Loscon Statement from Isabel Schechter

[Since LASFS distributed a statement by Gregory Benford as its determination about the code of conduct issues at Loscon 45, published here as part of a report about the incident, I have agreed to host Isabel Schechter’s statement about the outcome as well.]

By Isabel Schechter: It is unfortunate that I have to make a statement regarding the incident that happened last week at LosCon 45, but there has been lack of information, misinformation, and deliberately incomplete information being put out, and given Loscon’s lack of communication, I feel I need to set the record straight on some things.

The comments made by Dr. Benford at the “New Masters of SF” panel have been discussed elsewhere, and I will not address them or the reasons for my report of them further. However, the actions of the convention and the LASFS board, and my connection or lack thereof, to those actions have been confusing, and that is what needs to be made clear.

To begin, right after the panel, there were several people who spoke with the Programming department head, Justine Reynolds, about Dr. Benford’s comments. After that, various concom staff members sought me out regarding this incident. First, Justine followed up with me to let me know that Dr. Benford had been asked to not be on programming for the rest of the convention. Later, the con chairs sought me out to tell me that they had removed Dr. Benford from the convention. The third time I was approached, it was by Ops to ask me to make an official report of the incident. Each time concom staff sought me out, I thought that was the end of it.

Apparently, that was not the end of it. It was only after the convention that I found out that Dr. Benford’s removal from the convention had been reversed. It was only after reading social media posts about the incident that I found out that Dr. Benford’s removal from the convention was not actually because of my or anyone else’s report of his comments on the panel, but rather because he didn’t follow the concom’s directions, used foul language, and referred to one of the con chairs as “honey.”

I was not informed that the con would be issuing a statement about the incident on social media, nor was I informed that they would be publicizing Dr. Benford’s statement or asked if I would like the opportunity to do the same. In addition, contrary to what at least one concom member stated, Dr. Benford and I did not have contact of any kind after the panel.

In my on-site interactions with Loscon staff, I felt that they took their Code of Conduct seriously and wanted to ensure that this kind of incident was handled appropriately. Sadly, as I have now found out from other sources more about how Loscon did not follow their own procedures and has still, one week later, not communicated any of this to me directly, I am now extremely disappointed with their disorganization and unprofessionalism.

While I appreciate that the con chairs had good intentions in taking swift action against Dr. Benford, I need to make it absolutely clear that at no point did I request, pressure, insist, or demand that Loscon bypass their policies or procedures, or to remove Dr. Benford from the convention. I was never asked by Loscon for my input or opinion regarding any actions the con took toward Dr. Benford. His removal was a decision made by the con chairs without my knowledge and only communicated to me after it was already done.

I take CoC’s very seriously and believe it is imperative that all conventions not only have a strong CoC, but to also consistently follow policies and procedures to ensure all incidents are handled in an appropriate manner. I reported Dr. Benford’s comments and spoke to File 770 about what happened at the convention because I initially trusted Loscon would properly implement their CoC rules. Unfortunately that trust was misplaced, putting me at risk. When conventions bypass their own CoC policies and procedures, misinformation and confusions result. CoC policies and procedures exist to not only protect the convention, but also to protect attendees, including those who report problems to the convention. Failure to follow procedure can often lead to those who made reports leaves them vulnerable as targets for retaliation and threats, including some I have seen encouraging physical violence against me that have made because of the unclear and conflicting statements and actions taken by Loscon. Convention attendees need to feel safe enough to report incidents, and when failures like this occur, they can discourage other attendees from reporting issues because they don’t want to expose themselves to harassment and threats for doing the right thing.

Loscon did not handle this incident well to begin with, and has made it worse with their lack of communication. I hope that they will learn from this incident and do better going forward, and that other conventions will take note and strengthen their own procedures to prevent a similar situation from occurring.


Update 12/02/2018: The formal address in this post has been corrected to Dr. Benford. Isabel Schecter explains: “I was unaware the he was Dr., and would have used the proper address if I had known. I apologize for my error.”

Loscon 45 Incident: What Happened, and the Committee’s Update

“New Masters of Science Fiction” panel at Loscon 45 with Mel Gilden, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, Gregory Benford, and Brad Lyau. Photo by Kenn Bates.

Over Thanksgiving weekend at Loscon 45, code of conduct violations were alleged against Gregory Benford for a couple of statements he made on the “New Masters of Science Fiction” panel. Afterwards, a Loscon co-chair took the unprecedented step of removing Benford from the convention. However, this action bypassed Loscon’s incident process. The board of directors of LASFS, which owns Loscon, got involved. The issue was returned to the process so con Ops could gather information. Loscon later made an announcement that “the actions desired by the aggrieved parties have been either met or exceeded.” However, at the time Ops met with the party who reported the incident she was still under the impression that Benford had been removed, which was not the ultimate outcome. On November 28, the club posted as its final resolution a statement written by Benford himself which says the co-chair apologized and he accepted the apology.

What happened at the panel: On Saturday morning the “New Masters of Science Fiction” panelists — Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, Mel Gilden, Brad Lyau, and Benford — were discussing the question: “We know the old SF masters — Heinlein, Asimov, Vogt, de Camp, McCaffrey, LeGuin — who are new masters?”

Alvaro Zinos-Amaro and Gregory Benford. Photo by Kenn Bates.

According to Kenn Bates, who was present, Benford said N.K. Jemisin should get her science right.  “He did qualify his comment by saying that he liked hard SF and he was sure that his opinion was biased by that. He also said that PSI powers to control the earth and earthquakes had already been done in the fifties.”

Benford later told readers of David Weber’s Facebook page specifically, “I said, not to anyone in the room, ‘If you write sf honey, gotta get the science right.’”

Isabel Schechter says, “In addition to the ‘honey’ comment, Greg also made another comment-when one of the panelists recommended a Latino author, Greg asked him to spell the name, and then asked again several times before giving up and saying that some or those ‘names have too many vowels.’ He made this comment several times.”

Schechter, who has been in fandom over 20 years and co-chaired the successful San Juan in 2017 NASFiC bid, asked to be called on and made several comments:

I said that we were supposed to be talking about new masters but instead were talking about old ones. I remember saying “old white men” at some point in that description of the old masters, but not about the panelists (two of whom are not White). I did say that there were not any women on the panel (there was one assigned, but she didn’t show up-which I didn’t know). My comment about the female authors was in reference to the contrast between the men being discussed.

I did tell Greg that his use of the word “honey” was “offensive.” He tried to interrupt me and I told him I was still speaking. Shortly thereafter, he declared, “This panel is over!” and left the room. The panel went on without him, with panelists answering several questions after that.

The process: Isabel Schechter says she contacted the committee about events at the panel, beginning with Program organizer Justine Reynolds. Other conversations followed with Loscon co-chairs Christian McGuire and Crys Pretzman, then head of con Ops Lee Almodovar, and Robbie Bourget.

After the panel, several people were talking to me about the panel and Greg’s behavior, and Justine Reynolds, the Program Chair happened to be just outside the room as we walked out. I told her what happened, as did the other people. She apologized and said she would look into it, or something along those lines. I then went about my business. At some point, maybe an hour later, I was told that Greg had been asked to not be on any more programming. I said thanks and thought that was the end of it.

Then maybe an hour later, someone (I don’t know who, but they looked like staff) told me the conchairs wanted to talk to me, and walked me over to them, where they apologized for Greg’s behavior. They said they didn’t want me to think that the convention found his behavior acceptable and that they would not allow that kind of thing there. I thanked them, and again thought that was the end of it.

What happened next is that Christian McGuire, accompanied by someone from the hotel, located Benford at his 1 p.m. signing in the dealer’s room. According to Brandy Grote, “My husband witnessed him being escorted away by Hotel Security during his autograph session.”

Ginjer Buchanan, who read about this on David Weber’s Facebook page, commented, “Short of someone physically assaulting someone else in public, I can’t think of any reason for tracking down a person, no matter who they are, and having them do a perp walk out of a con. This strikes me as a bridge too far…”

What’s more, this step was taken without going through Loscon’s process for handling code of conduct violations. In response to my question, LASFS’ Kristen Gorlitz explained, “We do have a process for dealing with violations, but in this case, the proper channels were bypassed in favor of haste. This was thereafter rectified and the proper channels were consulted. (This is why we have an Ops team).”

Hours after Benford was led out, the committee asked Isabel Schechter to make an official statement:

Later that evening, I was asked by someone (don’t remember who) if I could make an official statement to Ops, so I went to the Ops room and gave a statement to Lee Almodovar. While doing that, [Robbie] (an older blond woman) asked me for details because it turns out that the conchairs didn’t follow convention procedures/coordinate the process with Ops. She said the conchairs overreacted or were extreme or something, and that she preferred to talk to everyone involved to try and reach a resolution, but now that Greg had been kicked out, he might not be willing to talk. She asked me if I was satisfied with the outcome or if I wanted anything like an apology. I told her I would like an apology but didn’t think I would get one. Otherwise, I was fine with the resolution. After that, I again went on about my business.

What happened to Benford led to a retaliatory petition calling for Christian B. McGuire to be removed from the LASFS Board of Directors, signed by a number of LASFS members including Larry Niven, Harry Turtledove, Laura Frankos, and David Gerrold. The next meeting of the Board is in December.

What the public was told: Ops was still collecting information on Sunday morning when LASFS asked File 770 to post this announcement (which also went up on Facebook):

Please be aware that the Loscon committee and LASFS Board are aware of an issue which occurred yesterday during a panel and are conducting a full investigation to ensure that all parties have been heard and then making a final decision based on that investigation. We would request that if anyone believes they have information to approach Ops in the Board Room. We will have an official resolution within 24 hours.

Among the people who reacted to the Facebook request was Barbara Landsman, who had a different perspective.

I was at that panel and I was horrified. I actually stood up and told her that I did not want to hear her political agenda and that she should just stop. Gregory Benford caught my eye and I just made the cut it off sign to him and he just shrugged. He finally got so pissed off that he stormed out. I again made a comment to try to stop her from continuing on with her rant and she just wouldn’t give it up. So I left. If anyone wants my testimony I’ll be very happy to speak on this. She came into this panel with a notebook and made notes and took down names and she definitely had an agenda. She wanted to fight.

Two more fans said they’d been at the panel and had given statements to Ops, but they did not repeat them on Facebook.

On Monday morning, Kristen Gorlitz issued this update:

All parties have been spoken with either yesterday or today. The actions desired by the aggrieved parties have been either met or exceeded through the follow up actions by the Co-Chairs and Ops. We would like to remind everyone and also future Loscons of the importance of being fully aware of our Code of Conduct and how language can cause emotional and psychological harm.

The resolution: Convention committees usually keep confidential their internal deliberations about alleged code of conduct violations so, unsurprisingly, it remains unexplained why the Loscon leadership didn’t follow the process, or how LASFS decided the outcome. Nor does LASFS really show an understanding that it’s their process and they need to take ownership of the outcome, because at the end this what they distributed:

November 28, 2018

Greg Benford gave us permission to publish this statement, if you wish to update file770. Thanks!

Gregory Benford’s message to LASFS:

At the 2018 Loscon there was an incident at a panel where someone took exception to something I said in general—which that someone took to be about a third party, who was not there.  Things got heated.  I left the room, not wanting to continue.  Apparently that someone complained to the convention chairs and they over reacted. The chair has apologized to me and I accepted it gratefully. He and his co-chair were probably trying to do the right thing in these over-heated times.  We all are, I trust. I have been attending Loscon since it began, and my first LASFS meeting was in 1963. I respect these enormously.

People were upset by the way the chairs acted.  Many later came up to me to say they were disturbed over it.  They were more upset than I was.  Since then, I’ve received vastly many emails, calls, Facebook posts, the lot. It’s exhausting. Things are fine with me now.  I’m not upset.  And I hope people will keep cooler heads in the future.

I want to especially thank Craig Miller, John Hertz, Matthew Tepper, Harry Turtledove, Larry Niven, Steve Barnes, John DeChancie, Gordon van Gelder and Michelle Pincus for their help in dealing with this.

At risk of being too professorial, I recommend reading

https://quillette.com/2018/05/17/understanding-victimhood-culture-interview-bradley-campbell-jason-manning/?fbclid=IwAR0hPL1hJRW_ERe6hhokHE6QJL784V4qSojSR5zwLNLwMUcnoHzK08Lwkpg

This is probably the first time the subject of code of conduct allegations ever wrote up the determination for the con committee.

When Kristen Gorlitz answered my follow-up questions about the statement, I learned she was under the impression that Isabel Schechter and Gregory Benford had met and resolved things, which never happened. (Do any other LASFSians think that happened?) Schechter says —

They did not copy me on Greg’s statement. It would have been nice if they had, given that it concerned me.

As for me and Greg resolving things, I have no idea what they mean by that. I never spoke to Greg after the panel, or at any point during the convention, before or after the panel. He did not approach me, I did not approach him, no one put us together, and we had no interaction during the convention other than during the panel. I have no idea why Kristen would say this, and am at a loss for words to explain how confused I am by her comment.

Also, Greg’s statement, “someone took exception to something I said in general—which that someone took to be about a third party, who was not there,” is misleading at best-his comment was not “in general,” he specifically named N.K. Jemisin, I did not need to make up a third party.

After neutralizing effects of the co-chair’s startling decision to walk Benford out of his autograph session, and, so far as the statement shows, managing to keep his good will, it is probably unrealistic to expect LASFS to speak explicitly to the original complaint and say whether its code of conduct was violated by Benford’s comments about Jemisin’s sf, or the spelling of Hispanic names. However, since they are standing behind his statement, how that blank would be filled-in should be easy to guess.


Update 11/30/2018: Robbie Bourget of Loscon Ops forwarded this additional information about their role: “Ops was not involved until the day after the issues, although we did take a statement from Isobel in which she did say when specifically asked ‘what would you have wished to have happen’ she said ‘for Mr Benford to be spoken to about his use of language’ and when I asked if she wanted an apology she said it would be nice but did not expect it. Therefore, since Greg was spoken to, twice, about his language – the requests (actual) of all parties were met or exceeded, since he was excluded from panels that he was scheduled for from the point the Chairs first talked to him and from the floor from after the autograph session on Saturday until sometime Sunday when he was finally interviewed by Ops.”

Pixel Scroll 11/11/18 I’m Scrolling On The Bad Side And I Got My Pixels To The Wall

(1) YA FOR YA. Vicky Who Reads has a lot of interesting observations about “The Many Ways YA Books & The Community Isolates Teens”. Following up her first point, that teens lack money and often do their reading in ways that don’t register with the market (e.g., borrowing books), she says that leads to —

Character Problems

Adults’ money speaks, and adults oftentimes support YA novels with older characters.

Actually–scratch that. Characters who are in their teen years, but basically act like adults.

I find this is both because adult publishing doesn’t want YA-style stories–character relationships and lots of entertainment value. But adults do want to read these types of books, and they show it by influencing the YA category.

So, we end up with lots of upper YA books featuring young adult characters that are acting older and older, but they’re still the same age.

And this doesn’t mean YA readers can’t enjoy adult characters or adult novels or novels with characters that act like adults. But it does mean that these books are taking up the space of books that should be representing teens and the teenage experiences–not a YA style story representing an adult experience.

(2) BREAKING THROUGH. From Odyssey Workshop: “Interview: Guest Lecturer Fran Wilde”.

Why do you think your work began to sell?

That’s a tough question because predicting what works for markets, when markets are always changing, is like trying to read tea leaves when you don’t know how. But early in my writing career, I read slush at a magazine, and that gave me some clues.

For me, tightening everything and making every image and scene as vivid as possible was part of it. And making sure first scenes are crystal clear in intent, voice, setting, and theme—essentially answering the question of why the reader should give this story their time—was part of what helped the work find its audience.

(3) SETTING BOUNDARIES. Con or Bust, which helps people of color/non-white people attend SFF conventions, has adopted a minimal set of anti-harassment policies for cons that wish to donate memberships, “because when Con or Bust accepts donated memberships, it necessarily promotes the conventions in question…” The guideline has been announced now, and will take effect in a year — “Con or Bust will require anti-harassment policies before accepting donated con memberships”.

Here are our requirements for a meaningful anti-harassment policy.

  • The policy’s definition of harassment must:

o   include offensive verbal statements, physical contact, and actions other than physical contact (e.g., stalking, non-consensual photography or recording); and

o   state that the convention prohibits harassment in relation to—at minimum—race, gender, sexuality, impairment, physical appearance, and religion.

  • The policy must state where and when it applies. (Does it extend to off-site events associated with the con, or to con-related online spaces? Does it apply before the con, or after?)
  • The policy must state what happens if someone violates it, including:

o   Who can report the harassment;

o   How to report the harassment. This must include a method of reporting that is not in-person and must include a method of reporting after the convention; and

o   The potential consequences for both the violator and the reporter, including what privacy the reporter will be provided and to what extent the con will take the reporter’s wishes into account when determining what action to take.

(4) NO KSM AWARD. The 20Booksto50K Vegas conference came and went without a word about the “Keystroke Medium Reader’s Choice Awards” expected to debut there following last February’s announcement. I sent a query and KSM’s Josh Hayes answered:

The KSM Awards project was put on hold indefinitely. We didn’t get enough responses to produce a fair and accurate accounting of winners. It’s something we’re looking into for the future!

(5) SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME. The Book Smugglers have announced retrenchment plans:

We have some important news to share with regards to Book Smugglers Publishing. As of December 31st 2018, we will be shifting our business away from for sale short stories, novellas, and novels….

After much thought, discussion, and agonizing–we came to the only decision that we felt was fair for our readers and our creators: to focus on our key Book Smuggler strengths as a website, and as a publisher of short fiction. Moving forward, we will continue to focus on The Book Smugglers as a website with our regular coverage of books–just as we’ve always done since the beginning. We would like to still acquire short stories in the future, but they will only be available for free on our website and without the for sale distribution into e-retail markets.

(6) RAPPING FOR SCIENCE. Rivkah Brown, in “When Rap Gets Physical” in the Financial Times, discusses rapper Consensus, who works with CERN to produce rap videos that explain particle physics. (I could access the article from Bing, but the URL copied here ends up at a paywall. So no link.) His latest video can be found is you look for “Consensus Dark Matter” on YouTube,’

Realising how rapidly CERN’s research moved, Consensus decided to avoid the theoretical and stick to facts. “I didn’t want to write a song, only for the science to change.”

The result of his research was ConCERNed. Released last year, the album condenses an astronomical amount of physics into nine tracks. The most densely packed is, unsurprisingly, “Higgs”. The other eight tracks, Consensus tells me, respect the fact that “there’s only so much people can absorb in four minutes”. But to do justice to the Higgs boson, a particle to which many devote their entire careers, he would have to surpass that saturation point.

Indeed, the lyrics to “Higgs” are pretty cryptic to those who don’t have a deep understanding of the science (“I’m looking to vacuum whatever you’ve got / And the value of what I’m expecting is not / To be zero”). They are, however, menacing. Borrowing from battle rap, Consensus delivers a guttural rhyme that moves between boasts (“People call me Higgs ’cos I’m massive”), insults (“You’re weak, and your life isn’t long”) and threats (“Treat ’em like the LHC / Smash ’em up collide”) to personify a particle that — given that it is known as the “God” particle — probably should intimidate. As he says on the track, “I’m practically the reason you exist.”

 

(7) DORRIS OBIT. Marcia Illingworth writes, “It pains me to have to tell you that Maurine [Dorris] passed away last night [November 11], shortly after 01:00 AM. She passed peacefully with her son Jimmy and friend JoAnn Parsons by her side.”

Maurine is old time SF Fandom. She and Joann Parsons started World Horror Convention. She was active in WorldCon Fandom and World Fantasy. She in known for running ASFA Suites and SWFA Suites at quite a few Worldcons.

(8) RAIN OBIT. Canadian actor Douglas Rain, who was the voice of HAL 9000 in 2001 and 2010, died November 11. (He also voiced Bio Central Computer 2100, Series G, the computer aiding in Our Leader’s cloning in Woody Allen’s comedy Sleeper.)

(9) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.

The SAL9000 was voiced by Candice Bergen.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • November 11, 1951Flight to Mars premiered in theatres.
  • November 11, 1994 Interview with the Vampire was released.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born November 11, 1916Donald Franson. Author of A Key to the Terminology of Science-Fiction Fandom. Also wrote A History of the Hugo, Nebula, and International Fantasy Awards, Listing Nominees & Winners, 1951-1970 and An Author Index to Astounding/Analog: Part II—Vol. 36, #1, September, 1945 to Vol. 73 #3, May, 1964, the first with Howard DeVore. When I first stumble across an author and their works I’m reminded how deep the genre is. (Died 2002.)
  • Born November 11, 1917Mack Reynolds. Author of a couple hundred published short stories and several novels, he sold more work to John W. Campbell Jr.’s Analog than just about anyone — but not the oft-anthologized “Compound Interest” which appeared in F&SF. His 1962 story “Status Quo” was a Hugo nominee, and he had two stories up for the Nebula in 1966, the clever Sherlock Holmes pastiche, “Adventure of the Extraterrestrial,” and “A Leader for Yesteryear.” OGH met him at the 1972 Worldcon. (Died 1983.)
  • Born November 11, 1922Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. The Sirens of Titan was his first SF novel followed by Cat’s Cradle which after turning down his original thesis in 1947, the University of Chicago awarded him his master’s degree in anthropology in 1971 for this novel. Next was Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death which is one weird book and an even stranger film. It was nominated for best novel Nebula and Hugo Awards but lost both to Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. I’m fairly sure Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday is his last genre novel there’s a lot of short fiction where something of a genre nature might have occurred. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 11, 1925Jonathan Winters. Yes he did do quite a few genre performances including an early one as James Howard “Fats” Brown in “A Game of Pool”,  a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone. He next shows up as Albert Paradine II in the TV movie More Wild, Wild West. He had a recurring role in Mork & Mindy as a character named Mearth. You’ll find him in The ShadowThe Adventures of Rocky and BullwinkleThe Flintstones, both of The Smurfs films and quite a bit more. He even of course was a guest on The Muppets Show. (Died 2013.)
  • Born November 11, 1945Delphyne Joan Hanke-Woods. Artist and Illustrator whose grandfather taught her to read using science fiction pulp magazines. After discovering genre fandom at Windycon in 1978, she became one of the leading fan artists in fanzines of the time, including providing numerous covers for File 770. In addition to convention art shows, her art also appeared professionally, illustrating books by R.A. Lafferty, Joan D. Vinge, and Theodore Sturgeon, and in magazines including Galaxy, Fantastic Films, and The Comics Journal. She won two FAAn Awards for Best Serious Artist and was nominated six times for the Best Fan Artist Hugo, winning in 1986. She was Fan Guest of Honor at several conventions, including back at a Windycon, where her fandom started. (Died 2013.)
  • November 11, 1948Kathy Sanders, 70, Costumer and Fan from the Los Angeles area who has chaired/co-chaired Costume-Cons, and has worked on or organized masquerades at a number of Westercons, Loscons, and a Worldcon. She received Costume-Con’s Life Achievement Award in 2015. She is a member of LASFS and of SCIFI, and ran for DUFF in 1987. Her essay “A Masquerade by Any Other Name” appeared in the L.A.con III Worldcon Program Book.
  • Born November 11, 1960Stanley Tucci, 58. Actor, Director, and Producer with a lengthy resume of character roles in genre films including The Core (Yay! The Core!), Prelude to a Kiss, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Muppets Most Wanted, Beauty and the Beast, The Lovely Bones, Captain America: The First Avenger, Jack the Giant Slayer, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, and The Hunger Games films, as well as numerous voice roles including Leonardo da Vinci in Mr. Peabody & Sherman.

(12) WHAT A PICTURE IS WORTH. Jeanette Ng visits The Fantasy Inn to tell about “5 Things That Medieval Bestiary Writers Almost Got Right”. Here’s one of them —

The Gold-Digging Ants

The story of the giant gold-digging ants date back to Herodotus, the father of lies and history. The story goes that these giant dog-sized, furry ants dig grains of gold from the ground. They guard this gold with military precision and diligent action.

It’s a ridiculous tall tale story, but where did it come from?

And is an ant really an ant when it is quite that big and furry?

Herodotus was also very keen on there being winged serpents in Egypt. I’ve long thought of him as travel writer keen to tell you all the stories random people tell him at the pub.

And with the ants, it is possible that it’s just a misunderstanding born out of a translation error. The Persian word for marmot and mountain ant are similar, and there is indeed a species of fox-sized marmot who regularly uncover gold dust in a province of Pakistan due to how rich that ground is in gold.

(13) DOCTOR WHO DOSSIER. Find out what police officer Yasmin Khan has on file about the Pting.

(14) ANIMATION CONFLAGRATION. The Washington Post’s Steven Zeitchik has an overview of the animation industry, “In epic rumpus, Hollywood’s animation sector looks to sort its royalty from its minions”, including whether Disney-Pixar will be in trouble after longtime CEO John Lasseter ended his employment because of sexual harassment allegations and whether Illumination will use its success in the Minions franchise to move into the top tier.

The sector known as one of the film world’s most stable — “Incredibles 2” and “Hotel Transylvania 3” were both hugely lucrative this past summer — is slowly playing out its own mythic dramas, if with less-catchy music.

Companies are beset by mergers, or #MeToo scandals. Studios are wedded to big ambitions, or shackled to past successes.

And internal questions are only the start. Leaders such as Disney and Pixar are trying to maintain dominance over the field, while close competitors like Illumination are closing in. Once-great studios such as DreamWorks are struggling to find their way back. And well-funded upstarts from Sony to Netflix are seeking to knock them all off.

…In interviews with The Washington Post, 16 animation executives and experts, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the highly competitive nature of the field, described a world of intense battles, complex strategies and, maybe most telling, modern motivations. In an era in which entertainment has become fragmented and niche, with kids and parents rarely agreeing on what to watch, animation’s reliable power to attract whole families is the reason studios can’t let it go.

At stake is not just which Hollywood conglomerate will reap financial bounties — major franchises like Toy Story can take in $2 billion or more globally — but which will define the tone and style of animation moviegoers see for years to come. Will the category continued to be dominated by the computer-generated soulfulness of Disney and Pixar? Or will the off-kilter, European flavor of Illumination and its lovably goofy “Minions” make more inroads?

(15) FEMINIST FUTURES. Joe Sherry adds a file on Sheri S. Tepper’s book to Nerds of a Feather’s series: “Feminist Futures: The Gate to Women’s Country”.

The Gate to Women’s Country has a reputation for being among the great works of feminist science fiction, and it may have been at the time, but now thirty years after it was first published, The Gate to Women’s Country does not quite hold up to that legacy. Its importance to the canon of science fiction is not in question. The Gate to Women’s Country has earned that importance. Its reputation as a novel that remains great today is, however, very much in question.

(16) WHERE TO FIND REVIEWS. This week’s collected links to book reviews at Pattinase: “Friday’s Forgotten Books, November 9, 2018”.

  • Mark Baker, DEATH ON THE NILE, Agatha Christie
  • Les Blatt, THE CONQUEROR, E.R. Punshon
  • Elgin Bleecker, GUNS OF BRIXTON, Paul D Brazill
  • Brian Busby: “Grant Allen”
  • Kate Jackson/CrossExaminingCrime, ROCKET TO THE MORGUE, Anthony Boucher
  • Curtis Evans, THE ELECTION BOOTH MURDER, Milton M. Propper
  • Elisabeth Grace Foley, REST AND BE THANKFUL, Helen MacInnes
  • Rich Horton, SKIN HUNGER and SACRED SCARS, Kathleen Duey
  • Jerry House, STAR OVER BETHLEHEM AND OTHER STORIES, Agatha Christie Mallowan
  • George Kelley, END OF THE LINE, Burt and Dolores Hitchens
  • Margot Kinberg, DESERT HEAT, J.A. Jance
  • Rob Kitchin, SIRENS, Joseph Knox
  • B.V. Lawson, VOICE OUT OF DARKNESS, Ursula Curtiss
  • Evan Lewis, THE SEVEN PERCENT SOLUTION, Nicholas Meyer
  • Steve Lewis, SHADY LADY, Cleve Adams
  • Todd Mason, THE AMERICAN FOLK SCENE ed. David DeTurk & A. Poulin, Jr.; BOB
    DYLAN: DON’T LOOK BACK transcribed & edited by DJ Pennebaker et al.;
    DANGEROUSLY FUNNY by David Bianculli
  • Kent Morgan, IN A TRUE LIGHT, John Harvey
  • J. F. Norris, MAYNARDS’S HOUSE, Herman Raucher
  • James Reasoner, THE COMPLETE MIKE SHAYNE, PRIVATE EYE, Ken Fitch and Ed Ashe (1960s comics adaptation)
  • Richard Robinson, THE WAY THE FUTURE WAS, Frederik Pohl
  • Mike Sind/Only Detect, DARKNESS TAKE MY HAND, Dennis Lehane
  • Kevin Tipple, CORKSCREW, Ted Wood
  • TomCat, THE HOUSE OF STRANGE GUESTS, Nicholas Brady
  • TracyK, THE BIRTHDAY MURDER, Lange Lewis

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Why Does The Grim Reaper Exist?” on YouTube, The New Yorker looks at the 132 Grim Reaper cartoons published in their magazine (including ones by Charles Addams and Gahan Wilson) to see why the Grim Reaper exists and why we think he can be mocked.

[Thanks to JJ, Marcia Illingworth, Karl-Johan Norén, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day cmm.]

Pixel Scroll 10/27/18 When A Pixel’s Not Engaged In Its Enscrollment, Or Maturing Its Pixellious Little Plans

(1) ARISIA AGAIN. A second account where someone tells how Arisia unsatisfactorily handled her reported rape — Maura Taylor in “Arisia and #MeToo (TW: Rape)”.

I believe Crystal Huff, in part because a very similar thing happened to me.

Arisia ’15, I was raped. And Arisia did nothing in response…

(2) NOVEL VERDICT. SF Bluestocking weighs in on an anticipated sequel: “Book Review: Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames”.

Nicholas Eames’ freshman novel, Kings of the Wyld, was one of my favorite reads of 2017, a well-written, cleverly observed and often hilariously funny adventure fantasy pastiche that adhered to genre forms while gently poking fun at well-worn tropes and presenting a refreshingly positive and downright heartwarming portrait of non-toxic masculinity in action. So I was pretty hyped to see what Eames would make of this sequel, which showcases a mixed-gender cast from the point of view of a queer teenage girl. Unfortunately, Bloody Rose doesn’t quite rise to the level of excellence of its predecessor, although it’s also by no means a complete failure at the perhaps-too-many things it sets out to accomplish…

(3) HERE’S LOOKING AT WHO, KID. ScienceFiction.com calls it “sour grapes”: “Steven Moffat Is Afraid Of ‘Doctor Who’ Looking ‘Cheap’”.

While on an episode of the podcast Sitcom Geeks, Moffat revealed that he thinks more money should be spent on ‘Doctor Who’ in order to keep the show competitive. The interviewer made a comment about the ‘Who’ of his childhood, saying:

“My memory of ‘Doctor Who’ is very much a piece of cardboard that he is standing behind.”

To which Moffat replied:

“That’s the big challenge of ‘Doctor Who’ now… running the risk of looking as cheap now as it did then, compared to what the rest of TV is doing, unless they put a whole lot more money into it. And it’s still an inexpensive show. A show that generates as much money as ‘Doctor Who’ should be getting more of it back.”

(4) A THEOLOGICAL CONTROVERSY. Popsugar throws down: “Is the Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween Movie or a Christmas Movie? Let’s Settle This”.

Yes, a lot of the movie takes place in Halloween Town and main character Jack Skellington is the Pumpkin King, but there are also plenty of Christmas elements once Jack travels to Christmas Town. Is it a Christmas movie that happens to take place around Halloween, or is it a Halloween movie with strong Christmas themes? The debate between which is which has raged on among fans ever since the film’s release in 1993 (in late October, it should be noted), so much so that director Henry Selick finally had to step into the fray.

Click to find out how the director answered the question.

(5) FAST FOOD CONFRONTATION. N.K. Jemisin’s thread starts here.

“Badassfully” — that cracks me up.

(6) FOR THE RECORD. Video researcher Echo Ishii’s latest two finds include one of the recent past and another from 20 years ago.

HUMANS is a UK science fiction television series that began in 2015. There are three series broadcast thus far. The theme revolves around a modern world in which anthropomorphic androids called ‘synths’ are part of daily life. Synths can be purchased for family/personal use but there are also synths contracted by companies and synths contracted by government health services. HUMANS is an SF drama show-the focus being on how the exists of synths explores human relationships to technology and each other….

…Thomas Veil’s life has been erased. His friends don’t know him and his identity seems to be erased from all record. He figures out that the people responsible for his erasure negatives of a photograph he took of rebels being hanged by  US soldiers in South America. Someone wants the negatives to erase all the evidence. Veil believes it’s part of a coverup of government activities.  He tries to identify the military unit involved using evidence from the photos, yet, each step takes him  deeper into a an ever, menacing conspiracy.  He follows a trail of clues with lead him to several other anomalies: one town controlled by  subliminal programming; another town in which people are being abducted by UFO’s;  yet another  town comprised entirely of people who’ve been erased like Tom.  Veil himself is often captured, tracked, and subject to further experiments.

(7) THE PLOT THICKENS. WIRED’s coverage of Kim Stanley’s Robinson’s new book, Red Moon, begins in his community garden plot — “The Climate-Obsessed Sci-Fi Genius of Kim Stanley Robinson”.

Robinson’s little town, crisscrossed by bike paths, is full of artists and scientists. (The guy who works the next garden plot over is a researcher at Monsanto; Robinson says everyone can tell that neighbor secretly threw down some RoundUp to clear a pathway.) Robinson tried to build a perfect ecosystem within the constraints of scientific and political realities. It went wrong. Now, only a polymerization of advanced superscience and hardcore diplomacy will fix it—and ignoring those realities will make things worse.

In other words, Kim Stanley Robinson is living inside a Kim Stanley Robinson novel….

(8) LE GUIN THE POET. David Naimon, who interviewed Ursula K. Le Guin for Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing, discusses in “Always Beginning”, a post at the Poetry Foundation website, how Le Guin’s she continued to work on poems throughout her career.

…Despite her formal playfulness, Le Guin’s poems aren’t considered experimental or avant-garde. She wasn’t interested in what was or was not en vogue—formally, stylistically, or otherwise—in contemporary poetry. She found more freedom in the constraints of metrically rhyming verse than in free verse. And there is a way in which Le Guin’s poetry feels, if not out of time, then as if it arises from a longer span of time. I first noticed this elongated perspective, this drawing from a longer timeline of influence, when discussing the craft of writing fiction with her. She cautioned against getting swept up in whatever was in fashion given how many fashions she had seen come and go in publishing, as well as how the commodification of books shapes many of these fashions….

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 27, 1926 – Takumi Shibano, Teacher, Writer, Editor, and Fan from Japan. He co-founded and edited Uchujin, Japan’s first SF magazine, in 1957. He was a major figure in the establishment of Japanese SFF fandom, and he founded and chaired four of the first six conventions in that country. In 1968 the Trans-Oceanic Fan Fund (TOFF) paid for him to attend a Worldcon for the first time, in the U.S., where he was a Special Guest. He wrote several science fiction novels starting in 1969, but his work translating more than 60 science fiction novels into Japanese was his major contribution to speculative fiction. From 1979 on, he attended most Worldcons and served as the presenter of the Seiun Award. He was Fan Guest of Honor at two Worldcons, in 1996 and at Nippon 2007, he was given the Big Heart Award by English-speaking fandom, and he was presented with a Special Hugo Award and a Special Seiun Award.
  • Born October 27, 1939 – John Cleese, 79, Oscar-nominated Actor, Writer, and Producer from England whose most famous genre work is undoubtedly in the Hugo finalist Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but who has also appeared many other genre films, including the Saturn-nominated Time Bandits, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, The Great Muppet Caper, the live-action version of The Jungle Book, two of the Harry Potter movies, and the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still – and, surprisingly, in episodes of the TV series The Avengers, Doctor Who, and 3rd Rock from the Sun. And he wrote a DC Elseworlds tale, Superman: True Brit, in which Superman was British. Really. Truly.
  • Born October 27, 1940 – Patrick Woodroffe, Artist and Illustrator from England, who produced more than 90 covers for SFF books, including works by Zelazny, Heinlein, and GRRM, along with numerous interior illustrations, in the 1970s. He was also commissioned to provide speculative art for record album cover sleeves; his masterwork was The Pentateuch of the Cosmogony: The Birth and Death of a World, a joint project with the symphonic rock musician Dave Greenslade, which purported to be the first five chapters of an alien Book of Genesis, consisting of two music discs by the musician and a 47-page book of Woodroffe’s illustrations. It sold over 50,000 copies in a five-year period, and the illustrations were exhibited at the Brighton UK Worldcon in 1979. Hallelujah Anyway, a collection of his work, was published in 1984, and he was nominated for Chesley and BSFA Awards.
  • Born October 27, 1948 – James Cosmo, 70, Actor and Producer from Scotland whose most notable recent genre appearance was playing Night’s Watch Commander Mormont in the series Game of Thrones. He had roles in the films Highlander, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising, Wonder Woman, Doomwatch, Malevolent, Dark Signal, and the short film 2081 (based on Vonnegut’s story “Harrison Bergeron”), as well as roles in TV series such as SS-GG, Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic, UFO, Merlin, and the upcoming His Dark Materials.
  • Born October 27, 1948 – Bernie Wrightson, Artist and Illustrator, whose credits include dozens of comic books and fiction book covers, and more than hundred interior illustrations, as well as a number of accompanying works of short fiction. His first comic book story, “The Man Who Murdered Himself” appeared in the House of Mystery No. 179 in 1969. With writer Len Wein, he later co-created the muck creature Swamp Thing in House of Secrets No. 92. In the 70s, he spent seven years drawing approximately fifty detailed pen-and-ink illustrations to accompany an edition of Frankenstein. And in the 80s, he did a number of collaborations with Stephen King, including the comic book adaptation of that author’s horror film Creepshow. In 2012, he collaborated with Steve Niles on Frankenstein Alive, Alive! for which he won a National Cartoonists Society’s award. He was Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, was honored with an Inkwell Special Recognition Award for his 45-year comics art career, and received nominations for Chesley Awards for Superior and Lifetime Artistic Achievement and for a Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in an Illustrated Narrative.
  • Born October 27, 1953 – Robert Picardo, 65, Actor and Writer who played the Emergency Medical Hologram on 170 episodes of the Saturn-winning Star Trek: Voyager, a role which he reprised in cameos in the film Star Trek: First Contact and episodes of Deep Space Nine and the fan series Star Trek: Renegades. He is also credited with writing a Voyager tie-in work, The Hologram’s Handbook. He has a long list of other genre credits, including the films The Man Who Fell to Earth, Total Recall, Innerspace, Legend, Amazon Women on the Moon, and Gremlins 2 (for which he received a Saturn nomination to match the one he received for Voyager), and recurring roles in the TV series Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, Smallville, and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Since 1999 he has been a member of the Advisory Board, and now the Board of Directors, of The Planetary Society, which was founded by Carl Sagan to provide research, public outreach, and political advocacy for engineering projects related to astronomy, planetary science, and space exploration.
  • Born October 27, 1970 – Jonathan Stroud, 48, Writer from England who produces speculative genre literature for children and young adults. The Bartimaeus Trilogy is set in an alternate London, and involves a thousand-year-old djinn; Lockwood & Co. is a series involving ghost hunters in another alternative London. I’ve read a few of the latter – they’re fun, fast reads. His works have won 3 Mythopoeic Awards for Children’s Literature and 3 Prix Imaginaires for Youth Novels.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • In Monty, an attack of the credentials:
  • Wrong Hands is confident you’ll hear a lot of these clichés at Halloween.

(11) INPUT REQUESTED. Do you have an opinion about what magazines Featured Futures should cover? Jason wants to know: “Poll: What Magazines Should Featured Futures Cover?”

(12) BACK IN THE ZONE. Whew! Galactic Journey’s Natalie Devitt says in the new fall (1963) season The Twilight Zone has redeemed itself: “[October 26, 1963] [Return to Form] (Twilight Zone, Season 5, Episodes 1-4)”.

In case you have been living under a rock or moved on to newer programs, like The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone returned to television for a fifth season. The series has also returned to a half-hour format and is once again airing on Friday nights. Back in May, I wrote that I hoped the program would be renewed for at least another season, because I just could not bear the thought of a once great series ending its run with an episode like The Bard. Well, it seems as if the television gods must have been listening because my wish has come true. If you have not been tuning in consistently for the past month, here is what you may have missed:

(13) PANNED. NPR’s Chris Klimek reviews “‘Suspiria’: A Cult-Horror Remake Dances To A Confusing Beat”.

Suspiria, Luca Guadagnino’s reimagining of Dario Argento’s gnarly Italian cult film about a haunted dance academy in Germany, is vulgar, shamelessly pretentious, and frequently opaque. But enough about its virtues.

Set in 1977, the year Argento unleashed Suspiria Prime upon the world, this “cover version” (in the words of Guadagnino’s longtime collaborator Tilda Swinton, who plays three of the new film’s major roles, under varying tonnages of prosthetic makeup) is, tonally and visually, muted and somber where its inspiration was vibrant and operatic. A title card at the opening warns us that it comprises “Six Acts and an Epilogue in a Divided Berlin,” and sure enough, this Suspiria, at 152 minutes, runs just shy of an hour longer than Argento’s. Even without those title cards at the top of each act, you would. Notice. The. Time.

(14) PECUNIAM PRO ARTIS. Monetizing: at London’s “Comic Con, Cosplayers explain how they support their art”.

Yaya Han has more than two million fans on Facebook alone. She’s become a celebrity in her own right and has even featured on comic book covers for Marvel.

She has found her niche within the community, but only through trial and error.

“It’s still brand new to all of us,” she says.

“I have a line of cosplay accessories that I designed back in the early 2000s. I have been selling online as well as at conventions as a vendor or exhibitor.

“People saw me at conventions for years, and this was how I built my name and brand recognition.

“I did all of this without knowing what I was doing. I just wanted to live at cons [conventions].

(15) OLD FILM SERVICE TO BE SHUTTERED. FilmStruck, a subsection/streaming service for old movies, will be closed before the end of November says Gizmodo: “Warner Bros. and Turner Are Killing One of the Internet’s Last Good Things”.

…  Variety reports that AT&T subsidiaries Warner Bros. Digital Network and Turner are shuttering FilmStruck, the Netflix-like streaming service for older films. If you’ll remember AT&T acquired Turner, Warner Bros., and HBO in a major deal in June.

FilmStruck, for the sadly uninitiated, is a service that allowed you to stream thousands of old movies and documentaries for less than the price of Netflix. For old movie lovers, this was an absolute boon; between the catalogs of Warner Bros., Turner, and Criterion, FilmStruck had the largest library of early films available to a mass audience. There are movies on the service that are virtually impossible for the public to view any other way—no VHS release, no readily available spools of film, and only the slightest chance of a screening on TCM.

(16) CEASELESS SURVEILLANCE. Camestros Felapton discusses the trilogy — “Review: The Centenal Cycle by Malka Older”.

Comprising three books (Infomocracy, Null States and State Tectonics), the Centenal Cycle examines a near future world with a radical form of global democracy. With most of the globe carved up into roughly equal population sized mini-states, Older’s thought-experiment novels takes the ‘marketplace of ideas’ seriously with a world where people might move a few blocks in a big city to change their government. The grout in the tiles of worldwide micro-democracy is information and Information. The latter is an organisation that is a cross between a nationalised Google, a surveillance state, a non-partisan civil service, the ‘deep state’ and a benevolent version of a Wikipedia of everything….

(17) FRANK AT 200. At Nerds of a Feather, Adri analyzes a thematic collection — “Microreview [Book]: Creatures: The Legacy of Frankenstein”.

I’m looking today at a timely volume from Abaddon books, which explores the mythology two centuries on through a new set of stories edited by David Thomas Moore. Creatures: The Legacy of Frankenstein is a collection of five long novelettes and/or short novellas exploring the legacy of Victor Frankenstein and his creation through a series of shared universe stories, dealing with other creators in other situations, all of which circle the same themes of life, death, autonomy and monstrosity that the original text evokes so effectively.

…Put together, this is a very strong collection: what the stories as a whole lack in inter-relatedness and consistency, they make up for in terms of the sheer breadth of the Frankenstein experience that they cover between them.

(18) STYLE SAVINGS. Silly, but they are authorized. “A Sweet Offer: The Last Unicorn Nail Wraps” at Support Peter S. Beagle.

Interested in some neat The Last Unicorn themed product that’s been personally endorsed by Peter and benefits him as well? Well do I have a very sweet deal for you!

Peter says to tell mr to share code UNICORN10 with you which will grant you 10% off of all The Last Unicorn nail wraps and you can go here to view all neat designs you can purchase.

(19) DEATH ON A HOLIDAY. The “15th Annual Halloween Mourning Tours” educate people about death in Los Angeles a century ago.

It’s 1918, there’s been a death in the family and you are invited to the funeral. Will you cry? What will you wear? Will you attempt to contact the dearly departed?

Get the answers as you join the funeral party and see how Edwardians grieved their dead at Heritage Square Museum’s popular Mourning Tours from noon – 4pm on October 27 and 28, 2018.  Throughout the weekend, funeral-goers will be immersed in mourning etiquette, participate in a reenactment ceremony inside a historic home and other activities including:

  • The year is 1918 and that means the Spanish Flu is wreaking havoc! Will you defy the gathering bans to attend the funeral? Or, if you are deemed “sick,” what will you discover as you are escorted into a flu-ridden home?
  • Learn about the turn-of-the-century movement of Spiritualism and the lure of séances complete with a reenactment and a discussion on the “tricks of the trade.”
  • Experience a re-creation of Phantasmagoria, a phenomenon that shocked and exhilarated its Victorian audiences.

(20) MOONBASE. An open access article at Nature — “How to build a Moonbase” [PDF file].

Researchers are ramping up plans for living on the Moon.

Next year, astronaut Matthias Maurer expects to walk on the surface of the Moon — but without the hassles of a rocket flight, zero-gravity nausea and a risky landing. Instead he’ll stroll close to home in a leafy meadow near Cologne, Germany, which is set to host the largest Moon mock-up ever made. On a pit of artificial lunar dust covering more than 1,000 square metres, Maurer and other scientists will be attached to crane-and-pulley systems that allow them to leap as if experiencing the Moon’s weaker gravity, and work under adjustable lamps that simulate lighting at different lunar sites. Sometimes, they will retreat to lunar-style living quarters: an airlock-connected module the size of a shipping container.

(21) BYE BYE BOBA. There won’t be a Boba Fett movie and this writer for The Verge seems to think it is a Good Thing™: “Lucasfilm canceling its Boba Fett film could be good news for Star Wars’ future”.

…We also know what happens with the other characters in the other rumored projects: Boba Fett gets eaten by a Sarlacc in Return of the Jedi, and Obi-Wan Kenobi bites it after helping a terrorism suspect escape from a secure facility in A New Hope. These backstory movies flesh out the larger world of Star Wars, but they’re not advancing the larger story or advancing toward the kind of ending that builds anticipation and story loyalty.

This isn’t to say that prequel stories can’t be useful or interesting. Lucasfilm’s animated TV shows have done solid work in looking at older time periods in the franchise and telling intriguing, engaging, successful stories…

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

Crystal Huff’s Arisia Statement Evokes Strong Response

As reported earlier today in the Pixel Scroll, Crystal Huff told why she is calling it quits with the Boston convention Arisia: “Why I’m Not At Arisia Anymore: My Rapist is President. Again.” Her 6,000+ word statement explains the charge and a great deal of other history. In the hours her post has been online it’s generated a powerful response.

Two of Arisia 2019’s guests of honor, Daniel Jose Older and Malka Older, say “we’re not GoHing the con as things stand” —

Nalo Hopkinson told Huff that Arisia 2020 had asked her to be GoH and her post had helped her decide —

The Arisia committee, inundated with messages, promises a reply this weekend.

Claire Rousseau and Jim C. Hines have written insightful comments about the issues raised in Crystal’s post.

Claire Rousseau’s Twitter thread starts here.

Jim C. Hines reblogged Crystal Huff’s post with some introductory comments:

…Conventions have gotten better in recent years about establishing policies on abuse and harassment. When it comes to following and enforcing those policies, the record is spottier. I know of some instances where conventions have done an amazing job of following through and working to promote the safety of their attendees.

Crystal’s experience, when she reported this to Arisia, was … well, it sounds like she’s correct when she says she doesn’t think Arisia was prepared to deal with this situation. It’s one thing to create a policy. It gets messier when the accusation is against someone you know. Possibly a friend. Possibly an officer in your organization….

People are reevaluating their plans to attend or work on the con.

Marie Brennan responds to Huff’s statement in “On Arisia”

…This is not a con I can trust with my safety, or that of anybody I know. So while I did not have any existing plans to attend Arisia — just a vague “ooh, I should do that someday!” intention — I now have very firm plans not to attend. Not this year, not next year, not any year until and unless this is made better. And if you’re an Arisia attendee, I encourage you to rethink that plan.

Kate Nepveu has ended her participation in the con:

Effective immediately, please remove me from the org chart as Tiptree Bake Sale staff and from programming as a participant. I will not be attending Arisia until Noel Rosenberg is removed as President of Arisia, Inc. and Division Head of Operations, and is banned from the convention….

Many people have tweeted their concerns or outrage to the Arisia committee, including these writers, editors, and conrunners:

Some additional comments on Facebook:

Richard Man

We were at Arisia one to whatever it was at 1993. Always thought it would be fun to go again, but not until this situation is redressed.

Glenn Hauman

Well, now I don’t feel nearly as bad as I did for not going this coming year. The convention I thought I knew has been changing even more that I thought, the staff member near and dear to my heart has been dead for a decade. I think I can let this one go now.

Nick Mamatas

File under “Geek Culture Must Be Destroyed.” It’s horrifying, what the convention put Huff through to make sure the rapist could…be in charge of safety at the convention. And now he’s President of it.

Juliette Wade

I won’t be attending this convention.

Pixel Scroll 10/25/18 Because I Could Not Scroll The Pixel, It Kindly Scrolled For Me

Today’s Scroll is unconscionably short because I took the early part of the day to deliver a prescription to my mother, and must leave soon to see my daughter perform with the color guard at a football game. I have left space to drop in the birthdays when I get back….!

(1) LORD NAMED A JUDGE FOR COMMONWEALTH PRIZE. Karen Lord, author and Worldcon 75 toastmistress, has been named one of the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize judges.

The judging panel will be chaired by Kittitian-British novelist, playwright and essayist Caryl Phillips —

He will be joined on the international judging panel by a judge from each of the five Commonwealth regions – Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific. They will be: Ugandan novelist and short story writer Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, Pakistani writer and journalist Mohammed Hanif, Barbados’s Karen Lord, British short story writer Chris Power, and New Zealander poet, playwright, fiction writer and musician Courtney Sina Meredith.

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2,000–5,000 words) in English. Regional winners receive £2,500 and the overall winner receives £5,000. Translated entries are also eligible, as are stories written in the original Bengali, Chinese, Greek, Kiswahili, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan, Tamil and Turkish. The competition is free to enter.

The submission window for the 2019 Prize is open and will close 1 November 2018. Find the 2019 rules here.

(2) CHARGES LEVELED AT ARISIA LEADERSHIP. Crystal Huff says she is calling it quits with the convention: “Why I’m Not At Arisia Anymore: My Rapist is President. Again.” Her 6,000+ word statement explains the charge and a great deal of other history.

Content warnings: rape, trauma, sexism, gaslighting, harassment, intimidation, stalking, and general asshattery of a group of people in general and one rapist in particular….

…Arisia was the first science fiction event I attended, my first year in college. It was the first convention for which I volunteered on staff. After working on the convention for several years, it was the first one I chaired, in 2011. I served on the executive board several times. I used to regard Arisia as my “home convention,” and I was proud of the things I did to make it happen. I regarded the progress on the con’s inclusion and diversity efforts in recent years as having roots in things I did years ago, in ways great and small, and I was thrilled to see accessibility and safer spaces and diversity of program participants expand beyond those efforts. I was, to be honest, chuffed that Arisia was considered a feminist convention by other convention-runners. My online handle, for many years, was “ArisiaCrystal.”

You can therefore perhaps imagine how awful and gutting it was for me when members of Arisia leadership, over the past few years, told me that there was nothing to be done about the fact that my rapist was also on staff, in positions of authority, and has in recent years involved himself with the safety processes of the convention. Over the past few years, these developments have edged me out of the Arisia community.

Marie Brennan responds to Huff’s statement in “On Arisia”

…This is not a con I can trust with my safety, or that of anybody I know. So while I did not have any existing plans to attend Arisia — just a vague “ooh, I should do that someday!” intention — I now have very firm plans not to attend. Not this year, not next year, not any year until and unless this is made better. And if you’re an Arisia attendee, I encourage you to rethink that plan.

(3) STAR TREK ALA ‘RICK AND MORTY’. Coming to CBS All Access, “‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Animated Series From ‘Rick and Morty’ EP & Secret Hideout Ordered By CBS All Access”Deadline has the story.

The expansion of CBS All Access Star Trek universe continues with a two-season order to Star Trek: Lower Decks, a half-hour adult animated comedy series from Rick and Morty head writer and executive producer Mike McMahan, a long-time Star Trek fan. Star Trek: Lower Decks, which will focus on the support crew serving on one of Starfleet’s least important ships, marks CBS All Access’ first original animated series and the first project to be produced by CBS Eye Animation Productions, a newly launched animation arm of CBS Television Studios.

It hails from Alex Kurtzman’s CBS TV Studios-based Secret Hideout, which had been spearheading the Star Trek franchise expansion, and Roddenberry Entertainment. Secret Hideout’s Alex Kurtzman and Heather Kadin, Roddenberry Entertainment’s Rod Roddenberry and Trevor Roth as well as former Cartoon Network executive Katie Krentz will executive produce alongside McMahan. Aaron Baiers, who brought McMahan to the project, will serve as a co-executive producer.

(4) INDUSTRY NEWS. Shelf Awareness Pro reports these changes at Tom Doherty Associates (Tor/Forge/Tor Teen/Starscape):

Anthony Parisi has joined the company as associate director, Tor Teen, Starscape, and school & library marketing. He was formerly senior marketing manager at Simon and Schuster.

Rebecca Yeager has been promoted to advertising and promotions manager. She was formerly assistant manager.

Renata Sweeney has been promoted to digital marketing manager, Tor, Forge Books, Tor Teen, Starscape. She was formerly associate manager.

Isa Caban has joined the company as marketing manager, Tor Teen, Starscape, and school & library marketing. She was formerly YA associate marketing manager at Scholastic.

Sara Di Blasi has been promoted to marketing assistant, Tor Teen, Starscape, and school & library marketing. She was formerly assistant to the v-p of marketing and publicity.

Zakiya Jamal has joined the company as digital marketing assistant, Tor, Forge Books, Tor Teen, Starscape.

(5) WORD STUDY. According to the Oxford English Dictionary the word “prequel” first appeared in print in 1958 in an article by Anthony Boucher in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, used to describe James Blish’s 1956 story They Shall Have Stars, which expanded on the story introduced in his earlier 1955 work, Earthman Come HomeMother Jones reports “Before 1958, There Was No Way to Say That Something Was Stackable”.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

  • Born October 25, 1902 – Mark Marchioni, Artist known as “Marchioni”. He sold his first illustration to Hugo Gernsback’s Air Wonder Stories in 1929. He went on to draw black and white story illustrations, in the Modernist, style, for most pulp magazines in the science fiction genre, including Astonishing Stories, Astounding, Startling Stories, Wonder Stories, and Thrilling Wonder Stories, from 1930-1948. In the 40s, his lifelong interest in machinery lead him to invent a coin-sorting machine, for which he and his older brother Caesar won a patent. They also invented, patented, and manufactured for nearly three decades the Tiltall aluminum camera tripod, which became wildly popular with photographers for its superior performance; eventually the rights were sold to Leica.
  • Born October 25, 1924 — Billy Barty, who was frequently cast in character roles where his small stature suited the character, and who is probably best known to genre fans as the wise elder wizard in Willow. He was also in the Ridley Scott fantasy Legend, and played the rotoscoped Bilbo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee in the animated The Lord of the Rings; other appearances include in Alice in Wonderland, Bride of Frankenstein, The Undead, Rumpelstiltskin, Snow White, Masters of the Universe, and Lobster Man from Mars.
  • Born October 25, 1935 – Russell “Rusty” Schweikart, 83, Pilot and Astronaut who was the lunar module pilot for Apollo 9, and the first in the Apollo program to do an EVA (Extra-Vehicular Activity). During the launch of the first Skylab space station mission in 1973, the station’s thermal heat shield was lost, and his work developing procedures and equipment for building and implementing an emergency solar shade, and for deployment of a jammed solar array wing, resulted in saving the space station. He was awarded NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal and Exceptional Service Medal. He is the co-founder and chair of the B612 Foundation, an organization devoted to finding ways to defend Earth from the impact of stray asteroids.
  • Born October 25, 1955 – Gale Anne Hurd, 63, Saturn-winning Writer, Film Producer and founder of Valhalla Entertainment. After starting out as executive assistant to New World Pictures president Roger Corman, she formed her own production company which has been responsible for numerous major blockbusters in the last 30+ years, including the Hugo-winning Aliens, the first three Terminator movies, Hugo finalist The Abyss, and Armageddon as well as Virus, The Relic, two Hulk movies, Aeon Flux and the just-announced TV series of the same name, and The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead series.
  • Born October 25, 1963 – John Gregory Betancourt, 55, Writer who is best known (or possibly most notorious) for his third Chronicles of Amber series in Roger Zelazny’s universe, and who has written quite a bit of other franchise fiction including in the Star Trek, Hercules, and The New Adventures of Superman universes. Most of his original fiction was early in his career. He’s also edited in a number of magazines including Weird Tales, Amazing Stories, H. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror, Adventure Tales, and Cat Tales, and co-edited with Anne McCaffrey Serve It Forth: Cooking with Anne McCaffrey. He founded Wildside Press in 1989, which has received three nominations for World Fantasy Special Awards.
  • Born October 25, 1964 – Kevin Michael Richardson, 54, Actor and Singer who has become a powerhouse as a voice actor in the animation world in the last 20 years. Just a few of his more than a hundred show credits include roles in the animated series The Batman, Black Panther, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Simpsons, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Ben 10, Lilo & Stitch, Gremlins, Ace Ventura, Voltron, Family Guy, and Buzz Lightyear. He has had numerous nominations and wins for Behind The Voice, Annie, and Daytime Emmy Awards.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) SPOILERS. io9’s Avengers 4 Set Pictures Tease an Interesting Upgrade for Pepper Potts” collects rumors (Spoiler Alert) for upcoming movies & TV series including:

  • Avengers 4
  • Night of the Comet
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • Quicksand
  • The Boy 2
  • Monster Problems
  • Terminator 6
  • Charlie’s Angels
  • Reign of the Supermen
  • Daredevil
  • 2018 Arrowverse Crossover
  • Star Trek: Discovery
  • The Passage
  • Cloak & Dagger
  • The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
  • Riverdale
  • The Purge
  • Black Lighting
  • The Flash

(9) LE GUIN. The London Review Bookshop, which is related to the London Review of Books, has chosen Ursula K. Le Guin as its Author of the Month for November. The bookstore will have a dedicated table for the author’s books at its location in London.

Le Guin’s work throughout her long career was underpinned by her deep interest in anthropology, feminism, environmentalism and anarchism. In 2014 she wrote about her philosophy of writing: “anything at all can be said to happen [in the future] without fear of contradiction from a native. The future is a safe, sterile laboratory for trying out ideas in, a means of thinking about reality, a method.”

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

Pixel Scroll 7/25/18 Pun For A Headline, Pixels Comment Underground

(1) DILLON KICKSTARTER. A Kickstarter to crowdfund “Daydreamer’s Journey, a new Art Book by Julie Dillon” was launched July 24. Dillon is one of the top artists in the field, a three-time Hugo Award winner (plus five Chesley Awards, three Locus Awards, and a British Fantasy Award).

I absolutely love to draw and paint, and art has been a vital part of my life for as long as I can remember.  Art can offer an escape as well as an invitation; a way to process one’s experience of the world, a way to offer a different perspective. It can illuminate and reveal the magic lurking just beneath the surface of the world, and that is what I’ve attempted to do throughout my career as an artist.

I’ve put together an art book that will let me share with you more of my art and ideas than I ever have before….

Daydreamer’s Journey will be a 200 page 8.5″ x 11″ hardcover book, on beautiful thick glossy paper. This book will contain personal work, freelance projects, sketches, studies, and illustration drafts, some of which either has never been posted online or that hasn’t been available online in over a decade. Also included will be my commentary and thoughts, as well as progress shots for most pieces so you can see part of my painting and brainstorming process.

With 29 days to go, Dillon so far has raised $12,653 of her $18,500 goal.

(2) #METOO AT COMIC-CON. SFGate evaluates the attention to antiharassment efforts at this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego: “Comic-Con in the #MeToo Era: Progress Comes One Panel at a Time”.

…Officially, Comic-Con was silent about #MeToo. When SDCC programming director Eddie Ibrahim gave his traditional kick off speech in Hall H on Thursday morning, notably absent was any mention of the convention’s harassment policies. That continued for all four days of the convention.

…Comic-Con for its part has chosen not to update those anti-harassment policies, which state in part that “harassing or offensive behavior will not be tolerated,” and that “persons finding themselves in a situation where they feel their safety is at risk or who become aware of an attendee not in compliance with this policy” should seek out security or SDCC staff.

Whatever actions the organization is taking behind the scenes, it ultimately chose not to discuss them publicly. Comic-Con International did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap

Unofficially, fans and creators were frequently vocal in support of greater inclusion and representation, and in talking about harassment and abuse.

The panel for NBC’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” on Friday night was a particular stand out, with cast members, producers, and fans touching on a range of sensitive issues. Notably, one fan thanked Terry Crews, who accused William Morris Endeavor agent Adam Venit of groping him, “for your part in #MeToo,” adding, “I’m so sorry for all of us that are part of #MeToo that you have to be part of it.”

And at a panel called “The Future Is Female,” “Bumblebee” and “Birds of Prey” screenwriter Christina Hodson got huge cheers and lots of knowing muttering when she celebrated the successes of the #MeToo era but noted that much work remains.

“Nine months ago, no one gave a s—. Like, no one cares what happens. Now everything has shifted. So I think behavior on set, in writers’ rooms, that’s all going to shift. So I’m very happy about that,” she said.

(3) ELFQUEST PROFILED. Rob Beschizza explores “The Weird Of Wendy Pini” at BoingBoing. “Voices from another world spoke with sublime otherness, helping an indie cartoonist face down prudes, pain and the patriarchy.”

Elfquest began in 1978 and concluded this spring, forty years in the telling. Devised and written with her husband Richard, its story follows the Wolfrider clan and its chief, Cutter, burned from their ancient forest home by vengeful humans. Sweeping from a rough fantasy premise to epic science fiction, the Wolfriders find other elfin refugees, the derelict spaceship of their shape-shifting ancestors, and unsettling truths concerning their own nature. At its sales peak, the magazine-sized pamphlets were selling 100,000 copies at an intersection of fandom rarely seen in comic book stores: women, queer folk, people of color.

The American Library Association describes Elfquest as “one of the most important works in American fantasy”. Georgy Khoury and Alex Ross, in Comic Book Fever, call it one of the “first long-form sagas of the art form,” unique for its “confident and inspired storytelling.” Artist and historian Trina Robbins told me that Wendy’s strong women characters were responsible for getting countless young girls into comics. Elfquest was one of the books targeted as obscene material in the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s first case. Buzzfeed ranked it as the most life-changing graphic novel of all time.

(4) TODAY’S VISION. Rick Liebling recalibrates the historic look of sf in a post for Medium: “The Aesthetics of Science Fiction. What does SciFi Look Like After Cyberpunk?” (First in a two-part series.)

But now, some three decades-plus since we first “saw” Cyberpunk, what do we have now? Is there a unifying visual idea that we associate with modern (2000 and beyond) science fiction? I’ve noticed over the last decade or so that there are some recurring themes. Perhaps not exclusive to science fiction – in the same way that the Cyberpunk aesthetic wasn’t exclusive to science fiction (see: Black Rain) – but that I’ve seen recurring in genre work.

I call it Hard Concrete.

Like Cyberpunk and Atomic Age &Space Age design before it, Hard Concrete is linked to the realities of the times. If Cyberpunk was the visual embodiment of the corporation as mysterious behemoth, Hard Concrete parallels a world where corporations and governments have been exposed as brutal, uncaring and stripped of their shiny, mirror-glass facades. They may be no less controlling, violent or malevolent, they just no longer bother to hide it.

(5) ORDER ME ANOTHER SCREWDRIVER. The Thirteenth Doctor has a collectible out already: “Jodie Whittaker Reveals the New Sonic Screwdriver Fan Collectible at San Diego Comic-Con”.

Today in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con, Jodie Whittaker revealed the new Sonic Screwdriver Fan Collectible, a replica of the one her character will use in the new series of Doctor Who, now available to pre-order.

Designer Arwel Wyn Jones talked through the new sonic; “It’s a privilege to have been asked to redesign the iconic Sonic Screwdriver for the Thirteenth Doctor and a new generation of audiences.  I can’t wait for people to see how the Doctor acquires it!”

(6) ORIGINAL WONDER. Al Abbazia’s superb Rockwell-inspired Saturday Evening Post magazine cover featuring Wonder Woman can be seen on Facebook. The artist said:

It’s beyond gratifying that the granddaughter of William Marston, creator of Wonder Woman, found me and took a special liking of my art piece, saying it honored her family. My daughter, Emily Claire Abbazia (who came up with the concept) and myself thank you Christie Marston 🙂

And thank you to the wonderful Shiree Collier for her excellent modeling and Gal Gadot for that pretty face.

(7) ‘WARTS AND ALL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Those cunning Danes are at it again, dreaming up ways to take your money. LEGO has announced a new Hogwarts set (io9: “Lego’s New 6,020-Piece Hogwarts Castle Set Is Huge and Pricey”) priced at a “mere” $399.99. It’s built on their “microscale” standard, to use microfigs rather than the more familiar minifigs—presumably to keep the both the overall size and the price in check.

Quoting the io9 article:

…Lego is also bundling 27 microfigures with the set, including Dumbledore, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Draco, Snape, McGonagall, Remus, Umbridge, and even Lord Voldemort, as well as Aragog the spider, the Basilisk, a Hungarian Horntail dragon, and five dementors.

There are minifigs involved, thogugh. The founders of the four houses of Hogwarts (Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Salazar Slytherin, and Rowena Ravenclaw) are included in minifig form. Writing for io9, Andrew Liszewski seems taken by the quality of the set:

Despite the smaller overall footprint of the set, Lego has still managed to stuff an incredible amount of detail into Hogwarts, including the castle’s Great Hall, the library, potions class, the Room of Requirement, the giant chess set, and the Chamber of Secrets, among other places for the microfigures to re-enact scenes from the books and movies.

(8) KGB READINIGS. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Michael Swanwick and Jeffrey Ford on Wednesday, August 15, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar.

Michael Swanwick

Michael Swanwick has received the Nebula, Theodore Sturgeon, World Fantasy and Hugo Awards, and has the pleasant distinction of having been nominated for and lost more of these same awards than any other writer. He has written ten novels, over a hundred and fifty short stories, and countless works of flash fiction. His latest novel The Iron Dragon’s Mother, will be published by Tor Books in 2019

Jeffrey Ford

Jeffrey Ford is the author of the novels The PhysiognomyThe Girl in the GlassThe Portrait of Mrs. CharbuqueThe Shadow Year, and the four collections: The Empire of Ice CreamThe Drowned LifeCrackpot Palace, and A Natural History of Hell. His most recent novel is Ahab’s Return: Or The Last Voyage published by HarperCollins. He has been the recipient of the Nebula Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the Edgar Award. He lives in Ohio and teaches writing part time at Ohio Wesleyan University.

The KGB is at 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs) New York, NY. Website: www.kgbfantasticfiction.org.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) WORLDCON 76 BUSINESS MEETING AGENDA. More items have been added, so WSFS Secretary Linda Deneroff suggests you re-check the Business Meeting Agenda.

(11) ONE IS THE ONLIEST NUMBER. James Davis Nicoll asks “What’s With Sci-Fi’s Fixation on Single-Gendered Planets?” at Tor.com.

I recently reread three thematically similar books: Poul Anderson’s Virgin Planet, A. Bertram Chandler’s Spartan Planet, and Lois McMaster Bujold’s Ethan of Athos. All three imagine single-gender planets: worlds whose populations are either all men or all women. This particular selection of books to reread and review was mere chance, but it got me thinking…

There are actually quite a few speculative fiction books set on single-gender planets (in which gender is mainly imagined in terms of a binary model) 1. Most of them are what-if books. As one might expect, they come up with different extrapolations….

(12) REMEMBERING THE PAPERBACK REVOLUTION. Kim Huett of Doctor Strangemind, in “Doubling Down With Don Wollheim”, says “The Ace Double paperbacks have long been a favourite of science fiction collectors. So here are 15 amazing facts about the Ace Doubles, #6 will shock you to your very core (he claims tongue in cheek).”

…So how similar was the packaging? Well this is the cover of the very first Signet Double….

And this is the cover of the very first Ace Double….

Okay, so they don’t look that alike and the Ace artwork is decidedly pulpier in style. But then it would be, wouldn’t it? Don Wollheim wasn’t going to try and muscle in on Signet’s classier patch. No, Don Wollheim was going to do what he knew best and let’s not forget that Don’s editorial career had begun with Cosmic Stories and Stirring Science Stories, two of the pulpiest of the pulp magazines.

Covers not withstanding it’s pretty clear to me that the Ace books borrowed a lot of layout detail from Signet. If you have any doubt about that compare the spine of Signet’s Knock On Any Door with the spine of a 1958 Ace Double featuring Eric Frank Russell I just happen to have laying about.

Oh, Don Wollheim you clever scamp.

Now you might be thinking that this is all very well but really, what did the Ace Doubles do other than borrow some layout details from Signet? The core feature, the two different novels in one volume, well that’s clearly unique to Ace, isn’t it? Now if you’ve been thinking anything like that then you are so very wrong. Consider the examples pictured below and their publication dates; Two Complete Detective Books (Winter 1939), Two Daring Love Novels (January 1948); and Two Complete Science-Adventure Books (Winter 1950). Three magazine titles that predated Ace Doubles by years (and the first two even left Kurt Enoch and his Signet Doubles in their dust).

(13) THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD. At Tor.com, James Davis Nicoll complains that “Classic Sci-Fi Star Systems Keep Getting Ruined by Science”. Well, complains is probably overstating things….

There are a lot of SF novels, particularly ones of a certain vintage, that feature that particular set of stars. If one is of that vintage (as I am), Alpha Centauri, Epsilon Indi, Epsilon Eridani, Procyon, and Tau Ceti are old friends, familiar faces about whom one might comment favourably when it turns out, for example, that they are orbited by a pair of brown dwarfs or feature an unusually well-stocked Oort cloud. “What splendid asteroid belts Epsilon Eridani has,” one might observe loudly, in the confident tone of a person who never has any trouble finding a seat by themselves on the bus.

In fiction, Procyon is home to L. Sprague de Camp’s Osiris, Larry Niven’s We Made It, and Gordon R. Dickson’s Mara and Kultis, to name just a few planets. Regrettably, Procyon A should never ever have been tagged as “possesses potentially habitable worlds.” Two reasons: solar orbits and Procyon B’s DA classification.

(14) THE LATE MR. ELLISON. Mark Evanier tells “A Harlan Ellison Story” at News From Me.

Now with Harlan’s passing, the Internet is filled with remembrances and honors and cyber-mourning and tributes, and in lot of them you’ll see some version of the phrase, “He inspired me to become a writer.” Harlan did a lot of that. He inspired people in other ways, as well. He occasionally inspired someone to hate Harlan Ellison but we won’t go into that here. Here, I’m celebrating him for inspiring so many people in a good way. Like I said, he was a writer who made other writers proud to be writers.

So many of us learned good, valuable things from him but a few writers I can think of learned to yell and scream about every rewrite, every note, every alteration. I can’t guarantee the following but supposedly, someone once asked Ray Bradbury if it was a wise idea for a writer to fight about each bit of interference the way Harlan did. Bradbury reportedly replied — and this sure sounds like an answer he’d give — “I don’t know if that’s okay but if you try it, check first and make sure you have the talents of a Harlan Ellison.”

…But he was late with so much of what he wrote, and I suspect…well, I know there are writers who think, “If Harlan Ellison can be weeks/months/years late, so can I.” To quote Ray Bradbury again, assuming he even said it, “I don’t know if that’s okay but if you try it, check first and make sure you have the talents of a Harlan Ellison.”

One might argue that he was not late with the Batman story he promised in 1971 to write for Julie Schwartz since he never had a firm deadline. But it finally saw print in the October, 1986 issue of Detective Comics, fifteen years later…and eight years after Julie had stepped down as the editor of Detective Comics. Deadline or no deadline, that’s late…

And all that is just an introduction to the story Evanier promised in the title….

(15) MORE TO BE READ. Publishers Weekly lists books of interest to adult-age readers of children’s literature in the ambiguously-titled post “2018 Adult Books on Children’s Lit”:

From an analysis of the psychological impact of fairy tales to an illustrated biography of a well-known illustrator and a book about the landscape that inspired Anne of Green Gables, there’s plenty to inform and inspire adult readers of children’s books.

What are we talking about? Here are three of the titles on the list:

Astrid Lindgren: War Diaries 1939–1945

By Astrid Lindgren, translated from the Swedish by Sarah Death (Feb. 27, Yale, $20 paper, ISBN 978-0-300-23456-5).

Originally released in hardcover in 2016, the wartime diaries of the author of Pippi Longstocking are now in paperback.

Daemon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling

By Philip Pullman (Sept. 18, Knopf, $30 ISBN 978-0-525-52117-4).

The author of the His Dark Materials series shares the secrets behind how he writes his influential novels.

Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters

By Anne Boyd Rioux (Aug. 28, Norton, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-393-25473-0).

In time for the 150th anniversary of the story of four American sisters, Rioux, a professor of gender studies, explores the impact the novel has had through its depiction of female growth.

(16) CALL GOES OUT. Manifold Press is relaunching and Managing Editor Farah Mendlesohn wants to spread the word.

As from today, we are delighted to announce that after a period of reorganisation, Manifold Press will relaunch on the 1st January 2019.

Please note: we are revamping our web pages so none of the menu links work. That will change bit by bit over August.  We’ll announce on the blog and on twitter and fb etc as we create new pages.

At our AGM in July we bade a fond farewell to Julie Bozza who is heading back to Australia; Fiona stood down as Managing Editor after 9 years with the press.

The new Board consists of Farah Mendlesohn (Managing Editor), Sandra Lindsey, Fiona Pickles and Aleksandr Voinov. We are actively recruiting others.

We have opened a new call for submissions.

(17) DO YOU GROWL WHEN YOU’RE PLEASED? The BBC story “The complicated truth about a cat’s purr” notes that cat research lags behind the study of dogs because dogs are more willing subjects….

Part of the mystery around the purr is that we often only notice cats purring “when we tickle them in places that they like to be tickled”, says Debevere. Yet they also purr when we’re not around, and the extent of that purring varies between individuals. “All cats are different, some never purr and some will purr constantly,” she says. She draws the comparison between her cat Luigi – a stray who followed someone in to their office and was subsequently taken to a shelter – and Archie, who “moved in from next door” and became part of the family. Luigi purrs little, and Archie a lot.

“I’ve photographed more than 3,000 cats so far [at shelters] and no two are the same,” Debevere says. “I’ve witnessed a lot of cats purring when they’re dying, and when they’re being put to sleep. The vet will say something like ‘They were purring right up until the end’, and people assume they’re happy when they’re purring. That’s just not always the case.”

(18) UH-OH. Sarah Kaplan and Joel Achenbach in the Washington Post report that the James Webb Space Telescope, which has already cost $7,6 billion, will have its launch delayed until 2021 because of screws that fell off of the sun shield during a test, leaving critics to argue that the telescope could be “too big to fail and too complicated to work.” “NASA’s next great space telescope is stuck on Earth after screwy errors”.

The Webb’s problems have rattled many powerful constituencies. NASA is embarrassed and dismayed by the human errors that have snarled its biggest robotic science project, which was identified by the astronomy community back in 2000 as its top priority.

(19) NOT THE SAME SHAPE. Judge dismisses The Shape of Water copyright suit – the BBC has the story.

The plot of Oscar-winning fantasy film The Shape of Water was not copied from a 1969 play, a US judge has ruled.

Judge Percy Anderson has dismissed a legal action that claimed Guillermo del Toro’s film copied the story of Let Me Hear You Whisper by Paul Zindel.

The late playwright’s son sued del Toro, the Fox Searchlight studio and others in February, claiming the two works were “in many ways identical”.

In his ruling, however, the judge said they only shared “a basic premise”.

(20) THE STARS THEIR DESTINATION. Something people of the future will be running into: “Japanese firm to launch wedding plaques into space”.

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, the Warpspace start-up in the city of Tsukuba is working with Kibo, Japan’s orbital science module, to launch wedding plaques from the International Space Station.

The company, which is largely staffed by faculty members from the University of Tsubuka, says that it will engrave couples’ names, messages, and other information on titanium plaques, measuring some 16 millimetres by eight millimetres.

The plaques will then be loaded onto miniature cubic satellites, which can hold several hundred plaques, and be released into orbit. They will join the tens of thousands of satellites, man-made objects and space junk already orbiting the Earth.

(21) BATMAN’S AMBITION. On the Conan O’Brien show, “Batman Wants To Join The Marvel Universe.”

Batman is sick of the perpetually rainy and depressing DC Universe; he’d rather have a seat at the Avengers’ table.

 

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

SDCC Code of Conduct Still Deficient

Comic-Con International starts in San Diego on Thursday. Associated Press reporter Lindsay Bahr’s preview article, “1st Comic-Con of the MeToo era grapples with harassment”, picked up by papers like the Miami Herald, outlines the con’s historic harassment issues and turnover in this year’s guest list, but also speaks uncritically about the SDCC Code of Conduct. The SDCC CoC has not had a good reputation in the past — see for example the 2014 post “San Diego Comic-Con Pushes Back on Harassment Policy Petition” — and I reached out for comments on its current deficiencies for this File 770 post.

The AP article says —

…The convention has always been a home for comic book and genre enthusiasts, and a refuge for like-minded fans to mingle, but it’s also been a place rife with harassment of women and others, whether it’s cosplayers (people who dress up in costumes), general attendees or even those hawking merchandise (sometimes called “booth babes”).

“I don’t think any convention has historically been a safe or inviting space for women,” says Cher Martinetti, the managing editor of SYFY Wire’s Fangrrls site.

Sexual harassment at fan conventions is a subject that is often raised, but the scrutiny will be even more intense this year with the heightened awareness about misconduct.

Just weeks ago, Nerdist founder Chris Hardwick, a mainstay at Comic-Con and moderator of numerous panels, stepped aside from moderating AMC and BBC America panels amid allegations from an ex-girlfriend , which Hardwick has denied. And since last fall a handful of familiar Comic-Con faces, have been accused of misconduct as well, like Ain’t It Cool News founder Harry Knowles and “Honest Trailers” creator Andy Signore.

Comic-Con has a code of conduct that representatives say was, “Intentionally created to serve as a comprehensive measure that makes attendee safety a priority.

“We want all participants to feel if they are treated in a manner that makes them uncomfortable, that there is a system in place that will respond to misconduct and sexual harassment,” Comic-Con International told The Associated Press in a statement Sunday.

According to the code, attendees must “respect commonsense rules for public behavior” and “personal interaction” and that “harassing or offensive behavior will not be tolerated.” The code specifies that anyone who feels at risk should report it to a security person or a staff member and outlines the location of the show office in the San Diego Convention Center, which is open during show hours. Anyone who violates the code is at risk of losing their pass….

The Comic-Con International convention Code of Conduct reads:

Attendees must respect commonsense rules for public behavior, personal interaction, common courtesy, and respect for private property. Harassing or offensive behavior will not be tolerated. Comic-Con reserves the right to revoke, without refund, the membership and badge of any attendee not in compliance with this policy. Persons finding themselves in a situation where they feel their safety is at risk or who become aware of an attendee not in compliance with this policy should immediately locate the nearest member of security, or staff member, so that the matter can be handled in an expeditious manner.

The Comic-Con Show Office is located in the lobby of Hall E of the San Diego Convention Center. During show hours you can always find a Comic-Con staff member or security guard at the Show Office. Please stop by there if you have any questions or concerns.

Four people who answered my call made these observations about the Code of Conduct.

A.G. Carpenter

The flaws with the Comic-con’s approach seem obvious, but here are my immediate (and general) thoughts about it.

I went and read through the actual policies page and, in addition to the Code of Conduct being woefully short and vague, there are no policies that address what “commonsense rules” for public behavior, interaction, etc actually looks like. Nothing to address videotaping or taking photos of people in public or private spaces. (They have two different policies regarding not recording panels/panelists or any images or video footage being presented because proprietary and exclusive, blahblahblah.) Nothing about asking permission to hug strangers or touch them or put your arm around someone for a photograph. Nothing about what harassing or offensive behavior means.

I mean, sure – you can’t write out *everything* that would be problematic. And things that are an issue for some folks won’t be for others. But by giving no examples it leaves the door wide open for abuse. (“I didn’t know they’d mind if I snapped this photo of her bending over.” “All my friends let me hug them, it’s no big deal.”) And it means that folks who are having problems will be even more reluctant to report them because they won’t know if the staffer they approach for assistance will take them seriously because there are no written guidelines about what the convention considers inappropriate. Of course, not writing anything down also lets the con off the hook if something with a higher profile guest happens because they could claim that there was no violation of written policy. Which does make the obvious omission of anything looking like an actual Code of Conduct seem suspicious.

Nchanter

Taking a quick look over the Code of Conduct on the convention website, the glaring omission here to me, other than the Code of Conduct being a little vague (no attempt at defining “common sense rules”), is any sort of information about what to expect when one makes a report, or what will happen after a report is made.  Lack of evidence that there is a post report process concerns me, as does the fact that there is no number to call in case going to the show office would not be a safe option.

Karl-Johan Norén

I’m far from a code of conduct expert, and even less so in working on enforcing them (I’m one of the last fen I know who I know should be put into that spot). But having read some code of conducts, discussed them sometimes, and seen a few incidents play out, I can give the following comments.

The code of conduct has some things in its favour: it is brief, it contains no parts that obviously contradict its purpose, and it gives the right to rescind memberships. If this was a small con, with maybe a couple hundred attendees, with no prior history of harassment, and known good people in the concom, this would be a workable CoC. And it does not contain the dread “your right not to be harassed is not a right not to be offended” clause.

Its deficiencies are in the things that are not said, because none of those three factors above are likely true for SDCC.

(1) No dedicated chains for reporting harassment. Handling harassment cases beyond any initial intervention is psychologically tricky at the best of times. The only con security people I’d trust to have a clue here are the Finnish ones. A con the size of SDCC should list a phone number, e-mail account, and at least physical point of contact dedicated to CoC issues. These points of contact should be heavily promoted (I’d not be averse to putting at least the phone number on the badge itself). Given SDCC’s size, the phone should probably be staffed 24/7 during the con, not only during show hours.

(2) There are no promises from the con regarding how CoC issues will be handled. Granted, the CoC itself is not the place where one should detail instructions to staff, but it should at least: (a) give a promise of confidentiality and discretion from the con towards the person reporting the issue, (b) outline the assistance and help the con can or will provide.

(3) The highest sanction the con reserves is to rescind a membership. Arguably, it should mention contacting the authorities as well, even if it is only like “we will assist any person wishing to contact the authorities, and assist the authorities in any following investigation”. I know US police are far worse than the Swedish police (which also have a poor historical track record), but the con might find itself dealing with cases of reported rape or sexual assault.

(4) No specific guidelines regarding cosplay or photography, nor any examples (clearly not limited to the list itself) of what the con sees as harassing behaviour.

John Scalzi says the CoC is why he keeps passing on chances to attend the convention:

The SDCC’s code never offers examples of what it considers harassing or inappropriate behavior (see the code of conduct at New York Comic Con as an example of a good version of explaining what it is) — it’s all a judgement call by whomever is taking the complaint, and it allows harassers more wiggle room than they should have. That’s not acceptable to me, and it’s one reason I haven’t been back to SDCC in several years.

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 7/12/18 Pixels’ Red Glare, The Scrolls Bursting In Air

(1) SFPA HANDLES CODE OF CONDUCT ISSUE. The Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) notified members via Facebook that member Bruce Boston has been suspended for a Code of Conduct violation. SFPA President Bryan Thao Worra wrote:

Following a 7-day review and conferral with the SFPA Executive Committee, SFPA member Bruce Boston has been suspended for six months from commenting on the Facebook Group and Yahoo Groups listserv for violation of the SFPA Code of Conduct, regarding egregious remarks beginning on July 4th, 2018, and a failure to retract those remarks in a timely manner. He remains a member of the SFPA and retains all honors and titles. This suspension remains in effect until December 31st, 2018.

In light of this incident, we wish to share the Code of Conduct, which the Executive Committee created and implemented in July 2017. It was shared on the fora, to which it applies, but was not transmitted to every member and new members may be unaware.

Please click on the blue button below to read the document about our expectations of conduct on our forums, Facebook and Yahoo Groups. The rules as well as the consequences for not following them are detailed therein.

To read the SFPA Code of Conduct, click here. [Dropbox file]

SFPA Grand Master Bruce Boston, in comments on a SFPA Facebook group post about the Rhysling winners, publicly insinuated that 2018 short poem Rhysling winner, Mary Soon Lee, must have been the beneficiary of vote stuffing because in his view her poem was unworthy of the honor. As of this writing, Boston’s and others’ comments are still accessible by nonmembers of the group. Here is a screenshot from near the beginning of the exchange.

(2) W76 BUSINESS MEETING SCHEDULE. On his blog, Kevin Standlee previewed his Worldcon article – “Business Meeting & Site Selection Schedules at Worldcon 76”.

For those of you trying to arrange your schedule for Worldcon 76 around the WSFS Business Meeting and Site Selection (as I am rather forced to do by the nature of running the WSFS division), here’s the current state of our plans. For those of you who are veterans of the process, this may all sound boring, repetitive, and obvious, but based on the questions I’ve fielded, there are members — including people interested in WSFS Business — who do not know this stuff.

Linda Deneroff also has posted the start of the agenda for Worldcon 76. You can find it on the Business Meeting page. Click on the “Agenda” link.

(3) ROBOT HOTEL. Grant Imahara (perhaps best know for his former gig on Mythbusters) visits a robot hotel in this Popular Science article (“Mouser Electronics: Generation Robot”). No, not a hotel for robots, but one staffed by robots. It sounds like Henn Na Hotel is trying to avoid — at least in part — the Uncanny Valley. Quoting the article:

Imagine checking into a hotel and handing your luggage to a bellhop, but not seeing another human besides other guests. That’s the reality at Henn Na Hotel in Japan’s Nagasaki Prefecture, where robots have taken over. Robot enthusiast Grant Imaharavisits the hotel to see how the hospitality business can succeed without humans.

During his stay, Grant is surprised by the non-humanoid robot he meets at the check-in desk. Maybe he should have known—Henn Na Hotel loosely translates to “strange hotel” in Japanese. Naomi Tomita, the hotel’s Chief Technology Officer, says that using non-humanoid robots can make the interactions less awkward. The hotel encourages guests to chat with the robots while they work. A robot checks Grant’s coat, and a robotic trolley takes his luggage to his hotel room.

 

(4) MORE FROM BODLEIAN. Nicholas Whyte tweeted an image from the Bodleian’s Tolkien exhibition.

(5) MOVIE POSTER AUCTION. Heritage Auctions told subscribers that sf movie posters will be featured in its forthcoming Movie Posters Auction July 28-29 in Dallas. A Star Trek poster by illustrator Bob Peak is expected to compete for top-lot honors.


Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home by Bob Peak (Paramount, 1987) (est. $40,000-80,000) is the largest and arguably the most detailed of all Star Trek posters designed by Peak. A renowned commercial artist whose greatest acclaim comes from his developments in the design of modern movie posters, Peak’s artwork has appeared on the cover of numerous magazines, including Time, TV Guide and Sports Illustrated . The brilliant color used for the evening sky of San Francisco offers stark contrast to the Klingon Bird of Prey flying just over the Golden Gate Bridge. The 40-by-57-1/2-inch poster is done on illustration board mounted on foamcore, is signed by Peak and comes with a gold frame.

“Bob Peak was a popular and important movie poster artist who produced a number of posters for various Star Trek films, and this is as dramatic as any of them,” Heritage Auctions Vintage Posters Director Grey Smith said. “His subtle portraits of several of the film’s primary characters offer an extraordinary balance to the bold images of the sunset and the Bird of Prey. This poster is a large and striking image that would be a significant addition to any collection.”

Science fiction fans also will be drawn to The War of the Worlds (Paramount, 1953). Half Sheet (22″ X 28″) Style B (est. $20,000-40,000), a rare Style B half sheet that is one of the most iconic and elusive images in the genre. Featuring Martian warship imagery not included in many other posters for the original release of George Pal’s powerful adaptation of H.G. Wells’ science fiction novel.

…Widely considered to be among the greatest film posters of all time, a Things to Come (United Artists, 1936) one sheet (est. $15,000-30,000) was inspired by another science fiction film based on another H.G. Wells-inspired screenplay. The film is based on his 1933 novel The Shape of Things to Come and his 1931 non-fiction The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind. Among the always-rare posters for this early sci-fi epic, this one stands out in part because of the 1930s deco-designed version of the future.

(6) RECORD SETTING. Seattle’s Sub Pop Records is taking preorders on Bandcamp for The Rick And Morty Soundtrack, a 26-track collection of music from the animated series on Cartoon Network. Two vinyl LP packages (“Deluxe” and “Loser”) and a digital version are available.

This release is the first official collection of music from Rick and Morty. All formats feature 26 songs, 24 of which are from the first 3 seasons of the show, and 18 of which were composed by Ryan Elder specifically for the show. The album also includes songs by Mazzy Star, Chaos Chaos, Blonde Redhead, and Belly, all of which have been featured in the show, as well as two new tunes from Chad VanGaalen and Clipping inspired by the show. The box set includes a special bonus track on a 7”.

(7) JOHNSON OBIT. Somebody has to think these things up, you know — “Alan Johnson, 81, ‘Springtime for Hitler’ Choreographer, Dies”. Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times:

Alan Johnson, a choreographer renowned for his campy movie collaborations with Mel Brooks on the “Springtime for Hitler” goose-steppers-and-showgirls extravaganza in “The Producers” and the “Puttin’ On the Ritz” tap dance in “Young Frankenstein,” died on Saturday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 81.

Mr. Johnson had danced in the original Broadway production of “West Side Story” and begun his career as a choreographer when he started working with Mr. Brooks, whom he had already met through a friend, the lyricist Martin Charnin. Mr. Brooks, best known at the time for his work with Carl Reiner on the “2000 Year Old Man” records, was developing “The Producers,” about a producer who schemes with his accountant to create a certain Broadway flop and steal the money invested in it by unsuspecting old women.

…In his role as producer, Mr. Brooks gave Mr. Johnson the chance to direct two films. The first, “To Be or Not to Be” (1983), was a remake of Ernst Lubitsch’s 1942 comedy with Mr. Brooks and Ms. Bancroft in the roles played in the original by Jack Benny and Carole Lombard. Three years later Mr. Johnson directed “Solarbabies” (1986), a science-fiction story about roller-skating orphans fighting for a solution to a worldwide water shortage. It was widely panned.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • That’s some potion in Bizarro.
  • Frazz asks how a reader can like wildly disparate writers.
  • Bliss contains a space navigation tip.

(10) MOVIE AD ADAPTATIONS. These cat pictures may not display properly here, however, they are certainly worth clicking through to see.

(11) ANCIENT MONUMENT. Science journal Nature covers the “Mystery of buried children at German ‘Stonehenge’”.

Scientists scrutinize monumental complex of ditches and posts built more than 4,000 years ago.

As prehistoric Britons gathered at Stonehenge, people living in what is now Germany were erecting their own grand monument: a complex of nested circular ditches, pits and rows of posts, interspersed with the remains of women and children, who might have been human sacrifices…

(12) GRIST FOR THE MILL. Sean T. Collins argues “The only good online fandom left is Dune” at The Outline.

Beyond that, Dune is not a corporate cash cow, and being a fan doesn’t carry with it that icky feeling you’re doing an unpaid PR internship for Disney or AT&T Time Warner. You’re not being cultivated when you make a Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohaim Appreciation Thread, the way you are when you do something similar for, like, Harley Quinn or Groot. Nor are you helping billionaires whitewash their crimes if you point out politically positive aspects of the series, like its environmentalism or its bone-deep skepticism of leader cults. People who quite reasonably respond favorably to long-overdue representation of non-white-dudes in movies like The Last Jedi and Black Panther have to grapple with stuff like Marvel teaming up with defense contractors Northrop Grumman, or its CEO Ike Perlmutter being a noted Trump supporter.

(13) WHERE ROCKS WERE BANGED TOGETHER. BBC summarizes an item from Nature: “Earliest evidence of humans outside Africa”.

Scientists say they’ve found the earliest known evidence of a human presence outside Africa.

Stone tools discovered in China suggest primitive humans – or a close relative – were in the region as early as 2.12 million years ago.

They are about 270,000 years older than the previous earliest evidence, which consists of bones and tools from Dmanisi in Georgia.

The research, by a Chinese-British team, appears in the journal Nature.

The stone artefacts were discovered at Shangchen on a plateau in northern China.

(14) HOO-RAY. A Gizmodo writer is overwhelmed: “The World’s First Full-Color, 3D X-rays Are Freaking Me Out”.

A New Zealand company called Mars Bioimaging has developed a new type of medical imaging scanner that works in a similar fashion, but borrows technology developed for the Large Hadron Collider at CERN to produce far more detailed results. The Medipix3 chip works similar to the sensor in your digital camera, but it detects and counts the particles hitting each pixel when a shutter opens….

It will be years before the new Spectral CT scanner receives all the clearances and approvals it needs so that it can be used in hospitals and clinics. But it’s well past the research stages at this point, and clinical trials are expected to get underway in New Zealand in the coming months.

So (posits Daniel Dern), it’s no longer too dark inside a dog to read?

(15) ACTION FIGURE REVIVAL. SYFY Wire makes note of several new lines of action figures coming soon from a company known for them in the 70’s and 80’s (“Mego toys is staging a comeback with new line of action figures from DC, Star Trek, and more”). The figures will be exclusive to Target and are being debuted at San Diego Comic-Con. They’ll appear in stores a little later this year.

Quoting the SYFY Wire article:

One of the earliest pioneers in the world of action figures is prepping a nostalgic resurrection, promoting a new line of toys at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con […]

Mego Corp., the company that innovated some of the earliest cross-merchandising action figure toys for cartoon, comics, and pop culture fans throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, is launching a new line of figures based on characters from DC, Star Trek, Firefly, Charmed, The Wizard of Oz, and more […]

Quoting the Target website:

Ready for a blast from the past? Toymaker Mego and industry legend Marty Abrams, co-founder and CEO of Mego Corporation, are recreating the company’s famous action figure line, and Target will be the exclusive retailer. The new line of collectibles hits stores and Target.com July 29, but fans will get a first look next week during a panel at San Diego Comic-Con—one of the largest gatherings of comic, movie and science fiction fans in the world….

Target’s exclusive line of Mego collectibles will be available in stores and online July 29 at prices ranging from $14.99 to $29.99. Check out our full assortment of collectibles at Target stores nationwide and Target.com.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mark Hepworth, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 6/23/18 And Now It’s Scrolling All Over the Land; I Still Can’t Seem to Understand

(1) COC ENFORCEMENT AT ORIGINS. Organizers of the Origins Game Fair have issued a statement telling how they will handle reported violations of their Code of Conduct at the 2018 convention, which ended June 17.

Tabletop Gaming overviewed the accusations: “Multiple reports of sexual harassment emerge from this year’s Origins Game Fair”.

Reports first surfaced during the weekend of the show, with one designer and senior member of a games publisher alleged to have asked multiple women to “play test his erect penis”.

In a separate incident, another woman was reportedly followed for multiple blocks back to her hotel.

Tabletop gaming personality Bebo used Twitter to raise awareness of the distressing events on behalf of the anonymous victims, adding: “Anyone who says harassment of women isn’t an issue in the industry can eat dirt.”

Both situations were reported to GAMA, the organiser of Origins, which is said to be taking appropriate action in response, although the company is yet to issue a public statement regarding the events.

Polygon’s story covers responses from the accused, and by Origins’ administering body, GAMA: “Accusations of sexual harassment rock the board gaming community”.

Origins Game Fair, which ran June 13-17 this year, is a tabletop gaming convention sponsored by the Game Manufacturer’s Association (GAMA). Its partner this year was Wizards of The Coast, known for Dungeons & Dragons and the Magic: The Gathering franchises. Other sponsors included a who’s who list of major publishers, including Rio Grande Games, Iello, Wizkids, Paizo and CMON.

Origins is an opportunity for fans to see the latest games, and for those in the industry to see each other and do some networking ahead of Gen Con, the nation’s largest tabletop gaming convention, which is held in Indianapolis each August. Many in the industry choose to mingle outside of the event, and that’s where at least one attendee says an exhibitor sexually harassed them. The allegations surfaced on a personal Facebook page and on Twitter, but were also sent to GAMA. The individual accused has denied the allegations….

GAMA’s official statement says in part:

An incident arose through social media at Origins this year pointing out some specific allegations of harassment. This illicit behavior is a clear violation of our show policies.

To ensure that a thorough review of any allegation is conducted, we must have statements from individuals with firsthand knowledge of the event. Unfortunately, that did not happen in this instance so gathering the information is taking more time. We understand that it can be difficult to come forward and share a statement after an incident occurs, but with the cooperation from individuals involved we can address these situations in a timely fashion.

As we demonstrated earlier this year, we take harassment very seriously and are committed to providing a safe, welcoming and fun environment for everyone at the show.

This serious allegation has not been taken lightly. We are committed to handling this in a thorough and professional manner. We are interviewing all parties involved and gathering statements from witnesses who viewed the incident firsthand. We owe all parties involved a fair process to gather the facts and discern as much as possible those confirmed elements before we act. The ramifications of an unjustified response are simply irreplaceably damaging….

The complete statement is at the Polygon link.

The accusations also prompted Katie Aidley, with several years of experience working for gaming companies and in booths at conventions, to release her post “The truth about sexual harrassment and boardgaming”.

(2) SPEAKING TO THE NEXT GENERATION. A passage from Liu Cixin’s The Micro-Age was utilized in the reading comprehension section of China’s national college entrance exam: “Excerpt of popular Chinese sci-fi writer Liu Cixin’s novel selected in gaokao”.

An excerpt of famous Chinese science fiction writer Liu Cixin’s novel was selected as reading comprehension material in the test paper for the Chinese gaokao exam, China’s National College Entrance Exam that took place on Thursday, which not only surprised many participants but also the writer. Liu later responded saying that science fiction meets the demand of people in this day and age.

After the exam in southwest China’s Sichuan Province ended, participants expressed their surprise at finding an excerpt of Liu’s novel “The Micro-Age” since this type of literature was rare in such a rigorous exam.

…Speaking about this year’s gaokao essay topics, Liu expressed that one of the topics was related to science fiction as it required students to write a letter to the generation of 2035 to elaborate on the big events that have occurred since the year 2000 in China.

He said that unlike previous essay topics which tended to focus on current affairs or the past, this year’s topics were more likely to focus on the future.

(3) DETECTIVE WORK. Carl Slaughter asks, “How can I resist a headline like this?” It absolutely belongs in the Scroll: “This insane golden chamber contains water so pure it can dissolve metal, and is helping scientists detect dying stars.” Business Insider has the story.

Hidden 1,000 metres under Mount Ikeno in Japan is a place that looks like a supervillain’s dream.

Super-Kamiokande (or “Super-K” as it’s sometimes referred to) is a neutrino detector. Neutrinos are sub-atomic particles which travel through space and pass through solid matter as though it were air.

Studying these particles is helping scientists detect dying stars and learn more about the universe. Business Insider spoke to three scientists about how the giant gold chamber works — and the dangers of conducting experiments inside it.

(4) HOW’S HE DOING? Eric Flint gave Facebook reader a health update.

I thought I’d bring everyone up to date on my medical condition, since I haven’t said anything about it for quite a while. That’s because it’s been… complicated.

On the positive side, there’s no indication that the lymphoma has come back. So, yay for homicide therapy, AKA chemotherapy.

On the down side, I started developing atrial fibrillation a year and a half ago, right around the same time the cancer was diagnosed. Whether there’s a causal relationship there or it’s just coincidence, nobody really knows….

Flint continues with full details.

(5) BABYLON FIFTH. In “‘Babylon 5’ is great, so why does it look so bad?”, Engadget’s Daniel Cooper describes in great technical detail the show’s digital origins and resulting challenges when aired using current technology.

Now that the series has made its way to Amazon Prime, it is ripe for a whole new generation of fans to discover it. Except that, if they do, they may find that the picture quality is highly variable, and some sequences are quite hard to watch. Now, it’s fair to say that the show is so good that it’s worth persisting with nevertheless. But how it ended up in this state is a tale of folks trying to plan for its future, only to be defeated by executive neglect…

How bad does it look?

We should probably begin by outlining how effects-heavy shows like Babylon 5 are made, albeit simplistically. There are three different types of shot that were put together to make an episode. You have live-action scenes, which are just actors talking in a room; composites, which have a mix of live-action and CGI; and pure-CGI scenes. In order to protect your suspension of disbelief, it’s important that you aren’t noticing the transitions between them.

A great sequence to explain Babylon 5’s problem is the monorail scene from the Season 2 finale, The Fall of Night, which originally aired on November 1st, 1995. We begin with an entirely live-action shot, where Captain Sheridan (Bruce Boxleitner) boards a monorail shuttle. And you can tell, because it’s framed properly and looks pretty good, even if the film is a little grainy because it hasn’t been restored or remastered….

(6) MURDERBOT’S ASPIRATIONS. Adri Joy delivers a fascinating character analysis in “A Robot Learns to Love Itself: Reflecting on the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells” at Nerds of a Feather.

There’s a moment near the start of Rogue Protocol, the third in Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries series (forthcoming August 7, 2018 from Tor.com Publishing), that quietly broke my heart. The self-proclaimed Murderbot, a rogue SecUnit (a human-robot hybrid “construct”) which hacked its own governor module after an unfortunate murder-based incident that was subsequently wiped from its memory, is trying to distract itself from the endless, stupid problems of humans by watching a new show. Unfortunately, the plot isn’t working out, and Murderbot is eager to get within range of a station so it can download something different. If only, it tells us, this terraforming horror series had a rogue SecUnit character who could stop the squishy humans from all getting horribly killed…

On the surface, this doesn’t seem like a big deal. Murderbot watches rather a lot of shows – indeed, extensive media consumption is its most prominent character quirk – and it also does a lot of complaining, so the combination of the two is not exactly unusual. However, this is the first time it has articulated a desire to see itself represented positively in media.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Chip Hitchcock spotted a Library Comic about All Systems Red. Chip adds, “The author’s former strip used to recommend something (often genre) at least once a week, and most of them were good; nice to see him back at it.”

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 23, 1976 Logan’s Run debuted.
  • June 23, 1989 — Tim Burton’s Batman is released in theaters.
  • June 23, 1989 Honey, I Shrunk the Kids premiered.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born June 23 – Joss Whedon, 54. Known for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, FireflyDr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Dollhouse, Avengers and Agents Of S.H.I..E.L.D. which is not a complete listing by any means.
  • Born June 23 – Selma Blair, 46. Scream 2 appears to be her first genre role, also Xena: Warrior Princess, Hellboy and Hellboy 2,  both of the Hellboy animated films, The Fog and most recently Lost in Space.
  • Born June 23 – Melissa Rauch, 38. Bernadette Rostenkowski in The Big Bang Theory, Harley Quinn in the animated Batman and Harley Quinn film, Summer in True Blood, and Wasp / Hope Pym  in the Ant Man animated shorts.

(10) FAITH OF THE FUTURE. Syfy Wire’s story “In modern science fiction, religion plays a vital, secular role” by Tricia Ennis examines how religion is treated on a handful of TV sf series — Battlestar Galactica—the reboot of the mid/late 2000’s; not the original, The 100, and Killjoys.

It’s easy to think that science fiction and religion are anathemas to each other. Science fiction is, after all, about imagining a scientifically advanced future where we have moved to the point of near magic, explaining through science things that modern understanding can only dream up. Religion, meanwhile, is about not explaining those things at all, instead choosing to rely on faith and parable and scripture to explain the mysteries of the universe and to comfort the minds of those who follow its teachings. Obviously, those two don’t really go together.

Perhaps science and faith don’t necessarily mesh—but if you’ve been keeping an eye on certain recent science fiction television series, you’ll notice a pattern. Sci-fi might still have trouble bridging the spiritual and the secular, but it certainly recognizes the importance of scripture to understanding our past — and protecting our future.

(11) REENACTORS. Nancy Kress introduced a highly amusing photo taken at Taos Toolbox:

George R. R. Martin and the Red Workshop. If a wedding, why not a writing seminar?

Walter Jon Williams identified the bodies:

Among the casualties were David DeGraff, Jo Miles, Brenda Kalt, Sarah Paige Hofrichter, Kevin O’Neill, Sherri Woosley, Gayle Schultz, Nancy Kress, Walter Jon Williams, Autumn Kalquist, Joey Yu, Liz Colter, Peri Fletcher, Amanda Helms, Carsten Schmitt, Gabrielle Harbowy, Harrison Lee, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Isabel Yap, and Elliotte Rusty Harold.

(12) MUSEUM VISITOR. Rick Riordan said the minerals on display reminded him of this —

(13) A HUGO VOTER IS HEARD FROM. Joe Sherry shares another section of his ballot in “Reading the Hugos: Novelette” at Nerds of A Feather. Ranked somewhere in the middle is this nominee —

A Series of Steaks: Since I’ve already written about the Short Story category, this is Vina Jie-Min Prasad’s second story on the Hugo ballot and it is a real standout. Besides everything, what I really enjoy about “A Series of Steaks” is the framing of forgery and what makes a good forger. Ultimately, that’s what “A Series of Steaks” is about. Helena semi-legally fabricates meat for restaurants that is otherwise undetectable for not being the real thing (ultimately, a forgery). She is offered a contract that she can’t refuse because it comes with a threat to expose her.

The rest of the story is a tense game of Helena (and her new assistant) trying to fulfill the order and somehow protect herself. Prasad’s writing is clear and pulled me right in. It’s a damn fine story and I’m going to be looking for much more from Vina Jie-Min Prasad.

(14) ON THE ROAD. John Scalzi has thrown the Theory of Evolution into doubt. Could this man’s primordial ancestors possibly have lived in trees without room service?

(15) TOON TOWN. Ethan Alter, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story, ”’Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ turns 30: How the toon-powered classic revolutionized Hollywood” interviews screenwriters Peter S. Seaman and Jeffrey price about the 30th anniversary of this film, first released on June 22, 1988.

According to the screenwriters, Zemeckis always had a grand vision for the Ink and Paint Club as a place where multiple cartoon characters — each of whom had its own bit of funny business — would fill the frame. A cursory glance around the nightclub reveals penguin waiters, an octopus bartender, and a vintage black-and-white cartoon heroine slinging drinks. “Bob wanted one of those almost Scorsese-like reveals, where you track in and all the stuff is happening,” Seaman remembers. “We did write gags for like the bartenders — he’s got eight arms, and he’s making these different cocktails. We’d write gags for the penguins, and everybody in there.”

(16) LUCKY PAIR. JSTOR Daily delves into “The Fairytale Language of the Brothers Grimm”.

There once were two brothers from Hanau whose family had fallen on hard times. Their father had died, leaving a wife and six children utterly penniless. Their poverty was so great that the family was reduced to eating but once a day.

So it was determined that the brothers must go out into the world to seek their fortune. They soon found their way to the university in Marburg to study law, but there they could not find luck from any quarter. Though they had been the sons of a state magistrate, it was the sons of the nobility that received state aid and stipends. The poor brothers met countless humiliations and obstacles scraping by an education, far from home.

Around this time, after Jacob had to abandon his studies to support his family, the entire German kingdom of Westphalia became part of the French Empire under Napoleon Bonaparte’s conquering rule. Finding refuge in the library, the brothers spent many hours studying and searching for stories, poems, and songs that told tales of the people they had left behind. Against the rumblings of war and political upheaval, somehow the nostalgia of stories from an earlier time, of people’s lives and language, in the little villages and towns, in the fields and forest, seemed more important than ever.

This then is the strange rags-to-riches tale of two mild-mannered librarians, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (affectionately known as the Brothers Grimm), who went hunting for fairytales and accidentally ended up changing the course of historical linguistics and kickstarting a whole new field of scholarship in folklore.

(17) LEND HER AN EAR. BBC invites you to “Meet Game of Thrones’ woman of weapons”.

It’s probably not a good idea to get into an argument with Natalia Lee.

The only female armourer working on Game of Thrones, she looks after all the show’s weapons, from flaming arrows to giant catapults.

She also played the fearsome Chella in season one, because they needed “a warrior who chops ears off” and then strings them around her neck.

But while she loves working with the actors, she gets worked up if anyone questions the fact that a woman is wielding swords and slingshots.

“I’m constantly told, ‘Women don’t want to see that, women don’t want to do that.’ It’s so frustrating,” says Australian-born Natalia, 35.

“We’re capable of handling weapons, I’ve proved I can carry all of them.

“My job’s a learned, technical skillset, so your gender has no bearing.”

(18) PANIC OR PATHOLOGY? Answering a pixel from 6/18: “WHO gaming disorder listing a ‘moral panic’, say experts”.

But biological psychology lecturer Dr Peter Etchells said the move risked “pathologising” a behaviour that was harmless for most people.

The WHO said it had reviewed available evidence before including it.

It added that the views reflected a “consensus of experts from different disciplines and geographical regions” and defined addiction as a pattern of persistent gaming behaviour so severe it “takes precedence over other life interests”.

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge Carl Slaughter, Brian Z., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus, who took inspiration from yesterday’s lyric reference.]