Pixel Scroll 10/17/19 Gosh, It’s Hard Enough To Get A Plumber Quickly On Earth, Imagine How Hard It Must Be In Orbit

(1) SFF FIGURES PART OF TAROT ART EXHIBIT. The KEEP Contemporary in Santa Fe, NM is hosting “Readings”, a group exhibition of four artists “whose work has been inspired by the guiding wisdom, karmic narrative and spiritual symbolism of Tarot cards.”

Featured artists include guest curator and illustrator Elizabeth Leggett along with other notable illustrators and painters including Lee Moyer, Sienna Luna and Reiko Murakami Rice. Exhibiting artists blend themes from Tarot with ideas from short stories, speculative fiction and fantasy writing in their own unique interpretation of the show’s theme.

John Scalzi purchased the card art about him:

(2) SFWA OFFICER TURNOVER. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has chosen James Beamon to take the place of a departing Director-at-Large. President Mary Robinette Kowal shared the news in “A Change in the Director-at-Large at SFWA”.

On October 2, Andy Duncan officially announced his resignation as Director-at-Large. He had told me some weeks earlier, but I asked him to stay on while we deliberated on a new officer. Andy has been invaluable to the board of SFWA. He has been a voice of reason and a well-spring of knowledge about the field of SFF.

I recruited him when I was on the elections committee and am very sorry to see him go. At the same time, I am deeply respectful of the need to take a break. I’m just grateful that he’s still willing to let me ask him questions.

Fortunately, SFWA had a robust field of people interested in running for office. The board unanimously voted to add James Beamon, who was one of the runners-up, to the board. James has agreed to serve the remainder of Andy’s term. James is both an indie novel author and writes short stories that have appeared in places such as Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine, Apex, and Lightspeed.

(3) LIBRARY STRIKES BACK. Publishers Weekly reports a “Major Public Library System Will Boycott Macmillan E-books”. The King County (WA) Library System, which is the nation’s top digital-circulating library, will stop buying new release Macmillan e-books once the publishers’ two-month embargo begins next month.

…In her note, [Librarian] Rosenblum acknowledged differing opinions among public library staff around the country on whether to boycott Macmillan e-books, and said King County’s decision was ultimately driven by two reasons: one “pragmatic” and the other “principled.”

As for the pragmatic side, Rosenblum explained that King County has pledged to readers to limit the wait time for any title to around 3 months. “Not allowing us to purchase multiple copies of an e-book for two months artificially lengthens the queue, triggering more of the same title to be purchased than would have occurred if we had been allowed to buy for the first two months,” she explains. “With an ever-increasing demand to buy a wide variety of digital titles, we do not think this is the best use of public funds.”

Rosenblum says the library will continue to buy print copies of Macmillan new releases (something Macmillan CEO John Sargent suggested libraries do in his memo announcing the new embargo policy) as well as new audiobooks (which are not embargoed), and perhaps even additional copies of e-books the library already owns, as needed. “My mantra has been if it is not embargoed, buy it,” Rosenblum said, when asked for comment by PW. “Our focus is not to punish Macmillan [when the publisher] provides us with timely access to [digital] materials,” she explained, “it is to address their embargo of new digital materials.”

The “principled” argument, Rosenblum says, is to send a message to other publishers that public libraries cannot accept limits on basic access. To do so, she writes, would “profoundly” change the public library….

(4) FUNNY HORROR NOVEL NEWS. Dark Moon Digest editor Max Booth III, in “Supernatural Crime Fiction—Is It Allowed To Be Funny?” on CrimeReads, lists ten funny horror novels and collections he likes, including works by Joe Lansdale (and his daughter), Elmore Leonard, and Sarah Gailey.

Sarah Gailey, Magic for Liars (2019)

Much to the disappointment of every other person with a Twitter account besides myself, I’ve never been a fan of the Harry Potter series. Any story utilizing the “chosen one” trope quickly puts me to sleep. There are better ways to plot a novel than relying on boring ol’ destiny. But, with that said, I’ve always been fascinated with the world-building in those books, and wondered how it would play out in more…realistic settings. Surely a high school for wizards would be occupied by a much larger majority of dickheads. The kinda dipshits who would use graffiti magic to permanently etch phrases like “SAMANTHA IS A SLUT” across lockers. But also: how would this world look under a noir lens? Something that sort of mashes together Harry Potter and Rian Johnson’s Brick? Thankfully, Sarah Gailey was kind enough to answer these questions of mine with her wonderful debut novel, Magic for Liars. Close your eyes and picture Chuck Palahiuk’s Philip Marlowe taking on a murder case inside Hogwarts. If you aren’t already trembling with excitement, you might be a lost cause.

(5) FOURTH AND FINAL. The Man In The High Castle returns for Season 4 on 11/15.

The final season of The Man in the High Castle will be rocked by war and revolution. The Resistance becomes a full-blown rebellion, driven by Juliana Crain’s (Alexa Davalos) visions of a better world. A new Black insurgent movement emerges to fight the forces of Nazism and imperialism. As empires teeter, Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido (Joel De La Fuente) will find himself torn between his duty to his country and the bonds of family. Meanwhile, Reichsmarschall John Smith (Rufus Sewell) will be drawn towards the portal the Nazis have built to another universe, and the tantalizing possibility of stepping through a gateway to the path not taken.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • October 17, 1937 — Huey, Dewey, and Louie first appeared in a comic strip.
  • October 17, 1937 The Shadow radio program aired “Murder By The Dead.” Orson Welles starred as Lamont Cranston and of course The Shadow. Welles stayed with the show for just a year. Agnes Moorehead was also in the cast as Margo Lane. You can hear it here.
  • October 17, 1987 — The Ferengi were “born” on this date when Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s “The Last Outpost” aired in syndication. This was Shimerman’s first appearance as a Ferengi though he had appeared on the series previously. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 17, 1886 Spring Byington. I like reaching back into the early years of cinema. Her appearance in Werewolf of London as Miss Ettie Coombes in 1935 is of that era. She would also appear in Batman as J. Pauline Spaghetti in “The Catwoman Goeth“ and “The Sandman Cometh” episodes. (Died 1971.)
  • Born October 17, 1913 Robert Lowery. Batman in 1949’s Batman and Robin. You can see the first part here. And he popped up in an episode of the Adventures of Superman. (Died 1971.)
  • Born October 17, 1914 Jerry Siegel. His most famous creation was Superman, which he created in collaboration with his friend Joe Shuster. He was inducted (along with the previously deceased Shuster) into the comic book industry’s Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1993. (Died 1996.)
  • Born October 17, 1921 Tom Poston. One of his acting first roles was The Alkarian (uncredited at the time ) in “The Mystery of Alkar” episode of Tom Corbett, Space Cadet in 1950. He much later had the recurring role of Mr. Bickley in Mork & Mindy. (Died 2007.)
  • Born October 17, 1926 Julie Adams. Her most famous role no doubt is being in the arms of The Creature from Black Lagoon. She also been on Alfred Hitchcock Presents three times, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. The Night GalleryKolchak: The Night Stalker, The Incredible Hulk and Lost all once. (Died 2019.)
  • Born October 17, 1934 Alan Garner, 85. His best book? That’d be Boneland whichtechnically is the sequel to The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath but really isn’t. Oh, and The Owl Service is amazing!
  • Born October 17, 1946 Bruce McAllister, 73. He’s a superb short story writer as you can see in The Girl Who Loved Animals and Other Stories that Golden Gryphon published originally and which Cemetery Dance has now in an ePub edition along with his two novels.  His Dream Baby novel is an interesting if brutal take on the Vietnam War. 
  • Born October 17, 1948 Margot Kidder. Lois Lane in the Superman film franchise that starred Christopher Reeve. Her first genre role however was Marcia Curtis in The Reincarnation of Peter Proud. I think her take as Kathy Lutz in The Amityville Horror is a much meatier acting role than her Superman role is. Speaking of horror, she’ll show up in Halloween II  as Barbara Collier. She did some of the usual genre one-offs in TV (Tales from the CryptThe Hunger and The Outer Limits to name but three) but her major role was voicing Rebecca Madison, the villain, in the animated Phantom 2040 series. (Died 2018.)
  • Born October 17, 1948 Robert Jordan. He is best known for the Wheel of Time series, which comprises fifteen books including a prequel novel. I must confess that so far I’ve resisted the urge to read this series, so put forth an argument as to why I should do so, please. It’s certainly considered a major work of fantasy. (Died 2007.)
  • Born October 17, 1949 Barclay Shaw,70. He has been nominated five times for the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist. He has painted more than 500 book and magazine covers, and his work includes more than 20 cover paintings for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The artist credits Ellison for giving him his start in the business when he invited him to paint cover illustrations for 16 paperback editions of his books
  • Born October 17, 1968 Mark Gatiss, 51. English actor, screenwriter, director, producer and novelist. Writer for Doctor Who; with Steven Moffat, whom Gatiss worked with on Doctor Who and Jekyll, he also co-created and co-produced Sherlock. As an actor, I’ll noted he does Vogon voices in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and is Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock.

(8) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman hopes listeners are ready to head to Dublin for brunch with Maura McHugh in Episode 107 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Maura McHugh and I first met during the 2007 Yokohama Worldcon, where I was introduced to her by former guest of the podcast Ellen Datlow as one of the students she’d met at Clarion West, which Maura had attended after receiving the Gordon R. Dickson Scholarship. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Jabberwocky, Doorways, Paradox, Goblin Fruit, and other magazines. She also writes comics, the most recent of which was The Dead Run, a five-issue Judge Anderson: PSI Division story for Judge Dredd Megazine. In 2015, she won Best Irish Writer of comic books in The Arcade Awards. She also published a book on Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me through the Midnight Movie Monograph series from Electric Dreamhouse Press and PS Publishing. Her most recent short story collection The Boughs Withered (When I Told Them My Dreams) launched at the Dublin Worldcon.

Maura and I discussed how the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop sometimes makes people realize they shouldn’t be writers (and why that can sometimes be a good thing), how having lived in both Ireland and the U.S. affected her life and her writing, whether her attraction to dark fiction was ever a choice, what it was like getting to create comics in the Judge Dredd universe, how she decides whether ideas that pop into her head get transformed into comics or prose, her recent art project inspired by the works of Simone de Beauvoir, why she doesn’t speak much about works in progress on social media, what she learned pulling together the selections for her first short story collection, why Twin Peaks fascinated her so much she wrote a book about the show — and much more.

(9) AN UNXPECTED PARTY. The New York Times observes, “Peter Jackson Has a Lot of Power in New Zealand. Some Say Too Much.”

Peter Jackson, the film director behind the “Lord of the Rings” series, is a towering figure in his native New Zealand, admired as both a down-to-earth titan of the box office and a one-man income generator for the country’s moviemaking and tourism industries.

But Mr. Jackson now finds himself at the center of a debate over how he has exerted that influence. This week, he helped catapult to victory a mayoral candidate who shared his opposition to a proposed development project near his studios, an unheard-of local political intervention in a country where money, fame and power are most often wielded lightly.

Mr. Jackson had been embroiled for months in a fight with Justin Lester, the first-term mayor of Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, over plans to build houses on a rugged peninsula in the city’s harbor. His opponent, Andy Foster, who had polled only in the single digits in previous mayor’s races, beat Mr. Lester by 503 votes on Saturday after receiving Mr. Jackson’s political and financial backing.

(10) NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME. “Google and BBC scrap VR projects”.

The BBC has disbanded the team it created to make virtual reality (VR) content, saying its funding has ended.

It comes as Google halts sales of its Daydream View headsets, admitting it does not see a future for smartphone-based VR.

There have been questions over the long-term future for the technology which has failed to become a mass market product.

One analyst said it could be several years before VR lived up to its hype….

…According to research firm IHS Markit, there will be 51 million consumer headsets in use around the world by 2023.

“Compared to mobile devices, this represents a niche audience so it is understandable the BBC is reconsidering its VR content strategy,” said analyst Piers Harding-Rolls.

(11) HALLOWEEN LIGHTS. Los Angeles’ Museum of Neon Art’s periodic Neon Cruise event on October 26 will be dubbed the Haunted by Neon Cruise.

Crawl aboard our double-decker “hearse” for a haunted ride as we explore the darker side of LA history…

Costumes are encouraged, so dress in your Halloween finest for a wickedly good time!

That will be in addition to the usual features —

Saturday Nights! JOIN US for a nighttime bus tour of neon signs, movie marquees and permanent installations of contemporary neon art through Downtown and Hollywood.

Developed by MONA beginning in 1985, this narrated tour points out neon’s aesthetic dimensions, placing them firmly within the context of 20th century Los Angeles cultural history. From the classic movie marquees of downtown Los Angeles’ theater district to the glittering lights of Hollywood and the glowing pagodas of Chinatown, you will see outstanding examples of contemporary neon art as well as innovative electrical advertising on this award-winning tour.

Jump on board the top deck of a convertible British bus and let your knowledgeable guide delight you with history and anecdotes about the urban electric jungle of L.A. Now in its 17th consecutive year, the Neon Cruise begins in the Historic Corridor of Downtown.

(12) A MILESTONE EVENT. NPR says “NASA’s First All-Female Spacewalk Set For Friday”.

The first all-female spacewalk in NASA’s 61-year history is finally happening and will even take place a few days ahead of schedule.

Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir, who were initially supposed to venture beyond the International Space Station on Oct. 21, are now slated to make their historic excursion this Friday. NASA announced the scheduling and other changes this week in light of issues with the space station’s battery charge-discharge unit, which Koch and Meir will replace. The International Space Station’s Twitter account tweeted Tuesday evening that the spacewalk will take place “no earlier than Friday,” updating NASA’s earlier announcement that it would happen either Thursday or Friday morning.

“We do anticipate that will stick,” NASA spokesperson Stephanie Schierholz told NPR in an email.

Friday’s spacewalk is set to begin at 7:50 a.m. EDT and last about 5 1/2 hours, according to NASA. The two astronauts will replace the faulty power regulator, which has been in operation since 2000 and failed to activate after new lithium-ion batteries were installed on the space station last week. NASA said the unit failure did not pose risks to any of the station’s operations, crew members, laboratory experiments or overall power supply. Still, the faulty unit prevents the new lithium-ion batteries from providing additional power to the station.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. in “Bless You!” on Vimeo, Paulina Ziolkowska explains the consequences of sneezing.

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

Pixel Scroll 8/16/19 Scrolls From Topographic Pixels

(1) CSF SPECIAL COLLECTIONS. David L. Ulin goes “Inside the archives — and mind — of sci-fi legend Philip K. Dick” for the LA Times. CSF’s sff collection originated with the work of Professor Willis McNelly.

…“The Man in the High Castle,” perhaps his most accomplished novel, is one of many works at Cal State Fullerton. The collection includes a “production manuscript” (a typescript with notes on fonts and chapter headings), as well as two sets of uncorrected galley proofs in long, loose sheets. “He was thirty-eight years old,” Dick writes of a character early on, “and he could remember the prewar days, the other times. Franklin D. Roosevelt and the World’s Fair; the former better world.”

To read those lines is like coming upon a precognition, a message to the present from the past. One of the clichés of science fiction is that it’s predictive, and yet, isn’t that the point of an archive such as this?

“We’re always collecting in the present for the future,” says Patricia Prestinary, Cal State Fullerton’s special collections librarian and archivist. “We look for connections. Philip K. Dick was a California writer, and late in his life, an Orange County writer. We’re preserving history in the making here.”

… In an essay written during the early 1990s, McNelly remembers receiving the manuscript of “Fahrenheit 451” from Ray Bradbury, as well as the Frank Herbert papers, which remain among the library’s most significant holdings.

(2) DUBLIN 2019 BUSINESS MEETING. “Dublin 2019 — WSFS Business Meeting Day 1” has a synopsis of the day’s machinations.

(3) AS IT HAPPENS. The Hugo Awards site has a post showing where to find August 18’s live text-based coverage of the 2019 Hugo Awards.

(4) THE NAME OF THE GAME. Did you wonder? “Why Are They Called the Hugo Awards?” At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Andrew Liptak explains it all to you:

The Hugo is the oldest and, by some measures, most prestigious award in the genre, and more often than not, the book that walks away with Best Novel honors will go on to withstand the test of time. (This year’s slate is certainly a promising one in that regard.)

(5) AO3. NPR’s All Things Considered ran a 4+-minute story: “‘Archive Of Our Own’ Fanfiction Website Is Up For A Hugo Award”.

The fanfiction website Archive of Our Own — where people post stories about their favorite movies, books and TV shows — is up for a Hugo Award, one of the highest awards in sci-fi and fantasy.

(6) IRISH FANDOM BACK IN THE DAY. David Langford has posted Hyphen 37 edited by Walt Willis as a free download at his Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund website (but feel free to contribute to TAFF while you’re there!)

The 1987 revival issue of the long-dormant classic fanzine Hyphen. With new and reprinted material by John Berry, Chuck Harris, Eric Mayer, Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Bob Shaw (twice), Bill Temple, Arthur Thomson, James White (with the famous “The Exorcists of IF”) and Walt Willis himself, plus further fannish luminaries including Robert Bloch, Chris Priest and Bob Tucker in a catch-up letter column whose contents date back to the 1960s.

Hyphen 37 is also available as a web page at eFanzines.com and page scans at Fanac.org.

(7) MY LITTLE FANDOM. 11,000 people come to bid farewell to the BronyCon series: “The Friends We Made Along The Way: After 9 Years, BronyCon Calls It Quits” at NPR.

On a sweltering Saturday in Baltimore, 11,000 bronies have claimed downtown. These are the fans of the TV show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, their name a mashup of “bro” and “pony” because many of the show’s earliest — and unanticipated — adherents were young men.

For nine years they’ve evangelized the show, and for nine years they’ve been targets of scorn. But they’ve come here for BronyCon — the biggest My Little Pony convention in the world — heedless of what that world may think of them.

That’s what brought me here, too. I’ve dodged the brony label for years, but I can’t deny my love for the show. It’s helped me out in dark times, and I wasn’t about to pass up my last chance to join fans at BronyCon. Friendship may be magic, but the magic is fading; the show has entered its ninth and final season, and after several years of dwindling attendance, the convention’s organizers decided it was time for a last hurrah.

The promise of a final party drew record crowds much as it attracted me. “Honestly, I’m shocked that we got to this point. We were not expecting to have such a banner year,” says current convention chair Shir Goldberg. “We were expecting the fandom to be excited and maybe we would double our attendance from last year, clocking at the seven- or eight-thousand range, but we did not expect 11,000 people to show up.”

(8) REASONS TO READ. James Davis Nicoll supplies “A Brief Introduction to Sarah Tolmie’s Speculative Fiction” at Tor.com.

I was a bit surprised when in a comment someone mentioned not having heard of Sarah Tolmie. In the spirit of XKCD’s Ten Thousand, let me explain at least a little about who Sarah Tolmie is, and why you should be reading her fiction.

An Associate Professor of English at the University of Waterloo, Tolmie won a 2019 Rhysling Award for “Ursula Le Guin in the Underworld”; the poem was also nominated for an Aurora. Her The Art of Dying was shortlisted for the 2019 Griffin Poetry Award. Unfortunately, poetry isn’t my thing, so let’s move on to prose…

(9) FONDA OBIT. Peter Fonda (1940-2019), US actor/producer/director, died August 16, aged 79. Genre appearances include Spirits of the Dead (1968), Future World (1976), Spasms (1983), Escape from L.A. (1996), Supernova (2005), Ghost Rider (2007), The Gathering (both episodes, 2007), Journey to the Centre of the Earth (2008).

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 16, 1884 Hugo Gernsback. Publisher of the first SF magazine, Amazing Stories in 1926. Also helped create fandom through the Science Fiction League. Writer of the Ralph 124C 41+ novel which most critics think is utterly dreadful but Westfahl considers “essential text for all studies of science fiction.” (Died 1967.)
  • Born August 16, 1901 Earle K. Bergey. Illustrator whose work graced Strange StoriesThrilling Wonder Stories, Startling Stories, Captain Future, and  Fantastic Story Magazine. It is said that his art inspired the look of illustrations of scantily-clad women served as an inspiration for Princess Leia’s slave-girl outfit in Return of the Jedi. And it is Madonna was inspired by his brass bras for stage outfit of the same look. (Died 1952.)

Startling Stories, Fall 1945 

  • Born August 16, 1930 Robert Culp. He’d make the Birthday Honors solely for being the lead in Outer Limits’ “Demon with a Glass Hand” which Ellison wrote specifically with him in mind. He would do two more appearances on the show, “Corpus Earthling” and “The Architects of Fear”. Around this time, he makes one-offs on Get Smart! and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. before being Special FBI Agent Bill Maxwell in The Greatest American Hero. Did you know there was a Conan the Adventurer series in the Nineties? Well he was King Vog in one episode. (Died 2010.)
  • Born August 16, 1933 Julie Newmar, 86. Catwoman in Batman. Her recent voice work includes the animated Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face, both done in the style of the Sixties show. They feature the last voice work by Adam West. Shatner btw plays Harvey Dent aka Two Face.  She was on the original Trek in the “Friday’s Child” episode as Eleen. She also has one-offs on Get Smart!, Twilight Zone, Fantasy IslandBionic WomanBuck Rogers in the 25th Century, Bewitched and Monster Squad
  • Born August 16, 1934 Diana Wynne Jones. If there’s essential reading for her, it’d be The Tough Guide to Fantasyland with a playful look at the genre. Then I’d toss in Deep Secret for its setting, and Fire and Hemlock for her artful merging of the Scottish ballads Tam Lin and Thomas the Rhymer. (Died 2011.)
  • Born August 16, 1934 Andrew J. Offutt. I know him through his stories in the Thieves’ World anthologies though I also enjoyed the Swords Against Darkness anthologies that he edited. I don’t think I’ve read any of his novels. (Died 2013.)
  • Born August 16, 1946 Lesley Ann Warren, 73. Miss Scarlett, a stock femme fatal, in Clue. She’s Dana Lambert in the fifth season of Mission Impossible. And she’s got one-offs on Twilight Zone, The Muppet Show, DaredevilFaerie Tale Theatre and Community.
  • Born August 16, 1952 Edie Stern, 67. Fancyclopedia 3 says about her that she is  “a well-known SF club, con, filker, collector and fanzine fan.” Well it actually goes on at impressive length about her. So I’m going to just link to their bio for her: Edie Stern.
  • Born August 16, 1954 James Cameron, 65. Let’s see… TerminatorAliensTerminator 2True LiesStrange Days… And The Abyss as well. Did you know he was interested in doing a Spider-man film? It never happened but the Dark Angel series with Jessica Alba did. And then there’s his Avatar  franchise… 
  • Born August 16, 1958 Angela Bassett, 61. Queen Ramonda in Black Panther and Avengers: Endgame. On the DC side of things, she played Amanda Waller in the dreadful Green Lantern film. 
  • Born August 16, 1971 Alan Tudyk, 48. Hoban “Wash” Washburne  in the Firefly universe whose death I’m still pissed about. Wat in A Knight’s Tale. (Chortle. Is it genre? Who cares, it’s a great film.)  He’s K-2SO in Rogue One and yes, he does both the voice and motion capture. Impressive. He also had a recurring role on Dollhose as Alpha, and he’s currently voicing a number of characters in the Young Justice series streaming on DC Universe.

(11) LIBRARY EBOOKS. At Publishers Weekly, Joseph Janes ponders, “Do Publishers Suddenly Hate Libraries?”

… In the wake of Toni Morrison’s passing, her story about why she was fired from a library job as a teenager has been making the rounds. To summarize: instead of reshelving all the returned books, she read them. “That experience opened my eyes and shaped my future,” Morrison said. “That’s what libraries do.”

Yes. That’s what libraries do. So why is it now seen as a good strategy for publishers to choke off digital access to reading in libraries? Especially at a moment when so many diverse, fresh new voices are emerging in popular literature, and when so many other digital (often free) mediums are competing for the attention of readers and would-be authors, à la the teenage Toni Morrison?

Part of the problem, of course, is that the library e-book market is still fairly new. It’s been just over eight years since HarperCollins announced its 26-loan limit on library e-books, a halting attempt at thinking through the library e-book market that initially raised hackles among many librarians before cooler heads largely prevailed. And it took until the end of 2014 for the other major publishers, using a variety of models, to jump into the library e-book market. But whatever market equilibrium libraries and publishers had reached a few years ago now looks more like a fragile armistice than peace. And whatever it was, it appears to be ending, leaving us all to wonder, What happens now? How do we move forward?

(12) LET JUSTICE BE DONE. Ohio Needs A Train registers some last-minute opinions about who The Rightful Winners of “The 2019 Hugo Awards” should be. And the Campbell Award, too –

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Everyone here has done pretty good work and, it seems, is destined to do even more. Jeannette Ng is perhaps the least to my taste 2 of these folks, but she’s still not undeserving. Katherine Arden certainly earns full marks for showing up fully-formed and remarkably prolific. While I haven’t read all of the Winternight books, I liked The Bear and the Nightingale just fine. She also writes young people books, which I have not read but am told are excellent. R.F. Kuang is previously covered in this space 3, and I maintain the opinion that The Poppy War is a tremendous display of talent that I absolutely did not like, although I do look forward to what she writes in the future, given that she’s as good as she is already. Rivers Solomon wrote An Unkindness of Ghosts which is a terrific generation ship novel, and I’m super-excited about what happens next from her. It must be noted, however, that I thought Vina Jie-Min Prasad was the rightful choice last year, and her work this year has only gotten better, so I still think it should be Vina Jie-Min Prasad.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Vina Jie-Min Prasad

(13) RETRO FIRE. Cora Buhlert delivers a trenchant appraisal of the winners in “Some Comments about the 1944 Retro Hugo Awards Winners” – though this paragraph seems a bit paradoxical:

…“R is for Rocket” by Ray Bradbury takes home a highly deserved Retro Hugo, because it is a great story that still holds up in spite of dated tech, though I’m a bit sad that “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper” by Robert Bloch, which is not just a great story, but also the start of the modern fascination of serial killers in general and Jack the Ripper in particular, only finished in fourth place behind two lesser works by big names. I also wonder why “Death Sentence” by Isaac Asimov finished in second place, because – and I’m saying this as an Asimov fan – it is a weak story, which hasn’t even been reprinted in ages. Did anybody except for me actually read the Retro Hugo finalists or do they just vote by name recognition?

(14) FIRST DRAFT. “Leonardo da Vinci’s abandoned and hidden artwork reveals its secrets” (with overlays showing the original design).

New research into one of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous works has revealed fresh information about an abandoned composition hidden under the painting.

Experts have found initial designs for the angel and infant Christ beneath the surface of the Virgin of the Rocks.

The designs are significantly different to how they look in the final painting, which hangs in the National Gallery.

The hidden designs were revealed using macro X-ray fluorescence maps and infrared and hyperspectral imaging.

(15) SUBTEXT. Can you imagine? (Of course you can.) Let BBC tell you about “The subversive messages hidden in The Wizard of Oz”.

It’s easy to mistake the 1939 classic as traditional family entertainment – but 80 years on from its release, the musical is more radical and surreal than ever.

In December 1937, Walt Disney Productions released its first feature-length cartoon, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It went on to be cinema’s biggest hit of 1938, a success that not only encouraged Disney to make other fairy-tale cartoons for decades to come, but also encouraged another studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, to try its own fantasy musical about an orphaned girl and a wicked witch: The Wizard of Oz.

But for all of its similarities to the Disney film, MGM’s version was more of an anti-fairy tale than a fairy tale. Just look at the trio of frightened and feeble misfits that accompanies its heroine along the yellow brick road. None of them is what you’d call a handsome prince. In the clanking of the Tin Man’s rusty limbs, you can hear echoes of Don Quixote’s home-made armour. In the trio’s moaning and blubbing as they prepare to sneak into the witch’s castle, you can see a foreshadowing of Westley, Inigo and Fezzik invading Humperdinck’s castle in The Princess Bride. The pig-tailed Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) is so wholesome, the Harburg and Arlen songs are so delightful, and the Technicolor adventures are so exciting that it’s still easy to mistake The Wizard of Oz for traditional family entertainment, 80 years on from its release in August 1939. But it upends the conventions of good-v-evil storytelling in ways that would have had Walt Disney fuming….

In the sepia opening scenes, we are warned that the magic we’re about to see might not be wholly magical. Having run away from her home in Kansas to stop her pet dog Toto being put down, Dorothy meets a travelling clairvoyant named Professor Marvel (Frank Morgan) – a character who isn’t in L Frank Baum’s source novel, but was created by screenwriters Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf. As kindly as he is, the professor is a con artist who pretends to be psychic by peeking at a photo Dorothy is carrying. Another film might have contrasted this earthbound huckster with the genuine marvels performed by the wonderful Wizard of Oz, but in this one the wizard is played by the same actor as Professor Marvel, and he turns out to be much the same character: a fast-talking fairground showman who hides behind a curtain, waggling levers, and using mechanical trickery to keep his subjects loyal and afraid.

(16) RISING TIDE. Naragansett Beer is the creepiest!

“That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die.” -HP Lovecraft

After years of sleeping beneath the surface, Lovecraft Honey Ale has risen from the depths of R’lyeh to bring chaos and madness to Rhode Island – just in time for NecronomiCon Providence.

 [Thanks to Lis Riba, Steve Green, Daniel Dern, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jeff Smith.]

Pixel Scroll 10/17/17 If I Have Scrolled Further Than Others, It Is Because I Stood On The Pixels Of Filers

(1) NOW YOU KNOW. Ron Howard says the movie will be called Solo: A Star Wars Story.

(2) ATOMIC AGE LORE. Tony Rothman kicks off his American Scientist article “The Forgotten Mystery of Inertia” with – of all things – a Worldcon anecdote.

In days of yore, at a World Science Fiction Convention in Boston, a Harvard graduate student polished his reputation as a brilliant mad scientist by roaming the convention halls, brandishing what at first glance appeared to be a rather peculiar steel bowling ball. Portholes perforated its surface, providing a glimpse of electronic hardware inside; tangled wires sprouted from the same holes, and a gear train surrounded the mysterious object’s equator.

“What’s that?” I asked him.

“It’s the gyro platform for an intercontinental ballistic missile,” he replied. “If you put it on a Titan rocket, it will fly to Kiev.”

“How do you know?”

“It’s an inertial guidance system, stupid. It knows where Kiev is.”

“I know how inertial guidance systems work, but how do you know it knows where Kiev is?”

“Oh, that. It was stamped on the box.”

This sorcerer’s apprentice had discovered that for $900 you could buy a surplus intercontinental ballistic missile, 10 years before the electronics were declassified. His Titan was delivered on two railway cars, “Kiev Titan Missile” stamped on the crates. He junked the body, donated the engines to an art museum, and saved the electronics for his research. A tall tale? Sounds like one, but the gyro platform was there for all to see.

That is the question. At what, exactly, is the gyroscope pointed? According to the law of inertia, objects tend to continue doing what they’ve been doing: If at rest, they remain at rest; if moving, they continue moving at the same speed in the same direction. The gyroscope also bends to inertia’s will, but in confounding ways. Touch it, and the gyro opposes you by veering in unexpected directions. If it is spinning extremely rapidly, the gyroscope remains rigidly locked in the direction it has been set, its sights fixed on…Kiev—hence the term inertial guidance systems. If a rocket veers off the gyro’s fixed course, a sensor detects the error, and a servomechanism realigns the missile with the gyroscope axis.

Was that Russell Seitz? When I first got into fandom that was the story going around about him, of which the following is one version:

In the late 70’s, when most of our nuclear arsenal was converted from liquid to solid fuel, the U.S. Government auctioned off a number of obsolete missile silos and their contents. Mostly the silos got bought by local farmers who converted them for grain storage. I only know what happened to one of the missiles. It was offered at sealed bid auction and a friend of mine, Russell Seitz, bought it. When you bid on something like this, you have to send in a check for 10% of your bid as a deposit. He looked at his bank account, and figured he could spare about $300 that month, so that’s what he sent. When he discovered that he’d won the bid, he had to scrounge up the rest. Now the buyer must pick up the goods himself, but he can request that his purchase be delivered, at government expense, to the nearest military base. Being an undergraduate at M.I.T. at the time, he had the missile shipped to Hanscom Airforce Base, about 12 miles away. He then arranged for a truck, and donated the missile to a local modern art museum (I forget which one). Tax laws were a little different in those days, and if you donated something to an art museum, you could deduct not the just the purchase price, but the original value of the object, which was considerable. Income averaging allowed him to spread the “loss” out over a number of years so that he didn’t have to pay taxes for a long time! He was legendary at M.I.T. for quite a while, and acquired the nickname “Missile” Seitz.

(3) ED KRAMER BACK IN THE NEWS. Ed Kramer, Dragon Con founder and convicted sex offender, has sued the producers of The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway, claiming they owe him for his work in creating and developing the program. The Huffington Post has the story: “Sex Offender Claims Responsibility For Natalee Holloway TV Series”.

Just when it seemed the Natalee Holloway case couldn’t get more peculiar, HuffPost has uncovered another twist in the teenager’s 2005 disappearance: A registered sex offender is claiming responsibility for a recent television series about the mystery.

Edward Kramer is suing producers of “The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway,” a TV series that began in August on the Oxygen Network, alleging he is “co-owner, developer and writer,” according to his lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in California. Kramer wants unspecified “just compensation” for his work, plus punitive damages.

Kramer’s personal website claims:

Edward E. Kramer is the creator and developer of the six-part series, The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway for Brian Graden Media (BGM) and NBC Universal’s newly re-branded Oxygen Crime Network. This landmark series, featuring Dave Holloway and Private Investigators T. J. Ward, Kathy Wainscott, Trace Sargent and Eric Bryant, Detective Frank Karic and Forensic Scientist Jason Kolowski, which finally puts to rest the 2005 murder of Natalee Holloway.

The defendants in the lawsuit, Brian Graden Media and Lipstick Inc., filed an answer to the suit, denying they owe anything to Kramer.

He wasn’t “named as a writer, screenwriter, or co-creator,” they said, and was working as an “employee or agent of T.J. Ward,” a private investigator who appeared on the series with Holloway’s father, Dave Holloway.

Read a copy of the original lawsuit filing and the defendants’ answer here.

(4) MARVEL EXEC’S COMICS COLLECTION LOOTED. Marvel’s Joe Quesada is looking for help to recover or reacquire comics and other art stolen from his collection. He gives the background in a long public post on Facebook, leading up to recent discoveries of his artwork for sale, and the arrest of the culprit.

In early June I was contacted by a longtime friend, he was looking at some comic art auctions and was curious as to why I was auctioning a piece that he knew was part of my personal collection and something I would never, ever sell. He sent me a link where I discovered 24 pieces in total from my private collection up for auction including pieces I did long before I was a working professional. While at the moment I’m not at liberty to give the details, investigating this further it turns out that the artwork that was up for auction was all originally purchased from a Mr. Francesco Bove.

Further investigation uncovered that, since the time he was thrown out of my house, at least 185 more pieces of my stolen art were sold at auction and all of it originally purchased directly from Mr. Bove. That’s 185 pieces, sold and gone! How much more was sold privately is unknown at the moment but I’m not feeling optimistic.

So why is this news breaking now? As the case was being investigated the Detective in charge discovered Mr. Bove had left the country and had gone to Italy. Upon his return he was arrested which brings us to right now. From what I know so far it’s believed that Mr. Bove has sold portions of my art to comic shops, dealers and collectors in Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, as well as parts of Long Island and New Jersey. It could be wider spread than that but I’m not at liberty to say.

And here’s the thing that keeps me up at night. These were pieces that I was never intending to sell, art that had deep personal meaning to every member of my family. There was an enormous collection of Archie art from various artists like Stan Goldberg, Harry Lucey, Sam Schwartz but the majority of it by Dan DeCarlo. There were also Laugh Comics pages by Bill Woggon, The Adventures Of Pipsqueak by Walt Lardner as well as Pat The Brat and Shrimpy by Joe Harold and a huge assortment of other artists from the 50s and 60s to today. I lost pages of my own professional art as well as art I purchased from dear and talented friends. But what stings the most is that Mr. Bove took artwork that I had discovered many years ago stored in my father’s home after he had passed away. Drawings and paintings I did in elementary school, high school and college. Practice sample pages I had done before ever seriously thinking I could be in comics. This was art I was leaving behind for my daughter just as my father had left it for me. It kills me to think that I’ll never get this stuff back now that it’s been scattered to the four winds perhaps bought and sold more times than I care to imagine… or possibly even destroyed. So yes, heartbreak after heartbreak. Not only was the thief someone who I trusted, allowed into my home and helped during rough times, but the items he stole in order to keep himself afloat once he realized he irreversibly burned his bridge with me were the ones most irreplaceable and of personal importance.

Now here’s the part where I could use your help.

While I’m hopeful that now in custody Mr. Bove may lead the Detectives to the people and locations where he sold the art, perhaps some of you reading this might be able to point the Sparta New Jersey Police Department in the right direction. If you’ve purchased any art from Mr. Francesco Bove and have it in your possession or know someone who does please contact

Det. Jeffrey McCarrick at (973) 726-4072

Or the Sparta New Jersey Police Department spartanj.org or on their FB page https://www.facebook.com/sparta.police/

You can also reach out to me here on FB as well. Please know that I understand completely that this was sold under false pretenses and I fault no one for not knowing that. All I want is to retrieve as much of the art as I possibly can especially the attached Dan DeCarlo cover for Archie #322 which means the world to me and my family. Unfortunately it has been sold at least twice over that I’m aware of but if you know where I can find it I will gladly purchase it back.

(5) BOOTS ON THE GROUND. The Planetary Society reports on the first meeting of the newly reconstituted National Space Council in “We choose to go to the Moon and do the other things”.

Returning to the Moon

The biggest news to come out of today’s meeting was [Vice President] Pence’s authoritative declaration that Americans will return to the lunar surface.

“We will return American astronauts to the Moon, not only to leave behind footprints and flags, but to build the foundation we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond,” Pence said.

This wasn’t unexpected, considering prior statements by Pence, other administration officials, and the backgrounds of space council executive secretary Scott Pace, and NASA administrator nominee Jim Bridenstine.

Very few details were given on how a return to the lunar surface would work, or when it would occur. Pence did not say whether the Americans on the surface would be government or commercially-employed astronauts. And the agency’s exploration goals already include a return to lunar space via the Deep Space Gateway, a small space station in lunar orbit, which would provide a test-bed for closed-loop life support, deep space maneuvering, and other technologies necessary for travel to Mars.

In a statement, NASA acting administrator Robert Lightfoot said the agency has “highlighted a number of initiatives underway in this important area (cislunar space), including a study of an orbital gateway or outpost that could support a sustained cadence of robotic and human missions.” That implies the Deep Space Gateway is still on the table, and could theoretically fit within the broad plans outlined by Pence.

The fate of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion crew capsule have been a perennial point of discussion among space advocates, particularly during the transition to this new, business-friendly administration. Though it wasn’t stated explicitly, today’s discussions seemed to assume the continuation of SLS and Orion, at least for now. The programs have always had strong congressional support, and were intended to be destination-agnostic, both by design and congressional directive. NASA can thus shift its focus without a drastic restructuring of its major hardware programs.

(6) TAKE A SHOWER. Space.com tells you — “Orionid Meteor Shower 2017: When, Where & How to See It”.

One of the year’s best sky shows will peak between Oct. 20 and 22, when the Orionid meteor shower reaches its best viewing. The meteors that streak across the sky are some of the fastest and brightest among meteor showers, because the Earth is hitting a stream of particles almost head on.

The particles come from Comet 1P/Halley, better known as Halley’s Comet. This famous comet swings by Earth every 75 to 76 years, and as the icy comet makes its way around the sun, it leaves behind a trail of comet crumbs. At certain times of the year, Earth’s orbit around the sun crosses paths with the debris.

(7) NOTABLE SIGNATURES. Michael Burstein posted copies of some historic letters his grandfather received from Einstein, Teller and Isaac Asimov.

Among other things, my grandfather Rabbi Abraham Burstein was secretary of the Jewish Academy of Arts and Sciences. One of his tasks was reaching out to various luminaries to see if they would be interested in joining the academy. Sometimes he reached out to people whom he knew were Jewish but who might not be very public about it; joining the academy was a way to express solidarity without becoming too public. From what I understand, the academy had annual meetings with speakers.

I do not know what was in the letters my grandfather sent out to these three recipients, but we can see what they said back.

The earliest letter is from Albert Einstein, dated June 7, 1936. The next letter is from Edward Teller, dated December 21, 1962. The last letter is from Isaac Asimov, dated October 21, 1965.

(8) HONOR AN AUSTRALIAN SFF CONTRIBUTOR. The A. Bertram Chandler Award is calling for nominations.

So why is a person awarded this honour?  It’s because the recipient has demonstrated over many years untiring commitment and selfless work within Australian fandom or the Aussie SF scene in general.  Work such as convention running, local club activities, publishing, writing of merit in the genre whether that be blogs, fanzines, short stories or novels, artistic endeavours such painting, graphics or other such forms.  The criteria is not limited to any one activity; but mostly it is for activities that are visible and evident to the Aussie SF community.

So, do you know someone who has made a significant contribution to Australian science fiction and/ or Australian fandom, not just over the last year, but year in, year out? Feel that they should be honoured / recognised for this work? Then why not nominate them for the A Bertram Chandler Award. It is really easy to do: just write to the ASFF and outline why you think that the person is deserving of the award.  No forms to fill out, no entrance fee, nothing but a simple few paragraphs outlining the person’s achievements.

For more information about the A Bertram Chandler Award and the Australian Science Fiction Foundation visit our website ( www.asff.org.au )

To nominate a worthy person, send to awards@asff.org.au

(9) EBOOK TIDE RECEDING? A Wall Street Journal blogger relates what publishers had to say at the Frankfurt Book Fair in “Book Publishers Go Back to Basics”.

Book publishers are giving an advance review of the industry’s future, and it looks a lot like the past. After a decade of technological upheaval and lackluster growth, executives at the top four U.S. consumer book publishers say they are done relying on newfangled formats to boost growth.

It has been nearly 10 years since Amazon.com Inc. introduced its Kindle e-book reader amid the financial crisis, destabilizing publishers and challenging their well-honed business models.

Now, e-book sales are on the decline, making up a fraction of publishers’ revenue, and traditional book sales are rising. The consumer books industry is enjoying steady growth in the U.S., with total revenue increasing about 5% from 2013 to 2016, according to the Association of American Publishers.

Executives gathered in Frankfurt for the industry’s biggest trade fair said they are returning to fundamentals: buying and printing books that readers want to buy—and they are streamlining their businesses to get them out faster than ever before.

It is about “knowing what [readers] want,” said Markus Dohle, chief executive of Bertelsmann SE and Pearson PSO -1.91% PLC’s joint venture Penguin Random House, “to drive demand at scale.”

The shift is a surprise reversal for an industry that experts just a decade ago predicted was facing radical change, if not a slow death, because of digitization and changing reading habits. Instead, e-book sales in the U.S. were down about 17% last year, according to the AAP industry group, while printed book revenue rose 4.5%.

…Mr. Murray blamed flagging e-book sales on “screen fatigue,” and said HarperCollins was upping investment in printed books, “the value anchor” for the entire business. Printed books are “more beautiful now,” he said. “You’ll see endpapers [and] a lot more design sensibility going into the print editions because we recognized that they can’t be throwaway.”

(10) IT’S THE PRICE. Amanda S. Green’s opinion about the above news is that trad publishers constantly talk around the real obstacle to e-book sales, which she identifies in “The delusions continue” at Mad Genius Club.

…Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy claims that nothing “went wrong” with e-books. It seems she believes people have gotten tired of reading on their screens. Again, a complete disconnect from reality. People don’t want to pay as much — or more — for an e-book as they will for a print copy. But the laugh out loud moment comes further down in the article when Reidy says she firmly believes “a new version of the book based on digital delivery will come eventually, though she does not know what it might look like.”

Blink.

Blink. Blink.

Hmm, wouldn’t that be an e-book? The bells and whistles might be a bit different, but it if walks like a duck and quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, isn’t it a duck?

And what about her argument that e-book sales have leveled off because we are tired of reading on our screens?

It constantly amazes me the way these folks continue to tie themselves into knots trying to explain how e-books are bad, or are a passing fad or a way for writers not good enough for traditional publishing to get their works into the hands of readers. All I know is that the real numbers, the numbers that look at more than the Big 5 titles, tell a different tale. As a reader, I know I find myself picking up more and more books from indie authors because they are writing stories I want to read and they are doing it at prices that allow me to read two or three or more books for the price of a single Big 5 title. When is the point going to come where an accountant who isn’t afraid of rocking the boat says they can actually sell more — and make more money — if they lower their prices to something reasonable?

(11) SPLATTERPUNK AWARD SEEKS NOMINATIONS. As announced recently on Episode 136 of The Horror Show with Brian Keene, the SplatterPunk awards are now taking nominations for works of horror.  The categories are:

  • BEST NOVEL (for works of more than 50,000 words)
  • BEST NOVELLA (for works from 15,000 to 50,000 words)
  • BEST SHORT STORY (for works from 500 to 14,000 words)
  • BEST COLLECTION (for single-author works over 50,000 words)
  • BEST ANTHOLOGY (for multiple-author collections over 50,000 words)

Anyone registered to attend next year’s KillerCon is eligible to nominate.  Early registration is $89.99 until the end of 2017.  Registration is capped at 250 attendees.

Dann sent the link along with an observation, “The nomination form is a little unusual in that there is only one space provided for a nomination.  The attendee is supposed to indicate the appropriate category in one box and the work being nominated in a second box.  It isn’t clear how an attendee is supposed to nominate works in more than one category.”

Guests of honor at next year’s Killer Con include Brian Keene, Edward Lee, and Lucy Taylor.  Special Guests include author Matt Shaw and freelance editor Monica J. O’Rourke.

The 2018 Splatterpunk Awards jurors are David J. Schow, Gerard Houarner, Monica J. O’Rourke, Mike Lombardo, and Tod Clark.

The Founders of the SplatterPunk Awards, Wrath James White and Brian Keene, will select the Lifetime Achievement Award winner.

(12) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 17, 1937: Huey, Dewey, and Louie (Donald Duck’s nephews) first appeared in a comic strip.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born October 17, 1914 – Jerry Siegel, co-creator of Superman.
  • Born October 17 – Michael J. Walsh, publisher, Old Earth Books, and former Worldcon chair (1983)

(14) THE NEIGHBORS’ HALLOWEEN DISPLAY. That would be a two-story tall Star Wars Imperial Walker —  “‘The Force’ is strong in Parma as residents unveil towering Star Wars’ robot”.

Everyone wants to see Nick Meyer’s latest Halloween decoration.

“That is an imperial armored transporter from (‘Star Wars: Episode V – The) Empire Strikes Back,’” said Meyer.

Star Wars’ fans would know the official name for the towering rover: an AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport).

Seven years ago, Meyer and his family started the tradition of building a Halloween display in the front yard.

“I love it, I encourage it,” said Nick’s wife Becky Meyer.

It gets bigger every year.

“I liked the clowns we did one year. Last year we did ‘Friday the 13th’ cabin, that was one of my favorites,” Becky said. “Last year was pretty awesome, and he topped it,” said next door neighbor, Amber Johnson.

One would think some neighbors might not want to stare at a two-story Star Wars robot for a few weeks, you’d be wrong.

“No, this is our fourth year living next door to them, and we love it,” Johnson said.

(15) IN MEMORY YET GRAY. Lawrence Schoen asks the inevitable question of Vivian Shaw, author of Strange Practice, in “Eating Authors: Vivian Shaw”.

LMS: Welcome, Vivian. What’s your most memorable meal?

VS: If you’d asked me this two years ago, I would have had no difficulty whatsoever in coming up with the best meal I’d ever eaten. That was in 2004, in Chicago, the same day I met Scott McNeil and George Romero: I was at a Transformers convention and decided to take myself to an actual steakhouse for an actual steak, and I can still so clearly remember the gorgeous rich mineral taste of that first-ever filet mignon, the way it almost dissolved in my mouth. The vivid greenness of the two asparagus spears on the plate, the peppery kick of the Shiraz that accompanied it — even thirteen years later it’s incredibly easy to recall.

(The most memorable, however, was the time on British Airways in the 1990s where for reasons known only to themselves somebody had decided to add bits of squid to the fruit salad. Memorable doesn’t equal pleasant.)

(16) LECKIE’S PROVENANCE Camestros Felapton reviews the new novel Provenance by Ann Leckie.

The people of Hwae (or at least the high-ranking ones) obsess over social status in a way that the Radch obsesses over rank (and tea). Central to this cult-like obsession is the veneration of ‘vestiges’ – artifacts that demonstrate the age of a family and possible connections to historical events. Vestiges can be anything from physical objects to letters and postcards or ticket stubs.

When we first meet Ingray she is off planet, embroiled in a scheme that is within her cognitive capacity to execute but for which she is not temperamentally prepared. As events unfold, a prison break, stolen spaceships, a murder of foreign dignitary and an invasion plot unfold around Ingray in a story that has elements of a mad-cap caper along side space-opera and Leckie’s trademark examination of the potential variety of human culture.

Above all Ingray is an honest person caught in a story in which most people she meets (both the good and the bad) are liars. This is such a clever trick by Leckie, as she manages to encapsulate Ingray very quickly as a character very early in the book, while giving her a backstory that gives her reasons to attempt a devious scheme (returning a notorious exiled criminal/disgraced vestige keeper to Hwae to embarrass her parent’s political rival). Ingray’s basic niceness wins her some useful allies and her naturally bravery pushes her further into the events.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Andrew Finch tells the inspiration for his short film Others Will Follow.

But Why?

Thanks for watching, Others Will Follow was inspired by this speech written for President Nixon to deliver in the event that the Apollo 11 astronauts were stranded on the moon. Fortunately they never used it, so I figured I would. NASA has parked its space ships in museums in the decades since the contingency speech was written. Most humans alive today didn’t exist the last time humanity left low earth orbit. I wanted to make something that would outline the importance of human space flight by imagining a brute-force mission to Mars in the early 2000s that, despite disastrous circumstances still manages to pass the torch of inspiration. I spent 4.5 years making this short and attempted to do every aspect of its creation myself, from pyrotechnics to music composition. Many of the disciplines were completely new to me like designing and building the space ship and constructing the space suit, others like VFX and cinematography I had a background in.

The lone survivor of the first mission to Mars uses his last moments to pass the torch of inspiration.

Making of: Others Will Follow

VFX Breakdowns and funny funny stuff from the set of Others Will Follow

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mark-kitteh, Dann, Michael J. Walsh, Steve Davidson, Cat Eldridge, Andrew, and Rose Mitchell for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brad J.]

Sawyer in New BookBale Bundle

Through November 30 you can name your own price (so long as it’s at least $2.99) for a BookBale ebook bundle with these six novels —

  • Climbing Olympus by Kevin J. Anderson
  • The Jesus Incident by Frank Herbert & Bill Ranson
  • Future Perfect by Nancy Kress
  • The Elvenbane by Mercedes Lackey & Andre Norton
  • Birthright: The Book of Man by Mike Resnick
  • Starplex by Robert J. Sawyer

StarplexRobert J. Sawyer says it’s the first time ever that Starplex has been available as an ebook, and that will last only until the end of November.

Those willing to pay $10 or more for the bundle will get two bonus books, Citizen of the Galaxy by Heinlein and The Hemingway Hoax by Haldeman.

All books are in both Mobi (Kindle) and ePub (Kobo, Nook, Sony, etc.) formats, and are DRM-free.

[Thanks to Robert J. Sawyer for the story.]

Baen Ebooks Also Being Sold Through Sony

Ebook pioneer Baen Books is making its ebooks available through Reader Store from Sony for the first time beginning August 9, 2013.

Baen Books has sold its own ebooks for over 13 years at its retail site, Baenebooks.com. These ebooks have always been totally free of digital rights restrictions. 

The move to third-party distribution is relatively new territory for Baen, which has built a name for itself in the ebook arena with an innovative e-Advanced Reading Copy program and limited time monthly discount bundles.  These programs will continue, according to Toni Weisskopf, Baen Publisher.

“We are excited for the chance to work with Sony. Now it will be easier than ever to download your favorite Weber, Ringo, or Correia ebook to your ebook reader,” says Toni Weisskopf, Baen Publisher. “The DRM-free model will not change, and you can be sure we will always maintain our famous ebook pioneering spirit and customer-first orientation.”

Harry Potter’s Sales Wizardry

Pottermore.com sold £3 million worth of Harry Potter books in its first month reports The Bookseller.com. The store went online March 27 and rang up £1 million of sales in its first three days of operation.

The books are sold DRM-free. A spokesman for Pottermore said piracy has diminished since an initial increase because “the community had rejected these illegal versions.” Translation: Piracy hasn’t been stopped, but customers will buy from the legitimate source if they like the price and the platform is easy to use.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Tor’s DRM-atic Announcement

Tom Doherty Associates, publishers of Tor, Forge, Orb, Starscape, and Tor Teen, will make their entire list of e-books DRM-free by July. The imprints had a combined 30 New York Times bestsellers in 2011.

Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies are designed to give the seller control over the transferability of content after it has been delivered to the consumer. E-books in the Amazon Kindle format, for example, are readable on that company’s devices, but not those of its rivals. DRM is justified as an anti-piracy measure.

“Our authors and readers have been asking for this for a long time,” said president and publisher Tom Doherty. “They’re a technically sophisticated bunch, and DRM is a constant annoyance to them. It prevents them from using legitimately-purchased e-books in perfectly legal ways, like moving them from one kind of e-reader to another.”

Cory Doctorow on Boing Boing reacted by breezily predicting –

[More] to follow, I’m sure; I’ve had contact with very highly placed execs at two more of the big six publishers…

On the other hand, Laura Hazard Owen at CNN Money questions whether Macmillan itself, the big company that owns Tor, will adopt this policy across the board  —

One should not necessarily infer, from the changes at Tor, that Macmillan is close to dropping DRM across all of its imprints. This decision could be related to competition within the genre (sci-fi/fantasy publishers Baen and Angry Robot are also DRM-free) or to Doherty’s specific role at Macmillan.

Presumably, John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan, who made the final decision to drop DRM on ebooks from Tor/Forge (according to Charles Stross) will watch how it plays out.

A move affecting only the sf/fantasy market still benefits fans wanting the freedom to store and manage their ebook collections on any device they choose.

One of Tor’s top authors, John Scalzi, is in favor of the change. He thinks DRM is an unnecessary impediment to sales. 

Does this mean it’s easier for someone to violate my copyright? It does. But most people don’t want to violate my copyright. Most people just want to own their damn books. Now they will. I support that.

Charles Stross has posted arguments he was invited to make to Macmillan brass about the decision to drop DRM. He admits DRM makes no difference to those who buy a few top bestsellers a year, however, he told execs it makes a big difference to some of the most devoted book buyers.

The voracious 20-150 books/year readers are a small but significant market segment. These people buy lots of titles. They frequently have specialized interests which they pursue in depth, and a large number of authors who, although not prominent, they will buy everything by… Previously they bought paperbacks and hardcovers from specialist genre bookstores or, failing that, from large B&N/Borders branches. They will go to whatever retailer they can find online, and they find DRM a royal pain in the ass — indeed, a deterrent to buying ebooks at all.

It’s no secret he’s talking about sf fans, since he mentions us explicitly a few lines later…

Harder To Burn This Way

What? Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 couldn’t be purchased in electronic format ‘til last month? Ah, but let’s remember who we’re talking about. Ray Bradbury loves libraries filled with words on paper, and once said e-books “smell like burned fuel.”

However, agent, Michael Congdon says he explained to Bradbury that his book rights were expiring and a new contract would be impossible without allowing for e-books, which yield an estimated 20 percent of total sales.

I guess Ray thereupon decided to hold his nose with one hand and sign with the other.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Bill of Rights for E-Book Authors

The Writers’ Union of Canada has released A Writer’s Bill of Rights for the Digital Age to benefit the creators of literary works in Canada:

1

Copyright legislation shall ensure the protection of intellectual property and appropriate compensation for rightsholders.

2

Exceptions to copyright shall be minimized.

3

The publisher shall split the net proceeds of ebook sales equally with the author.

4

The author shall retain all electronic rights not specifically granted to the publisher or producer and shall have approval of any modifications made to the work.

5

The publisher shall not exercise or sublicense ebook publishing rights without the express authorization of the author.

6

When a book is out of print in print form, continuing sales in electronic form shall not prevent a rights reversion to the author.

7

For ebooks, the publisher in its contract shall replace the traditional “out of print” clause that triggers a rights reversion with a sales volume clause (e.g., less than a specified quantity of ebooks sold in a specified number of royalty periods) and/or a finite term of license (e.g., five years).

8

When rights revert, the publisher shall provide the author with the digital file of the book.

9

The Public Lending Right Commission shall provide author payments for electronic books and allot additional monies to this end.

10

Libraries shall acquire digital copies of works in their collections only from rightsholders or their licensing agencies.

11

Ebook retailers shall require the rightsholder’s permission for any free preview or download of an electronic work, and the rightsholder shall specify the maximum amount to be made available.

12

Agents, publishers, aggregators, retailers, and libraries shall ensure that works in digital form will be well protected and will not be shared, traded, or sold outside the boundaries authorized by the contract.

Greg Hollingshead, chairman of the Writers’ Union of Canada, responds to questions about the bill of rights in an interview by the Edmonton Journal:

Q: Many writers seem content to leave matters of digital rights to their agents. Why is it important they are educated?

A: First, in Canada only about 20 per cent of writers have agents.

Second, we believe it’s always important for writers to understand what is, or is not, being done in their name. This is a transformative time in the industry, and it seems important to us that writers not allow the other players in the digital arena to decide what is best for them. There needs to be dialogue, and for this writers need to be informed, and as a union we need to have a clearly stated position, both for our members to consider and discuss and for ourselves to go with to publishers and government.

A post at Iguana Books offers rebuttal and comment, for example:

8. When rights revert, the publisher shall provide the author with the digital file of the book.

This is a can of worms. “The file” usually contains material that the author doesn’t have the copyright for – images, designs, text (such as the index) that other writers have prepared. What the writer actually needs is the file and the list of permissions associated with the publication, so that all other rightsholders can be compensated if their material is used in a new edition.

[Thanks to John Mansfield for the story.]

Don’t Stop the Presses

Have you heard? Rather than being pushed to the edge of extinction by trends in electronic publishing, English-language printed books have an unlimited future — in India:

“Books matter more in India than anywhere else we publish them,” added Makinson, whose Penguin Group is one of the world’s largest English-language publishers.

While book sales slip in most western countries, the non-academic book market in India is currently growing at a rate of 15 to 18 percent annually, as rapid economic growth swells literacy rates and adds millions to the middle class every year.

[Source: Reuters. Thanks to David Klaus for the link.]