Pixel Scroll 8/24/21 We Can Scroll Where We Want To, We Can Leave Your Files Behind

(1) NOW PLAYING IN THE THEATER OF YOUR MIND. Pat Cadigan pointed Facebook readers to the 23rd Legion’s review of her forthcoming book: Alien – Alien 3: The Lost Screenplay by William Gibson by Pat Cadigan”.

… This story is gritty as all hell. Focusing largely on Hicks and Bishop after being “rescued” with Ripley and Newt in the Sulaco where they ended up at the conclusion of Aliens, this version of Alien 3 goes from “Ehhh, things might be ok.” to “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” to “Oh yeah, everything is totally screwed.”

We see a whole lot of evolution in the Xenomorphs in this story. Their adaptation and speedy evolution is both terrifying and, for franchise fans, fascinating given the total lore that already exists. These bugs are a total game changer when it comes to their propagation and swarm-like spread….

(2) THEY DID THE MONSTER STAMP. On September 24, 2021, in Topeka, KS, the United States Postal Service® will issue the Message Monsters stamps (Forever® priced at the First-Class Mail® rate) in four designs, “Message Monsters Ready to Bring a Smile to Your Mail”.

The U.S. Postal Service will celebrate Message Monsters with the most playful, customizable Forever stamp design ever. The four monster illustrations on this pane of 20 stamps invite interactivity with dozens of self-adhesive accessories on the selvage. The monster-ific accoutrements include cartoony voice balloons and thought bubbles with exclamations and salutations, hats and crowns, hearts, stars, crazy daisies and other fun flair.

Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the pane with original artwork by Elise Gravel, author and illustrator of popular children’s books.

(3) TUNE IN TO FM. But if you want to spend a lot more for monster art, Heritage Auctions can fix you up: “Basil Gogos Famous Monsters Cover Art from the Kevin Burns Collection” goes on the block November 5-7. Article by Joe Moe, well-known 4SJ batman.

In 1958, a monster magazine intended to be a one-off hit the newsstands – and sold out! This specialty mag was Famous Monsters of Filmland, and would go on to become the longest published, and one of the most influential entertainment periodicals, ever! Throughout the 1960s, publisher James Warren and editor Forrest J Ackerman’s FM did something no other magazine of the era had. It turned the spotlight from the stars in front of the camera to the artists behind the camera. The people who actually made the movie magic that captured the imagination of audiences. Basil Gogos’ vivid cover paintings became the freaky face of and “gateway” to the magazine. A magazine that was a vessel for the exciting, creative world kids dreamed of being a part of. Gogos created hallmarks of the “big bang,” that inspired legendary careers. A Basil Gogos FM cover painting is impossible to find…until now.

Basil Gogos’ (1929-2017) paintings brought black and white monsters to vivid, colorful life….

(4) SURPLUS TO REQUIREMENTS. Benjamin C. Kinney does an in-depth discussion of “Short Fiction Rejection Letters: Best practices and expectations” at the SFWA Blog.

…Most markets send form-letter rejections. These are typical and acceptable; other options take work, and more work per submission means slower responses. Vague rejection language like “it didn’t work for us” is common, and means exactly what it says. Form rejections can be brief, but the market’s staff should be aware of the emotional impact of words, and write a letter that feels supportive rather than dismissive.

Some markets use “tiered forms,” which means they have a handful of different form letters, and the choice reflects something about the staff’s reaction to your submission….

(5) PRESERVING FANHISTORY. The latest FANAC.org newsletter was distributed today. When it’s online the link will be here — F. A. N. A. C. Inc. (fanac.org). An excerpt:

Behind the Scenes or How the Sausage is Made:
     Finding Anne Steul: Anne Steul is not a familiar name to most of us. In June, Rob Hansen sent us a scan of Fantum 1, edited by Anne Steul, who he remarked had also organized the first German SF con with some help from Jim and Greg Benford. That led to an expansion of Anne Steul’s Fancyclopedia article, followed by more biographical data on her from Rob Hansen. We asked Thomas Recktenwald if he could tell us more. Thomas provided insight into why she left fandom, and a link to Rainer Eisfield’s book, Zwischen Barsoon und Peenemunde (Between Barsoom and Peenemunde) that had 10 pages on Anne Steul, and German fandom of the time, including bibliographic data and a photo. Next, Joe asked Jim and Greg Benford for additional info and Greg forwarded a few 2013 issues of CounterClock, a fanzine from Wolf von Witting published in Italy, that had articles on early German fandom. So now we have expanded our knowledge, added her Fantum, and added to the Fancyclopedia entry. And that’s how the Fan History sausage is made. As a result, Thomas Recktenwald is helping us add information about German fandom to Fancyclopedia. Thomas is a long-time contributor to The Fan History Project having provided many photos, fanzines and  recordings.

(6) DON’T IT JUST FRY YOUR SHORTS? [Item by Rob Thornton.] Here’s another “SF written by a mainstream writer” example. French guy writes a novel about “what if the Incas invaded Europe in the 16th century” and it is getting all the attention, including media deals. “How a French Novelist Turns the Tables on History” in the New York Times. (Registration required.)

…It’s an imaginary scenario — of the Incas of Peru invading 16th-century Europe, not the other way around, which is what happened in 1532 — that haunted and inspired Binet.

“There’s something melancholic in my book,” he said in an interview at his home last month, “because it offers the conquered a revenge that they never really had.”

The reality for the Incas, like many other Indigenous populations, was that they were killed and exploited, Binet added. “That’s what both fascinates and horrifies me: You can think what you like of the past but you can’t change it.”

Binet, 49, has made his name writing historical novels that blur the boundaries between fact and fiction. His debut “HHhH,” which was translated into 34 languages (including English in 2012), melded history, fiction and autobiography to explore the events surrounding the assassination of the Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich. He followed it up in 2015 with “The Seventh Function of Language,” a murder mystery set in the 1980s that poked fun at the posturing of Parisian intellectuals. The French magazine L’Express called it “the most insolent novel of the year.”…

(7) TGIFF FILM FESTIVAL. [Item by Darius Luca Hupov.] The second edition of “The Galactic Imaginarium” Film Festival will take place in hybrid format at location, in Romania and online (TGI Sci-Fi and Fantasy Film Festival), from September 15-19, 2021.

The festival will screen 66 short and feature films, in 4 categories: Science Fiction, Fantasy/Fantastic, Comedy/Parody (SFF) and Animation (SFF). The public will see the films at the local drive-in cinema (due to the pandemic restrictions) and online, at the festival streaming platform. Also, the program of the festival (panels, debates, presentations, workshops, contests, etc.) will be present online, on ZOOM and the Discord channel of the Festival (https://discord.gg/hgDjxCMT).

In the program you can meet our Special Guests:

  • Josh Malerman, the New York TImes best selling author of Bird Box and Goblin
  • Naomi Kritzer (won the Hugo Award, Lodestar Award, Edgar Award, and Minnesota Book Award)
  • John Wiswell, a Nebula winner, and a World Fantasy and Hugo finalist
  • Representatives from Seed&Spark, Mogul Productions, Storycom…

And many, many more. You can find more details and get an online General Access Ticket here.

(8) N3F’S FRANSON AWARD. Patricia Williams-King’s service to the National Fantasy Fan Federation has been recognized with the Franson Award by N3F President George Phillies:

The Franson Award was originally called the N3F President’s Award. It was renamed in honor of Donald Franson. This award started because past N3F Presidents have wanted to give a show of appreciation to people – even those who may have won the Kaymar Award, which you can only win once. Presidential Statement Patricia Williams-King has faithfully and energetically served the N3F for many years, most recently by maintaining the N3F Round Robin Bureau. Round Robin groups discuss a topic by circulating a papermail letter bundle from one member to the next. If one member of a group gafiates, the group stops functioning. The Bureau Head has the task of restarting groups, so to speak bringing them back to life. Through thick and through thin, in the face of great obstacles, personal and fannish challenges, and other hindrances to smooth operation, Patricia Williams-King gave us an N3F Bureau that largely continued to function. As your President, it is my privilege and honor to give a 2021 Franson Award to Patricia WilliamsKing. 

(9) MULTIVERSE NOW. “Strange New Spider-Man Trailer Drops And, Yes, Marvel Is Officially Going There” warns Yahoo!

The trailer for “Spider-Man: No Way Home” dropped on Monday — hours after a version leaked online — and it confirms months of rumors over the newest phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

They’re not waiting until next year’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” to open up the multiverse. 

In the trailer, Peter Parker accidentally messes up a Doctor Strange spell, creating a rift that brings out elements of previous Spider-Man film eras, which didn’t share much of a timeline… until now…

(10) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1999 – Twenty-two years ago, the Compton Crook Award, Baltcon’s Award for the Best First Novel, went to James Stoddard for The High House. It is the first novel of his Evenmere trilogy that was continued in The False House and which was just completed in 2015 with his Evenmere novel.  It had been been published by Warner Aspect the previous year.  It would also be nominated for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature in the year the illustrated edition of Stardust would garner that Award. It was also nominated for a Locus Best SF Novel Award. If you’ve not read it, Stoddard has let us put the first chapter up at Green Man and you can read it here.

(11) TODAY’S DAY.

Shed a tear.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 24, 1899 Gaylord Du Bois. He was a writer of comic book stories and comic strips, as well as Big Little Books. He wrote Tarzan for Dell Comics and Gold Key Comics from the Forties to early Seventies.) He was one of the writers for Space Family Robinson which was the basis for the Lost in Space series. (Died 1993.)
  • Born August 24, 1899 Jorge Luis Borges. I’m reasonably sure my first encounter with him was at University with the assignment of The Library of Babel. I’m not deeply read in him but I also loved The Book of Imaginary Beings, and though not genre, recommend The Last Interview and Other Conversations for an excellent look at him as a writer. (Died 1985.)
  • Born August 24, 1932 William Morgan Sheppard. Best remembered I think as Blank Reg in Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future. Genre wise I’d add him being the Klingon Prison Warden In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Merrit in The Prestige, the rather scary Soul Hunter on Babylon 5 and a Vulcan Science Minister in Star Trek. He appeared in a seventies Broadway production of Sherlock Holmes though I can’t tell you who he played. (Died 2019.)
  • Born August 24, 1934 Kenny Baker. Certainly his portrayal of R2-D2 in the Star Wars franchise is what he’s best known for but he’s also been in Circus of HorrorsWombling Free, Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader series, The Elephant ManSleeping BeautyTime BanditsWillowFlash Gordon and Labyrinth. Personally I think his best role was as Fidgit in Time Bandits. (Died 2016.)
  • Born August 24, 1936 A. S. Byatt, 85. Author of three genre novels, two of which I’m familiar with, Possession: A Romance which became a rather decent film, and winning the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature for The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye, and one I’ve never heard of, Ragnarok: The End of the Gods,  but I’m actually much, much more fond of her short fiction. I’d start with the Little Black Book of Stories and Angels & Insects collections. 
  • Born August 24, 1951 Tony Amendola, 70. Prolly best known for being the Jaffa master Bra’tac on Stargate SG-1. He’s also had recurring roles as Edouard Kagame of Liber8 on Continuum and on Once Upon a Time as Pinocchio’s creator, Geppetto. His list of one-off genre appearances is extensive and includes AngelCharmed,  Lois & Clark, Space: Above and Beyond the Crusade spin-off of Babylon 5X FilesVoyagerDirk Gently’s Holistic Detective AgencyTerminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Alias, She-Wolf of London and Kindred: The Embraced. He’s also been a voice actor in gaming with roles in such games as World of Warcraft: Warlords of DraenorWorld of Warcraft: Legion and Workd of Final Fantasy. (CE)
  • Born August 24, 1957 Stephen Fry, 64. He’s Gordon Deitrich in V for Vendetta, and he’s the Master of Lakedown in The Hobbit franchise. His best role is as Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows though he made an interesting narrator in the film version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and not to be overlooked is that he’s the narrator for all seven of the Potter novels for the UK audiobook recordings. Interestingly when first commissioned, the eleventh episode of Doctor Who’s second series with David Tennant was to be called “The 1920s”.  It was based on a script written by Stephen Fry. It was never produced.
  • Born August 24, 1958 Lisa A. Barnett. Wife of Melissa Scott. Some of her works were co-authored with her: The Armor of Light, Point of Hopes: A Novel of Astreiant and Point of Dreams: A Novel of Astreiant. They wrote one short story, “The Carmen Miranda Gambit”. (Died 2006.)

(13) D&D. The Kingfisher & Wombat party resume their adventures. Thread starts here.

(14) SERIOUS ABOUT SERIES. Electric Theist shares the fruit of their labors and rates the finalists “The Hugo Award for Best Series: 2021 Reviews”.

Reading the nominations for the Hugo Awards for Best Series takes dedication. I have read at least the first three books of every single one of the series and given the series a grade and review based upon that reading. If I have not read the entire series, I have noted it in my review of the series. I would love to talk about these series with you, dear readers, and want to know what you think about them. Which is your favorite? Have you read them all? This year’s nominations are a pile of excellent books, so it’s worth diving in.

(15) BABY STEPS. “Japan tests rotating detonation engine for the first time in space” reports Inceptive Mind.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has announced that it has successfully demonstrated the operation of a “rotating detonation engine” for the first time in space. The novelty of the technologies in question is that such systems obtain a large amount of thrust by using much less fuel compared to conventional rocket engines, which is quite advantageous for space exploration.

On July 27, the Japanese agency launched a pair of futuristic propulsion systems into space to carry out the first tests…

…The rotating detonation engine uses a series of controlled explosions that travel around an annular channel in a continuous loop. This process generates a large amount of super-efficient thrust coming from a much smaller engine using significantly less fuel – which also means sending less weight on a space launch. According to JAXA, it has the potential to be a game-changer for deep space exploration.

The rocket began the test demonstrations after the first stage separated, burning the rotating detonation engine for six seconds, while a second pulse detonation engine operated for two seconds on three occasions. The pulse engine uses detonation waves to combust the fuel and oxidizer mixture.

When the rocket was recovered after the demonstration, it was discovered that the rotary engine produced about 500 Newtons of thrust, which is only a fraction of what conventional rocket engines can achieve in space….

(16) ROLE PLAYING GAME. “Invasion of the Robot Umpires” in The New Yorker.

…Two years ago, DeJesus became the first umpire in a regular-season game anywhere to use something called the Automated Ball-Strike System. Most players refer to it as the “robo-umpire.” Major League Baseball had designed the system and was testing it in the Atlantic League, where DeJesus works. The term “robo-umpire” conjures a little R2-D2 positioned behind the plate, beeping for strikes and booping for balls. But, for aesthetic and practical reasons, M.L.B. wanted human umpires to announce the calls, as if playacting their former roles. So DeJesus had his calls fed to him through an earpiece, connected to a modified missile-tracking system. The contraption looked like a large black pizza box with one glowing green eye; it was mounted above the press box. When the first pitch came in, a recorded voice told DeJesus it was a strike. He announced it, and no one in the ballpark said anything.

…Baseball is a game of waiting and talking. For a hundred and fifty years or so, the strike zone—the imaginary box over home plate, seventeen inches wide, and stretching from the batter’s knees to the middle of his chest—has been the game’s animating force. The argument between manager and umpire is where the important disputes over its boundaries are litigated. The first umpires were volunteers who wore top hats, at whom spectators “hurled curses, bottles and all manner of organic and inorganic debris,” according to a paper by the Society for American Baseball Research. “Organic debris” wasn’t defined, but one wonders. A handful of early umpires were killed….

(17) A DIFFERENT KIND OF DOGSLED. “The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile Joins Lyft” reports Food & Wine. I’m wondering who would be the ideal convention GoH to be picked up by this ride.

…Starting tomorrow, your Lyft XL ride may send your jaw dropping to the ground when the driver arrives in… the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

From August 25 to 27, Oscar Mayer and Lyft will be offering free Wienermobile trips in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Atlanta — which were chosen because they are “the nation’s hottest rideshare cities.” The brand says riders can simply request a Lyft XL and one of Oscar Mayer’s Hotdoggers — the name given to those who drive the Wienermobile — may show up in a 27-foot hot dog on wheels instead. (Assuming it hasn’t been pulled over on the way.)

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In Transformers: Dark of the Moon Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says in the third Transformers movie, Sam Witwicky may be “smelly, whiny, and stinky,” but he’s easily able to find a new supermodel to be his girlfriend and let him live in her apartment rent-free because he can’t find a job.  We also learn that Chernobyl happened because of a secret Transformers battle, which leads the producer to say that “the worst nuclear disaster in history was caused by Hasbro products.”

[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Dann, Rob Thornton, Darius Luca Hupov, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ  for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

Longshot Press Renews Trolling

Longshot Press, run by Daniel Scott White, opened a new round of trolling its critics this weekend.

One avenue of attack was the email some received today (click for a larger image).

Two of White’s magazines were the subject of complaints in February 2020, first publicly identified by Benjamin C,. Kinney. The opening paragraph of File 770’s roundup “Is This Practice Unreal or Unfit? It’s Both” recaps what the issues were at the time:

Unreal and Unfit magazines use Thinkerbeat Reader to “chart… the authors that we thought did really well with a story submission.” But these are not stories they bought – six days ago they tweeted out a link to the list of stories they rejected. The page had names, titles, and a rating between one and five stars. One problem: none of the authors had given them permission to do so.

SFWA followed up with a statement on Facebook warning about these practices in March 2020. After that, Longshot Press owner Daniel Scott White spent the rest of the year attacking SFWA in a series of eight posts on his personal blog The Land of Words. In other posts he contended the public rejection ratings were really a form of award. On the Longshot Press website itself he sought to discredit SFWA in “A Clear Bias at the SFWA” [Internet Archive link].

Unfit Magazine’s Twitter account has trolled Kinney and Jim C. Hines before (Hines, because in December he responded to the Longshot Press attack on SFWA in a Twitter thread that starts here.) Here are screencaps of Unfit’s new round of attacks.

People’s approach to trolls swings back and forth between denying them the oxygen of attention and exposing their abuses to the sunlight. This weekend the sun came out.   

Jim C. Hines tweeted:

Benjamin C. Kinney acknowledged the attempt:

Pixel Scroll 12/16/20 She’s Got A Pixel To File

(1) PAY THE WRITER. In “Star Wars novelist Alan Dean Foster’s Disney royalties issue, explained” at Polygon, Andrew Liptak examines the terrain of what is likely to be an uphill struggle, documents the increasing number of writers with the same grievance, and gives an overview of what some have heard from lawyers.

…Still, after the success of Star Wars, Foster found himself a go-to person for movie novelizations. Over the years, he’s penned dozens of novelizations for franchises like AliensStar TrekDark Star, The Black Hole, Clash of the Titans, Outland, The Thing, Krull, The Last Starfighter, Starman, The Chronicles of Riddick, and others. They were all written in addition to his own original novels.

The nature of a work-for-hire contract means an author who’s written a tie-in novel will have little control over where their story ends up; how characters, situations, or details are used after they turn in their manuscript; and even the copyright of the work itself. It’s a tradeoff: Foster might not own the book, but the product may provide a steady revenue stream for years, especially if the franchise is popular with audiences. Write enough of them, and those tributaries will feed a healthy river.

Shortly after Disney acquired 20th Century Fox last year, Foster says that his royalties for his Alien novels stopped coming. He and his agent first attempted to resolve the issue with the book’s publisher, Warner Books. According to Foster’s agent Vaughn Hansen, while Foster and the organization [SFWA] were working to uncover the provenance of those rights, it became clear there were also missing payments for his Star Wars novels….

Unpaid royalties appear to be an issue that affects other writers. Four additional authors have come forward to Polygon to confirm that they haven’t been paid royalties for work now owned by Disney, for works that appear to have been transferred to other publishers: Rob MacGregor, who wrote the tie-in novel for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, as well as several additional tie-in novels; Donald Glut, author of the Empire Strikes Back novelization; James Kahn, author Return of the Jedi and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom novelizations; and Michael A. Stackpole, author of the X-Wing comics, Star Wars: Union, and Star Wars: Mara Jade — By the Emperor’s Hand. Without seeing contracts or the full details of the nature of the transfer of property from Lucasfilm to Disney, it’s hard to know if each author falls into the same situation as Foster, but the result appears to be the same: They haven’t received money that they feel entitled to for the work that they published….

(2) A NOBEL PURSUIT. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination’s Into the Impossible podcast has reached its milestone 100th episode: “100: Barry Barish – Black Holes, Nobel Prizes & The Imposter Syndrome”

Barry Barish is an emeritus professor at Caltech, where he has worked since 1963. He became director of the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) project in 1997, which led to his Nobel Prize in 2017. He has many other awards and is a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences and American Physical Society, of which he was also president.

Barry joins our Nobel Minds playlist on the INTO THE IMPOSSIBLE podcast. He shared the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics with Rai Weiss and Kip Thorne “for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves.” We discuss Barry’s long and remarkable career that covers many disciplines within physics. It’s not the standard model, but he has a confidence about himself, and his contributions that make it seem perfectly natural to have been part of such varied, noteworthy projects during his career. Despite that, Barry also admits to feeling like an imposter at times, especially when singing the same Nobel register as Einstein. What a moment!

(3) A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN. Not Pulp Covers is the place to admire Alphonse de Neuville’s engravings for 20000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne.

(4) SCREEN TIME. Kellie Doherty analyzes the experience of “Being a Panelist in a Virtual World” at Fantasy-Faction.

As an author, one key thing I always need to be doing is marketing, and events are wonderful marketing tools. Events allow us authors and other creatives to reach a new audience base, network with fellow creatives, and get our names out there. It allows people to gush about what they love while also opening doors for others who are looking to get into those fields. It even helps to demystify the careers of creatives. Plus, events are great for selling—vendor tables are usually bustling, and panels/workshops are key places to chat about all the creative endeavors.

But what about virtual events? Is it still a great experience for the panelists?…

(5) DON’T TOUCH THAT DIAL. “Stephen King Has Thoughts About Stephen King TV Shows” – and the New York Times takes notes as he shares them. For example —

‘It’

1990

This two-part ABC mini-series, an adaptation of King’s sprawling 1986 novel about a child-murdering monster in small-town Maine, is perhaps best remembered for Tim Curry’s frightening performance as Pennywise the Clown.

“I liked that series a lot, and I thought Tim Curry made a great Pennywise,” King said. “It scared the [expletive] out of a lot of kids at that time.”

In fact, King credits the impact of the series on children with the later success of the film version, which starred Bill Skarsgard as the diabolical clown and was a box-office sensation in 2017. (A 2019 sequel, based on the second half of the novel, was similarly successful.)

“One of the reasons the movie was a big hit was because kids remembered seeing it on TV,” King said. “So they went to see it.”

(6) POINT OF NO RETURN. “‘Heroes’ Was Supposed to Be Leonard Roberts’ Big Break. Instead, It Nearly Broke Him” – the actor tells Variety readers about the end of his time on the once-popular show.

As he details in his account below, he experienced immediate friction with his main co-star Ali Larter — and perceived indifference from creator and showrunner Tim Kring — that led him to feel singled out as a Black actor, a feeling that only grew more intense after he was fired from the show after its first season.

…As the first season played out, I learned two other non-white lead characters would be killed off and I started to wonder whether D.L. would suffer the same fate. His presence on the show kept getting smaller, and by the mid-season finale he had been shot more times than 2Pac. I even had my management inquire about the possibility of me being killed off. While I was initially thankful for the opportunity, the experience had become creatively unfulfilling and I thought moving on might be best for everyone. I was told, however, that the production’s response was “We love Leonard.” And in March 2007, while filming the penultimate episode of the season, a producer told me that I was indeed returning for Season 2. I took it as a positive sign, and looked forward to new possibilities.

One of our last publicity obligations that first season involved a photoshoot for Entertainment Weekly, in which cast members, based on their characters’ relationship on the show, were featured on collector’s edition covers. The release of the covers was to coincide with the network’s upfront presentation for the 2007-2008 season in New York.

Upon arriving backstage at Radio City Music Hall for a rehearsal, I caught my co-star’s eye. “I’m hearing our cover is selling the least of all of them,” she told me. It was the first and only thing she said to me that night and I believed the subtext was clear: I was tarnishing her brand….

(7) ANOTHER REASON TO BEWARE. Longshot Press owner Daniel Scott White, publisher of Unfit and Unreal magazines, doubles down on his unhinged strategy of making enemies of SFWA writers.

Two of his magazines were the subject of complaints last February, covered by File 770’s roundup: “Is This Practice Unreal or Unfit? It’s Both”. Then two weeks ago White called for submissions to the magazines, but added “Tip: SFWA members not eligible” (see here, item #2.)

White’s latest assault is against Benjamin C. Kinney, first person to put his name to the complaints brought out in February. Thread starts here.

And White is also working on a Nixonian enemies list.

(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 2008 — Twelve years ago, Catherynne M. Valente had the unusual honor of winning the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature for not one novel but for two novels in the same series, The Orphan’s Tales: In The Night Garden and  its sequel, The Orphan’s Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice. It is the only time that this has happened as far as we can determine. An Otherwise Award would also go to The Orphan’s Tales: In The Night Garden

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 16, 1880 – Anna Alice Chapin.  Children’s book from the Victor Herbert operetta Babes in Toyland with its libretticist Glen MacDonough.  Half a dozen more fantasies; ten other books; shorter stories for magazines and newspapers; a play with her husband, and three more stories, made into films.  (Died 1920) [JH]  
  • Born December 16, 1917 Arthur C. Clarke. When I was resident in Sri Lanka courtesy of Uncle Sam in the early Eighties, nearly every American ex-pat I ran into was reading The Fountains of Paradise. The tea plantations he described therein are very awesome.  I never saw him but he was well known among the small British community there and I passed by his residence one day. I’ll admit that I’ve not read that much by him — Childhood’s EndRendezvous with Rama and that novel are the only long form works by him I’ve read.  I’ve read a lot of short fiction including of course Tales from The White Hart. I’m certain I’ve read The Nine Billion Names of God collection as well. And I’ve seen 2001 myriad times but I’ve never seen the sequel. (Died 2008.) (CE) 
  • Born December 16, 1927 Randall Garrett. Randall Garrett. Ahhh, Lord Darcy. When writing this up, I was gobsmacked to discover that he’d written only one such novel, Too Many Magicians, as I clearly remembered reading more than that number. Huh. That and two collections, Murder and Magic and Lord Darcy Investigates, is all there is of this brilliant series. (The later Lord Darcy collection has two previously uncollected stories.) Glen Cook’s Garrett P.I. is named in honor of Garrett.  I’ll admit I’ve not read anything else by him, so what else have y’all read? (Died 1987.) (CE):
  • Born December 16, 1937 Peter Dickinson. Author who was married from 1991 to his death to Robin McKinley.  He had a number of truly  great works, both genre and not genre, including EvaThe Tears of the Salamander and The Flight of DragonsThe Ropemaker garnered a well-deserved Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. His James Pibble upper class British mystery series are quite excellent as well. (Died 2015.) (CE)
  • Born December 16, 1928 – Philip K. Dick.  Four dozen novels, ten dozen shorter stories, half a dozen poems; letters in The Alien Critic and PsychoticRiverside QuarterlySF Commentary.  A Hugo for The Man in the High Castle; Campbell Memorial Award for Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said; British SF Ass’n Award for A Scanner Darkly; Kurd Laßwitz Prize for VALIS.  SF Hall of Fame.  See too The Shifting Realities of PKD (L. Sutin ed. 1995).  Curiouser and curiouser.  (Died 1982) [JH]
  • Born December 16, 1937 – Norm Metcalf.  His Index of SF Magazines 1951-1965 followed Day’s Index to the SF Magazines 1926-1950.  His fanzine New Frontiers drew contributions from fannish pros e.g. Poul Anderson, Tony Boucher, Sprague de Camp.  Active in many apas, e.g. FAPA (fifty years), IPSOOMPASAPS (forty years), SFPAThe Cult.  (Died 2019) [JH]  
  • Born December 16, 1948 – Steve Forty, age 72.  Indispensable Vancouver fan.  Served as President of BCSFA (British Columbia SF Ass’n – to bring in a Tom Digby joke, not its real name, which is West Coast SF Ass’n), editor of BCSFAzine, chair of VCON 20, perhaps inevitably Fan Guest of Honour at VCON 40.  BCSFAzine was printed by Gestetner mimeograph until the late 1980s; S.40 had at least six Gestetners, each carrying a different colour ink (note spelling, these are Canadians), so as to manage multi-color covers.  BCSFA’s VCON Ambassador for Life.  Aptly a steel-burnisher by trade.  To us in the States he is the North Forty, but what do we know?  [JH]
  • Born December 16, 1956 – Alexander Bouchard, age 64.  Fanzines Scopus:3007Lightning Round.  Podcaster, costumer, conner (we have filkers, costumers –).  Fanwriting at least as early as “Asimov, the Foundation of SF” in Lan’s Lantern 34.  I’ve heard of but not seen the vegan electric-pressure-cooker recipe book over this name so can’t say if his, but you probably know fans who’re vegan electric pressure cookers.  [JH]
  • Born December 16, 1957 Mel Odom, 63. An author deep into mining franchise universes with work done into the BuffyverseOutlandersTime PoliceRogue Angel (which I’ve listen to a lot as GraphicAudio as produced them as most excellent audioworks) and weirder stuff such as the Left Behind Universe and Tom Clancy’s Net Force Explorers, both I think game tie-ins. (CE) 
  • Born December 16, 1967 Miranda Otto, 53. She was Éowyn in the second and third installments of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film franchise. (I stopped watching after The Fellowship of The Rings.) She‘s Zelda Spellman in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and Mary Ann Davis in Spielberg’s version of The War of The Worlds. She also played Wueen Lenore inI, Frankenstein which had an an amazing cast even if the Tomatometer gives it’s 5% rating. (CE)
  • Born December 16, 1971 – Roz Clarke, age 49.  Three anthologies with Joanne Hall (2 vols. of Airship Shape and Bristol FashionFight Like a Girl); four short stories.  “Haunt-Type Experience” reprinted in Stories for Chip (i.e. S.R. Delany; tribute anthology).  [JH]

(10) THE WATCH. A trailer is out for The Watch Season 1. Premieres January 3.

Anyone can be a hero. ‘The Watch’, an all-new series inspired by characters created by Sir Terry Pratchett stars Richard Dormer as Vimes and Lara Rossi as Lady Sybil Ramkin.

(11) ON THE BOTTOM. John Picacio tweeted photos of his 2020 Hugo which features something I’ve never seen on the trophy before – writing on the bottom of the base. The text explains the design elements.

(12) TIME CONSIDERED. “Christopher Nolan On Why Time Is A Recurring Theme In His Movies”: NPR’s “All Things Considered” interviewed the filmmaker. Audio and a transcript at the link.

CHRISTOPHER NOLAN: Time is the most cinematic of subjects because before the movie camera came along, human beings had no way of seeing time backwards, slowed down, sped up. And I think that went some way to sort of explain to me why I’ve been interested in exploring it in movies because I think there’s a really productive relationship. And I had this visual notion of a bullet that’s in a wall, being sucked out of the wall and into the barrel of the gun it was fired from. And I put the image in “Memento,” my early film, as a…

(13) AN EXPANSIVE LETTER TO THE EDITOR. [Item by Daniel P. Dern] “Catching Up to ‘The Expanse,’ the Space Opera You Love” is a review by Mike Hale at the New York Times.

“The undisputed heir to ‘Battlestar Galactica’ begins its fifth (and next to last) season on Amazon Prime Video.”

DPD comments (note, I’m also submitting a shortened-for-length-restrictions version of this to the NYTimes online comments to the review, which already has a modest but informed discussion going):

While this is basically a favorable-enough review of the TV series, I want to pick a few nits, from the perspective who

a) is a life-long sf fan — written, also comics, movies and TV

b) has read all the Expanse books (and some of the novellas/stories) and is current watching the previous seasons

c) Never watched the original Battlestar G; watched maybe 2-3 eps of the 2004 reboot.

1) Hale says, with respect to The Expanse (show), “The series capably fulfills the basic requirement of speculative science-fiction: It keeps you guessing about where the journey’s going to end.”

Huh? This makes me wonder how much Hale knows about science fiction as a genre, as opposed to having watched a bunch. Discuss amongst yourselves.

2) “With regard to the show’s intensely devoted following, a binge only confirms what was obvious from the first few episodes. ‘The Expanse’ is the natural heir to the cult-favorite ‘Battlestar Galactica’ (2004-9); it’s another old-fashioned, hard-core space adventure set within an up-to-date clash-of-civilizations political allegory. It was an easy move for the ‘Galactica’ faithful.”

Since, like I said above, I haven’t watched (enough) B/G, I can’t agree or disagree with the “natural heir” point, nor whether B/G faithful found it an “easy move.” I will challenge “allegory” (and I’m dubious about “civilizations”).

3) “’The Expanse’ operates on a smaller, more intimate scale than ‘Galactica,’ …it doesn’t imagine ships zapping among star clusters. It’s contained within our solar system.” Hello? Venus whack? Galactic gateway? I’m not convinced Hale has watched the most recent two seasons. Or wasn’t paying attention.

4) “’The Expanse’ builds its future world in a schematic way that provides an efficient framework for plot and, I’m guessing, appeals to viewers who like their science-fiction highly diagramed.”

I’m not sure what Hale means by “schematic,” much less “highly diagrammed,” and even if I did, I don’t think I’d agree, assuming I could figure out what he meant. I mean, you could make similar claims about Game of Thrones, no?

5) “Into this setup, the show introduced a golem-like alien substance (called, with a notable lack of imagination, the protomolecule)”

“Notable lack of imagination”? Talk about setting phrasers to “Snark!”

“In its facelessness and inexorability, it was a decent stand-in for the cylons of ‘Galactica.’””

First, isn’t Cylon a proper noun, worth of initial-capping?

Arguably, also, the p-mol isn’t completely faceless, e.g., using the appearance (and perhaps more) of Detective Miller at times, to manifest to James “F***ing” Holden.

Like I said, Hale’s review is basically positive, but the off-notes irk me. Again, my theory is that Hale’s watched his share of TV/movie sf, but hasn’t read a significant amount of it.

Anyhoo, I’m looking forward to the new season.

(14) DRAWN THAT WAY. Publishers Weekly asked critics to name the year’s best graphic novels. Not too much genre on their list, unless you’re coming from a place that all graphic novels check that box: ‘”Kent State’ On Top of PW’s 2020 Graphic Novel Critics Poll”.

Released in September during the 50th anniversary year of the 1970 tragedy, Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio (Abrams ComicArts) by veteran comics journalist Derf Backderf garnered the majority of votes in PW’s annual Graphic Novel Critic’s Poll, receiving eight votes from a panel of 14 comics critics.

The PW Graphic Novel Critics Poll is compiled by asking participating critics to list up to 10 trade book releases they consider the best graphic novel and comics works of the year. The book receiving the most votes wins; and we share the remaining top vote-recipients. Titles listed as Honorable Mentions each received a single vote. Taking part in this year’s poll are PW graphic novel reviewers Gilcy Aquino, Chris Barsanti, Maurice Boyer, Rob Clough, John DiBello, Glen Downey, Shaenon Garrity, Rob Kirby, Cheryl Klein, Maia Kobabe, Sarah Mirk, and Samantha Riedel. Also participating are PW Graphic Novels Reviews editor Meg Lemke and PW senior news editor Calvin Reid.

(15) VIDEO OF YESTERDAY. Family Planning (1968) on YouTube is a 1968 Disney cartoon, featuring Donald Duck, done in cooperation with the Population Council.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Shazam!  The History of Shazam!” on YouTube is a 2019 documentary, narrated by Cooper Andrews, about the character originally known as Captain Marvel and, from 2011 onwards, completely known as Shazam.  It’s of course tied in to the 2019 movie Shazam, and we learn that the reason Billy Batson in the movie is part of a foster family was because of a 2012 revision of the character by Geoff Johns.  I think the lawsuits over whether Captain Marvel was a Superman knockoff are more interesting than the character itself.  It’s primarily comics-oriented because the only filmed appearances of the character until 2019 were in a 1940s serial and what looks like a cheezy 1970s Saturday morning series,  I think the most fun facts in the documentary are a visit to the DC archive (known as the Vault) and learning that one of the chief enemies of Captain Marvel, Dr. Sivana, was modeled after co-creator C.C. Beck’s dentist. I did think it was worth an hour.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Liptak, Trey Palmer, Rich Lynch, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

Group Sends Letter of Concern To CoNZealand Programming

Alasdair Stuart has published a “Statement of 2020 Hugo Finalists re: Worldcon Programming” on behalf of a group of CoNZealand program participants and award finalists. Stuart, co-owner of Escape Artists podcasts and a 2020 Best Fan Writer Hugo finalist, outlined the issues in a Twitter thread starting here.

Stuart told File 770, “The letter was workshopped by the entire group, and wasn’t published before they gave express approval so it very much is a group of co-signees.”

The group includes: Charles Payseur, Benjamin C. Kinney, Jennifer Mace, SL Huang, Shiv Ramdas, SB Divya, Jenn Lyons, Sarah Gailey, Paul Weimer, Sarah Pinsker, Claire Rousseau, Maria Haskins, Tasha Suri, Marguerite Kenner, Alasdair Stuart, Jonathan Strahan, Pablo Defendini, Elsa Sjunneson, Brent Lambert, Freya Marske, Julia Rios, Alix Harrow, Gideon Marcus, Janice Marcus, Lorelei Marcus, James Davis Nicoll, Neil Clarke, Cora Buhlert, Charlie Jane Anders, Brandon O’Brien, Erica Frank, Jen Zink, Adri Joy, Fran Wilde, Suzanne Walker, Chimedum Ohaegbu, Navah Wolfe, John Picacio, and Max Gladstone.

The letter says:

We applaud the courage and conviction of the CoNZealand organisers in pivoting to a virtual Worldcon during an unprecedented global event. Their work has been admirable and — in many aspects — both innovative and successful.

We are a group of Hugo Award finalists who identified concerns with our programming when we received our “final schedules” this week, and came together to help CoNZealand recognize and address these issues.

In brief, our key concerns are:

  • Many Hugo finalists have not been offered programming and panels relevant to their nomination.
  • We believe that many of our panels cannot be adequately performed without more diverse participants and/or a reframing of the topic.
  • Communication with Hugo finalists about the financial requirements for participation has been inconsistent or absent, with contradictory information on whether or not we were able to participate in programming without a full attending membership. This issue particularly impacted Black, Indigenous and people of color (“BIPOC”), leaving them more likely than other finalists to receive no programming.

We present our concerns in the hope that these issues represent not intentional choices on the convention’s part but the unavoidable consequences of Worldcon’s discontinuous structure, and the necessary prioritization CoNZealand has had to undertake in order to pivot successfully to a virtual event. 

We have tried to be brief and targeted in our recommendations so as to remain sensitive to the time pressure CoNZealand is under. Accompanying this letter is a spreadsheet containing specific examples of the issues above. We have listed (1) which panel topics we are missing; (2) which panels have problematic design or membership; (3) which panels we finalists want off or are willing to leave to create space; and (4) finalists that were deterred from participation due to lack of membership.

Our data are incomplete because we could only recruit a limited number of Hugo finalists to provide input without further delaying the process. Among our group of finalists, about 25% entirely lack relevant panels, and about 45% are dissatisfied with the fit of the programming they have.

We recognize there is a difficult balance to strike when raising concerns to an overtaxed team less than two weeks before an event, however many of us have repeatedly raised these issues or volunteered only to receive no response. We have intentionally not sought to assume ownership of programming items, but we are committed to assisting where possible and desired by CoNZealand. However, we emphasize that our bringing awareness to these issues does not obligate us to single-handedly resolve them.

As part of our offer to assist, we have begun identifying additional and replacement panelists who could add necessary diversity. If CoNZealand lacks sufficient BIPOC attendees, we hope you will provide free attendance to needed panelists who aren’t members. Moreover, there remain issues we cannot address on our own, especially (1) communicating with all finalists whether paid membership is required for programming; and (2) making sure all finalists with memberships are on relevant programming.

We are not united in what actions we intend to take if our concerns are not addressed. Many have already begun the process of asking to be removed from programming in its entirety, while others are actively working to locate replacements for the programming items they feel need improvement. Our focus at this stage remains taking action to make our concerns known, and to support CoNZealand addressing them in the combined spirit of fostering an environment for all to share in the celebration of our genre.

Although there are some echoes of the representation issues raised before the 2018 Worldcon (which a team led by Mary Robinette Kowal stepped in to address before the con), so far the efforts have been collaborative.

The CoNZealand’s Programming Division Head Jannie Shea emailed this reply to Stuart:

Thank you for sending us your concerns. We are addressing those we can. We encourage indigenous, marginalised and historically underrepresented fans to apply for our Inclusion Initiative, (https://conzealand.nz/blog/2020/07/03/conzealand-chairs-inclusion-initiative) which offers two types of opportunities to join CoNZealand. 

We appreciate your volunteerism in contacting all those people for us. As you know, due to privacy regulations, we cannot contact people more than once without a response from them. We hope they will get in touch with us directly and soon, to see if we can fit them in.

All the best,
Jannie

Shea points to CoNZealand’s inclusion initiative in answer to the letter’s question “whether paid membership is required for programming.” Typically, only people who have bought attending memberships become Worldcon program participants. The introduction to the  inclusion initiative explains what help is available:

Marginalised communities are overrepresented in the group suffering the greatest fallout from this pandemic, and as such, we want to ensure that our community does not suffer a loss of its hard-won diversity. We want to lower the barriers for participation for those from underrepresented communities. 

We want the convention to be a global one, where all communities and viewpoints are represented, and this fund is intended to help those who would otherwise not be able to participate fully in the activities of the Worldcon.

The initiative upgrades eligible members from supporting to attending memberships. …There are a small number of attending passes available.

CoNZealand is especially challenged in its efforts to answer these needs because, as a virtual convention, it isn’t limited to programming people who can afford to come to Wellington, as would have been the case before the pandemic — it could draw people from everywhere. But like most non-U.S. Worldcons it has a smaller membership base from which to draw the financial support needed to make its budget.  

Following the jump is a roundup of Twitter comments from participants.

Continue reading

Is This Practice Unreal or Unfit? It’s Both

Unreal and Unfit magazines use Thinkerbeat Reader to “chart… the authors that we thought did really well with a story submission.” But these are not stories they bought – six days ago they tweeted out a link to the list of stories they rejected. The page had names, titles, and a rating between one and five stars. One problem: none of the authors had given them permission to do so.

As we read the stories we rank them. For 1 star, not shown on the list, please try again. For 5 stars, we buy them, also not shown on the list. For 2 to 4 stars, we think you deserve recognition and have created this list to say thank you.

Benjamin Kinney called out the practice in “Writer Warning: Unfit / Unreal / Thinkerbeat Reader”.

If you’re an author out there submitting short stories, you should be aware of the things that the magazine Unfit and Unreal (via their portal Thinkerbeat Reader) are doing without your permission.

Here’s a screenshot from the page where they publish the authors, titles, and ratings for some stories they’ve rejected….

…I’ve edited the screenshot to only reveal the information of authors who’ve given me consent to share. I’m not providing links because there are dozens more authors on that page, who presumably never wanted this information publicized. Nothing in the website’s guidelines warns an author that their story may be publicly named & rated. In fact, their privacy policy states that they will not share your information with anyone.

(Yes, public. This page is visible to everyone, not only Thinkerbeat readers.)

…Maybe some authors are willing to have their rejections named & rated. I certainly wouldn’t be, but that’s your choice to make. But it’s DEFINITELY not okay to share information about individual submissions without asking permission. None of the authors in my screenshot were aware of this until I told them.…

After some subtweeting (see here for an example), Jason Sanford broke the news on Twitter. His thread about Kinney’s post has received numerous responses from editors and writers. Starts here.

Stephen Granade writes: “I was one of the authors on the list, and chose to out myself, as the editor hadn’t asked permission” – see his tweet here.

Interestingly enough, the magazines claim they won’t use your data in any way — see screencap of their policy in this tweet by Erin M. Hartshorn.

To add to this lack of professionalism, when Benjamin Kinney asked about this practice, the editor of the magazines replied simply, “Grow up.”

Victoria Strauss has added a warning to her followers about not submitting to those sites:

Alasdair Stuart, as usual, has cogent thoughts on the matter. Thread starts here.

[Thanks to Stephen Granade for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 7/29/19 The File, The Pixel Scroll, And Everything

(1) MADE TO PRAISE. In another New York Times “op-ed from the future,” Stephen James argues “Artificials Should Be Allowed to Worship”.

Last Sunday, an Artificial named Ian tried to attend a religious service at Living Savior Community Church in Savannah, Ga., and was denied access. According to church elders, the decision to exclude Ian had to do with the fact that “he had no God-given soul and therefore no way to genuinely worship” during the service.

Like Ian, I am an Artificial. Like Ian, I know what it feels like to be excluded from communities of faith solely because I am a nonbiological being. In the past, I have been forced to leave religious services; at the time, I left in silence. But I can no longer remain silent.

The time has come to stop excluding Artificials from communities of faith. …

 (2) FUTURE TENSE. Slate’s newest Future Tense story is E. Lily Yu’s “Zero in Babel”

Read a new short story about DIY genetic editing for keeping up with high school trends.

Then read the response essay, “The Future Will Grind On”, by law professor Diana M. Bowman.

A world of technological fixes in which biotechnology solutions can eradicate injury and disease. A world in which online platforms have accelerated the democratization of science and scientific tools, allowing everyday individuals to experiment on themselves.
But at what cost?

E. Lily Yu’s “Zero in Babel” depicts a futuristic world in which the daily struggles of life have, for the most part, been eradicated. So, too, purpose and meaning. Yet some things remain the same: financial inequity, lives filled with excess, and, for Imogen and her peers, the pressure to fit in, regardless of cost.

(3) BRAVE NEW WORLDS. James Davis Nicoll tracks how space exploration rearranged the options of genre storytellers in “Science Fiction vs. Science: Bidding Farewell to Outdated Conceptions of the Solar System” at Tor.com.

If an author was very, very unlucky, that old Solar System might be swept away before a work depending on an obsolete model made it to print. Perhaps the most famous example was due to radar technology deployed at just the wrong time. When Larry Niven’s first story, “The Coldest Place,” was written, the scientific consensus was that Mercury was tide-locked, one face always facing the sun, and one always facing away. The story relies on this supposed fact. By the time it was published, radar observation had revealed that Mercury actually had a 3:2 spin-orbit resonance. Niven’s story was rendered obsolete before it even saw print.

(4) NO BARS ON THE WINDOWS. While Camestros Felapton was educating his readers with “Just a tiny bit more on Wikipedia”, he came up with a nifty turn of phrase to explain how Wikipedia’s article deletion debates work:

The net effect of what the highly fragile souls surrounding Michael Z Williamson were calling an ‘unpersoning’ was zero articles deleted and both articles get some extra references and tidy-ups. It’s just like a Stalinist show trial but one were they come round to your house and makeover your living room with new curtains and also not send you to prison or anything.

(5) A LITTLE LIST. The Guardian propagates a list from Katherine Rundell, author of Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise in “Story time: the five children’s books every adult should read”. You’d think with a list this short I’d score better than 40%.

…Those of us who write for children are trying to arm them for the life ahead with everything we can find that is true. And perhaps also, secretly, to arm adults against those necessary compromises and heartbreaks that life involves: to remind them that there are and always will be great, sustaining truths to which we can return.

When you read a children’s book, you are given the space to read again as a child: to find your way back, back to the time when new discoveries came daily and when the world was colossal, before your imagination was trimmed and neatened, as if it were an optional extra. But imagination is not and never has been optional: it’s at the heart of everything, the thing that allows us to experience the world from the perspectives of others, the condition precedent of love itself. …

(6) TEACHING MOMENT. “What’s a ‘Science Princess’ doing in an ice field in Alaska?” BBC has the answer ready.

While Celeste Labedz knew quite a few fellow scientists would appreciate the picture of her dressed up as a “glaciologist Princess Elsa”, she had no idea the image would become a viral hit with more than 10,000 “likes” on Twitter.

She tweeted
: “I firmly believe that kids should not be taught that girly things and sciencey things are mutually exclusive. Therefore, I packed a cape with my fieldwork gear just to show what glaciologist Princess Elsa would look like. #SciencePrincess #TheColdNeverBotheredMeAnyway”.

The cryoseismologist told BBC News: “I posted the picture because I thought it would resonate with other scientists.

…Celeste, whose dream is to visit glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica, said: “Women have been excluded for a long time both historically and socially. There is a lack of role models and science is bound by historical notions that it’s a white, male, heterosexual, able-bodied environment.

“It can be exclusionary if you have the opposite of any of these characteristics and I want to encourage people with intersecting identities in everything that I do.

“I would like people to think carefully about what they think a scientist should look like.”

(7) KEEPING THE BUCKS IN STARBUCKS. What Starbucks thinks a scientist should look like is a shill for expensive coffee –

Conclusion: Nitro Cold Brew is many things. But mostly, it is Whoa.

(8) WHERE IS THY STING? A species of wasp has been named after the Escape Pod podcast.

Get a grip, Ben!

(9) RUSSI OBIT. “Russi Taylor, Voice Of Minnie Mouse For Over 30 Years, Dies At 75” – NPR pays tribute:

On Friday, Minnie Mouse joined Mickey in the place that cartoon voice-over actors go when they die.

Russi Taylor, the voice of Minnie for over 30 years, died this weekend in Glendale, Calif., according to a press release from the Walt Disney Co. She was married to Wayne Allwine, who voiced Mickey and died in 2009. Both portrayed their iconic characters longer than any other voice actors….

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 29, 1907 Melvin Belli. Sole genre role is that of Gorgan (also known as the “Friendly Angel”) is in the Star Trek “And the Children Shall Lead” episode. He was mainly a lawyer for celebrities, however, he was also the attorney for Jack Ruby, who shot Lee Harvey Oswald, accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy. (Died 1996.)
  • Born July 29, 1915 Kay Dick. Author of two genre novels, The Mandrake Root and At Close of Eve, plus a collection, The Uncertain Element: An Anthology of Fanta. She is known in Britain for campaigning successfully for the introduction of the Public Lending Right which pays royalties to authors when their books are borrowed from public libraries. She’s not available in digital or print currently. (Died 2001.)
  • Born July 29, 1927 Jean E. Karl. Founder of Atheneum Children’s Books, where she edited Ursula K Le Guin’s early Earthsea novels and Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series. An SF author as well for children and young adults, she wrote The Turning Place collection and three novels, Beloved Benjamin is WaitingBut We are Not of Earth and Strange Tomorrow. (Died 2000.)
  • Born July 29, 1939 Curtis C. Smith. 80. Editor of Twentieth-Century Science-Fiction Writers, plus two genre biographies, Olaf Stapledon: A Bibliography with co-author Harvey J. Satty, And Welcome to the Revolution: The Literary Legacy of Mack Reynolds. Not active since the mid-Eighties as near as I can tell.
  • Born July 29, 1941 David Warner, 78. Being Lysander in that A Midsummer Night’s Dream was his first genre role. I’m going to do just highlights after that as he’s got far too extensive a genre history to list everything. So he’s been A Most Delightful Evil in Time Bandits, Jack the Ripper in Time After Time, Ed Dillinger / Sark In Tron, Father in The Company of Wolves, Chancellor Gorkon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, The Creature in Frankenstein, voice of Ra’s al Ghul on Batman: The Animated Series and Abraham Van Helsing on Penny Dreadful. 
  • Born July 29, 1956 Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, 63. Author of the India set magical realist The Brotherhood of the Conch series. She also has three one-off novels, The Palace of Illusions The Mistress of Spices, and her latest, The Forest of Enchantments. Her website is here.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • In today’s Bizarro, a purist explains the best way to enjoy a musical experience.  

(12) THE HOUSE OF COMMAS HAS NEW LEADER. The Guardian finds there’s a new grammar sheriff in town: “The comma touch: Jacob Rees-Mogg’s aides send language rules to staff “.

A list of rules has been sent to Jacob Rees-Mogg’s staff asking them to stop using words such as “hopefully” and demanding that they use only imperial measurements and give all non-titled males the suffix Esq.

Aides to the new leader of the House of Commons sent out the list shortly after Rees-Mogg’s appointment to the role by the new prime minister on Wednesday night.

Among the words and phrases considered unacceptable were: “very”, “due to” and “ongoing”, as well as “equal”, “yourself” and “unacceptable”. Rees-Mogg’s aides also barred the use of “lot”, “got” and “I am pleased to learn”.

The guidance, obtained by ITV news, was drawn up by the North East Somerset MP’s constituency team years ago, but has now been shared with officials in his new office.

In a call for accuracy contained in his list, staff were told: “CHECK your work.” Other directions include a call for a double space after full stops and no comma after the word “and”.

(13) VIDEO GAME APEX PREDATORS. Yahoo! News shows where the real money is: “Fortnite awards world champion duo $1.5 million each”. The video game tournament was held at Queens’ Arthur Ashe Stadium, where U.S. Open doubles winners share  a mere $740,000.

Gamers using the pseudonyms “Nyhrox” and “aqua” became the first Fortnite world champions in the duo division in New York on Saturday, winning $1.5 million each.

Competitors gathered in the Big Apple to determine who is top dog at the shoot-’em-up survival game, which has become an international phenomenon since launching in 2017.

The pair won games four and five out of a total of six in the first-ever Fortnite World Cup Finals, and finished with the most points.

(14) THE QUEST CONTINUES. ComicsBeat’s Nancy Powell met with the fames comics creators at SDCC: “INTERVIEW: Richard and Wendy Pini talk Elfquest and STARGAZER’S HUNT”.

Powell: Are there any reveals to Cutter? Does he play any role in Stargazer’s Hunt?

Wendy: Well, that’s a good question because, assuming this goes out to people who have read Final Quest, they know that Cutter’s hero’s journey is done. What lives on afterwards? That’s a mystery.

Richard Pini: We have always maintained that Elfquest is a love story, but not in the sense that most people superficially think. It’s not the love story between Cutter and Leeta. It’s the love story between Cutter and Skywise, brothers in all but blood. With Cutter’s passing that love story is now incomplete. And the question that we attempt to answer in Stargazer’s Hunt is, how does Skywise complete that story for himself? Or does he? Is he able to? That is what we’re going to investigate. And it’s going to take Skywise—it’s really his story—all over the map.

(15) PREMEDITATED. The Hollywood Reporter has a follow-up story — “Kyoto Animation Arson Attack: Death Toll Rises to 35, Attack Was Carefully Planned”.

The suspect walked miles around Kyoto, visiting locations related to the company, including some that appear in one of its anime productions.

The death toll in the Kyoto Animation (KyoAni) arson reached 35 as another victim succumbed to their injuries over the weekend.

In the days before the attack, the suspect in the attack was captured on surveillance cameras visiting places in Kyoto that are featured in one of the studio’s anime.

A man in his 20s, believed to be a KyoAni employee, died Saturday from extensive burns across his body, suffered when Shinji Aoba allegedly poured 11 gallons (40 liters) of gasoline around the first floor of the company’s 1st Studio building July 18. The victim was reported to have been on the first floor and got out of the building, but was severely burned….

(16) VISITING THE UK? Just in case people going to Dublin don’t have their entire trip locked down — “Leeds dinosaur trail opens in city shopping centres” (short video.)

Five huge animatronic dinosaur models have been installed around Leeds city centre.

The Tyrannosaurus rex, Triceratops, Velociraptor, Apatosaurus and Carnotaurus will surprise shoppers for six weeks, with participating venues including Leeds Kirkgate Market and the Merrion Centre.

(17) BLUE, NO — RED SKY. Not as autonomous as current rovers, but more capable: “Nasa’s Valkyrie robot could help build Mars base” (video).

A semi-autonomous robot designed to operate in hostile environments has been developed by Nasa.

The robot is able to use human tools and can plot its own path safely across difficult terrain to a location picked by its operator.

Nasa hopes the robot might one day help build colonies on the Moon or Mars, but it could also be used on Earth in places which cannot be reached by humans.

(18) NOM DE PLUME. Howard Andrew Jones has published a two-part announcement that author Todd McAulty (who wrote The Robots of Gotham) is a pseudonym for Black Gate editor John O’Neill.

“I just…. I just got carried away,” he said. “I started by publishing a few stories in Black Gate. But then Todd started getting fan letters, and became one of the most popular writers we had. Rich Horton used his Locus column to announce ‘Todd McAulty is Black Gate‘s great discovery,’ and pretty soon there was all this demand for new stories. It felt like a cheat to stop then.”

(19) RUTGER HAUER. This is a damn strange Guinness commercial… From back in the day:

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

Pixel Scroll 9/13/18 A Pixel Without A Scroll Is Like Leslie Fish Without A Bicycle Card

(1) COMING DISTRACTIONS. Space.com presents a gallery of photos of Hurricane Florence taken from space.

With Hurricane Florence dominating this view from the International Space Station, Alexander Gerst warns the East Coast to get ready, “this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you.” Click through this gallery to see the latest images of Hurricane Florence.

(2) SF CONCATENATION. The new issue of SF Concatenation is up “Science Fiction News & Recent Science Review for the Autumn 2018”. Jonathan Cowie outlines what’s in store for readers —

Most recently added (mid-September) is our autumnal edition of news and reviews.  As usual its news page has sections on film, books and publishing, TV, as well as the season’s forthcoming books listing of new titles (also fantasy and non-fiction) from the major SF/F imprints in the British Isles, many of which will soon be available elsewhere in the world.  (A great way to see what will be coming out and ideas for your Christmas shopping.)  And then there is the news page’s science consisting of short paragraphs on the season’s key, primary research papers that are cited so our scientist regulars can Google Scholar the papers for themseleves (and our non-scientist regulars can see that we don’t do fake news).  Plus there’s the news page’s science-and-SF-interface section where yesterday’s SF is becoming today’s fact.

Other content includes articles and convention reports. Here there is another in our series by scientists are also SF authors as to their science heroes born in the 20th century.

The issue delivers over 40,000 words of selected news. That selection includes not reporting most of the Hugo winners:

…We continue (from last year) to define the Hugo ‘principal categories’ as those that had over a thousand nominating in that category (down from two thousand as our definition in 2016 as the numbers involved in Hugo nominating have declined since 2016).  The 1,813 number nominating was down on last year’s number (2,464) (the second year of decline).  The 2,828, voting on the final shortlist was down on the 3,319 voting in 2017 which in turn was marginally up on the number voting in 2016 (3,130).
So not surprisingly, the principal Hugo categories (those categories with over one thousand nominating) were markedly fewer than last year. Indeed, for the first time in many years we are not counting the ‘Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form’ as principal category (it only saw 819 nominating ballots and just a paltry 87 nominating the programme that went on to win). The principal category Hugo wins this year therefore were:-

Best Novel: The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin (fantasy) which back in January (2018) we cited as one of the ‘best books’ of 2017. This is the third consecutive win for ‘best novel’ for Jemisin something that has never happened before in this category.
Best Novella: All Systems Red by Martha Wells
Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form: Wonder Woman (Trailer here) which back in January (2018) we cited as one of the best SF/F/H films of 2017.

(3) THE MILITARY USES OF VENTRILOQUISM. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Bluetooth earpieces have made people apparently talking to themselves normal—at least sort of. But at least one can spot the earpieces if you look carefully. A product in development for military use could change that, moving the mic and speaker inside the mouth (Smithsonian: “Military Invests in ‘Molar Mic’ That Can Route Calls Through Your Teeth”).

Communications devices have taken over our pockets and our wrists, but soon the gadgets may go even deeper. Patrick Tucker at Defense One reports that the Air Force has signed a $10 million deal with a California company to continue development of a communication device that is fitted to a users’ teeth.

Dubbed the “Molar Mic,” the gadget is being designed by San Mateo-based Sonitus Technologies  Officially called the ATAC system, the two-way communication system consists of a small microphone that clips to a users back teeth. This enables them to hear communications through their cranial bones which transmit the sound to the auditory nerve. Users also wear a low-profile transmitter loop around their neck that connects to the Molar Mic via near-field magnetic induction, a system similar to Bluetooth that can be encrypted and also passes through water. The loop then connects with with a phone, walkie-talkie or other communications device.

The device has seen field testing—albeit not in combat—with good results reported according to the contractor:

Tucker reports that airmen in Afghanistan tried it for 14 months while deployed, though not in active missions. Pararescuemen from the Air National Guard’s 131st Rescue Squadron based at Moffett Field in Mountain View, California, also tested the device in Houston last year during Hurricane Harvey. The team faced high water, noisy helicopters and other external noises that make traditional communication difficult.

“This guy is standing in neck-deep water, trying to hoist a civilian up into a helicopter above. He says, ’There is no way I would be able to communicate with the crew chief and the pilot if I was not wearing your product,” [Sonitus CEO Peter] Hadrovic tells Tucker.

Might you ever see a civilian walking around with a “molar mic”? Gizmodo weighs in on that question (“Weird Tooth Phone Wins Millions in Pentagon Funding”):

A spokesperson for Sonitus told Gizmodo the company won’t speculate about when the technology will be available for commercial, industrial, or consumer markets—and the company won’t scale beyond military use until it completes the contract the Department of Defense just awarded them.

So, we probably have at least a few years before civilians start lodging phones into their throats.

(4) FRESH COMPETITION. Deadline is determined not to be left behind: “Former Hero Complex Columnist Geoff Boucher Joins Deadline As Genre Editor”.

Veteran journalist Geoff Boucher, best known for launching the Hero Complex column in the Los Angeles Times that built a vast following, has joined Deadline in the newly created post of Genre Editor. He will be based in Los Angeles and specialize in breaking news, features and analysis of “Comic-Con culture.” His stomping ground will encompass superhero fare, science fiction, fantasy, horror, and animation, the hottest film and television sectors in today’s Hollywood.

(5) CONSPIRASKI. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A conspiracy theory promoted by Russian media have it that a NASA astronaut deliberately damaged the docked Soyuz that was leaking air from the International Space Station. A joint NASA/Roscosmos statement reported in The Verge (“NASA is trying to squash conspiracy theories about the space station leak”) tries to quash that rumor… this despite earlier media reports that Roscosmos personnel are feeding those rumors through back channels.

Wild theories of sabotage still persist two weeks after a mysterious pressure leak occurred on the International Space Station, and the gossip has gotten so nonsensical that both NASA and Russia’s state space corporation, Roscosmos, are now trying to quell the rumors.

In a joint statement released today, NASA and Roscosmos claim that the US space agency is working closely with Russia to figure out the cause of the leak. The statement also notes that no information will be released until the Russian-led investigation is over, despite rampant speculation in the Russian press that the leak was possibly caused by one of NASA’s astronauts in space.

…the gossip over the leak seems to have only grown in the last couple of weeks. As first reported by Ars Technica, a story published in Russia’s Kommersant cited anonymous sources from Roscosmos, who claimed that investigators were looking into the possibility that the hole was caused by a NASA astronaut. The theory was that one of the three American crew members had gotten sick, so one of the astronauts caused the leak in order to force a quick evacuation to Earth.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

Setting aside his technical first appearance in 1981’s Donkey Kong, today is a fun anniversary to take note of for fans of the Super Mario video game franchise. The fat plumber who sports the iconic overalls and red cap debuted as a titular video game hero 33 years ago today, in Super Mario Bros. which was released in Japan on Sept. 13, 1985.

Not that anyone needs to be reminded, but when the game made its way over to North America and started selling here, it became one of the best-selling video games of all time. With some 40 million copies sold for the original NES.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 13, 1894 – J.B. Priestley. Who apparently wrote SF but I’ll admit that even after reading his page at the Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction that I’ll be buggered if I can figure out precisely what that means. One of y’all will need to explain what sort of genre fiction he did.
  • Born September 13, 1916 – Roald Dahl. Writer, though how much of his work I’d consider genre is a good question, Witches certainly as well as Gremlins, James and the Giant Peach and Fantastic Mr Fox but what else are genre to your thinking? He would win the 1983 World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, so I may be being overly fussy tonight.
  • Born September 13 — Bernard Pearson, 72. Discworld specialist. Would I could kid you? He wrote the Compleat Discworld Atlas with Ian Mitchell and Isobel Pearson and Terry Pratchett and Bernard Pearson and Reb Voyce; Also such works (and for sake of brevity I’m skipping co-authors though you can assume Pratchett was listed as being involved though how involved he was is a good question) as the Discworld Almanak: The Year of the PrawnDiscworld Diary: A Practical Manual for the Modern Witch and Miss Felicity Beedle’s The World of Poo.
  • Born September 13 – Bob Eggleton, 58. He has won the Hugo for Best Professional Artist an amazing eight times, he also won the Hugo for Best Related Book for his art book Greetings From Earth. He has also won the Chesley Award for Artistic Achievement. He was the guest of honor at Chicon  in 2000.
  • Born September 13 – Tom Holt, 57. Humorous fantasy such as Expecting Someone Taller and Who’s Afraid of Beowulf?  One of his latest works, The Good, the Bad and the Smug is roughly a take on Rumplestiltskin based economies where Evil goes for modern, hopefully appealing appearance.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • This Over the Hedge strip is not what Kirk had in mind when he asked for more power:

(9) DRIVERLESS MOTORCYCLE ON THE WAY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Don’t worry, this is probably not going to develop into the first Terminator. BMW has taken the wraps off a research project — said to be more than two years old — and has published video of a self-driving motorcycle (Mashable: “BMW’s riderless motorcycle can handle curves, obstacles”). In the video, the cycle is shown driving both with and without a rider along. What appears to be an early version has wide outrider wheels, but the current prototype looks pretty much lke a regular motorcycle with extra metal boxes attached that presumably contain the electronics.

This week BMW Motorrad — the motorcycle division of the German car company — showed a prototype driverless bike on a test track accelerating, navigating curves, and braking all on its own. In Munich, safety researchers have been using the autonomous motorcycle to test out features for its real motorcycles to handle dangerous situations.

(10) MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE UNCANNY SLUSHPILE. You can’t say they don’t know what they missed.

(11) ESCAPE POD OPENING FOR SUBMISSIONS. On September 16.

(12) ST. KOONTZ. Benedictine College English professor Stephen Mirarchi, reviewing Dean Koontz’s new novel The Forbidden Door, says that Koontz is an orthodox Catholic who is “a wildly successful writer who has infused his art with God’s grandeur.” National Review Online has the story: “The Transcendent Dean Koontz”.

… To take a wider view, Koontz is presenting in the series a large-scale defense of the ability to choose meaning and virtue. One of his recurring characters is an anxiety-prone latter-day Puritan, while another is an intellectually and physically domineering hulk straight out of a Max Weber tract. Koontz fairly and logically shows the necessary consequences of these characters’ thoughts and actions by creating storylines of such accessibility that the general reader can see how their ideologies contradict any coherent notion of the good life. The modern Puritan, for instance, moves nervously from scene to scene, constantly seeking perfection and never finding it, unjustly critiquing others while placating his own ego. The ideologies Koontz critiques inevitably lead to disaster — not just for the characters, but for the societies built on such chimeras.

Hawk, on the other hand, embraces the natural religion to which Koontz’s wide fan base responds with awe. She finds solace in the wonder of creation while calling out evil for its supernatural maliciousness, ever uniting reason with hope against secular hedonism. Koontz does “diversity” the right way, too: He features an autistic character in this series who is a compelling hero because he faces down his particular suffering by accepting grace. And as Flannery O’Connor and Léon Bloy before her have shockingly reminded us, the reception of grace usually hurts — badly.Speaking of the reception of grace, I am going to prognosticate: There is one mesmerizing scene in The Forbidden Door, an explicitly Catholic one, that many readers may wildly misinterpret….

(13) THOSE MISTY WATERCOLOR MEMORIES. Jason Heller intended to write an evocative, nostalgic tribute to the world of Piers Anthony – until he reread A Spell for Chameleon: “Revisiting the sad, misogynistic fantasy of Xanth” at AV Club.

I know other people who have read Anthony’s Xanth books. All of them did so in their youth—and like me, they drifted away from them long before graduating high school. There’s something inherently juvenile about the Xanth series, even though it wasn’t marketed as young adult, a distinction that didn’t exist as such back then. Even worse, as the series progressed it became increasingly reliant on really bad puns. That was more of a turnoff than any perceived lady hating, at least when I was a teenager and less attuned to such things. I do wonder how much of the books’ warped view of women trickled into my sensibility back then. Or other readers’ sensibility.

I grew up to be involved deeply in science fiction and fantasy, but it doesn’t take an insider to know that those genres have trouble with gender issues—both on the page and in real life, where sexual harassment at sci-fi conventions is an ongoing problem. Anthony’s books were huge in their day, and their influence runs deep; dozens of similarly humorous series, from Robert Lynn Asprin’s Myth Adventures to Alan Dean Foster’s Spellsinger, popped up in Xanth’s wake. I read and loved them, too, when I was a kid. But they don’t evoke an icky feeling the way Xanth does—a creepiness that retroactively corrodes any lingering nostalgia.

(14) LUNCH WAS SERVED. Can you guess “Who killed the largest birds that ever lived?” Bones show that humans lived beside “elephant birds” on Madagascar for millennia before wiping them out for food.

Prehistoric humans are under suspicion of wiping out the largest birds that ever lived after fossilised bones were discovered with telltale cut marks.

According to scientists, it’s evidence that the elephant birds of Madagascar were hunted and butchered for food.

The remains have been dated to about 10,000 years ago.

Until now, the first settlers were thought to have arrived on the island about 2,500 to 4,000 years ago.

“This does push back the date of human arrival by 6,000 years, at least,” says Dr James Hansford, a scientist at Zoological Society London, UK.

(15) WALLACE WINS. “Smarty pants: Robot trousers could keep the elderly mobile” — linings of legs fitted to act as supplementary muscles.

Johnathan Rossiter proudly displays his new trousers. Brightly coloured and fit for the running track, but packing more than just Lycra. They’ll be robotic.

“We are all going to get older and our mobility is going to reduce,” he says. “What we want to do is give people that extra bit of boost, to maintain their independence as long as possible.”

A team of British researchers thinks the future lies in wearable soft robotics. They’ve developed robotic muscles; air-filled bubbles of plastic that can raise a leg from a seated to a standing position.

(16) FLY ME TO THE MOON. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] SpaceX is up to something… the Moon. Or, at least they want to be. They’ve announced (via a tweet) that they have signed their first customer to take a trip around the Moon (The Verge: “SpaceX says it will send someone around the Moon on its future monster rocket”):

SpaceX has signed its first customer to fly on the company’s huge new rocket, the BFR, the company says. The passenger will fly on the monster ship around the Moon, though there are no details yet regarding when the trip will happen. SpaceX says it will announce who is flying — and why — on Monday, September 17th.

The BFR, or the Big Falcon Rocket, is the giant rocket that SpaceX is currently developing to send humans to the Moon and Mars. The BFR design, [presented] by CEO Elon Musk last year, consists of a combined rocket and spaceship, called the BFS for Big Falcon Spaceship. The main rocket will have 31 main Raptor engines and be capable of sending up 150 tons to low Earth orbit, according to that presentation.

(Yeah, yeah, BFR stands for “Big Falcon Rocket.” Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Say no more, say no more.)

SpaceX had already announced (in early 2017) plans for two people to take such a trip; it’s not immediately not clear if this new announcement is one of those or yet a third person. The tweet does say that the name of the person as well as the reason for the trip will be announced Monday 17 September.

(17) MESSAGE FROM A CRYPTIC KRYPTONIAN. Erin Donnelly, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story “Henry Cavill Posts Complex Superman Vibe as Reports Claim He’s Leaving Superhero Role” says that Henry Cavill posted a video on Instagram wearing a “Krypton Lifting Team” and waving a Superman action figure around, leaving his 6.4 million followers wondering what this means.

View this post on Instagram

Today was exciting #Superman

A post shared by Henry Cavill (@henrycavill) on

(18) DAREDEVIL. Nextflix release the Daredevil Season 3 teaser trailer.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/19/18 This Scroll Intentionally Left Blank

(1) WOTF NEWS. Writers of the Future Contest quarterly finalist Benjamin C. Kinney has withdrawn his story and posted this statement on his blog:

Earlier this week, I received a phone call informing me that my final submission to the Writers of the Future contest (first quarter 2018) had been selected as a finalist. However, after contemplating the information1 that past winners have shared about the contest in recent weeks, I have withdrawn my finalist story from consideration.

I would not judge anyone for their past (or future) decisions to be involved in the contest, whether or not they act(ed) out of ignorance. After all, many writers – myself included – have long treated this contest as a normal fixture of our community. I hope my choice will help encourage others to reexamine that assumption.

For myself, no award is worth supporting an organization that has hurt and misused so many friends, fellow authors, illustrators, and human beings.

(2) THE FIRST ONE IS FREE. Episode 1 of “James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction” is free at iTunes.

(3) FANFIC AND HISTORY. The Organization for Transformative Works (the closest thing to a central hub for transformative works fandom) is currently running a membership drive, and has highlighted their Open Doors project for the preservation of fannish history: “Your Donations Preserve Fannish History!”

Have you ever gone back to look for a fic you read years ago and found out it’s disappeared from the internet? We’ve all been there. As fandom grows and years go by, countless thousands of fanworks disappear every day—entire archives go offline every month, and with them treasures are forever lost to fandom and future generations of fans.

That’s where Open Doors comes in! Open Doors is a project of the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW), dedicated to preserving and archiving fannish voices. It works with the Archive of Our Own (AO3) to protect your old favorites from other places around the web. Your donations give us the resources we need to continue this work. In 2017 alone, Open Doors was able to preserve almost 43,000 fanworks thanks to your support!

(4) AUCTION OF ROLLY CRUMP COLLECTION. Gwynne Watkins, in “See Rare and Wonderful Disneyland memorabilia From Small World, Haunted Mansion, and the Enchanted Tiki Room Before It Goes on Auction Block” on Yahoo! Entertainment, says there is a big auction on April 28 from the collection of Rolly Crump, who was an animator and designer of Disneyland rides in the 1950s and 1960s.

I remember the flying saucer poster from the days when it was first in use.

(5) THE MANGA EXCEPTION. James Davis Nicoll isn’t always dialed up to 11 about unfinished series: “Halfway to Nowhere: On Enjoying the Narrative Journey”.

Like so many other readers, I am frustrated by interminable series that never end. I complain. Loudly. Publicly. In print (well, HTML). I do this because it’s the right thing to do. I may have a twinkling of a hope that some authors will wake up and conclude their series. But that hope is as long-lived as a firefly. Alas.

I do make an exception for works in which the destination is never the point, in which the goal is simply to enjoy the journey.

Take, for example, Hitoshi Ashinano’s classic manga series Yokohama Kaidashi Kik?. …

(6) OMAZE. Omaze features a chance to meet Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke as the prize in its new fundraiser.

  • Hang out with Emilia Clarke (the Mother of Dragons herself!) over lunch
  • Get a sneak peek of what it’s like on the top-secret Game of Thrones set in Belfast
  • Be flown out to Northern Ireland and put up in a 4-star hotel

Every donation supports the Royal College of Nursing Foundation.

The Royal College of Nursing Foundation provides vital support for the nurses, midwives and health care assistants who care for us and our families day in and day out. The Foundation encourages young people to join the nursing profession, funds education and training opportunities, lends a hand to those struggling to meet the rising cost of living and provides advice and support to get their lives back on track.

A funny video of Emilia Clarke trying to spill the beans:

…Watch Daenerys Targaryen’s behind-the-scenes tour of Game of Thrones! Spoiler: Kit Harington (Jon Snow) and Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo) may or may not make eyebrow-raising cameos.

 

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian forwarded Brevity’s Hollywood-inspired dinosaur pun.

(8) ROBOPROF. They haven’t taken over the teacher’s job….yet! “Robots are helping pupils to learn in Finland”.

Elias, the new language teacher in a school in southern Finland, has endless patience for repetition, never makes a pupil feel embarrassed for asking a question and can even do the “Gangnam Style,” dance. Elias is also a robot.

Elias is a language learning solution comprising a humanoid robot and mobile application, currently being trialed in a year-long pilot program at alongside a maths-teaching robot at a primary school in Finland’s third-largest city.

The robot can speak 23 languages and is equipped with software that allows it to understand students’ requirements.

(9) EPISODE RECAP. Daniel Dern says:

Episode 3 of Netflix’s Lost in Space comes remarkably close to where one of the characters could say (with alarm), “Our hovercraft is full of eels!”

(Close, as in, not a hovercraft. Or even a Lovecraft.)

(10) HERE’S TO YOU, MISSING ROBINSONS. Geek Interviews delivers an “Interview With The Robinsons.”

The cast of Netflix’s Lost in Space might be lost in the show, but in reality, they are pretty well-versed in pop culture and could navigate around the many questions we tossed at them. Geek Culture caught up with the stars of the Robinsons family in Tokyo, consisting of Toby Stephens, Molly Parker, Taylor Russell, Mina Sundwall, and Maxwell Jenkins.

 

(11) ANON. Trailer for Anon coming to Netflix.

Sal Frieland is a detective in a world with no privacy or anonymity; where everyone’s lives are transparent, traceable, and recorded by the authorities; where crime almost ceases to exist. But in trying to solve a series of murders, Frieland stumbles on a young woman known only as the Girl. She has no identity, no history and is invisible to the cops. Sal realizes this may not be the end of crime, but the beginning.

 

(12) THE PRO CIRCUIT. The BBC covers “The harsh realities of being a professional ‘girl gamer'”.

Trolls told Leahviathan to “get cancer and die” and made rape threats because she promoted a game they didn’t like. She is pragmatic: “They bother me, but I know by and large, they’re not real. I try to just separate them from the reality of what I do.”

It’s imperative to learn how to cope with the scale and intensity of the vitriol that can sometimes be experienced. Ignoring trolls and refusing them the attention they crave is a key strategy. Alternatively, calling their bluff and trolling them back in a positive way often helps defuse the situation. Leahviathan also has a moderation crew who help manage abusive comments.

Leahviathan doesn’t reveal her surname or where she lives, which is quite common for live streamers. It’s important to preserve a little bit of privacy.

(13) HUSH-A-BOOM. “The return of a secret British rocket site”. Maybe not that secret as they were testing engines, which would have been noisy; now, noise reduction is part of the research program.

… Originally a World War Two training base for bomber crews, RAF Westcott became the Guided Projectile Establishment in 1946, and was renamed the Rocket Propulsion Establishment (RPE) a year later.

One of RPE’s initial roles was to study seized Nazi rocket planes and rockets – like the Messerschmitt Me-163 Komet, the V1 Doodlebug and the V2 ballistic missile – and also learn what they could from captured German rocket scientists, some of whom stayed on as employees and worked at the site until the 1960s. “As an apprentice at Westcott I well remember seeing a V2 rocket in its trailer, a Messerschmitt Komet and a Saunders-Roe rocket plane,” says Ed Andrews, a Westcott veteran who now helps look after the historic site.

…In addition to such safety concerns, Westcott’s new rocketeers will have new environmental concerns to worry about, not least because the site is a bit of a wildlife haven – with kestrels, rabbits, deer, red kites and bats amongst its occasional inhabitants. “We have had to relocate some bats from some old buildings to make sure they are kept happy,” says Mark Thomas, chief executive of Reaction Engines.

“We’ve also done a huge amount of work on noise reduction. The five-metre-high wall around our Sabre test stand is for noise suppression and we expect a remarkably low level of noise as a result. But tests will only run for short periods in any case,” says Thomas. That’ll please the neighbours: former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s country pile is next door.

Whether British-based rocketeers can create a resurgence at Westcott remains to be seen. But at least they now have a chance. Just last week Reaction Engines secured a massive £26m ($35.9m) investment from aircraft and rocket maker Boeing and jet engine maker Rolls-Royce….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Where Did Time Travel Come From?” on YouTube, the Nerdwriter traces the origin of time travel stories to Charles Darwin and the nineteenth-century utopian romance.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/17/18 Scrolls of Mystery and Imagination

By JJ:

(1) THE RIGHT STUFF, WITH A NEW WRINKLE.

Most of you may remember that at just 9 years old I raised funds via GoFundMe to attend my first Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama and that one day I will be an astronaut, scientist and an engineer. Since then outlets like GoFundMe not only help my STEM dreams come true but others as well. Just this year through GoFundMe I raised over $20,000 to send over a 1000 girls to see the movie Hidden Figures because it was important to me that girls know that with drive, determination, and hard work you be anything, a scientist, a mathematician, an engineer, an astronaut or maybe the President of the United States even when the odds are against you!

I am 14 now and using my voice to not only bring girls of color to STEM/STEAM but all kids all over the U.S. and abroad.

I’m so excited about the upcoming movie A Wrinkle in Time, which is scheduled to come out spring 2018.

My goal is to send a 1000 girls to see this movie.

Why? I have a lot of reasons but the main ones are:

  1. It shows young, black girls deserving a chance to be a part of the scifi cultural canon.
  2. It has a female protagonist in a science fiction film. A brown girl front and center who looks like me in the role of Meg, a girl traveling to different planets and encountering beings and situations that I’d never seen a girl of color in.
  3. Most impressive and importantly, it’s a fantasy film that is not about some white boys fighting evil, but about a black girl overcoming it.

Thanks to donors, including a $10,000 gift from JJ Abrams and his wife Katie McGrath, the goal has been exceeded. Richardson says that any funds raised above what is needed for the movie event will go to projects, events, and scholarships to bring diversity and gender equality to the STEM field.

(2) ELIMINATING CONFUSION. The opening weekend of Marvel’s Black Panther film has unsurprisingly been marked by attacks and trolling. No sooner had the screenings started, says Lauren Rearick at Teen Vogue, than posts began appearing on social media claiming that white people who attended showings of the movie were being attacked by black people.

The social media posts in question have used images from previous acts of violence that have absolutely nothing to do with the film. Among the photos being used include a woman who was attacked at a bar in Sweden last month, and Colbie Holderness, ex-wife of former White House staff secretary Rob Porter who recently opened up about alleged domestic abuse.

People on social media are fighting back against the false claims by sharing links to Teen Vogue and other articles documenting the fake photos.

Trolls have also been targeting theatres showing the film, determined to set them straight about the fictional nature of the film:

Variety reported that Black Panther’s box office take after Thursday and Friday reached almost $76 million, marking the eighth-highest opening day ever, and third largest for Marvel, according to comScore.

(3) GIVE THE SHOGGOTH A TIME HUG. Dr. Janelle Shane, whose work with neural networks turned loose on generating Harry Potter fiction, Dungeons & Dragons game scripts, and Christmas Carols has previously featured on File 770, last week set her twisted brainchild to composing Candy Heart messages, using messages taken from real candy as input. The neural network not only uses words it is fed, but it creates what it thinks are similar words to use in its results as well. Some of the stranger romantic messages it generated:

ALL HOVER
OOG LOVE
TIME HUG
SWOOL MAT
BEAR WIG
TWEET UP BAT
LOVE 2000 HOGSYEA
YOU ARE BOA
SWEAT PEAR

Dr. Shane adds:

There was yet another category of message, a category you might be able to predict given the prevalence of four-letter words in the original dataset. The neural network thought of some nice new four-letter words to use. Unfortunately, some of those words already had other meanings. Let’s just say that the overall effect was surprisingly suggestive. Fill out the form here and I’ll send them to you.

(4) ORIGIN STORY. Oor Wombat has revealed the possible inspiration for her Hugo Whalefall speech:

(5) DELIBERATELY SCUTTLED. Barnes and Noble appears to be scaling back operations, as a prelude to a complete shutdown. But the ship didn’t sink on its own, says blogger audreyii_fic in “The entirely unnecessary demise of Barnes & Noble”:

On Monday morning, every single Barnes & Noble location – that’s 781 stores – told their full-time employees to pack up and leave. The eliminated positions were as follows: the head cashiers (those are the people responsible for handling the money), the receiving managers (the people responsible for bringing in product and making sure it goes where it should), the digital leads (the people responsible for solving Nook problems), the newsstand leads (the people responsible for distributing the magazines), and the bargain leads (the people responsible for keeping up the massive discount sections)…

We’re not talking post-holiday culling of seasonal workers. This was the Red Wedding. Every person laid off was a full-time employee. These were people for whom Barnes & Noble was a career. Most of them had given 5, 10, 20 years to the company. In most cases it was their sole source of income.

There was no warning.

But it gets worse…

The Barnes & Noble executives do not intend to rebuild.

How do I know this? Because every decision from the upper levels is being made solely to increase cash on hand.

(6) HOPES DASHED. Benjamin C. Kinney, whose essays on neuroscience have been featured on File 770 in the past, relates a tale of woe in “The Story that Never Was”:

I hit a writer milestone yesterday, though a sad one it is. You see, about a month ago, I had another short story accepted at a professional SFF magazine! I was just waiting on the contract to make it official, and then tell you all about my delightful Fairy Gentrification story. The eldritch diner with the portal between worlds was torn down for condos years ago – but there’s one last fairy chevalier stranded in this world, seeking out the owners’ son.

But, alas, it is not to be. Because the magazine has died, with my story in its casket.

The publication in question, PerVisions, has been defending a trademark suit against their original name, Persistent Visions, by an animation production company of the same name, and according to Publisher Christophe Pettus in a story on Locus Online:

The core reason for us having to stop accepting work is that our budget for acquisitions was largely consumed by a long and unpleasant dispute over the name of the publication. Although the other party was not in the publishing industry and we had no intention of causing any confusion with their services, ultimately, it became clear that no compromise except changing the name of the journal was possible.

Sadly, working through that legal issue was very expensive, and consumed our available capital. I would not ask to publish material that I could not pay a decent rate for, and keeping authors in suspense while the future of the journal is decided is not fair to them.

The website will remain live, so that stories they previously published will be preserved.

(7) BELIEVE IT OR NOT. Deadline reports that the 80s TV series The Greatest American Hero is getting a reboot:

With New Girl coming to an end, series’ co-star Hannah Simone has been tapped for the title role in ABC’s single-camera comedy pilot The Greatest American Hero, from the Fresh Off the Boat duo of Rachna Fruchbom and Nahnatchka Khan. In the reimagining with a gender switch of Steven J. Cannell’s 1981 cult classic, the unlikely (super)hero at the center, played by William Katt in the original, is being reconceived as an Indian-American woman.

 

(8) STANDLEE STILL, STAY SILENT. Kevin Standlee has announced that he will not be adding any Hugo recommendations to the Bay Area Science Fiction Association’s list this year:

I’m not making any Hugo Award recommendations this year. As one of the members of this year’s Hugo Awards Administration Subcommittee, I don’t want my own personal preferences being seen as trying to influence anything. But BASFA continues with its practice of meeting to discuss works/people they think are Award-worthy… if you go to BASFA’s web site, you should see a link to this year’s recommendations. Or you can just download the 2018 BASFA Hugo recommendations PDF directly.

(9) NO ROOM AT THE INN. GenCon attendees with accessibility needs report that this year’s hotel room reservation system is unable to allocate ADA accessible rooms online, and that fans have to wait up to 2 weeks to hear if they have an ADA room. Meanwhile, the hotel room blocks continue to be sold online to other members, and hotels which run out of regular rooms are apparently assigning their ADA rooms to online registrants instead of holding them back for accessibility applicants.

Maria Turner: IMPORTANT PSA:

Housing will no longer be allowed to be traded to avoid cancellation fees.

AND people requesting ADA rooms may not get confirmation they actually got an ADA room for TWO WEEKS!!! This is totally unacceptable. Totally. I am awaiting a response from Gen Con on this matter.

Todd Bunt: I am sad today. My friend a disabled veteran cannot get a room this year since there were no ADA room reserved. He has a hard time walking but the only room he can get is 10 miles away. Last years he got an ADA room in one of the hotels attached to the convention center. (t made it easy for him to go to the room to rest during the day. He was looking forward to going to GenCon this year but that was taken from him. Maybe next year they can hold some ADA rooms for those that need the help.

Daniel Lagos: Has anyone who needed an ADA room at any hotel in the Gencon block, who called and got the answering machine for the call center, actually gotten a call back yet?

I had an 8:44pm time for getting a room, and I left my information in my message. So far, I haven’t gotten a call yet. (more comments follow)

Doug Triplett: Arrrgh. I tried to call the ada line and they shut it off. Said it wasn’t working this weekend. Anyone else had an issue with that today. And in the portal the closest hotel is at least 10 miles away. This sucks!

Miriam Breslauer: NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

Gencon set my housing request time to 10:28 pm. Because I need an ADA room I had to call them. There was no one there, because it was outside business hours! WTF! I am beyond pissed. Hopefully, they just call me back tomorrow and there are magically still some rooms left.

Not cool Gencon. Not cool at all.

Maria Turner: Does anyone know where one submits an ADA complaint re the hotel reservation process icw a major convention?…

What is wrong with the process is the way the search criteria is processed.

1) ADA requirement is not a component of the housing acquisition query screen

2) Hotels with all available rooms are returned as available

3) it is not until a person goes to a hotel returned from the initial query that one requests an ADA room with no idea if there is even one available at that hotel or not

4) No one will confirm for me if hotels are selling ADA rooms to non-ADA attendees as current law provides if there is demand that exceeds their supply of non-ADA rooms

5) ADA attendees wait up to two weeks to receive confirmation that their reservation for the room and/or hotel they requested is accepted

6) non-ADA attendees receive confirmation immediately their reservation was accepted.

7) ADA attendees may be moved to other hotels

I’ve been back and forth with Mike Boozer regarding the process, and he’s unresponsive citing supply and demand when that’s not the issue.

All the people I know who have obtained ADA rooms have had to do so out of block. I’m not paying $770/night at the JW, so we’ll likely be commuting if we don’t get a room via Authors/Artists housing block this weekend.

ADA Room checkbox needs to sit on that initial screen, the available hotels list returned should be only hotels with ADA room availability.

Thus far, there do not appear to be any posts on Gencon’s Facebook page which address the situation.

(10) ECLECTIC LADY. Janelle Monáe, who starred in the Hugo-nominated Hidden Figures as well as releasing Afrofuturist music albums The ArchAndroid, Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase), and The Electric Lady (which was nominated for a Tiptree Award in 2014) has announced a new SFFnal album Dirty Computer:

Janelle Monáe has confirmed early details of her follow up to 2013 album The Electric Lady. Titled Dirty Computer, the album currently has no release date but a trailer starring Monáe alongside actress Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok and the upcoming Annihilation) can be seen below.

(11) BIRTHDAYS.

  • Born February 17, 1912 – Andre Norton, Author (Beastmaster, Witch World)
  • Born February 17, 1925 – Hal Holbrook, Actor (Capricorn One, Creepshow)
  • Born February 17, 1954 – Rene Russo, Actor (The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, Thor)
  • Born February 17, 1981 – Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Actor (Inception, Looper)
  • Born February 17, 1991 – Bonnie Wright, Actor (Harry Potter)

(12) WALKAWAY GONE WALKABOUT. Cory Doctorow, author of 2017’s Walkaway, will be doing a Down Under book tour for the novel starting next week, with stops in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide in Australia, and Wellington in New Zealand. Perhaps he’ll wave to Camestros as he passes through Aberdeen.

 

(13) MOUNT TSUNDOKU, IN 12 PARTS. Grant Snider’s Incidental Comics features a story which may sound familiar to many Filers: My Bookshelf

 

(14) A NOVEL WAY TO DEAL WITH MARKETING SPAM.

(15) RE-VISITING A… ER, CLASSIC? According to SyFy, a feature film version of the TV series “V” is in the works:

Desilu Studios has announced it’s going to bring V The Movie, based on the classic 1983 miniseries, to theaters in a big-budget film version that will be written and directed by Kenneth Johnson, creator of the original show.

The two-part miniseries aired on NBC in 1983 and chronicled an invasion of Earth by vicious reptilian aliens who disguised themselves as friendly humanoids, triggering a human resistance movement. A metaphor for revolution against a fascist government, V was hugely popular with audiences, spawning a 1984 sequel, V: The Final Battle, a short-lived 1985 show called V: The Series, and a 2009 reboot that lasted for two seasons on ABC.

Casting, production details, and a release date for V The Movie are all yet to be determined.

(16) MORE YOUNG PEOPLE READ OLD SFF. This time out, James Davis Nicoll has them reading Tanith Lee’s horror story “The Gorgon”, and the reactions cross the whole spectrum, from “intriguing and mysterious” to “annoying and racist”, with some bonus commentary on imprudent alcohol consumption.

(17) THE NO AWARD AWARD. In the February 2, 2018, issue of the Times Literary Supplement, J.C. says:

In early December, we stumbled on a blog at the Paris Review Daily site, written by Ursula K. Le Guin, on the subject of one of our most coveted awards, the Jean-Paul Sartre Prize for Prize Refusal. It is open to any writer who has refused a literary prize.

“I first learned about the Sartre Prize from NB”, Ms Le Guin wrote, “the last page of London’s Times Literary Supplement, signed by J.C. The fame of the award, named for the writer who refused the Nobel in 1964, is or anyhow should be growing fast.” Ms Le Guin flattered us further by quoting from a past NB: “So great is the status of the Jean-Paul Sartre Prize for Prize Refusal that writers all over Europe and America are turning down awards in the hope of being nominated for a Sartre”. As we noted at the time, and Ms Le Guin repeated it, “The Sartre Prize itself has never been refused”…

Ursula Le Guin died on January 22, aged eighty-eight. She left us with an idea, however: “I do hope you will recommend me to the Basement Labyrinth so that I can refuse to be even nominated, thus earning the Pre-Refusal of Awards Award, which has yet to be named”. It has a name now: The Ursula K. Le Guin Prize, for writers who refuse shortlisting, longlisting and any other form of nomination for literary prizes. The essay, “A Much Needed Literary Award”, is included in her final book, No Time To Spare: Thinking About What Matters, published in December last year.

(18) MARKET REPORT. David Steffen has compiled the “SFWA Market Report for February” for the SFWA Blog, listing those publications which are opening or closing for submissions.

(19) STROSS SHOUTS AT CLOUDS. Not every SF work needs to conform to strict worldbuilding standards, writes Cora Buhlert “In Defence of Wallpaper Science Fiction”:

A few days ago, Paul Weimer pointed me on Twitter to this post by Charles Stross in which Stross laments the current state of the science fiction genre, because a lot of SF writers these days focus more on plot, action, characters and their relationships than on worldbuilding, particularly on economics, which is the aspect of worldbuilding that is closest to Stross’ heart.

Whenever Stross posts a variation of this “other people are doing science fiction wrong” rant, it inevitably gets my hackles up…

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a kernel of truth in Stross’ post. Because all too often, things show up in science fiction, just because “that’s the way things are”, whether in genre or life, regardless if this makes sense in this particular setting. The prevalence of Galactic Empires vaguely modeled on the Roman or British Empire in science fiction is a result of tropes being imported from other genre works unexamined, as is the fact that every future military ever is either modelled on the US Marine Corps of the 20th/21st centuries or the British Royal Navy of the 18th and 19th centuries and that every starship is modelled on a modern aircraft carrier…

So if all that Stross’ post did was implore science fiction writers to interrogate their worldbuilding choices and ask themselves “Why did I choose this?” and “Does this even make sense for the world that I built and if not, how can I make it fit?”, I would probably have heartily applauded. However, that’s not all he does.

(20) THE PUNCH LINE. So an SFF writer, a zombie, and a cat walk into a bar…

(21) THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS.  A Kickstarter has gone live for Tiny Wastelands, a post-apocalyptic RPG, and it’s already blown way past its goal in the first few days, racking up $22,906 in pledges against its original goal of $6,000.

Tiny Wastelands is post-apocalyptic roleplaying in a minimalist package! Using the rules in this book, you’ll be able to play survivors of lost and destroyed civilizations, mutants rampaging the wastelands and so, so much more.

Stretch goals include additional micro-settings for the game written by various authors, including this one already achieved:

$14,000: Paul Weimer takes us to High Plains Drift!

“The High Plains of the Dakotas are wide, flat, and deadly. Between the mutant prairie dogs, what lurks in the minuteman silos, and the farmers turned bandits who have adapted farm tractors to war vehicles, survival on the plains is nasty, brutish and short.

What makes it unique? Farm Tractor war vehicles, mutant wildlife and endless horizons in a hardscrabble world.”

(22) WHICH CAME FIRST? Hampus Eckerman believes that Filers will enjoy this SFF film short from 2016:

[Thanks to Camestros Felapton, Cora Buhlert, Hampus Eckerman, lauowolf, PJ Evans, RedWombat, Standback for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 Contributing Editor of the Day JJ.]

Escape Pod Makes Editorial Staff Changes

Escape Artists announced today that Divya Breed and Mur Lafferty are the new co-editors of Escape Pod, the weekly science fiction podcast, filling the role formerly occupied by Norm Sherman. Benjamin C. Kinney will take on the role of assistant editor.

Norm Sherman has stepped away for a variety of personal reasons.

Alasdair Stuart, owner of Escape Artists, Inc.. endorsed the new editors:

I’m incredibly happy to see Mur and Divya take the helm at Escape Pod. Their talent, discernment, and enthusiasm for the field is inspiring, inclusive, and welcome. I can’t wait to see them build on the esteemed past of the world’s first science fiction podcast and set its course for new stories.

Divya Breed

Divya Breed has been with Escape Pod for the past two years, first as an Associate Editor, and then as Assistant Editor. She is also an author of science fiction, writing as S.B. Divya. Her short stories have been published in various magazines, including Lightspeed, Mothership Zeta, and Tor.com, and her writing appears in the indie game Rogue Wizards. Her debut science-fiction novella, Runtime, was released by Tor.com Publications in May, 2016, and is a Nebula Award Finalist.

Mur Lafferty

Mur Lafferty is an author and pioneer podcaster who has been involved with Escape Artists since nearly the beginning (after Serah Eley Fed-Ex’d brownies to her as a bribe to spread the word about this new podcast magazine format). She was one of the founding editors of Pseudopod, editor of Escape Pod for a brief time, and then founder and editor of Mothership Zeta, the quarterly ezine for Escape Artists. She is currently the co-host (with Matt Wallace) of Ditch Diggers, a Hugo Finalist for Best Fancast, and the author of the science fiction murder mystery Six Wakes, out from Orbit.

Benjamin C. Kinney

Benjamin C. Kinney has been an Associate Editor for Escape Pod for the past year. He is an itinerant neuroscientist with a frozen New England heart, though nowadays he lives in St. Louis with two cats and his Martian wife. He no longer creates cyborg monkeys, after too many nights delivering them Prozac. His fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, PodCastle, Flash Fiction Online, and more.

Escape Pod is the premier science fiction podcast magazine, bringing its 40,000 listeners a variety of original and reprinted short fiction.