Pixel Scroll 11/28/18 When The Pixeling Gets Tough, The Tough Get Scrolling

(1) ATWOOD SEQUEL. With A Handmaid’s Tale enjoying great success as a TV series, Publishers Weekly reports “Margaret Atwood Is Writing a Sequel to ‘The Handmaid’s Tale'”.

Following two years in which Margaret Atwood‘s classic dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale saw a skyrocketing in readership and new cultural relevance, both on television and in society at large, the author has announced a sequel.

The Testaments, set 15 years after the final scene of The Handmaid’s Tale, will be published on September 10, 2019, by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, with an announced first printing of 500,000 copies….

“Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book,” Atwood said in a statement. “Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.”

The Testaments is not connected to the television adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, which is headed into its third season, six Emmy Awards in tow.

(2) NEBULA CONFERENCE PRICE RISE. Sean Wallace reminded people you have only until Friday to get the early bird special convention rate for SFWA’s Nebula Conference before it goes significantly up.

(3) IN FUTURE TENSE. Each month in 2018, Future Tense Fiction—a series of short stories from Future Tense and ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives— publishes a story on a theme. The theme for October–December 2018: Work. And this month’s story is “Overvalued” by Mark Stasenko, a TV writer whose credits include the Peabody Award–winning series American Vandal.

“How was your day?” Jack asked his wife as she took off her black leather pumps at the door of their spacious industrial-chic condo in NoMad.

“Good,” Sophia lied.

They didn’t use to lie to each other, not even about small things. Unfiltered honesty had always come naturally to them, despite their glaring differences—maybe because of them. But for the past six weeks, nothing seemed natural anymore. It was strange how much the death of a stranger had changed things.

It was published along with a response essay, “What’s Stopping Human Capital From Becoming a Security?”, by investor and writer Zachary Karabell.

That’s the specter raised by Mark Stasenko’s macabre short story of a not-too-distant future in which the potential of an individual has been turned into a tradeable security via a Prodigy Market in which investors can buy, sell, or short promising people.

Elements of the story are already real. Insurance companies have for many years insured vital aspects of individual talent and worth—Lloyd’s of London has famously insured Betty Grable’s legs and Bruce Springsteen’s voice….

(4) RESPONSES TO SILVERBERG. Here are a pair of analytical reactions to Robert Silverberg’s Racism and Sexism post on File 770, plus N.K. Jemisin’s answer.

Brianne Reeves of BreeReadsBooks wrote an open letter, “Dear Robert Silverberg…”, a free read on her Patreon page:

…I understand you are upset that someone spread your words around. Such is the way with playground gossip, too. You still need to apologize.

I understand that you don’t mean to cause harm. You should still think critically about how your words have evoked it.

I understand you do not go into your projects with an explicitly biased eye. You should consider one of the truest premises Science Fiction embraces: we are not always aware of our biases.

I understand you are not trying to exclude others. Consider that systems are built with inclusion and exclusion in mind. You should think through who is excluded in our publishing model and how that is painful and harmful to our community….

Will Emmons’ Facebook post tries to place Silverberg’s arguments in cultural and political context:

…The ‘drama’ is sort of beside the point though. Except it’s a place to jump off for a conversation of culture and politics. A better question than Robert Silverberg’s personal views, or even his personal history, is what the politics of fandom and/or other cultural affinity groups is or should be. I’m a communist and have my own views about this but I’m mostly going to be talking about other people’s views as I understand them.

A position common to the old school liberals and conservatives as well as the emergent far right is the intellectually dishonest statement that politics has no place in fandom. Silverberg writes of Jemisin’s Hugo speech that he “felt that her angry acceptance speech had been a graceless one, because I believe that Hugo acceptance speeches should be occasions for gratitude and pleasure, not angry statements that politicize what should be a happy ceremony.”

I say this is dishonest because the old school liberals and conservatives of the generation before Silverberg’s engaged in personal and political struggles against the left-leaning Futurian fans. It came to a head at the 1939 Worldcon when a number of important Futurians were barred from entry. For his own part, back in the 50s Silverberg’s immense output included, among everything else, what Nazis call “message fic,” i.e. stories that disagree with fascist values. Google “The Happy Unfortunate,” a public domain short story where genetically engineered spacemen are kept out of the main city through an apartheid-like arrangement.

N.K. Jemisin’s thread starts here.

(5) MORE ON FACIAL RECOGNITION. Writing in Forbes Magazine, Emeritus Professor of AI and Robotics Noel Sharkey looks at the dire warnings of totalitarianism that science fiction has provided, from Orwell to Doctorow, and asks us to consider what the tipping point is at which unfreedom begins: “Get Out Of My Face, Get Out of My Home: The Authoritarian Tipping Point”.

…There is an even more serious question than the massive inaccuracy of face recognition technology outside of the lab. It is even more serious than the racial and gender prejudice of the technology. The question is why the hell are we allowing law enforcement to scan our faces and use them for data?

Inaccurate face recognition creates grave injustices and sooner or later the wrong people will die because of it. But better accuracy may be even worse for the direction of our society. I fully understand how useful it would be for the police to catch dangerous wanted criminals and safely follow potential terrorists wherever they go. But at what cost to our lives?

Imagine if all of the mass of security cameras were equipped with reasonably accurate face recognition – and this is not totally unrealistic – there would be no place to hide. The more this is used, the cheaper it will get and the more AI will be used to act on the data. How long will it be before people are tracked for trivial offenses by face recognition software and told to wait until they are picked up? This technology would put great power in the hands of the authorities.

This is not the society that I wish to live in. Yet huge numbers of us are helping the quest by allowing apps like Facebook to collect data about our faces. When we post pictures of our friends on Facebook and tag them, we are providing data for face recognition algorithms to link those faces with their personal data. Some phones now acquire your face data so that it can be used to recognize you and open your phone….

(6) HILLENBURG OBIT. SpongeBob Squarepants’ creator Stephen Hillenburg died November 26 at age 57 — Variety has the story.

That same year [1992] he won an award for Best Animated Concept at the Ottawa International Animation Festival for his animated short “Wormholes”, which went on to be shown at various international animation festivals. From 1993 to 1996 he would pursue work in television as a director and writer on Nickelodeon’s series “Rocko’s Modern Life.”

From there, he began to work full-time on writing producing, and directing on the animated series that would eventually become “SpongeBob SquarePants.” The first episode aired on Nickelodeon on May 1, 1999 and the series commenced its full run on July 17 of that year. The series has aired nearly 250 episodes to date. It appealed not only to children but older viewers as well, with college students even organizing viewing parties for the show.

(7) BURT OBIT. Andrew Burt (1945-2018): British actor, died November 16, aged 73. Genre appearances include The Legend of King Arthur (seven episodes, 1979), Blake’s 7 (one episode, 1980), Gulliver in Lilliput (four episodes, 1982), Doctor Who (three episodes, 1983), Super Gran (one episode, 1985).

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born November 28, 1930 – William Sargent, 88, Actor who played Dr. Leighton in “The Conscience of the King”, a first-season episode of Star Trek. He also had guest roles on Mission: Impossible, The Twilight Zone, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Invaders, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and appeared in the zombie movie Night Slaves. He was in the pilot but not the regular cast for the TV series The Immortal, for which SFWA Grand Master James Gunn was head writer.
  • Born November 28, 1939 – Walter Velez, Artist. His agent and fellow artist Jill Bauman wrote, “Walter created illustrations for most of the major book and gaming companies. He has been long known for his cover art for such popular books such as the Thieves World series and the Myth Adventures series, both edited by Robert Asprin; and the Ebenezum, Wuntor, and Cineverse Cycle series, all by Craig Shaw Gardner. Walter illustrated for TSR games extensively. He applied his multi-faceted talents to trading cards for the Goosebumps series for the Topps Company, and a series of Dune trading cards. In the early 80’s he worked with Random House to create art for several Star Wars books that were licensed from George Lucas.” (Died 2018.)
  • Born November 28, 1946 – Joe Dante, 72, Director and Producer. Warning, this is a personal list of works he directed that I’ve really, really enjoyed – starting off with The Howling, then adding in the Saturn-nominated Innerspace, both of the Saturn-nominated Gremlins films (though I think only the first is a masterpiece, which is why that Saturn nom got him a trophy), Small Soldiers, and The Hole (2009). For television work, he’s directed episodes for quite a number of series, but the only one I can say I recall and was impressed by was his Legends of Tomorrow “Night of the Hawk” episode. As Producer, I see he’s responsible for The Phantom (proving that everyone has a horrible day), the Jeremiah series, and an upcoming horror film called Camp Cold Brook.
  • Born November 28, 1950 – Ed Harris, 68, Actor, Director, and Producer with a lengthy genre resume whose first role was in the Michael Crichton-directed version of Robin Cook’s Coma, but whose most famous genre role, depending on your flavor of fandom, might be his Oscar-nominated turn as Flight Director Gene Kranz in the Hugo finalist Apollo 13 (which earned him a sly voice cameo as Mission Control in Gravity), his Saturn-winning lead role as The Man in Black in the TV series Westworld, his Saturn-nominated performance as an undersea explorer in the Hugo finalist The Abyss, or his Oscar- and Saturn-nominated part as the exploitative genius of The Truman Show.
  • Born November 28, 1952 – S. Epatha Merkerson, 66, Actor who has spent around 25 years in main roles in Dick Wolf’s Law & Order and Chicago procedural dramas, but who managed to sneak in genre roles in the films Jacob’s Ladder, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Slipstream, and a main role in the short-lived 1990s cyborg police series Mann & Machine.
  • Born November 28, 1961 – Alfonso Cuarón, 57, Writer, Director, and Producer from Mexico who has directed three impressive genre films: the Hugo finalists Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Children of Men (based on P. D. James’ 1992 novel of the same name) and the Hugo Award-winning Gravity, for which he also won an Oscar. He also produced the Hugo-winning Pan’s Labyrinth, and is the creator of Believe, a TV series about a young girl born with special supernatural abilities she can not control, which lasted thirteen episodes. The Possibility of Hope, a documentary short film which he directed, looks at different matters of the world such as immigration, global warming and capitalism through the eyes of scientists and philosophers.
  • Born November 28, 1962 – Mark Hodder, 56, Writer from England who is best known for his Burton & Swinburne alternate-history Victorian steampunk novels, starting off with The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack, which deservedly garnered the 2010 Philip K. Dick Award. Books 3 and 4, Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon and The Secret of Abdu El Yezdi, were finalists for Sidewise Awards. His A Red Sun Also Rises recreates a sort of Victorian London on a far distant alien world (emphasis on “sort of”). And then there’s Consulting Detective Macallister Fogg, which appears to be his riff off of Sherlock Holmes, only decidedly weirder.
  • Born November 28, 1984 – Mary Elizabeth Winstead, 34, Actor, Singer, and Producer whose roots are deepest in the horror genre, with notable roles in Sky High, Final Destination 3, Monster Island, Black Christmas (so merry-sounding, that), the recent reboot of The Thing, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (anyone seen this?), 10 Cloverfield Lane (for which she won a Saturn Award), The Ring Two, and the upcoming Gemini Man. Her series work includes Touched by an Angel and its spinoff Promised Land, Wolf Lake, Tru Calling, The Returned, and a guest voice role on the animated Danger & Eggs series (which I am not describing).
  • Born November 28, 1987 – Karen Gillan, 31, Actor, Writer, and Director whom Doctor Who fans know as Amy Pond, companion to the Eleventh Doctor; two episodes in which she appeared, “The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang” and “The Doctor’s Wife”, won Hugo Awards. More recent high-profile roles include playing Nebula in the Guardians of The Galaxy and Avengers movies, and Ruby Roundhouse in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Other genre appearances include the supernatural thriller films Outcast and Oculus, and the multi-platform horror story The Well.

(9) BOOKSHOP OPENS NEW BRANCH UNDER FANNISH MANAGEMENT. Milwaukee’s Renaissance Bookshop (best known for having the world’s first used-book store in an airport) opened a new branch in suburban Southridge Mall at 6 a.m. on Black Friday. The manager is 23-year-old second-generation fan/bookseller Kelly J.A. Lowrey, child of “Orange Mike” Lowrey and C.Kay “Cicatrice” Hinchliffe. The present staffing at the Southridge store is “heavily fannish”, reports proud papa Mike, and looks likely to remain so.

(10) HIS DAY JOB. Paul Di Filippo excerpted “Philip F. Nowlan’s Early Journalism” in a post at TheInferior4.

Philip F. Nowlan, the fellow who created Buck Rogers, worked as a journalist prior to that milestone. By accident, I stumbled on a column he used to write, three samples of which are here…

(11) DILLON SOLO. Aficianados remember Leo & Diane Dillon’s many collaborative sff book covers. But I haven’t seen much solo work. Now there’s a gallery of Leo Dillon’s solo art at the Flying Cars and Food Pills blog. Andrew Porter sent the link together with his photo of Leo (Diane visible over his left shoulder) from the opening of a show at their son’s Fusion Designs Gallery, a now-closed gallery in Brooklyn.

Leo Dillon. Photo © Andrew Porter

(12) PRINCESS CASTING. The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna interviews Pamela Ribon, a writer of Ralph Breaks the Internet, about a scene where Vannellope Van Schweetz is surrounded by nearly a dozen Disney princesses.  She talks about how she developed the scene and how she recruited seven former Disney princesses to recreate their original roles as cameos. “How ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ spoofs the Disney Princess industrial complex”.

That conversation carried over to the early story stages of the “Ralph” sequel. “I thought: ‘Gosh, why isn’t Vanellope canon?’ “ Ribon says. “To me, she’s my kind of princess — in a hoodie.”

“At first we were joking about Vanellope photobombing the [seven] dwarfs,” Ribon says. That brainstorming evolved into having Vanellope — who goes AWOL from her Sugar Rush game — come upon the Oh My Disney area of the Internet.

“What if they’re trying to determine whether or not she’s canon — whatever that thing [is] that they decide at Disneyland that allows some of them to get their coronation,” Ribon says of having the princesses grill Vanellope on her potentially royal résumé. “And so I took it from there.”

But while executing her idea, Ribon says, she began to have a “true panic attack,” so she contacted a friend — a walking Wikipedia of Disney facts — and told her: “I have all these tropes and I just want to make sure I have the right princesses. Which ones were kidnapped? Which ones have daddy issues?

“She was like: ‘What are you doing?’ “

(13) LION KING. In a Washington Post article “‘The Lion King’ remake’s trailer confuses the Internet: Just what is ‘live action’ anymore?”,  Michael Cavna says there is a major controversy over whether Disney’s remake of The Lion King is “live action” when “everything on the screen looks like a painted pixel.” He mentions an article on the Cartoon Brew website called “Don’t Let Disney Gaslight You: The Lion King Remake Is An Animated Film.”

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, Disney released the first trailer for next year’s “Lion King” remake — which trades in the 1994 original’s 2D animation for CGI re-creation — and after more than 224 million views within the first day, the debate was sparked: Just how is this a “live-action” film when everything on the screen looks like a painted pixel?

Some viewers tweeted their confusion over the trailer — perhaps expecting a so-called live-action remake of “The Lion King” to be more in the vein of the costuming in Julie Taymor’s smash Broadway musical.

And the high degree of cinematic similarity prompted some users to post shot-by-shot comparisons of the original and the remake.

(14) IN YOUR COPIOUS SPACETIME. James Davis Nicoll chronicles “Six SF Novels (and One Song) Built Around Space Travel and Time Dilation” at Tor.com.

No hope for men with pretensions of following in Captain Kirk’s footsteps in Joan D. Vinge’s 1974 novella Tin Soldier (originally collected in Orbit 14, later reprinted in Eyes of Amber). Starflight is the exclusive domain of women; men, physiologically incapable of serving as waking crew, are consigned to the status of hibernating cargo. The story follows an intermittent romance between two people: a woman whose career as crew leaves her skipping across decades and her immortal cyborg bartender friend, who is making his way through time the slow way.

(15) VIRGIN GALACTIC ON THE CUSP. Christian Davenport’s Washington Post article “Virgin Galactic’s quest for space” has an article about Virgin Galactic and Sir Richard Branson’s plans for space exploration.  He believes that the company has nearly recovered from the death of test pilot Michael Alsbury in 2014 and that SpaceShipTwo should offer tourist flights very shortly.

Today, four years later, the company says it is once again at that moment. Branson, chastened by the crash and the ensuing federal investigation, recently said that the company is “more than tantalizingly close” and that “we should be in space within weeks, not months.”

Virgin Galactic’s next flight of SpaceShipTwo, its winged and sporty space plane, is scheduled for launch in the coming weeks and could, after years of trying, give Branson his long elusive conquest of blasting through the atmosphere. It would mark a historic milestone for Virgin and Branson, a master of marketing and hype who for years has become an evangelist for space exploration.

[Thanks to Olav Rokne, Steve Green, Joey Eschrich, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, rcade, Orange Mike Lowrey, Carl Slaughter, StephenfromOttawa, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]

Pixel Scroll 2/2/18 Pixel Squared Plus Scroll Squared Equals File770 Squared

(1) THAT LITTLE VOICE. Publishers Weekly’s Antonia Saxon does a “Q & A with Diane Dillon” about her new children’s book. Diane and the late Leo Dillon had a long history as sff cover artists.

How hard was it to tackle the project on your own?

That was one of the fears in doing this book. Even if we had done something separately, we always signed everything Leo and Diane. Now Leo is gone and that little voice in my head says, “What if they say this is not up to our standard?” It was hard getting started. I kept thinking, “I’m going to be judged separately now.” It was uncomfortable.

So you have a little voice, too. What does it say?

The voice just says the same things over and over. But you don’t have to listen to it! The story is autobigraphical, that’s for sure.

Having Leo to bounce something off of, an extra pair of eyes to see something, that worked very well. A lot of people asked, “How can you work with someone else? Don’t you think, ‘This is your work, this is his work?’ ” But early on we realized we needed to join forces. We said, “We are one artist. We do something that neither one of us can do individually.”

It sounds as if you took your own doubts and made them into a book.

Yeah! I think it’s important that children know that that little voice can be stilled if you ask it questions. They can have courage to be anything they want to be. When I started this, it was before the Women’s March, and this new awareness of women’s self-image and strength, and the #MeToo movement—it was serendipitous that it’s come out at this time. I hope it has a long life.

(2) “WAITING TO WORSHIP A RAT.” February 2 — “Groundhog Day 2018: Punxsutawney Phil predicts 6 more weeks of winter”.

They reported that Phil communicated in “groundhogese” that he had cast a shadow.  According to legend, that means the weather will be wintry for the next six weeks.

That’s his typical prediction: It has happened more than 100 other times in the 132-year history of the tradition.

Even so, there’s some good news: Phil is usually wrong.

…Since 1887, the groundhog has seen his shadow 103 times, to forecast a longer winter, and not seen it 18 times, to predict an early spring. (There is no record of the prediction for 10 times in the late 19th century.)

(3) BASKERVILLE. Europa SF reports the winner of the 2017 Guillermo de Baskerville Award in the anthology category is Dark Fantasies, edited by Mariano Villarreal.

The award is named for the protagonist in Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, and is given for the best indie books of the year that has been reviewed on the Spanish-language Libros Prohibidos (Prohibited Books) website. (The other categories were won by non-genre works.)

A jury composed of the writer, bookseller and blogger, David Pierre, the writers Sonia Rico, Javier Font and Diego Marcapáginas chose Dark Fantasies., from Sportula, a Spanish science-fiction and fantasy publishing house.

(4) IT’LL HOLD YOU TO YOUR DEADLINE. I haven’t seen one of these before! “1938 Underwood 14″ Tentacle Typewriter”:

(5) CASE IN POINT. The Traveler from Galactic Journey tells us what he thinks about the opening episodes of The Twilight Zone’s fourth season: “[February 2, 1963] Whither the Prodigal Son?  (Twilight Zone, Season 4, Episodes 1-4)”.

In His Image, by Charles Beaumont

A young man is plagued by blackouts and half-memories of murder.  When he takes his fiancee (who has known for all of four days) back to his home town that he left just a week before, he finds twenty years appear to have elapsed — and his family has no trace of existence at all.  Who is this man?  Where did he come from?  And what is the cause of his manic episodes?

George Grizzard gives a fine turn as the afflicted protagonist in a story that has more than one reveal.  While the pacing is a little slow, the course of the characters and the nuanced storytelling keeps it going for the expanded length of the show.  Four stars.

(6) YOU, TOO, CAN VISIT 1963. Some sort of time dialation will allow San Diego’s Mysterious Galaxy bookstore to host “Galactic Journey: Interview with a Time Traveler (1963 edition)” on February 17 at 2 p.m. (Full details at the link.)

Blast back to February 1963, three years before the Five Year Mission, nine months before the blue Police Box, when the Fantastic Four were on issue eleven — that “Mad Men” time that set the stage for everything that came after.

Hugo Nominee-Runner up and Serling Award-winning Galactic Journey, portal to 55 years ago, presents a window on sci-fi and the Space Race, comics and pop culture, in that fascinating, tumultuous era of change. Visit galacticjourney.org to see what we’re all about — we are a time-shifted blog living the fan’s life, 55 years in the past, day-by-day. This panel is the blog’s road show: always new, always different. Completely free of charge.

…Come to Mysterious Galaxy for a most unique engagement: a question-driven panel presented by a host of entertaining time travelers. YOU, the audience, determine the course of the event as they take you on a literary tour of the early 60s. Prizes will be given out for the best questions: See if YOU can stump the Traveler team!

…So don your skinny tie and/or cocktail dress, strap your slide-rule to your belt, and come see the event that has electrified congoers across the Western United States!

(7) STAN LEE IN, OUT OF HOSPITAL. The comics icon intends to be at a con in St. Louis this weekend: “STAN LEE Released From Hospital Early, Plans To Keep Weekend Convention Plans”.

Stan Lee has been released from the hospital following an overnight stay, and the 95-year-old writer plans on making his weekend convention plans. In an interview with Los Angeles’ KABC, Lee said was “feeling good” and appreciated the public outpouring of concern.

“All I really want to do is tell you that I’m feeling great,” Lee said. “I figured a little check-up wouldn’t be bad for me. And in fact it turned out to be pretty good, it got me a lot of publicity. I’m feeling good now and I can’t wait to get in there and tangle with all the competition.”

Lee was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday evening after experiencing shortness of breath and an irregular heartbeat. At that time, a spokesperson for Lee said the writer would remain hospitalized “for a few days for some check-ups as a safety precaution.”

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian finds puberty hit this monster hard, in Bliss.
  • John also passed on a horrible horror pun in Brevity.

(9) NOW IT CAN BE DONE. BYU only just announced this–the Princess Leia Projector. Ultra-kewl!

(10) SO LET’S CELEBRATE. New from Palette-Swap Ninja: “Leia Organa,” their latest Star Wars/Beatles parody.

(11) PURE TOMATOES. The Hollywood Reporter’s Pamela McClintock in “Rotten Tomatoes Denounces Group Taking Aim at Black Panther Audience Score”, says that Rotten Tomatoes has denounced a Facebook group called “Down With Disney’s Treatment of Franchises And Their Fanboys,” which says that it is going to flood Rotten Tomatoes with bad reviews of Black Panther as retaliation for what it claims is a Disney attempt to push bad reviews of DC franchises.

Not long after Rotten Tomatoes issued its statement, the group’s Facebook page was no longer available and appeared to have been deactivated. Facebook could not immediately be reached for comment. After the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in summer 2017, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg vowed to curb hate speech on his social media platform.

(12) LIDAR DISCOVERIES. A new application of technology is revolutionizing Mayan archeology: “Sprawling Maya network discovered under Guatemala jungle”.

Researchers have found more than 60,000 hidden Maya ruins in Guatemala in a major archaeological breakthrough.

Laser technology was used to survey digitally beneath the forest canopy, revealing houses, palaces, elevated highways, and defensive fortifications.

The landscape, near already-known Maya cities, is thought to have been home to millions more people than other research had previously suggested.

The researchers mapped over 810 square miles (2,100 sq km) in northern Peten.

Archaeologists believe the cutting-edge technology will change the way the world will see the Maya civilisation.

(13) ARCHEOLOGICAL FINDS TAKEN. The Guardian reports: “Thieves steal hundreds of priceless artefacts from Canterbury charity”.

Priceless artefacts including 850 Anglo-Saxon beads have been stolen from an archaeological charity in Canterbury during a series of break-ins.

Thieves broke into the store of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, which undertakes excavations and research and educates the public about archaeology, twice last week and once over the weekend.

As well as the beads, large quantities of coins and metal artefacts, and an assortment of bone objects have been stolen.

The charity has put on an appeal asking the public to look out for the historical items being offered for sale.

A very large photo gallery of missing items has been posted by the group on Facebook.

(14) HONOR TO THOMAS. SF Site News reports Lynne M. Thomas will be named to a University of Illinois endowed professorship.

Hugo Award winner Lynne M. Thomas will be named Juanita J. and Robert E. Simpson Rare Book & Manuscript Professor on April 6 at the University of Illinois…. Thomas is also one of the co-editors and publishers of Uncanny.

(15) REWRITING HISTORY. Another thing everybody knows that’s wrong — ” What’s The Real Story About The Milkmaid And The Smallpox Vaccine?”

The Trend: Inoculate Yourself

To understand what really happened, Boylston, whose research interest is the history of smallpox inoculation, explored letters, medical notes and research papers, going back to about 1720. He has self-published a book about it, Defying Providence: Smallpox and the Forgotten 18th Century Medical Revolution. At that time, he says, doctors were attempting to prevent smallpox through a process called variolation, in which oozing matter was taken directly from the smallpox sores of sick people and scratched onto the skin of healthy people “There are records of women inoculating their own children with smallpox,” says Boylston. “People got a mild case of smallpox, but then they were immune.”

They were immune, that is, if they survived. Using actual smallpox virus to induce the disease in healthy people was risky. If people naturally caught smallpox during an epidemic, the chance of dying from the disease was 1 in 5 or 6. When they got smallpox after being inoculated, they generally developed a mild form of the disease, and the risk of dying dropped to about 1 in 50, Boylston says. Whether they got the disease naturally or from deliberate inoculation with the smallpox virus, survivors were immune for the rest of their lives. Historical records show that many people were willing to take the risk by exposing themselves — even their children — to smallpox.

But then Jenner showed that people could become immune to smallpox by being vaccinated with cowpox. It was safer because cowpox rarely kills.

But was the milkmaid really Jenner’s muse? Boylston thinks not.

(16) LOVE IT TO DEATH. NPR’s Mark Jenkins has mixed feelings about Before We Vanish: “Before The Invasion, A Crash Course In Sensitivity Training: ‘Before We Vanish'”.

What is love?

That query proves even more complicated than usual in Before We Vanish, Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s engaging if messy, and overstuffed, 20th feature. It’s a riff on Invasion of the Body Snatchers that meanders from action to satire to romantic affirmation.

The man who poses the question is Shinji (Ryuhei Matsuda) — or, rather, the alien who just seized control of Shinji’s form. This new but physically unchanged man is suddenly clinical, inquisitive, and physically wobbly, so his bewildered wife takes him to a doctor. Narumi (Masami Nagasawa) doesn’t especially want her old husband back. Their marriage has rotted, and as Shinji learns more about being human, Narumi begins to like the new model more than the previous one.

Shinji is one of three advance scouts for the extraterrestrials’ conquest of mankind, a “run-of-the-mill species.” Introduced first is Akira (Yuri Tsunematsu), the most violent of the contingent. After an initial miscalculation, Akira grabs the body of schoolgirl and commits a brutal crime. This opening sequence, which invokes Kurosawa’s past as a horror-flick director, is a gory bit of misdirection.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Dave Doering, JJ, Robin Reid, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Will R., ULTRAGOTHA, Francis Hamit, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, and Carl Slaughter. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]

Hertz: Two Chicon Exhibits

Leo & Diane Dillon Exhibit

Chicon 7 exhibit about Leo and Diane Dillon. Photos by Richard Lynch.

By John Hertz: In May when Leo Dillon died I felt that Chicon VII (officially “Chicon 7” for the Mercury 7 astronauts) really ought to have an exhibit honoring the Dillons’ work, two of our finest illustrators over fifty years.  I found nobody else was yet planning one.  I got valuable advice from Vincent Di Fate and Jane Frank.

Mark Olson had the swell idea of displaying books the Dillons had done.  Alice Massoglia rounded up two dozen decent-quality reading copies – not collectors’ copies, I wanted to let people pick them up and look through them.  A good handful of Harlan Ellison books, issues of Fantasy & Science Fiction with Dillon covers, the Byron Preiss collection, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea with their cover and interiors, Ashanti to Zulu which won one of their Caldecotts (and reminded me of my Nigerian drum teacher), Pish, Posh, Said Hieronymous Bosch which they did with their son Lee, the hundredth-anniversary Wizard of Oz, some Lafferty, The Snow Queen, and a host of others reached me in Los Angeles, were sent on to Chicago, and arrived safely.

Elizabeth Klein-Lebbink resplendently with her electronic powers made three banners, one for the top with “Art of Leo and Diane Dillon” and a color photo, one mounted under that and one mounted on the front of the display table with images of every shape and size, some we had physical examples of and James Baldwin, Martin Luther King, Shakespeare, Mark Twain.

Richard Lynch took photos so you can see how it looked.  This involved his climbing onto a chair on top of a table muttering “This is stupid, this is stupid” while Nicki across the Exhibit Hall wondered.

Richard also helped me put up the Rotsler Award exhibit and photographed that for you.  My guide through various spacetime problems with it was Randy Smith, as ever a big help.  All three judges, Claire Brialey, Mike Glyer, and I, were at the con, but no more than two of us ever managed to be in the same place.  If we all had, that might have popped Dave McCarty into the 14th Chorp Dimension.

Which reminds me, Dave, what happened to the Jay’s potato chips?

Dillon exhibit.

Dillon exhibit table display.

Rotsler Award exhibit at Chicon 7.

John Hertz.

Signature Art

Marilyn Dahl at Shelf Awareness reminisces about Leo and Diane Dillon’s Ace Specials book covers:

I began with Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness–I was not a science fiction fan, but I couldn’t resist the cover. And then Keith Roberts’s masterwork Pavane (just reissued by Old Earth Books with the same cover), Harlan Ellison, Joan Vinge, Roger Zelazny–drawn in by the Dillons’ art, I explored science fiction. I also embarked on collecting picture books, with the Dillons making up a major percentage or my purchases.

Dahl’s passing reference to Old Earth Books is quite enough reason to mention this post, don’t you agree, Michael Walsh?

The Dillons in 1977

The Dillons created a round-robin family biography for the August 1977 issue of The Horn Book, with Leo and Diane Dillon writing about each other and Lee Dillon, then 12 years old, writing about his parents.

From Diane Dillion by Leo Dillon:

Once, after we were married, we were working on a piece and she mentioned very casually that we should do the color in pink and orange. “If we do it in pink and orange,” I said, “that will be the end! I can’t live with someone who’d do anything in pink and orange. We’ll have to get a divorce!” We did it in pink and orange, of course, and a couple of years later everywhere I turned I was seeing things in pink and orange. It’s a common combination now.

From Leo Dillon by Diane Dillon:

I do know, though, that our real feeling about aiming for perfection began with Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears. Suddenly it seemed that neither of us could tolerate even a tiny flaw, a minute speck on the black night sky, and we strove for artistic perfection on that book more than on any other except Ashanti to Zulu (both Dial). In a way, when Mosquitoes won the Caldecott Medal, it was as much a reward for us as an award. We had worked harder to achieve perfection—although, of course, we didn’t achieve it—than we ever had before, and people somehow knew it.

From Leo and Diane Dillon by Lee Dillon:

What I don’t like is that they’re always working. Since they won the Caldecott Medal the first time, things have been lots happier around here, but there’s been a lot more work too, and I don’t like that so much. They’re really nice people, my parents, and I’d like to have more time with them when they’re not working.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Keller: Leo Dillon, Dead at 79

Leo Dillon

By Ken Keller: As Steven H Silver reported:

 Born in 1933, he died on May 26, 2012. Dillon was an artist who collaborated throughout his career with his wife, Diane Dillon, and they shared a Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist in 1970, among many others.

I had the privilege of working with the artist team of Leo Dillon and his wife Diane back in the mid-’80s. This was in producing a pair of fine limited edition art prints of their beautiful hardcover dust jacket paintings for Joan Vinge’s Hugo-winning novel The Snow Queen and Harlan Ellison’s short fiction collection Deathbird Stories. These prints were signed and limited to just 300 for each painting; they were published by my company Ground Zero Graphics, so named after the Dillon’s fine establishment, Ground Zero, their one-time Brooklyn coffee house.

In fact Leo and Diane were, for a period in the ’60s and ’70s, strongly associated with Harlan by their cover art on most of his books; they produced many beautiful, distinctive covers for his and other writer’s books in this same period.

In addition to their Hugo Award and World Fantasy Award (for Life Achievement), the Dillon’s were multiple winners of the prestigious Caldecott Award and a huge number of other important awards for their original, unique art. They worked in every medium and style you can imagine, always as an artist team, their finished artwork a perfect, seamless blend of their different styles and singular talents.

My own association with them in the mid-’80s was friendly and very cordial; we enjoyed swapping fond tales about our mutual friend Harlan Ellison and discussing the details of their lives in and out of the fantasy and science fiction genre.

I’m so sorry Leo has been forced by lung cancer to break his long marriage and artistic partnership of more than a half-century to Diane. What a loss for her, for their family, and to the world of art.

The beautiful work they created together, as a distinctive artistic team, continues to live on in hundreds of fine books and art prints published, fondly held and remembered by many thousands of their admirers.

Myself included.

Cover, "The Snow Queen"

Cover, "Deathbird Stories"

Leo Dillon Passes Away

Leo and Diane Dillon. Photo by Andrew Porter.

Renowned artist Leo Dillon died May 26, reportedly suffering from a tumor on a collapsed lung. Dillon was 79. He is survived by his wife and collaborator, Diane.

Leo and Diane Dillon painted innumerable covers for sf and fantasy books, drew and even occasionally wrote children’s books.

They won the Best Professional Artist Hugo in 1971 and their work was celebrated in a memorable exhibit at L.A.Con I (1972). 

Among many tributes paid to them during their careers, the Dillons received two Caldecott Medals (1976, 1977), were named to the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame (1997) and were recognized with a World Fantasy life achievement award (2008).

The Dillons proudly identified themselves as illustrators, and Leo told a Scholastic interviewer, “We love illustrating and I suppose we can say we love everything about it. It’s very difficult; it causes us immense pain (sometimes), but like all things that cause pain if it’s worth doing, the outcome will be very pleasurable.”

Within the science fiction field the Dillons were made famous by their Ace Book covers and their work with Harlan Ellison.

They first met Ellison in 1959 while he was editing Rogue. Their illustrations for Ellison’s Dangerous Visions (1967) led to a meeting with Terry Carr, editor of the Ace Specials, who recruited them as cover artists.

Leo revealed in an interview for Locus how the two artists’ relationship with Ellison was as much adventure as creative collaboration:

Leo: …Harlan Ellison edited Dangerous Visions – and I don’t know if too many people know about this, but there were not supposed to be illustrations in that book. Harlan, with the power of only Harlan, said ‘I want illustrations.’ And the publisher said, ‘Okay, if you can do it over the weekend, you can have it. We’re going to press on Monday, and if you don’t have any drawings, that’s it.’ They thought they had him. [laughs]. So Harlan called us and said, ‘There’s this impossible task. I want each story illustrated. We’ve only got two days to do it.’ That’s Harlan. We had gone down some very odd roads with him already. [laughs] So we said, ‘Well, yeah, we can try. Come on over.”’

So Ellison came over — bringing Terry and Carol Carr with him, and that introduction led to their work with Ace Books.

The Dillons’ association with Ellison continued for over 50 years. Their latest creations included the artwork for his Nebula-winning short story “How Interesting: A Tiny Man” (Realms of Fantasy, February 2010).

Leo and Diane Dillon's art for Ellison's "How Interesting, A Tiny Man."

New Dillon Exhibit

Dillon Exhibit 

The exhibit of Visions and Dimensions Selected works of Fantasy & Science Fiction by Leo and Diane Dillon will open with a cocktail reception on May 28 from 6 – 8 P.M at Fusion Designs Gallery. Visitors will have a chance to meet the artists and view their work.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]