(1) INSIDE UTAH’S EXTRAORDINARY SF FANDOM. Provo’s Daily Herald interviewed Dave Doering and learned the answer to “Why Utah’s literary Big Bang? ‘Life, the Universe & Everything’ symposium, for one”.
When you name your symposium “Life, the Universe, & Everything,” and that symposium is in the heart of Mormon country, outsiders can get a little suspicious.
“I often had to cajole guests to come because they feared this was an indoctrination boot camp for Mormonism,” Dave Doering recalled.
Well, it’s certainly not that. Rather, LTUE is about science fiction and fantasy literature. The annual three-day symposium ushers in its 34th year on Thursday at downtown Provo’s Marriott Hotel. At this point, those early boot camp suspicions have waned: LTUE has become one of the premier symposiums of its kind, drawing more than 1,000 attendees and renowned sci-fi/fantasy authors each year, and covering a wide range of subjects pertinent to that industry. Not bad for an event that had only 30-40 attendees in 1983….
It worked. BYU’s small sci-fi/fantasy community grew as students started coming out of the woodwork. Within five years the symposium was drawing 300-400 attendees. That amount stayed somewhat stable through the years. Five years ago, though, things really blew up. Utah-bred authors like Shannon Hale (“Princess Academy”), Stephenie Meyer (“Twilight”) and James Dashner (“The Maze Runner”) put Utah on the map for young adult fantasy literature. New York City publishers now regard Utah as fertile literary ground.
“No one, I think, would have believed that Utah writers would make as big an impact as we have now in the young adult and fantasy areas,” Doering said. “Four of the top five writers in that field are from Utah, and you think for the population, that’s ludicrous! How did that happen?”
The Wasatch front, Doering said, has a particular storytelling culture that mainstream audiences have come to crave.
“We grow up with stories, and we are a very positive people. And I think that resonates,” he said. “By and large, the authors on the coasts that had been big names in the past, their dystopian view or manner of treating characters and situations, I think it got to be so repetitious that people were hungering for something different. And the kind of storytelling that we do here, and the worldview we have, people were just very hungry for. So it’s blossomed.”
Life, The Universe & Everything begins Thursday, February 11.
(2) IN LIVING B&W. At Galactic Journey, The Traveler just can’t turn off the tube the night that Twilight Zone is on. For one reason, this being 1961, if he misses one he won’t have another chance to see it until summer reruns begin.
It’s certainly not as if TV has gotten significantly better. Mr. Ed, My Sister Eileen, the umpteenth season of the Jack Benny Show, none of these are going to win any awards. On the other hand, The Twilight Zone has already won an award (an Emmy last year), and I’m hoping that my continued watching and review of that show excuses my overindulgence in the others.
(3) INCREASED INTEREST. Fantasy Faction has advice for putting your loot to work “A Guide To Banking In Fantasyland”. (Beware mild spoilers.)
These are tough times, and everyone needs a little help with the big decisions. Not sure which bank to choose? Sure, the Charity and Social Justice Bank  has an impressive name, but those offers at Valint and Balk  are really tempting. Perhaps Gringotts’  goblin efficiency has caught your eye, or the great interest rates at the Royal Bank of Ankh-Morpork?  Then again, the long standing stability of the Iron Bank of Braavos  is looking pretty good right now…
Hard decisions? Never fear! We are here with a handy guide to finding the RIGHT bank for YOU!
(4) DEL TORO TWEETS. Guillermo del Toro had this to say —
Book: Dangerous Visions edited by Harlan Ellison. More than an anthology- an inventory of the best science fiction minds of the 20th century
— Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) February 7, 2016
(5) TRANSTEMPORAL PIZZA PARADOX. A NASA scientist questioned the scientific veracity of a situation John Scalzi’s Redshirts. It seems John forgot to science the shit out of the pizza.
As you can see from the above embedded tweet and picture, a reader (who also appears to be a NASA scientist) asked me a question about the atoms in the pizza eaten in Redshirts, consumed by the heroes of the story, who had also traveled back in time.
Why would this matter? Because as a plot point in the book, time travelers had about six days to get back to their own time before they began to disintegrate — the atoms of their bodies from the future also existed in the past they’re visiting, and the atoms (eventually) can’t be two places at the same time and would choose to “exist” in the positions where they were in the current frame of reference.
Which is fine as long as you don’t mix atom eras. But when the characters ate pizza, they were commingling atoms from the book’s 2012 with their own atoms several centuries later — and what happens to those atoms from the pizza when the characters return to their own time? Because the atoms gained from the pizza would simultaneously be present elsewhere, and, as already noted, the atoms default to where they were supposed to be in their then-current frame of reference. Right?
As you can see from the tweet above I avoided the answer by giving a completely bullshit response (and then bragging about it). I’m delighted to say I was immediately called on it by another NASA scientist, and I responded appropriately, i.e., by running away. I’m the Brave Sir Robin of science, I am.
(6) TEE IT UP. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog – “That Time the NFL Paid Jack Kirby to Design an Intergalactic Super Bowl”.
At the height of his power in the 1970s, Kirby was commissioned for a feature in the October 21, 1973 issue of Pro! Magazine, the official publication of the National Football League. At the time, Kirby had switched to DC comics from Marvel, and presumably had a little spare time to pick up extra commissions. Hyperbolically titled “Out of Mind’s Reach,” Kirby’s collection of art depicted a future pro football match and debuted bizarre new costume designs for four different teams.
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY
- February 7, 1940 — Walt Disney’s movie Pinocchio debuted.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS
- Born February 7, 1812 – Charles Dickens
- Born February 7, 1908 – Buster Crabbe, who played Flash Gordon in serials.
(9) HARASSING PHOTOGRAPHER. Lauren Faits, who writes Geek Girl Chicago, broke a years-long silence in “Zero tolerance: Naming my cosplay harasser”.
I want to publicly thank C2E2, Chicago’s premiere comic convention, for action they took this afternoon. I was not going to attend their Mardi Gras event tonight due their affiliation with a traumatic figure from my past. Now, I enthusiastically will, and encourage everyone else to support C2E2 as well.
I am going to share my story before anyone else does.
Thirteen years ago, I was under 18- a minor. I was attending an anime convention in the Chicago area. A group of cosplayers, including myself, headed up to a hotel room to change out of our costumes. We were followed. While we were undressing, a photographer began slamming into our room’s locked door in an attempt to break in. The room had one of those sliding locks, which broke open under the force. The photographer rushed in with a camera, attempting to get nude photos and/or video of underage cosplayers.
This photographer’s name was Ron “Soulcrash” Ladao….
C2E2 is the first organization thus far to take me seriously. They are no longer professionally affiliated with my harasser, and thanked me for helping provide a safe environment for all. I encourage everyone to attend their party tonight, the convention, and other affiated events.
A lesson for everyone: If someone is making you or a loved one uncomfortable, don’t ignore it. It is easy to brush off someone’s disconcerting actions as “just their sense of humor,” but acts like these are no joke. We should not be laughing at predators. In fact, several people told me I should “talk” to Ron, to see if he’d apologize. Absolutely not. If someone broke into your home, or mugged you on the street, would you follow them later to seek an apology? No. We should believe and support one another, and let our actions show zero tolerance for harassment. We don’t owe harassers anything.
(10) NOT SORRY. Stephanie S. at The Right Geek justifies last year’s actions in an extensive post, “Dear SJW’s: We Sad Puppies CAN’T Repent”.
Lastly – and most importantly – there is no such thing as a “natural vote.” This is probably one of the biggest misconceptions that under-girds our opposition’s argument: the idea that, before we philistines got involved, the Hugos highlighted works that were genuinely the best in the field — which were selected by a group of high-minded, pure, and totally impartial fans. Ha. Ha ha. And again: ha. Do you know how many works of science fiction are published in a typical year? Many thousands. There is no one on God’s green earth who is capable of reading them all. In reality, modern fandom (like any other large group of human beings) has always had its aristoi — in this case, a small group of influential bloggers, reviewers, publishers, and magazine editors that routinely has an outsized impact, intentional or not, on what gets the hype and what doesn’t. The only thing that’s changed here is that some “politically objectionable” people have proven themselves to be a part of that aristoi and have decided not to play pretend. My suggestion? Make peace with the fact that factions will forever be with us. Man is inherently a political animal. Instead of denying this state of affairs, try to manage its effects by increasing overall participation on both ends of the Hugo process.
(11) TITANIC DISCOVERY. Futurism reports “The Mystery of Pluto’s ‘Floating Hills’ Solved : They’re Icebergs!”
NASA’s New Horizons mission keeps astonishing us with new images and new revelations about the mysterious, demoted dwarf planet, Pluto.
The most recent discovery is this little gem: Pluto has hills and small mountains that literally float across its surface. It’s weird and unearthly, but we’re dealing, after all, with a very alien world on the outskirts of the Solar System.
And things are bound to get even weirder.
The newly discovered hills are mostly small, typically a few kilometers across, and were discovered in the immense frozen ocean of the so-called “Sputnik Planum,” which represents the western lobe of the famous heart-shaped Tombaugh Regio, the most prominent feature on Pluto
It seems these hills are composed of familiar water ice (so they really are icebergs, just like their terrestrial counterparts); since water ice is less dense than nitrogen ice, these hills are literally bobbing in a vast glacier or frozen ocean of nitrogen.
(12) SUPER BOWL ADS. Here is the Independence Day Resurgence trailer that aired during the Super Bowl.
And the X-Men Apocalypse trailer, too —
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]