Pixel Scroll 9/10 The Camestrulan Neutral Zone

(1) Today’s birthday girl —

Born September 10, 1953 – Pat Cadigan

She had a good day – “My Birthday Wasn’t All About Cancer”

Even though it started with a blood test at the Macmillan Centre, my birthday was all about Chris, and sushi and sake. It was all about my weight-loss making more clothes fit better. It was all about walking all over central London without worrying about having to find a place to sit. Well, until after I drank most of a small(-ish) bottle of sake. My back became a bit less tractable for a while but it had shaped up pretty well after the bus ride home.

(2) Europa SF has a great feature on the Tblisi, Georgia sf club “Fantasti” by Irakli Lomouri.

The first issue of “Fantasti“, The Georgian Science Fiction Magazine , is dedicated to Ray Bradbury.

The first issue of “Fantasti“, The Georgian Science Fiction Magazine , is dedicated to Ray Bradbury.

Our SF and Fantasy Club “Fantasti” was officially registered in Tbilisi (Georgia) on March 18th, 2015, but its history began in August 2014, when I had a holiday – a free month – and lay down on the couch reading SF stories by means of my new tablet via internet. I love SF from my childhood, so I had to recall my favorite stories, and read many new ones – nearly 150.

I got so much pleasure, that I decided to offer it to others.

I wrote in a Facebook: Dear friends,  let’s create a SF and Fantasy Club and publish  a special dedicated magazine.

In Georgia SF is not popular, so I had no hope I could find real supporters of my idea, but fortunately I found them, so we met and started our club.

Since September 2014 we are having our biweekly meetings at my flat or in the House of Georgian Writers. In our club there are people of all ages, most of them write SF and fantasy themselves, so our club plays the role of literary studio, we read aloud our new stories and discuss them.

In our group on FB we have nearly 500 members (but not all are active)…

(3) Here’s something new to remember: the “t” in Voldemort is silent.

(4) National Geographic has a big article about the discovery of a new species of human ancestor in a South African cave.

A trove of bones hidden deep within a South African cave represents a new species of human ancestor, scientists announced Thursday in the journal eLife. Homo naledi, as they call it, appears very primitive in some respects—it had a tiny brain, for instance, and apelike shoulders for climbing. But in other ways it looks remarkably like modern humans. When did it live? Where does it fit in the human family tree? And how did its bones get into the deepest hidden chamber of the cave—could such a primitive creature have been disposing of its dead intentionally?…

The same schizoid pattern was popping up at the other tables. A fully modern hand sported wackily curved fingers, fit for a creature climbing trees. The shoulders were apish too, and the widely flaring blades of the pelvis were as primitive as Lucy’s—but the bottom of the same pelvis looked like a modern human’s. The leg bones started out shaped like an australopithecine’s but gathered modernity as they descended toward the ground. The feet were virtually indistinguishable from our own.

“You could almost draw a line through the hips—primitive above, modern below,” said Steve Churchill, a paleontologist from Duke University. “If you’d found the foot by itself, you’d think some Bushman had died.”

But then there was the head. Four partial skulls had been found—two were likely male, two female. In their general morphology they clearly looked advanced enough to be called Homo. But the braincases were tiny—a mere 560 cubic centimeters for the males and 465 for the females, far less than H. erectus’s average of 900 cubic centimeters, and well under half the size of our own. A large brain is the sine qua non of humanness, the hallmark of a species that has evolved to live by its wits. These were not human beings. These were pinheads, with some humanlike body parts.

(5) And at the other end of the timescale, NASA is busy today downloading and interpreting photos of Pluto taken by New Horizons.

New Horizons photo of chaos region on Pluto.

New Horizons photo of chaos region on Pluto.

New close-up images of Pluto from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft reveal a bewildering variety of surface features that have scientists reeling because of their range and complexity.

“Pluto is showing us a diversity of landforms and complexity of processes that rival anything we’ve seen in the solar system,” said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, Colorado. “If an artist had painted this Pluto before our flyby, I probably would have called it over the top — but that’s what is actually there.”

New Horizons began its yearlong download of new images and other data over the Labor Day weekend. Images downlinked in the past few days have more than doubled the amount of Pluto’s surface seen at resolutions as good as 400 meters (440 yards) per pixel. They reveal new features as diverse as possible dunes, nitrogen ice flows that apparently oozed out of mountainous regions onto plains, and even networks of valleys that may have been carved by material flowing over Pluto’s surface. They also show large regions that display chaotically jumbled mountains reminiscent of disrupted terrains on Jupiter’s icy moon Europa.     “The surface of Pluto is every bit as complex as that of Mars,” said Jeff Moore, leader of the New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging (GGI) team at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. “The randomly jumbled mountains might be huge blocks of hard water ice floating within a vast, denser, softer deposit of frozen nitrogen within the region informally named Sputnik Planum.”

In the center of this 300-mile (470-kilometer) wide image of Pluto from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is a large region of jumbled, broken terrain on the northwestern edge of the vast, icy plain informally called Sputnik Planum, to the right. The smallest visible features are 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) in size. This image was taken as New Horizons flew past Pluto on July 14, 2015, from a distance of 50,000 miles (80,000 kilometers).

(6) Huffington Post asked 13 top scientists to name their favorite books and movies.

Jane Goodall

Primatologist, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace

Three books of my childhood probably had the greatest impact on my life. The Story of Doctor Dolittle’ (by Hugh Lofting) and ‘Tarzan of the Apes’ (by Edgar Rice Burroughs) inspired me to understand what animals were trying to tell us and instilled within me an equally strong determination to travel to Africa, live with animals, and write books about them. ‘The Miracle of Life’ was a large book my grandmother got for free by saving up coupons from cereal packets. It was by no means a book intended for children.”

(7) Connie Willis is interviewed by Colorado Public Radio in “Hugos Battle: Both Sides Claim Sci-Fi Is Being Ruined By Politics”. Via Kevin Standlee.

(8) Chuck Wendig has some good news about his new novel.

I kinda didn’t think Star Wars: Aftermath was going to make list. In part because why would I assume that, and also in part because most books come out on Tuesday and this book came out on Friday and it was also a holiday weekend and, and, and.

Apparently, that was wrongo of me.

Because Aftermath debuted on both the New York Times list and the USA Today list at number four. Which is extra funny because it’s a pair of fours which is like Force and because my tweet wanting to be hired to write Star Wars in the first place was on September 4th and because the book then came out exactly one year later on September 4th and also because I actually apparently have the Force. *shoots lightning into the sky*

Of course, if instead of all 4’s it had been all 5’s we could have had a field day on File 770….

(9) And maybe Chuck can sign his next book contract with one of these Star Wars themed pens from Cross.

(10) Science fiction has an advocate in Malaysia.

KUSHAIRI ZURADI discovered late last year that not many publishers were keen to publish Malay science fiction books when he offered his collection of short stories to them.

The 25-year-old author and medical school graduate recalls: “Some ­publishers believe the ­readership for Malay science fiction is too small [for them] to make a decent profit and they do not want to take a chance on these novels.”

Realising this, in August last year, Kushairi ­decided to found his own publishing ­company, Simptomatik Press, to self-publish his first book, ­Biohazard, featuring 14 of his short stories. All 14 ­stories dealt with ­microorganisms.

“In my final year in medical school, I studied microorganisms and I was fascinated by their life-cycles,” says Kushairi, who is currently ­waiting to start his ­housemanship.

“You cannot see them but they are everywhere. We have been taught that 90% of [the cells in the human body are actually] organisms ranging from bacteria to parasites.”

[Thanks to David Doering and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

276 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/10 The Camestrulan Neutral Zone

  1. Jane Lindskold, Child of a Rainless Year, 2005. For the magic system ( did someone say Iiminality?) and vivid evocation of New Mexico, as well as the middle aged heroine…

  2. LunarG on September 11, 2015 at 1:56 pm said:
    Re: the fantasy brackets…
    I think Guy Gavriel Kay should be represented with one of his alt-history China books. I love Under Heaven just a hair more than River of Stars, but that is purely idiosyncratic.

    I also slightly prefer Under Heaven of that pair. An alternative for GGK would be The Last Light of the Sun. The Sarantine Mosaic books are probably my favorites among his books but just too old this round. I like the choice of Tooth and Claw for Jo Walton.

  3. For years friends have told me how great Pratchett was, and I tried to read him and just bounced off. Then I discovered the audiobooks and I was hooked. I still find him hard to read, but his books are great listening.

    That.. that surprises me. I have exactly the opposite reaction. I’ve loved reading Pratchett’s books for years and years, and recently got an Audiobook of Raising Steam to fill the hours at work. I… went and got the book afterwards to read it, because the narrator drove me up the wall. He’s beloved by some, but it didn’t match at all the narrative voice in my head.

  4. For the []s,

    “The Atrocity Archives” Charles Stross (2004) which is the first volume of the Laundry Files. After reading his shorts, “Lobsters”, “A Colder War” and “Antibodies”, I’d picked him as “a writer to watch” but it was “The Atrocity Archives” that sealed the deal. I’d include it, though I don’t think it has the legs to go all the way.

  5. Further to the discussion of the Apex Book of World SF 4, here are the stories in it which I believe to be eligible for an award, having had their first US publication this year:

    — Shimon Adaf, “Like a Coin Entrusted in Faith”, 2015
    — Celeste Rita Baker, “Single Entry”, prev. pub. Moko Magazine (Virgin Islands) 2013
    — Zen Cho, “The Four Generations of Chang E”, prev. pub. Mascara Literary Review (Australia) 2011
    — Dilman Dila, “How My Father Became a God”, 2015
    — Elana Gomel, “The Farm”, 2015
    — Saad Z. Hossain, “Djinns Live by the Sea”, 2015
    — Sabrina Huang (trans. Jeremy Tiang), “Setting Up Home”, prev. pub. Lontar #3 (Singapore) 2014
    — Marigi John,”The Corpse”, 2015
    — Kuzhali Manickavel, “Six Things We Found During the Autopsy”, prev. pub. Pratilini & Blaft Press (India) 2010, Apex 2015
    — Haralambi Markov, “The Language of Knives”, 2015
    — Samuel Marolla, “Black Tea”, prev. pub. Mezzotints Ebooks (Italy) 2013
    — Rocío Rincón Fernández (trans. James & Marian Womack), “The Lady of the Soler Colony”, 2015
    — Swabir Silayi, “Colour Me Grey”, 2015

  6. Re: Amazing Stories round-up

    Oh good, we only had two editors on our list, and they were mainly there because when I was date- and length-checking on isfdb I saw their names over and over again for first publication of a recommended story, and I figured that seeing them that many times ought to be a rec-by-proxy. If anyone particularly recommends any of the editors Amazing Stories has listed, I’ll add them (and repost the File770 Retro Hugo Recommendations, with additions, nearer the time).

  7. cmm: So Annie Bellet made the USA Today bestseller list this week (the 20-sided Sorceress series) and posted a 2 part tweet yesterday which reads:
    “oh person who emailed to tell me it is a coincidence I’m making a living/am USAT bestseller only 1.5 years after ditching certain “guru” …”Bless your heart, person. But you are wrong. So wrong I have no words for you. Sigh.”

    Now I’m really curious what that’s all about. Is BT the guru (she did come through the Writers of the Future series right?).

    I’m pretty sure it’s not BT. He’s nowhere in the same universe as “guru” status, not in a position to provide any advantages to her work (other than on a Puppy slate) and she only ditched his slate (and him, as a friend) 6 months ago.

    I’m sorry that 20-sided Sorceress just doesn’t really sound like something I’d enjoy; I enjoyed the 3 Bellet stories which were published in John Joseph Adams’ and Hugh Howeys’ Apocalypse Triptych.

  8. Kyra: I find it fascinating, incidentally, that I have encountered a huge number of people willing to firmly argue… that Hild is not fantasy.)

    I don’t see it as fantasy. I don’t think there was any mind-reading involved; Hild as portrayed was exceptionally skilled at perception of peoples’ thought processes, recognizing the implications of things, and reading voice and body-language.

    To me, that book would only have qualified as SFF if it were Alternate History. And since there are no extant records which differ from the world as Griffith presented it, I don’t think it can be called Alternate History.

    To me, it’s medieval feminist fiction. Which is just fine, but it certainly didn’t scratch my itch for SFF.

  9. There are now 127 suggested books on the bracket, you lovable nuts. As of the moment I’m closing it to further suggestions.

  10. @kyra: 127 recommendations? Add one more to make it an exact power of 2. Is it really such a bad thing if the bracket has 7 rounds?

  11. You need one more?

    How about Steph Swainston? Year Of Our War [2004] start of the Story Of The Fourlands series. The entire series is highly recommended (by me at least).

  12. andyl: The entire series is highly recommended

    You know what’s going to happen, don’t you? After Kyra does the Fantasy 2000-2015 Bracket, then she’ll do the Science Fiction 2000-2015 Bracket, and then we evil geniuses will force her to do the Fantasy Series Bracket and the Science Fiction Series Bracket.

    <starts compiling lists of favorite SFF series>

  13. “You are Lapsang into dark waters…”

    That pun shows not even a souchong of kindness.

    Well, some of us have a Pu-Erh sense of taste after all…

  14. No… Brad was not who I am talking about, though I met him through their workshops. I was talking about a couple of (former trad, now) indie publishing “gurus”…
    I didn’t come through Writer’s of the Future, either. I never got higher than semi-finalist in WotF before I pro’d out and it had pretty much zero impact on my career.

    Thanks though for the congrats. Hitting the list was amazing though I think my cover artists are all going to kill me for it since they have to go change things now, hehe. 🙂

  15. And it’s not just fans: the SFWA nominated it [Hild] for a NEBULA!!!!!!

    They also nominated the much more clearly not-SFnal We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. Several recent Hugo and Nebula nominations seem to reveal a ‘It can’t be mainstream! It’s good!’ attitude which I find a bit worrying.

  16. @Annie

    Well, congrats again. I have the rest of your Apocalypse Triptych stories lined up to read, and a 20 sided to try as well.

    Could we interest you in a book bracket? Just one scroll to the right…

  17. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little on September 12, 2015 at 12:47 pm said:
    Congrats, Annie!

    My only complaint is that I did a flurry of buying stuff for the Kindle, including all he Bellet I could find.
    I vaguely remembered getting 6 out of 6 12-Sided Sorceress ebooks.
    And then after a marathon happy gobbling of books, I discover, at the end of #5, that THERE WERE NO MOAR BOOKS!
    The horror of that moment, I shall never, never forget!

  18. And then after a marathon happy gobbling of books, I discover, at the end of #5, that THERE WERE NO MOAR BOOKS!
    The horror of that moment, I shall never, never forget!

    The positive, reverse-photo-negative version of that:

    For the longest time, I thought THE GOD STALKER CHRONICLES was a duology. Then, on rereading earlier this summer (thanks to all y’all vile wretches and the way those books have become, like, a File770 shibboleth), I got to the end of DARK OF THE MOON and wailed, “That’s a horrible place to end things!”

    Then I Googled the author. AND THERE ARE SO MANY MORE BOOKS IN THE SERIES. Squee!

    (It sounds like I really need to read the 20-Sided Sorceress books.)

  19. rrede: And it’s not just fans: the SFWA nominated [Hild] for a NEBULA!!!!!!

    Andrew M: They also nominated the much more clearly not-SFnal We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. Several recent Hugo and Nebula nominations seem to reveal a ‘It can’t be mainstream! It’s good!’ attitude which I find a bit worrying.

    I think it’s more that “Griffith and Fowler have written SFF, therefore these new books of theirs must be SFF, too”.

    I found Beside Ourselves interesting — but all through the book, I was waiting for the SFFnal aspects to appear. They never did — and when I finished, I really felt cheated. I felt that I had been duped into using some of my precious reading time on a novel I would not ordinarily have chosen to read.

    Similarly, with Hild, I kept waiting for the SFFnal aspects to appear. About halfway through, I realized that they weren’t going to — and again, I felt as though I had been duped into reading a historical novel I otherwise would not have chosen to read.

    I’d really like SFWA to stop putting non-SFF stuff on the Nebula shortlist. It’s a less-reliable source for SFF titles for my TBR list because they do this. If they keep doing it, my esteem for that awards program is going to drop even further.

  20. I think it’s more that “Griffith and Fowler have written SFF, therefore these new books of theirs must be SFF, too”.

    That certainly happens – just as it happens in reverse with established mainstream authors when they write stuff with SFnal content – but I think there are some cases that can’t be explained that way, like the Hugo nomination for Hugo, and, most striking of all, the British Fantasy Award for Sherlock. And when people actually defend these decisions, it’s often on the lines of ‘this is too good to ignore’.

  21. Andrew M: I think there are some cases that can’t be explained that way, like the Hugo nomination for Hugo

    I’ll defend that nomination. Hugo was a steampunk movie, with automatons and fantastical elements.

Comments are closed.