Science: Improbable, Mythical, Unexpected

Compiled by Carl Slaughter:

  • 10 things that happen in movies that are scientifically improbable

  • Space myths: Astronaut Chris Hadfield

  • Sex on Mars

From Business Insider: “Having sex and reproducing in space comes with serious scientific and ethical problems.”

Being on Mars wouldn’t be exactly like being on the International Space Station, which is where most of this information comes from. But Mars still only has about 38% of the gravity we experience on Earth.

We don’t know how these changes would affect reproductive cells, fertilization, embryonic development, the developing fetus, or growing children.

It’s possible that children born and raised on Mars might have an easier time adapting to the requirements of life there, since it would be the world they would grow up in. But what those adaptations would look like are anyone’s guess.

  • 21 minutes into this video, Michio Kaku explains how sci fi technology enabled Hawking to speak and write.

  • Big Bang Theory

The thesis of this video is that The Big Bang Theory uses reference to science for humor instead of using science itself.  The real humor is in poking fun at characters who make absurd use of science.

Pixel Scroll 6/17/18 Come Away, O Meredithed Book, To The Kindle And The Nook

(1) ADVICE AND DISSENT. When Elon Musk described himself as “…a utopian anarchist of the kind best described by Iain Banks” on Twitter he got plenty of pushback. Soon Lee and Rob Thornton report that the pushers included Charles Stross, Hal Duncan, Cory Doctorow, and —

For those who need an introduction, Edward Champion’s 2013 essay “The Culture Novels of Iain M. Banks” looks promising:

When not committing his considerable energies to such intense Bildungsromans as The Wasp Factory or bleak-humored narratives like The Crow Road, Banks inserts an M into “Iain Banks” and writes science fiction novels. Most of these speculative volumes concern the Culture, a utopian-anarchist society that extends across a sizable cluster of the universe. These Culture vultures gambol across the galaxy in ships with such eccentric names as Don’t Try This at Home and Serious Callers Only. Culture citizens live for centuries, and can even change their appearances if they grow discontent with their corpora. These conditions encourage these civilized sybarites to have more fun than a flighty Dalmatian discovering a chiaroscuro sea of spotty companions. Never mind that there’s always an intergalactic war going on.

(2) DOLLAR BLAST. Just as you’d expect superheroes to do: “‘Incredibles 2’ crushes animation box office record”.

The Disney and Pixar film premiered to an estimated $180 million at the domestic box office this weekend. The sequel to the popular 2004 computer animated film soared past the record for biggest animated film opening in box office history by $45 million.

That record belonged to another Pixar film, “Finding Dory,” which opened to roughly $135 million two summers ago.

So far the film brought in $231.5 million around the world.

(3) BIG CAT. Should an owner discourage the ambitions of an SJW credential?

(4) HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED LEX. Some fantastic beasts who practice law in Hollywood are sowing darkness across the land: “Warner Bros. Crackdown Puts Dark Mark Over Harry Potter Festivals”.

Warner Bros. is cracking down on local Harry Potter fan festivals around the country, saying it’s necessary to halt unauthorized commercial activity. Fans, however, liken the move to Dementors sucking the joy out of homegrown fun, while festival directors say they wll transfigure the events into generic celebrations of magic.

“It’s almost as if Warner Bros. has been taken over by Voldemort, trying to use dark magic to destroy the light of a little town,” said Sarah Jo Tucker, a 21-year-old junior at Chestnut Hill College, which hosts a Quidditch tournament that has coincided with an annual Harry Potter festival in suburban Philadelphia.

Philip Dawson, Chestnut Hill’s business district director, said Warner Bros. reached out to his group in May, letting them know new guidelines prohibit festivals’ use of any names, places or objects from the film series. That ruled out everything from meet-and-greet with Dumbledore and Harry to Defense Against the Dark Arts classes.

(5) WELL ABOVE MINIMUM WAGE. Owen King tells readers of The New Yorker about “Recording Audiobooks For My Dad, Stephen King”.

My father gave me my first job, reading audiobooks on cassette tape. He had caught on to the medium early, but, as he explained later, “There were lots of choices as long as you only wanted to hear ‘The Thorn Birds.’ ” So, one day, in 1987, he presented me with a handheld cassette recorder, a block of blank tapes, and a hardcover copy of “Watchers,” by Dean Koontz, offering nine dollars per finished sixty-minute tape of narration.

This was an optimistic plan on my father’s part. Not only was I just ten years old, but when it came to reading aloud I had an infamous track record. My parents and I still read books together each night, and I had recently begun demanding an equal turn as narrator. Along our tour through Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Kidnapped,” I had tested their love with reckless attempts at a Scottish accent for the revolutionary Alan Breck Stewart, whom the novel’s protagonist, David Balfour, befriends. Even as they pleaded for me to stop, I made knee-deep haggis of passages like the following:

“Do ye see my sword? It has slashed the heads off mair whigamores than you have toes upon your feet. Call up your vermin to your back, sir, and fall on! The sooner the clash begins, the sooner ye’ll taste this steel throughout your vitals.”

Despite this, my father enlisted me to narrate “Watchers.”

(6) WHAT A RUSH. It’s not going to take long for Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 2018 to fill up –

(7) ARCHEOVIDEOLOGY. Echo Ishii returns to the history of TV sff in “SF Obscure: Ace of Wands.

Ace of Wands is an ITV fantasy show broadcast in 1971 to 1972. It’s technically a children’s/ family show, but it’s fairly sophisticated and one that held my interest. Ace of Wands ran for three series, however, only the third series remains. At the time, ITV wiped old series due to the high cost of production materials and storage.

(8) CATCHY TITLE. Anna-Marie Abell gave her novel an irresistible name — Holy Crap! The World is Ending!: How a Trip to the Bookstore Led to Sex with an Alien and the Destruction of Earth. For the next couple of days it’s a 99-cent special on Amazon. If somebody reads it they can tell the rest of us whether it lives up to the promise of the cover.

Anna-Marie Abell grew up in a trailer park. Well, several actually. Her trailer was on wheels so she got to experience the Pacific Northwest’s vast array of mobile home parks as her parents moved her from one to the other. Somewhere along the way, she got totally into UFOs. Probably because she was hoping extraterrestrials would come and abduct her. But they never did. Luckily for her she was smart, because her only hope of escaping trailer life was college and a full scholarship. Moving to sunny California on her almost full ride to Chapman University, she was well on her way to her new life. Two bachelor degrees later (Film and Television Production and Media Performance), and several honors and awards for her accomplishments, she managed to start working in an almost completely unrelated industry from her majors: infomercials.

It was in college that she got bit by the “ancient alien” bug after listening to Zecharia Sitchin on Coast to Coast AM. In her pursuit to uncover the truth, she has spent the last twenty years researching the ancient Sumerian culture—in particular their “gods” called the Anunnaki—and their connection to the creation of the human race. What she found changed her life, her beliefs, and her understanding of the universe and everything beyond. Her humorous science fiction trilogy, The Anunnaki Chronicles, is a culmination of all her research, her borderline obsession for all things paranormal, and approximately 2,300 bottles of wine.

(9) FRONT, PLEASE. Dorothy Grant’s “Cover caveats” at Mad Genius Club is a great introduction to the process.

So where do you find your cover art and cover designer? Well, you can search the premade options put together by artists and designers, so you know exactly what it’ll look like when you get the “Your Title” swapped out for your actual title, and “Author Name” swapped for your pen name or real name.

Or you can get one designed for you. If you have no idea what you want or need, this can involve writing up a short description of the book or sending the book to the designer. Be aware that a busy professional designer probably will not read your entire book, but is skimming for worldfeel, character descriptions, possibly an iconic scene.

Or, if you’re a little more artistically inclined, you’ll send the designer / artist basically three sets of URLs.

First, links to bestselling books in the same subgenre that have covers similar to what you want. (send 3, so they can get a feel for what’s standard to that subgenre vs. particular to that single cover.)

Second, Send them URLs from stock photo sites that say “models like this”

Third, URLs from stock photo sites saying “backgrounds like this”

Artists think in pictures, not words, so communicate in visuals as much as possible.

(10) IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS. I watched the first part of Live Slush Session 2 and was intrigued to hear Baen’s publisher and a contributing editor give candid reactions to authors’ manuscripts.

Baen Books’ Publisher Toni Weisskopf and “Slushmaster General” Gray Rinehart read the openings of volunteer submissions to give writers some insight into the evaluation process.

 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian saw how Deadpool celebrates Father’s Day at Brevity.
  • And Ben Solo’s dad featured in yesterday’s Brevity.
  • Mike Kennedy sent along Pearls Before Swine’s suggestion for how to get people to read. (He didn’t say it was a good suggestion….)

(12) ALDEBURGH FESTIVAL. The Stage’s George Hall reviews the opera based on a Silverberg story: “To See the Invisible review at Britten Studio, Snape – ‘a musical patchwork’”.

New at this year’s Aldeburgh Festival, Emily Howard’s chamber opera To See The Invisible has been freely adapted by playwright Selma Dimitrijevic from a taut and distinctly Kafkaesque short story by the American sci-fi writer Robert Silverberg.

The central character has been found guilty of the crime of coldness and is sentenced to a year’s invisibility, during which he is completely ignored by (almost) everyone he meets.

In Dimitrijevic’s libretto the character’s isolation remains severe, though he now has a family consisting of a mother, father and sister. His encounters with them and other individuals – in court, in a public gardens and a brothel – ameliorate his plight while also allowing some of Silverberg’s focused purity to dissipate.

In the opera he also has a kind of shadow in the shape of what the libretto describes as The Other Invisible – Anna Dennis’ female soprano regularly in synch with Nicholas Morris’ baritonal male. The character’s dual vocality is undoubtedly one of the more successful features of Howard’s score….

(13) IT’S NOT EASY BEING MEAN. Olga Polomoshnova analyzes the villain who gave evil a bad name — “On Sauron’s motives” at Middle-Earth Reflections.

Being the chief villain of the Second and Third Ages, Sauron sparks numerous questions concerning his motives. How did he become the evil figure we know him to be? Why did he run the risk of transferring a great amount of his inherent power into the One Ring knowing that it could lead to his destruction? Let us look at his downfall and motives through Tolkien’s own stories and letters.

Having risen like the shadow of Morgoth, Sauron was nevertheless different from his former lord. His downfall arose out of good motives, nor was he the beginner of discord. Sauron belonged to the Maiar — spirits created from Ilúvatar’s thought. He came into existence before the physical world took shape. Originally Sauron, who was known as Mairon (the Admirable) at that time, was associated with the people of Aulë, so he was a very skillful smith….

(14) EATON PHOTOS ONLINE. Andrew Porter labors on, identifying people in Jay Kay Klein’s photos. At the 1967 Worldcon, NYCon 3, this shot of a panel audience showed Walt Liebscher, Ray Fisher, Arnie Katz, Lee Hoffman, and Bob Tucker:

(15) A PENNYFARTHING FOR YOUR THOUGHTS. Ninety years ago, when Frank R. Paul painted his cities of the future, he didn’t include any bicycles at all. Now the BBC is asking — “Tomorrow’s Cities: Will the bike become an urban must-have?”

Fifteen years ago there were just four bike-sharing schemes in cities around the world, but now there are close to 1,000.

Most require you to pick up and leave a bike at a designated area, but new “dockless” schemes from China are coming to cities around the world – and proving controversial.

(16) THE MUMMY DIET. There’s a blog devoted to mummies, and Michele Brittany’s Musing on Mummies is up to “Episode 11: Sokushinbutsu and the Mummification Method Not Often Discussed”.

Ii-wey! Natural or intentional is usually what comes to mind when discussing the process of mummification. Certain environments, deserts, high altitudes or arid cold for example, will naturally dry the deceased, arresting the process of decay as a result. Intentional mummification requires human intervention after a person has died and most often, the Egyptian mummies come to mind. However, there is a third process that is not as well known.

Sokushinbutsu is a Japanese term that refers to a Buddhist mummy that remained incorrupt, or without decay after death….

(17) RADIO FREE BRADBURY. Listen to Ray Bradbury’s Tales of the Bizarre on BBC Radio 4. Four episodes are available online, with three more to come.

(18) NOT THIS WAY. “Astronaut Chris Hadfield says the rockets from NASA, SpaceX, and Blue Origin won’t take people to Mars” — Hadfield told Business Insider why he’s skeptical.

…NASA’s Space Launch System, which is slated to debut in the 2020s, will power its engines with a combination of liquid hydrogen and solid chemical fuels. Blue Origin, the rocket company founded by Jeff Bezos, is also looking to use liquid hydrogen. SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, is staking its future on burning liquid methane, which the company believes it can generate on the Martian surface.

Like other experts, Hadfield doesn’t doubt that any of the vehicles could actually get to Mars; his issue is about the safety of any humans on board. Explosions, radiation, starvation, and other problems would constantly threaten a mission.

“We could send people to Mars, and decades ago. I mean, the technology that took us to the moon back when I was just a kid, that technology can take us to Mars — but it would be at significant risk,” he said. “The majority of the astronauts that we send on those missions wouldn’t make it. They’d die. Because the technology is still quite primitive.”

(19) EMMY TREK. Star Trek: Discovery submitted a long list of material to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in over 20 categories. The full list is available at the linked GoldDerby story: ”’Star Trek: Discovery’ Emmy Submissions: How Many Will it Win?”.

That post also links to a separate story showing Trek Emmy winners from the past series.

The original “Star Trek” series ran from 1966-1969 and didn’t win any Emmys, but it was nominated 13 times, including twice for Best Drama Series (1967-1968). “Star Trek: The Next Generation” followed two decades later and aired for seven seasons from 1987 to 1994, during which time it won a whopping 19 Emmys, all in Creative Arts categories. “TNG” struggled in top races, however, and wasn’t nominated for Best Drama Series until 1994 for its final season.

(20) DON’T QUIXOTE. Terry Gilliam’s tragedy-plagued project is still plagued but it may not be his anymore. Io9 reports: “Terry Gilliam Has Lost the Rights to The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”.

Well, this is a strange new chapter in one of the strangest stories in modern film. For decades, famed genre director (and former Monty Python, uh, snake) Terry Gilliam struggled to make The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, his own surreal take on the classic Spanish novel. He succeeded, finally, with a rendition starring Adam Driver, and the film premiered this year at Cannes Film Festival.

Except, uh, apparently Terry Gilliam just lost the rights to it. Yes, that’s correct: as reported by Screen Rant, the Paris Court of Appeal just ruled in favor of the film’s former producer, Paulo Brancho, who sued for rights to the project on the grounds that Gilliam made the film illegally.

(21) OH NOOO…. When will they make an end? Comicbook.com is spreading the alarm, er, the — “Rumor: ‘Star Wars’ Actor Claims 9 Movies in Development, Including More ‘Story’ Stand-Alones”. Voice actor Tom Kane is said to have claimed there are nine Star Wars movies in some stage of development. Kane has provided voices for Star Wars video games (starting with Shadows of the Empire in 1996), TV shows (Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels), and several of the more recent movies (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi).

Only six of the projects are known:

Disney-owned Lucasfilm also has plans for fan-favorite Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi and famed bounty hunter Boba Fett, who will reportedly receive his own stand-alone from 3:10 to Yuma and Logan director James Mangold.

Lucasfilm is also said to be developing an all-new trilogy under The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson, which will be unconnected to the Skywalker saga depicted in the episodic installments and set in an unexplored corner of the galaxy.
Johnson’s producer, Ram Bergman, recently gave an update on the “completely new trilogy,” saying, “It’s all new characters. Everything is new.” The project, he added, is “just in the early stages.”

Abrams’ Episode IX, Johnson’s planned three-movie series, and two new anthologies in Obi-Wan and Boba Fett make six, leaving three supposed projects on the docket.

[Thanks to Dann, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Rob Thornton, Soon Lee, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, 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 Ky.]

Pixel Scroll 5/6/18 If Pixels Were Zombies, They’d Want To Eat Your Scrolls

(1) CASTING CALL. James Davis Nicoll wants young people for his next project.

I am looking for volunteers for the follow up to Young People Read Old SFF, Young People Listen to Old SF. Participants will get to listen to and react to one moderate length olden timey radio drama per month.

DM me or email me at jdnicoll at panix dot com

(2) NEEDS A PURPOSE. Abigail Nussbaum returns to China Miéville in her latest column “A Political History of the Future: The City & The City” at Lawyers, Guns & Money.

…Introducing a premise like The City & The City without tying it into current political issues feels like a much less tenable proposition right now. And yet this is what the BBC did in its recent miniseries adaptation of the book. As an adaptation, the miniseries is dutiful but not very exciting. It does a good job of transposing the book’s technique, of slowly revealing its setting until we finally realize that there is nothing going on except a mass delusion, to a more visual medium. In one particularly memorable scene, Borlú and his assistant, Lizbyet Corwi, speak on their cellphones, he from Ul Qoma and she in Bes?el. The camera cuts between them as we’d expect from any TV series trying to convey that two characters are in different physical spaces. Then it pulls back to reveal that Borlú and Corwi are sitting on the same bench, which is half in one city and half in the other. The series also does a good job of beefing up the roles of women, giving Corwi more to do, changing the gender of Borlú’s Ul Qoman counterpart, and even giving her a wife. (A similar impetus might have been at the root of a new subplot involving the disappearance of Borlú’s wife, but it just ends up reading like the common trope of motivating a man by having a woman suffer.)

Still, one has to wonder why you’d even try to adapt this novel, at this moment in time, if you weren’t willing to change it enough so that it actually says something…

(3) WHEN YOU CARE ENOUGH. Just came across this today. As we say around here, it’s always news to someone. From Know Your Meme.

(4) 2001 RETURNING TO THEATERS. The director of Dunkirk finds more use for 70 mm projectors installed to show his film: “Christopher Nolan returns Kubrick sci-fi masterpiece ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ to its original glory”.

Christopher Nolan wants to show me something interesting. Something beautiful and exceptional, something that changed his life when he was a boy.

It’s also something that Nolan, one of the most accomplished and successful of contemporary filmmakers, has persuaded Warner Bros. to share with the world both at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival and then in theaters nationwide, but in a way that boldly deviates from standard practice.

For what is being cued up in a small, hidden-away screening room in an unmarked building in Burbank is a brand new 70-mm reel of film of one of the most significant and influential motion pictures ever made, Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 science-fiction epic “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Yes, you read that right. Not a digital anything, an actual reel of film that was for all intents and purposes identical to the one Nolan saw as a child and Kubrick himself would have looked at when the film was new half a century ago.

(5) NEW SFF MAGAZINE. The inaugural issue of Vulture Bones: Spec Fic from Trans & Enby Voices is out. See the table of contents here.

Vulture Bones is a quarterly speculative fiction magazine showcasing the voices of transgender and nonbinary writers.

Vulture Bones is what is left when everything useful is harvested, even the gamey meat of scavengers.

Vulture Bones is the name of a bald and genderless sharpshooter with thirteen enemies and one bullet left.

Vulture Bones is something morbid and foundational.

Vulture Bones is a wild ride.

(6) STAFFCON. Kevin Standlee takes you inside the room where it happened this weekend – “StaffCon”.

“StaffCon” for Worldcon 76 planning had over 100 people registered, using the same RegOnline system that the convention itself is using. Today was a chance to do a bit of a dry run of what on-site registration would be like, and to discover some bugs now while there is a chance to adjust them and make things better for the actual convention. After the initial morning session, there were numerous impromptu meetings (including a short WSFS division meeting with the four members of the division who are actually here), followed by groups touring the San Jose Convention Center. There’s an event moving in today, so we couldn’t get at everything, but everyone got a decently good look around before the lunch break. The break allowed people to spread out and find places to get lunch within a short distance of the convention center. There are many such places (far more than there were sixteen years ago).

(7) GET FINALISTS TO THE WORLDCON. The GoFundMe to bring Campbell Award finalist Rivers Solomon to Worldcon 76 reached its goal, and now additional money is being raised to help get more Hugo and Campbell finalists to the ceremony. Mary Robinette Kowal wrote in an Update:

Folks, we’ve got two additional Campbell finalists who could use a boost getting to the Hugos. I’ve got a form set up for additional finalists.

Let’s see how many we can get to the ceremony.

Need help? The link to the application is in Update #2.

(8) GOLLANCZ OBIT & KERFUFFLE. A trade publication’s obituary about Livia Gollancz (1920-2018), who once ran UK publisher Gollancz, a major publisher and now imprint of sf, got pushback from the imprint’s current editor.

For anyone under 40, Gollancz is merely a science fiction imprint—“the oldest specialist sci-fi and fantasy (SFF) publisher in the UK.” Gollancz indeed published many award-winning and successful SFF authors, J G Ballard and Terry Pratchett among them, but Gollancz is far more important than that, which makes the story of its last two decades a tragedy.

Victor Gollancz, a classics graduate from Oxford, was just 30 when he set up his eponymous company in 1927. He published George Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier, and Kingsley Amis’ Lucky Jim, as well as books by Ford Madox Ford, Daphne du Maurier, Franz Kafka and Vera Brittain. On his daughter Livia’s watch, Julia Hales’ The Green Consumer Guide and Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch were trendsetting bestsellers….

I was genuinely shocked to see the comments about Gollancz in Livia Gollancz’s obituary published in The Bookseller. To describe a beloved publishing list as “merely a science fiction imprint” and its last two decades as a “tragedy” is offensive to my colleagues; our authors and fans; our reviewers and bloggers; fellow SFF publishers; and to the wider genre community. While everyone has a right to their personal opinion and literary preferences, to air such a definitive bias against genre fiction in the obituary of our former owner was troubling and frankly insulting.

It is easy to point out how many of the greatest works ever written are SF or Fantasy titles. From the Iliad to Jules Verne, to George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, to The Handmaid’s Tale, right up to Naomi Alderman’s The Power, speculative fiction has been an unrivalled way of exploring our world and society. It is just as easy—as your publication has demonstrated—to dismiss that claim by saying those books are ”proper” literary novels not “merely SFF”.

That argument is nonsense. Worse, it is prejudiced and badly informed nonsense….

  • Bookseller editor Philip Jones apologized.

My comments on the diminution of Victor Gollancz should not be interpreted as a slight on the proud history of SF publishing itself, at Gollancz or anywhere else. Rather it is a reminder, to readers and publishers too young to remember the “old” Gollancz, that Victor Gollancz Ltd was a leader in so many ways and an independent powerhouse that set standards and trends in both adult and children’s publishing….

(9) BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born May 6, 1915 – Orson Welles

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) AURORA AWARDS HEADS-UP. Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association members have until May 26 to nominate eligible works for the Aurora Awards – see the nominations page.

(12) KEEP YOUR SUIT ON. In this Wired video, Chris Hadfield makes nude space walks sound even less attractive than they already did. And that’s just for starters.

Retired astronaut Chris Hadfield helps debunk (and confirm!) some common myths about space. Is there any sound in space? Does space smell like burnt steak? Is NASA working on warp speed?

 

(13) HURTS SO GOOD. I keep reading Galactic Journey despite Gideon Marcus’ tendency to break my teen-aged fannish heart. It’s bad enough the things he says about every issue of Analog. Now he’s lighting into one of young Mike’s all-time favorite sf novels (in the hardcover version, Way Station): “[May 6, 1963] The more things change… (June 1963 Galaxy)”.

The proud progressive flagship [Galaxy] appears to be faltering, following in the footsteps of Campbell’s reactionary Analog.  It’s not all bad, exactly.  It’s just nothing new…and some of it is really bad.  Is it a momentary blip?  Or is Editor Pohl saving the avante-garde stuff for his other two magazines?

…Simak is one of the great veterans of our field, and he has been a staple of Galaxy since its inception.  He is unmatched when it comes to evoking a bucolic charm, and he has a sensitive touch when conveying people (human or otherwise).  This particular tale begins promisingly, but it meanders a bit, and it frequently repeats itself.  Either over-padded or under-edited, it could do with about 15% fewer words.  Three stars so far, but I have a feeling the next half will be better….

Next he’ll be telling Mozart “too many notes”!

(14) SPOCK IN OREGON. As long as we’re revisiting the Sixties, here’s Leonard Nimoy to tell you all about his Star Trek character….

Interview from 1967 conducted by KGW-TV, a news station in Portland, Oregon. This was rediscovered in 2010 in their film archives. Nimoy talks at length about playing Mr. Spock on “Star Trek”, then in its second season.

 

(15) TAKEI IN BOSTON. George Takei is still with us – and in the public eye: “‘Star Trek’ actor George Takei to speak at Boston library” on May 8.

Star Trek” actor George Takei (tuh-KAY’) is scheduled to speak at the Boston Public Library.

Takei on Tuesday is set to discuss his experience during World War II spent in U.S. internment camps for Japanese-Americans.

Takei used his family’s story as the inspiration for the Broadway musical “Allegiance.”

The show tells the narrative of the fictional Kimura family, whose lives are upended when they and 120,000 other Japanese-Americans are forced to leave their homes following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

The cast of the SpeakEasy Stage Company’s production of Takei’s musical also will perform during the event at the library’s main branch at Copley (KAHP’-lee) Square.

(16) IT’S DEAD, JIM. Self-conscious about your Latin pronunciation? Let @Botanygeek James Wong put you at ease. Jump on the thread here:

(17) WELL THAT SUCKS. Once more, a story goes viral only to yield a dud: “Egypt says no hidden rooms in King Tut’s tomb after all”.

New radar scans have provided conclusive evidence that there are no hidden rooms inside King Tutankhamun’s burial chamber, Egypt’s antiquities ministry said Sunday, bringing a disappointing end to years of excitement over the prospect.

Mostafa Waziri, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said an Italian team conducted extensive studies with ground-penetrating radar that showed the tomb did not contain any hidden, man-made blocking walls as was earlier suspected. Francesco Porcelli of the Polytechnic University of Turin presented the findings at an international conference in Cairo.

“Our work shows in a conclusive manner that there are no hidden chambers, no corridors adjacent to Tutankhamun’s tomb,” Porcelli said, “As you know there was a theory that argued the possible existence of these chambers but unfortunately our work is not supporting this theory.”

(18) BRAIN DEATH. Vice headline: “This Neurologist Found Out What Happens to Our Brains When We Die”.  German neurologists Jens Dreier and Jed Hartings have published a study about what happens to the human brain while dying. It turns out some of the details are remarkably like that discussed in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Skin of Evil” during the death of character Tasha Yar.

…if German neurologist Jens Dreier had just binged enough Star Trek: The Next Generation, he could have already known the outcome of his groundbreaking research, which the sci-fi series predicted 30 years ago.

Dreier works at the Charité Hospital in Berlin, one of Germany’s leading university hospitals. In February, the 52-year-old and his colleague, Jed Hartings, published a study that details what happens to our brain at the point of death. It describes how the brain’s neurons transmit electrical signals with full force one last time before they completely die off. Though this phenomenon, popularly known in the medical community as a “brain tsunami”, had previously only been seen in animals, Dreier and Hartings were able to show it in humans as they died. Their work goes on to suggest that in certain circumstances, the process could be stopped entirely, theorising that it could be done if enough oxygen is supplied to the brain before the cells are destroyed.

Soon after their discovery, the two researchers also found out that a 1988 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation shows chief physician Beverly Crusher trying to revive Lieutenant Tasha Yar, while clearly describing the exact processes the neurologists have been trying to understand for years. I spoke to Dreier about their discovery and how it feels to be beaten by a TV show by three decades.

And didn’t Connie Willis’ Passage make use of this premise as well?

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Karl-Johan Norén, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Carl Slaughter, ULTRAGOTHA, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Jay Byrd, Avilyn, Alan Baumler, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 1/22/17 How Do We Tell If A Scroll is Made of Pixels?

By JJ:

(1) MOVING FORWARD. ScreenRant broke the news that Wonder Woman 2 will be the first film to adopt the Anti-Sexual Harassment Guidelines announced on Friday by the Producers Guild of America, prior to their annual awards gala.

As reported by Variety, the PGA’s board of directors voted unanimously to ratify the new guidelines, which were then issued to the organization’s 8,200 members. PGA presidents Gary Lucchesi and Lori McCreary said of the guidelines:

Sexual harassment can no longer be tolerated in our industry or within the ranks of the Producers Guild membership. We provide key leadership in creating and sustaining work environments built on mutual respect, so it is our obligation to change our culture and eradicate this abuse. While the PGA is a voluntary membership organization, the PGA’s Anti-Sexual Harassment Guidelines are sanctioned as best practices for our members.

The Wonder Woman sequel being the first film to officially adopt these guidelines certainly makes sense considering the character’s position as a role model for girls and women everywhere (though that might not necessarily be why it will be the first to adopt the guidelines). Additionally, Jenkins’ Wonder Woman broke records for movies directed by women, solidifying it as a major step forward for gender representation in terms of Hollywood directors. Further, it was reported last year while Jenkins and Gadot were negotiating their deals for the sequel that the actress refused to sign on for Wonder Woman 2 unless Warner Bros. cut ties with Brett Ratner’s production company RatPac for the film. (Ratner was accused of sexual misconduct by a number of women, including X-Men: The Last Stand’s Ellen Page.)

(2) THE WRITING BOAT IS OPEN FOR BOARDING: Dan Wells from the Writing Excuses podcast announced that applications are open for their 2018 Writing Excuses Retreat Scholarship:

The sixth annual Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat makes a triumphant return to the Caribbean Sea! We begin in Houston, TX, on September 22; we’ll visit Roatan, Belize City, and Cozumel; and then we’ll end up back in Houston again on September 30. You can find all the other info, including our incredible guest list, here.

We are also delighted to report that we are offering more scholarships in 2018 than ever before: five! One of these is sponsored by the hosts of Writing Excuses, one by our amazing patrons on Patreon, and three (3) by our incredibly awesome alumni. They’ve been on the retreat (sometimes more than once), they love it, and they want to share it with as many people as possible.

As always, our scholarships come in two categories: three Out of Excuses Scholarships, awarded to those in financial need, and two Carl Brandon Society Scholarships, awarded to writers of color. Both categories have introduced us to some incredible writers in the past, and we can’t wait to see who we get to meet this year. Share this post with everyone you know, read the rules carefully, and apply!

Workshop presenters announced thus far include Amal El-Mohtar, Piper Drake, Maurice Broaddus, Kathy Chung, K Tempest Bradford, Valynne E Maetani, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler.

(3) I SEE YOU SHIVER WITH ANTICI

(4) FURY STILL TO BE UNLEASHED. On an update to the Kickstarter for the Hath No Fury anthology of fantasy, science fiction, and urban fantasy tales featuring lead characters inspired by women from literature, history, and film, editor Melanie R. Meadors announced that Outland Entertainment has committed to complete the anthology after the original publisher, Ragnarok Publications, shut down:

The good news is that Outland Entertainment has absorbed all the rights to Ragnarok’s anthologies. The books will continue to be in print, and Hath No Fury will be published as well. The files for the books are currently being processed so that they have the copyright and logo info updated, and Hath No Fury is being sent to the printer. There has been a super long delay with that, and Outland wants you to know they are really sorry about that. The money Ragnarok received for this Kickstarter had been used for other business expenses by Ragnarok, and so Outland had to figure things out in order to get backer rewards paid for out of their own pocket. The money to pay for all printing expenses and shipping, etc for the Kickstarter backers is now earmarked and ready to go, however, and the only delay right now is with printing – in order for printing to be done as efficiently as possible, Outland is doing a batch printing order with another project, and they just had to wait for that to finish up in order to submit the job.

I know you folks have been itching to get your hands on the books, and communications have been sparse. I apologize for that. Outland wanted to be sure to try to get accurate information out there instead of giving a lot of false starts and dates based on hopes. I don’t have an exact date yet (the head of the other project’s mother just passed away, so as soon as he’s back to work, I can get more details on that), but it WILL be this spring, and the money for the printing and processing IS earmarked and will not be going anywhere. I’m really grateful to Outland for helping to make all this happen, especially for absorbing such a huge cost to them for fulfilling the Kickstarter. More details are forthcoming as far as what is shipping when, and when folks can expect to get surveys. Again, I apologize for the delays and the gaps in communication, but going forward we should see some real progress.

The Kickstarter had more than doubled its $14,500 goal, receiving $32,047 in pledges.

(5) KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY MAUSOLEUM. Tina Romero, daughter of the grand master of zombie horror George A. Romero, will be directing zombie movie Queens Of The Dead, according to ScienceFiction.com:

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as it now looks like Tina Romero is going to be directing a new feature film titled Queens of the Dead. With George A. Romero creating the modern zombie and his son Cameron busy at work with Rise of the Living Dead, it seems like the undead are becoming a family affair. Tina had previously announced that she was working on a new horror web-series with Tom Savini but now that partnership will also have a new movie as well.

There is no news if this movie will be part of the Night of the Living Dead universe or set in her own world and will just be paying tribute to her father’s work with the title.

As to what the movie will be about and what inspired her to do it?

“Queens of the Dead is a fusion of two huge parts of my world: zombies and Gay nightlife. It’s a tribute to my father as well as my entrée into the genre he grandfathered. I can’t say too much yet, but what I can tell you is that this film will have all the hallmarks of a George A. Romero classic: farce, politics, heroes, assholes, and most importantly, herds of silly and slow-moving walkers that you can’t help but love. But I’m doing it Tina-style, and bringing the glitter, choreography, queers & queens.”

Basically, it boils down to showing us “the zombie apocalypse, seen through the eyes of the patrons at a drag nightclub.” Now, that is an idea which hasn’t been done before and could prove to be full of humor and heart.

(6) DARKNESS FALLS. All 1,225 Episodes of vintage TV series Dark Shadows have been released on Amazon Prime Streaming, says Bloody Disgusting:

Depicting the lives, loves, trials and tribulations of the wealthy Collins family of Collinsport, Maine, where a number of supernatural occurrences take place, the American gothic television series “Dark Shadows” aired from June 27, 1966, to April 2, 1971 on ABC. The show ran for five years, delivering a staggering 1,225 episodes.

As of this week, you can stream EVERY episode through Amazon Prime US & UK!

The Wikipedia entry for the cult series offers this description:

The series became hugely popular when vampire Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) appeared ten months into its run. Dark Shadows also featured ghosts, werewolves, zombies, man-made monsters, witches, warlocks, time travel, and a parallel universe. A small company of actors each played many roles; as actors came and went, some characters were played by more than one actor.

Dark Shadows was distinguished by its vividly melodramatic performances, atmospheric interiors, memorable storylines, numerous dramatic plot twists, adventurous music score, broad cosmos of characters and heroic adventures.

(7) SETTING PRIORITIES. The NASA History Office came up with this gem right before they turned out the lights:

(8) GOODNIGHT EARTH. In a lengthy piece, “What Happens to Astronauts During a Government Shutdown?“, The Atlantic verifies that the astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) won’t be completely abandoned:

As the wheels of the U.S. government ground to a halt Friday at midnight, thousands of federal employees prepared to face days or weeks without work or pay until their offices reopened.

Some employees will continue working through the government shutdown, however, including the three with the longest commute: NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Joseph Acaba, and Scott Tingle. Despite the political tussle that closed most of the government on Saturday, the American part of the International Space Station remains open for business. Mission-control staff, considered “essential” personnel, will keep working, too, to support the astronauts.

Phew. And, well, obviously! After all, NASA can’t exactly press pause on the work of keeping humans alive in microgravity 200 miles above Earth, even if Congress missed the deadline for the government running out of money.

“To protect the life of the crew as well as the assets themselves, we would continue to support planned operations of the ISS during any funding hiatus,” states a NASA plan, published in November, that outlines protocols for a potential government shutdown.

(9) HOUSTON, CAN YOU READ ME? Former ISS Commander Chris Hadfield reminisces about the last time the lights went out:

(10) QUICK, WHILE THEY’RE NOT LOOKING.

(11) SAY, ARE YOU RELATED TO…? Author and Filer Laura Resnick posted a diary of an unnamed convention where she was a guest, exposing the sordid truth concealed behind the glamorous myths about a midlist writer’s life. Here’s a spine-tingling excerpt:

At dinner, am required to sit at assigned table and be available to interested attendees.

Overhear attendees say, “All the good seats are taken, I guess we’ll have to sit here,” a moment before they sit down at my table.

Table gradually fills up with disappointed attendees who had hoped to sit with someone better than me at this meal.

No one at table sits next to me. The chairs are empty on either side of me. I suggest someone might like to sit closer to me. No response.

Nearest person on left asks me, “Are you any relation to Mike Resnick, the science fiction writer?”

I respond, “Yes, he’s my dad.”

Ten minutes later, nearest person on right asks me, “Are you any relation to Mike Resnick?”

(Old man will enjoy this. Must make sure he never finds out.)

Otherwise, not much said to me throughout meal.

(12) A FUTURE INFORMED BY BLACKNESS. Mic, a digital news media site, discusses revolutionary Afrofuturistic elements in “Black Panther isn’t just another Marvel movie – it’s a vision of a future led by blackness.”

Wakanda is more than just a fun spectacle; it represents something much more magnificent and powerful – a version of Africa unaffected by the external world, one that was allowed to pursue its own march toward spectacular progress.

When the most recent trailer for the movie was released in October, people weren’t just excited, they were jubilant. Now, it’s an event pretty much every time there’s a new Marvel movie but – no disrespect to Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, etc. – those blockbusters don’t normally have an entire culture of people impatiently awaiting their release. So what makes Black Panther especially noteworthy?

The secret sauce of Marvel’s Black Panther is Afrofuturism – an arts form that combines science fiction with black culture to create a future informed by blackness. On its face, Black Panther masquerades as Marvel’s latest superhero flick. Dig deeper and you’ll find the movie’s true identity: an Africa-set, Afrofuturist film – made for black people, by black people – powered by a Disney budget.

(13) CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. New York native Frederick Joseph’s GoFundMe campaign to set up screening of Black Panther for children has gone viral, says ABC News.

Joseph knew he wanted to give back to his community in some way and with the highly-anticipated Black Panther hitting theaters next month, he decided to try and raise funds to send a few hundred kids from the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem for free.

But what has happened over the last few days since his GoFundMe page launched is something straight out of the pages of Marvel Comics.

Joseph’s original goal of $10,000 has been well surpassed and now stands at around $25,000 and climbing. More than 500 people have donated. The campaign also boasts support from Chelsea Clinton, J.J. Abrams and ESPN’s Jamele Hill.

After seeing his goals exceeded so quickly and enthusiastically, Josephs issued the #BlackPantherChallenge:

… start a @gofundme to buy tickets for kids in your city to see Black Panther. If you’re a teacher, buy tickets for your entire classroom. If you’re a coach, take your team. If you’re a community leader, do some organizing and get the kids and parents in your community to the theater. 10 campaigns that answer the #BlackPantherChallenge will receive a $100 donation from GoFundMe.

Comicbook.com reports that rapper Snoop Dogg has announced that he will fund one of the NYC screenings and a screening for kids in Los Angeles, as well as donating funds to Joseph’s GoFundMe campaign.

Joseph’s GoFundMe now stands at $42,642 of $10,000 goal.

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:

(15) FINALLY NAMING NAMES. Compulsive list-maker and Filer James Davis Nicoll has made the first in a new series of posts over at Tor.com, Fighting Erasure: Women SF Writers of the 1970s, A Through F.

You may have been annoyed by recurrent comments from a certain surprisingly flammable Waterloo-region reviewer. He complains about the erasure from SF memory of women writing SF back in the 1970s – but has that reviewer ever bother to name names? Suggest books? I think not. It is time to confront the erasure directly. Forward! Excelsior!

In an attempt to keep this list to a manageable length, I will focus on women authors who first published in the 1970s. That means skipping some significant authors who were already active at the time. I also reserve the right to cheat a bit by including a few works published after the 1970s. I am also going to break this list into several installments, beginning with A through F. Which should tell you just how many women have been erased. Whole binders full of women.

(16) SO THAT’S WHAT’S UNDER THERE. In a comment on File770, RedWombat (aka Ursula Vernon) says:

I went through what I called an “objectified Scotsman” phase about two months ago. A very specific, very silly genre, mostly tied to kilts, existence thereof, and what may or may not be worn underneath them.

You have to be absolutely in it for the romance, there is no comedy of manners, and they run INTENSELY formulaic (and I say this as one who respects romance enormously as a genre, couldn’t write it, and believe it deserves an immense amount of respect) but they are hella fun for comfort reads.

Structure goes as follows:

Act One: Arranged Marriage

HIM: I hate the English.

HER: Goddamn.

Act Two: Love

HIM: I still hate the English, but this one’s mine.

HER: Hot damn!

Act Three: The Clans Go To War

HIM: Let’s kill those other English!

HER: Oh, damn.

(17) THE TOR BOYCOTT HAS SUCCEEDED.

(18) NOW THAT YOU MENTION IT. Angered by what he apparently perceived to be too many “girl cooties” ruining his childhood in The Last Jedi, a Mens’ Rights Activist released last week a version of the 152-minute movie called “The Last Jedi De-Feminized Fanedit”, with the female characters almost completely excised. The resulting movie is (wait for it…) 46 minutes long. Dorkly’s Tristan Cooper takes one for the team and reports on the result.

I know. Part of you kind of wants to see this tragic, insecure shitshow. Don’t worry, you don’t have to scrub through the sketchier side of the internet just to satisfy your morbid curiosity – I’ve already done that for you. I watched the De-Feminized Fanedit of The Last Jedi, and I can tell you with authority that it’s even worse than you think…

In response, Twitter user Logan James released his own gender-edited films:

(19) MOTOR CITY COMIC MADNESS. SFF Author Saladin Ahmed has a new comic book, Abbott, debuting on January 24, set in 1972 Detroit. The Detroit Free Press gives us the lowdown:

Whether she’s arriving at a crime scene, standing up to her boss or just listening at home to John Coltrane albums, Elena Abbott is cool.

So cool that the fictional newspaper reporter is the title character of a new comic book series set in 1972’s “two Detroits: one white, one black” – a place where “the former would rather leave the city than truly share it with the latter.”

(20) BUT WAIT UNTIL AFTER THEIR BEDTIME. I’m Going to Outer Space by Timothy Young is a picture book for your little SF lover – and for the adults who will delight in spotting the Enterprise, a Space:1999 Eagle, and the Jupiter-Two among the spacecraft in the illustrations, and Bender, Robby, “the Robot”, Daleks, Maria, and many other old friends among the robots in the illustrations. An Amazon reviewer describes it as “the Where’s Waldo? for science fiction fans”.

(21) THAT’LL TAKE THE WIND OUT OF YOUR CAPE.

(22) FOLLOWING IN HIS FATHER’S STARSTEPS. Director Duncan Jones, whose film Moon won a Hugo Award in 2010, has produced another science-fiction movie Mute, which will debut on Netflix on February 23. Jones is better known in some quarters as the son of The Man Who Fell to Earth, David Bowie.

 [Thanks to Andrew, Bonnie McDaniel, Chris M., Cora Buhlert, Hampus Eckerman, James Davis Nicoll, lauowolf, Laura Resnick, Lee Billings, Mark-kitteh, Paul Weimer, RedWombat, Robin A. Reid, and ULTRAGOTHA for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 Contributing Editor of the Day JJ.]

Pixel Scroll 11/18/16 R.U.R. Or R.U.Ain’t (My Baby)

(1) PETALS TO THE METAL. At Young People Read Old SFF, curator James Davis Nicoll is a little worried:

My hit rate for this series so far has been… somewhat lower than I hoped. It’s not that I am going out of my way to find older SF stories that do not consistently appeal to younger people; it is just that I turn out to have a remarkable talent for finding older SF stories that do not consistently appeal to younger people.

So this time he pulled out one of the greatest short stories in the genre,  Daniel Keyes’ “Flowers for Algernon”. Turns out his young audience wasn’t all that fired-up about it, either. Which reminds me of a favorite joke:

A dog food company once held a convention for its sales force. The president got up and said, “We have the greatest product in the world!” Everybody applauded. “We have the best sales people in the industry!” The cheered wildly. “So,” asked the president, “why aren’t we selling any dog food?” A little man in the back got up and shouted, “It’s the damn dogs, sir! They don’t like it!”

(2) DON’T STAND UNDERNEATH WHEN THEY FLY BY. The odds say that these things are supposed to crash in the ocean. Except when they don’t. “The Space Debris Problem: Dual Impact In Myanmar Shows What’s To Come”.

A mining facility in northern Myanmar became the crash site of a huge piece of space debris last Thursday. As the impact occurred, a smaller piece of debris with Chinese markings on it simultaneously destroyed the roof of a house in a nearby village. Fortunately, no one was injured in either incident.

The larger object is barrel-shaped and measures about 4.5 meters (15 ft) long, with a diameter barely over a meter. “The metal objects are assumed to be part of a satellite or the engine parts of a plane or missile,” a local news report said. The Chinese government is neither confirming nor denying whether both pieces of space junk came from the same object.

(3) FIGHT INTERNMENT. George Takei’s op-ed in the Washington Post reacts against talk about rounding up Muslims and reminds people of what happened when we interned the Japanese — “They interned my family. Don’t let them do it to Muslims”.

There is dangerous talk these days by those who have the ear of some at the highest levels of government. Earlier this week, Carl Higbie, an outspoken Trump surrogate and co-chair of Great America PAC, gave an interview with Megyn Kelly of Fox News. They were discussing the notion of a national Muslim registry, a controversial part of the Trump administration’s national security plans, when Higbie dropped a bombshell: “We did it during World War II with Japanese, which, you know, call it what you will,” he said. Was he really citing the Japanese American internment, Kelly wanted to know, as grounds for treating Muslims the same way today? Higbie responded that he wasn’t saying we should return to putting people in camps. But then he added, “There is precedent for it.”

Stop and consider these words. The internment was a dark chapter of American history, in which 120,000 people, including me and my family, lost our homes, our livelihoods, and our freedoms because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. Higbie speaks of the internment in the abstract, as a “precedent” or a policy, ignoring the true human tragedy that occurred….

(4) THE FRANCHISE THAT LIVED. The BBC renders a verdict — “Film review: Is Fantastic Beasts a Rowling triumph?” Chip Hitchcock says, “tl;dr version: way too many characters for one movie. Rowling says it’s the first of five; sounds a bit like the opening episode ST:TNG, which spent most of its time setting up the main players.”

As exhilarating as all the new sights and sounds are, though, it’s soon apparent that Rowling et al are enjoying their relocation a little too much. A major flaw of the later Harry Potter films was that they crammed in so many characters and incidents from the ever-longer novels that they were baffling to anyone who didn’t know the books by heart. What’s slightly disappointing about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is that, even though it isn’t adapted from a novel, it has a similar problem. Rowling’s superabundant imagination won’t let the story build up momentum: she keeps shoving minor characters and irrelevant details in its path.

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • November 18, 1928— Mickey Mouse appeared for the first time, with Walt Disney doing the voice of his soon-to-be-famous creation, in “Steamboat Willie,” the first fully synchronized sound cartoon produced.
  • November 18, 1963 — Push-button telephones made their debut. John King Tarpinian was one of the early button-pushers:

I remember being at the County Fair and there was a display with kiosks.  You used a rotary phone to dial your number then using a push-button phone you dialed a random phone number.  The elapsed time was displayed and you saw how much faster the push-button phone was compared to the rotary.

  • November 18, 1990 — Stephen King’s It premieres on TV.

(6) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. Actor Charles Bronson appeared in the 1953 horror classic House of Wax as Vincent Price’s assistant, Igor. Bronson is credited under his real name, Charles Buchinsky.

(7) ABOLISHING A EUPHEMISM. NPR’s Glen Weldon says “The Term ‘Graphic Novel’ Has Had A Good Run. We Don’t Need It Anymore”.

…And all the other, sillier, less meaningful stuff. Science fiction, or whatever.

Oy. OK. Lots to unpack here, and, to be fair, at lot of it’s our fault. Comics readers and creators, that is.

By the time the great cartoonist Will Eisner slapped the term “graphic novel” on his 1978 book, A Contract With God and Other Tenement Stories, the term had been percolating around comics fandom for years. Eisner, however, was a tireless advocate, and wanted people to appreciated that comics are a medium, not a genre. A medium dominated, then as now, by superheroes, but nevertheless a storytelling medium that could be used to tell an infinite number of stories in vastly different ways.

Which is why—

Um, OK. It looks like you’re ramping up. I’m gonna … I’m just gonna grab a seat then.

Fine, go ahead.

The reason Eisner latched onto the term “graphic novel” and ran with it is because … well, it was 1978. He needed to. Comics were considered, if they were considered at all, junk culture. Kid stuff that was beneath serious notice, if not beneath contempt….

Chip Hitchcock comments: “They use Gaiman’s less-colorful metaphor; when he spoke in NYC a decade or so back, he said someone who insisted he did ‘graphic novels’ made him feel like a streetwalker being told she was a lady of the night.”

(8) CHESTNUTS ROASTING. Annalee Newitz lists “All the science fiction and fantasy novels you need to make it through the winter” at Ars Technica.

Everfair, by Nisi Shawl

2016 was a good year for alternate histories, and Shawl’s thought experiment about 19th century colonialism in Everfair is no exception. In this alternate reality, Fabian socialists in Britain manage to team up with African-American missionaries to buy part of the Belgian Congo from King Leopold II, establishing the free African nation of Everfair. Based on an actual historical plan that never came to fruition, the novel imagines how Everfair would develop, changing the history of other colonized African nations as its population swells with American former slaves and liberated peoples of the Congo. Though there is a strong Utopian core to the novel, Shawl does not shy away from depicting thorny, internecine battles between different groups who have opposing definitions of freedom. Plus, we get to see how Everfair develops breathtaking new technologies. Shawl has done incredible research on the history of the Congo, and it shows. This is steampunk done right, with all the tarnish, sweat, and blood visible on the gears of the world’s great industrial technologies.

(9) AH, THAT EXPLAINS IT. I wondered why Vox Day kept using this as a figure for Trump. James McConnaughy makes the connection in “#NotMyGodEmperor: Why Are There So Many Actual Fascists in the Warhammer 40K Fandom?” at The Mary Sue.

That’s ridiculous, I told myself. There’s absolutely no way they could be genuinely identifying with the Imperium of Man or its fascist power structure. After all, the Imperium of Man is a parody of fascism, and not a particularly subtle one at that, since the game constantly talks about how much life sucks and how the authoritarianism causes more problems than it solves. They’d have to be blind to not see that Warhammer 40k is… kid…ding.

Oh. Oh no.

Let’s stop for a moment and talk about satire, because I like hard shifts like that. The problem with satire (or, more directly, the problem with writing satire) is that it has a goal, beyond simply being funny. Satire is pointed, it has a purpose, it is, to use a phrase I often dislike, saying something. More specifically, satire is saying something by taking something it wishes to criticize and blowing it up to absurd proportions.

And therein lies the problem: Satire is always walking the razor’s edge. By using the words and concepts of the thing you are satirizing, you are often giving voice to those words and concepts, and someone out there is going to agree with those words, not the actual point of your satire. That’s the basis of Poe’s Law: Without a blatant display of comedy, it is impossible to create a parody of extremism or fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.

(10) PLONK YOUR MAGIC TWANGER. The Financial Times has a regular feature about the one thing people take with them when they travel.  Chris Hadfield explained in the November 12 issue why he always carries his guitar with him.

He explains that on his first trip to the Mir space station in 1995 he had a special guitar made by Wright Guitars where owner Rossco Wright “adapted one for me, cutting the neck in half and putting a locking piano hinge on it so it would fold and fit in the shuttle.  I had to get approval from Nasa:  from the highest level, the director of the space shuttle programme.”

“Just before the flight while I was in quarantine, I got  a call from the payloads people saying that although Nasa had approved it, the Russians weren’t gonna let me take the guitar on to Mir because it hadn’t passed all the electromagnetic and flammability tests.  So some people from Nasa came to my house, found my spare SoloEtte, did all the testing and passed the results to Russia.  We launched–still without permission from the Russians–and I assembled the guitar on Mir, but we weren’t allowed to plug it in.  Then,. as we were doing a press conference with Russian prime minister Victor Cheromydin, he said, ‘I understand you have a new guitar–play me a song.’  That sounded like permission, so we played a concert on Mir, and nothing caught fire or blew up.”

Hadfield says that the Larivee Parlour guitar Hadfield used to cover “Space Odyssey” in 2013 “was put there” in the International Space Station “for psychological support (along with books, movies, a harmonica and a couple of footballs” and has been in space since 2001.

(11) SPIGOT, RHYMES WITH… In October, Alexandra Erin created a satirical news feed on Medium called The Daily Spigot. She tells her Patreon supporters that she intended it to be daily, but that illness and the election interrupted her momentum; however, she has started writing new posts again. The latest is: “Trump Asking Every Business In Phone Book About Mexico Plans”

This reporter was allowed into Donald Trump’s private office to witness the real estate developer turned job saver in action.

“Hello, Triple A All-American Locksmiths?” he asked during a typical such call. “This is the President of the United States. That’s right,” he said, while an aide frantically mouthed the words “no, no, no” and another scrawled, “You have to stop saying that” on a piece of paper, which was then pushed across the desk to Trump, who frowned at it, signed it, then pushed it away.

“I’m just calling to see if you had any plans on moving your plant or any jobs to Mexico in, say, the next two months to four years? No? Great! Tremendous. Thanks a bunch. Make America great again!”

He then hung up the phone and said, “That’s another one for the Twitter.”

(12) GROWING UP GROOT. CinemaBlend poses some knotty questions in “How Groot Will Be Different In Guardians Of The Galaxy 2, According To Vin Diesel”.

While plugging his new movie Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk to Collider, Vin Diesel detoured into Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 territory, and noted how in the sequel, Groot will have a significantly more naive mindset compared to how he was as an adult. While it was generally assumed that Baby Groot would behave like a juvenile, Diesel statement confirms that the alien basically be a child, albeit one with extraordinary abilities. However, that mentality doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t remember what he was like before he was destroyed and regrown. At San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said Baby Groot will retain his memories, although director James Gunn later told a fan that as far as Baby Groot being the original Groot or a “son,” that situation is “complicated.”.

(13) NOT YOUR AVERAGE OBLATE SPHEROID. Astronomers claim to have discovered the roundest object ever measured in nature. Write this on your hand.

Kepler 11145123 is a distant, slowly rotating star that’s more than twice the size of the Sun.

Researchers were able to show that the difference between its radius as measured to the equator and the radius measured to the poles was just 3km.

“This makes Kepler 11145123 the roundest natural object ever measured,” said lead author Prof Laurent Gizon.

He added that it was “even more round than the Sun”.

(14) INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY IN THE SKY. Elon Musk’s latest: satellite internet: “SpaceX aims to launch internet from space”.

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, announced last year that the service would be “larger than anything that has been talked about to date” adding that it would take about $10bn (£8bn) to get it off the ground.

The latest documents did not include costs.

It suggested that the first 800 satellites would be used to expand internet access in the US, including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin islands.

Each satellite, about the size of an average car, not including solar panels, would weigh 850 pounds (386kg), the firm said.

[Thanks to JJ, Todd, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Kay, Hadfield Receive Order of Canada

Order_of_Canada_member_medalFantasist Guy Gavriel Kay and astronaut Chris Hadfield are among the latest appointments to the Order of Canada.

Established in 1967 by Queen Elizabeth II, the Order of Canada is awarded for outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. There are three grades: Companion, Officer, and Member.

Canada’s singing astronaut and YouTube sensation Chris Hadfield was named an officer of the Order of Canada.

Guy Gavriel Kay, appointed a member of the Order, while a young man helped Christopher Tolkien edit The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien’s posthumously published prequel to the Lord of the Rings. Kay’s own first novel, The Summer Tree, the beginning of The Fionavar Tapestry, came out in 1984. In 1990 his novel Tigana reached the Canadian bestseller list, his next book, A Song for Arbonne, debuted in the number-one position, and his subsequent novels have all been bestsellers.

Chris Hadfield’s Good Housekeeping

While on Conan O’Brien’s show to promote his forthcoming book An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Chris Hadfield explained there’s not enough water available for laundry, so the International Space Station’s residents fling laundry into space to burn up in re-entry.

And as long as he was on the subject, Hadfield also gave an assessment of Sandra Bullock’s space underwear in the movie Gravity.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the link.]