Pixel Scroll 12/12/19 You Ain’t Nothin’ But A Time Lord

(1) MONSTER PRICE. Bernie Wrightson’s original wrap-around cover artwork for Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley sold at auction today for $1 million dollars. The catalog description at the link claims —

…It can also easily be said that the 1983 Marvel publication of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein is arguably the finest illustrated book of the second half of the 20th century. Originally written in 1818, the novel was later painstakingly illustrated over the course of nearly a decade by pen and ink master Bernie Wrightson. We are proud to offer here, what we consider the finest fantasy ink drawing of the 20th century, if not of all time….

(2) UNCERTAIN FUTURE. Editor Alex Shvartsman’s foreword in Future Science Fiction Digest issue 5 explains why it contains only about 20% of the wordage of previous issues – the launch funding from its Chinese partner has run out.

As Future SF enters its second year, we do so without a safety net.

Our first year’s run was sponsored by the Future Affairs Administration. Together we were able to publish a considerable amount of excellent international fiction, and we thank FAA for their help and support as the magazine launched and found its footing. While FAA is still considering their options regarding any future partnerships with us, at this moment they’re not affiliated with the magazine.

So, what does it mean for Future SF going forward? We aren’t going away, but we have to considerably scale back until we secure alternate funding, or follow the path of many other e-zines in our field and slowly build up a subscription and patron base.

I’m currently talking to the FAA, as well as to a couple of other companies, to see if we can work out another sponsorship or partnership. But even if that proves successful, it is a temporary solution. Only a substantial base of subscribers can ensure stable funding in the long term….

(3) IN TIMES THAT CAME. The Bookseller points to a realm of publishing where change is happening almost quicker than it can be predicted: “Voicing a revolution”.

“Voice tech” will be the next revolution. It’s hard to imagine in today’s text- and screen-based society, but voice recognition apps such as search, device control, shopping and social media will replace screens. It’s already here: only five years after inception, half of citizens in the developed world (47%) owns a smart speaker. How odd we were, the next generation will think, for our incessant tapping on little screens. Wearable tech such as Amazon’s Echo Loop (a small ring enabling you to whisper demands into your palm, and cup your ear for Alexa’s answer) gives a glimpse of the shape our future, with virtual assistants always at our disposal. No need to pull out your phone, even for a phone call. Audiobooks will be a beneficiary of the new generation of voice apps as spheres of our lives transition and we get used to the ease and convenience of voice, and brands have to offer aligned products. Audiobooks are part of the fabric of a healthier technology on the go, where screens play a small role. 

Every book published will be available as an audiobook. AI-driven Text-to-Speech apps for audiobook production will leap forward. The AI narrator could be a sampled actor, or a “designer voice” to match the book or brand….

(4) DOUBLE YOUR READING PLEASURE. Cora Buhlert suggests great holiday gifts for the sff readers of 1964 at Galactic Journey: “[December 11, 1964] December GalactoscopE”.

Personally, I think that books are the best gifts. And so I gave myself Margaret St. Clair’s latest, when I spotted it in the spinner rack at my local import bookstore, since I enjoyed last year’s Sign of the Labrys a lot. Even better, this book is an Ace Double, which means I get two new tales for the price of one. Or rather, I get six, because one half is a collection of five short stories.

First on her list —

Message from the Eocene by Margaret St. Clair (Ace Double M-105)….

 (5) FOR 10 YEARS WE’VE BEEN ON OUR OWN. At Nerds of a Feather, Adri Joy and Joe Sherry find nine books worthy of listing as the best of the past 10 years – plus six honorable mentions: “Adri and Joe Talk About Books: The Best of the Decade”. First up —

Range of Ghosts, by Elizabeth Bear (2012): Elizabeth Bear is something of a chameleon of a writer. Whether it is near future cyberpunk thrillers, urban fantasy, alternate historical vampire fiction, espionage, space opera, steampunk, a Criminal Minds meets the X-Files mashup, or epic fantasy – Bear can write it all.

Eschewing the trappings of the stereotypical European setting, Range of Ghosts is silk road epic fantasy – meaning that the novel has a more Mongolian flavor and has an entirely different cultural grounding than what is so often considered “traditional epic fantasy”. Bear pulls no punches in delivering a full realized and top notch epic with rich characterization and incredible worldbuilding. The magic and religion and battles of Range of Ghosts is handled with a deft touch and the best thing is that all of this is set up for something far larger. Range of Ghosts is Elizabeth Bear at the height of her considerable powers. (G’s Review) (Joe)

(6) THOSE OLD FAMILIAR HAUNTS. Emily Littlejohn, in “The Elements of the Haunted House: A Primer” on CrimeReads, says that haunted house mysteries work if they’re in the right place and have ghosts who are appealing but who didn’t die too young or too old.

…Of course, not all ghost stories feature a malevolent spirit intent on wreaking havoc on the living; there are some lovely novels that feature ghosts that are sad rather than mad, more unsettled than vengeful. Those books can be enjoyed in the bright light of day, perhaps with a nice sandwich and a glass of lemonade. But if you like your haunted houses a bit darker, a little less safe, read on for this writer’s perspective.

If I were to write a haunted house novel, I know where I would start: the setting. The canon practically demands a stately manor from the pages of a historical register or an architectural study, all turrets and gables and perhaps a few strange windows that seem a little too much like eyes. Long hallways, flickering light from an early electric bulb or a candle, rooms with furniture shrouded in sheets . . . and nooks, so many nooks, to hide in.

(7) ANCIENT ART. “44,000-Year-Old Indonesian Cave Painting Is Rewriting The History Of Art”NPR says they know because they analyzed the calcite “popcorn” on a pig. (Say that three times fast.)

Scientists say they have found the oldest known figurative painting, in a cave in Indonesia. And the stunning scene of a hunting party, painted some 44,000 years ago, is helping to rewrite the history of the origins of art.

Until recently, the long-held story was that humans started painting in caves in Europe. For example, art from the Chauvet Cave in France is dated as old as 37,000 years.

But several years ago, a group of scientists started dating cave paintings in Indonesia — and found that they are thousands of years older.

“They are at least 40,000 years old, which was a very, very surprising discovery,” says Adam Brumm, an archaeologist at Australia’s Griffith University. He and his colleagues used a technique called uranium-series analysis to determine the paintings’ age. The oldest figurative painting in those analyses was a striking image of a wild cow.

These works had been known for years by locals on the island of Sulawesi — but Brumm adds that “it was assumed they couldn’t be that old.”

Since that big reveal, Brumm’s team — which he led with archaeologists Maxime Aubert and Adhi Agus Oktaviana — has been searching for more art in these caves. In 2017, they found something breathtaking — the massive hunting scene, stretching across about 16 feet of a cave wall. And after testing it, they say it’s the oldest known figurative art attributed to early modern humans. They published their findings in the journal Nature.

The BBC adds details: “Sulawesi art: Animal painting found in cave is 44,000 years old”.

The Indonesian drawing is not the oldest in the world. Last year, scientists said they found “humanity’s oldest drawing” on a fragment of rock in South Africa, dated at 73,000 years old.

…It may not be the oldest drawing, but researchers say it could be the oldest story ever found.

“Previously, rock art found in European sites dated to around 14,000 to 21,000 years old were considered to be the world’s oldest clearly narrative artworks,” said the paper in Nature.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • December 12, 2014 Bill The Galactic Hero premiered. Directed by Cox and a lot of friends, it likewise had a cast that was rather large. Yes it’s based on Harrison’s novel. Cox got the rights just after Repo Man came out. Costing just over a hundred thousand to produce, it got generally positive reviews and currently is not available anywhere for viewing. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 12, 1893 Edward G. Robinson. His very last film was Soylent Green in which was he was Sol Roth. He shortly before that played Abraham Goldman in “The Messiah on Mott Street” on Night Gallery, and he shows up uncredited as himself in the “Batman’s Satisfaction” episode of Batman. (Died 1973.)
  • Born December 12, 1944 Ginjer Buchanan, 75. Longtime Editor-in-Chief at Ace Books and Roc Books where she worked for three decades until recently. She received a Hugo for Best Editor, Long Form at Loncon 3. She has a novel, White Silence, in the Highlander metaverse, and three short stories in anthologies edited by Mike Resnick. And she’s a Browncoat as she has an essay, “Who Killed Firefly?” in the Jane Espenson edited Finding Serenity: Anti-Heroes, Lost Shepherds and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon’s Firefly.
  • Born December 12, 1945 Karl Edward Wagner. As an editor, he created a three-volume set of Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian fiction restored to its original form as it was originally written by Howard.  He is possibly best-known for his creation of Kane, the Mystic Swordsman.  (Died 1994.)
  • Born December 12, 1946 Josepha Sherman. Writer and folklorist who was a Compton Crook Award winner for The Shining Falcon which was based on the Russian fairy tale “The Feather of Finist the Falcon”. She was a prolific writer both on her own and with other other writer such as Mecedes Lackey with whom she wrote A Cast of Corbies and two Buffyverse novels with Laura Anne Gilman. I knew her personally as a folklorist first and that she was without peer writing such works as Rachel the Clever: And Other Jewish Folktales and  Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts: The Subversive Folklore of Childhood that she wrote with T K F Weisskopf.  Neat lady who died far too soon. Let me leave you with an essay she wrote on Winter for Green Man twenty years ago. (Died 2012.)
  • Born December 12, 1949 Bill Nighy, 70. Yes he shows up as Dr. Black on Who in an Eleventh Doctor story, “ Vincent and the Doctor”. He’d make a fine Doctor, I’d say. He’s done a lot of other genre performances from the well-known Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and Slartibartfast in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, to the blink and he’s gone as he was as the ENT Doc in Curse of the Pink Panther.
  • Born December 12, 1961 Sarah Sutton, 58. She’s best known for her role as Nyssa who was a Companion to both the Fourth and Fifth Doctors.  She reprised the role of Nyssa in the 1993 Children in Need special Dimensions in Time, and of course in the Big Finish audio dramas. She’s in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
  • Born December 12, 1966 Hiromi Goto, 53. Winner of the Otherwise Award for The Kappa Child. She followed that with two more SFF novels, The Water of Possibility and Half World, though it’s been a decade since the latter came out. Systems Fail, the 2014 WisCon Guest of Honor publication, highlighted her work and that of .K. Jemisin. Hopeful Monsters, her collection of early genre short fiction, is the only such work available digitally from her.
  • Born December 12, 1970 Jennifer Connelly, 49. Her first genre outing wasn’t as Sarah Williams in Labyrinth, but rather in the decidedly more low-budget Italian horror film Phenomena.  She goes to be in The Rocketeer as Jenny Blake, and Dark City as Emma Murdoch / Anna, both great roles for her. I’m giving a pass to the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still which she was involved in and not saying anything about it. Alita: Battle Angel in which she’s Dr. Chiren scores decently with audiences. 
  • Born December 12, 1976 Tim Pratt, 43. I think his best work was his very first novel which was The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl but there’s no doubt that later work such as The Constantine Affliction, Bone Shop and The Stormglass Protocol are equally superb. That’s not to overlook his short fiction which if you’ve not tried it you should, and I’d recommend Little Gods as a good place to start. 
  • Born December 12, 1981 C.S. E. Cooney, 38. She won the Rhysling Award for “The Sea King’s Second Bride” and a World Fantasy Award for her Bone Swans collection. She has what appears to be a very short novel out, Desdemona and the Deep, published by Tor.com. The latter and her collection are available digitally on Apple Books, Kindle and Kobo. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) WATCHMEN. In the LA Times, Lorraine Ali and Robert Lloyd dissent from praise the show has generally received: “Commentary: More manipulative than meaningful, ‘Watchmen’ has a ‘Lost’ problem”.

LLOYD: Lorraine, you steal thoughts from my head. (Are you Dr. Manhattan?) Yes, “Lost” is what I thought of too, though the apparent randomness of a polar bear on a tropical island was much more interesting than when they got around to an explanation. There’s an effective trickery when it comes to coincidence — they’re always spooky on some level — and “Lost” got a lot of mileage from repeating the same essentially meaningless sequences of numbers all over the damn place. (Fans spent an enormous amount of time puzzling the show out, even as, fundamentally, there was no puzzle.) In “Watchmen” it’s clocks and eggs and such, and a narrative that leans heavily on dark secrets and (not always) amazing reveals for its dramatic effects: X is the Y of Z!

It works on some primal level, yet it still feels more manipulative than meaningful to me. “Watchmen” is a lot tighter than “Lost” was, though; the circular systems have been obviously worked through in advance, where “Lost” was a festival of retconning.

(12) SEEKING TOMORROW. Steven Cave says, “The Futurium needs a bolder vision to show that we, technology and nature are one,” in his Nature review, “Lost in the house of tomorrow: Berlin’s newest museum”.

Thirty years ago, the future became passé. When the Berlin Wall fell in late 1989 and the communist regimes that hid behind it collapsed, political scientist Francis Fukuyama called the event “the end of history”. But he also cast it as the finale of the future: the end of imagining how things might be different. The utopian visions driving both communism and fascism had been discredited and defeated. They were to be replaced by an eternal ‘now’ that, in Fukuyama’s words, saw “Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government”.

… Overall, the Futurium succeeds best as a showcase for the shiniest aspects of the present. In this way, it resembles other tech-engagement centres, such as Science Gallery Dublin and its six sister venues around the world, or Tokyo’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. But it claims to be something more: a place for co-imagining alternative futures. To succeed, it will need to be bolder. Even though the Berlin landscape is dotted with monuments to failed ideologies, such as the Stasi Museum, history did not end when the wall fell. To imagine new futures, this museum must free itself from the conceptual frameworks of the past.

(13) STARBEGOTTEN. The Parker Probe’s investigation of the Sun takes scientists “A step closer to the Sun’s secrets”.

Although the Sun is quite near to us compared with other stars, it has always kept intriguing and fundamental scientific secrets from us. For instance, we still don’t know how the solar corona — the Sun’s outermost atmosphere — maintains temperatures in excess of one million kelvin, whereas the visible surface has temperatures of just below 6,000?K 

(14) AN OLD SELFIE. “Stonehenge 1875 family photo may be earliest at monument” – see that and many more photos shot at the ancient monument.

An 1875 photograph of a family dressed in finery enjoying a day out at Stonehenge may be the earliest such snap taken at the monument.

English Heritage asked people to send in their pictures to mark 100 years of public ownership of the stones.

After sifting through more than 1,000 images historians said they believed the photograph of Isabel, Maud and Robert Routh was the oldest.

It will be part of a new exhibition of personal photos titled Your Stonehenge.

…The exhibition shows how photography has changed – illustrated by “the way that people pose” and how “their faces have got closer to the camera until they are taking a picture of themselves more than they are of Stonehenge”, said Ms Greaney.

(15) WAY DOWN YONDER. Lots of juicy detail in BBC’s report — “Denman Glacier: Deepest point on land found in Antarctica”.

The deepest point on continental Earth has been identified in East Antarctica, under Denman Glacier.

This ice-filled canyon reaches 3.5km (11,500ft) below sea level. Only the great ocean trenches go deeper.

The discovery is illustrated in a new map of the White Continent that reveals the shape of the bedrock under the ice sheet in unprecedented detail.

Its features will be critical to our understanding of how the polar south might change in the future.

It shows, for example, previously unrecognised ridges that will impede the retreat of melting glaciers in a warming world; and, alternatively, a number of smooth, sloping terrains that could accelerate withdrawals.

“This is undoubtedly the most accurate portrait yet of what lies beneath Antarctica’s ice sheet,” said Dr Mathieu Morlighem, who’s worked on the project for six years.

(16) STEAL ME. Plagiarism Today tells how artists are “Battling the Copyright-Infringing T-Shirt Bots”.

…The exploit was actually very simple. Many of these unethical shops use automated bots to scour Twitter and other social media looking for users saying they want a particular image on the t-shirt and then they simply grab the image and produce the t-shirt, site unseen.

The artists exploited this by basically poisoning the well. They created artwork that no reasonable person would want on a shirt sold on their store and convinced the bots to do exactly that.

(17) OPENING A GOOD VINTAGE. Joe Sherry does a fine retrospective of this Connie Willis book at Nerds of a Feather: “The Hugo Initiative: Doomsday Book (1993, Best Novel)”. It tied for the Hugo, but Joe, by not saying which of the two books was really the best, avoids the mistake Your Good Host once made that launched a thousand ships Jo Walton into orbit. Sherry’s conclusion is:

…The thing about Doomsday Book is that it works. It is a masterful piece of storytelling that perhaps shouldn’t work as well as it does almost three decades later. It’s good enough that I want to read Fire Watch and the other three Oxford Time Travel novels sooner rather than later(though perhaps not specifically for The Hugo Initiative). The novel is a softer form of science fiction that uses time travel in a way that makes sense. No paradoxes, there is risk, and maybe don’t visit a time and place with bubonic plague. And really, who doesn’t want to read a novel where the protagonist is surrounded by bubonic plague and renders as much aid as she can?

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Vacation on Vimeo, Andrey Kasay looks at vacations that went out of control.

(19) VIDEO OF SOME OTHER DAY. The Mandalorian CHiPs intro. Think of Ponch and Jon long ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/10/19 Mean Old Pixels, Taught Me To Weep And Scroll

(1) BUILDING WITH STEEL. Juliette Wade brings “Paul Krueger and Steel Crow Saga” to Dive into Worldbuilding. Read the synopsis watch the video, or do both!

We had a great time talking with guest author Paul Krueger about his novel, Steel Crow Saga. Paul describes it as a love letter to Pokémon, and also as what would happen if Pokémon and Full Metal Alchemist had an anti-colonialist baby. He said he went way out on a limb with the book, using a different world with situations in it that are not average, and that it meant he had to draw on a lot more personal things in order to make it real and relatable.

… Paul told us that what really brought the book together was when he realized he was interested in the idea of forgiveness. Can you do the unforgiveable? Can you then forgive yourself afterwards? Returning to these questions kept him going.

He also said he believes in the forensic principle that all things that come in contact with each other leave traces behind. He applies this to characters. Watch what happens when two pairs of characters come in close proximity to each other. What happens if they switch “dance partners” for a while?

… I asked Paul about something he’d said online about fan art. Paul told us that his first book, Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, didn’t have any fan art. When he whined about it, he was told he’d only vaguely described the characters. In Steel Crow Saga, therefore, he made sure that each character had colors and symbols, their own animal, and distinct physical traits. Paul said, “I went really overboard with visual cues.” The good news is, he’s gotten lots of fan art this time! Paul says being friends with artists has made him a better writer. He listed Victoria Schwab and Erin Morganstern as writers with great visuals.

(2) SOUND OF SKYWALKER. Disney has created an entire ”for your consideration” website to recommend six films for awards – all of which happen to be genre-related.

As part of it, they have publicly shared 23 tracks of John Williams’ score for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

(3) LOCKED AND LOADED. There’s a vein of alternate history stories that dates back even farther than I was aware. Library of America’s story of the week, “If Grant Had Been Drinking at Appomattox” by James Thurber, is part of it —

At the end of 1930 Scribner’s Magazine began publishing what would prove to be a short-lived series of “alternative history” pieces. The first installment, in the November issue, was “If Booth Had Missed Lincoln.” This was followed by a contribution from none other than Winston Churchill, who turned the concept on its head. It was bafflingly titled “If Lee Had Not Won the Battle of Gettysburg”—but, as we all know, Lee didn’t win the Battle of Gettysburg. Instead, Churchill’s essay purported to be written by a historian in a world in which Lee had won not only the battle but also the entire war. This fictional historian, in turn, speculates what might have happened if Lee had not won the battle. This type of dizzying zaniness brought out the parodist in Thurber, who published “If Grant Had Been Drinking at Appomattox” in The New Yorker in December. The next month Scribner’s published a third essay (“If Napoleon Had Escaped to America”) before bring the series to an end. All three pieces were soon forgotten, but Thurber’s parody became one of his most famous and beloved works.

The story can be read free at the link,

 (4) FATE OF FAN NEWS SITE TO BE DETERMINED. The editor of EUROPA SF (The Pan-European Speculative Fiction Portal) went on Facebook today intending to announce that it is “TIME TO SAY GOODBYE!”

Dear friends, after 7 years dedicated to the European Speculative Fiction, it’s time to say goodbye.

www.scifiportal.eu) will close on the 20th of December 2019.

If someone is interested to take over the portal and the domain’s name, kindly let us know. Thank you all of you !

Ukranian fan Borys Sydiuk immediately raised his hand – so perhaps the site will be kept online after all. Stay tuned.

(5) LAST CHANCE. Tim Szczesuil of the NESFA Press says they’re about to run out of two titles by popular sff writers:

This is an informative notice that we are getting low on The Halycon Fairy Book by T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon). At the rate it’s selling I expect to be out by the end of the month. If you’ve delayed getting a copy, this may be your last chance, since there are no plans to reprint.

On a similar note, we’re also getting low on Velveteen vs the Junior Super Patriots by Seanan McGuire. In this case, we do not have the rights to reprint, and Seanan is not disposed to grant anyone these rights. So, when they’re gone, that’s it.

You can order here.

(6) NO SPEAK WITHOUT NEWSPEAK. K.W. Colyard’s post “Karin Tidbeck’s Amatka and the Use of Language in Dystopian Science Fiction” for Tor.com shows the application of a linguistic claim to the field of science fiction.

Nineteen Eighty-Four is the most prominent example of this, by far, but the strict, legal regulation of language pops up in various science fiction novels and stories that follow Orwell’s. Inhabitants of Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s Green-sky have no means of expressing the negative emotions they feel, and are treated as social pariahs for being “unjoyful.” Ascians in Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun do not understand any sentence constructions that do not appear in their government-issued manuals on “Correct Thought.” Lois Lowry’s The Giver portrays a society whose emotional range has been stunted by its insistence on “precise speech.”

First published in Sweden in 2012, Karin Tidbeck’s Amatka offers up a new, much more material take on language restriction—a world in which every object, from a chair to a pot of face cream, must be verbally told what it is and visibly labeled as such….

(7) IT NEVER ENDS. Paste Magazine came up with another list — “The 25 Best TV Episodes of 2019” – but this one has a solid genre showing. In the order Paste ranked them, here they are from lowest to highest.

  • “Adriadne,” Russian Doll
  • “Hard Times,” Good Omens
  • “Episode 4,” Years and Years
  • “Séance & Sensibility” Legends of Tomorrow
  • “Twin Cities,” Counterpart
  • “Pandemonium,” The Good Place
  • “The Trial,” What We Do in the Shadows
  • “Time to Make … My Move,” The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
  • “Vichnaya Pamyat,” Chernobyl

20. “Hard Times,” Good Omens

Good Omens is a series that tackles more than its fair share of deep philosophical issues, telling a story about hope, love and faith in one another during the literal end of the world. But despite the somewhat pressing nature of the impending Apocalypse, Good Omens spends most of its third episode exploring the complicated pair at the heart of story: prissy angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) and snarky demon Crowley (David Tennant).

…Not bad for a sequence that, technically shouldn’t exist. None of these flashbacks appear in the Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett novel on which the show is based and were specially written for the Amazon series. God—or Gaiman himself in this case— does indeed work in mysterious ways. —Lacy Baugher

(8) SQUIRRELED AWAY? Jason Kottke figured out why he didn’t immediately burn through the entire catalog of works by writers he loves: “My Strategic Book Reserve – Banking Unread Books from Favorite Authors”.

… Part of it is that I’m a restless and then forgetful reader. Even after finishing an amazing book, I often want to switch gears to something different and then I fail to return to something else by the amazing book’s author. But mainly I do this on purpose. I like the feeling of looking forward to a sure thing, the comfort of a story I haven’t heard but I know will be good.

(9) BREAKFAST WILL NEVER BE THE SAME. Melinda Snodgrass posted a photo on Facebook of the Death Star toaster she got for her birthday in November. It’s supposed to brand little Tie fighters on the bread.

(10) THE WITCHER CHARACTER INTRODUCTIONS. You can’t outrun destiny just because you’re terrified of it. The Witcher arrives December 20.

  • Henry Cavill is Geralt of Rivia.
  • Freya Allan is Princess Cirilla.
  • Anya Chalotra is Yennefer of Vengerberg.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 10, 1815 Ada Lovelace. Lovelace was the only legitimate child of poet Lord Byron and his wife Lady Byron. She was an English mathematician and writer, principally known for her work on Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Genre usage includes Gibson and Sterling’s The Difference Engine, Stirling’s The Peshawar Lancers and Crowley’s Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land. (Died 1852.)
  • Born December 10, 1824 George MacDonald. His writings have been cited as a major literary influence by many notable authors Including Tolkien and Lewis, Gaiman and L’Engle, Beagle and Twain to name but a few. I’d single out. The Princess and The Goblin and Phantastes: A Faerie Romance for Men and Women as particularly fine reading. (Died 1905.)
  • Born December 10, 1918 Anne Gwynne. One of the first scream queens because of her numerous appearances in horror films such as The Strange Case of Doctor Rx, Weird Women (with Lou Chaney) and The House of Frankenstein (Chaney and Karloff).  And she also was one of the most popular pin-ups of World War II. She’s Chris Pine’s grandmother. (Died 2003.) Photo is from a set of twenty four trading cards. 
  • Born December 10, 1927 Anthony Coburn. Australian writer and producer who spent most of his career living and working in the U.K.  He was closely involved in the earliest days of Who to the extent that it’s believed it was his idea for the Doctor’s travelling companion, Susan, to be The Doctor’s granddaughter.  He wrote four scripts for the show, of which only An Unearthly Child was used. (Died 1977.)
  • Born December 10, 1928 John Colicos. You’ll recognize him as being the first Klingon ever seen on classic Trek, Commander Kor in “Errand of Mercy” episode. (He’d reprise that role as the 140-year-old Kor in three episodes of Deep Space Nine.) He’ll next show up as Count Baltar in the original Battlestar Galactica continuity throughout the series and film. He’ll even show up as the governor of Umakran in the Starlost episode “The Goddess Calabra”. (Died 2000.)
  • Born December 10, 1933 Mako. It’s sounds weird but I mostly remember him in Robocop 3 as Kanemitsu and in a role on the Lovejoy series that only lasted two episodes. He’s had one-offs on I-Spy, I Dream of Jeannie, Green Hornet, Time Tunnel, Fantasy Island and quite a bit more. Among his genre film appearances, I think I’ll just single out Conan the Destroyer in which he plays Akiro the Wizard. (Died 2006.)
  • Born December 10, 1946 Douglas Kenney. He co-founded National Lampoon in 1970 along with Henry Beard and Robert Hoffman. With Beard alone in 1969, he wrote Bored of the Rings. (Died 1980.)
  • Born December 10, 1960 Kenneth Branagh, 59. Oh, Branagh, I feel obligated to start with your worst film, Wild Wild West, which, well, had you no shame? Fortunately, there’s much better genre work from you as an actor including as Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. As a Director, I’m only seeing Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Thor — Anyone know of anything else genre related? Is Hercule Poirot genre adjacent?
  • Born December 10, 1984 Helen Oyeyemi, 35. I like it when a Birthday results in my adding to my audiobook listening list. She’s resident in Prague now and her take on European folktales that surround her there is particularly sharp in her latest, Mr. Fox, off of that well known tale. And White is for Witching has all the makings of a damn fine haunted house story.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frank and Ernest indirectly prove the benefits of being young – because with luck you may not be old enough to remember the commercial that sets up this pun.

(13) CONNIE WILLIS AT CHRISTMAS. [Item by Olav Rokne.] For a few years, I’ve been invited onto a podcast to speak about Christmas movies. This year, I took the opportunity to talk about how great Connie Willis is by suggesting the (*very bad*) Christmas movie Snow Wonder which was based on Willis’ (*very good*) novella Just Like The Ones We Used To Know. Even though the movie’s a relatively faithful adaptation, it’s shocking how much life they manage to drain from Willis’ work. The Movie Jerks — Episode 372 – Olav Rokne, The Christmas Prince Royal Baby and Snow Wonder

Olav Rokne is back to talk about for his yearly Christmas film review. This time we may have broke our guest, as we discuss the television film “Snow Wonder” and the third installment in the “Christmas Prince” series. 

(14) VARIABLE PRICING TEST. The Hollywood Reporter’s article “‘Playmobil’: Anatomy of an Epic Box Office Bomb” is more of an autopsy than an anatomy.

Not even $5 tickets could save STXfilms’ animated pic, which is being called the biggest test to date of variable pricing by U.S. movie theaters.

… STXfilms is hardly alone in urging exhibitors to consider variable pricing as a means of supporting titles that aren’t major event pics.

However, box office analysts say Playmobil isn’t an accurate barometer, noting that only a minimal $3 million was spent on marketing the movie, far from enough to ignite widespread awareness.

(15) DNA CHAOS. It’s in the New York Times, but it’s not “Dear Abby” — “When a DNA Test Says You’re a Younger Man, Who Lives 5,000 Miles Away”.

Three months after his bone marrow transplant, Chris Long of Reno, Nev., learned that the DNA in his blood had changed. It had all been replaced by the DNA of his donor, a German man he had exchanged just a handful of messages with.

He’d been encouraged to test his blood by a colleague at the Sheriff’s Office, where he worked. She had an inkling this might happen. It’s the goal of the procedure, after all: Weak blood is replaced by healthy blood, and with it, the DNA it contains.

…The implications of Mr. Long’s case, which was presented at an international forensic science conference in September, have now captured the interest of DNA analysts far beyond Nevada.

The average doctor does not need to know where a donor’s DNA will present itself within a patient. That’s because this type of chimerism is not likely to be harmful. Nor should it change a person. “Their brain and their personality should remain the same,” said Andrew Rezvani, the medical director of the inpatient Blood & Marrow Transplant Unit at Stanford University Medical Center.

He added that patients also sometimes ask him what it means for a man to have a woman’s chromosomes in their bloodstream or vice versa. “It doesn’t matter,” he said….

But for a forensic scientist, it’s a different story. The assumption among criminal investigators as they gather DNA evidence from a crime scene is that each victim and each perpetrator leaves behind a single identifying code — not two, including that of a fellow who is 10 years younger and lives thousands of miles away. And so Renee Romero, who ran the crime lab at the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, saw an opportunity when her friend and colleague told her that his doctor had found a suitable match on a donor website and he would be undergoing a bone marrow transplant.

(16) COLLECTING BUSINESS. One thing’s for sure – I don’t own any of these valuable editions: “Signed Harry Potter book bought for 1p ‘could fetch thousands'”.

A collector with more than 1,000 Harry Potter books is hoping to fetch thousands of pounds by auctioning off some of his rarest items.

Mark Cavoto began trading books from the series after noticing how well they sold on online auction site eBay.

Among the books being sold by Mr Cavoto is a first edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets signed by author JK Rowling, bought for 1p plus postage.

The auction takes place at Bishton Hall in Staffordshire on Thursday.

The signed book is expected to fetch from £1,800 to £2,500, with other first editions expected to collect hundreds of pounds each.

Mr Cavoto, 51, from Buxton in Derbyshire, said he saw a “business opportunity” when he sold some of his daughter’s old Harry Potter books on eBay.

“I checked the ISBN numbers and sourced the same three books second-hand on Amazon, bought them for a penny each plus postage and sold them in minutes for £9.99 each on eBay,” he said.

Mr Cavoto began buying books from the series “for next to nothing at charity shops and online”, which led him to discovering signed copies and first editions.

(17) BOOK BURNING. According to Quartz, “A Chinese library’s book-burning orgy echoes dark chapters in the country’s history”.  

In a photo that circulated on Chinese social media on the weekend, workers at a library located in Zhenyuan county in north-central Gansu province were shown burning books in an act the library described (link in Chinese) as a “quick and comprehensive” filtering and destruction of “illegal” publications, including books related to religion. The library said it wanted to enhance its function as a major propaganda tool in terms of promoting mainstream Chinese values. The post, which was originally published on Oct. 22, has since been deleted.

In total, the library destroyed 65 books under the supervision of officials from the Zhenyuan culture affairs bureau, according to the post. Zhenyuan’s propaganda department told a local Chinese publication (link in Chinese) that it was looking into the incident.

Under Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s tightening grip on the freedom of speech, religion, and ideas, authorities have been conducting a large scale clean-up of books in libraries in elementary and middle schools since October, according to a notice (link in Chinese) published by the Ministry of Education. The ministry ordered schools to remove books deemed “illegal” or “inappropriate,” including those that are “against the ideologies of the party,” “describe the party, the nation, or the military’s history in a mocking way,” or “promote religious doctrine, theory, and rules.”

The episode stirred an unusual backlash on Chinese social media, with many saying that it reminded them of the country’s painful history of repressing intellectuals and academic freedom. Many cited the example of the tyrannical emperor Qin Shihuang, who unified China more than 2,000 years ago and directed the “burning the books and burying the scholars” …movement which led to some 460 Confucian scholars being buried alive for their opposition against imperial policies.

(18) WOUND. “Seafloor scar of Bikini A-bomb test still visible”.

The date was 25 July 1946. The location – Bikini Atoll. The event – only the fifth A-bomb explosion and the first-ever detonation under water.

The pictures we’ve all seen: A giant mushroom cloud climbing out of the Pacific, sweeping up ships that had been deliberately left in harm’s way to see what nuclear war was capable of.

Now, 73 years later, scientists have been back to map the seafloor.

A crater is still present; so too the twisted remains of all those vessels.

“Bikini was chosen because of its idyllic remoteness and its large, easily accessible lagoon,” explains survey team-leader Art Trembanis from the University of Delaware.

“At the time, [the famous American comedian] Bob Hope quipped, ‘as soon as the war ended, we found the one spot on Earth that had been untouched by the war and blew it to hell’.”

(19) FAMILY AFFAIR. “Grandmother killer whales boost survival of calves” – BBC has the story.

Grandmother killer whales boost the survival rates of their grandchildren, a new study has said.

The survival rates were even higher if the grandmother had already gone through the menopause.

The findings shed valuable light on the mystery of the menopause, or why females of some species live long after they lose the ability to reproduce.

Only five known animals experience it: killer whales, short-finned pilot whales, belugas, narwhals and humans.

With humans, there is some evidence that human grandmothers aid in the survival of their children and grandchildren, a hypothesis called the “grandmother effect”.

These findings suggest the same effect occurs in orcas.

(20) THE LONG AND WINDING FILM. The Criterion Collection has available Wim Wenders’ director’s cut of Until the End of the World, the 1991 French-German science fiction drama film.

Conceived as the ultimate road movie, this decades-in-the-making science-fiction epic from Wim Wenders follows the restless Claire Tourneur (Solveig Dommartin) across continents as she pursues a mysterious stranger (William Hurt) in possession of a device that can make the blind see and bring dream images to waking life. With an eclectic soundtrack that gathers a host of the director’s favorite musicians, along with gorgeous cinematography by Robby Müller, this breathless adventure in the shadow of Armageddon takes its heroes to the ends of the earth and into the oneiric depths of their own souls. Presented here in its triumphant 287-minute director’s cut, Until the End of the World assumes its rightful place as Wenders’ magnum opus, a cosmic ode to the pleasures and perils of the image and a prescient meditation on cinema’s digital future.

(21) FREE DOWNLOAD. “New NASA eBook Reveals Insights of Earth Seen at Night from Space”.

Earth has many stories to tell, even in the dark of night. Earth at Night, NASA’s new 200-page ebook, is now available online and includes more than 150 images of our planet in darkness as captured from space by Earth-observing satellites and astronauts on the International Space Station over the past 25 years.

The images reveal how human activity and natural phenomena light up the darkness around the world, depicting the intricate structure of cities, wildfires and volcanoes raging, auroras dancing across the polar skies, moonlight reflecting off snow and deserts, and other dramatic earthly scenes.

…In addition to the images, the book tells how scientists use these observations to study our changing planet and aid decision makers in such areas as sustainable energy use and disaster response.

  • Kindle readers: MOBI [42 MB]
  • All other eBook readers: EPUB [45 MB]
  • PDF readers: PDF [39 MB]

(22) FORMATION FLYING. Amazon is going all-out to advertise The Expanse Season 4.

The Expanse drone space opera lit up the sky at the 2019 Intersect Festival in Las Vegas.

There’s also a 6-minute version shot at ground level here.

(23) DIY AT HOME. Jimmy Kimmel Live showed everyone the way to “Make Your Own Baby Yoda.” (He’s kidding, okay? Just kidding!!)

Baby Yoda is a very cute and popular character from “The Mandalorian,” but according to Disney, which owns Star Wars, Baby Yoda toys will not be available for Christmas. However, if you want a Baby Yoda for your kid or your adult nerd help is on the way. Guillermo demonstrates a simple way for anyone to make their own little Yoda at home.

[Thanks to Olav Rokne, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, Olav Rokne, N., Bill, Juliette Wade, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

Pixel Scroll 5/25/19 The Stars Not Your Destination? Recalculating…

(1) BACK FROM THE NEBULAS. Connie Willis shares with Facebook readers some of her info from the “We Have Always Been Here” panel —

At the Nebula Awards weekend in Los Angeles this last week I was on a panel with Sarah Pinsker, Cat Rambo, and Eileen Gunn called “We Have Always Been Here,” about early women SF writers. We discussed a bunch of them and decided to follow up with a Twitter hashtag–#AlwaysBeenHere–and discussions on our blogs and Facebook pages of these terrific (and sometimes nearly forgotten) writers.

One of the reasons their names aren’t well-known now is that they, like everybody else in SF at the time, were writing short stories rather than novels, so their stuff can be hard to find. Great writers like Fredric Brown, Ward Moore, and Philip Latham found themselves in the same boat.

Here are some of the women writers I’d like to see be read by a new generation…

(2) UNREAD WORD POWER. Cedar Sanderson expands our vocabulary in “Tsunduko Tsundere” at Mad Genius Club.

…My daughter explained to me that tsundere is ‘typically someone who acts like they don’t want something, but they really do.’ In anime or manga it’s actually a romantic style. Argues with the one they are attracted to, but inside they are all lovebirds and sighs. I am feeling a bit like this in my current relationship with books, in particular paper books.

(3) HERO PICKER. In the Washington Post, Sonia Rao profiles Sarah Finn, who, as the casting director of Marvel, has cast more than 1,000 roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, and Tom Hiddleston:

The risk paid off. Downey’s performance as the morally torn superhero anchors the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Infinity Saga, which began with 2008?s “Iron Man” and concluded 21 films later with last month’s box-office behemoth, “Avengers: Endgame.” It’s difficult to imagine anyone but him in that role — a statement that could extend to any of the heroes, really.

That’s largely thanks to Finn, who took on the gargantuan task of casting every actor who appears in the MCU (aside from those in “The Incredible Hulk,” released a month after “Iron Man”). That amounts to more than a thousand roles overall, she says, ranging from characters as high-profile as Captain America to those as minor as his background dancers. The job — which Finn held for the first five MCU films alongside Randi Hiller, who now heads casting for live-action projects at Walt Disney Studios — calls for a certain prescience, the ability to predict what sort of traits an actor would one day be asked to exhibit in films that have yet to be written.

(4) STAN LEE ELDER ABUSE. Variety reports “Stan Lee’s Former Business Manager Arrested on Elder Abuse Charges”.

Stan Lee’s former business manager, Keya Morgan, was arrested in Arizona Saturday morning on an outstanding warrant from the Los Angeles Police Department.

The LAPD’s Mike Lopez confirmed that the arrest warrant was for the following charges: one count of false imprisonment – elder adult; three counts of grand theft from elder or dependent adult, special aggravated white collar crime loss of over $100k; and one count of elder or dependent adult abuse.

The investigation into whether Stan Lee was the subject of elder abuse began in March 2018 stemming from actions allegedly taken by Morgan in May and June of 2018.

The grand theft charges stem from $262,000 that was collected from autograph signing sessions in May 2018, but that Lee never received.

(5) MORE ON JACK COHEN. Jonathan Cowie writes —

The funeral was mainly a family affair with Ian Stewart and I representing SF, and in addition to myself there were a couple of other biologists.

However there were over a hundred messages sent in to family.  And a few tributes read out including one from Nobel Laureate Prof. Sir Paul Nurse who was one of Jack’s student and who praised his teaching saying that every university departments needs its Jack Cohen.

  • Read Jonathan Cowie’sown tribute on his personal site.
  • And he’s archived an article he commissioned from Jack for Biologist way back in the 1990s on alien life here.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.

May 25, 1953It Came From Outer Space premiered (story by Ray Bradbury).

May 25, 1969 — The first shave in space took place on Apollo 10.

May 25, 1977 Star Wars: A New Hope premiered on this day.

May 25, 1979 — Ridley Scott’s Alien debuts.

May 25, 1983 Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi in theatres.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 25, 1808 Edward Bulwer-Lytton. In addition, the opening seven words from Paul Clifford : “It was a dark and stormy night”, he also coined the phrases “the great unwashed”, “pursuit of the almighty dollar” and “the pen is mightier than the sword.” ISFDB credits him with eight genre novels including The Coming RaceAsmodeus at Large and Last Days of Pompeii to name but three. He wrote a lot of short fiction with titles such as “Glenhausen.—The Power of Love in Sanctified Places.— A Portrait of Frederick Barbarossa.—The Ambition of Men Finds Adequate Sympathy in Women”. (Died 1873.)
  • Born May 25, 1916 Charles D. Hornig. Publisher of the Fantasy Fan which ran from September ‘33 to February ‘35 and including first publication of works by Bloch, Lovecraft, Smith, Howard and Derleth. It also had a LOC called ‘The Boiling Point’ which quickly became angry exchanges between several of the magazine’s regular contributors, including Ackerman, Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith. He paid for the costs of Fan Fantasy by working for Gernsback at Wonder Stories. (Died 1999.)
  • Born May 25, 1935 W. P. Kinsella. Best I’d say known for his novel Shoeless Joe which was adapted into the movie Field of Dreams, one of the few films that Kevin Costner is a decent actor in, ironic as the other is Bull Durham. Kinsella’s other genre novel’s The Iowa Baseball Confederacy and it’s rather less well known that Shoeless Joe is but it’s excellent. He also edited Baseball Fantastic, an anthology of just what the title says they are. Given that he’s got eighteen collections of short stories listed on his wiki page, I’m reasonably sure his ISFDB page doesn’t come close to listing all his short stories. (Died 2016.)
  • Born May 25, 1939 Ian McKellen, 80. Best known for being Magneto in the X-Men films, and Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. I’m fairly sure his first genre role was as Dr. Faustus in an Edinburgh production of that play in the early Seventies. He also played Macbeth at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre during that period. He’d played Captain Hook in Peter Pan at The Royal National Theatre, and was the voice of the Demon in The Exorcist in the UK tour of that production. Of course he was Dr. Reinhardt Lane in The Shadow, The Narrator in Stardust, Sherlock Holmes in Mr. Holmes, Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast and finally he’s going to be Gus the Theatre Cat in the forthcoming Cats
  • Born May 25, 1946 Frank Oz, 73. Actor, director including The Dark Crystal, Little Shop of Horrors and the second version of The Stepford Wives, producer and puppeteer. His career began as a puppeteer, where he performed the Muppet characters of Animal, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, and oh so patriotic Sam Eagle in The Muppet Show, and Cookie Monster, Bert, and Grover in Sesame Street. Genre wise, he’s also known for the role of Yoda in the Star Wars franchise.
  • Born May 25, 1946 Janet Morris, 73. Hey I get to mention Thieves’ World! Yea! In that universe, she created the Sacred Band of Stepsons, a mythical unit of ancient fighters modeled on the Sacred Band of Thebes. She has three series, both listed as SF though I’d call one of them fantasy, the Silistra quartet, the Kerrion Space trilogy and the Threshold series. 
  • Born May 25, 1949 Barry Windsor-Smith, 70. Illustrator and painter, mostly for Marvel Comics. Oh, his work on Conan the Barbarian in the early Seventies was amazing, truly amazing! And then there was the original Weapon X story arc involving Wolverine which still ranks among the best stories told largely because of his artwork. And let’s not forget that he and writer Roy Thomas created Red Sonja partially based on Howard’s characters Red Sonya of Rogatino and Dark Agnes de Chastillon.
  • Born May 25, Kathryn Daugherty. I’m going to let Mike do her justice, so just go read his appreciation of her here, including her scoffing at the oversized “MagiCon” pocket program and the pineapple jelly beans she was responsible for. (Died 2012.)
  • Born May 25, 1962 Mickey Zucker Reichert, 57. She’s best know for her Renshai series which riffs off traditional Norse mythology. She was asked by the Asimov estate to write three prequels in the I, Robot series. She’s the only female to date who’s written authorized stories. 
  • Born May 25, 1966 Vera Nazarian, 53. To date, she has written ten novels including Dreams of the Compass Rose, what I’d called a mosaic novel structured as a series of interlinked stories similar in to The One Thousand and One Nights that reminds a bit of Valente’s The Orphans Tales. She’s the publisher of Norilana Books which publishes such works as Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress anthologies, Catherynne M. Valente’s Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects and Tabitha Lee’s Lee’s Sounds and Furies

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Incidental Comics takes “A Writer’s Routine” from A to Z.

(9) URSULA VERNON. A hound wants out of this chicken outfit. Thread starts here.

(10) EXTRAORDINARY CLAIMS. ComicsBeat’s Hannah Lodge advances “5 reasons DOOM PATROL is the best superhero show of the decade”. Reason number one —

Power Patrol 

The Doom Patrol isn’t a team of shiny superheroes, a team of super-villains working to thwart those heroes, or even bad guys with a change of heart. They’re flawed, but trying, and their quests are less of the greater-good variety and more of the personal, soul-searching kind (even if they do casually prevent an apocalypse or two along the way). Each of the team members has your standard issue set of powers. What’s different about this show is the way they view and use them: as consequences and reminders of the mistakes they made in life they must learn to use and accept rather than invitations to a virtuous or higher moral calling. It’s refreshing to see this team as a found family working for smaller stakes and through very human issues – more often through things like superhero therapy than sprawling battles.

(11) OBJECTION. We’ve all heard sf stories get criticized for bad science – but what happens when a Real Lawyer Reacts to Star Trek TNG Measure of a Man — an episode written by Melinda Snodgrass?

When Starfleet officer Maddox orders Data’s disassembly for research purposes, Data is thrust into a legal battle to determine if he is entitled to the rights enjoyed by sentient beings. Data tries to resign his commission but Starfleet won’t let him. Worse, against his will, Commander Riker is ordered to advocate against Data. Captain Picard must defend Data in a trial for his life. Is it a realistic trial? Does Data deserves all the rights and privileges of a Starfleet officer? IS DATA A REAL PERSON?!

(12) LINGO SLINGING. The Washington Post’s Avi Selk profiles linguist David J. Peterson, who created the Valyrian and Dothraki languages for Game of Thrones in “a 600-page document owned by HBO”.  Peterson explains he began his career by being irritated at a scene in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi where Princess Leia includes the words “yate” and “yoto” to mean “a wookie; a bounty; a thermal detonator, and 50,000 space credits.” Selk also profiles several other creators of imaginary languages, including Jessie Sams, who teaches a course in imaginary languages at Stephen F. Austin State University. “How a community of obscure language inventors made it big with ‘Game of Thrones’”

A running joke in “Game of Thrones” has Peter Dinklage’s character, Tyrion, repeatedly butchering the Valyrian language, despite his best efforts.

In the episode last Sunday, he’s trying to ask a military guard for permission to see a prisoner and comes up with: “Nyke m?zun ipradagon bartanna r?elio.” A subtitle on the screen translates this for us as: “I drink to eat the skull keeper.”

When the guard stares at him in confusion, Tyrion tries again but only utters more gibberish. Finally, the guard informs him in perfect English, “I speak the common tongue,” and takes him to see the prisoner. Hah.

It’s a simple gag on its face, but there’s a deeper layer. The language Tyrion is garbling actually exists….

(13) FOR THE ROCKET. James Reid’s assessment of a Hugo finalist category: “Hugo Awards Extravaganza 2019 – Short Story”.

I like short stories to be self-contained: a good idea or a complete story.  As such I often gravitate to stories that are focused on doing one thing well.   It also means that I tend to prefer vignettes, where Hugo short stories can be surprisingly long (7500 words or less).

Note: it’s hard to discuss a short story without spoilers, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, skip to my rankings and general comments.

(14) RETRO REVIEWS. Right this way to Evelyn C. Leeper’s Retro Hugo Novella Reviews.

There’s always one on each ballot–one finalist that is totally unavailable–and this year it is “Attitude” by Hal Clement. This will not stop it from winning, of course; Clifford Simak’s “Rule 18” won a Retro Hugo in 2014 for its 1939 publication, and it had been reprinted since only once–in Italian. I think I can safely say that he won on name-recognition, and the same could happen with Clement. (“Attitude” is available in NESFA’s Clement collection, but I have no access to it.)…

(15) THE WRIGHT STUFF. Steve J. Wright has completed his Lodestar YA Novel Finalist reviews.

(16) SCIENCE ESSAY CONTEST. Nature has launched a young writers nonfiction contest to find the most inspiring ideas about the research of the future.

This year, Nature turns 150 years old. To mark this occasion, we are celebrating our past but also looking to the future. We would like to hear from you. Nature is launching an essay competition for readers aged 18 to 25. We invite you to tell us, in an essay of no more than 1,000 words, what scientific advance, big or small, you would most like to see in your lifetime, and why it matters to you. We want to feature the inspiring voices and ideas of the next generation

The deadline for completed essays is midnight GMT, UK time, on 9thAugust 2019. The winner will have their essay published in our 150th anniversary issue on 7 November, and receive a cash prize (£500 or $ equivalent) as well as a year’s personal subscription to the journal. For further information and to submit, visit go.nature.com/30y5jkz. We are looking for essays that are well reasoned, well researched, forward-looking, supported by existing science, and leave room for personal perspective and anecdotes that show us who you are. We encourage you to entertain as well as to inform; we are not looking for academic papers, an academic writing style or science fiction (though clearly those with an SF interest may have interesting ideas.

(17) BIG BANG’S BREXIT. Okay, it’s safe to talk about The Big Bang Theory again — its final show has aired in the British Isles and western Europe. British media reaction includes:-

(18) ANOTHER LEGO BRICK IN THE WALL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Ars Technica: “Massive Lego National Cathedral built with Vader, droids, Harry Potter wands’. The National Cathedral is using LEGOs to raise money for a restoration fund, and is including sff references (see added emphasis below) in the 1:40 scale model structure.

As millions of dollars in donations stacked up for the Notre-Dame Cathedral following the horrific fire last month, the Washington National Cathedral was quietly building its own restoration fund—brick by plastic brick.

[…] [Instructions were] created by the designers and professional Lego aficionados at Bright Bricks—are used by volunteers and kind donors who buy individual bricks and place them on the growing replica by hand. The bricks go for $2 each and all the money goes toward the $19 million needed to repair damage from a 5.8-magnitude earthquake in 2011.

[…] While the size of the project is impressive, what’s perhaps more remarkable is that Santos is designing and assembling only with off-the-shelf Lego bricks. This requires some creative workarounds and repurposing of parts. Small stone angels that sit at the foot of the tomb of Bishop Henry Yates Satterlee (the first Episcopal bishop of Washington and a key figure in the Cathedral’s construction) are represented by Star Wars droid heads. Part of the ornaments along a stained-glass window are made of droid arms. A cross at the altar of the basement chapel (Bethlehem Chapel) is made of Lego tire irons, and an ornate railing on the outside of the back of the cathedral is made of Harry Potter wands. The Lego cathedral will also include a Darth Vader head, replicating the actual Darth Vader “gargoyle” that sits high on the Northwest tower.

(19) RELEASE THE KAIJU. The “Godzilla: King of the Monsters – Knock You Out – Exclusive Final Look.” Movie comes to theaters May 31.

Following the global success of “Godzilla” and “Kong: Skull Island” comes the next chapter in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ cinematic MonsterVerse, an epic action adventure that pits Godzilla against some of the most popular monsters in pop culture history. The new story follows the heroic efforts of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch as its members face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. When these ancient super-species—thought to be mere myths—rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/10/18 This Is A Song Called Alice’s Pixel Scroll But Alice’s Pixel Scroll Is Not The Name Of The Pixel Scroll That’s Just The Name Of The Song

(1) SFWA AND THE WRITERS OF THE FUTURE CONTEST. SFWA member and former Greivance Committee member Eric James Stone, whose wife Darci Stone won the Writers of the Future Contest 2018 grand prize Golden Pen Award, has shared his correspondence with the SFWA Board in a blog post where he strongly disagrees with the organization’s actions against the Writers of the Future Contest. Says Stone, “In short, I feel the SFWA Board has acted incompetently and/or unethically.” — “SFWA and the Writers of the Future Contest”.

2. Even if you agree with WOTF being de-listed, I think you should be concerned about the process implemented by the Board. Imagine that one of your favorite publications was being targeted for de-listing, and the SFWA Board acted to de-list before even communicating with the editors about any concerns or complaints. Would you consider that a fair process? If it wouldn’t have been a fair process for Clarkesworld or Asimov’s or Strange Horizons, then it was not a fair process for Writers of the Future.

3. I think that any reasonable person who actually wanted to “…ensur[e] that these concerns [about WOTF] are meaningfully addressed…” would have contacted the WOTF Contest administrators to discuss the concerns before taking the action of de-listing the contest as a qualifying market. The only reasonable excuse for not doing so would be some sort of urgent need to act immediately in order to prevent harm, but since the Board voted in August and failed to make it known until December, that excuse doesn’t seem to apply here. Since it is a stated goal of the Board to see that the concerns are meaningfully addressed, the fact that they do not appear to have exercised reasonable care in attempting to carry out that goal could mean they have violated their fiduciary duty as Board members.

4. None of the members of the Board has answered the charge that the website gave pretexts for the Board’s action in removing contest publications as qualifying markets, while the real goal was to de-list Writers of the Future specifically. The Board’s actions don’t make sense if the objective was to get the contest to address concerns, but they make perfect sense if the objective was to de-list WOTF. Why would they have that specific goal? When I wrote to the Board originally, I was worried that some people might be targeting the contest because of its association with the Church of Scientology. If that was, in fact, the case, and the members of the Board were either in agreement with such an objective or willing to cater to such people, it would explain why the Board would de-list the contest before even going through the motions of resolving concerns about it, and it would also explain why they disguised the motives for their action in the explanation offered on the website.

(2) FIFTH SEASON OR ELEVENTH SEASON? In “Doctor Who: The Battle of Ranskoor av Kolos”, Camestros Felapton reviews the last episode of Season 11.

 I don’t know if anybody else got a bit of a Fifth Season vibe from the beginning of this episode. I did, which got my hopes up but overall this was an episode of unexplored ideas. Not terrible but it felt oddly sketched out with hints of something better.

Take for example the idea of this mind altering planet, it gives one character a reason why they can’t initially explain what is going on but otherwise the idea goes nowhere. Which is doubly odd, because it is a concept that could be done really well with a smart script and clever acting.

(3) WHO’S NUMBERS. Yahoo! Finance’s Stewart Clarke, in “Jodie Whittaker to Return as ‘Doctor Who’ in 2020 Amid Strong U.S. Ratings”, says that this year’s series of Doctor Who held up in ratings in both the U.S. and Britain, and Jodie Whittaker drew about as many viewers as Peter Capaldi did in his last season.

British viewers tuned in in droves to the first episode of the current season. With 11 million viewers (consolidated),it was the second-biggest drama audience of the year and the best launch for “Doctor Who” in a decade in the U.K.

Overnight ratings declined steadily over the course of the series,  falling to 5 million for the ninth episode (7 million consolidated). Sunday’s finale delivered 5.3 million viewers. British tabloids have suggested that viewers tuned out because the new season was too “politically correct,” but the fall in overnight ratings is not unusual and follows that of earlier seasons.

It also reflects modern viewing patterns, with many fans and, notably, younger viewers watching the show on catch-up. The BBC said the average consolidated audience through the first eight episodes was 8.4million, significantly above the last season of “Doctor Who,” starring Peter Capaldi, whose average was below 6 million. The current season was the second most-requested series on the BBC’s iPlayer in October, the busiest month ever for the catch-up service.

In the U.S., Whittaker and her team notched a ratings win for BBC America, which said it was the fastest-growing scripted show of the year. Ahead of Sunday’s final episode, BBC America reported that the show was up 47% season-on-season, with young  female viewers driving the growth. The show averaged 1.6 million viewers through its first eight episodes in the U.S.

(4) RECORDS SET. Variety’s “‘Avengers: Endgame’ Trailer Smashes 24-Hour Video Views Record” by Todd Spangler says that 289 million people saw the trailer for Avengers: Endgame in the first 24 hours after it was released, which is a record, and 599,000 people tweeted about it, another record.

(5) CLASS HIGHLIGHTS. Cat Rambo shares tweets about Seanan McGuire’s class:

(6) THE DEFORESTATION OF MIDDLE-EARTH. From 2003, but maybe it’s news to you, too! McSweeny’s magazine imagines a DVD commentary for Lord Of The Rings as done by leftist academics Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky: “Unused Audio Commentary By Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky, Recorded Summer 2002 For The Fellowship Of The Ring (Platinum Series Extended Edition) DVD, Part One”.

CHOMSKY: The film opens with Galadriel speaking. “The world has changed,” she tells us, “I can feel it in the water.” She’s actually stealing a line from the non-human Treebeard. He says this to Merry and Pippin in The Two Towers, the novel. Already we can see who is going to be privileged by this narrative and who is not.

ZINN: Of course. “The world has changed.” I would argue that the main thing one learns when one watches this film is that the world hasn’t changed. Not at all.

CHOMSKY: We should examine carefully what’s being established here in the prologue. For one, the point is clearly made that the “master ring,” the so-called “one ring to rule them all,” is actually a rather elaborate justification for preemptive war on Mordor.

ZINN: I think that’s correct. Tolkien makes no attempt to hide the fact that rings are wielded by every other ethnic enclave in Middle Earth. The Dwarves have seven rings, the Elves have three. The race of Man has nine rings, for God’s sake. There are at least 19 rings floating around out there in Middle Earth, and yet Sauron’s ring is supposedly so terrible that no one can be allowed to wield it. Why?

(7) LOOKING FOR AVRAM DAVDISON LETTERS. Danny Sichel encouraged me to give this Locus Online item a signal boost: “Davidson Letters Sought”.

Editor Henry Wes­sels invites “any persons holding correspondence from Avram Davidson to send legible photocopies or scans of interesting or notable letters” to his at­tention, for a volume of Davidson’s selected letters to be published next year by The Nutmeg Point District Mail for the Avram Davidson Society. Material may be sent to Henry Wessells, PO Box 43072,Upper Montclair NJ 07043; <wessells@aol.com>

(8) WILLIS AND SNODGRASS INTERVIEW. Lorene Mills’ next Report From Santa Fe features award-winning authors Connie Willis and Melinda Snodgrass.

Connie Willis has been inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and awarded the title of Grand Master by the Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers of America. Her work has won eleven Hugos and seven Nebula awards.

Melinda Snodgrass is an award-winning screenwriter (she wrote Star Trek Next Gen’s popular episode “The Measure of a Man” among others) and author of the popular “Edge” Series, the “Imperials Saga,” and creator/editor (with George RR Martin) of the”Wild Cards” anthologies.

The show will air on various local stations in New Mexico between December 15-17, 2018. See the site for exact times.

(9) STRANGER THINGS. This is called a “title tease” – I’m guessing they’re the titles of Season 3 episodes.

In the summer of 1985, the adventure continues.

(10) BAVE OBIT. [Item by Steve Green.] Terry Bave (1931-2018): British comics artist, died December 6. Freelanced for Odhams, IPC and DC Thomson, on such fantasy strips as Sammy Shrink, Jimmy Jeckle and Master Hyde, Me and My Shadow; many of these were written by his wife Shiela*.  He retired in 2007, publishing his autobiography Cartoons and Comic Strips six years later.

*That is the correct spelling, I understand.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 10, 1815Ada Lovelace. English mathematician and writer, principally known for her work on Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Genre usage includes William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s The Difference Engine and S.M. Stirling’s The Peshawar Lancers. (Died 1852.)
  • Born December 10, 1824George MacDonald. Scottish author I think best known for Phantastes:A Faerie Romance for Men and Women and The Princess and The Goblin. His writings have been cited as a major literary influence by many notable authors including C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien,G. K. Chesterton and Madeleine L’Engle to name but a few who mention him. The Waterboys titled their Room to Roam album after a passage in Phantastes. (Died 1905.)
  • Born December 10, 1903Mary Norton. Author of The Borrowers which won the 1952 Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognizing the novel as the year’s outstanding children’s book by a British author. She would continue to write these novels for three decades with Hallmark turning it into a film in the early seventies. Her novels The Magic Bed Knob; or, How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons and Bonfires and Broomsticks would be adapted into the Disney film Bedknobs and Broomsticks in the same period. (Died 1992.)
  • Born December 10, 1907Graves Gladney. An illustrator known for his cover paintings for Street & Smith pulp magazines, especially The Shadow. He produced all the covers from April 1939 to the end of 1941.
  • It’s worth noting that when he replaced The Shadow‘s cover artist George Rozen who did a more fantastical approach to the covers, Gladney depicted an actual scene that Walter Gibson had written in a story inside. (Died 1976.)
  • Born December 10, 1957Michael Clarke Duncan. Certainly best known as John Coffey in Stephen King’s The Green Mile film nearly twenty years ago. He also had roles in Planet of the Apes, Sin City, voice work in The Land Before Time XI: Invasion of the TinysaurusesGeorge and the Dragon and The Scorpion King. He played Kingpin in the Ben Affleck-led version of Daredevil. (Died 2012.)
  • Born December 10, 1960 Kenneth Branagh, 58. Oh Branagh, I feel obligated to start with your worst film, Wild Wild West, which, well, had you no shame? Fortunately there’s much better genre work from you as an actor including as Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. As a Director, I’m only seeing Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Thor — Anyone know of anything else genre related?

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Close To Home predicts a near-future name change for a planet in our Solar System.

(13) GHOST WITH THE MOST. The New York Times’ rundown of the latest Saturday Night Live includes this segment: “‘Game of Thrones’ Parody of the Week”.

If you’ve been hard up for “Game of Thrones” content since the most recent season ended in 2017, you could do worse than “Khal Drogo’s Ghost Dojo,” a public access TV show where “we talk with some of the hundreds of characters from ‘Game of Thrones’ who have been killed off the show,” as Thompson, a co-host, explained.

The sketch was mostly an excuse to let this week’s guest host,  Jason Momoa, reprise his “Game of Thrones” role as the warrior Khal Drogo and to let cast members impersonate “Thrones” characters. It also included an exchange between Momoa and Heidi Gardner, playing Brienne of Tarth, that referenced the recent troubles of Kevin Hart, who withdrew as host of the Academy Awards after refusing to apologize for anti-gay jokes.

In his Dothraki language (translated by subtitles), Momoa said of Gardner, “If this man wants to fight, I’ll give him what he wants.”

Gardner replied incredulously: “Man? Wow, you have a lot to learn about identity politics.”

“You’re right,” a chastened Momoa said in broken English. “Khal need to learn from Khal’s mistakes or Khal never win Oscar. Never host Oscar.”

Taking in the scene, Thompson said, “Wow, what a teachable moment.”

(14) GOT THAT RIGHT. If only I hadn’t thrown away my mimeograph years ago! Oh, noes!

(15) NO SURPRISE. The film did everything he predicted. Camestros Felapton loved it anyway: “Review: Bohemian Rhapsody”.

…The trick is the cliches don’t matter in most respects. Queen were a band that was always a bit corny but just kept pushing through that and unironically owning the grandiosity of their songs, arrangements and Freddie Mercury’s presence.

So the film makes them the greatest rock band ever who pushed more boundaries and crossed more genres and styles and broke more conventions of pop music. Which is nonsense but with the grain of truth that they were a band that are hard to classify. Flamboyant camp nerdry which required a braggadocio approach….

(16) CREEPY OR FUNNY? You decide! The Hollywood Reporter introduces the video —  “Andy Serkis Revives Gollum to Mock U.K.’s Brexit Negotiations”.

“Oh precious, our agreement, this is it, our deal, yessss, yesss,” hisses the actor while dressed up as British leader Theresa May.

Gollum has a Brexit plan, kind of. 

The U.K.’s ongoing and increasingly fraught attempts to negotiate its departure from the European Union were given some much-needed comic relief over the weekend thanks to some expert trolling by Andy Serkis. 

(17) SPIDER-VERSE. This clip introduces Spider-Gwen.

Hailee Steinfeld is Spider-Gwen. She’s from another, another dimension.

Miles and Peter swing out of danger in this clip:

(18) REALLY OLD SILICA MEMORIES. In “The key to cracking long-dead languages?” it’s explained how digitizing, computerized decryption and summarizing could speed access to the text in ancient tablets.

They chronicle the rise of fall of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia, the world’s first empires. An estimated half a million of them have been excavated, and more are still buried in the ground.

However, since cuneiform was first deciphered by scholars around 150 years ago, the script has only yielded its secrets to a small group of people who can read it. Some 90% of cuneiform texts remain untranslated.

That could change thanks to a very modern helper: machine translation.

(19) WAVE BYE-BYE. BBC takes note as “Nasa’s Voyager 2 probe ‘leaves the Solar System'”.

The Voyager 2 probe, which left Earth in 1977, has become the second human-made object to leave our Solar System.

It was launched 16 days before its twin craft, Voyager 1, but that probe’s faster trajectory meant that it was in “the space between the stars” six years before Voyager 2.

The news was revealed at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in Washington.

And chief scientist on the mission, Prof Edward Stone, confirmed it.

He said both probes had now “made it into interstellar space” and that Voyager 2’s date of departure from the Solar System was 5 November 2018.

On that date, the steady stream of particles emitted from the Sun that were being detected by the probe suddenly dipped. This indicated that it had crossed the “heliopause” – the term for the outer edge of the Sun’s protective bubble of particles and magnetic field.

(20) BENEATH THE SURFACE. In a hole in the ground there lived – a hell of a lot of stuff! “Amount of deep life on Earth quantified”.

Scientists have estimated the total amount of life on Earth that exists below ground – and it is vast.

You would need a microscope to see this subterranean biosphere, however.

It is made up mostly of microbes, such as bacteria and their evolutionary cousins, the archaea.

Nonetheless, it represents a lot of carbon – about 15 to 23 billion tonnes of it. That is hundreds of times more carbon than is woven into all the humans on the planet.

“Something like 70% of the total number of microbes on Earth are below our feet,” said Karen Lloyd from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, US.

“So, this changes our perception of where we find life on Earth, from mostly on the surface in things like trees and whales and dolphins, to most of it actually being underground,” she told BBC News.

(21) SHE’S POSSIBLE. The live-action Kim Possible movie premieres in the U.S. on February 15, 2019.

Everyday teen hero Kim Possible (Sadie Stanley) and her best friend Ron Stoppable (Sean Giambrone) embark on their freshman year of high school, all while saving the world from evil villains. While Kim and Ron have always been one step ahead of their opponents, navigating the social hierarchy of high school is more challenging than the action-heroes ever imagined. With Drakken (Todd Stashwick) and Shego (Taylor Ortega) lurking in the wings, Kim must rely on her family and friends on Team Possible—Ron, tech-genius Wade (Issac Ryan Brown), new friend Athena (Ciara Wilson), and Rufus, a Naked mole-rat—to stop these super villains!

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Danny Sichel, Olav Rokne, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Eric James Stone, Steve Green, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]

Pixel Scroll 12/2/17 And With Strange Pixels Even Scrolls May File

(1) I SEE BY YOUR OUTFIT. Smofcon, the con for conrunners has convened in Boston.

  • John Scalzi is there to share what pros expect from conventions.

  • Steve Davidson of Amazing Stories is on hand, too.

The convention is well attended for Smofcons, registration and hospitality were working efficiently the last time I passed through and many interesting conversations have been heard and overheard.

  • An issue of Journey Planet with a con programming theme has been released in time for Smofcon.

  • Jeeze, I played the inaugural version of this game in 1987.

  • Richard Gadsden’s additions to the “Fannish Inquisition” questionnaire are inspired by the virtual wall of TSA.

(2) JUMP IN. Charles Payseur shares his experience and advice to encourage the growth of a deeper and more diverse field of sff short fiction reviewers. “So You Want To Be A Short SFF Reviewer?” at Quick Sip Reviews.

Hi. My name is Charles Payseur and I began reviewing short SFF in early 2014 for Tangent Online, with Dave Truesdale as my guide and mentor. If you shuddered just a bit there, I’m sorry. But imagine, little baby queer me, just getting into the field in my mid 20s, wide-eyed and bushy-tailed. And running into that. I’ve had an Education. One that’s been somewhat dearly bought, but here I am, closing in on four years later.

Short SFF is a field dominated by broken stairs and strange pitfalls. What’s more, it seems to attract some (fairly loud) people who really like to make objective statements of merit with regards to stories and are absolute shit at admitting when they’re in the wrong while simultaneously being wrong fairly frequently and jerks generally. It’s a field that chews and spits out a great many excellent reviewers while seeming to find time to praise and promote the most toxic and insensitive. It’s often tiring, draining, and infuriating. But it’s also kind of amazing. Welcome!

My general goal in this is just to give something of a guide for people wanting to get started in short SFF reviewing. Because the field needs more and more diverse voices if it’s to self-govern away from the most toxic examples of short SFF reviewer. It’s not a comprehensive guide, but I’ve left my contact info toward the bottom if you have any more questions. So yeah, let’s get started!

(3) GOOD TO GO. NASA will be able to keep the mission going awhile longer: “Voyager 1 Fires Up Thrusters After 37 Years”.

If you tried to start a car that’s been sitting in a garage for decades, you might not expect the engine to respond. But a set of thrusters aboard the Voyager 1 spacecraft successfully fired up Wednesday after 37 years without use.

Voyager 1, NASA’s farthest and fastest spacecraft, is the only human-made object in interstellar space, the environment between the stars. The spacecraft, which has been flying for 40 years, relies on small devices called thrusters to orient itself so it can communicate with Earth. These thrusters fire in tiny pulses, or “puffs,” lasting mere milliseconds, to subtly rotate the spacecraft so that its antenna points at our planet. Now, the Voyager team is able to use a set of four backup thrusters, dormant since 1980.

…Since 2014, engineers have noticed that the thrusters Voyager 1 has been using to orient the spacecraft, called “attitude control thrusters,” have been degrading. Over time, the thrusters require more puffs to give off the same amount of energy….

On Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, Voyager engineers fired up the four TCM thrusters for the first time in 37 years and tested their ability to orient the spacecraft using 10-millisecond pulses. The team waited eagerly as the test results traveled through space, taking 19 hours and 35 minutes to reach an antenna in Goldstone, California, that is part of NASA’s Deep Space Network.

Lo and behold, on Wednesday, Nov. 29, they learned the TCM thrusters worked perfectly — and just as well as the attitude control thrusters.

(4) MAKE IT SO. Food & Wine reports “New ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ Holiday-Themed Beer Getting National Release”.

Courtesy of New York’s Shmaltz Brewing Company comes Star Trek: The Next Generation 30th Anniversary Ale – Captain’s Holiday. Yes, that’s a mouthful, but this beer is trying to cover a lot of bases. Not only is this tropically-tinged beer brewed with natural citrus flavors intended as a holiday release, this “Collector’s Edition” product is also meant to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation which first aired back in 1987. As such, the name “Captain’s Holiday” actually comes from the title of an episode of that series in which “the crew convinces Captain Picard to take a much-needed vacation on the pleasure planet Risa” (of course).

(5) MYTHLORE AT 50. Help the Mythopoeic Society pick what belongs in the collection — “Reader’s Choice: The Best of Mythlore’s First Fifty Years”.

IN 2018 WE CELEBRATE THE FOUNDING OF MYTHLORE, the scholarly journal of the Mythopoeic Society, which published its first issue in January 1969. Reader’s Choice: The Best of Mythlore’s First Fifty Years will collect and reprint the very best articles, artwork, reviews, letters, and creative work, all nominated by readers, along with commentary about the journal’s founding and history, and will be published in time for Mythcon 49.

(6) A GRATEFUL WILLIS. In Connie Willis’ “Thanks on Thanksgiving” post she remembers three people who had a big influence on her.

  1. My eighth-grade teacher, whose name I do remember.

Mrs. Werner was my home-room teacher, and every day after lunch she read aloud to us, one of which was Rumer Godden’s AN EPISODE OF SPARROWS.  This is NOT a children’s book, even though its heroine, Lovejoy, was ten years old.  She was also a thief.  She lived in post-war London, and when she decided she wanted to build a garden in the rubble of a bombed-out church, she not only shoplifted seeds and a trowel, but recruited other kids to steal for her.  She was also thoroughly unpleasant.  Not without reason.  She had a slutty mother with an assortment of nasty boyfriends and was often left with strangers for months at a time.  As I say, not a book for junior-high-schoolers.

I have no idea what anybody else in the class thought about the book, but I loved it AND Lovejoy.  It was my first introduction to Rumer Godden, who I fell in love with, especially her novel about grief, IN THIS HOUSE OF BREDE.  It was also my first introduction  to how you can take a classic and update it (AN EPISODE OF SPARROWS is actually Frances Hodgson Burnett’s THE SECRET GARDEN retold.)

And it was my first introduction to the Blitz, planting a seed which blossomed when I went to St. Paul’s years later and fell in love with the fire watch and the history of London during the war–which had a HUGE impact on my life.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 2, 1979 Star Trek appeared in the funny papers with a daily comic strip.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born December 2, 1914 – Ray Walston – your choice, My Favorite Martian, or the Devil in Damn Yankees.

(9) CLASSIC MACHADO. Jane Dykema, in “What I Don’t Tell My Students About ‘The Husband Stitch’” at Electric Lit, says, “The first story in Carmen Maria Machado’s ‘Her Body and Other Parties’ brings up big questions about who we believe and why.”

I was first introduced to the husband stitch in 2014, when a friend in medical school told me about a birth her classmate observed. After the baby was delivered, the doctor said to the woman’s husband, “Don’t worry, I’ll sew her up nice and tight for you,” and the two men laughed while the woman lay between them, covered in her own and her baby’s blood and feces. The story terrified me, the laughter in particular, signaling some understanding of wrongdoing, some sheepishness in doing it anyway. The helplessness of the woman, her body being altered without her consent by two people she has to trust: her partner, her doctor. The details of the third-hand account imprinted into my memory so vividly that the memory of the story feels now almost like my own memory. Later that year, Machado’s “The Husband Stitch” was published, and sometime after that, I read it, and the details of Machado’s scene were so similar, down to the laughter, down to the words “don’t worry” (though in Machado’s story they’re directed at the woman), that I’m not sure now what I remember and what I read.

(10) ELEMENTARY. “The Serial-Killer Detector” in The New Yorker tells how A former journalist, equipped with an algorithm and the largest collection of murder records in the country, finds patterns in crime.

Hargrove created the code, which operates as a simple algorithm, in 2010, when he was a reporter for the now defunct Scripps Howard news service. The algorithm forms the basis of the Murder Accountability Project (MAP), a nonprofit that consists of Hargrove—who is retired—a database, a Web site, and a board of nine members, who include former detectives, homicide scholars, and a forensic psychiatrist. By a process of data aggregating, the algorithm gathers killings that are related by method, place, and time, and by the victim’s sex. It also considers whether the rate of unsolved murders in a city is notable, since an uncaught serial killer upends a police department’s percentages. Statistically, a town with a serial killer in its midst looks lawless….

(11) HEAD ‘EM OFF AT THE PASS. Sounds like a Kage Baker story. The Pharaoh’s city from The Ten Commandments is still under the sand south of San Francisco: “Sphinx head discovered beneath sands of California blows dust off one of the greatest stories of extravagance in Hollywood history”.

The head of a sphinx uncovered from beneath the sand dunes of California has blown the dust off one of the greatest stories of extravagance in Hollywood history.

The perfectly intact 300-pound plaster head was unearthed by archaeologists excavating the set of Cecil B. DeMille’s 95-year-old movie set for The Ten Commandments.

The piece, buried in the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, is unlike anything found on previous digs, said Doug Jenzen, Executive Director of the Dunes Center.

“The majority of it is preserved by sand with the original paint still intact.

 

(12) BABELFISH.  The BBC tells about “The translator that sits in your ear”.
So how does the Pilot earpiece work? It uses a sophisticated microphone array along with noise-cancelling algorithms to listen to spoken words from and around the user.

“Those words are passed to the cloud where it is processed through speech recognition, machine translation, and speech synthesis, before it is sent back to the user and anyone else whose Pilot earpiece is synced into the conversation,” explains Ochoa. “This happens within minimal delay, usually in milliseconds.”

There are a number of competitors hot on the heels of the Pilot, including Clik, Skype, and Google, which last month launched its Pixel Buds, complete with the ability to translate in real time between 40 languages. The Pilor earpiece currently works with 15 languages, but can be ugraded to translate more. But with its head start, and now its prestigious nomination, the Pilot may be a step ahead.

(13) FAKE GUARDIAN. Someone’s trying to act like the actor: “Chris Pratt alerts fans to ‘pervy imposter'”.

Guardians of the Galaxy’s Chris Pratt has taken to social media to alert his fans to a “pervy dude” who has been allegedly impersonating him online.

“Somebody is trying to pretend to be me on Facebook,” he wrote on Instagram.

The US actor claimed the “imposter” had been “apparently hitting on a lot of different female fans, trying to get their numbers and who knows what else.”

“I find this behaviour reprehensible,” he continued. “If I find out who it is I’ll have their account shut down.”

(14) MEGAFAME. I read both authors, but it felt surreal to see Lee Child and N.K. Jemisin sharing the marquee in the same article.

(15) A WARNING TO PEOPLE IN THE FUTURE.

(16) GREAT COLLECTION. John O’Neill is “Remembering Frank M. Robinson’s Legendary Pulp Collection” at Black Gate.

A complete collection of Weird Tales is a towering achievement. Weird Tales, which had chronically poor circulation, is one of the most sought-after pulps on the market, as it was the most important home of the most significant pulp writers of early fantasy, including H.P Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, and many, many others. Copies in good condition typically go for several hundred dollars each, and early issues for significantly more than that….

The 1970s might have been the last time it was possible to compile a collection like this, at least for any kind of reasonable sum. His entire collection was auctioned off while Frank was still alive by John Gunnison at Adventure House, and netted a total well north of a million dollars.

(17) ALL WET. Den of Geek goes “Diving Into The Shape of Water with Michael Shannon”, an actor who will also be in HBO’s Fahrenheit 451.

Den of Geek: Have you and Guillermo ever talked about working together before?

Michael Shannon: No, this was totally out of the blue. I didn’t know Guillermo. I was out here doing something silly, I don’t know. Maybe I was out for the indie film Spirit Awards or something and my agent said, “Guillermo del Toro wants to have lunch with you while you’re in town this weekend.” I said okay. So he came to my hotel and we sat at this table out back, and he just laid it all out. Said, “I’ve been writing this movie for a long time. I’ve been writing it with particular people in mind, and you’re one of those people. Are you interested?” And I said okay. That was it. It’s an astonishingly simple and concise story.

He said he wrote Strickland with your voice in his head. So when you got to read the character, what struck you about the character?

I thought it was funny. I thought it was a funny character. I saw a lot of humor in it. I liked the opportunity to play some uptight, confused government agent guy. I mean he’s kind of a train wreck inside, but he’s presenting this exterior of authority and competency, which is a total fabrication at the end of the day.

(18) DON’T BE SHY. In 1962 some authors didn’t want to be known for writing sf. Not much different from 2017, eh? Galactic Journey’s Victoria Silverwolf gives a rundown on the situation of half a century ago: “[DECEMBER 2, 1962] THEY CAME FROM THE MAINSTREAM (SF BOOKS NOT PUBLISHED AS SF)”.

Russian-born writer Vladimir Nabakov, best known for his controversial novel Lolita (toned down somewhat in this year’s film adaptation), creates a very unusual structure in his new book, Pale Fire.  It consists of a poem of 999 lines by an imaginary poet, followed by footnotes written by an equally fictional critic.  Read together, the poem and footnotes come together to form a plot of impersonation, exile, and murder.  What makes this a work of science fiction is the fact that it takes place in a world different from our own.  The story deals with the deposed king of the European nation of Zembla.  It takes place in an alternate version of the USA, which contains the states of Appalachia and Utana.

(19) CUISINE OF THE FUTURE. Sometimes that future doesn’t seem very far away.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]

2017 Novellapalooza

[Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews.]

By JJ: I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last couple of years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story synopsis had some appeal for me). I ended up reading 31 of the novellas published in 2015 and 35 of the novellas published in 2016 (though a few of those were after Hugo nominations closed).

Last year, the result of this was the 2016 Novellapalooza. I really felt as though I was able to do Hugo nominations for the novella category in an informed way, and a lot of Filers got involved with their own comments. So I decided to do it again this year.

The success of Tor’s novella line seems to have sparked a Golden Age for SFF novellas, with Subterranean Press, NewCon Press, PS Publishing, and Book Smugglers jumping on the bandwagon, as well as the Big 3 magazines and the online fiction venues – so there are a lot more novellas to cover this year. Toward the end, I’ve gotten to the point of being more selective about which ones I read, based on the synopsis.

It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book despite not feeling that the jacket copy makes the book sound as though it is something I would like – and to discover that I really like or love the work anyway. On the other hand, It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book in such a case, and to discover that, indeed, the book doesn’t really do much for me.

Thus, my opinions on the following novellas vary wildly: stories I thought I would love but didn’t, stories I didn’t expect to love but did, and stories which aligned with my expectations – whether high or low. Bear in mind that while I enjoy both, I tend to prefer Science Fiction over Fantasy – and that while I enjoy suspense and thrillers, I have very little appreciation for Horror (and to be honest, I think Lovecraft is way overrated). My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.

I thought it would be helpful to have a thread where all the Filers’ thoughts on novellas are collected in one place, as a resource when Hugo nomination time rolls around. Which of these novellas have you read? And what did you think of them?

Please feel free to post comments about any other 2017 novellas which you’ve read, as well.

(Be sure to rot-13 any spoilers.)

Read more…

Pixel Scroll 2/28/17 There Are No Pixels Like Scroll Pixels

(1) SF AND THE PARTY. In New Scientist Lavie Tidhar explains why “In China, this is science fiction’s golden age”.

In the 1980s, science fiction once again fell foul of the ruling party, as a new “Anti-Spiritual Pollution Campaign” emerged as a backlash to Deng Xiaoping’s modernisation and liberalisation policies. Deng’s opponents in the party railed against Western “bourgeois imports” of all kinds, and with sci-fi seeming to fall firmly in that category, it was all but wiped out for a time.

The genre’s recovery was partly led by the emergence of Science Fiction World magazine in Chengdu, and its energetic editor, Yang Xiao, herself the daughter of a prominent party member. Having such influential backing allowed Science Fiction World to bring together many young writers for an “appropriate” reason.

By the end of the century, Chinese sci-fi entered its own golden age. Although the authorities still raised the issue of literary “appropriateness”, the old restrictions had gone. One prominent contemporary sci-fi author is Han Song, a journalist at the state news agency Xinhua. Many of his works are only published outside the mainland due to their political themes, but Han is still widely recognised at home. His fiction can be dark and melancholy, envisioning, for instance, a spacefarer building tombstones to fellow astronauts, or the Beijing subway system being turned into a graveyard in which future explorers, arriving back on Earth, find themselves trapped on a fast-moving train. Along with Liu Cixin and Wang Jinkang, he is considered one of the “Three Generals” of Chinese sci-fi.

(2) SHARING THE MUSIC. The LA experimental hip-hop group Clipping, reported here the other day as seeking a Hugo nomination for their sci-fi oriented album Splendor & Misery, has raised the ante. Now they are giving away free copies to Hugo voters.

Their goal is to be nominated in the Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) category.

They are distributing free download codes via Twitter, but voters are allowed to share.

I figure it wouldn’t be fair to post it online – Clipping could have done that themselves – but i you’re a Hugo voter who’s not on Twitter and want to get the DL code, email me a mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com and I will send it to you.

(3) IMADJINN TIME. Nominations are open for the 2nd annual Imadjinn Awards given to small press and independently published authors. Authors nominate their own titles (a form Is provided at the site).  A professional jury determines the finalists and the winners. The awards will be announced Saturday, October 7 at the Imaginarium Convention in Louisville, KY. (See last year’s winners here.)

(4) GUNN THEME. A book about 2013 Worldcon guest of honor, Saving the World Through Science Fiction: James Gunn, Writer, Teacher and Scholar by Michael R. Page, has just been published by Macfarland.

One of the major figures in science fiction for more than sixty years, James Gunn has been instrumental in making the genre one of the most vibrant and engaging areas of literary scholarship. His genre history Alternate Worlds and his The Road to Science Fiction anthologies introduced countless readers to science fiction. He founded the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction in 1982. But Gunn has also been one of the genre’s leading writers. His classic novels Star Bridge (with Jack Williamson), The Joy Makers, The Immortals and The Listeners helped shape the field. Now in his nineties, he remains a prominent voice. His forthcoming novel is Transformation. Drawing on materials from Gunn’s archives and personal interviews with him, this study is the first to examine the life, career and writing of this science fiction grandmaster.

(5) CHUCK TINGLE, VOID WHERE EXHIBITED. I tell you, they can’t give this man a Nobel Prize too soon. The only delay will be thinking up a category for it.

Hugo nominated author Dr. Chuck Tingle is well known for his thoughts on love and romance, but there is another side to this revered modern philosopher that is needed now more than ever. Dispensed within this non-fiction volume is everything that you need to know about The Void, a terrifying place outside reality that is constantly overflowing with cosmic horror. Will you know what to do when The Void starts leaking into your timeline? Within Dr. Chuck Tingle’s Guide To The Void you will find multiple strategies for battling The Void, as well as survival techniques that could save your life, should you ever find yourself lost within The Void’s infinite grasp of existential dread. Most creatures of The Void are covered in detail, including Void Crabs, worms, Ted Cobbler, and The Man With No Eyes And Wieners For Hair. Also included within this guidebook is important information on Void related subjects like reverse twins, Truckman, the lake, and the call of the lonesome train. For anyone interested in the darker planes that lie just outside of The Tingleverse, this book is for you. Warning: This book includes mind-bending depictions of existential cosmic horror. Read responsibly, and stop immediately if you begin to suffer any symptoms of Void Madness.

(6) MEMORIES. Connie Willis added two new posts to her blog this month.

But certainly not to us. My family and I have known him for over forty years. He had dinner with us countless times (and especially one memorably snowed-in Thanksgiving at my grandmother’s house), taught my daughter Cordelia to hang spoons from her nose, and loved talking to my husband about science, especially on the trip to the total eclipse we took to Montana in 1979. (I feel so bad he won’t be here for this summer’s eclipse. It’ll be right in his hometown, Wheatland, Wyoming.)

He was one of my best friends, and I’d rather have talked to him than anybody. He was smart, witty, and full of fascinating stories about horror movies and urban legends and weird news articles. At our last dinner a mere two weeks ago at Cosine, an SF convention in Colorado Springs, he had all sorts of wry and insightful comments about Saturday Night Live, the movie Hidden Figures, and Donald Trump.

But he was not just a friend. He was also a mentor to me before that term even became popular. He taught me how to write, how to critique, how to find my way around the complex maze of the science fiction world without getting in trouble. He encouraged me to go to conventions, introduced me to everyone he knew (and he knew everybody from Jack Williamson to Harlan Ellison to George R.R. Martin) and got me onto panels. He even got me my first Hugo nomination by relentlessly talking me up to everybody.

  1. A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN by Betty Smith.

This book about a girl growing up in New York City in the early 1900s was loaned to me when I was ten or so, by somebody who thought I’d like it, and I adored it, even though I was probably too young to really understand it. But I totally identified with Francie, who loved to read and spent all her time in the public library. At one point, she decided to read her way alphabetically through the library, so I decided to do that, too, and discovered all sorts of books I’d never have read otherwise: Bess Streeter Aldrich’s A Lantern in Her Hand, Margery Allingham’s A Tiger in the Smoke, Peter Beagle’s A Fine and Private Place (about which more later), and Peter DeVries’s Washed in the Blood of the Lamb, which had the memorable line, “The recognition of how long, how long is the mourner’s bench upon which we sit, arms linked in undeluded friendship, all of us, brief links, ourselves, in the eternal pity.”

Unfortunately, I’d only made it through part of the D’s when I discovered science fiction and I abandoned Francie’s plan to read everything with a spaceship-and-atom symbol on the sign.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 28, 1965 Dr.  Terror’s House of Horrors premieres in North America.

(8) REFERENCE BOOKS. People are still buzzing about Sunday night’s Oscar mixup, especially those hoping to leverage social media attention by mentioning it. But librarians?

(9) ARMAGEDDON ACTOR. Heritage Auctions is auctioning celebrities’ collections in Dallas on March 18. One of the items of genre interest was owned by Bruce Willis.

Among his top offerings is a French Movie Poster from Forbidden Planet (est. $3,000). This large-format poster in French “grande” size (47 by 63 inches), from the 1956 Metro-Goldwyn film, features one of the most iconic images from the science fiction genre: Robbie the Robot carrying an unconscious beauty. All text, including the film’s title, is written in French. The poster includes a letter of authenticity signed by Willis.

 

(10) NEVER SEEN. The following week at the Vintage Movie Posters Signature Auction a rare Invisible Man poster will bring top dollar.

Perhaps one of the most impressive of all of the great Universal Studios horror posters, a terrifying, 1933 one sheet teaser poster for The Invisible Man could sell for as much as $80,000 in Heritage Auctions’ Vintage Posters Auction March 25-26 in Dallas. “Even the most advanced collectors have never seen this poster in person,” said Grey Smith, Director of Vintage Posters at Heritage Auctions. “(Artist) Karoly Grosz does a hauntingly wonderful job capturing the insanity that slowly takes hold of the film’s mad scientist. In only a few instances did, the studio produce a teaser for their horror greats but when they did they were often outstanding.”

(11) WOMEN OF LEGO The proposed “Women of NASA” LEGO set covered in last July in the Pixel Scroll has been approved for production the toy company announced today.

Design, pricing, and availability

We’re still working out the final product design, pricing and availably for the Women of NASA set, so check back on LEGO Ideas in late 2017 or early 2018 for more details.

(12) PROMO. Kameron Hurley sent supporters custom dust jackets forThe Stars Are Legion, released earlier this month.

She also has done a blog tour to promote the book. The posts are listed here.

(13) MAINTAINING HIS IMAGE. French campaigner uses tech to be in two places at once: “Holograms, mistrust and ‘fake news’ in France’s election” from the BBC.

The communications coup of the French presidential election so far goes to far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon who, with a flick of his fingers, appeared at two simultaneous rallies 350 miles apart and created more internet buzz than he could have imagined.

The technology required was nothing new – he does not have the money – but the performance was done with panache. Walking on stage in Lyon, Mr Melenchon materialised at exactly the same moment in hologram form before supporters in Paris. He then made a speech to both audiences for 90 minutes. He likes to talk.

Afterwards Mr Melenchon claimed 60,000 live followers of the event on Facebook and YouTube. Millions more in France and around the world read about the exploit afterwards and clicked online for a taster. In publicity terms it was magisterial.

(14) SHELF SPACE RACE. History of an object important to many fans.

The Billy bookcase is perhaps the archetypal Ikea product.

It was dreamed up in 1978 by an Ikea designer called Gillis Lundgren who sketched it on the back of a napkin, worried that he would forget it.

Now there are 60-odd million in the world, nearly one for every 100 people – not bad for a humble bookcase.

(15) THE ADULTS IN THE ROOM. Were Chuck Wendig and John Scalzi channeling their inner McCalmont and Glyer when they had this Twitter exchange?

(16) TERRIBLE PUN. Wish I had thought of it first….

(17) A SPACE TAIL. Spark, a teenage monkey and his friends, Chunk and Vix, are on a mission to regain Planet Bana – a kingdom overtaken by the evil overlord Zhong. Voices by Jessica Biel, Susan Sarandon, and Patrick Stewart. In theatres April 17.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, Eric Franklin, JJ, Cat Eldridge, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Karl-Johan Norén.]

Pixel Scroll 1/10/17 Just Tie A Yellow Pixel Round The Ole Scroll Tree

(1) PRIVACY. David Brin’s Chasing Shadows, a collection of short stories and essays by other science fiction luminaries, was released today.

chasing-shadows-cover

As we debate Internet privacy, revenge porn, the NSA, and Edward Snowden, cameras get smaller, faster, and more numerous. Has Orwell’s Big Brother finally come to pass? Or have we become a global society of thousands of Little Brothers–watching, judging, and reporting on one another?

Partnering with the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination, and inspired by Brin’s nonfiction book The Transparent Society, noted author and futurist David Brin and scholar Stephen Potts (UC San Diego) have compiled essays and short stories from writers such as Neal Stephenson, Bruce Sterling, Robert J. Sawyer, Aliette de Bodard, James Morrow, Ramez Naam, William Gibson, Vernor Vinge and many others to examine the benefits and pitfalls of technologic transparency in all its permutations.

Read the introduction by James Gunn and a story by Vylar Kaftan here [Tor.com].

(2) JEANETTE EPPS: She was one of MidAmeriCon II’s special NASA guests:

Next year she’ll be crewing the International Space Station:

NASA is assigning veteran astronaut Andrew Feustel and first-flight astronaut Jeanette Epps to missions aboard the International Space Station in 2018.

Feustel will launch in March 2018 for his first long-duration mission, serving as a flight engineer on Expedition 55, and later as commander of Expedition 56. Epps will become the first African American space station crew member when she launches on her first spaceflight in May 2018. She’ll join Feustel as a flight engineer on Expedition 56, and remain on board for Expedition 57.

 

(3) LIVE FREE. The UC San Diego Library is hosting a live event, Short Tales from the Mothership, on Thursday, January 19 from 7:30-8:30 p.m.in the Geisel Library’s Seuss Room. Want to participate? Send in your entry by January 17.

If you enjoy creative writing or hearing original short stories, you won’t want to miss this Flash-Fantasy-Sci-Fiction open mic event. Taken from the sci-fi aesthetics of UC San Diego’s iconic Geisel Library building, the UC San Diego Library is hosting a written/spoken word event for the campus and San Diego communities…

Writers should send fantasy or science fiction pieces of no more than 250 words to student leader Amber Gallant, at lib-adgallan@mail.ucsd.edu, prior to the live reading. Early entries are due by Tuesday, January 17. At the event you will have the opportunity to read your entry or have it read aloud for you. All are welcome to come listen to these short stories from beyond!

…Otherworldly libations from our refreshment laboratory will be served along with live theremin & synthesizer musical interludes.

This event, hosted by the UC San Diego Library in partnership with The Writing + Critical Expression Hub at the Teaching + Learning Commons, is free and open to the public.

(4) HOLDING THE FUTURE AT BAY. Although a popular image of science fiction writers is people who predict the future, Connie Willis is distraught to find one of her predictions has happened. She learned the news from this Cory Doctorow article on BoingBoing.

Two employees at the East Lake County Library created a fictional patron called Chuck Finley — entering fake driver’s license and address details into the library system — and then used the account to check out 2,361 books over nine months in 2016, in order to trick the system into believing that the books they loved were being circulated to the library’s patrons, thus rescuing the books from automated purges of low-popularity titles

Willis had a character with the same motivation in her short novel Bellwether:

[My] heroine Sandra made a practice of checking out her favorite books and the classics to keep them from being summarily discarded by the public library. I did that because I’d had a terrible experience with my own library, who I caught throwing out their entire set of Beany Malone books.

“What are you doing?” I said, horrified. “Those are by Lenora Mattingly Weber, one of Colorado’s best writers. A whole generation of girls grew up on the Beany Malone books. They’re classics.” “Nobody checked them out,” the librarian explained. “If a book hasn’t been checked out in a year, it gets discarded and put in the library book sale.”

Where if it doesn’t sell, it gets taken to the landfill, she should have added. And it doesn’t matter if the book’s a bestseller or a classic of literature. (If you don’t believe me, go to your local library and try looking for MOBY DICK. Or Thornton Wilder’s OUR TOWN. Or THREE MEN IN A BOAT.

Or a copy of Arthur Conan Doyle’s THE COMING OF THE FAIRIES, with the original photos taken of the Cottingley fairies (or some fairy paper dolls) by the little girls. My library got rid of that, too, even though it sells for upwards of eight hundred dollars on AbeBooks. “Nobody wanted to read it,” the librarian explained…..

(5) JEMISIN GOES INTO ORBIT. Good news for her readers: “Orbit Acquires Three Books by Hugo Award-Winning Author N.K. Jemisin”.

Orbit has acquired three new novels by Hugo Award-winning author N.K. Jemisin. All three will be published by Orbit in both the United States and the United Kingdom, and as audio editions by Hachette Audio.

Acquiring editor Brit Hvide said, “N. K. Jemisin is one of the most creative, incisive, and important writers working in fantasy today, and her recent Hugo win only underlines that fact. We at Orbit are proud to continue publishing Jemisin’s work and to amplify her remarkable voice.”

…The first newly-acquired book, currently untitled, will be Jemisin’s first set in our world, and is a contemporary fantasy dealing with themes of race and power in New York City. It has a projected publication date of April 2019.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born January 10, 1904 – Ray Bolger

(7) COMICS AUTHOR CHARGED. Comics/comics history writer Gerard Jones has been arrested, suspected of putting child porn on YouTube.

An accomplished San Francisco comic book and nonfiction author, who has been published in Marvel and a slew of other publications, was arrested on suspicion of possessing more than 600 child pornography files and uploading the graphic videos to YouTube, police said Friday.

Gerard Jones, 59, was arrested after a police investigation and ensuing search warrant at his residence in the 600 block of Long Bridge Street in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood turned up a host of electronic devices storing more than 600 images and videos depicting child pornography, police said.

The longtime author has written screenplays for Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox, served as a writing teacher for the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto, and put together graphic novels for both DC Comics and Marvel Comics, according to his official website.

His works include Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangster, and the Birth of the Comic Book.

(8)  CREEP FACTOR. Nerd & Tie has a well-researched post about a convention acting on its conduct policy, “Artist Scott Windorski Banned From Evercon For Harassment, Smears Event Organizer”.

Artist Scott Windorski, who vends under the name “Knotty Cobbler,” was ostensibly there to sell his wares, but began to make the rounds a few hours into the first day of the con, January 6th. As he did so, Windorski apparently began to interact with the other (mostly women) artists. For some, like Bal Flanagan, Windorski was at their booth to not only push his own wares aggressively, but made unwelcome comments that “made everyone uncomfortable.”

For others, the line was crossed even further.

Windorski approached artist Brittany Smith (who previously vended as part of PinStripes Studio and currently sells as AcuteCastle). Smith had sold art to Windorski at a previous event and he was, initially very complimentary of her work and asking for a picture with her. However, as Smith posted to the Artist Alley Network International Facebook group, Windorski followed up questions about the artist’s eczema by telling her “I would love to see you naked.”

Smith immediately put Windorski in his place, telling him that she was uncomfortable and asked him to leave…

Unfortunately, that was only the beginning.

(9) GASLIGHT LOSES SPARK. Conrunner Anastasia Hunter announces she has left the board of the group that runs San Diego’s Gaslight Gathering.

Due to irreconcilable and escalating differences between myself and members of the Board of Directors of CAASM, Inc. (Non-profit corporation that owns and oversees Gaslight Gathering), I have made the decision to resign as Chair and withdraw myself completely from their organization. A formal letter was mailed to CAASM late last week.

However, the Steampunk party we enjoy here in San Diego is far from over. I will be announcing a new project next week for those of you interested in future steampunk shenanigans!

To everyone on the Gaslight Gathering committee, thank you so very much for volunteering with me these past six years! You are the very best crew of Steampunks and con runners in town!

(10) PACKER OBIT. SF Site News reports Australian fanartist John Packer has died.

Australian fan artist John Packer died the weekend of January 7. Packer was a two-time Ditmar Award winner in 1983 and 1984. In 1983, he also won the Golden Caterpillar Award for services to “triffids” and for redefining the word “vermin.” His cartoon appeared in numerous Australian fanzines. In 1984, he stood for DUFF.

(11) DEEP TWEET. While enjoying his latest Twitter brawl, John Scalzi cut loose with a multi-level bit of snark.

At least I counted it as multi-level, coming from the author of Lock In.

(12) ART ON THE CORNER. For several years a project of the city of Glendale, CA’s arts commission has been having artists paint murals on streetside utility boxes. At the website you can see photos of them all. Many have fantasy, sf, or dinosaur imagery.

There’s a parallel effort in Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar’s district. For example, this one’s at Fletcher Avenue and San Fernando Road, photographed the other day by Tony Gleeson.

utility-box-art

Councilman Huizar’s website also has a gallery of utility box murals. (Incidentally, Councilman Huizar’s district encompasses Ray Bradbury Square — he attended the dedication in 2012.)

(13) MIMEO MANIACS. Moshe Feder reports Fanac.org has put online the video from “a fannishly famous fanzine panel from 1976’s Big MAC (MidAmericon 1) featuring moderator Linda Bushyager and panelists Victoria Vayne, Taral Wayne, Jon Singer, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Gary Farber, and yours truly… Thanks to the late Scott Imes for recording this and David Dyer-Bennet for his restoration work.”

This panel discusses what used to be the commonplace wisdom of mimeography, but today is an esoteric look at the fanzine production practices of 20th century fandom. Includes a wonderful segment early on where Jon imitates a mimeo, and a novel use for the New York Times. There is about a 20 minute period where the video is damaged, but the audio remains clear throughout.

 

[Thanks to Moshe Feder, Arnie Fenner, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 11/9/16 The Pixel Was Already Scrolling When I Lay Down On It

(1) SPIDERY MARKS. Kameron Hurley’s contribution to sanity today is this excerpt from the epilogue to The Geek Feminist Revolution.

…I have no children, and no legacy but my work— and you.

I have the power to reach back to you long after I am dead, through these spidery marks on paper or pixels, and remind you that you have a voice, you have agency, and your voice is stronger and more powerful than you could ever imagine, and long after I am gone, you can pick up this beer beside me and carry on the work we are doing now, the work we have always been doing, the work we will always do, until the world looks the way we imagine it can be.

I am a grim optimist, and this is my hope for you: that you will be louder than me, and stronger than me, and more powerful than me, and that you will look back at me as a relic, a dinosaur, as the minor villain in your own story, the rock you pushed against in your own flight to fame, to notoriety, to revolution.

That is my wish for you.

(2) SCIENCE FICTION IS A POSITIVE FORCE. Patrick Nielsen Hayden talks about “The Prospect Before Us”.

This morning, at 9:30, saw a long-planned major meeting at Tor, not quite all hands but definitely the majority of our staff plus various Macmillan-level sales and marketing managers.

It could have been better timed, obviously.

I took the opportunity to make some remarks. Here’s what I said:

Last night, I found myself very grateful that I work in science fiction.

Science fiction came into being in response to a new thing in human history: the understanding that not only was the world changing, but also that the rate of change was speeding up. That in a normal lifetime, you could expect to experience multiple episodes of rapid, disorienting change. Science fiction at its best has always been about examining and inhabiting those experiences when the world passes through a one-way door.

Modern science fiction grew up in the Great Depression and flourished in World War II. It thrived in the strangeness of the 1950s and the different strangeness of the 1960s. It has continued to be an essential set of tools for engaging with our careening world.

I don’t want to argue that reading science fiction makes us smarter or morally better. (I personally believe that, but I don’t want to argue it.) But I do believe that good storytelling is a positive force in the world. And I really do believe that science fiction and fantasy storytelling makes us, in some fundamental way, a bit more practiced in the ways of a world caught up in wrenching change—and more open to imagining better worlds that might be possible.

Bottom line: I’ve never been more convinced of the need for more good science fiction and fantasy, and I’ve never been more fired up to find it and publish it, hopefully with the help of everyone in this room. Thank you.

(3) EXPERIENCED VOICE. Here’s what George Takei has to say:

(4) 124C41+. John Scalzi didn’t predict the election, but he now predicts this outcome: “Early Morning Thoughts on the Day After”.

  1. It will be no surprise to anyone I’m unhappy with the result of this election. Donald Trump was manifestly the worst presidential candidate in living memory, an ignorant, sex-assaulting vindictive bigot, enamored of strongmen and contemptuous of the law, consorting with white nationalists and hucksters — and now he’s president-elect, which is appalling and very sad for the nation. I don’t see much good coming out of this, either in the immediate or long-term, not in the least because if he does any of the things he promises to do, his impact will be ruinous to the nation. Add to the fact that he’s the GOP candidate, and the GOP now will have the White House, Congress and will appoint the next Supreme Court justice, and, well. There aren’t any grownups in the GOP anymore, and we’re going to find out what that means for all of us.

Here are some of the things it could mean: A conservative Supreme Court for decades, backtracking on climate change, the repeal of Roe v. Wade, curtailment of free speech, loss of medical insurance to millions, tax policy that advantages the wealthy and adds trillions to the national debt, punitive racial policies, the return of torture as a part of the military toolbox, and a president who uses the apparatus of the US to go after his personal enemies. And these are only the things Trump has said he’s ready to do — we don’t know what else he will do when he’s literally the most powerful man on the planet, with a compliant legislature and judiciary.

(5) WHICH CANCER WOULD YOU LIKE? Larry Correia says he predicted cancer would win and that his prediction was correct.

As somebody who didn’t really have a horse in this race, who had to come to terms with not getting what I wanted months ago, I’ve got some comments for the rest of you. (for the record my primary vote was for Ham Sandwich, only All-You-Can-Eat-Shrimp/Colon Cancer supporters declared that was actually Canadian Bacon because they didn’t understand how the Naturalization Acts work, and his dad killed JFK)

I’m not happy Trump won, but I’m ecstatic that Hillary lost.

From what I heard this morning (haven’t looked to confirm yet, and woke up late) Trump got fewer votes than Romney, but Hillary got WAY less votes than Obama. So people decided they wanted colon cancer instead of brain cancer, but I don’t think very many of us were super enthusiastic about either. They just wanted the other crappy one to lose.

This election turned into “My authoritarian New Yorker is better than yours!” And shockingly enough, a authoritarian New Yorker won. Yay! Go cancer! I did not see a Trump victory coming (apparently, neither did any of the professional pollsters). It is a testament to the sheer, banal, corrupt, unlikable nature of Hillary that she couldn’t beat the guy they picked as the most beatable.

(6) PREDICTION FAILURES. Vox Day has written a series of triumphalist posts about Trump’s win. This one is a roundup about inaccurate polling, which people on both sides are pondering — “The hoax media”.

This is why you simply cannot believe anything they say. The final polls and estimates prior to the election.

The New York Times: 80 percent chance of Clinton victory

Huffington Post: 98.1 percent chance of Clinton victory

Nate Silver/538: 72 percent chance of Clinton victory (323 electoral votes)

Bing.com: 89.7 percent chance of Clinton victory

NBC/SM: Clinton +6

IPSOS: Clinton +4

Fox News: Clinton +4

NBC/WSJ: Clinton +4

ABC/WashPost: Clinton +4

Herald: Clinton +4

Bloomberg: Clinton +3

But this is what demonstrates how SHAMELESSLY dishonest they are: Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States. In an extremely narrow sense, I’m not that surprised by the outcome, since polling — to a greater extent than the conventional wisdom acknowledged — had shown a fairly competitive race with critical weaknesses for Clinton in the Electoral College. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, that Clinton will eventually win the popular vote as more votes come in from California. – Nate Silver Oh, shut up, Nate. You were wrong. You were wrong from the start. You were wrong about the primaries. You were wrong about the election. No one should put any faith in your erroneous models ever again. Keep in mind that Silver not only called a 72 percent chance of a Clinton victory, but actually INCREASED it from 65 percent on the day of the election. This isn’t “statistical science”; it’s not even “statistical analysis”. It is nothing more than postmortem media CYA.

(7) DON’T BOTHER, THEY’RE HERE. George R. R. Martin is not in a mood to unify the country today: “President Pussygrabber”.

Over the next four years, our problems are going to get much, much worse.

Winter is coming. I told you so.

(8) SEEING WHAT THEY EXPECT. Nancy Kress broke her usual silence on things political:

Many people will see this election through whatever lens they interpret the world. Those most concerned with misogyny will say that Clinton lost because she’s a woman. Those focusing on race will say Trump won because he’s a racist. Those for whom guns are a major concern will view Trump as their champion, Clinton as their enemy. Etc. These things may or may not be true, but I think it’s important to see Trump’s win as the complex thing it is. Even if he is misogynist, racist, vulgar, insensitive, and pro-gun (and please don’t give me your impassioned arguments on either side–I’ve heard them already), not all of those who voted for him are those things. Over half the country chose this man for president, and many are fundamentally decent people who don’t want to deport undocumented immigrants, ban Muslims, or even repeal Roe v. Wade. We on the left lost this election because something important is going on out there in the heartland, something involving feelings of exclusion and lost jobs and profound distrust of Washington, and we on the left did not realize how deep that feeling went. We were not paying sufficient attention, which is why the commentators all looked so stunned last night when the results came in. I am not moving to Canada, or Ireland, or anywhere else. This is my country. But it is Trump-supporters’ country, too, and we all need to find some way to work together. No, this is not a “can’t-we-just-get-along’ sentimental plea. It’s a statement that we had better all figure out how to not only get along, but get done the things that need doing, and without scapegoating–not Trump voters, not Muslims, not undocumented immigrants. If we don’t, then the next four years will be hell.

(9) HARI HARI. I guess you could think of it that way…

(10) DOOM. Charles Stross has this and a lot more to say in his own post carrying that popular title “The Day After”.

Trump will have to be painfully educated that the office of POTUS is not a CEO’s desk where he can rule by decree, but the head of a 400-person executive team who interact with other agencies and negotiate to get results. The hairpiece that walks like a man won’t like that. In fact, he’ll sulk, and probably retire to his golf course and leave running the USA to Vice President Pence, a man who seems to think that The Handmaid’s Tale was a road map rather than a dystopia, and the likes of Rudy Giuliani (about whom the less said, the better). It’ll be four years of the ugly old white male phobes running the federal government, and only the huge inertia built into the system of checks and balances will prevent it from being a total fright-fest as opposed to a major throwback fright-fest. In the mid-terms of 2018 the Democrats will pick up votes and hopefully re-take the Senate, which will put a brake on Trump … and in 2020, who knows?

But this may not happen, because the airliner of reality which we all ride in has flown straight into a flock of migrating black swans, both engines have flamed out, and that’s not the Hudson River down below. (Also? We now have Donald Trump at the controls.)

I’m calling it for the next global financial crisis to hit before the 2018 mid-terms. Neither Trump nor Pence are far-sighted enough to realize that the USA is not a corporation and can’t be run like one, and that on the macro scale economics is difficult and different from anything they have any experience of. They will, to put it bluntly, screw the pooch—aided by the gibbering chorus of Brexiteers across the pond, who are desperately trying to ensure that the British economy and banking sector commit seppuku in the name of limiting immigration. We’ve already seen Sterling crash, and continue to crash; what happens when the Dollar joins it? Quantitative easing can only stretch so far before we break out in hyperinflation due to basic commodities getting scarce (as witness the 5-20% food price inflation working its way through the UK’s supply chain in defiance of the structural deflationary regime enforced by the supermarkets for the past two decades).

(11) A VOTE AGAINST. David Gerrold has posted a double-handful of responses to the election at Facebook; here’s one.

I feel betrayed.

I used to believe in the good sense and collective wisdom of the American people.

I can’t do that anymore.

A majority of American voters have just declared that they do not care about the rights of Muslims, immigrants, Latinos, LGBT people, women, seniors, the disabled, and so many others. A majority of Americans voted against common human kindness.

I feel betrayed — but if there is a betrayal, it has to be my own, for believing that we were a nation of compassionate and thoughtful people. Apparently, we are not.

… If we truly believe in this thing called “The United States of America” — if we truly believe in the essential strength of our Constitutional processes, then we have no choice but to get to work.

I don’t know what we have to do or how we will have to do it. I do know that we will be facing dire political circumstances. Ahead of us is a decade of frustrating hard work. …

(12) STAY AND FIGHT. Gardner Dozois isn’t leaving the country—but then, who is, really?

Let me make one thing clear, though. I see a lot of my Friends on Facebook talking seriously, more seriously than the half-joking way this is usually mentioned, of moving to Canada. I’m not moving to Canada. This is my country, and I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to stay here and fight, and do anything that I possibly can, even if it’s only to encourage others, to stay right here and work as hard as possible to make things as much better as we can.

For those of you who supported Hillary, or at least DIDN’T support Trump–which, after all, included very nearly half of the people in the country–don’t give into despair. Don’t give up. The fight is far from over, and there are many things on all levels that can still be done. One possibility is that, in one of the great historical ironies, the Democrats and the Republicans may end up switching roles, with the Democrats becoming the “obstructionists” in Congress and trying to keep the Republicans from undoing as much as possible of the gains set in place for the last eight years;…

(13) COMEDY TONIGHT. Meanwhile, back at the bookstore… Gary K. Wolfe reviews Connie Willis’s new novel Crosstalk for Locus Online.

So while the characters and their relationships follow a familiar rom-com pattern, there’s also a fair amount of acerbic commentary on a society already overwired and overconnected, but which seems to want to get even more overwired and overconnected. The two SF elements crucial to this commentary, and in fact the only real SF elements in the book, are a new minor brain procedure called EED, which purportedly allows a couple already emotionally bonded to become super-empathetic with each other – and telepathy.

(14) WIL BADEN OBIT. Condolences to Chaz Boston Baden on the loss of his father,  Wil Baden (1928-2016) who died today. Chaz wrote a long post about his life:

This is the man who, as a boy, lived in Hollywood and was an extra in a crowd scene in an “Our Gang” episode about a birthday party.

This is the man whose father took him to the World Science Fiction Convention, in 1939.

He took the bus to visit John W. Campbell Jr. at Astounding Science Fiction magazine’s offices. While at Princeton University, he had tea with Albert Einstein. (Which wasn’t unusual at the time, all the incoming freshmen did.)

He was always good with languages. One day, a man from the government asked the head of the languages department if he could be introduced to the students who were especially good with the following languages? Which is how he ended up spending a summer translating Russian mathematics papers.

(15) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born November 9, 1951 — Lou Ferrigno (TV’s Incredible Hulk).

(16) PRO TIPS. SFWA’s Nebula Suggested Reading List is growing as the year winds down.

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