Pixel Scroll 11/20/18 Maybe The Real File Was The Pixels We Scrolled On The Way

(1) BACK TO BACK. The Hollywood Reporter asked, the fans answered: “Which Movie Franchise Should Return? ‘Back to the Future’ Tops New Poll”. They don’t care that director Robert Zemeckis declared three years ago that he would try to block a reboot of the franchise, “even after his death.”

Of the 2,201 adults surveyed between Nov. 8 and 11, 71 percent said that they’d be likely to watch another outing for Marty McFly and Doc Brown ahead of other franchises like Pixar’s Toy Story (69 percent), Lucasfilm’s Indiana Jones (68 percent) and Universal’s Jurassic Park (67 percent).

Back to the Future also polled well when it came to the question of which franchise has been most closely followed by the public. Fifty-four percent of those polled reported having watched the entirety of the series, compared with just 36 percent for the ever-growing Star Wars series. As with the earlier question, both Toy Story and Indiana Jones performed well, with 47 percent of those responding having followed each series faithfully.

(2) FIREFLY. The Verge’s Andrew Liptak tells Firefly fans where to find more of the good stuff: “Big Damn Hero is a familiar trip back to Joss Whedon’s Firefly universe”.

In December 2002, Fox gave the ax to a little-known science fiction show from Joss Whedon called Firefly. The series gained a cult status when it hit DVD the following year, and its story continued in the 2005 film Serenity and a handful of comic books — but a planned massively multiplayer game based on the series never materialized, and Firefly has been weirdly left out of the recent surge of rebooted TV shows. Now, for fans who have been missing the franchise, there’s a new glimmer of hope — or at least an opportunity to revisit the ‘Verse, with James Lovegrove and Nancy Holder’s new novel Big Damn Hero.

Big Damn Hero is the first of three novels being published by Titan Books in the coming months, under the guidance of Whedon, who serves as a “consulting editor.” Like Firefly, the book follows the crew of the spaceship Serenity, led by Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a veteran of a failed rebellion against the authoritarian Alliance government. The result is a new bona fide adventure in the story — one that could be an extended episode from the series, but which also fleshes out the characters and world just a bit more.

(3) WOKE ON A COLD HILL SIDE IN GALLIFREY. The Daily Mail (of course!) is all over this story: “Exterminate! Fans’ backlash over Doctor Who’s latest transformation- into TV’s most PC show”

One fan wrote: ‘There should be a clever story line, not a rehash of history. There’s also an underlying feeling the focus has been forcing inclusiveness by having such obviously diverse characters.’

Another said: ‘Please keep the PC stuff for documentaries and serious drama and let the Doctor help us escape to a fantasy world.’

(4) SAYS WHO? Stylist tells how “Jodie Whittaker brilliantly hits back at all those saying Doctor Who is “too PC””.

Now, Whittaker – who’s the first ever female Doctor – has addressed the backlash.

“What’s the point of making a show if it doesn’t reflect society today?,” Whittaker said while switching on the Christmas lights at London’s Regent Street on Monday 19 November. “We have the opportunity with this show like no other to dip to future, to past, to present, to new worlds and time zones. There is never going to be a drought in the stories you can tell.”

Whittaker continued: “It’s always topical. Chris is a very present-minded person who is very aware of the world he lives in and is passionate about storytelling. It would be wrong of him to not have used the past. He does it in a really beautiful way.”

(5) BOMBS AWAY. Those of you who don’t think Robin Hood is sff can skip this review, and those who do may want to skip this movie after reading what The Hollywood Reporter says about it in “‘Robin Hood’: Film Review”.

Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx and Ben Mendelsohn lead the cast in the latest big-screen iteration of the classic adventure story.

Guy Ritchie’s idiotic, leathered-up, fancy-weaponed take on King Arthur worked out so wonderfully for all involved last year ($149 million worldwide box office on a $175 million budget) that someone still evidently thought it would be a good idea to apply the same preposterous modernized armaments, trendy wardrobe and machine-gun style to perennial screen favorite Robin Hood.

Well, it’s turned out even worse than anyone could have imagined in this all-time big-screen low for Robin, Marian, Friar Tuck, Guy of Gisbourne and the Sheriff of Nottingham, not to mention for Jamie Foxx as an angry man from the Middle East who’s gotten mixed up on the wrong side of a Crusade, or maybe just in the wrong movie. Leonardo DiCaprio can rest easy in the knowledge that this fiasco will come and go so quickly that few will remember that it even existed, much less that he produced it. In a just world, everyone involved in this mess would be required to perform some sort of public penance.

(6) RESOURCES FOR AN IRISH WORLDCON. Fanac.org’s Joe Siclari turns the site’s attention to Retro-Hugo-eligible zines and classic Irish fanwriting.

Retro Hugos: We have a guide to 1943 fannish publications online for your Retro Hugo nominating pleasure. We’re not done adding links to it, so there’ll be even more to read. The guide shows all the 1943 fanzines, including the ones we don’t have, and will let you know what’s eligible for best fanzine. Even if a fanzine had too few issues to be eligible, it can give insight for nominations in the Best Fan Writer and Best Fan Artist categories. In addition to FANAC.org hosted zines, there are links to materials on efanzines and the University of Iowa’s Rusty Hevelin collection. The printed fanzines are rare, not readily available, and physically frail, so we’re especially glad we can make them available to you online.

The Irish Project: As part of our effort to promote our fannish history, FANAC makes a priority of adding material that is pertinent to current fan events (like our push to make fan source material available for the Retro Hugo Awards). With the very first Irish Worldcon scheduled for 2019, we are making available classic Irish fan publications from such luminaries as Walt Willis, Bob Shaw, James White, and the Englishmen often identified with Irish Fandom (IF), John Berry, Chuck Harris, Arthur Thomson (Atom), etc.

The Wheels of IF had extensive interaction and influence in fandom, and so we are including English and American zines where that influence was often seen. There are publications included by Lee Hoffman (Quandry), Shelby Vick (Confusion), Vin¢ Clarke, Ken Bulmer (Steam), and others.

We have fanzines, apazines, trip reports and fabulous one-shots (like John Berry’s “This Goon For Hire”). Publication dates range from the 50s to the 90s, with more current pieces coming. Our

Wheels of IF directory (http://www.fanac.org/fanzines/Irish_Fandom/) now has nearly 200 zines available with dozens more in the pipeline.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • November 20, 1929 – Jerry Hardin, 89, Actor famous for his character roles, whom genre fans know as the informant Deep Throat in The X-Files, or perhaps as Samuel Clemens in the Star Trek: The Next Generation double episode “Times’s Arrow”. Other TV series guest appearences include Star Trek: Voyager, Sliders, Brimstone, Time Trax, Lois & Clark, Quantum Leap, Dark Justice, Starman, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The (new) Twilight Zone, and The Incredible Hulk, and he had roles in Big Trouble in Little China and Doomsday Virus (aka Pandora’s Clock).
  • November 20, 1932 – Richard Dawson, Actor, Comedian, and Game Show Host. I debated including him, as he really had but one meaty genre performance – but oh, was it oh so great: in the Saturn-nominated film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Running Man, as the self-referential, egotistical and evil game-show host Damon Killian who came to a deservedly bad end; he won a Saturn Award for his dead-on performance. Other genre appearances include Munster, Go Home!, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and The Outer Limits. (Died 2012.)
  • November 20, 1923 – Len Moffatt, Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Member of First Fandom. He became an SFF fan in his teens, and was a founder of the Western Pennsylvania Science Fictioneers. He produced numerous fanzines over the years, and was deeply involved in several fan associations, including the National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F), for which he produced the Fan Directory. He and his wife June, who was also an ardent fan, organized many Bouchercons (mystery fandom conventions) and were recognized with that con’s Lifetime Achievement Award. A member of the LA Science Fantasy Society (LASFS) since 1946, he was honored with their Forry Award for Lifetime Achievement. The Moffatts were the TAFF delegates in 1973 to the UK Natcon, and Fan Guests of Honor at many conventions. (Died 2010.)
  • November 20, 1944 – Molly Gloss, 74, Writer and Teacher from the Pacific Northwest who is known for both science fiction and historical fiction. A close friend of Ursula K. Le Guin, many of her works touch on themes of feminism and gender. Her novel Wild Life won a Tiptree Award, her novelette “The Grinnell Method” won the Sturgeon Award, and her short story “Lambing Season” was a Hugo finalist.
  • November 20, 1963 – Ming-Na Wen, 55, Actor from Macau who is currently appearing as Agent Melinda May in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. She has also had main roles in the series Stargate Universe and the short-lived Vanished, and a recurring role in Eureka. Her breakthrough genre role was providing the voice for Disney’s Mulan, for which she won an Annie Award (awards which recognize voice actors in animated productions). This led to a lengthy career providing voices for animated features and series, including Spawn, The Batman, Adventure Time with Finn & Jake, Phineas and Ferb, Robot Chicken, and Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as a plethora of Mulan spinoffs, offshoots, tie-ins, and video games. Other genre appearances include the films The Darkness, Starquest (aka Terminal Voyage), Tempting Fate, and Rain Without Thunder.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) BOOK TWO. Camestros Felapton does a “Proper Review of the Consuming Fire”.

…There’s a lot of talking and plotting and counter-plotting that is important because this is supposed to be a world of plotting and counter-plotting. However, it feels inconsequential even at the time. Of course it is MEANT to be futile in the face of a systemic collapse of the hyperspace routes that hold the Empire together. Meanwhile, the story is plotting a new course and warming up its engines….

(10) IMPERIAL WALKER TOLD TO TAKE A HIKE. Some people just have no sensawunda. Officials in Devon have ordered a 14 foot replica of a Star Wars All-Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST) be taken away from its spot near the A38 (Hollywood Reporter: “Officials Order Englishman to Remove ‘Star Wars’ AT-ST Replica”).

The 14-foot homage will no longer be on display. […]

Star Wars fan living in the southeast county of Devon, England, has been ordered by the local government to remove a 14-foot-tall AT-ST replica that he hoped would bring attention to his town.

The monstrous attack vehicle, which sits near a road, was initially built by Dean Harvey for his children.

“The reason why I built it was a den for my daughters,” he told the BBC. “It’s all made of out [steel] and weighs about two-and-a-half tons.”

After his kids outgrew the AT-ST, he gave it to a man named Paul Parker, who is now being ordered to get rid of it.

(11) SPACE HAWAIIAN STYLE. The side of Mauna Loa have been the home, these past few years, of a Mars habitat simulation. Now, after a major glitch in the sim, it’s being repurposed as a Moon habitat simulation. (The Atlantic: “Hawaii’s Mars Simulations Are Turning Into Moon Missions”)

For the last five years, a small Mars colony thrived in Hawaii, many miles away from civilization.

The Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, or HI-SEAS, was carried out in a small white dome nestled along the slope of a massive volcano called Mauna Loa. The habitat usually housed six people at a time, for as long as eight months. […]
In February of this year, something went wrong. The latest and sixth mission was just four days in when one of the crew members was carried out on a stretcher and taken to a hospital, an Atlantic investigation revealed in June. There had been a power outage in the habitat, and some troubleshooting ended with one of the residents sustaining an electric shock. The rest of the crew was evacuated, too. There was some discussion of returning—the injured person was treated and released in the same day—but another crew member felt the conditions weren’t safe enough and decided to withdraw. The Mars simulation couldn’t continue with a crew as small as three, and the entire program was put on hold.

But the habitat on Mauna Loa was not abandoned. While officials at the University of Hawaii and NASA investigated the incident, the wealthy Dutch entrepreneur [Henk Rogers] who built the habitat was thinking about how the dome could be put to use.

[…] Under Rogers’s direction and funding, the HI-SEAS habitat will reopen this year—not as a Mars simulation, but a moon one.

(12) STAYIN’ ALIVE. “Elon Musk renames his BFR spacecraft Starship” Why? Your guess is as good as mine.

Elon Musk has changed the name of his forthcoming passenger spaceship from Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) to Starship.

The entrepreneur would not reveal why he had renamed the craft, which has not yet been built, but added its rocket booster will be called Super Heavy.

In September, Mr Musk’s SpaceX company announced that Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa had signed up to be the first passenger to travel on the ship.

The mission is planned for 2023 if the spaceship is built by that time.

It is the craft’s fourth name – it started out as Mars Colonial Transporter (MCT) and then became Interplanetary Transport System (ITS) before becoming BFR.

(13) SHARPER IMAGE. Japan is on the cutting edge of space technology: “A samurai swordsmith is designing a space probe”.

If you wanted to slice stuff up in space, what would you bring with you? ‘Samurai’ swords, which have been made in Japan for centuries, might be on your list because the tempered steel used in them is notoriously tough. There are plenty of videos online showing these Japanese swords, also called ‘katana’, cutting up everything from thick boards of wood to metal pipes.

Now, a trio of engineers have teamed up with a master Japanese swordsmith to design a rock-sampling device made with the same steel used in these blades – and the plan is to use it on an asteroid.

Japan’s Hayabusa missions have so far sent spacecraft, rovers and sampling tools to a one kilometre-wide asteroid called Ryugu, which orbits the sun between Earth and Mars. Hayabusa2’s rovers recently sent back stunning images of the asteroid’s black, rocky surface. But bringing fragments of Ryugu back to Earth is an enormously tricky task, which is why novel ideas are being suggested for how to do it

(14) SAY WHAT? Brenton Dickieson tells what a shock it is to go a lifetime assuming a word you’ve only seen in print would be pronounced a certain way – and then someone actually says it out loud another way… “C.S. Lewis’ ‘Dymer’… or is it Deemer? (or Can Someone from the Buffyverse be Wrong?)” (He has a lot more to say about the poem, of course.)

After five years of avoiding the book, I decided to reread Alister McGrath’s biography of Lewis. I am listening to it as an audiobook this time, and Robin Sachs pronounces Dymer as “Deemer.” It has shattered my vision of the entire piece. All along, I have been pronouncing Dymer as “Daimer,” so that “Dym” rhymes with “rhyme.” McGrath’s bio of Lewis is one of the last things that Sachs read in a long career of acting. Who am I to question someone who studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art? More than anything, Robin Sachs had a recurring role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Clearly, I must be wrong. After all, Robin Sachs is British. How could he be wrong?

(15) DOOMED TO GO BOOM. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A new article in Nature (caution, paywall: “Anisotropic winds in a Wolf–Rayet binary identify a potential gamma-ray burst progenitor”) about a pinwheel-shaped star system that may go boom in a big way has received a good bit of notice in the press. (CNN: “First-known ‘pinwheel’ star system is beautiful, dangerous and doomed”; Popular Mechanics: “Two Young Stars On a Death Spiral Are Acting Very Strangely”)

The close binary star system has the stars in a death spiral of sorts creating an image that in the infrared looks startlingly like a child’s toy pinwheel. This one, though, would be no fun at all to any being close enough to really experience it. The PM story explains:

The stars, located about 7,800 light years away, are in what’s called a Wolf-Rayet stage. That’s when massive stars begin to shed their hydrogen, burning certain elements in their atmosphere like carbon and nitrogen. A sort of nebula that forms around the stars makes them easy to spot.

But something peculiar is happening here: These two Wolf-Rayet stars are causing the nebula to move a bit like a pinwheel in interactions that are also producing gamma ray bursts—high energy events usually generated by massive objects like black holes. By finding a source of the particular kinds of gamma ray bursts produced in these stars, astronomers have a laboratory right in our backyard to test long duration gamma ray bursts.

The system was named Apep after the Egyptian deity of chaos, often depicted as a snake. One of the co-author of the study, Dr. Peter Tuthill (University of Sydney), is quoted in the CNN article as saying, “The curved tail is formed by the orbiting binary stars at the center, which inject dust into the expanding wind creating a pattern like a rotating lawn sprinkler. Because the wind expands so much, it inflates the tiny coils of dust revealing the physics of the stars at the heart of the system.” Another co-author, Benjamin Pope (New York University), was quoted as saying, “The only way we get such a system to work is if the Wolf-Rayet star is spewing out gas at several speeds. One way for such different winds to happen is via critical rotation. One of the stars in Apep is rotating so fast that it is nearly ripping itself apart. On its equator, the rotational forces make the gas basically weightless, so it slowly floats off the equator.”

(16) SERIES INTERRUPTUS. The following tweet struck me as a poorly constructed defense.

The cultural impact of George R.R. Martin’s series is huge. Of course its fans are invested in seeing it finished. “Entitlement” doesn’t enter into it. And despite being kindly intended, Naruto’s idea that attention should instead be paid to authors who do finish their series is identical to the logic Dave Freer and Richard Paolinelli used when they attacked Martin to gain attention for themselves.

Anyway, we all know Martin is perfectly capable of speaking for himself, as he has done in several recent interviews to publicize his new Westeros history book Fire and Blood.  Here’s what he told Entertainment Weekly

Before we go, here’s a standard question I missed asking you at the start: What excites you most about Fire and Blood?
The book is a lot of fun. The people who are open to reading an imaginary history and not a novel — which I realize is not everybody — have enjoyed it so far. But honestly, the single thing that excites me most is that I finished it. I know there are a lot of people out there who are very angry with me that Winds of Winter isn’t finished. And I’m mad about that myself. I wished I finished it four years ago. I wished it was finished now. But it’s not. And I’ve had dark nights of the soul where I’ve pounded my head against the keyboard and said, “God, will I ever finish this? The show is going further and further forward and I’m falling further and further behind. What the hell is happening here? I’ve got to do this.” I just got the [Fire and Blood] copy and, holding it in my hand, it’s a beautiful book. The illustrations by Doug Wheatley are great. It’s been a long while since I had a new Westeros book and nobody knows that as well as I do. I know that just as much as the angriest of my hardcore fans. And I have continued to publish other things. It’s not like I’ve been on a seven-year vacation. I have Wild Cards books coming out every six months. But not like this, one that’s entirely my writing. So to finish a book that I’m proud of and excited by was emotionally a big lift for me.

And an hour-long video “In Conversation: George R. R. Martin with John Hodgman” was posted today on YouTube.

George R. R. Martin talks with John Hodgman about his new book FIRE & BLOOD, the first volume in a two-part history of the Targaryens in Westeros. Filmed at the Loews Theater in Jersey City, NJ.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 10/3/18 I’ve Got Pixels To Scroll, And Pixels To LOL, And Pixels To Stir Up Yet More Strife

(1) CORDWAINER GENESIS. Ashley Stimpson and Jeffrey Irtenkauf trace the career of the man behind Cordwainer Smith in “Throngs of himself” for Johns Hopkins Magazine. “Paul Linebarger wrote science fiction as Cordwainer Smith. His multiple selves did not stop there.”

The notebook belonged to Paul Linebarger, who under his own name played many roles: U.S. Army colonel, CIA operative, psychological warfare expert, scholar of Asia, teacher, adviser to an American president. He was a husband twice and a father twice. His godfather was the first president of modern China, Sun Yat-sen. He may have been the central unhinged character in a famous psychiatric case study. But it was his science fiction—published as Cordwainer Smith—that gilds his legacy today.

Smith published about 30 short stories, all of which take place over a 14,000-year future history that Linebarger labored over in a lifetime of notebooks. Smith’s work is startling and violent, remembered for its originality and its weighty subject matter. In a letter to his agent, Linebarger explained that his stories “intended to lay bare the human mind, to throw torches over the underground lakes of the human soul, to show the chambers wherein the ageless dramas of self-respect, God, courage, sex, love, hope, envy, decency, and power go on forever.” Pulpy tales of little green men these were not.

(2) DISNEY’S STREAMING STAR WARS SERIES. When Disney’s new streaming service launches, here’s what one of its offerings will be: “Jon Favreau’s streaming ‘Star Wars’ series is ‘The Mandalorian'” at Engadget.

We still don’t know the name of Disney’s subscription streaming service, but we do have some details for a live-action Star Wars show that will appear on it. Jon Favreau announced on Instagram that The Mandalorian is set “after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order,” with a “lone gunfighter” emerging in the tradition of Jango and Boba Fett on the outer reaches of the galaxy.

 

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#starwars #TheMandalorian

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(3) SAVING GRACES. James Davis Nicoll admires “Women Who Save Themselves (and Everyone Else)” for reasons explained in his post for Tor.com.

… Having accepted the burden of her late father’s Letter of Marque, Bodacious Space Pirates’ Marika Kato balances the demands of school work with the challenges of commanding a privateer starship. Although years of peacetime has reduced privateering to a tourist attraction, from time to time Kato’s Bentenmaru finds itself in action, including the time Kato and friends set out to rescue Jenny Doolittle from an arranged marriage.

The single flaw in their plan was assuming that Jenny would wait to be rescued, rather than taking matters into her own hands….

(4) ARTIFICIAL CHICKEN INTELLIGENCE. In what the ad writers must think is a hilarious (non-) deception, Burger King’s latest commercials are written by Artificial Intelligence. Well, actually not (The Verge: “Burger King’s ‘AI-written’ ads show we’re still very confused about artificial intelligence”).

Each of Burger King’s new ads starts with an anachronistic burst of noise from a dial-up modem and a solemn warning: “This ad was created by artificial intelligence.” Then, over shots of glistening burgers and balletic fries, a robotic-sounding narrator deploys exactly the sort of clunky grammar and conceptual malapropisms we expect from a dumb AI.

…They’re good ads! And, of course, they’re lies. In a press release, Burger King claims the videos are the work of a “new deep learning algorithm,” but an article from AdAge makes it clear that humans — not machines — are responsible for the funnies. “Artificial intelligence is not a substitute for a great creative idea coming from a real person,” Burger King’s global head of brand marketing, Marcelo Pascoa, told the publication.

Here’s an example –

(5) PARTY CRASHERS. Olga Polomoshnova studies the consequences of “Feasts Interrupted” at Middle-Earth Reflections.

…Tolkien used socially important intrusions into realms, and thus their societies, in The Silmarillion, but his approach was different from Beowulf’s poet’s with an important detail: the most meaningful intrusions were one-time rather than continuous actions, and they took place during prominent feasts, thus increasing their social impact and significance manifold….

(6) CLARION 2019 FACULTY. The Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop faculty for 2019 will be — Carmen Maria Machado, Maurice Broaddus, Karen Lord, Andy Duncan, Ann VanderMeer, Jeff VanderMeer, and Shelley Streeby (Faculty Director).

Applications for the 2019 Workshop reopens December 1.

The Workshop runs June 23, 2019 – August 3, 2019.

(7) OVER THE MOON. Astronomers at Columbia University think they have evidence of the first moon orbiting an exoplanet (The Verge: “Astronomers may have discovered the first moon ever found outside our Solar System”).

A pair of astronomers believes they’ve found a moon orbiting a planet outside our Solar System — something that has never before been confirmed to exist. Though they aren’t totally certain of their discovery yet, the find opens up the possibility that more distant moons are out there. And that could change our understanding of how the Universe is structured.

The astronomy team from Columbia University found this distant satellite, known as an exomoon, using two of NASA’s space telescopes. They first spotted a signal from the object in data collected by the planet-hunting telescope Kepler, and then they followed up with the Hubble Space Telescope, which is in orbit around Earth. Thanks to the observations from these two spacecraft, the team suspect this moon orbits around a Jupiter-sized planet located about 4,000 light-years from Earth. And this planet, dubbed Kepler-1625b, orbits around a star similar to our Sun.

(8) SLOWING DOWN. Mary Robinette Kowal discusses her health and a reduction in her schedule: “On why I’m cancelling some events…”

…I’ve been on the road more than I’ve been home. I was in the middle of twenty days of travel and hand been home for a single day before that, with only three days at home at the end. I was leading a workshop of 150 students.

He stopped me and said, “You have to slow down.”

So, I am. We’re canceling some events and nothing else goes on my calendar for next year. Because the show doesn’t actually have to go on.

And to reassure you, we caught the shingles early so it stayed pretty mild. I got the anti-virals. Yes, I’ll do the vaccine when this is cleared up to stave off a recurrence. If you see me, please don’t hug me. I’m in the super-sensitive skin phase right now, which means contact with my back feels somewhere between a sunburn and a cheesegrater….

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 3, 1889 – William Elliott Dold, Jr., Artist. In the early years of SF right through the 70s, he did cover art for such magazines as Miracle Science and Fantasy Stories and Cosmic Stories. Between 1923 and 1975, he also contributed hundreds of interior art pieces to magazines and books, ranging from Harold Hersey’s poetry collection Night to work for the weekly British comic magazine 2000 A.D. I don’t see that his art has been collected yet.
  • Born October 3, 1927 – Donald R. Bensen, Writer and Editor. He is credited with a genre novel, And Having Writ…, which received an Honorable Mention for the Campbell Award, and created a couple of The Unknown anthologies for Pyramid Books, but his work as a consulting editor for Dell Books and The Dial Press from 1976 until 1981, where works by Spider and Jeanne Robinson, Gregory Benford, Joan Vinge and John Varley were published, is I think his true contribution to the genre. He also contributed editorially to Dell’s paperback science fiction and fantasy publications during those years.
  • Born October 3, 1931 – Ray Nelson, 87, Writer, Cartoonist, and Member of First Fandom who did many cartoons and articles for fanzines but is perhaps most known for his 1963 short story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” which was used by John Carpenter as the basis for the 1988 film They Live. He also co-authored The Ganymede Takeover with Philip K. Dick. Blake’s Progress, in which the poet William Blake is a time traveler, is claimed by Clute to be his best work. His novel The Prometheus Man received a Philip K. Dick Special Citation, and he was a finalist for the 1951 Retro Hugo for Best Fan Artist in 2001, and the winner of the Rotsler Award in 2003. He is credited with the invention of the infamous SF fan propeller beanie.
  • Born October 3, 1944 – Katharine Kerr, 74, Writer best known for the 15 novels in her Deverry Cycle, and recipient of World Fantasy and BSFA Award nominations. Author of many series including Westlands, Dragon Mage and the Silver Wyrm. I’d be remiss not to note her Urban Fantasy series entitled Nola O’Grady which is a great deal of fun and which leads off with, I kid you not, License to Ensorcell. She’s done a number of essays, including one with the intriguing title of “The Hedgehog’s Lair”.
  • Born October 3, 1950 – Pamela Hensley, 68, Actor who played Princess Ardala in the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century movie and TV series, starred in the original Rollerball movie, and had guest roles in several episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man.
  • Born October 3, 1964 – Clive Owen, Actor from England who starred in the Oscar- and Hugo-nominated Children of Men, the not-so-acclaimed Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Sin City, and the upcoming time travel movie Gemini Man.
  • Born October 3, 1967 – Denis Villeneuve, 51, French-Canadian Writer and Director who turned Ted Chiang’s short “The Story of Your Life” into the Oscar- and Hugo-winning film Arrival, garnered more Oscar wins and a Hugo nomination with the sequel Blade Runner 2049, and is currently working on a remake of Frank Herbert’s Dune.
  • Born October 3, 1973 – Lena Headey, 45, British Actor and Producer who is well-known to genre fans as Cersei Lannister in the Hugo-winning series Game of Thrones. She also played the titular character in the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles TV series, and had roles in The Brothers Grimm, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the 300 movies, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box, and one of JJ’s favorite so-bad-it’s-good horror films about subterranean scuba diving, The Cave.
  • Born October 3, 1975 – Jason Erik Lundberg, 43, Writer and Editor. He’s published several collections of his own short stories, edited several anthologies, and has edited Lontar: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction for the last 5 years. Writer of such critical essays as “The Old Switcheroo: A Study in Neil Gaiman’s Use of Character Reversal” and “Embedded Narrative in the Fiction of Kelly Link”; he also wrote the nonfiction work Embracing the Strange: The Transformative Impact of Speculative Fiction.
  • Born October 3, 1978 – Shannyn Sossamon, 40, Actor in the TV series Sleepy Hollow, Wayward Pines, Moonlight, and genre films One Missed Call, Catacombs, and Ghost Light.
  • Born October 3, 1983 – Tessa Thompson, 35, Actor, Singer, and Producer. She had an early guest role in 3 episodes of Heroes, and has played main roles in Thor: Ragnarok, Annihilation, and the TV series Westworld. She co-starred in Janelle Monáe’s 49-minute genre musical film Dirty Computer.
  • Born October 3, 1986 – Joonas Suotamo, 32, Actor from Finland who has played Chewbacca in the newest Star Wars trilogy and associated videogames.
  • Born October 3, 1988 – Alicia Vikander, 30, Swedish Actor and Producer who starred in Ex Machina, Seventh Son, and the newly-rebooted The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Tomb Raider films, as well as providing a character voice for Moomins and the Winter Wonderland.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Yoda’s SJW credential makes a confession: Half Full.

(11) EXOMOON. Yahoo! News reports “In a surprise, first alien moon discovered is big and gaseous”. (Wait a minute, didn’t I already report this item?)

Astronomers have pinpointed what appears to be the first moon detected outside our solar system, a large gaseous world the size of Neptune that is unlike any other known moon and orbits a gas planet much more massive than Jupiter.

The discovery, detailed by researchers on Wednesday, was a surprise, and not because it showed that moons exist elsewhere – they felt it was only a matter of time for one to be found in another star system. They were amazed instead by how different this moon was from the roughly 180 known in our solar system.

“It’s big and weird by solar system standards,” Columbia University astronomy professor David Kipping said of the moon, known as an exomoon because it is outside our solar system.

(12) ARPANET. Slate dubs it “The Very First Social Network”. And I think it’s entirely likely someone reading this blog is acquainted with whoever started this….

That is, until 1979.
That fall, [Vint] Cerf logged on to his workstation to find an unopened message from the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. It had been sent over the network using the recently developed “electronic mail” system. Because more than one person was using each computer on the network, the scientists had conceived of “e-mail” (now commonly styled email) so they could share information directly from one person to another, rather than just between computers. As with regular mail, they realized they needed a system of addresses to send and receive the messages. Thus the @ symbol was born: It served to separate the mailbox identifier from the serving host, and the single character saved typing time and scarce computer memory, an early version of what one might think of as a “hack.”
But the message sent to Cerf’s email wasn’t a technical request. And it hadn’t been sent just to him. Instead, an email with the subject line “SF-LOVERS” had been sent to Cerf and his colleagues scattered across the United States. The message asked all of them to respond with a list of their favorite science fiction authors. Because the message had gone out to the entire network, everybody’s answers could then be seen and responded to by everybody else. Users could also choose to send their replies to just one person or a subgroup, generating scores of smaller discussions that eventually fed back into the whole.
About 40 years later, Cerf still recalls this as the moment he realized that the internet would be something more than every other communications technology before it. “It was clear we had a social medium on our hands,” he said.

(13) IN ACTION. “Nobel Prize In Chemistry Honors Work That Demonstrates ‘The Power Of Evolution'” – “If I read the tables in Wikipedia correctly,” says Chip Hitchcock, “this is the first year that women have gotten even a piece of two of the three tech Nobels.”

American Frances H. Arnold has won half of the 2018 Nobel Prize in chemistry for her work in changing how chemists produce new enzymes, sharing the prize with another American, George Smith, and Sir Gregory Winter of the U.K. for research that has led to new pharmaceuticals and cancer treatments.

“This year’s prize is about harnessing the power of evolution,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in announcing the winners. This year’s laureates have “re-created the process in their test tubes … and make evolution many times faster.”

Arnold is only the fifth woman to win the prize in its 117-year history. She conducted the first directed evolution of enzymes, which are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. Enzymes produced through “directed evolution” in laboratory settings are used to manufacture everything from renewable fuels to pharmaceuticals.

(14) ACROBOTIC. “Hayabusa 2: German-led lander drops to asteroid’s surface” — this one flips instead of bouncing like the Japanese-built rovers.

Japan’s space agency (Jaxa) has put another lander on the surface of asteroid 162173, or Ryugu.

The Hayabusa-2 probe ejected the German-French Mascot “rover” on Wednesday for its 20-minute journey down to the space rock.

Contact was confirmed in the early hours, Central European Summer Time.

Mascot is designed to move across the surface of Ryugu and analyse its surface properties, including its mineral composition and magnetic field.

… Mascot has a swing arm inside to generate a torque that will throw the lander to a new location.

(15) TAGGERS REJOICE. Another thing sff failed to predict — “Disney ‘graffiti drone’ tags walls”.

Disney is known for its clean and tidy theme parks so it may come as a surprise to see it has developed a graffiti-spraying drone.

Its research and development division has been working on a drone equipped with a spray-paint gun that can tag walls and even paint 3D objects.

The researchers hope the idea will result in drones that can paint walls quickly and accurately.

(16) CHOOSE-YOUR-OWN BLACK MIRROR. “Netflix Is Planning a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure ‘Black Mirror’”. Bloomberg has the story.

Netflix Inc. is about to let you decide how your favorite show will end.

The streaming service is developing a slate of specials that will let viewers choose the next storyline in a TV episode or movie, according to people familiar with the matter. The company expects to release the first of these projects before the end of this year, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are still private.

Viewers will get to choose their own storylines in one episode of the upcoming season of “Black Mirror,” the Emmy-winning science-fiction anthology series. The show is famous for exploring the social implications of technology, including an episode where humans jockey to receive higher ratings from their peers. The fifth season of the show is expected to be released in December.

(17) PLANET NINE FROM OUTER SPACE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A newly discovered minor planet—nicknamed the Goblin—is one of only three known minor planets in certain extremely distant, highly elliptical orbits… and in some ways it’s the most extreme of the bunch (Smithsonian: “New Discovery Stirs Up Signs of the Elusive Planet 9”).

The new object, officially called 2015 TG387, orbits with a special class of celestial bodies known as Inner Oort Cloud objects, or extreme trans-Neptunian objects (ETNOs). The body of rock and ice, nicknamed “the Goblin” by the discovery team, is currently about 80 astronomical units (AU) from the sun, or about twice as far as Pluto’s average distance. However, the Goblin travels on a highly elongated orbit that takes it to the extreme outermost reaches of our solar system, looping out as far as 2,300 AU during its 40,000-year journey around the sun.

Like the other two objects in the class (Sedna and 2012 VP113), it does not come close enough to the outer planets to really be influenced by Jupiter and its lesser kin. But, if the mooted Planet 9 (aka Planet X) exists and is as massive as some astronomers believe, it could be an influence.

When considered together, these three objects start to produce a tantalizing picture of their distant realm. They are decoupled from the rest of the solar system, immune to its influence, and yet they all appear in the same part of the sky.

Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, who was on the team that discovered the Goblin, believes in Planet 9. Mostly. Others are more convinced.

How likely the existence of an undiscovered massive planet is, slowly circling the sun every tens of thousands of years at extreme distances, depends on who you ask. For his part, Sheppard, who has discovered dozens of minor planets, comets and moons, would place the odds of Planet 9 existing at about 80 or 85 percent—and he’s not even the most optimistic.

“My confidence is about 99.84 percent,” says Konstantin Batygin, a planetary astrophysicist and assistant professor at the California Institute of Technology. Batygin creates theoretical models of the outer solar system to search for hints of Planet 9, crunching the numbers on numerous minor planets that cluster into various groups and the influences of dozens of orbital factors. His 2016 paper with Caltech colleague Michael Brown laid out perhaps the strongest case for Planet 9 yet, concluding that there was only a fraction of one percent probability that the groupings of these objects occurred randomly.

Not everyone is convinced, of course, even those on the Goblin team/

“[…] There are conflicting lines of evidence,” says David Tholen, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii who was part of the team that discovered the Goblin. He points to the Cassini spacecraft, which orbited Saturn for more than 13 years, measuring the dynamics and forces of the outer solar system. “That serves as a very sensitive detector of other things out there, and the analysis of that data suggests that we don’t see any evidence for [Planet 9].”

Are there more objects like Goblin (and Sedna and 2012 VP113) out there? Well, if they aren’t near their closest approach to the Sun we probably couldn’t find them.

The only reason we have been able to find smaller distant objects like the Goblin is because they are near their closest approach, visible for just an instant of stellar time before they sling back out into the shadows.

“Ninety-nine percent of their orbit, we would not find them,” Sheppard says. “So, we just find the tip of the iceberg.”

And, if Planet 9 exists it may well be too far out and too dim for us to see.

If the minor planets are in a gravitational dance with Planet 9, however, it could mean that the big planet is far, far away—near the aphelion of its orbit roughly 1,000 AU from the sun. We have only a rough idea of Planet 9’s size—between two and four times that of Earth, if it exists—and no way to determine its how much light it reflects, which makes it incredibly difficult to search for.

(18) GIRL IN A LAKE DISTRIBUTING SWORDS. Courtesy of Hampus Eckerman, translated from the Swedish newspaper Sydsvenskan, October 2. Headline: “Eight-year-old took a bath – found iron age sword.”

An eight-year-old girl made an unexpected find when she bathed this summer. A bit out into the water, she trampled on what proved to be an unusually well-preserved iron age sword.

“I thought, ok, so a sword, it could be anything, but then I got the pictures and then I got goose bumps,” says Archeologist Annie Rosén to TT [Newspapers Telegram Service].

The girl’s family contacted Annie Rosén at Jönköping County Museum. She found that the sword was surprisingly well-preserved with, among other things, a sheath in wood and leather. That so much organic material is preserved is very rare.

– It’s 1,000 years, maybe up to 1,500 years old. At the same place we found a dress ornament dating back to the 300’s or 400’s, says Annie Rosén.

The girl, aptly named Saga, found the sword at a half-meter depth at the bathing area in Lake Vidöstern, south of Värnamo, which SVT News Jönköping was the first to report.

…The sword is still at the conservator and they have as yet not been able to make a proper age determination. How it got into the lake is unknown to the archaeologists. It could be graves that eroded into the lake, sacrifices in water or that someone simply lost it. There are no known settlements nearby, but archaeologists are now looking for more objects in the lake.

“It would be cool to find something more that’s from the 4th century,” says Annie Rosén.”

(19) USE THE DELOREAN LUKE. Movieweb spots an “Amazing Empire Strikes Back to the Future Mashup Shared by Mark Hamill”.

The worlds of Star Wars and Back to the Future collide in a new mashup photo that Mark Hamill posted on social media, which he calls The Empire Strikes Back to the Future. Hamill uses social media often to engage with fans, and he’s pretty good at it. The Luke Skywalker actor often takes time out of his day to share things that he deems important or humorous, and even answers the burning questions of hardcore Star Wars fans pretty often.

View this post on Instagram

#EmpireStrikesBackToTheFuture (#RetroRerun)

A post shared by Mark Hamill (@hamillhimself) on

[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael J. Walsh, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Susan de Guardiola, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 1/17/18 You’re A Little Short For A Pixel Scroll, Aren’t You?

(1) STRACZYNSKI MEMOIR COMING. Harper Voyager US has acquired the imprint’s first memoir, written by J. Michael Straczynski. The book will be published in 2019.

Straczynski is one of the most successful writers of comics, TV, graphic novels, and movies in modern pop culture, and has emerged as one of the most respected voices in science fiction today, selling millions of comics, winning dozens of awards and working with such luminaries as Clint Eastwood, Angelina Jolie and Kenneth Branagh. He is famed for his work on the recent Netflix hit Sense8, his work on Babylon 5, Changeling, World War Z, Thor, and a seven-year stint on The Amazing Spider-Man. But despite forty years of twelve-hour writing days, there’s one story Straczynski could never tell: his own. This memoir chronicles the author’s struggle growing up surrounded by poverty, violence, alcoholism and domestic abuse. The result is an inspiring account of how he wrote his way out of some of the most harrowing conditions.

(2) COINCIDENTAL PROPHET. Henry Farrell takes the measure of the author and this age in “Philip K. Dick and the Fake Humans” at Boston Review.

Standard utopias and standard dystopias are each perfect after their own particular fashion. We live somewhere queasier—a world in which technology is developing in ways that make it increasingly hard to distinguish human beings from artificial things. The world that the Internet and social media have created is less a system than an ecology, a proliferation of unexpected niches, and entities created and adapted to exploit them in deceptive ways. Vast commercial architectures are being colonized by quasi-autonomous parasites. Scammers have built algorithms to write fake books from scratch to sell on Amazon, compiling and modifying text from other books and online sources such as Wikipedia, to fool buyers or to take advantage of loopholes in Amazon’s compensation structure. Much of the world’s financial system is made out of bots—automated systems designed to continually probe markets for fleeting arbitrage opportunities. Less sophisticated programs plague online commerce systems such as eBay and Amazon, occasionally with extraordinary consequences, as when two warring bots bid the price of a biology book up to $23,698,655.93 (plus $3.99 shipping).

In other words, we live in Philip K. Dick’s future, not George Orwell’s or Aldous Huxley’s. Dick was no better a prophet of technology than any science fiction writer, and was arguably worse than most. His imagined worlds jam together odd bits of fifties’ and sixties’ California with rocket ships, drugs, and social speculation. Dick usually wrote in a hurry and for money, and sometimes under the influence of drugs or a recent and urgent personal religious revelation.

Still, what he captured with genius was the ontological unease of a world in which the human and the abhuman, the real and the fake, blur together.

(3) BLACK LIGHTNING. The Hollywood Reporter’s Daniel Flenberg praised the new series: “‘Black Lightning’: TV Review”.

It could be argued that what The CW needs least is another superhero show, much less another murky superhero show.

The pleasant surprise, then, is that Black Lightning, based on yet another DC Comics property, is smart and relevant and full of an attitude that’s all its own. It takes its characters and their world seriously, but thus far doesn’t take itself too seriously. And, best of all, it’s ostensibly entirely separate from Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, Arrow and Supergirl, so the risk of time-consuming crossovers or key plot points delivered on a different show is currently nil.

(4) NINE IS TEN. This month io9 is celebrating its 10th anniversary, too. io9 and the File 770 blog started the same month and it’s easy to see which got the most mileage out of that decade. Congratulations io9! Here’s a video made by the founding alumni —  

(5) STARVING IN THE CITY OF THE FUTURE. Slate has published Charlie Jane Anders’ story of future hunger: “The Minnesota Diet”. The future isn’t that far away.

This short story was commissioned and edited jointly by Future Tense and ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination. Each month in 2018, Future Tense Fiction—a series of short stories from Future Tense and CSI about how technology and science will change our lives—will publish a story on a new theme. The theme for January–March 2018: Home.

North American Transit Route No. 7 carves a path between tree silhouettes like wraiths, through blanched fields that yawn with the furrows of long-ago crops. Weaving in and out of the ancient routes of Interstates 29 and 35, this new highway has no need for rest stops or attempts to beautify the roadside, because none of the vehicles have a driver or any passengers. The trucks race from north to south, at speeds that would cause any human driver to fly off the road at the first curve. The sun goes down and they keep racing, with only a few thin beams to watch for obstacles. They don’t need to see the road to stay on the road. The trucks seem to hum to one another, tiny variations in their engine sounds making a kind of atonal music. Seen from above, they might look like the herds of mustangs that used to run across this same land, long ago….

(6) POLL. Uncanny Magazine has opened voting for readers to pick their three favorite original short stories from the works they published last year — “Uncanny Celebrates Reader Favorites of 2017”.

We’ve set up a poll for Uncanny readers to vote for their top three favorite original short stories from 2017. (You can find links to all of the stories here.)

The poll will be open from January 17 to February 7, after which we’ll announce the results. We’re excited for you to share which Uncanny stories made you feel!

snazzy certificate will be given to the creator whose work comes out on top of  the poll!

So please spread the word! And don’t forget, EVERY VOTE COUNTS!

(7) GENRE DESTRUCTION. Also, Uncanny is taking submissions to a special issue through February 15 — “Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction Guidelines”

We welcome submission from writers who identify themselves as disabled. Identity is what matters for this issue. What kinds of disabilities? All of them. Invisible and visible. Physical disabilities, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, mental health disabilities, and neurodiversity.

Yes, even if your disability is a recently acquired one.

Yes, even if your disability is static, or if it isn’t.

Yes, even if you’ve had your disability since birth.

Yes, even if you use adaptive devices only SOME of the time.

Yes, you.

Reading Elsa’s essay “Disabled Enough” from our Kickstarter may help if you have any doubts.

So, if you identify as disabled across any of these definitions or others, we want to hear from you!

(8) LONELINESS OF THE LONG-DISTANCE WORDSMITH. L. Ron Hubbard couldn’t do it. andrew j. offutt couldn’t do it. So it’s up to Matthew Plunkett to tell you “How to Write 100,000 Words Per Day, Every Day” (from McSweeney’s.)

Relationships

My first blog post appeared online in 2008 when I explained how I attained my top ranking on a popular worldwide online game. Since then, I haven’t stopped writing. If you’re wondering whether this level of output will hinder your relationships with friends and lovers, let me set you straight. Life is about decisions. Either you write 100,000 words a day or you meet people and develop ties of affection. You can’t do both.

(9) GENTLER PACE. Concatenation has posted its “Newscast for the Spring 2018” – an aggregation of sff and pop cuture news issued at a not-quite-quarterly rate.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 17, 1982 – The Ray Bradbury-penned The Electric Grandmother premiered on television.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY DARTH

  • Born January 17, 1931 – James Earl Jones

(12) BIAS AT WORK. Sarah Hollowell, who calls her blog “Sarah Hollowell, Fat Writer Girl and Her Fat Words”, was not added to the Midwest Writers Workshop’s organizational committee after her appearance was made an issue.

A week ago The Guardian covered the initial stages of the story in “Roxane Gay calls out writing group for ‘fatphobic’ treatment of Sarah Hollowell”.

An American writers’ workshop that has counted Joyce Carol Oates, Jeffrey Deaver and Clive Cussler among its faculty has been called out by Roxane Gay for “fatphobia”, after a writer’s appearance was criticised during a vote to give her a public-facing role.

Gay, who has herself been on the faculty for the Midwest Writers Workshop (MWW), turned to Twitter on Tuesday to lay out how the workshop’s organisers treated the writer Sarah Hollowell. According to Gay, Hollowell has worked for MWW for five years, and was voted to be on its organisational committee. But when her appointment was being discussed, “someone said ‘do we really want someone like her representing us?’ That person elaborated ‘someone so fat. It’s disgusting’,” claimed Gay.

Gay, the author of essay collection Bad Feminist and the memoir Hunger, said that only two people in the room defended Hollowell, and that the author was not then brought on to the committee. “This is unacceptable. And cruel. And cowardly, Midwest Writers Workshop. And you thought you could get away with it. You very nearly did,” wrote Gay, calling on the workshop to issue a “public and genuine” apology to Hollowell, and forbidding it to use her name as a past faculty member in its promotional materials again. “I’m too fat and disgusting to be associated with you,” she wrote.

Hollowell herself said that “there are a lot of good people” at the MWW, but that “I have been hurt in a very real way and I don’t think it should be hidden”.

The workshop subsequently issued an apology to Hollowell on Wednesday, in which its director Jama Kehoe Bigger said: “We screwed up.”

The apology and offers to attempt to “make it right” have not panned out. Instead, here’s what’s happening —

Hollowell responded with a full thread, which includes these tweets —

(13) NOW YOU SEE IT. Nothing magical about this disappearing act — “Rare first edition Harry Potter worth £40,000 stolen”.

A hardback first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone worth about £40,000 was one of a number of rare books stolen during a burglary.

The book, J.K Rowling’s maiden novel of the globally successful series, was stolen from SN Books in Thetford, Norfolk, between 8 and 9 January….

The Harry Potter book was made even more “unique” by being in a custom red box, the force added.

(14) TRAIN TRICKS. The BBC reports a “Japanese train barks like a dog to prevent accidents” — it scares away deer who lick the tracks to get iron.

Tokyo’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper reports that the combination of sounds is designed to scare deer away from the tracks in a bid to reduce the number of animal deaths on the railway.

Officials from the Railway Technical Research Institute (RTRI) say that a three-second blast of the sound of a deer snorting attracts the animals’ attention, and 20 seconds of dog barking is enough to make them take flight.

(15) EVEN IF YOU DO EVERYTHING RIGHT. An interesting thread by Alex Acks who argues that maybe it’s not a conspiracy….

(16) WHAT DOESN’T PAY. And Shaun Duke has his own argument against the conspiracy theory.

(17) FILL ‘ER UP. This sounds like the beginning of a nice 1950s sf story —  “UK firm contracts to service satellites”.

Effective Space says its two servicing “Space Drones” will be built using manufacturing expertise in the UK and from across the rest of Europe.

The pair, which will each be sized about the same as a washing machine and weigh less than 400kg, are expected to launch on the same rocket sometime in 2020.

Once in orbit, they will separate and attach themselves to the two different geostationary telecommunications satellites that are almost out of fuel.

 

(18) HIRSUTE. Chip Hitchcock says, “As the proud possessor of a handle bar mustache, I’m pleased to see ’Moustached monkey is separate species’.”

A monkey from Ethiopia and Sudan with a “handlebar moustache” has been identified as a distinct species.

Scientists took a fresh look at the distribution and physical appearance of patas monkeys in Ethiopia, confirming there were two species rather than one.

It was originally described as a separate species in 1862, but was later folded in – incorrectly – with other patas monkeys to form a single species.

(19) WHEN THE BOOKS WERE WRITTEN. Brenton Dickieson has published an epic tool for scholars – “My Cheat Sheet of C.S. Lewis’ Writing Schedule” — at A Pilgrim in Narnia.

For those who study authors of the past, you will soon discover that the publication lists and bibliography of an author are not always terribly helpful. After all, writing, editing, and publishing a book are stages that can each take years. Knowing something is published in 1822 or 1946 tells us little about the writing process. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien each had books that took nearly two decades to write….

Over the last five years, then, I have developed a habit of speaking about when C.S. Lewis or one of the Inklings wrote a book, rather than when they published it. I haven’t been perfectly consistent with this on the blog, but have generally put the writing period in brackets rather than the publication date.

To do this, I discovered that I was slowly building myself a cheat sheet to help me remember when Lewis was writing a book so that I can connect it with what was going on at the time. The cheat sheet includes completed books and incomplete fragments of what would have been a book. I’ve decided to share this cheat sheet with those of you who are interested. This might save you time or inspire you to make connections between Lewis’ work and his life patterns. And, perversely, I’m hoping to draw more people into the project of reading Lewis chronologically, and have provided resources here, here, and here.

(20) HYPERBOREAN AGE. Black Gate’s Doug Ellis says it’s “Time to Revise Your Lin Carter Biography”, though “bibliography” may be the intended word. Either way — Ellis tells about a 1967 fanzine, The Brythunian Prints, published by some Toledo fans.

The most interesting content is two pages of poetry by Lin Carter, under the general heading “War Songs and Battle Cries,” apparently reprinted with Carter’s permission from The Wizard of Lemuria and Thongor of Lemuria. The remaining content is taken up with editorials, limericks by John Boardman (four of which were reprinted from Amra) and a book review of The Fantastic Swordsmen edited by de Camp. The back cover is Tolkien related, as it pictures “Baggins and Trinket” (the Ring).

(21) MORE PAST FUTURES. Let MovieWeb tell you “10 Back to the Future Facts You Never Knew”.

THE POTENTIAL DOC BROWNS

Christopher Lloyd, part of the ensemble of the TV series Taxi which ran from 1978 till 1983, seems irreplaceable as Doctor Emmett Brown in the minds and hearts of fans around the world. But before he landed the role, some other big names were considered for the part, including John Lithgow, Dudley Moore, and Jeff Goldblum. Imagine those memes!

[Thanks to Mark Hepworth, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Will R., Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Pixel Scroll 1/1/18 Scrolled Lang Syne

By JJ:

(1) MORE DESTRUCTION AHEAD.  Uncanny Magazine has announced that the special Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction issue will be open for submissions soon:

Reading period: January 15th, 2018 to February 15th, 2018. Please do not submit anything until January 15th. Emails containing submissions will be deleted. (Uncanny Magazine uses the Moksha submission system.)

Who can submit:

We welcome submission from writers who identify themselves as disabled. Identity is what matters for this issue. What kinds of disabilities? All of them. Invisible and visible. Physical disabilities, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, mental health disabilities, and neurodiversity.

Yes, even if your disability is a recently acquired one.

Yes, even if your disability is static, or if it isn’t.

Yes, even if you’ve had your disability since birth.

Yes, even if you use adaptive devices only SOME of the time.

Yes, you.

Reading Elsa’s essay “Disabled Enough” from our Kickstarter may help if you have any doubts.

So, if you identify as disabled across any of these definitions or others, we want to hear from you!

More submission details are located at the linked page; be sure to read them thoroughly and adhere to them when submitting.

(2) SUPERMOON TONIGHT.  January 1 is the second of a trio of supermoons within a 2-month period. EarthSky reports:

The first of two January 2018 full moons falls on the evening of January 1, 2018, for most of the Western Hemisphere (January 2 for the Eastern Hemisphere). This full moon comes only 4.5 hours after the moon reaches lunar perigee – the moon’s closest point to Earth in its monthly orbit. Thus this full moon presents the closest – and thereby the largest and brightest – supermoon of 2018.

Join the Virtual Telescope Project in Rome for an online viewing of the January 1, 2018 supermoon.

Additional details for optimal viewing are available at the link.

(3) ONE PARTY IS NOT ENOUGH.  The six astronauts aboard the ISS (International Space Station), who orbit Earth every 90 minutes, got to ring in the new year 16 times and see 16 sunrises and sunsets from 250 miles above Earth. ISS crewmembers Joe Acaba, Scott Tingle, Norishige Kanai, and Mark Vande Hei shared some of their favorite memories of ringing in a new year in a video:

NASA astronauts Barry Wilmore and Terry Virts also wished the people of Earth a Happy New Year in a video recorded from their post on the ISS. Watch it here on Space.com.

(4) WITH A HEART REINDEER.  Research scientist Janelle Shane created a neural network and fed it a database of ancient and modern Christmas Carols created by the Times of London with reader/neural net hobbyist Erik Svensson. Dr. Shane explains how the neural network teaches itself based on the examples it’s been given, and shares some of the results:

With a heart reindeer
But no more a stranger.
Santa baby, and Dancer, and Curry down

Happy Holiday
When the snowflakes will call the world wakes to bring
Glory bears and asses the air the angels sang
And Christmas tree

For some reason, the Sandman figures very prominently in the neural net’s Christmas mythology, despite having been mentioned in the dataset only once. Sometimes the neural net latches on to particular words for no reason I can see. Maybe it’s a Neil Gaiman fan.

The sandman bright before Him.
The holly bears a berry bears
And star in the snow is born today!

More examples appear at the link, and Shane invites readers who wish to see the, er… more risqué results to sign up to receive them.

(5) BOB YOU GET A SINGLE BLESSING ONLY.  And Botnik Studios revealed the results of their holiday newsletter predictive algorithm:

(a higher-res version can be read here)

(6) PARTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF CATNIP.  Here’s what happens when you work for a TV station and you wear your ugly holiday sweater to work – your SJW Credentials take up meteorology reporting:

(7) LONG CAR TRIPS MUST BE FUN.  Professional photographer Josh Rossi shared his family holiday card:

(8) SJW CREDENTIALS HAVE STAFF.  We know who’s in charge here, and it’s not Mr. and Mrs. Scalzi.

Scalzi provides a different shot and the background for the installation in a blog post.

(9) PASSING THE TORCH SONIC SCREWDRIVER.  Past Worldcon chair Dave McCarty talks about the fannish Christmas gift he received in a Facebook post:

I sat my daughter down on my lap and explained to her about a TV show that I have loved since I wasn’t much older than she is right now.

I told her about Time Lords and Gallifrey and regeneration and time travel and companions and Cybermen and Daleks and the T.A.R.D.I.S.

I explained who The Doctor is and who he has been and how he always tries to help the people he finds.

I asked her if she’d like to watch the show with me tonight…

You’ll want to read the entire post.

(10) FORMULA FOR HAPPY HOLIDAYS.  Muslim author and educator Qasim Rashid shares his holiday greetings:

(11) SWATTING RESULTS IN TRAGIC DEATH.  On December 28, 28-year-old Andrew “Andy” Finch was killed when police officers in Wichita, Kansas responded to a 911 call about a hostage/murder situation, the Wichita Eagle reported.

On Twitter, more than a dozen people who identified themselves as being in the gaming community told The Eagle that a feud between two Call of Duty players sparked one to initiate a “swatting” call.

After news began to spread about what happened Thursday night, the people in the gaming community, through Twitter posts, pointed at two gamers.

“I DIDNT GET ANYONE KILLED BECAUSE I DIDNT DISCHARGE A WEAPON AND BEING A SWAT MEMBER ISNT MY PROFESSION,” said one gamer, who others said made the swatting call. His account was suspended overnight.

According to posts on Twitter, two gamers were arguing when one threatened to target the other with a swatting call. The person who was the target of the swatting gave the other gamer a false address, which sent police to a nearby home instead of his own, according to Twitter posts.

The FBI has confirmed to Wichita station KWCH’s Eyewitness News that they are assisting Wichita Police and Los Angeles Police in the investigation.

The Los Angeles Police Department confirms it’s arrested 25-year-old Tyler Barriss, of Los Angeles, in connection with Thursday night’s deadly “swatting” call in Wichita.

The LAPD says Barriss was arrested Friday afternoon.

Information from the City of Glendale, Calif. shows that in October 2015, Barriss was arrested in connection with making a bomb threat to ABC Studios in Glendale…

Attorney Charley O’Hara says there will probably be federal charges for the man accused of “swatting,” as well as state charges, because the FBI helped with the arrest.

O’Hara says smilar charges would include terrorist threat or threats to places or events like schools or concerts.

He says there are a lot of aspects to the case, both with the man who made the prank call and with the officer who fired the fatal shot.

“The person that made that call and made that report was obviously wrong, but also, we need to question if good judgement was used when they responded to that call,” O’Hara says. “Was that the correct way that we want our police officers or our law enforcement or the protectors of all of our safety to respond to situations like this?”

(12) STILL NOT FUNNY.   Business Insider, investigating the results of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, reveals that no charges were filed in the Gamergate investigation, despite FBI agents obtaining numerous confessions of death threats. Their exposé includes background on Gamergate, as well as redacted versions of investigation summaries.

The day before Halloween, FBI agents showed up at the home of a Massachusetts man linked to dozens of rape, bomb, and death threats targeting women involved in the video game scene. They believed he was a supporter of Gamergate, the militant online movement that wants to end feminist criticism of video games.

The man, whose name was kept confidential by the FBI, confessed: He told the agents that he was a “tech guy,” a qualified A++ coder, who played video games a lot and lived with his parents, according to a set of documents the FBI released on its investigation into Gamergate.

He told the agents that he hung out on 4chan, the notorious online image-posting board that – according to the FBI documents – has a history of hosting child pornography. He admitted that he had mocked the women who were targets of Gamergate threats on 4chan, calling one of them “a professional victim who exaggerated the threats.”

Then the agents showed him one of those threatening emails. The man said he had created a new email account specifically for the purpose of sending threats to Gamergate targets. He “admitted to sending the threatening email,” the FBI wrote in its report, and he “understood the email ‘looked really bad.'” Crucially, he also confessed that he knew it was a crime: The man “understood that it was a federal crime to send a threatening communication to anyone and will never do it again,” the FBI wrote.

Yet despite all that – an email trail, a confession, and an admission from the suspect that he knew he was breaking the law – the FBI let him go after the suspect said it was a “joke”.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

  • Born January 1, 1922 – Jerry Robinson, Comics Illustrator (creator of Batman’s Robin)
  • Born January 1, 1938 – Frank Langella, Actor (star of 1979’s Dracula)
  • Born January 1, 1957 – Madolyn Smith Osborne, Actor (Caroline Floyd in 2010: The Year We Make Contact)
  • Born January 1, 1968 – Mark Lawrence, Author (The Broken Empire and The Red Queen’s War trilogies)
  • Born January 1, 1970 – Gabriel Jarret, Actor (Mitch Taylor in Real Genius)
  • Born January 1, 1972 – Catherine McCormack, Actor (Dr. Sonia Rand in A Sound of Thunder)

(14) GLORIOUS REFRACTION.  Brent Mckean, a photographer specializing in astrophotography, captured an amazing photo in Eastern Manitoba, Canada:

On Facebook he explains:

Several people with meteorological knowledge have advised that the atmospheric phenomena captured here are: a circumzenithal arc, a supralateral arc, an upper tangent arc (relatively rare), a 46 degree halo (pretty rare), a Parry arc, Parry supralateral arcs, a 22 degree halo, twin sun dogs (parhelia), partial parhelic circle, and an upper sun pillar. I also understand it is rare to see all of these during a single event.

(15) NOCON.  Newcon PDX, a fan convention for science fiction, video games, anime, comics, and cosplay, which was scheduled to take place from January 5-7, 2018 in Portland, Oregon, has been cancelled, says Director Michael Anderson:

I have to announce that Newcon 6 is cancelled.

Since 2011, Newcon has tried to give the area an inclusive convention that dips into subcultures beyond just anime and pop culture. Our amazing staff and attendees have made every year of Newcon an exceptionally fun experience, and I am heartbroken that we won’t be able to continue the tradition.

Due to a number of issues (some in our management’s control, and some out), our original venue stopped being an option for the event. For my part, I’m sorry. As anyone keeping up with the announcements on Facebook has seen, we were hoping to move the event to a new venue, but the offer was officially rescinded this afternoon. Without a venue, we have no pathway forward for the event to happen.

There has been a whirlwind of gossip thrown around about myself, my partner, our staff, and the convention. Early this year, our original venue choice was contacted and “warned” about Newcon and my management. I have no doubt that the individuals with a vendetta against Newcon did the same with our new venue choice. Now we see the fruits of their spite.

As the Northwest’s convention record shows, keeping conventions going is hard. It’s expensive, difficult to plan, and relies on incredible people working together. I want to thank every member of Newcon 6’s staff for all the incredible work they put in. Thousands of hours are going down the drain, and for that I am livid. I am aware of the calls for new ownership/directorship of Newcon PDX, and if the brand has any future I will make sure it is passed to someone divorced from any of the community hostility, who will carry on the spirit of what made the event special. I will not be involved in its future.

To our attendees, vendors, and artists, I’m sorry. I’m new to cancelling events, and doubly new to cancelling events this late in the game. All tickets will be refunded, and we’ll be working with guests, vendors, and artists to refund their investments in the convention. Please contact info@newconpdx.com with any concerns.

The northwest deserves a convention like Newcon. I am sorry that Newcon can’t be that convention.

(16) DOC BROWN HAS BEEN AT IT AGAIN.  After Stephen Callaghan’s 12-year-old daughter, Ruby, came home with the news that she’d been assigned to a girls-only group at school for a makeover in the library, while all the boys were going to be taken on a field trip to a local hardware store, he penned a letter to the principal at her Australian school:

I must draw your attention to a serious incident which occurred yesterday at your school where my daughter Ruby is a Year 6 student.

When Ruby left for school yesterday it was 2017 but when she returned home in the afternoon she was from 1968.

I know this to be the case as Ruby informed me that the “girls” in Year 6 would be attending the school library to get their hair and make-up done on Monday afternoon while the “boys” are going to Bunnings.

Are you able to search the school buildings for a rip in the space-time continuum? Perhaps there is a faulty Flux Capacitor hidden away in the girls toilet block?

I look forward to this being rectified and my daughter and other girls at the school being returned to this millennium where school activities are not divided sharply along gender lines.

(17) RESOLVED.  Grant Snider, who creates Incidental Comics, posted his suggestions for New Year’s Resolutions, some of which will certainly resonate with Filers.

(18) BIG BLUE MARBLE.  The Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit at NASA’s Johnson Space Center counts down the top photos taken by NASA Astronauts aboard the International Space Station in 2017.

[Thanks to Jessica Jones, John Jacob Astor, J. Jonah Jameson, Janis Joplin, J.J. Abrams, Joan Jett, Jay Jay The Jet Plane, Jean-Jacques Leroy, John Joseph Adams, Jesse James, and John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt for these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day bloodstone75 and RedWombat.]

Pixel Scroll 3/19/17 1984 Was Not Supposed To Be An Instruction Manual!

(1) FAKE REVIEWS FOR CHARITY. For Red Nose Day, March 24, 2017, “Pay a fiver to Comic Relief and TQF will review your book. (But we won’t read it.)”.

The Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction team have written for the most respectable reviewing publications in the world, including Interzone! Black Static! The BFS Journal! And the Reading University student newspaper! But on Friday, 24 March 2017, for one day only, they will cast aside their scruples and review books they’ve never read, all in aid of Comic Relief.

For authors and publishers, big and small, this will be a great way to publicise your books while supporting a good cause. And maybe it’ll help people to recognise fake reviews when they see them. The book doesn’t have to be yours. You could order a review for a friend’s book. Or your favourite novel. Or your least favourite. Or buy several reviews. Anything you like!

We are taking bookings in advance. Once you have made a donation of five pounds, email us with the cover and blurb, or just include an Amazon link to the book in your message when making the donation, and we’ll book you in.

(2) GRUMPY OR DOC? The Guardian’s Zoe Williams asks “Beauty and the Beast: Feminist or Fraud?”

Has Disney really turned Beauty and the Beast into a feminist fairytale? Or is it all just posh frocks and women’s work with a slice of Stockholm syndrome thrown in? We delve beneath the furry facade

1) Incomplete subversion of the genre

The main – indeed the only – stated piece of feminism is that Belle has a job, so escapes the passivity and helplessness that has defined heroines since Disney and beyond. Eagle eyed feminist-checkers noted even before the film’s release that Belle’s inventing is unpaid – so it’s not a job, it’s a hobby. I don’t mind that. The future of work is automation, and even feminists will have to get used to finding a purpose outside the world of money.

I do, however, feel bound to point out that Belle’s invention is a washing machine, a contraption she rigs up to a horse, to do her domestic work while she teaches another, miniature feminist how to read. The underlying message baked into this pie is that laundry is women’s work, which the superbly clever woman will delegate to a horse while she spreads literacy. It would be better if she had used her considerable intellect to question why she had to wash anything at all, while her father did nothing more useful than mend clocks. It’s unclear to me why anyone in this small family needs to know the time.

(3) WHAT IF THEY THROW ROCKS? Eavesdrop on the “Confessions of an asteroid hunter” in The Guardian.

Space physicist Dr Carrie Nugent talks about the chances of Earth being hit by a giant asteroid – and why she owes her job to a Bruce Willis movie

The New Scientist reported research that speculated that millions could die if an asteroid came down over a city. Or that a tsunami would kill 50,000 people in Rio de Janeiro if it landed in the sea off the coast of Brazil. How likely is that? An asteroid impact in the worst-case scenario is a terrifying thing. It seems very uncontrollable: in popular culture it’s often a metaphor for human powerlessness over the world. But when you actually look at the problem and you look at statistics, you realise that we can find asteroids, and we can predict where they are going incredibly accurately. That’s kind of unique for something that’s a natural disaster. And, if we had enough warning time, we could actually move one away. It’s a solvable problem.

And these include firing a nuclear missile at the asteroid? Certainly. I interviewed Lindley Johnson who’s got the coolest title in the world: planetary defence officer. He makes the point that nuclear is something that’s being considered, but he also says that it’s a last resort. One thing I found surprising is that the most effective thing might just be to get out of the way. If it’s a small asteroid – and depending on where it’s going to come down – you might just want to evacuate. In the same way you would deal with a flood.

(4) IT’S ACCURACY IN JOURNALISM. This past week George R.R. Martin and the Mayor Santa Fe helped launch The Stagecoach Foundation, whose assets include a small office building. Martin wrote immediately after the launch —

Stagecoach will be a non-profit foundation. Our dream is to bring more jobs to the people of Santa Fe, and to help train the young people of the city for careers in the entertainment industry, through internships, mentoring, and education.

Apparently news reports got significant facts wrong, even the nearest big city paper. When when he saw the news reports, GRRM wrote a list of corrections:

— the Stagecoach building is not 30,000 square feet. Someone pulled that number out of their ass, and dozens of other reports have repeated it. That’s a rough approximate figure for MEOW WOLF, an entirely different place on the other side of Santa Fe. The Stagecoach building is perhaps a third that size,

— I did not “build” Stagecoach. David Weininger did that in 1999, as the headquarters for his compnay, Daylight Chemical Information Systems,

— I am not “opening a film studio.” Stagecoach is a non-profit foundation dedicated to bringing more film and television production to Santa Fe, it is not a film studio,

— there are no sound stages at Stagecoach (though there are several here in town, at the Santa Fe Studios and the Greer Garson Studios). It’s an office building, and will be used primarily for pre- and post-production purposes,

— I am not going to be “running” a foundation, much less a studio. That task I’ve given to a dynamic young lady named Marisa X. Jiminez, who helped open Santa Fe Studios here in town, and who will have total charge of the day-to-day operations of Stagecoach, under a board of directors.

(5) OVER THE TRANSOM. Compelling Science Fiction editor Joe Stech says they’re once again open for submissions. He’s looking for stories to include in issue 7 (and beyond). The submissions window will remain open until 11:59pm MDT on June 1st, 2017. Full details on the submissions page.

(6) MONTAIGNE OBIT. An actor who appeared in two original Star Trek episodes, Lawrence Montaigne (1931-2017) has died.

StarTrek.com is saddened to report the passing of Lawrence Montaigne, the veteran actor who played the Romulan, Decius, in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode “Balance of Terror” in 1966 and returned a year later to portray Stonn, a Vulcan, in “Amok Time.” The actor died on Friday, March 17, at the age of 86.

(7) BERRY OBIT. Famed guitarist Chuck Berry (ob-sf — he was referenced Back to the Future) died March 18. The Guardian has the best obit says Cat Eldridge.

Chuck Berry, who has died aged 90, was rock’n’roll’s first guitar hero and poet. Never wild, but always savvy, Berry helped define the music. His material fused insistent tunes with highly distinctive lyrics that celebrated with deft wit and loving detail the glories of 1950s US teen consumerism.

His first single, Maybellene, began life as “country music”, by which Berry meant country blues, but was revamped on the great postwar Chicago label Chess in 1955. It was not only rock’n’roll but the perfect indicator of just what riches its singer-songwriter would bring to the form. Starting with a race between a Cadillac and a Ford, told from the Ford-owner’s, and therefore the underdog’s, viewpoint, this immeasurably influential debut record featured one of the most famous opening verses in popular music: “As I was motorvatin’ over the hill / I saw Maybellene in a Coupe de Ville …”

Berry’s recording of “Johnny B. Goode” was included on the disk attached to Voyager, per a birthday letter sent from Carl Sagan.

(8) WRIGHTSON OBIT. Swamp Thing co-creator Bernie Wrightson (1948-2017) died March 18 of brain cancer. He was 68.

Wrightson was best known for co-creating the DC Universe character Swamp Thing with writer Len Wein and for illustrating the Swamp Thing comic in the early ’70s. His many other projects included a comic book version of the 1982 Stephen King-penned anthology horror film Creepshow and a 1983 edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, for which he spent seven years creating around 50 illustrations. Wrightson also worked as a conceptual artist on a number of films including the original Ghostbusters, Galaxy Quest, and Creepshow director George A. Romero’s zombie movie Land of the Dead.

(9) TODAY’S DAY

History of International Read To Me Day International Read To Me day was established by the Child Writes Foundation to encourage the growth and spread of adult literacy. It became clear that in countries throughout the world adult literacy is a problem, and many adults simply lack the ability to read even for pleasure. When trying to find ways to help offset this, it became apparent that being read to as a child helped to encourage literacy and a love of reading in adults. The result of these findings was obvious! A holiday needed to be established to encourage the foundations of literacy by reading to our children, and thus was born “International Read To Me Day”!

(10) PORTALS OF DISCOVERY. Will you want to read the book after you play the game? “Joycestick: The Gamification of ‘Ulysses’” on the Boston College website.

A literary critic once asserted that the characters in James Joyce’s Ulysses – the sprawling, modernist opus that has bewitched or bedeviled readers for decades – were not fictitious: Through them, Stuart Gilbert said, Joyce achieved “a coherent and integral interpretation of life.”

Now, through a project titled “Joycestick,” Boston College Joyce scholar Joseph Nugent and his team of mainly BC students have taken this “interpretation of life” to a whole other realm.

Joycestick is Ulysses adapted as an immersive, 3D virtual reality (VR) computer game – a “gamification,” in contemporary parlance. Users don a VR eyepiece and headphones and, with gaming devices, navigate and explore various scenes from the book. Nugent, an associate professor of the practice of English, and his team are continuing to develop, refine and add to Joycestick with the hope of formally unveiling it in Dublin this coming June 16 – the date in 1904 on which Ulysses takes place, now celebrated as Bloomsday in honor of the book’s main character, Leopold Bloom.

(11) CAN’T BE FOUND. The author’s influence on pop culture is pervasive. So “Where Are All the Big Lovecraft Films?” asks this video maker.

H.P. Lovecraft is one of the most important horror and science fiction writers of all time, yet there really aren’t that many large scale adaptations of his work, and even fewer successful ones. So where are all the Lovecraft films?

 

(12) KEEPING UP THE RAY QUOTA. Just in case Camestros Felapton ever does another count….

FATHER ELECTRICO: RAY BRADBURY LIVES FOREVER! is a documentary film based on a collaboration between the author and sculptor Christopher Slatoff.

The frontal view of the sculpture depicts a young Ray’s father carrying him home from a very long day spent at two circuses. Turn the sculpture around and the image of the Illustrated Man and his tattoos come to life and tell their stories.

The other namesake, Mr Electrico, was a carnival magician who charged 12 year-old Ray to “live forever!” The budding author begin writing that day and never stopped.

The video can’t be embedded here, it has to be watched at Vimeo.

(13) NEITHER SNOW NOR SLEET. See Ellen Datlow’s photos from the March 15 KGB Reading.

Nova Ren Suma and Kiini Ibura Salaam read their stories (and parts of stories) the day after NYC’s mini-blizzard when the temperature was still icy

(14) EMAIL ASSAULT. “Shades of Langford’s ‘basilisks’,” says Chip Hitchcock — “US man held for sending flashing tweet to epileptic writer”.

A man accused of sending a flashing image to a writer in order to trigger an epileptic seizure has been arrested, the US justice department says.

John Rayne Rivello, 29, of Maryland, sent Kurt Eichenwald an animated image with a flashing light on Twitter in December, causing the seizure.

He has been charged with criminal cyber stalking and could face a 10-year sentence, the New York Times reports.

“You deserve a seizure for your post,” he is alleged to have written.

Mr Eichenwald is known to have epilepsy. He is a senior writer at Newsweek magazine, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a best-selling author of books including The Informant.

(15) HOW THEY DID IT. The Mummy (2017) Zero Gravity Featurette goes behind the scene of a stunt shown in the trailer.

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, and Ellen Datlow for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day lurkertype.]

Pixel Scroll 12/12/16 There Are Old Pixels And There Are Scrolled Pixels, But There Are No Old Scrolled Pixels

(1) GOLDEN GLOBES. The Golden Globe nominees announced today include these items of genre interest. The entire list of nominees is available in the official press release.

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

  • Deadpool

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Drama

  • Amy Adams in Arrival

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

  • Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

  • Octavia Spencer in Hidden Figures

Best Original Song – Motion Picture

  •  “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana
  •  “Can’t Stop the Feeling” from Trolls

Best Original Score – Motion Picture

  • Jóhann Jóhannsson for Arrival
  • Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams, and Benjamin Wallfisch for Hidden Figures

Best Motion Picture – Animated

  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Moana
  • My Life as a Zucchini
  • Sing
  • Zootopia

Best Television Series – Drama

  • Game of Thrones
  • Stranger Things
  • Westworld

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama

  • Rami Malek in Mr. Robot

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama

  • Caitriona Balfe in Outlander
  • Winona Rider in Stranger Things
  • Evan Rachel Wood in Westworld

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television

  • Christian Slater in Mr. Robot

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television

  • Lena Headey in Game of Thrones
  • Thandie Newton in Westworld

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

  • Rachel Bloom in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

(2) INDIA’S NOT-SO-HIDDEN-FIGURES: Read about “The women scientists who took India into space” at the BBC.

Two years ago, as Indian scientists successfully put a satellite into orbit around Mars, a photograph that went viral showed women dressed in gorgeous saris with flowers in their hair celebrating at the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) in the southern city of Bangalore.

It was reported that the ecstatic women were scientists and the photograph challenged the stereotype that rocket science in India was a male preserve.

Isro later clarified that the celebrating women were administrative staff, but it went on to add that there indeed were several women scientists who had worked on the mission and were in the control room at the time of the launch.

The BBC’s Geeta Pandey recently travelled to Bangalore to meet some of the women who have taken India into space.

(3) AS SEEN FROM EARTH. Great photos of stars: “Sparkling starscapes caught on camera”.

Chow says the first time he saw the Milky Way it was like seeing a special effect from a film.

“Being able to capture the real thing – the beauty of the night sky – is just amazing,” he says.

(4) NEWLY DISCOVERED KLINGONS. Variety reports Star Trek: Discovery has cast three actors as Klingons in the forthcoming series.

Chris Obi, Shazad Latif, and Mary Chieffo have joined the upcoming CBS All Access series, with all three set to play Klingons — members of the fan-favorite alien race that is fundamental to “Star Trek” lore. Obi will play T’Kuvma, a Klingon leader seeking to unite the Klingon houses. Latif will play Kol, commanding officer of the Klingons and protégé of T’Kuvma. Chieffo will play L’Rell, the battle deck commander of the Klingon ship.

(5) FOUNDING FATHER? Eric Flint uses the pronoun “we” when referring to the Dragon Award founders in his latest post “Literary Awards Are Not Competitions”. Did I know this? I don’t remember having that piece of information before.

The Dragon Award was not set up to compete with any of the existing awards. We didn’t launch this new award because we were dissatisfied or disgruntled with the existing awards, such as the Hugo or the Nebula or the World Fantasy Award.

Our attitude stems from a recognition of something that is all too often misunderstood about literary awards. And that is the notion that a literary (or any type of artistic) award in some way or another ratifies a competition. To put it another way, that an award establishes which story or author (or piece of art or artist, or song or singer) “won the competition” in the period of eligibility. According to this notion, what authors and other artists do is in some way analogous to what athletes do when they engage in sports competitions. And, thus, receiving a Hugo or a Nebula or a Dragon or any other award is equivalent to standing on a platform at the Olympics and being handed a gold medal, or being presented with the Stanley Cup.

This notion is wrong, to the point of being perverse. Writers—the same is true for all other artists—are not engaged in a competition in the first place. I will expand on this point as the blog progresses, but for the moment I will leave it at this:

No writer ever sat down to write a story in order to beat another story, or another writer. It’s enough to state the idea to realize how ludicrous it is.

(6) THE NEXT COURSE. Scott Edelman invites you to listen to Episode 24 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast and an interview with Sam J. Miller.

Sam J. Miller

Sam J. Miller

Still have the meat sweats thanks to my recent run of episodes centered around Kansas City BBQ? Then you’ll probably welcome a break for Eating the Fantastic’s first vegetarian episode, recorded at Baltimore’s One World Cafe during the Baltimore Book Festival.

My guest who stole away from the Inner Harbor to join me this episode is Sam J. Miller, a writer who’s been nominated for the Nebula, World Fantasy, and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Awards, and who won the Shirley Jackson Award for his short story “57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides.” And who last shared a meal with me during the 2015 Nebula Awards weekend at Alinea, considered to be one of the Top 10 restaurants in the world. His debut novel, The Art of Starving, will appear from HarperCollins in 2017.

(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

The 1985 movie Back to the Future was banned in China because of its time travel and “disrespectful portrayal of history.” In fact, many of the movies on Mental Floss list of “10 Movies That Were Banned in China” are sf/f.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 12, 1972 – Orange soil discovered by Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene A. Cernan and Harrison H. Schmitt during their second day of exploration on the lunar surface. Frank Zappa warned them not to eat it.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born December 12, 1893 – Edward G. Robinson, whose genre roles include Soylent Green.

(10) ROCK TO THE END OF THE WORLD. The Book Smugglers have the answer to a popular question — “N. K. Jemisin: ‘So what would you do if a Fifth Season happened for real?”.

A Runnysack Moment

I often get asked, “So what would you do if a Fifth Season happened for real?” …

This became sort of a double-edged thing with the other topic that I researched deeply for the Broken Earth, however, which was prepper communities.  I needed to get into the mindset of people who literally believe that civilization is going to end at any given moment.  So to that end, I watched some episodes of the TV show Doomsday Preppers, I bought a few issues of Offgrid Recoil Magazine, and visited some prepper forums online….

Now, I did end up meeting some people who live with the perpetual belief that civilization will end, and who have had rather more actual societal experience of Fifth Season-like events than most preppers.  When I went to Hawaii’s Big Island a few years ago, I met both some native Hawaiians and more recent comers who happily talked to me about what it’s like to live on top of an actively erupting hotspot that could turn into an Extinction Level Event at any moment.  Their philosophy was markedly different to that of the prepper communities I’d previously studied — much less stress and fear, a greater emphasis on preparing through skills and handed-down wisdom, and a general feeling of hey, if Pele’s pissed off, there’s really nothing you can do but deal with it in the moment.  It’s foolish to try and anticipate a goddess, after all.

(11) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #14. The fourteenth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for an autographed book from Laura J. Mixon.

Today’s auction is for an autographed hardcover copy of the book UP AGAINST IT, by Laura J. Mixon, writing as M. J. Locke.

About the Book:

Jane Navio is the resource manager of Phoecea, an asteroid colony poised on the knife-edge of hard vacuum and unforgiving space. A mishap has dumped megatons of water and methane out the colony’s air lock, putting the entire human population at risk.

Jane discovers that the crisis may have been engineered by the Martian crime syndicate, as a means of executing a coup that will turn Phocaea into a client-state. And if that wasn’t bad enough, an AI that spawned during the emergency has gone rogue…and there’s a giant x-factor in the form of the transhumanist Viridian cult that lives in Phocaea’s bowels.

Jane’s in the prime of her career?she’s only a bit over a century old?but the conflict between politics and life-support is tearing her apart. To save her colony and her career, she’s going to have to solve several mysteries at once?a challenge that will put her up against all the difficulties, contradictions, and awkward compromises entailed in the human colonization of outer space.

From Publishers Weekly (starred review): “Compulsively readable…Most of all, this smart, satisfying hard SF adventure celebrates human resilience.”

(12) YOU BETTER WATCH OUT. At this time of year we should all be getting to bed on time (remember “He knows when you’ve been sleeping/He knows when you’re awake”) but if Santa is not one of your worries, then viewing the annual Geminid meteor shower could be a late-night treat.

The Geminid meteor shower occurs every year from about December 4 to 16. The shower’s “maximum,” or time when the most meteors per hour fall, is usually on December 13 and 14. Get more information on our Meteor Shower Calendar.

(Note: In 2016, the meteors are battling a Full Moon, so it will be a bit of a hunt, but our observatory friends at Slooh predict that it “should still be one of the best, and most active, celestial shows of the year.”)

(13) THE EAGLE HAS LANDED. Foz Meadows’ post has moved into at its new home at Amazing Stories — “Guest Post by Foz Meadows: Unempathic Bipeds of Failure: The Relationship Between Stories and Politics”.

Steve Davidson has included his comments at the end about the definition of “neo-Nazi” and related questions.

(14) DUTY. Alexandra Erin, commenting on the Black Gate/Foz Meadows story: “The Banality of Banality”.

It’s part of the alt-reich’s standard operating procedure: you play at legalism and reference or even invent rules to get the other side, the side that cares about consequences and fairness, to abide by them, even while you don’t. He used these tactics to get Black Gate’s editor to back down, to blink, and now the text which correctly and accurately labels a neo-Nazi as a neo-Nazi politely redirects to another venue, to which it has deferred that duty.

And I look at this, and I look at what’s happening in Washington (well, mostly in New York and Florida, as our President-Elect sees the presidency as more of a side gig) and the way our national news media is covering things, and, I have to say… it doesn’t look nearly as pointless.

As above, so below.

(15) REINDEER SCIENCE. We’ve all heard the stories about dog owners who didn’t realize their pets were female ’til the puppies came. I’m just going to assume Santa is better informed than that…. The Farmers Almanac poses the question, “Is Rudolph a Girl?.

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, both male and female reindeer grow antlers each summer. Male reindeer shed theirs from late November to mid-December, but females retain their antlers until after they give birth in the spring.

This is because the mating season occurs in the fall. Once the male reindeer have used their antlers to impress their mates, they no longer have use of them, and they shed them before Christmastime. This means that the image most of us have of Rudolph with his antlers at Christmastime is not scientifically accurate.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Hampus Eckerman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Pixel Scroll 11/4/16 A Squat Gray Scroll Of Only Thirty-Four Pixels

(1) ELECTION NIGHT HANDBOOK. Nicholas Whyte has been doing our homework for us: “I thought you might be interested in my preview of the US election on Tuesday – now available here: Apco’s Guide to Election Night 2016.

“Or to download from Slideshare here.”

As election day in the United States draws near, all eyes will be on early voting numbers and eventually official returns. Our resident election expert, Nicholas Whyte, prepared this guide to knowing what it will take to win and when we’re likely to know the outcome. Keep it handy!

(2) THAT CLOSE. Says John King Tarpinian, “Ray Bradbury missed landing on the moon by a month and Marty McFly missed the Cubs by one year.” From Entertainment Weekly, “Michael J. Fox congratulates the Cubs: ‘Only off by a year, not bad”.

Last year, Back to the Future writer Bob Gale explained to Sports Illustrated why he picked a Cubs win as a major plot point in the futuristic comedy.

“I’m from St. Louis originally,” he said at the time. “I’m a big baseball fan. You grow up in St. Louis, you automatically become a Cardinals fan. And of course I always followed the Cubs because how could you not? With the Cubs folklore of being the lovable losers that never get there, it was just a natural joke to say, ‘What is the most absurd thing that you could come up with?’”

(3) CARTOON MUSEUM LANDS IN CLOVER. A piece on the sfexaminer.com website by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez called “Recently Displaced Cartoon Art Museum Finds New Home in SF” discusses how the Cartoon Art Museum, which thought it was going to close in 2015 because of San Francisco’s ridiculous rents, has found a new one on Fisherman’s Wharf.

Kashar said the new space is “comparable” in size to the old one on Mission Street, though it’s one floor shorter. “We get to design it, too,” she said, which wasn’t an option with the old space.

“It’s got this really nice-looking facade,” she said, which is brick and looks similar to the nearby historic Cannery.

“For us, we wanted a place that was easy to get to, had street level visibility. It’s gorgeous,” she said.

The new space was made possible in part by a loan from San Francisco’s Nonprofit Displacement Mitigation Fund, which has helped keep nonprofits in San Francisco during the rental crisis.

Kashar said the museum will announce fundraising efforts for the new location soon.

In the meantime, she hinted at one of the first new exhibits for the museum when it opens in 2017: the Summer of Love’s 50th anniversary.

That includes Wimmen’s Comix and Underground Comix, San Francisco staples from The City’s anti-establishment comics past.

(4) DAVE LALLY THAWING OUT. A few words about Icecon from Dave Lally.

Just back from freezing Reykavik (brrrrr!) and gosh is booze* (and indeed food) expensive there.

Tho the local fen, in the middle of their Gen Election to their Althing — whose building was just across the road from the main Icecon social bar! — were welcoming and very friendly.

Total number was about 120 (including overseas fen — giving them support and encouragement– from other Nordic countries and from US, UK, Ireland etc.)

Icecon 2 is scheduled for 2018. It will alternate with the every-two-years Icelandic Festival of Literature.

(*) 2nd highest tax on alcohol-exceed only by Norway!

Lally wrote this while on his way to the Eurocon in Barcelona, where the weather is warmer for smoffing.

(5) STOP OVERLOOKING HER! Sarah Gailey winds up the resentment machine and lets fly in the insightful and entertaining post “Women of Harry Potter: Ginny Weasley Is Not Impressed” at Tor.com.

Ginny let herself be impressed once. She let herself be impressed by Harry Potter—the Boy Who Lived, big brother’s best friend, Quidditch star. She let herself be impressed, and she let herself be infatuated, and she let herself blush and hide. She let herself be soft.

And into that moment of softness—of weakness—she wound up vulnerable. And look at how that turned out.

Ginny Weasley is angry. She’s angry because she let her mind become a chew toy for a sociopath. She’s angry because she hurt people, and she doesn’t care that she was just a puppet for Tom Riddle, that doesn’t matter, she still hurt people. She’s angry because nobody noticed. She’s angry because everyone forgets. She’s constantly having to remind them that she went through it, she spoke to him, he spoke back. And when he spoke back, it wasn’t just an endless deluge of taunts about her parents or jabs at her youth or threats to kill her. Harry’s never had a conversation with Voldemort, never really talked to him.

Ginny has.

(6) ALLERGIC TO WORK. Camestros Felapton’s post “A Tale of an Encyclopedia in Graphs” analyzes how much work all those new members are doing on the Voxopedia (which is to say, Infogalactic). The answer? They’re doing squat.

Adding more members isn’t impacting on the number of new pages being added because the new members aren’t doing anything.

The problem with becomes clearer when looking at the proportion of edits per person.

Two people alone account for nearly 70% of all the edits in the data set.

And Mark-kitteh points out in a comment:

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Statistics , wikipedia gets 800 new articles per day. (No word on how many then fail notability checks, so the real figure may be lower). Based on that Voxipedia needs an couple of orders of magnitude more activity just to keep up.

I wonder how much editing activity you need to just keep up with really basic facts, like people dying?

(7) JUMPER OBIT. Fans recently learned of the death of Joyce Potter McDaniel Jumper (1937-2013). Her death notice is posted here.

Lee Gold shared the news, and her husband Barry added, “We lost track of Joyce in 2013. She called to tell us she was moving to Minneapolis-St. Paul, but never followed up with her new address. Former Long Beach fan Vic Koman posted on Facebook about SFWA looking for the rights to republish some of Dave’s works, so Vic wanted to help find Joyce. After Lee sent him a few bits of information (DOB, maiden name), he tracked down the unfortunate information: Joyce Potter McDaniel Jumper: born January 12, 1937; died December 20, 2013.”

Information about David McDaniel here.

(8) BIG HERO 6. “Big News for Disney’s BIG HERO 6” from Scifi4me.com.

If having Disney XD creating an animated series for Big Hero 6 is not exciting enough, then the news that most of the original voice cast will return for it should get the fans revved up. The Mouse House had confirmed working on a project based off the 2014 Academy Award winning box office hit (over $650 million) this spring. This sweetens the deal.

Inspired by the Marvel comic of the name, Big Hero 6 will continue where the film ended with the continuing adventures of 14-year-old tech genius Hiro, his lovable, cutting-edge robot Baymax and their friends Wasabi, Honey Lemon, Go Go, and Fred as they protect their city from scientifically enhanced villains. At the same time, they are also balancing out regular life as new students at the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology.

Returning actors are: Maya Rudolph (Aunt Cass); Jamie Chung (Go Go); Scott Adsit (Baymax); Alan Tudyk (Alistair Krei); Ryan Potter (Hiro); Genesis Rodriguez (Honey Lemon); David Shaughnessy (Heathcliff); and, of course, Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee (Fred’s dad). Damon Wayans, Jr and T.J. Miller have left the cast. Khary Payton (The Lion Guard) will take over Wasabi and Brooks Wheelan (Saturday Night Live) will play Fred.

(9) SEVENTIES SF IS BACK. Its publication derailed over 40 years ago, Gordon Eklund’s Cosmic Fusion is touted as a breakthrough book that never happened. You can see what you missed by shelling out a few bucks to Amazon.

Cosmic Fusion was originally written between January 1973 and September 1982, a mammoth 300,000-word epic novel of “science fiction, sex, and death.” Unpublished due to an editorial change at the original publishing company, Eklund has now revised it for its first publication. As he writes in his introduction: “Cosmic Fusion was intended to be the book that broke me out of [science fiction’s midlist]. It was the Big Ambitious Novel I was going to write because I wanted to write it…” So here it is, a vintage tale written by Gordon Eklund at the peak of his power as a writer, never before seen…until today!

(10) ESCHEW SURPLUSAGE. Here’s part of the writing advice C. S. Lewis sent to a fan in 1956, from Letters of Note.

What really matters is:–

  1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.
  2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.
  3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”

(11) MORE AWARDS. Matthew Bowman says two awards were started in reaction to the controversy about the Hugos. We all know about the Dragon Awards, which he discusses at the beginning of his post “A Tale of Two Awards” at The Catholic Geeks. Here’s Bowman’s introduction to the second.

The Rampant Manticore

The Rampant Manticore, as I said, was also in large part a reaction to what happened with the Hugos; but it takes a very different focus and a very different way of handling the problem.

For one, the Manticores will be presented at HonorCon, but — like that convention — they are adminstered by the Royal Manticoran Navy. The RMN, named after the military in the books they honor (no pun intended), is the Official Honor Harrington Fan Association. It’s sanctioned by the author, David Weber, and beloved by the publisher for how this organization of several thousand members gets people to read (and buy) this bestseller among bestsellers. The RMN is of course chiefly concerned with the Honor Harrington series, but cheerfully encompasses all military genre fiction. As a result, the Manticores have a heavy focus on military science fiction and fantasy.

The Manticores are also taking an opposite tack from the Flight of Dragons; instead of opening it up to everyone (or even just supporting memberships like Wordcon and the Hugos), they put very particular limits on who can vote. You have to either attend HonorCon itself, or have been a member of the fan association for a full year and taken at least two exams (these are really easy exams, don’t worry).

(12) UNCLE 4E. Forry Ackerman’s 100th birthday is coming late this month. Here’s a placeholder, from the last print issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland.

del-toro-4e-quote-min

(13) EVERYBODY EXAGGERATES HIS RESUME. Jimmy Kimmel hires Doctor Strange.

(14) BACK HOME IN THE JUNGLES OF INDIANA. Han Solo and Indy reunited in the same film! Raiders of the lost Dark.

[Thanks to Gregory Benford, Lee Gold, Andrew Porter, Janice Gelb, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day M. C. Simon Milligan.]

Pixel Scroll 7/19/16 Dropkick Me Pixel, Through The Scrollposts Of Life

(1) WHEN LAST HEARD FROM. Rachael Acks, your life is calling. Confessions of a Pokémon Go player.

I wasn’t going to play Pokémon Go. Seriously. I’ve never played Pokémon in my entire life. I still have zero desire to pick up any of the other games, because I am not interested in that kind of grind.

But then my friend Corina wanted to go for a long walk and catch all the local Poké Stops. Which are in the same location as Ingress portals, so I thought what the hell, I might as well get back into playing Ingress. I haven’t done that since getting back to Colorado. Oh and fine, I’ll download Pokémon Go while I’m at it and try, since I’ll be out there anyway. It’s probably dumb and I won’t like it.

And now I find myself out there, sitting on a picnic table in a park at midnight, farming Pokémon, and once a day reminding myself to log on to Ingress and keep my hacking streak going. What the hell happened? I don’t even go here.

(2) GHASTLY NEWS. The trolls and haters have driven Leslie Jones off Twitter with their racist abuse. 🙁

According to Salon, Twitter administrators are working to deal with the problem.

It all seemed to be going well for a while. Over the weekend, the actress and comic was tweeting out photos sent by happy fans attending screenings of her film, and praise for colleagues. Then on Monday, she issued a warning, saying, “Some people on here are f__king disgusting. I’m blocking your filthy ass if retweet that perverted s__t. Just know that now bitches!!” And then she proceeded to demonstrate just how bad it really is to be a woman of color — even more gallingly for the ignorant trolls, a successful woman of color — on Twitter. She shared tweets from a variety of low-functioning cretins, too many to list here but several with the theme of comparing Jones to a gorilla.

…But as fans and supporters have come forward to report the abuse, either Twitter administration actually has done something or the trolls themselves haven’t been able to stand the attention. By Tuesday morning, at least some of the more revolting posters seem to have disappeared — gee, was the reference to the KKK in your user name, bro? At least one racist troll has been suspended. Fun fact: You will not find too many on Twitter who think it’s funny to call a stranger a racial slur who use their own name or image on their account….

(3) INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST. Alexandra Erin reports: “Ghostbusters Enjoys $46m Opening Weekend Entirely On Strength of Guys From The Internet Sitting Alone In Empty Theaters With Their Phone Cameras”.

As reported on breitbart.com, Sony’s Ghostbusters opened this weekend to a slew of empty seats in empty theaters, taking in an impressive $46 million dollars from the men of various Gamergate-affiliated internet forums, who all bought tickets for the sole purpose of taking pictures of otherwise empty auditoriums to post on Twitter in order to prove that the movie really was a bomb, no matter what the feminist conspiracy is making the biased left-wing media say about it.

The journalistic zeal of these amateur photographers was enough to bump the reboot into second place for the weekend, finishing just behind the family entertainment powerhouse The Secret Life of Pets (first, at $50 million). The multitudes of men sitting alone in empty theaters gave seasoned director Paul Feig and hit comic actor Melissa McCarthy their biggest openings yet, as well as making Ghostbusters the most successful debut for a live-action comedy all year….

(4) CRITICAL CAT. At Camestros Felapton’s blog, Timothy the Talking Cat weighs in on the day’s most important cultural issue: “Review: Ghostbusters Versus Timothy”.

CF: So Ghostbusters, what did you think?
Timothy: Overall I felt the  duffel bag could have been larger.
CF: Seriously, it was the only way to get you into the cinema.
Timothy: Ah, the ‘No Cats’ rule again.
CF: Specifically the ‘No cats called Timothy because he keeps shouting at the characters in the movie’ rule again.
Timothy: I believe my fellow patrons enjoy my ad-hoc commentary.….

(5) CHAT WITH A DOCTOR EMERITUS. The Guardian hosted the “Matt Smith webchat – fear, football and a female Doctor Who”. Highlights:

  • “I think a Lady Doctor could be close”

How does my daughter become the Doctor? She wants to know. Thanks!

“Well, she has a chance. I think a Lady Doctor could be close. And would be fun. So practise, practise, practise. And talk really fast. And think really fast. And be really brave. And mad. And silly. And good luck maybe it will be you!”

  • “I miss time travelling. But it’s Peter’s Tardis now”

There were rumours that you would return for the 10th season. Is this true?

“No it’s not true…. I miss everything. I miss Steven, I miss Karen, I miss Arthur, I miss Jenna. I miss time travelling. And I miss my friends in Cardiff. BUT onward goes the march. It’s Peter’s Tardis now. And I love what he does. So I watch as a fan.”

(6) SNEAK PEEKS. Cnet invites you to “Check out these two set photos from ‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’”.

Director Rian Johnson posted some set photos from his upcoming movie. Maybe you’ve heard of it….

All the photos really tell us is that the upcoming Star Wars film has both spaceships and oddly shaped black helmets, which I think most of us would have put money on already.

(7) STEPHANIE CLARKSON (1971-2016). Laurie Beth Brunner reported on Facebook that Boston area fan Stephanie Clarkson passed away today.

Stephanie died peacefully this morning at 5:30 a.m., with her mother keeping her company and holding her.

I like to think that her body was simply inadequate to the task of containing her spirit, and so it let her go free. 🙁

Thank you all so much for all the love and support you have shown to Stephanie, to her family, and to me as well. I know that she loved you all and was so grateful for everything everyone did for her, even when she was sometimes unable to express it.

Good night, Stephanie, and flights of Muppets sing thee to thy rest.

(8) MISSION OVERACCOMPLISHED. There’s a Kickstarter raising funds to reproduce NASA’s manual for the 1969 Moon landing — “Apollo 11 Flight Plan Re-Issue”.

We are starting from the beginning and reproducing every single page, using accurate fonts, colors, spacing and paper, as well as reproducing all vector graphics based on very high resolution scans of the original Apollo 11 Final Flight Plan.

A lot of people think this is a good idea. So many, that it’s raised $59,369, far in excess of its original goal of $11,274. And there are still 26 days left to go.

(9) NEIL CLARKE, IMPOSTOR? That’s the title of his post – “Impostor”. Fortunately, he sounds like he’s on his way to recovery.

It’s easy to start something when people have little or no expectations from you. I can’t tell you how many people told us Clarkesworld would be “dead within a year.” Somewhere around the third year, that changed. Being taken seriously was intimidating. Success felt great, but I was always ready for the rug to be pulled out from under us.

And then, four years ago, I had a near-fatal heart attack. It’s the sort of thing that reshapes your priorities and forces you to examine what you’ve been doing. I think that might have been the first time I honestly admitted to myself that I was a professional editor and deserved to be paid for my work, no matter how much I enjoyed it. That said, I’m still very good at ignoring the voice that says “you earned this.” That list of accomplishments… that’s what my childhood heroes did. In that light, it’s often a case of “I’m not worthy.”

That brings us to today. I can’t quite say that I’m a recovered impostor, but that I can blog about it is a promising sign. I can see why hiding behind the magazine has worked for me and I also understand why others feel I should “own my brand.” Perhaps I can step out periodically and see what happens. As I said, frightening, but maybe I’m ready.

(10) KEEP ON TRUCKING. Gareth D. Jones reviews The End Of The World Running Club by Adrian J Walker” for SFCrowsnest.

This sounds good, I thought. A post-apocalyptic tale about a man who has to run the length of Britain to find his family. The cover does not look like a Science Fiction book, though, it looks like a ‘literary’ book. More worryingly, when it arrived, it had a sticker on the front cover advertising the ‘BBC Radio 2 Book Club’. My dad used to listen to Radio 2. Technically, I am now in the right age bracket to listen to Radio 2 myself, but do I really want to put myself in that bracket and read that kind of book? Too late. The book was in my possession and I was committed to reading it.

Within a few pages I was hooked….

(11) LOVE THE HEADLINE. At SF Site News, Steven H Silver showed some flair in his title: “Muppets” Take Ankh-Morpork:

The Jim Henson Company has announced they are developing a film based on Sir Terry Pratchetts Wee Free Men, with a script to be written by Pratchett’s daughter, Rhianna Pratchett. The project is a collaboration between the Jim Henson Company and Narrativia, a company set up to promote Pratchett’s works. Rhianna Pratchett and Sir Terry’s assistant, Rob Wilkins, will serve as Executive Producers on the project. For more information…

(12) OPEN MOOSE SURGERY. I missed this at the time in 2015 – a thorough restoration of the iconic Rocky and Bullwinkle statue that used to be in front of the Jay Ward Studios.

In a post on Vintage Los Angeles on Saturday, Martino recalled meeting Ricardo Scozzari, who restored the sculpture. “I tracked down the brilliant restoration genius who put our friends back together and lovingly restored them,” she said. “THEY ARE BASICALLY BULLET PROOF NOW! And it wasn’t easy! The statue was falling apart when it was removed from its iconic location on the morning of July 22, 2013. Meet the man who rescued our local landmark! Ricardo Scozzari!”

“I restored the statue twice,” said Scozzari. “Once on the Sunset Strip and the final time as you see it now. It was a fun project. Bullwinkle had ‘open heart surgery’ — literally. I had to open his chest to strengthen his internal structure. Oh the pictures I have. He looks just like he did back in 1961. Same number of strips on his bathing suit and everything.”

bullwinkle and rocky

(13) WAILING AWAY. Plonk your magic twanger, Marty — “Michael J. Fox and Coldplay Recreate ‘Back to the Future’ at NJ Concert”.

On Saturday night (July 16), Coldplay kicked off the North American leg of its Head Full of Dreams tour just outside New York in East Rutherford, NJ’s MetLife Stadium. They were back in the same venue the following night, so what did they do to break the mold? Stage an iconic scene from American cinema. Did you ever doubt Chris Martin’s dramatic flair?

During the show’s final encore, Coldplay brought out Michael J. Fox, Gibson Les Paul in hand. Together, they transported the crowd to Back to the Future‘s Enchantment Under the Sea dance, with a couple of ‘50s classics. First, they played a little of the Penguins’ “Earth Angel” and after that — of course — Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.” The homage came as a request from Martin’s son, Moses, who was hoping to get a real life taste of his favorite movie.

Fox (who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991) has been known to reprise the famous scene at the annual benefit for his Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. For the 2013 benefit, he performed alongside Chris Martin in New York City.

(14) ROAD WARRIOR. Pornokitsch presents “Gail Carriger on ‘The Traveling Writer: A Tip Sheet’”.

I started attending conventions as a fangirl long before I was a professional writer. I knew what to expect and when I got my first Guest of Honor invitation I was over the moon. I still get a little thrill at the very idea that someone wants me to attend a convention… as a guest!

But it’s not the same thing. Whether heading out on a book tour or invited as a guest to a small local sci-fi convention, attending programming at a larger conference, or visiting one of those monster book festivals or comicons there are some things I think a professional writer should always keep in mind.

So here, for your amusement (and perhaps education) are my highly subjective… Tips for the Traveling Writer

  1. Thou shalt follow the 6, 2, 1 rule

What’s that? At least six hours sleep, two full meals, and one bath.

Actually, I usually try for 8, 3, 2. I recommend a morning swim (at most cons I get an AM pool to myself) plus a hot tub mini soak and shower. People often forget about the hotel pool when there is a major event, so if you like to swim don’t forget the bathing suit and goggles.

(15) SUFFERING FROM THRONE WITHDRAWAL? ScreenRant recommends 15 Fantasy Worlds to Explore While You Wait for the Next Season of Game of Thrones.

1. The Kingkiller Chronicles, Patrick Rothfuss 2. The Gentlemen Bastard Cycle, Scott Lynch 3. The Dark Tower, Stephen King 4. Saga, by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples 5. The Passage Trilogy, Justin Cronin 6. Bone, by Jeff Smith 7. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman 8. Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson 9. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke 10. The Stormlight Archives, by Brandon Sanderson 11. Paper Girls, by Brian K. Vaughn and Cliff Chiang 12. The Magicians, by Lev Grossman 13. Rat Queens, by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Various Artists 14. The Wheel Of Time, by Robert Jordan 15. The First Law Universe, by Joe Abercrombie

(16) WE HAVE A WINNER. You never know where the next title is coming from…

(17) BACK IN TIME. The New Yorker presents an interesting video – “A Split-Screen Tour of Los Angeles, Seventy Years Ago and Today”.

Bunker Hill, an area of roughly five square blocks in downtown Los Angeles, holds a place in city lore similar to that of the water wars or the construction of Dodger Stadium: beginning in 1959, it was the subject of a massive urban-renewal project, in which “improvement” was generally defined by the people who stood to profit from it, as well as their backers at City Hall, at the expense of anyone standing in their way. In the early part of the twentieth century, the neighborhood had been home to some of the city’s most elegant mansions and hotels; by the nineteen-fifties, these had mostly been subdivided into low-income housing, and the area was populated by a mix of pensioners, immigrants, workers, and people looking to get lost—a period memorialized in several noir films and the realist gem “The Exiles.” The Bunker Hill Redevelopment Project was adopted in 1959 and somehow lasted an astonishing fifty-three years. The result, and what it means, are the subject of this short film by Keven McAlester, which compares what the same streets in downtown Los Angeles looked like in the nineteen-forties and today.

[Thanks to Bartimaeus, Dawn Incognito, JJ, James Davis Nicoll, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Sciphideas.]

Pixel Scroll 7/5/16 Scrollamagoosa

Radio SFWA(1) RADIO SFWA OFFICIAL VIDEO. Henry Lien has released the video of Radio SFWA as performed on stage at the Nebula Banquet in May.

Lien, who wrote the song as a recruiting anthem for the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, sang as Emperor Stardust backed by the brilliantly-choreographed Eunuchs of the Forbidden City doing SFWA spellouts and other routines. They received a well-deserved standing-O at the end.

Click CC (Closed Captioning) to view the lyrics.

Click Settings to watch it in 1080 HD.

Emperor Stardust

  • Henry Lien (Nebula Nominee, SFWA Member)

The Eunuchs of the Forbidden City

  • Liz Argall (SFWA Member)
  • Tina Connolly (Norton Nominee, SFWA Member)
  • Alyx Dellamonica (SFWA Member)
  • Patrice Fitzgerald (SFWA Member)
  • Fonda Lee (Norton Nominee, SFWA Member)
  • Reggie Lutz (Future SFWA Member)
  • Kelly Robson (Nebula Nominee, SFWA Member)

(2) MIDWESTERN MIGHTINESS. “Marvel reveals New Great Lakes Avengers Series”Nerdist has the story.

They’re not Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. They’re not even the West Coast Avengers. At one point, they received a cease-and-desist order to prevent them from using the Avengers name. But their tenacity could not be stopped and their inherent silliness endeared them to readers all around the world. And that is precisely why Marvel is announcing today, exclusively on Nerdist, that they are bringing back the Great Lakes Avengers in an all-new monthly ongoing comic book series….

Let’s begin with the obvious question: why is now the right time to revive the Great Lakes Avengers?

“Now is the time for Great Lakes Avengers to return, one, because I simply want to do it,” [editor Tom] Brevoort joked. “They need to give me perks to keep doing the comics that people like and that sell really well,” he added with a laugh.

Great-Lakes-Avengers-Cover

(3) SALTIRE. At another spot on the map, BBC reports a “Scottish superhero challenge to Marvel and DC Comics”.

Glaswegian [John] Ferguson, who set up Diamondsteel Comics with his Lancashire-born wife Clare, said other elements of Scotland’s past and folklore also feature.

He said: “The Stone of Destiny, the Blue Stanes, the Loch Ness Monster and the Caledonian Fae traditions all have a significant place in the Saltire universe.

“Saltire’s origin is built from myth and legend so a comparison might be Marvel’s Thor although perhaps a bit darker and grittier. He does have an iconic visual appeal similar to the famous American superheroes.”

A year in the making, Saltire: Legend Eternal, the first comic book in a new series of the comics has been “meticulously inked, coloured and lettered” to compete with the high standards set by Marvel and DC Comics, said Ferguson.

(4) WHO NEEDS A DEGREE? Recently, David Tennant and Steven Moffat each received honorary degrees from different schools in Scotland.

Dr Who star David Tennant has travelled back in time to his old acting school to pick up an honorary degree.

The Broadchurch actor has been awarded an honorary drama doctorate from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

The 46-year-old was recognised during a ceremony in Glasgow.

Tennant studied drama at the Royal Conservatoire between 1988 and 1991, then known as the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, before enjoying success on stage and screen.

He said: “I’m honoured and rather humbled to be here – it’s all quite overwhelming but lovely to be back. It evokes some very vivid memories.

“It was a very important time for me. I don’t think I would have survived without my time here – for me it was essential. Three years of getting to practice in a safe environment.

“I was quite young, quite green, and I did a lot of growing up here and learned an enormous amount. They were very formative years that I look back on very fondly.”

Dr Who writer Steven Moffat also received an honorary degree from the University of the West of Scotland in Paisley.

(5) TRUDEAU. In Yanan Wang’s story for the Washington Post, “How Canada’s prime minister became a superhero”, about Justin Trudeau’s appearance in the Marvel comic Civil War II: Choosing Sides  she explains that writer Chip Zdarsky (who writes as “Steve Murray”) put Justin Trudeau in the comic book because his father, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, made an earlier appearance with the Alpha Flight team (who are Canadian superheroes) in the 1980s.

She also unleashes this quote from Peter C. Newman, a prominent Canadian business journalist:

“If God had meant for us to be heroic, he wouldn’t have made us Canadians.  This is the only country on Earth whose citizens dream of being Clark Kent, instead of Superman.” To regard themselves as heroes would be “boastful,” Newman observed, which Canadians were decidedly not.

(6) CONTROVERSY. “In His New Novel, Ben Winters Dares to Mix Slavery and Sci-Fi”, a New York Times article, covers a lot of ground about a book whose reception is all over the spectrum.

In Ben H. Winters’s chilling new thriller, “Underground Airlines,” a bounty hunter named Victor tracks fugitives for the United States Marshals Service. But his mission, like his past, is complicated: The people he’s chasing are escaped slaves. Their main crime is rejecting a life of forced servitude. And Victor himself was once one of them.

From the moment he started writing it, Mr. Winters knew that “Underground Airlines” was creatively and professionally risky. The novel tackles the thorny subject of racial injustice in America. It takes place in a contemporary United States where the Civil War never happened, and slavery remains legal in four states, and it’s narrated by a former slave who has paid a steep moral price for his freedom.

“I had reservations every day, up to the present day, because the subject is so fraught, and rightfully so,” Mr. Winters said. “It isn’t as if this is ancient history in this country.”

Mr. Winters, 40, has pulled off high-wire acts before. As one of the early literary mash-up artists, he churned out zany best sellers like “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters” and “Android Karenina.” His best-selling trilogy, “The Last Policeman,” is a genre-defying blend of crime writing and science fiction, starring a stoic police officer trying to solve crimes as the world braces for a catastrophic asteroid collision….

“He’s taking a direct whack at one of the main critical things that’s happening in this country right now,” said Lev Grossman, a book critic and author of the fantasy series “The Magicians.” “This is a white writer going after questions of what it’s like to be black in America. It’s a fearless thing to do.”

(7) WORLDCON IN MEMORIAM LIST. Steven H Silver announced that the deadline for getting names onto the In Memoriam list for the MidAmeriCon II program book is Friday, July 8.  Names currently under consideration can be found at http://www.midamericon2.org/home/general-information/memoriam-page/. Suggestions for additional names can be made there as well.  Any names suggested after July 8 will make it into the Hugo scroll, but not the program book.

(8) TODAY IN SILLY HISTORY

  • July 5, 1935 — Hormel Foods introduced the canned meat product SPAM.

(9) DID YOU PAY ATTENTION? Den of Geek put the Back to the Future movies under a microscope and came up with “The Back to the Future Trilogy: 88 Things You Might Have Missed”. The most I can say is that I hadn’t missed all of them. Take number one, for example:

  1. The Doc’s clocks (I)

As the first film opens and we pan across Doc Brown’s incredible assortment of clocks – all previously synchronized to be exactly 25 minutes slow – the eagle-eyed may notice that one of the clocks features a man hanging from its hands. It’s actually silent comedy star Harold Lloyd, dangling from a clock in perhaps his most famous turn in 1923’s Safety Last. Aside from being a cool little nod to a past movie, it also prefigures the later scene in which Doc hangs from the Hill Valley clock in near-identical fashion.

(10) FUTURE WARFARE. Jeb Kinnison will be on the “Weaponized AI and Future Warfare” panel at LibertyCon, and is preparing by organizing his thoughts in a series of highly detailed blog posts.

In Part I of Weaponized AI: My Experience in AI, Kinnison shares details of his professional background in technology, which informs the rest of his discussion.

Autonomous control of deadly weaponry is controversial, though no different in principle than cruise missiles or smart bombs, which while launched at human command make decisions on-the-fly about exactly where and whether to explode. The Phalanx CIWS automated air defense system (see photo above) identifies and fires on enemy missiles automatically to defend Navy ships at a speed far beyond human abilities. Such systems are uncontroversial since no civilian human lives are likely to be at risk.

DARPA is actively researching Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS). Such systems might be like Neal Asher’s (identity) reader guns, fixed or slow-moving sentries equipped to recognize unauthorized presences and cut them to pieces with automatic weapons fire. More mobile platforms might cruise the skies and attack any recognized enemy at will, robotically scouring terrain of enemy forces:…

Many of the readers of Mil SF have had experience in the military themselves, which makes platoon-level fighting stories especially involving for them. The interpersonal aspects are critical for emotional investment in the story — so a tale featuring a skinny, bespectacled systems operators fighting each other by running AI battle mechs from a remote location doesn’t satisfy. Space marines a la Starship Troopers are the model for much Mil SF — in these stories new technology extends and reinforces mobile infantry without greatly changing troop dynamics, leaving room for stories of individual combat, valorous rescue of fellow soldiers in trouble, spur-of-the-moment risks taken and battles won by clever tactics. Thousands of books on this model have been written, and they still sell well, even when they lack any rationale for sending valuable human beings down to fight bugs when the technology for remote or AI control appears to be present in their world.

One interesting escape route for Mil SF writers is seen in Michael Z Williamson’s A Long Time Until Now, where the surrounding frame is not space travel but time travel — a troop from today’s Afghanistan war find themselves transported back to paleolithic central Asia with other similarly-displaced military personnel from other eras and has to survive and build with limited knowledge of their environment.

(11) KRUSHING IT. At secritkrush, Chance Morrison has launched a review series about Hugo-nominated short fiction. Still looking for one that Morrison liked…

Novella it a tough length. Most of the time Novellas feel like they are either bloated short stories which could benefit from an edit or a story which really ought to be expanded into a novel to do it justice. Binti is one of the latter….

Why, given this setup, was the book not a comedy, even a dark one because I really cannot take it seriously but it is really not funny?

One day Google (the search engine) develops consciousness and decides that it doesn’t want to be evil, unlike Google the company….

Writing stories under 1000 words is exceedingly difficult. Writing one of the five best (allegedly) SF short stories of the year in less than a thousand words? Highly unlikely.

Data and River Tam/Jessica Jones together at last! They fight crime commit crimes….

(12) ON THE TRAIL. Lisa Goldstein feels a little more warmly about “’And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead’” – at least room temperature.

“And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander is the only novelette on the Hugo ballot that was not also on the Rabid Puppies’ slate.  To get that far, against all the Puppies voting in lockstep, means that it’s probably a very popular story.  I liked it as well, but I had some reservations.  Which puts me in a minority, so you should definitely read it and make up your own mind.  Hey, I don’t claim to be infallible here.

(13) WORLDCON ANNOUNCES FILM FESTIVAL. The 2016 Worldcon will host the MidAmeriCon II International Film Festival.

The Festival will showcase the best film shorts, features and documentaries from around the world, spanning the science fiction, fantasy, horror, and comic genres. Many film makers will also be in attendance and taking part in Q&A sessions to provide a unique behind the scenes perspective on their work.

The MidAmeriCon II International Film Festival is being led by Nat Saenz, whose extensive track record in the field includes the Tri-City Independent/Fan Film Festival (www.trifi.org) as well as events at the 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015 World Science Fiction Conventions. Nat continues to bring a truly global perspective to his audience, with the 2016 programme including films from Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Russia, Germany, Spain, Greece, France, Italy, and the UK, as well as the USA and Canada.

The Film Festival will run through all five days of the convention, starting at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, August 17 and concluding at 2 p.m. on Sunday, August 21.  All films are open to full and day attending convention members (subject to relevant age restrictions in line with film classifications). All screenings will take place at the Kansas City Convention Center.

A full screening schedule can be found at www.midamericon2.org/home/whats-happening/programming/film-festival/.

[Thanks to Henry Lien, Steven H Silver, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Dawn Incognito.]

Pixel Scroll 2/23/16 The Lurker at the 5% Threshold

(1) THE PUPPET’S INSIDE STORY. Mary Robinette Kowal livestreamed “Ask a puppet about publishing” today. The answer to the old standby “Where do you get your ideas?” got perhaps the truest answer that has ever been given to this question.

(2) GREG KETTER MAKES NEWS. The legendary Minneapolis bookstore is featured in Twin Cities Geek — “From the Stands: DreamHaven Books Is Still Standing”.

Dreamhaven

A later memory I have of the store is hearing Neil Gaiman read his book The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish there upon the book’s rerelease in 2004. I remember maybe 35 or 40 people in the store, which can’t be correct—there must have been more than that to see Neil Gaiman—though I’m certain it was a number far smaller than you’d expect to see today, in the age of expanded cons, fandom, and the Internet social-media grapevine. Except for running into Gaiman a few weeks later at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival (and a few other places, actually—that was a weird summer), I wouldn’t see him again in the flesh until an MPR Wits show last year, crammed into the Fitzgerald Theater with over 1,000 other fans. That show was a little closer to what one would expect of a Gaiman sighting, where Neil is a smudge, his pale face and customary black clothes treating us to an impromptu and sparsely populated Mummenschanz show against the stage’s dark backdrop, not at all the mild, T-shirted man with the roiling mind, reading to us about the best deal you could get in a trade for your dad.

… Last April, DreamHaven returned to normal store hours with the help of Alice Bentley, a former business partner of Ketter’s. The two co-founded the Chicago bookstore The Stars Our Destination in 1998, which Bentley ran by herself from 1994 until 2004, when she closed the store, moved to Seattle, and got out of the book business. Says Ketter of Bentley, “She had been out of books for a while, and she really wanted to get back in. So, she moved to [Minneapolis] from Seattle and she’s partnering with me . . . She’s very knowledgeable; in the last 11 or 12 years since she left, things have changed a great deal [but] she’s been very happily relearning the book business.” The two now run the business as partners, with Ketter as the “go-to guy for questions” and Bentley employing her “love of spreadsheets” to keep the business on track.

(3) SPURNING PASSION. Andrew Porter recalls, “I wanted to reprint a Tolkien poem first published in the 1940s, and Tolkien refused me permission — and then he refused a whole bunch of other people including Ballantine Books, and it’s still not been ‘officially’ published. But some people got tired of waiting for “official” publication, and here it is, on the web: “The lay of Aotrou and Itroun” (1945).

A witch there was, who webs could weave
to snare the heart and wits to reave,
who span dark spells with spider-craft,
and as she span she softly laughed;
a drink she brewed of strength and dread
to bind the quick and stir the dead;
In a cave she housed where winging bats
their harbour sought, and owls and cats
from hunting came with mournful cries,
night-stalking near with needle-eyes.

(4) TELL ME IF YOU’VE SEEN THIS BEFORE. At MeTV, “7 reused props on television that will make you do a double-take”.

Neosaurus Disguise:

Lost in Space’s creator Irwin Allen liked to recycle props, but one of his most notable ones was reused by another iconic ’60s TV show. The neosaurus disguise first appeared in Lost in Space:

(5) NEW SAWYER NOVEL. Robert J. Sawyer’s 23rd novel Quantum Night will be released March 1 in hardcover, ebook (all formats), and as an audiobook from Audible.

Robert-J-Sawyer-novel-Quantum-Night

What if the person next to you was a psychopath? And that person over there? And your boss? Your spouse? That’s the chilling possibility brought forth in bestselling author Robert J. Sawyer‘s new novel Quantum Night. Psychopaths aren’t just murdering monsters: anyone devoid of empathy and conscience fits the bill, and Sawyer’s new science-fiction thriller suggests that there are as many as two billion psychopaths worldwide.

A far-out notion? Not at all. As Oxford Professor Kevin Dutton, the bestselling author of The Wisdom of Psychopaths, says, “Sawyer has certainly done his homework about psychopaths and he understands well that, far from being just the occasional headline-grabbing serial killer, they’re everywhere.”

Sawyer says: “Reviewers often call me an optimistic writer — one of the few positive voices left in a science-fiction field that has grown increasingly dystopian. I like to view my optimism as a rational position rather than just naïveté, and so I felt it was necessary to devote a novel to confronting the question of evil head on: what causes it, why it flourishes, why there seems to be more and more of it — and what we can do about it. The theme is simple: the worst lie humanity has ever told itself is, ‘You can’t change human nature.’”

Click to read the opening chapters. Details of the Canadian and U.S. stops on Sawyer’s book tour can be found here.

(6) OSHIRO STORY CONTINUES. Here are links to new posts dealing with Mark Oshiro’s published harassment complaint.

The Kansas City Science Fiction and Fantasy Society, Inc. (KaCSFFS) is the sponsor of ConQuesT, the oldest convention in the central states region. The KaCSFFS Board of Directors oversees ConQuesT, but the day-to-day operations of the convention are done by the volunteer chairs and convention committee, who change from year to year.

In light of recent issues we feel that more oversight of the convention committee as a whole is necessary by the KaCSFFS Board of Directors. This is being addressed by the current Board of Directors as we speak.

KaCSFFS is profoundly sorry that these issues arose, and the policies in place were not followed through to completion. We are taking steps to ensure that future complaints are addressed appropriately and in compliance with current policies and procedures in place.

Posted by Jan Gephardt

The KaCSFFS Board of Directors is: Margene Bahm, President, Earline “Cricket” Beebe, Treasurer, Kristina Hiner, Secretary, Jan Gephardt, Communications Officer, Keri O’Brien, ConQuesT Chairperson for 2016, and Diana Bailey, Registered Agent.

From SFF and romance convention attendees alike. To the point that I’ve applied some probably unfair stereotyping of my own, in deciding that media and writers’ conventions in Those Four States (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri) are probably off limits to me. If I won a lottery tomorrow and travel costs were not an issue…I probably wouldn’t change my decision.

I get told, rightfully so: ‘That’s unfair. We have lovely, diverse people at X convention or Y festival! By not attending, you are letting the bad people win!”

True. I know some good people in those places. I’d love to visit them. There is a large romance convention in Texas and an even bigger SFF gathering in Kansas City that I *should* attend for career reasons. (Except that the romance con has a dismal record respecting M/M romance authors, and I’m not sure I’m at the professional level to go to the SFF con yet.)

By not attending, I’m not validating some indefensible behavior from con committees who keep getting away with this shit, and use fans and sane staffers as their human shields. I’m not paying into the tax coffers of hotels, cities, and corrupt hypocritical legislatures who still seem to be stuck in Pre-Civil Rights America. By myself, I’m a nobody, and I only have power over what I personally spend and buy.

I was unlucky enough to get tapped for a self-pub panel at CONQuest (Kansas City 2013) that consisted of me and two gatekeepers who bloviated the entire time, talking over anything I had to say. Lawrence M. Schoen was the moderator who opened his introductory email to me with a declaration that nobody should self publish unless they’d already been vetted by the publishing industry. He also used the term “politically correct” which prompted the following response from me:

“Please do not use the term ‘politically correct’ in my presence. My colleagues and mentors include survivors of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the Soviet GULag. Current American usage of this term trivializes these mass atrocities in the service of defending lazy-minded reflexive bigotry.”

In response, he doubled down on his insistence on right to say anything he liked.

On the panel, Silena Rosen was particularly notable for her crude, hostile manner as well as rant about how self-pub was shit, fanfic was public masturbation, yadda yadda yadda. Schoen wasn’t so much a moderator as a partner in the pile-on. I had quality assurance experience from multiple industry jobs, and a whole list of suggestions for editorial collectives and the like. They talked right over me as loudly as they could. None of that stuff even got said.

I felt the whole time as if I were fighting with both hands tied behind my back. I was there to give the audience new ideas and perspectives and to present myself with courtesy and professionalism; they were there to beat me up in public.

I don’t know anything about the Oshiro thing. Is that the one where the guy was the GoH at a con and didn’t get treated well? I’ve seen that in passing is all. I can only assume that if File 770 is upset over it, they’re either on the wrong side, or just plain stupid.

A bunch of comments from File 770 are reproduced in that same thread. Which is great, because it proves how many of Larry’s fans find this blog despite his refusing to allow pingbacks from my posts, and how they force the rest to read the material anyway.

(7) REASONS WHY DOING NOTHING IS WORSE. Jim C. Hines reviews the recent history of convention antiharassment policy enforcement in “The Importance of Having and ENFORCING Harassment Policies at Cons”

I get it. It’s one thing to write up policies on harassment and appropriate behavior for a convention. It’s another to find yourself in the midst of a mess where you have to enforce them.

Emotions are running high. The person accused of violating the policy isn’t a mustache-twirling villain, but someone who’s been attending your con for years. They’ve got a lot of friends at the con — possibly including you. If you enforce the consequences spelled out in your policies, someone’s going to be upset. Someone’s going to be angry. Someone’s going to feel hurt. It feels like a no-win situation.

And it is, in a way. There’s nothing you can do to make everyone happy. But we’ve seen again and again that there’s a clear losing strategy, and that is to do nothing. To try to ignore your harassment policy and hope the problem goes away on its own.

It won’t. As unpleasant as it is to be dealing with a report of harassment, doing nothing will make it worse. Here are just a few examples from recent years.

(8) THE F IN SF IS NOT FILLET. Seeing a comment on File 770 about all the fiction with “bone” in the title, Fred Coppersmith recommended:

(9) HENCEFORTH THEY WILL BE CALLED FUCHSIA HOLES. Gazing at black holes – “What does a black hole actually look like?” at Vox.

Impossibly dense, deep, and powerful, black holes reveal the limits of physics. Nothing can escape one, not even light.

But even though black holes excite the imagination like few other concepts in science, the truth is that no astronomer has actually seen one….

We do have indirect images of black holes, however

Some of the best indirect images of black holes come from the Chandra X-ray Observatory, where Edmonds works. “The friction and the high velocities of material forming out of a black hole naturally produces X-rays,” he says. And Chandra is a space telescope specially designed to see those X-rays.

For example, the Chandra observatory documented these X-ray “burps” emanating from the merger of two galaxies around 26 million light-years away. The astrophysicists suspect that these burps came from a massive black hole: …

Similarly, the fuchsia blobs on this image are regions of intense X-ray radiation, thought to be black holes that formed when two galaxies (the blue and pink rings) collided: …

Be sure to check out the fuzzy but fascinating video showing the proper motion of stars around an apparent black hole.

(10) YES THERE IS A DRAGON. Pete’s Dragon official teaser trailer.

(11) FARTHER BACK TO THE FUTURE. TechnoBuffalo declares “This fan-made Back to the Future prequel trailer is amazing”.

There’s never going to be a Back to the Future sequel or reboot—at least as long as director Robert Zemeckis is alive. With that in mind, what if there was a prequel? Didn’t think of that, did you? I sure didn’t, but after seeing the trailer above, I’d totally be on board.

If you’ve never seen BTTF (what’s wrong with you?), it begins with Doc Brown revealing to Marty that the only way to produce the 1.21 Gigawatts necessary to time travel is to use plutonium. The prequel would be a story about how Doc Brown gets hands on the plutonium, which he only mentions in passing in the original film.

The prequel trailer was brilliantly edited together by Tyler Hopkins, who used footage from various movies featuring Christopher Lloyd (the actor who played Dr. Emmett Brown).

 

(12) HE’S A MARVEL. “Stan Lee Makes a Cameo During Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns 30th Anniversary Panel”. (Check out the photo at the post — Stan looks younger than Frank!)

In Los Angeles to celebrate the 30th Anniversary Edition of the book’s release, Miller sat down with IGN to talk about The Dark Knight Returns’ enduring legacy, what makes Batman relevant, and why he keeps coming back to the character. He then took the stage for a Q&A moderated by DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio, where he discussed his initial apprehension at reinventing such an established character, the impact he’s had on future creators, and who would win in a fight between Batman and Captain America.

The evening took an unexpected turn right out the gate as Miller’s panel was interrupted by an audience heckler. That heckler turned out to be none other than Marvel Comics legend/cameo king Stan Lee, who was on hand to celebrate pal Miller’s accomplishments. Lee of course demanded to know who would win in a showdown between publisher mainstays Batman and Captain America, to which Miller slyly responded “Robin.”

(13) THE ICON’S IMAGE. Abraham Riesman profiles the icon in “It’s Stan Lee’s Universe” at Vulture.

A comic-book Methuselah, Lee is also, to a great degree, the single most significant author of the pop-culture universe in which we all now live. This is a guy who, in a manic burst of imagination a half-century ago, helped bring into being The Amazing Spider-Man, The Avengers, The X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, and the dozens of other Marvel titles he so famously and consequentially penned at Marvel Comics in his axial epoch of 1961 to 1972. That world-shaking run revolutionized entertainment and the then-dying superhero-comics industry by introducing flawed, multidimensional, and relatably human heroes — many of whom have enjoyed cultural staying power beyond anything in contemporary fiction, to rival the most enduring icons of the movies (an industry they’ve since proceeded to almost entirely remake in their own image). And in revitalizing the comics business, Lee also reinvented its language: His rhythmic, vernacular approach to dialogue transformed superhero storytelling from a litany of bland declarations to a sensational symphony of jittery word-jazz — a language that spoke directly and fluidly to comics readers, enfolding them in a common ecstatic idiom that became the bedrock of what we think of now as “fan culture.” Perhaps most important for today’s Hollywood, he crafted the concept of an intricate, interlinked “shared universe,” in which characters from individually important franchises interact with and affect one another to form an immersive fictional tapestry — a blueprint from which Marvel built its cinematic empire, driving nearly every other studio to feverishly do the same. And which enabled comics to ascend from something like cultural bankruptcy to the coarse-sacred status they enjoy now, as American kitsch myth.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Moshe Feder, Paul Weimer, Andrew Porter, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]