Pixel Scroll 3/30/18 Round The Decay Of That Colossal Scroll, Boxless And Bare, The Lone And Level Pixels Stretch Away

(1) WSJ’S TOP SF OF 2017. Congratulations to all the authors who made the Wall Street Journal’s list of best 5 sf novels of the year 2017. Especially Gregory Benford, who sent me the news item. (The list came out in December but is behind a paywall.)

  • All Our Wrong Todays, by Elan Mastai
  • The Berlin Project, by Gregory Benford
  • Change Agent, by Daniel Suarez
  • Artemis, by Andy Weir
  • The Genius Plague by David Walton

(2) THEORIES OF EVOLUTION AND TIME TRAVEL. The Conversation’s Jordi Paps says the answer to the question “Would stepping on the first butterfly really change the history of evolution?” depends on how you believe evolution works.

Science fiction writers can’t seem to agree on the rules of time travel. Sometimes, as in Doctor Who (above), characters can travel in time and affect small events without appearing to alter the grand course of history. In other stories, such as Back To The Future, even the tiniest of the time travellers’ actions in the past produce major ripples that unpredictably change the future.

Evolutionary biologists have been holding a similar debate about how evolution works for decades. In 1989 (the year of Back To The Future Part II), the American palaeontologist Stephen Jay Gould published his timeless book Wonderful Life, named after the classic movie that also involves time travel of sorts. In it, he proposed a thought experiment: what would happen if you could replay life’s tape, rewinding the history of evolution and running it again? Would you still see the same movie with all the evolutionary events playing out as before? Or would it be more like a reboot, with species evolving in different ways?

(3) RESOLVED. Rocket Stack Rank will comply with Charles Payseur’s request to drop him from the list of reviewers they track.

Charles Payseur acknowledged their response, and discussed some of comments made by Filers since the request hit the news yesterday. Jump on his thread here:

(4) WFC RATES WILL RISE. World Fantasy Convention 2018 registration rates are due to increase on April 1, from $200 to $250 for a full attending membership. If you become a member now you will still have time to nominate for this year’s World Fantasy Awards (for which the deadline is May 31.)

WFC2018 will be held at the Baltimore Renaissance Harborplace Hotel, Nov 1–4, hosted by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS) and Washington Science Fiction Association (WSFA).

(5) THE BRADBURY FAMILY. On April 19, the Pasadena Museum of History presents a lecture by one of his daughters about “Growing Up with Ray Bradbury”.

Ray Bradbury’s daughter Ramona invites you to pull up a chair in her virtual living room as she shares an intimate evening of memories about growing up in the eclectic Bradbury household in the Cheviot Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles. The format is a conversation with historian Richard Schave (Esotouric Bus Adventures, Los Angeles), followed by a Q & A session.

Ramona will reminisce about life with her famous father, and share rare family photos and stories of weekend excursions to Hollywood Boulevard book shops and the Palos Verdes Peninsula (made more adventurous because her father didn’t drive!), eccentric family friends, special gatherings, and important public events.

(6) TWO ON ONE. Two NPR reviewers take on Ready Player One:

MONDELLO: A Willy Wonka prize worth playing for if you’re a gamer and a movie conceit worth playing with if you’re Steven Spielberg. Ernest Cline’s novel gave Halliday a consuming nostalgia for the 1980s, and who better to bring that to the screen? The filmmaker crams every corner of Wade’s cyberscapes with Deloreans, Batmobiles, aliens, King Kong, The Iron Giant. There’s Prince and Van Halen on the soundtrack and even a sequence where Spielberg lets loose his inner Kubrick. Wade, who calls himself Parzival in the OASIS, teams up with his best buddy, Aech…

Like the popular 2011 Ernest Cline science fiction novel on which it’s based, “Ready Player One” is an extended valentine to those pop culture relics, most of which came out in the ’80s and are thus beloved by people who grew up watching, well, Steven Spielberg movies. Spielberg avoids any allusions to his own films apart from a stray dinosaur who may or may not hail from “Jurassic Park.” But as one of the undisputed high priests of American popular entertainment, he is in many ways enshrining his own legacy. Frankly, I wish he’d been more careful with it.

(7) BOSON PURSUIT. Researchers say a “Higgs factory a ‘must for big physics'”.

Physicists had hoped that the [Large Hadron Collider] would turn up evidence of physics phenomena not explained by the Standard Model. So far, efforts to detect new physics have come away empty-handed, but studying the Higgs in more detail might break the impasse.

A successor to the Large Hadron Collider would be designed in a way that allows scientists to zero in on the Higgs boson.

The LHC works by smashing beams of proton particles together, but the collisions that produce the Higgs also produce many other particles. This makes it complicated to work out which collisions produce the Higgs boson.

A different type of particle smasher, called an electron-positron collider, should produce only a Higgs and another particle called a Z boson.

(8) VOYAGE TO THE MOON. A Kickstarter to fund the English translation of Georges Méliès’ autobiography hit its target in the first couple of days.

81 years ago, at the age of 77, Georges Méliès – the father of narrative and fantastical film – hand-wrote his autobiography; the story of the creation of cinema from not only a firsthand witness but also its greatest innovator. It has been completely unavailable since 1945 and has never been translated into English. This is one of the great unseen texts of cinema history.

I’ve had it translated. And it’s GREAT! Reading it blew my film-loving mind. A voice from history telling me in his own words about how cinema began and his role in it. Now I need your help to rescue this important, illuminating and fascinating testimony, to get it back into print and where it truly belongs – in our hands and on our bookshelves.

…. In 1937, a year before he died, he wrote longhand a 32 page autobiography detailing his life, his work and his observations on both. He sent it to a film historian who was writing a book about him. The first 500 copies of this book were packaged with a facsimile of the manuscript. What remains of that print run exists now only in the jealously guarded collections of film enthusiasts who have been lucky or wealthy enough to secure one.

This memoir is an enthralling story in which Méliès guides us from his childhood into his early career, explaining how all of the elements fell into place to put him in the perfect position to become a pioneer of cinema. He talks about becoming one of the first people in the world to see a projected moving image at a private demonstration by the Lumiére brothers and the international mission this inspired him to take to become a part of the new medium. He explains how and why he became the first impressario of cinema, how he built France’s first film studio and how he invented special effects techniques and helped define the very format of cinematic film. More than this, it’s a human story; at times braggadocios, joyous, humble and bitter. We learn how times and the industry changed, how he became the first victim of film piracy and how he ended up in his old age, forgotten, broke and selling toys and sweets in a tiny stall in Montparnasse train station. Most interesting to me was discovering that he was a man already aware of his legacy and surprisingly unhappy about how he could see he was going to be remembered. His memoir crackles with life and is a vivid account of the dawn of movies from its most colourful participant.

(9) HEAR FRITZ LEIBER. Fanac.org’s new YouTube video pairs a sound recording of Fritz Leiber’s “Monsters And Monster Lovers” talk from the 1964 Worldcon with selected images.

Pacificon II, the 22nd World Science Fiction Convention, was held in Oakland, CA in 1964. In this interesting audio with images, Fritz Leiber speaks eloquently about his favorite literary monsters (from Yog Sothoth to the forest in Peer Gynt), the relationship of science fiction to traditional monsters, why we are drawn to these characters, and on horror in a time of war. The first 10 minutes or so are a loving listing of characters, and the meat of the talk starts after that. This material was provided by The Southern California Institute for Fan Interests (SCIFI), and Jerome Scott, Director of Projects for SCIFI in LA.

 

(10) MAYNARD OBIT. Bill Maynard (1928-2018): British actor, died March 30, aged 89. Genre appearances: You Too Can Have a Body (1960), The Boy with Two Heads (all seven episodes, 1974), Zodiac (one episode, 1974).

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 30, 1988 Beetlejuice premiered. The Hollywood Reporter has reposted its review of the film.
  • March 30, 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hit theaters.

(12) BIRTHDAY AUTHOR. Steven H Silver’s “Birthday Reviews” series at Black Gate celebrates “Chad Oliver’s ‘Transformer’”.

Oliver’s writing career began with the publication of the short story “The Land of Lost Content” in the November 1950 issue of Super Science Stories. He published short fiction through his career, with his final story published in 1991. During that time, he also published six novels and collaborated occasionally with Charles Beaumont and Garvin Berry. His 1984 story “Ghost Town” was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Short Story.

(13) WILD ANIMAL WARNING. Your Charlton Police Department knows some coyotes are more dangerous to themselves.

(14) ACE REPORTER. Jon Del Arroz says he will be on hand for the Hugo finalist announcement at the 7 Stars Bar & Grill in San Jose tomorrow. The bar’s online schedule promises there will be Bottomless Mimosas and karaoke on Saturday – no wonder he can’t stay away!

(15) FREE READ. The winner of the “Quantum Shorts” fiction contest has been posted.

Scientific American and Nature partnered with the Center for Quantum Technologies in Singapore, which organizes the annual competition….

The mind-bending possibilities of quantum physics lend themselves to philosophy—to wondering about the theory’s implications for the meaning of life, the idea of free will, the fate of us all. A talented pool of writers have capitalized on those implications to produce an impressive array of entries in this year’s Quantum Shorts contest, which invites short fiction based on the ideas of quantum mechanics. Scientific American and Nature partnered with the Center for Quantum Technologies in Singapore, which organizes the annual competition. Judges, including Scientific American and Nature editors, selected a winner and runner-up in two categories—“open” and “youth”—and online voting identified a “people’s choice” favorite; all winners will receive a cash award, a certificate and an engraved trophy.

(16) NEW FORNAX. Charles Rector’s 21st issue of his fanzine Fornax [PDF file] is available at EFanzines. Here’s what’s inside —

Among other things is an essay about how I was treated as a handicapped student by gym teachers while I was in the public schools during the 1970’s.  There is also an essay about how the Big Tech companies such as Google, Twitter and You Tube have been using their power to censor political speech by conservatives and socialists and how this all ties in with the allegations that all anti-establishment activity is tied in with Vladimir Putin and his gang in Russia.  There is also an essay about irresponsible rhetoric such as Guy H. Lillian III’s defense of Al Franken and this Daniel Greenfield character who claims that we are on the verge of “civil war” because there is a great deal of opposition to the Trump Administration. There is also a look back at the Solar Empire game of yesteryear.

There are also some essays by both Robin Bright and Gerd Maximovic as well as poetry by Denny E. Marshall.

(17) RED PELT, BLUE PELT. Huffington Post reports “Alt-Right Furries Are Raging Online, And Leftist Furries Wonder What Is To Be Done”.

…However, the vocal subgroup of Alt-Furries has been hard at work asserting their space within the movement of late, and it’s this very spirit of inclusivity they wish to expunge.

“The furry ‘community’ is a fandom that has been overrun by liberal ‘tolerance’ and ‘acceptance’ and as a result it’s become sanctuary to hardcore paedophiles and
people with serious mental problems,” the unnamed author of Nazi furry erotica “The Furred Reich” told The New Statesman, which has been doggedly covering the Alt-Furry scene for years.

The core furry community, then, finds itself in quite the bind: Can a group founded upon the idea of consummate tolerance embrace a clique that’s so staunchly intolerant?

For the opposing furries leading an outright fight against the alt-right, the answer is no. Dogpatch Press, a furry news source offering “fluff pieces every week day,” often rails against Alt-Furries and their attempts at indoctrination. In February, a Dogpatch writer with the fursona Patch O’Furr published a “deep dive into the Altfurry mission to ‘redpill’ fandom with hate,” warning readers about the #AltFurry mission to indoctrinate members of the fandom and spread its white supremacist teachings.

According to O’Furr, furry fandom is a perfect venue for alt-right recruiters. Just as Pepe the Frog (RIP) served as a seemingly harmless, comedic package through which to promulgate racist, misogynist and xenophobic beliefs, fursonas can act as effective, hirsute fronts for extreme views. As Furry fandom member Deo elaborated in a Medium post, furry communities ? often populated by “socially awkward internet nerds” ? are prime targets for alt-right trolls, who target young people, outsiders and insecure, white men.

(18) KERMODE. Here are three recent genre film reviews by YouTuber Mark Kermode.

  • Ready Player One

“Really properly good fun!”

 

  • Annihilation (audio only)

“Shame I didn’t get the chance to see it in the cinema” and “a really fine piece of work”

 

  • A Wrinkle in Time

“I’d rather a film aimed high and tripped than played it safe, and I think A Wrinkle in Time does that”

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Steve Green, Chip Hitchcock, IanP,Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, John A Arkansawyer, Gregory Benford, Ann Marie Rudolph, Brian Z., Charles Rector, with Carl Slaughter as The Beaver for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]

Pixel Scroll 8/11/17 “Scrollpathy for the Pixel” By The Scrolling Stones

(1) RECORD LONGEVITY. Who knew?

Or as Paul Mackintosh says at Teleread: “Hugo Awards get their own award – from the Guinness Book of World Records”.

In the course of Worldcon 75, the organizers have just announced that “the Hugo Awards have been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest-running science fiction award.”

(2) HUGO VOTING STATISTICS. If you haven’t already seen them, here’s where you can download the reports.

(3)  IT CAUSES ME TO TINGLE. Chuck knew it all along. And had a book ready to go.

(4) BONUS WOMBAT COVERAGE. She dared to enter the Hugo Losers Party.

(5) HUGO VOTING ELIGIBILITY CHANGE. Something else passed at the business meeting —

(6) WORLDCON 75 DAILY NEWZINE. The Worldcon daily zine reports there were 4,759 visitors on Day 1. Who knows what other tidbits you’ll find in the issues linked here?

(7) ANOTHER BRILLIANT OBSERVATION. From a W75 panel:

Er, were we really that reluctant we were to being saved by heroes played by William Shatner and Lorne Greene?

(8) THE WATCHER. Jo Lindsay Walton shares sightings of “Power Couples of WorldCon: A Field Guide”.

Malcolm Devlin and Helen Marshall. Travellers to antique lands frequently flock to Shelley’s two vast and trunkless legs of stone. But why not squint up with the locals into the desert firmament azure, where hover two vast and trunkless arms of flame, Helen and Malcolm?

(9) CYCLIC HISTORY. Ah yes. Those who don’t know the lessons of fanhistory are doomed to repeat them. As are those who do know them.

(10) WIZARDLY INTERIOR DÉCOR. The Evening Standard knows where to find it: “Primark works its magic with a new Harry Potter collection”.

Witches and wizards the world over will rejoice this week at the news that Primark has announced it will be introducing a Harry Potter range to its stores in honour of the famous book series’ 20th anniversary.

The high street retailer, which is famed for its bargains, has created an official range of clothing, stationery and home accessories in line with the wizarding theme which will be available in shops from next week.

Fans of the fantasy world will be able to pick up everything from potion shaped fairy lights (£8) to cauldron mugs (£6) with some items costing as little as £2.

The wait will finally be over for those after their Hogwarts acceptance letter too, which can be bought on a cushion for £4 and whether you’re a Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin, you’ll be able to pick up a pair of pyjamas in your house colours for just £6.

(11) BANK WITH THE BARD. Here’s what the world has been waiting for: “Batman 1966 Shakespeare Bust Bank”.

To the Batpoles! This awesome 20? tall replica of the Shakespeare bust from the 1966 Batman TV series doubles as a coin bank. Like the prop, the coin slot (along with the customary dial and button) is hidden inside the bust’s neck. See it unboxed on video here.

(12) WALKING DEAD CREATOR ANKLES TO AMAZON. From io9: “Walking Dead Creator Robert Kirkman Leaving AMC, Signs New TV Deal With Amazon”.

The Walking Dead has been a big money-making success at AMC, pulling in an impressive amount of viewers for the network. But Skybound—the entertainment company founded by The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman—just announced that Amazon will be the home of all their new TV content moving forward.

(13) COMIC SECTION. Chip Hitchcock found more on autonomous cars in Arctic Circle.

(14) THE TRUE SIGN OF QUALITY. Camestros Felapton (or was it Timothy?) put his marketing and design skills to the test.

(15) NUCLEAR FREE ZONE. The South China Morning Post makes an appeal: “If Trump must start a nuclear war, at least let us finish Game of Thrones first”.

I’m not worried about American lives above everyone else’s – hopefully nobody has to die because of two unhinged custodians of nuclear power taking brinkmanship too far – but there is one American who must be kept safe, no matter what.

I’m talking about George R. R. Martin, the author of the epic fantasy book series, A Song of Ice and Fire, better known to most people as Game of Thrones, the HBO hit series that is, hands down, the best show on TV these days.

… But if you’ve read the books, you’ll agree that the TV show is not a patch on Martin’s writing and sheer storytelling genius. He makes The Lord of the Rings look like a slow ride to grandma’s cottage. George R.R. Martin is J. R.R. Tolkien on steroids, and then some.

(16) LOST LIGHT. Electric Lit talks to someone who has seen Octavia Butler’s papers at the Huntington: “Now More than Ever, We Wish We Had These Lost Octavia Butler Novels”

In 2006, Butler died of a stroke outside her home in Lake Forest Park, Washington. Her many papers now reside at the Huntington, a private library in San Marino, California. Curator Natalie Russell describes the collection as including “8,000 manuscripts, letters and photographs and an additional 80 boxes of ephemera.”

On display there now are numerous treasures, including working manuscript pages from The Parable of the Sower covered in her brightly colored notes: “More Sharing; More Sickness; More Death; More Racism; More Hispanics; More High Tech.”

There are the beautiful, bold affirmations that recently went viral online, which she wrote to frame her motives for writing: “Tell Stories Filled With Facts. Make People Touch and Taste and KNOW. Make People FEEL! FEEL! FEEL!” On one page of her journals she visualized the success that she desired: “I am a Bestselling Writer. I write Bestselling Books And Excellent Short Stories. Both Books and Short Stories win prizes and awards.”

But what is not on public view are the drafts?—?the things she had hoped to write someday and never did, including The Parable of the Trickster.

Scholar Gerry Canavan described getting a look at that work-in-progress for the LA Review of Books in 2014:

Last December I had the improbable privilege to be the very first scholar to open the boxes at the Huntington that contain what Butler had written of Trickster before her death. What I found were dozens upon dozens of false starts for the novel, some petering out after twenty or thirty pages, others after just two or three; this cycle of narrative failure is recorded over hundreds of pages of discarded drafts. Frustrated by writer’s block, frustrated by blood pressure medication that she felt inhibited her creativity and vitality, and frustrated by the sense that she had no story for Trickster, only a “situation,” Butler started and stopped the novel over and over again from 1989 until her death, never getting far from the beginning.

The novel’s many abandoned openings revolve around another woman, Imara, living on an Earthseed colony in the future on a planet called “Bow,” far from Earth. It is not the heaven that was hoped for, but “gray, dank, and utterly miserable.” The people of Bow cannot return to Earth and are immeasurably homesick. Butler wrote in a note, “Think of our homesickness as a phantom-limb pain?—?a somehow neurologically incomplete amputation. Think of problems with the new world as graft-versus-host disease?—?a mutual attempt at rejection.”

(17) NEVERTHELESS. Mindy Klasky has put together an anthology by Book View Café authors, “Nevertheless, She Persisted”. It has released in July Here’s the table of contents.

“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Those were the words of Mitch McConnell after he banned Senator Elizabeth Warren from speaking on the floor of the United States Senate. In reaction to the bitter partisanship in Trump’s United States of America, nineteen Book View Café authors celebrate women who persist through tales of triumph—in the past, present, future, and other worlds.

From the halls of Ancient Greece to the vast space between stars, each story illustrates tenacity as women overcome challenges—from society, from beloved family and friends, and even from their own fears. These strong heroines explore the humor and tragedy of persistence in stories that range from romance to historical fiction, from fantasy to science fiction.

From tale to tale, every woman stands firm: a light against the darkness.

Table of Contents:

  • “Daughter of Necessity” by Marie Brennan
  • “Sisters” by Leah Cutter
  • “Unmasking the Ancient Light” by Deborah J. Ross
  • “Alea Iacta Est” by Marissa Doyle
  • “How Best to Serve” from A Call to Arms by P.G. Nagle
  • “After Eden” by Gillian Polack
  • “Reset” by Sara Stamey
  • “A Very, Wary Christmas” by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel
  • “Making Love” by Brenda Clough
  • “Den of Iniquity” by Irene Radford
  • “Digger Lady” by Amy Sterling Casil
  • “Tumbling Blocks” by Mindy Klasky
  • “The Purge” by Jennifer Stevenson
  • “If It Ain’t Broke” by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
  • “Chataqua” by Nancy Jane Moore
  • “Bearing Shadows” by Dave Smeds
  • “In Search of Laria” by Doranna Durgin
  • “Tax Season” by Judith Tarr
  • “Little Faces” by Vonda N. McIntyre

(18) RECOMMENDED TO PRODUCERS. Observation Deck tells “Why Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser Should Be the Next Game of Thrones”

Fritz Leiber, a science fiction and fantasy author, wrote a story in 1939 called “Two Sought Adventure” starring Fafhrd, a large barbarian from the frozen North, and the Gray Mouser, a taciturn thief. Soon, Leiber realized he could use these characters to not only poke fun at the Conan the Barbarian-type stories that pervaded fantasy magazines, but to also construct his own fantasy world and deconstruct a various number of characters and tropes.

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser sold their services to anyone with the right coin — more importantly, Mouser was a former member of the Thieves’ Guild and would often go up against his former employers. But they also went on adventures due to bets or because they wanted to have a bit of fun. Sometimes they got into trouble because of drink or because of women — they were often subject to the Cartwright Curse, where their love interests ended up dead by the end of the story. However, later stories gave both of them long-term girlfriends, even if one of them was, uh, a big unconventional.*

* One of Mouser’s girlfriends was Kreeshka, a ghoul, whose skin and organs are all invisible. Which means she looks like an animated skeleton. Whatever you do, don’t think about their sex life.

(19) BUGS, ZILLIONS OF ‘EM.  Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars trailer #3:

(20) SHOOTING AND BLOWING UP. Kingsman 2 trailer #3 TV spot.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Lee Whiteside, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 11/3/16 A Pixel Full of Sound And Fury, Scrolling Nothing

(1) CODES OF CONDUCT. Dave McCarty and Helen Montgomery share thoughts about administering Codes of Conduct (CoC) in “The Shield or the Weapon” at Copious Free Time. These excerpts encompass some of their more challenging points, but only a reading of the post can do justice to all the nuances they bring out.

DAVE McCARTY: …As another example, there was a time a few years ago where Bob(2) brought a new CoC for their convention to a fairly public convention runner forum (presumably for review and input).  As with most CoCs, there was a lot there that was good but at least a few people had some push back on some of the policies.  One of the pieces of feedback about one or two specific policies was that they were worded in a way that made them overly broad…almost everyone attending Bob(3)con would be in violation of these sections of the CoC.

In response to the feedback, Bob(2) stated that they didn’t believe these parts of the CoC were problematic since the organizers knew who they would enforce them against.

Selective enforcement is *absolutely* a weapon and it’s a heinous one.  It’s one of the larger issues disenfranchised groups have in regular life…it’s one of the preferred tools of racism and sexism and I would *bet* almost any other “ism” folks can throw at me.

If we are going into something with the thought of “how do we safeguard our member’s enjoyment”, I find it exceedingly unlikely that we ever work our way to policies designed to be used against *specific* people or even *narrow* groups.

This is the soul of the issue on CoC issues for me.  Are we trying to protect or are we trying to remove.  Is this about preventing harm or seeking retribution?…

HELEN MONTGOMERY: …About 10 years ago I was involved in writing the CoC for Bob(6)con.  The group decided early on that we didn’t want just an anti-harassment policy, because there were a lot of other behaviors that can make a convention less safe and less fun.  So we went with the broader CoC.  The intent is a shield – here’s how to act and not act so that everyone has a good time.  It’s a much longer version of Wheaton’s Law – don’t be a dick.  We went in with the assumption that most of our attendees didn’t want to violate Wheaton’s Law.  We incorporated what attendees should do if there are problems, starting with “try talking to them if you feel comfortable doing so” and we listed that consequences of violating the CoC included but were not limited to X, Y, and Z.  We recognized that behaviors and circumstances are made up of shades of gray, and we gave ourselves flexibility to work with that reality.

Fast forward to a recent Bob(6)con.  There’s a guy, Bob(7), who has become well-known in the larger community as being someone who has sexually harassed women.  At least one convention has banned him, albeit with much Sturm und Drang in the process.  He then shows up on our membership list.  He’s never been accused of causing any problems at Bob(6)con.  What’s a con to do?

As luck would have it, I was Board President at the time.  (Pardon me whilst I wipe away the sarcasm that just dripped from that sentence.)  There was much internal discussion, and ultimately we stood by what has been our stance from the beginning with our CoC – we do not pre-emptively ban people from Bob(6)con….

(2) LIST KICKER. Looking over “The Ars Technica science fiction bucket list – 42 movies every geek must see” I came away convinced the list could have been a lot shorter – they may be good, but are Enemy Mine and WALL*E indispensable viewing? — and yet it does bring to people’s attention previously unsuspected gems:

Primer (2004)

Shot on the cheap in and around Austin, this 2004 film about a pair of engineers who accidentally discover time travel in their garage is not easy to follow the first time you see it. The characters mumble dialog into their chests just like how real humans talk, the narrators telling the story might be lying, and the same events are shown from multiple points of view—we’re never sure what’s really real. But the joy, they say, is in the journey, and trying to piece together exactly what the hell happens in this story of unexplained paradoxes is part of the fun. Primer is that rare kind of film that not only benefits from repeat viewings but also manages to show you something new every time you watch it.

(3) UNPLANNED OBSOLESCENCE. John Scalzi was spun off onto an alternate timeline last night. Did you notice? — “The Cubs, the 108-Year-Long Streak, and Old Man’s War”.

This year, as the Chicago Cubs came closer and closer to winning a World Series, people wondered what that might mean for the Old Man’s War series of books. After all, in several places I had people in the books discussing the Chicago Cubs and their inability to win a World Series, and in The Human Division, it’s actually a plot point. So what happens to those books, now that the Cubs, after 108 years, have won a World Series?….

Now the Old Man’s War books suffer from the same problem as all the science fiction stories before 1969 that named a first man on the moon, or the ones that imagined canals on Mars. The real world caught up to them and passed them by, waving as it did so.

And that’s okay. This is the risk you take when you put a plot point in your books that’s contingent on the real world….

(4) TRUNK STORIES. James Davis Nicoll at Young People Read Old SFF unleashed his test audience on Fritz Leiber’s “A Pail of Air” this time.

(…)”So right then and there,” Pa went on, (…) “I told myself that I was going on as if we had all eternity ahead of us. I’d have children and teach them all I could. I’d get them to read books. I’d plan for the future, try to enlarge and seal the Nest. I’d do what I could to keep everything beautiful and growing. I’d keep alive my feeling of wonder even at the cold and the dark and the distant stars.”

But will this resonate with younger people? Let’s find out!

The responses as a whole are some of the best Nicoll has received to date.

(5) RODDENBERRY. Gene Roddenberry will be inducted into the New Mexico Museum of Space History’s International Space Hall of Fame on November 12.

“Mr. Roddenberry was chosen because of his vision of what space exploration could, be his commitment to promoting the future of space exploration and his work that inspired people worldwide to believe in the reality of the “final frontier”,” said museum executive director Christopher Orwoll, adding that, “Roddenberry’s leadership brought to the forefront social, political and cultural issues that impacted the world then and continue to do so now.”

The Museum’s new exhibit will showcase Roddenberry’s vision.

The introductory panels for the exhibit highlight Roddenberry himself, his history as a filmmaker and the legacy of his Star Trek series, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Exhibit cases throughout the gallery document just how widespread the Star Trek phenomenon has become. Collectibles of just about every kind are represented, from Barbies to stuffed bears to pizza cutters, and everything in between. The series, although relatively short-lived in the beginning, touched on many social and moral issues particularly how women were viewed. One exhibit case is dedicated to “The Women of Star Trek”. Another pays homage to the various “Starships of Star Trek” and a third features photos, videos and other images from the series.

But the smallest exhibit cases may be the ones that hold the real treasures, straight from the vault of the Smithsonian. The Star Trek episode The Trouble With Tribbles, written by David Gerrold who will be a special guest on opening night, revolves around furry little critters that multiply at an incredible rate and who also have a serious dislike for Klingons. Although the Starship Enterprise was overrun by tribbles at the time, only a very few remain in existence today. The tribble visitors will admire inside its eight inch case was actually used in that episode and is on loan to the museum from the Smithsonian.

The champion of the original Star Trek postage stamp will attend the induction.

In 1985, Kraft started and led a thirteen year campaign to have Star Trek emblazoned on a stamp. His efforts, and those of his Star Trek Stamp Committee, paid off in 1999 when the stamp was created as part of the Post Office’s “Celebrate the Century” series of commemorative stamps.

This year, the U.S. Postal Service issued four commemorative Star Trek stamps celebrating the 50th anniversary of the famous television show which first aired on September 8, 1966. It didn’t take an act of Congress or over a dozen years of letter writing and campaigning, or, as Kraft might say, even a letter from God. The original 1999 stamp campaign and the amazing effort that went into it, is documented by Kraft in his book, Maybe We Need A Letter From God.

(6) MY BAD. Ken Liu noticed more people are buying his anthology than The Complete Works of Confucius.

(7) WHO REY! Amanda Hess’ “How Female Fans Made Star Wars Their Own” in the New York Times talks about how lots of female Star Wars fans are excited by Rogue One because it’s about a woman leading a bunch of men around and that there are now more women in Star Wars than “Leia, Leia, Leia and Rey, Rey, Rey.”

The dominant cultural image of a “Star Wars” fan may be a lightsaber-wielding fanboy, but women have always been essential creators in the fan universe. They started early fan clubs and mailed out fanzines like Skywalker and Moonbeam, packed with fiction, essays and art. In 1982, Pat Nussman published an essay in the zine Alderaan that described a female fandom so rich and vast that she was prompted to ask, “Where are the men?” She continued, “Male names are rare in columns or fanzine order lists, male faces scarce at media conventions, and the number of men writing or drawing or editing in media fandom so minimal as to be practically nonexistent.”

(8) IN PLAIN SIGHT. Via Galleycat and Leah Schnelbach at Tor.com I learned —

Emma Watson has been participating in the Books On The Underground movement. According to The Telegraph, the actress and founder of the Our Shared Shelf book club, dropped off copies of Dr. Maya Angelou’s Mom & Me & Mom all around the London Tube.

Here’s more from the BBC:

“The star left the novels as part of the Books On The Underground movement which sees ‘book fairies’ leave their favourite reads for people to enjoy. Watson left about 100 books with some including a hand-written note….Books on the Underground started in 2012 and leave about 150 books in stations across London each week.”

(9) BENEDICTION. Doctor Strange extended movie clip.

(10) NOTHING FAZES NEW YORKERS. The PrankvsPrank YouTube crew sent a man dressed as Marvel’s Silver Surfer on a motorized surfboard through the streets of New York City.

[The video] showed Jesse Wellens donning the elaborate costume, featuring comic book-style paint and metallic silver shoes, as he glided about Manhattan.

Wellens turned several heads and received audible cheers as he rode his motorized silver surfboard through traffic and down a nearby boardwalk.

He even drew attention from police officers and a hot dog vendor who stopped to pose for a picture with him.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster,. and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Aziz Poonawalla.]

Leiber Collection Online

Fritz Leiber

Fritz Leiber.

The University of Houston Libraries has the largest collection of Fritz Leiber’s papers. They have scanned and posted at their website many publications Leiber brought home from conventions over the decades – complete program books (particularly for the World Fantasy Convention), newsletters, Leiber’s own manuscripts for GOH speech and convention reports.

This digital collection provides a glimpse into the world of science fiction and fantasy conventions during the 1970s and 1980s. It features programs, pamphlets, newsletters, flyers, and other documents collected by writer Fritz Leiber as he attended science fiction and fantasy conventions across the United States and internationally. Leiber often actively participated in these conventions, as a planner, speaker, or presenter. In all, the collection contains over 200 items.

With the recent controversy about the World Fantasy Award’s Lovecraft statuette, this is a timely opportunity to see Kirby McCauley’s flyer for the first World Fantasy Convention which says in part —

The overall plan of the convention is to focus on the serious side of fantasy literature. Fritz Leiber recently reflected on one of the effects of his correspondence with Lovecraft. “…I became convinced that the supernatural horror story and the fantasy (and the sword-and-sorcery story) are as much high art as any other sort of fiction ….” That’s exactly the guiding light of belief for his convention: to gather for serious exploration into, and discussion of, fantasy art….”

[Thanks to Matthew Davis for the story.]

The Chess Lives of Fritz Leiber and George R.R. Martin

Two sf writers recently in the news for their chess prowess as well as their storytelling are Fritz Leiber and George R.R. Martin.

Fritz Leiber

Fritz Leiber

The article “Literary Chess – The Stories of Fritz Leiber” appears in the August issue of Chess Life, published by the U.S. Chess Federation. Unfortunately, it’s behind a paywall but his fans should be able to guess what it’s about. Leiber, a chess player with a very respectable rating, featured the game in his stories “The Dreams of Albert Moreland” (1945), “The Moriarty Gambit” (1962), “Midnight in the Mirror World” (1964), “The 64-Square Madhouse” (1966) and “Midnight by the Morphy Watch” (1974).

The “64-Square Madhouse” notably involved a human playing against a machine programmed by a psychologist to “read” its opponents. “Midnight by the Morphy Watch” was inspired by a presentation watch made for 19th-century chess genius Paul Morphy.

George-R-R-Martin-Celeb-Snap

George R.R. Martin, when in Switzerland promoting Game of Thrones prior to Loncon 3, gave an interview to The Independent. Martin noted that his youthful enthusiasm for chess – he was rated an expert, one step below master – led to the day job that supported his early writing career.

“The importance of chess to me was not as a player but as a tournament director. In my early 20s, I was writing. I sold a few short stories. My big dream was to be a full-time writer and support myself with my fiction but I wasn’t making enough money to pay my rent and pay the phone bill – so I had to have a day job.”

In 1972, Bobby Fischer did Martin a huge favour by winning the world chess championship. “Bobby Fischer played Boris Spassky in Reykjavík and won – and the entire American chess community went nuts!”

On the back of Fischer’s success, the game became hugely popular. Martin was hired to direct the Midwestern circuit for a national organisation that ran chess tournaments. “For two or three years, I had a pretty good situation. Most writers who have to have a day job work five days a week and then they have the weekend off to write. These chess tournaments were all on the weekend so I had to work on Saturday and Sunday – but then I had five days off to write. The chess generated enough money for me to pay my bills.”

[Thanks to Dan Goodman and John King Tarpinian for the links.]

Leiber Reads Clark Ashton Smith

Fritz Leiber

Fritz Leiber

Fritz Leiber left a huge imprint on the history of sf, author of six Hugo- and three Nebula-winning stories, recipient of multiple lifetime achievement awards (SFWA, World Fantasy, Bram Stoker), and posthumous inductee to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.

Because he died over 20 years ago a great many fans have heard of him – but never had a chance to actually hear him.

Now the CthulhuWho1’s Blog has remedied that. Fans can satisfy their curiosity by listening to an MP3 of Leiber reading Clark Ashton Smith’s “A Night in Malnéant”, recorded during the 1977 World Fantasy Convention in Los Angeles

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Presser Makes Facebook Friends Real Friends

The Chicago media has been actively following ArLynn Presser’s quest to meet all 335 of her Facebook friends (she has many more now) this year. 

Presser is Fritz Leiber’s granddaughter. She is the author of two dozen books, most of them romance novels published under the pen name Vivian Leiber.

Her travels eventually will take her to three continents. You can follow her progress on her WordPress blog.

The Chicago Tribune’s Sunday section ran a lengthy profile with some poignant family history:

Given up for adoption just before her third birthday, she endured a rocky childhood with her adoptive family and, later, in foster care…

[Her] biological father, Justin Leiber…, too, is a Facebook friend, whom she first tracked down through a private detective when she was 25. For her Facebook experiment, she traveled last winter to see him in Tallahassee, where he is a philosophy professor and writer.

A video post from that trip shows Presser retreating to a bathroom after her father guided her through the photos in his office; not one was of her or her sons. “I thought I was coming here because, well, yeah, he’s my Facebook friend, but I thought I was his daughter,” Presser says tearfully in the video. “He is just a guy who has a family, and I’m not part of that family.”

[Thanks to Steven H Silver for the story.]

They Sound Like Heroes To Me

A Mind Forever Wandering has posted a well-done introduction to Fritz Leiber’s stories about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser (newly released in listenable form by Audible.com):

One of Leiber’s original motives was to have a couple of fantasy heroes closer to true human stature than the likes of Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian or Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan. Fafhrd is a tall (seven feet) northern barbarian; Mouser is a small, mercurial thief, once known as Mouse and a former wizard’s apprentice.

File 770’s Silent Service

Behind the cut is Steve Feldberg’s latest press release about the glories of sf and fantasy at Audible.com, leading off with Neil Gaiman’s introduction to Fritz Leiber’s The Swords of Lankhmar.

A real live blog would also host its own MP3 excerpt of Neil’s comments, but here at Pinocchio.com, where the WordPress software refuses to load a file bigger than 2MB, my second best idea is to point you to SFFaudio’s copy.

Continue reading

Denvention 3’s Classics of Science Fiction

Denvention 3 accepted John Hertz’ suggestion to program discussions of the “Wonders of 1958,” selected classics of science fiction. Read up and join in! The list of books and John’s notes appear on the Denvention 3 website. But let me save you a click —

Mile Closer to the Stars – Classics of Science Fiction
Book discussions led by John Hertz

We are in the golden-anniversary year of 1958, a golden year for science fiction. We’ll celebrate with five Classics of SF book discussions on books published that year and still famous, often reprinted, worth re-reading or first reading now. Look for them in the program grid as “Wonders of 1958.”

James Blish, A Case of Conscience and The Triumph of Time
Some call Conscience Blish’s finest book. Is it science fiction? Is it a story? Is its best moment when the Pope says “What did you do about it?” In the same year came the last of the four Cities in Flight novels. Is it a success standing alone? How does Time compare to Conscience?

Algis Budrys, Who?
This penetrating study of identity, loyalty, uncertainty may be both more bleak and more hopeful than it seems. If there is a sermon, it is preached by silence. Budrys is known for his deftness and timing; here too are poetry, a fundamental grasp of tragedy, and the surprises of love.

Robert Heinlein, Methuselah’s Children
By painting portraits Heinlein repeatedly asks the next question.  What if your lifespan was two hundred years?  What if you didn’t care?  If you are hunted, should you run?  Where should you go?  Here too is the first and perhaps best of Lazarus Long.  Extra credit: compare the carefully rewritten 1941 version in the July-September Astounding.

Fritz Leiber, The Big Time
Spiders are the good guys, and our hero is a woman.  The first Hero was a woman too, go look up Leander.   Indeed this is a very classical book; it preserves the unities of time, place, and persons, which is mighty strange, considering.  There’s slashing drama, and if you’ve never been a party girl, it might not be what you think.

Jack Vance, The Languages of Pao
With four worlds in the spotlight, one populated by fifteen billion, this is a story of one boy and one man.  Knowledge may be power.  Concentration and diversity may each be extreme.  The characters say linguistics is the science here; perhaps it is really cross-cultural study, or patience.  Vance’s own language is the gold.