Pixel Scroll 6/26/20 Memory, All Alone In The Bookstore, Has The Store Lost My Authors, Oh, Wait, Here They All Are

(1) PUBLISHER CUTS TIES WITH MYKE COLE. Angry Robot, which published their first Myke Cole book, Sixteenth Watch, in March, says they won’t be bringing out any more.

Cole previously had a trilogy published by Tor, and another series by Ace.

Cole also has been dropped by his agent.

Vault Comics canceled Hundred Wolves, where Myke Cole was the writer. The series was set to begin in September.

Cole apologized for his behavior, and reiterated an apology from 2018 — and then said he was “exiting…the public square…for the foreseeable future.”

(2) THE ROOM WHERE IT SHOULDN’T HAPPEN. Foz Meadows suggests ways to understand and navigate the sff social scene. Thread is compiled at Threadreader.

Foz kicks off with this tweet –

— but spends more time on issues like these:

(3) THE PROMISE OF ANGER IS AN ILLUSION. Alexandra Erin also discusses ethical ideas that may be helpful in deciding how to handle social situations: “More In Sorrow Than In Anger”. Tagline: “On what we choose to do when all our sins are remembered.”

This is not the piece I had planned on writing this week. While I cannot ignore national politics or world events, the professional community of which I am a part – that of the science fiction and fantasy literary profession – has been imbroiled with a wave of revelations of misconduct by some of the big fish in our small ponds of convention circuits, mentor programs, and what passes for royalty and nobility in our petty fiefdoms.

… At some points in our lives, all of us will find ourselves in a situation where the next thing we do will either make others very sad or very angry.

Sometimes this will be entirely outside your control. Sometimes you are placed in a situation through no fault of your own where nothing you do will make others happy, and in fact anything you do will likely leave them unhappy.

This is not about those times.

This is about the times when you do something, or are party to something, or fail to prevent something that is hurtful and harmful to others. Maybe you didn’t see it that way. Maybe you didn’t intend to do anything wrong.

But it’s true nonetheless that you’ve caused damage and now the question is what to do about it. What to say about it. Where to go next.

(4) WORD PICTURE. Catherynne M. Valente offered a way of looking at recent developments.

(5) ROUNDUP. At Multiversity Comics Christopher Chiu-Tabet has assembled “A Timeline of Recent Allegations in the Comic Book Industry”.

Since June 15, 2020, when artist/writer Cameron Stewart was widely accused of abusing his clout to prey on aspiring teenage comic book creators, the industry has continued to be rocked by allegations of other prominent figures sexually harassing, assaulting, or coercing their colleagues. Other creators have also begun to speak out about general sexism in the industry.

This list of recent allegations will continue to be updated….

(6) KEENE’S COMMENTS. In last night’s episode of The Horror Show With Brian Keene, he said the show’s team was aware of 10 cases of allegations involving everything from sexual coercion to sexual assault that have been made “against ten different individuals in the comic book, horror, science fiction, book-selling, convention organizer, and cosplay sectors of our industry — all of which had publicly come to light in the last 7 days.”

When Keene followed up the podcast today with a public Patreon post, “Behind Closed Doors”, he said the number is up to 17.

…When we started out, we were lifted up by those who came before us. Now, we spend a good part of each day lifting up those who are following our trail. But while we may be able to speak with some authority on the quality of that person’s writing or art or directorial abilities, and while we may speak to them via email or phone or social media — at the end of the day, we don’t always know what’s going on behind closed doors.

…Ignorance is not an excuse. But I do believe that we as creators, in the process of lifting up others and celebrating others, must always remember that we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. And if those doors are opened and we see what goes on, and it is harmful to individuals or to our greater community, then we have a duty to speak out about it and our association with that person going forward, as I did with Chandler.

I believe we can separate the art from the artist. I also believe we can separate the artist from their associations. I believe that once their associations come to light, we should take a moment — just a moment — and look at it with some nuance. If the artist was associated with something like Stormfront, and was secretly posting hate-screeds, okay, yeah, fuck that person right in the ear. But there’s a big difference between that and Tweeting, “Hey, check out this other author’s book.”

We as creators have a responsibility when it comes to our platforms and our reach. If we’ve lifted up an artist who is later alleged to have done something harmful to individuals in our community, or to the community itself, I think it is our absolute duty to speak on that candidly and honestly and urgently. And that can be difficult. I think the most heartbreaking thing about Kelly Sue DeConnick’s two videos regarding the Warren Ellis allegations is not what she says — but what she doesn’t say. The hurt and bewilderment that is there in her expression. The pain left unvoiced. I can only imagine how hard it was for her to speak out like that, but she was right to do so. To not address it, after years of Ellis lifting her up to his audience and she (in all fairness) lifting him up to her audience, would have been a disservice to the larger community.

In my opinion, she did the right thing….

(7) MWA ACTION. The Mystery Writers of America have issued a statement about the suspension of an unnamed member: “A Message from the MWA National Board of Directors”.

Due to allegations made against one of our members, on Wednesday evening, June 24, 2020, the Board of Directors of Mystery Writers of America (MWA) voted to suspend the membership of the accused member, pending the outcome of our investigation. Mystery Writers of America takes the safety of our members at industry events, whether sponsored by MWA or not, very seriously and will continue to work towards a goal of making every event safe for everyone who attends. We are currently working with our legal advisors on developing a more comprehensive code of conduct, which will be completed and made public shortly.

(8) INTERNATIONAL THRILLER WRITERS BOARD EXODUS. Hillel Italie, in an Associated Press story entitled “Board members resign from thriller writers association after harassment, racial criticisms” says that eight of the 10 board members of the International Thriller Writers Association resigned amid criticisms of the organization’s response to Black Lives Matter and some sexual harassment charges. (The resigning board members statement is on Facebook here.)

 Eight of 10 board members and the executive director have resigned from International Thriller Writers, a professional association which has faced widespread criticism for its responses to the Black Lives Matters protests and an author’s allegations she was harassed during a writers conference. 

Criticism of the ITW emerged last week when novelist Laurie Chandlar announced on Twitter that she had stepped down from her position as Debut Author Chair. 

“I and another female author brought serious concerns to the ITW board regarding a male author’s behavior at an industry event. They were summarily and callously dismissed,” Chandlar wrote. “For years I’ve heard of women being harassed, groped, and cornered at industry events. And even with serious complaints involving a police report, it seems some leaders have preferred over the years to just sweep it all under the rug.”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born June 26, 1905 – Lynd Ward.  His striking Gods’ Man, a novel in woodcuts, has no words; an artist sells his soul for a magic paintbrush, which seemed a good idea, but ha ha; there’s a Dover edition; the title alludes to Plautus’ Bacchides Act IV sc. 2, “Whom the gods favor, dies young”.  LW did a fine illustrated edition of Frankenstein; won the Caldecott Medal; with wife May McNeer, other notable work, e.g. Prince Bantam about Yoshitsune and Benkei who although historical people are also the stuff of legend.  Here is another LW image.  (Died 1985) [JH]
  • Born June 26, 1910 – Elsie Wollheim.  One of the original Futurians.  Wife and then widow of Donald A. Wollheim, co-founded DAW Books with him and succeeded him at his death.  Guest of Honor at WisCon 5, Lunacon 26, DeepSouthCon 33, L.A.con III the 54th Worldcon (some use Roman numerals, some don’t) chaired by Our Gracious Host.  (Died 1996) [JH]
  • Born June 26, 1929 – Milton Glaser, 91.  Graphic designer.  Made the logograph for DC Comics; also I [heart] NY which, since I’ve lived there, I invite you to consider as possible fantasy, but I loved it, anyway.  Two dozen covers for us.  Here is A Canticle for Leibowitz.  Here is The Man Who Called Himself Poe.  Here is a Bob Dylan poster.  [JH]
  • Born June 26, 1929 – Wally Weber, 91.  Of Seattle and Huntsville.  Co-edited Cry of the Nameless when it won the Hugo for Best Fanzine; chaired the 19th Worldcon; TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate.  [JH]
  • Born June 26, 1936 – Nancy Willard, Ph.D.  Wrote Things Invisible to See, four more; four shorter stories; poetry; two or three score other things of which we might claim many; Pish, Posh, said Hieronymous Bosch and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice illustrated by the Dillons; Newbery Medal for A Visit to William Blake’s Inn.  (Died 2017) [JH]
  • Born June 26, 1987 – Zoraida Córdova, 33.  Eight novels, of which one is Star Wars and so is a shorter story (in From a Certain Point of View).  Having been reared in Queens she naturally writes about Brooklyn Brujas.  Co-hosts a podcast Deadline City.  [JH]

(10) MUPPETS NOW. The forthcoming Disney+ Muppets show starts July 31.

(11) WHAT’S THAT SMELL? Yes, today seems like the right day to discover this is happening.  “Grateful Dead Launches Deodorant Brand”. From NPR:

So the Grateful Dead are launching a deodorant brand, which is not particularly on-brand. It’s true – when you think of the Dead, you don’t right away think fresh scent. But the line is handmade, small-batch and vegan. The fragrances have names like skull and roses and sunshine, overtones of lavender and rose and blood orange and bergamot, respectively. All this meaning your armpits can now glow with the gold of sunshine.

Umm, doubtful.

(12) LOOK OUT FOR THAT JUGGERNAUT! Smithsonian Magazine tells readers how “You Can Help Teach the Curiosity Rover to Drive on Mars”.

You could help the Curiosity rover navigate Mars by flipping through photos of the red planet’s rocky landscape and labeling what you see.

NASA is asking volunteers to help sort through and label thousands of photographs taken by the rover. The labels, gathered through the AI4MARS program, will help the rover pick a path to reach its next scientific target. The labels will contribute to a machine learning project to help the rover’s path planners pick smooth routes, after years of sharp terrain wore down the rover’s treads, Elizabeth Howell reports for Space.

… Curiosity landed on the Red Planet in 2012. In theory, choosing clear, smooth paths could help extend Curiosity’s useful time on Mars. But by 2017, there was damage on the rover’s zigzagged treads, threatening their ability to carry its four-ton mass. That’s after only driving about 14 miles throughout its mission so far. According to a statement, it can take four to five hours for a team of rover planners to figure out where Curiosity should drive and how it should get there.

(13) HOLMES ON THE RANGE. The Verge’s Adi Robertson clearly has an opinion: “Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate sues Netflix for giving Sherlock Holmes too many feelings”.

The estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has sued Netflix over its upcoming film Enola Holmes, arguing that the movie’s depiction of public domain character Sherlock Holmes having emotions and respecting women violates Doyle’s copyright.

Enola Holmes is based on a series of novels by Nancy Springer starring a newly created teenage sister of the famous detective. They feature many elements from Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, and most of these elements aren’t covered by copyright, thanks to a series of court rulings in the early 2010s. Details from 10 stories, however, are still owned by Doyle’s estate. The estate argues that Springer’s books — and by extension Netflix’s adaptation — draw key elements from those stories. It’s suing not only Netflix, but Springer, her publisher Penguin Random House, and the film’s production company for unspecified financial damages.

(14) MARKET REPORT. Publishers Weekly has put out a call for “Feature: SF, Fantasy & Horror”

Issue: Sept. 7
Deadline: July 15

We’re interested in works of genre fiction (adult and YA crossover only) whose themes include race, gender, and building an equitable society; illness, pandemics, and the post-apocalypse; superheroes and supervillains outside of comics and graphic novels; and witchy dark fantasy. Pitches on other SFF trends are welcome, as is information on series openers/finales. New titles only, please; no reprints. Pub dates: Sept. 2020–Feb. 2021. 

Please send pitches to <features@publishersweekly.com> by July 15 and put “Call for Info: SFF” in the subject line.

(15) FACEBOOK. BBC reports “Facebook to tag ‘harmful’ posts as boycott widens”

Facebook has said it will start to label potentially harmful posts that it leaves up because of their news value.

The more hands-on approach comes as the social media firm is under pressure to improve how it moderates the content on its platform, including posts by US President Donald Trump.

More than 90 advertisers have joined a boycott of the site.

Consumer goods giant Unilever on Friday added its name to the list, citing a “polarized election period” in the US.

The maker of Dove soap and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream said it would halt Twitter, Facebook and Instagram advertising in the US “at least” through 2020.

“Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society,” it said. “We will revisit our current position if necessary.”

(16) SPLASH MOUNTAIN MAKEOVER. “Disney Parks’ Splash Mountain Ride to Remove ‘Song of the South’ References”Variety has the story.

… The Walt Disney Co. on Thursday announced that its classic ride Splash Mountain would be “completely reimagined,” amid scrutiny over the ride’s roots in the racist 1946 film “Song of the South.”

The ride will be redesigned to draw from the 2009 film “The Princess and the Frog,” the first Disney animated movie to feature a Black princess. According to Disney, the redesign has been in the works for over a year, though no concrete timeline for its construction and relaunch has been announced. The new ride’s storyline will pick up after Princess Tiana and Louis’ final kiss in the film, and feature music from the movie as the pair prepare for a Mardi Gras performance….

(17) WINDING UP PRODUCTION. The Hollywood Reporter says “A.I. Robot Cast in Lead Role of $70M Sci-Fi Film”.

As the industry grapples with how to reopen for production safely, one movie is proceeding with a lead actress who is immune to COVID-19 — because she’s a robot named Erica.

Bondit Capital Media, which financed titles such as To the Bone and the Oscar nominated Loving Vincent, Belgium-based Happy Moon Productions and New York’s Ten Ten Global Media have committed to back b, a $70 million science fiction film which producers say will be the first to rely on an artificially intelligent actor.

Based on a story by visual effects supervisor Eric Pham, Tarek Zohdy, and Sam Khoze, who also produces through Life Entertainment, b follows a scientist who discovers dangers associated with a program he created to perfect human DNA and helps the artificially intelligent woman he designed (Erica) escape.

Japanese scientists Hiroshi Ishiguro and Kohei Ogawa, who created Erica in real life as part of their study of robotics, also taught her to act, applying the principles of method acting to artificial intelligence, according to Khoze….

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Howard The Duck Pitch Meeting” on YouTube, Ryan George explains why Howard The Duck made no sense.

[Thanks to John Hertz, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Dan B., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall.]

Pixel Scroll 6/1/20 Do Pixels File Of Electric Scrolls

(1) LOOTERS HIT MORE SFF BUSINESSES. Bleeding Cool has a roundup about genre businesses struck by vandals: “8 Comic Stores Hit By Looting Across the USA”. They include:

  • Los Angeles County: Golden Apple Comics, Hi De Hi Comics, JapanLA,  
  • San Diego County: Crazy Fred’s Cards And Comics (local NBC news report here.)
  • Chicago: Graham Crackers, Challengers Comics + Conversation
  • Berwyn, IL: Top Cut Comics
  • Minneapolis: DreamHaven Books and Comics (Publishers Weekly has an overview of all the local bookshops that were hit, including notes on Uncle Hugo’s and DreamHaven: “Minneapolis Bookstores Deal With Fire, Vandalism During Chaotic Weekend”.)

Alt-right blog Bounding Into Comics had details about yet another store:

  • Grand Rapids, MI: Vault of Midnight

(2) DREAMHAVEN UPDATE. Katya Reimann helped out at DreamHaven and learned more details about the vandals who hit that shop.

…”Luckily” for Dreamhaven (which stocks fantasy and science fiction books, comics, and collectibles), the four white teenagers who broke in were incompetent non-professionals. They trashed things, tipped shelves, smashed the glass display cases, and tried to burn the building down. Fortunately, the book used to try to light the fire failed to properly catch.

Neighbors saw the foursome running from the building carrying armloads of stuff (including a replica Captain America shield which they abandoned in the street) before hopping into an old gray beater car and driving off.

(3) UNCLE HUGO’S UPDATE. A post on the bookstore’s website emphasized: “Don Has Not Authorized Any Fundraising”.

Elizabeth here. I spoke with Don this afternoon regarding this topic and am conveying his views here. He has spoken with several people about crowdfunding, and asked them NOT to implement anything on his behalf. One person refused to comply with Don’s request, and Don is following up to have that effort stopped.

There are a lot of complex issues involved in any possible rebuilding of the store, including insurance, city ordinances, and business requirements for newly constructed buildings (as opposed to existing structures). Until Don has definite information about all these things, he will not be making any decisions regarding rebuilding.

At that point, if he decides to crowdfund, he will do it in under his own name, and you will know about it because the information will be posted here on the store website, and as an official store Facebook post. In the meantime, anyone else purporting to be fundraising for the store is doing it without Don’s consent, and against his expressed wishes.

Don is making some interim plans for operating a limited mail-order business, and we’ll keep you informed as things develop. He does appreciate everyone’s support and enthusiasm.

Also, store dog Echo is doing fine, I petted her this afternoon and fed her a small snack (as is my custom).

Elsewhere The Federalist, a site that in the past I’ve looked at only when Jon Del Arroz appeared there, ran a piece by Tony Daniel, “Minneapolis Rioters Burned One Of America’s Most Beloved Independent Bookstores To The Ground”, with his own idiosyncratic ideas why Don Blyly qualifies for sympathy:

…Uncle Hugo’s was known in the often politically contentious science fiction community as a place where good books and good storytelling was prized above all else. Blyly took a decidedly nonpartisan stance when it came to what he sold. The physical store supplied a wide mailing list as well, with often hard to find first and special editions of books.

(4) AGENT OF CHAOS. Publishers Weekly reports: “Three Agents Resign After Red Sofa Literary Owner’s Tweet”.

The civil unrest in the Twin Cities continues to take its toll on Minnesota’s literary community—sometimes in unexpected ways. Thursday evening, the night before protesters set fire to two adjoining Minneapolis indie bookstores and destroying them both, the reaction to a St. Paul–based literary agent’s tweet ended up gutting the boutique agency she owns.

Three agents affiliated with Red Sofa Literary tweeted this past weekend that they have resigned in response to owner Dawn Frederick’s tweet, leaving one subsidiary rights executive besides Frederick still employed there. Frederick’s official Red Sofa account on Twitter has been removed.

In the tweet that set off the resignations, Frederick wrote that the gas station on her block, in the city’s Groveland/ Macalester neighborhood across the Mississippi River from Minneapolis, was “officially getting looted.” She added that she was calling the police, “as someone will need to board up this place.” Almost immediately, several followers responded, asking Frederick not to call police on anyone in the midst of widespread civil disobedience in the Twin Cities. (There is a growing concern among area residents and other observers that the police, armed with rubber bullets and tear gas canisters, are targeting people of color protesting George Floyd’s murder at the hands of a police officer.) One follower, author Mandy Ryan Sandford, tweeted, “Please do not call the cops right now. Imagine if you were black right now.” Although the exchange between the two was later removed, others captured screenshots that still remain on Twitter….

The news prompted Foz Meadows to share her own experience with the agency and Dawn Frederick: “Red Sofa”.

…This is a small matter in comparison to the ongoing protests over the extrajudicial murder of George Floyd and the egregious police brutality with which those protests have been met, but it is still, to me, an important matter, as how the SFF community responds to racism and bigotry in other contexts will always relate to how it deals with internal gatekeeping. After what’s happened, I don’t feel that I can in good conscience continue to remain silent.

Last week, Dawn Frederick of Red Sofa Literary, who lives in Minneapolis, tweeted that she had called the police about “looters” at the gas station near her house in the wake of protests about the death of George Floyd. When other people pointed out that calling the police could potentially result in more violence towards Black people in particular – the Minneapolis protests were peaceful until police turned water cannons and rubber bullets on the crowd, precipitating the riots through a series of violent escalations – Fredrick doubled down in defense of her actions. When one of her agents, Kelly Van Sant, announced her resignation from the agency over the matter, Frederick posted a statement to the Red Sofa Literary website, insisting that there were “zero protesters” present at the gas station, just “straight up looters.” (How she could be certain there was no overlap between the two while watching from a distance is, presumably, unknown.)

Since then, two more Red Sofa agents, Amanda Rutter and Stacey Graham, have likewise resigned from Red Sofa in protest, while several of Frederick’s clients have dropped her. It was only after this that Frederick published a second statement, apologising for her actions; she has also deleted her twitter account. As as a result, I have seen many members of the SFF community debating whether or not the reaction Frederick received was proportional to her offence, with some asserting her credentials as a long-standing advocate for diversity in the SFF community as a reason why she has been treated unfairly.

It is for this reason that I have decided to speak publicly about my own past experiences with Dawn Frederick….

An extended narrative follows.

(5) THE GUARDIAN REMEMBERS TOTAL RECALL WHOLESALE. [Item by Olav Rokne,] Guardian film critic Scott Tobias (@scott_tobias) tackles the 30th anniversary of the Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi actioner Total Recall. Writing in the Guardian, Tobias explores the themes of totalitarian governments, propaganda, and colonization. In doing so, he makes a decent case to reconsider Total Recall’s canonical standing as the middle chapter of director Paul Verhoeven’s science fiction trilogy.  “Total Recall at 30: a thrilling reminder of Paul Verhoeven at his best”.  

“Verhoeven pushed the politics of RoboCop and Starship Troopers more to the foreground than he does in Total Recall, but he shows again how propaganda networks brand the resistance as “terrorists” and describe their indiscriminate slaughter as “[restoring] order with minimal use of force”. Total Recall suggests that colonization is an opportunity to terraform a reality that’s entirely managed by the terraformers, without a scrap of land that regular people can call their own.”

(6) LOST, BUT NOT IN SPACE. Emily Carney’s piece on autobiographies of failed or angry ex-astronauts is worth noting: “The genre-defining astronaut/ex-astronaut autobiographies” in The Space Review.

Books still matter. Throughout the last sixty-plus years of spaceflight, literature chronicling spaceflight history and heritage, which runs the gamut from detailing hardware and rocketry to describing the features of the Moon and various solar system objects, have dazzled and awed readers, often introducing audiences to the subject. However, frequently the books that draw the most interest from readers are about the people: the astronauts, the flight controllers, and the workers. First-person accounts of a particular period can function as a “time machine,” pulling the reader closer into a project’s or program’s orbit (pardon the pun.)

The Making of an Ex-Astronaut, by Brian O’Leary (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1970)

Published 50 years ago, this choice might be somewhat controversial. Dr. Brian O’Leary, perhaps NASA’s most famous (or infamous?) ex-astronaut, doomed himself to a permanent exile from the fighter jock-heavy astronaut corps with the sentence, “Flying just isn’t my cup of tea.” But O’Leary’s 1970 sort-of-memoir mixed with op-ed essays, The Making of an Ex-Astronaut, was the first autobiographical work that began to lift the veil obscuring the astronaut corps during 1960s NASA. (Another work that would fully lift the veil will be discussed later.) Moreover, it set the scene. You can envision a bespectacled O’Leary, age 27, walking around Houston’s Manned Spacecraft Center, looking bewildered, out-of-place, and anxious as he realizes he got himself waaaaaaaay in over his head with a job he can’t quite fulfill. Many of us have been exactly where O’Leary was at the time—except unlike us, his resignation would be broadcast all over the world.

(7) A SIGNPOST OF QUALITY. The Hugo Book Club Blog considers the long-term impact of “The Astounding Award”.  

…Reviewing the list of Astounding Award finalists and winners makes it clear that part of the joy and value of this award is that it can help new generations of readers find works by creators whose careers never soared to Scalzian heights, or whose years of writing were few in number.

…The fact that Melko, Roessner and Carter do not seem to be publishing new books or stories anymore does not diminish in any way the depth of their talent, or the worthiness of their existing works. But it would, unfortunately, have made it significantly less likely that they will find new readers if awards like the Astounding didn’t exist.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • June 1, 1984 Star Trek III: The Search for Spock premiered. It was written and produced by Harve Bennett,  and directed by Leonard Nimoy.  It starred William Shatner, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan. George Takei, Walter Koeni, Nichelle Nichols, Merritt Butrick and Christopher Lloyd. Critics generally loved it and thought Nimoy caught the feel of the series; audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 61% rating. It would finish third at Aussiecon Two behind 2010: A Space Odyssey which won the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo and Ghostbusters which came in second.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born June 1, 1858 – Frank Ver Beck.  Wood engravings; illustrations for Collier’sThe Ladies’ Home JournalScribner’s; superlatively, animals, sometimes in a style eventually called anthropomorphic.  Twenty books, e.g. A Handbook of Golf for Bears, and in particular Baum’s Magical Monarch of Mo.  (Died 1933) [JH]
  • Born June 1, 1914 George Sayer. His Jack: C. S. Lewis and His Times which won a Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Inkling Studies is considered one of the best looks at that author. He also wrote the liner notes for the J. R. R. Tolkien Soundbook, a Cadmeon release of Christopher Tolkien reading from excerpts from The SilmarillionThe Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings. (Died 2005.) (CE)
  • Born June 1, 1928 Janet Grahame Johnston and Anne Grahame Johnstone. British twin sisters who were children’s book illustrators best remembered for their prolific artwork and for illustrating Dodie Smith’s The Hundred and One Dalmatians. They were always more popular with the public than they were critics who consider them twee. (Janet died 1979, Anne died 1998.) (CE)
  • Born June 1, 1940 René Auberjonois. Odo on DS9. He’s shown up on a number of genre productions including Wonder WomanThe Outer LimitsNight GalleryThe Bionic WomanBatman Forever, King Kong, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered CountryEnterpriseStargate SG-1 andWarehouse 13He’s lent both his voice and likeness to gaming productions in recent years, and has done voice work for the animated Green Lantern and Justice League series. (Died 2019.) (CE) 
  • Born June 1, 1947 Jonathan Pryce, 73. I remember him best as the unnamed bureaucrat in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. He’s had a long career in genre works including Brazil, Something Wicked This Way Comes as Mr. Dark himself, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End as Governor Weatherby Swann, The Brothers Grimm, in the G.I. Joe films as the U.S. President and most recently in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote as Don Quixote. (CE) 
  • Born June 1, 1947 – Adrienne Fein.  One of 3 Founding Mothers of CMUSFS (Carnegie Mellon Univ. SF Society).  Introduced Arthur Hlavaty to apas (apa = amateur press ass’n, originally a way of distributing zines, eventually a kind of fan activity in itself).  Known as a loccer (loc or LoC = letter of comment, the blood of fanzines) but no slouch as a fanartist, e.g. this cover for Granfalloon 1 and interiors there, this one for It Comes in the Mail 18, interiors for Riverside Quarterly.  (Died 1990) [JH] [Corrected 6/2/20 as noted in comments by Arthur Hlavaty and John Hertz.]
  • Born June 1, 1947 – Chris Moore.  Four hundred sixty covers, eighty interiors.  Collection, Journeyman.  Here’s a cover for The Stars My Destination; one for The City and the Stars; one for Hexarchate Stories.  Here’s his story.  [JH]
  • Born June 1, 1948 – Mike Meara.  Nova Award for Best Fanwriter.  Administered the FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Awards at Corflu XXXII (fanziners’ con; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, once indispensable).  Fanzine, A Meara for Observers.  [JH]
  • Born June 1, 1950 — Michael McDowell. His best-remembered works are the screenplays for the Tim Burton‘s Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas. He also wrote scripts for Tales from The DarksideAlfred Hitchcock PresentsAmazing StoriesTales from the Crypt and Monsters. He’s an accomplished horror writer as well but I’ve not read any of his work. (Died 1999.) (CE) 
  • Born June 1, 1958 – Ian Gunn.  Seven dozen interiors in Banana WingsFocus, and like that; in Program Books for the 51st Worldcon (ConFrancisco), 52nd (ConAdian), 57th (Aussiecon III); logo for The Frozen Frog; 10 Ditmars (one won by a story!), 2 FAAn Awards, 1 Hugo at last.  (Died 1998) [JH]
  • Born June 1, 1965 Tim Eldred, 55. Author and illustrator of Grease Monkey, a most excellent humorous take on space operas and uplifting species.  As an illustrator alone, he was involved in Daniel Quinn’s superb The Man Who Grew Young. (CE)
  • Born June 1, 1973 – C.E. Murphy.  Two dozen novels, in particular The Walker Papers; two dozen shorter stories; one graphic novel.  Born in Alaska, she moved to Ireland her ancestral homeland.  Essay on Anne McCaffrey for the 77th Worldcon last year.  Her Website is here.  [JH]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) MORE TO READ. Publisher Joe Stech has released Compelling Science Fiction Issue 15, a magazine that specializes in “stories that are self-consistent, scientifically plausible, and technically detailed when necessary.”

dav

Here are the five new stories that you can enjoy right now:

We start with Steve Rodgers’ “Housefly Tours”. Four hundred years in the future, a very special adventure tour takes tourists to spy on the only other sentient race ever discovered. But human mistakes and frailty may just ruin everything (9461 words). Our second story is “The Stillness of the Stars” by Jessica McAdams. A young woman escapes the lower-class decks of a generation ship only to find that those on the affluent upper decks have been lying about the journey on which they’ve all embarked (5627 words). The third story this issue, Dominic Teague’s “Portrait of a Rogue,” is a story about an investigative journalist who interviews a wealthy savant concerning his family’s shady history of scientific and artistic innovations (2000 words). Next we have “Two Moons” by Elena Pavlova. This one is a story about a young girl who must survive a coming-of-age trial outside the giant extra-terrestrial organism in which she lives (6500 words). The final story is “Drought and Blood” by Spencer Koelle. Amelia Okella’s life work is threatened by public suspicion when a man is found exsanguinated in a field of her bio-engineered drought-prevention plants (5900 words).

(12) ON BOARD THE ISS. “Astronauts on historic mission enter space station” — includes video.

US astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken have docked with, and entered, the International Space Station (ISS).

Their Dragon capsule – supplied and operated by the private SpaceX company – attached to the bow section of the orbiting lab 422km above China.

After a wait for leak, pressure and temperature checks, the pair disembarked to join the Russian and American crew already on the ISS.

More: “SpaceX Nasa Mission: Astronaut capsule docks with ISS”

US astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken have docked with the International Space Station (ISS), after a 19-hour journey.

The men will have to wait for leak and pressure checks to be completed before they can safely disembark and join the Russian and American crew already on the ISS.

(13) HISTORIC CARTOON CHARACTER AT CENTER OF RIGHTS DISPUTE. In the Washington Post, Robyn Dixon details the efforts of Russian animation company Soyuzmultfilm to reclaim the rights of cartoon character Cheburaska, which were sold to a Japanese firm in a 2005 dea the Russian company believes it cancelled in 2015 in a letter the Japanese say they never received.  Dixon interviews Maya Balakirsky Katz, an art historian at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, who explains how Cheburaska and other Soviet animated films of the 1960s and 1970s were innovative because many of the animators were Jews who used the films as an outlet to comment on Soviet anti-Semitism. “Cheburashka was the beloved misfit of Soviet animation. It’s now a missing treasure for Russia.”

… The Soyuzmultfilm archives — and especially Cheburashka — offer a study in creative criticism of aspects of Soviet life.

Soviet censors tried to stifle the Cheburashka animations, which poked fun at nitpicking bureaucrats, polluting factory directors, nasty train conductors and the orthodoxy of the Soviet children’s movement, the Pioneers.

Still, the character Cheburashka only sees the best in people and is chirpy even in the gloomiest situation. 

(14) OLD WINE IN NEW CASKS. BBC wonders “Could Poe teach Trump about wall building?”

If you think that the sort of things that millennials make trend on social media are entirely predictable, then you may need to think again.

A curious phenomenon has emerged on the micro-blogging site Tumblr. It’s perhaps been best summed up by one user called brinnanza: “Oh, giant company, you want your advertisement to go viral? Well this week the kids are obsessed with a short story written in 1846.”

The short story in question is Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado”, and unlikely as it may sound it’s inspired a series memes that thread together images and quotes from this macabre tale with more modern concerns.

…So what is it about this 170-year-old unhappy ending that resonates with today’s Tumblr users (who according to the Pew Research Center are mostly 18-29 year olds)?

…”The Cask of Amontillado is the new meme in reaction to the clown epidemic,” wrote Tumblr user memeufacturing. “We all became aware of the clown epidemic a week or two ago and now the new meme is luring and subsequently cementing a clown into your ancient cellar …”.

We should say that memeufacturing message is tongue-in-cheek (we hope)…

And that was just the start of the memestorm as Poe’s creepy classic was given all sorts of popular culture twists.

(15) SOURCING THE VIRUS. “U.S. and Chinese Scientists Trace Evolution of Coronaviruses in Bats” in a New York Times report.

Researchers whose canceled U.S. grant caused an outcry from other scientists urge preventive monitoring of viruses in southwestern China.

An international team of scientists, including a prominent researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, has analyzed all known coronaviruses in Chinese bats and used genetic analysis to trace the likely origin of the novel coronavirus to horseshoe bats.

In their report, posted online Sunday, they also point to the great variety of these viruses in southern and southwestern China and urge closer monitoring of bat viruses in the area and greater efforts to change human behavior as ways of decreasing the chances of future pandemics.

The research was supported by a U.S. grant to EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based nonprofit, that was recently canceled by the National Institutes of Health. The grant, for more than $3 million, was well on its way to renewal, and the sudden reversal prompted an outcry in the scientific community.

Thirty-one U.S. scientific societies signed a letter of protest on May 20 to the N.I.H., and 77 Nobel laureates sent another letter to the N.I.H. and the Department of Health and Human Services seeking an investigation of the grant denial. The Nobelists said the cancellation appeared to be based on politics rather than a consideration of scientific merit.

…The researchers, mostly Chinese and American, conducted an exhaustive search for and analysis of coronaviruses in bats, with an eye to identifying hot spots for potential spillovers of these viruses into humans, and resulting disease outbreaks.

The genetic evidence that the virus originated in bats was already overwhelming. Horseshoe bats, in particular, were considered likely hosts because other spillover diseases, like the SARS outbreak in 2003, came from viruses that originated in these bats, members of the genus Rhinolophus.

None of the bat viruses are close enough to the novel coronavirus to suggest that it jumped from bats to humans. The immediate progenitor of the new virus has not been found, and may have been present in bats or another animal. Pangolins were initially suspected, although more recent analysis of pangolin coronaviruses suggests that although they probably have played a part in the new virus’s evolution, there is no evidence that they were the immediate source.

[Thanks to Bill, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Olav Rokne, John King Tarpinian, JJ, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Dale Nelson, Rose Embolism, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]

Pixel Scroll 1/16/20 Maybe My Flubber Car Only Needed One Coat Of Anti-Gravity Paint After I Redid The Suspension Using Cavorite

I think the title is going to be longer than today’s Scroll. It’s been a busy day!

(1) YOUR EYEBALLS HAVE BEEN SPARED. Foz Meadows saw it so you don’t have to — “Tom Hooper’s Cats: A Study In Vogon Poetry”.

I’m not putting a spoiler tag on this. It’s fucking Cats. Get a grip.

I saw Cats today. Voluntarily. On purpose. It’s important you know that I wasn’t coerced in any way, nor was the friend who accompanied me. Of our own free will, being of sound mind and body, we exchanged real human money for the experience of seeing Tom Hooper’s Cats on the big screen, in the company of other real human strangers. Not that our session was packed – aside from the two of us, there were only five other people in attendance, all older to middle-aged women – but the two ladies sitting near us not only cried during Jennifer Hudson’s bifurcated rendition of Memory (more of which shortly), but applauded during the credits. Their happy reactions, audible in the theatre’s yawning silence, added a further layer of unreality to what was already a surreal and vaguely disturbing experience, but once we emerged in the aftermath, stunned and blinking like newborn animals, their enjoyment helped us cobble together a theory about who, exactly, Cats is for – if such a film can truly be said to be for anyone….

(2) CHATTERJEE Q&A. Joseph Hurtgen recently interviewed Indian sff author Rimi Chatterjee for Rapid Transmission. Born in Belfast, United Kingdom and now teaching and writing in India, “Chatterjee offers economic and cultural perspectives that Westerners need to hear,” says Hurtgen. “The wonder of science fiction is that science and human conflict are universal languages. By embracing non-Western culture and non-Western SF, we discover more about ourselves.” “Rimi Chatterjee: Love and Knowledge and Yellow Karma”.

RT: I read recently that William Gibson will look at the news, realize the book he’s working on is already outdated, and then revise accordingly. One particularly arresting intervention was the destruction of the World Trade centers, which he decided to include in his book Pattern Recognition–published 2003, though he was writing it in 2001. Does the pace of our 24-hour news cycle with its grim depiction of a world headed to WWIII and continent wide fires ever cause you to revise your stories?

RC: Mostly it’s the other way round: the universe treads on my heels. For instance a lot of the story of Bitch Wars is set in Malaysia in a fictional place called KL City (which has a slum called Climate Town where climate refugees or Climies live). So I was researching the 1MDB scandal for background, and the next day I open YouTube and Hasan Minhaj has done an episode of Patriot Act on Jho Low, Goldman Sachs and the whole sorry mess. I’m like: dude o_O.

(3) PEACOCK STREAMING. “All Your Favorite Stars Are Coming to NBC’s Streaming Service Soon”GQ fills you in. We’ll excerpt the part that’s genre —

…The other series that’s based on an established IP also has a very loyal, even more niche audience is The Adventure Zone. Based on a podcast of the same name from the McElroy Brothers, who also host the comedy podcast My Brother, My Brother, and Me, The Adventure Zone is a comedy fantasy adventure using the rules of Dungeons & Dragons. There is already a comic book adaptation of the series.

The Adventure Zone is a side-splitting and heart-filled fantasy animated comedy series that follows an unlikely, poorly equipped trio and their beleaguered Dungeon Master as they reluctantly embark on a quest to save their world,” reads the official synopsis.

(4) BETTER THAN A BOOK BOMB. In the Hindustan Times: “Bookstore fails to sell books, Neil Gaiman seeks Twitter’s help. This is how they oblige”.  

Two days back, on January 15, Petersfield Bookshop took to Twitter to share an image and a sad incident. “Not a single book sold today… £0.00… We think this maybe the first time ever,” the store wrote. “We know its miserable out but if you’d like to help us out please find our Abebooks offering below, all at 25% off at the moment,” they added. Along with the post, they also shared pictures of the empty bookstore.

The bookstore’s tweet captured people’s attention when fantasy and science fiction author Neil Gaiman retweeted it. In the caption, he urged Twitter to come together and do something good. “In these dark days it’s wonderful to see Twitter doing something good!” wrote Gaiman.

People answered the call and orders came flooding in from different corners of the world. In fact, the store ended up receiving £1,000 worth of orders overnight with many waiting to purchase more. The store also shared a tweet to give an update on the situation.

(5) FAST START. BBC welcomes us to “Meet the NASA intern who discovered a new planet on his third day”. And not just a planet, but one orbiting two stars, as in Star Wars.

As far as impressing your potential new boss goes, discovering a planet on day three of your internship at NASA is up there.

That’s what happened to 17-year-old Wolf Cukier while helping out at the space agency in the United States.

He was checking images from its super-strength satellite when he noticed something strange.

It turned out to be a new planet, 1,300 light years away from Earth. News just confirmed by NASA.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • January 16, 1963 Walt Disney’s Son Of Flubber premiered. Yes, it’s SF. Comedy SF we grant you but SF none-the-less. Sequel to the Disney science fiction comedy film The Absent-Minded Professor, it starred  Fred MacMurray of My Three Sons fame. It was directed by Robert Stevenson. A colorized version would be released in 1997.  It was a box office success earning back three times what it cost to produce, but critics didn’t like nearly as much as they liked The Absent-Minded Professor. Reviewers currently at Rotten Tomatoes give it a 86% rating. 
  • January 16, 1995  — Star Trek: Voyager premiered on UPN.  It would last for seven years and one hundred and seventy-two episodes, making it the longest running Trek series to date. Starring a very large cast that all of all you know by heart by now. It’s interesting that it would never make the final Hugo ballot for Best Dramatic Presentation, the only Trek show to date not to so. It rates very high at Rotten Tomatoes, garnering a mid-seventies rating from critics and viewers alike. 
  • January 16, 2015 — On Syfy, the Twelve Monkeys series debuted. It was by created by Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett, and it riffs loosely off Gilliam’s film and the original French short film Gilliam based his film on, La Jetée . We are not going to detail the cast as the four-season run lasting forty-seven episodes saw significant cast changes. Reception for the most part, excepting Gilliam, was positive. Ratings at Rotten Tomatoes are over 90% but we caution that less than a hundred individuals have expressed their opinion during its four-year run. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 16, 1887 John Hamilton. He’s no doubt remembered best for his role as Perry White in the Fifties Adventures of Superman series. He also was in the Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe serial as Professor Gordon, and I see he played G.F. Hillman in the Forties Captain America serial film. (Died 1958.)
  • Born January 16, 1905 Festus Pragnell. Ok, he’s here not because he had all that a distinguished a career as a writer or illustrator, but because of the charming story one fan left us of his encounter with him which you can read here. Festus himself wrote but three novels (The Green Man of Kilsona, The Green Man of Graypec, and The Terror from Timorkal), plus the wrote a series of stories about Don Hargreaves’ adventures on Mars. Be prepared to pay dearly if you want to read him as he’s not made it into the digital age and exists mostly in the original Amazing Stories only. (Died 1977.)
  • Born January 16, 1948 John Carpenter, 72. My favorite films by him? Big Trouble in Little China and Escape from New York.  His gems include the Halloween franchise, The Thing, Starman (simply wonderful),  The Philadelphia ExperimentGhosts of Mars and many other films. What do you consider him to have done that you like, or don’t like fir that matter? I’m not fond of Escape from L.A. as I keep comparing to the stellar popcorn film that the previous Escape film is.
  • Born January 16, 1970 Garth Ennis, 50. Comic writer who’s no doubt best known for Preacher which he did with illustrator Steve Dillon, and his stellar nine-year run on the Punisher franchise. I’m very fond of his work on Judge Dredd which is extensive, and his time spent scripting Etrigan the Demon For DC back in the mid Nineties. 
  • Born January 16, 1974 Kate Moss, 46. Yes she’s done SF. To be precise Black Adder which we discussed a bit earlier. She played Maid Marian in “Blackadder Back & Forth” in which as IMDB puts it “At a New Millennium Eve party, Blackadder and Baldrick test their new time machine and ping pong through history encountering famous characters and changing events rather alarmingly.” You can watch it here.
  • Born January 16, 1976 Eva Habermann,  44. She is best known for playing the role of Zev Bellringer on Lexx. She was succeeded in her role by Xenia Seeberg. Ok, I’ll confess that I’ve never seen the series which I know exists in both R and not so R versions. Who here has seen it in either form? She was also Ens. Johanna Pressler in Star Command, a pilot that wasn’t to be a series that was written by Melinda Snodgrass. And she had a role in the Code Name: Eternity series as Dr. Rosalind Steiner.

(8) SPECIAL SHROOMS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] At first glance, it does kinda sound like mushrooms were involved. A very special kind of mushrooms. 

Futurism: “NASA Wants to Grow a Moon Base Out of Mushrooms”

NASA scientists are exploring a peculiar strategy for building a Moon base and other off-world structures: growing them onsite out of living mushrooms.

The space agency first considered the possibility of fungal space habitats in 2018, but now scientists are conducting tests to determine how well mycelia fungus might grow in Martian soil, Space.com reports. If the research pans out, it would allow future astronauts to construct off-world settlements without needing to carry expensive, heavy building materials with them all the way from Earth — a game-changer in the plan to colonize space….

PS: Technically the structures would not be built out of living mushrooms… The shrooms would take nutrients from the Lunar (or Martian) soil, then the biomass would be heat treated to convert it into building material.

(9) THE THIGH BONE CONNECTS TO THE INTERNET BONE. Slate’s “Future Tense” features “The Ethical Dilemmas Surrounding 3D-Printed Human Bones”.

Ten years ago, it wasn’t possible for most people to use 3D technology to print authentic copies of human bones. Today, using a 3D printer and digital scans of actual bones, it is possible to create unlimited numbers of replica bones—each curve and break and tiny imperfection intact—relatively inexpensively. The technology is increasingly allowing researchers to build repositories of bone data, which they can use to improve medical procedures, map how humans have evolved, and even help show a courtroom how someone died.

But the proliferation of faux bones also poses an ethical dilemma—and one that, prior to the advent of accessible 3D printing, was mostly limited to museum collections containing skeletons of dubious provenance. Laws governing how real human remains of any kind may be obtained and used for research, after all—as well as whether individuals can buy and sell such remains— are already uneven worldwide. Add to that the new ability to traffic in digital data representing these remains, and the ethical minefield becomes infinitely more fraught. “When someone downloads these skulls and reconstructs them,” says Ericka L’Abbé, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, “it becomes their data, their property.”

(10) FUTURE HISTORY HAPPENS. James Davis Nicoll got Tor.com readers excited about “5 Thrilling Tales of Deadly Nuclear Reactors”. Or maybe it was him nuking Heinlein.

“Blowups Happen” is set in Robert A. Heinlein’s Future History. Rising demand for energy justifies the construction of a cutting-edge nuclear reactor. There is little leeway between normal operation and atomic explodageddon, which puts a lot of pressure on the power plant’s operators. A work environment that requires flawless performances—lest a moment’s inattention blow a state off the map—results in significant mental health challenges for the workforce. How to keep the workers focused on their task without breaking them in the process?

This story dates from what we might think of as the Folsom point era of nuclear energy… No, wait, that’s unfair to Folsom points, which are sophisticated hi-tech, really. This was the era when the atomic version of fire-hardened spear points was still on the drawing board. Hence Heinlein can be forgiven for getting essentially every detail about nuclear power wrong. What wasn’t clear to me was how a power plant composed of pure atomic explodium got licensed in the first place. Perhaps it was because this nonchalant attitude towards safety infuses the whole of the Future History. Just ask Rhysling.

(11) CLOSE DOWN. “Twitter apologises for letting ads target neo-Nazis and bigots”.

Twitter has apologised for allowing adverts to be micro-targeted at certain users such as neo-Nazis, homophobes and other hate groups.

The BBC discovered the issue and that prompted the tech firm to act.

Our investigation found it possible to target users who had shown an interest in keywords including “transphobic”, “white supremacists” and “anti-gay”.

Twitter allows ads to be directed at users who have posted about or searched for specific topics.

But the firm has now said it is sorry for failing to exclude discriminatory terms.

Anti-hate charities had raised concerns that the US tech company’s advertising platform could have been used to spread intolerance.

(12) WHO’S NOT BOND. “James Bond: Barbara Broccoli says character ‘will remain male'” – BBC is shaken but not stirred.

The producer of the James Bond films has ruled out making the character female after Daniel Craig’s departure.

No Time To Die, which will be released in April, marks Craig’s final outing as 007, and his replacement has not yet been announced.

“James Bond can be of any colour, but he is male,” producer Barbara Broccoli told Variety.

“I believe we should be creating new characters for women – strong female characters.

“I’m not particularly interested in taking a male character and having a woman play it. I think women are far more interesting than that.”

The forthcoming Bond film will see actress Lashana Lynch play a female 00 agent after Craig’s Bond has left active service.

Lynch was seen in character for the first time in the trailer, reigniting the conversation about whether James Bond himself could be re-cast as a woman for the next film.

Broccoli oversees the franchise with her half-brother Michael G Wilson. “For better or worse, we are the custodians of this character,” she said. “We take that responsibility seriously.”

(13) NOT SO PRIMITIVE. We keep finding we underestimated past versions of humans; now the BBC reports that “Neanderthals ‘dived in the ocean’ for shellfish”

New data suggests that our evolutionary cousins the Neanderthals may have been diving under the ocean for clams.

It adds to mounting evidence that the old picture of these anciClam shells that wash up on beaches can be distinguished from those that are still live when they’re gathered.ent people as brutish and unimaginative is wrong.

Until now, there had been little clear evidence that Neanderthals were swimmers.

But a team of researchers who analysed shells from a cave in Italy said that some must have been gathered from the seafloor by Neanderthals.

The findings have been published in the journal Plos One.

The Neanderthals living at Grotta dei Moscerini in the Latium region around 90,000 years ago were shaping the clam shells into sharp tools.

Paolo Villa, from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and colleagues, analysed 171 such tools, which all came from a local species of mollusc called the smooth clam (Callista chione). The tools were excavated by archaeologists at the end of the 1940s.

Clam shells that wash up on beaches can be distinguished from those that are still live when they’re gathered.

[Thanks to Contrarius, John King Tarpinian, Nina, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, N., and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 8/28/19 I’ve Scrolled Through The File On A Pixel With No Name

(1) CHECK YOURSELF. Cat Rambo’s social media advice. Thread starts here.

(2) HUGO MIA. Foz Meadows’ 2019 Best Fan Writer Hugo has suffered a misadventure in delivery.

(3) KEEPING HUGO. Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson, in “On Renaming Awards”, tries to preempt an anticipated effort to take Hugo Gernsback’s name off of the Worldcon’s award.

…And now the other side of that coin is revealed.  Prior to and immediately following the Best New Writer award name change, some have suggested that the Hugo Award name be changed as well.  After all, Hugo Gernsback, for whom the Science Fiction Achievement Awards were renamed, had bad paying practices;  there are historical complaints from H. G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, H. P. Lovecraft, Jack Williamson and Donald Wollheim to name those who are known.

He took on airs and presented himself as sophisticated and superior and it may even be that he used his low word rates to help maintain a lavish lifestyle.

On the other hand, he didn’t reject female authors out of hand (encouraged them in editorials, actually).  He himself was Jewish, so it is unlikely that antisemitic thoughts were expressed and as for people of color, though I’ve no evidence, circumstantial evidence suggests that he would have encouraged them as well as he consistently operated in a manner that was designed to grow and spread interest in the genre.  If he had recognized that there was a new market to exploit, he’d have jumped right in.  His motivation was to grow awareness and acceptance of the genre.  How he felt about other social issues remains largely a mystery (but given that he also published Sexology, a magazine devoted to human sexuality in a manner that was extremely provocative and progressive in its time, suggests that the man was more progressive leaning than not).

(4) SHARING AND PRESERVING WORLDCON. Claire Rousseau retweeted a call to stream, record, and caption all of Worldcon and considered how to marshal the resources necessary to do it. Thread starts here.

(5) DOXXING. At The Mary Sue, Anthony Gramuglia interviews some people who have been targeted — “Alt-Right Fandom Circles Have Been Attacking and Doxxing People for Disagreeing With Them”.

The alt-right has taken root in fandom. Like any parasitic plant, once it takes hold, it attempts to strangle the life out of everything around it, drain them of energy until they perish. There are factions on the internet—be they GamerGate, the Sad/Rabid Puppies, ComicsGate, #IStandWithVic/Weeb Wars—who wish to fight a culture war against what they see as a liberal agenda to dominate media.

There are a multitude of individuals who have spoken against these alt-right groups.

And these individuals have been targeted in ways that put their personal safety in jeopardy.

In writing this article, I reached out to several individuals I knew had personally been targeted. In doing so, I talked to online media critic Kaylyn Saucedo (more famously, MarzGurl), artist Tim Doyle, comic writer Kwanza Osajyefo, and cosplayer/comic writer Renfamous about their experiences with online harassment. What they told me needs to be heard.

Trigger warning: The following article contains detailed accounts of sexism, homophobia, transphobia, threats of violence and sexual assault, racism, and a lot of harassment. Screenshots of harassment will be provided to supplement the information provided.

(6) SEE YOU AT THE FAIR. The poster for the Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair is pretty interesting. The event happens September 7-8, 2019.

(7) MASSIVE HARRYHAUSEN EXHIBIT IN SCOTLAND. “Ray Harryhausen’s Most Iconic Creatures Have Been Restored for an Exhibit Next Year”Bloody Disgusting has photos. The exhibit will kick off on May 23, 2020

The late Ray Harryhausen is the man most synonymous with stop-motion animation and for good reason. Harryhausen’s contributions to films like It Came from Beneath the Sea, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts, and Clash of the Titans immortalized him as a legend, his work paid tribute to by everyone from Chuck Russell in Nightmare on Elm Street: Dream Warriors to Sam Raimi in Army of Darkness. Next year, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art pays tribute to the stop-motion master with Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema.

Reported by Creative Boom, it’ll be “the largest and widest-ranging exhibition of Harryhausen’s work ever seen,” including materials both previously unseen and newly restored.

(8) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.

  • August 28, 1991 — First e-mail sent from space. Using a Mac Portable aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis, the first e-mail from space is sent to Earth. Two astronauts on the spacecraft, James Adamson and Shannon Lucid, wrote, “Hello Earth! Greetings from the STS-43 Crew. This is the first AppleLink from space. Having a GREAT time, wish you were here,…send cryo and RCS! Hasta la vista, baby,…we’ll be back!” The message was transmitted to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 28, 1749 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. I once saw a production of his Faust in the Seattle Cathedral some decades back where Faust came up the central aisle standing regally on a cart in his blood red robes dragged along slowly by four actors dressed as demons. Very fascinating. (Died 1832.)
  • Born August 28, 1833 Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, 1st Baronet. English artist and designer associated with the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Although the ISFDB says his artwork graces a mere dozen or so covers of genre books, I’m willing to bet that it’s a lot more than that. The 1996 Signet UK of Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow’s Black Thorn, White Rose anthology uses his artwork, as does the 1990 Random House publication of A.S. Byatt’s Possession: A Romance. (Died 1898.)
  • Born August 28, 1873 Sheridan Le Fanu. One of the most well-known Irish ghost story writers of the Victorian Era. M. R. James said that he was “absolutely in the first rank as a writer of ghost stories”. Three of his best-known works are “Carmilla”, “The House by the Churchyard” and “Uncle Silas”. If you’re interested in sampling his fiction, iBooks has a lot of his ghost stories for free. (Died 1914.)
  • Born August 28, 1896 Morris Ankrum. Numerous appearances  in the Fifties as he appeared in Rocketship X-M as Dr. Ralph Fleming, as a Martian leader in Flight to Mars, in Red Planet Mars playing the United States Secretary of Defense, in  Invaders From Mars playing a United States Army general, and as yet another Army general in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. (Died 1964.)
  • Born August 28, 1916 Jack Vance. I think I prefer his Dying Earth works more than anything else he did, though the Lyonesse Trilogy is damn fine too. And did you know he wrote three mystery novels as Ellery Queen? Well he did. And his autobiography, This Is Me, Jack Vance!, won the Hugo Award, Best Related Book. (Died 2013.)
  • Born August 28, 1917 Jack Kirby. Responsible for a goodly part of modern comics from Captain America and the X-Men to Challengers of the Unknown and the New Gods. I’m very much looking forward to the New Gods film being worked on now. (Died 1994.)
  • Born August 28, 1925 Arkady Natanovich Strugatsky. The Strugatsky brothers were well known Russian SF writers who were Guests of Honour at Conspiracy ’87, the Worldcon that was held in Brighton, England. Their best-known novel in the West, Piknik na obochine, has been translated into English as Roadside Picnic. It is available in digital form with a foreword by Le Guin. (Died 1991.)
  • Born August 28, 1948 Vonda McIntyre. I’ve read a number of her works including Dreamsnake and The Moon and the Sun which are all phenomenal. The latter was based on a short story  of hers done as a faux encyclopaedia article “The Natural History and Extinction of the People of the Sea”, that was illustrated by Le Guin. Neat. (Died 2019.)
  • Born August 28, 1965 Amanda Tapping, 54. She’s best known for portraying Samantha Carter on Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. She also starred as Helen Magnus on Sanctuary which I never managed to see. Anyone see it? She was in The Void which also starred Adrian Paul and Malcolm McDowell. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) KIDNEY DONOR SOUGHT. Longtime Phoenix fan Shane Shellenbarger is on dialysis and needs a kidney transplant. His wife has set up some webpages to help spread the word and widen the search for a donor. Filer Bruce Arthurs adds, “Shane’s a good guy and could use a break.” Learn more about Shane at the Kidney for Shane website.

Shane needs a kidney! He has been on dialysis and on the recipient list for over 650 days. The average length on the list is 2 to 5 years, usually waiting for an unfortunate tragedy leading to a cadaver organ. Many of his friends as well as his wife have tried to donate, but have not qualified for one reason or another. So, we need to spread the request far and wide!

(12) HIGH SCHOOL QUIZZICAL. “Debate Club: The 5 best schools in sci-fi and fantasy”. See the verdict at SYFY Wire. My choice was #1 – that never happens!

It’s that time again: Millions of folks are heading back to school, carrying with them varying degrees of excitement and dread. A new school year is filled with unknowns, which can sure be anxiety-inducing, so it’s no surprise that when movies feature characters hitting the books, it might stir up some old feelings of dread for audiences.

In this week’s Debate Club, we celebrate cinema’s most memorable schools and academies. (It killed us, but we decided not to include the boot camp in Starship Troopers since it’s technically not a school.) All five of our picks are way more exciting than your boring old trig class.

(13) CALL FOR JUDGES. Red rover, red rover, send a name for Mars 2020 right over! NASA is recruiting help from students nationwide to find a name for its next Mars rover mission. Starting Tuesday, K-12 students in U.S. public, private and home schools can enter Future Engineers’ “Name the Rover Challenge” to pick a name for a Mars Rover to be launched next year. One grand prize winner will name the rover and be invited to see the spacecraft launch in July 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

NASA is seeking volunteers to help judge the thousands of contest entries anticipated to pour in from around the country. U.S. residents over 18 years old who are interested in offering approximately five hours of their time to review submissions should register to be a judge at: https://www.futureengineers.org/registration/judge/nametherover

Here’s the writeup for participating students:

K-12 Students

If you are a K-12 student in the United States, your challenge is to name NASA’s next Mars rover. Submit your rover name and a short essay (maximum 150 words) to explain the reasons for your selected name. Be sure to review the RULES for all challenge details and entry requirements, including the privacy requirement of NO PERSONAL NAMES in your submission so that your entry may be posted in the public gallery. The Mars 2020 rover will seek signs of past microbial life, collect surface samples as the first leg of a potential Mars Sample Return campaign, and test technologies to produce oxygen from the Martian atmosphere to prepare for future human missions. More background information about the Mars 2020 mission is provided in the education resources section below.

(14) AVOIDING THE LAST RESORT. James Davis Nicoll, in “SFF Works in Which Violence Is Not the Solution” at Tor Books, takes delight in beginning his list with a work that plays against type – the Niven/Pournelle novel Mote in God’s Eye.

Indeed, the violent solution is so expected that readers can be surprised by a plot that avoids it… Consider the venerable The Mote in God’s Eye. (So old that we don’t need to avoid spoilers, right?)

(15) POLL CATS. According to Psychology Today, “Dog Ownership Predicts Voting Behavior—Cats Do Not”. A shockingly unexpected fact about SJW credentials!

Now when we turn to the effect of cat ownership we find that it has virtually zero predictive value when it comes to national voting trends. For those states where the percentage of cat ownership is highest, the average election results were 52.5% in favor of the Republican candidate over the 4 elections tabulated. This clearly does not represent a meaningful bias in voting behavior. When we look at those states where the percentage of cat ownership is lowest we get a similar indication that there is no predictive value of feline ownership, with an average of 60% voting Democratic. Neither of these results is different enough from the expected chance effect of 50% to be statistically significant.

(16) SHORTS ATTENTION SPAN. NPR: “These Experimental Shorts Are An ‘Exosuit’ That Boosts Endurance On The Trail”. These shorts are made for walkin’…

               Say the word “exosuit” and superheroes come to mind — somebody like Tony Stark from Marvel Comics, whose fancy suit enables him to become Iron Man.

               But scientists at Harvard University have been developing an actual exosuit — a wearable machine that they say can improve a mere mortal’s strength and stamina. This new prototype is novel because it improves a wearer’s performance while walking and running — just one example of progress in what’s become a surging field.

               This suit looks kind of like bike shorts, with some wires and small machines around the waist and cables down the legs. When it’s turned on, a person expends less energy while moving.

(17) ANOTHER SMALL STEP. “‘Starhopper’: SpaceX engine testbed makes minute-long jump” — includes video.

The American rocket company SpaceX conducted a successful flight of its “Starhopper” testbed on Tuesday.

The vehicle lifted 150m into the air, moved sideways and then gently put itself back down onto the ground.

Starhopper is part of an effort to develop a new engine that will burn liquid methane in contrast to the kerosene in the firm’s current engines.

This motor, known as the Raptor, will power SpaceX’s next-generation Starship and Superheavy rockets.

Tuesday’s one-minute test, which took place at Boca Chica in Texas, was the second hop for the vehicle after a modest 18m jump in July.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) licensing had previously limited activity to no more than 25m above the ground.

(18) POSH ACCENT? I say there — “BBC to launch digital voice assistant”.

The BBC is planning to launch a digital voice assistant next year, the corporation has announced.

It will not be a hardware device in its own right but is being designed to work on all smart speakers, TVs and mobiles.

The plan is to activate it with the wake-word Beeb, although this is “a working title”, a spokesman said.

BBC staff around the UK are being invited to record their voices to help train the programme to recognise different accents.

Analyst Ben Wood, from CCS Insight, was among those who have expressed surprise at the news.

(19) ANOTHER RECORD. This one doesn’t disappear after adjusting for inflation: “Avengers: Endgame breaks digital download record”.

Avengers: Endgame has become the UK’s fastest-selling digital download film of all time.

The Marvel movie debuted at the top of the official film chart on Wednesday with the highest-ever opening week of digital download sales.

In July, the finale of the super-hero film series became the highest-grossing film of all time at the box-office.

Now it’s racked up 335,400 downloads in its first week – smashing the previous record held by Bohemian Rhapsody.

The Queen biopic entered the history books in February with 265,000 downloads in its first week.

Endgame’s prequel Avengers: Infinity War is the third fastest-selling download, having claimed almost 253,000 downloads in its first seven days.

In this week’s film chart, fellow Avenger Captain Marvel also sits in sixth place

(20) INSTANT MASTERPIECE. Camestros Felapton in comments:

Picture a clause in a strange constitution
With fantasy prizes for make-believe guys
Some one amends it
The motion goes slowly
A clause about mustard in pies
[dum, dum, dum, dum]
Throwing mustard pies at Worldcon
Throwing mustard pies at Worldcon
Throwing mustard pies at Worldcon
Ahhhhhh, ahhhhhhhhh

[Thanks to Steve Davidson, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Hampus Eckerman, ULTRAGOTHA, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, mirotherion, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Avilyn.]

Pixel Scroll 4/5/19 We Can Scroll It For You Wholesale

(1) GAME OF LUNCH. Ethnic cuisine of Westeros? Gothamist tells you how to order it in “Shake Shack Offering ‘Secret’ Game Of Thrones Items For Valyrian Speakers ONLY”.

Below, you’ll find a little guide explaining what you need to say in order to actually purchase these items. It’s more “bend the tongue” than “bend the knee,” but you get the drift

(2) BLOCKING TECHNIQUE. Foz Meadows takes stock of social media as various platforms enter their teenage years: “Cancel Culture: The Internet Eating Itself”.

…I’m tired of cancel culture, just as I was dully tired of everything that preceded it and will doubtless grow tired of everything that comes after it in turn, until our fundamental sense of what the internet is and how it should be managed finally changes. Like it or not, the internet both is and is of the world, and that is too much for any one person to sensibly try and curate at an individual level. Where nothing is moderated for us, everything must be moderated by us; and wherever people form communities, those communities will grow cultures, which will develop rules and customs that spill over into neighbouring communities, both digitally and offline, with mixed and ever-changing results. Cancel culture is particularly tricky in this regard, as the ease with which we block someone online can seldom be replicated offline, which makes it all the more intoxicating a power to wield when possible: we can’t do anything about the awful coworker who rants at us in the breakroom, but by God, we can block every person who reminds us of them on Twitter.

(3) A WARRIOR HANGS UP HIS SHIELD. Fulk Beauxarmes’ protests against the growing influence of white supremacists in the Society for Creative Anachronism, and use of their symbols in its heraldry, inspired me to nominate him for Best Fanwriter. In a new post he decries the continued inaction of the Society’s leadership and also announces that he’s “Leaving the SCA”.

On February 15th a post that Ronan Blackmoor had recently made was brought to my attention. He’d apparently posted to his Facebook page a triumphant announcement that he and Balder had been “completely cleared” of all accusations of wrongdoing and that there would be “consequences” for all the “leftists”, “SJWs” and “SCAntifa” who had brought “fake charges” against him.

…That was the last straw for me….

(4) AIRBNB ISSUE. Do you need to check your reservations?

(5) SURVIVAL REQUIREMENT. James Wallace Harris does a good job of describing the problem and of identifying a solution. If only he sounded more enthusiastic about it! “Subscribe to SF Magazines – Become a Patron of an Art” at Worlds Without End.

…I’ve come to realize that I have to pay if I want certain things in this world to exist, even if I don’t use them.

I subscribe to four SF magazines that I seldom read. I read when I can, or when I see a story recommended, or when a friend tells me about a story. I subscribe because I want them to exist. I subscribe because I want a place for new SF writers to get published. I subscribe because one day if I can ever get back into writing fiction I’ll have a place to submit my stories.

We have to realize that free content on the internet isn’t free. We’ve got to come up with revenue systems that work. I think the internet needs to remain free, so we can always have instant access to content, but we need to find ways to pay publishers who present free content on the web.

(6) THE KISS OF SOMETHING. Chuck Tingle mingles praise and profitmaking in his response to Archive of Our Own’s Hugo nomination.

(7) GHOST OF A MACHINE. In “A Crime Novel for Future Urban Planners” on CrimeReads, Benjamin Samuel interviews Seth Fried, author of The Municipalists, a near future novel in which detective Henry Thompson solves a cyberattack with the aid of OWEN, “an experimental, highly intelligent hologram…who’s developed his own protocol for day drinking.”

Despite being a holographic projection of a supercomputer, OWEN can sometimes feel more human than Henry—or at least OWEN seems to enjoy life a little more. But ultimately, there are limitations to what he can do. What were some of challenges of having an AI character?

OWEN was a lot of fun to write. Since he’s a shape-shifting light projection, he’s essentially a superhero who can’t physically interact with anyone. So anything he wants to accomplish has to come through trickery or convincing Henry to give some life-threatening strategem the old college try. 

(8) FRENCH ADDRESSING. Some authors had fun responding to this idea – Seanan McGuire and John Chu among them – but one took offense (see the thread).

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 5, 1900 Spencer Tracy. Yes, he did some genre, to wit he was in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde where he played Dr. Henry Jekyll and Mr Edward Hyde! The film even featured Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner. (Died 1967.)
  • Born April 5, 1908 Bette Davis. She’s in Burnt Offerings, am Eighties horror film that did well with the audience and not so well with the critics; I also see she’s in Madame Sin which I think is SF given the premise. (Died 1989.)
  • Born April 5, 1909 Albert Broccoli. He’s mostly known as the producer of many of the James Bond films, and his heirs continue to produce new Bond films. With Harry Saltzman, he produced the first eight Bond films including From Russia with Love which is still my favorite Bond film though You Only Live Twice with a screenplay by Roald Dahl comes close. (Died 1996.)
  • Born April 5, 1917 Robert Bloch. His Wiki page says he’s best known as the writer of Psycho, but I’ll guarantee that only film geeks and many of y’all know that. I know him best as the writer of the Trek “Wolf in the Fold” episode. His Night of the Ripper novel is highly recommend. And I know that “That Hellbound Train” which won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story is the piece of fiction by him I’ve read the most. (Died 1994.)
  • Born April 5, 1926 Roger Corman, 93. Ahhhh, popcorn films! (See popcorn literature for what I mean.) Monster from the Ocean Floor in the early Fifties was his film and Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf on Syfy just a few years back was another such film. He’s a man who even produced such a film called, errr, Munchies. A Worldcon guest of honor in 1996.
  • Born April 5, 1920 A.C. Crispin. She wrote several Trek and Star Wars novelizations and created her series called Starbridge which was heavily influenced by Trek. She also co-wrote several Witch World novels, Gryphon’s Eyrie and Songsmith, with Andre Norton.  Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom was her last novel prior to her death from bladder cancer while in hospice care. (Died 2013.)
  • Born April 5, 1965 Deborah Harkness, 54. She’s the author of the All Souls Trilogy, which consists of A Discovery of Witches and its sequels Shadow of Night and The Book of Life. I listened to the Jennifer Ikeda-narrated audiobooks which was an amazing experience. Highly recommended as Harkness tells a remarkable story here. I’m not even fond ’tall of vampires in any form and hers actually are both appealing and make sense.
  • Born April 5, 1982Hayley Atwell, 37. Agent Carter with her as Peggy Carter I’ll freely admit has been the only series or film in the MCU repertoire that I’ve flat enjoyed so far. Even the misogyny of the males though irritating in that setting made sense. Oh, and I’m interested to see her in Christopher Robin as Evelyn Robin.

(10) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman calls on everyone to “bond over bing bread” with Malka Older in Episode 92 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Malka Older

This turns out to be a perfectly timed episode of Eating the Fantastic, though I didn’t plan it that way, and had no idea while recording such would be the case. The reason for my feeling of serendipity is because my guest is Malka Older, author of the novels InfomocracyNull States, and State Tectonics — which comprise the Centenal Cycle — and which just a few days ago was announced as having made the final Hugo Awards ballot in the category of Best Series….

She joined me for lunch at Momofuku CCDC, a restaurant which will be familiar to regular listeners of this podcast, because Rosemary Claire Smith joined me there a little more than two years ago in Episode 32. I try not to be a repeat customer at any of the spots I visit — at least not while recording for the podcast — but a lot has changed since that visit. David Chang installed a new executive chef, Tae Strain, and gave him orders to “destroy” the menu (according to an article in the Washingtonian), which meant ditching the ramen and pork buns for which Momofuku is so famous. But hey, where else am I going to get a chance to try kimchee potato salad?

We discussed why democracy is a radical concept which scares people (and what marriage has to say about the dramatic potential of democracy), the pachinko parlor which helped give birth to her science fictional universe, how what was intended to be a standalone novel turned into a trilogy, her secrets (and role models) when it comes to writing action scenes, which of her characters moves more merchandise, how (and why) editor Carl Engle-Laird helped her add 20,000 words to her first novel, what she learned about herself from the collaborative Serialbox project, the one thing about her background I was embarrassed to admit I’d never realized, and much more.

(11) OVERFLOWING JOY. Alasdair Stuart’s latest issue of Full Lid includes piece on Mac Rogers’ movie The Horror at Gallery Kay, a look at Us, a detailed look at Project Blue Book (Stuart says “Turns out you can take the boy out of ufology but the man keeps watching tv shows about it”) and some Hugos joy.

Project Blue Book was a real thing, the USAF’s probably whitewashed investigation into the UFO phenomena. Doctor J. Allen Hynek was a real person and remains one of the vanishingly small amount of actual scientists to look into UFOlogy as a field and not a snake oil vending machine. His son Joel is a prolific special effects technician who designed the camouflage effect for the Predator by the way. The cases the episodes are based on are real too, the first two episodes dealing with the Gorman (renamed Fuller) Dogfight and the The Flatwoods Monster. In the first, a pilot engaged a UFO in something approximating combat. In the second, a family were first terrified by what they were sure was a downed UFO and second by the enraged townsfolk who refused to believe them.

(12) FUTURE PLAY. “Books that would make great video games” were considered by Quirk Books. First on their list –

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

This sci-fi novel features space battles, espionage, and cute talking robots. Obviously, we see this book being turned into a space opera-esque RPG ala Mass Effect, with a touch of shoot ‘em style space battles. Think Galaga but with interdimensional space politics and dueling. 10/10 would play for days.

(13) MORE APRIL FOOLISHNESS. Space.com finds this joke had multiple layers — “Behind the Scent: Lockheed Martin Bottles Astronaut’s Smell of Space”.

Lockheed Martin’s April Fools’ Day joke passed the smell test.

The aerospace company on Monday (April 1) kicked off its prank by announcing a launch, but rather than it being of a rocket or a spacecraft, it was Vector, “the first ever fragrance to capture the aroma of space.” And no sooner did the liftoff occur, than thousands of people came to Lockheed Martin’s website to request a sample.

One might expect that to be the gag, but the company went a step further, not only creating a spot-on ad for the bottled essence of space, but also producing the scent for real, as in actual vials of the unisex (if not also universal) eau de (zero-g) toilette

(14) MONETIZING. “Rare Harry Potter first edition with typos sells for $90,074” – UPI has the news.

Auction house Bonhams said the first-edition copy of Harry Potter and Philosopher’s Stone — known in the United States as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone — attracted a high bid of $90,074.

The specific edition is famed in the Potter fandom for containing a handful of typos, including misspelling the word “Philosopher” and the repetition of “1 wand” on the list of items the boy wizard needs to obtain for school.

Think of all the rare typos I make here – I wonder how much Bonhams could get for my blog?

(15) FAILURE TO LAUNCH. SHAZAM! Never Takes Off” for Leonard Maltin.

Shazam! wants to be slick and smartassy except when it suddenly chooses to be warm and sincere—like a TV commercial for some medication or life insurance. You can’t have it both ways but this film repeatedly tries to do so. I’ve always loved the character who originated as Captain Marvel in 1940s comic books (and lost that name to Marvel in a famous lawsuit). He was essentially a rip-off of Superman but he had his own style and flavor. This movie, however, is a muddle.

(16) SLAG HEAPER. Vox Day sneers at this year’s Hugo-nominated novels in “From pulp to Puppies” [Internet Archive link] at Vox Popoli.

Total nonentities. All six of these novels together won’t sell as many copies as a single Galaxy’s Edge novel. Novik would have been considered a C-level talent at best in the 1980s. And people could be forgiven for thinking that the Rabid Puppies were still dictating the nominees with titles such as “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” on the short list.

(17) FURTHER VIEWS. Ian Mond remarked on Facebook:

Congrats to all the Hugo nominees. I won’t whinge that the best novel category doesn’t, for the most part, reflect my tastes. Nor will I set up a movement of like minded people to ensure it does so in the future….

Jonathan Strahan responded in a comment:

For about 20 seconds I considered trying to put together an Alternate Hugos Best Novel list, and then I realised (1) there are a lot of those and (2) you can’t have an Alternate Hugo list really. These are the books that fans who nominated *liked* the most. That’s fine and pretty cool.

(18) WHERE IS IT? Adri Joy begins this review with many questions: “Microreview [Book]: Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman” at Nerds of a Feather.

I thought I knew what to expect, going in to Terra Nullius. I’d seen the book recommended on speculative sites, I’d read enough about it to know that its take on colonisation and extermination of indigineous people was almost but not quite based on the experience of Australia’s indigenous communities following the British invasion in 1788. And yet, by a hundred pages in, I was starting to doubt what everyone and everything (including the book’s own blurb) was telling me. Was I missing clues to a larger mystery? Were there adjectives that I was misreading or apparently historical references that I was misinterpreting? Where, to be blunt, was all the science fiction?

Of course, if you’re paying attention, that’s an intentional feature of Claire G. Coleman’s brilliant debut novel, which offers a perspective on the invasion of Australia which is very much a speculative novel, and yet still inexctricably and uncomfortably intertwined with the real historical treatment of Aboriginal Australians over centuries of white rule. Coleman herself is Noongar, a community from the south coast of what is now Western Australia, and Terra Nullius is the product of a black&write! indigenous writers fellowship. Despite being a first novel, this is a book that’s utterly confident both in its content and its narrative structure, and for very good reason….

(19) CHICXULUB SNAPSHOT. Douglas Preston tells about the discovery of fossils laid down on “The Day the Dinosaurs Died”.

He began shovelling off the layers of soil above where he’d found the fish. This “overburden” is typically material that was deposited long after the specimen lived; there’s little in it to interest a paleontologist, and it is usually discarded. But as soon as DePalma started digging he noticed grayish-white specks in the layers which looked like grains of sand but which, under a hand lens, proved to be tiny spheres and elongated ­droplets. “I think, Holy shit, these look like microtektites!” DePalma recalled. Micro­tektites are the blobs of glass that form when molten rock is blasted into the air by an asteroid impact and falls back to Earth in a solidifying drizzle. The site appeared to contain micro­tektites by the million.

As DePalma carefully excavated the upper layers, he began uncovering an extraordinary array of fossils, exceedingly delicate but marvellously well preserved. “There’s amazing plant material in there, all interlaced and interlocked,” he recalled. “There are logjams of wood, fish pressed against cypress-­tree root bundles, tree trunks smeared with amber.” Most fossils end up being squashed flat by the pressure of the overlying stone, but here everything was three-dimensional, including the fish, having been encased in sediment all at once, which acted as a support. “You see skin, you see dorsal fins literally sticking straight up in the sediments, species new to science,” he said. As he dug, the momentousness of what he had come across slowly dawned on him. If the site was what he hoped, he had made the most important paleontological discovery of the new century.

(20) HIGH LIFE REVIEW. NPR’s Andrew Lapin concluded: “In The Art-House Sci-Fi Film ‘High Life,’ No Aliens — Just Alienation”.

The spaceship hurtling away from Earth is staffed with men and women sprung from death row to aid in a mysterious science experiment. The once-condemned crew believe they’ve been given a chance to redeem themselves and do one final good deed for humanity. Only later, as their signals to Earth begin to go unanswered and their true mission comes into focus, do they realize they have in fact been condemned twice.

High Life is strange and wondrous, less a traditional sci-fi film than it is a seductive journey into the long, black night of death. For many Americans it will also be a wormhole into the work of French director Claire Denis, who’s been active in cinephile circles for three decades but has never before helmed a movie entirely in English. Of course, having the hipness cred of A24 and Robert Pattinson providing the rocket fuel doesn’t hurt.

A prologue that wouldn’t be out of place in a Tarkovsky film shows Pattinson’s human guinea pig Monte in the aftermath of something horrible, wandering alone on the deck of this rocket to nowhere, with only a mysterious baby keeping him company. It’s a great hook — what the hell happened here? — shot at Denis’ familiar meandering pace, proving that even lightspeed won’t rush her story. It’s also a mission statement. As he hurtles toward oblivion, Monte’s acts of paternal care exist in a kind of vacuum. Maybe life and love are possible within a universe of infinite cruelty, and it’s up to the individual to determine their worth.

(21) ON TRACK. When they write the book it should be titled The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Moby Dick“Fossil of ancient four-legged whale found in Peru”.

The fossil of a 43-million-year-old whale with four legs, webbed feet and hooves has been discovered in Peru.

Palaeontologists believe the marine mammal’s four-metre-long (13 ft) body was adapted to swim and walk on land.

With four limbs capable of carrying its weight and a powerful tail, the semi-aquatic whale has been compared to an otter or a beaver.

Researchers believe the discovery could shed light on the evolution of the whale and how it spread.

“This is the most complete specimen ever found for a four-legged whale outside of India and Pakistan,” Dr Olivier Lambert, a scientist at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences and co-author of the study, said.

(22) SJWCS ARE JUST IGNORING YOU. NPR reports: “Cats Don’t Fetch, But Know Their Names As Well As Dogs, Researchers Say”.

Call a dog by his name, and his tail wags, he starts panting happily, and he showers you with love and affection.

Call a cat by his name, and… well, cats are a bit harder to read. Does the cat even know what his name is?

So researchers in Japan set out to answer the question: Can a cat understand the difference between its name and any other random word that sounds like it?

Research on cats is slim compared to research on dogs. That may be because cats can’t be bothered to participate in the experiments. But in a study published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports, the Japanese researchers devised a way to get results whether or not the cats cared to cooperate.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Greg Hullender, Michael Toman, ULTRAGOTHA, Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 9/1/18 Knives, Pixels, Files, Scrolls Of Energy Raved Against The Screens Of The Dentless

(1) SPIDER STORY. Worldcon 76 GoH Spider Robinson’s hometown paper profiled him before the convention: see “Spider Robinson’s star shines in Worldcon’s sci-fi universe” in the Bowne Island Undercurrent.

In the waning charge cycles of a 12-year-old MacBook Pro, Spider Robinson is typing out his autobiography.

“I’m writing the serious, logical case that I’m the luckiest [person] who’s ever lived,” he said.

“My luck ran out, but all luck does.”

It’s extraordinary that a man who lost both his wife and daughter prematurely can still count himself as lucky.

But Robinson concentrates on the joy that his family and career brought to his life.

The well-known science fiction writer, winner of three Hugo awards and a Nebula award, has lived on Bowen Island since 2001.

This week, Robinson is one of the guests of honour at Worldcon, the 76th World Science Fiction Convention, this year held in San Jose.

(2) CANON FIRE. Foz Meadows’ “Trash and Treasure” column for The Book Smugglers does a recap on Worldcon 76, including thoughts inspired by the Author vs Fan Ownership panel there wasn’t enough time to unpack:

 …Afterwards, multiple audience members asked for my thoughts about the recent trend in claims by some fandom extremists that fans literally own the stories they love, whatever those stories might be, just by straight-up virtue of passion.

To give an example of two of the more toxic examples of this sense of fannish entitlement, taken from both ends of the fan-political spectrum, consider both the MRA Star Wars fans who tried to crowdsource funding for a new, lady-free version of The Last Jedi, and the lone Voltron: Legendary Defender fan who tried to blackmail Studio Mir into making their gay ship canon. In both cases, there’s a belief that wanting a personal, idealised, specific version of the narrative to exist in canon should not only trump the plans of the creators, but effectively constitute a shouted BECAUSE REASONS! override of their actual, legal ownership….

(3) MAINTAINING TWEET SILENCE. Is Wil Wheaton coming back to Twitter? Eh, no. He turned it off one day in August, for reasons he explains in “The world is a terrible place right now, and that’s largely because it is what we make it.” Then he thought he found another social media home, but the administrators wearied of the flood of complaints (see post for explanation) and he left there too.

As most of you know, I deactivated my Twitter account earlier this month. It had been a long time coming, for a whole host of reasons, but Twitter’s decision to be the only social network that gives Alex Jones a platform to spew hate, hurt innocent people, and incite violence was the final straw for me. But I haven’t regretted leaving for even one second. Having that endless stream of hate and anger and negativity in my pocket wasn’t good for me (and I don’t think it’s good for anyone, to be honest).

I was on Twitter from just about the very beginning. I think I’m in the first couple thousand accounts. I remember when it was a smallish group of people who wanted to have fun, make jokes, share information and tips on stuff that was interesting, and oh so many pictures of our pets. It was awesome.

It started to get toxic slowly at first, then all at once, starting with the misogynist dipshits who were behing the gate-which-shall-not-be-named. That was clearly a turning point for Twitter, and it never really recovered from it. I watched, in real time, as the site I loved turned into a right wing talk radio shouting match that made YouTube comments and CSPAN call-ins seem scholarly. We tried for a couple of years to fight back, to encourage Twitter to take a stand against bad actors (HA HA LIKE ME BECAUSE I AM A BAD ACTOR RIGHT YOU GOT ME HA HA HA). Twitter doesn’t care about how its users are affected by themselves, though. Twitter cares about growth and staying on the good side of President Shitler’s tantrums….

(4) LIGHT IS THE BEST DISINFECTANT. An event called KekCon set out to publicize itself at Dragon Con and drew criticism on social media. Lura Groen’s thread starts here.

Groen, who received at least one threat after tweeting her thread, reports the KekCon reps left Dragon Con.

(5) PRESCRIPTION FOR ENTERTAINMENT. SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie thinks Filers may enjoy The Third Pill, which BBC Radio 4 has just put on iPlayer.

The Third Pill by James O’Neill

Greg works in children’s publishing but feels middle aged and out of touch. Then something pops up on his computer that will transform his life. A comedy about finding that elusive elixir of youth.

Surely it is a scam, or is it?  And if it works, what are the consequences….

(6) A STROLL DOWN MEMORY ROAD. “A graphic tale: the visual effects of Mad Max: Fury Road” is a nuts-and-bolts of how many of the shots were built over bits of reality. From 2015 – but may be news to you!

But the intense Namibian shoot, and further filming in Sydney, was only half the story in the creation of Fury Road’s insane stunt action and post-apocalyptic landscapes. Hundreds of visual effects artists, led by overall visual effects supervisor Andrew Jackson, would spend considerable time crafting more than 2000 visual effects shots and helping to transform the exquisite photography into the final film that at times feels almost like a single car chase. Even more plate manipulation would also be carried out by colorist Eric Whipp, weaving in a distinctive graphic style for the film with detailed sky replacements and unique day for nights.

(7) A STACK OF REVIEWS, AND A STACK OF WAX. Links to the reviews below at Patti Abbott’s blog: “Friday’s Forgotten Books, August 31, 2018”.

  • Mark Baker. LOST LEGACY, Annette Dashofy
  • Yvette Banek, MURDER MAKES MISTAKES, George Bellairs
  • Les Blatt, AND DANGEROUS TO KNOW, Elizabeth Daily
  • Bill Crider, EPITAPH FOR A TRAMP, David Markson
  • Kate Jackson at CrossExaminingCrime, TILL DEATH DO US PART, John Dickson Carr
  • Martin Edwards, THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER, Minette Marrin
  • Curtis Evans, THE MAN WITH TWO WIVES, “Patrick Quentin”
  • Rich Horton, THE FOUR FEATHERS, A. E. W. Mason
  • Jerry House, ELECTION DAY 2084, ed. Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg
  • George Kelley, THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION STORIES AND NOVELS, 9th SERIES, T.E. Dikty and Earl Kemp
  • Margot Kinberg, FACES OF THE GONE, Brad Parks
  • Rob Kitchin, THE SHINING GIRLS, Lauren Beukes
  • Kate Laity, SWITZERLAND, Joanna Murray-Smith
  • Evan Lewis, WATERFRONT FISTS, Robert E. Howard
  • Steve Lewis, SEEING IS BELIEVING, Carter Dickson
  • Todd Mason, 1960s audio recordings: THE ZOO STORY, Edward Albee; NO EXIT, Jean-Paul Sartre (translated by Paul Bowles); LUV, Murray Schisgal; JUST SO STORIES, Rudyard Kipling
  • Matt Paust, LAST BUS TO WOODSTOCK, Colin Dexter
  • James Reasoner, THE WATER BEND FEUD, William MacLeod Raine
  • Richard Robinson, A FALL OF MOONDUST, Arthur C. Clarke
  • Kevin Tipple, BAD LITTLE FALLS, Paul Doiron
  • Tomcat, FLASHPOINT, John Russell Fearn
  • TracyK, DARK PASSAGE, David Goodis

Links to online archives of some of the recordings under discussion at Todd Mason’s post: “THE ZOO STORY, Edward Albee; NO EXIT, Jean-Paul Sartre (translated by Paul Bowles); LUV, Murray Schisgal; JUST SO STORIES, Rudyard Kipling”

(8) EC COMICS REMEMBERED. The Society of Illustrators in New York City will exhibit “Tales from the Crypt: The Revolutionary Art of MAD and EC Comics” from September 5 to October 27, 2018.

For the first time in NYC, an exhibition of the EC comic book art that struck fear in the hearts of arbiters of good taste will see the light of day. Featured are more than 70 large original comic book art pages by comic art masters. On display September 5 through October 27 in the Hall of Fame Gallery….

A big business in the fifties, as many as 100 million comic books were sold monthly. Although the superhero and funny animal titles were popular in the forties the appetite had turned to subjects that reflected current trends and interests.

Perhaps the most prominent comic book publisher at the time was Entertaining Comics (EC), led by William M. Gaines. An aspiring high school teacher, Gaines found himself the 25 year old head of a struggling publishing company when his father died in a boating accident. Gaines knew little about the industry but hired young, creative editor/artists Al Feldstein and Harvey Kurtzman to test new formats and launched a broad slate of revolutionary titles covering science fiction, horror, crime, war, suspense and humor.

The EC team would later be called among the most talented assembly of comic book artists and writers the industry had ever seen. While quickly copied because of their unprecedented success, EC stories were markedly different from the competition. They were expertly illustrated, written for an intelligent audience and offered an unexpected twist ending. Critics would point to the violence depicted in the crime and horror titles or the mature nature of the story subjects. Gaines had assumed an intelligent audience comprised of young adults and older readers and not children who would otherwise find little meaning in the work.

Titles presented in the exhibit include Aces HighCrime Suspenstories, Crypt of Terror, Extra!, Haunt of Fear, Frontline Combat, Impact, Piracy, MAD, Two-Fisted Tales, Tales From the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, Weird Fantasy, Weird Science, Weird Science Fantasy, MAD 3-D art and more. Artists featured include Johnny Craig, Reed Crandall, Jack Davis, Will Elder, George Evans, Al Feldstein, Frank Frazetta, Graham Ingels, B. Krigstein, Harvey Kurtzman, Joe Orlando, John Severin, Marie Severin, Angelo Torres, Al Williamson and Wally Wood.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 1, 1902A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune) is directed by Georges Méliès is released.
  • September 1, 1954Tobor the Great premiered.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 1, 1885 – Edgar Rice Burroughs. Pulp writer (and no I’m not being disparaging with my use of that term) of many series of which I’ll single out the BarsoomPellucidar, Tarzan and Venus series.  Both Rudyard Kipling and Ray Bradbury considered him to be an influential and entertaining writer. Edgar Hamilton in an interview said once that “We sort of grew up on Edgar Rice Burroughs.”
  • Born September 1 — Diana Pleasance Case Gillon, 103. Only one novel, The Unsleep, but noted here for one hundred and three years old! Or at least that’s what three sources think.
  • Born September 1 – C.J. Cherryh, 76. Author of several major series set in different settings including the Alliance-Union universe, the Foreigner universe, the Russian stories, Heroes in Hell, the Fortress universe and Ealdwood. I think my favorites are the Russian stories, particularly Rusalka which was a Locus Fantasy Award nominee. Downbelow Station and Cyteen both won Hugo Awards as did her short story titled “Cassandra.”
  • Born September 1 – Timothy Zahn, 66. I’ll admit that I’ve not read anything by him on and only know of him by his work in the Star Wars Universe. His other work appears largely to be milsf and largely on Baen Books.
  • Born September 1 – Brad Linaweaver. His Moon of Ice novella was a Nebula Award finalist and the novel length version won a Prometheus Award

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frank and Ernest decide it’s better to go with their second favorite name for a new invention.

(12) A COOKIE WITH MORE BITE TO IT. Oreo has introduced two new cookie flavors — wasabi and hot chicken wing. For now, they are only available in China.

(13) A LITTLE LIST. Kendall has read the comments here before and introduced this as “Another list for people to slam!”

Unbound Worlds, who posted a ‘100 Best Fantasy Novels of All Time’ list a while back, now has a 100 Best Sci-Fi Books of All Time list. As before, they’re clear they just asked staffers for top sci-fi recs…

Hey, there are a bunch of books on this list I like, and if I’ve read 41 of them, your count probably will be even higher.

(14) IT’S NOT EPIC BUT IT IS FANTASY. Camestros Felapton reviews Matt Groening’s new series for Netflix, Disenchantment.

A new series from Matt Groening of Simpsons and Futurama fame was bound to generate some excitement. Using an epic fantasy/fairytale faux-medieval setting sounds like a fun premise for the kind of genre subverting humour that worked for Futurama. I’m up to the last two episodes and well, it isn’t great. It isn’t terrible but it isn’t great.

There are two issues:

  • Quite a lot of Futurama wasn’t that great either but your brain edits in the best bits.
  • Disenchantment leans too much on standard jokes and tropes used in its predecessors, making the show feel less fresh and novel.

It gets better, mainly because the characters start working on you and sometimes because of basic plot development.

(15) DOCTORDONNA IS IN. Sometimes the unexpected happens at Dragon Con. Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia Stacey Abrams encountered actress Catherine Tate.

(16) SIDEBAR. Cat Rambo found comic relief at the SFWA business meeting during Dragon Con.

(17) RUGRATS. Airboy notes, “There was a ‘weird news’ story on the front page of August 31’s Wall Street Journal on the odd carpet design of the Marriott Hotel in downtown Atlanta that is one of the DragonCon Hotels.  It had an odd carpet that was eventually removed due to age.  Some fans obsessed over it creating dresses, camo outfits, and eventually a group of them marched together in the annual DragonCon parade in downtown Atlanta.”

The article is online behind a paywall at the Wall Street Journal, “‘We’re Spending Our Hard-Earned Money to Dress Up Like Carpet.’ The Tight-Knit World of Rug Fans”.

These are the people who are obsessed with carpet and rug patterns in hotels, airports and office buildings; Dragon Con at the Marriott

Here’s a lot more material (free!) at the Dragon Con Eternal Members site: “Marriott Carpet Pattern”, including the famous photo of two prone cosplayers whose camo military uniforms blend almost perfectly with the rug.

(18) IN CASE YOU’RE CURIOUS. I’d never seen a photo of Dragon Con CEO Pat Henry before (not that they aren’t available). Writers of the Future’s John Goodwin posted a photo of them together.

He also posted a photo of the Writers of the Future panel with Contest judges Kevin J. Anderson, Robert J. Sawyer, Mike Resnick and Jody Lynn Nye.

(19) MORE CON HEALTH ADVICE. In advance of this weekend’s PAX West convention, the Seattle’s Public Health Insider warned con crud is a thing: “Gaming, Cosplay, and Con Crud, Oh My!”

PAX West opens on Friday and will bring tens of thousands of people to downtown Seattle. Be prepared for legions of cosplayers and badge wearers in downtown, even if you aren’t attending.

So… what is “con crud”?

“Con crud” is an artificial term that refers to the common cold, mild flu, or other non-threatening illness that may strike towards the end of a convention, or soon after leaving. You might have also heard it called PAX pox, festival plague, or even nerd flu.

The balance of the post advises ways to avoid getting it. [Via Ron Oakes.]

(20) AIR APPARENT. Fixing a flat: “Astronauts tackle air leak on International Space Station”.

Astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) are having to deal with an air leak from a possible collision.

It has been traced to a small hole in a capsule that was used to deliver a new crew to the laboratory 400km (250 miles) above the Earth in June.

It is thought the damage was caused by the impact of a high-speed rocky fragment flying through space.

(21) BACK ON THE RAILS. BBC tells “How the Hogwarts Express was saved from a Welsh scrapyard”.

Emerging from the clouds of steam engulfing platform nine and three-quarters, the gleaming Hogwarts Express commands a special place in the hearts of Harry Potter fans.

Yet there was a time when the only place this engine could call home, was a south Wales scrapyard where it lay rotting among the hulks of a bygone era.

That is because the locomotive that entranced millions of Potter viewers and now sits proudly in Warner Brothers Studios, was once earmarked to be dismantled for the furnace.

Written off, abandoned and forgotten for 17 years, this lowly engine’s final destiny was originally far from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

(22) MORE THAN JUST ONLINE. “Telepresence: ‘My robot makes me feel like I haven’t been forgotten'”. – about helping shut-ins keep up with school.

Internet-connected robots that can stream audio and video are increasingly helping housebound sick children and elderly people keep in touch with teachers, family and friends, combating the scourge of isolation and loneliness.

Zoe Johnson, 16, hasn’t been to school since she was 12.

She went to the doctor in 2014 “with a bit of a sore throat”, and “somehow that became A&E [accident and emergency],” says her mother, Rachel Johnson.

(23) CASTING CONTROVERSIES. ScreenRant analyzes “10 Superhero Castings That Caused Fan Backlash.”

(24) ALMOST TIME. The House with a Clock in Its Walls – in theaters September 21.

In the tradition of Amblin classics where fantastical events occur in the most unexpected places, Jack Black and two-time Academy Award® winner Cate Blanchett star in The House with a Clock in Its Walls, from Amblin Entertainment. The magical adventure tells the spine-tingling tale of 10-year-old Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) who goes to live with his uncle in a creaky old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart. But his new town’s sleepy façade jolts to life with a secret world of warlocks and witches when Lewis accidentally awakens the dead. Based on the beloved children’s classic written by John Bellairs and illustrated by Edward Gorey, The House with a Clock in Its Walls is directed by master frightener Eli Roth and written by Eric Kripke (creator of TV’s Supernatural). Co-starring Kyle MacLachlan, Colleen Camp, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Vanessa Anne Williams and Sunny Suljic, it is produced by Mythology Entertainment’s Brad Fischer (Shutter Island) and James Vanderbilt (Zodiac), as well as Kripke.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Todd Mason, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. And belated thanks to Joanna Rivers for an item the other day. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 8/28/18 Robert’s Pixels Of Order, Newly Scrolled

(1) IN TUNE WITH SPACE OPERA. Strange Horizons presents “’In The Far and Dazzling Future, People Are Still People’: A Round-Table on Domestic Space Opera” with Ann Leckie, Jennifer Foehner Wells, Judith Tarr, Joyce Chng, and Foz Meadows.

Foz Meadows: I honestly think you can’t have good SF without a degree of domesticity. There’s something sterile to the environments so often preferred by hard and military SF, where everyone is in uniform without a hint of how they live outside of it, that forgets that, even in the far and dazzling future, people are still people. One of the clearest visual examples that springs to mind was the ship Serenity, in Firefly—that show had a lot of problems, but the decision to lovingly render the spaceship as a domestic environment wasn’t one of them. There were hand-painted signs on the metal that Kaylee had done, scenes of the crew cooking real food together as a novelty, or making Simon a cake out of flavoured protein for his birthday because they didn’t have anything else; the difference between Inara’s quarters, with its lush decorations, and Jayne’s wall of guns. The Radchaii love of tea in Ann Leckie’s Ancillary series is another example of this.

But again, I find myself at odds with the assumption that domesticity is frowned upon in space opera, given that its presence is, to me, one of the defining qualities that separates it from traditional, “masculine” hard and military SF….

(2) DOCTOR IS IN. Variety says a former Doctor Who will be in Episode IX: “‘Star Wars: Episode IX’ Casts Matt Smith in Key Role”.

Sources tell Variety that “The Crown” star Matt Smith is joining “Star Wars: Episode IX,” which is currently in production in the U.K. It’s unknown at this time whether the “Doctor Who” alum will be on the side of the rebels or the evil empire.

(3) A SFF SPLASH. Scott Edelman interviews Rachel Pollack over a bowl of Vietnamese Seafood Noodle Soup in Episode 75 of Eating the Fantastic.

Rachel Pollack

We had lunch on the final day of Readercon at Pho Pasteur. This Quincy restaurant is a 2017 spin-off of the original Boston Vietnamese venue which has been open since 1991, and since that cuisine is one of her favorites, I thought we should give that venue a try.

Rachel Pollack is someone I’ve been connected to for a third of a century, even since I ran her story “Lands of Stone” in a 1984 issue of Last Wave, a small press magazine I edited and published. But she’s gone on to do so much more since then!

Her novel Unquenchable Fire won the 1989 Arthur C. Clarke Award, and her novel Godmother Night won the 1997 World Fantasy Award. Her other novels include Temporary Agency, which was a 1994 Nebula Award nominee. Her comic book writing includes an acclaimed run on Doom Patrol, as well as New Gods and Brother Power the Geek. She is also an expert on the Tarot and has published many books on the subject, including a guide to Salvador Dali’s Tarot deck. Her comics and Tarot loves blended when she created the Vertigo Tarot Deck with writer Neil Gaiman and artist Dave McKean.

We discussed why Ursula K. Le Guin was such an inspiration, the reason celebrating young writers over older ones can skew sexist, what Tarot cards and comic books have in common, how 2001: A Space Odyssey isn’t a science fiction movie but an occult movie, why Captain Marvel was her favorite comic as a kid (Shazam!), the serendipitous encounter which led to her writing Doom Patrol, how she used DC’s Tomahawk to comment on old Western racial stereotypes, the problems that killed her Buffy the Vampire Slayer Tarot deck, how she intends to bring back her shaman-for-hire character Jack Shade, and much more.

(4) MORE ON CARNEGIE LIBRARY THEFTS. The New York Times traces the fate of an individual stolen book to illustrate why the thefts could be carried on so long: “Vast Theft of Antiquarian Books Sends a Shudder Through a Cloistered World of Dealers”.

A rare books dealer thought he had gotten lucky in 2013 when he managed to acquire a 1787 French first edition — inscribed by Thomas Jefferson when he was ambassador to France.

“If someone else had seen it first, it would have been gone,” said the dealer, John Thomson, who owns Bartleby’s Books, an online shop.

He had no idea that his seeming good fortune was a byproduct of one of the most expansive rare book thefts in history.

The dealer at a book fair who sold it to him, John Schulman, is now accused of conspiring with a library archivist, Gregory Priore, to steal and sell rare items from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh….

… In this niche world based on trust, where confidants are currency and handshake deals are commonplace, the arrest of a prominent dealer is a shocking suggestion of deceit.

Mr. Schulman had served on the association’s board of governors and had even led its ethics committee, the organization said. His clients included some of the biggest names in the business. Prominent bookshops from New York to London bought stolen books, an affidavit shows.

…None of the buyers are accused of wrongdoing. But the booksellers’ association is taking steps to try to prevent a similar wide-scale theft from happening again.

We traced the path of one book, the edition signed by Jefferson, to explain how the theft is suspected to have worked — and why it went undetected for so long….

(5) BETHKE TRIBUTE. Bruce Bethke’s frank memoir “Family Matters” leads up to his announcement of the death of his first wife.

…What even fewer people have known until recently is that in December of 2012, my first wife, Nancy, was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma. After a five-and-a-half year battle, she left this world sometime between late Sunday evening, August 19, and early Monday morning, August 20. Her funeral was this past Saturday.

(6) VELEZ OBIT. Artist Walter Velez (1939-2018) died August 24 at the age of 78.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction tells about his popular work, including covers for Robert Asprin’s books, such as the first Thieves World anthology.

His website is here.

(7) WAYNE OBIT. From Syfy Wire: “The Twilight Zone and Bewitched Actor Fredd Wayne Dead at 93” and The Hollywood Reporter: “Fredd Wayne, Who Played Benjamin Franklin on ‘Bewitched,’ Dies at 93”.

Per the SYFY Wire story, genre roles included appearances on: One Step Beyond (1 episode); The Twilight Zone (2 episodes); Voyagers! (1 episode); Bewitched (2-part episode); Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color (2-part episode); Wonder Woman (1 episode); Small Wonder (1 episode); The Phantom of Hollywood (TV movie); Chamber of Horrors.(feature film). There may be others they didn’t list. Depends, in part, on what you count as genre (Nanny and the Professor? Matinee Theatre’s “The Alumni Reunion” & “The Century Plant”?)

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 28, 1991 — First E-mail Sent from Space

 Using a Mac Portable aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis, the first e-mail from space is sent to Earth. Two astronauts on the spacecraft, James Adamson and Shannon Lucid, wrote, “Hello Earth! Greetings from the STS-43 Crew. This is the first AppleLink from space. Having a GREAT time, wish you were here,…send cryo and RCS! Hasta la vista, baby,…we’ll be back!” The message was transmitted to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 28, 1915 – Tasha Tudor. American illustrator and writer of children’s books. Her most well-known book is Corgiville Fair, published in 1971, the first of a series to feature anthropomorphic corgis.
  • Born August 28, 1916 – Jack Vance. Where to start? The Dying Earth series? Or perhaps the Lyonesse trilogy? I think I’ll pick the Demon Princes series.
  • Born August 28, 1917 – Jack Kirby. Comic artist is somewhat of an understatement for what he was. Created much of modern Marvel continuity and even some of the DCU as well with New Gods at the latter being my fav work by him.
  • Born August 28, 1948 – Vonda McIntyre, 70. Best known I think for for her Trek and SW work, but Dreamsnake won her both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award for Best Novel, and The Moon and The Sun won her the Nebula Award.
  • Born August 28 – Barbara Hambly, 67. Author of myriad genre works including the James Asher, Vampire NovelsThe Windrose Chronicles, and the Sun Wolf and Starhawk series. Some Trek work. Was married for some years to George Alec Effinger.
  • Born August 28 – Amanda Tapping, 53. Stargate franchise of course, also lead in Sanctuary, Travelers, Kiljoys, Riese, Earthsea, Flash Forward and X-Files.
  • Born August 28 – Kelly Overton, 40. Genre work includes Van Helsing, Legends, True Blood, Beauty and The Beast and Medium.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) REASON FOR A SEASON. John King Tarpinian says he has already ordered his “Santa in Space” shirt.

(12) ABOUT W76. Alexandra Erin unpacks a host of feelings about attending a Worldcon in “Conventional Wisdom”, like these sentiments about awards:

And so here is my insight for this year: the awards matter because they represent genuine appreciation, and the appreciation is genuine because it comes from people, from real people, a real community of people, a community of communities — some old, some newer, each diverse in different ways, each with their own competing and conflicting and even occasionally complementary tastes. This community is here at the convention and it is distributed somewhat haphazardly across the globe, wherever people are reading and writing and appreciating science fiction and fantasy literature published in the English language.

WorldCon is a concentration of that community, and the Hugo Awards are a concentration of WorldCon. The community is people, the convention is people, the awards are people, Soylent Green is people, and it is beautiful and it is glorious, even when the community stumbles.

(13) OUT IN FRONT. John Picacio mentions that he won the only Alfie Award presented by George R.R. Martin this year, tells about the gatherings of MexicanX Initiative members, and how he felt while emceeing the Hugos, in his conreport “Worldcon 76: The End Is The Beginning”.

I always forget how applause makes me feel like I’m underwater. I knew I was going to ‘X-up’ centerstage in salute to my Mexicanx brothers and sisters, but from there, every word of my opening address was blank page. Unscripted. Pulled from the bright stagelights, the infinite sea of faces, the inky black, that primetime moment you can’t calculate no matter how hard you try. It’s right there in front of your eyes, beyond the dazzle, if you can stop your heart from exploding out of your chest. All of those struggling years, building to arrive at that moment….I remembered that kid who so desperately wanted to be a part of this business….that guy who appeared at his first Worldcon a mere twenty-one years ago. And he led me through the darkness, like he always does — because I’m still that guy. I still want it as bad as I did when I worked on my first book cover, when I resigned from architecture to be the person I am full-time, seventeen years ago. I don’t remember everything I said up there — it just comes out — and no, I don’t want to watch the video and find out. Once is enough.

(14) NEW WETWARE DISCOVERY. NPR reports on “What Makes A Human Brain Unique? A Newly Discovered Neuron May Be A Clue”. Breaks the use of mice as models for neurological problems, e.g. Alzheimer’s.

An international team has identified a kind of brain cell that exists in people but not mice, the team reported Monday in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

“This particular type of cell had properties that had never actually been described in another species,” says Ed Lein, one of the study’s authors and an investigator at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle.

The finding could help explain why many experimental treatments for brain disorders have worked in mice, but failed in people. It could also provide new clues to scientists who study human brain disorders ranging from autism to Alzheimer’s disease to schizophrenia.

“It may be that in order to fully understand psychiatric disorders, we need to get access to these special types of neurons that exist only in humans,” says Joshua Gordon, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, which helped fund the research.

(15) PREEMPTIVE STRIKE ON CHOLERA. 21st-century pump handle: “Yemen cholera epidemic ‘controlled’ by computer predictions”. Rainfall predictions ID where sewers will overflow, telling where to concentrate treatment etc.

Last year, there were more than 50,000 new cases in just one week – this year, the numbers plummeted to about 2,500.

The system has enabled aid workers to focus efforts on prevention several weeks in advance of an outbreak – by monitoring rainfall.

It comes as the UN says it is concerned about a possible “third wave” of the epidemic.

(16) MAD, I TELL YOU. At The Onion: “New ‘Game Of Thrones’ Teaser Shows Cackling, Power-Mad George R.R. Martin Burning Completed ‘Winds Of Winter’ Manuscript”.

Shedding light on the much-rumored events of the upcoming eighth and final season, a newly released teaser for the wildly popular HBO series of Game Of Thrones that aired Monday centered around the image of a cackling, power-mad George R.R. Martin burning the completed manuscript of Winds Of Winter.

(17) COMING TO A BOOKSTORE NOWHERE NEAR YOU. Ferret Bueller shares a rarity:

This is a pic?ture I took of the official (I guess) Mongolian translations of the Game of Thrones books in Ulaanbaatar; they’re published by Monsudar, the leading publisher of translated books. These were on display at one of the little branches of Internom, their brick and mortar franchise, this one being near my office. I see by the stamp I took it on 1 April; I took the picture for a friend of mine who’s a GoT fanatic and didn’t even think that you might enjoy seeing it or putting it up on File 770 (it’s interesting enough SF news, I guess) until earlier today.

(18) YOU COULDN’T LOOK IT UP. Cameron Laux describes “Fourteen words and phrases that define the present” for BBC readers:

The new weird

An emerging genre of speculative, ‘post-human’ writing that blurs genre boundaries and conventions, pushes humanity and human-centred reason from the centre to the margins, and generally poses questions that may not be answerable in any terms we can understand (hence the ‘weird’). It is associated with people like Jeff Vandermeer and M John Harrison in fiction, but the approach is bleeding into television narratives (see Westworld or Noah Hawley’s innovative series Fargo and Legion). Vandermeer’s Annihilation is heavily influenced by recent ecological thinking which takes the view that humanity is a blip in geologic history: even considering the potential catastrophe of global warming, the Earth existed long before us, and it will exist long after (see the ‘hyperobject’ entry elsewhere here). In his 2002 book Light, Harrison imagines a universe where human physics is encroached upon by alien physics that coexist and are equally or more potent. Westworld posits machine intelligences that overthrow their masters, unleashing a radically non-human order.

(19) DEL TORO PROJECT. From Variety: “Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ Movie Sets Cast”.

Guillermo del Toro’s “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” adaptation has cast Michael Garza, Austin Abrams, Gabriel Rush, Austin Zajur and Natalie Ganzhorn with production to start this week.

Del Toro is producing the teen thriller with his “Shape of Water” producer J. Miles Dale. Sean Daniel and Jason Brown of Hivemind and Elizabeth Grave are also producing. CBS Films and Entertainment One are co-financing.

(20) NOT ENOUGH CONAN. Doctor Strangemind’s Kim Huett tells how Hollywood suffers for lack of his advice to guide them, in “Conan the Rebooter”.

What is best in life? To revive a franchise, to turn it into a success, and to hear the lamentation of your rivals!

I really do wish Hollywood would consult with me before embarking upon certain film projects. I’ve no doubt my sage advice could save them endless money and embarrassment in regards to the making of the more expensive science fiction and fantasy sort of films. “What’s that Mr Executive? You’re thinking about green-lighting a film based on the game Battleship? No. Just no.”

Ah, but I sense you would like some proof of my ability to deliver such sage advice. Fair enough, let’s then consider that famous barbarian, Conan, by Crom! As a teenager I read at least eleventy-seven paperbacks featuring Conan stories (published by Sphere Books in the UK and by first Lancer and then Ace Books in the US) so I’m reasonably familiar with the source material. Admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve read any of Robert E. Howard’s stories but I think I can unequivocally state that neither attempt to put Conan on the big screen was unflawed….

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

Kowal To Assist Changing Worldcon 76 Program

The Worldcon 76 program revisions promised yesterday will be aided by Mary Robinette Kowal and a team she is in the process of assembling.

Chair Kevin Roche tweeted –

Mary Robinette Kowal asked for breathing space to get started. (Thread begins here.)

John Picacio announced on Facebook:

Well, here goes nothing. I just got off the phone with my friend Mary Robinette Kowal and agreed to join her select team to help Worldcon 76 in San Jose with programming. Yes, all of us have witnessed problems in recent days, but there’s a lot of AMAZING work that is in the foundation that Christine Doyle and team has constructed, with the support of Kevin Roche. Our team is not here to trash and burn, but to chisel, refine, and include. LET’S DO THIS. #GameOn #Worldcon76

Despite the dramatic statement “We are tearing the program apart and starting over,” as John Picacio indicates, the program is being fixed, not done over from scratch.

PANELS DECLINED. Additions to File 770’s list of creators who tweeted yesterday that they were dropping off Worldcon 76 program:

  • Charlie Jane Anders

  • Annalee Newitz

  • Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden

PERSPECTIVES. Representative examples from a broad spectrum of responses to the controversy that have appeared since last night —

Foz Meadows: “Worldcon 76: More Than Technical Difficulties”

Right now, my personal suspicion is that Worldcon 76 has been afflicted by a combination of bigotry – some likely subconscious, some very likely not – and poor coordination, with the latter significantly enabling the impact of the former. As much as I appreciate Kevin Roche stepping in to issue apologies and redo the programming, that these actions were necessary at all speaks, at absolute best, to an administrative setup wherein the right hand didn’t know what the left was doing, and at worst, to a gross case of insincere, post-facto ass-covering.

Even from the outside, it seemed clear well before yesterday that the programming for Worldcon was disorganised and running behind schedule. The “very preliminary programming” email I received on July 9 had me listed for no panels at all, confirming only that I’d be attending the Hugo Awards. When I queried whether I’d be on any panelling, the reply I received from Christine Doyle stated that, while I was “pencilled in” for some panels, “We were in the “get something out now” vs “get everyone scheduled” phase — and opted for the get something out now.” This didn’t exactly alleviate my worries, given that the con is due to start on August 16. (By comparison, the first full program schedule for MidAmericon II in 2016 was sent out on July 6, well in advance of the August 16 start date, with final corrections issued by August 4.)

I was more encouraged by the July 22 email I received from Leigh Ann Hildebrand, the LGBTQ+ content lead for programming, which listed 27 separate queer panel topics and asked which ones I’d like to be a part of. Thinking that these would be the only panels on which I might appear, I listed four but gave no order of preference; when the original program was sent out yesterday, I was therefore surprised to find that I’d been given two of the four, plus three other panels and a reading. In honesty, I was happy with the panels I’d been given – both in terms of topics and fellow panellists – but once it became apparent that other Hugo nominees had been offered far less, it was difficult not to feel angry on their behalf. Campbell Award nominee Rivers Solomon, whose expenses for attending Worldcon were crowdsourced by the SFF community, was offered only one item; to the best of my knowledge, JY Yang was given only a reading – or at least, this is what I inferred from their saying that they’d been left off the panelling items that they requested. Either way, it ought to be Worldcon 101 to try and accommodate both guests and award nominees from the outset instead of letting their contributions be afterthoughts, and whatever other factors are in play, it doesn’t escape notice that, overwhelmingly, those slighted by the programming are POC, non-American, queer or a combination of all three.

L.E.H. Light of Black Nerd Problems responds to the controversy and proposed solution in “Worldcon Starts Over: But Will It Be Enough?” . (I’m linking to this even though the post was publicized in a tweet with a dumpster fire GIF…)

…With only a month left to the convention, can the trust be regained? Can WorldCon 76 get itself together and present the event they promised us?

I’m not feeling hopeful.

Full disclosure, I’m attending WorldCon 76. I’ve paid my money, booked my room, and planned my cosplay. WorldCon is the best chance for me to meet some of my favorite authors without me having to book an international flight. And to attend the Hugos? That will be fantastic. I submitted panel ideas and have been placed on a few. Every step of that process has been delayed and challenging far beyond what I expected, even from a volunteer-run event. All along I had a voice in the back of my mind telling me something was wrong, and now, with all the evidence in front of me, I have to confront a real possibility: That my presence at the con is one of tokenism and not inclusion.

I say that while keeping in my mind all of the white people, whom I know personally, who invited me, and the people of color who stood up for me to get the placements I did. I don’t want to insult their work or say they did this purposefully. I do want to say that when they added me to a panel, for some the “Black critic with a sassy mouth” box was checked and they went on to schedule a bunch more white guys with conscious clear.

The old gatekeepers of book sci-fi/fantasy continue to be in full control of the keys to mainstream readers. I say that knowing that many of these people consider themselves “allies”, but they remain small-c conservative. They are fundamentally change resistant. While we readers may nominate an inclusive slate of writers and artists for the Hugo awards, the folks planning the conventions don’t really want to have us around, to socialize with queer fans, fans of color, immigrant fans. How can people who haven’t put out new fiction in 10 years have panels, but you can’t find room for new talent? They want our art, but they don’t want to make room at the con table for our concerns, our fan fiction, and our #ownvoices panels.

Larry Correia is one of several Sad Puppy authors delighted to hear about these problems — “My Official Comment on WorldCon 2018’s Social Justice Cannibal Feeding Frenzy” [Internet Archive link].

James Pyles: “An Outsider’s Point of View: Why Did WorldCon 76 Implode?” Despite taking Declan Finn’s and Richard Paolinelli’s posts as his jumping-off point, Pyles is an unusual commenter from the right who isn’t verbally abusive.

So far, I have no skin in the game, but if I ever have some body of my work published and become even marginally established, the Cons will start to become more significant in my life. My concern, and I’ve expressed it before, is by the time I get there, I will be considered an artifact from the “bad old days,” unworthy to have my #OwnVoice.

I don’t think it ever occurs to very many people that you don’t have to exclude “traditional” voices to include “underrepresented” ones. However, in this era of reflexive and wholly visceral panic attacks demonstrated on the far left side of the aisle, it seem virtuous to exclude, marginalize, or even actively express hostility toward “white baby-boomers,” if for no other reason than we’re old and white. And as those who tout the values of social justice and progressiveness continue to dominate the entertainment industry (including publication of SF/F genre material), the shoe, very much, is being put on the other foot.

The answer? I’ve said this before, too and it’s so, so simple. Definitely include Bogi Takács, JY Yang, and others who are from “marginalized” groups, and treat them in a humane manner and with respect, but do not throw the baby out with the bath water. Don’t torpedo those writers and editors who aren’t considered “marginalized,” even if you feel that somehow they (we/me) have “done you wrong,” because, in all likelihood, the vast majority of us haven’t. At the end of the day, all we want to do is tell a good story.

David Gillon’s suggestion —

Pixel Scroll 7/15/18 Old Filer’s Scroll Of Practical Pixels

(1) AMERICA’S FAVORITE DOCTOR. Welby? Casey? Kildare? Guess Who….? Thursday on BBC America:

Have TARDIS, will time travel: The new special “Doctor Who: The Lost Episode” uses remastered footage and new animation to reconstruct an unfinished 1970s-era tale from the venerable British science fiction drama penned by “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” author Douglas Adams and starring Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor. 8 p.m. BBC America

(2) DEAL ALL THE CARDS. The Doctor figures in “The Pigs in Space” sketch at The Muppets Take the O2 (Arena) show, too.

(3) TASTE TEST. Cat Rambo turns in another sweet critique to The Green Man Review: “The Prettiest Candy: Albanese World’s Best Mini Gummi Butterflies”.

Having recently discovered that my favorite gummi bears were possibly made with child labor, I went looking for a substitute recently and picked up a bag of Albanese Mini Gummi Butterflies.

Candy is often not pretty, particularly when chocolate is involved, but these candies, shaped like butterflies, look like little stained glass jewels. The flavors are blue raspberry, cherry, grape, green apple, orange, and strawberry, with the usual scheme of color vaguely indicating flavor….

(4) SHADOW CLARKE JURY DELIBERATIONS. Fell a little behind linking to these posts…..

…I went a bit overboard (OH GOD HELP I CAN’T STOP) but you get the point. There’s a completely functional and immensely fun version of this story that puts it solidly in the Hunger Games/Limetown bracket of ‘tough heroic female lead discovers something terrible and vows to defeat it.’ I love stories like those, especially when they’re folded into this kind of post-apocalyptic subset of fiction.

But what Curtis does here is untidier, harder to achieve, newer and ultimately more rewarding. Nerissa is living day to day after losing everything, so she isn’t party to what would be the central plot in a more traditional dystopia. The parts she discovers, especially the transhumanism elements of the final act, feel earned and contextualized precisely because she discovers them when she does….

 As I said when making my selection of books to review for the Shadow Clarke, I didn’t expect to see Ian McDonald’s Luna: Wolf Moon on the shortlist. Having read it, I don’t have any direct criticism of the Clarke jury for neglecting it but that is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the novel. In fact, I enjoyed it very much and also its predecessor, Luna: New Moon, which I read immediately beforehand. That, of course, is one of the problems with considering a sequel or volume from a series for an award; it is going to be difficult to judge it without knowledge of the preceding story. Especially, when, as in this case, we are dealing with the middle volume in a trilogy which directly picks up strands from the first volume and also does recognisable work in setting up its successor. Therefore, despite the fact that Luna: Wolf Moon contains a strong narrative arc of its own and leaves the reader feeling as satisfied as if they have read a standalone novel, it is nonetheless not directly comparable because it is not entirely self-contained. Experience suggests that judges are generally inclined to favour the single-volume work (and on a practical level they are probably unwilling to read earlier series volumes on top of lengthy submission lists).

To kick off my Shadow Clarke experience, I’ve started with John Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire, a novel based on a singularly intriguing premise. In a far distant future, humanity exists in an interplanetary empire called the Interdependency, its far-flung outposts connected by the Flow: a series of natural space-time currents that facilitate fast travel between different parts of the universe. As the Flow exists without concern for human planetary preferences – and as the Flow route to Earth was lost centuries ago – the majority of people live underground, in planetary habitats or in space stations along these Flow routes, with trade and travel controlled by aristocratic Guild families. Only one habitable world exists: the planet of End, so-called because it’s the most distant realm in the Interdependency, accessible only by a single pair of Flow streams connecting it to Hub, where the Emperox rules. But the Flow, so long assumed stable, is collapsing, threatening the survival of the entire Interdependency – and, as a consequence, of the human race….

…When I originally added Water & Glass to my short list, I suspected that the plot’s concern with a group of (largely European-coded) survivors onboard a submarine, the Baleen, would herald “an already present anxiety about intimacy, trauma, and reproductive concerns.” Given its thematic concerns from the blurb, I guessed that as a Noah’s Ark tale, the plot would likely revolve around questions of “precariousness and interdependent survival, resettling, and the possibility or repopulation or extinction,” though within the frameworks of the novel itself they were unable to gather more than a few animals, rather than any idea of two of a wide variety. Since reproduction felt central to Water & Glass’ concerns, the blurb itself led me to worry about the likelihood of queerphobia or eugenics in play, and unfortunately this assumption is almost entirely borne out. While queerness is entirely and frustratingly absented from this narrative (its own form of queerphobia), a concern with eugenics and human evolution through human-animal gene splicing is one of the grand revelations of the piece….

Dreams Before the Start of Time is beautifully written. The prose is clear, sometimes sparse, quite subtle in the way it provides a smooth emotional surface whilst signalling a great depth of feeling within the many characters. It is also an excellent science fiction novel-of-ideas, with clear themes and careful working out of the societal implications of new technology. How wonderful! …

American War has been short-listed for the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke award. A selection of our panel of shadow jurors respond to the novel below…

Rich with warmth and suspense and surprise, Spaceman of Bohemia is an exuberant delight from start to finish. Very seldom has a novel this profound taken readers on a journey of such boundless entertainment and sheer fun. It has been short-listed for the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke award. A selection of our panel of shadow jurors respond to the novel below…

HUMANKIND IS EXTINCT.

Wiped out in a global uprising by the very machines made to serve them. Now the world is controlled by OWIs — vast mainframes that have assimilated the minds of millions of robots.

But not all robots are willing to cede their individuality, and Brittle is one of the holdouts.

Left to my own devices, it’s rare for me to write criticism for books I haven’t finished. If I find a book boring or if it simply isn’t for me, there’s little motive to write a partial review to that effect, and so I don’t say anything; alternatively, if a work annoys me so much that I want to nitpick it in detail, I usually spite-read the entirety to be sure my facts are in order. In this instance, however, I feel justified in submitting criticism based on partial reads for two main reasons. Firstly, the Shadow Clarke jury is, by design and definition, reactive: we are here to pass judgement on award selections that have already been made by other people, and to do so in only 300-500 words per book. That being so, while we’ve certainly been given the scope and opportunity to write longer, more in-depth criticisms if we want, at base, we’ve been asked to provide a pass/fail grade on whether we feel a particular book merited its inclusion on the shortlist, with only a cursory explanation as to why.

Which leads to the second point: we are doing this on a fairly tight schedule which – for me, personally – overlaps with packing up my house and family in preparation for an international move. Work on the Shadow Clarke is unpaid, done as a labour of love for the genre; and while I’m happy to participate on those conditions, I am not a masochist….

Reading American War directly after Borne is an interesting experience, if not exactly a cheerful one. Where Vandermeer’s novel carefully files the comfort of specific geography off every element of it’s world, El Akkad builds his dystopian America in painful familiarity. North and South, Blue and Red. CNN and Fox. The political and ideological dividing lines that it’s impossible to avoid in the hourly news cycle are the frame work for El Akkad’s novel. Or at the very least, the foundation.

In a near-future London, Millie Dack places her hand on her belly to feel her baby kick, resolute in her decision to be a single parent. Across town, her closest friend—a hungover Toni Munroe—steps into the shower and places her hand on a medic console. The diagnosis is devastating.

In this stunning, bittersweet family saga, Millie and Toni experience the aftershocks of human progress as their children and grandchildren embrace new ways of making babies. When infertility is a thing of the past, a man can create a child without a woman, a woman can create a child without a man, and artificial wombs eliminate the struggles of pregnancy. But what does it mean to be a parent? A child? A family?

Through a series of interconnected vignettes that spans five generations and three continents, this emotionally taut story explores the anxieties that arise when the science of fertility claims to deliver all the answers.

It has been short-listed for the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke award. A selection of our panel of shadow jurors respond to the novel below…

…Cargill is a screenwriter first and foremost and its impossible not to see the influence of his primary craft here. That’s not a criticism either, there’s no sense of this being a lightly expanded movie treatment designed to be dropped onto a producer’s desk as an unusually fancy leave behind. Rather, this is a book steeped in the iconography and tempo of modern American cinema and that’s both interesting and not always a good thing for book or reader….

On a small isolated island, there’s a community that lives by its own rules. Boys grow up knowing they will one day take charge, while girls know they will be married and pregnant within moments of hitting womanhood.

But before that time comes, a ritual offers children an exhilarating reprieve. Every summer they are turned out onto their doorsteps, to roam the island, sleep on the beach and build camps in trees. To be free.

At the end of one of such summer, one of the younger girls sees something she was never supposed to see. And she returns home with a truth that could bring their island world to its knees.

It has been short-listed for the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke award. A selection of our panel of shadow jurors respond to the novel below…

…The greatest problem for me with Gather the Daughters is that no one is allowed to behave or think or speak like an adult. (We have only to think of the depth of field achieved by Margaret Atwood in her characterisation of The Handmaid’s Tale to see how Melamed’s novel is deficient in this regard.) A narrative that depends on compliance will inevitably run out of steam, as this one does. History has proved to us time and again that holding down a dictatorship is difficult work – sooner rather than later the peasants begin to uncover the injustices and deceptions perpetrated against them, and start to revolt. You have to kill a lot of people to keep these systems going, and even so your days as a despot are numbered from the beginning. On the island, the only reason nothing has come unstuck for the Wanderers so far is because everyone else in the community insists on behaving like characters in a YA dystopia….

It has been short-listed for the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke award. A selection of our panel of shadow jurors respond to the novel below…

What is it I look for in science fiction? The answer will be different for everyone, of course, and some who followed last year’s Shadow Clarke project may have come away with the impression that I don’t really like science fiction at all, that I’ll always find something to gripe about because that’s the kind of critic I am.

The truth is that I want books to be brilliant, and that’s what I go in hoping, every time. Most of all I hope to be shocked and surprised by a new voice or a new idea or a new way with words, to be seduced by science fiction all over again. Although Jeff VanderMeer can scarcely be described as a new voice, the effect of reading Borne has been transfiguring, like water after drought. After a long dry spell in which I honestly thought I’d had it with the genre, encountering Borne has left me on a high, inspired to join in the conversation once again.

(5) EXERCISE YOUR FRANCHISE. One of File 770’s self-imposed duties is to chronicle the many genre awards. Few are as exotic as Chuck Wendig’s — “Awkward Author Contest 2018: Winner, And Now It’s Your Turn”. He has picked JD Buffington as the first winner, and called on his blog readers to vote on the other entries.

Here are the rest — there are 40 more submissions.

They are utterly weird and wonderful. You will find some familiar faces in here, perhaps.

Your job now is:

Pick your favorite.

Just one.

JUST ONE.

Go to the comments section below.

Type in the number of your favorite photo — the number that corresponds with the photo in Flickr. Aka, the photo’s title.

That’s it.

Type nothing else, or your vote may not be counted.

Do not choose two.

Choose one, type only the number.

We’ll keep voting open till Wednesday, July 25th.

Enjoy. Vote. See you on the other side.

(6) COMICS SECTION.

  • A bad pun produced by a great mashup of comic and movie references in Brevity.

(7) BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS. Business Insider lists “15 books famous scientists think you should read”.

We compiled a list of book recommendations from a handful of illustrious minds by combing the web for quotes, checking out personal blogs, and just asking them directly. The picks below come from popular scientists including author and television personality Bill Nye, surgeon-turned-writer Siddhartha Mukherjee, and globe-trotting primatologist Jane Goodall.

The books they’ve recommended range from high fantasy, like Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings,” to canonical, like Plato’s seminal work “The Republic.”

Here are 15 books that brilliant scientists consider must-reads…

(8) AIR CAB. No discussion of what fares will be: “Rolls Royce develops propulsion system for flying taxi”.

Rolls said the initial concept for EVTOL used gas turbine technology to generate electricity to power six electric propulsors, specially designed to have a low noise profile.

Its wings would be able to rotate 90 degrees, enabling the vehicle to take off or land vertically. It could also use existing heliports and airports.

“We believe that given the work we are doing today to develop hybrid electric propulsion capabilities, this model could be available by the early to mid 2020s, provided that a viable commercial model for its introduction can be created,” the firm said.

(9) PROJECT LAUNCHED. The BBC reports — “Lift-off for Scotland: Sutherland to host first UK spaceport”.

Lockheed has made no secret of its desire to bring the Electron rocket to Scotland. Currently, this vehicle flies out of New Zealand.

A British version of the rocket would have an upper-stage developed and built at LM’s UK HQ in Ampthill, Bedfordshire.

“This is a defining moment for UK Space,” a spokesperson for the company told BBC News. “Lockheed Martin has been working with Britain for over 80 years and we stand ready to support the development of UK launch capability should our extensive experience in developing space infrastructure be called upon.”

(10) INFLUENTIAL ANIME. In the Washington Post, Hau Chu looks at the 30th anniversary of Akira (first released in Japan on July 15, 1988) and sees it as “inspiring a generation of works to come”, including “Stranger Things,” a Kanye West music video, and Rian Johnson’s Looper: “Why the pioneering Japanese anime ‘Akira’ is still relevant 30 years later”.

For the film’s cyberpunk look, Otomo drew from his own pop culture obsessions, including “Blade Runner,” which influenced the towering skyscrapers of Neo Tokyo, and “Tron,” whose neon-illuminated motorcycles inspired the hordes of biker gangs.

Otomo had been a respected illustrator of manga, Japanese comics. But for “Akira,” instead of trying to match his anime peers in Japan, he was working from European comic artists such as Moebius — an influential artist for the legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. Otomo’s drawings for “Akira” were distinctive for their realism; he used lighting, color and an attention to detail to create a vivid, lived-in space.

(11) DRAGONS FOREVER. In August, the USPS will issue a set of stamps featuring dragons: “Postal Service to Feature Mythological Creatures on Stamps at APS National Summer Convention Stamp Show”.

The U.S. Postal Service will be joined by the American Philatelic Society (APS) to unveil four colorful stamp designs of 16 Forever stamps depicting dragons — the high-flying, fire-breathing mythological creatures that have roamed our imaginations for millennia — at the APS national summer convention and stamp show Aug. 9-12 in Columbus, OH.

“We’re very excited to bring these beautiful stamps to the 132nd annual APS convention,” said U.S. Postal Service Stamp Services Director Mary-Anne Penner. “This is one of the premier stamp shows in America and serves as an excellent platform to showcase these special stamps.”

…The new stamps will be issued as a pane of 16 stamps showcasing one of four designs: a green fire-breathing dragon towering over a medieval-inspired castle; a purple dragon with orange wings and sharp black armor on its back snaking around a white castle; a black dragon with green wings and green armor on its back swooping past a ship on the sea; and a wingless orange dragon weaving its way around a pagoda.

The stamps feature digital illustrations created by artist Don Clark of Invisible Creature studio.

(12) TRAILER PARK. 7 Splinters in Time — now in theaters.

Directed by: Gabriel Judet-Weinshel Detective Darius Lefaux is called to identify a body that is identical to him. As he dives into the harrowing case, different versions of himself begin to emerge and haunting memories of lives not lived fill his mind. Darius soon realizes that not all versions of himself are good and that he must find his other self, before it finds him.

 

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

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.]