ULTRAGOTHA writes, “Here is Leto Purrrtreides, Son of Meow’d Dib with Dune and Dune Messiah. Our copy of Children of Dune seems to have gone missing.”
Photos of your felines resting on genre works are welcome. Send to mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com
(1) CHECK-IN. The 1954 Worldcon chair Les Cole and Esther Cole, who live in the vicinity of the Ventura, CA fires answered Rich Lynch’s query about how they are doing —
Thanks for asking. Les and I and doggies are OK. Fire went passed us. The air is heavy, so we stay indoors. Much of southern California is rough.
(2) HERBERT MAY BE HONORED BY HOMETOWN. Metro Parks Tacoma Public Information Manager Michael Thompson says a recommendation to name a local peninsula “Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park” and its loop trail “Frank Herbert Trail” probably will go to the Park Board for a vote in January. The proposal has been working its way through the system for some time. The News Tribune has an update: “‘Dune’ author Frank Herbert finally set to get his due in his hometown of Tacoma”:
While the Metro Parks Board will have the final say on the matter — and it’s the elected body’s prerogative to deviate or tweak — it’s clear that the public has spoken, and Metro Parks’ staff has attempted to listen. During a public outreach effort earlier this year, more than 500 possible names were submitted via an online survey. The majority of responses referenced Herbert or “Dune.”
“This name provides a simple, evocative identifier that highlights the uniqueness of the peninsula remediation and new park features,” according to the staff recommendation. “On a literary level, it honors the name of the book series by Frank Herbert, a famous Tacoma author, which was inspired by the environmental history of Tacoma’s Asarco copper smelter site, directly adjacent to the peninsula.”
Last month, Thompson helped a local radio reporter tour the peninsula with park commissioner Erik Hanberg. “‘Dune’ And The City Of Destiny: How Tacoma Inspired One Of The World’s Most Acclaimed Sci-Fi Authors”.
If you go to the base of Point Defiance in Tacoma and look east, you’ll see a finger of earth jutting into Puget Sound.
It formed as toxic slag spilled from a copper smelter during the city’s industrial heyday.
For years, it was a foreboding sliver of black, glassy material. Today, workers and machines roam the peninsula as they transform it into a grassy park with Puget Sound views.
Tacoma Metro Parks Commissioner Erik Hanberg has a space-age term for what’s going on there. He calls it “terraforming.”
(3) BACK TO THE STACK. Doris V. Sutherland does a good job framing the issues in “Rocket Stack Rumpus: Critics, Authors, and Non-Binary Science Fiction” accompanied by light analysis. Sutherland concludes:
Greg Hullender responded by writing an apology-cum-rebuttal in collaboration with Eric Wong and altering the offensive reviews. Despite this, he has paid a high price for his faux pas. Locus decided that he was unfit to recommend stories to readers and removed him from its reading list jury, making the following announcement on Twitter.
Thank you to those who brought their concerns about RSR to our attention. Greg Hullender will not be involved in the Locus Recommended Reading List. We support our wonderfully complex and diverse SF community, and hope for continued positive dialogue on these issues.
The reference to positive dialogue seems out-of-place. The Rocket Stack Rumpus marks a breakdown in communications all around, from a reviewer missing the point of the stories he was covering, to authors misreading his reviews in turn. Meanwhile, the issue of Rocket Stack Rank’s provincial approach to stories set against non-Western cultural backdrops–as flagged up by Rose Lemberg in this Twitter thread–ended up being lost alongside Hullender’s misunderstanding of non-binary SF, which is perhaps a secondary issue.
There may well be positive dialogue to come out of the controversy, but at the present moment, there is little of it to be seen.
(4) MEAT AND PROPER. Autocorrect is being blamed rather than legislators falling down on the job: ” Typo in Bill C-45 legalizes cannibalism instead of cannabis”.
“I think no one wanted to be the one to point out the error,” MP Sara Anderson said. “We all thought someone else would do it, and then they called the vote, and here we are, all voting to legalize cannibalism.”
(5) RADICAL CHANGE. If this catches on, Twitter will get awfully quiet.
Anyway….I've come out with a new policy of not tweeting about something until I actually know wtf I'm talking about so I don't accidentally spread misinformation. I'm sorry I did that earlier today.
— Hank Green is Dreaming of a White Christmas (@hankgreen) December 8, 2017
(6) ANDERS STORY COLLECTION. At Locus Online, “Rachel Swirsky reviews Six Months, Three Days, Five Others by Charlie Jane Anders”.
Anders’s unique humor provides a uniting theme. Only some of the stories are explicitly comic, but all benefit from her linguistic wit and her quirky but generous characterization. Her stories seem to say with affection, “People. We’re weird. What can you do?” She’s particularly good at tailoring prose to her characters, revealing their lives through their diction. Characters go to “one of those mom-and-pop Portuguese places” and “the kinda-sorta gay bar.”
(7) MCDUFFIE AWARD OPEN. The 4th Annual Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics is taking entries until December 31.
Please attach a link or a 15mb .PDF file of the work to be considered. When submitting work, we strongly suggest sending the first issue of a series. If submitting anything other than the first issue, a one-page synopsis of what came before must accompany the submission. Also, we suggest sending the first 25-30 pages or first chapter of a graphic novel. We cannot guarantee anything more will be considered. If one is available, please also attach a .JPG photo of the entrant to the email. Please do not include any further attachments.
The award’s three new selection committee members are Jennifer de Guzman, Jamal Igle and Mikki Kendall, who join Mark D. Bright, Joan Hilty, Heidi MacDonald, Kevin Rubio, Gail Simone, and Will J. Watkins.
(8) ELIGIBILITY POSTS. Cat Rambo is doing her annual award eligibility post round-up, this year including editors, publishers, and magazines: “2017 Award-Eligible Work Blog Posts & Roundups for F&SF”. Right now there are about 20 entries on the list. She will be doing daily updates.
(9) CLASS TOMORROW. Cat Rambo says there is still space, including a couple of free slots, in the December 9 class “Speculative Poetry with Rachel Swirsky”.
Next classes are Saturday, December 9 – 9:30-11:30 AM or Wednesday, February 7, 2018, 4-6 PM. (Each class is a separate session.)
Poetry requires intense linguistic control. Every word matters. Whether you’re a poet who wants to create fantastical verses, or a prose writer who wants to learn the finely tuned narrative power that poetry can teach, you’ll find something in this class.
(10) WRITER’S LIFE. A short interview with Ursula K. Le Guin at Shelf Awareness:
Who do you write your blog for? Do you ever read the comments, and if so, what do you learn from them, if anything?
I write them for anybody who wants to read them. (Writers live in hope.)
Yes, sure, I read all the comments. They’re mostly good-natured, and some are thoughtful and enlightening.
You say that dystopian literature is yang-driven, and its opposite–utopian literature–is also yang-driven. Is there a literature that presents a realistically complex vision of a world in balance? Or is that just fantasy?
Of course it’s just fantasy. That’s why I write fantasy…
(11) NOBODY LIKES BEING SLAPPED. Cat Rambo, talking about writers and audiences: “Nattering Social Justice Cook: This Is Not A Review”.
So why did this book hit me so hard in an unhappy place? Because it was so smart and funny and beautifully written and involved connected stories about a favorite city and magic, which are three of my favorite things. And because it had a chapter that was one of the best short stories about addiction that I’ve read, and that left me thinking about it in a way that will probably shape at least one future story.
And yet. And yet. And yet. Women were either powerful and unfuckable for one reason or another or else fell into the category marked “women the protagonist sleeps with”, who usually didn’t even get a name. Moments of homophobic rape humor, marked by a repeated insistence on the sanctity of the hero’s anus, and a scene in which he embraces being thought gay in order to save himself from a terrible fate, ha ha, isn’t that amusing. And I’m like…jesus, there is so much to love about this book but it’s like the author reaches out and slaps me away once a chapter or so.
(12) TODAY IN HISTORY
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
(14) COMICS SECTION.
(15) END OF THE MAZE. Maze Runner: The Death Cure comes to theaters January 26.
In the epic finale to the Maze Runner saga, Thomas leads his group of escaped Gladers on their final and most dangerous mission yet. To save their friends, they must break into the legendary Last City, a WCKD-controlled labyrinth that may turn out to be the deadliest maze of all. Anyone who makes it out alive will get answers to the questions the Gladers have been asking since they first arrived in the maze.
(16) CONTRARIAN. Go figure. While Patreon was in flames yesterday, Jon Del Arroz climbed aboard — “Jon Del Arroz Patreon Launch!”.
(17) EWW. It’s admittedly a mixed message when I say “Don’t look!” then put in a link anyway — “Here’s What It Looks Like When You Fry Your Eye In An Eclipse”.
“We were very surprised at how precisely concordant the imaged damage was with the crescent shape of the eclipse itself,” noted Dr. Avnish Deobhakta, a retina surgeon at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai in New York, in an email to NPR.
He says this was the most severely injured patient they saw after the eclipse. All in all, 22 people came to their urgent care clinic with concerns about possible eclipse-related damage, and most of them complained of blurred vision. Of those, only three showed some degree of abnormality in the retina. Two of them had only mild changes, however, and their symptoms have gone away.
The young woman described in this case report, at last check, still has not recovered normal vision.
(18) SUPPORTING SPACE EXPLORATION. Bill Nye says The Planetary Society’s latest collaboration with the Chop Shop store is mission posters for kids, like this one:
(19) TENTACLE TIME. In the garden: “‘Underwater city’ reveals mysterious octopus world”.
Once thought of as solitary creatures, scientists discover ‘underwater city’ full of octopuses living side by side
A couple of assumptions are often made about octopuses. First, that they are smart. There is truth in that: octopus behaviour such as tool use, predation techniques and puzzle-solving suggest a higher level of intelligence than other invertebrates. Everyone has watched an octopus unscrewing a jar.
Second, they have a reputation for being solitary. So solitary in fact that an official collective noun for octopuses doesn’t even exist (though ‘tangle’ has been suggested).
This may have to change, however. Over the last decade, scientists have discovered that octopuses aren’t always lone beasts. In fact, octopuses engage in rich, fascinating and unusual behaviours when they interact with each other.
(20) PATREON SURVIVOR, IF POSSIBLE. Cat Rambo is weathering the storm by asking readers how to add more value to her Patreon campaign (and also whether or not to bail from it): https://www.patreon.com/catrambo
Cat She says, “I’ve lost about 15% of my income from there so far, but I’m a very minor player. however if there is something the F&SF is not seeing from me but desperately yearns for, now’s the time to weigh in: “Patreon Changes”.
(21) FRONT PAGE NEWS. I have added to the File 770 sidebar a link to John Hertz’ review of The Glass Bead Game (Hesse), which has found a permanent online home.
(22) KRYPTON. SyFy has put out a teaser trailer for its series about Superman’s homeworld. ScienceFiction.com sums it up:
The series is set two generations before the destruction of the Man of Steel’s home planet. ‘Krypton’ follows Superman’s grandfather (Cameron Cuffe), whose House of El was ostracized and shamed, as he fights to redeem his family’s honor and save his world from chaos. The Seg-El name is both a nod to Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel and a reference to John Byrne’s 1980s miniseries, ‘The World of Krypton.’ Cameron Cuffe is set to play Seg-El alongside with Georgina Campbell as Lyta Zod.
(23) THE DARK SIDE. Charles Payseur turns his attention to dark fantasy and horror in “Quick Sips – The Dark #31”.
December brings a pair of stories to The Dark Magazine that focus sharply on observation and theater. In both, women drawn into roles where they are closely watched by men, and in both these experiences are further framed in terms of a sort of voyeurism. In one, a woman is filed, in the other, a woman is part of a play. Both feature stages and bring the reader in as spectators and in some ways as participants. We are the eyes that act as camera and as audience.
(24) BLOW BY BLOW. Sci-Fi Design has a gallery of “Comic Book Covers Recreated Using Balloons”.
Comic book cover art is awesome. They use a variety of styles, but have you ever seen comic book covers that are made from balloons? These awesome balloon sculptures as comic book covers were created by Phileas Flash. They take days to make and the pieces themselves fit into a 10 foot by 10-foot space. Then photoshop is used to add the letters which are also balloons. I love all of the detail that he gets with this unusual medium.
(25) POP CULTURE SUMMIT. Rolling Stone took notes: “Alice Cooper on His Dinner With David Bowie and Ray Bradbury”.
After Cooper’s initial meeting with Bowie in the late Sixties, they later forged a friendship. Once, they even had dinner together with Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury. “It was really interesting, because these guys were in outer space somewhere,” he says. “They were talking about quantum physics, and I’m going, ‘So … what kind of car are you driving?'” Cooper laughs.
(26) CAMERON PROJECT. Alita: Battle Angel Official Trailer.
From filmmakers James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez. Alita Battle Angel is in theaters July 20, 2018. Cast: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley, Keean Johnson.
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Cat Rambo, Greg Hullender, David K.M. Klaus, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, Rich Lynch, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Darren Garrison.]
(1) ZENO’S MARTIAN THEOREM. You can’t get to Mars before you…“The first trip to Mars will come with the longest layover ever”
Nobody likes layovers, but the first astronauts heading to Mars will get to experience one of the longest such experiences of their lives. They’ll have to spend one year going around the moon, which will probably be a very annoying wait for the first people heading to the red planet. It’s not all bad news, however, as they won’t just wait for time to pass by. NASA actually wants to make sure that the round trip to Mars, a 1,000-day endeavor, is carefully planned during the time.
NASA’s Greg Williams, revealed that the agency’s Phase 2 of its plan to send humans to Mars includes a one-year layover in orbit around the moon in the late 2020s, Space reports..
Williams, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for policy and plans at the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, revealed that NASA wants to build a “deep-space gateway” around the moon that would serve as the testing ground for the first Mars missions.
(2) ZUBRIN’S MARTIAN KERFUFFLE. Joel Achenbach’s article for the Washington Post, “Mars Society founder blasts NASA for ‘worst plan yet’”, reports on a space exploration conference sponsored by The Atlantic in which Robert Zubrin said NASA’s plan to build a space station orbiting the moon is a giant waste of money because no one before this suggested Mars expeditions needed to have a midway stop before.
Until recently, NASA branded virtually everything it was doing as part of a “Journey to Mars,”and Mars remains the horizon goal. The destination was even mandated in a recent congressional authorization act for NASA that was signed by President Trump.
In the meantime, NASA has more modest plans — and these plans don’t please Zubrin, for one.
NASA wants to put a “spaceport”in orbit around the moon. It would be a habitat for astronauts on long-duration missions. You could call it a “space station”if you wanted, though it wouldn’t be nearly as big as the one that’s circling the Earth right now. NASA refers to it as the Deep Space Gateway and describes it as “a crew tended spaceport in lunar orbit.“
…After the presentations, Zubrin gave The Post some additional thoughts on what he perceives as NASA’s failure to come up with a bold and coherent plan. He said that in the long history of NASA studies on the future of human spaceflight — and there is a long list of these lengthy reports — no one ever suggested that an orbital lunar outpost was a necessary part of an exploration program. Part of the problem, as he sees it, is the agency’s recent announcement that the first, uncrewed flight of the Space Launch System rocket will be delayed again, to 2019: “The tragedy of SLS is not that it is being delayed. The tragedy is that it doesn’t matter that it’s being delayed, because there’s nothing for it to launch anyway.”
(3) BACK IN ACTION. After an 8-year break, Elizabeth Moon relaunched her Vatta’s War series in April with Cold Welcome.
(4) EMERGENCY BACKUP. “Justice League director Zack Snyder steps down due to family tragedy”. Joss Whedon comes off the bench to finish the picture.
Zack Snyder, who has acted as DC Comics’ directorial visionary on a number of its most ambitious film projects, is stepping down from Justice League due to a family tragedy. The news, announced in an interview published today by The Hollywood Reporter, means Snyder will be handing the reins over to Avengers director and writer Joss Whedon, who will ferry the project through its remaining post-production stage before its November 17th release later this year.
‘Justice League’ is now in Joss Whedon’s hands
Snyder, whose daughter committed suicide in March at the age of 20, admits that he originally misjudged how the loss would affect his work. “In my mind, I thought it was a cathartic thing to go back to work, to just bury myself and see if that was way through it,”Snyder told The Hollywood Reporter. “The demands of this job are pretty intense. It is all consuming. And in the last two months I’ve come to the realization…I’ve decided to take a step back from the movie to be with my family, be with my kids, who really need me. They are all having a hard time. I’m having a hard time.”
(5) DANCING IN THE SAND. A ballet adaptation of Dune will be performed August 4-6 by the Vaught Contemporary Ballet at the Baltimore Theater Project (45 West Preston Street, Baltimore, MD 21201):
Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, Dune, is widely recognized as the best selling science fiction novel of all time. It’s exploration of politics, religion, sexism and ecology set against an interstellar backdrop allows the reader a reflection on the human condition in the modern era. Herbert’s Fremen of Arrakis provide a counterpoint to a culture consumed by avarice — the desire for melange.
Join us as we depict Herbert’s illustrative words through the art of ballet. Movement will be on full display in its varied definitions as we follow Paul Atreides in his rise to power as both royalty and the prophet of the Fremen.
Keep track of the event on Facebook.
(6) GO GO GO. I don’t pronounce it, I just report it. “Google’s AlphaGo AI defeats world Go number one Ke Jie” — The Verge has the story.
Google’s AI AlphaGo has done it again: it’s defeated Ke Jie, the world’s number one Go player, in the first game of a three-part match. AlphaGo shot to prominence a little over a year ago after beating Korean legend Lee Se-dol 4-1 in one of the most potent demonstrations of the power of artificial intelligence to date. And its defeat of Ke shows that it was only getting started.
“I think everyone recognizes that Ke Jie is the strongest human player,”9th-dan professional and commentator Michael Redmond said before the match. And despite defeat, Ke’s strategy suggested that the 19-year-old Chinese prodigy has actually learned from AlphaGo’s often unorthodox approach. “This is Master’s move,”said Redmond of one of Ke’s earliest plays, referring to the pseudonym that AlphaGo used for a recent series of online matches in which it racked up a 60-game winning streak.
(7) COMIC SECTION. A commenter seeing yesterday’s news item about someone in a T-rex costume scaring horses in Charleston aptly contrasted the episode with the comic “Menace” at Hyperbole and a Half.
(8) THE PHENOMENON. Carl Slaughter has an update about prolific YA author Bella Forrest:
When we last checked in on Bella Forrest, she had just launched her dystopian Gender Game series and was continuing her longrunning Shade of Vampire series. In June 2017, she will wrap her Gender Game series. In March 2017, she launched her magic academy Spellshadow Manor series. Shade of Vampire is at #45. With all 3 series, she cranks out a book per month. Meanwhile, the first Gender Game novel has received 1500 Amazon reviews, over 90% of them 4 and 5 star.
(9) PUSHME PULLYU. “Oh, your tractor beam is so itty bitty.” “Oh, your imagination is so itty bitty.” —“Physicists sketch plans for a matter-wave tractor beam”.
A team of physicists have outlined a means of making tractor beams to push and pull objects at a distance using “matter waves” those strange analogues of light waves that underlie quantum mechanics.
Tractor beams, staple tools of science fiction for remotely pulling in space shuttles and yanking away incoming space debris, have been edging into reality in recent years.
The first real-life tractor beams were made of photons. It is easy to imagine a stream of photons carrying a particle of matter along like a river picking up a leaf and carrying it downstream. What is astounding about tractor beams is that by skilfully manipulating the transfer of momentum from the beam, physicists do not have to rely only on pushing particles, but can make light pull particles of matter, like a tractor. Beams made of sound waves have also been demonstrated in the lab.
(10) LEST PAYDAY FAIL. At Tor.com, Jo Walton asks “Why is Genre Fiction Obsessed with Belisarius?”.
I once wrote jokingly here that there are only three plots, and they are Hamlet, Pride and Prejudice, and Belisarius, because those are the ones everyone keeps on reusing.
There is a conference in Uppsala in Sweden the weekend before the Helsinki Worldcon called “Reception Histories of the Future“which is about the use of Byzantium in science fiction. The moment I heard of it, I immediately started thinking about our obsessive reuse of the story of Belisarius. (I’m going. Lots of other writers are going. If you’re heading to Helsinki, it’s on your way, and you should come too!)
It’s strange that science fiction and fantasy are obsessed with retelling the story of Belisarius, when the mainstream world isn’t particularly interested. Robert Graves wrote a historical novel about him in 1938, Count Belisarius, and there’s Gillian Bradshaw’s The Bearkeeper’s Daughter (1987), but not much else. Whereas in genre, we’ve had the story of Belisarius retold by Guy Gavriel Kay, David Drake (twice) and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and used by L. Sprague de Camp, John M. Ford, Jerry Pournelle, Robert Silverberg, and Isaac Asimov. So what is it about this bit of history that makes everyone from Asimov to Yarbro use it? And how is it that the only place you’re likely to have come across it is SF?…
(11) ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST. Trae Dorn at Nerd & Tie says a Chicago convention is pivoting to serve a different market and adopting a new name — “Kollision Con Calling it Quits, Organizers Launching GEM Expo Chicago Gaming Con in Its Place”.
After six conventions, Chicago based anime convention Kollision Con€˜s organizers have decided to call it quits. They made the announcement on the con’s official Facebook page late last week, citing venue issues and an overcrowded Anime con scene as their primary reasons for ending the show.
The organizers aren’t giving up on running conventions though, as in that same post they announced the GEM Expo Chicago, a gaming convention that will occupy the dates originally reserved for Kollision Con 2017.
(12) FLYING OFF THE SHELVES. Last year toy sales received a boost and the reason is clear — “Year-round ‘Star Wars’ toy sales boost entertainment merchandise revenue” reports the LA Times.
Year-round “Star Wars” hype is giving a boost to Hollywood’s merchandising business.
Licensed goods based on movies and other entertainment properties generated $118 billion in global retail sales last year, up 5% from 2015, according to a new report.
Toys, apparel and other wares tied to movies such as “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” helped propel the increase, the Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Assn. said Monday.
The year benefited from two “Star Wars” installments as bookends: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which was released in December 2015, and “Rogue One,” which came out a year later, said Marty Brochstein, senior vice president of the association.
“In 2016, you had a full year of sales of ‘Star Wars’ merchandise,” Brochstein said. “Obviously that helped on the entertainment side.”
(13) DON’T STIFF THE STAFF. Are you a bad tipper? You’re a science fiction fan, of course you’re a bad tipper. Okay, maybe not you personally. But ever been out to dinner with a group of fans? It can be excruciating! Here’s one commentator’s advice about “How to Tip in All Situations”.
Tipping has been known to divide families, ruin relationships, and even start wars. Not really. But tipping is an issue that brings out all sorts of passionate opinions.
Who should you tip? How much should you tip? When is it appropriate to leave a bad tip? And is the whole idea of tipping flawed in the first place?
If you’ve ever asked those questions, then we’re here to provide a little clarity on the all-important subject of tipping etiquette.
When in doubt about whether or not to leave a tip, always err on the side of generosity. Remember, your tip says more about you than the person you’re leaving a tip for.
So let’s take a look at some of the people you should tip. Then we’ll give you a general idea of how much to tip them.
(14) FEELINGS OF INSECURITY. Yahoo! News lists major cyber attacks over the past 10 years.
A huge range of organisations and companies around the world have been affected by the WannaCry ransomware cyberattack, described by the EU’s law enforcement agency as “unprecedented”.
From “cyberwar” to “hacktivism”, here are some of the major cyberattacks over the past 10 years: …
…In November 2014, Sony Pictures Entertainment became the target of the biggest cyberattack in US corporate history, linked to its North Korea satire “The Interview”.
The hackers — a group calling itself Guardians of Peace — released a trove of embarrassing emails, film scripts and other internal communications, including information about salaries and employee health records…
(15) STATE OF THE ART. Carrie Vaughn’s Amaryllis and Other Stories was named winner of the Colorado Book Award in the Genre Fiction category on May 21. [Via Locus Online.] (See, proper attribution can be done. It hardly hurts at all.)
(16) WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY. The latest explanation for bee colony collapse — “How beekeepers help deadly parasites thrive” in Cosmos.
Deadly mite infestations considered a leading cause of the continuing collapse of the global commercial honey-bee industry are being abetted by modern bee-keeping practices, new research suggests.
The research, published in the journal Environmental Entomology, points the finger at the practices of siting commercial hives too close to each other, and of thwarting the bees’ swarming behavior, for creating conditions ideal for the rapid growth and spread of the parasitic Varroa mite.
The mite (Varroa destructor) is a text-book example of zoonosis — a predatory or parasitic species that has “spilled over” from its traditional host into a new species which, not being adapted to it, suffers catastrophic consequences.
Varroa’s natural host in the Asian honey-bee (Apis cerana). Co-evolution has resulted in the two species being able to live in balance.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, John King Tarpinian, Kreiri, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GONNA GET. I appreciate the irony in the first line of Germain Lussier’s io9 post “The New Dune Movie Is Being Written By the Man Who Wrote Forrest Gump”:
But we don’t think that should worry you.
According to Lussier, Eric Roth, who won an Oscar for his adapted screenplay for Forrest Gump, has been hired to adapt the Frank Herbert novel Dune for director Denis Villeneuve.
(2) NEW AFRICAN SF AWARD. Since the Hugo announcement date was only known a few days ahead of time, the African Speculative Future Society may not have known that April 4 was a less-than-optimum date to announce the inaugural 2017 Nommos shortlist.
The categories are:
The Ilube Award for Best Speculative Fiction Novel by an African – 1000 USD prize,
The Nommo Award for Best Speculative Fiction Novella by an African – 500 USD
The Nommo Award for Best Speculative Fiction Short Story by an African – 500 USD
The Nommo Award for Best Speculative Fiction Graphic Novel by Africans – 1000 USD to be shared.
The award website says —
The award has been funded for four years, by Mr Tom Ilube.
“Science fiction is important because it looks ahead to African futures. Fantasy and fiction based on traditional tales are important because they link us back to our forebears. Both are important for African development. I wanted to make sure that the explosion of African science fiction gets the recognition it deserves.” Mr Tom Ilube.
The first award ceremony will be held at Aké Festival in Nigeria, November 2017. After that they hope to alternate the location of the awards ceremony between West and East Africa.
Here are links to the Short List and the rest of the nominees in all 4 categories:
(3) OLD OPERA HAS NEW ACTS. Cora Buhlert couldn’t find what she liked 20 years ago, but there’s enough good stuff now for her to be writing about “The Space Opera Resurgence”.
I didn’t like any of those books. But I was an SF fan and a space opera fan and this was all the space opera there was, with very few exceptions (mostly published by Baen Books, which are notoriously difficult to find in Europe). So I kept trying the highly regarded New Space Opera of the early 2000s, until I found myself standing in the local Thalia store, the latest offering of New British Space Opera subgenre in hand (it was this one – I remember the cover very clearly), when I suddenly dropped the book to the floor and exclaimed, “Why do I keep buying this shit? I don’t even like these books.” So I turned my back on New British Space Opera and on science fiction altogether (I did put the book back on the shelf first) and read other genres for a few years, until I came back in a roundabout way via urban fantasy and science fiction romance and found a whole universe of SFF books that weren’t on the radar of the official genre critics at all.
Now, some ten to fifteen years later, there is a lot more space opera on the shelves than back in the early 2000s. It’s also a lot more diverse the than just pale Banks clones. Nor is it just written by white, overwhelmingly British dudes – indeed, some of the best space opera of today is written by women and writers of colour. And even some of those authors whose novels almost put me off science fiction altogether some ten years ago are writing much more enjoyable works these days. …
(4) MAIL CALL. It’s not easy to get letters from the year 1962 unless you’re The Traveler. Galactic Journey today unveiled – “[April 5, 1962] Pen Pals (Letter Column #1)”. The first missive comes from University of Arizona student Vicki Lucas….
Of course, to pay the tuition and room & board, I also take in ironing, do tutoring, deliver newspapers, etc., and they helped me get a student loan. It’s been a real eye-opener to go to school here. Now I know what “scholarship” means. At the University of Arizona, from which I transferred last year, I did have some great learning experiences, but nothing as rich as this.
Not that I didn’t have some great experiences at UA, meeting an English Professor who is an avante-garde composer (Barney Childs), and since I worked in the Fine Arts College I went to most concerts & saw the harpsichord played for the first time (double keyboard!) & heard Barney’s music played. (I admit, I have a crush on him — see the enclosed photo.) And then I’ve been to San Francisco & seen jazz trumpeter Miles Davis & a lot of other stuff….
(5) CAMESTROS FELAPTON EXPLAINS IT ALL TO YOU. Thank goodness somebody can. In “Hugo 2017: How to vote for best series” he looks at 8 different approaches to dealing with the vastness of the Hugo nominated series. Sure, 8 is also a lot — just be grateful he didn’t try to match the number of ways Cyrano described his nose.
The issue is that Best Series is not unlike Best Editor Long Form – the normal way of voting in the Hugo Awards doesn’t work (read the relevant stuff and vote). However, unlike Best Editor Long, best series at least has accessible information and works. The problem is that it is way too much volume of stuff to evaluate if you haven’t already been following the series in question. So here are some approaches to choose from.
(6) CHOP CHOP. Shouldn’t Wolverine co-creator Len Wein be getting a cut of this?
A medical clinic in the Philippines is using an unusual mascot to advertise its circumcision service: claw-bearing X-Men super hero Wolverine.
The advertisement for Dionisio M. Cornel Memorial Medical Center in Antipolo features an image of Hugh Jackman as the adamantium-clawed character he played in the X-Men and Wolverine films next to text promoting the clinic’s circumcision service.
(7) RED ALERT. At Nerd & Tie Trae Dorn wants to know “What the Heck is Even Happening With AnachroCon Right Now?”
The Atlanta, GA based convention AnachroCon might be more aptly named “AnarchoCon” these days. Earlier this week the convention’s Chair and legal counsel Sarah Avraham stepped down in what sounds like an extremely complicated situation.
In a public Facebook post Avraham detailed the reasons for her departure, and while you should really read that post in its entirety, I’ll do my best to summarize it. It starts when Avraham was approached by William and Cindy MacLeod in the spring of 2016 to take over the event in an attempt to rehabilitate the convention’s image and get it back on track financially.
Because man, this con needed help….
(8) ON HOLD. Nerd & Tie is also reporting that “One Month After Cancellation, Multiple Parties Still Waiting For Refunds From Lebanon MEGA Con:.
This last weekend would have been the second annual Lebanon MEGA Con, if the Missouri based convention hadn’t announced its cancellation just one month before. While organizer Will Peden did say that everyone owed money would be paid, some parties are waiting for those promises to be fulfilled.
(9) TODAY IN FUTURE HISTORY
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
— Galactic Journey (@journeygalactic) April 5, 2017
I recognize Bob Tucker on the left. Who is the woman on the right? The photo is from a 1959 party in Chicago.
(11) DELIBERATIONS CONTINUE. The Shadow Clarke Jury carries on a discussion of the books they’d like to see considered for the Clarke award.
It does not seem surprising that reading Don DeLillo’s novel Zero K, in which an estranged son accompanies his tycoon father to the threshold of his journey into eternity, brought those memories of Cold Lazarus especially rushing back. Straddling the millennium, both [Dennis] Potter’s final teleplays and DeLillo’s sixteenth novel have a leached-out, end-times quality that puts human mortality centre stage and refuses to look away. That Potter’s scripts – almost a quarter-century old now and written while SF was still very much a pariah literature – leap naked into the science fictional abyss, while DeLillo’s novel appears to negate, to brush aside the very notion of science fiction altogether, seems just one further irony.
Imagine a table laden with all the food you can think of; things you like and things you don’t like; cuisines from all around the world; the fresh and the fast; three thousand calorie freak-shakes next to organic kale salads; dessert piled on top of nachos sitting on a bed of pears. The table is groaning, under the physical and the metaphorical weight of the feast. It’s wonderful and disconcerting and a bit horrifying and deliciously tempting at the same time. This is the gastronomic equivalent of Cathrynne M. Valente’s Radiance, a virtuoso outpouring of language, style, trope and intertext fit to overwhelm any appetite. It took close to a week for me to sit down and start this review after I finished the book; I needed that long to digest it. If you like your novels spare or clean this one probably isn’t for you.
His claim directly addresses the central conceit of the novel that the networks and routes by which African-American slaves escaped to the free states and the North exists as an actual underground railroad with stations and steam locomotives on rails. However, his mistake lies in imagining that the workings of the railroad can be reduced to information as legible as a map and a timetable. Earlier in the novel, when Cora visits this particular ‘ghost tunnel’ for the first time with the railroad operative, Royal, she reflects that the necessary secret of the railroad is not a bad type of secret but rather an intimate part of the self that is central to personal identity: ‘It would die in the sharing.’ The enigma of the railroad, as Royal observes, is that ‘it goes everywhere, to places we know and those we don’t’. The challenge it presents is not to classify it as a system of knowledge but to figure out both how it connects the different selves who use it and where it might lead to.
The Man Who Spoke Snakish is easily the least traditionally science fictional of my shortlist selections: not only does it feature no rockets, but it’s set firmly in the past (and is more about pasts than futures) and it includes talking snakes and something very much like a dragon. In the sense that science fiction is defined by the presence or absence of received ideas and familiar imagery—that is, using the least science fictional definition of science fiction—it would not be considered science fiction.
(12) A LITTLE SMACK. Fusion says justice has been served – “Black Panther and Ms. Marvel Nominated for Hugo Awards Days After Marvel VP Blamed Them for Sales Slump”.
On Tuesday morning, the finalists for the 2017 Hugo Awards (the Oscars of sci-fi and fantasy writing) were announced by the World Science Fiction. Unsurprisingly, collected volumes of Marvel’s critically acclaimed Black Panther and Ms. Marvel series were both nominated for Best Graphic Story.
These nominations come just days after Marvel’s Vice President of Sales, David Gabriel, went out of his way to blame Marvel’s lagging sales on comics—like Black Panther and Ms. Marvel—starring people of color and women. Suffice it to say that the optics of this whole thing don’t reflect well on the publisher, but the Hugo nominations send a telling message to Marvel about just how the public actually feels about its “diverse books.”
(13) REACTION POST. Abigail Nussbaum catalogs all the emotions she’s feeling after seeing the 2017 Hugo shortlist, beginning with happiness about her Best Fan Writer nomination, and continuing down the spectrum til she reaches —
Frustration, because the puppies’ ongoing presence on the ballot, even under extremely reduced circumstances, means that it continues to be impossible to talk about the nominees as their own thing, rather than a reaction to an attempted fascist takeover. There’s a lot to praise about this year’s ballot, including the continued shift towards a more diverse slate of nominees, but in the short fiction categories in particular, the Hugo has once again thrown up a fairly middle-of-the-road selection. Most of these stories aren’t bad, but quite a few of them are meh, and it would be nice to once again be able to have a proper discussion of that. Instead, we’re all still in bunker mode, still cheering the fact that publishable fiction was nominated for the genre’s most prestigious award, which increasingly seems like a low bar to clear.
(14) PUPPY ANTENNAE ACTIVATED. Cora Buhlert sets things in context and delivers a thorough set of first impressions about the Hugo ballot.
The best novel category looks excellent. We have the sequels to two previous Hugo winners in the category, Death’s End by Liu Cixin and The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin respectively. We have the long awaited and critically acclaimed debut novels by two accomplished short fiction writers, All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders and Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee respectively. We have a highly acclaimed debut novel with a very unique voice, Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer, as well as the sort of sequel to 2014’s highly acclaimed debut novel with a unique voice, A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. A Closed and Common Orbit, Too Like the Lightning and Ninefox Gambit were also on my ballot, and I’m looking forward to reading the remaining three. And those who worry that science fiction is about to die out and be swamped by fantasy, which will inevitably lead to the collapse of the West or something, will be pleased that four of the six nominees in this category are unabashedly science fiction. The Obelisk Gate is an edge case, while the only clear fantasy novel is All the Birds in the Sky and even that one has a mad scientist character. Diversity count: 4 women, 2 men, 3 writers of colour, at least 3 LGBT writers, 1 international writer in translation, 0 puppies.
(15) TUESDAY’S HUGO NEWS. H.P. at Every Day Should Be Tuesday features a picture of a dog in his more Puppy-sympathetic coverage of the 2017 Hugo Awards finalists.
… I am very gratified to see Cixin Liu back where he belongs Death’s End a finalist for Best Novel. I loved it, as you can probably tell by my overenthusiastic review. I thought The Dark Forest was robbed, and I voted for The Three-Body Problem as the Best Novel two years ago. I would have loved to have seen the entire series go up for an award, but oh well. It perhaps says something about the incestual nature of the Hugo voting that the two books in the series edited by the popular Ken Liu were finalists, and the one that wasn’t didn’t even finish in the top 15 nominations….
The Rageaholic was a finalist last year, but I only saw my first few videos within the last month or so. And for the most part, I have no interest in watching his videos on video games or movies or politics. If only for the main reason I don’t watch many YouTube videos or listen to many podcasts. I ain’t got time for that stuff. But Razorfist has an encyclopedic knowledge of comics and Elric of Melnibone. And he’s got a great shtick. Usually in black-and-white, decked out in mirrored sunglasses and a leather jacket, long hair, wall covered in posters behind him. Complete with some metal thrown-in to start and finish things off, and a rapid-fire, eloquent, profane delivery.
H.P. also identifies himself as a contributor to the Castalia House blog.
(16) HUGO BY OSMOSIS. The nominations have inspired J.D. Brink’s latest theory.
And John Picacio has been nominated for best professional artist. I’m pretty darn sure (though not 100%, mind you) that he and I shared a day at Dragon’s Liar comics in San Antonio signing stuff on Free Comic Book Day a few years ago. We sat right next to each other.
So by sheer proximity, I should be getting a Hugo award, if not this year, than next year
(17) IF I WERE A RICH MAN. Who knew I wouldn’t have to wait til I made a million dollars before seeing my name in Forbes? They published the Hugo nominees.
(18) MOST IMPORTANT CATEGORY. Jude Terror’s account of the nominations for Bleeding Cool is intentionally myopic: “Marvel And Image Split Hugo Awards Comics Category, Shut Out Other Publishers”.
Worldcon has released the finalists for the 2017 Hugo Awards, the science fiction and fantasy awards named after Amazing Stories founder Hugo Gernsback. We’re pretty sure that’s the book Spider-Man first appeared in. In true snooty comics website fashion, we’ll only talk about the things that relate to comic books and ignore everything else.
First, in the most important category, Best Graphic Story (that’s fancy-speak for comics), nominees included Marvel’s Black Panther, Ms. Marvel, and The Vision, two of the most successful and acclaimed books the likes of which Marvel “has heard” people don’t want anymore, and one written by a guy who “rode off into the sunset.” Monstress, Paper Girls, and Saga from Image took the other three slots, shutting out all other publishers. Shockingly, no prominent editors from the superhero comics community earned nominations in any of the editorial categories, though Sana Takeda, a familiar name to comics readers, did move the needle with a spot on Best Professional Artist list.
Dan Slott failed to secure a nomination in Best Fan Writer despite writing some of the most acclaimed Doctor Who fan fiction around in Silver Surfer, though Doctor Who’s Christmas Special, The Return of Doctor Mysterio, was nominated under the Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) category, which is a fancy way of saying “TV show.” Yes, we know we’re breaking out “only talk about comics” rule, but what could be more “comics website” than that?! Sir Robert Liefeld’s greatest creation, Deadpool, earned a nomination in the Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) category, which is a fancy way of saying “movie.”
(19) VIRTUAL VISON. “Astronomers just turned on a planet-size telescope to take a picture of a black hole” – Vox has the story. (No, not that Vox.)
Every image you’ve seen of a black hole is an illustration. A giant “virtual” telescope may change that….
We’ve never seen a direct image of a black hole. But if an audacious experiment called the Event Horizon Telescope is successful, we’ll see one for the first time.
Why we’ve never seen an image of a black hole
The biggest problem with trying to detect a black hole is that even the supermassive ones in the center of galaxies are relatively tiny.
“The largest one in the sky [is] the black hole in the center of the Milky Way,” Dimitrios Psaltis, an astrophysicist at the University of Arizona, said in 2015. “And taking a picture of it would be equivalent to taking a picture of a DVD on the surface of the moon
(20) THAT REVOLUTIONARY NEW IDEA FOR SELLING BOOKS. The Verge has another Amazon bookstore on its radar screen – it will be the third in New York.
Amazon has confirmed plans to open a brick-and-mortar bookstore across from the Empire State Building, bringing its total number of announced but as-of-yet unopened stores in New York City up to three.
Publisher’s Weekly reports that a sign reading “Amazon Books Coming Soon” has gone up in the 34th Street storefront, adding that an Amazon rep said the store will open this summer. The store has also been added to the Amazon Books website. This would presumably make it Amazon’s second store in New York. A location in Columbus Circle’s Time Warner Center (just off of Central Park) was announced in January, with the intent to open this spring.
Another, in Hudson Yards, the still-under-construction $20 billion shopping and luxury residential complex on Manhattan’s far west side, was widely reported last summer — with plans to launch alongside the rest of the development’s new stores in 2018 or 2019.
(21) CUTTING EDGE. Here’s the King Arthur: Legend of the Sword final trailer. The film will be out May 12.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, and Mark-kitteh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
(1) TRUE GRIT. The director of Arrival has signed on make another adaptation of Dune.
Denis Villeneuve, best known for his directorial work on Arrival, Sicario and the upcoming Blade Runner sequel, is set to tackle the adaptation of Frank Herbert’s celebrated sci-fi epic, Dune.
Villeneuve was first rumored to be in the running for the role in December, but it wasn’t until yesterday the confirmation was announced. Brian Herbert, son of Frank Herbert and a celebrated science-fiction author in his own right, made the announcement on Twitter.
It's official — Legendary Pictures has signed the very talented Denis Villeneuve to direct the exciting new DUNE series film project.
— Brian Herbert (@DuneAuthor) February 1, 2017
(2) PETER WESTON EULOGY. This month, Ansible has an extra issue — #355-1/2 — with Tom Shippey’s funeral tribute to Peter Weston. Shippey illustrates Peter’s personality with anecdotes about his business.
What powered that success was not government assistance but reason number two, Peter’s complete lack of pretence. The success of Weston Body Hardware was not based on cunning marketing or managerial tricks, it was based on Peter’s 150-page catalogue of door locks, and unlike many managers Peter knew everything about his product. He took every picture in his catalogue himself, and in each one you could tell left-hand from right-hand.
He usually had a screwdriver in his pocket as well, for removing interesting locks from derelict vehicles, and he could tell a Hillman Minx lock from a Ford Capri blindfolded. I recall one occasion in Texas, 1988, when his attention was caught by a beautifully-refurbished sports car in a car-park. He stepped smartly over to it, looked down, shook his head and remarked (to himself, not the yuppie owner who was standing proudly by), ‘How very disappointing! An Austin-Healey 3000, and all they’ve found to put on the boot is a left-over lock from a Singer Vogue!’ It sounded absolutely apocalyptic.
(3) STICKY FINGERS. Bleeding Cool has the rundown on “The New York Comic Con Organiser Barred From Attending New York Comic Con” after he looted another dealer’s display.
…Frank Patz, organiser of the neighbouring comic con, Eternalcon in Long Island, New York, attending NYCC as part of Michael Carbonaro‘s Vintage Movie Posters booth, was arrested by NYPD Special Forces on charges of grand larceny and possession of stolen goods….
It is common practice at shows for the trash at the end of the shows to be raided by some vendors to find things that other vendors have left behind. However Eaglemoss representatives told me they were still in the process of breaking down their space, and the items in question were still inside the booth, and not considered trash.
Most of the items were returned after the arrest, and the charges are pending dismissal if Patz keeps a clean record for the next six months.
…However NYCC and the Javitz Center do not seem to hold with the “innocent until proven guilty” thesis. And so while Frank Patz will have no marks on his official police record as a result of this, he and all the individuals named, have been barred from entering the Javits Center, and show organisers Reed POP have barred them for life from attending any of their events, including the New York Comic Con, C2E2, ECCC and more.
(4) NEW PRESCRIPTION. Alasdair Stuart contends “It’s Time for Doctor Who to Change Television History for the Better” at Tor.com.
A Doctor who isn’t a white man is not a destination, it’s the start of a conversation. If the character worked—and it would—that would be an unmistakable turning point in how POC and female characters are portrayed on screen. It would also empower a generation of writers and actors, crew and producers to make their own work, with their own voices—work that, in the wake of a successful Doctor Who run with a woman or a POC in the lead role, would almost certainly find itself in a far more open and welcoming production environment.
That conversation is long and complicated and years overdue. It’s one that has to include bringing more and more women and POC into the fold as scriptwriters and showrunners and directors. It’s also one that needs to be years long in order for the changes it would catalyse to take effect. Most of all, it’s simply one that needs to happen, and there is no better time than now, and no better place to start than with Doctor Who.
(5) YOUR INVITATION TO A CONSPIRACY. John Scalzi shows us the way to make lemonade after he discovers an author has fallen for Vox Day’s insinuations about his bestseller status. (I argued in 2014 that Vox’s gambit was dubious because it equally undermined Larry Correia, then his ally).
I was pointed this morning to a blog post by an author not previously of my acquaintance who was making a bit of noise about the UK cover of The Collapsing Empire; the June 2016 cover reveal of the UK cover featured the strapline “The New York Times Bestselling Series”…
A little further digging revealed that this author almost certainly got this idea from one of my usual suspects (i.e., the same poor wee racist lad whose adorable mancrush on me has gone unabated for a dozen years now), who trumpeted the strapline as evidence that Tor is planning to fake a position for me and TCE on the New York Times bestseller list. As apparently they have done with all my work, because as you know I don’t actually sell books; Tor and Tor UK and Audible and a couple dozen publishers across the planet give me lots of money strictly because I am the world’s best virtue signaller, and therefore worth propping up with byzantine schemes to fake my standing on bestseller lists, because who doesn’t like virtue.
…(P.S.: If you would actually like to see me get on the New York Times bestseller list with The Collapsing Empire — or in the UK, the Times bestseller list (that’s the Times in the UK, that is, these newspapers with the same names are confusing) — then be part of the vast conspiracy of people who pre-order the book, either from your local bookseller, or via your favorite online retailer. Sadly, my publishers don’t actually prop me up. I really do have to sell books for a living. Again: Sooooooooo unfair!)
(6) BALANCING THE BOOKS. Tolkien once was a customer of a shop now closed and auctioning off its business archives: “These boots were made for Tolkien: Ledgers from iconic Oxford shoe shop Duckers go under the hammer”.
Famous names feature in the ledgers of shoemakers Ducker & Son which are about to be offered for sale by Oxford auction house Mallams, writes Richard Lofthouse…
They range from little-known Oxford academics and wealthy undergraduates with a taste in bespoke footwear to local luminaries such Tolkien, Brideshead Revisited author Evelyn Waugh and publisher Sir Basil Blackwell (who insisted his shoes were always rubber-soled).
First World War flying ace Baron von Richthofen, European aristocratic families and several maharajahs also shopped at Duckers. More recent patrons have included Olympic rower Matthew Pinsent, comedian Rowan Atkinson, former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson and Formula One boss Eddie Jordan.
Tolkien’s first order at the start of Michaelmas term 1913 is for a pair of black rugby boots for 14s 6d, a pair of porpoise laces for 8d, and a pair of ordinary laces for 2d. He was then an undergraduate at Exeter College, just up the street from Duckers’. The year had been a landmark one for Tolkien: he had changed his course from the Classics to English literature and, on the turn of his 21st birthday, had proposed to his childhood sweetheart Edith Bratt. Standing (above) in his pale jersey in the middle of the beefy athletes of Exeter College’s Rugby and Boat Clubs in 1914, Tolkien looks rather small; but he said that what he lacked in weight, he made up by extra ferocity.
A later page shows two orders by Tolkien in the 1950s, when he was Merton Professor of English Language and Literature and shoe prices had risen considerably: he bought three pairs for around £6 apiece. Fortunately his professorial income was supplemented by royalties from The Hobbit and, by the time of the last order, The Lord of the Rings, published in 1954–5.
(7) SNAKES, IT HAD TO BE SNAKES! I am told February 1 is Serpent Day. Not sure why that precedes Groundhog Day, but there you have it.
Serpents deserve a day dedicated to them; its presence is somehow necessary, what with all of the fables and stories abound with snake-inspired situations and wise or evil serpents, that have filled our culture for as long as any of our ancestors could remember.
(8) WHO FATIGUE. Are you tired of watching Doctor Who? I’m not, but if you are, CheatSheet offers four reasons that might explain why. (More likely, you’re tired of clickbait articles like this that drag you through multiple ad-saturated screens to see the complete post.)
- The Doctor got meaner
Fans familiar with the progression of the Doctor are familiar with the defining personality traits of each modern doctor. Christopher Eccelston was a stripped-down version of a previously flamboyant character, beginning a walk down a decidedly grimmer path for the Doctor’s personality. David Tennant after him was kind yet stern, with sharp features to match. He always carried with him a certain guilt over the burden of being the last of the Time Lords, leading into the reactively younger and more carefree Matt Smith iteration.
Finally, we were left with Peter Capaldi, the more mature and notably older version of the Doctor. It was more than a little jarring to go from the warm, goofy demeanor of Smith to the crotchety and sometimes mean-spirited Capaldi version. This in turn made it hard to adjust for fans, leading many to jump ship mere episodes in to the latest season.
(9) TAKING FLIGHT. Nerds of a Feather rounds out its Hugo recommendations with two more posts:
Best Graphic Story, Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form, Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form
Editor – Short Form, Editor – Long Form, Professional Artist, Fan Artist, Fan Writer.
(10) FURTHER THOUGHTS. Rich Horton ranges widely in his “Hugo Nomination Thoughts: Long Fiction (and some notes on Dramatic Presentation)”. And he compliments one of JJ’s posts, too.
Considering this brand new category reminds me of one novel that I have just read, Impersonations, by Walter Jon Williams, a new pendant to his Praxis (or Dread Empire’s Fall) series. It’s a fun story, and I’m glad I read it, but I don’t think it’s Hugo-worthy by itself. I am strongly considering nominating the entire series for a Hugo, however.
And, indeed, that hints at one of my misgivings about the Hugo for Best Series. The most recent entry in a series may not be particularly representative of the series as a whole, nor as good as the rest of the series. The same comment, obviously, applies to Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series, represented in 2016 by the rather pedestrian Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen. I would say personally that both Bujold’s Vorkosigan series and Williams’ Praxis book are worthy, over all, of a Best Series Hugo, but that the best time to award them that Hugo has passed. (Which, to be sure, is primarily a function of this being a brand new award.)
At any rate, I was wondering what the possible candidates for Best Series, eligible in 2016, might be, and I was delighted to find that JJ, over at File 770, had done the heavy lifting, producing this page with a good long list of potential eligible series: http://file770.com/?p=30940.
(11) TRUE LOVE. With Valentine’s Day on the calendar this month, Seattle’s MoPOP Museum has sent those on its email list a set of Fictional Flames: A Lovesick List of #MoPOPCULTURE Power Couples.
In honor of cupid’s return, here are our picks for the fictional couples who remind us why we love to fall in love.
Uhura + Spock : Star Trek – This futuristic couple showed the world how to love long and prosper.
Clark Kent + Lois Lane: Superman – The most unique story of journalistic love. Ever.
Hermione + Ron: Harry Potter – These longtime friends fell hard with no love potion required.
Buttercup + Westley: The Princess Bride – True love has never been more adventurous.
Elizabeth + Mr. Darcy: Pride and Prejudice – This enduring duo have been charming readers and viewers since 1813!
Kermit + Miss Piggy: The Muppets – The most sensational, inspirational, celebrational muppet couple.
Gomez + Morticia: The Addams Family – “Till death do us part” takes on a whole new meaning.
Mitch + Cam: Modern Family – These loving family men are the perfect suburban couple.
Rick + Ilsa: Casablanca – This bittersweet, war-torn romance will have you reaching for the tissues.
Willow + Tara: Buffy the Vampire Slayer – The couple that slays together stays together.
Han + Leia: Star Wars – She loves him. He knows. (He loves her too.)
(12) TRIBBLES AT THE UNIVERSITY. “The Trouble With Tribbles” episode of Star Trek will be screened at UCLA in the Billy Wilder Theater on February 5 as part of the “Family Flicks Film Series.” Details about price and schedule are at the link,
Celebrate the 50th anniversary of a classic television episode from a landmark series! Watch as Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and Spock (Leonard Nimoy) deal with an infestation of cute, fuzzy tribbles aboard the Enterprise. Soothing to the crew and annoying to the Klingons, the furry nuisances nonetheless hold the key to a mystery on board. Trekkie suits and transporters optional!
(13) BRAND ‘EM. Rawle Nyanzi, in “Fear of a Pulp Planet”, calls it a “Pulp Revolution” —
Bloggers Jeffro Johnson — whose Appendix N book I spotlighted here — and Jon Mollison, both of whom I’m acquainted with online, have made much of the “Pulp Revolution,” a nascent literary movement intended to turn modern sci-fi and fantasy away from a perceived focus on deconstruction and embrace its heritage as a literature of the heroic and wondrous. It also seeks to bring the works of long ignored pulp authors back into the limelight.
I find “Pulp Revolution” a more appealing label than Sad Puppies, if anyone wants to know. (Like that’s going to happen….)
(14) RINGS. I still haven’t forgotten the first film in the series. This is the third.
First you watch it. Then you die. Rings hits theatres Friday!
A new chapter in the beloved RING horror franchise. A young woman becomes worried about her boyfriend when he explores a dark subculture surrounding a mysterious videotape said to kill the watcher seven days after he has viewed it. She sacrifices herself to save her boyfriend and in doing so makes a horrifying discovery: there is a “movie within the movie” that no one has ever seen before…
The film is being promoted by a pranks like this —
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Dave Langford for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Robert Whitaker Sirignano.]
(1) DOGGONE IT. Once upon a time Republicans obeyed the Eleventh Commandment – “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican” – and I thought that Sad Puppies followed the same philosophy until I read J. C. Carlton chastising Kate Paulk in “The Sad Puppies Should Have Done Better” at The Arts Mechanical.
What Happened To The Sad Puppies? In 2015 the Sad Puppies were a presence in SF and in culture in general. In 2016 the Sad Puppies became almost a nonentity. All through the year it was the Rabids that drove the show and that hurt both the Sad Puppies And possibly the future of Sf in the long term.
I think that the problem is that Kate Paulk, when she took over leadership didn’t understand what she was getting herself into. I think that she thought that if she had a more moderate approach that the kind of beating around that the Sad Puppies got in 2015 would be moderated. I’m not sure what led her to believe that, but there was.
Then there was the launch of the Sad Puppies site, the nominations and then, nothing. For months no reviews, no blog entries, nothing. It’s not as if she was off line either. Yet for months she left the stage empty except for the Puppy Kickers and Vox. I’m not sure why but it may be that she was hoping to avoid conflict. Or she just got busy and could not give Sad Puppies the attention it deserved. Yet there weren’t even any blog posts on either the Sad Puppies blog or the Mad Genius Club…..
Essentially as result of inactivity the Puppies left the field to Vox and “Raptor Butt invasion.” Which was funny for a while, but after a while you realize that it’s puppy butt that’s being invaded.
Observant as Carlton is about some things, he’s completely in denial about others.
As far as this goes, the Hugos are dead, The Puppies didn’t kill them, they were dead when Larry started the Puppies. The Hugos were dead because nobody cared anymore.
The Puppies provoked a surge in support for the Hugos – the voter turnout for 2015 was 65% more than it was the previous year. The final statistics showed only a fraction supported Torgersen’s Sad Puppy or Vox Day’s Rabid Puppy slates.
(2) DEFENDING KATE. Amanda S. Green was incensed over Carlton’s post. She penned a scalding response – “Really?” – for Mad Genius Club. (But she follows a common MGC trope of refusing to use the name of the person being held in contempt, referring to Carlton throughout as OP.)
OP then spends time, after saying Kate didn’t give us reviews, etc., quoting others who take issue with her reviews of the Hugo nominees. Kate did more than most who were telling people who to vote for. She read everything in the Hugo packet and gave her honest opinions. But that obviously isn’t enough, especially since OP quotes notoriously anti-puppy sites to back his stance.
Essentially as result of inactivity the Puppies left the field to Vox and “Raptor Butt invasion.” Which was funny for a while, but after a while you realize that it’s puppy butt that’s being invaded.
OMFG. I don’t know whether to beat my head against the wall or the OP’s. That statement is not that much removed from that of the other side telling SPs they had to denounce Vox or it proved we were all cut from the same cloth. One thing those of us closely involved with the Sad Puppy movement learned in 2015 is that there is nothing anyone can do to rein in Vox. We would have had Raptor Butt no matter what. Vox will do what he wants, when he wants and he doesn’t give a flying fuck who he bumps against in the process.
The problem is that if there any desire to keep the Hugo Awards as anything other than a pissing contest between the vilest people in SF, we Puppies failed miserably. The Rapids dominated the noms and the Kickers “No Awarded” every thing in sight, again. Both sides followed by crowing victory, when in fact everybody lost.
See, here is the biggest problem with OP’s post. He thinks that Sad Puppies is about saving the Hugos. It isn’t. I’m not sure it ever was. It was about showing how the Awards have been manipulated and ruled over by a very small group of Fans, folks who don’t want the unwashed masses joining in their little club. The Hugos were effectively dead, at least to most fans, long before Larry started Sad Puppies. It is in its death throes now. Don’t believe it? Look at the rules changes that are being proposed and those that have been passed. Fans with a capital “F” want to to make sure they continue to control the awards. Most real fans aren’t going to pay the price of even an associate membership just to vote. Why should they when they can buy a number of books for the same price?
… Sad Puppies 1 – 3 beautifully pointed out, and proved, the pettiness in Fandom. Sad Puppies 4 continued what Brad started with Sad Puppies 3, the ourtreach to those fans who didn’t understand what was going on. Fans who had been drawn in by the outrageous rhetoric from the other side started looking closer at Sad Puppies when Brad and his family were attacked. They started listening closer when Kate engaged only when she was forced to. So explain how, when Kate reached out and made connections with people how had never before considered backing the Sad Puppies, she failed in her job?
There is more to this battle than whipping out your dick and proving it is bigger than the other guy’s. Kate understood that. We should be thanking her for taking on the job instead of condemning her because she didn’t do “the job” the way someone else wanted her to.
(3) PUPPY SEASON APPROACHING? And in a comment on the previous post, Amanda S. Green predicts we will hear very soon what’s coming next.
George, there will be an announcement about this year’s effort within the next 24 hours, or so I’ve been assured.
(4) I WONDER WHO THEY MEAN. For another example of an MGC columnist refusing to use someone’s name, last week Kate Paulk, in “The Good Kind of Othering”, never mentioned N.K. Jemisin by name but everyone in the comments section knew exactly who she was dissing.
In an attempt to stay well away from the toxic soup of political matters, I’ve spent a lot of time this past week doing Other Stuff. This, I promise you, is a Good Thing, because my snark-o-matic was maxed out and the uber-cynical button stuck in the ‘on’ position.
While I’m quite sure there are those who enjoyed the results, it’s tiring and kind of draining when it lasts long enough: I’m the kind of extreme introvert who needs plenty of down time to recover from bouts of mega-snark.
Which means that I really, really shouldn’t go near the rather sad rant of a certain award-winning author who managed to let slip that she knows she’s a token winner but still thinks that’s okay because those who disagree are ___ist.
(5) EVERYTHING BUT PUPPIES. Once upon a time there was Walt Kelly’s Pogo comic strip. The anthropomorphized animals in the strip inspired Walt Willis and Bob Shaw, assisted by Vince Clarke, Chuck Harris, and James White, to produce a 1952 fanzine called Fen Crittur Comical Books [PDF file] – which is now available online at Fanac.org.
The cast of Fen Critturs includes Pogo Hoffum, Harlan Owl “an organsing genius”, and Birdbury “a vile pro.”
(6) THEY MAKE A DESERT, AND CALL IT A MINISERIES. Frank Herbert’s Dune has been optioned for possible TV and film projects reports Variety.
The agreement calls for the development and production of possible film and TV projects for a global audience. The projects would be produced by Thomas Tull, Mary Parent and Cale Boyter, with Brian Herbert, Byron Merritt and Kim Herbert serving as executive producers.
(7) HINES STARTS FUNDRAISER AUCTIONS. Today Jim C. Hines posted the first of a bunch of SF/F auctions he’s doing as a fundraiser. Going under the hammer are two autographed Star Wars novels from Chuck Wendig.
Welcome to the first of 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions.
Transgender Michigan was founded in 1997, and continues to run one of the only transgender helplines in the country, available 24/7 at 855-345-8464. Every tax-deductible donation helps them continue to provide support, advocacy, and education.
(8) AMAZON’S BEST SFF OF 2016. Now it’s Amazon’s turn to tell you its selections as the best science fiction and fantasy of 2016. Twenty titles, mostly familiar, but including a couple I don’t remember seeing anyone here discuss before.
(9) REFINING YOUR GOLDEN WORDS. Cat Rambo based this post on a day-long workshop she just taught at Clarion West: “For Writers: Re-visioning, Rewriting, and Other Forms of Fine-Tuning Your Fiction”.
Stage II of the Revision Process: You marked all over the printout, making changes and then incorporated them. Here I print out a fresh copy, because unfortunately my process is not particularly eco-conscious.
Now you’re looking at a finer level than the first pass. Stage I was coarse sandpaper; now you’re moving to a finer grade. This is the point where I look hard at paragraphing, splitting up overly long paragraphs, using single sentence paragraphs for an occasional punch, and making sure the first and last paragraph of every scene works, creating a transition that doesn’t allow the reader to escape the story.
I have an unfortunate propensity for scattering scene breaks through my work; this is the place where I remove a lot of them, because I know that every time one occurs, it bumps the reader out of the story and reminds them that they’re reading. I also remove a lot of unnecessary speech tags at this point. I make sure the speaker is identified every third or fourth speech act in two people dialogue so the reader never has to count back in order to figure out who is talking at any point.
I’m also looking at sentence length. Here is an exercise that may be useful: take a page of your prose and go through counting how many words are in each sentence. If they are all around the same length, it creates a sense of monotony. Split things up. Short sentences have punch; long sentences full of polysyllabic words create a languorous, dreamy feel that may be desirable to your narrative yet radically slows things down on the page. (Did you catch what I did there?)
(10) SPACE NEIGHBORS. If E.T. phones your home, Stephen Hawking’s advice is – don’t answer.
Hawking’s comments are motivated by a fear of what the aliens would do to us if they find us. In his mind, the aliens are the Spanish Conquistador Cortez and we are the Aztecs he made contact with in central America.
Tribal warfare, genocide and ethnic cleansing have been part of our history for thousands of years. Hawking’s fear is a fear of what we have done to ourselves.
Would advanced alien civilisations be as barbaric as we are? Are our genocidal tendencies at all representative of advanced alien civilisations? Maybe.
Hawking says he worries that any aliens “will be vastly more powerful and may not see us as any more valuable than we see bacteria”.
(11) PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM. A programming pioneer: “Margaret Hamilton, Apollo Software Engineer, Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom”.
The very first contract NASA issued for the Apollo program (in August 1961) was with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop the guidance and navigation system for the Apollo spacecraft. Hamilton, a computer programmer, would wind up leading the Software Engineering Division of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory (now Draper Labs). Computer science, as we now know it, was just coming into existence at the time. Hamilton led the team that developed the building blocks of software engineering – a term that she coined herself. Her systems approach to the Apollo software development and insistence on rigorous testing was critical to the success of Apollo. As she noted, “There was no second chance. We all knew that.”
Her approach proved itself on July 20, 1969, when minutes before Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the Moon, the software overrode a command to switch the flight computer’s priority system to a radar system. The override was announced by a “1202 alarm” which let everyone know that the guidance computer was shedding less important tasks (like rendezvous radar) to focus on steering the descent engine and providing landing information to the crew. Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the Moon, rather than aborting the approach due to computer problems. In fact, the Apollo guidance software was so robust that no software bugs were found on any crewed Apollo missions, and it was adapted for use in Skylab, the Space Shuttle, and the first digital fly-by-wire systems in aircraft. Hamilton was honored by NASA in 2003, when she was presented a special award recognizing the value of her innovations in the Apollo software development. The award included the largest financial award that NASA had ever presented to any individual up to that point.
Today, Margaret Hamilton is being honored again – this time at the White House. President Obama has selected her as a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The highest civilian award of the United States, it is awarded to those who have made an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
(13) TOM HANKS GOES TO THE WHITE HOUSE…AGAIN. Actor Tom Hanks also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom today. The news reminded John King Tarpinian of a favorite anecdote:
Here is another cute story that is not specifically about Ray but at a Ray event. As you know, if a library called Ray would come, even libraries that did not need financial help. The last time, and I mean very last time, Ray was guest of honor for the Beverly Hills library he basically held court for the rich and famous. Even the docents for the library were people of note.
A table was setup for Ray to chat with people and sign books, most of them personalized. The library had pre-sold books or was given books by patrons who could not attend. A docent would bring out half a dozen books at a time. I’d take the books, open them to the signature page, then pass them to Ray for signing.
Ray’s caregiver was standing on the other side of Ray when the first batch of books were brought out. He looks at the docent and says to him, “Have people ever told you that you look like a younger Tom Hanks?” The response from the docent was, “Yes, I have been told that before.” I have a big grin on my face as he looks over to me and gives an all knowing wink. The docent was Colin Hanks.
This came to mind because Tom Hanks received the Medal of Freedom from the president today.
— EdieOkamoto (@OkamotoEdie) November 23, 2016
— Chris Donovan (@chrisdonovan) November 22, 2016
(14) MY FAVORITE HEADLINE OF THE DAY: “Sith Gets Real: Lucasfilm Releases New ‘Rogue One’ Stills With Clear Look At Darth Vader” — from ScienceFictin.com.
(15) YADA YODA. Gamespot leads us to this clip from Stephen Colbert’s Late Night show — “Carrie Fisher Reveals More (Fake) Star Wars Secrets”:
There were a lot of pranks on set. One time we cut off Mark Hamill’s hand and they decided to keep it in the movie.
[Thanks to Bartimaeus, JJ, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Darrah Chavey, and Daniel Dern for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]