Greenland during the summer months. “I’d be the first to get out of there.”

He says that’s why authorities have taken action to evacuate those living closest to the water from the village of Innaarsuit, where the iceberg has parked itself just off the coast. According to the BBC, the village has just 169 residents.

(15) THE IMPORTANCE OF POORFEADING. “Harry, it s***s” — just not quite so badly: “Aliens killed by spelling mistake in 2013 Colonial Marines game”.

An infamously dreadful 2013 Aliens video game is now believed to have fallen victim to the most chilling of threats in the universe: a typo.

Aliens: Colonial Marines was released on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 to terrible reviews.

Many of them mentioned how badly the artificial intelligence (AI) behaved.

But it has now emerged that a single stray “a” in the game’s code may have been to blame.

Videos on YouTube show the game’s AI characters – the aliens and human teammates the player doesn’t control – ignoring threats, shooting wildly at nothing or standing in the line of fire.

(16) EARLY BRADBURY. David Doering has been digging through ancient fanzines and found a curiosity: “Here’s a little gift for you: a verse by Ray Bradbury himself–likely never before reprinted in the history of, well, like poetry or something. And maybe for some reason…”

VERSE OF THE IMAGI-NATION

“TIs a Sinema”
by Ray Bradbury

I think that I shall never see
Flash Gordon as he ought to be.
Midst growls of pain & awful lafter
each Saturday I see a chapter.
I cannot bear to see him more
for he Is really such a bore.

& Tarzan! too, is all so poor:
A shrinking violet demure
who beats upon his frazzled chest
& turns his puss into the west
to roar defiance with…”Fresh fish!
–I think that he’s a lousy dish…

From: Imagination, v. 1, issue 11, whole no. 11, August 1938

[Thanks to David Doering, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, StephenfromOttawa, Brian Z., Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Greg Hullender, Bill Burns, John King Tarpinian, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mix Mat.]

Pixel Scroll 7/15/18 Old Filer’s Scroll Of Practical Pixels

(1) AMERICA’S FAVORITE DOCTOR. Welby? Casey? Kildare? Guess Who….? Thursday on BBC America:

Have TARDIS, will time travel: The new special “Doctor Who: The Lost Episode” uses remastered footage and new animation to reconstruct an unfinished 1970s-era tale from the venerable British science fiction drama penned by “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” author Douglas Adams and starring Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor. 8 p.m. BBC America

(2) DEAL ALL THE CARDS. The Doctor figures in “The Pigs in Space” sketch at The Muppets Take the O2 (Arena) show, too.

(3) TASTE TEST. Cat Rambo turns in another sweet critique to The Green Man Review: “The Prettiest Candy: Albanese World’s Best Mini Gummi Butterflies”.

Having recently discovered that my favorite gummi bears were possibly made with child labor, I went looking for a substitute recently and picked up a bag of Albanese Mini Gummi Butterflies.

Candy is often not pretty, particularly when chocolate is involved, but these candies, shaped like butterflies, look like little stained glass jewels. The flavors are blue raspberry, cherry, grape, green apple, orange, and strawberry, with the usual scheme of color vaguely indicating flavor….

(4) SHADOW CLARKE JURY DELIBERATIONS. Fell a little behind linking to these posts…..

…I went a bit overboard (OH GOD HELP I CAN’T STOP) but you get the point. There’s a completely functional and immensely fun version of this story that puts it solidly in the Hunger Games/Limetown bracket of ‘tough heroic female lead discovers something terrible and vows to defeat it.’ I love stories like those, especially when they’re folded into this kind of post-apocalyptic subset of fiction.

But what Curtis does here is untidier, harder to achieve, newer and ultimately more rewarding. Nerissa is living day to day after losing everything, so she isn’t party to what would be the central plot in a more traditional dystopia. The parts she discovers, especially the transhumanism elements of the final act, feel earned and contextualized precisely because she discovers them when she does….

 As I said when making my selection of books to review for the Shadow Clarke, I didn’t expect to see Ian McDonald’s Luna: Wolf Moon on the shortlist. Having read it, I don’t have any direct criticism of the Clarke jury for neglecting it but that is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the novel. In fact, I enjoyed it very much and also its predecessor, Luna: New Moon, which I read immediately beforehand. That, of course, is one of the problems with considering a sequel or volume from a series for an award; it is going to be difficult to judge it without knowledge of the preceding story. Especially, when, as in this case, we are dealing with the middle volume in a trilogy which directly picks up strands from the first volume and also does recognisable work in setting up its successor. Therefore, despite the fact that Luna: Wolf Moon contains a strong narrative arc of its own and leaves the reader feeling as satisfied as if they have read a standalone novel, it is nonetheless not directly comparable because it is not entirely self-contained. Experience suggests that judges are generally inclined to favour the single-volume work (and on a practical level they are probably unwilling to read earlier series volumes on top of lengthy submission lists).

To kick off my Shadow Clarke experience, I’ve started with John Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire, a novel based on a singularly intriguing premise. In a far distant future, humanity exists in an interplanetary empire called the Interdependency, its far-flung outposts connected by the Flow: a series of natural space-time currents that facilitate fast travel between different parts of the universe. As the Flow exists without concern for human planetary preferences – and as the Flow route to Earth was lost centuries ago – the majority of people live underground, in planetary habitats or in space stations along these Flow routes, with trade and travel controlled by aristocratic Guild families. Only one habitable world exists: the planet of End, so-called because it’s the most distant realm in the Interdependency, accessible only by a single pair of Flow streams connecting it to Hub, where the Emperox rules. But the Flow, so long assumed stable, is collapsing, threatening the survival of the entire Interdependency – and, as a consequence, of the human race….

…When I originally added Water & Glass to my short list, I suspected that the plot’s concern with a group of (largely European-coded) survivors onboard a submarine, the Baleen, would herald “an already present anxiety about intimacy, trauma, and reproductive concerns.” Given its thematic concerns from the blurb, I guessed that as a Noah’s Ark tale, the plot would likely revolve around questions of “precariousness and interdependent survival, resettling, and the possibility or repopulation or extinction,” though within the frameworks of the novel itself they were unable to gather more than a few animals, rather than any idea of two of a wide variety. Since reproduction felt central to Water & Glass’ concerns, the blurb itself led me to worry about the likelihood of queerphobia or eugenics in play, and unfortunately this assumption is almost entirely borne out. While queerness is entirely and frustratingly absented from this narrative (its own form of queerphobia), a concern with eugenics and human evolution through human-animal gene splicing is one of the grand revelations of the piece….

Dreams Before the Start of Time is beautifully written. The prose is clear, sometimes sparse, quite subtle in the way it provides a smooth emotional surface whilst signalling a great depth of feeling within the many characters. It is also an excellent science fiction novel-of-ideas, with clear themes and careful working out of the societal implications of new technology. How wonderful! …

American War has been short-listed for the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke award. A selection of our panel of shadow jurors respond to the novel below…

Rich with warmth and suspense and surprise, Spaceman of Bohemia is an exuberant delight from start to finish. Very seldom has a novel this profound taken readers on a journey of such boundless entertainment and sheer fun. It has been short-listed for the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke award. A selection of our panel of shadow jurors respond to the novel below…

HUMANKIND IS EXTINCT.

Wiped out in a global uprising by the very machines made to serve them. Now the world is controlled by OWIs — vast mainframes that have assimilated the minds of millions of robots.

But not all robots are willing to cede their individuality, and Brittle is one of the holdouts.

Left to my own devices, it’s rare for me to write criticism for books I haven’t finished. If I find a book boring or if it simply isn’t for me, there’s little motive to write a partial review to that effect, and so I don’t say anything; alternatively, if a work annoys me so much that I want to nitpick it in detail, I usually spite-read the entirety to be sure my facts are in order. In this instance, however, I feel justified in submitting criticism based on partial reads for two main reasons. Firstly, the Shadow Clarke jury is, by design and definition, reactive: we are here to pass judgement on award selections that have already been made by other people, and to do so in only 300-500 words per book. That being so, while we’ve certainly been given the scope and opportunity to write longer, more in-depth criticisms if we want, at base, we’ve been asked to provide a pass/fail grade on whether we feel a particular book merited its inclusion on the shortlist, with only a cursory explanation as to why.

Which leads to the second point: we are doing this on a fairly tight schedule which – for me, personally – overlaps with packing up my house and family in preparation for an international move. Work on the Shadow Clarke is unpaid, done as a labour of love for the genre; and while I’m happy to participate on those conditions, I am not a masochist….

Reading American War directly after Borne is an interesting experience, if not exactly a cheerful one. Where Vandermeer’s novel carefully files the comfort of specific geography off every element of it’s world, El Akkad builds his dystopian America in painful familiarity. North and South, Blue and Red. CNN and Fox. The political and ideological dividing lines that it’s impossible to avoid in the hourly news cycle are the frame work for El Akkad’s novel. Or at the very least, the foundation.

In a near-future London, Millie Dack places her hand on her belly to feel her baby kick, resolute in her decision to be a single parent. Across town, her closest friend—a hungover Toni Munroe—steps into the shower and places her hand on a medic console. The diagnosis is devastating.

In this stunning, bittersweet family saga, Millie and Toni experience the aftershocks of human progress as their children and grandchildren embrace new ways of making babies. When infertility is a thing of the past, a man can create a child without a woman, a woman can create a child without a man, and artificial wombs eliminate the struggles of pregnancy. But what does it mean to be a parent? A child? A family?

Through a series of interconnected vignettes that spans five generations and three continents, this emotionally taut story explores the anxieties that arise when the science of fertility claims to deliver all the answers.

It has been short-listed for the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke award. A selection of our panel of shadow jurors respond to the novel below…

…Cargill is a screenwriter first and foremost and its impossible not to see the influence of his primary craft here. That’s not a criticism either, there’s no sense of this being a lightly expanded movie treatment designed to be dropped onto a producer’s desk as an unusually fancy leave behind. Rather, this is a book steeped in the iconography and tempo of modern American cinema and that’s both interesting and not always a good thing for book or reader….

On a small isolated island, there’s a community that lives by its own rules. Boys grow up knowing they will one day take charge, while girls know they will be married and pregnant within moments of hitting womanhood.

But before that time comes, a ritual offers children an exhilarating reprieve. Every summer they are turned out onto their doorsteps, to roam the island, sleep on the beach and build camps in trees. To be free.

At the end of one of such summer, one of the younger girls sees something she was never supposed to see. And she returns home with a truth that could bring their island world to its knees.

It has been short-listed for the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke award. A selection of our panel of shadow jurors respond to the novel below…

…The greatest problem for me with Gather the Daughters is that no one is allowed to behave or think or speak like an adult. (We have only to think of the depth of field achieved by Margaret Atwood in her characterisation of The Handmaid’s Tale to see how Melamed’s novel is deficient in this regard.) A narrative that depends on compliance will inevitably run out of steam, as this one does. History has proved to us time and again that holding down a dictatorship is difficult work – sooner rather than later the peasants begin to uncover the injustices and deceptions perpetrated against them, and start to revolt. You have to kill a lot of people to keep these systems going, and even so your days as a despot are numbered from the beginning. On the island, the only reason nothing has come unstuck for the Wanderers so far is because everyone else in the community insists on behaving like characters in a YA dystopia….

It has been short-listed for the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke award. A selection of our panel of shadow jurors respond to the novel below…

What is it I look for in science fiction? The answer will be different for everyone, of course, and some who followed last year’s Shadow Clarke project may have come away with the impression that I don’t really like science fiction at all, that I’ll always find something to gripe about because that’s the kind of critic I am.

The truth is that I want books to be brilliant, and that’s what I go in hoping, every time. Most of all I hope to be shocked and surprised by a new voice or a new idea or a new way with words, to be seduced by science fiction all over again. Although Jeff VanderMeer can scarcely be described as a new voice, the effect of reading Borne has been transfiguring, like water after drought. After a long dry spell in which I honestly thought I’d had it with the genre, encountering Borne has left me on a high, inspired to join in the conversation once again.

(5) EXERCISE YOUR FRANCHISE. One of File 770’s self-imposed duties is to chronicle the many genre awards. Few are as exotic as Chuck Wendig’s — “Awkward Author Contest 2018: Winner, And Now It’s Your Turn”. He has picked JD Buffington as the first winner, and called on his blog readers to vote on the other entries.

Here are the rest — there are 40 more submissions.

They are utterly weird and wonderful. You will find some familiar faces in here, perhaps.

Your job now is:

Pick your favorite.

Just one.

JUST ONE.

Go to the comments section below.

Type in the number of your favorite photo — the number that corresponds with the photo in Flickr. Aka, the photo’s title.

That’s it.

Type nothing else, or your vote may not be counted.

Do not choose two.

Choose one, type only the number.

We’ll keep voting open till Wednesday, July 25th.

Enjoy. Vote. See you on the other side.

(6) COMICS SECTION.

  • A bad pun produced by a great mashup of comic and movie references in Brevity.

(7) BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS. Business Insider lists “15 books famous scientists think you should read”.

We compiled a list of book recommendations from a handful of illustrious minds by combing the web for quotes, checking out personal blogs, and just asking them directly. The picks below come from popular scientists including author and television personality Bill Nye, surgeon-turned-writer Siddhartha Mukherjee, and globe-trotting primatologist Jane Goodall.

The books they’ve recommended range from high fantasy, like Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings,” to canonical, like Plato’s seminal work “The Republic.”

Here are 15 books that brilliant scientists consider must-reads…

(8) AIR CAB. No discussion of what fares will be: “Rolls Royce develops propulsion system for flying taxi”.

Rolls said the initial concept for EVTOL used gas turbine technology to generate electricity to power six electric propulsors, specially designed to have a low noise profile.

Its wings would be able to rotate 90 degrees, enabling the vehicle to take off or land vertically. It could also use existing heliports and airports.

“We believe that given the work we are doing today to develop hybrid electric propulsion capabilities, this model could be available by the early to mid 2020s, provided that a viable commercial model for its introduction can be created,” the firm said.

(9) PROJECT LAUNCHED. The BBC reports — “Lift-off for Scotland: Sutherland to host first UK spaceport”.

Lockheed has made no secret of its desire to bring the Electron rocket to Scotland. Currently, this vehicle flies out of New Zealand.

A British version of the rocket would have an upper-stage developed and built at LM’s UK HQ in Ampthill, Bedfordshire.

“This is a defining moment for UK Space,” a spokesperson for the company told BBC News. “Lockheed Martin has been working with Britain for over 80 years and we stand ready to support the development of UK launch capability should our extensive experience in developing space infrastructure be called upon.”

(10) INFLUENTIAL ANIME. In the Washington Post, Hau Chu looks at the 30th anniversary of Akira (first released in Japan on July 15, 1988) and sees it as “inspiring a generation of works to come”, including “Stranger Things,” a Kanye West music video, and Rian Johnson’s Looper: “Why the pioneering Japanese anime ‘Akira’ is still relevant 30 years later”.

For the film’s cyberpunk look, Otomo drew from his own pop culture obsessions, including “Blade Runner,” which influenced the towering skyscrapers of Neo Tokyo, and “Tron,” whose neon-illuminated motorcycles inspired the hordes of biker gangs.

Otomo had been a respected illustrator of manga, Japanese comics. But for “Akira,” instead of trying to match his anime peers in Japan, he was working from European comic artists such as Moebius — an influential artist for the legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. Otomo’s drawings for “Akira” were distinctive for their realism; he used lighting, color and an attention to detail to create a vivid, lived-in space.

(11) DRAGONS FOREVER. In August, the USPS will issue a set of stamps featuring dragons: “Postal Service to Feature Mythological Creatures on Stamps at APS National Summer Convention Stamp Show”.

The U.S. Postal Service will be joined by the American Philatelic Society (APS) to unveil four colorful stamp designs of 16 Forever stamps depicting dragons — the high-flying, fire-breathing mythological creatures that have roamed our imaginations for millennia — at the APS national summer convention and stamp show Aug. 9-12 in Columbus, OH.

“We’re very excited to bring these beautiful stamps to the 132nd annual APS convention,” said U.S. Postal Service Stamp Services Director Mary-Anne Penner. “This is one of the premier stamp shows in America and serves as an excellent platform to showcase these special stamps.”

…The new stamps will be issued as a pane of 16 stamps showcasing one of four designs: a green fire-breathing dragon towering over a medieval-inspired castle; a purple dragon with orange wings and sharp black armor on its back snaking around a white castle; a black dragon with green wings and green armor on its back swooping past a ship on the sea; and a wingless orange dragon weaving its way around a pagoda.

The stamps feature digital illustrations created by artist Don Clark of Invisible Creature studio.

(12) TRAILER PARK. 7 Splinters in Time — now in theaters.

Directed by: Gabriel Judet-Weinshel Detective Darius Lefaux is called to identify a body that is identical to him. As he dives into the harrowing case, different versions of himself begin to emerge and haunting memories of lives not lived fill his mind. Darius soon realizes that not all versions of himself are good and that he must find his other self, before it finds him.

 

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

2018 Manly Wade Wellman Award


The winner of the 2018 Manly Wade Wellman Award for North Carolina Fiction and Fantasy was announced at ConGregate on Saturday, July 14.

  • Scourge by Gail Z. Martin (Solaris)

Gail Z. Martin. Photo by Cindy Walker.

The award, given by the North Carolina Speculative Fiction Foundation, recognizes outstanding science fiction and fantasy novels written by North Carolina authors.

The winner is selected by a vote of members of sf conventions held in the state: illogiCon, ConCarolinas, and ConGregate.

The award is named for long-time North Carolina author Manly Wade Wellman.