Pixel Scroll 2/17/19 May The Pixels Be Always In Your Favor

(1) GRRM BOUND FOR BELFAST. TitanCon EuroCon 2019 has announced their first Guest of Honour, George R. R. Martin.

Science fiction, fantasy and horror writer George R.R. Martin began his SFF career in comics, writing letters to the Stan Lee-written Fantastic Four and Avengers in the mid-1960s, and published his first novel in 1977. A multiple winner of the Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Awards, Martin was already critically acclaimed for his novels Fevre Dream, Dying of the Light and Tuf Voyaging, and his work on the Wild Cards superhero anthology series, when released his game-changing fantasy novel A Game of Thrones in 1996….

George was instrumental in TitanCon’s creation, as you can read about in our TitanCon History page, and appeared at our first pre-con Moot. So it is only fitting that he returns to Belfast to see our take on EuroCon!

TitanCon has announced two other participants as well —

We are also proud to present our, for the first time ever, Toastmutant!

Pat Cadigan and Peadar Ó Guilín have agreed to achieve some sort of symbiosis and appear as our Toastmutant – as if there was ever any doubt that we wanted, nay needed, them both? We hope it wont be too messy! We know they are going to be wonderful hosts, and Pat will turn the party out, whilst minding Peadar and helping him curb his cannibalistic tendencies.

(2) OOPS! ChiZine Publications suffered a little bit of a disaster this weekend at Boskone:

Brett and Sandra are at Boskone 56 right now. Our entire stock of books was mistakenly put out on the freebie table.

If you grabbed a book from or see someone with a CZP, CHITEEN, or CHIGRAPHIC book, please tell them to return them to us at our dealer’s table, location A5. Or you can just come and pay for it! We are reasonably priced!

They later posted some good news:

We are quite overcome. Thank you to all the fans, readers and everyone at Boskone 56… A bunch of our missing books (that were mistakenly put out on the freebie table) were returned! We have recovered almost a full third. So our dealer’s table no longer looks so sparse. Come by and see our wares!

(3) CINEMA AUDIO SOCIETY AWARDS. Given February 16, the 2019 Cinema Audio Society Award winners were light on sff. The only genre winner was:

MOTION PICTURE – ANIMATED
Isle of Dogs
Original Dialogue Mixer: Darrin Moore
Re-recording Mixer: Christopher Scarabosio
Re-recording Mixer: Wayne Lemmer
Scoring Mixer: Xavier Forcioli
Scoring Mixer: Simon Rhodes
Foley Mixer: Peter Persaud, CAS

(4) BLACK PANTHER. Kenneth Turan, the LA Times’ revered film critic, presents his case: “Oscars: Why ‘Black Panther’ deserves to win best picture”.

…Nowhere is it written, though voters sometimes act as if it is, that the Oscars are an elitist award for which mass-appeal movies need not apply. In a sane world, intelligently satisfying an enormous audience should be one of the things the Oscars are all about.

The key word there is “intelligently,” and if you’ve watched more than your share of superhero movies, you know that quality is often in short supply in a genre dominated by business-as-usual boilerplate.

Coogler (who cowrote with Joe Robert Cole) ensured that “Black Panther” would be an exception, in part by retaining his core creative team of collaborators, including composer Ludwig Goransson and production designer Hannah Beachler (both Oscar-nominated) as well as editor Michael P. Shawver and cinematographer Rachel Morrison.

Adding costume designer Ruth E. Carter (also nominated, for the third time in a distinguished career) was icing on the cake….

(5) COMPETING MARVELS. Adam Lance Garcia, in “The Twisted Story of How We Wound Up With Two Captain Marvel Movies (And Why One is Named SHAZAM!)” on Yahoo! Entertainment, discusses the backstory of how C.C. Beck and Bill Parker created Captain Marvel for Fawcett Comics in 1940, how National Comics sued Fawcett claiming that Captain Marvel was a copy of Superman, how Fawcett killed Captain Marvel as a result of the lawsuit, and how Marvel resurrected the name for a different character in the late 1960s, forcing DC to rename the character Shazam! when they revived it in 1972.

First we need to rewind to 1938, when Superman created the superhero genre overnight, and comic book publishers, eager to get into the burgeoning superhero market, began creating countless flash-in-the-pan heroes in an attempt to recapture the magic of Superman.

Heroes such as Major Victory, Stardust the Super Wizard and Air-Male and Stampy — yes, these are all real — would only last a few issues before being tossed into the dustbin of comics history.

But in 1939, writer Bill Parker and artist C.C. Beck created a hero that, for a time, would become the most popular superhero in the world.

His name? Captain Marvel….

(6) TRAILER SPOOF. Not only does this Captain have a split personality, she can’t remember one of them…

In this animated parody of the Captain Marvel movie trailer, the titular Capitano gets her mission to eliminate Skrulls confused with her personal hatred of senior citizens, Talos reveals what a true megastar he is and Nick Fury refuses to throw the first cat-punch. Let’s war party!

(7) IDEAS. Andrew Liptak, in the February 17 edition of Wordplay, tells what he’s looking for at conventions:

…Cons can sometimes be frustrating (your milage will vary from con to con), but I’ve been finding these sorts of events excellent for networking within the SF/F field, but not so much for getting anything productive out of them when it comes to the panels and programming. My standing advice for authors — if you’re looking for inspiration / advice / information that will be useful to you as a writer — is to hit up industry conventions and conferences instead. My trip to the West Point Modern War Institute’s conference last fall generated more useful ideas and talking points than I’ve gotten at places like Boskone or ReaderCon. I did get one solid idea for a story out of one panel, and I’m going to try and write that up this week… 

(8) EXTENDED DOOM. Here’s a long-version trailer for DC’s Doom Patrol, which DCUniverse began airing on February 15.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 17, 1912 Andre Norton. She penned well over a dozen series, but her major series was Witch World which began rather appropriately with Witch World in 1963. The first six novels in that series were Ace Books paperback originals published in the Sixties. (Died 2005.)
  • Born February 17, 1930 Ruth Rendell. whose full name of Ruth Barbara Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE (née Grasemann) is quite wonderful. I know her only as an English author of very superb thrillers and somewhat disturbing murder mysteries but ISFDB lists her as doing horror as well to my surprise in the form as three novels, to wit The Killing DollThe Tree of Hands and The Bridesmaid, plus a not inconsiderable amount of short fiction that is fantasy no doubt. She was also the editor of A Warning to the Curious: The Ghost Stories of M.R. James. (Died 2015.)
  • Born February 17, 1939 Kathy Keeton. Founder and publisher of Omni. It was founded by her and her partner and future husband Bob Guccione, the publisher of Penthouse. It would publish a number of stories that have become genre classics, such as Card’s “Unaccompanied Sonata”, Gibson’s “Burning Chrome” “and “Johnny Mnemonic” and George R. R. Martin’s “Sandkings” to name a few of the stories that appeared there. (Died 1997.)
  • Born February 17, 1947 Bruce Gillespie, 72. He’s one of the major Australian SF fans and is best known for his long-running fanzine SF Commentary. Over the years, he’s published The Metaphysical ReviewSteam Engine Time and is currently putting out Treasure. He was fan guest of honour at Aussiecon 3, the 57th Worldcon held in Melbourne in 1999.
  • Born February 17, 1954 Don Coscarelli, 65. A film director, producer, and screenwriter best known for horror films. His credits include the Phantasm series, The Beastmaster, and Bubba Ho-Tep, the latter based a novella by Joe R. Lansdale whom I’ve met and who is a really nice person.
  • Born February 17 1974, — Jerry O’Connell, 45. Quinn Mallory on Sliders, a series whose behind the broadcast politics is too tangled to detail here. His first SF role was on Mission to Mars as Phil Ohlmyer with the SF dark comedy Space Space Station 76 with him as Steve being his next role. He’s done a lot of of DCU voice work, Captain Marvel in Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam, Clark Kent / Superman in Justice League vs. Teen Titans and Justice League: Throne of AtlantisJustice League Dark, The Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen where he also plays Cyborg Superman. The latter film is kickass excellent. 
  • Born February 17, 1979 Dominic Purcell, 40. Best known as Mick Rory / Heat Wave in The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow, as well as Dracula from Blade: Trinity. He was lead as Tim Manfrey in Primeval where I’m assuming the giant croc ate him. Was that a spoiler? Oh well. Blood Creek, previously known as Creek and Town Creek — marketing woes? — has him as Victor Alan Marshall mixing with the occult and Nazis. Lastly I’ve got him on Beastmaster as Kelb in a recurring role.

(10) I’M SORRY, I’LL READ THAT AGAIN. “Maine farm’s bid to save ‘Game of Thrones’ goats imperiled by crackdown on semen” was a headline in the Bangor Daily News this week. The story involves efforts to sustain an endangered breed of goats. One of them was eaten by a dragon on Game of Thrones, but that was a CGI dragon and not really why they’re endangered….

Much of the semen comes from goats in Johanna Thorvaldsdottir’s flock on her farm, Haafell, in Borgarnes, Iceland. Thorvaldsdottir owns the world’s largest flock of Icelandic goats, with 208 in total. Her goats were the lucky flock featured in the 2014 “Game of Thrones” episode.

(11) HAVE AN APPLE, DEARIE? Paste Magazine delights readers with news that “Colleen Doran Adapts Neil Gaiman’s Snow, Glass, Apples for Dark Horse Comics”.

Today, we bring Gaiman fans even more glad tidings: “Snow, Glass, Apples”, Gaiman’s chilling retelling of the Snow White fairy tale, will join Dark Horse’s growing stable of Gaiman adaptations courtesy of The Sandman contributor Colleen Doran, who previously adapted and illustrated Gaiman’s Troll Bridge.

In typically topsy-turvy Gaiman fashion, Snow, Glass, Apples portrays a not-so-evil queen desperately trying to stop her wicked step-daughter’s “happily” ever after that was never supposed to be. Stopping ever after, however, is no small task…

(12) PLUS CA CHANGE. Despite tons of changes going on, Forbes contributor Mark Hughes thinks the DC Extended Universe is going great (“Why The Future Of DCEU Movies Looks Brighter Than Ever”). The article is long enough to strain the attention span of even those who haven’t been Twitterized, but maintains an almost uniformly positive view throughout. Some of the additions and changes below to the DC movie universe are recent and some date back a few months, but the stuff addressed in Hughes’ article includes:

  • An Aquaman spinoff, The Trench, has been announced
  • The Aquaman sequel has signed a screenwriter
  • Wonder Woman 1984 was delayed from the original mooted date, leaving only Shazam! and Joker on the 2019 slate for the DCEU
  • The Flash is still in preproduction with no start date announced
  • James Gunn—after being booted from working on the Marvel Cinematic Universe—has been hired in the DCEU
  • The next Suicide Squad movie will be a “soft reboot” rather than a sequel and will drop Harley Quinn
  • There seems to be no future for the Jared Leto version of Joker (from Suicide Squad) so don’t expect Leto to share the screen with Margot Robbie (at least in the DCEU)
  • Superman probably will not take to the screen for the next few years; a Supergirl movie is up next in that corner of the DCEU—circa 2021
  • After losing one writer-director-actor (Ben Affleck), The Batman movie has a writer-director (Matt Reeves) on board, but the script is still being polished
  • Rumors are ongoing about New Gods and Green Lantern Corps projects, but nothing is firm on either (especially the latter)
  • Tons of other potential projects are mentioned, but they’re even more speculative

(13) MUSIC OF THE SPHERES. [Item by Mike Kennedy.]NPR: “Ph.D. Student Breaks Down Electron Physics Into A Swinging Musical” (The title is slightly misleading in that it’s about formation of Cooper pairs, superconductivity, and even delves a little into quantum computing).

It took [PhD candidate] Senarath Yapa six weeks to choreograph and write the songs for “Superconductivity: The Musical!” — a three-act swing dance depicting the social lives of electrons. The video is based on his master’s thesis, which he completed while pursuing his degree at the University of Victoria in Canada.

[…] “Superconductivity relies on lone electrons pairing up when cooled below a certain temperature,” Senarath Yapa told Science. “Once I began to think of electrons as unsociable people who suddenly become joyful once paired up, imagining them as dancers was a no-brainer!”

(14) BOOK FUNNIES. This kind of listicle can be tedious; or it can illuminate basic truths. Well, OK, not basic, but a lot of truths (“21 A+ Jokes About Books That Will Make You Snort-Laugh”). Many in Buzzfeed’s collection of tweets about books relate to genre works; many others are simply relatable.

(15) PHONE HOME. ScienceAlert.com says “An Asteroid Will Block Our Brightest Star on Monday, And Astronomers Need Your Help”.

An occultation of Sirius (by an asteroid named Jürgenstock) will be observable in parts of South America, Central America, and the Caribbean Monday 18 February and some astronomers are asking for your help. (Note the this projected path of the occultation is a major shift from that reported at the time the ScienceAlert article was written. That earlier prediction crossed a large swath of North America.)

Full instructions for how to help can be found in a post in this post by Bill Merline and David Dunham.

(16) IS THIS COOL, OR WHAT? Put me down for “What?” This idea definitely fits my notion of “counter-intutive” — “Elon Musk Says SpaceX Is Developing a Complex ‘Bleeding’ Heavy-Metal Rocket Ship”.

The spaceship is designed to be refueled in low-Earth orbit in order to propel 100 passengers and more than 100 tons of cargo at a time to Mars.

But the success or failure of the launch system – and by extension Musk’s plan to back up the human race – may boil down to the viability of two major and recent design changes, which Musk has described as “radical” and “delightfully counterintuitive.”

One change involves building the spaceship from stainless-steel alloysinstead of carbon-fibre composites.

But the most surprising shift, according to aerospace-industry experts, is the way Starship will try to keep itself from burning up in the atmospheres of Mars and Earth.

Instead of relying on of thousands of heavy ceramic tiles to shield Starship from heat, as NASA did with its space shuttle, Musk says the spaceship will “bleed” rocket fuel through tiny pores to cool itself down.

In theory, putting liquid between Starship’s steel skin and the scorching-hot plasma generated while it plows through atmospheric gases would prevent the ship’s destruction

(17) HELP ME OBI-WAN SHOE-NOBI. Time to upgrade your kicks? Maybe this is what you’re looking for (DorkSideOfTheForce: “Inkkas Star Wars New Rebel Footwear Collection is now available”). They’re available in a wide range of unisex sizes, but apparently not in various widths. Most styles are slip ons, but there are also lace ups including some high tops.

These are the shoes you are looking for. The Inkkas new Star Wars Rebel Collection has arrived with characters such as Princess Leia, R2-D2, and Chewbacca.

Available for both men and women the new Star Wars Rebel Collection by Inkkas is here! Take your pick from boots, to high tops, and slip-on shoes representing both the Rebellion and The Empire….

Who run the world? Girls. Who run the universe? Also, girls. Obviously. The Future is FEMALE, y’all, and these tough and brilliant characters are all the reminder that we need to stand up and fight for what matters.

*bleep bloop bleep bloop* We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, R2-D2! That heroic droid always knows exactly what to say. In case you need some translation help: this shoe features a clean and striking representation of one of our favorite characters on a sleek, slim slip on shoe.

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

Pixel Scroll 3/17/18 Several Species Of Small Furry Filers Gathered Together In A Scroll And Grooving With A Pixel

(1) DISNEY EXTRACTS HAND FROM COOKIE JAR. Design Taxi reports “Disney Redesigns ‘Star Wars’ Posters After Getting Called Out For Plagiarism”.

Disney has unveiled a new set of posters for the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story after its previous artworks were called out by a French artist for plagiarism.

In this redesigned collection, Disney has amended the graphics whilst sticking to a similar color scheme.

Each character remains paired with a unique color. For instance, ‘Han’ is matched with an orange-red aesthetic, ‘Lando’ gets a blue hue, while ‘Q’ira’ receives a pink-purple scheme.

 

(2) SCRYING THE CRYSTAL CLARKE. Ian Mond takes his shot at predicting the Clarke Award shortlist in “Brief Thoughts on the Arthur C. Clarke Award 2018 Submissions List” at The Hysterical Hamster.

Mark Hepworth did the same in a comment here on File 770.

(3) MANO-A-MANO. Steven Barnes, while speculating about which characters will get killed off in the next Avengers movie, added an interesting cultural critique of the martial arts in Black Panther.

this is petty, and a trivial objection, but another missed opportunity was the battle between T’Challa and Killmonger during the ceremony. It relates to a complaint I had about Civil War (which I loved). This is from a life-long martial artist’s perspective, so I’m only partially serious. The problem is this: BP fought like everyone else in Civil War, and his technique looked very Asian. Korean in the kicks. Not what the Prince of Wakanda would use, because African arts are as lethal. But in BP, both T’Challa and Killmonger fought pretty much the same. I find it difficult to believe that Killmonger, never having been in Wakanda, would fight with techniques that look as if he had been trained by the same people who trained T’Challa. They could have had a fascinating clash of styles. But that is really nit-picking.

(4) PANTHER POLITICAL ANALYSIS. At Blog of the APA: In “Black Issues in Philosophy: A Conversation on The Black Panther”, Greg Doukas and Lewis Gordon discuss the politics and ethics of leading characters in the movie.

GREG DOUKAS: I am thoroughly perplexed by the reaction exhibited in some of my friends and colleagues, whose ideas I otherwise ordinarily agree with. The proposition they raise, and which I’ve been troubled by, is this: Over the duration of the film, our hero T’Challa [the Black Panther] makes a transformation from a nativist into a character representing a liberal politics of amelioration and liberalism more generally, while his nemesis Killmonger emerges as a distinctly Fanonian character in his own politics by presenting a radical critique of colonialism and racism. 

LEWIS GORDON: This is far from the case. First, Killmonger is not Fanonian. He is a tyrant. Fanon believed in radical democracy.  Wakanda is clearly a republic and possibly a constitutional monarchy in which each member of the society contributes as counsel and skilled citizen. It’s clearly a city-state or what in ancient Greek is called a polis, in which politeia (the thriving of citizens through activities cultivated by such a social space) is expected to occur. Killmonger is more like the case studies of colonial disorders in the later part of Fanon’s The Damned of the Earth. He is a tyrant because his relationship to everyone was asymmetrical, driven by resentment and hate, and his regard for life was nil. Think of how he killed his loyal girlfriend Linda and how he ultimately aimed to destroy or destabilize Wakanda—a functioning African state—with the now faddish Afropessimistic declaration of “burning it all down.”  His ego was such that he wanted to bar, through destruction of the special vibranium affected plant, the possibility of future Black Panthers emerging. Bear in mind also that T’Challa was not against fighting/violence. His point is that it should be used only when necessary, and he was doing so always on behalf of justice and a people in whose respect rested his legitimacy.  Killmonger didn’t care about respect from the people.  He also didn’t have respect for them. His “legitimacy” was like, say, Donald Trump’s: achieved purely from the strict adherence to the imperfect rules, though unlike Trump he actually defeated his opponent in fair combat. The people revolted against him not because he won the ritualistic battle but because his tyrannical rule defied the virtues the battle was to manifest. They fought against him in fidelity to the spirit of the rules.

(5) IMPRESSIVE. Rich Lynch actually came up with video of the Octavia Butler clue from Friday’s episode of game show Jeopardy! Click here: Jeopardy! Butler clue

(6) WHO AGAINST GUNS. Comics Beat updates readers: “Who Against Guns raises $16,000”.

We’ve been reporting on the fan-led effort known as Who Against Guns for several weeks now. Today, just over two weeks after the start of the campaign which launched February 26, organizers have announced that they’ve raised $16,000 for these gun violence prevention charities:  Community Justice Reform CoalitionMarch For Our Lives, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and Moms Demand Action.

(7) TOLKIEN’S DOG STORY. Middle-Earth Reflections takes up J.R.R. Tolkien’s Roverandom.

Originally Roverandom was conceived in 1925 when the Tolkiens — Ronald and Edith with their sons John, Michael and Christopher — went on a family holiday to Filey, Yorkshire. They rented a cottage with the view of the sea and the beach to spend a big part of September there. At that time the Tolkiens’ second boy Michael, who was about five years old, had a small, black-and-white toy dog. The boy  was extremely fond of it to the extent that he never parted with it. It was an unfortunate loss of that beloved toy during a walk on the beach one day and unavailing search for it that led Tolkien to make up a story about the dog’s adventures to explain its disappearance to the saddened boy.

In 1936, when The Hobbit was accepted for publication by Allen & Unwin, Tolkien was asked for more children’s stories, so he sent in Roverandom together with  Mr Bliss and Farmer Giles of Ham. However, Roverandom was not published then: in 1937 The Hobbit came out, proved a tremendous success and the publishers demanded more Hobbit stories from the author. It was only in 1998 that Rover’s tale finally saw the light of day.

Just like some other stories written by Tolkien, Roverandom began as something told to the amusement (or, in this case, consolation was the initial motive) of his own family. But as the story began to grow, it inevitably drew in more aspects of Tolkien’s background and interests. From a simple children’s story it established connections with Tolkien’s own Legendarium, Norse mythology, Arthurian legends, folklore, history and real events which took place at the time when the story was being created and written down.

(8) SPOILER WARNING. In Zhaoyun’s “Microreview [TV series]: The Frankenstein Chronicles” for Nerds of a Feather, the spoiler isn’t what you think.

It’s one of the longest-running gags in show business: cast Sean Bean in your TV series and there is an extremely high chance his character will perish by the end of season one. If in a movie, he’ll probably die heroically, indeed motivationally, spurring the surviving heroes on to greater successes; in TV series, his specter looms over the remainder of the show, meaning everything that happens from then on occurs in the shadow of his sacrifice (since he is usually innocent of any wrongdoing but is executed/killed anyway). So when I finally watched The Frankenstein Chronicles, I knew to expect a gruesome end for Bean’s “John Marlott” at the end of season one. I don’t even feel the need to issue a spoiler alert so far, because Sean Bean’s near-inevitable death early in projects is a truth universally acknowledged.

(9) TENTH ANNIVERSARY. Kasma editor Alex Korovessis offers 10 Years of SF as a free download:

10 Years of SF! is an anthology featuring some of the best stories I have had the privilege to publish over the past 10 years, since Kasma’s inception in 2009. It is available freely by clicking the appropriate button below.

(10) THE MORE THINGS CHANGE. A fan lamented:

In the few months I have been an active member of fandom, I have found knit into its fabric a conglomeration of ego, hate, progressiveness, overbearing acts, belligerence, perversities, totalitarianism, crack-pot ideas and every good and bad thing that goes to make up the outside world.

Today on Facebook? No, these are the words of Clarence “Sully” Roberds, an Illinois fan writing in November of 1939. Think about that the next time you read a complaint that fandom isn’t what it used to be.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian passes along Drabble’s stfnal St. Paddy’s joke.
  • And Bizarro’s tribute to the Sasquatch.

(12) 2019 HUGO RECOMMENDATIONS. Coffee break’s over – back to work!

Click to see Renay’s 2019 Hugo Sheet (at Google Docs).

(13) OFTEN IMITATED. Inverse celebrated the release of Forbidden Planet on March 15 in “62 Years Ago Today, the Template for All Sci-Fi Movies Was Born”.

Nearly every science fiction story you know and love today owes it all to one movie that came out in 1956, a film that set the standard for how sci-fi stories work for the modern audience. Franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek might have defined sci-fi for generations, but Fred McLeod Wilcox’s Forbidden Planet basically created sci-fi as we know it.

There’s even an opening scrawl with yellow text more than 20 years before the first Star Wars movie.

(14) BALLS. “Ikea Is Developing The Meatball Of The Future” – no, it’s not made from ground-up Billy bookcases.

Ikea is the largest furniture retailer in the world. But did you know that it’s also likely the largest meatball retailer in the world? Across its 340 stores worldwide, Ikea feeds people 2 million meatballs each day. Which is why Ikea’s high-concept Space10 lab is experimenting with a meatball of the future–one that uses zero actual meat. They call it the Neatball.

…The Space10 team is careful to clarify that none of these items are coming to market, but it’s interesting to see Ikea’s thought process on the future of food all the same. After all, Ikea has already given us a veggie version of its famous meatballs that people seem to like. And Space10 released meatball concepts not long ago that have since gone from art project to fully cooked concept here–because that’s what Space10 does: It prototypes the future for Ikea.

(15) AMAZON VS. CONSERVATIVES. Vox Day finds that Amazon’s alleged massacre of conservative authors’ book reviews is highly exaggerated [Internet Archive].

Of course, the mere fact that there is a closed alliance of authors with personal relationships who pay very close attention to reviews may explain at least a reasonable percentage of these deletions, given the terms of service. I checked out my reviews and it looks like ten or fewer reviews were deleted across all my various book listings. Not only that, but several of the reviews were one-star fake reviews, so two of my average ratings actually increased. This made me suspect that the deleted reviews were likely in open violation of Amazon’s terms of service, which Amanda Green’s investigation appears to have generally confirmed.

He also says in a comment:

Don’t get Clintonian. It’s not tricky at all. Are they family? Are they close friends? Did they work on your book?

If so, then don’t review their books.

That being said, I think Amazon would be well advised to limit reviews to Verified Purchases in addition to whatever conflict-of-interest limitations they see fitting.

Let’s face it, the world doesn’t need any more reviews on the lines of “I am so-and-so’s mother and I can’t believe he wrote a whole book! It’s really good!”

(16) COMICS RANT. The comics artist Colleen Doran went on an epic Twitter rant about “diversity hires.”

It implies things about race, it implies things about sex, it implies things about sexuality. And because I can’t read your mind, I don’t really know what “diversity hire” means to you. But I know what it means to me. So tread that ground with care.

Start the thread here —

(17) THE FORCE IS WITH THEM. Pacific Standard profiles “The Jedi Faithful”.

Disambiguating real-world practices from the traditions that the Star Wars franchise established is not so much a passing curiosity as one of the central reasons the group of Jedi has assembled here for the weekend. Belief in the Force here on Earth is ultimately simple enough, a matter of faith that requires no greater suspension of disbelief than praying to any other life-force or deity. However, the practical extension of that belief, as demonstrated in the Star Wars canon—namely, that one can use the Force to exert mental influence on the external world—poses a larger problem: The cosmos, absent green screens, doesn’t so easily succumb to the will.

And so, for those following the Gospel of Lucas, life can often seem a battle of approximations. Lightsabers here on Earth aren’t in fact shafts of light, but an alloy of plastic and LEDs. Jedi on Earth have downgraded telekinesis for noetic sciences and a belief that collective thought can influence external change. And, as their possession of DVD box sets, plastic lightsabers, and Star Wars kitsch indicates, they, unlike their fictional counterparts, haven’t quite subscribed to an ascetic’s denial of worldly attachments

(18) MAGIC SCHOOLS. L. Jagi Lamplighter says Superversive SF’s Fantastic Schools and Where to Find Them blog is “just a fun thing a couple of us are doing–covering magic schools and schooling in general. We are open to posts from anyone who writes about Magic Schools. It’s just a labor of love kind of thing. Nothing big. (Or anyone who has an opinion on either magic schools or schools in general.)”

She penned their most recent post: “Which Magic School Is For You: Roke”.

How many of you ever wished you could attend Roke? I bet many readers don’t even know what Roke is.

Once upon a time, in the long-ago dream time of the 1970s and 80s, there were three fantasy series everyone read: Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, C. S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles, and Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea Trilogy. Everyone who read fantasy had read all three, and they were considered equally great.

I remember the day, some years ago now, when I realized that while Narnia and Lord of the Rings had made the grade, Earthsea had been basically forgotten. Many modern fantasy fans had never heard of the books. They didn’t even know that LeGuin had invented one of their favorite concepts: the magic school.

But Ursula Leguin’s magic school in Wizard of Earth Sea was the first time a fantasy writer thought “Gee, we see so many wizards in stories. Who trains them? Where do they go to school?”

And what she gave us was Roke.

(19) MUPPETS. Gwynne Watkins, in the Yahoo Entertainment story “Miss Piggy’s ‘a mess inside’: Frank Oz and puppeteer pals reveal Muppet secrets”, interviews several associates of Jim Henson who are promoting Frank Oz’s HBO documentary Muppet Guys Talking.

If I were thinking about, from a viewer’s perspective, which Muppet changed the most over time, I would say Miss Piggy

Oz: Yeah, probably so. But Piggy is a different situation. I’ve said this before: Her beginnings were in the women’s liberation movement, just by accident. And I don’t consciously change things, but the characters don’t interact with the world — I interact with my world. And I don’t interact in such a way where I say, “Oh, I’ve got to put that in my character.” I think because of the zeitgeist, it just kind of happens without me knowing it. But Piggy’s a little different. Piggy is such a mess inside, that I think as the years go on, she gets more and more emotional baggage. And that’s mainly why she changes. She keeps being rejected by the frog. She keeps trying and cannot do the things that she wants to, like tell jokes or dance. So I think she has this emotional baggage that hurts her more and more and more, and as a result she covers more and more and more. That’s what I think. 

[Thanks to JJ, Mark Hepworth, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, rcade, Cat Eldridge, David Doering, Carl Slaughter, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ken Richards.]