Pixel Scroll 9/27/17 How Do You Get Down Off A Pixel? You Don’t, You Get Down Off A Scroll

(1) THUMBS UP. Good words: “Blade Runner 2049: The first reactions are in”.

“Good news!” tweeted Guardian scribe Jordan Hoffman. “Blade Runner 2049 is a terrific continuation and expansion of the orig[inal].”

Erik Davis from the movie site Fandango agreed, calling Denis Villeneuve’s film a “sci-fi masterpiece“.

“If you were worried, don’t be,” said Empire contributing editor Dan Jolin of the follow-up to Ridley Scott’s film.

(2) CONSPIRACY THEORY. The Wall Street Journal noticed a King Tut-like pattern among the companies shown in the original movie: “Science Affliction: Are Companies Cursed by Cameos in Blade Runner?” The story is behind a paywall, unfortunately.

The 1982 sci-fi classic is back with a splashy sequel but Atari, Pan Am, RCA and other companies featured in the futuristic original struggled in the real world

(3) SHAPE OF TREK TO COME. ScienceFiction.com points to the way: “‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Trailer Teases The Full Season”. BEWARE SPOILERS.

Given this somewhat unorthodox approach to their pilot, it’s only natural that they would want to give viewers a taste of what’s to come, a sense of what the show is actually going to be on a weekly basis, now that it’s underway. This is especially so given that CBS hopes to use ‘Discovery’ to drive interest in their streaming service, CBS All Access. To that end, the network has released a “what’s next?” trailer for the show’s first season

 

(4) UNBEARABLE. BBC review of “Goodbye Christopher Robin”, which “looks sweet on the surface, but is quite depressing – ‘a wolf in teddy bear clothing,’ writes Nicholas Barber.”

Goodbye Christopher Robin is a strange proposition. It’s a film that won’t attract many viewers who aren’t already fans of AA Milne’s classic Winnie-the-Pooh books, and yet its explicit purpose is to ensure that anyone who sees it will never enjoy those books in the same way again. Remember Saving Mr Banks? Remember how it suggested that PL Travers wrote Mary Poppins because she had an alcoholic father and a suicidal mother? Compared to Goodbye Christopher Robin, that was a feel-good treat for all the family.

(5) DEDICATED SPACE. The Marsh Collection covers both science fiction and Scientology: “SDSU Library Debuts New Science Fiction Room”.

The Edward E. Marsh Golden Age of Science Fiction Room will open on Thursday, Sept. 28, giving San Diego State University and the local community access to one of the most comprehensive collections of science fiction in the United States. The opening celebration begins at 2 p.m. on the first floor of the Love Library on the SDSU campus. Eventually, the Marsh Room will serve as the main point of contact between the community and SDSU’s Special Collections and University Archives, which is home to Marsh’s collection.

Marsh, who attended SDSU in the 1960s, spent 30 years assembling his $2.25 million collection of signed and inscribed first editions by science fiction greats, including Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. Included are the fiction and non-fiction writing of L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology. Marsh gifted the entire collection to SDSU in 2013.

Donald Westbrook, who received a Ph.D. in religious studies from Claremont Graduate University in 2015, called the collection “a preeminent resource for scientology studies [which] continues to receive fuller academic attention as one of many American-born new religious movements.” His book about the Church of Scientology is due out next year from Oxford University Press.

Living history

The Marsh collection is a recent addition to SDSU’s Special Collections, a repository for more than 80,000 printed volumes, over 500 manuscript and archival collections, 800 linear feet of university records, plus numerous graphic and digital collections and ephemera.

[Gale Etschmaier, dean of the Library and Information Access] said relocating Special Collections to the library space in and around the Marsh Room will strengthen SDSU’s role as a source of “living history”—the documents, photos, letters, newspaper clippings and oral accounts that enable researchers to understand the past through their own critical senses rather than through another’s interpretation.

(6) MORE WOMEN ACCUSE KNOWLES. Indiewire reports that in the wake of allegations against the Ain’t It Cool News founder, more women have stepped forward with stories about their experiences: “Four More Women Accuse Harry Knowles of Sexual Assault and Harassment”.

Another film writer, who goes by the online handle “sick__66” and wishes to stay otherwise anonymous, alleges that as recently as this May, Knowles harassed her on Twitter. The Miami resident, 23, was first approached by Knowles online in April, after he followed her on the social media platform and reached out via Twitter direct messages. The two have never met in person.

Over the course of a month, the pair shared a friendly conversation over direct messages about film history, with Knowles frequently sharing stories of his career and connections. (IndieWire reviewed the full history of these messages.) In the messages, Knowles writes frequently about things he’s done over the course of his work, name-dropping such celebrities as Kevin Smith, Peter Jackson, and Guillermo del Toro. (At one point, he sent “sick__66” a link to his wedding invite video, noting that it was directed by Jackson.)

After a month of communicating, Knowles asked “sick__66” to come to Austin, to which she did not respond, deeming the interaction “creepy.” …

(7) WORKAROUNDS NEEDED. Jason Sanford asks “What happens to storytelling when the audience knows everything?” Stories of a certain type become harder to set up, though others must surely be easier to tell – what would they be?

We’re already seeing major changes in society from people having access to information through mobile devices. Paper maps and guides, which existed for thousands of years, are nearly extinct in some countries as people use their phones and GPS to navigate. Printed encyclopedias and dictionaries have also mostly disappeared, replaced by Wikipedia and other online resources. And social movements like the Arab Spring owed much of their power to the instantaneous sending of information between people by social media.

Those are merely the start of the changes we’ll see when every human has instant access to any information they desire. And one intriguing question I’ve been pondering is what this continual access to information will do to storytelling.

Here’s the issue: the vast majority of stories deal with an information gap between that story’s characters. This gap between what is known and not known by different characters helps create a story’s drama.

For example, in Romeo and Juliet a main character commits suicide because he believes his lover is dead. But what happens to that story when the characters can instantly find out they’re both alive?

Or what about Liam Neeson’s film Taken, where a father hunts for the people who kidnapped his daughter? What happens to that story when the father can instantly know the address where his daughter is being kept? Or his daughter can access an online database to learn of her kidnapper’s true nature when she first meets him?

(8) WRITTEN IN STONE. In “Did Ron Howard tweet out a Han Solo clue through Ralph McQuarrie’s art?”, SyFy Wire explains how the clue was solved and speculates about what it means for the Han Solo film.

Less than two hours later, one fan with an eagle eye named Paul Bateman recognized this carving and distressed ruin to be the language seen on a piece by the late Star Wars conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie, who inspired the aesthetic for what we all visualize as the world of Star Wars. Bateman, also a concept designer and art director, called McQuarrie one of his friends.

(9) BOARDING PARTY. News From ME’s Mark Evanier had a bad experience with an airline – not so unusual – but received a surprisingly frank answer when he complained, as he explains in “Fright Attendants” and “Fright Attendants: Part 2”.

What occurred is kind of difficult to explain but basically, one employee of the airline — a lady at the gate — told me something. A second employee — a flight attendant — told me something different during the boarding process. I said, “That’s not what I was told” and I repeated what the lady at the gate had told me and I even gave her name. The attendant accused me of…well, basically lying about her telling me that. “That’s contrary to our policies, sir,” she said. “No one would tell you that.” My traveling companion backed me up strongly and she was accused of being rude and suddenly this flight attendant was announcing that she had the power to have us both removed from the flight.

…The Customer Relations lady was totally with me and clearly frustrated. She said — and this is a quote — “When I fly now, I just do whatever they say, even when I know it’s wrong because you never know what’s going to set some of them off. If they somehow get it into their heads that you’re a threat to the flight, you’re in for a lot of trouble.”

This is a woman who works for this airline. She is in a position to receive and deal with complaints about flight attendants who misbehave. And she is afraid of the occasional flight attendant on that airline. She also told me that recently, they had two incidents where flight attendants ejected pilots’ wives.

Rhetorical Question: If you were a pilot and they thought maybe your wife was a threat to the safety of the flight, what does that say about you?

(10) ON WRY. Anatoly Belilovsky entertains with “Dear Editor” at the SFWA Blog. The story doesn’t lend itself to an excerpt, but his bio does —

Anatoly Belilovsky was born in a city that went through six or seven owners in the last century, all of whom used it to do a lot more than drive to church on Sundays; he is old enough to remember tanks rolling through it on their way to Czechoslovakia in 1968. After being traded to the US for a shipload of grain and a defector to be named later (courtesy of the Jackson-Vanik amendment), he learned English from Star Trek reruns and went on to become a pediatrician in an area of New York where English is only the fourth most commonly used language. He has neither cats nor dogs, but was admitted into SFWA in spite of this deficiency…

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 27, 1967  — My Mother, The Car begins to air in France. Unlike Jerry Lewis, the French did not find any deep, previously unappreciated cultural significance in this export.
  • September 27, 1979 — Buck Rogers in the 25th Century began its regular episodic run (after the telefilm) with a show titled “Planet of the Slave Girls.”
  • September 27, 1985The Twilight Zone returns to television with brand new episodes.

(12) ON THE ROAD AGAIN. Our literary cartographer, Camestros Felapton, discusses how the territory and the story interact in “The Plot Elements of Fantasy Maps”.

There is a new good article on fantasy maps at The Map Room Blog: http://www.maproomblog.com/2017/09/the-territory-is-not-the-map/ The point being that much of the discussion of fantasy maps is not the map as such but rather the implausible territories that they depict. Fair point. However, I wanted to loop back to the post I made on the simplified Middle Earth map. A successful fantasy geography requires the terrain to shape the story and The Lord of the Rings does this well. It matters to the story whether the characters are in forests or towns/villages or mountains.

Roads, paths trails

These imply places where the story covers a greater distance. Travel is either uneventful or involves encounters with others. Leaving the path implies not only danger but a shift from the main objective. They are also (random encounters aside) boring but may also imply more personal conversation between characters. Outside of fantasy, a road trip has its own conventions and expectation of bonding between travellers.

(13) DISH SERVED COLD. “Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Radio Telescope Suffers Hurricane Damage”, but not as much as first believed.

When Hurricane Maria raked Puerto Rico last week as a Category 4 storm, it cut off electricity and communications island-wide, including at the Arecibo Observatory, one of the world’s largest radio telescopes.

Initial reports, received via ham radio, indicated significant damage to some of the facility’s scientific instruments. But Nicholas White, a senior vice president at the Universities Space Research Association, which helps run the observatory, tells NPR that the latest information is that a secondary 40-foot dish, thought destroyed, is still intact: “There was some damage to it, but not a lot,” he says.

“So far, the only damage that’s confirmed is that one of the line feeds on the antenna for one of the radar systems was lost,” White says. That part was suspended high above the telescope’s main 1,000-foot dish, which lost some panels when it shook loose and fell down.

(14) UNUSUAL ANIMATION. NPR says “‘Loving Vincent’ Paints Van Gogh Into A Murder Mystery”. It would be hard to pay homage to Vincent Van Gogh with more fervor or devotion than filmmakers Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman bring to Loving Vincent, in which they’ve not only created thousands of new oil paintings in his style, but also made him the subject of a murder-mystery.

It begins in 1891, a year after Van Gogh died, when a postman discovers an undelivered letter the artist wrote to his brother Theo, and sends his very reluctant, very drunk son to deliver it — a task that will prove difficult. The postman’s son discovers that Theo died soon after Vincent did, and then tries to find others who knew him, realizing as he goes that the death that was said to be a suicide, may not have been so cut and dried.

All of this is about what you’d expect of a film — in this case an animated film — that means to make a mystery of Van Gogh’s suicide. But if you’re picturing “animation” in the Disney-drawn or Pixar-computerized senses of the word, you’ll need to think again. In Loving Vincent, it’s as if the paint has leapt directly from Van Gogh’s canvases to the screen, and then started moving.

(15) TROLLING FOR DOLLARS. Intellectual judo, using science against itself! “Rapper B.o.B. raising funds to check if Earth is flat”. But you know that check is going to bounce.

Spoiler: The Earth is not flat.

But US rapper B.o.B. is crowd-funding the launch of satellites to see if he can get some evidence to the contrary.

The rapper, whose real name is Bobby Ray Simmons Jr, has been a vocal proponent of the Flat Earth theory – the claim the Earth is, in fact, a disc and not spherical.

Some proponents of the Flat Earth theory claim NASA employees guard the edge of the world to prevent people falling off.

(16) THINGS THAT GO BUMP. Developing driverless cars based on traffic in India: “Could India’s crowded roads help us create better cars?”

“In 60 seconds you have to consider 70 options,” says my rickshaw driver Raju, leaning over his shoulder as we weave through traffic. We’re navigating the infamous congested streets of Bangalore, and he’s explaining the rules of the road.

Having lived in India for two-and-a-half years, I get what he means. Not an inch of the road is wasted – if there’s a gap, a scooter will fill it. Vehicles travel bumper to bumper. Overtaking is attempted as frequently as possible. Indicators and wing mirrors are optional extras. Most drivers seem to rely on the incessant honking of nearby vehicles – almost a form of echolocation.

But there is method to the madness. Drivers deftly navigate around manoeuvres that would lead to accidents in the UK, and offenders rarely elicit more than a mutter. They’ve adapted to predictable unpredictability.

(17) A BATTERY OF TESTS. “Why switching to fully electric cars will take time” – the BBC has the story.

…Other companies, including Volvo, Jaguar Land Rover and Honda have made similar pledges.

These are undoubtedly ambitious plans – but it is important to recognise their limitations.

They are not saying they will get rid of diesel or petrol cars completely. They are simply promising to make electrified versions of them available.

It is also important to recognise what “electrified” actually means.

It can, of course, refer to fully electric battery powered vehicles. But it can also be used to describe hybrids – and hybrids come in many forms

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Don’t Say Velcro” is a pretty wild musical in which Velcro® protects its trademark!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Edd Vick, Keith Kato, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Blade Runner 2049 “Begins” TV Spot

Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.

Also– the Road to 2049 Official Site collects and presents all the promotional material as a retrospective documentary of the period since the events in the first Blade Runner film — very interesting!

Museum of Pop Culture 20th Anniversary SFF Hall of Fame Inductees

MoPOP in Seattle

MoPOP in Seattle

Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) has announced 24 new inductees to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame for 2016 year.

Creators:

  • Douglas Adams
  • Margaret Atwood
  • Keith David
  • Guillermo del Toro
  • Terry Gilliam
  • Jim Henson
  • Jack Kirby
  • Madeleine L’Engle
  • C.S. Lewis
  • H.P. Lovecraft
  • Leonard Nimoy
  • George Orwell
  • Terry Pratchett
  • Rumiko Takahashi
  • John Williams

Works:

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Blade Runner
  • Dungeons & Dragons
  • The Matrix
  • Myst
  • The Princess Bride
  • Star Trek
  • Wonder Woman
  • X-Files

Last spring, as part of its 20th anniversary celebration, the public was invited to nominate their favorite creators and works for the Hall of Fame. Twenty finalists were selected and the public was given a May 2016 deadline to vote, however, the results were never published, and the current class of inductees includes some who were not finalists, and omits others who were.

According to today’s press release:

Inductees were nominated by the public and selected by a panel of award-winning science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, editors, publishers, and film professionals. The 2016 committee included Jane Espenson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Torchwood), Cory Doctorow (Co-Editor, Boing Boing; Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom), Jen Stuller (Co-Founder, GeekGirlCon), Linda Medley (Castle Waiting), and Ted Chiang (Story of Your Life and Others).

A new exhibition commemorating the 20th anniversary Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, opening March 4, 2017, will invite visitors to explore the lives and legacies of the 108 current inductees through interpretive films, interactive kiosks, and more than 30 artifacts, including Luke Skywalker’s severed hand from George Lucas’ The Empire Strikes Back, the Staff of Ra headpiece from Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, author Isaac Asimov’s typewriter, and the “Right Hand of Doom” from Guillermo del Toro’s film Hellboy.

The Hall of Fame was previously shown as part of the Icons of Science Fiction exhibit when MoPOP was called the Experience Music Project Museum. Founded in 1996, the Hall of Fame was relocated from the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas to EMP in 2004.

Rick Deckard: Overrated!

blade_runner_poster

By Carl Slaughter: With a sequel to the classic science fiction film Blade Runner on the way, it’s time to debunk the myth of Rick Deckard as the legendary Blade Runner.

Deckard is portrayed as an ace replicant hunter, the best Blade Runner in the history of blade running, so good he was brought out of retirement to find and kill 4 of the most dangerous replicants ever.

This is nonsense:

Replicants Roy Batty, Leon Kawalski, Pris Stratton, and Zhora Salome all caught Deckard by surprise.

Replicants Roy Batty, Leon Kawalski, and Zhora Salome almost killed Deckard.

Replicant Leon Kawalski disarms Deckard.

Replicant Leon Kawalski didn’t kill Deckard only because Deckard’s girlfriend replicant Rachael killed Kawalski with his Deckard’s gun.

Replicant Zhora Salome didn’t kill Deckard only because their fight was interrupted by a visitor.

Replicant Roy Batty didn’t kill Deckard only because Batty was about to die and wanted Deckard to hear his last words.

Tyrell Corporation founder Dr. Eldon Tyrell and Tyrell Corporation employee J.F. Sebastian are murdered by replicant leader Roy Batty before Deckard catches up with him.

Replicant Pris Stratton seduced Tyrell’s chess partner Sebastian into infiltrating Tryrell’s quarters before Deckard catches up with her.

All things considered, the legendary Blade Runner Rick Deckard didn’t fare any better than an average police detective.

Pixel Scroll 10/18/16 Talkin ‘Bout My Pixelation

(1) BEVERAGE APPERTAINED. John King Tarpinian is insanely tickled by this visual reference from the latest Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror episode, since Logan’s Run was co-authored by his late buddy George Clayton Johnson.

logans-rum

(2) SOUND OFF. David Steffen’s Long List Anthology Volume 2 Kickstarter successfully funded all the fiction but did not reach audiobook stretch goal. Steffen announced the stories will appear in this order:

Table of Contents

  • “Damage” by David D. Levine
  • “Pockets” by Amal El-Mohtar
  • “Today I Am Paul” by Martin L. Shoemaker
  • “The Women You Didn’t See” by Nicola Griffith (a letter from Letters to Tiptree)
  • “Tuesdays With Molakesh the Destroyer” by Megan Grey
  • “Wooden Feathers” by Ursula Vernon
  • “Three Cups of Grief, By Starlight” by Aliette de Bodard
  • “Madeleine” by Amal El-Mohtar
  • “Neat Things” by Seanan McGuire (a letter from Letters To Tiptree)
  • “Pocosin” by Ursula Vernon
  • “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” by Alyssa Wong
  • “So Much Cooking” by Naomi Kritzer
  • “The Deepwater Bride” by Tamsyn Muir
  • “The Heart’s Filthy Lesson” by Elizabeth Bear
  • “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” by Rose Lemberg
  • “Another Word For World” by Ann Leckie
  • “The Long Goodnight of Violet Wild” by Catherynne M. Valente
  • “Our Lady of the Open Road” by Sarah Pinsker
  • “The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn” by Usman T. Malik
  • “The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps” by Kai Ashante Wilson

(3) THE MCFLY FAMILY CHRONICLE In “Computer Solves a Major Time Travel Problem” by Cathal O’Connell at Cosmos Magazine, the “grandfather paradox” has allegedly been solved by a supercomputer and the research of Israeli physicist Doron Friedman (i.e. you can go back in time, kill your father, and sire another father).

The computer’s second solution is more interesting. The snag is it only works if the father also has the ability to travel in time.

The story goes like this.

In 1954 Marty’s father George travels forward in time one year to 1955, when he impregnates Marty’s mother Lorraine before immediately returning back to 1954 – just as his future son, Marty, arrives and kills him.

Because George’s quick foray into the future allowed him to already conceive his son, the paradox disappears.

(4) TROPE TURNOVERS. Apex Publications’ Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling Anthology, funded by a Kickstarter reported here, is receiving critical praise. They sent backers this update:

I wanted to mention that you may recall we sent out a few ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) in anticipation that we would be releasing this anthology in December. We are pleased to share that Publisher’s Weekly has given our anthology a starred review! Thank you SO much for making this anthology happen, and we hope you enjoy the stories. Huzzah!

(5) ROBBER BARONS. Amanda S. Green has criticized publishers for the past decade for overpricing ebooks, and tells her Mad Genius Club readers there’s no sign it’s going to change. In fact, if they can think of a way, publishers will make the arrangement even more exploitative….

As readers, it means we will have to continue to choose between buying one traditionally published e-book from publishers like Randy Penguin (at $12.99 or more) or buying two or three — or more — indie or small press published e-books. It means choosing to buy e-books from indies or publishers like Baen, sources that don’t add DRM, or buying fro publishers who aren’t afraid to say they think their customers are thieves and that is why they add the DRM. After all, they don’t trust us not to pirate their books or — gasp — resell them after we’re done with them. As readers, it also means we need to be smart and start backing up our e-books to places not connected with our e-readers, etc. Because, as sure as I’m sitting here typing this this morning, I guaran-damn-tee you there is some bean counter sitting in an ivory tower in the publishing industry who is trying to figure out a way to limit the number of times we can read an e-book before we have to buy a new license or something equally as silly. Don’t believe me? Remember, these are the same publishers that put a limit on how many times an e-book can be checked out at a library before the library has to buy — at an inflated rate — the e-book again.

(6) MUSIC OF THE SPHERES. Bladerunner film score composer Vangelis has released a new space-themed opera — “From Composer Vangelis, A True Story Set In outer Space”. You can listen on YouTube.

Rosetta is a concept album, inspired by the European Space Agency mission of the same name. It successfully landed a probe on a comet in 2014 and completed its mission — by total coincidence — within a week of the album’s release.

“I imagine myself being in the position of Rosetta, and going there,” Vangelis says. “It’s something amazing.” Amazing — and disorienting. “You have to go through, sometimes, total dark,” Vangelis says. “You can imagine like a child sometimes.”

 

(7) TAKE ONE DOWN AND PASS IT AROUND. Motherboard says “This Guy Is Replicating ‘Blade Runner’ Shot-for-Shot in MS Paint”. And I say, keep appertaining beverages for yourself until you’re drunk enough to know why this needs to be reported by File 770.

So when we discovered David MacGowan’s tumblr MSP Blade Runner, our response was one of collective awe and fascination. MacGowan is quite literally going through Blade Runner shot-by-shot and illustrating each in MS Paint. The drawings aren’t perfect in terms of artistry—it is MS Paint, after all—and they’re not 100 percent complete in detail. But each moment is instantly recognizable even to someone with only a passing familiarity with the film. And MacGowan has nailed that elusive, pitch-perfect Internet Ugly aesthetic so many of us try and fail to, well, replicate.

(8) SKIPPING THE AUTHENTICITY. Dwayne A. Day lays waste to a TV show in “O, full of scorpions is my mind” at Space Review.

Every few years a major entertainment program has focused on a human spaceflight theme, and usually the results have been pretty bad. In 2007, Law & Order: Criminal Intent did an episode that was based upon astronaut Lisa Nowak’s arrest for attempted murder (another one of their “ripped from the headlines” stories.) Because it was set in New York City, they portrayed the “National Space Agency” as based in New York. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit did another astronaut-based episode in 2008. In 2011, the cable spy drama Covert Affairs aired an episode about a terrorist spy working at NASA headquarters in Washington, DC (see “Tinker, Tailor, NASA, Spy,” The Space Review, July 11, 2011) In 2010, CSI: Miami had an episode dealing with a murder aboard a commercial orbiting spaceplane that operated out of Miami. (See “Space cops,” The Space Review, March 1, 2010)

Normally this is the point in this article where I would make some kind of semi-clever quip about how bad all these shows were. But they were at least watchable. The CSI: Miami episode was probably the best of the bunch, demonstrating at least a passable knowledge of commercial spaceflight. But in retrospect, all of them now look like 2001: A Space Odyssey compared to last week’s episode of the CBS drama Scorpion which featured a character being accidentally blasted into space. It was bad.

There are few words to describe how amazingly bad it was, so here are a lot of them….

Scorpion’s producers don’t really seem to care about accuracy or believability or logic or continuity or consistency. Despite spending what must be huge gobs of money on the episodes, it is amazing how slipshod some of it is—not just the writing, but the production values seemed to demonstrate that nobody had any real interest in making any of it look good.

(9) RED PLANET CRITIQUE. Mars chronicler Kim Stanley Robinson declines to take Musk’s plan at face value in “Why Elon Musk’s Mars Vision Needs ‘Some Real Imagination’” on Bloomberg.

It’s 2024. Musk figures everything out and gets funding. He builds his rocket, and 100 people take off. Several months later, they land (somehow) and have to get to work remaking a planet.

I have to note, first, that this scenario is not believable, which makes it a hard exercise to think about further. Mars will never be a single-person or single-company effort. It will be multi-national and take lots of money and lots of years.

Musk’s plan is sort of the 1920s science-fiction cliché of the boy who builds a rocket to the moon in his backyard, combined with the Wernher von Braun plan, as described in the Disney TV programs of the 1950s. A fun, new story.

(10) BEHIND BARS. In the latest installment of “The Barrett Brown Review of Arts and Letters in Prison”, Barrett Brown, jailed for decades because of his hacking, answers questions Filers will hopefully never need to ask:  if you’re in prison, how do you teach other prisoners how to play role-playing games?  And how do you make the dice?

We began the campaign with our party having just entered a mysterious cavern that appeared to be inhabited. The gamemaster drew out a map for us as our crude little character tokens advanced down the dark, cliché-ridden passages. Coming upon a fountain in which jewels could be seen lying under the surface of the water, our Hispanic gangster/minotaur barbarian proposed to grab some. The team veteran and meth dealer/elven ranger stopped him, dipped in his flask, and, as our gamemaster informed us, watched as it sizzled and melted, the “water” having been acid.

“Whoa,” said the gangster/minotaur, awed at how close he’d just come to losing his forearm. He was beginning to understand that this wasn’t the relatively straightforward world of street-level dope dealing anymore; this was Dungeons and Dragons. Presumably the feds had never attempted to trick him into incinerating his own arm. But then some of these guys had been targeted by the ATF, so you never know.

(11) MAMATAS. At Locus Online, “Tim Pratt Reviews Nick Mamatas”.

His latest novel, I Am Providence, should be of particular interest to our readers for at least a couple of reasons. For one, it’s a murder mystery set at a genre convention: the Summer Tentacular, devoted to H.P, Lovecraft and his Mythos, held appropriately enough in Lovecraft’s hometown of Providence RI. (The book’s title is taken from Lovecraft’s famous epitaph.) Given how prevalent discussions of Lovecraft’s influence and his problematic qualities have been in our field lately, it’s an astonishingly timely book. If the convention angle doesn’t make it SFnal enough for you, there’s a bona fide speculative element: half the novel is narrated in first person by the murder victim as he lies cooling on a morgue slab.

The murder-mystery-at-a-convention is a venerable subgenre (think Isaac Asimov’s Murder at the ABA or Sharyn McCrumb’s Bimbos of the Death Sun). The best of them combine solid mystery stories anyone can enjoy with a dash of in-jokes, cameos, and thinly veiled versions of figures in the field to amuse those in the know. I Am Providence is among those best.

(12) THE HORSE, OF COURSE. Rosalind Moran reminds SFWAns, “Horses Are Not Machines: On Writing the Steeds of Fantasy Fiction”.

  1. Nobody Learns In A Day

No amount of natural talent can make a horseman in a day. If one’s horse is tolerant, one may be able to hold on over flat terrain after a few hours in the saddle. Nevertheless, there’s a big difference between not sliding off immediately, and being able to ride competently. It can take months – even years – before one is truly balanced enough to cope with a horse moving at various gaits, and occasionally acting up. Yet it’s not uncommon in fantasy novels for characters to pick up the handy skill of horse-riding in one day.

Furthermore, handling horses on the ground is also a skill requiring time. When one first begins working with horses, one can’t read their body language; flicking ears, shifting legs, squeals and snorts. The initial reaction when faced with a horse also tends to be one of intimidation – they’re big animals. So for your protagonist to be confident catching horses, feeding them, tacking them up… that all takes time and experience. You don’t need to devote pages to your character learning relatively mundane skills, but you should acknowledge that these are skills which they are learning, or which they have somehow acquired at another point in time.

Additional note: horses aren’t domesticated in a day either. Worth remembering next time you chance upon a handy herd in the wilderness – sorry.

[Thanks to StephenfromOttawa, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 10/6/16 Have Fun Storming The Pixels!

(1) MCCARTY REMEMBERS HARRISON. Dave McCarty pays tribute to his friend Howard Harrison, who passed away October 5, by retelling the experience of running the 1999 Capricon.

…I asked what if we weren’t actually throwing *Capricon*?  What if instead, we were holding the annual meeting of the International Order of Villains?  We treat the whole convention like it is some *other* event?  Tracy asked me why that would be and then I hit her with the nefarious money plan.  You see, if it’s a conference like that, when folks sign up, they would tell the convention organizers which kind of villain they were…be it henchmen, lackey, minion, mad scientist, Igor, etc.  We could badge each of those groups differently so you’d know who was who.  The kicker was that you could also choose to register as an Evil Overlord, but this would be a premium membership for which you would need to pay more money.  If you wanted to be an Evil Overlord, you had to pay.  We could work out getting them some tokens and souvenirs for it, but as long as we only spent a couple bucks on that, we were still helping the convention.  The idea excited me and it excited Tracy, so we shared it with a few other folks and it universally got folks excited and worked up….

From that point on we were in a world we’d never anticipated.  We got no small number of people to pay us extra money to be an Evil Overlord and boy howdy did that help us, but holy hell did it make for a convention that’s hard to forget.  See, quite a number of the Evil Overlords were going around the convention recruiting minions, henchmen, and lackeys to their cause.  Even more brilliantly, Howard Harrison was spending almost all of the time he wasn’t in the filk room going around and organizing the Union of Minions, Henchmen, and Lackeys Local 302.  When I asked him why, he told me (in his best Chicago Superfan imitation) “You see, I know that I am going to die in a fiery explosion, or be thrown into a volcano, or just act as fodder for my bosses escape.  I need to know what’s going to happen for my family!“.  These conversations and all the recruiting brought me to freaking tears.  Our whole convention was a LARP and almost everyone was playing and nobody was having a bad time or feeling pressured to participate.  Howard even invented the UMHL salute.  Take your right hand and make a tight thumbs-up, then flip it upside down (thumbs down).  Now, place  your knuckles against your temple in salute fashion.  There you go, union salute!  Howard then took his unionized brothers and sisters and started approaching the Evil Overlords to inquire about benefits and insurance and post-death family care to get his folks the best deal he could….

…At the time, I told him how brilliant he was…but over the years, his playfulness that weekend grew to mean a lot more to me and I don’t think I ever really got to tell him what that grew into for me.  I’m sad that I can’t do that with him now, but I *can* share this story with all of you so that you know what a special guy he was.

(2) MAGIC IN SNORE-TH AMERICA. If you bet against J.K. Rowling writing magical history that’s as dusty and dull as regular history is reputed to be – you lost. New at Pottermore, “The Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA)”.

The Magical Congress of the United States of America, known to American witches and wizards by the abbreviation MACUSA (commonly pronounced as: Mah – cooz – ah) was created in 1693, following the introduction of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy. Wizards worldwide had reached a tipping point, suspecting that they could lead freer and happier lives if they built an underground community that offered its own support and had its own structures. This feeling was particularly strong in America, due to the recent Salem Witch Trials.

MACUSA was modeled on the Wizards’ Council of Great Britain, which predated the Ministry of Magic. Representatives from magical communities all over North America were elected to MACUSA to create laws that both policed and protected American wizardkind…

 

(3) SURVIVING HOSTILITY. Angelica Jade Bastién, in an article for New Republic, says “For Women of Color, the Price of Fandom Can Be Too High”.

I’m open to criticism and discussing my writing with those who respectfully don’t agree with my opinion, but in covering comic properties, I’ve dealt with everything from people accusing me of not reading comics as if I had no idea what I was talking about to being told I was race baiting by acknowledging certain issues in the film. The worst were the very pointed attacks calling me an “idiot” or a “bitch” and far worse epithets from people I blocked. I won’t even go into the Reddit threads about my article that I was once tauntingly sent screenshots of. It’s something I’ve grown almost numb to as a critic. But what was more interesting to me was the level of hurt coming from these men and their routine way of doubting my comic knowledge—a dynamic other female journalists get time and time again.

I’ve watched all of the Star Trek series more times than I can count, and I often whip out Klingon when I’m nervous.

I have been reading comics obsessively since I was about ten years old. I can probably quote from John Ostrander’s original Suicide Squad run in my sleep, I’ve watched all of the Star Trek series more times than I can count, and I often whip out Klingon when I’m nervous. But I’ve found that the love and knowledge I have on these subjects never seems to be good enough for the people who grow furious at a black woman writing about these properties. White male fans often don’t want to face how their beloved properties often have troubling racial and gender politics.  (Just peruse the comments on my review of X-Men: Apocalypse for RogerEbert.com: “The author feels like the X-Men series in general has failed its female characters—ignoring the fact that Mystique is elevated to a leadership and relevance level well above the source material.” Many didn’t want to face a critique coming from a woman, and a fan, who knows them better than they do.) You can only delete emails and block people on Twitter for so long until you feel burnt out. The reason why we don’t see more black women writing about these subjects with such visibility isn’t because we haven’t been interested in them, it’s that publications rarely give us the opportunity, and when we do write, we often find ourselves facing personal scrutiny that has little to do with the actual writing. At times, I’ve been left to wonder, why do I love these stories so much when they rarely care about people who look like me?

(4) HOLD ON TO THE LIGHT. At Magical Words, “100+ Sci-Fi & Fantasy Authors Blog About Suicide, Depression, PTSD—a #HoldOnToTheLight Update by Gail Z. Martin” includes links to the first 40 posts authors have written around the theme.

More than 100 authors are now part of the #HoldOnToTheLight conversation! Our authors span the globe, from the US to the UK to Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Even more exciting is that as the campaign picks up traction and visibility, more authors want to join, meaning a growing, vibrant dialog about mental wellness and coping with mental illness.

#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

(5) MUSEUM OF SF KICKSTARTER FOR A WOMEN IN SF ANTHOLOGY. The Museum of Science Fiction has opened a Kickstarter appeal to fund Catalysts, Explorers & Secret Keepers, a “take-home exhibit” featuring short science fiction works by and about the women of the genre.

This anthology will showcase how they—as readers, as writers, and as characters—have engaged with and influenced science fiction for more than a century….

The cover of Catalysts, Explorers, & Secret Keepers will feature original artwork by the Hugo winning artist Julie Dillon. Award-winning authors Eleanor Arnason, Catherine Asaro, N.K. Jemisin, Nancy Kress, Naomi Kritzer, Karen Lord, Seanan McGuire, Sarah Pinsker, Kiini IburaSalaam, Carrie Vaughn, Jane Yolen, and Sarah Zettel have already agreed to contribute work to the exhibit.

Upon reaching the minimum funding target, the Museum will open submissions until December 1, 2016. The public will be able to submit original work that fits the take-home exhibit’s theme. Authors of original fiction published in Catalysts, Explorers, & Secret Keepers will receive the SFWA-standard pro-rate ofUS $0.06 per word, while authors of solicited reprints will receive US $0.03 per word. All authors featured in this exhibit will be invited to discuss their work as presenters and panelists in 2017 at Escape Velocity, the Museum of Science Fiction’s annual celebration of all things science fiction.

The appeal has raised $6,068 of its $8,500 goal with 26 days to go.

(6) TOR.COM REOPENING FOR NOVELLAS. Tor.com publishing will take unsolicited novella submissions for three months beginning October 12.

Lee Harris and Carl Engle-Laird will be reading and evaluating original novellas submitted by hopeful authors to http://submissions.tor.com/tornovellas/. You can find full guidelines here, and we highly recommend you read the guidelines before submitting. We will be open for three months, beginning on October 12th around 9:00 AM EDT (UTC-4:00) and ending on January 12th around 9:00 AM EST (UTC-5:00). We may extend this period depending on how many submissions we receive over the course of the open period.

(7) TAKE US TO YOUR CHIEF. From CBC Radio, “Drew Hayden Taylor on why we need Indigenous science fiction”.

Science fiction is meant to take us to places we’ve never been — this is what writer Drew Hayden Taylor is aiming to do with his new collection of short stories, Take Us to Your Chief.

Taylor’s new book filters famous sci-fi tropes such as aliens, time travel and government spying through the lens and perspective of Indigenous people. For him, he is simply taking these familiar stories and putting “some hot sauce on them.”   …

“I pictured myself as a 12-year-old kid back on the reserve, reading science fiction or reading books and not seeing our experiences in this book,” he explains. “I was just taking certain touchstones that we were all familiar with and then using them to take them out of the reserve environment into the larger sci-fi environment, and giving it that sort of resonance.”

(8) POSTSCRIPT TO NATIONAL FINISH-YOUR-BOOK DAY. Camestros Felapton reports there was  third sf novel finished yesterday – Timothy the Talking Cat’s The Confusing Walrus. According to Camestros,

I’ve read his ‘manuscript’ and it says “Copy whatever John Scalzi has written but use find/replace on the words ‘space’, ‘galaxy’, ‘star’ and ‘planet’ with the word ‘walrus’”

confusingwalrus-min

(9) INTERVIEW WITHOUT A VAMPIRE. Masters of Horror held a get-acquainted session with Horror Writers of America President Lisa Morton.

Interview With Lisa Morton By David Kempf

When did you first become interested in writing?

I’ve been writing almost as long as I’ve been reading – my first poem was published when I was 5! – but I didn’t seriously consider making a living out of it until I saw The Exorcist at the age of 15. Seeing the astonishing impact that film had on audiences during its initial release made me realize I wanted to do that, too.

How did you make this a full time job?

Well, it’s not my full time job now. I tried that for a while, back when I was making a fair amount of money as a screenwriter, and it didn’t work for me at all. I know most writers dream of being able to leave their day job and pursue writing all the time, but for me it was too isolating. Plus, I really love being a bookseller.

How did you become President of the Horror Writers Association?

By attrition, sadly. I was serving as Vice President when the President, Rocky Wood, passed away. Before that I’d held a variety of positions within the organization. I do find it satisfying to work with other writers and promote a genre that I love….

(10) NEXT BLADE RUNNER. The Verge reports “The Blade Runner sequel is officially titled Blade Runner 2049”.

(11) BROOKS ON WILDER AND FRANKENSTEIN. Mel Brooks got emotional before a screening last night.

Mel Brooks introduced one of the funniest movies ever made, Young Frankenstein, on Wednesday night. But the director couldn’t hold back tears.

Brooks paid homage to Gene Wilder, the star and co-writer of his 1974 classic comedy, before showing Young Frankenstein on the 20th Century Fox lot.

The live event was beamed to theaters around the country and turned into a tribute to Wilder, who died Aug. 29 at age 83. An encore presentation with Brooks’ introduction will screen in theaters Oct. 18.

“I get just a little overcome,” said Brooks, 90, from the stage, dabbing his eyes as he discussed Wilder. “I’ve had a few great memories in my life. But, honestly, I think making Young Frankenstein is my best year.”

(12) SWEET SWILL. ‘Tis the season for Deadworld Zombie Soda! (Turn the sound down when you click on this site.) The sodas come in 12 flavors, with label art created by comic book artists based on the characters and events that take place in Deadworld comic book universe.

  • ORANGE  – Orange Roamer
  • CHERRY COLA – Goon Biters
  • BLACK CHERRY – Royal Rotter
  • CREAM SODA – Brain Sap
  • COTTON CANDY – Zeek Cocktail
  • VANILLA CREAM SODA – Geek Juice
  • GRAPE – Grisly Swill
  • VANILLA ROOT BEER – Slow Decay
  • STRAWBERRY – Rot Berry
  • ROOT BEER – Twilight Shuffler
  • GREEN APPLE – Morbid Mix
  • GINGER ALE – Graveyard Delight

Untitled

Deadworld is the award winning, long running cult hit comic book series published by Caliber Comics that first exploded on the comic scene in 1986. With over 1 million copies in print and over 100 comics & graphic novels released to date, Deadworld is not your typical “zombie comic book or story”.

A supernatural plague has been unleashed on the world. The dead return to walk the earth…but this is no standard zombie story.  The dead are just foot soldiers for those who have crossed the ‘Gateway’ from another dimension. There are leader zombies who are intelligent, sadistic, and in addition to having a hankering for flesh, enjoy the tortuous ordeals they put the surviving humans through.

(13) EERIE OUTFITTER. Tim Burton’s costume designer Colleen Atwood interviewed by NPR (with comments on Miss Peregrine’s…):

From Hannibal Lecter’s mask to Edward Scissorhands’, well, scissor hands, Oscar-winning costumer Colleen Atwood has pretty much designed it all.

Working steadily since the 1980s, she’s dressed characters from the past and the future — the Middle Ages for Into the Woods, the Civil War for Little Women all the way to Gattaca and the 2001 Planet of the Apes. Her latest movie, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, is her eleventh with Tim Burton. It travels back in time to Wales during World War II….

(14) SLOW DOWN, YOU MOVE TOO FAST. The BBC sums up interstellar travel:

Science fiction writers and moviemakers have shown us countless visions of humanity spread out across the Universe, so you might be forgiven for thinking that we’ve already got this in the bag. Unfortunately, we still have more than a few technical limitations to overcome – like the laws of physics as we understand them – before we can start colonising new worlds beyond our Solar System and galaxy.

That said, several privately funded or volunteer initiatives such as the Tau Zero Foundation, Project Icarus and Breakthrough Starshot have emerged in recent years, each hoping to bring us a little bit closer to reaching across the cosmos. The discovery in August of an Earth-sized planet orbiting our nearest star has also raised fresh hopes about visiting an alien world.

Interstellar spacecraft will be one of the topics discussed at BBC Future’s World-Changing Ideas Summit in Sydney in November. Is travelling to other galaxies possible? And if so, what kinds of spacecraft might we need to achieve it? Read on to get up to (warp) speed: …

(15) TREK BEYOND BLOOPERS. CinemaBlend has the story and the video — “Chris Pine Does His Best Shatner Impression In Hysterical Star Trek Beyond Gag Reel”.

As professional as the actors all are on the set of a Star Trek movie, the final cut of the film adds effects and music to the experience which help transport you to the fictional world. Without that, you’re just a guy standing on a set spouting Star Trek gibberish. This becomes all the more clear when an actor trips over their lines, and suddenly everybody remembers that they’re acting again. The best part, though, is when Chris Pine calls for “Full impulse, Mr. Suliu” and John Cho stops to say that he sounds like he’s doing a William Shatner impression. Pine does add a bit of a classic Shatner pause to the line, so it does sound a bit like him to us. As much as we love William Shatner, we hope this doesn’t become a habit.

(16) THAT’S APPERTAINMENT. IanP unleashed this instant classic in a comment on File 770 today.

With apologies to Paul Weller

A pixeled car and a screaming siren
A shuggoth trail and ripped up books
A walrus wailing and stray pup howling
The place of fifths and tea drinking

That’s appertainment, that’s appertainment

A file of scrolls and a rumble of boots
A wretched hive and a bracket ‘head cloth
Ink splattered walls and the award of a rocket
Time machine appears and spews out pizza

That’s appertainment, that’s appertainment.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Darrah Chavey.]

Pixel Scroll 1/8/16 Live Long and Phosphor

(1) THEATER OF BOOM. Not just the popcorn, but the whole theater — “One Plus Partnership’s cinema interior resembles the aftermath of an explosion”.

One Plus Partnership‘s Exploded cinema in Wuhan, China, won the Civic, Culture and Transport category at Inside Festival 2015.

The Hong Kong-based interior design firm arranged angular blocks in different sizes and materials to create the impression that a huge explosion had taken place in the space.

…Lung says that the idea was to create a space that feels like it could be from a science-fiction film.

 

(2) THE BOMBS OF OTHER DAYS. The “10 Least Successful Science Fiction TV Spinoffs” at ScreenRant. Number 10 is one I’ve never even heard of before –

The sci-fi series Total Recall 2070 was Canadian-German co-production that, in theory, sounded wildly ambitious. It drew inspiration from not just one, but two of the most successful Philip K. Dick movie adaptations. Similar to Paul Verhoeven’s darkly humorous blockbuster Total Recall, the story revolved around modified memories and took place on a futuristic version of Earth as well as the newly-colonized Mars. But Total Recall 2070 also followed policemen hunting renegade androids in a neo-noir megalopolis akin to the one in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. Philip K. Dick wasn’t mentioned in the show’s credits though, as the series barely resembled original stories these movies were based on.

Total Recall 2070 premiered on Canadian TV channel CHCH in January of 1999. It also aired on Showtime, where network executives toned down show’s violence, nudity and strong language considerably for an American audience. Total Recall 2070 aired for one 22-episode season before being canceled.

Unlike most of these other bombs, both characters in the #1 worst show have rebounded from failure and are currently quite popular.

(3) RELEASE THE PRISONER MOVIE! Ridley Scott is in negotiations to direct The Prisoner reports Deadline Hollywood.

I hear that Scott is in early negotiations on a deal to come aboard and direct The Prisoner, the screen version of the 1968 Patrick McGoohan British TV series. This has been a plum project at Universal for some time with numerous A-list scribes including Christopher McQuarrie writing drafts. The most recent version was by The Departed scribe William Monahan. The film is being produced by Bluegrass Films Scott Stuber and Dylan Clark. Scott’s Scott Free team will likely become part of it as they get the script that makes the director happy.

(4) BBC HAS A CLUE. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency has been ordered to series at BBC America. The Hollywood Reporter has the news.

BBC America is getting its graphic novel on.

Drama Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency has been picked up straight to series with an eight-episode order, the cable network announced Friday ahead of its time at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour.

Based on Douglas Adams’ graphic novels first published in 1987, the story centers on the titular holistic detective who investigates cases involving the supernatural. Chronicle‘s Max Landis will pen the series, which is a co-production between AMC Studios, Ideate Media and comics powerhouse IDW Entertainment as well as Circle of Confusion (The Walking Dead).

(5) BRUCE SHIPPED TO MUSEUM. The shark from Jaws has a date with destiny as a museum exhibit.

Bruce the shark, the famous seafaring predator from Jaws, has found a new home at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ museum.

The Academy announced Thursday that a full-scale model of the shark, the last surviving one from the 1975 movie, has been donated to the museum by Nathan Adlen. During filming of Jaws, director Steven Spielberg nicknamed the shark Bruce after his lawyer Bruce Ramer.

The Fiberglas model is the fourth and final version made from the original mold. Created for display at the Universal Studios Hollywood at the time of the film’s release, the prop remained a popular backdrop for photos until 1990, when it was moved to the yard of Aadlen Brothers Auto Wrecking, a firm in Sun Valley, Calif., that regularly bought or hauled used vehicles from Universal Studios. With the business slated to close this month, owner Nathan Adlen is giving the historic prop to the Academy Museum, which is set to open in 2018.

(6) IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR. Jo Lindsay Walton’s “My favorite looks back at 2015 of 2015” is a compilation of links to around 30 different writers’ year-end posts.

Come home 2015, you’re drunk. Please come home. We need you. We need you.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

Mathews, of course, was the star of two Ray Harryhausen fantasy movies,The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad and Gulliver’s Travels, as well as the similarly-themed Jack the Giant Killer (the latter, one of my all-time favorite fantasy films, in fact!).

Mathews was a classic leading man, who had the unusual ability — still too easily overlooked when contemplating actors — to be believable in the wildest of celluloid special effects situations.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY REPLICANT

It’s a boy! It’s a Roy! For Blade Runner fans, 8 January 2016 is a date of major significance. It’s the “day of activation” for Roy Batty, one of the most charismatic and significant characters in this landmark movie. He’s a replicant, or android – and, although he might not be flesh and blood, he certainly makes us think about what it is to be human. He’s arguably the heart and soul of the movie, even more than its putative hero, played by Harrison Ford

Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott, is one of the most influential films of the 1980s, a philosophical science fiction-action work set in the near future that’s steeped in a sense of the past, a reflection on memory, identity, emotion, creation and invention that takes place in a dazzling yet downbeat neo-noir urban landscape. Loosely based on Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, its events begin to unfold in November 2019, in a world in which highly realistic androids, known as replicants, have been built by a company called the Tyrell Corporation.

Batty (brilliantly played by Rutger Hauer) is a replicant from the Nexus-6 class, and he’s looking for answers to questions about his own past and future: how he was made, and how he can prolong his life and that of his  Nexus-6 comrades. Ford plays a character called Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter. His job is to hunt down and kill replicants, who are illegal on Earth.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BLOGS

  • Born January 8, 2007 The Book Smugglers. And they know how to celebrate – by publishing a book!

…And a brand new anthology: Tales of First Contact collects the five short stories from our First Contact series and is available now from your retailer of choice. Or you know, via a review copy – all you have to do is ask. We are also happy to offer giveaway copies – just let us know.

 

anthology

(10) A REVIEW FOR MILLENNIALS. Austin Walker at Giant Bomb interprets The Force Awakens for his particular generation — “Off the Clock: Space Opera Millennials and Their Grand Narratives”. BEWARE SPOILERS.

Like most of us in our own lives, each of these characters has a limited understanding of the universe, and especially of the past. What do other worlds look like? What was “the Galactic Empire” really? Is the Force real, and if so how does it work? Nowhere is this difference in understanding illustrated better than in how these characters view Han Solo: For Ren, he’s an uncaring father, for Finn, he’s a brilliant war hero, and for Rey he’s a legendary smuggler. Each finds their understanding challenged by a more complicated truth: Han was an absent dad because he cared so much; the great Rebellion war hero is a scoundrel without a plan…

(11) DS9 +1. Maxistentialism makes the argument in “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine In 82.5 Hours” that it is the best series in the franchise.

But some time between fifth grade and now, I’ve come to recognize that while Star Trek: The Next Generation holds a special place in my heart, it is not the best incarnation of Star Trek. That title belongs to what writer Ronald D. Moore called Next Generation’s “bastard stepchild,” Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Deep Space Nine is a remarkable show. It is unfairly overlooked as one of the foundational programs (like Buffy, The Sopranos, and Hill Street Blues) of our current golden age of television. DS9 introduced long, serialized stories about morally ambiguous characters to network television ten years before Battlestar Galactica, Breaking Bad, and Game of Thrones.

(12) DEL TORO. Guillermo del Toro is in talks to take over the Fantastic Voyage remake.

John King Tarpinian has little to say about the remake, but he remembers the year the original version came out:

When the original movie was in theaters my parents decided that summer vacation would be on Catalina Island.  Being parents they decided the best place for a kid to be on the island was inland at a resort with a pool so he could go swimming…but I digress.  One of the guests at the hotel was a Mr. Goff, who was some sort of designer of the sets.  The thing I remember that impressed my parent was he also worked on an old black and white movie, Casablanca.

(13) LEVERAGING YOUR WORK. Luna Lindsey at the SFWA Blog has an impressive, multilayered strategy for “Tackling the Dreaded Bio” – a writing chore that’s not as simple as it looks.

 What a Bio Accomplishes

Bios seem like such a chore, perhaps because we think of them as an obnoxious necessity rather than an opportunity. As writers, we also tend to dislike telling our own stories. And that’s exactly what a bio does.

When a reader bothers to check the bio, it’s because your story (or blog post, or appearance on a panel) has captured their interest. They want to know more and that’s awesome! A catchy bio will help them remember you, and they may even be inspired to seek out your other creations. That’s exactly what you want. Your bio will propel them into your other worlds. So make it good!

(14) AGAIN AND AGAIN. A Radio Times video identifies “18 actors who have travelled between the universes of Harry Potter and Doctor Who.”(This was posted a year ago. Have there been any more crossovers since then?)

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Alan Baumler, James H. Burns, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Snapshots 151 Bacardi

Here are 26 developments of interest to fans.

(1) There’s been a lot of reaction to File 770’s latest motto, including a suggestion that I put it on a badge ribbon for distribution at the Worldcon.

But it’s too long to fit on one ribbon, and it might be a little presumptuous to ask people wear a set — “The 770 Blog, that Wretched Hive” “continued next ribbon” “of Scum and Villainy.” “continued next ribbon” “John C. Wright”…

(2) Meanwhile, Bronycon is pushing the envelope of convention socializing with a set of color-coded bages:

We’ve adapted the color-coded badges popularized by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) and made them available for people who want to express their communication preferences quickly and non-verbally. By doing this, you can notify everyone whether you want to be approached for interactions or not.

Here’s what the badges look like and what they mean:

  • “Come Talk To Me!” A person wearing a green badge is actively seeking interaction. They may have trouble initating conversations, but it’s okay to come up and start a conversation with them.
  • “Do I Know You?” A yellow badge means its wearer only wants to talk to people they recognize. Unless you’ve met this person face-to-face before, don’t start a conversation with them. If they start talking to you, you’re welcome to talk back.
  • “Not Right Now.” If a person has a red badge showing, they do not want anyone to talk to them. They may approach others to talk, in which case it’s okay to respond. But unless you’ve been told you’re on someone’s “red list”, don’t start interacting with them.

(3) Lou Antonelli visited Heinlein’s birthplace and blogged about it in a post titled “Pilgrimage to Butler (or how Robert Heinlein’s ghost pranked me)”:

When I drove on Friday Kansas City to attend ConQuest, I noticed that Butler, Missouri – the birthplace of Robert Heinlein – was on the way. I decided that on the way back I would stop and visit the house where he was born in 1907. Monday morning I pulled off southbound Hwy. 71 and drove into Butler. The city has a few small signs noting the direction to the house, and I found it fairly easily. It is located at 805 North Fulton Street; a sign – which apparently once hung from a post – marking the spot (“Birthplace of Robert Heinlein, Dean of Science Fiction writers”) was propped up against the bottom of the porch. I took the obligatory selfie – which was hard to do because the sign was so low to the ground – and then hopped back into my car to continue the journey home. Crank. Grind. It wouldn’t turn over! I was completely shocked, because the car hadn’t given me a lick of trouble all weekend. It sounded fine, but wouldn’t kick in. I said, “Bob, if this is a prank, it’s not funny!”

(4) Adam Nimoy had planned to make a documentary called For The Love of Spock even before his dad, Leonard Nimoy, passed away. He has launched a Kickstarter appeal to help pay for it.

The funding of this film through Kickstarter will enable us to continue with production — which will mostly take the form of filming interviews of Dad’s friends, colleagues and family members. It will also enable us to license the hundreds of film clips and still photographs of Mr. Spock as he has appeared on television and in feature films over the last fifty years. Funding will then buy us time in the editing room, where I will be poring over the film clips and photographs and never-before-seen home movies as well as Star Trek artifacts — some of which have not seen the light of day for nearly fifty years!

As of this writing there has been $400,448 pledged of the $600,000 goal.

(5) Actor Lon Chaney Jr. is the only person to play all of the classic Hollywood movie monsters — the Wolf Man (“The Wolf Man”), Frankenstein’s monster (“The Ghost of Frankenstein”), Kharis, The Mummy (“The Mummy’s Tomb”) and Count Anthony Alucard, Dracula’s son (“Son of Dracula”).

(6) Alex Pappademas on Grantland makes some novel comparisons between pop and high culture in his review “’Mad Max’ As Hell: The Masterful, Maniacal, Surprisingly Feminist ‘Fury Road’”

J.G. Ballard — who knew a thing or two about speed, wastelands, the human death drive, and the mortification of flesh by flying auto parts — once described 1981’s The Road Warrior, the second of George Miller’s Mad Max movies, as “punk’s Sistine Chapel.” Ballard was not as big a fan of 1985’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. But even Michelangelo wasn’t immune to the impulse to sequelize, returning to the Apostolic Palace after nearly 25 years (and the Sack of Rome) to paint The Last Judgment above the chapel’s altar. It features a buff, wrathful Jesus, tons of un-fig-leafed full-frontal nudity, chaotic composition that rejected all notions of universal hierarchy, two-fisted angels clobbering wretched sinners, demons dragging the condemned down into hellfire, a likeness of one of Michelangelo’s critics with a snake’s jaws clamped on his nuts, and a cameo by the artist himself as a face on some flayed skin. The lesson here: If you have to come back, it’s best to come back hard-core.

(7) Trek-themed garden gnomes from ThinkGeek will give the Little People a laugh

Did you realize there’s a whole subculture of Star Trek horticulturists? There are daylilies named after Trek, a handful of hostas, and even a Star Trek begonia.

The perfect statuary to go with your newly-acquired Star Trek plants? Why, that would be the Star Trek Garden Gnomes, of course! They come in four flavors. Here’s how the base reads on each:

  • Kirk – To boldly go where no man has gone before
  • Kirk & Gorn – I shall be merciful and quick – Gorn
  • Redshirt – Join Starfleet they said. It’d be fun they said
  • Spock – Live long and prosper

hujt_trek_garden_gnomes(8) The star of Hannibal is a huge draw at the Shanghai Comic Convention?

Unlike many of her counterparts at the first Shanghai Comic Convention, she had decided to forgo a costume. But the 23-year-old automotive quality-control clerk nevertheless was living out her personal fantasy, plunking down $115 — 20% of her monthly salary — for a fleeting meeting with her idol, Mads Mikkelsen of the NBC show “Hannibal.”

Bashfully clutching photographic proof of her star encounter (“I look terrible next to him,” she lamented), Yang struggled to compose herself. She seemed unsure of whether she had just made the best decision of her life — or the worst.

“All fans are idiots, in a way,” she said, laughing at her profligate ways. “We will do anything to meet him, to talk to him, even for a few seconds.”

(9) Very amusing artwork by Murray Groat showing what it would be like if the adventures of Hergé’s classic comic character Tintin took place in a universe created by H.P. Lovecraft.

(10) Who ya gonna call? The firehouse from Ghostbusters will close for renovation,

The  Ladder 8  company firehouse at  14 North Moore Street  in Tribeca is about to be closed for a three-year gut renovation, despite having a received a perfectly good renovation circa 1984 from Drs. Venkman, Stanz, and Spengler,  in the movie Ghostbusters . A  Fire Department spokesperson claims  that the renovation is being done so that the house will be better able to accommodate modern firetrucks, which are larger and heavier than they used to be.

But we know the real reason:  Walter Peck from the Environmental Protection Agency  tipped somebody off to the fact that there are dangerous and possibly hazardous waste chemicals, in the form of liquified ghosts, being stored in the basement.

(11) Anne Lamott, the writer’s writer, turned 61 and decided to share everything she’s learned with her Facebook followers:

  1. Chocolate with 70% cacao is not actually a food. It’s best use is as bait in snake traps.
  2. Writing: shitty first drafts. Butt in chair. Just do it. You own everything that happened to you. You are going to feel like hell if you never write the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves in your heart–your stories, visions, memories, songs: your truth, your version of things, in your voice. That is really all you have to offer us, and it’s why you were born

(12) Amy Sterling Casil’s business is perfecting a system for producing fixed format and flowable ePubs and perfect print books. Here’s her argument why it matters:

I just happened to buy the Stephen Jay Gould book not long after finishing the Bone Music ePub, and we spent plenty of time on that. I knew exactly what was wrong with the Gould book (W.W. Norton) and could tell the exact errors they made in producing it. Errors they would have seen immediately if they’d spent 1 second testing it on an actual device! And there are editing errors like typos etc. For $9.99. A disgrace.

(13) Doug Faunt, who was among those rescued when the HMS Bounty went down in a storm in 2012, is back at sea aboard a new tall ship.

(14) Larry Correia has a good cover story:

People ask me how much say an author has over their cover. At first? Zip. And by the time you are successful enough that your opinion actually does count, that means you’ve sold enough books that you trust the people who sell them for you.

(15) In Kenneth Turan’s coverage of the Cannes Film Festival includes interesting observations about the host city.

It’s not just the films that change here from year to year here, it’s the city as well.

The oldest gay bar in the south of France is now a gelato emporium. The once-spacious post office is now a luxury hotel. And the Cannes English Bookshop, a landmark for three decades, is going to be sold and possibly go out of business.

(16) Nick Mamatas on Storify shares some wisdom about short stories:

I’ve been reading a few short stories from students lately, and this is what I have noticed about them.

(17) Murray Leinster’s “Runaway Skyscraper” is coming back as a fancy hotel. Andrew Porter observes, “Rooms starting at $500 a night, so maybe not a good venue for an SF convention.”

(The Wikipedia can fill you in about the original 1919 Murray Leinster story.)

(18) Daniel Dern sends along a brief rumination on Neal Stephenson’s new book Seveneves. (The title of which, a friend pointed out, is a palindrome.)

I
have been reading Seveneves,
The new big book from Neal Stephes[1]:
The moon
breaks in seven peaze,
Each piece has seven paths,
Each path has seven maths.
Some maths are delta-Vs, and
The plot has many keys[2].
Characters,
sub-plots and lots of peaze,
Many pages is Seveneves.
[1] Stephenson, that is, of course
[2] Including hams doing Morse code, and some, cough, paper pads

(19) John J. Miller would like to tag some newly discovered planetoids with Lovecraftian names:

I’m starting to think of the places we haven’t reconnoitered. Last year, when astronomers announced the existence of 2012 VP113 — a tiny planetoid well beyond the orbit of Pluto — I took to the website of National Review and made a suggestion: “Its name should be Yuggoth, in tribute to the writer H. P. Lovecraft.” I e-mailed the idea to Leslie S. Klinger, editor of The New Annotated Lovecraft. He replied that this wasn’t quite right, because Lovecraft clearly defined Yuggoth as Pluto, rather than as another thing. Then he mentioned an overlooked line from a fevered passage in “The Haunter of the Dark,” the last story Lovecraft ever wrote: “I remember Yuggoth, and more distant Shaggai, and the ultimate void of the black planets.” It recalled something that the astronomer Gerard P. Kuiper (of Kuiper-belt fame) once said to Clyde Tombaugh: “The finding of Pluto was an important discovery, but what you did not find out there is even more important.” Pluto may come into the clutches of our scientists and engineers, but the rest of us can always dream of Shaggai — a permanently undiscovered country.

(20) Alastair Reynolds may yet get the hang of writing filksongs.

(21) A Canadian library has documentary evidence that Han Solo shot first.

According to CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), while trying to digitize the University of New Brunswick Library’s science fiction collection, librarian Kristian Brown stumbled upon an early draft of the “Star Wars” script.

The script, which is marked as a “fourth draft,” is dated March 15, 1976, well ahead of the film’s eventual 1977 release.

The most striking revelation centers around one of the most famous scenes in the film.

While at the Cantina Bar, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is confronted by Jabba the Hutt’s henchman Greedo, who demands Han finally pay Jabba the money he owes him. The two of them come to blows, and Han Solo emerges as victorious. While that isn’t disputed, the real debate lies in whether Han or Gredo shot first.

 

(22) CBS Sunday Morning did a nice profile of the person who sat-in for Ray at the last Ray Bradbury Creativity Award — Bo Derek.  Bo gave the award to Kirk Douglas.  Bo and Ray were lifelong friends, who met in France.

By the way, Bo Derek will be in Sharknado 3. (So added to the Ray Bradbury reference this paragraph counts as a score for two File 770 narratives… )

(23) The LA Weekly enthusiastically reviewed Universal Studios’ new Simpsons-themed Springfield Area

Built to surround and enhance the Simpsons Ride, which opened in 2008, the fully-immersive environment includes over a hogshead’s worth of living references. Some of them as huge and obvious as the Duff Brewery, Moe’s Tavern and Krusty Burger. Others are smaller and subtler, the kind of nerdy nuggets that give us geeks an extra special spring in our steps (Smilin’ Joe Fission!? Stools around Moe’s pool table in a nod to Uncle Moe’s Family Feedbag!? Yes.)

….Things just went full bizarro from there. We walked into a perfectly recreated Moe’s Tavern behind producer/animator/director David Silverman and the theme-park bartender asked him if he wanted a Duff…and he had one.  All we could think was, “It’s the local lug who fills your mug with the drug you chug! And the guy who conceived it….drinking it….in it…b-b-but what about the dank? If Uncle Moe threatens ya, do you get a free steak?” Words can’t describe the feeling of self-referential meltdown that happened in that moment — so we won’t even try.

Universal’s food folks took their best shot at the artery-clogging victuals of Springfield (“The World’s Fattest Town”) with Krusty Burgers, Ribwiches, donuts and even Cletus’ Chicken Shack. Cletus’ employees didn’t know if they had anything that could flash-fry a buffalo in forty seconds, and that’s ok. All the food was awesomely outrageous (and full of secret hobo spices). Just don’t get on that gut-buggering jumble of a ride right afterward, you’ll probably regret it.

Besides the food, the gallons of Duff and the non-alcoholic (and presumably cough syrup-free) Flaming Moe’s, they packed the place with all sorts of crazy crap, a further immersive Krustyland, a Kwik-e-Mart and, yes, even a Disco Stu’s Disco (facade only, sadly). For the folks who might not get everything, or for those folks who need the reassurance, screens throughout the are played carefully curated snippets of Simpsons episodes. Satire piled upon satire, surrounded by hints and attribution…wrapped in riddles…wrapped in unexplained bacon.

On our way out, we were invited to take one of the larger-than-life-but-actually-real giant iconic pink donuts. To keep us in the spirit, and as if on cue, some slack-jawed yokel asked if these donuts, branded as Lard Lad, came in a “gluten free form.” No. No they do not. Where’s a good satirist when you need one?

(24) On the opposite coast, Anthony Bourdain plans to open a giant Blade Runner-themed food market in NYC.

Hidden throughout New York City are bustling food halls like Gansevoort Market or Smorgasburg. But for those who ever said, “I had in mind something a little more radical,” Anthony Bourdain has the solution. The celebrity chef will soon open a 100,000-square-foot International Food Market at the newly renovated SuperPier on Pier 57. Oh, and did I mention it’s inspired by Blade Runner?

Yes, the chaos and clamor of the market place from Ridley Scott’s dystopian masterpiece will be coming to Manhattan’s West Side. “It is meant to be crowded and chaotic because that’s what hawker centres should be,” said Bourdain’s partner Stephen Wether at the 2015 World Street Food Congress in Singapore. “It should activate all of your senses.”

Plans for the space, which eats up pretty much all of the SuperPier’s retail allotment, include a farmers market, hawker-style street food stalls, a 1,500-square-foot oyster bar, a bakery, butchers, a tapas bar, a tea shop, a pastry shop, and potentially even an outdoor Asian-themed beer garden. As Bourdain put it, foodies will be able to enjoy “expertly sliced Iberico ham and some Cava or Kuching-style laksa [soup], Chinese lamb noodles, Vietnamese pho or a decent barbecue brisket all in one place.”

(25) Whatever happened to “No shirt, no pants, no service”?

I guess the rules are different for Spartans:

Fortunately, during this unusual detachment no one fought and all survived. In the subway, “Spartans” advertised access to DVD movie “300: Dawn of empire.”

(26) Harlan Ellison was interviewed by The Jewish Advocate on the occasion of his 81st birthday.

Like any good Jewish son, Ellison had a Jewish mother. Serita Ellison survived her husband by 27 years, all of which were spent trying to figure out her increasingly famous author-screenwriterlecturer son.

“If something happened that was adventurous,” he says, “I would tell my mother. My mother would be very pleased, but I’m not quite sure she realized what it meant. She was more concerned with ‘Was I healthy? Was I working? Was I happily married? Was I unhappily married?’ She would come and visit me and tidy up the house. She was a regular Jewish mama.”

An autodidact, Ellison took pleasure in lecturing at hundreds of colleges that he never attended. The only person happier at his countless college appearances was Serita. “The moment I made my mother proud of me was when she came up from Florida in the middle of winter and was sitting in when I spoke at Yale. People would come up and present one of my books to her and would say, ‘Would you sign my book?’ My mother was in heaven. Afterward, we walked in the snow to a luncheon with a group of eminent scientists and she said, ‘I’m very proud of you.’ I swelled twelve times my size. I had made my mother proud.”

[Credit for these links goes out to Andrew Porter, Amy Sterling Casil, David K.M. Klaus,Martin Morse Wooster,  and John King Tarpinian.]