Dwayne McDuffie Award for Kids’ Comics 2019

The winner of this year’s Dwayne McDuffie Award for Kids’ Comics was announced June 14 at the Ann Arbor Comic Arts Festival, run jointly by Kids Read Comics and the Ann Arbor (Michigan) District Library.

The 2019 winner is:

  • The Cardboard Kingdom, by Chad Sell, follows a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary cardboard into fantastical homemade costumes as they explore conflicts with friends, family, and their own identity.

The award judges are Faith Roncoroni, Tameshja Brooks, and Nola Pfau, assisted by Kids Read Comics and A2CAF co-founder Edith Donnell.

Kids Read Comics, a volunteer-run nonprofit that promotes comics reading and comics making, sponsors the award, which honors Dwayne McDuffie, pioneering comics and animation writer and Humanitas Prize winner, who cofounded Milestone Media and created the teen superhero Static among others. The award runs in tandem with the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity and focuses on comics aimed at young readers.

Origins Awards 2019

The Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design presented the Origins Awards 2019 on June 15.

AAGAD presents the Origins Awards to companies for outstanding games in the hobby industry. Members of the Academy vote on each category. The winner of the fan favorite category was voted by attendees of the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, OH.

Board Games

  • Root by Leder Games (designed by Cole Wehrle)

Fan Favorite

  • Root by Leder Games (designed by Cole Wehrle)

Card Games

  • The Mind by Pandasaurus (designed by Wolfgang Warsch)

Fan Favorite

  • The Mind by Pandasaurus (designed by Wolfgang Warsch)

Collectible Games

  • KeyForge: Call of the Archons Archon Deck by Fantasy Flight Games

Fan Favorite

  • KeyForge: Call of the Archons Archon Deck by Fantasy Flight Games

Family Games

  • The Tea Dragon Society Card Game by Renegade Game Studios (designed by Steve Ellis, Tyler Tinsley)

Fan Favorite

  • Echidna Shuffle by Wattsalpoag Games (designed by Kris Gould)

Miniatures

Tie

  • Necromunda by Games Workshop (designed by Andy Hoare)
  • Star Wars Legion by Fantasy Flight Games (designed by Alex Davy)

Fan Favorite

  • Star Wars Legion by Fantasy Flight Games (designed by Alex Davy)

Roleplaying Games

  • Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition by Modiphius Entertainment (designed by Kenneth Hite, Karim Muammar, Martin Ericsson, Mathew Dawkins, Karl Bergström, Juhana Pettersson; Art team: Tomas Arfert, Mary Lee, Mark Kelly, Sarah Horrocks, Anders Muammar, Mike Mignola, and the CCP Atlanta art team directed by Reynir Harðarson, consisting of Erling Ingi Sævarsson, John Van Fleet, Vince Locke, Michael Gaydos, Matthew Mitchell)

Fan Favorite

  • Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition by Modiphius Entertainment (designed by Kenneth Hite, Karim Muammar, Martin Ericsson, Mathew Dawkins, Karl Bergström, Juhana Pettersson; Art team: Tomas Arfert, Mary Lee, Mark Kelly, Sarah Horrocks, Anders Muammar, Mike Mignola, and the CCP Atlanta art team directed by Reynir Harðarson, consisting of Erling Ingi Sævarsson, John Van Fleet, Vince Locke, Michael Gaydos, Matthew Mitchell)

Roleplaying Supplement

  • Dungeons & Dragons: Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes by Wizards of the Coast (designed by Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Adam Lee, Ben Petrisor, Robert J. Schwalb, Matt Sernett, Steve Winter, Kim Mohan, Christopher Perkins, Kate Welch, Nolan Whale)

Fan Favorite

  • Dungeons & Dragons: Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes by Wizards of the Coast (designed by Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Adam Lee, Ben Petrisor, Robert J. Schwalb, Matt Sernett, Steve Winter, Kim Mohan, Christopher Perkins, Kate Welch, Nolan Whale)

Game Accessories

  • Black Dragon Trophy Plaque by WizKids

Fan Favorite:

  • D&D RPG: Monster Cards- Challenge 0-5 and D&D RPG: Monster Cards- Challenge 6-16 by Gale Force Nine

Game of the Year

  • Root by Leder Games

Rising Star Award

  • Jamey Stegmaier

Hall of Fame Inductees

Cats Sleep on SFF: Der Marsianer

GiantPanda introduces us to Schnute:

This is a stray my Mom has been feeding for about a year.

The cat has learned to trust Mom, got the run of the house, mostly prefers DVDs to books and likes to cuddle. Goes by the name of Schnute (German for pout).

Mom still is adamant that this is Not Her Cat (well… maybe part time…)


Photos of other cats (or whatever you’ve got!) resting on genre works are welcome. Send to mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com

Surely You’re Joking

By John Hertz: (reprinted in part from No Direction Home 15)  May 11, 2018, was the hundredth birthday of the great physicist and wise-guy Richard Feynman. The California Institute of Technology, home of his professional life since 1952, mounted an exhibit “The Mind’s Eye” in the Beckman Museum, running through June 14, 2018.

The title was well chosen.  “Visualization in some form or other,” he’d said, “is a vital part of my thinking”; it was on one of the walls.  He had, I said to an exhibit host, a gift for looking from the abstract to the concrete: hence Feynman diagrams; plunging a piece of O-ring material into ice water at a hearing on the Challenger disaster; winning a Nobel Prize and teaching undergraduates.

What a challenge to build a museum exhibit about a master of theoretical physics.  Fortunately it was about Feynman.

There were lots of photographs, including him in a swimsuit on a beach juggling, and in a frilled Havana shirt playing bongos for a 1977 Cal Tech production of Guys and Dolls. He’d managed getting back and forth to drum in a Cal Tech Kismet during the 1986 Challenger hearings.  There were several of his drums.

There was his 1940 notebook “Things I Don’t Know About”.  There was a 1963 curved-space lecture handout.  Figure 55-2 was a bug on a sphere.  “He is also a bug like the others … this time … the temperature is different at different places…. the bug and any rulers he uses are all made of the same material which expands when it is heated.”

Goggles and earphones put me four rows above the floor at one of his lectures.  He told of going around getting into things on the Manhattan Project.

Security had been fierce.  He’d opened weakly-locked file cabinets and reported.  On a scientist’s safe he tried the digits of pi; no go; then e: open.  Edward Teller said “I lock things in my desk; isn’t that better?”  Feynman sneaked away and extracted papers.  Teller said “I’ll show you my desk.” They went to his office.  Teller unlocked the desk.  Bottom drawer empty.  Teller said “Evidently the security of the desk isn’t so good — as you may already have found for yourself.”  Feynman recounting this said “Pulling a stunt on a brilliant man gives no satisfaction.  He sees things too fast.”

Outside in Glanville Courtyard a fountain played over a five-foot dark green granite snub cube. A plaque explained that a snub cube was chosen because its 24 vertices are reminiscent of the iron-storage protein ferritin, which has 24 identical protein subunits; both have 4-3-2 symmetry: fourfold axes, three-fold axes, twofold axes.

Ferritin (the plaque didn’t say this), found in plants and animals, pertains to biology, organic chemistry, and inorganic chemistry, like the Beckman Institute.

Besides, snub cubes are way cool.  Linus Pauling liked them.

A mile and a half away was the Pasadena shop of Denong Tea Co., which opened in 2017.  Denong (Chinese; “virtuous farmer”) specializes in pu-erh tea, grown in Yunnan (left to my own devices I’d spell these Têh-nung and p‘u-êrh).

Ms. Betty Hu brewed me one young raw pu-erh, Sweet Clarity from 2016, and one ripe pu-erh, Millennium Distant Mountains of unknown harvest, brewing the raw pu-erh in a porcelain pot and serving it in glass, the ripe in a clay pot and serving in porcelain.  The shop uses Crystal Geyser water.

While I was drinking Sweet Clarity, a regular customer arrived who liked another young raw pu-erh, Mountain Oasis from 2017; we exchanged cups, and afterward I asked Ms. Hu to pour her some of my Millennium Distant Mountains; we conversed.

Raw pu-erh can be aged a decade or more; young, the tea liquor (I use this term advisedly; its colloquial meaning “distilled alcoholic spirits” is not the whole truth) is bright yellow-green; flavor, crisp.  Ripe pu-erh, a relatively recent development, has been carefully treated to accelerate aging; its liquor is deep maroon, like Madeira wine; flavor, earthy.

Speaking of pots, how are you, Mr. Wilson?

Pixel Scroll 6/15/19 His Scroll Swooned Slowly As He Heard The Pixels Falling Faintly Through The Universe

(1) DUBLIN 2019 DEADLINE. Linda Deneroff, Dublin 2019 WSFS Business Meeting Secretary, broadcast the message that the deadline for submission of new business to this year’s business meeting is fast approaching: July 17. Pass the word to anyone else you believe is considering new business.

(2) TEARS FOR FEARS. The Guardian’s Leo Benedictus has indifferent success getting writers to talk to him about YA “cancel culture” — “Torn apart: the vicious war over young adult books “

Since March, I have been sending discreet messages to authors of young adult fiction. I approached 24 people, in several countries, all writing in English. In total, 15 authors replied, of whom 11 agreed to talk to me, either by email or on the phone. Two subsequently withdrew, in one case following professional advice. Two have received death threats and five would only talk if I concealed their identity. This is not what normally happens when you ask writers for an interview.

… Many of the battles around YA books display the worst features of what is sometimes called “cancel culture”. Tweets condemning anyone who even reads an accused book have been shared widely. I have heard about publishers cancelling or altering books, and asking authors to issue apologies, not because either of them believed they ought to apologise, but because they feared the consequences if they didn’t. Some authors feel that it is risky even to talk in public about this subject. “It’s potentially really serious,” says someone I’ll call Alex. “You could get absolutely mobbed.” So I can’t use your real name? “I would be too nervous to say that with my name to it.” None of the big three UK publishing groups, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins or Hachette, was available for comment.

Another author I will call Chris is white, queer and disabled. Chris has generally found the YA community friendly and supportive during a career spanning several books, but something changed when they announced plans for a novel about a character from another culture. Later, Chris would discover that an angry post about the book had appeared anonymously on Tumblr, directing others to their website. At the time, Chris only knew that their blog and email were being flooded with up to 100 abusive messages a day.

(3) DEFINING MOMENT. Ellen B. Wright reignites a traditional debate, in the process collecting a lot of entertaining answers. Thread stars here.

(4) SHORT FILM Exclusive premiere of “After Her” starring Stranger Things’s Natalia Dyer.

One night, a teenage girl disappears without a trace. Years later, her friend returns home and finds himself being beckoned back into those woods – the last place she was seen alive. An atmospheric sci-fi about the archetypal lost girl.

Director’s Statement: I was interested in making a short that confronts the perversion of the “missing girl story” in both film and in reality. I wanted to create something meditative and personal with a small group of collaborators; I shot most of the film myself, including the VFX, which were hand done in my parents’ basement. I’m from Rhode Island and grew up reading Lovecraft, and was incredibly inspired by his worlds, his characters, and their maddening search for the bigger picture, the great answers. As Callum searches for Haley, the alluring missing girl of his past, his expectations get challenged. His journey spans fertile woods, deep caves, and fallopian tunnels. He grows to realize that he is a passenger, not a pioneer, while she is the leader, not the victim.

(5) REDRUMOR. I don’t think I’m ready to face this at the breakfast table — Funko’s Pennywise cereal with pocket pop.

Thought you had seen it all from Funko? Well think again. Introducing FunkO’s, the new collectible cereal from the pop culture wizards at Funko. Each box comes with a Pocket Pop!

This IT Pennywise box of FunkO’s comes with a Pennywise Pocket Pop!, and the red, multigrain cereal is bound to wow you at breakfast time. That’s if you decide to eat it and not keep it intact with your Funko collection! Grab a box today and make your Saturday mornings fun again.

(6) OGAWA OBIT. Publisher Haikasoru announced the death of a well-known sff translator:

Takashi Ogawa, an English-Japanese translator, editor and educator in translation, who introduced Western SF to Japan since 1980’s. He translated many of Bruce Sterling’s titles including Schismatrix and Islands in the Net.

Ogawa’s translation of Bruce Sterling’s “Taklamakan” won the Foreign Short Story category of Japanese prozine Hayakawa’s S-F Magazine Reader’s Award in 1999.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • June 15, 1955The Beast With A Million Eyes debuted at drive-ins.
  • June 15, 1973The Battle for the Planet of the Apes premiered.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 15, 1939 Brian Jacques. British author who surprisingly is not on the ISFDB list today. Writer of the exceedingly popular Redwall series of novels and also the Castaways of the Flying Dutchman series. And he wrote two collections of Alan Garner style fiction, Seven Strange and Ghostly Tales and The Ribbajack & Other Curious Yarns. Only the Redwall series is available in digital format on either platform. (Died 2011.)
  • Born June 15, 1941 Neal Adams, 78. Comic book artist who worked for both DC and Marvel. Among his achievements was the creation with writer Dennis O’Neil of Ra’s al Ghul. I’m a DC fan so I can’t speak for his work on Marvel but he did amazing work on Deadman, BatmanGreen Lantern and Green Arrow. All of this work is now available on the DC Universe app.  It should be noted he lead the lobbying efforts that resulted in Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster receiving long overdue overdue credit and financial remuneration from DC.
  • Born June 15, 1942 Sondra Marshak, 77. Author of multiple Trek novels including The Price of the Phoenix and The Fate of the Phoenix, both co-written with Myrna Culbreath. She also wrote, again with Myrna Culbreath, Shatner: Where No Man …: The Authorized Biography of William Shatner which of course naturally lists Shatner as the third co-author.
  • Born June 15, 1947 David S Garnett, 72. Not to be confused with the David Garnett without an S. Author of the Bikini Planet novels which should be taken as seriously as the name suggests. Revived with the blessing of Michael Moorcock a new version of New Worlds as an anthology this time. Last work was writing Warhammer novels.
  • Born June 15, 1960 Sabrina Vourvoulias, 59. Thai-born author, an American citizen from birth brought up in Guatemala, but here since her teens. Her novel, Ink, deals with immigrants who are tattooed with biometric implants that are used to keep track of them no matter where they are. I’m assuming that the “Skin in the Game” story which appeared first on Tor.com is set in the future. Fair guess that “The Ways of Walls and Words” which also appeared on Tor.com is also set there. The Readercon 25 panel she was on, “East, West and Everything Between: A Roundtable on Latin@ Speculative Fiction” is available for free on iBooks is is all of her fiction. 
  • Born June 15, 1963 Mark Morris, 55. Horror writer who’s also written a number of Dr. Who works, both novels and audiobooks. I’d single out his Torchwood full-cast audiowork Bay of the Dead as being quite chilling. He also edited Cinema Macabre where folks such as Jo Fletcher and Simon Pegg discuss their favorite films which won the prestigious British Fantasy Award. 
  • Born June 15, 1973 Neil Patrick Harris, 46. His first genre role was not Carl Jenkins in Starships Troopers, but rather Billy Johnson in Purple People Eater, an SF comedy best forgotten, I suspect. Post-Starship Troopers, I’ve got him voicing Barry Allen / The Flash in Justice League: The New Frontier and Dick Grayson / Nightwing in Batman: Under the Red Hood. He also voiced Peter Parker and her superhero alias in Spider-Man: The New Animated Series. Finally, he’s currently Count Olaf in A Series of Unfortunate Events which he also produces. 

(9) COMMENTS ON TRANSLATING SFF. In 2014, the SCBWI Japan Translation Group ran this interesting Q&A with Yoshio Kobayashi (who has been to more than one North American Worldcon.)

How did you come to be involved in the project? What approach do you take with the translating and editing of each book?

I’ve translated novels and stories from English for more than thirty years. I’ve also written book reviews of Japanese novels in English, and I frequently discuss SF at World Science Fiction Conventions. I’ve also helped shepherd some stories to be translated into English. I write my blog in English, too. So they asked me to do the job. My experience of book editing was appreciated as well.

…What advice can you give to translators wishing to develop their literary translation skills?

Read. A lot. At the least, you have to read 500 novels to be confident of your reading ability. I used to read ten novels a month before I decided to be a translator. When I started my career, I had read more than 1,000 novels in English from every genre. I teach translation at a translators’ school and I always tell my students to read. When you have read 500 novels you start to understand an author’s style, what euphemism is and how the author uses metaphor. A lot of translators misunderstand that. You have to read contemporary US/UK novels too, in order to understand the modern usage of English and current trends. Then to translate modern Japanese novels, you need to be able to grasp contemporary vocabulary. I still read about ten titles a month, although now it’s a combined number. I have read ten American novels and five Japanese novels a month for twenty years. So read! And trust the authors. You don’t have to orchestrate the work. Authors write everything that is needed to be described. The rest should be given to the reader’s imagination. Reading is an ability that is developed through reading, so it’s better to help our readers expand that ability. You shouldn’t intervene by explaining too much.

(10) A HOLE NEW ARTFORM. Art Daily remarks on a science-meets-art subject in “Art of early man found in the greatest meteor crater on earth.”

Leading South African scientists from the University of the Free State are about to undertake research into the destruction caused by a huge ancient meteorite that could hold clues critical to the history, mechanisms and consequences of meteorite strikes on earth and elsewhere in the Solar System. The results of this work could mean a better understanding of the effects of such impacts and the greater safety of the earth. 

The vast crater is also fascinating for its human interest from early man who used it as a centre of cultural importance and left rock carvings as proof of their presence. The site was of great spiritual significance, comparable to the stone circles of Stonehenge in the UK. The Khoi-San patently understood that the rock remains found on the surface were unique and important. 

(11) UNGIFTED STUDENT. The Verge reviews a new book: “Magic for Liars blends magic school with a murder mystery.” The article’s tagline is, “Sarah Gailey’s full length debut is a unique spin on the genre.”

Magic school clashes with a murder mystery in Magic for Liars, the debut novel from Sarah Gailey, best known for their American Hippo short stories — but with one key twist. 

That’s because while the school and the murder may be magical, Ivy Gamble, the investigator hired to solve the case, is completely ordinary. Unable to sling a spell or cast a charm, she’s a far more relatable character than most other magical detectives that dot the literary landscape.

(12) MINORITY REPORT. USA Today likes a new movie, at least more than a number of reviewers (“’Men in Black: International’ burning questions: Where the heck is Will Smith?”).

Producers didn’t even seek out Smith and Jones for cameo appearances.

“They both loom so large, it didn’t feel right,” MacDonald said. “It seemed like it might be that taste that made you think, ‘Why aren’t they here?’ ” 

However, if you look carefully at Agent High T’s (Liam Neeson) office, there are pictures of both agents in the background.

(13) D&D&TV. Do they have enough hit points? Inverse (“At D&D Live, Wizards of the Coast Rolls the Dice on the Future”) says “Hundreds gathered at the Los Angeles event to celebrate a 45-year-old tabletop game. It’s ground zero for what’s in store for the next four and a half decades.”

Inside an air-conditioned TV studio in Hollywood, a colossal stone castle looms large surrounded by blooming hellfire. Sleek black leather chairs, the kind often found in a Wall Street meeting room, sit behind a long oak table beneath dynamic lights and high-definition cameras on 15-foot cranes. This is hell, and the cameras will go live tomorrow.

Over the next three days, a few hundred people — and a million more tuning in at home — will come in and out to watch celebrities and online personalities play Dungeons & Dragons. This is D&D Live, an annual celebration of the 45-year-old tabletop role-playing game where the newest of new media revere a game still best played with pencils, paper, dice, and friends.

(14) MORE FERTILE THAN WILEY. According to NPR, “Killing Coyotes Is Not As Effective As Once Thought, Researchers Say”.

In a rugged canyon in southern Wyoming, a helicopter drops nets over a pair of coyotes. They’re bound, blindfolded and flown to a landing station. There, University of Wyoming researchers place them on a mat. The animals stay calm and still while technicians figure out their weight, age, sex and other measurements. Graduate student Katey Huggler fits the coyotes with tracking collars.

“What really is most important to us is that GPS data,” says Huggler, who’s the lead on this project. What that data has been showing is, boy, do coyotes roam. Huggler is amazed at one young female that wandered long distances.

“It was like 110 miles as the crow flies, turned around, came back three days later,” she says. “[Coyotes] are moving fast, but they’re also moving really far.”

Huggler says all that roaming changes during the short window when mule deer fawns are born, showing that coyotes are indeed targeting them. Mule deer populations around the West are down — 31% since 1991 — and some people blame coyotes. It stands to reason that killing some coyotes could help improve mule deer numbers, but University of Wyoming wildlife professor Kevin Monteith points out if you wipe out a pack of coyotes, it leaves a hole in the habitat, and nature dislikes a vacuum.

The federal government kills thousands of coyotes every year to keep them from preying on livestock and big game. But some wildlife biologists say killing coyotes isn’t actually the best way to control them.

“The next day you just have an exchange of animals that come right back in and fill that place,” Monteith says.

In fact, some studies show that if you kill off a lot of coyotes, they breed even more.

(15) READING LIST. “As The 50th Anniversary Of Apollo 11 Nears, New Books Highlight The Mission’s Legacy”.

The countdown has begun. It’s T-minus a month or so until the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 — and humanity’s first and famous steps on another world.

In appreciation of that achievement, and the five-decade milestone, a flotilla of books has also been launched exploring Apollo’s story and raising questions about its ultimate legacy. Surveying just a few of these works, it quickly becomes apparent how singular America’s achievement was with Apollo. Even more pressing, however, is how these books show that — half a century later — we’re still grappling to understand its long-term meaning for our nation and the world.

(16) YOUR LUNAR MT. TSUNDOKU. The Verge’s Andrew Liptak precedes his preview of new genre books — “11 new science fiction and fantasy books to check out in late June” – with recommendations for reading about the Moon program.

With the 50th anniversary of the lunar landings coming up next month, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the vast canon of Apollo histories that are out there. There has been of ink spilled in the last five decades exploring every detail of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions, and there are more on the way.

A handful of works stand out in the history of spaceflight literature. The first is a pair of books authored by Francis French and Colin Burgess: Into that Silent Sea, about NASA’s work leading up to Apollo, and In the Shadow of the Moon, about the Apollo program up to Apollo 11. They’re part of the University of Nebraska Press’s fantastic Outward Odyssey series, and provide an accessible, in-depth look at how the US reached the moon.

Another essential book is Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo by Nicholas de Monxhau. If you’ve ever wondered what goes into designing a space suit (and if you haven’t watched my colleague Loren Grush’s Space Craft series), it’s an exhaustive history into how a company known for making bras and girdles developed the iconic suits worn on the moon. It explores how the space suits were made and provides a unique look into the history of spaceflight.

(17) COOL. “Bald Eagle Caught Elegantly … Swimming?” (video).

Bald eagles are typically known for their elegant flying, skilled hunting and having such majestic strength and beauty that they became the U.S. national bird. But they also possess a lesser-known talent: swimming.

Yes, bald eagles are really good at swimming, a fact some of us learned this week from a viral video published by New Hampshire TV station WMUR.

(18) WHO’S ON FIRST? Camestros Felapton has more to say about the nominees, and about the rationale for evaluating them in “Hugo 2019 – Looking at Fanwriters Part 2”.

One approach to ranking a set of fanwriters for the Hugo Awards might be to pick the example in the packet for each writer that you thought was the best example of their work and then rank each of those exemplars against each other. I think if I did that, I’d probably put Alasdair Stuart or Foz Meadows highest. But…it doesn’t feel right as a way of evaluating the finalists systematically*.

It fails in a couple of ways:

  • Reviews: longer critical essays or essays with personal insights will on a piece-by-piece comparison win out when judging writing. A good functional review will adopt a more ‘objective’ style of informative writing, which is technically hard to do but whose qualities are less obvious.
  • Broader aspects of fan writing: Elsa Sjunneson-Henry included a link to a Twitter thread in her packet contribution and it is a good example of how fanwriting also includes commentary in formats other than essays. Compiling news, parodies, event comments on other sites are part of the mix.

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

Remembering Jim Burns

Burns and Vertlieb at Sardi’s

By Steve Vertlieb: Just thinking about my dear friend and brother, James H. Burns, who left us on June 2nd, 2016. Jimmy was a wonderful writer, journalist, avid sports fan, and film historian. He was also my friend. No one could make me laugh like Jimmy could. He’d tell me endless stories about his interaction with actors and sports legends. We’d be on the phone for hours. Jimmy’s infinite joy for life was both passionate and infectious. I miss the sound of his voice, and the gift of his friendship every day. Rest well, Jimmy. Thank you for gracing my years with the sweet gift of you.

Pixel Scroll 6/14/19 Of All The Pixel Joints In All The Scrolls In All The World, She Files Into Mine

(1) DUBBED. The Daily Mail’s headline is apt: “The knight who says Ni! Actor Michael Palin receives his knighthood from Prince William in 50th anniversary year of Monty Python”.

Sir Michael Palin managed to suppress a joke when collecting the ‘unbelievable’ honour of a knighthood from the Duke of Cambridge for his post-Monty Python career.

The writer and broadcaster was dubbed a knight by William for services to travel, culture and geography, making him the first star of the sketch show to receive the honour.

(2) CHANGING FORMULAS IN STORYTELLING. In “Love isn’t what it was” on Aeon, graduate student Sophus Helle says that animated films Disney has released in this decade, including Brave, Frozen, Finding Dory, and Inside Out, show that in these films “the ideal of heterosexual romance has been replaced by a new ideal: family love. The happy ending of our most watched childhood stories is no longer a kiss.”

…It’s not just the word ‘love’ that has changed meaning over the past 10 years of Disney. The word ‘family’ has done the same. Neither Mother Gothel nor the fairy godmother of Maleficent are the biological parents of the films’ main characters, but they still end up taking emotional centre-stage because the actual biological parents are either cruel and psychotic, as in Maleficent, or distant and idealised, as in Tangled. Parenthood is determined by one’s emotional bonds. As a result, the very question of what counts as a ‘family’ in Disney has become more ambiguous and more modern.

(3) BOMBS AWAY. NPR’s Scott Tobias advises, “Erase The Awful ‘Men In Black: International’ From Your Mind”.

If Hollywood studios are content to cannibalize the vaults in search of new hits, the first thing they should remember is why the original films were hits in the first place. For all the bells and whistles that went along with the original 1997 Men in Black, with its cutting-edge alien effects, the reason it works is extremely old-fashioned, rooted in an effective cross-pollination between fish-out-of-water comedy and mismatched buddy comedy.

…There’s a lot of plotting in Men In Black: International, which makes room for a diabolical three-armed seductress (Rebecca Ferguson) and a compact weapon of planet-destroying power, but the more the story unfurls, the deeper the film sinks into quicksand. Director F. Gary Gray and his screenwriters, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, have made the crucial mistake of believing the franchise needs complex world-building instead of streamlined comedy. Even if the events in the film made any kind of sense, they were never going to matter as much as the good time Hemsworth, Neeson and the two Thompsons are supposed to be showing us. And yet that’s where the emphasis lies.

The Boston Globe gives it 2.5/4 stars.

(4) FIRE TWO. NPR’s Andrew Lapin says “‘The Dead Don’t Die’ In Jarmusch’s Latest, But Your Patience Will”.

“This is going to end badly,” Adam Driver says, over and over with slight variations, in the new zombie comedy The Dead Don’t Die. It’s both the movie’s catchphrase and raison d’être. Things tend not to end well in general, because people have a habit of taking bad situations and making them worse, and there’s no reason to suspect that will change when the dead are rising from their graves and feasting on the bodies of the living. To the extent that the film has a joke, this is it: Humans mess everything up, and in the end probably aren’t worth saving.

All fair points. But does that sound fun to watch? Maybe it could have been, in another universe, with this exact cast and this exact director. Jim Jarmusch is a national treasure, after all, and he’s already proven himself a master of idiosyncratic, cracker-dry comedies that play with our love of dead or dying cultural icons, from Elvis to diners to samurai. But as The Dead Don’t Die smirks through its ironic corpse pile-up, dispatching a parade of beloved actors like rancid meat and playing the same original Sturgill Simpson tune on loop, it’s hard not to wonder if the joke is on us for watching it.

And the Boston Globe gives this one only 1.5 stars.

(5) THEY LOVE TOY STORY 4. But wait! BBC says this one’s getting good reviews — Toy Story 4: What did the critics think?” Out today in the UK, the fourth (and supposedly final) instalment of Toy Story has been warmly welcomed.

Woody, Buzz and Jessie are returning nine years after they said goodbye to Andy and settled into their new home with Bonnie at the end of Toy Story 3.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy said: “It’s now certain what one of the summer’s blockbusters will be.

“More than that, how many other film series can legitimately claim to have hit four home runs in a row?” he added.

Variety’s Peter Debruge said the movie gives “satisfying emotional closure”, adding that “the fourth movie wraps up the saga beautifully”.

He added the film “explores the idea of purgatory: What’s it like for a plaything to be ignored, overlooked or entirely unused?”

(6) WOODY ON TOUR. Tom Hanks went on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to promote the movie, and showed he didn’t think much of the heavy-handed guidance he was given by the marketing division: “Tom Hanks Shares Disney’s Strict Rules for ‘Toy Story 4’ Media Tour”.

Hanks also decided to poke more fun at the late-night host by reading a surprising note Disney gave him for any time he would make an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! “When doing Kimmel, please do not mention the Academy Awards. What’s that about?” Hanks asked. After Kimmel questioned why they would add that note, the actor replied: “You got bounced, my friend!” 

With fans anticipating the fourth installment of the popular franchise, Hanks celebrated Toy Story 4 for adding new talent in Tony Hale, Keanu Reeves and Carl Weathers. Though he’s starred as Woody since the original film, Hanks revealed that Toy Story 4 may be the best film in the franchise. 

“I know it sounds ridiculous because I’m in it, but it’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen in my life.” 

Hanks also revealed that he didn’t know Weathers was in the film. “We never see each other. We maybe will run into each other when somebody’s session finishes and the other is waiting to go on, but at the premiere I saw Carl Weathers and I had to go shake the man’s hand because not only was he Apollo Creed, he was Action Jackson,” said Hanks.

(7) FAMILIAR VOICE. The new Maltin on Movies podcast brings us “Alan Tudyk”.

Alan Tudyk is a gifted actor and a familiar face who achieved cult status as a costar of Joss Whedon’s Firefly and its follow-up feature-film Serenity…but he’s also become the man of a thousand voices. If you’ve seen Wreck-it Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, or even Rogue One: A Star Wars Story you’ve heard his facility with accents, dialects, and the ability to embody colorful characters. He also stars in one of Leonard and Jessie’s favorite unsung movies, Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil. Alan is only too happy to demonstrate his vocal talents during our hilarious interview. Angelenos can currently see him onstage in Mysterious Circumstances at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 14, 1908 Stephen Tall aka Compton Crook. Stephen Tall was the most common pseudonym of American science fiction writer Compton Newby Crook. He wrote two novels, The Ramsgate Paradox (in his Stardust series) and The People Beyond the WallThe Stardust Voyages collects the short stories in that series. The Compton Crook/Stephen Tall Memorial Award was established by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society in his name for best first novel in a given year. He is not available in digital form in either iBooks or Kindle. (Died 1981.)
  • Born June 14, 1909 Burl Ives. No, I’m not including because of being him voicing  Sam the Snowman, narrator of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in that film though I could argue it is  genre. No, I’m including him because he was on The Night Gallery (“The Other Way Out” episode) and appeared in several comic SF films, Jules Verne’s Rocket to the Moon and Earthbound. He also appeared in The Bermuda Depths which is more of a horror film. (Died 1995.)
  • Born June 14, 1914 Ruthven Todd. Scottish author of mostly children’s books whose series The Space Cats begins with Space Cat and features a cat who stows away on a spaceship.  He wrote several more conventional genre novels as well, Over the Mountain and The Lost Traveller. A Space Cats omnibusand The Lost Traveller are available at iBooks and Kindle. (Died 1978.)
  • Born June 14, 1921 William L. Hamling. He was a lifelong member of First Fandom. Editor of the Stardust fanzine in 1940, and Imagination and Imaginative Tales in the Fifties. He did the 1940 Chicon program book with Mark Reinsberg.  And his Regency publishing concern in the Fifties would do paperback editions of Kurt Vonnegut, Robert Bloch and Philip José Farmer. (Died 2017.)
  • Born June 14, 1949 Harry Turtledove, 70. I wouldn’t know where to begin with him considering how many series he’s done. I’m fairly sure I first read novels in his Agent of Byzantium series and I know his Crosstime Traffic series was fun reading. 
  • Born June 14, 1972 Adrian Tchaikovsky, 47. He is best known for his Shadows of the Apt series, and for Children of Time which won an Arthur C. Clarke Award. The After War series is multi author. He wrote the first, Redemption’s Blade, and Justina Robson wrote the second, Salvation’s Fire

(9) THINKGEEK SALE. The ThinkGeek website is moving its business the main GameStop website, and they’re doing a 50% off sales-final sale on the whole site if you use the code MOVINGDAY. While supplies last, of course. As for the future —

IS THINKGEEK SHUTTING DOWN?

Nope. On July 2nd, 2019, ThinkGeek.com will be moving in with our parent company GameStop. After this move, you will be able to shop a curated selection of unique items historically found on ThinkGeek.com via a ThinkGeek section at GameStop

Daniel Dern returns from a personal scouting expedition to say, “Alas, the Con Survival Bag of Holding is out of stock, and I don’t even see the class Bag of Holding (which had been revised/updated in the past year, although I haven’t yet seen it up close and personal).”

(10) TROJAN APP. According to NPR, “Spain’s Top Soccer League Fined For Using App To Spy On Fans In Fight To Curb Piracy”.

On Tuesday, Spain’s premier soccer league, La Liga, was hit with a 250,000-euro fine — about $280,000 — for using its mobile phone app to spy on millions of fans as part of a ploy to catch venues showing unlicensed broadcasts of professional matches.

The country’s data protection agency said the league’s app, which was marketed as a tool to track game scores, schedules, player rankings and other news, was also systematically accessing phones’ microphones and geolocation data to listen in on people’s surroundings during matches. When it detected that users were in bars, the app would record audio — much like Shazam — to determine if a game was being illegally shown at the venue.

(11) VENICE OF THE NORTH. Like they say, if it’s not Scottish, it’s… “Scotland’s crannogs are older than Stonehenge”

Archaeologists have discovered that some Scottish crannogs are thousands of years older than previously thought.

Crannogs were fortified settlements constructed on artificial islands in lochs.

It was thought they were first built in the Iron Age, a period that began around 800 BC.

But four Western Isles sites have been radiocarbon dated to about 3640-3360 BC in the Neolithic period – before the erection of Stonehenge’s stone circle.

(12) BUILT TO LAST. BBC asks “How to build something that lasts 10000 years”.

Alexander Rose and a team of engineers at The Long Now Foundation are building a clock in the Texan desert that will last for 10,000 years. He explains what he’s learnt about designing for extreme longevity.

…Over the last two decades, I have been working at The Long Now Foundation to build a monument-scale “10,000 Year Clock” as an icon to long-term thinking, with computer scientist Danny Hillis and a team of engineers. The idea is to create a provocation large enough in both scale and time that, when confronted by it, we have to engage our long-term future. One could imagine that if given only five years to solve an issue like climate change, it is very difficult to even know where to begin because the time scale is unreasonable. But if you reset the scale to 500 years, even the impossible can start to seem tractable.

Building a 10,000-year machine required diving into both history and the present to see how artefacts have lasted. While we can slow the workings of the clock itself down so that it only ticks as many times in 10,000 years as a watch does in a person’s lifetime, what about the materials and location? Over the last 20 years I have studied how other structures and systems have lasted over time, and visited as many of them as I can. Some sites have been conserved by simply being lost or buried, some have survived in plain sight by their sheer mass, others have had much more subtle strategies.

(13) URSA MINOR. In Mission: Unbearable, Kuma Bear is tasked with a Mission to SpikeCon.

(14) DOCTOR SLEEP. The official trailer has been released for Doctor Sleep, based on Stephen King’s sequel to The Shining.

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

Mythcon 50 Author Guest of Honor Changes

Tim Powers

Tim Powers has agreed to step in as Mythcon 50’s GOH Emeritus. John Crowley, scheduled to be the Author Guest of Honor, had to cancel his appearance for personal reasons.

Tim Powers, a science-fiction and fantasy writer who arguably is heir to the legacy of Charles Williams, has been Author GOH at Mythcon twice; in Berkeley at Mythcon 26 and at Mythcon 41 in Dallas, Texas. Powers has won three World Fantasy Awards, for his novels Last Call (1992) and Declare (2000), and his story collection The Bible Repairman and Other Stories (2012). He is a five-time nominee for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, winning in 1990 for The Stress of Her Regard.

For more information, click on 50th Mythopoeic Conference in San Diego, California, August 2-5, 2019.

Loscon 46 Adds Karl B. Kofoed as Artist GoH

Art by Karl B. Kofoed: “Starliner”

Karl B. Kofoed will be Artist Guest of Honor for Loscon 46, to be held Thanksgiving Weekend (Nov. 29-Dec. 1) at the Marriott Los Angeles Airport Hotel.

Artists, authors, scientists, and fans from around the world will gather for parties, cosplay, and panel around the convention’s theme  “Where Science Fiction Meets Fantasy”.

“Karl Kofoed is probably best known for his Galactic Geographic series that ran in Heavy Metal for many years, and his astonishing planet and starscapes that have adorned numerous book and magazine covers. Karl says this will be his first trip to Los Angeles in 60 years.” Matthew B. Tepper, Loscon 46 Chair said of the Pennsylvania-based artist.

Kofoed steps in for the original invitee who cannot make it for personal reasons.

Loscon’s guest of honor slate also includes award-winning speculative fiction writer Howard Waldrop (The Ugly ChickensNight of the Cooters) and Edie Stern, a fan celebrated for her work at fanac.org, a Fan-history archive as well as other fan community activities around the world.

Hosted by the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, the world’s oldest continuously active science fiction and fantasy club (founded 1934), the 46th Loscon this family-friendly gathering includes program with diverse participants such as Steven Barnes, Harry Turtledove, Tananarive Due, Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, Tim Powers, and Larry Niven.

Loscon is hosted at the recently redesigned Los Angeles Airport Marriott, located on Century Boulevard near Los Angeles International Airport. Weekend memberships and room reservations are available at discounted rates before the convention. 

For updates, follow Loscon on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and search for #Loscon.

Amazing Collector Cards

Amazing collector cards

Steve Davidson has unveiled these images of giant-sized cover artist collector cards, each one featuring one of Amazing Stories Volume 76 covers on the front and the artist’s picture and bio on the back.

They include the magazine’s special one-year anniversary (all-color edition) cover by Vincent Di Fate, which will be coming soon; it’s also the Volume 77, Number 1 cover.

Created as rewards for Amazing Stories’ Indiegogo campaign, they’ll be available for sale in the relatively near future (after issue 5 comes out in August/September).

DiFate cover center