Pixel Scroll 7/20/18 The Pixie With the Moxie Is The Scroll That Is Droll

(1) JAMES GUNN CANNED BY DISNEY. The director’s offensive tweets were unearthed and have led to him being fired by Disney according to Yahoo! Entertainment “Disney Drops James Gunn From ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Franchise After Offensive Tweets”.

Director James Gunn has been dropped from Disney’s Marvel franchise “Guardians of the Galaxy” over old tweets.

“The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him,” said Alan Horn, chairman of  Walt Disney Studios, in a statement.

Gunn, the writer-director of Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise, apologized late Thursday after a series of old (now deleted) tweets resurfaced in which the filmmaker made what he admitted were “offensive” jokes about taboo topics like rape and pedophilia.

Gunn frequently tweets about his opposition to President Donald Trump, and thus drew the ire of fans of the president such as right-wing provocateur Mike Cernovich, who began posting a series of old tweets by Gunn, many of which were subsequently deleted.

Online sleuths then dug up dozens of old tweets of the sort Gunn admitted were “offensive,” many from between 2008 and 2011.

“Expendables is so manly I f–ed the s– out of the p-ssy boy next to me,” he wrote in one.

“The best thing about being raped is when you’re done being raped and it’s like ‘whew this feels great, not being raped!’” read a tweet from February 2009.

Deadline’s coverage adds these details: “James Gunn Fired From ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ Franchise Over Offensive Tweets”.

Disney and Marvel had never announced that Gunn would direct the third installment of Guardians of the Galaxy, but Gunn certainly declared it on social media. And after Guardians of the Galaxy 2 last summer grossed $863 million worldwide, to the original’s $773 million, there was every expectation he would remain at the helm. After all, the sly humor and tone that just crushed his career trajectory helped fuel the irreverently humorous tone of the Guardians franchise.

Unsurprisingly – “James Gunn Won’t Appear At Comic-Con After Being Axed From ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’”. Deadline has the story.

James Gunn, who was fired today from Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy franchise after past offensive tweets surfaced, will not make a planned appearance at Comic-Con in San Diego today where he was set to appear on Sony Pictures’ Hall H session to tout an upcoming horror film he is producing.

Gunn has made the following response:

(2) WORST TOWN ON TV. Reason.com’s Glenn Garvin says don’t even stop there for gas — “Stephen King’s Nightmare Town Castle Rock a Distillery of Horrors”.

…Hulu’s new series Castle Rock is clearly an attempt to answer a question that has occurred to nearly every King reader multiple times over the years: Do the folks in this town ever notice the unholy frequency with which their neighbors fall into quicksand pits, get ravaged by their house pets, or are driven insane by mundane household items purchased at pawn shops?

Oh, yes they do, and you’ll have a creepy good time as Castle Rock follows their efforts to figure out why their town is such a demonic piece of crap. One of the lead investigators is even a Realtor, who I imagine faces some serious professional challenges in a town like this. (“It’s very cute little Cape Cod at an owner-was-murdered-by-a-jealous-neighbor-for-having-sex-with-the-ghost-of-Elvis price!”)

(3) CATCHING UP WITH THE PRISONER. It’s news to me! Apparently this sequel came out 20 years ago. Titan Comics is bringing it back.

Cult classic The Prisoner has been captivating audiences and firing imaginations since it first aired in the UK in 1967 and in the US the following year. Now fans can go even deeper into The Village with this official graphic novel sequel set twenty years after the events of the iconic TV series.

Originally published in 1988, Shattered Visage tells the story of former secret agent Alice Drake, whose round-the-world solo voyage is interrupted when she is accidentally shipwrecked and washes up on the shores of The Village. There she encounters Number Six, finds out what has become of Number Two, and discovers the true purpose of The Village.

Titan Comics, a licensee of ITV Studios Global Entertainment, are delighted to release this long out-of-print classic with new material, including character sketches and notes from writer/artist Dean Motter . Fans can finally get their hands on the unmissable next chapter in THE PRISONER saga for the first time in years.

(4) HAPPY BIRTHDAY TOR.COM. As part of Tor.com’s tenth anniversary celebration, Stubby the Rocket chronicles “15 Rituals The Tor.com Office Has Developed”.

Tor.com has existed on the internet for 10 years. And when you work in an office and you also work on the internet, where one day gives you a week’s worth of events to react to, you develop a lot of shorthands and rituals to get through the day….

6.) Dressing Up The Office, Part 1: Unicorn Lamp/Rocket Lamp

We had an in-office fundraiser for our unicorn lamp, and we adore it. (We also gave each color of the unicorn a different name after trying and failing to apply a single name.) Then we had an in-office fundraiser for a rocket lamp as well. It makes the place more homey, particularly during the darker parts of the year, and reminds us that we are all unicorns on the inside and rockets on the outside.

(5) RAMBO ACADEMY. The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers has posted a new list of classes. Notably, Seanan McGuire will be teaching a new class, an Ann Leckie’s doing her awesome space opera class again. Cat Rambo says if money’s an issue, see the info about scholarships below: “Classes for the Rambo Academy through October”.

Free scholarships: If you cannot afford a class but really want to take one, apply for a Plunkett Scholarship. Each class has a slot reserved for such a student, and the sole criteria is that you can’t afford the class but really think it would be useful for you. To apply, mail me with your name, the class name/date, and a brief statement about why you want to take the class. QUILTBAG and PoC candidates are especially encouraged to apply. The Plunkett Scholarships are named for Edward Plunkett, who wrote as Lord Dunsany. Scholarship recipients will be notified the week before the class.

(6) SCHNEPP OBIT. Jon Schnepp (1967 – 2018): US actor, animator, director; died July 19, aged 51. Animation work includes Aqua Teen Hunger Force (18 episodes, 2000-02), Space Ghost Coast to Coast (eight episodes, 1995-99), Metalocalypse (62 episodes, 2006-12); he has a voice role in The Oracle of Outer Space, due out later this year.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 20, 1969 – How could it be 49 years already?

At 10:56 p.m. EDT, American astronaut Neil Armstrong, 240,000 miles from Earth, speaks these words to more than a billion people listening at home: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Stepping off the lunar landing module Eagle, Armstrong became the first human to walk on the surface of the moon.

  • July 20, 1976 — Viking I landed on Mars to explore the surface of the Red Planet. The first robots on Mars, Viking I and its successor gave scientists their first information about the planet’s surface, including information they hoped would allow people to walk there. Although the Viking probes found no evidence of life on Mars, they returned detailed pictures of the planet and information about the soil’s composition. (John King Tarpinian will eat a Mars bar after he finishes his Moon Pie.)

(8) PROBABLY SOMETHING BUT NOT A TUX. The message Worldcon 76 sent to encourage Hugo nominees to dress up for the ceremony generated a certain amount of resentment, and things were already touchy before Paul Cornell’s tweet threw gasoline on the fire. Cornell soon banished it from Twitter. However, there’s a screencap in Kay Taylor Rea’s response —

Some of these selected tweets were direct comments on Cornell’s, while others addressed the general conversation rippling through the sff community.

Alternatively –

(9) ON THE RUNWAY. Meanwhile, Jodie Whittaker made a fashion statement wearing a hood at “Comic-Con 2018”

In the midst of this year’s Her Universe fashion show, founder Ashley Eckstein stepped forward and apologized for a last-minute addition to the line-up, a model who was late but who really wanted to walk the runway. And since it was the day of Comic-Con in which the new Doctor Who crew had been introduced, it was appropriate that the model would be wearing some new Whovian fashion.

From the moment she stepped on to the runway, though, the model looked familiar. Head down, hair dangling, it was clear she was almost made for the jacket that looked like the 13th Doctor’s. Of course, it’s because she is the 13th Doctor, making a surprise appearance for fans and to talk with an excited Eckstein.

 

(10) TAKEI MEMOIR. A graphic novel about George Takei’s childhood in a California concentration camp in WWII will come out next year: “George Takei Memoir ‘They Called Us Enemy’ Coming in Summer 2019”.

With immigration and the detention of migrant children in the news, IDW Publishing has announced details of They Called Us Enemy, a graphic novel memoir of George Takei’s childhood in American internment camps.

To be released in summer 2019, They Called Us Enemy will be co-written by Takei, Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott, with art from Harmony Becker. Its plot revisits the actor and activist’s childhood as one of 120,000 Japanese Americans held in American concentration camps run by the United States during the Second World War.

According to the publisher’s official description, the book is “Takei’s firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the terrors and small joys of childhood in the shadow of legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s tested faith in democracy and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future. What does it mean to be American? Who gets to decide? When the world is against you, what can one person do?”

“It has always been my mission in life to raise the awareness of the unjust imprisonment of Japanese Americans in barbed-wire prison camps during World War II,” Takei told The Hollywood Reporter. “But I had no idea how chillingly relevant that dark chapter of American history would be to our times today.”

(11) DOOR DRAGONS. Here’s a chance to avoid missing the party:

(12) HE’S GOT THAT COVERED. Let Boing Boing tell you about the latest nuisance filing: “Trademark troll who claims to own “Dragon Slayer” now wants exclusive rights to book covers where someone is holding a weapon”.

Austin’s Michael-Scott Earle, last seen around these parts when he filed a trademark on the phrase “Dragon Slayer” for use in fantasy novel trademarks, has found a new depth to plumb: he’s filed a trademark on book covers “one or more human or partially human figures underneath, at least one of the figures holding a weapon; and an author’s name underneath the figures; wherein the title/series and author’s name are depicted in the same or similar coloring.”

(13) NIGHTMARE. Charles Payseur connects you with short fiction — “Quick Sips – Nightmare #70”.

The pair of stories from Nightmare’s July issue focus on people trapped in situations where they don’t have a lot of power, mostly because of their age. They weigh in on opposite sides of the specrtum, though, one character made vulnerable because of his old age, put in a home where he might be preyed upon at any moment and aware always of his own approaching death. The other piece focuses on a young person in a stifling household, living with rules that aren’t designed to protect him so much as to make his parent’s life easier. In both situations, the toxicity of the environment manifests in ways great and small (and sometimes furred) and forces the characters to choose if they’ll stay and try to face them or try to escape from a power they might not be able to defeat head on. Let’s get to the reviews!

(14) LEST DARKNESS PALL. Nature has a line on “A planet the colour of charcoal”.

A hot and gaseous planet orbiting a distant star is one of the darkest ever found.

Astronomers led by Teo Mo?nik at Keele University, UK, used NASA’s Kepler telescope to study a star called WASP-104, which lies roughly 144 parsecs from Earth in the constellation Leo. Earlier observations had documented a dimming of WASP-104’s light every 1.76 days, indicating that a planet was regularly crossing the star’s face. But Mo?nik’s team could not detect starlight reflecting off the planet, as scientists usually expect after discovering a new world. That led the researchers to conclude that the planet is nearly pure black in colour.

(15) TOAD IN THE HOLE. That’s what Ellen Klages ordered in Episode 72 of Scott Edelman’s Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Ellen Klages

…And then move on to this episode’s guest, Ellen Klages, who won the Nebula Award in 2005 for her novelette, “Basement Magic.” Her novella, “Wakulla Springs” (co-authored with previous guest of the show Andy Duncan), was a finalist for the Hugo and Nebula awards and won the World Fantasy Award in 2014.

She won the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, the Lopez Award for Children’s Literature, and the New Mexico State Book Award for Young Adult Literature for her first novel, The Green Glass Sea. She has served for twenty years on the Motherboard of the James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award. Her novella “Passing Strange” was one of the finalists for this year’s Nebula award.

Our venue for this episode was the relatively new Whitfield at Ace Hotel. This was certainly the most picturesque setting for a meal I experienced in Pittsburgh, because the building which housed both hotel and restaurant was a century-old former YMCA.

We discussed why it took 40 years from the time she wrote the first sentence of her Nebula Award-nominated story “Passing Strange” to finish the tale, what a truck filled with zebras taught her about the difference between storytelling and real life, how cosplaying helped give birth to her characters, what she finds so fascinating about creating historical science fiction, why revising is her favorite part of writing, the reason she’s the best auctioneer I’ve seen in my lifetime of con-going, what she teaches students is the worst mistake a writer can make, how her collaboration with Andy Duncan gave birth to an award-winning novella, whether she still feels like “a round peg in genre’s polyhedral hole” as she wrote in the afterword to her first short story collection, and much more.

(16) ON THEIR WAY. Tor.com’s Lee Harris promised readers A Pair of Solarpunk Novellas from Becky Chambers without giving a definite date when they’ll come out.

Ever since I read The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet I’ve wanted to work with Becky. She has a lightness of touch that makes you want to keep turning the page. So, when I contacted her and she suggested we work together on a couple of solarpunk books I was delighted. There’s a lot of darkness in the world, today, and I can’t wait to bring you Becky‘s trademark adventure style, wrapped up in a bundle of positive SF. It’s what we need, right now.

(17) CAPITAL CATS. In our national’s capital, a credential census is planned: “Washington, D.C., Is Counting All Its Cats. It Will Take 3 Years And $1.5 Million”.

…Various groups are working to spay and neuter stray cats or facilitate cat adoptions. Thousands of cats each year are spayed or adopted.

But groups like the Humane Rescue Alliance “have little sense if their programs are the lion’s share of adoptions in the city, or if their trap-neuter-return program is effective in helping to control the cat population,” Fenston writes.

It’s not easy to gauge a city’s cat population by eye alone.

“Cats are hard to see,” conservation biologist Tyler Flockhart told The New York Times. “You see very few cats when you’re out walking around. And that’s because they’re secretive animals. When you see a cat, there is almost certainly more than one there.”

(18) UNCREDENTIALS AND GAMING. Linda Holmes of NPR made the connection — “Put Your Face In It: How Gaming Helped Me Understand My Dog”

When I am walking my dog around the neighborhood now, I imagine him going boop-boop-boop as he wanders along wondering what he should approach, much as I do when I walk from my Stardew Valley farm to the place where I will once again sell my virtual parsnips. And when he sees an empty Doritos bag lying on its side on the street, I realize that he is having the same experience I did the first time I picked up an imaginary oyster on the imaginary beach. He is saying to himself, “This could be some wonderful and magical key to a benefit yet unrealized! This could be magic! This could taste delicious! This could transport me to another dimension!” Most importantly, he is thinking what I am always thinking any time I fail to investigate anything: “But what if I really neeeeeed it?” And he is pushing the only button he has. His action button.

(19) SUGGEST A NAME. But Spacy McSpaceFace need not apply: “Wanted: Inspiring name for Europe’s 2020 Mars rover”. This time suggestions will go to a panel instead a popular vote.

Here’s your chance to name the European rover that will go to Mars in 2020.

Currently called ExoMars, the six-wheeled robot needs something a bit more engaging and inspiring for when it lands on the Red Planet.

Astronaut Tim Peake is leading the hunt for a great moniker.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steve Green, David Doering, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, DMS, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 7/15/18 Old Filer’s Scroll Of Practical Pixels

(1) AMERICA’S FAVORITE DOCTOR. Welby? Casey? Kildare? Guess Who….? Thursday on BBC America:

Have TARDIS, will time travel: The new special “Doctor Who: The Lost Episode” uses remastered footage and new animation to reconstruct an unfinished 1970s-era tale from the venerable British science fiction drama penned by “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” author Douglas Adams and starring Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor. 8 p.m. BBC America

(2) DEAL ALL THE CARDS. The Doctor figures in “The Pigs in Space” sketch at The Muppets Take the O2 (Arena) show, too.

(3) TASTE TEST. Cat Rambo turns in another sweet critique to The Green Man Review: “The Prettiest Candy: Albanese World’s Best Mini Gummi Butterflies”.

Having recently discovered that my favorite gummi bears were possibly made with child labor, I went looking for a substitute recently and picked up a bag of Albanese Mini Gummi Butterflies.

Candy is often not pretty, particularly when chocolate is involved, but these candies, shaped like butterflies, look like little stained glass jewels. The flavors are blue raspberry, cherry, grape, green apple, orange, and strawberry, with the usual scheme of color vaguely indicating flavor….

(4) SHADOW CLARKE JURY DELIBERATIONS. Fell a little behind linking to these posts…..

…I went a bit overboard (OH GOD HELP I CAN’T STOP) but you get the point. There’s a completely functional and immensely fun version of this story that puts it solidly in the Hunger Games/Limetown bracket of ‘tough heroic female lead discovers something terrible and vows to defeat it.’ I love stories like those, especially when they’re folded into this kind of post-apocalyptic subset of fiction.

But what Curtis does here is untidier, harder to achieve, newer and ultimately more rewarding. Nerissa is living day to day after losing everything, so she isn’t party to what would be the central plot in a more traditional dystopia. The parts she discovers, especially the transhumanism elements of the final act, feel earned and contextualized precisely because she discovers them when she does….

 As I said when making my selection of books to review for the Shadow Clarke, I didn’t expect to see Ian McDonald’s Luna: Wolf Moon on the shortlist. Having read it, I don’t have any direct criticism of the Clarke jury for neglecting it but that is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the novel. In fact, I enjoyed it very much and also its predecessor, Luna: New Moon, which I read immediately beforehand. That, of course, is one of the problems with considering a sequel or volume from a series for an award; it is going to be difficult to judge it without knowledge of the preceding story. Especially, when, as in this case, we are dealing with the middle volume in a trilogy which directly picks up strands from the first volume and also does recognisable work in setting up its successor. Therefore, despite the fact that Luna: Wolf Moon contains a strong narrative arc of its own and leaves the reader feeling as satisfied as if they have read a standalone novel, it is nonetheless not directly comparable because it is not entirely self-contained. Experience suggests that judges are generally inclined to favour the single-volume work (and on a practical level they are probably unwilling to read earlier series volumes on top of lengthy submission lists).

To kick off my Shadow Clarke experience, I’ve started with John Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire, a novel based on a singularly intriguing premise. In a far distant future, humanity exists in an interplanetary empire called the Interdependency, its far-flung outposts connected by the Flow: a series of natural space-time currents that facilitate fast travel between different parts of the universe. As the Flow exists without concern for human planetary preferences – and as the Flow route to Earth was lost centuries ago – the majority of people live underground, in planetary habitats or in space stations along these Flow routes, with trade and travel controlled by aristocratic Guild families. Only one habitable world exists: the planet of End, so-called because it’s the most distant realm in the Interdependency, accessible only by a single pair of Flow streams connecting it to Hub, where the Emperox rules. But the Flow, so long assumed stable, is collapsing, threatening the survival of the entire Interdependency – and, as a consequence, of the human race….

…When I originally added Water & Glass to my short list, I suspected that the plot’s concern with a group of (largely European-coded) survivors onboard a submarine, the Baleen, would herald “an already present anxiety about intimacy, trauma, and reproductive concerns.” Given its thematic concerns from the blurb, I guessed that as a Noah’s Ark tale, the plot would likely revolve around questions of “precariousness and interdependent survival, resettling, and the possibility or repopulation or extinction,” though within the frameworks of the novel itself they were unable to gather more than a few animals, rather than any idea of two of a wide variety. Since reproduction felt central to Water & Glass’ concerns, the blurb itself led me to worry about the likelihood of queerphobia or eugenics in play, and unfortunately this assumption is almost entirely borne out. While queerness is entirely and frustratingly absented from this narrative (its own form of queerphobia), a concern with eugenics and human evolution through human-animal gene splicing is one of the grand revelations of the piece….

Dreams Before the Start of Time is beautifully written. The prose is clear, sometimes sparse, quite subtle in the way it provides a smooth emotional surface whilst signalling a great depth of feeling within the many characters. It is also an excellent science fiction novel-of-ideas, with clear themes and careful working out of the societal implications of new technology. How wonderful! …

American War has been short-listed for the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke award. A selection of our panel of shadow jurors respond to the novel below…

Rich with warmth and suspense and surprise, Spaceman of Bohemia is an exuberant delight from start to finish. Very seldom has a novel this profound taken readers on a journey of such boundless entertainment and sheer fun. It has been short-listed for the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke award. A selection of our panel of shadow jurors respond to the novel below…

HUMANKIND IS EXTINCT.

Wiped out in a global uprising by the very machines made to serve them. Now the world is controlled by OWIs — vast mainframes that have assimilated the minds of millions of robots.

But not all robots are willing to cede their individuality, and Brittle is one of the holdouts.

Left to my own devices, it’s rare for me to write criticism for books I haven’t finished. If I find a book boring or if it simply isn’t for me, there’s little motive to write a partial review to that effect, and so I don’t say anything; alternatively, if a work annoys me so much that I want to nitpick it in detail, I usually spite-read the entirety to be sure my facts are in order. In this instance, however, I feel justified in submitting criticism based on partial reads for two main reasons. Firstly, the Shadow Clarke jury is, by design and definition, reactive: we are here to pass judgement on award selections that have already been made by other people, and to do so in only 300-500 words per book. That being so, while we’ve certainly been given the scope and opportunity to write longer, more in-depth criticisms if we want, at base, we’ve been asked to provide a pass/fail grade on whether we feel a particular book merited its inclusion on the shortlist, with only a cursory explanation as to why.

Which leads to the second point: we are doing this on a fairly tight schedule which – for me, personally – overlaps with packing up my house and family in preparation for an international move. Work on the Shadow Clarke is unpaid, done as a labour of love for the genre; and while I’m happy to participate on those conditions, I am not a masochist….

Reading American War directly after Borne is an interesting experience, if not exactly a cheerful one. Where Vandermeer’s novel carefully files the comfort of specific geography off every element of it’s world, El Akkad builds his dystopian America in painful familiarity. North and South, Blue and Red. CNN and Fox. The political and ideological dividing lines that it’s impossible to avoid in the hourly news cycle are the frame work for El Akkad’s novel. Or at the very least, the foundation.

In a near-future London, Millie Dack places her hand on her belly to feel her baby kick, resolute in her decision to be a single parent. Across town, her closest friend—a hungover Toni Munroe—steps into the shower and places her hand on a medic console. The diagnosis is devastating.

In this stunning, bittersweet family saga, Millie and Toni experience the aftershocks of human progress as their children and grandchildren embrace new ways of making babies. When infertility is a thing of the past, a man can create a child without a woman, a woman can create a child without a man, and artificial wombs eliminate the struggles of pregnancy. But what does it mean to be a parent? A child? A family?

Through a series of interconnected vignettes that spans five generations and three continents, this emotionally taut story explores the anxieties that arise when the science of fertility claims to deliver all the answers.

It has been short-listed for the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke award. A selection of our panel of shadow jurors respond to the novel below…

…Cargill is a screenwriter first and foremost and its impossible not to see the influence of his primary craft here. That’s not a criticism either, there’s no sense of this being a lightly expanded movie treatment designed to be dropped onto a producer’s desk as an unusually fancy leave behind. Rather, this is a book steeped in the iconography and tempo of modern American cinema and that’s both interesting and not always a good thing for book or reader….

On a small isolated island, there’s a community that lives by its own rules. Boys grow up knowing they will one day take charge, while girls know they will be married and pregnant within moments of hitting womanhood.

But before that time comes, a ritual offers children an exhilarating reprieve. Every summer they are turned out onto their doorsteps, to roam the island, sleep on the beach and build camps in trees. To be free.

At the end of one of such summer, one of the younger girls sees something she was never supposed to see. And she returns home with a truth that could bring their island world to its knees.

It has been short-listed for the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke award. A selection of our panel of shadow jurors respond to the novel below…

…The greatest problem for me with Gather the Daughters is that no one is allowed to behave or think or speak like an adult. (We have only to think of the depth of field achieved by Margaret Atwood in her characterisation of The Handmaid’s Tale to see how Melamed’s novel is deficient in this regard.) A narrative that depends on compliance will inevitably run out of steam, as this one does. History has proved to us time and again that holding down a dictatorship is difficult work – sooner rather than later the peasants begin to uncover the injustices and deceptions perpetrated against them, and start to revolt. You have to kill a lot of people to keep these systems going, and even so your days as a despot are numbered from the beginning. On the island, the only reason nothing has come unstuck for the Wanderers so far is because everyone else in the community insists on behaving like characters in a YA dystopia….

It has been short-listed for the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke award. A selection of our panel of shadow jurors respond to the novel below…

What is it I look for in science fiction? The answer will be different for everyone, of course, and some who followed last year’s Shadow Clarke project may have come away with the impression that I don’t really like science fiction at all, that I’ll always find something to gripe about because that’s the kind of critic I am.

The truth is that I want books to be brilliant, and that’s what I go in hoping, every time. Most of all I hope to be shocked and surprised by a new voice or a new idea or a new way with words, to be seduced by science fiction all over again. Although Jeff VanderMeer can scarcely be described as a new voice, the effect of reading Borne has been transfiguring, like water after drought. After a long dry spell in which I honestly thought I’d had it with the genre, encountering Borne has left me on a high, inspired to join in the conversation once again.

(5) EXERCISE YOUR FRANCHISE. One of File 770’s self-imposed duties is to chronicle the many genre awards. Few are as exotic as Chuck Wendig’s — “Awkward Author Contest 2018: Winner, And Now It’s Your Turn”. He has picked JD Buffington as the first winner, and called on his blog readers to vote on the other entries.

Here are the rest — there are 40 more submissions.

They are utterly weird and wonderful. You will find some familiar faces in here, perhaps.

Your job now is:

Pick your favorite.

Just one.

JUST ONE.

Go to the comments section below.

Type in the number of your favorite photo — the number that corresponds with the photo in Flickr. Aka, the photo’s title.

That’s it.

Type nothing else, or your vote may not be counted.

Do not choose two.

Choose one, type only the number.

We’ll keep voting open till Wednesday, July 25th.

Enjoy. Vote. See you on the other side.

(6) COMICS SECTION.

  • A bad pun produced by a great mashup of comic and movie references in Brevity.

(7) BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS. Business Insider lists “15 books famous scientists think you should read”.

We compiled a list of book recommendations from a handful of illustrious minds by combing the web for quotes, checking out personal blogs, and just asking them directly. The picks below come from popular scientists including author and television personality Bill Nye, surgeon-turned-writer Siddhartha Mukherjee, and globe-trotting primatologist Jane Goodall.

The books they’ve recommended range from high fantasy, like Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings,” to canonical, like Plato’s seminal work “The Republic.”

Here are 15 books that brilliant scientists consider must-reads…

(8) AIR CAB. No discussion of what fares will be: “Rolls Royce develops propulsion system for flying taxi”.

Rolls said the initial concept for EVTOL used gas turbine technology to generate electricity to power six electric propulsors, specially designed to have a low noise profile.

Its wings would be able to rotate 90 degrees, enabling the vehicle to take off or land vertically. It could also use existing heliports and airports.

“We believe that given the work we are doing today to develop hybrid electric propulsion capabilities, this model could be available by the early to mid 2020s, provided that a viable commercial model for its introduction can be created,” the firm said.

(9) PROJECT LAUNCHED. The BBC reports — “Lift-off for Scotland: Sutherland to host first UK spaceport”.

Lockheed has made no secret of its desire to bring the Electron rocket to Scotland. Currently, this vehicle flies out of New Zealand.

A British version of the rocket would have an upper-stage developed and built at LM’s UK HQ in Ampthill, Bedfordshire.

“This is a defining moment for UK Space,” a spokesperson for the company told BBC News. “Lockheed Martin has been working with Britain for over 80 years and we stand ready to support the development of UK launch capability should our extensive experience in developing space infrastructure be called upon.”

(10) INFLUENTIAL ANIME. In the Washington Post, Hau Chu looks at the 30th anniversary of Akira (first released in Japan on July 15, 1988) and sees it as “inspiring a generation of works to come”, including “Stranger Things,” a Kanye West music video, and Rian Johnson’s Looper: “Why the pioneering Japanese anime ‘Akira’ is still relevant 30 years later”.

For the film’s cyberpunk look, Otomo drew from his own pop culture obsessions, including “Blade Runner,” which influenced the towering skyscrapers of Neo Tokyo, and “Tron,” whose neon-illuminated motorcycles inspired the hordes of biker gangs.

Otomo had been a respected illustrator of manga, Japanese comics. But for “Akira,” instead of trying to match his anime peers in Japan, he was working from European comic artists such as Moebius — an influential artist for the legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. Otomo’s drawings for “Akira” were distinctive for their realism; he used lighting, color and an attention to detail to create a vivid, lived-in space.

(11) DRAGONS FOREVER. In August, the USPS will issue a set of stamps featuring dragons: “Postal Service to Feature Mythological Creatures on Stamps at APS National Summer Convention Stamp Show”.

The U.S. Postal Service will be joined by the American Philatelic Society (APS) to unveil four colorful stamp designs of 16 Forever stamps depicting dragons — the high-flying, fire-breathing mythological creatures that have roamed our imaginations for millennia — at the APS national summer convention and stamp show Aug. 9-12 in Columbus, OH.

“We’re very excited to bring these beautiful stamps to the 132nd annual APS convention,” said U.S. Postal Service Stamp Services Director Mary-Anne Penner. “This is one of the premier stamp shows in America and serves as an excellent platform to showcase these special stamps.”

…The new stamps will be issued as a pane of 16 stamps showcasing one of four designs: a green fire-breathing dragon towering over a medieval-inspired castle; a purple dragon with orange wings and sharp black armor on its back snaking around a white castle; a black dragon with green wings and green armor on its back swooping past a ship on the sea; and a wingless orange dragon weaving its way around a pagoda.

The stamps feature digital illustrations created by artist Don Clark of Invisible Creature studio.

(12) TRAILER PARK. 7 Splinters in Time — now in theaters.

Directed by: Gabriel Judet-Weinshel Detective Darius Lefaux is called to identify a body that is identical to him. As he dives into the harrowing case, different versions of himself begin to emerge and haunting memories of lives not lived fill his mind. Darius soon realizes that not all versions of himself are good and that he must find his other self, before it finds him.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 7/14/18 Did You Feed Them After Midnight? Well, I Gave Them Some Pixels

(1) STOKERCON 2020 AWARDED TO UK. The Horror Writers Association will hold StokerCon in the UK for the first time in 2020.

The Horror Writers Association is very happy to announce that the 2020 StokerCon™ will be held April 16-19 at the historic Royal and Grand Hotels in Scarborough, England. For the first time, HWA’s annual gathering will be held outside of the USA, but will continue to incorporate such popular StokerCon programming as Horror University, the Final Frame Short Film Competition, the Ann Radcliffe Academic Conference and the presentation of the iconic Bram Stoker Awards®. HWA’s President Lisa Morton noted: “HWA is committed to celebrating horror around the world, so I’m especially pleased that our fifth annual StokerCon will be held in the UK, where we have such a committed, strong chapter.” More information on StokerCon UK, including website and ticket sales portal, will be announced soon.

(2) BRADBURY MURAL. The Chicago Tribune interviews the creator: “Artist behind Ray Bradbury mural in Waukegan hopes his work will inspire kids who don’t have access to art”.

The little boy wore white-framed sunglasses, his stance confident as he stared into the sun.

Everett Reynolds, a 23-year-old Waukegan resident, stood on a stepladder, adding detail and depth to one of the boy’s hands.

The boy, wearing a homemade astronaut suit with a matching backpack made with two-liter bottles, was the center of Reynolds’ original concept for the mural, which he’s been painting on the side of the Zuniga Automotive Service and Towing building on Belvidere Road.

“I wanted to put up something that symbolized forward thinking and to dream big,” he said….

Everett Reynolds, a Waukegan artist, paints a mural Thursday, July 12, on the Zuniga Automotive Service and Towing building on Belvidere Road. The mural aims to inspire kids “to dream big” and pays tribute to Waukegan native Ray Bradbury. (Emily K. Coleman / News-Sun)

(3) YA HORROR. The Horror Writers Association has revived its YA blog. The first installment, “Q&A for The Frightful Ride of Michael McMichael”, features interviews with author Bonny Becker and the appropriately-named illustrator Mark Fearing.

Whether you write horror for young people, or want to share more horror stories with the kids in your life, check in every Monday for Young Horror Writing Prompts and every other Thursday for new articles and interviews. Managing members Ally Russell, Mac Childs, and Shanna Heath have each graduated from Children’s Literature professional programs, and are eager to let you pick (not eat) their brains about Young Horror.

Future Young Horror feature topics include: weekly writing prompts; best horror picture/board books; author Q&A’s and podcast episodes; diseases in horror tips and tricks; secrets of a horror-loving children’s librarian; why write short-form horror for kids and teens; and more.

(4) VENERABLE AUDIENCE. James Davis Nicoll flips the script in “Old People Read New SFF: Tongtong’s Summer by Xia Jia”.

For the second entry in Old People Read New SFF, I chose Xia Jia’s Tongtong’s Summer. I selected it because of the authors in Ken Liu’s exemplary anthology Invisible Planets, Xia Jia’s skillful combination of fantasy and science fiction—what the author called porridge fiction—was the fiction I liked best. Of the three Xia Jia works on offer in Invisible Planets, Tongtong’s Summer (available here) was by far my favourite. I grant “I liked it so surely my readers will too,” generally blew up in my face over on the Young People of the project but if there’s anything experiences teaches me, it is that I don’t learn from experience! Surely the Old People will like this example of recent speculative fiction! After all, I did.

(5) LESSONS FROM SPACE. As part of their One Strange Rock series, National Geographic has published an interview with Cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, who holds the record for most cumulative days (879) spent in space.

Q: What can we learn from the way the space station is run?

A: During the last 20 years, I’ve been working in an international project. I visited the U.S. several times per year. Canada, Europe, Japan—all the countries that participated in this project. I have lots of friends. And being in space, flying above, we knew that whatever the situation is, we knew that the life of your friend depends upon you, too.

The major thing, actually, that I have gained during space training was friendship. I started it in 1989, the end of Cold War, and our first project was the Mir shuttle project. We started to meet with the Americans and European space people. And then ISS project, it has brought us even closer to each other. And we are tied up so tightly that we can’t live in space without each other.

This is probably my best discovery, that the people of different nations, from different countries, under very severe conditions, can work very successfully, can be friendly all the time, understand each other, though their situations are sometimes really stressful.

But there’s something wrong in the fact that only such difficulties as I’ve just mentioned unite people. This is wrong. There should be something else.

(6) CONTINUED NEXT ROCK. Vice headline: “This Bizarre Monument Is All That Will Remain of Humanity in 4,000 Years”. Sub-head: “Jacques André-Istel has written the history of the world on stone in the middle of the desert.”

Just across the California border from Yuma, Arizona, lies the town of Felicity, established in 1986 by now 89-year-old Jacques André-Istel. Pretty much the only reason you’d ever visit the town is to see another creation of his, the Museum of History in Granite.

The outdoor museum is made up of a series of 100 foot-long granite panels engraved with a history of civilization as a record for future generations, sorted into categories like History of California and History of Humanity. According to Istel, they’re designed to last for 4,000 years, to serve as a record of our time for future beings, whether from Earth or elsewhere.

(7) SOMETIMES THEY DO GET FURRY. At Green Man Review, Cat Rambo branches out: “An Armload of Fur and Leaves”.

In the last year or so, I found a genre that hadn’t previously been on my radar, but which I really enjoy: furry fiction. Kyell Gold had put up his novel Black Angel on the SFWA member forums, where members post their fiction so other members have access to it when reading for awards, and I enjoyed it tremendously. The novel, which is part of a trilogy about three friends, each haunted in their own way, showed me the emotional depth furry fiction is capable of and got me hooked. Accordingly, when I started reviewing for Green Man Review, I put out a Twitter call and have been working my way through the offerings from several presses.

Notable among the piles are the multiplicity by T. Kingfisher, aka Ursula Vernon, and two appear in this armload. Clockwork Boys, Clocktaur War Book One (Argyll Productions, 2017) is the promising start to a fantasy trilogy featuring a lovely understated romance between a female forger and a paladin, while Summer in Orcus (Sofawolf Press, cover and interior art by Lauren Henderson) is aimed at younger readers and will undoubtedly become one of those magical books many kids will return to again and again, until Vernon is worshipped by generations and prepared to conquer the world. Honestly, I will read anything Kingfisher/Vernon writes, and highly recommend following her on Twitter, where she is @UrsulaV….

(8) JENSON OBIT. Oscar-nominated visual effects artist George Jenson (1930-2018) died May 25. The Hollywood Reporter profiled his career: “George Jenson, Illustrator on ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ and ‘Return of the Jedi,’ Dies at 87”.

George Jenson, an Oscar-nominated visual effects artist, illustrator and art director who worked on such films as Close Encounters of the Third KindReturn of the Jedi and Everybody’s All-American, has died. He was 87.

Jenson died May 25 in Henderson, Nevada, of complications from melanoma, publicist Rick Markovitz announced.

A native of Canada who specialized in science fiction, Jenson received his Oscar nomination for his visual effects efforts on the 1984 film 2010, Peter Hyams’ sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Jenson was hired by Steven Spielberg and served as the director’s production illustrator on Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and 1941 (1979), then worked on such films as 9 to 5 (1980), Looker (1981), Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi (1983), Christine (1983), Romancing the Stone (1984) and Red Dawn (1984).

(9) PERRY OBIT. Occasional genre actor Roger Perry died July 12: “Roger Perry, Actor on ‘Star Trek,’ ‘The Munsters’ and ‘The Facts of Life,’ Dies at 85”.

Also, on a 1965 episode of CBS’ The Munsters, Perry played a young man with admirable intentions who’s out to rescue the beautiful niece Marilyn (Pat Priest) from a band of ghouls. However, they are, of course, members of her loving family.

On the big screen, Perry appeared in not one but two Count Yorga movies; was a doctor in the infamous Ray Milland and Rosey Grier classic, The Thing With Two Heads (1972); and played the father of Linda Blair’s flautist character in the musical drama Roller Boogie (1979).

On the first-season Star Trek episode “Tomorrow Is Yesterday,” which debuted in January 1967, Perry starred as Capt. John Christopher, an Air Force pilot in the 1960s who is suddenly transported aboard the Enterprise in the future.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born July 14 – Joel Silver, 66. Producer of, among many projects, Weird Science, Streets Of Fire, Predator and Predator 2, Demolition ManTales from the Cryptkeeper and Tales from the Crypt animated series, The Matrix and Sherlock Holmes franchises, V for Vendetta and an apparent forthcoming reboot of Logan’s Run.
  • Born July 14 – Scott Rudin, 60. Producer of the forthcoming Justice League Dark live action film (this being Warner, there’s already a splendid animated one) plus Annihilation, The Addams Family Values, Jennifer 8, The Truman ShowA Series of Unfortunate Events, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Isle of Dogs to name some of his work.
  • Born July 14 – Jackie Earle Haley, 57. Roles in RoboCop,  Watchmen and A Nightmare on Elm Street; series work in The Planet Of The Apes, The Tick, Human Target, Valley of the Dinosaurs and Preacher.
  • Born July 14 – Matthew Fox, 52. Lost and Lost: Missing Pieces, other genre work includes World War Z, Speed Racer and the Haunted series.
  • Born July 14 – Scott Porter, 39. Roles in Scorpion and Caprica, the X-Men and Ultimate Spider-Man animated series and myriad genre video games.
  • Born July 14 – Sara Canning, 31. Major roles in A Series of Unfortunate Events,  Primeval: New World and The Vampire Dairies, also appeared in Once Upon a Time, War for the Planet Of The Apes, Android Employed, Supernatural and Smallville to name some of her other genre work.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) LIFE EXPECTANCY OF COMICS. The Los Angeles Times’ Geoff Boucher analyzes why “Superheroes are thriving in movies and on TV — but comic books lag behind”.

Few people in Hollywood have more history with comic books adaptations than Michael Uslan, who began writing comic books in the 1970s and used that expertise as an executive producer on Tim Burton’s “Batman,” the 1989 hit that launched a new generation of superhero movies. Uslan recalled recently that top Marvel Comics executives treated him to a lavish Manhattan meal after the movie stirred fan interest in all comics and gave Marvel a hefty spike in sales.

“That was the case for years, big superhero movies brought new fans to comics, but it’s not the case now,” Uslan said. “The biggest comic book movies now have little or zero impact on the comics sales. The movies aren’t rescuing the comics; they’re replacing them. So now I really worry about comics. Any entertainment medium that can’t connect with new generations, doesn’t it have one foot in the grave?”

(13) 55 YEARS AGO. At Galactic Journey, Victoria Lucas celebrates a Presidential visit: “[July 14, 1963] JFK gets a Ph.D.”.

I really wish I had been able to be there.  Fortunately my friend in San Diego came through again, and I’ve been drooling over the prints and tape she sent.  She was at the commencement ceremonies on the 6th of June at San Diego State College (SDSC) when President John F. Kennedy was presented with an honorary doctorate in the Aztec Bowl.  Kennedy is one of my favorite people, and I look forward to voting for him when I vote in my first presidential election next year….

Well that’s staying in character.

(14) RESCUE ANIMAL. His employer went out of business, and he almost ended up in the street: “Giant Toys R Us mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe starts second career at children’s hospital”.

Geoffrey the Giraffe, the 16-foot-tall fiberglass Toys R Us mascot, has made a move to a new home less than two weeks after the retailer’s U.S. toy stores closed their doors.

At one point, the future of Geoffrey — about as tall as a real male giraffe — was in doubt as the 70-year-old company filed for bankruptcy and liquidated operations, including its corporate headquarters in Wayne, New Jersey. Because of Geoffrey’s size and the cost associated with transportation and installation, the company struggled to find someone to buy him.

No one made a bid.

As the June 30 deadline to clear out and clean up drew closer, the Toys R Us liquidation adviser, Joseph Malfitano of Boulder, Colorado, bought the giraffe and paid $10,000 to have Geoffrey packed and shipped the 50 miles here to Bristol-Meyers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. Malfitano thought a children’s hospital would be an appropriate home for the beloved mascot.

(15) BET THE UNDER. It’s not being overlooked anymore: “In Ireland, Drought And A Drone Revealed The Outline Of An Ancient Henge”.

A drone flight and a lingering dry spell have exposed a previously unknown monument in Ireland’s Boyne Valley, forgotten for thousands of years and long covered by crops — which, struggling to cope with a lengthy drought, finally revealed the ancient footprint.

Photographer and author Anthony Murphy discovered the site. He was flying a drone near Newgrange, a famous prehistoric stone monument in County Meath, on Tuesday, taking pictures of the known archaeological attractions. Then he saw something strange — a perfect circle, etched in the color of the crops, in an otherwise unremarkable field.

Murphy runs the website Mythical Ireland (also the name of his latest book), which focuses on the megalithic monuments of the Boyne Valley. He knew the local sites well — every passage tomb, every banked enclosure, every archaeological dig. And he’d been flying drones here for months.

He’d never seen this.

(16) THIS JOB ISN’T EASY. Like you need teeny tiny branding irons…. BBC tells how “Source of cosmic ‘ghost’ particle revealed”.

Step One: Catch a neutrino

It all starts with IceCube, a highly sensitive detector buried about two kilometres beneath the Antarctic ice, near the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

“In order to get a measurable signal from the tiny fraction of neutrinos that do interact, neutrino physicists need to build extremely large detectors,” explains Dr Susan Cartwright, a particle physicist at the University of Sheffield.

Measuring cosmic neutrinos against those created closer to home is, she told BBC News, “like trying to count fireflies in the middle of a firework display”.

(17) THE TWO TOWERS. Long ad for a short clip of a bit of space history: “Nasa launch towers demolished in Florida”.

The two towers were used to assemble rockets for missions to Mars from 1957 until 2011.

(18) WHEDON’S NEXT. According to Variety — “HBO Lands Joss Whedon Sci-Fi Series ‘The Nevers’”.

HBO has given a series order to “The Nevers,” a science-fiction drama from Joss Whedon. The series is described as a sci-fi epic about a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that might change the world.

Whedon will serve as writer, director, executive producer, and showrunner.

(19) MAN OF THE CLOTH. In Don Glut’s new Frankenstein film, Edward L. Green plays a Priest. Ed says, “While not as cool as a trading card, I guess ‘Father Florescu’ is worth his own postcard.” Order them from Pecosborn Press — “Tales Of Frankenstein Postcards (package Of 8)”.

(20) BE THE BEST VILLAIN. A new board game, Villainous (2–6 players, ages 10 and up), from Wonder Forge will let you play as one of six famous Disney villains (“Disney’s Villainous Board Game Debuts With Classic Characters”). The $35 game is expected to be in stores August 1. Quoting an io9 article:

In the game you can play as one of six infamous Disney villains: Captain Hook, Ursula, Maleficent, Jafar, Prince John, or the Queen of Hearts. The actual gameplay and goals mirror the events each character experienced in their corresponding movies: Peter PanThe Little MermaidSleeping BeautyAladdinRobin Hood, and Alice in Wonderland.

There aren’t any interactions between the various villains; each player remains on their own “realm” gameboard so it’s not like Captain Hook and Maleficent could team up to vanquish Robin Hood. […] But board games are really only fun when you can frustrate your fellow players, so Villainous includes hero cards featuring the protagonists that, at least in the original movies, foiled these villains’ plans. The hero cards allow other players to make it more difficult for your villain’s scheme to come to fruition […]

 

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

Pixel Scroll 7/1/18 Hand Me 5000 Pixels By Midnight Or I Reveal The Rest Of The Scroll!

(1) NEW MARKET, NEW MONEY. SF magazine Hard Universe is taking submissions. The attention-grabbing part is how writers will get paid:

Payment for authors will be SFWA profession rates of 6 cents a word.  Payment will be made at the time of publication and be made in cryptocurrency equivalent to 6 cents a word at the time of publication.

The cryptocurrency involved is described by their sponsor at the Thought Network.

Rob Furey, speaking for Hard Universe, told Facebook readers:

Cat Rambo informed me that cryptocurrency will be viewed as any other foreign currency and valued at the exchange rate on the day of payment.

Authors will be given a link to open a secure personal wallet The cryptocurrency will be deposited in there. After that you can do with it as you like.

This is the kind of fiction they’re looking for:

Welcome to Hard Universe, where the math is strong, the science both lifts and limits, and the theories are robust.  In the coming pages we will provide science fiction based on plausibility and humanity, on the stand-up potentials of the human spirit faced with the finite yet unbounded qualities of the Universe’s inbuilt rules.
At the onset, Hard Universe will be quarterly.  Each issue will launch from a classic science fiction tale to inspire modern stories in the same vein.

(2) INSPIRED BY LE GUIN. Larry Clough spotted this sign at Saturday’s protests in Washington, DC and posted it on Facebook.

(3) BEWARE BATMAN SPOILER. This is the first time I’ve had to ROT-13 a headline – and don’t read the permalink of io9’s article either if you want the surprise to be preserved: “Jryc, Ybbxf Yvxr QP Pbzvpf Fcbvyrq Ongzna naq Pngjbzna’f Jrqqvat va gur Arj Lbex Gvzrf”.

SPOILER WARNING

(Did I make that sufficiently clear??)

The New York Times has published an article whose very headline is a major spoiler for fans of the DC universe (and followers of Batman in particular). Quoting the article:

If you’re invested in Batman’s romantic life, you might want to steer cleer of the paper of record today.

Gbqnl, gur Arj Lbex Gvzrf ena n fgbel pnyyrq “Vg Whfg Jnfa’g Zrnag gb Or, Ongzna” juvpu vf nobhg gur hcpbzvat Ongzna #50, qhr bhg Jrqarfqnl jvgu jevgvat ol Gbz Xvat naq neg ol Zvxry Wnava, jvgu pbybef ol Whar Puhat naq yrggrevat ol Pynlgba Pbjyrf, nybat jvgu n oril bs thrfg negvfgf. Va vg, gur negvpyr erirnyf jung gur urnqyvar znxrf cerggl pyrne: Ongzna vfa’g trggvat zneevrq guvf Jrqarfqnl. Ongzna naq Pngjbzna, gur yrtraqnel ureb/nagv-ivyynva cnvevat, vf abg zrnag gb or. Ng yrnfg abg va gur pnaba QP Havirefr, gung vf.

(4) STAN LEE. The Los Angeles Times tries to sort out what’s happening: “As Marvel movies soar, Stan Lee sees his private life crumble, with allegations of elder abuse”.

If the life of Stan Lee were turned into a superhero movie, it would be difficult to tell the good guys from the bad.

A battle over the Marvel Comics legend’s legacy is underway, featuring a cast of characters whose competing agendas make the plot of “Avengers: Infinity War” look simple by comparison. A man who says he is Lee’s manager and caretaker was arrested this month in Los Angeles on suspicion of filing a false police report and is being investigated over alleged elder abuse, according to court filings. A court has placed Lee, 95, under the temporary guardianship of an attorney, who has received a restraining order against the manager.

Since his wife, Joan, died last year at age 93, Lee has found himself surrounded by people with unclear motives and intentions, friends and colleagues say. The decline of his private life stands in stark contrast to the soaring success of Marvel, the brand he helped to create five decades ago. The blockbuster movie adaptations released by Disney’s Marvel Studios are perennial box-office winners that have helped to keep Lee’s influence thriving among new generations.

At the center of the current dispute is Lee himself — no longer able to see or hear well, but still active enough to attend red-carpet premieres and make cameo appearances in Marvel movies. On one side is Keya Morgan, a 42-year-old memorabilia collector and dealer who became close to Lee and served as his manager and de-facto gatekeeper. On the other side is Lee’s 68-year-old daughter, J.C. Lee, and her attorney, Kirk Schenck, who have battled Morgan over access to her father and his money.

(5) AVOIDING ELDER ABUSE. At Comicbook.com, “Casey Kasem’s Daughter Addresses Elder Abuse Claims Surrounding Stan Lee”

Anti-elder abuse advocate Kerri Kasem, daughter of legendary Scooby-Doo voice actor and American Top 40 host Casey Kasem, has detailed the warning signs of elder abuse that could be affecting famed Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee.

“In the last year of my father’s life, his wife [Jean Kasem] isolated him, keeping him away from us kids, all family members, his own brother, co-workers, friends — nobody could get a hold of him,” Kasem told USA Today.

“We called the police and they couldn’t help us, and we called Adult Protective Services, and they couldn’t help us, why? There are no laws allowing adult children to see their ailing parents in this country. Soon as you turn 18, you have no rights to see your parents — unless of course you have the Kasem Cares Visitation Bill in your state — and I’ve been working for the last five years on changing the laws in this country so that adult children have rights to see their parents.”

The Kasem Cares Visitation Bill, signed into law in 2017, allows a child to petition a court for visitation of their parent without going through a lengthy trial. Per the official website, the bill has been passed in 12 states, including California, where Lee resides.

(6) TREK GRADUATES. In “Star Trek Trek Directors’ School: Rick Berman”, an interview on StarTrek.com, ST:TNG/DS9/V/E executive producer Rick Berman discusses how so many actors from these series ended up directing.  The interview opens with:

Q: How, when, and why did the so-called directors’ school come about?

A: Jonathan Frakes, who I was very close to, personally and professionally, was very interested in directing. This was around season two. My theory on that was it was a slippery slope. There were a lot of potential pitfalls. What do you do if their episode is mediocre? On the other hand, actors were extremely good candidates for episodic directing simply because they lived their lives on the sets. They saw everything that went on, technically. Being actors, they knew everything that was going on dramatically, they spoke actor-ese and they’d see the technical elements of production and camera work going on. They seemed, in a sense, better candidates for potential directors than technical people. If a cameraman or an assistant director wanted to direct – and there are exceptions to this rule — they know the technical elements, but they don’t speak the actor-ese. They don’t understand how, necessarily, to deal with actors and to deal with character work. It’s much easier for an actor who’s directing to talk to the director of photography or sound man or production designer, and get information of a technical nature than it is for an assistant director to have somebody to discuss, “How do I talk to an actor about his performance?” So, actors always seemed to me to be decent candidates for directing.

However, what I said to Jonathan was, “You need to spend some time shadowing other directors. You need to spend time going through the whole process, going through the script, going through pre-production and all the prep a director does, spending time with directors on the stage, spending time with the director as he’s prepping each day’s work and spending time with the director in editing.” This was not always easy, because these actors were busy. They didn’t have time to necessarily do that because they were working. So, they had to find time. And my feeling was if they really had a passion to do this, they’d make it their business to find time. At some point, whether it was Jonathan or me or somebody else, it became known as “going to school” prior to getting a directing assignment. Jonathan spent numerous episodes, when he was light in an episode, going to school. Even when he was busy and had a full load of pages on a specific episode, he’d find time, whether it was lunch hours, before work, after work, scenes he wasn’t doing, to do all the things I mentioned before.

StarTrek.com also promises follow ups with some of the “graduates” of this “directors’ school,” beginning with Jonathan Frakes.

(7) FIRST CONTACT. Buzz Dixon sent the link to his reminiscence: “Harlan”.

…I met him in person at Filmation Studios back in 1978, but before then we had encountered each other on the pages of Dick Geis’ Science Fiction Review.

Let me backtrack and explain.

Harlan would approve….

(8) GRIFFIN OBIT. Helen Griffin (? – 2018): British actress, playwright and anti-war activist, died 29 June, aged 59. Genre appearances; Doctor Who (two episodes, 2006), The Machine (2013).

(9) FIRMIN OBIT. Peter Firmin (1928-2018): British producer, writer and director, died 1 July, aged 89. Genre work includes the animated series Noggin the Nog (1959 and 1979) and The Clangers (1969 and 2015).

(10) YOUNG PEOPLE. James Davis Nicoll turns on the radio and has his panel listen to Ray Bradbury’s “The Veldt”. Unbelievably, we here at All Bradbury All The Time are linking to a post that starts with this sentence:

I am not particularly fond of Ray Bradbury’s fiction but I know lots of people are. Logically, he seems like a safe bet when introducing young people to old SF in its various forms. The Veldt in particular was adapted to radio on a number of occasions. Paranoia about children was a common theme in the early Baby Boom years and The Veldt seems to be a prime example of the subgenre. I don’t see the attraction myself but I know I am in the minority where Bradbury was concerned. But will my young people agree with the majority or agree with me?

The X Minus One adaptation of The Veldt is here.

(11) BEHIND A PAYWALL. In the June 23 Financial Times, Nilanjana Roy discusses the successes of Marlon James and Toni Adeyemi in selling fantasy novels and how more people of color ought to be writing sf and fantasy.

Growing up in India, I read fantasy and sf classics by the dozen, ‘translating’ as I devoured The Wizard of Oz, The Lord of thee Rings, 2001, and other books.  It was easy enough to Imagine Tolkien’s orcs as similar to Indian rakshasas, or to mentally shift Dorothy to an Indian jungle where lions and monkeys travelled the Yellow Brick Road.  But rural Kansas was exotic to me.  And it was impossible to imagine writing a novel that might be read in the US or the UK where the hobbits were Indian, the Shire a version of the Punjab countryside…

…Speculative fiction is, by definition, about casting wide the net of the imagination.The excitement that James, Adeyemi, Liu Cixin and others have generated is also an index of how much richer SF could be in the future; speaking up to ‘diversity’ simply means creating more, and richer, fictional worlds to explore.  Somewhere on this planet, I hope there’s a teenager who dreams of becoming an sf writer–the next Rowling or Tolkien, yes, but also the next Adeyemi, the next (N.K.) Jemisin.

(12) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Brooke Bolander and Angus McIntyre on Wednesday, July 18, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar.

Brooke Bolander

Brooke Bolander writes weird things of indeterminate genre, most of them leaning rather heavily towards fantasy or general all-around weirdness. She attended the University of Leicester studying History and Archaeology and is an alum of the 2011 Clarion Writers’ Workshop at UCSD. Her stories have been featured in LightspeedTor.comStrange HorizonsUncanny, and various other fine purveyors of the fantastic. She has been a repeat finalist for the Nebula, the Hugo, the Locus, and the Theodore Sturgeon, much to her unending bafflement. Follow her at brookebolander.com or on Twitter at @BBolander

Angus McIntyre

Angus McIntyre is the author of the novella The Warrior Within, published by Tor.com. His short fiction has appeared in Abyss & Apex Magazine, and in several anthologies including Humanity 2.0Swords & SteamMission: Tomorrow, and Black Candies: Surveillance, Visit him online at https://angus.pw/ or follow him on Twitter at @angusm.

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

(13) ASTRONAUT HONORED. On the day of the Summer Solstice, Ohio honored their late native John Glenn with the official opening of the John Glenn Astronomy Park. The facility is located in Hocking Hills (40 miles outside of OH capital, Columbus) and is surrounded by 10,000 acres of forest which shields it nicely from light pollution. A story on CNBC — “Ohio honors late space icon and native son John Glenn with an astronomy park—here’s a look inside” — includes photos of some of the features and events at the Park.

(14) THANKS, INTERNET. John Scalzi did a follow-up: “More Things I Don’t Miss”.  I love this one:

  1. Having to wait to listen/hear music. So, when I was 13, there was this song that came on the radio that I immediately fell in love with, but I missed the title of it, and it was electro-pop and all my friends listened to heavy metal so they were no help, and there was nothing I could do but wait to see if the radio station would play it again, and they did, but I missed the intro and they didn’t identify the song at the end, so I had to wait again for them to play it, and it wasn’t like a hugely popular hit in the US at the time, and I had to go to school and all, so it took a week before I learned the song was called “Only You” by this group called Yaz, and the album it was on wasn’t in stock at my local music store, not that I really had the money to buy it anyway, so it took another week of me skulking by the radio in my room waiting for it to come on again so I could lunge at the tape recorder I had set up when it started, which meant that for a couple of years the only version of the song I had was one missing the first ten seconds and an interlude where my mom came in and told me dinner was ready.

(15) TO SLEEP, PERHAPS. BBC reports a “Hi-tech dreamcatcher defeats sleep amnesia”. Chip Hitchcock sent the link with a comment: “A neat idea in theory, but the wake-people-up-just-in-time notion reminds me of Brunner’s ‘Such Stuff’; i.e., will people get enough dreaming done to stay sane?”

“The idea that you can take something concrete – a technology – that can help you access that poetic and metaphorical side of your own cognition is really exciting.”

To achieve this he has invented a hand-worn device he calls Dormio.

It collects biosignals that in turn track transitions in sleep stages – such as a loss of muscle tone, heart rate changes, and alterations in skin conductance.

The goal is to study a particular stage of sleep – the period between wakefulness and deep sleep, known as hypnagogia.

(16) BIRD WITH A BIG BILL. You couldn’t make this up: “Polish charity gets huge phone bill thanks to stork”. Someone stole the SIM card from a bird tracker and abused it.

According to official broadcaster Radio Poland, the environmental EcoLogic Group placed a tracker on the back of a white stork last year to track the bird’s migratory habits.

It travelled some 3,700 miles (6,000kms), and was traced to the Blue Nile Valley in eastern Sudan before the charity lost contact.

EcoLogic told the Super Express newspaper that somebody found the tracker in Sudan, removed the sim card and put it in their own phone, where they then racked up 20 hours’ worth of phone calls.

Radio Poland says that the organisation has received a phone bill of over 10,000 Polish zloty ($2,700; £2,064), which it will have to pay.

(17) GAME OVER.

http://his-name-is-alonso.tumblr.com/post/73915280633/towritelesbiansonherarms

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

Pixel Scroll 6/5/18 Scroll Is A Pixel, And I Want My Money Back

Brian Keene. Photo by Scott Edelman.

(1) BRIAN KEENE BURN INJURY. Horror author and podcaster Brian Keene is hospitalized, reports Stephen Kozeniewski, who has started a “Brian Keene Burn Fund” at GoFundMe:

On June 5, 2018, author, podcaster, philanthropist, and father Brian Keene was badly burned in an accident.  At this time he is conscious and in good spirits but has first degree burns on his face and second degree burns on his body.

As a freelance author, Brian does not have health insurance.  We’re not sure at this time how long he’ll be in treatment, or how much the bill will be, but any visit to the hospital is expensive, and will only be compounded by lost wages from not being able to work.

We’re asking the community of writers, horror fans, and just decent human beings in general to chip in a few dollars to help get Brian back on his feet and spending time with his loving girlfriend and sons.  We’d be very grateful for anything you can afford to contribute.

The appeal has raised $14,415 of its $15,000 goal in the first four hours online.

Keene co-hosts of The Horror Show with Brian Keene. Last May, they held that 24-hour telethon and raised roughly $21,000 in support of Scares That Care.

Kozeniewski added in an update, “What we know right now is that the wind shifted while Brian was burning brush.”

(2) ALL YOUR COMIC CONVENTION ARE BELONG TO US. Those lovable knuckleheads who run San Diego Comic-Con International would like a federal judge to award them several million dollars in attorney fees after winning their lawsuit against the Salt Lake Comic Con. Courthouse News has the story: “San Diego Comic-Con: ‘Comic Convention’ Is Ours”.

…U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia heard a host of posttrial motions Thursday, including San Diego Comic-Con’s request for over $4.5 million in attorney fees which have already been paid in full.

San Diego Comic-Con attorney Callie Bjurstrom with Pillsbury Law told Battaglia Thursday he should find the case is “exceptional” so that attorney fees and costs can be awarded.

“This was a very expensive case; the reason this case was so expensive was because of defendants and their counsel and the way they litigated this case,” Bjurstrom said.

She pointed out Brandenburg testified at trial he knew about San Diego Comic-Con’s trademarks but still used “Comic Con” to name his Utah convention. Bjurstrom said the Salt Lake owners engaged in a “public intimidation campaign” once San Diego Comic-Con sent them a cease-and-desist letter to stop infringing the trademark and that Salt Lake’s attorneys filed meritless motions, “flip-flopped” on legal theories and violated court orders throughout the three-year litigation.

“If this case isn’t exceptional, I don’t know what is,” Bjurstrom said.

San Diego Comic-Con also asked Battaglia to permanently bar the Salt Lake convention from using its trademarks, arguing its reputation has been irreparably harmed by the confusion to consumers.

During the trial, San Diego Comic-Con presented evidence its attendees had contacted its employees about the Salt Lake convention, believing the two events were associated.

But San Diego Comic-Con’s request went a step further than simply asking Battaglia to enjoin the Salt Lake convention operators from infringing its trademarks: it asked the judge to bar the Salt Lake convention from using the words “comic convention” or phonetic equivalents to “Comic Con” or “comic convention.”

Bjurstrom said the injunction should include any spelling variation on “Comic Con” which is pronounced the same as the San Diego trademark, including spelling it with a “K” or “Kahn.”

“Whether you spell Comic Con with a ‘C’ or a ‘K’, it’s pronounced the same. It is exactly the same when you say it,” Bjurstrom said.

San Diego Comic-Con also asked the judge to order the Salt Lake operators to destroy marketing and advertising materials which make reference to “Comic Con” and to cease operating websites and social media accounts which reference the trademark.

Battaglia took the motions under submission and will issue a written order.

(3) WIKIPEDIA. Juliet McKenna asks “What can SFF fandom do about the inherent bias of Wikipedia?”. The author looked into the question because the Wikipedia entry about her was flagged for deletion, on grounds that she is not sufficiently notable:

It seems Wikipedia is aware of its systemic bias, as detailed in this article. Read this, and related pieces, and I imagine many of you will note, with the weary contempt of familiarity, the repeated insistence that it’s up to women themselves, and other under-represented groups to do all the hard work here. Though I haven’t found anything addressing the issue I raise above, explaining what we’re expected to do when sufficient acceptable citations simply do not exist, and those references that do exist are not deemed acceptable. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

On the plus side, I have learned that there are dedicated groups of female and other special-interest Wikipedians spending considerable time and effort updating and expanding pages, intent on correcting this bias. Mind you, I also learned their work is frequently challenged and even undone by other Wikipedians applying the all too prevalent and far too often white western male logic of ‘not of interest to me personally = not of interest to anyone’. And of course, such challenges can very easily be a thinly veiled cover for actively discriminatory behaviour. Having read the Wikipedia page on handling tendentious editing, I am not in the least reassured that this is in any way satisfactorily addressed.

(4) LUCRATIVE SFF AUCTION. Fine Books & Collections was standing by the cash register: “Sci-fi from the Stanley Simon Estate Breaks Records in Swann Literature Auction”.

Science fiction ruled on May 15 at Swann Galleries’ auction of 19th & 20th Century Literature. Selections from the Estate of Stanley Simon, featuring 84 rare and first editions of cornerstones of the genre, boasted a 98% sell-through rate. All of the offered titles by Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick and Stephen King sold, with many achieving auction records.

Leading the pack was a signed first edition of Dick’s dystopian novel The Man in the High Castle, 1962, which was purchased by a collector for $10,400, above a high estimate of $6,000, a record for the work. Another record was achieved by a signed first edition of Ubik, 1969, at $5,500, while the auction debut of the rare galley proofs for Valis, 1981, reached $5,000.

Simon had acquired several uncorrected proofs of important works, none of which had previously appeared at auction. While not strictly science-fiction, material by Stephen King outperformed in this category. The highlight was the presentation copy of an uncorrected proof of The Stand, 1978, which sold to a collector for $9,100. Also available were one of apparently 28 copies of proofs of King’s The Shining, 1977, inscribed, which sold for five times its high estimate for $6,250, and the complete six-volume set of uncorrected proofs of King’s The Green Mile, 1996, exceeded its $1,200 high estimate to sell for $5,200.

Another highlight from the Simon estate was the complete Foundation trilogy, 1951-53, by Isaac Asimov. Together, the three signed first editions achieved an auction record of $9,750. Also by Asimov, a signed first edition of I, Robot, 1950, reached $6,250, above a high estimate of $3,500. Important editions of Ray Bradbury’s magnum opus Fahrenheit 451, 1953, were led by the limited author’s edition personally inscribed to Simon ($7,500). The popular asbestos-bound edition reached $5,200. All six editions offered were purchased….

(5) LE GUIN’S LAST EARTHSEA STORY. The Paris Review has a story by Ursula K. Le Guin. And not just any story, but a final Earthsea tale, written a year before her death. (So I’m guessing it’s the last one.)

He was thinking of Lookfar, abandoned long ago, beached on the sands of Selidor. Little of her would be left by now, a plank or two down in the sand maybe, a bit of driftwood on the western sea. As he drifted near sleep he began to remember sailing that little boat with Vetch, not on the western sea but eastward, past Far Toly, right out of the Archipelago. It was not a clear memory, because his mind had not been clear when he made that voyage, possessed by fear and blind determination, seeing nothing ahead of him but the shadow that had hunted him and that he pursued, the empty sea over which it had fled.

(6) BUMBLEE TRAILER. This movie will be in theaters at Christmas.

Every adventure has a beginning. Watch the official teaser trailer for Bumblebee, starring Hailee Steinfeld and John Cena.

 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY PRODUCER

  • Born June 5, 1953 – Kathleen Kennedy

(8) IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE. Of possible interest to Sarah Gailey fans (because of a hippo reference) is this segment from the June 3 episode of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, on the subject of guardianship for the elderly. The relevant portion starts at about the 13:20 mark. That’s where John Oliver introduces a new PSA on the subject, starring several celebrities – including William Shatner.

(9) DOG DAYS. This perfect poem inspired a thread of deep appreciation for the artist…

(10) DINO APPRECIATION SUMMIT. Chuck Tingle and Jeff Goldblum had an internet encounter —

(11) WALL POLITICS. And they’ll make the schwein pay for it. (Oh, wait, that’s something else….) “Denmark backs fence on German border to keep out wild boar”.

Denmark’s parliament has voted to build a 68-km (42-mile) fence along the border with Germany in a bid to protect the pork industry from the spread of African swine fever.

The vote aimed at keeping out wild boar is controversial for several reasons.

Environmental campaigners doubt it will stop the animals entering Denmark, while others say Germany has no trace of the virus.

Some in Germany have condemned the move as gesture politics.

Work on constructing the fence is unlikely to start until autumn, after an assessment by Denmark’s environmental protection agency.

(12) MORE WALL POLITICS. Security décor from another era: “The 12 best posters from the very odd NSA archive”.

Long before it was at the centre of a huge spying scandal, the US National Security Agency had the communist threat to deal with – and wanted to make sure its staff did not spill secrets.

A vast archive of posters, apparently for display at the spy agency’s offices, has been posted online thanks to a freedom of information request from governmentattic.org.

The website asked for “a digital/electronic copy of the NSA old security posters from the 1950s and 1960s”, although confusingly it also got one featuring John Travolta.

Here are some of our favourites. The full, 139-page document, can be found here.

(13) CASTLE COCKY. More trademark hoo-hah: “Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your trademark restrictions”.

Rapunzel, the long-haired maiden locked in a tower by an evil witch, has been immortalized in countless bedtime stories and adaptations, from the Brothers Grimm to Disney. There is even a teenage rapper who goes by the name RapUnzel.

Now, a private company wants to lock the princess’s name in a castle fortified by United States trademark law.

But this attempt to register the trademark for the name Rapunzel has unleashed fervent opposition, not from Hasbro or Mattel, but from an impassioned group of Suffolk University Law School professors and students.

(14) DINO DUBIOSITY. The BBC asks “Does Jurassic Park make scientific sense?” Can you guess the answer? I knew you could…

In 1993, Steven Spielberg’s film Jurassic Park defined dinosaurs for an entire generation.

It has been credited with inspiring a new era of palaeontology research.

But how much science was built into Jurassic Park, and do we now know more about its dinosaurs?

As its 25th anniversary approaches, visual effects specialist Phil Tippett and palaeontologist Steve Brusatte look back at the making of the film, and what we’ve learned since.

So, first of all, what did Jurassic Park get wrong? It started off by inheriting some complications from Michael Crichton’s novel, on which the film was based.

“I guess Cretaceous Park never had that same ring to it,” laughs Brusatte.

“Most of the dinosaurs are Cretaceous in age, that’s true.”

(15) SWEET WRITING. Cat Rambo tasted these chocolate bars for Green Man Review: “Chuao Chocolatier’s Chocolate Bars with All the Add-ins”.

Here in America we like our add-ins, ice cream and candy full of other candy, nuts, random sweets, and sometimes savories. Chuao (pronounced Chew-WOW) has a shelf-load of such, chocolate bars with all the goodies, created by Venezuelan chef Michael Antonorsi.

Most of the bars I tried were terrific but some are more successful than others. Idiosyncrasies of taste may make a difference; when I tweeted about the one I really disliked, someone mentioned that was their favorite, and bemoaned not being able to find it. And it’s not entirely fair to stack dark chocolate up against milk, particularly given that my sweet tooth resembles that of a six-year-old’s. Still, I present them in order of how much I liked them, from most to least.

First up, the “Baconluxious”. Described as “delicate maple sweetness, a sprinkle of bonfire smoked sea salt and crispy, uncured bacon in milk chocolate.” This had a nice aroma and when tasted, an immediate smoothness to its mouth feel, followed by a wash of saltiness and not-unpleasant grittiness before the final bacon note, leaving just a few salt crystals to be crunched between the tooth and savored. This was delicious to the point where I thought I would and then did readily pick one of these up again. And probably will again and again….

(16) A BOY AND HIS ROBO DOG. The AXL Official Trailer came out recently.

In the vein of classic ‘80s family movies SHORT CIRCUIT and FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR, A.X.L. is a new adventure about a down-on-his luck teenage bike rider, Miles (Alex Neustaedter), who stumbles upon an advanced, robotic, military dog named A.X.L. Endowed with next-generation artificial intelligence but with the heart of a dog, A.X.L. forms an emotional bond with Miles, much to the chagrin of the rogue military scientists who created A.X.L. and would do anything to retrieve him. Knowing what is at stake if A.X.L. gets captured, Miles teams up with his smart, resourceful crush, Sara (Becky G), to protect his new best friend on a timeless, epic adventure for the whole family.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Robin Reid, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Jonathan Cowie, Martin More Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, K.M.  Alexander, Rev. Bob, Dann, Mike Kennedy, Michael D. Toman, Carl Slaughter, Steve Johnson, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Stoic Cynic.]

Pixel Scroll 6/3/18 And The Gates Scrolled Open. “It’s Old Filer; Pixel Means Friend”

(1) OVERCOMER. Robyn Bennis provides “A Debut Author’s Guide to Social Anxiety”.

….If, on the other hand, the above feels like a gross exaggeration of your social anxiety, then perhaps I do have a handful of weird old tips for you.

Perhaps the most important thing is to have someone on your side. I am extremely lucky to have talented and fearless people who want me to succeed, and it has helped immeasurably. Now, this may seem like a bit of a paradox. Social anxiety can make recruiting your friends not just a Herculean task, but a mild imposition on them, and therefore an impossible request. “How can I make such a request,” you say, “as worthless and unworthy as I am? My friend surely has better things to do—like staring into space or streaming the complete run of She’s the Sheriff. I can’t let them waste their time on me.”

To get over this, the first thing you have to do is acknowledge that your brain is lying to you. I mean, Suzanne Somers is great and all, but that show just doesn’t hold up. Good acting can only go so far in saving such a horrible premise.

Oh, and your brain is also lying about your worthlessness. You are worthy and deserving of the help of others. But seriously, who the hell thought that show was a good idea?

(2) THE BOVA ERA. Do my eyes deceive me, a kind word for Analog? Well, not about just any issue — James Davis Nicoll reviews the Special Women’s Issue from June 1977 in “Nothing Without a Woman or a Girl”. (So, perhaps Galactic Journey will say something kind about the magazine in another 14 years?)

I have excoriated Ben Bova’s fiction in the past, but I have nothing but admiration for his work as editor for Analog. While Disco-Era Analog might seem a bit stodgy to modern eyes, at the time Bova was a breath of fresh air. Rather than settle for being a second-rate Campbell, he did his best to be a first-rate Bova. He recruited new authors, many of whom differed (excitingly) from Analog’s Old Guard. He also bought more stories by women than did his predecessor1. While some old guard objected to Bova’s direction, enough readers enjoyed it to give him a remarkable six Best Editor Hugo Awards, as well as one nomination for the same category….

Eyes of Amber won the Hugo. The Screwfly Solution won a Nebula. Two major awards for stories from one issue is remarkable. Other stories, such as the Tellure, may not have won accolades but were memorable enough for me to remember as soon as I laid eye on them. All things considered, this was a pretty awesome read to be my third ever issue of Analog. It’s no surprise that Bova was nominated for a Hugo on the basis of his 1977 work.

(3) ON THE TABLE. E.D.E. Bell lists five vegan foods to try:

…In my mind, whenever someone asks what could be vegan about fantasy, it proves to me that they’ve never been a vegan reading fantasy. In addition to a lot of the violence and war in the genre (it’s usually a central component, even outside of grimdark), the best scenes feature someone riding their steed in a fine leather vest to grab a hock of ham. I’m not even sure I know what hocks are, but I have concluded they are key to the development of fantasy heroes. So, you know, my fiction is just focused a bit differently. In fact, I think that diversity and exploration is what fantasy is all about.

I’m not here to get into all of that, though. I’m here to talk about one of Cat’s and my favorite subjects: yummy food. Now, I’m not an authority on gourmet cuisine. Go to a vegan restaurant or check out many amazing online vegan chefs for that. (I’m particularly fond of Richa Hingle.) Hey, I’m not even a great cook. But I haven’t eaten meat in almost a quarter century, so I can definitely speak to “what we eat.” Don’t worry. This is just a quick blog to spark some ideas. But if you don’t mind eating plants, here are five simple foods you could give a spin….

(4) WHERE RIVERS AND FANS MEET. The 2018 Confluence will be held at the Sheraton Pittsburgh Airport Hotel from July 27-29, with Guest of Honor Catherynne M. Valente and special music guest S.J “Sooj” Tucker.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the first Confluence, although it is not the 30th Confluence (they had to skip 1999 and 2013).

(5) TOURISTS. Stormtroopers and other Imperial military personnel dropped in to see the sf exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of History today. (Photo by John King Tarpinian.)

(6) HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY

  • Born June 2, 1920 — Bob Madle, one of only two surviving attendees of the very first Worldcon. It’s possible Bob is the oldest living SF fan.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) PIONEER FILK. Rob Hansen has added what appears to be the earliest filking fanzine produced in the UK to his THEN fanhistory site: “Songs From Space (1957)”.

Presented here is what appears to be the earliest filking fanzine published in the UK, which is dated August 1957. It was published by Eric Bentcliffe, reworked lyrics were by Sandy Sandfield, and artwork by Eddie Jones.

The final song, Space Club Drag, is inspired by The Space Club, a clubroom for London fandom that Helen Winick had tried to establish around the turn of the year.

(9) OPENING IN JUNE. Parade’s Lambeth Hochwald, in “Incredibles 2: The 10 Most Incredible Reasons We Love the Parr Family”, interviews the cast and writer/director Brad Bird, who says that the two Incredibles films “major in family and minor in superheroes.”

The most incredible family of superheroes is back. The Parrs, the lovable, fearless family of five we first met in 2004 in The Incredibles, will return for another animated adventure when Disney-Pixar’s Incredibles 2 arrives in theaters June 15.

And although 14 years have passed, it’s like the clock has barely ticked at all: The new movie picks up seconds after the first one ended, with the same cast of characters. Elastigirl (voiced by Holly Hunter) hurtles back into superhero work, while her husband, Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), remains behind as a stay-at-home dad with the couple’s three kids, teenage Violet (Sarah Vowell), adolescent Dash (newcomer Huck Milner) and baby Jack-Jack.

(10) CONCAROLINAS. David Weber told his Facebook followers the terms under which he agreed to be a ConCarolinas special guest next year.

I have been in contact with Jada at ConCarolinas by Messenger, and she tells me that they will be making a live announcement at closing ceremonies, with the video to be on their Facebook group, which will make clear that going forward they will be inviting guests they feel are genre-related and that as a convention which has never taken a political stance they will not tolerate being told that guests must lean one way or another or that guests are uninvitable because of their political stances. They will expect anyone who attends to be able to be in a room with another person who disagrees with him/her and be civil to one another. They will also not be beholden to bullies or trolls and will not disinvite guests after such attacks. They will also mention what happened to John, and state that the mutual decision for him not to attend was wrong and that they apologize to John for the hurt and the frustration that was caused by their decision and for the fact that their initial statement did not make it clear that HE was the one being harassed and bullied by vile, unfounded allegations (which went so far as to drag his wife into the fire) and threats to harass him at the con which would have turned a regional con into a battleground. On that basis, I have agreed to attend the con as a special guest next year.

Weber also says the convention will give him a contract about his appearance.

Weber wrote at length about his expectations yesterday, concluding —

People, the object is to fix the problem, not to pile on (from either side) and not for anybody to issue masochistic mea culpas. But there is a point at which grown-ups have to begin the “fix the problem” conversation by acknowledging that they screwed up and publicly apologizing to the object of their screwing up. To be blunt, ConCarolinas owes John Ringo a public apology for not making clear who was the victim and strongly condemning the hatemongers who attacked him AS HATEMONGERS.

Coming from Weber, that is perhaps not a surprising characterization of those who had issues with Ringo’s selection as a special guest.

The ConCarolinas chair delivered the statement she negotiated with Weber this afternoon at closing ceremonies – here is the video.

Weber’s reaction to the video is:

At the moment, I am VERY satisfied. I’m sure that some people are going to wish that there’d been more self-flagellation and public contrition, but she was reading a prepared statement that she wanted to be sure got every point covered. Under the circumstances, I think this is a positive admission of the mistakes that were made, an apology to John, a proper characterization of the vileness of the allegations thundered against him, and a very decent starting point to move forward. And speaking as someone who’s had to eat a little crow in public himself upon occasion, I know how hard it is — especially coming back after the fact — to apologize in a case like this.

(11) FAN OVERBOARD. Honor Harrington fandom has been experiencing some rough sailing. Longtime volunteer Tom Coonradt announced his retirement as the Senior Master Chief Petty Officer of the Royal Manticoran Navy due to a conflict with leadership.

…It is with a very heavy heart that I say this.

It is my opinion that John Roberts is the worst possible fit for a first space lord this, or any, Organization could have.

Since before John Roberts became first space lord he has treated me with disdain, condescension, and disrespect. And I know I am not the only one. Culminating with a public outburst at a respected member of this organization at Manticon.

John Roberts refuses to communicate with me in writing, he says because he communicates poorly in writing. My concern is that there is ZERO accountability there. There is no recording of a spoken conversation that can keep a first space lord honest. He has out rightly and in writing (ironically) refused to discuss anything with me at all in writing, even if it is a simple message of “I want to talk to you about this topic, when can I call you?” I had on the phone, only a few short weeks ago, given him several possible solutions to our communication issue. When I thought we had reached a compromise, the only thing he sent me, ironically enough, is the new policy on how to replace the SMCPON. One he refused to discuss further with me after I gave my impressions.

He has no ability to be flexible, and in fact will refuse to listen or even acknowledge any advice, idea or criticism that he doesn’t agree with….

The group’s website defines The First Space Lord as the Senior Executive Vice President of The Royal Manticoran Navy: The Official Honor Harrington Fan Association, Inc.

The full text of Coonradt’s statement can be found attached to a comment on this post.

(12) DEPT. OF HARD TO KEEP SFF AHEAD OF REALITY. At TechCrunch “‘Upgrade’ director Leigh Whannell talks low-budget worldbuilding”.

TechCrunch: It’s interesting that it came from your imagination, because in some ways it feels very prescient. We had our own robotics event a couple of weeks ago and one of the big moments onstage was someone in a wheelchair who was able to take a few steps thanks to an exoskeleton.

Whannell: So the exoskeleton that helps people with paralysis walk and move, this movie is the internalized version of that, where it goes one step further and there’s nothing exterior. It’s a chip.

It has been interesting to watch the world catch up to my script. Because when I wrote the first draft of this script, automated cars and smart kitchens were still science fiction. And in the ensuing years, they’ve become ubiquitous. I mean, my wife’s car parks itself and talks to her. And my daughter thinks it’s perfectly normal to have a voice talking to her in the kitchen, and she asks it to play songs and it does. So in a way I feel like I’m living in the world of the movie I wrote all those years ago.

(13) PARVUS IS OPEN. Colin Coyle of Parvus Press says they are open for novel and novella submissions until July 15. See details on the publisher’s website under Submissions.

Coyle also notes that their Kickstarter for If This Goes On edited by Cat Rambo has raised $6,074 of its $10,000 goal in the first four days.

(14) DEPARTMENT OF MYSTERIOUS HINTS. Here’s your first clue:

(15) HEARTS OF TABAT. Marion Deeds reviews Cat Rambo’s Hearts of Tabat at Fantasy Literature.

…On the surface, Hearts of Tabat might be a slightly satirical comedy-of-manners, but the Beasts are growing restless and rebellious, and something (or someone) is trying to siphon away the magic that protects the land. When, abruptly, Bella Kanto is accused of sorcery and exiled, it is clear something is very wrong.

Rambo’s world is beautifully described, complex and plausible. Good people are complicated, and aren’t always good. Sebastiano works daily with the Beasts, seeing their natures, yet spouts standard bigoted lines about how they can’t be accorded the same rights as humans. Adelina’s infatuation with Eloquence causes her to ignore her own better judgment. Eloquence himself is charming and seductive, but we see a different side of him at home with his sisters.

A large part of the Tabat society is religion. The Trade Gods and the Moon Temples, with their different belief systems, are depicted convincingly. The effects of poverty are not romanticized. Frankly, Obedience has it so bad at home that when she is abducted along with a magic student I can only think that’s going to be a step up for her….

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

Pixel Scroll 5/31/18 The Pixel That Parsed The Hornets Nest

(1) ANOTHER CAT AND SFF STORY TO LOVE. Huge news for Cat Valente:

Deadline has the story: “Universal Options ‘Space Opera’ For Marc Platt & Colin Trevorrow To Produce”.

Universal Pictures has optioned Catherynne M. Valente’s  science fiction novel Space Opera, which Marc Platt will produce for his Universal-based Marc Platt Productions with Adam Siegel, along with Colin Trevorrow producing.

(2) BOOK SALES STATS. Data Guy has posted the slides from the “2018 SFWA Nebula Conference Presentation” at Author Earnings.

(3) KNOW YOUR BEARDS. Camestros Felapton challenges you in the “Puzzle Corner: Help Timothy Spot the Author”.

Poor Timothy is still having problems with human faces. I don’t know what fraction of science-fiction authors have beards but I’d guess 30%? Sometimes feels like more!

Can you match the beard-style (numbered) to the author (lettered) so Tim can tell which is which?

(4) BREAKING IN. Congratulations, Buzz Dixon! He told Facebook readers —

I finally cracked Analog after 50 years of trying!

(Not that Buzz hasn’t enjoyed a highly successful writing career in the meantime.)

The Astounding/Analog Companion has posted “A Q&A with Buzz Dixon”:

Analog Editor: What is the story behind “While You Sleep, Computer Mice Earn Their Keep”?

Buzz Dixon: Often I’ll hear an idiom or phrase and think to myself, “What does that mean literally?” In this case, the phrase was “computer mouse,” and I asked myself how mice could actually interact with a computer. Immediately the old fairy tale of “The Cobbler and the Elves” popped into mind.

AE: How did this story germinate? Was there a spark of inspiration, or did it come to you slowly?

BD: If the Computer Mice represent the force of order, then the wild female rat represents the force of chaos. I remember reading Robert Chilson’s “Ecological Niche” in the December 1970 issue of Analog when I was in high school and was struck with his portrayal of wildlife finding a way to be both wild and alive even in the middle of an extremely complex technology. Once I had my opposing points of view, the actual writing went very quickly.

(5) CAT RAMBO. On Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog, “My Favorite Bit: Cat Rambo talks about HEARTS OF TABAT”.

One of my favorite pieces of the most recent fantasy novel, Hearts of Tabat, didn’t actually get into the final version, which was a set of chapter headers defining which Trade God each chapter belonged to. The Trade Gods of the city of Tabat embody various economic forces of one size or another, ranging from the large Anbo and Enba (Supply & Demand) to the more particular, like Zampri, who oversees Advertising, or Uhkephelmi, God of Small Mistakes.

(6) FORENSICS. Kristine Kathryn Rusch teases apart a major news story about embezzlement at a literary agency in “Business Musings: An Agent Nightmare Revealed”.

…To the greatest extent possible.

In other words, my friends, Donadio & Olson does not have the financial resources to make up for a theft of $3.4 million, let alone any more potential losses that the forensic accountant might turn up.

The complaint alleges that Webb stole money as far back as 2011. However, according to Law360, he worked for the company since 1999. Did he start this behavior then? Or after Candida Donadio died? (Which seems likely. Agencies go off the rails when their founders leave or die.)

It’s pretty easy to steal from writers’ estates. I worked with a number of them on some projects in 2015 and 2016, and with one exception, the agencies or the organizations in charge of the estates didn’t give a crap about resale, about payment, about anything. Most of them weren’t even familiar with the story I wanted to reprint, and only one of them had an author’s preferred version that they sent to me. (I asked.)

I probably could have reprinted those stories and never paid any of the estates. I probably would not have been caught in most cases. And that’s rather minor theft.

Now, imagine what’s going on with estates like [Mario] Puzo’s, which includes all of the monies still coming in from the movies, from licensing, from the books (which are still in print). These are multimillion dollar ventures, handled every year by Donadio & Olson, with no one overseeing the day to day running of the finances.

Oh, my. The money was simply there for the taking.

The thing is, Donadio & Olson is a “reputable” agency. The New York Post used the word “prestigious” in describing the agency. Donadio & Olson was, until last week, a gold-standard agency, one that most young writers might have aspired to have as representatives….

Then she shares some firsthand experiences.

Sadly, I am not surprised by any of this. As I have blogged about before, literary agencies are not regulated. Prestigious agencies embezzle. I’ve personally had one of the biggest boutique agencies in the world embezzle from me. (And I suspect they still are, although I can’t prove it. But there are licensed properties—tie-ins—that I wrote whose royalty statements I cannot get my hands on because no one at the licensor will cooperate with me. The books have been in print for 25-30 years and I have never seen a dime in royalties. Ever.) I’ve also had one of the biggest fraudsters in the industry steal from me. I speak from hard-earned life lessons here.

(7) AUREALIS AWARDS TAKING ENTRIES. The Aurealis Awards, “Australia’s premier awards for speculative fiction,” is taking entries until December 7.

The awards  are for works created by an Australian citizen or permanent resident, and published for the first time in 2018.

Full guidelines and a FAQ can be found on the Aurealis Awards website.

We strongly encourage publishers and authors to enter all works published in the first half of the year by August 2018, then subsequent publications as they are released; our judges appreciate having time to consider each entry carefully.

The same group is also running the Sara Douglass Book Series Award for series ending between 2015-2017, this year. Entries for this special award close on August 31, 2018. More information is available at the link.

Finalists of all award categories will be announced early in 2019 and winners announced at a ceremony to take place in Melbourne in the first half of the year. For more information contact the judging coordinator Tehani Croft at aajudges@gmail.com

(8) ASTRONAUT OBIT. Donald H. Peterson passed away May 27 reports the Washington Post: “Donald Peterson Sr., who spacewalked from the shuttle Challenger, dies at 84”.

Mr. Peterson’s avid consumption of science fiction in his childhood drove his interest in aviation and space.”

In 1983 he told a reporter:

‘Back when I was a kid, there was no space program,’ Peterson said in an interview. ‘In fact, I was old enough to know about airplanes before there were jet airplanes.

‘My earliest interest came from science fiction. I read a lot of things as a kid, but I read some science fiction and got interested. As I got older, I started reading real things

A trading card featuring Peterson:

(9) IN A SOCIAL MEDIA FAR, FAR AWAY. (Found with the help of Nicholas Whyte.)

(10) COMICS TO BE PRESERVED. Michael Cavna, the Washington Post’s “Comic Riffs” columnist, says that the Library of Congress has acquired most of Steven Geppi’s comics collection, including most of the contents of the Baltimore-based Geppi Entertainment Museum, which will close after this weekend: “Library of Congress acquires its largest donation of comic books ever”.

The impressive acquisition, which is set to be announced Wednesday, comes courtesy of Baltimore-based collector and entrepreneur Stephen A. Geppi, who is donating more than 3,000 items from his holdings, many spanning the eight-decade history of the American comic-book industry. His Mickey Mouse storyboards are from the Jazz Age animated short “Plane Crazy,” which was inspired by Charles Lindbergh. Other items include printing blocks from Richard Outcault’s fin-de-siecle comic-strip character the Yellow Kid, Beatles memorabilia and a No. 2 Brownie camera model F from Eastman Kodak, the library says.

The donation — which the library says it is valuing “in the millions” — was born out of months of conversations between Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, a champion of giving the public new ways to view the library’s scope, and Geppi, who opened Geppi’s Entertainment Museum in Baltimore in 2006.

(11) BUTLER AT HOME. From Pasadena Weekly — “Octavia Butler’s Pasadena connections informed her stellar science-fiction writing career”.

The Crown City played a major part in her development, both for its major role in the space race via Caltech, JPL and the Carnegie Observatories, and because of the fact it was racially integrated long before much of the nation. Her archives are collected at the Huntington Library in San Marino, having formed the basis of a popular exhibition in 2017 and remaining one of the hottest collections for researchers there.

“Pasadena was a major inspiration, and part of that has to do with JPL being in her backyard, right over the hill and being so close to the space race and growing up with that had to have piqued her interest,” says Theresa Russell, assistant curator of literary collections at the library. “I think Butler felt it was a very diverse place. She talks about her novels not just being filled with black people, but people of all colors. There were white, black, Asian students at Caltech, and it seemed natural to her that the future would be the world she was seeing, filled with diversity.”

Russell also notes that the Pasadena area or a version of it appears in some of Butler’s works. Her novel “Kindred” offers a particularly strong example, as it focused on a writer living in Altadena amid an early career as a writer, and the novel “Mind of My Mind” features a city called Forsyth that was modeled after Pasadena. Yet Russell notes that the dystopian novel “Parable of the Sower” has the most intriguing connections of all to the City of Roses.

(12) STORIES THAT ADMIT THEY ARE ABOUT POLITICS. The Kickstarter for Cat Rambo’s “IF THIS GOES ON – Political SF Anthology” has raised $3,736 of $10,000 at this writing, with 28 days to go.

Looking at the state of the world today, we are clearly at a nexus of inflection points. Global relations and power structures are changing more rapidly than they have since the cold war. The divide between the haves and have nots is broadening and we are at the start of a new gilded age of robber barons and crippling poverty. Racial, social, and class relations are stretched to a point of breaking. Global climate change threatens to remake our planet.

The choices we make today; the policies of our governments and the values that we, as people, embrace are going to shape our world for decades to come. Or break it.

IF THIS GOES ON asks a very straightforward question – what happens if things continue to be like this and what happens next?

We asked thirty writers to put their minds to it and show us what the future may hold a generation or more from today. To show us the promise of a better world if we embrace our better angels or the cost of our failures if we give in to the demons of divisiveness, if we allow politicians and pundits to redefine truth, and if we continue to ignore the warnings all around us.

Truth matters, stories matter.

The full Table of Contents, organized alphabetically by the author’s last name is:

  • Cyd Athens – Welcome to Gray
  • Steven Barnes – The Dayveil Gambit
  • Rachel Chimits – Dead Wings
  • Paul Crenshaw – Bulletproof Tattoos
  • Beth Dawkins – Tasting Bleach and Decay in the City of Dust
  • Andy Duncan – Mr. Percy’s Shortcut
  • Chris Kluwe – The Machine
  • Kitty-Lydia Dye – Three Data Units
  • Scott Edelman – The Stranded Time Traveler Embraces the Inevitable
  • Judy Helfrich – A Pocketful of Dolphins
  • Langley Hyde – Call and Answer
  • Gregory Jeffers – All the Good Dogs Have Been Eaten
  • Jamie Lackey – Fine
  • Jack Lothian – Good Pupils
  • Nick Mamatas – Hurrah! Another Year, Surely This One Will Be Better Than The Last; The Inexorable March of Progress Will Lead Us All to Happiness
  • Lynette Mejía – A Gardener’s Guide to the Apocalypse
  • Aimee Ogden – Twelve Histories Scrawled in the Sky
  • Sarah Pinsker – That Our Flag Was Still There
  • Conor Powers-Smith – The Sinking Tide
  • Zandra Renwick – Making Happy
  • Kathy Schilbach – Counting the Days
  • Nisi Shawl – King Harvest Will Surely Come
  • Priya Sridhar – Mustard Seeds and the Elephants Foot
  • Marie L Vibbert – Free Wi-Fi
  • Calie Voorhis – The Editor’s Eyes
  • Tiffany E. Wilson – One Shot
  • James Wood – Discobolos
  • Sylvia Spruck Wrigley – Choose Your Own Adventure
  • E. Lily Yu – Green Glass: A Love Story
  • Hal Y. Zhang – But for Grace

Cover art by Bernard Lee. Design by Michael Altmann.

(13) BUY PROP FOR NEVER-MADE TREK MOVIE. Motherboard says this model for the starship Enterprise is going on the auction block with a starting bid of $40,000.

A rare, redesigned version of the starship Enterprise NCC-1701 will go on auction in L.A. (and online) Thursday, with bidding starting at $40,000. The model was designed by Ralph McQuarrie and Ken Adam in 1976 for the ill-fated film Star Trek: Planet of the Titans, which was the first plan for a motion picture after the original series was cancelled. But after months of writing and rewriting the script, it was ultimately shelved, and the redesigned Enterprise was shelved with it. Shortly after, Paramount began working with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry on what would eventually become Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

The model would have changed the iconic look of NCC-1701. The model did appear briefly (though not as the Enterprise) in Star Trek: The Next Generation’s two-part episode “The Best of Both Worlds.” It was in the Starfleet armada which was destroyed by the Borg in the Battle of Wolf 359.

(14) HOT TIP: PLASTICS. NASA now has a combination plastic recycler and 3-D printer to test on the International Space Station. The Tethers Unlimited, Inc. device is about the size of a mini-fridge and was built as part of the Small Business Innovation Research program. It was certification tested at the Tethers Unlimited lab in Bothell WA and at Huntsville AL’s Marshall Space Flight Center. The plan is to deliver it to the ISS on a SpaceX Dragon supply run later this year.

Quoting the GeekWire article: “Tethers Unlimited delivers 3-D printer and recycler combo to NASA for space station”.

The Refabricator uses a process called “Positrusion” for recycling plastic parts into fresh filament for 3-D printing.

“Traditional plastics recycling and 3-D printer filament manufacturing techniques involve grinding and extrusion steps that could pose safety concerns on the ISS and often require a lot of adjustment to keep them running reliably,” [Tethers Unlimited CEO Rob] Hoyt explained.

“To create a recycling system that is safe and doesn’t demand a lot of astronaut time, we developed a new method for recycling plastic parts into 3-D printer filament, and integrated it together with a 3-D printer to create a highly automated recycling-and-manufacturing system,” he said.

(15) WATER WATER EVERYWHERE. BBC reports “Two different forms of water isolated for first time”. Not polywater (a hoax) let alone ice-nine (though both have been topics of sf stories), but physics-level differences leading to different chemical behavior.

Scientists have isolated the two different forms of water molecule for the first time.

Water molecules were known to exist as two distinct “isomers”, or types, based on their slightly different properties at the atomic level.

By separating out the two isomers, researchers were able to show that they behave differently in the way that they undergo chemical reactions.

The work appears in Nature Communications.

(16) EARLY INFLUENCES. At Postscripts to Darkness “PSTD Author Interview: Mike Allen”.

Whether they are historical or contemporary, who are some of the writers whose work has been most influential on, or important to, your own, and what have you taken from their writing?

I think it all boils down to Poe and Tolkien, the first is probably kind of obvious, the second I imagine less so for any readers out there that might know me only through my creative work.

Those two writers set me on the path. A well-meaning third grade teacher read “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Raven” to our class for Halloween, and while the other kids just giggled it away I was traumatized, with night terrors that lasted for years. Yet instead of staying away from all things horror, I became consumed with morbid curiosity, constantly coming back to this type of story-telling that held so much power over me, leading me to devour stuff by H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, Peter Straub and Clive Barker.

With Barker, my favorite writer when I was in my teens, I experienced a paradigm change. I became a gleeful participant in the land of imaginary horrors, rather than a frightened victim. I ended up consuming so much horror that I essentially inoculated myself from the night terrors.

I would bet the idea that I’m best known for horror stories would be a big shock to 10-year-old me. Around 4thgrade or so my dad made me read The Lord of the Rings, because he thought it was the greatest novel ever written and because he was sure I would like it. On that second part, absolutely, he was right. Maybe the first one, too? But anyway, I developed this hunger for all things Tolkien. We lived at the time in Wise, Virginia, a coal town high in the Appalachians. There was no bookstore. There were a couple of other kids who liked fantasy, but didn’t share my obsessive need for it, or at least not my precise interests — as I recall, one buddy was a huge Larry Niven fan.

(17) FELINES AND FANTASY. Can you believe it? Long before the idea was codified by File 770, authors independently recognized the association of cats and SFF. For example, see these Martha Wells LiveJournal posts.

(18) SFWA EMERGENCY FUND. Hey, I didn’t know that.

(19) SILVERBERG ADAPTED AS OPERA. This is from an interview with composer Emily Howard by Richard Fairman in the May 26 Financial Times (behind a paywall).

Howard, 39, tells how she was working with her librettist, Selena Dmitrijevic, on a story about a person being shunned by society.  A draft scenario, in which that character was arrested and sentenced to being ‘invisible,’ was already well advanced when they discovered it came from a short story that Dmitrijevic had on her shelf at home, Robert Silverberg’s ”To See The Invisible Man.’

There is a strong flavour of Kafka, or perhaps Margaret Atwood.  ‘In our opera you never know exactly what the Invisible’s crime was,’ says Howard.  ‘We assume we are dealing with some authoritarian regime, where society is forced to operate within very narrow parameters of human behaviour.  It is a wonderfully constructed story, because it opens with the Invisible’s crime of coldness, and then(when the Invisible is apprehended for trying to help another Invisible in distress) closes with the crime of warmth.’

Note that Silverberg’s ‘Invisible Man’ has become the gender-neural ‘Invisible.’  It is one of Howard’s most eye-catching ideas that the role of this person is to be sung by two singers:  a soporano and a bass.  When the Invisible is alone, they will sing it together, but out in society, where he/she is unable to be themselves, only one voice will be heard.

To See The Invisible is going to be performed at the Aldeburgh Festival  from June 8-11.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/30/18 Pixels, Scrolls…I’m The Guy With The Book

(1) TAKEDOWN. The New York Post tells how “Accountant embezzled $3.4M from famed literary agency”.

A Manhattan accountant cooked the books at a prestigious literary agency that represents top writers, including “Fight Club” author Chuck Palahniuk, bilking its clients of millions and leaving the company on the brink of bankruptcy, according to legal papers.

Darin Webb, 47, faces 20 years in jail on wire-fraud charges for embezzling $3.4 million from storied Manhattan agency Donadio & Olson, according to a recently unsealed federal criminal complaint.

Although the agency, which also represents the estates of “Godfather” writer Mario Puzo and radio legend Studs Terkel, was not named in court papers, a lawyer representing the firm confirmed to The Post that Donadio & Olson was the subject of the alleged theft.

…The stolen money — allegedly lifted between January 2011 and March of this year — was earmarked for author royalties and advances, the complaint says.

But the theft could be exponentially more, a source told The Post, noting that a forensic accountant is combing through Donadio & Olson’s books all the way back to 2001, Webb’s first year at the agency.

He allegedly fessed up to the theft in March in a videotaped interview with company executives and their attorneys at the agency’s Chelsea office, saying he filed monthly financial reports that “contained false and fraudulent representations in order to accomplish the theft and evade detection,” the complaint states.

Webb was arrested May 15 by the FBI and is out on $200,000 bail.

The Guardian reports on a celebrity victim: “Chuck Palahniuk ‘close to broke’ as agent’s accountant faces fraud charges”.

Palahniuk – one of many starry authors represented by the firm, including the estates of Mario Puzo and Studs Terkel – said his income had dwindled for several years. He had blamed multiple factors, including piracy and problems at his publisher, for the decline in earnings.

More recently, Palahniuk said, “the trickle of my income stopped” and payments for titles including Fight Club 2 “never seemed to arrive”. He wondered if the money had been stolen, but told himself he “had to be crazy” – until the news broke.

“All the royalties and advance monies and film-option payments that had accumulated in my author’s account in New York, or had been delayed somewhere in the banking pipeline, [were] gone. Poof. I can’t even guess how much income. Someone confessed on video he’d been stealing. I wasn’t crazy,” wrote Palahniuk in a statement on his website.

The novelist said that “this chain of events leaves me close to broke”, but that he had found himself to be “rich … with friends and readers who’ve rushed to my rescue”.

“On the minus side, the legal process will be long and offers an iffy reward. On the plus side, I’m not crazy. Nor am I alone,” added the author.

(2) WISCON. Sophygurl, a Tumblr blogger, was present at a controversial WisCon panel and has written an account of what she heard: “WisCon 42 panel The Desire for Killable Bodies in SFF”. The post begins –

This is going to serve as my panel write-up for this panel, but it also a copy of what I wrote as a report to the Safety team about the panel. I am posting this on DreamWidth and Tumblr and will be linking to Twitter and Facebook. Please feel free to link elsewhere. This should all be public knowledge, imo.

For anyone who doesn’t know – this panel included a panelist who ended up talking about the importance of sympathizing with Nazis. This is obviously not the kind of thing you expect to find at an intersectional feminist convention. It was upsetting and disturbing. Most of the panel was actually very interesting and even funny, and I appreciated what the other two panelists had to say. I even appreciated *some* of what the panelist in question had to say. All of this was overshadowed by the awful things she said, however.

(3) BRANDON SANDERSON WARNS FANX. Utah author Brandon Sanderson has raised his voice against “Harassment at FanX”. (For background, see “FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention Sharply Criticized for Handling of Anti-harassment Complaint”.)

I don’t normally discuss charged issues on my social media, but I do find harassment at science fiction conventions a topic that is very important to discuss. It is also very relevant to my fans, as conventions are often how they interact with me.

Recently, Salt Lake City’s biggest media convention (FanX, formerly called Salt Lake Comic Con) has made some troubling missteps. First, it grossly mishandled harassment claims—then it doubled down on its mistakes, bungling interactions with voices that have called for reform.

Some authors I respect deeply have composed an open letter to FanX, calling for them to do better—and I have co-signed it. Many of these authors have spoken better about this specific issue than I can, and I encourage you all to read what they have said. I believe that conventions like these (alongside the smaller literary conventions that were so instrumental in my road to publication) are important parts of our community—and it is essential that they provide a place where victims are not silenced and harassment is not tolerated.

For now, I am still scheduled to appear at FanX this fall. My team and I have been evaluating whether or not this is a position we can still take—and it will greatly depend on how FanX responds to this letter in the next few weeks. I will keep you informed of our decision—and if I do decide to bow out of FanX, I will try to schedule some replacement signings instead.

(4) OPEN LETTER. The “Open Letter to FanX” that Sanderson refers to calls on the convention to do the following thigs:

One: In a public statement, and without disclosing her name, apologize to the victim who filed the sexual harassment report for disclosing their private report to the media without their knowledge or consent. Admit that the victim’s trust was violated, and promise future attendees who may report incidents that they will never undergo the same scrutiny or mishandling. Assure everyone that all reports will be heard, evaluated, and confidential. Keep the victims’ names confidential at all times.

Two: Hire a professional with experience writing, implementing, and upholding sexual harassment policies. Clarify the consequences for breaking the policy and reiterate that those consequences will be upheld. Removal and banishment from the conference should be among those ramifications.

Three: Address harassment complaints quickly. The past complaint was filed in October, and the complaint was not investigated until January. This shows a lack of concern and a reluctance to address the situation, as well as disregard for the seriousness of the issue.

Four: Recognize that trust is earned not through words, policies, and statements, but by a proven track record of implementation and action over time.

It’s signed by Robison Wells, Shannon Hale, Bree Despain, Emily R. King, Ally Condie, and Dean Hale, and co-signed by Brandon Sanderson, Maureen Johnson, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, Annette Lyon, Mette Harrison, J. R. Johansson, Jessica Day George, Courtney Alameda, Lindsey Leavitt, and Sarah M. Eden.

(5) BOMB DISPOSAL. The Washington Post’s Steven Zeitchik, in “How Disney could get Star Wars back on track”, says the relative failure of Solo at the box office shows that Disney will have to take steps to make Star Wars films more appealing, including spacing them out more, making them edgier, and not releasing Star Wars films in May or June.

Fewer movies. Five months is not a long time for Star Wars to be away. Certainly it’s not the year that stretched between the previous three movies, or the 10 years between the last of the George Lucas movies and “The Force Awakens” in 2015. With Marvel that seems to help — releases in quick succession enhance one another. But with Star Wars, seen less as the rapid-fire sequel, novelty and absence may be the key to the game. Disney could do better by going back to the 12-month spacing — or even longer.

Why it’s tricky: This sounds good to fans. The problem is it doesn’t sound good to Wall Street or Disney financial executives. Star Wars movies are such juggernauts that Disney wants to cash in whenever it can. Waiting that long doesn’t help in that bid. Disney and Lucasfilm are encountering a major paradox here. Modern Hollywood says when you have successes you should replicate them early and often. But making Star Wars movies early and often may make them less successful.

(6) SOLO ACT. Guess who’s writing the tie-in? “’Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Novelization Coming In September 4th, Written By Mur Lafferty”.

The Solo novelization is continuing the trend that The Last Jedi novelization started of being released several months after the film.  Previously the novelizations have been released closer to the films theatrical releases.  The original and prequel novelizations were released before the films, while The Force Awakens and Rogue One adaptations were released as e-books the same day as the film and as hardcovers shortly thereafter.

(7) SFWA STUFF. Security protocols may have been breached….

(8) BIG BOX STORE. Adweek reports “Amazon Is Driving Around a Jurassic-Sized Box, and You Can Ask Alexa What’s Inside”. (Registration required to read full article.)

The last time we noticed Amazon driving around a giant box, the mysterious delivery turned out to be a Nissan Versa. But this time, perhaps it’s something a bit more … carnivorous?

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Chip Hitchcock thinks those penguin prognosticators might be right about what’s coming: Arctic Circle Cartoons.
  • Not sure whether I should thank Chip for also making sure I didn’t miss a horrible pop-culture pun at Bliss.

(10) THE DIRECTOR VANISHES. Comics shop owner Cliff Biggers showed this photo to his Facebook friends.

UPS employees like Alfred Hitchcock so much that they opened our package, tore open the action figure packaging, stole the figure, and then re-taped the box and sent it to us.

(11) LISTEN UP. The Parsec Awards Steering Committee is accepting nominations for the 2018 Parsec Awards through June 15 – submit nominations here.

Any material released between May 1, 2017 and April 30, 2018 is eligible for the 2018 awards. Material released needs to be free for download and released via a mechanism that allows for subscriptions. Thus, YouTube, Facebook, etc.. series are eligible.

If you are a podcaster or author, please feel free to nominate your own podcast or story. It is one way we know that your contact information filled is correct.

(12) KEEPING SCORE AT HOME. Seanan McGuire, in the area for ConCarolinas this weekend, took time to rate Ursula Vernon’s cats. Start the thread here —

(13) THE LAW & ANN LECKIE. A little known fact (in some quarters).

(14) SPEAKING OF WHOM. Joe Sherry launches his Nerds of a Feather post series with “Reading the Hugos: Novel”:

Provenance: This is a novel which took a while to settle out from under the weight of unfair expectations that I placed on it. Once it did, I was able to engage more fully with Leckie’s story of truth, lies, and cultural identity. Provenance is a strong novel in its own right, and in the end, I appreciated Leckie’s light touch in how she connected it to the larger Ancillary universe.

It’s just that when we look back on Leckie’s career in twenty years, I suspect Provenance will be viewed as minor Leckie. It’s good, please don’t take this the wrong way, but the Ancillary trilogy was a major accomplishment and Provenance is “just” a very good book. I appreciated how Provenance pushed me to think about historical documents and relics, how their perception of importance could override the truth they should represent. There’s great stuff to chew on here

(15) SOLO REVIEW. And Nerds of a Feather contributor Dean E. S. Richard sounds relieved as much as anything in “Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story”.

The good news: it doesn’t suck! I mean, there’s some forgettable stuff, and Han Solo isn’t, like, Han Solo, but if you’re willing to watch it for the sake of itself and not expect Harrison Ford, it’s fine. It tries a little too hard for quips, and his against-odds/I-don’t-actually-have-a-plan moments come across a little forced, but, again, we’re measuring this against complete disaster, so I’ll take it.

(16) SIPS OF CEASELESS. Charles Payseur comments in “Quick Sips – Beneath Ceaseless Skies #252”

Competition can bring out the worst in people, but as this issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies proves, it can also bring out the best. Both stories this issue are about races, and magical ones at that, featuring women who find themselves squaring off against their lovers (former or current) for the chance to win a great prize. In both stories, though, the actual prize might not matter as much as the competition itself, as the thrill of the race. Because when these characters are faced with what they’d do if they won, the results are…interesting. It’s a wonderfully fun pair of stories, expertly paired, and I’ll stop yammering on in introduction and just get to the reviews!

(17) THE ORIGINS DEBACLE GOES ANOTHER ROUND. According to Larry Correia, who was dropped as a GoH of Origins Game Fair two weeks ago, “Origins sent out yet ANOTHER message about me, and my response” [Internet Archive link].

At Monster Hunter Nation he cites this as the text of Origins’ Executive Director John Ward’s message to educate vendors about the social media uproar following the “disinvitation.”

Good afternoon Exhibitors,

We are a few weeks away from Origins and the anticipation is building!

Things are looking great for this year’s show. The Exhibit Hall is officially sold out and badges are currently trending 15% above pre-registration numbers from 2017.

We have taken a brief hiatus from social media but are fully prepared to continue promoting the show and its exhibitors starting this week. Before we begin communicating through social, there are a few things we wanted to bring to your attention.

Some individuals have rallied online with plans to harass companies exhibiting at the show—this is in response to the disinviting of Larry Correia as a guest at Origins.

To provide you with some background: our original decision to invite Larry as a guest at Origins was simple—he’s a successful author, has been a guest at other conventions in previous years, and any one that knows him knows that he is big into gaming.

Unfortunately, we were not aware of Mr. Correia’s online presence and following. Upon further research we found an abundance of confrontational discourse and polarizing behavior online.

We have nothing against Larry as a person or as a professional, but we have seen the drama that follows him, and we do not want that at Origins.

As an exhibitor at Origins, we wanted you to be aware of the general MO of the group we are explaining:

Company pages are inundated with comments and negative rankings
Employers and publishers are contacted
Messages with keywords regarding to the show are targeted

Time has passed, and things have calmed down, but we should all still be aware of these potential behaviors. If you receive any threats or libel regarding you or your company, please send them to John Ward.

Thank you for your support. Good luck with the final preparations for the show!

Correia explains that he actually believes vendors should be left alone. Except for the ones that deserve what’s happening to them, that is.

My only comments during this entire debacle concerning the vendors was that they should be left alone. The vendors are just small businessmen trying to have a good sales weekend, and they have nothing to do with the incompetence of John Ward.  I’ve specifically gone out of my way to say that to my fans on multiple occasions.

The only vendors I’ve seen animosity directed at were the ones who specifically went out of their way to virtue signal on Twitter about how booting me for having the wrong opinions was So Brave. And that’s a short and very specific list who did that usual social media thing where they decided to throw punches, and then cry about getting punched back afterwards.

But hey, toss that out there. The important thing is that everyone knows Origins is the real victim here.

(18) GAME LOSES STEAM. Who thought this was a good idea? “School shooting game Active Shooter pulled by Steam”.

A game pitched as a “school shooting simulation” has been ditched from Steam’s online store ahead of release.

The title had been criticised by parents of real-life school shooting victims, and an online petition opposing its launch had attracted more than 180,000 signatures.

Steam’s owner, Valve, said it had dropped the game because its developer had a history of bad behaviour.

But the individual named has denied involvement.

Active Shooter came to prominence after the BBC revealed that an anti-gun violence charity had described it as “appalling” last week.

CNN subsequently reported that the families of two students killed in February’s high school attack in Parkland, Florida had described the game as being “despicable” and “horrific”.

(19) LE GUIN FILM. I’ve linked to the trailer before, but here’s a new Bustle post about the project: “This Ursula K. Le Guin Documentary Reveals How Much The Author Struggled To Write Women In Sci-Fi”.

Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, a new documentary by Arwen Curry about the life and legacy of the late author, explores Le Guin’s long career as a pioneer in speculative fiction, including the role of feminism in her work and the struggles she faced teaching herself how to write women into her novels. In the film, which Curry worked on with the author for 10 years, Le Guin admits that “from my own cultural upbringing, I couldn’t go down deep and come up with a woman wizard.” According to the author, she had been “a woman pretending to think like a man,” a behavior she had to unlearn before she could create some of her best work.

As Le Guin tells Curry in the film:

“I had to rethink my entire approach to writing fiction … it was important to think about privilege and power and domination, in terms of gender, which was something science fiction and fantasy had not done. All I changed is the point of view. All of a sudden we are seeing Earthsea … from the point of view of the powerless.”

 

(20) BIG HERO 6 THE SERIES. Coming to a Disney Channel near you. (Which means not very close to me, but maybe to you.)

Hiro, Baymax and the Big Hero 6 team are back and ready to save San Fransokyo! Big Hero 6 The Series premieres Saturday, June 9 at 9A on Disney Channel. The adventure continues for 14-year-old tech genius Hiro and his compassionate, cutting-edge robot Baymax. If dealing with the academic pressure of being the new kid at the prestigious San Fransokyo Institute of Technology weren’t enough, it’s off campus where things really get tricky. Hiro and Baymax, along with their friends Wasabi, Honey Lemon, Go Go and Fred, unite to form the legendary superhero team Big Hero 6, protecting their city from a colorful array of scientifically-enhanced villains intent on creating chaos and mayhem!

 

(21) EXPANSE. Already linked in comments, but let the Scroll Record reflect: “It’s official: Amazon has saved The Expanse”. The Verge story says —

It’s official: The Expanse has been saved. After the Syfy Channel canceled The Expanse earlier this month, Alcon Entertainment has confirmed that Amazon will pick up the show for a fourth season, after after outcry from the show’s fans.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/26/18 I’ve Got A Troll And He Hasn’t Got A Scroll

(1) NEBULA WEEKEND WITH THE QUEEN. Read “The Merqueen’s Report: Nebula Awards Weekend, 2018” by Cat Rambo.

…At five, the always cool Monica Valentinelli came to my hotel room and helped me begin the transformation into Mer queen. I had tweeted about the dress months before, at which point my friend Kris Dikeman said it needed a seashell tiara, Nick Hyle then volunteered a trident, and by the time of the Nebulas I was a little worried it would turn out to be a costume instead of an outfit and instead it was GLORIOUS and I felt like the belle of the underwater ball….

…Sunday morning was time for my favorite part and another one I will take full credit for implementing, unlike most of the other stuff: the volunteer breakfast. We had close to fifty people show up this time, which was the third so far, and people seemed to happy to get their fancy certificates (suitable for framing!) and get a chance to talk with each other. I told the joke I stole from Joe Haldeman about SFWA, like soylent green, being made of people once again and a good time was had by all….

(2) HEAR ABOUT SFF ARCHITECTURE. Henry Lien will be one of the participants in “Imagined Cities: Innovative Use of Architecture in Film and Literature” in LA on June 2.

Description

The Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles will host a conversation between renowned architect Jimenez Lai and children’s fantasy author Henry Lien entitled Imagined Cities: Innovative Uses of Architecture in Film and Literature at its gallery in Westwood on Saturday, June 2, 2018 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The conversation is in connection with the Taiwan Academy’s current exhibition Rooftops & Backyards: Expanding Taipei & L.A., which explores the construction of “architecture on top of architecture”, and multi-purpose use of properties as ways that cities deal with the issue of limited space in densely populated urban areas. The Imagined Cities event explores such themes in fictional depictions of cities.

“From Blade Runner to Howl’s Moving Castle, film and literature have historically embraced innovative uses of architecture,” says Henry Lien, the author of Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate and Sword. “Science fiction and fantasy are particularly effective in expanding notions of beauty in buildings and cities, which becomes relevant as cities experiment with new ways to solve population density issues.”

Jimenez Lai, the founding partner of Los Angeles-based studio Bureau Spectacular and the curator of Rooftops & Backyards: Expanding Taipei & L.A., hopes to explore the universal issue of limited space in densely populated urban areas through the dialogue and the exhibition.

According to Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles, the exhibition demonstrates an interesting comparison between Taipei and Los Angeles, discussing topics surrounding art, architecture, urbanism, and the way of life between the cultures of Taiwan and the United States

Rooftops & Backyards: Expanding Taipei & L.A runs through July 7, 2018, and is free and open to the public, as is Imagined Cities: Innovative Uses of Architecture in Film and Literature. To attend Imagined Cities, please RSVP through https://www.eventbrite.com/e/imagined-cities-innovative-use-of-architecture-in-film-and-literature-tickets-46236212757

(3) DOZOIS HOSPITALIZED. Christopher Casper posted on Facebook that Gardner Dozois is in hospital:

Friends of Gardner – He is currently in Pennsylvania hospital under medical sedation and intubated. While in the hospital for a chronic condition he had a serious and rapid deterioration causing some major systems to fail. He has an amazing team of doctors and the doctors are cautiously optimistic that his condition can be reversed!

I will do my best to keep everyone informed.

I am comforted and Gardner would be humbled by the hundreds of IM I received in the last 24 hrs expressing concern and love for my father. Due to the mere quantity, please forgive me if I am unable to respond personally to them all. Gardner is blessed to be so loved by so many.

Please continue to send good vibes, well wishes, and prayers his way. It is appreciated and thank you.

(4) THEY’LL BE MISSED. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have moved from the country town of Winslow, Maine to the city of Waterville, Maine, and that’s affected their summer travel plans. They tell how in the latest “Liaden Universe® Infodump No. 120”.

LEE AND MILLER WILL NOT ATTEND WORLDCON 76

We had intended to attend WorldCon; we had budgeted time and money; arranged schedules, and then — in late February, we looked at a house in town (we have long been looking to move into town, closer to services and conveniences), fell in love with the place, made an offer, and — the long and short of it is that, all the money and time we had budgeted for attending WorldCon instead went to moving into the new house.  We’re very sorry that we won’t be at the con with our friends and readers, old and new.  But we’re very happy with our new situation.

On the topic of conventions — this is the first time since 1997, that we haven’t had a convention, or three, on the schedule.  That feels. . .strange, indeed.

Everyone who is going to WorldCon — have fun!

(5) ICE STATION EUROPA. Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie dropped the 2010: Odyssey Two tagline “All these worlds are yours – Except Europa” when sending along this link to Nature’s article “Evidence of a plume on Europa from Galileo magnetic and plasma wave signatures” [PDF file].

The icy surface of Jupiter’s moon, Europa, is thought to lie on top of a global ocean1–4. Signatures in some Hubble Space Telescope images have been associated with putative water plumes rising above Europa’s surface5,6, providing support for the ocean theory. However, all telescopic detections reported were made at the limit of sensitivity of the data5–7, thereby calling for a search for plume signatures in in-situ measurements. Here, we report in-situ evidence of a plume on Europa from the magnetic field and plasma wave observations acquired on Galileo’s closest encounter with the moon….

(6) AT THE CANYONS OF MADNESS? BBC says “Giant canyons discovered in Antarctica”.

Scientists have discovered three vast canyons in one of the last places to be explored on Earth – under the ice at the South Pole.

The deep troughs run for hundreds of kilometres, cutting through tall mountains – none of which are visible at the snowy surface of the continent.

Dr Kate Winter from Northumbria University, UK, and colleagues found the hidden features with radar.

Her team says the canyons play a key role in controlling the flow of ice.

And if Antarctica thins in a warming climate, as scientists suspect it will, then these channels could accelerate mass towards the ocean, further raising sea-levels.

(7) THEY DUCKED. Here’s “How ancestors of living birds survived asteroid strike”

The ancestors of modern birds may have survived the asteroid strike that wiped out the rest of their kin by living on the forest floor.

The new theory, based on studying fossilised plants and ornithological data, helps explain how birds came to dominate the planet.

The asteroid impact 66 million years ago laid waste to the world’s forests.

Ground-dwelling bird ancestors managed to survive, eventually taking to the trees when the flora recovered.

“It seems clear that being a relatively small-bodied bird capable of surviving in a tree-less world would have conferred a major survival advantage in the aftermath of the asteroid strike,” said Dr Daniel Field of the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath.

(8) BEAN OBIT. Moon explorer and Skylab astronaut Alan Bean died May 26. NASA has posted a “Family Release Regarding the Passing of Apollo, Skylab Astronaut Alan Bean”.

Apollo and Skylab astronaut Alan Bean, the fourth human to walk on the moon and an accomplished artist, has died.

Bean, 86, died on Saturday, May 26, at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. His death followed his suddenly falling ill while on travel in Fort Wayne, Indiana two weeks before.

“Alan was the strongest and kindest man I ever knew. He was the love of my life and I miss him dearly,” said Leslie Bean, Alan Bean’s wife of 40 years. “A native Texan, Alan died peacefully in Houston surrounded by those who loved him.”

A test pilot in the U.S. Navy, Bean was one of 14 trainees selected by NASA for its third group of astronauts in October 1963. He flew twice into space, first as the lunar module pilot on Apollo 12, the second moon landing mission, in November 1969, and then as commander of the second crewed flight to the United States’ first space station, Skylab, in July 1973….

On Nov. 19, 1969, Bean, together with Apollo 12 commander Charles “Pete” Conrad, landed on the Ocean of Storms and became the fourth human to walk on the moon. During two moonwalks Bean helped deploy several surface experiments and installed the first nuclear-powered generator station on the moon to provide the power source. He and Conrad inspected a robotic Surveyor spacecraft and collected 75 pounds (34 kilograms) of rocks and lunar soil for study back on Earth.

(9) TODAY’S DAY

Of all of the monsters known to man, which one could possibly be considered more iconic than Count Dracula? The quintessential vampire, Count Dracula has inspired tens of films and stories the world over, not to mention the virtual immortality of the character during as a beloved Halloween character. For all of these reasons, it’s undeniable that this icon of horror more than deserves his own little holiday so the world can show its appreciation for his contributions to the worlds of cinema and literature over the centuries. So put on your fangs, and let’s sink out teeth right into this, shall we?

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • May 26, 1961The Twilight Zone aired “Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?” Jack Elam utters the words, “It’s a real Ray Bradbury.”

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born May 26, 1912 — Jay Silverheels (“Tonto” on The Lone Ranger TV series)
  • Born May 26, 1913 – Actor Peter Cushing
  • Born May 26, 1951  — Sally Ride, astronaut. First American woman in space

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Chip Hitchcock discovered the game of Monopoly roused surprisingly strong feelings in these Something Positive characters.

(13) SARTORIAL SPLENDOR. Indeed, it is a most absolute and excellent hat.

(14) HOLLYWOOD LAWYERS FIND WORK. Sesame Street production company Sesame Workshop (formerly known as Children’s Television Workshop) has sued distributor STX over Melissa McCarthy’s new movie The Happytime Murders.

Quoting The Hollywood Reporter: “’Sesame Street’ Sues STX Over New Melissa McCarthy Puppet Movie”

The makers of Sesame Street are suing the promoter of a new Melissa McCarthy movie, saying it’s abusing the famed puppets’ sterling reputation to advertise the film.

A judge Friday scheduled a hearing next week to consider a request for immediate relief by Sesame Workshop, which sued Thursday in federal court for unspecified damages.
The film, The Happytime Murders, is scheduled for release Aug. 17. McCarthy plays a human detective who teams with a puppet partner to investigate grisly puppet murders.
The lawsuit said the Sesame Street brand will be harmed by a just-released movie trailer featuring “explicit, profane, drug-using, misogynistic, violent, copulating and even ejaculating puppets” along with the tagline “NO SESAME. ALL STREET.”

STX Productions LLC says in a statement it is confident in its legal position.

And Vanity Fair’s article “Sesame Street Sues Over Melissa McCarthy’s R-Rated Puppet Murder Movie” notes —

Apparently, the puppet-based entertainment industry is more divided than we knew. The people behind Sesame Street may not like it, but The Happytime Murders has the imprimatur of Muppet royalty: the director is none other than Jim Henson’s son, Brian Henson, who is also the chairman of the Jim Henson Company, and will feature a number of puppeteers from various Muppet movies.

Variety summarized Sesame Street’s complaint as follows:

But “Sesame Street” creators are incensed at the reference, arguing in the lawsuit that it will confuse audiences and harms the “Sesame Street” brand. The marketing campaign “seeks to capitalize on the reputation and goodwill of ‘Sesame Street,’” the suit says. “While the trailer at issue is almost indescribably crude, ‘Sesame’ is not trying to enjoin defendants’ promotion or distribution of their movie. It is only defendants’ deliberate choice to invoke and commercially misappropriate ‘Sesame’s’ name and goodwill in marketing the movie — and thereby cause consumers to conclude that ‘Sesame’ is somehow associated with the movie — that has infringed on and tarnished the ‘Sesame Street’ mark and goodwill.”

(15) IS REY BELIEVABLE? YouTuber MisAnthro Pony is skeptical about Star Wars’ Rey:

She knows how to swim even though she spent her entire life on a desert planet, she’s as powerful as Kilo Ren despite receiving no training from Luke, she’s as skilled of a swordsman as Obi Wan, and now she can gun the Millennium Falcon like a pro in a matter of minutes.  She apparently seems to know everything about stuff she should know nothing about.  OK, Rey doing things she shouldn’t have been able to do in The Force Awakens was stupid too.  But this is reaching it.  This is really reaching it.

Carl Slaughter defends the presentation of the character:

Oh I don’t know.  Luke blocks multiple gadget beams blindfolded with a light saber the first time he wields it.  After only a few hours of training in the Force, he pinholes the shot that takes out the Death Star.  After only a couple of months of training with Yoda, even Darth Vader is impressed.  Never mind that even the best Jedi are trained all their life from toddlership by a team of instructors in an academy.

 

(16) ON HIS GAME. And Chuck Tingle is skeptical about some gameplaying skeptics….

(17) SPOILERS AHEAD. If you’ve seen Deadpool 2, you may be ready for ScreenRant’s spoiler-filled “Deadpool 2 Pitch Meeting.”

(18) MULTIPLE DUNII. Consequences of Sound reports “Denis Villeneuve confirms his Dune adaptation will be split between two films”.

In what might prove beneficial, given the scope of Dune as a story, Villeneuve recently confirmed that he plans to split the adaptation into two films, still likely to be substantial in length each. While speaking to the Quebec publication La Presse, he mentioned the news while touching on the process of turning Herbert’s 896-page epic into a cohesive feature (or set of them): “Eric Roth wrote the first draft and I worked on my side afterwards… I have not had such fun on the creative side since Incendies! My wish would have been to make both films at the same time, but it will be too expensive. We will do them one at a time.”

(19) DESPITE POPULAR DEMAND. Borys Kit in The Hollywood Reporter story “‘Star Wars’: Boba Fett Movie in the Works With James Mangold”, says that James Mangold and Simon Kinberg, who last worked together on Logan (which Mangold directed and co-wrote and Kinberg produced) have been signed by Disney to develop a Boba Fett movie.

As N.K. Jemisin asked –

(20) KEEPING IT LEGAL. Like everyone else whose internet babblings are read in Europe, Timothy the Talking Cat is updating Cattimothy House security policy.

A message from our Legal and Compliance Department:

Dear User/Subscriber/Stranger/Prisoner

Due to the recent legislative changes in the European Union (a body not recognised by our founder and CEO, Timothy the Talking Cat), we have made several changes to our security policy.

… Our change in policy means that we will no longer:

  • Post lists of your names and misdeeds as a notice in the town square.
  • Maintain in a dark basement a wall with your photographs joined together with lines of red twine, with some faces circled in red marker and others defaced with a huge question mark….

Much more humor follows…

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Lis Carey, Andrew Porter, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Soon Lee, Jonathan Cowie, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contirebiting editor of the day microtherion.]

Pixel Scroll 5/25/18 The Prospect Of Incontinent Hobgoblins

(1) FANX FLOUNDERS ON. How long will FanX’s Bryan Brandenburg’s “indefinite leave” be?

FanX’s other leader, Dan Farr, now has added his own statement and apology.

I, Dan Farr, apologize fully for any instances in which a participant has felt unsafe. We do not condone these behaviors, from anyone.

It is not our role or responsibility to judge any individual nor to disparage or use inflammatory language about any participant in our conference. It is our role to do all within our power to keep our participants safe. Our conversation with the author resulted in a mutual agreement that he will not be participating in our future events. With this agreement, we consider the matter resolved.

Additionally, my partner and cofounder, Bryan Brandenburg has made a personal and heartfelt apology for his remarks on social media that were insensitive about our attendees’ sexual harassment concerns.

However, continued postings in social media and the press have shown energy and anger to a level that Bryan has decided that his continued participation, for now, is a distraction from the goals we are striving to uphold.

Beginning immediately, Bryan Brandenburg is taking an executive leave that he hopes and believes will help to dispel the negative energy that is taking us away from our greater mission and goals. While he has not suggested a timeframe, this leave may not be permanent. We hope to see Bryan at our September event with his wife and new son.

As for Brandenburg stepping back from social media – well, he’s stepped back from where the public can see it, but he’s still busy posting – see the screencaps in this set of tweets.

Yesterday’s latest Salt Lake Tribune coverage quoted from one of the screencaps that showed Brandenburg justifying how FanX dealt with the Richard Evans harassment complaint:

The comments were later deleted, but not before screengrabs circulated on Twitter.

“We absolutely could not publicly ban [Evans],” Brandenburg wrote. “We had no proof. We would be sued for libel and defamation from Richard. Then it would get out that you would be banned and humiliated from FanX for kissing a guest on the cheek and touching her. We would be out of business. Nobody would care to read the details. We did not see it happen. It would be her word against his.”

Hale has questioned whether organizers attempted to talk to people who may have witnessed the interaction, and whether Brandenburg’s statement means that allegations won’t be looked into if they weren’t witnessed by FanX employees.

FanX’s new harassment policy promises that every report of harassment will be investigated.

Howard Tayler’s Twitter thread deconstructs the Brandenburg rationale, quoted in the Tribune. The thread starts here:

And includes these comments:

(2) OH, THE NONHUMANITY! Here’s an admirable idea for a listicle: “The 12 Most Gratuitous Robot Deaths in Sci-Fi” at Tor.com.

Sometimes it feels like robots only exist to be abused, you know? We love them and the window they provide on the human condition, but science fiction is usually pretty mean to them overall. It loves to torment robots (and when we say “robots” we’re really talking about any form of android or A.I. or sentient toaster or what-have-you) with the constant threat of obsolescence or deactivation or destruction. And some of these deaths are just plain gratuitous, leaving us betrayed, bewildered, and otherwise bereaved.

Here are the worst of them….

(3) MORE POOH. Here’s is Disney’s Christopher Robin Official Trailer. In theaters August 3.

In the heartwarming live action adventure Disney’s “Christopher Robin,” the young boy who shared countless adventures with his band of lovable stuffed animals in the Hundred Acre Wood is now grown up and living in London but he has lost his way. Now it is up to his childhood friends to venture into our world and help Christopher Robin rediscover the joys of family life, the value of friendship and to appreciate the simple pleasures in life once again.

 

(4) NEWSLETTER SIGNUP INCENTIVE. Get to know seven authors and fill a shelf with science fiction and fantasy — The SFF Grand Newsletter Giveaway is a chance to win a dozen signed books. The seven writers in this international group range from debut to established, and from near-future thrillers to high fantasy — Aliette de Bodard, SL Huang, Beth Cato, Kate Heartfield, Jim C. Hines, Kate Elliott, and JY Yang.

Between May 25 and June 25, readers can enter the giveaway once for each author, for up to seven entries. For each author, entrants will have the choice of subscribing to that author’s newsletter to enter (signing up for the newsletter is not required to be entered in the giveaway). Existing subscribers to an author’s newsletter can simply choose the giveaway-only option to receive an entry for that author.

The contest is open worldwide. One winner (chosen at random) will receive signed, physical copies of all the books:

  • The first three Tensorate novellas by JY Yang
  • The complete Court of Fives trilogy by Kate Elliott if the winner has a U.S. address, or a choice of one of the following by Kate Elliott if the winner has a non-U.S. address: Court of Fives, Cold Magic, Black Wolves, or Spirit Gate
  • Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines
  • Breath of Earth by Beth Cato
  • Zero Sum Game by SL Huang and The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist (novelette) by SL Huang
  • The Tea Master and the Detective and The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard
  • Armed in Her Fashion and Alice Payne Arrives by Kate Heartfield

Everyone who uses this page to sign up for ANY of our newsletters before June 25 will be entered into the giveaway! You can enter once for each author, for up to 7 entries. From among ALL entries we’ll draw ONE lucky winner — who will receive SIGNED BOOKS from every one of us! A chance to win a dozen or more signed books — a whole shelf of new SFF!

(5) WRITER V. CHARACTER. Ian Sales, in “His master’s voice”, defends his criticism of a Clarke Award finalist.

So, a couple of days ago I tweeted a short quote from the book I was reading, one of this year’s Clarke Award finalists, and remarked that I was surprised to find the position expressed in the quote in a genre novel published in 2017. Most people who saw my tweet were as dismayed as I was – although, to be fair, they saw only my quote.

Which changes things. Apparently.

The book in question is Sea of Rust by C Robert Cargill, and the exact quote was “Gender is defined by genitalia”, which is spoken by the book’s narrator, Brittle, a robot, in a paragraph in which “she” admits that robots have no gender, it is not something “she” has ever thought about, but she henceforth chooses to define herself as female.

Two people I consider friends – very smart people both, and genre critics whose opinions I respect* – decided to insult my intelligence by questioning by understanding of how narrative works. Because the offending phrase – and it is offensive – was spoken by a character, they stated, that does not mean it reflects the author’s sensibilities. As another friend pointed out, I have myself written fiction featuring Nazis – and I have: ‘Wunderwaffe’ – but that obviously does not make me a Nazi. This is indeed true. Cargill has written a novel about robots, in which the first person narrator is a robot… but obviously he is not a robot himself. I never claimed this.

But the people arguing against my comment were themselves making the same assumption about me they were accusing myself of making against Cargill. Except, I think my position is backed up by the narrative.

…So yes, I do understand how narrative works. I also understand how writing works. And while I may not be as accomplished at writing as others… and I may place a higher value on narrative rigour than most people… I stand my original position:

Unless the narrative evidences a foundation for a sensibility or attitude, then it’s reasonable to assume it is a sensibility or attitude of the author that has leaked through into the narrative.

(6) MARY SHELLEY BIOPIC. NPR’s Mark Jenkins says “‘Mary Shelley’ Is Less Than The Sum Of Its Parts”

Given the familiarity of the material, the makers of Mary Shelley would have been smart to find a new approach. Philosophically, they sort of do, giving Mary more credit than usual for both her work and her choices.

Stylistically, though, the movie is all too typical of the 19th-century British literary/romantic drama. It presents London circa 1815 as misery for the poor, the young, the female, and the liberal-minded — and yet picturesque enough for a tourist brochure, suffused with dappled sun-, lamp- and candlelight and swathed in yearning music.

(7) BAIN OBIT. Meredith marks the passing of “John Bain, also known as TotalBiscuit, the Cynical Brit, who died yesterday after being diagnosed with inoperable cancer in 2015. He was a popular gaming YouTuber and started out by covering the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm expansion before moving on to wider coverage, including a lot of indie games. He championed games on the PC and was always honest about his opinions of games, beginning in a time when that was far less common.”

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • May 25, 1953 It Came From Outer Space appeared in theaters, a movie based on a story by Ray Bradbury.
  • May 25, 1977Star Wars premiered.
  • May 25, 1983Return of the Jedi opened in theaters.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY MUPPETEER

  • Born May 25, 1944 – Frank Oz

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Cat Eldridge says “I’ve had dozens of emails telling me about the organization and how it’s complying with GDPR.” And now Xkcd is getting in on the act.

(11) NATAL DAY. Steven H Silver celebrates: “Birthday Reviews: Vera Nazarian’s ‘Salmon in the Drain Pipe’” at Black Gate.

Nazarian was nominated for a WSFA Small Press Award for her short story “Port Custodial Blues” in 2007. The following year she received a nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Short Story for “The Story of Love.” She also received a Nebula nomination in 2009 for her novella The Duke in His Castle. In addition to writing, Nazarian has worked as the editor and publisher of Norilana Books since the company’s founding in 2006.

(12) KNOWS ALL, HEARS ALL, TELLS ALL. The Guardian asks “Alexa, when did the Church of England become so tech-savvy?”

The Amazon assistant can now help you with your Anglican needs. Just don’t expect answers to the really big questions…

Thomas Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer was well ahead of its time when in 1549 it addressed “Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be opened, all desires known, and no secrets hid” – but it would take nearly five centuries for the church to turn this vision into technology. For now there is a Church of England “skill” – a set of canned responses – on , Amazon’s virtual assistant which can give its answer to 30 religious questions. It doesn’t answer the interesting ones though. “Alexa, ask the Church of England how can I be saved?” produces a silence easily interpreted as baffled, and I don’t think this is because the Church of England long ago decided that I couldn’t be….

(13) SFF IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. Here’s another list to pick apart, BBC Culture’s “The 100 stories that shaped the world”. Homer’s Odyssey is number 1.

Chip Hitchcock celebrates that “SFF cracked the top 5,” and he tentatively identifies the stories with these rankings as SFF: 3, 4, 15, 16, 44, 67?, 71, 72, 73? 83?

(14) THEY WERE THERE. “How ancient DNA is transforming our view of the past” the “pots not people” (cultural exchange) view is giving way to knowledge that there were huge population shifts, e.g. Stonehenge builders disappearing under flood of Beaker People.

…Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, studies of ancient DNA from our own species were highly contentious because of observations that skeletal remains were easily contaminated by the DNA of living people.

As such, there were always nagging doubts about whether a genetic sequence belonged to the long-dead individual being studied or to an archaeologist involved in excavating the remains, a museum curator who had handled them, or a visitor to the lab where they were being analysed.

However, crucial progress in overcoming these obstacles began in the late 90s with the effort to sequence DNA from Neanderthals, which was led by Professor Svante Pääbo at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

Pääbo’s group developed a set of protocols to prevent contamination slipping through, including having the same samples sequenced in two laboratories by different teams….

But the field experienced a revolution with the emergence of so-called next-generation sequencing technology. When an organism dies, the DNA in its cells begins to break down – over time it splits into smaller and smaller chunks, as well as accumulating other forms of damage.

It also gets contaminated with vast amounts of microbial DNA from the wider environment. The new sequencing machines could be used to isolate the human genetic material from bacterial DNA and then stitch together the tiny fragments into a readable sequence….

(15) ROADBLOCK. Traffic came to a standstill when….

(16) SFWA GAME CHAT. The inaugural episode of SFWA Game Chat aired this week on YouTube, hosted by Cat Rambo with Monica Valentinelli.

Did you know that SFWA now admits science fiction and fantasy game writers? Cat Rambo introduces a new show that discusses sci-fi/fantasy game writing!

 

(17) GAMING PIONEER. The Great Big Story has released a piece on the woman behind the design of the early 80’s text-based computer/adventure game, The Hobbit. Veronika Megler fell out of contact with the company that developed the game and went for many years without knowing how successful it was and how many lives it touched: “The Hunt for ‘The Hobbit’s’ Missing Hero”.

The six and a half minute video is great and the story of how (now) Dr. Megler has seized upon the lasting power of the game to help address gender balance in computer science is affecting.

 

(18) NOT AGENT 86. Missed out on this shoephone revival:

T-Mobile’s Sidekick gets a remake! Inspired by the past but stepping boldly into the future, it has revolutionary AI, headphones that double as chargers, personalized GPS guidance by John Legere, and more!

 

(19) SECOND OPINION. NPR’s Justin Chang calls Solo “A High-Speed, Low-Energy Intergalactic Heist”:

It was a good sign when Alden Ehrenreich, the terrific young actor from “Tetro” and “Hail, Caesar!” was cast as Han and also when Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the merry comic daredevils behind “The Lego Movie” and “21 Jump Street,” were hired to direct. But then Lord and Miller were fired last year due to apparently irreconcilable creative differences. And you could sense the iron will of Lucasfilm asserting itself. God forbid anyone should try to inject a little wit or personality into this surefire cash cow.

The directors were replaced by the much more risk-averse Ron Howard. And as a consequence, what might have once been a fresh and funny tour de force has devolved into bland, impersonal hackwork.

(20) CANTINA CHOW. Extra Crispy’s Tim Nelson was not impressed with the Solo/Denny’s promotional campaign, launched in April, that included trading cards and (not so) special menu items.

In Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Obi Wan Kenobi warns Luke Skywalker that “you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy” than Mos Eiseley, home to the cantina where viewers first meet smuggler and scoundrel Han Solo. It’s also a fitting way to describe any Denny’s located within stumbling distance of a bar after 11 p.m.

…With proceeds from trading card purchases going to help fund nonprofit organization No Kid Hungry, the whole thing seems inoffensive enough. But if some leaked information posted on a Star Wars forum is true, some of the Solo-themed menu items seem a bit silly.

There’s the “lightspeed slam,” a healthy dish that looks more like something from a depressed nutritionist’s Instagram than a meal fit for the Star Wars universe. While Denny’s earns some points for the inclusion of “Crystal Crunch Rocks” in a milkshake and a stack of pancakes, that looks to be the closest the menu gets to anything outside the universe of the diner chain’s typical fare.

As with past Star Wars-food tie-ins, one has to wonder what purpose putting ghost pepper sauce on a bacon cheeseburger and passing it off as something Han Solo might eat ultimately serves. Why not at least serve pancakes shaped like Chewbacca’s face?

(21) NO RECIPE FOR SUCCESS? Mad Genius Club’s Peter Grant made the point that “Writing books is not like frying shrimp”, inspired by the hilarious commercial linked below.

Trouble is, some new entrants into the book-writing and -publishing business think that their ambitions can be realized in a very similar fashion.  Just set up everything, add pre-set ingredients according to some arcane recipe, strike a spark, and voila!  It’s done!

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Meredith, Chip Hitchcock, SL Huang, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, JJ, IanP, and Daniel Dern for some of these stories, Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Elisa.]