Review: Terror at the Crossroads – Tales of Horror, Delusion, and the Unknown, edited by Emily Hockaday and Jackie Sherbow


By Cora Buhlert: As a reader and writer, I like stories that cross genre boundaries. Therefore, the anthology Terror at the Crossroads – Tales of Horror, Delusion, and the Unknown sounded like something right up my alley.

Editors Emily Hockaday and Jackie Sherbow have combed the pages of Dell’s stable of fiction magazines, i.e. Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Asimov’s Science Fiction and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and assembled a wide range of stories that sit at the intersection between mystery and crime fiction on the one hand and science fiction, fantasy and horror on the other. All stories were originally published between 2010 and 2017.

Now I am somewhat familiar with Analog and Asimov’s, though I’m not a regular reader of either magazine due to the difficulties of getting hold of them in Germany. Alfred Hitchcock’s and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, however, were completely unfamiliar to me. I know that they exist, but I have never read a single issue of either mag. That said, I am an avid reader of short mystery fiction, albeit mostly in German. And in Germany, the genre we call “Krimi” is a lot broader than the US mystery genre and encompasses not just mysteries, but also crime fiction, thrillers, suspense and noir. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised that the stories in this anthology that originated in the two mystery magazines were a lot more varied and experimental than the rather narrow definition of “mystery” in the US sense as “a story about an investigator solving a crime, usually a murder” would suggest.

Quite the contrary, traditional whodunnits were definitely in the minority, even among the stories that originated in the two mystery mags. “Monsieur Alice is Absent” by Stephen Ross, in which a young trainee teacher suspects her more experienced colleague may be a serial killer and sets out to prove it, is probably the closest this anthology gets to a traditional murder mystery. Meanwhile, “Exposure” by A.J. Wright might have been a classic whodunnit under different circumstances. After all, there is a murder, linked to another unexplained death decades ago, and there even is a massive red herring. But instead of following the investigator as they solve the case, we view the events through the eyes of a teenager who is connected to both the victim, the murderer and the unexplained death that links them.

Other stories fall under the broader crime fiction umbrella and tell how and why a crime was committed. The best of these is probably “The Widow Cleans House” by Jason Half, which tells the story of failing relationship, where the fact that a crime was committed only becomes clear at the very end. In fact, most of the crime stories in this anthology involve murders committed inside families and relationships. Other examples are “Pisan Zapra” by Josh Pachter, “Alive, Alive-Oh!” by O.A. Tynan and the above mentioned “Exposure” by A.J. Wright. Coincidentally, all of these stories are straight crime fiction without any speculative elements.

There also are a number of supernatural crime stories such as such Zandra Renwick’s “A Good Thing and a Right Thing”, where a psychic at an archaeological dig witnesses a centuries old crime. In Barbara Nadel’s “Nain Rouge”, a man hunts a folkloristic imp across the ruined cityscape of Detroit. The conclusion is truly chilling, in more ways than one. Meanwhile, Kathy Lynn Emerson’s “Lady Appleton and the Creature of the Night” is a delightful murder mystery turned werewolf tale set in Elizabethan England. Kit Reed’s fine story “The Outside Event” starts off as a pointed look at the cutthroat rivalry at an exclusive writing retreat, where the narrator’s fellow writers mysteriously vanish, and then turns into a tale of gothic horror halfway through. And in some stories such as Tara Laskowski’s “The Monitor”, a meditation on the stress and fears of new motherhood and the ambiguous feelings of a woman towards her newborn child, there is no crime at all, just a pervading sense of dread.

As might be assumed from an anthology drawn from such a broad range of sources, the settings of the stories vary widely in time and space from Viking Greenland and Elizabethan England via several contemporary or near contemporary Earth settings to a nameless planet in the far future. Even the contemporary and near future Earth stories don’t all share the same familiar US/UK settings. No, there are also stories set in Canada, Ireland, France, Spain, Greenland, Turkey, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. Though only one story, “Still Life No. 41” by Catalan author Teresa Solana, was originally penned in a language other than English.

It’s also notable that many of the stories set outside the English-speaking world nonetheless feature British or American protagonists. What is more, a few of these stories carry an unpleasant whiff of colonialism. In some cases, this is intentional such as with Josh Pachter’s “Pisan Zapra”, which traces the revenge of an expat woman in Malaysia on her cheating husband. Hereby, Pachter manages to capture a certain type of self-centred western expat in South East Asia, for whom the locals are invisible except as servants or lovers, very well. At any rate, the story immediately reminded me of the time I spent in Singapore as a young girl. And yes, the bored expats holed up in their country clubs are just as unpleasant in real life as they are in this story, though the expat wives I encountered never resorted to murder (and neither did their husbands), but instead came crying to my mother about their wayward husbands.

On the other end of the scale is “The Empty Space” by Kurt Bachard, a story about a trio of selfish English people visiting a Turkey that is pure Orientalist cliché and seemingly populated only by fakirs and dancing girls. If not for a brief mention of air travel, the story might just as well have been set in the days of the Ottoman Empire, though the depiction of Turkey would have been a cliché even then. The protagonists of “The Empty Space” are so unpleasant (and not deliberately as in “Pisan Zapra”) that you do not care when something awful happens to one of them.

In fact, self-absorbed, whiny and downright unpleasant protagonists are a problem with several of the stories. Examples include “The Empty Space” as well as Teresa Solana’s “Still Life No. 41”, whose museum curator protagonist comes across as a spoiled brat who only cares about her career, even in the face of a dead body appearing in the very museum where she is working. “Alive, Alive-Oh!” by O.A. Tynan features a failed writer  as the protagonist, who is not only a stereotypical entitled white man, but who also literally gets away with murder and is subsequently rewarded with an adoring girlfriend and the second bestseller he craves. The story might work, if it were satire, but I fear it isn’t. “Notes Towards a Novel of Love in the Dog Park” by Louis Bayard is another story with an unlikable writer protagonist (in fact, entitled writer and artists are something of a theme in this anthology), who has nothing better to do than stalk a random couple she sees in the park and plot revenge upon them when it turns out that they are not what she wants them to be.

Quite a few of the stories in this anthology use unusual narrative structures and experiments with form. Megan Arkenberg’s “Final Exam” is a clever story which recounts the intertwined stories of a failing marriage and an invasion by shambling Lovecraftian horrors in the form of a multiple-choice test. The amusing “Lonely Hearts of the Spinward Ring” by Paddy Kelly is told in personal ads, while David Brin’s “Crysalis” is a collage of laboratory reports, interview snippets and literary quotes. Meanwhile, Louis Bayard’s “Notes Towards a Novel of Love in the Dog Park” takes the form of a writer’s brainstorming notes. And Kit Reed’s “The Outside Event”, yet another story with a writer protagonist, combines snippets from the writer’s unfinished novel with messages sent to her boyfriend and confessional tapes in the style of certain reality shows to tell a story of gothic horror at an exclusive writing retreat.

But the best of the stories that experiment with form is Will McIntosh’s “Over There”. The premise is that three graduate students of physics conduct an experiment and manage to split reality in two. From the moment of the split on, the story continues in two columns which recount events “over here” and “over there”. Eventually, both strands combine again for the devastating conclusion. “Over There” is not a pleasant story at all and the ending is a true gut punch, but it’s probably the strongest story in this anthology. At any rate, it’s the one that stayed with me the longest.

Another unsettling story that crosses over into horror territory is “The Deer Girl Hitches a Ride” by Seth Frost, a disturbing road trip across a post-apocalyptic America, where the titular deer girl is not the strangest or most terrifying thing the protagonist encounters. Meanwhile, Rachel L. Bowden’s “The Persistence of Memory” follows two outsiders on the cusp of adolescence in a story that feels very reminiscent of Stephen King’s “The Body”. There is a science fictional twist as well – after all, this is an Analog story – but it feels tacked on.

As always with such anthologies, there are some stories that just don’t work. Sadly, most of them are science fiction. One example is “Day 29” by Chris Beckett. The story is chock full of great ideas and fascinating worldbuilding details, but eventually goes nowhere and even wimps out of a dark turn of events that seems to have been set up previously.

Meanwhile, David Brin’s “Chrysalis” is  exactly the sort of story that gives hard science fiction a bad name. It’s basically a biology lecture, complete with cardboard thin characters and jargon-laden “As you know, Bob…” infodumps, in search of a plot. When it finally finds one, the plot is a hoary old “Thou shalt not mess with things man was not meant to know” chestnut that has been with our genre since Frankenstein. Alex Nevala-Lee’s “Cryptids” is better at combining biology and fiction, though in the end the story is still too long and once again turns out to hinge on a very old genre trope indeed, in this case the idea that prehistoric animals have somehow managed to survive in secluded parts of the world.

All in all, this anthology is a mixed bag with some excellent stories, plenty of mediocre ones and a handful of truly bad ones. If you like both science fiction, fantasy and horror as well as mystery and crime fiction and stories that combine those genres, you’re sure to find something to enjoy here.


Cora Buhlert is a teacher, writer, translator, and reviewer living in Bremen, Germany, the city where she was born. She has a Master’s Degree in English, and has taught English linguistics, technical English, and high school English to German students, in addition to performing translations of technical documents. The author of speculative fiction, crime fiction, romance, poetry, and nonfiction, she blogs about her own and others’ works at her website.

Pixel Scroll 11/25/18 The Oldest Established Permanent Floating (Pixel Scroll) In A City With Two Names Twice

(1) BOOKSHELF ART. An amazing idea – “Clever Wooden Bookends Mimic Tokyo’s Narrow Back Alleys Lit Up at Night” at My Modern Met.

Based in Tokyo, Japanese designer monde has created a new category of art and design—bookshelf dioramas. His wood inserts transform ordinary bookshelves into something magical and bring the feel of a Japanese back alley into your home. Monde’s “back alley bookshelves” first caused a stir when the designer debuted them at the arts and crafts event Design Festa.

…Inspired by Tokyo, his work carefully mirrors the dizzying feeling of wandering the city’s back alleys. Monde has been working on the project for two years, using different materials to create the look and feel of the city. He’s even added lights to some models, which give a soft glow that emanates from the bookshelf. This newer model is also sized perfectly to sit between paperback novels.

 

(2) KGB. Ellen Datlow has posted her photos from the Fantastic Fiction at KGB Readings for November 19:

Cat Rambo and Leanna Renee Hieber read from their recent or forthcoming novels to a surprisingly almost full house (surprisingly, because it was Thanksgiving Eve and we were worried no one would show up).

(3) DIVE INTO FANZINES. The Science Fiction Fanzine Reader: Focal Points 1930-1960 edited by Luis Ortiz includes more than fifty articles and many illustrations by most of the major fan writers of the period. It’s available from Nonstop Press. The Table of Contents is in the Fancyclopedia. I pre-ordered a copy today.

(4) BRACKETT. Cinephilia prefaces “Leigh Brackett: A Terrific Writer Ahead of Her Time just as She Was Ahead of Her Colleagues”, its repost of Starlog’s 1974 interview, with this introduction:

The name Leigh Brackett, already surely familiar to every true fan of the literary genre of science fiction, is a name that should be celebrated by every film lover as well. Born exactly 101 years ago and often referred to as The Queen of Space Opera, she started writing and publishing her stories in various science ficiton pulp magazines at the beginning of the 1940s and soon established herself as one of the leading representatives of the space opera subgenre, but continued to work in various different genres with equal skill and success. Her 1944 novel ‘No Good from a Corpse,’ a hard-boiled mystery novel in the style of Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett, not only introduced her to a wider audience, but steered her career towards the movie business, another field where she would become a prominent figure. Howard Hawks was so impressed by this novel that he asked his assistant to call “this guy Brackett.” In fact, this statement basically sums up the challenges and obstacles Brackett had to face on her way to becoming one of the most important writers of the century. She succeeded at distinguishing herself as a highly competent, original and strong voice in a field practically reserved for men, and in the early stages of her career she had to put up with a lot of skepticism and outright criticism for being a female writer of science fiction. Moreover, the nickname The Queen of Space Opera was mostly used as a degrading term, not a compliment: the subgenre she found most interesting and inspiring was then regarded as a lesser form of writing, some sort of an ugly child of science fiction and fantasy. But she stuck with it, defended it, becoming its champion and claiming science fiction should never be put into drawers and confined with labels.

(5) WFC GOHS. Jim C. Hines, in “World Fantasy Con Guest of Honor Policies”, presents data and analysis that show an inconsistent record when it comes to certain criteria that supposedly govern WFC GoH choices, criteria used to explain the lack of PoC among them.

There’s a lot to unpack in the full letter, but I wanted to focus on this particular idea, that guests of honor had to have decades of experience in the field. So I went through the list of WFC guests of honor and pulled together the year of the con and the year of the guest’s first published book. It’s not a perfect way to measure years in the field, but I think it works pretty well….

…The WFC Board said, “Convention committees select Special Guests and especially Guests of Honor in order to recognize and pay tribute to their body of work within the genre over a significant period of time, usually consisting of decades in the field.” I’ve seen others, people not necessarily affiliated with the con, argue that WFC author guests of honor should have at least 30 years in the field.

The latter is obviously untrue. Only a quarter of all guests have been active SF/F professionals for three decades or more.

(6) MY GOD, IT’S FULL OF FLOPPIES. The Verge reminds us what we probably should have already known had we thought about it, “The International Space Station is full of floppy disks”.

The International Space Station is apparently in need of a garage sale. European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst, currently in residence up in, well, space, discovered a treasure trove of floppy disks tucked away in one of the lockers on-board.

The ISS recently celebrated its 20th anniversary on November 20th. As spotted by CNET,Gerst tweeted a picture of his ancient tech find, adding “I found a locker on the @Space_Station that probably hasn’t been opened for a while.” In addition to a Norton’s Utilities for Windows 95 / 98, the folder also includes a few disks labeled “Crew Personal Support Data Disk.” The most likely candidates for who they refer to are former astronauts William Shepherd and Sergei Krikalev, who were notable crew members in 2000 during the first manned ISS mission, Expedition 1.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • November 25, 1920 – Ricardo Montalban, Actor who became famous to genre fans for reprising his original Star Trek series role as the “genetically-superior” Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. But do you remember that he played the circus owner Armando, who saves Corneilius and Zira’s son Caesar, in the Escape and Conquest versions of Planet of the Apes? He also played two different characters in episodes of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., had a part in an episode of Mission: Impossible, and appeared in the pilot episode for Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman series in 1974. His last roles included playing the grandfather in Spy Kids 2 and 3, and as character voices in animated series, among them the villain Vartkes on Buzz Lightyear of Star Command and as a cow on Family Guy. (Died 2009.)
  • November 25, 1926 – Poul Anderson, Writer whose first genre works were published in Astounding while he was at university. After getting a degree in physics – with honors – instead of pursuing that profession, he continued to write stories for the early magazines, and later standalone novels. My favorite ones by him? Orion Shall Rise, for the mix of personal scale story with his usual grand political themes, and all of the Flandry stories, though they can often be sexist, are quite fun. His works won numerous Hugo and Nebula Awards, he was Guest of Honor at the 1959 Worldcon, and he was named SFWA Grand Master and inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. (Died 2001.)
  • November 25, 1926 – Jeffrey Hunter, Actor best known for his 1965 role as Captain Christopher Pike in the original pilot episode of Star Trek, which was later framed into the Hugo Award-winning two-part episode “The Menagerie”. Other genre work included Dimension 5, A Witch Without A Broom, Strange Portrait (never released, and no print exists), The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Journey into Fear, and The Green Hornet. On the afternoon of May 26, 1969, he fell and suffered a skull fracture while at home and, despite surgical intervention, died the following morning at age 42.
  • November 25, 1930 – Jacqueline Simpson, 88, Writer and Research of folklore and legends. Consider that any reasonably-long fiction series creates its own history and folklore over the time that series unfolds. Now consider Jacqueline Simpson, a British folklorist who met Terry Pratchett at a book signing one day, and was able to answer at length his query about how many magpie rhymes she knew. This started a friendship which led to The Folklore of Discworld: Legends, Myths and Customs from the Discworld with Helpful Hints from Planet Earth. It lovingly details the folklore of the Discworld novels, and draws parallels with Earth’s folklore, particularly the British folklore Pratchett used. Nice!
  • November 25, 1951 – Charlaine Harris, 67, Writer of more than 30 novels in her interlinked metaverse, the most well-known probably being the massively-popular Sookie Stackhouse series, which was made into the TV series True Blood, and the Midnight, Texas trilogy, which is currently a TV series of the same name. She received a Compton Crook Award nomination for her debut novel, the first in the Stackhouse series, and the first volume of the Cemetery Girl graphic novel series, The Pretenders, earned her and co-author Christopher Golden a World Fantasy Award nomination.
  • November 25, 1953Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey, 65, Bookseller, Civil Service Employee, Writer, Editor, Fan, and Filer, who is best known in fandom for always appearing in ensembles which are entirely in shades of orange. He has been a member of Nashville and Milwaukee fandom clubs and the Society for Creative Anachronism, as well as producing his own fanzine, Vojo de Vivo, and participating in APAs. He has attended every single Chattacon – 43 at last count! – and more than 40 Wiscons, and was Fan Guest of Honor at ICon 25. He was a TAFF candidate in 2003, and is a candidate again this year to travel to the Dublin Worldcon. He and fan C. Kay Hinchliffe were married at X-Con 5 in 1981, and their child Kelly is a fan writer and artist as well.
  • November 25, 1974 – Sarah Monette, 44, Writer who was a Campbell finalist two years in a row, based on the strength of the first two novels in her Doctrine of Labyrinths series, Mélusine and The Virtu, which are quite wonderful and feature a magician and a thief in magical realism setting. I’m hard to impress, but this impressed me: under the pen name of Katherine Addison, she published The Goblin Emperor, which garnered the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel and was nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards. Damn, that’s good! She won the Spectrum Award in 2003 for her short story “Three Letters from the Queen of Elfland”. I also highly recommend the Iskryne series, which she co-wrote with Elizabeth Bear. The Bone Key is a collection of all but the most recent short works in The Necromantic Mysteries of Kyle Murchison Booth, about a paranormal investigator.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) FIRST SCOTTISH SFF BOOK FESTIVAL. Happens in June, and The Herald says there hasn’t been one before — “Scotland’s first book festival dedicated to fantasy, science fiction and horror is launched”.

The Cymera festival is to launch next year in Edinburgh, and will run for three days in June.

Scotland already has successful book festivals that feature various genres, including the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Glasgow‘s Aye Write! and the Wigtown Book Festival, while Bloody Scotland, in Stirling, is firmly established as a leading crime writing festival.

Cymera, to be staged at the Pleasance venue in Edinburgh, hopes to do the same for the popular fantastical genres.

The full line up for the festival is to be announced in the new year, but so far writers inlcuding Samantha Shannon, author of the Bone Season series, Ken MacLeod, the noted Scottish sci-fi writer, Charles Stross, the prolific horror writer, and Claire McFall and Cassandra Khaw have been confirmed as attendees.

(10) BACK TO MEOW. George R.R. Martin wears his braces of death for the photo that adorns the print edition of his LA Times interview, unfortunately they didn’t use it in the online version — “Why ‘Game of Thrones’ scribe George R.R. Martin took a chance on Meow Wolf”.

What led famed “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin to invest millions of dollars in the Santa Fe-based art collective Meow Wolf was his intuition….

Investing in Meow Wolf was a generous gesture, but while money can be a great facilitator, it can also have a corrosive effect on art.

There’s a danger that you can lose your soul or you can lose the thing that inspired you to start. But Meow Wolf hasn’t done that. What’s it going to be 20 years from now? I don’t know. We’ll have to see. You can go online and you’ll read a lot of good press about Meow Wolf, but you will also come across certain sites or reviews that are basically, “Well, it’s OK. It’s fun, but it’s not art,” from people who have a very narrow view of what art is.

(11) THE BLACK SCREEN OF DEATH. At Galactic Journey, Cora Buhlert tells about the West German reaction to the Kennedy assassination in “[November 24, 1963] Mourning on two continents”.

Like most West Germans, news of the terrible events in Dallas reached me at home, just settling onto the sofa for an evening of TV. Like some ninety percent of West German television owners, I had my set tuned to the eight o’clock evening news tagesschau. But instead of the familiar tagesschau fanfare, the screen remained dark for a minute or two, something which has never happened before in the eleven years the program has been on the air. When the image finally returned, the visibly shaken news anchor Karl-Heinz Köpcke reported that John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas, and was rushed to hospital. By the end of the program, we knew that Kennedy had not survived….

(12) PROVENANCE. Somebody reading this would probably like to own an autographed copy of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 that used to belong to Hugh Hefner. Here’s your chance.

A signed and inscribed copy of the 40th Anniversary Edition of Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993). Together with an illustrated edition from 1982 in a slipcover case.

Larger, 11 by 7 1/4 inches

PROVENANCE From the Collection of Hugh M. Hefner

(13) THAT’S SOME JOHNSON. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The DorkSideOfTheForce wonders, “Obi-Wan spin-off movie is apparently happening?” Well, according to a speech by British politician Boris Johnson to Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, it is. In one snippet, he said:

We have more Nobel prizes from one Cambridge college than from Russia and china combined. By far the most dynamic creative culture and media industries. Which was the biggest grossing movie last year? Star Wars and where does George Lucas propose to make a follow up about Obi-Wan Kenobi? Northern Ireland.

But what is the name of the weapon wielded by Obi-Wan. The glowing throbbing rod with its enigmatic hum. A light sabre – and where did they make the first light sabre?

Apparently this is somehow part of his anti-Theresa May but pro-Brexit reasoning.

(14) WATER WORLD? A new paper in The Astrophysical Journal (“Evolved Climates and Observational Discriminants for the TRAPPIST-1 Planetary System”) strikes a more optimistic tone than several past articles about the chances for liquid water on at least one of the TRAPPIST-1 planets. As the popsci review at BGR.com (“One of the TRAPPIST-1 exoplanets might have an ocean, researchers now say”) puts it:

Ever since astronomers announced the discovery of seven exoplanets around the star called TRAPPIST-1, researchers have been diving into the data in an attempt to determine what the planets are like. Early on, the prospects for potentially habitable worlds seemed good, but subsequent models suggested that the star at the heart of the system may have burned off any atmosphere the planets once had.

Now, a new study claims to offer a slightly more optimistic scenario that gives at least one of the planets, TRAPPIST-1e, the chance at sustaining an ocean on its surface. The research was published in The Astrophysical Journal.

The TRAPPIST-1 system is incredibly special because it’s packed with seven planets, and three of them are near what we consider to be the habitable zone of the central star. However, scientists think the star had an extremely intense early phase that would likely have scorched the planets, stripping their atmosphere and moisture away long ago.

In studying each of the individual planets, the fourth most distant from the star caught the attention of scientists. Using advanced models to predict the fate of each world, the research team arrived at the conclusion that TRAPPIST-1e may have escaped the fate of its peers and could still support an ocean on its surface.

(15) FREE READ. Motherboard.com has posted a short story (“In the Forests of Memory,” E. Lily Yu) free on their site. A note from the editor says:

Especially after a week given to celebrating a holiday of thanks and remembrance, perhaps it is worth thinking about who gets remembered and why. Here, the great E. Lily Yu imagines a future where cemeteries have been upgraded, but so many other things have not. Enjoy

(16) FOCUS ON THE WILD. BBC brings you the winners of “The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2018”.

A shocked squirrel has scooped the overall prize in this year’s Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.

Out of thousands of entries from around the world, Mary McGowan, from Tampa, Florida, won the overall prize with her photo titled Caught in the Act.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Bill, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, 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 9/22/18 I’ll Scroll You Nine-O, Bright Glow The Pixels, Oh

(1) KBOARDS RIGHTS GRAB. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] KBoards is a forum for e-reader owners which eventually developed a vibrant self-publishing subforum. The owner died approximately a year ago, and now his widow has sold the forum to a company called VerticalScope, which first plastered the forum with problematic ads and then tried to sneak in a Terms of Service with a massive rights grab. The self-published authors are up in arms, an employee of VerticalScope made things worse and now the forum is imploding.

There is a post about the issue at the publishing blog The Passive Voice: “Dumpster Fire at Kboards?” It quotes from the new Terms of Service –

…PG hasn’t had a chance to comb through this document in detail, but a quick scan revealed the following interesting (at least to PG) provisions. VerticalScope doesn’t include paragraph numbers, so if you want to see any of this in context, you’ll need to do a word search. Other than the section headings, emphasis is PG’s:

…You agree to grant to KBOARDS.COM a non exclusive, royalty free, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual license to reproduce, distribute, transmit, sublicense, create derivative works of, publicly display, publish and perform any materials and other information you submit to any public areas, chat rooms, bulletin boards, newsgroups or forums of KBOARDS.COM or which you provide by email or any other means to KBOARDS.COM and in any media now known or hereafter developed. Further, you grant to KBOARDS.COM the right to use your name and or user name in connection with the submitted materials and other information as well as in connection with all advertising, marketing and promotional material related thereto, together with use on any other VerticalScope Inc. web sites. You agree that you shall have no recourse against VerticalScope Inc. for any alleged or actual infringement or misappropriation of any proprietary right in your communications to KBOARDS.COM….

Here is a post from Julie Ann Dawson, horror writer and editor of Bards and Sages Quarterly: “VerticalScope’s Overreaching TOS”

For over nine years, I have been a member of a site called Kboards.com. Many of you, in fact, may recall me directing folks to the site, particularly the Writer’s Café, for support and guidance on all things indie publishing. Over the years, the site has attracted some of the smartest, most successful indie authors in the industry. And I have always been happy to be a part of it.

Until now. In August, the site was sold to a company called VerticalScope. It was recently discovered that the new owners made significant changes to the site’s terms of service without notifying members….

Here is more from Julie Ann Dawson: “Selling Forum Users: What the VerticalScope TOS Allows”

… My first instinct was that really wasn’t my concern, and I started explaining to him my concerns regarding the use of my name and such.

“Julie, stop thinking like a writer and start thinking like a black hatter.”

He then told me about an incident on a graphic designer forum he used to frequent. The site was sold (he didn’t remember to who and I’m not saying it was VerticalScope), but with the exception of more ads nothing really changed. It wasn’t until one day he was Googling a topic that had been discussed on the forum that he came across a post of his on a different forum. At first, he thought maybe someone had quoted him and that the topic was being discussed on this other forum, but when he read the link he found several posts that were verbatim from topics on the graphic designer forum. Apparently, a bot had lifted the comments from the forum he frequented and other forums and reposted them on a new forum under a new username.

See, apparently you can buy forum posters, just like you can buy Twitter or Facebook followers….

Here is a post from paranormal romance author Marilyn Vix: “The Death of Kboards.Com: My Indie Publishing Home Implodes”

… IT IS A SCARY SITUATION for CREATIVES! I have never seen anything like this. There are many people that have visited the board, including top Indie authors, like Hugh Howey and Jasinda Wilder, that have made Kboards.com home in the past. So, the legal repercussions are astounding. Plus, many EU citizens on the board are already exerting their GDPR rights, but many Canadian, US and Australian citizens are left trying to figure how to sort through this downward spiral of our online home.

I cannot even put into words how I am feeling–almost. Because there is one word coming to mind awfully clearly–betrayed. More comes to mind like trying to say the sale date of the board was in May, but the announcement was made in August this year. The new owners and their scathing disregard for the intelligence and knowledge of the Kboard users, and the utter jumping of ship of many of my good friends I’ve known for years is the reality of what has happened. The shock is disappearing, and the dust is settling. Writers are leaving Kboards and the Writer’s I in troves. And this makes me ultimately sad….

(2) NEBULA READING LIST. SFWA members have added a large number of titles to the “Nebula Reading List”.

The Nebula Awards Suggested Reading List is produced through the collaborative effort of SFWA’s 1800+ members, with new listings appearing as members make recommendations. For this reason, works are occasionally introduced in error and may later be corrected or removed from the list if deemed ineligible by the Nebula Awards Commissioner. The list is provided to the public as a service in finding the year’s most noteworthy fantasy and science fiction works.

Please note this list is not the preliminary ballot or nomination tally and does not affect the Nebula Award nominations or final results in any way.

(3) HELP FOR WRITERS. SFWA’s Information Center is open to all. Sixteen linked articles on the main post alone!

(4) ANOTHER TRADEMARK NOPE. The Cockybot is on the job…

(5) TITLE SEARCH. Ursula Vernon received helpful suggestions in response to this tweet, whether she really wanted them or not….

(6) WRITING EXCUSES BY LAND AND SEA. Amal El-Mohtar and her mother planned to fly together to attend the Writing Excuses cruise until TSA created a problem. Thread starts here.

The Writing Excuses crew had a workaround ready. Thread starts here.

(7) GETTING READY FOR SPACE. In “The Next Great Leap” in the Financial Times, Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees suggests that humans preparing to explore space will have to have substantial genetic and biological modifications if they are going to survive. (No link because it’s behind a paywall.)

The space environment is inherently hostile for humans.  So because they will be ill-adapted to their new habitat, the pioneer explorers will have a more compelling inventive than those of us on Earth to redesign themselves.  They’ll have to harness the super-powerful genetic and cyborg technologies that will be developed in coming decades.  Those techniques will, one hopes, be heavily regulated on Earth, on prudential and ethical grounds, but ‘settlers’ on Mars will be far beyond the clutches of the regulators.  We should wish them good luck in modifying their progeny to adapt to alien environments.  This might be the first step for divergence into a new species.  Genetic modification would be supplemented by cyborg technology–indeed there may be a transition to fully inorganic intelligences.  So it is these spacefaring adventurers, not those of us comfortably adapted to life on Earth, who will spearhead the post-human era.

(8) CRUISE NIGHT. In this clip from Colbert’s show, Stephen and Neil deGrasse Tyson take NASA’s Mars Rover for a ride around Midtown Manhattan.

(9) TODAY’S DAY.

  • September 22  — Hobbit Day, sponsored by the American Tolkien Society.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 22, 1973 – The Harlan Ellison conceived, Canadian-produced, sci-fi series The Starlost aired its first episode.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born September 22, 1971 – Elizabeth Bear, 47, Writer. Her first series was a superb trilogy, which might be considered cyberpunk, centered on a character named Jenny Casey. She’s a very prolific writer;  I’m fond of her Promethean Age, New Amsterdam and Karen Memory series.  She won a John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, a Hugo Award for Best Short Story for “Tideline”, and a Hugo Award for Best Novelette for “Shoggoths in Bloom”. One of only five writers to win multiple Hugo Awards for fiction after winning the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer! Very impressive indeed! It is worth noting that she was one of the regular panelists on now sadly defunct podcast SF Squeecast, which won the 2012 and 2013 Hugo Awards for “Best Fancast”.
  • Born September 22, 1946 – John Woo, 72, Director. His genre films include Mission Impossible II, Face/Off, and the Philip K. Dick-written Paycheck (which JJ loved, even if no one else did).
  • Born September 22, 1952 – Paul Kincaid, 66, Writer, Editor, and Critic. He was the chair of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for 20 years, helping to transform it into a respected genre award. In addition to being a former editor of Vector, the critical journal of the British Science Fiction Association, his critical work has appeared in numerous scholarly, genre, and mainstream publications. He won the 2018 BSFA for Best Non-Fiction book for Modern Masters of Science Fiction: Iain M. Banks, which was also a Hugo and Locus finalist.
  • Born September 22, 1982 – Billie Piper, 36, Actor. Known to Doctor Who fans as the Companion of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors, she also played Lily Frankenstein in the TV series Penny Dreadful, and the titular character in the Sally Lockhart mystery series based on the novel quadrilogy written by His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman.
  • Born September 22, 1985 – Tatiana Maslany, 33, Actor. Best known for her superb versatility in playing more than a dozen different clones in the TV series Orphan Black, for which she received a Best Actress Emmy and more than two dozen other nominations and awards.
  • Born September 22, 1987 – Tom Felton, 31, Actor. Played Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies, followed by a role in the TV series The Flash.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • You have to know Wonder Woman to get the joke in this installment of Half Full – fortunately, you probably do!
  • The kids in Baby Blues explain why they just can’t believe the ending of The Wizard of Oz.

(13) THE BELLS ARE ALIVE WITH THE SOUND OF MUSIC. SYFY Wire is on top of the story: “William Shatner tweets Jingle Bells track from his new album ‘Shatner Claus’”. The tweet contains a link to the song on SoundCloud.

(14) THE FAMILY BUSINESS. The Guardian reports “Liam McIlvanney wins Scottish crime fiction award named after his father”:

…Two years after the award for the best Scottish crime novel was renamed in honour of the “godfather of tartan noir” William McIlvanney, his son and fellow crime writer Liam McIlvanney has landed the prize.

William McIlvanney, who died in 2015, was the author of the acclaimed DI Jack Laidlaw series, set in Glasgow. In 2016, the Bloody Scotland international crime writing festival renamed its prize, citing McIlvanney as “the man who, more than anyone, established the tradition of Scottish detective fiction”.

Liam, an academic at a New Zealand university as well as an author, won ahead of shortlisted writers including former winners Chris Brookmyre and Charles Cumming, and Lin Anderson, one of the festival’s co-founders.

Liam took the £1,000 McIlvanney award for The Quaker….

(15) SUPERHERO. Adri Joy concludes this book is “enjoyable, but the flaws are hard to ignore” – “Microreview [Book]: Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang” at Nerds of a Feather.

Though it’s new to print this year, Zero Sum Game was already on my radar in its previous, ebook only self-published incarnation, although it never made the leap from the ever-growing collection of Kindle Samples I keep around to inform potential purchases onto my actual TBR. This new version, published by Tor, has been revisited and polished up, and is now being released much more widely as part of the publisher’s #Fearlesswomen initiative, bringing this unconventional superhero thriller to a bigger audience, and also to me.

(16) GAME DEVELOPERS SUDDENLY OUT OF WORK. According to The Verge, these employees were told to start walking, too – “The Walking Dead developer Telltale hit with devastating layoffs as part of a ‘majority studio closure’”.

Telltale Games, creators of episodic adventure games like The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, and Batman: The Enemy Within, laid off approximately 250 employees today as part of what the company is calling a “majority studio closure.” According to multiple sources The Verge spoke with, employees were let go with no severance.

“Today Telltale Games made the difficult decision to begin a majority studio closure following a year marked by insurmountable challenges,” the company said in a statement. “A majority of the company’s employees were dismissed earlier this morning.” The company will retain a small team of 25. These remaining employees will stay on “to fulfill the company’s obligations to its board and partners,” according to Telltale.

The final season of Telltale’s award-winning series, The Walking Dead, kicked off last month. The second episode is slated to launch next week. Staff were informed of the layoffs today and were given roughly 30 minutes to leave the building, according to one source.

(17) ON THE MOVE. BBC reports “Japan’s rovers send pictures from asteroid”.

The two small “rovers”, which were despatched from the Hayabusa-2 spacecraft on Friday, will move around the 1km-wide space rock known as Ryugu.

The asteroid’s low gravity means they can hop across it, capturing temperatures and images of the surface.

“Both rovers are in good condition,” the agency confirmed on Saturday.

(18) BABY NAMES. In England and Wales “Game of Thrones baby names still proving popular” – though interestingly, 76 girls called Khaleesi and only 3 called Daenerys….

But if baby-naming is a reliable indicator, Game of Thrones’ most popular character appears to be Arya, with 343 newborns given the same name as Maisie Williams’ sword-wielding Stark.

That’s a big increase on 302, the number of Aryas named in 2016.

Eleven baby boys, the same number as in 2016, ended up being called Tyrion, almost certainly in tribute to Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion Lannister – perhaps the show’s most intelligent character.

(19) PACIFICON 1946. [Item by David Doering.] More choice quotes from the Pacificon 1 (1946 Worldcon) progress report.

BADGES–NONE GENUINE WITHOUT AN OFFICIAL NAME-PLATE

These Badges will be cellophane with a safety pin attachment so they can easily be worn at all times.

They have a place in which can be inserted your name and home city, and the name of your local club if you belong to one.

Interesting that we still use such badges (name plates??) at smaller events! (I kind of like the “club name” space, if only to describe which branch(es) of fandom you are keen on. Current badges don’t give you a clue.)

The con was held at the Park View Manor, an event space at 2200 W 7th Street. According to the LA Building Permits records, it looks like the same building remains there, although as offices. The con thought this an ideal location:

Nothing small about the Pacificon Hall — It will hold up to 750 persons!

I think the Pacificon was in fact somewhat smaller than this.

There are double rooms available at $3.00 and $3.85 each, per day, which would be but $1.50-1.93 per day for each occupant,

Oh, to find anything at a con hotel today–even soda–for under $2! Amazingly enough, the two con hotels, the Mayfair and the Commodore, are still extant! The Mayfair in fact remains a hotel (you might book a room now where a famous fan stayed even!) while the Commodore is condos.

We will do our level best to help you find a room if your reservation reaches us after the 20th of June – but we cannot promise you anything definite. However, we do have some nice parks here in LA, with the most comfortable benches in the country – one of them is right across the street from the official Convention Hall.

Given that the Denvention progress report provided instructions on how to “ride the rails” to get to Denver, I can’t be sure they were kidding about using these “comfortable benches” in the park across the street.

(20) ANIME VIBE. Io9’s James Whitbrook, in Star Wars: A New Hope, But as a Classic ‘80s Anime”, praises this short video to the skies –

… this delightful fan trailer by YouTuber Dmitry Grozov takes Star Wars as we know it—in the form of A New Hope—and transforms it into an old-school anime style cartoon, evoking the likes of Macross or Mobile Suit Gundam, complete with Japanese voice acting.

Alan Baumler comments, “I liked how they made Obi-wan sound like Toshiro Mifune.”

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

Pixel Scroll 9/15/18 It’s The Wrong Pixel, Gromit, And It’s Scrolled Wrong

(1) WHAT GEEZERS SAY. James Davis Nicoll’s twist on his previous series theme, Old People Read New SFF, finds the panel assigned “Carnival Nine” by Caroline M. Yoachim.

This month’s installment of Old People Read New SFF is Caroline M. Yoachim’s award nominated Carnival 9, an endearing tale of clockwork people second cousin to children’s toys and inevitable, implacable mortality. The Hugo nominated it garnered suggests reader appeal and the fact that it was also nominated for a Nebula means professionals enjoyed (or at least appreciated) it was well. But will my Old People find it worth reading?

Carnival 9 can be read here.

(2) CSI MARS. The Atlantic is already worried about “How Will Police Solve Murders on Mars?”

Christyann Darwent is an archaeologist at the University of California at Davis. Darwent does her fieldwork in the Canadian High Arctic, a place so frigid and remote that it has been used as a training ground to prepare astronauts for future missions to Mars. Darwent’s expertise in how organic materials break down in extreme environmental conditions gives her unique insights into how corpses might age on the Red Planet.

As we speculated about the future of Martian law enforcement, Darwent emphasized that her expertise remains firmly terrestrial; her husband, she joked, is the one who reads science fiction. Nevertheless, Darwent brought a forensic angle to the subject, noting that nearly everything about a criminal investigation would be different on the Red Planet. She described how animal carcasses age in the Arctic, for example: One side of the body, exposed to high winds and extreme weather, will be reduced to a bleached, unrecognizable labyrinth of bones, while the other, pressed into the earth, can often be almost perfectly preserved. Think of Ötzi, she said, the so-called “Iceman,” discovered in a European glacier 5,300 years after his murder. Ötzi’s body was so well preserved that his tattoos were still visible. Murderers on Mars might have their hands full: The bodies of their victims, abandoned in remote canyons or unmapped caves, could persist in the Martian landscape “in perpetuity,” Darwent suggested.

(3) TAKING THE INITIATIVE. The Hugo Award Book Club reviews a book delivered at Worldcon 76 in “Showcasing the strength of Mexicanx Science Fiction”.

In a time where the American government separates and imprisons migrant families, hearing from those who live and engage with the Mexico-US borderlands on a personal level couldn’t be more relevant.

Fresh off the presses in time for WorldCon76, the Mexicanx Initiative’s bilingual anthology Una Realidad más Amplia: Historias desde la Periferia Bicultural/A Larger Reality: Speculative Fiction from the Bicultural Margins celebrates the diversity of Mexicanx writers who create science fiction, fantasy and horror. Born of a Kickstarter project, the book includes twelve short stories and one comic in both Spanish and English, with an ebook version on the way.

(4) POWER OF WORDS. Simini Blocker’s site includes a series of posters about reading that use quotes from George R.R. Martin, C.S. Lewis, Lemony Snicket, Albert Einstein, Annie Dillard, Anna Quindlen, Cassandra Clare, etc.

(5) LALLY IN CHINA. At Vector, a photo gallery of Dave Lally’s visit to Chengdu, China: “Dave in Chengdu”.

This July, our roving Membership Officer Dave Lally spent four days Chengdu, Sichuan province, China, participating in the Science Fiction Sharing Conference. Here are just a few snaps from the trip.

(6) LISTENING TO THE GOLDS. LASFSians and renowned filkers Lee and Barry Gold were intereviewed by Edie Stern for Fanac.org. Hear the audio and see illustrative photos at YouTube.

Lee and Barry Gold tell stories about Los Angeles fandom and filking in the 1960s. In this audio recording enhanced with images, there are charming anecdotes about Poul and Karen Anderson, LASFS, and a great story about Bruce Pelz and Ted Johnstone obtaining permission from John Myers Myers to print the “Silverlock” songs. Lee and Barry tell how they got into fandom, and the interview also includes snatches of song from filks of the time as well as a discussion on where the word “filk” came from. The audio was captured in San Jose at Worldcon 76, and is enhanced with 35 images.

 

(7) ASHES SCATTERED. Martin Tays posted a photo of the moment on Facebook.

A final farewell to Poul Anderson and Karen Anderson. Their ashes were scattered today in Puget Sound from on board the Schooner Zodiac, sailing out of Bellingham, Washington.

(8) MERTON OBIT. Actress Zienia Merton (1945-2018) passed away September 13. She memorably played Space: 1999’s Sandra Benes, Data Analyst on Moonbase Alpha. See photos at Moonbase Central.

(9) SUTTON OBIT. Dudley Sutton (1933-2018): British actor, died September 15, aged 85. Genre appearances include The Avengers (one episode, 1968), Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (two episodes, 1970 and 2000), The Devils (1971), The Glitterball (1977), The Island (1980), Brimstone & Treacle (1982), The Comic Strip Presents… (‘Slags’, 1984), The House (1984), A State of Emergency (1986), Screen One (‘1996’, 1989), Orlando (1992), Delta Wave (two episodes, 1996), Highlander (one episode, 1997), The Door (2011), Ripper Tour (2018), Steven Berkoff’s Tell Tale Heart (completed 2017, but not yet released), A Midsummer Night’s Dream and When the Devil Rides Out (both currently in post-production).

(10) BLAY OBIT. The New York Times says the creator of the videocassette movie industry has died:

Andre Blay, 81, whose innovative idea of marketing Hollywood movies on videocassettes sparked an entertainment industry bonanza and a revolution in television viewing, died on Aug. 24 in Bonita Springs, Fla. He was 81….

But in 1977 Mr. Blay was able to persuade Fox to make a deal under which he would duplicate and distribute 50 of the studio’s most successful films, including “M*A*S*H” and “The French Connection.” The relatively high initial retail price of movies on videocassettes prompted an unexpected proliferation of video rental stores, from neighborhood businesses to sprawling chains like Blockbuster. As the price of recorders plummeted to about $500 from about $1,000, sales boomed, and so, to some people’s surprise, did rentals. By 1987 home video was generating more revenue than movie-theater ticket sales.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 15, 1949The Lone Ranger TV series debuted.
  • September 15, 1965 — The original Lost in Space premiered on television – theme by ”Johnny Williams.”

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 15, 1890 – Agatha Christie. Ok, according to Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction –

Christie wrote several short stories with supernatural elements – some collected, together with orthodox nonseries detections, in The Hound of Death (coll 1933) – and created a kind of sentimental Occult Detective [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] for The Mysterious Mr. Quin (coll 1930). In these stories the shadowy and elusive Harley Quin (the “harlequin” pun is deliberate and explicit) does not so much detect as use his presumably occult information to steer a mundane friend, Mr Satterthwaite, towards the insight required to explain a crime; the misleadingly titled The Complete Quin & Satterthwaite: Love Detectives (omni 2004) includes two long Hercule Poirot investigations featuring Satterthwaite but not Quin. Christie was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1971.

  • Born September 15, 1943 – John M. Faucette. Harlem born and raised genre writer who published four novels in the Sixties, two apparently as Ace Doubles. I wish I could tell you more about him but scant information now exists about him alas.
  • Born September 15 – Norman Spinrad, 78. Writer of many genre novels including Bug Jack BarronGreenhouse Summer and The People’s Police.  Wrote the script for “The Doomsday Machine” for Star Trek: The Original Series; also wrote episodes for Land of the Lost and Werewolf. His very early reviews are collected in Science Fiction in the Real World which was published in 1990.
  • Born September 15 – Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, 76. Writer, composer, demographic cartographer. Genre works include the very long running Count Saint-Germain vampire series, the Vildecaz Talents series and a number of other works listed as genre but which I’m not familiar with so I’m not certain that they are. Her site notes that she’s ‘Divorced, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area – with two cats: the irrepressible Butterscotch and Crumpet, the Gang of Two.’
  • Born September 15 – Howard Waldrop, 74. Primarily a short story writer so much of his work is unfortunately out of print though iBooks lists ePubs for Horse of a Different Color right now along with two other Small Beer published collections. I rather like The Texas-Israeli War: 1999 novel he co-wrote with Jake Saunders. His “The Ugly Chickens” amusingly enough won a Nebula for Best Novelette and a World Fantasy Award for Short Fiction.
  • Born September 15 – Loren D. Estleman, 66. You’ll have noticed that I’ve an expansive definition of genre and so I’m including a trilogy of  novels by this writer who’s better known for his mainstream mysteries featuring Amos Walker which are set in the  Sherlock Holmes Metaverse, Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes and The Devil and Sherlock Holmes. I think it was Titan Book that maybe a decade ago republished a lot of these Holmesian pastiches of which there are more than I want to think about.
  • Born September 15 – Jane Lindskold, 56. Let’s see… I see a number of genre undertakings including Artemis, Athanor, Breaking the Wall and the Firekeeeper series. She’s done a lot of excellent stand-alone fiction novels including Child of a Rainless Year, Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls and The Buried Pyramid. She either edited or greatly expanded (depending on your viewpoint) two novels by Roger Zelazny, Donnerjack which I love and Lord Demon which thrills me less. Her latest I believe is Asphodel which she sent me an ebook to read and it is quite good.

(13) COMIC SECTION.

  • Over the Hedge explains how to get people interested in the space program.

(14) QUANTUM LEAP. That’s right, there could be a perfectly sensible explanation for a friend’s strange behavior, like this —

(15) BEHIND THE CURTAIN. Cora Buhlert visited 1963 to report on a recent East German/Polish movie based on one of Stanislaw Lem’s novels for Galactic Journey: “[September 15, 1963] The Silent Star: A cinematic extravaganza from beyond the Iron Curtain”.

Kurt Maetzig is not a natural choice for East Germany’s first science fiction movie, since he is mostly known for realist fare and even outright propaganda films. Though the fact that Maetzig is a staunch Communist helped him overcome the reservations of DEFA political director Herbert Volkmann, who doesn’t like science fiction, since it does not advance the Communist project and who shot down eleven script drafts as well as Maetzig’s plan to hire West European stars.

(16) IT’S A STRETCH. Marko Kloos’ post for the Wild Cards blog, “Coming Up Aces”, tells how hard it is to do something new in “a world with an established canon spanning 70 years, where hundreds of aces and jokers have already been put on the page by dozens of other writers.”

Wild Cards is up to twenty-six volumes now, and the Trust has more than forty members. Each of those writers has created multiple characters, so there are hundreds of aces, joker-aces, and jokers out in the Wild Cards world, each with their own distinct physical characteristics and abilities. And once they are on the page, they’re canon. Try coming up with an original ace who doesn’t duplicate something that’s already been done by someone else—I can assure you it’s not easy, especially if you’re new to the team and haven’t had your head in that world for the last few decades. The first few ideas I had were roundly shot down at the start because they had been used in some form already, or they brought abilities to the table that had been done too often.

For my first character that truly stuck, I came up with Khan, who makes his first appearance in LOW CHICAGO. Khan is a joker-ace, a 300-pound underworld bodyguard whose left body half is that of a Bengal tiger….

(17) STREE. In the Washington Post, Vidhi Doshi discusses the new Bollywood film Stree (“Woman”). a horror comedy about a vengeful female ghost where “the real fear is hidden in the jokes about the realities of being a woman in India.” — “In India’s new hit film, men — not women — are afraid to roam the streets”.

The success of “Stree” is due in part to how it flips Bollywood’s norms. The male protagonist is the opposite of Bollywood’s muscly, macho heroes — he spends most of the film trying to see things from the female ghost’s point of view. The women, on the other hand, are bold, educated and fearless.

The movie breaks rules of the horror genre: The scares and jolts are funny, while the real fear is hidden in the jokes about the realities of being a woman in India.

(18) MORE BROKEN CONVENTIONS. At Black Gate, Derek Kunsken recommends a YouTube podcast about comics — “Analyzing the Comics Story-Telling Process with Panel x Panel”.

Lately I’ve been watching a lot of the Youtube channel Strip Panel Naked, by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. In this extraordinary video podcast, Hassan analyses different techniques of pacing, page layout, color, positive and negative space, genre conventions and how they’ve been broken, stylistic choices and so on. I have lots of favourites, including the analysis of the use of time in Fraction and Aja’s Hawkeye.

(19) THESE AREN’T THE SPOTS YOU’RE LOOKING FOR. Nobody’s getting excited about this. Everyone please remain calm. “The director of the Sunspot Observatory isn’t sure why the feds shut it down”.

The saga began to unfold on September 6, when authorities unexpectedly closed and evacuated Sunspot  Solar Observatory. Sunspot Solar Observatory is managed by a consortium of universities that provide funding to operate the telescope and adjoining visitor’s center. AURA (The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy) is a big site, tens to hundreds of acres, McAteer explained, and the observatory is used to study the sun in very specific ways.

McAteer said while the reason behind the closure is still unknown, he does not believe it is as strange as some believe.

“AURA deciding to close it is not an unusual event to me and I’m not going to jump to any unnecessary speculation,”  McAteer told Salon. “They [AURA] made the decision to close the site based on an internal decision, based on whatever they make their decisions on, and as they often make decisions to close remote sites this is not an uncommon thing to do.”

Alamogordo Daily News first reported the news on Sept. 7, when the observatory closed citing a “security issue” at the facility. Shari Lifson, a spokeswoman for AURA, said the closure was their decision.

“The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy who manages the facility is addressing a security issue at this time,” Lifson told the local newspaper. “We have decided to vacate the facility at this time as precautionary measure. It was our decision to evacuate the facility.”

(20) VIRTUAL HALLOWEEN. The LAist gets ready for the holiday at a SoCal mall: “We Tried Out 2 Halloween VR Experiences And Survived (After Some Screaming)”.

The Void’s trying to change that by throwing you into a real physical environment, which you can check out locally at the Glendale Galleria.

In the Void’s games, if you pick up a gun, you’re holding a physical weapon — if you sit on a bench, there’s an actual physical bench for you to sit on. We went to a demo of the Void’s new Halloween experiences and talked with the creators behind them — here’s what we learned, and what went down.

When you’re about to go into the Void, you’re fitted with a vest and a VR helmet. The vest vibrates when you get shot or attacked — or in the case of one of their new experiences, slimed. (Ew.)

The two new experiences are Nicodemus: Demon of Evanishment, and an enhanced version of one they’d previously released, Ghostbusters: Dimension.

 

(21) HIMMELSKIBET. Karl-Johan Norén has another sff link to in Denmark: “Himmelskibet is a Danish 1918 silent movie about a trip to Mars, 81 minutes long, that has been restored by the Danish Film Institute.”

Photos from the film and additional info are available via a Facebook photo archive.

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

Pixel Scroll 8/25/18 The Quidditch Policeman’s Union

(1) BRING ME MY SPEAR OF BURNISHED BRONZE, BRING ME MY CHARIOT OF FILE. Prior to the pacemaker being put in the staff worked hard to convince me to stay in San Jose a week before attempting to drive home. One it was in, the cardiologist cleared me to drive home immediately. That was a surprising, though positive, development.

Not that I really felt ready to drive right away. I stayed in a motel overnight, then got on the road this morning.

Many thanks to David Bratman for his daily hospital visits, and Spike, Michael Ward, and Karen Schaffer for helping get me and my stuff to the Motel 6. Plus Michael and Karen for picking up a nice dinner of Chinese take-out.

Getting ready to leave the hospital — photo by Karen Schaffer.

With all the Bay Area conventions I’ve been to over the years, I’ve done the trip down I-5 many times. The closer I got to LA, the more familiar the roads looked, and the smoother the drive seemed to go. I reached home in about 6 hours.

John King Tarpinian asked me if I’ll have to make a lot of changes to accommodate my newly-implanted device. While there are warnings about various electronics, I’m okay to microwave as long as I’m not staring into the window while it’s nuking the food. Also can’t hover over a running car engine. (Not that I ever do.) Hovering over a blogging laptop — okay. Phone held on the right side is okay — which I already do (pacemaker is on left). Nothing I really have to change in respect to the tech I already use.

And I’m not only grateful for all the comments and good wishes, but for Filers working overtime to turn all this into publishable material. Waste not, want not is on my list of mottos….

Tom Becker wrote:

GlyerBot could have gone rogue after he hacked his pacemaker module, but then he realized he could post pixel scrolls on the entertainment feed of the company satellite.

Iphinome responded:

Part human part machine. If we could get a picture of a cat sleeping on you, you can be Iphinome’s murderbot of the month.

And in other themes…. Cathy said:

I join the others in welcoming our File 770 Cyborg Overlord.

And Ryan wrote:

Congrats Locutus of Mike

(2) DEEP DIVE. Juliette Wade’s new Dive into Worldbuilding features “Alex White and A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe”. Watch the video conversation and read the summary at the link –

…I asked Alex about his research sources, and much of the material comes from his life experiences and those of his friends. This includes attitudes toward autistic people that he’s seen growing up with his child. He says, “the cultural baggage we drag around we assume is the right way to be.” This gets translated into things like Loxley’s boss telling her how to live, saying “I know a spinster who will police you,” and robbing the vulnerable of their agency. Even looking people in the eye is cultural and not universal.

I asked him also about his research sources for A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe. He said the magic/tech blends were influenced by recent games, and that Cowboy Bebop had influenced some of the action sequence writing. He asked, “what is the worst goofy thing that can go wrong?” That’s the first question he asks, he says, when writing an action sequence. He told us about his podcast, The Gearheart, and said that this novel was a spiritual successor to the podcast, occurring 800 years later. Alex spent a lot of time running D&D there and getting to know the world….

 

(3) A GIFT TO THE WHOLE CULTURE. An editorial at The Guardian does more than simply praise N.K. Jemisin’s Hugo win: “The Guardian view on science fiction: The Broken Earth deserves its Hugo”

Ms Jemisin is the first black winner of a Hugo award for novels (the redoubtable Samuel Delany won twice for his short stories). Most of her characters are black, though this becomes only gradually apparent, and the system of slavery on her planet is not based on skin colour. Yet science fiction allows her to display some of the fundamental characteristics of any system of slavery, however much her account derives from the particular experience of African Americans. It may be the ultimate ambition of novelists to make characters who are entirely three-dimensional but in practice most of them produce bas-reliefs, where only aspects of their characters spring from the page and much of the background is undifferentiated.

(4) INSIDE THE NUMBERS. Nicholas Whyte’s analysis of the 2018 Hugo voting statistics is full of all kinds of interesting observations: “The 2018 Hugo Awards in detail”. For example:

Declined nomination:

  • Best Series – The Broken Earth (N.K. Jemisin);
  • Best Editor Long Form – Liz Gorinsky;
  • Best Professional Artist – Julie Dillon;
  • Best Fancast – Tea and Jeopardy
  • For Best Series, N.K. Jemisin declined for The Broken Earth;

the following were ruled ineligible, due to not having added enough to the series since last year:

  • The Expanse,
  • The Craft Sequence,
  • the October Daye books

And what Whyte said about the Best Fanzine stats I probably wouldn’t have noticed myself!

(5) THANKS TO ALL FILERS. Here’s a link to the Hugo ceremony video. Jo Van Ekeren’s File 770 acceptance speech begins at 48:34.

(6) THE FANNISH TITHE. Kevin Standlee says one in ten Worldcon 76 attenders volunteered – “Worldcon 76 Day 5+1: That’s a Wrap”.

(7) HECK OBIT. German TV personality and actor Dieter Thomas Heck died yesterday, reports Cora Buhlert.

He was mainly known for hosting music and game shows, but he was also an actor and had a memorable SF role as the game show host in “Das Millionenspiel”, a 1970 adaptation of a Robert Sheckley story. And since I couldn’t find an English language obituary for him anywhere, I wrote one myself.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) AFTER ACTION REPORT. Joe Sherry tells how he appreciates the value of a fanzine’s community, like the one they have at Nerds of a Feather: “Thoughts on the 2018 Hugo Awards”.

Being a finalist for the Hugo Award means that Nerds of a Feather is a part of the history of science fiction and fantasy fandom. I treasure that. I’m fairly sure I also speak for both Vance and The G when I say that. It is an amazing feeling to receive that notification and we’re grateful for it.

I said this privately to our writers, but I would like to say it publicly as well. The reason we even had an opportunity for a Hugo is not because of the work Vance, G, and I are doing behind the scenes. It’s because of the high quality of the work our writers are putting out every day. It’s the cumulative power of the book reviews and essays and special projects and interviews and none of that happens without these fantastic writers. We may not have won the Hugo Award, but we are absolutely confident that we deserved to be at that table, that the work our writers are doing is as good as anything on that ballot for Fanzine. The name on the ballot might say “The G, Vance Kotrla, Joe Sherry”, but it is that full list of contributors, past and present that have built the reputation we have and the every day excellence they deliver that allowed us to even have a chance. They’re the best.

(11) SPACE CATS. Steve Davidson announced in comments there is a call out to help many, many SJW credentials living at the Arecibo radio telescope site in Puerto Rico – “Arecibo Observatory’s Space Cats Need Your Help!”

When Hurricane Maria slammed Puerto Rico last September, destroying tens of thousands of homes and damaging the observatory, staff and other members of the local community sought shelter and supplies at the observatory’s visitor center. And the local cats did the same. [The Arecibo Observatory: Puerto Rico’s Giant Radio Telescope in Photos]

The Arecibo Observatory has long been known for its felines, and it has become an increasingly popular cat hangout ever since the hurricane hit last year, Flaviane Venditti, a researcher at the observatory, told Space.com. “After the hurricane, many people left the island and, in the process, left their animals behind,” Venditti said. “We can see that based on how people-friendly some of the cats are. They might have come to the observatory to shelter during the storm.”

(12) THEY’RE QUACKERS. [Item by Mike Kennedy]. What do you get when both The Joker and Daffy Duck show up in the same continuum? SYFY Wire says “Comics and cartoons collide in sneak peek at DC’s The Joker/Daffy Duck crossover”. The fertile (or fevered) minds at DC are cooking up not just The Joker/Daffy Duck one-shot, but also Catwoman/Sylvester and TweetyHarley Quinn/Gossamer, and Lex Luthor/Porky Pig. These follow-up previous Warner Bros. or Hanna-Barbera crossovers with DC superheroes titles like Black Lightning/Hong Kong PhooeyBatman/Elmer Fudd, The Flash/Speed Buggy, Martian Manhunter/Marvin the Martian, Aquaman/Jabber Jaw, and Jonah Hex/Yosemite Sam.

The  SYFY Wire article has a 6-page preview of The Joker/Daffy Duck Special #1, “which finds Daffy visiting Gotham City to tour the ACME headquarters, only to discover that the building has been abandoned and taken over by the infamous Clown Prince of Crime.”

(13) IRON FIST. Trailer for Marvel’s Iron Fist: Season 2

It’s not a weapon to be held. It’s a weapon to be used. Season 2 of Marvel’s Iron Fist debuts exclusively on Netflix September 7, 2018.

 

[Thanks to Rich Lynch, Cora Buhlert, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Rick Moen, Steve Davidson, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, 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 8/10/18 This Pixel Scroll Title Has Been Used Before

(1) TARDIS MAKEOVER. Doctor Who Today has this leaked photo of a new TARDIS design.

(2) ANOTHER BIG $ALE. The Hipsters of the Coast report that the “Art for Chandra, Torch of Defiance SDCC Promo Sells for $35,000”.

Chandra, Torch of Defiance, the third of the five San Diego Comic Con promotional planeswalker paintings by Terese Nielsen, has sold for $35,000. The final bid all but doubled in the closing minutes of the auction that ended on eBay Sunday evening.

…Chandra, Torch of Defiance blew past the final prices of Liliana, Untouched by Death ($22,950) and Nissa, Vital Force ($25,600), eclipsing the highest total by almost $10,000. I did not expect Chandra to surpass these two, and I’m not sure that anyone, even Terese herself, might have guessed she would either.

(3) CHICAGO 8. The Book Smugglers feature an Uncanny Kickstarter promo about Chicago by the hosts-in-waiting of Uncanny TV: “Eight Nerdy Chicago People and Organizations We Love By Matt Peters and Michi Trota (Uncanny Magazine Kickstarter shout out)”

Our home nerd community in Chicago has countless examples of nerdy groups and individuals using their own geeky passions to inspire and shape incredibly diverse and wide-ranging projects. Their work reminds us why stories matter, and wanting to talk with creators like them and hear their own stories is a primary reason we’re so excited for the potential of Uncanny TV. Chicago is one home among many to geeky creators from all walks of life, and our hope is that Uncanny TV will have a chance to visit as many of those communities as possible. We couldn’t possibly name all of the nerds and geeks we know whose art and activism are fueled by their geeky loves, but here are eight based in Chicago who provide a snapshot of the inspiring work being created in fandom.

Acrobatica Infiniti Circus

“Cosplay” and “circus” aren’t two things we would have thought of putting together before but thankfully someone did! Acrobatica Infiniti Circus, also known as “the Nerd Circus,” was created several years ago by Tana “Tank” Karo, who had a background in dance and design but had wanted to create something that allowed her to merge her love for circus and geekery. The resulting collaboration among extraordinarily talented and undeniably nerdy jugglers, acrobats, aerial artists, contortionists, and object manipulators is delightful and surprising each time: Leeloo performing mind-boggling contortionist poses, Totoro juggling sootballs, Harley Quinn on a trapeze. The fact that the group has a rotating cast allows the performers to stay fresh and provides continuous opportunities for new performers to come in and join the show. And rather than approaching the performance scene as a competition, AIC often works in collaboration with similar performance groups to encourage more artistic development and positive ties within the community….

(4) LITTLE-KNOWN WORLDCON BUSINESS. I must have missed this on my first read-through of the agenda. The thread starts here.

(5) 2007 BUSINESS MEETING. Kevin Standlee has uploaded four videos of the 2007 WSFS Business Meeting in Yokohama.

It took him awhile to do it. Kevin says, “My upload bandwidth at home is so poor that I could only upload one file per night overnight.”

(6) SIMULATING MARS. NBC News posts a video (“The human factor: What it will take to build the perfect team for traveling to Mars”) about a simulated mission to Mars that didn’t turn out as planned.

Hi-SEAS in Mauna Loa, Hawaii is a simulated Mars habitat that’s meant to facilitate the study of human behavior. A group of four-to-six participants is selected from a pool of hundreds of astronaut aspirants to make up the crew for each mission. So far five missions have been conducted successfully. Mission VI began earlier this year but things didn’t go exactly as planned.

The Atlantic thoroughly reviews what happened in the article “When a Mars Simulation Goes Wrong”.

… In February of this year, the latest batch of pioneers, a crew of four, made the journey up the mountain. They settled in for an eight-month stay. Four days later, one of them was taken away on a stretcher and hospitalized….

(7) ACROSS THE WALL. Cora Buhlert writes from the divided Germany of 1963 at Galactic Journey“[August 10, 1963] The Future in a Divided Land, Part 3 (An Overview of Science Fiction in East and West Germany)”.

In the last two entries in this series, I gave you an extensive overview of West German science fiction. Now let’s take a look across the iron curtain at what is going on in East Germany. For while the inner German border may be nigh insurmountable for human beings, mail does pass through. A lot of us have family in the East, including myself, and are in regular contact with them via letters and parcels. Parcels from West to East Germany usually contain coffee, nylons, soap, canned pineapple and all sorts of other consumer goods that are hard to come by in Communist East Germany.

Unfortunately, we cannot send books and magazines, cause they will probably be seized at the border for fear of “dangerous” ideas spreading. East Germans, on the other hand, are free to send books and magazines to relatives and friends in the West. And since my love for reading in general and for “space books” in particular is well known to my aunts in East Germany, the occasional science fiction novel from beyond the iron curtain has found its way into my hands.

…However, the most exciting of those voice from beyond the iron curtain is not German at all, but a Polish writer, Stanislaw Lem, whose work I encountered via East German translations. I particularly enjoy Lem’s humorous stories about the adventures of a space traveller named Ijon Tichy, which have been collected as Die Sterntagebücher des Raumfahrers Ijon Tichy (The Star Diaries of the Spaceman Ijon Tichy).

Lem’s more serious works include the novels Eden with its fascinating portrayal of a truly alien society, Planet des Todes (Planet of Death), which was even filmed in 1960, and the generation ship story Gast im Weltraum (Guest in Space), which is currently being filmed in Czechoslovakia.

(8) MASSIVE ROUNDUP. Todd Mason has an ambitious collection of more than three dozen links to recent reviews and essays in “Friday’s ‘Forgotten’ Books and more: the links to the reviews” at Sweet Freedom.

(9) STEAMIN’ WORLDCON. Included in The Steampunk Explorer’s “Steampunk Digest – August 10, 2018”:

Worldcon, the World Science Fiction Convention, will be held August 16-20 in San Jose, within shouting distance of The Steampunk Explorer’s International Headquarters. The program lists several steampunk-themed panels, including “Carriger & Adina Talk Steampunk (tea and silliness optional)” with authors Gail Carriger and Shelley Adina; “The Victorian & Edwardian Tech Tree” with Steve Frankel; and “Defining Steampunk” with Elektra Hammond, Anastasia Hunter, William C. Tracy, Diana M. Pho, and Jaymee Goh. We plan to be there, and for the benefit of attendees, we’ll be posting stories about steampunk-related attractions in San Jose and elsewhere in Silicon Valley.

(10) LOOKING FOR BOOKS. Donations needed –

(11) WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN AT WAR WITH EAST BAYSIA. The Digital Antiquarian remembers the big brawl between Apple and Microsoft in “Doing Windows, Part 8: The Outsiders”.

…Having chosen to declare war on Microsoft in 1988, Apple seemed to have a very difficult road indeed in front of them — and that was before Xerox unexpectedly reentered the picture. On December 14, 1989, the latter shocked everyone by filing a $150 million lawsuit of their own, accusing Apple of ripping off the user interface employed by the Xerox Star office system before Microsoft allegedly ripped the same thing off from Apple.

The many within the computer industry who had viewed the implications of Apple’s recent actions with such concern couldn’t help but see this latest development as the perfect comeuppance for their overweening position on “look and feel” and visual copyright. These people now piled on with glee. “Apple can’t have it both ways,” said John Shoch, a former Xerox PARC researcher, to the New York Times. “They can’t complain that Microsoft [Windows has] the look and feel of the Macintosh without acknowledging the Mac has the look and feel of the Star.” In his 1987 autobiography, John Sculley himself had written the awkward words that “the Mac, like the Lisa before it, was largely a conduit for technology” developed by Xerox. How exactly was it acceptable for Apple to become a conduit for Xerox’s technology but unacceptable for Microsoft to become a conduit for Apple’s? “Apple is running around persecuting Microsoft over things they borrowed from Xerox,” said one prominent Silicon Valley attorney. The Xerox lawsuit raised uncomfortable questions of the sort which Apple would have preferred not to deal with: questions about the nature of software as an evolutionary process — ideas building upon ideas — and what would happen to that process if everyone started suing everyone else every time somebody built a better mousetrap.

(12) NAVIGATING THE AMAZON. Peter Grant relates more “Lessons learned from a trilogy, Part 2: the impact on sales of rapid releases, and other factors” at Mad Genius Club. He discovered several benefits from releasing a trilogy of new novels in a short timeframe.

You can see at once that sales rose a little per volume after each launch, but not spectacularly so.  What did rise very strongly were KU [Kindle Unlimited] “borrows”.  The triple “bounce” is obvious to the naked eye, even without numbers.  It seems that, once they were aware of the series, KU readers jumped on it, and read each volume in turn (sometimes “binge-reading” all three within a week).  That drove the series’ sales ranks higher, and is still doing so, long after I’d have expected the earlier books’ ranks to drop by much more.  As I write these words, all three volumes are still ranked in the top three-tenths of one percent of all books in the Kindle Store.  Needless to say, I find that very satisfying.

(13) DID THEY GAME THE SYSTEM? Six writers who have been booted from Amazon say they can’t understand why: “Amazon self-published authors: Our books were banned for no reason” at Yahoo! Finance.

In recent weeks, Amazon (AMZN) has taken down e-books written by at least six self-published novelists who say they did nothing wrong and depend on the platform to make their living, those six novelists told Yahoo Finance.

The six authors published many of their books through Amazon’s online self-publishing platform Kindle Direct Publishing Select, and they expressed shock and frustration over losing their livelihoods without understanding why.

Amazon, for its part, has been cracking down on KDP Select authors who supposedly game the system in order to get paid more. But the authors Yahoo Finance spoke to insist they haven’t engaged in this kind of fraud, and that Amazon banned them without sufficient explanation of wrongdoing.

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born August 10 — Rosanna Arquette, 59. Amazon Women on the Moon as well as voice work in Battle for Terra, appearances in Medium and Eastwick.
  • Born August 10 — Antonio Banderas, 58. Genre work in Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, the Spy Kids franchise, voice work in Puss in Boots and Shrek 2, appearances in the forthcoming The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle and The New Mutants.
  • Born August 10 — Suzanne Collins, 56. The Hunger Games trilogy which became a film series as well and The Underland Chronicles, a epic fantasy series.
  • Born August 10 — Angie Harmon, 46. Barbara Gordon in the animated Batman Beyond series and voice work in the current Voltron series, appeared on Chuck. 
  • Born August 10 — Joanna Garcia Swisher, 39. Quite a bit genre work including the From the Earth to The Moon miniseries, the animated The Penguins of MadagascarAre You Afraid Of The DarkThe Astronaut Wives Club,  Kevin (Probably) Saves the World and Once Upon a Time series. 

(15) SHORT FICTION REVIEWS. Charles Payseur sells Ceaseless Sips by the seashore: “Quick Sips – Beneath Ceaseless Skies #257”.

I am sorely tempted to guess that the link between the two latest stories from Beneath Ceaseless Skies is that their both authored by a Christopher. Because, at first glance, these two pieces are very different in terms of character, tone, and theme. Looking closer, though, and the stories seem paired not because of how well they work in harmony, but in how well they contrast, showing two sides of the same coin. On one, we get to see a man on a quest realize that he’s in danger of losing something of himself and pause, take stock, and find comfort and guidance in another person. In the other story, though, we find a man who has fully embraced his quest, regardless of who he needs to destroy or hurt. Both stories feature mostly conversations and philosophy, but in one a lesson is learned, and in the other it is utterly destroyed. So yeah, let’s get to the reviews!

(16) PICK SIX. Grow your TBR pile by reading “Six Books with Sam Hawke” at Nerds of a Feather.

  1. What upcoming book you are really excited about?Probably Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett is the one I’m looking forward to the most. He wrote one of my favourite fantasy trilogies of recent years (the Divine Cities) and Foundryside has the thieves and heists in city state, Locke Lamora kind of vibe that I dig. Special mention to The Monster Baru Cormorant (because the Traitor was amaaaaazing) though I am scared of how much it is going to hurt me.

(17) POWER ARRANGERS. Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams surprises with his deep interest in the meanings of Lord of the Rings: “Master of his universe: the warnings in JRR Tolkien’s novels” in New Statesman.

…Yes, Sam is an idealised version of a socially ambivalent and archaic stereotype. Forget this for a moment and look at his instinctive realisation that fantasies of high-octane power, celebrity and control are poisonous. He is anything but perfect: his stubborn parochialism and his taunting of Gollum are failings, with bad consequences. But he retains some fundamental instinct of moral realism. This helps him share Frodo’s burden without collapsing. Frodo’s empathy for Gollum (rooted in a shared understanding of the Ring’s terrible seduction), finally leads to a genuinely shocking denouement; but Gollum, furious, alienated by Sam, recklessly greedy for the Ring, saves Frodo from his self-inflicted catastrophe and dies as a result.

Somehow, the tangled web of interaction between these three ends in “salvation”. Some force overrules and rescues them – but only through the weaving together of a whole set of flawed agencies, mixed motives, compassion, prejudice, courage and craving. Tolkien is seeking to model the way in which the creator works not by intervening but by interweaving. It is this starkly unexpected conclusion to the quest and the journey that makes the book most clearly a Christian fiction.

But even for the non-religious reader, this diagnosis of power is a reason for treating Tolkien more seriously than many are inclined to. Look beyond the unquestionable flaws: the blandly patriarchal assumptions, the recurrent patronising of the less “elevated” characters, the awkwardness of the would-be High Style of narrative and dialogue, the pastiche of Scott or Stevenson at their worst; beyond even the fantastically elaborated histories and lores and languages of Middle Earth.

The work is ultimately a fiction about how desire for power – the kind of power that will make us safe, reverse injustices and avenge defeats – is a dream that can devour even the most decent. But it is also a fiction about how a bizarre tangle of confused human motivation, prosaic realism and unexpected solidarity and compassion can somehow contribute to fending off final disaster. Not quite a myth, but something of a mythic structure, and one that – in our current climate of political insanities and the resurgence of varieties of fascistic fantasy – we could do worse than think about.

(18) UP YOUR UPLOAD. BBC discovered “This rigged charger can hijack your new laptop”. “Who ran a sewer through a recreation area?” is joined by “Who put charging on a data line?”

A neat feature of many modern laptops is the ability to power them up through the USB port. Unlike the rectangular USB ports of old, the newer type – USB-C – can carry enough power to charge your machine.

That’s great news: it means you don’t need to add a separate port just for charging. And when the USB port isn’t being used for power, it can be used for something useful, like plugging in a hard drive, or your phone.

But while you and I may look at that as an improvement, hackers see an opportunity to exploit a new vulnerability.

One researcher, who goes by the name MG, showed me how a Macbook charger could be booby-trapped. Modified in such a way it was possible to hijack a user’s computer, without them having any idea it was happening.

(19) SENT BACK LIKE GANDALF? “Gladiator 2: The strangest sequel never made?” — Maximus resurrected by Jupiter to fight a rebel god, then sent time-travelling through wars of the ages.

At the time, [Nick] Cave had written just one produced screenplay, John Hillcoat’s Ghosts… of the Civil Dead, and he was concentrating on his music career. But he couldn’t resist when Crowe offered him the Gladiator 2 job, despite one obvious misgiving. “Didn’t you die in Gladiator 1?” he asked. “Yeah, you sort that out,” replied Crowe.

And that’s what he did. Cave’s Gladiator 2 screenplay opens with Maximus waking up in the afterlife. To his disappointment, it isn’t the sun-kissed Elysium he dreamt of in Gladiator, but an endless rain-sodden netherworld where wretched refugees huddle on the shores of a black ocean. With the help of a ghostly guide, Mordecai, Maximus treks to a ruined temple where he meets Jupiter, Mars and five other diseased and decrepit Roman deities. Jupiter explains that one of their number, Hephaestus, has betrayed them, and is now preaching the gospel of another god who is more powerful than all of them. Just to quibble for a moment, Hephaestus is a Greek god, not a Roman one, so Cave should really have named him Vulcan. But the screenplay compensates for this slip with some writing to relish….

(20) DO YOU REMEMBER WHO KILLED SUPERMAN? At SYFY Wire“An oral history of the original Death and Return of Superman, 25 years later”.

…Jurgens fittingly enough would be the artist who drew that final image of a battle-weary Superman finally succumbing to battle with Doomsday, cradled in Lois Lane’s arms, with Jimmy Olsen forlorn in the background.

Jurgens: As for that final double page splash, well… it first appeared as a triple page spread at the end of Superman #75. I don’t think it has ever been reprinted that way, with a double page spread that then folds out into a triple pager. We spent an extraordinary amount of time getting it to work properly and I think it really helped bring Superman #75 to an appropriate close.

Superman #75 would go on to sell millions copies over multiple printings, reaching sales figure that were bolstered in no small part by the mainstream attention the death of this international icon had attracted.

Ordway: Coincidentally, the public’s actual reaction mirrored what we did in the comics — they suddenly came out in numbers, professing their love for Superman. That was what we wanted all along, though of course none of us had any idea it would sell. We had hopes that people would respond, maybe comic shops might order more Superman comics.

Jurgens: There is no way we, DC or anyone was prepared for the reaction to our story. We were simply trying to tell a good, dramatic story that said something about the nature of a great character.

Carlin: I still can’t believe people believed Superman would be gone forever. Reporter after reporter came up to DC and asked “Why are you killing Superman?” and my standard answer was “When was the last time you bought a Superman comic? Hell, when was the last time you bought ANY comic?” And every reporter said they hadn’t bought a Superman comic since they were kids, to which my response was: “Then you’re the one who killed Superman!” And most of these reporters, men and women, said that they were reporters because of Clark and/or Lois’s inspiration!

For the creative team, the story they yearned to tell was not the slugfest that led up Superman’s death, but the stories of loss afterward.

Bogdanove: In what seemed like no time, we’d written most of “Funeral for a Friend,” which was where the real meat of the story was. I think we accomplished exactly what Louise spoke of. Through the eyes of Metropolis and the world, via the reactions of heroes, villains and the friends and family he knew, I think we got to say a lot about why Superman matters.

Certain scenes stand out in my memory: Bibbo (Bibowski, a supporting character who idolized the Man of Steel) saying, “It shoulda’ been me!” Ma and Pa Kent watching the funeral of their own son on television, all alone by themselves. Some of these scenes we talked about that day still make my eyes tear up just thinking about them.

(21) JOIN THE SPACE FORCE. Commander Fred Willard comes out of retirement to enlist in Trump’s Space Force.  “We’re going to build a big, beautiful wall and those filthy Neptunians are going to pay for it.”  “When there’s trouble in space, we’re on the case.” From the Jimmy Kimmel Show. Fast forward to 3 minutes and 30 seconds.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Kevin Standlee, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, David Doering, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, and Hyman Rosen for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]

Pixel Scroll 8/7/18 Not First, Nor Fifth, Nor even Frog, Just Little Old Me, PixelDog

(1) SAN JOSE LOCAL CUISINE. The Worldcon 76 Local Guide is now available as an app:

Announcing the Worldcon 76 “Local Guide” app from the Publications & Communications team. We’ve prepared it to help newcomers and visitors to San Jose with detailed information about the stores and restaurants that are nearby the Convention Center, downtown hotels, and the SJC airport. You can view the app on our website at: https://www.worldcon76.org/travel-lodging/local-guide

(2) WHITLEY ROBBED. Dave Chalker reported Eva Whitley’s bad news:

This is an update for family and friends of Eva Whitley. Last night her house was broken into while she was there. She was held at gunpoint and robbed of money and her phone. Physically, she was not harmed. But as you can imagine she is in rough shape emotionally. She’s going to try and rest now after a very difficult evening (wherein the police were not only not helpful but actively abusive) but when she wakes up later, she’s going to need all the support she can get.

David had already started a GoFundMe for her — “Save Mom’s July” – which has seen a new burst of donations since this news came out today. (It originally hit $3,793 of its $1,000 target).

(3) WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO READ? Nerds of a Feather features “6 Books with Martha Wells”.

  1. What upcoming book you are really excited about?I was excited about The Phoenix Empress by K. Arsenault Rivera, which comes out this fall, and I just got to read an ARC of it. The first book, The Tiger’s Daughter, was probably my favorite epic fantasy of last year. It’s an original, rich, fully realized fantasy world, with an epic story told from an unusual angle. The second book goes more into the threat looming over this world, and what the characters are actually fighting. I can’t wait for the next book.

(4) SPIDEY AND COMPANY. “Spider-Man Will Be Joined by Two MCU Veterans in ‘Homecoming’ Sequel” and Inverse tells you who they are.

Iron Man won’t be joining Spidey on his European tour in the upcoming Spider-Man: Far From Home, but Spider-Man will be joined by two MCU veterans even if Tony Stark doesn’t survive the end of Avengers 4. Nick Fury and Maria Hill are reportedly going to appear in the Homecoming sequel, due out next summer.

(5) HONEY BADGER BRIGADE LOSES SUIT. Nerd and Tie’s Trae Dorn tracked down the result: “MRA Group “The Honey Badger Brigade” Lose Their Lawsuit Against Calgary Expo, The Mary Sue”.

So it’s been a while since we provided an update on the lawsuit MRA group “The Honey Badger Brigade” filed against the Canadian convention Calgary Expo and US-based blog The Mary Sue back in Fall of 2015, but we finally have a resolution to the story. Last week, on August 1st, the Provincial Civil Court of Alberta ruled in favor of Calgary Expo and The Mary Sue.

To explain how we got here, the short version is that the Honey Badger Brigade had filed suit because Calgary Expo kicked the MRA group out during their 2015 event. Calgary Expo claimed it was because the Honey Badgers misrepresented the artist booth they were occupying and were disruptive to the event. The Mary Sue also ended up getting named in because they wrote about it? I guess? They also hired a disbarred lawyer and crowdfunded tens of thousands of dollars to pay for the case. Literally none of this case made a lick of sense.

And apparently the judge agreed.

(6) DOING INTERVIEWS. At Black Gate, the Uncanny Magazine crew tells how they prepare for and do interviews. “Uncanny Magazine Year 5 Meta-Interview: A Look at How Interviews Come Together”.

Caroline M. Yoachim does print interviews for the magazine, Lynne M. Thomas does the podcast interviews, and now we are introducing Matt Peters and Michi Trota as the video interviewers (and hosts) of Uncanny TV!

When we got the idea to write about interviews, we realized that we could do the post by interviewing each other, and BOOM, the meta-interview was born! …

Lynne: What kinds of interviews have you looked at to help shape your questions for Uncanny’s print interviews?  Are there any approaches or formats to print interviews that you would be interested in trying out to try to change things up?

Caroline: When I started doing interviews for Uncanny, the first thing I did was go back and read several interviews from past issues, to get a feel for what kind of questions to ask and the scope of the interviews. I also often glance at previous interviews from whichever author I’m interviewing, so I can avoid asking questions they’ve answered repeatedly.

As for interesting approaches, I remember there was an interview I did for Shimmer where I answered interview questions jointly with a character from my story. It was a fun way to mix things up a little bit!

Lynne: What is the most bizarre/memorable question you’ve ever asked in an interview? Have there been any bizarre/memorable questions that you’ve been asked when being interviewed?

Caroline: I’ve done relatively few interviews (either as an interviewer or as an interviewee) and while I have asked and answered good questions with memorable answers, I’m not sure I’ve ever had a question that was memorable/bizarre in and of itself. However, if future interviewers of me would like an unusual question to throw into the mix, I recommend: “Have you ever photographed the secret life of gummy bears?”

(7) GEEK SHOPPING. Daniel Dern calls your attention to these ThinkGeek Anniversary Deals

Like this Old Book BackPack (which I’m using to tote magic tricks to local events)

And the Con-Survival Bag of Holding (great for con-going day side pack, I use mine a lot, see lots of others in use)

RD-D2 Coffee press (not on my list, but maybe yours)

(8) RUH-ROH! Ursula Vernon gives a progress report from the garden. The thread starts here.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born August 7, 1933 – Jerry Pournelle
  • Born August 7 — Tobin Bell, 76. Myriad genres roles in such productions as Alien Nation, Mann & MachineStargate SG-1, Strange Worlds, The X- Files and voice work in the current Flash series. Oh and played Jigsaw in the long running Saw horror film series.
  • Born August 7 — Wayne Knight, 63. Extensive voice work including The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat, HerculesThe Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars and the Green Lantern series. Appeared in Jurassic Park and credited as Nerdy. Also in Torchwood: Miracle Day and 3rd Rock from the Sun.
  • Born August 7 — David Duchovny, 58. X-Files of course, also Space: Above and Beyond and Twin Peaks, the Area 51  video game and The Lone Gunmen series.
  • Born August 7 — Harold Perrineau, 55. Regular cast on the BladeLost and Constantine series, also Z Nation30 Days of Night: Dark Days, Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions.
  • Born August 7 — Michael Shannon, 44. General Zod in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Also Fahrenheit 451The Shape of Water and Jonah Hex.
  • Born August 7 — Charlize Theron, 43. Genre roles include Snow White and The Huntsman with a sequel called The Huntsman: Winter’s War, other credits include Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (uncredited but her first role), Æon Flux, Mad Max: Fury Road and Mortica Addams in the latest reboot of The Addams Family.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro needs the public’s help to solve this robotic crime….

(11) WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS. John Scalzi is on to something — thread starts here.

(12) THE EIGHTIES. James Davis Nicoll quantum leaps his series into the next decade: “Fighting Erasure: Women SF Writers of the 1980s, Part I”.

(13) YOUR 1-STAR REVIEW, SIR. Yes, it’s so precious when people need to flag authors about them.

(14) CULTURAL CURRENCY. A criticism about 2140.

Well, I know what X, Y and Z were, but I don’t remember who they were. I take your point.

(15) DRAGON OVERVIEW. Cora Buhlert’s rundown “The 2018 Dragon Award Nominees and the Rise of the Kindle Unlimited Writing Factories” focuses on counting things like the ethnicities and sex of the nominees. She also has Internet Archives links to ballot reactions from Declan Finn and Richard Paolinelli (consisting of a little bit of reaction and a great deal of self-promotion, but what else is an author’s blog for?)

(16) TOP MAGAZINES. The Splintered Mind did its annual ranking – “Top Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazines 2018”. Asimov’s is way out in front of this list of 50 magazines. Here are the criteria:

(1.) Only magazines are included (online or in print), not anthologies or standalones.

(2.) I gave each magazine one point for each story nominated for a Hugo, Nebula, Eugie, or World Fantasy Award in the past ten years; one point for each story appearance in any of the Dozois, Horton, Strahan, Clarke, or Adams “Year’s Best” anthologies; and half a point for each story appearing in the short story or novelette category of the annual Locus Recommended list.

(3.) I am not attempting to include the horror / dark fantasy genre, except as it appears incidentally on the list.

(4.) Prose only, not poetry.

(5.) I’m not attempting to correct for frequency of publication or length of table of contents.

(6.) I’m also not correcting for a magazine’s only having published during part of the ten-year period. Reputations of defunct magazines slowly fade, and sometimes they are restarted. Reputations of new magazines take time to build.

(17) SHORT FICTION REVIEWED. Charles Payseur shares “Quick Sips – Uncanny #23 [August stuff]”.

The second half of the special Dinosaur issue of Uncanny Magazine brings even MOAR dinosaurs, with five new stories and three new poems. Two of the poems aren’t really dinosaur-centric, but the issue as a whole offers up a great diversity in styles and ways of incorporating the source material and expanding the shared space of the issue. Here we are treated to more stories of dinosaurs displaced in time, landing on the Oregon Trail, or in a strange fairy tale, or in the middle of a small town. There’s not quite the same focus on communication and understanding as before, though. Instead, these pieces look a bit more at violence, and hunger, and corruption. They don’t flinch away from showing some dinosaurs getting their feed on, as well as getting their freak on. It’s a strange, rather wonderful collection of short SFF, so let’s get to the reviews!

(18) GRAPHIC STORY PICKS. Joe Sherry’s review of his Hugo ballot at Nerds of a Feather goes into overtime: “Reading the Hugos: Graphic Story”

Today we’ll be looking at the six finalists for Graphic Story.  By the time this goes live we’ll be a full week past the close of voting and while I’ve thoroughly enjoyed covering as many categories as I have, I’m ready for the reading and voting stage to be done. It’s a lot, even when it’s something I love to do.

Two works on my nominating ballot are here on the final ballot (Bitch Planet and Paper Girls), but the category as a whole is soli and filled with interesting and strong works. Like the novella category, though, Graphic Story is fairly dominated by one publisher: Image Comics. With four of the six slots, Image has a fair lock on the category. As great as Image is and how fantastic the comics, the category will be stronger if a wider variety of publishers are represented in future years (though, three of the works on my nomination ballot were also from Image – so there’s that)

(19) NEW SANDMAN STORIES. ComicsBeat presents a “Sandman Universe Exclusive: How Hopkinson & Stanton plan to break diverse new ground in the Dreaming”. Here’s the introduction to the interview –

From 1989-1996, Neil Gaiman and a group of artistic collaborators including Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, and more crafted The Sandman. This 75 issue DC Comics/Vertigo series followed Dream and his primordial siblings, who collectively formed the Endless, through imaginative and transformative stories steeped in classic mythology and boundless imagination. To this day, The Sandman remains one of DC’s most beloved series. And now, eager comics fans will have the opportunity to return to the Dreaming once again with this Wednesday’s release of Sandman Universe #1, a special one-shot that introduces a new line of Sandman stories to the world.

One of these new stories is House of Whispers. Written by notable fantasy and sci-fi author Nalo Hopkinson and drawn by Domo Stanton with colors from John RauchHouse of Whispers follows two sets of characters. The first is the Yoruba goddess Erzulie, whose House of Dahomey is “where the souls of Voodoo followers go when they sleep [in order] to beseech the flirtatious and tragic goddess to grant them their hearts’ desires and counsel them on their futures and fortunes.” The second is a group of four human girls in New Orleans who have stumbled upon a journal “filled with whispers and rumors” that threatens to unleash “Sopona, the loa lord of infectious disease.” Tied together by circumstance, Erzulie, cousin to Sopona, attempts to come to the aid of the humans, but finds herself in a crisis of her own as her House crashes into the Dreaming.

(20) BAT CASTING. From io9 we learn that  “The CW’s Live-Action Batwoman Is Ruby Rose”.

Both Variety and Deadline report that Rose, currently appearing in the giant-shark action movie The Meg, has been tapped to portray Kate Kane in both the upcoming Arrow/Flash/Supergirl/Legends of Tomorrow crossover special and the potential Batwoman series being helmed by Caroline Dries that could air in 2019.

Rose, also known for turns in Orange Is the New Black and appearances in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter and John Wick: Chapter 2, will first appear in the role later this year. The heroes of the CW’s other DC supershows (sans Black Lightning, off in its own universe) will head to Gotham City for the first time, where they’ll team up with Kate Kane—one of DC Comics’ few lesbian characters—for a new adventure.

(21) CATCH THE WAVE. We’re not talking about water here — “‘Extraordinary’ waves from Jupiter’s moon Ganymede spotted”.

Scientists have observed “extraordinary” waves coming out of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede.

The electromagnetic waves, also known as “chorus waves,” were spotted using the Galileo Probe spacecraft, which has a mission of surveying Jupiter’s wave environment.

“It’s a really surprising and puzzling observation showing that a moon with a magnetic field can create such a tremendous intensification in the power of waves,” Yuri Shprits, the lead author of the study, told the Independent.

(22) THE LIVING END. Deadpool 2 – How It Should Have Ended. You heard it here fifth.

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

Pixel Scroll 8/6/18 Have Space Suit, Will Robinson

(1) LACKEY HOSPITALIZED OVERNIGHT AT GEN CON. Mercedes Lackey thought she was having a stroke, but instead had been poisoned by outgassing from all the materials in the newly renovated room where she stayed at Gen Con. She’s making a full recovery, reports Krypton Radio.

Lackey told Facebook followers the story:

On Wednesday night we checked into the Marriot for Gencon and were given a newly renovated room. What did not occur to me was that this was a newly renovated room and everything was outgassing. Paint, carpet, furniture, everything. In a room with no way to vent the gas building up. And I am incredibly sensitive to that stuff.

Thursday night we went to bed after a day of con work. I woke up to the alarm at 9 after 9 hours and sleep and felt like I hadn’t had any. I reset the alarm for 10, same. I reset it for 11 and got up, still feeling the same. As I was getting ready, I realized I was getting more and more unsteady, dizzy, disoriented, losing my balance. I began talking to myself and heard myself slurring words. I realized I was in trouble, tried to dial 911, got 977 instead, hit the 0 on the house phone, told them I thought I was having a stroke, and please call emergency services.

By the time they got there I was halucinating. When I opened the door to the paramedics, and the hotel manager, I saw the medics, the manager, and standing between them a beautiful woman with long sandy-brown wavy hair in an astronaut’s orange jumpsuit. I explained what my symptoms were as best I could and THEY were convinced I was having a stroke. Meanwhile, Judy Chambers who had been gofering for me had arrived, with Bill Fawcett. Bill took over in his usual efficient manner (and he is literally my guardian angel in this).

By the time we got to the hospital I could barely talk and was hallucinating like it was Woodstock. Bill and Judy were with me every step of the way, as I got EKG, EEG and MRI. I’ll tell you all about the hallucinations some time, they were doozies. Bill stayed with me until I got a room, and the hallucinations and slurred speech started to clear. That was when he told me about the conversation he and the hotel manager had had about the outgassing. Bill stayed with me until about an hour after I fell asleep.

By this morning I was absolutely my old self. By 10 AM I had convinced the GP, the Neurologists and the Toxicologists that I was good to release, and they turned me loose about noon. Charles Borner, another friend who was in the loop (and scheduled to stay with me when Bill couldn’t) brought be back over to the con, and I managed to do my scheduled signing.

(2) THE SILVER AGE OPENS. Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus is there at the beginning: “[Aug. 6, 1963] X marks the comic (X-Men, Avengers, Sgt. Fury, and more from Marvel)”.

In fact, if the prior age be gilded, then our current era of comics resurgence must be some kind of Silver Age.  Just look at performance of the successor to Atlas Comics, that titan of the industry that had died back in 1957.  Leaping from obscurity just a few short years ago, Marvel Comics has doubled down on its suite of superheroes, launching three new comic books in just the last few months.

The most exciting of them is The X-Men, featuring a team of teenage mutants under the tutelage of Professor Charles Xavier, at once the most powerful telepath in the world, and also the first handicapped superhero (that I know of).

Let’s meet the cast, shall we?  We’ve got Slim Summers (“Cyclops”), who projects ruby blasts from his eyes; Bobby Drake (“Ice Man”), the kid of the group, who creates ice at will; Hank McCoy (“Beast”), possessed of tremendous agility and oversized hands and feet; Warren Worthington III (“Angel”), a winged member of the upper crust (financially and evolutionarily); and Jean Grey (“Marvel Girl”), a telekinetic.  Why Bobby is a Man and the older Jean is a Girl, I haven’t quite figured out.

(3) FANCASTROVERSY. Claire Rousseau spotted a proposal in the Worldcon Business Meeting Agenda to update the Best Fancast Hugo to Best Podcast that she doesn’t like at all. The thread starts here.

(4) THE FUTURE IS NOW. Reuben Jackson comes up with “6 sci-fi prophecies that are already here” at Big Think.

Contact lenses that record experiences

Just imagine contact lenses that are also cameras, giving them the ability to record and store whatever you see so you can play it back whenever you want to – your wedding, the birth of your child, or a particularly happy vacation that you don’t want to forget.

Well, Sony has recently filed a new patent for ‘smart contact lenses’ that actually record your experiences. The technology behind these lenses would be highly sophisticated. They would feature special sensors that would convert mechanical energy into electrical energy to activate the camera. It would even be able to adjust for the tilt of the wearer’s eye and use autofocus to adjust for blurry images.

(5) LOST SPIRITS. Forbes advises “Forget The Hollywood Studios: Lost Spirits Distillery Is The Best Tour In L.A.”. (From January 2018).

Nestled on Sixth Street in the arts district of Downtown L.A., Lost Spirits Distillery is one of those things you have to be in on to even find it. You don’t need a password or to pass a velvet rope to get in, just a reservation. But you’re not going to casually stroll down Sixth and find Lost Spirits. You have to be in on the secret, which is fitting because once you walk into the lobby you enter another world, one of mystery, science, intrigue and award-winning whiskey and rum.

When you go down the rabbit hole into the Willy Wonka-esque factory for adults, take a trip to the bathroom, even if just to wash your hands. There you will have your first, but not last encounter with TESSA, the computer system that was created by “mad” scientists Bryan Davis and his partners to lead the tour. More HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey than Siri, TESSA is your surprisingly welcoming guide to Lost Spirits.

“We build stuff for jaded people,” Davis says proudly.

Davis, part of the five-person super team that now oversees Lost Spirits, explains to our group during the tour that the bathroom technology was the first use of TESSA. “As soon as we finished the automation software, we looked at each other and were like, ‘Dude, let’s go automate the bathroom,’” he says laughing.

… “They speak to today’s generation of drinkers by combining booze, artificial intelligence, Disneyland and gastronomy to make the best distillery tour ever,” says Joey Chavez, one of the riders on the tour that day.

(6) FANTASTIC 4. This week on Beeb Beeb Ceeb Radio 4 (also available on iPlayer.)

HG Wells’s story of a brutal Martian invasion of Earth, dramatised by Melissa Murray.  BBC Radio 4 play.

by Jules Verne, dramatised by Gregory Evans.

Three very different people escape the American Civil war by stealing a balloon – which crashes near a deserted island. But perhaps it is not quite as deserted as they think it is…

BBC Radio 4 documentary page now up — The comic that had Dan Dare

And also, a dramatized Dan Dare adventure

Episode 1

Dan Dare, The Voyage to Venus Episode 1 of 2

The Voyage to Venus

Dashing test pilot, Dan Dare, is selected to fly the Anastasia – a new experimental spacecraft using alien technology – on its maiden voyage to Venus. The mission is to make first contact with the mysterious civilisation that sent the technological secrets to Earth…

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 6, 1996 — The first novel in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, A Game of Thrones, was first published on this day
  • August 6, 2003 — Asteroids renamed to honor final Shuttle Columbia crew.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born August 6, 1926 – Janet Asimov. Famous for co-authoring the Norby series of YA novels with her husband.
  • Born August 6, 1934 – Piers Anthony
  • Born August 6 — Michelle Yeoh, 56. Regular in the Star Trek: Discovery series, also appears in Guardians of The Galaxy, Vol. 2Crouching Tiger, Hidden DragonThe Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and Tomorrow Never Dies.
  • Born August 6 — M. Night Shyamalan, 48. Producer, Director or Writer (all three usually) of genre work such as  After EarthThe Last Airbender and Lady in the Lake. Need I note that he always an actor in these as well?
  • Born August 6 — Vera Farmiga, 45. First genre work was in the Roar series, later work includes Snow White: The Fairest of Them All where Snow White meets Satan, more horror in The Conjuring 2, yet more horror as Norma Louise Bates in the Bates Motel series, and appearing in the forthcoming Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
  • Born August 6 — Ever Carradine, 44. Cast regular in The Handmaiden’s Tale, The Runaways and Eureka which weirdly has been renamed A Town Called Eureka. H’h.
  • Born August 6 — Josh Shwartz, 42. Writer, The Runaways, Chuck, and the forthcoming Monster High animated film.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro shows a Star Fleet gun safety lesson.

(10) MORE TREK IN THE WORKS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] In an interview with Deadline, “CBS All Access Bosses On More ‘Star Trek’ Series, ‘The Twilight Zone’ Status, Stephen King & More – TCA” CBS execs David Stapf, Marc DeBevoise, and Julie McNamara talked of plans for yet more Star Trek on their paid All Access service:

“My goal is that there should be a Star Trek something on all the time on All Access,” CBS TV Studios president David Stapf said Sunday during a Deadline interview about the CBS streaming service that included the platform’s president and COO Marc DeBevoise and EVP Original Content Julie McNamara.

No, they don’t seem to mean a 24/7/365 Trek channel, but apparently want to have at least one series in the Trek universe(s) on CBS All Access at all times. That would include the recently announced Patrick Stewart Star Trek series but also other Trek spinoffs in development (both “limited series” and “ongoing series.”  They also gave updates on other genre series, including The Twilight Zone reboot and a series adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand.

(11) CHANNEL YOUR INNER ELF. Now that you know they exist, can you live without them? “Urbun Elf Earbuds Headphones”:

New design elf ear shaped earbud earphone,cute, perfect sound quality.Great gift.

Ultra-soft ergonomic fit in-ear earbud headphones conform instantly to your ears;With three sets(S,M,L) of ear tips and 3.9-ft Long TPE cord threads.

(12) BEAR WITNESS. Emily Asher-Perrin tells why “I Have A Lot of Feelings About Christopher Robin” at Tor.com.

With the success of the Paddington films, it seems as though certain parts of Hollywood have recognized that we could all do with more films that are the equivalent of hugs and hot chocolate and warm blankets. And since Disney has their own lovable bear to trot out, it was only a matter of time before we could expect a (slightly) more realistic look at the Hundred Acre Wood and all its inhabitants. Christopher Robin aims to tug at the heartstrings, but gently, and with all the simple wisdoms that A.A. Milne’s books have imparted on generations of readers. It succeeds at this feat particularly well.

[Spoilers for Christopher Robin]

Despite some of the action-oriented trailers, anyone expecting Christopher Robin to be a new generation’s Hook will probably walk out confused. Maintaining the tone of Milne’s work was clearly foremost of the minds of the creative team, and Winnie the Pooh and pals are reliable as they ever were. Christopher Robin, though he is struggling with the demands of being an adult, never becomes callous or distant.

(13) WHY PROGRAMMING NEEDS TO BE COOL. Cora Buhlert has made lemonade from some recent fannish news: “Convention Programming in the Age of Necromancy – A Short Story”.

Convention Programming in the Age of Necromancy

At the daily program operations meeting of a science fiction convention that shall remain unnamed, the debate got rather heated.

“We absolutely need to hold the ‘Future of Military Science Fiction’ panel in Auditorium 3,” the head of programming, whom we’ll call Matt, said.

“And why?” his fellow volunteer, who shall henceforth be known as Lucy, asked, “Is military SF so important, that it needs one of the bigger rooms, while we shove the ‘Own Voices’ panel into a tiny cupboard?”

“No,” Matt said, “But Auditorium 3 has air conditioning.”

Lucy tapped her foot. “And? Are old white dude military SF fans more deserving of coolness and air than own voices creators and fans?”

Matt sighed. “No, but Heinlein’s reanimated corpse is coming to the panel. And trust me, he smells abominably. Oh yes, and he’s declared that he wants to attend the ‘Alternative Sexualities in Science Fiction’ panel, so we’d better put that in a room with AC, too.” …

(14) JEMISIN BACK ON W76 PROGRAM. N.K. Jemisin tweeted –

(15) CHICAGO IN 2022 WORLDCON BID. Their social media is getting more active. The ChicagoWorldcon Facebook page is calling for “likes.” So if you do…!

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “This Actor’s Cartoon Game Is Strong” on Vimeo, Great Big Story profiles voice actor Tara Strong, best known for her work on “Rugrats,” “Fairly Odd Parents,” and as Rocky in the new version of “Rocky and Bullwinkle.:”

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Mark Hepworth, Carl Slaughter, ULTRAGOTHA, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern if you like it, otherwise, the blame goes to OGH who edited Dern’s original idea.]

Pixel Scroll 6/9/18 Scroll-The-Pooh Filed In A WordPress All By Himself Under The Name Of Pixel

(1) DAMES AND KNIGHTS. The Queen’s birthday honours list is out. The Guardian has the highlights likely to be of interest to Filers (although it does not cite any of the recipients’ genre credits).

The Queen’s birthday honours list, in which actor Emma Thompson was made a dame,…

Thompson, who is one of Britain’s best loved actors, has been made a dame, adding to a long list of awards including Oscars, Baftas, Golden Globes and Emmys.

…The damehood awarded to the classicist Mary Beard is likely to prove more popular. The Cambridge professor, author and TV presenter described it as a “smashing honour” and attributed it to growing interest in her field of work.

“I feel especially pleased that someone working on the ancient classical world gets honoured in this way,” she said. “I’d like to treat it as a bit of a tribute to the Greeks and Romans themselves, as well as to all my wonderful academic colleagues who also do so much for the study of antiquity.”

The actors Keira Knightley and Tom Hardy are awarded an OBE and CBE respectively.

The author Kazuo Ishiguro, whose works include The Remains of the Day, the film adaptation of which starred Thompson, is knighted for his services to literature. He said he was “deeply touched to receive this honour from the nation that welcomed me as a small foreign boy”.

(2) EPISODE HATE. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert concocted a hilarious “’Stars Wars’ Trailer To Piss Off Hateful Fanboys.” Starts around 2:20 of this video.

There’s a special new ‘Star Wars’ movie for all the angry fans whose racist, misogyny led ‘Last Jedi’ actress Kelly Marie Tran to leave Instagram.

 

(3) DRAGON CON TURNOVER. Early this month bloggers Francis Turner and Jon Del Arroz celebrated a Dragon Con staff firing, however, those searching for an objective explanation of what transpired had nowhere to turn until this week when Richard “Fife” Blaylock published two resignation statements on his blog, one by former Dragon Con Fantasy Literature Track director Charlotte Moore, and his own.

Moore committed what she terms “an error in judgment” in telling a ConCarolinas supporter and regular Dragon Con panelist his support of that convention made him “less welcome” by the Fantasy Literature Track. Dragon Con leadership considered that beyond her authority and a misrepresentation of the convention’s commitment to political neutrality. Almost concurrently,  Moore tweeted in support of a friend she saw being harassed in social media. Dragon Con leadership ultimately told Moore the appearance of the con’s neutrality was more important than these acts of conscience, and she was fired.

Moore initially put a farewell post on the Fantasy Literature at Dragon Con Facebook page, which was taken down by Facebook. It has been reposted to Blaylock’s blog. Here is an excerpt:

Hi, everyone. It’s Charlotte.

Effective immediately, I am no longer the Fantasy Literature Fan Track Director.

I apologize for the cryptic nature of what follows. I will, at my discretion and on a person-by-person basis, give details in private, or when plied by sufficient quantities of alcohol.

First:

I would like to thank Rachel Reeves and David Gordon for working with me to find an equitable resolution to some longstanding and, ultimately, insurmountable differences between my priorities and the convention’s.

I deeply regret that, in an effort to defend this community I love so much, I have, in moments of anger, occasionally overstepped my bounds, resorting to tactics that were unbecoming of me. My behavior has not consistently reflected the convention’s values—nor, in my better moments, mine.

While I do not regret, for one second, standing up to any person who, through their stories, statements, or behavior, threatens this community—or who, out of self-preservation, chooses not to see injustice and abuse—there are ways I might have done so without grabbing for low-hanging fruit.

Dragon Con strives to be apolitical. Perhaps that’s admirable (and perhaps it isn’t? I truly don’t know), but it strikes me that the most bombastic champions of this position are the ones most incensed by social justice, a phrase they sneer as a term of derision and ridicule.

I believe that Dragon Con’s heart is in the right place. I really do. They made it clear to me that they have no compunction with the fundamental nature of my values; that they welcome strong opinions among their track directors; and that they share a desire to create a diverse and safe environment.

They want everyone to have a seat at the table. Unfortunately, they also want everyone to have a seat at the table. And a table that seats abusers beside their abused is not, in fact, a table for all: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

So. The convention and I are at an impasse. And perhaps it is best if Dragon Con finds a less vociferous replacement for me, though I regret that this must happen so close to this year’s event….

—Charlotte, who will miss you all very much.

Richard Blaylock, likewise, has quit the convention as he explains in “My Resignation from Dragon Con” (full statement at the link.)

The below is my resignation as Director’s Second of Fantasy Literature at Dragon Con, as I sent it in. For some quick context:

  • The prior director had acted out of line and was due some form of censure, along the lines of public apology and a warning to chill.
  • Instead of a transparent process, she was fired without being allowed to defend herself, and before she was even informed that she was being fired, they were soliciting potential new directors.
  • The “greater crime” for which she was fired was that she was vocally expressing that she would not provide a platform for bigotry and hate in her programming.

So, without further adieu, and with the intent to allow this to be shared easily across social media platforms (I’d already shared it on Facebook), my letter of resignation to Dragon Con:

To: Director, Fantasy Literature
CC: Sr. Director, Fan Track Operations; Dragon Con Board of Directors
Thank you for the opportunity to stay on as Director’s Second for Fantasy Literature. After a long time mulling it over, I regret to inform you that I cannot, in good conscience, continue on in this position.

While I do not agree with all of Prior Director Charlotte Moore’s means and methods, and I do feel she stepped out of line in her interaction with [guest name redacted] in specific, I cannot countenance the actions that have been taken—actions taken both by means of punishing her and of the convention making a political statement in her firing and its choice for her replacement.

I can appreciate that the convention doesn’t want to become accused of being a political entity for both legal and social reasons. But there is a false equivalency and a tone deafness in the convention claiming that bigotry and harassment is “just politics.” It is the paradox of tolerance that those who try to uphold absolute tolerance invite the absolutely intolerant. A political difference is how to provide health care, entitlements, and the size and role of government. It is not debating the fundamental humanness of those who are not white, heteronormative men.

A “Safe Space” is also a paradox. It is a place where those accepting of differences, willing to admit that all people have a fundamental equality, are welcome. It is not, in truth, “safe” for everyone, because it should be absolutely unwelcoming of bigots. By their fundamental nature, bigots make others unsafe. Fantasy Literature has, in the five years I’ve worked for it, always been a Safe Space, and I thought this was not just because of the actions of the director and her volunteers, but because senior convention leadership saw the value in this as well.

However, in its actions, Dragon Con has made the declaration that hate and bigotry are acceptable behaviors, and that the deluge of snide micro-aggressions that people of color, the differently-abled, women, and the LGBT community will suffer is an acceptable price for convention leadership to pay so they don’t have an angry, vocal, and harassing minority emailing them…..

Dragon Con prides itself on “running like a business.” I am sure that the mentality is you don’t care that a few offended attendees won’t come because of this decision; the numbers are still going up overall. On the whole, the masses don’t care.

But the thing is, the masses don’t care. Dragon Con could do the right thing, take a stand against bigotry and refuse to give it a platform, and you will only lose a minor handful of other bigots.

The masses don’t care. So it becomes such a puzzlement when the only action taken is to turn a blind eye and allow the tyranny of one minority over another so you don’t have to make a decision.

I have made my decision. I hope that you and others will come to see that it was correct one day.

Richard “Fife” Blaylock
Formerly Director’s Second, Fantasy Literature, Dragon Con

(4) ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WALL. Galactic Journey imported Cora Buhlert to 1963 where she discusses “[June 8, 1963] The Future in a Divided Land (An Overview of Science Fiction in East and West Germany) Part 1”.

…I am fortunate enough to live in West Germany and therefore the main focus of this article will be on West German science fiction. However, I will also take a look at what is going on in East Germany.

In the US and UK, science fiction is very much a magazine genre, even if paperback novels are playing an increasingly bigger role. In West Germany, there are a couple of science fiction publishers, such as the Balowa and Pfriem, which specialise in hardcovers aimed at the library market, as well as the paperback science fiction lines of Heyne, Fischer and Goldmann. The three paperback publishers focus mainly on translations, whereas the library publishers offer a mix of translations and works by German authors. Though Goldmann has recently started publishing some German language authors such as the promising new Austrian voice Herbert W. Franke in its science fiction paperback line.

However, the main medium for science fiction and indeed any kind of genre fiction in West Germany is still the so-called “Heftroman:” digest-sized 64-page fiction magazines that are sold at newsstands, gas stations, grocery stories and wherever magazines are sold. Whereas American and British science fiction magazines usually include several stories as well as articles, letter pages, etc…, a “Heftroman” contains only a single novel, technically a novella. “Heftromane” are the direct descendants of the American dime novel and the British penny dreadful – indeed, they are also referred to as “Groschenroman”, which is a literal translation of “dime novel”….

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 9, 1790 — The first copyright for a book was given to The Philadelphia Spelling Book by John Barry.
  • June 9, 1934 —  Donald Duck made his debut in the cartoon “The Wise Little Hen”.
  • June 9, 1978 The Cat From Outer Space premiered theatrically
  • June 9, 1989 Star Trek V: The Final Frontier debuted on this day

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born June 9, 1930 – Lin Carter
  • Born June 9, 1943 – Joe Haldeman
  • Born June 9, 1963 – David Koepp

(7) HUGO BALLOT PREVIEW. Nicholas Whyte groks “The 2018 Hugo finalists for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form”. At the top of his ballot —

1) Doctor Who: “Twice Upon a Time”

The Moffat era had its low points, but the return of the First Doctor for the Twelfth Doctor’s final story was not one of them. I actually thought that the 2018 season was Capaldi’s best in general, and would have rated a couple of the other episodes higher than this; but this one deserves its place on the ballot and gets my vote. Bonus points for having scenes set in Belgium.

(8) PIXAR PIONEER GOING. Yahoo! Entertainment says “Lasseter, Pixar co-founder, to step down at end of year”.

John Lasseter, the co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and the Walt Disney Co.’s animation chief, will step down at the end of the year after acknowledging “missteps” in his behavior with staff members.

Disney announced Friday that Lasseter — one of the most illustrious and powerful figures in animation — will stay on through the end of 2018 as a consultant. After that he will depart Disney permanently.

Lasseter in November took what he called a six-month “sabbatical.” He apologized “to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug” or any other gesture that made them feel “disrespected or uncomfortable.” At the time, Lasseter signaled that he hoped to then return to Disney. Many in Hollywood were skeptical that was possible.

“The last six months have provided an opportunity to reflect on my life, career and personal priorities,” Lasseter said in a statement. “While I remain dedicated to the art of animation and inspired by the creative talent at Pixar and Disney, I have decided the end of this year is the right time to begin focusing on new creative challenges.”

(9) JUNOT DIAZ. Boston Review’s decision to keep Junot Diaz as an editor has driven three other editors to quit reports the Boston Globe “Boston Review editors resigning in protest of decision to retain Junot Diaz”.

The decision by Boston Review to retain Junot Diaz as an editor despite recent sexual misconduct allegations isn’t sitting well with some members of the magazine’s staff.

Three poetry editors have announced they plan to resign effective July 1 because they disagree with the decision of Boston Review editor in chief Deborah Chasman to keep Diaz on as fiction editor, a position he’s held since 2003.

In a statement posted on the magazine’s website this week, Chasman and executive editor Joshua Cohen said they had done a “careful review of the public complaints” about Diaz, as well as their own inquiry, and determined that “the objectionable conduct described in the public reports does not have the kind of severity that animated the #MeToo movement.”

That prompted Boston Review poetry editors Timothy Donnelly, BK Fisher, and Stefania Heim to respond with a statement of their own.

“What most distresses us are the [Boston Review statement’s] apparent arbitration of what constitutes inclusion in the #MeToo movement and its lack of attentiveness to power dynamics in a star-driven media and publishing landscape,” the three editors wrote. “Though we raised these reservations to the executive editors and asked them repeatedly to rethink their position, they went forward as planned.”

The decision-makers explained why they did not remove Dias in “A Letter from Deborah Chasman and Joshua Cohen” at Boston Review.

Junot Díaz has been Boston Review’s fiction editor since 2003. Like many others, we were deeply moved by Junot’s recent essay in the New Yorker  describing his experience as a child victim of rape, and also struck by his acknowledgment in that essay that he had hurt people with his “lies and choices.” Also, like many others, we have been disturbed by recent reports from women who have come forward to describe the ways they were hurt by him. We have read their reports carefully, taken their complaints seriously, and thought hard about how we should respond.

On the basis of what we have learned, we have decided to continue our editorial relationship with Junot. We want to give a few words of explanation.

First, during his 15-year tenure as fiction editor, we have never received any complaints about Junot’s conduct, either from our staff or from writers.

If we were only an employer, that might be the end of the discussion. But issues of gender and race are at the heart of our mission. Because of Junot’s important public role, we cannot narrowly confine our attention to his role as our fiction editor.

Second, then, we do not think that any of the individual actions that have been reported are of the kind that requires us to end the editorial relationship. To be clear: we do not condone the objectionable behavior that they describe. Instead, we asked ourselves whether the conduct they report is of a kind that—given his role and our mission—requires us to end the editorial relationship. We do not think so. The objectionable conduct described in the public reports does not have the kind of severity that animated the #MeToo movement.

Third, we considered whether, as some have suggested, the complaints point to a larger pattern of abusing power—the kind of star power that has attached to Junot as a successful writer, editor, and public intellectual. On the basis of a careful review of the public complaints, we think not. The events they characterize—including several episodes of aggressiveness in public discussion—are dispersed over a long stretch of time, and do not, as we see it, show the characteristics, repetition, and severity required to establish such a pattern….

(10) THE WHO FAMILY. Don’t ask whether Doctor Who is the Doctor’s Daughter’s father or mother now. This isn’t that kind of project. Syfy Wire reports Doctor Who’s “daughter” is back In Universe, this time in a series of audio adventures: “The Doctor’s Daughter finally returns this week but it could have been much sooner”.

It’s been a decade, but the Doctor’s daughter is finally back for a series of new Big Finish audio adventures out this week. However, if it had been up to Georgia Tennant, her Doctor Who character would have returned to the Whoniverse much sooner.

Thing is… she was never asked back.

“I’ve always been aware of what Doctor Who brings to it, and what you then carry on throughout your life,” explained the actress (who happens to be the daughter of Fifth Doctor Peter Davison and the wife of Tenth Doctor David Tennant) to Radio Times. “But because it was just one episode I thought ‘Oh…that’ll just come and go.’ But it hasn’t, and everyone’s so lovely. Everyone’s wanted me to do this, and at conventions everyone’s been like ‘Why don’t you come back and do something?’ And you know, obviously they never asked me on the TV show…”

(11) PREGAME RITUAL. HBO needs to find a way to keep the cash register ringing: “Game of Thrones: HBO orders spinoff prequel pilot”.

Game of Thrones could be getting a prequel series, HBO has announced, one of five potential spin-offs from the series.

Book author George RR Martin has created the new series alongside British screenwriter Jane Goldman.

HBO has ordered a pilot episode for the show, set thousands of years before the battles over the Iron Throne.

Executives say any spin-off will not be broadcast until after Game of Thrones’ final season in 2019.

If picked up, the prequel will chronicle “the world’s descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour”, HBO said in a statement.

“From the horrifying secrets of Westeros’ history to the true origin of the White Walkers, the mysteries of the East, to the Starks of legend… it’s not the story we think we know.”

Gosh!

(12) LIGHTLY FROSTED. David Pogue, in the Yahoo Entertainment story “How technology brings Broadway’s ‘Frozen’ musical to life”, looks at how the current theatrical adaptation of Frozen is a very high-tech production.

In “Frozen,” technology is behind most of it. Almost none of the effects in the Broadway show would have been technologically possible five years ago.

“I mean, scenery remains scenery, but the video and the lighting equipment is changing so fast. Even by the time we take the show to London, the video technology we use here will almost be obsolete. It moves that rapidly.”

According to stage manager Lisa Dawn Cave, that technology includes an enormous video screen that forms the back wall of the stage. “Our video wall weighs about 8,600 pounds and contains more than 7 million individual LEDs,” she says.

It’s complemented by 19 projectors — six over the stage, and 13 on the ceiling of the theater, on the balcony railing, and on the box seats. “They’re laser projectors — not lasers in the sense like you see laser beams in movies,” says show electrician Asher Robinson, “but they have a laser phosphor source, which means that we’re not changing the lamps in them, and they’re not making a lot of heat.”

(13) PLANTING SEASON. Elon Musk—in the guise of SpaceX—wants a major upgrade to Kennedy Space Center and has provided NASA with a plan laying out their vision. That plan includes a 133,000 sq.ft. hangar to process used SpaceX boosters and a 32,000 sq.ft., 300 ft. tall control tower with a retro-futuristic ovoid top. “NASA Publishes SpaceX Maps and Renderings from Its Proposed “Rocket Garden”Inverse has the story. Quoting the article:

The Kennedy Space Center might be getting a major upgrade and expansion soon if Elon Musk gets his way. NASA published a plan submitted by SpaceXthat dramatically reimagines the company’s presence at KSC in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The plans include everything from a control tower that resembles a flying saucer to a “rocket garden,” showcasing futuristic designs that will expand the space company’s footprint and potential influence within the US agency.

NASA published a draft environmental review for the proposed SpaceX Operations Area, as first reported by Florida Today on Friday. According to the document, SpaceX is seeking permission to build on a 67-acre patch of land about one mile north of KSC’s visitor center complex.

…The proposal justifies the expansion by arguing that the KSC’s current offerings won’t support the 54 launches that SpaceX plans of Falcon 9 or the 10 annual launches planned for Falcon Heavy. By obtaining the space and the green light to build, the proposal says, SpaceX will have the facilities it needs to build, repair, and launch more rockets each year.

SpaceX plans to reach 30 orbital launches in 2018, which is already a record number of missions for the United States. Considering the grandiose proportions presented in the current proposal, it’s clear that the company intends to reach even further with orbital launches in 2019.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/16/18 Ringworlds For Sale or Rent, Moons To Let Fifty Cents

(1) PLANE SPEAKING. CollegeHumor shows what happens when a ticket agent has to deal with the argument that “My Dinosaur Is a Service Animal” (features Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard).

(2) EARLY RETURNS ON 451. Phil Nichols of BradburyMedia saw a preview screener of “HBO’s new Fahrenheit 451” and weighed in on his blog:

…The new Fahrenheit does take many liberties with Bradbury’s story (what, no Millie? Clarisse as a police informant?), but it knows what it’s doing. Specifically, it knows what Guy Montag has to learn, and what he has to become; and it knows what Beatty is in relation to Montag. Most importantly, it knows how to show the relevance of Fahrenheit to today’s world of sound bites, clickbait headlines and fake news. Bradbury said that you don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture; you just have to get people to stop reading. And that’s exactly the world Bahrani has created here….

(3) MORE WORK FOR HOLLYWOOD LAWYERS. “Stan Lee Files $1B Lawsuit Against POW! Entertainment for “Stealing” His Name and Likeness” says The Hollywood Reporter.

The epic battles in Stan Lee’s comics may be nothing compared to the array of legal fights he’s waging — which now includes a billion-dollar lawsuit against the company he co-founded.

Lee is suing POW! Entertainment for fraud and conversion, claiming the company and two of its officers conspired to steal his identity, name and likeness in a “nefarious scheme” involving a “sham” sale to a Chinese company.

POW! was acquired in 2017 by Hong Kong-based Camsing International, and Lee says POW! CEO Shane Duffy and co-founder Gill Champion didn’t disclose the terms of the deal to him before it closed. At the time, Lee claims, he was devastated because his wife was on her deathbed and they took advantage of his despair — and his macular degeneration, which rendered him legally blind in 2015.

Lee says last year Duffy and Champion, along with his ex-business manager Jerardo Olivarez, whom he’s currently suing for fraud, asked him to sign a non-exclusive license with POW! for the use of his name and likeness in connection with creative works owned by the company. Instead, what he purportedly signed was a “fraudulent” intellectual property assignment agreement that granted POW! “the exclusive right to use Lee’s name, identity, image and likeness on a worldwide basis in perpetuity.”

According to the complaint filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Lee has been selective about licensing his name and likeness and will only authorize the use on a non-exclusive basis.

(4) AWARD NOMINEE. Congratulations to Cora Buhlert! Her story “’Baptism of Fire’ is a nominee for the 2018 eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Award”.

The nominations for the 2018 eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards, which are run by the small press Bards & Sages, were announced today.

I was going to put the link to the announcement into the weekly link round-ups at the Speculative Fiction Showcase and the Indie Crime Scene respectively, but first I took a gander at the list of nominees and all but fell from my chair, because there, a bit down the page, was my name. For it turns out that “Baptism of Fire”, my contribution to the science fiction anthology The Guardian, edited by Alasdair Shaw, has been nominated in the “Best short story” category. I had absolutely no idea about this, until I saw the nominee list.

(5) BLABBAGE. Derek Stauffer, in “Star Wars Comic May Hint At Leia’s Episode 9 Fate” in ScreenRant, says that Marvel’s Poe Dameron comic may have clues about what will happen to Leia Organa in Episode 9.

Given Leia’s weakened state in the comic, it seems even more obvious that she will end up passing the torch to Poe as leader of The Resistance at some point in the near future. The only real question is if that passing will come with Leia’s retirement, or her death.

(6) ARTISTS TO BE INDUCTED. The Society of Illustrators will honor the following artists at its Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony on June 21.

2018 Hall of Fame Laureates
Robert Crumb
Hilary Knight
Jim McMullan
CF Payne
Kate Greenaway
Rene Gruau
Jack Kirby
Heinrich Kley
Kay Nielsen

(7) NEW TO SHORT FICTION? Lady Business offers a “Short & Sweet Roundtable Discussion: Short Fiction Reading Habits” with A.C. Wise, Bogi Takács, Brandon O’Brien, Vanessa Fogg, and Bridget McKinney.

One thing I’ve learned from talking to people about short fiction is that there are many different styles of reading short fiction. There are people like me who read one story (generally online) and then stop and do something else. There are people who sit down with a print or ebook magazine and read the whole thing cover to cover. There are people who only listen to short fiction in podcast form. So I was thinking about the different ways people read short SFF, and I wanted to find out more about these differences. I also thought that since lots of people have different short fiction reading habits, people who want to try short fiction might find that different pieces of advice are helpful to different people. So I’ve invited several guests to the column to talk about their short fiction reading habits and to share advice for people new to short fiction.

This roundtable features prolific short fiction readers, so they have a lot of great ideas for where to find short fiction, but I know it can be a little intimidating when there’s so much to choose from and people who read so much! I hope this roundtable gives readers a taste of how many ways there are to read short fiction and how many entry points there are, and that there’s no wrong way to read, including how much you read or at what point in life you start reading short fiction.

(8) LEND ME YOUR EARS. From Tested in 2013, “ILM Modelmakers Share Star Wars Stories and Secrets”. News to me — the crowds of the pod races in Star Wars Episode I were half a million painted q-tips.

Don Bies: One of the cool things, whenever we’re working together, is people thinking outside the box, and trying to come up with practical solutions. And in the early days, certainly it was ‘let’s see if we can beat the CG guys at their own game.’ Michael Lynch, one of the modelmakers–he was always really good at looking at things this way–he was looking at the crowds. And when you see a crowd in a stadium you’re really just seeing shapes and colors, you’re not really seeing people or individual faces.

So he came up with the idea…of using q-tips, cotton swabs, colored, in the stands of the Mos Espa arena. So there were something like 450,000 q-tips painted multiple colors, and he even researched it to find out how many reds versus yellows and blues and greens that should be in there.

And it was a process of just days of painting. Think about 450,000 cotton swabs, how you paint them, and then how you put them in. Everyone took turns at one point sticking them into the stands. And by blowing a fan underneath they kind of twinkled, like people moving around. Ultimately they did put some CG people on top of it, but I always thoght it would be funny if they caught to a close-up of the stands and you saw a cotton swab sitting in the stands next to the aliens…

(9) ALFRED THE GREAT. Hollywood Reporter headline: “’Gotham’ Boss Sets New Batman Prequel Series at Epix (Exclusive)”. Premium cable network Epix will air Pennyworth. The series has some behind-the-camera personnel ties to Gotham, but is not a prequel of that Fox series. No cast has been announced.

Epix is getting into the DC Comics business.

The MGM-owned premium cable network has handed out a 10-episode, straight-to-series order for Pennyworth, a drama set in the Batman universe from Gotham showrunner Bruno Heller.

The series will revolve around Alfred Pennyworth, the best friend and butler to Bruce Wayne (aka Batman). The series is not a Gotham spinoff but rather an entirely new story exploring Alfred’s origins as a former British SAS soldier who forms a secret company and goes to work with Thomas Wayne — Bruce’s billionaire father — in 1960s London. Sean Pertwee, who plays Alfred Pennyworth on Fox’s recently renewed Gotham, is not involved. Casting has not yet begun and the series is set in a completely different universe despite hailing from Heller and producers Warner Horizon. (Others who have played the Alfred role include Jeremy Irons, Michael Gough, Michael Caine, Alan Napier and William Austin, among others.)

(10) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

Hershey Kisses were named after the “kissing” sound made by the nozzle that drops the chocolate onto a cooled conveyor belt during their production. Hershey started making its version in 1907 but “kiss” was commonly used as a generic term for candies wrapped with a twist as early as the 1820s. Hershey managed to trademark the term in 2000 after arguing that consumers almost exclusively associated the word “kiss” with their brand versus other candies.

Source: Time

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) SCALZI FREE READ. The Electronic Frontier Foundation enlisted John Scalzi to help make their point: “EFF Presents John Scalzi’s Science Fiction Story About Our Right to Repair Petition to the Copyright Office”.

A small bit of good news: Congress designed a largely ornamental escape valve into this system: every three years, the Librarian of Congress can grant exemptions to the law for certain activities. These exemptions make those uses temporarily legal, but (here’s the hilarious part), it’s still not legal to make a tool to enable that use. It’s as though Congress expected you to gnaw open your devices and manually change the software with the sensitive tips of your nimble fingers or something. That said, in many cases it’s easy to download the tools you need anyway. We’re suing the U.S. government to invalidate DMCA 1201, which would eliminate the whole farce. It’s 2018, and that means it’s exemptions time again! EFF and many of our allies have filed for a raft of exemptions to DMCA 1201 this year, and in this series, we’re teaming up with some amazing science fiction writers to explain what’s at stake in these requests.

This week, we’re discussing our right to repair exemption. Did you know the innards of your car are copyrighted?

… The use of DRM to threaten the independent repair sector is a bad deal all-around. Repair is an onshore industry that creates middle-class jobs in local communities, where service technicians help Americans get more value out of the devices they buy. It’s not just cars: everything from tractors to printers, from toys to thermostats have been designed with DRM that stands in the way of your ability to decide who fixes your stuff, or whether it can be fixed at all. That’s why we’ve asked the Copyright Office to create a broad exemption to permit repair technicians to bypass any DRM that gets in the way of their ability to fix your stuff for you.

Our friend John Scalzi was kind enough to write us a science fiction story that illustrates the stakes involved.

(13) HOUSE OF REPUTE. Real estate news site 6sqft profiles a celebrity abode which once housed sf author Robert Silverberg: “Former home of Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia lists for $3.5M in Fieldston section of Riverdale”. Numerous photos of the inside and outside.

A stately English Tudor mansion in the historic Fieldston neighborhood of Riverdale, considered one of the city’s best preserved early 20th century suburbs, has just hit the market for $3.5 million, and it’s oozing history filled ghosts, science fiction, New York master politicians, and urban planners. Former Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia moved to 5020 Goodridge Avenue after serving three consecutive terms as mayor and living in Gracie Mansion….

In 1961, Robert Silverberg, a well-known science fiction author – and not as well-known as the prolific writer of erotica novels for quick cash – bought the house. In his 1972 novel, The Book of Skulls, Silverberg mentioned the neighborhood, writing, “How unreal the whole immortality thing seemed to me now, with the jeweled cables of the George Washington Bridge gleaming far to the southwest, and the soaring bourgeois towers of Riverdale hemming us on to the right, and the garlicky realities of Manhattan straight ahead.”

(14) PROBLEM FIXER. Michael Z. Williamson’s advice is to ban the people who complain about a convention GoH.

…Your only rational, immediate response to avoid “controversy” is just to ban the person making the public scene. They’ve already told you by this action that they intend to cause trouble for at least one of your guests and that guest’s followers.

“I wouldn’t feel safe with this person at the con!”
“We’re sorry you feel that way.  Here’s a full refund.* We hope to see you at a future event.”

Then stop responding. You’ll only give attention to an attention whore.

Having seen this happen to guests at least three times, any future guest invitations I accept will involve a signed cancellation clause and a cash penalty for doing so, because once a guest has made arrangements for your event, they can’t schedule something else, and you’re eating up their writing/art/production time. They are there for YOUR benefit, not you for theirs. In my case, I currently have three novels, a collection, an anthology, all contracted, another novel offer, three on spec, an article request, three short stories and a lengthy stack of products to test and review, and an entire summer of professional bookings. I have a not-quite four year old and a teenager. Don’t waste my time then roll over for some worthless whiner….

(15) MAKING PLANS. John Ringo, in a public Facebook post, advises writers —

…With every other convention, assume you’re being set-up at this point and don’t be played for a sucker.

Oh, yeah, and as fans and lovers of liberty, never, ever attend Origins again if you ever have. Or ConCarolinas. (Sorry, Jada.) Or ArchCon. Or WorldCon.

We need a list. They never will be missed. No they never will be missed.

(16) ALTERNATE SPORTS HISTORY. Counterfactual: “Blimps Full Of Money And 30 Other Sports Fantasias In ‘Upon Further Review'”. What if football had stayed boring, or the US had boycotted the Berlin Olympics, or …?

Mike Pesca assembled the new book titled Upon Further Review: The Greatest What-Ifs In Sports History and a companion podcast. In an interview, he explained some of the book’s 31 different scenarios written by 31 sportswriters.

(17) SYMBOLISM. “Henrietta Lacks’ Lasting Impact Detailed In New Portrait” — shoutouts to unwitting donor of a cell line that has been used all over biomedicine.

When Henrietta Lacks was dying of cancer in 1951, her cells were harvested without her knowledge. They became crucial to scientific research and her story became a best-seller. Since then, Lacks has become one of the most powerful symbols for informed consent in the history of science.

On Monday, when the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., honored Lacks by installing a painting of her just inside one of its main entrances, three of Lacks’ grandchildren were there.

(18) BIRD IS THE WORD. “Dinosaur parenting: How the ‘chickens from hell’ nested”. “How do you sit on your nest of eggs when you weigh over 1,500kg?”

Dinosaur parenting has been difficult to study, due to the relatively small number of fossils, but the incubating behaviour of oviraptorosaurs has now been outlined for the first time.

Scientists believe the largest of these dinosaurs arranged their eggs around a central gap in the nest.

This bore the parent’s weight, while allowing them to potentially provide body heat or protection to their developing young, without crushing the delicate eggs.

The feathered ancient relatives of modern birds, oviraptorosaurs lived in the Late Cretaceous period, at least 67 million years ago.

(19) SF TV ARCHEOLOGY. Echo Ishii’s tour of old sf TV leads this time to “SF Obscure: Cosmic Slop.

Cosmic Slop was a 1994 TV anthology series on HBO featuring three short black science fiction movies. (I have also seen the broadcast date listed as 1995.) It features three short “Space Traders” based on the Derrick Bell short story; “The First Commandment” and “Tang”. It’s kind of a Twilight Zone vibe with George Clinton of Parliament Funkadelic during the intros. (It’s as bizarre in the way only George Clinton can be.)

(20) TREK MEDICINE TODAY. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination hosts “Star Trek, the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE & the Future of Medicine” on June 2, with Qualcomm XPRIZE Tricorder Prize winner Basil Harris, Robert Picardo (actor, Emergency Medical Hologram, Star Trek: Voyager), and Dr. Rusty Kallenberg, Chairman of Family Medicine and Director of the UCSD XPRIZE Test Program.

June 2, 2018
5:00-7:00pm
Liebow Auditorium
UC San Diego

Artificial intelligence is already impacting healthcare is numerous ways. Are we far from the future portrayed in Star Trek: Voyager, of an AI holographic doctor with encyclopedic medical knowledge? What are the pathways that will yield the most profound results for AI in medicine? And what are the ethical and regulatory issues we need to consider as we develop these technologies?

Hosted by Erik Viirre, associate director of the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination and Medical Director of the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE, The Future of Medicine is an exploration of these questions and more, as they impact the UC San Diego innovation ecosystem and beyond. Our master of ceremonies is Robert Picardo, actor and star of Star Trek: Voyager, where he left a cultural impact as the face of AI medicine as the Emergency Medical Hologram, known as “The Doctor.” Basil Harris, founder of Basil Leaf Technologies and winner of the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE to develop a real-world Tricorder-like medical device, will share his experience developing DextER, an autonomous medical diagnostic device, and the future of this pathway for innovation. And leaders from UC San Diego will join a panel on artificial agents in medical technology development.

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