Pixel Scroll 10/12/18 Good Pixels Make Good Scrolls

(1) MARVEL FIRES CHUCK WENDIG FROM STAR WARS PROJECTS. Chuck Wendig is off the Shadow of Vader comic books team announced just a week ago at New York Comic Con, and off an as-yet-unannounced Star Wars book. This is the reason he was given —

Today I got the call. I’m fired. Because of the negativity and vulgarity that my tweets bring. Seriously, that’s what Mark, the editor said. It was too much politics, too much vulgarity, too much negativity on my part.

The thread starts here.

The text of his Twitter thread also appears in a post on his blog, “In Which I Am Fired From Marvel”.

I know it hands Comicsgate a big win. It will embolden them. But they won — I’m out of Marvel and, I guess for now, at least, out of any kind of Star Wars. Do your victory lap, I guess. (Just please leave me out of it.) (All that being said, a lot of wonderful people still work inside those institutions and storyworlds, and I hope you’ll continue to support them and the stories they’re telling.) To conclude: this is really quite chilling. And it breaks my heart. I am very sad, and worried for the country I live in, and the world, and for creative people all around. Courage to you all. I have a dire fear this is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.

P.S. Vote in November like your life depends on it. Because it just might.

A site that publicizes Vox Day and Jon Del Arroz projects, Bounding Into Comics, cited a half-dozen recent examples from Wendig’s social media they thought supported Wendig’s firing and concluded —

…Wendig can claim that he’s a victim all he wants. It’s simply not true.

One thing appears to be clear. Disney might ignore the behavior of a number of Marvel Comics professionals, but Star Wars is a whole other beast. It appears Disney doesn’t want their multi-billion dollar investment to be harmed by a novelist and comic book writer.

There also appears to be a line that Disney will draw when it comes to who they employ. We’ve recently seen them fire James Gunn for his Tweets about pedophiles and child rape, and now Chuck Wendig has been fired after calling for calling Disney consumers white supremacists, racists, and rapists. Not to mention he called for violence against Trump supporters…

At the other end of the response spectrum is Kate Gardner’s post for The Mary Sue:

…It does hand Comicsgate a big win. It hands people who want to see their media homogenized and reduced down to the same white cishet male stories a massive win. Worse, it sends a message that if you want to work for a big title, keep your mouth shut and don’t talk about politics, even though at this point in the game silence is nearly complicity.

All art is political, and apparently people being angry that politics in certain works are progressive matters more than artists actually standing up for what’s right.

This is frightening. I won’t call it censorship, but it’s pretty close. It’s a big message saying keep your mouth shut and take the abuse, because apparently defending yourself (and others around you) is as bad as being a troll. It’s “vulgar.” It’s not “civil.” Marvel has known about Wendig’s politics since 2015 at the very earliest, but suddenly there’s a problem with him being his usual self and using his platform for good?

(2) ON BROADWAY. Peter Marks in the Washington Post has a profile (“A Perfect Pitch To Land Gig For Beetlejuice”) of Australian composer Eddie Perfect (his real name!) who wrote the score for the musical adaptation of Beetlejuice opening in Washington next month and who also wrote the songs for the forthcoming Broadway version of King Kong.

Perfect has been a popular recording artist and comic songwriter in Australia. He ventured into musical comedy a decade ago with his satirical bio-musical “Shane Warne: The Musical,” based on a onetime Australian star cricketer. Though he has been eager to break into theater here, a musical about a former captain of the Australian national team playing something called “limited overs cricket” was never a safe bet to get him noticed. When he learned that “Beetlejuice” was on a wide search for a composer, he saw his opening.

(3) THE RIGHT NUMBER. Bill contributed this magic square:

203, 184, 178, 205
172, 211, 197, 190
207, 180, 182, 201
188, 195, 213, 174

Each column and row adds to 770. Each diagonal. The center 4 squares. Each corner of 4 squares. The blocks of 4 squares on the center of the top and bottom, and on the center of left and right sides. There are 52 ways to get to the magic sum.

(4) STAFFORD OBIT. Greg Stafford of Runequest and Call of Cthulhu fame died October 11 reports Michael O’Brien on the Chaosium Inc. blog. (For more detail about Stafford’s career, see his Wikipedia entry.)

The shock and grief the Chaosium family felt at the news of the passing of our beloved and revered company founder, Greg Stafford, cannot be measured. Greg died yesterday in his sweat lodge at his home in Arcata, CA. Mercifully, his passing was painless and quick. He died as he lived, on a spiritual quest of enlightenment.

As one of the greatest game designers of all time; winner of too many awards to count; and a friend, mentor, guide, and inspiration to generations of gamers, “the Grand Shaman of Gaming” influenced the universe of tabletop gaming beyond measure.

Greg founded The Chaosium in 1975, and from the outset (to quote his own words) “was never content to imitate, but instead published games that were original in their style of play, content and design”. Under his leadership, the company quickly became renowned for its originality and creativity, and was responsible for introducing numerous things to the hobby that are standards today.

… For now, we leave you with the words of the Myth maker himself, speaking at the 2018 ENnies Awards ceremony, his last public engagement….

 

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 12, 1875 — Aleister Crowley. Genre writer? You decide. But I’ve no doubt that he had a great influence upon the genre as I’m betting many of you can note works in which  he figures. One of the earliest such cases is Land of Mist, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1926.
  • Born October 12, 1916 – Lock Martin. He’s had three genre roles but only one’s a doozy — the seven-foot tall Gort in The Day in The Earth Stood Still. The others are in The Invaders from Mars (1953) and The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) in which apparently he only appears in deleted scenes.
  • Born October 12, 1904 – Lester Dent. Pulp writer who is best known as the creator and main author of the Doc Savage series. The 159 novels written over 16 years were credited to the house name Kenneth Robeson used by Street & Smith as the author of this character and later The Avenger.
  • Born October 12 – Storm Constantine, 56. Writer with her longest running series being the Wraeththu Universe which has at least four separate series within all of which are known for their themes of alternative sexuality and gender. She has also written a number of non-fiction (I think) works such as Sekhem Heka: A Natural Healing and Self Development System and The Grimoire of Deharan Magick: Kaimana.
  • Born October 12 – Hugh Jackman, 50. Though much, much better known for his work in Wolverine in the X-Men film franchise, I’m more fond of him for his voice work as Bunny in the Rise of the Guardians film which is based on the William Joyce Guardians series. He’s also appeared in Van Helsing, The Prestige and Pan.

(6) COMICS SECTION.

  • You should mosey around John Atkinson’s “Writers’ Block” at Wrong Hands.
  • This celebrity couple in Off the Mark probably won’t make it to a second date.

(7) THE BAR’S MY DESTINATION. Elon Musk has confirmed “Teslaquilla” is a thing reports TechCrunch.

Elon Musk confirmed Friday in a tweet that the Tesla-branded tequila called “Teslaquilla”—the bottle of liquor that co-starred in his April Fool’s Day joke about the automaker filing for bankruptcy — is “coming soon.”

Musk’s tweet was a response to a CNBC article that reported Tesla had filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark “Teslaquila.”

(8) FIRST MAN. In The New Yorker, Richard Brody analyzes the culture wars influencing a film director’s choices: “‘First Man,’ Reviewed: Damien Chazelle’s Neil Armstrong Bio-Pic Is an Accidental Right-Wing Fetish Object”.

The one scene that embodies the sixties onscreen is, to my mind, among the most contemptible scenes in recent movies. It takes place midway through the action, when Congress begins to question the value of the space program. Neil is dispatched to represent NASA in a meeting at the White House, where senators fret about “taxpayer dollars,” and while there he is summoned to the phone and informed of the deaths of three astronauts in an Apollo test. The point is clear: that the astronauts are risking their lives while Congress is counting beans and playing politics.

But Chazelle takes that notion even further a few minutes later in the film, when, racked with unspeakable grief over the deaths of his colleagues, Neil drives off to be alone. “Half the country” may oppose the moon mission, but here Chazelle offers a peculiar, tendentious, and self-revealing cinematic interpretation of that phrase in the form of a montage. It shows Kurt Vonnegut, appearing in a black-and-white television clip, saying that the government would do better to spend the money on such things as making New York City “habitable.” There’s an archival clip of chanting protesters, featuring, prominently, a sign saying “¡Ayuda al Pueblo!” and footage, staged for the movie, of Leon Bridges performing Gil Scott-Heron’s 1970 song “Whitey on the Moon.”

With this sequence, Chazelle openly mocks people who thought that the moon money was spent foolishly—those pesky intellectuals, blacks, and Hispanics who go on TV or into the street demanding “gimme” while the likes of Neil and his exclusively white, male colleagues uncomplainingly put their lives on the line to accomplish historic things in the interest of “mankind.” In its explicit content, and by artful omission, “First Man” subscribes to the misbegotten political premise that America used to be greater—and that the liberating and equalizing activism of the sixties ignored, dismissed, and even undermined that greatness.

(9) DOWNHILL ALL THE WAY. It arrived on Earth without the assistance of astronauts — “For Sale! Certified Lunar Meteorite — Weight 12 Pounds — Mileage 250,000”.

A Boston-based online auction house began accepting bids Thursday on a rare lunar meteorite at $50,000. But the firm estimates it could go for $500,000 or more when bidding closes on Oct. 18, according to the item’s posting.

There are a few reasons why this meteorite might command such a large price.

First, at about 12 pounds, the lunar rock is very large….

BBC was first with the story here, but NPR notes how we know it’s a moon rock rather than a random meteorite:

Bidders should be aware the specimen is considered a lunar feldspathic breccia in geological terms and contains absolutely no cheese.

(10) RESCUE ROBOT. In a BBC video, “Humanoid ‘rescue robot’ learns parkour”. Chip Hitchcock sent the link with a note, “Video. obnoxious music, and bizarre comments at the end, but the first several seconds are stunning.” You’ve been warned.

Atlas, the robot developed by tech firm Boston Dynamics, has learned the art of parkour.

The humanoid has been taught several skills during its development, including how to run, jump over objects and perform backflips.

The latest development shows the robot leap up on to 40cm (15.7in) high blocks without slowing down.

The company has suggested Atlas may one day be used in search and rescue operations, although critics fear it will be used for other purposes by the military.

(11) WHO’S HUMAN? Admit it.  You lay awake at night wondering about the ending of The Thing.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, ULTRAGOTHA, Eric Franklin, Trey Palmer, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, James Davis Nicoll, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day StephenfromOttawa.]

Pixel Scroll 10/8/18 And We Are Her Sisters, And Her Cousins, And Her Ancillaries

(1) RECESS IS OVER. File 770 was down for approximately 7 hours today, for reasons never fully explained by customer support, except they were “actively working” on a server problem. Well, to quote Sam Gamgee, “I’m back.”

(2) WHO WATCHED. The Guardian has the numbers: “Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor Who debut is most watched launch for 10 years”.

Jodie Whittaker’s take on the Time Lord drew Doctor Who’s biggest series launch audience in more than a decade on Sunday night.

An average of 8.2m viewers watched Whittaker’s first outing as the Doctor, beating the ratings for political thriller sensation Bodyguard, which attracted 6.7m viewers when it debuted in August. With an audience share of 40.1%, Whittaker’s performance was the most-watched episode of the science fiction drama since the 2008 series.

The first female doctor bettered Matt Smith and David Tennant’s debut viewing figures of 7.7m and 8m respectively. While she drew a smaller audience than Christopher Eccleston’s first appearance, which was watched by 9.9m, he had the advantage of appearing in the show’s comeback episode in 2005.

(3) WHO LISTENED. But some claim the Doctor Who theme music has been defaced. “Yes,” says SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, “thought impossible but some consider true.”

The brand new theme for Doctor Who Series 11, composed by Segun Akinola, which premiered tonight during the closing credits of ‘The Woman Who Fell to Earth’

 

(4) IT’S ALREADY BEEN DONE! Alastair Reynolds apparently blazed the trail for Banksy“Artist shreds unique work of art”.

Alastair Reynolds destroys last english copy of his short-story “Pandora’s Box” at Finncon’09

 

(5) A VOLUNTEER FOR PICARD’S CREW. Wil Wheaton told a Baltimore Comic Con audience he’d say yes — “Star Trek: Wil Wheaton Wants to Return in New Picard Series” at Comicbook.

Of course, fans also want to know if he could appear as Wesley Crusher could appear in the new show. Wheaton says he thinks its unlikely he’ll be asked, but he’d definitely be up for it if asked.

“I think it is very unlikely they will ask me to participate in it,” Wheaton said. “I mean, I think it is just extraordinarily unlikely that will happen. If they did, I would say ‘yes,’ of course. I think all of us would say ‘yes.’ I think all of us if we were given the opportunity to put on the spacesuits again and go work together and bring those characters back, as they would be thirty years later, we would all say ‘yes.’ And I don’t think it’s because we want the work. I don’t think it’s because we need the money. I don’t think it’s because we don’t have other things to do. It’s because we love each other so much and an opportunity, even for a day, to return emotionally to some of the best times of our lives, I think that we would jump at that opportunity.”

(6) LONG LIST ANTHOLOGY. David Steffen’s Long List Anthology Volume 4 Kickstarter has fully funded, included the stretch goal — 204 backers pledged $4,754.

(7) BITE CLUB. Ron Charles in the Washington Post discusses how Fangoria, which died last year, has been revived “as a new quarterly journal with photos so high-gloss that the blood looks wet.”  But Charles notes many book reviews amid all the gory photos, as well as a short story by Chuck Pahlaniuk — “Fangoria, the fabled horror magazine, has risen from the dead”.

…There’s also a piece for die-hard fanatics about continuity problems among the various “Halloween” sequels and a true story about a young man in North Carolina who built a replica of the Myers house. “I have to carefully pick what I’m going to invest my time in,” he says without any apparent irony.

Handy advice abounds in these pages. Makeup artist Tate Steinsiek explains “how to slit your own throat,” and director Corin Hardy walks us through hideous visuals in his new movie “The Nun.” “Malignant Growths,” a piece about homemade horror films, should come with its own barf bag….

(8) RAH RAH RAH (RAH RAH).  In a piece for Tor.com, James Davis Nicoll says there are “Five Books That Improve Upon Heinlein’s Juveniles”. (How can that be possible?)

Nothing fills me with dread quite like a middle-aged male writer announcing that he plans to write a YA novel just like the ones Robert Heinlein used to write . I could explain why this is such a harbinger of disappointment…but Charles Stross has already beat me to it. Instead, allow me to offer some non-Heinlein novels that succeed in scratching some of the same itches that the RAH juvies once scratched. For me, that requires the intended audience to include teens, that the genre be science fiction in the narrow sense, that the protagonist be a young adult, and that they get to do something that actually matters in the course of the book .

(9) NYCC COSPLAY. Huffington Post’s photo gallery promises “Here Are The Best Costumes From 2018’s New York Comic Con”.

But aside from stars to see, artists to discover, and unique merchandise to buy, people go to Comic Con to see (and be seen in) costumes. There were probably as many people in costume as not this year, and as always it was a wonderful distraction when walking from one part of the convention center to another.

(10) NYCC PROGRAM VIDEOS. On the Penguin Random House YouTube channel you’ll find links to 12 full panels recorded at New York Comic Con. These include a Patrick Rothfuss panel, Pierce Brown’s Red Rising Panel, A Night with Author Andy Weir (The Martian), “How Writers Build Authenticity Into Diverse Worlds Panel,” Patrick Rothfuss and R.A. Salvatore Discuss Epic Fantasy, “Disney-Lucasfilm Publishing: Stories from a Galaxy Far, Far Away,” The World of Lore with Aaron Mahnke Panel, “Disney-Lucasfilm Presents: A Celebration of Female Writers in a Galaxy Far, Far Away.”

 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 8, 1916 – George Turner, Writer and Critic from Australia, who was a successful mainstream novelist but turned to writing SF fiction and criticism in his sixties. His novel Drowning Towers (also published as The Sea and Summer) was a near-future story about global warming and economic collapse, which won the Clarke Award and was a finalist for the Nebula, Campbell, and Ditmar Awards. His book In the Heart or In the Head: An Essay in Time Travel, a memoir in which he chronicles his chaotic growing-up in a family for whom fact and fantasy were equally acceptable and often indistinguishable, won the William J. Atheling Jr. Award and was a finalist for the Hugo for Best Nonfiction Book. He wrote a lot on the history of the genre, including John W. Campbell: Writer, Editor, Legend for an Australian symposium on Campbell in 1971. He was given an A. Bertram Chandler Award – Australia SFF fandom’s highest honor – and his other works, both SF and genre nonfiction, received many nominations and wins for Ditmar and Atheling Awards, all earned between the age of 60 and his death at age 80. He was to be Author Guest of Honor at Aussiecon 3, the 1999 Worldcon, but died prior to the convention. The interview “Judith Buckrich in Conversation with George Turner” can be found in SF Commentary #76.
  • Born October 8, 1920 – Frank Herbert, Writer well-known for his Dune series – the first of which won Hugo, Nebula, Seiun, and Locus Awards – which has been translated into more than a dozen languages and adapted to movies and videogames, including the Hugo-nominated version by David Lynch. Songs of Muad’Dib: Poems and Songs from Frank Herbert’s Dune was published posthumously, edited by his son Brian Herbert. Other work includes the ConSentiency universe novels, Under Pressure and Hellstrom’s Hive (which was awarded the Prix Apollo), and works in his Pandora and Jorj McKie universes. He was nominated for the 1956 Most Promising New Author Hugo, and was Author Guest of Honor at a number of conventions.
  • Born October 8, 1941 – Penny Frierson, 77, Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Fan who chaired or co-chaired several conventions and Worldcon bids, and co-chaired the 1986 Worldcon. She was one of the founders of the Birmingham Science Fiction Club. She collaborated with her husband Meade in her fan writing; they were big H.P. Lovecraft fans, and their fanzines included Science Fiction on Radio, HPL, The HPL Tribute, The HPL Supplement, and the fannish play, Shattered Like a Clockwork Orange. She was a member of the APAs Myriad, RAPS, and SFPA, Guest of Honor at Coastcon in 1978, and in 1987 Southern Fandom recognized her with the Rebel Award.
  • Born October 8, 1943 – David Dvorkin, 75, Writer from England who emigrated to the U.S., and has written more than a dozen of his own speculative fiction novels, but is perhaps best known for three of the earliest novels written in the Star Trek Original Series and Next Generation universes for Pocket Books.
  • Born October 8, 1943 – R.L. Stine, 75, Writer, Editor, and Producer. Author of more than 300 novels, mostly young adult horror, most famously the Goosebumps series, which, along with some of his other works, has been made in TV series and videogames. He has written novelisations of the genre films Ghostbusters II and Spaceballs. He was recognized with a Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2013.
  • Born October 8, 1949 – Sigourney Weaver, 69, Oscar-nominated Screen and Stage Actor and Producer. Her most famous genre roles are in Hugo-winning movies the Alien series and the Star Trek homage Galaxy Quest, in addition to parts in both Hugo-nominated versions of Ghostbusters, Dave (an uncredited version of Robert Heinlein’s Double Star), the Hugo finalist Avatar and its upcoming sequels, The Village, Vamps, and Chappie. She has also provided voices for animated films including the Hugo-winning WALL-E, Happily N’Ever After, The Tale of Despereaux, and Finding Dory.
  • Born October 8, 1949 – Richard Hescox, 69, Artist and Illustrator who, between the years of 1976 and 1993, illustrated over 135 covers for genre books, but now works mostly in the games industry and for private commissions. He is also notable for producing advertising art for such movies as Escape from New York, Time Bandits, Swamp Thing, The Dark Crystal, The Neverending Story, and Conan the Barbarian. Some of his work has been gathered into two collections, The Fantasy Art of Richard Hescox and The Deceiving Eye: The Art of Richard Hescox, with text by Randy Dannenfelser. He has been nominated for a Chesley a half a dozen times, winning in 2003, named Artist Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, and received The Jack Gaughan Award for Best Emerging Artist in 1991.
  • Born October 8, 1956 – Stephanie Zimbalist, 62, Writer and Actor of Stage and Screen. While she is best known for the lead in the TV series Remington Steele, she has appeared in more than 60 stage plays and as many TV series, with her most notable genre appearances being the films Jericho Fever and a Saturn Award-nominated role in The Awakening, the film version of Bram Stoker’s The Jewel of Seven Stars. She appeared in the 2006 documentary Christa McAuliffe: Reach for the Stars, and also portrayed McAuliffe in the play Defying Gravity.
  • Born October 8, 1970 – Matt Damon, 48, Oscar-winning Writer, Actor, and Producer. His most famous genre roles involve having to be rescued in both the Hugo-winner The Martian and the Hugo finalist Interstellar. After starting his career with a role as an uncredited extra on the Hugo-nominated Field of Dreams, he later had parts in genre films The Adjustment Bureau (based on a Philip K. Dick story), The Brothers Grimm, Contagion, Elysium, The Zero Theorem, Downsizing, and he reprised his Dogma role playing Loki in a cameo in the Hugo-nominated Thor: Ragnarok.
  • Born October 8, 1979 – Kristanna Loken, 39, Actor and Producer, known to genre fans as the cyborg Terminatrix from Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Her other genre appearances include the films Bloodrayne and In the Name of the King, and the TV series Mortal Kombat: Conquest and Painkiller Jane.

(12) HERBERT DAY. Steven H Silver finds a story to celebrate in a 1971 Analog – “Birthday Reviews: Frank Herbert’s ‘By the Book’” at Black Gate.

Originally published by John W. Campbell, Jr. in the October 1966 issue of Analog Science Fiction Science Fact, “By the Book” was reprinted in 1971 in The Worlds of Frank Herbert and again in The Best of Frank Herbert. It was also included in the Herbert collections Eye and The Collected Stories of Frank Herbert. The story was translated into Croatian in 1978 for inclusion in the Yugoslavian magazine Sirius and into French in 1987 for the Hebert collection Champ Mental.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) LOCAL TALENT. In LA on October 11 — “Dana Gould – A reading of Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space”. Here’s some names you don’t see all the time anymore.

Dana Gould presents A Live, Stage Reading of EdWood’s… Plan 9 from Outer Space

w/ Bobcat Goldthwait, David Koechner, Janet Varney , Laraine Newman, Kevin MacDonald, Dana Gould, Matt Braunger, Rob Zabrecky, Ron Lynch, Nate Mooney, DeborahBaker, Jr., Ken Daly, G CharlesWright, w/ Eban Schletter and other surprises!

(15) DADDY DATA? Variety reports — “TNT Orders Ridley Scott-Produced Sci-Fi Drama ‘Raised by Wolves’”.

TNT has given a straight-to-series order to a sci-fi drama project that hails from executive producer Ridley Scott.

Titled “Raised by Wolves,” the series centers on two androids tasked with raising human children on a mysterious virgin planet. As the burgeoning colony of humans threatens to be torn apart by religious differences, the androids learn that controlling the beliefs of humans is a treacherous and difficult task….

(16) SECOND NOVEL. Adri Joy has been looking forward to the continuation of this series – see “Microreview [Book]: The Phoenix Empress by K. Arsenault Rivera” at Nerds of a Feather.

…The Phoenix Empress pick up almost exactly where its predecessor leaves off, and while the “present” takes up more of the narrative in this volume, there’s still a substantial story-within-a-story as Shizuka fills Shefali in on the events that led to her becoming empress, not to mention developing an alcohol addiction and a severe phobia of water. Shefali has returned from her own travels even more changed, following events in that have led to her being contaminated by black blood but not succumbing to the usual progress of the illness, and now expects to die on her next birthday in four months’ time. A great deal of the book is therefore based on learning each others’ secrets and renewing their relationship, as well as working out what the wider implications of Shefali’s return are for the future of Hokkaro and the black- blood plague.

I suspect that the unusual structure of these novels is playing an important trope-subverting role as well as being a narrative choice….

(17) AGE BEFORE BEAUTY. Apparently D.B. Jackson couldn’t resist the challenge – at Whatever, “The Big Idea: D.B. Jackson”.

Anyone who has written a time travel novel knows that they can send an author ‘round the bend. Time travel is a plotting nightmare. It creates narrative holes big enough to accommodate a truck. It acts as a virtual eraser, a do-over generator, a distributor of endless mulligans. Even the most sound, well-considered plot point can be undermined by the simple question, “Well, why can’t one of our characters go back and prevent this?” Hermione Granger’s ill-advised flirtation with Time-Turners is just the tip of the iceberg. Time travel will make an author’s brain explode.

So, naturally, I have just published the first novel in a new time travel/epic fantasy series.

(18) PALACE INTRIGUE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Various sources are reporting that the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO) has announced an intent to deorbit their Tiangong-2 (Celestial Palace 2) space laboratory during or after July 2019. You may recall that Tiangong-1 deorbited in an uncontrolled manner (though the Chinese claim otherwise) earlier this year. Fortunately,  the bits of Tiangong-1 that didn’t burn up on reentry happened to hit an unoccupied part of the Pacific Ocean. The plan for Tiangong-2 is to deliberately aim for such a spot.

Neither of the Celestial Palaces were intended to be permanent space stations, though China is planning a modular space station of a more permanent nature. Mooted dates for launching the various parts of that are currently 2020–2023.

(19) GOTHAM’S FIFTH. The trailer for the last season of Fox’s Gotham was played at the New York Comic Con.

(20) THE LAST GYRO. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] NASA has confirmed, via Twitter, that the Hubble Space Telescope has been put into “safe mode” following the failure of one of its gyroscopes (Space.com: “Hubble Space Telescope in ‘Safe Mode’ After Gyroscope Failure”). This leaves the iconic telescope with only two gyros operating, not enough to “ensure optimal efficiency” per the Hubble website. All six gyroscopes were last replaced during Servicing Mission 4 when Shuttle Atlantis visited in 2009 during mission STS-125. With the Shuttle fleet long retired now, further servicing is not an option.

Dr. Rachel Osten, Hubble Deputy Mission Head, has tweeted that the “[f]irst step is try to bring back the last gyro, which had been off, and is being problematic.” If that fails, there was quick speculation that a change in operational mode may emerge, Dr. Grant Tremblay, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, tweeted:

*IF* the third [gyroscope] doesn’t spin back up, I wouldn’t be surprised if they drop to 1 gyro mode, keeping the second as reserve. @rachelosten might know, but I imagine it’s a stressful, difficult decision. Let’s just hope the brilliant people at @STScI can recover the third. Stress.

That plan was confirmed shortly after, when Dr Osten replied:

It’s not a difficult decision, @astrogrant: the plan has always been to drop to 1-gyro mode when two remain. There isn’t much difference between 2- and 1, and it buys lots of extra observing time. Which the Astro community wants desperately.

In fact, the gyroscope that just failed lasted “about six months longer” than had been anticipated. This failure is one more confirmation that the Hubble is nearing the end of it’s life, though it is clearly still doing good science.

(21) RED HAT. Mlex says he’d wear one –

(22) STYLE POINTS IF YOU STICK THE LANDING. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] There’s video of the first Vandenberg landing of a SpaceX Falcon 9 on The Verge (“SpaceX successfully landed its Falcon 9 rocket on the California coast for the first time”). The video includes launch, side-by-side views of the second stage burn and the first stage return to Vandenberg, and more. If you want to skip ahead to the final landing  burn, that starts just after the 29 minute mark of the video when the stage is still over 4 km in altitude. This is a night landing, so the burns are spectacular, but overall visibility is limited. The split screen for the last few moments of the landing has video from the side of the stage (looking down) and from a ground camera viewing from a safe distance.

(23) EPISODE RECAP. Martin Morse Wooster says, “My local public television station is showing the New Zealand series The Brokenwood Mysteries.  Last night they showed an episode which appeared in the show’s third season and was broadcast in New Zealand in 2016.” —

The premise is that a sleazy tour operator is offering “Lord of the Ringz” tours to the Brokenwood forest for Chinese tourists.  They’re shown a crappy matte painting of mountains.  Guys with pointy ears do some swordplay. The climax of the tour is when a giant plush toy spider descends on a woman wrapped up in spider webbing–but the unplanned but is that the woman is dead, and the detectives then find out who killed her.

A German guy complains that he isn’t seeing anything from The Lord of the Rings, and is told, “Oh, in New Zealand we spell things creatively.”  In another scene, a lawyer explains that as long as the customers aren’t told they’re seeing things from The Lord of the Rings–and every sign, for some reason, isn’t spelled correctly!–then it’s legal.  “We could be showing scenes from some direct-to DVD film,” he said.

I hope this lawyer never deals with the Tolkien estate…

(24) SHADOW OF VADER. Chuck Wendig will write a five-issue miniseries for Marvel Star Wars:

Chuck Wendig on Darth Vader and his newly-announced series, Shadow of Vader: “Vader is a character with a long shadow, literally and figuratively. His legacy is deep and unpleasant.” The world will not be bereft of Darth Vader in their comics for long, as Wendig announced that he will be writing a miniseries called Shadow of Vader, beginning in November. Each issue will feature a different set of characters: Issue #1 is a Friday the 13th homage, with Vader hunting down kids at summer camp; issue #2 stars the one-and-only Willrow Hood; issue #3 centers on a morgue attendant on the Death Star; issue #4 diverges to focus on the Acolytes of the Beyond; issue #5 follows a New Republic pilot — whose parents were killed by Vader — who joins the Resistance only to learn that Leia’s father is the Sith Lord.

(25) AMERICAN GODS TRAILER. The second season of American Gods is on the way.

A storm is coming. American Gods returns to STARZ in 2019. Starring Ricky Whittle, Ian McShane, Yetide Badaki, Orlando Jones, Omid Abtahi, Mousa Kraish, and more.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 10/4/18 Scrolls Lift Us Up Where We Belong

(1) MOTHER’S DAY IN GOTHAM. ComicBook.com brings news that “Martha Wayne to Return in ‘Gotham’ Season 5”—the same actor who played her in the pilot will now reprise the part in the finale season.

In addition to moving toward Batman’s future in the upcoming final season of Gotham, it looks as though the FOX series will also be flashing back to Bruce Wayne’s past. Martha Wayne, Bruce’s mother who was murdered in the series premiere, will be returning in the second half of Season 5.

Actress Brette Taylor, who played Martha in the pilot, took to Twitter earlier this week to share a photo from the set. In the image, Taylor is sitting on a bench with Gotham stars Sean Pertwee (Alfred) and Cameron Monaghan (Jeremiah). Along with the photo, Taylor included the caption, “Takin a break with the gang,” and a hashtag for Martha Wayne, leading to speculation amongst fans that she would be appearing somehow.

While the photo simply indicates that she was on the set, ComicBook.com can now confirm that she is indeed filming Season 5, reprising her role as Martha Wayne.

(2) GETTING PAID. Another classic Scalzi / Sykes / Wendig exchange. Thread starts here.

(3) PENNSYLVANIA 221B. Rebecca Romney, in “The Art of the Painstaking Sherlock Recreation” on Crimereads.com, goes to the home of the Dobry family in Reading, Pennsylvania, where they have carefully reconstructed Sherlock Holmes’s flat.  We learn in the piece that there’s a guy in Los Angeles who makes his living creating Holmes-related stuff for collectors.

The man holds up a thin, sharp instrument. “Do you know which story this is from?” he asks. I hesitate. I’m not even sure what it is, except that its end forms a wickedly curved needle.

I browse through my mental catalog of murder weapons and other questionable objects. I’m trying not to get distracted by the phrenological bust in the corner of the room, or the initials “VR” dotted onto one section of the wall in shapes that resemble bullet holes.

Denny Dobry smiles, takes pity. “It’s a nineteenth-century cataract knife.” Of course it is. Now I know what it’s from: the Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of the Silver Blaze.”

I’m in 221B Baker Street, the residence of Sherlock Holmes. But I’m not in London. I’m in Reading, Pennsylvania.

(4) CBS ALL ACCESS DROPS SHORTS. The Star Trek: Short Treks were released today. The Hollywood Reporter’s spoiler-filled article “‘Star Trek: Short Treks’ Episode 1 Packs a Lot into 15 Minutes” tell what you’ll see.

In its new series Short Treks, Star Trek is going where no version of the show has gone before: online-only content. But the first of four monthly installments, which dropped Thursday on CBS All Access, made sure to bridge the gap between the familiar and the unfamiliar.

(5) SEPTEMBER’S STORIES. At the B&N Sci-FI & Fantasy Blog, Marla Haskins links to noteworthy stories from last month’s offerings: “Sci-Fi & Fantasy Short Fiction Roundup: September 2018”.

We Mete Out Justice With Beak and Talon“, by Jeremiah Tolbert in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
Tolbert’s high-flying sci-fi tale is set in a near-future American city where law enforcement uses humans who are mentally linked to birds of prey to patrol the skies, sending them swooping in whenever they spot criminal activity. It’s a vividly told story; Tolbert skillfully draws you in to the strangeness of the joined human/bird mind-space, giving the reader dizzying new perspectives on the future of technology, and the future of police work. Thought-provoking and compelling.

(6) THAT STUFF YOU FIND IN BOOKS. At Mr. Sci-Fi, former Star Trek Writer Marc Zicree talking about the history of science fiction in novels. From Frankenstein to HG Wells.

(7) SABRINA. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina premiere October 26 on Netflix.

Her name is Sabrina Spellman. Half witch. Half mortal. On her 16th birthday, Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) has to make a choice between the witch world of her family and the human world of her friends. With her aunties (Miranda Otto, Lucy Davis), her cat Salem, and her boyfriend Harvey Kinkle (Ross Lynch), Sabrina will face horrors and new adventures in the mysterious town of Greendale. From the executive producers of Riverdale comes a haunting new tale.

 

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 4, 2005 — Troma’s Rock’N’Roll Space Patrol Action Is Go premiered.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) TIS THE SEASON. Camestros Felapton shared this epic from the desk of Timothy the Talking Cat — “The Timarillion”.

…Without the trees, Heaven is in dire need of some lightbulbs but Feanor won’t let anybody else use his. It’s a moot point anyway because Mmmm had stolen them. Feanor vows bloody vengeance against Mmmm for stealing his lightbulbs and over-billing his therapy sessions.

Meanwhile, the gods invent the Moon and the Sun, which is a better plan than trees if you think about it….

(11) TAKE A WHIFF. Evolution detectives tell NPR “Lemurs Provide Clues About How Fruit Scents Evolved”.

In Ranomafana National Park in Madagascar, where there is incredible diversity of fruits of all shapes and sizes, there are certain plants that rely only on lemurs to spread their seeds. There are other plants that rely on birds and other animals.

The researchers gathered hundreds of ripe and unripe fruit samples from 30 species of plants. They separated them into two groups — the ones that rely on lemurs, and the ones that rely on the other animals — and tested the chemicals emitted to see whether the smells were different between the ripe and unripe samples.

(12) UNHAPPY LANDINGS. They can’t all win the Darwin Award, can they? The BBC says “259 people reported dead seeking the perfect selfie”.

They found that selfie-related deaths are most common in India, Russia, the United States and Pakistan and 72.5% of those reported are men.

Previous studies were compiled from Wikipedia pages and Twitter, which researchers say did not give accurate results.

The new study also showed that the number of deaths is on the rise.

There were only three reports of selfie-related deaths in 2011, but that number grew to 98 in 2016 and 93 in 2017.

However, the researchers claim that the actual number of selfie deaths could be much higher because they are never named as the cause of death.

(13) IN COUNTRY. Spacefaring Kitten reviews a favorite for Nerds of a Feather: “Microreview [Book]: Lovecraft Country, by Matt Ruff”.

“Stories are like people, Atticus. Loving them doesn’t make them perfect,” The Safe Negro Travel Guide publisher George Berry tells his nephew Atticus Turner in the beginning of Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country.

Berry is sort of an old wise man character in the novel, always there delivering helpful truths and constructive advice when needed. Here he is unraveling Atticus’s – and his own – conflicted feelings towards science fiction and fantasy literature. They are both in love with genre classics such as Edgar Rice Burroughs and H.P. Lovecraft but at the same time register that the authors and their works are deeply problematic, especially from the viewpoint of black readers which is what both men are.

(14) SEPTEMBER (SWAN) SONG. Charles Payseur wraps up last month with “Quick Sips – Terraform September 2018”.

I’m closing out my September reviews with a look at Motherboard’s Terraform, which brings four new looks at rather terrifying possible futures. As usual, the stories range from predictive to outlandish, but all of them lean toward warnings. Signs for people to read and pay attention to. Turn back now. Avoid this possible time when humanity has lost respect for our world and our selves. These are pieces look at the way things could be with an unblinking gaze and invite readers to look into that abyss. It’s a nice range of works, too, from far future space extinctions to much more grounded political sci fi, where corruption and injustice are only a step or two beyond what we have now. It makes for a strong month of stories, which I’ll get right to reviewing!

(15) THE BEES KNEES. The folks at Archie McPhee would love to sell you their “Car Full of Bees Auto Sunshade”.

This sunshade has so many bees on it, we had to buy new computers that could handle the design! When you plop this in your window, it creates the illusion that your car is full of bees! Can you go in the carpool lane if you have a swarm of bees riding shotgun? At 50″ x 27-1/2″, this sunshade is big enough for most cars. It protects, cools and blocks out UV rays. Includes two suction cups for easy installation.

(16) BLADE RUNNER 2049 COMIC. Titan Comics announced that Blade Runner 2049 screenwriter Michael Green (Logan) will partner with long-term collaborator and comic writer Mike Johnson (Star Trek) to pen an in-canon Blade Runner comic series for Titan Comics and Alcon Media Group.

In addition to co-writing the screenplay for Blade Runner 2049, the critically-acclaimed sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 celebrated classic Blade Runner, Michael Green’s recent writing credits include Alien: Covenant, Murder on the Orient Express, the hit Starz series American Gods, and Logan, which earned Green an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2018.

Mike Johnson, Green’s co-writer on comics including Supergirl and Superman/ Batman, will co-write the Blade Runner series. A veteran writer of the Star Trek franchise, Johnson’s other comic credits include Transformers and Fringe

(17) RECURSION. SYFY Wire says another new sff TV show is on the way: “Shonda Rhimes and Matt Reeves team up for new science fiction venture on Netflix”.

Shondaland is expanding. The prolific producer and showrunner Shonda Rhimes is teaming with Matt Reeves for a science fiction film and television series on Netflix. The pair will bring Blake Crouch’s upcoming novel Recursion to life on the streaming service.

The novel centers on a female scientist who creates technology that allows people to recactivate their most powerful memories and rewrite them.

Rhimes told Variety, “Projects like this are why I came to Netflix. The opportunity to explore a multi-genre universe in innovative ways is extremely exciting. Matt and Blake both have the tremendous ability to build compelling characters and imaginative landscapes and I am thrilled to work alongside them.”

Rhimes signed a multi-year deal with Netflix last year to create new content for the streaming service, while Reeves signed a first look deal earlier this year….

(18) DAREDEVIL TRAILER. Season 3 of Marvel’s Daredevil debuts on Netflix October 19.

Missing for months, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) reemerges a broken man, putting into question his future as both vigilante Daredevil and lawyer Matthew Murdock. But when his archenemy Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) is released from prison, Matt must choose between hiding from the world, or embracing his destiny as a hero.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 9/14/18 Planetary Classification Just Ain’t About Sol Anymore

(1) MOON EXHIBITION IN DENMARK. Louisiana, the largest gallery of Modern Art in the Nordic countries, is holding an exhibition about The Moon from September 13-January 20. The themes are Moonlight, Selenography, The Moon of Myth, The Moon Landing, The Colonization of Space and Deep Time.

From painting to virtual reality, superstition to science, myths to missions, fantasies to space colonies, join Louisiana on a trip to the Moon – into space and into ourselves. ARTnews has already called THE MOON the most intriguing show of the season.

This large-scale exhibition at Louisiana highlights the role, the importance and the fascinating power of the Moon. The exhibition presents more than 200 works and objects—and show how the round white disc is reflected in our art and cultural history. From Galileo’s moon map to Norman Foster’s plans for 3D-printed moon bases.

The exhibition mixes art, film, music, literature, architecture, cultural history, design and natural science into a vibrant and diverse portrait of our closest neighbor in the sky. We encounter the Moon as a fundamental symbol and as a goal of romantic and artistic longings, scientific inquiry, existential issues—and the urge for political expansion.

With this exhibition, Louisiana commemorates the imminent 50th anniversary of man’s first steps on the Moon and also calls attention to a strong and renewed interest in the Moon both in art and as a springboard for a new Space Race with all its strategic and economic implications.

(2) CIXIN LIU. At The Paris Review, Amanda DeMarco’s overview “Cixin Liu, China, and the Future of Science Fiction” includes comments on the English translation of Liu’s Ball Lightning.

It’s been said that the past is a foreign country, and I’ve come to believe that the future is too. I’d just never been so immersed in it before. In Beijing this summer, I read about two thousand pages of work by Cixin Liu, possibly the world’s most important living science-fiction author and certainly among humanity’s most imaginative prognosticators. (A recent London Review of Books piece called his Three-Body trilogy, published in English in 2016, “one of the most ambitious works of science fiction ever written.”) Like life in Beijing, the experience was magnificent and exhausting and thrilling and flawed. Science fiction might be the genre best suited to Chinese society today; the breakneck pace of change becomes a constant, and to live in the present is to anticipate what is to come. When we told our acquaintance that we’d like to return next summer, she responded as many of our Chinese friends did: “You might not recognize it here.”

(3) BRADBURY STATUE ALMOST PAID FOR. In Waukegan, IL — “Ray Bradbury statue fundraising effort crosses $100,000 mark, enters final stretch”.

The fundraising effort behind a proposed 12-foot-tall statue honoring Waukegan native Ray Bradbury is in its final stretch, according to a library spokeswoman.

The group behind the campaign, now an official part of the Waukegan Public Library Foundation, has raised $107,000 of the $125,000 needed through a mix of individual, corporate and nonprofit donations and pledges, said Amanda Civitello, the library’s spokeswoman.

…The proposed 12-foot-tall, stainless steel statue, designed by artist Zachary Oxman, was inspired by Bradbury’s poem “If Only We Had Taller Been” and would show Bradbury astride a rocket ship, waving a book.

(4) INCURABLY VIRAL. Chuck Wendig explains how this movie got started: “You Might Be The Killer: The… Movie?”

So maybe you remember in the halcyon salad days of Summer 2017, one mister Sam Sykes and one mister, uhh, well, me, we got on The Twitters and we did an improvised horror story, kind of a riff on a slasher film, but in Twitter format. Shitposting, the kids call it!

(“Sam Sykes and Chuck Wendig Just Wrote Horror Movie Gold on Twitter.“)

(Or, read the whole thing starting here.)

Well, that went kinda viral.

And when a thing goes viral, it takes on a weird life of its own, meaning, we started fielding offers to make our Twitter thread into Something. Movies, YouTube series, cartoons — but at the end of the day, we had two guys, Craig Engler and Tom Vitale, say they had a vision for it, and it was a movie, and we said, HELL YEAH. Because, holy shit, a snarky slasher film from our tweets? Sign us up…

You Might Be the Killer will have its world premiere at Fantastic Fest in Austin September 21.

And there’s what you could call a companion Twitter thread that got started by Myke Cole – begins here.

(5) PRO TIP. From SFWA — “Contracts Committee Alert – Failure to Finalize Contracts”.

The Contracts Committee has learned of recent cases in which a publisher did not routinely send authors a copy of the final contract signed by both the author and publisher.  The authors had made significant amendments to their contracts which the publisher ignored, publishing material in a format which the authors had crossed out in the contract they signed.  Our understanding is that the books were thus published without a fully executed contract.

Failure to return counter-signed contracts is a failure to finalize the contract and is not an acceptable business practice. A deal should not be considered final until the author has received the final, mutually agreed-to, counter-signed contract….

(6) ASK AN AGENT. Fantasy-Faction has lined up four agents willing to answer people’s questions during the week of September 24, John Jarrold, Julie Crisp, Jamie Cowen, and Harry Illingworth  — “Announcing Agent Week!”

…To many of us, agents are mythic beasts who guard the doors to fame, fortune and the realisation of our dreams. There are a thousand websites out there with advice, tips and tricks on how to discover an agent and, hopefully, entice them enough to take you on as client.

Should you wish to, on those websites, you can find information on the publishing industry, what happens when you’ve snagged an agent, how to tread the minefield of getting your book out there and then the hard bit, getting people to read it.

But better surely is to ask an agent yourself?

Which isn’t always an easy thing to do. Especially if your introverted Britishness prevents you even putting digit to keyboard… Well, fear no more, the struggle is over. We have, through the kindness of four world class agents of impeccable taste, organised a week in which you can ask the questions and get your answers.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 14 – Walter Koenig, 82. Obviously you know who he is. Author of Buck Alice and the Actor Robot which I assume is fiction, Chekov’s Enterprise: A Personal Journal of the Making of Star Trek-The Motion Picture and Warped Factors: A Neurotic’s Guide to the Universe. There’s also InAlienable, a SF film written and executive produced by him.
  • Born September 14 – Rowena Morrill, 75. Well-known for her genre illustration, and is one of the first female artists to impact paperback cover illustration. Her notable works include The Fantastic Art of Rowena, Imagine (France publication only), Imagination (Germany only), and The Art of Rowena.  Though nominated for the Hugo four times, she has not yet won, but has garnered the British Fantasy Award.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • It’s tough to be a schoolkid with an unusual name – Off the Mark.
  • A chance meeting with a dino pal from the neighborhood — Andertoons
  • WuMo raises the perpetual question – who decides where the story’s going, the writer or the characters?
  • We’ll let you be the judge of this joke — Andertoons
  • Yipes! Is that what we’re eating? — Scandiavia and the World

(9) WE MADE IT! MexicanX Initiative participant Iliana Vargas has reported on the experience of attending the Worldcon: “Hibridaciones sinápticas: Habitar la alteridad en todas sus posibilidades: TheMexicanxInitiative en la Worldcon 76” (There’s’ a Google Translate English language version here – as always with GT, buyer beware!)

Creo que si alguien me preguntara por los momentos más significativos de mi vida, sin duda diría que lo fue el entrar al centro de convenciones y ver a tantas personas con las que me identifiqué de inmediato, haciéndome sentir que estaba en un lugar en el que nadie me juzgaría por mi rareza, sino que la compartiría conmigo.Porque de eso se trata la Worldcon: es un ecosistema en el que uno no necesita usar la máscara del ser social con que interactúa cada día para funcionar en el mundo convencional; simplemente se es, con toda la libertad y con todo lo necesario para mostrarlo, lo que uno ha construido en su propio imaginario individual. Es una fiesta que dura cinco días, en la que uno puede encarnar todo aquello que ha abrevado de la literatura, el cine, el cómic, la exploración sonora, las artes visuales y multimedia, para crear su propia comunidadunderground;una comunidad en la que permea un ambiente de respeto, de asombro y de curiosidad, de expectativa constante por lo que uno encontrará cada día en los pasillos, lo que escuchará en cada panel, lo que descubrirá en la zona de vendimia, lo que aprenderá al final de cada día….

(10) NEXT GEN. Netflix picks up Chinese-Canadian animated genre film at Cannes — SYFY Wire has the story: “Next Gen: A Chinese meme, ghosting producer, and a lucky break led to Netflix’s biggest animated film”

The international sales market at Cannes generally runs on two parallel tracks: Big names make splashy deals for high-profile movies, while relatively unknown production companies hock not-so-high-profile projects to international distributors hungry for programming. So it created quite the stir and raised more than a few eyebrows online when, at this year’s festival, Netflix plunked down $30 million for Next Gen, a Chinese-Canadian animated sci-fi film from a pair of first-time feature directors and a studio that had never made a movie before.

…It began, as do seemingly all worthy modern stories, with a meme. Back in 2008, an artist in China named Wang Nima created his own riff on the American “Rage Comic,” a Reddit-grown comic form that couples consciously janky art and the hair-trigger anger inherent to the internet. The style, which became known as “Baozou,” was instantly popular in China, and Wang started up a site called BaozouManhua.com to build on his creation. Fast forward five years and the Baozou site had become a digital empire, with stand-up comedy, web series, and user-generated content, sort of a Chinese version of Funny Or Die.

 

(11) CRAIG MILLER. The latest Chatting With Sherri podcast is “with Producer; Craig Miller”.

Craig Miller is a well-known and respected writer/producer with over 300 credits but he began his Hollywood career as a specialist in motion picture publicity, promotion, and licensing. He started his marketing career fresh out of college, working for George Lucas on a science fiction movie nobody thought would break even: Star Wars. He was Producer-for-Lucasfilm on episodes of Sesame Street guest starring R2-D2 and C-3PO, the Star Wars robots, and other shows and projects.

Miller set up as an independent publicity consultant, working with most of the major studios and many independent companies through his company, Con Artists, and with creative forces of nature such as Stephen Spielberg and Jim Henson.  Films he’s worked on include The Dark Crystal, The Muppets Take Manhattan, Excalibur, Superman II, Altered States, Splash, The Black Cauldron, Real Genius, and dozens of others.

(12) CASTING CALL. If Henry Cavill is really out, Steven Colbert says he’s available.

(13) COMIC CON AFRICA. South Africa’s first Comic Con: “Tickets sold out for Africa’s first Comic Con show”. Yes, they’re calling it Comic Con; any bets SDCC will sue about use on another continent?

This will see thousands of gaming, pop culture, superhero comic fans descending on the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit and International Convention Centre, north of Joburg, this weekend.

Comic Con Africa will see the best of the best in the industry of superhero comics to gaming, and fans will get an opportunity to see some of their favourite international stars in person.

The build-up to the three-day event has been overwhelming for organisers, who did not expect a sold-out response from fans.

“What to expect at Comic Con Africa 2018” —  for example:

(14) BEFORE THERE WAS TINTIN. Murals Hergé did as an art student are crumbling: “Tintin and the vanishing murals: Brussels races to save art”.

He’s one of the best-known artists of the 20th Century but, before The Adventures of Tintin, the Belgian artist Hergé created art of a different kind – murals at the Brussels school where he once studied.

In the early 1920s Hergé, then a 15-year-old Georges Remi, was a scout and student at Institut St Boniface, in the Ixelles area of Brussels.

He adorned the walls of the old scout HQ with lovingly rendered art showing scouts and Native American Indians, as well as a map of Belgium.

But now the small garage is in disuse, the walls are in a poor state and many of his drawings have crumbled away.

(15) UNWINDING A MYSTERY. Chip Hitchcock asks, “Did this inspire de Camp’s The Clocks of Iraz?”: “Why Edinburgh’s clock is never on time”.

Arrive in Edinburgh on any given day and there are certain things you can guarantee. The fairy-tale Gothic of the royal castle, built on an extinct volcanic plug. The medieval riddle of alleys and lanes. The majesty of the churchyards and macabre spires set against a barb of basalt crags, all as if created by a mad god.

Yet there is one other given in the Scottish capital, and it is the hallmark of Princes Street, the city’s main thoroughfare that runs east to west joining Leith to the West End. The time on the turret clock atop The Balmoral Hotel is always wrong. By three minutes, to be exact….

“We look after 5,000 different clock towers around the world, and to say The Balmoral’s is peculiar is a massive understatement,” [maintainer Smith of Derby]’s Tony Charlesworth told me. “It’s hard to believe, but it’s the only one we’re paid to keep wrong.”

(16) THE HILLS ARE ALIVE. That’s pretty funny —

(17) SQUIRREL POWER. Marvel released a trailer for its full-length animated film Marvel Rising Secret Warriors:

In Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors, powered teens Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, Quake, Patriot, America Chavez, and Inferno join forces as an unlikely, but formidable crew of aspiring heroes. When a threat no one could have expected bears down on the Marvel Universe, this ragtag, untrained band of teens have no choice but to rise together and prove to the world that sometimes the difference between a “hero” and “misfit” is just in the name.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Karl-Johan Norén, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Kendall, ULTRAGOTHA, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HUMANKIND IS EXTINCT.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the rest — there are 40 more submissions.

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

Your job now is:

Pick your favorite.

Just one.

JUST ONE.

Go to the comments section below.

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

That’s it.

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

Do not choose two.

Choose one, type only the number.

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

Enjoy. Vote. See you on the other side.

(6) COMICS SECTION.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Pixel Scroll 7/10/18 A Tick In The Box Might Be Quite Pixellental But Comments Are A Scroll’s Best File

(1) SEUSS STRIKES OUT. The Seuss estate just lost its lawsuit against another parody, a play called “Who’s Holiday!” which sounds a lot darker than The Places You’ll Boldly Go. Kevin Underhill of Lowering the Bar has the story: “Second Circuit: Lewd “Grinch” Parody Doesn’t Infringe”.

The Second Circuit held on Friday that what Reuters called a “lewd and profane” stage version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” did not infringe on the original, affirming the district court’s decision in favor of playwright Matthew Lombardo and against Dr. Seuss Enterprises.

I was not previously aware of this work, but Reuters’ summary makes it clear that it departs in some significant ways from the Dr. Seuss classic:

The dispute began when Lombardo in 2016 was preparing to stage “Who’s Holiday!” a one-woman play featuring an adult version of Cindy Lou Who, the endearing girl who in Seuss’ story stops the Grinch from ending Christmas.

In contrast, the Cindy Lou Who in “Who’s Holiday!” has become a 45-year-old woman who spends her days in a trailer home while battling alcohol and substance abuse, following a stint in prison for murdering her husband, the Grinch.

(2) @%!$$!! SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, cybercaffing from the borough library, found he was unable to access his second- (third? one hundred fiftieth?) favorite blog, File 770. He told me via email —

Your site has just been blocked by all London libraries and schools for access apparently due to profanity.

Attached screenshot.

(Other screen filters elsewhere may similarly act????)

Thought you’d want to know.

I used to be blocked by the Great Firewall of China, but not anymore. How is it they can read me in China and not in a London library?

P.S. As you may know there is a workaround but you need to know you’re blocked to implement, hence my tipping you the nod.  — Hope this makes sense.

Absolutely. Rest assured, I never slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide.

(3) LEE DROPS SUIT. The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed: “Stan Lee Drops $1B Lawsuit Against POW! Entertainment for “Stealing” His Name and Likeness”.

Stan Lee has dismissed his $1 billion lawsuit against POW! Entertainment for fraud and conversion, less than two months after the suit was filed in his name.

“The whole thing has been confusing to everyone, including myself and the fans, but I am now happy to be surrounded by those who want the best for me,” Lee said in a statement. “I am thrilled to put the lawsuit behind me, get back to business with my friends and colleagues at POW! and launch the next wave of amazing characters and stories!”

POW! CEO Shane Duffy added, “We are ecstatic that this ill-founded lawsuit has been dismissed and we look forward to working with Stan again to develop and produce the great projects that were put on hold when the lawsuit was filed. We recently got together with Stan to discuss our path forward and we and [parent company] Camsing are pleased with his overwhelmingly enthusiastic reaction.”

Lee filed the complaint in May in Los Angeles County Superior Court, claiming the company and two of its officers conspired to steal his identity, name and likeness in a “nefarious scheme” involving a “sham” sale to a Chinese company….

Variety adds:

…The move comes as turmoil continues in Lee’s personal life. The lawsuit was filed in May, when the 95-year-old Lee was allegedly under the sway of memorabilia collector Keya Morgan. Morgan is now barred from contacting Lee or coming within 100 yards of him, under a restraining order granted on Friday.

A joint statement was issued Monday by Lee and by POW! Entertainment, now owned by Hong Kong’s Camsing International, announcing that the suit had been dismissed….

(4) IMPULSE. The first 3 episodes of YouTube series Impulse are free.  You have to be a premium user to watch the whole series. (Note warning about depiction of sexual violence.)

(5) WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS. Zack Morrissette tweeted this mashup:

(6) STEADMAN ON AMERICA. The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna has an interview with Ralph Steadman, who has an exhibition of his work (originally prepared and curated by Britain’s Cartoon Museum) now on exhibit at American University through August 1: “Ralph Steadman’s D.C. retrospective often shines a ‘gonzo’ light on America”.

SOMETIMES IT takes a prominent visiting writer or artist — from de Tocqueville to, say, Bono — to serve up a storyteller’s view of the United States that is one shot of awed wonder and two shots of bracing honesty. Along that continuum of colorful outsider perspectives sits Ralph Steadman, that savage ink-slinging satirist from Kent who depicts the land of the free as a minefield of bullies and blowhards and presidents, not necessarily in that order and not without some redundancy.

Steadman is the British/Welsh illustrator best known to the American masses as the journalistic “gonzo” accomplice of Hunter S. Thompson….

(7) DREAMTIME. “Thandie Newton Wants to See More Diversity in Sci-Fi” – a New York Times Magazine interview.

Your character Maeve in HBO’s “Westworld” is an android or “host” in a theme park. What do you think it means to have characters of color in genre work? A lot of what’s in the mainstream doesn’t have people of color. What irritates me is that science fiction is the place where you could have us. Science fiction is a projection of a time that hasn’t even happened, so if you don’t populate that place with people of different skin tones, shame on you. What it actually is is the reflection of what those makers do in their daily lives, how little they hang out with people of different skin tones. These are the key people and it’s like, “Oops-a-daisy, I don’t have a lot of black friends,” and that’s a reality.

Some of the stars in the new “Star Wars” films who are black and brown have found themselves being harassed on social media. Kelly Marie Tran, who was in last year’s “Star Wars” movie, just quit social media altogether because of harassment. Where there’s greatest progress, there’s greatest resistance. It’s a sign of getting somewhere if people get pissed about it….

(8) JAR (NOT JAR JAR). Chuck Wendig immediately complies with a fan’s request.

(9) EPISODE NINE EPISODE NINE EPISODE NINE. Not the Beatles — A.V. News found out the original Lando is making a comeback: “Billy Dee Williams to finally class up the Star Wars sequels in Episode IX”.

Now that Snoke is dead and the mystery of Rey’s parentage has been definitively addressed in a way that was clever and interesting (even if it didn’t live up to the internet’s boring fan theories), there’s only one lingering question that has plagued Star Wars fans: Where the hell has Lando Calrissian been since Return Of The Jedi? Well, it looks like we’re finally going to find out in J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode IX, as The Hollywood Reporter’s sources have confirmed that Billy Dee Williams will be reprising his role as the galaxy’s smoothest gambler/smuggler/gas planet mayor in the next movie.

(10) NATIONAL MOURNING. Today’s Bristol Herald-Courier’s “News Quiz” features this question:

  1. U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes’ office confirmed that the White House initially declined to act on a request to lower the U.S. flag to half-staff after which event?
    1. The Fourth of July
    2. The deadly mass shooting at the Capital-Gazette office in Annapolis, Md.
    3. The death of science fiction writer Harlan Ellison
    4. The separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border

(11) FAREWELL, GARDNER. Michael Swanwick posted “Eight Pictures from the Gardner Dozois Memorial”: Christopher Casper, George R.R. Martin, Joe Haldeman, Samuel Delany, and others.

…All in all, a very sad event, laced with laughter.

(12) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 10, 1962 — Telstar satellite launched.

Trans-Atlantic television and other communications became a reality as the Telstar communications satellite was launched. A product of AT&T Bell Laboratories, the satellite was the first orbiting international communications satellite that sent information to tracking stations on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Initial enthusiasm for making phone calls via the satellite waned after users realized there was a half-second delay as a result of the 25,000-mile transmission path.

  • July 10, 1981 Escape From New York premiered
  • July 10, 1981 Time Bandits debuted in the UK.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born July 10, 1926 – Fred Gwynne (Herman Munster). (1926-1993)
  • Born July 10, 1929 – George Clayton Johnson (1929-2015)
  • Born July 10 – Chiwetel Ejiofor, 42. Roles in Serenity, Doctor Strange, the animated Sherlock Gnomes and The Martian. Yes Sherlock Gnomes voicing Watson.
  • Born July 10 — Peter Serafinowicz, 47. Lead role in The Tick and in the alien abduction series People of Earth, the voice of The Fisher King in Doctor Who, and a role in The Guardians Of The Galaxy 

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

“Peter Pan” author J.M. Barrie played on a cricket team with Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the “Sherlock Holmes” series; “Winnie-the-Pooh” author A.A. Milne; novelist H.G Wells; and P.G. Wodehouse, author of the Jeeves and Wooster series; among other writers. They called themselves the Allahakbarries, a play on the Arabic “Allahu akbar,” which the men misinterpreted to mean “Heaven help us” but actually means “God is great.” The team was reportedly terrible.

(16) MAN OF BRONZE. MeTV invites you to “Check out the new James T. Kirk statue in the Iowa town sanctioned as the captain’s birthplace”.

During Trekfest XXXIV in Riverside, Iowa, a new statue was unveiled that pays tribute to Captain James T. Kirk. The statue is a life-sized bronze model of the Star Trek icon, and its the product of artist Jurek Jakowicz of Sioux Falls, S.D., and a slew of Trek fans in the Iowa community and beyond.

The idea for the statue, though, was sparked by a former Riverside councilman Steve Miller, who had a bigger vision for his town: to make it the properly sanctioned future birthplace of Captain Kirk. His efforts began in 1985 when he got in touch with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, to ask if he would sign off on Riverside as Kirk’s official hometown. Roddenberry called the idea “enterprising” and gave Miller the OK.

KCII radio covered the dedication on July 4.

Thirty-four years later Miller helped unveil the lifesize bronze statue of Kirk at this year’s Trekfest. At the unveiling Miller shared about his journey making Riverside the future birthplace of Kirk and getting a statue made, “The statue, like I said, has been a goal for years. I had two goals, get a statue of William Shatner’s Captain Kirk and to keep Paramount Studios from suing me, and so far we’ve succeeded in both of those!”

(17) SPINNING SILVER. The Book Smugglers’ Thea James and Ana Grilo do a “Joint Review: SPINNING SILVER by Naomi Novik”.

Thea says:

…This is a nuanced, intricate narrative that plays with the most powerful fairy tale tropes, written in a grace that Naomi Novik alone can achieve. There are patterns throughout the story, three daughters, three wives, three lives intertwined by fate and determination to rise above the “destiny” carved out for each of them by men in their lives. I love that our perception of these characters–and the men around them–also changes over the course of the story. There are monsters, to be sure–Wanda’s father for one, and the fire demon within Tsar Mirnatius, for another–but what I love so much about this story is how everyone is more than what they initially seem. Even the cruelest winter king is given depth and humility, if not humanity, as the novel unfolds….

Ana says:

…For us as readers, we can only see what they see, and I was flabbergasted at how the author was able to twists their stories, the stories of the men around them, and myself around her little finger. The journey was excellent – in the way that the real story slowly unveiled itself in minutia, in gestures, in the things hidden in silence….

(18) THE LARD BE WITH YOU. Lissa Townsend Rodgers of Extra Crispy confesses: “I Made the Strangest Recipe in Vincent Price’s Cookbook”.

Published in 1971, Cooking Price-Wise contains wisdom like, “In the thirteenth century cheese was used as a substitute for cement in England, when the cheese got stale, that is. I don’t advocate keeping your cheese that long just to find out if it works.” Chapters on bacon, potatoes, and fish contain recipes that seemed exotic at the time. “People always seem afraid of food from other countries,” Price writes. He attempts to shake them out of their comfort zone with Fish Fillets Nord Zee, Moroccan Tajine [sic], and Biffes de Lomo Rellenos.

As I was scanning Cooking Price-Wise for a recipe to make, I saw two magic words—words that have been in many of my favorite dishes, but have never been put together before. I’m talking about bacon and mousse. Here is Vincent price’s recipe for bacon mousse….

(19) CRIMES AGAINST THE OZONE. The mystery release of ozone-layer-depleting chemicals reported on in File 770 earlier (see the 2nd half of item 11 here) has apparently been tracked down. The NGO Environmental Investigations Agency (EIA) is reporting that the banned chemical CFC-11 is being used as a “blowing agent” in the production of cheap insulation in China’s home construction industry. Quoting the BBC article “Ozone hole mystery: China insulating chemical said to be source of rise”

Researchers from the EIA, a green campaign group, contacted foam manufacturing factories in 10 different provinces across China. From their detailed discussions with executives in 18 companies, the investigators concluded that the chemical is used in the majority of the polyurethane insulation the firms produce.

One seller of CFC-11 estimated that 70% of China’s domestic sales used the illegal gas. The reason is quite simple – CFC-11 is better quality and much cheaper than the alternatives.

“We were absolutely gobsmacked to find that companies very openly confirmed using CFC-11 while acknowledging it was illegal,” Avipsa Mahapatra from EIA told BBC News.

“The fact that they were so blasé about it, the fact that they told us very openly how pervasive it is in the market, these were shocking findings for us.”

(20) ASK THE MAN WHO OWNS ONE. Adrian Tchaikovsky, 2016 Clarke Award winner, gives his rundown of this year’s finalists: “At the Eleventh Hour: The Arthur C Clarke Award shortlist 2018”. For example:

Dreams Before the Start of Time – Anne Charnock, 47North

Anne Charnock is having a good year, frankly, having already picked up a BSFA Award at Easter (and a good career, having been shortlisted for a Kitchie and a Phillip K Dick award previously). She’s a thought-provoking and insightful writer and Dreams is a very different sort of book to the others on the list. It’s a gentle look at three generations of several interlinked families over the next hundred years or so, and its focus is very much speculation about the family structure and child-bearing, how these things may change (entirely believably) in the near future, and what knock-on effects those changes could have….

(21) DITKO. NPR’s Glen Weldon pays tribute to the late comics genius in “Remembering Steve Ditko: Forget Kirby Dots, Let’s Talk Ditko Sparkles”.

First, let’s tick off those facets of his work that left such an impression on people.

First, his faces.

Or, technically, his fondness for their absence, in whole or in part.

Consider: Here was a guy who put his hero — and not just any hero, but freaking Spider-Man, whose whole deal is just how achingly, embarrassingly relatable, and friendly, and (not to put too fine a point on it) downright neighborhoody he is, in a full-face mask.

Let’s agree: That was a gutsy move. Sure, Batman had been around for decades, and his cowl covered something like 5/6ths of his big ol’ melon’s surface area, but Bruce’s chin and mouth were exposed, so at least you could see him grimace, or gasp, or smile (it was 1962, Batman still smiled back then). Comics are a visual medium — readers need to see the characters’ facial expressions to stay emotionally engaged.

But Ditko loved drawing inscrutable faces — masked, half-masked, or sunk in shadows….

(22) BREAKTHROUGH DELAYED. Yin Yijun analyzes “The Three-Book Problem: Why Chinese Sci-Fi Still Struggles” at Sixth Tone.

Liu Cixin’s epic trilogy was expected to take Chinese science fiction into a new era, but the genre is still far from its lofty ambitions.

…The editors and Liu opted to serialize “The Three-Body Problem” in Science Fiction World, which at the time had a 200,000 nationwide circulation. They were worried that Chinese readers wouldn’t be especially interested in sci-fi compared to other literature genres, but hoped that “The Three-Body Problem” could open up a new chapter for Chinese sci-fi.

And it did — for a time.

In 2015, the first installment of “The Three-Body Problem” trilogy won the prestigious Hugo Award for best novel, triggering media coverage and large-scale public attention — including, famously, an endorsement by former U.S. President Barack Obama. It increased the profile of Chinese sci-fi both domestically and internationally, and raised the possibility that sci-fi could finally extend beyond the pages of novels. In 2014, after the English-language translation was published, Chinese movie production house Yoozoo Pictures announced that it would adapt the series into a six-part motion picture.

But the much-hyped movie never happened. Filming took place in the first half of 2015, and the first movie was scheduled to premiere in July 2016. Over the past three years, the schedule has been continuously pushed back, in part due to sky-high expectations for visual effects and an unexpected company restructure.

There’s been no news recent news about “The Three-Body Problem” movie, but after a report in March that Amazon’s on-demand service planned to create a television show of the series, Yoozoo reiterated that it was the franchise’s legal copyright holder for all types of adaption. At a group interview with Sixth Tone and other media outlets during the anniversary meeting, Liu — who is serving as the project’s chief consultant — directed all questions about the movies to Yoozoo. For now, “The Three-Body Problem” remains hamstrung by its lack of visual depictions; it can hardly monetize certain aspects of the stories like international franchise “Star Wars” has been able to do with lightsabers if there are no movie or game representations.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/21/18 It’s A World Of Fiction, A World Of Smiles, It’s A World Of Pixels In Daily Files

(1) THE FRUITS OF VICTORY. Mark Lawrence posted a photo of the award being sent to the winner of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off: “Where Loyalties Lie wins the PRESTIGIOUS SPFBO Selfie Stick!”

Yes, that time has come again. Following Where Loyalties Lies’ defeat of 299 other fantasy books in SPFBO 2017, it remained only for me to commission the fabled craftspeople of somewhere with low labour costs to fashion the third SPFBO Selfie Stick award.

This exquisite award, carved by hand from finest polymer resin has no association whatsoever with any wizarding school. So shut up.

(2) MORE SPFBO FUN. David H. introduced Filers to the “SPFBO title generator” in a comment:

My favorite titles generated were “The Legacy Shadow of the Legacy Shipwreck” and “The Brutal Raven of the Last Faces.” Someone got “The Foolish Oath of the Necromancer,” which sounds great, too.

I gave it a whirl and got The Spinning Kingdom of the Rise

(3) SFF IN TURKEY. The Economist explores “Why Turkish students are turning to speculative fiction”.

…In this difficult climate, speculative fiction has thrived as students turn to magical worlds to understand the grimness of the real one. A hundred books in the genre are being published in the country each year. Fantasy Fiction clubs continue to grow as students gather together to wage good against evil in unfettered realms. Istanbul University Science Fiction and Fantasy Club (BKFK), resurrected in the autumn of 2016, now claims more than 150 members. Fantasy has so far avoided the censors’ displeasure, though two men were indicted for “publicly denigrating” president Recep Tayyip Erdogan by likening him to Gollum, a character in “The Lord of the Rings” (one has since been acquitted).

“Despite what the name suggests, this genre is very interconnected with life,” writes Asli, the editor of Siginak, a fantasy-fiction magazine run by students (throughout this piece we refer to students only by their first names in the interests of their safety). In her story, titled “R-09 and Pluto”, two artificially intelligent robots contemplate the limits of their brains. Humans, the bots agree, are afraid of their creation’s potential power, so rules are designed to limit the use of their full intellect and to keep them from questioning authority. What could happen, one bot suggests, if they broke those rules and freed their minds?

(4) DANGEROUS VISIONS. Jonathan Cowie draws attention to BBC Radio 4’s new season of Dangerous Visions SF dramas: “Dangerous Visions: back… with a difference!” They include –

  • A 5-part drama (45 minute episodes) called First World Problems in which Britain fractures into civil war and a family with a Down’s syndrome teenager has to make some tough decisions.
  • A one-off 45 minute play called Freedom.

Marian has always told her son, Jamie, that it is fine to be gay, fine to be who you really are and that, in years to come, of course it will be possible for him to marry another man or adopt children.

All this changes when a newly elected coalition government decides political correctness has got out of hand and passes a Freedom Law that licenses both the freedom to say whatever you like, however hateful, and the right not to be offended. Now Jamie has to decide how to be true to himself in a society where intolerance has become acceptable, and Marian confronts what she might need to do to keep him safe.

An absorbing play about the political becoming personal and how an apparently liberal society can threaten those who don’t conform.

  • A one-off 45 minute play called Speak.

Lucian has a vocabulary that is limited to a core 1500 words, but Clara wants to teach him those that are forbidden. A dystopian love story about the power of words, set in a near future where the language spoken is Globish – a reduced version of English.

The OED lists 171,476 English words in current use. The average adult native English speaker has an active vocabulary of about 35,000 – 50,000 words. But studies suggest our vocabularies are shrinking.

Globish is a real international business language, developed in 2004, made up of the most common 1500 English words. It is designed to promote international communication in the global economy. ‘Speak’ imagines a future in which Globish has become the official language.

A gripping two-hander about the power of words; how words – and even more, the absence of words – can control, confine, leach emotion and trap minds.

(5) INKLINGS BEGINS. Brenton Dickieson recounts a bit of literary history with the help of a Lewis biographer: “The First Meeting of the Inklings, with George Sayer”.

For years no regular event delighted Jack more than the Thursday evening meetings of the little group of friends called the Inklings. His was the second group to use this name. Its predecessor was founded in about 1930 by a University College undergraduate named Tangye Lean. Members met in each other’s rooms to read aloud their poems and other work. There would be discussion, criticism, encouragement, and frivolity, all washed down with wine or beer. Lean’s group consisted mainly of students, but a few sympathetic dons were invited to join, including Tolkien and Jack, who may have been Lean’s tutor. Lean graduated in June 1933, and that autumn Jack first used the name the Inklings to describe the group that had already begun to meet in his rooms.

It was always utterly informal. There were no rules, no officers, and certainly no agenda. To become a member, one had to be invited, usually by Jack. Nearly all members were his friends.

(6) BABY’S BIRTHDAY. BBC recalls “The ‘Baby’ that ushered in modern computer age”.

A machine that took up an entire room at a laboratory in Manchester University ran its first programme at 11am on 21 June 1948.

The prototype completed the task in 52 minutes, having run through 3.5 million calculations.

The Manchester Baby, known formally as the Small-Scale Experimental Machine, was the world’s first stored-program computer.

(7) GOLDEN AGE. Steven H Silver celebrates an author’s natal day in “Birthday Reviews: Cleve Cartmill’s ‘Huge Beast’” at Black Gate.

Cleve Cartmill was born on June 21, 1908 and died on February 11, 1964. Cartmill also used the name Michael Corbin when he had two stories appearing in the same issue of Unknown Worlds in 1943.

He is perhaps best known for his story “Deadline,” which appeared in the March 1944 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. The story was discussed at Los Alamos, where Edward Teller noted that Cartmill had described aspects of their research in detail. The discussion led to an FBI investigation into Cartmill, Campbell, and some other science fiction authors. Cartmill is said to have had a low opinion of the story, himself.

(8) OCTAVIA BUTLER GOOGLE DOODLE. Google is honoring Octavia Butler’s birthday, June 22, with this artwork:

(9) IN THE BACK YARD. Jeff VanderMeer is not a gardener’s typical customer:

(10) OUT OF THE TOOLBOX. Nancy Kress shared these humorous highlights from the Taos Toolbox critiques:

At Taos Toolbox, Carrie Vaughn gave a great talk on goal setting and handling a long series. We also had two lectures, Walter’s and mine, and critiqued four manuscripts — a long day. Memorable quote from the critiques:

“I love when she stuffs the alien pterodactyl shell down her bra.”

“Space seems to have been colonized only by Germans.”

“You can’t really hide a pulsar.”

“It needs to be clearer that the starfish and the librarians are different species.”

“I love that she gave away Mars.”

“WTF did I just read — in a good way!”

“It’s Guardians of the Galaxy meets House of Usher.”

“There are too few bicycles in fantasy. Gandalf would have ridden a Cannondale.”

“You might want to put some people on the planet who aren’t dumb as stumps.”

(11) THE SKY’S NOT THE ONLY LIMIT. Multiple record-holding astronaut Peggy Whitson is retiring from NASA, in large part because she’s been in space so long (over several missions) that she’s hit her lifetime radiation limit. Among other things, Whitson, holds the U.S. record for the most cumulative time in space. She’s been the oldest female astronaut in space (57), the oldest female spacewalker, and has the record for the most spacewalks by a woman (10). She was also the first female chief of the Astronaut Office—she stepped down from that in 2012 so she could fly more missions.

SYFY Wire says “Everyone should know Peggy Whitson’s name”.

This doesn’t come as a huge shock; there’s actually a very good, practical reason that Whitson stepped down. Anyone that is outside the protection of the Earth’s atmosphere is exposed to higher levels of radiation. There are yearly exposure limits, as well as lifetime limits, established by NASA. Whitson is so well-traveled that this has become a problem. “I have hit my radiation limit,” she told Business Insider. As a result, she can no longer fly in space through NASA

A BBC News video story about what she had to overcome — “100 Women: Astronaut Peggy Whitson on being told she’d never go to space”.

Quoting the NASA press release, “Record-Setting NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson Retires”:

“Peggy Whitson is a testament to the American spirit,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Her determination, strength of mind, character, and dedication to science, exploration, and discovery are an inspiration to NASA and America. We owe her a great debt for her service and she will be missed. We thank her for her service to our agency and country.”

Whitson, a native of Beaconsfield, Iowa, first came to NASA in 1986 as a National Research Council Resident Research Associate at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. She served in a number of scientific roles, including project scientist for the Shuttle-Mir Program and co-chair of the U.S.-Russian Mission Science Working Group, before her selection to the astronaut corps in 1996.

“It has been the utmost honor to have Peggy Whitson represent our entire NASA Flight Operations team,” said Brian Kelly, director of Flight Operations at Johnson. “She set the highest standards for human spaceflight operations, as well as being an outstanding role model for women and men in America and across the globe. Godspeed, Peg.”

As an astronaut, Whitson completed three long-duration missions to the International Space Station, setting records on each. She made her first trip in 2002 as part of Expedition 5, during which she took part in 21 science investigations and became NASA’s first space station science officer. In 2008, Whitson returned on Expedition 16 and became the first female commander of the space station.

During her most recent mission, spanning Expeditions 50, 51 and 52 from November 2016 to September 2017, Whitson became the first woman to command the space station twice (Expedition 51). She also claimed the title for most spacewalks by a woman – 10 spacewalks totaling 60 hours and 21 minutes – and set the record for most time spent in space by a U.S. astronaut at 665 days.

(12) RETURN OF SARAH CONNOR. Any dedicated Terminator fans in the house? You guys have your own website!

TheTerminatorFans.com has pictures from the set of the upcoming Terminator movie showing Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor: “Exclusive First Look at Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in Terminator (2019)”.

(13) MASS DEFECT. Today’s issue of Nature reports some (just some) of the universe’s missing mass seems to have been found.

(14) SEA LEVEL. Another Nature comment paper (open access) assesses whether “Sea-level rise could overwhelm coral reefs” [PDF file]. Research paper abstract here, also behind a paywall if you’re not a Nature subscriber.

(15) LAST JEDI REMAKERS. ULTRAGOTHA asks: “Have you seen this? Some, er, I can’t actually call them fans, are evidently attempting to raise money to re-make a DISNEY property. Presumably to get rid of POC and Girl Cooties. Or maybe they’re not raising money and some ‘Producers’ have pledged to pay for this?  What producer in his right mind would think he could get away with meddling with a Disney property, or that Disney would agree to this?”

Chuck Wendig has some questions for them in this Twitter thread.

Travis Clark, in “‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ director Rian Johnson taunted a campaign to remake the movie” on Business Insider, says somebody on Twitter using the account Remake The Last Jedi claims to have enough money to remake Star Wars: The Last Jedi, a claim mocked by many, including Rian Johnson:

(16) GENRE BLENDING. “Hong Kong sci-fi film mixes robots and Chinese opera” (video).

Featuring flying warrior robots and guitar-toting opera singers, Hong Kong animation Dragon’s Delusion aims to break stereotypes of Chinese culture.

Its producers are now making a feature-length film after a successful crowdfunding exercise.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/19/18 I Get No Glyphs From Sham Flames

(1) MEXICANX. The final four of 50 Mexicanx Initiative recipients have been announced by John Piciacio.

(2) DEEP DISH READING SERIES. Chicago’s Deep Dish SF/F reading series will resume at Volumes Book Cafe beginning in September. Here is the schedule:

September 6, 2018
November 8, 2018
March 7, 2019
May 9, 2019

Join us from 7 – 8:30 p.m. for a rapid-fire reading from the best of Chicago’s SF/F scene!

If you’re interested in reading with us, drop the SLF’s director, Mary Anne Mohanraj, a note — director@speclit.org, with the subject line READING SERIES. We welcome beginners, emerging, and established writers, though if you have a book coming out next year, do let us know, as we’ll try to schedule you for a featured slot.

Co-sponsored by the Speculative Literature Foundation (www.speclit.org), SFWA (www.sfwa.org), and the Chicago Nerds Social Club (www.chicagonerds.org).

(3) BUILDING THIS WORLD. Malka Older’s talk on “Speculative Resistance” at #PDF18 is available on YouTube. Think about worldbuilding as an activist tool and a planner tool.

(4) NEWS TO THEM. We should be celebrating when someone is one of today’s Lucky 10,000 — A. Merc Rustad encourages the idea in a Twitter thread that starts here.

(5) IT’S WAR. Manchester, UK theatergoers can enlist for War With The Newts, with the campaign to be staged October 2-6.

The creators of smash-hit “Bin Laden: The One Man Show” bring you Karel Capek’s apocalyptic science-fiction satire re-imagined for a Europe of tomorrow. Global risk and technological revolution come together in this immersive experience from Knaïve Theatre. Fresh from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Witness the rise and fall of a new(t) capitalism. Deep in the bowels of an oyster-dredging vessel, an ocean of opportunity arises as a new resource makes contact. With live surround sound installation by sonic artist Robert Bentall.

At the discretion of The Company life jackets may be provided.

(6) CHECK THE BACK OF YOUR CLOSET. Yahoo! Finance advises “Your old video games could be worth serious cash”.

That’s right, those vintage consoles and games your mom dumped in the basement years ago could be worth some serious cash to the right buyer. Got a copy of “Nintendo World Championships 1990?” Then you’re looking at $100,000. But it’s not all about the cash. Many collectors are more interested in rounding out their personal game libraries, reliving the games they loved as children or simply exploring the history of the gaming industry first-hand.

(7) TIME TUNNELS. The New York Transit Museum’s exhibition “Underground Heroes: New York Transit in Comics” runs from June 21 through January 6, 2019.

New York’s rich visual vernacular is a colorful setting for illustrated stories, so it comes as no surprise that our iconic transportation system plays a starring role in comics and graphic novels. Drawing on satirical cartoons, comic strips and comic books from the 19th through the 21st centuries, Underground Heroes: New York Transit in Comics is a raucous ride through New York’s transit system from a range of visual storytellers. The exhibit includes such luminaries as Winsor McCay, Will Eisner, Bill Griffith, Roz Chast, Ronald Wimberly and Julia Wertz whose work demonstrates the influence that mass transit has on the stories that are irrevocably woven into the cultural fabric of New York City.

The Big Apple is often as important as the people (and creatures) in comics narratives, and the creators of these fantastic stories draw inspiration from the world around them. The transit system serves as the scene for heroic rescues, as secret lairs for supervillains, and as the site for epic battles of wills. Subways, railroads, streetcars, and buses can whisk heroes to far-flung corners of the city, or serve as a rogue’s gallery of unusual characters.

(8) SPACE FORCE. More Star Wars? “Trump Calls For ‘Space Force’ To Defend U.S. Interests Among The Stars” – NPR has the story.

President Trump Monday announced his intention to create a “space force” that would oversee the military’s activities off-world.

“When it comes to defending America, it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space,” Trump said at a meeting of the National Space Council, which oversees the nation’s space policy. “We must have American dominance in space. So important.”

“I’m hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces. That’s a big statement,” the president continued.

Experts were quick to point out that President Trump cannot actually create a space force. A new branch of the military can only be established by an act of Congress — something that hasn’t happened since the Air Force was split from the Army in 1947.

The CBS News story “Trump directs Pentagon to create military Space Force” adds:

Mr. Trump provided no details and no timetable, but the establishment of a new branch of the military would be a major undertaking requiring extensive debate and congressional support.

The Pentagon’s chief spokesperson Dana W. White issued a statement suggesting the process will take some time.

“We understand the President’s guidance. Our Policy Board will begin working on this issue, which has implications for intelligence operations for the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy. Working with Congress, this will be a deliberate process with a great deal of input from multiple stakeholders.”

In a letter to lawmakers last year, Defense Secretary James Mattis “strongly” urged Congress to reconsider a proposal to establish a separate “Space Corps,” saying it was “premature” to set up a new organization “at a time I am trying to reduce overhead.”

(9) SPEAK OF THE DEVIL. “Amazon Echo comes to Marriott hotels” reports the BBC. The fannish possibilities are endless…

Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa will be installed in some US Marriott-owned hotels, following a partnership between the two firms.

Its functions will include ordering room service, housekeeping and providing concierge advice, the firm said.

The Wynn Resorts chain in Las Vegas installed the Amazon Echo in around 5,000 hotel suites in 2016.

Marriott is reported to have considered both Alexa and Apple’s Siri.

(10) HOMEBUILT. “The $300 system in the fight against illegal images” is a story reminiscent of Gernbackian inventor SF — but for a cause that old SF probably couldn’t have discussed in print.

A security researcher has built a system for detecting illegal images that costs less than $300 (£227) and uses less power than a lightbulb.

Christian Haschek, who lives in Austria, came up with the solution after he discovered an image showing child sex abuse had been uploaded on his image hosting platform Pictshare.

He called the police, who told him to print it out and bring it to them.

However it is illegal to possess images of child abuse, digitally or in print.

“Erm… not what I planned to do,” Mr Haschek said.

Instead he put together a homegrown solution for identifying and removing explicit images.

Mr Haschek used three Raspberry PIs, powering two Intel Movidius sticks, which can be trained to classify images. He also used an open source algorithm for identifying explicit material called NSFW (Not Safe For Work), available free of charge from Yahoo.

(11) REVEALED. “And just look at that gorgeous cover by Reiko Murakami,” says JJ. Click through for a view — “A Smugglerific Cover: THE NINETY-NINTH BRIDE by Catherine Faris King”.

About the Novel

“Sister, would you please tell me a story?”

Dunya is fifteen when her father, the Grand Vizier, gives her over to the mad Sultan for his bride. Ninety-eight Sultanas before Dunya have been executed, slaughtered at the break of dawn following their first night with their new husband. But on her own wedding night, the ninety-ninth bride finds help from the mysterious and beautiful Zahra, who proposes to tell the Sultan a story…

The Ninety-Ninth Bride is a story of sisters and magic, and a kingdom on the brink of disaster.

(12) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 19, 1964The Twilight Zone aired its series finale, “The Bewitchin’ Pool,” written by Earl Hamner.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born June 19 – Zoe Saldana, 40. Both Guardians Of The Galaxy films, the entire Avatar film series, Star Trek series, and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl to name but a few of her genre films.
  • Born June 19 – Aidan Turner, 35. The Hobbit film trilogy, the BBC Being Human series, and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones film.

(14) DAMMIT, JIM, I’M A DOCTOR NOT A TEAMSTER. Syfy Wire says these comics will take us where no truck has gone before: “A new IDW comic is mashing up Star Trek and Transformers in the most glorious way possible”.

DW Comics, which has taken the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise on adventures with everyone from Doctor Who to Dr. Zaius, will be releasing a crossover comic titled Star Trek vs. Transformers. The four-issue miniseries is due out in September and will be written by John Barber and Mike Johnson, both of whom have written numerous Star Trek and Transformers comic book storylines.

…Artist Philip Murphy and colorist Leonardo Ito will be providing its distinct look, which will blend the unique aesthetic of 1973’s Star Trek: The Animated Series with 1984’s classic Transformers cartoon.

(15) WOMEN WRITERS OF THE SEVENTIES. James Davis Nicoll’s Tor.com series continues with the letter P: “Fighting Erasure: Women SF Writers of the 1970s, Part VIII”.

Katherine Paterson’s list of awards includes the Newbery, the National Book Award, the Hans Christian Andersen Award, and the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, among others. Her well-known novel Bridge to Terabithia, which helped inspire the Death by Newbery trope, is if not genre, then at least genre-adjacent. Bridge is strongly recommended to parents of children unduly burdened with excessive levels of joie de vivre.

(16) THE COMPETITION. Meg Elison reports Jason Sanford is kicking File 770’s ass. Well, it certainly makes more sense to send Sanford a buck for news that isn’t reported here than to reward Locus Online for posting news they found reading here.

(17) SPEAK, MEMORY. Wired says we have this to look forward to: “Now the Computer Can Argue With You”. The coming rise of our AI overlords now includes machine intelligence engaging in live formal debate with human debate champions… and maybe winning.

“Fighting technology means fighting human ingenuity,” an IBM software program admonished Israeli debating champion Dan Zafrir in San Francisco Monday. The program, dubbed Project Debater, and Zafrir, were debating the value of telemedicine, but the point could also apply to the future of the technology itself.

Software that processes speech and language has improved enough to do more than tell you the weather forecast. You may not be ready for machines capable of conversation or arguing, but tech companies are working to find uses for them. IBM’s demo of Project Debater comes a month after Google released audio of a bot called Duplex booking restaurants and haircuts over the phone.

IBM’s stunt Monday was a sequel of sorts to the triumph of its Watson computer over Jeopardy! champions in 2011. Project Debater, in the works for six years, took on two Israeli student debating champions, Zafrir and Noa Ovadia. In back-to-back bouts each lasting 20 minutes, the software first argued that governments should subsidize space exploration, then that telemedicine should be used more widely.

(18) QUICK SIPS. Charles Payseur gets to work on new releases in “Quick Sips – Uncanny #22 [June stuff]”.

Uncanny meets June with three stories and two poems and a decidedly dark tone. In these pieces people struggle with big issues. With systems and environments that are broken, that are hungry for blood. Where monsters and demons lurk. And they are settings where the characters are expected to accept their victimization, where if they struggle it will only hurt them more. Only, of course, these characters don’t accept that. Instead, they push back against these environments and when they meet someone who might have the power to change things, they seek to use that power. To convince it or take it in order to remake the world. Or to right a wrong situation. The stories are often violent, and uncomfortable, but they also shine with resilience and with care, and with the hope that things can get better. To the reviews!

(21) BOYCOTTING WENDIG. This protest has been just as effective as the Tor Boycott, wouldn’t you say? Chuck Wendig’s Twitter thread starts here.

(22) ENTRY LEVEL SUPERHERO. The Washington Post’s Sandie Angulo Chen interviews Huck Milner, who plays Dash Parr in The Incredibles 2: “‘Incredibles 2’ is a super first acting job for 10-year-old”.

Luckily for Huck, the filmmakers decided to replace the original voice actor, who is now in his 20s, with a more authentic-sounding 10-year-old’s voice. Back in fourth grade, Huck did the first audition, got a call for a meeting with the director, Brad Bird, and then received news so good, he thought it was a prank.

“I got the call that I had gotten the part, and I thought it was an April Fool’s joke, because my mom told me right around April Fool’s,” Huck recalled. “I really thought it was a joke.”

(23) EXPANDING UNIVERSE. Jennifer Maas, in “Alex Kurtzman Signs New Five-Year CBS-TV Overall Deal, WIll Expand Star Trek TV Universe” for The Wrap, says that Kurtzman has been named showrunner for Star Trek :Discovery and has his five-year pact to produce “new series, mini-series, and other content opportunities” related to Star Trek.

Under the agreement, CBS will have exclusive rights to produce all television content created and developed by Kurtzman’s new company, Secret Hideout, which is producing “Discovery.”

Kurtzman’s new deal comes after he split with his longtime producing partner Roberto Orci and their K/O Paper Products banner. Heather Kadin, formerly of K/O, will join Secret Hideout as president of television. Kadin previously worked at Warner Bros. and ABC, where she was instrumental in the development and production of such hit series as “Lost,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Alias.”

(24) CAPTAIN SIR PAT. Rumors say that Star Trek, under Kurtzman, might venture someplace man has gone before:

The Hollywood Reporter claimed on Tuesday (June 19) that Sir Patrick Stewart is attached to a brand new Star Trek series in development at CBS that will see him reprise his Next Generation role as Picard.

The project is reportedly one of several Star Trek series and miniseries that are being developed by Star Trek: Discovery showrunner Alex Kurtzman as part of his newly-signed multi-year production pact with CBS.

THR notes that the Picard series is in very early development, and might not happen at all, so it’s probably best that fans of The Next Generation don’t get their hopes up for a return of the Holodeck quite yet.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, 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 Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 1/18/18 It’s Pixels All the Way Down!

(1) ADAPTING L’ENGLE. “Realizing A Wrinkle in Time” behind-the-scenes featurette. Opens in theatres on March 9.

From visionary director Ava DuVernay comes Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” an epic adventure based on Madeleine L’Engle’s timeless classic which takes audiences across dimensions of time and space, examining the nature of darkness versus light and, ultimately, the triumph of love. Through one girl’s transformative journey led by three celestial guides, we discover that strength comes from embracing one’s individuality and that the best way to triumph over fear is to travel by one’s own light.

 

(2) TITANCON GOH. TitanCon 2018, to be held August 24-26 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, has announced its first guest of honour – Kit Cox.

Memberships will be on sale soon! If you’d like to find out more about the venue, dates and Guest of Honour, please click the link below to our website.

Kit Cox is known to most as the author of the Union-verse novels but this move to the written word came after many years of working in illustration, concept design and fine art.

A regular cartoonist for national papers; as well as a prolific illustrator in many RPGs, magazines and periodicals, Kit is one of the many creative names who goes silently hand in hand with more public figures. Always happy to place pencil to paper and try new things, Kit’s love of horror movies led him to the film industry working on many concepts for screen monsters and makeup designs; aided by a long academic study of casualty simulation and anatomy for that added realism.

(3) HAYDEN PLANETARIUM. Upcoming programs at New York’s Hayden Planetarium include —

January 22 – Spend an evening with Neil deGrasse Tyson as he reviews headline stories in the Universe, drawn from breaking news in 2017.

February 5 – Join astrophysicist Elizabeth Tasker as she discusses the structures and features of exoplanets, and their potential for harboring life.

(4) WISH UPON A STAR. Paul Gilster discusses interstellar travel without getting lost in “Pulsar Navigation: Mining Our Datasets” at Centauri Dreams.

Visualizing a Pulsar Navigation Network

Using millisecond X-ray pulsars (MSPs) for galaxy-spanning navigation raises more than a few questions, especially when we try to predict what an artificial pulsar navigation system might look like to outside observers. If we are willing to posit for a moment a Kardashev II-level civilization moving between stars at relativistic velocities, then we would make as one of our predictions that such a system would be suitable for navigation at such speeds. In following the predictive model of Vidal’s paper, we would then check through our voluminous pulsar data to see how such a prediction fares. The answer, in other words, is in our datasets, and demands analyzing the viability of pulsar navigation at high fractions of c.

To my knowledge, no one has yet done this, making Vidal’s paper a spur to such research. The key here is to make predictions to see which can be falsified. But a quick recap for those just coming in on the discussion. What Vidal (Universiteit Brussel, Belgium) offers is an examination of millisecond X-ray pulsars as navigational aids, of the sort we’re already beginning to exploit through experiments via NASA, Chinese efforts and studies at the European Space Agency.

(5) AN UNASSUMING AWARD. Mark Hepworth calls the judges of the Subjective Chaos (Kind of) Awards, “A group of book bloggers with an entirely trophy-free award but looks kinda fun anyway. I particularly like the ‘blurring the boundaries’ award.”

The writer of Bethan May Books introduces these sff awards with the admission, “Not really an award. There is no prize. Or a ceremony. I will be drinking though.”

Once upon a time, there was a book blogger, struggling to work out instagram and keep up with threads on twitter.

‘Just like me’ you may be thinking, ‘Who is Chuck Wendig anyway?’ right?

One day this hapless book blogger found herself invited to take part in an adventure of alarmingly increasing proportion.

The Wise Sage from The Middle Shelf declared ‘Come! Join us on our quest to discover the Best Books Released in 2017! There will be nominating, there will be shortlists, there will be endless twitter notifications the likes of which you’ve never seen before. But there will also be companionship, reknown, and most importantly; new books to read!’

And so our brave book blogger ventured forth into this new, daring fellowship. What perils await them as they forge through C’s categories? Will they conquer the towering mountains of books? And will their bonds prove strong enough to reach an agreement in the end?

These are The Subjective Chaos (Kind Of) Awards*

Do you dare follow the adventure?

Follow the link to their shortlist – your Mount TBR may grow!

(6) KEEPS ON TICKING. It’s awfully hard to get rid of them you know — “Amazon’s ‘The Tick’ Renewed for Second Season”.

The new season of 10 more episodes of the half-hour superhero series will premiere in 2019.

Amazon Studios has handed out a renewal to The Tick for a second season.

The new season of 10 more episodes of the half-hour superhero series will begin production in 2018 and is set to bow in 2019 exclusively on Prime Video in over 200 countries. The Tick is based on the acclaimed comic about an accountant who realizes his city is owned by a global supervillain long thought to be dead. He falls in with a strange blue superhero as he uncovers the conspiracy.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 18, 1644 — John Winthrop documented the first known unidentified flying object (UFO) sightings in North America.
  • January 18, 2008Cloverfield premiered. An Easter egg in the movie is a picture of the Beast from 20,000 Fathoms in a side view mirror of a car.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY POOH-FLINGER

  • Born January 18, 1882 — A.A. Milne

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) COMMUNITY BUILDING. Chuck Wendig calls these “Assorted Thoughts On Impostor Syndrome, Gathered In A Bouquet”.

…When I got there, arriving a bit early for the event, I went into the green room and I was alone.

Except for Neil Gaiman.

Neil Fucking Gaiman. Good Omens! Sandman! The Ocean at the End of the Lane! Stardust and Coraline and American Gods and Neverwhere and…

(C’mon. Dark poet, elegantly mussed hair, you know him, you love him.)

And I stood there for a moment, utterly frozen. He was, if I recall, looking at his phone.

And I said: “I can go.”

Because I thought, I should leave him alone! I don’t belong here. THIS IS RARE AIR AND I DO NOT DESERVE TO BREATHE IT.

And then he Tasered me and called security.

*checks notes*

Wait, no.

He smiled warmly and invited me in and was friendly and delightful and made me feel like I belonged. The other authors welcomed me too and it was awesome, even if I (even now!) still feel like a stowaway on that boat.

As writers we so often have the feeling like we are a Scooby-Doo monster about to be unmasked. I don’t think you ever really lose that.

BUT — and here is a vital part of the lesson — you can help diminish that feeling in other writers by making them feel welcome and a part of the tribe.

Recognize other writers feel like impostors too — and you can combat the feeling in yourself by helping them combat it when you welcome them. In this, community blooms.

You’ll never lose it. But you can help others feel like they belong. And when community grows you feel less alone

(11) THE JOY OF PULP. At Galactic Journey, The Traveler wishes Betty White a happy 41st birthday (for no particular reason at all) before taking up the latest F&SF — “[January 17, 1963] Things of Beauty (February 1963 Fantasy and Science Fiction)”.

One entity that has not stopped aging, and whose aging I have whinged upon quite frequently, is Fantasy and Science Fiction, a magazine now in its 14th year and third editor.  Editor Avram Davidson has given me a decent issue this time around, for which I am grateful.  See if you enjoy the February 1963 Fantasy and Science Fiction as much as I did…

Counter Security, by James White

Ah, now this is what I read sf for.  This largely autobiographical piece features a young, underemployed night watchman in a British department store who must solve the mystery of (what appears to be) a spiteful, peppermint chewing, floor-spitting, Black-hating skulker before the staff quit en masse from worry and fear.  I finished this novelette in one sitting on the beach at Waimea as the sun rose, and I’m not sure a more perfect half hour was ever spent.  Five stars.

(12) SAY CHEESE. Pictures of “DNA in action”: “Chemistry ‘Van Gogh’ could help with cancer”.

Human DNA contains the genetic instructions for building and running the human body.

It is RNA polymerase III’s job to come along and read the genetic instruction manual.

The team at the Institute of Cancer Research used a technique called cryo-electron microscopy, which won the 2017 Nobel Prize for chemistry for revolutionising biochemistry.

They purified RNA polymerase III, immersed it in water and then rapidly froze it.

This preserves the microscopic structure of objects and even captures them mid-movement.

A beam of electrons is then used to take images from lots of angles, which are then built up into a detailed 3D image.

Dr Alessandro Vannini, who published the findings in the journal Nature, told the BBC: “You don’t get the structure all at once, you just see individual strokes and it takes a while to see the big picture.

“It was definitely a Van Gogh.”

The researchers caught the molecular machinery binding to DNA, unzipping it and reading the information in the genetic code.

(13) FIRST SCAN. Neither snow, nor ice, nor gloom of night will keep these satellites from their appointed rounds — “ICEYE’s ‘suitcase space radar’ returns first image”. Works through clouds and at night, and is cheap enough that they could put up large numbers of satellites, allowing the same area to be photographed several times a day.

Finnish start-up ICEYE has released a “first light” image from its novel radar satellite, which was launched to orbit last Friday.

The picture depicts a region of Alaska incorporating Noatak National Preserve.

ICEYE is taking a radical new approach to satellite radar, shrinking the size of what have traditionally been big, power-hungry spacecraft into a volume similar to that of a suitcase.

The Helsinki-based firm plans to launch a large network of these platforms.

This will enable multiple radar images a day to be acquired over the same location on Earth – a service that has not previously been available.

(14) QUEASINE. And you thought crottled greeps sounded strange—the BBC reports “In Iceland, food is a challenge, not a meal”. Warning for graphic food descriptions!

Bringing people up-close to the source of their food is admirably rational, but that rotten fish seemed anything but. And as I ate my way down to and across capital city Reykjavik, eating more rotten, sour and dung-smoked foods, it occurred to me that Icelandic food culture was not only odd, but possibly unique. Though eating cheaper and often less-obviously appetizing parts of animals and plants is common, every other national cuisine I’d tried took pride in how good they were able to make their calf stomach (Bulgarian shkembe), sheep’s brain (Moroccan mokh mchermel) or cows’ tails (Jamaican oxtail stew). But Icelanders like Gísli, it seems, revel in how bad their traditional food is.

(15) IMPERVIOUS DIGESTIONS. New Tiptree Fellow Ineke Chen-Meyer is noted for nonfiction pieces like this one from 2016 — “Which Secret Superpower Do All Historical Fantasy Heroes Have?”

Nope, the most freakish physical attribute of the historical fantasy protagonist isn’t their catlike vertical leap or ability to absorb multiple blows to the head without CTE. It’s their immunity to death by diarrhoea. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m perfectly okay with trading historicity for a compelling story. It’s just that… well, if you specialise in killing off vast numbers of named characters, I’m surprised none of them have ever suddenly died of a communicable disease, throwing a spanner into the works of whatever elaborately engineered plan the rest of their faction had come up with. I know, it’s not as dramatic as a stabbing. But it’s also a rich, mostly-untapped source of dramatic irony: you can be the best in every aspect it’s possible for a person to control—the perfect warrior, the cleverest sage—and still get undone in the most unglamorous, most human of ways.

(16) PLUTOCRAT’S PICKS. From CNBC: “Bitcoin backer Cameron Winklevoss shares his 2 favorite science fiction books”. Not these two —

When a Reddit user asked if Winklevoss has read two other science fiction novels, “Cryptonomicon” or “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson, Winklevoss responded he’s checked those off of his list too.

(17) SUIT UP. Marvel says you’re invited to the Wedding of the Century – X-Men Gold.

(18) TOMB RAIDER. MGM has released Tomb Raider – Official Trailer #2.

Lara Croft, the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer, must push herself beyond her limits when she finds herself on the island where her father disappeared. From Warner Bros. Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, Tomb Raider is the story that will set a young and resolute Lara Croft on a path toward becoming a global hero. The film stars Oscar winner Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, The Danish Girl) in the lead role, under the direction of Roar Uthaug (The Wave), with Oscar-winner Graham King (The Departed) producing under his GK Films banner. The film¹s production begins on the heels of the 20th anniversary of the wildly popular videogame franchise from Square Enix, Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal.

 

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Steven H Silver, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Will R. and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 2018-01-02 The Scroll Awakens the Last Pixel

By JJ:

(1) INSPIRING THE RIGHT STUFF.  Space.com reports that American Girl’s latest entry in their doll line is an aspiring astronaut created with advice from NASA.

An 11-year-old aspiring astronaut who dreams of being the first person to go to Mars is blasting off as American Girl’s 2018 Girl of the Year.

Described as a champion of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), Luciana Vega is styled with brown eyes, medium skin and dark brown hair with a “distinctive purple streak to show off her creative side.” She comes packaged with a nebula-patterned dress and silver iridescent shoes.

American Girl will also offer a spacesuit outfit modeled after NASA’s Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) used on the International Space Station. Other accessories in the Luciana Vega collection include a blue Space Camp flight suit, a Maker Station and a Mars Habitat “loaded with science and research essentials for hours of pretend play.”

In addition to the doll and accessories, Luciana’s story is explored in a new book series authored by Erin Teagan and published by Scholastic… [and] “Blast Off to Discovery,” an educational program focused on helping third though fifth-grade students explore the wonder of space through Luciana-inspired content, including lesson plans, classroom activities, videos and a game.

(2) RECRUITING THE RIGHT STUFF.  In honor of Nichelle Nichols’ birthday on December 28, NASA engineer Bobak Ferdowsi told a story of a past encounter with her: (click on the tweet’s date/time stamp to read the whole thread)

(3) BOOK SUBMISSIONS OPEN.  Apex has announced that it is currently accepting submissions of Novels and Novellas.

Apex Book Company will be holding open novel and novella submissions from January 1st to January 31st, 2018. Anything sent outside of this time period will be deleted unread.

We will consider novellas in length of 30,000 to 40,000 words and novels in length up to 120,000 words, and are particularly looking for novels that fit within the dark sci-fi category. Dark fantasy and horror submissions are also welcome.

A literary agent is not required for submission. We may take up to three months or more to review your manuscript. Simultaneous submissions are okay. We will only accept one submission per author.

We only accept email submissions to apex.submission@gmail.com.

Additional details on the submission process can be found at the link.

(4) SHORT FICTION SUBMISSIONS OPEN.  Kaleidotrope Magazine has announced that it is currently open to submissions of Fiction, Poetry, Nonfiction, and Artwork until April 1, 2018.

Kaleidotrope tends very heavily towards the speculative – towards science fiction, fantasy, and horror – but we like an eclectic mix and are therefore interested to read compelling work that blurs these lines, falls outside of neat genre categories. Man does not live on space ships, elves, and ghostly ax murderers alone, after all. We’d suggest looking through the archives to familiarize yourself with the zine, and/or checking out other work by our past contributors, to get a sense of what we’re looking for and what we like.

In the end, what we want is interesting, sometimes unconventional work, well-written stories and poems that surprise and amuse us, shock and disturb us, that tell us things we didn’t know or reveal old truths in brand new ways. We want strange visions of distant shores, of imaginary countries and ordinary people, and work that doesn’t lose sight of entertainment and the joy of good writing.

We are also interested in publishing diverse writers. Kaleidotrope welcome writers of color and other groups, as well as work that represents the diversity of characters we want to see more of.

(5) SPOILER WARNING.  Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn has Taken a hard-line on spoilers for The Last Jedi:

The following items have been carefully curated to provide interesting non-spoilery information on the movie, but click judiciously if you haven’t seen it yet.

(6) PLUS ÇA CHANGE.  In a piece at Critical Hit, Kate Willaert engages in some cultural archaeology to find out how fans reacted to The Empire Strikes Back in 1980: [WARNING: Spoilers for The Last Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back at the link]

Today the general consensus is that Empire Strikes Back is the best Star Wars movie. It has an audience score of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.8/10 on IMDb, compared to A New Hope’s 96% and 8.7/10, respectively. These user scores weren’t generated until decades after the original trilogy was released, but it’s not like fan opinion could have shifted that much, right?

Thankfully, Archive.org has a collection of Starlog, so let’s take a look at issues #39-41. What were the fans saying?

As with The Last Jedi, fan reaction was mixed to say the least. Some felt it was better than the first one, some enjoyed it but had complaints, and some were disappointed. But what’s most interesting is how specific comments or criticisms mirror those of The Last Jedi…

(7) IT’S NOT WHAT YOU WERE EXPECTING.  Star Wars: Aftermath author Chuck Wendig has some thoughts about fan expectations in relation to The Last Jedi. (The below excerpt is non-spoilery, but there are SPOILERS at the linked blog post.)

I fucking loved it.

That’s it. That’s my review. It’s mostly just a series of excitable sounds with the occasional twirling around until I’m dizzy. But I’d rather look past my gibbon-like hoots and my strange, erotic dances and see what lies within. What lurks deeper. What do I see when I enter the DARK SIDE CAVE to have the truth revealed to me?

Your Expectations Will Not Be Met

Fandom is a tricky bear to wrestle. We love a thing so deeply, we entwine ourselves within it. We thread a little bit – sometimes a lot – of our identity into the thing. And we come to believe we own that thing, and further, we join a tribe of fellow owners who all have threaded themselves into it both intellectually and emotionally. We feel excited by what this thing can bring us. We develop pet theories. We craft and conjure the path we would take if we were ever handed the keys to the Thing We Love. We become excited and obsessive, a little bit. Sometimes a lotta bit.

But here’s the thing:

Stories can never be written for the fans.

Fan service isn’t a bad thing, per se, but it is sometimes a fairly lazy thing – it’s a comfortable signal, a soft chair, it’s Norm from Cheers where everybody knows his name. It’s to say, “You’re lost here, but look, here is a familiar friend to help you through. It’s to let you know that despite all the strange flora and the eyes glowing in the dark, you’re still a known quantity in a known land. This is a safe place.” When done overmuch, fan service does more than just introduce a few friendly faces. It burns down the trees. It lights up the dark. It slides a jukebox over and slams the top of it like it’s fucking Fonzie and suddenly, the Greatest Hits begin to play, just as you love them. Maybe in an order you don’t know, but still the songs you know and you adore.

The Last Jedi will not meet your expectations.

Oh, it knows them.

It is well-aware of them, in fact, and is well-aware that you have them. And it willfully… I don’t want to say disregards them, precisely, but in a sense, it has weaponized them against you. It knows you’ve seen all the movies. It knows you know the narrative beats, the tropes, the rhyming couplets of George Lucas, and then it gently puts them all in a magician’s hat, and then it reaches into the hat, and instead of pulling them back out, it pulls out a porg.

And then the movie hits you with the porg.

Whap.

That metaphor may have gotten a little out of hand, but I think you grok me.

The Last Jedi cares very much about your expectations.

It’s just not going to meet them.

(8) IT’S A THEORY.  On Twitter, Amelia Rose explains why she thinks that the much-maligned Star Wars prequels contain a very nuanced story told very, very incompetently. (Click on the tweet’s date/time stamp to read the whole thread; there are no spoilers for The Last Jedi in the main thread, but after the “FIN” there may be some SPOILERS in commenters’ tweets.)

(9) PAYBACKS ARE SWELL.  The Hollywood Reporter says that gross revenues on the new editions of the Star Wars franchise have exceeded $4 Billion, eclipsing Disney’s price to acquire Lucasfilm.

Combined, Disney and Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Stars Wars: The Force Awakens have surpassed $4.06 billion in ticket sales at the worldwide box office. While an interesting benchmark, it doesn’t, of course, account for the hundreds of millions spent to produce and market the trio of films, or the fact that Disney splits box-office grosses with theater owners. Conversely, Disney has minted additional money from lucrative ancillary revenue streams, merchandising sales and theme park attractions.

Opening in North America on Dec. 15, The Last Jedi zoomed past the $900 million mark on Thursday, finishing the day with $934.2 million globally, including $464.6 million domestically and $469.6 internationally (it doesn’t land in China until Jan. 5).

(10) EDITORIAL LICENSE.  On Facebook, Amanda Downs Champlin has taken artistic liberties with the newest character in the Star Wars franchise. [WARNING: NO SPOILERS, JUST TERMINAL CUTENESS]

(11) WITHERING HEIGHTS.  The Last Jedi has sparked widely-varying opinions on the appeal of Kylo Ren.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

  • Born January 2, 1920 – Isaac Asimov, Author and Damon Knight Grand Master of Science Fiction
  • Born January 2, 1959 – Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Editor (Tor Books)
  • Born January 2, 1973 – Lucy Davis, Actor (Etta Candy in 2017’s Wonder Woman)
  • Born January 2, 1980 – David Gyasi, Actor (Interstellar, Cloud Atlas, and The Dark Knight Rises)

(13) CAUGHT IN THE ACT.  SFF author Jason Sanford reports on a newly-revealed case of genre plagiarism:

Jake Bible, author of the Roak: Galactic Bounty Hunter series, claimed on Facebook and Twitter that Balogun Ojetade plagiarized his writing in Ojetade’s novel Scorpion Wine (Qiq, the Bounty Hunter). Bible released the image above showing extreme similarities between a section of Ojetade’s book (at left) and his own novel.

Bible said on Facebook that Ojetade’s novel “changed character names and the setting, but it is an almost word for word ripoff.”

Bible requested Amazon take down Ojetade’s novel, which it did. However, an entry for Scorpion Wine was still on Amazon as of this writing.

In a personal message Bible told me that because “bounty hunter is such a niche sub-genre that one of my readers found (the plagiarism) right away.” But Bible suggested other authors may want to examine Ojetade’s works for other possible cases of plagiarism.

(14) SHOPPING WHILE INTOXICATED.  SFF author Cherie Priest got a surprise delivery:

(15) TAKE THAT, COMCAST.  Motherboard explains how someone used wet string to get a broadband internet connection:

As the FCC prepares to the destroy the US internet by rolling back net neutrality protections, it’s no surprise that Americans are looking for alternatives to their corporate internet service providers (ISPs). These ISPs own all the cable that routes information through the internet, and trying to replace these networks with community-owned cable is a costly and challenging process.

Fortunately, a UK techie with a sense of humor may have found an alternative to expensive corporate broadband cables: some wet string.

It’s an old joke among network technicians that it’s possible to get a broadband connection with anything, even if it’s just two cans connected with some wet string. As detailed in a blog post by Adrian Kennard, who runs an ISP called Andrews & Arnold in the UK, one of his colleagues took the joke literally and actually established a broadband connection using some wet string…

Usually, broadband connections rely on wires made of a conductive substances like copper. In the case of the Andrews & Arnold technician, however, they used about 6 feet of twine soaked in salt water (better conductivity than fresh water) that was connected to alligator clips to establish the connection.

(16) DON’T LET THE CAT DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT.  Never underestimate the power of an SJW credential, especially if it’s a reader. KRLD reports that a White Settlement, Texas, City Councilman lost his showdown with the library’s beloved cat.

Elzie Clements’ final meeting as a member of the city council was Tuesday night. Clements tried to have Browser, the city’s docile grey tabby library cat, fired this past summer.

Browser got his job at the library when he was just a kitten. He was recruited from a local animal shelter as an inexpensive, effective method of pest control at the library.

In July, a city worker apparently demanded Browser’s removal after the worker was not allowed to bring a puppy to work at City Hall. Two-legged library workers were outraged, and many people who use the library often said that they were unhappy with Bowser’s dismissal.

The White Settlement City Council took up the issue of what to do with Browser, with Clements being the lone vote to get rid of the favorable feline.

Browser got a reprieve following a world-wide backlash, and reports say there were still some hard feelings among council members after the cat fight.

Councilman Clements eventually ran out of his 9-lives after he was defeated in a landslide in November’s election.

(17) NEXT WEEK, SKYNET.  Artificial learning algorithms are developing in unexpected directions:

(18) ARCHIVE THIS.  A digital museum is seeking a DMCA exemption for “abandoned Online games”, to preserve defunct gaming titles from being lost.

Every three years the US Copyright Office reviews and renews the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions at which time it considers exemptions to the law. It is currently looking at a proposal for allowing museums, libraries and archives to circumvent the DRM on abandoned online games such as FIFA World Cup, Nascar and The Sims.

The proposal was initiated by The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment (The MADE). The Made is a 501c3 non-profit organization with a physical museum located in Oakland, California. The gallery claims to be “the only all-playable video game museum in the world, [and] houses over 5,300 playable games.”

The Made is concerned that certain multiplayer and single-player games that require a server to run will be lost if exemptions are not made to the DMCA. It is not looking to circumvent current games but instead is looking to preserve titles that have already been shut down by the producer – City of Heroes (and Villains) would be a good example…

Supporters of the proposal had until December 18, 2017, to submit comments or evidence to the US Copyright Office. Opponents to the request now have until February 12, 2018, to present written arguments against it. Supporters will then be allowed a rebuttal period until March 14. The USCO will make its decision soon after the final rebuttals are read.

(19) IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK, REALLY.  SFF author Catherynne M. Valente, explaining the contents of boxes of fannish detritus to her fiance as they unpack in their new home:

(20) DEEP IMPACT.  Geologists from the Birkbeck University of London have discovered mineral forms never before reported on Earth on the Isle of Skye:

Geologists exploring the Isle of Skye got more than they bargained for when examining volcanic rocks on the Scottish site, finding mineral forms from a pre-historic meteorite impact that have never before been found on Earth.

The team, including members of Birkbeck’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Dr Simon Drake, Dr Andy Beard, Professor Hilary Downes and Jergus Baca, discovered evidence of a previously unknown, 60 million-year-old meteorite impact.

They had been examining a thick layer at the base of a 60 million-year-old lava flow, which they at first thought was a volcanic flow deposit called ignimbrite. After putting it under an electron microprobe, they discovered that it, in fact, contained rare minerals from outer-space…

These mineral forms – vanadium-rich and niobium-rich osbornite – have never before been reported on Earth, only collected in space dust on a prior NASA mission.

The Isle of Skye has been well explored by geologists, and the scientists were surprised that the ejecta layer had not been identified before. The first site of discovery, Drake explained, was steep, rough and very boggy, which may have deterred previous researchers from exploring the layer.

(21) QUICK THINKING.  A DungeonMaster recounts a player’s narrow escape on his “yourplayersaidwhat” Tumblr blog:

http://sword-wielding-fallen-angel.tumblr.com/post/169171999771/yourplayersaidwhat-dm-to-our-bard-the-six

(22) HELPFUL RESOURCE.  To assist award nominators, SFF Author A. C. Wise is maintaining an aggregated list of eligibility post links, which is being updated on an ongoing basis.

(23) GALACTIC POSITIONING SYSTEM.  NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has installed a new kinetic sculpture to assist spacefarers in their travels:

[Thanks to Substitute Editor of the Day JJ for pilfering all of these stories from friends, acquaintances, and randos on blogs, Facebook and Twitter. Credit for spelling and grammar goes to Copyeditor of the Day JJ. Blame for spelling and grammar mistakes goes to Scapegoat of the Day Camestros Felapton. Title credit goes to File 770 Contributing Editor of the Day JJ. Any complaints should be directed to – oh, who are we kidding? complaints will be ignored.]