Pixel Scroll 7/17/20 Who Will Buy This Wonderful Pixel

(1) TALK AMONG YOURSELVES. N.K. Jemisin has some great news. This is as much of it as she can share.

(2) BEST OF THE FIRST HALF. Grimdark Magazine presents its list of “Best Sff Books Of 2020 So Far: Picked By The GDM Team”. Includes –

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho

(PICKED BY MIKE MYERS)

Zen Cho returns with a found family wuxia fantasy that combines the vibrancy of old school martial arts movies with characters drawn from the margins of history.

A bandit walks into a coffeehouse, and it all goes downhill from there. Guet Imm, a young votary of the Order of the Pure Moon, joins up with an eclectic group of thieves (whether they like it or not) in order to protect a sacred object, and finds herself in a far more complicated situation than she could have ever imagined.

(3) BEATTS UPDATE. Sponsors of Borderlands Books are among those who have signed “An Open Letter to the Borderlands Books Ownership, Staff, and Community” calling for Alan Beatts to give up ownership of the store.

We, the undersigned, have been sponsors and supporters of Borderlands Books. Alan Beatts asked for community support to keep his business operational; in exchange, we expect him to be accountable to that community.

In light of the accusations that Alan has committed acts of intimate partner violence and sexual assault, we are withdrawing our sponsorship and support for Borderlands Books. We believe the survivors. We want to support them and any others Alan has harmed, whether or not they publicly come forward.

We cannot support Borderlands while Alan might use his position as owner to do and conceal harm. We demand that he relinquish ownership of the store and divest financially from it….

(4) SFF WINS CHINESE AWARD. Congratulations to Regina Kanyu Wang, whose story “The Language Sheath” has been awarded the 2019 Annual Award by Shanghai Writers’ Association. The English version, published by Clarkesworld, is here.

(5) YOUNG PEOPLE. James Davis Nicoll’s Young People Read Old SFF panel encounters Kit Reed:

Dry witted and lethally incisive, Kit Reed (1932 – 2017), was prolific in a variety of genres: speculative fiction, literary fiction, and (as Kit Craig) psychological thrillers. Selecting a particular work out of all the short SFF Reed published over her long career must have been challenging. Nevertheless, editor Marcus assures us 

“To Lift a Ship” is my favorite story from this era, and I think you’ll like it, too.

Did my Young People, in fact, enjoy it?

(6) ONE OF THE BIGGER IDEAS. “The Big Idea: Madeline Ashby” at Whatever begins:

“It’s a rape revenge story? Is that what you said?”

It was October of 2016. It was a rainy morning in London just days from Halloween, and I was mind-shatteringly jetlagged, getting ready to give a talk at MozFest, the festival put on each year by the Mozilla Foundation. I was answering questions put to me by a fact-checker from the Wall Street Journal, after Margaret Atwood said they should talk to me about robots, science fiction, and the future. The interviewer had asked about my series of novels called The Machine Dynasty, which started with a little book called vN. This was how Margaret and I met — we did an appearance together with Corey Redekop at the Kingston WritersFest back home in Canada. She had gently steered the interview in the way only she can, and said, “Now, Madeline, having read your book, I must ask: how old were you when you first saw The Wizard of Oz?”

Oh, I thought. She gets it. Of course she does. She’s Margaret Fucking Atwood.

This was my life in 2016. In a week or two, the world would fall apart. So would I. In both cases, it happened slowly, but faster than you might think. In both cases, it started years earlier. Collapse is not a binary state; damage occurs on a spectrum of possible repair. You might not recognize it, at first. You may not yet have the words with which to describe it….

(7) OTHER SNOW WHITES. The Harvard Gazette interviews a scholar about “Snow White and the darkness within us”.

Maria Tatar collects versions of the tale from around the world and explains how they give us a way to think about what we prefer not to

Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” was released as the first feature-length animated film in 1937, and decades later, the musical fantasy based on a Grimm Brothers fairy tale about the complications and conflicts in the mother-daughter relationship is still a cultural touchstone. The story has virtually eclipsed every version of the many told the world over about beautiful girls and their older rivals, often a cruel biological mother or stepmother, but sometimes an aunt or a mother-in-law. In her new book, “The Fairest of Them All: Snow White and 21 Tales of Mothers and Daughters,” Maria Tatar, the John L. Loeb Research Professor of Folklore and Mythology and Germanic Languages and Literatures and a senior fellow in Harvard’s Society of Fellows, collected tales from a variety of nations, including Egypt, Japan, Switzerland, Armenia, and India. She spoke to the Gazette about her lifelong fascination with the saga and how we can look to fairy tales to navigate uncertain times.

GAZETTE: Why did you decide to take up the Snow White story?

TATAR: While working on my previous book with Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr., “The Annotated African American Folktales,” I came across a South African story called “The Unnatural Mother and the Girl with a Star on Her Forehead.” It was basically what we call the Snow White story, but in it the “beautiful girl” falls into a catatonic trance after putting on slippers given to her by her jealous mother. That’s when I fell down the rabbit hole of wonder tales and discovered stories from all over the world in which a stunningly attractive young woman arouses the jealousy of a woman who is usually her biological mother. The Brothers Grimm, whose 1812 story inspired Walt Disney to create the animated film, had many vernacular tales available to them, but they chose to publish the one in which the rival is the stepmother, in part because they did not want to violate the sanctity of motherhood. Now, decades later, it is still our cultural story about the many complications and conflicts in the mother-daughter relationship. It has eradicated almost every trace of the many tales told all over the world about beautiful girls and their rivals.

GAZETTE: Why does this particular story remain so resonant?

TATAR: All of the tales in this collection are cliffhangers. They begin with the counterfactual “What if?” then leave us asking “What’s next?” and finally challenge us to ask “Why?” These stories were originally told in communal settings, and they got people talking about all the conflicts, pressures, and injustices in real life. How do you create an ending that is not just happily ever after, but also “the fairest of them all”? What do you do when faced with worst-case possible scenarios? What do you need to survive cruelty, abandonment, and assault? In fairy tales, the answer often comes in the form of wits, intelligence, and resourcefulness on the one hand, and courage on the other. With their melodramatic mysteries, they arouse our curiosity and make us care about the characters. They tell us something about the value of seeking knowledge and feeling compassion under the worst of circumstances, and that’s a lesson that makes us pay attention today.

(8) REPLAY. Aidan Moher has an epic retro game review at Nerds of a Feather: “Beauty, Dragons, and Isometric Horror: Revisiting Breath of Fire IV”. Lots of analysis accompanied by eye-catching art from the game. At the end —

…Despite all that. I’m nine hours into this playthrough of Breath of Fire IV and it’s going to be the first time I complete it. Maybe it’s playing on a CRT monitor, which really allows those sprites to shine. Maybe it’s sheer grit and determination. Maybe it’s a growing understanding of how to appreciate games within their context, rather than expecting them to be something more modern. Nah. It’s the sprite art.

(9) HISTORY OF WATER? Maybe. The Planetary Society highlighted this NASA public domain image of “Curiosity’s View From The Top Of The Greenheugh Pediment”:

Stitched together from 28 images, this recent view from NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover was taken from the top of a steep slope, looking out over a sandstone cap and a more distant “clay-bearing unit,” a region which scientists think contains evidence of the history of water in the area.

(10) COLE OBIT. Joanna Cole, author of more than 250 books for children, including the Magic School Bus series, died July 12 at the age of 75. NPR paid tribute: “‘The Magic School Bus’ Series Author Joanna Cole Has Died”.

She originally created The Magic School Bus in 1986 with illustrator Bruce Degen. The core idea of a sweet and nerdy crew of schoolchildren taking field trips into scientific concepts, bodily parts, into space and back to the age of dinosaurs — and always led by their teacher, the intrepid Ms. Frizzle — eventually spun out into dozens of tie-ins and more than 93 million copies in print, plus a beloved television show that aired for 18 years in more than 100 countries.

In the U.S., the original Magic School Bus TV series was broadcast by PBS for 18 years; in 2017, an updated version launched in 2017 on Netflix, with the first of four specials on the way in August….

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • July 17, 1987 Robocop premiered. Directed by Paul Verhoeven and produced by Arne Schmidt, it was written by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner. It starred Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Daniel O’Herlihy, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith and Miguel Ferrer. It would lose out to The Princess Bride at Nolacon II for the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo. The movie was first given an X-rating by the Motion Picture Association of America due to its graphic violence, but Verhoeven toned it down and got an R. Most critics loved it and gave it high marks both as a SF film and as social commentary. Director Ken Russell said he thought it was the best SF film since Metropolis  It did very well at the Box Office and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an 84% rating. (CE)

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 17, 1889 Erle Stanley Gardner. Though best-remembered for the Perry Mason detective stories, he did write a handful of SF stories, all of which are collected in The Human Zero: The Science Fiction Stories of Erle Stanley Gardner. It is not available from the usual digital suspects but Amazon has copies of the original hardcover edition at reasonable prices. (Died 1970.) (CE)
  • Born July 17, 1907 – Humphry Ellis.  Double first in Classics at Magdalen (i.e. Oxford; not Magdalene, Cambridge), invited to teach at Marlborough, 1930; while there submitted to Punch, was accepted; hired there, 1933; deputy editor, 1949; resigned to protest new editor Malcolm Muggeridge, 1953; earned more selling to The New Yorker, 1954; a dozen collections.  For us “Trollope in Space”; “The Space-Crime Continuum” and one more in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.  (Died 2000) [JH]
  • Born July 17, 1912 – Barbara Strachey.  Journeys of Frodo, an atlas; drew the maps herself.  See The Independent’s wonderful obituary, with a doll of Lytton Strachey, wine, Bertrand Russell, gardening.  (Died 1999) [JH]
  • Born July 17, 1936 – John Spurling, 84.  Nairobi (not his fault this reminds me of Ernie Kovacs); Marlborough too late for H. Ellis; St John’s, Oxford; Royal Artillery; British Broadcasting Corp.; free lance.  Arcadian Nights re-imagining Greek myths; King Arthur in Avalon, play for a ladies’ college – is the Matter of Arthur fantasy?  Walter Scott Prize for The Ten Thousand Things, historical fiction about Wang Mêng (1308-1385); three more novels, nine more plays.  Franz Liszt Society.  [JH]
  • Born July 17, 1943 – Grania Davis.  Two novels (and three more outside our field) plus two with Avram Davidson; a dozen and half shorter stories plus four with him; translated into Dutch, French, German, Italian; her collection Tree of Life, Book of Death; AD collections The Boss in the WallThe AD Treasury with Robert Silverberg, Everybody Has Somebody in Heaven with Jack Dann, The Investigations of AD with Dick Lupoff, ¡Limekiller! and The Other 19th Century with Henry Wessells; anthology Speculative Japan with Gene van Troyer; essays, letters, on China, Cuba, Czechoslovakia (as it then was), Japan, M.Z. Bradley, C.N. Brown, AD, P.K. Dick, G.C. Edmondson, Judith Merril, Takumi Shibano, in LocusNY Review of SFet al.  (Died 2017) [JH]
  • Born July 17, 1944 Thomas A. Easton, 76. SF critic and author who wrote the book review column for Analog from 1979 – 2009. His Organic Future series is quite entertaining and I’m reasonably certain I read Sparrowhawk when it was serialized in Analog. He appears frequently at Boston-area Cons. (CE)
  • Born July 17, 1954 J. Michael Straczynski, 66. Best-known rather obviously for creating and writing most of  Babylon 5 and its all too short-lived sequel Crusade. He’s also responsible for the Jeremiah and Sense8 series. On the comics side, he’s written The Amazing Spider-ManThor and Fantastic Four. Over at DC, he did the Superman: Earth One trilogy of graphic novels, and has also written SupermanWonder Woman, and Before Watchmen titles. (CE)
  • Born July 17, 1956 Timothy D. Rose, 64. Puppeteer and actor. He was the Head Operator of Howard the Duck in that film, but was in The Dark Crystal, Return to EwokReturn of The JediReturn to OzThe Muppet Christmas CarolThe Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. He voiced Admiral Ackbar in the latter two and in The Return of The Jedi as well. (CE)
  • Born July 17, 1971 – Cory Doctorow, 49.  Ten novels, five dozen shorter stories.  Columnist for Locus, SF Age; anthologist; interviewed in SF Research Ass’n ReviewShimmerSteampunkStarShipSofaStrange Horizons.  Finding ourselves chatting about something or other at an SF convention we noticed that others stared; now, really, folks.  [JH]
  • Born July 17, 1976 Brian K. Vaughan, 44. Wow. Author of Ex Machina,  Pride of BaghdadRunawaysSagaY: The Last Man, and his newest affair, Paper Girls. And yes, he’s won Hugo Awards. You could spend an entire Summer just reading those series. In his spare time, he was a writer, story editor and producer of the television series Lost during seasons three through five. And was the showrunner and executive producer of the Under the Dome series. (CE)
  • Born July 17, 1988 —  Summer Bishil, 32. Best-known as Margo Hanson on The Magicians,  but she’s also been Azula in The Last Airbender, and Aneesa in Return to Halloweentown. (CE)
  • Born July 17, 1989 – H.A. Titus, 31.  Two novels (Burnt Silver just released in February), ten shorter stories.  Paper Tigers proofreading service.  Loves legends, Tolkien, Dungeons & Dragons,skiing, rock-climbing, her husband, their sons.  [JH]

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld captures the spirit of the moment.

(14) TIME FOR A REFILL. Alasdair Stuart’s “The Full Lid for 17th July 2020” takes a look at The Old Guard from the other side, exploring the important choices the movie adaptation makes and what that means for Western action/genre cinema. And after that, says Stuart —

I also take a look at Noelle Stevenson’s vastly impressive The Fire Never Goes Out, a graphic novel autobiography with clear eyes, a wicked sense of humor and incredible emotional honesty. Finally, there’s a look at Concrete Genie, a deeply lovely, and deceptively subtle PS4 game which maps personal and artistic growth onto the renovation of a small town, occasional parkour and adorable grobble monsters. Plus lots of apples.

The Full Lid is published weekly and is free. You can sign up at the top of the most recent issue and view an archive of the last six months. 

(15) TRAILER TIME. Here is the Superman Smashes the Klan Official Trailer for Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel from DC.

The year is 1946, and the Lee family has moved from Metropolis’ Chinatown to the center of the bustling city. While Dr. Lee is greeted warmly in his new position at the Metropolis Health Department, his two kids, Roberta and Tommy, are more excited about being closer to their famous hero, Superman! Inspired by the 1940s Superman radio serial “Clan of the Fiery Cross,” Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese, Boxers and Saints, The Terrifics, New Super-Man) brings us his personal retelling of the adventures of the Lee family as they team up with Superman to smash the Klan!

(16) LEARNING FROM THE CLARKE AWARD NUMBERS. “The Good News and the Bad: the Clarke Award submissions list under the lens”. Tagline: “Author and Clarke Award 2020 judge Stewart Hotston on representation and the state of contemporary SF publishing in the UK.”

…Now the bad news.

To be honest, I thought of writing something witty in place of that last sentence. Maybe ‘now the less good news’ but it’s not less good. It’s appalling and I want to be clear with my language here rather than covering over the situation with typical British understatement.

Let’s take a look at the numbers.

121 submissions.

45 imprints

116 authors

14 authors of non-white descent (the specific definition of which we’ll discuss below)

3 British authors of non-white descent

Let me say that again.

3 British authors of non-white descent

Out of 116 authors.

In my view there were actually more books with problematic depictions of race than there are books by authors from those very communities (By my own count there were 9 books submitted from 7 imprints which featured unacceptable racial stereotypes or tropes).

(17) HOLD THE PHONE. “NASA Pushes Back Launch Date On Webb Space Telescope, Citing COVID-19”. NPR’s story includes video of packing the telescope for launch.

The launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, the long-awaited — and long-delayed — successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, has been pushed back yet another seven months, NASA said Thursday citing, in part, delays from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The nearly $10 billion project, which scientists hope will see back to the time when the first galaxies were formed following the Big Bang, had been scheduled to launch next March from French Guiana atop an Ariane 5 rocket, but the space agency said it is now aiming for an Oct. 31, 2021, launch date.

“Webb is the world’s most complex space observatory, and our top science priority, and we’ve worked hard to keep progress moving during the pandemic,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., said in a statement. “The team continues to be focused on reaching milestones and arriving at the technical solutions that will see us through to this new launch date next year.”

(18) LIGHTS OUT. “Scientists shed light on how the blackest fish in the sea ‘disappear'”

An ocean mystery – how the blackest fish in the deep sea are so extremely black – has been solved in a study that began with a very bad photograph.

“I couldn’t get a good shot – just fish silhouettes,” said Dr Karen Osborn from the Smithsonian Institution.

Her detailed study of the animal’s “ultra-black” skin revealed that it traps light.

While it makes the animals difficult to photograph, marine scientists say it provides the ultimate camouflage.

There is, Dr Osborn explained, nowhere to hide from predators in the deep ocean, so this “ultra-blackness” renders creatures almost invisible.

(19) LITTLE TEENY EYES. “Beetle-mounted camera streams insect adventures” — the BBC’s straight-prose version. You can come up with your own filk accompaniment.

Researchers have developed a tiny wireless camera that is light enough to be carried by live beetles.

The team at the University of Washington in the US drew inspiration from the insects to create its low-powered camera system.

Its beetle-cam can stream up to five frames per second of low-resolution, black and white footage to a nearby smartphone.

The research was published in the Science Robotics journal.

The entire camera rig weighs just 250 milligrams, which is about a tenth of the weight of a playing card.

While the sensor itself is low resolution, capturing just 160 by 120 pixel images, it is mounted on a mechanical arm that can shift from side to side.

That allows the camera to look side to side and scan the environment, just like a beetle, and capture a higher-resolution panoramic image.

(20) CHANGING TIMES. BBC explains “Why Monty Python’s Life of Brian, once rated X, is now a 12A”.

In 1979, Monty Python’s Life of Brian was considered so controversial it was given an X certificate and banned from some British cinemas.

Last year, however, its rating was downgraded to a 12A by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).

In its annual report, published this week, the BBFC said it now considered the film “permissible at a more junior category” under its current guidelines.

The film returned to cinemas in 2019 to mark its 40th anniversary.

It was rereleased in April last year with a 12A rating for “infrequent strong language, moderate sex references, nudity [and] comic violence”.

…When it was first released, the BBFC – then named the British Board of Film Censors – rated the film AA, which meant those under 14 were not allowed to see it.

Contemporary concerns that the film was blasphemous in nature led to more than 100 local authorities opting to view the film for themselves.

This led to 28 of them raising the classification to an X certificate, meaning no one under 18 could see it, and 11 banning the film altogether.

…It is not uncommon for the BBFC to revisit films that are being reissued theatrically and reappraise their original classification.

Earlier this year Star Wars sequel The Empire Strikes Back, released in 1980 with a U certificate, was reclassified as a PG for its “moderate violence [and] mild threat”.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “’The New World’ from RoGoPaG” on YouTube is Jean-Luc Godard’s contribution to a 1963 anthology film called RoGoPaG where he shows the subtle psychological consequences after an atomic bomb is exploded over Paris. Part I is below. Part II is here.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/15/20 Who Would Open This Can Of Words?

(1) ONE WEEK LEFT TO VOTE FOR HUGOS. CoNZealand today reminded members the deadline is nearing – voting closes Wednesday, July 22 at 23:59 PDT (UTC-7), which in New Zeland is Thursday, July 23 at 18:59 NZST (UTC+12).

(2) PEAKE ARCHIVE PRESERVED. The British Library has acquired the Visual Archive of writer, artist and illustrator Mervyn Peake, best known for his series Gormenghast.

.. Mervyn Peake’s Visual Archive comprises over 300 original illustrations, including drawings from his critically acclaimed Gormenghast series, together with original illustrations for his own books for children Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor and Letters From a Lost Uncle and other classic works of English literature, such as Treasure IslandThe Hunting of the Snark, Household Tales by the Brothers Grimm,and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Also included are unpublished early works, preliminary sketches, and drawings of famous literary, theatrical and artistic figures such as Laurence Olivier and W.H. Auden. This acquisition brings Peake’s archive together in one place, making it fully accessible to the public for the first time.

Mervyn Peake was an English writer, artist and illustrator, best known for creating the fantasy trilogy Gormenghast. A Royal Academy trained artist of great versatility and inventiveness, he has been seen as arguably the finest children’s illustrator of the mid-20th century. Combining technical mastery with an innate ability to evoke fear, delight and wonderment in young readers, he redefined the cosy nature of children’s book illustrations.

Despite his originality, Peake’s fondness and respect for the work of other artists is evident in the archive, from the influence of Hogarth, Doré and Blake to Dickens’ illustrator Phiz and Boys’ Own artist Stanley L. Wood.

The archive is notable for Peake’s exquisite Treasure Island illustrations from 1949, which remain some of his finest work, described by critics as ‘tense, eerie and dramatic’ and ‘one of the few editions which have come near to meeting the demands of the author’s text’. Treasure Island was Peake’s favourite book and his love for the story is evident in the archive from the watercolour illustrations he painted aged 15, to the large number of preliminary sketches and annotated proofs which show his commitment to perfecting the 1949 edition.

(3) STORYBUNDLE. Available for the next three weeks: “The Glitter and Hope Bundle – Curated by Cat Rambo”.

I think I speak for all of us when I say that 2020 has not gone exactly how I expected it to, and this StoryBundle has been no exception. I originally conceived of it as a hopepunk centered bundle, but as I sorted through possibilities, I found less punk than plenty of hopeful stories that reminded me that hope comes in all sorts of forms, not all of them as in your face as hopepunk.

Hope can find its origin in friendship, whether on an alien planet or a New York street corner. It can come from writing, in a myriad shades as multi-colored as the ink in which it’s inscribed. It glitters at the bottom of Pandora’s box, waiting to escape. Waiting to provide comfort and lightand renewed vigor for the fight….

… For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of four books in any ebook format—WORLDWIDE.

  • Diamondsong – Escape 01 by E.D.E. Bell
  • The Burglar of Sliceharbor by Jason A. Holt
  • Modern Surprises by Joan Marie Verba
  • The Traveling Triple-C Incorporeal Circus by Alanna McFall

If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all four of the regular books, plus seven more more books, for a total of eleven.

  • Diamondsong – Capture 02 by E.D.E. Bell
  • Tales of the Captain Duke – Vol. 1-4 by Rebecca Diem
  • The Voyage of the White Cloud by M. Darusha Wehm
  • Community of Magic Pens by Atthis Arts Anthology
  • Carpe Glitter by Cat Rambo
  • Missing Signal by Seb Doubinsky
  • The Legacy Human – Singularity 1 by Susan Kaye Quinn

(4) SCIENCE FICTION IS NEVER ABOUT THE FUTURE. (William Gibson and Margaret Atwood have both said so; the name of the person who actually said it first escapes me at the moment.) Abigail Nussbaum’s “The Political Hugo” discusses “the nominees on this year’s Hugo ballot that feel most relevant to our crazy, confusing political moment, and why I’d like them to win.” She advocates that the Hugo should be appropriated as an award for topical fiction.

….We’re coming off a decade in which the Hugo struggled with its own definition, and with a troupe of interlopers who claimed to want to save it from those who would “politicize” it. It’s a decade in which the award’s diversity has advanced considerably, with more women, POC, and LGBT people being recognized than ever before. And yet at the same time, the Hugo can be inward-looking (some might say that this is inevitable, given its nature and voting system). Its politics are often internal politics–as much as it reflected trends in the broader political discourse, the Puppy debacle was the ultimate in inside baseball. I would like this year’s winners to be more outward-looking, to reflect the upheaval in the world and the simple fact that we are all participating in that upheaval, whether we want to or not. What I want to write about in this post are the works on this year’s Hugo ballot that, besides being excellent examples of their type, speak to some of the issues we’ve been seeing in the real world. 

(5) A VELDT OF THEIR OWN. “Why Exposing Kids To Horror Might Actually Be Good For Them” – that’s what Stephen Graham Jones contends in a post for CrimeReads.

…But, I know: horror? Don’t kids need “safe” programming, not nightmare fuel? My take is . . . no. Childhood already has a lot of the hallmarks of a horror movie, I think. Kids are small in a big place, they have no real power, they don’t know how even the simplest parts of the world work. Doors stretch dauntingly high, shadows can hold anything. Parents say one thing, mean another, and then take it all back anyway, change the rules for no reason other than that they “say so.” And everyone is always telling kids that the minute they’re alone, without tether to a trustworthy adult, that’s when the predators of the world will pounce, spirit them away to a place they never come back from.

Pretty terrifying, right?

My take is that when kids engage horror stories, they kind of . . . recognize that feeling, that terror, that uncertainty, that unfairness, and they maybe even understand that they’re not alone in feeling it. They’re not “weird,” they’re just human. Fear is our default setting. It’s what happens when you evolve on a savanna where everything wants to eat you.

(6) BEATTS AND BORDERLANDS BOOKS UPDATE. “Authors, Customers Demand Borderlands Books Owner Divest from Store”Publishers Weekly does a roundup.

…  Some sponsors have publicly denounced Beatts on Twitter, including several who have reached out privately to PW to confirm that they will not renew their sponsorships.

One of the authors expressing such sentiments was children’s book author Maggie Tokuda-Hall, who has cohosted several “lovely” literary events there, including a May fundraiser with Rebecca Roanhorse and N.K. Jemisin that netted $6,000 for the store. In an email to PW, Tokuda-Hall wrote that it is her “dearest hope that Alan will divest from the store, and allow the staff and community to reclaim the space. The staff does not deserve to be associated with these allegations.”…

…Mary Robinette Kowal, who is the president of the Science Fiction Writers of America, told PW last week that a Tor representative called her and asked if she wished to cancel a scheduled July 23 virtual event for her new release, Relentless Moon.

“If your publisher comes to you and asks if you still want to do an event…maybe not,” Kowal said, adding that she was not “100% convinced” that she had made the right decision. “I don’t like the ripple effects,” she explained: canceling the event also “punishes” the store’s general manager, Jude Feldman, and its four other employees. “The decision an author has to make is a lot messier than the decision an individual customer has to make,” Kowal added. “It’s the thing we’re doing because it’s the only tool we have.”

Kowal disclosed that she sent an email to Beatts before Tor canceled the event, writing that “I needed him to step back from the store and to address his drinking.” Most of the other sources PW spoke to also referred to Beatts’ drinking habits; a former employee described the store to PW as having a “heavy drinking culture.”

In her capacity as SFWA president, Kowal said that it would be “inappropriate” for the organization to address these specific allegations, but that it has been discussing “the larger problem” of how to report unethical or abusive behavior within the science fiction and fantasy community. SFWA has recently implemented a diversity, equity, and inclusion committee, which will, among other tasks, explore ways to deal with such situations in ways that are “sustainable and safe.”

… Beatts dismissed the suggestion that he divest himself from the store by transferring ownership to [Jude] Feldman. “I cannot see any way in which Borderlands can possibly operate without me,” he wrote. “I’ve discussed this with Jude and she agrees. That is not an option.” Feldman, in addition to being the store’s general manager for 19 years, has been Beatts’s significant other for about 20 years….

(7) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • July 1997 — Christopher Golden’s The Lost Army was released by Dark Horse Comics. The first of seven Hellboy novels that Golden would write for Dark Horse over the next decade, it bore a cover done by Mike Mignola who also provided interior illustrations. It would have French and Spanish editions as well. It was the very first of the twelve original Hellboy novels done by Dark Horse over a twenty year period. If you’re interested all of them are available from the usual digital suspects. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 15, 1606 – Rembrandt van Rijn.  Draftsman, painter, printer.  Among the greatest visual artists.  Master of light, texture, portraiture.  We can claim his mythological pictures; perhaps also his Biblicals, at least when like The Evangelist Matthew and the Angel showing, besides what believers would deem historical, some element that could only be imagined.  Here is The Sacrifice of Isaac.  Here is Pallas Athena.  Here is The Abduction of Persephone.  See what he could do with a few lines.  (Died 1669) [JH]
  • Born July 15, 1779 – Clement Moore.  He was a Professor of Biblical Learning.  “A Visit from St. Nicholas” was published anonymously; for twenty years he did not acknowledge it; some scholarship indicates he was not the author; and it must be said he owned slaves and opposed Abolition.  But consider the poem as an achievement of fantasy – particularly since St. Nicholas was a 4th Century bishop in what is now Turkey.  (Died 1863) [JH]
  • Born July 15, 1917 – Robert Conquest, Ph.D.  For us, a novel, a few shorter stories, a few poems; five Spectrum anthologies with Kingsley Amis.  Many other writings.  Politically a conservative, and a brilliant one, which is a pain or a joy depending on your point of view (note that I put pain on the left and joy on the right).  He might not like being remembered most for this, but we do: “SF’s no good, they bellow till we’re deaf.  But this looks good.  Well then, it’s not SF.”  (Died 2015) [JH]
  • Born July 15, 1918 Dennis Feltham Jones. His first novel Colossus was made into Colossus: The Forbin Project. He went on to write two more novels in the series, The Fall of Colossus and Colossus and the Crab, which in my opinion became increasingly weird. iBooks and Kindle have the Colossus trilogy plus a smattering of his other works available. ((Died 1981.) CE)
  • Born July 15, 1931 Clive Cussler. Pulp author. If I had to pick his best novels, I’d say that would be Night Probe and Raise the Titanic, possibly also Vixen 03. His real-life National Underwater and Marine Agency, a private maritime archaeological group found several important wrecks including the Manassas, the first ironclad of the civil war. (Died 2020.) (CE)
  • Born July 15, 1944 Jan-Michael Vincent. First Lieutenant Jake Tanner in the film version of Roger Zelazny’s Damnation Alley which somehow I’ve avoided seeing so far. Is it worth seeing? Commander in Alienator and Dr. Ron Shepherd in, and yes this is the name, Xtro II: The Second Encounter. Not to mention Zepp in Jurassic Women. (Don’t ask.) As Airwolf counts as genre, he was helicopter pilot and aviator Stringfellow Hawke in it. (Died 2019.) (CE)
  • Born July 15, 1957 Forest Whitaker, 63. His best-known genre roles are Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as Saw Gerrera and in The Black Panther as Zuri. He’s had other genre appearances including Major Collins in Body Snatchers, Nate Pope in Phenomenon, Ker in Battlefield Earth for which he was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor, Ira in Where the Wild Things Are, Jake Freivald In Repo Men (anyone see this?) and he was, and Host of Twilight Zone. (CE)
  • Born July 15, 1958 – Pat Molloy, 62.  Chaired ConCave 1980-1982, Con*Stellation IV & VII, DeepSouthCon 25 (some use Roman numerals, some don’t); Fan Guest of Honor at DSC 27, 52.  After twenty years of the Rebel Award, co-founded and named the Rubble Award; punished by being given the Rebel Award.  DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) delegate (with Naomi Fisher), attended the 2001 Australian nat’l convention.  [JH]
  • Born July 15, 1963 Brigitte Nielsen, 57. Red Sonja! What a way to launch your film career. Mind you her next genre were 976-Evil II and Galaxis… She starred as the Black Witch in the Nineties Italian film series Fantaghiro, and played the Amazon Queen in the Danish Ronal the Barbarian. (CE)
  • Born July 15, 1964 – Elspeth Kovar, 56.  Wrote the Joe Mayhew memorial for the Chicon 6 Souvenir Book (58th Worldcon); see her con report in File 770 137, p. 28 (PDF).  Chaired Capclave 2006.  Active in WSFA (Washington, D.C., SF Ass’n).  Not true that one of her cats was in an iron lung and on dialysis. [JH]
  • Born July 15, 1967 Christopher Golden, 53. Where to start? The Veil trilogy was most excellent as was The Hidden Cities series co-authored with Tim Lebbon. The Menagerie series co-authored with Thomas E. Sniegoski annoyed me because it never got concluded. Straight On ‘Til Morning is one damn scary novel. (CE)
  • Born July 15, 1983 – Tristan Tarwater, 37.  Author of fantasy, comics, and RPG (role-playing games) bits.  Six novels, recently The Marauders’ Island, laced with coconut wine, salt, and magic; a few shorter stories.  Among her books read are the Vinland Saga (i.e. Makoto Yumimura’s), The Fifth SeasonBlake’s Complete Illuminated Books, and The Glass Bead Game.  Website here.  [JH]

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) BILL’S BIOPIC. Will this film be called The Shat Story? “William Shatner Wants Chris Pine To Play Him In Future Biopic” says We Got This Covered.

Shatner recently appeared as a guest via virtual chatroom at this year’s Galaxy Con, and given the prolific career he’s enjoyed in his 89 years, the idea of bringing his story to the big screen was sure to be on the minds of the collective Star Trek fandom.

“I want to play myself. I don’t want to die!,” Shatner said when asked who he’d like to have star in such a feature. “I don’t know. Chris Pine? Why doesn’t he play me? A good looking, talented guy,”

(11) SEEMS LEGIT. Another LEGO collectible.

(12) IT’S DEAD, JIM. LitHub revisits 1965 and “What Our First Close Look at Mars Actually Revealed” – tagline: “The Disappointment of a Blighted Planet.”

…Scarcely anyone had been prepared for what frame seven revealed, much less what they saw in the next dozen images. “My God, it’s the moon,” thought Norm Haynes, one of the systems engineers. There were craters in the image, all perfectly preserved, which meant the planet was in bleak stasis. The crust hadn’t been swallowed by the churn of plate tectonics, but, more important, the surface hadn’t been worn down by the ebb and flow of water. Preserved craters meant there had been no resurfacing, no aqueous weathering of any kind resembling that of the Earth. As with the moon, it appeared there had never been any significant quantity of liquid water on the surface—no rainfall, no oceans, no streams, no ponds.

Stunned, the Mariner 4 team didn’t publicly release the images for days as they tried to understand the implications of what they were seeing.

(13) GREEN CHEESE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.]  I think the cheesy commercial for this is news

Second only to seeing @TheGreenKnight in theaters: playing The Green Knight RPG at home.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/10/20 Definitely Worried I Had Lost The Plot

(1) GET YOUR VIRTUAL SDCC HYPE HERE. The event starts July 23 but today San Diego Comic-Con started its day-by-day unveiling of the five-day schedule: “The Comic-Con@Home 2020 Programming Schedule”. (The Wednesday, July 23 schedule released today is summarized by Variety here.)

We’re two weeks away from the debut of Comic-Con@Home 2020! And even though this is a very different year, we’re happy to announce we’ll be sticking with the Comic-Con tradition of announcing our panel schedule two weeks in advance. Over the next five days, we’ll reveal our daily online programming line-up for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, July 22–26, with complete programming descriptions. The panels themselves will not be available until those dates, but you’ll be able to read all about them and build your own schedule of programs you want to watch during Comic-Con@Home 2020!

Comic-Con@Home 2020 will feature over 350 separate panels spread out over all five days of the event. There will be something for everyone! Here’s how it works:

…All the panels will also be available on the Comic-Con YouTube channel, so you can also access them there. Subscribe to us on YouTube.com at https://www.youtube.com/user/ComicCon

An SDCC executive gave an interview to The Wrap about how it all came together.

“Everybody is committed to trying to make something the fans can enjoy and can interact with and have that community feeling, even though it will be not in person,” Comic-Con International Chief Communications and Strategy Officer David Glanzer told TheWrap. That commitment extended to the con’s studio and network partners, as the likes of AMC, Amazon, FX, Disney, Syfy, Hulu and at least one film studio, Orion Pictures (which is bringing “Bill & Ted Face the Music”), have all jumped on board to bring their panels into viewers’ living rooms.

(2) WORLDBUILDERS FUNDRAISER. The annual Geeks Doing Good Showcase hosted by Worldbuilders, the nonprofit organization founded by Patrick Rothfuss of the Kingkiller Chronicle series, starts on July 13 and goes through July 20, 2020.

This week Worldbuilders will feature multiple live-streamed interviews, discussions, from authors, artists, and more. All of which will take place on the Worldbuilders Twitch Channel.

The first day’s schedule is –

Schedule for Monday, July 13, 2020

Patrick Rothfuss Livestreams Twitch

When: 12pm – 2pm CDT

Patrick will be streaming on his Twitch channel at 12pm. Come hang out with Patrick and chat away!

Meet the new Worldbuilders!

When: 2pm – 3pm CDT

Come join us as we get to know the new members of the Worldbuilders team!  

(3) IMAGINING WITHOUT VISUALS. “‘I have no mind’s eye’: what is it like being an author with aphantasia?” – Mark Lawrence explains his experience to The Guardian.

‘Picture this,” someone says. “A juicy green apple. Can you see it?”

Of course I can’t see it. My head is filled with all things apple; the central concept connects with myriad associated topics: orchards, trees, red apples, rotting apples, cider, blossom, an endless web that spreads along more and more tenuous connections. But of course I can’t see it. I usually say yes, though, because I assume it’s a figure of speech.

But 98% of people actually do see the thing they’re imagining, like a picture in their head. The other 2%, like me, are aphantasic. There’s a line I like in John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars: “I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once. I found out I was aphantasic slowly, then all at once. Decades ago, my wife began visualisation for meditation. I couldn’t do it. Not only could I not see an imaginary orange, I couldn’t see a circle or the colour orange. But I understood visualisation to be a special skill that you worked on. Rather like juggling. And I was sure that with practice I could accomplish either one of those….

(4) THE BIG W. Camestros Felapton wraps up his advocacy series with “Hugo Fan Writer: Why you should vote for…Adam Whitehead”.

… If any genre deserves and encourages the spawning of Big Enormous Labour of Love Projects it is epic fantasy and Adam has taken that genre’s appendix-aesthetic into his own History of Epic Fantasy (https://thewertzone.blogspot.com/search/label/history%20of%20epic%20fantasy) and then went onto a major cartographic project mapping out the continents of George RR Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice (https://atlasoficeandfireblog.wordpress.com/). You don’t need to be a fan of either epic fantasy in general or Game of Thrones in particular to appreciate the time and effort put into either of those projects over several years….

(5) IT STINKS. Lili Loofbourow delivered a kind of “state of the internet” message. Thread starts here.

(6) #SFFPLEDGE. The #SFFpledge is circulating – today The Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists boosted the signal.

One of the figures named in the pledge, Noah Bradley, wrote this in June:

The other person named, Samuel Flegal, artist and co-founder of the art camp One Fantastic Week, issued an apology on Facebook for unspecified acts against women he had contact with.  The Facebook post is no longer publicly available, but an analysis of his statement has been posted by M M Schill on her Patreon, here, and it contains a screencap of the post.

In public posts on the topic, this one links to the tweeted statement of Eunjoo Han who does not name the harasser being discussed, but he is alleged to be Flegal.

(7) BORDERLANDS FALLOUT CONTINUES. Quite a few writers have responded about the sexual assault charges leveled at Borderland Books owner Alan Beatts, including John Scalzi and Catherynne M. Valente.

… It’s the store I’ve held all my San Francisco events at, basically for as long as I’ve been doing events at all. I’ve supported Borderlands annually as a patron, and I lent the store money to purchase a new building, which it’s currently in the process of moving to.

It actually and genuinely hurt to read these accusations, which I believe. I wrote yesterday on Twitter that I was in shock about it, and I still am. This one stirs up emotions for me in a way I’m not prepared to publicly quantify or express. Suffice to say it hits close to home on a number of levels.

  • Catherynne M. Valente tweeted —

(8) SLC SHIFTS TO 2021. Now it’s official – no FanX convention in Salt Lake City this year: “FanX 2020 Postponement”.

…After discussions with community leaders, health officials, and the surge of COVID-19 cases in Utah the past few weeks, we feel it’s in the best interest of our community to postpone.

During such a difficult and unprecedented time for everyone, we appreciate your support and the outpouring of love which has been shown to us. It’s because of this love and continued support from the FanX community that we’ve been able to bring you 12 events over the past seven years and make Salt Lake City, Utah a premier pop culture event. It’s also the reason we’ve already begun planning FanX 2021 and can take this opportunity to invite you to join us in celebrating together again on September 16-18, 2021!

(9) CURSES, FIELD AGAIN. A theory about a possible chain of influence linked to Lord of the Rings. J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1932 article on “The name ‘Nodens’” published as an appendix to Report on the Excavation of the Prehistoric, Roman, and Post-Roman Site in Lydney Park, Gloucestershire, is a discussion of three inscriptions found at the excavations which he concluded is the name of an unrecorded deity. Did one of those inscriptions reference another ancient find, a gold ring? Thread starts here.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • July 10, 1981 Time Bandits has its U.K. premiere. It was co-written (with Michael Palin), produced, and directed by Terry Gilliam.  It starred Sean Connery, John Cleese, Shelley Duvall, Ralph Richardson, Kenny Baker, Jack Purvis, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm, Michael Palin, Peter Vaughan, and David Warner. Gilliam has said that the film was the first in his Trilogy of Imagination, followed by Brazil and ending with The Adventures of Baron MunchausenCriticsloved the film, the box office was excellent, and the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 77% rating. 
  • July 10, 1981 John Carpenter’s Escape from New York premiered. (That was how it was shown on-screen.)  Starring Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken, this film was written by John Carpenter and Nick Castle. It was directed by John  Carpenter, and produced by  Larry Franco and Debra Hill. Supporting cast was  Lee Van Cleef, Donald Pleasence, Ernest Borgnine, Isaac Hayes, Adrienne Barbeau, and Harry Dean Stanton. The film received generally positive reviews with Russell in particular finding favor with the critics; it did very well at the box office earning far more than it cost to produce; and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a 76% rating. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 10, 1875 – E.C. Bentley.  Invented the clerihew.

Edmund Clerihew Bentley
Wrote “Exactly As It Happened”.  He
Did not quite manage science fiction.
But he had very good diction.

(Died 1956) [JH]

  • Born July 10, 1903 John Wyndham. His best known works include The Day of the Triffids and The Midwich Cuckoos, both written in the Fifties. The latter novel was filmed twice as Village of the Damned. Both iBooks and Kindle have an impressive selection of his novels including these titles,  though little of his short fiction is available alas. (Died 1969.) (CE)
  • Born July 10, 1908 – Carl Jacobi.  Ten dozen short stories for us, in AmazingPlanetStartlingThrilling Wonder; also Weird Tales and Doc Savage; farther from our field, Maclean’sRailroadShort StoriesTop-Notch.  Known to have started a novel but if completed it has not appeared.  Translated into Croatian, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish. “Mive” (1928) won a U. Minn. contest judged by Margaret Banning; Lovecraft bought it for Weird Tales, saying “I was glad to see at least one story whose weirdness of incident was made convincing by adequate emotional preparation and suitably developed atmosphere.”  Attended Torcon II the 31st Worldcon.  (Died 1997) [JH]
  • Born July 10, 1911 – Jack Coggins.  Thirty book & magazine covers, a few interiors, for us; a thousand paintings; oils mainly on marine subjects; art classes; four dozen books, some reprinted by Dover.  With Fletcher Pratt, Rockets, Jets, Guided Missiles & Space Ships and By Space Ship to the Moon.  Here is an early cover for Galaxy.  Here is one for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.  Master Pastelist of Pastel Soc. America, Fellow of Am. Soc. Marine Artists.  Int’l Ass’n of Astronomical Artists Hall of Fame.  (Died 2006) [JH]
  • Born July 10, 1917 – Don Herbert.  In World War II, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with three oak-leaf clusters.  Invented and won a Peabody for Watch Mr. Wizard (television 1951-1965, 1971-1972; later Mr. Wizard’s World 1983-1990, re-runs until 2000); he and a boy or girl did science experiments, many seeming impossible at first glance, most such as viewers could re-create.  “Eight hundred thousand viewers per episode….  over five thousand Mr. Wizard Science Clubs … total membership over a hundred thousand,” Science on the Air p. 227 (M. LaFollette, 2008).  A good neighbor.  (Died 2007) [JH]
  • Born July 10, 1931 Julian May. She‘s best known for her Saga of Pliocene Exile (known as the Saga of the Exiles in the UK) and Galactic Milieu series: Jack the BodilessDiamond Mask and Magnificat. She was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame at Sasquan. John has a very nice look at her here. (Died 2017.) (CE)
  • Born July 10, 1941 David Hartwell. Encyclopedia of Science Fiction describes him as “perhaps the single most influential book editor of the past forty years in the American science fiction publishing world”.  I certainly fondly remember The Space Opera Renaissance he co-edited with Kathryn Cramer. Not to mention that his Year’s Best Fantasy and Year’s Best SF anthologies are still quite excellent reading to dip into on whim. (Died 2016.) (CE)
  • Born July 10, 1941 Susan Seddon Boulet. If you’ve read the American edition of Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife (which won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature), you’ve seen her amazing work. Or perhaps you’ve got a copy of Pomegranate‘s edition of Ursula Le Guin’s Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight. If you’re keen on knowing more about this amazing artist, see the Green Man review of Susan Seddon Boulet: A Retrospective. (Died 1997.) (CE) 
  • Born July 10, 1945 Ron Glass. Probably best genre wise as Shepherd Book in the Firefly series and its sequel Serenity. His first genre role was as Jerry Merris in Jerry Merris, a SF horror film and he’d later show up voicing Philo D. Grenman in Strange Frame: Love & Sax (“slated as the world’s first animated lesbian-themed sci-fi film”; look it up as it as an impressive voice cast) and he showed up twice as J. Streiten, MD in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Oh, and he was on Voyager playing a character named Loken in the  “Nightingale” episode. (Died 2016.) (CE)
  • Born July 10, 1953 – Chôhei Kambayashi, 67.  A dozen novels, thirty shorter stories.  In “The Enemy Is the Pirate” a reluctant human hero is forced to co-operate with a wisecracking cat.  “Full of Kindnesses” is set in a Japan so riddled with bureaucracy that even thieves and gangsters must obtain a license.  In the world of “Prism” all human needs are met, but inhabitants are forbidden to ask why.  Eight Seiun Awards, Nihon SF Taishô Award.  [JH]
  • Born July 10, 1970 John Simm, 50. The second of the modern Masters on Doctor Who.  He appeared in the final three episodes of the Time of the Tenth Doctor: “Utopia”, “The Sound of Drums”, and “Last of the Time Lords”. He also played Sam Tyler in Life on Mars. (CE)
  • Born July 10, 1981 – Karen Russell, 38.  One novel, thirty shorter stories.  A short version of Swamplandia! appeared in The New Yorker (“My older sister has entire kingdoms inside her, and some of them are only accessible at certain seasons, in certain kinds of weather”).  Collections, St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, two more.  Interview in the May 2013 Lightspeed.  [JH]

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • R. E. Parrish finds family talking about their “accomplishments” boring. 

(13) PIPERS AT THE GATES. [Item by Chip Hitchcock.] Filers may remember Miles Vorkosigan being trapped in the Thames Flood Barrier in Brothers in Arms. Now the story could move; the BBC reports “Venice test brings up floodgates for first time”.

For the first time a system of 78 mobile floodgates has been tested in Venice, after years beset by delays and corruption.

The 1.5km (one-mile) Mose system of yellow dams was a “powerful project that has taken years to complete”, said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Venice was hit by the worst floods in half a century in November 2019.

Environmental protesters took to the lagoon on Friday, saying the barriers would damage the area.

Critics argue the sluice-gate system is 10 years too late. Work on the Mose project started in 2003, even though it was designed in the 1980s. It has gone three times over its original budget and resulted in the arrest of dozens of officials, the BBC’s Quentin Sommerville reports from Rome.

(14) WATCHING THE DARK. The Litle Red Reviewer catches us up with “Recent Reads, Watchings, Craftings, Cookings, etc.”.

…Been binge re-watching the Netflix show Dark. The 3rd season just dropped, so hubby and I are rewatching the first two seasons as fast as we can.   this IS the show of the summer!  umm, how to explain?  Think Twin Peaks meets Stranger Things,  plus a metric ton of time travel.  And the soundtrack!  omg, so good!!

DO:  watch the show and take your own notes for a family tree.  Different story lines follow different generations, so you’ll want to keep track of who is married to who,  who is the parent and child of who, etc.

DON’T: use google to learn about this show.   the less you know about the show and the plot going in, the better.  the internet is solid spoilers.

not a spoiler: the first time I saw season one,  I though Jonas was a cool but annoying character. Why is he so quiet? Why doesn’t he seem to react to things? why does he seem so passive?  Yeah, he’s might be quiet, but he is NOT passive. the poor kid is a bundle of nerves and a total mess inside.

(15) HOLD THAT THOUGHT. “TikTok: Amazon says email asking staff to remove app ‘sent in error'”. (BBC’s report of the first email is here: “TikTok: Amazon tells employees to remove app from phones”.)

Amazon has said an email sent to employees asking them to remove the video-sharing app TikTok from any mobile device that can access their company email was sent in error.

An internal memo sent to staff earlier on Friday had said employees should delete the app over “security risks”.

The app, owned by a Chinese company, has come under scrutiny because of fears it could share data with China.

TikTok said it did not understand Amazon’s concerns.

“This morning’s email to some of our employees was sent in error. There is no change to our policies right now with regard to TikTok”, a company spokesperson told the BBC.

But earlier on Friday, a memo sent to staff seen by multiple news outlets stated that the app must be removed from mobile devices.

(16) ONE STEP FORWARD. “Instagram to block LGBT ‘conversion therapy’ services”.

Instagram will block the promotion of “conversion therapy”, which tries to change a person’s sexuality or gender identity, the social media giant has told the BBC.

Campaigners are urging the government to act now on a two-year-old promise to make the practice illegal.

This year, 200,000 people have signed an online petition calling for action.

All major UK therapy professional bodies and the NHS oppose it on logical, ethical and moral grounds.

(17) SUNRISE. The reviewer “finally” gets around to “SOLARIS – Stanislaw Lem (1961)” at Weighing a pig doesn’t fatten it.

At the beginnings of my forays into science fiction, it quickly became clear Solaris was one of the key texts, and so a physical copy of the book has been on my shelves for years. There were two reasons I didn’t take it out sooner. The main thing was me having the wrong idea of what it was about. I’m not sure why, but I thought the story focused on a crew slowly growing mad, and I’d mentally labeled it something like ‘psychological horror in space’, a genre I’m not that interested in. The other reason was Steven Soderbergh’s adaption: I’d seen it in a movie theater when it came out back in 2002, and while I don’t remember any other thing about it, at the time my reaction was lukewarm at best.

It was only after a conversation in the comments to my review of Asimov’s The Gods Themselves that I realized I had the wrong idea about the book. That conversation was with Polish native Ola G, and it turns out she wrote two excellent pointers about Stanislaw Lem, here and here – do click on those if you want an accessible yet fairly thorough overview of Lem. On the strength of Solaris and Ola’s posts, I have added FiascoThe Invincible and The Cyberiad to my TBR….

(18) CROSS-TRAINING. The BBC knows “Why Hollywood needs computer games tech more than ever”.

Kim Libreri, an award-winning visual effects artist based in Northern California, has worked on movies including Artificial Intelligence and War of the Planet of the Apes.

For nine years he has been working with a piece of technology better known for computer games, in particular the smash-hit Fortnite.

The Unreal Engine, owned by Epic Games, provides the building blocks and tools that a computer game developer needs, but is increasingly an attractive technology for TV and film producers.

The latest version of technology, Unreal Engine 5, is coming out next year, and Epic has been heavily trailing its features.

It should allow visual effects artists like Mr Libreri to slot graphics and images straight into a scene, with little fuss.

“With traditional filmmaking, a director and cinematographer might shoot a scene on set -then down the line, hand footage and creative direction off to a team of virtual reality artists and designers, who enhance that material with visual effects and computer-generated imagery in a separate phase of production, says Mr Libreri, who is now chief technology officer at Epic Games.

With Unreal Engine collaboration between the director, cinematographer, production designer and virtual reality teams can occur simultaneously as an interactive process on set.

“Unreal Engine 5 promises to further free the artistic process by making it easier to take virtual worlds developed for feature film and television, and run them in the game engine in real time,” says Mr Libreri.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. This isn’t part of the new Disney+ package despite featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda and another signer of the Declaration. From 2015:

“Button,” Colbert’s (3-minute) counterpoint/companion to Hamilton, about another of the Dec of Ind signers, “Button Gwinnett,” here sung by Lin-Manuel and Stephen.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, Dann, Mike Kennedy, Lise Andreasen, Cat Eldridge, David Doering, StephenfromOttawa, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Borderlands Books Owner Accused of Sexual Assault

Deeply disturbing charges from two women about being abused by Alan Beatts, owner of Borderlands Books, were aired by The Horror Show With Brian Keene on July 2.

Content warning for physical and sexual assault, and incest.

The charges were initially shared by Sarah Read on June 20, when she tweeted a screencap of the account posted by Beatts’ ex-girlfriend on Facebook. (The source post either is not public, or has since been removed.) 

“Alan Beatts is the owner of Borderlands Books in San Francisco and my ex-boyfriend. He grabbed me by the hair and threatened to kill me with a knife to my throat. He tried his damndest to rape DoveStep Beatts. I know there are others he assaulted and abused. It feels weird to ask for people not to support an indie bookstore right now, but please don’t support Borderlands Books,”

DoveStep refers to Beatts’ daughter.

Brian Keene spoke to the daughter and the unnamed ex-girlfriend, and his podcast reports their allegations in graphic detail. (A transcript of that podcast segment is available here. Content warnings apply for the podcast, and today’s Mission Local article: “Borderlands Books owner publicly accused of sexual assault by daughter, domestic violence by ex-girlfriend”.)

Keene also spoke to Alan Beatts in an off-the-record conversation – disclosing that Beatts is someone he had a 20-year professional and personal relationship with, that he is not only “intricately tied to,” but is the subject of an entire chapter in Keene’s recently-published memoir End of the Road.

The Beatts charges are not only toxic to hear about, they are shattering to the community that supports Borderlands Books. When Beatts announced in February 2015 he could stay in business if 300 people bought sponsorships for a hundred dollars apiece, the number of sponsors needed to underwrite the store’s survival plan came forward in less than 48 hours, and by May he had 800. This overwhelming response allowed the store to envision buying its own building, and in 2017, 49 individuals loaned $1.9 million to purchase a new location on Haight Street. 

Keene said on the podcast: “This is the one that broke me, folks. …All I can say is I’m sorry to everyone involved. …I will not be doing any more signings at Borderlands Books.” 

Author Christopher Golden tweeted a link to Keene’s podcast with the comment that these allegations are “stomach-turning” and that “I love the store but as long as he’s connected to it, I couldn’t support them.” 

And the store’s Events calendar indicates several virtual items which had been scheduled for this week have been called off, with only the explanation — “Due to unforseen circumstances, this event has been cancelled.” This includes virtual appearances by Katherine Addison, Jo Walton, Mike Chen, Kelly McWilliams, Kate Elliott, and Mary Robinette Kowal.