Pixel Scroll 6/28/17 Hot Patootie, Bless My Soul, I Really Love That Pixel Scroll

(1) MINIONS GETTING PAID. The Seattle law firm Rekhi & Wolk, P.S. sends word they have settled the class action they were litigating against Emerald City Comicon (See Scroll for 5/18/16, item #13).

Former volunteer Jerry Brooks alleged Emerald City Comicon violated Washington State law by failing to pay people classified as volunteers – which they called “minions” — the minimum wages they were owed under Washington laws for performing services at the 2014 and/or 2015 Emerald City Comicons in Seattle.

The defendant denied the claim, reported Seattlish, emphasizing that “…The volunteers not only willingly enter into an agreement stating that they’ll work for free, but the culture of the convention fosters a competitiveness for the volunteer positions.”

According to the FAQ about the class action settlement, Emerald City Comicon will pay $493,227.84 to resolve all claims, some of which will go to attorneys, the plaintiff, and the settlement administrator, with the remaining approximately $348,397.33 to be distributed to Class Members who submit Claim Forms by July 31. (Click on the FAQ for additional information.)

Remembering this was at bottom a complaint about unpaid wages, it’s only fair that payroll taxes will be levied on the distributions:

One-half (50%) of each award to a Class Member will be treated as wages and subject to normal payroll tax withholdings and payments. The other one-half (50%) of each award to a Class Member will be treated as non-wages on which there will be no tax withholding.

(2) BARNUM. The Verge introduces the new trailer: “Watch the first trailer for Hugh Jackman’s movie musical The Greatest Showman”

The first trailer for 20th Century Fox’s P.T. Barnum biopic and original musical The Greatest Showman is here. Hugh Jackman plays Barnum, a charming, down-on-his-luck guy in a top hat, hanging out in Connecticut in the early 1800s. From what we can see, he’s going to be smooching Michelle Williams, teaming up with Zac Efron, and eventually inventing the circus as we know it. “Every one of us is special, and nobody is like anyone else. That’s the point of my show,” he tells a child. Sure! I’m buying it.

 

(3) YOUNG KING. Once upon a time Stephen King came to hang out at sf conventions. Someone with a camera was present when he spoke at the 1983 DeepSouthCon. Next best thing to a time machine.

Raw photojournalist footage of a panel discussion from a SF/Horror convention held in Knoxville in 1983. Participants include Stephen King, Peter Straub, Karl Edward Wagner, Charles Grant, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Whitley Streiber, Dennis Etchison, and others.

 

(4) BROSNAN ZINES SOUGHT. Twenty-two years after his death, John Brosnan has inspired a devoted Australian fan to want to read all his stuff, even his Sixties fanzines. “John Brosnan’s 1960s pre-internet fanzines sought by new fan at National Library”.

The work of an almost forgotten Australian writer has been unearthed and made available to a new audience following the chance discovery of a 1960s fanzine in a comic collection at the National Library of Australia (NLA).

Perth-born John Brosnan (1947-2005) specialised in science-fiction….

His sci-fi fanzine Big Scab was a joint winner of the 1974 UK Nova Award.

NLA cataloguer Alison Carriage became fascinated with Brosnan’s work after stumbling across an issue of his 1960s fanzine Why Bother? in the library’s John Ryan comic collection.

She was struck by the “wonderfully entertaining” way he wrote and the insight the fanzine provided into the pre-internet era.

Brosnan’s accounts of everyday life include getting mugged, looking for a job and being bitten by a tick.

“I kind of compare it to Seinfeld — the episodes were about nothing, but they were nothings you could relate to and therefore you found them really funny,” Ms Carriage said.

“His work’s still relatable and still really important.”

(5) AMAZONIAN LOVE. Hope Nicholson and Karen K. Burrows tell SciFiNow readers “Let’s be Straight: Wonder Woman is into Women”.

Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Mystique, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy are names that even non-comic book fans can identify, thanks to their films.

Aside from being leading ladies of comics (Catwoman, the oldest at 77 years old, our pal Harley Quinn a millennial baby at just 24 years old), each of these characters have another thing in common: they’re bisexual in the pages of (some) of their comics, but not yet identified as such in their movie counterparts.

Despite increased representation in the source comics, more recognizable queer characters rarely cross that barrier to film. Representation matters in every form – but blockbuster films have a greater reach than comics. Confirming in worldwide media that characters who have been part of the popular consciousness for decades can also be queer would be a true step forward!

Let’s take a closer look at the queer history of these characters and think about what might have been – and what still could!

(6) THE FILMING LAMP IS LIT. An update on item #15 from the May 16 Scroll: George R.R. Martin announced progress on the TV adaptation of another of his stories:

The SyFy Channel has just greenlit the pilot for a proposed NIGHTFLYERS series, based on my 1980 Hugo-losing novella, one of my SF/ horror hybrids.

(7) SUPPORT DIVERSE GRANTS. The Speculative Literature Foundation is raising money at Generosity.com to fund their Diverse Worlds & Diverse Writers Grants.

The Speculative Literature Foundation’s Diverse Worlds and Diverse Writers Grants were launched in 2013 after an initial fundraiser covered the grants for three years. Help us keep both grants going for five more years!

The $500 Diverse Writers grant is intended to support new and emerging writers from underrepresented and underprivileged groups, such as writers of color, women, queer writers, disabled writers, working-class writers, etc. — those whose marginalized identities may present additional obstacles in the writing / publishing process.

The $500 Diverse Worlds grant is intended for work that best presents a diverse world, regardless of the writer’s background.

So far they have raised $695 towards the $5,000 goal.

(8) BOND OBIT. Paddington Bear creator Michael Bond died June 27 at the age of 91.

Bond published his first book, A Bear Called Paddington, in 1958.

The character, a marmalade-loving bear from “deepest, darkest Peru” who comes to live in London, went on to inspire a series of books, an animated TV series and a successful 2014 film.

Born in Newbury in 1926, Bond began his career at the BBC and later worked on Blue Peter as a cameraman.

He served with the RAF and the army during World War II and began writing in 1945 while stationed in Cairo.

More than 35 million Paddington books have been sold worldwide. The most recent, Paddington’s Finest Hour, was published in April.

(9) THE FUNDAMENTAL THINGS REMAIN AS TIME GOES BY. The Filer who sent the link said they were surprised that Steven Johnson’s article for the New York Times, “Greetings, E.T. (Please Don’t Murder Us)”, doesn’t mention The Three-Body Problem.

In Nov. 16, 1974, a few hundred astronomers, government officials and other dignitaries gathered in the tropical forests of Puerto Rico’s northwest interior, a four-hour drive from San Juan. The occasion was a rechristening of the Arecibo Observatory, at the time the largest radio telescope in the world. The mammoth structure — an immense concrete-and-aluminum saucer as wide as the Eiffel Tower is tall, planted implausibly inside a limestone sinkhole in the middle of a mountainous jungle — had been upgraded to ensure its ability to survive the volatile hurricane season and to increase its precision tenfold.

To celebrate the reopening, the astronomers who maintained the observatory decided to take the most sensitive device yet constructed for listening to the cosmos and transform it, briefly, into a machine for talking back. After a series of speeches, the assembled crowd sat in silence at the edge of the telescope while the public-address system blasted nearly three minutes of two-tone noise through the muggy afternoon heat. To the listeners, the pattern was indecipherable, but somehow the experience of hearing those two notes oscillating in the air moved many in the crowd to tears.

That 168 seconds of noise, now known as the Arecibo message, was the brainchild of the astronomer Frank Drake, then the director of the organization that oversaw the Arecibo facility. The broadcast marked the first time a human being had intentionally transmitted a message targeting another solar system. The engineers had translated the missive into sound, so that the assembled group would have something to experience during the transmission. But its true medium was the silent, invisible pulse of radio waves, traveling at the speed of light.

It seemed to most of the onlookers to be a hopeful act, if a largely symbolic one: a message in a bottle tossed into the sea of deep space. But within days, the Royal Astronomer of England, Martin Ryle, released a thunderous condemnation of Drake’s stunt. By alerting the cosmos of our existence, Ryle wrote, we were risking catastrophe. Arguing that ‘‘any creatures out there [might be] malevolent or hungry,’’ Ryle demanded that the International Astronomical Union denounce Drake’s message and explicitly forbid any further communications. It was irresponsible, Ryle fumed, to tinker with interstellar outreach when such gestures, however noble their intentions, might lead to the destruction of all life on earth….

But in the 40 years since Drake transmitted the message, just over a dozen intentional messages have been sent to the stars, most of them stunts of one fashion or another, including one broadcast of the Beatles’ ‘‘Across the Universe’’ to commemorate the 40th anniversary of that song’s recording. (We can only hope the aliens, if they exist, receive that message before they find the Hitler footage.)…

Now this taciturn phase may be coming to an end, if a growing multidisciplinary group of scientists and amateur space enthusiasts have their way. A newly formed group known as METI (Messaging Extra Terrestrial Intelligence), led by the former SETI scientist Douglas Vakoch, is planning an ongoing series of messages to begin in 2018. And Milner’s Breakthrough Listen endeavor has also promised to support a ‘‘Breakthrough Message’’ companion project, including an open competition to design the messages that we will transmit to the stars. But as messaging schemes proliferate, they have been met with resistance. The intellectual descendants of Martin Ryle include luminaries like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, and they caution that an assumption of interstellar friendship is the wrong way to approach the question of extraterrestrial life. They argue that an advanced alien civilization might well respond to our interstellar greetings with the same graciousness that Cortés showed the Aztecs, making silence the more prudent option.

If you believe that these broadcasts have a plausible chance of making contact with an alien intelligence, the choice to send them must rank as one of the most important decisions we will ever make as a species. Are we going to be galactic introverts, huddled behind the door and merely listening for signs of life outside? Or are we going to be extroverts, conversation-starters? And if it’s the latter, what should we say?

(10) CARNEGIE MEDAL. Colson Whitehead accepted the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in Chicago on June 24. The award was announced in January.

The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction were established in 2012 to recognize the best fiction and nonfiction books for adult readers published in the U.S. the previous year. The winners (one for fiction, one for nonfiction) are announced at an event at the ALA Midwinter Meeting; winning authors receive a $5,000 cash award, and two finalists in each category receive $1,500.

Michael Chabon’s non-sf novel Moonglow was one of the fiction runner-ups.

(11) UNACQUIRED TASTES. Joe Sherry tackles the Hugo-nominated novels at Nerds of a Feather. Too Like the Lightning landed below No Award on his ballot, Death’s End just above. Jemisin’s novel ranks first.

Too Like the Lightning: I tried, folks.  I tried. Except for Death’s End, this was the finalist I was more concerned about reading. Something about the futuristic utopia written with stylistic flourishes harkening back to the 1800’s (despite being set in the 2400’s) just didn’t work for me. I know I gave up on the book too soon, but three chapters / 40 pages seemed to be enough to know that I didn’t care enough to even to the central mystery / conceit / story of Too Like the Lightning. Reading other reviews suggest that there is richness to be found, if only I take the time to push through. Perhaps I will try again in the future (after all, my reading of This-Census Taker changed on a second go-round), especially if this happens to win the Hugo Award. Though, given how other awards have shaken out so far this year, this seems somewhat unlikely. I do subscribe to the idea that sometimes we come to a book at the wrong time to appreciate or enjoy the work and coming to it again at a different time results in a different and stronger appreciation. Hopefully that’ll happen here, otherwise this is just a miss for me.

(12) MÍEVILLE. Camestros Felapton is also posting about his award reading: “Review: This Census Taker – Hugo2017 Novella”

China Miéville’s novella This Census Taker is not a roman à clef although it does feature keys but it has the aesthetics of an unsolvable puzzle. The story points at things as if they are clues but those elements (the deep hole into which things are thrown, the father’s affectless violence, the boy/narrator’s inconsistent recollections) don’t ever come together as a finished puzzle. The novella is like a painting of an unfinished jigsaw puzzle – the edges artfully done but with the looming chasm of the centre incomplete.

(13) DOG YEARS. Felapton has worked up a new diagram tracing how the Puppy movements are playing out, “Rise of the Scrappy Doos”.

In terms of existing movements they are closest to the Superversive movement and the Pulp Revolutions movement. Those two movements* can be seen as offshoots of the Rabid Puppies but this can be misleading. The Rabids had a core of straight Alt-Right griefers willing to do exactly what Vox Day told them to do for the lulz. Superversive began independently of the Rabids but has attached itself to Castalia for promotion and is focused on literary works (although of a right leaning nature). Pulp Revolution arose from the Castalia House blog and hence is more closely connected to Rabid Puppies but again is not the same as the griefing group.

[eta – paragraph went astray] Whereas the Rabids collectively were not particularly interested in the field of SFF, the Scrappy-Doos have more in common with the Sad Puppies in so far as they tend to be actively involved in writing, publishing and books. In this sense they are more like other groupings in fandom. However, where significant voices in Sad Puppies (Correia, Torgersen, Hoyt, Freer) had had some success in trad-publishing (mainly centred around Baen Books), the Scrappy Doos are involved with small publishing groups or self-published.

(14) SPUD ON WHEELS. Marek Baczynski told his YouTube followers:

I made a self driving potato. And then named him “Pontus” and adopted him as a pet. This went well. By popular demand, I wrote a detailed list of parts, you can find it in this reddit comment: https://www.reddit.com/r/shittyrobots…

One commenter summed up the experience:

I’m not quite sure of what I just saw but it was highly emotional to me and I loved it.

 

(15) TAPPING OUT. The step after psychometric ID? “This man had the chip from his travel card implanted under his skin”.

This Australian can now tap in and out at train stations with a travel card chip implanted in his left hand.

Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow (yes, that’s his legal name) says he had it put under his skin by a professional piercer….

“If someone stole my wallet I could still get home,” he told ABC News.

It’s not the best super power in the world, but it’s better than nothing.

(16) CELEBRATE THE 42ND ANNIVERSARY OF JAWS. “We’re gonna need a bigger beer can,” says Andrew Porter. So popular they’re now on backorder — “Honor the Man Jaws Poster”.

Jaws fans have seen this poster in liquor stores and begged the clerks to buy them… They’ve sent emails and called our contact line in search of this awesome poster too. Maybe you’ve even bargained with us at promotions to no avail… Well, here at Narragansett Beer, we’re all about making dreams come true which is why we’ve printed large 27″x40″ limited edition wall posters just for you!

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Dawn Sabados, Lis Carey, elusis, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to  File 770 contributing editor of the day Charon D.]

HWA Celebrates Women in Horror – Part 3

February is Women in Horror Month and every day the Horror Writers Association blog is running a Q&A with an award-winning woman member. Here are the highlights of the third week.

Rain Graves –February 15

Talk about winning the award – how surprised were you? Did winning pay off in any interesting ways?

RG: I’ve never been a member of the HWA, so it’s always funny when people try to argue that they play favorites when giving the awards. They argue that people who campaign for the award – sending mass emails to friends and members offering free copies so that people will read it and recommend it for the Stoker – is a soul killing disease that paints the writer into that picture of favorite or pimp, depending on their involvement with the HWA. That hasn’t been my experience in terms of my work. I have never once campaigned. I have never once asked anyone to read it. I just do the work, and put it out there. My publishers offer free downloads or hard copies to reviewers. I think Roy may have offered a free download to HWA members when TFE made the final ballot. So I am always surprised to see my name on the preliminary ballot, and final ballot. Definitely surprised to ever win.

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro – February 16

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. Photo by Charles Lucke.

What advice would you give to new female authors looking to break into horror?

CQY: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket — write in more than one genre. That way, if one market collapses, you have a fall-back position.

Lisa Morton – February 17

Lisa Morton

Tell us a little about your Bram Stoker Award-winning work(s). Inspirations? Influences? Anecdotes about the writing or critical reaction?

LM: I’ve won six times now, in five different categories (twice in Non-fiction, once each in First Novel, Graphic Novel, Long Fiction, and Short Fiction). However, I’m actually proudest of one loss – for my novel Malediction. That novel held significant personal meaning for me, it was a jury selection, and it lost out to Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep – overall it felt like the biggest win!

I have to confess that I’m disappointed I couldn’t put my last non-fiction book Ghosts: A Haunted History in the running for the award, but when I took over as HWA’s President in 2014 I removed all my solo works from consideration as long as I’m in office.

Allyson Bird – February 18

Allyson Bird with daughter Sarah.

Do you think women in horror face more difficulties than their male peers?

AB: Yes. I’ve had much support from some great male writers but there are always a few who will try to bring you down if you do something they don’t agree with. That time I outed the fascist/racist David A. Riley caused me some problems. A few writers tried to cause trouble for me but it backfired on them. Speaking up is important as America faces the terrible years ahead with Trump dedicated to dividing the country. If you see hatred and racism, inequality regarding LGBTQ and women’s rights, discrimination against any minority ….SPEAK OUT…if you don’t who will? My advice to women is do what your conscience tells you to do. Write what you want to write not what you think others might want to read. If you ask yourself how will this affect your career….that is the wrong question to ask. Whether it is fiction or fact write it and those who are meant to be with you will support you.

Yvonne Navarro – February 19

Yvonne Navarro

What advice would you give to new female authors looking to break into horror?

YN: I said it up there. Write like a writer. Don’t write like a woman, don’t write like a man. Write like a writer, like you. Write the absolute best that you can. And what I tell every writer trying to break into any genre: Read your stuff aloud, like you were an actor on the stage. If you’re self-conscious, then do it when no one else is home or lock the door. That’s the way you’ll get around your brain telling your eyes everything is good. That’s how you’ll find the weird wording, bad punctuation, too-long sentences, misspellings. Reading aloud is golden.

Lucy Taylor – February 20

Lucy Taylor

About winning the award – how surprised were you? Did winning pay off in any interesting ways?

LT: Good question. I wasn’t totally surprised, because I remember having a conversation with Harlan Ellison in which he ‘strongly’ advised me not to miss the World Horror Convention that year, so I admit I had my hopes up. Also very exciting was the fact that Joyce Carol Oates won a Stoker that year in the Best Novel category for ZOMBIE, so it was wonderful meeting her as well as Harlan Ellison.

Nancy Holder – February 21

 

Nancy Holder. Photo by John Urbancik.

What new works from you can we look forward to in the future?

NH: I’m finishing the novelization of the new Wonder Woman film—very excited about that!—and co-writing a new Buffy Encyclopedia to celebrate the 20th anniversary. My co-contributor is my original Buffy editor, Lisa Clancy, so that’s a dream come true. I’m working on a Gothic project I am super excited about but I can’t talk about it much right now. I’m also working on some short stories.

Lucy A. Snyder – February 22

Lucy A. Snyder

Do you think women in horror face more difficulties than their male peers?

SL: I do, but these problems are not by any stretch limited to the horror field. While there are sub-genres of horror that employ tropes that are outright misogynistic (using rape as titillation, for instance) as a working professional writer, what I mostly see is an extension of the garden-variety bias you find everywhere. Namely, the perception that women’s work is going to be less vital, less edgy, less interesting than men’s work. And #notallmen, of course; some of my most loyal fans are male readers. But the general trend for a long time has been that female fiction writers are less likely to be published outside of romance, and when they are published, their books are less likely to be reviewed or noticed. Strange Horizons and Vida have gathered statistics on all this.

But a bigger problem for all women artists is being able to preserve their time and energy to get their creative work done. In most communities and families, women are still expected to be the ones who largely take care of the kids, do the cooking, do the cleaning, care for aging parents and sick relatives. Women are still expected to put their husbands’ career aspirations and children’s needs first. The result is that women are often left with less time and energy and support for their writing.

Even just getting ready in the morning — women are expected to sink more time and energy into our appearances, and we are criticized more harshly for looking unkempt or sloppy. I try to be as low-maintenance as I can, but I’m sure I spend a solid half-hour more per day on grooming and dressing than my husband does. That works out to over 180 hours per year! Most women spend a whole lot more time there than I do; I don’t even wear makeup every day. It’s very hard for us to set that time sink aside because we’ll be penalized socially and professionally for it.

More men are pitching in on childcare and household chores than they did in past decades, but the cultural conditioning men and women both receive make it harder for women to preserve the time and energy they need to develop careers as writers and artists. It’s getting better, but there’s still a long way to go.

Donna K. Fitch – February 23

Do you think women in horror face more difficulties than their male peers?

DKF: HWA is making great strides in changing the opportunities of women in horror, and I hope a question like this will be outmoded soon. I feel that women writing in horror were seen in the past as “writing outside their genre.” HWA’s scholarships and the amazing Seers’ Table column are encouraging a new generation of women as they see the possibilities.

P.D. Cacek – February 24

P.D. Cacek

Tell us a little about your Bram Stoker Award-winning work(s). Inspirations? Influences? Anecdotes about the writing or critical reaction?

PDC: I won a Bram Stoker in 1996 for my short story, Metalica: a “touching” story about a woman and her speculum. Yes, you read correctly: speculum. Now, in case you’re not sure what a speculum is, let me explain that it is a medical tool designed to investigate body orifices, most commonly gynecological orifices. I have often described it as a cross between salad tongs and the Jaws of Life. Talk about horror, right?

So, if you ask about inspiration, I guess you can say that I had personal knowledge of the subject matter—but certainly not as well as my character had. And that’s where the horror came in. I took a common, if not pleasant experience may be, and twisted it out of all proportions.

Pun intended, if you read the story.

For me, that’s the secret of horror: take reality and give it a twist.

That’s what I did with Metalica and it apparently worked better than I expected. I was asked by Jeff Gelb (one of the editors for FEAR THE FEVER—The Hot Blood Series, where the story was published) if I could use my gender specific real name.

It seemed that the one of the editors for Pocket Books (a woman editor, I might add) was worried that the story might offend women readers if they thought a man wrote it. I’ve always thought that it was the story that mattered, not really the writer, so I agreed and you’ll notice that that byline reads Patricia D. Cacek.

My dear friend and mentor, Edward Bryant (who just passed) told me I should never have given in, but it seemed like a small concession to me at the time and still does. As I said before, it’s the story that matters.

Elizabeth Monteleone – February 25

Elizabeth Monteleone

Talk about winning the award – how surprised were you? Did winning pay off in any interesting ways?

EM: I feel like I cheated a little. I had as a co-editor the BRILLIANT Thomas F. Monteleone. Thank goodness he saw talent in me. Having been a life-long reader, and lover of books (I wish I could remember who said this but it applies to me “I’m a literary whore, I’ll read anyone.”) I started reading the slush pile and the stories I sent on to Tom seem to have impressed him because he told me I had an unerring instinct for what comprised a good story. High praise indeed!

Winning gave me a confidence I didn’t know I lacked when it came to validating my ability to recognize good writing.

2015 World Fantasy Con Website Goes Online

A new web site for the 2015 World Fantasy Convention has just opened — www.wfc2015.org.

It has all the usual features, including writeups about the two guests of honor, Steven Erikson and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and two special guests, Glen Cook and David Drake.

Those interested in being on the program can fill out a questionnaire here.