Pixel Scroll 2/1/18 Five Little Pixel Scrolls, Argued On The Floor, One Used A Fallacy, And Well, There Were Still Five

(1) HORROR POETRY. At the Horror Writers Association blog: “The Word’s the Thing: An Interview with Michael Arnzen”

Q: How important is language in poetry? I realize the question is a bit open ended and hints of a “duh” question. However, there is something that distinguishes the many genre poets from a Marge Simon, Linda Addison or Bruce Boston. The subject matter may be similar but the language of poets of that caliber is just different. You can read many imitations of Poe or The Graveyard Boys, but the handful of poets that truly stand out seem to have this almost magical way of using language.

A:  There’s no poetry without language, obviously, but you make a really good point about what distinguishes one poet from another – I’d call it their “voice.” Poetry is a kind of music; the sound matters and it should reverberate in the body and fetch the ear when spoken in a way that narrative fiction cannot. Words are as important as the “notes” in music, but every poet might have an instinctive, experienced and individual way of “singing” or giving shape to those words. But genre poetry is not opera and it doesn’t require a reader to be schooled in anything special; it’s more like pop music. Remember, although we can trace the legacy of genre back to Beowulf, through the Graveyard Poets of the Romantic Period and then Edgar Allan Poe, horror poetry as we think of it today really got its start as filler — a way for pulp magazine editors to put content in the blank spaces on the page of early magazines and fanzines.  So some of the best horror genre poets in my opinion are more accessible and reaching readers with more easy to swallow language, perhaps using lyrical forms but not in an overbearing way, while still retaining a unique voice.  I’ve read hyper-literary genre poetry, but no matter how interesting it might be, it often feels like its pretending to be something it’s not, and rings false when it taps the emotional chords. So in my opinion language matters, but it really can’t get in the way of the emotional connection in this field. Music is the instinctive part of poetry that just “feels” right, and the best genre poets are the kind who know how to reach the audience — they sing in a way that reaches new fans and experienced readers/viewers/lovers of horror alike.

(2) UNSTOPPABLE MONSTER. Forbes’ Ian Morris says “Hulu Is Gaining On Netflix, But Star Trek Discovery Is An Unstoppable Monster”.

What’s interested me though is the Star Trek: Discovery “Demand Expressions” or, better known as the number of people talking about a show. According to Parrot Analytics – video below – Star Trek: Discovery has more than 53 million people talking about it in the US. That beats The Walking Dead which has around 46m expressions. Netflix’s Stranger Things also has a staggering 33m of these within the US.

(3) IRONCLAD PROMISE. The Verge’s Andrew Liptak reports “BBC is making a Victorian-era War of the Worlds TV series”.

Earlier today, the BBC announced a number of new shows, including a three-part series based on H.G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds. The show is scheduled to go into production next spring, and it appears that, unlike most modern adaptations, it will be set in the Victorian era.

The series will be written by screenwriter Peter Harness, who adapted Susanna Clarke’s Victorian-era fantasy novel Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell for the network, as well as a handful of Doctor Who episodes.

(4) APEX MAGAZINE THEME ISSUE TAKING SUBMISSIONS. This summer, award-winning author and editor Sheree Renée Thomas (“Aunt Dissy’s Policy Dream Book,” Apex Magazine, Volume 95 April 2017 and Volume 101 October 2017, Sleeping Under the Tree of Life, Shotgun Lullabies, and the Dark Matter anthologies) will guest edit a special Zodiac-themed issue. Sheree seeks short stories that explore the heavenly cosmos and unveil mysteries, tales that reimagine Zodiacal archetypes and/or throw them on their heads.

As the stars align themselves above, write bold, fun, weird, scary, sensual stories that heal, frighten, intrigue, amuse.

Length: 1500-5000 words

Genres: Science fiction, fantasy, horror, interstitial, etc.

Deadline: May 1, 2018

Email submissions to: sheree.apexmag@gmail.com

Payment:  Original fiction $.06/word; Solicited Reprint fiction: $.01/word; Podcast $.01/word

(SFWA-certified professional market)

No simultaneous submissions. No multi-submissions for short fiction.

Publication: August 2018, Apex Magazine

(5) MEREDITH MOMENT. John Joseph Adams’ anthology HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! and Other Improbable Crowdfunding Projects is discounted to $1.99 on Kindle from now until Feb. 7 (11:59pm PT).

Includes stories by Seanan McGuire, Daniel H. Wilson, Chuck Wendig, Tobias S. Buckell, Carmen Maria Machado and many others.

(6) TWISTED OPEN. Editors Christopher Golden and James A. Moore are taking submissions for their horror anthology The Twisted Book of Shadows until February 28.

  • Will have zero spaces reserved for marquee names.
  • Will use a blind submissions program (we won’t know who wrote the stories until we’ve selected them).
  • Will pay professional rates — a minimum of six cents per word, with a cap on advances of $300 per story.
  • Will pay royalties — a pro rata share of 50% of all royalties earned.
  • Will make our best efforts to spread the word, so that marginalized communities of horror writers will be aware of the call for stories.
  • Will employ a diverse Editorial Committee. In recognition of the possibility of inherent bias in our reading, the editors have engaged an astonishing team of diverse writers and editors who will read submissions alongside us and will offer their input and aid in the selection process. These authors and editors have a breadth and depth of experience that has transformed this project into THE horror anthology for the coming year.

Golden told Facebook readers:

PLEASE share this far and wide, but I’d ask that you make a special effort to share with authors interested in horror who also happen to be women, people of color, non-binary, LGBTQ, or part of any commonly marginalized community. Anyone who has ever felt discouraged from submitting is actively ENCOURAGED to submit to this. If the work isn’t great, there’s nothing we can do about that, but we can guarantee you a fair process, blind to any identity other than the quality of your story. All we care about is what you write.

(7) RECOGNIZING ROMANCE. Awards news at Amazing Stories — “Science Fiction Romance Awards Announced”.

This is a big week in science fiction romance as the SFR Galaxy Awards for 2017 were announced on January 31st. Judged by respected book bloggers and reviewers in the genre, the Award has the following theme per their website: The theme of the SFR Galaxy Awards is inclusiveness. Instead of giving an award to a single book, this event will recognize the worth of multiple books and/or the standout elements they contain.

(8) AT 45. Megan McArdle says“After 45 Birthdays, Here Are ’12 Rules for Life'” at Bloomberg. There’s a familiar name in the first rule:

  1. Be kind. Mean is easy; kind is hard. Somewhere in eighth grade, many of us acquired the idea that the nasty putdown, the superior smile, the clever one liner, are the signs of intelligence and great personal strength. But this kind of wit is, to borrow from the great John Scalzi, “playing the game on easy mode.” Making yourself feel bigger by making someone else feel small takes so little skill that 12-year-olds can do it. Those with greater ambitions should leave casual cruelty behind them.

(9) HOW THEY STACK UP. Rocket Stack Rank has posted its “Annotated 2017 Locus Recommended Reading List for short fiction”, sorted by score to highlight the stories that made it into the “year’s best” anthologies so far (Gardner Dozois, Jonathan Strahan, Neil Clarke) and the “year’s best” lists from prolific reviewers (Gardner Dozois, Rich Horton, Greg Hullender [RSR], Sam Tomaino [SFRevu], Jason McGregor, and Charles Payseur).

Annotations include time estimates, links to the story on the author’s website (if available), author links with Campbell Award-eligibility marked (superscript for year 1 or 2), blurbs for RSR-reviewed stories, links to reviews, and links to digital back issues (of print magazines) at eBookstores and library websites.

RSR reviewed 96 out of the 123 stories in the Locus list (78%). Of the 27 not reviewed by RSR, 10 were stories from horror magazines and horror anthologies. The rest were from other science fiction & fantasy sources, some of which might be reviewed by RSR as time permits.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 1, 1970 Horror of the Blood Monsters, starring John Carradine, premiered.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born February 1, 1908 – George Pal

(12)COMICS SECTION.

  • Chip Hitchcock asks, “What are they doing in there?” — Nonsequitur.

(13) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. Could be even worse than yesterday’s! Fox News reports “China is building a laser 10 trillion times more intense than the Sun that could tear space apart”.

According to the Science journal, this laser would be so powerful it “could rip apart empty space”.

The idea is to achieve a phenomenon known as “breaking the vacuum”, whereby electrons are torn away from positrons (their antimatter counterparts) in the empty vacuum of space.

Right now, it’s possible to convert matter into huge amounts of heat and light, as proved by nuclear weapons. But reversing the process is more difficult – although Chinese physicist Ruxin Li believes his laser could manage it.

“That would be very exciting. It would mean you could generate something from nothing,” he explained.

The team has already created a less powerful version called the Shanghai Superintense Ultrafast Laser, which is capable of a 5.3-petawatt pulse

(14) NO UNIVERSES WERE HARMED. Meanwhile — “Simulation of universe provides black hole breakthrough”.

The most detailed simulation of the universe ever created has provided a breakthrough revealing how the most powerful and mysterious forces interact on an enormous scale.

Scientists said the detail and scale provided by the simulation enabled them to watch how galaxies formed, evolved and grew while also nursing the creation of new stars.

Dr Shy Genel, at the New York-based Flatiron Institute’s Centre for Computational Astrophysics (CCA), said: “When we observe galaxies using a telescope, we can only measure certain quantities.”

But “with the simulation, we can track all the properties for all these galaxies. And not just how the galaxy looks now, but its entire formation history”, he added.

He said the simulation is the most advanced ever developed.

(15) CRUSADING JOURNALISM. Florida Man has been heard from again: “Man Prefers Comic Books That Don’t Insert Politics Into Stories About Government-Engineered Agents Of War”The Onion has the story.

APOPKA, FL—Local man Jeremy Land reportedly voiced his preference Thursday for comic books that don’t insert politics into stories about people forced to undergo body- and mind-altering experiments that transform them into government agents of war. “I’m tired of simply trying to enjoy escapist stories in which people are tortured and experimented upon at black sites run by authoritarian governments, only to have the creators cram political messages down my throat,” said Land, 31, who added that Marvel’s recent additions of female, LGBTQ, and racially diverse characters to long-running story arcs about tyrannical regimes turning social outsiders into powerful killing machines felt like PC propaganda run amok….

(16) BANGING ROCKS TOGETHER. To go with the recent Pixel about early humans ranging more widely, “Discovery In India Suggests An Early Global Spread Of Stone Age Technology”.

Somewhere around 300,000 years ago, our human ancestors in parts of Africa began to make small, sharp tools, using stone flakes that they created using a technique called Levallois.

The technology, named after a suburb of Paris where tools made this way were first discovered, was a profound upgrade from the bigger, less-refined tools of the previous era, and marks the Middle Stone Age in Africa and the Middle Paleolithic era in Europe and western Asia.

Neanderthals in Europe also used these tools around the same time. And scientists have thought that the technology spread to other parts of the globe much later — after modern humans moved out of Africa.

But scientists in India recently discovered thousands of stone tools made with Levallois technique, dating back to 385,000 years ago. These latest findings, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, suggest the Levallois technique spread across the world long before researchers previously thought.

(17) BIRDS DO IT. Everybody’s doing it: “Luxembourg PM sees his country’s satellite launched”.

Luxembourg’s Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel, has just watched one of his country’s satellites go into orbit.

He was at Cape Canaveral, Florida, to see the launch of GovSat-1, which will be providing telecommunications services to the military and institutional customers.

The Luxembourg government has a 50-50 share in the project.

Its partner is SES, the major commercial satellite operator that bases itself in the Grand Duchy.

GovSat-1 is another example of Luxembourg’s burgeoning role in the space sector.

Its deputy prime minister, Etienne Schneider, who was also at the Cape, has recently positioned the country at the forefront of plans to go mine asteroids.

GovSat-1 rode to orbit on a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket. It will try to forge a new market in satellite communications.

(18) EARLY WARNING. With this it may be possible to detect dementia before it ravages the brain — “Blood test finds toxic Alzheimer’s proteins”.

Scientists in Japan and Australia have developed a blood test that can detect the build-up of toxic proteins linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

The work, published in the journal Nature, is an important step towards a blood test for dementia.

The test was 90% accurate when trialled on healthy people, those with memory loss and Alzheimer’s patients.

Experts said the approach was at an early stage and needed further testing, but was still very promising.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Dann, Andrew Porter, John Joseph Adams, Greg Hullender, Jason Sizemore, StephenfromOttawa, ULTRAGOTHA, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

Amazing and NBC Kiss and Make Up

Only 10 days ago Steve Davidson was telling Amazing Stories readers, in “More NBC Bullshit”

It’s not gonna happen.  I want nothing to do with NBC and I want them to have nothing to do with Amazing Stories.

If that sounded final – surprise! You can throw that memo in the trash. Here’s the new plan, announced today in Steve’s editorial.

Well, it looks like there is a deal to be had with NBC.  Right now the lawyers and I are waiting for a draft proposal of our verbal discussions/agreements.  Then we’ll review.  I’ve yet to get through that stage of a negotiation without some changes being necessary, but rarely, if ever are those of the deal-breaker kind, so it certainly seems (with appropriate reservation) that we’ll be signing some time in the relatively near future.

Whatever the exact terms may turn out to be, Davidson says in “Plans” there will be enough money to let him to realize his long-held ambition of acquiring fiction for publication on the Amazing Stories website:

I believe that the initial revenue from the NBC deal will allow us to pay better than SFWA rates for at least one short story per week, so that’s what we’re going to do, at least to start.

Follow on to that will be the bundling together of three month’s worth of stories (12+) in an e-magazine issue and POD book, which will be titled Amazing Stories Quarterly.  I’m hoping that we’ll also be able to afford a couple of bonus stories that will initially only be available in the Quarterly editions.

Beyond that he expects to do a re-design of the Amazing Stories website by the beginning of 2018, and to start a club or membership organization.

Pixel Scroll 10/12/17 O, Brave New Scroll, That Has Such Pixels In ‘t!

(1) SECOND BITE OF THE APPLE. Steve Davidson left a comment telling File 770 readers about a turnaround in Amazing Stories’ situation with NBC since yesterday’s social media offensive:

Folks, I am officially “in discussions for a resolution” with NBC.

This was a DIRECT result of the tweeting and commenting that took place all of yesterday:

Specifically, NBC’s attorney requested that my attorney ask me to “stop tweeting” because certain people and certain giant corporations were “very upset”.

I had my doubts that my yelling about a toe stepped on would bring results, but in fact it took less than 12 hours for the story to get picked up and, while I have complied with the request (seeing as how we are talking again), the ripples are still going, so people on the west coast are going to continue to experience upset for a bit longer.

We’re very close to an agreement…very close..but not quite there yet.

I’m hoping we will finalize things today – 10-12.

I’m sure that an association with “Spielberg” and “Apple Inc” gave this story traction, but it would not have gone anywhere if fans didn’t pick it up and run with it. I think we can count this as a minor example of the “Star Trek” effect.

(2)THE PAST THROUGH YESTERDAY. Jo Walton has updated her “Revisiting the Hugo Awards” at Tor.com with a post on the newly-discovered 1956 Finalists: “Revisiting the Recently Rediscovered 1956 Hugo Awards Ballot”.

When I wrote my post in 2010 about the Hugos of 1956, the nominees for that year were lost in the mists of time. Last month they were found again, by Olav Rokne in an old Progress Report, which is very exciting, because it gives me the chance to compare what I thought they might be to what they really were. It’s great to be wrong, and goodness me I was wrong!…

(3) THE YOUNG AND THE RUTHLESS. For the newest installment of Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll unleashed his panel on “The Women Men Don’t See” by James Tiptree, Jr.

The story was not a hit with Jamie –

This was weird and slow and racist. Also sexist. The whole thing was uninteresting in general, the pacing was glacial, and the main character was a maddeningly horrible person who can seemingly only thnk about sex and whose first thought upon meeting aliens was to attack them and steal their stuff.

(4) REDDIT AMA. Two genre figures participated in Reddit “Ask Me Anything” sessions today.

G. WILLOW WILSON: Oh my God. It took Sana and I NINE MONTHS to settle on this power set. It was by far the most difficult part of the planning phase. Marvel came to me with a total tabula rasa–they wanted to do an all-ages series about an American Muslim girl (the idea was inspired by Sana’s own stories about her childhood) but this character had no name, no background, no power set, no nothing. I didn’t want her to have pretty powers–no sparkling, no floating in the air, no “I have a headache” telepathy. So that ruled some things out. And giving her violent powers–your laser beams, your plasma bolts–would be read as a political statement. (This is a whole ‘nother AMA.) So we had to get very creative. It had to be something useful and adaptive and fun to look at on the page. Getting to this specific variety of polymorphism took quite awhile.

GARDNER DOZOIS: For writing short fiction, my advice would be to immediately start with an interesting character in an interesting situation faced with a problem, rather than starting with landscape descriptions or details about how the society works. It’s hardwired in us to want to know what happens to that character NEXT, once you’ve involved us with them.

No real horror stories about fans sending me things, although I did once open a slush manuscript and had a big cardboard finger sprong up out of it, giving me the bird. A writer so certain his story was going to be rejected that he was taking his revenge in advance.

(5) COME CELEBRATE. Here’s a video of Pulphouse mascot Stomper doing a cartwheel to celebrate hitting their Kickstarter’s $15,000 stretch goal:

(6) BRADBURY RE-EULOGIZED. Paris Review ran Margaret Atwood’s “Voyage to the Otherworld: A New Eulogy for Ray Bradbury” in August.

This original essay by Margaret Atwood was composed specifically for the re-release of Sam Weller’s interview book companion to his authorized biography of Ray Bradbury. Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews, in a new hardcover deluxe edition, will be released this October by Hat & Beard Press in Los Angeles.

… What Sam and I were discussing was the launch of the collection, which was to be published by HarperCollins, and was to be called Shadow Show—from the 1962 Bradbury novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes. Ray himself had written an introduction, and it was hoped that he could be present at the grand celebration that was to take place at Comic-Con—the vast gathering of graphic artists, comics writers, and their fans, plus related enterprises and genres—that was slated for San Diego in mid-July. Five of us were going to do a Bradbury panel there: Sam, Mort Castle, Joe Hill, me, and Ray himself.

But Ray had been feeling a little frail, said Sam; it was possible he might not make it. In that case, the four of us would do the panel, and Sam and I would visit Ray in his home, webcast him to the world, connect him with his fans, and ask him to sign some covers of the book for them on the Fanado.com website I’d been involved in developing. Ray was keen to do it, said Sam, despite his qualified distrust of the Internet. His enthusiasm for his many devoted readers and his fellow writers never waned, and if using the questionable Internet was the method of last resort, then that is what he would do.

I was greatly looking forward to meeting a writer who had been ?so much a part of my own early reading, especially the delicious, clandestine reading done avidly in lieu of homework, and the compulsive reading done at night with a flashlight when I ought to have been sleeping. Stories read with such enthusiasm at such a young age are not so much read as inhaled. They sink all the way in and all the way down, and they stay with you.

But then Ray Bradbury died. He was ninety-one, but still….

(7) RIGHTS OF FAN. The Concord (New Hampshire) Monitor covered Steve Davidson’s side of the trademark dispute on Wednesday — “‘Amazing Stories’ trademark owner says Spielberg, Apple proposal ignored him”.

…Davidson said he’d always had dreams of doing more with the name, and he said he signed a contract with NBC in 2015 giving the company rights to option the “Amazing Stories” name.

His plan was to use the money to expand the online magazine, which he said now has “upward of about 4,000 unique views a day,” paying for one piece of new fiction every week, then bundling it all at the end of each quarter into print-on-demand and electronic editions.

However, he said Wednesday that NBC never paid him, leading him to file a notice of breach of contract and termination of the contract in May. He said he and NBC have recently reopened discussions, but Tuesday’s news changed his opinion.

“I don’t want to have anything to do with NBC,” he said. “I want the notice of breach and termination to be put into effect – they have no rights – so I can go out and do what I need to do.”

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born October 12, 1968 – Hugh Jackman, an actor whose roles include Wolverine.

(9) KEEPING THE PUN IN PUNCHEON. Crave interviews the author of a stfnal bartending guide — “New Book Unites Cocktail Drinkers and Sci-Fi Fans”.

Alcohol and sci-fi movies are two of Andy Heidel’s favorite things. In his new book The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy, the owner of Brooklyn bar The Way Station brings both his passions together in over 100 out-of-this-world cocktails. Pop culture touchstones like Back to the Future, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and Game of Thrones become imbibe-able through his pun-derful recipes. Heidel makes it easy to play mixologist at home with just a few ingredients, minimal accouterments, and easy instructions. He also slips in a few “Heidel Hints” so booze-drinking rookies don’t embarrass themselves at the bar. Comic illustrations throughout make this a visually intoxicating read as well.

(10) WHERE’S YOUR TOWEL? SF Site News carried a report that a sixth series of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will be broadcast next year, using a combination of the original radio and the television casts. According to the Telegraph, the new series will air in on BBC Radio 4 in 2018.

The series is to be based on Artemis Fowl author Eoin Colfer’s spin-off novel And Another Thing…, but will also include previously unpublished material by original writer Douglas Adams, who died in 2001.

Simon Jones is to reprise his starring role as Arthur Dent, the mild-mannered Englishman who finds himself dragged across the universe, after the Earth is destroyed to make way for an intergalactic bypass.

Other returning cast members include Geoff McGivern as Ford Prefect, a travel writer for the titular guide, Mark Wing-Davey as two-headed alien Zaphod Beeblebrox, and Sandra Dickinson as astrophysicist Trillian. Jane Horrocks is to guest-star as Arthur’s love-interest, Fenchurch.

(11) UNMANNED FOOD TRUCK. Subtler bodega-killers? BBC’s The Disruptors covers potential changes to shopping in ”How May I Help You?”

Imagine you’re in a crowd pouring out of a late night concert. Tired and hungry, you remember the cupboards at home are bare. Do not despair.

In the brave new world of retail this won’t necessitate a trek out to the nearest late night supermarket. Instead the shop can come to you.

With the touch of an app button, you hail a low-slung electric vehicle, like a glass-sided motorhome, which quietly glides into a parking space near you.

You enter the shop by swiping your mobile phone at the door, pick up your wares and swipe out again. There’s no cashier or sales assistant, and no-one to clean up if you drop a carton of milk on your toe.

(12) A WAY TO MAKE A BUCK-BUCK. What an eggs-ellent idea — “How chicken feathers could warm our homes”.

Where there are people, there are chickens. Pretty much every country on Earth has poultry or their eggs on the menu.

So, from Norway to New Zealand, and Cuba to Cambodia, chickens root around even the most isolated settlements, and fill giant farms in their thousands.

One result of a huge chicken population is a huge amount of chicken feathers, which are normally burned or taken to landfill, polluting the environment.

Ryan Robinson, a biology graduate from Imperial College London, is one of a duo that believes it might have come up with a different solution for this feathery waste.

Along with designer Elena Dieckmann, Robinson has discovered a way to turn feathers into an insulating material for buildings or a packing material for food or medicine.

(13) VERDANT VERTICALS. Not the Jetsons’ future: “Why Milan is covering its skyscrapers in plants” – there’s a gallery at the link.

(14) DIRTY BIRDS. After dendrochronology, ornithochronology? “‘Sooty birds’ reveal hidden US air pollution”.

…Cities were soon coated in sooty air thanks to the unregulated burning of coal in homes and factories.

While the huge impact of black carbon on the health of people living in urban centres has been recognised for decades, it is only in recent years that scientists have understood the role it plays climate change.

When it is suspended in the air, the substance absorbs sunlight and increases warming in the atmosphere.

When it hits the ground it increases melting of snow and ice, and has been linked to the loss of ice in the Arctic region.

US researchers have struggled to find accurate records of the amount of black carbon that was emitted in the manufacturing belt of the US, around Chicago, Detroit and Pittsburgh at the end of the 19th century.

This new study takes an unusual approach to working out the scale of soot coming from this part of the US over the last 100 years.

The scientists trawled through natural history collections in museums in the region and measured evidence of black carbon, trapped in the feathers and wings of songbirds as they flew through the smoky air….

(15) A VR PR DISASTER. Is that Facebook or Facepalm? “Virtual Zuck fails to connect”.

It must have seemed like a good idea. As a taster for a big announcement about Oculus VR on Wednesday, send Mark Zuckerberg on a little virtual reality trip, including a stop in Puerto Rico.

But the reviews are in – and they are not good.

The sight of Mr Zuckerberg using VR to survey the devastation of an island still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria may have been meant to convey Facebook’s empathy with the victims.

The fact that he was there in the form of a cartoon seemed to many the perfect visual metaphor for the gulf in understanding between Silicon Valley and the real world.

Sure, he was talking about all the activities which his company had initiated to help the island, from helping people tell their families they were ok using Safety Check to sending Facebook employees to help restore connectivity.

But cartoon Zuck showing us a 360 degree view of a flooded street before zipping back to a virtual California just seemed a little, well, crass. Is Facebook really concerned about the plight of Puerto Rico, or is it merely a handy backdrop to promote Oculus, whose sales have so far proved disappointing?

(16) HE’S GOT IT COVERED. From the “news to me” archives, a Doctor Who fan performing a rather formidable challenge on British TV game show You Bet!

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, Andrew Porter, Mark-kitteh, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Steve Davidson Counters NBC’s Announcement of Amazing Stories TV Revival

Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson answered media announcements about the revival of a TV series by that name (like the Los Angeles Times’ story “Steven Spielberg will revive ’80s NBC series ‘Amazing Stories’ for Apple”) in a statement for File 770 —

Officially:

No, NBC does not have a signed agreement to use the name Amazing Stories.

The last I and my attorney heard from them was an email, stating that they were sorry for the delay in getting back to us, but they were consulting with numerous people.

That was about two-three weeks before the Apple announcement.

I now view that email as an attempt to delay us pending the Apple deal (suggesting that NBC may have misrepresented what they had to Apple).

Or it could mean they were advised that there was little chance I’d sue them for trademark infringement. (Let’s see, what is a juicier potential lawsuit, one vs NBC or one vs NBC and Apple Inc…?)

My attorney is in the process of contacting Apple Inc’s legal machine to inform them of reality. My attorney is also now officially “fed up” with this stuff.

I am in the process of tweeting and yelling far and wide over this.

I currently have absolutely no plans whatsoever to license NBC to use the name. They’ve tried to threaten, intimidate, cajole and misrepresent their way to obtaining those rights and I have absolutely no confidence that they won’t try more of the same in the future.

Anyone who knows anything about NBC, Spielberg, Apple & etc., who is willing to help, please contact me.

I will probably need to do crowdfunding for legal action and expect that something along those lines will be the next major announcement in this story.

I will be more than happy to provide relevant paperwork and contact info for my attorney where it is appropriate.

A month ago Davidson detailed the history of negotiations explaining “Why Amazing Stories Isn’t Back on NBC”. Today, in an Amazing Stories editorial, “More NBC Bullshit”, he said this is his current position —

Why I allowed myself to be convinced that we could work things out, in the face of everything that had gone before…well…shit happens, I guess.  But you know, there’s that old expression about fooling me twice….

It’s not gonna happen.  I want nothing to do with NBC and I want them to have nothing to do with Amazing Stories.

Pixel Scroll 10/10/17 Eric And The Dread Pixel Scroll

(0) TRAINING COMPLETED. Thanks to you who wished me a good trip to New Mexico for my mother’s 91st birthday celebration. I’d say your wishes were effective, not only because we had a fine reception and dinner, but because my Amtrak experience was far superior to that of the folks who left Los Angeles aboard the previous day’s Southwest Chief. The Santa Fe New Mexican has the story

Passengers and crew aboard a Chicago-bound Amtrak train spent the night stopped in Northern New Mexico hill country after the lead engine struck a boulder and partially derailed.

No serious injuries were reported, but the two engineers in the lead engine were taken to a hospital for evaluation, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said Friday from Chicago.

The incident occurred Thursday evening on Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks in a rural area near Watrous about 105 miles northeast of Albuquerque.

…The train’s second engine and all the cars remained on the tracks and the train still had power, heating and toilet service while it remained at the derailment site, the Amtrak spokesman said.

Not to overstate things — I would have missed the excitement anyway, since my destination was one of the last stops before they hit the rock, however, it still felt like a narrow escape.

(1) RUH ROH! Last month Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson shared the long history behind “Why Amazing Stories Isn’t Back on NBC”. However, over the weekend the media reported “Steven Spielberg will revive ’80s NBC series ‘Amazing Stories’ for Apple”.

Apple is making a major statement on its television ambitions as it nears an acquisition of an original series from filmmaker Steven Spielberg.

The tech giant is close to a deal to buy a new version of Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories,” the Emmy-winning sci-fi anthology series that ran on NBC from 1985 to 1987.

NBCUniversal, which co-owns the rights to the property, confirmed that an agreement is imminent. Apple declined to comment. The Wall Street Journal first reported the deal Tuesday.

A scripted series with the imprimatur of Spielberg, one of Hollywood’s most-heralded producer-directors thanks to “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Schindler’s List” and the “Jurassic Park” franchise, and his company Amblin Television, will be a demonstration of the tech giant’s clout as it enters the television business…

More as the story develops.

(2) PUPPY LOVE. Yahoo! says get your Kleenex ready — “Carrie Fisher’s dog watching the new ‘Star Wars’ trailer will destroy you”.

Millions of Star Wars fans watched the new trailer for The Last Jedi on Monday night — including one very good boy.

A photo of Gary, Carrie Fisher’s beloved French bulldog, was posted to his official Instagram account on Monday, and, guys, we’re warning you — it’s going to make you whimper….

(3) WHO ARE YOU? Jim C. Hines, in “A Plea to Conventions About Name Badges”, asks conventions to fix a problem that people have been complaining about the entire time I’m been in fandom.

I have a favor to ask of conventions: please design your badges so that names can be easily and clearly read.

I’ve never been good with names. It’s frustrating as hell, and it’s become a bigger problem as I travel to more conventions. I get introduced to so many people, and within 24 hours, a lot of those names escape my brain like Batman villains from Arkham Asylum.

Jim provides illustrations of what works for him, and what doesn’t.

(4) A NEW YORK COMIC CON STATE OF MIND. The Washington Post’s Aaron Gregg, in “Marvel cancels comic book deal with Northrop Grumman after Twitter backlash”, says that Marvel cancelled a proposed partnership with Northrop Grumman (whose “Northrop Grumman Elite Nexus” superheroes were supposed to team up with The Avengers) after lots of fans objected, noting, among other things, that Tony Stark gave up his defense contracts.

Marvel teased the partnership Friday morning in a tweet that promised more details in a presentation the following day at the New York Comic-Con festival. A retro-style comic book cover temporarily posted on Marvel’s website featured a team of “Northrop Grumman Elite Nexus” super heroes fighting alongside Marvel’s popular Avengers superheroes. The cover was quickly scrubbed from the company’s website, but not before it went viral on Twitter.

Twitter users ridiculed Marvel, accusing it of partnering with “death merchants.” Some pointed out that the Marvel character Iron Man, alias Tony Stark, had been the billionaire CEO of a company that built advanced weaponry but had turned his back on the weapons business after seeing its effects. Angry fans called out specific Marvel executives, and at least one suggested publicly protesting the issue at Marvel’s Comic-Con booth.….

(5) SZECHUAN LETDOWN. Meanwhile, another corporation was breaking hearts in the culinary arena. Michael Cavna and Maura Judkis, in “McDonald’s botched its ‘Rick and Morty’ Szechuan sauce stunt, and fans are not happy”, report that McDonald’s has disappointed thousands of viewers of the Cartoon Network show Rick and Morty. After 45,000 people signed a Change.org petition inspired by the show calling on the company to bring back Szechuan Sauce (originally created to promote Mulan in 1998), McDonalds promised select locations would have the sauce, but only a few did.

One Washington Post reporter was among those “Rick and Morty” fans who went questing Saturday for the fabled sauce, driving to three Maryland locations — one of them listed as an official “participating” outlet — and none had received a Szechuan shipment. One restaurant tried to pawn off Sriracha sauce. Another tried to sell the tangy Signature sauce. And a third outlet’s shift manager came to the drive-thru window to apologize profusely — clearly this wasn’t her first “Rick and Morty”-related apology of the day.

(6) REMEMBER WHEN? The Atlantic bills this article as “Revisiting Star Trek’s Most Political Episode” – which is saying something about a series that often delivered messages.

“It’s not that they don’t care. It’s that they’ve given up.” This was how Commanding Officer Benjamin Sisko, played by Avery Brooks, described early 21st-century Americans in an episode from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. When it aired in 1995, “Past Tense” spoke to contemporary concerns about homelessness by telling a story set in 2024—the near future for viewers, but the distant past for characters. In the two-part episode, Sisko and two of his companions from the U.S.S. Defiant find themselves stranded in San Francisco, where they’re reminded that the federal government had once set up a series of so-called “Sanctuary Districts” in a nationwide effort to seal off homeless Americans from the general population. Stuck in 2024, Sisko, who is black—along with his North African crewmate Dr. Julian Bashir and the fair-skinned operations officer Jadzia Dax—must contend with unfamiliar racism, classism, violence, and Americans’ apparent apathy toward human suffering.

(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

Tiaan Jerjerrod was the project manager of the second Death Star, which was destroyed at the end of Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. Supervising Jerjerrod was Emperor Palpatine’s right-hand man, Darth Vader. (Source: Death Star II: A Project Management Case Study.)

(8) TODAY’S DAY

Ada Lovelace Day

Ada Lovelace Day, whose goal is to “… raise the profile of women in science, technology, engineering, and maths.” (Wikipedia)

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 10, 1965 — The Red Baron first appeared in  Peanuts comic strip.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY EXPLORER

  • Born October 10, 1861 — Fridjtof Nansen, whose arctic navigation inspired fellow Norwegian Thor Heyerdahl. His ship, Fram, shares a museum with Kon Tiki and Ra.

(11) COMIC SECTION.

Martin Morse Wooster approves this “old school groaner” in today’s Frank and Ernest.

(12) SCI-FI SWINGS LIKE A PENDULUM DO. In “‘Blade Runner 2049’: Why some science fiction writers are tired of dystopias”, a recent article by the Christian Science Monitor, several sff authors suggest that they are tired of the wave of grim visions of humanity’s future. Is it time to create more works around an optimistic future based on expanding technology and human understanding?

In “Blade Runner 2049,” which opens Friday, post eco-disaster Los Angeles has built a massive coastline wall to fend off rising ocean levels. Few of the overpopulated city’s human or android occupants have ever seen a tree or a real animal. The incessant rain is as dour as Harrison Ford’s facial expressions. Worst of all? One character bemoans the fact that there’s no more cheese in the world.

Recent dystopian blockbusters seem to be jostling in a grim race to be the first to reach the seventh circle of hell in Dante’s “Inferno.” But some science-fiction writers are tired of the sorts of pessimistic futures depicted in movies and TV shows such as “The Hunger Games,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Black Mirror,” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

In response, influential authors Neal Stephenson, Cory Doctorow, David Brin, and Kim Stanley Robinson argue that futuristic fiction should, instead, offer an inspiring outlook about mankind’s ability to shape its destiny. But do the kinds of stories we tell ourselves have a cultural impact on shaping a better tomorrow?

“I want to nod at something that Jill Lepore wrote in The New Yorker about the dangers of drowning ourselves in dystopian stories,” says Christopher Robichaud, who teaches a class at Harvard Extension School on Utopia and Dystopia in fiction and philosophy. “The utility dystopian fiction used to serve was to bring problems to our attention and seek solutions. But the danger is that these stories can become a collective act of despair in response to current events.”

(13) SPACE TUTOR. In “Astronaut encourages kids to flip for STEM”, the Washington Post’s Marylou Tousignant says that the Air and Space Museum recently hosted a webcast with astronaut Randy Bresnik on the International Space Station where he had floating candy and showed kids an official NASA barf Bag.

If you could ask an astronaut orbiting in space any question, what would it be?

Students from several Washington-area schools got to do that recently at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum as part of its “STEM in 30” program.

Among other things, they wanted to know: Is it hard to move around up there? Can you watch TV? How do you know when it’s time for bed? What if you get sick?

(14) GRIM TIDINGS PODCAST SEEKS SUPPORT. The hosts of the Grim Tidings Podcast have invited fans to support them via Patreon.  Rob Matheny and Philip Overby focus on interviewing authors, editors, and agents working within the Grimdark sub-genre.  They have recorded over 100 episodes including luminaries from the field such as Joe Abercrombie, C.T. Phipps, Anna Smith Spark, Brian Stavely, Michael R. Fletcher, Sebastien De Castell, Laura M. Hughes, and Deborah A. Wolf.

(15) HAIR APPARENT. Is singing songs like this the real reason John Scalzi constantly needs to think up new names for his band?

(Just kidding – I laughed….)

(16) A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT. Alex Acks finds more to criticize about fantasy maps in a post for Tor.com — “Tolkien’s Map and the Perplexing River Systems of Middle-earth”.

…So what is it about the mighty Anduin that makes me tilt my head like a dog hearing a high-pitched noise? There are four main factors, in ascending order based on how easily I’m able to mentally excuse each point.

It cuts across two mountain ranges.

There is one fact you really need to understand to grasp the basics of how rivers work. Ready? Water flows downhill. That’s it. That’s the secret. Water flows downhill, and as it flows it tends to erode sediment and transport it downstream, and over long enough periods of time, that gets us our classic V-shaped river valleys and a ton of other morphological features. Which is why, when a river is on a collision course with mountains—normally places where the elevation goes up—you have to stare at it for a minute.

This is the easiest oddity for me to find an excuse for—because it is actually something that happens in reality! For example, the Colorado River cuts pretty much perpendicularly through the entire Basin and Range Province of North America. And the reason this works is because the Colorado was here before all that extensional tectonic silliness happened and the basins started dropping down from the ranges—and that process of down-drop was slow enough, relative to the ability of the Colorado to cut its own channel, that the river didn’t get permanently trapped in one of the basins.

So if we make the assumption that the Anduin existed before the mountains—and assume that the mountains uplifted in a natural way, thank you—it’s very possible for it to have cut down fast enough to maintain its course despite uplift. (Keep this in mind, we’ll be coming back to it later…)

(17) KEEP ON SWIMMING. And over the weekend Camestros Felapton gave us “Even More Plot Elements of Fantasy Maps”.

Big Islands

In Earthsea islands are large and numerous, in Lord of the Rings, on the other hand, islands barely appear and are small. In both cases they are locations and destinations and themselves contain terrain.

In Tolkien’s wider work, Númenor is the most notable island – a version of Atlantis, which itself gives us a classic inspiration for islands in Western literature. Oceanic islands can be countries with their own terrain but cut off from surroundings. Le Guin depicts the islands of Earthsea more like medieval era city-states with a wider common culture but no central authority.

It is interesting to me that Tolkien, who draws on many aspects of Britain and Britishness in building Middle Earth, avoids the island quality of Britain. This despite a tendency to mythologize the insular quality of Britain in English propaganda-history both in high-culture (Shakespeare’s ‘sceptered isle’) and low-culture (‘fog in the channel, continent cut off’). George R.R. Martin’s Westeros does this by having it be an eratz England circa the War of the Roses (with Scotland being another place full of ice zombies). Westeros’s scale seems flexible but it’s primary plot role as an island is to be a container. Events are within Westeros (up to the Wall) or beyond (either over the wall or on another continent).

The point being – oceanic islands are treated as political units rather than as terrain.

(18) JUXTAPOSITION. The title of Max Florschutz’ latest post halted me in my tracks — “Being a Better Writer Delayed” — until I remembered “Being a Better Writer” is a recurring topic at his Unusual Things blog.

(19) HOLY BLEEP. Camestros Felapton subjected his precious bodily fluids to a famous corporation’s bizarre new offering, “Coca-cola with coffee”.

…There is also a weird slimy quality to it. It’s like drinking coke but a bit more unpleasant.

The coffee is “real” and from Brazil. If I was Brazil I might object to the free advertising.

(20) X-FILES SEASON 11 TRAILER. The truth etc. etc.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Christian Brunschen, Chip Hitchcock, Dann, Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Pixel Scroll 9/9/17 The Map Is Not The Epic Fantasy Just As The Pixel Is Not The Scroll

(1) FURRY COUNCILMAN OUSTED. A city councilman in the eastern U.S. was pressured into quitting after his activities as a furry fan became a source of public controversy. The Danbury, Connecticut News Times has the story: “New Milford councilman resigns after furor over ‘furry’ activities”.

Town Council member Scott Chamberlain had never made a secret of his deep involvement in Furry Fandom, a subculture of adults who dress in mascot-like animal costumes, attend role-playing conventions and interact regularly online.

But an uproar ensued when a town resident posted on a community Facebook page several screenshots of Chamberlain’s profile from a private website catering to “furries,” many of whom participate in or write about unusual sexual practices. The profile includes a list of Chamberlain’s “loves,” “likes” and “hates,” some sexual in nature, but also said that he “tolerates” rape.

In an interview at midday Thursday, Chamberlain explained his involvement in the “furry” community as a harmless hobby.

“It’s nothing to do with sex; it’s an interest in cartoon animals,” said the first-term Democrat, who was up for re-election.

But Mayor David Gronbach, saying elected officials should be held to a “higher standard,” called for Chamberlain’s immediate resignation, and within two hours party officials said he would resign all his town and party positions by Monday morning.

(2) PROGRESS. The “Help Lezli See (Eye Surgery)” campaign has now raised $6,525 of its $8,000 goal. The contributions have come from 130 donors, including Game of Thrones producer David Benioff.

(3) GENRE GROWTH. At Amazing Stories David Gerrold has a guest editorial, “Humanity’s’ R&D Department – Science Fiction”.

The evolution of science fiction is a reflection of our changing culture. Attitudes that were commonplace in the past have been recognized as antiquated, quaint, and obsolete.

Our national conversation is the result of our diverse history. We’re not the proverbial melting pot — no, we’re a tossed salad. Every new wave of immigrants adds new ingredients to the mix, new flavors to discover; but all arrive with the same dream, a place to build a better life. We are immigrants, or we are the descendants of immigrants, and as a people we are learning to recognize the strength and value of our national diversity — it gives us a greater sense of the global village.

So, yes, it is inevitable that science fiction authors will explore that diversity — expanded roles for women, new definitions of gender and sexuality, the contributions of People of Color and other non-white ethnicities. We’ve discovered the overlooked skills of the aged and the disabled, the unusual and extraordinary ratiocinations of people who are neuro-atypical. The next generation of authors are exploriong vast new landscapes of possibility — places to explore and discover ways of being human previously unconsidered.

Even as science extends its reach outward, probes journeying as far as Pluto, telescopes peering to the farthest edges of the universe, as we expand our knowledge of what’s out there, some of our most ambitious authors are turning their attention to a different frontier —exploring the workings of the human soul.

We’ve seen some remarkable work, truly transformative — mind bending. Yes, it’s non-traditional — so what? Science fiction has always been non-traditional. It has always been “that weird stuff.” It has always been subtly subversive — and sometimes even openly dangerous.

(4) SPACE FOR YOU. Brandon O’Brien muses about the genre:

Further down he says:

(5) STRANGE HORIZONS. Elsewhere, O’Brien encourages people to participate in the “Strange Horizons Fund Drive 2017”. $4,726 out of $16,000.

(6) AWARD WORTHY. The Hugo Award Book Club waxes nostalgic about “The science fiction art of Erik Nitsche”.

There was no Hugo Award given for Best Artist in 1957 at the 15th Worldcon in London. But since awards were given in other categories, there is no provision in the current rules of the WSFS constitution to award any Retro Hugos for that year. Which is a shame, because some of the finest work from one of the most innovative graphic designers of the era had started verging into the realm of science fiction in 1955 and 1956. The name Erik Nitsche is rarely brought up in conversations of science fiction, but is well-known to historians of graphic design. In 1955, the Swiss-born designer had been hired by General Dynamics to create promotional imagery for the organization’s annual International Conferences on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy (ICPUAE).

(7) WASTED ON THE YOUNG? In The Guardian, Joanna Walsh asserts “All the awards for young writers amount to discrimination”.

A few years ago I wrote an article for the Guardian on ageism in the literary world, about the predilection of publications like Granta, the New Yorker and Buzzfeed for authors under the age of 40. The problem hasn’t gone away and on Tuesday I wrote an open letter to the Royal Society of Literature, after it called for nominations for 40 new fellows under 40.

Encouraging young writers is laudable. After all, it’s increasingly difficult to get started. Publishers’ advances are low and getting lower; arts degrees are more expensive than Stem subjects; social security is fiercely tested. Which must mean that those most able to pay for a writing course, or those most able to take time off work to write while still young, are those most likely to have money, security, contacts, confidence. There’s a correlation between setting an age bar and encouraging the already privileged.

All writers were young once, and many start writing young, but not all begin their careers as published authors at that point. Leaving aside the fact that some only decide to start writing later in life, many factors affect one’s ability to commit to writing seriously. Besides income issues, age bars can lead an organisation into worrying territory. Authors from outside the perceived cultural mainstream who do not already see their voices represented – LGBTQ writers, writers of colour – are sometimes slow to recognise the contribution they can make, or to feel like their voices will be valued.

Age is a feminist issue. Careers, delayed by years looking after children or other dependents, are mostly women; residencies that offer no childcare or require long stays are an easy way to sift female candidates out of contention. Older women are already told every day, in ways ranging from the subtle to the blatant, that they are irrelevant and should shut up. Multiply this by, say, race or gender, and the courage required to put work out is even greater. Or the potential writer might not be the carer, but the cared-for. Writers who live with a disability or ill-health may not start out until they have found a way to write with their condition – which may take longer than this 40-years-old rule allows for.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 9, 1927 — Silent horror-comedy The Cat and the Canary turns 90 today.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian found one it takes a moment to figure out: The Argyle Sweater.
  • It’s Daredevil vs. Spider-man at Bliss.

(10) JUST PLAIN FOWL. The Guardian profiles actor Michael Keaton: “Michael Keaton: ‘There was a lot of bad taste in the 90s and I contributed to that’”.

He has made a career out of taking the unpredictable route: you can never guess his next role, and then he never plays it the way you’d expect. In his breakthrough movie, 1983’s Mr Mom, Keaton played a stay-at-home father at a time when such a concept was almost unheard of, and he played him as a man who has no idea how to do any of the stereotypically masculine jobs around the house; when asked if he’s rewiring the house with 220 volts, Keaton adlibbed, “220, 221, whatever it takes”. He was the dazzlingly frenetic lead in Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice, a largely improvised performance opposite fellow ghosts Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis. With Burton again, he played Batman as a conflicted nerd, rather than a grinning muscle man. In Birdman, he plays an actor so neurotic, he ends up running through Manhattan in his underwear.

(11) PRATCHETT INSPIRES FAST FOOD AD. Arby’s is known for its roast beef, not its Morpork….

(12) HISTORY CORRECTED. Have researchers finally discovered Sweden’s real-life version of Lady Brienne of Tarth or Xena the Warrior Princess? “Viking warrior found in Sweden was a woman, researchers confirm”.

The grave, which Hedenstierna-Jonson describes as the world’s “ultimate warrior Viking grave”, was discovered and excavated by Swedish archeologist Hjalmar Stolpe at the end of the 19th century. Because of the “manly” warrior equipment found in the grave, it was just assumed – rather than proven – that the remains were that of a man.

But a few years ago, Anna Kjellström, an osteologist at the Stockholm University, brought out the remains to study them for another research project and noticed that something was amiss. The cheekbones were finer and thinner than that of a man, and the hip bones were typically feminine. An osteological analysis was carried out, lending even more support to her suspicion.

Now, however, a DNA-analysis has been carried out, clearly confirming that the Viking warrior was indeed a woman.

(13) WEEDING THE PLOT. Your cabal curator, Shaun Duke:

(14) PLUNGE RIGHT IN. Beware: John Scalzi is a language prescriptivist and a plumber.

(15) GRITE LITERATURE. Camestros Felapton has had a busy day, posting chapters from Timothy the Talking Cat’s work in progress, Chiseled McEdifice: Returns.

Just then a gunshot rang out and a bullet ricocheted off his space marine helmet (he was wearing his space marine helmet obviously – look at the cover image). The HUD display flickered on in his helmet (no that isn’t ‘redundant’ I can’t just say ‘his HUD flickered on’ as that sounds perverted to me). Targeting identified a heat source 501.67 metres away to the north east.

“Enhance,” McEdifice vocalised and in some sort of cool special effect way the helmet magnified that area of his vision (with maybe a hi-tech noise like boop-ooohwushboop). It was one of the Treerat gang!

The Treerat Gang: a bunch of outlaws and pagan worshippers of the ancient demonic squirrel god. They had a lasting hate for McEdifice ever since he drove them and their filthy ways out of town and killed their leader in a shoot-out.

“Oh dear!” said McEdifice as he once again made a futile attempt to apply the brakes! Just then the front wheel hit a particularly large pebble! The bike crashed and McEdifice was thrown clear!

KABOOM! The bicycle exploded in a fiery explosion as a consequence of it hitting a rock. McEdifice rushed over and beat back the flames and then with one mighty flick of his shoulders he hoisted up the flaming bike and threw it into a near by pond which I should have probably mentioned earlier.

(16) NO TRUCE IN THE CULTURE WARS. Sadly, Lawrence Person ended his Jerry Pournelle obituary with an irrelevant shot at “SJWs”.

He edited a number of anthologies over the years; when he finally received a Hugo nomination for that, Social Justice Warrior bloc voting made sure he finished below No Award.

Person didn’t think it was important to mention that Pournelle was slated onto the 2016 ballot by the Rabid Puppies, which was the direct cause of that outcome. Or that Pournelle was nominated for eight other Hugos and finished above No Award every time.

(17) MEAT. What are they selling in this video? It’ll come to you eventually. Includes L. Ron and an alien.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Darren Garrison, and David Doering for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Why Amazing Stories Isn’t Back on NBC


By Steve Davidson: [Davidson is the editor and rights holder to Amazing Stories where this story also appears.]

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

  • NBC executed a contract with me to option the use of the name Amazing Stories for a redo of the 80’s Spielberg show.
  • They failed to pay the initial option fee
  • They unilaterally exercised the right to extend it for an additional year (still having not paid me) and have not paid that fee
  • They were notified of a breach of contract and termination of the same in May of this year
  • One week prior to the end of the term of the original contract, they contacted my attorney and demanded that I sign the agreement to exercise the option and license the name and have threatened to sue me if I do not
  • I am of the current opinion that they are going to move forward with making the show and force me to sue them for infringement – if I can pony up the bucks
  • Following the notice of termination, I found another studio that is “eager and excited” to work on an Amazing Stories tv show.
  • To whatever extent you can, I am requesting your assistance in trying to make NBC let go: all I want them to do is acknowledge the receipt of the notice of breach and termination, so that I can move forward with this project.
  • I will gladly answer any questions you may have.

YOU ALL ARE GOING TO WANT TO SIT DOWN FOR THIS.

I’ve gotten tacit approval from my attorneys to lay out, in public, what NBC is/is not doing with the Amazing Stories title.

However. I have to be very careful and circumspect in the language I use so as to avoid engendering some other legal BS.

Also, where names are used, except for the principals, I’m gonna be vague, at least at this stage of the game.

And finally, the purpose of this series of posts is to hopefully generate some public support and to encourage individuals to “help” NBC/Universal Television make the RIGHT choices.

I will be clearly marking my paragraphs as either actual truth (reality) or as SPECULATION. Where speculation is concerned, I will hopefully lay out the facts upon which such speculation is based – with the full understanding that additional facts, facts relied upon that turn out not to be facts and other conclusions can be derived from those same facts.

I must first start with the background. A lot of it is important.

  1. In late 2014 or early 2015, I was contacted by someone identifying themselves as a “producer” working for NBC. VP in charge of something at NBC’s headquarters in New York.

Was I the person responsible for the Amazing Stories website?

  1. I answered in the affirmative. The individual calling went on to make several statements:

A. They’d previously produced the Spielberg show Amazing Stories
B. They were grateful to me for having maintained the name in public awareness
C. they were planning on doing a re-make of the original show
D. I asked if Spielberg was involved. I was assured that he absolutely was not
E. While NBC maintains that they do not need to license the name from me, having previously made a show under that name, they felt that it would be a good thing to pay me “something” in order to keep everyone happy and to reward me for having preserved the name.
F. I started talking patent and trademark licensing stuff, giving her a clue that what she had just said wasn’t passing muster
G. They responded that they could always make the show with a different name. I responded that they certainly could, but then it wouldn’t be Amazing Stories.
H. I followed this with talking about how much I’d love to work with NBC on ringing the show back
I. the NBC rep made it clear that my involvement was not in the cards and then asked if I had an attorney.
J. I answered (archly) “Why yes I do”. They provided contact info for my attorney to get in touch and the call ended at that point.

REALITY

The individual talking to me like a novice in life was, in fact, a VP of NBC’s legal team, not a producer.

SPECULATION

They figured they had a “New Hampshire Hick” on the phone and were trying, from the get go, into bamboozling me into giving away the store REALITY Stephen Spielberg was VERY MUCH involved as subsequent interviews with the show runner – Bryan Fuller – would more than amply illustrate later.

SPECULATION

I believe it was one of my attorneys who stated that they were concealing Spielberg’s involvement because otherwise “people will add zeroes to what they ask for”. First – well duh! Second – attorneys do this kind of thing for their clients but…

  1. Following my arch reply, I forwarded the info to my attorney, never expecting anything to come of this; my thoughts at the time were that, since Spielberg wasn’t involved (hey, I’m gullible!) and since it was obvious they weren’t going to be able to shine me on and get to use the name for a token, it would go the way many previous negotiations had: the other party was not willing to pay/do what I was asking for.

ASIDE

Of course, I was also thinking dollar signs and what I could do with the magazine if it was being promoted on a national scale (through a TV show of the same name). Among the many things I wrote down on the assumption that some kind of deal was to be negotiated were:

A. a link between NBC’s website for the show and my website
B. trademark notice in the end titles
C. doing an online show to complement the TV one – a YouTube channel or streaming show that, among other things, would focus on the story writing, the original stories episodes might be based on, interviewing script writers, doing a recap of the episodes, etc.
D. a cross-promotional program (see the show, read the magazine, read the magazine, see the show)
E. presumably, NBC would be interested in advertising the show on the website…of course they would. If I could land them as an advertiser, I could probably rope in other production companies/genre shows
F. the exclusive right to publish the scripts and/or “novelizations” of the scripts (or the scripts along with a reprint of the original story they were based on

Note that these were deal points, not necessarily deal breakers.

  1. My attorney called NBC, did a little talking and NBC began to prepare an “option to license” contract
  2. We got the proposed contract.

It was for token amounts and essentially demanded that I give up all rights, titles and interest in the name of getting a small check from NBC.

A. I was apoplectic. My attorney was stymied. He is a business attorney. He spends all day working on complicated real estate deals, mergers and acquisitions, partnerships, sales, tax issues & etc. The demands in the contract were strange, non-customary, outside our realm.

B. Based on voluminous bits of info obtained from the SFWA forum, I discussed with my attorney that book and film & etc., rights are pretty complicated, arcane areas of specialty. He responded that we were engaged in a licensing agreement and that he felt pretty comfortable negotiating those.

C. We engaged in, I think, three rounds of back and forth, making changes, sending them to NBC, reading their counter-proposals, the last of which included a paragraph (I kid not) that stated that during the course of NBC’s licensing of the name, I could not do anything with my business without prior consent of NBC. If I had wanted to cash in on the strength of this deal, I’d have to ask permission. If I wanted to add a website, I’d have to ask permission. Hire someone, buy another company…ask permission.

D. It was at that point that the attorney and I both agreed that we needed assistance from someone who spoke their language.

  1. I contacted a member of SFWA who had had numerous Hollywood dealings and requested a contact for their Hollywood legal rep. The info was forthcoming, my attorney and I conference called the Hollywood attorney, laid out the situation, negotiated a deal for representation.
  2. We arranged a conference call with the NBC individuals to introduce the new representative.

ASIDE: Funny how, if YOU call with three people, the other side also has three (or more) people on the line.

A. among other things we learned during that conference call was that the NBC folks knew our new rep (a good thing – gave us some cred) and that they were ALREADY working on the project.

ASIDE/POINT OF INFORMATION

My – we’ll call him B attorney for Business – and I, together, had negotiated several patent and trademark licences; we were surprised that they had started before even approaching me for the license.

What if you can’t license it? What if the cost is too high? What if, unknown to them, someone else has or is in the process of obtaining a license for the same thing?

In our familiarity, the process is more akin to a third-party saying “hey, we might be able to make some bucks by licensing this (patent/trademark). Yep, the numbers look good, lets see if we can negotiate…”, not “lets spend all the money tooling up to make this thing we can only sell if we get a license”

B. H-wood attorney assured us that this was pretty customary practice.

C. we did several more rounds of negotiation, during which time it became PAINFULLY obvious that NBC, despite paying lip service to the “job you did maintaining and building the name” wanted absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with anything Amazing other than their own show.

D. I ended up with a contract that I was informed was “better than average for this kind of thing” and that maintained some of my wishes, though in watered-down language. There “might” be a credit at the end of an episode…depending. I might get the right to publish the scripts – IF I could demonstrate distribution; There’d be a link – maybe. And so forth.

ASIDE

There were many times that I almost killed the deal – excpet: Things I took as threats and speculation by those who ought to know suggested that the show would move ahead with or without me (perhaps as “Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Tales” or some such) and – I’d gotten a major entertainment conglomerate to recognize the validity of the trademarks by entering into a licensing agreement.

and-

if a show were actually produced, there’d be enough seasonal income to float regular publication of a magazine paying SFWA or better rates for fiction and non-fiction.

Those last two managed to outweigh my reservations, which were:

A. I’d not get the cooperation I needed from NBC to float the related projects successfully (who’s going to read/watch Amazing Stories when the Hollywood Reporter is given and breaks all of the inside stuff first?)
B. I’ve not been too impressed with this conglomerates science fiction offerings (SyFy channel being among the holdings), nor with the original incarnation of the Amazing Stories tv show, Spielberg producing or no. those episodes weren’t, for the most part “science fiction”. They were fantasy, or parable or something, but not science fiction.

C. I began to get increasingly concerned that allowing this show to move forward could inherently damage the brand, either by not dealing in SF, or in presenting bad SF…after all was said and done, who was going to have to pick up the pieces? Not NBC, that’s for sure.

  1. Reluctantly (after being assured that we’d reached the end of negotiations and that NBC would not budge an inch on anything else), I signed.

A. the last line of the contract states (approximately), upon signing, Experimenter Publishing will be issued the first year option fee.

B. I waited. NO check

C. I could go on down to ‘Z’ with “I waited”, no check.

  1. Eventually we got in touch with NBC to inquire. This took a while as ALL of the people we had negotiated with were no longer with the company.

In fact, Bryan Fuller, the much touted show runner (on whom I’d based any hope I had for the series being quality) had also left in pursuit of Star Trek (and later American Gods).
NBC had no idea who the replacement was going to be.

  1. OUT OF SEQUENCE

At some time prior to contacting NBC regarding the check, we read in the Hollywood Reporter, in an interview with Bryan Fuller –

“Bryan Fuller reveals how the new Amazing Stories came together, what fans can expect from the updated show, and denies the pesky rumor that original series producer Steven Spielberg is not involved with the future of the show.”

“Not very long! It’s relatively new. I got a phone call from Steven Spielberg’s office asking for a meeting, and I went in and I sat down with Mr. Spielberg and he was very, very complimentary about Hannibal and how well it is produced, and [he] asked me if I would produce Amazing Stories and make sure it was as beautiful as Hannibal, and I said, “I will do whatever you want me to do, Mr. Spielberg.”

That is the correct answer.

Yes.

How involved will he be throughout the course of the show? Or at this point is it all in your hands?

I have had three meetings on Amazing Stories, two of them with Steven Spielberg. So from my experience he is very involved. I’ve pitched him ten stories for episodes and he has approved five of them, and no story moves forward without Mr. Spielberg’s approval.

“I have had three meetings on Amazing Stories, two of them with Steven Spielberg. So from my experience he is very involved.”
(http://www.craveonline.com/entertainment/919521-exclusive-interview-bryan-fuller-american-gods-amazing-stories#Hfoa1tT3x8ISyuyS.99)

That subject was raised and ignored during our conversation.

  1. Instead of a check, we got a demand for financial reporting forms
  2. That’s not what the contract said. if they’d wanted paperwork before issuing the check, they could have put it in the contract.

Quite frankly, I was done with being nice. I’d bent over backwards to make some kind of deal happen – no more.

  1. I and the legal team discussed options including:, notifying them of breach of contract, waiting to see what would happen.
  2. My wife got ill and worrying about the NBC contract was no longer a top priority. (For those who don’t know, Karen died from terminal cancer this past May)
  3. Earlier in the year/late 2016, we received notice from NBC that they were exercising their option to renew their contract for another year (they had two total, renewal being automatic)but the payment for the renewal was not issued and I am still waiting for it.
  4. Well, that was enough. They’d not paid me (meaning the contract was not in force) for the first year – how could they renew a non-existent contract?
  5. Earlier this year, we issued a formal Notice of Breach of Contract and Termination of the same to NBC’s legal offices in New York City in accordance with the terms of the contract.
  6. AFTER receiving the formal notice that the letter had been received, we waited 6 weeks for a response.

None was forthcoming.

  1. About a month ago (at this writing) NBC informed us that they intended to exercise the option in the contract and I needed to sign the licensing agreement but the payment for this was not included either.
  2. Excuse me?
  3. Since issuing the letter of breach and waiting the 6 weeks, I went out on the street, assembled a small team of individuals with experience in television (and other ancillary disciplines), created a new company called “EXPERIMENTER MEDIA LLC) and licensed the media rights to the name Amazing Stories to that company.
  4. I spoke to several studios on a preliminary basis.
  5. I found a studio not only interested but “EAGER AND EXCITED” to work on this project with me – but only of the decks were cleared.
  6. There was consternation at NBC.

We learned that our Breach/Termination letter had never been forwarded by corporate legal to the people responsible for the show project. (That’s not a mitigating factor, just an illustration of what working with these people has been like) Purportedly, EVERYONE was afraid of having to tell Steven Spielberg that they didn’t have the rights to the name…in fact, they hadn’t had them for quite some time.

  1. H-wood attorney informed us that NBC informed him that they were going to sue me to force me to sign the licensing agreement
  2. the original contract (the one no longer in effect owing to the original breach) expired on August 31st of this year.
  3. It is now the 5th of September and we have heard nothing

SPECULATION

NBC is going to ignore the breach, ignore my not signing the licensing agreement and will go forward with the show, intending to force me to spend the money to enforce my rights.

I might not be able to raise the dollars necessary to protect my rights.

OTHER SPECULATION

NBC is not going to risk a trademark infringement case, but will also not accept the notice of breach in order to keep me in limbo, preventing me from moving forward with anyone else.

AN ASIDE OF SPECULATION

Back in the late 1980s, Spielberg negotiated a contract with NBC for an Amazing Stories television show that was literally unprecedented in the annals of broadcast television.

They paid BIG BUCKS to license the name Amazing Stories from its then owner, TSR, Inc. (dungeons and dragons folks).

Strategically, I could not command the same dollar equivalent today that TSR could because TSR could represent themselves as a small but influential company in the entertainment biz, a magazine on the stands of the same name, etc.

Understood. But: TSR never did anything big promoting the show and NBC never touted the magazine.

But that’s not the point. The point is, Spielberg got NBC to license the name, got NBC to agree to budget each episode (1985 dollars) at somewhere between 800k and a million dollars per episode and (AND) an agreement that Spielberg would have complete and total control of the creative process.

Now we’re back again, thirty years later, and again Spielberg is getting NBC to front for him in acquiring the name Amazing Stories.

Something tells me that Steven S (who oddly enough I share a birth date with) wants the name. This time his involvement was hidden/denied. Could it be that he didn’t want to reveal how badly he wants the name?

Why didn’t Spielberg’s reps just get in touch with me to see if it could be acquired? Because of that extra zero I’d be adding?

I’ll tell you all this: no amount of money has EVER persuaded me to do something I thought was wrong.

No sale of Amazing Stories would EVER take place unless I was assured that it was going to be treated properly. (If, say, TOR called me up with an interest in doing something with the name, I’d be more than happy to entertain possibilities – they’ve demonstrated for decades that they know what science fiction is all about. Likewise for a group of fans with the wherewithal…

Get this: Fandom and science fiction come before money –

CONCLUSION

Where I’m at right now and What You Can Do

  1. I’ve got a studio on the hook – if the decks are cleared.

Allow me to translate: if it is clear that NBC is not going to sue and has given up on the project, I have a studio that respects genre and is willing to work on a project, with me, that stands a good change of bringing an Amazing Stories television show, based on good, solid science fiction stories, written by script writers who know BOTH science fiction and scriptwriting, to fruition. The basic plan is to assemble a good team, get funding for a pilot episode or two and then sell the show to a network or streaming service like Amazon, Hulu or Netflix.

(ASIDE: anthologies shows are HOT HOT HOT right now)

  1. I want to move forward and have a hand in creating what I hope could become the best modern presentation of science fiction on the small screen. I’ve brought in people who know how to do that, even if I don’t.
  2. What you can do

A. share this post far and wide permission to reprint in full granted
B. offer up your own stories of Hollywood malfeasance, if you have them (and if they can be related)
C. realize that this really is an underdog story: the studio, part of one of the largest media conglomerates in the world, is trying to put one over on a little guy. Their first move will be to ignore me or try to run me out of money
D. write to NBC HQ, legal department and demand that they honor the notice of breach and termination publicly

NBC/UNIVERSAL 30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY – 10112 (attention Legal)
(212) 664-4444

E. if you can contact Steven Spielberg, Bryan Fuller (@BryanFuller), Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt and on Facebook too), Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn), Emily Gordon (@emilyvgordon), Jane Goldman or any of the other people who are writing scripts for the infringing version of this show, let them know they are working on a project that NBC does NOT have the rights to

F. let the world know that if NBC produces a show titled Amazing Stories, it was done by infringing AND at the expense of the very magazine that helped found this genre and that this not only doesn’t help advance the genre, it plays into the hands of those who have little to no respect for it, obviously don’t understand its nuances (like fans don’t do shit like this) and are helping to undermine and dumb it down.

Pixel Scroll 7/31/17 I’ll Get You, My Pixel, And Your Little Scroll, Too

(1) FANDOM FEST AFTER ACTION REPORT. Randall and Anne Golden decided they’d go to Louisville’s Fandom Fest despite “Weird Al” Yankovic’s cancelling his appearance. They lowered their expectations and lived to tell the tale in a two-part conreport.

We finished our FandomFest experience and were out the door by 12:30. For the math-curious that’s four hours of two-way driving, one hour spent on the line to get in, forty minutes on ticket exchanges, and 110 minutes on actual conventioning. We’ve done worse for less.

By the end of the day at least a couple hundred more fans had packed into the Macy’s and begun turning into a bona fide crowd. Anne noted that today’s attendance was probably more people than the actual Macy’s had entertained in years. But it was never anywhere near 1700. For a show that once welcomed a five-digit annual attendance, that’s an alarming deceleration.

For a show in its twelfth year, with so many years of experience and resources (you’d think, anyway), that’s a drastic sign either of incompetence, evil, or intentional downsizing. We can’t speak for the innumerable fans still upset with their FandomFest fleecing and still crying out for retribution, but I wish more could be done for them.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: on Saturday my wife Anne and I attended FandomFest in Louisville, KY, the twelfth iteration of this entertainment/”comic” convention that’s quite low on comics, heavy on controversy, improper in its online customer service, saddled with a years-old negative image not really helped by the depressing role call of thirty-one canceled guests, and graded a solid F by the Better Business Bureau. But beyond the mountains of baggage, their volunteers were pretty friendly to us in person despite their upper management, and the fifteen actors in the house seemed like decent folks.

Publisher Tony Acree of Hydra Publications talked about the (literal) silver lining he found in the clouds surrounding the con — “Fandom Fest 2017 Day 1 Recap”. (Lots of cosplay photos in his Day 2 and Day 3 recaps.)

What hasn’t changed, is the number of high quality vendors who have been to Fandom year after year. Hydra Publications lucky to be in “Author Corner” along with Stephen Zimmer and Holly Phillippe of Seventh Star Press, the wonderful ladies of Per Bastet, along with Lydia Sherrer, Lacy Marie and my fellow Hydra authors, Arlan Andrew Sr., Dave Creek, Lynn Tincher and Stuart Thaman. Oh. And super editor Josiah Davis.

Despite all the negative news, we sold more books this year on Friday, than we did last year. To you, the fans, we say thank you.

 

Arlan Andrews Sr. and Dave Creek at the Hydra table

Jeff raises an interesting question – when quoted by the press, the co-organizer of Fandom Fest went by the name Myra Daniels.

Noah Bisson posted a video of his walkthrough of the con. Crowding was definitely not an issue.

(2) NO SHOW. Steve Davidson, in “What’s Happening with the TV Show?”, explains why you shouldn’t be looking for an Amazing Stories revival on NBC. For one thing, the check wasn’t in the mail.

I waited for a period of time to determine if I would receive something.  After months of waiting and still receiving nothing, a notice of Termination/Breach of Contract was sent to NBC legal, seeing as how pretty much everybody we had previously been working with was no longer with NBC.  It sure looked to us like Amazing Stories The TV Show had become an orphan:  no showrunner, prior contacts no longer with the company, no word, no checks.

The notice was properly delivered to NBC in May of this year.  Despite the fact that the orginal contract would have expired in August of this year, I had completely lost confidence in two things:  NBC’s ability to treat me properly AND NBC’s ability to deliver a show.

(3) HE SECONDS. Robert J. Sawyer has added himself to the list of people sponsoring the “Separate Fantasy and Science Fiction Hugo Best-Novel Awards Amendment” submitted by Chris Barkley and Vincent Docherty and discussed here last week.

(4) MOVING DAY FINALLY HERE FOR MACMILLAN.  After years of rumors, Macmillan Publishers is really going to bid farewell to the iconic Flatiron Building.

Macmillan Publishers is officially leaving the Flatiron Building, having signed up for 261,000 square feet at Silverstein Properties’ 120 Broadway.

The space will span five full floors, the New York Post reported. In April, sources told The Real Deal the publisher was weighing a move to the Lower Manhattan building, but the size of the space was not clear.

Asking rents at 120 Broadway are in the mid-$50s per square foot, according to the newspaper.

Macmillan is the Flatiron Building’s sole tenant. The property has not been totally empty since it was built more than a century ago. Sorgente Group of America, which owns a majority stake, may rent it out to new tenants or potentially go through with a plan to turn it into a hotel.

(5) SHAKEN UP. A Marvel Comics editor posted a selfie of herself and some coworkers enjoying milkshakes. For this innocuous act, she has been harassed on Twitter: “Female Marvel Comics editor harassed online for milkshake selfie”. (Warning: the harassment is extensively quoted in the article.)

Antos condemned the abuse the following day, writing that “the internet is an awful, horrible, and disgusting place.” She added, “Woke up today to a slew of more garbage tweets and DMs. For being a woman. In comics. Who posted a selfie of her friends getting milkshakes.”

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 31, 1971 — Astronauts David Scott and James Irwin became the first people to drive a vehicle on the Moon.
  • July 31, 1976 — NASA released the famous “Face on Mars” photo, taken by Viking 1.
  • July 31, 1999 — The ashes of astro-geologist Eugene Shoemaker were deposited on the Moon.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • July 31, 1965 – J.K. Rowling

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY WIZARD

  • Born July 31, 1980 – Harry Potter

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY KRYPTONIAN

  • Born July 31, 1966 – Dean Cain

(10) COMIC SECTION. Chip Hitchcock recommends today’s Rhymes With Orange.

(11) FILER ALERT. Greg Machlin extends an invite to all Filers in Helsinki for his very first Worldcon panel as a panelist —

Science Fiction & Fantasy in Musical Theatre

Thursday 16:00 – 17:00, 103 (Messukeskus)

Wicked, Into the Woods, Rocky Horror, Little Shop of Horrors – fantasy and science fiction have long been represented in the musical theatre. The panelists discuss their favorites and also perhaps some not-so successful SF musicals.

Emily January, Sari Polvinen (M), Ada Palmer, Greg Machlin, Sami Mustala howeird

Also on the panel: Ada Palmer (Too Like The Lightning).

Machlin adds: As someone who’s written and had produced a fair amount of sci-fi/fantasy theatre (Keith Haring: Pieces of a Life in L.A. in 2014; the one-act “Sushi” all over the place), this is my jam. I may, if the other panelists are patient, present a song from an actual sci-fi musical I wrote the book and lyrics for, The Great Swiss Cheese Conspiracy Theory.

(12) MARLOWE MAKES FINALS. Congratulations to Francis Hamit who is a finalist in the London 2017, New Renaissance Screenwriting Competition. The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony, on August 20.

Christopher Marlowe

Feature Screenplay • Drama, Thriller, War, History, Biography

Francis Hamit 

COUNTRY  U S A

The poet, playwright and spy lives in two worlds at a time when politics was religion and vice-versa. He is a brilliant playwright and an effective spy but his intemperate ways and desire for power as well as fame combined with a free thinking pose of atheism eventually lead to his death at the hands of his fellow agents at the order of Queen Elizabeth herself. Timeline is from 1585-1593 and includes real events such as the Babington Plot, The execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the sailing of the Spanish Armada. Characters based upon real personalities of the time, and extensive research.

(13) LET DARKNESS FALL. The Planetary Post, hosted by Robert Picardo, is devoted to the Total Solar Eclipse coming on August 21.

In this month’s episode, we explore all things eclipse, including a special visit to NASA JPL to see a spacecraft that can create artificial eclipses!

…The Total Solar Eclipse on August 21st is coming up! We’re getting ready with the U.S. National Parks Service and a new Junior Ranger Eclipse Explorer activity book. Also, Starshade is new technology being studied by a team at JPL/NASA and Picardo has the inside scoop.

 

(14) ON BOARD. The Borg site is impressed with this tie-in edition of the classic game: “Monopoly–Planet of the Apes means a tie-in madhouse for Hasbro”.

For its next franchise tie-in, Hasbro has partnered with 20th Century Fox Consumer Products to release this summer’s strangest mash-up game: Monopoly: Planet of the Apes Retro Art EditionIt’s not just your typical Monopoly tie-in with a popular franchise.

For Monopoly: Planet of the Apes Retro Art Edition, Hasbro tapped artist Dan Perillo to give the game a design it might have had, had it been released when the movie premiered in 1968.  Perillo is known for his retro style.  One of his works was featured in last year’s Star Trek: 50 Years/50 Artists project (reviewed here at borg.com), and he’s produced some stunning work for Mondo.  Perillo’s work for the new Monopoly game should appeal to Planet of the Apes fans, but it’s also a dose of silly fun that will appeal to fans of all things retro.

The standard game is altered–slightly.  Instead of paying an Income Tax, in the new edition you get strung up on a spit by your hands and feet and led off.  Instead of the joy of landing on Boardwalk you get to discover the ruins of the Statue of Liberty.  And that’s Taylor’s marooned space capsule instead of the valuable Short Line railroad.  Perillo created six character tokens to choose from: Taylor, Cornelius, Zira, Dr. Zaius, Nova, or a gorilla general (it looks like you could play the gorilla as either General Ursus from Beneath of the Planet of the Apes, Chief of Security Urko from the TV series, or General Aldo from Conquest of the Planet of the Apes).  As with all Monopoly editions, the four corners of the gameboard never change.

(15) NEVERTHELESS, HBO PERSISTED. The Wrap, in “HBO Responds to #NoConfederate: Slavery Drama Will Be Handled ‘With Care and Sensitivity’”, says that the hashtag #NoConfederate was the #1 hashtag last weekend. Despite the protests HBO replied they are going to develop this series.

A campaign protesting the planned HBO series “Confederate” flooded social media Sunday night, with viewers tweeting #NoConfederate in massive numbers during “Game of Thrones,” propelling the hashtag to Twitter’s No. 1 trending spot in the U.S. and No. 2 worldwide.

“We have great respect for the dialogue and concern being expressed around ‘Confederate,’” HBO responded in a statement. “We have faith that [writers] Nichelle, Dan, David and Malcolm will approach the subject with care and sensitivity. The project is currently in its infancy so we hope that people will reserve judgment until there is something to see.”

“Confederate” tells an alternate version of history in where the South has seceded from the Union… and slavery has remained legal and continued into the modern era.

(16) WHITE HOUSE BEAT. Camestros Felapton has a scoop: “Breaking news: Talking cat named Whitehouse Communications Director”.

Followed by another scoop: “Breakin News: Timothy the Talking Cat Fired as Whitehouse Communications Director”.

Both stories are dated August 1. How is anybody supposed to compete with someone who gets tomorrow’s cat news today?

(17) THRONE QUESTIONS. Did Camestros and Melisandre graduate from the same J-school? …Vulture has burning questions after “The Queen’s Justice,” the latest episode of “Game of Thrones”:

  • Did Varys get a tan on Dragonstone?
  • Does Melisandre know how Varys will die?
  • Will it all come down to two women battling for the Iron Throne?
  • Will Theon ever redeem himself?
  • What fate awaits Yara?
  • Which city is a worse place to live: Gotham or King’s Landing?
  • Will Cersei really marry Euron? And is Euron actually the best thing to ever happen to Jaime?
  • How has Cersei not yet grown out that pixie cut?
  • Why is Littlefinger quoting True Detective to Sansa?
  • We know, Baelish, time is a flat circle. #hbocrossover
  • When will Jon find out about his parentage?
  • Will Jorah and Sam forge the alliance between Jon and Dany?
  • Was that seriously all we get to see of Casterly Rock?

(18) CULTURE WARRIORS. At Nerdist, “Darth Vader and Captain Picard Face Off for a Sci-Fi Debate”. Click through to see the debate between two toys.

When you have toys, all things are possible, including a dream crossover between Star Wars and Star Trek: The Next Generation! In the new episode of Toy Shelf, we finally get to see what happens when Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Federation starship Enterprise encounters the Dark Lord of the Sith: Darth Vader!

Keep in mind that these are toys that know they are toys. And Vader catches Picard as he goes for more of a cowboy diplomacy by swinging a lightsaber around. It’s pretty much the laser sword of Picard’s dreams, and if Vader was looking to tempt the Captain to the Dark Side of the Force, then he would have a pretty good head start.

(19) RARITY. Ashley Hoffman of TIME, in “A Super Rare Copy of Super Mario Bros. Just Sold for $30,000 on eBay”, says that a copy of “Super Mario Bros. that has been sealed since its release in 1985 and never opened just sold for $30,100 on eBay

To outsiders, that may seem like a high cost to become the proud owner of a game, but they might not appreciate the most exciting feature, which distinguishes this Nintendo Entertainment System game from all those unwrapped $10 versions: a hangtag on the back that indicates the copy originates from back when video games hung on pegs in stores.

“They said the reason that game went for so much was because Mario was always sold in the system,” CEO Drew Steimel told Mashable quoting the experts of Reddit. “You bought it with the system, it came in the box. This particular copy was from before that happened, before Nintendo decided to bundle them. They only did it for a short time.”

You read that right. No box for this game, hence its final price.

(20) BOTTLED LIGHTNING. I would have answered yes if the question had been, “Should I use this to launch a torpedo?”

(21) HARD SCIENCE FICTION. The 1910 Thomas Edison production A Trip To Mars begins with “The Discovery of Reverse Gravity.”

[Thanks to rcade, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Greg Machlin, Francis Hamit, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Pixel Scroll 7/11/17 Be Kind To Your Scroll-Footed Friends, For A Duck May Be Somebody’s Pixel!

(1) NEW WFA TROPHIES ON THE WAY. Kim Williams, chair of the 2016 World Fantasy Con, told readers of WFC’s Facebook page that last year’s WFA winners, given certificates at the 2016 award ceremony in Columbus, OH will soon be receiving copies of the new statuette created by Vincent Villafranca.

Vincent Villafranca’s design was chosen to replace the Lovecraft bust trophy by the World Fantasy Awards Administration and the Board of the World Fantasy Convention following a year-long public competition.

(2) OMNI REBOOTS AMID RIGHTS LITIGATION. Penthouse Global Media, on July 10, announced the acquisition of OMNI magazine and that its upcoming issue is slated for print publication in late October.

“As Penthouse Global Media enters its second year under new ownership, our driving principle is to put all of the pieces of the brand back together again.  As a result of decades of neglect, much of this company’s brilliant legacy was lost…until now,” stated Penthouse CEO Kelly Holland. “I am proud to announce that one of those casualties, OMNI—the magazine of science and science fiction, heralded as one of Guccione’s most iconic brands—is once again a part of the Penthouse family where it belongs.  Thanks in large part to Pamela Weintraub, one of OMNI‘s original editors, who had the foresight to bring the brand back to life by re-registering the trademarks and launching a digital site, she, along with many of the original OMNI staff, will deliver the award-winning magazine to newsstands once again.”

Only days ago, to protect its intellectual property, Penthouse Global Media sued Jerrick Media, and various other defendants including Jerrick Media Holdings Inc., Jeremy Frommer, and actor Jared Leto, for copyright infringement, trademark infringement, unfair competition and false advertising, among other claims.

The lawsuit states:

Despite the fact that an application for registration of the OMNI Marks in connection with magazines had already been filed with the USPTO by Penthouse’s predecessor in interest, signaling to the world that the OMNI Marks were not available for use by Defendants, in 2013, Defendants Frommer and Schwartz again willfully and blatantly disregarded the intellectual property rights of others and began planning to publish an online science and science fiction magazine using the OMNI Marks and to republish and sell archival material from the original OMNI magazine. 29.

On or about June 27, 2013, Defendant Jerrick Ventures, LLC filed an application for registration of the purported trademark OMNI REBOOT (Serial No. 85,972,230), which registration was refused by the United States Patent and Trademark Office because of a likelihood of confusion with a registered OMNI Mark. On or about May 31, 2016, Jerrick Ventures, LLC filed a cancellation  proceeding before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) seeking to cancel the OMNI Mark (Cancellation No. 92063829). Because Penthouse General Media seeks a declaration in the present action that its registered OMNI Marks are valid and should not be cancelled, it will seek to have the cancellation proceeding  before the TTAB stayed pending the judgment in this action. 30.

Despite knowing of the existence of the registered OMNI Marks, and despite being denied registration of Omni Reboot, Defendants nonetheless  proceeded to willfully and blatantly infringe on the OMNI Marks by operating an online magazine at https://omni.media, which it refers to as OMNI Reboot, that not only uses the OMNI Marks in connection with the publication of an online magazine featuring science and science fiction topics, but also contains archival material from the original OMNI magazine, including magazine articles and reproductions of OMNI magazine covers, all without the permission or consent of Penthouse.

Jeremy Frommer’s claims to the rights are allegedly based on an auction purchase:

Frommer bought at an auction erotic photography, films and historical documents, among other things associated with Guccione and Penthouse. He then began reselling those and other related items online, according to the complaint, and allowing the public to view Caligula for a fee. That triggered the first round of this fight in bankruptcy court in 2013, but the parties mutually dismissed their claims without prejudice.

Penthouse’s Holland minimizes that claim:

“We at Penthouse don’t believe a person can acquire the rights to a brand simply by stumbling upon some of its products,” Holland said. “If you buy a DC comic book at a garage sale it doesn’t give you the rights to make a ‘Wonder Woman’ movie, nor does one have a right to our legacy because they found an old Omni magazine.”

(3) PUBLICLY CHOSEN GARGOYLE. The Washington Post’s Marylou Tousignant found some items of fannish interest at the Washington National Cathedral.

Washington National Cathedral, the sixth-largest cathedral in the world, has 215 stained-glass windows. The most popular holds a piece of moon rock brought back by the Apollo 11 astronauts in 1969.

Another must-see is Darth Vader, carved into the cathedral’s north side. The “Star Wars” villain was one of four winning designs by middle-schoolers in a 1985 contest. Vader is one of 1,242 weird creatures staring down from the cathedral’s neck­stretching exterior.

(4) EYECATCHING. Marvel Comics will release lenticular covers for Marvel Legacy.

The biggest stories and most epic team-ups come to MARVEL LEGACY this fall, and now you can hold the past and the future in your hands! Today, Marvel is proud to announce that all of the Marvel Legacy homage variants will be available as lenticular covers – a true celebration of Marvel’s history and expansive universe!

As seen on Newsarama, all of Marvel Legacy’s homage variants were previously unveiled, showcasing the new Marvel Legacy line-up and classic covers of the past. Don’t miss your chance to own a part of Marvel history – enhance your collection with all of Marvel Legacy’s lenticular covers, coming to comic shops this fall.

(5) DID YOU WONDER? What will the next Wonder Woman movie be about? ” Rumor of the day: Diana will face off against the USSR in Wonder Woman 2″.

With Russia in the news so much these days, The Wrap has said in an unsourced report that Wonder Woman 2 will take place during the 1980s and feature Diana of Themyscira going head-to-head with agents of the Soviet Union.

That means that like its predecessor, Wonder Woman 2 will be a period piece — only not as far in the past as the World War I setting of Diana’s first standalone adventure.

Although Patty Jenkins is not officially confirmed to return as director, she is said to be developing the script for Wonder Woman 2 with DC Entertainment co-president Geoff Johns. And while the story will allegedly feature the USSR in an antagonistic capacity, there’s no word on whether other villains from Wonder Woman’s published history will appear as well.

(6) THE PAYOFF. Marvel says Secret Empire #9 will reveal Steve Rogers’ secret. On sale August 23.

When Steve Rogers was revealed to be an agent of Hydra due to the manipulations of Red Skull, the Marvel Universe was rocked to its core. Now, it’s the moment fans have been waiting for – and you’re not going to want to miss this reveal!

What is the secret of Steve Rogers? And how will it affect the Marvel Universe as we know it?

(7) WHY IT’S HARDER TO FIND GOOD REVIEWS. Speculiction’s Jesse Hudson, in “And the drop is due to”,  charts the site’s declining number of book reviews against his rising familiarity with PlayStation 3 games. He is in awe of the current gaming technology.

It’s no secret that modern video games are exponentially more realistic and immersive than their pixel and dot forebears.  For the unaware, the degree of realism and immersion in today’s video games is essentially one degree removed from cinematics—a gap that will be covered in the next few years, for sure.  What this means is that game creators are able to put players, as much as is possible, into the shoes of the characters running around the imagined worlds on screen.  Being a detective, mighty warrior (or warrioress), or space marine is this close.  Game developers have done all the work to give you agency in what are essentially silver screen experiences.  Instead of watching a movie, you become part of the movie, directing the character, depending on the game, through the story.  I still fully appreciate novels for retaining the distance between sensual and imagined reality—for forcing the reader to use their imagination.  But I also appreciate what modern gaming is doing to virtually eliminate this distance; if the game’s world and gameplay are well-developed and unique, then so too can be the experience.

(8) THOUGHTS THUNK WHILE THINKING. Nancy Kress tells about her Big Idea for Tomorrow’s Kin at Whatever.

Your mind does not work the way you think it does.

You probably assume that you consider data and come to rational conclusions. But all too often, people don’t take into account such pesky tendencies as confirmation bias (“This fact confirms what I already believe so it gets more weight”) Or polarization (“This situation is all good/bad”). Or emotionalism (“I feel this so it must be true”), a need for control (“I’m looking at what I can change and nothing else”), presentism (“The future will be like the present only maybe a little more so”), or scapegoating (“If this isn’t as I wish it to be, someone must be to blame!”)

When I set out to extend my novella “Yesterday’s Kin” into the novel Tomorrow’s Kin, which takes the story ten years farther along, I wanted to write about these distortions in your thinking. Oh, not you in particular (how do I know what you’re thinking as you read this—maybe it’s “She doesn’t mean me. I’m different.”) What interested me—especially in the current political climate—is the public mind as it relates to science and the perception of science….

(9) CROWLEY’S TIME HAS COME. Tor.com’s Matthew Keeley has published a brief profile of John Crowley, “Predicting the Future and Remembering the Past with John Crowley”, an author he notes is best known for his book Little, Big, but regrets is still not very well-known outside writing circles. The article aims to change this situation:

At Readercon a few years ago, I attended a panel on favorite science fiction and fantasy books. One author, one of the best working today, talked about the near-impossibility of writing a book so perfect as John Crowley’s Little, Big. There were wistful sighs from writers in the audience and nodded agreements from other panelists. Everyone in the room at that most bookish convention recognized that competing with Crowley was impossible.

Yet in many fan circles Crowley remains unknown. This literary master of the hermetic, hidden, and esoteric has for too long been as hidden as the obscure histories, gnostic theorists, and addled visionaries that populate his work. Despite the many awards; despite the praise of luminaries both inside the genre community, like Ursula K. Le Guin and Thomas Disch, and outside it, like Harold Bloom; despite his inclusion in both Bloom’s Western Canon and Gollancz’s Fantasy Masterworks, most fantasy readers don’t read him. Perhaps this is the year that changes.

(10) MARTINELLI OBIT. Italian-born actress Elsa Martinelli died of cancer in Rome on July 8. She was 82. Her genre work included The 10th Victim (1965), based on the Robert Sheckley novel.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 11, 1997 — On this day in 1997, Carl Sagan’s Contact entered theatres.
  • July 11, 2014 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes premiered theatrically.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born July 11, 1899 – E.B. White
  • Born July 11, 1913 — Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger — better known by his pseudonym, Cordwainer Smith

(13) JEOPARDY! CONTESTANT. On the July 11 episode of Jeopardy!, Kelly Lasiter, from the St. Louis area, admitted she’s an SF fan who attends conventions in the area, and went to the 2016 Worldcon in Kansas City.

She won the game, with $22,800, and will play again on Wednesday.

(14) WHERE THE GEEKNERDS ARE. Examined Worlds’ Ethan Mills praises a convention’s community building in “CONvergence 2017 Report”.

The deeper thing that CONvergence taught me back in the early-mid 2000’s was the value of cons as a space for community, something I’ve discussed before with regard to other cons.  While being a geek/nerd is not as uncool as it used to be, it’s still great to have a place where you can let your geek flag fly proudly.  No matter how intense your nerdery is, someone at con is nerdier.  You may be wearing Vulcan ears, but someone else may have a full Starfleet uniform and android-colored contacts to dress up as Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation (an actual costume I saw at CONvergence).

The openness of a place where people can love what they love without derision or judgment is a beautiful thing.  This aspect of fandom seems to be unappreciated by small but annoying parts of fandom like the Rabid Puppies and Gamergaters, but it’s safe to say that for the vast majority of fans, this is precisely what fandom is all about….

(15) WHERE TO SELL. Now available: the “SFWA Market Report for July” compiled by David Steffen.

(16) A DAY AT THE PLANT. At Amazing Stories, Adam Roberts is interviewed about his contribution to an anthology,

Gary Dalkin for Amazing Stories: ‘Black Phil’, your story in Improbable Botany, packs a huge amount into 20 pages. It combines the scientific, the political and the personal in a way which is ultimately very moving, and does so while gradually revealing to the reader a startlingly imagined near future earth. There is a lot of specific detail in the story and I’m wondering what your approach to writing a piece like this is, how much do you have planned out before you begin writing, and how much comes to you through the writing process? I’m asking this in part because I’m wondering how quickly you write, given you are a prolific author of highly imaginative, intricately constructed novels and have a day job as a professor of literature as well.

Adam Roberts: My approach to writing has changed, I suppose. When I was starting out as a writer I would generally plan things out fairly carefully; now I have more technical fluency, and can trust my hands to produce more of what’s needed if I let them loose on the keyboard. Not entirely though. It’s a balance, as with so much of life. If a writer maps every beat of every chapter in a detailed plan before she ever writes a word, the danger is that the actual writing turns into a chore, merely filling in the blocks in the grid, and if the writer gets bored writing then that tends to communicate itself to the reader. On the other hand, simply diving in with no sense of where you’re going or how the story is going to unfold, in my experience, will result in something too baggy and freeform, understructured and messy. So the praxis for me is threading a path between those extremes: having a sense of the overall shape of the thing, and which spots I definitely want to hit as I go, but working out some of the specifics as I write the first draft, to keep at least elements of it fresh. With short stories the process is a little different to novels: plot is constrained by the shorter space, so there’s a greater need for other things to hold the whole together – a governing metaphor, for instance, that can be unpacked and explored, provided it’s eloquent enough. In ‘Black Phil’ I was working with blackness as a colour and blackness as a mood, which meant that the story needed to make a certain kind of emotional sense, and the other elements were rather subordinated to that.

(17) IF YOU WANT TO GIVE HER A MISS. Canberra sff author Gillian Polack puts a different spin on the typical convention schedule announcement in “How to avoid me at Worldcon 75”.

This is the post you’ve been waiting for. Now you can plan your Helsinki visit knowing you can avoid me. You’ll also know that I can’t redeem myself with chocolate, for I have tiny scraps of Australia to give everyone instead. Ask me nicely and you could take home some opal or Australian turquoise or fool’s gold. (When I say ‘scraps of Australia’ I mean it quite literally.) Asking me politely would, of course, mean not avoiding me.

I can only be at a small bit of the auction, but I’m bringing Tim tams, a blow-up kangaroo and other exciting things to add to the bidding frenzy. This emans I’ll be there … sort of…for some of the time and my luggage will represent me the rest of the time….

(18) GOOD REVIEWS. The other day I said someone’s Hugo nominee reviews were lacking who hadn’t completely read most of the stories. Now, at the opposite end of the spectrum, I’ve encountered the hyperfeasance of Garik16 who claims, “I managed to read every nominee this year before the nominations were announced except for A Closed and Common Orbit (Yes I know I’m hipster bragging here lol).”

More importantly, his post, “Reviewing the Hugo Nominees: Best Novel”, is rich in analysis and substantive comments.

  1. Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

Review on twitter here:

Disclaimer: I’ve just finished this books sequel (Raven Strategem, review forthcoming next week), and will try to separate the two books since its fresh in my mind. Ninefox Gambit is a book that is Challenging to read.  Whereas other books might try to infodump explanations of how extremely complicated made up SF or Fantasy worlds work, Ninefox Gambit just drops you right in the world, made up terminology and all, and trusts you to figure it out on your own.  It’s probably a bit too far in this direction honestly – a short story in the same universe for example explains a little bit more and there’s no reason this book couldn’t have done the same – but if you can get past it, the result is just phenomenal.

This is a universe where calendars followed are of maximum importance, where mathematical calculations allow for armies to create devastating attacks on a battlefield, and where immortality may be very possible.  This book deals largely with the efforts of a mathematical genius but otherwise standard infantry soldier getting stuck with an undead general in her head – an undead general who is both brilliant and known for massacreing his own forces.  The interplay between them, as well as how the world works around them, results in a truly fantastic book.

This is one of those books that will have you going back after your first reread to find out things you might have missed, and to see how things read after the reveal later in the book. The book isn’t light in tone – the dominant government relies on ritual torture to keep its technology working for example – but it is absolutely gripping if you can get past the terminology at the start and contains some pretty strong themes of the values of freedom, justice and sacrifice.

I suspect it’ll come in 2nd in voting, but this has my vote.

And for bonus reading, here’s what Garik16 thinks about the Hugo nominated novellas, novelettes, and short stories.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Rob Thornton, Rich Lynch, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]