Pixel Scroll 11/8/18 Octokittens

(1) DUMBLEDORE. Another Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald  featurette, “Distinctly Dumbledore,” released this week. The movie arrives in theaters November 16.

At the end of the first film, the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) was captured by MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), with the help of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne). But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escaped custody and has set about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings. In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world.

 

(2) WHAT’S UP, WHITE WOLF? Joseph D. Carriker identifies a big problem with the next Camarilla book for Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition in a public post on Facebook.

So, filing this under “Second Verse Same As The First”: the excerpt below is from the upcoming Camarilla book for Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition.

In it, it describes a vampire-dominated Chechnya. Even setting aside the gross implications of that design decision – and there are plenty of them – it also turns the internment of queer people into literal death camps into what amounts to a distraction.

This text literally refers to the “controversy” (which is such a weighted word in this context, quite frankly, carrying with it connotations of mountains being made of mole-hills) over queer internment and murder as “clever media manipulation.” This text literally turns the ending of queer lives into a throw-away feint that hides vampires. Which is a monstrous reframing of that real-world thing STILL GOING ON.

This is egregiously vile. It’s not okay. Our lives are constantly being *ended* for straight peoples’ prejudices in real life, but also in fiction and media for straight peoples’ fucking entertainment, and all of this is just “second verse same as the first.”

…This is not a good fucking look, White Wolf. Not in the least.

(3) PRO TIP. How to avoid crossouts while autographing books:

(4) ABEBOOKS BACKS DOWN. An Amazon subsidiary has yielded to an international protest by booksellers and abandoned its plans to stop allowing rare and used booksellers in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia and South Korea to sell books on AbeBooks. The New York Times article “After Protest, Booksellers Are Victorious Against Amazon Subsidiary” says the “Banned Booksellers Week” protest involved nearly 600 booksellers around the world who stopped selling nearly 3.8 million titles via AbeBooks.

A worldwide strike by antiquarian booksellers against an Amazon subsidiary proved successful after two days, with the retailer apologizing and saying it would cancel the actions that prompted the protest.

It was a rare concerted uprising against any part of Amazon by any of its millions of suppliers, leading to an even rarer capitulation. Even the book dealers said they were surprised at the sudden reversal by AbeBooks, the company’s secondhand and rare bookselling network.

The uprising, which involved nearly 600 booksellers in 27 countries removing about four million books, was set off by the retailer’s decision to cut off stores in five countries: the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, South Korea and Russia. AbeBooks never explained its actions beyond saying it was related to payment processing.

“AbeBooks was saying entire countries were expendable to its plans,” said Scott Brown, a Eureka, Calif., bookseller who was an organizer of the strike. “Booksellers everywhere felt they might be next.”

… “I don’t think anything like this has ever happened before with any part of Amazon,” said Juozas Kaziukenas, chief executive of Marketplace Pulse, an e-commerce analytics firm. “It would be much harder to have a strike on Amazon itself, just because there are so many sellers there and they are not part of an organized community.”

(5) KATHERINE KURTZ JOINS WOTF PANEL. Broadway World reports “Internationally Acclaimed Author, Katherine Kurtz, Named as Judge for Writers of the Future”.

Historical fantasy author of the Deryni series, Katherine Kurtz, is the newest judge to join the ranks of the internationally-acclaimed L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest, now in its 35th year.

Kurtz is now amongst a blue-ribbon panel of 23 judges, including Brandon Sanderson, Orson Scott Card, Nnedi Okorafor, Tim Powers, Jody Lynn Nye, and Robert Silverberg….

(6) REMEMBER THE CRATONS. Fragments of ancient continents, known as cratons, have been isolated as parts of Antarctica using data from a European satellite (Newsweek: “Lost Continents Hidden Deep Beneath Antarctica Ice Sheet Discovered From Space”). Cratons—both in Antarctica and as parts of other continents—comprise the oldest surviving parts of Earth’s lithosphere. The satellite data was from a mission that ended in 2013.

Scientists have discovered the remnants of ancient lost continents hidden deep beneath Antarctica’s ice. Using the European Space Agency’s gravity mapping satellite, researchers were able to peer beneath the ice to map out the terrain below.

The findings, published in Scientific Reports, reveal a long-lost landscape littered with cratons—large, stable blocks of the Earth’s crust that are remnants of ancient continents. They are part of the lithosphere—which consists of the crust and upper mantle—and are generally found in the center of modern continental plates. Studying these features allow researchers to understand the history of the Earth—and its future.
The ESA’s Gravity Field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) satellite was launched in 2009 to measure the pull of Earth’s gravity. However, during its last year of operation, it was flown at an altitude of just 158 miles—meaning it could take extremely accurate measurements of localized gravity gradients. Using this data, the team was able to build up a patchwork 3D image of the lithosphere beneath Antarctica—including the cratons.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born November 8, 1847 – Abraham “Bram” Stoker. You know that he’s author of Dracula, but did you know he wrote other fiction such as The Lady of the Shroud and The Lair of the White Worm? The short story collection Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories was published in 1914 by Stoker’s widow, Florence Stoker. (Died 1912.)
  • Born November 8, 1906 – Matt Fox. I’m here to praise an illustrator of one of those magazines that published the stories of such writers as Robert Bloch, Manly Wade Wellman and Ray Bradbury. The covers by Fox were of course intended to lure you to magazine rack, pick up the magazine and purchase it. Such was what he did for Weird Tales from 1943 to 1951. After that, during the fifties and sixties he worked for Atlas Comics, inking and penciling Journey into Mystery, World of Fantasy, Tales of Suspense and Journey into Unknown Worlds. It is thought that his last known published work is an advertisement, printed in 1967, for original mail-order glow-in-the-dark posters. (Died 1988.)
  • Born November 8, 1932 – Ben Bova. He’s written more than 120 books. While at Analog, he won six Hugo awards as Best Professional Editor, and he was once editorial director at Omni. Hell, he even had the thankless job of SFWA President. (Just kidding. I think.) I couldn’t hope to summarize his literary history, so I’ll single out his Grand Tour series that, though uneven, is overall splendid hard sf, as well as his Best of Bova short story collections put out recently in three volumes. Like R.A. Lafferty, I know each of you has favorites by him.
  • Born November 8, 1952 – Alfre Woodard. Her most memorable genre role is as Lily Sloane in Star Trek: First Contact in which she assisted Zefram Cochrane in building the Phoenix. Other genre roles are Captain America: Civil War,  A Series of Unfortunate EventsLuke Cage, The Last Ship, True Blood, The animated Black Panther, and  K-PAX.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) TEXAS LEGISLATOR OF GENRE INTEREST. Here’s an election news item you may have missed — Luke Plunkett, in Dragon Ball Z Composer Elected To Texas State Senate” on Kotaku says that Nathan Johnson, a lawyer who has composed a lot of Dragon Ball Z music, was elected to the Texas state senate from the 16th district as a Democrat.

Johnson, a Democrat, won 54% of the vote to beat out the incumbent, Republican Don Huffines. It’s not like he just suddenly jumped into office from composing—he’s a lawyer by trade…

(10) WELCOME HOME. Been a long time since I was overseas, however, I remember the importance of gifts that are easy to pack…

(11) A SPLIT-LEVEL HEAD. James Davis Nicoll, who barely has room enough for his own thoughts, tells why he’s horrified by the idea – “Get Out of My Head: SFF Stories About Sharing Brain-Space With Somebody Else” at Tor.com.

I have a modest dream. I hope one day to live in an isolated skull-shaped mountain guarded by carnivorous birds. My lair would be surrounded by a fearsome fence, adorned with the heads of uninvited guests. I like my privacy. It should not surprise anyone, then, that I would emphatically NOT like to have a second person sharing my head.

Mental timeshares are a rich source of plot for science fiction and fantasy authors. I was reminded of this trope when I was reading, or re-reading, a few novellas in Lois McMaster Bujold’s Penric series.

(12) STAND ASIDE, CHAUVET. “Indonesian Cave Hold Oldest Figurative Painting Ever Found, Scientists Say” — new uranium-thorium dating tech shows paintings are 40,000 years old, vs Chauvet’s 32,000 and Lascaux’s mere 17,000.

It depicts … a cow. Despite the humble subject matter, the painting is extraordinary because it’s at least 40,000 years old. That makes it thousands of years older than the oldest such paintings in Europe.

The Indonesia painting is one of thousands of drawings and stencils in a warren of limestone caves tucked into remote mountains at the far eastern edge of the island of Borneo, a part of Indonesia called Kalimantan. Archaeologists went there in the 1990s looking for cave art.

The BBC reports uncertainty from some reviewers:

The prehistoric cave paintings of Lascaux and Chauvet in France, and Altamira in Spain, are similarly magnificent. They contain images of a veritable prehistoric menagerie, including cave lions, hyenas, horses, deer, rhinos and bison.

But a paper published earlier this year in the journal Science pushed the dates for cave art in Europe back to as much as 65,000 years. These paintings pre-date the known arrival of modern humans in Europe, leading to the study’s suggestion that they might have been made by Neanderthals.

One of the authors of that paper in Science was Prof Alistair Pike, an archaeologist from the University of Southampton. Prof Pike – who was not involved with the new research – welcomed the findings, but expressed reservations about the date for the oldest figurative painting.

(13) NEW FOSSIL SITE. NPR is there to see the bones — “Scientists Unveil Ancient Sea Monsters Found In Angola”.

When the South Atlantic Ocean was young, sea monsters ruled it.

Some of their bones have turned up along the coast of West Africa and are going on exhibit Friday at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. They tell a story of the bloody birth of an ocean.

The fossils of giant swimming reptiles called mosasaurs have been found in the rocky cliffs of Angola, overlooking the Atlantic. It’s not a country known for fossils. Few scientists have looked there — half a century of civil war made it too dangerous. But geologically, Angola is special.

(14) DOWNSIZING. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The Verge talks  bout how “SpaceX’s helipad-equipped boat will bring astronauts safely home”. I mean, Apollo used a frikin’ aircraft carrier plus many other ships for recovery. Now SpaceX will use the GO Searcher, which looks more like the captain’s gig for an aircraft carrier—though it does have a brand new helipad grafted above the main deck.

Go Searcher is part of a fleet of ocean vessels that SpaceX has acquired over the years to aid in its spaceflight efforts. The most famous of these are SpaceX’s autonomous drone ships, which are used as landing pads when the company’s Falcon 9 rockets are recovered in the ocean after launches. Go Searcher used to accompany these drone ships when they were tugged back to shore as a support vessel. But at the end of summer, SpaceX gave Go Searcher a suite of upgrades — including the addition of a helipad and a radar dome — to make sure the boat can swiftly recover Dragon capsules that carry astronauts back to Earth.

As part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, SpaceX has been developing the Crew Dragon capsule to take astronauts to the ISS. And the company is also responsible for getting these crews safely back to Earth. When astronauts need to return home, the plan is for the Crew Dragon to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. During an ideal mission, Go Searcher will lift the Crew Dragon out of the water with a crane, attached to the end of the boat, according to NASA. The capsule will then be hauled onto the deck of Go Searcher, and the astronauts will be evaluated by doctors from SpaceX and NASA.

(15) BOOK TRAILER. Does A Town Divided by Christmas mark the beginning of a “War on Christmas” series by Orson Scott Card?

It began with a quarrel over which newborn should be the baby Jesus in the town’s Christmas pageant. Decades later, two scientists arrive to study small-town genetic patterns, only to run up against the invisible walls that split the leading citizens into two congregations that can only be joined by love and forgiveness. And maybe a little deception, because there might be some things that people just don’t need to know.

 

(16) REACH OUT AND TOUCH E.T. One grad student – completely disregarding warnings by everyone from Stephen Hawking to Cixin Liu — would like to use a laser beam to send a “Here We Are” signal to aliens (Popular Mechanics: “Firing a Giant Laser Into Space Could Help Find Aliens, MIT Scientist Says”). There’s no word if the laser would be attached to a shark.

If scientists wanted aliens to find Earth, how would they arrange such an encounter? A new paper from MIT suggests that a giant laser, magnified by a giant telescope and aimed out into space, could do the trick.

In what author James Clark calls a “feasibility study,” he proposes that a high-powered 1-to 2-megawatt laser be focused directly into space. While the Earth has been sending signals like radio waves into space for over a century, like those famously seen in the opening of Contact, it’s possible that solar entities like the sun and exoplanets beyond the solar system have been interfering with signals, making it harder for potential aliens to touch base.

The goal of the laser-telescope rig is the creation of an energy beam, meant to stand out amid all of the excess noise in the solar system. Its target would be areas like Proxima Centauri, the closest star to Earth, and TRAPPIST-1, a star around 40 light-years away with seven exoplanets in orbit. Scientists say 3 of those exoplanets are potentially habitable.

“If we were to successfully close a handshake and start to communicate, we could flash a message, at a data rate of about a few hundred bits per second, which would get there in just a few years,” says Clark, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, in a press statement.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “The 3-Second Dumpling” on YouTube explains how you can cook dumplings in three seconds if you happen to have a cannon and a flamethrower! (I may have linked to this one before – but let’s do it again!)

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

Pixel Scroll 10/26/18 Eight Scrolls A File

(1) CRYSTAL HUFF AND ARISIA NEWS DEVELOPMENTS. During the day, Noel Rosenberg resigned as Operations Division Head and President of Arisia Inc. on the Arisia Corporate Members mailing list, per a report by Kris Snyder on Facebook.

Huff’s initial public response was:

Arisia continues to hear from program participants, for example, this group — “Public Statement Re: Arisia Convention Performances”.

We at the Post-Meridian Radio Players are committed to supporting Crystal Huff following her bringing to light the deeply upsetting actions taken by Arisia leadership to shield and promote her assailant.

As a performance group, we have long appreciated our working relationship with the Arisia convention. That relationship ends immediately, unless the called-for changes in leadership take place.

Sonya Taaffe offered a historical perspective on “Safety concerns at Arisia”

…As a member of the Readercon convention committee in 2012, I had a ringside seat when the similar failure of a convention to abide by its own stated policies led to the creation of its safety committee, the total overhaul of its code of conduct as well as incident report protocols, and the resignation of all members of the Readercon board. All steps including public statements of apology and accountability were necessary to restore the trust of a membership built over decades and burned in hours. I do not joke when I say it was a near-death experience for the convention. We still work to make its reputation inclusive, responsive, and safe, as opposed to tarnished by double standards and more tolerance for perpetrators than victims.

It is my sincere hope that the executive board of Arisia can heed the lesson of Readercon in choosing from this moment forward which kind of convention it wishes to be.

This is a more explicit version of the statement Nalo Hopkinson tweeted yesterday.

Kris Snyder, who works on Arisa and chaired the con in 2016, says “I believe Crystal that Noel violated her consent,” but sees a number of other things differently than Huff described them.

…I have received training for working with people who have been subjected to trauma and sexual violence. I have an extensive abuse and trauma history myself. I understand that it can take years to fully process a traumatic event like sexual assault or rape. I support Crystal’s right as a victim to evolve her understanding of what took place, and to make decisions later about how to handle the situation that are different than the ones she initially made.

I take issue with her characterization of how members of Arisia handled the situation. I do not like that she now demonizes people for actions (or lack thereof) that she specifically requested of them.

I don’t doubt that there were some people in leadership positions within the community that downplayed or dismissed the situation. That was not OK. I was not one of them. In 2012, when Crystal started enforcing boundaries with Noel, she sent several of us an email complaining about his actions but addressed it “To you guys as my friends and not as people in charge of things.” Once Arisia officially instated a disciplinary process in the spring and summer of 2013, Crystal was approached to make a report about Noel’s behavior. She declined, as was and is her right to do. Members of the eboard asked Crystal multiple times between 2013 and 2017 if she wanted to make a report and encouraged her to handle this through process. She said no….

(2) BOOK BURNING. “Iowa man burns LGBTQ children’s books from public library to protest pride festival”The Hill has the story.

An Iowa public library is considering legal options after a man checked out and burned children’s books to protest the city’s Pride festival and story time.

Paul Dorr posted a live video on Facebook on Friday that showed him throwing at least four books with LGBTQ themes into a fire inside a trash can, The Des Moines Register reported on Monday.

Dorr’s video was posted just before the beginning of the second annual OC Pride, a three-day weekend of “love, acceptance and pride” in conservative Sioux County in northwest Iowa.

Libraries here struggle to stock decent, recent books for kids as it is. Hhere’s a call to answer this crime by donating to the library —

(3) IT GOES ROUND. Alastair Reynolds saw “File 777” discussing “Paternoster Elevators” and says he knew about one in a familiar building that had, in fact, claimed a victim —

Years later I reasoned that the story must have been a carefully engineered rumour designed to stop people using the elevator in a way that wasn’t intended, not because of the risk of injury (or death) but because it caused problems with the mechanism, perhaps leading to the elevator shutting down or needing maintenance. I could well imagine that the authorities would “leak” a story like that just to stop students larking around and causing expensive breakdowns.

But (being a grisly sort of fellow) the File777 article prompted me to read up a little bit more paternosters and their history of accidents, and rather shockingly the first such account I read about was indeed one in the Claremont Tower, in 1975:

(4) ROLL THE BONES. Publishers Weekly has learned “‘Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell’ To Become a Board Game”.

Osprey Games will publish Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: A Board Game of English Magic, a game set in the world of Susanna Clarke’s novel, coming in June 2019. Players will take on the role of four principle characters from the novel—Jonathan Strange, Mr. Norrell, Miss Redruth, or John Segundus—and “travel around England and Europe, attending social engagements and performing feats of magic in the hope of becoming the most celebrated magician of the age. On their travels they encounter a host of familiar characters, from the jovial Mr Honeyfoot and beautiful Lady Pole to the extraordinary Stephan Black and the enthusiastic Lord Portishead. All the while they will be building up their magical abilities, as the gentleman with the thistledown hair is weaving his magic in the background and must be stopped for any player to have a chance of claiming victory.” The game was created by designers Marco Maggi and Francesco Nepitello, who have previously brought the worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien, H.P. Lovecraft, and the Marvel Universe to the tabletop. The game is illustrated by Ian O’Toole.

(5) THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE. Clip and keep this handy if you aspire someday to be making the rounds to promote your book: “Notes and Advice From a Book Tour”

  1. Authors: Want to make friends with the bookseller hosting you on the tour? At the end of your presentation, just before the signing part, encourage the people at the event to buy a book from the bookstore (even if it’s not your own book!). Most people at your event have probably gotten a book from the store already (and probably your book, because they want you to sign it), but some haven’t, and some people forget that there’s a high correlation between a bookseller hosting future events, and the bookseller doing well with the current events. So remind people to buy books from the bookstore at your event, and to support them the rest of the time as well.

(6) SABRINA REVIEW. The BBC’s Annabel Rackham answers a burning question: “Does Netflix’s Sabrina the Teenage Witch reboot live up to the hype?” She says the show is more feminist, but “more innocent than Riverdale.”

Whilst Sabrina in 90s-sitcom form didn’t realise she had magic powers until her 16th birthday, the new Sabrina is already well aware of her supernatural skills.

That’s not the only difference – the modern Sabrina is as Kelly-Leigh puts it, “woke”. She’s a feminist icon for a new generation of teens and is not afraid to question the archaic rules of the satanic cult she’s a part of.

Also, Sabrina’s cutting rebuttals of everything high priest Father Blackwood (Richard Coyle) says is her way of bringing down the patriarchy, and I for one loved it.

(7) TOP WITCH. Vulture rates “The Best Teen Witches of Pop Culture, From Buffy to Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”.

Queenie, American Horror Story (Class of 2013)

Most Likely to Defect From the Coven: Queenie’s power was so great she thought she might be the Supreme, and she was one of two witches who survived the Seven Wonders, which is a pretty great reward for all the crap she had to deal with during AHS: Coven.

Activities: Witches’ Council; voodoo; practicing the Seven Wonders

Senior Quote: “I grew up on white-girl shit like Charmed and Sabrina the Teenage Cracker. I didn’t even know that there were black witches. As it turns out, I’m an heir to Tituba. She was a house slave in Salem. She was the first to be accused of witchcraft. So, technically, I’m part of your tribe.”

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 26, 1966 — Jerry Lewis’ Way … Way Out had fun with the genre.
  • October 26, 1984 — The Terminator premiered.
  • October 26, 2015 Supergirl premiered on television.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

  • Born October 26, 1934 – Dan McCarthy, the grand old man of New Zealand fandom. He belonged to Aotearapa, New Zealand’s APA, for 25 years, and was its official editor from 1986-1987 and 2001-2003. As a member, he contributed 77 issues of his fanzine Panopticon, for which he did paintings and colour graphics. His skills as a fanartist were widely appreciated: he was a Fan Guest of Honour at the New Zealand national convention, a nominee for the Sir Julius Vogel Award, and he won NZ Science Fiction Fan Awards (the predecessor of the Vogel) Best Fan Artist twice.
  • Born October 26, 1942 – Bob Hoskins, Oscar-nominated Actor from England who is famous for his quirky character roles and is known in genre circles for the Hugo-winning Who Framed Roger Rabbit (for which he received a Saturn nomination) and Super Mario Bros. He played Professor George Challenger in the most recent film version of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, and also appeared in Snow White and The Huntsman, Hook, the Hugo-nominated Brazil, A Christmas Carol, Son of The Mask, and as the voice of The Badger in an animated version of The Wind in The Willows.
  • Born October 26, 1942 – Jane Chance, 66, Teacher, Writer, and Lecturer who specializes in medieval English literature, gender studies, and J. R. R. Tolkien – with a very, very impressive publication list for the latter, for which she has received three Mythopoeic Award nominations, including Tolkien’s Art: A Mythology for England, Tolkien the Medievalist, The Lord of the Rings: The Mythology of Power, and Tolkien, Self and Other: “This Queer Creature”.
  • Born October 26, 1959 – Jennifer Roberson, 59, Writer of of fantasy and historical romances. The Chronicles of the Cheysuli is her fantasy series about shapeshifters and their society, and the Sword-Dancer Saga is a desert-based adventure series of sort, but the series I’ve enjoyed most is her Sherwood duology that consists of Lady of the Forest and Lady of Sherwood, telling that tale from the perspective of Marian. She has been Guest of Honor at more than a dozen conventions, including a Westercon, and a novel she co-authored received a World Fantasy Award nomination. Her hobby, which consumes much of her time, is breeding and showing Cardigan Welsh Corgis.
  • Born October 26, 1959 – François Chau, 59, Actor from Cambodia who is most known to genre fans as Jules-Pierro Mao on the Hugo-winning series The Expanse, but who has also had recurring roles on Lost and Gemini Division, and appeared in episodes of the TV series The Flash, Intruders, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., Time Trax, The Invisible Man, The X-Files, Alias, Medium, and Awake, as well as lending his voice to numerous videogames.
  • Born October 26, 1962 – James Pickens Jr., 56, Actor and Producer who played the FBI’s Deputy Director on 21 episodes of The X-Files; he also appeared in genre films Rocket Man, Sphere, Venom, and Red Dragon, and had guest roles in episodes of The Pretender and Touched by an Angel.
  • Born October 26, 1962 – Cary Elwes, 56, Actor, Director, and Producer from England who is unquestionably most famous for his role as the pirate Westley in The Princess Bride; he alsoplayed astronaut Michael Collins in the miniseries From the Earth to the Moon, voiced historical roles in Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, appeared in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Ella Enchanted, Shadow of the Vampire, Saw, and Saw 3D, had parts in episodes of Stranger Things, The X-Files, The (new) Outer Limits, and Night Visions, and has provided voices in animated features and series including Quest for Camelot, The Adventures of Tintin, Hercules, Batman Beyond, Sofia the First, and Family Guy.
  • Born October 26, 1963 – Keith Topping, 55, Writer from England. It being the month of ghoulies, I’ve got another academic for you. He’s published a number of non-fiction reference works – frequently in collaboration with Martin Day and/or Paul Cornell – for various genre franchises, including The Avengers, The X-Files, Stargate SG-1, Star Trek Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and for horror film fans in general, A Vault of Horror: A Book of 80 Great British Horror Movies from 1956-1974. He’s also written four novels in the Doctor Who universe, and co-authored The DisContinuity Guide.
  • Born October 26, 1971 – Jim Butcher, 47, Writer who was nominated for the Compton Crook Award for the first novel in his Dresden Files urban fantasy series, now up to 15 novels and countless short fiction works, which became immensely popular and was made into a TV series lasting one season. He has also written half a dozen novels in his Codex Alera series and contributed a novel to the Spiderman universe. He has been Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, including an Eastercon (the UK natcon).
  • Born October 26, 1976 – Florence Kasumba, 42, Actor of German Ugandan heritage who has done films in English, German, and Dutch languages. She is best known for her role as Ayo in the Marvel universe movies Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther, and Avengers: Infinity War, but she also had a role in the Hugo-winning Wonder Woman, played the Wicked Witch of the East in the TV series Emerald City, and voices a character in the upcoming live-action remake of The Lion King.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) NO PUMPKIN SPICE HERE. In the Washington Post story, “Halloween cocktails can be lame. These Stephen King and ‘Beetlejuice’ drinks are scary good”, Fritz Hahn says two Washington bars are specializing in Beetlejuice and Stephen King cocktails for Halloween (one is having a Pet Sematary night for animals to spend time with their drinking owners).

The drinks, meanwhile, are playful and delicious, with names that will have “Beetlejuice” fans exchanging knowing looks. (They’ll be available through early November.) My favorite is the Miss Argentina, a twist on the classic Corpse Reviver #2. Blue Curacao gives it a lovely blue color — a nod to the skin of the undead beauty queen-turned-receptionist in Beetlejuice’s Netherworld — while stripes of Peychaud’s bitters are reminiscent of the “little accident” that sent her to the afterlife.

(12) IS SMOKING REQUIRED? Aliya Whiteley, in “Smoking, Science Fiction, and Addiction” on Den of Geek, asks: if you’re writing a hard-boiled sf novel, should your protagonist smoke?”  Looking at John Constantine in the comics, the movie Watchmen, and Tade Thompson’s novel Rosewater, she answers:  “Yes, sometimes.”

For instance, back in the film noirs of the 1940s and 50s it would have been inconceivable for our hero not to smoke. Look at the thick smoke hanging in the light from the projector in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard (1950) or the silhouette of Robert Mitchum, the cigarette smoke rising up and out of the French windows, in Jacques Tourneur’s Out Of the Past (1947) – it was often used as an excuse for intimacy between lovers, the camera closing in on the lips, or to bring movement to a still frame. Great directors used it as a language of its own, and it must be really difficult to decide to not use that language, as a contemporary director, if you’re making a film that deliberately uses noir elements.

(13) WHAT GOES AROUND. Bounding Into Comics, which publicizes comics from JDA and Vox Day, says industry professionals are trying to silence them.

Bounding into Comics has become the latest target of comic book industry professionals’ attempts to silence those whose opinions they disagree with.

On Tuesday, prominent Marvel and DC Comics Colorist Tamra Bonvillain (Doom Patrol, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Uncanny Avengers) issued a call to her followers to unfollow and ignore Bounding Into Comics (henceforth BiC):

(14) RAP SHEET LENGTHENS. “Fatal ‘swatting’ hoaxer faces more charges” — jerk whose swatting lead to death of a gamer had been doing it for years.

This incident arose following a dispute in the Call of Duty video game between two men. One of them owned the home occupied and rented by Mr Finch and this address was given to Mr Barriss as the place to send police.

The two men have been charged for their role in the fatal incident. Both have pleaded not guilty.

US federal prosecutors filed the fresh charges in a California court, claiming that many of the crimes were committed when Mr Barriss lived in Los Angeles.

The charge sheet details incidents in which Mr Barriss is suspected of being involved, between September 2014 and December 2017.

Many of the charges relate to fake calls about bombs planted in schools, federal buildings and universities. Others relate to separate swatting incidents, bank fraud, other hoax calls to police departments and threats of violence.

(15) THE SMELL OF SUCCESS. NPR’s Glen Weldon reports “Swedish Film Cleverly Blurs The ‘Border’ Between Reality And Folklore”.

Ostensibly, the title of the Swedish film Border refers to the internationally recognized demarcation separating one country from another. Its main character Tina (Eva Melander), after all, works at the Swedish Customs Service, where she screens those entering the country for contraband. She’s very, very good at her job: She can literally smell deceit, which, when you think about it, should single-handedly earn her portrait pride of place on the Employee of the Month wall, in perpetuity.

Of course, there’s more to it. If Border were only about Customs practices, howsoever informed they might be by nasal lie-detection, the film would be odd, but relatively straightforward — a kind of Nordic, olfactory-powered superhero yarn, maybe. Happily, this is not the case.

(16) THE WILD LIFE. Timothy the Talking Cat provides “A Helpful Guide to the Wonderful World of Mammals” at Camestros Felapton.

Squirrel: Sinister bastards who crave power and control and off-season nuts. You know they are whispering about you in the trees with their clever little hands and distracting tails.

(17) COOKIE IN A BOTTLE. Treat your palate — “Stroopwafel Liqueur”

Anyone who has visited the Netherlands has undoubtedly come across the country’s famous stroopwafels, a pair of thin, crisp waffles sandwiching a caramel filling. Fans especially enjoy the fantastic aroma that stroopwafel stands emit when making a fresh batch, and many claim that no better treat exists. However, the company Van Meer’s did not agree and decided to up the ante by transforming the stroopwafel into alcohol form.

The resulting liqueur, which won a gold medal at the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, captures both the distinctive smell and flavor of stroopwafels.

(18) THE SITUATIONAL ETHICS OF DRIVERLESS CARS. Mike Kennedy says what he learned from The Verge’s article “Global preferences for who to save in self-driving car crashes revealed”, is “Why I should stay away from school zones with self driving cars around.”

“If self-driving cars become widespread, society will have to grapple with a new burden: the ability to program vehicles with preferences about which lives to prioritize in the event of a crash. Human drivers make these choices instinctively, but algorithms will be able to make them in advance. So will car companies and governments choose to save the old or the young? The many or the few?”

Researchers from MIT have published a paper (Nature: “The Moral Machine experiment”) discussing the results of an online experiment (using a platform they call the Moral Machine) to “explore the moral dilemmas faced by autonomous vehicles”. They gathered 40 million decisions across a variety of languages and cultures. The paper itself is behind a paywall, but the article on The Verge takes a look at their findings. The data itself—and the code the researchers used to perform some of their analyses—is available to the public.

PerThe Verge article, the Moral Machine asked users to:

“make a series of ethical decisions regarding fictional car crashes, similar to the famous trolley problem. Nine separate factors were tested, including individuals’ preferences for crashing into men versus women, sparing more lives or fewer, killing the young or the elderly, pedestrians or jaywalkers, and even choosing between low-status or high-status individuals.”

Millions of users took the quiz. There were some fairly universal agreements. Again, per The Verge coverage:

“[…] the study’s authors found certain consistent global preferences: sparing humans over animals, more lives rather than fewer, and children instead of adults.”

There were also some disagreements, including:

“The study’s authors suggest this might be because of differences between individualistic and collectivist cultures. In the former, where the distinct value of each individual as an individual is emphasized, there was a ‘stronger preference for sparing the greater number of characters.’ Counter to this, the weaker preference for sparing younger characters might be the result of collectivist cultures, ‘which emphasize the respect that is due to older members of the community.’”

Of course, at present self driving cars might be able to tell most animals from most humans, but haven’t a clue about most age differences—nor can they likely tell law-abiding pedestrians from jaywalkers. So, this is mostly academic at present (see, e.g., the reference to MIT, above) but sooner or later some sort of ethical decisions will probably be baked into a car’s programming. Thinking about what that should be now seems sensible.

Taking a step past the automakers themselves, though, The Verge article also asks:

“But how close are we to needing legislation on these issues? When are companies going to start programming ethical decisions into self-driving vehicles?”

[…] the problems ahead can already be glimpsed in Germany, the only country to date to propose official guidelines [Google Translate version] for ethical choices made by autonomous vehicles. Lawmakers tried to slice the Gordian knot of the trolley problem by stating that all human life should be valued equally and that any distinction based on personal features like age or gender should be prohibited. […] if this choice is implemented, it would go against the public’s strong preference for sparing the younger over the elderly. If a government introduces this policy […], how will it handle the backlash “that will inevitably occur the day an autonomous vehicle sacrifices children in a dilemma situation.”

Obviously, much more work remains to be done

(19) PROVED AGAIN. “Archaeopteryx: The day the fossil feathers flew” – Back in the day, noted contrarian (and SF writer) Fred Hoyle claimed the fossil was a fake; disproved then by analysis, and disproved now by precision scanning of fossil halves and “fitting” them together by computer.

Sir Fred was high-profile and if the idea of fakery in a transitional fossil went unchallenged, Archaeopteryx would quickly become a cause célèbre for the anti-evolution movement. And don’t forget, the museum was the scene of perhaps the biggest fossil fake of all time – Piltdown Man.

The astronomer’s accusation could not be allowed to pass.

(20) NOT BIRDBRAINS. “Clever crows reveal ‘window into the mind'” — several assembled a reaching tool out of pieces.

New Caledonian crows are known to spontaneously use tools in the wild. This task, designed by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany, and the University of Oxford, presented the birds with a novel problem that they needed to make a new tool in order to solve.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Orson Welles On Censoring Horror Comics” on YouTube is an excerpt from an interview Welles gave a British show in the mid-1950s where he says that he personally dislikes horror comics, but feels that they shouldn’t be censored.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Bill, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 777, er, 770, contributing editor of the day Kendall.]

Pixel Scroll 10/20/18 No One Pixels There Any More, It’s Too Scrolled

(1) HORROR HUMBLE BUNDLE. “The Tales of Horror Humble Bundle” is now up with horror anthologies edited by Ellen Datlow (Darkness, Nightmares, Lovecraft’s Monsters), also: The Ultimate Werewolf, The Ultimate Undead, and The Ultimate Dracula, plus books by Lisa Goldstein, Ellen Klages, Nancy Kress, Kelley Armstrong, and Joe R. Lansdale. Plus graphic novels like From Hell, by Moore/Campbell, Parasyte by Hitoshi Iwaaki, Devil’s Line by Ryo Hanada, Until Your Bones Rot by Yae Utsumi, Locke & Key Vol. 1: Welcome To Lovecraft by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, and others.

(2) PATTINSON IN SPACE. The BBC’s Claire Davis reviews Robert Pattinson in High Life: 4 stars, but won’t please nearly everyone.

Robert Pattinson, sci-fi and sex in outer space – if ever the audacious, brilliant French director Claire Denis were making a bid for a mainstream audience, High Life would seem to be it. It turns out, the reverse is true. Before and especially after his Twilight years, Pattinson has sought out roles in smaller, artistic films, apparently on a mission to establish himself as a serious actor. The plan is working….

High Life, Denis’ first film in English, is set on a spaceship full of prisoners sent on an almost certain suicide mission to explore a black hole.

(3) ROSSUM’S UNIVERSAL TWEETERS. A lot of Twitter bot activity preceded and followed Chuck Wendig’s firing by Marvel says Bethan Lacina:

(4) AT THE FRONT. Cedar Sanderson has quite a bit of interest to say about book covers in “7 Rules for Cover Design” at Mad Genius Club.

It’s not just that I’m an artist and designer and I enjoy the process of book creation. It’s that even though people will say they don’t care about a book cover, they actually do. They will totally judge your book by it’s cover. And your book cover signals a lot about your book, whether you are conscious of it, or not. Every little choice, from font to color focus, says something about the book. I think by now everyone reading this knows the cardinal rule of a book cover: cover art is a marketing tool, not a scene from the book.

(5) TOMORROW’S THE FIFTH. Happy fifth anniversary, Galactic Journey!

In “[October 20, 1963] Science Experiments (November 1963 F&SF and a space update)”, The Traveler celebrates the occasion —

Five years ago tomorrow, I created the Journey to detail the day-by-day adventures of a science fiction magazine fan who just happened to also be a space journalist.  In the passage of five circuits around the sun, the scope of this project has expanded tremendously to cover books, movies, tv shows, comics, politics, music, fashion, and more.  The Journey has grown from a solo project to a staff of twenty spanning the globe.  Two years ago, we won the Rod Serling Award, and this year, we were nominated for the Hugo.

(6) DINOBITES. BBC finds “Jurassic-era piranha is world’s earliest flesh-eating fish”.

“We were stunned that this fish had piranha-like teeth,” says Martina Kölbl-Ebert, of Jura-Museum Eichstätt, who led the study.

“It comes from a group of fishes (the pycnodontids) that are famous for their crushing teeth. It is like finding a sheep with a snarl like a wolf. But what was even more remarkable is that it was from the Jurassic.

“Fish as we know them, bony fishes, just did not bite flesh of other fishes at that time. Sharks have been able to bite out chunks of flesh but throughout history bony fishes have either fed on invertebrates or largely swallowed their prey whole. Biting chunks of flesh or fins was something that came much later.”

(7) PERSONS OF INTEREST. Steve Shives investigates who did it —

(8) TOLKIEN LETTER OFFERED. A rare bookdealer is offering a long letter from JRRT for $48k. That’s not news — people can list their property for any price they like. But the listing includes images of all four pages, so you can read it in its entirety — “J.R.R. Tolkien. Autograph Letter Signed” at The Manhattan Rare Book Company.

-insists that The Lord of the Rings is “in no way an ‘allegory’”, but “mythical-historical” based on “deeply rooted ‘archetypal’ motifs”

-reveals his motivations for writing The Lord of the Rings (“I merely tried to write a story that would be ‘exciting’ and readable, and give me a scope for my personal pleasure in history, languages, and ‘landscape’”)

-bemoans certain analyses of The Lord of the Rings that focus on symbolism (“they miss the point and destroy the object of their enquiry as surely as a vivisectionist destroys a cat or rabbit”)

(9) SELF-PUBBERS ARE LEARNING. At Writer Beware, Victoria Strauss charts “The Continued Decline of Author Solutions”. Strauss observes, “costly and often deceptive ‘assisted self-publishing’ services that proliferated in the early days of digital publishing are gradually being supplanted by better options.”

What I want to focus on, though, is Author Solutions–where ISBN output is a useful measure of overall activity, since all AS publishing packages include ISBN assignment.

In previous posts, I’ve followed AS’s steady decline, from an all time high of 52,548 ISBNs in 2011 (one year before Pearson bought it and folded it into Penguin), to less than half that in 2015 (the same year that Penguin unloaded it to a private equity firm called Najafi Companies*).

In the latest version of Bowker’s report, that slide continues. 2016 did see a small post-Najafi uptick, from 24,587 to 30,288; but in 2017 the freefall resumed, with ISBNs dropping to 25,971–just slightly above 2015’s output. A few of the individual imprints do show negligible increases, but for the most part they all go down (by four figures in the case of AuthorHouse).

(10) CALL FOR BOOKSTORE ACTIVISM. Electric Literature points readers to Lexi Beach’s Twitter thread which tells “Why Buying Books Will Not Save Our Beloved Bookstores” and what to do instead. The thread starts here.

(11) BOL OBIT. Little Free Library creator Todd Bol died October 18 — “Todd Bol, creator of the Little Free Library movement, dies at 62”.

Todd Bol hammered together the first Little Free Library. Then he built a movement around it.

Bol believed the now-ubiquitous little boxes of books — and the neighbors who cared for them — could change a block, a city, the world. So he brought them to front yards all over, often installing them himself. Known for his wild optimism and keen business sense, the Little Free Library founder died Thursday morning, just weeks after he was found to have pancreatic cancer.

…Bol set a goal of 2,150 — to beat the number of Carnegie Libraries in the country. Less than a decade later, more than 75,000 dollhouse-size libraries have sprouted on front lawns in 88 countries…

(12) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 20, 1965Village Of The Giants showed that size does matter.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 20, 1882 – Bela Lugosi, Actor from Hungary who appeared in many Hungarian and German silent films, but first became famous for portraying Count Dracula in the 1931 film of that name, a role he had previously played on Broadway. Other genre roles included the films Island of Lost Souls, Mark of the Vampire, Night Monster, White Zombie, and countless Frankenstein movies. He never really made it as a major performer, and his last film was Plan 9 from Outer Space.
  • Born October 20, 1923 – Erle M. Korshak, 95, Attorney, Publisher, Conrunner, and Member of First Fandom who discovered SF in 1934 with the August Astounding magazine and became a very serious collector. By 1939, he was a well-known fan and one of the leaders of the Moonstruck Press publishing house which was formed to create a bibliography of all fantasy books. He was a co-organizer for the second Worldcon in 1940, and served as chair pro tem when the con chair fell ill on the first day. He later founded a publishing house whose first major work was Everett F. Bleiler’s The Checklist of Fantastic Literature, a pioneering work of SF bibliography. This was followed by major works by Heinlein, Bester, Fredric Brown and other SF authors. He was absent from fandom from the late 50s through late 80s, but rejoined fandom and has attended cons with his children.
  • Born October 20, 1934 – Taku Mayamura, 84, Writer and Haiku Poet from Japan who is well-known in that country for his science fiction stories, which have earned him two Seiun Awards. He is also a young adult fiction writer whose works have been adapted into TV drama, film, and anime. He was named an honorary member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of Japan.
  • Born October 20, 1934 – Michael Dunn, Actor who was probably best known for his recurring role on The Wild Wild West series as the villain Dr. Miguelito Loveless, but is better known to Star Trek fans as Alexander, the court jester, in the original series episode “Plato’s Stepchildren”. He also had roles in episodes of Night Gallery, Tarzan, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. He died far too young at the age of 38 in his sleep, from congenital health issues related to dwarfism.
  • Born October 20, 1949 – George Harris, 69, Actor born in the West Indies who emigrated to England. His acting debut was in The Gladiators, the 1969 Swedish predecessor to The Hunger Games. His face is well-known to genre fans from his character roles in Flash Gordon, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and several Harry Potter movies; he also had parts in Riders of the Storm, Danny Boyle’s National Theatre Live: Frankenstein, and a recurring role on the series Starhunter and Starhunter ReduX.
  • Born October 20, 1955 – Thomas Newman, 63, Oscar-nominated Composer of film scores who has provided songs and soundtracks for numerous genre films, including the Hugo- and Oscar-winning WALL-E, The Green Mile, Meet Joe Black, Finding Nemo, Finding Dory, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Adjustment Bureau, Passengers, Real Genius, and The Lost Boys.
  • Born October 20, 1956 – Peter Morwood, 62, Writer and Fan from Ireland who has written novels in several series, as well as contributing a couple of novels in the Star Trek universe. A frequent SFF con attendee in the UK, he was introduced by Anne McCaffrey to his wife Diane Duane at a convention, and the two were married at the 1986 Worldcon in Atlanta. He has been Guest of Honor at numerous conventions and, with Duane, was Toastmaster at the 1995 Worldcon in Glasgow.
  • Born October 20, 1958 – Lynn Flewelling, 60, Writer best known for works featuring LGBTQ characters and touching on issues of gender. Novels in her Nightrunners series have received Compton Crook and Spectrum Award nominations, and her work has been published in 13 countries, including Japan.
  • Born October 20, 1966 – Diana Rowland, 52, Writer who has an eclectic list of past professions as a bartender, a blackjack dealer, a pit boss, a street cop, a detective, a computer forensics specialist, a crime scene investigator, and a morgue assistant. In the last 10 years, she has produced at least 14 novels in two series, as well as a short work set in the Wild Cards universe. She is a graduate of the Clarion West Writer’s Workshop, received the Phoenix Award (lifetime achievement award) from Southern Fandom, and has been Toastmaster and Guest of Honor at several conventions.

(14) APRIL FOOLISHNESS. Gábor Takacs sff-related April’s fools prank is in Hungarian, but you can enjoy the covers of these fictitious upcoming books, e. g. a Culture-novel by Alastair Reynolds and Peter F. Hamilton, and so on. With covers!

(15) ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST. A second superhero series marked for death: “Netflix cancels ‘Luke Cage’ a week after dropping ‘Iron Fist'”.

When Marvel and Netflix announced Iron Fist wouldn’t return for a third season, there were reports Luke Cage was close to being renewed. That is not the case, however, as they announced tonight that the show will end after two seasons, even though additional seasons for Jessica Jones and The Punisher are already on order. In a statement, the companies said “Unfortunately, Marvel’s Luke Cage will not return for a third season. Everyone at Marvel Television and Netflix is grateful to the dedicated showrunner, writers, cast and crew who brought Harlem’s Hero to life for the past two seasons, and to all the fans who have supported the series.”

(16) FIRST PERSON. Saga tells it all to The Guardian: “I pulled a 1,500-year-old sword out of a lake”.

I was crawling along the bottom of the lake on my arms and knees, looking for stones to skim, when my hand and knee felt something long and hard buried in the clay and sand. I pulled it out and saw that it was different from the sticks or rocks I usually find. One end had a point, and the other had a handle, so I pointed it up to the sky, put my other hand on my hip and called out, “Daddy, I’ve found a sword!”

I felt like a warrior, but Daddy said I looked like Pippi Longstocking. The sword felt rough and hard, and I got some sticky, icky brown rust on my hands. It started to bend and Daddy splashed up to me, and said I should let him hold it. It was my sword and now he was taking it away! I gave it to him in the end.

(17) NEED GAS. Brian Gallagher, in “So Can We Terraform Mars Or Not?” at Nautilus, argues the question of whether or not terraforming Mars will be successful depends on how much carbon dioxide is stored in the Martian rocks, with NASA arguing that there isn’t enough carbon dioxide to do the job, while Robert Zubrin argues that NASA dramatically underestimates that amount of carbon dioxide that would be available.

This is where, to Zubrin and McKay, Jakosky seems to contradict the known data. 0.5 bar of atmospheric CO2 loss is a fair—even if not conclusive—assessment, McKay and Zubrin told me. (McKay: “There is some debate if they are actually measuring CO2 loss or just O2 loss.” Zubrin: “That claim is controversial, but we’ll let it pass because at least in that case [Jakosky] is arguing from data.”) What they disagree with is Jakosky’s carbon isotope analysis. Zubrin said it is impossible for the 0.5 bar of atmospheric CO2 loss to represent 75 percent or more of Mars’ original atmospheric total because, “based on the available data on liquid water on ancient Mars, Mars must have had at least 2 bar of CO2” enveloping the planet (the ground-based amount at that time is unknown). If so, contrary to Jakosky, there would be well over a bar left in shallow ground deposits somewhere—enough to trigger a runaway greenhouse effect if vaporized.

(18) STILL READING RICE. Princess Weekes, in “Why Our Love for Anne Rice’s Vampires Is Undying” at The Mary Sue, explores why people still read Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles 40 years after Interview with the Vampire was first published.

The desire to be loved, to understand what it means to be human when your humanity is stripped away from you, those are beautiful themes and questions to raise in a novel about vampires. Rice showed the poetry in the genre and also gave women a stronger place in vampire literary lore. She wrote vampires for a female audience while creating a brutal and dark novel with Interview, but it was dark not just through violence but through emotion—and that is why the series means so much to people even now.

(19) MAKING OF THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Polygon spotlights the rediscovery: “The Empire Strikes Back’s long-lost making-of documentary surfaces on YouTube”.

The Making of the Empire Strikes Back, a documentary partially referenced on the internet but otherwise believed incomplete and lost, has made it to YouTube in full.

The film lingers on the special effects required for the Hoth battle opening the 1980 flick, but also includes backstage interviews with Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and the late Carrie Fisher. At this point in history, all three were bought into the love triangle set up in the original Star Wars, before everyone figured out Luke’s parentage — and then Leia’s, as well.

 

(20) KILLER MOVES AND KILLER TUNES. The second trailer for Anna and the Apocalypse.

A zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy town of Little Haven – at Christmas – forcing Anna and her friends to fight, slash and sing their way to survival, facing the undead in a desperate race to reach their loved ones. But they soon discover that no one is safe in this new world, and with civilization falling apart around them, the only people they can truly rely on are each other.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 10/16/18 Pixel Me, Ray Bradbury!

(1) WORLD FANTASY CON PRELIMINARY PROGRAM. WFC 2018 takes place in Baltimore from November 1-4. Their draft program is now up — World Fantasy 2018 Preliminary Program Grid.

This is the Preliminary program schedule. These are the program items we’re planning on having. New things may emerge, and any of these may disappear in puff of logic, all without warning. The program will be updated as information changes, but please check for official notifications during the convention.

(2) LE GUIN’S EARTHSEA ON RADIO. From SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie we learn: “Beeb Beeb Ceeb Radio 4 Extra has just started season 2 of Le Guin’s The Wizard of Earthsea.

Episode 1 of season 2 here.

On the island of Gont, Tenar saves a remarkable young girl from certain death. She also makes a dangerous enemy.

Ursula K Le Guin’s enduring fantasy saga – based on the novel Tehanu adapted by Judith Adams.

“And the lovely folk have re-posted the 1st season on here on BBC i-Player so you can catch up.  But note: season 1 will only be up on iPlayer for another 3 weeks.”

(3) DEVICES INCLUDED. The audience for the Thirteenth Doctor’s debut grows to record-setting levels when stats from devices are rolled in — “Doctor Who: Biggest first episode for new Doctor”.

Jodie Whittaker attracted a record audience for a new Doctor in the first episode of the new series of Doctor Who.

The episode was watched by 10.9 million viewers, which makes it the highest Doctor Who series opener since the show was relaunched in 2005.

The consolidated figures from ratings body Barb includes the number of people watching on devices as well as TV.

Barb only began counting ratings for phones, PCs and tablets last month.

The previous highest series launch episode for the drama was in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston, which attracted 10.8 million.

That number obviously didn’t include device figures.

(4) SPECTRUM 25 CEREMONY. John Fleskes has just posted a story with photos about the Spectrum 25 awards ceremony last May in Hollywood: “Spectrum 25 Awards Ceremony Stories and Pictures”

To be able to create a gathering where the Spectrum community can get together and celebrate is not only meaningful, it helps to encourage others. All the award recipients had an emotional response and made sincere and expressive acceptance speeches. Everyone who attended left with a want to do more to create and inspire others to do the same. This is why Spectrum exists and why we find the awards ceremony to be so important to have and to share.

(5) GAME ART MASHUP. Fans in Japan get all the cool stuff. Well, at least if you think crossing Edvard Munch and Pokémon is cool (The Verge: “Pokémon’s upcoming ‘The Scream’ cards capture 2018’s existential horror”).

The world is running out of clean water, climate change continues to ravage the planet, and politics everywhere are a total nightmare: nearly every day of 2018 has carried the emotional weight of an entire year. It’s fitting, then, that this is also the year The Pokémon Company is announcing a partnership with the Tokyo Art Museum to produce special trading cards based on The Scream, the iconic expressionist painting by Edvard Munch.

According to the official release [Google Translate version], the promotional cards will be available starting October 27th to celebrate a special exhibition at the Tokyo Art Museum. Each card, which will retail for 450 yen, will feature a pocket monster with a scream attack that causes confusion (hence the crossover between the game and the painting). Cards will be available through official Pokémon centers in Japan when fans purchase booster packs, though there will also be other Munch / Pokémon-related merch up for sale, too.

(6) THIS IS MONSTROUS. A special exhibition—De Monstris—at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library in Toronto caught the attention of  Brigit Katz, writing for Smithsonian.com (“Rare Book Library Summons Tales of World’s Oldest Monsters”).

In December 1495, Rome was devastated by four days of heavy flooding. After the deluge subsided, rumors began to swirl about a terrible monster that had washed up onto the banks of the Tiber. The creature was said to be a grotesque pastiche of human and animal body parts: it had, among other peculiarities, the head of a donkey, the breasts of a woman, the bearded visage of an old man on its behind, and a tail crowned with a roaring dragon’s head.

This was the era on the cusp of the Reformation, and many were convinced that the monster had been conjured as an ominous portent of papal corruption, with each of its hodge-podge body parts representing a different vice. (The creature’s “feminine” breasts and belly symbolized “the sensuality of the cardinals and ecclesiastical elites”; the old man on its hind parts marked a “dying regime.”) Printed images of the so-called “Papal Ass” were circulated widely in the years after the flood. Martin Luther, the father of Protestantism, even commented on the monster in his railings against the Catholic Church.

(7) SPACE VS. SCI-FI. In the Washington Post, Elahe Izadi tries to separate space movies from sci-fi flicks, with one difference being if space is “a pretty easy and chill place to hang out” then it’s sci-fi and not a space movie — “Sorry, your favorite ‘space’ movie is not actually a space movie”.

… But what, exactly, makes a movie a space movie? Is it merely the location? What if only a few scenes are in space? What about the involvement of aliens? Is it a space movie if the movie title has a space-y word, like “galaxy” or, say, “space”?

…These are the kinds of questions you have to grapple with before you even try to rank the best space movies. So, below is a system on how to tell whether your favorite movie is actually a space movie — including a handy, totally professional flowchart!

(8) LEARNING TO SPELL. WIRED’s Jason Kehe says he’s seen this before – plenty of times: “Why So Many Fantasy Novels Are Obsessed With Academia”.

The best fantasy debut of 2018 has a problem. It was also the best fantasy debut of 2009. And 2007. And 1997, 1985, 1982, and 1968.

Authors change; the story stays the same. In the darkness a child is born. The child suffers, but he has mysterious power. Posthaste, destiny leads the child to the same place it herds all the courageous orphan-protagonists of speculative fiction: a storied and exclusive institution of magical learning, where he unnerves the faculty, demonstrates arrogance, and forms lasting friendships on his way to vanquishing evil.

…This year’s Potter, though it pulls from a number of related sources, is The Poppy War, the first of a planned trilogy set in the Empire of Nikan, an evocation of 20th-century China in everything from geography and mythology to military history. Written by the scarily proficient newcomer R.F. Kuang—she was 19 and a student at Georgetown University when she sold it—the book adds to a recent wave of East Asian fantasy with a sad, gifted orphan of its own.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 16, 1854 – Oscar Wilde, Writer, Journalist, Playwright, and Poet from Ireland whose only novel, the supernatural gothic horror work The Picture of Dorian Gray, has been translated into more than a dozen languages, made into countless radio plays, musicals, TV films and movies — the 1945 version of which was awarded a Retro Hugo — and had enduring influence on modern popular culture as an examination of morality. His long list of short fiction credits includes some fairy tales and genre stories, of which the best known is “The Canterville Ghost”, which has likewise undergone a copious number of translations and adaptations into various media.
  • Born October 16, 1874 – Lucien Rudaux, Astronomer, Artist, and Illustrator from France who in the 1920s and 30s created famous space-themed paintings featuring planets and moons rendered according to the state of astronomical knowledge at the time, as well the illustrated work Sur Les Autres Mondes (On Other Worlds). The Rudaux crater on Mars and the asteroid 3574 Rudaux are named for him, as is the Lucien Rudaux Memorial Award, given by the International Association of Astronomical Artists to creators of space-themed works (recipients have included Chesley Bonestell and Rick Sternbach).
  • Born October 16, 1925 – Angela Lansbury, 93, Actor from England who emigrated to the U.S. as a teenager. Though perhaps best known now for her long-running Miss Marple homage TV series Murder, She Wrote, her early career included movies of some import, and she received Oscar nominations for genre films The Manchurian Candidate and the Retro-Hugo-winning The Picture of Dorian Gray. Other genre roles include Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Nanny McPhee, and The Mirror Crack’d (for which she received a Saturn nomination), and she has lent her distinctive voice to a number of animated features including the Saturn-nominated adaptation of Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, the Hugo-nominated Beauty and the Beast, Anastasia, Fantasia 2000, The Grinch, and Heidi 4 Paws, which is, interestingly, a retelling of the well-known Heidi where all of the roles are played by dogs.
  • Born October 16, 1926 – Ed Valigursky, Artist who created more than 200 pulp magazine and novel covers, mainly for Amazing Stories, Fantastic Adventures, and Ace Books, including Ace Doubles, along with dozens of interior illustrations. The more-than-50 covers he did in 1955 earned him a nomination for the Best Artist Hugo the following year. During the 1960s he contributed illustrations to classic trading cards sets, including the Topps titles Batman and Battle!. In the 1970s and 80s he created covers illustrating NASA’s space program for Popular Mechanics.
  • Born October 16, 1927 –  Claire Necker, Librarian and Writer. This might be going a little astray from genre birthdays, but I think not, given that most of us have SJW credentials. She wrote a number of feline-related academic works including The Natural History of Cats, Supernatural Cats: An Anthology — which includes stories by writers such as Fritz Lieber, C.L. Moore, Henry Kuttner, August Derleth, and H.P. Lovecraft — and Four Centuries of Cat Books; Cat’s Got Our Tongue is a collection of feline-centered proverbs.
  • Born October 16, 1940 – Barry Corbin, 78, Actor whose face will be familiar from his many character roles — frequently as gruff military officers or crusty eccentrics — including those in genre movies WarGames, My Science Project, Ghost Dad, Race to Space, Dawn of the Crescent Moon, Curdled, Critters 2, and Timequest, which appears to be an uncredited version of Greg Benford’s Timescape (which provided the name for the Pocket Books line of science fiction novels helmed by David G. Hartwell in the early 1980s). He narrated Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America’s Race to the Moon, based on the book by Mercury Seven astronaut Alan Shepard.
  • Born October 16, 1963 – Glenn Glazer, 55, Conrunner and Fan who has been on the concoms for many Worldcons and regional conventions, chaired a Smofcon and a Westercon, and was one of three vice-chairs for Sasquan, the 2015 Worldcon. He has been involved in a number of APAs, including SWAPA, Mutations, The Calling, LASFAPA, APA-69, and APA-FNORD.
  • Born October 16, 1966 – Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, 52, Actor, Writer, and Director. Aside from appearing in episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess, Star Trek: Voyager, and Quantum Leap, she’s credited with more than 500 voice acting roles in animated movies, TV series, and videogames, including The Avengers, Ghost in the Shell, X-Men, Steven Universe, and Bleach. She directed 18 episodes of the long-running anime Naruto, and has been Guest of Honor at Anime Expo.
  • Born October 16, 1971 – Lawrence Schimel, 47, Writer, Editor, Poet, and Translator. He is a founding member of The Publishing Triangle, an organization promoting fiction by LGBTQ authors and/or with LGBTQ themes, which inform many of his short fiction works. He has edited, mostly in collaboration with Martin H. Greenberg, at least 10 anthologies. His solo anthology, Things Invisible to See, and one of his short fiction collections were both recognized with Lambda Award nominations, and his speculative poetry has garnered a Rhysling Award nomination and a win.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

A classic Trek-themed joke in Monty.

(11) DON’T LOOK DOWN. In an article at The Verge, astronaut Nick Hague recounts “What it’s like to fall 31 miles to Earth after your rocket fails”—and fortunately he’s here to tell his own tale.

For the first few minutes, the ride to space had been routine. NASA astronaut Nick Hague and his fellow crew mate, Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, were pressed into their seats inside a Russian Soyuz capsule as the vehicle rapidly climbed through the atmosphere. Then then there was a jolt.

“The first thing I really noticed was being shaken fairly violently from side to side,” Hague said during a round of broadcast interviews [16 October 2018].
The vehicle carrying Hague and Ovchinin had just taken off from Kazakhstan at 4:40AM ET (2:40PM local time). Just two and a half minutes into flight, the vehicle began to break apart. It’s still unclear what triggered the failure, but Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos thinks that there was some unintended contact during stage separation. On the Soyuz, four boosters surrounding the center core of the rocket are meant to break away during flight, but it’s possible one of the four crashed into the middle of the vehicle.

(12) SOYUZ. If the previous item doesn’t curb your enthusiasm, The Space Review points the way to joining the Russian space program — “So, you want to become a cosmonaut? Inside the 2018 cosmonaut selection process”.

For more than 50 years, Russia (and, previously, the Soviet Union) selected the majority of its cosmonauts from the ranks of Air Force pilots or engineering and scientific bureaus and agencies closely linked to the space program. There were exceptions, such as the four female parachutists (and one engineer) selected in 1962, but generally, this approach served the requirements of the Russian space effort.

This changed in 2012, when Roscosmos launched the first ever “open selection” for cosmonauts, to which any Russian citizen could apply, subject to having a higher education in certain specified fields, generally good health, and be under the age of 35.

As a result of this process, eight new cosmonaut candidates were presented to the media in August 2012. This group included candidates from a more diverse range of backgrounds, than the traditional careers mentioned above: mostly engineers, as well as two instructors from Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre and a solitary military pilot.

(13) FACT CHECKING FIRST MAN. Christian Davenport in the Washington Post says the scene in First Man where Neil Armstrong leaves a bracelet with the name of his dead daughter Karen on the moon is almost certainly a dramatization that did not actually take place: “‘First Man’ shows Neil Armstrong mourning his daughter on the moon. But did that really happen?”

Bill Barry, NASA’s chief historian, said questions about the scene came up recently during an event for the movie at the Kennedy Space Center. The conclusion, he wrote in an email to The Washington Post: “The scene was created for the movie, and there is no specific evidence that Neil Armstrong left any ‘memorial items’ on the moon.”

(14) GRRM & PEOPLE WHO LOVE HIS BOOKS. Charles Yu profiles “George R. R. Martin, Fantasy’s Reigning King” for the New York Times.

MARTIN WAS RAISED in Bayonne, N.J., the son of a longshoreman and a factory worker. He has talked in the past about his childhood growing up in a federal housing project, gazing across the water at Staten Island, watching ships coming into port, imagining them traveling from distant lands he would never see.

He’s now based in Santa Fe, where he moved in 1979 from Dubuque, Iowa, where he was teaching journalism at Clarke College. After Tom Reamy, a friend of his and a fellow SFF author, died suddenly in 1977, at the age of 42, Martin was galvanized: “I thought, ‘Do I have all the time in the world? I want to write all these stories.’” He decided to quit teaching to write full time in New Mexico, spending the next decade and a half as a well-received, if not yet famous, fantasy author. He lives with Parris McBride, his second wife; the two of them are ardent supporters of the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, a nonprofit organization that rescues and provides sanctuary to captive-bred wolves. When it’s time for him to focus on his books, Martin heads to what he calls his “hideaway” in an undisclosed location.

(15) GRRM SIDEBAR. In this side feature, the writer discloses where he gets his signature hats and the “Game of Thrones” character that reminds him the most of Trump. Watch the video or read the transcript — “George R. R. Martin Answers Times Staffers’ Burning Questions” at the New York Times.

We selected a handful of staffers’ queries for Martin to field on the set of his cover photo shoot, in Santa Fe, N.M., and filmed a number of his responses for the video above. Below are all of the questions that Martin answered — or, in some cases, tellingly declined to answer. Here’s what he had to say about his favorite books, where he gets his signature hats and the “Game of Thrones” character that reminds him the most of Trump.

Maureen Dowd, Op-Ed Columnist

Dowd: Who reminds you most of Trump? Dan Weiss [one of the “Game of Thrones” creators and writers] told me that the character that reminded him the most of Trump is Hodor because he endlessly repeats his own name.

Martin: Well, that’s amusing. But I think even during the campaign I said that Trump reminded me most of Joffrey. They have the same level of emotional maturity. And Joffrey likes to remind everyone that he’s king. And he thinks that gives him the ability to do anything. And we’re not an absolute monarchy, like Westeros is. We’re a constitutional republic. And yet, Trump doesn’t seem to know what that means. He thinks the presidency gives him the power to do anything. And so, yeah, Joffrey is Trump.

(16) TIME PASSAGES. Inverse reports on an anomaly seen around the shooting of the upcoming Joker origin film (“Batmobile Sighting on the ‘Joker’ Set Hints at Time-Related Shenanigans”).

The new Joker movie, which stars Joaquin Phoenix in the lead role as Gotham’s Clown Prince of Crime, takes place before Batman ever existed. It’s a world where Bruce’s dad, Thomas Wayne, is still alive and running for mayor. So what’s the Batmobile doing on set?

That’s the question Batman fans are reckoning with after a video from the Joker’s New Jersey set revealed what looks a lot like the original Batmobile from the Adam West TV show.

So, sly TV reference aside, how does the Batmobile exist in a pre-Batman world? The Inverse article explores three possible—and very comic-book-esque—explanations.

(17) DOES GOOD FENCING MAKE GOOD NEIGHBORS? Russia may be leading the lightsaber race. DW has the story — “Moscow Star Wars school trains novice Jedi”.

But saber fighting is more than a Star Wars fantasy for those training here. It is a style of stage fencing, which has been considered an official sport in Russia since 2008. And here at the school, the novice Jedi say it is a real workout, particularly because the movie fight scenes they are emulating are very dynamic. “I came out of my first training session and my knees were shaking — I thought I was going to sit down now and never get up,” Daria says, thinking back to when she started in January. “But it gets easier with every session.” Now she says she loves the physical challenge. “And also — it’s Star Wars!”

(18) MOVIE STAR DINOS. Scientsts suspect “The ‘ugly duckling’ fossil from the deep” is a juvenile rather than a progenitor of the species.

The mosasaurs recently took a star turn in the Jurassic World movie, showing off the Hollywood version of their fearsome jaws.

Now an “ugly duckling” from 85 million years ago is shedding new light on the giant marine reptiles that lived at the time of Tyrannosaurus rex.

Scientists have long puzzled over how the diminutive fossil fitted into the family tree.

They now think it was still developing the distinctive long snout of its clan.

(19) THE DATING GAME. Was Pliny the Younger too old to remember the right date? “Pompeii: Vesuvius eruption may have been later than thought” – an on-site graffito challenges Nth-generation copies of Pliny’s letter, but matches findings of harvested plants in ashes.

Historians have long believed that Mount Vesuvius erupted on 24 August 79 AD, destroying the nearby Roman city of Pompeii.

But now, an inscription has been uncovered dated to mid-October – almost two months later.

Italy’s culture minister labelled it “an extraordinary discovery.”

(20) BITS IS BITS. When the BBC asks “Would you eat slaughter-free meat?” it means feather cells grown into chicken nuggets – a company says the product will be in restaurants “by the end of this year”

In 1931, Winston Churchill predicted that the human race would one day “escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium”.

Eighty-seven years later, that day has come as we discovered at Just, a food company in San Francisco where we tasted chicken nuggets grown from the cells of a chicken feather.

The chicken – which tasted like chicken – was still alive, reportedly roaming on a farm not far from the laboratory.

(21) ROBOT FRIENDS. Dara Elasfar in the Washington Post notes how the Smithsonian now has four robots named Pepper as helpers at four of its museums, a gift from SoftBank Robotics of Japan.  Kids like them; Asa Bernstein, 6, said  “If I had a robot named Pepper, I would make it do my homework, and make sugar cookies with me!” Video — “Meet the Hirshhorn’s newest staffer, Pepper the robot”.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/11/18 The Pixellist’s Scroll Is Missing

(1) LEVAR BURTON. The good news is: Episode 32 of LeVar Burton Reads features the actor’s voicing of “Jackalope Wives” by Ursula Vernon.

(2) FLORENCE. The bad news is, the hurricane is bearing down on Oor Wombat –

(3) DOMINOS START TO FALL. Tampa Bay Online reports: “In wake of San Diego Comic Con trademark case, Tampa Bay Comic Con changes name”.

Tampa Bay Comic Con has changed its name to Tampa Bay Comic Convention.

The change comes less than two weeks after a federal judge in California ordered organizers of Salt Lake Comic Con to pay nearly $4 million in attorneys’ fees and costs to San Diego Comic Convention in a trademark infringement suit.

With the award, judge Anthony J. Battaglia affirmed a December 2017 jury verdict that Dan Farr Productions infringed on San Diego Comic Con’s trademarks by operating conventions under the name “Salt Lake Comic Con.”

Tampa Bay Comic Con co-founder Stephen Solomon, a manager at Imaginarium, the company that has run Tampa Bay Comic Con and similarly-branded comic conventions around the U.S. since 2010, confirmed the name change Wednesday after re-branded images appeared on the convention’s social media. Solomon declined to comment on whether that ruling had anything to do with the Tampa Bay Comic Con name change.

(4) SPECIAL CLARION WEST WORKSHOP. Fireside Magazine’s Elsa Sjunneson-Henry will teach a Clarion West One-Day Workshop on “Worldbuilding for Disabled Characters” in Seattle on October 7. Registration info at the link.

The world as it is now, is not what we would call disability friendly. The social model suggests that disability has little to do with one’s medical condition, and everything to do with how society reacts to disability. This class will go over both models of disability (social and medical) and talk about how theories of disability can be used to create your world to include disabled characters. How do magic systems work without creating loopholes to cure disabilities in your setting? How can disability exist on a space station?

This class will help you not only envision the contemporary setting of today with a better understanding of what disabled characters go through, but to create worlds without barriers (or with barriers that aren’t erasure.)

(5) LONDON’S FORBIDDEN PLANET. The Independent expresses its appreciation for Forbidden Planet, celebrating its 40th anniversary: “How cult comic book shop Forbidden Planet changed the way we consume geek culture”.

…Back in the 1970s and early 1980s, American comic books could be picked up in newsagents, often shelved alongside the home-produced titles such as Beano, Misty, Whizzer and Chips, and Warlord.

But while you could generally guarantee that your friendly neighbourhood newsagent would be able to procure for you British comics week in and week out, American titles such as Spider-Man were a different matter. Supply was random and the monthly comics would appear in uncertain quantities, and you could never guarantee that your newsagent would get the following month’s Uncanny X-Men, or even that they would get in any American comics at all….

Today, most towns have a specialist comic shop which works on this model, but one of the most venerable and successful brands is Forbidden Planet, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary and enjoying a position at the top of the market for not only monthly comics but the ever-growing world of geek culture that takes in action figures, toys and collectible movie merchandise.

(6) LE GUIN’S IMPACT. Becky Chambers explains “How The Left Hand of Darkness Changed Everything” at LitHub.

…I wasn’t around when the book made waves in 1969, but ripples remained in 2001, that most futuristic of years. I was in the thick of adolescence, and in a fit of who-cares-about-college rebellion, I’d abandoned Honors English. I was sick of morality tales about brooding men and tragic women, of five-paragraph essays and teachers who didn’t sympathize with my indignation toward how Odysseus treated Penelope. Instead, I enrolled in an elective course: Science Fiction and Fantasy. I walked in there, with my Star Wars notebook and my Star Trek sensibilities and my brain full of role-playing games, and I felt like I’d beat the system. Like I was getting cake for breakfast….

…I soon discovered that elective courses still meant book reports, and my teacher recommended me a title: The Left Hand of Darkness. I still have the copy I bought for class, acquired on a bookstore trip involving my parents’ car and my parents’ money. It’s sitting beside my keyboard now, dog-eared and scarred, full of acid green highlighter. The highlighter isn’t related to the book report. The highlighter came after, as I read the book again and again and again. I can’t say if I’d read any science fiction written by a woman before that point, but I’d certainly never read any science fiction like that. There were no lasers, no damsels, no chosen ones. There was war, yes, but a real war, a war not for the fate of the galaxy but for hatred and fear (things that rang true while living in America in late 2001). There was science, too, but it wasn’t the science of physics or technology. It was the science of culture. The science of bodies. These sciences were every bit as worthy, The Left Hand said, and writing fictions of them was powerful business….

(7) TOLKIEN IN THE FALL. Adam Roberts cannot resist — “J R R Tolkien, “The Fall of Gondolin” (2018)”. In fact, he really doesn’t want to.

…Tolkien’s son Christopher has, over the last four decades, edited eleven thousand (give or take) posthumous volumes of his father’s unpublished writing. The previous instalment in that endeavour, 2017’s Beren and Lúthien opened with him declaring: ‘in my ninety-third year this is presumptively the last book in the long series of editions of my father’s writings’. Such presumption evidently proved premature, for here is The Fall of Gondolin (HarperCollins 2018), plumped-up with eight full-colour Alan Lee illustrations and prefaced by Christopher Tolkien’s wryly revisited promise: ‘I must now say that, in my ninety-fourth year The Fall of Gondolin is (indubitably) the last’. This is the end/Beleriand friend/The end.

I didn’t need this book. I bought this book anyway. I already knew the story of the mighty human warrior, Tuor, beloved of the Vala Ulmo (a sea-god, Tolkien’s Poseidon), who travels through a Middle Earth occupied by the forces of darkness under the evil Vala Melko (in essence; an in-the-world Satan) and his armies of orcs, Balrogs, dragons and other nasties….

I still bought it, mind.

What did I buy? (Why did I buy it? Well, duh)….

(8) FAULTY APPEALS TO AUTHORITY. Annalee Flower Horne raises the point that arguments about historical accuracy may be undermined by the historical source they rely on. (Thread starts here.)

(9) 2018 HUGO ANALYSIS. Mark Kaedrin opines about “Hugo Awards 2018: The Results”.

The Stone Sky wins best novel and N.K. Jemisin becomes the first author ever to win three in a row. I have not been a particular fan of the series, but people seem to love these books. Too much misery porn for my liking, which always kept me at an arms length from the characters and story. Forcing myself to read the three books over the past few years (if I’m going to vote, I’m going to read the books; the authors deserve that much) probably doesn’t help. I don’t see why this series in particular deserved the three-peat, but this third book was actually my favorite of the series, so there is that (in fact, the only real baffling winner in the series was the second book, which suffered from clear middle-book-in-a-trilogy problems. I can definitely see why the first and third books won.) The other funny thing about this is that a few years ago, they created a whole award for “Best Series” that could have potentially cut down on the number of sequels in the Best Novel category, but that clearly isn’t happening. Scalzi’s Collapsing Empire came in second, and probably would have been my choice (though I certainly get the criticisms of it, it was a lot more fun and pushed my SF buttons more than most of the other nominees). New York 2140 came in last place, which also matches my preference…

(10) TODAY’S DAY

(11) QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I was continuing to shrink, to become… what? The infinitesimal? What was I? Still a human being? Or was I the man of the future? If there were other bursts of radiation, other clouds drifting across seas and continents, would other beings follow me into this vast new world? So close – the infinitesimal and the infinite. But suddenly, I knew they were really the two ends of the same concept. The unbelievably small and the unbelievably vast eventually meet – like the closing of a gigantic circle. I looked up, as if somehow I would grasp the heavens. The universe, worlds beyond number, God’s silver tapestry spread across the night. And in that moment, I knew the answer to the riddle of the infinite. I had thought in terms of man’s own limited dimension. I had presumed upon nature. That existence begins and ends is man’s conception, not nature’s. And I felt my body dwindling, melting, becoming nothing. My fears melted away. And in their place came acceptance. All this vast majesty of creation, it had to mean something. And then I meant something, too. Yes, smaller than the smallest, I meant something, too. To God, there is no zero. I still exist!”  –  The Incredible Shrinking Man

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 11 – Sharon Lee, 66. She is the co-author with Steve Miller of the Liaden universe novels and stories, as well as other works including the Agent of Change and Great Migration series, and  the author by herself of two mystery novels. They strongly oppose fanfic written in their universe.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Pluto has a long memory at F Minus.

(14) JUSTICE FOR PLUTO. The University of Central Florida weighs in: “Pluto a Planet? New Research from UCF Suggests Yes”.

The reason Pluto lost its planet status is not valid, according to new research from the University of Central Florida.

In 2006, the International Astronomical Union, a global group of astronomy experts, established a definition of a planet that required it to “clear” its orbit, or in other words, be the largest gravitational force in its orbit.

Since Neptune’s gravity influences its neighboring planet Pluto, and Pluto shares its orbit with frozen gases and objects in the Kuiper belt, that meant Pluto was out of planet status.

However, in a new study published online Wednesday in the journal Icarus, UCF planetary scientist Philip Metzger, who is with the university’s Florida Space Institute, reported that this standard for classifying planets is not supported in the research literature.

The Daily Mail, in “Pluto SHOULD be a planet: Astronomers claim controversial demotion was based on ‘since-disproven reasoning'”, says this is the cruxof the controversy:

Since Neptune’s gravity influences its neighboring planet Pluto, and Pluto shares its orbit with frozen gases and objects in the Kuiper belt, that meant Pluto was out of planet status.

However, the new study reviewed scientific literature from the past 200 years and found only one publication – from 1802 – that used the clearing-orbit requirement to classify planets, and it was based on since-disproven reasoning.

IBTimes wants the decision overturned: “Planet Or Dwarf? Pluto Incorrectly Lost Planetary Status, Study Suggests”.

Apart from that, the researchers also noted scientists have been using the term planet to describe moons as well, like Jupiter’s Europa or Saturn’s Titan.

“We now have a list of well over 100 recent examples of planetary scientists using the word planet in a way that violates the IAU definition, but they are doing it because it’s functionally useful,” Metzger added.

The researchers added bodies, particularly those like Pluto, should be classified on the basis of their natural properties rather than features that could change – like their orbit.

The Universe Today, in “New Reasons why Pluto Should be Considered a Planet After All”, adds depth:

As an alternative, Metzger and his colleagues claim that the definition of a planet should be based on its intrinsic rather than extrinsic properties (such as the dynamics of its orbit), which are subject to change.  In short, they recommend that classifying a planet should be based on whether or not it is large enough that its gravity allows for it to achieve hydrostatic equilibrium (i.e. becomes spherical). As Metzger explained:

“Dynamics are not constant, they are constantly changing. So, they are not the fundamental description of a body, they are just the occupation of a body at a current era… And that’s not just an arbitrary definition. It turns out this is an important milestone in the evolution of a planetary body, because apparently when it happens, it initiates active geology in the body.”

(15) THE OPOSSUM FACTOR. Matthew Wills makes his case for Pogo being “The Most Controversial Comic Strip” at JSTOR Daily.

During the 1950s, Walt Kelly created the most popular comic strip in the United States. His strip was about an opossum named Pogo and his swamp-dwelling friends. It was also the most controversial and censored of its time. Long before Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury blurred the lines between the funny pages and the editorial pages, Kelly’s mix of satiric wordplay, slapstick, and appearances by Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Nikita Khrushchev, J. Edgar Hoover, and the John Birch Society, all in animal form, stirred up the censors.

Taking place in a mythic Okefenokee Swamp, Pogo satirized the human condition as well as McCarthyism, communism, segregation, and, eventually, the Vietnam War. The strip is probably best remembered today for Pogo’s environmentalist’s lament, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

(16) A BIG, SEXY DINOSAUR. A new book, The Dinosaur Artist, delves into the world of commercial fossil hunters, smuggling, and the international implications. Author Paige Williams is interviewed by Becky Ferreira for Vice’s Motherboard (‘The Bizarre True Crime Story Surrounding a ‘Big Sexy Dinosaur’”) about the book and the stories behind it.

Motherboard: What first inspired you to report on Eric Prokopi’s case, first for The New Yorker and now in a full-length book?
Paige Williams: In the summer of 2009, I happened to be home (I’m from Mississippi). I was sitting in a coffee shop reading the Tupelo Daily Journal, my hometown paper, and came across this little news brief about a dinosaur thief from Montana. His name is Nate Murphy, and he’s in the book—just barely.
But I couldn’t believe there was such a thing as a dinosaur thief. I didn’t understand how it was possible or why anyone would want to do it. I really like subcultures and understanding why people inhabit them, and it just seemed like a world that was fascinating and full of authentic characters—people who are aggressively themselves, who are irreverent, and who sometimes break the law, though most of them don’t.
Then, this Prokopi case came along. I liked it because had so many threads worth exploring—the international trade, the Gobi Desert, Mongolian culture and history, New York, Florida, Virginia, Tucson, and Denver, and every fossil zone in between. It just had a lot worth pursuing and following.

(17) A DIFFERENT KIND OF CLASS. No formal registration for this one:

(18) BROUGHT TO YOU BY. The Washington Post’s Christian Davenport says NASA is open to ideas for commercialization, including ads in space and having astronauts make commercial endorsements: “Why NASA’s next rockets might say Budweiser on the side”.

The constant creep of corporate America into all aspects of everyday life — from the Allstate Sugar Bowl to Minute Maid Park — may soon conquer a new frontier.

The final frontier.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has directed the space agency to look at boosting its brand by selling naming rights to rockets and spacecraft and allowing its astronauts to appear in commercials and on cereal boxes, as if they were celebrity athletes….

But during a recent meeting of a NASA advisory council made up of outside experts who provide guidance to the agency, Bridenstine announced he was setting up a committee to examine what he called the “provocative questions” of turning its rockets into corporate billboards the way advertisements decorate NASCAR race cars.

“Is it possible for NASA to offset some of its costs by selling the naming rights to its spacecraft, or the naming rights to its rockets?” Bridenstine said. “I’m telling you there is interest in that right now. The question is: Is it possible? The answer is: I don’t know, but we want somebody to give us advice on whether it is.”

(19) MARVEL. X-Men: The Exterminated #1 arrives this December.

Cable has fallen, and the events of Extermination have left a hole in the X-Men family. What comes next??

In the wake of Cable’s death, his adopted daughter Hope Summers is attempting to deal with her loss – but a dark and terrifying path beckons her, and the X-Men’s own Jean Grey may be her only hope for survival!

This December, CABLE creative team Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler re-team for a special one-shot to say good-bye to the time-traveling, fan-favorite mutant – featuring covers by Geoff Shaw and a special back-up story that celebrates the life of Nathan Summers, from legendary X-Men series writer Chris Claremont!

“This issue is our chance to say a proper farewell to Cable, to honor his legacy, and to really see the immense impact the time travelling mutant had on those closest to him,” said Nadler. “Most importantly, it’s about how the Summers family copes with grief, and the difficulty of forging ahead. The issue is packed with fan favorite X-Men from all different eras, and we’re super excited to be bringing them together, despite the somber occasion.”

(20) BOUCHERCON. Tampa Bay Online’s Colette Bancroft had many kind words to say about last week’s Bouchercon: “It’s no mystery why fans, authors gathered for Bouchercon in St. Petersburg”.

…The 1,500 authors and fans (some from as far away as Japan) were in St. Petersburg for Bouchercon 2018, a.k.a. the World Mystery Convention. The annual gathering (named after influential mystery writer and editor Anthony Boucher) began in 1970 and is now one of the biggest mystery conventions in the world.

This was its first stop in St. Petersburg, with approximately 600 writers of crime fiction and true crime on hand to meet and mingle with fans, with many of the top names in the genre strolling the Vinoy’s halls. The event’s special guests were Mark Billingham, Sarah Blaedel, Sean Chercover, Tim Dorsey, Ian Rankin, Karin Slaughter and Lisa Unger. Other luminaries included Ace Atkins, Lawrence Block, Alafair Burke, Lee Child, Michael Connelly, Laura Lippman and Sara Paretsky….

(21) WELCOME OUT-OF-TOWNERS. David Doering found a copy of the pitch made to attendees of the Pacificon (fourth Worldcon) in 1946 to visit the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society. He notes, “Remarkably, don’t really need to change much at all to describe what I saw in Freehafer Hall the first time I went in 1985 forty years later. (For all I know, the “infamous” 4E trunk might still be in there somewhere…)”

LASFS OPEN HOUSE

CLUB ROOM OPEN FOR YOUR INSPECTION

That famous mecca for all fen, the LASFS CLUB ROOM, will most naturally be open at all times for the benefit of visiting fen, who will naturally be Interested In seeing this famous j?o?i?n?t? place.

You will see the (In) famous Ackerman trunk, repository of Ghu knows what; the fine library we maintain for the benefit of our members; the very spot where those wonderful (who said that?) meetings are held; the many fine original Illustrations which adorn the walls; that mighty project, Donald Warren Bratton’s cardfile of approximately 10,000 cards cross-indexIng all pro-mag stories and authors, as well as books pertaining to our field.

Indeed, lndeedy, your visit will not be complete until you have visited the LASFS Club Room. However, we think it only fair to warn you you will never be the same again after you have been there — in fact, YOU MAY NEVER BE SEEN AGAIN! So while you are more than welcome, you are also given fair warning in advance!

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Fern on Vimeo, Johnny Kelly looks at what happens to a grieving widow when her husband dies and is resurrected as a friendly houseplant.

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

Pixel Scroll 8/30/18 I, For One, Welcome My New Cybernetic Pixel Scroll Wrangler

(1) THE (AMERICAN) GODS THEMSELVES. Neil Gaiman pointed to Leslie S. Klinger’s announcement of a planned reference work about “American Gods”.

I’m thrilled to announce that next Fall, William Morrow will publish Annotated American Gods, with my notes based in significant part on Neil’s manuscripts, journals, and research material as well as many other sources, including conversations with Neil and answers to the questions of “Who are all these unidentified gods anyway?”. I believe that this will be a large-trim edition, with the notes on each page in the margins, based on the 10th Anniversary edition text. Among other things, the notes will highlight all of the significant textual changes that were made for that edition. There will be black-and-white images of various people, places, and maybe even gods!

(2) ATTRACTIVE IDEA. You might say the Worldcon’s YA award gets some love from the Word of the Day:

(3) TREK FEATURES IN PRE-EMMY ANNOUNCEMENT. Deadline hails fans with some award news: “‘Star Trek’ Beams Up TV Academy’s 2018 Governors Award”

“Bridge to engineering — what’s that, Scotty?” “Ach, it’s the Governors Award, Captain — comin’ right at us!” “Mister Spock?!” “It seems that Star Trek has been selected to receive that honor from the TV Academy next month, Captain.”

The award to Star Trek recognizes “the visionary science-fiction television franchise and its legacy of boldly propelling science, society and culture where no one has gone before,” as the Academy put it. The honor will be beamed up September 8 during Night 1 of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards.

(4) POETRY CONTEST DEADLINE. 40th Anniversary Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association Speculative Poetry Contest deadline is August 31. Acclaimed Irish poet John W. Sexton is this year’s judge and esteemed Texas poet Holly Lyn Walrath is Chair. You do not have to be a SFPA member to enter poems. Rules at the link.

(5) MORE TO CTHULHU THAN MEETS THE EYE. With HPL’s 128th birthday this month, Bryan Thao Worra takes on the question “How Can Writers of Color Reconcile H. P. Lovecraft’s Influence with His Racist Legacy?” at Twin Cities Geeks.

…When I would read a story like The Shadow over Innsmouth, it felt more relevant to our journey than most of the refugee narratives on the market. Someone arrives in town to discover peculiar folks are nice at first, then turn into monstrous horrors who have bizarre traditions they want the protagonist to partake in? That’s an oversimplification, certainly, but the seeds are there to be sown. It can be sensitive to have a conversation on the real politics that ignited the Laotian Secret War, but a conversation on an alien war between Great Old Ones and Elder Things, with poor humanity caught between mindless horrors duking it out? There’s a tale that could be told, although not without its complications. Are the Great Old Ones NATO or the Warsaw Pact to Lovecraft’s Elder Things and Elder Gods? Lovecraft’s Fungi from Yuggoth appear in The Whisperer in Darkness; there, the reader learns these creatures take the brains of their victims to their distant planet in shiny metal cylinders. Simple science-fiction horror or an interesting metaphor for the cultural brain drain of a country as refugees board the metal cylinders of American planes to escape to safety?

…If I encouraged my community to read only safe, respectable literature touching on Laos, we’d find our people depicted typically as the faceless, coolies, or the enemy. In the works of writers like H. P. Lovecraft, and others, I felt we could at least start to flip the script and assert our true authentic voice from an unexpected direction. When I began writing in earnest, I had a desire to avoid many of the colonial, imperialist, and feudal trappings that disempower us. I saw science fiction, fantasy, and horror as a way to discuss our journeys and to empower ourselves, even as there can be no doubt these genres are filled with any number of paranoid and small-minded figures who may know how to put a sentence together but not necessarily an inclusive core. But like any zone of literature, one works at it.

(6) MORE ON JOHN WARD. Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA) board member Jeff Tidball addresses the question “It Is Wise for GAMA to Seek a New Executive Director”. As Mark Hepworth noted in comments, Tidball very carefully avoids saying why Ward was not kept on. He does say that Ward was appointed ten years ago in very different circumstances:

The GAMA board of directors announced on Friday that it is not renewing the employment agreement of its Executive Director, John Ward. (Read a copy of the press release hosted on this site.) A fair number of members want to know why, and that’s great, because it indicates that GAMA’s members are interested in the governance and management of their trade organization.

The board’s decision arose in a closed meeting of the board, so the details and voting record of individual board members are confidential. The board’s consensus in recent discussion has been that the decisions made by the body are the decisions of the entire body, and so it would be inappropriate to publish a list reciting the votes of each member.

(Side note: This is based on very recent dialogue, the ultimate resolution of which is still pending. The question arose in the first place when a previous board decision led to a board member’s business being threatened. So, if you’ve seen or been part of board meetings in the past where detailed notes and vote-tallies were circulated, that’s why what I’m reporting here may be different from your experience.)

I wasn’t on the GAMA board ten years ago when John Ward was hired as its Executive Director. Many people, some of whom were intimately involved in the hiring process, some of whom were on the board at the time, many of whom were acquainted with the state of GAMA at that time, have assured me that John Ward was the best candidate for the position of ED when GAMA faced existential crises of finances and responsible organization. I believe them.

It’s been suggested that because John was the right person for that job, ten years ago, he must therefore still be the right person for the current job. There’s a logical disconnect there. The right person to turn a company around is not necessarily the right person to envision its future. The right person to fight a war is not necessarily the right person to rebuild the landscape. And so on. The skill sets are different.

Circumstances change, and GAMA’s have changed. The change is largely thanks to John Ward. The board gives him credit for what he’s done and applauds what he’s accomplished. So make no mistake: I thank John Ward for the hard work he’s done for GAMA. At the same time, I believe that a new voice and skill set would be better to lead GAMA for the next ten years.

(7) ALTERNATE NATURAL HISTORY. Ursula Vernon did a bunch of these today. Not in a single thread, so you’ll need to seek them out. Here is the premise and two lovely examples:

(8) BOUNCED OFF THESE BOOKS. Liz Lutgendorff finds most of the books that topped NPR’s poll “shockingly offensive” — “I read the 100 “best” fantasy and sci-fi novels – and they were shockingly offensive”. (The poll was a product of 5,000 nominators and 60,000 voters.) Lutgendorff used this test to help evaluate the list:

The test had three simple questions:

1: Does it have at least two female characters?

2: Is one of them a main character?

3: Do they have an interesting profession/level of skill like male characters?

It was staggering how many didn’t pass. Some failed on point 1….

Many failed on my second criteria, like Out of the Silent Planet or Rendezvous with Rama.

C S Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet was one of the oldest books on the list, aside from Jules Verne. It’s an early attempt at explaining space flight and encountering an alien race. Most of the plot revolves around the main character, Ransom, trying to understand the aliens before managing to escape back to earth.The most entertaining aspect of the book is the ludicrous physics. There is one woman in the story, who Ransom exchanges about three sentences with before she wanders off. Perhaps you can forgive that on age, the book being from 1938.

The same can’t be said for Rendezvous with Rama, which was written in 1973. It was critically acclaimed and won many of the main science fiction prizes such as the Nebula Award, the British Science Fiction Association Award, the Hugo Award and Locus Award. The story centres around a group of space explorers who have to investigate a mysterious spacecraft that enters the solar system.

While there are more women, almost all are subordinate to the main male lead. There is one female authority figure who is on the Council of Rama (the organisation directing the efforts of investigation), but she doesn’t play a significant role. I also got distracted by the fact that, inexplicably, the male lead sleeps with almost all the women mentioned in the book.

Finally, most would fail on the third part of the test because the women characters were all mothers, nurses or love interests. They were passive characters with little agency or character development, like the women in A Canticle for Leibowitz and Magician. They were scenery, adding a tiny bit of texture to mainly male dominated world….

(9) NELSON OBIT. An opportunity here to take note of her fascinating career — “Miriam Nelson, 98, Golden Age Dancer and Choreographer, Dies” in the New York Times – even if Jerry Lewis provides the unlikely genre connection:

Miriam Nelson, whose seven-decade career as a choreographer and dancer spanned the golden ages of Broadway, Hollywood and television, died on Aug. 12 at her home in Beverly Hills, Calif. She was 98.

Much of Ms. Nelson’s movie work was for nonmusicals. She choreographed the madcap party scene at Holly Golightly’s apartment in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961), and also appeared in it as the glamorous party guest in gold brocade and pearls who argues with the man wearing a fake eye patch.

Behind the camera, Ms. Nelson taught … Jerry Lewis to hoof it like a space alien in “A Visit to a Small Planet” (1960) and the whole cast of “Cat Ballou” (1965) — led by Jane Fonda, who she said was a balletically trained natural — to execute Old West dances for the hoedown scene.

(10) THE ROADS MUST SCROLL. Today’s trivia –

Moving sidewalks may have been synonymous with airports since the mid-20th century but the technology was known even earlier. A “moving pavement” transported people between exhibits during the Paris Expo in 1900 and science fiction novelist H.G. Wells even mentioned them in his 1899 tale “A Story of the Days to Come.”

Sources: USA TodayA short history of airport moving walkways “ (2016) and QIMoving Walkways”)

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 31, 1797 — Mary Shelley. Author of Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818) considered by many to be very first genre novel. Though not appreciated for it until rather recently, she was a rather excellent writer of biographies of notable European men and women.
  • Born August 30 — R. Crumb, 76. Ok, this is a weird associational connection. Back in 1966, The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick was illustrated by R. Crumb in Weirdo #17. Crumb days text is by Dick. It’s really, really weird. You can find it here.
  • Born August 30, 1955 – Judith Tarr, 63. Perhaps best known for her Avaryan Chronicles series, and myriad other fantasy works. She breeds Lipizzan horses at Dancing Horse Farm, her home in Vail, Arizona. Need I note horses figure prominently in her stories?

(12) WORKING FOR LEX. Here’s one of the DC Crossovers that have been discussed in Scrolls — Lex Luthor Porky Pig Special #1 variant,. Became available August 29, according to Graham Crackers Comic Books.

Facing financial and personal ruin, a desperate Porky Pig applies for and gets and entry-level position with LexCorp. Grateful to his new benefactor, Porky becomes Luthor’s most loyal employee and defender. But when a major scandal breaks in the news and Lex is called before a Congressional Committee, guess who is about to be offered up as the sacrificial pig?

(13) ESA ASTRONAUT INTERVIEW. Newsweek interviews European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti about her time after her stay on the ISS and her current role on the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway project (“Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti: NASA Lunar Gateway Is ‘Natural Next Step in Exploration’”).

Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti is [… the] first Italian woman in space […] the former fighter pilot spent almost 200 days on the International Space Station (ISS) from 2014 to 2015—a record spaceflight for an ESA astronaut.

As well as investigating how fruit flies, flatworms and even human cells behave in space, Cristoforetti gained fame for brewing the first espresso on the ISS….

Q:           What is your role with the Gateway?

A:           I’m a crew representative for the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway project. It’s a space station that will be built around the moon in the early 2020s. For human spaceflight, you always want astronauts involved so that they can give a little bit of perspective to the future crew members, users and operators. I’m just starting that, I’m just getting myself into the topic.

(14) INNERSPACE. The Psychedelic Film and Music Festival debuts October 1-7 in New York, and will explore “the medicinal and therapeutic use of psychedelics and investigate the existence of inner worlds through trance music and science fiction, horror, surrealism, fantasy and virtual reality film.”

Simon Boswell will be there —

Renowned film composer and noted psychedelic Simon Boswell will headline a night of music on October 3 at Mercury Lounge on the Lower East Side for a special concert at The Inaugural Psychedelic Film and Music Festival. Performing with his musical group The AND, Boswell will play pieces from his illustrious film composition career in rock, electronica, gothic horror and futuristic styles.

Mr. Boswell is notable for integrating electronic elements with orchestral instruments to create vibrant and atmospheric soundtracks for widely praised cyberpunk, horror and science fiction films including Santa Sangre (1989), Hardware (1990), Dust Devil (1992), Shallow Grave (1994), Hackers (1995) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999). He was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Original Television Music for the BBC series The Lakes (1997) and in recent years has composed for several film projects and toured worldwide with The AND, performing live music against video backdrops of remixed content from his impressive film resume.

Tickets available on Ticketfly: https://ticketf.ly/2nyeb1o

(15) IN VINE VERITAS. Someone reading today needs this book – just not sure who it is. Altus Press announces plans for “Tarzan, Conqueror of Mars”. (No indication there is any connection with the series of similarly-themed action figures from days gone by.)

In 2014, Altus launched The Wild Adventures of Tarzan, with Tarzan: Return to Pal-ul-don. Two years later came the monumental King Kong versus Tarzan, a dream project long thought unachievable.

Now, in association with Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. and Altus Books, the Wild Adventures announces its most breathtaking project to date.

Tarzan, Conqueror of Mars!

Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs and his amazing creations have long dreamed of reading a novel in which the Lord of the Jungle visits the Red Planet and encounters John Carter.

In Tarzan, Conqueror of Mars, this finally happens!

When a witch doctor’s sorcery hurls the ape-man’s soul out of his magnificent body, Tarzan discovers himself on a weird, treeless landscape, a dying planet inhabited by creatures unknown to him. Marooned on Mars, Tarzan must learn to survive in an unfamiliar environment. With no hope of rescue, the ape-man begins the arduous journey that takes him from being a friendless stranger on an alien world to his rise as a force to be reckoned with. For on Barsoom—as Martians style their home planet—there exists apes. Great apes of a type not found upon Earth. Hairless giants resembling gorillas, but possessing two sets of arms. Not to mention ferocious lion-like monsters known as banths as well as the elephantine zitidars.  Tarzan will go up against these fearsome creatures, and so begins the perilous march that elevates him from naked and unarmed castaway to the undisputed Ape-lord of Barsoom!

Written by genre giant Will Murray, TarzanConqueror of Mars ultimately brings the famed Lord of the Jungle into open conflict with Edgar Rice Burroughs’ other great hero, John Carter, Warlord of Mars. In the end, which one will be victorious?

(16) DRIZZT IS BACK. R.A. Salvatore’s Timeless, on-sale September 4, marks the return of Drizzt Do’Urden, the legendary dark elf fighter that’s been a mainstay of fantasy books and the successful Forgotten Realms RPG games for over 30 years.

Not only will readers get more of the swashbuckling, sword-and-sorcery action Salvatore is known for; they’ll also get to know more of the characters who dwell in the Forgotten Realms.

Salvatore is unique, because he was one of the originators of modern Epic Fantasy—but he has continued to evolve, and to take on new fans. With TIMELESS, a master of Epic Fantasy is poised to make a huge splash in a beloved genre.

(17) SEND FOR THE MUPPET CORONER. According to Rolling Stone reviewer Peter Travers, “‘The Happytime Murders’ Review: Puppet Raunchfest Is Dead on Arrival”.

A few critics are calling it the worst movie of the year. Unfair! The Happytime Murders, the R-rated look at a serial killer running wild in a puppet-populated L.A., has what it takes to be a contender for worst of the decade. Directed by Brian Henson (son of the late, great Sesame Street and Muppets icon Jim Henson) and starring a painfully stranded Melissa McCarthy, this toxic botch job deserves an early death by box office….

(18) EIGHTIES UNERASED. James Davis Nicoll continues his Tor.com series with “Fighting Erasure: Women SF Writers of the 1980s, Part II”.

Let us journey onward, this time to women who first published speculative fiction in the 1980s whose surnames begin with B….

For example:

Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff cannot be the sole Bahá’í author/musician active in speculative fiction, but she is the only one I know. Her body of work is small enough—eight books or so—that one could read the entire thing in a week or two. Those who might want just a taste could try The Meri, in which a young woman with great magical potential struggles against a society profoundly suspicious of magic. Alternatively, you could explore her shorter work in the collection Bimbo on the Cover.

(19) EPIC NERD CAMP. Karen Heller’s Washington Post article “‘Growing up, we were the weird ones’: The wizarding, mermaiding, cosplaying haven of Epic Nerd Camp” profiles Epic Nerd Camp,  a summer camp in Starrucca, Pennsylvania where “men in kilts and women withhair stained with all the colors of Disney” can eat bad summer camp food, fight off bugs, and spend their days engaging in LARPing, cosplay, “wandmaking, sword fighting, boffer games, Quidditch, waizarding, chainmaille, escape rooms and FX makeup.”

Heller credits Dr. Seuss with originating the word “nerd” —

Nerds have been with us forever, but the term seems to have been coined by Dr. Seuss, circa 1950. (From “If I Ran the Zoo”: And then, just to show them, I’ll sail to Ka-Troo/And Bring Back an It-Kutch, a Preep, and a Proo,/A Nerkle, a Nerd, and a Seersucker too.) The word gained further popularity on TV’s “Happy Days,” where the Fonz applied it to almost any young person who was not the Fonz. Around the same time, geek — once the name for carnival performers who bit the heads off live chickens — came into its modern interpretation, referring to intense enthusiasts.

(20) THE WALK NESS MONSTER. A sauropod stepped in something, once upon a time: “170-million-year-old dinosaur footprint found in Scotland”.

An extremely rare 170-million-year-old dinosaur footprint has been found in Scotland. Paleontologists, however, are keeping its precise location secret until they can complete their research.

The footprint was discovered earlier this year by Neil Clark, curator of paleontology at the University of Glasgow’s Hunterian Museum. Clark told Fox News that he had just given a talk in Inverness in the Scottish Highlands and decided to “visit the Jurassic rocks” in the area.

“After about a half hour looking, I spotted the footprint and was able to immediately recognize it as the footprint of a sauropod dinosaur,” he told Fox News. “I had to do a double take on the footprint as I couldn’t believe that such an obvious footprint had not been seen previously, considering the number of researchers who visit the coast each year.”

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

Pixel Scroll 8/26/18 Pixels Of Unusual Size? I Don’t Think They Exist

(1) ALL SYSTEMS WIN. Martha Wells posted a Worldcon 76 report including her experiences at the Hugo Awards ceremony —

Then we got to novella, and I was extremely nervous. I felt like I had a strong chance and was hopeful, but it was still awesome to win. I managed to get up the stairs to the stage, give my speech without crying (After the Nebula Awards I didn’t want to be the author who cries all the time.) (I saved it all up for Monday, when every time anyone said anything nice to me, I would start crying.) Managed to get down the Stairs of Doom backstage with the help of about four people, got stopped to get a photo outside the auditorium in the reception area, went back in the wrong door and could not get it open and had to thump on it until the backstage people heard me, and then got back to my seat in time to see Nnedi Okorafor win for Best YA novel and N.K. Jemisin win for Best Novel!

And she has some Worldcon photos on her Tumblr.

(2) DIGBY IN ONE PLACE. The Golds reminded readers today about the extended electronic edition of Tom Digby’s amazing fanwriting that’s available online, “Along Fantasy Way”. Originally produced for the 1993 Worldcon where Tom was a guest of honor, the collection was expanded in its 2014 digital version. What a treasure trove of wonderfully creative idea-tripping. Delightful poetry, too – for example:

…OR MINERAL(2/07/76)

Pet rocks are OK, but some people prefer more variety.
The guy upstairs from me
Has a 1947 Chevrolet engine block.
I think his apartment is too small for it,
But there it is.
And the family down the street
With the goldfish pond in the yard
Has an old ship’s anchor
To keep the fish company.

But of all the inorganic pets in the neighborhood,
The happiest is an old beer can
Belonging to a small boy.
It would never win a prize at a show:
Too many dents
And spots of rust
And paint flaking off.
And besides, it’s a brand of beer
Most people don’t like.
But that doesn’t really matter.
What matters is FUN
Like afternoons when they go for a walk:
The can leaps joyously ahead
CLATTERDY RATTLEDY CLANG BANG!
Then lies quietly waiting for its master to catch up
Before leaping ahead again.
I may get a beer can myself some day.

But I still don’t think it’s right
To keep a 1947 Chevrolet engine block
Cooped up in such a small apartment.

The collection is illustrated by Phil and Kaja Foglio.

(3) ALL BRADBURY ALL THE TIME. A very nice set of Bradbury quotes at Blackwing666: “Ray Bradbury – Born August 22, 1920”

(4) GUNNED DOWN. You could see this coming. The Hollywood Reporter says “‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ Production Put on Hold”. The studio still expects to make the movie later on.

Sources say that crewmembers, which is, at this stage, a small group that was prepping for preproduction, are being dismissed and are free to look for new work.

The Marvel project was originally to have been directed by James Gunn and was to have begun principal photography in the winter, either in January or February. The project was crewing up and was to have gone into full preproduction mode in the fall.

But Gunn was let go as the director in July when old tweets were resurfaced in response to his vocal political posts. While some held out hope that the director would be given a reprieve by Disney, a mid-August meeting with Disney chairman Alan Horn closed the door on that.

(5) LAST DAYS OF BANG ON EARTH. Big Bang Theory has started production of its final season.

Let What Culture tell you Why The Big Bang Theory Just Got Cancelled.

(6) HUGO STATISTIC. I don’t have time to check. Could be….

(7) HOW THEY STACK UP. Rocket Stack Rank’s Eric Wong writes:

With the recent release of the TOC for the Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy 2018 (BASFF), I’ve updated RSR’s 2017 Best SF/F Anthologies article with the 20 stories in that anthology plus their honorable mentions.

The grand total from five 2017 “year’s best” SF/F anthologies is 114 stories by 91 authors, from which we can make the following observations:

o   Magazines: Asimov’s (12), Clarkesworld (9), Lightspeed (9)

o   Anthologies: Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities (3/7), Extrasolar(5/14), Infinity Wars (5/15)

o   Nancy Kress (3), Rich Larson (3), Robert Reed (3), Alastair Reynolds(3)

To see other outstanding stories that didn’t make it into the five “year’s best” SF/F anthologies, go to RSR’s 2017 Best SF/F article, which has also been updated with the BASFF stories for a total of 256 stories by 201 authors.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 26, 1953The War of the Worlds premiered. (“Welcome to California!”)

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge]

  • Born August 26 — Katherine Johnson, 100. NASA mathematician and physicist awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom by Obama in 2015. Her work made space travel possible. And yes she’s African-American as well! (Makers has a post celebrating her birthday.)
  • Born August 26 — Barbara Ehrenreich, 77. Social activist and author of one genre novel, Kipper’s Game which gets compared to the works of Connie Willis.
  • Born August 26 — Stephen Fry, 61. Narrator, all of the Harry Potter audiobook recordings, Col. K. In the animated Dangermouse series and any number of other delightfully interesting genre related undertakings.
  • Born August 26 — Wanda De Jesus, 60. Genre work includes Robocop 2, SeaQuest 2032, Tales from The DarksideBabylon 5, and Ghosts of Mars
  • Born August 26 — Melissa McCarthy, 48. Now starring in The Happytime Murders which apparently is the first film from the adult division of Jim Henson Productions. Also Ghostbusters: Answer the Call.
  • Born August 26 — Chris Pine, 38. James T. Kirk in the current Trek film franchise; also Steve Trevor in the Wonder Woman film franchise as well as A Wrinkle in Time and Rise Of The Guardians.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Brevity shows some movie dinosaurs who keep comic back.

(11) SPACE ANNIVERSARY. JPL celebrates “15 Years in Space for NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope”, an instrument that has far outlasted its predicted useful life.

Launched into a solar orbit on Aug. 25, 2003, Spitzer was the final of NASA’s four Great Observatories to reach space. The space telescope has illuminated some of the oldest galaxies in the universe, revealed a new ring around Saturn, and peered through shrouds of dust to study newborn stars and black holes. Spitzer assisted in the discovery of planets beyond our solar system, including the detection of seven Earth-size planets orbiting the star TRAPPIST-1, among other accomplishments.

 

(12) OH NO, WHERE CAN THE MATTER BE. Gizmodo reports “Scientists Will Soon Drop Antimatter to See How It Behaves in Gravity”.

In a new study, physicists attempted to find differences between matter and antimatter—confusingly, also a kind of matter, but with the opposite charge and other differences. It’s like an evil twin. Confusingly, the universe has way more matter than antimatter, for no clear reason. Physicists haven’t found the specific differences they were looking for when studying the antimatter version of hydrogen, called antihydrogen, but they have demonstrated a way to study antimatter better than ever before.

Mike Kennedy forwarded the link with the note, “It’s a complicated story, and mostly about recent measurements of the Lyman-? emission lines of anti-hydrogen… in particular it being the same wavelength as for hydrogen <http://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0435-1>. The bit about laser cooling anti-hydrogen and dropping it to observe how it reacts to gravity is IIUC speculative at this point.”

(13) MORE ON NEXT SHATNER RECORD. SYFY Wire brings us news that William Shatner is releasing a holiday album (“William Shatner teases Christmas cover record: Shatner Claus”):

Set phasers to jolly.

The legendary actor and musician William Shatner is giving us another reason to be excited about the holiday season. Shatner tweeted the Amazon link to pre-order his first upcoming record: Shatner Claus The Christmas Album. You can add the self-described godfather of dramatic musical interpretation’s album digital audio, CD, or vinyl in your letter to the North Pole. With vinyl record sales on the constant rise, it’s exciting to see if this will find Shatner Claus’ sleigh riding its way to the top of the Billboard charts.

(14) JURASSIC BLETCHLEY PARK. In “Dinosaur DNA clues unpicked by researchers at University of Kent”, scientists are theorizing-from-clues that dinosaur DNA, like birds’, had many chromosomes, making mix-and-match easier.

Researchers at the University of Kent say their work uncovers the genetic secret behind why dinosaurs came in such a variety of shapes and sizes.

This variation helped the creatures evolve quickly in response to a changing environment – helping them to dominate Earth for 180 million years.

But the researchers behind the DNA work say they have no plans to recreate dinosaurs, Jurassic Park style.

(15) FLAME OFF. BBC assures us, “Yes, Antarctica has a fire department”.

But fighting fires in freezing temperatures also calls for some specialist equipment.

Surprisingly, water is still an option. McMurdo’s fire engine has a pump, which cycles water constantly through the vehicle to prevent it from freezing.

Remembering to set the pump going is, says Branson, a lesson quickly learned.

“You do not want to be the person who freezes all the water in the fire engine. Then you’re stuck with a 500 gallon engine with an ice block in it… and nobody on base is going to like you.”

(16) BEARLY VISIBLE. BBC has video: “Bear roams ‘The Shining’ hotel in Colorado”. It’s a good thing Jack Nicholson didn’t try swinging an axe at this guest….

A bear was filmed going through the lobby of the hotel that inspired Stephen King’s classic horror novel in Colorado.

(17) YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY. While excavating on YouTube, Carl Slaughter found Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (1965): “Frankenstein, ie, Frank the android, does battle with a Martian beast to prevent a Martian princess from replenishing Mars with voluptuous and sometimes bikini-clad Earth women.  The Pentagon monitors the situation and tries to lend Frank a hand.  Turns out Frank wears an Air Force uniform and holds military rank  – like Data.  This is in the so bad it’s good category.”

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

Pixel Scroll 8/16/18 Ralph12FifthC41+

(1) MUNDANE COVERAGE. The San Jose Mercury-News tells how “WorldCon brings science fiction’s best to San Jose”.

Thousands of fans and creators will celebrate science fiction and fantasy at the “World’s Fair of fandom,” which includes presentation of the prestigious Hugo Awards.

(2) WORLDCON 76 FASHION NOTES. I like these hats.

(3) MEXICANX INITIATIVE. Photo from W76 Opening Ceremonies:

(4) BIG HEART AWARD. Here’s Mike Glyer finding out from Greg Hullender that he won the Big Heart Award – at the File 770 meetup at the Forager. Photo by Eric Wong.

Greg Hullender and Mike Glyer

(5) IT’S ALIVE! Electric Lit features “Jeff VanderMeer and Nick Mamatas on the Death and Rebirth of the Short Story”. The occasion is the release of Nick Mamatas’ latest book, the story collection The People’s Republic of Everything.

Jeff VanderMeer: Short fiction was dead. Then it wasn’t. Let’s assume it’s alive. Why is it alive, if so?

Nick Mamatas: It’s alive for a couple of reasons. One is that just over a decade or so ago, bookstores finally understood that they could sell anthologies of short fiction by treating them as though they were non-fiction. People really do wander into bookstores and say things such as “I love The Walking Dead. Got any books about zombies?” or “I’ve been hearing a lot about steampunk?—?got anything that’ll explain it to me?” and a big anthology with reprints by prominent authors and new or at least obscure material by less well-known authors is basically a textbook designed to answer those questions. Phonebook-sized anthologies by you and Ann VanderMeer, or by John Joseph Adams, really grew a generation of readers.

(6) MARVEL, ESPN TEAM UP. These are pretty good. From CBSSports.com, “Look: ESPN, Marvel create College Football Playoff comic covers”. The headline is misleading. Not playoffs… opening weekend.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

Some cat humor (or is it?) at Maximumble.

(8) POUL ANDERSON ESTATE SALE. Karen Anderson passed away earlier this year, and all of Poul’s and her household items, books, pictures, etc., are on sale this weekend. Public notice on Facebook. Tons of pictures of items on sale here.

ESTATE SALE OF POUL ANDERSON

HUGO & NEBULA AWARD WINNING SCI-FI/FANTASY AUTHOR

SAT. & SUN. AUG 18 & 19

8:00am – 2:00pm

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

SATURDAY AUGUST 18TH

SUNDAY AUGUST 19TH

8:00AM – 2:00PM

(SUNDAY 1/2 OFF EVERYTHING)

SUNDAY AT 2:00PM I WILL BE TAKING OFFERS FOR THE REST OF THE UNSOLD ITEMS (BUT MUST BE REMOVED BY 3:00PM MONDAY 20TH)

7129 SAMOA PLACE
TUJUNGA CA 91042

(9) TODAY IN THEOLOGY. The Guardian — among other sources — has noted that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is not recognized as, well, as a church in the Netherlands (“Spaghetti injunction: Pastafarianism is not a religion, Dutch court rules”).

The Dutch council of state has ruled that Pastafarianism is not a religion, denying a follower of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster the right to wear a colander on her head in her passport and driving licence photo.

Mienke de Wilde is now considering taking her case to the European court of human rights.

The Netherlands’ highest court said de Wilde, a law student from Nijmegen, could not be exempted on religious grounds from a ban on headwear in official identity photographs, because Pastfarianism was essentially a satire and not a serious faith.

…De Wilde said the church was humorous but that did not mean it was not “very serious in what it stands for”. She was disappointed by the decision, which backed Nijmegen authorities’ rejection of her ID photos.

“I can imagine that it all looks very odd if you don’t believe,” she told the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper. “But that’s the case with many faiths if you don’t believe in them – people who walk on water or divide themselves in two, for example. I find other religions unbelievable.”

(10) MYSTERY AUTHOR. Wait, we’re not talking to JDA here?

(11) NO, THIS IS WHERE WE’RE HEARING FROM JDA. If you want to see footage of JDA wandering around the San Jose Convention Center today until he found somebody to kick him out, he’s happy to oblige:

(12) GROENING’S NEW SHOW. NPR’s Glen Weldon says: “In Matt Groening’s Fantasy Series ‘Disenchantment,’ The Humor Is Elf-Referential”

Disenchantment, Matt Groening’s new animated series that hits Netflix on Friday, August 17th, does for our mythical past what Futurama did for our imagined future, but it does so in a manner so closely reminiscent of that other show’s wryly cynical sci-fi hi-jinks that it could have just as easily been called Pastarama, if that didn’t sound quite so much like a seasonal promotion at Olive Garden.

(13) ANCIENT MIXOLOGY. Take 2 tbsp. myrrh… “Ancient Egyptian mummification ‘recipe’ revealed”. Major finding: mummification in Egypt is much older than was thought.

Examination of a mummy has revealed the original ancient Egyptian embalming recipe – first used to preserve bodies.

A battery of forensic chemical tests carried out on a mummy that dated from 3,700-3,500 BC revealed the recipe and confirmed that it was developed far earlier and used more widely than previously thought.

The Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy, is now home to the mummy in question.

The findings are published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Dr Stephen Buckley, an archaeologist from the University of York, told BBC News that this mummy “literally embodies the embalming that was at the heart of Egyptian mummification for 4,000 years”.

(14) WINGS OVER PANEGEA. “Winged reptiles thrived before dinosaurs”.

Palaeontologists have found a new species of pterosaur – the family of prehistoric flying reptiles that includes pterodactyl.

It is about 210 millions years old, pre-dating its known relatives by 65 million years.

Named Caelestiventus hanseni, the species’ delicate bones were preserved in the remains of a desert oasis.

The discovery suggests that these animals thrived around the world before the dinosaurs evolved.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Kendall, and James Davis Nicoll for some of these stories. Lots more material, but I’m tired tonight! Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Pixel Scroll 8/3/18 That’s The Pixel Scroll Eraser Button, You Fool!

(1) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman serves up a Sunday brunch with JY Yang in Episode 73 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

JY Yang is the author of the Tensorate series of novellas from Tor.Com Publishing, which so far includes The Red Threads of Fortune, The Black Tides of Heaven, and The Descent of Monsters, with a fourth still to come. Their short fiction has been published in more than a dozen venues, including Uncanny Magazine, Lightspeed, and Clarkesworld. And not only had The Black Tides of Heaven been on the Nebula Awards ballot that weekend, but it’s also on this year’s Hugo Awards and World Fantasy Awards ballots as well.

In previous incarnations, they’ve been a molecular biologist; a writer for animation, comics and games; a journalist for one of Singapore’s major papers, and a science communicator with Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research.

We met for Sunday brunch that weekend at Casbah, which offered a Mediterranean-inspired menu filled with comfort food. I’d heard good things about those Sunday brunches, and what I’d heard turned out to be true, because that morning’s braised lamb and eggs was the most umami-filled meal I had all weekend, and probably my favorite dish while in Pittsburgh.

We discussed why they consider themselves “a master of hermitry,” the catalyst that gave birth to their award-nominated Tensorate Universe, why they think of themselves as terrible at world-building, how their dislike of the Matt Damon movie The Great Wall gave them an idea for a novel, the surprising results after they polled fans on which of their works was most award-worthy, their beginnings writing Star Trek and Star Wars fan fiction, why they never played video games until their 30s, the Samuel R. Delany writing advice they hesitated to share, and much more.

(2) UNTOLD AI. At Medium.com there’s an interview with Chris Noessel, creator of the “What Stories aren’t we Telling Ourselves About AI” info graphic, which analyzed the themes of a large number of movies and shows about AI — “Untold AI?—?A conversation with Chris Noessel of SciFi Interfaces”

It goes quite a bit into the process behind creating the poster, “Untold AI: Poster”.

The AP: This was a pretty massive project, what was the scope and parameters of what you were going to look at?

CN: Oh my yes it was. It took nights and weekends for several months after Juvet. (And it’s still going!)

The scope was big by design. I wanted it to be pretty comprehensive. My authority and expertise in this domain is built on screen sci-fi, since you need to see a thing in use before you can evaluate it. That means movies and TV shows. There’s a lot of sci-fi literature that investigates AI (for instance, I’m reading the Culture series right now by Ian Banks, and it’s got AI baked deep into its worldbuilding), but I just don’t have authority in that domain. But still, screen sci-fi is massive, and I like to be as comprehensive as possible. So I looked back through all the movies and TV shows I could find that had an AI component: A robot, a spaceship AI, a disembodied one. I looked at lists people had collected online. I looked for keywords on IMDb. I don’t think I got them all, but I think I got most.

I’d have liked to include more narrow AI, but that would have expanded the survey of shows by an order of magnitude, and ultimately, the purpose of the project is to help guide sci-fi to be in-line with the science so we hedge our bets in the right way. Narrow AI is already here in the world around us (and less of an existential threat) so there’s not as much need to address it at scope.

(3) CREWED TALK. On Twitter, Karen James, a biologist, points out that instead of saying space missions are manned, one should say “crewed”, as outlined in NASA’s actual style guide: “All references referring to the space program should be non-gender specific (e.g. human, piloted, un-piloted, robotic).”

Unsurprisingly, she gets a lot of pushback in the comments. She does have Phil Plait and Elizabeth Moon weighing in on her side. The thread starts here.

The Planetary Society wrote about non-gendered nomenclature in 2015: “Finding new language for space missions that fly without humans”:

Historically, human spaceflight was described using the words “manned” and “unmanned,” but NASA has shifted to using gender-neutral words to describe human space exploration. Since 2006, the NASA History Program Office Style Guide has stated:

All references referring to the space program should be non-gender specific (e.g. human, piloted, un-piloted, robotic). The exception to the rule is when referring to the Manned Spacecraft Center, the predecessor to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, or any other official program name or title that included “manned” (e.g. Associate Administrator for Manned Spaceflight).

(4) POOH CRACKDOWN. Winnie’s a controversial bear there: “Disney’s ‘Christopher Robin’ Won’t Get China Release Amid Pooh Crackdown”.

For only the second time this year, a Disney movie has been denied release in China. Christopher Robin, a live-action/CGI family film that stars Ewan McGregor, received a no-go from the country’s film authorities.

No reason was given for the denial, but a source pinned the blame on China’s crackdown on images of the Winnie the Pooh character, which is featured in a central role in Christopher Robin. Last summer, authorities began blocking pictures of Winnie the Pooh on social media given that the character has become a symbol of the resistance in China with foes of the ruling Communist Party, namely Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Bloggers have drawn comparisons between the pudgy bear and Xi, which has put the country’s censors in overdrive. In June, Chinese authorities blocked HBO after Last Week Tonight host John Oliver mocked Xi’s sensitivity over being compared to Winnie the Pooh.

But an insider counters that the decision likely has to do with the size and scope of the film given the foreign film quota and the fact that there are several new Hollywood tentpoles in the Chinese market right now.

The New York Times explains the political significance of Pooh in this February 2018 article — “China’s Censors Ban Winnie the Pooh and the Letter ‘N’ After Xi’s Power Grab”.

…But the move to abolish term limits, announced on Sunday, has resurrected deeper fears in Chinese society, where memories remain of the personality cult of China’s founding father, Mao Zedong, and the fevered emotions and chaos that it conjured.

Anxious to suppress criticism, and maintain an appearance of mass support, the Communist Party’s censors have scoured the internet and social media for content deemed subversive. The sanitizing has included many images of Winnie the Pooh — Mr. Xi is sometimes likened to the cartoon bear — and search terms like “my emperor,” “lifelong” and “shameless.”

For a short time, even the English letter “N” was censored, according to Victor Mair, a University of Pennsylvania professor, apparently to pre-empt social scientists from expressing dissent mathematically: N > 2, with “N” being the number of Mr. Xi’s terms in office.

(5) CON MARKETING. Savan Gupta can’t stand it anymore [Facebook link].

Okay. I am going to give away some advice that I usually charge HARD CASH for, as part of my consulting services, as I need to stop seeing such mediocrity glut my feed….

Branding – This is key. There are certain universal standards, of clean design. Your branding should reflect your event, your values, and your overall identity. It’s so much more than ‘just grab a font you like’. And yes, all of us have had a learning curve with this. Hell, I keep copies of my older foibles in my wallet, to remind me of where I’ve been, and the constant quest for improvement. The Key here is, you have to LOVE it. You and your team. Not ‘like’ it, LOVE it. To pine and suffer and STRIVE to bear that standard through thick and thin, and hold it above the dirt-and-water line, brandishing it. Without that, you WILL be surpassed by some upstart that simply CARES more about these things, and is willing to learn faster. Clean design be damned, speaking as that upstart that has repeatedly surpassed my contemporaries. Hell, we’ve seen “Fuzzy McDumpTruck” and his five-ring-Latrine fire parade march some EGREGIOUS HORSE SHIT, that disrespected his endeavors, his performers, and his vendors. To the point of getting names and web URLs wrong (having skipped and skimped on hiring the usual professionals who prevented him from looking *quite* like a bag of ass). And yet, the band played on, and he continued to fail upwards, due to some reject OSHO grade Cult-Leadership skills, and being zealously in love with every derpy idea his pop-rocks-and-soda brain excreted. Because yes, you can actually polish a turd with Heat and Pressure. It won’t be a diamond. But it will not longer be a turd.

I don’t know how much of this will be new to you, but it’s very lively writing….

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born August 3, 1904 – Clifford D. Simak
  • Born August 3 — Martin Sheen, 78. Uncle Ben in both the of The Amazing Spider-Man films. Roles also in Total Recall 2070Babylon 5: The River of Souls, The Outer Limits, The Dead ZoneBeyond the Stars (another riff on the Apollo mission), Spawn and voice work in the animated Captain Planet and the Planeteers series.
  • Born August 3 — John Landis, 68. Extensive genre work as producer or executive producer including the Michael Jackson ‘Thriller’ video, Twilight Zone: The Movie, some episodes of the Honey, I Shrunk the KidsWeird Science and Sliders series, a one-off Munsters Christmas special, The Lost Worldgilm and series which are not related to each other and the forthcoming An American Werewolf in London. Oh and Clue which I adore even if it’s not genre.
  • Born August 3 — John C. McGinley, 59. Extensive voice work in such animated productions as Spider-Man, Justice League UnlimitedSuperman/Batman: Public Enemies and Justice League; live work in Highlander II: The QuickeningIt’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and the current demon hunting entered Stan Against Evil.
  • Born August 3 — Michael Ealy, 45. Dorian, an android police officer, in the short-lived Almost Human series, Leo the equally short-lived FlashForward series and the Underworld Awakening film in which vampires and werewolves team up to destroy humanity.
  • Born August 3 — Evangeline Lilly, 39. MCU films such as Ant-Man and the Wasp as The Wasp, two of the Hobbit films as Tauriel, and in the Lost series as Katherine ‘Kate’ Austen. Also in Freddy vs. Jason and in multiple nameless roles in the Smallville series.
  • Born August 3 — Hannah Simone, 38. A role in the film remake of The Greatest American Hero, The H+ series in which humanity is nearly wiped and addicted to the internet and host for several seasons of the WCG Ultimate Gamer series.
  • Born August 3 — Max Landis, 33. Son of Joe Landis. Wrote a run of Superman comics called ‘Superman: American Alien’, writer of the Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency series.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) THIRTEENTH DOCTOR LOOT. The Time Ladies will tell you about it: “Merchandise of the Thirteenth Doctor”. For example –

Titan Kawaii Thirteenth Doctor

If the adventure doll isn’t quite for you, then how about a cutesy, kawaii version of our first female Doctor? The Kawaii Thirteenth Doctor Titan figure is ADORABLE and brightens any shelf. With her huge painted eyes and exaggerated features, we couldn’t help but pop her straight into our basket. The 6” figure launched at SDCC a few weeks ago but is available to order from Forbidden Planet now.

Order Titan’s Kawaii Thirteenth Doctor figure here

(9) BEDROCK CONFIDENTIAL. NPR’s Mallory Yu reviews a comic-book reboot: “Yabbadabba-What? These Aren’t The Flintstones You Remember”.

…But before he could tackle that dark comedy, Russell says, he “really wanted to start with the characters and make them relatable and sympathetic, because they’re basically just living their lives.” He credits artist Steve Pugh with bringing humanity to his characters: “You can see the personalities, really, in their design. Fred’s a big beefy guy, looks like he played football in high school and has kind of let himself go since then, but he’s got a lot of love and sadness in his face.”

Fred’s an Everyman in Russell’s Bedrock, a veteran who’s haunted by his actions during the “Paleolithic Wars.” And remember his famous “Yabbadabbadoo?” Russell “sort of turned it into a nonsense mantra to help them deal with PTSD and stress of everyday life.”

Russell says he was able to bend and twist the Flintstones’ world because he didn’t have a lot of childhood nostalgia for the cartoons. “Nothing was sacred, in fact, that was kind of my mission. This was not going to be some reverential homage to The Flintstones.” So Fred works for a terrible boss at a terrible job, trying to make just enough money to afford the latest household appliance. Or, as Russell calls it, “the exploitation of animals as free labor, which to me it’s like they’re the interns of the prehistoric world.”

(10) HEAD SPACE. “Asgardia: the problems in building a space society” — liberal and not-so-liberal rules.

…The constitution also contains some other red flags for utopians:

“To ensure information security, the Government regulates the circulation of certain types of information”.

Asgardia’s “legal instruments” include not only “referendum decisions” and “Acts of Parliament”, but also “decrees of the head of nation”.

Also, Asgardia’s head of nation has the constitutional power to nominate his successor “on the basis of genealogy or on any other basis”. Candidates may also be nominated by the parliament and the Supreme Space Council”, but it’s the Head of Nation who appoints the Chairman of the Space Council, which “is a special governance body” that reports to, guess who, the Head of Nation.

The head of nation also “appoints and removes” the supreme justice of the court and the prosecutor general. Additionally, he or she “has the right to veto candidates” for other top positions, including the National Bank of Asgardia and justices of the court. And to “dissolve Parliament”.

(11) MORE FROM THE SHIRE. More from the Shire: “Small height evolved twice on ‘Hobbit’ island of Flores” – the island’s current short inhabitants are not descended from branch recently discovered.

Scientists decoded the DNA of modern-day “pygmy” people to find out if they might be partly descended from the extinct Hobbit species.

The remains of these Hobbits were found during an archaeological dig on Flores 15 years ago.

The new analysis, published in the journal Science, found no trace of the Hobbit’s DNA in the present-day people.

This is important because some scientists had wondered whether modern humans (Homo sapiens) could have mixed with the Hobbit population when they first arrived on the island thousands of years ago. In theory, this could have led to Hobbit genes being passed down into living people on the island.

(12) THUNDER TOES. Nature found a big foot, so to speak “A dinosaur that stomped the Jurassic scene on size XXXXL feet”.

Large reptile had bigger clodhoppers than any other dinosaur of its kind.

Enormous toe bones excavated in Wyoming belonged to a dinosaur whose feet were more than 1 metre wide — probably a record for dinosaur foot size.

The owner of the gargantuan feet was a sauropod, a group that includes the biggest known dinosaurs. No other known sauropod foot is bigger than the Wyoming animal’s, say Anthony Maltese at the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center in Woodland Park, Colorado, Emanuel Tschopp at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and their colleagues. The fossils bear similarities to those of sauropods called brachiosaurs, which could measure 25 metres long.

The dinosaur, which lived roughly 150 million to 160 million years ago, walked on four legs, but the authors whimsically nicknamed it “the real Bigfoot”.

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 7/24/18 Interpixellary Loan Material: Do Not Remove This Scroll

(1) ASIA SF ASSOCIATION FOUNDED. The Asia Science Fiction Association held its first meeting on July 17 and chose these officers:

  • President: Liu Cixin (author Three-Body Problem)
  • Secretary: YK Yoon (Vice Chair, Korea SF Association)
  • Deputy Secretary: Regina Kanyu Wang  (Co-founder of Applecore), Feng Zhang (FAA), Dr. Arvind Mishra (secretary, Indian Science Fiction Writers Association)
  • Members: representatives of China, Egypt, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam etc.)

The Goals of the Society are:

a) to find ways and means of establishing contacts between the Science Fiction (SF) professionals and fans;

b) to ensure better mutual knowledge of SF literature and arts and of fandom activity in the Asian countries;

c) to propose the cognition of Asian SF in the rest of the world.

The first Asiacon will be held in Chengdu in 2019. Date and venue TBC.

More information about ASFA can be found on their website and Facebook.

(2) FUTURE TENSE. Joey Eschrich, Editor and Program Manager, Center for Science and the Imagination, and Assistant Director, Future Tense, sent the link to the latest story in the Future Tense Fiction series: “The Starfish Girl” by Maureen McHugh.

… LIAM CHAN (VOICE-OVER)
In 2017, Jinky was 11 years old, one of the top-ranked junior gymnasts in the U.S. Her family was contemplating an offer to train at the Iowa facility owned by gold-medal gymnast and coach, Gabby Douglas, when tragedy struck. During a routine vault in practice, Jinky overrotated, landed wrong, and fractured her spine, at the C5 vertebra.

She was paralyzed from the neck down. It seemed as if her gymnastics career, indeed, life as she knew it, was over.

CUT TO: Clip of J Mendoza in hospital bed, balloons.

LIAM CHAN (VOICE-OVER)
Then doctors proposed a radical new medical procedure. They would use starfish DNA to teach her body how to heal itself. The results were miraculous.

It was published along with a response essay by sports historian Victoria Jackson, “How Should Officials Decide When Cutting-Edge Medical Interventions for Athletes Cross the Line?”

Are elite athletes who undergo cutting-edge medical interventions after injuries benefiting from performance enhancement, and doing so to the degree that they should be barred from competition? What if the athlete suffered from an injury so traumatic that it made the medical intervention necessary? And anyway, if we expect these world-class athletes to strive to be the best—you know, whatever it takes—why should the organizations that govern competition have the power to force athletes out of certain treatments they deem to be on the bad side of “clean sports”?

(3) KHAN MAN. Theoden James, in “William Shatner explains why he refuses to watch ‘Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan’ again” in the Charlotte Observer, says that William Shatner will be in Charlotte this Sunday as part of a nationwide tour where people see Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan and then chat with Shat for an hour.  Shatner says that he’s still touring at 87 because “every time I wake up on a bad mattress, I know how heroic this is” and then plugs his two new albums, including his holiday album “Shatner Claus.”

What other projects have you got going on this year?

I’ve got two albums coming out, a country music album and a Christmas album. The country music album, called “Why Not Me?,” will be out in middle of the summer (Aug. 10), and then the Christmas album will be out in October. In between, there’s a book called “Live Long and …” We’re putting the final touches on it now, and I just keep thinking, “God, there’s something more I could have done there. I wish I’d done something here or something there.” There’s always this self-criticism, especially when you don’t have the ability to change anything anymore. And that’s frustrating. But you try and bring the lessons along for the next time.

And what’s the Christmas album called?

“Shatner Claus.”

That’s a great title. Did you come up with it?

No, I wish I had. I remember I was in a room somewhere with a few people, and somebody said, “What’ll we call it?” I said, “Gee, I don’t know.” Then somebody popped up with “Shatner Claus,” and we all laughed and said, “That’s it!” Just like you did. That settled it. There was no more discussion.

(4) QUACK AUDITION. Io9 has a rumor about DuckTales:

Don Cheadle—noted survivor of Thanos’ wrath—is the new voice of Donald Duck in a preview from Comic Con.

(5) THE YEAR OF THE EMERGENCY HOLOGRAPHIC TEXANS. Fanhistory resource Fanac.org has added videos of LoneStarCon 2’s 1997 Hugo Ceremony.

Part 1 (40 min.)

In this video, first Neal Barrett, Jr. delivers some comedic remarks. There are philosophy jokes, famous writer jokes, and even a National Republican Party Loyalty Test (which has nothing to do with politics). Next, there are presentations of several other awards, including the Seiun Awards and acceptance speech by Rob Sawyer, Forry Ackerman’s announcement of the Big Heart Award, and Stanley Schmidt’s presentation of the John Campbell award. Thanks to ALAMO (Alamo Literary Arts Maintenance Organization, Inc) for both these videos.

 

Part 2 (1:07 hr.)

In this video, the Hugos are awarded, interspersed with funny comments by Toastmaster Neal Barrett.

Presenters include Teddy Harvia, Pat Cadigan, Ellen Datlow, Guest of Honor Don Maitz, Robert Silverberg, Michael Moorcock and Algis Budrys.

Recipients include Martin Hoare, accepting for David Langford (with an unusual acceptance speech), Bob Eggleton (with much ado about hair), Gardner Dozois, Connie Willis and George R.R. Martin. George talks about his winning novella which is part of his novel, Game of Thrones. Stanley Kim Robinson won the Hugo for Best Novel at this event.

 

(6) RE-BUFFY. The Hollywood Reporter says “‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ Inclusive Reboot in the Works With Joss Whedon”

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is getting the reboot treatment.

20th Century Fox Television, who produced the original Joss Whedon drama, has offered a new take on the beloved Sarah Michelle Gellar drama in development. Writer Monica Owusu-Breen, who worked with Whedon on ABC’s Agents of SHIELD, has been hired to pen the adaptation and serve as showrunner on the reboot.

Whedon will be an executive producer on the series and has been working with Owusu-Breen on the script, which features a black actress stepping into the role of Buffy made famous by Gellar.

(7) UPC SCIENCE-FICTION AWARD. The Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) has announced there’ll be a new award for SF and fantastic literature in Spain. (English translation, edited.)

The UPC [Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya en Barcelona] Science-Fiction Award will be given at the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival

UPC, the Social Council of the University and the Sitges Foundation International Film Festival of Catalonia have signed, on July 20, an agreement through which the International Fantastic Film Festival of Sitges will host the award ceremony of the UPC Prize of Science-Fiction 2018, a prize that rewards unpublished stories in this literary genre.

The award ceremony of the UPC Science-Fiction Award will be held within the framework of the 51st International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia , which will take place in Sitges from October 4 to 14, 2018.

The awards ceremony will take place, In particular, during the Taboo’ks day , dedicated to fantastic literature and its connection to the audiovisual sector and whose goal is to be the seed of a future market for literary rights aimed at the audiovisual sector. Taboo’ks, which is supported by the Federation of Publishers’ Guild of Spain and the Saló Liber, will host the presentation of four works that can be adapted to the cinema and a project adapted to it.

The UPC Prize of Science-Fiction 2018 , organized by the Social Council of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) since 1991, was convened in January of this year and the deadline for submission of candidatures ended the past June 15 The jury of the prize will meet next September to decide the winning works.

The agreement signed with the International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia Foundation also provides for the exploration of other avenues of collaboration with the UPC in future editions of the Festival, such as the organization of a hackató to design 3D models of characters Fantastic or a test competition to be overcome from a smartphone with geolocation.

(8) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

Nancy Lee Carlson won the Apollo 11 bag used by Neil Armstrong to collect moon dust for NASA in a lawsuit when the agency claimed it was their property. Carlson had purchased the bag for $995 at a government auction and sent it to NASA to be authenticated. The agency refused to return it so Carlson took them to court in Houston. Last year the judge awarded Carlson the bag, which she eventually sold for $1.8 million at Sotheby’s. [Source: Mental Floss]

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born July 24 – Lynda Carter, 67. Wonder Woman series, of course, but genre roles include the Supergirl and Smallville series, and Slayer, a vampire film. Rumoured to have role in the forthcoming Wonder Woman film but that’s very much unconfirmed even at the just held SDCC.
  • Born July 24 – Doug Liman, 53. Producer, Knight Rider reboot, and the Nightflyers series where a crew of space explorers are on a mission to find and explore a mysterious alien ship. Gee I’m sure this has been done before…
  • Born July 24 – Patty Jenkins, 47. Wonder Woman and Wonder Woman 1984, appears in Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics as herself in “The Truth About Wonder Woman” episode.
  • Born July 24 – Rose Byrne, 39. Roles in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones and several X-Men films; also in Peter Rabbit.
  • Born July 24 – Anna Paquin, 36. Sookie Stackhouse in the True Blood series,  and Rogue in the X-Men film franchise.
  • Born July 24 – Elisabeth Moss, 36. Roles in The Handmaid’s Tale, the animated Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, Ghost Whisperer, Medium, The Animaniacs and Batman: The Animated Series.
  • Born July 24 – Emily Bett Rickards, 27. Felicity Smoak in the Arrowverse, live and animated alike, also Paranormal Solutions Inc., a ghost hunters series, and Soldiers of the Apocalypse.

(10) WORLDCON 76 – NEW PROGRESS REPORT. Worldcon 76 Progress Report 4 can be downloaded by anyone.

Progress Report 4 is now available online. Over the next week, if you opted in to paper copies, you should see it in the mail. Check inside for information about Traincon, Tours, more places to visit while you’re in SJ (including wine country!), a shopping guide, and more memories from fans.

(11) WORLDCON 76 CHILD CARE.

(12) WTF? Yahoo! Entertainment is reporting “Marvel Provided Grief Counseling Sessions at Comic-Con for People Still Devastated by ‘Infinity War’ Ending”.

Marvel fans attending San Diego Comic-Con 2018 didn’t get the chance to see any footage from “Captain Marvel” or the upcoming fourth “Avengers” movie, but they did get a chance to grieve together over the “Infinity War” ending that left Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Star Lord, Black Panther, and more superheroes dead. As reported by io9’s Germain Lussier, Marvel set up a booth near Petco Park in San Diego that offered grief counseling sessions for upset fans.

The booth featured posters with positive affirmation quotes like “We Are Groot” and “You are Stronger Than Vibranium.” Once inside, a group of 10-12 fans met with an actor posing as a counselor. The session included fans working their way through the following questions: What’s your first memory of the MCU? What was something it did that surprised you? What was it like when you saw the end of ‘Infinity War’? Who was the most shocking loss?

The final part of the process was the chance to take a group hug photo with a giant Hulk. While inside the booth, fans were treated to donuts and got the chance to watch a deleted scene from the movie. You can read more about the Marvel booth at io9.

(13) MAY WE PRAY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A rare authenticated Lunar Landed microfilm copy of the Bible—this one from Apollo 14—is going up for auction (LiveScience: “Rare ‘Lunar Bible’ That Visited the Moon Is Up for Auction”).

During the height of the race to the Moon, the Apollo Prayer League sponsored microfilmed copies of the King James Bible to sent on various Apollo missions. There were reportedly 512 copies on Apollo 14 alone, though only 100 of them were put in the Lunar Module to make the trip all the way to the Lunar surface.

Hundreds of these so-called lunar Bibles — 512, to be exact — were bundled in packets and carried by Apollo 14 to the moon. The lunar module held 100 copies, 200 copies were officially stowed in the command module and an additional 212 copies were secretly hidden aboard by NASA microbiologist and [Apollo Prayer League (APL)] board member Harold Hill prior to launch, according to APL.

Of those, 100 Bibles reached the moon’s surface with Mitchell. Only 11 copies of the Apollo 14 lunar Bibles bear official letters of authenticity signed by both [Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell] and [APL director Rev. John M. Stout…]

The microfilm has been “mounted and framed in a gold-and-enamel setting” and the auction includes the Mitchell/Stout authenticity certification. Online bidding opens at $50,000 and runs through at least 5 PM PDT Thursday 26 July 2018. The auction is being handled by Nate D. Sanders Auctions.

(14) MORE POPULAR THAN JESUS? “Facebook angers Flanders with Rubens ban” – a classic painting is barred from FB due to underdressed corpse.

The Flanders Tourist Board has written an open letter protesting against Facebook’s “cultural censorship” of adverts showing paintings by Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens.

The removed ad featured the artist’s The Descent from the Cross, which shows a bare-chested Jesus.

Following the ban, the authority made a satirical video with fake investigators ushering visitors out of a museum after they looked at similar paintings.

Facebook has not yet responded.

(15) PRESENT AT THE CREATION. In “China fossil tells new supercontinent story”, BBC reports on evidence that Pangaea lasted longer than previously thought.

A newly discovered dinosaur may be re-writing China’s geological history, according to recent findings.

The latest addition to the family of giant, long-necked dinosaurs known as sauropods, Lingwulong shenqi lived in the north of the country about 174 million years ago.

At this time, East Asia was thought to have split from the supercontinent Pangaea.

But Lingwulong may be evidence that that was not the case.

(16) NOT THAT YOU ASKED. Ron Charles in the Washington Post reports that a paper by four Dartmouth professors, led by anthropologist Nathaniel J. Dominy and English professor Donald J. Pease, conclude that the Lorax is based on patas monkeys Theodore Geisel saw during a trip to Kenya in 1970: “Is Dr. Seuss’s Lorax real? These professors may have solved a 47-year-old mystery”.

Now, almost a half-century after the Lorax first popped out of a stump, his real identity can be revealed. Four scholars, led by Dominy, explain their method like this: “We used eigenface decomposition methods to calculate facial similarities and we generated the plot with t-distributed stochastic neighbor embedding (t-SNE), an iterative algorithm that down-projects multidimensional information into two dimensions for visualization.”

About now, you may be thinking, “I would not read that on a boat, I would not read that with a goat,” but hang on. That’s just a fancy way of saying that the scientists fed photos of monkeys and illustrations of the Lorax into a computer to determine the closest match

(17) COMIC (HOPEFULLY) RELIEF. I’ll probably wind up being sorry I laughed at this.

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