Pixel Scroll 6/4/19 De Scrollus Non Est Disputpixelum

(1) CAT RAMBO. In “So Long, And Thanks for All the Fish”, Cat Rambo begins a seven-part series about her time on the SFWA board.

As I’m composing them, I’m asking you for a favor. If there is some SFWA moment that has been particularly meaningful for you in the past five years, I’d love to hear about it. I’d also love to know if there is a SFWA volunteer or volunteers that have helped make your experiences with SFWA positive. This is YOUR chance to give them a shout-out; drop me an e-mail about it!

And Cat asked me:

Would you pass this along to the Filers?

I really very much would like to hear from the F&SF community at large about how they think SFWA is doing, if there’s been highlights for them, and what they’d like in the future from the organization. 

File 770 has been one of the places I’ve gotten a lot of feedback and suggestions from during my time with SFWA and it’s been the source of so many titles that I added to the recommended reading lists each year. I’m doing a lot of writing up thank yous this final month and I definitely owe them one.

(2) STRANGE HORIZONS ROUND TABLE. Participating in The Strange Horizons Book Club discussion of  Kingdoms of Elfin by Sylvia Townsend Warner are Zen Cho, the award-winning author; Charlotte Geater, a poet and editor at the Emma Press; and Abigail Nussbaum, blogger, critic and columnist. The discussion is moderated by Aishwarya Subramanian.

…Kingdoms of Elfin was first published as a collection in 1977 and comprises sixteen stories by Sylvia Townsend Warner; all but two of these had originally been published in The New Yorker earlier in that decade. Set in and around various, predominantly European, fairy courts, the stories were a consequence of Warner’s desire to write “about something entirely different [than the human heart]” following the death of her partner, Valentine Ackland, in 1969. The result is a set of stories that, Greer Gilman notes in her foreword to this new edition (Handheld Press, 2018, with an introduction by Ingrid Hotz-Davies), return constantly to images of “captivity and flight. The cages here are courts, Gormenghastly in their etiquette; but glittering.”

Abigail Nussbaum: Well, I’ll take the easy answers and mention Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, for the way that it attaches class so strongly to the fairy realm, and Gormenghast, for the way that it stresses ossified rituals that govern the lives of even the most elevated members of the court (I thought the similarity was particularly notable in “The Five Black Swans”). And, of course, if you mention Clarke, you have to assume that Mirrlees and Dunsany are not far behind. They both see fairies as fundamentally irrational beings and tell stories about humans getting caught in their webs. One thing that I found interesting about the Elfland stories was how rarely humans figured into them at all, and how the arrow of irrationality tended to point the other way when they did—it’s the fairies who find humans bizarre and hard to parse.

Another connection that I made while reading and that I’ve been mulling over since then is to Tove Jansson’s Moomin books. There’s something about the way the fairy courts are constructed—hidden in the wilderness but so comfortable and hypercivilized (in a way that can be stifling as well as comfortable once you’re allowed in)—that reminds me of the Moomin house, and of the way the books, especially the later ones, reveal an undertone of wildness and danger that is only just held at bay by the Moomins’ fundamental goodness….

(3) PAY RAPT(OR) ATTENTION. Check in to Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, an all-new animated series coming to Netflix in 2020. According to ScienceFiction.com:

Little is known about the series so far, but it will be set within the timeline from the 2015 release of ‘Jurassic World.’ The plot will have the show follow “a group of six teenagers chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime experience at a new adventure camp on the opposite side of Isla Nublar. But when dinosaurs wreak havoc across the island, the campers are stranded. Unable to reach the outside world, they’ll need to go from strangers to friends to family if they’re going to survive.”

(4) POLISHING THE BELLE. Erik Nelson argues that “Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used to Be” at Talkhouse.

The Cold Blue‘s director on his new doc, restoring William Wyler’s The Memphis Belle and propaganda and “fake news,” then and now.

“Of all the liars, the smoothest and most convincing is memory.” My pal Harlan Ellison used to say that all of the time (and he would also want you to know that that line wasn’t his. Harlan was picky about giving credit where due). How then is it possible to tell the truth about our shared past? We have recently seen the emergence of three documentaries that revolve around the restoration of archival footage to depict a forensic kind of truth. They Shall Not Grow Old takes us back to the devastating British experience of World War 1, Apollo 11 recreates a moment of technological triumph and the last call of American “can-do” optimism, and my film The Cold Blue celebrates the “last of the best,” the young men who flew suicidally dangerous combat missions in B-17s over Germany in World War II. All of these films spraying Windex onto the murky window of the past – and give it a good big-screen, immersive-sound-design wipe.

These three documentaries have all generated a surprising amount of critical attention and box-office success, clearly speaking to modern audiences in a way that has surprised many. Nostalgia for a lost past has never seemed so vital, which perhaps says more about the dysfunction and demoralization of our current life and times than we might care to admit.

As for myself, I have long been fascinated with the secret history of the 20th century. Not what is in the books, but what really happened behind the scenes and in the margins. All too often, history has been reduced to cliché, or black-and-white images that immediately distance us from the past, with the quotidian details that bring history to life obscured.

The Cold Blue was a chance for me to attend to those details, as well as pay homage to a generation that became inadvertently great, along with a filmmaker who worked very hard at staying great, William Wyler.

It started with a chance discovery of all 34 reels of the source material for Wyler’s classic documentary The Memphis Belle — filmed during the spring and summer of 1943 on 8th Air Force bases in England, and on bombing missions over Nazi occupied Europe. During production, one of Wyler’s cameramen, Harold Tannenbaum, was lost along with his plane over France. Since The Memphis Belle’s original release, all copies have deteriorated, and laboratory scratches inflicted on the original footage in 1943 remained. When I learned about the existence of the 15 hours of Wyler’s raw footage, in radiant color, that captured, home-movie style, the insanely risky missions flown by the 8th Air Force, I knew there was a new story that demanded to be told. But first, we replaced 500 individual shots of this raw footage over the 1944 The Memphis Belle’s existing soundtrack, and fully restored that film to pristine condition….

(5) COLLABORATION. Neil Gaiman was interviewed by Pasadena radio station KPCC’s The Frame today about Good Omens.

Novelist and comic book creator Neil Gaiman is no stranger to writing for television — from episodes of “Babylon 5” and “Doctor Who” to bringing his own book, “American Gods,” to the Starz network. But for his latest mini-series for Amazon, “Good Omens,” starring Michael Seen and David Tennant, Gaiman had the added task of honoring the memory of the late Terry Pratchett. In 1990, Gaiman and Pratchett co- wrote the novel, “Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnus Nutter, Witch.” Before Pratchett’s death in 2015, the two had hoped to bring the story to the screen but a production never came to light. In an interview at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood, Gaiman told John Horn what it’s like to finally bring “Good Omens” to television all these years later without Pratchett as a writing partner. 

(6) ON THE SHELF. Kim Huett analyzes what it takes to be “The Next Big Thing” at Doctor Strangemind.

… I’m not sure that even book series such as Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern or Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga would work (even though I’m sure many people would be excited if they did, I’d certainly like to see the latter)….

(7) RAISED BY WOLVES. This game was played before there was a throne: “Sky Italia to Explore Birth of Rome in New Series ‘Romulus'”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

The show will be shot in archaic Latin and feature 700 stunt people and thousands of extras occupying meticulously recreated historic locations.

Sky Italia is going back in history — way back to the eighth century B.C., and the creation of Rome — in its new series Romulus. Sky is producing the new 10-episode original with ITV Studio’s Cattleya and Groenlandia.

Director Matteo Rovere (Italian Race, Drifters) will serve as showrunner for the series, which will be shot in archaic Latin. His latest film, Romulus & Remus: The First King, debuted earlier this year in Italy, revealing the mythology of the two twin brothers whose turbulent story led to the founding of Rome. Michele Alhaique and Enrico Maria Artale are also slated to direct episodes.

(8) HE BLAMES THE TROLLS. “‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Director Ron Howard Says Trolls Contributed To Poor Box Office Performance” – that’s what he told ET Canada.

…Howard believes the core fan base was interested in the product but it failed to spark the mainstream’s attention. “Whatever millions [‘Solo’] made worldwide, those were the core fans, but it didn’t hit that zeitgeist point, for whatever reason,” he told the “Happy Sad Confused” podcast. “Timing, young Han Solo, pushback from the previous movie, which I kept hearing was maybe something.”

And of course, “some trolling, definitely some trolling. Some actual aggressive… It was pretty interesting,” he shared. “It was especially noticeable prior to the release of the movie. Several of the algorithms, whether it was Metacritic or Rotten Tomatoes, there was an inordinate push down on the ‘want to see’ and on the fan voting.”

(9) DUBLIN 2019 DAY PASSES. Available soon.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 4, 1936 Bruce Dern, 83. Here for Silent Running, a film I’d completely forgotten I’d seen until compiling this Birthday. It’s the directorial debut of Douglas Trumbull who went on to much more famous projects. He also shows up in a number of other genre films such as The Incredible 2-Headed TransplantThe HauntingThe Astronaut Farmer and Freaks. Needless to say, you’ll find him on series such as The Outer LimitsAlfred Hitchcock Presents and Land of the Giants
  • Born June 4, 1951 Wendi Pini, 68. With husband Richard, responsible for ElfquestOver the years Elfquest has been self-published by the Pinis through their own company Warp Graphics, then Marvel Comics, then the Pinis again, more recently DC Comics and then Dark Horse Comics. Everything prior to 2013 is free online. Be prepared to spend hours lost in great reading! 
  • Born June 4, 1953 Kathleen Kennedy, 66. Film producer and current president of Lucasfilm. In 1981, she co-founded the production company Amblin Entertainment with Spielberg and husband Frank Marshall. If you’ve liked a major genre film, be it Raiders of the Lost ArkWho Framed Roger Rabbit or The Secret World of Arrietty to give three very random examples, she most likely had a hand in it.
  • Born June 4, 1960 Kristine Kathryn Rusch, 59. If you’ve not discovered the amazements of her Diving Universe series, you’re in for a treat — it’s that good. Her Retrieval Artist series is one that IIRC can be read in no particular order but is great deal of fun no matter where you start. Other than those two series, I’ve not read deeply of her, so recommendations are welcome. 
  • Born June 4, 1964 Sean Pertwee, 55. Let’s see, where did I see him first? Oh, of course playing Sheriff Hugh Beringar on Cadfael but that’s not really genre, is it? Captain Heinz in “Trenches of Hell, Part 2 “, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles was his first genre role followed being Pilot Smith on Event Horizon and Macbeth in a UK film the same year. He did a bit of low budget horror playing Bradley Cortese in Tale of the Mummy and likewise in being Sergeant Harry G. Wells in Dog Soldiers. There were some fairly low budget SF as well, say Father in Equilibrium. Not to mention Brother Proteus in Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie! All of which gets redeemed by his Inspector Lestrade in Elementary, a stunning take on that character. And then there’s his Alfred in Gotham. 
  • Born June 4, 1972 Joe Hill, 47. I’ve met him once or twice down the years as he shows up here in Portland for signings. Nice guy. Locke & Key is an amazing series and I’m fond of all of his short stories, particularly those collected in 20th Century Ghosts
  • Born June 4, 1975 Angelina Jolie, 44. I really liked her two Tomb Raider films and thought Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was a really cool film. I never saw her early Cyborg 2 undertakingbut think Hackers and her role as Kate “Acid Burn” Libby was rather good. I’ve not seen, nor have any desire to see, her two Maleficent films. 

(11) CARL BRANDON ON BRADBURY. This is from the pastiche “The Cacher In The Rye” by Carl Brandon (Terry Carr with Bhob Stewart), first published in 1956, and available again in Jeanne Gomoll’s collection Carl Brandon, recently published through Lulu.

Who the hell wants to see the program of a stfcon?  But anyway, we went and heard goddam Bradbury.

Bradbury’s talk wasn’t as bad as some I’ve heard.  I mean he wasn’t like old Ackerman with that toastmaster gag he pulls every convention. Bradbury just read one of his stories.  It was kind of on the cruddy side.  I know lots of fans think Bradbury is great and all, but I don’t.  He writes real smooth and all, and he’s got good characterization and lots of goddam emotion in his stories…the only trouble is he writes too good.  I mean, you don’t pay attention to what’s happening.  You just notice how good he writes.  But he was different, anyway.  A hell of a lot better than old Ackerman pulling his toastmaster gig.

(12) BIG THREE. In contrast, Charlton Comics was much kinder toward Ray in this quick bio from Haunted #61 (published in 1971).

(13) YOUNG ERB. According to True West, a magazine that covers the history of America’s Old West, Edgar Rice Burroughs’s stories were influenced by his two-year stint in the 7th U.S. Calvary as they hunted for an elusive outlaw: “Edgar Rice Burroughs Hunted the Apache Kid”.

Dateline: Fort Grant, Arizona Territory, Saturday, May 23, 1896.

Edgar Rice Burroughs, age 20, arrived here today to begin a harrowing ten-month tour of duty with the 7th U.S. Cavalry. A graduate of Michigan Military Academy, Burroughs had recently failed the entrance exam to West Point. Yet youthful optimism led him to believe a commission might still be attained from the ranks. Enlisted at Detroit with consent of his father (former Civil War Maj. George Tyler Burroughs), underage Ed had now achieved his rather perverse but expressed desire to be sent to “the worst post in the United States.” At Fort Grant his high hopes for rapid advancement would soon be crushed upon hard Arizona rocks.

Unknown to Burroughs, those same jagged rocks concealed a living legend—the Apache Kid. Kid roamed ghost-like through the remote mountain vastness, a $5,000 bounty on his head on both sides of the border. Edgar Rice Burroughs, whose own legend was still unlit, would soon join the hunt for this famed phantom outlaw—thus tying his name forever to the Apache Kid saga.”

Rob Thornton sent the link with a note of warning: “Some sexism here, including the use of the term ‘soiled dove’ when the article refers to prostitutes).”

(14) NOT SO FAST, ROBIN HOOD. NPR tells why “Astronomers Worry That Elon Musk’s New Satellites Will Ruin The View”.

Victoria Girgis was leading a public outreach session at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz., when one of her guests noticed a string of lights moving high overhead.

“Occasionally, you’ll see satellites, and they look kind of like shooting stars moving through the sky,” Girgis says. “But this was a whole line of them all moving together.”

The guest hadn’t spotted a UFO invasion. Rather, it was the first installment of billionaire Elon Musk’s vision for the future: a constellation of satellites known as Starlink that’s meant to provide Internet to the entire planet.

On May 23, Musk’s company SpaceX launched a rocket that carried 60 Starlink satellites into orbit. The 500-pound satellites fanned out like a deck of cards. From the ground, they looked like a glittering string whizzing across the arc of the sky.

The crowd watched as the satellites moved in front of the small telescope Girgis had trained on some distant galaxies. The bright satellites created over two dozen streaks across an image she was taking.

“My first immediate reaction was, ‘That’s visually kind of cool,'” she says. “But my second reaction was, ‘Man you can’t see a single galaxy.’ “

The picture was useless.

(15) THE TELLTALE CURE. BBC says “‘Pumping heart patch’ ready for human use”.

A “pumping” patch containing millions of living, beating stem cells could help repair the damage caused by a heart attack, according to researchers.

Sewn on to the heart, the 3cm (1in) by 2cm patch, grown in a lab from a sample of the patient’s own cells, then turns itself into healthy working muscle.

It also releases chemicals that repair and regenerate existing heart cells.

Tests in rabbits show it appears safe, Imperial College London experts told a leading heart conference in Manchester.

Patient trials should start in the next two years, the British Cardiovascular Society meeting heard.

(16) FEAST ON THAT. And heart health is going to become important if you take up Chowhound’s offer to teach you “How to Make the Food You See in ‘Game of Thrones’”—or at least some reasonable substitutes for them.

Winter may have arrived in Westeros, but that’s not going to stop our favorite “Game of Thrones” characters—the ones who are left, anyway—from indulging in their favorite sweets, meats, and goblets upon goblets of various boozes. (Or at least that’s what we assume. Not even a White Walker seems like it’d stand in the way of a Lannister, Stark, or Targaryen and his or her meal.)

[…] While waiting to see what the final episode has in store, we’ve rounded up some of the most notable dishes below, along with recipes that you can try for yourself.

Recipes are offered for Lemon Cakes; Kidney Pie; Purple Wedding Pie; Pork Sausage, Oysters, Clams, and Cockles; Roast Boar; Whole Roasted Chicken; and Mulled Wine.

(17) 2020 BOOK FAIR. The Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA) returns to the Pasadena Convention Center on February 7-9, 2020 for the 53rd California International Antiquarian Book Fair

The world’s largest rare book fair, this biennial event features more than 200 exhibitors from across the globe.

In 2020, we are celebrating the 100 years of national women’s suffrage with special exhibits, lectures, and panel discussions. 

There will also be an additional exhibit and seminar in honor of the 100th anniversary of Ray Bradbury’s birth.

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

Pixel Scroll 8/30/18 I, For One, Welcome My New Cybernetic Pixel Scroll Wrangler

(1) THE (AMERICAN) GODS THEMSELVES. Neil Gaiman pointed to Leslie S. Klinger’s announcement of a planned reference work about “American Gods”.

I’m thrilled to announce that next Fall, William Morrow will publish Annotated American Gods, with my notes based in significant part on Neil’s manuscripts, journals, and research material as well as many other sources, including conversations with Neil and answers to the questions of “Who are all these unidentified gods anyway?”. I believe that this will be a large-trim edition, with the notes on each page in the margins, based on the 10th Anniversary edition text. Among other things, the notes will highlight all of the significant textual changes that were made for that edition. There will be black-and-white images of various people, places, and maybe even gods!

(2) ATTRACTIVE IDEA. You might say the Worldcon’s YA award gets some love from the Word of the Day:

(3) TREK FEATURES IN PRE-EMMY ANNOUNCEMENT. Deadline hails fans with some award news: “‘Star Trek’ Beams Up TV Academy’s 2018 Governors Award”

“Bridge to engineering — what’s that, Scotty?” “Ach, it’s the Governors Award, Captain — comin’ right at us!” “Mister Spock?!” “It seems that Star Trek has been selected to receive that honor from the TV Academy next month, Captain.”

The award to Star Trek recognizes “the visionary science-fiction television franchise and its legacy of boldly propelling science, society and culture where no one has gone before,” as the Academy put it. The honor will be beamed up September 8 during Night 1 of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards.

(4) POETRY CONTEST DEADLINE. 40th Anniversary Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association Speculative Poetry Contest deadline is August 31. Acclaimed Irish poet John W. Sexton is this year’s judge and esteemed Texas poet Holly Lyn Walrath is Chair. You do not have to be a SFPA member to enter poems. Rules at the link.

(5) MORE TO CTHULHU THAN MEETS THE EYE. With HPL’s 128th birthday this month, Bryan Thao Worra takes on the question “How Can Writers of Color Reconcile H. P. Lovecraft’s Influence with His Racist Legacy?” at Twin Cities Geeks.

…When I would read a story like The Shadow over Innsmouth, it felt more relevant to our journey than most of the refugee narratives on the market. Someone arrives in town to discover peculiar folks are nice at first, then turn into monstrous horrors who have bizarre traditions they want the protagonist to partake in? That’s an oversimplification, certainly, but the seeds are there to be sown. It can be sensitive to have a conversation on the real politics that ignited the Laotian Secret War, but a conversation on an alien war between Great Old Ones and Elder Things, with poor humanity caught between mindless horrors duking it out? There’s a tale that could be told, although not without its complications. Are the Great Old Ones NATO or the Warsaw Pact to Lovecraft’s Elder Things and Elder Gods? Lovecraft’s Fungi from Yuggoth appear in The Whisperer in Darkness; there, the reader learns these creatures take the brains of their victims to their distant planet in shiny metal cylinders. Simple science-fiction horror or an interesting metaphor for the cultural brain drain of a country as refugees board the metal cylinders of American planes to escape to safety?

…If I encouraged my community to read only safe, respectable literature touching on Laos, we’d find our people depicted typically as the faceless, coolies, or the enemy. In the works of writers like H. P. Lovecraft, and others, I felt we could at least start to flip the script and assert our true authentic voice from an unexpected direction. When I began writing in earnest, I had a desire to avoid many of the colonial, imperialist, and feudal trappings that disempower us. I saw science fiction, fantasy, and horror as a way to discuss our journeys and to empower ourselves, even as there can be no doubt these genres are filled with any number of paranoid and small-minded figures who may know how to put a sentence together but not necessarily an inclusive core. But like any zone of literature, one works at it.

(6) MORE ON JOHN WARD. Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA) board member Jeff Tidball addresses the question “It Is Wise for GAMA to Seek a New Executive Director”. As Mark Hepworth noted in comments, Tidball very carefully avoids saying why Ward was not kept on. He does say that Ward was appointed ten years ago in very different circumstances:

The GAMA board of directors announced on Friday that it is not renewing the employment agreement of its Executive Director, John Ward. (Read a copy of the press release hosted on this site.) A fair number of members want to know why, and that’s great, because it indicates that GAMA’s members are interested in the governance and management of their trade organization.

The board’s decision arose in a closed meeting of the board, so the details and voting record of individual board members are confidential. The board’s consensus in recent discussion has been that the decisions made by the body are the decisions of the entire body, and so it would be inappropriate to publish a list reciting the votes of each member.

(Side note: This is based on very recent dialogue, the ultimate resolution of which is still pending. The question arose in the first place when a previous board decision led to a board member’s business being threatened. So, if you’ve seen or been part of board meetings in the past where detailed notes and vote-tallies were circulated, that’s why what I’m reporting here may be different from your experience.)

I wasn’t on the GAMA board ten years ago when John Ward was hired as its Executive Director. Many people, some of whom were intimately involved in the hiring process, some of whom were on the board at the time, many of whom were acquainted with the state of GAMA at that time, have assured me that John Ward was the best candidate for the position of ED when GAMA faced existential crises of finances and responsible organization. I believe them.

It’s been suggested that because John was the right person for that job, ten years ago, he must therefore still be the right person for the current job. There’s a logical disconnect there. The right person to turn a company around is not necessarily the right person to envision its future. The right person to fight a war is not necessarily the right person to rebuild the landscape. And so on. The skill sets are different.

Circumstances change, and GAMA’s have changed. The change is largely thanks to John Ward. The board gives him credit for what he’s done and applauds what he’s accomplished. So make no mistake: I thank John Ward for the hard work he’s done for GAMA. At the same time, I believe that a new voice and skill set would be better to lead GAMA for the next ten years.

(7) ALTERNATE NATURAL HISTORY. Ursula Vernon did a bunch of these today. Not in a single thread, so you’ll need to seek them out. Here is the premise and two lovely examples:

(8) BOUNCED OFF THESE BOOKS. Liz Lutgendorff finds most of the books that topped NPR’s poll “shockingly offensive” — “I read the 100 “best” fantasy and sci-fi novels – and they were shockingly offensive”. (The poll was a product of 5,000 nominators and 60,000 voters.) Lutgendorff used this test to help evaluate the list:

The test had three simple questions:

1: Does it have at least two female characters?

2: Is one of them a main character?

3: Do they have an interesting profession/level of skill like male characters?

It was staggering how many didn’t pass. Some failed on point 1….

Many failed on my second criteria, like Out of the Silent Planet or Rendezvous with Rama.

C S Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet was one of the oldest books on the list, aside from Jules Verne. It’s an early attempt at explaining space flight and encountering an alien race. Most of the plot revolves around the main character, Ransom, trying to understand the aliens before managing to escape back to earth.The most entertaining aspect of the book is the ludicrous physics. There is one woman in the story, who Ransom exchanges about three sentences with before she wanders off. Perhaps you can forgive that on age, the book being from 1938.

The same can’t be said for Rendezvous with Rama, which was written in 1973. It was critically acclaimed and won many of the main science fiction prizes such as the Nebula Award, the British Science Fiction Association Award, the Hugo Award and Locus Award. The story centres around a group of space explorers who have to investigate a mysterious spacecraft that enters the solar system.

While there are more women, almost all are subordinate to the main male lead. There is one female authority figure who is on the Council of Rama (the organisation directing the efforts of investigation), but she doesn’t play a significant role. I also got distracted by the fact that, inexplicably, the male lead sleeps with almost all the women mentioned in the book.

Finally, most would fail on the third part of the test because the women characters were all mothers, nurses or love interests. They were passive characters with little agency or character development, like the women in A Canticle for Leibowitz and Magician. They were scenery, adding a tiny bit of texture to mainly male dominated world….

(9) NELSON OBIT. An opportunity here to take note of her fascinating career — “Miriam Nelson, 98, Golden Age Dancer and Choreographer, Dies” in the New York Times – even if Jerry Lewis provides the unlikely genre connection:

Miriam Nelson, whose seven-decade career as a choreographer and dancer spanned the golden ages of Broadway, Hollywood and television, died on Aug. 12 at her home in Beverly Hills, Calif. She was 98.

Much of Ms. Nelson’s movie work was for nonmusicals. She choreographed the madcap party scene at Holly Golightly’s apartment in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961), and also appeared in it as the glamorous party guest in gold brocade and pearls who argues with the man wearing a fake eye patch.

Behind the camera, Ms. Nelson taught … Jerry Lewis to hoof it like a space alien in “A Visit to a Small Planet” (1960) and the whole cast of “Cat Ballou” (1965) — led by Jane Fonda, who she said was a balletically trained natural — to execute Old West dances for the hoedown scene.

(10) THE ROADS MUST SCROLL. Today’s trivia –

Moving sidewalks may have been synonymous with airports since the mid-20th century but the technology was known even earlier. A “moving pavement” transported people between exhibits during the Paris Expo in 1900 and science fiction novelist H.G. Wells even mentioned them in his 1899 tale “A Story of the Days to Come.”

Sources: USA TodayA short history of airport moving walkways “ (2016) and QIMoving Walkways”)

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 31, 1797 — Mary Shelley. Author of Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818) considered by many to be very first genre novel. Though not appreciated for it until rather recently, she was a rather excellent writer of biographies of notable European men and women.
  • Born August 30 — R. Crumb, 76. Ok, this is a weird associational connection. Back in 1966, The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick was illustrated by R. Crumb in Weirdo #17. Crumb days text is by Dick. It’s really, really weird. You can find it here.
  • Born August 30, 1955 – Judith Tarr, 63. Perhaps best known for her Avaryan Chronicles series, and myriad other fantasy works. She breeds Lipizzan horses at Dancing Horse Farm, her home in Vail, Arizona. Need I note horses figure prominently in her stories?

(12) WORKING FOR LEX. Here’s one of the DC Crossovers that have been discussed in Scrolls — Lex Luthor Porky Pig Special #1 variant,. Became available August 29, according to Graham Crackers Comic Books.

Facing financial and personal ruin, a desperate Porky Pig applies for and gets and entry-level position with LexCorp. Grateful to his new benefactor, Porky becomes Luthor’s most loyal employee and defender. But when a major scandal breaks in the news and Lex is called before a Congressional Committee, guess who is about to be offered up as the sacrificial pig?

(13) ESA ASTRONAUT INTERVIEW. Newsweek interviews European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti about her time after her stay on the ISS and her current role on the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway project (“Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti: NASA Lunar Gateway Is ‘Natural Next Step in Exploration’”).

Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti is [… the] first Italian woman in space […] the former fighter pilot spent almost 200 days on the International Space Station (ISS) from 2014 to 2015—a record spaceflight for an ESA astronaut.

As well as investigating how fruit flies, flatworms and even human cells behave in space, Cristoforetti gained fame for brewing the first espresso on the ISS….

Q:           What is your role with the Gateway?

A:           I’m a crew representative for the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway project. It’s a space station that will be built around the moon in the early 2020s. For human spaceflight, you always want astronauts involved so that they can give a little bit of perspective to the future crew members, users and operators. I’m just starting that, I’m just getting myself into the topic.

(14) INNERSPACE. The Psychedelic Film and Music Festival debuts October 1-7 in New York, and will explore “the medicinal and therapeutic use of psychedelics and investigate the existence of inner worlds through trance music and science fiction, horror, surrealism, fantasy and virtual reality film.”

Simon Boswell will be there —

Renowned film composer and noted psychedelic Simon Boswell will headline a night of music on October 3 at Mercury Lounge on the Lower East Side for a special concert at The Inaugural Psychedelic Film and Music Festival. Performing with his musical group The AND, Boswell will play pieces from his illustrious film composition career in rock, electronica, gothic horror and futuristic styles.

Mr. Boswell is notable for integrating electronic elements with orchestral instruments to create vibrant and atmospheric soundtracks for widely praised cyberpunk, horror and science fiction films including Santa Sangre (1989), Hardware (1990), Dust Devil (1992), Shallow Grave (1994), Hackers (1995) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999). He was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Original Television Music for the BBC series The Lakes (1997) and in recent years has composed for several film projects and toured worldwide with The AND, performing live music against video backdrops of remixed content from his impressive film resume.

Tickets available on Ticketfly: https://ticketf.ly/2nyeb1o

(15) IN VINE VERITAS. Someone reading today needs this book – just not sure who it is. Altus Press announces plans for “Tarzan, Conqueror of Mars”. (No indication there is any connection with the series of similarly-themed action figures from days gone by.)

In 2014, Altus launched The Wild Adventures of Tarzan, with Tarzan: Return to Pal-ul-don. Two years later came the monumental King Kong versus Tarzan, a dream project long thought unachievable.

Now, in association with Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. and Altus Books, the Wild Adventures announces its most breathtaking project to date.

Tarzan, Conqueror of Mars!

Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs and his amazing creations have long dreamed of reading a novel in which the Lord of the Jungle visits the Red Planet and encounters John Carter.

In Tarzan, Conqueror of Mars, this finally happens!

When a witch doctor’s sorcery hurls the ape-man’s soul out of his magnificent body, Tarzan discovers himself on a weird, treeless landscape, a dying planet inhabited by creatures unknown to him. Marooned on Mars, Tarzan must learn to survive in an unfamiliar environment. With no hope of rescue, the ape-man begins the arduous journey that takes him from being a friendless stranger on an alien world to his rise as a force to be reckoned with. For on Barsoom—as Martians style their home planet—there exists apes. Great apes of a type not found upon Earth. Hairless giants resembling gorillas, but possessing two sets of arms. Not to mention ferocious lion-like monsters known as banths as well as the elephantine zitidars.  Tarzan will go up against these fearsome creatures, and so begins the perilous march that elevates him from naked and unarmed castaway to the undisputed Ape-lord of Barsoom!

Written by genre giant Will Murray, TarzanConqueror of Mars ultimately brings the famed Lord of the Jungle into open conflict with Edgar Rice Burroughs’ other great hero, John Carter, Warlord of Mars. In the end, which one will be victorious?

(16) DRIZZT IS BACK. R.A. Salvatore’s Timeless, on-sale September 4, marks the return of Drizzt Do’Urden, the legendary dark elf fighter that’s been a mainstay of fantasy books and the successful Forgotten Realms RPG games for over 30 years.

Not only will readers get more of the swashbuckling, sword-and-sorcery action Salvatore is known for; they’ll also get to know more of the characters who dwell in the Forgotten Realms.

Salvatore is unique, because he was one of the originators of modern Epic Fantasy—but he has continued to evolve, and to take on new fans. With TIMELESS, a master of Epic Fantasy is poised to make a huge splash in a beloved genre.

(17) SEND FOR THE MUPPET CORONER. According to Rolling Stone reviewer Peter Travers, “‘The Happytime Murders’ Review: Puppet Raunchfest Is Dead on Arrival”.

A few critics are calling it the worst movie of the year. Unfair! The Happytime Murders, the R-rated look at a serial killer running wild in a puppet-populated L.A., has what it takes to be a contender for worst of the decade. Directed by Brian Henson (son of the late, great Sesame Street and Muppets icon Jim Henson) and starring a painfully stranded Melissa McCarthy, this toxic botch job deserves an early death by box office….

(18) EIGHTIES UNERASED. James Davis Nicoll continues his Tor.com series with “Fighting Erasure: Women SF Writers of the 1980s, Part II”.

Let us journey onward, this time to women who first published speculative fiction in the 1980s whose surnames begin with B….

For example:

Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff cannot be the sole Bahá’í author/musician active in speculative fiction, but she is the only one I know. Her body of work is small enough—eight books or so—that one could read the entire thing in a week or two. Those who might want just a taste could try The Meri, in which a young woman with great magical potential struggles against a society profoundly suspicious of magic. Alternatively, you could explore her shorter work in the collection Bimbo on the Cover.

(19) EPIC NERD CAMP. Karen Heller’s Washington Post article “‘Growing up, we were the weird ones’: The wizarding, mermaiding, cosplaying haven of Epic Nerd Camp” profiles Epic Nerd Camp,  a summer camp in Starrucca, Pennsylvania where “men in kilts and women withhair stained with all the colors of Disney” can eat bad summer camp food, fight off bugs, and spend their days engaging in LARPing, cosplay, “wandmaking, sword fighting, boffer games, Quidditch, waizarding, chainmaille, escape rooms and FX makeup.”

Heller credits Dr. Seuss with originating the word “nerd” —

Nerds have been with us forever, but the term seems to have been coined by Dr. Seuss, circa 1950. (From “If I Ran the Zoo”: And then, just to show them, I’ll sail to Ka-Troo/And Bring Back an It-Kutch, a Preep, and a Proo,/A Nerkle, a Nerd, and a Seersucker too.) The word gained further popularity on TV’s “Happy Days,” where the Fonz applied it to almost any young person who was not the Fonz. Around the same time, geek — once the name for carnival performers who bit the heads off live chickens — came into its modern interpretation, referring to intense enthusiasts.

(20) THE WALK NESS MONSTER. A sauropod stepped in something, once upon a time: “170-million-year-old dinosaur footprint found in Scotland”.

An extremely rare 170-million-year-old dinosaur footprint has been found in Scotland. Paleontologists, however, are keeping its precise location secret until they can complete their research.

The footprint was discovered earlier this year by Neil Clark, curator of paleontology at the University of Glasgow’s Hunterian Museum. Clark told Fox News that he had just given a talk in Inverness in the Scottish Highlands and decided to “visit the Jurassic rocks” in the area.

“After about a half hour looking, I spotted the footprint and was able to immediately recognize it as the footprint of a sauropod dinosaur,” he told Fox News. “I had to do a double take on the footprint as I couldn’t believe that such an obvious footprint had not been seen previously, considering the number of researchers who visit the coast each year.”

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

Pixel Scroll 1/9/18 Scrolled Pixel’s Book Of Practical SJW Credentials

(1) CLASSIC KETTLE. True Rat: The Beast of Leroy Kettle collects and preserves the humorous writing of British fan Leroy Kettle. Edited by Rob Hansen, it’s available as a free download in the usual ebook formats plus PDF from Ansible Editions. Over 105,000 words.

Every issue of True Rat is included, plus much more comic autobiography and articles, speeches and scurrilous gossip columns published elsewhere. Only a very few passages that seemed almost funny in the 1970s are here omitted to protect the guilty (Leroy Kettle).

One included item is the transcript of a live interview with our hero by Simone Walsh – with audience participation – at Skycon, the 1978 UK Eastercon. Rob Hansen strongly recommends the audio version, available as an MP3 download from this linked page on his site.

(2)  BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. Wil Wheaton remembers his friend Stepto in a touching tribute, “who lives who dies who tells your story”. The excerpt comes from his remarks at the memorial. He follows them with a powerful and poetic vision.

“I want to tell you about the time Stepto and I had cigars in the Caribbean,” I say, “I want to tell you about how he saved my Xbox for me, about how he made me laugh and how much I miss him in my life.” I think, but don’t say, that I want to talk about how sad and angry I am that Stepto successfully kept his alcoholism a secret from me, and from everyone who was closest to him, for the more than ten years we were friends. I want to talk about how angry I am that he got a second chance, when he survived a coma last year. I want to say a lot of swears, because he convinced himself and me that it wasn’t alcohol that put him into a coma, but some kind of genetic thing and a virus and something else that was a bunch of bullshit. But I am coming up on two years of an alcohol-free life, myself, and even though I’m not an alcoholic, and even though I don’t do any recovery programs, I do know that addiction is powerful and all consuming. I know that it’s incredibly easy to convince yourself that you’ve got it under control, and that the rationalizations and justifications come as easily as opening another bottle after adding an empty one to the lie. Huh. I was going to write “line”, but my fingers made the first typo I think I’ve ever made that was more apt than what I intended. I want to be angry, but I can’t be. Stepto was sick, and he couldn’t get well, so he died. But while he was here, he was a good friend, and a magnificent human being. The world is better because he was in it, and the sun is not as warm or as bright as it was, now that he is gone.

(3) BOMBCON. Fanhistorian Rob Hansen has added the story of “Bombcon” (1941) to his THEN website. It happened in London during WWII. He’s assembled the text of two conreports plus supporting photos.

England’s biggest fan reunion for the last year was held over the weekend, September 20/21, when in spite of the manifold difficulties attending such a proposition – far in excess of anything the US fans encounter – a muster of some 14 was managed. At Saturday lunch time a party gathered to welcome Maurice Hanson, ex-editor of “Novae Terrae” who had wangled leave from Somerset. After some bookhunting in Charing X Road, the party saw the film “Fantasia”.

On Sunday, a crowd assembled in Liverpool St. stn. waiting room, and proceeded to convert it, in the approved manner of fan meetings, into a magazine mart. We rolled on to Holborn to meet author John Beynon Harris, nearly got arrested for taking photos of the gang, had tea, & held London’s first open air meeting of fans, in Lincoln’s Inn Fields….

(4) MEANING OF DECLINING NUMBERS OF STARS. John Scalzi’s “Four Views of the Same Short Story” uses reviews of his newly-published short story as the basis for an essay about how different readers perceive the same story differently and what authors should do about that.

…The text of the story is the same regardless of who reads it, but the experience of reading it is unique to the person reading.

This is a very important thing for writers (especially newer writers) to learn and build into their worldview: That everyone’s experience of your work, and any reviews they might then write, are inherently subjective, dependent on the person writing them, and there is nothing in the world you can do about that. That’s just the nature of putting work out into the world. Your job is to write the story as well as you can, and not worry overly much how it will be received. Because, as you can see above, it will be received well, and poorly, and everywhere inbetween.

And yes, learning to be okay with the fact everyone won’t love what you wrote is hard, because everyone has an ego, and everyone likes the validation of people enjoying their work…

(5) JOHN CARTER IS ALIVE! ALIVE! I09, in “John Carter Of Mars Is Getting an Action-Packed Romance RPG”, says –

Disney might have soured a few people on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic scifi saga, but John Carter and the world of Barsoom, Mars have been reborn with a new roleplaying game….

Modiphius Entertainment has announced its latest tabletop game, John Carter of Mars: Adventures on the Dying World of Barsoom. Working in cooperation with Burroughs’ estate, the pulp-action RPG lets players take on iconic roles like John Carter, Dejah Thoris, and Tars Tarkas (or a made-up character) “as they travel, battle, and romance their way across the wondrous and dangerous world known to its natives as Barsoom.” John Carter of Mars launched today on Kickstarter, and it’s already nearly tripled its fundraising goal.

The John Carter of Mars game rules are available on the Kickstarter page.

(6) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian liked Bizarro’s take on the Bard of Avon.
  • Tarpinian also recommends The Argyle Sweater, where they serve up some Transformer humor.
  • And I’m personally a fan of this cat joke at Bizarro.

(7) TRANSFORMATIVE WORK. The Washington Post’s John Kelly looks at the cheesy 1973 horror film Werewolf of Washington which he thinks has resonances with contemporary politics — “What a howl: Here’s the background story to ‘The Werewolf of Washington’”.

A few years later, one of that film’s producers asked Ginsberg whether he had anything else up his sleeve. As scandal was starting to engulf the Nixon White House — but before Watergate had exploded — Ginsberg went to New York’s Fire Island and in 10 days wrote “The Werewolf of Washington.”

Said Ginsberg: “I came back and the [producer] said, ‘Are you out of your mind? This is an attack on the president. The script is yours. Don’t ever show up here again.’?”

Another producer and some of Ginsberg’s friends stepped in to fund the movie, shot on a shoestring budget of $100,000. Somehow, they were able to get veteran actor [Dean] Stockwell to star. His career, Ginsberg said, “had fallen into eclipse at that time. He loved the script.”

(8) GAME CHANGER. NPR discusses “Fighting Bias With Board Games” — like Buffalo.

This is where Buffalo — a card game designed by Dartmouth College’s Tiltfactor Lab — comes in. The rules are simple. You start with two decks of cards. One deck contains adjectives like Chinese, tall or enigmatic; the other contains nouns like wizard or dancer.

Draw one card from each deck, and place them face up. And then all the players race to shout out a real person or fictional character who fits the description….

It’s the sort of game you’d pull out at dinner parties when the conversation lulls. But the game’s creators says it’s good for something else — reducing prejudice. By forcing players to think of people that buck stereotypes, Buffalo subliminally challenges those stereotypes.

“So it starts to work on a conscious level of reminding us that we don’t really know a lot of things we might want to know about the world around us,” explains Mary Flanagan, who leads Dartmouth College’s Tiltfactor Lab, which makes games designed for social change and studies their effects.

Buffalo might nudge us to get better acquainted with the work of female physicists, “but it also unconsciously starts to open up stereotypical patterns in the way we think,” Flanagan says.

In one of many tests she conducted, Flanagan rounded up about 200 college students and assigned half to play Buffalo. After one game, the Buffalo players were slightly more likely than their peers to strongly agree with statements like, “There is potential for good and evil in all of us,” and, “I can see myself fitting into many groups.”

(9) ALL GOOD THINGS. “End signalled for European Ariane 5 rocket” says the BBC — 82 straight successes, but Ariane 6 will be cheaper.

A final order for a batch of 10 Ariane 5 rockets has been raised.

The vehicle, which has been the mainstay of European launcher activity for the past 20 years, will be phased out once its successor is in place.

ArianeGroup, the French-led industrial consortium, expects its new Ariane 6 to be flying no later than mid-2020, and in full operational service in 2023.

At that point, Ariane 5 can be retired. The last order ensures sufficient rockets are available for the handover.

(10) BIGGER. How do you take away a crashed helicopter? With a bigger helicopter: “US Marines rescue their helicopter… with a bigger one” (video)

US Marines have rescued one of their helicopters after it made an emergency landing on a beach in Okinawa, Japan. The aircraft was airlifted back to base using an even bigger helicopter.

The US presence on Okinawa in southern Japan is a key part of the security alliance between the two countries. The base houses about 26,000 US troops.

(11) WITH FACTS UNCHECKED. It’s fascinating to see JDA start his post “I’m in Good Company” with the rhetorical fillip “I was wrong,”  then grandiosely “correct” himself by citing more misinformation.

It turns out I was wrong in saying WorldCon  made an unprecedented  move in banning someone over politics. It has happened — one time before. Today on the blog we’re going to take you all the way back to 1939, where WorldCon was, like in this year, all too proud of blackballing someone over their dangerous visionary ideas for science fiction. A reader wrote to me:

The Futurians were kicked out of the first Worldcon because organizers feared that they would distribute communist propaganda. The group included a number of luminaries including Asimov and Pohl.

Because  of their fear of not Asimov hurting anyone  (no one fears me hurting anyone by the evidence of how I’ve conducted myself at dozens of conventions in the past) — but spreading political ideas that they found too dangerous for the times  — WorldCon banned Isaac Asimov.

The implication is clear. The elites in science fiction believe I have the potential to be the next Asimov…

Asimov wasn’t kicked out of the first Worldcon. There are a lot of places you can learn who was (like this  Fancyclopedia entry.) Asimov wasn’t one of them — a fact he himself referenced when speaking at “Science Fiction’s 50th Anniversary Family Reunion” in 1989 (Noreascon 3), where he sounded less embarrassed than proud that he had not been turned back at the door with the six other Futurians.

(12) WHAT’S A MAP? Meanwhile, blogger The Phantom, determined to force a connection between the Worldcon and James Damore’s lawsuit against Google, performs this geographic sleight-of-hand:

What does this have to do with WorldCon? Well, this year’s WorldCon and Hugo award ceremony will be held in San Francisco. That’s where Google’s headquarters is, and where all the computer nerds who work at Google live.

Of course, Google’s headquarters is in Mountain View, and the Worldcon is in San Jose. Neither is in San Francisco.

(13) KING KONG. Steve Vertlieb’s 2014 Rondo-nominated article ”A Triple Life: King Kong’s Trinity of Reincarnation on Film” is “A published celebration of the enduring legacy, and profound cultural significance of Merian C. Cooper’s immortal 1933 motion picture masterpiece, King Kong, as well as its numerous cinematic incarnations, influences, and tributes throughout the past eighty five years.”

KING KONG related the remarkable tale of a giant beast, an impossible ape-ike creature whose imposing, horrifying shadow would follow the intrepid explorers whose heroic exploits had led them to its discovery.  Released by RKO Studios during the winter of 1933, the picture reunited Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong with Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack for yet another thrilling adventure in the lurid jungles of a primordial world.  They were joined by Bruce Cabot in, perhaps, the pivotal performance of his career.

(14) ADVERTISING ART. Andrew Liptak at The Verge recommended a documentary about a very rare collection:

The Collection is a short documentary (via Kottke) by Adam Roffman that chronicles a unique piece of Hollywood history: tens of thousands of plates and blocks used to create the newspaper advertisements used for nearly every film that hit theaters before the 1980s.

…The collection includes blocks used for films as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, Star Wars, Planet Of The Apes, and many others.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 3/19/16 The Fog Scrolled in on Pixilated Feet

(1) KEN LIU ON THE SCROLL. Ken Liu notes that we’re back to scrolling, in “The Grand Evolution of Books” at the Powell’s Books blog.

A similar shift may be happening today as we go from reading on paper codices back to endless (electronic) scrolls in the form of Web pages. Hyperlinks and sophisticated search functions have allowed scrolls to catch up to and even surpass the advantages of codices in random access and ease of reference, and electronic texts offer many more advantages: user-controlled text formatting and flow, instant access to encyclopedias and dictionaries, ease of note-taking and quote-sharing, community-based discussions, and so on.

Yet, we persist in pretending that the scroll is not authoritative.

Shocking.

(2) SCIENCE FICTION LEAGUE IN CHICAGO. Doug Ellis chronicles “Jack Binder and the Early Chicago SF Fan Club” at Black Gate.

Back in the mid-1930’s, one of the most active science fiction fan clubs was the Chicago Science Fiction Club, which had among its members such fans as Jack Darrow (among fandom’s most prolific writers of letters of comment to the SF pulps), Earl and Otto Binder (the Eando Binder writing team), Jack Binder (their brother, an artist), Walter Dennis and Paul McDermott (both of who had started the Science Correspondence Club in 1929 and later published The Comet, edited by Ray Palmer and arguably the first SF fanzine), William Dellenback, Allen Kline (brother of author Otis Adelbert Kline) and Howard Funk. The Chicago Club had formed as the Chicago Chapter of the Science Fiction League, the nationwide fan organization created and promoted by Wonder Stories. The Chicago Chapter’s activities were prominent in the pages of Wonder Stories, and in Sam Moskowitz’ words, it was “the outstanding chapter of the time.”

(3) DINING WITH DOYLE. Episode 4 of Scott Edelman’s Eating the Fantastic with Tom Doyle is now live —

Writer Tom Doyle and I recorded Episode 4 of Eating the Fantastic at Ethiopic Ethiopian restaurant nearby the Capitol, the Supreme Court, and Union Station in Washington D.C.—which unless I’m mistaken has the largest Ethiopian population outside of Ethiopia after so many resettled here during the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Tom’s the author of a contemporary fantasy series from Tor which began in 2014 with American Craftsmen, returned in 2015 with The Left Hand Way, and continues in the third installment War and Craft—the manuscript of which he handed in to his editor mere days before we met.

Edelman’s next guest will be Carolyn Ives Gilman.

(4) HAMILTON PHONES ADAMS. “The Legacy of 1776: A Conversation with William Daniels and Lin-Manuel Miranda” on New York City Center.

CITY CENTER: Before we get too deeply into ticketing, I want to talk a bit about 1776. Today we think of it as being in the pantheon of great musicals, but in the 1960s, the show was so unconventional that Sherman Edwards had a hard time getting it produced. “Some of the biggest [names] in the theater,” he recalled, “looked at me and said, ‘What, a costume musical? A costume, historical musical?’” Mr. Daniels, do you remember your initial reaction to the idea?

WD: I read the script with a bunch of people at somebody’s apartment. Sherman Edwards was a former schoolteacher from New Jersey, and he had written not just the songs, but the script. It was a little stiff; I remember thinking, We’re in the middle of Vietnam, for Christ’s sake, and they’re waving the flag? I really had to be talked into doing it. At any rate, when the script came back to me, Peter Stone had taken ahold of it, and he’d gone back to the actual conversations in the Second Continental Congress. He had written them out on little cards and injected them into the script, and it made all the difference in the world. It added humor and conciseness and truth.

LM: I love that anecdote, because it gets at something that I discovered in writing Hamilton: the truth is invariably more interesting than anything a writer could make up. That Peter Stone went back to the texts written by these guys, who were petty, brilliant, compromised—that’s more interesting than any marble saints or plaster heroes you can create. And the picture you all painted together of John Adams was so powerful; in the opening scene, he calls himself “obnoxious and disliked,” which is a real quote. We don’t have a John Adams in our show, but we can just refer to him, and everyone just pictures you, Mr. Daniels.

(5) SOVIET MOON LANDER. “Giant steps are what you take, walking on the Moon”, from The Space Review.

If there is an infinite number of universes, then certainly in one of them Alexei Leonov climbed down the ladder of the Soviet Lunniy Korabl (“lunar ship”) and put his bootprint on the surface of the Moon. But Leonov did not take such a step in our universe and, as a result, the Soviet effort to beat the Americans to the Moon is largely forgotten. Had the Soviets ever gotten that far, had they ever sent Leonov to the Moon, he would have died rather than eventually become a genial geriatric cosmonaut, ambassador of the Soviet space program, and living legend. That was my thought when looking at the ungainly and rickety LK-3 test article on display at London’s Science Museum a few weeks ago. It is the second time that a lunar landing craft has ever ventured outside of Russia (one was displayed at EuroDisney in Paris in the 1990s), and will probably be the last time for many, many years to come.

Soviet moon lander.

Soviet moon lander.

(6) ENTER STAGE LEFT. M. J. Herbert has a long, intensively researched piece about the earliest days of Doctor Who in “Doctor Who and the Communist: The art and politics of Malcolm Hulke” at Fantasies of Possibility.

The origins of Doctor Who Sydney Newman’s  success on ITV led him to being poached by the BBC, who offered a job as Head of Drama: he  started work in January 1963. Looking back 20 years later, when interviewed for a BBC oral history project, he described what he found at the BBC.

The material didn’t really cater to what I assumed to be the mass British audience. It was still the attitude that BBC drama was still catering to the highly educated, cultured class rather than the mass audience which was not aware of culture as such . But above all I felt that the dramas really weren’t speaking about common everyday things…” 

They needed to come up with a new series for was the late afternoon slot at 5:15 between the end of the afternoon sports programme Grandstand and the start of  Juke Box Jury. At a number of meetings in the spring of 1963 Newman and his staff evolved the notion of a mysterious Doctor who could travel in time and space. The aim of the series were educational, similar to Pathfinders in Space,  with the remit  of teaching its young audience in an enjoyable way  about space and history. In its first years the serials alternated between a science fiction adventure and an adventure set during a dramatic historical event such as the travels of Marco Polo, the Crusades, and the St Bartholomew’s Eve Massacre of 1572  (an extraordinary subject for a tea-time children’s serial, although no actual killings were shown).

Newman brought in as producer a young woman he had worked with at ABC, Verity Lambert, which caused a stir as the BBC was then a very male world. Verity persuaded the veteran actor William Hartnell to take on the role of the Doctor. Hartnell had been working as an actor since the 1930s,  but was frustrated by the limited roles he was being offered, often as an army sergeant. Verity had been impressed by his part in a recent British film This Sporting Life.

(7) TREK IN CONCERT. STAR TREK: The Ultimate Voyage visits the Hollywood Pantages Theatre on April 1-2.

Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage brings five decades of Star Trek to concert halls for the first time in this galaxy or any other.

This lavish production includes an impressive live symphony orchestra and international solo instruments. People of all ages and backgrounds will experience the franchise’s groundbreaking and wildly popular musical achievements while the most iconic Star Trek film and TV footage is simultaneously beamed in high definition to a 40-foot wide screen.

The concert will feature some of the greatest music written for the franchise including music from Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek: Insurrection, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Starfleet Academy and much more. This never-before-seen concert event is perfect for music lovers, filmgoers, science-fiction fans and anyone looking for an exciting and unique concert experience.

(8) SUPPLEMENTAL CHAOS. Brandon Kempner returns with an alternative set of rankings, “Final Best of 2015 SFF Critics Meta-List” at Chaos Horizon.

To supplement the mainstream’s view of SFF, I also collate 10 different lists by SFF critics. Rules are the same: appear on a list, get 1 point.

For this list, I’ve been looking for SFF critics who are likely to reflect the tastes of the Hugo award voters. That way, my list will be as predictive as possible. I’m currently using some of the biggest SFF review websites, under the theory that they’re so widely read they’ll reflect broad voting tastes. These were Tor.com, the Barnes and Noble SF Blog, and io9.com.

For the other 7 sources on my list, I included semiprozines, fanzines, and podcasts that have recently been nominated for the Hugo award. The theory here is that if these websites/magazines were well enough liked to get Hugo noms, they likely reflect the tastes of the Hugo audience. Ergo, collating them will be predictive. This year, I used the magazines Locus Magazine and Strange Horizons, the fan websites Book Smugglers, Elitist Book Reviews, and Nerds of a Feather (to replace the closing Dribble of Ink; Nerds didn’t get a Hugo nom last year, but was close, and I need another website), and fancasts Coode Street Podcast and SF Signal Podcast.

(9) LOCAL APES MEETUP. The Damn Dirty Geeks’ second annual Planet of the Apes Day gathering to celebrate the classic 1968 film Planet of the Apes and “all its sequels, remakes and re-imaginings”takes place April 2 at the Idle Hour Cafe in North Hollywood, CA (map below) beginning at 5 p.m.

The organizers ask those planning to attend to RSVP on the Facebook event page and note that you plan to be there in person. Space is limited.

(10) IRISH ORIGINS DEBATED. According to the Washington Post, “A man’s discovery of bones under his pub could forever change what we know about the Irish”. (Tolkien is quoted in the article.)

From as far back as the 16th century, historians taught that the Irish are the descendants of the Celts, an Iron Age people who originated in the middle of Europe and invaded Ireland somewhere between 1000 B.C. and 500 B.C.

That story has inspired innumerable references linking the Irish with Celtic culture. The Nobel-winning Irish poet William Butler Yeats titled a book “Celtic Twilight.” Irish songs are deemed “Celtic” music. Some nationalists embraced the Celtic distinction. And in Boston, arguably the most Irish city in the United States, the owners of the NBA franchise dress their players in green and call them the Celtics.

Yet the bones discovered behind McCuaig’s tell a different story of Irish origins, and it does not include the Celts.

“The DNA evidence based on those bones completely upends the traditional view,” said Barry Cunliffe, an emeritus professor of archaeology at Oxford who has written books on the origins of the people of Ireland.

(11) A DIFFERENT PUPPY DISCUSSION. Sarah Hollowell has a dialogue with Chester the Corgi, in “Put Fat Girls in Your SFF YA” at Fantasy Literature.

Yeah, you’re right. Okay. Okay. Let’s go.

You’re a fat teenage girl, and you love YA. You especially love scifi and fantasy. Space? Hell yeah. Magic schools? Hell yeah. Magic schools in space? Sign you up. And everyone says dystopias are out of style, but you still can’t get enough. Got it?

Got it.

So you read all these books, as many as you can, and it becomes difficult not to notice a pattern. You realize all the girls in all the books are just different kinds of skinny. You can’t for the life of you find a girl that looks like you. Books are supposed to help us dream and dream big but you’re starting to feel like you’re just too big to dream. You’ve read a couple books where fat girls get to be loved in the real world, and that’s wonderful, but fat girls don’t get whisked away into alternate worlds and told they’re a long lost princess. Fat girls don’t get to see the magical underside of New York City. Fat girls don’t save planets.

(12) DIED ON THIS DATE IN HISTORY

  • March 19, 1950 — Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • March 19, 2008 — Arthur C. Clarke

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born March 19, 1928 – Patrick McGoohan

(14) STARZ PRODUCTION OF GAIMAN NOVEL. In “’American Gods’ Casts Its Laura Moon”, The Hollywood Reporter says A Series of Unfortunate Events alum Emily Browning will take on the role in the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s fantasy novel.

(15) A METAPHOR FOR AN ANALOGY. “It’s Over Gandalf. We Need to Unite Behind Saruman to Save Middle Earth from Sauron!” at Daily Kos.

Gandalf had the crazy idea that some little hobbits could stand up to and defy the power of the billionaire class Dark Lord Sauron. But I guess that was a pipe dream after all.

Gandalf failed. He got his ass locked up atop Saruman’s tower when he foolishly defied the head of the Democratic Party council of wizards. And now that he’s locked up it’s not like some eagle is going to magically appear and rescue him. It’s over. And now Saruman is our only hope against Sauron.

We need to stop saying nasty things about Saruman or it will be difficult to rally the people of Middle Earth to his side. Here are some things we should no longer mention, or if we do, we should put a positive spin on them so people will still see Saruman is our only hope.

  • Saruman’s Environmental Record: While it is true that Saruman has supported clear cutting huge ancient forests, and while an old hippie tree hugger like Treebeard might tell you lots of those trees were his friends, we ARE talking about trees here. And sure, Gandalf has a much better record on the environment but he’s done now. It’s time to focus on how much worse Sauron’s environmental record is. I mean, have you seen Mordor?

(16) A TREE FALLS IN THE WOODS. Alastair Reynolds, in “’Slow Bullets’ and Sad Puppies”, says his request to be removed from the SP4 List has not yet been posted in comments at Mad Genius Club.

I was away for a few days without internet access and discovered when I returned that my novella “Slow Bullets” has been included on the “SP4” Sad Puppies list for Hugo nominators. At this point it’s of no concern to me whether this is a slate or a set of recommendations. Given the taint left by last year’s antics, I don’t care for any work of mine to be associated with any list curated by the Sad Puppies. The list was announced at Kate Paulk’s website Madgeniusclub.com. Late last night I left a comment asking – politely, I hope – for the story to be removed, but after I checked the site in the morning I couldn’t find my comment and the story was still listed. I’ve tried to leave another comment to the same effect.

(17) ANTIQUE PREHENSILE. In the event someone wants to run out and buy a fanzine I published in 1973, with a 1973-appropriate Grant Canfield nude on the cover, Prehensile 10 is for sale on eBay. Since the seller doesn’t say what the contents I wondered if I remembered correctly. Checked my file copy — yes, that’s the issue with Jerry Pournelle’s article about how to reform the Worldcon, written the year he was President of SFWA. Lots of good stuff by Richard Wadholm, Bill Warren, Jerry Pournelle, Marc Schirmeister and others.

(18) INSIDE JOKES. A mash-up of references to Bewitched and Star Wars in this Brevity cartoon.

(19) ALL LIT UP. Darth Maul: Apprentice, a Star Wars fan film, is basically 20 minutes of lightsaber fights.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mark-kitteh, Martin Morse Wooster, Will R., and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Gregory N. Hullender.]

Pixel Scroll 9/13 Pixellary Justice

(1) Why is Stieg Larsson’s fourth Millennium novel a news item for the scroll? Well, it is a book a lot of us will read, but that’s not the reason. Sweden’s Ahrvid Engholm supplies the connection in his coverage “From the Biggest Book Release of 2015: ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’” on Europa SF.

There were big news and no news at the Stockholm press conference (August 26th) for the fourth Millennium novel, “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” by David Lagercrantz. Big news because of all the speculations and hysteria around this book, in the international bestseller (80+ million copies world-wide) series created and written by Stieg Larsson….

Stieg Larsson was one of Sweden’s top science-fiction fans throughout the 1970’s, as fanzine publisher (titles like Fijagh, SFären, Långfredagsnatt) board member and later chairman of the Scandinavian SF Association (where Yours Truly met him every week for several years), for which he and Eva Gabrielsson also edited the memberzine. He then turned to nonfannish journalism, covering neonazi and racist movements, and became quite well-known, writing books and appearing on TV talking about that field. When he died in a heart attack 2004, the first volumne in the Millennium saga was just about to be published. He never lived to see his huge success.

(2) The SFEditors (Ellen Datlow, Gardner Dozois, Paula Guran, Rich Horton, and Jonathan Strahan) are practically machine-gunning out short fiction recommendations.

(3) io9 lists “11 Science Fiction Books That Are Regularly Taught in College Classes”.

“But where is Fahrenheit 451?” demands John King Tarpinian.

(4) Lock your doors!

(5) Lee Hutchinson’s review of The Martian on Ars Technica focuses on whether it got the science right.

Fortunately, The Martian, is a good blind date. Screenwriter Drew Goddard has translated Andy Weir’s novel into a script that keeps almost all of the science and humor intact, and director Ridley Scott allows the vast emptiness of Mars to speak for itself, while keeping the gimmicks to a minimum.

And, of course, Matt Damon does wonders for the role of Mark Watney—the best botanist on the planet. The planet of Mars.

(6) Tom Knighton reviews Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves and concludes:

Absolutely amazing book.  I now find myself eagerly awaiting the next book.  I only wish Stephenson had a tip jar on his website.  I’d easily kick him whatever his percentage should be, because he easily deserves it.

(7) The oft-interviewed Samuel R. Delany answers questions, this time in The Nation:

CD: What other writers were doing this kind of work in ways that resonated with you?

SD: The first white writer who wrote a black character I personally found believable—and I read lots and lots, both inside and outside science fiction—was Thomas M. Disch, in his 1968 New Wave novel Camp Concentration, first serialized in the British science-fiction magazine New Worlds, whose first installment appeared in its first tabloid-style issue. The presentation of Mordecai is one reason I think it’s such an important book in science fiction’s history. Yes, that book passed my own Turing test in a way that, for me, Faulkner’s black characters did not—as, indeed, many of his white characters failed to do for me as well, though I always found his language exacting, when it wasn’t exhausting. Tom told me later that he’d modeled Mordecai on a black classmate of his in the Midwest. But, boy, did I recognize him from my memories of myself and my black friends on the Harlem streets.

(8) Forry Ackerman wrote a fan letter to Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1931 — and got an answer. Read both on Letters of Note.

(9) Just found out somebody was selling these in 2009. (“See The World Through The Eyes of MST3K”.)

MT3K glasses

And somebody else 3-D printed a version that glows in the dark.

(10) Here’s a random connection. Batman creator Bob Kane is buried at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.

Cartoonist. Born in New York City, he was a comic book artist and writer, credited as the creator of the DC Comic’s superhero “Batman” character. He was a trainee animator when he entered the comic book field in 1936. Merging with DC Comics action series in 1938, editors were in a scramble for more heroes such as Superman. It was then when Kane who had influences from film actor action characters, conceived “Batman” as a superhero. Writer Bill Finger joined artist Kane and the “Batman” character debuted in DC’s Detective Comics series in May 1939, and was a breakout hit… (bio by: John “J-Cat” Griffith)

Who is Kane’s nearest neighbor? Stan Laurel.

Burial: Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills)

Los Angeles

Los Angeles County

California,

USA Plot: Court of Liberty, Lot #1310 (behind Stan Laurel).

(11) Jonathan Kay reports how he was sheared at Fan Expo Canada.

On Sunday, I took two of my daughters to the 2015 instalment of Fan Expo Canada, billed as “the largest Comics, Sci-fi, Horror, Anime, and Gaming event in Canada.” More than 100,000 fans show up annually for the four-day exhibition, which now sprawls over both buildings of the massive Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Under one roof, I was able to meet a life-size My Little Pony, compete in a Catan tournament, playtest emerging console video games, commission custom panels from famous cartoonists, pose with life-size Futurama characters, buy a fully functional 3D-chess set, and generally revel in all the various subcultures that the rest of society stigmatizes as dorky and juvenile. My girls and I have been to Fan Expo Canada three years in a row, and we always have a good time….

In fact, the best way to describe Fan Expo’s celebrity protocol is as a sort of Chicago Mercantile Exchange for human beings. Instead of live cattle, lean hogs, skimmed milk powder, cash-settled butter, and softwood pulp, this big board (displayed above) lists prices for Billy Dee Williams, Gillian Anderson, Danny Trejo, Neve Campbell, Norman Reedus, Skeet Ulrich, Zach Galligan, and fifty other stars and quasi-stars. The precision of the numbers suggests a fine-tuned demand-driven adjustment process that any commodities trader would recognize. Williams (Lando Calrissian from Star Wars, but you knew that) was listed at $57. Anderson (X-Files): $91. Danny Trejo (Machete): $74. Neve Campbell (Scream): $97. Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead): $130. Skeet Ulrich (Jericho): $68. Zach Galligan (Gremlins): $63. Just my luck: Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley, Harry Potter’s red-haired sidekick) was listed at $142—highest on the board. I wanted to bail out. But having made the mistake of getting dragged this far, turning back wasn’t going to be a good-dad move.

And it got worse. Fan Expo also sells “Team Ups”: Photo-ops that allow big spenders to pose with multiple cast members from the same show or movie. In the case of Potter fans, $260 gets you the “Weasley family”—featuring not only Grint, but the two actors who play his fictional twin brothers Fred (James Phelps) and George (Oliver Phelps). The twins alone could be had for a mere $102, but my daughters convinced me that the family plan offered “the best value.” A second print: another $10. Digital copy: That was extra, too. With frames and tax, I was in for well over $300….

“Fleeced,” “Rip-off,” “Sucker”—I’ve used some strong language here. But in fact, Fan Expo and the Weasleys were scrupulously honest. They promised me a photo for a printed price. And that’s exactly what they delivered. And it’s a great shot: Everyone’s beaming. We look like fast friends. Perfect for generating social media likes and green-envy emoticons.

(12) You probably haven’t read enough tortured reasoning about the Hugos and Sasquan lately and will be thrilled that a lawyer has been studying the possibilities of suing about the asterisks.

More here.

Asterisking the Hugo Nominations is therefore perfectly legal, UNLESS the presentation was unofficial… which WorldCon can deny at the drop of a formal filing. All three lawyers were convinced that the second WorldCon obtained legal representation, they’d be advised to throw their Hugo Committee Chair (and all of his emails to me) under the biggest bus they could find. While this would essentially invalidate the 2015 Hugos entirely, it was pointed out that the organization’s alternatives would be far more disastrous.

Why?

Because WorldCon had complete control of the venue and process, but did nothing to prevent (or even denounce) any illegal use of its trademarks therein. Failure to defend a trademark against known infringement endangers the trademark.

That’s entirely aside from the issue of fraud, which comes in under the heading of deliberate misrepresentation. WorldCon’s Hugo Chair isn’t saying that they are invalidating the Asterisks after the fact… instead, he’s saying the Asterisks were never legitimate to begin with. Yet at the actual event, they were publicly represented as THE official Nominee awards. Rather than treated as jokes, they were lionized by those on stage as representative of SF/F fandom as a whole.

The denial itself is an act of fraud, affecting all 2015 Hugo Voters, but in terms of public record the World Science Fiction Society has given every appearance of endorsing the Asterisk Awards as official. Were I to file action, they’d only need to respond with verification of their existing public position. That would invalidate any claim of damages I could make. Only if they formally back up their Hugo Chair do they risk anything.

As none of the lawyers I spoke to believe they’ll be that stupid, none want to accept the case at this point.

‘Tis clear as is the summer sun.

(13) Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best was published July 7. An anonymous contributor sent me this report on how the 2015 Hugo nominees fared.

But yesterday, I did compare the ballots to Gardner Dozois’s Year’s Best Table of Contents and Honorable mention list and came across something I find interesting…

Of all the nominees, both on the final ballot and those who dropped off the ballot, none of the stories made the table of contents and only two authors made the Honorable Mention list.

Given the positive comments about Annie Bellet and Kary English, it would be natural to think they might have made Gardner’s Honorable Mention list, but they didn’t.

The only Hugo nominated story to make Gardner’s honorable mention list was Michael Flynn’s “The Journeyman: In the Stone House,” which many of non-puppies complained was not a complete story since it is a part of a larger work.

The only other Hugo nominated author to make the list, amazingly enough for a non-Hugo related story, was John C. Wright, for “Idle Thoughts.”

(14) John Scalzi would do it this way – “My Almost Certainly Ill-Advised Proposed Award Voting Process”.

  1. How the vote works: There are three voting rounds: Nomination, long list, and finalist.

Nomination: Everyone votes for one and only one work (or person, if it’s that sort of category) in the category. The top ten or twelve vote-getters are sent to the long list stage (ties, etc are fine but the goal would be to get number of long list nominees as close to the ideal long list number as possible).

Long List: Everyone votes for up to three works on the long list, none of which can be the single work they originally nominated. That’s right! You have to choose something else in this stage, and hope enough other people like the work you originally nominated to include it among their own selections!

But what if people choose not to make selections in the stage in the hope that their lack of selection of other work will bump up the chances of their preferred work? Well, I would consider making a rule that says failure to participate in this round counts as a point against your original choice’s score in this round — which is to say if you don’t vote in this round, a point is deducted for your original choice’s score in this round (presuming it made the long list at all). You’re better off voting if you want your original selection to make it to the final round.

In this round, the top five or six vote-getters graduate to the final round. Hope your original choice made it!

Finalist: This vote is done “Australian Rules” style, where each voter ranks the works from first to last choice. “No Award” is an option in this round, so if you hated everything in the long list round, this is where you may register your disapproval. The winner is the one which collects the majority of votes, in either the first or subsequent balloting rounds.

(15) The Sci-Fi Air Show is an incredible bit of imaginative work.

What if instead of using sets, models and special effects, the producers of science fiction films and television shows constructed full sized flying spaceships? That is the premise of the Sci-Fi Air Show.

In a similar story arc to the Batmobile and the Aries 1B miniature from 2001: A Space Odyssey, these ships would have likely been sold off, traded, hidden away in basements and eventually rescued, restored and put on public display.

The images you see here on the site are photographs of practical miniature spaceships digitally blended with actual air show backgrounds. It is a fantasy air show that only exists on line, but appeals to many of us who, at one time, believed that these ships of fantasy really could fly.

(16) If somebody wanted to run real museum like that, they could begin by gathering up this abandoned wooden space shuttle.

Wooden shuttle COMP

While exploring an abandoned corner of the Zhukovsky airfield (Ramenskoye Airport) in Moscow two years ago, aviation photographer Aleksander Markin stumbled onto a forgotten relic of Russia’s Buran Space Program. This decaying wooden spacecraft was used as a wind tunnel model in the 1980s for the VKK Space Orbiter, the largest and most expensive Soviet space exploration program conceived as a response to the United States’ Space Shuttle. Despite its scientific purposes the wooden ship has the appearance of a fantastic children’s playground feature.

According to Urban Ghosts, this 1:3 scale replica was just one of 85 wind tunnel models used to test various aerodynamic properties of the orbiter. The testing would eventually reveal that NASA’s prototype for the Enterprise was ideal for spaceflight and the VKK Space Orbiter would take a similar design as a result.

(17) Huffington Post helped an astronaut take down a tabloid story in “The UFOs Didn’t Come In Peace! Astronaut Sets Record Straight on ET Nuclear War”.

Few people are surprised by the eye-popping headlines in The Mirror. But when the infamous British tabloid quoted astronaut Edgar Mitchell as saying that “UFOs came in peace” to “save America from nuclear war,” it shocked everybody — including Mitchell.

“I don’t know where The Mirror got the story,” Mitchell, 84, said in an email to The Huffington Post, accusing the paper of fabricating his quotes and denying that an interview for this story ever took place.

The sixth man to walk on the moon has been outspoken over the years in his belief that extraterrestrials have visited the Earth and the moon — and that the government is withholding vital information about UFOs. Still, Mitchell insists the Aug. 11 Mirror story has no basis in the truth and disavows the information in it.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Will R., Ed, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Free John Carter

Actually, John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood will be free in the Kindle edition until February 7 at midnight (PST).

Michael Sellers’ account has been endorsed by no less a luminary than Richard A. Lupoff, author of Edgar Rice Burroughs: Master of Adventure and Barsoom: Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Martian Vision (and a distinguished faned!):

A Timeless Classic Becomes a Hollywood Calamity of Historic Proportions
It took 100 years to bring Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars to the big screen. It took Disney Studios just ten days to declare the film a flop, withdraw it from distribution, and lock it away in the Disney vaults. How did this project, despite its quarter-billion dollar budget, the brilliance of director Andrew Stanton, and the creative talents of legendary Pixar Studios, become a calamity of historic proportions?

Michael Sellers, a filmmaker and Hollywood insider himself, saw the disaster approaching and fought to save the project – but without success. In John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood, Sellers details every blunder and betrayal that led to the doom of the motion picture – and that left countless Hollywood careers in the wreckage.

John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood is a must-read for every fan of John Carter and Edgar Rice Burroughs, and every film buff intrigued by the “inside baseball” aspects of modern Hollywood.

[Via Boing Bong, thanks to John King Tarpinian for the link.]

Bill Warren: John Carter

[Bill gave me permission to post his reaction to the John Carter movie, part of an exchange with Bjo Trimble. It’s helpful to bear in mind Bjo’s first sentence about Bill liking the movie. The promotional campaign, not so much…]

Bjo: Good to hear that you liked John Carter. I hate the trailers, don’t like the look of the hero, and don’t care for the derivative monsters and things. But that’s all from the trailers. Maybe I’ll go see it.

Bill Warren: The entire promotion campaign for this movie was moronic.  The first big mistake was in not promoting it at the last two Comic-Cons; they chose to promote it only at an all-Disney proprietary convention.  Next, they dropped “…of Mars” from the title because focus groups told them no woman would see a movie with the word “Mars” in the title; they were going by the utter disaster of their own Mars Needs Moms.  They decided to do nothing whatsoever to connect it to the Tarzan lore, and initially didn’t even feature the name “Edgar Rice Burroughs” in their ads and trailers.  Those trailers emphasized the wrong stuff; they had little sense of adventure, of thrills, of the wonders of visiting another world, and nothing whatsoever of the occasional humor; even the one shot of Woola the calot isn’t amusing, but he’s funny in the film.  They said nothing about the fact that the Mars books were tremendously influential on Star Wars and especially Avatar; weird that they did not try to hook their movie to what is nothing less than the most successful movie of all time.  James Cameron himself has cited the Barsoom books as one of his main inspirations; so has Lucas.  The current promotional campaign is different (because it’s being run by completely different people than those who handled the first go-round)–and connects the movie to Star Wars, Avatar, Ray Bradbury, etc., even mentioning Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke as being among those who loved the book.  But it’s probably a day late and two hundred million dollars short. 

The movie has some problems — but they’re mostly in pacing, not in how the book(s) has/have been adapted (the Therns, prominent here, first showed up in the 2nd Barsoom novel).  It’s immense, a gigantic epic — there’s a scene of a few thousand Tharks shouting John Carter’s Barsoomian name.  And a wedding scene in Helium that is bigger than any other wedding scene, ever; it’s bigger than Cleopatra’s entrance to Rome in Cleopatra (the one with Liz).  Dejah Thoris doesn’t really need all that much rescuing, and is a brilliant scientist on her own–as well as tough as a buzz saw.  The relationship between Carter and Tars Tarkas, and between Tars Tarkas and Sola, are exactly as in the book.  There’s a bit more humor than in Burroughs, who didn’t use it often (though I love the “Chessmen of Mars Chapter” ‘Ghek Plays Pranks’), and quite a bit more to Carter’s character.  The special effects are, of course, perfect; this much money had to have that result.  We can even believe Carter leaping around like a flea (though it takes him a bit to learn to do that).  The movie is very well cast, especially Lynn Collins (Dejah Thoris), Mark Strong (the main Thern) and James Purefoy (in briefly as Kantos Kan, but terrific, very amusing, very Errol Flynnish.  He was Mark Antony in the HBO series “Rome.”)

Resnick GoH at PulpFest 2012

Mike Resnick will be PulpFest 2012’s Guest of Honor. While Resnick’s record as an award-winning writer and spellbinding raconteur is all the reason any con needs to crown him GoH, among his latest projects  is one PulpFest members will certainly applaud.

A recognized authority on the works of Burroughs, Mike is currently editing, with Bob Garcia, The Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs, an anthology of mostly original stories inspired by Burroughs and his creations. It will be published by Baen Books.

The PulpFest committee concludes:

With this year being the hundredth anniversary of the start of Burroughs’ writing career, it is fitting that our guest of honor is an author who, early in his career, “wanted nothing more than to write books in the style of Edgar Rice Burroughs.”

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Tarzan’s Creator Can’t Take It Anymore

In a 1941 letter Edgar Rice Burroughs told his daughter Joan: “If anyone says a kind word about my work nowadays, as you did, I nearly break down and cry.”

Why? In the typescript posted at Letters of Note Burroughs explained:

I am getting damned sick of hearing people apologize to me for reading my stories, or pretend to grouse because they have had to read them to their children, or say that they used to read them while they were in kindergarden [sic] but have not read any for years and years. It used to amuse me, but I guess I must be losing my sense of humor.

But ERB had already thought of a stunning comeback and confided it to his daughter:

“Well, you homely looking abortion, if you had the brains of a cross-eyed titmouse you’d keep your fool mouth shut instead of knocking inspired literature that has entertained a hundred million people for over a quarter of a century !!!”

He clearly was ahead of his time. In 1941 such vitriolic wit had to be confned to private letters. But transported to the 1970s could have held up his end of an Ellison/Asimov-style faceoff. Or today he would have made a helluva blogger.

[Thanks to David Klaus for the link.]