Pixel Scroll 7/9/20 Too Strange To Win A Hugo, The Unexploded Book

(1) US IN FLUX. The latest story from the Center for Science and the Imagination’s Us in Flux project launched today: “The Wandering City,” a story about temporal anomalies, public spaces, and a new global consciousness by Usman T. Malik.

On Monday, 7/13 at 4pm Eastern, they’ll have another virtual event on Zoom with Usman in conversation with James Graham, an architect and historian and director of the great series Columbia Books on Architecture and the City. Register at the link.

(2) AURORA AWARDS VOTING. Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association members can now vote online for the Aurora Awards through July 25. You must be logged in with an active CSFFA membership in order to access the voting page.

In addition, our Nominee’s Page is now live

This page provides informatin on this year’s Aurora nominees.  

The Voter Package Downloads also give you access to many of the works up for the awards this year.  Like with voting, you need to be logged in to the website with an active membership to access these downloads.

(3) OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN. [Item by Olav Rokne.]  The Manchester Guardian newspaper pays tribute to Star Trek icon Sir Patrick Stewart on the advent of his 80th birthday today, printing reminiscences from numerous of Stewart’s friends, colleagues, and co-stars. It’s a delightful piece to read,and paints a picture of someone who is not only iconic, but warmly human. My favorite bit is from his X-Men co-star Ian McKellen: “He’s long forgiven me my advice not to risk a solid career on the British stage by falling for an uncertain future in Star Trek.” “‘He’s so strapping and virile’: Patrick Stewart at 80 – by Shatner, McKellen, Tennant and more”  

‘I said: “Wear silk stockings to avoid chafing”’

William Shatner

He’s a love and he is an intellectual in an athlete’s body. We had a long horse scene to do together once, and I recommended him wearing women’s silk stockings to avoid chafing and he nodded his head as a thank you. When he came out of his dressing room, he was wearing the lace stockings outside of his costume. “No, no, Patrick, underneath your costume!” We laughed, as we ordinarily did. I didn’t know he was so old.

(4) BRIDGE PLAYER. In his own way. “Hugo Fan Writer: Why you should vote for…Paul Weimer” – fifth entry in Camestros Felapton’s series.

… It can’t be true that Paul Weimer knows everybody in science fiction but if we were to draw a huge network graph, I think Paul would be at on of those nodes that helps joins multiple groups together. A regular columnist and pod-casting panellist in multiple venues, Paul is an insightful observer of the wider landscape of science fiction and fantasy. Paul is a bridge that links communities and people (exemplified by his revival of the popular mind-meld posts (http://www.nerds-feather.com/2019/09/the-hugo-initiative-mind-meld-favorite.html ).

(5) CHILLING OUT. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina to end with Part 4″ reports Entertainment Weekly.

…On Wednesday, Netflix announced that Chilling Adventures of Sabrina will conclude with Part 4 of the series, meaning that the final eight episodes will be the series’ last. Those eight episodes are set to air in late 2020 and will explore what happens when The Eldritch Terrors descend upon Greendale. (Odds are it won’t be good.)

(6) FANTASTIKA (SWECON 2020) NEWS. Even a postponement til October won’t work, so this year’s con is off. Carolina Gómez Lagerlöf told Facebook followers:

We had a committee meeting last Monday. We decided not to have Fantastika in October. We do not know when the restriction about having a max attendance of 50 persons is going to end. What we are thinking of is organising a smaller event for local fans in October with some items that are web based. We are also planning to move Fantastika to spring.

(7) THE PEOPLE SPEAK. Inverse ran a poll: “The Best Netflix Science Fiction Show, According To 1,200 Inverse Readers”. The winner is not a surprise, but I thought #2 was.

In an effort to decide which Netflix sci-fi show is actually the best, Inverse asked our readers to fill out an online poll and over 1,200 of you did (1,234 to be exact). Here are the results, presented from worst (or least popular) to best science fiction series.

In first place —

1. STRANGER THINGS

We always knew it would end this way. Stranger Things is Netflix’s biggest original anything ever, and it gets bigger with each new season. With 377 votes, it’s also the winner of our poll by a huge margin. And with Stranger Things Season 4 delayed indefinitely due to Covid-19, there’s never been a better time to rewatch the entire series, right?

(8) RETIRING, BUT NOT FROM READING. Shelf Awareness’ news item “Nan A. Talese Retiring at End of Year” ends with this quote from a major genre figure:

Margaret Atwood commented: “No editor has seen so many changes and done so much in publishing as the legendary and much beloved Nan Talese, known fondly to some as ‘the Nanster.’ She first came into my life at Simon & Schuster, then dragged me behind her troika as she galloped through the wilderness to Houghton Mifflin–where she acquired The Handmaid’s Tale sight unseen, in a preemptive bid–and then sashayed over to Doubleday. ‘Nanster, what are you doing?’ I cried in dismay. ‘I like a challenge,’ she said calmly, adjusting her white beret and trademark pearls. I can’t imagine her actually ‘retiring.’ It’s a figure of speech. She will continue reading, and reading my work, I hope, and offering commentary: ‘None of these people are very nice.’ “

(9) THE WRONG FUTURE. Megan Garber contends “Americans Are Living in an Alternate History” in The Atlantic.

…So I was unprepared when, watching Sliding Doors again recently, I found myself absolutely wrecked by the viewing. The movie’s perky setup was agonizing; its cheerful toggling between Helen’s two fates felt painful to witness. Because when I watched the movie this time around—in the midst of a global pandemic that has killed more than 500,000 people, with no end in sight—I wasn’t just thinking of Helen’s divergent futures. I was thinking of everyone else’s. To be alive in America right now is to be acutely aware of the paths not taken—to live, essentially, in the Sliding Doors proposition, and in the paradigm of the alternate history. Our news is doubly haunted: by the horror of real loss, and by the shadow of what might have been.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 9, 1926 – Murphy Anderson.  Drew for Planet and Amazing; after his World War II service, also Fantastic Adventures and Buck Rogers.  At DC he drew the AtomBatmanthe FlashGreen LanternHawkmanthe SpectreSuperman; inked Gil Kane, Carmine Infantino, Curt Swan; designed the costume of Adam Strange.  Drew Wonder Woman for the first cover of Ms.  Helped me with the L.A.con II Program Book (42nd Worldcon) when we gave the Forry Award to Julie Schwartz.  Seven Alleys; Inkpot; Kirby, Eisner, Sinott Halls of Fame.  (Died 2015) [JH]
  • Born July 9, 1927 – Robert Goldston.  Four novels for us, ten covers for Nebula (as by James Stark), like this (back cover by Ken McIntyre), and this and this (back covers by Atom).  Guggenheim Fellowship.  Histories, juveniles, many more.  (Died 1982) [JH]
  • Born July 9, 1927 Susan Cabot. Her final film appearance was in Roger Corman’s horror feature, The Wasp Woman in which she played the lead role.  She played Sybil Carrington in his earlier SF film, War of the Satellites. And in yet a third Corman film, The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent, she was Enger. (Died 1986.) (CE)
  • Born July 9, 1938 Brian Dennehy. He was Walter in the Cocoon films, and, though it’s more genre adjacent than actually genre, Lt. Leo McCarthy in F/X and F/X 2. He also voiced Django in Ratatouille. His very last performance was as Jerome Townsend in the “Sing, Sing, Sing” episode of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels series. (Died 2020.) (CE)
  • Born July 9, 1911 Mervyn Peake. Best remembered for the Gormenghast series which is delightfully weird. Most fans hold that there are but there novels in the series (Titus GroanGormenghast and Titus Alone) though there’s a novella, “Boy in Darkness”, that might be part of it. It has been adapted for radio three times and television once, and Gaiman is writing the script for a forthcoming series. (Died 1968.) (CE)
  • Born July 9, 1945 – Dean Koontz, 75.  A hundred novels, sixty shorter stories; nine pen names; translated into forty languages; 500 million copies sold.  Used to look like Gordon Liddy but tired of it and changed.  Warns that supposed appearances in fanzines after 1968 are suspect, the tale to be told in his memoirs.  His Website is here.  [JH]
  • Born July 9, 1946 – Lynne Aronson, 74.  Recruited by Phyllis Eisenstein.  Entered the NyCon 3 Masquerade (25th Worldcon) in a dress made of magazine rejection slips.  With husband Mark co-founded Windycon, chaired the first three, Guests of Honor at Windycon XV and XXX (some use Roman numerals, some don’t).  Organized, if that word may be used in a fanzine, the Noreascon Two One-Shot Chorale (38th Worldcon).  [JH]
  • Born July 9, 1957 – Todd Lockwood, 63.  A hundred eighty book and magazine covers, a hundred sixty interiors.  Here is a cover for Analog.  Here is Karavans.  Here is Resurgence.  Known too for Dungeons & Dragons.  Twelve Chesleys, one for Cerberus the Aardvark.  Artbook, Transitions.  [JH]
  • Born July 9, 1971 Scott Grimes, 49. He’s Lieutenant Gordon Malloy. on The Orville, a show I’ve not watched and so would very much like to hear what y’all think of it. He did show up once in the Trek verse, playing Eric in the “Evolution“ episode Of Star Trek: The Next Generation. (CE)
  • Born July 9, 1972 – Rachel Hartman, 48.  Three novels; a dozen cartoons in Strange Horizons.  Madrigal choir, the QuasiModals.  Having shown us the Goreddi religion she takes particular interest in its saints and their dogs.  Admits her chief failing as a Canadian is that she is not a hockey person, but she did interview Ngozi Ukazu.  [JH]
  • Born July 9, 1978 Linda Park, 42. Best-known for her portrayal of communications officer character Hoshi Sato on the Enterprise. Her first genre role was Hannah in Jurassic Park III, she was Renee Hansen in Spectres which Marina Sirtis is also in. She was in some called Star Trek: Captain Pike three years back as Captain Grace Shintal. It has to be another one of those fan video fictions. (CE)
  • Born July 9, 1995 Georgina Henley, 25. English actress, best remembered  for her portrayal of Lucy Pevensie throughout the Chronicles of Narnia film franchise from age ten to age fifteen.  She’s listed as having an unspecified role in an untitled Game of Throne prequel series but given the number of those proposed, this may or may not exist. (CE)

(11) LEFTOVER MATERIALS. “Pullman to Publish New Story Set in World of His Dark Materials”Publishers Weekly has the story.

In time for the 25th anniversary of his beloved fantasy series-starter The Golden Compass, British author Philip Pullman will publish a new standalone short story featuring Lyra Belacqua and her daemon Pan. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers announced today the October 15 release of Serpentine in hardcover and ebook format, featuring illustrations by Tom Duxbury. Listening Library will simultaneously release an audiobook, narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Olivia Colman (The CrownThe Favourite).

(12) IF THERE WERE AIRBNB REVIEWS OF THESE. Riley Sager, in “Don’t Stay In These Famous Literary Haunted Houses!” on CrimeReads, has Airbnb news of haunted houses where you shouldn’t go on vacation, including the house where The Amityville Horror was set “how can you list a place on this site and NOT MENTION THERE’S A DEMON PIG!” and the Overlook Hotel, setting for The Shining (“I’m not sorry the place was destroyed #sorrynotsorry”.)

(13) ON YOUR MARK. Nate Hoffelder’s good work in registering www.cirsova.com and pointing it at Black Lives Matter caught someone’s attention:

Hmm, a search of the US Patent and Trademark Office shows no dead or live attempts to register Cirsova as a trademark. Maybe Nate could do that next?

(14) THEY’RE SO EASILY CONFUSED. Rich Lynch insists “No, I am not trying to buy the New York Mets!” That’s a look-alike making sports news: “Steve Cohen is reportedly back in the running to buy the Mets”. Sort of twins separated at the age of 60?

(15) ON THE SQUARE. The New York Times says the North American Scrabble Players Association has ”agreed to remove all slurs from their word list for Scrabble tournament play.” “Scrabble Tournaments Move Toward Banning Racial and Ethnic Slurs”.

Josephine Flowers became a ranked, competitive Scrabble player more than a dozen years ago, and to commemorate the moment, she inscribed her custom-built game board with one of her favorite sayings: “Never underestimate the power of words.”

The phrase serves as a constant reminder to her that, even when people say that the words formed on a Scrabble board are supposedly divorced of meaning, they can still inflict pain.

That is why Flowers, who is Black, and several other members of the North American Scrabble Players Association, have called on the organization to ban the use of an anti-Black racial slur, and as many as 225 other offensive terms, from its lexicon.

“You could be sitting there for a 45-minute game just looking at that word,” said Flowers, a mental health worker from West Memphis, Ark. “And if you don’t know the person who played it, then you wonder, was it put down as a slight, or was it the first word that came to their mind?”

Needless to say, the article does not include a list of these 226 terms.

(16) QUICKER FIX. “Cathedral’s spire will be restored to 19th Century design”.

The spire of Notre Dame cathedral, which was destroyed in a fire last April, will be restored according to the original Gothic design.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced the decision, putting an end to speculation that the spire would be rebuilt in a modern style.

Mr Macron had previously hinted he was in favour of a “contemporary gesture”.

However he has said he wants the restoration to be completed by 2024, when Paris is hosting the Olympics.

The Elysée said Mr Macron’s main concern was “not delaying the reconstruction and making it complicated – things had to be cleared up quickly”.

It added that the process of designing a modern spire, with an international competition for architects, could have caused unnecessary delays.

(17) RATS LIKE US. “To Come To The Rescue Or Not? Rats, Like People, Take Cues From Bystanders” says NPR.

Rats will enthusiastically work to free a rat caught in a trap — and it turns out that they are especially eager to be a good Samaritan when they’re in the company of other willing helpers.

But that urge to come to the rescue quickly disappears if a potential hero is surrounded by indifferent rat pals that make no move to assist the unfortunate, trapped rodent.

These findings, reported Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, suggest that rats are similar to people in that they’re usually eager to help, but bystanders can affect whether or not they’ll take action in an emergency.

“We are constantly looking at others to see their reactions. And this is not a human thing. This is a mammalian thing,” says Peggy Mason, a neurobiologist at the University of Chicago, adding that it’s something she watches play out in the daily news.

…”With the addition of more and more bystanders, the likelihood of helping goes progressively lower,” Mason explains. “It’s in every textbook. It’s a pillar of modern psychology.”

Until recently, though, the bystander effect had only been tested in humans. And Mason studies rats.

(18) KEEP COOL. “‘Don’t scream and be serious’ Japan theme park tells rollercoaster riders”

Many people might find it tricky keeping quiet through an entire roller coaster ride, but one Japanese theme park wants you to do that – and more.

Fuji-Q Highland near Tokyo re-opened last month after its virus shutdown.

It asked riders to avoid screaming when they go on its rollercoasters, to minimise spreading droplets, and instead “scream inside your heart”.

And to encourage people to play along, it’s getting riders to put on their most “serious face” for the ride photo.

They can share their photo online in the #KeepASeriousFace challenge, and those who do best will be given free day passes

…The no screaming rule – in addition to the mandatory use of masks – is meant to stop potential virus-carrying droplets from flying out of your mouth at 80mph.

Clearly, it’ll be impossible to enforce this ruling – and according to executives who spoke to the Wall Street Journal, violations will not actually be punished.

But it’s all part of measures being taken by theme parks to give customers the confidence to return after the shutdowns, and assure them their safety is being taken seriously.

[Thanks to Olav Rokne, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Chip Hitchcock, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 5/22/20 Is A Palindrone An Unmanned Craft That Can Fly Backwards As Well As Forwards?

(1) LETTING THE GENE OUT OF THE BOTTLE. One of the field’s most esteemed writers delivers Whatever’s recurring feature today: “The Big Idea: Nancy Kress”.

At parties in my city—environmentally conscious, crunchy-granola, high-tech and socially activist Seattle—it is easy to start a flaming argument. Just walk up to a group, tilt your head, and say inquiringly, “What do you think of GMOs?” Then stand back to avoid being scorched.

Genetically modified organisms have passionate denouncers and equally passionate supporters. This is especially true for GMO crops, since the genemod bacteria and animals are usually hidden away in labs, ranches, or manufacturing facilities. But there is GMO food right out front on your table, plated in front of your kids. Everybody has an opinion.

Including me.

But I didn’t want my new novella from Tachyon, Sea Change, to be a polemic for one side of the controversy. I wanted to explore in a balanced way both sides of the myriad questions involved….

(2) HARRY POTTER READINGS. This edition is really cool.

(3) KEEPING AN EAR ON YOU. Mara Hvistendahl’s article “How a Chinese AI Giant Made Chatting—and Surveillance—Easy” in the June WIRED reports that iFlytek does a really good job of translation — and also allows Chinese authorities to track users by the sound of their voices.

When I mentioned iFlytek’s work to a friend in Shanghai, she said it reminded her of the story ‘City of Silence’ by the Chinese science fiction writer Ma Boyong.  The story is set in a future society where speech is tightly controlled.  The people are clever at adapting to each new limit, turning to homonyms and slang to circumvent censors, and in time the authorities realize that the only way to truly control speech is to publish a List of Healthy Words, forbid all terms not on the list, and monitor voice as well as text.  Anytime the protagonist leaves the house, he has to wear a device called the Listener, which issues a warning when he strays from the list of approved words.  The realm of sanctioned speech dwindles day by day.

Eventually the protagonist discovers the existence of a secret Talking Club, where in an apartment encircled by lead curtains, members say whatever they want, have sex, and study 1984,  Feeling alive again, he realizes that he has been suppressing ‘a strong yearning to talk.’  This brief encounter with hope is squelched when the authorities develop radar dishes that can intercept signals through lead curtains.  By the end of the story, there are no healthy words left, and the hero walks the city mutely, alone with his thoughts.  ‘Luckily, it was not yet possible to shield the mind with technology.’ Ma writes.

(4) EMPIRE AT 40. “Star Wars drops 40th anniversary poster for ‘The Empire Strikes Back'”Yahoo! Movies UK shared the image and some other interesting links.

This week marks the 40th anniversary of Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back.

Considered by most to be the blockbuster franchise’s finest moment, the second Star Wars film stunned audiences around the world with a killer twist and the ultimate downbeat ending.

To celebrate the film’s 40th year, Lucasfilm and Disney have gone all out, uploading a wealth of content to StarWars.com including a brand new interview with series creator George Lucas.

(5) YA GOTTA BELIEVE. Inverse has already mined that Lucas interview for a post: “George Lucas reveals a shocking connection between Yoda and Baby Yoda”.

Frank Oz, the original puppeteer and voice behind Yoda, also created several Muppet characters along with Jim Henson. You don’t think of Oz’s Miss Piggy as a puppet, you think of her as a pig. And, it’s the same with Yoda and Baby Yoda: We think of them as whatever it is they are supposed to be, not as a kooky fake thing.

But, it turns out, that creating that illusion requires a very specific philosophy. And in a new interview celebrating the 40th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, George Lucas touched on one fascinating connection between the original Yoda in 1980 and Baby Yoda on The Mandalorian.

Over on the official Star Wars website, George Lucas is talking about The Empire Strikes Back. For diehards, there’s not necessarily a ton of new information in this interview, after all, people have been meticulously documenting the making of Star Wars movies since Star Wars began. But, in talking about the director or The Empire Strikes Back —Irvin Kershner — one detail about how Yoda was shot on set will raise your eyebrow if you’ve been following all the behind-the-scenes action on The Mandalorian.

From StarWars.com:

“Kershner treated Yoda like an actor on set, sometimes talking to the prop instead of addressing Oz down below.”

This is significant because nearly 40 years later, the exact same thing happened on the set of The Mandalorian. In the behind-the-scenes documentary series Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian, director Deborah Chow confirmed what was cropping up in several reports already; cinematic legend Werner Herzog spoke directly to Baby Yoda puppet on the set, and, like Kershner did on Empire, treated the puppet exactly like an actor….

(6) AURORA NEWS. Members of the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association will want to know: “Aurora Awards – Voter Package Downloads now available”.

Awards voting opens June 20 and ends July 25 at 11:59:59 EDT.

(7) CASTAWAYS WITH ETIQUETTE. James Davis Nicoll lists “Four SF Stories That Are More Gilligan’s Island Than Lord of the Flies for Tor.com readers.

…It turns out that even castaway kids will flout convention, as this Guardian article reveals. With no regard for the feelings of authority figures, six Tongan boys spent over a year marooned on a deserted island without even one brutal murder. Instead they cooperated and survived; they even cared for one of the boys who broke his leg…. 

(8) MARTIAN MUD PIMPLES. The German Aerospace Center suspects there are “Lava-like mud flows on Mars”.

Laboratory experiments show that at very low temperatures and under very low atmospheric pressure, mud behaves similar to flowing lava on Earth.

Results suggest that tens of thousands of conical hills on Mars, often with a small crater at their summit, could be the result of mud volcanism.

(9) MOVING TARGET. The paradigm shifts! And CNN tries to sort it out — “J.K. Rowling stupefies fans by revealing the truth around the origins of ‘Harry Potter'”

The news came after a fan posted a picture on Twitter of the Elephant House, a coffee shop in Edinburgh which on its website describes itself as the place “made famous as the place of inspiration to writers such as J.K. Rowling, who sat writing much of her early novels in the back room overlooking Edinburgh Castle.”

The fan asked Rowling to explain “the truth about this ‘birthplace’ of Harry Potter.”

Rowling, who is known to drop various bombshells and unknown tidbits about the franchise on Twitter, explained that the real “pen to paper” birth of Harry Potter himself, happened in her flat.

“If you define the birthplace of Harry Potter as the moment when I had the initial idea, then it was a Manchester-London train,” Rowling tweeted.

“But I’m perennially amused by the idea that Hogwarts was directly inspired by beautiful places I saw or visited, because it’s so far from the truth.”

(10) CHECK YOUR SHELVES. “Harry Potter first edition found in skip sells for £33,000”. No, J.K. Rowling’s revelation above is not the reason that book got chucked. It happened a long time ago. And hey, the librarian was just doing their job when they dumped that worn-out volume!

A hardback first edition Harry Potter book which was found in a skip has sold for £33,000 at auction.

The rare copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was discovered by a teacher 12 years ago along with two paperback first editions.

The anonymous seller found the books outside a school while tidying its library before an Ofsted inspection.

After the paperbacks went for £3,400 and £3,000, the seller said: “To say I’m pleased is an understatement.”

They were sold during an online auction at Bishton Hall in Staffordshire earlier.

Only 500 hardback first editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone were printed in 1997, most of which were sent to schools and libraries.

(11) RITA RETIRED. The Guardian’s take on RWA’s new award, “The Vivian” — “Romance Writers of America aims for happy end to racism row with new prize”.

Romance Writers of America is attempting to turn the page on a damaging racism row, abolishing its top literary prizes and replacing them with awards in a new format it hopes will show “happily ever afters are for everyone” and not just white protagonists.

The association of more than 9,000 romance writers is developing proposals to encourage more diverse winners, including training for its judges, an award for unpublished authors and processes to ensure books are judged by people familiar with each subgenre.

The RWA has been at the centre of an acrimonious debate about diversity, criticised for the paucity of writers of colour shortlisted for its major awards, the Ritas, as well as its treatment of Courtney Milan after she called a fellow author’s book a “racist mess” because of its depictions of Chinese women.

(12) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • May 22, 1981 Outland premiered. It was written and directed by Peter Hyams with production by Richard A. Roth and Stanley O’Toole.  It starred  Sean Connery, Peter Boyle, James B. Sikking,  Kika Markham and Frances Sternhagen. According to the studio, it literally broken even at the Box Office. Critics in general liked it (“High Noon in Outer Space”) but audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes are meh on it giving a soft 54% rating.
  • May 22, 2012 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls premiered. The fourth film in the franchise, it directed by Steven Spielberg and was released nineteen years after the last film. Produced by Frank Marshall from a screenplay by David Koepp off of the story by George Lucas and Jeff Nathanson. And starring Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett,  Karen Allen,  Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent and Shia LaBeouf. Despite the myth around it in the net that it was a critical failure, critics overwhelmingly loved it. And the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a 60% rating. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 22, 1813 – Richard Wagner.  His fantasies The Flying Dutchman (“fly” in the sense we still have in “flee”), TannhäuserThe Ring of the Niebelung (four-opera series), Parsifal, are masterworks of music and theater.  Complicated life and opinions less admirable.  (Died 1883) [JH]
  • Born May 22, 1859 – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Famous for Sherlock Holmes, in SF he wrote five novels, sixty shorter stories, translated into Croatian, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish.  In fact his surname from birth records to his knighting was only Doyle.  (Died 1930) [JH]
  • Born May 22, 1907 Hergé. He is best remembered for creating The Adventures of Tintin which are considered one of the most popular European comics of the 19th and 20th centuries. He is much less remembered for Quick & Flupke, a short-lived series between the Wars, and The Adventures of Jo, Zette and Jocko which lasted well into the Fifties. (Died 1983.) (CE)
  • Born May 22, 1914 – Sun Ra.  In the avant-garde of jazz he played keyboards and sang, led a variously-composed band under names more or less like “The Solar Arkestra”, still performing; recorded dozens of singles and a hundred full-length albums with titles like We Travel the SpacewaysSpace Is the PlaceStrange Celestial Road.  Said he was taken to Saturn in a vision, changing his life and art.  (Died 1993) [JH]
  • Born May 22, 1922 – Bob Leman.  Fanzine, The Vinegar Worm; two pieces in The Best of Fandom 1958.  Fourteen short stories in F&SF, one more in collection Feensters in the Lake, translated into French, German, Italian, Portuguese.  With Gerald Bishop, “Venture Science Fiction Magazine” , a Checklist of the First American Series and the First British Series.  (Died 2006) [JH]
  • Born May 22, 1930 – Robert Byrne.  Editor of Western Construction.  Amateur magician, member of Int’l Brotherhood of Magicians.  Billiards and pool teacher and commenter; Byrne’s Standard Book of Pool & Billiards sold 500,000 copies; columnist for Billiards Digest; seven instructional videos; Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame.  Eight anthologies of funny things people have said.  Three novels in our field, five others.  (Died 2016) [JH]
  • Born May 22, 1938 Richard Benjamin, 82. He’s here because he was Adam Quark on the all too short-lived Quark series. He also was Joseph Lightman in Witches’ Brew which was based off Fritz Leiber’s Conjure Wife novel (winner of the 1944 Retro-Hugo Award at Dublin 2019) though that’s not credited in the film. And he was in Westworld as Peter Martin. Finally, he did a stint on the Ray Bradbury Theatre as Mr. Howard in “Let’s Play Poison” episode. (CE)
  • Born May 22, 1943 – Arlene Phillips.  Dancer, choreographer including the film Annie and the Royal Shakespeare production of A Clockwork Orange, judge for Strictly Come Dancing and the U.K. version of So You Think You Can Dance?  Ten credited film appearances.  For us, six Alana, Dancing Star children’s books.  [JH]
  • Born May 22, 1956 Natasha Shneider. Her entire acting career consisted of but two roles, only one of interest to us, that of the Soviet cosmonaut Irina Yakunina in 2010: Odyssey Two. Her other genre contribution was she wrote and performed “Who’s in Control” for Catwoman. Cancer would take her at far too early an age. (Died 2008.) (CE)
  • Born May 22, 1968 Karen Lord, 52. A Barbadian writer whose first novel, Redemption in Indigo, won the Carl Brandon Parallax Award and Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature for its inventive use of Senegalese folklore. I’d also recommend her The Best of All Possible Worlds novel as it’s as well done as her earlier novel but different and fascinating in its own right. 
  • Born May 22, 1978 – Tansy Rayner Roberts.  Ph.D. in Classics from U. Tasmania.  Hugo as Best Fan Writer 2013, Ditmar as Best Fan Writer 2015; nine more Ditmars, three of them Athelings (for SF criticism).  George Turner prize for Splashdance Silver.  WSFA (Washington, D.C., SF Ass’n) Small Press Award for “The Patrician”.  A dozen novels, three dozen shorter stories.  Served a term as a Director of SFWA (no one made SFWA into Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America and Australia; directors were no longer region-specific).  Crime fiction as Livia Day.  [JH]
  • Born May 22, 1979 Maggie Q, 41. She portrayed Tori Wu in the film adaptation of Veronica Roth’s novel Divergent, a role she reprised in its sequels, Insurgent and Allegiant. She played a female agent in a comedic version of the Jackie Chan fronted Around the World in 80 Days. And she’s in the recent remake of Fantasy Island that critics hated but was a box office success. On a brighter note, she voices Wonder Woman on the Young Justice series.

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lio references Harlan Ellison.

(15) SPEAK, MEMORY. So does Liza Fletcher McCall:

(16) HUMANITY IS NO LONGER ON TOP. Titan Comics has revealed the Horizon Zero Dawn issue #1 covers. The series, based on the award-winning game by Guerrilla, brings back characters Aloy and Talanah in a new story set after the events of the game. The series launches August 5, 2020.

Set on a far future Earth, where nature has reclaimed the planet but massive, animal-like machines now rule the land, Horizon Zero Dawn follows the story of Aloy, an extraordinary young woman whose quest to solve the riddle of her mysterious origins takes her deep into the ruins of the ancient past.

Titan’s new comic book series – co-created by Anne Toole, one of the writers of Horizon Zero Dawn, with artwork by fan-favorite artist Ann Maulina – takes place after the events of the game as Talanah, a strong and determined hunter, struggles to find purpose after her trusted friend Aloy disappears. When a mysterious threat emerges in the wilds, she sets out to hunt and to defeat it, only to learn that a whole new breed of killer machines stalk the land!

(17) NEW VIEWS. Nerds of a Feather hears about “6 Books with Rowenna Miller”.

4. How about a book you’ve changed your mind about – either positively or negatively?
How about a book that changed my mind? I’ve never been big on nineteenth century lit—there were books I liked here and there but so often they were just…dull. There, I said it. But I read Dickens’ Hard Times a couple years ago and it was such fun—witty and tongue-in-cheek, with obvious but not moralistic commentary on ethical issues—and found families and the circus! I’m finding that some of the lesser-known, non “canon” lit, and especially short fiction, from that period ticks more of my boxes than I realized.

(18) RANDOM ACCESS MEMORIES. Joe Sherry and Aidan Moher are on the party line in “The Modern Nostalgia of Dragon Quest XI: A Conversation” at Nerds of a Feather.

Aidan: Silent protagonists come under a lot of heat, but they’ve never really bothered me in older games. As the level of fidelity and detail grow, however, they make less and less sense, and it feels particularly odd in Dragon Quest XI. With so much voice acting in the game, every time the protagonist (who I’ll call Eleven) responds by awkwardly staring into space or making a weird little gasp feels uncanny. The characters all behave as though he’s this magnetic hero type, but so much of that is personality and charisma—and Eleven has none of that.

I recently replayed Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete (and a bit of Grandia before that) and one of the things that really stood out to me in those games was the personalities of the protagonists really shining through. By emphasizing their personalities, they felt like much more engage and proactive heroes, compared to, say, Crono from Chrono Trigger or Eleven from Dragon Quest XI. Those silent types require others to push the story forward and they act as sort of a… defining element for the protagonist’s actions and motivations. It’s almost like they’re the splash of paint revealing the invisible protagonist.

(19) IT’S ONLY NATURAL. CNN reports “A parasite that feeds off of the reproductive organs of millipedes is named after Twitter, where it was found”.

Biologist and associate professor Ana Sofia Reboleira of the National Natural History Museum said in a press release that she was simply browsing Twitter when she came across a photo, shared by her US colleague Derek Hennen of Virginia Tech, of a North American millipede.

Nothing unusual there. But then she looked closer….

(20) A NEW TWIST. “Jason Momoa is a Vampire and Peter Dinklage is Van Helsing in Action-Horror Movie ‘Good Bad & Undead’”Bloody Disgusting has the details.

Check out this wild plot synopsis, billed as “Midnight Run in a Bram Stoker world“:

“Dinklage will play Van Helsing, last in a long line of vampire hunters. He develops an uneasy partnership with a Vampire (Momoa) who has taken a vow never to kill again. Together they run a scam from town to town, where Van Helsing pretends to vanquish the Vampire for money. But when a massive bounty is put on the Vampire’s head, everything in this dangerous world full of monsters and magic is now after them.”

Momoa and Dinklage are also set to produce.

(21) KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES. In addition to SpaceX’s planned launch, “Virgin Orbit hopes for rocket flight this weekend”.

British businessman Sir Richard Branson is looking to this weekend to debut one of his new space systems.

Virgin Orbit, based in California, will put satellites above the Earth, using a rocket that’s launched from under the wing of a jumbo jet.

The maiden mission, to be conducted out over the Pacific Ocean, could take place as early as Saturday.

Assuming this demonstration is successful, Virgin Orbit hopes to move swiftly into commercial operations.

It already has a rocket built at its Long Beach factory for a second mission.

British businessman Sir Richard Branson is looking to this weekend to debut one of his new space systems.

(22) COPYCATS. There’s no telling what’s likely to come over the transom these days –

(23) VASTER THAN EMPIRES, AND MORE SLOW. “Herd-Like Movement Of Fuzzy Green ‘Glacier Mice’ Baffles Scientists”.

In 2006, while hiking around the Root Glacier in Alaska to set up scientific instruments, researcher Tim Bartholomaus encountered something completely unexpected.

“What the heck is this!” Bartholomaus recalls thinking. He’s a glaciologist at the University of Idaho.

Scattered across the glacier were balls of moss. “They’re not attached to anything and they’re just resting there on ice,” he says. “They’re bright green in a world of white.

Intrigued, he and two colleagues set out to study these strange pillow-like moss balls. In the journal Polar Biology, they report that the balls can persist for years and move around in a coordinated, herd-like fashion that the researchers can not yet explain.

“The whole colony of moss balls, this whole grouping, moves at about the same speeds and in the same directions,” Bartholomaus says. “Those speeds and directions can change over the course of weeks.”

In the 1950s, an Icelandic researcher described them in the Journal of Glaciology, noting that “rolling stones can gather moss.” He called them “jökla-mýs” or “glacier mice.”

This new work adds to a very small body of research on these fuzz balls, even though glaciologists have long known about them and tend to be fond of them.

(24) KEEPING BUSY. “Bumblebees’ ‘clever trick’ fools plants into flowering”. Yes. Let’s call this “Plan Bee.”

Scientists have discovered a new behaviour among bumblebees that tricks plants into flowering early.

Researchers found that when deprived of pollen, bumblebees will nibble on the leaves of flowerless plants.

The damage done seems to fool the plant into flowering, sometimes up to 30 days earlier than normal.

(25) STINKERS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] I can pretty much guarantee you’ve never heard of some of these. And that’s a good thing. “The Worst Sci-Fi Movies Every Year Of The Decade (According To IMDb)” at ScreenRant.

8 Area 407 (2012) – 3.6

Who’d have thought a sci-fi-horror found footage film released in the year 2012 could possibly be a critical failure? Believe it or not, that’s exactly what Area 407 turned out to be.

Arguably the most obscure movie on this list, the fact that barely anybody saw this one is likely no accident. The film was reportedly shot without a script, being entirely ad-libbed by its actors during the movie’s suspiciously lean five-day shoot. Whether or not this was down to sheer laziness or a failed attempt to recapture the magic of classic found footage movie The Blair Witch Project is up for debate – but the movie is terrible, regardless.

(26) SEE SPOT HERD. “Robot dog tries to herd sheep” — video.

A robot dog designed for search and rescue missions has had a go at herding sheep in New Zealand.

Technology company Rocos is exploring how the Spot robot – made by US-based Boston Dynamics – might be put to work in the agricultural industry.

(27) MORE BITS, SCOTTY! BBC rushes to judgment! “Australia ‘records fastest internet speed ever'”.

Researchers in Australia claim they have recorded the fastest ever internet data speed.

A team from Monash, Swinburne and RMIT universities logged a data speed of 44.2 terabits per second (Tbps).

At that speed, users could download more than 1,000 high-definition movies in less than a second.

According to Ofcom, the average UK broadband speed currently is around 64 megabits per second (Mbps) – a fraction of that recorded in the recent study.

(28) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Fire (Pozar)” on YouTube is a weird film written, animated, and directed by David Lynch in 2015.  (I can’t describe it–it’s just weird!)

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

2020 Aurora Award Ballot

The 2020 Aurora Awards finalists have been announced. The awards are nominated by members of the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association, for Science Fiction / Fantasy works done in 2019 by Canadians. The top five nominated works were selected.  Additional works were included where there was a tie for fifth place. 

The Aurora Awards voters’ package will be available for CSFFA members to download on the week of May 18th. Voting for the awards will begin on June 20.  Both the voters’ package and the ballot close at 11:59 pm EDT on July 25.

The awards ceremony will be held online in conjunction with When Words Collide (Calgary) on August 15.  

Best Novel

  • Haunting The Haunted by E. C. Bell, Tyche Books
  • The Gossamer Mage by Julie E. Czerneda, DAW Books
  • A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay, Viking Canada
  • The Quantum Garden by Derek Künsken, Solaris Books
  • Jade War by Fonda Lee, Orbit Books
  • Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Del Rey

Best Young Adult Novel

  • Wolf’s Bane by Kelley Armstrong, K.L.A. Fricke Inc
  • The Brilliant Dark: The Realms of Ancient, Book 3 by S.M. Beiko, ECW Press
  • The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles: Metamorphosis by Marty Chan, Fitzhenry & Whiteside
  • Bursts of Fire by Susan Forest, Laksa Media Groups Inc
  • Murder at the World’s Fair by MJ Lyons, Renaissance

Best Short Fiction

  • This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, Saga Press
  • Clear as Quartz, Sharp as Flint by Maria Haskins, Augur Magazine, issue 2.1
  • Alice Payne Rides by Kate Heartfield, Tor.com Publishing
  • Little Inn on the Jianghu by Y.M. Pang, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, September
  • Modigliani Paints the World by Hayden Trenholm, Neo-Opsis, Issue #30
  • Blindside by Liz Westbrook-Trenholm, Amazing Stories, v. 77, issue no. 1, Fall

Best Graphic Novel

  • The Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel by Margaret Atwood and Renee Nault, McClelland & Stewart
  • Krampus is My Boyfriend! by S.M. Beiko, Webcomic
  • It Never Rains by Kari Maaren, Webcomic
  • Carpe Fin: A Haida Manga by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, Douglas & McIntyre
  • Dakwäkãda Warriors by Cole Pauls, Conundrum Press

Best Poem/Song

  • The Girl Who Loved Birds by Clara Blackwood, Amazing Stories Magazine, v. 76, no. 3, Spring
  • At the Edge of Space and Time by Swati Chavda, Love at the Speed of Light, Ancient Hound Books
  • Steampunk Christmas by David Clink, Star*Line,  v. 42, no. 4., Fall
  • The Day the Animals Turned to Sand by Tyler Hagemann, Amazing Stories Magazine, v. 76, issue no. 3, Spring
  • Totemic Ants by Francine P. Lewis, Amazing Stories Magazine, v. 77, issue no. 1, Fall 
  • Beauty, Sleeping by Lynne Sargent, Augur Magazine, issue 2.2
  • Bursts of Fire by Sora, theme song for book trailers

Best Related Work

  • PodCastle by Jen R. Albert and Cherae Clark, Escape Artists Inc.
  • Nothing Without Us by Cait Gordon and Talia C. Johnson, Renaissance
  • Neo-opsis Science Fiction Magazine edited by Karl Johanson
  • Lackington’s Magazine,edited by Ranylt Richildis (online)
  • Dave Duncan’s Legacy by Robert Runté, On Spec Magazine issue 111
  • Augur Magazine, Issue 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3 published by Kerrie Seljak-Byrne
  • On Spec Magazine, Diane L. Walton, Managing Editor, The Copper Pig Writers Society

Best Visual Presentation

  • The Umbrella Academy, Steve Blackman, Dark Horse Entertainment
  • V Wars (Season 1), William Laurin and Glenn Davis, High Park Entertainment
  • Killjoys (Season 5), Michelle Lovretta and Adam Barken, Temple Street Productions
  • Murdoch Mysteries (Ep. 10-18/Season 12 and Ep. 1-9/Season 13), Peter Mitchell and Christina Jennings, Shaftesbury Films
  • Van Helsing (Season 4), Jonathan Lloyd Walker, Nomadic Pictures

Best Artist

  • Samantha M. Beiko, cover for Bursts of Fire
  • James F. Beveridge, cover for Fata Morgana and cover for On Spec #112
  • Lynne Taylor Fahnestalk, A Rivet of Robots in On Spec Magazine and Cartoons in Amazing Stories
  • Nathan Fréchette, covers for Renaissance Press
  • Dan O’Driscoll, covers for Bundoran Press and cover for On Spec Magazine #110

Best Fan Writing and Publications

  • R. Graeme Cameron, weekly columns in Amazing Stories (online)
  • R. Graeme Cameron, Polar Borealis, Issues #9 to #12, editor
  • Jennifer Desmarais, Travelling TARDIS, JenEric Designs
  • Steve Fahnestalk, weekly columns in Amazing Stories (online)
  • Ron S. Friedman, Will Voyager 1 leave the Milky Way?, Quora
  • Christina Vasilevski, Books and Tea

Best Fan Organizational

  • KT Bryski and Jen R. Albert, ephemera reading series, Toronto
  • Brent Jans, Pure Speculation Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival, Edmonton
  • Derek Künsken and Marie Bilodeau, co-chairs, Can-Con, Ottawa
  • Randy McCharles, chair, When Words Collide, Calgary
  • Sandra Wickham, Creative Ink Festival, Burnaby, BC

Best Fan Related Work

  • Brandon Crilly and Evan May, Broadcasts from the Wasteland, podcast
  • Kari Maaren, Music on YouTube Channel
  • Derek Newman-Stille, Speculating Canada
  • Joshua Pantalleresco, Just Joshing, podcast
  • Edward Willett, The Worldshapers, podcast

Pixel Scroll 2/24/20 You Make Me Vote Like A Natural Person…

(1) WORLDCON AMBITIONS. Tammy Coxen wants to remedy the problem of groups bidding for Worldcons without having any knowledge of the norms and customs of the convention they want to run. With input from many others, she has created an introduction — “So You Want to Bid for a Worldcon”.

Have you ever thought about running a Worldcon? Because Worldcon has been going on for so long (over 80 years!) there are a lot of expectations, traditions, norms and customes about how to do that, and if you don’t know about them, it’s really hard to win your bid! We haven’t necessarily done a great job of communicating that to people, so (with a lot of help from friends) I put together this intro guide. This is not a how-to document with details – this is more big picture. I think it’s useful to all bidders, but it should be especially useful to people who are new(er) to Worldcons. Please feel free to share.

(2) AURORA AWARDS NEWS. The Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association reminded people today that the Aurora Awards Eligibility lists close February 29, 2020. And the announcement comes with a warning —

This means that if there are any works you wish to nominate for an award which are not found on the public eligibility lists you will need to submit them before 11:59PM EST February 29, 2020.

Nominations will open March 1, 2020.  

Unlike in previous years, works that are not on the Eligibility lists prior to the opening of Nominations will NOT be able to be added.  

(3) BENFORD Q&A. At Buzzy Mag, Jean Marie Ward conducts the “Gregory Benford Interview – The future is all we have left”.

Jean: We’re so glad to have you. Your most recent published books are both alternate history. “The Berlin Project” looks at the world that might have been if the U.S. had the A bomb before D-day. “Rewrite” offers a sequel to your classic timescape with a Groundhog Day twist. What occasioned this desire to remake recent history?

Gregory: Because it’s so tempting. There are so many pivot points, particularly in World War II and I as a physicist was very close to the issue of, how do you get the Uranium-235 to make bombs? You have to separate it out from the heavier 238 isotope. And the decision of how to do that, I had two choices and General Groves was forced to make the choice because the scientists were divided and he chose the wrong one and it cost us a year in the Second World War. It’s generally agreed by historians that had we suggested or made happen centrifically a separation, spinning cylinders, we would have chopped a year off the gaseous diffusion that Oak Ridge used and spent $1 billion doing. So, how would that change the war? You would have the bomb at D-day, well, how would you use it? And I use this title, “The Berlin Project” because that’s what the scientists in the project called it the first few years because the target was Berlin. Groves said that was too obvious.

So he called it the Manhattan Project and opened an office in Manhattan to give the excuse of, well, of course it was near Columbia University where all his work was done, but still they were always focused on Berlin. So, that was just too tempting because I was a postdoc for Edward Teller at Livermore for two years and then a staff member. He offered me a staff position which I took before I went to UC Irvine. And Teller told me all these delicious stories about the Manhattan Project. And I knew so many of them. The woman who helped me to do physics at UC San Diego, Maria Kepert Mayor, when I was working on problems with her and did a bunch of nuclear physics, again for my thesis, she won the Nobel Prize. And she told me all kinds of delicious stories about the Manhattan Project….

(4) GIBSON BAFFLED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Behind a paywall in the February 15 Financial Times, John Thornhill interviews William Gibson.

Gibson knew the late (John Perry) Barlow well, but he says he is ‘absolutely baffled by the naive utopianism of the early Internet pioneers, who enthused about disruption.  Barlow professed to love Neuromancer — according to Gibson — but appeared to have missed the central idea that cyberspace also had its downsides.  Even today Gibson says he is puzzled by older readers who approach him at book signings to thank him for inspiring them to pursue a career in tech.

“They’d read a book in which there didn’t appear to be any middle class left and in which no characters had employment.  They were all criminal freelancers of one sort or another. So, it was always quite mysterious to me.”

(5) BRINGING DIVERSITY TO SPACE. “Black in Space: Breaking the Color Barrier” is airing this week on the Smithsonian Channel. It also can be viewed on YouTube.

America’s experiences during the Civil Rights Movement and the Space Race are well documented. However, few know about the moment these two worlds collided, when the White House and NASA scrambled to put the first black astronaut into orbit. This is the untold story of the decades-long battle between the U.S. and the Soviet Union to be the first superpower to bring diversity to the skies, told by the black astronauts and their families, who were part of this little known chapter of the Cold War.

…On Aug. 30, 1983, the astronaut Guion Bluford embarked as a crew member of the Space Shuttle Challenger, making him the first African-American in space. This documentary features him alongside Edward Dwight, an Air Force pilot edged out of a position with NASA, and Frederick Gregory, the first African-American to command a NASA mission, to examine the complications of sending a black man into space during the Cold War. 

Also included are Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez, the first Cuban astronaut sent into space by the Soviet Union, and Ronald McNair, an African-American pilot who died in the Challenger disaster in 1986.

(6) JOHNSON OBIT. Fame came late in Katherine Johnson’s life for her contributions to the early space program. “Smithsonian Curators Remember Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician Highlighted in ‘Hidden Figures,’ Who Died at 101”.

…Striking out during “a time when computers wore skirts,” she once said, Johnson quickly proved her incomparable worth. So trusted were her calculations that astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, considered them an integral part of his preflight checklist—even after the equations had been transferred over to modern electronic machines. “When he got ready to go,” Johnson said of Glenn, “he said, ‘Call her. And if she says the computer is right, I’ll take it.”

Her work fueled innumerable feats of aeronautics, several of which were outlined in the 26 research papers Johnson published over her decades-long career. The earliest of these publications made Johnson one of the first women at NASA to become a named author or co-author on an agency report, according to Margalit Fox at the New York Times.

…Though Johnson’s landmark contributions went mostly unheralded by mainstream media throughout her tenure at Langley, the 2010s finally brought her name into the public eye. In 2015, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama, who described Johnson as “a pioneer who broke the barriers of race and gender, showing generations of young people that everyone can excel in math and science, and reach for the stars,” reports Russell Lewis for NPR. The next year, Margot Lee Shetterly’s book Hidden Figures, as well as a movie adaptation by the same name, highlighted the accomplishments of Johnson and her colleagues.

The film was nominated for three Oscars. When Johnson took the stage at the 2017 Academy Awards ceremony, the mathematician—then 98 years old and the only one of the movie’s central characters still alive at the time of its release—received a thunderous standing ovation. That fall, NASA dedicated a new Langley building in her honor, the Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility….

The Washington Post obituary also includes many details of her personal life and early career at NACA and its successor, NASA.

…Mrs. Johnson had a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and spent her early career studying data from plane crashes, helping devise air safety standards at a time when the agency’s central concern was aviation….

Chris Garcia wrote her bio when the Bay Area’s Computer History Museum made her a Fellow last year:

… NACA was renamed National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) in 1958, and Johnson became an aerospace technologist within NASA’s Spacecraft Controls branch. In 1960 she coauthored Determination of Azimuth Angle at Burnout for Placing a Satellite Over a Selected Earth Position, an important report that laid out the equations for determining landing position for orbital spaceflight. In 1961 she calculated the trajectory for Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 Earth orbital mission….

(7) MORE ABOUT BARBARA REMINGTON, In “Blast from ye past”, DB follows this intro with some intriguing comments and insights about the late artist:

Barbara Remington has died, at 90. Really old-time Tolkienists will remember her name as that of the artist who created the covers for the first issue of the Ballantine paperbacks of The Lord of the Rings, which may be seen pictured in her obituary here. (Note they’re all actually one painting split into three parts, which was also issued as a single poster without overprinting.)

Ballantine’s goal was to get the books in the shops quickly, to compete with the unauthorized Ace paperbacks, so they gave Remington very little time to work….

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • February 24, 1952Aladdin And His Lamp premiered. It was directed by Lew Landers, and starred Johnny Sands and Patricia Medina. Filming was finished in less than a week. It was originally produced for a television audience, then Allied Artists picked up the film and added additional footage for a theatrical release. You can see this short film here.
  • February 24, 1960 The Amazing Transparent Man premiered. It was directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, and starred Marguerite Chapman and Douglas Kennedy. It and Beyond the Time Barrier were film in Dallas in two weeks. Critics in general liked it, but the audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes is a lousy 16%. You can see the film here.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 24, 1909 August Derleth. He’s best known as the first book publisher of H. P. Lovecraft, and for his own fictional contributions to the Cthulhu Mythos (a term that S. T. Joshi does not like). Let not to overlook him being the founder of Arkham House which alas is now defunct. I’m rather fond of his detective fiction with Solar Pons of Praed Street being a rather inspired riff off the Great Detective. (Died 1971.)
  • Born February 24, 1933 Verlyn Flieger, 87. Well-known Tolkien specialist. Her best-known books are Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien’s WorldA Question of Time: J. R. R. Tolkien’s Road to Faerie, which won a Mythopoeic Award, Tolkien’s Legendarium: Essays on The History of Middle-earth (her second Mythopoeic Award) and Green Suns and Faërie: Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien (her third Mythopoeic Award). She has written a YA fantasy, Pig Tale, and some short stories.
  • Born February 24, 1945 Barry Bostwick, 75. Best remembered for being Brad Majors in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. His first genre undertaking was the English language narration of Fantastic Planet. He voices the Mayor in The Incredibles 2
  • Born February 24, 1947 Edward James Olmos, 73. Reasonably sure the first thing I saw him in was as Detective Gaff in Blade Runner, but I see he was Eddie Holt in Wolfen a year earlier which was his genre debut. Though I didn’t realize it as I skipped watching the entire film, he was in The Green Hornet as Michael Axford. (I did try watching it, I gave up after maybe fifteen minutes. Shudder.) He has a cameo as Gaff in the new Blade Runner film. And he’s William Adama on the rebooted  Battlestar Galactica. He made appearances on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Eureka
  • Born February 24, 1951 Helen Shaver, 69. Her SFF debut was as Betsy Duncan in Starship Invasions aka Project Genocide in the U.K. though you’ve likely not heard of her there, you might have seen her as Carolyn in The Amityville Horror.  She’s Littlefoot’s mother in The Land Before Time, and Kate ‘White’ Reilly in the second Tremors film. She’s got one-offs in The Outer Limits, Amazing Stories, Ray Bradbury Theater and Outer Limits to name but a few. And she was Dr. Rachel Corrigan in Poltergeist: The Legacy, a super series indeed.
  • Born February 24, 1966 Billy Zane, 54. His genre roles include Match in Back to the Future and Back to the Future Part II, Hughie Warriner in Dead Calm, John Justice Wheeler in Twin Peaks, The Collector in Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight and the title role in The Phantom.
  • Born February 24, 1966 Ben Miller, 54. He first shows up in our corner of things on The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones in the “Daredevils of the Desert” episode as an unnamed French Officer. His main genre role was on Primeval, a series I highly recommend as a lot of fun, as James Lester.  He later shows up as the Sheriff of Nottingham in a Twelfth Doctor episode entitled “Robot of Sherwood”. 
  • Born February 24, 1968 Martin Day, 52. I don’t usually deal with writers of licensed works but he’s a good reminder that shows such as Doctor Who spawn vast secondary fiction universes. He’s been writing such novels first for Virgin Books and now for BBC Books for over twenty years. The Hollow Men, a Seven Doctor novel he co-wrote wrote with Keith Topping, is quite excellent. In addition, he’s doing Doctor Who audiobooks for Big Finish Productions and other companies as well. He’s also written several unofficial books to television series such as the X Files, the Next Generation and the Avengers

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Today’s Bizarro is a look-twice.
  • The Argyle Sweater has a silly twist on a common parents-with-a-teenager line.
  • And the brilliant Tom Gauld again –

(11) MARTIAN HOPS. “Hunting for ‘marsquakes,’ NASA lander finds a surprisingly active red planet” reports the LA Times.

…The lander, which touched down on the red planet 15 months ago, has detected plenty of seismic activity, an unexpectedly strong local magnetic field and around 10,000 whirlwinds passing over the Martian surface.

The findings, published Monday in a suite of six papers in the journals Nature Geoscience and Nature Communications, will help scientists unlock the secrets of Mars’ interior and understand why it looks so different from Earth.

“What these results really are showing us is that Mars is an active planet today,” said Bruce Banerdt, the mission’s principal investigator, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada-Flintridge, and a co-author of the new studies.

InSight is situated in a roughly 27-yard-wide impact crater in western Elysium Planitia, a volcanic plain whose surface material ranges in age from 3.7 billion to just 2.5 million years old. About 1,000 miles away lies Cerberus Fossae, a volcanic region full of faults, evidence of old lava flows and signs that liquid water once ran on the surface.

(12) HITCH YOUR WAGON TO A STAR. In the Washington Post, Homer Hickam argues that it’s time for a “moon rush” and “once electricians, plumbers, miners, and construction workers start going to the moon, and the middle class starts using products made with materials from Luna, the United States will turn into a true spacefaring nation.” “Let the moon rush begin”.

As these efforts get going, however, it’s important to avoid the thinking of a half-century ago and look at the moon in a different way. This is, after all, not your grandfather’s moon. After the Apollo moon-landing program of the 1960s and ’70s, a series of robotic missions discovered that Luna was a lot more interesting than many had previously thought. It has abundant water and oxygen, as well as helium, platinum, thorium, rare earth metals and other minerals that may well be worth digging up and transporting back for use in thousands of products. Last year, a gigantic blob of metal, as yet unidentified but significantly larger than the Big Island of Hawaii, was discovered beneath the lunar south pole. Whatever it is, it has value. The quiet far side of the moon could also provide a location for interstellar observatories, and tourists who would pay a lot to have a lunar vacation are inevitable. In other words, a real business case can be made for the moon, a case that could not only put dollars back into the pockets of taxpayers but also open up jobs for skilled workers on the lunar surface.

(13) FEEL THE HEAT. Own the “Darth Vader Helmet BBQ Grill” for a mere $724.97! Yahoo! Lifestyle adds:

In addition to the Darth Vader version, Burned by Design LTD makes a R2D2 fire pit, a Storm Trooper fire pit, a Death Star fire pit, and a Boba Fett fire pit. So find your favorite character and enjoy one of those long, outdoor summer nights.

(14) FEEL THE BEAT. “Earth Harp: The man behind the unique instruments ‘epic’ sound” – BBC video.

William Close is the inventor behind the Earth Harp – the world’s longest string instrument which uses architecture and landscapes to create a unique sound.

Mr Close, who has performed the giant harp all over the world, says the audiences are often left feeling like they are “inside the instrument” during his performances.

(15) SET AN EXAMPLE. “Marvel’s Black Panther film costumes to star in new Ipswich exhibition”.

Costumes from Marvel’s Black Panther film will feature in an exhibition designed to help “young black people shape their sense of identity”.

Three costumes from the big-screen hit will be on show at Unmasked: The Power of Stories in Ipswich.

Organisers were inspired by the film’s message about the capacity of storytelling to unite or divide people.

Contributor Phanuel Mutumburi said the exhibition would provide opportunities for people to join in.

Ipswich’s communities were “at the heart” of the exhibition, which would highlight important issues for different communities within the Suffolk town, said organisers.

(16) MAKING DEW. BBC traces “The ethereal art of fog-catching”.

In chronically dry regions around the world, communities are finding ways to live from the water suspended in the air – creating valuable drinking water from mist.

When Abel Cruz was just a boy, near the Peruvian region of Cusco, he had to walk for more than an hour every day to collect water from the nearest source and take it back home. Then he realised that, during the rainy season, drops accumulated in the banana leaves.

“When we saw that, my father and I built natural canals with the leaves to collect the water,” he says. “The first drops were a bit dirty and dusty, yet it was useful to wash dishes.”

The leaves, however, only lasted for around two weeks. “So we cut bamboo in half and we replaced the canal pipes with them, which lasted a lot longer,” explains Cruz. “That is how I got involved with collecting water.”

Today Cruz is collecting water in a very different way – he catches fog.

With large sheets of mesh strung up on hillsides, it is possible to harvest the thick mists that drift across the arid Peruvian landscape. Tiny droplets condense on the netting and dribble down into pipes that carry the water into containers where it can be used to irrigate crops or even as drinking water.

Each net can capture between 200-400 litres of fresh water every day, providing a new source of water for communities that have had no easy access to regular supplies. Cruz has helped to install more than 2,000 of these fog catching nets in eight rural communities across Peru as well as in Bolivia, Colombia and Mexico. The impact has been dramatic.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Mitigation of Shock from Superflux on Vimeo is about an installation by Superflux displaying the gloomy world of 2050 after climate change and economic collapse.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Tammy Coxen, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]

2019 Aurora Awards

The 2019 Aurora Awards were presented by the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association on October 19 at Can-Con 2019 in Ottawa.

Best Novel

  • Armed in Her Fashion by Kate Heartfield, ChiZine Publications

Best Young Adult Novel

  • Cross Fire: An Exo Novel by Fonda Lee, Scholastic Press

Best Short Fiction

  • “Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach” by Kelly Robson, Tor.com Publications

Best Graphic Novel

  • It Never Rains by Kari Maaren, Webcomic

Best Poem/Song

  •  “Ursula Le Guin in the Underworld” by Sarah Tolmie, On Spec issue 107 vol 28.4

Best Related Work

  • Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction edited by Dominik Parisien and Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, Uncanny Magazine

Best Visual Presentation

  • Deadpool 2, written and produced by Ryan Reynolds, Twentieth Century Fox

Best Artist

  • Samantha M. Beiko, covers for Laksa Media

Best Fan Writing and Publications

  • She Wrote It But…Revisiting Joanna Russ’ “How to Suppress Women’s Writing” 35 Years Later, Krista D. Ball

Best Fan Organizational

  • Derek Künsken and Marie Bilodeau, co-chairs, Can*Con, Ottawa

Best Fan Related Work

  • Edward Willett, The Worldshapers (Podcast)

Hall of Fame Award

  • Tanya Huff
  • R. Graeme Cameron
  • Eileen Kernaghan

Tanya Huff (right)

Marie Bilodeau and Derek Kunsken

Samantha Beiko

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Samantha Beiko wins best artist! #AuroraAwards

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Kelly Robson and Charles de Lint

Kate Heartfield (right)

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Best novel to Kate Heartfield! Yay! #AuroraAwards

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Update 10/20/2019: Added the names of two more Hall of Fame inductees.

Pixel Scroll 9/3/19 The Scrolls of Doctor Pixel And Other Files

(1) MAKES CENTS. The SFWA Blog reminds everyone that the “SFWA Minimum Pro Rate Now in Effect”. The new rate of eight cents a word, announced in January, became effective September 1.

Writers applying for SFWA membership qualify on the basis of the per-word rate on the date of contract. For example, short fiction sold before September 1, 2019 at six cents per word continue to qualify a writer for SFWA membership, etc.

This change to the SFWA pro rate is the result of market analyses conducted by SFWA Board members, along with a review of the effects of inflation on author compensation. The SFWA pro rate was last changed in 2014, rising from five to six cents per word, and from three to five cents per word in 2004.

(2) AURORA VOTING DEADLINE. Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association members have until September 14 to vote in the Aurora Awards.

You must be logged in to the website with an active CSFFA membership in order to download the voter’s packages or to vote. 

Vote results will be announced at Can-Con October 18 – 20, 2019 in Ottawa (http://can-con.org/) and will be available on the website soon after.

(3) DRAGON COUNT. Yesterday’s Dragon Con press release, “Dragon Awards Recognize Fans’ Favorites in Fiction, Games and Other Entertainment”, cites this number of participants:

More than 10,000 fans cast ballots for Dragon Award winners, selected from among 91 properties in 15 categories covering the full range of fiction, comics, television, movies, video gaming, and tabletop gaming. 

(4) BOOKER PRIZE SHORTLIST. A couple of familiar names here: “Booker Prize 2019: Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie both make shortlist”.

Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie are among the six authors shortlisted for this year’s Booker Prize.

Atwood is in contention again with The Testaments, her eagerly awaited follow-up to The Handmaid’s Tale, while Sir Salman makes the cut with Quichotte.

Bernardine Evaristo, Chigozie Obioma, Elif Shafak and US author Lucy Ellmann are also up for the prize.

Both Atwood and Rushdie have won the coveted prize before, in 2000 and 1981 respectively.

Atwood also made the shortlist with The Handmaid’s Tale in 1986….

The winner, whittled down from 151 submissions and a longlist of 13, will be announced on 14 October.

(5) KGB. The Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Sarah Beth Durst & Sarah Pinsker on Wednesday, September 18, 2019, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar.

Sarah Beth Durst

Sarah Beth Durst is the author of nineteen fantasy books for adults, teens, and kids, including The Queens of Renthia series, Drink Slay Love, and The Girl Who Could Not Dream. She won an ALA Alex Award and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and has been a finalist for SFWA’s Andre Norton Award three times. She hopes to one day have her own telepathic dragon.

Sarah Pinsker

Sarah Pinsker is the author of over fifty stories as well as the collection Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea and the novel A Song For A New Day, both out in 2019. Her fiction has won the Nebula and Sturgeon awards, and been a finalist for the Hugo, Eugie Foster, Locus, and World Fantasy Awards.

The address of the KGB Bar is 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs), New York, NY.

(6) YOU COULD LOOK IT UP. Kenneth R. Johnson says he has “posted a mildly updated version of one of my on-line indexes” — “FANTASY GOTHICS”, subtitled, “A comprehensive bibliography of modern Gothics with genuine fantasy elements.”

About forty years ago I visited a fellow Science Fiction collector who introduced me to the concept of collecting “on the fringes.”  I thought I was fairly knowledgeable about the Science Fiction and Fantasy books that had been in published in paperback, but when I examined his collection I saw a large number of books that I had not known about because they had not been marketed as Fantasy.  I was especially drawn to the books that had been issued in other genres, such as Mysteries and Romances. 

I was particularly struck by the large number of Gothics that were spread throughout his collection.  I began looking for these particular crossovers in my visits to second-hand bookstores.   Within a few years I had amassed a couple hundred books, but by the early 1980s the Gothic craze had waned and most publishers had dropped the category.  The existing books gradually disappeared from the second-hand market. …

Scope of Index

 This bibliography is restricted to mass-market paperback books published in the U.S. between the 1960’s and the 1980’s.  The deciding factor in whether a book appears here, besides a genuine fantasy element, is how the book was labeled when published.  If a particular book had several editions from a given publisher and at least one of them was marketed as a Gothic, then all of that publisher’s editions are listed.  Any editions from a publisher who never labeled it as a Gothic are omitted.   

(7) BOK WAS ALSO A VERBAL ARTIST. Robert T. Garcia has launched a Kickstarter appeal to fund publication of “The Fantastic Fiction of Hannes Bok: Three Fantasies by Bok” with Hannes Bok’s three published solo novels: Starstone World, The Sorcerer’s Ship, and Beyond The Golden Stair (the unedited version of the novel Blue Flamingo). Includes an all-new introduction for this collection by Charles de Lint.

For two years I’ve been working on a project that got more interesting the further I got into it.  Hannes Bok was one of the 20th Century’s best sf-fantasy-weird fiction artists.  He was a painter with an eye for beautiful colors and flowing compositions in a time when sf art was very literal and staid. His paintings featured stylized figures, colors by Parrish, and a creative imagination that could only be Bok’s. And he could not be confined to one discipline in his creativity, there were paintings and line work, poetry and sculpture, intricate wood carvings and—of special interest here—fantasy novels: The Sorcerer’s Ship, Beyond the Golden Stair and Starstone World.

These aren’t your conventional fantasies, although all the trappings are there. They have a sly humor with plots full of twists and turns, stories which take the reader on strange metaphysical paths, and glorious descriptions that could only come from someone with a painter’s eye.  Certainly not the most smoothly told tales, but as Lester Del Rey wrote about Beyond the Golden Stair: “in spite of its faults, it has the sense of enchantment so rarely found in most market fantasy. And since our world needs the glamor at least as much as it ever did, let us lose no chance.”

Here’s your chance to experience that glamor. All three of these books have been out-of-print for at least 48 years. That’s too long. They have been left behind, and should be part of the legacy of Hannes Bok, and part of the discussion of early 20th Century fantastic fiction.

At this writing, Garcia has raised $6,623 of the $11,999 goal.

(8) TALKING ABOUT MY REGENERATION. SYFY Wire travels back to 1979 to celebrate one of the show’s charming inconsistencies: “40 years ago Doctor Who changed regeneration canon forever”.

The reason Romana’s regeneration was so unique is that the new actress, Lalla Ward, had already played a different role on the series. In the Season 16 serial “The Armageddon Factor,” the first Romana (Mary Tamm) and the Doctor encountered a character named Princess Astra, who also happened to have been played by Ward. So, when Ward was later cast as the new version of Romana in Season 17, it required an onscreen explanation.

In the scene, the Doctor is freaked out that Romana suddenly looks like someone they both had recently met. “But you can’t wear that body!” he protests. “You can’t go around wearing copies of bodies!” The newly regenerated Romana insists it didn’t matter. She likes the way Princess Astra looks and says they probably aren’t going back to the princess’s home planet of Atrios anyway.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • September 3, 1953 — The 3-D movie Cat-Women of the Moon premiered.  It starred Marie Windsor and Victor Jory who on a scientific expedition to the Moon encounters a race of cat-women. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 3, 1810 Theodor von Holst. He was the first artist to illustrate Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus in 1831. The interior illustrations consist of a frontispiece and title page engraved illustrations. (Died 1844.)
  • Born September 3, 1943 Mick Farren. Punk musician was the singer with the proto-punk band the Deviants who wrote also  lyrics for Hawkwind. His most well-known genre work was the The Renquist Quartet about an immortal vampire. (Died 2013.)
  • Born September 3, 1943 Valerie Perrine, 76. She has uncredited role as Shady Tree’s sidekick is Diamonds Are Forever in her first film appearance. Her first credited film role is as Montana Wildhack in Sluaughterhouse-Five. She’s Eve Teschmacher in Superman and Superman II. 
  • Born September 3, 1954 Stephen Gregg. Editor and publisher of Eternity Science Fiction which  ran 1972 to 1975 and 1979 to 1980. It had early work by Glen Cook, Ed Bryant, Barry N Malzberg, Andrew J Offutt and Roger Zelazny. (Died 2005.)
  • Born September 3, 1959 Merritt Butrick. He played Kirk’s son, David, in The Wrath of Khan and again in The Search for Spock. Note the very young death. He died of AIDS. Well, he died of toxoplasmosis, complicated by AIDS to be precise. (Did 1989.)
  • Born September 3, 1969 John Picacio, 50. Illustrator who in 2005 won both the World Fantasy Award for Best Artist and the Chesley Award for Best Paperback Cover for James Tiptree Jr.’s Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. He won the Hugo for Best Artist in 2012. 
  • Born September 3, 1971 D. Harlan Wilson, 48. Author of Modern Masters of Science Fiction: J.G. BallardCultographies: They Live (a study of John Carpenter) and Technologized Desire: Selfhood & the Body in Postcapitalist Science Fiction. No, I’ve no idea what the last book is about.
  • Born September 3, 1974 Clare Kramer, 45. She had the recurring role of Glory, a god from a hell dimension that was the main antagonist of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She’s been a lot of horror films including The Skulls III, The GravedancersThe ThirstRoad to HellRoad to Hell, Big Ass Spider! and Tales of Halloween.

Plus this “Happy Book Birthday” – Congratulations to Ellen Datlow!

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Brewster Rockit treats us to more “famous parting words from defeated aliens.” Ook ook!
  • Half Full delivers sff’s answer to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

(12) MOONWALKING. It isn’t easy anywhere to get local government to fix the streets,  

Indian actor Poornachandra Mysore joined artist Baadal Nanjundaswamy to document the conditions of the roads in Bengaluru, India. In a creative way and wearing a spacesuit, the man decided to walk on these crater-like potholes as if he was walking on the moon.

(13) MOUNTAINTOP EXPERIENCE. Gabino Iglesias expresses appreciation for the stylish grimness of Laird Barron’s prose in his LA Review of Books review, “Cosmic Horror and Pulpy Noir: On Laird Barron’s “Black Mountain””.

Black Mountain is a crime-horror hybrid that takes the most entertaining elements of both genres and mixes them into something new that pushes the boundaries of contemporary crime fiction. From horror Barron grabs the fear of death, the tensions of knowing there is a killer out there and on the hunt, the gore of mutilated bodies and serrated knives digging into soft flesh. From crime he pulls mobsters, the existence of secrets that, if revealed, would lead to many murders. He also works with a level of violence that is rarely found in crime novels from big publishers.

With those elements on the table, Barron uses his elegant prose as glue. There is brutish behavior, but the words describing it are beautiful, mercilessly obliterating the imagined line between genre and literary fiction on almost every page…

(14) MUSHROOM (CLOUD) HUNTING. File this under “No damn way!” Digital Trends reports “Experts think America should consider giving A.I. control of the nuclear button”.

In news to file under “What could possibly go wrong,” two U.S. deterrence experts have penned an article suggesting that it might be time to hand control of the launch button for America’s nuclear weapons over to artificial intelligence. You know, that thing which can mistake a 3D-printed turtle for a rifle!

In an article titled “America Needs a ‘Dead Hand,’” Dr. Adam Lowther and Curtis McGiffin suggest that “an automated strategic response system based on artificial intelligence” may be called for due to the speed with which a nuclear attack could be leveled against the United States. Specifically, they are worried about two weapons — hypersonic glide vehicles and hypersonic cruise missiles — which reduce response times to mere minutes from when an attack is launched until it strikes.

They acknowledge that such a suggestion is likely to “generate comparisons to Dr. Strangelove’s doomsday machine, War Games’ War Operation Plan Response, and The Terminator’s Skynet. But they also argue that “the prophetic imagery of these science fiction films is quickly becoming reality.” As a result of the compressed response time frame from modern weapons of war, the two experts think that an A.I. system “with predetermined response decisions, that detects, decides, and directs strategic forces” could be the way to go.

(15) LEDGE OF TOMORROW. The Atlantic: “Coming Soon to a Battlefield: Robots That Can Kill”. Tagline: “Tomorrow’s wars will be faster, more high-tech, and less human than ever before. Welcome to a new era of machine-driven warfare.”

Wallops Island—a remote, marshy spit of land along the eastern shore of Virginia, near a famed national refuge for horses—is mostly known as a launch site for government and private rockets. But it also makes for a perfect, quiet spot to test a revolutionary weapons technology.

If a fishing vessel had steamed past the area last October, the crew might have glimpsed half a dozen or so 35-foot-long inflatable boats darting through the shallows, and thought little of it. But if crew members had looked closer, they would have seen that no one was aboard: The engine throttle levers were shifting up and down as if controlled by ghosts. The boats were using high-tech gear to sense their surroundings, communicate with one another, and automatically position themselves so, in theory, .50-caliber machine guns that can be strapped to their bows could fire a steady stream of bullets to protect troops landing on a beach.

(16) LEND A … HAND? NPR tells how “Submarine Hobbyists Help Researchers On Montana’s Flathead Lake”. (Maybe you never knew there were “submarine hobbyists”?)

Something odd was bubbling beneath the surface of northwest Montana’s Flathead Lake this summer. It wasn’t lake monsters, but submarines. The subs’ pilots were there to help cash-strapped researchers explore the depths of Flathead Lake for free.

It can be hard for research divers to see what’s at the bottom of deep bodies of water like Flathead Lake without special equipment and experience. So, having a couple of submarines around this summer was helpful to the University of Montana’s Flathead Lake Biological Research Station.

…Riders met British Columbia resident Hank Pronk, who was standing on his two-man submarine bobbing on the lake’s crystal-clear surface.

A useful hobby

Pronk and his fellow enthusiasts build their subs mostly by hand. Pronk’s sub, named the Nekton Gamma, is smaller than a compact car; climbing in is a squeeze.

(17) DIY-NET. Staying off the internet: “Hong Kong protesters using Bluetooth Bridgefy app”.

Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong have been turning to a new app to communicate – one that does not use the internet and is therefore harder for the Chinese authorities to trace.

Bridgefy is based on Bluetooth and allows protesters to communicate with each other without internet connection.

Downloads are up almost 4,000% in the past two months, according to measurement firm Apptopia.

Texts, email and messaging app WeChat are all monitored by the Chinese state.

Bridgefy uses a mesh network, which links together users’ devices allowing people to chat with others even if they are in a different part of the city, by hopping on other users’ phones until the message reaches the intended person.

The range from phone to phone is within 100m (330ft).

The app was designed by a start-up based in San Francisco and has previously been used in places where wi-fi or traditional networks struggle to work, such as large music or sporting events.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Rich Lynch, Martin Morse Wooster, Robert T. Garcia, Michael Toman, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

Pixel Scroll 8/6/19 In The File, The Mighty File, The Pixel Scrolls Tonight

(1) LEGIONNAIRES’ DISEASE AFFECTS A DRAGON CON HOTEL. CNN reports one person has died of Legionnaires’ disease after staying at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel. Further —

Eleven others who stayed at the Sheraton Atlanta have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, while another 61 probable cases have been identified, according to Nancy Nydam, director of communications at Georgia Department of Public Health.

“Probable cases” are people who have symptoms of the disease but have not yet had a laboratory test to confirm the disease — a serious form of noncontagious pneumonia.

“Based on epidemiological evidence we have an outbreak among people who stayed at the (Sheraton Atlanta) during the same time period,” said Nydam. Guests who complained of lung problems and were later diagnosed with Legionnaires’ had attended a convention at the Atlanta hotel in early July.

The Sheraton Atlanta Hotel has been closed since early July while it is being tested to determine whether it is the source of the outbreak. It is one of Dragon Con’s five main hotels, listed as sold out on the con website. Dragon Con begins August 29.

Though the bacterium causing Legionnaires’ has not yet been confirmed at the hotel, Sheraton Atlanta voluntarily shuttered its doors and hired outside experts to conduct testing, Nydam said.

“Sheraton Atlanta remains closed until at least August 11,” Ken Peduzzi, the hotel’s general manager, said in a statement Tuesday. Public health officials and environmental experts are working with the hotel to determine if it is the source of the outbreak, he said.

About one in 10 people who get sick from Legionnaires’ disease will die, a recent government report found.

(2) AURORA AWARDS VOTING BEGINS. Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association announces to members that voting for the Aurora Awards is now open, and will continue until September 14.

If you have not yet logged in, or you need to renew your membership, go to the member login page.

If you have not yet been a member of CSFFA, this year or in the past, you can go to the become a member page to join us. Membership costs $10 for the year and is renewed every year in January.

If you just want to see the public ballot, it is here.

The winners will be announced at Can-Con October 18 – 20, 2019 in Ottawa (http://can-con.org/).

(3) WHEATON SUES. The Hollywood Reporter tells why Wheaton filed: “Wil Wheaton Sues Geek & Sundry Over Web Series Profits”.

… Wheaton and his loan-out company Media Dynamics on Monday sued Legendary Geek & Sundry for breach of contract. The actor claims Legendary in 2015 hired him to create, write, executive produce and host a web series called Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana and he’d be paid $50,000 and 50 percent of the net profit from the series. 

Legendary had the exclusive right to distribute and promote the web show, but it was supposed to “consult meaningfully” with Wheaton before doing so, according to the complaint. The actor says Legendary defied that provision and negotiated license agreements with Sinclair Broadcasting, Hulu and Pluto TV without informing him. 

Wheaton expects Legendary has collected significant fees in connection with those deals, and therefore he’s due his share, but says the company won’t let him audit its books. 

Wheaton is seeking at least $100,000 in damages and is asking the court to order that a full accounting be conducted. 

(4) F&SF COVER. Publisher Gordon Van Gelder has unveiled The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’s Sep/Oct 2019 cover, with art by David A. Hardy.

(5) TO INFINITY AND PITTSBURGH. NBC Sports Craig Calcaterra is among the admirers: “Pirates pitcher Joe Musgrove shows off his Infinity Gauntlet glove”.

Yesterday Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Joe Musgrove showed off his new glove for Players’ Weekend. And while it was a big hit and made me laugh, in hindsight it seems, I dunno . . . inevitable that someone would go with this model.

(6) MORE ON MACMILLAN LIBRARY EBOOK POLICY. In a CNN opinion piece, Vermont librarian Jessamyn West comments on the ongoing controversy regarding Macmillan’s library ebook purchase policy (first tested by Tor Books): “Libraries are fighting to preserve your right to borrow e-books”.

…Public libraries in the United States purchase a lot of e-books, and circulate e-books a lot. According to the Public Library Association, electronic material circulation in libraries has been expanding at a rate of 30% per year; and public libraries offered over 391 million e-books to their patrons in 2017. Those library users also buy books; over 60% of frequent library users have also bought a book written by an author they first discovered in a library, according to Pew. Libraries offer free display space for books in over 16,000 locations nationwide. Even Macmillan admits that “Library reads are currently 45% of our total digital book reads.” But instead of finding a way to work with libraries on an equitable win-win solution, Macmillan implemented a new and confusing model and blamed libraries for being successful at encouraging people to read their books.

Libraries don’t just pay full price for e-books — we pay more than full price. We don’t just buy one book — in most cases, we buy a lot of books, trying to keep hold lists down to reasonable numbers. We accept renewable purchasing agreements and limits on e-book lending, specifically because we understand that publishing is a business, and that there is value in authors and publishers getting paid for their work. At the same time, most of us are constrained by budgeting rules and high levels of reporting transparency about where your money goes. So, we want the terms to be fair, and we’d prefer a system that wasn’t convoluted….

(7) POST-CONZEALAND NZ TOUR OFFERED. Val and Ron Ontell bid fans “Welcome to our 2020 tour of the North and South islands of New Zealand”:  

Back-to-back non-US Worldcons has presented some unique challenges.  One has been to arrange two tours back-to-back, but we have done it.  With our Ireland tour about to begin, we are pleased to announce that we will be running a tour of both islands of New Zealand in connection with CoNZealand in 2020.  

The proposed itinerary is here [PDF file]

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 6, 1874 Charles Fort. Writer and researcher who specialized in anomalous phenomena. The term fortean is sometimes used to characterize such phenomena. No, not genre as such, but certainly an influence on many a writer. The Dover publication, The Complete Books of Charles Fort, that collects together The Book of The Damned Lo!, Wild Talents and New Lands has a foreword by Damon Knight. L. Sprague de Camp reviewed it in Astounding Science-Fiction in the August 1941 issue when it was originally published as The Books of Charles Fort. (Died 1932.)
  • Born August 6, 1877 John Ulrich Giesy. He was one of the early writers in the Sword and Planet genre, with his Jason Croft series  He collaborated with Junius B. Smith on many of his stories though not these which others would call them scientific romances. He wrote a large number of stories featuring the occult detective Abdul Omar aka Semi-Dual and those were written with Smith. I see iBooks has at least all of the former and one of the latter available. Kindle just the latter. (Died 1947.)
  • Born August 6, 1926 Janet Asimov. Author of some half dozen novels and a fair amount of short fiction on her own, mostly as J.O. Jeppson; co-author with Isaac of the Norby Chronicles. Her Notes for a Memoir: On Isaac Asimov, Life, and Writing, came out thirteen years ago. (Died 2019.)
  • Born August 6, 1934 Piers Anthony, 85. Ok I’ll admit that I’m not at all familiar with him as comic fantasy isn’t my usual go-to reading. I know he’s popular so I’m going to ask y’all which of his novels would be a great introduction to him. Go ahead and tell which novels I should read. 
  • Born August 6, 1956 Ian R. MacLeod, 63. Another author I need to read more of. I’ve read the first two in what’s called the Aether Universe series, The Light Ages and The House of Storms, but there’s a number of novels I’m intrigued by including Song of Time and The Great Wheel. Anything else y’all would recommend I read? 
  • Born August 6, 1962 Michelle Yeoh, 57. Ok, I have to give her full name of Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Michelle Yeoh Choo-Kheng. Wow. Her first meaningful genre roles was as Wai Lin in Tomorrow Never Dies and Yu Shu Lien in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I actually remember her as Zi Yuan in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, the first film of a since-cancelled franchise. And then there’s her dual roles in the the Trek universe where she’s Captain Philippa Georgiou and Emperor Philippa Georgiou. The forthcoming Section 31 series will involve one of them but I’m not sure which one…
  • Born August 6, 1972 Paolo Bacigalupi, 47. I remember the book group I was part of having a spirited debate over The Windup Girl over the believability of the central character. I think he did a better job with characters in his next novels, Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities, but he’s really not about characters anyways.

(9) DISNEY V. BULLETPROOF BACKPACKS. “Disney Seeks to Shut Down Avenger and Princess-Themed Bulletproof Backpacks “ says The Hollywood Reporter.

…The “Ballistic Shield” recently unveiled by TuffyPacks, a Houston-based manufacturer of bulletproof backpacks, has a brightly colored picture of the Avengers charging headlong into view, with Captain America and his famous shield front and center.

Amid an epidemic of gun violence in America highlighted by recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, Dayton, Ohio, and Gilroy, Calif., the TuffyPacks shield is designed to keep children safe from handgun bullets.

TuffyPacks rolled out its latest models, which include a “Disney princess” theme featuring Jasmine from Aladdin, Cinderella, Belle from Beauty and the Beast and Rapunzel from Tangled, less than a month ago. In addition to Disney’s Avengers and Princesses, other themes include “Harry Potter,” “Major League Baseball” and “Camo.” They all retail for $129.

But the new bulletproof backpacks aren’t exactly endorsed by the Walt Disney Co. or Warner Bros. 

“None of these products were authorized by Disney, and we are demanding that those behind this stop using our characters or our other intellectual property to promote sales of their merchandise,” a spokesperson for Disney says in a statement

(10) PLAN B. In a follow-up to a recent Pixel, NPR reports “Amid Protests In Hawaii Against Giant Telescope, Astronomers Look To ‘Plan B'”.

A consortium of scientists hoping to build the world’s largest optical telescope on Hawaii’s tallest peak has applied to site it instead in the Canary Islands amid ongoing protests by native Hawaiians who oppose construction of the instrument on what they consider a sacred volcano.

For weeks, protesters have delayed the start of construction on the Big Island’s Mauna Kea volcano of the Thirty Meter Telescope, or TMT, which astronomers say will have a dozen times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope.

In a written statement on Monday, TMT Executive Director Ed Stone said that obtaining a permit to build in Spain’s Canary Islands, off West Africa, was meant as a “‘Plan B’ site … should it not be possible to build in Hawaii.” However, he emphasized that Mauna Kea “remains the preferred site.”

(11) SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS. David Wellington shares “Five Things I Learned Writing The Last Astronaut at Terrible Minds.

Everyone in space is ugly and ready for a fight.

Human bodies were never meant to exist in weightless conditions. All the fluid being pumped around your body right now needs gravity to get it to the right place. Think about hanging upside down from a jungle gym, the blood rushing to your head. How long do you think you could handle living like that? How many days in a row?

In microgravity, all of your internal organs climb up into your chest cavity, because the mass of the Earth isn’t holding them down anymore. This makes it a little hard to breathe. Farts collect inside your intestine until the pressure suddenly forces them out when you least want them to. Fluid builds up in places it shouldn’t, and there’s no good way to pump it back out of your tissues. The most dramatic—and obvious—way this effects you is that your face gets super puffy, distorting your features. And that’s when you learn just how much of living with other people is processing their facial expressions. Since everyone in space looks like they have the mumps, people start to get irritable. Innocent comments get misconstrued, and tempers flare. I spoke with one astronaut who joked that in the future one big career option is going to be “space lawyer”. Because of all the fistfights that are sure to break out during long missions to Mars. Of course, bouncing off other people all the time and getting in their way is inevitable given the close quarters. It might be better than the alternative, though…

(12) NOT WITH A BORROWED TONGUE. But maybe with this one: “Glasgow scientists develop artificial tongue to tackle fake whisky”.

An artificial “tongue” which can taste subtle differences between whiskies could help tackle the counterfeit alcohol trade, according to engineers.

They have built a tiny taster which exploits the properties of gold and aluminium to test differences between the spirits.

The technology can pick up on the subtler distinctions between the same whisky aged in different barrels.

It can tell the the difference between whiskies aged for 12, 15 and 18 years.

Engineers say the tongue “tasted” the differences with greater than 99% accuracy.

Alasdair Clark, of the University of Glasgow’s school of engineering, said: “We call this an artificial tongue because it acts similarly to a human tongue – like us, it can’t identify the individual chemicals which make coffee taste different to apple juice but it can easily tell the difference between these complex chemical mixtures.

(13) SKOAL! “Archaeologists find ‘Viking drinking hall’ during Orkney dig”reports the BBC. Chip Hitchcock sends the link with a note – “The Orkneys appear to have had many Earl/Jarl Sigurds; AFAICT, the one mentioned here is not the one who died in 1014 fighting for an Irish crown, as Debra Doyle filked in ‘Raven Banner’ back before she became known as a fiction writer.”

Archaeologists have found what could be a Viking drinking hall during a dig in Orkney.

The site, at Skaill Farmstead in Westness, Rousay, is believed to date back to the 10th Century and may have been used by the chieftain Sigurd.

…Westness is mentioned in the Orkneyinga Saga – a historical narrative of the archipelago – as the home of Earl Sigurd, a powerful 12th Century chieftain.

The name Skaill, which is a Norse word for “hall”, suggests the site could have been used for drinking and was high-status.

(14) PLAYING CATCH-UP. The Goodreads Blog does a rundown of “The 24 Most Popular Sci-Fi & Fantasy Novels of 2019 (So Far)”. Some were published last year, but other items are things you missed while doing your Hugo reading.

A mercenary seeks a missing child, a dead man’s brain is reactivated, a woman travels to the Mayan underworld, a disease drives its victims mad with false memories. These are just a few of the plots that have captured readers’ attention in this year’s batch of science fiction and fantasy novels.

To identify the books resonating with readers, we looked at sci-fi and fantasy novels published so far this year in the U.S. Then we filtered that list by average rating (everything on this list has at least a 3.5-star rating), number of reader reviews, and additions to readers’ Want to Read shelves (which is how we measure buzz and anticipation).

(15) HABEAS CORPUS. BBC finds out “What happens to a body donated to science?”

A man who donated his mother’s body to what he thought was Alzheimer’s research learned later it was used to test explosives. So what does happen when your body is donated to medical science?

Last week new details of a lawsuit emerged against The Biological Resource Centre in Arizona following an FBI raid in 2014 in which gruesome remains of hundreds of discarded body parts were discovered.

The now closed centre is accused of illegally selling body parts against the donors wishes.

Newly unreleased court documents revealed that families of those whose bodies had been donated to the centre said they believed their relatives remains would be used for medical and scientific research.

Jim Stauffer is one of the multiple plaintiffs suing the centre. He told Phoenix station ABC 15 he believed his mother’s donated body would be used to study Alzheimer’s, a disease she had, but he later found out it was used by the military to examine the effects of explosives.

He says on the paperwork he was given by the centre he specifically ticked ‘no’ when asked if he consented to the body being used to test explosives.

So how does the body donation business operate in the US and what expectations do people have about these facilities?

(16) COURT MUSICIAN. “Simpsons composer Alf Clausen sues Fox following ‘firing'” – BBC has the story.

A man who wrote music for The Simpsons for 27 years is suing its makers for allegedly firing him due to his age.

Composer Alf Clausen, 78, said he was sacked from the show in 2017.

In his claim, Clausen states he was informed that the show was “taking the music in a different direction”.

“This reason was pretextual and false,” the claim reads. “Instead, plaintiff’s unlawful termination was due to perceived disability and age.” The BBC has approached Fox for a comment.

At the time of Clausen’s departure, the show’s bosses stated they “tremendously value[d] Alf Clausen’s contributions” to the show.

According to trade paper Variety, Clausen was replaced by Bleeding Fingers Music, a music production company co-founded by Russell Emanuel, Hans Zimmer and Steve Kofsky.

Clausen’s suit says his replacement “was substantially younger in age, who was not only paid less, but was not disabled”.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Destination Moon 1950–On The Set With George Pal 1949” on YouTube is an hour-long show, first broadcast as an episode of City at Night on Los Angeles station KTLA in 1949, from the set of Destination Moon that includes rare interviews with Robert A. Heinlein and Chesley Bonestell.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Eric Franklin, Rich Lynch, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Nina Shepardson, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributor of the day Acoustic Rob.]

Pixel Scroll 7/3/19 These Are The Pixels That Try Men’s Scrolls

(1) IN OPINIONS YET TO COME. Brooke Bolander is the latest sff author to pen a futuristic op-ed for the New York Times.

As Tor.com puts it –

Asking “Who Should Live in Flooded Old New York?” Bolander imagines a time in which it’s illegal to live in the flooded remains of NYC, with the only residents being those who are too poor to move elsewhere. In this future, Mr. Rogers’ theme song has turned into an “old folk song,” and “draconian federal regulations” punish those remaining, while millionaires running illegal tourism schemes in the city get off scot-free.

(2) WHAT TOR LEARNED FROM LIBRARY SALES EMBARGO. Jason Sanford’s analysis, “Does library ebook lending hurt book sales? Tor Books experiment reveals answers, may lead to new ebook lending terms”, is a free post at his Patreon page. 

Sanford interviewed Fritz Foy, president and publisher of Tom Doherty Associates, the unit of Macmillan that includes Tor, who shared “an unprecedented look at their embargo test….”

…To discover if library ebook lending was indeed hurting sales, Macmillan used their Minotaur imprint as a control group and Tor Books as an experimental group. The two groups have books which sold in similar patterns along with authors and book series which drove steady sales from year to year.

For the experiment Tor prohibited ebook sales to libraries until four months after a book’s release. After that date libraries could purchase the Tor ebooks. The control group Minotaur instituted no such restriction. (As a side-note, Foy said the there was never a plan to do a six-month embargo on ebook sales to libraries, as reported in that Good e-Reader article.)

Foy was surprised by the experiment’s stark results.

“All but one title we compared (in the Tor experiment group) had higher sales after the four month embargo on ebook sales to libraries,” he said. “And the only title where we didn’t see this happen had bad reviews. And when you looked at the control group, sales remained the same.”

(3) LOTR DIRECTOR. “‘The Lord Of The Rings’: J.A. Bayona To Direct Amazon Series”Deadline has the story.

Amazon Studios’ high-profile The Lord of the Rings TV series has made a key hire. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom director Juan Antonio (J.A.) Bayona has been tapped to direct the first two episodes of the big-scope fantasy drama, following in the footsteps of Peter Jackson, who directed the feature adaptations of the classic J.R.R. Tolkien novels.

…Bayona’s first feature film, critically acclaimed thriller The Orphanage, executive produced by Guillermo del Toro, premiered to a 10-minute standing ovation at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and later won seven Goya Awards in Spain, including best new director.

Bayona most recently directed Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which grossed more than $1.3 billion worldwide last year. He also directed the features The Impossible, starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, and A Monster Calls, starring Sigourney Weaver, Liam Neeson and Felicity Jones, as well as the first two episodes of Showtime’s hit series Penny Dreadful.

(4) LOTR LOCATION. And where will the series be filmed? Probably where you’d have predicted it would if you never heard about the plan for Scotland. Yahoo! Movies reports “Scotland loses out on lucrative ‘Lord of the Rings’ shoot over ‘Brexit uncertainty’, claims new report”.

Amazon’s $1.5 billion (£1.19bn) Lord of the Rings series looks set to begin filming in New Zealand this month, after producers reportedly got cold feet about shooting in Scotland.

The NZ Herald reports that a “huge” part of the series, said to be the most expensive TV show ever made, will be produced in Auckland, specifically at the Kumeu Film Studios and Auckland Film Studios, with an official announcement coming this month. The report states that pre-production on the Amazon show has been based at the two studios for the last year.

Producers were also said to be considering Scotland as a production base, but New Zealand’s public-service radio broadcaster Radio New Zealand (Radio NZ), claims “the tumultuous Brexit situation hindered Scotland’s pitch”.

(5) RESNICK RETURNS TO FB. Mike Resnick gave Facebook readers a medical update about his frightening health news:

Sorry to be absent for a month. 4 weeks ago I was walking from one room to the next when I collapsed. Carol called the ambulance, and 2 days later I woke up in the hospital minus my large intestine. Just got home last night.

I don’t like growing old.

(6) TIDHAR PICKS BUNDLED. Storybundle announced the The 2019 World SF Bundle, curated by Lavie Tidhar:

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

  • Afro SF V3 by Ivor W. Hartmann
  • The Apex Book of World SF 5 by Cristina Jurado and Lavie Tidhar
  • Nexhuman by Francesco Verso
  • Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng

If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all four of the regular books, plus SIX more!

  • Escape from Baghdad! by Saad Z. Hossain
  • After the Flare by Deji Bryce Olukotun
  • The Thousand Year Beach by TOBI Hirotaka
  • Slipping by Lauren Beukes
  • Falling in Love with Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson
  • The Vanishing Kind by Lavie Tidhar

This bundle is available only for a limited time.

(7) JAMES WHITE AWARD. The judges for the 2019 James White Award will be Justina Robson, Chris Beckett and Donna Scott.

The competition is open to original, unpublished short stories of not more than 6,000 words by non-professional writers. The award, established in 2000, offers non-professional writers the opportunity to have their work published in Interzone, the UK’s leading sf magazine. The deadline for submissions was June 28. The winner will be announced in August.

(8) JUMANJI. The next sequel will be in theaters at Christmas.

In Jumanji: The Next Level, the gang is back but the game has changed. As they return to Jumanji to rescue one of their own, they discover that nothing is as they expect. The players will have to brave parts unknown and unexplored, from the arid deserts to the snowy mountains, in order to escape the world’s most dangerous game.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • July 3, 1958 Fiend Without A Face premiered.
  • July 3, 1985 Back to the Future was released.
  • July 3, 1996 Independence Day debuted in theaters.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 3, 1898 E. Hoffmann Price. He’s most readily remembered as being a Weird Tales writer, one of a group that included Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Clark Ashton Smith. He did a few collaborations, one of which was with H. P. Lovecraft, “Through the Gates of the Silver Key”. Another work, “The Infidel’s Daughter”, a satire on the Ku Klux Klan, also angered many Southern readers. (Died 1998.)
  • Born July 3, 1926 William Rotsler. An artist, cartoonist, pornographer and SF author. Well, that is his bio. Rotsler was a four-time Hugo Award winner for Best Fan Artist and one-time Nebula Award nominee. He also won a “Retro-Hugo” for his work in 1946 and was runner-up for 1951. He responsible for giving Uhura her first name, created “Rotsler’s Rules for Costuming”, popularized the idea fans wore propeller beanies and well, being amazing sounding. (Died 1997.)
  • Born July 3, 1927 Tim O’Connor. He was Dr. Elias Huer in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century for much of its run. Other genre appearances were on The Six Million Dollar ManThe Twilight Zone, The Outer LimitsWonder WomanKnight RiderStar Trek: The Next Generation and The Burning Zone. (Died 2018.)
  • Born July 3, 1927 Ken Russell. Altered States is his best known SF film but he’s also done The Devils, an historical horror film, and Alice in Russialand. Russell had a cameo in the film adaptation of Brian Aldiss’s novel Brothers of the Head by the directors of Lost in La Mancha. And, of course, he’s responsible for The Who’s Tommy. (Died 2012.)
  • Born July 3, 1937 Tom Stoppard, 82. Screenplay writer, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead which is adjacent genre if not actually genre. Also scripted of course Brazil which he co-authored with Terry Gilliam and Charles McKeow. He also did the final Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade final rewrite of Jeffrey Boam’s rewrite of Menno Meyjes’s screenplay. And finally Shakespeare in Love which he co-authored with Marc Norman.
  • Born July 3, 1943 Kurtwood Smith, 76. Clarence Boddicker in Robocop, Federation President in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and voiced Kanjar Ro in Green Lantern: First Flight. He’s got series appearances on Blue ThunderThe Terrible ThunderlizardsThe X-FilesStar Trek: Deep Space NineStar Trek: VoyagerMen in Black: The Series3rd Rock from the SunTodd McFarlane’s Spawn, Judtice League, Batman Beyond, Green Lantern and Beware the Batman. His last role was as Vernon Masters as the superb Agent Carter.
  • Born July 3, 1962 Tom Cruise, 57. I’m reasonably sure his first genre role was as Jack in Legend. Next up was Lestat de Lioncourt in Interview with the Vampire followed by being Ethan Hunt in the first of many Mission Impossible films. Then he was John Anderton in the abysmal Minority Report followed by Ray Ferrier in the even far more abysmal War of The Worlds. I’ve not seen him as Maj. William Cage in Edge of Tomorrow so I’ve no idea how good he or the film is. Alas then Nick Morton in, oh god, The Mummy

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) IT DON’T PAY TO BE IGNORANT. Not on Jeopardy! as Andrew Porter witnessed tonight:

In the category American Writers, the answer was, “In a story by this sci-fi master, ‘I Sing the Body Electric!’ is the title of a pamphlet for a robot grandmother.”

Wrong questions: “Who is Isaac Asimov?” and “Who is Robert Heinlein?”

(13) AURORA AWARDS. The 2019 Aurora Awards Voter Package is online, available to members of the Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association.

The purpose of the Aurora Awards Voter Package is simple. Before you vote for the Aurora Awards this year, we want you to be able to read as much of the nominated work as possible, so you can make and informed decision about what is the best of the year. Please note: the package is only available while voting is open. Remember voting ends September 14, 2019 at 11:59:59 EDT!

The electronic versions of these Aurora Award nominated works are made available to you through the generosity of the nominees and publishers. We are grateful for their participation and willingness to share with CSFFA members. If you like what you read, please support the creators by purchasing their works, which are available in bookstores and online.

(14) EN ROUTE. John Hertz, while packing for his journey to Spikecon, paused to quote from the classics:

Farewell my friends, farewell my foes;
To distant planets Freddy goes;
To face grave perils he intends.
Farewell my foes, goodbye my friends.

(15) MORE BOOKS I HAVEN’T READ. At Tor.com, Gabriella Tutino publicized a list compiled by Reddit User einsiboy, creator of the TopRedditBooks site: “Here are the 100 Most Discussed Fantasy Books on Reddit”.  The Reddit link is here. I’ve only read 19 of these – what a disgrace!

(16) JDA REAPPLIES TO SFWA. Mary Robinette Kowal took office as SFWA’s new President at the start of the month. Jon Del Arroz says his latest application for membership is already in her inbox: “A New Dawn For SFWA!” [Internet Archive link].

Things are changing at SFWA as my friend Mary Robinette Kowal has been installed as president, after I endorsed her candidacy early on.

…As she has featured my books on her blog not once, but twice, I know that Ms. Kowal’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity is important to her, and she will be doing everything she can to change the perception that SFWA is a place where Conservatives and Christians are not welcome to be called professional authors.

As such, I have reapplied to SFWA as of yesterday, and let Ms. Kowal know, so we can begin the long journey of working together to ensure equality for Conservative and Christian authors. I’ve offered my services as an ambassador to the community, so she will directly be able to hear the grievances of such authors who have been treated as second class citizens — dare I say, 3/5ths of a professional author — for so long now within the science fiction community.

(17) VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE INTERNET. Shades of Cryptonomicon. Futurism.com thinks that the “Russian Sub That Caught Fire Possibly Sent to Cut Internet Cables”

Fire Down Below

On Monday, a Russian submarine caught fire during a mission, killing 14 sailors on board.

But the public didn’t find out about the incident until the next day, when Russia finally released a statement about the accident — though two days after the event, the nation still wouldn’t say exactly what kind of sub caught fire or whether it was nuclear-powered.

A possible reason for Russia’s caginess? Multiple sources are now claiming the sub was an AS-12 “Losharik,” a nuclear-powered submarine some speculate was designed to cut the undersea cables that deliver internet to the world.

(18) FOUR FOR THE FOURTH. For the holiday, James Davis Nicoll has lined up “4 SF Works Featuring a Far-Future U.S.A.” at Tor.com.

In Joe and Jack C. Haldeman’s There Is No Darkness, English is an obscure language, spoken only on backwater worlds and a few places on Earth. We don’t know exactly when the book takes place, as year zero has been set to the founding of the (future) Confederacion. We are told the year is A.C. 354.

What we see of a future Texas suggests that it’s still as recognizably American as Justinian’s Constantinople would have been recognizably Roman. While the region seems a bit down at heel, it’s also one of the more optimistic takes on a future America.

(19) SCALZI GIVEAWAY. Or maybe Christmas will come early and you can read this:

(20) IF IT E-QUACKS LIKE A DUCK. Thomas has found a place where “Robots Replace Ducks in Rice Paddy Fields”.

Aigamo is a Japanese farming method that uses ducks to keep unwanted plants and parasites out of rice paddy fields. This duck crossbreed is able to keep the paddy clear without the use of herbicides or pesticides, and the fowls’ waste actually works as a pretty good fertilizer.  

The method was first introduced in the 16th century but soon fell out of favor. It wasn’t reintroduced as a natural farming method until 1985 and it quickly became popular across the country as well as in China, Iran, France, and other countries. 

About 15 ducks can keep a 1,000-square-meter area clear of insects, worms, and weeds, and they even enrich the water with oxygen by constantly stirring up the soil. But as humans are prone to do, an engineer from Nissan Motor, needed to build a better mousetrap, although this one may not have too many beating down a path to his door. 

Created as a side project, the Aigamo Robot looks less like its namesake and more like a white, floating Roomba with eyes. While the ducks can be trained to patrol specific areas, the robot employs Wi-Fi and GPS to help the robot stir up the soil and keep bugs at bay, though no word yet on how much ground it can cover in a single day. 

(21) SPIDER TO THE FLIER. Have you seen “United–Fly Like a Superhero” on YouTube? The Spider-Man version of the United Airlines safety video? Too bad it’s not as much fun as the Air New Zealand hobbit videos.

(22) STRANGE VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “9 Ways To Draw A Person” on Vimeo, Sasha Svirsky offers a strange video that doesn’t actually tell you how to draw a person.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Jason Sanford, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Greg Hullender, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day rcade.]

Pixel Scroll 6/3/19 This Is My Pixel And This Is My Scroll! One Is For Filing, The Other I LOL!

(1) RED MOON RISING. “Apple Publishes “For All Mankind” Apple TV+ Trailer” at MacStories.

What if the space race had never ended? Watch an official first look at For All Mankind, an Apple Original drama series coming this Fall to Apple TV+. Get notified when Apple TV+ premieres on the Apple TV app: http://apple.co/_AppleTVPlus For All Mankind is created by Emmy® Award winner Ronald D. Moore (Outlander, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica), Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi. Told through the lives of NASA astronauts, engineers and their families, For All Mankind presents an aspirational world where NASA and the space program remained a priority and a focal point of our hopes and dreams.

(2) TRACING THE MCU. In “+” at the Los Angeles Review of Books, University of Southern California cinema professor J.D. Connor has an exhaustive and highly quotable analysis of the MCU.

…Still, Feige has been utterly judicious about when and how to push. Over the years, fans (and others) have pushed for a less white, less male MCU, and Feige (and others) have managed to create an underdiscourse, in which the limits of the MCU’s representational efforts stem not from his convictions but rather from constraints placed on his own fandom by longtime Marvel head Ike Perlmutter and conservative forces on what was called the “Marvel Creative Committee.” Feige was able to get Perlmutter and the committee out of his way in 2015, and the next four films out of the pipeline would be developed, written, shot, and edited without their input. It’s no surprise that those four films happen to be the “boldest Marvel has ever made”: Guardians 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, and Black Panther.

Here the crucial installment is Black Panther, which seemed to prove that the whole machine could just as easily work based on African diaspora superheroes, with departments largely headed by women of color. Black Panther offers a vision of merit deferred. In place of lamentations about the empty pipeline, here was a movie that suggested, convincingly, that the representational revolution was at hand and only required Hollywood certification. The industry was clearly ready to endorse that vision of incremental revolution, giving Oscars to both Ruth E. Carter (Costume) and Hannah Beachler (Production Design). Those two, along with an award for Black Panther’s score, were the MCU’s first wins.

This story — from foundation and expansion to confidence and representation — has been emerging within the MCU. At the end of Endgame, Tony Stark is dead, Steve Rogers is old, and Thor has a new home among the more ridiculous and sentimental Guardians of the Galaxy. Replacing the foundational three white dudes are Captain Marvel, a new Captain America, and Black Panther….

(3) IRON MANTLE. The Spider-Man: Far From Home Chinese Trailer inspires a SYFY Wire writer to theorize about the MCU’s future —

…The world is definitely asking “who is going to be the next Iron Man?” Captain America has promoted Falcon. Who’s taking up Iron Man’s robotic mantle? With Spidey debuting multiple new suits in the film (and in the trailer, where fans can see the black stealth suit swing), this could be Peter Parker’s time to shine as the MCU moves into a new Phase.

(4) MONSTROSITY. Leonard Maltin really unloads on “Godzilla: King of the Monsters”.

Two hours wasted: that’s how I feel after watching Godzilla: King of the Monsters. This bloated production starts out as an enjoyably tacky monster movie but doesn’t know when to quit. Every pseudo-scientific explanation (and there are plenty) has a counter-explanation in order to keep the story going…and every apparent climax leads to another climax. There’s even a post-credits scene, as if we needed one. We don’t….

(5) THAT CAT KNOWS WHAT HE’S ABOUT. So perhaps it’s just as well that Camestros Felapton was duped into seeing the Elton John biopic instead — Rocketcat.

[Timothy the Talking Cat] You see? You see? I totally tricked you.
[Camestros Felapton] Hmmm
[Tim] You thought we were going to go and see Godzilla but we actually went to see Rocketman.
[CF] That’s OK. I enjoyed the film.
[Tim] But admit that I totally tricked you….

(6) RETRO SPECIAL EFFECTS. Lots of sff GIFs here, beginning with a load of flying saucer movie clips, at Raiders of the Lost Tumblr.

(7) MORE AURORA AWARDS NEWS. Voting for the Aurora Awards will begin on August 3, 2019. Click here to visit the public ballot page.

The Aurora Voters Package will be available for CSFFA members to download later this month.

Both the voters package and the ballot close at 11:59 pm EDT on September 14, 2018.

(8) NEW TITLE FOR GRRM. ComicsBeat has learned “George R.R. Martin Has a New World to Explore in Meow Wolf”.

Looks like George R. R. Martin is taking his epic world-building skills to Meow Wolf, the Santa Fe-based arts and entertainment collective behind the House of Eternal Return and other next-gen immersive and interactive exhibitions. The Game of Thrones creator has been named new Chief World Builder and will bring his “unparalleled storytelling skills to the multiverse” of Meow Wolf by working with key members of the collective to “advise on building narrative and mind-bending ideas” that will yield “ambitious immersive installations.”

This isn’t Martin’s first time working with Meow Wolf. The Santa Fe resident helped secure the local bowling alley that is now the House of Eternal Return attraction and entertainment complex. The attraction displays a multidimensional mystery house of secret passages and surreal tableaus featuring Meow Wolf’s artists, architects, and designers, as well as a learning center, cafe, music venue, bar, and outdoor dining scene.

(9) COME HOME. Disney dropped a new trailer for The Lion King that features Beyonce.

(10) DARROW OBIT. BBC reports “Blake’s 7 actor Paul Darrow dies at 78”.

British actor Paul Darrow, best known for his role as Kerr Avon in sci-fi BBC TV series Blake’s 7, has died at the age of 78 following a short illness.

Most recently, Darrow voiced soundbites for independent radio stations Jack FM and Union Jack, where he was known as the “Voice of Jack”.

The character of Avon was second-in-command on Blake’s 7, which ran for four series between 1978 and 1981.

Darrow shared a flat with John Hurt and Ian McShane while studying at Rada.

While best-known for his Blake’s 7 role, he appeared in more than 200 television shows, including Doctor Who, The Saint, Z Cars, Emmerdale, Hollyoaks and Little Britain.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 3, 1905 Norman A. Daniels. Writer working initially in pulp magazines, later on radio and television. He created the Black Bat pulp hero and wrote for such series as The Avengers, The Phantom Detective and The Shadow. He has three non-series novels, The Lady Is a Witch, Spy Slave and Voodoo Lady. To my surprise, iBooks and Kindle has a Black Bat Omnibus available! In addition, iBooks has the radio show. (Died 1995.)
  • Born June 3, 1931 John Norman. 86. Gor, need I say more? I could say both extremely sexist and badly written but that goes without saying. They are to this day both extremely popular being akin to earlier pulp novels, though argue the earlier pulp novels by and large were more intelligent than these are. Not content to have one such series, he wrote the Telnarian Histories which also has female slaves. No, not one of my favourite authors. 
  • Born June 3, 1946 Penelope Wilton, 73. She played the recurring role of Harriet Jones in Doctor Who, an unusual thing for the show as they developed a story for the character. She was also played Homily in The Borrowers, Barbara in Shaun of the Dead, The Queen in Roald Dahl’s The BFG, Beatrix Potter in The Tale of Beatrix Potter, The White Queen in Through the Looking-Glass and Gertrude in in Hamlet at the Menier Chocolate Factory. 
  • Born June 3, 1950 Melissa Mathison. Screenwriter who worked with Spielberg on  E.T. the Extra-TerrestrialTwilight Zone: The Movie and BFG, the latter being the last script she did before dying of cancer. She also did The Indian in the Cupboard which wasdirected by Frank Oz. (Died 2015.)
  • Born June 3, 1958 Suzie Plakson, 61. She played four characters on Trek series: a Vulcan, Doctor Selar, in “The Schizoid Man” (Next Gen); the half-Klingon/half-human Ambassador K’Ehleyr in “The Emissary” and “Reunion” (Next Gen); the Lady Q in “The Q and the Grey” (Voyager); and an Andorian, Tarah, in “Cease Fire” (Enterprise).  She also voiced Amazonia in the “Amazon Women in the Mood” episode of Futurama. Really. Truly.
  • Born June 3, 1964 James Purefoy, 55. His most recent genre performance was as Laurens Bancroft in Altered Carbon. His most impressive was as Solomon Kane in the film of that name. He was also in A Knight’s Tale as Edward, the Black Prince of Wales/Sir Thomas Colville. He dropped out of being V in V for Vendetta some six weeks into shooting but some early scenes of the masked V are of him.
  • Born June 3, 1973 Patrick Rothfuss, 46. He is best known for the Kingkiller Chronicle series, which won him several awards, including the 2007 Quill Award for his first novel, The Name of the Wind. Before The Name of the Wind was released, an excerpt from the novel was released as a short story titled “The Road to Levinshir” and it won the Writers of the Future contest in 2002.

(12) THE FUNGI THEY HAD. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Over the weekend, RadioLab rebroadcast a fascinating September 2016 podcast, From Tree To Shining Tree, discussing the various ways that trees intercommunicate, along with the discovery of an intense fungi-based underground network (hence my item title).

Related recommended reading (I don’t know if they mentioned it in the show, we tuned in after it was underway, but I’d happened upon it in my public library’s New Books, when it came out, and borrowed’n’read it then), The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate?Discoveries From A Secret World by Peter Wohlleben

(Perhaps Greg Bear could be inspired by these, and do Sap Music as a sequel to Blood Music?

(13) KEEPING THE SHIP IN STARSHIP. James Davis Nicoll rigs up a post about “Light Sails in Science and Fiction” at Tor.com.

…Possibly the reason that light sails took a while to become popular tropes is that the scientifically-clued-in authors who would have been aware of the light sail possibility would also have known just how minuscule light sail accelerations would be. They might also have realized that it would be computationally challenging to predict light sail trajectories and arrival times. One-g-forever rockets may be implausible, but at least working how long it takes them to get from Planet A to Planet B is straightforward. Doing the same for a vehicle dependent on small variable forces over a long, long time would be challenging.

Still, sailing ships in space are fun, so it’s not surprising that some authors have featured them in their fiction. Here are some of my favourites…

(14) IRONMAN ONE. The Space Review salutes the 50th anniversary of Marooned, the movie adaptation of Martin Caidin’s book, in “Saving Colonel Pruett”.

In this 50th anniversary year of the first Apollo lunar landing missions, we can reflect not only on those missions but also on movies, including the reality-based, technically-oriented space movies of that era, that can educate as well as entertain and inspire. One of those is Marooned, the story of three NASA astronauts stranded in low Earth orbit aboard their Apollo spacecraft, call-sign Ironman One—all letters, no numbers, and painted right on the command module (CM), a practice NASA had abandoned by 1965. They were the first crew of Ironman, the world’s first space station, the renovated upper stage of a Saturn rocket as planned for the Apollo Applications Program, predecessor of Skylab….

(15) GHIBLI PARK. “Studio Ghibli Park Set to Open in Japan in 2022”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

Japanese anime hit factory Studio Ghibli is to open a theme park in 2022 in cooperation with the local Aichi Prefecture government and the Chunichi Shimbun newspaper company.

Plans for the “Ghibli Park,” which will occupy 494 acres (200 hectares) in Nagakute City, Aichi, were first announced around this time in 2017, when the local government said it was looking for other commercial partners.

…According to the three companies, three areas — Youth Hill, partly based on Howl’s Moving Castle; Dondoko Forest, based on My Neighbor Totoro; and a Great Ghibli Warehouse — are set to open in fall 2022. A Mononoke Village, based on Princess Mononoke, and a Valley of the Witch area, themed on both Kiki’s Delivery Service and Howl’s Moving Castle, are set to open a year later

(16) ANOTHER YANK OF THE CHAIN. Fast Company finds that once again “The P in IHOP doesn’t stand for what you think it stands for”. (Really, at moments like this I think it’s a darned shame I don’t monetize this site.)

…The IHOB campaign got the brand more than 42 billion media impressions worldwide, and immediately quadrupled the company’s burger sales. Now a year later, with burger sales still humming along at double their pre-IHOB numbers, the brand is trying to once again to catch advertising lightning in a (butter pecan) bottle.

Last week, the diner chain announced that it would have an announcement today, relating to its name, aiming once again for the same social-media chatter that debated its burgers last time around. A lot of those people last year scolded IHOP for venturing beyond pancakes. Now the brand is having a bit of fun with that idea–and the definition of a pancake.

“This year we listened to the internet and are sticking to what we do best, which is pancakes,” says IHOP CMO Brad Haley. “We’re just now calling our steak burgers pancakes. We contacted some of the people who told us to stick to pancakes last year for this year’s campaign, so the trolls have teed up the new campaign quite nicely.”

(17) DO CHEATERS EVER PROSPER? NPR’s Caitlyn Paxson says“Cheating Death Will Cost You In ‘The Wise And The Wicked'”.

In this tale of a family with dark secrets and divinatory gifts, Lambda Literary Award winner Rebecca Podos ponders the inevitable question: If you can read the future that lies ahead, do you also have the power to change it?

When Ruby Chernyavsky hit her teen years, she had a premonition — a vision of the moments leading up to her death. Knowing her “Time” was something she always expected, since all of the women in her family forsee their own, but what none of them know is that Ruby’s days are numbered. Her Time is her 18th birthday, so in a little over a year, she’ll be dead….

(18) PLAYING FOR KEEPS. This is what happens when you trimble your kipple: “Long-lost Lewis Chessman found in Edinburgh family’s drawer”.

A medieval chess piece that was missing for almost 200 years had been unknowingly kept in a drawer by an Edinburgh family.

They had no idea that the object was one of the long-lost Lewis Chessmen – which could now fetch £1m at auction.

The chessmen were found on the Isle of Lewis in 1831 but the whereabouts of five pieces have remained a mystery.

The Edinburgh family’s grandfather, an antiques dealer, had bought the chess piece for £5 in 1964.

He had no idea of the significance of the 8.8cm piece (3.5in), made from walrus ivory, which he passed down to his family.

They have looked after it for 55 years without realising its importance, before taking it to Sotheby’s auction house in London.

The Lewis Chessmen are among the biggest draws at the British Museum and the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

They are seen as an “important symbol of European civilisation” and have also seeped into popular culture, inspiring everything from children’s show Noggin The Nog to part of the plot in Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone.

(19) TOTALLY TONOPAH. Kevin Standlee promotes the Tonopah in 2021 Westercon bid in an interview about the proposed facility:

Tonopah in 2021 chair Kevin Standlee interviews Mizpah Hotel supervisor Rae Graham and her wife (and Mizpah Club staffer) Kayla Brosius about the Mizpah Hotel, what they think about how Tonopah would welcome a Westercon, and how they think the convention would fit with the hotel.

 The bid’s webpage also has a lot of new information about hotels and restaurants in Tonopah. Standlee says, “A new hotel just opened up adding another 60 rooms to the town, including more handicapped-accessible/roll-in-shower rooms, for example.”

Standlee and Lisa Hayes took a lot of photos while they were in Tonopah, now added to their Flickr album — including pictures of the unexpected late-May snow. Kevin admits:

I’d be very surprised by snow in July, but they schedule their big annual town-wide event for Memorial Day because it should neither be snowy or hot, and they instead got four inches of snow on their rodeo. Fortunately, it mostly all melted by the next morning.

Memorial Day Snow in Tonopah
Unhappy Bear
Kuma Bear is grumpy that he’s all covered in snow after Lisa and Kevin went out for a walk in Tonopah when it was snowing.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John Hertz, Kevin Standlee, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]

2019 Aurora Award Ballot

The 2019 Aurora Awards finalists have been announced. The awards are nominated by members of the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association, for Science Fiction / Fantasy works done in 2018 by Canadians. The top five nominated works were selected.  Additional works were included where there was a tie for fifth place. The awards ceremony will be held at Can-Con 2019, October 18-20, in Ottawa.

Best Novel

  • Armed in Her Fashion by Kate Heartfield, ChiZine Publications
  • Graveyard Mind by Chadwick Ginther, ChiZine Publications
  • One of Us by Craig DiLouie, Orbit
  • The Quantum Magician by Derek Künsken, Solaris Books and Analog Science Fiction and Fact
  • They Promised Me The Gun Wasn’t Loaded by James Alan Gardner, Tor
  • Witchmark by C. L. Polk, Tor.com Publications

Best Young Adult Novel

  • Children of the Bloodlands: The Realms of Ancient, Book 2 by S.M. Beiko, ECW Press
  • Cross Fire: An Exo Novel by Fonda Lee, Scholastic Press
  • Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks by ‘Nathan Burgoine, Bold Strokes Books
  • Finding Atlantis by J.M. Dover, Evil Alter Ego Press
  • Legacy of Light by Sarah Raughley, Simon Pulse
  • The Emerald Cloth by Clare C Marshall, Faery Ink Press
  • The Sign of Faust by Éric Desmarais, Renaissance Press
  • Timefall by Alison Lohans, Five Rivers Publishing

Best Short Fiction

  • “A Hold Full of Truffles” by Julie E. Czerneda, Tales from Plexis, DAW Books
  • “Alice Payne Arrives” by Kate Heartfield, Tor.com Publications
  • “Critical Mass” by Liz Westbrook-Trenholm, Shades Within Us: Tales of Migrations and Fractured Borders, Laksa Media
  • “For A Rich Man to Enter” by Susan Forest, InterGalactic Medicine Show, Issue 62
  • “Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach” by Kelly Robson, Tor.com Publications

Best Graphic Novel

  • Crash and Burn by Finn Lucullan and Kate Larking, Astres Press
  • FUTILITY: Orange Planet Horror by Rick Overwater and Cam Hayden, Coffin Hop Press
  • It Never Rains by Kari Maaren, Webcomic
  • Krampus Is My Boyfriend! by S.M. Beiko, Webcomic
  • Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal, Drawn and Quarterly

Best Poem/Song

  • “Echos” by Shannon Allen, By the Light of Camelot, EDGE
  • “How My Life Will End” by Vanessa Cardui, Shades Within Us: Tales of Migrations and Fractured Borders, Laksa Media
  • “Osiris” by Leah Bobet, Uncanny Magazine
  • “Trips to Impossible Cities” by Sandra Kasturi, Amazing Stories Magazine, issue #2, Winter 2018
  • “Ursula Le Guin in the Underworld” by Sarah Tolmie, On Spec issue 107 vol 28.4

Best Related Work

  • By the Light of Camelot edited by J. R. Campbell and Shannon Allen, EDGE 
  • Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction edited by Dominik Parisien and Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, Uncanny Magazine
  • Gaslight Gothic: Strange Tales of Sherlock Holmes edited by J. R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec, EDGE 
  • Shades Within Us: Tales of Migrations and Fractured Borders edited by Susan Forest and Lucas K. Law, Laksa Media
  • We Shall Be Monsters: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein 200 years on edited by Derek Newman-Stille, Renaissance Press

Best Visual Presentation

  • Bao, written and directed by Domee Shi , Pixar Animation Studios
  • Deadpool 2, written and produced by Ryan Reynolds, Twentieth Century Fox
  • Murdoch Mysteries, 2018 episodes, Peter Mitchell and Christina Jennings, Shaftesbury Films
  • Travelers, Season 3, Brad Wright, Carrie Mudd, John G. Lenic, and Eric McCormack, Peacock Alley Entertainment
  • Wynonna Earp, Season 3, Emily Andras, Seven24 Films Calgary

Best Artist

  • Lily Author, cover art for Polar Borealis Magazine #8, Dragon Lab
  • Samantha M. Beiko, covers for Laksa Media
  • James F. Beveridge, cover art for Tyche books
  • Roger Czerneda, cover for Tales from Plexis, DAW Books
  • Dan O’Driscoll, covers for Bundoran Press
  • Lynne Taylor Fahnestalk, cartoons for Amazing Stories Magazine 

Best Fan Writing and Publications

  • Adios Cowboy, Adam Shaftoe
  • Books and Tea, Christina Vasilevski
  • Constructing the Future, Derek Newman-Stille, Uncanny Magazine
  • Mars vs. Titan, Ron S. Friedman, Quora
  • She Wrote It But…Revisiting Joanna Russ’ “How to Suppress Women’s Writing” 35 Years Later, Krista D. Ball
  • Travelling TARDIS, Jen Desmarais, JenEric Designs

Best Fan Organizational

  • Sandra Kasturi, chair Chiaroscuro Reading Series: Toronto
  • Derek Künsken and Marie Bilodeau, co-chairs, Can*Con, Ottawa
  • Matt Moore, Marie Bilodeau, and Nicole Lavigne, co-chairs, Chiaroscuro Reading Series: Ottawa
  • Randy McCharles, chair, When Words Collide, Calgary
  • Sandra Wickham, chair, Creative Ink Festival, Burnaby, BC

Best Fan Related Work

  • S.M. Beiko and Clare C. Marshall, Business BFFs (Podcast)
  • Kari Maaren, ChiSeries Toronto, monthly musical performances
  • Joshua Pantalleresco, Just Joshing (Podcast)
  • Derek Newman-Stille, Speculating Canada
  • Edward Willett, The Worldshapers (Podcast)

[Thanks to Clifford Samuels for the story.]