Pixel Scroll 9/3/18 That Was The Scroll That Was

(1) CINERAMA. GeekWire’s Frank Catalano writes, “I thought you might like to know that I went behind the scenes at Seattle Cinerama, one of only three movie theaters left in the world that can show Cinerama-formatted films, and one of only two which still uses the ‘Cinerama’ name (the other one is in Hollywood)” — “Behind the scenes at Cinerama: Landmark movie house becomes an international pop culture draw”

“Seattle’s Cinerama has gone deeply into science fiction and fantasy pop culture, becoming something of a hub for new releases, including encouraging cosplay at premieres. Perhaps not a surprise, it’s owned by Paul Allen, former Microsoft co-founder and longtime science-fiction fan. The link above is to both my story, and a half-hour podcast walk-through of Seattle Cinerama with its manager.”

Walk into the theater with its wide curved screen, reclining red seats and star field-like ceiling panels and it, “just looks like a spaceship,” Caldwell said. “It truly does. You look at our screen when the curtains open and I like to think of it as the window looking out of the spaceship.” (You can take a virtual Google Maps tour here.)

But Cinerama has more than one screen. The one you see for most movies hides a second screen behind it, a deeply curved, two-thousand strip louvered Cinerama screen.

“We last brought it out in 2013,” Caldwell said. “It’s quite the undertaking actually. We have to tear down the existing screen, tear down the sound wall, and then erect the three panels of the 146-degree curved screen. And the sound wall for that curved screen.”

(2) WORLDBUILDING NEAR THE PRIMARY. Juliette Wade has an interview with Mimi Mondal at Dive into Worldbuilding. You can watch it on video, and read the synopsis:

…In 2013, Mimi wrote a self-contained story in the circus. She calls it her “most accepted story,” because it was published by Podcastle, and got her into Clarion West and into an MFA program.

I asked Mimi about the intersection between her stories and the science fiction/fantasy genre. The connection is actually quite fascinating. Mimi says she reads a lot of history and likes it. There was a big flourishing circus scene in India from the 1890’s to the 1930’s. Circus as a form was developing all over the world. In India, it took in many traditional performers. It has a Steampunk aesthetic to some degree, but is later than the Victorian period, because the values of the Victorians trickled into the colonies later. Mimi describes the circus as a very interesting social space, breaking traditional structures. There is space for mystery, and she uses it to explore Indian folklore. There are nonhumans here, pretending to be human. In the circus environment, you don’t ask questions because no one else is normal either. If you worked in an office, you would need paperwork, but the circus is not even grounded in one place because it travels. She started writing a long sequence of events, “chunk by chunk.” Her focus is on using parts of Indian mythology that are not well known. While she was writing these pieces, she was learning craft skills and working on her awareness of gaze….

 

(3) RADIO 4. Listen to the new Dangerous Visions drama on BBC Radio 4:

Resistance (3-part BBC radio play on BBC Radio 4)

Just broadcast this week and available on BBC i-Player for a month is a three-part radio play about antibiotic resistance.

Starting at a music festival with many from all over the globe, craft sausages from pigs fed with antibiotic growth promoters also contain more than anyone thought.

When a mysterious bacterial infection starts to spread, and then mutate, it becomes unstoppable.  When the deaths top a million, politicians start to worry…

 

SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie says, “This mini-series used a microbiologist endorsed by the Wellcome Trust (the world’s largest medical research funding charity) for its science. Scary.”

(4) A KIND OF GAS STATION ON MARS. A Yahoo! columnist says “NASA will pay you up to $750,000 to come up with a way to turn CO2 into other molecules on Mars”.

Missions to Mars will need to be as lean as possible, meaning that using any available resources on the Red Planet will be of utmost importance. With that in mind, NASA just announced the CO2 Conversion Challenge, which asks teams of scientists and inventors to come up with a way to turn CO2 into molecules that can be used to produce all manner of things. And there’s big prize money on the line.

To start, NASA is asking teams to focus on converting CO2 to Glucose, but the language of the challenge suggests you can approach that goal from any angle you wish:

Help us discover ways to develop novel synthesis technologies that use carbon dioxide (CO2) as the sole carbon source to generate molecules that can be used to manufacture a variety of products, including “substrates” for use in microbial bioreactors.

Because CO2 is readily abundant within the Martian atmosphere, such technologies will translate into in-situ manufacturing of products to enable humans to live and thrive on the planet, and also be implemented on Earth by using both waste and atmospheric CO2 as a resource.

(5) REMAKING IT SO. The Star Trek: TNG cast had a reunion over the weekend:

(6) NIMBY. It won’t be coming in for a landing after all — “Plans for U.F.O.-Like Home in Norway Are Rejected” reports the New York Times.

Controversial plans by the Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaardand the renowned architecture firm Snohetta to build a U.F.O-like home in the suburbs of Oslo have been rejected by the local authorities.

The project, which was generally known as “A House to Die In” and represented an ambitious attempt to turn expressive sketches by Mr. Melgaard into architecture, had aroused condemnation because of its location, near the former winter studio of Edvard Munch. Artists and preservationists had spoken out against the project, arguing that it represents a threat to the legacy of Munch, Norway’s best-known artist and the painter of “The Scream.”

The project had already been approved by local and national preservation authorities, but on Aug. 20, municipal lawmakers from several parties announced they would support a proposal to scuttle the plans, effectively dooming the project. A final vote by the Oslo City Council will be held next Wednesday….

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 3, 1953Cat-Women of the Moon premiered

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 3, 1849 – Sarah Orne Jewett. Maine author whose fiction reflected her lifelong fascination with the supernatural. Ash-Tree Press in 1998 collected much of her short work together in Lady Ferry and Other Uncanny People.
  • Born September 3 – Alison Lurie, 92. Editor of the Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales, and has written to date a number of fantasy stories such as “Counting Sheep”, “Another Halloween” and “Something Borrowed, Something Blue”. Also wrote the excellent Don’t Tell the Grown-Ups: Subversive Children’s Literature.
  • Born September 3 – Faren Miller, 68. Writer of one novel, The Illusionist, she worked full-time for Locus from 1981 to 2000, and continues to review genre fiction to this day for Locus
  • Born September 3 – John Picacio, 49. Illustrator of many a genre work. Need I say that great cover art enhances any genre work? Among the works I’ve by him that are graced by his work arête 2003 Edition of Effinger’s Budayeen Nights, the 2004 edition of Pohl’s Gateways and Bowes’ From the Files of the Time Rangers. Much of his work is gathered in Cover Story: The Art of John Picacio.

(9) DRAGON AWARDS IN PERSPECTIVE. Doris V. Sutherland covers the third round of the award in “2018 Dragon Awards: Big-Name Winners and Little Controversy” at Women Write About Comics.

One noticeable thing about this year’s Dragon Awards is just how quiet they were. The awards made their debut in 2016, in the shadow of the right-wing Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies campaigns that had occurred at the Hugos. In their first two years, the Dragon Awards were something of a battlefield, with the Puppy campaigns inspiring multiple splinters and imitators—including the Red Panda Fraction, a left-wing group which, controversially, adopted the same tactics as the right-wing Puppies. Over time, however, the aftershocks from the Puppy campaigns quietened down, something that can be seen simply by comparing the ballots. The pro-Puppy authors John C. Wright, Brian Niemeier, and Declan Finn were finalists in both 2016 (when Wright and Niemeier won in their respective categories) and in 2017; and yet they are all missing from the ballot in 2018, despite each having at least one eligible novel.

This is not to say that pro-Puppy authors were completely absent this year. Most obviously Sarah A. Hoyt, a former leader of the Sad Puppies campaign, was amongst the winners. Also notable is that one of the Best Graphic Novel finalists, Brandon Fiadino and Djibril Morissette’s Chicago Typewriter: The Red Ribbon, was published by Rabid Puppies founder Vox Day. Day is one of the creators to have eagerly jumped aboard the current “Comicsgate” bandwagon—lending definite symbolic value to the female Thor’s victory in Best Comic Book.

In Sutherland’s view —

There is no reason for the Hugos and the Dragons to exist as rivals. They are different awards that utilise different systems. The Dragon Awards are looser and flashier, but this should not be a deal-breaker to anyone who approaches a science fiction and fantasy award as just a bit of fun.

(10) WORLDCON 76 INSIGHTS. Michael Lee’s thorough Worldcon 76 report, “In Spite of Setbacks, San Jose Comes Through for Worldcon 76”, ends with this paragraph:

Worldcon is the one convention where it’s not at all unusual to be at a stoplight with George R. R. Martin and an actual astronaut who has been in space. More than any other convention, this is one that gives you the excuse to travel to new places and meet people that you might not meet any other way, and it never really is the same convention twice. (Next year’s convention will be in Dublin, Ireland, and the year after that in New Zealand.) I enjoyed Worldcon 76, as it was a chance to connect and reconnect with friends and fans from around the world, and a chance to visit the Bay Area of California.

(11) MOUNTAINTOP EXPERIENCE. New James Bond novels are still coming out in 1963, and Galactic Journey’s Ashley R. Pollard grabbed the latest.

With the success of last year’s film adaptation of Ian Fleming’s Dr. No., I continue to predict that the next James Bond film, From Russia With Love, which is coming this October, will further raise the public’s interest in the heady delights of techno-thrillers featuring spies. So far all I’ve seen are a couple of stills from the set, so it’s hard to make any judgment on the adaptation of the story by the filmmakers.

But until the film arrives on the big screen we have a new Bond novel to sate our appetites.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is the tenth James Bond novel, a sequel to the previous novel (once removed), Thunderball. I was lucky to get hold of a copy of OHMSS when it came out at the beginning of April, because both the first and second print runs, totaling over 60,000 copies, sold out in the first month. This should give readers some insight into how popular James Bond has become in Britain.

…As is usual in an Ian Fleming novel, real places are used to add verisimilitude to the narrative, though some of the names are changed. In this case, the description of Piz Gloria makes clear that it is based on the Nazi German eugenic research facility Schloss Mittersill….

(12) RADIO ACTIVITY. The Book Smugglers features a talk with the creators of Dead Air, Gwenda Bond, Rachel Caine and Carrie Ryan: “Dead Air: Serialised Fiction, Podcast and Murder”.

Gwenda Bond: I’ll start us off! The process of creating Dead Air has been a fun whirlwind, a lot of work, and different than any other project I’ve done — even the collaborative ones. I originally came up with the idea of Macy (better known as Mackenzie to podcast listeners) as a character coping with a recent loss by indulging her interest in true crime on the radio, but who then gets drawn into an investigation that gets more and more personal. From the start, she was going to be a character with a lot of room to grow over the course of the story, and the radio show/podcast would be the driving force of that growth. I wanted to use Kentucky as a setting and immediately thought the thoroughbred horse-racing community would be a great backdrop for the old murder she ends up looking into.

(13) QUIRK FACTOR. NPR’s Etelka Lehoczky reports on crowdfunded comics that are out there: “From A Read-Along Record To A Profane Tarot: The Year’s Quirkiest Crowdfunded Comics”.

There’s something about crowdfunding and comics: They just taste great together. Maybe that’s because, as Iron Circus Comics publisher Spike Trotman points out, artists were crowdfunding before it was even called that. “It was something cartoonists had been doing for years: Taking our lives in our hands and asking people to PayPal us enough money to print the book,” she says. Kickstarter’s Senior Director of Publishing Margot Atwell calls comics “small but mighty,” noting that comics campaigns on the platform succeed at a 20 percent higher rate than average. This year has seen some spectacular crowdfunding efforts, like the Trogdor!! The Board Game Kickstarter, which racked up an eye-popping $1,421,903 in pledges.

(14) SMALL ROYALTY. Being stark doesn’t pay: “Richard Madden ‘not paid much’ for Game of Thrones role”.

Richard Madden has revealed he wasn’t paid that much for his role as Robb Stark in Game of Thrones.

Not that he feels hard done by, as he admits he had nothing on his CV that deserved big money as a 22-year-old.

Despite that, he explained fans often thought he was rich anyway.

(15) THANOS EFFECTS. Weta Digital’s VFX supervisor Matt Aitken narrates an account of making VFX for Thanos’s home world (and the disintegration effect): “Avengers: Infinity War – How we made the VFX for Titan”

In Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel superheroes fight to stop the villain Thanos from wiping out half of all life.

Visual effects company Weta Digital worked on the scenes which take place on Thanos’s home planet, Titan.

BBC Click speaks to VFX supervisor Matt Aitken to find out more.

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

2018 Dragon Awards


The 2018 Dragon Awards were presented September 2 at Dragon Con.

Best Science Fiction Novel

  • Artemis by Andy Weir

Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)

  • Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel

  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel

  • A Call to Vengeance by David Weber, Timothy Zahn, and Thomas Pope

Best Alternate History Novel

  • Uncharted by Kevin J. Anderson and Sarah A. Hoyt

Best Media Tie-In Novel

  • Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray

Best Horror Novel

  • Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King

Best Comic Book

  • Mighty Thor by Jason Aaron and James Harren, Marvel Comics

Best Graphic Novel

  • Brandon Sanderson’s White Sand Volume 1 by Brandon Sanderson, Rik Hoskin, and Julius M. Gopez, Dynamite Entertainment

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series

  • Game of Thrones, HBO

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie

  • Black Panther directed by Ryan Coogler

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game

  • Middle-earth: Shadow of War by Monolith Productions

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game

  • Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery by Jam City

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game

  • Red Dragon Inn 6: Villains by Slugfest Games

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game

  • Magic: The Gathering Unstable by Wizards of the Coast

The award presenters included Larry Niven, Steven Barnes, Katherine Kurtz, Eric Flint, Cat Rambo, Laurell K. Hamilton, Paul Jenkins, Emily Goodman, Peter Kalamis, Bill Fawcett, and Michael Capps.

[Thanks to Red Panda Fraction for livetweeting the event, and Cora Buhlert and Mark Hepworth.]

Pixel Scroll 8/7/18 Not First, Nor Fifth, Nor even Frog, Just Little Old Me, PixelDog

(1) SAN JOSE LOCAL CUISINE. The Worldcon 76 Local Guide is now available as an app:

Announcing the Worldcon 76 “Local Guide” app from the Publications & Communications team. We’ve prepared it to help newcomers and visitors to San Jose with detailed information about the stores and restaurants that are nearby the Convention Center, downtown hotels, and the SJC airport. You can view the app on our website at: https://www.worldcon76.org/travel-lodging/local-guide

(2) WHITLEY ROBBED. Dave Chalker reported Eva Whitley’s bad news:

This is an update for family and friends of Eva Whitley. Last night her house was broken into while she was there. She was held at gunpoint and robbed of money and her phone. Physically, she was not harmed. But as you can imagine she is in rough shape emotionally. She’s going to try and rest now after a very difficult evening (wherein the police were not only not helpful but actively abusive) but when she wakes up later, she’s going to need all the support she can get.

David had already started a GoFundMe for her — “Save Mom’s July” – which has seen a new burst of donations since this news came out today. (It originally hit $3,793 of its $1,000 target).

(3) WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO READ? Nerds of a Feather features “6 Books with Martha Wells”.

  1. What upcoming book you are really excited about?I was excited about The Phoenix Empress by K. Arsenault Rivera, which comes out this fall, and I just got to read an ARC of it. The first book, The Tiger’s Daughter, was probably my favorite epic fantasy of last year. It’s an original, rich, fully realized fantasy world, with an epic story told from an unusual angle. The second book goes more into the threat looming over this world, and what the characters are actually fighting. I can’t wait for the next book.

(4) SPIDEY AND COMPANY. “Spider-Man Will Be Joined by Two MCU Veterans in ‘Homecoming’ Sequel” and Inverse tells you who they are.

Iron Man won’t be joining Spidey on his European tour in the upcoming Spider-Man: Far From Home, but Spider-Man will be joined by two MCU veterans even if Tony Stark doesn’t survive the end of Avengers 4. Nick Fury and Maria Hill are reportedly going to appear in the Homecoming sequel, due out next summer.

(5) HONEY BADGER BRIGADE LOSES SUIT. Nerd and Tie’s Trae Dorn tracked down the result: “MRA Group “The Honey Badger Brigade” Lose Their Lawsuit Against Calgary Expo, The Mary Sue”.

So it’s been a while since we provided an update on the lawsuit MRA group “The Honey Badger Brigade” filed against the Canadian convention Calgary Expo and US-based blog The Mary Sue back in Fall of 2015, but we finally have a resolution to the story. Last week, on August 1st, the Provincial Civil Court of Alberta ruled in favor of Calgary Expo and The Mary Sue.

To explain how we got here, the short version is that the Honey Badger Brigade had filed suit because Calgary Expo kicked the MRA group out during their 2015 event. Calgary Expo claimed it was because the Honey Badgers misrepresented the artist booth they were occupying and were disruptive to the event. The Mary Sue also ended up getting named in because they wrote about it? I guess? They also hired a disbarred lawyer and crowdfunded tens of thousands of dollars to pay for the case. Literally none of this case made a lick of sense.

And apparently the judge agreed.

(6) DOING INTERVIEWS. At Black Gate, the Uncanny Magazine crew tells how they prepare for and do interviews. “Uncanny Magazine Year 5 Meta-Interview: A Look at How Interviews Come Together”.

Caroline M. Yoachim does print interviews for the magazine, Lynne M. Thomas does the podcast interviews, and now we are introducing Matt Peters and Michi Trota as the video interviewers (and hosts) of Uncanny TV!

When we got the idea to write about interviews, we realized that we could do the post by interviewing each other, and BOOM, the meta-interview was born! …

Lynne: What kinds of interviews have you looked at to help shape your questions for Uncanny’s print interviews?  Are there any approaches or formats to print interviews that you would be interested in trying out to try to change things up?

Caroline: When I started doing interviews for Uncanny, the first thing I did was go back and read several interviews from past issues, to get a feel for what kind of questions to ask and the scope of the interviews. I also often glance at previous interviews from whichever author I’m interviewing, so I can avoid asking questions they’ve answered repeatedly.

As for interesting approaches, I remember there was an interview I did for Shimmer where I answered interview questions jointly with a character from my story. It was a fun way to mix things up a little bit!

Lynne: What is the most bizarre/memorable question you’ve ever asked in an interview? Have there been any bizarre/memorable questions that you’ve been asked when being interviewed?

Caroline: I’ve done relatively few interviews (either as an interviewer or as an interviewee) and while I have asked and answered good questions with memorable answers, I’m not sure I’ve ever had a question that was memorable/bizarre in and of itself. However, if future interviewers of me would like an unusual question to throw into the mix, I recommend: “Have you ever photographed the secret life of gummy bears?”

(7) GEEK SHOPPING. Daniel Dern calls your attention to these ThinkGeek Anniversary Deals

Like this Old Book BackPack (which I’m using to tote magic tricks to local events)

And the Con-Survival Bag of Holding (great for con-going day side pack, I use mine a lot, see lots of others in use)

RD-D2 Coffee press (not on my list, but maybe yours)

(8) RUH-ROH! Ursula Vernon gives a progress report from the garden. The thread starts here.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born August 7, 1933 – Jerry Pournelle
  • Born August 7 — Tobin Bell, 76. Myriad genres roles in such productions as Alien Nation, Mann & MachineStargate SG-1, Strange Worlds, The X- Files and voice work in the current Flash series. Oh and played Jigsaw in the long running Saw horror film series.
  • Born August 7 — Wayne Knight, 63. Extensive voice work including The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat, HerculesThe Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars and the Green Lantern series. Appeared in Jurassic Park and credited as Nerdy. Also in Torchwood: Miracle Day and 3rd Rock from the Sun.
  • Born August 7 — David Duchovny, 58. X-Files of course, also Space: Above and Beyond and Twin Peaks, the Area 51  video game and The Lone Gunmen series.
  • Born August 7 — Harold Perrineau, 55. Regular cast on the BladeLost and Constantine series, also Z Nation30 Days of Night: Dark Days, Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions.
  • Born August 7 — Michael Shannon, 44. General Zod in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Also Fahrenheit 451The Shape of Water and Jonah Hex.
  • Born August 7 — Charlize Theron, 43. Genre roles include Snow White and The Huntsman with a sequel called The Huntsman: Winter’s War, other credits include Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (uncredited but her first role), Æon Flux, Mad Max: Fury Road and Mortica Addams in the latest reboot of The Addams Family.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro needs the public’s help to solve this robotic crime….

(11) WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS. John Scalzi is on to something — thread starts here.

(12) THE EIGHTIES. James Davis Nicoll quantum leaps his series into the next decade: “Fighting Erasure: Women SF Writers of the 1980s, Part I”.

(13) YOUR 1-STAR REVIEW, SIR. Yes, it’s so precious when people need to flag authors about them.

(14) CULTURAL CURRENCY. A criticism about 2140.

Well, I know what X, Y and Z were, but I don’t remember who they were. I take your point.

(15) DRAGON OVERVIEW. Cora Buhlert’s rundown “The 2018 Dragon Award Nominees and the Rise of the Kindle Unlimited Writing Factories” focuses on counting things like the ethnicities and sex of the nominees. She also has Internet Archives links to ballot reactions from Declan Finn and Richard Paolinelli (consisting of a little bit of reaction and a great deal of self-promotion, but what else is an author’s blog for?)

(16) TOP MAGAZINES. The Splintered Mind did its annual ranking – “Top Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazines 2018”. Asimov’s is way out in front of this list of 50 magazines. Here are the criteria:

(1.) Only magazines are included (online or in print), not anthologies or standalones.

(2.) I gave each magazine one point for each story nominated for a Hugo, Nebula, Eugie, or World Fantasy Award in the past ten years; one point for each story appearance in any of the Dozois, Horton, Strahan, Clarke, or Adams “Year’s Best” anthologies; and half a point for each story appearing in the short story or novelette category of the annual Locus Recommended list.

(3.) I am not attempting to include the horror / dark fantasy genre, except as it appears incidentally on the list.

(4.) Prose only, not poetry.

(5.) I’m not attempting to correct for frequency of publication or length of table of contents.

(6.) I’m also not correcting for a magazine’s only having published during part of the ten-year period. Reputations of defunct magazines slowly fade, and sometimes they are restarted. Reputations of new magazines take time to build.

(17) SHORT FICTION REVIEWED. Charles Payseur shares “Quick Sips – Uncanny #23 [August stuff]”.

The second half of the special Dinosaur issue of Uncanny Magazine brings even MOAR dinosaurs, with five new stories and three new poems. Two of the poems aren’t really dinosaur-centric, but the issue as a whole offers up a great diversity in styles and ways of incorporating the source material and expanding the shared space of the issue. Here we are treated to more stories of dinosaurs displaced in time, landing on the Oregon Trail, or in a strange fairy tale, or in the middle of a small town. There’s not quite the same focus on communication and understanding as before, though. Instead, these pieces look a bit more at violence, and hunger, and corruption. They don’t flinch away from showing some dinosaurs getting their feed on, as well as getting their freak on. It’s a strange, rather wonderful collection of short SFF, so let’s get to the reviews!

(18) GRAPHIC STORY PICKS. Joe Sherry’s review of his Hugo ballot at Nerds of a Feather goes into overtime: “Reading the Hugos: Graphic Story”

Today we’ll be looking at the six finalists for Graphic Story.  By the time this goes live we’ll be a full week past the close of voting and while I’ve thoroughly enjoyed covering as many categories as I have, I’m ready for the reading and voting stage to be done. It’s a lot, even when it’s something I love to do.

Two works on my nominating ballot are here on the final ballot (Bitch Planet and Paper Girls), but the category as a whole is soli and filled with interesting and strong works. Like the novella category, though, Graphic Story is fairly dominated by one publisher: Image Comics. With four of the six slots, Image has a fair lock on the category. As great as Image is and how fantastic the comics, the category will be stronger if a wider variety of publishers are represented in future years (though, three of the works on my nomination ballot were also from Image – so there’s that)

(19) NEW SANDMAN STORIES. ComicsBeat presents a “Sandman Universe Exclusive: How Hopkinson & Stanton plan to break diverse new ground in the Dreaming”. Here’s the introduction to the interview –

From 1989-1996, Neil Gaiman and a group of artistic collaborators including Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, and more crafted The Sandman. This 75 issue DC Comics/Vertigo series followed Dream and his primordial siblings, who collectively formed the Endless, through imaginative and transformative stories steeped in classic mythology and boundless imagination. To this day, The Sandman remains one of DC’s most beloved series. And now, eager comics fans will have the opportunity to return to the Dreaming once again with this Wednesday’s release of Sandman Universe #1, a special one-shot that introduces a new line of Sandman stories to the world.

One of these new stories is House of Whispers. Written by notable fantasy and sci-fi author Nalo Hopkinson and drawn by Domo Stanton with colors from John RauchHouse of Whispers follows two sets of characters. The first is the Yoruba goddess Erzulie, whose House of Dahomey is “where the souls of Voodoo followers go when they sleep [in order] to beseech the flirtatious and tragic goddess to grant them their hearts’ desires and counsel them on their futures and fortunes.” The second is a group of four human girls in New Orleans who have stumbled upon a journal “filled with whispers and rumors” that threatens to unleash “Sopona, the loa lord of infectious disease.” Tied together by circumstance, Erzulie, cousin to Sopona, attempts to come to the aid of the humans, but finds herself in a crisis of her own as her House crashes into the Dreaming.

(20) BAT CASTING. From io9 we learn that  “The CW’s Live-Action Batwoman Is Ruby Rose”.

Both Variety and Deadline report that Rose, currently appearing in the giant-shark action movie The Meg, has been tapped to portray Kate Kane in both the upcoming Arrow/Flash/Supergirl/Legends of Tomorrow crossover special and the potential Batwoman series being helmed by Caroline Dries that could air in 2019.

Rose, also known for turns in Orange Is the New Black and appearances in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter and John Wick: Chapter 2, will first appear in the role later this year. The heroes of the CW’s other DC supershows (sans Black Lightning, off in its own universe) will head to Gotham City for the first time, where they’ll team up with Kate Kane—one of DC Comics’ few lesbian characters—for a new adventure.

(21) CATCH THE WAVE. We’re not talking about water here — “‘Extraordinary’ waves from Jupiter’s moon Ganymede spotted”.

Scientists have observed “extraordinary” waves coming out of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede.

The electromagnetic waves, also known as “chorus waves,” were spotted using the Galileo Probe spacecraft, which has a mission of surveying Jupiter’s wave environment.

“It’s a really surprising and puzzling observation showing that a moon with a magnetic field can create such a tremendous intensification in the power of waves,” Yuri Shprits, the lead author of the study, told the Independent.

(22) THE LIVING END. Deadpool 2 – How It Should Have Ended. You heard it here fifth.

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

The Unpredictable 2018 Dragon Awards Ballot

A lot of things are absent from the Dragon Awards ballot that I expected to see there.

Some of them I don’t miss. Some of them I do.

Best Novel Hugo Finalists:  None of the 2018 Best Novel Hugo finalists made the ballot in any of the Dragon Awards’ seven novel categories. Update: As pointed out in comments, the 2018 Dragon Award eligibility period ran from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018. Only two of the Hugo finalists were released in that window of time, Provenance and The Stone Sky.

Did someone decline, and that’s why there’s no overlap? Not that I’ve found out so far.

Last year there was an issue whether some authors who wanted to withdraw would be allowed to do so, and in the end N.K. Jemisin withdrew, while John Scalzi changed his mind and left his book on the ballot.

I reached out to as many of the 2018 Best Novel Hugo finalists as I could to ask this question. Mur Lafferty (Six Wakes), Ann Leckie (Provenance), and John Scalzi (The Collapsing Empire) answered – and none of the three declined a Dragon Award nomination. (I also queried Jemisin’s agent, and hope to get an answer later.)

As a whole, the Hugo finalists seem like strong prospects to show up on a popularly-chosen award ballot because they have high numbers of Goodreads ratings – a lot of people have read these books.

Best Novel – total Goodreads ratings in parentheses (ineligible books lined out)

  • The Collapsing Empire, by John Scalzi (Tor) (19,217)
  • New York 2140, by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit) (5,485)
  • Provenance, by Ann Leckie (Orbit) (6,907)
  • Raven Stratagem, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris) (3,167)
  • Six Wakes, by Mur Lafferty (Orbit) (6,220)
  • The Stone Sky, by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit) (22,285)

Slate Nominees: Also missing are nearly all the items recommended by the “Happy Frogs” and by Vox Day.

In May the “Happy Frogs OFFICIAL 2018 Dragon Awards Nominating Slate” was posted by Jon Del Arroz. Of their recommendations in 15 categories, only 2 items made the Dragon Awards ballot.

Their pick for Best Science Fiction Novel, Robert Kroese’s Dream Of The Iron Dragon, made it, although moved to the Best Alternate History category.

And their pick for Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game, Middle Earth: Shadow Of War, is a finalist. However, that game has been a successful contender for other game awards, so the slate’s support may not have anything to do with the outcome.

In July, Vox Day posted his recommendations for the 2018 Dragon Awards, many of them published by Castalia House, and of the 15 things on his list just these 3 items made the ballot, none of them published by him. And the TV and movie entries that made the ballot already had widespread support.

Best Media Tie-In Novel   
Before the Storm (World of Warcraft)
Christie Golden

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series, TV or Internet
Stranger Things
Netflix

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie
Incredibles 2
Brad Bird

Even for those who think the 2018 ballot is much better without most of the slate nominees, it surprises me that somebody with Vox Day’s track record of drumming up Hugo votes would have a problem repeating that success with an award where you don’t have to pay to vote. If that is, in fact, the case. (I’ve asked Vox Day for his reaction to the ballot.)

2018 Dragon Awards Finalists – How Many Goodreads Ratings? The 2018 Dragon Awards ballot’s seven novel categories contain the now-familiar range of bestsellers and little-known books (e.g., a nominee with only 8 Goodreads ratings).

Here is the number of Goodreads ratings for every Dragon Awards finalist (number in parentheses).

Best Science Fiction Novel

  • It Takes Death to Reach a Star by Gareth Worthington and Stu Jones (41)
  • Persepolis Rising by James S.A. Corey (13,834)
  • The Mutineer’s Daughter by Chris Kennedy and Thomas A. Mays (31)
  • Win by Vera Nazarian (1,385)
  • Sins of Her Father by Mike Kupari (65)
  • Artemis by Andy Weir (90,847)

Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)

  • Shoot the Messenger by Pippa DaCosta (874)
  • War Hammer by Shayne Silvers (973)
  • Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (52,931)
  • The Land: Predators by Aleron Kong  (3,320)
  • The Traitor God by Cameron Johnston (115)
  • A Tempered Warrior by Jon R. Osborne (8)

Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel

  • Cold Bath Street by A.J. Hartley (44)
  • A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas (47,737)
  • When Tinker Met Bell by Alethea Kontis (145)
  • Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne  (1,142)
  • Warcross by Marie Lu (37,703)
  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (32,834)

Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel

  • Communications Failure by Joe Zieja (226)
  • Points of Impact by Marko Kloos (3,300)
  • Ghost Marines: Integration by Jonathan P. Brazee (125)
  • Price of Freedom by Craig Martelle and Michael Anderle (243)
  • Legend by Christopher Woods (74)
  • A Call to Vengeance by David Weber, Timothy Zahn, and Thomas Pope (1,003)

Best Alternate History Novel

  • Dark State by Charles Stross (888)
  • The Sea Peoples by S.M. Stirling (447)
  • Witchy Winter by D.J. Butler (27)
  • Uncharted by Kevin J. Anderson and Sarah A. Hoyt (66)
  • Dream of the Iron Dragon by Robert Kroese (142)
  • Minds of Men by Kacey Ezell (33)

Best Media Tie-In Novel

  • Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray (5,045)
  • Before the Storm by Christie Golden (1,346)
  • Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson (5,333)
  • Fear Itself by James Swallow (123)
  • Legacy of Onyx by Matt Forbeck (117)
  • Desperate Hours by David Mack (1,177)

Best Horror Novel

  • Beneath the Lighthouse by Julieanne Lynch (42)
  • Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero (10,276)
  • A Time to Run by Mark Wandrey (16)
  • The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay (3,935)
  • Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King (33,575)
  • Glimpse by Jonathan Maberry (343)

Other Views: Camestros Felapton analyzes how his own predictions broke down in “Dragon Award Finalists: A Preemptive ‘No Award’ for Rabid Puppies?”

Update 08/07/2018: Noted books released before the Dragon Awards eligibility period.

2018 Dragon Awards Ballot


The 2018 Dragon Awards Ballot was released August 6.

A notable change is that most categories have six nominees (a few have seven, or five) in contrast to last year when they had seven or eight.

Also noteworthy is that no 2018 Best Novel Hugo finalist appears on the Dragon Awards ballot — but whether the explanation is that the authors declined, or the works didn’t receive enough votes, is unknown.

Voting registration closes on 8/31/18. Voting closes on 9/1/18.

Best Science Fiction Novel

  • It Takes Death to Reach a Star by Gareth Worthington and Stu Jones
  • Persepolis Rising by James S.A. Corey
  • The Mutineer’s Daughter by Chris Kennedy and Thomas A. Mays
  • Win by Vera Nazarian
  • Sins of Her Father by Mike Kupari
  • Artemis by Andy Weir

Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)

  • Shoot the Messenger by Pippa DaCosta
  • War Hammer by Shayne Silvers
  • Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Land: Predators by Aleron Kong
  • The Traitor God by Cameron Johnston
  • A Tempered Warrior by Jon R. Osborne

Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel

  • Cold Bath Street by A.J. Hartley
  • A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas
  • When Tinker Met Bell by Alethea Kontis
  • Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne
  • Warcross by Marie Lu
  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel

  • Communications Failure by Joe Zieja
  • Points of Impact by Marko Kloos
  • Ghost Marines: Integration by Jonathan P. Brazee
  • Price of Freedom by Craig Martelle and Michael Anderle
  • Legend by Christopher Woods
  • A Call to Vengeance by David Weber, Timothy Zahn, and Thomas Pope

Best Alternate History Novel

  • Dark State by Charles Stross
  • The Sea Peoples by S.M. Stirling
  • Witchy Winter by D.J. Butler
  • Uncharted by Kevin J. Anderson and Sarah A. Hoyt
  • Dream of the Iron Dragon by Robert Kroese
  • Minds of Men by Kacey Ezell

Best Media Tie-In Novel

  • Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray
  • Before the Storm by Christie Golden
  • Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson
  • Fear Itself by James Swallow
  • Legacy of Onyx by Matt Forbeck
  • Desperate Hours by David Mack

Best Horror Novel

  • Beneath the Lighthouse by Julieanne Lynch
  • Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
  • A Time to Run by Mark Wandrey
  • The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay
  • Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King
  • Glimpse by Jonathan Maberry

Best Comic Book

  • Mighty Thor by Jason Aaron and James Harren, Marvel Comics
  • Doomsday Clock by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, DC Comics
  • Aliens: Dead Orbit by James Stokoe, Dark Horse Comics
  • Mister Miracle by Tom King and Mitch Gerads, DC Comics
  • Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples, Image Comics
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader by Charles D. Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli, Marvel Comics

Best Graphic Novel

  • Chicago Typewriter: The Red Ribbon by Brandon Fiadino, Djibril Morissette-Phan, and James Greatorex, Dark Legion Comics
  • Brandon Sanderson’s White Sand Volume 1 by Brandon Sanderson, Rik Hoskin, and Julius M. Gopez, Dynamite Entertainment
  • Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol
  • Monstress Vol. 2: The Blood by Marjorie M. Liu, Sana Takeda, Image Comics
  • Vision (The Vision) by Tom King, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Marvel Comics
  • Paper Girls Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughn and Cliff Chiang, Image Comics

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series

  • The Expanse, Syfy
  • Game of Thrones, HBO
  • Lucifer, Fox
  • Supernatural, CW
  • Star Trek: Discovery, CBS All Access
  • Altered Carbon, Netflix
  • Stranger Things, Netflix

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie

  • Incredibles 2 directed by Brad Bird
  • Thor: Ragnorok directed by Taika Waititi
  • Blade Runner 2049 directed by Denis Villeneuve
  • Avengers: Infinity War directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
  • Black Panther directed by Ryan Coogler
  • Ready Player One directed by Steven Spielberg
  • Deadpool 2 directed by Dave Leitch

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game

  • Fortnite by Epic Games
  • Cuphead by Studio MDHR
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of War by Monolith Productions
  • Destiny 2 by Bungie
  • Battletech by Harebrained Schemes
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus by MachineGames

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game

  • Planescape: Torment by Black Isle Studios
  • Nocked! by Andrew Schneider
  • Lineage 2: Revolution by Netmarble
  • Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition by Square Enix
  • Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery by Jam City

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game

  • Rising Sun by CMON Games
  • When I Dream by Asmodee
  • Mysterium: Secrets and Lies Expansion by Asmodee
  • Azul by Plan B Games
  • Red Dragon Inn 6: Villains by Slugfest Games
  • Photosynthesis by Blue Orange

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game

  • Warhammer 40,000 8th Edition by Games Workshop
  • Force and Destiny Role-playing Game: Knights of Fate by Fantasy Flight Games
  • Bubblegumshoe – RPG by Evil Hat
  • Cooking with Dice: The Acid Test by Oddfish Games
  • D100 Dungeon by Martin Knight
  • Magic: The Gathering Unstable by Wizards of the Coast

Pixel Scroll 8/4/18 Your Pixeled Pal Who’s Fun To Scroll With!

(1) AMERICA HELD HOSTAGE, DAY FOUR. Crusading investigative fanwriter Camestros Felapton has been trying to find out why the Dragon Awards ballot wasn’t released August 1, the date posted on the site, and when it will come out. Here’s what he’s been told:

The latest report is this. I got an email saying that the finalists will be announced this upcoming Tuesday (presumably US time). Don’t all get too excited at once.

(2) COME BACK, JEAN-LUC. “Patrick Stewart to star in new Star Trek TV series”Entertainment Weekly has the story.

Stewart will reprise his iconic character, Jean-Luc Picard, for a CBS All Access series that “will tell the story of the next chapter of Picard’s life.”

Stewart himself just announced the news in a surprise appearance at the Las Vegas Star Trek Convention.

“I will always be very proud to have been a part of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but when we wrapped that final movie in the spring of 2002, I truly felt my time with Star Trek had run its natural course,” Stewart said. “It is, therefore, an unexpected but delightful surprise to find myself excited and invigorated to be returning to Jean-Luc Picard and to explore new dimensions within him. Seeking out new life for him, when I thought that life was over.”

And Michael Chabon will be one of the executive producers reports Variety.

The untitled series hails from Alex Kurtzman, James Duff, Akiva Goldsman, Michael Chabon, and Kirsten Beyer. Kurtzman, Duff, Goldsman, and Chabon will also serve as executive producers on the series along with Stewart, Trevor Roth, Heather Kadin, and Rod Roddenberry. CBS Television Studios will produce. The new series does not currently have a premiere date

(3) BOREANAZ ON BUFFY. Ethan Alter, in the Yahoo Entertainment story “David Boreanaz has no plans to be in controversial ‘Buffy’ reboot: ‘I just let it be and lend my support from afar'” says that Boreanaz is too busy with SEAL Team to worry about the forthcoming Buffy reboot (which is controversial because showrunner Monica Owusu-Breen might find a new actor to play Buffy) but he doesn’t have any objections to it.

 “I think it’s great,” says David Boreanaz, who played the ensouled vampire Angel on Buffy for three seasons before graduating to his own self-titled spin-off. “I’m sure they’ll find the right storylines and the right people to fill shoes of whatever characters they want to portray. It was great to be a part of it when it first started, and now to see it being revived is just another testimony to the hard work that we did. I congratulate that, and applaud that.”

(4) KRESS REQUEST. Nancy Kress announced on Facebook:

A few people have asked if I will autograph their books at Worldcn San Jose. However, I was disappointed that Programming Reboot has given me no panels, no autographing session, and no kaffeklatch. I do have one reading, at 4:30 on Sunday, which I cannot linger afterwards because of a Hugo dinner. So if anyone wants anything autographed, I will hang around the Hyatt lobby at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday.

(5) REACHING OUT TO HUGHART. Mike Berro, who runs the Barry Hughart Bibliography website is asking for help:

If anyone knows how to contact Barry Hughart, please let me know. I run a fan page, and would constantly get emails from people wanting to contact him, mostly about doing a movie or theatrical adaptation of Bridge of Birds. I would forward them to him, and he would always politely reply (with “no thanks”). I haven’t had a reply now for over a year, and just got an email from someone who reported that even his publishers cannot contact him. I fear something unfortunate has happened.

Berro says neither SFWA nor Subterranean Press have been able to offer any help.

Mike Berro’s contact email address is — hughart@collector.org

(6) PRO ADVICE. Not certain who Mary Robinette Kowal had in mind, although JDA was sure it was about him. (Of course, he thinks everything is.)

(7) CLOUDS OF WITNESSES. Crisis Magazine recalls “When C.S. Lewis Befriended a Living Catholic Saint”.

When Luigi Calabria, a shoemaker married to a housemaid, died in Verona, Italy in 1882, the youngest of his seven sons, Giovanni, nine years old, had to quit school and take a job as an apprentice. A local parish priest, Don Pietro Scapini, privately tutored him for the minor seminary, from which he took a leave to serve two years in the army. During that time, he established a remarkable reputation for edifying his fellow soldiers and converting some of them. Even before ordination, he established a charitable institution for the care of poor sick people and, as a parish priest, in 1907 he founded the Poor Servants of Divine Providence. The society grew, receiving diocesan approval in 1932. The women’s branch he started in 1910 would become a refuge for Jewish women during the Second World War. To his own surprise, since he was a rather private person, his order spread from Italy to Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, India, Kenya, Romania, and the Philippines.

With remarkable economy of time, he was a keen reader, and in 1947 he came across a book translated as Le lettere di Berlicche by a professor at the University of Milan, Alberto Castelli, who later became a titular archbishop as Vice President of the Pontifical Council of the Laity. Berlicche was Screwtape and “Malacode” served for Wormwood. The original, of course, had been published in 1943 as The Screwtape Letters and Calabria was so taken with it that he sent a letter of appreciation to the author in England. Lacking English, he wrote it in the Latin with which he had become proficient since his juvenile tutorials with Don Pietro.

… Lewis’s correspondence with Calabria went on for about seven years, and after the holy priest died, Lewis wrote at least seven letters to another member of Calabria’s religious community, Don Luigi Castelli, who died in 1986 at the age of 96. Learning of Calabria’s death, Lewis referred to him in a message to Castelli with what I suspect was a deliberate invocation of the phrase about “the dearly departed” that Horace used to console Virgil on the death of Quintilius Varo: tam carum caput. It appears as well in Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley Novels. It was an unfortunate habit of Lewis to throw out letters he received when he thought he might otherwise betray confidences. So what we have are only what he sent. The letters are a radiant model of philia friendship that he described in his 1958 radio talks:

(8) WHO’S THE HERO? John Dilillo claims “Amazon’s Proposed ‘Lord of the Rings’ Series Misses the Point of Middle-Earth” at Film School Rejects.

…Every conventionally heroic duty performed by Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings is performed in service of a greater act of heroism by Hobbits, characters who choose their own destiny instead of following the path their bloodline lays out for them. Without Hobbits, Middle-earth is just another cliched fantasy tapestry, painting with the same old tired strokes. What makes Aragorn special is not his heritage or his backstory; it is that he recognizes that he is not the hero of this story. Aragorn is the king who bows to the Hobbits. Stripped of that identity, he is indistinguishable from any other gruff sword-wielding badass.

On top of all this, we’ve already seen the type of story that results from a Tolkien adaptation that loses sight of true heroism in favor of grand tales of redeemed sons and doomed kings. The great failing of the Hobbit trilogy is that it abandons its titular character all too often in favor of the gloomy angst of Richard Armitage’s Thorin Oakenshield. Armitage does a fine job projecting gloomy wounded pride, and whoever assumes the lead role in Amazon’s series will doubtless give just as effective a performance. But all of that is ultimately wasted when the real appeal of a Middle-earth story comes from the Shire, not the Lonely Mountain. A Hobbit story that isn’t about Bilbo Baggins is a failure, and it’s a failure that should be learned from….

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born August 4 — Richard Belzer, 74. The Third Rock fromThe Sun series as himself, also the Species II film and an awful adaption of Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters, along with series work too in The X-Files, The Invaders, Human Target, and acrecurring role in the original Flash series to name a few of his genre roles.
  • Born August 4 — Daniel Dae Kim, 50. First genre role was in the NightMan series, other roles include the Brave New World tv film, the second Fantasy Island series, recurring roles on LostAngel and Crusade, the Babylon 5 spinoff series, Star Trek: Voyager, Charmed and voice work on Justice League Unlimited.
  • Born August 4 — Abigail Spencer, 37. First genre role was in the Campfire horror anthology series, other roles include Ghost Whisperer, Jekyll, a film that’s an sf riff off that meme, Cowboys & Aliens, the Oz the Great and Powerful film and Timeless, the sf series recently allowed a proper ending
  • Born August 4 — Meaghan Markle, 37. Yes, Her Royalness. Appeared in Fringe and the newer Knight Rider. Also the near future legal drama Century City.

(10) INSTAPOLL. Survey says –

(11) KEN LIU TO TV. Andrew Liptak says an animated show is on the way: “AMC is developing a sci-fi show based on Ken Liu’s short stories”.

Ken Liu is one of science fiction’s most celebrated writers working today. In addition to translating Cixin Liu’s acclaimed Three Body Problem and Death’s End, he’s also earned numerous awards, most significantly for his short story, “The Paper Menagerie”. Now, it looks as though his works could reach a new audience: AMC is developing series based on his works called Pantheon, according to Deadline.

If it’s produced, Pantheon will be an animated show “based on a series of short stories by [Liu] about uploaded intelligence,” reports Deadline. Craig Silverstein, who created and produced AMC’s American revolution drama Turn, will serve as showrunner, producer, and writer.

(12) SOLO. Lela E. Buis points out the casting problems: “Review of Solo: A Star Wars Story”.

…The worst problem with this film, of course, was Alden Ehrenreich trying to step into Harrison Ford’s shoes. Ehrenreich did a workmanlike job with the character, but workmanlike just isn’t Han Solo. Donald Glover as Calrissian got glowing reviews, but it was really the charismatic Woody Harrelson as Beckett who lights up the film—an understated, low key performance notwithstanding. Also prominent was Lando’s co-pilot L3-37, an animated character fighting against the slavery of droids.

This brings up another question. Why isn’t Disney investing in flashier talent for these movies?

(13) BAEN CHALLENGE COINS. Baen Books is taking orders for the first pressing of its new Challenge  Coins commemorating iconic names or events in the books of Ringo, Williamson, Kratman and probably whoever else you’d expect to fill out a list that starts with those three names.

Each coin is $15. Buy all 13 author coins, and the “I Read Baen’d Books” coin comes free. Shipping and handling is a flat rate of $15, $45 international, for up to 13 coins. Write to info@baen.com for rates on bulk orders.

These coins were designed by Jack Wylder with the active participation of the authors. Here’s an example —

Front: I Read Baen’d Books

Reverse: RIP Joe Buckley

All profits from this coin will go to support two charities founded, supported, and run by Baen readers: Operation Baen Bulk, which provides care packages for deployed service members, and Read Assist, a 501c3 company that serves our disabled readers. http://www.readassist.org/ Each coin is $15. Buy all 13 author coins, and the “I Read Baen’d Books” coin comes free. “I read Baened Books” was first used by Chris French. “Joe Buckley” used courtesy of Joe Buckley. Don’t forget to duck

(14) A CENTURY OF STURGEON. Scott Bradfield tries to jumpstart the party — “Celebrating Theodore Sturgeon’s centenary – so should we all” in the LA Times. (Unfortunately, the Times initially failed to get David Gerrold’s permission to run his photo of Sturgeon with the post…)

I’ve always been a bit confused by these various centenary and multi-centenary celebrations that punctuate our discussions of literature, such as Thoreau’s recent 200th birthday (2017), or the centenary of James Joyce’s “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” (first published in 1917), or even the fourth centenary of the death of Cervantes (d. 1616), etc. (By the way, celebrating the anniversary of someone’s death strikes me as pretty grisly.) But while some writers seem to continually receive such posthumous honors, others suffer unfairly in silence. No cake, no candles, no old friends leaping out of closets, no nothing. And this year, that seems to be the case for one of America’s greatest and most original short story writers, Theodore Sturgeon, who was born on Feb. 26, 1918. From what I can tell, nobody has yet to pitch in and even buy him a decent card.

…Take, for example, the opening of his brilliant (and often poorly imitated) 1941 novelette, “Microcosmic God”: “Here is a story about a man who had too much power, and a man who took too much, but don’t worry; I’m not going political on you. The man who had the power was named James Kidder, and the other was his banker.”

Or this, from the aforementioned “The Dreaming Jewels” (1950): “They caught the kid doing something disgusting under the bleachers at the high-school stadium, and he was sent home from the grammar school across the street.”

Or even this, from his haunting and beautiful story, “The Man Who Lost the Sea” (1959): “Say you’re a kid, and one dark night you’re running along the cold sand with this helicopter in your hand, saying very fast witchy-witchy-witchy.”

Every opening plops you down bang in the middle of a story that is already happening and in the life of a character it is already happening to. And while many of his stories were collected in “horror” or “suspense” anthologies, they are rarely shocking or violent or grotesque. Instead, they begin by introducing you to a slightly strange world and a slightly strange character who lives there; then, before the story is over, you both feel at home in the world and compassion for the character who now lives there with you.

The greatness of Sturgeon’s stories reside in their almost inflexible, relentless unfolding of strangely logical events and relationships; each sentence is as beautiful and convincing as the last; and the science-fictional inventions never rely on tricks or deus ex machinas to reach a satisfying resolution; instead, a Sturgeon story always resolves itself at the level of the all-too-human.

(15) ACCESS. At io9 Ace Ratcliff asks “Staircases in Space: Why Are Places in Science Fiction Not Wheelchair-Accessible?”

I never used to notice stairs. They were simply a way for me to get from one place to another. Occasionally they were tiresome, but they never actually stymied or stopped me entirely. Eventually, I managed to get where I needed to go.

Then I started using a wheelchair. Suddenly, stairs became a barrier that prevented me from getting from here to there. One step was often enough to stop me in my tracks. It turns out that when you start using a wheelchair, you quickly realize that there are a lot of staircases and steps in our world—and a lot of broken (or nonexistent) elevators and ramps….

Once you start realizing how many stairs there are stopping you in real life, it becomes impossible not to notice them existing in the sci-fi you adore. Turns out they’re everywhere, in all of our sci-fi. Whether it’s decades-old or shiny and brand-new, our sci-fi imitates a real-world reliance on steps and stairs in our architecture.

When we think of sci-fi that’s run the test of time, Doctor Who immediately springs to mind. The inside of the TARDIS is littered with steps—from Christopher Eccleston to Peter Capaldi, there’s no way a wheelchair using companion would be able to navigate that beautiful blue time machine. Prior to the 2005 reboot, previous embodiments of the spaceship were no less inaccessible. You’d think that a spaceship that is regularly re-decorated could easily manage ramps in at least one iteration, but no set designers seem bothered enough to make it happen. I was pleased to learn that a quick finger snap seems to occasionally unlock the TARDIS doors—a quirky replacement for the buttons that exist in real-life, usually installed near closed doors and pressed by disabled people to assist with automatically opening them—but trying to scootch through the narrow opening of that British police box with an accessibility device looks nigh impossible, even without the need for a key.

(16) KERMODE ON SF FILMS. On August 7, BBC 4 airs an episode of Mark Kermode’s Secrets of the Cinema about science fiction.

SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie says —

This is an excellent series for film aficionados but the August 7th edition will also appeal to SF fans as this episode will be on science fiction film.

Also the series is co-written by the genre critic Kim Newman whom,  some Worldcon fans will recall, with SF author Paul McAuley,  co-presented the last CalHab (formerly known as Glasgow) Worldcon Hugo Award ceremony (2005). So be assured this episode has a solid grounding.

Mark Kemode’s Secrets of the Cinema SF film episode should be available on BBC iPlayer for a few weeks after broadcast.

BBC 4’s intro reads —

Mark Kermode continues his fresh and very personal look at the art of cinema by examining the techniques and conventions behind classic film genres, uncovering the ingredients that keep audiences coming back for more.

This time Mark explores the most visionary of all genres – science fiction, and shows how film-makers have risen to the challenge of making the unbelievable believable. Always at the forefront of cinema technology, science fiction films have used cutting-edge visual effects to transport us to other worlds or into the far future. But as Mark shows, it’s not just about the effects. Films as diverse as 2001, the Back to the Future trilogy and Blade Runner have used product placement and commercial brand references to make their future worlds seem more credible. The recent hit Arrival proved that the art of film editing can play with our sense of past and future as well as any time machine. Meanwhile, films such as Silent Running and WALL-E have drawn on silent era acting techniques to help robot characters convey emotion. And District 9 reached back to Orson Welles by using news reporting techniques to render an alien visitation credible.

Mark argues that for all their spectacle, science fiction films ultimately derive their power from being about us. They take us to other worlds and eras, and introduce us to alien and artificial beings, in order to help us better understand our own humanity.

(17) GETTING BACK IN BUSINESS. “NASA Announces Crew For First Commercial Space Flights”NPR has the story.

NASA has announced the names of the astronauts who will be the first people in history to ride to orbit in private space taxis next year, if all goes as planned.

In 2019, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner are both scheduled to blast off on test flights with NASA astronauts on board. “For the first time since 2011, we are on the brink of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Friday, standing in front of a giant American flag at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Since NASA retired its space shuttles, the agency has had to buy seats on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to get its crews to the International Space Station.

(18) MUNG DYNASTY. FastCompany predicts “Plant-based eggs are coming for your breakfast sandwiches”.

When you order a breakfast sandwich or a scramble at New Seasons Market, a local chain in Portland, Seattle, and Northern California, you’ll bite into a yellow, fluffy food that tastes just like an egg, but did not, in fact, come from an animal. Instead, what you’re eating is a mung bean, a legume that people have been eating for thousands of years that, when ground into a liquid, happens to scramble and gel just like an egg.

Mung beans are the key ingredient in Just Egg, the latest product from Just, Inc.–the company formerly known as Hampton Creek, which manufactures plant-based alternatives to products like mayonnaise, cookie dough, and salad dressing. Just Egg, a liquid that scrambles in a way that’s eerily similar to an egg when cooked in a pan, is derived from mung bean protein, and colored with turmeric to mimic the light yellow of an egg. It’s slowly rolling out in stores and restaurants across the U.S., and New Seasons Market has gone as far as to entirely replace its regular eggs with the mung bean mixture.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/19/18 And Then There Were 770

(1) DRAGON AWARDS. July 20 is the deadline to nominate for Dragon Con’s Dragon Awards. If you’re ever going to do it now would be a good time…. If you’re not, no hurry!

(2) “JUST WEAR CLOTHES, HONEY.” That’s the advice I got the time I called Arthur Bryant’s ribs place to ask if they had a dress code. I follow the same advice when I go to the Hugos.

(3) TOR TAKES LIBRARIANS BY SURPRISE. And not in a good way: “Tor Scales Back Library E-book Lending as Part of Test”Publishers Weekly has the story.

After years of relatively little change in the library e-book market, there has finally been some movement—unfortunately, librarians say, it is movement in the wrong direction. Leading Sci-Fi publisher Tor Books, a division of Macmillan, has announced that, beginning with July 2018 titles, newly released e-books, will be no longer be available to libraries for lending until four months after their retail on sale date.

In a statement to libraries through their vendors, Macmillan officials said the new embargo was part of “a test program” (although an “open ended” test, the release states) to assess the impact of library e-book lending on retail sales. But the statement goes on to say that the publisher’s “current analysis on eLending indicates that it is having a direct and adverse impact on retail eBook sales,” and that Tor will work with library vendors to “develop ongoing terms that will best support Tor’s authors, their agents, and Tor’s channel partners.”

…On July 19, American Library Association president Loida Garcia-Febo issued the following statement:

“The American Library Association and our members have worked diligently to increase access to and exposure for the widest range of e-books and authors. Over years, ALA made great strides in working with publishers and distributors to better serve readers with increasingly robust digital collections. We remain committed to a vibrant and accessible reading ecosystem for all.

I am dismayed now to see Tor bring forward a tired and unproven claim of library lending adversely affecting sales. This move undermines our shared commitment to readers and writers—particularly with no advance notice or discussion with libraries. In fact, Macmillan references its involvement with the Panorama Project, which is a large-scale, data-driven research project focused on understanding the impact of library holdings on book discovery, author brand development, and sales. For this reason, this change by Tor—literally on the heels of Panorama’s launch—is particularly unexpected and unwelcome.

“The ALA calls for Macmillan to move just as quickly to reverse its course and immediately lift the embargo while the Panorama Project does its work.”

(4) BIG REBOOTS TO FILL. Somebody thought this would be a good idea: “‘In Search Of’: Zachary Quinto Follows in Leonard Nimoy’s Footsteps… Again”.

We’re all very used to revivals and reboots these days but with the return of iconic sci-fi/mystery series In Search Of , one big reason to celebrate (besides its launch on the History Channel) is that actor Zachary Quinto is a part of this project.

Quinto, who first became known to TV fans for his role as the villainous Sylar on the original run of NBC’s Heroes, leapt to greater heights of fame in 2009 when he took over the role of the most famous Vulcan in the galaxy, Spock, in the updated Star Trek big-screen franchise. Of course, Spock was first played by Leonard Nimoy in the 1960s television series and, yes, Nimoy later hosted In Search Of.

 

(5) DROPPED IN POTTER’S FIELD. There’s an open question about why this happened: “London erects 25-foot Jeff Goldblum statue to commemorate ‘Jurassic Park’s 25th anniversary”.

They were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should build a 25-foot replica of Jeff Goldblum.

Londoners and tourists alike were puzzled Wednesday morning to find a statue of Goldblum, his shirt unbuttoned in a recreation of his famous “Jurassic Park” pose, staring seductively at them from the banks of the River Thames near Tower Bridge.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born July 19 – Benedict Cumberbatch, 42. Some of his sort-of genre and definitely genre roles include Stephen Hawking in HawkingThe Hobbit films as a certain cranky dragon, Star Trek into DarknessDoctor Strange, Sherlock, and possibly my fav role potentially by him as the voice of the title character in the forthcoming animated The Grinch film.
  • Born July 19 – Jared Padalecki, 36. Best known for his role as Sam Winchester on Supernatural, and not surprisingly, Supernatural: The Animation.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) OKAY. Mad Genius Club columnist Kate Paulk makes everything as clear as she usually does in “Eschew Claytons Diversity”.

…Take the Mad Geniuses. We’re Odds. We don’t fit in. But every last one of us fails to fit in in a different way than every other one of us….

(9) UNDER NEWTON’S TREE. At Galactic Journey, The Traveler is getting to dislike F&SF’s 1963 incarnation almost as much as he loathes Analog“[July 18, 1963] Several bad apples (August Fantasy and Science Fiction)”.  

I’ve discussed recently how this appears to be a revival period for science fiction what with two new magazines having been launched and the paperback industry on the rise.  I’ve also noted that, with the advent of Avram Davidson at the helm of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, the editorial course of that digest has…changed.  That venerable outlet has definitely doubled down on its commitment to the esoteric and the literary.

Has Davidson determined that success relies on making his magazine as distinct from all the others as possible?  Or do I have things backwards?  Perhaps the profusion of new magazines is a reaction to F&SF’s new tack, sticking more closely to the mainstream of our genre.

All I can tell you is that the latest edition ain’t that great, though, to be fair, a lot of that is due to the absolutely awful Heinlein dross that fills half of the August 1963 Fantasy and Science Fiction.  See for yourself…

“Heinlein dross” turns out to be code for an installment of the novel Glory Road.

(10) SPACE SAILS. [Item by Mike Kennedy] An exploratory project at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville AL is examining metamaterials as the basis for a solar sail for CubeSat propulsion. The Near-Earth Asteroid Scout (NEA Scout) is being developed by Marshall and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a candidate secondary payload to launch with EM-1 the first uncrewed test flight of the Space Launch System.

NEA Scout would be a robotic mission to fly by an NEA and return data “from an asteroid representative of NEAs that may one day be human destinations.” The asteroid chosen will depend on the launch date; the current target is  1991 VG. Though this is still only a candidate mission (and thus may never happen), NASA explains the mission like this:

Catching a ride on EM-1, NEA Scout will deploy from SLS after the Orion spacecraft is separated from the upper stage. Once it reaches the lunar vicinity, it will perform imaging for instrument calibration. Cold gas will provide the initial propulsive maneuvers, but the NEA Scout’s hallmark solar sail will leverage the CubeSat’s continual solar exposure for efficient transit to the target asteroid during an approximate two-year cruise.

Once it reaches its destination, NEA Scout will capture a series of low (50 cm/pixels) and high resolution (10 cm/pixels) images to determine global shape, spin rate, pole position, regional morphology, regolith properties, spectral class, and for local environment characterization.

Popular Science article looks a little closer at the use of metamaterials for the sail, talking with Dr. Grover Swartzlander (Rochester Institute of Technology) who is the lead for the project.

The metamaterial Swartzlander is proposing would have several advantages over the reflective materials of the past. Swartzlander’s sails would have lower heat absorption rates due to their diffractive nature which would scatter solar rays, and the ability to re-use what Swartzlander told NASA was “the abundant untapped momentum of solar photons” to fly through the cosmos.

Swartzlander is leading an exploratory study through NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts program. With nine months and $125,000, his research team will work on a NASA satellite called the Near-Earth Asteroid Scout, or NEA Scout for short. A robotic reconnaissance mission, NEA Scout is a CubeSat meant to explore asteroids. NEA Scout would be NASA’s first craft to be powered by sails.

(11) THEY SWORE A MIGHTY OATH. No “Second Variety”? “AI Innovators Take Pledge Against Autonomous Killer Weapons”.

The Terminator‘s killer robots may seem like a thing of science fiction. But leading scientists and tech innovators have signaled that such autonomous killers could materialize in the real world in frighteningly real ways.

During the annual International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Stockholm on Wednesday, some of the world’s top scientific minds came together to sign a pledge that calls for “laws against lethal autonomous weapons.”

“… we the undersigned agree that the decision to take a human life should never be delegated to a machine,” the pledge says. It goes on to say, “… we will neither participate in nor support the development, manufacture, trade, or use of lethal autonomous weapons.”

The moniker “autonomous weapons” doesn’t draw the same fear or wonder as a killer robot, but weapons that can function without human oversight are a real concern.

(12) NOT THE SIZE OF A PLANET. No one will ever be wondering this about sff fans. Gizmodo’s article “Did Neanderthals Go Extinct Because of the Size of Their Brains?” follows up a paper in Scientific Reports and a theory that Homo neanderthalensis may have gone extinct because their brains — though larger than that of Homo sapiens — had a cerebellum that was proportionately underdeveloped relative to H. sapiens.

Indeed, though scientists have many Neanderthal skulls to work with, none of them contain actual brains, making it difficult to know what the inside of their heads actually looked like. The next best option, therefore, is to look at their fossilized skulls and try to figure out the shape, size, and orientation of the Neanderthal brain.

To do this, Ogihara’s team created virtual three-dimensional “casts” of brains using data derived from the skulls of four Neanderthals and four early modern humans (the skulls used in the study dated from between 135,000 and 32,000 years ago). This allowed the researchers to reconstruct and visualize the 3D structure of the brain’s grey and white matter regions, along with the cerebrospinal fluid regions. Then, using a large dataset from the Human Connectome Project, specifically MRI brain scans taken of more than 1,180 individuals, the researchers modeled the “average” human brain to provide a kind of baseline for the study and allow for the comparative analysis.

Using this method, the researchers uncovered “significant” differences in brain morphology. Even though Neanderthals had larger skulls, and thus larger brain volume overall, H. sapiens had a proportionately larger cerebellum, the part of brain involved in higher levels of thinking and action. Modern humans also featured a smaller occipital region in the cerebrum, which is tied to vision. Looking at these differences, the researchers inferred such abilities as cognitive flexibility (i.e. learning, adaptability, and out-of-the-box thinking), attention, language processing, and short-term and long-term memory. Homo sapiens, the researchers concluded, had better cognitive and social abilities than Neanderthals, and a greater capacity for long-term memory and language processing.

(13) FORTNITE. Brian Feldman, in “The Most Important Video Game on the Planet” in New York Magazine, looks at how Fortnite. since its introduction in July 2017, “has risen to become the most important video game currently in existence…obsessed over by rappers and athletes, hotly debated in high school cafeterias, and played by 125 million people.”

Since it launched in July of last year, Fortnite has risen to become the most important video game currently in existence. The 100-player, last-man-standing video-game shooter is obsessed over by rappers and athletes, hotly debated in high-school cafeterias, and played by 125 million people. All this, not because of a major technical or graphical breakthrough, or for a groundbreaking work of narrative depth, but for, essentially, a simple, endlessly playable cartoon. On a colorful island peppered with abandoned houses, towns, soccer fields, food trucks, and missile silos, players don colorful costumes, drop out of a floating school bus, and begin constructing ramshackle forts that look like they’ve popped straight out of a storybook, before blowing each other to smithereens.

(14) TITANS. Official trailer —

TITANS follows young heroes from across the DC Universe as they come of age and find belonging in a gritty take on the classic Teen Titans franchise.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 11/16/17 Pixel My Blue Suede Scrolls!

(1) SERFS ERRANT. Gizmodo covers “Amazon’s Last Mile”, about the people who actually bring you the stuff.

Near the very bottom of Amazon’s complicated machinery is a nearly invisible workforce over two years in the making tasked with getting those orders to your doorstep. It’s a network of supposedly self-employed, utterly expendable couriers enrolled in an app-based program which some believe may violate labor laws. That program is called Amazon Flex, and it accomplishes Amazon’s “last-mile” deliveries—the final journey from a local facility to the customer.

While investigating the nature of the program, we spoke to 15 current or former independent drivers across nine states and two countries whose enrollment spanned between a few weeks and two years, as well as three individuals attached to local courier companies delivering for Amazon. Their identities have all been obscured for fear of retribution.

(2) PERITEXTUAL. Peter Watts, in “After Party”, tells about his experience at the “Space Vampires and the Future of ‘I’” symposium about his fiction.

I knew it was bound to fail— but when people are flying in from Michigan and Chicago and fucking Australia to attend, what kind of a dick would I be if I said Nah, I can’t be bothered to take a twenty-minute subway ride…? So I gritted my teeth, and made the journey. Scheduled a haircut just an hour before, so at least I’d look a little less like Rick Sanchez.

And the lady cutting my hair told me about her parents, left homeless when Hurricane Maria crawled overtop Dominica and just sat there, sandblasting that island down to the bedrock, for four days. Told me that at least now she knew her family wasn’t dead (she’d had a month to wonder about that) but that cell and internet were still out so she still hadn’t had a chance to talk to them directly.

Coming out of that haircut, the number of people who might or might not show up in Room 100 of the Jackman Building suddenly seemed a lot less important than it had been. I showed up at “Space Vampires and the Future of ‘I’” reality-checked, and significantly less self-absorbed. And you know what?

It was a pretty great time.

(3) MORE BOOK RECS. And in the wake of Andrew Weir releasing his list of six SF books, Elon Musk has listed eight books that he says made him who he is.  They include Lord of the Flies and the Foundation series: “Billionaire Elon Musk says he was ‘raised by books’ and credits his success to these 8”.

Up until Musk was 8, he lived with both of his parents Maye and Errol Musk in South Africa, Strauss reported. But he did not see them much and mostly lived under the watch of a housekeeper, who Musk said was mainly there to make sure he didn’t break anything.

“She wasn’t, like, watching me. I was off making explosives and reading books and building rockets and doing things that could have gotten me killed,” Musk told the magazine. “I’m shocked that I have all my fingers.”

(4) WHAT GOES UP. CNN profiles the symbolic first step as “Asgardia, the world’s first ‘space nation’, takes flight”.

On November 12, Asgardia cemented its presence in outer space by launching the Asgardia-1 satellite.

The “nanosat” — it is roughly the size of a loaf of bread — undertook a two-day journey from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, the United States, to the International Space Station (ISS).

It contains 0.5 TB of data belonging to 18,000 of Asgardia’s citizens, such as family photographs, as well as digital representations of the space nation’s flag, coat of arms and constitution.

… The nanosat will then be detached from the NASA vehicle and begin its own orbital journey around the earth. Citizens’ data will remain in orbit for between five and 18 months, the typical lifespan of this type of satellite. It will then burn out and disappear.

For Ashurbeyli, the launch fulfills a pledge he made when establishing the “space nation” to take its citizens to space via their data.

“I promised there would be a launch,” he says. “We selected NASA as a reliable partner … because we have to meet the commitments that I made 13 months ago.”

Getting it off the ground

Within 40 hours of the project being announced in 2016, over 100,000 people had applied for citizenship on Asgardia’s website. After three weeks, Asgardia had 500,000 applicants.

Anyone over 18 years old, with an email address, regardless of gender, nationality, race, religion, and financial standing can apply for citizenship — including ex-convicts, provided they are clear of charges at the time of application.

… Going forward, the Asgardia team hopes to create habitable platforms in low-earth orbits — the first one located 100 to 200 miles (161 to 321 kilometers) from space, which is also where the ISS is located.

The first human flight to this location is projected to take place in eight years’ time.

(5) IT COMES IN THE MAIL, TOO. Craig Engler from Z Nation (currently in its 4th season on Syfy) has launched a crowdfunding appeal on the new Drip platform for The Last Days of Earth, a new kind of serialized SF novel that “blurs the line between fiction and reality.” It’s a story about the end of the world where readers receive mysterious objects and clues in the mail timed to coincide with the release of new story installments.

The Last Days of Earth is one of the hand-picked projects chosen by Kickstarter to launch its new Drip platform, which debuted yesterday. While Kickstarter is designed for one-time funding, Drip was created as a venue for ongoing funding such as recurring subscriptions. Kickstarter members can use their existing logins to seamlessly access Drip.

The Last Days of Earth started out as a TV pilot, but I realized the themes and concepts I wanted to explore would work better as a novel,” Engler said. “But not just any novel. To tell the story right, it needed to be a serialized online book that unfolded in ‘seasons’ like a TV show and included real-world objects that would show up in readers’ mailboxes.

“The mystery objects stem from a concept in narrative theory called paratext. The idea of paratext is that things outside the text of a book — the cover art, reviews, blurbs, etc. — influence how readers experience the book. I wanted to take that idea further and create a story where physical objects were integral to the experience.”

The Last Days of Earth starts when everyone on the planet learns the world will end in six months. It follows the lives of six characters, each uniquely impacted by the news, who will find their lives intertwined in unexpected ways. The main protagonist is Anna, a pregnant women who learns her due date is the day the world will end and is determined to find a way to save her unborn child.

(6) REALITY SHOW. Michael Damian Thomas had this response to the Dragon Awards category realignments:

(7) SECOND NATURE. Has this ever been seen in the wild?

(8) WHITEOUT. NPR’s Jason Sheehan rates the start of a new Richard Baker series: “The Troublesome Universe Of ‘Valiant Dust'”.

I’m giving Baker some credit here. The man has written a bunch of books. He’s a solid voice in the military sci-fi genre and served as a United States naval officer himself, giving an earned weight to his voice when it comes to describing the minutiae of naval matters. Valiant Dust is the foundation of a new series (called Breaker of Empires) which, presumably, will follow the characters introduced here through the universe he has built.

But that universe? It’s troublesome. Set centuries in the future (following the discovery of faster-than-light technology, a diaspora from earth as it falls to a barely mentioned global Caliphate, and the always convenient misplacing of several entire planets full of mono-ethnic peoples who then slip into a kind of futuristic techno-feudalism before being miraculously re-discovered hundreds of years later), Valiant Dust drops in at a point where the major “cosmopolitan” powers — the Euro-centric Aquilans, the Germanic Dremark Empire, and the Canadians, for some reason — have become a sort of First World commonwealth. In a peaceful state of détente, they are either nobly aiding the backwards human colonies recover from their isolation, or ruthlessly divvying up this galactic Third World as nouvelle colonial masters.

(9) CHATTING WITH CHATTERLY. A modern Eliza: “Tinder bot quotes Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

Lady Chatterley’s presence on Tinder has come courtesy of Libby Heaney, who has created a profile for the character and programmed a bot to chat with real men, using only lines from the book.

She also created profiles for Clifford and Mellors.

After around 800 conversations with real romance-seekers, the exchanges are part of an artwork called Lady Chatterley’s Tinderbot, which will be exhibited for the first time in the UK at the Lowry arts centre in Salford from Saturday.

(10) UP IN THE AIR. Weather geekery: “The Hurricane Season, As Shown By Salt, Smoke And Dust” (text and video)

Hurricane Harvey as a ball of swirling sea salt. Hurricane Irma scooping up the sands of the Sahara. Hurricane Ophelia, bizarrely, taking smoke from Portugal and pulling it up to the coast of Ireland.

A new visualization from NASA shows the hurricanes from 2017 season from a new perspective — that is, their impact on particles carried in the wind.

The video pulls from satellite imagery and computer models to track how aerosols are affected by hurricanes.

(11) THROWING THE FIRST STONE. Action teaching: “Castle Gardens Primary School ‘hit by meteorite'”.

A tarmac company provided and transported the “meteorite” and altered the school playground.

The PSNI also went to the school to respond to the “emergency”.

Mr Gray said that staging the strike would have a number of benefits for the pupils.

“It gives the children the chance to experience and imagine an event they’d otherwise only see on video clips or photographs,” he said.

“We deliberately timed it to be the first Monday after the first AQE transfer paper so that pupils could take their minds off the test for a few hours.

Chip Hitchcock sent the link with a comment, “This is a step up from the why-witnesses-are-unreliable demo (a staple of journalism schools) that I got in junior high.”

(12) SLICE OF LIFE. The BBC reports: “First gene-editing in human body attempt”.

Gene-editing has been attempted on cells inside a patient, in a world first by doctors in California.

Brian Madeux, 44 from Arizona, was given the experimental treatment to try to correct a defect in his DNA that causes Hunter’s syndrome.

Mr Madeux says he was prepared to take part in the trial as he is “in pain every second of the day”.

It is too soon to know whether or not the gene-editing has worked in Mr Madeux’s case.

(13) RAMPAGE. There’s a new trailer out for a giant animal movie with Dwayne Johnson that’s coming out in April.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes  to  File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]

Dragon Awards Category Changes

Today the Dragon Awards officially declared nominations are being taken for the 2018 awards. The site had already been updated and opened to participants some days ago.

They also announced the creation of a new category, and the retirement of another.

We are excited to announce, Best Media Tie-In Novel, as a new category for the 2018 Dragon Awards!

Qualifications for this new category include: that it is a novel, 70,000 words in length, containing a single story, (no anthologies) based on a media property: comic book, game, graphic novel, literary work, movie or television series.

The category of Best Apocalyptic Novel has been retired. In the award’s first two years it was won by Nick Cole for Ctrl Alt Revolt! (2016) and Cory Doctorow for Walkaway (2017).

[Thanks to Laura for the story.]