When You Fall Off the Internet, You Have to Get Right Back On

[Editor’s Note: Twenty years ago I reprinted Bill Bowers’ catalog of online fanac, Fan Basic 101, in an issue of File 770. As a companion piece, I wrote about my own experiences as a novice website creator. They now make a rather nostalgic set of confessions.]

By Mike Glyer: If you have to write your own HTML code, designing a web page is a lot like being forced to solve one of those word problems that starts “if a train leaves Baltimore at 50 miles per hour.” On the other hand. I’ve always used Microsoft Publisher and I feel the experience combines the best features of building blocks and finger-painting, with no tidying afterwards.

I started out like an Internet neo, searching for free icons, copying blinky lights, culling through hundreds of animated GIFs, and thieving other pages’ colorful backgrounds. Naturally, I also spent hours selecting a  free hit counter.

A link on CompuServe’s Ourworld (which hosts my web page) led me to a suite of icons created from photographs of the nine planets as seen from space. They are very well crafted, and float beautifully on a mottled gray background reminiscent of a lunar landscape. I made them the thematic elements of my main page.

Somewhere else I found three sets of animated red, yellow and green console lights that blink at slow, frequent, and rapid speeds. Every article about web page design warns against loading a page with too many animated files and blinking lights. Because “too many” is not a numerical limit, I am free to assume that the ten or twelve blinky lights I’ve used as hyperlinks to news stories is not “too many.”

Once I had my web page set up, I wanted it to be easy for you to read and use. My first concern was the address:

http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/mglyer/f770/index.html

Try getting anyone to type a 55-character address! One solution is getting other web pages to link to mine. Then, the only person who ever has to type the address correctly is the other webmaster. Chaz Boston Baden and the Chicon 2000 page have sent some of you my way. I’d like to set up reciprocal links with more fannish web pages. 

I’ve also thought about how to get a shorter URL. The obvious way is to register my own domain and pay to have it hosted on a server. Domain registration costs about $70 for the first two years. At that price I have to ask, for the number of hits I’m going to get, does it make more sense to pay for my own domain, or just send each of you a dollar bill with a polite request to look at the site?

Another way to get a shorter URL is by going through someone else’s domain. Charlie, how about — www.locusmag.com/file770….?

Or maybe I can go in with a local group. SCIFI wants to set up a web page to get some good publicity. Shaun Lyon offered to handle the whole thing for us through Network Solutions. His own “Dr. Who” pages are getting 12,000 hits a day. Hearing that, I darned near left the meeting to drive home and add some  “Dr. Who” stuff to my site.

But no. If the sole object was to reach the maximum number of people, it would have made the most sense to convert File 770 to an e-mailed zine. The medium’s practically free. The audience is still there — most, if by no means all, fans get e-mail. Best of all, fans will immediately read something delivered to them, whereas many will never get around to browsing a fannish web page, or necessarily look at one more than once. Despite the advantages I’m not going to do that. Developing layouts that flow text and art together is something I enjoy too much to give up editing a paper fanzine. Designing a web page involves the same pleasures, and adds new dimensions of color, animation, sound and mutability.

As yet, a faned can’t use e-mail to achieve all he can do on a web page. The culture of e-mail use, more than technology, is the main barrier to distributing documents with the same level of design complexity found on a web page. Any use of graphics rapidly increases a document’s size, and fans don’t seem to appreciate receiving unsolicited 400K e-mails. (Bill Bowers handles this by sending a notice that his e-zine is available for you to request.) There are also some technical limits. A document’s layout is unlikely to remain stable if it is read by a different program than created it. And megabyte-sized files will be rejected by the filters on some services.

So for the time being, I’m investing my energy in a web page, and keeping it consistent with the purpose of the paper File 770,  not adding any Doctor Who stuff. Of course, I want more people to read it.  I assume that when I mail out 325 copies of File 770, 325 people read it. What if I actually knew the truth, the way I know how many readers access my web page? In fact, the number on my hit counter hasn’t changed since last Thursday. Odd how that little counter subverts everything. Suddenly, I don’t need LoCs, I don’t need contributions — I need a big number! I want to win! How can I tap the power of the Internet to draw an audience and shift my counter into overdrive?

I heard there were free services that promote web pages. A search on Altavista promptly retrieved a list of 14. The first one I looked at – SelfPromotion.com — worked so satisfactorily I’ve made no comparisons. SelfPromotion.com is an easy-to-use, free site with extensive and intelligent coverage of search engines and indexes.

It’s even fun to use. SelfPromotion.com’s designer believes – correctly – that users will disdain the simplest instructions and blunder ahead, filling in blanks on the computerized forms with their unenlightened best guesses. So the designer steers us to a tutorial cleverly written as a dialogue between himself and his 6-year-old son. The tutorial proceeds as if we adults were looking over little James Ueki’s shoulder as he learns how to make Dad’s site promote his first web page:

“At first, James wants to use the account name ‘Anakin Skywalker,’ but after Dad explains who Anakin grows up to be, James (unimaginatively) decides to use his name as his account name, and his nickname (‘jkun’ is Japanese for ‘jimmy’) as his password. Dad will have to talk to him about choosing an unguessable password later!”

Fellows like Dad and I are too grown-up to need instructions ourselves, of course, but I closely watch little Jimmy’s progress so that I won’t be embarrassed by making any errors he’s managed to avoid. Along the way I pick up a lot of good information about the differences between a search engine and an index, what they’re looking for and strategies to optimize a page for selection.

He makes Yahoo sound like the grail for anyone trying to increase traffic on their website. He says that Yahoo is selective and it helps a page get listed if it has won some legitimate awards. So my first thought was to go back to the ISP that hosts my page, CompuServe’s “Ourworld,” and apply for consideration as Ourworld’s  Site-of-the-Day.

Within hours of getting my e-mail, they notified me that my page had been “suspended.” They sternly reminded me about the three cardinal rules Ourworld homepages must obey: (1) they can’t violate copyright, (2) they can’t post pornography, and (3) they can’t carry on a business. I hadn’t done (1) or (2). That left (3). I knew this was about the subscription rates in the colophons. So I spent a couple of hours finding and deleting the subscription info and reloading the page. The authorities did not trouble me again.

I may never get listed on Yahoo, but I did become CompuServe Out-of-Sight for a day.
Meantime, the SelfPromotion.com robots are doing their work. I’ve been listed on at least one search engine. Where? I’ll give you a hint.

People on the island of Vanuatu can’t brag very often about having something North America lacks. Now added to that very short list is getting the File 770 web page indexed on Matilda, their local Internet portal. The Matilda search engine has a series of portal pages tailored for users throughout the South Pacific, including Vanuatu, though Australia and New Zealand probably account for most of their traffic. Matilda added File 770‘s page to its index within two days of submission, a decision encouraged by the frequent mention of “Australia” in stories about the latest Worldcon. Until Altavista, Excite, and perhaps the big prize, Yahoo!, catch up with Matilda’s leadership, fan(s) on Vanuatu will have a lot easier time searching for the File 770 web page than most of you.

But please keep trying!

[The only place you can see that old website anymore isn’t on Vanuatu but at the Internet Archive.]

2020 Locus Awards Shortlist

The 2020 Locus Awards finalists have been posted at Locus Online. See the full list at the link, but here’s one category of particular interest!

MAGAZINE

  • Analog
  • Asimov’s
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • Clarkesworld
  • F&SF
  • File 770
  • Lightspeed
  • Strange Horizons
  • Tor.com
  • Uncanny

Winners will be announced June 27, 2020 at the virtual Locus Awards Weekend; Connie Willis will MC the awards ceremony. Additional weekend events are planned. Supporting/virtual memberships are available and come with a Locus t-shirt.

Walter Day Will Debut SF Trading Cards at 2020 Balticon

Walter Day, the trading card creator who also celebrates video games and historical figures, has announced that Balticon will host his 2020 Science Fiction Trading Card Award Ceremony on Saturday, May 23 at 2 p.m. Day will unveil the newest cards in the Science Fiction Series and present ornate awards to worthy honorees who have contributed greatly to the global science fiction culture.

In recent years this ceremony has been conducted at WorldCon 74 (Kansas City), WorldCon 75 (Helsinki, Finland), WorldCon 76 (San Jose) as well as smaller ceremonies at the last five years of the Nebula Awards Weekend.

This year’s awards ceremony will be held at Balticon 54, which is the annual Maryland Regional Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention put on by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. Here are some of the trading cards that will be unveiled during these ceremonies and given away as free gifts to the attendees at the event. I thank Walter for including my card in this release!

(Note: Day says he has already corrected the spelling of Leibowitz, but he hasn’t posted the new art.)

Day has held his ceremony in conjunction with major cons and events over the past several years. Card #65 (author C. J Cherryh) was presented on the stage during the 2016 Nebula Awards weekend festivities, in Chicago, IL. Card #34 (author Robert Silverberg) was among many presented on the stage during the Grand Masters Talk at the 2016 WorldCon, in Kansas City, MO. On Saturday, May 18, 2019, at the 2019 SFWA Nebula Awards Conference in Los Angeles, Science Fiction Historical Trading Card #211 was presented to William Gibson — the author of Neuromancer — as part of the ceremonies that enshrined him as the 2019 SFWA Damon Knight Grand Master of Science Fiction.

Here is a link to the full gallery of the 182 Science Fiction Historical Trading Cards already in print.

Day first gained fame as a video arcade owner and for his work certifying video game achievements for the Guinness Book of Records. He is widely recognized as the inspiration for Mr. Litwak, the beloved arcade owner in Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph animated film released in November 2012.

Ready Player One author Ernest Cline says Walter Day (along with Twin Galaxies arcade and Billy Mitchell) were the inspiration for writing his story in 2011, later adapted for the screen by Steven Spielberg.

[Card art reproduced with permission.]

Filers at Worldcon — A Schedule

By Hampus Eckerman: Now that the Dublin 2019 Worldcon Program has arrived, I have tried to compile all schedule with all appearances of Filers. I might have missed some, especially when I can’t remember what names they have apart from the nick, so there might be gaps. Please enter a comment here if I have missed you.

I also added the main events that I expect a lot of Filers will be at, and thus not good for meetups (Opening Ceremonies, Business Meeting, Masquerade, Hugos, Closing Ceremony).

After having reviewed these schedules, my proposal for Filer meetups are the following:

First Filers Almost Sleeping on SFF Meetup

Thursday 15:th of August, 18:00

I will try to find out the best place for the meetup, somewhere in the convention center (or extremely close nearby). This should be a good place to meet to go to the Opening Ceremonies together for those that haven’t already made arrangement with other fans. Or go and have a snack together before.

Filer Live Action Pixel Scroll Meetup

Saturday 17:th of August, 17:30 – 19:30

There will still be a collision with some filer panels here, but it is a hard time to find a gap where no one is occupied. I will try to book something as close as possible to the convention center.  We can do a meetup in the convention center and walk together.

Thursday 15th of August

  • 10:00 – 10:50      Fanzines Now!     Greg Hullender
  • 11:00 – 11:50      Is it about a bicycle? The influences of a comedic genius     Nicholas Whyte, Nigel Quinlan
  • 11:00 – 11:50      Crime and punishment in the age of superheroes     Chris M. Barkley
  • 11:30 – 12:20      Introduction to working with leather     Ingvar Mattsson
  • 12:00 – 12:50      A musical history of swedish fandom    Karl-Johan Norén
  • 13:00 – 13:50      Non-English language SFF television     Cora Buhlert
  • 13:00 – 13:50      Reading     Jo Walton  
  • 13:00 – 13:50      Evolution of Fanzines     Jerry Kaufman
  • 13:30 – 14:20      Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker     Liz Bourke
  • 14:00 – 14:50      Sports in science fiction and fantasy     Chris M. Barkley
  • 14:00 – 14:50      Dragons and debutantes: fantasy set in the Regency     Heather Rose Jones
  • 15:30 – 17:20      Speed crafting – session 1     Cora Buhlert
  • 15:30 – 16:20      How to Manage Finite Natural Resources     Nigel Quinlan
  • 16:00 – 16:50      ‘Celtic’ Fantasy and Mythology     Kathryn Sullivan
  • 16:00 – 17:50      Mark Protection Committee (MPC) meeting     Kevin Standlee
  • 16:30 – 17:20      Armour and armour-making     Ingvar Mattsson
  • 17:00 – 17:50      Literary Beer: Ellen Datlow     Ellen Datlow
  • 17:00 – 17:50      Is Literary Escapism Good for Kids?     Nigel Quinlan
  • 18:00 – 18:50      Talking Animal Characters in SFF     Lise Andreason
  • 20:00 – 20:50      Introduction to hopepunk     Jo Walton
  • 20:00 – 21:50      Opening Ceremonies, featuring the 1944 Retro Hugo Awards 

Friday 16th of August

  • 10:00 – 12:50      WSFS Business Meeting: preliminary
  • 10:00 – 10:50      Autographs     Jo Walton
  • 10:30 – 11:20      Star Trek: Discovery season 3     Liz Bourke
  • 11:30 – 12:20      So you want to enter the Masquerade?     Kevin Roche
  • 10:30 – 11:20      Autographs     Catherynne Valente
  • 12:00 – 12:50      Bridging the language barrier: translated SFF     Cheryl Morgan
  • 13:00 – 13:50      Sharp storytelling     Ingvar Mattsson
  • 15:00 – 15:50      Introduction to SFF romance     Cora Buhlert
  • 15:00 – 15:50      How to create anthologies     Ellen Datlow
  • 16:00 – 16:50      Using SFF as sandboxes for ideas on politics and society     Nicholas Whyte 
  • 16:30 – 16:50      Reading     Catherynne Valente
  • 17:00 – 17:50      Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading     Kathryn Sullivan
  • 17:00 – 17:50      Autographs     Ellen Datlow
  • 19:00 – 19:50      Hugo finalists discussion: Best Dramatic Presentation     Olav Rokne
  • 20:00 – 20:50      Anniversary: The Left Hand of Darkness (book)     Cheryl Morgan

Saturday 17th of August

  • 10:00 – 10:50      Revolutions in an era of advanced technology     Catherynne Valente
  • 10:00 – 11:00      Masquerade contestant briefing     Kevin Roche
  • 10:00 – 12:50      WSFS Business Meeting: main session
  • 11:00 – 11:50      Critics talk 2018: the year in books     Liz Bourke
  • 12:00 – 12:50      Building the SFF community online     Heather Rose Jones
  • 13:00 – 13:50      Kaffeeklatsch     Catherynne Valente
  • 13:30 – 14:20      The global multiverse: the comics scene worldwide     Cora Buhlert
  • 13:30 – 14:20      Re-imagining national epics     Jo Walton
  • 14:00 – 14:50      Young adults versus… the world!     Catherynne Valente
  • 15:00 – 15:50      Changing climates, changing world     Olav Rokne
  • 15:30 – 16:20      Robots before RUR     Cheryl Morgan
  • 16:00 – 16:50      Group Reading: Speculative Performance Poetry     Nigel Quinlan
  • 16:00 – 17:50      Fan Funds Auction     Jerry Kaufman
  • 17:00 – 17:50      Tall technical tales     Ingvar Mattsson
  • 17:00 – 17:50      Horror: where are we going?     Ellen Datlow
  • 17:00 – 17:50      Kaffeeklatsch     Jo Walton
  • 20:00 – 22:00      Masquerade 
  • 21:00 – 21:50      Panel show: ‘That was unexpected!’     Catherynne Valente 

Sunday 18th of August

  • 10:00 – 10:50      What I read when I was young     Catherynne Valente
  • 10:00 – 12:50      WSFS Business Meeting: Site Selection
  • 10:00 – 10:50      Autographs      Heather Rose Jones
  • 10:00 – 10:50      Down the Rabbit Hole: The Appeal of Portal Fantasy     Kathryn Sullivan
  • 11:00 – 11:50      Orville vs. Discovery     Lise Andreason
  • 11:00 – 11:50      How Science and Ordinary People Can Change the Future     Rich Lynch
  • 13:30 – 14:20      Get us out of the Twilight Zone: the work of Jordan Peele     Chris M. Barkley
  • 14:00 – 14:50      Ditch Diggers podcast: live recording     Ursula Vernon
  • 15:00 – 15:50      Breaking into short horror fiction markets     Ellen Datlow
  • 15:00 – 15:50      Autographs     Kathryn Sullivan
  • 15:30 – 16:00      Children’s singalong / filking session     Karl-Johan Norén
  • 15:30 – 16:20      Behind the seams of the Masquerade     Kevin Roche
  • 15:30 – 16:20      Fan podcasts     Heather Rose Jones
  • 16:00 – 16:50      Using science in fantasy writing     Jo Walton
  • 16:00 – 16:50      Origins of Irish Fandom     Jerry Kaufman
  • 17:30 – 18:20      Parents and children in fandom     Karl-Johan Norén
  • 20:00 – 22:00      The 2019 Hugo Awards Ceremony

Monday 19th of August

  • 10:00 – 12:50      WSFS Business Meeting
  • 10:00 – 10:50      No, what do you mean by AI?     Kevin Roche 
  • 10:30 – 11:20      Irish science and scientific discoveries     Nicholas Whyte
  • 11:00 – 11:50      Breaking the Glass Slipper podcast: live recording     Jo Walton
  • 11:00 – 11:50      Kaffeeklatsch     Liz Bourke
  • 13:30 – 14:20      Challenges in men’s costume     Kevin Roche
  • 13:30 – 13:50      Reading     Heather Rose Jones
  • 16:30 – 17:20      Irish Myths and Legends for Children     Nigel Quinlan
  • 16:30 – 17:20      Closing Ceremonies

[Update 08/05/2019: Added Filer schedule items.]

File 770 Gatherings at Worldcon 76


By Rick Moen: Two File 770 gatherings near Worldcon 76 are planned so far — the evenings of Thursday, August 16 and Friday, August 17.

Thursday:

6:30 p.m. onwards (at end of Opening Ceremonies), starting at
Forager Tasting Room & Eatery
420 S 1st Street, S. of W. San Salvador Street
http://sjforager.com/
(408) 831-2433

Rick Moen (me, the organizer) will be walking there from Opening Ceremonies (Forager being just over a block east). Look for a tall guy wearing a Panama hat, if you want to tag along.

Forager is a cavernous but non-noisy place for local beers and ciders, with light food offerings (not full meals; Filer Charon D. described these as ‘kale salad and sandwiches and things’) and long tables, so a big Filer crowd can gather and converse. On Thursdays, like many San Jose establishments, Forager closes at 8 p.m.: I figure many attendees will wish to reconvene, then or earlier, to one or more nearby restaurant, so I’ll have a map and list of suggestions, including Bo Town, a Chinese family-style restaurant with some Vietnamese dishes, on the same block as Forager and open daily to 10pm.

Bo Town Chinese Restaurant
409 S. 2nd Street, S. of W. San Salvador Street
http://www.botown-sanjose.com/
(408) 295-2125

Friday:

7 p.m. onwards at
Back A Yard Caribbean Grill
80 N Market Street, north of W. Santa Clara Street
http://www.backayard.net/
(408) 294-8626

This restaurant offering amazing Jamaican food is 850 metres north of the convention centre (1/2 mile), about five blocks up Market Street, and a short walks from both the Santa Clara Station and St. James Station VTA light-rail stops. Tables are big enough, it’s not too noisy, and it probably won’t be crowded. Friday, it’s open to 9pm. It’s not fancy, being all about the excellent cooking.

Steve Davidson has kindly offered the Amazing Stories Magazine booth (which I assume will be in the Dealers’ Room) as a place to meet and leave messages.

Interested in calling an additional File770 gathering? Good! Please send details to Mike Glyer (mikeglyer(at)cs(dot)com), and then I assume he’ll update this posting.

Rick Moen can be SMSed or voice-called on his mobile at +1 (650) 283-7902.

Filers on Worldcon 76 Program

Compiled by Hampus Eckerman: I tried to write down a schedule of all filers that are part of programming on Worldcon.

If you’re a commenter or a lurker here, and you’d like to have your programming items added to this list, please comment below or send an e-mail to mikeglyer [at] cs [dot] com.

Thursday:

14:00 Kevin Standlee: WSFS Mark Protection Committee Meeting
15:00 Gideon Marcus: Beyond Yaoi: Trends in LGBTQ+ Representation in Anime & Manga
15:00 Chris M. Barkley: A Short History of the YA Award Category
16:00 John Hertz: My First Worldcon
16:00 Douglas Berry, Gideon Marcus: How Gaming is Important to Fandom

Friday:

08:00 Adam Rakunas: Wrun With Writers
08:00 Cat Rambo: SFWA Business Meeting
09:00 Steve Davidson, Greg Hullender: Stroll With The Stars
10:00 Gideon Marcus: The Art and Craft of Anthology Curation
11:00 Ann Leckie: Pronouns Matter — Gender Courtesy for Fans
11:00 John Hertz: Classics of SciFi: The Sword of Rhiannon
11:00 Cat Rambo: Successfully Negotiating Book Contracts
11:00 Bill Higgins: The Myth of the Astronaut – Who Are the Space Cadets of Yesterday,
Today, and Tomorrow?
13:00 Ann Leckie: Kaffeeklatsch
13:00 James Bacon: Future WSFS Conventions
13:00 Gideon Marcus: Come Time Travel With Me
14:00 Heather Rose Jones: Autographs
15:00 Cat Rambo: What Can SFWA Offer Me
15:00 Ann Leckie: Autographs
16:00 Gregory Benford: Commentary on “Chesley Bonestell: A Brush With The Future”
16:00 Greg Hullender: Evolution of the Fanzine
17:00 Ctein: Kaffeeklatsch
17:00 Gregory Benford: Autographs
19:00 Adam Rakunas: Reading

God Stalk Bonus: 17:00 PC Hodgell: Autographs

Saturday:

10:00 John Hertz: Classics of SciFi: A Mirror For Observers
12:00 Gregory Benford: Kaffeeklatsch
12:00 Lee Whiteside: 25 Years of Babylon 5
13:00 Ann Leckie: Reading: Hugo Finalists – Best Novel
13:00 Cat Rambo: Autographs
13:00 James Bacon: Eurovision: A Science Fictional Spectacular Spectacle
14:00 Chris M. Barkley: In Memoriam: Harlan Ellison
15:00 Cat Rambo: Chasing Shadows: Living in Our Transparent Society
16:00 Heather Rose Jones: Reading: Escape Artists reading
16:00 Ctein: Geek Identity, Policing, and Gatekeeping
17:00 Gregory Benford: Chasing Shadows: Living in Our Transparent Society
17:00 Greg Hullender: Author vs Fan Ownership
17:00 Ursula Vernon: SFF Middle-Grade: Parameters and Opportunities
17:00 Douglas Berry: Veteran’s Roundtable
20:00 John Hertz: Masquerade

God Stalk Bonus 2: 16:00 PC Hodgell: In For the Long Haul: The Ups and Downs of Writing a Long Series

Sunday:

10:00 John Hertz: Classics of SciFi: Red Planet
10:00 Heather Rose Jones, Lisa Goldstein: Mythogenesis
11:00 Ctein: Autographs
11:00 Douglas Berry: Fandom as a Method of Cultural Adaptation
12:00 Heather Rose Jones: Podcasts? Can’t Be THAT Hard…
12:00 Steve Davidson: Overcoming Fannish Factions
13:00 Gideon Marcus: The Future You Imagine is the Future You Get
15:00 Greg Hullender: Getting Zoomed! Virtual Technology on the Rise
15:00 Bill Higgins: So You Want To Build A Science Fictional Device
16:00 John Hertz: Regency Dancing
17:00 Ursula Vernon: Recommended Reading in Webcomics
17:00 Lisa Goldstein: Autographs
17:00 Bill Higgins: The Impact of Evolutionary Theory on 19th Century Science Fiction

Monday:

12:30 Kevin Standlee: WSFS Mark Protection Committee Meeting
15:00 James Bacon: Closing Ceremonies

Pixel Scroll 3/21/18 Where In The Scroll Is Pixel Sandiego?

(1) WHAT FILERS LOVE. Rocket Stack Rank’s Eric Wong put together a page summarizing the Filers’ Hugo nominations for the three short-fiction categories: “Annotated 2017 File 770 List for Short Fiction”. Here are some highlights:

In the Annotated 2017 File 770 List for Short Fiction, there were 34 stories with a tally of three or more nominations. Here are a few interesting findings from the 14 novellas, 10 novelettes, and 10 short stories:

  • 21 stories are free online(62%), including all novelettes and short stories. [Highlight free stories]
  • 4 stories are by Campbell-eligible writers. [Group by Campbell Year]
  • None are translated stories.
  • 14 publications are represented (including standalone novellas) with the top three being Tor novellas (9), Tor.com (5) and Uncanny (6). [Group by Publication]
  • RSR recommended 18, recommended against 4, and did not review 2. [Group by RSR Rating]
  • 25 of the 33 stories had a score > 1, meaning many were highly recommended by prolific reviewers, inclusion in “year’s best” anthologies, and award finalists. [Group by Score]

Greg Hullender adds, “Note how well we predicted the actual results last year” —

Last year, the top 55 novellas, novelettes and short stories nominated by Filers resulted in the following matches:

(2) DUBLIN 2019 FAMILY SAVINGS. The Irish Worldcon has a plan: “If you are bringing your family, a family plan might save you a bit of money”.

Dublin 2019: An Irish Worldcon has announced a new family plan for those members who are attending with members of their family. If you sign up for a family plan you will receive 10% off the total costs for the included memberships. This new plan can be used in conjunction with the recently announced Instalment Plan as long as the Family Plan is set up first.

The Dublin 2019 Family Plan enables fans to bring their whole family with them and save 10% on the total costs of memberships. A family plan will consist of  2 “Major” and at least 2 “Minor” Individuals.  A “Major” membership is an individual born on or before 15 August 2001 (18+ on the first day of the convention).  “Minor” memberships are individuals born between 16 August 2001 and 15 August 2013 (ages 6-17 on the first day of the convention). There is also a single parent variation. Details can be found on the website.

Under the Plan, you first buy a Supporting Membership and then fill in the Dublin 2019 Family Plan Request form. The registration team will then be in touch with your membership invoice. The charge for your family plan will be frozen at the time your application is received, accepted, and calculated.  If you have not chosen to apply for the instalment plan we will issue an invoice for the balance which you will have 30 days to pay. If that lapses without payment, then you will need to start the process over again, and costs will be calculated from the date of new application.

With the Attending Membership rates rising at 00:01 hours Dublin time on April 3, 2018, this is an ideal time to consider a Family Membership Plan and ensure that you and your family can attend Dublin 2019 at the current cost.

Full terms and conditions for the Dublin 2019 Family Plan can be found at www.dublin2019.com/family-plan/.

(3) JEOPARDY STRIKES AGAIN. Andrew Porter watched the first Jeopardy! contestant make a miss-take.

Wrong question: “What is Mars?”

Rich Lynch says a second contestant got it right.

(Thanks to Rich for the image.)

(4) AND ANOTHER GAME SHOW REFERENCES SF. Did I mention, The Chase is my mother’s favorite TV show?

(5) DON’T BITE WIZARDS. Middle-Earth Reflections continues its series with “Reading Roverandom /// Chapter 1”.

Rover’s adventures begin one day when he plays with his yellow ball outside and bites a wizard for taking the ball, which is not to the dog’s liking. The animal’s misfortune is that he has not got the slightest idea that the man is a wizard because “if Rover had not been so busy barking at the ball, he might have noticed the blue feather stuck in the back of the green hat, and then he would have suspected that the man was a wizard, as any other sensible little dog would; but he never saw the feather at all” (Roverandom, p. 41-42). Being really annoyed, the wizard turns Rover into a toy dog and his life turns upside down.

It is because of such poor control of emotions that Rover is bound to embark on an adventure of some kind in a rather uncomfortable form. There also seems to be a lack of knowledge on his behalf. It is not the only time when Tolkien uses the “if they knew something, they would understand a situation better” pattern in Roverandom, as well as in some other of his stories. These references can be either to existing in our world myths, legends and folktales, or to Tolkien’s own stories. In his mythology the character wearing a hat with a blue feather is none other than Tom Bombadil, who is a very powerful being indeed, so a blue feather seems to be a very telling sign to those in the know.

(6) ACCESSIBILITY ADVICE. Kate Heartfield tells “What I’ve Learned about Convention Accessibility” at the SFWA Blog.

Can*Con is in Ottawa, Canada in October. My job is pretty minor: I wrote our accessibility policy and revise it every year, and I advise the committee about how to implement it when we have particular problems or concerns. Most importantly, I’m there as the dedicated person to field questions or concerns.

Here are a few of the things I’ve learned…

The whole convention committee has to be on board. Programming policies affect accessibility. So do registration procedures, party plans, restaurant guides. If anyone involved shrugs it off, accessibility will suffer. From the beginning, every person on the committee of Can-Con, and every volunteer, has been entirely supportive of me and the policy. When I bring a concern to the committee, the response is always constructive and never defensive. There are limits to what we can do, as a small but growing convention, and so much depends on the physical accessibility of the venue itself. But I’m learning that the limits are actually a lot farther away than they might appear, and with good people working together, a lot is possible….

Accessibility is about inclusion, and it’s a broader topic than you might think. Mobility barriers are probably the first thing that comes to mind, and they’re hugely important, but they’re not the whole picture. Accessibility is also about making sure that everyone is called by the correct pronouns and has access to a washroom where they’ll be safe and comfortable. It’s about trying not to trigger allergies and sensitivities. It’s about making sure that people have the supports they need. One of the most frequent requests we’ve had is simply for quiet recovery space.

(7) IN THE BEGINNING. Sarah A. Hoyt, having finished her Mad Genius Club series defining various genres and subgenres thoroughly and accurately, has embarked on a specialized tour of different ways to start a story. Today it’s “The Atmospheric”. Very interesting, and besides, there’s a Bradbury quote!

…“In the year A.D. 400, the Emperor Yuan held his throne by the Great Wall of China, and the land was green with rain, readying itself towards the harvest, at peace, the people in his dominion neither too happy nor too sad.” – Ray Bradbury, The Flying Machine.

Look at those openings above. They’re obviously not “these people” because except for the first — and it’s not exactly people — there are no people to be “these”.

Is there action?  Well, sort of.  I mean things are happening.  But if those are the main characters of your novel they’re kind of weird, consisting of a hole in the ground, a light in the sky, noise and apparently the Emperor Yuan.

Of course these are atmospheric beginnings.

Atmospheric beginnings are hard to do.  It’s easy to get lost in writing about things in general, but will they capture the reader?  And while you — well, okay, I — can go on forever about the beautiful landscape, the wretched times, the strange events in the neighborhood, what good is that if your reader yawns and gently closes the book and goes to sleep?

To carry off an atmospheric beginning, too, you need impeccable wording, coherent, clear, and well… intriguing.  If that’s what your book calls for, a touch of the poetic doesn’t hurt either….

(8) THE BIT AND THE BATTEN. So much for security: “Teenager hacks crypto-currency wallet”.

A hardware wallet designed to store crypto-currencies, and touted by its manufacturer as tamper-proof, has been hacked by a British 15-year-old.

Writing on his blog, Saleem Rashid said he had written code that gave him a back door into the Ledger Nano S, a $100 (£70) device that has sold millions around the world.

It would allow a malicious attacker to drain the wallet of funds, he said.

The firm behind the wallet said that it had issued a security fix.

It is believed the flaw also affects another model – the Nano Blue – and a fix for that will not be available “for several weeks”, the firm’s chief security officer, Charles Guillemet told Quartz magazine.

(9) FINAL HONOR. BBC reports “Stephen Hawking’s ashes to be interred near Sir Isaac Newton’s grave”.

The ashes of Professor Stephen Hawking will be interred next to the grave of Sir Isaac Newton at Westminster Abbey, it has been revealed.

The renowned theoretical physicist’s final resting place will also be near that of Charles Darwin, who was buried there in 1882.

(10) SKY CEILING. In the Netherlands, “The world’s oldest working planetarium”, over two centuries old.

There was a beat of silence as the room’s atmosphere shifted from inward reflection to jittery disbelief. “How is that even possible?” said one visitor, waving a pointed finger at the living-room ceiling. “Is it still accurate?” asked another. “Why have I never heard of this before?” came the outburst from her companion. Craning my neck, I too could hardly believe it.

On the timber roof above our heads was a scale model of the universe, painted in sparkling gold and shimmering royal blue. There was the Earth, a golden orb dangling by a near-invisible, hand-wound wire. Next to it, the sun, presented as a flaming star, glinting like a Christmas bauble. Then Mercury, Venus, Mars, and their moons in succession, hung from a series of elliptical curves sawn into the ceiling. All were gilded on one side to represent the sun’s illumination, while beyond, on the outer rim, were the most-outlying of the planets, Jupiter and Saturn. Lunar dials, used to derive the position of the zodiac, completed the equation.

The medieval science behind the Royal Eise Eisinga Planetarium is staggering, no matter how one views it….

(11) NIGHTLIGHT. The Independent tells readers: “Mysterious purple aurora dubbed ‘Steve’ by amateur stargazers spotted in Scotland”.

Stargazers were treated to a rare and mysterious sight named “Steve” as it lit up the night skies.

The unusual purple aurora was first discovered by a group of amateur scientists and astrophotographers who gave it the nickname, Nasa said.

Its striking purple colour and appearance closer than normal to the equator sparked interest in Scotland where it was visible from the isles of Lewis and Skye this week,

(12) NIGHTFLYERS. Here’s a teaser from the Syfy adaptation: “‘Nightflyers’: Syfy Unveils First Footage of George R.R. Martin Space Drama”.

A day after replacing showrunners, Syfy has unveiled the first look at its upcoming George R.R. Martin space drama Nightflyers.

Nightflyers is, without question, a big swing for Syfy. The drama, based on Game of Thrones creator Martin’s 1980 novella and the 1987 film of the same name, follows eight maverick scientists and a powerful telepath who embark on an expedition to the edge of the solar system aboard The Nightflyer — a ship with a small, tight-knit crew and a reclusive captain — in hopes of making contact with alien life. But when terrifying and violent events begin to take place, they start to question each other, and surviving the journey proves harder than anyone thought.

 

(13) JOB APPLICATION. A video of Shatner and Nimoy at Dragon Con is touted as “the funniest Star Trek convention of all time” by the poster.

William Shatner repeatedly asked Leonard Nimoy, “Why am I not in the movie?!”

 

(14) IMITATION IS THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY: Jason sends word that Featured Futures has added a couple of items regarding markets receiving accolades and magazines receiving coverage by prolific review sites.

Noted Short SF Markets: 2017 is the first variation on a theme:

The following is a list of short fiction markets which had 2017 short stories, novelettes, or novellas selected for a Clarke, Dozois, Horton, or Strahan annual or which appeared on the final ballot of the Hugos or Nebulas. They are sorted by number of selections (not individual stories, which sometimes have multiple selections).

This is a variant of “The Splintered Mind: Top Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazines 2017.” This only tabulates six factors over one year rather than the many factors over many years of the original. That version helps flatten out fluky peaks and valleys but this provides an instant snapshot of major accolades. (This version also includes whatever venue the stories come from while that version focuses on magazines.) I’d thought about doing this before but stumbling over that finally got me to do it.

The second variation on a theme is Magazines and Their Reviewers

This page presents a table of the science fiction, fantasy, and horror magazines covered by five “prolific review sites.” Its primary purposes are to help people find the coverage of the zines they want to read about and/or to help them see which zines are covered from multiple viewpoints.

This is a variant of Rocket Stack Rank‘s “Magazine Coverage by Reviewers.” There are two significant differences and a minor one. First, this lists all the magazines regularly covered by the reviewers. Second, the list of reviewers includes Tangent Online but not the editors of annuals who presumably read most everything but don’t maintain review sites (though Dozois, Horton and others do review recommended stories for Locus). The minor difference is just that there’s no number column because this isn’t being done for “stack ranking” purposes.

(15) UP TO SNUFF? Zhaoyun covers a feature available on Netflix in “Microreview [film]: Mute, directed by Duncan Jones” at Nerds of a Feather.

The name ‘Duncan Jones’ will immediately evoke, in the minds of the small but powerful(ly voiced) group of cine-nerds, the masterful 2009 film Moon, and/or the respectable cerebral (get it?!) thriller Source Code of 2011. Garden-variety meathead non-nerds, on the other hand, might recall him as the director of the 2016 video game-to-film adaptation of Warcraft—you know, the movie that absolutely no one was eagerly awaiting. No matter your nerd credentials, then, you probably associate Duncan Jones with a certain cinematographic pizzazz, and like me, your expectations were probably quite high for his latest brainchild, the only-on-Netflix 2018 futuristic neo-noir Mute. The question is, were those expectations met?

Nah. But before we get to the bad news, I’ll give the good news. The film is breathtakingly beautiful, leaving no rock of the delectably dirty futuristic Berlin unturned, and what’s more, it is full of quirky little visual predictions of what the world will be like in twenty years (you know, mini-drones delivering food through the drone-only doggy door on windows, etc.). Plus, Paul Rudd was, in my opinion, an excellent casting choice, as his snarky-but-harmless star persona helps mask the darkness lurking deep within his character here.

(16) PASSING THROUGH. Renay praises a book: “Let’s Get Literate! In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan” at Lady Business.

Portal fantasies feel like a staple of childhood. I missed most of the literary ones. I loved In Other Lands, but as much as it is a portal fantasy it’s also a critique of them, a loving celebration and deconstruction of their tropes and politics, and I probably missed 95% of everything this book does. Does it do what it set out to do well? Yes, says the portal fantasy newbie, whose experience with portal fantasy as a Youngster comes in the form of the following:

  • Through the Ice by Piers Anthony and Robert Kornwise
  • Labyrinth, starring David Bowie
  • The Neverending Story; too bad about those racial politics
  • Cool World starring Brad Pitt, which I watched when too young
  • Space Jam, the best sports movie after Cool Runnings

(17) X FOR EXCELLENT. Also at Lady Business, Charles Payseur returns with a new installment of “X Marks the Story: March 2018”, which includes a review of —

“The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington”, Phenderson Djèlí Clark (published at Fireside Magazine, February 2018)

What It Is: As the title of this short story implies, it is a history of sorts of the people behind the teeth that George Washington bought to use for his dentures. Structured into nine sections, the story builds up a wonderfully imagined alternate past full of magic, monsters, and war—even as it uncovers the exploitation and abuse lurking at the heart of the very real history of the United States of America. Each story explores a different aspect of the past through a fantasy lens, and yet the truth of what is explored—the pain and atrocities that people faced under the rule of early America—rings with a power that echoes forward through time, reminding us of the origins, and continued injustices, of this country….

(18) RUSS TO JUDGMENT. Ian Sales takes a close look at “The Two of Them, Joanna Russ” (1978) at SF Mistressworks.

…The depiction of Islam in The Two of Them would only play today on Fox News. It is ignorant and Islamophobic. Russ may have been writing a feminist sf novel about the role of women, but she has cherrypicked common misconceptions about women in Islamic societies as part of her argument, and ignored everything else. This is not an Islamic society, it’s a made-up society based on anti-Islamic myths and clichés….

There’s a good story in The Two of Them, and the prose shows Russ at her best. Toward the end, Russ even begins breaking the fourth wall and directly addressing the reader. The narrative also discusses alternative outcomes of Irene’s story, probabilistic worlds and events that would naturally arise out of the premise of the Trans-Temporal Authority. Her depiction of Irene, contrasting both her lack of agency in 1950s USA and her agency in the Trans-Temporal Authority, makes an effective argument. But the attempt to contrast it with Islam is a definite mis-step….

(19) AUDIENCES LOVE NEXT DEADPOOL. The Hollywood Reporter learned “‘Deadpool 2’ Outscores Original in Test Screenings”.

The Ryan Reynolds-fronted sequel has been tested three times, with the scores for the first two screenings coming in at 91 and 97. The final test, which occurred in Dallas, tested two separate cuts simultaneously, which scored a 98 and a 94. The 98-scoring cut is the version the team is using, a source with direct knowledge told THR.

The crew attended the final screenings in Dallas, and a source in the audience of the 98 screening describing the environment to THR as being electric and akin to watching the Super Bowl.

It’s worth noting the highest test screening the original Deadpool received was a 91, according to insiders. The film went on to gross $783 million worldwide and stands as the highest-grossing X-Men movie of all time.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Isle of Dogs: Making of: The Animators” is a look at how 27 animators and ten assistants used state-of-the-art animation to make – you guessed it — Isle of Dogs..

[Thanks  to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Rich Lynch, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Greg Hullender, Jason, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor Peer.]

Fortieth Anniversary of File 770

It was 40 years ago today
Sgt. Saturn taught the band to play…

Okay, never mind the rest of that… but on January 6, 1978 File 770 began life as a paperzine with issue #1.

Several friends have been along for the entire ride, like artist Taral Wayne, who had an illo in the first paper issue, and also is the creator of the banner art for this blog. Or Steve Davidson, mentioned in a news item on page 2. Not to mention the many who were on the mailing list from the beginning.

I also want to thank Linda Bushyager, editor of Karass, which preceded File 770 as fandom’s newzine of record, for passing the baton those many years ago.

And thanks to the generosity of everyone who has shared their stories, events and concerns in these pages over the years.

We’ll be celebrating this anniversary — and the 10th anniversary of this blog on January 15 — over the next 10 days with a series of special guest posts, too. Watch for the logo!