2018 Norma K Hemming Awards

The 2018 Norma K Hemming Awards, given by the Australian Science Fiction Foundation (ASFF), were announced at a ceremony June 8 at Continuum in Melbourne.

The award is designed to recognize excellence in the exploration of themes of race, gender, sexuality, class or disability in a published speculative fiction work. The winners receive citations and a monetary prize.

Eligible works were published in 2016 and 2017 across the long and short form categories, comprised of short fiction, novellas, novels, edited anthologies, collections, graphic novels and stage plays.

The winners are:

Short Fiction Category (stories up to 17,500 words)

  • “Coral Bones”, Foz Meadows (Monstrous Little Voices, Abaddon Books)

Long Work Category

  • Terra Nullius, Claire G Coleman, (Hachette)

[Thanks to Mark Hepworth for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 5/7/18 The File And The Pixel-Scroll Went To Space In A Runcible Manxome File

(1) LUKE CAGE CONTINUES. From Netflix, “Marvel’s Luke Cage – Season 2 Official Trailer.”

After clearing his name, Luke Cage has become a celebrity on the streets of Harlem with a reputation as bulletproof as his skin. But being so visible has only increased his need to protect the community and find the limits of who he can and can’t save. With the rise of a formidable new foe, Luke is forced to confront the fine line that separates a hero from a villain.

 

(2) NICHELLE NICHOLS’ HEALTH. “’Star Trek’ Star Nichelle Nichols Is Living With Dementia”Madamenoir has the story,

Nichelle Nichols, who is known for her iconic role as Uhura in “Star Trek” is living with severe dementia.

Nichols’ son Kyle Johnson says that his 85-year-old mother needs protection to prevent people from taking advantage of her.

According to TMZ, Johnson filed documents nominating 4 fiduciaries to become his mother’s conservators—giving them control of her finances and authority to make decisions regarding her health.

(3) FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB. At the next Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Tina Connolly & Caroline M. Yoachim. Date and time: Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar.

  • Tina Connolly

Tina Connolly’s books include the Ironskin trilogy (Tor), the Seriously Wicked series (Tor Teen), and the collection On the Eyeball Floor and Other Stories (Fairwood Press). Her books have been finalists for the Nebula, Norton, and World Fantasy awards. She is one of the co-hosts of Escape Pod, and runs the flash fiction podcast Toasted Cake. Find her at tinaconnolly.com.

  • Caroline M. Yoachim

Caroline M. Yoachim is the author of over a hundred short stories. Her fiction has been translated into several languages, reprinted in best-of anthologies, and is available in her debut collection Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World & Other Stories. Her 2017 short story “Carnival Nine” is a Nebula and Hugo finalist. For more about Caroline, check out her website at carolineyoachim.com

The KGB Bar id st 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.), New York, NY.

(4) NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER. David Grinspoon, an astrobiologist who studies climate evolution and habitability of other worlds, and Alan Stern, the principal investigator of the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper belt, say “Yes, Pluto is a planet” in  Washington Post op-ed.

Three years ago, NASA’s New Horizons, the fastest spaceship ever launched, raced past Pluto, spectacularly revealing the wonders of that newly seen world. This coming New Year’s Eve — if all goes well on board this small robot operating extremely far from home — it will treat us to images of the most distant body ever explored, provisionally named Ultima Thule. We know very little about it, but we do know it’s not a planet. Pluto, by contrast — despite what you’ve heard — is.

Why do we say this? We are planetary scientists, meaning we’ve spent our careers exploring and studying objects that orbit stars. We use “planet” to describe worlds with certain qualities. When we see one like Pluto, with its many familiar features — mountains of ice, glaciers of nitrogen, a blue sky with layers of smog — we and our colleagues quite naturally find ourselves using the word “planet” to describe it and compare it to other planets that we know and love.

In 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) announced an attempted redefinition of the word “planet” that excluded many objects, including Pluto. We think that decision was flawed, and that a logical and useful definition of planet will include many more worlds….

 

(5) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. Because the International Space Station does not have a way to wash dirty clothes, astronauts shoot their laundry into the Earth’s atmosphere to be incinerated. Consequently, a crew of six can go through 900 pounds of clothing per year. (Source: Smithsonian.com)

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • May 7, 1950 Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles became the first new work of science fiction ever noted in the New York Times Book Review, breaking that glass ceiling via Rex Lardner’s “Fiction in Brief” column. As John King Tarpinian tells it, “Ray was not happy with Martian being described as Science Fiction but heck, who cares now…”

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lise Andreasen says the lesson learned from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal’s “Soulmate” is never build a dating website.

(8) AFROFUTURISM. A BBC profile: “Afrofuturism: Why black science fiction ‘can’t be ignored'”.

Afrofuturism is perhaps best summed up by the queen of contemporary afrofuturism herself — Janelle Monae.

Her futuristic music videos and radical aesthetic (she even calls her fans “fAndroids”) are seen by some as a key force for pushing afrofuturism into the mainstream.

“Afrofuturism is me, us… is black people seeing ourselves in the future,” she explains in a 30-second video clip for Spotify.

It is no surprise then that Janelle cites the movement as the inspiration for her new narrative film, Dirty Computer: Emotion Picture, a visual accompaniment to her latest album (which is currently trending on YouTube).

(9) CATCHING UP. Here are “Some Pragmatic Picks by Foz Meadows” a 2018 Shadow Clarke juror.

In compiling my personal Shadow Clarke shortlist, I’ve opted to forego the pressures of dutiful or adventurous reading, and have stuck to a selection of books which, for various reasons, I’d already planned to read. Partially, I’ve done so out of pragmatism: it’s hard enough at the best of times to force myself to read something in which I have little to no existing interest and whose premise doesn’t appeal to me, and if I can’t actually bring myself to read my selected works, there’s little point in being a shadow judge at all. At the same time, I’d argue that the parameters of the Clarke Award are such that the final selection of any judge or judges, whether shadow or otherwise, is always going to hinge on personal taste. The submissions list, as the name suggests, does not come pre-curated: in order to be in contention for the award, eligible works need only be submitted for consideration by their publishers. While there’s invariably a fascinating conversation to be had about which of their titles particular houses either forget, neglect or actively decline to submit in the first place, the impact of those choices is at best a process of curation by collective omission. That being so, the contents of the submissions list as is become something of a crapshoot, running the gamut from obvious, big-name contenders to self-published indies to midlist titles flung at the wall to see what sticks. But then, science fiction, when not broken down into subgenres, is a spectacularly broad mandate – how else can it be honestly navigated except through personal preference?

(10) WHERE DO THEY ALL COME FROM. “Cat Rambo’s Ideas For The Asking: A Guest Post!” at Sue Bursztynski’s blog.

Where do you get your ideas, my youngest brother asked as we were driving to dinner. I shrugged and said, Everywhere. He eyed me sideways, as though to say, it has to be harder than that.

But the truth is that I’ve always tried to look at the world in different ways. As a child, a favorite activity was looking at the ceiling and imagining what it would be like to live from that angle — not so different from our own life, but with much more inconvenient doors, for one. Or later, looking at public spaces to imagine what a superhero battle would be like staged there — where was cover, where the blind spots or perches? …

(11) RAMBO TRIVIA. Time to cram for the quiz:

(12) FAAN STATS. Click on the link to download Nic Farey’s FAAn Awards voting statistics and analysis publication.

(13) MINIATURE WORLDCON BID. Kate Secor (bid chair) and Michael Lee (bid treasurer) have announced a bid for “Worldcon 84: The Minimal Viable Worldcon” to be held in Charlottesville, VA in 2026. This is probably supposed to be funny.

W84 is targeting lovely Charlottesville, Virginia as a site. We will be capping attending memberships at 125 (not including staff) in order to fit in our chosen venue, the Charlottesville CitySpace. …

We are currently looking at dates in early October, so as to take advantage of Virginia’s long fall season and lovely natural scenery. We expect there to be sufficient hotel rooms to accommodate all our members at various price points. There will be no official con hotel, although W84 may be able to work with Charlottesville’s Visitor Bureau to change this.

…W84 will be administering the Hugos entirely online and via postal mail, and announcing the results via press release. Trophies will be mailed to the winners. W84 will be administering Site Selection largely via mail, but will accept hand-carried ballots and also allow on-site voting for all members even if they do not have attending memberships.

(14) MODERN WARRIOR. James Breakwell reporting:

(15) READY PLAYER THREE. And right after —

(16) GOOD DOG. At Middle-Earth Reflections, Olga Polomoshnova a series of posts finishes with “Reading Roverandom /// Chapter 5”.

The closing chapter of Roverandom is a good example of a happy turn of events when you least expect it. Moreover, it is where we can see the results of Rover’s moral journey and how he has changed over the course of the story.

Once out of the sea depths, Rover again addresses Artaxerxes with his request: to change him into his proper size and shape. He does not hesitate to use the word “please” abundantly. The wizard is happy to help the dog as he has become wiser and kinder, too, following his failure as PAM and the anger of mer-people.  But, alas, all his spells were destroyed at the bottom of the ocean. Artaxerxes is truly miserable, and he really means it being eager to change Rover back into his normal self. Things would have been pretty bad had it not been for the wizard’s shrewd wife. She kept some spells and now has exactly the one he needs to grant Rover’s request.

(17) DECODING HEINLEIN. Does the BBC know this was the source of the ship name in Citizen of the Galaxy? — “Sisu: the Finnish art of inner strength”.

“Sisu will get you even through granite,” my Finnish mother-in-law used to say. If you look at the enormous grey outcrops of granite scattered since the ice age through the Finnish countryside and forests, you’ll realise that getting through them is not just difficult, it is pretty well impossible.

‘Sisu’ in Finnish means strength, perseverance in a task that for some may seem crazy to undertake, almost hopeless. My mother-in-law experienced the bombings of the Winter War (1939-1940) when Finland was attacked by the much superior Soviet army but managed to mount a resistance to remain independent. The New York Times ran an article in 1940 with the headline “Sisu: A Word that Explains Finland”.

So, what is this almost mythical quality that appears to be so Finnish? “It is a special thing that is reserved for especially challenging moments. When we feel that we came to the end point of our preconceived capacities. You could say that sisu is energy, determination in the face of adversities that are more demanding than usual,” says Emilia Lahti, a researcher of sisu from Aalto University in Helsinki.

(18) CELEBRATING HEINLEIN’S BIRTHDAY.  A Barcelona club plans to celebrate Heinlein’s birthday on July 7. Juan Miguel de la Torre Quesada, Vice-President of Barcelona’s Otium Club sent out an English translation of their press release with the schedule. Here are a few highlights.

H-Day – Heinlein’s Day

Saturday, July 7nth, 2018 – from 10: 00 to 14:00.

Civic Center Joan Oliver “Pere Quart”

C/ Comandante Benítez, 6 – Barcelona (Spain)

About the event:

On the day of his 111nth birthday, this July, the seventh, we’re gathering to celebrate the life and work of Robert Anson Heinlein in a event we have baptised as “Dia H – Heinlein’s Day”. With this activity we wish to present to the greater audience, beyond the limits of fandom, this seminal autor and his influence within the genere of SF as well as in the cultural fabric of our times.

Robert Heinlein is considered one of the greatest and most essential writers in the SF cannon, not only because of his excellent narrative and literary qualities, but as a pioneer in the field, a paladin of critical thinking and of rational pragmatism, owing perhaps to his formation as an engineer, whose ideas and reflections, poured into a hundred Works, remain relevant today and are worth debating.

10:00 Introduction.

Ángel.F. Bueno, founder and President of the Otium Club will welcome the attendees with a brief exposition about the activities, presneting the author and his work, and then introducing the main guest speaker, Salvador Bayarri.

10: 20 – 11:40 Conference : “Robert Heinlein: a libertarian in science fiction”.

Salvador Bayarri, Doctor in Physics and Master Degree in Philosophy, as well as an SF writer, will expound on a complete exploration and biographical analysis on the thought, themes and work of the autor, in a light and humorous manner.

11:40 – 11:45 “The attendees will be invited to blow the candles on a birthday cake customised for the occasion”.

11:45 – 13:13 Screening of “Predestination” (2014) , The Spierig Brothers.

Salvador Bayarri and Ángel F. Bueno will introduce this excellent movie based on the short story “All you zombies!” (1958) by Robert A. Heinlein….

(19) TAGGING ALONG. The latest Mars mission has company: “WALL-E and EVE on their way to Mars with InSight”.

NASA’s InSight lander is on its way to Mars, after a successful launch on Saturday morning.

The lander was launched by an Atlas V rocket taking off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California shortly after 4 a.m. local time. It successfully separated from the upper stage more than an hour later.

Because InSight is a lander — not a rover — it will stay put on Mars as it carries out “an $813.8 million mission to study the interior of the Red Planet.”

Two CubeSats, or miniature satellites about the size of a briefcase, were launched by the same rocket, basically hitching a ride with the Insight. Named after the characters in the 2008 animated movie, WALL-E and EVE are each about the size of a briefcase or large cereal box. They popped out from the rocket’s upper stage after liftoff and are hightailing it to Mars, right behind InSight. This is the first time CubeSats have set sail for deep space.

[Thanks to Keith G. Kato, JJ, Cat Eldridge, ULTRAGOTHA, John King Tarpinian, Mark Hepworth, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Lise Andreasen, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

Pixel Scroll 2/25/18 I, Pixel

By JJ:

(1) ALSO #METOO. In a follow-on to Myke Cole’s mea culpa as reported in the February 15 Pixel Scroll (item #3) about a thread on industry harassment at School Library Journal, author Janci Patterson, in a post entitled “Sexual Harassment, Apologies, and Forgiveness” explains how Cole’s willingness to own, and apologize for, his past behavior has made a huge difference in her life:

That is what it was like being a woman in publishing who had been harassed. I watched people discrediting the women who spoke up on the basis of their comments being anonymous. If it was true, why would they need anonymity?

I knew why. After Zoe Quinn, women in my position all know. We are all one internet post away from being Zoe Quinn.

And then Myke apologized. If you haven’t yet, take a minute and read what he wrote. What he says describes my experience exactly. It’s a damn good apology. He admits to what he did, in specific terms. He expresses that he was unaware that he did it, but he doesn’t treat that as an excuse. He addresses his victims directly and says he’s sorry. He expresses additional sorrow. He talks about both what he’s going to do to make reparations and also how he’s going to address his behavior going forward.

Reading that changed the whole world for me. I had been watching the cultural shifts in our post-#metoo, post-Weinstein-scandal world, but for me, this was the final piece. In that moment, I went from a scared woman with a difficult secret to a woman who could speak authentically. Who could tell the truth. No one could jump on me in any kind of credible way anymore. It was true. It happened. Myke admitted it was true. He saw the hypocrisy in his feminism. He owned it.

He set me free.

Another SFF author who was mentioned in the comments on the SLJ thread, Dan Wells, also posted his thoughts on harassment and being willing to step up and do better:

I have always believed that you should believe a woman who says she’s been harassed, so I believe these women, too.

And then I was accused of being a harasser.

And then the same woman recanted her accusation.

I do not know who this woman is, as she posted anonymously both times, but I want to take this opportunity to pubicly accept her apology, and to thank her for coming forward.

But here’s the thing: I believed her. Obviously I didn’t believe that I had assaulted someone and then forgotten about it, or anything ridiculous like that. But I was – and am – willing to believe that without intending to and without noticing I had done something to make a woman feel uncomfortable or unwelcome or unsafe…

I could have raged against the injustice of this comment – and to be perfectly honest, a part of me did – but the more useful, more helpful response was to sit down and take a good hard look at myself and my actions. What have I been doing, and what can I do in the future, to make the conventions I attend and the spaces I inhabit safer for other people?

Recanted accusation or not, I found some stuff I need to work on. Not a long history of abusive behavior, but a tune-up on boundaries, and on thinking before I speak.

(2) THE LATTER IS NOT RECOMMENDED. SFF author Jeremiah Tolbert spent last Saturday at the Planet ComicCon Kansas City 2018, and he says, “ComicCons Are More Fun With Children. You Should Make Some, or Steal Somebody’s”.

So given that I’m not big on photos with famous people (but definitely not above walking past autograph alley to oogle them and say, without fail, “oh, they’re shorter than I expected”), and I am not really a collector of toys or comics, why would I ever attend these things? Two simple reasons: to meet up with professionals attending who are good friends and to watch my tiny human

lose.

his.

shit.

Little Dude Tolbert (hereafter referred to LDT) will be four in June, and he’s developing into quite the little protogeek.

 

(3) CONTRACTUALLY DEFICIENT. In a public post on Patreon, Jason Sanford reported:

Since the first of the year I’ve written a couple of times about Spectacle Magazine, a new quarterly speculative fiction publication (see here and here for previous articles). The magazine is published and edited by Kevin Hale and Danny Dumas and aims to be a high-end venue for thought-provoking fiction and non-fiction focused on SF/F themes.

Three days ago the Spectacle’s editors sent out a number of story acceptances. Normally you’d expect authors to be excited about acceptances, but news quickly spread that many of them were not happy with the contract terms being offered. I personally had multiple authors contact me about issues around the contracts they were offered…

There are several issues there, including with derivative rights. At worst this derivative rights grab could allow Spectacle to create films or video games or nearly anything else using the stories they purchased and the authors wouldn’t be able to object.

There are also other issues with the contract, such as not laying out when the work would be published or that the rights will revert to the author in the case the story is never published.

Shortly afterward, Spectacle Magazine published the following tweet:

Another author on Twitter noted, with astonishment:

(4) DEADLINE EXTENDED. Worldcon 76 has announced that the deadline for submissions to their Academic Track have been extended to March 1, 2018:

Participants in the Academic Track will have a chance at winning a “Best Academic Track Paper” cash prize from The Heinlein Society.  This $250 prize will be awarded based on the presentations as given at Worldcon 76.  Given this new opportunity, we will extend the submission deadline to March 1st.

Details on submitting can be found at the Worldcon 76 website.

(5) THIS IS THE FUTURE THAT FILERS WANT. Via Foz Meadows:

http://peppylilspitfuck.tumblr.com/post/171099260572/fozmeadows-majorgenerally-writing-prompt-s

(6) TAKING CREDIT. Kristine Kathryn Rusch, in her latest column “Business Musings: Editorial Encroachment”, comments on the recent trend she’s been seeing of editors requiring equal authorial credit on books:

Last week, as I was searching for a friend’s book on Amazon, I made a loathsome discovery. My friend’s book, which is up for preorder, lists her name and the name of someone else on the byline.

I had never heard of that someone else. So I clicked on the preorder, and what did I see? A cover, with just my friend’s name on it.

So I glanced up at the title. Beneath it was this byline:

My Friend (Author), Annoying Person (Editor)

I went through the roof. My friend wrote that book. She hired Annoying Person to edit the book.

I looked up Annoying Person and found her terms and conditions. She sounds like a fairly knowledgeable editor. She only handles copy editing and line editing (although it sounds like she would have a pretty heavy hand). She explicitly says she does not do developmental editing.

Which means she has done exactly nothing on this book. She didn’t come up with the concept. She didn’t brainstorm the characters. She didn’t improve the plot. She didn’t imagine the setting.

All she did was tweak the words.

So why the hell is she getting credit for this book?

Rusch explains in detail why she believes that going along with this is damaging to an author’s brand, and offers advice to authors who are faced with such contracts by their editors.

(7) CHESHIRE CATS. In a Twitter thread, lindsay beth explains how your SJW Credential always manages to magically appear, despite not having been in any of the places you’ve looked: (click the date/time stamp to read the whole thread)

(8) NEBULOSITY. Filer Cora Buhlert has posted “Some Thoughts on the 2017 Nebula Award Nominees”, and offers her thoughts on the shortlists of the various categories as well as some possible trends.

In general, what’s notable about the adult fiction categories is that Uncanny dominates the short fiction categories, followed by Tor.com and Clarkesworld. Tor.com absolutely dominates the novella category, while Orbit dominates best novel. The decline of the big three print magazines continues. F&SF and Asimov’s managed to garner one nomination each, while Analog didn’t get any at all. Only a single nominee in the fiction categories is self-published. Thematically, I don’t see a clear trend beyond a preferences for works with historical settings.

Buhlert’s piece contains more detailed analysis of individual entries, as well as of the levels of diversity reflected by the shortlist authors.

(9) DOCTOR WHEN. The Gallifrey Times says that during the February 21 BBC Worldwide Showcase Panel at Liverpool’s Echo Arena, it appeared to be confirmed that Doctor Who will be returning in October 2018.

In the background, we see a promotional photo of the Thirteenth Doctor with some text that reads:

Series 11 – 1×65 – 9×50 – delivers October 2018

You can view the Liverpool Echo’s photo gallery of the event here.

(10) ACHIEVEMENT GATEKEPT. Experienced gamer and blogger Mysty Vander describes how she conquered her social anxiety to attend a gaming convention in 2017, only to be confronted with outrageous sexism, in “Honey, Let the Real Gamers Play”:

We reached a point where my Gunslinger passed a search check nobody else did. I had found a letter. My character was quiet, stoic, and kept to herself – she likely would only divulge the necessary information. When the GM took the letter out, he handed it to the man playing Freya instead of myself. Okay…that’s fine, not a big deal, as long as I get to read it in the end (being partially deaf at a convention, I truly needed to read it with my own eyes to understand all of it).

That didn’t quite happen. Freya’s player read it, passed it along to the older man beside him, and then the note went no further. “Oh, so we need to find the South Gate?” Freya inquired.

The player beside him responded, “Seems like it,” and handed the note back to the GM.

“May I see the note?” I asked.

Without hesitation, the player playing Freya responded, “No need, we know what it meant, sweetie,” he said with a smile.

(11) JUMPING ON THE MAPWAGON. The February 19 Pixel Scroll (item #9), mentions an artist who has done Lord of the Rings-style maps of UK and US National Parks. Kim Huett points out that an Australian artist has done a map of Canberra in the style of Game of Thrones.

(12) BIRTHDAYS.

  • Born February 25, 1966Alexis Denisof (The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy)
  • Born February 25, 1966Téa Leoni (Deep Impact, Jurassic Park III)
  • Born February 25, 1971Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings, Stranger Things)
  • Born February 25, 1986Jameela Jamil (The Good Place)

(13) BUG REPORTS. In xkcd’s 2018 CVE List, Randall Munroe details the most recently-discovered Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures of software, of which we must all be wary. Be sure to mouseover the image for a special Security Disclosure.

(14) DEBUNKING THE MYTHS. In “Hugo Myth Season Again”, Cheryl Morgan dispels the idea that nominators must have read exhaustively in order to be legitimate nominators:

Voting is open for this year’s Hugo Awards, and consequently I need to get back to dispelling the strange ideas about the Hugos that seem to proliferate at this time of the year.

This post has been inspired in particular by the latest episode of the Coode Street Podcast where Gary and Jonathan do their usual fine job, but don’t quite get everything right.

Something that they do get right is the “I haven’t read enough” myth. Every year people trot out the idea that if you haven’t read “everything” then you are not eligible to nominate. This is nonsense.

However, Morgan says that there is another persistent myth to which even the Coode Street Regulars have fallen, which must be corrected:

Finally we come to the bit where the podcast goes totally off the rails. Jonathan resurrects one of the best known zombies of Hugo lore, the idea that the Hugos were once for science fiction only and were later changed to include fantasy. This is not entirely Jonathan’s fault. He got the story from Justin Ackroyd. I have had this discussion with Justin before. He was wrong then and he is still wrong now.

 

(15) I GOT YOUR EXHIBIT RIGHT HERE. Filer von Dimpleheimer, after seeing the announcement in the February 18 Pixel Scroll (item #21) that the exhibit “A Conversation Larger Than the Universe: Science Fiction and the Literature of the Fantastic from the Collection of Henry Wessells” would be taking place at The Grolier Club, stopped by when he was in the neighborhood. You can see his photos of the exhibit here.

– photo by von Dimpleheimer

(16) INADVERTENT DOXXING. In an article entitled “Furry Website Leaks Real Identities”, Medium contributor Sky raises some issues for concern regarding the registration software system used by a number of fannish conventions.

A “feature” in the popular convention registration system ‘Convention Master’ lets anyone find out your fursona name just by typing your real name.

The software is used widely by many conventions, especially in the furry scene. Civet Solutions, the maker of the software, boast “over one hundred and fifty thousand registrations processed.” If you’ve ever attended a furry convention, there’s decent odds they have your data on file… and are now leaking it with no plans to ever stop.

During online pre-registration, you enter your first and last name to see if you have an account at that convention. Unfortunately, anyone can do this. If you’ve ever pre-registered for that convention, or registered on site in a previous year, you have an account. And everyone can see you’ve attended that con with just your first and last name.

Even worse, your fursona name is also displayed.

Yep, that’s right. Anyone can find your fursona name if they know your real name.

Known affected furry cons:

  • Alamo City Furry Invasion
  • Califur
  • Fur-Eh!
  • Furlandia
  • Pacific Anthropomorphics Weekend
  • Scotiacon
  • Vancoufur
  • Wild Prairie Fur Con

Known affected non-furry cons:

  • Arisia
  • RustyCon

The article’s author discusses potential personal and professional implications of the public accessibility of members’ information, as well as possible avenues for remediation. They have also added a follow-up:

UPDATE NOTE: This article was updated with a section of feedback from Civet Solutions at the end of the article. Although the real name look-up feature in question will unfortunately not be removed from the software in future, I encourage you to read the update over to better understand their point of view and their future development plans.

(17) OLD PEOPLE READ YOUR SFF. In the past, James Davis Nicoll took requests on a commission basis only. However, he has now opened a Suggestion Box. There’s no guarantee that the work you suggest will be reviewed; however, submissions are welcome.

(18) YOU SHOULD SEE THIS. At Skiffy and Fanty, Stephen Geigen-Miller offers his “Best Graphic Story Hugo Recommendations”:

One of my biggest personal goals with these reviews – I mention this in the introduction to every column, and unpacked it a bit in my Month of Joy post – is to bring more, and different, deserving SFFnal comics, webcomics and graphic novels to the attention of SF&F readers.

That’s especially important when when it gets to be Hugo nomination season; I want to see a diverse, inclusive, smart Best Graphic Story category that reflects the breadth of the material that’s out there, and I want other genre readers to have the chance to find and fall in love with those comics, like I have.

(19) WHY SETI IS CONTRAINDICATED.

(20) ANNIHILATED. At The Verge, Annihilation and Ex Machina director Alex Garland talks about using sci-fi to explore self-destruction:

I think the main thematic preoccupation probably belongs primarily to the film, which is really about self-destruction. It’s about the nature of self-destruction in a literal sense: cells have life cycles and stars have life cycles and plants and the universe and us. You, me, everyone. But also psychological forms of self-destruction.

It was born out of a funny kind of preoccupation I started to have, that everybody is self-destructive, which is a strange thing to notice. I think a lot of self-destruction is very obvious. [Gestures to cigarettes on the table.] That’s an obvious self-destruction, right? And if a friend of yours is a heroin addict or an alcoholic, that’s an obvious kind of self-destruction. But there are also… You’ve also got friends, or people you encounter, who are super comfortable in their own skin, and very self-possessed, and feel like they have understood some sort of secret to existence that you’re not party to. And then you start to see, no, that’s not quite right. It’s more complicated than that. And fissures and fault lines appear, and between the fissures and the fault lines, you see bits of behavior that doesn’t really make sense – like they’re dismantling things in their lives for no good reason.

In “People Have Accused Annihilation of Whitewashing. Here’s How Its Director and Stars RespondedTIME Magazine reports:

Anticipation for the movie has been high since the release of the first trailer last fall. But recently, some, including the advocacy group Media Action Network for Asian Americans, have accused the film of whitewashing the roles played by Portman’s and Leigh’s characters, saying the characters on which they are based are of Asian descent and Native American descent, respectively, in the trilogy. In a statement, Alieesa Badreshia, an MANAA board member, said that writer-director Alex Garland “exploits the story but fails to take advantage of the true identities of each character.”

Others have pointed out that revelations of the two characters’ ethnic backgrounds are not made until subsequent books in the series.

In response to the criticism, Garland provided the following statement to TIME:

This is an awkward problem for me, because I think whitewashing is a serious and real issue, and I fully support the groups drawing attention to it.

But the characters in the novel I read and adapted were not given names or ethnicities. I cast the film reacting only to the actors I met in the casting process, or actors I had worked with before. There was no studio pressure to cast white. The casting choices were entirely mine.

As a middle-aged white man, I can believe I might at times be guilty of unconscious racism, in the way that potentially we all are. But there was nothing cynical or conspiratorial about the way I cast this movie.

While Portman, Leigh and Novotny are white, co-stars Thompson and Rodriguez are women of color. Oscar Isaac, who plays Portman’s character’s husband in the film, is of Guatemalan and Cuban descent.

 

[Thanks to Cora Buhlert, James Davis Nicoll, Jason Sanford, Kim Huett, RedWombat, ULTRAGOTHA, and von Dimpleheimer for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 Contributing Editor of the Day JJ.]

Pixel Scroll 2/14/18 Do Not Scroll, Bend, Fold, or Pixelate

(1) DIANE DUANE’S GOOD NEWS. An appeal signal-boosted here yielded enough book sales to save the Duane/Morwood home. As she wrote in a comment

Hi folks! Diane Duane here.

I noted this morning that visitors have been arriving at the Ebooks Direct store from here. I just wanted to let everyone know that the astonishing generosity of customers and donors has meant that our problem has been completely solved in A SINGLE DAY. To say that Peter and I are gobsmacked — not to mention amazed and overwhelmed and unutterably relieved by the sudden removal of a difficulty that’s been hanging albatross-like around our creative lives for what seems like forever — would be putting if mildly. If you were involved in assisting with this… THANK YOU! (And meanwhile we’re leaving the sale running, because what the heck, everybody likes a sale…) Best! D.

(2) A DIFFERENT TONGUE. CNET’s Bonnie Burton advises: “This Valentine’s Day, woo your crush like a Wookiee or Klingon”.

Who needs boring English? Once you discover how to flirt in sci-fi speak, you’ll be making out to the Star Wars or Star Trek theme song in no time. Well, that’s the idea….

My love of speaking sci-fi goes way back. As a kid, I thought I could talk droid like R2-D2 and began to randomly beep at my classmates in elementary school — until a confused teacher pulled me aside to ask if I was OK. Later, when I worked as a senior editor for the Lucasfilm site StarWars.com, part of my job was to become familiar with phrases spoken by characters like Chewbacca, Jabba the Hutt, Greedo, Wicket the Ewok and Jawas.

While I did end up marrying R2-D2, it’s not as easy to master a sci-fi language as it looks. It took awhile just to decipher the difference between the high-pitched sounds of Jawas and Ewoks and the deeper, guttural utterances of Jabba the Hutt and Chewbacca. But with patience, and the help of repeat Star Wars film viewings and books like the “Star Wars Galactic Phrase Book & Travel Guide,” I got there.

(3) HAVE SCARF, WILL TRAVEL. James Bacon is visiting this side of the pond. He snapped a selfie on the plane:

I’m on my way to Boston.

Tomorrow I fly to Chicago for Capricon

Then early on Sunday back to Boskone.

(4) DOWN THESE MEAN TWEETS. Bleeding Cool’s Rich Johnston released an internal DC Comics memo in his post “‘Mean Spirited’ Tweets Against Company Policy – DC Comics’ Social Media and Press Guidelines to Comic Creators”.

…While I understand that this kind of thing has been an increasing concern in recent years, I understand that this is happening right now as a result of the actions and internal company employee reactions and concerns reported by Bleeding Cool over artist Ethan Van Sciver‘s social media activity. Concern has been expressed from the top, from President Diane Nelson, down to fellow freelance creators….

DC’s memo begins:

Dear DC Talent Community –

The comic book industry is a very special creative community dedicated to telling epic and legendary stories of action, heroism and intrigue with a rich and diverse portfolio of characters. Both DC’s employees, as well as its extended family of freelance talent, contribute to our success and are direct reflections of our company, characters and comics.

As such, DC expects that its employees and freelance talent community maintain a high level of professionalism as well as reasonable and respectful behavior when engaging in online activities. Comments that may be considered defamatory, libelous, discriminatory, harassing, hateful, or that incite violence are unacceptable and may result in civil or criminal action.

In addition, comments that may be considered insulting, cruel, rude, crass and mean spirited are against company policy and guidelines. We ask, and expect, that you will help to create an online environment that is inclusive, supportive and safe.

Below you will find the most current version of the company’s social media guidelines. If you have any questions, please contact DC Talent Relations department so that we can be of assistance.

The full text of the guidelines can be read at the Bleeding Cool link.

(5) TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS FOR TEENS: The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA),  announced its list of 2018 Great Graphic Novels for Teens, with 115 titles. The list is presented annually at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. The books, recommended for those ages 12-18, meet the criteria of both good quality literature and appealing reading for teens. The cumulative list can be viewed at www.ala.org/yalsa/great-graphic-novels.

In addition to the full 2018 list, the committee chose the following titles as its top ten:

  • The Backstagers. By James Tynion IV. Illus. by Rian Sygh. 2017. BOOM! Studios. (9781608869930).
  • Black Hammer, Volume 1: Secret Origins. By Jeff Lemire. Illus. by Dean Ormston. 2017. Dark Horse. (9781616557867).
  • Brave. By Svetlana Chmakova. Illus. by the author. 2017. Yen Press. (9780316363189).
  • I Am Alfonso Jones. By Tony Medina. Illus. by Stacey Robison and John Jennings. 2017. Tu Books. (9781620142639).
  • Jonesy. By Sam Humprhies. Illus. by Caitlin Rose Boyle.
    • v.1. 2016. BOOM! Studios. (9781608868834).
    • v.2. BOOM! Studios. (9781608869992).
    • v.3. BOOM! Studios. (9781684150168).
  • Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation. By Damian Duffy and Octavia E. Butler. Illus. by John Jennings. 2017. Abrams ComicArts. (9781419709470).
  • Lighter than My Shadow. By Katie Green. Illus. by the author. 2017. Lion Forge. (9781941302415).
  • My Brother’s Husband. By Gengoroh Tagame. Illus. by Gengoroh Tagame. 2017. Pantheon Books. (9781101871515).
  • Pashmina. By Nidhi Chanani. Illus. by Nidhi Chanani. 2017. First Second. (9781626720879).
  • Spill Zone. By Scott Westerfeld. Illus. by Alex Puvilland. 2017. First Second. (9781596439368).

(6) THEY WANT A LITTLE LIST. Graphic novels are a theme of the day – The Daily Dot reports: “Comics creators want the New York Times to bring back the graphic novel bestseller list”.

The New York Times killed its graphic novel bestseller list last year, and comics creators want it back. Over the past few days, hundreds have signed an open letter asking for the list to be reinstated, claiming the Times is causing damage to their industry.

When the Times canceled the bestseller list in January 2017, the decision was met with immediate criticism. Comics and graphic novels are more culturally relevant than ever, but the industry still relies on mainstream media outlets like the Times to find new readers. And as Polygon pointed out, the paper continued to publish much more specific lists like “Children’s Young Adult Hardcover Chapter Books” and “Advice Miscellaneous.”

In the words of the open letter, creators and publishers have “watched their readership decline” since the list was removed.

(7) CONGRATULATIONS. Heather Rose Jones announced she has an Alpennia story in Deborah J. Ross’ newly-released anthology Lace and Blade 4.

The important contents, of course, is my new Alpennia story “Gifts Tell Truth”, but here’s the full table of contents:

Lace and Blade is an anthology series featuring stories with a particular look-and-feel — a flavor of romantic, elegant, swashbuckling sword and sorcery, across a wide array of eras and cultures. (Alpennia is a perfect setting for this sort of tale.) If you want an collection of stories that’s perfect for Valentine’s day (or any day of the year, for that matter), check it out!

(8) CYBILS AWARDS. SF Site News reports the 2017 Cybils Award winners of genre interest

The winners for the 2017 Cybils Literary Award for Elementary and Middle Grade Speculative Fiction have been announced. The awards recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal. Categories with winners of genre interest are listed below.

  • Elementary/Middle Grade Graphic Novels: Where’s Halmoni?, by Julie Kim
  • Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction: The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart, by Stephanie Burgis
  • Young Adult Graphic Novels: Spill Zone, by Scott Westerfeld
  • Young Adult Speculative Fiction: Scythe, by Neal Shusterman

(9) VICTOR MILAN. George R.R. Martin posted a tribute to his late friend and colleague – Another Ace Falls.

Our writing community here in New Mexico, and the world of SF and fantasy in general, took a blow this afternoon when our friend Victor Milan died after two months of suffering and struggle in a series of Albuquerque hospitals.

I first met Vic not long after I moved to Santa Fe in 1979. Outgoing, funny, friendly, and incredibly bright, he was one of the cornerstones of the New Mexico SF crowd for decades, a regular at Bubonicon in Albuquerque, the perennial masquerade host at Archon in St. Louis, a fan, a lover of ferrets and collector of guns, a gamer (I can’t tell you how many times we stayed up till dawn playing Superworld, Call of Cthulhu, and other RPGs with Vic, and laughing at the outrageous antics of the characters he created). But above all, he was a writer.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 14, 1959Journey to the Center of the Earth premiered.
  • February 14, 1976The Bionic Woman aired its first episode on TV.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born February 14, 1919 – David A. Kyle

(12) FRANK HERBERT HONORED. The late author of Dune has been commemorated by the town where he spent his childhood: “Metro Parks Tacoma board honors author Frank Herbert and Judge Jack Tanner”.

Dune Peninsula

The process of naming a new public gathering space carved from the remnants of the former ASARCO smelting operation has sparked the parallel recognition of a pioneering African-American jurist, the late U.S. District Court Judge Jack Tanner.

On Monday, Feb. 12, the Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners concluded a lengthy public process by naming the 11-acre waterfront site on the breakwater peninsula in honor of science fiction writer Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel “Dune” and its five sequels.

The board approved the name Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park for the highly anticipated space that’s still under construction around the Tacoma Yacht Club boat basin. In addition, a winding, paved pedestrian loop also being built on the site has been named Frank Herbert Trail. Both are tentatively scheduled to open to the public later this year.

… The chosen names for the breakwater peninsula area were recommended by a Metro Parks committee of staff members who reviewed more than 500 recommendations submitted by the public last summer. Of those, about 300 were related to Herbert or “Dune.” Tanner’s name also was highly rated among the publicly submitted recommendations.

(13) SHORT FICTION REVIEWS. Charles Payseur is back with “Quick Sips – GigaNotoSaurus February 2018”

Perhaps appropriate for the month, GigaNotoSaurus brings a rather romantic piece for its February release. Or, at least, a story very interested in love and trust, hope and freedom. It’s a story that features two very different characters finding a common language, a common purpose, and staying true to each other in order to do something they couldn’t do alone. It’s a touching and beautiful piece, for all that it’s dominated by the weight of captivity and the desire for release. But before I spoil everything, let’s get to the review!

(14) MEET ANOTHER SHARKE. Another new Shadow Clarke juror meets the publilc: “Introducing Foz Meadows”.

My Shattersnipe blog turns ten years old in May this year, which is a genuinely startling milestone to contemplate. The idea of my one day being invited to participate in something like the Shadow Clarke jury wouldn’t have occurred to me a decade ago. Though my first novel was years from being accepted and published when I started Shattersnipe, my aim was still to become a fantasy author, which is why I opted to blog under my own name. Even so, I had no sense that I might end up being paid or known for my essays there: it was just an extension of what I’d always done, a way to keep myself occupied. I’ve changed a lot since I started it, as has my writing; as, for that matter, have my opinions about writing. My taste in things has never been static, and while there’s something to be said for consistency, it’s my belief that critical practice, like any other discipline, should always be a sort of Theseus’s ship, willing and able to improve or change while still remaining coherent and functional.

At base, my approach to criticism is that total objectivity is impossible. Everyone has a bias, which is another way of saying that everyone has their own tastes, opinions, and context, and that rather than trying to feign objectivity by generalising those biases into an inherently limited concept of what is Normal or Traditional and therefore Good, the more honest, productive approach is to acknowledge them openly. In this way, I believe, our literary yardsticks become both more varied in terms of scope and more individually useful to the audience. Knowing that a critic dislikes steampunk, for example, gives their potential enthusiasm for a steampunk novel far more positive weight than if that dislike had hitherto been presented, not as an individual preference, but as a blanket, universalised declaration that steampunk is fundamentally Bad. In the latter case, such a critic’s praise of a book that their readership would reasonably have expected them to shun reads as a total alteration of judgement and worldview, like a political flip-flop, and is therefore made somewhat suspect. In the former case, it becomes a genuinely intriguing recommendation, that such a story was good enough to overcome their usual inclinations.

The new juror received an immediate endorsement from a Becky Chambers fan –

(15) IT’S THE RIGHT TIME. At SciFiNow, “Guillermo del Toro talks The Shape Of Water, Sally Hawkins and making an adult fairytale”.

Was the 1962 setting always a key element?

I knew I wanted to make it about now, not about then, but most of the time the fairytale needs “Once Upon A Time”. So, I thought, “What is the most cherished time in American history, recent American History?” I thought of 1962 because it’s when everybody is talking about the future, the space race is on and you have beautiful jet fin cars, suburban life, a TV in every house, Kennedy in the White House and Vietnam is starting to escalate, and then Kennedy’s shot, Vietnam escalates and everything kind of dies and scepticism is born. But when people say “Let’s make America great again” they’re thinking of ’62, I think. But this is if you were a WASP. If you were a minority the problems were horrible.

(16) CALL AND RESPONSE. Liz Bourke devoted her latest Sleeps With Monsters column to asking “Where Are the SFF Stories About Pregnancy and Child-rearing?” It begins:

The literature of the fantastic is a fruitful place in which to examine gendered questions of power. People have been using it to talk about women’s place in society (and the place of gender in society) pretty much for as long as science fiction has been a recognisable genre. Joanna Russ and Ursula Le Guin are only two of the most instantly recognisable names whose work directly engaged these themes. But for all that, science fiction and fantasy—especially the pulpishly fun kind—is strangely reluctant to acknowledge a challenge to participation in demanding public life (or a physically ass-kicking one) faced primarily (though not only) by women.

Pretty sure you’ve already guessed what it is. But just to be sure—

Pregnancy. And the frequent result, parenting small children.

Judith Tarr felt the title was not a rhetorical question and answered it this way —

(17) HARASSMENT SURVEY. Here are the responses to Anne Ursu’s survey about “Sexual Harassment in the Children’s Book Industry”.

We work in children’s books, and we like to think we are different, somehow. We value “kindness.” The ranks of publishers are populated with women. And everyone is so nice, right?

But we aren’t different, and before we can do anything about sexual harassment, we need to face that reality. And the reality is that a culture of “kindness” can silence people who have been harassed, that women can be complicit in a culture of sexual harassment and gender discrimination, and that the people who we work alongside, whose books we care about, who we like, can be sexual harassers.

Facing this reality is going to be ugly. But it is far uglier to pretend these problems aren’t here.

In December, I opened a survey about sexual harassment in children’s publishing, inspired by Kelly Jensen’s work on sexual harassment in libraries. I received almost 90 responses, as well as emails and DMs from people who didn’t want to fill out the survey because they felt too ashamed, or were still frightened of reprisal.

This is not intended to be some kind of lurid exposé of children’s publishing. The point of it isn’t to say that our industry is somehow special; the point is simply that we do have problems, that these problems affect people’s careers and mental health, and that we can and should take steps to solve these problems so more people do not get hurt.

(18) SHE BELONGS IN PICTURES. The Thirteenth Doctor heralds a new era for Titan Comics’ Doctor Who.

BBC Worldwide Americas and Titan Comics are excited to announce that, alongside premiering in the Doctor Who season, the Thirteenth Doctor will be debuting in comics this fall!

This brand-new ongoing comic series, written by Eisner-nominated writer Jody Houser (Orphan Black, Star Wars: Rogue One, Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, Faith, Supergirl, Mother Panic) with art by fan-favorite artist Rachael Stott (The Twelfth Doctor, Motherlands) joined by colorist Enrica Angolini (Warhammer 40,000), features the Thirteenth Doctor, as played by Jodie Whittaker. The new Doctor made her first appearance on 2017’s Doctor Who Christmas Special, “Twice Upon A Time,” regenerating from Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor.

(19) A ROLL CALL OF STINKERS. 24/7 Wall St. believes these are the “30 Worst Superhero Movies”. For instance —

  1. “The Phantom” (1996) > Director: Simon Wincer > Starring: Billy Zane, Kristy Swanson, Treat Williams > Domestic box office: $17.30 million > Superpower: Extreme athleticism

(20) SFF FILM FOR VALENTINE’S DAY. “Orbit Ever After” by Jamie Magnus Stone (2013) featuring Love, Actually’s Thomas Brodie-Sangster as a smitten suitor in space.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/3/18 As God Is My Witness, I Thought Pixels Could Scroll!

(1) QUEEN OF PULP. Twitter’s Pulp Librarian today did a retrospective of illustrator Margaret Brundage, “the Queen of Pulp,” with lots of her Weird Tales covers from the 1930s. Jump on the thread here —

(2) ELLEN KLAGES DONATES CLARION WEST INSTRUCTORSHIP. Clarion West announced Karen Lord is the recipient of “The Sally Klages Memorial Instructorship 2018”.

The Sally Klages Memorial Instructorship will be awarded in 2018 in memory of Sally Klages, with love from her sister Ellen Klages….

Ellen Klages’ tribute begins —

Sally was a writer. I never heard her say that she wanted to be one; she simply proclaimed, proudly, that she was. She wrote every day in tiny, cramped cursive: working on her autobiography, lectures to her Invisible Friends, instructions about how life ought to be led.

Like many of us, she owned dozens of notebooks and countless pens, and was never without them. She once packed a gallon-sized Ziploc bag of pens and markers into her carry-on bag for a two-hour flight, “in case one runs out.” Writing was her joy, her recreation, her solace.

Sally was born with Down Syndrome. As far as she was concerned, that wasn’t a handicap — it was what made her special. And she was. She was Valedictorian of her class at Northeast Training Center, and an employee at Columbus State University for 17 years. She was one of the founding members of the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio (DSACO), she was on the board of the National Down Syndrome Conference, and was a featured speaker there in 1989. An active participant in the Special Olympics, she won more than three dozen medals in swimming, diving, track and field, bowling, and cross-country skiing….

[Via Locus Online.]

(3) PICACIO AT THE MIKE. In “Your 2018 Hugo Awards MC Is….” John Picacio tells why he is proud to be Worldcon 76’s choice.

Today, the 76th World Science Fiction Convention has announced me as the Master of Ceremonies for this year’s Hugo Awards in San Jose, CA, while also announcing that the Hugo Awards’ Nominations Period is now open! Having won two Hugos for Best Professional Artist, I know how much the Hugos mean to the sf/f field, and it’s a huge honor to serve this stage in front of my colleagues and heroes. Worldcon 76 asked me to be the 2018 Hugo MC last August so it’s been fun keeping that under wraps the last five months, even after being announced as this year’s Artist Guest of Honor.

There’s some history that comes along with this role.

  • I’m the first visual artist to ever be a Hugo Awards MC. I think this could perhaps be a harbinger of Hugo Ceremonies to come. Many of our best visual creators — such as Brom, Todd Lockwood, Ruth Sanderson, Gregory Manchess, and more — are becoming author / artist / storytellers, conjuring the words and pictures of their own bestselling books and media. Our next generation of illustrators are aspiring to tell their own stories, just as much as becoming hired guns. I suspect there will be more artists following through the Hugo MC door behind me, and they’ll likely come from this expanding universe of hybrid, contemporary artists.
  • I’m only the third Worldcon Guest of Honor to also serve as Hugo Awards MC at the same Worldcon. I believe Connie Willis and David Gerrold are the only others to do this in the con’s 76-year history. We must all be insane. ?.
  • I’m especially proud to be the first Mexicanx to ever serve as a Hugo Awards MC. I love being first, but the most important thing is that I’m not the last. With the daily assaults upon our DREAMers, villainizing of our culture by racists, and terroristic threats against our citizens, we’re living in an important moment for Mexicanx north and south of the border. I’m looking forward to sharing my spotlight with all of them.

(4) WITHOUT A SHADOW OF A DOUBT. 2016 Clarke Award judge David Gullen discusses what the experience taught him about his own fiction writing: “Things I Learned Judging the Arthur C. Clarke Award” at Medium.

At some point during reading those 113 books it occurred to me what a difficult thing writers are trying to do and just how many different things each author is trying to get right. It’s not just character and plot and pace and tension, world-building, good dialogue, effective exposition, setting story questions and keeping story promises, it’s also trying to get that motivating vision in your head down onto the page. Even a pretty ordinary book takes a lot of effort. If you assume each of those books took 6 months to write?—?and many would have taken more?—?that is 57 years of effort, not far from the entire productive life of a single person.

(5) THE WRITER’S EMOTIONAL ROLLER COASTER. A tweet from Annie Bellet.

(6) READERCON PRUNES PROGRAM INVITE LIST. Several older, white male writers who have participated on Readercon’s program in previous years have posted to Facebook over the past month that they have been notified they won’t be on this year’s program, or simply haven’t received the expected invitation. There’s no reason they have to be happy about it, and understandable if it triggers a bit of insecurity and resentment. However, the whiff of controversy around this development is not completely unlike Jon Del Arroz’ certainty that politics were the real reason he was rotated off BayCon programming.

Allen Steele wrote on Facebook yesterday:

The other convention I’ve usually gone to in the past, but will no longer attend, is Readercon. I’ve been an invited guest since Readercon 2 (had to skip the first one because of a schedule conflict), and have attended most of the 36 previous conventions … and then last year, without any sort of notice or explanation, I wasn’t invited. I was recovering from last year’s pancreas operation, so I probably wouldn’t have been able to show up anyway, but I wondered why nonetheless.

This year, I have an explanation … just not a good one. It appears, in an effort to be fair to young new writers, Readercon has been sending out form email letters to older authors such as myself (everyone known to have received the letter is male and above age 50), telling them that they’ve been dropped from the program participant list and therefore will not be invited guests.

Oh, we’re still welcome to attend, if we pay the registration fee. In fact, because of our exalted former status, we’re entitled to a 25% discount … if we go to a private registration site and enter the password (get this) PASTPRO.

So not only have we been told that we’re not welcome to come as professionals, we’re also being told that we’re no longer professionals, period.

I haven’t received the letter … but neither have I been invited. As I said, I wasn’t invited last year either, nor was I ever offered a reason why. To their program chair, I sent a polite letter calmly explaining why the letter is demeaning, insulting, and for the convention disastrously short-sighted; the response I got was a “so sorry you feel that way” blow-off. This pretty much confirms that I’ve been cast into the outer darkness for being … well, let’s not go there. And even if I’m not on the “past pro” list, I won’t come to a convention that would treat my friends and colleagues this way.

I mention this because I usually see at Readercon quite a few people who follow this page. Sometimes they bring copies of my books so I can sign them, and they need to know in advance not to use valuable suitcase-space. Sorry, guys … this year, it’s Boskone and the Hong Kong SF Forum only. At least those conventions still have respect for senior authors.

A month ago Ian Randall Strock said he got the letter and named two others who’d received it:

It seems Readercon has begun their apparently new tradition of uninviting past guests. Last year, it was Darrell Schweitzer. Today, I got the letter, as did Warren Lapine.

Anyone else get the email (under the subject line “Thank you for your service to Readercon”) starting out “There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll be straightforward: you won’t be receiving an invitation to participate in programming for Readercon 29.”?

Another thought occurs: are they only doing this to folks who are also dealers, thinking we’ll be there anyway? I’ll have to run the numbers to see if it’s worth attending.

Readercon 29 takes place July 12-15 in Quincy, MA.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 3, 1993 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine premiered in television syndication.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY SUBCREATOR

  • Born February January 3, 1892 – J.R.R. Tolkien [never mind….]

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Mike Kennedy sends Pearls Before Swine with an observation that sounds just like the kind of dismal thing Kurt Vonnegut would come up with. So you’ll love it, right? (?)
  • John King Tarpinian discovered a horrific satirical cereal box in Off the Mark. (Was that a description or a pleonasm?)
  • JJ admires Grant Snider’s The Specter of Failure at Incidental Comics.
  • Via RedWombat –

(10) ARE YOU SURPRISED? Mental Floss tempts readers with “16 Surprising Facts About Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451”. Some are no more surprising than this —

  1. BRADBURY DID NOT WRITE FAHRENHEIT 451 IN NINE DAYS.

A popular apocryphal story is that Bradbury hammered out Fahrenheit 451 in just over a week. That story is wrong: It was the 25,000-word “The Fireman” that he wrote in that time period. The author would later refer to the short story as “the first version” of the eventual novel. But over the years, he would often speak about “The Fireman” and Fahrenheit 451 interchangeably, which has caused some confusion.

  1. HE WROTE HIS FIRST VERSION ON A RENTED TYPEWRITER IN A LIBRARY BASEMENT.

Bradbury and wife Marguerite McClure had two children in 1950 and 1951, and he was in need of a quiet place to write but had no money for renting an office. In a 2005 interview, Bradbury said:

“I was wandering around the UCLA library and discovered there was a typing room where you could rent a typewriter for 10 cents a half-hour. So I went and got a bag of dimes. The novel began that day, and nine days later it was finished. But my God, what a place to write that book! I ran up and down stairs and grabbed books off the shelf to find any kind of quote and ran back down and put it in the novel. The book wrote itself in nine days, because the library told me to do it.”

  1. HE SPENT $9.80 ON TYPEWRITER RENTAL.

Bradbury’s nine days in the library cost him, by his own estimate, just under $10. That means he spent about 49 hours writing “The Fireman.”

(11) NOT YOUR TYPICAL FLORIDA MAN STORY. From Futurism, “Florida Man Becomes First Person to Live With Advanced Mind-Controlled Robotic Arm”.

Prosthetics have advanced drastically in recent years. The technology’s potential has even inspired many, like Elon Musk, to ask whether we may be living as “cyborgs” in the not-too-far future. For Johnny Matheny of Port Richey, Florida, that future is now. Matheny, who lost his arm to cancer in 2005, has recently become the first person to live with an advanced mind-controlled robotic arm. He received the arm in December and will be spending the next year testing it out.

The arm was developed by Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab as part of their program Revolutionizing Prosthetics. The aim of the program, which is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is to create prosthetics that are controlled by neural activity in the brain to restore motor function to where it feels entirely natural. The program is specifically working on prosthetics for upper-arm amputee patients. While this particular arm has been demoed before, Matheny will be the first person to actually live with the prosthesis. The program does hope to have more patients take the tech for a longterm test run, though.

(12) FROM SOMEWHERE BESIDES LAKE WOEBEGONE. Since the firing of Garrison Keillor A Prairie Home Companion has a new host and a new name – Cat Eldridge reviews “Live from Here, the show formerly known as APHC, hosted by Chris Thile” at Green Man Review.

… Where Kellior was the sedate, downbeat host who wanted you to be part of the Lake Woebegon community, Thile is more than a bit manic, bouncing around in delight apparently as he gets to interact with musicians and other folk who he obviously admires a lot. APHC put me to sleep, LFH is definitely designed to keep me actively listening.

Shovel & Rope, a really good Americana couple, is dok good a bluesy travel song as I listen this moment. (By now I’d usually have decided to turn Kellior off.) Some minutes later, Gabby Moreno is playing a very lively (I think) a Tex-Mex song. Need I say Thile is really excited like her being on Live from Here?

… I’m an hour in and still not even close to tuning out though the comedy riff just now was meh but I’m not a fan of most such comedy anyways. That segued into a very nice and quite tasty bit of jazzy music by Snarky Puppy which is enhanced by the production team cleverly positioning mics in the audience which is more than a bit raucous all show long which they really demonstrate when Chris musically deconstructs  ‘I’ll Be There’ in words and music….

(13) FAR SIDE OF THE KERFUFFLE. Most of the post is more abuse, so won’t be excerpted here, but Vox Day hastened to say Foz Meadows won’t be getting an apology from him: “I’ll take ‘things that will never happen’”. He adds —

Third, Dave Freer didn’t sic me on anyone about anything. I don’t recall having any communication with him in years. I just checked my email and I haven’t received even a single email from him since I set up my current machine in April 2016. Nor have I spoken to him.

(I’m not creating an Internet Archive page for this one so people can somehow feel okay about insisting on reading the insults.)

(14) COUGH IT UP. Add this contraption to the list of things science fiction never predicted: “When The Flu Hits Campus, The Gesundheit Machine Will Be Ready”.

Those sick enough will get sent around the corner to a room with a crazy-looking, Rube-Goldberg-like contraption known as the Gesundheit machine.

For half an hour, the student sits in the machine. As the student breathes, the machine collects whatever virus they’ve got from the droplets in their breath.

The researchers will then use the student’s contacts to try to figure out how infections spread from person to person: “roommates, study buddies, girlfriends and boyfriends,” Milton says. “We’re going to swab them every day for a week to see if they get infected.”

If the student’s contacts get infected, researchers will try to pin down whether they got the bug from the original subject or someone else.

“We’re going to deep sequence the genetic code of the agent to see if it was really exactly the same thing,” Milton explains. He’s aware that confirming that your roommate gave you a horrible flu could ruin some perfectly nice relationships, but it’s for science.

(15) MELTING, MELTING. BBC tells how “Space lasers to track Earth’s ice”.

Ice is the “climate canary”. The loss, and the rate of that loss, tell us something about how global warming is progressing.

In the Arctic, the most visible sign is the decline of sea-ice, which, measured at its minimum extent over the ocean in September, is reducing by about 14% per decade.

At the other pole, the marine floes look much the same as they did in the earliest satellite imagery from the 1960s, but land ice is in a negative phase.

Something on the order of 160 billion tonnes are being lost annually, with most of that mass going from the west of the White Continent.

(16) STAR WARS MEETS PETER RABBIT. Daisy Ridley is still a rebel. And a rabbit.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Bill, JJ, John King Tarpinian, John Picacio, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Mark Hepworth, Chris Garcia, Will R., Vox Day, StephenfromOttawa, Christopher Rowe, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jamoche.]

Foz Meadows on Other Prospective Apologies

Foz Meadows, who readily accepted Lou Antonelli’s apology for claiming Camestros Felapton is a pseudonym for Foz Meadows’ husband, Toby, said today she has a different policy and expectation for any apologies and retractions that might come from Dave Freer and others who ran with the story because of all the abuse they packaged with it.

Antonelli’s Apology Accepted By Foz Meadows and Camestros Felapton

Lou Antonelli has tweeted apologies to the victims of his false claims that blogger Camestros Felapton is a pseudonym for Foz Meadows’ husband, Toby.

Camestros Felapton accepted the apology: “A Gracious Note From Lou Antonelli”.

Lou Antonelli has sent me a polite apology via Twitter regarding his claims that I was Toby Meadows. I’d like to thank him for that.

I’ve disabled comments on this post because I’d prefer to move on from this now. I will say that I don’t regard myself as particularly the injured party in this. The Meadows family have had to put up with a lot of maliciousness from several parties.

Over the past ten days Camestros Felapton has written many posts about this kerfuffle. “Was Antonelli Set Up?” (January 26) is as good as any for learning the details if you don’t already know them.

Foz Meadows also accepted Antonelli’s apology in this exchange:

The impetus for the charge may have come from Facebook conversations that I cannot access, therefore I cannot document who originated it. But on January 21, Brad Torgersen used the charge as the basis for a malicious attack on Camestros at Mad Genius Club, “Camestros Felapton is Toby Meadows, spouse of Foz Meadows” [Internet Archive page]. Foz Meadows, after she and her husband dealt with the resulting abuse for several days, on January 29 posted “A Personal Note” about the falsehood of the claim and the emotional pain that it caused.

[Thanks to JJ, Daniel Dern, and Camestros Felapton for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 1/29/18 The Man Who Scrolled The Moon

(1) PAIN FOR PLEASURE. The sheer, greedy click-seeking that fuels this kerfuffle is being paid for by the pain of the targeted family, as Foz Meadows makes clear in “A Personal Note”.

And it is an insult, regardless of Freer’s claims that he’s only saying what anyone might think. It is also uniquely hurtful – and again, I say this with no expectation that Freer himself cares for my feelings. Manifestly, he does not, and will doubtless rejoice to know that he’s upset me. Nonetheless, I am upset. I’ve tried to pretend that I’m not, but I am, and having admitted as much to myself, I feel no shame in admitting it here. Before all this, I’d never heard of Freer at all, and while I’m aware that the public nature of my life online means that I am, in a sense, accessible to strangers, there’s a great deal of difference between having someone object to my writing, and having them construct malicious falsehoods about my personal life.

In the past few days, at least one person has asked me if I’m really sure that Toby isn’t Camestros; that maybe he’s doing it all behind my back. Freer, Torgersen and Antonelli have laughed at the idea that, if Camestros isn’t Toby, then surely I must be grateful for their alerting me to the presence of a stalker-impersonator – as though they aren’t the ones rifling through my marriage in pursuit of a link that is not, was never, there.

(2) HELLBOY’S DRAWER. The Society of Illustrators presents “THE ART OF MIKE MIGNOLA: Hellboy and Other Curious Objects”, a selection of works from the comic artist and writer behind the award-winning Dark Horse Comics series Hellboy, from March 6 – April 21.

In this exhibit, the Society will feature highlights from his fan-favorite Hellboy series, as well as other spin-off titles including work from B.P.R.D., Abe Sapien, and Witchfinder. The Society is also pleased to feature samples from his award-winning comic books including the Eisner Award winner The Amazing Screw-On Head (Dark Horse Comics) as well as Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire (Bantam Spectra), co-written by best-selling author Christopher Golden. This special exhibit will include an array of comic pages, covers, and rarely seen original paintings by Mignola.

An opening reception for the exhibit will take place on Tuesday, March 6th, beginning at 6:30PM.

In addition, Mike Mignola will be a Guest of Honor at this year’s MoCCA Arts Festival. This 2-day multimedia event, Manhattan’s largest independent comics, cartoon and animation festival, draws over 8,000 attendees each year. Held on April 7 and 8, the Fest will include speaking engagements, book signings, and parties. Further scheduling for Mignola’s appearances including a panel talk and book signings will be available in future announcements.

(3) CONDENSED CREAM OF 2016. If they’re short stories, does that mean they don’t fluff up your Mt. TBR pile quite as much as book recommendations? Greg Hullender notes Rocket Stack Rank is continuing its 2016 catch-up posts:

Here’s our next-to-last article about 2016 short fiction. This one focuses on which publications were most likely to run stories that earned recommendations/awards/spots in year’s-best anthologies.

“2016 Best SF/F Short Fiction Publications”

The two tables of publication coverage are actually a very compact representation of almost all the raw data for this and the final article, which will focus on the sources of recommendations (i.e. awards, reviewers, and year’s-best anthologies).

(4) EXPANDED UNIVERSE: At Featured Futures, Jason recaps the first month of the new year, discussing some new zines and some (old) news in the January Summation.

Covering January short fiction was exciting (and busy), as Featured Futures added Analog, Ares, Asimov’s, Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, F&SF, and Galaxy’s Edge to its roster, resulting in significantly more stories read than usual (86 of 455K words) and a similarly larger than usual recommended/mentioned list. In webzine news, and speaking of Galaxy’s Edge, I was going to add coverage of it as a print zine but, coincidentally, it returned to webzine status, once again making all its fiction available on the web. The categorized “List of Professional SF/F/H Magazines” (which doubles as a list of the markets Featured Futures covers as well as being a sort of index of reviews) has been updated to reflect this.

(5) TOWARDS CANONISATION. The advocates of sainthood for J.R.R. Tolkien are calling for support of preliminary events, as well as the planned Tolkien Canonisaton Conference:

Please pray for the following intentions and dates for the upcoming Tolkien year in the lead up to the Tolkien Canonisation Conference in September 2018 in Oxford:…

  • Saturday 17th March – St Patrick’s Day Ceilidh Fundraiser 2018: raising funds for the Tolkien Canonisation Conference.
  • Friday April 13th – (provisional) Lecture on the Theology of the Body and J. R. R. Tolkien in London.
  • Saturday 1st September – Sunday 2nd September 2018 : Tolkien Canonisation Conference in Oxford.

(6) CHANGE AT TOR BOOKS. Publisher’s Lunch reports —

Liz Gorinsky is leaving her position as a senior editor at Tor Books on February 2. She will continue to handle some of her authors as a consulting editor at Tor and edit short fiction at Tor.com.

Gorinsky tweeted –

Catherynne M. Valente added –

(7) ROBERTS’ RECS. A thread by Adam Roberts is aimed at BSFA Award nominators but is interesting for everyone. Starts here —

(8) STORY SCRAPING AT LOCUS. Locus Online miraculously noticed the 2018 Darrell Award finalists today, one day after File 770 reported the story. Since Mark Kelly stopped doing the news posting there, Locus Online has become especially active scraping stories from File 770 without acknowledging where they got them. A little “hat tip” would be appropriate and appreciated.

(9) SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL PLANET. It’s time for any book blogger, podcaster, or “booktuber” to nominate for the 2017 Planetary Awards. Click on the link to learn how to participate. The nomination deadline is February 14th, 11:59PM US Pacific time.

The Puppy-influenced Planetary Awards were given for the first time two years ago.  The inaugural awards for 2015 work were posted in May 2016 –

  • Best Novel: Torchship by Karl Gallagher
  • Best Short Story: “Something in the Water” by C.S. Boyack

The awards for 2016 work were posted in May 2017 –

  • Best Novel: Swan Knight’s Son by John C. Wright
  • Best Short Story: “Athan and the Priestess” by Schuyler Hernstrom

The awards are administered by the Planetary Defense Commander, whose identity is findable with a little effort, but there’s no harm in having a handle, right Lou Antonelli? (Wait, maybe I should ask somebody else…)

(10) MORE ON MORT. The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna has an appreciation of the late Mort Walker, who he interviewed in 2010 and 2013: “‘Beetle Bailey’ creator Mort Walker, 94, created laughter ‘nearly every day of his life’”.  Cavna notes that Walker was around so long that Beetle Bailey was personally greenlit by William Randolph Hearst, and notes Walker’s efforts to create the Reuben Award and bring in more women into the cartooning field.

He was drafted into the Army Air Corps during World War II, but within the world of Walker, even that sometimes turned comically absurd. He spent time at Camp Crowder, which he said inspired “Beetle Bailey’s” Camp Swampy. “I signed up to go into psychiatry,” he told me in 2013 of the Army’s specialized training program, “and I ended up studying engineering. It was typical Army reasoning.”

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 29, 1845 — Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven,” is published on this day in the New York Evening Mirror.
  • January 29, 1964 Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb premiered.

(12) VOTING BOOTH ABOUT TO OPEN. The official Hugo Awards website announced “2018/1943 Hugo Award Nominations Opening Soon”. (Date not specified.)

Worldcon 76 San Jose advises us that they will open nominations for the 2018 Hugo Awards and 1943 Retrospective Hugo Awards within the next few days. They have been working with Worldcon 75 Helsinki and Worldcon 2018 Dublin to coordinate the combined membership information from all three Worldcons, and to do so within the limitations of the three countries’ data-protection laws. When testing of the online nomination form is complete, Worldcon 76 San Jose will release it on the Worldcon 76 web site and make an announcement. We’ll also announce the start of nominations here on The Hugo Awards web site. Paper ballots will also be distributed with Worldcon 76 Progress Report 2, which we understand is going to press in a few days and should mail to members of Worldcon 76 in February. Besides the online form, a PDF of the paper form will be available from Worldcon 76’s web site when it is ready for release.

(13) FAN HUGOS. Rich Horton, in “First Hugo Recommendations: Dramatic Presentation, Fan Writer, Fanzine”, is among the first to blog about prospective 2018 fan Hugo nominees. (Horton also covers the Dramatic Presentation – Long Form category.)

Best Fan Writer

The two fan writers I want to promote the most this year are a couple I mentioned last year as well: John Boston and John O’Neill. John Boston’s most publicly available recent stuff is at Galactic Journey, where he reviews issues of Amazing from 55 years ago, month by month. (It will be noted, perhaps, that I also review issues of Amazing from the same period, at Black Gate.) John’s work there is linked by this tag: http://galacticjourney.org/tag/john-boston/.

As for John O’Neill, of course his central contribution is as editor of Black Gate, for which he writes a great deal of the content, often about “vintage” books he’s found on Ebay or at conventions, and also about upcoming fantasy books….

Best Fanzine

As I did last year, I plan to nominate Black Gate, Galactic Journey, and Rocket Stack Rank for the Best Fanzine Hugo. I’m particularly partial in this context to Black Gate, primarily of course because I have been a contributor since the print days (issue #2 and most of the subsequent issues)….

I heartily agree with Horton’s interest in finding other fan publications than File 770 to put up for the Hugo (though he does have kind words for this site). It seemed a good opportunity to say so here.

(14) REAR VIEW MIRROR. Meanwhile, DB makes a start on the “Retro-Hugos for 1942” with a canvass of his favorite writers.

…Now for Lord Dunsany. In 1942 Dunsany published five stories, all very brief, and about a dozen poems, mostly in Punch. Most of the poems are hopeful gazes towards military victory, and a couple of them introduce the allegorical figure of Liberty, so they could technically be considered fantasy.

None of the stories are SF or fantasy, though the only one of them that’s worth reading could possibly squeeze in by courtesy. It’s a Jorkens story reprinted in The Fourth Book of Jorkens (1947), where it’s the shortest piece in the book. Jorkens is Dunsany’s long-running clubman character who’s prone to making outrageous claims or telling absurd stories which nobody can disprove. In this brief tale, “On the Other Side of the Sun,” that topic comes up – “I wonder what’s there?” – and Jorkens astonishes all by stating, “I have been there.” His regular patsy, Terbut, demands “When, may I ask?” At Jorkens’ reply, “Six months ago,” any red-blooded SF reader should know instantly how the story is going to end, but the penny doesn’t drop for the hapless Terbut until after he makes a large bet that Jorkens is lying…

(15) RETRO FANZINES. While Fanac.org marshals digital copies of 1942 fanzines in support of Worldcon 76’s Retro-Hugos, Robert Lichtman and Bill Burns have tracked down additional fanzines published in 1942 by Bob Tucker available elsewhere online – specifically, at the Internet Archive, which has scans of Tucker’s zine Le Zombie. Four 1942 are issues listed.

(16) SAVED FROM THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR. WIRED Magazine’s “Cantina Talk: Finally, a Complete Guide to All of The Last Jedi’s Easter Eggs” not only covers the story in the title, but this even more compelling news —

The Last Jedi Adds Some More Material (But Not Onscreen)

The Source: An official announcement from Lucasfilm

Probability of Accuracy: It’s totally legit.

The Real Deal: So apparently, there was more to Star Wars: The Last Jedi than appeared onscreen—but fortunately for fans, it’s not going to remain a secret. Writer/director Rian Johnson is working with novelist Jason Fry to create all-new scenes for the book’s forthcoming novelization, as well as rescuing deleted scenes from the cutting room floor, to firmly place them in the canon. Amongst the things audiences didn’t see in theaters but will read about: Han Solo’s funeral. Prepare your tissues for March 6; you’ll get to read all about it then.

(17) FUTURE IMAGINED. BBC interview with 2016 Hugo winner — “Hao Jingfang: China’s award-winning science fiction writer” (video).

She tells the BBC a lot of her stories originate from thought experiments, and her latest novel imagines “a dark possibility for the future” where robots have replaced human’s jobs.

(18) THE MARKETPLACE OF THE INTERNET.  Kim Huett sent a link to “Boring Talks #02 – Book Pricing Algorithms” with a comment: “Those of you into buying books online (assuming some of you indeed are) might like to listen to the following cautionary tale brought to us by BBC radio. It will confirm everything you ever suspected about the practise…”

A book for $1.7 million? To a computer, it made sense. Sort of. Tracy King explains.

(19) WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY A GAME? If you play poker you may be interested in a new infographic, “Poker & AI: The Raise of Machines Against Humans”. It details insights and research about the evolution of poker-playing artificial intelligence.

But what about the poker industry? Surely there must be an AI capable of playing poker at high levels. The answer is yes, there is. This infographic will show you how the poker’s AI developed throughout the history, as well as where it is now. You can find a lot of interesting stats and information in this infographic, but if you are interested in reading more about poker related stuff, visit our website.

(20) WHERE THE BOYS ARE. This belongs in Connie Willis’ next satirical speech about things science fiction predicted (none of which ever were) — “U.S. soldiers are revealing sensitive and dangerous information by jogging”.

Strava says it has 27 million users around the world, including people who own widely available fitness devices such as Fitbit and Jawbone, as well as people who directly subscribe to its mobile app. The map is not live — rather, it shows a pattern of accumulated activity between 2015 and September 2017.

Most parts of the United States and Europe, where millions of people use some type of fitness tracker, show up on the map as blazes of light because there is so much activity.

In war zones and deserts in countries such as Iraq and Syria, the heat map becomes almost entirely dark — except for scattered pinpricks of activity. Zooming in on those areas brings into focus the locations and outlines of known U.S. military bases, as well as of other unknown and potentially sensitive sites — presumably because American soldiers and other personnel are using fitness trackers as they move around.

Not just men, of course, but it made a good headline.

(21) OH NOES! Just think what a career he might have had, if he hadn’t been muted by the Guild!

(22) DISCOVERY SPOILERS. There, that should be enough warning about — “‘Star Trek: Discovery’: Jason Isaacs Apologizes for Lying, Admits to Feeling Like a ‘Drunken Hippo’ When Fighting Michelle Yeoh”.

“I’ve done nothing but lie since September,” he said to IndieWire. “I knew, perfectly well, everything before we started. And that meant that every interview was a lie and every conversation I had with my friends… Actually, with quite a lot of my family, was a lie. Anybody on the street was a lie. Anybody in Toronto. So I apologize for all that, but that was the only way to tell the story well.”

(23) PEJORATIVE’S PROGRESS. Inverse’s Ryan Britt looks back on “How the Word “Terran” Became a Sci-Fi Slur”.

In the Mirror Universe of Star Trek, humans aren’t called humans. They’re called “Terrans.” The word “Terran” comes from the root Latin word “terra,” meaning “dry earth,” which is where we get the phrase “terra firma.” But the word “Terran” has been prevalent in science fiction long before it cropped up again on Star Trek: Discovery in 2018. As it turns out “Terran” has a long history of being a dirty word for “human.”

(24) BLACK PANTHER. Marvel Studios’ Black Panther – “Let’s Go” TV spot.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/12/18 If You’ll Be My Pixel, I Can Be Your Long Lost Scroll

(1) TERRAN AWARD. George R.R. Martin, in “Aliens In Taos”, announces he has created a scholarship to bring an sf writer from a non-English speaking country to Taos Toolbox.

When astronauts look down on Earth from orbit, they don’t see borders, national boundaries, or linguistic groups; they see one world, a gorgeous blue globe spinning in space, streaked with clouds. I don’t know if humanity will ever reach the stars (though I hope we will), but if we do, it won’t be Americans who get there. It won’t be the Chinese or the Russians or the British or the French or the Brazilians or the Kiwis or the South Africans or the Indians or the folk of any other nation state either. It will be humanity; in the language of the SF of my youth, it will be Terrans or Earthlings or Earthmen. The future belongs to all the peoples of the world.

With that in mind, I want to announce that I am sponsoring a new scholarship, to bring an aspiring SF writer from a non-English-speaking country to the Taos Toolbox, the graduate level writing workshop that Walter Jon Williams and Nancy Kress run every summer in the mountains of northern New Mexico. The TERRAN AWARD, as I am calling it, will be given annually, and will cover all tuition and fees to the Toolbox (travel and meals not covered, alas). Applicants will need to speak and write in English, but must be from from a country where English is not the primary language. Walter Jon and Nancy and the Toolbox staff will select the winner. For more information on applying for the workshop, and the scholarship, contact WJW at wjw@taostoolbox.com

(2) MARKET REPORT. David Steffen has compiled the “SFWA Market Report for January” for the SFWA Blog,

(3) VISIT QO’NOS. The first Klingon tourist center has opened in Sweden.

Humans! tlhlngan maH [we are Klingons]

The Klingon Institute of Cultural Exchange demand your presence at our Terra-Friendly© presentation of Klingon culture and customs at Turteatern on Terra, Alpha Quadrant.

You will get the possibility to try cuisine, listen to opera, and a chance to acquire useful lifesaving tips in your everyday interaction with Klingons and Klingon customs, so that you may plan your holiday to our great empire and the First City on the planet Qo’noS without risking any discomfort and/or premature death.

This live-act presentation is brought to you by Visit Qo’noS, the tourist department of the Klingon high council.”

(4) OPINION RECONSIDERED. Teresa Jusino goes in an unexpected direction at The Mary Sue with “Internalized Sexism and Star Wars: My Long-Overdue Apology to Luke Skywalker”.

It would be tempting to “blame” all this on the prequels adding in new information after the fact, but as the video essay goes to great lengths to point out, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda teach Luke the same lessons about burying his feelings in the original trilogy. The difference between Anakin and Luke?

Luke consistently bucks his Jedi training in favor of giving in to his emotions and saving people.

Luke cares about others, even if they’ve “fallen to the Dark Side,” and so whether it’s to save his sister and his friends or to try to redeem Darth Vader, he follows his emotions in spite of the warnings he gets from his mentors, and he’s heroic because of it. This is why, to me, the Luke we meet in The Last Jedi is Peak Luke. He’s at his most emotional, his most vulnerable … and ultimately, at his most heroic

(5) WHEATON. Think Tank tells about supernovas in “When Stars Go Boom.”

Why do some stars end their lives in a supernova explosion? And how does that lead to forming planets and life like us? A science expert (Jerrika Hinton) explains by hooking her hapless assistant (Wil Wheaton) up to a Thought Visualizer, a machine that allows anyone to see his thoughts. With Ed Wasser.

 

(6) MORE VIDEO ARCHEOLOGY. Fanac.org has posted the restored video of the “Weird and Horror Genre Luncheon Panel” from MidAmeriCon, the 1976 Worldcon.

MidAmeriCon, the 34th World Science Fiction Convention, was held in Kansas City in 1976. This excerpt from the discussion held at the Weird and Horror Genre Luncheon features (L-R) Poul Anderson, Charles Grant, Ted White, Kirby McCauley (mod), Tom Reamy and Stuart Schiff talking about ghost stories, fairy tales, and why they are attracted to the genre. There are some spots where the film is damaged. Video and video restoration provided by David Dyer-Bennet and the Video Archeology Project.

 

(7) FLAME ON. HBO dropped a teaser trailer for Fahrenheit 451.

HBO Films presents Fahrenheit 451. In a terrifying care-free future, a young man, Guy Montag, whose job as a fireman is to burn all books, questions his actions after meeting a young girl…and begins to rebel against society. Starring Michael B. Jordan, and Michael Shannon.

 

(8) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to share flash-fried cauliflower with Sheila Williams in episode 57 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Sheila Williams

Sheila has worked for Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine since 1982, became its editor in 2004, and went on to win the Hugo Award for Best Short Form Editor in 2011 and 2012. She also co-edited A Woman’s Liberation: A Choice of Futures by and About Women with Connie Willis, as well as numerous other anthologies.

We chatted about her first day on the job more than a third of a century ago, meeting Isaac Asimov at an early Star Trek convention when she was only 16, which writer intimidated her the most when she first got into the business, what she learned from working with previous Asimov’s editors Shawna McCarthy and Gardner Dozois, the most common problems she sees in the more than 7,000 stories that cross her desk each year, the identities of the only writers she’s never rejected, what goes through her mind in that moment she reads a manuscript and arrives at “yes,” and much more.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 12, 1933:  Dr. Moreau adaptation Island of Lost Souls opens in New York City.
  • January 12, 1940:  Universal’s Invisible Man returns in The Invisible Man Returns! The Department of Redundancy Department approves.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY EYEBALL

  • Born January 12, 1992 or 1997 – HAL 9000. In the film 2001, HAL became operational on this date in 1992. The Wikipedia says the activation year was 1991 in earlier screenplays and changed to 1997 in Clarke’s novel.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) MASSIVE EFFORT. Pornokitsch reviews all ten Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 2017 finalists in a single glorious post – “SPFBO2017: The Finalists Reviewed (All of ’em!)”.

But, for now, here are this year’s ten finalists, in no particular order, with my – somewhat arbitrary – scores. Thanks again for all the writers, readers, judges and administrator (singular!) for participating, and please check out the other judges for other perspectives!

(13) CON OR BUST. Kate Nepveu’s Con or Bust newsletter lists many opportunities for fans of color/nonwhite fans to get memberships and other assistance to attend upcoming sf events. For example —

The following cons have recently donated assistance or memberships to Con or Bust:

  • JoCo Cruise 2018, February 18-25, 2018, departing from San Diego, CA, USA. JoCo Cruise has donated at least five cabins, which accommodate two to four people, and which come with lodging, meals and drinks (except not alcohol or soft drinks), and access to all programming. Please see the blog post for important details.
  • The 2018 SFWA Nebula Conference, May 17-20, 2018, Pittsburgh, PA, USA. The SFWA Givers Fund has awarded $4,000 to Con or Bust to enable people of color/non-white people attend SFWA Nebula Conference; funds can be requested during February 1-10, 2018.
  • Beach City Con, October 12 – 14, 2018, Virginia Beach, VA, USA (@beachcitycon). Beach City Con is a Steven Universe fan convention; it donated four weekend passes, which can be requested during February 1-10, 2018.
  • Scintillation, October 5-7, 2018, Montréal, Quebec, Canada. Scintillation is a small literary focused SF convention with program by Jo Walton; details at its Kickstarter page. It donated three memberships and $100, which can be requested during February 1-10, 2018

(14) LAST JEDI ANALYZED. Under some circumstances, Foz Meadows might like to take a red pen to “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”. BEWARE SPOILERS, if you still need to.

Based on this, it seems clear that The Last Jedi is intended to parallel The Empire Strikes Back, both structurally and thematically. All the same elements are in play, albeit recontextualised by their place in a new story; but where Empire is a tight, sleek film, The Last Jedi is middle-heavy. The major difference between the two is Poe’s tension-and-mutiny arc, which doesn’t map to anything in Empire.

And this is the part where things get prickly. As stated, I really love Rose Tico, not only because she’s a brilliant, engaging character superbly acted by Kelly Marie Tran, but because she represents another crucial foray into diverse representation, both in Star Wars and on the big screen generally. There’s a lot to recommend Vice-Admiral Holdo, too, especially her touching final scene with Leia: I still want to know more about their relationship. I am not for a moment saying that either character – that either woman – doesn’t belong in the film, or in Star Wars, or that their roles were miscast or badly acted or anything like that. But there is, I suspect, a truly maddening reason why they were paired onscreen with Finn and Poe, and that this logic in turn adversely affected both the deeper plot implications and the film’s overall structure.

(15) NO EMISSION CONTROL. NPR says “Researchers Spot Massive Black Hole In Double ‘Burp'”.

A giant black hole located at the center of a galaxy 800 million light-years from Earth has been caught on camera letting out not one, but two massive “burps” of highly charged particles.

It is the first time astronomers have viewed the phenomenon twice in the same black hole.

Images released Thursday and credited to the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory were presented at the American Astronomical Society’s winter meeting in National Harbor, Md., outside Washington, D.C.

“Black holes are voracious eaters, but it also turns out they don’t have very good table manners,” Julie Comerford, an astronomer at the University of Colorado Boulder, said during a news conference Thursday, according to Space.com. “We know a lot of examples of black holes with single burps emanating out, but we discovered a galaxy with a supermassive black hole that has not one, but two burps.”

(16) PADDINGTON 2 VERDICT. NPR’s Andrew Lapin sees “‘Paddington 2’: A Story That Bears Repeating”.

If only all of us could see the world the way Paddington sees London. The furry little bear in a raincoat looks around his adopted home and finds, in the smiling faces of his neighbors, nothing but joyful spirits and good intentions. There are no “no-go zones”; even a prison full of roughnecks can be a chance to help people in need. Forget the fact that he’s a talking bear from Darkest Peru. It’s Paddington’s impenetrable spirit, his striving to do right by the world, to “always see the good in people,” even those who wish him harm, that is the biggest wish-fulfillment of 2018.

(17) SHE GETS MAIL. Ursula Vernon cannot comfort the youth of America —

(18) MORE EYES IN THE SKY. BBC reports on a UK satellite, launched by India, to make movies from space, (first of a planned cluster, like ICEYE satellites sent yesterday).

A British satellite has gone into orbit on an Indian rocket to acquire full-colour, high-definition video of the surface of the Earth.

The demonstrator is expected to pave the way for a series of at least 15 such spacecraft, which will be operated by the Guildford-based company Earth-i.

The small, low-cost UK mission was one of 31 payloads riding on the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle.

It lifted off from the Satish Dhawan spaceport in Andhra Pradesh.

(19) BLACK WIDOW APPROACHING. According to Variety, “Marvel’s Standalone ‘Black Widow’ Movie Gains Momentum With Jac Schaeffer Writing”.

Marvel is finally pushing ahead with the highly anticipated “Black Widow” standalone movie starring Scarlett Johansson, with Jac Schaeffer penning the script.

Sources say this is still very early development, as the film has no greenlight, but naming a writer is the closest the studio has come to moving forward on a standalone pic. Marvel President Kevin Feige met with several candidates before tapping Schaeffer, and Marvel execs met with Johansson to discuss what they wanted from a “Black Widow” writer.

In case you need a reminder, watch this scene from Iron Man 2 of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow in action.

(20) BLUE MAN CULTIST. Here’s the official trailer for Cold Skin.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Hampus Eckerman, Andrew Porter, Kathodus, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 10/29/17 Please Remember To Scroll Your Pixels In The Form Of A Question

(1) THE ORIGINAL KTF REVIEWER. Humanities revisits “Edgar Allan Poe’s Hatchet Jobs”.

Poe churned out reams of puff-free reviews—the Library of America’s collection of his reviews and essays fills nearly 1,500 dense pages. Few outside of Poe scholarship circles bother reading them now, though; in a discipline that’s had its share of so-called takedown artists, Poe was an especially unlovable literary critic. He occasionally celebrated authors he admired, such as Charles Dickens and Nathaniel Hawthorne. But, from 1835 until his death in 1849, the typical Poe book review sloshed with invective.

Tackling a collection of poems by William W. Lord in 1845, Poe opined that “the only remarkable things about Mr. Lord’s compositions are their remarkable conceit, ignorance, impudence, platitude, stupidity, and bombast.” He opened his review of Susan Rigby Morgan’s 1836 novel, The Swiss Heiress, by proclaiming that it “should be read by all who have nothing better to do.” The prose of Theodore S. Fay’s 1835 novel, Norman Leslie, was “unworthy of a school-boy.” A year later, Poe doomed Morris Mattson’s novel Paul Ulric by pushing Fay under the bus yet again, writing, “When we called Norman Leslie the silliest book in the world we had certainly never seen Paul Ulric.”

Attacking better-known writers – a tactic still in use today by several minor sff authors — was also typical of Poe.

The twist, though, is that as a critic Poe often treated ethics as disposably as we do coffee filters. That self-dealing rave review is just one example. Poe plagiarized multiple times early in his career (most notably in The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym and “Usher”), but still spent much of 1845 leveling plagiarism accusations against Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Poe delivered his attacks under his own name, but also anonymously, and through an imaginary interlocutor named “Outis.” But for all of Poe’s bluster, evidence of Longfellow’s thievery was thin, and the poet, wisely, didn’t respond. “Poe’s Longfellow war,” said publisher Charles Briggs, who’d hired Poe at the Broadway Journal, “is all on one side.”

(2) WHAT A REVIEWER IS FOR. New Yorker’s Nathan Heller revisits the American Heart controversy in “Kirkus Reviews and the Plight of the “Problematic” Book Review”.

People make sense of art as individuals, and their experiences of the work differ individually, too. A reviewer speaks for somebody, even if he or she doesn’t speak for you.

To assume otherwise risks the worst kind of generalization. I went to high school in San Francisco at the height of the multiculturalism movement. My freshman curriculum did not include “The Catcher in the Rye,” “The Great Gatsby,” or “Moby-Dick.” We read, instead, “Their Eyes Were Watching God” and “Bless Me, Ultima,” and other books showing the range of American fiction. I’m glad. (One can read “The Grapes of Wrath” anytime.) I remember finding Hurston’s novel brilliant and Anaya’s novel boring. I did not conclude, from these feelings, that African-American literature was interesting and Chicano literature was not. Why would I? The joy of books is the joy of people: they’re individuals, with a balance of virtues and flaws. We are free to find—and learn our way into—the ones that we enjoy the most, wherever they come from.

That specificity of response is what Vicky Smith seems to encourage by opening the full canon of new work to new readers. It’s also, though, the diversity that Kirkus has smothered by issuing a “correction”—the editor’s word—on the political emphasis of a published response. Although it’s easy these days to forget, a politics is a practice of problem-solving, case by case, not a unilateral set of color-coded rules. If certain inputs guarantee certain outputs, what’s in play isn’t politics but doctrine. Kirkus, admirably, is trying to be on the progressive side of a moment of transition in our reading. But its recent choices aren’t about progress, or about helping young people find their way through many voices. They’re about reducing books to concepts—and subjecting individuals who read them to the judgments of a crowd.

(3) AWARD REBOOT. Newly appointed award administrator Tehani Croft announced “Significant changes for the Norma K Hemming Award”.

The Norma K Hemming Award, under the auspices of the Australian Science Fiction Foundation (ASFF), announces significant changes to the Award structure.

Designed to recognise excellence in the exploration of themes of race, gender, sexuality, class or disability in a published speculative fiction work, the Norma K Hemming Award, which has been running since 2010, has had a major overhaul this year, with new categories and a two year cycle.

The award is now open to short fiction and edited anthologies, alongside the previous eligible work of novellas, novels, collections, graphic novels and stage plays. It will also make allowances for serialised work. In addition, entry submissions may be digital or print for all submissions.

Two prizes will now be given, one for short fiction (up to 17,500 words) and one award for long work (novellas, novels, collections, anthologies, graphic novels and play scripts), with a cash prize and citation awarded.

Nominations for the 2018 awards, covering all eligible work published in 2016 and 2017, will open in early November.

(4) THE HORROR. Chloe continues the Horror 101 series at Nerds of a Feather with “HORROR 101: The Uncanny”.

The uncanny to me is a crucial element of horror: not being able to pinpoint exactly what makes us scared. While the extreme can be terrifying (the xenomorph in Alien is a category crisis—its something we can’t classify/is not instantly knowable—but it’s not uncanny because we shouldn’t be able to know it/classify it as its something completely new to the human experience). However, even more terrifying is that which is just a little off: pod people who may look like your lover, but they smile in just a slightly different way. A man with fingers just a little too long. Women with hair in front of their faces so that their expressions are unknowable.

In technology, we refer to the “uncanny valley” (a term coined by Masohiro Mori in the 70’s) when dealing with robots and computer designed images of people. A robot who looks human-like but not realistically so (think Bender in Futurama) wouldn’t trigger the uncanny valley but a robot who looks extremely close to human, but has some tiny bit of offness, such as the more and more realistic robots we have currently, would fall into it and create a sense of slight fear, revulsion, or distrust. In the film Ex Machina (which on its surface is a film about a Turing test going very wrong, but in its heart is a take on the tropes of Gothic literature and the Bluebeard fairy tale), Alicia Vikander portrays Ava brilliantly by making the robotic elements include both Ava’s movements (more perfect than an average person’s) and speech (carefully clipped and enunciated)—this heightens the uncanny valley feeling while going against the entirely human looks of her face (which wouldn’t necessarily fall into the uncanny valley).

(5) WHEN WILL YOU MAKE AN END? Alastair Reynolds writes a whole post – “Gestation time” — around a term that also came up in a discussion of Zelazny here earlier this week.

In the previous post I mentioned that my new story “Night Passage” – just out in the Infinite Stars anthology – was one I was glad to see in print because it had taken about five years to finish. I thought that was approximately the case, but when I checked my hard drive I saw that I opened a file on that story at the end of November 2009, so the better part of eight years ago. That wasn’t an attempt at the story itself, but as per my usual working method, a set of notes toward a possible idea. I rarely start work on a story cold, but instead prefer to brainstorm a series of rambling, sometimes contradictory thoughts, out of which I hope something coherent may emerge. This process can take anything from a morning to several days or weeks, but I never start a story in the first fire of inspiration.

(6) INITIAL QUESTION. At Nerds of a Feather, The G interviews Shadow Clarke reviewer Megan AM – “FIRESIDE CHAT: Megan AM of Couch to Moon”.

MEGAN AM: …  My own personal goal was to demonstrate that good, interesting, literary SF does exist; that it can come from anyone, anywhere, and in any language; and that it can compete with the basic, Americanized, TV-style SF I keep encountering on shortlists. Unfortunately, the 2017 Clarke submissions list didn’t give me much to work with on that front–a lot of the choices were very formulaic, very bland, not to mention very British, white, and male– but I did manage to find some champions I’m grateful to have read: Joanna Kavenna, Martin MacInnes, Lavie Tidhar, Johanna Sinisalo. As for my experience as a contributor… I mean, eight people I have admired in this field–most of whom I had never interacted with before– read and talked books with me. It was the coolest thing ever. I’m curious what you thought of the whole thing. Watching you watch it from the outside was interesting: You seemed genuinely interested in bridging gaps between contentious parties, communicating good faith in all sides, and withholding judgment until it was all said and done. So, now that it is done, what do you think? …

THE G: …. I’d also extend these observations to criticism itself. So I try to have a thick skin anytime I press “publish.” Someone is bound to think my ideas are rubbish, and that’s fine. At the same time, authors and fans are often guilty of violating the text/person distinction–taking depersonalized comments on a text personally and lashing out at the person who made them. The effect is to police what critics, bloggers and other reviewers can say in public, and that’s bullshit. 

I could go on, but let’s get back to the Sharke project! Or rather, back to awards. One thing that’s come up a lot in discussions is the concept of “award worthiness,” i.e. that there is some objective-ish bar that works of fiction must live up to in order to be proper candidates. I’ve bandied this term about a few times, generally when talking about the Hugos. I have a very clear sense of what, for me, constitutes award worthiness in science fiction and fantasy–some combination of ideas, execution, emotional resonance and prose chops. Not always the same combination, but hitting all four to a significant degree, and hitting one or two out of the park….

MEGAN AM: ….This comes back to questioning the idea of an objective kind of “award worthiness.” You mention “comfort SF,” which is just as subjective, because I don’t find that kind of SF comforting at all. We’re living in a Trumpnado, where critical reading and thinking skills are devalued, fake news accusations are flying from all directions, nazism is being given a platform in centrist media, and yet progressive SF fans feel threatened by the idea that it might be necessary to sharpen up on difficult, rigorous, uncomfortable novels? I’m not sure it’s appropriate right now to award anything less than radical and complex. And even setting politics aside, the these ‘comfort food books’ are aesthetically old and crusty. Reading award-nominated novels from different decades really helps to put that into perspective: Not a lot has changed in the styling of SF and its “coding” of metaphors, so I’m confused by why we keep awarding the same styles and thoughts… seventy. years. later.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

Amazingly, Clemens photographed 117 of the 156 episodes of the series. His crisp black-and white photography is well featured in the Blu-ray format – so crisp that a freeze-frame sometimes reveals details that even the art directors didn’t want you to see. For instance, in the Donald Pleasence episode “Changing of the Guard” (the final episode of the third season), the diploma on the wall of Professor Ellis Fowler’s office should feature his name. It doesn’t. Thanks to George Clemens’ crystal-clear photography, we see that it belongs to another man.

  • October 29, 1998 – John Glenn returned to outer space.

(8) THINKING ABOUT MOOLAH.  Franklin Templeton Investments gives a rundown about AI “Science Fiction To Science Fact: The Rise Of The Machines”.

By Mat Gulley, CFA, Executive Vice President, Head of Alternatives and Co-Head IM Data Science, Fintech & Rapid Development; Ryan Biggs, CFA, Research Analyst

The rapid expansion of artificial intelligence (AI) has generated a lot of excitement, but also some (perhaps justified) paranoia. Will computers replace-or even overtake-human beings? Mat Gulley, executive vice president and head of alternatives at Franklin Templeton Investments, and Ryan Biggs, research analyst at Franklin Equity Group, explore the ramifications of “the rise of the machines” in the realm of asset management. They say the full implications of the new machine age will likely take decades to fully play out, but will likely be staggering.

We have been anticipating their arrival for decades. As far back as 1958 the New York Times wrote a story about a machine developed at Cornell University called the Perceptron. The device was said to be “the embryo of an electronic computer … expected to walk, talk, see, write, reproduce itself and be conscious of its own existence.” In 1958!? That would have been an astonishing achievement in a time even before the microwave oven graced our kitchen countertops.

For the past half century, humanity has been eagerly anticipating the age of artificial intelligence (AI); imagining it in Hollywood and reporting on its progress in the media. Perhaps at times our optimism has gotten ahead of itself. Not any longer. This time, the machines are not just coming-they are already here….

(9) SPEAKING UP. The Washington Post’s Todd C. Frankel looks at the career of the video game voice actor, who can spend four hours straight practicing ways of screaming death scenes and who went on an eight-month strike to get better working conditions and residuals: “In $25 billion video game industry, voice actors face broken vocal cords and low pay”.

Yet voice actors in this industry are not treated like actors in television and movies. This led voice actors to go on strike last year against 11 of the largest video game developers over bonus pay and safety issues such as vocal stress. The bitter labor dispute dragged on for 11 months, making it the longest strike in the history of Hollywood’s largest actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA. Burch was forced to give up a critically acclaimed role she loved. Gaming fans feared delays for their favorite titles before a tentative deal was reached late last month. A vote by the full union is going on now.

The lengthy strike highlighted how video games have emerged as the scene of a tense clash between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Voice actors want to be treated more like TV and film actors, who are viewed as central to the creative process. Tech firms often see the developers and engineers as the true stars of the show.

“They keep saying, ‘Games are different,’?” said J.B. Blanc, a well-known voice actor and director who has worked with Burch several times. “But that’s no longer true. Because games want to be movies, and movies want to be games. These are basically 100-hour-long movies.”

(10) EASY PICKINGS. Abbie Emmons has now taken her Twitter account private after absorbing a thorough and professional internet beating. The punishment began after she tweeted the opinion belittled by Foz Meadows in “Dear Abbie: An Open Letter”. Foz begins with the admission “I don’t know where your hometown is” but doesn’t let that keep her from making assumptions about it, or from working in “white” and “Christian” four times in her opening paragraph, and not in a positive way.

You’re quite right to say that you, personally, will not encounter every type of person in your small corner of the world. But “small” is the operative word, here: wherever your hometown might be, the fact that it’s the basis of your personal experience doesn’t make it even vaguely representative of the world – or even America – at large.

You claim that you “love everyone” regardless of their background, and I’m sure you believe that about yourself. Here’s the thing, though: when you say you wish people would stop being “correct” and “just write books that actually… reflected the kind of thing we encounter in real life,” you’re making a big assumption about who that “we” is. There might be very few black people in your hometown, but if one of them were to write a novel based on their memories of growing up there, you likely wouldn’t recognise certain parts of their experience, not because it was “incorrect,” but because different people lead different lives. And when you claim that certain narratives are forced and unrealistic, not because the writing is badly executed, but because they don’t resemble the things you’ve encountered, that’s not an example of you loving everyone: that’s you assuming that experiences outside your own are uncomfortable, inapplicable and wrong.

(11) EXOTIC NATTER. NextBigFuture declares “Teleportation and traversible wormholes are all real”. You wouldn’t doubt Han Solo would you?

Einstein-Rosen or “ER” bridges, are equivalent to entangled quantum particles, also known as Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen or “EPR” pairs. The quantum connection between wormholes prevents their collapse without involving exotic matter.

The quantum-teleportation format precludes using these traversable wormholes as time machines. Anything that goes through the wormhole has to wait for Alice’s message to travel to Bob in the outside universe before it can exit Bob’s black hole, so the wormhole doesn’t offer any superluminal boost that could be exploited for time travel.

Researchers are working towards lab tests of quantum teleportation to verify their theories…

(12) POT. KETTLE. BLACK. Camestros Felapton, in “Reading Vox Day So You Don’t Have To: The last essay on Chapter 6”, thinks the way to refute Vox Day’s characterization of alleged SJW organizational tactics is to show how Republicans have done the same thing to each other. True as that may be, the trouble is tit-for-tat casemaking isn’t entertaining – and usually, Camestros is very entertaining.

Organizational Tactics

These are the terrible things SJWs are supposed to do to organizations. Vox lists seven and he manages to set up a deeply insightful analysis of how an organization can be destroyed by political extremists. The only problem is that as an analysis it fit bests how the right have wrecked the Republican party. Again, I’ve changed the order to show the sequence of events better.

“The Code of Conduct: Modifying the organization’s rules and rendering them more nebulous in order to allow the prosecution or defense of any member, according to their perceived support for social justice.”

Lobbying organizations on the right like the NRA or “Americans for Tax Reform”  have systematically created an extension of the GOP’s actual rules and accountabilities for their politicians. For example the ATR has been pressurizing Republican candidates (at state and federal level) to sign the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge”: …

(13) DEAR SIR OR MADAM. SyFy Wire tells about the exhibit where you can read J.K. Rowling’s original Harry Potter pitch to publishers.

Rowling’s original pitch opens with:

Harry Potter lives with his aunt, uncle and cousin because his parents died in a car-crash — or so he has been told. The Dursleys don’t like Harry asking questions; in fact, they don’t seem to like anything about him, especially the very odd things that keep happening around him (which Harry himself can’t explain).

The Dursleys’ greatest fear is that Harry will discover the truth about himself, so when letters start arriving for him near his eleventh birthday, he isn’t allowed to read them. However, the Dursleys aren’t dealing with an ordinary postman, and at midnight on Harry’s birthday the gigantic Rubeus Hagrid breaks down the door to make sure Harry gets to read his post at last. Ignoring the horrified Dursleys, Hagrid informs Harry that he is a wizard, and the letter he gives Harry explains that he is expected at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in a month’s time.

The synopsis goes on to discuss Hagrid’s arrival and his revelations about Harry’s forehead scar while also explaining that “Harry is famous among the witches and wizards who live in secret all over the country because Harry’s miraculous survival marked Voldemort’s downfall”.

(14) SPACE VAMPIRES AND THE FUTURE OF “I”. Peter Watts brings a whole new level to the term “self-effacing” – “The Bicentennial 21st-Century Symposium of All About Me”.

This feels a bit weird. Creepy, even.  If it makes any difference, I advised them not to go ahead with it.

A couple of weeks from now— Nov 10-11— the University of Toronto will be hosting an academic symposium about me. More precisely, about my writing.

You could even call it an international event. While U of T is providing the venue, the symposium itself is organized by Aussie Ben Eldridge, of the University of Sydney. At least two of the presenters are from the US (although one of them will be Skyping in, doubtless to avoid the mandatory cavity search that seems to be SOP at the border these days).

Friday is layperson-friendly: a round-table discussion of my oeuvre, or omelet, or however you say that; a reading (new stuff, yet to be published); an interview; a bit of Q&A.  The schedule only listed 15 minutes for drinks after that, but as Ben reminds me he is an Australian and would never make so rookie a mistake. That 15 minutes is only for warm-up drinking on campus, after which we retire to the Duke of York.

Saturday is the academic stuff….

(15) VISIBLE WOMAN. We probably have more cyborgs than Taylor Swift fans on this site — which still means some of you should be interested in this new recording: “Taylor Swift Turns Cyborg For New ‘Blade Runner’-Inspired Video to ‘…Ready For It?’ Watch”.

As fans of the Blade Runner universe mull over Denis Villeneuve’s cerebral cinematic study of what makes a human, Swift goes full replicant in the new futuristic music video, which dropped at midnight.

Taylor lit up the Internet earlier this week when she teased snippets from the sci-fi clip, in which she appears in a skin-tone thermoptic suit, giving the illusion of actually being her birthday suit. Who needs threads when you’re a machine, right?

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Carl Slaughter, and Elizabeth Fitzgerald for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]