Pixel Scroll 7/14/18 Did You Feed Them After Midnight? Well, I Gave Them Some Pixels

(1) STOKERCON 2020 AWARDED TO UK. The Horror Writers Association will hold StokerCon in the UK for the first time in 2020.

The Horror Writers Association is very happy to announce that the 2020 StokerCon™ will be held April 16-19 at the historic Royal and Grand Hotels in Scarborough, England. For the first time, HWA’s annual gathering will be held outside of the USA, but will continue to incorporate such popular StokerCon programming as Horror University, the Final Frame Short Film Competition, the Ann Radcliffe Academic Conference and the presentation of the iconic Bram Stoker Awards®. HWA’s President Lisa Morton noted: “HWA is committed to celebrating horror around the world, so I’m especially pleased that our fifth annual StokerCon will be held in the UK, where we have such a committed, strong chapter.” More information on StokerCon UK, including website and ticket sales portal, will be announced soon.

(2) BRADBURY MURAL. The Chicago Tribune interviews the creator: “Artist behind Ray Bradbury mural in Waukegan hopes his work will inspire kids who don’t have access to art”.

The little boy wore white-framed sunglasses, his stance confident as he stared into the sun.

Everett Reynolds, a 23-year-old Waukegan resident, stood on a stepladder, adding detail and depth to one of the boy’s hands.

The boy, wearing a homemade astronaut suit with a matching backpack made with two-liter bottles, was the center of Reynolds’ original concept for the mural, which he’s been painting on the side of the Zuniga Automotive Service and Towing building on Belvidere Road.

“I wanted to put up something that symbolized forward thinking and to dream big,” he said….

Everett Reynolds, a Waukegan artist, paints a mural Thursday, July 12, on the Zuniga Automotive Service and Towing building on Belvidere Road. The mural aims to inspire kids “to dream big” and pays tribute to Waukegan native Ray Bradbury. (Emily K. Coleman / News-Sun)

(3) YA HORROR. The Horror Writers Association has revived its YA blog. The first installment, “Q&A for The Frightful Ride of Michael McMichael”, features interviews with author Bonny Becker and the appropriately-named illustrator Mark Fearing.

Whether you write horror for young people, or want to share more horror stories with the kids in your life, check in every Monday for Young Horror Writing Prompts and every other Thursday for new articles and interviews. Managing members Ally Russell, Mac Childs, and Shanna Heath have each graduated from Children’s Literature professional programs, and are eager to let you pick (not eat) their brains about Young Horror.

Future Young Horror feature topics include: weekly writing prompts; best horror picture/board books; author Q&A’s and podcast episodes; diseases in horror tips and tricks; secrets of a horror-loving children’s librarian; why write short-form horror for kids and teens; and more.

(4) VENERABLE AUDIENCE. James Davis Nicoll flips the script in “Old People Read New SFF: Tongtong’s Summer by Xia Jia”.

For the second entry in Old People Read New SFF, I chose Xia Jia’s Tongtong’s Summer. I selected it because of the authors in Ken Liu’s exemplary anthology Invisible Planets, Xia Jia’s skillful combination of fantasy and science fiction—what the author called porridge fiction—was the fiction I liked best. Of the three Xia Jia works on offer in Invisible Planets, Tongtong’s Summer (available here) was by far my favourite. I grant “I liked it so surely my readers will too,” generally blew up in my face over on the Young People of the project but if there’s anything experiences teaches me, it is that I don’t learn from experience! Surely the Old People will like this example of recent speculative fiction! After all, I did.

(5) LESSONS FROM SPACE. As part of their One Strange Rock series, National Geographic has published an interview with Cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, who holds the record for most cumulative days (879) spent in space.

Q: What can we learn from the way the space station is run?

A: During the last 20 years, I’ve been working in an international project. I visited the U.S. several times per year. Canada, Europe, Japan—all the countries that participated in this project. I have lots of friends. And being in space, flying above, we knew that whatever the situation is, we knew that the life of your friend depends upon you, too.

The major thing, actually, that I have gained during space training was friendship. I started it in 1989, the end of Cold War, and our first project was the Mir shuttle project. We started to meet with the Americans and European space people. And then ISS project, it has brought us even closer to each other. And we are tied up so tightly that we can’t live in space without each other.

This is probably my best discovery, that the people of different nations, from different countries, under very severe conditions, can work very successfully, can be friendly all the time, understand each other, though their situations are sometimes really stressful.

But there’s something wrong in the fact that only such difficulties as I’ve just mentioned unite people. This is wrong. There should be something else.

(6) CONTINUED NEXT ROCK. Vice headline: “This Bizarre Monument Is All That Will Remain of Humanity in 4,000 Years”. Sub-head: “Jacques André-Istel has written the history of the world on stone in the middle of the desert.”

Just across the California border from Yuma, Arizona, lies the town of Felicity, established in 1986 by now 89-year-old Jacques André-Istel. Pretty much the only reason you’d ever visit the town is to see another creation of his, the Museum of History in Granite.

The outdoor museum is made up of a series of 100 foot-long granite panels engraved with a history of civilization as a record for future generations, sorted into categories like History of California and History of Humanity. According to Istel, they’re designed to last for 4,000 years, to serve as a record of our time for future beings, whether from Earth or elsewhere.

(7) SOMETIMES THEY DO GET FURRY. At Green Man Review, Cat Rambo branches out: “An Armload of Fur and Leaves”.

In the last year or so, I found a genre that hadn’t previously been on my radar, but which I really enjoy: furry fiction. Kyell Gold had put up his novel Black Angel on the SFWA member forums, where members post their fiction so other members have access to it when reading for awards, and I enjoyed it tremendously. The novel, which is part of a trilogy about three friends, each haunted in their own way, showed me the emotional depth furry fiction is capable of and got me hooked. Accordingly, when I started reviewing for Green Man Review, I put out a Twitter call and have been working my way through the offerings from several presses.

Notable among the piles are the multiplicity by T. Kingfisher, aka Ursula Vernon, and two appear in this armload. Clockwork Boys, Clocktaur War Book One (Argyll Productions, 2017) is the promising start to a fantasy trilogy featuring a lovely understated romance between a female forger and a paladin, while Summer in Orcus (Sofawolf Press, cover and interior art by Lauren Henderson) is aimed at younger readers and will undoubtedly become one of those magical books many kids will return to again and again, until Vernon is worshipped by generations and prepared to conquer the world. Honestly, I will read anything Kingfisher/Vernon writes, and highly recommend following her on Twitter, where she is @UrsulaV….

(8) JENSON OBIT. Oscar-nominated visual effects artist George Jenson (1930-2018) died May 25. The Hollywood Reporter profiled his career: “George Jenson, Illustrator on ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ and ‘Return of the Jedi,’ Dies at 87”.

George Jenson, an Oscar-nominated visual effects artist, illustrator and art director who worked on such films as Close Encounters of the Third KindReturn of the Jedi and Everybody’s All-American, has died. He was 87.

Jenson died May 25 in Henderson, Nevada, of complications from melanoma, publicist Rick Markovitz announced.

A native of Canada who specialized in science fiction, Jenson received his Oscar nomination for his visual effects efforts on the 1984 film 2010, Peter Hyams’ sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Jenson was hired by Steven Spielberg and served as the director’s production illustrator on Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and 1941 (1979), then worked on such films as 9 to 5 (1980), Looker (1981), Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi (1983), Christine (1983), Romancing the Stone (1984) and Red Dawn (1984).

(9) PERRY OBIT. Occasional genre actor Roger Perry died July 12: “Roger Perry, Actor on ‘Star Trek,’ ‘The Munsters’ and ‘The Facts of Life,’ Dies at 85”.

Also, on a 1965 episode of CBS’ The Munsters, Perry played a young man with admirable intentions who’s out to rescue the beautiful niece Marilyn (Pat Priest) from a band of ghouls. However, they are, of course, members of her loving family.

On the big screen, Perry appeared in not one but two Count Yorga movies; was a doctor in the infamous Ray Milland and Rosey Grier classic, The Thing With Two Heads (1972); and played the father of Linda Blair’s flautist character in the musical drama Roller Boogie (1979).

On the first-season Star Trek episode “Tomorrow Is Yesterday,” which debuted in January 1967, Perry starred as Capt. John Christopher, an Air Force pilot in the 1960s who is suddenly transported aboard the Enterprise in the future.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born July 14 – Joel Silver, 66. Producer of, among many projects, Weird Science, Streets Of Fire, Predator and Predator 2, Demolition ManTales from the Cryptkeeper and Tales from the Crypt animated series, The Matrix and Sherlock Holmes franchises, V for Vendetta and an apparent forthcoming reboot of Logan’s Run.
  • Born July 14 – Scott Rudin, 60. Producer of the forthcoming Justice League Dark live action film (this being Warner, there’s already a splendid animated one) plus Annihilation, The Addams Family Values, Jennifer 8, The Truman ShowA Series of Unfortunate Events, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Isle of Dogs to name some of his work.
  • Born July 14 – Jackie Earle Haley, 57. Roles in RoboCop,  Watchmen and A Nightmare on Elm Street; series work in The Planet Of The Apes, The Tick, Human Target, Valley of the Dinosaurs and Preacher.
  • Born July 14 – Matthew Fox, 52. Lost and Lost: Missing Pieces, other genre work includes World War Z, Speed Racer and the Haunted series.
  • Born July 14 – Scott Porter, 39. Roles in Scorpion and Caprica, the X-Men and Ultimate Spider-Man animated series and myriad genre video games.
  • Born July 14 – Sara Canning, 31. Major roles in A Series of Unfortunate Events,  Primeval: New World and The Vampire Dairies, also appeared in Once Upon a Time, War for the Planet Of The Apes, Android Employed, Supernatural and Smallville to name some of her other genre work.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) LIFE EXPECTANCY OF COMICS. The Los Angeles Times’ Geoff Boucher analyzes why “Superheroes are thriving in movies and on TV — but comic books lag behind”.

Few people in Hollywood have more history with comic books adaptations than Michael Uslan, who began writing comic books in the 1970s and used that expertise as an executive producer on Tim Burton’s “Batman,” the 1989 hit that launched a new generation of superhero movies. Uslan recalled recently that top Marvel Comics executives treated him to a lavish Manhattan meal after the movie stirred fan interest in all comics and gave Marvel a hefty spike in sales.

“That was the case for years, big superhero movies brought new fans to comics, but it’s not the case now,” Uslan said. “The biggest comic book movies now have little or zero impact on the comics sales. The movies aren’t rescuing the comics; they’re replacing them. So now I really worry about comics. Any entertainment medium that can’t connect with new generations, doesn’t it have one foot in the grave?”

(13) 55 YEARS AGO. At Galactic Journey, Victoria Lucas celebrates a Presidential visit: “[July 14, 1963] JFK gets a Ph.D.”.

I really wish I had been able to be there.  Fortunately my friend in San Diego came through again, and I’ve been drooling over the prints and tape she sent.  She was at the commencement ceremonies on the 6th of June at San Diego State College (SDSC) when President John F. Kennedy was presented with an honorary doctorate in the Aztec Bowl.  Kennedy is one of my favorite people, and I look forward to voting for him when I vote in my first presidential election next year….

Well that’s staying in character.

(14) RESCUE ANIMAL. His employer went out of business, and he almost ended up in the street: “Giant Toys R Us mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe starts second career at children’s hospital”.

Geoffrey the Giraffe, the 16-foot-tall fiberglass Toys R Us mascot, has made a move to a new home less than two weeks after the retailer’s U.S. toy stores closed their doors.

At one point, the future of Geoffrey — about as tall as a real male giraffe — was in doubt as the 70-year-old company filed for bankruptcy and liquidated operations, including its corporate headquarters in Wayne, New Jersey. Because of Geoffrey’s size and the cost associated with transportation and installation, the company struggled to find someone to buy him.

No one made a bid.

As the June 30 deadline to clear out and clean up drew closer, the Toys R Us liquidation adviser, Joseph Malfitano of Boulder, Colorado, bought the giraffe and paid $10,000 to have Geoffrey packed and shipped the 50 miles here to Bristol-Meyers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. Malfitano thought a children’s hospital would be an appropriate home for the beloved mascot.

(15) BET THE UNDER. It’s not being overlooked anymore: “In Ireland, Drought And A Drone Revealed The Outline Of An Ancient Henge”.

A drone flight and a lingering dry spell have exposed a previously unknown monument in Ireland’s Boyne Valley, forgotten for thousands of years and long covered by crops — which, struggling to cope with a lengthy drought, finally revealed the ancient footprint.

Photographer and author Anthony Murphy discovered the site. He was flying a drone near Newgrange, a famous prehistoric stone monument in County Meath, on Tuesday, taking pictures of the known archaeological attractions. Then he saw something strange — a perfect circle, etched in the color of the crops, in an otherwise unremarkable field.

Murphy runs the website Mythical Ireland (also the name of his latest book), which focuses on the megalithic monuments of the Boyne Valley. He knew the local sites well — every passage tomb, every banked enclosure, every archaeological dig. And he’d been flying drones here for months.

He’d never seen this.

(16) THIS JOB ISN’T EASY. Like you need teeny tiny branding irons…. BBC tells how “Source of cosmic ‘ghost’ particle revealed”.

Step One: Catch a neutrino

It all starts with IceCube, a highly sensitive detector buried about two kilometres beneath the Antarctic ice, near the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

“In order to get a measurable signal from the tiny fraction of neutrinos that do interact, neutrino physicists need to build extremely large detectors,” explains Dr Susan Cartwright, a particle physicist at the University of Sheffield.

Measuring cosmic neutrinos against those created closer to home is, she told BBC News, “like trying to count fireflies in the middle of a firework display”.

(17) THE TWO TOWERS. Long ad for a short clip of a bit of space history: “Nasa launch towers demolished in Florida”.

The two towers were used to assemble rockets for missions to Mars from 1957 until 2011.

(18) WHEDON’S NEXT. According to Variety — “HBO Lands Joss Whedon Sci-Fi Series ‘The Nevers’”.

HBO has given a series order to “The Nevers,” a science-fiction drama from Joss Whedon. The series is described as a sci-fi epic about a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that might change the world.

Whedon will serve as writer, director, executive producer, and showrunner.

(19) MAN OF THE CLOTH. In Don Glut’s new Frankenstein film, Edward L. Green plays a Priest. Ed says, “While not as cool as a trading card, I guess ‘Father Florescu’ is worth his own postcard.” Order them from Pecosborn Press — “Tales Of Frankenstein Postcards (package Of 8)”.

(20) BE THE BEST VILLAIN. A new board game, Villainous (2–6 players, ages 10 and up), from Wonder Forge will let you play as one of six famous Disney villains (“Disney’s Villainous Board Game Debuts With Classic Characters”). The $35 game is expected to be in stores August 1. Quoting an io9 article:

In the game you can play as one of six infamous Disney villains: Captain Hook, Ursula, Maleficent, Jafar, Prince John, or the Queen of Hearts. The actual gameplay and goals mirror the events each character experienced in their corresponding movies: Peter PanThe Little MermaidSleeping BeautyAladdinRobin Hood, and Alice in Wonderland.

There aren’t any interactions between the various villains; each player remains on their own “realm” gameboard so it’s not like Captain Hook and Maleficent could team up to vanquish Robin Hood. […] But board games are really only fun when you can frustrate your fellow players, so Villainous includes hero cards featuring the protagonists that, at least in the original movies, foiled these villains’ plans. The hero cards allow other players to make it more difficult for your villain’s scheme to come to fruition […]

 

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

Pixel Scroll 7/2/18 Bring Me The Pixel Of Scroll Charming!

(1) KLAATU BARADA UFO. The Independent celebrates World UFO Day with a roll-call of alien encounter films: “World UFO Day 2018: Top 10 alien encounter B-movies from the golden age of schlock sci-fi”.

World UFO Day is being observed around the galaxy on Monday.

The occasion is held on 2 July in memory of the US Army Air Forces weather balloon crash in Roswell, New Mexico, that many believe was really a flying saucer landing covered up by the Pentagon.

It is marked by sky-watching parties as keen ufologists survey the heavens in search of fresh evidence of alien life.

Others prefer to mark the day on 24 June, the date on which American aviator Kenneth Arnold reported spotting a fleet of nine spaceships over Mount Rainier, Washington, in 1947….

(2) HOT READS. The Verge’s Andrew Liptak says these are “12 fantastic science fiction and fantasy novels that you should check out this July”.

July 10th

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Naomi Novik earned a Nebula Award for her fairy tale-inspired novel Uprooted. She’s back with an new book that similarly delves into folklore, Spinning Silver. In this book, a girl named Miryem is the daughter of moneylenders, but her family has fallen onto hard times. She takes their predicament into her own hands, turning silver into gold. Her abilities attract the attention of the Fey king of the Staryk, who gives her an impossible challenge, and accidentally spins a web that draws in the daughter of a local lord, angering the Tsar who had pledged to wed her.

Read an excerpt here.

Game of the Gods by Jay Schiffman

Set in the future, Jay Schiffman’s debut novel Game of the Gods follows a Federacy military commander named Max Cone, who just wants to be left alone. When war breaks out, he becomes an unwitting pawn in a global game to try to get him into the fight once again. He’s given a device that allows him to predict the future, and when his wife and children are kidnapped, he’s drawn in to rescue them, aided by a band of unlikely allies — a 13-year old girl with special abilities, a mathematician, a religious zealot, and a drug addict who was once a revolutionary

(3) SUPERHERO, SUPER REVIEWER. Luke Cage is back, and so is Abigail Nussbaum: “Five Comments on Luke Cage, Season 2”.

I don’t have that much to say about the second season of Luke Cage.  Which is actually a shame, because despite some problems, I’d say that it’s the strongest and most consistently entertaining season of television the Netflix MCU has produced since the first season of Jessica Jones.  It’s just that the things I’d have to say about it are basically a combination of my review of the first season, and my review of the second season of Jessica Jones.  The stuff that worked in season one is back here, but better–the strong visuals, the amazing music, the thrilling fight scenes, the palpable sense of place.  And like Jessica Jones, coming back for a second season seems to have freed Luke Cage from the burden of having to justify its own existence as a superhero show about X (a woman, a black man), and allowed it to simply tell a story in which most of the characters are people of color (and some of them have superpowers).  At the same time, a lot of the problems that plagued the first season, and suggested that the Luke Cage concept might not be as durable as we could hope, are back in force here, with little indication that the show is interested in addressing them.  Here are a few thoughts I had at the end of the season, though the bottom line is that it is definitely worth watching….

(4) TAFF RINGS THE REGISTER. Jim Mowatt has enriched the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund by completing his trip report Wherever I Lay My Hat!

I have recently sent copies of my 2013 TAFF report to SCIFI and FANAC and both happily paid 500 dollars each into the TAFF coffers, so helping us to keep sending more delegates across the ocean to strengthen the science fictional bonds that enhance our community. Many thanks to both these fine organisations for their encouragement and support for the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund

Find out how to get a copy here.

(5) HE’S NOT BUGGED. NPR’s Glen Weldon says you won’t demand your 2 hours back: “Flyweight: Wee, The People: ‘Ant-Man And The Wasp'”.

It’s fine.

Ant-Man and the Wasp, the sequel to 2015’s feather-light and perfectly forgettable Ant-Man, is just fine.

It does what it sets out to do, which, by all readily legible indicators, is to be … fine. Agreeable. Inoffensive. A good way to pass a couple of hours in air-conditioned darkness. Jokes. Car chases. Fight scenes. Michelle Pfeiffer, briefly, in a hoodie and a chalk-white wig and, for some reason, fingerless gloves. A gruff Michael Douglas, less briefly, as the resident goateed genius of this particular corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Tony Stark and Doctor Strange having their attentions turned elsewhere).

Also: Evangeline Lilly as badass superhero The Wasp, kickin’ thoraxes and takin’ names and even crackin’ the occasional joke, thank God. The always-winning Michael Peña as voluble sidekick Luis, whose presence in any given scene amps up its charm factor. Phrases like “We have to adjust the refractors on the regulator!” (LOTS of those.)…

(6) ADAMS OBIT.

(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

The original time machine from the 1960 movie was sold at the MGM studio auction in 1971, the same auction that originally sold the Ruby Slippers (The Wizard of Oz (1939)). The winner of the auction was the owner of a traveling show. Five years later the prop was found in a thrift store in Orange, CA. Film historian Bob Burns purchased it for $1,000. Using blueprints his friend George Pal had given him years earlier, he and a crew of friends restored it. The restoration crew included D.C. Fontana script consultant and writer on Star Trek (1966) and Michael Minor art director on Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1982).

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born July 2 – Margot Robbie, 28. The Legend of Tarzan was her first genre film (maybe) followed by Suicide SquadGoodbye Christopher Robin, an animated Peter Rabbit, more DCU announced films than bear thinking about and intriguingly she’s announced to be Marian in Marian, a telling of her life after the death of Robin.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian was surprised to see who is the pitchman for retirement plans in the Star Trek universe: Brevity.
  • Chip Hitchcock calls this one Arctic Circle meets Connie Willis.

(10) SUPERHERO CHOW. The Marina Bay Sands in Singapore boasts a ”DC Comics Superhero Café”. Here’s the real menu [PDF file.]

Dine in, take-away, save the day – at this immersive café-retail experience, home to the DC Comics universe.

Find apparel, accessories and gifts to unleash the DC super hero within you. Chill out at the Superman-inspired café; sip the Batman’s Late Night Summer Latte or get buzzed from The Flash’s Espresso. Grab a Green Lantern pizza to go.

At our Justice League tribute diner – eat-in for a serious scoffing of Batman’s epic Dark Knight charcoal-brioche-bun burger or battle out with The Flash Mushroom Linguine. Feeling villainous? Get your “just desserts” from the Joker.

(11) SEQUEL SUCCESS. Camestros Felapton finds time to “Review: The Incredibles 2”.

…At the time Pixar eschewed sequels (with the exception of Toy Story) and despite the implications of the end of the film, a second Incredibles movie seemed unlikely. Time moves on and Disney-Pixar is keen to capitalise on the IP it owns. Could a sequel possibly manage that same balance of action and character?

Absolutely….

(12) YOU HAVE TO WONDER. Given the 80’s setting of the upcoming Wonder Woman film, digital artist Bosslogic has populated his Instagram feed with reimaginings of the alter egos fo other superheroes as they might have looked if they were in 1984 continuity. Take a look for the   “WW84” posts scattered among the entries at Bosslogic. Here, for instance, is Henry Cavill as Clark Kent — if he were plopped down in 1984…

Credit to SYFY Wire for tipping us to this art with their story “B-Boy Batman Meets Superman’s Sweet Mullet in Awesome ’80S Fan Art for Wonder Woman 2”.

(13) INFREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS. This job is not that f**king easy!

(14) FUTURE STUNTS. TechCrunch goes behind the scenes:  “Disney Imagineering has created autonomous robot stunt doubles”.

Disney it taking their robotics to new heights… at least for a few seconds. Born out of an experiment called Stickman, the new development “Stuntronics” can fling articulated robot figures into the air. The bots control their orientation and poses to nail the same tricks — such as a superhero pose — time after time after time. According to project personnel Tony Dohi (Principal R&D Imagineer) and Morgan Pope (Associate Research Scientist):

“So what this is about is the realization we came to after seeing where our characters are going on screen,” says Dohi, “whether they be Star Wars characters, or Pixar characters, or Marvel characters or our own animation characters, is that they’re doing all these things that are really, really active. And so that becomes the expectation our park guests have that our characters are doing all these things on screen — but when it comes to our attractions, what are our animatronic figures doing? We realized we have kind of a disconnect here.”

…“So often our robots are in the uncanny valley where you got a lot of function, but it still doesn’t look quite right. And I think here the opposite is true,” says Pope. “When you’re flying through the air, you can have a little bit of function and you can produce a lot of stuff that looks pretty good, because of this really neat physics opportunity — you’ve got these beautiful kinds of parabolas and sine waves that just kind of fall out of rotating and spinning through the air in ways that are hard for people to predict, but that look fantastic.”

…“One of our goals of Stuntronics is to see if we can leap across the uncanny valley.”

 

(15) EVIL DEAD AUCTION. Bloody Disgusting points the way: “The “Ash vs. Evil Dead” Prop and Costume Auction is the Coolest, Most Gruesome Auction We’ve Ever Seen”.

…A final attempt to make some money off the show, the official “Ash vs. Evil Dead” Series Finale Auction just launched this week, and it’s continuing through August 17. Don’t worry about showing up anywhere in person to get in on the bidding, as it’s taking place entirely online.

Modern technology, am I right?!

The auction features over 1,000 screen-used costumes, props, prosthetics and set decorations from all three seasons, all of them direct from the studio and coming with Certificates of Authenticity. If you saw it on the show, it’s probably up for grabs, with the auction including Ash’s chainsaw, the Season 3 demon baby, Ash’s wardrobe and TONS of gory practical effects.

Check out some highlights below and head over to VIP Fan Auctions to see more!

(16) FIRMIN RESUME. When SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie learned that Peter Firmin died, he rounded up some links to help me appreciate the loss: “His co-creations (with Oliver Postgate) of The ClangersNoggin the Nog and Ivor the Engine wowed generations of Brits.  Arguably worth checking out and if fans have young kids then sharing.”

  • The Clangers were an alien race who live on the Moon.

The Clangers are peacefully building a house. We hear a whistling sound and down comes something. The Clangers run for cover. The thing is a terrestrial space-probe vehicle with large initials on it.

  • Noggin the Nog was a fantasy series set in Viking times with dragons etc. (eat your heart out Martin).

  • Ivor the Engine was an almost living steam locomotive.

“Wonderful stuff,” Jonathan concludes.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/16/18 And I Awoke And Found Me Here On The Scrolled Pixelside

(1) DOUG JONES’ NEW GIG. GeekTyrant points to the first installment of an sf video series premiering on Dust’s YouTube channel: “Dust Created a Cool 1930’s Sci-Fi Noir Series AUTOMATION with Doug Jones; Watch the First Episode Now!”.

In an alternate 1930’s Prohibition-era New York City, it’s not liquor that is outlawed but the future production of highly sentient robots known as automatons. Automata follows former NYPD detective turned private eye Sam Regal and his incredibly smart automaton partner, Carl Swangee. Together, they work to solve the case and understand each other in this dystopian America. Putting a science ?ction twist on the classic hard-boiled detective drama, Automata explores a dystopian alternative version of Prohibition-era New York City, similarly shaped by moral panic even though the alcohol ?ows freely here. In this universe, Prohibition doesn’t ban drinking, but the further production of sapient androids that have become prevalent by the 1920s. As a result, the existing androids, called automatons, are shunned by society, relegated to an untouchable caste of servants despite their near-human thought capability, and are frequently subjected to hatred and violence. It’s in this oppressive setting that human private detective Sam Regal (Basil Harris, “Grimm”) and his automaton partner Carl Swangee (Doug Jones, The Shape of Water) work together to solve cases for both communities, learning to see humanity in one another while trying to prove that justice is still worth serving.

 

(2) WILDERNESS TREK. Who doesn’t want one of these? Lost at E Minor introduces the world to “A tent that looks like a Star Trek shuttlecraft for all your camping missions”.

Canadian designer Dave Delisle, of Dave’s Geeky Ideas, has come up with a concept tent that resembles a Star Trek Federation shuttlecraft.

The two-person tent, though not able to travel to other galaxies, allows Trekkies to go on their ‘away missions’.

It features a hull that looks like the real spacecraft, with an entrance at the back. When you want to stow it away, the tent can easily fit inside one of its thrusters.

(3) I’M LOSING IT HERE. RedWombat strikes a blow for artistic freedom. The thread starts here.

(4) TECH VIRTUOSO. Ursula V’s Twitter stream is also where I found this:

(5) SPFBO 2018. Mark Lawrence, who announced the 2017 Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off winner just the other day, wasted no time cranking up the next round of the contest:  SPFBO 2018 – A call to authors.

This is the call for authors wanting to enter books for the fourth Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off.

The contest will be open for entries until August 1st or when 300 titles have been entered, whichever comes first.

If 250+ titles are not gathered by August 1st the contest will be deferred for a year. I have no idea if there is a limit to how many years we can gather 250+ new self-published fantasy book 1s.

So far they have 101 entries. These bloggers will review and rate the submissions.

(6) ESSENTIAL SF. Factor Daily directs you to “Something for everyone: 5 essential science fiction anthologies you must read”. Don’t panic – only the first two were published over 30 years ago….

If you’re someone with a passing interest in science fiction who’d like to know the genre better or would like to experience all the many splendours it has to offer without having to read 300-page novels, one of the best ways is through an anthology. If you’re a hardcore science fiction reader who wants to discover new authors or get deeper into the genre’s history and trends, one of the best ways is through an anthology.

Here then, are five essential science fiction anthologies that will appeal to – and are recommended for – both, the seasoned sci-fi fan, and the casual reader who’d really like to know what the big fuss about science fiction really is. Whatever it is that you’re looking for – spaceships and robots, interstellar travel or the future of humankind, feminist stories, swashbuckling adventures, stories about love and loss, funny stories, stories to make you ponder, about politics, economics, about culture(s), stories about the future that are really a commentary on our present, stories about technology done right, of technology gone wrong – they’re all in here, and then some….

(7) QUICK SIPS. Charles Payseur’s Quick Sip Reviews catches up with “Strange Horizons 06/04/2018 & 06/11/2018 “.

The first two weeks of June’s Strange Horizons brings a pair of stories and a pair of poems. The fiction is a mix of fantasies, one with magic and ghosts and monsters and the other with a looser grasp on reality. Both feature characters charged with watching over a space through. For one, it’s through elaborate ritual. For the other, it’s by house sitting. In both, there’s a feeling of something being trapped, of something being infested, and of the characters having been wronged. The poetry deals with myths, with mythical creatures, and with longing and endings and beginnings. And all together it makes for a rather lovely but haunting collection of short SFF. To the reviews!

(8) SHORT ORDER. What screens ahead of Incredibles 2? (Besides half an hour of trailers, I mean….) Something that left an NPR interviewer impressed: “In Pixar’s First Female-Directed Short, A Dumpling Child Fills An Empty Nest”.

Moviegoers sitting down to see Incredibles 2 are in for a tasty treat in the form of an animated short called Bao. It tells the story of an empty nester who discovers joy — and sorrow — when a steamed bun she makes comes to life.

The story is pulled from the childhood of Domee Shi, who wrote and directed the Pixar film. Shi was born in China and raised in Toronto. She started working at Pixar as an intern in 2011, and now she’s the first woman to direct a Pixar short.

Pixar and the larger animation industry have been criticized for shutting female animators out of top jobs, but Shi says that culture is changing.

“You’re just seeing this gradual shift in the industry because, before, animation was predominantly white and male, but now in animation schools all over the country enrollment is now over 50 percent female. … I think just more and more girls are just getting into animation. And I hope that we’re going to see those numbers be reflected in the industry and not just in the animation schools.”

(NPR interviewed Shi before the announcement that Pixar’s co-founder, John Lasseter, would be leaving the company. Lasseter had been absent since November, when allegations of sexual harrassment surfaced.)

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

On this day in 1960, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho has its world premiere in New York. Did you know: Paramount gave Hitchcock a very small budget to work with, because of their distaste with the source material. They also deferred most of the net profits to Hitchcock, thinking the film would fail.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY

  • Born June 16 – John Cho, 46. Sulu in Star Trek, Star Trek into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond. First genre role appears to on Charmed, other shows includes Static Shock, Star Trek and Batman video games, Flashforward and the current season of The Exorcist.

(11) TIMOTHY THE TALKING CAT AND SUSAN THE TRICERATOPS. Camestros Felapton’s “The Bortsworth Mysteries: The Case of the Shifting Genre”, soon to be winning indie book awards near you….

“Wake up!” said Timothy the Talking Cat, a highly intelligent cat with a piercing intellect who was looking very dapper that bright morning in a yellow bow tie that deftly coordinated with his purple, velvety fur.

“I am awake,” said Susan.

“It is so hard to tell because you sleep standing up and also last night I painted eyes on your eyelids which was funny at the time but now I regret because when you close your eyes it looks like you are staring at me in a really angry way like you are about to stomp on me,” replied Timothy loquaciously (who was briefly surprised that of all the words the meat robot hadn’t spelt incorrectly “loquaciously” was one of them).

(12) HARDWICK UNPLUGGED.  “AMC Silences Chris Hardwick Talk Show & Comic-Con Panels After Abuse Claims”. Deadline quotes Hardwick’s denial, and speculates about the fate of his as-yet-unaired TV work.

A day after allegations of emotional abuse and sexual assault were leveled against Chris Hardwick by an ex-girlfriend, AMC has decided today to officially pull the plug on their long time host’s talk show and appearances at San Diego Comic-Con next month.

“We have had a positive working relationship with Chris Hardwick for many years,” said the home of The Walking Dead in a statement on Saturday, one day before Season 2 of Talking With Chris Hardwick was set to debut. “We take the troubling allegations that surfaced yesterday very seriously. While we assess the situation, Talking with Chris Hardwick will not air on AMC, and Chris has decided to step aside from moderating planned AMC and BBC America panels at Comic-Con International in San Diego next month.” …

(13) ERRATA. Locus Online’s item “Jemisin Wins 2018 BoBi” repeats Publishers Weekly’s mistake – the portion in quotes:

N.K. Jemisin will receive the annual Best of Brooklyn (BoBi) Award, and “is the first author of speculative fiction to win the BoBi.”

I omitted the quote when that news was reported in yesterday’s Scroll because the original Brooklyn Book Festival press release lists two authors of speculative fiction among the previous winners —

… Past honorees have included Colson Whitehead, Jacqueline Woodson, Jonathan Lethem, James McBride, Lois Lowry and Pete Hamill.

It’s still a fine honor for Jemisin.

(14) FREE READ. Stephen Lawson’s Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award winner “Homunculus” has been posted on the Baen Books website.

The yellow-orange tholin haze above Titan’s surface whirled around the chassis of a lighter-than-air research drone. A tiny carbon-fiber humanoid robot sat perched on its support structure, dangling his feet next to the drone’s camera as it took pictures of the rocky surface below. The dirigible, designed to carry sampling probes and communication equipment, barely registered the stowaway’s mass. Folded aramid-fiber wings fluttered on aluminum ribs on the bot’s back as the breeze swept over the drone’s chassis….

(15) EXPLORING FAN PHOTOS. Andrew Porter has been working on identifying people in the Jay Kay Klein photos posted by the UC/Cal/Riverside Collection. He sent out links to some of his finds —

(16) CLARKE LITERARY BIO. Gary Westfahl’s book Arthur C. Clarke will be published by the University of Illinois Press in July.

Already renowned for his science fiction and scientific nonfiction, Arthur C. Clarke became the world’s most famous science fiction writer after the success of 2001: A Space Odyssey. He then produced novels like Rendezvous with Rama and The Fountains of Paradise that many regard as his finest works.

Gary Westfahl closely examines Clarke’s remarkable career, ranging from his forgotten juvenilia to the passages he completed for a final novel, The Last Theorem. As Westfahl explains, Clarke’s science fiction offered original perspectives on subjects like new inventions, space travel, humanity’s destiny, alien encounters, the undersea world, and religion. While not inclined to mysticism, Clarke necessarily employed mystical language to describe the fantastic achievements of advanced aliens and future humans. Westfahl also contradicts the common perception that Clarke’s characters were bland and underdeveloped, arguing that these reticent, solitary individuals, who avoid conventional relationships, represent his most significant prediction of the future, as they embody the increasingly common lifestyle of people in the twenty-first century.

Westfahl, formerly of the University of La Verne and the University of California, Riverside, has now retired to focus exclusively on research and writing. His many books on science fiction include William Gibson and Hugo Gernsback and the Century of Science Fiction

(17) FEATHERED NERD RANKINGS. Joe Sherry’s “Reading the Hugos: Short Story” puts this one somewhere in the middle of his ballot.

“Fandom for Robots”: So, the original sentient AI discovers fan fiction and gets involved in the fandom for the anime Hyperdimension Warp Record. On its surface, “Fandom for Robots” is exactly what it seems to be – an AI learning about fandom, about shipping characters, about writing fan fiction and commenting on other stories. But, I wonder, is there a point here where Prasad is also talking about how fanfiction gives a greater opportunity to marginalized people to see themselves in stories where they are otherwise excluded? Is Prasad telling a story about how fanfiction can build community and inclusion?

“Fandom for Robots” was a lot of fun to read, but it’s a better story when I’m reading a bit deeper into what message may be baked into an otherwise basic story of an AI discovering fanfiction.

(18) PANDORA PREVIEW. The official Disney blog takes fans inside the technology: “Pandora – The World of Avatar Time Capsule: Imagineers Create the Most Advanced Audio-Animatronics Figure, the Shaman of Songs for Na’vi River Journey”

Guests can encounter the Shaman of Songs inside Na’vi River Journey, after they board a boat and are whisked away on an immersive journey deep into a bioluminescent rainforest on Pandora. There, the Shaman of Songs sits, sending positive energy out into the forest through the power of her movements and music.

But bringing her to life required the Imagineering/LEI project team to not only apply the latest technologies in robotics, but also develop an estimated 20 new technologies to bring this figure to life. The goal was to make the figure’s tech as hidden as possible, to make the shaman as lifelike as possible.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 6/13/18 But File’s Just A Pixel And Pixels Weren’t Meant To Last

(1) WW 1984. Director Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot tweeted today about Wonder Woman 2 — now called Wonder Woman 1984.  Jenkins’ tweet shows that Chris Pine is in the movie even though his character, Steve Trevor, was killed at the end of Wonder Woman.

(2) YOON HA LEE ON TOUR. The 1000 Year Plan is today’s stop on the “Revenant Gun Blog Tour – A Q&A with Yoon Ha Lee”.

In nearly two decades of publishing short fiction, you’ve built so many different universes and mythologies where we are only offered a glimpse of what seems like a much richer context. Most of these stories are one-offs; what was it about the Hexarchate concept that compelled you grow it into a larger epic? Have you entertained the idea of expanding on any of your other stories?

I’d been wanting to write a novel for a while, but my first substantive attempt, which I (affectionately?) call the Millstone Fantasy Novel, was ten years in the making and turned out to be fatally flawed, so I trunked it. I love space opera, though, everything from Simon R. Green’s Deathstalker books to Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga to Jack Campbell’s Black Jack Geary books, and I wanted to try my hand at it. Even then, Ninefox Gambit was originally going to be a one-off. When I came to the end, however, I realized that I had more to say about the setting and more ideas for plot. I suppose part of it’s laziness as well–having generated all those setting details, it seemed a shame not to get some more use out of them!

I’ve occasionally thought about revisiting a few of my past stories, but most of them feel complete in themselves. Especially at shorter lengths, I’m really more focused on the idea than building an elaborate world that can be explored again and again. I’m probably more likely to do something new and different to keep myself entertained.

(3) IT’S IMPOSSIBLE. In “Timothy and Babies”, Camestros Felapton and Timothy the Talking Cat get into a big brawl over terminology despite never once using the word “decimate.”

Dramatic Personae:

  • Camestros Felapton – raconteur and bon-vivant
  • Timothy the Talking Cat – a rat-auteur and bomb-savant
  • Mrs Brigsly – an inhabitant of Bortsworth and carekeeper of a baby
  • A baby – a baby of unknown provenance in the care of Mr Brisgly

[Timothy] I had to look up ‘bon-vivant’ and the dictionary did not say ‘binges on Netflix and chocolate hob-nobs’
[Camestros] It is more of an attitude than a strictly prescribed lifestyle.
[Timothy] and I’m the one who tells anecdotes in a ‘skilful or amusing way’
[Camestros]…well…
[Timothy] It cleary says “OR”!
[Camestros] Let’s change the subject shall we? I’m already on the sixth line of dialogue, I’m not going back and changing the list of characters now.

(4) QUESTION AUTHORITY. Rachel Swirsky speaks up: “In Defense of ‘Slice of Life’ Stories”.

Many poems attempt to communicate an impression or an emotion. A poem about nature might not be intended to communicate “here is an intellectual idea about nature,” but instead “this is what it looked like through my eyes” and “this is how it felt.” Fine art landscapes can be like that, too. They depict a place at a time, both transient, through the eye of the painter (where the eye of the painter may figure more or less into the image, depending on whether it’s a realistic painting, etc).

What this makes me wonder is–why are we so dismissive of this in fiction? Plots are excellent; ideas are excellent. But what’s so wrong with a slice of life, that we refer to it with distaste? Why can’t fiction be about rendering transient, momentary emotions? Why do we demand they always be in the context of a plot?

(5) A GOOD EXAMPLE. Tor.com’s Leah Schnelbach tells “How Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice Avoids the Dreaded Infodump”.

…In the interest of slaying this monster, I’m going to walk you through the opening pages of Ann Leckie’s Hugo Award-winning Ancillary Justice—which gives the reader the perfect amount of info, without becoming too dumpy.

Think of this like going on a date, or grabbing coffee with a new friend—you give a few details, sure, but you don’t narrate a bullet list of your whole life. When you’re writing, you’re on a date with your reader. Ideally, your story will charm them enough that they lose track of time and hang out with you until you both suddenly realize that the restaurant has closed, all the other diners have left, and an annoyed busboy has to unlock the front door to let you out.

To get a feel for how to include lots of worldbuilding without killing your story’s momentum, let’s look at an example of a great opening. The first four pages of Ancillary Justice introduce us to a mysterious narrator, a harsh world, and two different conflicts right away, all while seeding in enough questions about the book’s world to keep us turning pages. You can read the first chapter over on NPR; below, I’ll pull the text apart (roughly half of NPR’s excerpt) paragraph by paragraph and unpack how and why it works.

(6) STAN LEE NEWS. The Hollywood Reporter says “Stan Lee Granted Restraining Order Against Business Manager, LAPD Investigating Claims of Elder Abuse”.

The move comes two days after Keya Morgan was arrested on suspicion of filing a false report to police.

Stan Lee on Wednesday filed for a restraining order against the man he said last week was the only person who was handling his affairs and business, Keya Morgan, a Los Angeles Superior Court media relations rep confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.

Lee was granted a temporary restraining order against Morgan, authorities told THR. The request for a permanent order is 43 pages long. A court date to decide that request is set for July 6.

The restraining order request was filed two days after Morgan was arrested on suspicion of filing a false report to police. Morgan was released from jail on $20,000 bail.

The LAPD is investigating reports of elder abuse against Lee. The investigation began in February, but only became public knowledge Wednesday.

(7) WELDON ON INCREDIBLES 2. NPR’s Glen Weldon says: “Retrofuturistic ‘The Incredibles 2’ Is More Retro Than Futuristic”.

Brad Bird’s virtuosic 2004 animated movie The Incredibles is the best superhero film that has ever been made and is likely the best superhero film that ever will be made.

This is a fact — a cold, hard one. The massive, resolute, essential truth of this fact is abiding and irresistible and immovable; it possesses its own magnetic field, its own solar day….

The villain — a mysterious masked figure known as the Screenslaver, who uses television to control the minds of hapless citizens (and heroes) — arrives with a villainous manifesto, albeit a slightly muddier one than that of the first film’s nemesis. And that same conceptual muddiness, a byproduct of the sequel’s need to expand on and complicate the world of the first film, seeps slowly into the entire film.

(8) KNOCK IT OFF. Another response to abusive Star Wars fans — “John Boyega tells Star Wars fans to stop harassing cast”.

Star Wars actor John Boyega has urged fans of the franchise to stop harassing the cast on social media.

His comments came after two co-stars, Daisy Ridley and Kelly Marie Tran, quit Instagram after receiving online abuse.

The actor, who plays Finn, tweeted: “If you don’t like Star Wars or the characters, understand that there are decisions makers [sic] and harassing the actors/actresses will do nothing.”

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 13, 1953The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms was released theatrically.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born June 13 – Malcolm McDowell, 75. Alex in A Clockwork Orange of course but King Arthur in Arthur the King, Dr. Miles Langford in Class of 1999, Soran in Star Trek: Generations, Arcady Duvall in the Jonah Hex episode of Batman: The Animated Series, Mr. Roarke, The Host, in the second Fantasy Island series, and far, far took many other roles to note here.
  • Born June 13 – Tim Allen, 65. Galaxy Quest’s Jason Nesmith and Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear.
  • Born June 13 – Ally Sheedy, 56. In X-Men: Apocalypse  Scott’s Teacher as Scott’s Teacher.
  • Born June 13 – Chris Evans, 37. Various Marvel films including of course The Avengers and Thor.
  • Born June 13 – Aaron Taylor-Johnson, 28. In Avengers: Age of Ultron  as Pietro Maximoff / Quicksilver,

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) PURE IMAGINATION. The Washington Post’s John Kelly asks “Are cartoon characters on lottery scratch-off tickets a way to lure young gamblers?”. The journalist investigates the Willy Wonka Golden Tickets currently being sold by the Maryland Lottery, and is told by Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency director Gordon Medenica that they aren’t trying to get kids hooked on lottery tickets because Willy Wonka “has almost zero resonance with children today.”

To put it another way: Are colorful, cartoonish Racing Presidents and Willy Wonka scratchers the alcopops and fruit-flavored vape pens of the lottery world?

I contacted the two lottery agencies and they said no. Oh, good, okay then. .?.?.

But, you know, let’s explore this a little more.

Gordon Medenica, director of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, said he was actually a little reticent when first approached by the company that created the Willy Wonka scratch-off, Scientific Games of Las Vegas.

“Frankly, we avoided it for some period of time,” he said. “My concern was still mainly just a personal thing: Isn’t this a children’s brand? Shouldn’t we be avoiding something like this?”

What changed Medenica’s mind were assurances from Scientific Games that Willy Wonka was no longer a children’s character. Many casinos, they reminded him, have Willy Wonka-branded slot machines.

“The adults who play the games have a fond memory of that movie, but in fact it has almost zero resonance with children today, oddly enough,” Medenica said.

(13) MOAT NOT INCLUDED. One of Mike Kennedy’s local news feeds (WAFF TV) alerted him to the availability of some prime unreal estate: “You can own this castle in Georgia for less than $1 million”.

Kennedy says there is a Zillow listing for the residence in question:

This 57,000 sq.ft. castle is in Menio GA — that’s near the state line with Alabama but not terribly near any sizable city. By road, it’s about 100 miles NW of Atlanta, about 50 miles SSW of Chattanooga TN, and a little over 100 miles NE of Birmingham AL. From my home (Huntsville AL), I’d have to travel over 80 miles EbS — part of it through some seriously back-country roads across the Cumberland Plateau.

The owner has dropped the asking price from $1,500,000 to a mere $999,999 (it’s been on Zillow for over 1000 days, after all). Earlier in the decade it was listed for as much as $5,9000,000. It has 30 bedrooms; 15 bathrooms; and sits on almost 250 acres.

Only 18,000 sq.ft. of the 57,000 sq.ft. floor space is finished, but Zillow says materials are on site to finish out most of the rest. Only some of the exterior stonework is installed. Think of it as your own little fixer upper. (You should be handy with a backhoe if you want to extend the ceremonial water feature in front to a full moat.)

(14) NO FALL OF MOONDUST. Figuratively speaking, this genie is still in the bottle. Now, who gets to keep the bottle? Yahoo! News has the story — “Woman Says Neil Armstrong Gave Her A Vial Of Moon Dust, Sues NASA To Keep It”.

A Tennessee woman is proactively suing NASA to keep what she says is a vial of moon dust gifted from astronaut Neil Armstrong.

Laura Cicco said Armstrong was a family friend, and that her mother gave her a tube of priceless lunar particles when she was 10, along with a note that read: “To Laura Ann Murray — Best of Luck — Neil Armstrong Apollo 11

Cicco told The Washington Post she kept Armstrong’s autograph in her bedroom but didn’t see the dust until she was going through her parents’ possessions five years ago.

NASA has not confiscated the vial, but Cicco says she doesn’t want the space agency to take it, so she filed a lawsuit on Wednesday to proactively assert her rights.

It might seem strange to sue at this point, but proactive law maintains that in some cases, such as those involving trademarks, contracts, and potential disputes, it is easier, cheaper and faster to address problems before they happen instead of reacting to them.

(15) BLOWN UP, SIR. Strange Angel premieres tomorrow, and I don’t remember linking to it before.

Watch the official trailer for Strange Angel, premiering June 14th, exclusively on CBS All Access. Strange Angel, a drama series created by Mark Heyman (Black Swan, The Skeleton Twins) and based on George Pendle’s book of the same name, is inspired by the real life story of Jack Parsons and explores the dramatic intersection between genius and madness, science, and science fiction.

 

(16) NOT EXACTLY AMAZING. After you read Galactic Journey’s review, you probably won’t jump into your time machine to look for a 1963 newsstand where you can buy this issue: “[June 13, 1963] THUD (the July 1963 Amazing)”.

Jack Sharkey’s serialized novella The Programmed People, which concludes in this July 1963 Amazing, describes a tight arc from mediocre to appalling and lands with a thud….

(17) BRADBURY CALLING. This is from a column by Nilanjana Roy called “When Books Are Burned” in the Financial Times (behind a paywall).

Fahrenheit 451 began in 1951 as a novella called The Fireman. Bradbury set down 25,000 words in nine days, renting a desk in the typing room in the basement of the UCLA library.  He wrote to a fan in 2006, ‘How could I have written so many words so quickly?  It was because of the library.  All of my friends, all of my loved ones, were on the shelve above and shouted, yelled, and shrieked at me to be creative…You can imagine how exciting it was to do a book about book burning in the very presence of hundreds of my beloveds on the shelves…’

…What he (Bradbury) anticipated, even in the pre-Internet, pre-Twitter, pre-WhatsApp 1950s, was the time we’ve reached–an age of manic consumption of a constant stream of often useless information.  For Bradbury, what was terrifying was not just the burning of books, it was the way in which people were prepared to turn against those who refused to sup at the same shallow pools, to persecute those who step away from the stream.

Re-reading Fahrenheit 451 decades after I’d first read it as a teenager, I heard Bradbury’s plea far more clearly.  In a world gone mad from too much junk, don’t forget reading, or books, or the necessaity of slow conversations and contemplative silence in a time of howling mobs and incessant noise.

(18) GENRE INTEREST LIBERALLY CONSTRUED. Hey, is this an appropriate headline, or what? USA Today reports that a “Kickstarter aims to make Ruth Bader Ginsburg into action figure”.

If you’ve ever wanted an action figure of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, your chance is coming.

FCTRY, a product incubator, kicked off a crowd fundraiser on Tuesday to raise the money to create an action figure of the 85-year-old associate justice.

It gave itself 35 days to raise its $15,000 goal on Kickstarter. As of Tuesday evening, just hours after launch, the company had raised more than $67,000.

(19) DUMBO TRAILER. Now out –  the teaser trailer for Tim Burton’s all-new live-action Dumbo, coming to theatres March 2019.

From Disney and visionary director Tim Burton, the all-new grand live-action adventure “Dumbo” expands on the beloved classic story where differences are celebrated, family is cherished and dreams take flight. Circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlists former star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland. Dumbo soars to new heights alongside a charming and spectacular aerial artist, Colette Marchant (Eva Green), until Holt learns that beneath its shiny veneer, Dreamland is full of dark secrets.

 

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Fish With Legs is a Screen Australia cartoon on Vimeo, directed by Dave Carter, about what happened when all the fish in Australia suddenly sprouted legs!

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

Pixel Scroll 6/9/18 Scroll-The-Pooh Filed In A WordPress All By Himself Under The Name Of Pixel

(1) DAMES AND KNIGHTS. The Queen’s birthday honours list is out. The Guardian has the highlights likely to be of interest to Filers (although it does not cite any of the recipients’ genre credits).

The Queen’s birthday honours list, in which actor Emma Thompson was made a dame,…

Thompson, who is one of Britain’s best loved actors, has been made a dame, adding to a long list of awards including Oscars, Baftas, Golden Globes and Emmys.

…The damehood awarded to the classicist Mary Beard is likely to prove more popular. The Cambridge professor, author and TV presenter described it as a “smashing honour” and attributed it to growing interest in her field of work.

“I feel especially pleased that someone working on the ancient classical world gets honoured in this way,” she said. “I’d like to treat it as a bit of a tribute to the Greeks and Romans themselves, as well as to all my wonderful academic colleagues who also do so much for the study of antiquity.”

The actors Keira Knightley and Tom Hardy are awarded an OBE and CBE respectively.

The author Kazuo Ishiguro, whose works include The Remains of the Day, the film adaptation of which starred Thompson, is knighted for his services to literature. He said he was “deeply touched to receive this honour from the nation that welcomed me as a small foreign boy”.

(2) EPISODE HATE. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert concocted a hilarious “’Stars Wars’ Trailer To Piss Off Hateful Fanboys.” Starts around 2:20 of this video.

There’s a special new ‘Star Wars’ movie for all the angry fans whose racist, misogyny led ‘Last Jedi’ actress Kelly Marie Tran to leave Instagram.

 

(3) DRAGON CON TURNOVER. Early this month bloggers Francis Turner and Jon Del Arroz celebrated a Dragon Con staff firing, however, those searching for an objective explanation of what transpired had nowhere to turn until this week when Richard “Fife” Blaylock published two resignation statements on his blog, one by former Dragon Con Fantasy Literature Track director Charlotte Moore, and his own.

Moore committed what she terms “an error in judgment” in telling a ConCarolinas supporter and regular Dragon Con panelist his support of that convention made him “less welcome” by the Fantasy Literature Track. Dragon Con leadership considered that beyond her authority and a misrepresentation of the convention’s commitment to political neutrality. Almost concurrently,  Moore tweeted in support of a friend she saw being harassed in social media. Dragon Con leadership ultimately told Moore the appearance of the con’s neutrality was more important than these acts of conscience, and she was fired.

Moore initially put a farewell post on the Fantasy Literature at Dragon Con Facebook page, which was taken down by Facebook. It has been reposted to Blaylock’s blog. Here is an excerpt:

Hi, everyone. It’s Charlotte.

Effective immediately, I am no longer the Fantasy Literature Fan Track Director.

I apologize for the cryptic nature of what follows. I will, at my discretion and on a person-by-person basis, give details in private, or when plied by sufficient quantities of alcohol.

First:

I would like to thank Rachel Reeves and David Gordon for working with me to find an equitable resolution to some longstanding and, ultimately, insurmountable differences between my priorities and the convention’s.

I deeply regret that, in an effort to defend this community I love so much, I have, in moments of anger, occasionally overstepped my bounds, resorting to tactics that were unbecoming of me. My behavior has not consistently reflected the convention’s values—nor, in my better moments, mine.

While I do not regret, for one second, standing up to any person who, through their stories, statements, or behavior, threatens this community—or who, out of self-preservation, chooses not to see injustice and abuse—there are ways I might have done so without grabbing for low-hanging fruit.

Dragon Con strives to be apolitical. Perhaps that’s admirable (and perhaps it isn’t? I truly don’t know), but it strikes me that the most bombastic champions of this position are the ones most incensed by social justice, a phrase they sneer as a term of derision and ridicule.

I believe that Dragon Con’s heart is in the right place. I really do. They made it clear to me that they have no compunction with the fundamental nature of my values; that they welcome strong opinions among their track directors; and that they share a desire to create a diverse and safe environment.

They want everyone to have a seat at the table. Unfortunately, they also want everyone to have a seat at the table. And a table that seats abusers beside their abused is not, in fact, a table for all: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

So. The convention and I are at an impasse. And perhaps it is best if Dragon Con finds a less vociferous replacement for me, though I regret that this must happen so close to this year’s event….

—Charlotte, who will miss you all very much.

Richard Blaylock, likewise, has quit the convention as he explains in “My Resignation from Dragon Con” (full statement at the link.)

The below is my resignation as Director’s Second of Fantasy Literature at Dragon Con, as I sent it in. For some quick context:

  • The prior director had acted out of line and was due some form of censure, along the lines of public apology and a warning to chill.
  • Instead of a transparent process, she was fired without being allowed to defend herself, and before she was even informed that she was being fired, they were soliciting potential new directors.
  • The “greater crime” for which she was fired was that she was vocally expressing that she would not provide a platform for bigotry and hate in her programming.

So, without further adieu, and with the intent to allow this to be shared easily across social media platforms (I’d already shared it on Facebook), my letter of resignation to Dragon Con:

To: Director, Fantasy Literature
CC: Sr. Director, Fan Track Operations; Dragon Con Board of Directors
Thank you for the opportunity to stay on as Director’s Second for Fantasy Literature. After a long time mulling it over, I regret to inform you that I cannot, in good conscience, continue on in this position.

While I do not agree with all of Prior Director Charlotte Moore’s means and methods, and I do feel she stepped out of line in her interaction with [guest name redacted] in specific, I cannot countenance the actions that have been taken—actions taken both by means of punishing her and of the convention making a political statement in her firing and its choice for her replacement.

I can appreciate that the convention doesn’t want to become accused of being a political entity for both legal and social reasons. But there is a false equivalency and a tone deafness in the convention claiming that bigotry and harassment is “just politics.” It is the paradox of tolerance that those who try to uphold absolute tolerance invite the absolutely intolerant. A political difference is how to provide health care, entitlements, and the size and role of government. It is not debating the fundamental humanness of those who are not white, heteronormative men.

A “Safe Space” is also a paradox. It is a place where those accepting of differences, willing to admit that all people have a fundamental equality, are welcome. It is not, in truth, “safe” for everyone, because it should be absolutely unwelcoming of bigots. By their fundamental nature, bigots make others unsafe. Fantasy Literature has, in the five years I’ve worked for it, always been a Safe Space, and I thought this was not just because of the actions of the director and her volunteers, but because senior convention leadership saw the value in this as well.

However, in its actions, Dragon Con has made the declaration that hate and bigotry are acceptable behaviors, and that the deluge of snide micro-aggressions that people of color, the differently-abled, women, and the LGBT community will suffer is an acceptable price for convention leadership to pay so they don’t have an angry, vocal, and harassing minority emailing them…..

Dragon Con prides itself on “running like a business.” I am sure that the mentality is you don’t care that a few offended attendees won’t come because of this decision; the numbers are still going up overall. On the whole, the masses don’t care.

But the thing is, the masses don’t care. Dragon Con could do the right thing, take a stand against bigotry and refuse to give it a platform, and you will only lose a minor handful of other bigots.

The masses don’t care. So it becomes such a puzzlement when the only action taken is to turn a blind eye and allow the tyranny of one minority over another so you don’t have to make a decision.

I have made my decision. I hope that you and others will come to see that it was correct one day.

Richard “Fife” Blaylock
Formerly Director’s Second, Fantasy Literature, Dragon Con

(4) ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WALL. Galactic Journey imported Cora Buhlert to 1963 where she discusses “[June 8, 1963] The Future in a Divided Land (An Overview of Science Fiction in East and West Germany) Part 1”.

…I am fortunate enough to live in West Germany and therefore the main focus of this article will be on West German science fiction. However, I will also take a look at what is going on in East Germany.

In the US and UK, science fiction is very much a magazine genre, even if paperback novels are playing an increasingly bigger role. In West Germany, there are a couple of science fiction publishers, such as the Balowa and Pfriem, which specialise in hardcovers aimed at the library market, as well as the paperback science fiction lines of Heyne, Fischer and Goldmann. The three paperback publishers focus mainly on translations, whereas the library publishers offer a mix of translations and works by German authors. Though Goldmann has recently started publishing some German language authors such as the promising new Austrian voice Herbert W. Franke in its science fiction paperback line.

However, the main medium for science fiction and indeed any kind of genre fiction in West Germany is still the so-called “Heftroman:” digest-sized 64-page fiction magazines that are sold at newsstands, gas stations, grocery stories and wherever magazines are sold. Whereas American and British science fiction magazines usually include several stories as well as articles, letter pages, etc…, a “Heftroman” contains only a single novel, technically a novella. “Heftromane” are the direct descendants of the American dime novel and the British penny dreadful – indeed, they are also referred to as “Groschenroman”, which is a literal translation of “dime novel”….

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 9, 1790 — The first copyright for a book was given to The Philadelphia Spelling Book by John Barry.
  • June 9, 1934 —  Donald Duck made his debut in the cartoon “The Wise Little Hen”.
  • June 9, 1978 The Cat From Outer Space premiered theatrically
  • June 9, 1989 Star Trek V: The Final Frontier debuted on this day

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born June 9, 1930 – Lin Carter
  • Born June 9, 1943 – Joe Haldeman
  • Born June 9, 1963 – David Koepp

(7) HUGO BALLOT PREVIEW. Nicholas Whyte groks “The 2018 Hugo finalists for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form”. At the top of his ballot —

1) Doctor Who: “Twice Upon a Time”

The Moffat era had its low points, but the return of the First Doctor for the Twelfth Doctor’s final story was not one of them. I actually thought that the 2018 season was Capaldi’s best in general, and would have rated a couple of the other episodes higher than this; but this one deserves its place on the ballot and gets my vote. Bonus points for having scenes set in Belgium.

(8) PIXAR PIONEER GOING. Yahoo! Entertainment says “Lasseter, Pixar co-founder, to step down at end of year”.

John Lasseter, the co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and the Walt Disney Co.’s animation chief, will step down at the end of the year after acknowledging “missteps” in his behavior with staff members.

Disney announced Friday that Lasseter — one of the most illustrious and powerful figures in animation — will stay on through the end of 2018 as a consultant. After that he will depart Disney permanently.

Lasseter in November took what he called a six-month “sabbatical.” He apologized “to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug” or any other gesture that made them feel “disrespected or uncomfortable.” At the time, Lasseter signaled that he hoped to then return to Disney. Many in Hollywood were skeptical that was possible.

“The last six months have provided an opportunity to reflect on my life, career and personal priorities,” Lasseter said in a statement. “While I remain dedicated to the art of animation and inspired by the creative talent at Pixar and Disney, I have decided the end of this year is the right time to begin focusing on new creative challenges.”

(9) JUNOT DIAZ. Boston Review’s decision to keep Junot Diaz as an editor has driven three other editors to quit reports the Boston Globe “Boston Review editors resigning in protest of decision to retain Junot Diaz”.

The decision by Boston Review to retain Junot Diaz as an editor despite recent sexual misconduct allegations isn’t sitting well with some members of the magazine’s staff.

Three poetry editors have announced they plan to resign effective July 1 because they disagree with the decision of Boston Review editor in chief Deborah Chasman to keep Diaz on as fiction editor, a position he’s held since 2003.

In a statement posted on the magazine’s website this week, Chasman and executive editor Joshua Cohen said they had done a “careful review of the public complaints” about Diaz, as well as their own inquiry, and determined that “the objectionable conduct described in the public reports does not have the kind of severity that animated the #MeToo movement.”

That prompted Boston Review poetry editors Timothy Donnelly, BK Fisher, and Stefania Heim to respond with a statement of their own.

“What most distresses us are the [Boston Review statement’s] apparent arbitration of what constitutes inclusion in the #MeToo movement and its lack of attentiveness to power dynamics in a star-driven media and publishing landscape,” the three editors wrote. “Though we raised these reservations to the executive editors and asked them repeatedly to rethink their position, they went forward as planned.”

The decision-makers explained why they did not remove Dias in “A Letter from Deborah Chasman and Joshua Cohen” at Boston Review.

Junot Díaz has been Boston Review’s fiction editor since 2003. Like many others, we were deeply moved by Junot’s recent essay in the New Yorker  describing his experience as a child victim of rape, and also struck by his acknowledgment in that essay that he had hurt people with his “lies and choices.” Also, like many others, we have been disturbed by recent reports from women who have come forward to describe the ways they were hurt by him. We have read their reports carefully, taken their complaints seriously, and thought hard about how we should respond.

On the basis of what we have learned, we have decided to continue our editorial relationship with Junot. We want to give a few words of explanation.

First, during his 15-year tenure as fiction editor, we have never received any complaints about Junot’s conduct, either from our staff or from writers.

If we were only an employer, that might be the end of the discussion. But issues of gender and race are at the heart of our mission. Because of Junot’s important public role, we cannot narrowly confine our attention to his role as our fiction editor.

Second, then, we do not think that any of the individual actions that have been reported are of the kind that requires us to end the editorial relationship. To be clear: we do not condone the objectionable behavior that they describe. Instead, we asked ourselves whether the conduct they report is of a kind that—given his role and our mission—requires us to end the editorial relationship. We do not think so. The objectionable conduct described in the public reports does not have the kind of severity that animated the #MeToo movement.

Third, we considered whether, as some have suggested, the complaints point to a larger pattern of abusing power—the kind of star power that has attached to Junot as a successful writer, editor, and public intellectual. On the basis of a careful review of the public complaints, we think not. The events they characterize—including several episodes of aggressiveness in public discussion—are dispersed over a long stretch of time, and do not, as we see it, show the characteristics, repetition, and severity required to establish such a pattern….

(10) THE WHO FAMILY. Don’t ask whether Doctor Who is the Doctor’s Daughter’s father or mother now. This isn’t that kind of project. Syfy Wire reports Doctor Who’s “daughter” is back In Universe, this time in a series of audio adventures: “The Doctor’s Daughter finally returns this week but it could have been much sooner”.

It’s been a decade, but the Doctor’s daughter is finally back for a series of new Big Finish audio adventures out this week. However, if it had been up to Georgia Tennant, her Doctor Who character would have returned to the Whoniverse much sooner.

Thing is… she was never asked back.

“I’ve always been aware of what Doctor Who brings to it, and what you then carry on throughout your life,” explained the actress (who happens to be the daughter of Fifth Doctor Peter Davison and the wife of Tenth Doctor David Tennant) to Radio Times. “But because it was just one episode I thought ‘Oh…that’ll just come and go.’ But it hasn’t, and everyone’s so lovely. Everyone’s wanted me to do this, and at conventions everyone’s been like ‘Why don’t you come back and do something?’ And you know, obviously they never asked me on the TV show…”

(11) PREGAME RITUAL. HBO needs to find a way to keep the cash register ringing: “Game of Thrones: HBO orders spinoff prequel pilot”.

Game of Thrones could be getting a prequel series, HBO has announced, one of five potential spin-offs from the series.

Book author George RR Martin has created the new series alongside British screenwriter Jane Goldman.

HBO has ordered a pilot episode for the show, set thousands of years before the battles over the Iron Throne.

Executives say any spin-off will not be broadcast until after Game of Thrones’ final season in 2019.

If picked up, the prequel will chronicle “the world’s descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour”, HBO said in a statement.

“From the horrifying secrets of Westeros’ history to the true origin of the White Walkers, the mysteries of the East, to the Starks of legend… it’s not the story we think we know.”

Gosh!

(12) LIGHTLY FROSTED. David Pogue, in the Yahoo Entertainment story “How technology brings Broadway’s ‘Frozen’ musical to life”, looks at how the current theatrical adaptation of Frozen is a very high-tech production.

In “Frozen,” technology is behind most of it. Almost none of the effects in the Broadway show would have been technologically possible five years ago.

“I mean, scenery remains scenery, but the video and the lighting equipment is changing so fast. Even by the time we take the show to London, the video technology we use here will almost be obsolete. It moves that rapidly.”

According to stage manager Lisa Dawn Cave, that technology includes an enormous video screen that forms the back wall of the stage. “Our video wall weighs about 8,600 pounds and contains more than 7 million individual LEDs,” she says.

It’s complemented by 19 projectors — six over the stage, and 13 on the ceiling of the theater, on the balcony railing, and on the box seats. “They’re laser projectors — not lasers in the sense like you see laser beams in movies,” says show electrician Asher Robinson, “but they have a laser phosphor source, which means that we’re not changing the lamps in them, and they’re not making a lot of heat.”

(13) PLANTING SEASON. Elon Musk—in the guise of SpaceX—wants a major upgrade to Kennedy Space Center and has provided NASA with a plan laying out their vision. That plan includes a 133,000 sq.ft. hangar to process used SpaceX boosters and a 32,000 sq.ft., 300 ft. tall control tower with a retro-futuristic ovoid top. “NASA Publishes SpaceX Maps and Renderings from Its Proposed “Rocket Garden”Inverse has the story. Quoting the article:

The Kennedy Space Center might be getting a major upgrade and expansion soon if Elon Musk gets his way. NASA published a plan submitted by SpaceXthat dramatically reimagines the company’s presence at KSC in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The plans include everything from a control tower that resembles a flying saucer to a “rocket garden,” showcasing futuristic designs that will expand the space company’s footprint and potential influence within the US agency.

NASA published a draft environmental review for the proposed SpaceX Operations Area, as first reported by Florida Today on Friday. According to the document, SpaceX is seeking permission to build on a 67-acre patch of land about one mile north of KSC’s visitor center complex.

…The proposal justifies the expansion by arguing that the KSC’s current offerings won’t support the 54 launches that SpaceX plans of Falcon 9 or the 10 annual launches planned for Falcon Heavy. By obtaining the space and the green light to build, the proposal says, SpaceX will have the facilities it needs to build, repair, and launch more rockets each year.

SpaceX plans to reach 30 orbital launches in 2018, which is already a record number of missions for the United States. Considering the grandiose proportions presented in the current proposal, it’s clear that the company intends to reach even further with orbital launches in 2019.

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

Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 Official Trailer

Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 comes to theaters November 21.

“Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2” leaves Litwak’s video arcade behind, venturing into the uncharted, expansive and thrilling world of the internet—which may or may not survive Ralph’s wrecking. Video game bad guy Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) and fellow misfit Vanellope von Schweetz (voice of Sarah Silverman) must risk it all by traveling to the world wide web in search of a replacement part to save Vanellope’s video game, Sugar Rush. In way over their heads, Ralph and Vanellope rely on the citizens of the internet—the netizens—to help navigate their way, including a webite entrepreneur named Yesss (voice of Taraji P. Henson), who is the head algorithm and the heart and soul of trend-making site “BuzzzTube.” Directed by Rich Moore (“Zootopia,” “Wreck-It Ralph”) and Phil Johnston (co-writer “Wreck-It Ralph,” “Cedar Rapids,” co-writer “Zootopia,”), and produced by Clark Spencer (“Zootopia,” “Wreck-It Ralph,” “Bolt”), “Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-Ralph 2” hits theaters on Nov. 21, 2018.

 

Pixel Scroll 5/30/18 Pixels, Scrolls…I’m The Guy With The Book

(1) TAKEDOWN. The New York Post tells how “Accountant embezzled $3.4M from famed literary agency”.

A Manhattan accountant cooked the books at a prestigious literary agency that represents top writers, including “Fight Club” author Chuck Palahniuk, bilking its clients of millions and leaving the company on the brink of bankruptcy, according to legal papers.

Darin Webb, 47, faces 20 years in jail on wire-fraud charges for embezzling $3.4 million from storied Manhattan agency Donadio & Olson, according to a recently unsealed federal criminal complaint.

Although the agency, which also represents the estates of “Godfather” writer Mario Puzo and radio legend Studs Terkel, was not named in court papers, a lawyer representing the firm confirmed to The Post that Donadio & Olson was the subject of the alleged theft.

…The stolen money — allegedly lifted between January 2011 and March of this year — was earmarked for author royalties and advances, the complaint says.

But the theft could be exponentially more, a source told The Post, noting that a forensic accountant is combing through Donadio & Olson’s books all the way back to 2001, Webb’s first year at the agency.

He allegedly fessed up to the theft in March in a videotaped interview with company executives and their attorneys at the agency’s Chelsea office, saying he filed monthly financial reports that “contained false and fraudulent representations in order to accomplish the theft and evade detection,” the complaint states.

Webb was arrested May 15 by the FBI and is out on $200,000 bail.

The Guardian reports on a celebrity victim: “Chuck Palahniuk ‘close to broke’ as agent’s accountant faces fraud charges”.

Palahniuk – one of many starry authors represented by the firm, including the estates of Mario Puzo and Studs Terkel – said his income had dwindled for several years. He had blamed multiple factors, including piracy and problems at his publisher, for the decline in earnings.

More recently, Palahniuk said, “the trickle of my income stopped” and payments for titles including Fight Club 2 “never seemed to arrive”. He wondered if the money had been stolen, but told himself he “had to be crazy” – until the news broke.

“All the royalties and advance monies and film-option payments that had accumulated in my author’s account in New York, or had been delayed somewhere in the banking pipeline, [were] gone. Poof. I can’t even guess how much income. Someone confessed on video he’d been stealing. I wasn’t crazy,” wrote Palahniuk in a statement on his website.

The novelist said that “this chain of events leaves me close to broke”, but that he had found himself to be “rich … with friends and readers who’ve rushed to my rescue”.

“On the minus side, the legal process will be long and offers an iffy reward. On the plus side, I’m not crazy. Nor am I alone,” added the author.

(2) WISCON. Sophygurl, a Tumblr blogger, was present at a controversial WisCon panel and has written an account of what she heard: “WisCon 42 panel The Desire for Killable Bodies in SFF”. The post begins –

This is going to serve as my panel write-up for this panel, but it also a copy of what I wrote as a report to the Safety team about the panel. I am posting this on DreamWidth and Tumblr and will be linking to Twitter and Facebook. Please feel free to link elsewhere. This should all be public knowledge, imo.

For anyone who doesn’t know – this panel included a panelist who ended up talking about the importance of sympathizing with Nazis. This is obviously not the kind of thing you expect to find at an intersectional feminist convention. It was upsetting and disturbing. Most of the panel was actually very interesting and even funny, and I appreciated what the other two panelists had to say. I even appreciated *some* of what the panelist in question had to say. All of this was overshadowed by the awful things she said, however.

(3) BRANDON SANDERSON WARNS FANX. Utah author Brandon Sanderson has raised his voice against “Harassment at FanX”. (For background, see “FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention Sharply Criticized for Handling of Anti-harassment Complaint”.)

I don’t normally discuss charged issues on my social media, but I do find harassment at science fiction conventions a topic that is very important to discuss. It is also very relevant to my fans, as conventions are often how they interact with me.

Recently, Salt Lake City’s biggest media convention (FanX, formerly called Salt Lake Comic Con) has made some troubling missteps. First, it grossly mishandled harassment claims—then it doubled down on its mistakes, bungling interactions with voices that have called for reform.

Some authors I respect deeply have composed an open letter to FanX, calling for them to do better—and I have co-signed it. Many of these authors have spoken better about this specific issue than I can, and I encourage you all to read what they have said. I believe that conventions like these (alongside the smaller literary conventions that were so instrumental in my road to publication) are important parts of our community—and it is essential that they provide a place where victims are not silenced and harassment is not tolerated.

For now, I am still scheduled to appear at FanX this fall. My team and I have been evaluating whether or not this is a position we can still take—and it will greatly depend on how FanX responds to this letter in the next few weeks. I will keep you informed of our decision—and if I do decide to bow out of FanX, I will try to schedule some replacement signings instead.

(4) OPEN LETTER. The “Open Letter to FanX” that Sanderson refers to calls on the convention to do the following thigs:

One: In a public statement, and without disclosing her name, apologize to the victim who filed the sexual harassment report for disclosing their private report to the media without their knowledge or consent. Admit that the victim’s trust was violated, and promise future attendees who may report incidents that they will never undergo the same scrutiny or mishandling. Assure everyone that all reports will be heard, evaluated, and confidential. Keep the victims’ names confidential at all times.

Two: Hire a professional with experience writing, implementing, and upholding sexual harassment policies. Clarify the consequences for breaking the policy and reiterate that those consequences will be upheld. Removal and banishment from the conference should be among those ramifications.

Three: Address harassment complaints quickly. The past complaint was filed in October, and the complaint was not investigated until January. This shows a lack of concern and a reluctance to address the situation, as well as disregard for the seriousness of the issue.

Four: Recognize that trust is earned not through words, policies, and statements, but by a proven track record of implementation and action over time.

It’s signed by Robison Wells, Shannon Hale, Bree Despain, Emily R. King, Ally Condie, and Dean Hale, and co-signed by Brandon Sanderson, Maureen Johnson, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, Annette Lyon, Mette Harrison, J. R. Johansson, Jessica Day George, Courtney Alameda, Lindsey Leavitt, and Sarah M. Eden.

(5) BOMB DISPOSAL. The Washington Post’s Steven Zeitchik, in “How Disney could get Star Wars back on track”, says the relative failure of Solo at the box office shows that Disney will have to take steps to make Star Wars films more appealing, including spacing them out more, making them edgier, and not releasing Star Wars films in May or June.

Fewer movies. Five months is not a long time for Star Wars to be away. Certainly it’s not the year that stretched between the previous three movies, or the 10 years between the last of the George Lucas movies and “The Force Awakens” in 2015. With Marvel that seems to help — releases in quick succession enhance one another. But with Star Wars, seen less as the rapid-fire sequel, novelty and absence may be the key to the game. Disney could do better by going back to the 12-month spacing — or even longer.

Why it’s tricky: This sounds good to fans. The problem is it doesn’t sound good to Wall Street or Disney financial executives. Star Wars movies are such juggernauts that Disney wants to cash in whenever it can. Waiting that long doesn’t help in that bid. Disney and Lucasfilm are encountering a major paradox here. Modern Hollywood says when you have successes you should replicate them early and often. But making Star Wars movies early and often may make them less successful.

(6) SOLO ACT. Guess who’s writing the tie-in? “’Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Novelization Coming In September 4th, Written By Mur Lafferty”.

The Solo novelization is continuing the trend that The Last Jedi novelization started of being released several months after the film.  Previously the novelizations have been released closer to the films theatrical releases.  The original and prequel novelizations were released before the films, while The Force Awakens and Rogue One adaptations were released as e-books the same day as the film and as hardcovers shortly thereafter.

(7) SFWA STUFF. Security protocols may have been breached….

(8) BIG BOX STORE. Adweek reports “Amazon Is Driving Around a Jurassic-Sized Box, and You Can Ask Alexa What’s Inside”. (Registration required to read full article.)

The last time we noticed Amazon driving around a giant box, the mysterious delivery turned out to be a Nissan Versa. But this time, perhaps it’s something a bit more … carnivorous?

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Chip Hitchcock thinks those penguin prognosticators might be right about what’s coming: Arctic Circle Cartoons.
  • Not sure whether I should thank Chip for also making sure I didn’t miss a horrible pop-culture pun at Bliss.

(10) THE DIRECTOR VANISHES. Comics shop owner Cliff Biggers showed this photo to his Facebook friends.

UPS employees like Alfred Hitchcock so much that they opened our package, tore open the action figure packaging, stole the figure, and then re-taped the box and sent it to us.

(11) LISTEN UP. The Parsec Awards Steering Committee is accepting nominations for the 2018 Parsec Awards through June 15 – submit nominations here.

Any material released between May 1, 2017 and April 30, 2018 is eligible for the 2018 awards. Material released needs to be free for download and released via a mechanism that allows for subscriptions. Thus, YouTube, Facebook, etc.. series are eligible.

If you are a podcaster or author, please feel free to nominate your own podcast or story. It is one way we know that your contact information filled is correct.

(12) KEEPING SCORE AT HOME. Seanan McGuire, in the area for ConCarolinas this weekend, took time to rate Ursula Vernon’s cats. Start the thread here —

(13) THE LAW & ANN LECKIE. A little known fact (in some quarters).

(14) SPEAKING OF WHOM. Joe Sherry launches his Nerds of a Feather post series with “Reading the Hugos: Novel”:

Provenance: This is a novel which took a while to settle out from under the weight of unfair expectations that I placed on it. Once it did, I was able to engage more fully with Leckie’s story of truth, lies, and cultural identity. Provenance is a strong novel in its own right, and in the end, I appreciated Leckie’s light touch in how she connected it to the larger Ancillary universe.

It’s just that when we look back on Leckie’s career in twenty years, I suspect Provenance will be viewed as minor Leckie. It’s good, please don’t take this the wrong way, but the Ancillary trilogy was a major accomplishment and Provenance is “just” a very good book. I appreciated how Provenance pushed me to think about historical documents and relics, how their perception of importance could override the truth they should represent. There’s great stuff to chew on here

(15) SOLO REVIEW. And Nerds of a Feather contributor Dean E. S. Richard sounds relieved as much as anything in “Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story”.

The good news: it doesn’t suck! I mean, there’s some forgettable stuff, and Han Solo isn’t, like, Han Solo, but if you’re willing to watch it for the sake of itself and not expect Harrison Ford, it’s fine. It tries a little too hard for quips, and his against-odds/I-don’t-actually-have-a-plan moments come across a little forced, but, again, we’re measuring this against complete disaster, so I’ll take it.

(16) SIPS OF CEASELESS. Charles Payseur comments in “Quick Sips – Beneath Ceaseless Skies #252”

Competition can bring out the worst in people, but as this issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies proves, it can also bring out the best. Both stories this issue are about races, and magical ones at that, featuring women who find themselves squaring off against their lovers (former or current) for the chance to win a great prize. In both stories, though, the actual prize might not matter as much as the competition itself, as the thrill of the race. Because when these characters are faced with what they’d do if they won, the results are…interesting. It’s a wonderfully fun pair of stories, expertly paired, and I’ll stop yammering on in introduction and just get to the reviews!

(17) THE ORIGINS DEBACLE GOES ANOTHER ROUND. According to Larry Correia, who was dropped as a GoH of Origins Game Fair two weeks ago, “Origins sent out yet ANOTHER message about me, and my response” [Internet Archive link].

At Monster Hunter Nation he cites this as the text of Origins’ Executive Director John Ward’s message to educate vendors about the social media uproar following the “disinvitation.”

Good afternoon Exhibitors,

We are a few weeks away from Origins and the anticipation is building!

Things are looking great for this year’s show. The Exhibit Hall is officially sold out and badges are currently trending 15% above pre-registration numbers from 2017.

We have taken a brief hiatus from social media but are fully prepared to continue promoting the show and its exhibitors starting this week. Before we begin communicating through social, there are a few things we wanted to bring to your attention.

Some individuals have rallied online with plans to harass companies exhibiting at the show—this is in response to the disinviting of Larry Correia as a guest at Origins.

To provide you with some background: our original decision to invite Larry as a guest at Origins was simple—he’s a successful author, has been a guest at other conventions in previous years, and any one that knows him knows that he is big into gaming.

Unfortunately, we were not aware of Mr. Correia’s online presence and following. Upon further research we found an abundance of confrontational discourse and polarizing behavior online.

We have nothing against Larry as a person or as a professional, but we have seen the drama that follows him, and we do not want that at Origins.

As an exhibitor at Origins, we wanted you to be aware of the general MO of the group we are explaining:

Company pages are inundated with comments and negative rankings
Employers and publishers are contacted
Messages with keywords regarding to the show are targeted

Time has passed, and things have calmed down, but we should all still be aware of these potential behaviors. If you receive any threats or libel regarding you or your company, please send them to John Ward.

Thank you for your support. Good luck with the final preparations for the show!

Correia explains that he actually believes vendors should be left alone. Except for the ones that deserve what’s happening to them, that is.

My only comments during this entire debacle concerning the vendors was that they should be left alone. The vendors are just small businessmen trying to have a good sales weekend, and they have nothing to do with the incompetence of John Ward.  I’ve specifically gone out of my way to say that to my fans on multiple occasions.

The only vendors I’ve seen animosity directed at were the ones who specifically went out of their way to virtue signal on Twitter about how booting me for having the wrong opinions was So Brave. And that’s a short and very specific list who did that usual social media thing where they decided to throw punches, and then cry about getting punched back afterwards.

But hey, toss that out there. The important thing is that everyone knows Origins is the real victim here.

(18) GAME LOSES STEAM. Who thought this was a good idea? “School shooting game Active Shooter pulled by Steam”.

A game pitched as a “school shooting simulation” has been ditched from Steam’s online store ahead of release.

The title had been criticised by parents of real-life school shooting victims, and an online petition opposing its launch had attracted more than 180,000 signatures.

Steam’s owner, Valve, said it had dropped the game because its developer had a history of bad behaviour.

But the individual named has denied involvement.

Active Shooter came to prominence after the BBC revealed that an anti-gun violence charity had described it as “appalling” last week.

CNN subsequently reported that the families of two students killed in February’s high school attack in Parkland, Florida had described the game as being “despicable” and “horrific”.

(19) LE GUIN FILM. I’ve linked to the trailer before, but here’s a new Bustle post about the project: “This Ursula K. Le Guin Documentary Reveals How Much The Author Struggled To Write Women In Sci-Fi”.

Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, a new documentary by Arwen Curry about the life and legacy of the late author, explores Le Guin’s long career as a pioneer in speculative fiction, including the role of feminism in her work and the struggles she faced teaching herself how to write women into her novels. In the film, which Curry worked on with the author for 10 years, Le Guin admits that “from my own cultural upbringing, I couldn’t go down deep and come up with a woman wizard.” According to the author, she had been “a woman pretending to think like a man,” a behavior she had to unlearn before she could create some of her best work.

As Le Guin tells Curry in the film:

“I had to rethink my entire approach to writing fiction … it was important to think about privilege and power and domination, in terms of gender, which was something science fiction and fantasy had not done. All I changed is the point of view. All of a sudden we are seeing Earthsea … from the point of view of the powerless.”

 

(20) BIG HERO 6 THE SERIES. Coming to a Disney Channel near you. (Which means not very close to me, but maybe to you.)

Hiro, Baymax and the Big Hero 6 team are back and ready to save San Fransokyo! Big Hero 6 The Series premieres Saturday, June 9 at 9A on Disney Channel. The adventure continues for 14-year-old tech genius Hiro and his compassionate, cutting-edge robot Baymax. If dealing with the academic pressure of being the new kid at the prestigious San Fransokyo Institute of Technology weren’t enough, it’s off campus where things really get tricky. Hiro and Baymax, along with their friends Wasabi, Honey Lemon, Go Go and Fred, unite to form the legendary superhero team Big Hero 6, protecting their city from a colorful array of scientifically-enhanced villains intent on creating chaos and mayhem!

 

(21) EXPANSE. Already linked in comments, but let the Scroll Record reflect: “It’s official: Amazon has saved The Expanse”. The Verge story says —

It’s official: The Expanse has been saved. After the Syfy Channel canceled The Expanse earlier this month, Alcon Entertainment has confirmed that Amazon will pick up the show for a fourth season, after after outcry from the show’s fans.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/28/18 Chapter 5 – Our Last, Best Hope For Pixels

(1) MORE ABOUT WISCON’S KILLABLE BODIES PANEL. One of the program participants, Nicasio Reed, put up “a quick mid-WisCon post”. This excerpt is about half of it.

So this morning I was on a 10AM panel at WisCon 42, and it was called The Desire for Killable Bodies in SFF. I’d been very much looking forward to the discussion, even though we’d had little pre-panel discussion about it. It’s a topic that deeply interests me, and that I strive to think deeply about while consuming and creating narratives and characters. The panel was staffed by myself, one other panelist, and a moderator. I was familiar with Molly Aplet, our moderator, who very appropriately made the call to act also a third panelist, because there were just the three of us. Lisa Freitag, my fellow panelist, I knew from one email before the start of the convention, and from a brief conversation in the Dealer’s Room on the Saturday before the panel, when we chatted about texts to bring up. My biggest fear before the panel started was not getting to bring up all the things I wanted to talk about, or not having intelligent responses to the inevitably brilliant audience questions.

Turns out I should be more creative with my fears! As was reported live via Twitter, and then on the WisCon blog, Lisa repeatedly made statements that expressed a desire to sympathize with both individual Nazis (in this context we would be talking about, I believe, Third Reich-era Nazis), and later also individual Confederate soldiers. That this happened once was confusing, surprising, and alarming. That this happened multiple times as the panel went on was flabbergasting, frightening, and finally just damaging.

A lot of people have checked in on me since the panel, making sure I was doing okay, and I appreciate all of you so much. However, I was absolutely not the most affected by what she said, and what she brought into that room. Most saliently, I’m not Jewish. I want to apologize to everyone who was there who was justly rattled, afraid, saddened, or made to feel unsafe. While I gathered myself enough to push back ideologically while on the panel, I didn’t take the step of directly turning to Lisa and saying, in however many words, “That was a fucked up thing to say, and it’s not okay.” The person who did eventually do that was an audience member, who I won’t name here without their permission. (Panelist and moderator names are, of course, public knowledge.) The onus for directly confronting those statements should absolutely not have fallen on the audience, particularly on those most directly and historically affected by the views expressed. That was my failure, and I am extremely sorry for it. So, again, to everyone in the audience who helped to push back, I’m sorry, and thank you….

The blogger Coffeeandink attended the panel and wrote a post detailing some of the discussion.

I don’t feel comfortable naming the panelist, though I wouldn’t say it was wrong to do so, either, and I do link to a post that names them. For this post, though, I’m just going to call them X.

I’m willing to answer questions about what happened. I am not willing to discuss the punishment or the con’s reaction with people who are not targeted by Nazis. If you are not Jewish, Roma, queer, disabled, or nonwhite/a person of color, please have that discussion elsewhere.

  • The discussion was focused on Nazis in Third Reich.
  • X did not express support for Nazi or Confederate ideology. What they did, repeatedly, was express sympathy for Nazi individuals and stress the need to “humanize” Nazis. They mentioned Confederates in support of this, appearing to think that saying that every soldier on both sides was “some mother’s son” was a convincing argument for extending compassion to Nazis. They argued that some Nazis were “good people”.
  • According to Wiscon’s post, X “appeared to posit that disabled or injured people sometimes ‘have to be sacrificed'”, but I was pretty distracted at the point when that came up and can’t confirm it.
  • The panel description focused on SFF “killable bodies” that are stand-ins for marginalized people, so I was not expecting the subject of Nazis as killable bodies rather than as killers to come up. It’s not innately problematic for a panel discussion to have a larger scope than its description, but I think a lot of people had this expectation and that it made the approach X took especially unexpected.
  • Multiple audience members, multiple times, objected to what X was saying. At the end of the panel, one audience member said bluntly, “There’s a difference between understanding Nazis and sympathizing with them.”
  • I remember the audience as being the ones who pushed back most assertively, but the moderator and panelist Nicasio Reed also argued with X after the audience broke the ice. I do not blame anyone for being too startled to respond firmly while in the room. I myself did not speak up.
  • It’s important to recognize and acknowledge the humanity of people who do terrible things. However, when doing so, it is a moral imperative to center the victims of those terrible things. X centered the emotions and conflicts of the perpetrators–directly in the face of survivors or people who would have been targeted, who repeatedly pointed out that this is what X was doing. I do not believe X did spoke out of malice, but this is a topic that requires great care. If X has considered the topic with that care, it was not apparent during the panel….

(2) THE LAST OF LE GUIN. David Naimon on working with a legend at Literary Hub: “Ursula K. Le Guin, Editing to the End”.

Ursula’s final words to me, her final edits on the manuscript of our collected conversations, were in pencil. We had talked in one of these conversations about technology, about how, in her mind, she was unfairly labeled a Luddite. That some of the most perfect tools—a pestle, a kitchen knife—were in fact perfected technologies. I had just received the manuscript from her days before, and the pencil on it reminded me of the aura of in-the-world magic this whole endeavor, bringing a book into the world together, had assumed.

The manuscript had traveled in the world as an object, one carried by foot and passed hand to hand. Our publisher, Tin House, located literally in a house of tin on the corner of a leafy boulevard in Northwest Portland, was just down the hill from Ursula’s home. And by a remarkable twist of fate, as if sharing the same street were not enough, Ursula’s own granddaughter worked as an intern there. It was often her or the book’s editor Tony who would walk up the hill to deliver the pages, or walk up the hill to walk them back down again. …

She could have published most if not all of her books at one of the big five publishers in New York. She could’ve economized and maximized her time by only granting interviews to the likes of Terry Gross, Bill Moyers, and Charlie Rose. And yet she continued to choose small presses, and often ones distant from the hierarchy of the publishing powers in NYC, whether an anarchist press from San Francisco or a feminist science fiction press from Seattle. Similarly, she never said no to her hometown community radio, KBOO, a station that is not Portland’s NPR affiliate, but whose mission statement is to give voice to the voiceless, with shows like Rose City Native Radio, Transpositive PDX, and Black Book Talk. By conventional metrics, KBOO is a small station, both in reach and listenership, and yet you wouldn’t get that impression when Ursula speaks of it…

(3) CALLING ALL HOLLYWOOD ACCOUNTANTS. We Got This Covered puts its flopologist to work: “Disney Responds To Solo: A Star Wars Story Flopping At The Box Office”.

Although the full four-day estimate won’t be released until later today, it’s probably safe to say that the Anthology pic won’t be gunning for the Memorial Day holiday weekend record anymore. As you’ve surely heard, the Ron Howard-directed space western hauled in $83.3 million in its opening weekend and will finish off Monday with about $110 million, nowhere even remotely near the current record holder, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End ($140M).

In a year that’s seen three releases enter the domestic top thirty for all-time opening weekends, Deadpool 2 ($125M), Black Panther ($202M) and Avengers: Infinity War ($257M), the box office failure of Solo: A Stars Wars Story is only amplified that much more.

(4) DANCING IN AND AROUND THE MAY POOL: At Featured Futures, Jason has compiled another month of choice reading to dip into with “Summation: May 2018”.

This month’s baker’s dozen of noted stories (four recommended) comes from the pool of ninety (of 440 Kwds) published between April 30 and May 28. The print zines were individually strongest with Analog and F&SF each contributing multiple tales but the web combined to contribute seven.

While not applicable to the monthly recommendations, I did review a collection this month which had eight reprints (three recommended) that I especially liked.

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY REDWOMBAT

  • Born May 28, 1977 – Ursula Vernon

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY SPOOK

  • Born May 28, 1908 – Ian Fleming. Happy Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) WORD TO THE WIS(E)CON. I wish I could transplant this axiom to the comment section here. Beware the free-floating harshers of squee.

(9) HARDLY A MARVEL. Nicholas Whyte chimes in with his preferences for “The 2018 Hugo finalists for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form”. Landing well below No Award is —

7) Thor: Ragnarok

This is the fourth Marvel Universe film I have seen, but only the third in chronological order – the others were the first Iron Man, which didn’t impress me much, and nor did Captain America: The First Avenger, which I also ranked below No Award. On the other hand there is also Black Panther, made after Thor: Ragnarok but which I saw earlier this year, and loved. I’m afraid Thor: Ragnarok is back to the usual form for me. Not being terribly invested in the characters of the Marvel Universe, let alone the Thor storyline, I could see that the whole thing was trying to be funny but it wasn’t really my fandom. At least Jeff Goldblum was treating it with the approriate level of seriousness. I am sure it will do better than seventh place in the overall vote.

(10) DINING (WAY) OUT. NPR reports “Great White Sharks Have A Secret ‘Cafe,’ And They Led Scientists Right To It”.

“We expected it to be the desert that the textbooks sort of advertised it would be,” said Bruce Robison, a senior scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.

But this was no desert.

A layer of nutrient-rich plant life exists deeper under the ocean than satellites could detect. Tiny creatures feed on it, and larger creatures feed on them. And up and up. It represents “a complete food chain, a ladder of consumption, that made us believe that there was an adequate food supply out here for big animals like tunas and the sharks,” Robison said.

(11) LET’S ALL TWEET LIKE THE ROBOTS DO. Too sensitive: “Bulgarians tweeting in Cyrillic confused for Russian bots”. Twitter has several criteria, ANY of which can cause a tweet or account to be suppressed; using Cyrillic is one of them, despite it being used in 11 countries beside Russia.

Speaking at a United States Senate Committee inquiry into extremist content and Russian disinformation online, Twitter’s acting general counsel Sean Edgett shed some light on why this might be happening.

He said in October 2017 that Twitter’s tools “do not attempt to differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ automation,” when looking for Russian-linked accounts.

“They rely on objective, measurable signals, such as the timing of tweets and engagements to classify a given action as automated.”

What can qualify as a Russian-linked Twitter account?

  • Created in Russia
  • Registered with a Russian phone carrier or email address
  • User’s display name contains Cyrillic characters
  • Tweets are frequently in the Russian language
  • Logged in to Twitter via a Russian IP address even once

“We considered an account to be Russian-linked if it had even one of the relevant criteria,” said Mr Edgett.

(12) DINO DANDER. Might be evidence of the first step towards birds: “Dinosaur dandruff reveals first evidence of skin shedding”

An analysis of fossilised dandruff fragments has given scientists their first evidence of how dinosaurs and early birds shed their skin.

Found among the plumage of these ancient creatures, the 125-million-year-old flakes are almost identical to those found in modern birds.

It shows that these dinosaurs shed their skins in small pieces, and not all at once like many modern reptiles.

It’s more evidence that early birds had limited flying skills, the authors say.

(13) FUN FOR ALL. Here’s video of the Anime North 2018 religious protesters. (There’s several posts about them in Reddit’s Anime North thread.)

These guys show up every year. The congoers also do this every year [play songs on a loudspeaker].

 

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

Pixel Scroll 5/25/18 The Prospect Of Incontinent Hobgoblins

(1) FANX FLOUNDERS ON. How long will FanX’s Bryan Brandenburg’s “indefinite leave” be?

FanX’s other leader, Dan Farr, now has added his own statement and apology.

I, Dan Farr, apologize fully for any instances in which a participant has felt unsafe. We do not condone these behaviors, from anyone.

It is not our role or responsibility to judge any individual nor to disparage or use inflammatory language about any participant in our conference. It is our role to do all within our power to keep our participants safe. Our conversation with the author resulted in a mutual agreement that he will not be participating in our future events. With this agreement, we consider the matter resolved.

Additionally, my partner and cofounder, Bryan Brandenburg has made a personal and heartfelt apology for his remarks on social media that were insensitive about our attendees’ sexual harassment concerns.

However, continued postings in social media and the press have shown energy and anger to a level that Bryan has decided that his continued participation, for now, is a distraction from the goals we are striving to uphold.

Beginning immediately, Bryan Brandenburg is taking an executive leave that he hopes and believes will help to dispel the negative energy that is taking us away from our greater mission and goals. While he has not suggested a timeframe, this leave may not be permanent. We hope to see Bryan at our September event with his wife and new son.

As for Brandenburg stepping back from social media – well, he’s stepped back from where the public can see it, but he’s still busy posting – see the screencaps in this set of tweets.

Yesterday’s latest Salt Lake Tribune coverage quoted from one of the screencaps that showed Brandenburg justifying how FanX dealt with the Richard Evans harassment complaint:

The comments were later deleted, but not before screengrabs circulated on Twitter.

“We absolutely could not publicly ban [Evans],” Brandenburg wrote. “We had no proof. We would be sued for libel and defamation from Richard. Then it would get out that you would be banned and humiliated from FanX for kissing a guest on the cheek and touching her. We would be out of business. Nobody would care to read the details. We did not see it happen. It would be her word against his.”

Hale has questioned whether organizers attempted to talk to people who may have witnessed the interaction, and whether Brandenburg’s statement means that allegations won’t be looked into if they weren’t witnessed by FanX employees.

FanX’s new harassment policy promises that every report of harassment will be investigated.

Howard Tayler’s Twitter thread deconstructs the Brandenburg rationale, quoted in the Tribune. The thread starts here:

And includes these comments:

(2) OH, THE NONHUMANITY! Here’s an admirable idea for a listicle: “The 12 Most Gratuitous Robot Deaths in Sci-Fi” at Tor.com.

Sometimes it feels like robots only exist to be abused, you know? We love them and the window they provide on the human condition, but science fiction is usually pretty mean to them overall. It loves to torment robots (and when we say “robots” we’re really talking about any form of android or A.I. or sentient toaster or what-have-you) with the constant threat of obsolescence or deactivation or destruction. And some of these deaths are just plain gratuitous, leaving us betrayed, bewildered, and otherwise bereaved.

Here are the worst of them….

(3) MORE POOH. Here’s is Disney’s Christopher Robin Official Trailer. In theaters August 3.

In the heartwarming live action adventure Disney’s “Christopher Robin,” the young boy who shared countless adventures with his band of lovable stuffed animals in the Hundred Acre Wood is now grown up and living in London but he has lost his way. Now it is up to his childhood friends to venture into our world and help Christopher Robin rediscover the joys of family life, the value of friendship and to appreciate the simple pleasures in life once again.

 

(4) NEWSLETTER SIGNUP INCENTIVE. Get to know seven authors and fill a shelf with science fiction and fantasy — The SFF Grand Newsletter Giveaway is a chance to win a dozen signed books. The seven writers in this international group range from debut to established, and from near-future thrillers to high fantasy — Aliette de Bodard, SL Huang, Beth Cato, Kate Heartfield, Jim C. Hines, Kate Elliott, and JY Yang.

Between May 25 and June 25, readers can enter the giveaway once for each author, for up to seven entries. For each author, entrants will have the choice of subscribing to that author’s newsletter to enter (signing up for the newsletter is not required to be entered in the giveaway). Existing subscribers to an author’s newsletter can simply choose the giveaway-only option to receive an entry for that author.

The contest is open worldwide. One winner (chosen at random) will receive signed, physical copies of all the books:

  • The first three Tensorate novellas by JY Yang
  • The complete Court of Fives trilogy by Kate Elliott if the winner has a U.S. address, or a choice of one of the following by Kate Elliott if the winner has a non-U.S. address: Court of Fives, Cold Magic, Black Wolves, or Spirit Gate
  • Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines
  • Breath of Earth by Beth Cato
  • Zero Sum Game by SL Huang and The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist (novelette) by SL Huang
  • The Tea Master and the Detective and The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard
  • Armed in Her Fashion and Alice Payne Arrives by Kate Heartfield

Everyone who uses this page to sign up for ANY of our newsletters before June 25 will be entered into the giveaway! You can enter once for each author, for up to 7 entries. From among ALL entries we’ll draw ONE lucky winner — who will receive SIGNED BOOKS from every one of us! A chance to win a dozen or more signed books — a whole shelf of new SFF!

(5) WRITER V. CHARACTER. Ian Sales, in “His master’s voice”, defends his criticism of a Clarke Award finalist.

So, a couple of days ago I tweeted a short quote from the book I was reading, one of this year’s Clarke Award finalists, and remarked that I was surprised to find the position expressed in the quote in a genre novel published in 2017. Most people who saw my tweet were as dismayed as I was – although, to be fair, they saw only my quote.

Which changes things. Apparently.

The book in question is Sea of Rust by C Robert Cargill, and the exact quote was “Gender is defined by genitalia”, which is spoken by the book’s narrator, Brittle, a robot, in a paragraph in which “she” admits that robots have no gender, it is not something “she” has ever thought about, but she henceforth chooses to define herself as female.

Two people I consider friends – very smart people both, and genre critics whose opinions I respect* – decided to insult my intelligence by questioning by understanding of how narrative works. Because the offending phrase – and it is offensive – was spoken by a character, they stated, that does not mean it reflects the author’s sensibilities. As another friend pointed out, I have myself written fiction featuring Nazis – and I have: ‘Wunderwaffe’ – but that obviously does not make me a Nazi. This is indeed true. Cargill has written a novel about robots, in which the first person narrator is a robot… but obviously he is not a robot himself. I never claimed this.

But the people arguing against my comment were themselves making the same assumption about me they were accusing myself of making against Cargill. Except, I think my position is backed up by the narrative.

…So yes, I do understand how narrative works. I also understand how writing works. And while I may not be as accomplished at writing as others… and I may place a higher value on narrative rigour than most people… I stand my original position:

Unless the narrative evidences a foundation for a sensibility or attitude, then it’s reasonable to assume it is a sensibility or attitude of the author that has leaked through into the narrative.

(6) MARY SHELLEY BIOPIC. NPR’s Mark Jenkins says “‘Mary Shelley’ Is Less Than The Sum Of Its Parts”

Given the familiarity of the material, the makers of Mary Shelley would have been smart to find a new approach. Philosophically, they sort of do, giving Mary more credit than usual for both her work and her choices.

Stylistically, though, the movie is all too typical of the 19th-century British literary/romantic drama. It presents London circa 1815 as misery for the poor, the young, the female, and the liberal-minded — and yet picturesque enough for a tourist brochure, suffused with dappled sun-, lamp- and candlelight and swathed in yearning music.

(7) BAIN OBIT. Meredith marks the passing of “John Bain, also known as TotalBiscuit, the Cynical Brit, who died yesterday after being diagnosed with inoperable cancer in 2015. He was a popular gaming YouTuber and started out by covering the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm expansion before moving on to wider coverage, including a lot of indie games. He championed games on the PC and was always honest about his opinions of games, beginning in a time when that was far less common.”

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • May 25, 1953 It Came From Outer Space appeared in theaters, a movie based on a story by Ray Bradbury.
  • May 25, 1977Star Wars premiered.
  • May 25, 1983Return of the Jedi opened in theaters.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY MUPPETEER

  • Born May 25, 1944 – Frank Oz

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Cat Eldridge says “I’ve had dozens of emails telling me about the organization and how it’s complying with GDPR.” And now Xkcd is getting in on the act.

(11) NATAL DAY. Steven H Silver celebrates: “Birthday Reviews: Vera Nazarian’s ‘Salmon in the Drain Pipe’” at Black Gate.

Nazarian was nominated for a WSFA Small Press Award for her short story “Port Custodial Blues” in 2007. The following year she received a nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Short Story for “The Story of Love.” She also received a Nebula nomination in 2009 for her novella The Duke in His Castle. In addition to writing, Nazarian has worked as the editor and publisher of Norilana Books since the company’s founding in 2006.

(12) KNOWS ALL, HEARS ALL, TELLS ALL. The Guardian asks “Alexa, when did the Church of England become so tech-savvy?”

The Amazon assistant can now help you with your Anglican needs. Just don’t expect answers to the really big questions…

Thomas Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer was well ahead of its time when in 1549 it addressed “Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be opened, all desires known, and no secrets hid” – but it would take nearly five centuries for the church to turn this vision into technology. For now there is a Church of England “skill” – a set of canned responses – on , Amazon’s virtual assistant which can give its answer to 30 religious questions. It doesn’t answer the interesting ones though. “Alexa, ask the Church of England how can I be saved?” produces a silence easily interpreted as baffled, and I don’t think this is because the Church of England long ago decided that I couldn’t be….

(13) SFF IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. Here’s another list to pick apart, BBC Culture’s “The 100 stories that shaped the world”. Homer’s Odyssey is number 1.

Chip Hitchcock celebrates that “SFF cracked the top 5,” and he tentatively identifies the stories with these rankings as SFF: 3, 4, 15, 16, 44, 67?, 71, 72, 73? 83?

(14) THEY WERE THERE. “How ancient DNA is transforming our view of the past” the “pots not people” (cultural exchange) view is giving way to knowledge that there were huge population shifts, e.g. Stonehenge builders disappearing under flood of Beaker People.

…Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, studies of ancient DNA from our own species were highly contentious because of observations that skeletal remains were easily contaminated by the DNA of living people.

As such, there were always nagging doubts about whether a genetic sequence belonged to the long-dead individual being studied or to an archaeologist involved in excavating the remains, a museum curator who had handled them, or a visitor to the lab where they were being analysed.

However, crucial progress in overcoming these obstacles began in the late 90s with the effort to sequence DNA from Neanderthals, which was led by Professor Svante Pääbo at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

Pääbo’s group developed a set of protocols to prevent contamination slipping through, including having the same samples sequenced in two laboratories by different teams….

But the field experienced a revolution with the emergence of so-called next-generation sequencing technology. When an organism dies, the DNA in its cells begins to break down – over time it splits into smaller and smaller chunks, as well as accumulating other forms of damage.

It also gets contaminated with vast amounts of microbial DNA from the wider environment. The new sequencing machines could be used to isolate the human genetic material from bacterial DNA and then stitch together the tiny fragments into a readable sequence….

(15) ROADBLOCK. Traffic came to a standstill when….

(16) SFWA GAME CHAT. The inaugural episode of SFWA Game Chat aired this week on YouTube, hosted by Cat Rambo with Monica Valentinelli.

Did you know that SFWA now admits science fiction and fantasy game writers? Cat Rambo introduces a new show that discusses sci-fi/fantasy game writing!

 

(17) GAMING PIONEER. The Great Big Story has released a piece on the woman behind the design of the early 80’s text-based computer/adventure game, The Hobbit. Veronika Megler fell out of contact with the company that developed the game and went for many years without knowing how successful it was and how many lives it touched: “The Hunt for ‘The Hobbit’s’ Missing Hero”.

The six and a half minute video is great and the story of how (now) Dr. Megler has seized upon the lasting power of the game to help address gender balance in computer science is affecting.

 

(18) NOT AGENT 86. Missed out on this shoephone revival:

T-Mobile’s Sidekick gets a remake! Inspired by the past but stepping boldly into the future, it has revolutionary AI, headphones that double as chargers, personalized GPS guidance by John Legere, and more!

 

(19) SECOND OPINION. NPR’s Justin Chang calls Solo “A High-Speed, Low-Energy Intergalactic Heist”:

It was a good sign when Alden Ehrenreich, the terrific young actor from “Tetro” and “Hail, Caesar!” was cast as Han and also when Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the merry comic daredevils behind “The Lego Movie” and “21 Jump Street,” were hired to direct. But then Lord and Miller were fired last year due to apparently irreconcilable creative differences. And you could sense the iron will of Lucasfilm asserting itself. God forbid anyone should try to inject a little wit or personality into this surefire cash cow.

The directors were replaced by the much more risk-averse Ron Howard. And as a consequence, what might have once been a fresh and funny tour de force has devolved into bland, impersonal hackwork.

(20) CANTINA CHOW. Extra Crispy’s Tim Nelson was not impressed with the Solo/Denny’s promotional campaign, launched in April, that included trading cards and (not so) special menu items.

In Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Obi Wan Kenobi warns Luke Skywalker that “you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy” than Mos Eiseley, home to the cantina where viewers first meet smuggler and scoundrel Han Solo. It’s also a fitting way to describe any Denny’s located within stumbling distance of a bar after 11 p.m.

…With proceeds from trading card purchases going to help fund nonprofit organization No Kid Hungry, the whole thing seems inoffensive enough. But if some leaked information posted on a Star Wars forum is true, some of the Solo-themed menu items seem a bit silly.

There’s the “lightspeed slam,” a healthy dish that looks more like something from a depressed nutritionist’s Instagram than a meal fit for the Star Wars universe. While Denny’s earns some points for the inclusion of “Crystal Crunch Rocks” in a milkshake and a stack of pancakes, that looks to be the closest the menu gets to anything outside the universe of the diner chain’s typical fare.

As with past Star Wars-food tie-ins, one has to wonder what purpose putting ghost pepper sauce on a bacon cheeseburger and passing it off as something Han Solo might eat ultimately serves. Why not at least serve pancakes shaped like Chewbacca’s face?

(21) NO RECIPE FOR SUCCESS? Mad Genius Club’s Peter Grant made the point that “Writing books is not like frying shrimp”, inspired by the hilarious commercial linked below.

Trouble is, some new entrants into the book-writing and -publishing business think that their ambitions can be realized in a very similar fashion.  Just set up everything, add pre-set ingredients according to some arcane recipe, strike a spark, and voila!  It’s done!

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Meredith, Chip Hitchcock, SL Huang, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, JJ, IanP, and Daniel Dern for some of these stories, Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Elisa.]

Pixel Scroll 5/12/18 Don’t Pixel Under The Kitten-Tree With Anyscroll Else But Me

(1) PLUG PULLED ON GAMING CON. The Dark Carnival Games convention in Denver was shut down by the hotel this weekend. Violence between some people on the premises seems to have been the cause – for example, see this video of a fight that purportedly occurred there.

Trae Dorn explains one of the con’s unusual characteristics in his post at Nerd & Tie.

Dark Carnival Games Con (or “Dark Carnival Game Con” according to some of the other official materials) isn’t exactly your typical gaming convention. It’s a game convention for Juggalos hosted by the Insane Clown Posse themselves.

In fact, after the shutdown, Insane Clown Posse issued a statement on Facebook:

…Juggalos…we love you. We appreciate you. And we acknowledge all your wonderful work and creativity in making DCG a Dark Carnival blessed and beautiful space that was truly For Juggalos, By Juggalos. However, due to circumstances that are beyond our control, the DCG Con Conventiion Hall has been shut down, to the tears and heartbreak of our wonderful 100% Juggalo-run staff and amazing attendees who put their hearts and souls into making this space for our beloved Juggalo Family. This was COMPLETELY out of our hands, ninjas. We here at Psychopathic Records apologize and we are with you, we will be here in the hotel, and we love you more than you will ever know….

(2) ARE CODES OF CONDUCT WORKING? Alisa Krasnostein has made available the results of her “Audit of Australian Science Fiction convention Codes of Conduct”. Her survey received 81 responses. Analysis and graphs at the link.

Executive Summary

After personally hearing recounts of a few very troubling incidents, I decided to conduct a survey of attendees at Australian SF conventions to assess the prevalence of harassment still being experienced there….

…Drilling down into the details of how these codes of conduct are being enforced, and how complaints are being addressed, raised some real issues for concern.

The successful enforcement of a code of conduct relies on a reporting process that is well publicised, accessible, supportive, safe and trusted.

Only 85% of the respondents were aware of the code of conduct. 70% knew whom to approach for assistance as per the code of conduct. All three of the main SF conventions inform attendees to report any incidents of harassment to the convention committee. Swancon includes WASFF board members as a point of contact. Only one of the conventions tells attendees how to identify these points of contact (by the colour of their con badge).

I find this to be grossly insufficient. It relies on convention attendees to know not only the names but also match them to the faces of organisers of the event they are attending, and to be able to locate them during a personally stressful or distressing time. Additionally, in my experience, both as a convention attendee and organiser, convention committee members are incredibly busy and not remotely accessible at the best of times. Let alone when you need a quiet and private moment to lodge an upsetting complaint….

(3) AS IF MILLONS OF VOICES SUDDENLY CRIED OUT. Inverse reports “That pesky Obi-Wan Kenobi movie might actually be happening” — “Obi-Wan ‘Star Wars’ Movie Rumored to Be in Secret Pre-Production”.

Since August of 2017, persistent rumors have suggested that a standalone Star Wars movie about Obi-Wan Kenobi, and starring Ewan McGregor is definitely going to happen. However, since then, there has been no official confirmation from Lucasfilm about this project. But, on Thursday, the day of the early Los Angeles premiere of Solo: A Star Wars Story, a new rumor surfaced that the Obi-Wan movie is already in secret pre-production.

…[A]ccording to an anonymous source who spoke to Fantha Tracks on Thursday, “The project is sufficiently along that an art department is now in full pre-production mode at Pinewood Studios, England…A number of concept artists, prop modelers, and storyboard artists are working as a team across the two locations on the film…”

(4) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman says don’t miss a chance to  chow down on chive dumplings with Mary SanGiovanni in Episode 66 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast. Scott adds, “Warning: The post — though not the episode itself — include video of me strumming ‘Monster Mash’ on the ukulele!” Hm, I better see if my liability insurance covers that….

Did you listen to the 24-hour Scares That Care Telethon, hosted by Brian Keene and his cohorts from The Horror Show with Brian Keene podcast, which ended at noon today after having raised $21,591 for that 501c3 charity devoted to helping those coping with childhood illness, burns and breast cancer? If not, don’t worry. Because though its content was for the most part livestreamed only, never to be seen or heard again, I’ve got some of it for you right here.

Because once again, Eating the Fantastic invaded!

During last year’s telethon, as captured in Episode 34, I brought BBQ and chatted with that best-selling zombie author himself, while this year I picked up takeout from Viet Thai Cafe for dinner with Mary SanGiovanni.

Mary’s the author of The Hollower trilogy, the first volume of which was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award, plus the recent novels Chills and Savage Woods. Her collections include Under Cover of Night, A Darkling Plain, and Night Moves. She’s also the host of the Cosmic Shenanigans podcast.

We discussed H. P. Lovecraft’s racism and sexuality (or lack thereof), how having grown up in New Jersey might have given her the toughness she needed to survive her early short story rejections, why she ended up writing horror instead of science fiction even though her father read her Isaac Asimov and Frank Herbert when she was a kid, which novella she wrote that will never see the light of day, how watching The Exorcist III changed her life, why she’s no longer afraid of vampires, the reason her motto if she founded a religious cult would be “doorways are meant to be opened,” the first writer she met who treated her like an equal, the identify of “the George Carlin of Horror,” and much, much more.

(5) PREFERRED BOOKSTORES. N. K. Jemisin contributed to Lonely Planet’s list: “11 authors recommend US bookstores worth traveling for”.

WORD Books in Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Recommended by NK Jemisin, author of The Stone Sky

WORD Books in Greenpoint is probably my current favorite. It’s tiny and cramped, yet they consistently manage to have at least one book that I absolutely HAVE to buy, every time I go there. And the downstairs event space makes up for the tight fit upstairs; I had the launch party for The Fifth Season there and it was lovely. There was even enough room for a homemade volcano! And readings, and talks and more. It’s on a gorgeous street with historic architecture and a little park, easily bike-able or train-able. All they lack is a bookstore cat. Why don’t bookstores do those anymore? Oh, allergies. Well, it’s perfect except for that.

(6) BUD PLANT OUT. One of the San Diego Comic-Con giants is going away: “Comic-Con Pioneer Vendor, Bud Plant, Calls it Quits After 48 Years”.

“I’m proud that we had as many as 11 booths up until 2008, 10 of new products and one with out-of-print material,” he said. “But since that disastrous year, when sales dropped by 40 percent, we’ve been downsizing in an effort to still make it work.”

Francis “Bud” Plant, 66, of Grass Valley noted how he spent “seven full days on the road” and 13-hour days at the annual July show.

He said event organizers had always treated him well, but “attendees these days are, in general, not our customers or they are not looking for books.”

(7) WHO’S WHO IN EOFANDOM. Fanac.org posted a scan of L.D. Broyles’ “1961 Who’s Who #1”. Lots of fans you never heard of before, I betcha. However, I did pretty well on page 4 – recognized 5 out of 9 fans listed, including Greg Benford and Ruth Berman. You might be intrigued by Roger Ebert’s entry, from before he made the big time —

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • May 12, 1988 Earth Girls Are Easy premiered on this day.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) WE INTERRUPT THIS WAKE… After Syfy cancelled The Expanse The Verge’s Andrew Liptak found a way to soften the blow: “The Expanse author James S.A. Corey is writing a new space opera trilogy”.

Coming off of this morning’s news that the Syfy channel was not going to renew The Expanse for a fourth season, there is some positive news for fans of the series: Orbit Books has announced that it has signed Expanse author James S.A. Corey for three books of a new space opera series.

Corey is actually two authors: Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, who co-wrote The Expanse series, which is expected to run for nine novels, the last of which will hit bookstores in 2019. That series has become a popular hit with readers and was adapted as a television show on the Syfy channel that premiered in 2015 with Abraham and Franck as producers. The duo have written outside of the series before: they wrote a Star Wars novel about Han Solo in 2014, Honor Among Thieves. Abraham tells The Verge that Orbit is where James S.A. Corey really began, and I’m delighted that we have another projected queued up with them once The Expanse is complete.”

(11) DISNEY WORLD’S HOTTEST ATTRACTION – FOR ONE DAY. Syfy Wire has videos and stills — “WATCH: Maleficent the dragon bursts into flames during Disney World parade”.

We all know that dragons are supposed to breathe fire, not catch fire. Well,  Maleficent never got that memo.

Friday afternoon, during the Festival of Fantasy parade at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, an enormous animatronic float of Maleficent in dragon form caught fire. The fire occurred when the dragon arrived in Liberty Square, with about 15 minutes remaining in the parade. No one was injured, and the fire was extinguished quickly.

 

(12) A PENNY FOR YOUR VIKING THOUGHTS. Atlas Obscura delves into “The Mystery of Maine’s Viking Penny”.

On February 6, 1979, Kolbjørn Skaare, a Norwegian numismatist with a tall, wide forehead, walked into the Maine State Museum to see the coin. Just a few years earlier, he had published Coins and Coinage in Viking-Age Norway, a doctoral thesis that grew from the decade-plus he had spent as a keeper at the University of Oslo’s Coin Cabinet. The first specialist to examine the coin in person, he had just a day with it before Bruce J. Bourque, the museum’s lead archaeologist, had to address the national press.

Skaare saw “a dark-grey, fragmentary piece,” he later wrote. It had not been found whole, and the coin had continued to shed tiny bits since it was first weighed. A little less than two-thirds of an inch in diameter, it had a cross on one side, with two horizontal lines, and on the other side “an animal-like figure in a rather barbarous design,” with a curved throat and hair like a horse’s mane. In his opinion, it was an authentic Norwegian penny from the second half of the 11th century.

The mystery centered on its journey from Norway to Maine. It was possible to imagine, for example, that it had traveled through the hands of traders, from farther up the Atlantic coast, where Norse explorer Leif Eriksson was known to have built a winter camp. If the coin had come to America in the more recent decades, the hoaxer—presumably Mellgren, Runge, or someone playing a trick on them—must have been able to obtain a medieval Norse coin.

(13) FAMILIAR FIGURE. Here’s something else in silver that’s come from the mint a little more recently…. The New Zealand Mint has just introduced its very first Star Trek pure silver miniature: “Captain Kirk Takes the Silver”.

3D master sculptor Alejandro Pereira Ezcurra designed the Kirk miniature, which is available now in a limited worldwide production of only 1,000 casts. Produced from a minimum of 150g pure silver, it stands approx 10cm tall, is finished with an antique polish, and features a unique production number stamped into the base.

 

They want US$550 for the Captain. The New Zealand Mint is also offering some less expensive silver Trek collectibles. There’s a series of coin notes with images of the Classic Trek crew. Who knew the day would come when money would be issued with Lt. Uhura on one side and Queen Elizabeth II on the other?

Made from 5g of pure silver, the note’s reverse has images of Uhura and the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 and is coloured and engraved with Star Trek themes.

The obverse features the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and is legal tender in Niue.

(14) REPOPULATION TROPE. Wired headline: “How Hard Could It Be to Repopulate the Planet?” Editor Gordon Van Gelder addresses repopulating the Earth stories (including his collection Go Forth and Multiply), John W. Campbell, and much more in an episode of Wired’s Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy.

In the 1950s many science fiction writers explored the idea of a global disaster that leaves behind only a single man and woman, who would then have to carry on the human race. According to science fiction editor Gordon Van Gelder, a popular variant of this idea featured a twist ending in which the last man and woman turn out to be Adam and Eve.

“It was one of those stories that science fiction would lend itself to so readily, and newbies would be drawn to it, like ants going to a sugar cube,” Van Gelder says in Episode 308 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast.

The idea became so overused that magazines would specifically prohibit writers from submitting “Adam and Eve stories.” And while such stories would remain the bane of science fiction editors for decades, the theme of repopulation also produced a number of interesting thought experiments, many of which Van Gelder collected in his recent book Go Forth and Multiply. He says that despite obvious concerns about inbreeding, the idea of one man and one woman repopulating the world isn’t impossible.

(15) SWIMMING THE CHANNELS. SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie says, “Unless you have one of those new-fangled colour television things with auto-record, this Thursday 9 p.m. gives us Brit SF fans a tough choice.” At that hour they have to pick between —

  • Channel 4 the new season of Humans:

  • Or BBC4 and the French SF series Missions:

(16) WHIRLYBIRD. BBC reports “NASA will send helicopter to Mars to test otherworldly flight”.

The Mars Helicopter will be bundled with the US space agency’s Mars rover when it launches in 2020.

Its design team spent more than four years shrinking a working helicopter to “the size of a softball” and cutting its weight to 1.8kg (4lbs).

It is specifically designed to fly in the atmosphere of Mars, which is 100 times thinner than Earth’s.

(17) WHERE DINOS TROD. In case you hadn’t heard, some people are idiots: “Utah tourists urged to stop throwing dinosaur tracks in lake”.

Visitors to a US state park in Utah have been destroying 200 million-year-old dinosaur tracks by throwing them into the water, park officials say.

While this has been an ongoing problem for many years, officials say the damaging behaviour has increased dramatically in the last six months.

The dinosaur tracks are one of the biggest draws to Red Fleet State Park and many have been irrevocably damaged.

Visitors have been throwing the tracks around as if they were merely rocks.

(18) USING SPACE. The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna, in “Here’s why 2018 is a huge moment in the history of political cartoons”, studies the work of such prize-winning political cartoonists as Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, and Jen Sorensen and finds they are more like multi-panel comics than they used to be.

Many veteran political cartoonists occasionally create longer-form comics, but traditionally that work hasn’t garnered the mainstream awards. Now, formal recognition is catching up to both changing technology and new pools of talent.

“Without the space constraints print always had,” Sutton notes of drawing in an online era, “the number of panels in a cartoon is no longer the pressing issue it once was” — so more cartoonists can diversify their formats.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Destino:  Walt Disney & Salvador Dali (1945-2003)” is a short animated film on YouTube begun by Salvador Dali in 1945 and abandoned and ultimately completed by Disney in 2003.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Errolwi, Michael J. Walsh. Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Scott Edelman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Andrew and Lee.]