Pixel Scroll 8/3/18 That’s The Pixel Scroll Eraser Button, You Fool!

(1) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman serves up a Sunday brunch with JY Yang in Episode 73 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

JY Yang is the author of the Tensorate series of novellas from Tor.Com Publishing, which so far includes The Red Threads of Fortune, The Black Tides of Heaven, and The Descent of Monsters, with a fourth still to come. Their short fiction has been published in more than a dozen venues, including Uncanny Magazine, Lightspeed, and Clarkesworld. And not only had The Black Tides of Heaven been on the Nebula Awards ballot that weekend, but it’s also on this year’s Hugo Awards and World Fantasy Awards ballots as well.

In previous incarnations, they’ve been a molecular biologist; a writer for animation, comics and games; a journalist for one of Singapore’s major papers, and a science communicator with Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research.

We met for Sunday brunch that weekend at Casbah, which offered a Mediterranean-inspired menu filled with comfort food. I’d heard good things about those Sunday brunches, and what I’d heard turned out to be true, because that morning’s braised lamb and eggs was the most umami-filled meal I had all weekend, and probably my favorite dish while in Pittsburgh.

We discussed why they consider themselves “a master of hermitry,” the catalyst that gave birth to their award-nominated Tensorate Universe, why they think of themselves as terrible at world-building, how their dislike of the Matt Damon movie The Great Wall gave them an idea for a novel, the surprising results after they polled fans on which of their works was most award-worthy, their beginnings writing Star Trek and Star Wars fan fiction, why they never played video games until their 30s, the Samuel R. Delany writing advice they hesitated to share, and much more.

(2) UNTOLD AI. At Medium.com there’s an interview with Chris Noessel, creator of the “What Stories aren’t we Telling Ourselves About AI” info graphic, which analyzed the themes of a large number of movies and shows about AI — “Untold AI?—?A conversation with Chris Noessel of SciFi Interfaces”

It goes quite a bit into the process behind creating the poster, “Untold AI: Poster”.

The AP: This was a pretty massive project, what was the scope and parameters of what you were going to look at?

CN: Oh my yes it was. It took nights and weekends for several months after Juvet. (And it’s still going!)

The scope was big by design. I wanted it to be pretty comprehensive. My authority and expertise in this domain is built on screen sci-fi, since you need to see a thing in use before you can evaluate it. That means movies and TV shows. There’s a lot of sci-fi literature that investigates AI (for instance, I’m reading the Culture series right now by Ian Banks, and it’s got AI baked deep into its worldbuilding), but I just don’t have authority in that domain. But still, screen sci-fi is massive, and I like to be as comprehensive as possible. So I looked back through all the movies and TV shows I could find that had an AI component: A robot, a spaceship AI, a disembodied one. I looked at lists people had collected online. I looked for keywords on IMDb. I don’t think I got them all, but I think I got most.

I’d have liked to include more narrow AI, but that would have expanded the survey of shows by an order of magnitude, and ultimately, the purpose of the project is to help guide sci-fi to be in-line with the science so we hedge our bets in the right way. Narrow AI is already here in the world around us (and less of an existential threat) so there’s not as much need to address it at scope.

(3) CREWED TALK. On Twitter, Karen James, a biologist, points out that instead of saying space missions are manned, one should say “crewed”, as outlined in NASA’s actual style guide: “All references referring to the space program should be non-gender specific (e.g. human, piloted, un-piloted, robotic).”

Unsurprisingly, she gets a lot of pushback in the comments. She does have Phil Plait and Elizabeth Moon weighing in on her side. The thread starts here.

The Planetary Society wrote about non-gendered nomenclature in 2015: “Finding new language for space missions that fly without humans”:

Historically, human spaceflight was described using the words “manned” and “unmanned,” but NASA has shifted to using gender-neutral words to describe human space exploration. Since 2006, the NASA History Program Office Style Guide has stated:

All references referring to the space program should be non-gender specific (e.g. human, piloted, un-piloted, robotic). The exception to the rule is when referring to the Manned Spacecraft Center, the predecessor to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, or any other official program name or title that included “manned” (e.g. Associate Administrator for Manned Spaceflight).

(4) POOH CRACKDOWN. Winnie’s a controversial bear there: “Disney’s ‘Christopher Robin’ Won’t Get China Release Amid Pooh Crackdown”.

For only the second time this year, a Disney movie has been denied release in China. Christopher Robin, a live-action/CGI family film that stars Ewan McGregor, received a no-go from the country’s film authorities.

No reason was given for the denial, but a source pinned the blame on China’s crackdown on images of the Winnie the Pooh character, which is featured in a central role in Christopher Robin. Last summer, authorities began blocking pictures of Winnie the Pooh on social media given that the character has become a symbol of the resistance in China with foes of the ruling Communist Party, namely Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Bloggers have drawn comparisons between the pudgy bear and Xi, which has put the country’s censors in overdrive. In June, Chinese authorities blocked HBO after Last Week Tonight host John Oliver mocked Xi’s sensitivity over being compared to Winnie the Pooh.

But an insider counters that the decision likely has to do with the size and scope of the film given the foreign film quota and the fact that there are several new Hollywood tentpoles in the Chinese market right now.

The New York Times explains the political significance of Pooh in this February 2018 article — “China’s Censors Ban Winnie the Pooh and the Letter ‘N’ After Xi’s Power Grab”.

…But the move to abolish term limits, announced on Sunday, has resurrected deeper fears in Chinese society, where memories remain of the personality cult of China’s founding father, Mao Zedong, and the fevered emotions and chaos that it conjured.

Anxious to suppress criticism, and maintain an appearance of mass support, the Communist Party’s censors have scoured the internet and social media for content deemed subversive. The sanitizing has included many images of Winnie the Pooh — Mr. Xi is sometimes likened to the cartoon bear — and search terms like “my emperor,” “lifelong” and “shameless.”

For a short time, even the English letter “N” was censored, according to Victor Mair, a University of Pennsylvania professor, apparently to pre-empt social scientists from expressing dissent mathematically: N > 2, with “N” being the number of Mr. Xi’s terms in office.

(5) CON MARKETING. Savan Gupta can’t stand it anymore [Facebook link].

Okay. I am going to give away some advice that I usually charge HARD CASH for, as part of my consulting services, as I need to stop seeing such mediocrity glut my feed….

Branding – This is key. There are certain universal standards, of clean design. Your branding should reflect your event, your values, and your overall identity. It’s so much more than ‘just grab a font you like’. And yes, all of us have had a learning curve with this. Hell, I keep copies of my older foibles in my wallet, to remind me of where I’ve been, and the constant quest for improvement. The Key here is, you have to LOVE it. You and your team. Not ‘like’ it, LOVE it. To pine and suffer and STRIVE to bear that standard through thick and thin, and hold it above the dirt-and-water line, brandishing it. Without that, you WILL be surpassed by some upstart that simply CARES more about these things, and is willing to learn faster. Clean design be damned, speaking as that upstart that has repeatedly surpassed my contemporaries. Hell, we’ve seen “Fuzzy McDumpTruck” and his five-ring-Latrine fire parade march some EGREGIOUS HORSE SHIT, that disrespected his endeavors, his performers, and his vendors. To the point of getting names and web URLs wrong (having skipped and skimped on hiring the usual professionals who prevented him from looking *quite* like a bag of ass). And yet, the band played on, and he continued to fail upwards, due to some reject OSHO grade Cult-Leadership skills, and being zealously in love with every derpy idea his pop-rocks-and-soda brain excreted. Because yes, you can actually polish a turd with Heat and Pressure. It won’t be a diamond. But it will not longer be a turd.

I don’t know how much of this will be new to you, but it’s very lively writing….

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born August 3, 1904 – Clifford D. Simak
  • Born August 3 — Martin Sheen, 78. Uncle Ben in both the of The Amazing Spider-Man films. Roles also in Total Recall 2070Babylon 5: The River of Souls, The Outer Limits, The Dead ZoneBeyond the Stars (another riff on the Apollo mission), Spawn and voice work in the animated Captain Planet and the Planeteers series.
  • Born August 3 — John Landis, 68. Extensive genre work as producer or executive producer including the Michael Jackson ‘Thriller’ video, Twilight Zone: The Movie, some episodes of the Honey, I Shrunk the KidsWeird Science and Sliders series, a one-off Munsters Christmas special, The Lost Worldgilm and series which are not related to each other and the forthcoming An American Werewolf in London. Oh and Clue which I adore even if it’s not genre.
  • Born August 3 — John C. McGinley, 59. Extensive voice work in such animated productions as Spider-Man, Justice League UnlimitedSuperman/Batman: Public Enemies and Justice League; live work in Highlander II: The QuickeningIt’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and the current demon hunting entered Stan Against Evil.
  • Born August 3 — Michael Ealy, 45. Dorian, an android police officer, in the short-lived Almost Human series, Leo the equally short-lived FlashForward series and the Underworld Awakening film in which vampires and werewolves team up to destroy humanity.
  • Born August 3 — Evangeline Lilly, 39. MCU films such as Ant-Man and the Wasp as The Wasp, two of the Hobbit films as Tauriel, and in the Lost series as Katherine ‘Kate’ Austen. Also in Freddy vs. Jason and in multiple nameless roles in the Smallville series.
  • Born August 3 — Hannah Simone, 38. A role in the film remake of The Greatest American Hero, The H+ series in which humanity is nearly wiped and addicted to the internet and host for several seasons of the WCG Ultimate Gamer series.
  • Born August 3 — Max Landis, 33. Son of Joe Landis. Wrote a run of Superman comics called ‘Superman: American Alien’, writer of the Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency series.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) THIRTEENTH DOCTOR LOOT. The Time Ladies will tell you about it: “Merchandise of the Thirteenth Doctor”. For example –

Titan Kawaii Thirteenth Doctor

If the adventure doll isn’t quite for you, then how about a cutesy, kawaii version of our first female Doctor? The Kawaii Thirteenth Doctor Titan figure is ADORABLE and brightens any shelf. With her huge painted eyes and exaggerated features, we couldn’t help but pop her straight into our basket. The 6” figure launched at SDCC a few weeks ago but is available to order from Forbidden Planet now.

Order Titan’s Kawaii Thirteenth Doctor figure here

(9) BEDROCK CONFIDENTIAL. NPR’s Mallory Yu reviews a comic-book reboot: “Yabbadabba-What? These Aren’t The Flintstones You Remember”.

…But before he could tackle that dark comedy, Russell says, he “really wanted to start with the characters and make them relatable and sympathetic, because they’re basically just living their lives.” He credits artist Steve Pugh with bringing humanity to his characters: “You can see the personalities, really, in their design. Fred’s a big beefy guy, looks like he played football in high school and has kind of let himself go since then, but he’s got a lot of love and sadness in his face.”

Fred’s an Everyman in Russell’s Bedrock, a veteran who’s haunted by his actions during the “Paleolithic Wars.” And remember his famous “Yabbadabbadoo?” Russell “sort of turned it into a nonsense mantra to help them deal with PTSD and stress of everyday life.”

Russell says he was able to bend and twist the Flintstones’ world because he didn’t have a lot of childhood nostalgia for the cartoons. “Nothing was sacred, in fact, that was kind of my mission. This was not going to be some reverential homage to The Flintstones.” So Fred works for a terrible boss at a terrible job, trying to make just enough money to afford the latest household appliance. Or, as Russell calls it, “the exploitation of animals as free labor, which to me it’s like they’re the interns of the prehistoric world.”

(10) HEAD SPACE. “Asgardia: the problems in building a space society” — liberal and not-so-liberal rules.

…The constitution also contains some other red flags for utopians:

“To ensure information security, the Government regulates the circulation of certain types of information”.

Asgardia’s “legal instruments” include not only “referendum decisions” and “Acts of Parliament”, but also “decrees of the head of nation”.

Also, Asgardia’s head of nation has the constitutional power to nominate his successor “on the basis of genealogy or on any other basis”. Candidates may also be nominated by the parliament and the Supreme Space Council”, but it’s the Head of Nation who appoints the Chairman of the Space Council, which “is a special governance body” that reports to, guess who, the Head of Nation.

The head of nation also “appoints and removes” the supreme justice of the court and the prosecutor general. Additionally, he or she “has the right to veto candidates” for other top positions, including the National Bank of Asgardia and justices of the court. And to “dissolve Parliament”.

(11) MORE FROM THE SHIRE. More from the Shire: “Small height evolved twice on ‘Hobbit’ island of Flores” – the island’s current short inhabitants are not descended from branch recently discovered.

Scientists decoded the DNA of modern-day “pygmy” people to find out if they might be partly descended from the extinct Hobbit species.

The remains of these Hobbits were found during an archaeological dig on Flores 15 years ago.

The new analysis, published in the journal Science, found no trace of the Hobbit’s DNA in the present-day people.

This is important because some scientists had wondered whether modern humans (Homo sapiens) could have mixed with the Hobbit population when they first arrived on the island thousands of years ago. In theory, this could have led to Hobbit genes being passed down into living people on the island.

(12) THUNDER TOES. Nature found a big foot, so to speak “A dinosaur that stomped the Jurassic scene on size XXXXL feet”.

Large reptile had bigger clodhoppers than any other dinosaur of its kind.

Enormous toe bones excavated in Wyoming belonged to a dinosaur whose feet were more than 1 metre wide — probably a record for dinosaur foot size.

The owner of the gargantuan feet was a sauropod, a group that includes the biggest known dinosaurs. No other known sauropod foot is bigger than the Wyoming animal’s, say Anthony Maltese at the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center in Woodland Park, Colorado, Emanuel Tschopp at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and their colleagues. The fossils bear similarities to those of sauropods called brachiosaurs, which could measure 25 metres long.

The dinosaur, which lived roughly 150 million to 160 million years ago, walked on four legs, but the authors whimsically nicknamed it “the real Bigfoot”.

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 8/2/18 Where Late The Sweet Pixels Scrolled

(1) F&SF. Gordon Van Gelder has unveiled the cover for F&SF’s Sept/Oct. 2018 issue. The cover art is by Michael Garland.

(2) SPINER BECOMES A SUPER VP. ScienceFiction.com has the results — “Data From Polling Numbers Are In: Brent Spiner Elected To Join ‘Supergirl’”.

Brent Spiner (‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’,’Independance Day’) has just been elected by the casting department of The CW’s ‘Supergirl‘ to join the show. His role? Vice President of the United States! That’s right folks, in the fourth season of ‘Supergirl’ were going to have Spiner joining the cast as a regular to work with Lynda Carter (‘Wonder Woman’) who is the President of the United States.

I suspect that she won’t be staying in the Oval Office for long though as Spiner’s role is being described as:

Adept and politically minded, Vice President Baker makes for an unlikely leader but steps up in a big way when his country needs him most

(3) ROGUE AGENT. Publishers Weekly listens as “Agent Danielle Smith’s Former Clients Speak Out”. Quite a bit of material here.

The children’s book publishing world has been roiling for the past week over the disclosure that Danielle Smith, the principal of Lupine Grove Creative, an agency specializing in children’s and YA authors, acted more like a literary grifter than a literary agent. Since Smith emailed a letter to her clients on July 24, confessing that recently she had “not handled a situation as well as I should have” and thus was dissolving the agency effective immediately, 19 former clients have reached out to PW, sharing tales of a pattern of malfeasance that has shaken their confidence and adversely affected their careers.

According to some former clients, she claimed to have had offers in hand that didn’t exist, such as, one author requesting anonymity disclosed, a $50,000 two-book deal. She informed others that editors had expressed interest in their submissions, but subsequently told them that either the editors had then lost interest or had outright rejected those submissions. Clients also complained about Smith’s refusal to communicate with them honestly and in a timely fashion, as well as the lack of transparency, including a reluctance to render submission lists to them upon request. Several clients allege that she even forged emails from editors and passed this correspondence along to them.

(4) CALL FOR EISNER IMPROVEMENTS. Each award has and needs its critics. In “Comic-Con’s Eisner Judging and the New ‘Comics & Design Awards’” Michael Dooley of printmag.com pinpoints some shortcomings and workarounds he’s identified.

…Every year, Comic-Con International’s awards committee assembles a panel of a half-dozen or so judges. Each bring a unique interest, perspective, and expertise: creator, scholar, critic/reviewer, retailer, librarian, and a Comic-Con rep. Together, they critically winnow down an enormous amount of published material to arrive at a small handful under each category. CalState Northridge professor Charles Hatfield, who was part of the selection committee a few years ago, has described the process as “like going to Comics Heaven—if Heaven is a place where you work really hard, fence with a table full of smart, demanding, and dedicated people, and learn something about your own biases in the process.” He was also pleased to learn what he describes as “the importance of voting past my prejudices.” Now there’s an attribute that’s practically nonexistent among the voters.

Diligence and dedication such as this is why anyone in search of recommend reading should check out all the nominees in all categories of interest. You also might jump to Wonder Women of the Eisner Awards, my feature from last year that included several judges’ choices who didn’t bring home a trophy but who are nevertheless not to be overlooked. However, locating worthwhile info on these artists and publications is much easier said than done. You can’t rely on the official site; its design is a frightful mess, and very difficult to navigate quickly and efficiently. Plus, its page of nominees is merely a basic bullet point listing….

(5) OPEN THE GARAGE BAY DOOR SAL. Adweek shows how an insurer is capitalizing on the latest high-tech fears: “See a Smart Home Go Rogue in New State Farm Campaign”.

In the ad an unnerved husband, Dave, recounts to State Farm agent Amy all the ways SAL has been majorly unhelpful, including closing the garage door on their car, turning on the in-home sprinklers, and erroneously blasting The Ring instead of the requested music. Amy assures Dave that while State Farm can’t fix SAL, they can certainly cover the home and auto damages. For anyone who has ever had to angrily repeat a simple question for Siri syllable-by-syllable, this scenario feels all too plausible. Truly, we could all use an Amy to assure us during our more frustrating brushes with technology that everything will be fine.

 

(6) CONTESTED GROUND. In Luke Shelton’s reading of Lord of the Rings, “Caradhras Changes Everything”.

I have always had inordinately strong opinions about the passage about Caradhras. In fact, it was changes made to this episode that made me shout “no!” when I went to see Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of the Rings in theaters.

I was familiar with other literature that gave a sense of autonomy to nature before I read LotR, and I was excited to see that Tolkien does the same throughout the text, even before getting to the fully autonomous Treebeard. As a child, I loved the idea that trees could have volition and emotions. Tolkien takes this wondrous idea and pushes it one step further in the Caradhras episode. As the snows on Caradhras foil the attempt of the Fellowship to pass over the mountain, this exchange occurs…

Here Boromir tries to attribute the malevolent weather to Sauron or one of his agent; however, but Aragorn and Gimli are quick to halt this impulse and clarify that there are other forces at play in the world. Gimli goes so far as to specify that the will is probably that of Caradhras himself.

I cannot emphasize this enough: this passage changed my worldview the first time I read it. To ascribe volition to not just plants, but to all of nature, to the very earth itself! This was a truly awe-inspiring thought for me. I remember walking around for days thinking about the ramifications of this idea. What does it mean to till an earth that could feel the cuts? What does it mean to dynamite a mountain that can fight back?

(7) WOTF ADDS FIRST READER. Kary English comes aboard — “Writers of the Future Announces Kary English as New First Reader”.

Over its 34 year history, the Contest has recognized 404 winners who have gone on to publish 1,150 novels and 4,450 short stories. Of these, 192 are still active with a writing career—that’s over 40%. Twelve of these Contest winners have gone on to become NYT bestselling authors: Dave Wolverton (aka David Farland), Sean Williams, Jo Beverly, Nancy Farmer, Lisa Smedman, Karen Joy Fowler, Patrick Rothfuss, Tim Myers, Eric Flint, Dean Wesley Smith, Tobias Buckell and Elizabeth Wein. And Contest Winners have garnered 155 major awards. Collectively, the winners of the contests have sold over 60 million books over the years.

And with the last 4 volumes of Writers of the Future hitting national bestseller lists—and each of the winners becoming national bestselling authors and illustrators as a result—contest entries continue to increase each quarter with entries from around the world.

Dave Wolverton, himself a Writers of the Future winner from the 3rd year of the contest, is the Coordinating Judge for the Writer Contest and was asked to help in the selection of a 1st reader to keep pace with the expansion. “Obviously, I’ve had a number of amazing authors that I’ve helped mentor over the years, and so when I considered who I might ask to help out as a first reader, I really suffered from an embarrassment of riches. A dozen names almost instantly leapt to mind, but Kary English was right near the top.

He continued, “I wanted someone with a great eye for style, someone who understood storytelling well. Kary, as an award-winning author, has proven over and over to have a great eye, but more than that, her strong support for and commitment to helping new authors spoke volumes….”

(8) 1970S SFF HISTORY. In “Fighting Erasure: Women SF Writers of the 1970s, Part X”, James Davis Nicoll winds up his Tor.com series with a segment covering “T” to the end of the alphabet —

Alison Tellure had a very small but very memorable body of work. “Lord of All it Surveys,” “Skysinger,” “Green-Eyed Lady, Laughing Lady,” and “Low Midnight” are all set on an alien world dominated by a single, vast, godlike creature. Existence there is complicated by the presence of competing, considerably tinier beings not entirely unlike humans. Contributors over on my blog, More Words, Deeper Hole, dug up biographical details from old Analog Biologs and con appearances, but the exchange raised more questions than it answered. As far as I know, Tellure never had a single author collection, but readers might be able to track down the June 1977 issue of Analog, which contains “Lord of All it Surveys.”

(9) THE MAGIC NUMBER. The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog hails “5 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Spoofs That Stand on Their Own”. For example —

The Last Adventure of Constance Verity, by A. Lee Martinez
Sometimes, having a fairy godmother really backfires. That is certainly the case for Constance Verity, blessed with (cursed by?) a life of being the world’s greatest adventurer. She’s got a history of adventuring filled with just about every genre trope and cliché you could imagine, and she’s on a mission to end it—by killing that darned godmother. This final quest puts the idea of destiny—and the monomyth—into its crosshairs with a wink and an absurdist sense of humor—Martinez’ specialties.

(10) GRINDSTAFF OBIT. Classic Trek had a sound as well as a look because of creators like him: ComicBook.com has the story — “Doug Grindstaff, Creator of Iconic Sounds of ‘Star Trek,’ Dies at 87”.

Grindstaff worked with Jack Finlay and Joseph Sorokin on Star Trek. Together they created the background sounds for the iconic series, including the iconic red alert klaxon and the sound the doors make when they slide open. They also developed the sounds of space battle in the Star Trek universe, transporter materialization, and sickbay scanners.

In a 2016 interview with Audible Range, Grindstaff discussed working with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.

“And he wanted sounds everywhere. One time I asked him, ‘Don’t you think we’re getting too cartoony?’ Because I felt it should be a little more dignified, but he wanted sound for everything. For example, I worked on one scene where [Dr. McCoy] is giving someone a shot. Gene says, ‘Doug, I’m missing one thing. The doctor injects him and I don’t hear the shot.’ I said, ‘You wouldn’t hear a shot, Gene.’ He said, ‘No, no, this is Star Trek, we want a sound for it.’

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born August 2 — Edward Furlong, 41. John Connor in Terminator 2: Judgment DayPet Sematary II (Cat Eldridge notes, “Courtesy of knowing the on-site medics, I visited the props room fort he original Pet Sematary — weird seeing actual props of dead people and lots of pets managed horribly”), various Terminator shorts, The Crow: Wicked Prayer, and Star Trek: Renegades (“…which I think is fanfic.”)
  • Born August 2 — Sam Worthington, 42. Avatar film franchise, Clash of The Titans and its sequel Wrath Of The Titans, and The Titan, a space exploration film that may or may be a horror film.
  • Born August 2 — Simon Kinberg, 45. Genre director for a very long list of projects including the forthcoming Logan’s Run, an X-Men one-off called Multiple Man, the Boba Fett project, The Martian, the Legion series, and the animated Star Wars: Rebels series. Also the writer for another X-Men one-off titled  X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
  • Born August 2 — Jacinda Barrett, 46. Genre roles include series work in Campfire TalesZero Hour, Millennium, NightMan and Hercules: The Legendary Journey.
  • Born August 2 — Matthew Del Negro, 46. Genre roles in Teen WolfStargate: Atlantis and Eastwick series, horror films such as Ghost Image and Trailer Park of Terror.
  • Born August 2 — Kevin Smith, 48. Well-loved comics writer with work for DC, Marvel and other venues with work on both Daredevil  Green Arrow. He directed the pilot for the CW supernatural comedy series Reaper, produced and appeared in reality television series Comic Book Men, and appeared as a character in the animated Superman: Doomsday as a commentary on a Superman unused script he wrote.
  • Born August 2 — Mary-Louise Parker, 54. Genre roles are the R.I.P.D. fil, The Spiderwyck Chronicles and Persephone, a generation ship film that may or may not happen.

(12) TRUE CONFESSION. JY Yang shares a writing crisis —

(13) IN THE ISS LIBRARY. The Independent has “The Book List: What do astronauts read on the International Space Station?” Plenty of sff, including 11 Bujold novels and 13 David Weber books.

The astronauts on the International Space Station are obviously busy people, but even busy people need some time to relax and unwind. In addition to a well-stocked film library (particularly strong on movies with a space theme, including 2001: A Space Odyssey and Gravity), there are also plenty of books in their informal library.

Some are brought up by the astronauts – Susan Helms was allowed ten paperbacks and chose Gone With the Wind, Vanity Fair and War and Peace in her carryon. Others come with space tourists such as billionaire businessman Charles? Simonyi, who brought Faust and Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

(14) ROT-180. Bounding Into Comics analyzed a sly slam against JDA — “Nasty Personal Attack Against Jon Del Arroz Appears in Dynamite Comics and Atari’s ‘Centipede’ Comic” [Internet Archive link].

Comic book writer and the lead singer of Say Anything Max Bemis, artist Eoin Marron, and letterer Taylor Esposito decided to use Atari’s Centipede intellectual property in a Dynamite Comics published book to attack fellow comic book writer Jon Del Arroz.

What’s supposed to be a balloon full of alien gibberish becomes all too easy to understand if you turn it upside-down.

In Centipede #4, which was published on October 25, 2017, Bemis writes, “Jon Del Arroz is a never was fat piece of sh**who blames everyone but himself for his ineptness.”

As you can tell Bemis and letterer Taylor Esposito tried to disguise the personal attack through an alien language. Not only did they disguise it as an alien language they also inverted it.

We’ve inverted the image so you can read it better.

Several more examples from the same comic are at the post.

JDA accepted the publisher’s statement that they knew nothing about it, securing an apology and some publicity in compensation — “Official Statement On The Personal Attacks In Dynamite Entertainment’s Centipede Book” [Internet Archive link].

Last night I discovered that a print book of Atari’s Centipede property referenced me in multiple places by name in an effort to defame and diminish me as a comic creator and a human being….

However, I have been in contact with Dynamite Entertainment, who apologized themselves and said they were unaware of the situation and that it slipped past editorial by mistake. They also say it’s been corrected for the trade paperback edition. They also very cordially said they would support my Flying Sparks indiegogo effort as I’m trying to launch my own comic career.

I believe them.

It would have been very easy for Dynamite to ignore me and to let this go, but they in their quick response and quick taking action to remedy this are doing the right thing. The company was hoodwinked by a rogue contractor who has lost the trust of the entire industry by inserting personal animus into a book, and saying the most horrific things about a fellow creator. They understand this, they are doing what they can to make it right even though the hurtful damage has been done.

I do not want my fans and followers to boycott Dynamite or take any action to try to harm them. As I said, the company has been consummate professionals to me and I appreciate their efforts they’re going to to make this right….

(15) YOU’RE FROM THE SIXTIES. Rosemary Benton considers “[August 2, 1963] Sinister Geometry (Daniel F. Galouye’s Lords of the Psychon)” at Galactic Journey.

But what if the shift in humanity’s daily life is beyond explanation, bordering on paranormal? And what if the alien force that is bringing about that change is so far removed from known biology that it appears extra-dimensional? Daniel F. Galouye’s new book, Lords of the Psychon, takes the reader to that terrifying reality with an invader that is unnervingly simple – a large, floating, metallic sphere – and their mission which can be surmised as absorbing compatible human minds and letting the rest die in the grip of mind shredding madness.

(16) ON THE ROAD. They came, they saw, they rocked? “First Stonehenge residents came from west Wales”. Isotopes identify oldest cremains as coming from same area as the stones themselves. No explanation for the unusual eastward movement.

… While it is already known that the “bluestones” that were first used to build Stonehenge were transported from 150 miles (240 km) away in modern-day Pembrokeshire, almost nothing is known about the people involved.

The scientists’ work shows that both people and materials were moving between the regions and that, for some of these people, the move was permanent.

When their lives ended, their cremated remains were placed under the ancient monument in what is now Wiltshire. …

However, Dr Rick Schulting, senior author on the study, said: “These must have been important people. Being buried at Stonehenge is the ancient equivalent of being interred in Westminster Cathedral today.”

He said: “The evidence suggests that some of the people buried at Stonehenge must have spent much of their last 10 or so years in Wales. Although we tend to think that immigration is a new thing, these people were obviously able to travel substantial distances across difficult terrain.”

(17) SLIP SLIDING AWAY. BBC knows “How Greenland scorched its underside”. All of Greenland slid over the hotspot that later created and is now augmenting Iceland.

It’s like the underside of the island got a good roasting in the distant past and still has the big scar to prove it.

That hotspot, by the way, is the one which today is building Iceland in the middle of the North Atlantic.

The plume of broiling rock rising from deep inside the Earth has broken through the thin ocean floor at Iceland’s location and is now creating new land with regular eruptions of lava.

(18) A THOUSAND AND ONE FLAVORS. “The world’s oldest ice cream?” The BBC video feature says Iran had ice storage to make chilled treats over 2000 years ago.

(19) ROBOTS IN THE MUSEUM. The Robot Show is on display at the Museum of Art and History in Lancaster, California from August 4 through September 26.

The Robot Show is comprised of eight exhibitions exploring the place robots, and other forms of artificial intelligence, have in a contemporary social landscape – from popular culture to nature and spirituality. Featured in the Main Gallery at MOAH is a retrospective of Emmy-nominated artist and animator, Dave Pressler. The Robot Show also showcases the solo exhibitions of Jeff Soto, Patrick McGilligan, Robert Nelson and Karen Hochman Brown, with site specific installations by artists Cristopher Cichocki, Alexander Kritselis, and Chenhung Chen.

Dave Pressler’s 20-year retrospective, Idea to Object, is a narrative of his career, which focuses on how he made his ideas a reality. Pressler’s robots are fixtures in popular culture and he is best known for his Emmy-nominated Nickelodeon series, Robot and Monster.  “Pressler’s work appeals to audiences of all ages,” says Andi Campognone, Curator at MOAH. “His work is a great example of the combination of strong contemporary concepts and expert craft, and we are so excited to exhibit his work for both the Lancaster and greater Los Angeles communities.”

Jeff Soto, in the East Gallery, is a pop-surrealist who also features robots prominently in his bold paintings and murals, which are meant to evoke nostalgia and the natural environment. In the South Gallery, Cristopher Cichocki furthers this connection between the artificial and the natural with his newest body of work, Divisions of Land and Sea, which combines audiovisual performance and black light painting into an immersive environment. Karen Hochman Brown’s digital photographic compositions will be highlighted in the North Gallery joining Robert Nelson’s robot paintings in the Wells Fargo Gallery along with Patrick McGilligan’s work in the Museum’s lobby and atrium. Alexander Kritselis will feature one of his multimedia installations in windows of the Museum’s Hernando and Fran Marroquin Family Classroom. Rounding out this exhibition is Chenhung Chen, a Los Angeles-based artist, who will be installing her technology-based towers in the Vault Gallery.

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

Pixel Scroll 8/1/18 For I Must Be Scrolling On, Now Cause There’s Too Many Pixels I’ve Got To See

(1) THE COCKY SOLUTION. The hydra sprouts a new head in the Authors Guild’s report on “Quantumgate: Son of Cockygate”.

The Cockygate case is close to resolution: the parties have entered into a settlement agreement and author Faleena Hopkins has filed a request with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to withdraw her “cocky” trademark. Other recent applications to register questionable trademarks for book series, however, do remain a matter of concern. A recent misinformed attempt to register a common book cover template (which is not a trademark under any interpretation of the law) was withdrawn after some backlash, thank goodness, but a recent application to register “Big” as a series title is still under review.

Now, another romance writer has applied to register the term “Quantum Series” in connection with her “series of fiction books.” When the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, became aware of this application, they approached the Authors Guild for assistance. We recommended counsel to SFWA, and Eleanor Lackman of the law firm Cowan, DeBaets Abrahams & Sheppard LLP is taking up the case by filing an opposition to the proposed trademark on behalf of SFWA member Douglas Phillips, who has his own “Quantum Series” of books”…

The Trademark Office clarified that the owner of a trademark in a book series title cannot use that trademark against single book titles. Since single titles cannot serve as trademarks, they also cannot infringe series title trademarks. So, if another author or a publisher ever tries to stop you from using a single book title because of their series trademark, you can tell them to take a hike. Only series titles can infringe another series title. [emphasis added]

(2) BELLA NOVELLA. Wired’s Jason Kehe applauds “The Rise of the Sci-Fi Novella: All The Imagination, None of the Burden”.

…The form, after all, honors the genre: The novella traces its origins to fairytales and morality plays. Proto-fantasies, basically. In that sense, Tolkien’s world-building was never native to the genre. He simply blew up the balloon.

A balloon which is now about to burst. More than ever, successful world-building seems to require of creators a transmedia commitment to spin-offs and prequels and various other increasingly extraneous tie-ins like comic books and card games. Consumers are rightly overwhelmed. The joy of the sci-fi novella, by contrast, is in its one-off-ness, its collapsed space, its enforced incapaciousness. Authors can’t indulge family trees or maps; they must purify their storytelling. One or two main characters. A single three-act quest. Stark, sensible rules. (And no Starks.)

Containment need not mean compromise. In many cases, spareness heightens prose. My favorite of Tor’s wide-ranging catalog is Kai Ashante Wilson’s A Taste of Honey, a stunning romance that unfolds on the shores of a remote god colony. Something like math poeticized, or poetry mathematized, at novel size the book would’ve gone down way too rich. At 158 pages, though? Practically perfect. Deadlier serious but no less compelling is Laurie Penny’s Everything Belongs to the Future, in which the rich can extend their youth by centuries while the poor age and die naturally. The paltry page count lets Penny, in full author-activist fervor, get away with punking up the familiar biotech premise. Plus, you can read it in one sitting, the way the good lords of lit intended.

(3) CLARKE WINNER’S NEW STORY. Paul Weimer weighs in about “Expectations of Genre: The Expert System’s Brother by Adrian Tchaikovsky” in a review for Tor.com.

This novella’s contribution to that conversation is that, in order to colonize distant alien planets already full of life, change, severe change, is needed. This puts The Expert System’s Brother into dialogue with novels such as Stephen Baxter’s Flux (where humans are altered to live on a neutron star) and James Blish’s Surface Tension. All of these stories explore the idea that in the end, it is not easy to change people to survive and thrive on alien planets. There are severe costs and consequences to doing so, to the point that those who do so might lose most of their connection to who and what they are. But those costs are absolutely payable, and are worth doing. We are never so much human as we are exploring, heading out there, and changing ourselves and reinventing ourselves to do so.

(4) OKORAFOR. A BBC profile: “Black Panther spin-off author Nnedi Okorafor’s African inspiration”.

…Okorafor’s journey as a writer began at 19. That year, she was paralysed from the waist down after an operation to correct scoliosis.

Distraught as she realised her budding athletic career would be cut short, Okorafor began writing short stories to occupy her time.

When she recovered, she took a creative-writing class at university.

Her rise in the world of speculative fiction was “gradual”, she says, mainly because no one knew how to place her work.

By the time she published her debut novel Zahrah the Windseeker in 2005, reviewers struggled to understand it, she says.

“It was young adult science fiction with Nigerian mysticism, blended with fantasy and written by a Nigerian American – I was confusing and many didn’t know how to read me.

“But over the years, the more I wrote, the more known I became. I was slowly somewhat understood, and thus enjoyed.”

(5) YOU COULD L**K IT UP. Laura Anne Gilman tells why research is a necessity in “A Meerkat Rants: History will F*ck You Up” at Book View Café.

Here’s the thing. I wrote urban fantasy for a long time .  A dozen+ books’ time, in fact.  Books set in New York, a city that I know reasonably well.  And I still had to pull out the map and get on the subway, and check shit out, to make sure I had my facts straight, because trust me, if I got it wrong, someone (probably many someones) would let me know.

As an aside, did you know that the underside of the Brooklyn Bridge is painted purple-ish?  Also, that if you start taking photos of the underside of a bridge, a cop may give you a very thorough side-eye?  Always bring your id and your business cards with you when you Research, kids.  Seriously.  I shit thee not.

But that’s fact-checking, Person with Opinion says.  That’s not research.  It’s all still made up.

At this point I usually stop to remind myself that the agency bail fund probably won’t cover even justifiable homicide, so I only ask my interrogator if they ever wrote a research paper in their lives, and if so how they gathered the material to do it.  If they say “Wikipedia,” I give up and drown my sorrows in whisky.

(6) A GRAIL-SHAPED ENDING. In The Hollywood Reporter: “Monty Python Archive Unveils Unused ‘Holy Grail’ Sketches”.

Michael Palin’s private archive, deposited at the British Library in London, is set to go on display to the public later this month, but The Times of London reports that its contents includes several major unseen scenes written by Palin and Terry Jones, his writing partner in the Monty Python group, whose other members included Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, John Cleese and Graham Chapman.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail famously ends abruptly when King Arthur (Chapman) is arrested by police just minutes before a final climactic battle. However, according to The Times, Palin’s draft scripts show that this decision was only made to cut costs, and that a mighty fight was due to take place between the knights of Camelot, the French and also the killer rabbit of Caerbannog (a much-loved character from a previous scene).

(7) COMPELLING CROWDFUNDING. Joe Stech has launched a Kickstarter to fund Compelling Science Fiction: The First Collection, a hardcover print collection. The table of contents with 27 fantastic short stories by 24 authors is at the link. Swag is available for heftier pledges.

(8) MEXICANX INITIATIVE ANTHOLOGY. Fireside has set up a Kickstarter for the “Mexicanx Initiative Anthology”. They’ve already surpassed their $1,500 goal with pledges totaling $2,382 as of this writing.

Contributors include: José Luis Zárate, David Bowles, Julia Rios,  Felecia Caton Garcia, Iliana Vargas, Angela Lujan, Raquel Castro, Pepe Rojo, Alberto Chimal,  Gabriela Damián Miravete, Andrea Chapela, Verónica Murguía, Libia Brenda, and Richard Zela.

Our goal is to raise $1,600 to cover printing and shipping costs. Any funds raised above the goal will be split evenly among all the authors and artists who graciously donated their time and words. The anthology has been edited and laid out and features a beautiful cover by Mexicanx Initiative founder John Picacio.

We plan to print 200 copies of the anthology; 80 will be held for members of the Mexicanx Initiative and contributors, and 120 signed and/or numbered will be available as backer rewards. All copies will be brought to Worldcon 76 in San José, California, where they will be signed and available for pickup. If you are not attending Worldcon we will ship your copy and any other rewards you purchase.

(9) WORLDCON DOORS OPEN THESE HOURS.

(10) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

More than 80 million years separated the Stegosaurus from the Tyrannosaurus Rex. But the so-called Age of Mammals — which began when the non-avian dinosaurs were wiped out — has been going on for about 66 million years. This means that we are closer in time to the T-Rex than the T-Rex was from the Stegosaurus. [Source: Smithsonian Institute.]

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 1, 1971 — Charlton Heston as The Omega Man premiered in theatres

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born August 1 – Oona Laurence, 16 Celebrity Ghost Stories, a Penny Dreadful short and the animated Pete’s Dragon series. 
  • Born August 1 – Jack O’Connell, 28. Role in 300: Rise of An Empire, also Robot & Scarecrow, an animated short about a robot and a scarecrow (voiced by him) who fall in love at a summer music festival, and the lion in Jungleland which or may be not be based on an Asian theme park.
  • Born August 1 – Jason Momoa, 39. DCU as Aquaman in of course Aquaman, Justice League, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Khal Drogo in Games of Thrones, Conan in Conan the Barbarian and Ronon Dex in Stargate: Atlantis. 
  • Born August 1 – Sam Mendes, 53. Producer of Penny Dreadful, Shrek the Musical, and Stage Director for the tv version of Cabaret (“Which allows me to note how much i really, really like Leiber’s The Big Time novella,” says Cat Eldridge.)
  • Born August 1—John Carroll Lynch, 55. Considerable genre work starting with the Voice from the Grave horror series, and including The Visitor series as well as the Apollo lunar landing series From the Earth to the Moon, Star Trek: VoyagerCarnivàle, The Walking Dead and American Horror Story.

(13) BIRTHDAY KING. Steven H Silver’s August 1 celebrant is Ray Palmer – “Birthday Reviews: Raymond A. Palmer’s ‘Diagnosis’” at Black Gate.

Although Palmer wrote short stories and novels, he was best known as an editor. From 1938-1949, he edited Amazing Stories and from 1939-1949 he edited Fantastic Adventures as well for Ziff-Davis, resigning when they moved production from Chicago to New York. He formed his own company, Clark Publishing, and began publishing Other Worlds Science Stories from 1949 to 1957, during which time he also edited and published Fate Magazine, Universe Science Fiction, Mystic Magazine, Science Stories, and Space World. His assistant in the early 1950s, and often times credited co-editor, was Bea Mahaffey. Palmer is perhaps best remembered for publishing the fiction of Richard Shaver and promoting Shaver’s stories as non-fiction. In 1961, comic author Gardner Fox paid tribute to Palmer by using his name for the DC character the Atom.

Did you miss any? Silver has cataloged last month’s work — “Birthday Reviews: July Index”.

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • Sheldon does another cartoon profile on an early leader in the science fiction genre. Given the breadth of his work, he may have founded an empire!
  • At PvP, Scratch wants to adopt an heir – but can’t seem to get through to his prospect, a dedicated book reader –

July 30
July 31

(15) HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

(16) CATS SLEEP ON TWITTER. Claire O’Dell cuts out the middleman –

(17) HAYLEY ATWELL VISITED BRADBURY’S MARS. Nerdist lets you “Hear Derek Jacobi and Hayley Atwell Bring Ray Bradbury’s THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES to Life” (2017 post, but news to me!)

While the characters that Jacobi and Atwell are playing in this aural adaptation of The Martian Chronicles were arguably written as American, I somehow don’t think fans are going to hugely object to Captain Wilder and Spender suddenly sounding impeccably English (please don’t let me down by being petty, Internet).

(18) LEAVES HIS COMFORT ZONE. Sean Grigsby takes the challenge:

(19) BREWPRINT. It’s a rare piece of news that makes a person want to move out of the U.S. but not to Canada! From VinePair: “MAP: The Most Popular Beer In Every Country”.

Ed. Note on North America: Although Anheuser-Busch InBev still markets Budweiser as “the King of Beers,” in the U.S. Bud Light outsells Budweiser by a wide margin. Ironically, in Canada, where the company owns iconic local brand Labatt, the company has sold more Budweiser than any other brand for nearly a decade. In 2012, the Toronto Star published the article “‘Sniff of death’ taints iconic beer brands,” which provides analysis on how Budweiser came to be the best-selling beer in Canada.

(20) BESIEGING YOUR BANK ACCOUNT. As Seen On TV, as they say: “Game of Thrones castle can be yours for less than $1 million”.

If you’ve been bargain shopping for one of the Great Houses of Westeros, get ready for the deal of a lifetime.

Gosford Castle, a 19th-century country house in Northern Ireland that was used to portray the Riverrun castle on Game of Thrones, is for sale and accepting offers over £500,000 (or $656,452), according to its online listing.

Riverrun, first depicted in season 3 of the acclaimed series, is the former seat of House Tully, and the current lawful home to House Frey. While the castle itself is not often seen on the show, its occupation has long been the subject of strategic interest for the series’ main characters.

(21) SPACE OPERA PILOT. Robert Hewitt Wolfe of DS9 and Andromeda fame is doing something interesting on Twitter. Several years ago he wrote a pilot for a space opera on SyFy that would be called “Morningstar”. It ended up not being made. But under WGA rules he retains publishing rights, so he’s publishing the script for the pilot on Twitter, one page per day for 95 days. He’s already 2/3 of the way through. The thread begins here.

(22) SHARK JERKING. People used to do “Stupid Crook Reports” at LASFS meetings. This would have been prime material: “Shark kidnapped from Texas aquarium in baby’s pram”.

A shark disguised by thieves as a baby in a pram and abducted from a Texas aquarium has been found and returned.

The horn shark – called Miss Helen – “is in quarantine right now resting” and “is doing good so far”, San Antonio Aquarium said.

On Saturday, the shark was grabbed from an open pool by two men and a woman, then wrapped in a wet blanket and put in a bucket with a bleach solution.

The public helped track the thieves and one suspect is now in custody.

(23) NUMBER ONE. Marvel’s C.B. Cebulski introduces a new Captain Marvel comic book series.

Carol Danvers has been involved in some of the biggest adventures in the Marvel Universe…but in her new series, she’s going back to the basics with Margaret Stohl, Carlos Pacheco, and Marguerite Sauvage at the helm. Marvel is proud to present this behind-the-scenes look at THE LIFE OF CAPTAIN MARVEL #1, featuring Stohl and Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski! “This is a story about Carol Danvers. We’re taking Carol back to basics,” said Cebulski. “We hear that a lot, but this is something where we’re going to dance between the raindrops and find the secrets of Carol’s origins that are based in the roots of her family.” “It’s really a family story and it’s as much about the human instead of her as her Kree powers,” added Stohl.

 

(24) GET WOKE, GO FOR BROKE. ScreenRant ponders “What If Trump Was President When Captain America Was Woken Up?”

Before he was elected in 2016, Donald Trump had a small cameo appearance in New Avengers #47. In that comic, Trump failed to pull over to the side to let an ambulance go past, so Luke Cage gave him a hand by picking up his limousine and moving it out of the way. An irate Trump threatened to sue Luke, but then quickly thought better of it.

 

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Danny Sichel, Paul Weimer, Michael O’Donnell, Dann, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day IanP.]

Pixel Scroll 7/31/18 There’s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvish

(1) BOOKS PEOPLE BOUNCED OFF. On Bustle.com, Charlotte Ahlin takes a look at “The 15 Most Frequently Unfinished Reads, According To Goodreads’ ‘Popular Abandoned Books’ Shelf” and encourages at least a subset of people to try again. The list includes many genre works, but genre or not, Ahlin gives you a paragraph about each laying out why you might (or might not) enjoy the book more than you thought.

We’ve all left a book unfinished in our time. And honestly, I get it. Forcing yourself to slog through a book you don’t like is a pretty pointless endeavor. Reading should be fun, not a joyless exercise in seeming smart/trendy/interesting. But if you have it in your heart, some of these oft-abandoned books are actually worth giving a second (or third) chance:

1             The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling
2             Catch-22, Joseph Heller
3             A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin
4             American Gods, Neil Gaiman
5             The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
6             Fifty Shades of Grey, E.L. James
7             Outlander, Diana Gabaldon
8             The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt
9             Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke
10          Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
11          Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
12          Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, Gregory Maguire
13          One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
14          Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert
15          The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson

(2) LEADERS WHO READ SFF. POLITICO reports that two European Commissioners are science fiction fans. Valdis Dombrovskis (Latvia) is reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman, while Pierre Moscovici (France) recommends George Orwell’s 1984, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven“POLITICO Brussels Playbook: Death by a thousand cuts — What presidents are reading — Go full Orbán”.

(3) PUTTING A GOOD FACE ON IT. When Bill Oberst Jr. does his Bradbury show in 2019, this is the creator who will make the illusion convincing: “Jeff Farley Recreates Ray Bradbury for Touring Stage Portrayal of Sci-Fi Author”Broadway World has the story.

Jeff Farley‘s love letter to Ray Bradbury will soon be on Bill Oberst Jr.‘s face. Special effects makeup artist and Primetime Emmy Award Nominee Farley has just completed the sculpt for Oberst’s prosthetic transformation into Bradbury in the authorized stage portrayal of the beloved author, Ray Bradbury Live (forever.)

“This project is the culmination of four decades of professional experience, and the most exciting of my career,” Farley said. “I am proud to help my friend bring his vision to life. Bill says I’m his Dick Smith and he’s my Hal Holbrook. We laugh, but that really is the level of illusion we’re aiming for.” Smith’s prosthetics for Holbrook’s Mark Twain Tonight broke new SFX ground in 1967. For his part, Oberst says he’s “ecstatic” about what Farley (whose resume stretches from BABYLON 5, WOLF and Demolition Man to Quarry, Pod and Imitation Girl) is creating. “Jeff is a bit of a recluse and he’s very selective,” said Oberst “so I’m over the moon to have him crafting this illusion.”

(4) SF BOOK QUIZ. The Sporcle challenge: “Can you name the 100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books to Read in a Lifetime, according to Amazon?” You’ve got 16 minutes. And it’s not enough to know a good book by the authors – you have to get the ones that made the list. Filers have been playing all day since Giant Panda dropped the link in comments.

(5) ONCE MORE INTO THE LIFEBOAT DEAR FRIENDS. Slightly better than cancelled, not nearly as good as rescued or renewed — “NBC Sets ‘Timeless’ Two-Part Series Finale” reports Variety.

NBC will bring back “Timeless” for a special two-part series finale, the network confirmed Tuesday.

“We’re excited to tell one final chapter to this incredible story,” said Lisa Katz, co-president, scripted programming, NBC Entertainment. “A huge thank you to all — our cast, crew, producers and partners at Sony – who have worked so very hard, and to the fans who kept us on our toes and made sure we did our very best week after week.”

In June, NBC canceled the time travel drama from Sony Pictures Television and executive producers Shawn Ryan and Eric Kripke after two seasons. It was the second cancellation for “Timeless.” NBC had canceled the series after its first season, only to bring it back a few days later after Sony agreed to hand over a 50% stake in the show to NBC’s sister studio Universal Television.

(6) CURE FOR THE SUMMERTIME BLUES. Or at least a treatment for the symptoms. Jason, at Featured Futures, has condensed the month’s offerings down to a short list of cool stories in “Summation: July 2018”.

Here are the fifteen noted stories (four recommended) from the 92 stories of 503 Kwds I read from the July issues along with links to all their reviews and the other July posts on Featured Futures. This month’s wombat was a remarkable number of mostly print SF honorable mentions while all the few other items (except an excellent F&SF dark fantasy) came from the web.

(7) 2019 WORLDCON PROGRAM. Dublin 2019 has a form online where people can “Request to be a Programme Participant”. There’s more than one good reason to fill it out.

Kevin Standlee pointed out on Facebook a few days ago:

European data protection rules severely restrict the amount of information that entities can share with others, even those that hosted the previous event. You should assume that the 2019 Worldcon is starting with zero information about program participants, even if you were on program in Helsinki in 2017 or will be on program in San Jose in 2018. Contact Dublin if you’re interested in being on programming, and don’t assume that “of course they’ll just start with last year’s list” or “with the last European Worldcon’s list,” because legally, they can’t do that.

(8) LOOK OUT BELOW! What happens to the International Space Station when it can’t be maintained in orbit any more? It crashes, just like every other piece of hardware in low Earth orbit. Popular Mechanics takes a look at the status of plans to do this safely (hint: the plans are not nearly as well-developed as they should be; “Death Star: The ISS Doesn’t Have a Way to Crash Safely”).

As the debate over what to do with the International Space Station heats up, with a new NASA report casting doubt over the plans to commercialize it by 2025, the ultimate outcome could be its intentional crash landing into the Earth. But even that contingency is lacking, according to NASA Inspector General.

“At some future date NASA will need to decommission and deorbit the ISS either in response to an emergency or at the end of its useful life,” the report says. “However, the Agency currently does not have the capability to ensure the ISS will reenter the Earth’s atmosphere and land in a targeted location in the South Pacific Ocean.”
NASA, to its credit, has started the work. However, even the most preliminary steps are snarled up in diplomacy with the Russian space agency. The Inspector General says that in January 2017, NASA completed a draft plan but “this plan has not been finalized and is pending review by Roscosmos.”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

  • Born July 31 – France Nuyen, 79. In the original Outer Limits, Star Trek and Fantasy Island series, also Battle for the Planet of the Apes and The Six Million Dollar Man series.
  • Born July 31 – Geraldine Chaplin, 74. Dinotopia and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Gulliver’s Travels and a vampire series called  BloodRayne.
  • Born July 31 – Michael Biehn, 62. Best known in films directed by James Cameron; as Sgt. Kyle Reese in The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Cpl. Dwayne Hicks in Aliens and Lt. Coffey in The Abyss; also in Logan’s Run, Timebomb, AsteroidClockstoppers and The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power. 
  • Born July 31 – Wesley Snipes, 56. Genre roles include Demolition Man, the original Blade films, as an alien abducting humans in The Recall film, and a Mayan God in The Chronicles of the Mayan Tunnel.
  • Born July 31 – J. K. Rowling, 53. Harry Potter books and films, some other decidedly not genre work
  • Born July 31 – Annie Parisse, 43. Regular cast on the Person Of Interest series, also The First, a Mars mission series and NYPD 2069.
  • Born July 31 – Zelda Williams, 29. Daughter of Robin Williams, she’s been in genre work such as the Dark/Web series, plus voice work in the current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Legend of Korra, also roles in Stitchers and Teen Wolf.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) TOLKIEN AND LUCAS ON A DIET. Actor Topher Grace has taken to the editing suite and has taken a scalpel (or dwarven ax?) to the Hobbit trilogy—trimming the whole thing to a svelte two hours (IndieWire: “Topher Grace Recut ‘The Hobbit’ Trilogy as a 2-Hour Movie to Clear His Head After Playing David Duke”). Grace speaks of his reaction to playing David Duke in the upcoming BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee) and having his wife give birth during the production of that movie:

“I was so depressed.[…]  I was probably a terrible husband at the time. It was so disturbing to go home and turn on the news to see how his ideology was affecting us at the moment.”

Some people might have sought catharsis in a long vacation. Grace found a more unconventional outlet: Reediting Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” trilogy into a single movie.

Grace had previously recut the three prequel Star Wars movies into a combined 85-minute version he called Star Wars: Episode III.5: The Editor Strikes Back that was “for industry insiders before it disappeared from the internet” (SYFY Wire: “The Hobbit trilogy gets a new two-hour cut thanks to actor Topher Grace”). The IndieWire story continues:

While hardly the first fan edit of “The Hobbit,” Grace’s version may be one of the most palatable. One widely circulated fan edit in 2015, “The Tolkien Edit,” ran four hours long. Grace said he managed to reduce the entire trilogy to two hours, and felt that it was “a lot tighter.” (A Reddit forum actually predicted that Grace would tackle this project years ago.) “I don’t know what other guys do. Go fishing? For me, this is just a great way to relax,” the actor said. “There’s something really zen about it.”

(12) OUT OF JOINT. An expert in the time travel industry has found his next job: “Steven Moffat Developing The Time Traveler’s Wife Television Series for HBO”Tor.com has the story.

HBO has won the bidding war for a TV adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, from former Doctor Who showrunner and Sherlock creator Steven Moffat. Other outlets, including Amazon Studios, were in the running to acquire the series about Henry DeTamble and Clare Abshire’s nonlinear love story, according to Deadline.

The official logline from HBO is slightly tongue-in-cheek for a novel about Henry, a time traveler and librarian whose Chrono-Displacement Disorder drops him in and out of time, and artist Clare, who first meets Henry as a child and who spends the rest of her life encountering him at different ages as she progresses through time linearly…

“I read Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife many years ago, and I fell in love with it,” Moffat said in the official announcement. “In fact, I wrote a Doctor Who episode called ‘The Girl In The Fireplace’ as a direct response to it. When, in her next novel, Audrey had a character watching that very episode, I realised she was probably on to me. All these years later, the chance to adapt the novel itself, is a dream come true. The brave new world of long form television is now ready for this kind of depth and complexity. It’s a story of happy ever after?—?but not necessarily in that order.”

(13) OUTREACH. It’s not up to Gil Hamilton’s standard, but SingularityHub (“This Mind-Controlled Robotic Limb Lets You Multitask With Three Arms”) reports on a new brain-machine interface (BMI) that “only requires an electrode cap” and can control a third arm while you still use your biological two. The original paper (“BMI control of a third arm for multitasking”) is available at Science Robotics (a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science) for AAAS members or those willing to pony up to get past their paywall. Meanwhile, at SingularityHub:

To crack the problem, [Shuichi] Nichio and colleague Christian Penaloza recruited 15 volunteers and outfitted them with a prosthetic arm and a brain-wave-reading cap.

…The participants were asked to sit in a chair mounted with a robotic arm, strategically placed in a location that makes them feel like it’s part of their body. To start off, each participant was asked to balance a ball on a board using their own arms while wearing an electrode cap, which picks up the electrical activity from the brain.
Next, the volunteers turned their attention to the robotic arm. Sitting in the same chair, they practiced imagining picking up a bottle using the prosthesis while having their brain activity patterns recorded. A nearby computer learned to decipher this intent, and instructed the robotic arm to act accordingly.

Then came the fun part: the volunteers were asked to perform both actions simultaneously: balancing the ball with natural arms, and grasping the bottle with the robotic one. Eight out of the 15 participants successfully performed both actions; overall, the group managed cyborg multitasking roughly three quarters of the time.

(14) TIME AFTER TIME. Time for The Traveler at Galactic Journey to give John W. Campbell Jr. his monthly rap on the knuckles: “[July 30, 1963] Inoffensive Pact (August 1963 Analog)”.

At last we come to what you all will probably (as I did) turn to first: the conclusion to the second novel in the Deathworld series.  When last we left Jason dinAlt, interstellar gambler and lately resident of the dangerous world of Pyrrus, he had been enslaved by the D’sertanoj of a nearby primitive planet.  These desert-dwellers know how to mine petroleum, which they trade to the people of the country, Appsala, in exchange for caroj — steam powered battle wagons.  When dinAlt reveals that he can produce caroj himself, he is promoted to “employee” status and given run of the place.  He eventually escapes with his native companion, Ijale, as well as the obnoxiously moralistic Micah, who kidnapped dinAlt in the first place.  Adventures ensue.

The original Deathworld was a minor masterpiece, a parable about letting go of destructive hatred, suffused with a message on the importance of environmentalism.  It was also a cracking good read.  This new piece is just a yarn, one almost as clunky as the caroj dinAlt works on.  The theme is that universal morality is anything but, and ethics must be tailored to the society for which they are developed.

(15) SOLAR PROBE. NPR studies how NASA’s probe will keep from being burnt to a crisp: “Building A Probe That Will Survive A Trip To The Sun” — lightweight video with little discussion of the topic, but cool pictures of the probe being fitted out.

This summer, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe will embark on a mission to “touch the sun.”

“Touch” might be a bit of an overstatement — the probe will actually pass 3.8 million miles from the sun’s surface. Its primary job is to learn more about the outer atmosphere of the sun, called the corona. Many things about the corona remain a mystery. For example, scientists still aren’t sure why the corona of the sun is hotter than its surface. The probe will take a series of images and measurements to figure out how energy and heat move through the corona.

 

(16) CASE OF THE UNKNOWN CON. Trae Dorn at Nerd and Tie found the explanation is simple — “The Reason You Didn’t Hear About SBC Anime Festival Is Because Apparently No One Did”.

It’s been a week and a half since AVC Coventions‘s Bossier City, LA based SBC Anime Festival closed its doors for 2018, and you’d be forgiven for not even knowing it happened. The reason for this is that apparently no one knew it was.

Okay, so maybe that’s an exaggeration, but very few knew about it at least.

Needless to say, vendors and artists present weren’t exactly happy about spending their weekend in an empty hall. One of those vendors was artist K.F. Golden, who decided to detail their experience on Tumblr.

You should read the post in its entirety, but the gist of it is that very few people attended the convention. K.F. Golden took some pictures of the empty dealer hall, and it seems like no one knew the con was happening.

…The point is that when your event doesn’t do well, you still need to be able to talk to a vendor politely. This is basic customer service, and do not mistake me — when you are running a convention, vendors and artist are customers. If what K.F. Golden alleges is true, I would be hesitant to vend at any of AVC Conventions‘s other events.

(17) MY GENERATION. Phoebe Wagner delivers “Musings on The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang” at Nerds of a Feather.

While I love fantasy novels like The Poppy War, Kuang’s story has taken a special slot on my shelf because, as a millennial, I connected to the novel on a generational level. No, Kuang did not include avocado toast. From the voice to history to worldbuilding, the novel captured how I so often feel as a millennial. While the USA school testing systems are vastly different than Chinese systems, I remember the pressure of the SATs and GREs–and the relief at performing well. Like Rin, millennials grew up in the shadow of a terrorist attack and hearing the propaganda surrounding a war. Due to income inequality, those millennials that made it into “the good schools” found a cultural gap caused by wealth. Like Kuang’s worldbuilding around opium and other hallucinogens, so many millennials have watched their hometowns and families destroyed by opioids while simultaneously voting for the legalization of marijuana. These issues have marked the millennial generation, and Kuang captures them on the page.

(18) LET ROVER COME OVER. Here’s a curiosity: You can build your own open-source rover using JPL’s design.

(19) DISNEYLAND ICONS FOR SALE. Rachael Leone Shawfelt, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story “Rare Trove of Disneyland memorabilia Going Up For Auction–Here’s Your Sneak Peek” says RIchard Kraft is putting his collection of Disneyland memorabilia up for auction, including original rides from Dumbo the Flying Elephant  and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride as well as  a Swiss Family Treehouse organ.

Kraft’s treasures will be on display for the public in a free exhibition called “That’s From Disneyland!,” from Aug. 1 to Aug. 26, in Sherman Oaks, Calif. The items are arranged according to their former location in the park; for example, a piece of the Dumbo ride is close to rare Snow White dolls. Original maps of the park hang on the wall above a miniature re-creation of the park.

(20) MANIFEST. Trailer for the new series —

An airplane disappeared, and its passengers were presumed dead until they returned, unscathed, five years later. Manifest is coming to NBC on Mondays this fall.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 7/30/18 There Have Been Rumors About This Strange Scroll, Frightening Rumors About Hapennings Way Beyond The Laws of Nature

(1) FREE ELIZABETH BEAR BOOK. Joey Eschrich, Editor and Program Manager, Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University wants Filers to know they recently published We Have Always Died in the Castle, a free ebook featuring a near-future story about virtual reality by Elizabeth Bear. It also features a couple of stunning original illustrations by Melissa Gay.

Virtual reality technology is no longer confined to computer-science labs and high-tech theme parks. Today, head-mounted goggles, sensors, and haptic control systems are tools for immersive journalism, professional development, and clinical therapy. In this novella, award-winning science fiction and fantasy author Elizabeth Bear and artist Melissa Gay imagine a near future informed by visceral VR simulations to catalyze positive change.

We Have Always Died in the Castle is the first story in the Crowd Futures project from Arizona State University. An experiment in collaborative storytelling, Crowd Futures brings authors and illustrators into dialogue with members of an intellectually curious public to participate in the creative process by proposing scenarios, sharing ideas, weighing options, and navigating the uncertainties of our looming scientific and technological discoveries.

(2) ON THE RADIO. SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie tells Filers when to tune in to BBC Radio 4.

Cowie says, “A slight shame this was not broadcast a couple of weekends ago as that would have been compensation for those of us who did not go to the Eurocon in Amiens, the home of Jules Verne”

  • Radio 4 Extra (a separate BBC radio channel supplementing Radio 4) will shortly see a programme on the comic Eagle [Wikipedia]. (But I don’t think they – BBC – have a web page for this prog yet). This was a mainstay for kids aged 8 to 12 in the 1960s wit a few SF related strips.  The most famous of which was Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future [Wikipedia].
  • The channel will also broadcast a related programme, a drama adaptation of the Dan Dare adventure Voyage to Venus (there is a page for it).

(3) ATTENTION ALL FILERS WHO HAVE $100K THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH. A rare Magic: The Gathering card (“Black Lotus from the original [Alpha] release”) has sold on eBay for $87,672 — not counting shipping of $125  There were “exactly 1,100 copies printed of every ‘rare’ card in the Alpha set” (Kotaku.com: “Rare Alpha Black Lotus Sells For $87,000”) and ghis one was graded as a 9.5/10. At this writing, another copy (graded 9/10) is listed on eBay for $100,000.

(4) ORDER A NORSE COURSE. Francesca Strait, in “Channel Your Inner Thor At This Viking Restaurant in Australia” on CNN.com, says that if you’re in Sydney or Melbourne, you can have a Viking feast at Mjølner restaurant, named after Thor’s hammer.

It might be thousands of miles from Scandinavia, but this Viking-themed restaurant offers a contemporary interpretation of Norse traditions Down Under.

Mjølner restaurant first originated in Sydney and there’s a recently opened outpost in Melbourne, named after Thor’s famous hammer.

Of course, Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth, is a proud Aussie and featured in a recent Crocodile Dundee-themed tourism ad for Australia, so it’s only fitting the feasting halls of Asgard are being recreated in Oz.

(5) SEMI-FORGOTTEN HARD SCIENCE. James Davis Nicoll remembers when “When Ramjets Ruled Science Fiction”.

The classic Bussard ramjet novel is, of course, Poul Anderson’s Tau Zero. What was for other authors a convenient prop was one of the centerpieces of Anderson’s novel. The Leonora Christina sets out for Beta Virginis, a nearby star. A mid-trip mishap robs the ship of its ability to slow down. Repairs are impossible unless they shut down the ramjet, but if the crew did that, they would instantly be exposed to lethal radiation. There’s no choice but to keep accelerating and hope that the ship will eventually encounter a region in the intergalactic depths with a sufficiently hard vacuum so that the ramjet could be safely shut down. Even if they did find such a region, the crew is still committed to a journey of many millions of light years, one that will forever distance them from their own time.

Even before Tau Zero, Bussard ramjets were everywhere. Larry Niven’s A Gift From Earth feature an egregiously hierarchical society that is toppled thanks to a package delivered by robotic ramship. Jo Walton’s review of that novel is here.

(James Davis Nicoll also proudly notes, “I got name-checked in the Guardian” — “The English language reigns now, but look at the fate of Latin”.

The point is made graphically by a famous description attributed to James Nicoll: “We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary”.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born July 30 – Arnold Schwarzenegger, 71. Terminator franchise of courses as well as Running ManConan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer, Tales from the Crypt and True Lies. Apparently in sort of announced Conan and Terminator reboots.
  • Born July 30 – Christopher Nolan, 48. Writer, producer and often director as well of the Batman film franchise, The Prestige, Interstellar, Inception and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to name some of his work.

(7) HINTING UNDINTING. An utterly brilliant challenge on Reddit: In limerick form (AABBA), and without saying its name, what is your favorite movie?

There once was a man with a dream:
“Put a dream in a dream!” He would scream.
There’s a top at the end,
And we all pretend
That we definitely know what it means.

Two rockers were failing a class,
so they telephoned back to the past.
They escaped awful fates
with some help from Socrates,
and the speech by Abe Lincoln kicked ass.

(One commenter says the choice to rhyme fates and Socrates was excellent.)

It’s a tale that’s a bit unbelievable:
A princess is now irretrievable.
When a man all in black
Catches up from the back
The kidnapper says, “Inconceivable!”

(8) ARTIFICIAL STUPIDITY? “IBM’s Watson supercomputer recommended ‘unsafe and incorrect’ cancer treatments, internal documents show”STAT News has the story – behind a paywall, unfortunately.

Internal IBM documents show that its Watson supercomputer often spit out erroneous cancer treatment advice and that company medical specialists and customers identified “multiple examples of unsafe and incorrect treatment recommendations” as IBM was promoting the product to hospitals and physicians around the world.

The documents — slide decks presented last summer by IBM Watson Health’s deputy chief health officer — largely blame the problems on the training of Watson by IBM engineers and doctors at the renowned Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 30, 1958War Of The Colossal Beast enjoyed its New York theatrical premiere

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Monty illustrates one of the downsides of a writer using a coffee shop as free office space.
  • Non Sequitur explains when to accept defeat.
  • Would you admit your worst fear? — Candorville.

(11) ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK.

(12) POLITICAL DISCOURSE. One small step for man, one giant bleep for mankind. From the Washington Post — “Perspective What is Bigfoot erotica? A Virginia congressional candidate accused her opponent of being into it.”

Our weird political era just got a little hairier. For the first time, millions of Americans are asking, “What is Bigfoot erotica?”

That question has been inspired by Leslie Cockburn, a Democrat who’s running for Congress in Virginia’s 5th District. On Twitter this Sunday, Cockburn accused her Republican opponent, Denver Riggleman, of being a “devotee of Bigfoot erotica.” Her tweet included a crudely drawn image of Bigfoot — with the monster’s genitalia obscured — taken from Riggleman’s Instagram account. She added, “This is not what we need on Capitol Hill.”

…Chuck Tingle, the pseudonym of an author of comically absurd erotica, is perhaps the most well-known creator of monster porn, including about 10 books featuring encounters with Sasquatch. Reached via email, Tingle said he understands why Bigfoot monsters are so attractive as romantic heroes: “They are natural outdoorsmen .?.?. which I think is nice, and, even though it seems like they could have a bad-boy way, they are actually very kind.” He imagines his readers think, “Wow, he could protect me in a big fight, and he could also take me on a walk in nature and show me which are the best plants to kiss or to eat in a stew.”

“Such stories, he said, “prove love is real for all.”

Whether the voters of Virginia’s 5th District will agree is not clear

(13) A FUTURE TO AVOID. Ian Allen’s opinion piece “Inside the World of Racist Science Fiction” in the New York Times says “To understand why white supremacists back the president, we have to understand the books that define their worldview.” Andrew Porter sent the link with a note, “The article has a horrible title, bound to sow confusion. Absolutely nothing at all to do with professionally published science fiction, or SF fandom.” Just the same, I’m surprised I  never heard of any of these authors before.

Two years later — after Richard Spencer, after Charlottesville — the public has heard a lot about white supremacist culture. But I’d argue that we haven’t quite heard enough. To understand their ideologies and why they support this president so strongly, we need to examine their literature…..

Most of the books are self-published. Others are distributed by small, activist imprints or the publishing arms of white nationalist organizations. They are sold online, at gun shows or person to person. This scattershot distribution system makes it hard to track sales, but the more popular titles are estimated to have sold hundreds of thousands of copies. I acquired some out-of-print titles from rare book dealers.
They are dog-eared, annotated and often inscribed.

… White supremacists seem convinced that the novels’ “white genocide” is coming to life, and are petitioning Mr. Trump for help. This past spring, Andrew Anglin, the deeply sinister and darkly clever force behind Daily Stormer, the most Millennial-y neo-Nazi site on the web, started to spread the news of a “migrant caravan” that was moving through Central America, toward the United States-Mexico border. It was a protest march, organized by the Central American pro-immigration activist group Pueblo Sin Fronteras. The march has taken place every year since 2010 without ever getting much traction in the press.

But Mr. Anglin saw an opportunity in the implication of a literal enactment of [Jean Raspail’s 1973 novel] “The Camp of the Saints.” He rallied his troll army to petition Mr. Trump to use the word “caravans” publicly, and on April 1, he did. In fact, he and Vice President Mike Pence used the word multiple times, then issued an order to send the National Guard to the border. The story dominated the news cycle for days, and Mr. Anglin took a well-deserved victory lap, bragging that “the media was not talking about this, only the alt-right was, and Trump is posting about it — so he does hear us.”

…It is unlikely that Mr. Trump has read any of these books. But members of his staff undoubtedly have. His former aide Steve Bannon is a fan of “The Camp of the Saints” and refers to it often — in knowing, offhand ways that betray both his familiarity with racist literature and his awareness of his target audience’s reading habits. Another administration official, Julie Kirchner, was named ombudsman at the Customs and Border Protection after spending 10 years as the executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. That organization, which Southern Poverty Law Center has designated a hate group, was founded by John Tanton, who runs The Social Contract Press, which is the current publisher of “The Camp of the Saints.”

The point is not that there is a direct line between, say, “The Turner Diaries” and the Oval Office. Rather, it’s that the tropes that define the Trump administration’s rhetoric and policies — apocalyptic xenophobia, anti-Semitic conspiracies, racist fear-mongering — are also the tropes that define white-supremacist literature.

(14) EMISSION QUITE POSSIBLE. James Corden looks like he might lose it before they even get him on the plane —

[Thanks to JJ, Rick Moen, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern,Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Joey Eschrich, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 7/29/18 Winter Comes To Pixels, As Well As To Scrolls.

(1) BRONYCON TO END. Next year’s BronyCon is the last, it was announced at this weekend’s event in Baltimore.

BronyCon is the world’s largest family-friendly convention for and by fans of the animated TV series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

(2) HELP HUGO AND CAMPBELL FINALISTS ATTEND WORLDCON. Mary Robinette Kowal is running a GoFundMe appeal to help get more award finalists to Worldcon 76.

Kowal says, “We’ve managed to get six finalists to the Hugos who otherwise would not have been able to attend.”

At this writing, “Worldcon Finalist Assistance” has raised $2,335 of its $10,000 goal.

Earlier this year we raised money to bring one of our Campbell Nominees to the Hugos and were met with astounding support! Now, we want to offer that same opportunity to the other WorldCon Awards Finalists so that they can participate in the celebration of their work.

Much like the previous fundraiser, we want to raise money for:

    • Plane tickets
    • Hotel stays
    • WorldCon memberships
    • Per diem
    • Ceremony attire rental
  • Other potential costs, based on individual needs

Thankfully, we have a strong community that is dedicated to celebrating authors, their work, and these awards. We want to hear from the folks we’re voting for, and they should be able to attend their own party!

What happens if we raise more?

That money will go towards an ongoing  fund dedicated to defraying the costs for future WorldCon Finalists.

(3) RINGBEARERS. David Doering is ecstatic, because of the LTUE connection:

BIG, BIG News here for Utah–INCREDIBLE NEWS in fact! Our own LTUE alumnus JD Payne and his writing cohort Patrick McKay will pen Amazon’s new The Lord of the Rings series. WOW! Those who met him last year know he’s one of the most approachable people and an inspired writer.

Deadline has the story: “‘The Lord Of the Rings’ Hires Writers JD Payne & Patrick McKay As Amazon Series Moves To Next Development Phase – TCA”.

As Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke previously has suggested, creating the big-scope fantasy drama will involve a writers room. Payne and McKay were selected from a shortlist of scribes considered for the job, most of them from features, in the talent search, overseen by Amazon’s head of genre Sharon Tal Yguado.

Payne and McKay are rising feature writers who recently worked on Star Trek 4 for producer J.J. Abrams. I hear Abrams was one of a number of high-profile filmmakers and producers who  recommended the duo for the LOTR job.

With the search for lead writers completed, the development of the series is moving to the next stage with the set up of . writers room to collaborate on Payne and McKay’s vision. It is unclear yet — but possible — that any of the other writers who made it to the short list for the gig would be invited and that the project would bring in a showrunner.

(4) STEP RIGHT UP. Nicholas Whyte has “Two small Hugo reforms looking for co-sponsors”. Full text at the link.

A couple of minor amendments to the rules that I’d like to put to this year’s WSFS business meeting, but I need at least one co-sponsor. I won’t be there myself, but I think that these are technical and uncontroversial, and encode existing best practice in order to remove ambiguity. Please let me know, in comments here or by other channels, if you are a Worldcon 76 member willing to add your name to the list of sponsors. The deadline is 2 August.

(5) TOY STORY LAND. In the Washington Post, Steve Hendrix visits Toy Story Land at Disney World, which opened in late June, where  Baby Boomer favorites (Etch-a-Sketch, Yahtzee, Barrel of Monkeys) illustrate the rides and you can get snacks in a food station shaped as “Andy’s lunchbox propped open by Andy’s Thermos.” — “Larger-than-life charm at Walt Disney World’s Toy Story Land”.

You only have to go a few steps into Toy Story Land to sense that big thinkers have made huge efforts to make you feel small. The pieces used to assemble this toy-dimensional universe are agreeably supersize, from the Tinker Toy fences the size of satellite dishes and water mains to the life-size (because they’re alive) green army men marching to and fro in this 11-acre Pixarian play yard.

Specifically, it’s a backyard. In Walt Disney World’s newest major addition, which opened in late June at Disney’s Hollywood Studios park in the Florida resort, the Imagineers are trying to place you between the very blades (in this case, soaring shoots of bamboo) of a grassy lot filled with the daily detritus of a child at play.

(6) ABU DHABI DOO! John King Tarpinian says he wants to visit Bedrock — LAist reports “Warner Bros. Just Opened A Billion-Dollar Theme Park! And It’s Air-Conditioned! (But It’s In Abu Dhabi)”.

…It’s part of the United Arab Emirates’ efforts to become a world tourist destination. Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island (yaaaaas!) already features Ferrari World, which includes the world’s fastest rollercoaster, and Waterworld. (No, not that Waterworld.) You also have Dubai as a major travel center, with other local parks including Legoland, IMG Worlds of Adventure, and Motiongate.

Excited yet? Look, you can book a flight here! We’ve seen prices as low as $800 round-trip (though it’ll be around $2,500 if you want to leave, like, NOW).

You enter the park through Warner Bros. Plaza, which features old-school Hollywood style in an art deco setting. Like Disney’s Main Street U.S.A., it’s the portal to the rest of what this park offers. Then you can venture into the bright superhero world of Superman’s Metropolis or the darker realm of Batman’s Gotham City, as well as checking out the other cartoon-themed realms.

 

(7) PRESIDENTIAL MOMENT. Horror Writers Association President Lisa Morton is interviewed by The Witch Haunt.

WH: So many wonderful accomplishments so far! What other career would you have if not writing/publishing?

I actually have another career that I love: I’m a bookseller. I work for a used and rare bookstore, where I get to catalogue some truly magnificent rarities.

WH: How awesome that you get to go through daily life surrounded by stories. Which of your written works are you most proud of?

I think my novel Malediction, which was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award (but lost to Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep).

WH: Malediction, about curses, psychic powers, ghosts and such sounds like my perfect cup of horror. If you could have coffee with any horror author, gone or alive, who would it be?

He’s not primarily a horror author, but I have to say Philip K. Dick.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • Born July 29, 1958 — The U.S. Congress passes legislation establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

  • July 29, 2002 — M. Night Shyamalan premieres SIGNS

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) RIVER’S END. Paul Weimer at Nerds of a Feather: “Microreview [book]: The Black God’s Drums by P Djelli Clark”.

The real richness of the novella is it is delight in invention, with an eye for creating a world that is rich for the potential for story and adventure. From the palpable existence of very active orishas, to an alternate history with a Confederacy, Haiti as a Caribbean power, and, naturally, airships, the world that Clark has created is a fascinating one that we only get a small short-novella taste of, but I want to read more of. The vision of New Orleans as a freeport where the Union, the Confederacy, Haiti and other powers all meet and trade, complete with extensive airship facilities is a compelling and fascinating one. There are hints that the world beyond what we see is similarly not the one we know, either, but really, Clark could tell many stories just in the North America and Caribbean around New Orleans. There is just simply a lot of canvas here for the author to unleash her protagonist and other characters upon.

(11) MIXED BAG. Adri Joy finds good and bad in this Fforde outing: Microreview [Book]: Early Riser by Jasper Fforde at Nerds of a Feather.

…while Early Riser is another magnificent entry in Fforde’s bibliography, it didn’t wow me to the same extent as The Eyre Affair or Shades of Grey did; I’m quite happy that it’s intended to be a standalone, and don’t feel a great need to explore any more of this particular world beyond what this volume offers. Everything just feels more constrained than Fforde’s other work, and while part of this is just the claustrophobic hibernal setting, I suspect it’s also just built on a smaller scale. The weird details and tangents are just interesting enough to carry the story they are in, without leaving much additional food for thought. It’s highly obnoxious to judge a work based on the timelines of the author’s unfinished series, but I suspect for a lot of long-time fans, Early Riser might be a mixed experience: great fun, a promising sign of more to come, and yet not quite what we were waiting for. That said, being a standalone at least means it doesn’t end with more tension, wrapping up Charlie’s story and its world-changing implications in a swift but ultimately satisfying conclusion.

(12) WHEN BEST MEANS BEST. Joe Sherry is on his way to a flying finish – “Reading the Hugos: Series” at Nerds of a Feather.

It’s time for another installment of Reading the Hugos and it’s time to either go big or go home. Since I’m already sitting at home while I write this, I think I’m going to go big and cover the abundance of excellence up for Best Series.

There is so much goodness here that it isn’t even fair.

Best Series last year was a trial run, a special one time category (pending the ratification at the WSFS business meeting at last year’s Worldcon) – which makes this the first full year of the category. I’m probably the only person who is going to think of things like this.

If last year was a proof of concept and this year represents the very high bar we should expect from the Best Series quality, we’re looking at one of the strongest categories on the ballot year after year. The series I ranked lowest on my ballot is exceptional. The only challenge here is that there is a lot of reading to do to at least get a brief overview of each series, let alone do a deep dive.

(13) SIODMAK’S BRAIN. Eric Leif Davin’s interview with Curt Siodmak, a chapter in his book Pioneers of Wonder (1999) has been posted at SF Magazines: “From Print to the Screen: A Conversation with Curt Siodmak by Eric Leif Davin”.

Upon graduation from the University of Zurich, Curt joined his brother in Berlin. There, the vagaries of the financial situation made it impossible to pursue his engineering career. Instead, he drifted into his brother’s film circle and wrote scripts for several of Robert’s films. Both brothers fled the Nazis in the early thir­ties and eventually ended up in Hollywood. Curt was quickly given a job writing a sarong picture for Dorothy Lamour and a succession of such assignments followed for the next two decades. A number of his assignments for Universal Pictures— The Wolf Man, House of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, Son of Dracula, and others—have since become horror classics. This, as he makes clear in the following conver­sation, was entirely accidental. He had no particular affection for or interest in either horror or science fiction—indeed, he never read the stuff. It was merely a job….

I see. Did you always think science fiction was gibberish?

Of course, it was always gibberish. You know, the human mind is so limited. We write about societies on other worlds, and they resemble us so much. You look at the paintings of Brueghel or Bosch10 and all those demons look like men with two eyes and two arms—hard to think of a new shape. The same with societies. You go into outer space and you find fascism or communism or the Roman Empire or feudal Europe. We don’t have much in our brains.
I wrote a few books about space, Skyport and City in the Sky.11 A friend took me to visit engineers at Lockheed because he thought talking with them would help give me ideas. They got their ideas from reading my books!
For instance, instead of launching rockets from the ground to reach orbit, why not have a huge elevator into space, miles high? Launch things from the top and they save so much on fuel!

Didn’t Arthur C. Clarke already write about that in The Fountains of Paradise?12

Who? I don’t know. I never read that.

(14) DRAGONS. Coming to the Worldcon 76 art show.

(15) FAMILY OKAYS CARRIE FISHER APPEARANCE. Members of Carrie Fisher’s family are expressing support for her appearance in the next main-line Star Wars movie (SYFY Wire: ”Carrie Fisher’s brother, Todd, couldn’t be happier for Leia’s return in Star Wars: Episode IX”). It had already been reported that Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, approved the plan to recycle unused footage shot for Episode VII in Episode IX. Now Fisher’s brother, Todd Fisher, has given has given his blessing, also.

“I couldn’t be more personally thrilled and happy that our Carrie will reprise her role as Princess Leia in the new and final Star Wars Episode IX, using previously unreleased footage of her shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” he said. “As we, her family, as well as her extended family of fans around the world so believe, Carrie’s Princess Leia is forever entrenched in the franchise and her indelible presence is fundamental to the film. J.J. Abrams understood Carrie’s iconic role, and he has masterfully re-crafted this final entry to include this unused and very last footage of Carrie ever taken, without resorting to CGI or animatronics. Our family and her fans will look forward with great anticipation for this one! Her force will forever be with us!”

(16) AN ORVILLE TO LOOK FORWARD TO. Two Star Trek: TNG stars will unite on an episode of The Orville, albeit with only one of them in front of the camera (ComicBook.com: “‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ Alum Marina Sirtis to Guest Star in ‘The Orville’ Season 2“).

It was previously announced that Jonathan Frakes, who played Commander William Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation and directed several episodes of Star Trek television and two movies, will direct an episode of The Orville Season Two. It seems Frakes is bringing his Imzadi with him, as Marina Sirtis, who played Counselor Deanna Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation, recently shared a photo of herself with Frakes and [Seth] MacFarlane asking, “Where am I?”

Frakes seemingly confirmed that Sirtis is on The Orville set in the photo by responding to the tweet, saying “Cat’s out of the bag now…”

Trek Movie has since also confirmed that Sirtis will guest star in an episode of The Orville

(17) FALL TV SCHEDULES. Did you know you can find these on the Wikipedia? Grids for the larger networks in each country, except for PBS in the USA.

(18) PLAGUE PRACTICE. The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security created a simulation of a “moderately contagious and moderately lethal” emergent virus that could decimate the world population—in the literal sense of killing 10% of humans (Business Insider: “Pandemic virus simulation from Johns Hopkins shows our vulnerability”). The “Clade X” simulation concerned a bioengineered virus, but a novel emergent natural virus could have the same effect. The fictional situation is described as killing 150 million in 20 months of simulated time, expected to rise to 900 million eventually if no vaccine could be created. At that 20-month mark of simulated time, researches paused for a real-time day:

On May 15th, when the  “Clade X” simulation  was played out real-time, the people acting out the scenario were the sorts of individuals who’d be responding to this situation in real life. The  players included  former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Indiana Representative Susan Brooks (R), former CDC Director Julie Gerberding, and others with extensive experience….

“I think we learned that even very knowledgeable, experienced, devoted senior public officials who have lived through many crises still have trouble dealing with something like this,” Dr. Eric Toner, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health Security and the designer of the Clade X simulation, told Business Insider. “And it’s not because they are not good or smart or dedicated, it’s because we don’t have the systems we need to enable the kind of response we’d want to see.”

(19) HEAVENLY ABODES. Business Insider has posted some 1970’s vintage NASA concept drawings for three variants of space habitats, designed to hold between 10,000 and 1,000,000 people each (“NASA once envisioned life after Earth in these fantastical floating cities”). They credit NASA Ames Research Center for the photos, making them public domain and fair game if you want an aspirational image for your computer or smart phone wallpaper. The ships range from a simple toroid to a massive cylinder.

In the 1970s, physicists from Princeton University, the NASA Ames Research Center, and Stanford University created fantastical illustrations of massive orbiting cities for life after Earth. The scientists imagined a worse-case scenario in which our planet would be destroyed, and humankind would move to space.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/28/18 Error 770 Pixel Not Scrolled

(1) HUGO VOTING CLOSES JULY 31. Worldcon 76 sent members a reminder earlier in the week:

Voting for both will end on Tuesday, July 31, 2018 at 11:59 PM PDT.  Online voting forms and Voter Packet downloads for both sets of awards are located on the Worldcon 76 website. The 2018 ballot can be found at https://www.worldcon76.org/hugo/vote.php and the 1943 ballot can be found at https://www.worldcon76.org/hugo/retro_vote.php.

(2) SHAKEN, NOT BEAMED UP. This is not my father’s Popular Mechanics, full of fannish esoterica like “Ten Forward Vodka Is What Riker Puts in His Martini”.

The next time you want to grab a vesper martini with a Vulcan or pour yourself a holodeck Harvey Wallbanger, reach for a bottle of Ten Forward. That’s right: There is now an officially licensed Star Trek: The Next Generation vodka made by Silver Screen Bottling Company and named for Guinan’s bar on the USS Enterprise-D.

The best thing about this novelty booze is clearly the bottle. Its type and graphics are an homage to the LCARS computer system seen on all the terminals and pads used throughout the show.

(3) AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH. BBC does a word study: “Tsundoku: The art of buying books and never reading them”.

Do you have a habit of picking up books that you never quite get around to reading?

If this sounds like you, you might be unwittingly engaging in tsundoku – a Japanese term used to describe a person who owns a lot of unread literature….

The word “doku” can be used as a verb to mean “reading”. According to Prof Gerstle, the “tsun” in “tsundoku” originates in “tsumu” – a word meaning “to pile up”.

So when put together, “tsundoku” has the meaning of buying reading material and piling it up.

“The phrase ‘tsundoku sensei’ appears in text from 1879 according to the writer Mori Senzo,” Prof Gerstle explained. “Which is likely to be satirical, about a teacher who has lots of books but doesn’t read them.”

While this might sound like tsundoku is being used as an insult, Prof Gerstle said the word does not carry any stigma in Japan.

(4) AMAZON’S AMBITIOUS GENRE TV PLANS. SYFY Wire has published a story (“Star Trek 4 Writers to Helm Lord of the Rings TV Series and More from Amazon Studios”) with a variety of news from Amazon about upcoming genre shows. The headline news is that “writers JD Payne and Patrick McKay [who wrote the upcoming 4th Star Trek movie] will oversee the Lord of the Rings TV series” which is expected to air no sooner than 2020. The series will be set in a time prior to the events of the LorR books (and movies) but little other details has been annoiunced by the studio. Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke has said “It’s a vast world and so many ways to go with that property. We brought in so many people with abundant enthusiasm for the property. They will move us into the the next stage as they build out this world.”

The SYFY Wire story also brings news of other genre series from Amazon:

  • THEM: Covenant[…] is: ‘Set in 1953, Alfred and Lucky Emory decide to move their family from North Carolina to an all-white Los Angeles neighborhood. The family’s home on a tree lined, seemingly idyllic street becomes ground zero where malevolent forces both real and supernatural threaten to taunt, ravage and destroy them.’”
  • Half-hour comedy Upload“will revolve around the ability of humans to upload themselves to a selected afterlife” and is said to be “a sci-fi romcom [that] will star Robbie Amell [and] Andy Allo.”
  • Cryptically, “Avengers: Infinity Wardirectors Joe and Anthony Russo are developing ‘a radical global storytelling disruption’ that will be ‘a large-scope, multi-layered international event series’ [and an] ‘origin mothership series will function as a fire-starter to ignite the creation of multiple original local language and local production series. All of the local series are meant to enhance the entire entertainment experience and will be available for the viewer to deep dive into an imagined layered world.’”

(Can anyone parse that last one and tell me what that last sentence really means?)

(5) THIRTY YEARS OF THE SIMPSONS?! Mike Riess, veteran of The Simpsons, has written a book about the series: Springfield Confidential.

Four-time Emmy winner Mike Reiss—who has worked on The Simpsons continuously since episode one in 1989—shares stories, scandals, and gossip about working with America’s most iconic cartoon family ever. Reiss explains how the episodes are created, and provides an inside look at the show’s writers, animators, actors and celebrity guests. He answers a range of questions from Simpsons fans and die-hards, and reminisces about the making of perennially favorite episodes.

In his freewheeling, irreverent comic style, Reiss reflects on his lifetime inside The Simpsons—a personal highlights reel of his achievements, observations, and favorite stories. Springfield Confidential exposes why Matt Groening decided to make all of the characters yellow; dishes on what it’s like to be crammed in a room full of funny writers sixty hours a week; and tells what Reiss learned after traveling to seventy-one countries where The Simpsons is watched (ironic note: there’s no electricity in many of these places); and even reveals where Springfield is located! He features unique interviews with Judd Apatow, who also provided the foreword, and Conan O’Brien, as well as with Simpsons legends Al Jean, Nancy Cartwright, Dan Castellaneta, and more…

(6) REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY. Adweek points out a reference-filled video: “Buckle Up. This Short Film From a Financial Tech Startup Is Part Black Mirror, Part ‘They Live’”.

Bank ads love to talk about your dreams. A bucolic retirement, an Ivy League education for your kids, that five-bedroom home with the “Sold” sign in the yard.

But a new long-form ad—or branded short film, more accurately—from Canadian financial tech startup Koho positions banks not as the enablers of your best life but rather as harvesters of dreams, brutally siphoning customers of both their money and their aspirations.

It’s not a pretty picture.

Dystopian, bleak and visceral, “Dream Thieves” accomplishes exactly what Koho set out to do with its first major marketing push. Led by Jason Chaney, Koho’s chief creative officer, the video was directed by French music video visionary Fleur Fortuné and produced by acclaimed Canadian agency Cossette, where Chaney previously served as chief strategist.

Sci-fi aficionados will notice no small number of references, some subtle and others overt, to previous movies, shows and even ads. While the overall tone may remind modern TV viewers of the Netflix anthology Black Mirror, Chaney says his team has counted roughly 30 references in “Dream Thieves,” including callbacks to A Clockwork Orange, Poltergeist and Apple’s iconic ad “1984.”

 

(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.

When you complain about slow internet service, remember this:

The first transcontinental phone call was held between the device’s inventor, Alexander Graham Bell, and his former assistant Thomas Watson in 1915. Bell called from Dey Street in New York City to Grant Avenue in San Francisco. It took five telephone operators 23 minutes to manually connect the call. (Source: Wikipedia)

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 28, 1956 The Cyclops had its theatrical release
  • July 28, 1995Waterworld premiered

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

  • Born July 28 – Georgia Engel, 70. First genre appearance on the first Fantasy Island series followed by lots voice work in such productions as The Special Magic of Herself the Elf, Dr. Doolittle 2,  and the Hercules series.
  • Born July 28 – Lori Loughlin, 54. First genre work was in The Tom Swift and Linda Craig Mystery Hour series, also the Amityville 3-D film, the animated Justice League Unlimited series, likewise the animated Casper: A Spirited Beginning film.
  • Born July 28 – Elizabeth Berkley, 46. Yes she’s done some genre work including The Twilight Zone, Perversions of Science which appears to be akin to the Tales from The Crypt series, the animated Armitage III: Polymatrix series, and the Threshold series which pops up regularly in these birthday notes.
  • Born July 28 – Tom Pelphrey, 36. Regular role in the Iron Fist series and not much else for genre work other than appearing in Ghost Whisperer.
  • Born July 28 – Dustin Milligan, 33. Regular role in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency series; other genre roles were on Andromeda (which I’ve not seen — worth seeing?), in the Final Destination 3 film, The Dead Zone, Supernatural, and a bit of probably horrible horror called Demonic.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) RELOADED.  Lou Antonelli’s Hugo nominee “Replacement Pins” have arrived. Photo at the post.

(12) A THOUSAND TIMES, NEIGH. The Verge shows why “The future of search-and-rescue robots might be centaur, not human”. The embedded video has the bot doing what looks for all the world like a tai chi routine for the first several seconds of the ~3 min video.

Centauro is the latest experiment by scientists to find the most adaptable and useful body-shape for robots designed to help in disasters. Usually, these machines are built like humans, with two arms and two legs, but researchers are increasingly finding that hybrid designs offer more flexibility. With its four wheeled legs, Centauro is more stable than a humanoid bot, but still retains the two forward-facing arms needed for manipulating objects like tools and doors. (Or, as in the video below, karate-chopping some plywood for fun.)

(13) WHEN THE SEA IS BOILING HOT. NPR explains how “Hot Weather Spells Trouble For Nuclear Power Plants”.

Air temperatures have stubbornly lingered above 90 degrees in many parts of Sweden, Finland and Germany, and water temperatures are abnormally high — 75 degrees or higher in the usually temperate Baltic Sea.

That’s bad news for nuclear power plants, which rely on seawater to cool reactors.

Finland’s Loviisa power plant, located about 65 miles outside Helsinki, first slightly reduced its output on Wednesday. “The situation does not endanger people, [the] environment or the power plant,” its operator, the energy company Fortum, wrote in a statement.

The seawater has not cooled since then, and the plant continued to reduce its output on both Thursday and Friday, confirmed the plant’s chief of operations, Timo Eurasto. “The weather forecast [means] it can continue at least a week. But hopefully not that long,” he said.

(14) NO SINGULAR SENSATION. Forbes says the public needs to catch up, that model is decades out of date: “There Was No Big Bang Singularity”.

…There is a theorem, famous among cosmologists, showing that an inflationary state is past-timelike-incomplete. What this means, explicitly, is that if you have any particles that exist in an inflating Universe, they will eventually meet if you extrapolate back in time. This doesn’t, however, mean that there must have been a singularity, but rather that inflation doesn’t describe everything that occurred in the history of the Universe, like its birth. We also know, for example, that inflation cannot arise from a singular state, because an inflating region must always begin from a finite size.

Every time you see a diagram, an article, or a story talking about the “big bang singularity” or any sort of big bang/singularity existing before inflation, know that you’re dealing with an outdated method of thinking. The idea of a Big Bang singularity went out the window as soon as we realized we had a different state — that of cosmic inflation — preceding and setting up the early, hot-and-dense state of the Big Bang. There may have been a singularity at the very beginning of space and time, with inflation arising after that, but there’s no guarantee. In science, there are the things we can test, measure, predict, and confirm or refute, like an inflationary state giving rise to a hot Big Bang. Everything else? It’s nothing more than speculation.

(15) BITE ME. Here’s some more bad science you’ll be less surprised to hear about. The Washington Post’s Emily Yahr notes that Discovery broadcast Megalodon:  Fact vs. Fiction last night, even though there is no evidence that hungry prehistoric sharks are in the ocean: “A fake Shark Week documentary about megalodons caused controversy. Why is Discovery bringing it up again?”

At the beginning of this special, a narrator explains the dust-up. Unflattering headlines from news articles at the time (“Discovery kicks off Shark Week with dishonest documentary”) and angry tweets fly across the screen. The special keeps a tongue-in-cheek tone; at one point, shark conservationist Julie Andersen acknowledges the scenes of Shark Alley, a real-life area off the South African coast, was pretty accurate in the fake film.

“But let me repeat myself: There are no megalodons!” she adds.

“We get it, smarty-pants. No megalodons roam the modern seas,” the voice-over narrator shoots back. “But when they did, the oceans were like a Darwinian Thunderdome, survived only by the fittest and biggest.”

(16) HOLD FAST. Beth Elderkin at Gizmodo’s io9 takes a look at Star Wars weapons and the characters who love them (“A Shockingly In-Depth Examination of How Star Wars Characters Hold Their Weapons”). Though, one might quibble about just how shockingly in-depth it is. Blasters, light sabers, stunners, and even capes are considered. Poses and grips are dissected. As the author puts it, “We’re here to not only explore but celebrate the art of looking cool while holding a toy gun or fluorescent lightbulb on a stick.”

(17) BY GEORGE! Item 5 in yesterday’s Scroll set Camestros Felapton’s muse to weavnig a copacetic comma filk:

[With apologies to Culture Club]

Words running altogether every day
To make sense they need something in their way

[Pre-Chorus]
I’m a sign without conviction
I’m a tiny mark that doesn’t know
How to work as punctuation
I come and go and come and go

[Chorus]
Comma comma comma comma comma chameleon
I come and go and come and go
Usage would be easy if you used me when you pause
Or to break a clause, to break a clause

[Bridge]
An em-dash is not my rival
I’m a punctual revival
It is not a matter of survival
Style guides are not my bible

[Chorus]
Comma comma comma comma comma chameleon
I pause and go and pause and go
Commas would be easy if you used them sparingly
Or not at all or not at all

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

Pixel Scroll 7/27/18 Why Do Pixels Scroll? …Because They’re Made Of Wood?

(1) DRAGON AWARDS FINALISTS NOTIFIED. This year the Dragon Awards administrators are asking for acceptances. Finalist K.C. Seville confirmed on Facebook, “They’re still notifying and letting people accept or decline.” Last year they started out refusing to let authors withdraw, then reversed that policy.

Finalists are not being asked to hold back the news until the release of the final ballot. Here are links to some of the announcements:

(2) KOWAL’S W76 PROGRAM UPDATE. Mary Robinette Kowal shared news about progress and the process in her “Worldcon 2018 Programming Update”.

With the challenges surrounding WorldCon 2018’s programming, I offered to bring in a small team to help reimagine the schedule. That team was chosen to address a range of identities, marginalizations, and key stakeholders. Together, we’ve spent the past 48 hours diving into this huge, complicated beast.

One note we would like to add here is that there was an enormous amount of good work done by the existing programming team. We are not diminishing or dismissing the errors that were made or the harm that was caused and we are focused on building a stronger program that addresses those concerns.

Process

We have evaluated the existing programming into three categories: Keep, Repair, Replace.

  • Keep is self-explanatory. We like them. Good job!
  • Repair – The core idea was good, but the panel description, staffing, or title needed attention. Most of our effort was here.
  • Replace – These are getting swapped out for another panel for a variety of reasons.

Timeline
We have finished Repairing and Replacing.

Our next task is to contact the finalists and Guests of Honor to offer them first dibs on panels. We recognize that, while efforts were made by the committee to reach out to the finalists, communication was a major issue. We are working within the time constraints to make this as seamless a process as possible while ensuring we don’t accidentally miss anyone who should be included.

Team members who have chosen to be public are: John Picacio, Sarah Gailey, Jason Stevan Hill, Nibedita Sen, Alexandra Rowland, Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, Merc Rustad, Stacey Berg, Julia Rios, Ace Ratcliff, Derek Künsken, Jennifer Mace, Nilah Magruder, Alyshondra Meacham, K Tempest Bradford, Steven H Silver.

Kowal’s post emphasizes –

At 2:45 Central today, I have emailed the finalists. We’ve received a number of bouncebacks. We are working on getting in touch with these individuals but given the extreme time pressure we are operating under, we ask you to please get in touch with us. If you are part of a group nomination and think that one of your co-nominees may not have received this e-mail, please feel free to forward it to that nominee and let us know the nominee’s name and e-mail if you can.

If you are a finalist and did not receive an email with the subject line “[WorldCon76] Hugo finalist programming query”, please contact me: maryrobinettekowal@worldcon76.org.

(3) RETURNED FROM THE FRONT. Rosemary Kirstein makes observations about the panelist purge at Readercon, and compares that controversy to the latest one about Worldcon 76 programming in “Two kerfuffles for the price of one”.

Well, the kerfuffle surrounding Readercon’s disinvitation sweep (AKA “geezer purge”) — as, um, interesting as it was — has now paled in comparison to the new kerfuffle surrounding WorldCon’s programming.

The interesting thing about them is that they seem to be flip-sides of the same general issue:

The geezer purge, while claiming to be about making room for more diversity, had the effect of targeting a specific group (elders), and thus apparently actively discriminating — going against Readercon’s explicit, written policy of inclusion.

While the Worldcon newbie snub favored the established writers over unknowns even when those new writers are among this year’s Hugo finalists.  Yeah, that’s just nuts.  They are Hugo finalists!  People will want to see them, don’t ya think?  And how exactly do you think people become established writers?

One seemed to say: You’re old, get out of the way!  The other seemed to say: Never heard of you, don’t waste our time.

Well.  Mistakes were made, as the saying goes.

(4) ACTION, REACTION, OVERREACTION. David Gerrold analyzes reactions to Worldcon 76 program and life problems in general:

…Examples: The conventions in the sixties had numerous panels about “the new wave.” In the seventies, there were numerous panels about “women in science fiction.” In the 90s, cons had panels about LGBT+ characters in SF. More recently, conventions have felt it necessary to have panels on diversity. These panels were usually well-intentioned efforts to expand the awareness of the audience that SF could do more than just nuts-and-bolts engineering — that the technology of consciousness is a science as well.

So where I sit — right now at my desk, staring into a giant glowing lightbulb with text on it — it seems to me that a) a well-intentioned convention committee will make a sincere effort to address the needs of as many attendees as possible, and b) kerfuffles are inevitable, because that’s what human beings (especially fans) are good at.

Because, bottom-line, we go to the con to have fun. If we want to be self-righteous, angry, and bitter, we stay home and fume about fannish injustices, real and imagined.

Now … before I sign off, let me repeat the disclaimer I began with. None of the above (with the exception of Milo Yiannopoulos and the Rabid Puppies) is meant to demean, diminish, or discredit any individual or group in the science fiction community. I believe that the issues raised about this year’s con-programming are legitimate and worthwhile. And the con-committee is making a sincere effort to address those issues.

I also believe that some people might have overreacted. Don’t take that personally. I think that almost every Worldcon squabble is tainted by overreaction. (Especially those I was personally involved in.) People make mistakes. Never ascribe to malice what can just as easily be explained by stupidity or ignorance.

Perhaps this is a fatal flaw in my character, but I like to believe that serious issues can be resolved without a firestorm of outrage — and in fact, it’s my experience that firestorms of outrage tend to get in the way of resolution, sometimes delaying all possibility of resolution until all the emotional fires have been exhausted. Rationality dies in fire, it’s found only in the ashes…..

(5) WHAT SHOULD WE TALK ABOUT? Hey, here’s four hours worth of programming ideas in this tweet alone –

(6) UDOFF OBIT. It may have been his idea that resulted in the Adam West Batman series says The Hollywood Reporter: “Yale Udoff, ‘Bad Timing’ Screenwriter and ‘Batman’ TV Booster, Dies at 83”.

Udoff began his career at ABC in New York working with producers/executives Douglas Cramer, Edgar Scherick and Roone Arledge, and he is credited by some for coming up with the idea to transform the Batman comic books into a TV series in the 1960s.

“Udoff came in and said we ought to do Batman,” Scherick told author Bob Garcia in the 2016 book Batman: A Celebration of the Classic TV Series. “We threw him out of the office, but he persisted and we decided to look into it.”

Udoff wrote up a formal proposal for Scherick, who then took it to higher-ups at the network. “Suddenly, all these executives were flying back to New York from L.A. reading Batman comic books hidden in their Fortune magazines so that they could get an idea of what was happening,” Udoff says in the book. “Eventually it got on the air.”

Udoff also co-wrote the 1991 feature Eve of Destruction, a sci-fi thriller starring Gregory Hines, and penned episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (in 1967) and Tales From the Crypt (in 1992) and a 1974 ABC movie of the week, Hitchhike!, starring Cloris Leachman.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born July 27 – Jonathan Rhys Meyers, 41. Dracula in the 2013 – 2014 Dracula series, other genre roles includes being in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, the Gormenghast series and Killer Tongue, a film with poodles transformed into drag queens.
  • Born July 27 – Seamus Dever, 42. A role in the DC’s forthcoming Titans series as the Demon Trigon, father of Raven. Also roles in such genre shows as Ghost Whisperer, Legion, Threshold and Charmed.
  • Born July 27 – Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, 48. Jaime Lannister in Game Of Thrones and Game of Thrones: Conquest & Rebellion: An Animated History of the Seven Kingdoms; as the lead in the short lived New Amsterdam series which is not based on the series by the same name by Elizabeth Bear; also genre roles in the Oblivion and My Name Is Modesty: A Modesty Blaise Adventure films.
  • Born July 27 – Bryan Fuller, 49. Let’s see…There’s credits as either Executive Producer, Producer or Writer for Voyager and DS9, American Gods, Mockingbird Lane, the  last being a reboot of The Munsters, Pushing Daisies, a Carrie reboot, Heroes and Dead Like Me. And adaptor of a quirky Mike Mignola graphic novel entitled The Amazing Screw-On Head.
  • July 27 – Cliff Curtis, 50. Avatar film franchise now numbered at six at least, plus the Hercules: The Legendary Journeys series, Mysterious Island series that was very loosely based on the Jules Verne work, 10,000 BC, The Last Airbender and the Fear the Walking Dead series.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Always funny in a quiet way, this time Tom Gauld nails the future commute.

(9) MARTHA WELLS INTERVIEW. Amazing Stories scored an “Interview with Martha Wells, author of The Murderbot Diaries”. conducted by Veronica Scott.

Veronica for Amazing Stories: What were your major influences when writing the series?

Martha: Even though most of my work up to this point has been fantasy, I’ve always really loved reading SF too, particularly far-future space opera. One recent influence was Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice trilogy, which I think has been a big influence on stories and books about AI in the last few years.

Another influence was the SF I read while I was growing up in the 70s and 80s.  Like Tanith Lee’s The Silver Metal Lover and Don’t Bite the Sun, and John Varley’s early stories.  Also, though their books didn’t usually deal with AI or robots, the SF of Phyllis Gotlieb, like A Judgement of Dragons, about far future aliens coping with human technology, and F.M. Busby’s SF series with Zelde M’tanna and Rissa Kerguelen, which are about a massive rebellion against an oppressive corporate-controlled oligarchy that has taken over Earth and its colony planets and enslaved most of the population.

I’d also read/seen a lot of stories with AI who want to become human, like Data in ‘Star Trek: Next Generation’.  I wanted to write about an AI that wasn’t interested in becoming human at all, and who wasn’t particularly interested in revenge against humans, either.  An AI that just wanted to be left alone.

(10) HUGO AWARD BOOK CLUB. According to Olav Rokne, “After a fair amount of debate and argument, it seems Edmonton’s Hugo Award Book Club came to an impasse about which book they preferred for the Hugo this year. As a result, they’ve published two competing blog posts, one arguing that New York 2140 deserves to win, the other in favour of The Stone Sky.”

The Stone Sky is presented as “the most artful” of the shortlisted works: The Stone Sky is the most artful book, and that’s why it deserves to win”

… the most ambitious of this year’s Hugo shortlisted novels, succeeds admirably. As such, it is the work that deserves to be recognized with the award….

While New York 2140 is argued as the most relevant book to today: New York 2140 is the book that people need to read, and that is why it deserves to win”.

… not only the most worthy work on this year’s Hugo shortlist, but possibly the most important novel published last year: It forces us to ponder questions that humanity will have to — and is starting to — grapple with…

Says Rokne, “It might be noted that these are not entirely contradictory opinions …”

(11) WHO’S IN EPISODE IX? It’s official: “Star Wars: Episode IX Cast Announced”. Also, J.J. Abrams will direct, and John Williams will score.

Star Wars: Episode IX will begin filming at London’s Pinewood Studios on August 1, 2018….

Returning cast members include Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, and Billie Lourd. Joining the cast of Episode IX are Naomi Ackie, Richard E. Grant, and Keri Russell, who will be joined by veteran Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams, who will reprise his role as Lando Calrissian.

The role of Leia Organa will once again be played by Carrie Fisher, using previously unreleased footage shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. “We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” says Abrams. “Finding a truly satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker saga without her eluded us. We were never going to recast, or use a CG character. With the support and blessing from her daughter, Billie, we have found a way to honor Carrie’s legacy and role as Leia in Episode IX by using unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII.”

(12) THIEVES LIKE THEM. Gobsmacked or outraged, YOU decide!

(13) TEEN TITANS REVIEW. NPR’s Glen Weldon on “‘Teen Titans GO! To The Movies’: Joke! Gag! DC Films Aren’t Just For Mopes Anymore!”

Call it the Anti-Snyder Cut.

Let’s be clear: One silly animated film aimed squarely at kids won’t be enough to admit light and joy into the dour, dolorous and dun-colored DC Cinematic Universe.

(We’re not supposed to call it that anymore, by the way. The company announced last weekend at San Diego Comic-Con that we are to refer to it exclusively as [checks notes] the “Worlds of DC.”)

(You know: Like it’s a theme park.)

(Where it always rains.)

(And if you want to ride the rides, one or both of your parents must be named Martha, and they must be at least this dead.)

The animated film in question, Teen Titans GO! To The Movies, is, well … worlds apart from the bleak portentousness of Batman v. Superman, Suicide Squad and Justice League. It’s smaller in scope and brighter in tone. Also, it’s simply a feature-length version of a popular Cartoon Network series, albeit one boasting a bigger line-item for name voice-talent.

(14) CRUISE MISSION. NPR’s Chris Klimek says: “Spectacular Real-World Stunts Make Mission: Impossible – Fallout A Blast”.

In the opening moments of the 2.5-hour Mission: Impossible — Fallout, producer/stuntman/star Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt shares a tender moment with Julia Meade-Hunt (Michelle Monaghan), the woman for whom he tried to retire from the impossible mission business 12 years and three movies ago, and who’s rated only a silent cameo since. Our Man Hunt’s reverie is swiftly ended with the arrival of yet another soon-to-self-destruct assignment. This one comes in a hollowed-out book concealing an antique reel-to-reel tape recorder.

With those two elements, the the most enrapturing plainclothes action flick since the previous Mission: Impossible three years ago is calling its shot. They promise that Fallout shall 1) attend to the continuity of the six-film series in a way its predecessors seldom have, and 2) honor the longstanding Mission tradition of achieving its stunts and giving us our kicks the hard way. The analog way. The more dangerous and exponentially more exciting way.

(15) A DIFFERENT BREED OF KILLER SHARK. The BBC discovered “Sean Connery co-wrote a Bond film that was never made”.

James Bond has done some memorable things in his time, from dodging laser blasts on a space station to driving an invisible car across a glacier. One thing he hasn’t done, however, is deactivate a robot shark which is carrying an atom bomb through a Manhattan sewer. But he very nearly did. In 1976, a Bond screenplay revolved around a shoal of remote-controlled, nuclear-weaponised robo-sharks. Its title was Warhead. And one of its three screenwriters was none other than the original big-screen 007, Sean Connery.

(16) EARL GREY’S BICENTENNIAL MOMENT. James Artimus Owen admits everything about how he got his friends to believe they were drinking 200-year-old tea out of Boston harbor.

A confession: once while in Boston, I convinced some friends that SO MUCH tea had been dumped into the harbor during the infamous Tea Party that in certain places, at certain times of the year, you could scoop up water in a cup and it would taste like tea….

(17) POOH. Ads and featurettes from Disney promoting Christopher Robin.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Eric Franklin, Lise Andreasen, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 7/26/18 What Is The Law? Not To Reuse Titles, That Is The Law

(1) GOOD THOUGHTS ON BAD PRACTICES. Kristine Kathryn Rusch comments on historic efforts to game Amazon’s algorithms. “Business Musings: Sometimes I Just React…”

…Back when I started blogging on publishing in 2010 (after writing The Freelancer’s Survival Guide on this site in 2009), I had the lovely experience of being trashed repeatedly by the Kindle Unlimited folks. Only there wasn’t Unlimited—not yet. There was just the Kindle Boards, where writers gathered to talk.

And what they talked about was what professional writers everywhere talk about—how to make money. (We don’t dare discuss craft with each other for fear that we’ll insult our peers. We all have friends who have great writing careers, whom we believe {in our heart of hearts} can’t write their way out of a paper bag. And, we know, that some of our friends think the same thing about us. It’s better to discuss quantifiable things, like money, instead of qualitative things, like craft. {See my post on “Taste” from last week.})

That “how to make money” thing took on a life of its own on the Kindle Boards. It wasn’t about how to improve your storytelling to make money. It wasn’t about those old-fashioned systems like agents or traditional publishers or contracts, although there occasionally was talk like that.

Instead, it was about which subgenres sold, and how many books you had to write and publish each month to stay ahead of the algorithms. It was about writing short so that you had more books published (in the early days) or putting the table of contents at the end so that the algorithm would think someone who clicked there had read the whole book….

(2) RUNNING DARMOK. Whew, people really took off with this meme game….

For example (the second is what I have in mind) —

JJ suggests, “Breq, outside a tavern in snow.”

(3) AT THE CORE. Scientific American tells how “Milky Way’s Black Hole Provides Long-Sought Test of Einstein’s General Relativity”.

Genzel and his colleagues have tracked the journey of this star, known as S2, since the early 1990s. Using telescopes at the European Southern Observatory in Chile, the scientists watch it as it travels in an elliptical orbit around the black hole, which lies 26,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Sagittarius. With a mass of 4 million times the Sun, the black hole generates the strongest gravitational field in the Milky Way. That makes it an ideal place to hunt for relativistic effects.

On 18 May this year, S2 passed as close as it ever does to the black hole. The researchers pointed instruments including GRAVITY, an instrument called an interferometer that combines light from four 8-meter telescopes and became operational in 2016. “With our measurements the door is wide open to black-hole physics,” says team member Frank Eisenhauer, an astronomer at the Max Planck institute.

GRAVITY measured S2’s movement across the sky; at its fastest, the star whizzed along at more than 7,600 kilometres a second, or nearly 3% the speed of light. Meanwhile, a different instrument studied how fast S2 moved towards and away from Earth as it swung past the black hole. Combining the observations allowed Genzel’s team to detect the star’s gravitational redshift—its light being stretched to longer wavelengths by the black hole’s immense gravitational pull, which is consistent with the predictions of general relativity.

“What we measured cannot be described by Newton any more,” says Odele Straub, an astrophysicist at the Paris Observatory. Future observations of S2 might confirm other Einstein predictions, such as how the spinning black hole drags space-time around with it.

(4) SFWA MENTEE PROGRAM. The deadline to apply is July 31.

(5) UNCANNY KICKSTARTER. Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas have launched a Kickstarter for Year Five of their 2016 and 2017 Hugo Award-winning professional online SF/F magazine: Uncanny Magazine. The funds will cover some of its operational and production costs for the fifth year, with an initial goal of $18,700. plus an added stretch goal of launching a new Uncanny TV video magazine. The Kickstarter runs through August 24: “Uncanny Magazine Year Five: I Want My Uncanny TV!”

For Year Five, Uncanny has solicited original short fiction from Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Award-winning and nominated authors and bestselling authors including: Ursula Vernon, Mary Robinette Kowal, Kelly Robson, Maurice Broaddus, Fran Wilde, Ellen Klages, Naomi Kritzer, Greg van Eekhout, John Chu, Sarah Pinsker,  Rebecca Roanhorse, and Delilah S. Dawson.  There will also be numerous slots for unsolicited submissions.

Uncanny Magazine Year Five plans to showcase original essays by Mark Oshiro, Zoë Quinn, Alexandra Erin, Tanya DePass, Jim C. Hines, and Diana M. Pho,  plus poetry by Beth Cato, S. Qiouyi Lu, Brandon O’Brien, Cassandra Khaw, Nicasio Reed, and Leah Bobet.

Uncanny Magazine Year Five will also feature cover art by John Picacio and Galen Dara.

This year, Uncanny is back with a new mission for the ranger corps: UNCANNY TV.

Hosted and produced by Michi Trota and Matt Peters, Uncanny TV will be the launch of our community-based vid channel, featuring exclusive geeky content related to Uncanny and the Space Unicorn Ranger Corps community. Matt Peters & Michi Trota will host a short (20-30 min) variety talk show Uncanny Magazine style: highlighting creators in SF/F working in a variety of art forms and projects, focusing on people building and nurturing their communities, particularly highlighting marginalized creators. They’ll talk about topics that can be serious, but the overall tone of the show will be to celebrate the things we enjoy and the people who make our communities good places to be in SF/F.

(6) DOES THIS WORK? Beatrice Verhoeven, in The Wrap’s story “‘Star Wars’ Director Rian Johnson Deletes 20,000 Tweets After James Gunn Firing in ‘Why Not?’ Move”, says that Johnson has deleted all his tweets before January 25 of this year, explaining, “if trolls looking for ammunition is the new normal, this seems like a ‘why not’ move.”

On Tuesday, The Mary Sue tweeted a story that said, “it’s also possible that Disney has issued some sort of directive to their talent about social media post-Gunn situation, suggesting caution or deletion.” In response, Johnson tweeted, “No official directive at all, and I don’t think I’ve ever tweeted anything that bad. But it’s nine years of stuff written largely off the cuff as ephemera, if trolls scrutinizing it for ammunition is the new normal, this seems like a ‘why not?’ move.”

(7) NO BUCKS AND NO BUCK ROGERS. The Hollywood Reporter has the latest about the Buck Rogers rights litigation: “Judge Directs Government Intervention in “Buck Rogers” Bankruptcy”.

The audacious plan to use a bankruptcy court to auction off “Buck Rogers” rights despite lingering ownership challenges appears to have backfired on those ostensibly serving the interests of heirs of John Dille, who published the fictional space hero in magazines in the early-to-mid 20th century. On Wednesday, a Pennsylvania bankruptcy court issued an extraordinary decision that faulted the Dille Family Trust with a number of sins. As a result, the Office of the U.S. Trustee has been directed to appoint a Chapter 11 Trustee in what could ultimately result in a long anticipated film adaptation of Armageddon 2419 A.D., the 1929 novella by Philip Francis Nowlan that introduced the Buck Rogers character.

The background of what happened is detailed much more extensively here, but in November 2017, the Dilles declared bankruptcy in the midst of litigation with Nowlan’s heirs about trademark rights and in the middle of fighting with producer Don Murphy about whether Armageddon 2419 A.D. was in the public domain. Filing for bankruptcy meant a pause on litigation, and the Dilles wanted to liquidate their interests in Buck Rogers rights — whatever those might be — through Heritage Auctions. Since the filing of bankruptcy, Murphy and the Nowlans have pounded the table that this proceeding was all a farce.

Now, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jeffery Deller has seen enough.

In a memorandum opinion (read here), he writes that it is undisputed that the Dille Family Trust has no business operations, has no meaningful income, is liquidating as opposed to reorganizing, has incurred administrative expenses with no liquid assets available to satisfy these debts, and has invoked the automatic stay for the primary purpose of avoiding a trial regarding an alleged interest in various intellectual property.

(8) WORLDCON WOES. John Scalzi delivers “A Little More On Recent Worldcon Stuff”.

Also, while I’m on the subject of the Hugo and Worldcon, I see some various turdlings out there are gleeful about the recent dustup re: the Worldcon program. “The SJWs are eating themselves!” is the basic line of the turdlings. In fact, something entirely different happened.

Which was: When the problems cropped up (and they did) and people started to complain (and they did), the Worldcon, within a day, acknowledged that various mistakes had happened and actively moved to correct those mistakes. Not perfectly or instantly, but it still happened.

Which is what you want to happen! In an ideal world, mistakes don’t get made, but we don’t live in an ideal world and none of us is our ideal self. The next best thing is, when mistakes are pointed out, you move to fix them and to learn from them.

The turdlings who are gleeful at the Worldcon’s temporary woes don’t care about anything other than an institution they dislike and tried (or are still trying) to sabotage having a stumble. That’s because they’re basically awful, whiny menchildren. No surprise there.

(9) TAKE ME OUT TO THE BOT GAME. Flippy the Robot, from Miso Robotics, will be “wearing” Dodger blue this summer (Food & Wine: “Flippy the Robot Is the Tater Tot-Making Boyfriend I Deserve”) and manning (robotting?) the fry basket:

In 2017, Miso Robotics introduced the world to Flippy, a jaunty new robot that can make food alongside humans, prepping fried chicken and tater tots and burgers with ease. And this summer, Flippy will be gainfully employed at Dodgers Stadium to make concessions, working the frying station. This follows a successful stint flipping burgers at a Pasadena CaliBurger earlier this year.

“Adapting Flippy into a fryer assistant … has been a great opportunity to demonstrate the scale of Miso’s platform,” Miso Robotics CEO David Zitosaid in a statement. “[T]his technology [is] a win-win — improving working conditions for stadium employees and improving the game experience for fans.” In February, Flippy raised $10 million from investors.

(10) ROBOTS OVER THE MILLENNIA. A Nature open-access PDF article, “Ancient dreams of intelligent machines: 3,000 years of robots”, in which “Stephen Cave and Kanta Dihal revisit the extraordinary history of cultural responses to automata.”

The word ‘robot’ was born in Czech writer Karel ?apek’s 1920 play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots). In the very work coining the term, the robots rebel against and destroy their creators. And that narrative of rebellion has proved to be the most potent of all our AI fears, retold repeatedly as technology evolves.

During the cold war space race, the film 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) gave us HAL 9000, the murderous spaceship supercomputer. With the rise of the Internet, we got Skynet — a defence network that becomes self-aware in the Terminator films (starting in 1984) — and The Matrix (1999), featuring intelligent machines that farm humans whose minds unknowingly inhabit a virtual reality. Now, with AI dominating headlines, we have sophisticated robots again overthrowing their wetware masters, from Ava in the 2015 film Ex Machina to the android amusement-park hosts in the Westworld television series.

The persistent trope of robot revolts reveals the paradox at the heart of our relationship with intelligent machines. We want to create clever tools that can do everything we can do, and more. They will be the perfect oracles, servants, soldiers, even lovers. To fulfil our hopes, they must have attributes such as intellect and agency — minds of their own, superior to ours. But, paradoxically, that is also why we fear HAL and Skynet. The tension lies in our conflicted desire to create beings superhuman in capacity, but subhuman in status.

(11) PETERSEN OBIT. Andrew Petersen, a student I met at Azusa Pacific University’s Yosemite Semester in 2001, has died. One of his ambitions was to captain a Jungle Cruise boat at Disneyland and he not only did that, he went to work at the Park, along the way running the Indiana Jones ride and the Enchanted Tiki Room. What a character he was, what a great guy.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born July 26, 1894 – Aldous Huxley. Swap two numbers in the year and you have another dystopian author’s book.
  • Born July 26, 1928 – Stanley Kubrick.
  • Born July 26 – Helen Mirren, 73. Genre work includes A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, the classic Twilight Zone, Faerie Tale Theatre and as Deep Thought in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy film.
  • Born July 26 – Sandra Bullock, 54. First genre role was in, I kid you not, Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman, also Demolition Man and Gravity to name but two of her other genre appearances.
  • Born July 26 – Jeremy Piven, 53. Jeffrey Tanner in the quickly and mercifully canceled Wisdom of the Crowd series, in Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde, the Hercules animated series, the Cupid series as well and a lot of voice work.
  • Born July 26 – Olivia Williams, 50. Adelle DeWitt in Dollhouse and Emily Burton Silk in Counterpart, also the Jason and the Argonauts series in a recurring role as Hera, yet another Peter Pan  film, and apparently an uncredited appearance in X-Men: The Last Stand.
  • Born July 26 – Kate Beckinsale, 45. Selene in the Underworld film franchise, also Van HelsingAlice Through the Looking Glass, Haunted and a recurring role in the Elder Scrolls Online video game franchise.
  • Born July 26 – Eve Myles, 40. Gwen Cooper in both the Doctor Who and Torchwood series, and voice performer in the Big Finish series of audiobooks including Golden Age, a splendid story involving Torchwood India.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) A CAREER, JUST NOT THE ONE PRESENTED. Her history of crowdsourcing funds, promoting literary events, and tendency to not deliver made the LA Times ask “Who Is Anna March?”

…Anna March whisked in and out, a flash of pink hair in a polka-dot dress. The 2015 party at the Ace’s mezzanine bar, serving free drinks, was packed to overflowing.

March had never published a book but had been quietly working literary Los Angeles’ social media connections for months. A spunky, unapologetic, sex-positive feminist ready to raise hell, she was supportive and flattering. She was also conspicuously generous — concerned about the line of people waiting to get into the party, March asked a pair of new acquaintances if she should give $20 bills to those stuck on the sidewalk. The bill for the night would total more than $22,000.

Why is she doing this? people asked, stealing glances at March.

Some had a larger question:

Who was Anna March?

That was a harder question to answer than you might think. Anna March first appeared around 2011, when she started publishing online. Before that, she was known by different names in different cities. In researching this story, The Times found four: Anna March, Delaney Anderson, Nancy Kruse and Nancy Lott.

In three places — Los Angeles, San Diego and Rehoboth Beach, Del. — March became a part of the literary community. She won over new friends, even accomplished authors but especially writers trying to find a way into that world, with her generosity, her enthusiasm and apparent literary success — only to leave town abruptly…

(15) DOUBLE JEOPARDY. No sooner had Jon Del Arroz started an Indiegogo to fund a comic book project than somebody unveiled a bogus Kickstarter featuring an image of the same character. JDA has gotten the hoax Kickstarter taken down.

Fake fundraiser screencap

JDA knows his audience — his announcement of the real Indiegogo appeal on his blog is sandwiched between a post gloating about Worldcon 76 program travails and another post complaining that Tor Books is attacking him — and the Indiegogo appeal is closing in on its $6,000 goal.

(16) ALAN MOORE. Paste Magazine says these are “The 10 Best Alan Moore Comics of All Time”.

  1. A Small Killing
    Artist: Oscar Zarate
    Publisher: Avatar Press
    Here’s the landmark which stands nearest to Moore. Allow me to explain: I don’t think A Small Killing is the work that means the most to Moore emotionally, or that it shows some never-revealed Rosebud, or that it amounts to autobiography by code. What I mean is that A Small Killing is the work I see as somehow closest to the heart of the creator, the way the Book of Job is central to any exegesis of the Tanakh. A Small Killing is a story that unconsciously comments on Moore’s anxiety. (This is all rabid hearsay, of course, and should not be aired in a legitimate court of law.)

(17) IN UNIFORM. People.com shows how “Natalie Portman Transforms Into NASA Astronaut in Pale Blue Dot. Natalie Portman plays a NASA astronaut in Pale Blue Dot, a fictional story said to be based loosely on the Lisa Nowak -Bill Oefelein-Colleen Shipman “astronaut love triangle” of 2007.

In the early morning hours of that day, Nowak was wearing a black wig and trench coat when she approached Colleen Shipman’s car in the parking lot of Orlando International Airport. She banged on the Shipman’s window and begged for a ride. When Shipman rolled down her window, Nowak sprayed her with pepper spray and tried to get in the car.

Shipman fled the scene, shaken but unhurt. Police arrested Nowak on attempted murder and kidnapping charges.

The resulting case was dubbed the “astronaut love triangle.”

(18) DOOR-TO-DOOR.

(19) ON THE BEACH. “Liquid water ‘lake’ revealed on Mars” — ESA’s Mars orbiter finds something too big (12 miles across) to be just sub-ice meltwater — probably very cold and briny, and a mile under the ice, but definitely a lake.

Marsis wasn’t able to determine how thick the layer of water might be, but the research team estimate that it is a minimum of one metre.

“This really qualifies this as a body of water. A lake, not some kind of meltwater filling some space between rock and ice, as happens in certain glaciers on Earth,” Prof Orosei added.

(20) MARSWARD BOUND. Here’s The First Teaser. The series comes to Hulu September 14.

The First is created by Beau Willimon (House of Cards) and stars Sean Penn. Set in the near future (2030), this groundbreaking story explores the challenges of taking the first steps towards Mars. Viewers will get an intimate look at the dedicated characters trying to reach the unknown while dealing with the psychological and physical toll it takes to achieve the impossible.

 

(21) NOT ALONE. The last man on earth was alone in his room. Suddenly there was a knock at the door. – Oops, sorry, this is not the Fredric Brown story, it’s the I Think We’re Alone Now teaser trailer.

Del (Peter Dinklage) is alone in the world. After the human race is wiped out, he lives in his small, empty town, content in his solitude and the utopia he’s methodically created for himself – until he is discovered by Grace (Elle Fanning), an interloper whose history and motives are obscure. Worse yet, she wants to stay.

 

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Joel Zakem, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and John  King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 7/25/18 Pun For A Headline, Pixels Comment Underground

(1) DILLON KICKSTARTER. A Kickstarter to crowdfund “Daydreamer’s Journey, a new Art Book by Julie Dillon” was launched July 24. Dillon is one of the top artists in the field, a three-time Hugo Award winner (plus five Chesley Awards, three Locus Awards, and a British Fantasy Award).

I absolutely love to draw and paint, and art has been a vital part of my life for as long as I can remember.  Art can offer an escape as well as an invitation; a way to process one’s experience of the world, a way to offer a different perspective. It can illuminate and reveal the magic lurking just beneath the surface of the world, and that is what I’ve attempted to do throughout my career as an artist.

I’ve put together an art book that will let me share with you more of my art and ideas than I ever have before….

Daydreamer’s Journey will be a 200 page 8.5″ x 11″ hardcover book, on beautiful thick glossy paper. This book will contain personal work, freelance projects, sketches, studies, and illustration drafts, some of which either has never been posted online or that hasn’t been available online in over a decade. Also included will be my commentary and thoughts, as well as progress shots for most pieces so you can see part of my painting and brainstorming process.

With 29 days to go, Dillon so far has raised $12,653 of her $18,500 goal.

(2) #METOO AT COMIC-CON. SFGate evaluates the attention to antiharassment efforts at this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego: “Comic-Con in the #MeToo Era: Progress Comes One Panel at a Time”.

…Officially, Comic-Con was silent about #MeToo. When SDCC programming director Eddie Ibrahim gave his traditional kick off speech in Hall H on Thursday morning, notably absent was any mention of the convention’s harassment policies. That continued for all four days of the convention.

…Comic-Con for its part has chosen not to update those anti-harassment policies, which state in part that “harassing or offensive behavior will not be tolerated,” and that “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 seek out security or SDCC staff.

Whatever actions the organization is taking behind the scenes, it ultimately chose not to discuss them publicly. Comic-Con International did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap

Unofficially, fans and creators were frequently vocal in support of greater inclusion and representation, and in talking about harassment and abuse.

The panel for NBC’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” on Friday night was a particular stand out, with cast members, producers, and fans touching on a range of sensitive issues. Notably, one fan thanked Terry Crews, who accused William Morris Endeavor agent Adam Venit of groping him, “for your part in #MeToo,” adding, “I’m so sorry for all of us that are part of #MeToo that you have to be part of it.”

And at a panel called “The Future Is Female,” “Bumblebee” and “Birds of Prey” screenwriter Christina Hodson got huge cheers and lots of knowing muttering when she celebrated the successes of the #MeToo era but noted that much work remains.

“Nine months ago, no one gave a s—. Like, no one cares what happens. Now everything has shifted. So I think behavior on set, in writers’ rooms, that’s all going to shift. So I’m very happy about that,” she said.

(3) ELFQUEST PROFILED. Rob Beschizza explores “The Weird Of Wendy Pini” at BoingBoing. “Voices from another world spoke with sublime otherness, helping an indie cartoonist face down prudes, pain and the patriarchy.”

Elfquest began in 1978 and concluded this spring, forty years in the telling. Devised and written with her husband Richard, its story follows the Wolfrider clan and its chief, Cutter, burned from their ancient forest home by vengeful humans. Sweeping from a rough fantasy premise to epic science fiction, the Wolfriders find other elfin refugees, the derelict spaceship of their shape-shifting ancestors, and unsettling truths concerning their own nature. At its sales peak, the magazine-sized pamphlets were selling 100,000 copies at an intersection of fandom rarely seen in comic book stores: women, queer folk, people of color.

The American Library Association describes Elfquest as “one of the most important works in American fantasy”. Georgy Khoury and Alex Ross, in Comic Book Fever, call it one of the “first long-form sagas of the art form,” unique for its “confident and inspired storytelling.” Artist and historian Trina Robbins told me that Wendy’s strong women characters were responsible for getting countless young girls into comics. Elfquest was one of the books targeted as obscene material in the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s first case. Buzzfeed ranked it as the most life-changing graphic novel of all time.

(4) TODAY’S VISION. Rick Liebling recalibrates the historic look of sf in a post for Medium: “The Aesthetics of Science Fiction. What does SciFi Look Like After Cyberpunk?” (First in a two-part series.)

But now, some three decades-plus since we first “saw” Cyberpunk, what do we have now? Is there a unifying visual idea that we associate with modern (2000 and beyond) science fiction? I’ve noticed over the last decade or so that there are some recurring themes. Perhaps not exclusive to science fiction – in the same way that the Cyberpunk aesthetic wasn’t exclusive to science fiction (see: Black Rain) – but that I’ve seen recurring in genre work.

I call it Hard Concrete.

Like Cyberpunk and Atomic Age &Space Age design before it, Hard Concrete is linked to the realities of the times. If Cyberpunk was the visual embodiment of the corporation as mysterious behemoth, Hard Concrete parallels a world where corporations and governments have been exposed as brutal, uncaring and stripped of their shiny, mirror-glass facades. They may be no less controlling, violent or malevolent, they just no longer bother to hide it.

(5) ORDER ME ANOTHER SCREWDRIVER. The Thirteenth Doctor has a collectible out already: “Jodie Whittaker Reveals the New Sonic Screwdriver Fan Collectible at San Diego Comic-Con”.

Today in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con, Jodie Whittaker revealed the new Sonic Screwdriver Fan Collectible, a replica of the one her character will use in the new series of Doctor Who, now available to pre-order.

Designer Arwel Wyn Jones talked through the new sonic; “It’s a privilege to have been asked to redesign the iconic Sonic Screwdriver for the Thirteenth Doctor and a new generation of audiences.  I can’t wait for people to see how the Doctor acquires it!”

(6) ORIGINAL WONDER. Al Abbazia’s superb Rockwell-inspired Saturday Evening Post magazine cover featuring Wonder Woman can be seen on Facebook. The artist said:

It’s beyond gratifying that the granddaughter of William Marston, creator of Wonder Woman, found me and took a special liking of my art piece, saying it honored her family. My daughter, Emily Claire Abbazia (who came up with the concept) and myself thank you Christie Marston 🙂

And thank you to the wonderful Shiree Collier for her excellent modeling and Gal Gadot for that pretty face.

(7) ‘WARTS AND ALL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Those cunning Danes are at it again, dreaming up ways to take your money. LEGO has announced a new Hogwarts set (io9: “Lego’s New 6,020-Piece Hogwarts Castle Set Is Huge and Pricey”) priced at a “mere” $399.99. It’s built on their “microscale” standard, to use microfigs rather than the more familiar minifigs—presumably to keep the both the overall size and the price in check.

Quoting the io9 article:

…Lego is also bundling 27 microfigures with the set, including Dumbledore, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Draco, Snape, McGonagall, Remus, Umbridge, and even Lord Voldemort, as well as Aragog the spider, the Basilisk, a Hungarian Horntail dragon, and five dementors.

There are minifigs involved, thogugh. The founders of the four houses of Hogwarts (Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Salazar Slytherin, and Rowena Ravenclaw) are included in minifig form. Writing for io9, Andrew Liszewski seems taken by the quality of the set:

Despite the smaller overall footprint of the set, Lego has still managed to stuff an incredible amount of detail into Hogwarts, including the castle’s Great Hall, the library, potions class, the Room of Requirement, the giant chess set, and the Chamber of Secrets, among other places for the microfigures to re-enact scenes from the books and movies.

(8) KGB READINIGS. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Michael Swanwick and Jeffrey Ford on Wednesday, August 15, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar.

Michael Swanwick

Michael Swanwick has received the Nebula, Theodore Sturgeon, World Fantasy and Hugo Awards, and has the pleasant distinction of having been nominated for and lost more of these same awards than any other writer. He has written ten novels, over a hundred and fifty short stories, and countless works of flash fiction. His latest novel The Iron Dragon’s Mother, will be published by Tor Books in 2019

Jeffrey Ford

Jeffrey Ford is the author of the novels The PhysiognomyThe Girl in the GlassThe Portrait of Mrs. CharbuqueThe Shadow Year, and the four collections: The Empire of Ice CreamThe Drowned LifeCrackpot Palace, and A Natural History of Hell. His most recent novel is Ahab’s Return: Or The Last Voyage published by HarperCollins. He has been the recipient of the Nebula Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the Edgar Award. He lives in Ohio and teaches writing part time at Ohio Wesleyan University.

The KGB is at 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs) New York, NY. Website: www.kgbfantasticfiction.org.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) WORLDCON 76 BUSINESS MEETING AGENDA. More items have been added, so WSFS Secretary Linda Deneroff suggests you re-check the Business Meeting Agenda.

(11) ONE IS THE ONLIEST NUMBER. James Davis Nicoll asks “What’s With Sci-Fi’s Fixation on Single-Gendered Planets?” at Tor.com.

I recently reread three thematically similar books: Poul Anderson’s Virgin Planet, A. Bertram Chandler’s Spartan Planet, and Lois McMaster Bujold’s Ethan of Athos. All three imagine single-gender planets: worlds whose populations are either all men or all women. This particular selection of books to reread and review was mere chance, but it got me thinking…

There are actually quite a few speculative fiction books set on single-gender planets (in which gender is mainly imagined in terms of a binary model) 1. Most of them are what-if books. As one might expect, they come up with different extrapolations….

(12) REMEMBERING THE PAPERBACK REVOLUTION. Kim Huett of Doctor Strangemind, in “Doubling Down With Don Wollheim”, says “The Ace Double paperbacks have long been a favourite of science fiction collectors. So here are 15 amazing facts about the Ace Doubles, #6 will shock you to your very core (he claims tongue in cheek).”

…So how similar was the packaging? Well this is the cover of the very first Signet Double….

And this is the cover of the very first Ace Double….

Okay, so they don’t look that alike and the Ace artwork is decidedly pulpier in style. But then it would be, wouldn’t it? Don Wollheim wasn’t going to try and muscle in on Signet’s classier patch. No, Don Wollheim was going to do what he knew best and let’s not forget that Don’s editorial career had begun with Cosmic Stories and Stirring Science Stories, two of the pulpiest of the pulp magazines.

Covers not withstanding it’s pretty clear to me that the Ace books borrowed a lot of layout detail from Signet. If you have any doubt about that compare the spine of Signet’s Knock On Any Door with the spine of a 1958 Ace Double featuring Eric Frank Russell I just happen to have laying about.

Oh, Don Wollheim you clever scamp.

Now you might be thinking that this is all very well but really, what did the Ace Doubles do other than borrow some layout details from Signet? The core feature, the two different novels in one volume, well that’s clearly unique to Ace, isn’t it? Now if you’ve been thinking anything like that then you are so very wrong. Consider the examples pictured below and their publication dates; Two Complete Detective Books (Winter 1939), Two Daring Love Novels (January 1948); and Two Complete Science-Adventure Books (Winter 1950). Three magazine titles that predated Ace Doubles by years (and the first two even left Kurt Enoch and his Signet Doubles in their dust).

(13) THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD. At Tor.com, James Davis Nicoll complains that “Classic Sci-Fi Star Systems Keep Getting Ruined by Science”. Well, complains is probably overstating things….

There are a lot of SF novels, particularly ones of a certain vintage, that feature that particular set of stars. If one is of that vintage (as I am), Alpha Centauri, Epsilon Indi, Epsilon Eridani, Procyon, and Tau Ceti are old friends, familiar faces about whom one might comment favourably when it turns out, for example, that they are orbited by a pair of brown dwarfs or feature an unusually well-stocked Oort cloud. “What splendid asteroid belts Epsilon Eridani has,” one might observe loudly, in the confident tone of a person who never has any trouble finding a seat by themselves on the bus.

In fiction, Procyon is home to L. Sprague de Camp’s Osiris, Larry Niven’s We Made It, and Gordon R. Dickson’s Mara and Kultis, to name just a few planets. Regrettably, Procyon A should never ever have been tagged as “possesses potentially habitable worlds.” Two reasons: solar orbits and Procyon B’s DA classification.

(14) THE LATE MR. ELLISON. Mark Evanier tells “A Harlan Ellison Story” at News From Me.

Now with Harlan’s passing, the Internet is filled with remembrances and honors and cyber-mourning and tributes, and in lot of them you’ll see some version of the phrase, “He inspired me to become a writer.” Harlan did a lot of that. He inspired people in other ways, as well. He occasionally inspired someone to hate Harlan Ellison but we won’t go into that here. Here, I’m celebrating him for inspiring so many people in a good way. Like I said, he was a writer who made other writers proud to be writers.

So many of us learned good, valuable things from him but a few writers I can think of learned to yell and scream about every rewrite, every note, every alteration. I can’t guarantee the following but supposedly, someone once asked Ray Bradbury if it was a wise idea for a writer to fight about each bit of interference the way Harlan did. Bradbury reportedly replied — and this sure sounds like an answer he’d give — “I don’t know if that’s okay but if you try it, check first and make sure you have the talents of a Harlan Ellison.”

…But he was late with so much of what he wrote, and I suspect…well, I know there are writers who think, “If Harlan Ellison can be weeks/months/years late, so can I.” To quote Ray Bradbury again, assuming he even said it, “I don’t know if that’s okay but if you try it, check first and make sure you have the talents of a Harlan Ellison.”

One might argue that he was not late with the Batman story he promised in 1971 to write for Julie Schwartz since he never had a firm deadline. But it finally saw print in the October, 1986 issue of Detective Comics, fifteen years later…and eight years after Julie had stepped down as the editor of Detective Comics. Deadline or no deadline, that’s late…

And all that is just an introduction to the story Evanier promised in the title….

(15) MORE TO BE READ. Publishers Weekly lists books of interest to adult-age readers of children’s literature in the ambiguously-titled post “2018 Adult Books on Children’s Lit”:

From an analysis of the psychological impact of fairy tales to an illustrated biography of a well-known illustrator and a book about the landscape that inspired Anne of Green Gables, there’s plenty to inform and inspire adult readers of children’s books.

What are we talking about? Here are three of the titles on the list:

Astrid Lindgren: War Diaries 1939–1945

By Astrid Lindgren, translated from the Swedish by Sarah Death (Feb. 27, Yale, $20 paper, ISBN 978-0-300-23456-5).

Originally released in hardcover in 2016, the wartime diaries of the author of Pippi Longstocking are now in paperback.

Daemon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling

By Philip Pullman (Sept. 18, Knopf, $30 ISBN 978-0-525-52117-4).

The author of the His Dark Materials series shares the secrets behind how he writes his influential novels.

Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters

By Anne Boyd Rioux (Aug. 28, Norton, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-393-25473-0).

In time for the 150th anniversary of the story of four American sisters, Rioux, a professor of gender studies, explores the impact the novel has had through its depiction of female growth.

(16) CALL GOES OUT. Manifold Press is relaunching and Managing Editor Farah Mendlesohn wants to spread the word.

As from today, we are delighted to announce that after a period of reorganisation, Manifold Press will relaunch on the 1st January 2019.

Please note: we are revamping our web pages so none of the menu links work. That will change bit by bit over August.  We’ll announce on the blog and on twitter and fb etc as we create new pages.

At our AGM in July we bade a fond farewell to Julie Bozza who is heading back to Australia; Fiona stood down as Managing Editor after 9 years with the press.

The new Board consists of Farah Mendlesohn (Managing Editor), Sandra Lindsey, Fiona Pickles and Aleksandr Voinov. We are actively recruiting others.

We have opened a new call for submissions.

(17) DO YOU GROWL WHEN YOU’RE PLEASED? The BBC story “The complicated truth about a cat’s purr” notes that cat research lags behind the study of dogs because dogs are more willing subjects….

Part of the mystery around the purr is that we often only notice cats purring “when we tickle them in places that they like to be tickled”, says Debevere. Yet they also purr when we’re not around, and the extent of that purring varies between individuals. “All cats are different, some never purr and some will purr constantly,” she says. She draws the comparison between her cat Luigi – a stray who followed someone in to their office and was subsequently taken to a shelter – and Archie, who “moved in from next door” and became part of the family. Luigi purrs little, and Archie a lot.

“I’ve photographed more than 3,000 cats so far [at shelters] and no two are the same,” Debevere says. “I’ve witnessed a lot of cats purring when they’re dying, and when they’re being put to sleep. The vet will say something like ‘They were purring right up until the end’, and people assume they’re happy when they’re purring. That’s just not always the case.”

(18) UH-OH. Sarah Kaplan and Joel Achenbach in the Washington Post report that the James Webb Space Telescope, which has already cost $7,6 billion, will have its launch delayed until 2021 because of screws that fell off of the sun shield during a test, leaving critics to argue that the telescope could be “too big to fail and too complicated to work.” “NASA’s next great space telescope is stuck on Earth after screwy errors”.

The Webb’s problems have rattled many powerful constituencies. NASA is embarrassed and dismayed by the human errors that have snarled its biggest robotic science project, which was identified by the astronomy community back in 2000 as its top priority.

(19) NOT THE SAME SHAPE. Judge dismisses The Shape of Water copyright suit – the BBC has the story.

The plot of Oscar-winning fantasy film The Shape of Water was not copied from a 1969 play, a US judge has ruled.

Judge Percy Anderson has dismissed a legal action that claimed Guillermo del Toro’s film copied the story of Let Me Hear You Whisper by Paul Zindel.

The late playwright’s son sued del Toro, the Fox Searchlight studio and others in February, claiming the two works were “in many ways identical”.

In his ruling, however, the judge said they only shared “a basic premise”.

(20) THE STARS THEIR DESTINATION. Something people of the future will be running into: “Japanese firm to launch wedding plaques into space”.

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, the Warpspace start-up in the city of Tsukuba is working with Kibo, Japan’s orbital science module, to launch wedding plaques from the International Space Station.

The company, which is largely staffed by faculty members from the University of Tsubuka, says that it will engrave couples’ names, messages, and other information on titanium plaques, measuring some 16 millimetres by eight millimetres.

The plaques will then be loaded onto miniature cubic satellites, which can hold several hundred plaques, and be released into orbit. They will join the tens of thousands of satellites, man-made objects and space junk already orbiting the Earth.

(21) BATMAN’S AMBITION. On the Conan O’Brien show, “Batman Wants To Join The Marvel Universe.”

Batman is sick of the perpetually rainy and depressing DC Universe; he’d rather have a seat at the Avengers’ table.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Daniel Dern, James Davis Nicoll, Julie Dillon, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anthony.]