Pixel Scroll 3/3/20 And Was The Corny Cry Of ‘Fifth’ On The File’s Pleasant Comments Seen?

(1) NEW HORROR “RADIO NETWORK.” Brian Keene announced yesterday on Facebook that The Horror Show with Brian Keene will become the flagship podcast for the new Brian Keene Radio Network, which will also include Defenders Dialogue, Cosmic Shenanigans, and Grindcast. From the statement, it looks like the split from Shelly and Armand Rosamilia is amicable.  They are all still friends.

The Horror Show with Brian Keene started out on the Project iRadio Network. During our second year, we became part of the Project Entertainment Network.

Beginning April 1, (in the midst of our sixth year on the air) The Horror Show with Brian Keene will become the flagship podcast for the new Brian Keene Radio Network,…

Listeners will not be impacted by this change. You’ll still be able to hear episodes of each podcast for free via Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, YouTube, Google Play Music, and all other platforms. You’ll also be able to hear them for free on a new 24/7 live-streaming venture (a rebooted and revamped Brian Keene Radio) beginning in April. Old shows will still be accessible, as well. You may notice some changes to the structure of each show — new theme music, new title cards, advertising presented in a different way — but otherwise, it’s business as usual….

(2) DEAR JEFF BEZOS. While Amanda S. Green had some unfortunate problems uploading her new book via Kindle Digital Publishing, thereby missing a deadline and forfeiting pre-orders, she got a hell of a good post out of it for Mad Genius Club: “Not How I Expected Today To Go”. A lot to learn here.

…Lesson #1: Check the Terms of Service on a regular basis.

Amazon has updated the Terms of Service and did so on Feb. 20, 2020. How many of you have read them since then to see if there are any changes you need to be aware of? I hadn’t–at that point. I guarantee you I have since then.

…In the meantime, I have set a recurring alarm on my phone’s calendar to remind me to check the ToS every month. Yes, I’m being obsessive about it. But I am convinced the fact I knew what the ToS said and could prove it was at odds with the FAQs helped me plead my case and get my pre-order privileges restored. (As did being professional in my dealings with Amazon).

This writer will not be the unhappy writer on what should be release day ever again.

Fingers crossed.

(3) ONWARD. Vanity Fair fills readers in about “The Heartbreaking True Story Behind Pixar’s Onward”. Tagline: “A lost father. A found tape. A voice a filmmaker thought he would never hear.”

Dan Scanlon didn’t have a sad childhood; he just grew up with a hole in it.

It was in the shape of his father, who died in 1977 when Scanlon was only one year old. Neither he nor his brother, who is about three years older, remember their dad. They tried to construct some sense of him from pictures, from stories, from glimpses of the few soundless reel-to-reel home movies they had.

That’s what inspired Scanlon, a veteran Pixar creative team member and director of Monsters University, to pitch the idea for Onward, an animated fantasy about two brothers who do the same. These siblings—younger, shy Ian (voiced by Tom Holland) and older, boisterous Barley (Chris Pratt)—are blue-skinned, pointy-eared elves in a suburban sword-and-sorcery world who harness magic to bring their late father back for one single day together. 

(4) LONDON CALLING, FEWER ANSWERING. Coronavirus is taking its toll of book events. Publishers Lunch asserts “Reed Is Holding the London Book Fair, Dubbed ‘The Nightmare of Epidemiologists,’ without All of You”

The UK government is not ready to ban public events of scale yet, and Reed Exhibitions is apparently not ready to face the costs of a voluntary cancellation and continues to vow that the London Book Fair will proceed next week. The show is an increasing outlier, with the big Leipzig Book Fair canceling next week’s show.

More companies have announced that they will skip the fair and protect their employees, now including a number of UK-based companies and divisions. Penguin Random House, which officially had only made the show optional for US employees — most of whom opted out — has followed other large trade publishers in withdrawing entirely. Their spokesperson said, “The London Book Fair is an important moment in the global publishing calendar but given the fast moving situation around the Coronavirus, Penguin Random House has come to the difficult decision to withdraw from the fair in the interest of the health and wellbeing of our employees, authors, and partners.”

The post continues for another couple of paragraphs naming businesses that have pulled out of the London event. Nevertheless, Publishers Weekly says “London Book Fair Will Still Go Ahead”.

(5) CALL FOR ARTICLES. Steven H Silver will be co-editing an issue of Journey Planet and would like contributions that fit in with its theme —

I don’t believe in the supernatural, but when I was walking amongst the ruins of Kenilworth Castle back in 1984, I had the feeling that if ghosts existed, I was about to meet one.

As anyone who knows me can tell you, I’m not much for wandering around outdoors. Allergies have had a tendency to make me favor climate controlled areas, so it came as a huge surprise to Elaine when we saw Thingvellir in Iceland that I commented “I want to come back here and spend three or four days hiking and camping.”

While it is true that travel broadens the mind, it is also true that it opens us up to the magic of the world around us. This year, I’ll be co-editing an issue of the Hugo Award wining fanzine Journey Planet with James Bacon and Christopher J Garcia that looks at “the most magical place you’ve visited.”

We’re leaving it up to the authors and artists whose work will appear in this issue to define what “most magical” means in this context. It could be a place that took your breath away, a place that actually made you believe that magic or ghosts or the supernatural existed, a place that has significant meaning for you, or something else entirely.

Artwork and photos based on the same prompt are also very welcome.

If you are interested in participating, please drop me an e-mail at shsilver@sfsite.com and we can discuss appropriate topics and article length.

The deadline is June 20.

(6) AO3/CHINA UPDATE. Two English-language publications that focus on China have news stories from their perspective.

South China Morning Post: “Archive of Our Own, one of the internet’s biggest fanfiction sites, blocked in China amid new censorship rules”

…Outraged internet users took to social media Weibo to voice their anger, accusing Xiao’s fans of being compliant in China’s censorship machine.

“China has succeeded in getting people accustomed to self-censorship in the past decade, and in using public power to eliminate those with different opinions. The idea has been deeply rooted in everyone’s head,” Weibo user Frunzzi wrote in one of the most popular comments.

Another user with the handle ChaofanDouxiansen wrote: “Why would you hurt the already limited space for creation? Shame on you.”

Also, Radii reported: “A03 Fanfiction Drama Sparks High-Stakes War of Boys’ Love Fandom”

…Some Sean Xiao fans went so far as to organize a coordinated assault against the website, posting a message that encouraged others to report AO3 and LOFTER (China’s equivalent of Tumblr) for unlawful and homoerotic content.

Unfortunately, it seems that the spiteful act has yielded results. AO3 is now blocked in China, leaving a massive base of displaced fanfiction authors and readers. In turn, that community has started to launch similar attacks against Xiao’s fanbase.

The whole thing is a huge and unnecessary mess, and the fan who organized the assault has admitted to working with Sean Xiao’s management team in order to control the situation on Weibo.

(7) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Daniel Braum and Robert Levy on Wednesday, March 18, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY.)

Daniel Braum

Daniel Braum is the author of the short story collections The Night Marchers and Other Strange Tales, The Wish Mechanics: Stories of the Strange and Fantastic and the Dim Shores Press chapbook Yeti Tiger Dragon. His third collection, Underworld Dreams is forthcoming from Lethe Press in 2020. The Serpent’s Shadow, his first novel, was released from Cemetery Dance eBooks in 2019. He is the editor of the Spirits Unwrapped anthology from Lethe Press.

Robert Levy

Robert Levy’s novel The Glittering World was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and the Shirley Jackson Award, while shorter work has appeared in Black Static, Shadows & Tall Trees, The Dark, The Best Horror of the Year, The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction, and more. Anaïs Nin at the Grand Guignol, a speculative novella written in the style of the literary icon’s legendary diaries, was released in October by Lethe Press.

(8) LUNNEY OBIT. Fanzine fan Frank Lunney died February 28 due to a coronary event. Early on, Lunney’s Beabohema was competitive with the very best sercon zines of its day, gaining a Best Fanzine Hugo nomination in 1970 when it shared the ballot with Richard E. Geis’ Science Fiction Review, Charlie Brown’s Locus, Leland Sapiro’s Riverside Quarterly, and Peter Weston’s Speculation. Wikipedia says his contributors included “a then-obscure fan named ‘Gene Klein’ who would later become famous as Gene Simmons of KISS.”

In the early Seventies he switched over to publishing Syndrome, the reasons for which he explained in an interview published by Dan Steffan and Ted White in Blat! (See the full text here.)

…But the real thig that made me decide to change was being at the Boston woldcon in 1971 with the Katzes and the Kunkels. They had some hashish that made me hallucinate. (laughs) And they loaned me A Sense of FAPA with Ah! Sweet Idiocy in it, and I read and I realized that not writing about science fiction was a lot more interesting than being concerned with science fiction at all….

Although he considered what he was doing before to be fannish, from that point on other fans also identified his output as fannish. Or even faannish. In later years he would often attend Corflu. Indeed, Lunney is credited with originating the Corflu practice of paying $20 to have one’s name removed from the choosing hat, taking away any risk of being drafted to give a GoH speech at the Sunday banquet.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • March 3, 1965 Mutiny in Outer Space premiered. It was, produced, directed and written by Hugo Grimaldi and Arthur C. Pierce (although the latter was not credited as directing). It starred William Leslie, Dolores Faith, Pamela Curran and Richard Garland. The word “meh” would best sum up the reaction critics at the time had to this film. It has no rating at Rotten Tomatoes so you’ll need to watch it and see what you think of it.
  • March 3, 1965 The Human Duplicators premiered. It was produced and directed by Hugo Grimaldi and Arthur C. Pierce (without a credit for the latter as director). The film stars George Nader, Barbara Nichols, George Macready and Dolores Faith. It was the color feature on a double bill with the black-and-white Mutiny in Outer Space. It wasn’t well received by critics, and Mystery Science Theater 3000 gave it their usual treatment. It currently holds a zero percent audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes. You can see it here.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 3, 1863 Arthur Machen. His novella “The Great God Pan” published in 1890 has garnered a reputation as a classic of horror, with Stephen King describing it as “Maybe the best horror story in the English language.” His The Three Impostors; or, The Transmutations 1895 novel is considered a precursor to Lovecraft and was reprinted in paperback by Ballantine Books in the Seventies. (Died 1947.)
  • Born March 3, 1920 James Doohan. Montgomery “Scotty” Scott on Trek of course. His first genre appearance was in Outer Limits as Police Lt. Branch followed by being a SDI Agent at Gas Station in The Satan Bug film before getting the Trek gig. He filmed a Man from U.N.C.L.E.film, One of Our Spies Is Missing, in which in played Phillip Bainbridge, during the first season of Trek.  Doohan did nothing of genre nature post-Trek. ISFDB notes that he did three genre novels co-written with S.M. Stirling. (Died 2005.)
  • Born March 3, 1924 Catherine Downs. She’s in four Fifties grade B SF films: The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues, The She Creature, The Amazing Colossal Man and Missile to the Moon. All but the first film was the subject of a MST3K show. (Died 1976.)
  • Born March 3, 1936 Donald E. Morse, 84. Author of the single best book done on Holdstock, The Mythic Fantasy of Robert Holdstock: Critical Essays on the Fiction which he co-wrote according to ISFDB with Kalman Matolcsy. I see he also did two books on Kurt Vonnegut and the Anatomy of Science Fiction on the intersection between SF and society at large which sounds fascinating.
  • Born March 3, 1945 George Miller, 75. Best known for his Mad Max franchise, The Road WarriorMad Max 2Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome andFury Road.  He also directed The Nightmare at 20,000 Feet segment of the Twilight Zone film, The Witches of Eastwick, Babe and 40,000 Years of Dreaming
  • Born March 3, 1977 Sarah Smart, 43. She’s Jennifer in the two part Eleventh Doctor story, “The Rebel Flesh” and “The Almost People”. She’s Magda Cribden on The Secret of Crickley Hall, and played Carl Gruff in the “Billy Goat” episode of the Fairy Tale series. 
  • Born March 3, 1982 Jessica Biel,  38. A number of interesting genre films including The Texas Chainsaw MassacreBlade: Trinity, StealthThe Illusionist, the remake of Total Recall which I confess I’ve not seen, and the animated Spark: A Space Tail.
  • Born March 3, 1980 Katherine Waterston, 40. She’s Tina Goldstein in the Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which she reprised in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. And she was Janet “Danny” Daniels in Alien: Covenant. Finally I’ll note that she was Chrisann Brennan in the Steve Jobs film.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) FOWL TRAILER. Artemis Fowl hits U.S. theaters May 29.

Disney’s “Artemis Fowl,” based on the beloved book by Eoin Colfer, is a fantastical, spellbinding adventure that follows the journey of 12-year-old genius Artemis Fowl, a descendant of a long line of criminal masterminds, as he seeks to find his father who has mysteriously disappeared. With the help of his loyal protector Butler, Artemis sets out to find him, and in doing so uncovers an ancient, underground civilization—the amazingly advanced world of fairies. Deducing that his father’s disappearance is somehow connected to the secretive, reclusive fairy world, cunning Artemis concocts a dangerous plan—so dangerous that he ultimately finds himself in a perilous war of wits with the all-powerful fairies.

(13) REALISM. In “How To Write Believable, Realistic, and Responsible Violence” on CrimeReads, Ed Ruggero offers seven tips for making violent scenes in fiction plausible.

1. People have strong reactions to violence.

Here is retired Marine Randy Hoffman describing combat to young men and women in training. “Your heart rate is uncontrollable,” he tells them. “Your pulse goes up so much that your ears kind of stop up. Everything goes kind of in slow motion. Your brain focuses on minute details to help you get through engaging the enemy before he can kill you.” [Wall Street Journal, December 13, 2019]

There are also delayed physiological effects. Here is the late Paul Russell, a combat medic in Vietnam, describing his reaction after he crawled under incoming fire to rescue wounded GIs, an action for which he would be awarded the Silver Star. “I threw my guts up all the next day. Adrenaline.”

(14) PRESSING ON. Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus is full of good news about their affiliated venture, Journey Press. He begins the “State of the Press, March 2020 edition” with news that their flagship release, Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women (1958-1963), is in over 300 bookstores (besides being available as an ebook.) Here’s what else they have coming up —

Old Masters sign on with Journey Press

It is our great honor and privilege to announce that Journey Press will be working with Hugo Finalist and SF veteran Tom Purdom to bring back his classic, I Want the Stars. We chose to bring back this particular book for several reasons. For one, it is a timeless work, with a unique vision of the human condition nearly a thousand years from now. For another, it may well be the first science fiction novel ever to explicitly star a Black man. That’s unusual for today, forget 1964. Finally, it’s just a great book. It comes out in June.

Also, we are bowled over with delight to announce our collaboration with Robin Brown, son of the late, great Rosel George Brown. Ms. Brown was one of science fiction’s brightest lights from the mid ’50s until her untimely death in 1967 (two of her best stories are in Rediscovery). Just before she passed away, she wrote Sibyl Sue Blue, the novel that features the first galactic woman space cop. If ever there were a genre we need to have more books in, it’s that one!

Look for Sibyl Sue Blue next year, timed to coincide with coverage of the book at Galactic Journey.

New Talent on the Horizon

In less than two weeks, we will be releasing Kitra, our first work of new fiction. It’s already gotten some great advance reviews, and we think it’ll be a hit. Well, we hope so: there are nine more planned books in the series! Don’t worry, though. Kitra stands alone.

We’re particularly excited about this release, not only because it’s a revival of the space adventure yarns of the mid-20th Century (think Robert Heinlein and Andre Norton), but it also features illustrations by the talented Lorelei E. Marcus. Last, but certainly not least, Kitra has a queer woman of color as its protagonist — again, something we think there should be more of!

(15) WATERWORLD IS REAL. Or at least it Was. Maybe. According to Futurism com: ”Scientists Say Ancient Earth Was Completely Covered In Water”.

Scientists at Iowa State and the University of Colorado say they’ve found compelling new evidence that the ancient Earth was an unbroken expanse of water, without a single continent. Yes: “Waterworld.”

The research, published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience, examined ancient samples of sea floor found in Australia and found chemical clues that Earth used to be a completely blue planet — a discovery, the scientists say, that could have deep implications for the history of life itself.

(16) GAME TECH. “Half-Life: Alyx – Hands on with Valve’s virtual reality game-changer”, a BBC video.

In 1998, Half Life changed first-person shooters forever.

It combined cinematic storytelling, taut and tense combat and extra-dimensional bad guys.

A successful sequel followed, but it’s been nearly 13 years since the last release.

Now the series has returned in the form of a virtual reality title.

BBC Click’s Marc Cieslak was one of the first people in the world to play it, and he suggests it could be VR’s first killer app.

(17) PLOT POINT. “Mulan: Disney drop character following #MeToo movement” – BBC has the story.

A Disney producer says the character Li Shang is missing from the live-action remake of Mulan, as his storyline is not “appropriate” in the #MeToo era.

The film tells of a woman who disguises herself as a man to fight in place of her father in China’s imperial army.

In the 1998 animated original, based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, General Li Shang developed a bond with Mulan’s male warrior alter-ego Ping.

After her true identity was revealed, she and Li Shang have dinner together.

Given recent revelations in Hollywood, however, producer Jason Reed confirmed they were uncomfortable with the power dynamics in their relationship.

“I think particularly in the time of the #MeToo movement, having a commanding officer that is also the sexual love interest was very uncomfortable and we didn’t think it was appropriate,” Reed told Collider.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Dann, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, Brian Z., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]

47 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/3/20 And Was The Corny Cry Of ‘Fifth’ On The File’s Pleasant Comments Seen?

  1. (10) Doohan did have some very minor genre credits after Trek – “Jason of Star Command” and “Homeboys from Outer Space” if I recall correctly (this is my brain on sludge as the filk goes)

  2. @4: Pax East happened, and claims to have sold out, despite the withdrawal of Sony (per a recent Pixel). We will see whether it turns out to be a probable cause of transmission, since cases have turned up in the neighborhood. I suspect the book conventions skew older, which might account for greater caution.

    @6: there’s always somebody (usual several) in tyrannies who know(s) how to work the system to their advantage — although denouncing one’s enemy is not exactly a complicated tactic. It would be nice if the boy-idol’s management team got in hot water about this; I’ll look for it after I get my pony.

    @10 typo: Biel is 38 not 48.

    @12: I will be interested to hear about this movie from people who aren’t already Fowl fans; I found the first book labored, although not as bad as Colfer’s attempt to continue the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series.

    @Camestros Felaptron: very nice title today.

    The Aussies are working on a satellite to identify places that could catch fire easily, in the hopes of mitigating them before the next round of fires. The spotting tech sounds cool and plausible, but I wonder how much mitigation is possible.

    @OGH: tonight the corny cry could be mine….

  3. @bill — Interesting on University Challenge that they were all old sf collections. Because they were, I was able to answer them all.

    Sorry to hear about Frank Lunney’s death. I always liked his fanzines, and even wrote for them. (He didn’t get much of my best writing, unfortunately.) I was his music columnist, and he didn’t like my music writing once I started turning it in — my tastes were a bit mainstream for him.

    I think I was one of the reasons he stopped Beabohema and started over with Syndrome. He had already transitioned BAB from the sercon zine it had been into the fannish zine he wanted it to be, but he still had my music column to deal with. He could have just told me he didn’t want it any more, but I think he didn’t want to hurt my feelings. So at a convention room party he carefully explained that he was killing his old fanzine and starting a new one, a different one, and he wasn’t carrying the columns from the old one over to the new one. But if I remember correctly, Syndrome was exactly like the later issues of Beabohema except for one difference — no me.

  4. @Mike — The hope is sincere. I wasn’t planning on going, but I am already reconsidering trips I was going to make in America this spring and summer, that aren’t near as big of a deal. Ignore for the moment missing the convention because it didn’t happen (which would be a shame); I’m sure most people who want to go would have money tied up in airline tickets and hotel rooms that they may not be able to get back.
    And if the committee does cancel it, at least the decision is made for you. I’ve got a trip to Atlanta at the end of the month that I expect several hundred people to be at (if it occurs), with a number of international visitors. Even if they don’t cancel it, the Atlanta area already has a couple of cases of corona virus, and I’m thinking about skipping it and losing several hundred dollars in registration, etc.
    They keep telling us it is comparable to the flu. But they do it in the same breath that they are telling how many have died, and lockdowns, and grocery store shortages. I’m concerned for myself, for Kiwis, and for everyone else.

  5. @bill – 3 on the University Challenge questions. I like to think I would have gotten the fourth also, but the young whipper snapper beat me to it before I read down the list to the give-away title.

    2 out of 4 of the year’s major western conferences in my industry have been cancelled so far. Pretty sure the other two will be before long.

  6. ICFA (in Orlando this month) and ECCC (in Seattle also this month) are expected to happen, according to their websites. I’m waiting to see what happens with Norwescon (next month) since I’m all set to go.

  7. The Aussies are working on a satellite to identify places that could catch fire easily…

    So a satellite that can recognise Australia. Shouldn’t be too difficult.

  8. (10) The Outer Limits may have been Doohan’s first genre role in the U.S., but he appeared in the CBC program Space Command in 1953-54. (I only know this because my dad was a stagehand on the show.)

  9. Not that this in any way justifies China’s actions, but fanfic about living persons has at least the potential of being very creepy. I’m sure I would be denounced if I put out a story detailing my fantasies about Nicki Lynch, for example.

  10. @David Shallcross–Was the fanfiction about the actor, or about the character he plays? Because it seems to me William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and legions of others have been able to tell the difference.

  11. @David Shallcross: My first contact with AO3 was when fans of a band I like discovered there is a small trove of porn there in which all the band’s members are fucking each other. It was not a particularly good introduction, for me or for my fellow fans.

  12. 4/4 on the quiz also. (Regarding the Tiptree, just a few days ago I tried yet again – and failed – to get into “The Women Men Don’t See,” which I’ve attempted every 5 years or so since the ’70s.)

    (14) Regarding Kitra, didn’t Clarke’s Imperial Earth feature a black queer protagonist way back in 1975? (Or did the novel simply not make much of an impression, despite this, because its story was so conflict-free?)

  13. 2) The Amazon KDP TOS has stated that if you miss your pre-order deadline, your pre-orders are cancelled and you lose your pre-order privileges for a year since pre-orders were opened for self-publishers.

    Of course, it’s not Amanda Green’s fault that she missed her pre-order deadline – after all, she suffered an internet failure and an Amazon glitch. But she’s not the first person to whom something like this happened. I’ve heard similar stories from other self-publishers. I’ve also had glitches myself where a book was stuck in conversion or review for hours and in one case four days. That’s also the reason why I don’t do pre-orders. Because life and glitches happen.

    4) I’m somewhat annoyed that the Leipzig Book Fair was cancelled, because I was looking forward to a lot of literature coverage on TV. Of interest to SFF fans is that the associated Manga Con was cancelled as well. Meanwhile, Saxony has only a single imported corona case and no native spread.

    The cancellations of events are also extremely inconsistent. Major trade fairs have been cancelled like the Berlin travel trade fair ITB (which is one cancellation I can understand), a fitness and health fair in Cologne, the Leipzig Book Fair (one of the most important in the world) and the Hannover industrial fair, which is huge and important. Meanwhile, football league and cup games are still taking place as usual in packed stadiums. Far right ralleys are still taking place as well. Probably because cancelling book fairs is less likely to annoy those parts of the population deemed important by the powers that are.

  14. Meredith Moments

    Mindtouch (“Dreamhealers” #1) by M.C.A. Hogarth is . . . FREE! from the author (also: DRM-free, at least at Kobo) in the U.S. I’ve seen the name here at File 770 in comments before, but I admit I’ve never read anything by Hogarth. It’s categorized on Kobo as SF, New Adult, Romance. Uh . . . is that a . . . skunk-taur on the cover?! Anyway, anyone read these and have recommendations pro, con, or other?

    Dragon’s Code (a Pern cross-quel, for lack of a better term) by Gigi McCaffrey is $1.99 from Del Rey (uses DRM) in the U.S. I haven’t heard great things about this but if you were thinking of trying it, now’s the time to get it.

  15. @ Lis, this is how the story that provoked the reaction is marked on AO3. (A chapter from the story is here – Mike, please remove the link if File770 doesn’t allow it, I’m not sure of your website’s policy.)

    Mature
    Underage
    M / M
    Relationship: Wang Yibo / Xiao Zhan
    Character: Wang Yibo / Xiao Zhan – “Character”

    So, the answer to your question is that the story’s named main characters are Xiao Zhan (Sean Xiao) referred to by his actual name, plus the other boy band singer/actor that he co-stars with, also called by his name. I haven’t watched their show – which sounds like it is fun enough – but I gather it relies heavily on these pop star idols’ sheer charisma for its huge commercial success.

    More context from Sixth Tone:

    AO3 was taken offline after fans of 28-year-old celebrity actor Xiao Zhan reported the website to the authorities after they became aware of a novel series published on the platform that portrayed their idol as a trans woman pursuing a romantic relationship with a male high school student.

    The web novel series at the heart of the controversy — “Xiazhui” — is an unofficial spinoff of the popular Chinese drama “The Untamed,” starring Xiao and pop star Wang Yibo. The drama was itself adapted from a queer online romance novel.

    Despite the LGBT origins of “The Untamed,” the salacious storyline of its literary spinoff appears to have been too much for some to stomach. Last week, fans of the show organized an online campaign to protest the novel series and AO3, saying the stories had defamed their idol and asking people to report both the content and its hosting platform to China’s internet regulators.

    Li Ying, a Shanghai-based AO3 reader, has been following fan culture and queer romance novels for over a decade. The 31-year-old told Sixth Tone that she and some fellow readers were worried that the website would be blocked after Xiao Zhan’s fans organized their complaint campaign.

    “I think the reporting mechanism is getting easier and easier now — it has become so simple that people don’t even think they’re filing a complaint,” Li said. “For these teenagers, it may be just like completing homework assigned by other, more influential fans. It’s like they need to contribute in order to claim digital victory for their idols every day.”

    Many online seem to share this sentiment, while stressing that the increasingly common phenomenon of reporting anything one dislikes and wishes to have stricken from cyberspace isn’t constructive.

  16. There was an interview with Conan O’Brien where they asked him what it was like growing up in Scotland. (He grew up in Brookline, MA. It was one of those interviews.) He said that the thing he remembered was that Star Trek was edited to make Montgomery Scott the main character. He was surprised when he came to America to find that there was more to Star Trek than Scotty’s adventures in space.

    It’s Miranda Richardson’s birthday. I suppose the kids of today know her as Rita Skeeter, but she’ll always be Queen Elizabeth to me. She’s had a busy career so no surprise she has some genre credits. Most recently she was in Good Omens and provided the voice of the Queen of Weevils on Danger Mouse.

    Bring me my Book of divine stalk:
    Bring me my feline on a pile:
    Bring me my Fifth: O readers talk!
    Bring me my Pixel scrolls of file!

  17. 4) I was wondering if there are any conventions that are going to be cancelled in the next month or two over the pandemic.

    Didn’t SARS impact a worldcon?

  18. @Matthew Johnson: Here’s a weird Doohan fact – he was in the CBC production of “Flight Into Danger” (the story that was later filmed as “Zero Hour” – and thus as “Airplane”). The producer of “Flight Into Danger” was Sydney Newman – and the production was so successful that the BBC recruited Newman, leading to his role in the creation of “Doctor Who.”

    @Jack Lint: Great Scroll suggestion – I was thinking of trying something with that poem just the other day.

  19. bill on March 3, 2020 at 9:10 pm said:

    Corona virus now has a toehold in New Zealand. Hope they don’t have to cancel Worldcon.

    It is a possible consequence and I assume CoNZealand are thinking about the issues. It may also be that people are just less inclined to travel internationally and attendance. There won’t be a lot the con organisers can do to prevent that if it occurs or mitigate the risk. There are several months yet to go but people will be making (or have already made) their travel plans. Obviously for me sitting in Australia, travel to NZ is the least risky overseas travel available but for people in Europe or North America, it is a long journey and will have a transfer at some third point in a major international airport hub — which carries its own risks.

    All we can do is hope for the best. If the con is impacted by virus-concerns either by reduced attendance due to reasonable travel fears or due to official closure of gatherings in Wellington then I would hope the broader SF community (e.g. us) will consider ways to raise money to help offset the financial impact on the organisers.

    By August the height of the (probable) pandemic may have passed or it may be just reaching a peak. The good news is that NZ has a strong health system and a sensible government and I believe will cope better than many nations in this crisis.

  20. Bring me my Book of divine stalk:
    Bring me my feline on a pile:
    Bring me my Fifth: O readers talk!
    Bring me my Pixel scrolls of file!

    I shall not cease from pointless fights
    Nor shall my blog sleep in my hands
    Till I have built Mount Tsundoku
    On my bedroom’s clean and handy nightstand

  21. @Cliff: same here — I was reading the list from the top down instead of skimming for the obvious hit their genre semi-expert popped on. Said expert had a slight excuse for not recognizing Tiptree, who is in and out of awareness, but missing Le Guin…

    @Mister Dalliard: I guess there’s always somebody ready to make an … unthinking … remark.

    @Jack Lint: that interviewer may have been even dumber than you suggest — has anyone ever heard of an O’Xxx coming from Scotland rather than Ireland? And that’s a good pastiche.

    Robert Whitaker Sirignano: I don’t remember hearing about SARS, but I haven’t done many recent Worldcons; IIRC there was a little nervousness about something during Torcon III (2003), and Legionnaires’ Disease was spoken of during Philcon 2 (2001) — although it was mostly across the pond. The most direct impact I know of (albeit with no advance warning) was an then-unknown gut bug now tagged as “norovirus AY502008 (Wiscon)” (relayed from Geek Feminism) after the 2008 outbreak, which some reports say covered much more ground than Wiscon; I’ve also heard of “norovirus madisonii” but don’t know whether that was anything more official than a random coinage.

  22. I suppose if you had to cancel Worldcon for public health reasons you could still run site selection, and present all of the Hugo Awards in absentia, but the business meeting should just not be held, and any pending ratifications be put off until the following year. Ideally, there would be the finances and the information to offer everybody either a complete refund, or a downgrade to supporting, based on the rates in effect at the original purchase or upgrade. Maybe anybody who had voted would be limited to a downgrade. I wouldn’t blame anybody, however, if either the finances don’t allow for this, or if they didn’t keep the precise information about who paid what when for what.

  23. @gottacook yes, the protagonist of Imperial Earth was black and bisexual. In fact, it the novel more or less stated that everyone in this particular future was bisexual to at least some degree. Imperial Earth is an unusual novel – there is virtually no real conflict or drama, it’s just a long slow stroll through a future utopia. I love the book (largely for this reason, it’s so relaxing to read) but the lack of action or conflict definitely hurt its reach and influence. In that regard it’s somewhat similar to Songs of Distant Earth. Despite the award for the shorter version.

  24. (2) It’s good to have a reminder every now and again that having an agent and a “trad” publisher is not necessarily a bad thing. Especially when the alternative is a monolithic supergiant corporation that has no interest in you except as something to squeeze revenue out of. Part of an agent’s job is to help make sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed. Agents (outside of Hollywood) get more money by ensuring you get more money!

    That said, my sympathy is, for once, with one of the self-proclaimed “mad geniuses”. I’m glad Green managed to get things straightened up and squared away, rather than being turned into an “acceptable loss” by Amazon’s bean counters.

  25. Finished A Memory Called Empire – definitely good, but The Raven Tower is well ahead in my personal rankings. I will be looking out for the second book.

    I’ve also finished Storm of Locusts – the sequel to Trail of Lightning and I’m surprised I haven’t heard more buzz. If you liked the first you’ll like the second.

    And I’ve just started Velocity Weapon – which is pretty good, so far, and not what I was expecting at all. If the threads come together in a satisfying way then it’s going to rank high.

  26. @Robert Whitaker Sirignano:

    Didn’t SARS impact a worldcon?

    Yes, that was TorCon 3 in Toronto in 2003, with Toronto having been one of the first places hit with SARS outside of China. However, the fact that this was also only two years after 9/11 and tourism in general was still recovering likely had an even greater impact.

  27. @Paul King: I liked Roanhorse’s Storm of Locusts a lot!

    I realize my comment doesn’t count as “buzz,” though. 😉

  28. @David Shallcross: the hard part of refunding may be getting the facilities to admit a reasonable time ahead that the convention is unsupportable; otherwise they will probably demand large penalties for cancellation. See the Arisia-vs-Westin mess for an example of a less-than-reasonable facility; in a way, CoNZealand is in a worse bind, because they will owe money directly to the convention center rather than having to counter a claim that people would have come. Or if they’re separately incorporated from any local group, they might be better off because they could simply declare bankruptcy rather than worrying about their continuing existence. None of this would be pretty; the one cheerful thought is that the disease is so new it may have burned out by then.

  29. One would think that corona virus is more likely to be accepted as a “force majeure” type of event than labor troubles.

  30. The second novel in a series rarely generates as much buzz as the first. But yes, Storm of Locusts was a lovely book, and a very worthy sequel.

  31. @Chip – I have to confess that Le Guin was a guess for me. I don’t think I’ve read any of her shorts.

  32. My personal strategy towards the coronavirus is to take a wait-and-see approach, although I understand not everyone can afford to Do that.
    It might be worth cancelling this years awards just in case, better to be safe than sorry.

  33. @bill: that depends way too much on who gets to judge. The Westin was reported in the local paper as having turned into a dump and IIRC didn’t even have a letter-of-response published; Covid-19 is much more thinly-spread, so claiming it as a cause without (e.g.) a government decree against public meetings during the convention dates could be difficult. (Such a decree could easily happen too late to make a difference; compare, e.g., Italy closing all schools — for 10 days starting yesterday.) Joined with this is the money that arguing the case would take; Seafood Expo NA, the LBE, the main TED conference (now under discussion per the BBC) all have much deeper pockets than a small Worldcon. Consider also that Arisia lost their case on what appears to be a corrupt ruling — the arbitrator said they had had N (5?) days from the first news story about the strike, ignoring the hotel’s repeated pleas that the strike was about to be settled — and ask what CoNZealand’s luck of the draw would be.

  34. @Annie

    It might be worth cancelling this years awards just in case, better to be safe than sorry.

    Why on Earth should we cancel the Hugo Awards? Even if the corona virus still is a massive issue in late July/early August and even if CoNZealand is forced to cancel the event, the Hugo winners can still be announced online and the trophies shipped to the recipients. The rules only state that a WorldCon has to host the Hugos, site selection and the business meeting. There doesn’t need to be a Hugo ceremony, site selection can be done remotely and some kind of online conference solution could be found for the business meeting.

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