Pixel Scroll 6/15/19 His Scroll Swooned Slowly As He Heard The Pixels Falling Faintly Through The Universe

(1) DUBLIN 2019 DEADLINE. Linda Deneroff, Dublin 2019 WSFS Business Meeting Secretary, broadcast the message that the deadline for submission of new business to this year’s business meeting is fast approaching: July 17. Pass the word to anyone else you believe is considering new business.

(2) TEARS FOR FEARS. The Guardian’s Leo Benedictus has indifferent success getting writers to talk to him about YA “cancel culture” — “Torn apart: the vicious war over young adult books “

Since March, I have been sending discreet messages to authors of young adult fiction. I approached 24 people, in several countries, all writing in English. In total, 15 authors replied, of whom 11 agreed to talk to me, either by email or on the phone. Two subsequently withdrew, in one case following professional advice. Two have received death threats and five would only talk if I concealed their identity. This is not what normally happens when you ask writers for an interview.

… Many of the battles around YA books display the worst features of what is sometimes called “cancel culture”. Tweets condemning anyone who even reads an accused book have been shared widely. I have heard about publishers cancelling or altering books, and asking authors to issue apologies, not because either of them believed they ought to apologise, but because they feared the consequences if they didn’t. Some authors feel that it is risky even to talk in public about this subject. “It’s potentially really serious,” says someone I’ll call Alex. “You could get absolutely mobbed.” So I can’t use your real name? “I would be too nervous to say that with my name to it.” None of the big three UK publishing groups, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins or Hachette, was available for comment.

Another author I will call Chris is white, queer and disabled. Chris has generally found the YA community friendly and supportive during a career spanning several books, but something changed when they announced plans for a novel about a character from another culture. Later, Chris would discover that an angry post about the book had appeared anonymously on Tumblr, directing others to their website. At the time, Chris only knew that their blog and email were being flooded with up to 100 abusive messages a day.

(3) DEFINING MOMENT. Ellen B. Wright reignites a traditional debate, in the process collecting a lot of entertaining answers. Thread stars here.

(4) SHORT FILM Exclusive premiere of “After Her” starring Stranger Things’s Natalia Dyer.

One night, a teenage girl disappears without a trace. Years later, her friend returns home and finds himself being beckoned back into those woods – the last place she was seen alive. An atmospheric sci-fi about the archetypal lost girl.

Director’s Statement: I was interested in making a short that confronts the perversion of the “missing girl story” in both film and in reality. I wanted to create something meditative and personal with a small group of collaborators; I shot most of the film myself, including the VFX, which were hand done in my parents’ basement. I’m from Rhode Island and grew up reading Lovecraft, and was incredibly inspired by his worlds, his characters, and their maddening search for the bigger picture, the great answers. As Callum searches for Haley, the alluring missing girl of his past, his expectations get challenged. His journey spans fertile woods, deep caves, and fallopian tunnels. He grows to realize that he is a passenger, not a pioneer, while she is the leader, not the victim.

(5) REDRUMOR. I don’t think I’m ready to face this at the breakfast table — Funko’s Pennywise cereal with pocket pop.

Thought you had seen it all from Funko? Well think again. Introducing FunkO’s, the new collectible cereal from the pop culture wizards at Funko. Each box comes with a Pocket Pop!

This IT Pennywise box of FunkO’s comes with a Pennywise Pocket Pop!, and the red, multigrain cereal is bound to wow you at breakfast time. That’s if you decide to eat it and not keep it intact with your Funko collection! Grab a box today and make your Saturday mornings fun again.

(6) OGAWA OBIT. Publisher Haikasoru announced the death of a well-known sff translator:

Takashi Ogawa, an English-Japanese translator, editor and educator in translation, who introduced Western SF to Japan since 1980’s. He translated many of Bruce Sterling’s titles including Schismatrix and Islands in the Net.

Ogawa’s translation of Bruce Sterling’s “Taklamakan” won the Foreign Short Story category of Japanese prozine Hayakawa’s S-F Magazine Reader’s Award in 1999.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • June 15, 1955The Beast With A Million Eyes debuted at drive-ins.
  • June 15, 1973The Battle for the Planet of the Apes premiered.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 15, 1939 Brian Jacques. British author who surprisingly is not on the ISFDB list today. Writer of the exceedingly popular Redwall series of novels and also the Castaways of the Flying Dutchman series. And he wrote two collections of Alan Garner style fiction, Seven Strange and Ghostly Tales and The Ribbajack & Other Curious Yarns. Only the Redwall series is available in digital format on either platform. (Died 2011.)
  • Born June 15, 1941 Neal Adams, 78. Comic book artist who worked for both DC and Marvel. Among his achievements was the creation with writer Dennis O’Neil of Ra’s al Ghul. I’m a DC fan so I can’t speak for his work on Marvel but he did amazing work on Deadman, BatmanGreen Lantern and Green Arrow. All of this work is now available on the DC Universe app.  It should be noted he lead the lobbying efforts that resulted in Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster receiving long overdue overdue credit and financial remuneration from DC.
  • Born June 15, 1942 Sondra Marshak, 77. Author of multiple Trek novels including The Price of the Phoenix and The Fate of the Phoenix, both co-written with Myrna Culbreath. She also wrote, again with Myrna Culbreath, Shatner: Where No Man …: The Authorized Biography of William Shatner which of course naturally lists Shatner as the third co-author.
  • Born June 15, 1947 David S Garnett, 72. Not to be confused with the David Garnett without an S. Author of the Bikini Planet novels which should be taken as seriously as the name suggests. Revived with the blessing of Michael Moorcock a new version of New Worlds as an anthology this time. Last work was writing Warhammer novels.
  • Born June 15, 1960 Sabrina Vourvoulias, 59. Thai-born author, an American citizen from birth brought up in Guatemala, but here since her teens. Her novel, Ink, deals with immigrants who are tattooed with biometric implants that are used to keep track of them no matter where they are. I’m assuming that the “Skin in the Game” story which appeared first on Tor.com is set in the future. Fair guess that “The Ways of Walls and Words” which also appeared on Tor.com is also set there. The Readercon 25 panel she was on, “East, West and Everything Between: A Roundtable on Latin@ Speculative Fiction” is available for free on iBooks is is all of her fiction. 
  • Born June 15, 1963 Mark Morris, 55. Horror writer who’s also written a number of Dr. Who works, both novels and audiobooks. I’d single out his Torchwood full-cast audiowork Bay of the Dead as being quite chilling. He also edited Cinema Macabre where folks such as Jo Fletcher and Simon Pegg discuss their favorite films which won the prestigious British Fantasy Award. 
  • Born June 15, 1973 Neil Patrick Harris, 46. His first genre role was not Carl Jenkins in Starships Troopers, but rather Billy Johnson in Purple People Eater, an SF comedy best forgotten, I suspect. Post-Starship Troopers, I’ve got him voicing Barry Allen / The Flash in Justice League: The New Frontier and Dick Grayson / Nightwing in Batman: Under the Red Hood. He also voiced Peter Parker and her superhero alias in Spider-Man: The New Animated Series. Finally, he’s currently Count Olaf in A Series of Unfortunate Events which he also produces. 

(9) COMMENTS ON TRANSLATING SFF. In 2014, the SCBWI Japan Translation Group ran this interesting Q&A with Yoshio Kobayashi (who has been to more than one North American Worldcon.)

How did you come to be involved in the project? What approach do you take with the translating and editing of each book?

I’ve translated novels and stories from English for more than thirty years. I’ve also written book reviews of Japanese novels in English, and I frequently discuss SF at World Science Fiction Conventions. I’ve also helped shepherd some stories to be translated into English. I write my blog in English, too. So they asked me to do the job. My experience of book editing was appreciated as well.

…What advice can you give to translators wishing to develop their literary translation skills?

Read. A lot. At the least, you have to read 500 novels to be confident of your reading ability. I used to read ten novels a month before I decided to be a translator. When I started my career, I had read more than 1,000 novels in English from every genre. I teach translation at a translators’ school and I always tell my students to read. When you have read 500 novels you start to understand an author’s style, what euphemism is and how the author uses metaphor. A lot of translators misunderstand that. You have to read contemporary US/UK novels too, in order to understand the modern usage of English and current trends. Then to translate modern Japanese novels, you need to be able to grasp contemporary vocabulary. I still read about ten titles a month, although now it’s a combined number. I have read ten American novels and five Japanese novels a month for twenty years. So read! And trust the authors. You don’t have to orchestrate the work. Authors write everything that is needed to be described. The rest should be given to the reader’s imagination. Reading is an ability that is developed through reading, so it’s better to help our readers expand that ability. You shouldn’t intervene by explaining too much.

(10) A HOLE NEW ARTFORM. Art Daily remarks on a science-meets-art subject in “Art of early man found in the greatest meteor crater on earth.”

Leading South African scientists from the University of the Free State are about to undertake research into the destruction caused by a huge ancient meteorite that could hold clues critical to the history, mechanisms and consequences of meteorite strikes on earth and elsewhere in the Solar System. The results of this work could mean a better understanding of the effects of such impacts and the greater safety of the earth. 

The vast crater is also fascinating for its human interest from early man who used it as a centre of cultural importance and left rock carvings as proof of their presence. The site was of great spiritual significance, comparable to the stone circles of Stonehenge in the UK. The Khoi-San patently understood that the rock remains found on the surface were unique and important. 

(11) UNGIFTED STUDENT. The Verge reviews a new book: “Magic for Liars blends magic school with a murder mystery.” The article’s tagline is, “Sarah Gailey’s full length debut is a unique spin on the genre.”

Magic school clashes with a murder mystery in Magic for Liars, the debut novel from Sarah Gailey, best known for their American Hippo short stories — but with one key twist. 

That’s because while the school and the murder may be magical, Ivy Gamble, the investigator hired to solve the case, is completely ordinary. Unable to sling a spell or cast a charm, she’s a far more relatable character than most other magical detectives that dot the literary landscape.

(12) MINORITY REPORT. USA Today likes a new movie, at least more than a number of reviewers (“’Men in Black: International’ burning questions: Where the heck is Will Smith?”).

Producers didn’t even seek out Smith and Jones for cameo appearances.

“They both loom so large, it didn’t feel right,” MacDonald said. “It seemed like it might be that taste that made you think, ‘Why aren’t they here?’ ” 

However, if you look carefully at Agent High T’s (Liam Neeson) office, there are pictures of both agents in the background.

(13) D&D&TV. Do they have enough hit points? Inverse (“At D&D Live, Wizards of the Coast Rolls the Dice on the Future”) says “Hundreds gathered at the Los Angeles event to celebrate a 45-year-old tabletop game. It’s ground zero for what’s in store for the next four and a half decades.”

Inside an air-conditioned TV studio in Hollywood, a colossal stone castle looms large surrounded by blooming hellfire. Sleek black leather chairs, the kind often found in a Wall Street meeting room, sit behind a long oak table beneath dynamic lights and high-definition cameras on 15-foot cranes. This is hell, and the cameras will go live tomorrow.

Over the next three days, a few hundred people — and a million more tuning in at home — will come in and out to watch celebrities and online personalities play Dungeons & Dragons. This is D&D Live, an annual celebration of the 45-year-old tabletop role-playing game where the newest of new media revere a game still best played with pencils, paper, dice, and friends.

(14) MORE FERTILE THAN WILEY. According to NPR, “Killing Coyotes Is Not As Effective As Once Thought, Researchers Say”.

In a rugged canyon in southern Wyoming, a helicopter drops nets over a pair of coyotes. They’re bound, blindfolded and flown to a landing station. There, University of Wyoming researchers place them on a mat. The animals stay calm and still while technicians figure out their weight, age, sex and other measurements. Graduate student Katey Huggler fits the coyotes with tracking collars.

“What really is most important to us is that GPS data,” says Huggler, who’s the lead on this project. What that data has been showing is, boy, do coyotes roam. Huggler is amazed at one young female that wandered long distances.

“It was like 110 miles as the crow flies, turned around, came back three days later,” she says. “[Coyotes] are moving fast, but they’re also moving really far.”

Huggler says all that roaming changes during the short window when mule deer fawns are born, showing that coyotes are indeed targeting them. Mule deer populations around the West are down — 31% since 1991 — and some people blame coyotes. It stands to reason that killing some coyotes could help improve mule deer numbers, but University of Wyoming wildlife professor Kevin Monteith points out if you wipe out a pack of coyotes, it leaves a hole in the habitat, and nature dislikes a vacuum.

The federal government kills thousands of coyotes every year to keep them from preying on livestock and big game. But some wildlife biologists say killing coyotes isn’t actually the best way to control them.

“The next day you just have an exchange of animals that come right back in and fill that place,” Monteith says.

In fact, some studies show that if you kill off a lot of coyotes, they breed even more.

(15) READING LIST. “As The 50th Anniversary Of Apollo 11 Nears, New Books Highlight The Mission’s Legacy”.

The countdown has begun. It’s T-minus a month or so until the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 — and humanity’s first and famous steps on another world.

In appreciation of that achievement, and the five-decade milestone, a flotilla of books has also been launched exploring Apollo’s story and raising questions about its ultimate legacy. Surveying just a few of these works, it quickly becomes apparent how singular America’s achievement was with Apollo. Even more pressing, however, is how these books show that — half a century later — we’re still grappling to understand its long-term meaning for our nation and the world.

(16) YOUR LUNAR MT. TSUNDOKU. The Verge’s Andrew Liptak precedes his preview of new genre books — “11 new science fiction and fantasy books to check out in late June” – with recommendations for reading about the Moon program.

With the 50th anniversary of the lunar landings coming up next month, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the vast canon of Apollo histories that are out there. There has been of ink spilled in the last five decades exploring every detail of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions, and there are more on the way.

A handful of works stand out in the history of spaceflight literature. The first is a pair of books authored by Francis French and Colin Burgess: Into that Silent Sea, about NASA’s work leading up to Apollo, and In the Shadow of the Moon, about the Apollo program up to Apollo 11. They’re part of the University of Nebraska Press’s fantastic Outward Odyssey series, and provide an accessible, in-depth look at how the US reached the moon.

Another essential book is Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo by Nicholas de Monxhau. If you’ve ever wondered what goes into designing a space suit (and if you haven’t watched my colleague Loren Grush’s Space Craft series), it’s an exhaustive history into how a company known for making bras and girdles developed the iconic suits worn on the moon. It explores how the space suits were made and provides a unique look into the history of spaceflight.

(17) COOL. “Bald Eagle Caught Elegantly … Swimming?” (video).

Bald eagles are typically known for their elegant flying, skilled hunting and having such majestic strength and beauty that they became the U.S. national bird. But they also possess a lesser-known talent: swimming.

Yes, bald eagles are really good at swimming, a fact some of us learned this week from a viral video published by New Hampshire TV station WMUR.

(18) WHO’S ON FIRST? Camestros Felapton has more to say about the nominees, and about the rationale for evaluating them in “Hugo 2019 – Looking at Fanwriters Part 2”.

One approach to ranking a set of fanwriters for the Hugo Awards might be to pick the example in the packet for each writer that you thought was the best example of their work and then rank each of those exemplars against each other. I think if I did that, I’d probably put Alasdair Stuart or Foz Meadows highest. But…it doesn’t feel right as a way of evaluating the finalists systematically*.

It fails in a couple of ways:

  • Reviews: longer critical essays or essays with personal insights will on a piece-by-piece comparison win out when judging writing. A good functional review will adopt a more ‘objective’ style of informative writing, which is technically hard to do but whose qualities are less obvious.
  • Broader aspects of fan writing: Elsa Sjunneson-Henry included a link to a Twitter thread in her packet contribution and it is a good example of how fanwriting also includes commentary in formats other than essays. Compiling news, parodies, event comments on other sites are part of the mix.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/1/19 Nie Mój Scroll, Nie Moje Pixels.

(1) SECOND CARR COLLECTION IS A FREE READ. David Langford has released the Terry Carr collection Fandom Harvest II at the TAFF website. Download it free – and please consider making a donation to the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund as thanks.  

Complementing the 1986 Fandom Harvest and even longer, this further selection of Terry Carr’s fine fanwriting was assembled by David Langford with much help from others and released as an Ansible Editions ebook for the TAFF site on 1 June 2019. Cover art by Steve Stiles from The Incompleat Terry Carr (1988 edition). Over 118,000 words.

With thanks to Carol Carr for her permission and encouragement to produce this new ebook. (For the many further credits, see within.)

Langford spotlights his selections in the Introduction:

Of the above, Fandom Harvest was the first choice for a TAFF ebook since it’s not only the largest by far of these collections but was published as a printed hardback that was relatively easy to convert to digital text. The next logical step seemed initially to be an ebook of The Incompleat Terry Carr, but unfortunately there’s considerable overlap between this collection and Fandom Harvest. After removing duplications (“Trufan’s Blood”, the “Fandom Harvest” column selections, “The Fastest Ham in the West” and “Confessions of a Literary Midwife”), what remained of The Incompleat Terry Carr was an unsatisfactorily slim volume. This has been augmented with the fannish items reprinted in Between Two Worlds, the four best pieces from The Portable Carl Brandon, and many more notable articles, columns, editorials and stories not previously included in any Terry Carr collection. Ranging from 1955 to 1987, it’s a great read throughout.

And I appreciate Dave sending me the scoop in advance of the Monday edition of Ansible!

(2) UK GAMES EXPO ENFORCES CODE OF CONDUCT. Sexual violence in an RPG scenario hosted by a volunteer violated UK Games Expo’s code of conduct. The committee took action, explained in “An official statement”.

It was brought to our attention that in an RPG game on Friday afternoon a GM volunteer included content that was completely unacceptable and breached both the letter and spirit of the UK Games Expo.  The scenario included descriptions of sexual violence involving the players.  The players were understandably distressed and shocked by this content.

This content was not set out in the game description.  If it had been included in the submission it would have been rejected as unacceptable even for a game with an 18 rating. All games must still comply with the policies and the spirit of UKGE.

We have spoken personally to the player who first raised the issue and have unreservedly apologized for the distress caused. We are currently contacting the other players so we can offer them our apologies and any assistance they might need. We have made it clear that this kind of behavior and content has no place at UKGE and will not be accepted.

We immediately halted the game the GM was currently running and cancelled all of the games he was due to run.

The GM has been ejected from the show and will not be allowed access to any of the NEC halls or Hilton function rooms that are under the control of UK Games Expo.

He has also been banned from submitting any games for the foreseeable future…

(3) TRIMBLE NEWS. Bjo and John Trimble have closed their Ancient Earth Pigments business: “Saying Goodbye – Shop Closing May 30”.

After a year of illness and other personal hassles, we’ve decided to retire from the pigment business.

This was a painful but necessary decision.

What we’ll do next is still up in the air while John recovers from a seizure and hospital stay.

We may try to sell the whole business. Or sell it off piecemeal.

(4) HE BLINDED ME WITHOUT SCIENCE. James Davis Nicoll’s headline “Better Science Fiction Through Actual Science” at Tor.com seems to promise something — can he deliver? Well, no, so it’s fortunate he has another goal in mind anyway…

Science fiction purports to be based on science. I hate to tell you this, but a lot of SF is as close to science and math as Taco Bell is to authentic Mexican cuisine.

I revelled and still revel in mass ratios and scale heights, albedos and exhaust velocities, evolutionary biology and world history. (I’m not the only one. Big wave to my homies out there.) So…as much as I love SF, I’m constantly running head-on into settings that could just not work the way the author imagines. My SOD (suspension of disbelief) is motoring along merrily and suddenly, bang! Dead in its tracks. Perhaps you can understand now why so many of my reviews grumble about worldbuilding….

(5) CINEMA CRUDITE. At Fast Company, Patrick J. Sauer documents how “Luxury cinemas are fighting Netflix with steak tartare, expensive booze, and gourmet popcorn”.

Nothing pairs better with a cold rainy Sunday and a warm baby Loxodonta quite like a Rockaway Nitro Black Gold Stout. About one-third of the way through Tim Burton’s Dumbo, I ordered a second, and as it was delivered to me in the dark, I was struck by the scene where V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton)–evil, conniving moneybags and Dreamland amusement park owner–explains to the scrappy, DIY road circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) that of course he should bring his entire operation, airborne pachyderm included, into his opulent fold. Why? Because the future of entertainment is bringing the people to you, not the other way around.

Sipping Dumbo suds at Alamo Drafthouse in Downtown Brooklyn, I couldn’t have agreed more, and as attested by the typical full house, I was not alone….

(6) WOMEN IN ANIMATION. In “A Storyteller’s Animated Journey”, Beloit College Magazine’s Kiernyn Orne-Adams profiles Lynne Southerland, whose career in animation includes directing Cinderella and the Secret Prince and producing several episodes of Monster High and Happily Ever After.

…After Disney, Southerland moved on to Mattel to help develop shows for two of their toy lines: Enchantimals and Monster High. As a showrunner, Southerland was able to expand on those worlds while placing female characters—and their close friendships—at the center. She particularly enjoyed working on Monster High because of the opportunity to create more complex teenage characters, and she eventually developed the idea for Adventures of the Ghoul Squad, a miniseries in which the main friends—all children of famous monsters—travel the world to help others and solve mysteries….

(7) CASTING COWL. Rachel Bloom, of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and “F*ck Me Ray Bradbury” fame, voices Batgirl in the recently released animated video Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Batman, Batgirl and Robin forge an alliance with The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to fight against the Turtles’ sworn enemy, The Shredder, who has teamed up with Ra’s Al Ghul and The League Of Assassins.

(8) ETCHISON TRIBUTE. Horror Writers of America President Lisa Morton, in “A Few Words About Dennis Etchison”, tells about her decades of friendship with the renowned author.

…I attended my first World Fantasy Con in 1993, in Minneapolis. Dennis met me almost as soon as I arrived, and started introducing me to everyone. One of the editors I met there – Stephen Jones – would buy my first short story a year later, and go on to become the editor I’ve worked with the most.

That convention was an amazing experience. I rented a car and became Dennis’s driver for a few days. At the time Dennis was embroiled in a feud with Harlan Ellison, and I still laugh when I think of him telling me that he’d put any five of his stories up against any five of Harlan’s stories (Dennis was also a wrestling fanatic, which made this even more amusing). I drove Dennis to a signing at the massive Mall of America; no one came to the signing, so Dennis, Poppy Z. Brite, and Melanie Tem read their stories to each other while I listened in….

(9) KINSTLER OBIT. Artist Everett Raymond Kinstler died May 28 – the New York Times obituary covers his beginnings as well as his years of celebrity:“Everett Raymond Kinstler, Prolific Portraitist, Dies at 92”.

…After serving at Fort Dix in New Jersey from 1944 to 1946, he returned to the comic-book business. He did a lot of work for Avon Comics, he said, because unlike some other imprints it allowed artists to sign their work. (Early in his career he used the name “Everett Raymond” for brevity’s sake, though he eventually switched to his full name.)…

As part of its Distinguished Illustrators Series, Norman Rockwell Museum exhibited “Everett Raymond Kinstler: Pulps to Portraits,” in 2012.

Highly-regarded as a prominent American portraitist, Everett Raymond Kinstler began his career as a comic book artist and illustrator working for the popular publications of his day. The artist’s original illustrations and portraits of noted celebrities—from Katharine Hepburn, Tony Bennett, and Tom Wolfe to artists James Montgomery Flagg, Alexander Calder, and Will Barnet [was] on view in a lively installation that explores the process of capturing likenesses of his subjects for posterity.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • June 1, 1955This Island Earth premiered.
  • June 1, 1984 Star Trek III: The Search for Spock could be found in theaters.
  • June 1, 1990 Total Recall made its memorable debut.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 1, 1874 Pierre Souvestre. He was a journalist, writer and avid promoter of motor races. He’s remembered today for his co-creation with Marcel Allain of the master criminal Fantômas. The character was also the basis of various film, television, and comic book adaptations. Some of these could be considered genre. (Died 1914.)
  • Born June 1, 1937 Morgan Freeman, 82. Lucius Fox in The Dark Knight trilogy and less notably Azeem in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (and yes I saw it). He’s God in Bruce Almighty as he is in the sequel, Evan Almighty.  And he played the President in Deep Impact.
  • Born June 1, 1940 René Auberjonois, 79. Odo on DS9. He’s shown up on a number of genre productions including Wonder Woman, The Outer Limits, Night GalleryThe Bionic Woman, Batman Forever, King Kong, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered CountryEnterprise, Stargate SG-1 andWarehouse 13. He’s lent both his voice and likeness to gaming in recent years, and has done voice work for the animated Green Lantern and Justice League series.
  • Born June 1, 1947 Jonathan Pryce, 72. I remember him best as the unnamed bureaucrat in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. He’s had a long career in genre works including Brazil, Something Wicked This Way Comes as Mr. Dark himself, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End as Governor Weatherby Swann, The Brothers Grimm, in the G.I. Joe films as the U.S. President and most recently in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote as Don Quixote. 
  • Born June 1, 1950 Michael McDowell. Screenwriter and novelist whose most well-known work is the screenplay for Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice. He also did work on Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas though he’s not listed as the scriptwriter. He wrote eleven scripts for Tales from the Darkside, more than anyone else. And he wrote a lot of horror which Stephen King likes quite a bit. (Died 1999.)
  • Born June 1, 1966 David Dean Oberhelman. Mike has an an appreciation of him hereThe Intersection of Fantasy and Native America: From H.P. Lovecraft to Leslie Marmon Silko which he co-wrote with Amy H. Sturgis was published by The Mythopoeic Press. ISFDB lists just one genre essay by him, “From Iberian to Ibran and Catholic to Quintarian”, printed in Lois McMaster Bujold: Essays on a Modern Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy. (Died 2018.)
  • Born June 1, 1973 C. E. Murphy, 46. Her Urban Shaman series was one of the best such series I’ve read in recent years. She had The Walker Papers – Alternative Views which used other characters as viewpoint narrators but none appealed to me alas as much as Joanne Walker, her primary character. 
  • Born June 1, 1996 Tom Holland, 23. He’s known for playing Spider-Man in five films: Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and the forthcoming Spider-Man: Far From Home

(12) PUNCHLINE CREATOR. At Kalimac’s Corner, DB digs up more info about award-winning comics writer E. Nelson Bridwell, ending with perhaps his most widely-known contribution to pop culture: “this is the joke”.

…Evanier’s announcement credits Bridwell with co-creating a comic called The Inferior Five, which I’d never heard of either. A quick visit to its Wikipedia page proves that it’s exactly what it sounds like, a sort of precursor to Mystery Men, a rare case of a superhero movie I rather liked. So I might enjoy The Inferior Five as well, especially as Evanier says that Bridwell’s “writing was marked by a wicked sense of humor.”…

(13) THE LAST TIME THE WORLD ENDED. Steven Heller goes retro in “Outer Space and Inner Peace” at Print.

In 1951, astronomer Kenneth Heuer, author in 1953 of The End of the World, wrote Men of Other Planets (Pellegrini & Cudahy, NYC) where he speculates on the kinds of humanoid life that was possible on the other planets, moons and asteroids of outer space. In those days thousands of people were actually trying to book passage on space ships. With jet propulsion and atomic fuel bringing space travel into realms of possibility, the mysteries of flying saucers, possible invasions of the earth from another worlds were closer to reality and yesterday’s science fiction was moving into tomorrow’s news.

The full-page scratch board illustration by R.T. Crane adds both a science fact and fictional aura to the quirky propositions in this book…

(14) D&D MENTORING. James Alan Gardner shares some “Idle Thoughts on Role-Playing”.

(Spoiler alert: even though it’s called Dungeons & Dragons, beginning level characters should not try to slay a dragon. They will fail. However, I have a policy with brand new players: I promise that their characters won’t die in the first three sessions. If they really do try to slay a dragon, the dragon may just beat them up, take all their stuff, and leave them naked outside the nearest town. Or more likely, the dragon will singe them a bit, then say, “Okay, if you don’t want to die, you have to agree to run an errand for me…”)

(15) KIRK IN THE BEGINNING. Rich Horton revisits the dominant fan artist of the early Seventies: “The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The 1973 Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist: Tim Kirk” at Black Gate.

It would be fair to say that for me, coming into contact with fandom in this period, my image of “fan art” was formed by Tim Kirk’s work, along with two more artists who won for their 1970s work, William Rotsler and Alexis A. Gilliland.

(16) WALK THIS WAY. The New York Post’s 2013 profile of the band contains a previously unsuspected (by me) bit of sff trivia: “First KISS”.

…Simmons then modeled his demon walk after a serpentine, loping-gaited martian named Ymir that stop-motion effects master Ray Harryhausen designed for the 1957 science fiction film “20 Million Miles to Earth.”

“I realized I couldn’t copy the movements of Mick Jagger or the Beatles because I didn’t have a little boy’s body,” Simmons says. “But I could be a monster.”

(17) THERE IS ANOTHER. Besides the lunar-landing prize – BBC tells how “GEBCO-NF Alumni robots win ocean-mapping XPRIZE”.

A robotic boat and submersible have won the XPRIZE to find the best new technologies to map the seafloor.

The surface and underwater combo demonstrated their capabilities in a timed test in the Mediterranean, surveying depths down to 4km.

Put together by the international GEBCO-NF Alumni team, the autonomous duo are likely now to play a role in meeting the “Seabed 2030” challenge.

This aims to have Earth’s ocean floor fully mapped to a high standard.

Currently, only 20% of the world’s sub-surface topography has been resolved to an acceptable level of accuracy.

(18) OCTOBER SKY REDUX. “Students attempt to launch self-built rocket”.

Look up into the sky and it’s hard to imagine where the Earth’s atmosphere ends and outer space begins.

Commonly referred to as the Karman line, that imaginary border is 62 miles (100km) away and on Friday a group of students from across the US and Canada are hoping to send an unmanned rocket through it.

It’s the brainchild of 19-year-old rocket-obsessed North Carolina University student Joshua Farahzad, who said he came up with the idea during his “boring” summer vacation last year.

“I was always fascinated with space, I built a small rocket in high school after watching a movie called October Sky, and thought to myself how one day I’d like to build a bigger one,” he said.

…Without the help of a large financial backer, engineering professionals, or teachers, Operation Space began collaborating on the project remotely from their various locations across the US and Canada, using a Slack message channel, video chats and phone calls.

Operation Space is not the only group of students to build and launch spacecraft. Last month, students from the University of Southern California (USC) successfully sent their Traveler IV rocket across the Karman line.

While he’s full of praise for them, Joshua said his team is unique. “USC is cool but we are different because we are doing this all remotely with no university help,” he explained.

(19) COMING TO AMERICA. Pieces in our time: “This Lego-Themed Pop-Up Bar Is Made From 1,000,000 Building Blocks”.

A Lego-themed pop-up is coming to six U.S. cities this summer. The Brick Bar, which is not technically affiliated with the brand btw, is built with over 1 million blocks and will debut in NYC June 19.

The bar opened its first temporary location in London back in January 2018, and the “nostalgia trip” was an instant hit. Now the concept is expanding to a number of North American cities including New York, L.A., Miami, Houston, Cincinnati, and Denver. It will also hit Toronto and Vancouver in July.

“The bar will feature sculptures made completely from building blocks as well as an abundance of blocks for people to shape into their own creations. There will also be local DJ’s spinning tunes all day,” the website says. “We will have an Instagram worthy menu as well including a Brick Burger and Cocktails!

(20) A FORK IN THE ROAD. Compelling Science Fiction Issue #13 is available for purchase. Beginning with this issue, says publisher Joe STech, the magazine no longer posts its contents free online.

We start with LA Staley’s “Steps in the Other Room”. An elderly woman reports that her husband has been kidnapped. This seems difficult, since he has been dead for many years (2040 words). Our second story is “Sasha Red” by Tyler A. Young. In it, a woman fights to rescue refugees from Mars (6100 words). The third story this issue, Mark Parlette-Cariño’s “Bodybit,” is a story about the social effects of a fitness device that tracks sexual performance (4630 words). Next we have “What We Remember” by Mark Salzwedel. This one is first-contact story about a telepathic fungus (2800 words). Our fifth story is “Love and Brooding” by M. J. Pettit. Inspired by mouth-brooding tilapia, this story explores a very alien life cycle (5000 words). Our final story is “Steadies” by returning author Robert Dawson. A doctor is conflicted when she decides to prescribe her husband an anti-cholesterol drug that has also recently been found to strengthen relationships (3400 words).

(21) SYKES ADMIRATION SOCIETY. Nerds of a Feather’s Brian calls this books “the best kind of big mess.” “Microreview [book]: Seven Blades in Black by Sam Sykes”.

…This novel is an exercise in trusting an author. When it starts like another novel I didn’t like, it proved me wrong to misjudge it. When it doesn’t explain its setting or history from the start, it respected my patience by giving me enough to keep going and eventually answering my questions…

(22) OPENING THE WAY. Paul Weimer considers where this tale leads: “Microreview [book]: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow” at Nerds of a Feather.

…The novel is a rather slippery fantasy to try and get a hold of. Is it a Portal fantasy, as the back matter and the title suggests? Yes, and no, the Portal aspects of the fantasy are not the central theme. Is it a coming of age story, of a young woman coming into herself? Yes, but there is much more going on with theme, history, theory and thought on it. The book is, however, a fantasy about the power of stories, and where stories come from, and how stories, for good, and bad, accurately and inaccurately, shape us and mold us, and make us what we are–and sometimes, if we find the right story, what we want and need to be…

(23) RETRO REVIEWS. Steve J. Wright has completed his Retro-Hugo novella finalist reviews:

Novella

(24) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Albatross Soup on Vimeo, Winnie Cheung solves the riddle of why a guy killed himself after having a bowl of albatross soup in a restaurant.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/21/19 A Scroll Without A Pixel Is Like A Walrus Without An Antenna

(1) LITERARY DIVE. Juliette Wade and her Dive Into Worldbuilding team interview “Caroline Ratajski”. There’s a detailed synopsis you can read at the link, and a video recording you can see on YouTube.

…We asked how writing a chapter every two weeks for an audience affects her writing process. It does put certain limits on her. She can’t revise anything that came before. She needs to give events a runway, wants to avoid writing a specific year when events occurred, etc. She has an outline, and she has an outline of how the characters should interact and grow over time. She also has a sense of how she wants the garden to develop, and what she wants the climax to look like.

Carrie [Caroline] described this as the “fanfic model of writing.” She used to write fanfic, so it works for her. The response of the audience buoys her. She says this has all the advantages of fanfic, and also The Secret Garden is out of copyright, so that saves a lot of trouble. Patreon is a good vehicle for serial storytelling. Carrie said she wasn’t reinventing anything. The original book was also a serial that was collected into a book. Carrie explained that she is not echoing the chapter structure, but following the narrative beats pretty closely. Lennox does meet her cousin in secret. She does have a somewhat combative relationship with her maid, though in the retelling, the maid is not Dickon’s sister.

(2) PRE-WEDDING ALBUM. Kurt Erichsen, 2002 Rotsler Award winner, has published a collection of his strips in Murphy’s Manor – the 30-Year Wedding.

Of all the cartoon projects I’ve drawn, by far the biggest is my LGBT comic strip, Murphy’s Manor. It was syndicated in local Gay and Lesbian newspapers from 1981 to 2008 – 1,183 comic strips total.

I’m happy to announce a new collection of Murphy’s Manor comic strips in a self-pub book, distributed through Amazon. The title is Murphy’s Manor – the 30-Year Wedding. It includes cartoons about gay relationships, ultimately leading to marriage, with or without approval of the government. All told, there are 120 comic strips: 98 from the strip’s original run, and 22 new ones. Front and back covers are in color; the interior comic strips are black and white.

In 2015 when John and I were able to get married legally, I decided to proceed with the book. It was slow going – can you believe it took me nearly 4 years to put it together?? Most of which was in production of the new cartoons. I used to produce 4 strips a month!

Click on this link: Murphy’s Manor – the 30 Year Wedding. I am also working on an eBook (Kindle) version. This is a new format for me, and working out all the kinks could take a bit of time. Hopefully not another four years.

(3) TINTINNABULATION. Open Culture reveals“How Andy Warhol and Tintin Creator Hergé Mutually Admired and Influenced One Another”. Bet you didn’t know about that.

The field of Tintin enthusiasts (in their most dedicated form, “Tintinologists”) includes some of the best-known modern artists in history. Roy Lichtenstein, he of the zoomed-in comic-book aesthetic, once made Tintin his subject, and Tintin’s creator Hergé, who cultivated a love for modern art from the 1960s onward, hung a suite of Lichtenstein prints in his office. As Andy Warhol once put it, “Hergé has influenced my work in the same way as Walt Disney. For me, Hergé was more than a comic strip artist.” And for Hergé, Warhol seems to have been more than a fashionable American painter: in 1979, Hergé commissioned Warhol to paint his portrait, and Warhol came up with a series of four images in a style reminiscent of the one he’d used to paint Jackie Onassis and Marilyn Monroe.

(4) <ROLLEYES>. Dear Simon & Schuster, There is no such thing as a Hugo Award for Best New Writer.

(5) PULP BOWIE. “Artist Reimagines David Bowie Songs as Old Pulp Fiction Book Covers” at My Modern Met.

When LA-based screenwriter Todd Alcott isn’t writing for feature films, he’s working on his artistic side project. He merges his love of pulp fiction with music to create David Bowie-inspired vintage comic book covers.

Alcott uses pre-existing vintage paperbacks as his starting point, before digitally altering the text and parts of the image to create his mashup prints. These once loved, now tattered and worn books have been given a new lease on life, and Alcott has chosen no better subject to grace their covers than the equally beloved Starman. And best of all, Bowie’s fascination with sci-fi, his outlandish fashion, and his love of the antihero make him a natural fit as a graphic novel protagonist.

(6) A COMING OF AGE STORY. Middle age, that is. Past TAFF winner Jim Mowatt’s confession begins —

My wife often teases me about my being associated (married) with a woman who has attended an Oxbridge institution, is the daughter of a civil servant and eats avocado. A fruit that has become so closely associated with privileged millennials. To provide his wife with the foodstuffs she desires, working class Jim from Leeds has to creep into a supermarket, buy an avocado and escape from the store without been seen in the possession of this pompous fruit.

However, I now wonder whether I am reaching the stage where I must embrace the fact that I’m no longer Jim from the block and that I have reached that rather unnerving state of being that enables me to buy ridiculous fruit, not always worry about the price of things and enjoy gentle middle England humour. It’s a terrifying thought but maybe I should just relax and drown in the crocheted gentility of it all.

(7) D&D. In “How Dungeons & Dragons somehow became more popular than ever”, Washington Post writer Gendy Alimurung discusses how Dungeons and Dragons has evolved to attract Millennials, including finding other players through Meetup groups, and having the fifth edition of the D&D manual in 2014 attract more women by being less sexist (women’s strength is no longer always less than men’s and no “sexist artwork–no more armored bikinis, no more monsters with breasts, no more topless ladies (unless her character really, really calls for it” that ensures that 38 percent of D&D players are now women.

(8) BOWEN OBIT. The English writer John Bowen (1924-2019) reportedly died April 18 at the age of 94. Matthew Davis sent this tribute:

Bowen wrote numerous offbeat thrillers (in a territory between Angus Wilson and Patricia Highsmith), and “After the Rain” (1958) is about an apocalyptic flood, but he has a small cult reputation in British fantasy and science fiction television. His 1970 TV play “Robin Redbreast” has been rediscovered and championed as a contemporary folk horror equal to “The Wicker Man”. He wrote half of the episodes of the outstanding 1971 Orwellian dystopian TV series “The Guardians”, and also contributed several fine ghost stories during the form’s 1970s TV heyday. Not Sfnal at all are the episodes he wrote of the TV mystery series “Hetty Wainthrop Investigates” – the original book was written by his partner David Cook

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 21, 1928 Dee Hartford, 91. Miss Iceland, companion of Mister Freeze in two episodes of the Sixties Batman show.  Also had appearances on Time Tunnel, Lost in Space, Land of The Giants, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Yes, she was very pretty and that really counted in that time.
  • Born April 21, 1939 John Bangsund, 80. Prominent Australian fan in the Sixties through Eighties. A major force with Andrew I. Porter behind Australia winning the right to host the 1975 Aussiecon, and he was Toastmaster at the Hugo Award ceremony at that convention.
  • Born April 21, 1945 Takao Koyama, 74. Japanese anime scriptwriter. He is one of the most influential individuals in anime, due to his seminal scripts and his teaching of the next generation of writers. Works that he’s done scripts for which are available with subtitles include The Slayers, Dragon Ball Z and Spirit Hero Wataru.
  • Born April 21, 1954 James Morrison, 65. Lt. Col. Tyrus Cassius ‘T.C.’ McQueen on the short-lived but much remembered Space: Above and Beyond series. Starship Troopers without the politics. He also appeared as Warden Dwight Murphy in the third season of Twin Peaks.  He’s got far too many one-off genre appearances to list here, so do your favorite.
  • Born April 21, 1965 Fiona Kelleghan, 54. Author of the critical anthology The Savage Humanists In which she identifies a secular, satiric literary movement within the genre. She also did Mike Resnick: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide to His Work. A work in progress by her is Alfred Bester, Grand Master: An Annotated Bibliography.
  • Born April 21, 1979 James McAvoy, 40. In the Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune series, he was Duke Leto II Atreides. Later roles included Mr. Tumnus in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Professor Charles Xavier in X-Men film franchise, Victor Frankensteinin Victor Frankenstein and Bill Denbrough in It – Chapter Two

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Free Range has Scully and Mulder pursuing the truth about Easter.

(11) A CAT NAMED GOOSE. Dana Marquez tells Sideshow readers “Everything You Need to Know About Captain Marvel’s Cat”. Feel free to eavesdrop.

So what’s up with the Goose the cat anyway? Unless you’ve followed the comics, the film may have lost you there when it introduced the flerken’s surprise powers and alien backstory. She’s not just Nick Fury’s soft spot; she’s a beast- literally! Read along for more information on Goose’s true comic origin and to find out just what the heck a flerken really is.

(12) BAY WATCH. BayCon 2019 is a month away:

(13) LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITY. This crimebreaking headline comes from SYFY Wire: “Norwegian police ‘arrest’ Night King on grounds of animal cruelty and destruction of property”.

In a parody Facebook post from a few days back, the upstanding police officers of Trondheim, Norway proudly announced that they had apprehended the White Walker leader on grounds of animal cruelty and appalling rumors of wall destruction. These are obvious references to the villain’s actions in Season 7, where he killed one of Dany’s dragons (before turning it into an ice zombie) and destroyed The Wall, allowing his undead army to march into the territory of living humans.

“This particular post was meant to be funny; these kind of posts generate a lot of attention and new followers for us. That’s useful when we later ask for help i.e. solving crime or search for missing persons,” the Trondheim police told SYFY Wire in a statement. “Behind the mask is one of our younger officers, handpicked for the job.”

In addition, the post included photos of the Night King (dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, of course) posing for a mugshot and being led into a solitary jail cell. The arresting officers, jokingly referred to as Trondheim’s night’s watchmen, also accused the Night King of turning once-fruitful regions into desolate wastelands.

(14) HUGO REVIEWS. Steve J. Wright has completed his Hugo Short Story Finalist reviews (and they are excellent reviews, as usual).

(15) NOT COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN. Todd Mason sends along  “Friday’s ‘Forgotten’ Books and More: the links to the reviews: 19 April 2019” – you’ll find links to all these reviews in his post (reviewer’s name first, title and author/editor’s name last).

This week’s books and more, unfairly (or sometimes fairly) neglected, or simply those the reviewers below think you might find of some interest (or, infrequently, you should be warned away from); certainly, most weeks we have a few not at all forgotten titles…

  • Patricia Abbott: News of the World by Paulette Jiles
  • Barbara Barrett: The Edge of Tomorrow by Howard Fast
  • Joachim Boaz: New Worlds SF, April 1964, edited by John Carnel
  • John Boston: Amazing: Fact and Science Fiction Stories,  May 1964, edited by Cele Goldsmith Lalli
  • Ben Boulden: “Hawksbill Station” (novella version) by Robert Silverberg
  • Brian Busby: The March of the White Guard by Gilbert Parker
  • Susanna Calkins: Death and the Joyful Woman by “Ellis Peters” (Edith Pargeter)
  • Martin Edwards: Marion aka Murder Off the Record by John Bingham
  • Peter Enfantino: (Proto-Marvel) Atlas Horror Comics, March 1952
  • Will Errickson: Dead White by Alan Ryan
  • José Ignacio Escribano: La berlina de Prim (“Prim’s Carriage”) by Ian Gibson
  • Curtis Evans: The Cases of Lieutenant Timothy Trant by “Q. Patrick” (Richard Webb and Hugh Wheeler); “Mrs. B’s Black Sheep” by “Q. Patrick”; Speaker of Mandarin by Ruth Rendell
  • Olman Feelyus: Frankincense and Murder by Baynard Kendrick
  • Paul Fraser: Astounding Science-Fiction, September 1943, edited by John W. Campbell, Jr. 
  • John Grant: A Line of Blood by Ben McPherson
  • Aubrey Hamilton: The Dogs of War by Frederick Forsyth
  • Rich Horton: Take a Girl Like You by Kingsley Amis; The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting; Reduction in Arms and The Barons of Behavior by Tom Purdom; Rachel Swirsky’s short fiction; The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines; Gene Wolfe, 1931-2019; Fandom Harvest and other fannish writing by Terry Carr
  • Jerry House: The Vanguard of Venus by Landell Bartlett; Eh!, November-December 1954 (Charlton Comics’ first imitation of Mad)
  • Kate Jackson: The Noonday Devil by Ursula Curtiss; Love Lies Bleeding by Edmund Crispin
  • Tracy K.: The Shortest Way to Hades by Sarah Caudwell; Entry Island by Peter May
  • Colman Keane: Deep Cover and Recoil by Brian Garfield
  • George Kelley: The Best of Li’l Abner by Al Capp
  • Joe Kenney: The Great God Now by Edward S. Hanlon; American Avenger #1: Beat a Distant Drum by “Robert Emmett” (Robert L. Waters)
  • Rob Kitchin: IQ by Joe Ide
  • B. V. Lawson: Death on Remand by “Michael Underwood” (John Michael Evelyn)
  • Evan Lewis: “The Ghost of Dutch Emil”  and “Right Hook to Tokyo” by Ed Lacy (prose content in Rangers Comics August 1946 and December 1945 respectively)
  • Steve Lewis: “Murder, 1986” by P. D. James (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, October 1970, edited by Frederic Dannay); “A Madonna of the Machine” by Tanith Lee (Other Edens II edited by Christopher Evans and Robert Holdstock); Spit in the Ocean by Shelley Singer; “Long Shot” by Vernor Vinge (Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, August 1972, edited by Ben Bova); The Saint in New York by Leslie Charteris; Spider-Woman, June 1978, written and illustrated by Marv Wolfman, Carmine Infantino and Tony DeZuniga; “Skin Deep” by Kristin Kathryn Rusch (Amazing Stories, January 1988, edited by Patrick Price)
  • Lawrence Maddox: the Assignment: novels by Edward S. Aarons
  • John F. Norris: Dangerous to Me by “Rae Foley” (Elinore Denniston)
  • John O’Neill: The Nightmare and Other Stories of Dark Fantasy by “Francis Stevens” (Gertrude Barrows Bennett)
  • Matt Paust: Smoke Detector by Eric Wright 
  • James Reasoner: Captain Shark #2: Jaws of Death by “Richard Silver” (Kenneth Bulmer)
  • Richard Robinson: G Stands for Glory: The G-Man Stories by Norvell Page  
  • Gerard Saylor: Directorate S by Steve Coll
  • Jack Seabrook and Peter Enfantino: DC War Comics, October 1974
  • Steven Silver: “Build Your Own A-Bomb and Wake Up the Neighborhood” by George W. Harper (Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, April 1979, edited by Stanley Schmidt)
  • Victoria Silverwolf: Worlds of Tomorrow, April 1964, edited by Frederik Pohl
  • Dan Stumpf: The Screaming Mimi by Fredric Brown
  • Kevin Tipple: …A Dangerous Thing by Bill Crider, “TomCat”: The Complete Cases of Inspector Allhoff, V. 1 by D. L. Champion; “An Urban Legend Puzzle” by Rintaro Norizuki (translation by Beth Cary), Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, January 2004, edited by Janet Hutchings; The 3-13 Murders by Thomas B. Black

(16) POWERS NOT USED FOR NICENESS. The Boys premieres on Amazon July 26, 2019.

THE BOYS is an irreverent take on what happens when superheroes, who are as popular as celebrities, as influential as politicians and as revered as Gods, abuse their superpowers rather than use them for good. Subscribe to tvpromosdb on Youtube for more The Boys season 1 promos in HD!

[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Bonnie McDaniel, Matthew Davis, Chip Hitchcock, Rich Lynch, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Todd Mason, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip WIlliams.]

Pixel Scroll 9/12/18 Pleonasmatic

(1) MAGIC ON DISPLAY. Sean McLachlan reviews the exhibit of “Magical Items at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum” for Black Gate.

A new exhibition at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum showcases 180 real-life magical items.

Spellbound: Magic, Ritual & Witchcraft explores the history of magic from the early modern era to the present day through objects ranging from Renaissance crystal balls to folk charms against witchcraft. It looks at basic human needs such as fear of death and desire for love, and how people have used magic to try to get what they need.

The exhibition also turns the question of magic and superstition back on the viewer. In the entrance hallway, you are invited to step under a ladder or go around it. The museum is counting how many people dare to tempt fate. I did, and I hope they post the statistics when the exhibition is over!

(2) WHEEL OF TIME TV. Adam Whitehead shares his notes at The Wertzone: “WHEEL OF TIME TV showrunner hosts Q&A”.

Wheel of Time showrunner Rafe Judkins has hosted a Q&A on Twitter, where he invited fans to pitch him questions about the show. Given that the project is still in an early stage of pre-production, a lot of questions couldn’t be answered, but some interesting tidbits were dropped about how he sees the project moving forwards.

The current status of the project:

Judkins confirmed that the show is in development at with Amazon (via, as we know already, Sony TV Studios) but it has not yet been formally greenlit, either for a full first season or a pilot. As such, things like production timelines, timetables for casting and when we might get to see the show all remain up in the air.

Judkins notes that he is now able to talk about the show in a way he couldn’t a couple of months ago, and that indeed something has changed to facilitate this….

(3) QUITE A BUNCH. At NYR Daily, “David Bunch’s Prophetic Dystopia”, an overview adapted from Jeff VanderMeer’s introduction to the new Bunch collection.

…That these tales come off as a seamless meld of the eccentric poetics of E.E. Cummings, the genius-level invention of Philip K. Dick, and the body horror of Clive Barker perhaps explains both why they remain vital today and why they were characterized as “fringe” during Bunch’s career. They are wild, visceral, and sui generis, without the signifiers of a particular era that might provide anchors for mystified readers. Popular contemporaries like Samuel R. Delany, Ursula K. Le Guin, and even James Tiptree Jr. ameliorated the strangeness of their work with the scaffolding or appearance of more familiar plotlines, even as they wrote stories generally from the point of view of marginalized groups. Bunch, by contrast, foregrounded lyricism over plot and chose to write from the potentially unsympathetic viewpoint of a hyper-aggressive warmonger—a viewpoint clearly quite far from his own. Even his authorial stand-in, the nameless writer of the fictional introduction to this volume, has monstrous qualities.

Nothing quite like the Moderan stories had been written before and nothing like them has been written since….

(4) NARNIA LETTER. Brenton Dickieson spotted a bit of literary history on sale: “For £5,000 You Can Own A Piece of Narnia: New C.S. Lewis Letter Surfaces”.

That’s right, Dominic Winter Auctioneers is putting a newly surfaced letter from C.S. Lewis on the auction block. It is a great artifact, as The Daily Mail reports, a generous and light bit of Narnian delight as Lewis answers some questions from schoolchildren at Grittleton House School in Wiltshire. The auctioneers have made photographs of this short, two-page 22 May 1952 letter. The children of Grittleton House–who Lewis calls Grittletonians–were no doubt curious after the release of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) and Prince Caspian: Return to Narnia (1951). Not only did Lewis assure them that The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader (1952) would be out in a few months, but that there would be seven stories in all.

Although the letter is very much like one sent to Michael Irwin just a couple of months previously (25 Mar 1952), there are a couple of things really worth noting here….

His post includes stats of the letters.

(5) SUPERMAN OUT, SUPERGIRL IN. Tatiana Siegel and Borys Kit, in The Hollywood Reporter’s story “Henry Cavill Out as Superman Amid Warner Bros.’ DC Universe Shake-Up”, say that Warner Bros. has removed Henry Cavill from any future movies as Superman because a cameo by him in Shazam! didn’t work out and DC wants to do a Supergirl origin movie next and put off doing anything with Superman for several years.

Warners had been trying to enlist Cavill, who most recently co-starred in Mission: Impossible — Fallout, for a Superman cameo in Shazam!, which stars Zachary Levi and will bow April 5. But contract talks between Cavill’s WME reps and Warners broke down, and the door is now closing on other potential Superman appearances.

That’s because the studio has shifted its focus to a Supergirl movie, which will be an origin story featuring a teen superheroine. This effectively removes an actor of Cavill’s age from the storyline’s equation given that Superman, aka Kal-El, would be an infant, according to DC lore.

Furthermore, Warners isn’t likely to make a solo Superman film for at least several years, according to another source. “Superman is like James Bond, and after a certain run you have to look at new actors,” says a studio source.

(6) VEGGIE OVERLOAD. Laura Anne Gilman makes a simple request at Book View Café: “A Meerkat Rants: No More Kale, Please.”

Let me admit this shameful fact up front.  I like kale. No, really, I do.  It’s not an easy-to-love vegetable, I’ll agree, but if you know how to buy and handle it, you can get tender, sharp-yet-tasty roughage that serves a variety of salads (including my fave: baby kale and pear with white wine vinaigrette).

But I don’t want it every week. Hell, I don’t want anything food-wise, every single week without fail.

But then I went and joined a CSA.

CSA, for those of you unfamiliar with the term, stands for community supported agriculture.  Basically, you pay a set fee, and get a box of whatever the local farms have on-offer, on a seasonal basis….

(7) VERSE THE CURSE. Charles Payseur interviews Aidan Doyle — “Quick Questions – Aidan Doyle of Sword and Sonnet”. Doyle co-edited the Sword and Sonnet anthology with Rachael K. Jones and E. Catherine Tobler.

So why battle poets?

AD: I liked the idea of poetry being used as a magic system. Sei Sh?nagon was one of the original inspirations for my idea of what a battle poet could be. She wrote The Pillow Book, one of the classics of Japanese literature and was renowned for intimidating the men of Heian-era Japan with her knowledge of poetry. I hadn’t seen any other anthologies that covered a similar theme. After we announced the Kickstarter, there were many writers who told us they were particularly excited by the theme.

(8) DIY STEAMPUNK DÉCOR. Clickbait time at Homedit“21 Cool Tips To Steampunk Your Home”.

The steampunk style is not one of the most well known in terms of interior design. Maybe that’s because many of us don’t even know which are the basic details that define this concept. When I say steampunk, I remember about the Victorian era, with all the inventions back then, but the meaning of this word would be incomplete without the industrial details.

In essence, this trend is a mixture between elegant Victorian interior accessories and the strength of industrial elements. Maybe you remember about Joben Bistro, that beautiful pub from Romania. It’s an inspiration for us….

The fifth tip is –

  1. Buy a terrestrial globe (in case you don’t have one already)

Make sure it’s old and very used. It would be one of the most popular items in the house, and kids would love to spin it over and over again.

(9) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

The town of Santa Claus, Indiana, changed its name in 1856 from Santa Fe, which was already taken, to get its own post office. As a result many of the town’s street names are Christmas-themed, including Sled Run, Blitzen Lane and Melchior Drive. Source: Wikipedia

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 12, 1958 The Blob got loose in theaters.
  • September 12, 1993Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” premiered on TV.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 12, 1921 – Stanislaw Lem. Polish writer whose The Man from Mars was a first contact novel, other genre works include Solaris, and two short story collections, Fables for Robots and The Cyberaid. His later years are marked by his anti-technological views including outright opposition to the internet. In 1973, he was made an honorary member of SFWA (later rescinded).
  • Born September 12 —John Clute, 78. Critic, reviewer and writer. Some of his reviews are in his early collection, Strokes. I’ll  single out The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction which he co-edited with Peter Niicholls and The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (John Grant, co-editor) which I think are still really awesome. Oh and The Darkening Garden: A Short Lexicon of Horror is fucking amazing! I’ve not read his fiction so I welcome your opinions on it.
  • Born September 12 – William Goldman, 87. Writer of The Princess Bride which he adapted as a screenplay. He also wrote the screenplays for Misery and The Stepford Wives. His late brother is James Goldman who wrote The Lion in Winter and Robin and Marian.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) BOOKSTORE ON WHEELS. The thread starts here.

(14) PHILOSOPHICAL DILEMMAS. Eric Schwitzgebel’s guest post for Cat Rambo’s blog deals with an episode of The Good Place: “Eric Schwitzgebel Gives One-Point-Five Cheers for a Hugo Award for a TV Show about Ethicists’ Moral Expertise”.

When The Good Place episode “The Trolley Problem” won one of science fiction’s most prestigious awards, the Hugo, in the category of best dramatic presentation, short form, I celebrated. I celebrated not because I loved the episode (in fact, I had so far only seen a couple of The Good Place’s earlier episodes) but because, as a philosophy professor aiming to build bridges between academic philosophy and popular science fiction, the awarding of a Hugo to a show starring a professor of philosophy discussing a famous philosophical problem seemed to confirm that science fiction fans see some of the same synergies I see between science fiction and philosophy.

I do think the synergies are there and that the fans see and value them – as also revealed by the enduring popularity of The Matrix, and by West World, and Her, and Black Mirror, among others – but “The Trolley Problem”, considered as a free-standing episode, fumbles the job. (Below, I will suggest a twist by which The Good Place could redeem itself in later episodes.)

(15) A MEXICANX INTIATIVE LOOK AT W76. Alberto Chimal, part of the MexicanX Initiative at Worldcon 76, has written up his experience for Literal Magazine: “Fui a otro mundo y me traje esta camiseta” . (Here’s a link to a Google Translate English language versioncaveat emptor.)

….La delegación en la que estuve, compuesta por casi cincuenta artistas, escritores y lectores mexicanos y mexicoamericanos, pudo inscribirse y figurar en el programa de la convención gracias a un proyecto de fondeo y apoyo entre el propio fandom que se llamó The Mexicanx Initiative. Éste fue idea del artista John Picacio, ilustrador y portadista de larga carrera a quien se nombró invitado de honor de la Worldcon: es la primera vez que una persona de origen mexicano recibe esa distinción. Picacio, como muchas otras personas, ha observado la postura abiertamente racista y antimexicana del gobierno actual de los Estados Unidos, y cómo los exabruptos y tuits de su presidente, Donald Trump, están “normalizando” formas de odio y extremismo que hace menos de una década hubieran sido condenadas sin vacilación….

(16) OVER THE TRANSOM. JDA submits to Uncanny. Surprised it’s lasted this long — the title phrase is really too well-known to be called a dogwhistle.

(17) SPECIAL ISSUE. Charles Payseur finds an extra big serving of short fiction on his plate: “Quick Sips – Uncanny #24 Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction! [September Fiction]”.

Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction! is here!!! And with it comes a whole heck of a lot of fiction and poetry. To be specific, ten stories and ten poems. But, because this is also a regular issue of Uncanny, the work will be released publicly over two months. And so, to keep things manageable for me, I’m going to be tackling this extra-big issue in four parts—September fiction, September poetry, October fiction, and October poetry. So let’s dig in! The first half of the issue’s fiction is up and features five short stories touching on aliens, assistive devices, families, and a whole lot of disabled characters getting shit done. The work in these focuses primarily (for me, at least) on occupations and growing up. About facing down intolerance and violence and finding ways to find community, hope, and beauty in a universe that can often be ugly and cruel. So let’s get to the reviews!

(18) D&D MANGA. The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog enumerates “14 Graphic Novels & Manga for Dungeons & Dragons Fans”.

Comics and fantasy role-playing games have shared a similar trajectory as of late: once considered distinctly nerdy pursuits and viewed as mildly disreputable by the broader culture (when they weren’t the subject of full-blown moral panics, anyway), they both have recently been thrust into the mainstream, whether via big budget movies or name-dropping teens on Netflix. Yet somehow, both forms of entertainment have maintained their legit geek cred.

The recent release of the graphic novel The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins illustrates (heh) the intersection perfectly: a number one New York Times’ bestseller based on a popular podcast that’s all about a family sitting around playing Dungeons & Dragons. With that in mind, we rolled a d20 to perform a skill check on the 13 great graphic novels below, and discovered they are all highly proficient in satisfying tabletop gamers looking for a fantasy fix between play sessions.

(19) NOVELLAS. At Nerds of a Feather, Adri Joy reviews two novellas published by The Book Smugglers: “Microreview [Books]: A Glimmer of Silver by Juliet Kemp and Accelerants by Lena Wilson”.

The Book Smugglers’ Novella Initiative line was a highlight of my novella reading in 2017, bringing a set of diverse, different stories with some interesting romance and a more YA sensibility to some of the entries than I’ve seen in other fiction of this length. I’ve been hoping throughout this year that we’d see more from the line, and in August my waiting was rewarded with this pair – with some bonus theming around the classical elements to really seal the deal!

Both Accelerants and A Glimmer of Silver deal with people on the cusp of adulthood in their own societies, whose choices are immediately constrained by the societies they live in.

(20) THREE ON A MATCH. Nerds of a Feather’s Joe Sherry gives quick verdicts on three books including Adrian Tchaikovsky’s latest: “Nanoreviews: The Skaar Invasion, Phoresis, The Expert System’s Brother”.

(21) BUY YOUR OWN HAMMER. Bonobos won’t share tools. Now I want to know what their policy is on books: “What’s Mine Is Yours, Sort Of: Bonobos And The Tricky Evolutionary Roots Of Sharing”.

An intriguing study published this week suggests that bonobos, among the closest relatives to humans, are surprisingly willing to hand over food to a pal. But they didn’t share tools.

The discovery adds a new wrinkle to scientists’ efforts to understand the evolutionary origins of people’s unusual propensity to help others.

“One of the things that is really striking about humans is how cooperative or helpful we are,” says Christopher Krupenye, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. “It’s just a really pervasive element of our behavior.”

Common chimpanzees (a related species that diverged from bonobos about 2 million years ago) do engage in some altruistic behavior. For example, it’s been shown that chimps will hand a tool that’s out of reach to a person who clearly is trying to get it — as will human children. So Krupenye and some colleagues recently repeated that experiment with bonobos in a sanctuary.

“Bonobos didn’t help at all,” says Krupenye. Instead, sometimes they would retrieve the tool but still keep it out of reach, showing it off in a teasing way. “They didn’t help, in this particular context.”

(22) PUTTING HUMANITY TO THE TEST. In fact, Margaret Atwood called on the internet for some help with a tool just yesterday. Is social media more or less evolved than bonobos? The thread starts here.

(23) SPARE CHANGE. Meanwhile, I will gladly pay you Tuesday for an Apple today: “6-Figure Price Tag Expected For Rare Apple-1 Computer At Auction”.

Before Apple was a trillion-dollar company, before its phones and laptops came to dominate the tech industry, it was just a California startup working out of a garage. Now, one of the first products the company ever made — the Apple-1 computer — is about to be the star of a live auction on Sept. 25 in Boston.

“The Apple-1 is so iconic of that era, of the garage era of Silicon Valley, that I think there is almost no other object that really encapsulates what it does culturally and technologically,” says Dag Spicer, senior curator for the Computer History Museum, which has an Apple-1 in its collection. Spicer says it’s one of their most popular pieces.

(24) LARPING. A photo essay about costumes, including some genre, at the Washington Post: “Inside the fantastical world of live-action role playing”:

What is LARP? It is an acronym for live-action role playing, a phenomenon inspired by fantasy board games, films, literature and computer games. People who are into LARP outfit themselves as their favorite characters such as orcs, dwarfs, zombies and vampires, among others. Photographer Boris Leist takes us into this world with his latest book, “LARP,” which will publish this year by Kehrer Verlag.

A few years ago, Leist met a man in the LARP community. The man was dressed as a dwarf, and Leist was impressed by the quality of the man’s costume and the passion he had for role playing. Although the man was an IT professional in real life, he was so committed to LARPing that he was taking a welding class so that he could build armor for himself. This passion and commitment inspired Leist to go deeper into the LARP community and meet more of its members. Leist ended up spending three years delving into that world and compiling portraits.

(25) SCARY GOOD. The Guardian has a great gallery of international posters from Harryhausen films: “A monster talent: Ray Harryhausen movie posters – in pictures”.

From roaring dinosaurs to clashing titans and flying saucers, the stop-motion genius made audiences gasp, shriek and doubt their eyes. Here are the best posters his groundbreaking movies inspired

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Lise A., Norman Cook, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Bill, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, StephenfromOttawa, David W., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day John Hertz.]

Pixel Scroll 4/7/18 The Secret Diary Of Pixel Scroll, Aged Four And Five Fifths

(1) HUMANITY. Marko Kloos describes his reaction to “The Münster incident”.

There was a vehicle-based attack in Germany today. It happened in the city of Münster, which is where I spent much of my childhood. I went to kindergarten and elementary school there, and my family still lives in the surrounding area, so they are in the city a lot.

You want to know a Xanax moment? Try texting your siblings after learning of a terror attack in the city where they go to school and do their weekend shopping trips. Today was a sunny day, the first really nice day of spring, and the sidewalk cafes were full. Some asshole with a box truck intentionally crashed it into one of those sidewalk cafes, killed two people, and injured thirty more (six of which are still in critical condition.)

To the dismay of some of the German right-wing party members, the attacker wasn’t a Muslim. He was a 27-year-old German with no police record, but he had a history of mental illness. So nobody gets to make much hay out of this incident–just a brain wired wrong. The perpetrator killed himself with a gun right after he had plowed into the crowd, so this was clearly a suicide that was supposed to make a statement.

…But I keep looking at that picture, taken a minute or so into the incident. The first police car has just arrived on the left edge of the picture, and one of the civilians is hurrying over to them to let them know the situation. But look at the people by the van. They don’t know the background of the attack or the motivation of the driver (other than the fact that it was clearly intentional.) They don’t know if the driver is armed, or if there are explosives in the van. But before the authorities even get there, they are busy helping the injured and each other.

(2) LGBTQ INITIATIVE. Inspired by John Picacio’s success with the Mexicanx Initiative, Chuck Serface has launched the “LGBTQ Initiative for Worldcon 76”.

Recently, John Picacio raised enough money to send 50 deserving Mexicanx professionals and fans to Worldcon 76 happening in San Jose, California from August 16-20, 2018. Let’s replicate that success by opening the door for interested members of the LGBTQ community.  Welcome to the LGBTQ Initiative for Worldcon 76!

You can participate in two ways.

As a Donor

Your donation will fund sponsored memberships for LGBTQ science-fiction and fantasy professionals and fans. We’ve begun accepting gifts already. So far we’ve gathered $1135, enough to fully fund seven memberships.  Help us keep that momentum rolling!  We’d like to help 50 individuals.

Click here to give: http://www.worldcon76.org/donations

As a Sponsored Membership Recipient

To apply for sponsored memberships, send an email to lgbtqworldcon@gmail.com telling me about yourself and why you want to attend Worldcon 76.

You must identify as LGBTQ.

You can be a professional writer, artist, or any kind of performer in the science-fiction and fantasy realm. Why do you want to attend Worldcon 76? Show me your enthusiasm!

You can be a fan. If so, why do you want to attend Worldcon 76? Let’s see that passion!

I, Chuck Serface, will review submissions and select recipients.  Please keep your statements under 500 words. I may ask follow-up questions, however.  If you’re a professional, links to examples of your work would be helpful.

We realize that marginalized groups have felt reticent about joining us, and understandably so. But we need more representation from the LGBTQ community in science fiction fandom! Bring it!

(3) THE TWILIGHT ZONE’S PAST GLEAMING. Galactic Journey’s Natalie Devitt covers “[April 7, 1963] The Twilight Zone, Season 4, Episodes 9-12”.

What is the price you would pay for one last chance at achieving a dream? That is the question that Douglas Winter, played by Robert Sterling, has to wrestle with in Printer’s Devil. Douglas is the editor of a failing newspaper called The Courier. Faced with the possibility of the paper, to which he has dedicated his life, folding, Douglas contemplates suicide. He drives himself out to a local bridge in the middle of the night, hoping to end it all there. At the bridge, he meets a mysterious stranger named Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith is played by Twilight Zone favorite Burgess Meredith. Mr. Smith offers Douglas everything he needs in order to keep The Courier in business. In no time, the paper is beating its competition to the latest scoop. In this surprisingly strong update of Faust, Douglas begins to question if his paper’s success is worth the price he will have to pay Mr. Smith, who is really the devil in disguise.

(4) RULES TO LIVE BY. Stephen L. Carter shares “My own 12 rules of life: Drawn from science fiction but a good fit for reality”.

Like so many other scribes, I have been inspired by psychologist Jordan Peterson’s fascinating book to sketch my 12 rules of life. But mine are different, because each is drawn from canonical science fiction. Why? Maybe because this is the literature on which I grew up, or maybe because I have never lost the taste for it. Or maybe because the sci-fi canon really does have a lot to teach about the well-lived life.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • “Repressive societies always seemed to understand the danger of ‘wrong’ ideas.” (Octavia Butler, “Kindred.”)

Butler, of course, means this the other way around: that a society’s taste for getting rid of “wrong” ideas is a mark of its repressive nature. The time-traveling narrator is explaining the need to get rid of an inflammatory book in the antebellum South — inflammatory in this case meaning that it might spark a slave uprising. Whether the “wrong” ideas that must not be expressed are ideas we love or ideas we hate, the same mischief is afoot. Better by far for us to trust each other to draw the right answers from the wrong books….

  • “The books are to remind us what asses and fools we are. They’re Caesar’s praetorian guard, whispering as the parade roars down the avenue, ‘Remember, Caesar, thou art mortal.’?” (Ray Bradbury, “Fahrenheit 451.”)

As Bradbury notes, a crucial reason to read is that we can be surprised, upset, offended, turned in a different direction. Books at their best make us think. We don’t live in a thoughtful age, and for just that reason, reading books that challenge us has become more important than ever. When we read seriously and thoughtfully, we run the risk that we might change our minds. That’s good. One of the worst things in the world is conformity, which is another word for intellectual cowardice.

(5) EVANGELIZING READERS. Here’s video from this weekend’s Science Fiction Outreach Project at Silicon Valley Comic Con.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 6, 1933 King Kong premiered theatrically. (Trivial Trivia: Upon a re-release of the movie, in 1938, Ray Bradbury & Ray Harryhausen took double dates to see King Kong.)

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY TWONKY

  • Born April 7, 1915 – Henry Kuttner

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Mike Kennedy says, “I don’t believe Spielberg got his start like this Bloom County might imply.”
  • Mike also admits, “This Non Sequitur isn’t clearly genre, but given how much Cat Fancy has been going on at File 770, I thought you’d want to see it.”

(9) RADCH AND OTHERS. Glyn Morgan, in an essay for LA Review of Books, devotes a great deal of attention to the Imperial Radch trilogy before exploring the questions “Where Have We Come From? Where Are We Going?: Identity and Self in Ann Leckie’s ‘Provenance’”.

…In Provenance, too, Leckie diverts us toward quieter, more introspective fare, expanding the size and complexity of her universe while retaining the character-driven focus that has become her trademark. Indeed, much of the novel’s success or failure rests on how the reader warms to its protagonist, Ingray Aughskold. At the opening of the novel, Ingray hatches a plot to rescue convicted thief Pahlad Budrakin from the prison planet euphemistically known as “Compassionate Removal” in order to identify the location of the priceless Budrakin vestiges, historical artifacts prized by Ingray’s Hwaean people for their connection to the past. Recovering these vestiges, Ingray hopes, will give her the edge on her brother Danach in the siblings’ lifelong competition to succeed their adoptive mother, the aristocratic Netano, as heir.

The Budrakin vestiges are particularly valuable because they date back to the ancient arrival of the Budrakin ancestors on Hwae. Vestiges of lesser value include party invitations, event tickets, and myriad souvenirs and mementos whose values increase with connection to important figures. It quickly becomes apparent that the Hwaean people’s obsession with vestiges goes far beyond a reverence for momentous artifacts like the Magna Carta or The Declaration of Independence: instead, it resembles a mania for collectibles and memorabilia. This mindset knowingly evokes an environment familiar to science fiction fans and attendees at conventions, some of whom pay significant sums for autographs and photographs of even minor actors from their favorite shows….

(10) HE’S ON THE COVER. At Not A Blog, George R.R. Martin shared his latest triumph as a “Cover Boy” on the Chinese edition of Esquire.

(11) FEED YOUR HEADSET. The TechCrunch headline “MIT’s new headset reads the ‘words in your head” dramatizes things to the point of misrepresenting what this headset actually does. See if you can figure it out:

“The motivation for this was to build an IA device — an intelligence-augmentation device,” grad student Arnav Kapur said in a release tied to the news. “Our idea was: Could we have a computing platform that’s more internal, that melds human and machine in some ways and that feels like an internal extension of our own cognition?”

The school tested the device on 10 subjects, who essentially trained the product to read their own neurophysiology. Once calibrated, the research team says it was able to get around 92 percent accuracy for commands — which, honestly, doesn’t seem too far off from the accuracy of voice commands for the assistants I’ve used.

The MIT Media Lab says:

AlterEgo is a wearable system that allows a user to silently converse with a computing device without any voice or discernible movements — thereby enabling the user to communicate with devices, AI assistants, applications, or other people in a silent, concealed, and seamless manner. A human user could transmit queries, simply by vocalizing internally (subtle internal movements) and receive aural output through bone conduction without obstructing the user’s physical senses and without invading a user’s privacy. AlterEgo aims to combine humans and computers—such that computing, the internet, and AI would weave into human personality as a “second self” and augment human cognition and abilities.

 

(12) D&D&FUD. C.J. Ciaramella admires “The Radical Freedom of Dungeons & Dragons”, a retrospective on Gary Gygax and D&D at Reason.com.

D&D is a deeply libertarian game—not in a crude political sense or because its currency system is based on precious metals, but in its expansive and generous belief in its players’ creative potential. It’s collaborative, not competitive. It offers a framework of rules, but no victory condition and no end. The world you play in, and how you shape it, are entirely up to you.

In the afterword to the original D&D manuals, Gygax encouraged players to resist contacting him for clarification on rules and lore: “Why have us do any more of your imagining for you?”

(13) BUT WAS IT WEARING A KILT? More on the Skye discovery: “Giant dinosaur tracks found in Scotland reveal the secrets of the Jurassic period”.

The discovery is being lauded for how much it can tell us about the Middle Jurassic Period, in particular, an important time in dinosaur evolution when meat-eating tyrannosaurs and the first birds came exist. The find was made at Brothers’ Point on the north-east coast of the Island of Skye. While it is now a collection of craggy ridges and stunning rocky beaches, the area used to be subtropical in the days of the dinosaurs, with lagoons and rivers.

(14) POKEMON INFILTRATED? The keen-eyed Hampus Eckerman asks –

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

Pixel Scroll 2018-01-02 The Scroll Awakens the Last Pixel

By JJ:

(1) INSPIRING THE RIGHT STUFF.  Space.com reports that American Girl’s latest entry in their doll line is an aspiring astronaut created with advice from NASA.

An 11-year-old aspiring astronaut who dreams of being the first person to go to Mars is blasting off as American Girl’s 2018 Girl of the Year.

Described as a champion of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), Luciana Vega is styled with brown eyes, medium skin and dark brown hair with a “distinctive purple streak to show off her creative side.” She comes packaged with a nebula-patterned dress and silver iridescent shoes.

American Girl will also offer a spacesuit outfit modeled after NASA’s Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) used on the International Space Station. Other accessories in the Luciana Vega collection include a blue Space Camp flight suit, a Maker Station and a Mars Habitat “loaded with science and research essentials for hours of pretend play.”

In addition to the doll and accessories, Luciana’s story is explored in a new book series authored by Erin Teagan and published by Scholastic… [and] “Blast Off to Discovery,” an educational program focused on helping third though fifth-grade students explore the wonder of space through Luciana-inspired content, including lesson plans, classroom activities, videos and a game.

(2) RECRUITING THE RIGHT STUFF.  In honor of Nichelle Nichols’ birthday on December 28, NASA engineer Bobak Ferdowsi told a story of a past encounter with her: (click on the tweet’s date/time stamp to read the whole thread)

(3) BOOK SUBMISSIONS OPEN.  Apex has announced that it is currently accepting submissions of Novels and Novellas.

Apex Book Company will be holding open novel and novella submissions from January 1st to January 31st, 2018. Anything sent outside of this time period will be deleted unread.

We will consider novellas in length of 30,000 to 40,000 words and novels in length up to 120,000 words, and are particularly looking for novels that fit within the dark sci-fi category. Dark fantasy and horror submissions are also welcome.

A literary agent is not required for submission. We may take up to three months or more to review your manuscript. Simultaneous submissions are okay. We will only accept one submission per author.

We only accept email submissions to apex.submission@gmail.com.

Additional details on the submission process can be found at the link.

(4) SHORT FICTION SUBMISSIONS OPEN.  Kaleidotrope Magazine has announced that it is currently open to submissions of Fiction, Poetry, Nonfiction, and Artwork until April 1, 2018.

Kaleidotrope tends very heavily towards the speculative – towards science fiction, fantasy, and horror – but we like an eclectic mix and are therefore interested to read compelling work that blurs these lines, falls outside of neat genre categories. Man does not live on space ships, elves, and ghostly ax murderers alone, after all. We’d suggest looking through the archives to familiarize yourself with the zine, and/or checking out other work by our past contributors, to get a sense of what we’re looking for and what we like.

In the end, what we want is interesting, sometimes unconventional work, well-written stories and poems that surprise and amuse us, shock and disturb us, that tell us things we didn’t know or reveal old truths in brand new ways. We want strange visions of distant shores, of imaginary countries and ordinary people, and work that doesn’t lose sight of entertainment and the joy of good writing.

We are also interested in publishing diverse writers. Kaleidotrope welcome writers of color and other groups, as well as work that represents the diversity of characters we want to see more of.

(5) SPOILER WARNING.  Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn has Taken a hard-line on spoilers for The Last Jedi:

The following items have been carefully curated to provide interesting non-spoilery information on the movie, but click judiciously if you haven’t seen it yet.

(6) PLUS ÇA CHANGE.  In a piece at Critical Hit, Kate Willaert engages in some cultural archaeology to find out how fans reacted to The Empire Strikes Back in 1980: [WARNING: Spoilers for The Last Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back at the link]

Today the general consensus is that Empire Strikes Back is the best Star Wars movie. It has an audience score of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.8/10 on IMDb, compared to A New Hope’s 96% and 8.7/10, respectively. These user scores weren’t generated until decades after the original trilogy was released, but it’s not like fan opinion could have shifted that much, right?

Thankfully, Archive.org has a collection of Starlog, so let’s take a look at issues #39-41. What were the fans saying?

As with The Last Jedi, fan reaction was mixed to say the least. Some felt it was better than the first one, some enjoyed it but had complaints, and some were disappointed. But what’s most interesting is how specific comments or criticisms mirror those of The Last Jedi…

(7) IT’S NOT WHAT YOU WERE EXPECTING.  Star Wars: Aftermath author Chuck Wendig has some thoughts about fan expectations in relation to The Last Jedi. (The below excerpt is non-spoilery, but there are SPOILERS at the linked blog post.)

I fucking loved it.

That’s it. That’s my review. It’s mostly just a series of excitable sounds with the occasional twirling around until I’m dizzy. But I’d rather look past my gibbon-like hoots and my strange, erotic dances and see what lies within. What lurks deeper. What do I see when I enter the DARK SIDE CAVE to have the truth revealed to me?

Your Expectations Will Not Be Met

Fandom is a tricky bear to wrestle. We love a thing so deeply, we entwine ourselves within it. We thread a little bit – sometimes a lot – of our identity into the thing. And we come to believe we own that thing, and further, we join a tribe of fellow owners who all have threaded themselves into it both intellectually and emotionally. We feel excited by what this thing can bring us. We develop pet theories. We craft and conjure the path we would take if we were ever handed the keys to the Thing We Love. We become excited and obsessive, a little bit. Sometimes a lotta bit.

But here’s the thing:

Stories can never be written for the fans.

Fan service isn’t a bad thing, per se, but it is sometimes a fairly lazy thing – it’s a comfortable signal, a soft chair, it’s Norm from Cheers where everybody knows his name. It’s to say, “You’re lost here, but look, here is a familiar friend to help you through. It’s to let you know that despite all the strange flora and the eyes glowing in the dark, you’re still a known quantity in a known land. This is a safe place.” When done overmuch, fan service does more than just introduce a few friendly faces. It burns down the trees. It lights up the dark. It slides a jukebox over and slams the top of it like it’s fucking Fonzie and suddenly, the Greatest Hits begin to play, just as you love them. Maybe in an order you don’t know, but still the songs you know and you adore.

The Last Jedi will not meet your expectations.

Oh, it knows them.

It is well-aware of them, in fact, and is well-aware that you have them. And it willfully… I don’t want to say disregards them, precisely, but in a sense, it has weaponized them against you. It knows you’ve seen all the movies. It knows you know the narrative beats, the tropes, the rhyming couplets of George Lucas, and then it gently puts them all in a magician’s hat, and then it reaches into the hat, and instead of pulling them back out, it pulls out a porg.

And then the movie hits you with the porg.

Whap.

That metaphor may have gotten a little out of hand, but I think you grok me.

The Last Jedi cares very much about your expectations.

It’s just not going to meet them.

(8) IT’S A THEORY.  On Twitter, Amelia Rose explains why she thinks that the much-maligned Star Wars prequels contain a very nuanced story told very, very incompetently. (Click on the tweet’s date/time stamp to read the whole thread; there are no spoilers for The Last Jedi in the main thread, but after the “FIN” there may be some SPOILERS in commenters’ tweets.)

(9) PAYBACKS ARE SWELL.  The Hollywood Reporter says that gross revenues on the new editions of the Star Wars franchise have exceeded $4 Billion, eclipsing Disney’s price to acquire Lucasfilm.

Combined, Disney and Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Stars Wars: The Force Awakens have surpassed $4.06 billion in ticket sales at the worldwide box office. While an interesting benchmark, it doesn’t, of course, account for the hundreds of millions spent to produce and market the trio of films, or the fact that Disney splits box-office grosses with theater owners. Conversely, Disney has minted additional money from lucrative ancillary revenue streams, merchandising sales and theme park attractions.

Opening in North America on Dec. 15, The Last Jedi zoomed past the $900 million mark on Thursday, finishing the day with $934.2 million globally, including $464.6 million domestically and $469.6 internationally (it doesn’t land in China until Jan. 5).

(10) EDITORIAL LICENSE.  On Facebook, Amanda Downs Champlin has taken artistic liberties with the newest character in the Star Wars franchise. [WARNING: NO SPOILERS, JUST TERMINAL CUTENESS]

(11) WITHERING HEIGHTS.  The Last Jedi has sparked widely-varying opinions on the appeal of Kylo Ren.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

  • Born January 2, 1920 – Isaac Asimov, Author and Damon Knight Grand Master of Science Fiction
  • Born January 2, 1959 – Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Editor (Tor Books)
  • Born January 2, 1973 – Lucy Davis, Actor (Etta Candy in 2017’s Wonder Woman)
  • Born January 2, 1980 – David Gyasi, Actor (Interstellar, Cloud Atlas, and The Dark Knight Rises)

(13) CAUGHT IN THE ACT.  SFF author Jason Sanford reports on a newly-revealed case of genre plagiarism:

Jake Bible, author of the Roak: Galactic Bounty Hunter series, claimed on Facebook and Twitter that Balogun Ojetade plagiarized his writing in Ojetade’s novel Scorpion Wine (Qiq, the Bounty Hunter). Bible released the image above showing extreme similarities between a section of Ojetade’s book (at left) and his own novel.

Bible said on Facebook that Ojetade’s novel “changed character names and the setting, but it is an almost word for word ripoff.”

Bible requested Amazon take down Ojetade’s novel, which it did. However, an entry for Scorpion Wine was still on Amazon as of this writing.

In a personal message Bible told me that because “bounty hunter is such a niche sub-genre that one of my readers found (the plagiarism) right away.” But Bible suggested other authors may want to examine Ojetade’s works for other possible cases of plagiarism.

(14) SHOPPING WHILE INTOXICATED.  SFF author Cherie Priest got a surprise delivery:

(15) TAKE THAT, COMCAST.  Motherboard explains how someone used wet string to get a broadband internet connection:

As the FCC prepares to the destroy the US internet by rolling back net neutrality protections, it’s no surprise that Americans are looking for alternatives to their corporate internet service providers (ISPs). These ISPs own all the cable that routes information through the internet, and trying to replace these networks with community-owned cable is a costly and challenging process.

Fortunately, a UK techie with a sense of humor may have found an alternative to expensive corporate broadband cables: some wet string.

It’s an old joke among network technicians that it’s possible to get a broadband connection with anything, even if it’s just two cans connected with some wet string. As detailed in a blog post by Adrian Kennard, who runs an ISP called Andrews & Arnold in the UK, one of his colleagues took the joke literally and actually established a broadband connection using some wet string…

Usually, broadband connections rely on wires made of a conductive substances like copper. In the case of the Andrews & Arnold technician, however, they used about 6 feet of twine soaked in salt water (better conductivity than fresh water) that was connected to alligator clips to establish the connection.

(16) DON’T LET THE CAT DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT.  Never underestimate the power of an SJW credential, especially if it’s a reader. KRLD reports that a White Settlement, Texas, City Councilman lost his showdown with the library’s beloved cat.

Elzie Clements’ final meeting as a member of the city council was Tuesday night. Clements tried to have Browser, the city’s docile grey tabby library cat, fired this past summer.

Browser got his job at the library when he was just a kitten. He was recruited from a local animal shelter as an inexpensive, effective method of pest control at the library.

In July, a city worker apparently demanded Browser’s removal after the worker was not allowed to bring a puppy to work at City Hall. Two-legged library workers were outraged, and many people who use the library often said that they were unhappy with Bowser’s dismissal.

The White Settlement City Council took up the issue of what to do with Browser, with Clements being the lone vote to get rid of the favorable feline.

Browser got a reprieve following a world-wide backlash, and reports say there were still some hard feelings among council members after the cat fight.

Councilman Clements eventually ran out of his 9-lives after he was defeated in a landslide in November’s election.

(17) NEXT WEEK, SKYNET.  Artificial learning algorithms are developing in unexpected directions:


https://twitter.com/AllisonCalhoun1/status/945354733899931648

(18) ARCHIVE THIS.  A digital museum is seeking a DMCA exemption for “abandoned Online games”, to preserve defunct gaming titles from being lost.

Every three years the US Copyright Office reviews and renews the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions at which time it considers exemptions to the law. It is currently looking at a proposal for allowing museums, libraries and archives to circumvent the DRM on abandoned online games such as FIFA World Cup, Nascar and The Sims.

The proposal was initiated by The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment (The MADE). The Made is a 501c3 non-profit organization with a physical museum located in Oakland, California. The gallery claims to be “the only all-playable video game museum in the world, [and] houses over 5,300 playable games.”

The Made is concerned that certain multiplayer and single-player games that require a server to run will be lost if exemptions are not made to the DMCA. It is not looking to circumvent current games but instead is looking to preserve titles that have already been shut down by the producer – City of Heroes (and Villains) would be a good example…

Supporters of the proposal had until December 18, 2017, to submit comments or evidence to the US Copyright Office. Opponents to the request now have until February 12, 2018, to present written arguments against it. Supporters will then be allowed a rebuttal period until March 14. The USCO will make its decision soon after the final rebuttals are read.

(19) IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK, REALLY.  SFF author Catherynne M. Valente, explaining the contents of boxes of fannish detritus to her fiance as they unpack in their new home:

(20) DEEP IMPACT.  Geologists from the Birkbeck University of London have discovered mineral forms never before reported on Earth on the Isle of Skye:

Geologists exploring the Isle of Skye got more than they bargained for when examining volcanic rocks on the Scottish site, finding mineral forms from a pre-historic meteorite impact that have never before been found on Earth.

The team, including members of Birkbeck’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Dr Simon Drake, Dr Andy Beard, Professor Hilary Downes and Jergus Baca, discovered evidence of a previously unknown, 60 million-year-old meteorite impact.

They had been examining a thick layer at the base of a 60 million-year-old lava flow, which they at first thought was a volcanic flow deposit called ignimbrite. After putting it under an electron microprobe, they discovered that it, in fact, contained rare minerals from outer-space…

These mineral forms – vanadium-rich and niobium-rich osbornite – have never before been reported on Earth, only collected in space dust on a prior NASA mission.

The Isle of Skye has been well explored by geologists, and the scientists were surprised that the ejecta layer had not been identified before. The first site of discovery, Drake explained, was steep, rough and very boggy, which may have deterred previous researchers from exploring the layer.

(21) QUICK THINKING.  A DungeonMaster recounts a player’s narrow escape on his “Shit My Players Say” Tumblr blog:

(22) HELPFUL RESOURCE.  To assist award nominators, SFF Author A. C. Wise is maintaining an aggregated list of eligibility post links, which is being updated on an ongoing basis.

(23) GALACTIC POSITIONING SYSTEM.  NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has installed a new kinetic sculpture to assist spacefarers in their travels:

[Thanks to Substitute Editor of the Day JJ for pilfering all of these stories from friends, acquaintances, and randos on blogs, Facebook and Twitter. Credit for spelling and grammar goes to Copyeditor of the Day JJ. Blame for spelling and grammar mistakes goes to Scapegoat of the Day Camestros Felapton. Title credit goes to File 770 Contributing Editor of the Day JJ. Any complaints should be directed to – oh, who are we kidding? complaints will be ignored.]

Pixel Scroll 6/26/17 Tyme Scrollfari, Inc. Scrollfaris Tu Any Pixel En The Fyle

(1) OFF THE TOP OF HER HEAD. In “Nattering Social Justice Cook: Celebrating Rainbow Hair”, Cat Rambo delves into the history and symbolism of the hairstyle.

A common adjective in many of the more conservative, alt-right, and other theater-of-outrage rants I’ve seen in the past couple of years is “rainbow-haired,” never in a positive sense. It’s usually paired with some form of “social justice warrior,” and often accompanied by an emotional catch-phrase or verbiage like “feels” or “drinking the tears.” There’s a lot of interesting stuff built into that particular fixation. So let’s dig around to find what’s contained in the phrase and its use in this pejorative sense….

Rainbow hair is grounded in a counter-cultural movement. It celebrates individuality and a certain DIY spirit (there is no shame in going to the salon for it, but I find it much more fun to do my own). It celebrates one’s appearance, draws the eye rather than shrinking away from it. It is something beautiful that those who don’t fit inside normal standards of beauty can have. It is playful, joyful, delightful at times.

Very recently it has spread like wildfire, and many of the people adopting it are millennials. This gives the anti-rainbow hair sentiment a double-whammy, providing an “oh these kids nowadays” moment while slamming anyone older for acting overly young. (Which implies that’s a bad thing, which isn’t a notion I agree with).

Here’s something that I think often makes conservative minds bristle: it confuses gender norms. In traditional thinking, men aren’t supposed to care about or celebrate their appearance in the way women are. But rainbow hair appears all over the gender spectrum. Pull in the strand of meaning associated with gay pride, and the objectionability quotient increases.

There’s a reason alt-right and other manifestations of conservative trollish rhetoric so often focuses on appearance, on fat-shaming or fuckability or even how a new Ken-doll wears their hair. It’s a reversion to the schoolyard insult, the way insecure children will be cruel to others in order to try to build their internal self-worth, a behavior many, but sadly not all, outgrow. Worthy of an essay in itself is the fact that it’s also behavior advantageous to advertisers: anxious consumers who want to fit in are willing to spend money in the effort.

(2) TURNOVER AT MAD. ComicsBeat knows the name of the next bullgoose loony: “Dept. of Funny Business: Bill Morrison is named new Executive Editor of Mad Magazine” .

Ending a suspenseful watch that lasted a few months, the white smoke has finally risen from DC Entertainment, signaling the election of a new pope of humor: Bill Morrison will be the new executive editor of Mad Magazine when it moves westward later this year.

…Well, every irreplaceable person seems irreplaceable until you find someone who will do the job differently but as well, and so it is with Morrison, an animation and comic veteran who has worked with the Bongo Comics line of Simpson Comics and many other hilarious things for years. He’s a great cartoonist himself and knows the score up and down and inside out.

(3) DORTMUND DOCKET. Detailed panel notes are the highlight of Tomas Cronholm’s report about “U-Con, Eurocon 2017”.

This was a fairly small Eurocon, with 375 attending members. The venue was some kind of school, with a big hall suitable for the main programme and some smaller rooms, a bar and a dealers’ area. Perfect for the size of the convention. Here are some reports from the programme items

(4) SPACE RELIC CONSERVATION. The Apollo XI spacecraft goes on the road: “Moonwalkers’ Apollo 11 Capsule Gets Needed Primping For Its Star Turn On Earth”

Until recently, the capsule sat in the main lobby of the National Air and Space Museum, where it had been since the museum opened in 1976. Conservator Lisa Young says that occasionally workers would open up its Plexiglas case to look it over or put in new lighting.

“But it never really went under a full examination or investigative analysis as to all of the certain materials on there, how stable they are,” says Young, who is working on the spacecraft now in a restoration hangar at the Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., outside of Washington, D.C.

“Our big job as conservators right now is to figure out, if we are going to put it back on display permanently, what could be happening to it in 50 years,” says Young, who wants to prevent future deterioration.

(5) SKYFULL. SpaceX non-fiction double feature: “SpaceX completes launch and landing double bill”

Late on Friday, [SpaceX] used one of its refurbished Falcon 9 vehicles to put up a Bulgarian satellite from Florida.

Then on Sunday, SpaceX lofted another 10 spacecraft for telecommunications company Iridium. This time, the rocket flew out of California.

Both missions saw the Falcon first-stages come back to Earth under control to drone ships that had been positioned out on the ocean.

(6) AUTHORIAL PALETTE. There’s an overview of Ben Blatt’s research in this PRI article: “A journalist uses statistics to uncover authors’ ‘cinnamon words'”.

In the book, Blatt refers to these patterns as an author’s “stylistic fingerprint.” In one line of inquiry, he dusts for prints by calculating famous authors’ favorite words — the terms they use “at an extreme ratio” compared to other writers. He calls them “cinnamon words,” after an anecdote about the novelist Ray Bradbury.

“The motivation for looking at this was, I had read this book that just asked authors their favorite words, and Ray Bradbury said, ‘My favorite word is cinnamon because it reminds me of my grandmother’s pantry,’” Blatt says.

Sure enough, Bradbury’s fans can find the word cinnamon sprinkled throughout his writing, from descriptions of dusty roads and red-brown hills to the dark Egyptian tomb that “breathed out a sick exhalation of paprika, cinnamon and powdered camel dung.”

“So, he’s using it all the time,” Blatt says. “And building on that, I wanted to look at hundreds of other authors to see, were there other similar words that were jumping out of a writer’s inner voice.”

(7) FLUXBUN WARNING. The new PhotonFlux bar in Wellington, New Zealand will celebrate World UFO Day on July 2.

Years in the making Anton and Nina imaged what the future would be like. Will it be a post-apocalyptic survival or, a future where everybody wears the same thing and live in peace with robots in a bubble city.

Either way we want to take photos of it, gather evidence and travel there.

Photonflux is the place where possible future will be planned, discussed and changed.

The headquarters offers the revolutionary fluxbun, a fried dough filled with various flavours in a casual setting. For World UFO Day your filling will be in the hands of our creative chef.

However if you do not wish to be pleasantly surprised you can pick from our menu.

Chris Barlow gave it a thumbs up review on Google Plus.

One of a kind, a sci-fi themed bar in Wellington! Like stepping into another dimension – as you enter you’re immediately surrounded by eye-popping visuals straight out of the film set. Delicious “Flux buns” are teleported care of the in-house “galactic food truck”, complemented by an eclectic range of tap beer. A must see in Wellington.

(8) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking once hosted a reception for time travelers — but only advertised the event after it had ended. [Source: Huffington Post.]

(9) TODAY’S ANNIVERSARY BOOK

(10) LATE ADOPTER. In honor of the anniversary, John Scalzi tells how he found his way to Platform 9-3/4: “Harry Potter and the Initially Dismissive But Ultimately Appreciative Fan”.

But as it turns out neither Harry Potter nor J.K. Rowling were done with me. First, of course, it turned out that Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley (and Rowling) weren’t Tears for Fears; they were the Beatles. And like the Beatles they weren’t just popular. They materially changed common culture — for a start, because they also changed the industry that they came out of, and the work of everyone in their field, who either responded to them or were influenced by them. Now, one may, like me, decide a phenomenon like that isn’t for you, but when literally(!) the world is changing to deal with and make room for that phenomenon, you still have to acknowledge that it’s there and work with it, or at least around it. Particularly when and if, like me, it comes out of the fields (in this case publishing and writing) you hope to be in, and in my case were eventually part of.

Second, I found another way in to Rowling’s wizarding world: through the movies, which were for me in a way that I, from that snippet of the second book, assumed the books were not. In retrospect this is not at all surprising — I was a professional film critic for several years, and I’ve written two books on film, and, as anyone who has ever read my novels can tell you, the storytelling structure of film is a huge influence on my storytelling in prose. My professional and creative interest in film helped that version of Harry Potter’s story speak to me.

(11) CIRCULAR REASONING SQUAD. In a post densely filled with animated GIFs, Sarah A. Hoyt responds to her critics on the right and what they had to say about her recent Sad Puppies-themed post for Mad Genius Club.

I did not feel guilty about a) not turning over Sad Puppies to someone else. Sad Puppies was Larry’s, then Brad’s, then Kate’s, and is now mine and next year will be mostly Amanda’s. We were in it from the beginning, and we have decided long ago that it would stay within the cabal, because none of us — all of us public figures to a degree or another — can afford to have something associated with our name taken down a crazy road without us having control over it. b) Not putting up a list for the Hugos — I was never going to put up a list. And I feel queasy about encouraging people to vote for an award that has been so thoroughly tainted. c) Not putting up a list for the Dragon. The Dragon is bigger than any of us. Some small names got in last year, but they were just because it was the first time. Right now I’m not big enough for the dragons, and I doubt any who covet it are either. d) I thought it was time to get out from between the fight of the Volksdeutshe expatriate and the guardians of chorfdom…

And she addresses specific criticisms about her latest Mad Genius Club post by saying she doesn’t understand why they’re down on her.

So, imagine my surprise when my post immediately attracted two commenters yelling at me for… well… actually I have no idea because most of it makes no sense. You guys can see the comments yourselves. There’s something about me looking down on people who don’t use the right oyster fork. You guys know my background and my question on this is… there’s a FORK? FOR OYSTERS? Why?

The other one apparently had something about me slandering other puppy-descended movements, which frankly… was news to me. First slander doesn’t mean what they think it means. Second, I’m fairly sure to slander them I’d have to mention them, and I don’t recall I have, except for Superversive, for whose anthology, Forbidden thoughts I wrote a short story. (It was as a press of that name needs to make it a rather more on-the-nose anthology than I’d have made it, but the point is I wasn’t the editor, the stories weren’t mine to choose, and it would be a funny world if my aesthetics were the only ones that counted, right? So, saying they have different tastes from me doesn’t count as a slander, right? particularly when I still wrote for them. Either that or I don’t know what slander means. Maybe I slandered them BY writing for them? I’m SOOOOOOO confused.)

(12) UNFRIENDLY FIRE. In addition to the comments there, Hoyt’s Mad Genius Club post about Sad Puppies also attracted some large bore artillery fire from Russell Newquist, “This Is What A Complete Leadership Failure Looks Like”, for the inactivity of SP5 in general, and her chastising Declan Finn for trying to jumpstart it last January.

Sarah Hoyt’s leadership of the Sad Puppies V campaign is a classic case study in leadership failure. If you ever want the absolute pitch perfect example of what not to do in a leadership position, look no further. This tale has everything: incompetence, insanity, bullying, harassment, technical difficulties, lack of vision, and just plain bitchiness. If I tried to create an example of bad leadership from scratch, I couldn’t make one this complete. If she were trying to destroy the Sad Puppies campaign and help the other side, she couldn’t have done a better job of it.

This, my friends, is a tail of abject, utter fail.

Sad Puppies V (SPV from here out) failed in literally every conceivable way, so this may take a bit. Bear with me….

(13) POLITICAL AUTOPSY. I spotted the Hoyt and Newquist links above in Camestros Felapton’s post “Sad Popcorn” where he tries to make sense of it all. If that’s possible.

(14) D&D HISTORY. Cecilia D’Anastasio tells Kotaku readers “Dungeons & Dragons Wouldn’t Be What It Is Today Without These Women”, though her very first illustration seems strangely out of synch with the rest of her case:

Almost every copy of the first Dungeons & Dragons adventure written by a woman is buried in a landfill in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

Those copies, published in 1980, were the masterwork of a game designer named Jean Wells, who worked for D&D’s first publisher, TSR. Wells designed Palace of the Silver Princess to her tastes, and with no regard for TSR’s mandate to make the game more kid-friendly. At one point in the module, players encounter a beautiful young woman hanging from the ceiling, naked, by her own hair. “Nine ugly men can be seen poking their swords lightly into her flesh, all the while taunting her in an unknown language,” the module reads. In-game, this scene turns out to be a simple magical illusion—but the accompanying illustration included in the module that TSR shipped to hobby shops nationally was not.

“A little bit of bondage here, a little torture there, worked its way into the Palace of the Silver Princess module,” Stephen Sullivan, a close friend of Wells and the adventure’s editor, told me. After it was properly reviewed—post-production—TSR’s executives went ballistic. Seventy-two hours after Palace of the Silver Princess was released, it was retracted.

“It was what Jean wanted it to be,” Sullivan said of the module. (Wells passed away in 2012.) “It was her baby. And for another place and another time, it probably would have been just perfect,” Sullivan said. Those retracted modules, now dubbed the “orange versions,” are buried somewhere under Lake Geneva’s flat, Midwestern landscape. It was soon rewritten by D&D designer Tom Moldvay and redistributed with Wells’ name relegated to the second credit.

(15) TOP NOVELS. Edmonton’s Hugo Award Book Club has been burning the midnight oil: here’s their discussion of two more nominees.

Second-Book Syndrome

Perhaps the book suffers from being the second in a trilogy. As such, it can’t have the originality and vigor of a first book and also can’t have as epic a conclusion as a third book.

Jemisin’s strength as a writer and deft social commentary make this a worthwhile read. Questions of race, class and gender are explored thoughtfully and with nuance. The characters speak with their own voices, and grow.

Alabaster’s slow decline as he tries to pass along knowledge to Essun, and Essun’s growing control of her magic could have been nothing more than a Hero’s Journey ™ like that of Obi-Wan and Luke. But Jemisin’s more nuanced character building elevates this relationship to something more touching and poignant.  Again, she raises the readers’ expectations as they progress through the book.

 The End Is Nigh Again

One of the recurring themes in “big” science fiction is the impending end of the world. In Death’s End, the end of the world is nigh on no fewer than six occasions, only to be averted suddenly through deux et machina each time.  The frequency of these calamities within the book, and how precipitously they are forgotten devalues them, and left our book group struggling to care.

The character of Cheng Xin is one of the weakest parts of the book, as none of us were really able to understand her motivations or her personality. She’s faced with conflict after conflict throughout the book, and presented with a wide variety of moral dilemmas, but through it all she remains a cypher.

In the previous two books the author wrote from several points of view other than the main character.

Death’s End focuses almost solely on Cheng Xin, with just a brief portion from Tianming’s perspective. This leaves other interesting characters — like Luo Ji and Wade — on the sidelines. The omission of their perspectives is a missed opportunity that points to the lack of depth in the book.

(16) HUGO QUIP. No reviews in this post this post by Camestros Felapton, but there’s a lively bon mot:

Best Series – the category that somehow manages to combine elements of both the protestant work ethic and Catholic guilt in one package.

(17) DARK TOWER. A new featurette from The Dark Tower – The Legacy of the Gunslinger.

There are other worlds than these. Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, the ambitious and expansive story from one of the world’s most celebrated authors, makes its launch to the big screen. The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim, also known as the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.

 

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Greg Hullender, Nigel, Cat Rambo, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Museum of Pop Culture 20th Anniversary SFF Hall of Fame Inductees

MoPOP in Seattle

MoPOP in Seattle

Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) has announced 24 new inductees to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame for 2016 year.

Creators:

  • Douglas Adams
  • Margaret Atwood
  • Keith David
  • Guillermo del Toro
  • Terry Gilliam
  • Jim Henson
  • Jack Kirby
  • Madeleine L’Engle
  • C.S. Lewis
  • H.P. Lovecraft
  • Leonard Nimoy
  • George Orwell
  • Terry Pratchett
  • Rumiko Takahashi
  • John Williams

Works:

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Blade Runner
  • Dungeons & Dragons
  • The Matrix
  • Myst
  • The Princess Bride
  • Star Trek
  • Wonder Woman
  • X-Files

Last spring, as part of its 20th anniversary celebration, the public was invited to nominate their favorite creators and works for the Hall of Fame. Twenty finalists were selected and the public was given a May 2016 deadline to vote, however, the results were never published, and the current class of inductees includes some who were not finalists, and omits others who were.

According to today’s press release:

Inductees were nominated by the public and selected by a panel of award-winning science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, editors, publishers, and film professionals. The 2016 committee included Jane Espenson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Torchwood), Cory Doctorow (Co-Editor, Boing Boing; Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom), Jen Stuller (Co-Founder, GeekGirlCon), Linda Medley (Castle Waiting), and Ted Chiang (Story of Your Life and Others).

A new exhibition commemorating the 20th anniversary Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, opening March 4, 2017, will invite visitors to explore the lives and legacies of the 108 current inductees through interpretive films, interactive kiosks, and more than 30 artifacts, including Luke Skywalker’s severed hand from George Lucas’ The Empire Strikes Back, the Staff of Ra headpiece from Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, author Isaac Asimov’s typewriter, and the “Right Hand of Doom” from Guillermo del Toro’s film Hellboy.

The Hall of Fame was previously shown as part of the Icons of Science Fiction exhibit when MoPOP was called the Experience Music Project Museum. Founded in 1996, the Hall of Fame was relocated from the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas to EMP in 2004.

Professor Muhammad Abd-al-Rahman Barker Dies

Professor Muhammad Abd-al-Rahman (MAR) Barker, retired University of Minnesota Professor, author, linguist, and Tékumel creator died March 16 at the age of  83. He was also a popular science fiction author who helped inspire the creators of Dungeons and Dragons.

His creation of the world of Tékumel over the course of 70 years,has been compared to Tolkien’s ‘Middle Earth’ in its sophistication and complexity. Barker was a Professor of Urdu and South Asian Studies at the University of Minnesota during the period when Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax were developing Tactical Studies Rules’ (TSR) first role-playing games in the Twin Cities and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

In 1975 Barker’s game Empire of the Petal Throne was the first role playing game published by TSR, Inc. following the release of Dungeons and Dragons.

Role playing games set in Tékumel, have been published every decade since the 1970’s, including the 1983 Swords and Glory, 1994’s Gardásiyal, and 2005’s Tékumel: Empire of the Petal Throne.

Beginning with Man of Gold in 1985 Barker published five novels, several game supplements, and a number of short stories set in Tékumel.

[Based on the press release. Thanks to Dan Goodman for the story.]

Crime and Punishment

Weekly World News reports that the Seventh Circuit upheld the warden’s order to a Wisconsin inmate — “No Dungeons & Dragons in Jail”!

He was told he could not have the materials because the game “promotes fantasy role playing, competitive hostility, violence, addictive escape behaviors, and possible gambling.”

Singer filed a federal lawsuit, saying the prison had violated his free speech and due process rights, but the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld the policy.

The decision read, “After all, punishment is a fundamental aspect of imprisonment, and prisons may choose to punish inmates by preventing them from participating in some of their favorite recreations.”

David Klaus, tongue in cheek, comments: “I guess Lee Gold had better not ever get arrested.” (Lee, of course, is the LASFSian who started a D&D apa, Alarums and Excursions, 35 years ago.)

David says the tabloids are always good for a laugh:

I saw my all-time favorite Weekly World News headline in a 7-Eleven on Duarte Rd. at the Arcadia/Monrovia border back in ’80 or ’81. It said, in all-capitals type big enough to fill the entire tabloid front page:

“AIR FORCE FIGHTER HAS DOGFIGHT WITH ARMED STARSHIP”

I should have bought a couple to pass around, I don’t know why I didn’t.