Pixel Scroll 1/20/16 Splendiferous Bastion of Finely-Tuned Nuance

(1) BIG PLANET. New evidence suggests a ninth planet is lurking at the edge of the solar system.

Astronomers at the California Institute of Technology announced Wednesday that they have found new evidence of a giant icy planet lurking in the darkness of our solar system far beyond the orbit of Pluto. They are calling it “Planet Nine.”

Their paper, published in the Astronomical Journal, describes the planet as about five to 10 times as massive as the Earth. But the authors, astronomers Michael Brown and Konstantin Batygin, have not observed the planet directly.

Instead, they have inferred its existence from the motion of recently discovered dwarf planets and other small objects in the outer solar system. Those smaller bodies have orbits that appear to be influenced by the gravity of a hidden planet – a “massive perturber.” The astronomers suggest it might have been flung into deep space long ago by the gravitational force of Jupiter or Saturn.

Accompanying the Post article is a short video with the delightfully hideous title “Planet Nine from outer space.”

(2) IN WORDS OF MORE THAN ONE SYLLABLE. Read the paper here.

3. ANALYTICAL THEORY

Generally speaking, coherent dynamical structures in particle disks can either be sustained by self-gravity (Tremaine 1998; Touma et al. 2009) or by gravitational shepherding facilitated by an extrinsic perturber (Goldreich & Tremaine 1982; Chiang et al. 2009). As already argued above, the current mass of the Kuiper Belt is likely insufficient for self-gravity to play an appreciable role in its dynamical evolution. This leaves the latter option as the more feasible alternative. Consequently, here we hypothesize that the observed structure of the Kuiper Belt is maintained by a gravitationally bound perturber in the solar system.

(3) WORLDCON LODGING. MidAmeriCon II hotel reservations open January 25.

(4) FAKING IT. According to The Digital Reader, the “Number One Book Brits Pretend to Have Read is 1984, But for Americans, It’s Pride and Prejudice”.

A recent survey of 2,000 Brits has revealed that 62% of respondents had pretended to have read  one book or another in order to appear smart. The top ten books that people pretend to have read are an impressive list of books, with Orwell’s 1984 and War and Peace taking the top 2 spots.

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien is sixth.

(5) HARLAN SAVES. Elon Musk described the influence of Harlan Ellison on his thinking during this interview. The reference comes at about 13:20 into the video.

It’s possible that Harlan will save the human race. Elon has funded research on A. I.’s with the idea that when they emerge that they will be friendly to us humans. “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” frightened Elon enough to get him to fund the research therefore, if that research helps avoid an unfriendly A. I., then Harlan saved all of us

In the second part of this interview, Elon Musk talks about Artificial Intelligence and the deep concerns its causing him. But first he talks about Tesla building an affordable car, Apple’ rumoured electric vehicle and the future of autonomous driving.

 

(6) REMEMBERING HARTWELL. Dozens of deeply moving and historically fascinating tributes to David G. Hartwell are appearing at this hour. Representative is Michael Swanwick’s memorial:

I was in Chicago a couple of years ago for Gene Wolfe’s induction into the literary hall of fame there when the phone rang and David Hartwell said, “I’m sitting in Fred Pohl’s kitchen with him, going through J. K. Klein’s photos, looking for pictures of old time writers. Do you want to join us?” You bet I did. I think back to that brief call and I can hear him grinning. The joy in his voice was infectious. That was the key to David G. Hartwell: he loved science fiction, he loved work, he loved making worthwhile things happen….

(7) SARTORIAL SPLENDOR. Here’s the David G. Hartwell Necktie Exhibit that celebrates his garish neckties.

(8) VIEW TIPTREE SYMPOSIUM. The first in a series of videos from December’s James Tiptree, Jr. Symposium at the University of Oregon is now online.

It shows Professor, Carol Stabile convening the symposium, welcome remarks by UO Dean of Libraries, Adriene Lim and Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Doug Blandy, and the keynote talk by Tiptree biographer Julie Phillips, followed by Q&A.

(9) LIVED EXPERIENCE. Sarah A. Hoyt pays it forward in a column of mentoring for indie and other fledgling writers. In a few places I was nodding my head, especially section 3.

However, with the proliferation of indie, I’m seeing a lot more kid writers running around the net (and conferences) with their metaphorical pants around their metaphorical ankles and fingerpainting the walls in shades of brown.

I would hate for that to happen to one of mine, even if just one who follows my lessons here or over at PJM and as such, I’d like to at least ward off some of the worst behavior….

3- Speaking of marking you as a newbie:

Just a few years ago, I realized either a lot of people were naming their kids Author, Writer or Novelist, or the newbies in my field had got off their collective rocker.

This used to be advice given to us before social media: don’t put writer on your card.  If you’re doing it right, they’ll remember that.

I guess it’s more needful than ever for people’s egos to affirm their real writerness (totally a word) now that there are no gatekeepers.

Look, the way to affirm you’re a writer is to write, and to take it seriously.  Putting “writer” or novelist, or author on your card, your facebook page or your blog isn’t going to make you any more “real” than you are.

But Sarah, you’ll say, how will people know it’s me, and not another Jane Smith?

Well, if they’re looking for you, they’ll know.They’ll know because of your friends, your place of origin, the stuff you post.  Fans are amazing that way.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • January 20, 1920 – DeForest Kelley.
  • January 20, 1930 — Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, the second man to set foot on the moon.

(11) SHOW HIM THE MONEY. Stephen Harper Piziks on Book View Café doesn’t work for free anymore.

“We just don’t have the money to pay you,” say the moochers.  “We’re barely making our other expenses as it is.  Even our president is a volunteer!”

Then maybe you should charge more for admission.  Or get some sponsors.  Or just realize that you can’t have speakers at such a low-budget event.

“But you’ll get exposure,” goes more whining.

Tell you what.  You talk to the grocery store, the electric company, and the mortgage people and get them to accept exposure instead of cash, and I’ll speak for exposure.

I once showed up at a local convention where I’d been scheduled to speak on five panels (that’s five hours of public speaking) and was informed that I owed =them= $30 to cover my admission.  It was only when I turned to walk out that they grudgingly allowed me free entry.  Later, the con chair denigrated me by name on Twitter.  I thanked him for the exposure.

And that brings me to final reason I charge.  No one, including event organizers, values something they get for free.  You get what you pay for, and an author who speaks for nothing is worth nothing.  Certainly they’re treated that way.  At festivals and conventions where I spoke for free, I’ve been ignored, pushed around, insulted, and denigrated.  This has never happened at places that paid me.

(12) THE SECRET OF TIMING. Vox Day, while reporting this morning that David G. Hartwell was not expected to recover, identified him as part of this history:

Hartwell was John C. Wright’s editor at Tor Books; he was also friendlier to the Puppies than any of the SF-SJWs are likely to believe. I had the privilege of speaking with him when he called me last year after the Rabid Puppies overturned the SF applecart; he was the previously unnamed individual who explained the unusual structure of Tor Books to me, using the analogy of a medieval realm with separate and independent duchies. He wanted to avoid cultural war in science fiction even though he clearly understood that it appeared to be unavoidable; it was out of respect for him that I initially tried to make a distinction between Tor Books and the Making Light SJWs before Irene Gallo and Tom Doherty rendered that moot.

(13) IT’S A THEORY. Scholars told the BBC why they believe some fairy tales originated thousands of years ago.

Using techniques normally employed by biologists, academics studied links between stories from around the world and found some had prehistoric roots.

They found some tales were older than the earliest literary records, with one dating back to the Bronze Age.

The stories had been thought to date back to the 16th and 17th Centuries.

Durham University anthropologist Dr Jamie Tehrani, said Jack and the Beanstalk was rooted in a group of stories classified as The Boy Who Stole Ogre’s Treasure, and could be traced back to when Eastern and Western Indo-European languages split more than 5,000 years ago.

Analysis showed Beauty And The Beast and Rumpelstiltskin to be about 4,000 years old.

[Thanks to Gary Farber, Will R., and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day JJ.]

David G. Hartwell (1941-2016)

David G. Hartwell at the 2015 World Fantasy Con. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

David G. Hartwell at the 2015 World Fantasy Con. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

Tor senior editor David G. Hartwell passed away January 20 in the aftermath of a massive stroke a day earlier.

Hartwell was a three-time Hugo winner, for Best Professional Editor (2006), and Best Professional Editor Long Form (2008, 2009). All told, as a professional editor, and co-editor of New York Review of SF, he was nominated for the Hugo a total of 41 times. He was Guest of Honor at the 2009 Worldcon in Montreal, Anticipation.

Hartwell also received World Fantasy Awards in 1988, a special award for his work editing anthologies, and another specifically for the anthology The Dark Descent.

He was the chair of the board of directors of the World Fantasy Convention and, with Gordon Van Gelder, the administrator of the Philip K. Dick Award.

(Left) Chuck Miller and (Right) David G. Hartwell at the 1982 World Fantasy Con. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

(Left) Chuck Miller and (Right) David G. Hartwell at the 1982 World Fantasy Con. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

Andrew Porter, who has been photographing Hartwell for decades, recalls: “I knew David since he was a live-in dorm proctor at Columbia, I think, in the early 70s. He was doing The Little Magazine and I, with a bunch of other SF fans, went to a reading at the 92nd Street YMHA by some little-known Canadian author, Margaret Atwood…”

He is survived by his wife, Kathryn Cramer (with whom he co-edited two annual Year’s Best anthologies for SF and Fantasy), and his children.

David G. Hartwell at BEA 2015. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

David G. Hartwell at BEA 2015. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

Update 01/20/2015: This is a substantially rewritten post. The original prematurely announced Hartwell’s death.

Hartwell Suffers Stroke

Gregory Benford reports that Tor editor David G. Hartwell had a stroke today, January 19.

I spoke to David’s daughter Elizabeth in Westport NY at 6:30 PST tonight.

David had a stroke this afternoon at 4:30 Eastern time and is in critical condition.

Overwhelming.

Update 01/23/2016: It was later clarified that while carrying a bookcase upstairs, Hartwell suffered a fall which caused unstoppable cerebral bleeding.

Pixel Scroll 11/24 The Choler out of Space

(1) Fans beat the pros at trivia – well, of course they did.

The awkward moment when Peter Capaldi, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss came third in a Doctor Who pub quiz.

The trio – who called themselves The Time Wasters – clearly didn’t know their wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff

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(2) John Picacio teed off against the World Fantasy Con’s call for new award design submissions:

Artists — how do you feel about someone who says, “Give us your ideas for free. If we decide we like one of them, we’ll use it for our own personal branding and for our own prestige. We will hire someone to make multiple images of it and that person will not receive compensation either. We have zero respect for any of you as working professionals.”

As of today, that’s the official message that the World Fantasy Convention just transmitted to all professional artists as the WFC searches for a new image for their World Fantasy Award. See their new “World Fantasy Award Call for Submissions”.

That’s right. Your ideas and your work — for nothing.

It’s an extremely unprofessional message, and it’s not one that befits experienced professionals. It says to all of its members — writers, editors, agents, publishers — that the organization doesn’t value its own branding enough to properly invest in it. That’s very sad to see.

This stirred up debate among commenters on Picacio’s Facebook page, including Ellen Datlow, Sean Wallace, Irene Gallo and others.

(3) Two days ago I ran David Hartwell’s photo of a NY subway car wrapped in a graphical ad for The Man in the High Castle  — but today Amazon announced it will remove the ads amid uproar over their use of insignia inspired by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

The online retailer made the decision to pull the ads amid widespread coverage of the wrap, which cover half the 42nd Street shuttle’s seats in decals of the American flag with the stars replaced by an emblem that closely resembles the Nazi Reichsadler, the heraldic eagle used by the Third Reich. The other side features a recreation of a World War II-era Japanese flag in red, white and blue….

Straphanger Ann Toback was disturbed to find the posters wallpapered on the Grand Central shuttle.

“Hate speech, hate insignia requires a response when you see it, you don’t just say, ‘oh, it’s New York,” said Toback. “You see, you have a choice to stare at the Japanese empire insignia or the Nazi insignia.”

A spokesman for the MTA said there were no grounds to reject the ads because they do not violate the authority’s content-neutral ad standards, which only prohibits advertising that disparages an individual or group. ..

Some activists and officials, however, expressed outrage that the advertisements were allowed to run.

“As a Jew, I am offended, and as a New Yorker, I am embarrassed,” said state Rep. Jeffrey Dinowitz. “The MTA should be ashamed of themselves and this ignorant advertising campaign, as it is offensive not just to the Jewish community, but to all Americans.”

Mayor de Blasio also decried the ads, calling them “irresponsible.”

…Not everyone was bothered by the marketing. One rider said, “It’s not like the end of the world, it’s not specifically targeting a group of people. It’s just for a show.”

(4) Justin Raimondo contrasts the novel and miniseries in “Myths of Empire: The Man in the High Castle: a review of sorts” at AntiWar.com.

Dick’s original version would never be allowed on American television: the political realities of our time forbid it. Empires are founded on mythologies – narratives in which historical events are interpreted in a way that justifies the status quo, and crowds out any dissenting version, consigning the truth – if such there is – to the margins.

(5) Myke Cole posted a photo of him receiving his promotion from NYPD Commissioner Bratton. (All I can find in bios is that he does “specialized work” there.)

(6) At National Review Online, Katherine Timpf discusses how she got death threats after she joked on the Fox News Channel comedy show Red Eye “I have never had any interest in watching space nerds poke each other with their little space nerd sticks, and I’m not going to start now.”

And:

“Yesterday I tweeted something, and all I said was that I wasn’t familiar with Star Wars because I’ve been too busy liking cool things and being attractive.”

Now, I received a few death threats right after I posted the aforementioned tweet — which, by the way, was why I was saying Star Wars fans were “crazy” in the first place. Overall, though, it wasn’t a big deal, and I kind of forgot about it.

Then, this week, one Star Wars super-super-super fan who calls himself “AlphaOmegaSin” made a ten-minute (!) video brutally ripping me apart.

(7) “NASA not ready for dangers of deep space, auditors say” writes Jerry Markon of the Washington Post.

American culture and cinema often glorifies space travel, from the heroic early adventurers of “The Right Stuff” to the more recent rescue of Matt Damon’s astronaut character from Mars in “The Martian.”

But the reality is less glamorous, with journeys into deep space posing serious dangers to astronauts that include inadequate food, radiation exposure and heightened risks of developing cancer and other maladies. And NASA is not yet ready to handle those dangers as it moves ahead with plans to send the first human mission to Mars by the 2030s, according to a recent audit.

NASA inspector general Paul K. Martin found that the legendary space agency “faces significant challenges” ensuring the safety of any Mars-bound astronauts,  and that its schedule to limit the risks is overly “optimistic.” As a result, he said, Mars crews likely will have to accept more risks to their health and safety than their predecessors who went to the moon and work in the International Space Station.

(8) “Mœbius & Jodorowsky’s Sci-Fi Masterpiece, The Incal, Brought to Life in a Tantalizing Animation” at Open Culture.

Last year we featured artwork from the Dune movie that never was, a collaboration between Alejandro Jodorowsky, the mysticism-minded Chilean director of such oft-described-as-mind-blowing pictures as El Topo and The Holy Mountain, and the artist Jean Giraud, better known as Mœbius, creator of oft-described-as-mind-blowing comics as Arzach, Blueberry, and The Airtight GarageIf ever a meeting of two creative minds made more sense, I haven’t heard about it. Alas, Jodorowsky and Mœbius’ work didn’t lead to their own Dune movie, but it didn’t mark the end of their artistic partnership, as anyone who’s read The Incal knows full well.

Telling a metaphysical, satirical, space-operatic story in the form of comic books originally published throughout the 1980s (with sequel and prequel series to come over the following 25 years), The Incal on the page became the fullest realization of Jodorowsky and Mœbius’ combined vision.

(9) Blue Origin’s New Shepard space vehicle successfully flew to space, reaching its planned test altitude of 329,839 feet (100.5 kilometers) before executing a historic landing back at the launch site in West Texas.

“But more significant,” notes the Washington Post, “was the landing of the rocket booster, which descended, flew through 119 mph high-altitude crosswinds and touched down on the landing pad by firing its engine again. The company based in Kent, Wash., said it landed just four-and-a-half feet from the center.”

 

(10) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • Born November 24, 1916 – Forrest J Ackerman

(11) “How an industry of ‘Amazon entrepreneurs’ pulled off the Internet’s craftiest catfishing scheme” in the Washington Post.

There’s only one problem with Dagny Taggart — she doesn’t exist. Evidence collected and examined by The Washington Post suggests that Taggart (who is named for a character in Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”) is a made-up identity used by an Argentine man named Alexis Pablo Marrocco. Marrocco, meanwhile — and other self-described “Kindle entrepreneurs” like him — form part of a growing industry of “Amazon catfish.”

The catfishing process varies according to the specific “entrepreneur” using it, but it typically follows the same general steps: After hiring a remote worker to write an e-book for the Kindle marketplace, Amazon’s e-book store, publishers put it up for sale under the name and bio of a fictional expert. Frequently, Kindle entrepreneurs will then buy or trade for good book reviews. (Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, also owns The Washington Post.)

At the end of this process, they hope to have a Kindle store bestseller: something with a catchy title about a hot topic, such as gambling addiction or weight loss.

“Making money with Kindle is by far the easiest and fastest way to get started making money on the Internet today,” enthuses one video that promises to guide viewers to riches. “You don’t even need to write the books yourself!”

(12) Cute set of fandom greeting cards.

Sorry fav show canc tumblr_nwv6pwxkGE1r8pdmio3_500

(13) ‘Tis the season to break this out again: WKRP “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly” Thanksgiving

[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus, Martin Morse Wooster, Amy Sterling Casil, Brian Z., John King Tarpinian, and Tom Galloway for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day GP.]

Pixel Scroll 11/22 The Lurking Fear Supports Me In Email

(1) David G. Hartwell posted his photo with the comment, “Signs of the cultural times: NYC subway cars entirely decorated in PKD.”

PKD in the subway, NYC

(2) “Red, Reich and Blue: Building the World of ‘The Man in the High Castle’”, a New York Times article:

Early production art for the Times Square sequence included billboards for beer and sausages, but Mr. Spotnitz had them changed to signs promoting the value of work and duty. A scene in the home of a Nazi Party boss emblematically named Obergruppenführer John Smith (Rufus Sewell) was shot as if it were a vintage family sitcom, the son complaining over the breakfast table about a self-promoting Hitler Youth chum at school. His father patiently explains that his son will be a greater credit to his country, because selfishness is what ruined America before the war.

“If you squint and ignore the fact that the guy has a swastika on his arm,” Mr. Spotnitz said, “it looks a lot like ‘Father Knows Best.’”

(3) John King Tarpinian shot this photo at an exhibit of Michael C. Gross’ work a few days before the artist died.

 

(4) WIRED’s Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy” podcast  is talking about the new anthology of best American science fiction and fantasy with commentary by Joe Hill and John Joseph Adams. Also brief comments by Jess Row, Seanan McGuire, and Carmen Maria Machado.

The prestigious anthology series The Best American Short Stories tends to eschew science fiction and fantasy, except at the behest of unusually sympathetic guest editors like Michael Chabon or Stephen King.

But things are changing fast. The genre took a major step toward respectability this year with the release of the first-ever Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by John Joseph Adams. Adams feels the book is long overdue.

“The instruments of science fiction and fantasy—the tools in that genre toolbox—have been out there in the literary world and being explored for at least a decade now, in work by people like Jonathan Lethem, Michael Chabon, Margaret Atwood, and Cormac McCarthy,” [John Joseph Adams] says. “Science fiction and fantasy is part of the literary mainstream, and has been for a while now.”

Adams hopes The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy will prove that readers don’t have to choose between wild concepts and literary quality. Good sci-fi and fantasy deliver both, which is what makes them so hard to write.

“You have to create the compelling characters and have the beautiful prose and everything, but a science fiction story has to do all that and also build an entire world for you, or come up with some mind-blowing idea on top of all that,” he says.

(5) David Gerrold on Facebook:

I was reading an article about “the battle for the soul of science fiction” and I had to laugh.

Science fiction has no soul. We sold it a long time ago. About the time we started worrying about shelf space in the bookstores, share-cropping in other people’s universes, writing for franchises because they were guaranteed NY-times bestsellers, and campaigning for awards like a high-school popularity contest. Not to mention all those who talked about breaking out of the “ghetto” so they could have mainstream credibility.

If science fiction still has anything resembling a soul — it’s not going to be found in arguments about the soul of science fiction.

As I have said elsewhere, there is no single definition for science fiction. Every author who sits down at the keyboard defines it for himself or herself. Every author is his/her own definition of SF — and the genre continues to reinvent itself with every new author who arrives on the scene.

The idea that there is a specific definition for SF … well, we’ve been having that argument since Jules Verne and H.G. Wells got into a bitch fight at the 1902 Philcon. Okay, I exaggerate. Neither one of them were there. But they did hate each other because Verne’s view of science was optimistic and Wells’ view was dystopic — he didn’t think the human species was ready for high tech. He might have been right, but we’re here anyway….

(6) Winter is coming – on Titan

(7) Steve Davidson of Amazing Stories calls it “Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mistake”.

Kim Stanley Robinson published a major buzzkill on BoingBoing this week, essentially declaring that all of us science fiction nerds ought to give up on our dreams of visiting other stars (colonizing the galaxy…galactic empire…space marines…space pirates…discoveries of long dead highly advanced alien civilizations…discoveries of technological alien civilizations that want to be our friends…or eat us…incomprehensible artifacts…intriguingly bizarre ecosystems…) and instead focus our attentions on Earth and solar system centric futures.

There’s been a fair amount of pushback on this (we do love our space pirates after all), with the primary arguments being that –

KSR is being too pessimistic

KSR is making the cliched mistake of assuming that future technological growth won’t include unforseen breakthrus

KSR is not projecting far enough into the future

Those may all be true, but I have one other “mistake” to add to his thoughtful but bitter article:

KSR is making the mistake of trying to predict what will NOT happen in the future, as opposed to trying to predict what WILL happen in the future.

(8) Billy Dee Williams tells Parade that his Star Wars role keeps him in the spotlight – but it’s not always easy!

Fans have always wanted to talk about who Lando is and why he did what he did. Back when my daughter was in elementary school, I would go pick her up—this was right after The Empire Strikes Back came out—and I’d find myself in the middle of the schoolyard justifying Lando’s actions to a bunch of little kids. They’re all yelling at me saying I betrayed Han Solo. (By the way, I never auditioned for the Han Solo part and I’ve never not gotten along with Harrison Ford, who is a dear friend. Those rumors are completely false.)

Over the years, I’d be on airplanes and a flight attendant would accuse me of betraying Han Solo. I would just say, “Look, I—er, Lando—was just trying to prevent everyone’s complete demise and had to come up with a plan. Lando ended up losing and he had a lot to lose.”  Then I’d say, “Well, nobody died.”  That’s how I’d finalize it.

(9) Well, my eyes sure weren’t dry after watching this ad…

(10) Diana Pavlac Glyer is now in the author database at Worlds Without End, as is her forthcoming book about the Inklings, Bandersnatch, which you should unhesitatingly rush out and order.

(11) “Gal Gadot is adding to her fans’ building anticipation for the 2017 release of Warner Bros.’ superhero movie Wonder Woman,says The Hollywood Reporter.

(12) Peter Finocchiaro, in an article about the Lovecraft controversy for Salon, volunteers an answer for the question “of what to do with rejected or discarded ‘Howard’ trophies:”

Send them to Providence, Rhode Island. Providence – founded in 1636; 2010 population: 178,038 – was Lovecraft’s hometown, and it’s where I’m currently teaching a semester-long class on the author at the Rhode Island School of Design. And no object better embodies the complexity of his legacy than these now-outdated trophies. They are the perfect teaching tool.

After all, Providence plays a major role in the Lovecraft story. It’s where he spent all but a couple years of his life. It’s a playground for the slithering, malevolent creatures he imagined. (See “The Shunned House” and “The Haunter of the Dark.”) And it’s a place that he loved with such fervency that he once declared in a letter “I Am Providence” – a quote now etched on his tombstone, in the city’s Swan Point Cemetery.

Lovecraft’s racial views are not irrelevant to his civic pride. In one letter, he wrote “New England is by far the best place for a white man to live.” In another, he added, “America has lost New York to the mongrels, but the sun shines just as brightly over Providence.”

For decades after his death, Lovecraft’s hometown love was mostly unrequited. But recent years have brought a long-delayed love-fest. Drive through Providence today and you’ll see “H.P. Lovecraft Memorial Square,” two plaques in his honor, and a Lovecraft bust in the city’s famed Athenaeum library. The city has Lovecraft-themed read-a-thons, walking tours, research fellowships, apps, writing contests, and bars that serve Lovecraft-inspired drinks like the “Bittersweet Tears of Cthulhu” and “Lovecraft’s Lament.”

(13) We have met the aliens, and they is us. Certainly some of the time.

There are a few known cosmic objects capable of producing bursts of radio waves. For instance, dense remnant stars called pulsars produce them, just not with such regularity or with as much power as observed in FRBs. Still, perhaps there are some undiscovered superdense stars that operate according to an underlying physics we don’t yet understand, which are spitting these radio waves across the cosmos. That’s one possible natural explanation, though mere conjecture at this point.

Some other scientists have theorized that FRBs could come from what is known as a “contact” binary star system, two stars orbiting each other at an extremely close distance.

It’s also possible that the signals are coming from something human. Perhaps an unmapped spy satellite is hovering about, appearing to send signals from deep space.

Human sources can be difficult to rule out. For instance, back in 2010 the Parkes Observatory picked up 16 pulses with similar characteristics to FRBs that turned out to be signals generated from microwave ovens operated at the Parkes facility. Though these signals were clearly of terrestrial origin, unlike FRBs, it goes to show that there may well be a simpler, human explanation for FRBs that has yet to be identified.

(14) “Reason enough to buy a Harley,” John King Tarpinian says about these Star Wars –themed motorcycle helmets described by BoldRide’s Jonathon Klein.

First-Order

Currently, a host of DOT-approved and other motorcycle helmets are being sold on eBay for all your cosplaying and motorcycling needs. You have everything from an almost perfect Darth Vader helmet to the all-new First Order Storm Trooper.

(15) Robert Altbauer, Fantasy Cartographer, has a series called “The Crusades and Lovecraft’s Monsters”.

This is a series of illustrations that imitates the style of old medieval paintings and adds a macabre flavour by incorporating some of H.P. Lovecraft’s famous monsters. The text is mostly medieval Middle High German.

robert-altbauer-furchtbar-drachengezucht COMP

(16) Phil Nichols of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies noted on Facebook:

R Is For Rocket (Doubleday hardcover, 1962) was a compilation of previously-collected Bradbury short stories put together for a young adult audience.

The cover art by Joe Mugnaini relates to the story “Icarus Montgolfier Wright.” If you look at the body of the spaceship, you will see the Montgolfier’s balloon, the Wright brothers’ plane, and a winged Icarus.

Curiously, “Icarus Montgolfier Wright” isn’t included in the book!

(17) Ray Bradbury wrote in Fahrenheit 451:

If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war. If the government is inefficient, top-heavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it. Peace, Montag. Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change.

(18) Uh-oh! [SPOILER WARNING!] This is the week they bumped her off!

Why Does Clara Face The Raven?

Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat talk about that big moment in the latest episode.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Josh Jasper. ]

S. T. Joshi Rails Against Ending Use of Lovecraft Bust on World Fantasy Award

Two-time World Fantasy Award winner S. T. Joshi, author of numerous books on H. P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos, and the editor of many more critical works about them, publicly announced he is returning his awards in protest against the World Fantasy Con’s decision to stop using a bust of Lovecraft as the award trophy.

He wrote on his blog November 10:

It has come to my attention that the World Fantasy Convention has decided to replace the bust of H. P. Lovecraft that constitutes the World Fantasy Award with some other figure. Evidently this move was meant to placate the shrill whining of a handful of social justice warriors who believe that a “vicious racist” like Lovecraft has no business being honoured by such an award. (Let it pass that analogous accusations could be made about Bram Stoker and John W. Campbell, Jr., who also have awards named after them. These figures do not seem to elicit the outrage of the SJWs.) Accordingly, I have returned my two World Fantasy Awards to the co-chairman of the WFC board, David G. Hartwell. Here is my letter to him:

Mr. David G. Hartwell
Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010Dear Mr. Hartwell:

I was deeply disappointed with the decision of the World Fantasy Convention to discard the bust of H. P. Lovecraft as the emblem of the World Fantasy Award. The decision seems to me a craven yielding to the worst sort of political correctness and an explicit acceptance of the crude, ignorant, and tendentious slanders against Lovecraft propagated by a small but noisy band of agitators.

I feel I have no alternative but to return my two World Fantasy Awards, as they now strike me as irremediably tainted. Please find them enclosed. You can dispose of them as you see fit.

Please make sure that I am not nominated for any future World Fantasy Award. I will not accept the award if it is bestowed upon me.

I will never attend another World Fantasy Convention as long as I live. And I will do everything in my power to urge a boycott of the World Fantasy Convention among my many friends and colleagues.

Yours,
S. T. Joshi

And that is all I will have to say on this ridiculous matter. If anyone feels that Lovecraft’s perennially ascending celebrity, reputation, and influence will suffer the slightest diminution as a result of this silly kerfuffle, they are very much mistaken.

 

World Fantasy Award To Abandon Lovecraft Bust

World Fantasy Award

World Fantasy Award

David Hartwell announced at the World Fantasy Award ceremony on November 8 that this will be the last year that the award trophy will be in the form of the traditional — and controversial — H.P. Lovecraft bust designed by Gahan Wilson.

Last year Daniel Jose Older collected over 2,500 signatures on a petition calling for the replacement of “avowed racist and a terrible wordsmith” H.P. Lovecraft on the World Fantasy Award.

The Guardian reported last September that the “board of the World Fantasy awards has said that it is ‘in discussion’ about its winners’ statuette”.

When Sofia Samatar won in 2014, she made a statement about the controversy in her acceptance speech, which she later expanded into a blog post —

  1. The Elephant in the Room I think I used those words. I think I said “I can’t sit down without addressing the elephant in the room, which is the controversy surrounding the image that represents this award.” I said it was awkward to accept the award as a writer of color. (See this post by Nnedi Okorafor, the 2011 winner, if you are confused about why.) I also thanked the board for taking the issue seriously, because at the beginning of the ceremony, Gordon van Gelder stood up and made an announcement to that effect: “The board is taking the issue very seriously, but there is no decision yet.” I just wanted them to know that here I was in a terribly awkward position, unable to be 100% thrilled, as I should be, by winning this award, and that many other people would feel the same, and so they were right to think about changing it.

In May, File 770 reached out to the WFC Board about the status of the Lovecraft image but received no acknowledgement.

Forbes Visits the Hucksters Room

Larry Smith and Sally Kobee at Readercon 25.

Larry Smith and Sally Kobee at Readercon 25.

Science fiction’s capitalists, who flog their books in the hucksters room for filthy lucre, have at last been recognized by that journal for millionaires, Forbes.

John Farrell, Forbes science and technology journalist, ran photos of legendary fans he witnessed “Dealing In Science Fiction Classics At Readercon”.

Farrell rhapsodizes about the favorite old books he found for sale, then turns his focus on the sellers — Larry Smith and Sally Kobee, David G. Hartwell and Michael Swanwick, Ralph Carlson, Jane Morriss, Darrell Schweitzer and Mattie Brahen.

[Thanks to Bill Higgins for the link.]

Eaton Presents Benford, Hartwell and Wolfe 5/12

UC Riverside’s Eaton Collection will host a discussion and debate between Gregory Benford, Gary K. Wolfe and David Hartwell titled “Perspectives on Science Fiction” on Monday, May 12. It begins at 3:15 p.m. in the Special Collections & University Archives on the 4th Floor of Rivera Library.

Gregory Benford has published over thirty books, mostly novels. Nearly all remain in print, some after a quarter of a century. His fiction has won many awards, including the Nebula Award for his novel Timescape. A winner of the United Nations Medal for Literature, he is a professor of physics, emeritus, at the University of California, Irvine.

David Hartwell is an American editor of science fiction and fantasy. He has worked for Signet (1971–73), Berkley Putnam (1973–78), Pocket (where he founded the Timescape imprint, 1980–85, and created the Pocket Books Star Trek publishing line), and Tor Books Since 1995, his title at Tor/Forge Books has been “Senior Editor.” He chairs the board of directors of the World Fantasy Convention and, with Gordon Van Gelder, is the administrator of the Philip K. Dick Award. He holds a Ph.D. in comparative medieval literature.

Gary K. Wolfe is a science fiction editor, critic and biographer. He is Professor of Humanities at Roosevelt University’s Evelyn T. Stone College of Professional Studies. Wolfe has written extensively about science fiction and fantasy literature; he is widely recognized as one of the experts in the field. He has had a monthly review column in Locus and has written for Salon and other sites.

[Thanks to Gregory Benford for the story.]

Hartwell SF Symposium at Williams

The public is invited to The David G. Hartwell ’63 Science Fiction Symposium at Williams College on October 22-24. Hartwell will participate in this event at his alma mater along with Samuel R. Delany, Kim Stanley Robinson, Elizabeth Kolbert, David Hartwell, Paolo Bacigalupi, William Gibson, Terry Bisson, and John Crowley.

A Science Fiction Reading will open the Symposium on Tuesday, October 22 in Griffin 3 at 4:00 p.m.  A Panel Discussion on Climate Change and Science Fiction will follow in Paresky Auditorium on October 23 at 7:30 p.m. The event will culminate with a Final Science Fiction Reading on Thursday, October 24 in Griffin 3 at 4:00 p.m.

The Symposium is sponsored by the Williams College English Department, The Margaret Bundy Scott Fund, American Studies, Environmental Studies, Africana Studies and the Oakley Center.  All three events are free and open to the public. The campus address is 844 Main St, Williamstown, MA 01267.

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh for the story.]