Pixel Scroll 7/16/18 Now With Bolded Typos

(1) GONE WITH THE YUAN. The most expensive film ever made in China bombed and is already out of theaters. The Hollywood Reporter has the story — “China’s First $100M Film Pulled From Cinemas After Disastrous Opening Weekend”.

In the long lead-up to its release, Chinese fantasy epic Asura was promoted as China’s most expensive film ever made, with a production budget of over $110 million (750 million yuan). So perhaps it’s unsurprising that the film’s producers, which include Jack Ma’s Alibaba Pictures, decided to take desperate action after the movie opened to just $7.1 million over the weekend.

Late Sunday evening in Beijing, Asura‘s official social media accounts posted a simple statement saying that the film would be pulled from cinemas as of 10 p.m. local time. After landing in theaters with limited fanfare, China’s priciest picture ever would vanish from the scene entirely.

Asura is co-produced by Zhenjian Film Studio and Ningxia Film Group — two of the investors behind the successful Painted Skin fantasy franchise — along with Alibaba Pictures Group and other minority investors.

The statement announcing Asura‘s retreat from cinemas supplied no explanation for the unprecedented move. But a representative from Zhenjian Film, which is credited as lead producer, later told Chinese news site Sina: “This decision was made not only because of the bad box office. We plan to make some changes to the film and release it again.”

Chinese site Sixth Tone tells it this way: “Epic Budget, Epic Fail: Chinese Blockbuster ‘Asura’ Tanks”.

China’s latest fantasy epic, “Asura,” claimed to be the most expensive domestic production to date — but it didn’t even last three days in cinemas.

Six years in the making, the film was planned as the first of a trilogy based on ancient Tibetan mythology. The Alibaba Pictures production promised lush CGI from an award-winning, international team in its depiction of war between two heavenly realms. Marketing campaigns for the film emphasized its budget of $100 million.

But after opening on Friday, the film made a mere $7.1 million over its first weekend. By contrast, “Hidden Man,” a highly anticipated action-thriller by actor and director Jiang Wen, brought in $46.5 million. Meanwhile “Dying to Survive,” a dark comedy about cancer drug smuggling operations, defended its box office lead, racking up $68.5 million on its second weekend and even prompting a spike in online insurance sales.

Aggregate user ratings of “Asura” varied wildly across China’s two biggest ticketing platforms, Tencent-funded Maoyan and Alibaba-owned Tao Piaopiao, earning 4.9 and 8.4 out of 10, respectively. Users of review platform Douban rated the film a miserable 3.1 out of 10.

(2) EFFECTS OF COMIC CON PROLIFERATION. Heidi MacDonald tells Publishers Weekly readers why “In a World of Too Many Cons, San Diego Is Still King”.

An ever-increasing number of comics and pop culture conventions are taxing publishers’ exhibition budgets and turning artists into nomads, on the road signing autographs in a different city or country every weekend….

Indeed, the expanding comics convention schedule is beginning to tax publisher budgets while turning comics creators into a hardened (and often exhausted) group of road warriors who must trek to a different city every weekend.

As more and more events flood the schedule, publishers and creators alike are developing new strategies for dealing with the demands for their time. And the conventions are beginning to evolve, some developing business models to stay above the pack of newly launched shows, while others, including many poorly planned and financed events, are becoming synonymous with disaster, poor attendance, canceled events, and disappointed fans.

“The number of cons has really exploded over the last five years,” says Martha Donato, president of MAD Events Management, which puts on the Long Beach Comic Con every September, along with other shows. “It’s [become] every city, every weekend, all year, globally.”

Even for a location such as Long Beach, Calif., close to many West Coast comics publishers, the competition for guest artists and publisher-exhibitors has become fierce, she says. “A much bigger percentage of our time, energy, and resources are now devoted to getting exhibitors to attend,” she adds. “Talent and their publishers have many more offers than they could ever accept, even if they wanted to.”

Donato’s show gets support from publishers in Los Angeles, including Top Cow and Aspen, but even loyal exhibitors have to pick and choose. “Publishers are facing a deluge of opportunities and they can afford to be choosy,” says Donato. “There’s a lot of saying no.”

(3) RECASTING MUPPETS MOVIES. The most selfless answer is….

(4) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 16, 1955 Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe premiered on the small screen
  • July 16, 1958The Fly creeped the heck out of everybody…”Help Me…Help Me.”
  • July 16, 2005 — The 6th book in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series sold 6.9 million copies in its first 24 hours.

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born July 16, 1928 – Robert Sheckley
  • Born July 16 – Will Ferrell, 51. Holmes in the forthcoming comedy Holmes and Watson film,  HerculesHappily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every ChildCurious George and The Last Man on Earth series.
  • Born July 16 – Corey Feldman, 47. Genre roles in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film series, the animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,Tales from the Crypt and The Crow: Stairway to Heaven series to name but a few of his files.
  • Born July 16 – Rose Salazar, 33. Genre work includes American Horror StoryMaze Runner: The Death Cure, and Batman: Arkham Origins video game.

(6) COMICS SECTION.

  • Updating a Kafka classic at Bizarro.

(7) THE TIDE IS IN. Camestros Felapton continues scoping out the Hugo nominees: “Review: The Black Tides of Heaven (Novella) J.Y.Yang”.

As I said above, I found the second half easier to engage with than the first. It focuses more on Akeha, the surpising “spare” half of the twins, who in post-adolesence decides to be confirmed as a male (gender is assigned post-childhood in this world). Fate, prophercy, control and inevitability (whether magical or political) play out as important themes but, again, I think their impact as ideas get lost amid the scale of the story.

(8) IN ORDER. Mark Kaedrin gives his rankings and his reasons — “Hugo Awards: Short Stories”.

In the past five years of reading Hugo nominated short stories, I think I’ve enjoyed about 2-3 of the stories quite a bit. That’s… not a very good batting average. For whatever reason, I always find that this category just fills up with stories that don’t work for me. True, several puppy trolling nominations made the cut, which didn’t help (for example: they nominated SF-themed erotica two years in a row, and then another that was a bad parody of a bad story, etc…), but even the stories I liked weren’t that great. I’ve always chalked that up to this category having the lowest barrier to entry. It doesn’t take a whole lot of time or effort to seek out a bunch of short stories (mostly available for free online too), so the nominations are spread far and wide. There used to be a requirement that a finalist had to have at least 5% of the nominations in order to be considered, which often resulted in a small category because most stories couldn’t clear that bar. So basically, the stories that do make it here rarely have wide appeal. That being said, this year’s nominees are actually a pretty congenial bunch. I don’t actually hate any of the stories, even if a few don’t quite tweak me the way I’d like (even those are pretty good though). I do still find it hard to believe that these are the actual best short fiction of the year, but I’ll take this over the past 4 years’ worth of nominations. However, I do think it’s telling that at least one story on the 1942 Retro Hugos ballot, Proof by Hal Clement, is far better than any of these nominees, which I think says something (I’d have to read/reread a couple of the other 1942 finalists to be sure, but I suspect that ballot is more my speed). Anyway, let’s get to it….

(9) CURRENT EVENTS. And don’t forget this year’s fiction. Rocket Stack Rank hasn’t — “July 2018 Ratings”. Greg Hullender summarizes:

We posted our monthly ratings last night. It was a typical month, with 11 stories recommended (with 4 or 5 stars) out of 72 (expected would be 11 to 13).

We recommended 4 stories from F&SF, 3 from Asimov’s,  2 from Analog had 2. The other two were in Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Lightspeed. Over time, the three print and seven online magazines we follow split the recommendations 50/50 (not counting stand-alone novellas or original anthologies), and the print magazines only come out 6 times a year, so this isn’t quite as lopsided as it looks, but it was definitely a good month for the traditional three magazines.

(10) START YOUR COCKY CAREER. This article on “Cocky-gate” also seems to be a great blueprint for how to use Kindle Unlimited to give you a 6-figure salary. Let The Verge tell you about it: “Bad Romance”.

…The fight over #Cockygate, as it was branded online, emerged from the strange universe of Amazon Kindle Unlimited, where authors collaborate and compete to game Amazon’s algorithm. Trademark trolling is just the beginning: There are private chat groups, ebook exploits, conspiracies to seed hyperspecific trends like “Navy SEALs” and “mountain men,” and even a controversial sweepstakes in which a popular self-published author offered his readers a chance to win diamonds from Tiffany’s if they reviewed his new book.

Much of what’s alleged is perfectly legal, and even technically within Amazon’s terms of service. But for authors and fans, the genre is also a community, and the idea that unethical marketing and algorithmic tricks are running rampant has embroiled their world in controversy. Some authors even believe that the financial incentives set up by Kindle Unlimited are reshaping the romance genre — possibly even making it more misogynistic.

A genre that mostly features shiny, shirtless men on its covers and sells ebooks for 99 cents a pop might seem unserious. But at stake are revenues sometimes amounting to a million dollars a year, with some authors easily netting six figures a month. The top authors can drop $50,000 on a single ad campaign that will keep them in the charts — and see a worthwhile return on that investment….

(11) THEY’VE GOT ‘RITHIM. Or you can try this route–sell your old pb’s for hundreds or thousands of dollars each on Amazon. The New York Times has the story: “Amazon’s Curious Case of the $2,630.52 Used Paperback”.

Even a casual browse through the virtual corridors of Amazon reveals an increasingly bizarre bazaar where the quaint policies of physical bookstores — the stuff no one wants is piled on a cart outside for a buck a volume — are upended. John Sladek, who wrote perceptive science fiction about robotics and artificial intelligence, predicted in a 1975 story that computers might start making compelling but false connections:

If you’re trying to reserve a seat on the plane to Seville, you’d get a seat at the opera instead. While the person who wants the opera seat is really just making an appointment with a barber, whose customer is just then talking to the box-office of “Hair,” or maybe making a hairline reservation …

Mr. Sladek, who died in 2000, is little read now, which naturally means his books are often marketed for inordinate sums on Amazon. One of his mystery novels, “Invisible Green,” has a Red Rhino “buy box” — Amazon’s preferred deal — offering it for $664.

That is a real bargain compared with what a bookseller with the improbable name Supersonic Truck is asking: $1,942. (Copies from other booksellers are as little as $30.) Supersonic Truck, which Amazon says has 100 percent positive ratings, did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Ms. Macgillivray, who has published eight novels, said she had been poking around Amazon’s bookstore and was more perplexed than ever by the pricing.

“There’s nothing illegal about someone listing an item for sale at whatever the market will bear, even if they don’t have the book but plan to buy it when someone orders it,” she said. “At the same time, I would think Amazon wouldn’t want their platform used for less than honorable practices.”

(12) READERCON PORTRAITS. Paul Di Filippo shares photos of “Some Members of Fictionmags Attending Readercon 2018 “ at The Inferior 4.

In order of appearance: Ellen Datlow, Fred Lerner, Gary Wolfe, George Morgan, Gordon van Gelder, Henry Wessells, Jess Nevins, Michael Dirda, Peter Halasz, Scott Andrews, Scott Edelman, Sheila Williams, Steve Dooner, Mark Walsh.

(13) ONCE MORE WITH FEELING. And Daniel Dern covered the non-human population at ReaderCon, photographing this “alternative SJW credential.”

An ‘edge-‘og (hedgehog). (Not mine.)

Yeah, the SF context isn’t visible, would you take my word for it?

(14) ICE DELIVERY. NPR tells what it’s like for locals: “Massive Iceberg Looms Over A Village In Greenland”.

The photographs are stunning: a giant mountain of ice towers over a tiny village, with colorful homes reminiscent of little doll houses against the stark, blue-gray landscape.

But for the people living in those houses – that beauty could be life-threatening.

“It’s kind of like, if you lived in the suburbs, and you woke up one morning and looked out, and there was a skyscraper next to your house,” says David Holland, an oceanographer at New York University who does research in Greenland during the summer months. “I’d be the first to get out of there.”

He says that’s why authorities have taken action to evacuate those living closest to the water from the village of Innaarsuit, where the iceberg has parked itself just off the coast. According to the BBC, the village has just 169 residents.

(15) THE IMPORTANCE OF POORFEADING. “Harry, it s***s” — just not quite so badly: “Aliens killed by spelling mistake in 2013 Colonial Marines game”.

An infamously dreadful 2013 Aliens video game is now believed to have fallen victim to the most chilling of threats in the universe: a typo.

Aliens: Colonial Marines was released on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 to terrible reviews.

Many of them mentioned how badly the artificial intelligence (AI) behaved.

But it has now emerged that a single stray “a” in the game’s code may have been to blame.

Videos on YouTube show the game’s AI characters – the aliens and human teammates the player doesn’t control – ignoring threats, shooting wildly at nothing or standing in the line of fire.

(16) EARLY BRADBURY. David Doering has been digging through ancient fanzines and found a curiosity: “Here’s a little gift for you: a verse by Ray Bradbury himself–likely never before reprinted in the history of, well, like poetry or something. And maybe for some reason…”

VERSE OF THE IMAGI-NATION

“TIs a Sinema”
by Ray Bradbury

I think that I shall never see
Flash Gordon as he ought to be.
Midst growls of pain & awful lafter
each Saturday I see a chapter.
I cannot bear to see him more
for he Is really such a bore.

& Tarzan! too, is all so poor:
A shrinking violet demure
who beats upon his frazzled chest
& turns his puss into the west
to roar defiance with…”Fresh fish!
–I think that he’s a lousy dish…

From: Imagination, v. 1, issue 11, whole no. 11, August 1938

[Thanks to David Doering, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, StephenfromOttawa, Brian Z., Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Greg Hullender, Bill Burns, John King Tarpinian, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mix Mat.]

Pixel Scroll 7/3/18 Too Bad I Don’t Have A Scrollographic Memory

(1) THE PRICE OF LIBERTY. It isn’t cheap — Gizmodo has the story: “USPS Ordered to Pay $3.5 Million After Putting Artist’s Weird ‘Sexier’ Lady Liberty on Stamps”.

The USPS put a Getty Images photo of artist Robert S. Davidson’s Las Vegas version of the sculpture on roughly 3.5 billion stamps before the incongruity was noticed in 2011. In his original civil complaint, art market platform Artsy wrote last year, Davidson wrote the USPS never asked permission and that his version is materially different than the one from 1875 and thus protected under copyright—specifically that it is “more ‘fresh-faced,’ ‘sultry’ and even ‘sexier’ than the original located in New York.” (Davidson very weirdly added that he took the inspiration for this sex bomb Lady Liberty from, umm, “certain facial features of his close female relatives.”)

(2) BRAM STOKER HISTORY TOUR. The Horror Writers Association has revamped their Bram Stoker Awards site. HWA President Lisa Morton says:

For the first time ever, you can now find all the information you need on the awards gathered in one place, with each winner/nominee listed individually, cross-linked to year and category. The site also includes galleries of photos going all the way back to the beginning of the awards, trivia, rules, and more.

…We expect this site to be a continuing work in progress as we add more data and fun stuff.

As the “Fun Facts” article shows, Stephen King is the Babe Ruth of the Stoker Awards:

  • The top number of nominations by any one author: Stephen King, with 32 total nominations.
  • The top number of wins by any one author: Stephen King, with 12 total wins.
  • The top number of losses by any one author: Stephen King, with 20 total losses….

(3) LEAKAGE. ScienceFiction.com says the Time Lords are in hot pursuit of the leaker of the missing minute: “BBC Goes To Court To Find Who Leaked ‘Doctor Who’ Footage Of Jodie Whittaker”.

‘Doctor Who’ fans are breathless with anticipation, awaiting the first trailers or clips from the upcoming eleventh season.  Excitement is extra high this time around because for the first time in the show’s 54-year history, said Doctor will be a woman, Jodie Whittaker.  But fans want to abide by the BBC’s plans to unveil what they choose to at their discretion.  (Whittaker will be present for a panel at San Diego Comic-Con, so chances are high that there will be some new footage shown.)  But when a pirate released a minute-long clip featuring the first scenes of Whittaker’s thirteenth Doctor on American messaging app Tapatalk, which then found its way to Twitter, fans revolted, attacking the poster for spoiling the new season.  The BBC quickly had the post deleted but they aren’t stopping there.  They want to know who leaked the footage and they’re going after them!

The British Broadcasting Company “requested a clerk at the California federal court issue a subpoena to Tapatalk, a mobile community platform.”  The BBC is demanding that records be turned over which could help identify the responsible persons.  They have also enlisted the aid of law firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, which has made a name for itself over the past few years for going after pirates of major events like these.

(4) WORLDCON 76 PROGRAM. The committee is making a list and checking it twice —

(5) THE SHEEP LOOK OUT. Let a Filer be your guide. “I was asked to write a travel blog for the Dublin 2019 site,” he says. The result is: “Touring Tuesdays: Round Renvyle with Nigel Quinlan”.

This week Nigel Quinlan takes us into the wilds of Connemara…

Drive vaguely and meanderingly northwest out of Galway city, following signs for Connemara or Clifden or Sheep On The Road or Invasive Species Do Not Eat. Through Oughterard with its pleasant riverside park on the far side, Maam Cross with a rather musty replica of the cottage from John Ford’s The Quiet Man and the film itself on repeat in the bar at the hotel, turning right down the genuinely spectacular Inagh Valley where your attention will be divided between the splendid bleak majesties of the open boglands, the rocky glories of the mountains and watching out for the sodding sheep that are ON THE ROAD.

(6) HOW TO VOTE FOR AN SF AWARD. The SF & Fantasy Poetry Association’s SPECPO blog tries to make “Approaching the Elgin Voting” less daunting and more accessible. Between the Elgin’s two categories, members have 51 finalists to consider. SFPA President Bryan Thao Worra’s guidance could also be adapted for use by newbie Hugo voters.

History demonstrates that often, readers, reviewers and literati of any given age have varying degrees of success identifying works of enduring merit and literary impact. Who actually survives into the next decades, let alone the next centuries as “must read” authors is often very surprising, whether it’s in mainstream literature, pulp fiction and genre offerings.

That being said, here are some grounding principles:

  • You don’t have to read a book that’s not grabbing you all of the way through. With a full-length chapbook or book, we’re looking for works that are consistently outstanding, not one filled with one amazing gem to rival “The Raven” and 99 uninspiring verses filling out the rest of the set.
  • This isn’t the search for the greatest of all time, but within the set of this year. You don’t necessarily need to fret about how well a given book stands up against the great works of the last 5 to 100 years. You can leave that concern at the door. But are you reading a book where you can see yourself recommending it to another, and returning to it regularly yourself?
  • Try breaking your options into batches. Picking 3 out of 30 is difficult, but when one starts by sorting it into more manageable batches of approximately 5 to 6 books, it becomes easier to pick your 2 favorites of that batch, and then in the final set, identifying your three favorites.
  • Each member has their own tastes, preferred literary traditions and forms, and if you come across a text that isn’t meeting your tastes, that’s fine. Fans of a particular style are more likely to vote it up into the effective running than those who aren’t. So if you’re not a scifaiku fan, feel free to weigh in if you want, but you can also “sit it out” on that text if you don’t feel strongly about what you’re reading.

(7) LEARNING CURVE. “11 Essential Books On Writing, Based On The Genre You Want To Write” at The Bustle.

Now, before we dig into these books, please note that I’m talking about genre and not subgenre. No matter if you write steampunk, space westerns, or post-apocalyptic stories, you’re looking for the Science Fiction recommendation below. Similarly, whether you want to make your mark on sword and sorcery, paranormal, or grimdark, the book listed under Fantasy is for you. I know that all six of those subgenres are very clearly defined and different from one another, but I’m aiming for broad utility here.

For example, if you want to write Fantasy, read Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 3, 1985 Back to the Future was released.
  • July 3, 1996 Independence Day landed in theaters.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born July 3—Tom Cruise, 56. Genre films include Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, Minority Report, War of the Worlds, OblivionEdge of Tomorrow and, shudder, The Mummy.
  • Born July 3 – Olivia Munn, 38. A surprising number of roles in genre films including Insanitarium, Scarecrow Gone Wild, Iron Man 2X-Men: Apocalypse and the latest Predator reboot.

(10) RETRO LAW AND ORDER. David Doering rediscovered these forgotten charges against L. Ron Hubbard in Fantasy News Annual, v. 7, issue 1, whole no. 150, July 27, 1941.

HUBBARD MAKES MURDEROUS ATTACK ON SHEA!

PERPETRATOR OF WEIRD LITERARY CRIME SEEKS REFUGE IN U.S. ARMED FORCES!

Harold Shea, popular fantasy hero, created by L. Sprague de.Camp and Fletcher Pratt, was subjected in the August UNKNOWN to an assault with intent to kill by L. Ron (“Golden Egg”) Hubbard, author of the lead novel, “The Case Of the Friendly Corpse”.  The red-haired adventurer-author caused his competitor’s character to be seized and swallowed by a gigantic snake into which a magic wand carried by one of his minor characters turned.

Shea’s creators, however, with fiendish snickers, have announced that they are taking suitable steps to rehabilitate their hero, and obtain revenge for this bit of outrageous literary impertinence, They are working on a story which will tell what r?e?a?l?l?y? happened to Shea in the College of the Unholy Names, site of the crime. (This institution is headed by the President J. Klark, believed to be the astral body of Dr. John D. Clark, well-known Philadelphia fan.)

“Just wait”, sneered Pratt, “till you see what we do to Hubbard’s characters!” They explained that, as the explorer and bear-tamer is now Lieut. Hubbard, USN, he probably would not have time to reply in his turn.

“You see”, leered de Camp, “we’re altruists. That means we believe in doing unto others what they would like to do unto us, and doing it first!”

(11) ON LOCATION. Joe Flood, writing in the Washington Post, says he enjoyed watching the Wonder Woman shoot at the Hirshhorn Museum last weekend, but “what wasn’t so cool was Wonder Woman 1984 shutting down Pennsylvania Avenue all weekend long, blocking off bike lanes with no alternate accommodations.” — “There are no superheroes in D.C.”

And then, there were Gadot and Pine, wearing the same clothes as the stand-ins but anointed with the familiarity of stars. You know them, but you don’t. Their images are the only things truly accessible.

They duplicated what the stand-ins did. Walk, talk, react. Pine gawked at whatever was in the sky but with considerably more subtlety than the stand-in. That’s probably why he’s the movie star.

(12) BAGGED THEIR LIMIT. A handsome hunting credential poses with its SJW:

(13) RECIPE FOR HUMOR.

(14) MARVEL PANELS AT SDCC. If you’ll be at San Diego Comic-Con this month you’ll have a chance to see these Marvel Comics panels.

MARVEL: Making Comics the Marvel Way
Thursday 7/19/18, 12:00pm-1:00pm
Room 25ABC

Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski and Talent Scout Rickey Purdin join a multitude of Mighty Marvel Guests to take you behind-the-scenes and show you how a Marvel comic book is made! Learn about every aspect of production including writing, penciling, inking, coloring, lettering, editing, and more – with creators on hand to offer personal insights and anecdotes. If you’re interested in the ins-and-outs of the comic book industry, this is the one panel you can’t miss!

MARVEL COMICS: Spider-Man
Friday 7/20, 12:30-1:30pm
Room 5AB

Editor Nick Lowe with his Amazing Friends Nick Spencer (Amazing Spider-Man) and Donny Cates (Venom) swing into SDCC with all the hottest spider-news! Nick Spencer ushers in a new era for Spidey that takes the web-head back to basics, while all-new Venom writer Donny Cates lays out what’s in store for the symbiotic hero in both the past and present in his definitive take on the character. PLUS, learn the latest about your favorite spider-heroes from across time and space as they crawl closer and closer towards the Edge of Spider-Geddon!

MARVEL: Cup O’Joe – Marvel Knights 20th Anniversary
Friday 7/20, 1:30-2:30pm
Room 5AB

Join Joe and fellow comics legend Jimmy Palmiotti as they reflect on the industry-redefining MARVEL KNIGHTS imprint as it celebrates its 20th anniversary.  What was it like to pioneer this bold new storytelling style for Marvel’s heroes, and how has it impacted Marvel comics, movies, and television series over the last two decades?  Learn about all this and more at this must-attend retrospective – and bring your own burning questions!  NOT to be missed by any fan of the Mighty Marvel Manner!

MARVEL COMICS: Next Big Thing
Saturday 7/21, 1:45-2:45pm
Room 6A

Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski and star Executive Editor Nick Lowe are joined by Donny Cates (Cosmic Ghost Rider, Death of Inhumans) and Margaret Stohl (Life of Captain Marvel) to discuss the startling stories and initiatives that are truly the NEXT BIG THINGS in the Marvel Universe!  In Fantastic Four, the Richards family is heading back to Earth, but they still have one more cosmic obstacle to overcome. Meanwhile, the specter of death hangs around the Inhumans and the Ghost Rider of a dark future in Donny Cates’ Death of Inhumans and Cosmic Ghost Rider. And as the Infinity Wars ignite, are any characters truly safe? All this, plus learn more about the definitive origin of Captain Marvel as Margaret Stohl opens up about Life of Captain Marvel!  If you want to learn about the biggest Marvel stories of 2018, this is THE panel not to miss!

MARVEL COMICS: Meet the Editor-in-Chief!
Saturday 7/21, 3:00pm-4:00pm
Room 6A

This is your chance to meet the new head of editorial at Marvel! In this exclusive one-on-one interview led by Skottie Young (Deadpool), freshly-minted Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski will talk about anything and everything involved in what’s next for Marvel. Want to know where to search for the Infinity Stones? Dying to find out what’s next for Wolverine? What does Forbush Man really look like without his helmet? Ask C.B. these questions and more in the Q&A!  PLUS – don’t miss a surprise exclusive giveaway variant comic!

MARVEL: True Believers*
Sunday 7/22, 10:00am-11:00am
Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront

Join Executive Editor Nick Lowe along with creators Ryan North (Unbeatable Squirrel Girl), Robbie Thompson (Spider-Man/Deadpool), and Jeremy Whitley (Unstoppable Wasp) for a private panel discussion of what’s happening inside the Marvel Universe.  Get FREE merchandise, never-before-seen sneak peeks of upcoming comics, Q&A session and more!  Not to be missed! Open only to Marvel Unlimited Plus members and Marvel MasterCard cardholders.

*Panel line-up is subject to change. Free items available while supplies last.  Must have valid ID and one of the following for entry: Marvel MasterCard Member – Event Invite, Marvel MasterCard, or event RSVP confirmation; Marvel Unlimited Plus Members – membership card, or MU+ order confirmation email.

MARVEL COMICS: X-Men
Sunday 7/22, 11:15am-12:15pm
Room 5AB

Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski, Sina Grace (Iceman), Seanan Maguire (X-Men Gold Annual), Matthew Rosenberg (Astonishing X-Men), and Tom Taylor (X-Men Red) take you through the full spectrum of current X-Men madness! The Red, Blue, and Gold teams confront Atlanteans, uncertainty, and Extermination, and the secrets of a NEW X-team are revealed! Deadpool and X-23 both rediscover their roots, and the Astonishing team faces ever stranger challenges! PLUS- Stay for the whole panel for an exclusive giveaway variant comic!

Don’t miss your chance to hear all the news and excitement from Marvel Comics at San Diego Comic Con!

(15) REMAKE. Cnet frames the art: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi remake poster mocks angry fans”.

An artist is poking fun at Star Wars fans clamoring for a remake of The Last Jedi.

Fernando Reza — an LA-based graphic artist — on Monday tweeted an image of his poster for the project, which centers on a muscled Luke Skywalker wielding a lightsaber and massive handgun.

 

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, David Doering, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day OGH, taken from an email he wrote to Steve Davidson after being told he repeated a Scroll title Steve submitted in 2016.]

Pixel Scroll 6/30/18 Pixels Like Us, Baby We Were Born To Scroll

(1) KICK ASTEROID! Bill Nye and the Planetary Society want funds to educate people about the threat of asteroid impacts. Their Kickstarter, “Kick Asteroid!”, has raised $27,884 of its $50,000 target, with 25 days left to go.

The Planetary Society is excited to partner with space artist and designer, Thomas Romer, and backers around the world to create Kick Asteroid—a colorful graphic poster that will illustrate the effect of past catastrophic impacts, and methods to deflect future asteroid threats. Compelling and scientifically accurate art will be created for posters and other “merch” that backers can use in their everyday lives to spread the word about planetary defense.

… Thomas is collaborating directly with the Society’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Bruce Betts, to depict the asteroid threat in a compelling and scientifically accurate way. Bruce has briefed Thomas on the current state of the science related to Near Earth Objects (NEOs), as well as on the most promising asteroid deflection techniques.

(2) WRITER’S BLOCK. “How do you handle writer’s block?” Rachel Swirsky shares her advice about blocks from two sources. The first kind is medical:

…I think one of the best solutions is to be gentle with yourself about it. Hammering yourself and making yourself feel guilty because of your health is in the way is only likely to make you miserable and increase your stress–which can make the health problem worse. It can be hard to be generous with yourself, especially when the illness is lasting a long time and you have deadlines. …

(3) TWELVE RULES. The Chicago Tribune’s Stephen L. Carter lists his “12 science fiction rules for life”.

Like so many other scribes, I have been inspired by psychologist Jordan Peterson’s fascinating book to sketch my 12 rules of life. But mine are different, because each is drawn from canonical science fiction. Why? Maybe because this is the literature on which I grew up, or maybe because I have never lost the taste for it. Or maybe because the sci-fi canon really does have a lot to teach about the well-lived life. Here, then, are my 12 rules. I cannot pretend that I always follow them, but I certainly always try.

  1. “An atom-blaster is a good weapon, but it can point both ways.” — Isaac Asimov, “Foundation.”

This is one of the clearest expressions of the basis of the liberalism of process. It matters not only whether one accomplishes an end but also how. Any tool available to the “good guys” today might be wielded by the “bad guys” tomorrow. One should always take this proposition into account when choosing a toolkit.

  1. “Happiness consists in getting enough sleep. Just that, nothing more.” — Robert Heinlein, “Starship Troopers.”

OK, happiness does consist of more than this — but getting enough sleep is indeed one of its key components. The larger point is that taking physical, emotional and spiritual care of the self is crucial to being truly happy….

(4) LANDING IN THE LAP OF LUXURY. Sarah Gailey ended up cruising through the skies with the 1%. See all the details in a Twitter thread that starts here.

(5) WRITERS OF THE FUTURE. If you’re curious what the experience is like for finalists brought to LA for the workshops and ceremony, Eneasz Brodski covers it all: “Writers of the Future vol 34 – The Award Ceremony & The People”.

Let’s start with the ceremony!

This was a delight. It was fun to be treated special and given an award and just the belle of the ball for a day! Of course, it was apparently pretty quickly that this award ceremony wasn’t really for us. It was for the Scientologists. This was their party, for them to say to each other “Look at us! We’re helping these people at the start of their career, and supporting the arts! We are doing good in the world.” And good on them for it! They are helping new artists, and contributing to the SFF world in a meaningful way. They can have as big a party they want to celebrate that, it’s their money. I didn’t mind at all being the excuse for that. It kinda felt what I imagine being a unicorn for a couple would feel like? The experience is primarily about them, but they couldn’t have it without me facilitating, and I’m happy to serve that role to bring them that. Of course that’s probably my super-idealized fantasy of unicorning. But /shrug. I got the literary-award equivalent of that fantasy, so I’m happy. 🙂

(6) I HAVE NO CATEGORY AND I MUST SCREAM. Doctor Strangemind’s Kim Huett would like to tell you a Harlan Ellison story about the 1964 Hugos and the plan to omit the Dramatic Presentation category: “London Calling”. It includes this passage by Ron Ellik from the fanzine Vair-Iner.

…When I had lost perhaps half a dollar, Harlan phoned again. He read me a letter. He had talked to two dozen people since his trans-Atlantic call – other Study Committeemen, convention committeemen from past years, etc – and this letter, signed by Harlan, cited these several people as being, each, in at least passive agreement that London should not do this thing. In conclusion, Mr. Ben Jason and the group producing the physical Hugo trophies had agreed with him to withhold the trophies from the London convention.

We eagerly await news of London’s answer.

And there you have it folks, if you want to be a successful squeaky wheel then you need to really apply some of that old-fashioned elbow grease. Ah, I hear you ask, and was Harlan, that tiger of the telephone, a truly successful squeaky wheel? Well, yes….

(7) A PRIVATE MOMENT. And Bill provided a clipping from Ellison’s army days.

(8) WOULD YOU BELIEVE? What record has sold the most copies in 2018? “The Year’s Top-Selling Singer Isn’t Kanye — It’s Hugh Jackman”.

Halfway through a year filled with new work from some of the most popular artists alive, the best-selling album is the soundtrack to a movie musical with Hugh Jackman that never led the box office.

“The Greatest Showman’’ has sold almost 4 million copies for Atlantic Records, outpacing works from Kanye West, Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake. Music from the film based on the life of circus promoter P.T. Barnum has outsold the next most popular album of the year, Post Malone’s “Beerbongs & Bentleys,’’ by about 2-to-1.

(9) HUMP MONTH: At Featured Futures, the middle of the year doesn’t mean middling stories, as Jason has compiled another list of standout fiction gleaned from the SF magazines, plus links to reviews and other postings in Summation: June 2018.

This month produced nine noted stories (four recommended) from a total of forty-five (215 Kwds). Compelling made a strong and welcome return on its new semi-annual schedule. “Nightspeed” also contributed a couple of powerful tales.

(10) HUNTER OF THE SKY CAVE. Need a good laugh? Read Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag’s wonderful post “Inkwell and the Sky Raisin”.

…As anyone who has bothered to read this blog for any length of time knows, my husband and I are owned by a black cat named Inkwell. These are some of his recent adventures, mostly from Facebook and a few of his “Inkwell Sings the Blues” from his Twitter Feed.

This morning I woke up late, and my husband was already off running errands. I looked around the house for Inkwell, fearing he might have somehow gotten outside (he’s very much an indoor cat). I went from room to room looking for him, and when I opened the door to the garage, a fly (aka Sky Raisin) flew into the house. Eventually I found Inkwell by shaking his treats. He casually wandered out from wherever he was hiding to get his reward for being a cat from his mommy.

A half an hour later, he noticed the fly….

(11) TUNE IN. BBC Radio 4’s A Good Read this week included Gibson’s Neuromancer, plus had some other SF discussion. (Thanks for the share to Jonathan Cowie of Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation.)

Writers Juno Dawson and Pandora Sykes discuss favourite books Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan, Neuromancer by William Gibson, and The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett, with Harriett Gilbert. How will Juno and Pandora enjoy Harriett’s foray into science fiction? And how did Sagan’s novel, written at the tender age of 17, influence Juno’s writing for young adults?

(12) COLLINS OBIT. Four-time F&SF contributor Reid Collins died on April 19. See his Washington Post death notice at Legacy.com.

…In 1982 he succeeded Dallas Townsend to become anchor of “The CBS World News Roundup”- the longest running news broadcast in history. His passion, however, was space. He anchored live coverage of all the nation’s manned space flights for CBS News from Gemini up to the Space Shuttle, including all the Apollo flights to the moon. In 1985, Mr. Collins took “one giant leap” from radio to television and became an anchor for CNN, where he remained until his retirement in 1996. During retirement, he enjoyed golf, cigars on his front porch in Kensington, his 1977 Saab convertible and spending time fishing and relaxing on the East Rosebud River at his vacation home outside Roscoe MT. Arrangements will be private. If so moved, donations in his name may be made to the Montana Historical Society, P.O. Box 201201, Helena, MT 59620-1201.

Collins had four short stories in F&SF between 1978 and 1984.

(13) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 30, 1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory opened.

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born June 30 — Vincent D’Onofrio, 59. Men in Black and the animated Men in Black series as well, genre series work including Emerald City, Daredevil and Ghost Wars.
  • Born June 30 – Molly Parker, 46. Currently on The Lost in Space series as Maureen, but genre roles on The Nightmare Cafe, The Outer Limits, HighlanderThe Sentinel, and Deadwood. Cat Eldridge says, “Ok the last may not be genre but it is a great love of Emma Bull and Will Shetterly. Emma’s novel Territory reflects her passion for the Old West.”

(15) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian relays a warning from a well-known comic book hero delivered in Bliss.
  • Mike Kennedy shares how in Monty, robot sidekick EB3’s left arm had achieved a sentience of its own, was rebelling, and had to be replaced.  Doc and Monty found a use for the old arm…

(16) A FLUCTUATION IN THE FORCE. JDA’s Twitter followers had a market crash:

(17) HERETICAL PRONOUNCEMENT. Camestros Felapton dares to ask, “Is HAL 9000 a robot?”. Worse than that, he dares to answer!

So what about HAL? HAL presents as an AI. He’s talked about as a brain. He is shown as a computer. But what is he the brain of? Simple, HAL is the brain of the Discovery One and has control over the ship. Discovery One is HAL’s body. HAL is a robot.

Your Good Host has a meltdown in his comments section.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Synthetic Biology on Vimeo, Vasil Hnatiuk posits a future where giant bees race and living organisms became starships.

(19) RETRO FANDOM. Simpler times! A clipping courtesy of David Doering:

ACKERMAN  BEATS   BRADBURY   TO   A   PULP!

April 1, 1941 — Eyewitness account:

A low-flying, longstanding feud between the two would-be fun-rulers of Shangri-LA, Ray Bradbury and Forrest J Ackerman, broke into the open here late on the night of March 27 with serious injuries sustained by Bradbury — tangle occurred after a Club meeting — when Bradbury and FJA were leaving Cliftons and walked around the corner toward the newsstand. Each was playing the perennial game of trying to out-pun the other, when the now Stirring Science Stories was simultaneously spotted, Both fans leaped forward to secure the issue, Ackerman getting there first. So it was that Ackerman beat Bradbury to a pulp.

(20) BRADBURY AGAIN. Susan Sackett’s Inside Trek book promo site includes a small gallery of photos from a 1976 recording session.

In 1976, I suggested to my friend Ed Naha, A&R person for Columbia Records, that he should sign Gene to do a “spoken word” record. Gene loved the idea and wrote some great copy, inviting many science fiction luminaries to join him. “Inside Star Trek” was recorded at United Western Studios in LA, with Gene, Bill Shatner, and Ray Bradbury all present at this first session. (Isaac Asimov recorded his contribution in New York; DeForest Kelley and Mark Lenard’s sessions came later.) I was there too, of course, snapping pictures for posterity. As you can see from this shot, Gene, Bill and Ray were discussing something important. I call this Gene’s “shaggy dog” period.

(21) HOT OFF THE DIGITAL PRESS. The 20th issue of Rich Lynch’s personal fanthology My Back Pages is now online at the eFanzines website. [PDF file]

Issue #20 is a “getting closer to retirement” issue and has essays involving close-up magic and far-off business destinations, oppressive desert heat and refreshing evaporative cooling, fast cars and slow bicycles, large buildings and small details, Madisonian libertarianism and Rooseveltian progressivism, 1950s space ships and current-day space stations, famous cowboys and famous Missourians, posh hotels and run-down motels, first fans and First Fans, State Capitols and County Courthouses, steamy blues and cool jazz, hot barbecue and the Cold War, bronze statues and scrap metal constructs, large conventions and larger conventions, fan libraries and fanfiction, no reservations and “No Award”.  And colophons… Why did it have to be colophons?

(22) IN A CAST. “Jared Leto ‘joins Spider-Man movie universe’ as vampire Morbius” reports the BBC.

The 30 Seconds To Mars frontman would hop from DC to Marvel, having previously played The Joker in Suicide Squad.

Morbius is the third movie currently in production based on characters in the Spider-Man comic books.

After reports of the casting spread online, Jared shared some artwork of the character on Instagram.

(23) OVERRUNS. China Film Insider says it’s “This Year’s Most Expensive Summer Film”

When it comes to this year’s summer films in China, although Chinese audiences have been abuzz with Jiang Wen’s Hidden Man, Guo Jingming’s L.O.R.D: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties, and Xu Ke’s action movie Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings, the most expensive summer film is another one: Yang Zhenjian’s Asura. This film reportedly costs 750 million yuan ($115.5 million). Based on the current revenue-sharing model in China, it has to make at least 2.3 billion yuan ($350 million) in order to breakeven. In a recent interview with WeChat media outlet D-entertainment, the film’s director Yang Zhenjian explained that a big portion of the budget was allocated to hiring international technicians and visual effect teams. In addition, the film was made by a huge crew within a long period of time.

(24) DOCTOR WHO COMIC. Titan Comics and BBC Studios have announced Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor Vol. 0 – The Many Lives Of Doctor Who – a special primer edition, which celebrates the Doctor’s many lives, and leads directly into Titan’s brand-new Thirteenth Doctor comic series – launching this fall in the U.S. and UK.

It’s said that your life flashes before your eyes when you die, and the Doctor’s had many of them! As the Doctor regenerates from his twelfth incarnation to her thirteenth (as played by Jodie Whittaker), she relives unseen adventures from all her past selves from Classic through to New Who.

(25) THE JOHNNY RICO DIET. It’s not Heinlein’s Mobile Infantry powered armor, though it may be a step toward it. It’s not even in deployed use. But the US military does seem to be getting serious about testing powered exoskeleton for both upper and lower body uses. In Popular Science: “Power-multiplying exoskeletons are slimming down for use on the battlefield”.

…newly developed exoskeletons is starting to meet […] slimmed-down, stealth requirements  […] Among the most promising, and weird-looking, is the “third arm” that the U.S. Army Research Laboratory developed to help soldiers carry and support their weapons on the battlefield. The lightweight device, which weighs less than four pounds and hangs at a soldier’s side, stabilizes rifles and machine guns, which can weigh up to 27 pounds. This improves shooting accuracy and also minimizes fatigue. It can even be used while scrambling into position on the ground.

…In May, Lockheed Martin unveiled its lightest weight powered exo for lower body support. Dubbed ONYX, the form-fitting suit, which resembles an unobtrusive web of athletic braces, reduce the effort soldier’s need for walking, running, and climbing over varied terrain while carrying a heavy loads of up to 100 pounds.

The suit uses tracking sensors, mechanical knee actuators, and artificial intelligence-based software that predicts joint movement, all of which reduce stress on the lower back and the legs.…

(26) ALWAYS TO CALL IT RESEARCH. Sixth Tone is hot pursuit of the story: “Chinese Fantasy Show Accused of Stealing Harry Potter’s Magic”.

Harry Potter fans threaten to Avada Kedavra drama accused of plot-copying.

After “Legend of Fu Yao” premiered in China on Monday, some viewers pointed out that the television series appeared to have plagiarized “Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire,” the fourth installment in British novelist J.K. Rowling’s seven-part series. Twelve episodes have aired so far — and online clips from or related to the show had gained over 350 million views within a day of the season premier.

In the series, the heroine Fu Yao is a disciple at Xuanyuan, a Taoist school that teaches swordsmanship and sorcery. The story focuses on the Tiandou Competition, an event held every eight years. To join in the contest, hopefuls must throw a piece of paper dipped in their own blood into a bronze cauldron. Once they’re signed up, there’s no getting out of the three-round competition, which sees challengers fight against a buffalo-shaped mythical creature, among other tasks.

Loyal Potterheads were quick to notice the similarities with the fourth installment’s Triwizard Tournament, a competition held every five years between three wizarding schools….

(27) HUMANITY NEEDS SAVING AGAIN. The Predator opens in theaters September 14:

From the outer reaches of space to the small-town streets of suburbia, the hunt comes home in Shane Black’s explosive reinvention of the Predator series. Now, the universe’s most lethal hunters are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever before, having genetically upgraded themselves with DNA from other species. When a young boy accidentally triggers their return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled science teacher can prevent the end of the human race.

 

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Jason, Bill, Rich Lynch, David Doering, Jonathan Cowie, Todd Mason, Brian Z., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]

Harlan Ellison Tribute Roundup

Acclaimed speculative fiction writer Harlan Ellison died today at the age of 84. Here is a selection of tributes and reactions posted in social media immediately following the announcement.

Stephen King

Samuel Delany on Facebook

Here’s the guy who started the notable part of my career. At the Tricon, he ran up to me and demand a story: I wrote it at the upcoming Milford–Aye and Gomorrah, which won the following year’s Nebula Award.

Patton Oswalt

Arthur Cover on Facebook

As most of the planet knows, Harlan Ellison passed away in his sleep last night. I am seriously bummed. Little did I know when I bought the first volume of the paperback edition on Dangerous Visions when I was a sophomore at Tech did those two words would have such a profound impact on my life. Harlan was responsible for my first sale, to the mythical Last Dangerous Visions, at a Clarion Workshop.

He became a big brother figure to me, and I stayed at Ellison Wonderland on and off during the many times when I was *ahem* between places in LA. I knew his dog Abu, who used to sneak out of the house to get some Hungarian Goulash from a couple down the street. I knew his maid Yosondua, a wonderful person. And I missed meeting his mother by a couple of weeks. There’s so much to remember about him that I can barely stand it.

I met a whole bunch of interesting people thanks to him. Forget the famous ones like Erica Jong; thanks to him, I met Pam Zoline, author of “The Heat Death of the Universe.” We saw Borges together. Thanks to him, I discovered Mahler and Bruckner. I turned him on to Kalinnikov. We both read comics and he liked to impersonate the Hulk with the voice of Ronald Coleman. (Try it.) He tried to set me up with young women; usually I ignored them, thus driving him stinking bonkers. And that was just the 70s.

Then there’s that Dangerous Visions thing – a whole bunch of autograph parties just for starters. (And let’s not forget the time he streaked A Change of Hobbit.) He was immensely supportive throughout the entire frustrating, rewarding enterprise. True, he had his faults; usually I ignored them too. But the exception of my family and friends from Tazewell, I wouldn’t know any of you today were it not for his generosity and friendship. He was a helluva guy, and I have been proud to be his friend forever.

Barbara Hambly on Facebook

Just got word that my friend Harlan Ellison passed away last night. An amazing man to know. I knew he was very ill – he’d never really recovered from a stroke a couple of years ago. So I feel no surprise. Just very, very sad.

Michael Cassutt on Facebook

A talented writer for sure, a self-made writer for absolutely sure…. I so remember “Repent, Harlequin” and “On the Downhill Side” and THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER… and his columns that became THE GLASS TEAT, which sent me here to LA…. and more, the friendship that developed in the past decade or so, where I would pop up to Ellison Wonderland and have coffee with HE in his kitchen…. telling tales of George O. Smith and who else. I am actually bawling right now…..Harlan was my big brother and while his passing now, given his stroke three years back, is not a surprise…. it’ s still a shock.

Jaym Gates on Facebook

Harlan Ellison has died. My sympathies to those who will miss him. His voice was powerful, sometimes for good.

As a woman, I am not sad that there will be one less person who thinks it is funny to grope a woman on stage, and who was often used as a smoke screen for bad behavior by creative men.

Wil Wheaton on Twitter

Rest in Peace, Harlan. You always treated me like I was a person whose voice mattered, and I will cherish that memory for the rest of my life.

David Gerrold on Facebook

Harlan didn’t drink. I rarely drink.

Today I will drink.

Today I will toast a man who was a role model, a mentor, a critic, a friend — and ultimately my big brother.

He knew how much I loved him. I told him more than once.

The one thing he said about me that I cherish the most was shortly after I adopted Sean. He said, introducing me to someone else, “David Gerrold is the most courageous man I know.” Actually, it was Sean who needed the courage, but I understood what he was saying. He was acknowledging that I had finally grown up.

Harlan had a great public persona — but it was the private soul I loved the most. And goddammit, I’m going to miss that man.

Charles de Lint on Facebook

I’m very sad to have to write this but Harlan Ellison has passed away. He was a voice of reason, if somewhat contrary, and one of the best short story writers this field, or really any field, has known. He wore his “angry young man” persona lost after he was a young man but behind that bluster was a kind and generous man who would do anything for a friend. He will be greatly missed.

Cory Doctorow on Boing Boing

Ellison’s voice was infectious and has a tendency to creep into his fans’ writing. When I was 19, I attended a writing workshop at a local convention taught by Ann Crispin, who told me that I would be pretty good writer once I stopped trying to write like Harlan Ellison (I went on to sell that very Ellisonian story to Pulphouse).

Harlan was one of my Clarion instructors in 1992. He taught us remotely, by speakerphone, from his hospital bed in LA where he was recovering from angioplasty. I had attended that year because I couldn’t miss the opportunity to learn from Harlan Ellison, whom I held in highest regard (“hero worship” is not too strong a phrase to use here).

Ellison was not a good teacher (that year, at least). In fact, I think it’s safe to say that his instructional methods, which involved a combination of performative bullying and favorite-playing, were viewed as a disaster by all of my classmates, at least in hindsight.

Confronting the very real foibles of the object of my hero-worship was the beginning of a very important, long-running lesson whose curriculum I’m still working through: the ability to separate artists from art and the ability to understand the sins of people who’ve done wonderful things.

John Scalzi in the Los Angeles Times

…My second Harlan Ellison story was from 2011, the last time he was a finalist for the Nebula Award, given out by SFWA. Traditionally, SFWA contacts the Nebula finalists by phone to see if they’ll accept being on the ballot, and knowing of Harlan’s sometimes irascible phone manners, I was the one to call.

Harlan was not irascible. He wept into the phone. He had been ill, he said, and he wondered if what he was writing now still resonated and still mattered to people. To have his professional peers nominate him for one of the field’s most significant awards, he said, meant everything to him.

In that moment he wasn’t a giant of the field, a figure equally loved and loathed, a man about whom everyone had a story, or an opinion, about. He was simply a writer, happy to be in the company of, and remembered by, other writers.

Jeff VanderMeer on Facebook

He was a monumental personality who was influential in his day and to some extent today. He dove into the style and issues of his times with vigor, which sometimes makes his work feel dated but also resulted in classics that feel timeless. As an anthologist, he pushed boundaries in ways that, like his fiction, risked looking silly or actively terrible to modern audiences, but because of that also published a ton of innovative material and furthered the careers of writers who were quite experimental.

In erratic and sporadic fashion Ellison tended to be immensely helpful to some beginning writers and actively not helpful to others for no particular reason. Sometimes, I think, because he was too caught up in his mythology. Sometimes because he had a chip on his shoulder and was mercurial. I have mixed feelings about him for that reason, not to mention others, but there’s no denying he was a protean creative talent. I did learn to take risks in my writing from him, while also learning who I did not want to be as a teacher.

Richard Pini on Facebook

There are no words. He used them all anyway, and far better than most.

Robert Crais on Facebook

We lost Harlan Ellison today. The dedication to THE FIRST RULE reads as follows: “For my friend, Harlan Ellison, whose work, more than any other, brought me to this place.”. He cannot be replaced. He was a giant. He mattered.

David Brin on Facebook

Harlan was wickedly witty, profanely-provocative, yet generous to a fault. His penchant for skewering all authority would have got him strangled in any other human civilization, yet in this one he lived – honored – to 84… decades longer than he swore he would, much to our benefit with startling, rambunctious stories that will echo for ages.

John Hertz

I can’t remember who first remarked that “H.E.” stood equally for Harlan Ellison and High Explosive.

It also stands for His Excellency. Our H.E. being a whole-souled egalitarian would never have stood for that. But if one can break from the bonds of aristocratic associations – which in principle he was always for – it’s true.

I’m glad, not I hope without humility, that what pushed down the Montaigne piece was your notice of Brother Ellison’s death. Although Montaigne and the nature of zeal were two topics I never discussed with him, he might – and he did this sometimes – have approved.

David Doering

I feel a strong sense of loss with his passing. While he and I shared few opinions in common, I always appreciated his ability to stir up discussion.

To be clear, I did not have much personal interaction with Harlan over the years. The first tho was at a Worldcon in the 80s when he asked a large audience who had read a particular book he appreciated. Turned out that only he and I had done so. We chatted for a minute sharing comments, and, as a first encounter, I found him pleasant despite his reputation.

The other time was when Ray Bradbury suggested I call “his friend Harlan” about serving as a guest to LTUE. I can just imagine what must have gone through Harlan’s mind when he got a call from Utah, and from very Mormon BYU at that, asking about being a guest. (Had it happened, it would certainly have stirred things up here!) He was polite, straightforward, and nothing like his public “persona”. I came away appreciating him much more.

The last time was at a LASFS meeting at the old “Hooverville” building. He looked tired, but came to be with fen and seemed to have a good time. I’ll keep that image in my mind as I remember him.

Deadline.com“Harlan Ellison Dead: Legendary ‘Star Trek’, ‘A Boy And His Dog’ Sci-Fi Writer was 84”

Along with the Star Trek episode, Ellison’s 1964 Outer Limits installment “Demon with a Glass Hand” is widely considered among the best of its series. The bizarre, uncanny episode starred Robert Culp as a man who wakes with no memory but an apparently all-knowing glass hand. For years, rumors persisted that “Demon” inspired Terminator, though Ellison was quoted to have said, “Terminator was not stolen from ‘Demon with a Glass Hand,’ it was a ripoff of my OTHER Outer Limits script, ‘Soldier.’” According to a 1991 Los Angeles Times article, Ellison once again sued and settled.

ComicBook.comSci-Fi Writer Harlan Ellison Dies At 84

…Ellison also crafted a script for the Batman ’66 television series that would’ve introduced Two-Face into the show’s canon, but it was never shot. The story recently was turned into a comic titled Batman ’66: The Lost Episode, which officially brings the character into the series.

Variety Harlan Ellison Dead: Sci-Fi Writer Was 84

…When he dealt with Hollywood, he fearlessly said exactly what he thought again and again — often causing fallout as a result. In the wake of the 1977 release of “Star Wars,” a Warner Bros. executive asked Ellison to adapt Isaac Asimov’s short story collection “I, Robot” for the bigscreen.

Ellison penned a script and met with studio chief Robert Shapiro to discuss it; when the author concluded that the executive was commenting on his work without having read it, Ellison claimed to have said to Shapiro that he had “the intellectual capacity of an artichoke.” Needless to say, Ellison was dropped from the project. Ellison’s work was ultimately published with permission of the studio, but the 2004 Will Smith film “I, Robot” was not based on the material Ellison wrote.

Perhaps Ellison’s most famous story not adapted for the screen was 1965’s “Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman,” which celebrates civil disobedience against a repressive establishment. “Repent” is one of the most reprinted stories ever.

Shawn Crosby

[Editor’s note: The evil done to Harlan Ellison’s television scripts by cigar-chomping producers has long been part of his legend. In some of the worst cases he refused to have his name appear in the credits, and they aired with his pseudonym Cordwainer Bird shouldering the blame.]

Harlan’s death is accompanied by the passing of Cordwainer Bird, his writing partner of many years, described as “a short, choleric, self-possessed writer of mystery stories and science-fiction for television”, who “has no compunction about punching directors and producers two foot taller than himself right in the mouth.” Bird’s parents were Jason Bird and Rhonda Rassendyll, and he is nephew to The Shadow and a descendent of Leopold Bloom. As a member of the Wold Newton Family himself, Bird’s illustrious heritage has made him something of a fighter for justice in his own right.

Godspeed, gentlemen…

Mark Barsotti

A great voice silenced.

Until you pick up one of his books…

 

Pixel Scroll 3/14/18 Scroll Longa, Pixel Brevis

(1) HERSTORY. James Davis Nicoll, in “Fighting Erasure: Women SF Writers of the 1970s, Part III”, continues his series for Tor.com.

…Clarion graduate P. C. Hodgell has been active since the late 1970s. She is the author of the long-running Chronicles of the Kencyrath (nine volumes since 1982). Readers of a certain vintage may have vivid memories of the twelve-year desert between the third book in the series, Seeker’s Mask, and the fourth, To Ride a Rathorn. Currently she has the active support of a publisher whose name escapes me. Since the series is continuity-heavy, you will want to start with the first volume, 1982’s God Stalk, in which an amnesiac woman of a race of staunch monotheists finds herself in a city of a thousand gods—none of whom seem to be particularly helpful gods…

(2) CROWDFUNDING AMAZING: AN UPDATE. The Amazing Stories Kickstarter has accumulated $7,811 of its $30,000 goal, with 23 days remaining. Steve Davidson has begun revealing the authors who will be in the first print issue:

We are pleased to announce the following writers have contributed stories; Kameron Hurley, Paul Levinson, Dave Creek, Shirley Meier, Drew Hayden Taylor, and Allen Steele.

While we’re excited about all our authors, let us tell you a little bit about Kameron Hurley and her story…

(3) ANALOG BLOG. From a Featured Futures’ links post I learned about The Astounding/Analog Companion, “the Official Analog Science Fiction and Fact blog.” Last month they published Gregory Benford’s background notes about a piece he wrote for the magazine: “Thinking About Physics a Century Hence”.

I’ve published over 200 short stories and over 200 scientific papers, reflecting a symmetry of sorts.

My career as a professor of physics at UC Irvine has taken most of my working life, with writing as a hobby that has surprised me by success. So I see SF through a scientific lens, focused on plausible futures. But sometimes I just wing it, and speculating on physics a century hence is a grand leap, indeed.

The mock future news report in the current Analog issue [“Physics Tomorrow: A News Item of the Year 2116,” March/April 2018 Analog, on sale now] came from a contest the journal Physics Today ran in 2016: to devise an entry for that journal in a century. I took the challenge, and produced this “story” because the physics intrigued me.

Physics Today did not select my essay, from 230 others. They published much more pedestrian stuff. Since then, I’ve worked with an old friend and general relativity physicist Al Jackson, to calculate in detail how to in fact make a “gravwave transmitter.”

Then I thought, why not try Analog? As a physicist and SF writer, both avenues are natural. Indeed, maybe writing future news items is a new way to think of SF….

(4) ASIMOV’S TOO. There’s also an Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine Author & Editor Blog called From the Earth to the Stars. They recently conducted a “Q&A with Mary Robinette Kowal” about her Asimov’s story “Artisanal Trucking, LLC.”

Asimov’s Editors: What is the story behind this piece?

Mary Robinette Kowal: I was at a conference in a round table discussion talking about automation and privilege. At some point, we were talking about how knitting, which used to be a necessary thing, became automated with knitting machines and now it is a luxury art. It’s expensive to buy wool. It takes time and leisure to make a garment. I said, “I imagine the hipsters of the future will totally do artisanal trucking.” I had more of a point but stopped talking as Story stampeded through my brain.

(5) USING SOCIAL MEDIA. Dawn Witzke begins a series of posts with  “On Professionalism: Part 1” at Superversive SF. No writer can go wrong following this piece of advice:

Social Media

Writers must be on social media, which means that everything, personal and professional is up for examination. How you present yourself online can affect what impression other authors, editors and publishers make of you.

Stick to arguing ideas, not making personal attacks. Most likely this will not be reciprocated. That’s okay. Let them look like the jerk.

Trolling is a whole other ball game. While it’s not seen as professional, some writers use it as a marketing tool (Milo Yiannopolus), which is all well and good if you publish in hotly debated subjects like politics. But in general, it creates as many enemies online as friends. Use with caution.

(6) HAWKING ON THE AIR. Watch Mojo has assembled the “Top 10 Unforgettable Stephen Hawking Cameos in Pop Culture.”

Renowned scientist Stephen Hawking passed away March 14, 2018. But before Stephen Hawking died, he not only made some incredible scientific breakthroughs; there are also many hilarious Stephen Hawking cameos to remember him by. Whether he was supporting Monty Python, speaking to John Oliver or playing poker on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Stephen Hawking was a fabulous ambassador for science.

  • #10: “Monty Python Live (Mostly)” (2014)
  • #9: “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” (1993-2009)
  • #8: Pink Floyd’s “Keep Talking” (1994) & “Talkin’ Hawkin’” (2014)
  • #7: “Stephen Hawking’s New Voice” (2017)
  • #6: “Anyone Can Quantum” (2016)
  • #5: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (2014-)
  • #4: “Futurama” (1999-2013)
  • #3, #2 & #1???

(7) A BBC/HAWKING ROUNDUP.

The downside of my celebrity is that I can’t go anywhere in the world without being recognized. It is not enough for me to wear dark sunglasses and a wig. The wheelchair gives me away.

As the world mourns Prof Stephen Hawking, who has died aged 76, there has been a particular outpouring of emotion in China, where the visionary physicist was revered by scientists, students, the state and even boy band stars.

In 1982, I had responsibility for his third academic book for the Press, Superspace And Supergravity.

This was a messy collection of papers from a technical workshop on how to devise a new theory of gravity.

While that book was in production, I suggested he try something easier: a popular book about the nature of the Universe, suitable for the general market.

Stephen mulled over my suggestion.

(8) FLEISHER OBIT. Michael Fleisher (1942-2018): US comics writer and novelist; died February 2, aged 75. Titles he worked on include The Spectre, Jonah Hex, Shade the Changing Man (created and drawn by Steve Ditko). Famously sued The Comics Journal, publisher Gary Groth and Harlan Ellison over a 1979 interview in which the latter described Fleisher (tongue in cheek, Ellison later claimed) as a “certifiable (..) bugfuck (..) lunatic”; the court found for the defendants. [By Steve Green.]

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 14, 1994 Robocop: The Series premiered on television.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY RELATIVIST

  • Born March 14, 1879 – Albert Einstein

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian isn’t the only one who remembered this is Pi Day – The Argyle Sweater.
  • Off the Mark also has a subtle play on the day.
  • As a commenter says after reading today’s Lio, “Before buying a book, always check to see if the title is a typo or not.”

(12) THANKS AND PRANKS. CBR.com answers its own question about the Harlan Ellison references in Hulk comics of the Seventies: “Comic Legends: Did A Hulk Classic Pay Hidden Tribute to a Sci-Fi Great?”

Anyhow, amusingly enough, Thomas was so pumped about having Ellison work on these issues that he actually decided to go a step further and, since the issue came out on April 1st, he would do an April Fool’s prank of sorts by working the name of over 20 Ellison stories into the story!

I won’t list all of them here, but I’ll do a few (the great poster, ruckus24, has all of them here).

Most notably is the title of the story, which is an adaptation of one of Ellison’s most famous story collections…

(13) MAD, YOU SAY. At Galactic Journey, Rosemary Benton reviews the newly released (55 years ago) Vincent Price film Diary of a Madman: “[March 14, 1963] Rising Stars and Unseen Enemies (Reginald Le Borg’s Diary of a Madman)”.

It feels as though, no sooner had the curtain fell and the lights came up on February’s horror/fantasy gem, The Raven, that the film reel snapped to life with another genre-crossing macabre film. While last month’s movie was a light, dry and sardonic comedy with a vaguely medieval setting and a cast of horror movie icons, Diary of a Madman, steps forward with a much more sobering aesthetic.

(14) SEMIPRO AND FAN CATEGORIES. Abigail Nussbaum continues a discussion of her Hugo nominating ballot in “The 2018 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Publishing and Fan Categories”. Here’s Nussbaum’s picks to succeed her in a category she won last year.

Best Fan Writer:

(A brief reminder here that I have announced that I would decline a nomination in this category if I received enough votes to qualify this year.)

  • Nina Allan – Nina had a great 2017, with her second novel The Rift gaining wide acclaim and attention.  She also continued to do good work as a critic and reviewer, on her personal blog, at Strange Horizons, and in the Shadow Clarke project.
  • Vajra Chandrasekera – We didn’t see as much of Vajra’s nonfiction writing in 2017 as I would have liked–his focus these days seems to be on his own fiction and on being a fiction editor at Strange Horizons.  But his writing at the Shadow Clarke site was some of the most insightful writing that project offered up, in particular this review of Aliya Whitely’s The Arrival of Missives.
  • Erin Horáková – After nominating Erin’s magnum opus for Best Related Work, you’re probably not surprised to find me nominating her in this category.  As well as that magnificent essay, Erin did other writing for Strange Horizons in 2017, covering movies, plays, and board games.
  • Samira Nadkarni – A lot of Samira’s best work is happening on twitter, where in 2017 she made some incisive comments about works like Star Trek: Discovery or Thor: Ragnarok (she had some equally interesting things to say last month about Black Panther).  In longer writing, some standouts include her review of Deserts of Fire, an anthology about “modern war” whose project Samira argues with vociferously, and of the Netflix show Crazyhead, in which she discusses the genre trope of conflating mental health problems and superpowers.

(15) NEWS TO ME. Those who wish to enhance their terminological education can start the thread here –

Just remember – once you know, there’s no going back!

(16) INFOGALATIC. Did you forget about Vox Day’s intended Wikipedia replacement, Infogalactic? Camestros Felapton hasn’t. He gives a status report in “Revisiting Voxopedia”.

Actor Robert Guillaume is alive and well on Voxopedia despite dying in October 2017 in Wikipedia: https://infogalactic.com/info/Robert_Guillaume as is (for all you Swap Shop fans out there) Keith Chegwin https://infogalactic.com/info/Keith_Chegwin who on Wikipedia died in Decemeber 2017. More famous people are more likely to have their deaths recorded but it is hit and miss.

The majority of pages remain as out-of-date Wikipedia pages from 2016 and the basic issue with Voxopedia remains the same: not enough editors and the editors it does have are mainly working on fringe projects. These are supplemented by one-off vanity pages (e.g. https://infogalactic.com/info/Richard_Paolinelli )

In comments, Camestros says Paolinelli wrote most of his own entry for Infogalactic. I’m fine with that. Never depend on others to make you famous, as Elst Weinstein and I concluded 40 years ago. (You probably wondered why there’s a copy of Weinstein & Glyer’s Discount Hoaxarama in every hotel room.)

(17) UP IN THE AIR. From the BBC: “Archaeopteryx flew like a pheasant, say scientists”. A synchrotron scan shows that the bones were hollow enough to allow short bursts of flight.

The famous winged dinosaur Archaeopteryx was capable of flying, according to a new study.

An international research team used powerful X-ray beams to peer inside its bones, showing they were almost hollow, as in modern birds.

The creature flew like a pheasant, using short bursts of active flight, say scientists.

Archaeopteryx has been a source of fascination since the first fossils were found in the 1860s.

(18) OFF THE SHELF. Our hero: “‘Boaty McBoatface’ sub survives ice mission”. The popular-choice name was passed on to autonomous submersible operating from the officially-named RSS David Attenborough. Boaty is just back from 48 hours exploring under an ice shelf.

The nation’s favourite yellow submarine swam under a near-600m thick ice shelf in the Antarctic, returning safely to its launch ship after 48 hours away.

It was an important test for the novel autonomous vehicle, which was developed at the UK’s National Oceanography Centre (NOC).

Boaty’s handlers now plan even more arduous expeditions for the sub in the years ahead.

This includes a traverse under the sea-ice that caps the Arctic Ocean.

(19) FANTASTIC DESTINATION. David Doering declares, “This Miyazki-inspired ad for Oregon travel is stupeyfyingly gorgeous!” — “Only Slightly Exaggerated | Travel Oregon”.

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

More and More To Evermore

By David Doering: I had a chance to walk around the fantasy-themed Evermore Park on construction here in Utah. The park is scheduled to debut later this year (I could see work continuing feverishly on the site even though it was Saturday). I wish I could share more pictures, but I can’t. But in a word, though, this place will be AWESOME.

No, really. I toured the site with its creator, Ken Bretschneider, He describes Evermore as “an Experience Park.” (Ken created The Void, a super-popular VR attraction at Disneyland, so he knows about how to immerse people in a new world.) To get you there, Evermore has not just period gardens, buildings and a 1/2 scale railroad. It will have exotic animals, creatures, and character players to make this like a live-action role-playing adventure. (And these themes change with the seasons!)

It’s weird, finding a latter-day Disneyland right here in little old Pleasant Grove, Utah. In the “creative studio”, I saw dozens of characters and creatures, costumes and constructs filling the place and a cast of great artists making them. It was also packed to the gunwales with antiques to add authenticity to the buildings.

it’s clear in talking with Ken hat he is absolutely focused on the details. He points out leatherwork with tiny engravings and detailed, handcrafted etchings in armor–all of which you might just miss in a casual glance. But not Ken. The antiques from Europe, the marble sculptures and stained glass are there all to ensure those buildings are as real as the originals.

I was thrilled–this is no budget spook alley for fright night–no way. This is an over $20 million dollar fan destination that can’t get here soon enough for me.

  • Ken looking like Walt Disney building Disneyland.

  • Showing off his passion for detail on various drawings.

  • Ken explaining creatures to fan Micheal Johnson. See how intense and focused he is?

  • Here Ken describes an early version of Evermore.

  • Where the village and train will be…shortly.

  • What will this be??

  • Hundreds of mature trees are going in.

  • Dozens of period houses and buildings

And here’s more coverage in the Evermore Vlog:

Evermore Park: a place of exploration, wonder, and discovery. Evermore is not a theme park, nor is it an event, discovery, theatrical, or thrill park. It is a blend of all of these and more. Evermore is an Experience Park. It’s designed to immerse guests into a world of adventure where they can live in an incredible story, and even build their own.

 

Sanderson Draws Huge Crowd to Oathbringer Launch

The man himself holds the crowd in thrall.

By David Doering: Over 1300 fans turned out for the Oathbringer Midnight Release Party in Provo, Utah on November 13. To be accurate, Brandon Sanderson interpreted “midnight ” as meaning midnight at Tor in NYC. So he started distributing books right at 10 p.m. Mountain Time

This was partly to give himself a break, as he figured the autograph line of 1200 would take till 5 a.m. to finish even with a 10 p.m. release.

Interestingly, there’s a cottage industry surrounding Brandon and his works. There were four or five dealers in the hallways selling shirts, jewelry, henna tattoos, and a variety of artists who’ve done illustrations in his works.

When Brandon spoke, he said he would rather have his novels as TV shows and not movies. He is worried what Hollywood would do to get even one of his novels into two hours.

He told that when his first Wheel of Time succeeded so well, Tom Doherty readily, eagerly agreed to taking Brandon ‘s own novel with lots of illustrations inside and maps on the endpapers. (Brandon says if kids’ books can have lots of illos why can’t adult books?) Only Tom bemoaned later about taking on such expense…

For me, the best part was the reminiscences he had of trying to get started as a writer, stalking editors at World Fantasy.

Best technique? Don’t tell an editor you want to discuss your novel. That’s a quick way to the exit.

Instead, tell the editor that “I have this friend who wants to be an editor.”

Guaranteed face time for an hour.

Then pitch your novel.

Some of the 1300-1400 on hand to be part of the “SanderCon”

Utah Launches 2019 Westercon and Prospective NASFiC Bid

A bid to bring Westercon back to Utah in 2019 has gone live. A placeholder Tempe bid, created when no one else filed, has stepped aside to give them a clear field.

The new bid proposes to hold Westercon 72 from July 3-7, 2019 at the Davis Conference Center and adjacent hotels in Layton, Utah. (Reportedly a barber shop quartet convention has locked up the rooms in Salt Lake City on the required dates, which is the reason for not going back there.)

Bid chair Ben Hatcher is supported by experienced leaders from the 2014 Salt Lake City Westercon committee, including Vice-Chair Kate Hatcher, and Bid Advisor/Treasurer Dave Doering.

The group has also declared that if a 2019 NASFiC becomes available (which seems likely, given Dublin’s unopposed Worldcon bid) they will bid for that as well, with the intention of holding a combined Westercon/NASFiC. (Note: Under the rules, a North American Science Fiction Convention — NASFiC — is held when the Worldcon is hosted outside the continent.)

As they explain on their website:

Side Note: The question of bidding for a NASFiC (North American Science Fiction Convention) came down to the fact if a Worldcon is voted overseas, then there would be two conventions, Westercon and the NASFiC, with similar goals, competing for space and members in the same year while dodging the dates of the overseas Worldcon.

The options are sexy for Worldcon 2019. This is an opportunity to solidify membership, expand awareness of all three conventions, and teach what has made these honored conventions great for so many years.

Utah for 2019 does not push for any particular bid, Worldcon will vote what is best for their convention. We only wish to be up front, and declare if a NASFiC becomes open due to an overseas bid, that we will bid for that as well, and run/combine both for a unique experience.

Wrap-up of Life, The Universe & Everything #34

By David Doering: LTUE—affectionately pronounced “lootee” despite the spelling, is a great hybrid of con, symposium, and workshop. Author Dan Wells calls it “the learning con” to differentiate it from the “spectator cons” like the Comic Con-type.

Here’s the logo—notice the ingenious design combining SF, Fantasy, and the fannish feline “Luna” in the negative space. Neat, huh?

LTUE logo

This year set new records:

  • Up to 10 events in each hour
  • Over 220 hours of programming (not including gaming, filking, film festival or the autograph party)
  • Over 1700 in attendance

LTUE continues to be the largest writers and creators conference in the Intermountain West.

Attendees from around the globe—as far as Saudi Arabia and Australia.

Guests of honor were Kevin J Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, and Shannon Hale. Other notables were the Writing Excuses team: Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, and Mary Robinette Kowal (our Toastmaster); L.E. Modesitt, Dave Farland, Larry Correia, editors Stacy Whitman and Lisa Mangum, artist Brian Hailes, Eric James Stone, and Michaelbrent Collins.

United Airlines needed 3 planes to get GoHs Kevin J Anderson and Rebecca Moesta to Salt Lake from Denver…Not only does United break guitars but it also breaks planes. Two had mechanical issues half way and had to turn back. (Wait. If you’re half way and have to turn around, wouldn’t it just be easier to fly the rest of the way to Salt Lake than turn around?? It’s only 400 air miles.)

(Despite this, KJA had a kind word to summarize his visit to LTUE:

KJA tweet

Kevin J Anderson also introduced a new measurement for writer productivity: the “Sanderson”. Based on Brandon’s 10K average word count of writing a week, Kevin jocularly says he only does about .1 Sanderson a week. (Which makes me feel like I only do like .005 sandersons.)

[Another term I heard for the first time, but likely is common amongst fantasy writers, was “horse dragon”—a dragon you can ride. Dd]

KJA’s main address was his life story on becoming a writer. Afterwards, Kevin complimented the LTUE audience as attentive and appreciative. “I give this talk at comic cons and the audience does politely laugh at the right parts. Here it was like I was speaking to a roomful of people like me 30 years ago eager to become writers.”

Todd Gallowglass, probably the finest professional live storyteller in fandom, gave a wonderful 15 tale of Scottish bravery to the LTUE banquet on Saturday night. (Yes, we still do a banquet to meet the hotel’s request for a food function.) After Todd’s storytelling with active audience participation, he thanked everyone because everyone really _wanted_ to participate when he signed to have them do cheers, oohs and aahs.

A real highlight was Shannon Hale’s main address on diversity. Shannon, though, didn’t stand up and be a firebrand to castigate. Instead, she noted how few boys come to her autograph sessions and, if they do, they say “well, my sister really likes your books”. She says she writes her books for human beings, so why does her being female or the title have “princess” in it make boys uncomfortable? Even young boys. Where does this start? This should be something we can fix today.

The most egregious example was of one school (of the 100 or so she visits each year) which said that boys didn’t need to attend her assembly—overtly indicating that either her books or her as an author would not be of interest to boys.

Mary Robinette Kowal’s toastmaster speech at the banquet was a sidesplitting recounting of her working with a malfunctioning marionette during a live performance of Sleeping Beauty(?) with recorded dialog. The ambiguous dialog suggested a whole different meaning to the scene when the maiden encounters the witch where the witch could only perform one action: a stroking movement with her hand.

Programming at LTUE primarily focuses on creators—writers, screenwriters, or artists—but there’s plenty of serious academic content. I loved the last presentation on Saturday “Time Travel” presented by surprisingly enough Salt Lake Comic Con’s own Bryan Brandenburg (who serves as their head of marketing). This was an intense, Einsteinian discussion with lots of “meat”:

Einstein

Okay, yes, that was one of his slides, but the rest of the content was in fact very scientific:

Einstein’s well accepted relativity physics states that time travel is possible, when one object is traveling faster than another object, especially as one object approaches the speed of light, relative to the other.

The earth and all of its inhabitants are traveling near the speed of light relative to a number of other objects in the universe. So has our future already happened, relative to some other observer in the universe?

HIGHLIGHTS (And Lowlights)

Here’s a dreadful picture of me during setup. Looks like the baby’s due in about three months. Egads. Smile’s pretty good. And the t-shirt with the Steve Keele-designed logo for Westercon 67 looks great! (Some are still available!)

David Doering

David Doering

Here’s Shannon Hale, author of fantasy series like the Princess Academy books, doing her main address. Note one of our mascot “Douglas” the dragon on the podium. (Wonder why LTUE would choose the name “Douglas”?)

Shannon Hale

Shannon Hale

Here’s some of the main guests discussing writing natural dialog. Notice how Brandon doesn’t need to have a nameplate. (Yes, we did record some events with permission to share on our Youtube channel.)

Sanderson no sign

Here’s the Writing Excuses podcast recording six sessions live at LTUE. Another super great event, and sadly one I didn’t get to hear or see. So I don’t know what the headbands are all about.

Panel 2

Yes, there’s gaming at LTUE. And with Brandon Sanderson involved, it’s quite a tournament!

Sanderson gaming

Expanded dealers room—like most cons, its books with some jewelry and a massage parlor. More unusual is that Barnes and Noble has four tables full of hardcovers and paperbacks and do a brisk business. Great support from our local B&N.

Kelly Olson

Even our libation station got kudos!

Bowman tweet

I missed this one. Dang, our first “official” after party too. (Keeping with fannish tradition, it was held the first night of the con.)

After Party

New this year is a full Professional Development track. LOTS of great feedback on this!

LTUE plug

Something very unique to Utah cons:

Meeks tweet

Another unique aspect at LTUE? Actual full rooms for 9AM panels:

Other good wrap-ups:

Drew Gerken

I was able to hang out my dearest friends for three days and talk the craft of writing – what else does a boy need? If you get the opportunity to go next year, please do so – you will not regret it.

Max Florschutz

LTUE 2016 was, as each LTUE before it, well worth attending. Over the years I’ve started to see it as the writing convention to attend, and I have no reservations in saying that if you want to attend a convention to help with your writing, this one should be it. Dozens of high-profile, A-list authors, all offering as much advice as they can while still having fun.

Rampant Coyote

Me? I’m definitely signing up for next year. I learned a lot, met a lot of great people, and had an absolute blast.

Kevin J. Anderson offered a really great analogy with respect to writing…there are a couple of ways to make popcorn: you can take a clean pan, put it on the oven burner, add exactly 1 tablespoon of oil and evenly spread the oil across the entire surface of the pan. You then turn the burner up to get the pan to exactly the right temperature – no more, no less. Then you select the perfect kernel of popcorn from your container of popcorn, and place it in the exact center of the pan where the heat is perfect. Then wait as the ripples form, and then (hopefully) when the kernel pops you immediately remove it to a paper towel to soak up the excess oil. Then you turn off the burner, let the pan cool, and then wash it and clean it so the pan is in pristine condition. Then you repeat the entire process all over again.

Or, of course, you can just dump all the popcorn in, not really be able to predict in advance which kernel will pop or which direction it will pop. In the end, you’ll have a whole bowl full of popcorn either way, but in the first case you may starve to death before you get there.