Pixel Scroll 2/24/18 I Am Just A Pixel, Though My Story’s Seldom Scrolled

(1) HIGH CONCEPT. This quartet of movie posters for Solo features Han Solo, Qi’ra, Lando, and Chewie.

(2) WAIT A MINUTE. Mark Hamill is going to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. You mean he didn’t already have one? And this guy did? —

Trump was awarded a Walk of Fame star in 2007 for his role in reality series “The Apprentice.”

The official ceremony for Hamill’s star will take place on Mar. 8, according to Variety magazine. “Star Wars” creator George Lucas and Hamill’s costar, Harrison Ford, will assist in hosting the event.

(3) WORLDCON 76 PROGRESS REPORT 2. Available to read here [PDF file].

(4) MEXICANX INITIATIVE HITS 50. Worldcon 76 guest of honor John Picacio and supporters have reached a milestone:

WE DID IT. Thanks to my Mexicanx Initiative teammates, we have now reached our goal of 50(!!!) Sponsored Attending Memberships to Worldcon 76 in San Jose for deserving Mexicanx pros and fans. I had envisioned doing this since last August, but it was exactly one month ago that I was able to announce this endeavor. My good friend John Scalzi immediately joined in, and together with some amazing friends, here we are — ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED. My friends at ALAMO pushed us over the top with the final seven memberships! This was truly a team effort and you’re looking at everyone responsible for this win: John Scalzi Mary Robinette Kowal Chris Rose Fast Forward: Contemporary Science Fiction Ctein John O’Halloran Elizabeth McCarty Chris Brown Kate Elliott Kat Angeli Rina Elson Weisman Randall Shepherd Richard Flores IV Amazing Stories Worldcon 76 in San Jose Joanna Volpe, Ty Franck, Mur Lafferty, Christine O’ Halloran, BWAWA, and of course, Canadiense Anónima. Muchas gracias, all!

Picacio reveals there will be a follow-on fundraiser:

For those still wanting to contribute — ping me. I’ll share more on this tomorrow, but I’ve been building a secondary fund called ‘The Mexicanx Initiative Assistance Fund’, to assist with travel and food needs for Mexicanx facing an expensive journey to Worldcon 76 in San Jose. I’ve done this quietly, but it’s been building and it’s a complementary, but very separate fund from what we’ve achieved above. And yes, Worldcon’s treasury handles all the money. I never touch it. I just go get it.

(5) PROFESSIONAL DISCOURTESIES. John Picacio came back online later to chastize Terry Goodkind for belittling the artist of one of Goodkind’s book covers.

Heads up to everyone in the publishing industry: Authors, please take note, especially those new to the sf/f field — Pictured here is some of the most unprofessional behavior you will ever witness. This is a writer publicly throwing his cover artist under the bus, while embarrassing his publisher and their art director. This is the behavior of a child throwing a tantrum. It’s pathetic and it’s bush league. Never make the same mistake this guy just did. EVER. To Bastien Lecouffe-Deharme: Hold your head high. We’ve got your back.

And on Twitter they do have his back — lots of supportive tweets like these —

(6) NONFICTION FICTION. In “Why Adding Monsters and Fairies to a Memoir Can Make It Even More Real”, Matthew Cheney, Carmen Maria Machado, Rosalind Palermo Stevenson, and Sofia Samatar discuss the speculative memoir.

Sofia Samatar: Since I am starting this adventure, let me tell you why I chose to bring this particular group together. Carmen has written some of my favorite short stories, and one time when we were sharing a hotel room at a conference, I told her I’d been thinking about the intersection of memoir and speculative fiction, and she said she was actually working on a speculative memoir at the moment. Matt’s a fiction writer, too, and I invited him because, also at a conference, at some reception in a dark room, we were standing around with our paper plates, and he told me he was writing a dissertation on the blurry space between fiction and nonfiction, looking at Virginia Woolf and J.M. Coetzee and Samuel R. Delany. Rosalind is a brilliant writer, whose story “Insect Dreams” I have read many times. Her work plays with history and the fantastic, and recently she told me her new book is about the idea of the female Adam, and described it as a “hybrid” and a “faux autobiography.”

I started thinking about the idea of “speculative memoir” because I was a fantasy and science fiction writer whose work was becoming more and more autobiographical. Of course, all writing draws from experience, but there’s a particularly weird energy to writing memoir, in a deliberate way, in a fantastic or uncanny mode. It seems to announce a certain relationship to memory, and to experience. I wonder if each of you could start by talking a bit about this in relation to your own work. What do you find compelling about the concept of speculative memoir?

(7) REALLY EVERYTHING. Jeb Kinnison’s after action report about Life, The Universe & Everything 2018 covers some dimensions not heard about in the earlier File 770 account.

The LibertyCon contingent was well-represented, with local writers Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen, and Sarah Hoyt in from Colorado. Baen did its roadshow and the infamous Lawdog attended. While I met Larry briefly at LibertyCon two years back, I saw a lot more of him and his charming wife Bridget this time. We had listened to the audiobook of “Tom Stranger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent” (written by Larry, read by Adam Baldwin) on the drive up. As Larry’s media empire has grown and the movie options for some of his worlds are pending, it’s kind of a thrill that he now knows who I am and lets me hug him (his excuse being his arm was injured and couldn’t take too many handshakes.)

(8) NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED. Allegedly. “PETA Hands Out Awards to ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Jumanji’ for Being Animal-Friendly”.

From Star Wars: The Last Jedi to Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals on Thursday revealed the Hollywood actors and movies it recognizes for animal-friendly achievements this year with its first-ever Oscats Awards.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi nabbed the prizes for best live-action movie and best original screenplay for positive storylines, like Finn and Rose liberating fathiers used for racing and Chewbacca choosing not to eat a porg.

Wait a minute, in the movie I saw, Chewie already killed and cooked one of the damn things! How does PETA square giving an award after that?

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 24, 1886Thomas Edison married Mina Miller. He wooed the 19-year-old woman via Morse code. Who says online dating is new?

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born February 24, 1786 — Wilhelm Karl Grimm, the younger of the two Brothers Grimm, is born in Hanau, Germany.
  • Born February 24, 1945Barry Bostwick (The Rocky Horror Picture Show)
  • Born February 24, 1947Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica, Blade Runner 2049)
  • Born February 24, 1961Kasi Lemmons (Candyman, Vampire’s Kiss)
  • Born February 24, 1966Billy Zane (The Phantom, Back to the Future II)
  • Born February 24, 1970Ungela Brockman (Starship Troopers, Mystery Men)

(11) RELENTLESS. Kameron Hurley isn’t willing to coast: “From Good to Great: Starting With ‘Why'”.

It’s easy to stay motivated when you’re crushing yourself against a system. I loved being a young, scrappy writer in my 20’s, speaking truth to “the establishment,” and coming up through the slings and arrows of SFF publishing to claim my space within it. But what happens when you become the establishment? Do you just head off to do the movie deals, to expand your work to a new audience? Do you spend your time mentoring new writers? Do you just blurb a lot of books?

Accepting that I was an established author has been a hard road, for me. There are young people coming into SFF now who don’t know of an SFF without me in it. I’ve been publishing novels for seven years, which feels like a blink compared to my hard road to get here, but plenty of readers have come of age during those seven years, and for some that’s half or a third or a quarter of their lives. I know I have a long way to go, still. A huge career ahead. But I need to find my passion again for why I’m doing this. I have to find the why, or the road just stops here.

And, you know, I realize this sounds like, “Wah, wah, I got everything I wanted!” but I’ve seen how many people get stuck at “good” on the way to great. And I don’t want to just be good. I want to be great. To get to great requires continuous learning, interrogation of what you want, and leveling up again and again. So while I may not have all the steps mapped out to get me to “great” yet… at least that seems to be the place I want to reach. I don’t want to stop at good. I’ve gotten to good.

(12) HI-TECH INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY POSSE. Fast Company profiles copyright violation search services in “Here Come The Copyright Bots For Hire, With Lawyers In Tow”.

“I climbed up 900 stairs on an island to take a photo of the whole island, and it was used on the cover of a local magazine out there,” she says.

[Photographer Christy] Turner might not have known about the photo theft if not for a pair of services called Copypants and Pixsy, which use algorithms to scour the internet for copies of photographers’ work and help them enforce their rights. They send stern letters to suspected infringers, demanding that their clients be compensated or that licensing fees be paid; in some cases, law firms that work with the companies will even initiate a lawsuit on their behalf. In Turner’s case, justice came in the form of $500 in damages.

(13) SIDE BY SIDE. Cat Eldridge says, “One of the firm memes of sf is that new technologies always replace existing technologies. Reality is far messier than that meme which is why shows like Firefly makes sense.” Fast Company contends “The CD Business Isn’t Dying—It’s Just Evolving”.

…“We felt like the culture dictated that people were going to buy vinyl, not CDs,” says Kevin Farzad, Sure Sure’s drummer and percussionist. “And we were kind of surprised that more CDs sold than not.”

The band could be forgiven for assuming CDs wouldn’t sell. From their peak of $13.2 billion in 2000, U.S. CD revenues have slid to just $1.2 billion in 2016, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. And as listeners flock to streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, the CD’s decline isn’t slowing down. Earlier this month, Billboard reported that Best Buy will stop selling CDs in stores this summer, and that Target only wants to pay distributors for the CDs it actually sells. Some observers saw the news as a death blow to a fading format.

Yet it’s hard to reconcile that gloomy outlook with what’s happening in the indie music world, where the CD is still thriving. Earlier this week, the online music store Bandcamp reported 18% year-over-year growth in CD sales for 2017, up from 14% growth in 2016. (Bandcamp declined to comment for this story.)

(14) JOBS APPLICATION. History on the block: “Steve Jobs’s 1973 job application going on sale” and is expected to fetch $50K.

It is not known what the application was for, nor whether Jobs was successful.

He wrote his name as “Steven jobs” and his address as “reed college”, the school he attended briefly in Portland, Oregon before dropping out.

On the form, Jobs responded “yes” to having a driving licence but when asked if he had access to a car he wrote “possible, but not probable”.

Next to “Phone” the creator of the iPhone wrote “none”.

(15) PROXY CANCERS. In-vitro repro of specific tumors lets oncologists test drug efficacy without testing patients: “‘Mini-tumours’ created to battle cancer”.

Scientists have been able to predict how cancer patients will respond to therapy by growing miniature versions of their tumours in the laboratory.

They say the groundbreaking work could lead to “smarter, kinder and more effective treatments”.

The study, in the journal Science, was 100% accurate at telling which drugs would fail and this could spare patients from unnecessary side-effects.

Mini-tumours could also be a powerful way of testing new drugs.

(16) BEST HORROR. The cover for Ellen Datlow’s The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Ten, has been revealed:

(17) MEDIA TIE-IN. In the Washington Post, DeNeen L. Brown interviews Jesse Holland, who wrote the Black Panther novelization while spending a semester as the distinguished visiting professor of the ethics of journalism at the University of Arkansas: “He loved ‘Black Panther’ comics as a kid. Then Marvel asked him to write a novel for the movie.”

Holland, who teaches nonfiction writing at Goucher College outside Baltimore, had already written four books, including “The Invisibles: The Untold Story of African American Slaves in the White House,” when Marvel approached him.

They’d seen his companion novel for another blockbuster movie: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” He’d written about Finn, a former First Order stormtrooper.

After “Finn’s Story” was published in 2016, an editor at Marvel called Holland. “She says, ‘We have this character, the Black Panther,’?” Holland recalled. “There’s never been a novel about the Black Panther.”

Marvel wanted to recount the origin of the Black Panther in novel form, update the story and introduce the superhero to new readers.

“Most of the world didn’t know the character until last year,” Holland said. “If you want a succinct origin story to tell you who he is, my novel is a good place to start. You’ll see a lot of characters in the movie in the novel. We are drawing from the same wellspring.”

(18) WAKANDA WEAR. Yahoo! Entertainment’s Gwynne Watkins, in “Behind ‘Black Panther’: The hidden meanings of those stunning Wakanda costumes”, looks at the costume designers for Black Panther and what statements they were trying to make in describing a country that had never been conquered by colonial powers.

Yahoo Entertainment: The concept of Wakanda as an African nation that was never colonized by the Dutch or British is so powerful. How did that inform your design choices?
Ruth Carter: 
I discovered so many things about Africa that I didn’t know — like, the cloth that we normally see in many African-inspired things, the wax cloth, was brought in from the Dutch. There are influences of the British; when you see a Nigerian wedding, you’ll see a Nigerian traditional drape and a guy with a top hat on. [laughs] So you have to dig deeper and go to the indigenous tribes of Africa. You’re not a real historian, you’re just kind of the temporary historian for the picture, so you’re looking at beadwork and you’re looking at carvings and you’re looking at masks. And you’re being inspired by patterns. There are a couple of patterns that I saw repeated throughout the continent: one is like a checkerboard, another one is a triangle.

And I looked at books on African ceremonies, since ceremonies reminded me of precolonization. So for example, the Dogon tribe were the first astronomers. They do a ceremony once a year where they adorn themselves in these brilliant raffia skirts and wood-carving masks that shoot up to the stars — they’re really tall. And they do these moves that sweep the earth….

(19) NOW BOARDING. Flying to Wakanda? Your connecting flight is ready in Atlanta.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is getting into the Marvel movie spirit by jokingly offering flights to Wakanda — the fictional country from Black Panther.

The airport tweeted out a digitally altered image of gate T3 showing its destination as Wakanda, the kingdom ruled by King T’Challa, aka the Black Panther, in the eponymous super hero film.

 

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

69 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/24/18 I Am Just A Pixel, Though My Story’s Seldom Scrolled

  1. “When the cover is an illustration of a scene int he book, it should represent the scene fairly accurately, IMO.”

    Well. When I started to read SF, the standard was that the cover had absolutely nothing to do with the content of the book. Apart from perhaps the title. And still I bought them.

  2. I know authors who have complained about covers (on their sites, in interviews, etc.), although they usually complain that the cover has mistakes, or that the cover didn’t help sell the book. This seems different for some reason. Maybe it’s because of the tone. Turning into a contest seemed to take this to the next level.

    Compare that to 200, when romantic suspense author Suzanne Brockmann took to her website to complain that the original cover of her book Get Lucky made her Navy SEAL hero look like the Pillsbury Doughboy. She even sent happy face stickers to fans so that they could cover the hero’s face once they bought the paperback. Get Lucky was hotly anticipated by fans, but sales were disappointing, probably because of the cover. (It really was … something else.)

    While both authors were public about being upset with covers, I don’t see this as being the same. That might be because we didn’t have Faecbook and Twitter back then. This was a static post on her website, without comments from fans. Also, the tone seemed different than the Goodkind post. You could tell she was annoyed, but she took it in stride. Also, there is a difference between complaining about a Bastien Lecouffe-Deharme cover (something I know many authors would love to have) and a very very “meh” Silhouette category romance cover.

  3. Non-genre coincidence:: one of Book Riot’s daily deals was “The Clothing of Books” by Jhumpa Lahiri. An 80 page essay on book covers and her relationships to them, both as author and reader.

    I’m on page 50 and I am pleased to be reading this. I might not have picked it up except for the current discussion.

  4. @Laura Resnick, yes, sorry, JJ corrected me above. I wasn’t tracking very well, apparently.

    I was with my cousin in the Emergency Room overnight, so brain very slow (she is going to be fine – probably home tomorrow).

  5. JJ on February 25, 2018 at 7:03 pm said:

    I’m looking at that and wondering why he’s wearing a uniform that’s much too large for him. (I have a photo of my father in his dress whites, before he got any real rank as an officer: the collar is fairly close to the neck, and the jacket isn’t nearly that loose.)

  6. (1) HIGH CONCEPT. Cool posters! Though I feel like the fourth should be “KYRA,” perhaps because it’s the spelling I see around here. 😉

    (2) WAIT A MINUTE. As with everything, I presume Trump bought his. The stars are essentially bought – not awarded on merit. They’re basically a gimmick, so, with respect to Mark Hamill (and none to Trump), it’s not as much of an “honor” as the masses believe.

    (5) PROFESSIONAL DISCOURTESIES. I like that cover. Apparently it’s not a good representation of what happened in the book, though I won’t be finding out (no interest in Goodkind’s books, unrelated to this dust-up). But it intrigues me, which is what cover art should do – make me curious about what’s going on inside. So, well done, Bastien Lecouffe-Deharme & whoever the art director was!

    @Laura Resnick: Thanks for linking to Goodkind’s apology/clarification/whatever-folks-want-to-call-it.

    @Niall McAuley: “Covers are intended to sell the book, not illustrate it.” – And yet many authors and many readers wish it weren’t so. Some covers manage to do both; would that more managed to achieve that perfection. 😉

    (13) SIDE BY SIDE. I’ve bought songs or an album from Bandcamp a few times; I didn’t realize they sold CDs, huh.

    @rochrist: For me, it’s because the digital ones can be cheaper, they take no space, and anyway I download it and can back it up myself without worrying about Apple or Amazon doing so for me. And no extra RIP step. I’m groovy with CDs; I still buy them once in a long while, but it’s getting rarer and rarer. For me, at this point, there’s usually little-or-no benefit.

  7. @Paul Weimer: Meanwhile, the professional Nintendo Super Smash Brothers Melee tournament community is scouring America for CRTs, since digital screens introduce lag in converting the analog signal from the GameCube, and if you are timing your attacks to be frame perfect (1/60 second), lag messes up your gameplay.

    2) It’s about time, since Harrison Ford had a star long before Star Wars was even released. (Silent film actor of the same name.)

    5) Maybe the solution is to let Terry Goodkind produce his own cover art, like Janny Wurts sometimes does. If you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself, as the saying goes.

  8. (5) Rosemary Kirstein has recently made all four books in the Steerswoman series available not just as e-books, but as paperbacks (using Amazon’s CreateSpace) – including doing all four book covers. They’ve come out looking gorgeous, they are based on the maps that are such an integral part of a Steerswoman’s duties as well as other, book-specific things. I think they both sell the books and illustrate them.

  9. @Lydy Nickerson: 😀

    @Christian Brunschen: Those are attractive covers.

    Annoyingly, Amazon.co.uk put a pop-up on three of the pages (the ones with Kindle versions) asking me if I didn’t really want to save XXX pounds by looking at the Kindle version of the page instead. ::eyeroll:: 😛

  10. @Niall McCauley: do counter-representative covers (as opposed to abstract covers) work? ISTM that they’re setting up for I-won’t-buy-that-again — which is significant given how much of genre is series works nowadays.

  11. Apparently it’s not a good representation of what happened in the book, though I won’t be finding out (no interest in Goodkind’s books, unrelated to this dust-up). But it intrigues me, which is what cover art should do – make me curious about what’s going on inside. So, well done, Bastien Lecouffe-Deharme & whoever the art director was!

    I was also intrigued by the cover scene. I also like that the female protagonist isn’t dressed as cheesecake. The only detail I question is the high heel of her boots. She has to walk miles in those things.

    Probably a dumb question: Why doesn’t Goodkind have enough power with his publisher to get cover approval?

  12. @Kendall: I am surprised to hear that stars are “essentially bought – not awarded on merit.” Do you have a link supporting this?

    @O. Westin: I’m also … surprised … to hear that humans can sync to 1/60th of a second; ISTM that’s rather faster than nerves fire. Is there science supporting this, or could it be a ~marketing gimmick?

  13. Chip Hitchcock: I am surprised to hear that stars are “essentially bought – not awarded on merit.”

    It’s a combination of both. The committee approves around 20 new stars (plus 1 posthumous) each year from applications which include the $40,000 fee. Wikipedia says around 200 applications are made each year.

    The star has to agree in order to have an application made in their name, and they have to agree to appear in person at the unveiling ceremony.

  14. @Chip Hitchcock & @JJ: Thanks to JJ for clarifying/correcting what I said. To me, if it has to be paid for by outside people, then it’s a stretch to say it’s awarded on merit. Sure, they may not approve everyone, but they’re not just awarding it to someone they feel deserved it – someone outside the committee/locale (sometimes the Worthy Notable!) applies and buys the “award.”

    Being a little selective doesn’t make it less of a gimmick, to me.

  15. @Kendall: I’d say it’s even more of a stretch to call the stars “essentially bought”, given the ~10% success; Joe Schmo can’t buy himself a place. (I do see some issue with the minimum requirement of 5 years in the field — IMO it should be a lot more — but ISTM that the mean experience is much higher.) I’m sure the star and the sidewalk excavation&repaving don’t run to anywhere near the fee (to my sorrow, I have some idea of what sidewalk work costs), but I can see a lot of it covering ceremony, maintenance, the expense of running the process, etc.

  16. My favourite cover art story is still one from Tanya Huff, for the original cover for Gate of Darkness, Circle of Light, where the selected image for the cover was a scene in the book where a Metro Toronto Police car ran over a unicorn.

    Knowing that cover artists often got very limited information on what was supposed to be on this, and wanting this to be right, Tanya took several pictures of one of the local police cars from the time (getting some odd looks from the photo finishing place) and sent a stack of them to the art director to give to the artist.

    When the cover was done, and she saw it for the first time, the author realized that the police car was indeed, exactly as it should have been.

    But the unicorn was wrong.

    The unicorn in the book was pony-sized and somewhat goat-like that was actually half run over by the car. The unicorn on the cover was a huge Arabian stallion that would probably have left even a police car damaged after running into it.

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