Pixel Scroll 7/11/19 Pixel Twice, Scroll Once

(1) NOW WITH ADDED KA-BOOM! Filer Charon Dunn is off to the San Diego Comic-Con to plug her new book, A Dark and Stormy Day, the culmination of the Adventures of Sonny Knight trilogy, “which has even more explosions than the last two.”

I’m going to be providing copious updates on my Facebook page, but if you’re not a Facebooker, I’ll do a summary after I get back. If you are a Facebooker, throw me a like. It’s my first SDCC, so I’m mostly going to be wandering around gawking at everything like an utter yokel.

I will be wearing my fabulous SDCC battle armor: a denim vest with the solar system embroidered on the back, to discourage me from buying more superfluous hoodies while giving me a place to display my collectable pins.

Dunn will also be carrying swag to distribute to her readers – don’t miss out!

(2) ONLY HUNDREDS OF SHOPPING DAYS TIL CHRISTMAS. During Hallmark’s Keepsake Ornament Premiere Event from July 13-21, there will be “event exclusive offers” on the Hogwarts Tree Topper and Harry Potter Collection. The castle lights up and plays music. Ooh, ahh!

(3) STATION ELEVEN COMING TO MORE STATIONS. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Emily St. John-Mandel’s award-winning post-apocalyptic novel Station Eleven is getting a small-screen adaptation. The novel, which won the 2015 Arthur C. Clarke award, follows a theatre troupe as they travel around the Great Lakes some decades after a pandemic wiped out most of civilization. It’s an excellent novel, though I have to admit that I find the author’s dismissal of science fiction as a genre to be annoying (much like Ian MacEwan). 

CBC Books has the story: “Emily St. John Mandel’s novel Station Eleven being adapted into 10-episode TV series”

(4) BOWIE FIGURE. The New York Times shares details of “A David Bowie Barbie: Mattel Unveils Ziggy Stardust Doll”.

On Thursday, the world learned that Barbie is a Bowie fan.

With its release of a doll dressed as David Bowie’s glittering alter ego Ziggy Stardust, Mattel said it was celebrating the 50th anniversary of “Space Oddity,” released in 1969.

The new Barbie doll wears a body-hugging metallic “spacesuit,” calf-high red platform boots and silver earrings with dangling stars. Her dark red hair is slicked back like Ziggy Stardust’s, and daubed on her forehead is the golden circle he wore. Her nails are painted black.

It’s a notably androgynous look for a doll that epitomized the stereotypes of feminine appearance in its earlier iterations….

(5) BARBIE’S SPACESUIT. And that’s not all the Barbie news – BBC reports “Barbie and ESA launch plan to get more girls in space”.

Barbie has teamed up with the European Space Agency (ESA) to encourage girls to become the next generation of astronauts.

Currently, only 15 percent of active astronauts in the world are female and, 50 years on from the first person landing on the moon, no woman has ever landed on the moon.

The ESA only has one active astronaut. She’s called Samantha Cristoforetti.

In order to highlight the lack of female astronauts, the company behind Barbie – Mattel – has made a special one-of-a-kind doll of Cristoforetti.

The astronaut hopes her collaboration with Barbie “will help young girls and boys to dream about their future without limits.”

(6) THE MOTES ON NEIL’S SUIT. A lot bigger and older than Barbie’s, and in need of refurbishing: “Of Little Details And Lunar Dust: Preserving Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 Spacesuit”.

When astronaut Neil Armstrong first stepped on the moon 50 years ago, it was a giant leap for functional fashion.

The spacesuit he wore was an unprecedented blend of technology and tailoring.

“The suit itself is an engineering marvel,” says Malcolm Collum, the chief conservator for the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. “Every single thing on here is a specific function. It is engineered to the last little detail.”

Take the metal fittings that connect the helmet, air tubes and gloves. They’re brightly colored — for example, vivid red metal for the right glove, neon blue for the left. Patriotic, yes, but also exceptionally functional. That’s because NASA wanted to make sure that in all of the excitement of landing on the moon, Armstrong was able to easily connect his gear.

And that attention to detail is evident from helmet to toe. The stitching throughout is meticulous — much of it done by hand in 1969. The suit had to be tough, flexible and airtight. Armstrong’s life depended on a finely guided needle and thread.

But decades of being on display throughout the country took a toll. In 2006, Smithsonian technicians noticed Armstrong’s spacesuit was showing signs of age. So they removed it from the Air and Space Museum in Washington, moved it to a storage facility and laid it out in a drawer.

Collum and his team of technicians have had the job of getting Armstrong’s spacesuit standing tall and back on public view again.

(7) SOURCE OF THE TROUBLE. The author of Ash Kickers explains the set-up in “The Big Idea: Sean Grigsby” at Whatever.

Whatever catastrophe nature throws at us, people always seem to make it worse.

Not all of us. Some seek to help and not to hurt, to heal instead of destroy. Firefighters are just one example of a few good people trying to make a difference. I’m proud to call myself one. But, like I said, sometimes there are a few hateful assholes standing in our way.

The Smoke Eaters series is about firefighters versus newly-returned dragons, sure, but there are other big ideas at play. In the first book I talk about corrupt government using disasters for their own gain, and replacing first responders with robots. In Ash Kickers, it’s something much worse…

(8) E UNUM PLURIBUS? Popular Mechanics tells how “Pangea Gave Us Modern Oceans”:

It’s hard to imagine all of the world’s land masses together as one supercontinent. Over 200 million years ago, however, that’s what Earth looked like. The breakup of Pangea was essentially the first step in the creation of the modern world….

Around 175 million years ago, as Pangea was violently being ripped apart, new rifts started opening on the ocean floor. Water-heavy slabs started falling in one after another, faster and farther down than they had before until the water began to evaporate entirely. With no water left, the end result was millions of years of water loss like the planet had never seen.

With ocean levels now rising due to man-made climate change, the idea of chucking all the water into the Earth’s mantle sounds tempting. No such luck, Karlsen says.

“While the deep water cycle can effectively change sea level over hundreds of millions to billions of years, climate change can change the sea level in zero to 100 years,” she says. “For comparison, the present-day sea level rise associated with climate change is about 0.1 inches (3.2 millimeters) a year. The sea level drop associated with the deep water cycle is about 1/10,000 of that.”

(9) CORTESE OBIT. Her credits included Fellini’s Juliet of the Spirits (1965) and Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988). The New York Times remembers her in “Valentina Cortese, a Leading Italian Film Actress, Dies at 96”.

Valentina Cortese, an Italian film actress best known for her role as a fading, tippling movie diva in François Truffaut’s “Day for Night,” which earned her a 1975 Academy Award nomination and, remarkably, an apology from the winner, Ingrid Bergman, died on Wednesday in Milan. She was 96.

(10) NICKERSON OBIT. BBC reports the death of  Willy Wonka cast member: “Denise Nickerson: Violet Beauregarde actress dies aged 62”

Denise Nickerson, the former child actress who played Violet Beauregarde in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, has died aged 62.

Nickerson’s family announced the news in a Facebook post that read: “She’s gone.”

In earlier updates on social media, her family said she had pneumonia and had experienced several seizures.

Nickerson – who was cast opposite Gene Wilder at the age of 13 – had previously survived a stroke in 2018.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 11, 1899 E. B. White. Author of Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, both of which are surely genre. (Died 1985.)
  • Born July 11, 1913 Cordwainer Smith. Pen name of Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger. Most of his fiction was set in The Instrumentality of Mankind series which I know I’ve read once upon a time at in fragments. Both iBooks and Kindle are well stocked with his novels and short stories including Scanners Live in Vain, a most excellent novella. (Died 1966.)
  • Born July 11, 1920 Yul Brynner. The Gunslinger in Westworld and its sequel Futureword.  He would also play Carson, a human warrior in the post-apocalyptic The Ultimate Warrior. I don’t think we can consider The King and I genre… (Died 1985.)
  • Born July 11, 1925 David Graham, 84. Early voice of the Daleks on Doctor Who, Dutch as The Daleks and The Dalek Invasion of Earth. He also provided a number of the voices on the Thunderbirds. And In the 1984 television Super Bowl advert filmed to introduce the Apple Macintosh computer, he played the role of Big Brother.
  • Born July 11, 1956 Amitav Ghosh, 63. Author of the absolutely brilliant The Calcutta Chromosome: A Novel of Fevers, Delirium and Discovery. Really go read it and with we’ll discuss it over a cup of chai masala. 
  • Born July 11, 1958 Alan Gutierrez, 61. An artist and illustrator, specializing in SF and fantasy cover art. His first professional sale was to the now defunct semi-professional Fantasy Book in 1983. He then began producing work for Baen Books, Tor Books,Pequod Press  and other publishers. He has also painted covers for Analog magazine, Aboriginal Science Fiction, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and other SF magazines.
  • Born July 11, 1959 Richard James Bleiler, 60. Genres breed academics. One of them is this bibliographer of speculative, crime, and adventure fiction. Among his papers are “The Fantastic Pulp Fiction of Frank Belknap Long” which appeared in Gary Hoppenstand’s Pulp Fiction of the ’20S and ’30S and “Forgotten Giant: A Brief History of Adventure Magazine” which was published in Extrapolation: A Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy.
  • Born July 11, 1972 Leona Wisoker, 47. Green Man Reviewer and author of the excellent Children of the Desert series. 
  • Born July 11, 1984 Marie Lu, 35. Best known for her Legend trilogy, a dystopian and militarized future.  Lionsgate has optioned it for a film. She’s also a novel in the DC Icons series, Batman: Nightwalker. And a YA series called the Young Elites.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • How do you like this selection of “Rejected Wizard of Oz Characters,” courtesy of The Argyle Sweater?

(13) HE CAN SIT ANYWHERE HE WANTS. Camestros Felapton did something rather amusing with the new poster art for Star Trek: Picard — “New TNG Spin Off Looks Interesting”.

(14) TRUE GRIT. Gizmodo finds a very good way to make a dry topic interesting: “Research Sheds Light on Strange Seaway That Once Covered the Sahara”.

The Sahara might seem like one of Earth’s most lifeless regions today, but its fossils show it was once a vast seaway filled giant fish and some of the largest sea snakes the planet has ever seen.

From 100 million to 50 million years ago, a large seaway up to 160 feet deep covered much of West Africa, leaving behind lots of marine fossils, including vertebrates, invertebrates, plants, and microbes. Many of them were surprisingly large. It’s difficult to study this region due to harsh geopolitical and physical climates, so a group of scientists decided to compile and synthesize lots of existing research on the area

(15) ON THE SCALES. Paul Weimer analyzes the pedigree of Evan Winter’s new book for readers of the B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog: Gladiator Meets The Count of Monte Cristo in the African-Inspired Fantasy Epic The Rage of Dragons.

The Rage of Dragons, the debut epic from self-publishing success story Evan Winter, distinguishes itself by its setting, a fantasy world inspired by Africa, but truly impresses with its storytelling. It weaves a tale of determination, love, revenge, and war that is, at its core, the story of one young man who, even as he seeks to improve his life by learning the art of war, must grapple with deadly politics, powerful magic, and a threat that could destroy an entire civilization.

(16) RELATIVITY. The Hugo Award Book Club blog reviews a set of finalists in “Best Related Work: Category or Collection of Categories?”. One work on the list is —  

The Story Of The Hugos 
It seems odd to us that this is only the second time that Jo Walton has appeared on a Hugo Award ballot. It can be argued that several of her novels and non-fiction works warrant the recognition.

Her Informal History Of The Hugo Awards, based around the Tor.com blog posts of the same name that she wrote a couple of years ago, traces the history of the awards through their creation in 1953, through to the year 2000. True to its name, this is a subjective look at both the winners and the shortlists, livened with insight and personal anecdotes.

The book version adds significant material, additional essays and footnotes, as well as a curated set of comments from the blog. Walton has a deep and rich knowledge of science fiction and of fandom, and it shines through in essay after essay tackling controversies of years past, or years where she might disagree with the verdict of Hugo voters.

This is a work that we believe will have enduring value. In most years it would be a lock for the top of our Best Related Work ballots.

(17) HUGO REVIEWS. Bonnie McDaniel is back with “Hugo Reading 2019: Best Novelette”.

4) “The Thing About Ghost Stories,” Naomi Kritzer

This is a lovely story about just what it says–ghost stories, not ghosts. Although ghosts definitely make an appearance, in the form of the narrator’s mother, who recently succumbed to Alzheimer’s. (The details of this ring scarily true, by the way.) This is another quiet story, but in this case, the still waters run deep, and the mother-daughter relationship depicted here is sad and beautiful.

(18) GRAPHIC STORY. J.C. Reid does a good rundown of one of the more rarely-reviewed categories: “Hugo Awards Extravaganza 2019 -Graphic Story”. First up —

Abbott by Saladin Ahmed, art by Sami Kivelä, colours by Jason Wordie, letters by Jim Campbell

A journalist fights racism and magic in 70s Detroit.

You can’t go past a good high concept, and Blaxploitation Call of Cthulhu is a pretty great high concept.  What rapidly becomes apparent is that Ahmed has aspirations beyond kick ass action comics, and is engaging with more than the superficial trappings of blaxploitation.  It starts with the setting – 70s Detroit in washed out colours, newspaper headlines, and near ubiquitous smoking.  Everywhere we visit in the story we see divisions along race, gender and class, and the genius at work here is to carry these divisions over to the supernatural.

(19) IN THIS CORNER. James Davis Nicoll orchestrates a cage match between two classic names in “Heinlein’s Juveniles vs. Andre Norton’s Young Adult Novels” at Tor.com.

Something about Heinlein’s characters that eluded me when I was an idiot teen: some of his protagonists (in particular Rod from Tunnel in the Sky) were not necessarily the sharpest pencils in the box. They’re always good-hearted fellows, but also naive enough to justify folksy lecturing from mentors. This also allows readers to feel just a little superior to the fellow who, for example, can’t seem to work out that another character is a girl even after he wrestles with her, then partners up with her (leading a third party to inquire, “Rod…were you born that stupid? Or did you have to study?”).

(20) OBJECTS MAY BE SMALLER THAN THEY APPEAR. NPR says “At The T-Rex Races: On Your Mark, Get Set, Rawwrr!”

At first glance, the starting gate at Emerald Downs racetrack looks relatively normal. But then the gates open and the race begins, and instead of thoroughbreds a mass of people bursts forth, running as fast as they can — while wearing oversized T-Rex costumes.

“The T-Rexes stand at the ready — and T-Rexes away!” track announcer Tom Harris yells, as prehistoric — and hilarious — chaos breaks out on the track.

At the wire, a dino named Regular Unleaded took the victory, holding off Rex Girlfriend by a tail.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/21/19 A Scroll Without A Pixel Is Like A Walrus Without An Antenna

(1) LITERARY DIVE. Juliette Wade and her Dive Into Worldbuilding team interview “Caroline Ratajski”. There’s a detailed synopsis you can read at the link, and a video recording you can see on YouTube.

…We asked how writing a chapter every two weeks for an audience affects her writing process. It does put certain limits on her. She can’t revise anything that came before. She needs to give events a runway, wants to avoid writing a specific year when events occurred, etc. She has an outline, and she has an outline of how the characters should interact and grow over time. She also has a sense of how she wants the garden to develop, and what she wants the climax to look like.

Carrie [Caroline] described this as the “fanfic model of writing.” She used to write fanfic, so it works for her. The response of the audience buoys her. She says this has all the advantages of fanfic, and also The Secret Garden is out of copyright, so that saves a lot of trouble. Patreon is a good vehicle for serial storytelling. Carrie said she wasn’t reinventing anything. The original book was also a serial that was collected into a book. Carrie explained that she is not echoing the chapter structure, but following the narrative beats pretty closely. Lennox does meet her cousin in secret. She does have a somewhat combative relationship with her maid, though in the retelling, the maid is not Dickon’s sister.

(2) PRE-WEDDING ALBUM. Kurt Erichsen, 2002 Rotsler Award winner, has published a collection of his strips in Murphy’s Manor – the 30-Year Wedding.

Of all the cartoon projects I’ve drawn, by far the biggest is my LGBT comic strip, Murphy’s Manor. It was syndicated in local Gay and Lesbian newspapers from 1981 to 2008 – 1,183 comic strips total.

I’m happy to announce a new collection of Murphy’s Manor comic strips in a self-pub book, distributed through Amazon. The title is Murphy’s Manor – the 30-Year Wedding. It includes cartoons about gay relationships, ultimately leading to marriage, with or without approval of the government. All told, there are 120 comic strips: 98 from the strip’s original run, and 22 new ones. Front and back covers are in color; the interior comic strips are black and white.

In 2015 when John and I were able to get married legally, I decided to proceed with the book. It was slow going – can you believe it took me nearly 4 years to put it together?? Most of which was in production of the new cartoons. I used to produce 4 strips a month!

Click on this link: Murphy’s Manor – the 30 Year Wedding. I am also working on an eBook (Kindle) version. This is a new format for me, and working out all the kinks could take a bit of time. Hopefully not another four years.

(3) TINTINNABULATION. Open Culture reveals“How Andy Warhol and Tintin Creator Hergé Mutually Admired and Influenced One Another”. Bet you didn’t know about that.

The field of Tintin enthusiasts (in their most dedicated form, “Tintinologists”) includes some of the best-known modern artists in history. Roy Lichtenstein, he of the zoomed-in comic-book aesthetic, once made Tintin his subject, and Tintin’s creator Hergé, who cultivated a love for modern art from the 1960s onward, hung a suite of Lichtenstein prints in his office. As Andy Warhol once put it, “Hergé has influenced my work in the same way as Walt Disney. For me, Hergé was more than a comic strip artist.” And for Hergé, Warhol seems to have been more than a fashionable American painter: in 1979, Hergé commissioned Warhol to paint his portrait, and Warhol came up with a series of four images in a style reminiscent of the one he’d used to paint Jackie Onassis and Marilyn Monroe.

(4) <ROLLEYES>. Dear Simon & Schuster, There is no such thing as a Hugo Award for Best New Writer.

(5) PULP BOWIE. “Artist Reimagines David Bowie Songs as Old Pulp Fiction Book Covers” at My Modern Met.

When LA-based screenwriter Todd Alcott isn’t writing for feature films, he’s working on his artistic side project. He merges his love of pulp fiction with music to create David Bowie-inspired vintage comic book covers.

Alcott uses pre-existing vintage paperbacks as his starting point, before digitally altering the text and parts of the image to create his mashup prints. These once loved, now tattered and worn books have been given a new lease on life, and Alcott has chosen no better subject to grace their covers than the equally beloved Starman. And best of all, Bowie’s fascination with sci-fi, his outlandish fashion, and his love of the antihero make him a natural fit as a graphic novel protagonist.

(6) A COMING OF AGE STORY. Middle age, that is. Past TAFF winner Jim Mowatt’s confession begins —

My wife often teases me about my being associated (married) with a woman who has attended an Oxbridge institution, is the daughter of a civil servant and eats avocado. A fruit that has become so closely associated with privileged millennials. To provide his wife with the foodstuffs she desires, working class Jim from Leeds has to creep into a supermarket, buy an avocado and escape from the store without been seen in the possession of this pompous fruit.

However, I now wonder whether I am reaching the stage where I must embrace the fact that I’m no longer Jim from the block and that I have reached that rather unnerving state of being that enables me to buy ridiculous fruit, not always worry about the price of things and enjoy gentle middle England humour. It’s a terrifying thought but maybe I should just relax and drown in the crocheted gentility of it all.

(7) D&D. In “How Dungeons & Dragons somehow became more popular than ever”, Washington Post writer Gendy Alimurung discusses how Dungeons and Dragons has evolved to attract Millennials, including finding other players through Meetup groups, and having the fifth edition of the D&D manual in 2014 attract more women by being less sexist (women’s strength is no longer always less than men’s and no “sexist artwork–no more armored bikinis, no more monsters with breasts, no more topless ladies (unless her character really, really calls for it” that ensures that 38 percent of D&D players are now women.

(8) BOWEN OBIT. The English writer John Bowen (1924-2019) reportedly died April 18 at the age of 94. Matthew Davis sent this tribute:

Bowen wrote numerous offbeat thrillers (in a territory between Angus Wilson and Patricia Highsmith), and “After the Rain” (1958) is about an apocalyptic flood, but he has a small cult reputation in British fantasy and science fiction television. His 1970 TV play “Robin Redbreast” has been rediscovered and championed as a contemporary folk horror equal to “The Wicker Man”. He wrote half of the episodes of the outstanding 1971 Orwellian dystopian TV series “The Guardians”, and also contributed several fine ghost stories during the form’s 1970s TV heyday. Not Sfnal at all are the episodes he wrote of the TV mystery series “Hetty Wainthrop Investigates” – the original book was written by his partner David Cook

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 21, 1928 Dee Hartford, 91. Miss Iceland, companion of Mister Freeze in two episodes of the Sixties Batman show.  Also had appearances on Time Tunnel, Lost in Space, Land of The Giants, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Yes, she was very pretty and that really counted in that time.
  • Born April 21, 1939 John Bangsund, 80. Prominent Australian fan in the Sixties through Eighties. A major force with Andrew I. Porter behind Australia winning the right to host the 1975 Aussiecon, and he was Toastmaster at the Hugo Award ceremony at that convention.
  • Born April 21, 1945 Takao Koyama, 74. Japanese anime scriptwriter. He is one of the most influential individuals in anime, due to his seminal scripts and his teaching of the next generation of writers. Works that he’s done scripts for which are available with subtitles include The Slayers, Dragon Ball Z and Spirit Hero Wataru.
  • Born April 21, 1954 James Morrison, 65. Lt. Col. Tyrus Cassius ‘T.C.’ McQueen on the short-lived but much remembered Space: Above and Beyond series. Starship Troopers without the politics. He also appeared as Warden Dwight Murphy in the third season of Twin Peaks.  He’s got far too many one-off genre appearances to list here, so do your favorite.
  • Born April 21, 1965 Fiona Kelleghan, 54. Author of the critical anthology The Savage Humanists In which she identifies a secular, satiric literary movement within the genre. She also did Mike Resnick: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide to His Work. A work in progress by her is Alfred Bester, Grand Master: An Annotated Bibliography.
  • Born April 21, 1979 James McAvoy, 40. In the Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune series, he was Duke Leto II Atreides. Later roles included Mr. Tumnus in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Professor Charles Xavier in X-Men film franchise, Victor Frankensteinin Victor Frankenstein and Bill Denbrough in It – Chapter Two

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Free Range has Scully and Mulder pursuing the truth about Easter.

(11) A CAT NAMED GOOSE. Dana Marquez tells Sideshow readers “Everything You Need to Know About Captain Marvel’s Cat”. Feel free to eavesdrop.

So what’s up with the Goose the cat anyway? Unless you’ve followed the comics, the film may have lost you there when it introduced the flerken’s surprise powers and alien backstory. She’s not just Nick Fury’s soft spot; she’s a beast- literally! Read along for more information on Goose’s true comic origin and to find out just what the heck a flerken really is.

(12) BAY WATCH. BayCon 2019 is a month away:

(13) LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITY. This crimebreaking headline comes from SYFY Wire: “Norwegian police ‘arrest’ Night King on grounds of animal cruelty and destruction of property”.

In a parody Facebook post from a few days back, the upstanding police officers of Trondheim, Norway proudly announced that they had apprehended the White Walker leader on grounds of animal cruelty and appalling rumors of wall destruction. These are obvious references to the villain’s actions in Season 7, where he killed one of Dany’s dragons (before turning it into an ice zombie) and destroyed The Wall, allowing his undead army to march into the territory of living humans.

“This particular post was meant to be funny; these kind of posts generate a lot of attention and new followers for us. That’s useful when we later ask for help i.e. solving crime or search for missing persons,” the Trondheim police told SYFY Wire in a statement. “Behind the mask is one of our younger officers, handpicked for the job.”

In addition, the post included photos of the Night King (dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, of course) posing for a mugshot and being led into a solitary jail cell. The arresting officers, jokingly referred to as Trondheim’s night’s watchmen, also accused the Night King of turning once-fruitful regions into desolate wastelands.

(14) HUGO REVIEWS. Steve J. Wright has completed his Hugo Short Story Finalist reviews (and they are excellent reviews, as usual).

(15) NOT COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN. Todd Mason sends along  “Friday’s ‘Forgotten’ Books and More: the links to the reviews: 19 April 2019” – you’ll find links to all these reviews in his post (reviewer’s name first, title and author/editor’s name last).

This week’s books and more, unfairly (or sometimes fairly) neglected, or simply those the reviewers below think you might find of some interest (or, infrequently, you should be warned away from); certainly, most weeks we have a few not at all forgotten titles…

  • Patricia Abbott: News of the World by Paulette Jiles
  • Barbara Barrett: The Edge of Tomorrow by Howard Fast
  • Joachim Boaz: New Worlds SF, April 1964, edited by John Carnel
  • John Boston: Amazing: Fact and Science Fiction Stories,  May 1964, edited by Cele Goldsmith Lalli
  • Ben Boulden: “Hawksbill Station” (novella version) by Robert Silverberg
  • Brian Busby: The March of the White Guard by Gilbert Parker
  • Susanna Calkins: Death and the Joyful Woman by “Ellis Peters” (Edith Pargeter)
  • Martin Edwards: Marion aka Murder Off the Record by John Bingham
  • Peter Enfantino: (Proto-Marvel) Atlas Horror Comics, March 1952
  • Will Errickson: Dead White by Alan Ryan
  • José Ignacio Escribano: La berlina de Prim (“Prim’s Carriage”) by Ian Gibson
  • Curtis Evans: The Cases of Lieutenant Timothy Trant by “Q. Patrick” (Richard Webb and Hugh Wheeler); “Mrs. B’s Black Sheep” by “Q. Patrick”; Speaker of Mandarin by Ruth Rendell
  • Olman Feelyus: Frankincense and Murder by Baynard Kendrick
  • Paul Fraser: Astounding Science-Fiction, September 1943, edited by John W. Campbell, Jr. 
  • John Grant: A Line of Blood by Ben McPherson
  • Aubrey Hamilton: The Dogs of War by Frederick Forsyth
  • Rich Horton: Take a Girl Like You by Kingsley Amis; The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting; Reduction in Arms and The Barons of Behavior by Tom Purdom; Rachel Swirsky’s short fiction; The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines; Gene Wolfe, 1931-2019; Fandom Harvest and other fannish writing by Terry Carr
  • Jerry House: The Vanguard of Venus by Landell Bartlett; Eh!, November-December 1954 (Charlton Comics’ first imitation of Mad)
  • Kate Jackson: The Noonday Devil by Ursula Curtiss; Love Lies Bleeding by Edmund Crispin
  • Tracy K.: The Shortest Way to Hades by Sarah Caudwell; Entry Island by Peter May
  • Colman Keane: Deep Cover and Recoil by Brian Garfield
  • George Kelley: The Best of Li’l Abner by Al Capp
  • Joe Kenney: The Great God Now by Edward S. Hanlon; American Avenger #1: Beat a Distant Drum by “Robert Emmett” (Robert L. Waters)
  • Rob Kitchin: IQ by Joe Ide
  • B. V. Lawson: Death on Remand by “Michael Underwood” (John Michael Evelyn)
  • Evan Lewis: “The Ghost of Dutch Emil”  and “Right Hook to Tokyo” by Ed Lacy (prose content in Rangers Comics August 1946 and December 1945 respectively)
  • Steve Lewis: “Murder, 1986” by P. D. James (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, October 1970, edited by Frederic Dannay); “A Madonna of the Machine” by Tanith Lee (Other Edens II edited by Christopher Evans and Robert Holdstock); Spit in the Ocean by Shelley Singer; “Long Shot” by Vernor Vinge (Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, August 1972, edited by Ben Bova); The Saint in New York by Leslie Charteris; Spider-Woman, June 1978, written and illustrated by Marv Wolfman, Carmine Infantino and Tony DeZuniga; “Skin Deep” by Kristin Kathryn Rusch (Amazing Stories, January 1988, edited by Patrick Price)
  • Lawrence Maddox: the Assignment: novels by Edward S. Aarons
  • John F. Norris: Dangerous to Me by “Rae Foley” (Elinore Denniston)
  • John O’Neill: The Nightmare and Other Stories of Dark Fantasy by “Francis Stevens” (Gertrude Barrows Bennett)
  • Matt Paust: Smoke Detector by Eric Wright 
  • James Reasoner: Captain Shark #2: Jaws of Death by “Richard Silver” (Kenneth Bulmer)
  • Richard Robinson: G Stands for Glory: The G-Man Stories by Norvell Page  
  • Gerard Saylor: Directorate S by Steve Coll
  • Jack Seabrook and Peter Enfantino: DC War Comics, October 1974
  • Steven Silver: “Build Your Own A-Bomb and Wake Up the Neighborhood” by George W. Harper (Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, April 1979, edited by Stanley Schmidt)
  • Victoria Silverwolf: Worlds of Tomorrow, April 1964, edited by Frederik Pohl
  • Dan Stumpf: The Screaming Mimi by Fredric Brown
  • Kevin Tipple: …A Dangerous Thing by Bill Crider, “TomCat”: The Complete Cases of Inspector Allhoff, V. 1 by D. L. Champion; “An Urban Legend Puzzle” by Rintaro Norizuki (translation by Beth Cary), Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, January 2004, edited by Janet Hutchings; The 3-13 Murders by Thomas B. Black

(16) POWERS NOT USED FOR NICENESS. The Boys premieres on Amazon July 26, 2019.

THE BOYS is an irreverent take on what happens when superheroes, who are as popular as celebrities, as influential as politicians and as revered as Gods, abuse their superpowers rather than use them for good. Subscribe to tvpromosdb on Youtube for more The Boys season 1 promos in HD!

[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Bonnie McDaniel, Matthew Davis, Chip Hitchcock, Rich Lynch, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Todd Mason, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip WIlliams.]

Q&A With Jason Heller About Strange Stars

ROB THORNTON: Would you like to introduce yourself to our audience?

JASON HELLER: I’m a writer, editor, and musician from Denver. I do lots of writing about music and books, including reviews and essay for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and NPR. I’m also the former nonfiction editor for Clarkesworld, and I won a Hugo as part of that editing team in 2013.

Since then, I’ve edited a couple of fiction anthologies, most recently Mechanical Animals with Selena Chambers. I’ve been playing in bands for many years, and my current band is called Weathered Statues. We just toured Europe last fall, and it was pretty amazing to get up from behind the writing desk and hit the road with my guitar!

ROB THORNTON: What inspired you to write a book about the relationship between SF/F and popular music?

JASON HELLER: My first concert was seeing David Bowie in 1987, and at that point, I was already a huge fan of science fiction. I devoured books and music as a kid, and the deeper I got into Bowie, the more I began to pick up on these hints and fragments of futurism and science fiction in the music I heard on the radio, including bands like Rush, Devo, and Parliament.

Years later, after becoming a professional music journalist, I began writing lots of essays about the crossover between my two biggest loves, and in 2015 I started shopping around a book proposal for a history of this crossover. When Bowie died in 2016, I was already in the midst of writing Strange Stars. He was always going to be the central figure in the book, so that heartbreaking loss lit an extra fire under me.

Basically, I’ve always thought that music has never been given due credit for being one of the most fertile and inventive vessels for science fiction concepts and storytelling. In a nutshell, I wanted to set the record straight and show how so many works of popular music should be considered part of the science fiction canon.

Jason Heller

ROB THORNTON: What kind of audience do you envision for the book?

JASON HELLER: I hope that anyone remotely interested in the realms of science fiction or popular music would find something to float their boat in Strange Stars. I tried to walk the pathway between the two as sensitively as I could; I didn’t want to assume that all science fiction lovers are huge music nerds or vice versa (although, of course, many are, myself included).

Of course, I hoped my fellow Bowie fans would be particularly intrigued, but the book is not about Bowie only. Everything from obscure disco to underground punk is covered in Strange Stars, along with the huge artists you might automatically expect, such as Pink Floyd and Rush. I made every attempt to tease out to the bigger picture, the overall narrative arc, that connects everything from Heinlein to Kraftwerk to Star Wars, so there’s a story to be absorbed, not just a guide to great music for people to discover.

ROB THORNTON: How did you decide to use David Bowie’s career as a recurring theme in Strange Stars?

JASON HELLER: If all the musicians who were influenced by science fiction in the ’70s, David Bowie was the most visible, not to mention the most visibly science-fictional. But more than that, his very influential contributions to science-fiction music bookended that decade perfectly; he released his first science-fiction hit single, “Space Oddity,” in 1969, and he released “Ashes to Ashes,” the sequel to “Space Oddity,” in 1980. The ’70s fit perfectly between those songs, and as it turns out, Bowie’s on-off fascination and engagement with science fiction that decade perfectly paralleled so many larger events and trends that were happening in both science and science fiction, as well as in popular music. To use him as the barometer of science fiction rock in the ’70s just felt like the most natural thing I could do. Almost all roads in science fiction music lead either to or from Bowie in the ’70s.

ROB THORNTON: What was it like to work with editors on a book about the intersection of two minutiae-oriented pop cultures?

JASON HELLER: I loved working with my editor at Melville House, Ryan Harrington, who is not only brilliant but also very good at pointing out how my crazy, sprawling idea for a book could be focused into something tighter and more accessible. He helped me immensely when it came to making Strange Stars a book that both music fans and science fiction fans could relate to.

ROB THORNTON: Who was your favorite interview for Strange Stars and why?

JASON HELLER: I actually didn’t interview anyone for Strange Stars! It was all meticulous and exhausting research, including lots of quotes from past interviews with the musicians I covered in the book. Since Bowie died while I was in the process of writing Strange Stars, the possibility of interviewing him was sadly off the table. I figured if I couldn’t interview the main person in this book, it would feel imbalanced if I interviewed many of the lesser figures in my narrative, as important as they each are in their own right.

And it turned out there was simply no shortage of research material out there! As it is, I had to leave out tons of great quotes and anecdotes that weren’t entirely necessary to the story I was telling. If I’d had another few tens of thousands of words of original interview material to incorporate into Strange Stars, it would have vastly exceeded the wordcount my publisher gave me to work with! But I think everything worked out for the best.

ROB THORNTON: What was the most rewarding audio discovery you made while you were writing the book?

JASON HELLER: I made so, so many discoveries while working on Strange Stars. I went into this project thinking I had a pretty deep knowledge of science-fiction-influenced music, but as it turned out, I knew maybe half the story. Of all the musical rabbitholes I went down while researching for the book, the one that delighted me the most was science fiction funk. I’d always known that funk (and disco) were important parts of my story, and I collect funk and disco records from the ’70s, but none of that prepared me for the wealth of groups and artists of the era who contributed to the canon of science-fiction funk, besides the big names we all probably know like Parliament-Funkadelic.

If I had to pick a favorite discovery, it would be the 1979 song “Dark Vader” by Instant Funk. In it, the story of Darth Vader is retold from a sympathetic perspective — remember, this was before the revelations about his character seen a year later in The Empire Strikes Back! — that folds Star Wars fanfic and blaxploitation swagger into Afrofuturism. As I point out in Strange Stars, the song does for Darth Vader what Wicked did for The Wicked Witch of the West decades later.

ROB THORNTON: What surprised you the most during the research for Strange Stars? I was amazed to learn that Ian Curtis wanted to work with Michael Moorcock!

JASON HELLER: That was definitely one of the biggest surprises to me too! It’s hard to imagine what a collaboration between Joy Division and Michael Moorcock would have sounded like, but it’s amazing just to know they actually conversed about the prospect prior to Curtis’ death in 1980. Joy Division are so deeply associated with the bleak futurism (no-futurism?) of the post-punk movement, and Moorcock resides at the other end of the ’70s science-fiction-music spectrum thanks to his close ties to Hawkwind.

The kinship between Curtis and Moorcock is one of those startling little anecdotes I dug up that really tied so much of Strange Stars together for me. Likewise, so did the discovery that Paul McCartney asked Gene Roddenberry to help him write a science fiction musical for Wings in 1975! It never came about, of course, but wow, if only.

ROB THORNTON: How would you describe the relationship between popular music and SF/F?

JASON HELLER: It’s an interesting relationship. Neither popular music nor science fiction/fantasy acknowledge each other that openly. Crossovers pop up all the time — and as I detail in Strange Stars, they were especially rife in the ’70s — but there’s almost an introvert/extrovert dichotomy the two. That’s a massive oversimplification, but I think it does get to the heart of it, in a way.

Music is an openly joyous and collective thing; SF/F, and literature in general, is more intimately and personally experienced. But when the two feed off each other, the results can bring out the best in both. I’ve always wished the SF/F world in particular would pay more attention to the many musicians who struggle to find an audience with their science-fiction music, but I’m just happy people still make such music and pay attention to its rich history at all. Which is why writing Strange Stars was such an honor for me.

Pixel Scroll 2/3/19 It Is Dangerous To Be Pixeled In Matters On Which The Established Authorities Are Scrolled

(1) MEN IN BLUES. In Fabrice Mathieu’s newest movie mashup the Blues Brothers are back… as Men In Black!

Agent J of the MIB is in prison. He swindled Aliens while on the job. Today he is released for a new mission. The Aliens are waiting for him!

(2) NOW UNDER COVER. Or under a cover — The Verge reveals the art on the front of Myke Cole’s next book, and Chaim Gartenberg does a Q&A: “Fantasy author Myke Cole talks about writing novellas and ending an epic fantasy series in The Killing Light”.

A big part of the Shadow Ops books and the Reawakening trilogy was how your own military voice and experience impacted those books. Partway through the Sacred Throne series, I know you published Legion Versus Phalanx. Has any of the research or work you did for that book factored into the Sacred Throne books?

Oh god, yes. I mean, first of all, the Sacred Throne trilogy is about a revolution that widens into a war, basically. And understanding war and understanding the emotionality and internality of soldiers and the soldiering experience has been instrumental in my writing for sure. (Legion Versus Phalanx, for those who don’t know, is this nonfiction I did studying Hellenistic heavy infantry combat in the third and second century BC. How the Romans fought the Greeks essentially. Really, it was the Balkan peoples, but Greeks.)

(3) SAN DIEGO 2049. “San Diego 2049: Radical Economies” is the next program in a series produced by the School of Global Policy and Strategy and the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination:

With Glen Weyl (Microsoft Research, co-author of Radical Markets), Renee Bowen (GPS Professor and Director, Center on Commerce and Diplomacy), and David Brin (science fiction writer and futurist, author of The Transparent Society)

February 19, 2019, 5:30–7:00pm. Roth Auditorium, Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine. Free and open to the public; RSVP required.

With co-author Eric Posner, Glen Weyl argues for a new way to organize markets in the book Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society. They seek to demonstrate why private property is inherently monopolistic; how we would all be better off if private ownership were converted into a public auction for public benefit; how the principle of one person, one vote inhibits democracy; ways to leverage antitrust laws to liberate markets from the grip of institutional investors; and how to create a data labor movement to force digital monopolies to compensate people for their electronic data, among other provocative ideas. 

…Joining Weyl on stage is David Brin, the celebrated science fiction writer and futurist who has long explored the future of economic possibility and privacy (The Transparent Society), and Renee Bowen, GPS professor and Director of the Center on Commerce and Diplomacy.

(4) DAWN OF THE DALEKS. Galactic Journey’s Jessica Holmes is back in 1964 watching the Doctor in glorious black-and-white: “[February 3rd, 1964] And Into The Fire (Doctor Who: The Daleks | Episodes 5-7)”.

THE EXPEDITION

In this episode, the companions must convince the Thals to help them reclaim a vital part of the TARDIS.

However, the Thals are so deeply opposed to violence that they won’t take any aggressive action against the Daleks. What’s more, the companions themselves can’t agree on whether it’s right to enlist the Thals in a conflict that has nothing to do with them, even if it could buy them their lives. After some shenanigans and a cruel but effective trick from Ian, Alydon manages to rally a few Thals to assist Ian and Barbara in their expedition to recover the part.

There are two big moral questions in this serial, and this episode is where they’re thrust into the spotlight: when, if ever, is it right to fight? And is it right to enlist someone else to fight your battles?

(5) WELL, IF YOU SAY SO. Will there be another Guardians of the Galaxy movie? Variety reports that, “Chris Pratt Promises There Will Be a ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’.” And he’s not the first to say so.

Chris Pratt braved the rainy Los Angeles skies Saturday to attend the “Lego Movie 2” premiere, where he assured fans that they will get a third “Guardians of the Galaxy” film.

When Variety‘s Marc Malkin asked if a third film could be made without James Gunn, Pratt said, “I promise there’ll be a third movie, I don’t know exactly what that’s going to look like, but I know everyone on board is just eager to give the fans what they want and wrap up a trilogy in a meaningful way.”

Whether or not a third “Guardians” would happen was thrown into question after director James Gunn was fired for years-old tweets appearing to make light of pedophilia and rape. Gunn apologized for the tweets […]

Despite Gunn owning up to his error, his firing did put the future of the Guardians franchise in peril. But, well before Pratt chimed in with his claim (above), Karen Gillan had told People Magazine (“Karen Gillan on Her Directorial Debut and Nebula Confronting ‘Daddy Issues’ in Avengers: Endgame“) in December 2018 that she has hope the series will continue.

“Our director won’t be with us any longer but we are excited to continue the Guardians of the Galaxy story and keep delivering to the fans,” says Gillan. “That’s the most important thing. I don’t have any details as to when [the next Guardians film will come out] but there’s a script in existence.”

She cheekily adds, “I may have had a little teeny peek, but I can’t say anything.”

(6) AN ALT-SATIRE. Politics and furry fandom have collided, but maybe not in the way you would predict (VICE Canada: “This Man Bought a Far-Right Group’s Domain and Made a Furry Dating Site,” Mack Lamoureux).

Wolves of Odin, a group affiliated with an Edmonton mosque stakeout, now has a plushier, kinkier web presence.

If you try to go to the website for an Alberta far-right group, you won’t read the anti-immigration views “Wolves of Odin” usually spout, but you will see the dating profiles of some cartoon wolves packing serious heat. 

Instead of finding some conspiratorial ramblings about how Muslim immigration is a purposeful conspiracy to replace the “real” Canadians, you’ll learn about “Bigger_Woofer” who loves “when you mark your territory on your chest.” This little bait-and-switch website was posted on the Edmonton subreddit Wednesday and it promptly blew up. 

Brady Grumpelt is the man behind the Wolves of Odin’s new web presence. The Edmonton man told VICE that the idea was sparked when he saw men he thought were members of the Wolves of Odin “trying to pull their whole intimidation thing” in the Buckingham, a punk(ish) bar on Edmonton’s Whyte Avenue, where Grumpelt used to work. (Full disclosure: the Buckingham is one of this reporter’s favourite haunts in Edmonton.) A video posted to Facebook appears to show the group causing a disturbance in the bar on Friday, defacing some property, and arguing with the owner. Grumpelt said that while the owner of the bar, Ben Sir, is “lawful good and would never do anything like this,” he’s personally more “chaotic good” and decided to pull something.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 3, 1925 John Fiedler. He’s solely here as he played the ever so bland bureaucrat who gets possessed by the spirit of Jack the Ripper on the Trek episode “Wolf in the Fold”. I’m less interested in him than who wrote that screenplay. It was written by Robert Bloch, a master of horror who would write two other Trek episodes, “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” and “Catspaw”. (Died 2005.)
  • Born February 3, 1938 Victor Buono. I remember him best in his recurring role of Count Manzeppi in The Wild Wild West. In his very short life, he showed up in a number of other genre roles as well including as a scientist bent on world domination in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea in an episode titled “The Cyborg”, as Adiposo / Fat man in Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Colonel Hubris in  The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Professor William McElroy / King Tut in Batman, Sir Cecil Seabrook in The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. and Mr. Schubert on Man from Atlantis. (Died 1982.)
  • Born February 3, 1963 Alex Bledsoe, 56. I highly recommend his Tales of The Tufa which can sort of be described as Appalachian Fae though that’s stretching it. His Eddie LaCrosse novels remind of Cook’s Garrett PI series and that’s a high compliment as that’s one of my favorite fantasy PI series. Anyone read his Firefly Witch series?
  • Born February 3, 1970 Warwick Davis, 49. Forty-five live and voice appearances since first appearing in the Return of the Jedi in in place of Kenny Baker who was going to be a Ewok before he fell ill. Did you know he’s in Labyrinth as a member of the Goblin Corps? I certainly didn’t. Or that he did a series of humorous horror films centered around him as a Leprechaun? They did well enough that there was six of them. Hell he even shows up in Doctor Who during the Time of the Eleventh Doctor. 
  • Born February 3, 1979 Ransom Riggs, 40. He’s best known for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children which I’ll confess I know absolutely nothing about, so educate me. I know it was turned into a film by Tim Burton which could a Very Good Thing. 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) WHO KNEW? Hard Drive reports “J.K. Rowling Reveals That You, The Reader, Were Gay All Along”:

In a controversial Tweet this morning, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling revealed that you, the reader, have been gay ever since the release of the best-selling children’s series.

“When writing, I always envisioned the reader as gay,” Rowling wrote. “This has been the case since the first page of Philosopher’s Stone, and as the dictator of canon, what I say is now established lore.”

Of course, that won’t come as a surprise to every reader…

(10) MORE THAN JUST MONEY. The Little Red Reviewer’s Kickstarter did not fund but there are compensations:  

As you all know by now, my Kickstarter for The Best of Little Red Reviewer did not fund.  Of the $5000 I was asking for, I was at less than $2000 when the campaign ended.

Those first 24 hours of the kickstarter were amazing! I was a “project we love” on Kickstarter.  Amazing people (you know who you are!) put in $50 or $100 right out of the gate to give me a good start. At work that day, I refreshed my phone incessantly, and didn’t know if I was going to happy cry or puke.  The last time I was this excited/happy/nervous for something was the day I got married.

My kickstarter didn’t fund, but I had an amazing experience, and more importantly  I have the best, kindest, most supportive friends in the world. All day on February 1st, my phone was blowing up with text messages, e-mails, twitter DMs, and phone calls from my friends saying how sorry they were that the KS didn’t fund.  Those messages? That support? People saying how much they cared about me and my project, and saying they hope I try it again? Those messages are worth more than $5000 could ever be worth.

(11) NOT THROUGH THE THIN WHITE DUKE. “David Bowie’s son blocks new biopic from using music” but he’d be happy if Neil Gaiman wrote a script.

David Bowie’s son has criticised a new film about his father’s life, saying that none of the singer’s music will feature in it.

Duncan Jones tweeted: “If you want to see a biopic without his [Bowie’s] music or the family’s blessing, that’s up to the audience”.

The film, called Stardust, is scheduled to start production in June with Gabriel Range as director.

Jonny Flynn is set to play young Bowie, with Jena Malone as his wife Angie.

The film is said to document a young Bowie’s first visit to America in 1971, which gave him the inspiration to create his Ziggy Stardust character and 1972 album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars.

But Jones, who is a Bafta-winning film director and producer, said his family has not been consulted on the film, nor does he know anything about how it will take shape.

He later tweeted to say that if Neil Gaiman, the author of The Sandman and Stardust, wanted to write a biopic, then he would have his blessing.

(12) DON’T SLOW FOR ART. BBC has photos — “Tregarth dragon sculpture prompts police road safety warning”.

A giant wooden dragon has prompted a police warning to drivers not to slow down to look at it after an accident and numerous near-misses.

The seven-metre (25ft) carving, called Y Ddraig Derw – the oak dragon – looks down on the A5, near Tregarth, Gwynedd.

Sculptor Simon O’Rourke, who made the dragon, also urged motorists to pay attention to the road.

North Wales Police said that while they “love the oak dragon” they were “concerned” about road safety issues.

“There has already been one accident and numerous near-misses on this section of road which really does require a driver’s full concentration,” said the force in a post on its Bangor and Bethesda Facebook page.

“Please concentrate on the road ahead at all times, if you want to view it, then please find somewhere safe to park.”

(13) SHORT FICTION REVIEWS. Adri Joy shares “Adventures in Short Fiction: January 2019” at Nerds of a Feather, covering Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Uncanny and the anthology A Thousand Beginnings and Endings.

I read Strange Horizons through their Patreon subscription issues, which are a handy way to get each month’s content in an easy e-book format. Useful as this is, the drawback is that each month’s “omnibus” only comes out partway through the following month, which means I am always quite far behind compared to the weekly output of new issues on the site. Also, this roundup doesn’t include the fundraising drive stories which came over this period, which have been collected for backers in a separate ebook and are also available online. The silver lining to this delayed coverage is, of course, that all the original stories here are eligible for Hugo awards right now, should you wish to check them out (and also they didn’t stop being good, relevant stories just because they were published three months ago.)

There are three original stories in the October edition, encompassing very different voices with strong sense of place and a running theme of death and loss….

(14) SUPER BOWL TRAILERS.

  • Alita: Battle Angel
  • A Handmaid’s Tale: Season 3
  • Captain Marvel
  • Avengers: Endgame
  • Jordan Peele’s Us
  • Bud Light ad cross-promotes HBO’s Game of Thrones

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

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions — #6

Stuff I’m Nominating for the 2017 Hugo Awards, Part One

By Chris M. Barkley:

Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form

Blackstar by David Bowie,  ISO Records – Columbia, Music and Lyrics by David Bowie with Maria Schneider, Paul Bateman and Bob Bharma on “Sue (Or A Season of Crime)”.

Album Personnel

David Bowie – vocals, acoustic guitar, mixing, production, string arrangements, “Fender Guitar” (3), harmonica (7)

Length: 41 minutes 17 seconds.

It has been a year and a month since the passing of David Bowie. His final gift to us, Blackstar, is a testament to his musical sensibilities and genius.

In the fall of 2014, Bowie and his longtime producer Tony Visconti secretly gathered together a group of New York City jazz musicians and began to record this album. Although he knew his days were numbered, Bowie desperately wanted to add one last note to his majestic musical legacy.

Blackstar is not a conventional rock album by anyone’s standards. If anything, his use of the jazz ensemble more resembles a throwback to the jazz-fusion era of the 1970’s and ’80.

Besides showing Bowie was well aware of his fatal cancer diagnosis, he was also keen to show everyone that he would not let death get in the way of his artistic and creative endeavors.

Blackstar’s Hugo worthiness, in my opinion, rests on the title track, “Lazarus” and the accompanying ten-minute music video of “Lazarus.” Reading between the lines of his lyrics, Bowie’s symbolism and longing for something beyond death are there, even though he doesn’t know exactly what it might be or what form it might be in. There is no morbidity or fear in these musings, just a sense of wonderment.

You can view the full version of the “Lazarus” video here:

Two previously released songs, “Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)” and “‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore”, were re-recorded for this album, replacing bridges that Bowie had originally played with new saxophone parts played on the latter song by Donny McCaslin.

Blackstar was released on January 8, 2016, coinciding with Bowie’s 69th birthday. David Bowie succumbed to liver cancer two days later.

Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form

Stranger Things (Eight Episodes, 395 minutes, Netflix) created and directed by Matt and Ross Duffer. Produced by Shawn Levy, Dan Cohen and the Duffer Brothers. Written by The Duffer Brothers, Jessica Mecklenburg, Justin Doble, Alison Tatlock, Jessie Nickson-Lopez and Paul Dichter.

Starring:  Mille Bobby Brown, David Harbour, Winona Ryder, Matthew Modine, Finn Wolfhard , Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Noah Schnapp and Shannon Purser as “Barb” Holland.

When I first heard about the premise of Stranger Things, my eyes rolled so hard they nearly catapulted from my skull. And I have never been more wrong and delighted in my life.

The setting:  Hawkins, Indiana, November 1983. When young Will Myers (Noah Schnapp) goes missing , a nightmarish chain of events is set into motion that include a government conspiracy conducted by a local science facility, an unhinged mother’s (Wynona Ryder) desperate search for her child, an alcoholic sheriff (David Harbor) involved in an investigation that’s way over his head, mysterious deaths and other disappearances of citizens and three pre-teen boys (Finn Wolfhard , Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin,) who happen upon an unearthly young girl with paranormal abilities (Millie Bobby Brown).

And there’s a monster.  A BIG ONE! From ANOTHER DIMENSION!

If you haven’t seen this phenomenal blend of horror, sf, fantasy, conspiracy thrillers and cultural tropes of the 1980’s, it would be criminal of me to say anything else do actually describe it. To those of us who actually grew up in that era (and I am one of them, to be sure), Stranger Things nostalgically calls out our cultural past and its tropes in practically every scene; Stephen King novels, the films of John Hughes, John Carpenter, Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas among many, many others.

The cast is uniformly spectacular and earned them all the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series for 2016 against such world-class competitors like as The Crown, Downton Abby, Game of Thrones and Westworld.

So don’t count Stranger Things out if (or when, more likely than not) it goes up against heavyweights challengers like Star Wars: Rogue One, Doctor Strange, Star Trek Beyond and Deadpool on the final ballot.

Best Novel

Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters, Mulholland Books, published 5 July 2016, 336 pages.

Victor, the narrator of this novel, is a clandestine US Marshal in contemporary America. His job is hunting fugitives. Victor does it and he does it well. But there are a couple of wrinkles to this situation:

Abraham Lincoln is assassinated before his inauguration and the Civil War never happens.

Slavery is kept viable through a series of political compromises by the ruling parties. By the 20th century though, only four southern states still have legalized slavery and the rest of the country is “civilly” segregated for everyone’s protection.

Victor is hunting African-American fugitive slaves under the Fugitive Persons Act.

Victor himself is black, is STILL a “Person Bound to Labor” and has the freedom to roam the country at will, but only at the brutal expense of the people he captures.

When Victor is sent to track down an outlaw abolitionist codenamed Jackdaw, he is forced to come to terms with his work, his life and the country he serves.

Even more daring than the plot of Underground Airlines is the fact that the author, Ben H. Winters, is white. A white author, even a well-meaning one, writing about such an explosive cultural topic today, with a black narrator, might seem to be professional suicide in the literary world. Winters, a skilled professional whose previous works have won the Edgar Award (The Last Policeman) and the Philip K. Dick Award (Countdown City) for Best Novel, has won over critics and readers with this brilliant alternate history thriller.

I will be very disappointed if Underground Airlines does not make the final Hugo Award ballot this year.

Pixel Scroll 12/8/16 Let It Scroll, Let It Scroll, Let It Scroll

(1) X-WING. Hollywood decorating the neighborhood for the premiere of Rogue One. Robert Kerr’s photo shows a prop now on display curbside near the theater.

photo-by-robert-kerr-resized_20161208_170203-01

Yahoo! Movies ran a series of photos taken while the fighter was being hauled into position.

Star Wars has definitely landed in Hollywood.

Preparations for Saturday’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story premiere have already seen some big road closures on Hollywood Blvd. — and on Tuesday, an X-Wing was spotted in the area where the stars of the film will gather in a few days.

Pictures quickly spread on social media, as apparently keeping an X-Wing secret is even trickier than keeping plans for the Death Star under wraps.

The red-carpet premiere itself also prompted major road closures in Hollywood, with the X-Wing now clogging streets up further. Road closures will last until 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 13.

(2) JAM ON MARS. Will Curiosity need Tommy John surgery? Seeker says “Curiosity’s Mars Drill Is Jammed”.

The Mars rover’s robotic arm-mounted drill appears to have malfunctioned and NASA has instructed the rover to hang tight while they find a solution.

Having your drill break down while you’re millions of miles from the nearest hardware store would be a bummer, but that is exactly what’s happened to NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity.

The rover, which is currently located at the lower slopes of the 3.4-mile-high Mount Sharp (officially known as Aeolis Mons), was supposed to carry out a drilling operation on a geologically interesting location on Dec. 1 when mission controllers got word that Curiosity was unable to complete its commands. Early indications show that the rover detected a fault with the “drill feed” mechanism that lowers the drill piece to the rocky sample and aborted the operation.

(3) AT HOME. The Chicago Reader visited a  popular sf author in her new (since 2012) neighborhood — “Mary Robinette Kowal makes puppets and writes in a 1913 building in the Ukranian Village”.

A fire is roaring in the fireplace and sprays of bright red winterberry adorn a vase on the deco mantel. The scent of hot cider wafts through the air. What Victorian-era storybook scene have I stepped into on this chilly, gray day in late November? It’s the home of Hugo Award–winning author, audiobook narrator, and professional puppeteer Mary Robinette Kowal, a spacious and stately 1913 apartment in Ukrainian Village that she shares with her winemaker husband, Robert, and their two cats.

 

(4) RETURN OF RUTLAND WEEKEND TV. The Guardian ran this feature in August — “Ex-Python Eric Idle and Brian Cox to take on The Entire Universe for the BBC”. But now the BBC broadcast date is nearing.

Written by Idle, the one-hour show will feature the return of Rutland Weekend Television, the haphazard station depicted in Idle’s sketch show of the same name during the 1970s.

Filmed in front of a live studio audience, The Entire Universe will feature an “explosion of comedy, music and dance” and will air on BBC2.

Davis plays The Big Bang and comedian Fielding is Einstein, while Game of Thrones actor Hannah Waddingham tackles time, and Robin Ince attempts to keep order.

Idle has written songs for the Christmas special, which will be choreographed by Arlene Phillips and combine “fascinating facts about the birth of the universe with larger-than-life comedy characters”.

Cox finds himself in a major musical at Rutland Weekend Television, after thinking he is booked to give a lecture.

The program will be broadcast in Britain on BBC2 on December 26.

(5) DO JAMES DAVIS NICOLL’S HOMEWORK. He’s lining up books to review in 2017, and feels there’s one writer demographic that requires more of his attention:

Don’t often tick the Other/Genderqueer/Non-Binary box in my site’s review gender fields. Can change that. What authors should I consider?

He emailed me the link asking, “Do the F770 people have suggestions?”

(6) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #12. The twelfth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for the four-book Twixt series from Dawn Metcalf.

Today’s auction is for a signed set of all four TWIXT books. But wait – there’s more! Metcalf also has a pile of “own voices” and books she’s offered to donate to a local shelter and/or children’s hospital in your name. The higher the bidding, the more books she’ll donate!

  • $25: Two books
  • $35: Three books
  • $45: Four books
  • $60: Five books
  • $75: Six books

About Book One: INDELIBLE:

Some things are permanent. Indelible. And they cannot be changed back.

Joy Malone learns this the night she sees a stranger with all-black eyes across a crowded room-right before the mystery boy tries to cut out her eye. Instead, the wound accidentally marks her as property of Indelible Ink, and this dangerous mistake thrusts Joy into an incomprehensible world-a world of monsters at the window, glowing girls on the doorstep and a life that will never be the same. Now Joy must pretend to be Ink’s chosen one-his helper, his love, his something for the foreseeable future … and failure to be convincing means a painful death for them both. Swept into a world of monsters, illusion, immortal honor and revenge, Joy discovers that sometimes, there are no mistakes.

Somewhere between reality and myth lies … THE TWIXT!

(7) TINGLE’S SATIRICAL NEWS SITE. Chuck Tingle harpoons the “alt-right” with his most feared weapon – laughter — at a new website, Buttbart. At the bottom of the home page are links for donating to the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Billings Public Library Foundation

READER POLL: What is real?

We asked our readers if reality was a constantly shifting web of cosmic planes, blinking in and out of exhistence depending on our location in spacetime.

YES: %87

NO: %2

K’GULH-TUB KA: %11

(8) GLENN OBIT. Mercury astronaut and former U.S. Senator John Glenn (1921-2016) died December 8 reports SF News Site.

Glenn was the last surviving member of the Mercury 7 astronauts and the first American to orbit the Earth, flying on the third Mercury mission on February 20, 1962 aboard Friendship 7. Following his flight and status as a national hero, Glenn was grounded by President Kennedy and eventually became a Senator from Ohio and ran unsuccessfully for President. The oldest of the Mercury astronauts, he flew a second time in 1998 about the space shuttle Discovery, becoming the oldest man to fly in space.

CNN’s obituary recounted the highlights of his 1962 mission:

….Glenn recalled in a Life magazine article a strange phenomenon that occurred during the mission: “There, spread out as far as I could see were literally thousands of tiny luminous objects that glowed in the black sky like fireflies. I was riding slowly through them, and the sensation was like walking backwards through a pasture where someone had waved a wand and made all the fireflies stop right where they were and glow steadily.”

The flight also featured a glitch that contributed to Glenn’s reputation for being cool under fire.

Because of an indicator light showing that the Mercury capsule’s heat shield was partly detached, mission controllers decided to bring Glenn home early and told him not to jettison his aft retro rockets, which allowed him to maneuver the craft in space. Because the retropack was strapped to the heat shield, it was thought it would provide an extra measure of security.

It would later be learned that the heat shield wasn’t damaged, but the fiery re-entry was made more spectacular by the scorching retropack in Earth’s upper atmosphere. Glenn’s first words when he stepped aboard the deck of the USS Noa were, “Boy, that was a real fireball of a ride!”

…More than 20 years after their historic missions, the team was immortalized in the 1983 movie “The Right Stuff.” Glenn — portrayed by Ed Harris — didn’t care much for the film, saying, “I thought it was dramatic enough without Hollywood doing its number on it.”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRLS

  • Born December 8, 1953 – Kim Basinger, Batman’s Vicki Vale.
  • Born December 8, 1964 – Teri Hatcher, Lois and Clark’s Lois Lane.

(10) TA-POCKETA-POCKETA

  • Born December 8, 1894 – James Thurber

(11) A GRAIL OF A TALE. A dinosaur tail was discovered trapped in amber in Myanmar.

The tail of a 99-million-year-old dinosaur has been found entombed in amber, an unprecedented discovery that has blown away scientists.

Xing Lida, a Chinese paleontologist found the specimen, the size of a dried apricot, at an amber market in northern Myanmar near the Chinese border.

The remarkable piece was destined to end up as a curiosity or piece of jewelry, with Burmese traders believing a plant fragment was trapped inside.

“I realized that the content was a vertebrate, probably theropod, rather than any plant,” Xing told CNN.

“I was not sure that (the trader) really understood how important this specimen was, but he did not raise the price.”

(12) POP CULTURE COINCIDENCE. Reuters reports a “Space oddity as Dr David Bowie treats ‘starman’ Buzz Aldrin in New Zealand hospital”.

In what can only be described as a space oddity, former astronaut Buzz Aldrin is being cared for in a New Zealand hospital by Dr David Bowie after being evacuated from the South Pole.

In a truly remarkable coincidence, Aldrin’s doctor shares the name of the late British singer whose greatest hits included songs such as “Starman” and others about space travel that could easily have been penned for the great American astronaut.

(13) FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB. Reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Livia Llewellyn and Sarah Pinsker on December 21 on Wednesday, December 21 at the KGB Bar in New York. Event starts at 7 p.m. Details at the linked post.

Livia Llewellyn is a writer of dark fantasy, horror, and erotica, whose short fiction has appeared in over forty anthologies and magazines and has been reprinted in multiple best-of anthologies, including The Best Horror of the Year series, Years Best Weird Fiction, and The Mammoth Book of Best Erotica. Her first collection, Engines of Desire: Tales of Love & Other Horrors received two Shirley Jackson Award nominations, for Best Collection, and for Best Novelette (for “Omphalos”). Her story “Furnace” received a 2013 Shirley Jackson Award nomination for Best Short Story. Her second collection, Furnace was published this year.

Sarah Pinsker is the author of the Nebula Award winning novelette “Our Lady of the Open Road” and the Sturgeon Award winning “In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind.” Her fiction has appeared in magazines including Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Uncanny, among others, and numerous anthologies and year’s bests. She is also a singer/songwriter with three albums on various independent labels and a fourth forthcoming. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland with her wife, dog, and a yard full of sentient vines.

(14) THE WORK THAT STORIES DO. Foz Meadows’ well-written piece “Unempathic Bipeds of Failure: The Relationship Between Stories and Politics” found a home at Black Gate:

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need stories to act as emotional dry-runs for caring about different types of people, because our empathy would already natively extend to everyone. But we don’t live in that world; because if we did, somewhat paradoxically, we’d have less urgent need of its empathy, as its unequivocal presence would make it much harder for us to discriminate in the first place.

Which is precisely why stories matter; why they’ve always mattered, and will continue to matter for as long as our species exists. Stories can teach us the empathy we otherwise lack, or whose development is railroaded by context, and yeah, it’s frustrating to think that another person can’t just look at you, accept what you are, and think, human, different to me in some respects but fundamentally as whole and as worthy of love, protection and basic rights as I am, but you’ve got to understand: we’re a bunch of bipedal mammals with delusions of morality, a concept we invented and which we perpetuate through culture and manners, faith and history and memory – which is to say, through stories, which change as we change (though we don’t always like to admit that part), and in that context, the value of the impossible – of SFF as a genre – is that it gives us those things in imaginary settings, takes us far enough out of the present that we can view them at a more objective remove than real life ever allows, and so get a better handle on them than our immediate biases might otherwise permit…

And so I think about the UKIP supporter who empathized with a fictional refugee [in Dragon Age 2] but voted to dehumanize real ones; about the millions of people who grew up on stories about the evils of Nazism, but now turn a blind eye to swastikas being graffitied in the wake of Trump’s election; of Puppies both Sad and Rabid who contend that the presence of politics in genre is a leftist conspiracy while blatantly pushing what even they call a political agenda; about fake news creators and the Ministry of Truth; about every f***ing dystopian novel whose evocation by name feels simultaneously on the nose and frighteningly apropos right now, because we shouldn’t have to cite The Handmaid’s Tale to explain why Mike Pence and Steve Bannon (to say nothing of Trump’s infamous comments) are collectively terrifying, and yet see above re: unempathic bipeds of failure, forever and always; and yet

(15) ORANGE CONE BY THE ROADSIDE. The discussion of Meadows’ main points, however, was drowned out by the reaction to several lines in her closing:

For the past few years, the Sad and Rabid Puppies – guided by an actual neo-Nazi – have campaigned against what they perceive as the recent politicization of SFF as a genre, as though it’s humanly possible to write a story involving people that doesn’t have a political dimension; as though “political narrative” means “I disagreed with the premise or content, which makes it Wrong” and not “a narrative which contains and was written by people.”

Vox Day reacted in a post titled “Please to remove the libel”:

I have written to John O’Neill, my former editor at Black Gate, asking him to remove this false, malicious, and materially damaging libel directed at me, and by extension, the Sad and Rabid Puppies. As I was a long-time contributor to Black Gate, Mr. O’Neill knows perfectly well that I am neither a neo-Nazi nor a National Socialist, I have never been a neo-Nazi or a National Socialist, I do not belong to, or subscribe to the tenets of, the German National Socialist Workers Party or any subsequent facsimile, and I do not appreciate the libelous attempts of Ms Meadows, to publicly and falsely assert that I am “an actual neo-Nazi”.

Vox Popoli commenters spent the day conspicuously scavenging the web for Meadows’ personal and financial details and lodging their finds as comments on Day’s post. Meadows Twitter stream also has been haunted by people unsuccessfuly trying to intimidate the author by sounding as if there could be ominous consequences.

Day made several updates to his post, one saying a resolution was in process.

UPDATE: As I expected, John was very reasonable about it and the matter is being resolved. Thanks for your support, everyone.

But in the hours since, Meadows’ text has remained unchanged nor has O’Neill added any comment.

(16) INVASION. In a New York Times article “California Today: Booksellers See a Threat in New Law”, the A.C.L.U. has an opinion.

A new law going into effect next month mandates that anyone selling a signed book for more than $5 must vouch for the autograph’s authenticity. That includes, among other things, identifying the previous owner.

“If you visit my bookstore to trade in that copy of ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ you picked up at a book signing, I’ll need to take down your name and address and then provide it to whoever happens to buy the book from me,” said Scott Brown, who runs Eureka Books in Eureka.

The law was designed to protect consumers from the booming trade in fake collectibles. But it is written so loosely that some worry it might drag booksellers down.

“I can understand why booksellers are concerned,” said Michael Risher, a lawyer with the A.C.L.U. of Northern California. “The law is an invasion into privacy and should be amended.”

The legislation began with an effort by State Representative Ling Ling Chang to broaden a 1992 law about sports memorabilia. She joined forces with Mark Hamill, the “Star Wars” actor who kept seeing signed posters that were fake. Booksellers say they didn’t realize they were vulnerable until after Gov. Jerry Brown signed the measure in September.

Ms. Chang, who was unavailable for comment, has published on her Facebook page a statement that both “the letter and spirit of the law” do not apply to booksellers. Her reasoning is that the law is aimed at “dealers,” who are mostly in the business of selling signed collectibles. Since booksellers sell all kinds of books, many of them unsigned, Ms. Chang argues that leaves them off the hook.

But some booksellers worry that is not true….

(17) RATS! New Zealand’s 2017 national sf convention has opened a writing competition.

In our short story competition, you have the opportunity to channel your inner rodent, or world build a mischief of rats… Write us a short story which, in honour of our Ghost of Honour, Orville, includes a reference to a rat.

The competition is held in association with SpecFicNZ, who are generously contributing prizes, and judged by Guest of Honour Seanan McGuire. Get scratching!

We’re also running a drabble competition – 100 words of fiction based around a word you invented. If you’re new to writing, this could be a great place to start.

Find out more at www.lexicon.cons.nz/comps.php. Other competitions will be announced shortly; artists, filkers, and cosplayers, stay tuned.

(18) DEAL US IN. Tor.com’s Natalie Zutter has good news for Cards Against Humanity fans: “Patrick Rothfuss and Cards Against Humanity Release Special Sci-Fi Pack”.

For $5, this pack of 30 cards “poking fun at the Sci-Fi genre” (in Rothfuss’ words) will let you throw down the geekiest cards in your next game of CAH. All proceeds from the first two weeks of sales will go to Worldbuilders, Rothfuss’ nonprofit. What’s more, Rothfuss says, they’ll double that donation before passing it along to Heifer International, the organization that Worldbuilders supports.

Here’s everyone who contributed to the cards!

  • Delilah S. Dawson
  • Elizabeth Bear
  • Jim C. Hines
  • Myke Cole
  • Martha Wells
  • Catherynne M. Valente
  • Patrick Rothfuss

[Thanks to JJ, Xtifr, Bonnie McDaniel, Cat Eldridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Redheadedfemme. (Yes, Bonnie, I held over a few you suggested last year.)]

Pixel Scroll 6/27/16 770 Sunset Scroll

(1) BREAKING IT DOWN. Damien G. Walter contemplates “Systems fiction: a novel way to think about the present” in The Guardian.

Weirdly enough, science fiction is not the best lens through which to examine science fiction. In the 80s, critic Tom LeClair came up with an alternative category for all the weird literary novels that veered into speculative territory: the systems novel. These books pick apart how the systems that keep society chugging along work: politics, economics, sex and gender dynamics, science, ideologies – all can be explored through fiction, especially experimental fiction. LeClair applied this tag specifically to Don DeLillo, but it can be expanded more widely: think Thomas Pynchon, Margaret Atwood, David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Franzen, Jennifer Egan and Umberto Eco, among others….

“The future is here,” William Gibson famously said. “It’s just not evenly distributed.” And in these difficult times, the visionary possibilities of the systems novel can be comforting. When we’re in the capable hands of guides like Atwood, DeLillo and Robinson, these novels can be a profound reminder of human progress and potential. In the wake of the EU result, and ahead of the US elections, if you are feeling at all unsettled about the future – go read these books today.

(2) POST-BREXIT FASHION. Jim Mowatt’s FB page displayed a “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted Remain” t-shirt, and I made an idle joke that the marathon runner should really be wearing a different slogan – which Alison Scott immediately made available (or that’s the impression I got).

i voted rhino

(3) WHAT’S UP WITH SFWA. Episode 3 of the SFWA Chat Hour features SFWA Board Members Jennifer Brozek and Matthew Johnson, CFO Bud Sparhawk, and President Cat Rambo.

Includes discussion of what the criteria for game writers will be like and when they’ll go out (hint: soon!). Also the usual books we like, writing advice, reports on the Locus Weekend, Stokercon and Origins, and ice cream vs. sherbet, in which we unanimously vote for ice cream.

 

(4) CAMESTROS FELAPTON. When not busily engaged arm-wrestling with Vox Day about their IQs, Camestros turns his talents to the visual arts.

(5) HORROR PODCAST. The Horror Writers Association recommends the Scary Out There podcast. The latest installment offers a dialog with Kaitlin Ward, the author of Bleeding Earth (Adaptive Books, February 2016). Listen to the episode here.

Hello Horror Fanatics! Today Scary Out There is sitting down with Kaitlin Ward, the author of Bleeding Earth (Adaptive Books, February 2016). Listen as Kaitlin discusses how she came up with the idea for Bleeding Earth, why it’s important for children and teens to read horror, what scary books she recommends, and more.

Kaitlin Ward grew up on a dairy farm in Monroe, New Hampshire, the same town where she lives today with her husband and son. Before settling back in her hometown, Kaitlin studied animal science at Cornell University. She co-founded the well-known blog, YA Highway, and by day she works at a company that sells coins. Bleeding Earth is her debut novel. Kaitlin’s new book, The Farm, will be released by Scholastic in 2017. Keep up with Kaitlin at kaitlin-ward.com and follow her on Twitter @Kaitlin_Ward.

Kaitlin recommends the following horror titles: Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics (Harlequin Teen, September 2016); Relic by Gretchen McNeil (HarperCollins/EpicReads Impulse, March 2016)

(6) FANS WHO SNORT. In the July/August Fantasy & Science Fiction, David Gerrold has a novelette called “The Thing on the Shelf” that begins as a report on the 2013 World Horror Convention, which hands out the Bram Stoker Award.

“The World Horror Convention was one of the better conventions I attended. Horror fans are clean, well-dressed, intelligent, polite, and enthusiastic. I have no idea why this is so. (Although I have to admit I was a little put off by the beautiful woman who came up to me and said she wanted to lick my Stoker. I wasn’t sure what she meant by that, and I’m not up on this year’s crop of new slang terms.)”

He adds the following:

“At one con, a young fan saw my badge had the ‘Pro’ ribbon attached, so he leaned forward and read my name.  ‘I never heard of you,’ he said. ‘What did you write?’

I replied, “I wrote the novelization of Battle of the Planet of the Apes. I said it with deadpan pride.

He snorted and walked off, his way of showing how unimportant I was.”

(7) DININ’ GAIJIN. Liz Braswell tells the readers of Eating Authors about a memorable meal in Japan. The best part follows this excerpt.

My husband, my crazy-blond toddler, my sister Sabrina and I were in Japan for work and fun — the vacation of a lifetime. One night Scott took the baby and a colleague of his took Sabrina and me for a night out on the town. Mutsumi asked us where we wanted to go and of course we answered someplace super obscure no Americans have been to Japanese only please we’ll behave.

She very nicely obliged and led us through the labyrinth of streets, around and around and deeper and deeper into Tokyo. Most of the city doesn’t follow a grid system and buildings are addressed by age rather than specific location; were my sister and I by ourselves we never would have found our way in or out of the tiny neighborhood we eventually wound up in. And forget about stumbling upon the tiny, unmarked, second-floor restaurant where we were, indeed, the only gaijin.

Everything about the place was perfect: from the rustic tables and wooden shutters to the little button one presses to ring for a waiter—otherwise diners are left in perfect privacy. The sake came in hand-thrown cups, Mutsumi ordered for us, we behaved.

We wanted to stop drinking at one point, but apparently that would not have been behaving, so we continued….

(8) EXIT POLL. Nicholas Whyte ranks his Retro and regular Hugo picks in “My Hugo and #RetroHugos1941 votes: Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)”. In second place on his Retro Hugo ballot —

2) The Adventures of Superman: “The Baby from Krypton”

The only radio play in the mix (as opposed to two years ago, when we had four radio plays and a TV play than nobody had seen), it’s the origin story of Superman, and does what it says on the tin perfectly competently. Lara, Kal-El’s mother, is played by Agnes Moorehead, later Endora in Bewitched.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • June 27, 1927 — “Captain Kangaroo” Bob Keeshan
  • June 27, 1966 — J.J. Abrams

(10) SKIFFY AND FANTY. I tend not to cover podcasts — even with hearing aids I’m not able to listen to them effectively. I will say the blurb for this episode of The Skiffy and Fanty Show makes it sound pretty irresistible: 298. Sphere (1998) — A Torture Cinema “Adventure”.

Eggs, squid, and bad dreams, oh my!  Our latest listener-directed Torture Cinema episode has finally arrived.  This time, we discuss the infamous adaptation of Michael Crichton’s Sphere starring Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, Samuel L. Jackson, and more!  At least two of us have a bit of a rant about this movie, so you should expect some pure, unadulterated Skiffy and Fanty rage in this episode!

(11) AND SOMETHING BUT THE TRUTH. Alexandra Erin is right on the money about “Sad Boner Confessionals”.

You can tell you’re reading a Sad Boner Confessional when the language suggests a high wire act where the author is trying to achieve some delicate balance between “I’m a sensitive man” and “BUT I’M A MAN” and wants you to sympathize with the contortions he puts himself through as  a result. You can tell you’re reading a Sad Boner Confessional when a man is describing the worst trauma of a woman’s life purely in terms of what it means about him. You can tell you’re reading a Sad Boner Confessional when a man is telling you everything he’s learned from the mistakes he’s made but none of those things are accountability or personal responsibility. You can tell you’re reading a Sad Boner Confessional when all admissions of past sins have a sheen of humblebragging about them.

(12) LABYRINTH. The BBC article “Why Labyrinth is so memorable” talks about the advantages of real-time puppetry over computer animation. Chip Hitchcock comments, “They don’t discuss how/if the gap has been narrowed by motion capture; would be interesting to see discussion of this — or any input by Mary Robinette Kowal, who has done fascinating convention talks about the practice of puppetry and the theory behind it.”

Jim Henson’s beloved 1986 movie musical Labyrinth, one of only two non-Muppets films the legendary puppeteer directed, is famous for several reasons.

Fans of David Bowie will recall visions of the late musician wearing extremely tight trousers that fail to obscure an enormously large codpiece. Bowie wrote and performed all the songs, including the iconic Dance Magic Dance. He plays a nefarious, all-singing, all-dancing king of a fantasy world of goblins, castles and all manner of strange colourful creatures.

One of Labyrinth’s best-known scenes is a sensational finale that takes place on a set modelled on Escher staircases. It is also the production that brought a then-unknown, then-15-year-old Jennifer Connelly to the public’s attention.

… One of the first creatures she encounters in the Goblin King’s fantastical world is a dwarf named Hoggle: a morally dubious, Sméagol-esque character whose motives and allegiances are unclear. With a huge lumpy nose, spurts of shoulder-length white hair and a crinkled, finely detailed face, Hoggle is an amazing puppet, at once both magical and realistic.

His seemingly effortless facial and body movements required the collaboration of six people working in real time. The character’s large face contained 18 motors, which were manipulated off-frame by four crew members using remote controls. Diminutive actor Shari Weiser controlled Hoggle’s body and Brian Henson, Jim’s son, provided his voice.

(13) STOPWATCH. Are you worried about how long Suicide Squad will run? ScreenRant is going to tell you anyway.

Collider has heard from their sources that Suicide Squad runs approximately 130 minutes with credits. Its DCEU predecessors were both in the range of 2.5 hours, meaning Suicide Squad will be about 20 minutes shorter than either Man of Steel or Dawn of Justice. Considering the sheer amount of characters Ayer is working with, some may be concerned that Squad is actually too short, but a shade over two hours gives him plenty of time to flesh everything out. After all, Star Wars: The Force Awakens had a lot on its plate and accomplished it all in 136 minutes.

(14) A DIFFERENT DICTIONARY. John G. Hartness, in Magical Words’ “Making Money Mondays” post, uses a commercial definition of “Fans v. True Fans”.

Now on to our main topic – fans. Now I’m not ever going to bash fans, because I love my fans. Hell, I love everybody’s fans, because I’m a fan myself. But what we want to talk about today is the concept of the True Fan, what they are, how best to interact with them, how to find them, how to keep them. Looking at that, it’s going to take more than one post, so this week we’ll talk about what a True Fan is, then later on ee’ll look at how to cultivate them, how to deal with them, and how to convert a Lesser Fan into a True Fan.

For the record, exactly ZERO of this material is anything I came up with. The concept of 1,000 True Fans was first put forth by Kevin Kelly in 2008 on his blog post here. He later references a couple of other folks who had similar ideas a little earlier, unbeknownst to him, but his site, with a tip of the hat to Seth Godin, who wrote the blog post that first turned me on to Kevin’s work.

Kelly postulates that any independent artist, that is any artist outside the big machine of superstar entertainment, needs to cultivate only 1,000 True Fans to survive. BTW, this whole blog post came out of a late-night conversation with AJ Hartley, where I claimed the number was 100. I’m bad at math. He defines a True Fan as someone who spends $100 per year on your work, and those thousand people then contribute to a $100,000 annual income, which is a pretty comfortable living in most places. At least that’s the rumor. I’m a writer, I don’t make anywhere near that kind of money.

So what’s a True Fan, and how do I get their hundred bucks? I assume that’s what you’re all asking. In this case, it’s usually a lot easier to show you than tell you….

(15) DON’T BE ALARMED. George R.R. Martin expressed gratitude about winning a Locus Award together with Gardner Dozois, and he couldn’t resist adding a punchline.

All kidding aside, I am very proud of OLD VENUS, and I know Gardner is as well. There are some terrific stories in there, and one that in any normal year would have been a surefire Hugo finalist. This is the third year in a row that one of the original anthologies that I’ve done with Gardner has won the Locus Award, and I can’t tell you how gratifying that is. Gardner and I both began our careers (a long time ago) with short fiction, and it pleases me no end to be able to provide a showcase for some of the extraordinary short stories, novelettes, and novellas still being written in this age of the series and the meganovel. If you don’t read anthologies, friends, you are missing out on some great stuff.

Oh, and before the crazy internet rumors start flying, I had better say that I was only kidding about OLD URANUS….

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peter J.]

Pixel Scroll 4/19/16 You’ve Lost That Scrollin’ Feelin’

(1) OPENING DAY. The PKDFest is three days long — I posted about the Friday and Saturday sessions at Cal State Fullerton. The party starts Thursday, April 28 on another campus — at UC Irvine.

PKD IN OC CROP

Philip K. Dick in the OC: Virtually Real, Really Virtual

Thursday, April 28, 2016, 10:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Humanities Gateway 1030)

Philip K. Dick spent the last decade of his life from 1972 to 1982 in Orange County, having fled the Bay Area convinced he was the target of various malevolent forces, ranging from governmental agencies to religious groups. In Orange County, PKD experienced the anonymity of everyday life in suburbia. He also experienced a divine vision that, as he explained in later writings, permitted him to glimpse the “trans-temporal constancy” of the universe. During his decade in Orange County, he produced some of his most enduring and enigmatic works, including novels like A Scanner Darkly and VALIS that reflect a pervasive sense of paranoia and also PKD’s attempts to make sense of his life-altering spiritual experience.

Schedule:

Opening Remarks & Welcome – 10:30am

  • Jonathan Alexander

10:45am-12:00pm

  • Interviewing Phil, Charles Platt
  • PKD in Perspective, Gregg Rickman
  • PKD on the Couch, Barry Spatz

Lunch Break – 12:00pm-1:00pm

Living with Phil – 1:00pm-2:00pm

  • Tessa Dick, Grania Davis, Gregory Benford (moderator)

Visualizing Phil (in the High Castle and Otherwise) – 2:00pm-3:00pm

  • Sherryl Vint, Jonathan Alexander, Antoinette LaFarge

Coffee break – 3:00pm-3:15pm

PKD and Privacy – 3:15pm-4:30pm

  • David Brin, Gregory Benford

Closing Reception – 4:30pm

Please RSVP to icruse@uci.edu to confirm your attendance.

(2) B.C. Things Kelly Link did before being announced as a Pulitzer finalist yesterday now appear in a strange new light….

(3) VENDORS IN SPACE. Russ Ault told Facebook readers merchants are getting a bum deal at Worldcons.

Some of us out here in the world of convention merchants have, for some time now, been getting increasingly disenchanted with the opportunity presented by the typical Worldcon. (For those unfamiliar, that’s the annual “World Science Fiction Convention”, held in a different place each year, and nominally staffed and run by a different group each year as well.) In a space that is typically similar to that occupied by a Wizard World event, at a cost of more than twice as much per attendee, they end up hosting a crowd that is just 10% to 25% of the size of the typical media or comic con – but the rates they want for vendor space (when you include the price of the separate membership) end up being commensurate with the worst of the WW shows in terms of per-live-body-square-foot results. An eight-foot table and one membership will cost you over $400, with the prospect of having a crowd of as few as 3500 to 4000 people. (Compare that to a 10×10 booth for $1500 with a delivered head count that’s typically in the area of 20,000 – which is not really a very good deal either.)

And they wonder why we bristle when they say things like “The Worldcon doesn’t owe the dealers anything.”

(4) ARTIFICIAL CHARM. Hugh Hancock foresees the “Rise of the Trollbot” in a guest post on Charles Stross’ blog.

… In “Accelerando”, Charlie posited the idea of a swarm of legal robots, creating a neverending stream of companies which exchange ownership so fast they can’t be tracked.

It’s rather clear to me that the same thing is about to happen to social media. And possibly politics.

What makes me so sure?

Microsoft’s Tay Chatbot. Oh, and the state of the art in Customer Relationship Management software….

2: On The Internet, No-one Knows Their Friend Is A Dog.

In many ways, the straightforward trollswarm approach is the least threatening use of this technology. A much more insidious one is to turn the concept on its head – at least initially – and optimise the bots for friendliness.

Let’s say you wish to drive a particular group of fly-fishers out of the fishing community online for good.

Rather than simply firing up a GPU instance and directing it to come up with the world’s best fly-fishing insults, fire it up and direct it to befriend everyone in the fly-fishing community. This is eminently automatable: there are already plenty of tools out there which allow you to build up your Twitter following in a semi-automated manner (even after Twitter clamped down on “auto-following”), and Tay was already equipped to post memes. A decent corpus, a win condition of follows, positive-sentiment messages and RTs, and a bot could become a well-respected member of a social media community in months.

THEN turn the bot against your enemies. Other humans will see the fight too. If your bot’s doing a half-decent job – and remember, it’s already set up to optimise for RTs – real humans, who have actual power and influence in the community, will join in. They may ban the people under attack from community forums, give them abuse offline, or even threaten their jobs or worse.

For even more power and efficiency, don’t do this with one bot. One person starting a fight is ignorable. Twenty, fifty or a hundred respected posters all doing it at once – that’s how things like Gamergate start.

(And of course, the choice of persona for the bots, and how they express their grievances, will be important. Unfortunately we already have a large corpus of information on how to craft a credible narrative and cause people to feel sympathy for our protagonist – storytelling. If the bot-controller has a decent working knowledge of “Save The Cat” or “Story”, that’ll make the botswarm all the more effective…)

(5) A NUMERICAL LACK. From the Dictionary of Fantastic Vocabulary, ”a compendium of imaginary words and their uses,”comes —

Anquintan, n.

a person without five

That’s what happens when someone uses double share!

(6) DO AS I SAY. Dr. Mauser says “Don’t Pirate Indies”. (But dude, your blog is named Shoplifting in the Marketplace of Ideas!)

…. Now, I understand a bit of what’s going on, there’s an awful lot of piracy going on out there, and yeah, in strictest terms, virtually every picture you’ve got on your phone or hard drive that you didn’t take yourself is some kind of copyright violation. I’m not going to go down that puritan road. But let me go through the usual excuses and explain why they don’t apply to indy books….

But I’m broke! – No, you’re not, you just can’t prioritize, or childishly can’t manage your budget. We’re talking an e-book in the $2.99 to $5.99 range. Hell, Comic books are about that much apiece these days. You just bought the latest video game for enough to buy TEN eBooks. You could stock a library for what you spent on that Con. Give up ONE Latte? (Furries are particularly notorious for pleading poverty when their favorite artists put out a $10 portfolio, then drop $50 for a single commission of their personal character in some sexual position – go fig.)

Hey, I’m doing you a favor, it’s free publicity! – Bullshit. In my friend’s case, it’s costing him plenty – hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Free publicity is writing reviews, having discussions, all that stuff they call “Word of Mouth”, and actually BUYING the book so that its Amazon Rankings go up. If you actually Love the author’s work, why are you destroying it?

(7) CAT’S PICTURES. Cat Rambo tells “How I Use Instagram”.

Still working frantically on the update for the Creating an Online Presence for Writers book, plus prepping for this weekend’s online class. One big change since the last version is Instagram‘s rocket upward in popularity. Here in 2016, it is the number two social media network in number of users, second only after Facebook.

It lets you post pictures, often with some sort of caption, and see what other people are posting. Unlike Facebook, it doesn’t play fast and loose with what you see, but gives you a stream composed of everyone you’re following.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 19, 1987 — The Simpsons first aired on The Tracey Ullman Show.

(9) MORTALITY. Rachel Swirsky has revised her essay “On Writing and Mortality”. “It was originally published in 2011. I had recently had a death scare.”

A year or two ago, an article made the rounds which had asked a number of famous authors for ten pieces of writing advice. Some of the advice was irritating, some banal, some profound, and some amusing.

One piece of advice that got picked up and repeated was the idea that if you were working on a project, and found out that you had six weeks to live, if you were willing to set the project down then it was the wrong project for you to be writing.

I dislike that advice. It seems to come from the same place that makes writers say things like “a real writer has to write” or “any writers who can be discouraged should be.” (A convenient excuse for acting like a jerk.)

(10) GOOGLE BOOK SCANNING UPHELD. “Supreme Court rejects challenge to Google book-scanning project”. As David Klaus puts it, “The court says ‘to Hell with your ownership of the books you write.’”

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a challenge by a group of authors who contend that Google’s massive effort to scan millions of books for an online library violates copyright law.

The Authors Guild and several individual writers have argued that the project, known as Google Books, illegally deprives them of revenue. The high court left in place an October 2015 ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York in favor of Google.

A unanimous three-judge appeals court panel said the case “tests the boundaries of fair use,” but found Google’s practices were ultimately allowed under the law.

The individual plaintiffs who filed the proposed class action against Google included former New York Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton, who wrote the acclaimed memoir “Ball Four.”

Several prominent writers, including novelist and poet Margaret Atwood and lyricist and composer Stephen Sondheim, signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief backing the Authors Guild.

The authors sued Google, whose parent company is Alphabet Inc, in 2005, a year after the project was launched. A lower court dismissed the litigation in 2013, prompting the authors’ appeal.

(11) WICKED AUTOGRAPH. Abe Books has a special Something available for Bradbury fans.

SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. (SIGNED)

BRADBURY, Ray, [ Christopher Lee ].

Published by Simon & Schuster, New York, 1962 Second Edition. Hardback. Dust Jacket. (1962)

Used Hardcover Signed

…Signed presentation from the author on the front endpaper to Christopher Lee, ‘For Christopher Lee, who is Mr. Dark! With the admiration of his fan – Ray Bradbury, Mar. 21st 1964’. Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee, CBE,(1922–2015) was an English actor, singer, author, and World War II veteran. He was notably in ‘The Wicker Man’ and ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ but is best known for his role as Count Dracula in a sequence of Hammer Horror films and later as Saruman in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ film trilogy.

(12) SPOCK AT TRIBECA. Yahoo! Movies’ Seth Kelley has the story: “’For the Love of Spock’ Q&A Remembers Leonard Nimoy, Talks Future of ‘Star Trek’ Franchise”.

Adam Nimoy remembered his late father, Leonard, during a Q&A that followed a screening of his documentary “For The Love of Spock.” The discussion took place on Monday as part of the Tribeca Film Festival where the film first screened two days earlier.

Variety‘s Gordon Cox moderated the conversation, which also included Zachary Quinto, EP David Zappone and film critic and self-proclaimed Trekker Scott Mantz.

Adam Nimoy, who wrote and directed the film, said that he had plenty of material. “A lot of things got left on the cutting room floor, unfortunately,” he said. But he added that his father would have approved of the final cut. “I think he would be very pleased and proud.”

(13) IMMURED. “Elizabeth Banks Unrecognizable As Power Rangers Reboot’s Rita Repulsa” says Yahoo! News.

People magazine has lifted the lid on 2017?s live action ‘Power Rangers’ reboot by revealing the film’s villain Rita Repulsa as played – beneath layers of costume and prosthetic make up – by Elizabeth Banks.

The ‘Hunger Games’ star is channelling her dark side to play the mean green witch – her first villain role – describing the character as “a modern and edgy re-imagining of the original Rita”.

(14) CROWDSOURCED BOWIE TRIBUTE. Unbound’s project Fill Your Heart: Writers on Bowie will be an anthology of writers inspired by the musician.

Our mourning isn’t over, but we want to write, we’ve got to write: to him, for him, about him. Fill Your Heart: Writers On Bowie is an anthology by some of our greatest contemporary writers. It is an anthology celebrating David Bowie with creativity. Whether a short story, a poem, a piece of memoir, psychogeograhy or creative non-fiction, these pieces will be personal responses to Bowie, to his shaping work and influence.

Edited by the novelist Tiffany Murray, this will be an important celebration, possibly a strange, mad celebration, but it is for anyone who was and is inspired by David Bowie and his work.

Fill Your Heart will be creating something new, a bold anthology that in some way shows us all how Bowie sparked each generation’s imaginations: how he made us.

Let’s spark together.

The collection is 11% funded so far.

(15) GUARDIANS. A Russian Marvel-esque superhero flick. It’s called Zaschitniki (Russian) or Guardians (English).

Set during the Cold War, a secret organization named “Patriot” gathered a group of Soviet superheroes, altering and augmenting the DNA of four individuals, in order to defend the homeland from supernatural threats. The group includes representatives of the different nationalities of the Soviet Union, which each one of them have long been hiding their true identity. In hard times, they settled down to business and gather to defend their homeland.

 

[Thanks to Kendall, JJ, Will R., Gregory Benford, David K.M. Klaus, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 2/8/16 One Scroll I Sing, A Simple Separate Pixel

(1) WHEN GRAVITY DOESN’T FAIL. NDTV headline: “Announcement Thursday On Albert Einstein’s Gravitational Waves”:

“My earlier rumor about LIGO has been confirmed by independent sources. Stay tuned! Gravitational waves may have been discovered!! Exciting,” said a message on Twitter from Arizona State University cosmologist Lawrence Krauss, who does not work with LIGO.

His words sparked a firestorm of speculation.

An announcement will be made Thursday at 10:30 am (1530 GMT) at the National Press Club in the US capital Washington.

The event brings “together scientists from Caltech, MIT and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration to update the scientific community on efforts to detect them,” a National Science Foundation statement read.

They will provide “a status report on the effort to detect gravitational waves — or ripples in the fabric of spacetime — using the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO),” it said.

LIGO is a dual set of identical detectors built by scientists at MIT and Caltech to pick up “incredibly tiny vibrations from passing gravitational waves,” said the statement.

(2) CHINESE STAR WARS. “Red ‘Star Wars’: How China used pirate comic to promote science in 1980s”  at Japan Times.

Song Feideng

Song Feideng

A long time ago in a country far, far away, Chinese authorities managed to obtain a copy of America’s ultimate cultural weapon: a blockbuster movie with enough special effects to wow an entire planet.

Summoned to a small theater in the southern city of Guangzhou in 1980, artist Song Feideng was shown “Star Wars” and instructed to transform it into a traditional Chinese comic book, known as a “lianhuanhua,” to promote scientific achievement in China.

Song was one of the first people in China to see George Lucas’ magnum opus at a time when it was still banned — a marked contrast to the status of the series’ most recent installment in a market that Hollywood increasingly sees as crucial to success.

“The objective was to take the world’s advanced science and popularize it in China,” Song, who worked for a state-owned publisher at the time, said in an interview.

He replaced the movie’s X-wing spacecraft with Soviet rockets and jet fighters. In one illustration, Luke Skywalker wears a cosmonaut’s bulky spacesuit and rebel leaders are dressed in Western business suits. Darth Vader appears alongside a triceratops.

(3) AND YOU CAN READ IT IN ENGLISH. The whole comic has been translated by Nick Stember — Star Wars comic part 1-6.

Chinese_star_wars_comic_manhua_llianhuanhua6-1024x792

(4) GENIUS CLUSTER. “Alice Cooper on His Dinner With David Bowie and Ray Bradbury” at Rolling Stone.

After Cooper’s initial meeting with Bowie in the late Sixties, they later forged a friendship. Once, they even had dinner together with Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury. “It was really interesting, because these guys were in outer space somewhere,” he says. “They were talking about quantum physics, and I’m going, ‘So … what kind of car are you driving?'” Cooper laughs.

Does Cooper know how funny that question really was? Despite living in LA, Bradbury famously didn’t drive.

(5) NUMBERS THAT MATTER. What File 770 reader can resist a series titled “Five Books About”? Marc Turner’s contribution is “Five Books Where Dragons Are Put In Their Place” at Tor.com.

Dragons may be a trope of the epic fantasy genre, but they are a trope I suspect I will never tire of. My new book, Dragon Hunters, might just have one or two of the creatures lurking within its pages.

Whenever you encounter a dragon, it’s usually the apex predator of its world. But invincible? Certainly not. There’s a quote I recall from Neil Gaiman’s Coraline (paraphrasing G.K. Chesterton) that goes: “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

His first choice is Smaug.

(6) WHERE SAWYER BEGAN. Robert J. Sawyer’s first SF publication was in The Village Voice in 1981.

I’d had an earlier fantasy publication (“The Contest,” in the 1980 edition of White Wall Review, the literary annual of my alma mater, Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, edited by Ed Greenwood, who created the “Forgotten Realms” for Dungeons & Dragons), and I’d sold a science-fiction story to be produced as a a planetarium starshow), but that was my first science-fiction publication — and it came out exactly 35 years ago today.

That story appeared in the 14-20 January 1981 issued of The Village Voice: The Weekly Newspaper of New York, as a winner in a ten-week contest they were running called “Sci-Fi Scenes,” featured in the “Scenes” column by Howard Smith & Lin Harris.

The rules required a story of exactly 250 words — no more, no less (title words didn’t count, a fact I took full advantage of).

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born February 8, 1828 – Jules Verne.

(8) EVEN BAT DURSTON LOST? Charlie Jane Anders tells the story of “That Time When a Fake Science Fiction Author Won a Major Novel-Writing Prize” at io9.

Back in 1953, Galaxy Science Fiction and Simon & Schuster launched a huge contest to find a great new science fiction novel. The prize was $6,500 (a lot of money in those days). The winner? A brand new writer named Edson McCann. Except for one thing: Edson McCann did not exist.

It was a pretty disgraceful scam, everything considered.

(9) PUPPIES MARCH ON. Vox Day announced the next addition to his slate – “Rabid Puppies 2016: Best Editor (Long-form”).

  • Anne Sowards, Penguin
  • Bryan Thomas Schmidt, independent
  • Mike Braff, Del Rey
  • Toni Weisskopf, Baen Books
  • Vox Day, Castalia House

(10) LURKER REQUEST. People are welcome to ask questions like this in a comment on the Scroll. I received this one as an e-mail query:

I was wondering if you recognized this summary, or would be willing to post it (a long shot, I know), to see if someone recognizes it and can give title or author.

Our main character is a women who is involved in a profession that shows a lot of skin; I don’t recall if it’s actress, dancer, sex worker, or what. One day she wakes up in a thick, gray, sack-dress with no recollection of how it could have gotten on her. She can’t take it off and, when she tries to bathe, it sheds material but doesn’t wash away. It turns out that a Moral Majority opponent of hers has figured out how to program nanobots to turn out this cloth, and has set it in a cloud around her. He and his congregation wear it as well, I think? I know that the climax of the story involves that as a plot-point, along with some clever reverse-engineering on what wavelengths the nano-cloth passes or reflects…

Sound familiar to anyone?

(11) HIS FIELD OF EXPERIENCE. Never let it be said that Neil deGrasse Tyson missed a chance to talk science.

(12) SPORTS JOKE. For those who are interested enough in US sports to get the joke, a parody of a series of NFL promos aired during yesterday’s Super Bowl broadcast.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Alan Baumler for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Henley.]

Pixel Scroll 1/18/16 The 770 Horsemen of the Apocalypse

(1) USED BOOK LOVE. Eric Flint weighs in: “How Should An Author Look On Used Book Sales”.

I ran across this blog by the author Kristen Lamb:

PAY THE WRITER

…while reading this article by Rachel Kramer Bussel in Salon magazine:

Don’t feel guilty

It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me or who has read any of the essays I’ve written in the past on copyright laws and online piracy that I generally agree with Bussel’s stance and disagree with Lamb’s. But there are some issues involved that Bussel doesn’t address which I think are actually more important than the ones she does. Another way to put it is that I don’t think she goes far enough. The essence of her argument is that the situation is more complicated than Lamb presents it as being, and is not an either/or situation. While it is true that a book sold in a used book store may represent an immediate loss to an author, it can be made up for in the long run by exposing more people to that author….

To make a living as a full time writer, or even to derive a significant income from writing, an author has to constantly recreate their readership base. The process is dynamic, not static. And the main way an author does so is by having that huge penumbra of free books—“free,” at least, from the author’s standpoint—surrounding the much smaller number of books which get sold in a way that brings direct income.

That’s why Lamb’s view of the matter is so skewed. She’s right that it’s an either/or situation, but she doesn’t understand that the relationship between “either” and “or” is a necessary and beneficial one.

(2) MARKETING TO “FANGIRLS”. Her Universe Press drew the attention of the New York Times in “Narrowing a Gap in the Sci-Fi Universe: One Fangirl Giving a Voice to Others”.

Ashley Eckstein, a self-described sci-fi fangirl, believes women like her are often overlooked. So several years ago she started a company to sell apparel featuring brands like Doctor Who, Star Trek and Star Wars to other fangirls. Now, believing those same women need a voice, she is expanding into publishing….

“Liking Star Wars is not a trend; it’s part of who you are,” she said, adding that she was disturbed to see women harassed for liking sci-fi and fantasy. “It was troubling to me; it was painful for fangirls.”

Mrs. Eckstein started her company, Her Universe, in 2009 after searching for a Star Wars T-shirt at a comic book convention. Unable to find anything suited for women, she instead saw an opportunity to target an overlooked consumer. Her company has since expanded from convention and Internet sales to include retail partners like Hot Topic and, starting in March, Kohl’s, which will sell a line of Her Universe active wear.

Now, Mrs. Eckstein sees another opportunity, this time as a publisher of sci-fi novels written by women. She said she got the idea after receiving unsolicited manuscripts at conventions. “Fans would hand me a book and say, ‘I wrote a story and could not get it published,’ ” she said. “I would come home with stacks of books.”

(3) NOR-CON GETS A REMATCH. Norwich’s local science fiction convention is back after a year’s hiatus.

The annual science fiction spectacular was missing from the calendar last year, but details have been announced for a revamped event in October at a larger venue and with the promise of even more for sci-fi fans to look forward to…

Mark Dean, director of Nor-Con Events Limited, said: “We’ve had a year’s break to restructure and rebrand. Due to demand we’ve moved to a larger venue at the Norfolk Showground, which will allow us to have more people, more exhibits and exhibits that will be able to move around like the Daleks and R2-D2s because we’ve got the space.”

As well as celebrities signing autographs and taking part in question and answer sessions, there will be exhibitions, demonstrations, trader stands as well as the Norwich Star Wars Club UK, comic artists and cosplay – “costume play” – groups.

This con made the “crime news” in 2013

When police arrived at the Norwich Sci-Fi and Film Convention on May 12 they found around a dozen fans belonging to two rival groups involved in a bitter exchange outside. The convention’s hosts, members of the Norwich Star Wars Club of the University of East Anglia, had refused entry to some fans from the rival Norwich Sci Fi Club.

The BBC reported this story under the misleading headline “Star Wars and Doctor Who fans clash at Norwich convention”

(4) CRITICS’ CHOICE. The 2016 Critics’ Choice Awards were presented at a ceremony broadcast by A&E on January 18.

Mad Max: Fury Road dominated the Film division. It was the winner in nine categories including Best Action Movie, Best Actor (Tom Hardy), Best Actress (Charlize Theron) Best Director (George Miller), and Best Visual Effects.

Inside Out won Best Animated Feature.

Ex Machina was named Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie.

In the Television division, Mr. Robot was named Best Drama Series, and its cast members won Best Actor in a Drama Series (Rami Malek) and Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Christian Slater).

Outlander was selected as the Best Binge-Worthy Show.

Big Bang Theory’s Mayim Bialik received the award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.

Also, Rachel Bloom of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend won Best Actress in a Comedy Series. (File 770 keeps track of her successes because of the Hugo-nominated Ray Bradbury music video she did back in the day.) Popsugar reports:

After the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice Awards, you should know who Rachel Bloom is. The star of The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend took home the Critics’ Choice Award for her role on the musical comedy on Sunday. She was clearly shocked to be taking home yet another award,…

(5) ADAMS OBIT. Television’s Grizzly Adams, actor Dan Haggerty, died January 15 at the age of 73. His New York Times obituary lists horror movies he made late in his careerTerror Night (1987), Elves (1989) — playing an alcoholic mall Santa — and Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan (2013).

(6) SCOTTY WOULD APPROVE. A Guardian story tells us, “Star Trek stars endorse SNP’s bid to establish Europe’s first spaceport”.

The Star Trek stars William Shatner and George Takei have backed the Scottish National party’s ambition to establish Europe’s first spaceport in the UK.

The SNP MP Philippa Whitford led a debate in the House of Commons on Thursday on the future of the UK space industry, which she concluded by giving the Vulcan salute. The MP made the case for a spaceport to be established in her constituency of Central Ayrshire….

Welcoming the SNP debate, the actor William Shatner, Star Trek’s Captain James T Kirk, issued a statement that was read out to MPs: “Space is one of the last known frontiers mostly untouched by mankind and his politics. In opening a debate on this subject, my hope is you take the tenets of Star Trek’s prime directive to universally and peacefully share in the exploration of it. I wish you all a wonderful debate. My best, Bill.”

George Takei, Star Trek’s Lieutenant Sulu, tweeted his support: “I wish the SNP and the House of Commons well on their debate about their space program tomorrow. #WhereNoBritHasGoneBefore

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 18, 2008 — After much secrecy, Cloverfield makes its theatrical debut.  An Easter egg in the movie has the sea monster from The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, which was based on Ray Bradbury’s short story The Foghorn appearing in the driver side mirror of one of the cars.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born January 18, 1882  — A.A. Milne.

(9) TRUE BLUE. The Cirque du Soleil is doing a new show in the Avatar universe.

It’s been six years in the making, and now Cirque du Soleil’s “Toruk” is setting up camp in North American stadiums, bringing audiences the magical world of the moon Pandora and its inhabitants from James Cameron’s blockbuster “Avatar.” …

The story of “Toruk” is set 3,000 years before “Avatar,” long before humans set foot on Pandora.  It tells of a quest to find the mysterious creature Toruk, the only one who can save the sacred Tree of Souls from destruction

(10) THE SIMPSONS. Despite the Huffington Post’s clickbait headline, neither David Bowie nor Alan Rickman appeared in this 2013 episode of The Simpsons, however, what Benedict Cumberbatch does in the clip makes it worth 60 seconds of your time —

In the parody film Bart watches, a Hugh Grant-version of the Prime Minister, who is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, proclaims his love for a lower class lady named Eliza Commonbottom.

The two kiss, and a Pandora’s box of silly British pop cultural references is opened, which includes one of Rickman’s most famed portrayals, Snape (whom Cumberbatch also voiced), and a Bowie-penned song ‘All the Young Dudes’.

Oh, and there’s a ‘Doctor Who’ reference in the form of a TARDIS for good measure too – obviously.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, Andrew Porter, and David Doering for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day, myself…]