Enjoy Langford’s New Beachcombing Collection

David Langford’s fans get to unwrap a gift early this year – his new collection Beachcombing and Other Oddments is officially released today. Inside they’ll find 78,000 words of his fanzine-published essays, and speeches and silliness.

The contents include the much-acclaimed convention talks “Live Thog’s Masterclass”, “The Secret History of Ansible” and “Twenty Years of Uproar” (a ramble through favourite fanzine humour); offbeat pop-science articles for Fortean Times and elsewhere, on such subjects as perpetual motion, violet-ray healing machines, St Hildegard of Bingen, and how to detect the Number of the Beast in practically any name you choose; a handful of recipes and another handful of Drabbles; several introductions to SF books; and many instalments of unreliable autobiography.

It’s Langford’s first collection of this kind since the Hugo-nominated The Silence of the Langford (1996).

Buy the trade paperback from Lulu for $13.50, or as an Ansible Editions Ebook (in all the leading formats) for £5.00.

Pixel Scroll 12/3/20 Scrolls Are Seldom What They Seemeth, Mithril Masquerades As Scrith

(1) DISCON III ASKS QUESTIONS. Should DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon, move its date, should it emphasize virtual or in-person participation? The committee has launched a survey to find what fans think:  

We’re working hard to figure out the best path forward for our Worldcon next year and we need to hear from you! Please take this brief 2-question poll which seeks your preference between shifting DC III to December 15-19, 2021, with a high probability to be an in-person Worldcon, or keeping with our existing August 25-29, 2021, which would be mostly virtual with the potential for limited in-person activities.

Anyone is welcome to take the DisCon III Date Survey – you don’t have to be a member.

(2) STOKERCON CONTINGENCY PLAN. For now, the Horror Writers Association is planning on StokerCon 2021 being an in-person event next May in Denver – but what if that changes?

…As of now, we intend to hold the convention as scheduled. At the same time, we are working on contingency plans should that not be possible. We are discussing the issue on an ongoing basis with The Curtis, who are sensitive to the situation and the needs and concerns of our attendees. 

If for some reason we cannot hold the convention as planned, any change will be announced more than sixty days before May 20th so that those who wish to change their plans may still obtain a refund for their registration fee and change or cancel hotel reservations and alter travel plans. We recommend those planning long distance travel who wish to purchase airfare or other tickets in advance look into refundable options and travel insurance. 

If for some reason we cannot hold StokerCon™ 2021 in person, we will look into the possibility of a virtual convention and have begun investigating options. This contingency is too far into the future to make concrete plans, though we will work to ensure a complete and enjoyable convention….

(3) EREWHON BOOKS: THE PUBLISHER ANSWERS QUESTIONS. Glitchy Pancakes episode 119 interviews Liz Gorinsky, Hugo-winning editor who’s now publisher of Erewhon Books.

[GLITCHY PANCAKES] Why don’t we start out and talk about your most recent venture Erewhon Books. This is really interesting because what i was personally curious about is after so many years working as an editor what made you want to take the leap and like hang out your own shingle and go into like the full scale publishing?

[LIZ GORINSKY] So yeah it was a tour of basically my entire adult career before that I did one internship in the industry which is DC Comics and then a long time at Tor, and it was great but I guess it was a combination — Publishing is intensely cyclical we had a three season schedule so just imagine doing the same thing three times a year for 15 years and like even if it’s doing a thing like working on books that you love, it is, you know, kind of repetitive in some ways. And i think it was also, you know, many great things were going on but I think that like around the time that i was working there there was like I guess a drive towards becoming a little bit more professional and a little bit more corporate and, I think, ultimately to the benefit of the company, but I felt like sort of cowboy territory when I started that we were just like a bunch of science fiction weirdos, and they still are to be sure, but there was also kind of a like let’s fit a little bit more into the greater Macmillan culture. So I was basically at the point where I could consider kind of working independently for a little while. So i was attempting to leave and go freelance and try to do some freelance editing for a while to focus on some other things that I was interested in exploring, just not do the same thing over and over again for a little while. Then some folks found me and they said would you like to start a new speculative fiction company that will be funded and you can do whatever you want, basically. I spent a little while wrestling with imposter syndrome about that and then, basically, like, you know, enough people said some variations on how can you not do that that. I kind of figured that i had to do that and that’s where we started…

(4) CONDENSED CREAM OF CONZEALAND. Morgan Hazelwood has completed a series of reports on some of the panels at CoNZealand, the 2020 Worldcon.

Here’s the list of panels I managed to squeeze in:

  • Cultures and Their Myths
  • Accessible Magic
  • World-Building: Economics
  • What’s In A Name? Characters in Fiction
  • Stranger in a Strange Head: Imposter Syndrome
  • Spirits Abroad and At Home
  • Fairy Tale Contract Law
  • Constructed Languages
  • Writing SFF From The Margins
  • What Fanfiction Can Teach Genre Writers
  • Writing For Young Adults
  • and last, but certainly not least!
  • In Space No One Can See You Hide The Evidence: Crimes in Space

(5) THICK AS A BRICK: David Langford has added his vast compilation of a decade’s worth of Ansible (2011-2020) to the TAFF ebooks library. It’s a free download, however, if you feel moved to donate to the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund that would be a good thing.

Issues 282 to 401 of the infamous Hugo-winning SF/fan newsletter. First published from January 2021 to December 2020 and archived online here. Compiled into an Ansible Editions ebook for the TAFF site on 3 December 2020, with cover logo (compressed second-series version) by Dan Steffan and artwork by Atom. 429,000 words.

(6) LETTERS FROM VONNEGUT. In “Satirist to the Galaxy” in The American Scholar, Anne Matthews reviews Love, Kurt, a collection of 226 letters Kurt Vonnegut wrote during World War II to the woman he would marry, which give new insights into Vonnegut’s views about war.

…At SS gunpoint, Vonnegut dug Dresden’s dead from the rubble, an extreme tutorial in entropy and decay for the Cornell biochemistry major. He was only 22, raised in a prosperous German-speaking family proud of its Old World ties. The funeral pyres of Dresden became the core of his moral vision and the engine of his later literary fame, but the price of witnessing was nearly unbearable, and everyone who tried to love him paid it, too.

Two women kept him sane. His big sister Alice was his muse, a spiritual twin. His future wife, Jane Cox, a friend since kindergarten days, also a would-be writer, became his literary umpire. “One peculiar feature of our relationship is that you are the one person in this world to whom I like to write,” he told her in 1943. “If ever I do write anything of length—good or bad—it will be written with you in mind. … And let’s have seven children xxxxxxx.” Two weeks after V-J Day, they married and raised, yes, seven children, three of their own plus four young nephews, orphaned after their father’s commuter train fell into Newark Bay two days before Alice died of cancer….

(7) FLING CAUTION TO THE WINDS. James Davis Nicoll finds “Five Stories Driven by a Disregard for Basic Safety” for Tor.com readers.

Nothing delivers unrequested adventures quite like normalization of deviance. It works like this:

Suppose one has a safety protocol. Suppose one decides that this protocol is onerous for some reason: it consumes extra time, it requires extra effort, or worst of all, it costs money. So, one shaves a step here and a precaution there. And nothing happens! Clearly, the whole shebang was not necessary in the first place. Clearly the thing to do here is to keep skipping steps until circumstances line up wrong and you’re looking at a trip to the emergency room or a burning pile of expensive rubble.

The end results of normalization of deviance are undesirable in reality. But…the process is oh-so-irresistible for authors looking for ways to drop their characters neck-deep in a pig lagoon. Take these five examples…

(8) TRAILER TIME. Wetware will be released December 11.

WETWARE is set in a near future where there are tough and tedious jobs no one wants to do – and people down on their luck who volunteer for genetic modifications to make them right for this work — in slaughterhouses, infectious disease wards, landfill and other hard jobs. With business booming, programmers at Galapagos Wetware up the stakes by producing high-end prototypes, Jack (Bret Lada) and Kay, for more sensitive jobs like space travel, deep cover espionage or boots on the ground for climate or resource conflicts.Galapagos genetic programmer Hal Briggs (Cameron Scoggins) improvises as he goes on what qualities to include or delete in his gene splicing for Jack and, especially, Kay, to whom he develops a dangerous attachment. Then word gets out that Jack and Kay have escaped, before Briggs has completed his work. As Briggs scrambles to track his fugitive prototypes, he makes a provocative discovery that changes everything.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • December 3, 1965 — Fifty five years ago this evening, The Wild Wild West’s “The Night of the Human Trigger” was first aired on CBS. It starred Robert Conrad as Jim West and Ross Martin as Artemus Gordon with Burgess Meredith as the guest star this episode. He’s a mad scientist named Professor Orkney Cadwallader that’s using nitroglycerin to set off the earthquakes of horrendous size. The episode uses a number of genre tropes including Chekhov’s gun, mad scientist, deus ex machina and soft glass.  You can legally see it here, though oddly enough it’s not up on the CBS All Access app.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 3, 1922 – Donald H. Tuck. From his home in Tasmania with help from fans round the world he built a great card index, published A Handbook of Science Fiction and Fantasy (Special Committee Award, Chicon III the 20th Worldcon), then The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy (Best Nonfiction Book, L.A.con II the 42nd Worldcon – Australia’s first Hugo).  Guest of Honor at Aussiecon One the 33rd Worldcon, though he could not attend.  Big Heart, our highest service award.  (Died 2010) [JH]
  • Born December 3, 1937 – Morgan Llywelyn, age 83.  A score of novels, three dozen shorter stories for us; much other work in historical fiction and nonfiction.  Exceptional Celtic Woman of the Year award.  Nat’l League of American Penwomen Novel of the Year award, Irish-American Heritage Committee (she then still lived in the U.S.) Woman of the Year award.  Two Bisto awards, Reading Ass’n of Ireland award.  A horsewoman; missed the U.S. Olympics team in dressage by .05 per cent.  [JH]
  • Born December 3, 1949 – Malcolm Edwards, age 71.  Fanzine, Quicksilver.  Edited FoundationInterzoneVector.  A hundred fifty essays, letters, reviews there and in The Alien CriticNY Rev of SFSF CommentarySF Monthly, Bleiler’s SF WritersSpeculation.  Guest of Honour at Loncon 3 the 72nd Worldcon.  Chair of SF at Gollancz (retired 2019), edited its SF Masterworks.  Not his fault that Peter Weston knowing no better wrote earlier as “Malcolm Edwards”, which we eventually sorted out.  [JH]
  • Born December 3, 1953 – Doug Beason, Ph.D., age 67.  Eight novels with Kevin Anderson, one with Ben Bova, two more, a score of shorter stories, for us; five novels, two nonfiction books, on next-door topics.  Science columns in Analog and SF Age.  Retired Air Force colonel.  Fellow of Amer. Physical Society.  Nat’l Defense Univ. President’s Strategic Vision award.  [JH]
  • Born December 3, 1955 Stephen Culp, 65. His first genre appearance was in Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday followed by being in the much different James and the Giant Peach. His next role is as Commander Martin Madden in the extended version of Star Trek: Nemesis, before showing up in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as Congressman Wenham. He also had a recurring role on Enterprise as Major Hayes. (CE) 
  • Born December 3, 1958 Terri Windling, 62. Author of The Wood Wife, winner of the Mythopoeic Award for Novel of the Year, she has deservedly won has won nine World Fantasy Awards, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, the Bram Stoker Award, and The Armless Maiden collection was on the short-list for the then named James Tiptree, Jr. Award. Along with Ellen Datlow, Windling edited sixteen volumes of the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror  from 1986–2003. (Yes, the first volume is actually called Year’s Best Fantasy. I do have a full set here so I know that.) She is one of the core creative forces behind the mythic fiction emergence that began in the early Eighties through her work as an  editor for the Ace and Tor Books fantasy lines, and they also edited a number of anthologies such as the superb Snow White, Blood Red series which collected the very best in contemporary fantasy. I’m very fond of her work with Illustrator Wendy Froud, wife of Brian Froud, on the Old Oak Wood series about faeries living in the Old Oak Wood.  She interviewed one of them, Sneezlewort Rootmuster Rowanberry Boggs the Seventh, for Green Man here. (CE)
  • Born December 3, 1959 – Shawn Lamb, age 61.  From her Allon Books, a dozen novels for us; also historical fiction; television screenwriting.  Family Review Center Editors’ Choice and Gold Award for The Great Battle.  [JH]
  • Born December 3, 1960 Daryl Hannah, 60. She made her genre debut in Brian De Palma’s The Fury, though she’s better known as Pris in Blade Runner. And she was the mermaid Madison in Splash. In a decidedly unfashionable role, she was Ayala in The Clan of The Cave Bear before being Mary Plunkett Brogan in High Spirits where she was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress. Was she really that bad in it?  Last genre role I think was in the Sense8 series as Angelica Turing. (CE)
  • Born December 3, 1965 Andrew Stanton, 55. Director, screenwriter, producer and voice actor, all at Pixar. His work there includes co-writing A Bug’s Life (as co-director), Finding Nemo and its sequel Finding DoryWALL-E (Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form at Anticipation) and over at Disney, he directed John Carter. He also co-wrote all four Toy Story films and Monsters, Inc. (CE) 
  • Born December 3, 1968 Brendan Fraser, 52. The Mummy and The Mummy Returns are enough to get him Birthday Honors. Though he’s been in Monkeybone based on Kaja Blackley’s graphic novel Dark TownSinbad: Beyond the Veil of MistsLooney Tunes: Back in ActionJourney to the Center of the EarthG.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and being Robotman on the Titans series that now airs on HBO. (CE)
  • Born December 3, 1981 – Alyson Noël, age 39.  Sixteen novels, two shorter stories for us; half a dozen more novels; nine NY Times Best-Sellers, eight million copies in print.  Has been a flight attendant and a T-shirt painter; has kept pet turtles and tarantulas. Learned to read with Horton Hatches the Egg; favorite maybe The Catcher in the Rye.  Motto, Don’t believe everything you think.  [JH
  • Born December 3, 1985 Amanda Seyfried, 35. She plays Ed Zoe, the lead Megan’s best friend in Solstice, a horror film. Another horror film, Jennifer’s Body, shortly thereafter, finds her playing Anita “Needy” Lesnicki. Red Riding Hood, yes, another horror film, had her cast has as Valerie. She plays Sylvia Weis, a role within In Time in a dystopian SF film next and voices Mary Katherine, Professor Bomba’s 17-year-old daughter in Epic which is at genre adjacent. She’s Mary in an animated Pan, a prequel to Peter Pan which sounds delightful. Lastly, she has a recurring role as Becky Burnett on Twin Peaks. And did we decide Veronica Mars was at least genre adjacent? If so, she has a recurring role as Mary on it. (CE)

(11) COMICS SECTION.

As Lise Andreasen translates this Politiken cartoon:

Elon Musk is building a star ship.

“Thank God we got away.”

(12) THEY’RE BACK. Another monolith, this one in California. “Mystery Obelisk Appears on Pine Mountain”. The Atascadero News says it’s not the identical to the one found in Utah.  

In late November, a mysterious 9-foot obelisk appeared in Utah, sparking world-wide awe as many made a pilgrimage to see it in San Juan County.

The Utah obelisk was illegally installed without cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management.

On Black Friday, it disappeared as mysteriously as it appeared, leaving a triangular divot in the ground.

On Wednesday morning, a similar monument appeared at the top of Atascadero’s Pine Mountain, and sparked similar patronage. Dozens of local hikers made the trek to the top of Pine Mountain to view the object. (The object has since been removed)

The three-sided obelisk appeared to be made of stainless steel, 10-feet tall and 18 inches wide. The object was welded together at each corner, with rivets attaching the side panels to a likely steel frame inside. The top of the monument did not show any weld marks, and it appears to be hollow at the top, and possibly bottom.

Unlike its Utah sibling, the Atascadero obelisk was not installed into the ground (however it was attached with rebar), and could be knocked over with a firm push. The Atascadero News estimates it weighs about 200 pounds.

(13) BYO POPCORN. You won’t have to leave the house for these move debuts if you’re subscribed to HBO Max — “Warner Bros. Announces ‘Matrix 4,’ ‘Dune,’ and All Its 2021 Movies Will Debut on HBO Max and in Theaters”. Includes Dune (October 1, 2021) and The Matrix 4 (December 22, 2021). Could it spell the end of movie theaters? (If COVID-19 hasn’t done that already?)

In a move that some may have suspected was on the horizon while most will consider it quite the shock, Warner Bros. has announced plans for its entire 2021 roster to debut simultaneously on the HBO Max streaming platform and in theaters.

Per a press release shared on Thursday, WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group CEO Ann Sarnoff is calling this approach a “unique one-year plan,” which points to the possibility of it indeed being a single-time rollout strategy inspired solely by the difficulties facing theaters across the country as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“We see it as a win-win for film lovers and exhibitors, and we’re extremely grateful to our filmmaking partners for working with us on this innovative response to these circumstances,” Sarnoff said.

(14) LIBRARY ON A ROLL. Here’s something for booklovers: “Round Top Yano Design Washi Tape – Debut Series Natural – Bookshelf”.

This cute roll of washi tape is die-cut to highlight the shape of its bookshelf print.

Washi tape is a Japanese craft masking tape that comes in many colors and patterns and has tons of creative uses. Use it to add whimsical, creative accents to scrapbooks and cards, or stick it on your wall calendars and personal planners to mark important dates. The tape is removable, which means that you can easily stick it on, unpeel it, and move it to a different spot—this is especially convenient when marking ever-changing schedules. It can be cut with scissors to create a clean edge or torn by hand to create a more textured look.

(15) MORE HOLIDAY IDEAS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Projections from Hingston & Olsen Publishing is an original anthology edited by Rebecca Romney in which the 12 stories are individual pamphlets in a collectible box.

They also have an “Advent calendar” of short stories that includes Sofia Samatar but I don’t know how many of these stories are sf or fantasy.

For the past five years, the Short Story Advent Calendar has lit up libraries and living rooms around the world with shimmering smorgasbords of bite-sized literary fiction. But all good things must come to an end. So grab the emergency schnapps from the back of the liquor cabinet, and join us for one last holiday hurrah.

You know the drill by now. The 2020 Short Story Advent Calendar is a deluxe box set of individually bound short stories from some of the best writers around.

(16) PASSING FANCIES. “Jupiter and Saturn will look like a double planet just in time for Christmas” – CNN tells us when to look.

The two largest planets in our solar system are coming closer together than they have been since the Middle Ages, and it’s happening just in time for Christmas.

So, there are some things to look forward to in the final month of 2020.

On the night of December 21, the winter solstice, Jupiter and Saturn will appear so closely aligned in our sky that they will look like a double planet. This close approach is called a conjunction.

“Alignments between these two planets are rather rare, occurring once every 20 years or so, but this conjunction is exceptionally rare because of how close the planets will appear to one another,” said Rice University astronomer and professor of physics and astronomy Patrick Hartigan in a statement.

“You’d have to go all the way back to just before dawn on March 4, 1226, to see a closer alignment between these objects visible in the night sky.”

(17) WILDCATS ARE BIGGER, OF COURSE. Did you know? At Literary Hub, John Gray says “House Cats and Wild Cats Aren’t Actually That Different”.

…Unless they are kept indoors, the behavior of house cats is not much different from that of wild cats. Though the cat may regard more than one house as home, the house is the base where it feeds, sleeps and gives birth. There are clear territorial boundaries, larger for male cats than for females, which will be defended against other cats when necessary. The brains of house cats have diminished in size compared with their wild counterparts, but that does not make house cats less intelligent or adaptable. Since it is the part of the brain that includes the fight-or-flight response that has shrunk, house cats have become able to tolerate situations that would be stressful in the wild, such as encountering humans and unrelated cats….

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Mad Max:  Fury Road Behind The Scenes Documentary” on YouTube is a 2017 film, directed by Cory Watson, originally titled Going Mad:  The Battle Of Fury Road, which is a behind the scenes look at the 2015 Mad Max:  Fury Road.  The documentary reveals this film had an extremely long gestation, as George Miller originally had the idea for the film in the late 1990s,  Production was shut down in 2002 in Namibia because the US dollar tanked in the wake of 9/11, wiping out a quarter of the film’s budget, and halted a second time in Australia in 2010 because of floods shortly before shooting which turned the desert set into a lush flowery landscape. The documentary includes interviews with stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron and many behind-the scenes looks at the mixture of feminism, car crashes, and gratuitous consumption of fossil fuels that led to six Oscars in 2016.

My favorite behind the scenes bit:  dozens of bald-headed extras preparing for their day of being weirdoes by singing “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider.”

[Thanks to Lise Andeasen, Michael Toman, JJ, N., Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Contrarius, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 12/1/20 This Is Not
A Pixel To Be Put Aside Lightly…It Should Be Scrolled With Great Force

(1) TAKING THE LEAD. One of my favorite reviewers has been stepping up in her community, and has a book out encouraging others to do the same: “Why You Should Run For (Local) Office, by Adrienne Martini” at Whatever.

Author Adrienne Martini knows just a little about this: she ran for local office, and then chronicled the experience in her 2020 memoir Somebody’s Gotta Do It. Now she’s here to talk a little bit about that experience, and why it’s something you might consider thinking about as well.

(2) PLAYWRIGHTS SUMMONED. You have until January 15 to enter: “Accepting Submissions for 2021 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards”.

The Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth College is accepting play submissions for the 2021 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards.

The fourth annual Neukom Award for Playwriting will consider full-length plays and other full-length works for the theater that address the question “What does it mean to be a human in a computerized world?”

Playwrights with either traditional or experimental theater pieces, including multimedia productions, are encouraged to submit works to the award program.

The award includes a $5,000 honorarium and support for a two-stage development process with table readings at local arts festivals. Works that have already received a full production are not eligible for the competition.

The deadline for all submissions is January 15, 2021. The awards will be announced in the spring of 2021.

(3) IT DOESN’T TAKE A WEATHERMAN. James Davis Nicoll lets his hair down in a Tor.com post “Five Hippie-ish SF Novels Inspired by Sixties Counterculture”. He starts with–

The Butterfly Kid by Chester Anderson (1967)

This book is set in an imagined futuristic New York, which oddly enough has remained stuck in an eternal 1960s. There’s still a vibrant hippie community in Greenwich Village. Youngsters from across square America travel to New York to discover themselves; there they are mentored (or at least observed) by old hands like Chester Anderson and his close friend Michael Kurland. This Greenwich Village is populated by nonconformists as eccentric as they are kind-hearted—for the most part.

The most notable exception is shameless grifter Laszlo Scott. For once, Scott’s most recent pharmaceutical offering is entirely authentic: his “Reality Pills” can make dreams real. The aliens supplying Scott have a malign intent: they may not want to actively unleash the heat rays, but they are counting on human nightmares to exterminate us all, leaving the world ripe for alien appropriation. Standing between humanity and certain doom: sixteen Greenwich Village potheads and hipsters. Two of whom are missing….

(4) A DECADE OF GOOD BOOKS. Happy birthday to the Fantasy-Faction review site – “Fantasy-Faction Turns 10! Help Us Spread the Love of Reading!” They’re asking fans to celebrate by contributing to organizations that support reading among the economically disadvantaged.  

…We couldn’t have made it ten years without all of you. And we can’t wait to see what the next ten years brings. Let’s close out this year of sadness and insanity with the best December this world has ever seen. Let’s give the gift of reading and share the love of fantasy, together!

(5) REEDPOP ABANDONS BOOK EXPO. “BookExpo and BookCon Are No More”Publishers Weekly attends the funeral.

U.S. book publishing’s biggest trade show is being “retired,” show organizer ReedPop announced today. BookExpo, along with BookCon and Unbound, will not be held in 2021 after being canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

ReedPop, the pop culture event–focused subdivision of Reed Exhibitions, said that, given the “continued uncertainty surrounding in-person events at this time,” the company has decided “that the best way forward is to retire the current iteration of events as they explore new ways to meet the community’s needs through a fusion of in-person and virtual events.”

In order to try to hold the event earlier this year, Reed moved the date from its usual spot at New York City’s Javits Center in late May to late July, but as the coronavirus continued to make larger meetings impossible, Reed cancelled the live conference and held six days of free virtual programming from May 26-31, the original dates of BookExpo and BookCon. 

…Reed Exhibitions’ convention business has been hammered by Covid-19. Through the first nine months of 2020, revenue was down 70%, parent company RELX reported. It expects full year revenue of £330m-£360 million and after a range of cost-lowering initiatives—including layoffs—total costs for the year are expected to be £530m-£540 million, excluding one-off costs related to restructuring and cancellations. Total Reed Exhibitions revenue in 2019 was £1.3 billion.

(6) ELDRITCH CHARITY APPEAL. Weird Providence asks for support on Giving Tuesday: “Lovecraft Arts and Sciences 2020 Fundraiser”.

…We at the Lovecraft Arts & Sciences Council work hard to bring people together from around the world, to cultivate a sense of community through exciting and unique programming, and to foster camaraderie among kindred souls. We strive to provide a welcoming home here in Providence for all members of the vibrant and diverse Weird community, and we’re proud of our success over the past eight years.

NecronomiCon 2019, our biggest event yet, saw over 2,000 folks gather in Providence to share their passion for the Weird. And our retail store continues to garner rave reviews as a “must-visit” and “treasure” for its unique selection and helpful staff. These are just a few ways that our organization enriches our city and the global Weird fiction community. 

Today, on this Giving Tuesday, we’re asking for your help. 

The Lovecraft Arts & Sciences Council is a nonprofit organization. We manage to do what we do with minimal staff – just two paid employees that help run our storefront in Providence. The rest of our operation relies on a squad of dedicated volunteers — of which I am one, squeezing in work for the organization between the tasks of my real job…. 

(7) ARECIBO OBSERVATORY DESTROYED. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Sadly, the iconic radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory has collapsed. The suspended platform at the focal point broke loose and crashed into the main reflector below. This follows earlier breaks in the supporting cables. Business Insider has the report: “The Arecibo telescope’s 900-ton platform has crashed into its disk below and destroyed the iconic radio observatory”.

The second-largest radio telescope in the world is no more.

The Arecibo Observatory’s 1,000-foot-diameter telescope collapsed at 8 a.m. Tuesday in Puerto Rico. The telescope’s 900-ton platform, which was suspended 450 feet in the air to send and receive radio waves, crashed into its disk below, pulling down with it the tops of three support towers.

(8) WHAT A TANGLED WEB WE WEAVE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Nicholas Barber, in the BBC story “How a Spider-Man musical became a theatrical disaster”, notes that Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark had its first preview ten years ago.  Barber discusses the many reasons why this musical became one of Broadway’s biggest money-losers, including many failures of its special effects and the fact that composers Bono and the Edge had never heard a Broadway musical when they accepted the assignment to write the score and had to be sent an emergency care package of CDs with songs on them so they would know what to do.

It’s been 10 years since one of the most momentous nights of Glen Berger’s life. He was already an established off-Broadway playwright and children’s television writer, but on 28 November 2010, a musical he had scripted had its first preview at the Foxwoods Theatre in New York – and it was shaping up to be an international smash.

The musical was Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Its friendly neighbourhood title character had been a beloved pop-cultural icon for five decades, and had just featured in three Hollywood blockbusters. The songs were written by rock’n’roll royalty, U2’s Bono and The Edge. And the director was Julie Taymor, who had masterminded the record-breaking stage adaptation of Disney’s The Lion King. Turn Off the Dark couldn’t go far wrong with a pedigree like that. Could it?

Which is not to say that Berger wasn’t nervous. Speaking to BBC Culture from his home in upstate New York, he remembers how strange it felt to be unveiling something he and his collaborators had been devising together for years. “We were opening the door,” he says, “either to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory or some sort of slaughterhouse.” The show relied on complicated aerial stunts in which the performers were suspended from wires, and so the first preview was bound to keep stopping and starting as technical hitches were addressed….

(9) HEADHUNTER THWARTED. TMZ, in the story “Darth Vader’s Original ‘Star Wars’ Helmet Stolen” says that Frank Hebert (note spelling) allegedly broke into Bad Robot Productions and left with a shopping cart full of Star Wars stuff, including an original Darth Vader helmet, but all the stolen stuff was returned.

…Law enforcement sources tell us … 38-year-old Frank Hebert was arrested Monday night after he allegedly broke into the Bad Robot Productions building in Santa Monica and made off with ‘Star Wars’ movie memorabilia … including Darth’s helmet.

We’re told cops responded to the scene and were told by security personnel that Hebert had been captured on surveillance video illegally entering the building through the rooftop, and casually walked out with a shopping cart full of stuff.

Our sources say cops quickly found a guy pushing a cart down the street not too far away, which we’re told was full of ‘Star Wars’ stuff — as in, original props used in the actual movies.

(10) NO DOUGHS. SYFY Wire sets the frame of this video designed to encourage charitable giving: “Broke Batman parody from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. crew boosts COVID relief”.

The video is a way for Ward and the S.H.I.E.L.D. crew to raise awareness for a good cause: lending a financial hand to entertainment workers whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic-related shutdowns across the industry. Through the associated #fundthebat social media campaign, fans can chip in a little moolah to bolster the Motion Picture Television Fund’s Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund. The clip links to a GoFundMe page where anyone can donate — regardless of which side they’re on in the Marvel-versus-DC debate.

The fund says it’s using “every dollar” contributed through the campaign to “support the thousands of out of work carpenters, hair stylists, drivers, make up artists, painters, set dressers, electricians, editors, grips, camera people, actors, writers and directors who created the shows and movies that have kept you entertained during this difficult time.”

(11) FANZINE FAN OBIT. Ansible® 401 released today relayed this notice from Robert Lichtman:

Miriam Dyches Carr Knight Lloyd, US fan active in the 1950s and 1960s with fanzines including various ‘Goojie Publications’ titles as Dyches or Carr, Klein Bottle and later issues of Fanac with her first husband Terry Carr, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Poughkeepsie with her second husband Frank Knight, died on 23 October.

(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • December 1, 1995The Adventures of Captain Zoom In Outer Space premiered on television. Directed by Max Tads from a script by Brian Levant, Rick Copp, and David A. Goodman, it starred Daniel Riordan, Ron Perlman, Nichelle Nichols, Liz Vassey and Gia Carides. It follows the adventures of Fifties actor Ty Farrell who plays the title character in a Captain Video-like program, The Adventures of Captain Zoom in Outer Space. Although you’ll find references on the net for a series having been made and for fans having seen it, there wasn’t such a series. Only the TV movie. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a rating of, well, they don’t have a rating for it. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 1, 1886 — Rex Stout. ISFDB says his Nero Wolfe’s “The Affair of the Twisted Scarf” which was also published as “Disguise for Murder”” and also “Poison à la Carte” are SF. Now I’ve read each of them quite some years back but I don’t recall anything in them that makes them genre. Now I adore Nero Wolfe but never even thought of these novels as being genre adjacent. (Died 1975.) (CE) 
  • Born December 1, 1942 — John Crowley, 78. I’m tempted to say he’s a frelling literary genius and stop there but I won’t. Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and World Fantasy Award winning Little, Big is brilliant but if anything his crow centric novel of Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr which received the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award makes that novel look like child’s play in comparison. Did you know he wrote a novella called The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines? Or Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land, which contains an entire imaginary novel by the poet? (CE)
  • Born December 1, 1964 — Jo Walton, 56. She’s won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, and the World Fantasy award for her novel Tooth and Claw in which dragons got positively and delightfully Victorian. Even if they eat each other.  Her Small Change trilogy may be the finest WW II novels I’ve read bar none, and her Sulien series is an excellent retelling of the Arthurian myth.  Among Others which won a Hugo and Nebula is she says about the “coming-of-age experience of having books instead of people for friends and solace”. I can relate to that as I imagine many here can too. (CE)
  • Born December 1, 1964 — Alisa Kwitney, 56. Daughter of Robert Sheckley and Ziva Kwitney. Editor, Vertigo Books. Contributing author, The Dreaming: Beyond The Shores of Night, set in Gaiman’s Sandman multiverse, scriptwriter for the Vertigo Visions: The Phantom Stranger graphic novel and editor of Vertigo Visions: Artwork from the Cutting Edge of Comics  Currently an editor at Brain Mill Press. (CE) 
  • Born December 1, 1965 — Bill Willingham, 55. Best known I’d say for his long running Fable series though personally I think his best work was Proposition Player. He got his start in the late 1970s to early 1980s as a staff artist for TSR games where he was the cover artist for the AD&D Player Character Record Sheets and a lot of games I don’t recognize not being a gamer at that time. I do recognize his superb 1980s comic book series Elementals,  and he later write the equally excellent Shadowpact for DC. I was always ambivalent about the Jack of Shadows series that he spun off of Fables. His House of Mystery was rather good as well. (CE) 
  • Born December 1, 1971 Emily Mortimer, 49. She was the voice of Sophie in the English language version of Howl’s Moving Castle, and Jane Banks in Mary Poppins Returns. She was the voice of Lisette in the superb Hugo animated film, and was Nicole Durant in The Pink Panther. (CE)

(14) GOO GOO GUY. Start running now – Vulture brings word that “Peter Dinklage to Reportedly Star in Toxic Avenger Reboot”.

…Based on the four-film franchise and Marvel comic-book series, Dinklage’s Toxic Avenger will reportedly retain the character’s origin story (hapless underdog pushed into toxic waste and reborn with superpowers, naturally) while exploring “environmental themes” with a take on “the superhero genre in the vein of Deadpool.” Because God help superhero movies if we force Toxie into a gritty reboot, too.

(15) YESTERDAY’S TOMORROW. At Monster Movie Music, they’re putting together episode recaps of old black-and-white TV sff with screencaps and connective text, like “TALES OF TOMORROW / ‘Appointment On Mars’ – 1952”. Interesting idea.

Here’s a wild one from the TOT gang. In this episode, three men man a rocket and go to Mars where they will mine for rare minerals and ore to take back to Earth to cash in. But, things don’t go as planned…

(16) MONOLITHS: EASY COME, EASY GO. The Utah monolith and its Romanian imitator vanished less mysteriously than they arrived, in that the people who took them down are at least known to someone.

Salt Lake City’s Fox13 repots “Well-known Moab slackliner says he took down Utah monolith”.

“On the night of November 27, 2020, at about 8:30pm– our team removed the Utah Monolith,” [Andy] Lewis wrote, in a Facebook post. “We will not be including any other information, answers, or insight at this time.”

And in Europe: “Romanian monolith mystery solved: two blokes carried it off” says Yahoo!

You wait for ages for an era-defining monolith created by an unseen alien race to appear out of nowhere, then two turn up at once.

After the mysterious emergence of a shiny metallic plinth in the Utah desert piqued the imaginations of sci-fi fans across the world last week, another appeared just a few days later in rural Romania.

And just like its American cousin, it has vanished – seemingly without a trace.

The mayor of the Romanian town where the local monolith was planted seems to know more than he’s saying:

…The mayor had hoped that the structure could potentially become a tourist attraction for Piatra Neamt, a picturesque mountainous town with a population of around 100,000. But he offers up a more sobering theory as to why the monolith disappeared in a matter of days.

“Whoever placed the monolith would have suffered legal consequences because we can’t allow structures without legal authorisation,” he said.

“It’s quite a mystery that this came up in a week that I had a chat with some local investors who don’t obey construction laws — it’s absolutely a bizarre coincidence,” he added.

(17) SJW CREDENTIAL COMMUTE. [Item by JJ.] Alexander Perrin’s “Short Trip” is an interactive cat adventure on a trolley line. Better with the sound on. Use right/left arrows to move faster/slower forward/backward. if you stop at the tram stops, cats will get on and off. The details are best enjoyed if you don’t run it at full speed

(18) ON THE ROAD WITH J.G. BALLARD. “Crash! (1971) by J. G. Ballard” on YouTube is a short film, originally broadcast by the BBC in 1971, in which J.G. Ballard drives a car and obsesses about crashes.

(19) PARTY POOPERS. Maria Temming reports in the Washington Post that researchers at the University of Georgia, the Florida Institute of Technology, and the Colorado School of Mines have tried growing crops on Martian soil and discovered “Farming on Mars will be a lot harder than ‘The Martian’ made it seem” thanks fo the soil’s high scidity and the presence of the potent microbe killer calcium perchlorate in high quantities.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers:  Demon’s Souls” on YouTube, Fandom Games says Sony revised the 1990’s game Demon’s Souls without consulting the original developers, which meant that “Sony treats the Demon’s Souls IP like Gollum treats the One Ring.”

[Thanks to JJ, John Hertz, James Davis Nicoll, Paul Di Flippo, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, David Doering, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day David Goldfarb.]

Pixel Scroll 11/2/20 Come And Listen To The Scroll Of An Earthsea Wizard Named Ged

(1) FOUR CENTURIES OF ANSIBLE. Congratulations to David Langford on publishing his four hundredth issue of Ansible. In addition to all the sff news in every issue, there’s always a grateful balance provided by departments like “Thog’s Masterclass.” One of the classic quotes from #400 is —

When Relativity Goes Bad. ‘The ship trembled, twisted, shuddered as full mass returned with the disruption of the field. Mass flooded back into the vessel, titanic mass, mass impossible to contain, it transformed into sheer energy, blasted through the nulgrav generator and poured from there into outer space.’ (Volsted Gridban, Planetoid Disposals Ltd., 1953) [BA]

(2) ZOOMING TO EURCON. Marcin Klak, Polish fan and past GUFF winner, has written up the virtual Eurocon: “Futuricon – The Future is Now”.

…There were a few interesting items to watch during Futuricon. I managed to visit some of them and  a hmissed some others… The ones I was especially happy to attend were Alison’s Virtual GUFF Trip talk treating about this year’s GUFF delegate’s (Alison Scott) virtual foray to Australia and New Zealand. I was also fascinated by the great talk by Cheryl Morgan – Worldbuilding with Sex and Gender. It was a short introduction to how sex and gender look in nature. It was so interesting that I decided to buy one of the recommended books to read more about the topic.

(3) SLF GRANT OPENING. The Speculative Literature Foundation is accepting applications for the Working Class Writers Grant through December 31.

This grant is awarded annually to assist working class, blue-collar, poor, and homeless writers who have been historically underrepresented in speculative fiction, due to financial barriers. We are currently offering one $1000 working class grant annually, to be used as the writer determines will best assist his or her work. This year, we will accept applications October 1, 2020 through December 31 2020.

(4) LONG REACH. This English-language article from the German foreign broadcast service Deutsche Welle spotlights how the Chinese government is exerting pressure on foreign publishers: “Chinese censors target German publishers”. Tagline: “As China tries to expand its influence abroad, it’s going beyond politics and business to target literature and publishing. German publishers are among those that have been targeted by censors, as DW has learned.”

…When DW contacted Phoenix Juvenile and Children’s Publishing, the publisher in Nanjing which ordered the changes to Dragonfly Eyes, the employee who spoke with Frisch said the changes had been requested by the author.

But communication between the two publishers suggests a different story. In these messages, seen by DW, the Phoenix employee told the German publisher that “relevant departments” had given negative feedback on the book and that the issue was “sensitive.” She then reminded Frisch several times that she had to state publicly that the novel was a work of fiction, that it was “made up, not real.”

In the Chinese edition however, the author clearly writes in his foreword that the story was based on the memories of somebody he had met. 

Later, the Phoenix employee told Frisch to stop all promotion of the book “in the interest of the author and the state.” She added that “because the story concerns the Cultural Revolution and because it is the anniversary year, you cannot not publish the book for the time being.”

This exchange took place at the end of October 2019, when the People’s Republic of China had just celebrated its 70th anniversary. By that point, the publisher’s tone had become slightly menacing. “Listen to our advice,” the employee said. “This will also protect the interest of your own publishing house.”

The licensing contract seen by DW does not mention any vetting of the final edition. “The deal is I get a text and I translate it,” Frisch said. “I don’t want to be used in political games.”…

(5) IMMOVABLE OBJECTIONS. Far Out explores “The reason why Stanis?aw Lem was furious about Andrei Tarkovsky’s adaptation of his novel ‘Solaris’”.

…Although Tarkovsky’s adaptation wasn’t the first (a 1968 television movie of Solaris by Boris Nuremburg), it is certainly the most famous and has been immortalised for its contribution towards a better understanding of the cinematic medium. More than the science fiction elements in the film, Tarkovsky was interested in the human problem. This fundamental difference between their respective approaches contributed to the dispute between Lem and Tarkovsky.

In October of 1969, Lem met Tarkovsky and literary expert Lazar Lazarev at the Peking Hotel in Moscow to discuss the script. Lem was not receptive to the changes that Tarkovsky had envisioned for his adaptation and could not understand why Lazarev was present. The writer maintained that his novel already had everything needed for a film, ignoring Tarkovsky’s efforts to convince Lem that he knew what he was doing as a filmmaker. When Lazarev asked if Lem would like to watch one of Tarkovsky’s films, the writer coldly answered: “I don’t have the time for that.”

However, the meeting was ultimately fruitful because Lem gave in and allowed them to go ahead with the project. The writer said that it was a matter of principle to not forbid anything but apart from that, he was openly against Tarkovsky’s vision. Insisting that he did not write the book about “people’s erotic problems in space”, Lem recalled the meeting between the two creative geniuses: “Tarkovsky and I had a healthy argument. I sat in Moscow for six weeks while we argued about how to make the movie, then I called him a ‘durak’ [‘idiot’ in Russian] and went home.”

(6) A FOOLISH CONSISTENCY IS THE HOBGOBLIN. “Little, Big: Talking with John Crowley” at Mythaxis Review.

DH: As someone who reads and watches are broad range of things, that resonates. Obviously, authors, film-makers, and other creatives have a similar freedom to experiment to see what works for them. However, the prevailing advice for achieving commercial success (at least as an author) is to pick a niche and stick to it. Do you have any advice for authors and filmmakers who want to succeed in multiple areas?

JC: I think the crux is how a writer – and his readers – define success. It certainly has long been the case in certain parts of the US literary world, and probably in that of other nations as well, that rapid production of new versions of successful books is the best way to high sales, and certainly most publishers are happy to facilitate that. But there’s a divide that ought to be noted: My most recent book was sent in MS to some twenty editors; some were entirely uninterested, but a small number thought the book was great. But because the publisher didn’t see profits from such an oddity it was refused, until at length one editor with a private label within a big house took it. If that’s the common route now, I would tell writers that they may as well write whatever they like, and make it entirely different every time, and trust that someone will take it even if it doesn’t match market expectations. (I’m quite sure that my last three or four novels, if read without my name attached, would not be recognized as by the same author.) About films I know less, though I’d guess the quandary – and the approach – would be similar.

(7) FLAME ON. From the inaugural virtual Ring of Fire Convention (ROFCON), a video of the panel on modern publishing featuring Alexi Vandenberg (M), Toni Weisskopf, Shahid Mahmud, Kevin Anderson, and Eric Flint.

(8) CONRAD OBIT. Roxanne Conrad (1962-2020), who published thriller, sff and YA under the name Rachel Caine, died of cancer on November 1 at the age of 57. More tribute from her husband and associates here.

Roxanne Conrad, aka Rachel Caine. Roxanne lost her fight with a rare and aggressive cancer, soft tissue sarcoma, on November 1, 2020.

Roxanne was known worldwide as thriller, science fiction, and young adult writer Rachel Caine. With over 56 books in print and millions of copies sold, she was a popular guest at conventions in the United States and around the world. Her popular book series include the young adult Morganville Vampires novels, the Great Library series, and the #1 bestselling Stillhouse Lake novels in adult thrillers.

(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • November 2, 1988 — The first part of Doctor Who’s “The Happiness Patrol” aired. Written by Graeme Curry, it was intended (by him and the other writers) to be a parody of Thatcherism, with Helen A representing Margaret Thatcher herself. Starring Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor, Sophie Aldred as Ace and Shelia Hancock as Helen A. with David John Pope as Kandy Man. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, referred to this story in his 2011 Easter sermon, on the subject of happiness and joy. Really. Truly. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born November 2, 1913 Burt Lancaster. Certainly being Dr. Paul Moreau on The Island of Doctor Moreau was his most genre-ish role but I like him as General James Mattoon Scott in Seven Days in May. And, of course, he’s really great as Moonlight Graham in Field of Dreams. (Died 1994.) (CE)
  • Born November 2, 1927 Steve Ditko. Illustrator who began his career working in the studio of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby during which he began his long association with Charlton Comics and which led to his creating the Captain Atom character. Did I mention DC absorbed that company as it did so many others? Now he’s best known as the artist and co-creator, with Stan Lee, of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. For Charlton and also DC  itself, including a complete redesign of Blue Beetle, and creating or co-creating The Question, The Creeper, Shade the Changing Man, and Hawk and Dove.  He been inducted into the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame and into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame. (Died 2018.) (CE)
  • Born November 2, 1928 – the Usual Don Fitch, 92.   So he has long signed his name and referred to himself.  But his usual is quite wonderful. Long-time helpful member of LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Society), earning its Evans-Freehafer service award in 1970.  Fanzine From Sunday to Saturday in many apas, e.g. FAPASAPSTAPSThe CultN’APAANZAPAAPA-L.  Fan Guest of Honor at Minicon 28.  [JH]
  • Born November 2, 1941 – Ed Gorman.  Three dozen novels, ten dozen shorter stories for us; comics; a dozen anthologies with Martin H. Greenberg; detective fiction (Life Achievement Award from Private Eye Writers of America), Westerns; nonfiction in NY TimesRedbook.  Interviewed A.J. Budrys in SF Review.  Fanzine Ciln.  Won a short-story contest sponsored by Scribner’s, invited by an editor to expand into a mainstream novel, quit after six months saying “I was bored out of my mind.”  (Died 2016) [JH]
  • Born November 2, 1942 – Sue Francis, 78.   Co-chaired DeepSouthCon 24 (with Ken Moore).  With husband Steve Francis, mainstays of Rivercon for twenty-five years.  Their reminiscence of NorthAmeriCon ’79 the 2nd NASFiC (N.Am. SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas) here. Together Fan Guests of Honor at ConTact 6, Phoenixcon 5, MidSouthCon 10, DeepSouthCon 33, InConJunction XX, Con*Stellation XX; Rebel and Rubble Awards; DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) delegates, report Sue & Steve’s Excellent Adventure in Australia; Big Heart (our highest service award).  [JH]
  • Born November 2, 1942 – Carol Resnick, 78.  A founder of Windycon.  Noted costumer and judge of our Masquerade costume competition.  Widow of Mike Resnick, who throughout his pro career (4 Hugos, 1 Nebula; Galaxy’s Edge magazine) remained also a fan; together Fan Guests of Honor at Rivercon VI, Pro Guests of Honor at Contraption 5.  [JH]
  • Born November 2, 1942 Stefanie Powers, 78. April Dancer, the lead in The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. which lasted just one season. Did you know Ian Fleming contributed concepts to this series and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as well?  She would play Shalon in the crossover that started on The Six-Million Man and concluded on The Six-Million Woman called “The Return of Bigfoot”. (CE)
  • Born November 2, 1949 Lois McMaster Bujold, 71. First, let’s note she’s won the Hugo Award for best novel four times, matching Robert A. Heinlein’s record, not counting his Retro Hugo. Quite impressive that. Bujold’s works largely comprises three separate book series: the Vorkosigan Saga, the Chalion series, and the Sharing Knife series. She joined the Central Ohio Science Fiction Society, and co-published with Lillian Stewart Carl StarDate, a Trek fanzine in which a story of hers appeared under the byline Lois McMaster. (CE)
  • Born November 2, 1969 Lucy Hawking, 51. Daughter of Stephen Hawking. Children’s novelist and science educator. With her father, she wrote the George’s Secret Key series which may or may not be genre. Anyone here from Britain who’s actually seen them? (CE)
  • Born November 2, 1972 – Masayoshi Yasugi, 48.  (Personal name last, Japanese style.)  Japanese SF New Face Award for The Dreaming Cat Sleeps in Space (2003); three more novels, a dozen shorter stories.  [JH]
  • Born November 2, 1983 – Ádám Gerencsér, 37.  Edits Sci Phi Journal (with Mariano Martin Rodríguez), two short stories there.  “When … I wanted to read a comprehensive guide to Hungarian alternate history and realised that it didn’t exist, I wrote one (in English, Journal Hélice vol. III no. 6).”  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side visits the beach as two figures pass each other with the day’s catch.

(12) DRACULA FOR ALL THE SENSES. Print Magazine admires the work done by Beehive Press in “Designing the Ultimate Dracula Experience”. This amazing collection will be out next year. Many photos at the link.

Last year, Philadelphia-based boutique publisher Beehive Books launched a Kickstarter to bring literary lovers an interactive Dracula experience like never before: “You are not a passive observer. You are a scholar exploring this supernatural archive.” When it’s released in 2021, Dracula: The Evidence will deliver a briefcase full of letter correspondence, photographs, diaries, newspaper clippings, phonograph records and more, that make the saga of the centuries-old vampire more real than ever.

… When the finished project is delivered, readers will be able to unfold a map of London and track the characters as they move through the story. Letters and photographs will give them a chance to become “supernatural archeologists.” Blueprints and additional maps will turn them into amateur detectives.

All told, from the aged briefcase that holds all of the documents to the beautifully bound journals and framed photos, the planned design is downright dazzling.

(13) HEAR ME. STEAL ME. “Star Wars: The Mandalorian Created A New Form Of Sign Language For The Tusken Raiders” – let SYFY Wire fill you in.

For many moons, Star Wars fans have written off the Tusken Raiders as savage Sand People that bray like donkeys whenever they go on the offensive. Thanks to The Mandalorian, acolytes of the galaxy far, far away can now view Tatooine’s desert nomads in a new light. In Season 1, the bounty hunter known as Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) proved that one can actually make physical contact with the Tuskens and live to tell the tale. The Season 2 premiere took that dynamic to an entirely new level as Djarin forged a shaky alliance between the Sand People and the citizens of Mos Pelgo.

But before the show could have its titular hero communicating with the indigenous folk of Tatooine, it needed a new language through which they could speak to one another. That’s where Troy Kotsur came in; the deaf actor was hired to come up with a sign-based vocabulary for the Tusken Raiders and it wasn’t just a matter of bringing American Sign Language to the Great Dune Sea.

(14) TOWERS OF BABEL. In the Washington Post, Christian Davenport says what NASA engineers are worried about the software in the giant Space Launch System rocket, since the rocket has parts made by Lockheed Martin, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Northrop Grumman, and the United Launch Alliance and it’s not clear if the software can integrate equipment made by these different companies: “NASA’s new rocket would be the most powerful ever. But it’s the software that has some officials worried.”

… Computing power has become as critical to rockets as the brute force that lifts them out of Earth’s atmosphere, especially rockets like the SLS, which is really an amalgamation of parts built by a variety of manufacturers: Boeing builds the rocket’s “core stage,” the main part of the vehicle. Lockheed Martin builds the Orion spacecraft. Aerojet Rocketdyne and Northrop Grumman are responsible for the RS-25 engines and the side boosters, respectively. And the United Launch Alliance handles the upper stage.

All of those components need to work together for a mission to be successful. But NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) recently said it was concerned about the disjointed way the complicated system was being developed and tested.

At an ASAP meeting last month, Paul Hill, a member of the panel and a former flight and mission operations director at the agency, said the “panel has great concern about the end-to-end integrated test capability and plans, especially for flight software.”

(15) KITTY LITERATURE. The Guardian interviews a philosopher about his latest study: “John Gray: ‘What can we learn from cats? Don’t live in an imagined future’.

…One impulse for this book was a conversation with a fellow philosopher, who assured Gray that he “had taught his cat to be vegan”. (Gray had only one question: “Did the cat ever go out?” It did.) When he informed another philosopher that he was writing about what we can learn from cats, that man replied: “But cats have no history.” “And,” Gray wondered, “is that necessarily a disadvantage?”

Elsewhere, Gray has written how Ludwig Wittgenstein once observed “if lions could talk we would not understand”, to which the zookeeper John Aspinall responded: “He hasn’t spent long enough with lions.” If cats could talk, I ask Gray, do you think we would understand?

“Well, the book is in some ways an experiment in that respect,” he says. “Of course, it’s not a scientific inquiry. But if you live with a cat very closely for a long time – and it takes a long time, because they’re slow to trust, slow to really enter into communication with you – then you can probably imagine how they might philosophise.”

Gray believes that humans turned to philosophy principally out of anxiety, looking for some tranquillity in a chaotic and frightening world, telling themselves stories that might provide the illusion of calm. Cats, he suggests, wouldn’t recognise that need because they naturally revert to equilibrium whenever they’re not hungry or threatened. If cats were to give advice, it would be for their own amusement.

(16) AND I SWEAR THAT IT’S ALL TRUE. A whale of a tale.

(17) WARP DEED. “Tenacious D” covers the “Time Warp.” Vocals by Jack Black and Kyle Gass. Cameo appearances by Eric Andre, Ezra Miller, George Takei, Ilana Glazer, Jamie Lee Curtis, John Heilemann, John Waters, Karen O, King Princess, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Michael Peña, Peaches, Phoebe Bridgers, Reggie Watts, Sarah Silverman, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Susan Sarandon.

It’s astounding… time is fleeting… and the 2020 election is here. Time to ROCK-Y THE VOTE! And remember: it’s just a jump to the LEFT, and not a step to the right!

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Twilight Breaking Dawn Pitch Meeting” at Screen Rant, Ryan George summarizes both the fourth and fifth Twilight movies in one meeting because, unlike the last Harry Potter meeting, there really isn’t enough plot in the last Twilight novel for two movies.

[Thanks to Rob Thornton, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Danny Sichel, James Davis Nicoll, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, JJ, John A Arkansawyer, Cora Buhlert, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 8/2/19 In The Scroll, The Contributing Editors Come And Go, Filing Comments On Pixels From Long Ago

(1) LOSCON ADDS MOSHE FEDER. Tor Books editor Moshe Feder has been named a guest of honor of the 2019 Loscon, to be held over Thanksgiving weekend (November 29 – December 1) at the Marriott Los Angeles Airport Hotel.

Moshe Feder’s influence is felt around the world, perfecting the work of science fiction and fantasy’s brightest writers: David Gerrold, Juliet McKenna, Archbishop John J. Myers, Robert Silverberg, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells and Gary K. Wolfe. Loscon 46 is proud to announce Feder, a Tor Books editor, as its Editor Guest of Honor.

Loscon 46 Guests of Honor also include award-winning speculative fiction writer Howard Waldrop (The Ugly Chickens, Night of the Cooters), and Edie Stern, a fan celebrated for her work at fanac.org, a fan-history archive as well as other fan community activities around the world.

Participants include area artists and authors, such as Sean M. Carroll, Rick Sternbach, Steven Barnes, Harry Turtledove, Tananarive Due, Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff and Tim Powers.

(2) DOCTOR WHO MOVING. Will you need to pony up for another streaming service? Variety brings word that “‘Doctor Who’ to Stream Exclusively on HBO Max”.

The forthcoming WarnerMedia streaming platform has acquired the exclusive streaming rights to “Doctor Who,” with all 11 seasons of the historic BBC series coming to the service upon launch in spring 2020. The news comes as part of a deal with BBC studios which means the streamer will be the home of future “Doctor Who” seasons after they air on BBC America.

(3) ROCKET STACK RANK. Eric Wong reports Rocket Stack Rank’s “July 2019 Ratings” have been updated to show 31 recommendations (red highlights) by seven prolific reviewers of SF/F short fiction. 

Here are some quick observations by pivoting the list on story length, new writers, and authors. (Click links to see the different views.)

  • Length: 5 stories out of 70 got a score of 3 or more (only 1 free online).
  • New Writers: 6 stories out of 9 written by Campbell-eligible writers got a recommendation (5 free online).
  • Authors: Of 5 authors out of 65 with more than one story here, only Tegan Moore had all her stories recommended by one or more reviewers (1 free online).

(4) ST:P COMICS. What do you call the prequel of a sequel? The Hollywood Reporter is claiming yet another Star Trek: Picard exclusive — “’Star Trek: Picard’ to Get Prequel Novel and Comic Series”. Both a short comic series and a novel will lay some groundwork for the new CBS All Access streaming series. So get out your theodolite and let’s mark the corners for this new foundation.

   The first prequel to appear will be IDW’s Star Trek: Picard – Countdown, a three-issue comic book series written by Mike Johnson and Picard supervising producer Kirsten Beyer, which will center around a single mission that would change the life of Picard. That series launches in November, and runs through January 2020.

     In February 2020, Galley Books will follow the conclusion of Countdown with Una McCormack’s The Last Best Hope, a novel that will lead directly into the Picard television series proper, and introduce new characters appearing in the show. McCormack is a name familiar to Star Trek fans, having previously written eight novels tying into the legendary sci-fi property

(5) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman launches the second century of Eating the Fantastic by nibbling New York cheesecake in L.A. with Nebula Award-winning writer Rachel Swirsky in episode 101:

This episode’s guest is Rachel Swirsky, who’s won some Nebula Awards of her own — for her novella “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen’s Window” in 2010 and her short story “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” in 2013. She’s also been a Hugo Award, World Fantasy Award, and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award nominee. She was the founding editor of the PodCastle podcast, co-edited the anthology People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction & Fantasy,  and served as vice president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 2013.

We got together for brunch the Saturday morning of the Nebula Awards weekend at Lovi’s Delicatessan in Calabasas, California where we chatted over brisket, latke, and of course, cheesecake.

We discussed what it was like to be critiqued by Octavia Butler at the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop, how she learned there’s no inherent goodness in being concise in one’s writing, the generational shift in mainstream literature’s acceptance of science fiction, why she’s an anarchist (though she’s really not), what she learned about writing as a reporter covering pinball professionally, how the things most people say are impossible actually aren’t, why you shouldn’t base your self-worth on your accomplishments, how to deal with writers block and impostor syndrome (and the way they’re sometimes connected), the proper way to depict mental illness in fiction, why whenever she writes erotica it turns out to be depressing, how she survived the controversy over “If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love,” and much more.

(6) MARTIN HOARE. The August issue of Ansible includes David Langford’s tribute to his friend, the late Martin Hoare, and a wonderful gallery of photos showing him from his time at Oxford (1972) through his latest adventures with Doris Panda (2018), plus prized moments like sharing the Hugo ceremony stage with George Takei at Nippon 2007.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 2, 1932 Peter O’Toole. Though his best-known role in genre was as Dr. Harry Wolper in Creator, I’d like to single out his performance as A. Conan Doyle in Fairytale: A True Story. And though uncredited, he’s a Scottish bagpiper in Casino Royale! (Died 2003.)
  • Born August 2, 1917 Wah Chang. Of interest to us is the props he designed for Star Trek: The Original Series including the tricorder and communicator. He did a number of other things for the series as the Rabbit you see on the “Shore Leave” episode, the Tribbles and the Romulan Bird of Prey. Other work included building the title object from The Time Machine, and the dinosaurs in Land of the Lost. (Died 2003.)
  • Born August 2, 1944 Susan Denberg, 75. One of the actresses in “Mudd’s Women”, she played Magda Kovacs. It was one of but two genre roles in her very brief acting career, the other that of Cristina in Frankenstein Created Woman, a British Hammer horror film. After two years as an actress, she returned to her native Austria. Rumors circulated that she become drug addicted and died a horrid death, but no, she’s alive and quite well.  
  • Born August 2, 1945 Joanna Cassidy, 74. She is known for being the replicant Zhora Salome in Blade Runner and Dolores in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, two of my favorite films. She also did really bad horror films that don’t bear thinking about.
  • Born August 2, 1948 Robert Holdstock. Another one who died far too young. His Ryhope Wood series is simply amazing with Lavondyss being my favourite volume. And let’s not overlook his Merlin Codex series which is one of the more original takes on that character I’ve read. The Ragthorn, co-written with Garry Kilworth, is interesting as well.(Died 2009.)
  • Born August 2, 1949 Wes Craven. Swamp Thing comes to mind first plus of course the Nightmare on Elm Street franchiseof nine films in which he created Freddy Krueger. Let’s not forget The Serpent and the Rainbow. (Died 2015.)
  • Born August 2, 1954 Ken MacLeod, 65. Sometimes I don’t realize until I do a Birthday note just how much I’ve read a certain author. And so it was of MacLeod. I’ve read the entire Fall Revolution series, not quite all of the Engines of Light Trilogy, all of The Fall Revolution, just the first two of the Corporation Wars and every one of his one-off novels save Descent. I should go find his Giant Lizards from Another Star collection as I’ve not read his short fiction. Damn, it’s not available digitally! 
  • Born August 2, 1976 Emma Newman, 43. Author of quite a few SF novels and a collection of short fiction. Of interest to us is that she is co-creator along with her husband Peter, of the Hugo Award winning podcast Tea and Jeopardy which centres around her hosting another creator for a nice cup of tea and cake, while her scheming butler Latimer (played by Peter) attempts to send them to their deaths at the end of the episode. 

(8) CHECK THE BACK OF YOUR CLOSET. An Associated Press story tells how “Unopened 1987 Nintendo video game could sell for $10,000”.

An unopened copy of a 1987 cult-classic video game that a Nevada man found in the attic of his childhood home is expected to sell for up to $10,000 at an online auction.

The boxed game cartridge of Nintendo’s “Kid Icarus” was still in the bag with the receipt for $38.45 from J.C. Penney’s catalog department three decades earlier.

Scott Amos of Reno told the Reno Gazette Journal he initially thought it might be worth a couple hundred dollars.

But Valarie McLeckie, video game consignment director at Heritage Auctions, says it’s one of the hardest Nintendo titles to find in sealed condition. She says there are fewer than 10 in the hands of vintage game collectors.

“To find a sealed copy ‘in the wild,’ so to speak, not to mention one in such a nice condition and one with such transparent provenance, is both an unusual and rather historic occurrence,” she said. “We feel that the provenance will add a significant premium for serious collectors.”

(9) THEY GIVE A SHIRT. The posters at Mumsnet are deciding what they think about Worldcon Dublin. The initial comment in the thread asks:

Any other GC fans going to Worldcon in Dublin? There’s already things I’ve seen on the schedule that make me want to stand outside in my AHF t-shirt but not brave enough to do it alone!

(The meaning of the initials is explained in the thread.)

(10) MORE ACCOUNTS OF MIGNOGNA HARASSMENT. Anime News Network’s “Former Tekkoshocon Staff Allege Mignogna Harassed Macross Voice Actress Mari Iijima” adds to its coverage of Vic Mignogna’s harassment history, this time with a conrunner as its main source:

…A former staff member of multiple U.S. anime conventions confirmed to ANN that she is the author of a Twitter thread that includes allegations about voice actor Vic Mignogna‘s conduct.

Lynn Hunt, who uses the Twitter name @ljmontello, has worked in many positions at anime conventions across the United States since 2000. She told ANN that at the Ohayacon event in Columbus, Ohio in 2003, she saw many instances of Mignogna inappropriately touching guests, fans, and other convention patrons. Hunt believes many of the attendees who Mignogna allegedly touched inappropriately looked young.

At the Anime Central (ACEN) convention in Rosemont, Illinois in 2004, Hunt says she saw Mignogna give his personal phone number to many young female fans, and touch and kiss other young female fans inappropriately. Again, she believes many of the other parties he allegedly touched and kissed looked young.

Most of Hunt’s allegations, however, relate to the Tekkoshocon event (now known as Tekko) in Pittsburgh. Hunt said that at this event in 2007, Mignogna allegedly harassed convention guest Mari Iijima, the Japanese voice of Lynn Minmay in The Super Dimension Fortress Macross anime.

Responding on Twitter to Hunt’s comments about Mignogna and Iijima, voice actor Brett Weaver claimed to have been on a panel at Tekkoshocon 2007 with both actors. He said, “I had never met Mari but just before the panel, she told me that she felt very uncomfortable being around him. I had her sit to my right, and when Vic arrived I made it clear he was going to sit to my left. He laughed and moved toward her. I looked him square in the eye and [said], ‘Nope. Sit there.’ We went through the panel and I don’t think Vic and I ever spoke again.” …

…[Hunt] said that she notified the Tekko convention staff on June 9, 2019 to give them a “heads up” that she would be posting material regarding Mignogna on Twitter. She said that she received no response from Tekko until after she started posting the material on June 27.

Tekko issued a statement on Twitter that said that no member of the current Board of Directors was present during the years in question, and that no documented harassment issues were passed along by the previous leadership team during the transition period.

(11) RACE AND THE FUTURE. CNN publicized an eye-opening report — “Robot racism? Yes, says a study showing humans’ biases extend to robots”. They mean robots that look like Caucasians, not the white plastic-bodied kind that I always thought were inspired by the laboratory-clean look of technology in the movie 2001.

Have you ever noticed the popularity of white robots?

You see them in films like Will Smith’s “I, Robot” and Eve from “Wall-E.” Real-life examples include Honda’s Asimo, UBTECH’s Walker, Boston Dynamics’ Atlas, and even NASA’s Valkyrie robot. All made of shiny white material. And some real-life humanoid robots are modeled after white celebrities, such as Audrey Hepburn and Scarlett Johansson.

The reason for these shades of technological white may be racism, according to new research.

“Robots And Racism,” a study conducted by the Human Interface Technology Laboratory in New Zealand (HIT Lab NZ) and published by the country’s University of Canterbury, suggests people perceive physically human-like robots to have a race and therefore apply racial stereotypes to white and black robots.

These colors have been found to trigger social cues that determine how humans react to and behave toward other people and also, apparently, robots.

“The bias against black robots is a result of bias against African-Americans,” lead researcher Christoph Bartneck explained to The Next Web. He told CNN, “It is amazing to see how people who had no prior interaction with robots show racial bias towards them.”

(12) FOR PEOPLE PURPLE EATERS. “Twinkie’s Latest Flavor Has A Mystery Moonberry Cream Filling” and Delish tells you where to find it.

American delicacy, the Twinkie, is looking a little different these days. On Thursday, Hostess announced its latest flavor launch, a mysterious dark blue Moonberry, and it’s out of this world.

…like literally. It’s got a whole galactic thing going.

By the looks of that packaging, it’s got the same shape as our OG Twinkie, but with a completely different taste and aesthetic otherwise. A rep for the brand told PEOPLE the dark sponge cake is meant to resemble the night sky. And that inside, an elusive Moonberry-flavored filling, is smooth, sweet, and fruity.

(13) WHAT THEY THOUGHT OF NEXT. That’s not Paul Revere, it’s Nerdist telling everyone “Fudge Brownie M&Ms Are Coming!”

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “While you Were Sleeping” on Vimeo, Charlie Stewart explains why robots always do their jobs.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/11/17 Ask Not What Your Pixel Can Scroll For You; Ask What You Can Scroll For Your Pixel

(1) 21ST CENTURY AIRPORT SECURITY. The Atlantic gives you an overview of the preparations, including a pair of anti-terrorism officials on-staff, at an airport with twice the police force of Pasadena — “Inside LAX’s New Anti-Terrorism Intelligence Unit”.

Today’s threats, whether terrorist or merely criminal, are increasingly networked and dispersed; it only makes sense that an institution’s response to them must take a similar form. It might sound like science fiction, but, in 20 years’ time, it could very well be that LAX has a stronger international-intelligence game than many U.S. allies. LAX field agents could be embedded overseas, cultivating informants, sussing out impending threats. It will be an era of infrastructural intelligence, when airfields, bridges, ports, and tunnels have, in effect, their own internal versions of the CIA—and LAX will be there first.

…[Stacey] Peel currently works in central London, where she is head of the “strategic aviation security” team at engineering super-firm Arup. She explained that every airport can be thought of as a miniature version of the city that hosts it. An airport thus concentrates, in one vulnerable place, many of the very things a terrorist is most likely to target. “The economic impact, the media imagery, the public anxiety, the mass casualties, the cultural symbolism,” Peel pointed out. “The aviation industry ticks all of those boxes.” Attack LAX and you symbolically attack the entirety of L.A., not to mention the nerve center of Western entertainment. It’s an infrastructural voodoo doll…

(2) OVER THE AIR. Bill Campbell of Rosarium Publishing was a guest today of Georgia Public Radio program On Second Thought, speaking about “The Women Who Pioneered Sci-Fi”. You can listen to the segment at the link.

A problem with some fantasy fiction narratives is the misogynistic treatment of female characters. The sci-fi world may still be very much dominated by men behind the scenes, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been female trailblazers. A new book explores some of those unsung heroines. It’s called “Sisters of Tomorrow: The First Women of Science Fiction.” We talked with the author, Georgia Tech professor Lisa Yaszek. We also spoke with Bill Campbell of Rosarium Publishing, which focuses on bringing more diversity to science fiction.

(3) TINY DANCER. Two-time Nebula winner Catherine Asaro is profiled in the Washingtonian: “She’s a Harvard PhD and Author of 26 Novels. She’ll Also Get Your Kids to Like Math”.

Washington’s suburbs are rich with overachieving kids and anxious parents, ambitious college goals and lengthy extracurricular commitments—and of course, supplementary-education programs and afterschool tutors. You can sign your kid up for soccer instruction by a women’s Premier League coach or for Lego robotics taught by engineering grad students. But even in this hothouse environment, Catherine Asaro stands out.

If math were a sport, she’d be its Morgan Wootten. For more than a decade, the brightest STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) prodigies in the area have taken classes from her in cinder-block-lined community rooms or cluttered spaces in her home. Her students have qualified for the USA Mathematical Olympiad and, in 2014, placed first and second at the University of Maryland High School Math Contest. In 2015, her team was named top program in the country by the Perennial Math Tournament. An entire wall in her living room is filled with trophies from MathCounts competitions. Asaro’s students have earned scholarships to the University of Maryland and attend places such as Stanford and MIT….

Asaro looks more like my image of a science-fiction writer than a math tutor—lots of rhinestones on her jeans and long-sleeved T-shirt; flowy dark hair; and a purring, confident voice that recalls another of her gigs: singing with a jazz band. On a living-room wall hangs a photo of her father, Frank Asaro, a Berkeley nuclear chemist who discovered the iridium anomaly that led to the asteroid theory of dinosaur extinction. Naturally, he also played classical piano. Asaro says that, like her dad, she started out more interested in music than in science, deciding to become a ballet dancer after seeing Swan Lake.

(4) PANELISTS FOR HELSINKI. The Worldcon 75 online signup for people wanting to be on the program is working again. The form will close on March 30th and Worldcon 75 will get back to everybody during March/April.

(5) WESTON SCHOLARSHIP. Steve Cooper announced there is a new Pete Weston Memorial Scholarship available to help fund someone attending Conrunner in the UK.

We were all saddened to hear of the death of Pete Weston last week. In his memory an anonymous donor is offering a scholarship to Conrunner to celebrate Pete’s contribution to convention running.

The scholarship will cover two nights accommodation and membership of Conrunner. It is open to anyone to apply – but if this is your first Conrunner – you will be given priority in the selection.

Please message me if you are interested or email me at con-runner@virginmedia.com

(6) ERIC FLINT UPDATE. The doctor had an encouraging word for Eric Flint.

I have some further news. My cancer has been further diagnosed as large diffuse B-Cell lymphona. That’s the most common type of cancer among adults, mostly hits older folks around 70 (my age) — my doctor calls it “the old fart’s disease” — and is about as white bread as lymphonas come. It responds very well to chemo, too.

So, it looks as if my luck is still holding out (allowing for “I’ve got cancer” values of luck.)

(7) BEWARE! Camestros Felapton understandably set his blog on autopilot and left town just before the unveiling of his new serial:

In the interim, starting Thursday morning Australian time will be the TWENTY-TWO PART serialisation of the annotated version of the early example of British genre fiction BEWARE THE CAT!

Each post has an introductory chatty bit which contains my mangled understanding of Tudor history, reformation theology and cat psychology, followed by a hefty chunk of my edited-for-readability-and-spelling version of Beware the Cat.

To cram it all in there will actually be several posts per day – so the blog will actually be busier than when I’m actually running it.

beware the annotated cat

Indeed and verily, the first installment is now online.

I have written for your mastership’s pleasure one of the stories which Mr. Streamer told last Christmas – which you so would have heard reported by Mr Ferrers himself. Although I am unable to tell it as pleasantly as he could, I have nearly used both the order and words of him that spoke them. I doubt not that he and Mr. Willet shall in the reading think they hear Mr Streamer speak, and he himself shall doubt whether he speaks.

(8) REMEMBERING METROPOLIS. Den of Geek! writer Jim Knipfel discusses “Metropolis at 90: The Enduring Legacy of a Pop Modernist Dystopia”.

In an interview with Peter Bogdanovich shortly before his death in 1976, Fritz Lang said of Metropolis, “You cannot make a social-conscious picture in which you say that the intermediary between the hand and the brain is the heart. I mean, that’s a fairy tale – definitely. But I was very interested in machines. Anyway, I didn’t like the picture – thought it was silly and stupid – then, when I saw the astronauts: what else are they but part of a machine? It’s very hard to talk about pictures—should I say now that I like Metropolis because something I have seen in my imagination comes true, when I detested it after it was finished?”

(9) MAKING A POINT. Sarah A. Hoyt, in “Sad Puppies, Gate Keeping, And We DID Build this”,  says what happened yesterday was not gate keeping, it was brand protecting. Which it was. But there’s a lot of haystack to go through before you get to the needle.

Even before I got to that post, and later in the other post that made me almost berserk again (I don’t think I’ve done this twice in one day since my teens) a friend had commented on how he gave the wrong impression and he should stop it already.  Later on there were also posts on a bizarre theme, one of which (the comments) is what caused the second berserk attack.

The theme was like this: Sad Puppies said they were against gate keepers, but now they’re trying to be gatekeepers.

There are so many missteps in that statement it’s hard to unpack.  First of all, no, Sad Puppies wasn’t against gatekeepers.  Sad Puppies was against the secret maneuvering that went on behind the awards.  (BTW it was never really a secret. When I was coming in, my mentors told me it was all log rolling and I had to roll the logs.)  And which people denied until they stopped denying it, in favor of shrieking at us to get off their lawns, and making up horrible lies about us.  (Unless, of course, you believe I’m a Mormon male.)

Second, in what way were we trying to be gatekeepers when we told an unauthorized person to stop pretending he was leading SP 5?

We were as much gatekeepers as, say, Baen would be when it told you you couldn’t call your indie publisher Baen Books For Real.  It might or might not violate a trademark (fairly sure it would) but more than that it’s false advertising and it violates the right of people to what they have built.

(10) TIL WE HAVE FACEBOOK. Author S.M. Stirling is not a Twitter user.

With every passing day, I become more convinced I did the right thing by not opening a Twitter account. It’s the Promised Land of aggressive stupidity, and makes otherwise smart and civilized people aggressively stupid. The world would be a better place if it didn’t exist.

(11) THIS JUST IN. Ansible Links reports —

Ansible Editions offers a free Then sample download in a naked attempt to influence BSFA shortlist voting and Hugo nominations

Looks like an obvious attempt to influence the Best Related Works category. Or blatant. Possibly both.

(12) DID ANYONE READ THE DRAGON AWARD WINNER? Doris V. Sutherland, in “Brian Niemeier: The Man Who Would Be (Stephen) King”, disputed that Niemeier’s Souldancer was among the most popular horror novels of 2016, but agreed he’s been successful at branding his work.

The rise of Kindle direct publishing has opened doors for an array of new writers, but it has also confronted them with a big question: how, in lieu of backing from a professional publisher, does you promote a novel?

…Search the space opera category in Amazon’s Kindle department, and I suspect that you will find numerous other indie books that are of equal or superior quality to Niemeier’s novels. Many of those have vanished into obscurity; and this would likely have been the fate of Souldancer, had its author kept his opinions to himself. Instead, by latching onto the Puppy/Superversive movement, he has picked up a loyal following; not a large following, as we have established, but one that has still managed to build him a sturdy echo chamber.

I would rather not write any further posts about Niemeier, as I do not want this to turn into the Doris vs. Brian blog, but I do find all of this an interesting case study in regards to indie publishing. The Puppies have evolved from a campaign centred around bagging an award for a specific author (that is, Larry Correia) into a brand that has granted new authors a platform – Niemeier and Finn being amongst them.

(13) CHUCK. Try and think of any other person people might try to vote a Hugo simply because they promised to show up at the award ceremony.

(14) EVERY DAY IS HALLOWEEN. That’s the name of Lisa Morton’s newsletter – you can subscribe through her blog. Morton, HWA President, recently told her newsletter readers —

Ellen Datlow and I have now finished up the editing on Hallows’ Eve, the next official HWA anthology. I’m ridiculously happy with the range and quality of the stories we’ve assembled. Here’s hoping we’ll have a cover reveal soon!

The HWA blog has released a list of the contributors:

The sixteen authors included are: Kelley Armstrong, Pat Cadigan, Elise Forier Edie, Brian Evenson, Jeffrey Ford, Eric J. Guignard, Stephen Graham Jones, Kate Jonez, Paul Kane, John Langan, John R. Little, Jonathan Maberry, Seanan McGuire, S. P. Miskowski, Garth Nix, and Joanna Parypinski.

(15) TIME TO REFUEL. Here is Fan-O-Rama: A Futurama Fan Film.

[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus, Steven H Silver, edd, JJ, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall.]

Pixel Scroll 4/1/16 There Has to Be a Trophy in Here Somewhere

It’s the First of April you know.

Bruce Campbell as Doctor Who

(1) PHAKE PHANS LISTEN UP. We predict there will be a journey in your future.

PHLEGMATIC PHLEAS ANNOUNCE TPP PHUND 2016 NOMINATIONS OPEN Nominations for the Phlegmatic Phleas’ TPP Phund (Trans-Planetary Phan Phund) are open. Note: Trip awards are one way only. Another note: Current funding is available for up to a dozen winners. Fifth note: You may nominate slates rather than individuals. Pre-Fifth note: Nominate someone you feel has earned the right to go far. Post-Fifth note: Sponsored by the “You Ain’t Nothin’ But A Hound Dog” Phoundation.

(2) A TALL TAIL. The Aurora Awards left a category out of today’s announcement: “Best Canadian Squirrel in a book, story or poem”.

  • Squirrelly McSquirrelface in, An Icebreaker goes North, Nuts Are Us books
  • Fuzzy Nutcracker in, The Galactic Safe, In Trees Publishing
  • Digger Moreholes in, “A Tail of Nuts”, Rodent Magazine, issue 341
  • Zippy Treeclimber in, “The Maze of Nuts”, Squirrel Poets, issue 1
  • Warhammer Graytail in, A Song of Oaks and Pine, Random Tree Press

We are proud to announce this special new category.  Stay tuned for more details.

(3) CONNIE THE DECEPTICON. Connie Willis’ April Fool’s Day blog post ends with a list of her dozen all-time favorite April 1 jokes. One of them is fake.

That’s another key to a good April Fool’s joke–details.  The more specific the story is, the more believable, especially if it involves science.  Or a technology that’s already in our lives.  Like lasers or smartphones.  Or digital watches.   My favorite April Fool’s joke of all time was the one the BBC did where they announced Big Ben was going to go digital.  A bright green digital readout was going to replace the four Victorian clock faces.  You can imagine how that was received!

(4) A HAIRY PROBLEM. At the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum “Tribble Trial Trends Toward Trouble”.

Stardate 1604.01: At 12:01 am EDT this morning, the National Air and Space Museum began breeding tribbles. This bold, innovative, not-at-all-ill-advised experiment will run for 24 hours, until 11:59 pm tonight, allowing Museum specialists to study the galaxy’s most adorable ecological disaster in greater detail than ever before. The tribble trial utilizes five original specimens of the species Polygeminus grex from the original Star Trek television series, donated to the Museum in 1973.

 

(5) THE DECENT THING TO DO. You heard it here last: “National Geographic to Stop Publishing Nude Animal Pictures”.

The media group says that it will no longer degrade animals by showing photos of them without clothes.

(6) MIGHT CHANGE HIS MIND TOMORROW. Joe Vasicek explains “Why I stopped writing”, at One Thousand And One Parsecs.

This will probably come as a shock to most of you, but I’ve decided to give up writing. It was a good run while it lasted, but the time has come to pack it away with my other childhood dreams, like living on a houseboat or becoming a paleontologist.

Why did I give up writing? Because frankly, I just don’t have any new ideas anymore. Whenever I manage to come up with one, it turns out that someone else has already done it. Accidental marriage in space? Firefly. Trek across a desert planet? Dune. Colonizing an unexplored nebula? I don’t know off the top of my head, but I’m sure it’s been done before.

(7) IT IS THE END MY FRIEND. io9’s James Whitbrook declared “There Was Only One Decent April Fools’ Day Prank Today, and This Is It”

Friends, we’ve finally made it: The hellishly wearisome event that is April Fool’s Day is basically at its end. We at io9 despise this black day, but even our curmudgeonly souls got a smile out of this “prank” by the Canadian Library and Archives, which claimed to have dug up Wolverine’s military records from its collection.

The organization announced today that it had secured the declassified journals and military records of Canada’s most famous son: James “Logan” Howlett, better known to his legion of comic book fans a X-Man Wolverine.

(8) JOKES BECOME REAL IF YOU PAY ENOUGH. ThinkGeek offers a “Star Trek White Noise Sleep Machine”

ivmt_st_white_noise_sleep_machine

As effective as the Vulcan nerve pinch

  • Drift off to sleep to a familiar low thrum
  • 8 sounds from 5 different spacecraft
  • Projects a moving starfield on your ceiling

Is this genuine? At a price of $149.99 it must be.

(9) TODAY IN FOOLISH HISTORY.

  • April 1, 1964 The Horror of Party Beach opens on April Fools’ Day.

Party Beach

(10) THE TRUTH WILL OUT. SciFiNow ranks “The Top 10 Avengers TV Episodes”. Number 1 is “The Hidden Tiger” (Mar 1967).

“Pussies galore!” Ronnie Barker’s cat-rescue home is the centre of a magnificently ludicrous plot to turn domestic moggies into man-eating killers. A feel-good feline frolic exemplifying prime Avengers.

(11) EDELMAN HOMES IN ON THE RANGE. Scott Edelman’s latest installment of Eating the Fantastic features Carolyn Ives Gilman —

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Carolyn Ives Gilman

A new Eating the Fantastic is now live! Episode 5 was recorded with Carolyn Ives Gilman at Range in Friendship Heights, Maryland.

We discussed what’s kept her coming back to her Twenty Planets universe for a quarter of a century, how her first science fiction convention was “total sensory overload,” what it was like working with David Hartwell as an editor, why she’s not visible on social media, and more.

Edelman says, “If all goes well, the next will be Andy Duncan.”

(12) DOC WEIR. Winner of the Doc Weir award for unsung UK fan heroes is Kathy Westhead. [Via Ansible.]

(13) MYSTERY GATHERS. Deadline Hollywood says an MST3K reunion is in the works – “Full ‘MST3K’ Casts To Reunite For RiffTrax 10th Anniversary”.

In the 17 years since the cult TV series’ cancellation, the creative team behind Mystery Science Theater 3000 have never fully reunited in public. That changes this summer as part of the 10th anniversary of MST3K offshoot Rifftrax, with RiffTrax Live: MST3K Reunion Show, a live event to be performed in Minneapolis on June 28 and broadcast to theaters nationwide by Fathom Events. Tickets will be available April 15th from the official RiffTrax website.

(14) MORE FROM LEVINE. David D. Levine’s new Wild Cards novelette “Discards” is a free read at Tor.com. And more!

My superhero story “Into the Nth Dimension,” originally published in Human for a Day, has been podcast at GlitterShip — narrated by me!. The full text is also available on the web to read for free. You can read or listen here.

I will be appearing at Emerald City Comicon in Seattle next Friday, April 8 (one day only). I’ll be on the panel “Aliens and Airships and Authors, Oh My!”, followed by an autograph session. At other times you can most likely find me at the WordFire Press booth.

I’ve sold an essay, “How to Sell a Novel in Only Fifteen Years,” to the nonfiction anthology The Usual Path to Publication. It comes out in June and you can pre-order it here.

(15) BVS WINS BY LOSING. This was posted on March 30, just saying…. “Batman V Superman Sets Unwanted Box Office Record”.

‘Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice’ may have netted the fourth biggest opening weekend of all time, but according to business site Forbes, it’s broken a record that may be rather less welcome.

It’s recorded the worst audience drop-off over a weekend for any superhero movie in ‘modern box office history’.

Attendance has plummeted for the critically-hammered movie, which sets Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel against Ben Affleck’s Caped Crusader.

It dropped an eye-popping 55% between Friday and Sunday, a figure which even beats the 48% drop in numbers set by the much-despised ‘Fantastic Four’ last summer…

(16) POST TAFF STRESS SYNDROME. Wolf von Witting is still recovering from losing TAFF.

On the first day, it was grossly tear-jerking ballads. On the second day I went on to heavy metal and other music which blows the crap out from a brain (where there is one). But in the night before the third day, my scary godmother (she doesn’t like being called a fairy) came to me in a dream and announced that I was to become the pope of European sf-fandom. “You’re supposed to reform TAFF, not win it!” she said and hit me over the back of my head with her magic wand.

She had… a beaver sitting on her left shoulder, and suddenly it became so clear to me why I lost again. It was meant to be this way, folks. We’re not living in 1952 anymore. It’s EASY and relatively cheap crossing the Atlantic now. If the yanks wish to meet the pope of European fandom, there are two ways.

1) come to Italy – that’s where the pope lives.

2) I’d be absolutely delighted to accept any FGoH invitation they send (we have American guests all the time over here in Europe. You can afford it, if you care to meet the pope).

The Gods of fandom have resolved the issue to the best of all possible outcomings. Filkers are not stupid, mind you. They knew what they were up against. So they just did what was necessary to win and I have to both salute and bless them for that. Before my scary godmother went away, she uttered some magic mumbo jumbo in an obscure language I didn’t quite understand (could have been Albanian).I recall the final three words: “Nnn.. in come Pope!”

(17) HUGO PROBABILITY SEMINAR. Chaos Horizon’s Brandon Kempner reveals his prediction in “Estimating the 2016 Hugo Nominations, Part 5”.

By breaking these out into three groups and three turnout scenarios (40%, 60%, 80%), I produced 27 different models. To conclude, we can look to see if certain books show up in a lot models, and then I’ll make that my prediction….

So that makes the official 2016 Chaos Horizon Hugo prediction as follows:

  • Seveneves, Neal Stephenson
  • Uprooted, Naomi Novik
  • The Aeronaut’s Windlass, Jim Butcher
  • Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie
  • Somewhither, John C. Wright

(18) CYBORG OLYMPICS. A video of people are competing in the world’s first “cyborg Olympics.” The Cybathlon competitors, called pilots, use technology to compensate for disabilities.

(19) VERTLIEB DOCUMENTARY GAINS MOMENTUM. Diabolique online magazine is getting behind the Steve Vertlieb feature documentary The Man Who “Saved” The Movies.

vert4The first film from Gull Cottage / Sandlot’s newly minted “Gull Cottage & Flying Bear” banner, STEVE VERTLIEB: THE MAN WHO “SAVED” THE MOVIES is the feature-length documentary delving into the colorful life, career and ultimate legacy of cinema archivist, journalist, historian and film music educator STEVE VERTLIEB – who’s quiet, unassuming persona belies his growing status as one of the most respected of figures to a new generation of cinema buffs, filmmakers, and, surprisingly, even that most fickle and verbose of filmdom’s family tree –  the genre fanboy.

A former on-air TV reviewer of film, and magazine writer, Steve’s learned and literate dissertations on cinema over the last near half-century have made him a much sought after consultant on numerous projects, including an appearance in the 2006 award winning documentary KREATING KARLOFF, and as consultant on TCM’s 75th Anniversary Restoration of Merian C. Cooper’s original KING KONG. Widely considered one of the nation’s foremost experts on the legendary “Great Ape”, his numerous articles on the subject (including that in the still definitive volume THE GIRL IN THE HAIRY PAW) is referenced to this day by film makers, teachers and cinema students alike.

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(20) MY APRIL 1 INSPIRATION. Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Lt. Worf Bloopers.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Clifford Samuels, Glenn Hauman, Hampus Eckerman, Steve Vertlieb, and Daniel Dern for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Ansible Now on Twitter

The fanzine named after that legendary communications device of the far future, Ansible, has opened an account on that infamous communications medium of the immediate present — Twitter.

I’ve often wondered how I overlooked “ansible” when I was thinking of a name for my own fanzine (it not having been taken yet). But even if a time traveler had come and whispered the information in our ears, I doubt either Dave or I would have been tempted to name a newzine Twitter.

Or so I assume. You really can never predict what will strike a fan’s fancy. Once there was a newzine, Ratatosk, named after the squirrel that runs up and down the tree Yggdrasil spreading news to the inhabitants. Twitter might be a better name than that. Or even File 770.

Saving Children from Ansible?

Dave Langford is incensed to discover his Ansible site, the SF Encyclopedia and many other websites of the science fiction field are being filtered by British internet service providers attempting to comply with UK legislation that created what is satirically referred to as the “Great Firewall of David Cameron.”

He provides full details in an SFE post “SF Encyclopedia – unsuitable for under-18s?” with screen captures from O2‘s “website status checker” page that can be used to research what is blocked by default by that particular ISP — accessible only if a subscriber opts-in using the Parental Controls.

Project Ansible

Science is hard at work delivering the science fictional technologies we all demand. The tricorder. The warp drive. Tractor beams. Teleportation. Now (drum roll please) Steven H Silver reports, “My company (but different division) is working to make the ansible a reality.” 

“Well, sort of,” he adds.

Siemen’s Project Ansible is described in eWeek as a platform —

that is designed to enable organizations to more seamlessly unify voice, video, social communication, search and business applications. Ansible will make it easier and less time-consuming for users to do everything from looking for information in multiple sources to conducting live and virtual meetings to generating transcripts.

And Siemens will happily tell you a lot more about the product here.

Once again I am green with envy! Steven immediately associated the project’s name with Langford’s fanzine. When a company released a “770” phone, and Remington manufactured a “Model 770” rifle, did anybody notice? Not one peep!

Of course, anonymity isn’t always a bad thing. Nobody’s ever linked me to that lousy series of YouTube videos about Agent 770 either…