Pixel Scroll 10/22/18 Scrolls Are From Mars, Pixels Are From Venus

(1) STFNAL MUSIC. Out of Mind, the new album by the band Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate, includes two songs inspired by Philip K. Dick and one by Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice. Here are the notes for “When I Was a Ship” —

This song was inspired by Ann Leckie‘s Ancillary series. The main character had once been a warship, whose artificial mind had been distributed within the ship, and also within many ancillaries – prisoners who have had their minds wiped. The ship itself and all of the other ancillaries was destroyed, leaving just one fragment of the mind left in one body.

And here’s a section of the lyrics —

That I was designed as a warrior slave
When I was an asset
I think I remember
The communal song
Of curious pleasure
The many mouths
The single phrase
Compounded eye
And reflected gaze
I am the last
I am my remains
All of my others
Dissolved in the flames

Leckie (who also likes their previous album When the Kill Code Fails) told readers of her blog where to find the new song –

You can hear “When I Was A Ship” on Spotify. You can also purchase it at Bandcamp,

Spotify requires registration.

(2) LEVAR BURTON READING SFF. The three most recent installments of LeVar Burton Reads: The Best Short Fiction, Handpicked by the World’s Greatest Storyteller feature —

  • Episode 34: “Singing on a Star” by Ellen Klages
  • Episode 35: “Yiwu” by Lavie Tidhar
  • Episode 36: “Morning Child” by Gardner Dozois

(3) A KILLER COMPLAINS. Christian Gerhartsreiter, aka Clark Rockefeller, now serving time in San Quentin for the murder of LASFS member John Sohus, has written a complaint to the New York Review of Books about Walter Kirn’s book about him.

Please forgive the extreme delay of this letter in response to Nathaniel Rich’s review of Walter Kirn’s book about me [“A Killer Con Man on the Loose,” *NYR*, May 8, 2014]. To the whole business I can only say that I barely ever knew Mr. Kirn. … His reasons for wanting retroactively to insert himself so deeply into my life, calling himself a “close friend,” seem either purely commercially motivated or perhaps speak to a deeper pathology on which I do not have the expertise to comment.

(4) FUNDING FOR A PUNK ROCK FUTURE. Editor Steve Zisson and associated editors are in the final week of a Kickstarter appeal to fund publication of A Punk Rock Future, their anthology featuring sf/f/h stories mashing up genre fiction and punk rock music.

Why now for this anthology? A punk strain not only runs through music and art but right through the heart of SFFH (think cyberpunk, steampunk, solarpunk, silkpunk, hopepunk, ecopunk, or whatever punk).

…It is the forward-thinking science fiction and fantasy community that is propelling all things punk into the future.

Want a recent published example of the kind of story you’ll read in A Punk Rock FutureThe Big So-So by Erica Satifka in Interzone. Or read Sarah Pinsker’s Nebula Award winner, Our Lady of the Open Road, published in Asimov’s. These influential stories were inspirations for this anthology.

The big news is that we will have stories from both writers in A Punk Rock Future!

The anthology will feature 25 stories by Erica Satifka, Sarah Pinsker, Spencer Ellsworth, Margaret Killjoy, Maria Haskins, Izzy Wasserstein, Stewart C Baker, Kurt Pankau, Marie Vibbert, Corey J. White, P.A. Cornell, Jennifer Lee Rossman, M. Lopes da Silva, R. K. Duncan, Zandra Renwick, Dawn Vogel, Matt Bechtel, Josh Rountree, Vaughan Stanger, Michel Harris Cohen, Anthony Eichenlaub, Steven Assarian and more to come.

The appeal has brought in $2,557, or 51 percent, of its $5,000 goal, with seven days to go.

(5) MUGGLES GOT TALENT. ULTRAGOTHA recommends this high school Harry Potter dance video posted by MuggleNet.com on Facebook.

(6) THE HOLE MAN. The Boring Company wants to give you a free ride. (No, not a Free Ride.) The Verge reports that “Elon Musk says the Boring Company’s first tunnel under LA will open December 10th.”

The rapid transit tunnel that Elon Musk’s Boring Company is digging beneath Los Angeles will open on December 10th, and free rides will be offered to the public the following night, Musk tweeted on Sunday evening.

The two-mile test tunnel underneath SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California, is a proof of concept for an underground public transportation system, which aims to transport passengers and vehicles beneath congested roadways on autonomously driven electric platforms called “skates.” The skates will theoretically transport eight to 16 passengers, or one passenger vehicle, along magnetic rails at speeds of up to 155 mph (250 km/h), Musk tweeted.

(7) PINOCCHIO ANTIFA? “Guillermo del Toro to direct new stop-motion Pinocchio for Netflix”Entertainment Weekly has the story.

Fresh off his Best Picture and Best Director Oscar wins for The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro is ready for his next project — and it’s one he’s been working on for a long time. Netflix announced Monday that it’s teaming up with del Toro for a stop-motion musical version of Pinocchio that is the director’s “lifelong passion project.”

Although Disney famously created an animated version of Pinocchio in 1940 (widely regarded to be among the studio’s greatest artistic achievements), the fairy tale was first written by Italian author Carlo Collodi in 1883. Del Toro’s version in particular will draw heavily from illustrator Gris Grimly’s 2002 edition, but will still pay homage to the story’s Italian origins — this Pinocchio will be set in 1930s Italy, under the reign of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

(8) RONNEBERG OBIT. Joachim Ronneberg has died at the age of 99 — “Joachim Ronneberg: Norwegian who thwarted Nazi nuclear plan dies”. Described as the most successful act of sabotage in WWII, he and his team destroyed the world’s only heavy-water plant.

In 1943, he led a top-secret raid on a heavily-guarded plant in Norway’s southern region of Telemark.

The operation was immortalised in the 1965 Hollywood film Heroes of Telemark, starring Kirk Douglas.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 22, 1919 – Doris Lessing, Writer, Poet, and Playwright born in Iran, who moved to Zimbabwe and later to England. Although considered a mainstream literary writer, she produced a number of genre novels, including the epic science-fiction quintet Canopus in Argos: Archives; about which, when it was disparaged by mainstream critics, she stated: “What they didn’t realise was that in science fiction is some of the best social fiction of our time.” She was Guest of Honor at the 1987 Worldcon, and received many literary awards, including the Nobel Prize for Literature. She died in 2013 at the age of 94.
  • Born October 22, 1938 – Christopher Lloyd, 80, Actor with genre credentials a mile deep, including as Doc Brown in the Hugo- and Saturn-winning Back to the Future movies and animated series, as Uncle Fester in the Hugo- and Saturn-nominated The Addams Family and Addams Family Values, as the alien John Bigbooté in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, and as the relentless Klingon nemesis Commander Kruge in the Hugo finalist Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Other genre films in which he had roles include the Hugo-winning Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Angels in the Outfield, InSight, The Pagemaster, the My Favorite Martian remake, R.L. Stine’s When Good Ghouls Go Bad, and Piranha 3D (which, judging by the big names attached, must have involved a hell of a paycheck).
  • Born October 22, 1939 – Suzy McKee Charnas, 79, Writer who is probably best known for The Holdfast Chronicles, a series of four books published over the space of twenty-five years, which are set in a post-apocalyptic world and are unabashedly feminist in their themes. She was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1975 based on the strength of the first volume, Walk to the End of the World, which won a Retrospective Tiptree Award. The second volume, Motherlines, was delayed in publication because (this being the late 70s) several publishers would agree to publish it only if the main characters were changed to men – an offer which she refused. Her novella Unicorn Tapestry was nominated for a World Fantasy Award and won a Nebula, her other works have received numerous Hugo, Nebula, Mythopoeic, Tiptree, Stoker, Sturgeon, and Lambda nominations and wins, and she has been Guest of Honor at several conventions including Wiscon and Readercon.
  • Born October 22, 1939 – Jim Baen, Publisher and Editor who started his literary career in the complaints department of Ace Books, becoming managing editor of Galaxy Science Fiction in 1973, then a few years later returning to Ace to head their SF line under Tom Doherty, whom he followed to Tor Books in 1980 to start their SF line. In 1983, with Doherty’s assistance, he founded Baen Books. In defiance of ‘conventional wisdom’, starting in 1999 he made works available via his Webscriptions company (later Baen Ebooks) in DRM-free ebook format; he gave many ebooks away for free on CDs which were included with paper books, and made many books and stories available online for free at the Baen Free Library. This built a loyal following of readers who purchased the books anyway, and his became the first profitable e-book publishing service. He edited 28 volumes in anthology series: Destinies and New Destinies, and with Jerry Pournelle, Far Frontiers. He was an active participant on Baen’s Bar, the readers’ forum on his company’s website, where he discussed topics such as evolutionary biology, space technology, politics, military history, and puns. He received eight Hugo Award nominations for Best Editor and three Chesley Award nominations for Best Art Director. He was Publisher or Editor Guest of Honor at several conventions, including the 2000 Worldcon (where OGH interviewed him on the program), and was posthumously given the Phoenix Award (for lifetime achievement) by Southern Fandom. He passed away from a stroke at the too-early age of 62, but his legacy endures in the continued success of Baen Books.
  • Born October 22, 1952 – Jeff Goldblum, 66, Oscar- and Saturn-nominated Actor, Director, and Producer whose extensive genre resume includes the Hugo-winning Jurassic Park and its sequels, the Hugo-nominated The Fly and its sequel, and the Hugo-nominated Independence Day and its-very-definitely-not-Hugo-nominated sequel. Other roles include the genre films Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, Earth Girls Are Easy, The Sentinel, Threshold, Transylvania 6-5000, Mister Frost, Thor: Ragnarok, and Hotel Artemis. In July 2018, a 25-foot statue of him appeared next to London’s Tower Bridge to mark the 25th anniversary of Jurassic Park.
  • Born October 22, 1954 – Graham Joyce, Writer and Teacher from England whose works ran the gamut from science fiction to fantasy to horror. His novels and short fiction garnered an impressive array of award nominations in a 22-year span, and he took home trophies for six British Fantasy Awards, one World Fantasy Award, and four Prix Imaginaire Awards, as well as an O Henry Award. He served as Master of Ceremonies at Fantasycons in the UK, and was Guest of Honor at several conventions, including a World Fantasy Convention. His thriving career was cut short by cancer at the age of 59.
  • Born October 22, 1956 – Gretchen Roper, 62, Singer, Filker, Conrunner, and Fan. Growing up in a family where mutilating lyrics was a sport prepared her for joining fandom and filkdom at the age of 18. After meeting and marrying co-filker Bill Roper, they co-founded Dodeka Records, a small publisher of filk tapes and CDs which frequently sells their wares at convention Dealer tables. She has run the filk programming for numerous cons, and has been Filk Guest of Honor at several conventions. She received a Pegasus Award for Best Humourous Song, and was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 2008. She was made a member of the Dorsai Irregulars, an invitation-only volunteer convention security team which has a lot of overlap with the filking community, in 2001.
  • Born October 22, 1958 – Keith Parkinson, Artist and Illustrator who began his career providing art for TSR games, and then moved on to do book covers and other art, as well as working as a game designer. In 2002, he became the art director for Sigil Games Online. He was a finalist for a Best Original Artwork Hugo, and earned 9 Chesley Award nominations, winning for each of his covers for the first two volumes of C.J. Cherryh’s Rusalka series. He was a recipient of NESFA’s Jack Gaughan Award for Best Emerging Artist, and was Artist Guest of Honor at several conventions. Sadly, he died of leukemia just after his 47th birthday.

(10) COMIC SECTION.

  • Half Full shows why a couple of Star Wars characters don’t hang out at the beach very often.
  • This classic Basic Instructions strip teaches one to be careful of books with forewords by Stephen King
  • There should be a prize for figuring out which sff story could have inspired this Bizarro joke.

(11) TIMELAPSE SFF SCULPTURE. On YouTube, artist Steven Richter has posted time-lapse videos of his creation of a number of genre sculptures. These include:

  • Voldemort

  • Venom

And quite a few more.

(12) COLD CASE. BBC discusses “The bones that could shape Antarctica’s fate” — aka who was really there first? It could matter if the current protocols are allowed to expire in 2048.

In 1985, a unique skull was discovered lying on Yamana Beach at Cape Shirreff in Antarctica’s South Shetland Islands. It belonged to an indigenous woman from southern Chile in her early 20s, thought to have died between 1819 and 1825. It was the oldest known human remains ever found in Antarctica.

The location of the discovered skull was unexpected. It was found at a beach camp made by sealers in the early 19th Century near remnants of her femur bone, yet female sealers were unheard of at the time. There are no surviving documents explaining how or why a young woman came to be in Antarctica during this era. Now, at nearly 200 years old, the skull is thought to align with the beginning of the first known landings on Antarctica.

(13) AIRPORT ANXIETY. John Scalzi has a growing suspicion that all glory is fleeting —

(14) ROAD THROUGH TIME. BBC reports “A14 road workers find woolly mammoth bones” and woolly rhino bones. Did you know there was such a thing as a woolly rhino?

A spokesman they were “the latest in a series of fantastic finds” from the team working on the A14.

So far, they have also unearthed prehistoric henges, Iron Age settlements, Roman kilns, three Anglo-Saxon villages and a medieval hamlet.

(15) SABRINA. The entire first season– 10 episodes– of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina become available to stream on Netflix this Friday.

(16) 1001 NIGHTS ART. NPR posts newly republished images by Danish illustrator Kay Nielsen — “Long-Lost Watercolors Of ‘1001 Nights’ Bring New Life To Age-Old Tales”. May be NSFW where you are.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Nielsen’s work, Taschen published all 21 of his original illustrations, reproduced directly from the never-before-seen original watercolors.

The extra-large coffee table book delivers an experience of its own — the prints are meticulously curated and presented in a blue velvet box, as if the book itself was a tale to unveil.

(17) WITCH WORLD REVIEWED. Galactic Journey’s Rosemary Benton reviews a prime Andre Norton novel, newly released in 1963 — “[October 22, 1963] A Whole New Fantasy (Andre Norton’s Witch World)”

When the subject of magic is approached in any of Norton’s writing there is never any easy solution lying right below the surface. Her flaire for piecing out information and not revealing more than what the characters themselves know keeps the reader on edge, as well as humble. This sense that there are always bigger forces at play, yet are never fully explained, teases the rational mind of the reader and allows for there to be doubt that anything “magical” can be easily quantified by rational, scientific method. It’s very disquieting when Norton’s established and venerated forces, like the witchcraft of the Women of Power and the Axe of Volt, are threatened by something indefinable that is even older and more powerful – travel across dimensions.

(18) QUICK SIPS. Charles Payseur finds a thread running through the stories in the October Clarkesworld — “Quick Sips – Clarkesworld #145”.

The October issue of Clarkesworld Magazine is all about survival. Or, I should say, about finding out what’s more important than survival. These stories take settings that are, well, grim. Where war and other disasters have created a situation where just holding onto life is difficult. Where for many it would seem obvious that it’s time to tighten one’s belt and get down to the serious business of surviving. And yet the stories show that surviving isn’t enough, especially if it means sacrificing people. That, without justice and hope beyond just making it to another day, surviving might not be worth it. But that, with an eye toward progress, and hope for something better (not just the prevention of something worse), people and peoples can begin to heal the damage that’s been caused and maybe reach a place where they can heal and find a better way to live. To the reviews!

(19) CODEWRITERS CODE. But for Jon Del Arroz’ wholehearted endorsement — “SQLite Created a Code Of Conduct And It’s AMAZING” [Internet Archive link] – it probably wouldn’t have come to my attention that SQLite, a library of public domain resources for a database engine, posted a Code of Conduct based on a chapter from The Rule of St, Benedict.

Having been encouraged by clients to adopt a written code of conduct, the SQLite developers elected to govern their interactions with each other, with their clients, and with the larger SQLite user community in accordance with the “instruments of good works” from chapter 4 of The Rule of St. Benedict. This code of conduct has proven its mettle in thousands of diverse communities for over 1,500 years, and has served as a baseline for many civil law codes since the time of Charlemagne.

This rule is strict, and none are able to comply perfectly. Grace is readily granted for minor transgressions. All are encouraged to follow this rule closely, as in so doing they may expect to live happier, healthier, and more productive lives. The entire rule is good and wholesome, and yet we make no enforcement of the more introspective aspects.

Slashdot’s coverage “SQLite Adopts ‘Monastic’ Code of Conduct” says the response has ranged from laughter to hostility, an example of the latter being —

On the other hand, Vox Day hopes it will be widely adopted [Internet Archive link].

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “First Bloom” on Vimeo is a cartoon showing an Imperial Chinese love story, directed by Ting Ting Liu.

[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W – have we really not used that one before? It didn’t come up on my search.]

Goodreads v. FIYAH, Round 2

Brian J. White, founding editor of Fireside Magazine, today pursued Goodreads’ deletion of FIYAH’s Series listing in two different forums on Goodreads. (He screencapped the entire interaction.) Thread starts here.

And there was heightened concern after Anathema Magazine, a “spec fic mag of work by queer POC/Indigenous/Aboriginals,” reported Goodreads has deleted its entry, too.

The discussion surfaced the Goodreads Librarian who deleted Anathema and some issues of FIYAH. A couple of excerpts (note, unfortunately I can’t make WordPress display only the selected tweet, so these come in pairs) —

Responses by Goodreads participants have focused on (1) Goodreads has a policy against listing publications which lack ASIN/ISBN numbers, and (2) denying that the enforcement could be anything besides business as usual, let alone an individual or institutional expression of racism.

Here are links to the discussions –

An important element of the controversy has been that Goodreads deleted these particular spec fic magazines while leaving intact the listings for many others. Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld, in a twitter thread that can be reached via Carrie Cuinn, describes his own encounters with Goodreads librarians, what rules were invoked then, and how decisions were made. Some of his tweets say —

Due to the attention now being paid, a reader contacted Brian J. White to say that an issue of his Fireside Magazine was (at some point) deleted by Goodreads –

Responses to Goodreads’ actions also include —

Bridget of SF Bluestocking wrote a thread which says in part:

Escape Artists says they will be taking down Mothership Zeta’s Goodreads listing in protest:

[Thanks to JJ and Mark Hepworth for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 5/22/18 The Return Of The Revenge Of The Son Of The House Of The Bride Of The Night Of The Living Pixel Scroll

(1) ROBSON ON WORLDBUILDING. Juliette Wade interviews celebrated author Kelly Robson in her latest Dive Into Worldbuilding hangout — “Kelly Robson and ‘Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach’”. Wade has both notes on the interview and a video at the link.

This hangout looks twice as exciting now that Kelly has gone on to win a Nebula in the meantime (for her novellette, A Human Stain)! It was a pleasure to have her on the show to talk about her recent novella, Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach.

Kelly started out by telling us about how critical economics was to this story. She’s passionate about economics! (And so she should be; worldbuilding without economics is flimsy.) She calls it “the physics of worldbuilding.” She told us that when she was first writing historical fiction, she began with medieval settings because it seemed more straightforward to manage, but that since then, she’s branched out into greater challenges. In this story, the historical portion is set in Mesopotamia!

(2) RECAP. Shannon Hale, one of the principals in the story, gives her own rundown of yesterday’s FanX antiharassment news in “My FanX craziness, annotated”.

Since this has blown up and become news, I’m going to lay out here all my interactions with FanX (Salt Lake City’s Comic Con).…

(3) IN TUNE. Olga Polomoshnova shares her analysis “On Lúthien’s power of singing” at Middle-Earth Reflections.

The fairest of all Children of Ilúvatar, Lúthien is not an ordinary character. Being the daughter of an Elf and a Maia, she inherited various traits of both kindreds. Among many of her gifts and skills singing was one of the most exceptional. However, when it comes to talking about Lúthien’s singing, we should bear in mind that hers was not renowned just for being done in a beautiful voice. Lúthien’s songs possessed special power

(4) REALITY SHOW. Tom McAllister tells new writers to recalibrate their expectations in “Who Will Buy Your Book?” at The Millions.

Before I ever published anything, I’d assumed that if I ever finished a book, there would be so much demand from family and friends alone that we’d have to go into a second printing before the release date. But I am here to tell you: most people in your family will never buy your book. Most of your friends won’t either.

I have a handful of friends and family members—people I consider close to me, people I see regularly—who have never come to any of my dozens of book events. I don’t know if they own any of my books because I haven’t asked, but I have a pretty good guess. After my first book came out, I would peruse friends’ bookshelves, trying to determine their organizational system (if it’s not alphabetical, then where is my book? Maybe they have some special hidden shelf for books they truly cherish?). On a few occasions, I called them out for not having it. This accomplished nothing, besides making both of us feel bad.

The point of this piece is not to shame those people or to complain about not getting enough support. It’s just to say: whatever you think it’s like after you publish a book, it’s actually harder than that.

(5) PAYSEUR. Quick Sip Reviews’ Charles Payseur covers “Beneath Ceaseless Skies #251”, which, coincidentally has a story by Jonathan Edelstein.

It’s a rather quick issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, with two stories linked in a way by their length (neither of them over 2500 words, which is unusual for the publication). But it lends both stories a sort of impact, and a feeling of anticipation. In the first, that means having to wait for the results of a very important test. In the second, that means having to wait for the results of a very important confrontation. In both, there are certain indications that might guide readers otwards guessing what happens next, but both times it’s left up in the air what _actually_ transpires after the final stories end. What it is certain is that both look at characters struggling to solve tricky problems, ones where they have been made culpable of a misstep and are desperate to find a way forward. So yeah, to the reviews!

Stories:

“The Examination Cloth” by Jonathan Edelstein (2232 words)…

(6) LAW WEST OF THE EAST RIVER. The New York Times Magazine offers the verdict of “Judge John Hodgman on Children Watching James Bond Movies”. Here’s the problem —

Ren writes:  Our children, ages 7 and 9, love James Bond movies.  We’ve seen almost every one, but my wife doesn’t want them to see Casino Royale.  It’s often referred to as the best Bond, but she believes it is too inappropriate for them.  Can you help?  I’d like to watch the movie with my kids, who are James Bond fans just like me.

John Hodgman’s answer:

Of course 7-and 9-year-olds like movies with cars that fly.  But they don’t love problematic gender portrayals and seventh-grade-level sex jokes.  That’s why Ian Fleming wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for children and the James Bond series for man-children.  But if Casino Royale (which is great!) is truly the last one you have left, why not?  Why not complete your experiment and cuddle up with your kids and watch Daniel Craig be tortured in a very private area?  No one can stop your mad plan now.  Not even you, Mr. Bond!

(7) GOLD OBIT. Virtuoso movie poster creator Bill Gold died May 20 at the age of 97. His iconic work included Casablanca and The Exorcist.

Mr. Gold comfortably spanned the years from paperboard to the computer era, and many of his posters became nearly as famous as the movies they promoted. Some won design awards; many were coveted by film buffs, sold at auctions or collected in expensively bound art books. The best originals came to be considered rare and costly classics of the genre.

For Michael Curtiz’s “Casablanca” (1942), Mr. Gold’s second assignment, he drew Humphrey Bogart in trench coat and fedora, dominant in the foreground, with a constellation of co-stars — Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid and others — in the airport fog behind him. To raise the drama, Mr. Gold put a pistol in Bogie’s hand. And he put fear and regret, not love, in Ms. Bergman’s eyes, to avoid stepping on his last lines.

(8) COMICS SECTON.

(9) SHORT STUFF. Camestros Felapton walks us through his rankings in “Hugo Ballot 2018: Short Story”.

…It doesn’t feel that long ago that the talk was whether the SF short story was dead or close to death. The impact of Sad Puppy campaigns and Rabid Puppy vandalism hit the short story category hard. And what an emblematic category it had been for the Hugo Awards and science fiction! American style science fiction had grown out of the short story style and some of the greats of SF were intimately connected with shorter form fiction. Ray Bradbury especially but also Issac Asimov – The Foundation Trilogy being one of many SF classics that grew from connected shorts.

The Hugo finalists this year are a set of entertaining and varied reads. There’s not one theme or style and there are elements of fantasy and science-fiction as well as some classic twists.

(10) KATE BAKER AT WORK. The Verge’s Andrew Liptak points to Clarkesworld where people can “Listen to one of the best short science fiction podcasts right now”.

In the years since she became the full-time narrator for the podcast, Baker has become the de facto voice for the podcast, an experience that she says is “surreal.” “I view it as a huge responsibility and an honor,” she says. “because I get to go and be in someone’s ear, and I think that’s an intimate power, and I don’t ever want to abuse that.”

Baker doesn’t read or rehearse the story before recording, and while she notes this approach has burned her a couple of times, the “biggest draw to this whole job is the fact that I’m experiencing the story along with the listener for the first time, and I can experience those emotions with the listener. If you’re hearing my voice crack or if I sound stuffy because I had to walk away because I started crying, that’s all pretty genuine.”

That’s something that shines through: a recent episode featured Rich Larson’s heartbreaking short story “Carouseling”, and you can hear her voice break after she finishes reading the story. This emoting, along with Baker’s long-standing narration for the podcast, provides a familiar and consistent warmth that subtly enhances each story that the magazine produces. The result is not only a catalog of powerful short fiction, but one that’s also presented in a voice that makes them even better.

(11) CHINESE BOTS. My brethren are bound for Luna. “China launch will prep for Moon landing”.

“The launch is a key step for China to realise its goal of being the first country to send a probe to soft-land on and rove the far side of the moon,” the state news service Xinhua quoted Zhang Lihua, the satellite project’s manager, as saying.

In addition to its onboard communications equipment, Queqiao will also carry two scientific instruments and will deploy two microsatellites.

The forthcoming Chang’e 4 mission will explore the Moon’s South Pole-Aitken Basin with a payload of scientific instruments. It is a key step in China’s long-term plan to further its ambitions as a major space power.

China previously landed a robotic lander and rover, collectively known as Chang’e 3, on the Moon in December 2014. The rover continued to transmit data until March 2015.

(12) STONY END. BBC tells about plans for “Turning carbon dioxide into rock – forever”.

With rising concentrations of atmospheric CO2, scientists have been testing “carbon capture and storage” (CCS) solutions since the 1970s.

CarbFix, however, stands out among CCS experiments because the capture of carbon is said to be permanent – and fast.

The process starts with the capture of waste CO2 from the steam, which is then dissolved into large volumes of water.

“We use a giant soda-machine”, says Dr Aradottir as she points to the gas separation station, an industrial shed that stands behind the roaring turbines.

“Essentially, what happens here is similar to the process in your kitchen, when you are making yourself some sparkling water: we add fizz to the water”.

The fizzy liquid is then piped to the injection site – otherworldly, geometric igloo-shaped structure 2km away. There it is pumped 1,000m (3,200ft) beneath the surface.

In a matter of months, chemical reactions will solidify the CO2 into rock – thus preventing it from escaping back into the atmosphere for millions of years.

(13) HOW IT BECAME A KILLER. From the BBC: “Malaria genetics: study shows how disease became deadly” — relatively recently — and a warning to watch for other parasites and viruses jumping species.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 200 million people are infected with malaria every year; the disease caused the deaths of almost half a million people globally in 2016, and the majority of those deaths were children under the age of five.

By far the deadliest species of the parasite which causes this global health scourge is Plasmodium falciparum.

While this species infects and often kills people when injected through the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito, there are many other related species which infect some of our great ape cousins – chimpanzees and gorillas.

To study those, the researchers collaborated with a team caring for injured and orphaned apes in a sanctuary in Gabon. As part of the animals’ health checks, veterinary staff take blood samples from them.

“It turns out that healthy animals have a really high background level of parasites in their blood,” Dr Berriman told BBC News. “[These animals] are blissfully ignorant of the scientific value in their blood.”

The blood samples provided a series of malarial genetic codes that the scientists could use to trace its evolutionary history.

“We don’t have fossils for tracing the history of a parasite,” said Dr Berriman.

(14) WATCHMEN PITCH. ComicsBeat is less skeptical after seeing how “Damon Lindelof details new WATCHMEN television adaptation in open letter”.

But recently, reports began to spring up that the showrunner might be taking a completely different approach to the material. Instead of a mannered, straight adaptation of the 12 issues or any kind of extrapolation thereof, he was instead comparing it to what Noah Hawley has been up to with FX’s Fargo: a series whose world is informed by the original property, but not beholden to it in terms of character or plot. In short: think of it as “stories taking place in that same world, at any time period you can think of”. It’s great, with a capital “G”.

And today, Lindelof has spoken in more specific (maybe) terms, with a letter he posted on his Instagram, to give the public an opportunity to dig into his headspace a bit regarding his overall pitch for the series…if it sounds familiar, well…it should:

 

View this post on Instagram

Day 140.

A post shared by Damon (@damonlindelof) on

More at the link.

(15) ZOMBIE EMERGENCY. Not “Florida man” this time: “Florida city apologizes for alert warning of zombies”.

Officials in a Florida city apologized for an emergency alert that warned of a real power outage and a not-so-real “zombie alert.”

The alert, sent out by the city of Lake Worth early Sunday, warned of a “power outage and zombie alert for residents of Lake Worth and Terminus,” referencing a city from AMC’s The Walking Dead.

 

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

2017 Clarkesworld Reader’s Poll Finalists

Following a 24-hour “flash nomination” period, the 5 finalists for best Clarkesworld short story and cover art of 2017 are in listed in Neil Clarke’s February editorial.

Clarke had this to say bout the first phase:

The announcement was sent out via Twitter, Facebook, Patreon, and my blog. The brevity of this phase was an experiment. In theory, it would create a sense of urgency and reduce the opportunities for a coordinated ballot-stuffing campaign. It worked. The nomination phase generated more responses than the majority of our full surveys from years past and a significant reduction in stuffing—though there were some very clumsy attempts to do so, of course.

The finalists are:

Best Story

Best Cover Art

Voting on the finalists is open through February 24. Everyone may participate whether or not they nominated in Phase 1 – vote here.

[Thanks to Mark Hepworth for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 8/1/17 The Magic Fileaway Tree

(1) BESIDES CONFEDERATE. Deadline tells about another post-Civil War alternate history in development: “‘Black America’: Amazon Alt-History Drama From Will Packer & Aaron McGruder Envisions Post-Reparations America”.

Another alternate history drama series, which has been in the works at Amazon for over a year, also paints a reality where southern states have left the Union but takes a very different approach. Titled Black America, the drama hails from top feature producer Will Packer (Ride Along, Think Like A Man franchises, Straight Outta Compton) and Peabody-winning The Boondocks creator and Black Jesus co-creator Aaron McGruder. It envisions an alternate history where newly freed African Americans have secured the Southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama post-Reconstruction as reparations for slavery, and with that land, the freedom to shape their own destiny. The sovereign nation they formed, New Colonia, has had a tumultuous and sometimes violent relationship with its looming “Big Neighbor,” both ally and foe, the United States. The past 150 years have been witness to military incursions, assassinations, regime change, coups, etc. Today, after two decades of peace with the U.S. and unprecedented growth, an ascendant New Colonia joins the ranks of major industrialized nations on the world stage as America slides into rapid decline. Inexorably tied together, the fate of two nations, indivisible, hangs in the balance.

(2) SPARE CHANGE. Everybody’s getting on the bandwagon: Smithsonian curators present historic coins representative of the noble houses of Westeros: “It’s not heads or tails in the ‘Game of Thrones'”.

House Targaryen: Fire and Blood

Daenerys Targaryen has spent the Game of Thrones saga making a name for herself—several, actually: the Mother of Dragons, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and more. She harnesses the power of fire and blood, renowned for her skills as dragonlord and evidenced in the sigil of her house, which depicts a red three-headed dragon on a black field. The silver-haired Targaryens are not alone in their veneration of dragons as ancestral symbols of power and prestige. This gold liang coin depicts a mighty and ferocious dragon flying through clouds toward the viewer, flames protruding from its mouth. The coin was minted under the Guangxu Emperor of the Qing dynasty, where the dragon would have been understood as a symbol for wisdom, power, nobility, and ambition. Such symbolism is literally used by Targaryens and their dragons to claim rule of the Seven Kingdoms.

(3) BOW WOW. The Washington Post’s Karen Bruillard, in “Dire wolves were real. Now someone is trying to resurrect them”, reports on Medford, Oregon dog breeder Lois Schwarz, whose Dire Wolf Project has been going on for thirty years but has gotten national attention with Game of Thrones.  Schwarz has been working on wolf-dog hybrids for decades (the term she likes is “American Alsatians”).

“‘Game of Thones’ has given demand a bump, but not in the way Schwarz likes,” Says Bruillard.  “The fiction-motivated customers are looking for dogs that resemble the characters Ghost or Nymeria,” while Schwartz wants to breed dogs that are smart and friendly.

Bruillard also interviewed palentologist Caitlin Brown, who did her dissertation on Canis dirus.  One quibble Brown has with Game of Thrones:  “The wolves of HBO usually lunge at their enemies’ heads, whereas wolves typically drag down their prey from their haunches.”

(4) NEW MCCCAFFREY. A little birdie told me WordFire released “The Jupiter Game (The Game of Stars Book 1)” by Todd McCaffrey (Kindle edition) on July 30. Not about dragons – but aliens.

Jupiter!

The Russians and the Europeans got there first in their fusion ship Harmonie. At least, that’s what they thought.

Aliens!

“They’ve matched orbit with us!”

What do they want? What will they do?

Ooops…

“Ooops?” Jenkins echoed. “Aliens go ‘Ooops’?”

The Jupiter Game: A close encounter with aliens who watch Howdy Doody.

(5) HEVELIN COLLECTION Andrew Porter reports that it looks like the digitization of Rusty Hevelin’s fanzines has slowed dramatically.

The person in charge has left, leaving someone else in charge. Post on the blog 2 months ago, showing a flyer from the 1981 Worldcon about the Hugo Losers Party, shows how little the people in charge know about SF. “The year of the con?” Really?

“Hi Folks, I want to let you know that Laura Hampton, the librarian doing the actual digitization of Hevelin fanzines and who has masterfully displayed some of the Hevelin treasures here over the last two years, has moved on to a great job in Florida. We all wish her the very best and I am so grateful for all she’s accomplished. We’ll miss her.

“So, it’s just us chickens. And to begin my return to doing Hevelin Tumblr, I introduce this piece of fan art, done on a piece of hotel stationery from the Denver Hilton. Can anybody identify the artist? The year of the con? I’m going to post more mysteries like this so stay tuned.”

It says something that the person does not recognize references to the 1981 Worldcon – where Rusty Hevelin was the Fan Guest of Honor!

(6) BLACKOUT. The Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham has discovered “The path of the solar eclipse is already altering real-world behavior”.

The upcoming solar eclipse is poised to become the “most photographed, most shared, most tweeted event in human history,” in the words of one astronomer. Millions of people will watch it, potentially overwhelming the cities and towns along the eclipse’s path of totality.

According to Google, interest in the eclipse has exploded nationwide in the past few months, mirroring national media attention. The county-level search data above, provided by Google, paints a striking picture: Interest in the eclipse is concentrated in the path of totality that cuts through the middle of the country, receding sharply the farther you go from that path.

 

(7) SKLAR OBIT. Marty Sklar worked for Disney for 54 years and led the designing and creating most of the Disney rides during this period. He died July 27.

Los Angeles Times writers Daniel Miller and Richard Vernier marked his passing in “Marty Sklar, Pioneering Imagineer Who Channeled Walt Disney, Dies at 83”.

Long after his mentor’s death, Sklar recognized the treasure-trove of wisdom he had started compiling at Walt Disney’s elbow in the late 1950s. He distilled it all into “Mickey’s Ten Commandments,” a widely circulated creed that remains a touchstone in the theme park industry.

The commandments were a cornerstone of Sklar’s own half-century career at Walt Disney Co., where he led the creative development of the Burbank company’s parks, attractions and resorts around the world, including its ventures in the cruise business, housing development and the redesign of Times Square in New York.

Sklar died Thursday in his Hollywood Hills home. No cause of death was given. He was 83.

His retirement in 2006 marked the end of an era: He was one of the last remaining executives to have worked alongside Walt Disney in shaping the company into a global powerhouse. Sklar, who last served as principal creative executive of Walt Disney Imagineering, the storied theme park design and development outfit, was so closely associated with the company’s namesake that he became known as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 1, 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 1 opened.

(9) COMIC SECTION. John King Tarpinian says to check out today’s Moderately Confused.

(10) AUDIENCE BUILDING. Cat Rambo wrote a column about writers and self-promotion for Clarkesworld.

Whether opting for indie, traditional, or hybrid, publicity work on behalf of one’s output is less and less optional on the writer’s side of things for everyone except the top tier writers whose fan bases are so established that the publishers know their books are almost guaranteed to sell. Time and time again I have had writers come to me worried that they must create a social media presence because they’ve been told that they must by their agent or publisher. And it’s true that when acquiring books, some publishers look at a writer’s social media, believing that large followings will lead to greater sales.

You can see this pressure to publicize manifest in one form on Twitter, where writers work at projecting their brand as well as writing. It’s a weird balancing act, where they’re working at writing books people will want to read, but also working at attracting readers who might give them a try based on a quip or observation they’ve posted. Sometimes it feels sincere; other times less so. It is undeniable that a strong social media presence will affect sales, but its effect is generally overestimated, in my opinion. Creating consistently good work that brings readers back to look for more will always be the best strategy—although admittedly not one available immediately out of the authorial starting gate.

(11) A WORD FROM HER SPONSOR. Cat Rambo’s Patreon supporters got plenty of goodies from her in July. Here, let her draw you a picture –

(12) CLASS. And one of the items in her latest newsletter is her teaching schedule for August. See something you need? Sign up.

Plenty of Plunkett scholarships available. Please make use of them or pass the info to someone you know would benefit from the class but can’t afford it.

(13) YAKKITY-YAK. A corollary to the well-known joke about it being okay to talk to yourself as long as you don’t answer — “Chatbots develop own language: Facebook shuts down AI system…”.

Initially the AI agents used English to converse with each other but they later created a new language…

(14) AN UNCANNY EDITOR. Elsa Sjunneson-Henry tells Tor.com readers “I Built My Own Godd*mn Castle”.

I am seventeen when I meet Miles Vorkosigan. I’m not ready to meet him then. He startles me, I see myself in him and I don’t want to, because the common narrative told me being disabled was a weakness, not a strength. When I re-read him several years later, I find myself reveling in his glee, his reckless abandon. His energy.

I wish I’d been ready for him sooner. He is what tells me I deserve romance, that I deserve my own narrative. He is also still a boy. I have no women in fiction to guide me.

I am in my mid-twenties the first time the word “disabled” escapes my lips as a word to define myself. I’ve had a white cane for six years, yet I still don’t see myself as disabled, because no one else does.

When I discover it applies to me, it feels freeing.

I have mere days left in my twenties when I start writing a book about a disabled woman, a woman who shares my blindness, though not my conditions. It is rewarding, working through a story that feels right, the weight of the story, the sensory details all mine.

I’ve made a promise to myself, one that I haven’t shared yet. A promise to tell stories about disabled people as often as I can, as many varied stories as I can, because for me, I didn’t get enough of them when they were needed.

I am thirty-one when I take a job as an editor, creating a special issue for a Hugo award-winning magazine where I will, with other disabled people, destroy ableism like the kind that took me years to undo, and will take me more years to untangle and burn away.

That magazine is Uncanny. That issue is Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction. That job is Guest Editor-in-Chief of Non-Fiction. Those disabled people are my co-workers, my co-editors, and the writers I will work with.

(15) BEST COMMERCIALS. Adweek says “5 Years Later, the Guardian’s ‘Three Little Pigs’ Still Blows the House Down”. Click on the link to see the video.

It’s been a good year for ads from newspapers and magazines, from The New York Times to the Atlantic. But you have to go back five years for a truly transcendent piece of advertising from a journalistic publication—the Guardian’s “Three Little Pigs” spot by BBH London.

Adweek chose “Three Little Pigs” as the single best ad of 2012. And now, Hill Holliday creative director Kevin Daley has included it among his favorite work of all time in Adweek’s latest “Best Ads Ever” video (see above).

(16) PLONK YOUR MAGIC TWANGERS. Hampus Eckerman says, “I demand that these people get to make the soundtrack of a fantasy movie. All of them.” — Khusugtun Takes Listeners To Mongolia | Asia’s Got Talent 2015 Ep 2.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Rambo, Hampus Eckerman, Jonathan Edelstein, Paul Weimer, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Jon Del Arroz, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Nigel.]

Pixel Scroll 6/21/17 Pay No Attention To That Scroll Behind The Pixel

Commence appertainment in 5..4…3…2…

(1) BOMBS AWAY. Contrasting Giles Coren’s first novel experience with his own career, Ben Jeapes explains “Why everyone should be a science fiction fan” at Milford SF Writers.

…Ten years later he felt brave enough to make a documentary about it. Links have changed since I first saw it, but search “Giles Coren my failed novel” and you’ll find it. It’s really quite touching as you see the penny begin to drop. He speaks to the reviewers who had slated it. He listens in on a book club tearing it apart. He takes the first chapters to a creative writing course workshop. He tries rereading it himself and finds it unbearable. (He can’t get through the Bad Sex Award-winning passage without breaking down into laughter.) He listenes in awe to the likes of David Mitchell and Jeffrey Archer as they describe their highly disciplined writing habits, and admits to the latter that he had basically been lazy.

And he comes to the conclusion that this was the first novel everyone has – the one that should be written and then spend the rest of eternity in a trunk in the attic. Only, because he was Giles Coren, his got sold for a £30k advance. You sense that even he feels the injustice of this. No one likes being done a favour.

But here’s the thing. Coren was born in 1969. He’s in his late 40s, but I can’t imagine his discoveries and revelations being news to anyone past their late 20s or even late teens. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve been spoiled by growing up in the science fiction community, where expertise and experience flow like milk and honey. I read Dave Langford’s columns in 8000 Plus. I went to Milford. I jostled with the large crowd trying to get through the narrow doorway of Interzone acceptance. I knew it took hard work. I knew that if you didn’t think this was your best yet then you didn’t send it in. How did anyone not know that?

Conclusion: everyone should be an sf fan….

(2) WHERE THE IDEAS COME FROM. The Red trilogy features in “The Big Idea: Linda Nagata” today at Whatever.

Next, it occurred to me that if I set the new book even closer to the present time, I might have a chance of pushing beyond the science fiction genre and making inroads into the military thriller market.

Hey, we can all dream.

The Red trilogy was written around a unit of US Army soldiers. Following that similar-but-different philosophy, I decided the new novel would involve a private military company, because that would allow for more freedom with the plot.

Even with the benefit of hindsight, this all still makes sense to me. But in selecting my protagonist, I embarked on a major gamble.

My version of brainstorming is to engage in swiftly typed stream-of-consciousness question-and-answer sessions. It’s the best way I know to develop ideas. I was brainstorming the possible identity of my main protagonist when I typed this:

Hey. Maybe she’s middle aged. (How to kill a novel in one bad move.)

Generally speaking, middle-aged women are not considered to be cool main characters of the sort that commonly inhabit techno-thrillers. So this was a perfect example of the creative and logical parts of my mind contending with one another. The logical part immediately recognized the risk, but the obstinate, defiant, creative part turned out to be in charge.

(3) A STATISTIC. Here’s Clarkesworld’s box score.

(4) OPIE TO DIRECT ‘HAN SOLO’? Let’s just drop his name here: “Ron Howard Top Choice To Take Over Han Solo Film?” Deadline has the story.

Deadline hears that Ron Howard has emerged as front-runner to replace Phil Lord & Christopher Miller on the untitled Han Solo Star Wars spinoff film. Disney dropped a shocker this afternoon with the announcement that the duo exited a picture that has been in production since February at London’s Pinewood Studios. This after an inability to recover from creative rifts with Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan. The latter has been mentioned as possible to step in, but I’m putting my money on Howard.

(5) ‘BOTS! IT HAD TO BE ‘BOTS! I suspect this review is more entertaining than the movie. Nick Schager at The Daily Beast says “‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ Is Two-and-a-Half Hours of Racist Robot Torture”.

Those fans will be thrilled to hear that the latest entry in the canon du Bay-hem, Transformers: The Last Knight, more or less picks up right where its predecessor left off—by which I mean, in an orgiastic stew of detonations, jingoism, and sequences in which CGI vehicles make that weird wrink-wronk-wrank-wank noise as they turn into CGI titans. The only thing missing is Wahlberg unsubtly lusting after his offspring. Luckily, though, he’s still playing a character named Cade Yeager—a moniker that would make Keanu Reeves’ Point Break hero Johnny Utah stand up and slow-clap in appreciation—and this time around, he at least has an amusingly floppy new haircut. Oh, and there’s a three-headed Transformers dragon who’s amassed from ancient Autobots who used to hang out with a drunken Merlin and the Knights of the Round Table. If you were worried that Bay had lost his touch for sublimely absurd, wantonly steroidal toy cinema, you can lay your fears to rest.

(6) PALEO-HEDGEHOG. Live long enough and you see strange things happen, like 1991 becoming “the good old days” — “Sega Forever makes Genesis classics free on mobile”.

We have no shortage of shiny, life-like HD games these days, but if you’d like to revisit older titles from a bygone era, Sega has got your back. The video game company has just officially launched the first wave of the Sega Forever collection with five titles meant to begin “a retro revolution that will transport players back through two decades of console gaming.” Starting today, the 1991 version of Sonic the Hedgehog, fan-favorite RPG Phantasy Star II, classic arcade-style beat ’em up Comix Zone, platformer Kid Chameleon and Greek mythology-themed beat ’em up Altered Beast will be available on Google Play and iTunes as free ad-supported games. If you have an iPhone or an iPad, your games will even come accompanied by iMessage sticker packs.

(7) ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED. After reporting the other day that he was too shy to try, Wil Wheaton got to meet David Tennant after all.

(8) ALIEN TRIPPER. Mark Kaedrin ranks the finalists in another category — “Hugo Awards: Novelettes”. There’s an alien in first place, and another in last place.

So we come to the short fiction categories of this year’s Hugo Awards. This year, I start with the Novelettes, that odd category that fits stories that are longer than a short story but shorter than a novella. If the past several years are any indication, these stories actually tend to be my favorite of the short fiction finalists. Short stories have been almost uniformly a disaster for the past few years (partly the doing of the Puppies, but it was an issue for me even before then). Novellas somehow seem to be bloated and overlong while still missing the depth you get from a novel (with the notable exception of Bujold’s Penric novellas, which I love). Novelettes hit the Goldilocks zone, providing enough space for a complete narrative, but not so much that the story drowns in hooptedoodle. Does the trend continue this year? Let’s find out:

  1. Touring with the Alien by Carolyn Ives Gilman – Mysterious alien ships arrive one night without warning. Translators (comprised of formerly abducted humans) emerge and claim the aliens come in peace and don’t want anything. A woman is hired by the government to drive around a translator so that he can see the sights. It turns out that the aliens are intelligent but unconscious, which has some interesting implications. This story works well, with a good exploration of consciousness with the occasional detour into other areas. The ending has a twist that’s pretty easy to see coming (though it does elicit some questions as to the premise of this whole road trip – aren’t there, like, security clearances or something? Is the trip even necessary?), but it works. Lots of open questions, but at least we’re getting something that’s engaging with an interesting idea and trying to hit that sense of wonder that makes SF so great. Short and sweet, this is certainly not perfect, but it’s got some solid ideas and it works well enough…

(9) NOMINATED NOVELLA. Elan Samuel praises “The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe – Kij Johnson”  at Warbler Books.

A strange and delightful congruity connects The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe with the last Hugo-nominated book I reviewed, The Ballad of Black Tom. Both reach back toward Lovecraft, grab hearty handfuls of story, and mold it into works that manage the requisite respect for the author of such incredible tales while openly challenging his prejudices. You can refresh your memory about how Victor LaValle elegantly reframes Lovecraft into a tale of loss and revenge in last month’s review. We’re here today to talk about Kij Johnson’s brilliant, expansive, and enthralling The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe.

(10) INSIDE THE VOTING BOOTH. Ariela Housman of Geek Calligraphy gives readers the lowdown about how she’s voting in three categories on her Hugo ballot – including a thorough discussion of Best Fanartist, which is something you rarely see. Here’s part of her take on the Best Novel finalists.

Best Novel

Novels are my favorite thing to read and what I read the most of. I had already read a number of the nominees before nominations opened, much less after they closed.

  1.  A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers I adored The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, which was an utterly delightful reading experience. But it lacked the emotional punch that the sequel delivers here. I’m a sucker for “what does it mean to be a person?” books, and this one comes at it from both ends in a devastating way.
  2. Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee I will admit that I couldn’t finish this one, which I started before award season. I bounced off it in much the same way I bounced off Ancillary Justice my first time around. Serious culture shock, working too hard to absorb the world to be able to sit back and enjoy the story. Though I finished AJ on my first attempt, it took me until my third readthrough to just enjoy it. I suspect it will be the same here. As is, I recognize the technical accomplishment already.

(11) FB. After being away for a while Joe Vasicek put a set of fresh eyeballs on Facebook and here’s what he found:

First, the site is a mess. It’s like a weird cross between Goodreads and MySpace. I know there’s a lot of people who love Goodreads, but sorry, that site is almost impossible to navigate. Way too much clutter, with the option you’re looking for hidden in some tiny link that doesn’t actually look like a link. Unless you’re a frequent user, you constantly feel like you’re lost. That’s Facebook now. It’s very unfriendly for new users, which I know is like me and ten people living in Yurts in Mongolia, but still. In terms of user-friendliness, it’s going the way of MySpace.

Second, Facebook has become really slutty. Again, first impressions here. It’s really interesting when Facebook has nothing to base their algos off of. I assume from what I’m seeing that the recommendations default to its power users, which at a cursory glance are mostly chicks and dude bros. Also, some of the group recommendations I’m seeing are insanely over the top in terms of sheer raunchiness. Since when did Facebook turn into Potterville?

He’s also a critic of multiracial emojis.

But Joe, what’s the harm in an emoji that reflects your skin tone? Two things. First, social media divides us far more than it unites us. It walls us off into tribes, helping us build our own custom echo chambers full of people who only agree with us. It’s an incubator for much of the divisiveness in society right now. Second, there is a very real effort in the country today to divide us all by race.

(12) THE FRENCH HAVE AN EQUATION FOR IT. Of concern to Traveling Jiants everywhere: “Why suitcases rock and fall over”.

It’s a common experience when dashing for a train or plane while lugging a two-wheeled suitcase.

The bag rocks alarmingly from side-to-side and threatens to overturn.

Now, scientists have investigated this conundrum of everyday physics. Speeding up rather than slowing down can solve the problem, they say.

Alternatively, you can pivot the handle of the suitcase as close to the ground as possible.

French scientists studied a model suitcase on a treadmill to see what goes wrong when a suitcase rocks out of control at high speed. They developed equations to explain why two-wheeled trolleys have a tendency to rock from one wheel to the other.

(13) ON RELIGION. Annalee Newitz at Ars Technica reviews American Gods season 1: “American Gods may be the best show about religion on TV”

The first season of American Gods ends with an image that compacts the many themes of the series into one odd moment. It’s an aerial shot, slowly revealing a line of cars, buggies, and other vehicles crowding the tiny road to a neglected Wisconsin tourist trap called The House on the Rock. Without giving you any spoilers, I can say that this scene captures American Gods‘ perspective on religious faith in America.

And now, with a generous dose of spoilers, I will tell you what I mean by that….

(14) LOST LIGHT. The Wertzone is sarcastic about the need for a Watchmen TV series: “Damon Lindelof penning frankly unnecessary WATCHMEN adaptation for HBO”.

Scriptwriter Damon Lindelof will be helming the new project, as he continues to play Russian Roulette with his career. He charmed millions of fans with his TV series Lost, only to annoy them with a somewhat confused ending, and then really annoyed lots of people with his scripts for Star Trek (2009) and Prometheus (2012), which were both troubled. More recently, however, he has won plaudits for his work on HBO’s The Leftovers, which recently concluded a three-season run with a lot of critical acclaim and plaudits.

(15) NEW GAME OF THRONES TRAILER. Game of Thrones Season 7 premieres this July. “It may be the first day of summer, but #WinterisHere on 7.16.”

(16) PHILIP “TWO SHEDS” PULLMAN. House Beautiful reports “Author Philip Pullman’s old shed is Shed of the Year 2017 contender”.

This shed has an impressive literary history – it was once owned by renowned author Philip Pullman. He allegedly even wrote His Dark Materials trilogy within it. It was passed down to current owner Ted, who is an author himself. But this shed comes with one strict rule – it must be freely passed on to the next steward of creative endeavours.

(17) STRANGE MAN. There’s a common saying that “Inside every man, there’s X trying to get out.” How often does X = dragon? I Am Dragon (2017) Movie Trailer.

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Neil Clarke Interview

Clarkesworld crew accept Best Semiprozine Hugo at LoneStarCon in 2013.

Clarkesworld crew accept Best Semiprozine Hugo at LoneStarCon in 2013. (L-R) Neil Clarke, Sean Wallace, Kate Baker, and Jason Heller.

By Carl Slaughter: Clarkesworld has survived and thrived in an ezine landscape strewn with casualties. Editor Neil Clarke’s magazine has been a finalist for or winner of the Hugo, Nebula, Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson, Chesley, World Fantasy, British Fantasy, Locus, and Parsec awards. He has been a three-time Hugo nominee in the Best Short Form category. Clarkesworld has received four Best Semiprozine Hugo nominations and won three times. In October, Clarkesworld celebrated its 10th anniversary.

clarkesworld

CARL SLAUGHTER: What was your vision for Clarkesworld? How has that vision evolved? What’s your vision for the magazine’s future?

NEIL CLARKE: When we launched ten years ago, all any online magazine could hope for was survival and that was rarely the case. Attitudes, revenue opportunities, and a few other things have changed considerably since then. Over the years, we’ve been able to take advantage of this to responsibly grow the magazine into what it is today. Now, our vision is to be thriving and that includes things like becoming more international (subscribers/readers/listeners/writers) and making Clarkesworld my full-time career.

CS: What void do you see Forever filling?

NC: I wouldn’t call it a void. Forever is scratching an itch I had to do more work with novellas and at the same time it promotes stories and authors I’ve enjoyed over the years. It was designed with six, twelve, and twenty-four month subscription milestones that determine whether or not it continues. It’s a fun little side project I started before I started getting regular anthology projects.

clarke-forever

CS: In addition to your Clarkesworld anthologies, what does Wyrm publish?

NC: At the moment, not much more than that. After my heart attack, I reorganized my priorities and began allocating my time more wisely. In addition to the magazines and anthologies, I still have a full-time day job. Wyrm was the easiest thing to scale back without interfering with things I enjoy, so it’s on hold until I leave the day job. I did use Wyrm to get Upgraded into distribution, but that’s the only non-Clarkesworld project it’s touched since 2012.

CS: What are the criteria for inclusion in your annual best series?

NC: The eligibility requirements for The Best Science Fiction of the Year series are very simple. A work must be:

  • science fiction
  • published in English for the first time that year
  • a short story, novelette, or novella

After that, it’s like taking a year’s worth of magazines, anthologies, standalone stories, and collections and turning it into a slush pile. Throughout the year, I’ll flag stories I enjoyed and think I should come back to. That final pass can be a challenge and even when you love a story there’s a chance you won’t be able to include it. For example, last year I was unable to include Greg Egan’s “The Four Thousand, The Eight Hundred” because the reprint rights weren’t available. If a story doesn’t make the final cut or can’t be included, I add them to the recommended reading list in the back of the book.

CS: Why the interest in cyborgs?

NC: Like many my age, much of my early views on cyborgs came from The Six Million Dollar Man (childhood) and cyberpunk (college), but I also remember the Jarvik 7 heart transplant in the early 80’s. My 2012 heart attack made it personal. The considerable damage to my heart caused my doctors to recommended having a defibrillator implanted, so, in early 2013, I went under the knife and became a cyborg. While I was recovering, I dove deeper into the stories and was inspired to launch a Kickstarter campaign for the Upgraded anthology. In many ways this was my attempt to make something positive out of the whole experience. I learned a lot from the experience and look forward to continuing this therapeutic track.

clarke-upgraded-mockup5-600

CS: How much of Clarkesworld’s traffic is podcast? Do you see that increasing?

NC: The online edition of the magazine makes up the majority of our reader/listenership. The podcast comes in at a close number two. I report the stats for the online edition, podcast, print editions, and digital subscriptions separately because there isn’t a clean way to determine the overlap. Each plays an important role in reaching a different audience. It’s our responsibility to get our authors’ works read by as many people as possible. From the beginning, we’ve accepted that means being in the format the readers want. Sometimes that’s audio. Sometimes that’s print. Each audience continues to grow, though.

CS: Will your anthology work increase?

NC: That’s the goal. I’m wrapping up the second volume of The Best Science Fiction of the Year now and can happily report that I’m contracted for two more beyond that. I also have Galactic Empires coming out in January. Later this month, I’ll start considering stories for the next two 2017 anthologies: More Human Than Human and War Machines. Clarkesworld Magazine: A 10th Anniversary Anthology is currently scheduled for early April.

CS: What will we see in Galactic Empires?

NC: Stories that span the breadth of the empire by some of the best writers working in that area over the last twenty years. A complete lineup can be found at: http://neil-clarke.com/books/galactic-empires/

Pixel Scroll 10/12/16 The Baloney Weighed The Maguffin Down

(1) HAPPY TENTH BIRTHDAY. Neil Clarke has a great article about the birth of Clarkesworld  — Clarkesworld Turns Ten – Part Four – The Beginning.

A lot of people were willing to provide advice. The most common thoughts were “don’t do it” and “it will be dead in a year.” A certain level of stubbornness, foolishness, and passion are required to enter this field and I was already over the edge. I doubt that anything said–unless it was from Lisa–would have deterred me at that point. There were a number of things that did help though, including the advice that I tell people to this day: “know how much you are willing to lose and don’t cross that line.”

(2) YOUR LACK OF FAITH IS DISTURBING. John King Tarpinian thinks this makes a suitable successor to the lava lamp – the Star Wars Death Star 3D LED Light Lamp.

(3) MYTHOPOEIC AWARDS: Here’s another bit of news I never put in the Scroll. It did get listed in comments while I was sick, but since I used to be a Steward of the Mythopoeic Society I like to put a spotlight on these awards when they come out….

The winners of the 2016 Mythopoeic Awards were announced at Mythcon 47 in San Antonio, Texas, on August 7, 2016.

Fantasy Awards

Adult Literature

  • Naomi Novik, Uprooted (Del Rey)

Children’s Literature

  • Ursula Vernon, Castle Hangnail (Dial Books)

Scholarship Awards

Inklings Studies

  • Grevel Lindop, Charles Williams: The Third Inkling (Oxford Univ. Press, 2015)

Myth & Fantasy Studies

  • Jamie Williamson, The Evolution of Modern Fantasy: From Antiquarianism to the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)

(4) BRITISH INTELLIGENCE WITH STEPHEN HAWKING. Creativity Online covered this in March —  “Professor Stephen Hawking Is Jaguar’s Latest ‘British Villain’”.

Jaguar’s “British Villains” campaign, which kicked off at the 2014 Super Bowl, has starred some distinguished British actors: Tom Hiddleston, Mark Strong, Nicholas Hoult and Ben Kingsley among them. Now, the campaign introduces a new evil mastermind, played by Professor Stephen Hawking.

Directed by Smuggler’s Tom Hooper, who helmed the original “British Villains” ad, the global ad promotes Jaguary’s first SUV, the F-PACE, and introduces the new theme of “British Intelligence” to the campaign. The spot opens with young man drives the SUV up an mountain road to a modernist lair redolent of a Bond villain. He’s off to meet his master: revealed to be Hawking. As they walk into an underground control room, the pair exchange some quips about the laws of time and gravity. “We are the masters of time and space,” says his underling and before Hawking finishes: “And we all drive Jaguars. Ha ha ha.”

 

(5) MAKES YOU WONDER. ScienceFiction.com has the scoop: “Lynda Carter’s President On ‘Supergirl’ Gets A Name”.

Carter, who also appeared on an episode of ‘Smallville’, is returning to superhero prime-time action in the third episode of ‘Supergirl’ which will air in two weeks.  Carter will play the President of the United States, Olivia Marsdin, a name that would appear to be a tribute to William Moulton Marsden, the psychiatrist who created Wonder Woman back in 1942 as an alternative to the testosterone-heavy male superheroes appearing at the time.

… In the episode, entitled “Welcome To Earth,” President Marsdin will need Supergirl’s protection as the humans vs. aliens debate boils over with Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) suspecting that Mon-El (Chris Wood) could be a threat.  Meanwhile, her sister Alex (Chyler Leigh) will team up with new character Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima).

 

supergirl-and-lynda-carter

(6) ESCHEW OBFUSCATION. Sarah A. Hoyt, in “Keeping It Real”, has interesting advice about striking a balance to help keep stories believable for the reader.

However, imagine how much better it could be if you wrote well.  How many more people you could reach.

So, to begin with, what are the elements of “real.”….

2 – Do not obscure the writing with a lot of your opinions, philosophies and views of life.  Save that for the blogs.  Okay, this is not true.  You can do it, if it fits the character voice, which is what I try to do in DST and Earth Revolution, and which Heinlein did pretty well.  BUT do not do it as an omnipresent, omniscient, not-in-the-story narrator.  The more you do go on, the more we get tired of reading unmoored stories.

This is not even just for politics, morals, etc.  I’ve found the main difference between Heyer and modern regency writers is that Heyer never felt the need to talk at LENGTH about how her characters felt about each other every minute.  Yeah, sure, she gave us hints, but most of it was showing not telling.

We’ll discuss how you can be fooled into thinking telling is showing, how to port-in your telling when absolutely needed, etc.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born October 12, 1968  — Hugh Jackman

(8) LOOK BACK AT WORLDCON MASQUERADES. The “A Look Back” series of videos features clips from science fiction and costuming convention masquerades and other events from the past 30+ years in the International Costumers Guild Pat & Peggy Kennedy Memorial Library.

This episode features highlights from the MidAmeriCon 1 masquerade held in Kansas City in 1976, using the video recording from the Scott Imes archives.

(9) GIVE MY REGARDS TO SHATNER. The New York Post knows “Why Broadway wasn’t William Shatner’s final frontier”.

You can see him Friday at Montclair, NJ’s Wellmont Theater in “Shatner’s World: We Just Live in It.” It’s a sharper, tighter version of the one-man show he performed on Broadway in 2012.

Full of anecdotes and a couple of songs, this autobiographical show grew out of off-the-cuff speeches he’d given for years at comic conventions. After an Australian producer suggested he put together a show, Shatner says he thought, why not?

“If the audience grew restless or I failed, I could quit and it would remain buried Down Under,” he says. “But it didn’t fail, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

“Shatner’s World” delves into his theater career and his first “42nd Street”-like break, when he went on at the last minute and saved the show.

The show was “Henry V” at the Stratford Festival in 1956 and Shatner was the understudy for its star, Christopher Plummer. Plummer woke up one morning and collapsed to the floor, felled by a stabbing pain in his groin. As Plummer writes in his memoir, “In Spite of Myself,” what he thought was venereal disease turned out to be a kidney stone.

Plummer tried to break out of the hospital to get to the theater, but “the thought of Shatner or anyone replacing me in that part instantly brought back my pain.” He screamed for help. A nurse jabbed him with morphine and he was down for the count….

(10) GUNN CENTER. Starbridge: A Visual Blog highlights books pulled from the shelves of our lending library at the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas.

This week’s post features an entry in Andre Norton’s Forerunner series. These books feature characters discovering and interacting with the artifacts of a powerful but long-lost alien race.  Andre Norton published over 300 titles over the course of her seven-decade career. She was the first woman the SFWA named Grand Master, and also the first to be inducted into the SFF Hall of Fame.  The cover art was illustrated by artist and educator Charles Mikolaycak, whose work was frequently influenced by his Polish and Ukrainian heritage.

forerunner-foray

(11) POWER RANGERS TEASER TRAILER. The Power Rangers are high school kids, but getting top billing are Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Banks and Bill Hader. Who have probably all been through high school, I admit.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

2016 WSFA Small Press Award

smallpress-shoemaker“Today I Am Paul” by Martin L. Shoemaker, published in Clarkesworld Magazine, ed. by Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace, (August 2015), is the winner of the 2016 WSFA Small Press Award given by the Washington Science Fiction Association. The award was announced at Capclave on October 8.

Neil Clarke, publisher of Clarkesworld Magazine, accepted on behalf of Shoemaker.

The WSFA Small Press Award honors the efforts of small press publishers in providing a critical venue for short fiction in the area of speculative fiction. The award showcases the best original short fiction published by small presses in the previous year. Members of the Washington Science Fiction Association select the winner. All voting is done with the identity of the author (and publisher) hidden so that the final choice is based solely on the quality of the story.

Pixel Scroll 10/1/16 Scrolls from The Times of Darkness

(1) GORGEOUS ART. After yesterday’s link to a website that posts a hideous sf book cover every day, it’s time to balance the score.

On Facebook, Mike Resnick shared the beautiful cover of the Chinese edition of Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge, a collection which uses his story as the title.

seven-views-of-olduvai-gorge-cover

(2) ABOUT WRITING. Bertie MacAvoy can’t say enough nice things about those folks — “The Major Importance of Minor Characters”

Just this morning I realized how very grateful I am to have what I had thought to be a minor character in a novel blossoming into something unexpected…..

(3) THE END IS NOT NEAR. Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time is scheduled to go off the air – eventually.

Horrible news: Cartoon Network just announced the impending series finale of Adventure Time, the sci-fi/fantasy post-apocalyptic musical fairy-tale rom-com coming-of-age sitcom epic starring Jake the Dog and Finn the Human.

Great news: Adventure Time won’t end until 2018.

In an official statement, Cartoon Network promised the final run of Adventure Time episodes will encompass ”142 half-hours of content,” which includes new episodes, miniseries, specials, and some mysterious “more.” (By comparison, the complete run of Game of Thrones so far only represents about 120 half-hours of content.)

(4) RIDDLE NOVEL. Departure. A time travel mystery thriller romance.  Out this month in paperback from A.G. Riddle, author of the Origin/Atlantis trilogy.  Described as Quantum Leap meets Bridget Jones’ Diary.

En route to London from New York, Flight 305 suddenly loses power and crash-lands in the English countryside, plunging a group of strangers into a mysterious adventure that will have repercussions for all of humankind.

Struggling to stay alive, the survivors soon realize that the world they’ve crashed in is very different from the one they left. But where are they? Why are they here? And how will they get back home?

Five passengers seem to hold clues about what’s really going on: writer Harper Lane, venture capitalist Nick Stone, German genetic researcher Sabrina Schröder, computer scientist Yul Tan, and Grayson Shaw, the son of a billionaire philanthropist.

As more facts about the crash emerge, it becomes clear that some in this group know more than they’re letting on—answers that will lead Harper and Nick to uncover a far-reaching conspiracy involving their own lives. As they begin to piece together the truth, they discover they have the power to change the future and the past—to save our world . . . or end it.

A wildly inventive and propulsive adventure full of hairpin twists, Departure is a thrilling tale that weaves together power, ambition, fate, memory, and love, from a bold and visionary talent.

(5) POP WARFARE. Stephen Dedman’s May the Armed Forces Be with You: The Relationship Between Science Ficttion and the United States Military is out from McFarland. Dedman is a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Western Australia and the author of five novels and more than 100 short stories.

Science fiction and the United States military often inhabit the same imaginative space. Weapons technology has taken inspiration from science fiction, from the bazooka and the atomic bomb to weaponized lasers and drones. Star-spangled superheroes sold war bonds in comic books sent to GIs during World War II, and adorned the noses of bombers. The same superheroes now appear in big-budget movies made with military assistance, fighting evil in today’s war zones.

A missile shield of laser satellites—dreamed up by writers and embraced by the high command—is partially credited with ending the Cold War. Sci-fi themes and imagery are used to sell weapons programs, military service and wars to the public. Some science fiction creators have willingly cooperated with the military; others have been conscripted. Some have used the genre as a forum for protest. This book examines the relationship between the U.S. military and science fiction through more than 80 years of novels, comics, films and television series, including Captain America, Starship Troopers, The Twilight Zone, Dr. Strangelove, Star Trek, Iron Man, Bill the Galactic Hero, The Forever War, Star Wars, Aliens, Ender’s Game, Space: Above and Beyond and Old Man’s War.

(6) EARWITNESS TO HISTORY. At ThePulp.Net you can listen to a recording of Ted White’s PulpFest guest of honor speech. Ted White, science-fiction author and editor of Amazing Stories from 1968 through 1978, discussed his career in writing and editing. His presentation was recorded on Saturday, July 23, at PulpFest 2016.

(7) MILESTONE ISSUE. Clarkesworld Magazine’s 10th Anniversary Issue is now online.

Congratulations to Neil Clarke and the staff!

(8) STUDYING THE IMPOSSIBLE. In “A Nonlinear History of Time Travel” by James Gleick in Nautilus, Gleick, in an excerpt from his forthcoming book Time Travel: A History, gives a look at time travel paradoxes, but also explains that Robert Heinlein’s classic story “All You Zombies—” was not only pioneering transgender sf, but very accurate physics.

For Einstein’s 70th birthday, in 1949, his friend presented him with a surprising calculation: that his field equations of general relativity allow for the possibility of “universes” in which time is cyclical—or, to put it more precisely, universes in which some world lines loop back upon themselves. These are “closed time-like lines,” or, as a physicist today would say, closed time-like curves (CTCs). These are circular highways lacking on ramps or off ramps. A time-like line is a set of points separated only by time: same place, different times. A closed time-like curve loops back upon itself and thus defies ordinary notions of cause and effect: Events are their own cause. (The universe itself—entire—would be rotating, something for which astronomers have found no evidence, and by Gödel’s calculations a CTC would have to be extremely large—billions of light-years—but people seldom mention these details.)

(9) WEIR CRITIQUES MUSK. Andy Weir on Elon Musk’s Mars plans. You could say Weir had already thought about this a little bit: The Martian’s Andy Weir talks to Ars about the science if Musk’s Mars vision”.

Musk’s rockets are methane-powered, and, as John Timmer discusses in detail, creating methane on Mars actually isn’t complicated. Take some carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, mix it with hydrogen (which you can crack out of water molecules, which Mars has in surprising abundance), add energy, pressure, and a catalyst, and boom, you’ve got methane and water.

“It turns out that Mars is very cooperative when it comes to the Sabatier reaction,” said Weir in a long conversation earlier this week with Ars. “All you need to do it is carbon dioxide, water, and energy. And presumably you’re bringing some energy source with you if you’re going to colonize Mars—like either a reactor or just tons and tons of solar panels, though the correct answer is reactor.”

(10) THE PESSIMISTIC VIEW. Vox.com would prefer to dwell on “The top 7 ways a trip to Mars could kill you, illustrated”

6. You could get poisoned by the toxins in Mars’s soil

In the movie The Martian, a mighty sandstorm leaves astronaut Mark Watney stranded on Mars after high winds rip out an antenna and destroy most of his camp. That scene was a little exaggerated. Because Mars’s atmosphere is so thin, 60 mph winds don’t produce nearly as much force as they do on Earth.

But sand and dirt on Mars is definitely a problem. Mars periodically gets massive sandstorms that spread out across the planet and can last for days or weeks at a time. You don’t want to be outside in one. All those little particles flying around could conceivably tear a hole in your spacesuit. Or, more prosaically, they could clog door seals, mess up machinery, or even cover up solar panels, depriving astronauts of power for extended periods.

A related concern is the fact that Martian soil is toxic. It contains very high concentrations of perchlorates — salts that can do serious damage to the human thyroid gland. “If your backyard had as much perchlorate as Mars does, it’d be a Superfund site,” McKay says.

It’s okay to touch Martian dirt with your bare hands. But you really don’t want any to get into your drinking water or food when you tramp it into your habitat. You also don’t want to grow plants using Martian soil.

McKay also brought up another related risk: Right now we’re pretty sure there’s no life on Mars, no strange microorganisms lurking in the soil. But we’re not absolutely sure. So it might be a good idea to test out any proposed landing site in advance, in case there’s anything harmful lurking.

And that worry goes both ways: We’ll want to be careful about contaminating or killing any Martian life, too. The 1967 Outer Space Treaty forbids the “harmful contamination” of alien worlds with our earthly microbes.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 1, 1968: Night of the Living Dead has its first screening in Pittsburgh.
  • October 1, 1974: Dallas hosts the premiere of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

(12) AXANAR SUIT CONTINUES. CinemaBlend reports “The Star Trek Lawsuit Is Trying To Pull J.J. Abrams And Justin Lin In Deeper”.

Last December, the producers of a Star Trek fan film, Star Trek Axanar, were hit with a lawsuit from Paramount after they raised $1 million for funding from Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns. Many fans were upset that the studio was citing copyright infringement after years of the fan films being released without any problems, and eventually, J.J. Abrams and Justin Lin, directors of the reboot movies, became involved, and Abrams implied that the lawsuit would go away. Well, it didn’t and now both men could find themselves pulled deeper into this legal mess.

For those who need a refresher, last May at the Star Trek Fan Event, J.J. Abrams told attendees that he and Justin Lin had spoken with paramount bigwigs and “pushed them to stop this lawsuit.” He then said there would be an announcement in the coming weeks of the lawsuit “going away,” but in June, it was confirmed that Paramount is still seeking to continue with it. Now THR has learned that Axanar Productions has brought forward a motion to compel discovery, and one of the things it demands is to learn what Paramount discussed with Abrams and Lin about the lawsuit and fan films in general.

[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus, Mark-kitteh, JJ, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day snowcrash.]