Pixel Scroll 6/20/20 Let The Filed Rumpus Begin

(1) ARISIA’S LATEST REFORMS. Boston’s Arisia conrunning group is taking steps to create “A More Welcoming Arisia”. The post begins:

Black Lives Matter. While we don’t have a time machine to prevent the injustices of the past, we certainly have the power and the duty to correct present injustices and prevent future injustices in the spaces we are responsible for creating. Actions speak louder than words, and we are determined that our actions will reflect our resolve to make Arisia a more diverse, more welcoming space.

Changes have been made to the Arisia Code of Conduct:

  • We have replaced some language that has been weaponized against BIPoC or used to police their behavior. In particular, we strive to avoid coded words like “intimidating” and “civilized”. We can and will continue to clarify our expectations of Arisia attendees, but we will do it in ways that do not alienate fans of color.
  • We have added “display of hateful iconography” to the list of behavior the Code of Conduct explicitly forbids, with reference to the iconography listed on the SPLC and ADL websites.
  • In light of our knowledge of endemic police racism and brutality in interactions with BIPoC, we have removed suggestions that Arisia would involve the police, either reactively in response to prohibited behavior, or proactively by encouraging a police presence. In the past, we have sometimes paid for Boston Police Department details during the convention, but we commit to ending this practice.
  • We have clarified the protected classes, including race, to which our harassment policy pertains.

They have retired the “Lens” logo.

This artwork too closely resembles a modern police badge, which has become a symbol of oppression.

It is being replaced with Lee Moyer’s winged-A logo designed for Arisia 2017.

They have formed an Anti-Racism Committee “dedicated to educating ourselves about the injustices suffered by BIPoC and how to become actively anti-racist.” They also are “re-committing to supporting the convention’s Diversity Committee, which exists to make the Arisia convention a safer, more welcoming space for fans of color.”

(2) PROGRESS REPORT. Good news from DreamHaven Books in Minneapolis: “We have achieved a proper glass door! Now we even look open. Noon-6, Monday-Saturday.”

And on June 17, publisher Catherine Lundoff spoke at DreamHaven Books about owning and operating a small press. The title of the the talk was “The Return of Running a Small Press: It’s an Adventure” and it also featured a live Q&A on Facebook.

(3) FREE READS FROM SOMTOW. Somtow Sucharitkul is giving away three free ebooks on Amazon THIS WEEKEND ONLY — from now till 23:59 Sunday night.

Somtow in a mask.

The Vampire’s Beautiful Daughter • A book for young adults, this was a Junior Literary Guild selection as well as a Science Fiction Book Club selection. It’s about a half Jewish, half Lakota boy with some cultural identity issues who befriends a girl in school whose problem leaves his in the dust: she’s half human and half vampire. And she has to pick a side before she turns sixteen.…

Light on the Sound • the first volume of a series set in a galactic empire of incredible beauty and brutality. Of this series, reviewers said:

“He can create a world with less apparent effort than some writers devote to creating a small room … yet these tales are intricately wrought as those handcarved oriental balls within balls” — The Washington Post

“His multicultural viewpoint may yet give us the best SF novel of all time” — Analog

After a twenty year silence, I’ve added a fifth book to the series, and am working on a sixth, so this book is by way of introduction.

The final free book is Sounding Brass. It is an autobiographical memoir about the time I spent as a student ghost-writing music that was presented as the work of a cabinet minister during the Vietnam War. It’s definitely a worm’s eye view of “the swamp” with major political figures making cameo appearances, but although it’s definitely a funny book it also asks some questions about what “being an artist” really means.

To get these books for free, please make sure you order them from Amazon during the window of Saturday the 20th – Sunday the 21st, Pacific Standard Time.

Please enjoy the books and, if you so desire, visit my website  (www.somtow.com) and sign up for the newsletter, and you’ll receive news and the occasional free ebook.

(4) IN PRAISE OF VIRTUAL CONS. Polish fan Marcin Klak discusses “Online Conventions and Where to Find Them” at Fandom Rover. His post is a great window on what’s been done in this line in Europe.

… All in all, I found the conventing online is really rewarding. The feeling is different than the one at the in-person cons but it has also some similarities. The most important aspect is that it allows me to socialize with fellow fans. I do hope that sooner rather than later in-person cons will be possible, but even then I think I would like to find some time for the online events. They have their own certain value not only as a “replacement” but also as events worth spending time on even in the “regular” times.

(5) UFO #8. Alex Shvartsman has released the Unidentified Funny Objects 8 table of contents. He expects the book to be released by early October.

  • Foreword by Alex Shvartsman
  • “The 10:40 Appointment at the NYC Department of Superhero Registration” by Chris Hepler
  • “Soul Trade” by Galen Westlake
  • “A.I., M.D.” by Kurt Pankau
  • “The Fellowship of the Mangled Scepter” by James Wesley Rogers
  • “When the “Martians” Return” by David Gerrold
  • “Welcome Home” by Simon R. Green
  • “The Unwelcome Mat” by J. J. Litke
  • “Get Me to the Firg-<click><cough>-xulb On Time” by Laura Resnick
  • “Black Note, in His Transition to a Supreme State of Wokeness” by James Beamon
  • “The Other Ted” by Wendy Mass and Rob Dircks
  • “C.A.T. Squad” by Gini Koch
  • “Ambrose Starkisser” by Jordan Chase-Young
  • “Gommy” Amy Lynwander
  • “Journey to Perfection” by Larry Hodges
  • “Fifteen Minutes” by Mike Morgan
  • “Zaznar the Great’s Fifty-Sixth Proposal to the Council for Urban Investment” by Jared Oliver Adams
  • “Terribly and Terrifyingly Normal” by Illimani Ferreira
  • “Couch Quest” by Eric D. Leavitt
  • “Pet Care for the Modern Mad Scientist” by Michael M. Jones
  • “The Punctuation Factory” by Beth Goder
  • “One Born Every Minute” by C. Flynt
  • “Shy and Retiring” by Esther Friesner
  • “Suburban Deer” by Jamie Lackey
  • “Body Double” by Jody Lynn Nye

(6) PAWS FOR ENJOYMENT. I’ve learned you can support George R.R. Martin’s Jean Cocteau Theater in Santa Fe by accessing the “Quarantine Cat Film Festival” (mentioned in yesterday’s Scroll) with a virtual ticket purchased through their site. The link will take you there.

…Jean Cocteau Cinema presents Quarantine Cat Film Festival. Amateur filmmakers from around the world filmed their beloved cats during COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. This compilation reel brings together the cutest, funniest, brave stand most loving of these videos, exclusively filmed during the pandemic.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • June 1997 — Will Shetterly’s Dogland was published by Tor Books. The Chopping Block was listed as the cover artist. Shetterly has said it’s the novel that he’s most proud of. The story is based on his own childhood and a business that his parents owned called Dog Land. In 2007 Shetterly published a sequel, The Gospel of the Knife. Reviewers including Faren Miller, Ellen Kushner, Gahan Wilson and Peter Crowther praised both the characters and the setting. (CE)

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born June 20, 1897 Donald Keyhoe. Early pulp writer whose works included the entire contents of all three published issues of the Dr. Yen Sin zine. The novels were The Mystery of the Dragon’s ShadowThe Mystery of the Golden Skull and The Mystery of the Singing Mummies. He would create two pulp characters, one with ESP who was a daredevil pilot and one who was blind that could see none-the-less in the dark. He’s best remembered today for being one of the early believers in UFOs and being very active in that community. (Died 1988.) (CE) 
  • Born June 20, 1913 Lilian Jackson Braun. Author of The Cat Who… series which really may or may not be genre. The two cats in it are delightful and one, Koko, certainly has a sixth sense, but the author never suggests this is psychic. The first, The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, was published in 1966. She’d publish twenty-nine more novels plus three collections of The Cat Who… shorter tales over the next forty years.  Good popcorn reading. (Died 2011.) (CE)
  • Born June 20, 1919 – Kees Kelfkens.  A dozen covers for Dutch translations.  Here is The Narrative of A. Gordon Pym.  Here is The Two Towers.  Here is Nineteen Eighty-Four.  (Died 1986) [JH]
  • Born June 20, 1920 – Lloyd Eshbach.  Fan, pro, church publisher and Evangelical Congregational minister.  First sold SF 1930 to Scientific Detective Monthly; thirty more short stories.  Founded Fantasy Press and helped other small presses; edited Of Worlds Beyond about pro writing.  Pro Guest of Honor at Cinvention the 7th Worldcon (Cincinnati); reminiscences of the 1st, 6th, 7th, 10th, 39th, 41st, for the 47th (Noreascon III Program Book).  Last novel 1990, The Scroll of Lucifer.  (Died 2003) [JH]
  • Born June 20, 1941 – Pamela Zoline.  Illustrated several stories for New Worlds, see e.g. this for “Camp Concentration”.  Her most famous story “The Heat Death of the Universe” has been translated into Croatian, German, Japanese, Polish; five more.  You can read “Heat Death” here [PDF].  In 1984, with husband John Lifton and five others, founded the Telluride Institute at Telluride, Colorado; in 2006, she and JL founded the Centre for the Future at Slavonice, Czech Republic.  [JH]
  • Born June 20, 1950 – Bruce Dane.  Attended L.A.Con the 30th Worldcon; first President of the Central Arizona Speculative Fiction Society; after Los Angeles and Phoenix, Colorado Springs.  A filker; at his death Bill Mills sang “Don’t Bury Me in the Cold Cold Ground” to which you could once and might still get access here [PDF]; the File 770 report is here.  (Died 2008) [JH]
  • Born June 20, 1951 Tress MacNeille, 69. Voice artist extraordinaire. Favorite roles? Dot Warner on The Animaniacs, herself as the angry anchorwoman in Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, Babs Bunny on Tiny Toons and Hello Nurse on Pinky and The Brain. (CE)
  • Born June 20, 1947 Candy Clark, 73. Mary Lou in The Man Who Fell to Earth which of course featured Bowie. She also was in Amityville 3-DStephen King’s Cat’s Eye, and The Blob in the role of Francine Hewitt. That’s the remake obviously, not the original. Oh, and she’s Buffy’s mom in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Wiki being Wiki lists that as non-canon because it’s not the Whedon Buffy. (CE)
  • Born June 20, 1962 – David Clink.  As he says, poet, poker player, punster (e.g. “The Valet of the Shadow of Death”).  Fourteen dozen poems, e.g. in the 2019 Rhysling Anthology; four collections, recently The Role of Lightning in Evolution.  A poetry editor for Amazing.  His Website is here; it has his 2013 biography here.  [JH]
  • Born June 20, 1967 Nicole Kidman, 53. Batman Forever was her first foray into the genre but she has done a number of genre films down the years: Practical MagicThe Stepford WivesBewitched (I liked it), The Invasion (never heard of it), The Golden Compass (not nearly as good as the novel was), the splendid Paddington and her latest was as Queen Atlanna in the rather good Aquaman. (CE)
  • Born June 20, 1968 Robert Rodriguez, 52. I’ll single out the vastly different Sin City and Spy Kids franchises as his best work, though the From Dusk till Dawn has considerable charms as well. ISFDB notes that he’s written two novels with Chris Roberson riffing off his The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D film, The Day Dreamer and Return to Planet Droll. (CE)
  • Born June 20, 1971 – Wu Ming-yi, Ph.D.  Professor of Chinese at Nat’l Dong Hwa University, Taiwan.  Two novels for us, The Man with the Compound Eyes and The Stolen Bicycle; six others, short stories, essays; known for nature writing, or as some would have it, ecological literature; translated into Czech, English, French, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Turkish.  Designed and illustrated his non-fiction Book of Lost Butterflies and The Dao of Butterflies.  [JH]

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • All glory is fleeting: Wondermark,”In which a Visitor proves a Nuisance, Part 2.”

(10) LIVE LONG. Gothamist ran this Erik Pendzich/Shutterstock image of Dr. Fauci street art on the Lower East Side. Andrew Porter adds, “Note The Pigeon of Truth on his shoulder!”

(11) MARTIAN HOP. The art students at Liverpool John Moores University couldn’t have their senior exhibits because of the pandemic. So they used NASA’s 3D Scans to hold a “Degree Show on Mars”.

The planet is currently broken. We are doing our degree show on Mars.

The trajectory of the LJMU Fine Art Degree show has been charted. We proceed at full-throttle and we are on schedule. This final journey into the unknown for our graduating students is not a pared back simulation of what might have been, it is a voyage that seeks to collectively establish new relevance and understanding for their individual endeavours, amid the stasis the world is currently experiencing. 

Artists respond to the world as they find it, they reflect it and help to build an understanding of what we are experiencing. The Degree Show on Mars is not simply showcasing the extraordinary originality and resilience of our graduating artists. It is a means by which we can document and understand the crisis through the eyes of artists who are emerging into a world very different to that which they had anticipated. 

(12) FACING UP. Brain Pickings’ Maria Popova invites you to enjoy a gallery of homemade masks — “As an Antidote to Fear of Death, I Eat the Stars: Vintage Science Face Masks” – now licensed for sale.

A small, coruscating delight: I have made a series of face masks featuring wondrous centuries-old astronomical art and natural history illustrations I have restored and digitized from various archival sources over the years….

(13) ABOUT POE. At CrimeReads, Sarah Weinman asks “Can You Really Separate Edgar Allan Poe’s Work From His Life?” Weinman wrote the introduction for a reissue of Julian Symons’ Poe biography The Tell-Tale Heart, originally published in 1978, which has been out of print for decades.

…But the audacity of Symons’ project makes more than a bit of sense: because, he rightly argues in The Tell-Tale Heart, so much of what we think we know about Edgar Allan Poe is rooted in grudges, hearsay, rumor, and mystery, and of intuiting too much personal meaning from his successful, written-for-the-money mystery stories and from the poems that were closer to Poe’s heart and spirit.

(14) LAST AT BATS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Yahoo! Entertainment story “Holy Bat-feuds! Revisiting the behind-the-scenes drama surrounding ‘Batman Forever’ 25 years later”, Ethan Alter argues that Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever “might arguably be worse” than Schumacher’s widely reviled Batman & Robin, and lists the many feuds surrounding the film, including Michael Keaton turning down $15 million to get in the bat-suit because the script for the film “sucked,” Val Kilmer regretting he replaced Keaton in the bat-suit, and villians Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey wanting to stick knives in each other.

…Schumacher and Kilmer were all smiles during the Batman Forever publicity tour, but it turns out that was just really good acting. Interviewed by Entertainment Weekly in 1996 — one year removed from the film’s release — the director described a tense on-set relationship that culminated in an actual pushing match. “He was being irrational and ballistic with the first AD, the cameraman, the costume people,” Schumacher said. “He was badly behaved, he was rude and inappropriate. I was forced to tell him that this would not be tolerated for one more second. Then we had two weeks where he did not speak to me, but it was bliss.” Speaking with Vulture in 2019, Schumacher was even more pointed: “I didn’t say Val [Kilmer] was difficult to work with on Batman Forever. I said he was psychotic.” 

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Neil Gaiman–Is Writing For Children Tougher Than Writing for Adults?” on YouTube is a 2013 video by Bloomsbury Publishing where Gaiman explains that when writing for children, he has to be more precise than writing for adults.

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

30 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/20/20 Let The Filed Rumpus Begin

  1. Got as far as 3) and found it difficult to scroll further, as my Kindle had apparently teleported itself spontaneously into my hands…. Silly, really, as I’ve had a hard copy of Light on the Sound for, hmm, somewhere around twenty-five years now, I think… but a free ebook backup is not to be sniffed at. Not by me, anyway. (Seriously, it’s darn good stuff.)

  2. 3) I’m not seeing that books are free unless you sign up for the Kindle Unlimited service which I’m very much not interested in doing.

  3. Cat Eldridge: The offer has nothing to do with Kindle Unlimited. I bought them myself for $0.00 today. And I’m not signed up for KU.

  4. (8) Candy Clark was born in 1947, not 1957. (If the latter, she’d have been only 16 when filming American Graffiti and that didn’t seem possible.)

  5. Cat Eldridge: If you see this —

    Read with Kindle Unlimited to also enjoy access to over 1 million more titles
    $0.00 to buy

    — note there is a hyperlink to buy for $0.00.

  6. Mike says to me: The offer has nothing to do with Kindle Unlimited. I bought them myself for $0.00 today. And I’m not signed up for KU.

    When I followed the link, it opened the Amazon app and only gave me the option of reading them free that way. One sec… OK, it’s free if I open it up Amazon in Safari and search for the author that way. The App’s hardwired in iOS to give the Kindle Unlimited option.

  7. @2: I wonder whether they’re going to keep the plywood top as a memento, or replace it when the glass companies have caught up with eye-level damage.

    @7: I found Dogland an interesting tangle, probably because it was drawing more from the messiness of life and less from a constructed world (where the writer can pick what goes in), and maybe because I was getting faint echoes of my own childhood, which involved Spring vacations near Jacksonville (where my grandfather had settled) — it has some of that atmosphere of pre-Disney tourist tat.

    @Cat Eldridge: that’s odd; AFAIK I downloaded the Kindle app (so I could read library books) without getting signed up for anything more (I certainly haven’t paid them anything for “unlimited” service), and the links as I opened them in Firefox had a “buy for $0.00” button. Maybe they have the death sentence on them in 12 systems?

  8. OGH: I’m sorry, I can’t switch off being an editor, especially lately. However, I manage not to correct my family and I guess I can hold back here, too.

  9. I just wanted to take a moment to rave about a recent read – Son of a Liche, second book in the series, the first is Orconomics. By Zachary Pike. If you were among those who wondered about the economy of Middle Earth and complained the Orcs are one-dimension evil, these are the books for you. It’s written in a lighthearted tone with many laugh out loud moments. But the story also deals with serious issues both personal and social justice. Good books for the current times.

  10. (1) I found Anti-Defamation League’s Hate Symbols Database. I couldn’t figure out what they were referring to when they mentioned “the iconography listed on the SPLC . . . website.”

  11. bill enquires I found Anti-Defamation League’s Hate Symbols Database. I couldn’t figure out what they were referring to when they mentioned “the iconography listed on the SPLC . . . website.”

    That’d be the Southern Poverty Law Center, the oldest organisation I know of in the fight against hate speech and hate crimes. They track all the white terrorist groups active here, as well provide an impressive library of resources that are available at low or no cost to anyone who needs them.

    Good folk doing hard work and doing it rather well. The original Social Justice Warriors.

  12. Thanks, Somtow;

    I hope we will see books 2-4 and Utopia Hunters in normal text format, instead of those graphic files, as well (not necessarily for free, of course. I am certainly willing to pay for them).

  13. So I’m watching Watchmen since HBO has made it available for free this weekend, and I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would. I don’t think it’s what Alan Moore would have done with this premise, but it’s worthwhile.

    I do have to nitpick one thing: the date is given quite clearly as September of 2019. At one key point in episode 3, we look up and see a large bright Mars in the sky. But in September 2019, Earth and Mars were almost diametrically opposite one another, with the Sun in between. I wonder why they couldn’t have set it one year earlier, when Mars would have been visible? (The astronomically inclined among you will remember that in the summer of 2018 Earth and Mars had a particularly close opposition.)

  14. (1) So who will the Arisia committee call if someone commits an actual crime? Ghostbusters?

    (8) The Invasion is the fourth movie adaptation of Jack Finney’s The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

  15. @Steve Green — I don’t speak for Arisia, but this is less about “someone commits an actual crime” than about using the police as security guards.

    If a con member is reporting harassment, they shouldn’t have to guess whether it’s safe for them to do so, when the answer to that question is often determined not by the specifics of the report, but the race or gender of the people involved.

    If someone breaks the rules, and the con decides to expel them, they should be given a chance to pick up their coat and leave, even if they’re complaining as they go. The con, or the hotel, shouldn’t start by calling the police. George Floyd was murdered by cops who thought he might be guilty of shoplifting.

  16. @Vicki Rosenzweig, actually, George Floyd was murdered by cops after a clerk thought he’d paid with a counterfeit $20 bill. Which I suppose might be “shoplifting” in a sense… but not necessarily deliberate shoplifting. Who can tell, now, if he’d even known the bill was bad?

  17. @Cassy B–I don’t think we’ve even heard definitively whether the bill was counterfeit. Small stores like that are under a lot of pressure to err on the side of caution about not accepting and passing on a bill that might be counterfeit, and the clerk on duty at the time was a teenager. The store owner said that if the bill was fake, he’d be surprised if Floyd knew.

  18. For those interested in supporting Uncle Hugo’s/Uncle Edgar’s, there is now a link to order sweatshirts and tee shirts. An Uncle Edgar’s shirt has the Uncle Edgar’s logo on the front and the Uncle Hugo’s logo on the back and the Uncle Hugo’s shirt has the Uncle Hugo’s logo on the front and the Uncle Edgar’s logo on the back. And they’re available in colors I haven’t seen in years (last time I ordered I only had the choice of ash or royal blue).

  19. @Cat Eldridge

    That’d be the Southern Poverty Law Center, the oldest organisation I know of in the fight against hate speech and hate crimes.

    The Anti-Defamation League is much older.

    They track all the white terrorist groups active here, as well provide an impressive library of resources that are available at low or no cost to anyone who needs them.

    Good folk doing hard work and doing it rather well. The original Social Justice Warriors.

    I know who the SPLC is; the problem was I can’t find a list of hateful iconography on their website. I’m not big on rules that are so nebulous; Arisia should either list the banned symbols on their own, or at least link to whatever it is they don’t want. (but I don’t plan on going to the convention, so for me, it’s an abstract concern).

    (And I’m not as big of a fan of the SPLC as you are. They did some great work in the 1980 and 1990s, suing the Klan into bankruptcy, but they started chasing their own tail as a fundraising organization, spending a too-small fraction of their income on their stated aims. By 1999, they were raising $44m a year, and spending only $13m of it on civil rights programs. They’ve recently experienced management upheavals that included the resignation of Morris Dees and internal emails discussing harassment. Charitywatch gives them an “F” rating. They are cavalier with whom they include on their list of “hate groups”, and have had to publicly apologize and pay multi-million dollar judgments to those whom they have wrongfully accused.)

  20. @David Goldfarb,

    I went into Watchmen with low expectations & was surprised by how well Damon Lindelof did. It’s definitely not Alan Moore would have done (i.e. nothing), but it takes the story in a new & interesting direction. Highly recommended.

  21. @Vicki Rosenzweig

    I don’t speak for Arisia, but this is less about “someone commits an actual crime” than about using the police as security guards.

    If you are an organization that needs temporary, non-recurring security, hiring an off-duty cop has many advantages. (and I’ve been associated with organizations that have done so). Their cost is competitive; their government status provides a layer of insurance if liability claims come up (i.e., if someone working for you gets sued for shooting someone, you are better off if they are a cop than if they are a private security guard); Qualified Immunity means that many suits wouldn’t even be filed; they are often trained better than rent-a-cops; and miscreants restrain themselves in front of cops when they wouldn’t do so in front of private security.

    At this moment in time, the “optics” of association with police may not be great; however, usually hiring an off duty cop is the smart move.

  22. (8) Nicole Kidman also appears as Boadicea in Neil Gaiman’s How to Talk to Girls at Parties from 2017.

  23. @bill: Boskone has not found a need for hired police since credit cards became common; before that, the only call was one shift to escort the treasurer to the bank to make a deposit, and I’m not sure how critical that ever was. Hired guards, especially when the convention develops a relationship with an agency, are more than sufficient. The miscreants-behave-better-around-cops theory is both debatable (is a cop that much better than a guard?) and assumes more coverage than a convention can afford.

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