Pixel Scroll 10/11/18 My Pixels Touched Dog Pixels! Agh!

(1) F&SF. Gordon Van Gelder shared F&SF’s Nov/Dec 2018 issue cover:

(2) ISS CREW OKAY AFTER FAILED TAKEOFF. Astronauts bound for the ISS safely returned when their rocket failed soon after launch — “Space crew survives plunge to Earth after Russian rocket fails”.

A Russian cosmonaut and a U.S. astronaut were safe on Thursday after a Soyuz rocket bound for the International Space Station failed in mid-air two minutes after liftoff in Kazakhstan, leading to a dramatic emergency landing.

The two-man crew, Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin and American Nick Hague, landed unharmed on the Kazakh desert steppe as rescue crews raced to reach them, according to the U.S. space agency NASA and Russia’s space agency Roscosmos.

The mishap occurred as the first and second stages of a Russian booster rocket separated shortly after the launch from Kazakhstan’s Soviet-era cosmodrome of Baikonur.

(3) WHALE OF A TALE. L.A. Smith has a fascinating writeup about this 8th century artifact — “The Franks Casket” – carved from whalebone.

…So, the pictures and inscriptions on the casket are a great source of scholarly discussion. To top it all off, there seems to also be some numerological significance to the number of runes on the casket. There are 72 runes on the front and left panels, and a total of 288 runes in total. The 72 could correspond to the 72 disciples mentioned in the Latin Vulgate Bible familiar to the Anglo-Saxons. The number 288 is a multiple of 24, which is the number of runes in an early continental Anglo-Saxon runic alphabet, which had magical significance for the Anglo-Saxons.

Phew! No wonder many scholars have devoted so much time and effort on trying to decipher the runes and pictures on this little box. The more you look at it, the more you discover.

This beautiful box has so much to tell us about this fascinating period in England’s history….

(4) ANIME TRIAGE. Petréa Mitchell reviews 15 anime series and approves many as the title of her Amazing Stories post hints — “Anime roundup 10/11/2018: Sturgeon Takes a Holiday”. For example —

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime premiere – Satoru Mikami is a single geek who suddenly gets stabbed to death on a Tokyo street, only to find himself in a fantasy world, granted fabulous powers, and hobnobbing with a mighty dragon. Typical light-novel power fantasy, right? Well, there are a couple of catches. One is that he’s been reborn as the weakest creature possible. The other concerns the visual presentation of the show itself.

When adapting a popular property, a show is expected to make a predictable amount of money off selling Blu-Rays and merchandise to hardcore fans. Since those fans will buy it no matter what, most shows like this have a look about them that the only minimum necessary effort was made. In this case, a similar calculation seems to have been made, only the conclusion was that those fans will still mindlessly purchase it if it turns into an art film.

This premiere is one visual treat after another, from the careful attention to detail in the movement and posture of people in modern Tokyo, to the trippy mixed-media imagery as Satoru falls into another reality, to the wild expressiveness wrung from a ball of goo. This still has some of the usual problems of light-novel adaptations— the protagonist is already ridiculously overpowered, too much game terminology, and a lot of time spent sitting around and talking— but between the unique twist and the look of this episode, it’s actually enjoyable.

(5) FIRST MAN REVIEW. NPR’s Linda Holmes reports that “‘First Man’ Considers Glory, Grief And A Famous Walk On The Moon”:

…We encounter Armstrong at three points: 1961, leading up to the start of his training as an astronaut; 1965, just before his first space flight; and 1968, as he prepares to be the first person to walk on the moon. His family life progresses alongside his much more famous professional one: the loss of his two-year-old daughter from brain cancer, the grief that nearly consumes him after, the sacrifices that his service demands from his wife, Janet (Claire Foy), and his relationship with his two boys, to whom he hesitates to explain the dangers of space travel….

(6) WHAT WE LEARNED FROM WAR GAMES. The answer is: absolutely nothing. BBC reports “US weapons systems can be ‘easily hacked'”.

…The committee’s members expressed concerns about how protected weapon systems were against cyber-attacks.

The report’s main findings were:

  • the Pentagon did not change the default passwords on multiple weapons systems – and one changed password was guessed in nine seconds…

So, does the United States use its birthday as a password? – July41776….

(7) RIVERDALE RECAP. A public service message from Martin Morse Wooster:

For people who are wondering how much Riverdale is like Archie Comics, I offer the folllowing recap of last night’s show.

Archie Andrews was found guilty of murder, but he was framed by Veronica’s father.  The underground offers to sneak him into Quebec but he decides to stay in Riverdale and take his punishment.

Veronica finds out where the jury in Archie’s trial is sequestered and sneaks into the hotel in a maid’s outfit but is thrown out before she can engage in jury tampering.

Betty is an Adderall addict and is stopped before she can fill a forged prescription.

But the gang still relaxes at Pop’s Malt Shop!

Also, I learned that fans who want Betty and Jughead to have a relationship are known as “Bugheads.”

(8) GLASS. M. Night Shyamalan’s next picture, about tortured people with superpowers, will be released in the U.S. on January 18, 2019.

M. Night Shyamalan brings together the narratives of two of his standout originals—2000’s Unbreakable, from Touchstone, and 2016’s Split, from Universal—in one explosive, all-new comic-book thriller: Glass. From Unbreakable, Bruce Willis returns as David Dunn as does Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price, known also by his pseudonym Mr. Glass. Joining from Split are James McAvoy, reprising his role as Kevin Wendell Crumb and the multiple identities who reside within, and Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke, the only captive to survive an encounter with The Beast. Following the conclusion of Split, Glass finds Dunn pursuing Crumb’s superhuman figure of The Beast in a series of escalating encounters, while the shadowy presence of Price emerges as an orchestrator who holds secrets critical to both men.

 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 11, 1922 – G.C. Edmondson (José Mario Garry Ordoñez Edmondson y Cotton), Author from Mexico who mostly wrote Westerns under several pen names – and, being fluent in six languages, he also did translations – but produced a number of science fiction works, many involving time travel and Latin America, including the Nebula Award-nominated The Ship That Sailed the Time Stream and its sequel, the trilogy The Cunningham Equations (co-written with C. M. Kotlan), and numerous short works in his Mad Friend universe.
  • Born October 11, 1928 – Doris Piserchia, 90, Author of more than a dozen of what multiple sources call “darkly comic novels”, including her penultimate novel, I, Zombie which she published under the pseudonym Curt Selby, and a somewhat larger number of short fiction works. Because she had a story in The Last Dangerous Visions, she has been labelled New Wave by some who didn’t do their research properly. Like most genre writers of the 70s and 80s, she has greatly benefited from digital publishing, with all of her backlist now republished in that format.
  • Born October 11, 1944 – Patrick Parrinder, 74, Writer and Critic from England who is one of the foremost experts on H. G. Wells, having written works specializing on that author subtitled Shadows of the Future, Science Fiction and Prophecy, and The Critical Heritage. Not to be mistaken as a one-trick pony, he’s also penned Science Fiction: Its Criticism and Teaching and Utopian Literature and Science.
  • Born October 11, 1944 – Julek Heller, 74, Artist and Illustrator from Jerusalem who emigrated to England, who did cover art for around 80 novels and more than 50 works of interior art, mostly in the 80s and 90s, including covers for works by Norton, Moorcock, Silverberg’s Majipoor series, and several Mammoth Books. He also provided artwork for the 1978 TV series Pinocchio.
  • Born October 11, 1945 – Gay Haldeman, 73, Writer, Translator, and Member of First Fandom who has Masters degrees in Linguistics and Spanish. A fan and con-goer since 1963, she has contributed many letters, essays, and convention reports to genre and fannish publications, a fair number of them written in Spanish. She and her author husband Joe have been Guests of Honor at numerous conventions – including a relaxacon in Sydney, Australia named Haldecon – and she has been much in demand as a con Toastmaster. She and Joe were given the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award (NESFA’s Skylark Award) in 1996.
  • Born October 11, 1950 – William R. Forstchen, 68, Writer and Historian, whose early novel series included Ice Prophet, Wars of Heaven, Gamestar Wars, and The Lost Regiment, and more recently the One Second After post-apocalyptic novels. Has also contributed novels to the Star Trek, Riftwar, and Wing Commander universes. He was Guest of Honor at InConJunction XIX.
  • Born October 11, 1953 – David Morse, 65, Actor, Writer, Singer, and Director, who has had main roles in the Hugo-nominated Twelve Monkeys, The Green Mile, The Boy, Double Vision, the Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge-inspired Passengers, and the Hugo-winning film adaptation of Carl Sagan’s Locus-winning Contact, as well as parts in World War Z, Joe Hill’s Horns, TV series Friday the 13th: The Series, Tales from the Crypt, SeaQuest DSV, Medium, and Blindspot, and the Stephen King miniseries The Langoliers.
  • Born October 11, 1962 – Joan Cusack, 56, Actor and Writer especially known for comedic roles, who had main parts in the Hugo-nominated Addams Family Values (for which she received a Saturn nomination), the film adaptation of David Gerrold’s Hugo- and Nebula-winning The Martian Child, It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, and a plethora of voice roles in animated features including the Hugo-nominated Toy Story movies and TV specials, Chicken Little, and Mars Needs Moms.
  • Born October 11, 1965 – Lennie James, 53, Actor, Screenwriter, and Playwright from England who has had main roles in the genre TV series The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, and Jericho, and movie roles in Blade Runner 2049, Sahara, Lockout, and the (in JJ’s opinion) vastly-underrated Lost in Space.
  • Born October 11, 1965 – Sean Patrick Flanery, 53, Actor who starred in the TV series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and also had lead roles in the genre films Powder, Demon Hunter, The Insatiable, Veritas, Prince of Truth, InSight, The Devil’s Carnival, and The Evil Within, and guest roles on Stargate: SG-1, The Twilight Zone, The Dead Zone, The Outer Limits, Charmed, and Touched by an Angel.
  • Born October 11, 1972 – Claudia Black, 46, Actor from Australia best known for her roles as Aeryn Sun on Farscape (for which she won a Saturn Award) and Vala Mal Doran on Stargate SG-1 (for which she won a Constellation Award, Canada’s counterpart to the Saturn Award), who also appeared in the films Pitch Black and Queen of the Damned. Her first genre role was as Cassandra on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, followed by episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess, Beastmaster, The Dresden Files and Haven, a recurring role on The Originals, and a main role on Containment. She has also provided character voices to animated films and TV series, and a very large number of videogames, including Uncharted, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and Final Fantasy.
  • Born October 11, 1972 – Nir Yaniv, 46, Writer, Editor, Musician, and Fan from Israel who in 2000 founded the webzine of the Israeli Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy and was its chief editor for seven years. He later edited several issues of Chalomot Be’aspamia, Israel’s only professional printed science fiction and fantasy magazine. He co-authored with Lavie Tidhar the short novel The Tel Aviv Dossier, and has published a collection of his short fiction, The Love Machine and Other Contraptions; several of his stories have been translated into English by Tidhar. As a musician, he created the first Hebrew-language SF music-themed album, The Universe in a Pita, and more recently has begun writing and directing short films of strong genre interest.
  • Born October 11, 1974 – Ian Mond, 44, Writer, Critic, and Podcaster from Australia who has published a dozen of his own stories, plus a few Doctor Who stories. He was Tuckerized by fellow Australian and Doctor Who writer Kate Orman in the tie-in novel Blue Box. For eight years, he co-hosted with Kirstyn McDermott the Hugo-nominated and Ditmar-winning book podcast, The Writer and the Critic, and his reviews of genre fiction have garnered him two Atheling nominations. He started reviewing for Locus Online in June this year.
  • Born October 11, 1978 – Wes Chatham, 40, Actor best known for a main role in the Hugo-winning TV series The Expanse, as well as a role in the two-movie Hunger Games installment Mockinjay.
  • Born October 11, 1974 – Doona Bae, 34, Actor from South Korea whose most notable genre role has been as a lead in the TV series Sense8 but has also had roles in Cloud Atlas and Jupiter Ascending, as well as several South Korean science fiction and horror films including The Ring Virus and The Host and the manga adaptation Air Doll.
  • Born October 11, 1985 – Michelle Trachtenberg, 33, Actor and Producer who started early in genre roles with a guest role on Space Cases at the age of 11 and a main role on Meego at the age of 12. At 14, she took on a main role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for which she received 3 Saturn nominations. Her other appearances include the films Inspector Gadget, Can’t Be Heaven, Richie Rich’s Christmas Wish, Black Christmas, 17 Again, and The Scribbler, and guest spots on the live-action and animated TV series Sleepy Hollow, Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Robot Chicken, The Super Hero Squad Show, SuperMansion, and Superman/Shazam. She currently has a starring voice role in the animated SF series Human Kind Of.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) FRANKENSTEIN. Sean O’Hara talks about how Mary Shelley’s preface to the book was an attempt to whitewash her life — “The History of Frankenstein Part I: Lies, Damned Lies, and Mary Shelley’s Preface to Frankenstein”

Most of us are familiar with the tale of how Mary Shelley came to write Frankenstein — how she and her husband Percy were on vacation in Switzerland and happened to be staying near Lord Byron, and on a dark and stormy night, after reading some German horror stories, they decided to have a contest to see who could write the scariest story. It all sounds so genteel. Something you’d see on Masterpiece Theater.

It’s also pure BS.

Mary and her step-sister Claire were the Kardashians of the early 19th Century. And I don’t mean they were wild by the standards of their day. They did things that would still make the front page of TMZ. If they were alive today, they’d be feuding with Beyonce and Taylor Swift, I guarantee it.

So where did the sanitized version of the story come from?

Why Mary Shelley herself….

— Then steps back to look at her mother, the feminist philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft: “The History of Frankenstein Part II: That Time the World’s First Feminist Married the World’s First Libertarian”.

But their happiness was short lived. Wollstonecraft became pregnant at the end of 1796, and she and Godwin decided, despite their mutual misgivings about marriage, to wed so their child would be legitimate. But Wollstonecraft was by now thirty-eight, an age at which child birth became dangerous. Her daughter Mary was born safely, but Wollstonecraft contracted a postpartum infection and died a mere two weeks later, leaving her two daughters in the care of a forty year old man who had spent his entire life as a bachelor.

There are several more posts in this series at O’Hara’s blog, Yes, We Have No Culottes.

(12) KIRBY YOUR ENTHUSIASM. Scott Bradfield recommends “Reading irresponsibly with Jack Kirby” at the LA Times.

Probably what I miss most in our perilous, terrifying and end-of-times-like historical era is the ability to read irresponsibly. There’s just too much responsible reading around; it can drive you to drink. Everything we’re supposed to read keeps looming up out of the darkness, bristling with portents, economic data, apocalyptic planetary crises and an endless urgent blizzard of news bulletins about tweets, personal liberties, gun violence and conflagrations both natural and metaphorical — all of which require more sober attention than most of us can muster. Increasingly (and understandably), reading has become a duty to be performed by conscientious citizens and students. And I’m sorry, but jeez, that just isn’t right.

When I was young, reading irresponsibly was easy. I did it all the time. In fact, well into my late teens and early 20s I could easily lose myself in books and comics; it just came with the territory.

(13) WFA CONTENDER. Lela E. Buis sings the praises of a World Fantasy Award nominee: “Review of City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty”.

…So, counter to the depressive trend in the WFA finalists this year, this is a romance and an intrigue. All these people are lying to each other, and political groups are plotting right and left. Daevabad is exotic, the details of the city life, the temples and the palace very well assembled. I didn’t have any problems visualizing the people, the creatures or the scenery–the author has done a lot of research. The characters are slightly flat, but the story is more focused on the action and intrigue than on revealing their deepest inner thoughts. The reader is left to deduce a lot of what’s going on from their actions….

(14) MURDER MOST ‘BOT. And Buis gives five stars to the conclusion of the Murderbot series, but says it is not flawless – “Review of Exit Strategy by Martha Wells”.

On the not so great side, I’ve got some nits to pick with the whole story arc at this point. I suspect the series was written fairly quickly, as Wells has said it’s a short story that got out of control, and after the huge success of the first novella, she quickly got in gear to produce the rest. Tor was also in a hurry to follow up on the initial success, and went light on the editing. That means there are some inconsistencies in the content.

(15) CHIBNALL ON WHO. Showrunner Chris Chibnall discusses his new vision for Doctor Who.

(16) WHO PANEL AT NYCC. Here’s the full Doctor Who panel from New York Comic-Con 2018, with Jodie Whittaker, Chris Chibnall and Matt Strevens.

(17) THE NOSE KNOWS. io9’s Germain Lussier is thrilled to hear that “The Most Disgusting Scenes in Star Wars Are Now Scented Candles”.

Scents like “Trash Compactor,” “Inside of a Tauntaun,” “Rancor,” and “Sarlacc Pit” are just some of the scents available in these new, officially licensed candles. There are some more pleasant sounding ones, too, like “Bantha Milk,” “X-Wing Cockpit” and “Yoda’s Cooking Pot”—as well as just plain weird ones like “Death Star Destroyed,” “Millennium Falcon,” “Han Solo Carbonite” and “Lightsaber Duel.”

(18) AND SMALLER FLEAS TO BITE ‘EM. Science Alert is sure “You’ll Never Guess What Scientists Want to Call The Moon of a Moon”.

Stars have planets, and planets have satellites we call moons; but can a moon have its own satellite? And if it did, what would we call it?

In a paper currently up on pre-print resource arXiv, astronomers Juna Kollmeier of the Carnegie Institution for Science and Sean Raymond of the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Bordeaux have called them submoons.

But other scientists are using the far more delightful term moonmoon, so that’s what we’re going to go for.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In La Futur Sera Chauve (The Bald Future) on Vimeo, Paul Cabon imagines how limited his life will be when he loses his hair.

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

Pixel Scroll 3/29/18 Two Scrolls Diverged In A Wood And I – I Took The One Less Pixeled

(1) EVERYONE MUST GET STONED. James Davis Nicoll shares “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson with the panel in the latest installment of Young People Read Old SFF.

Incredibly influential, Shirley Jackson died aged only 48 back in the 1960s. I sense that while some of her acolytes (and their students) are well known Jackson herself has declined in fame. If a young person has encountered Jackson, it’s most likely thanks to the film adaptation of The Haunting, in which an attempt to probe the secrets of an ancient house goes very badly indeed (and the second, lesser, adaptation at that.). “The Lottery” is a more constrained affair than The Haunting. It’s a simple account of annual celebration that binds a small community together. A classic or superseded by more recent works?

Let’s find out…

(2) ETHICS QUESTION. Charles Payseur asked Rocket Stack Rank to drop him from the list of reviewers they track. His thread starts here —

Although as reported in the March 27 Scroll, the RSR piece was a project by Eric Wong, it may be the case that the reviewers tracked are predominantly white, as that is the demographic of many well-known critics and bloggers. But what about the point of the project – and one of Payseur’s goals as a reviewer – to help get more eyeballs on good sff by PoCs? Therefore, isn’t RSR multiplying the effectiveness of Payseur’s reviews? Should a reviewer have a veto in a case like this? And as I do quote from Payseur in the Scroll somewhat often, I now wonder what would I do if he asked me to stop?

(3) VR. The Washington Post’s Steven Zeitchik talked to people who say “It could be the biggest change to movies since sound. If anyone will pay for it.” He visited the Westfield Century City mall, where people can experience the 12-minute Dreamscape Immersive virtual reality production Alien Zoo for $20.  He surveys the current state of virtual reality projects and finds that many of them are sf or fantasy, including an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Wolves in the Walls.

The Westfield Century City mall runs a dozen of the latest blockbusters at its modern movie theater here, but recently some of the most cutting-edge entertainment was playing one story below, at a pop-up store across from Bloomingdale’s.

That’s where groups of six could enter a railed-off area, don backpacks and headsets, and wander in the dark around the “Alien Zoo,” a 12-minute virtual-reality outer-space experience with echoes of “Jurassic Park.”

By bringing the piece to the mall, “Zoo” producer Dreamscape Immersive — it counts Steven Spielberg among its investors — hopes it has cracked a major challenge bedeviling the emerging form of entertainment known as cinematic VR.

(4) GENDER MALLEABLE. At The Verge, Andrew Liptak questions “Wil Wheaton and Amber Benson on depicting gender in John Scalzi’s next audiobook”.

Next month, Audible will release the recorded version of John Scalzi’s upcoming novel Head On, a sequel to his 2014 thriller Lock In. Like Lock In — but unlike most audio editions — this release will come in two versions: one narrated by Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Wil Wheaton, and the other by Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Amber Benson, who are each popular audiobook narrators.

Why?

When Scalzi wrote Lock In, he made a creative decision to not reveal Chris’ gender, creating a character who readers could read as male, female, or neither. He explained that he did it as a writing challenge, and realized that in this world, gender might not be easily distinguishable for a Haden using a robotic body.

(5)  FIVE DAYS TO GO. The Kickstarter appeal to fund The Dark Magazine “for two more years of unsettling fiction” has achieved 70% of its $12,500 goal with just five days remaining.

The Dark Magazine has been around for five years and in that short period of time we have published award-winning stories by new and established authors; showcased great artwork from all corners of the world; and done it all on the backs of a small team of simply wonderful people. But now it is past time to take it to the next level, and help finance the magazine for two more years to allow us to increase the subscription base, increase the pay rate from three cents to five cents a word, and increase the amount of fiction we bring to you, with double Christmas issues. Because we don’t just like dark fantasy, horror, or weird fiction . . . we love it. And it means so much to us to introduce you to unsettling and thoughtful stories every month that we want to keep on doing it, with your help.

(6) F&SF COVER REVEAL. Gordon Van Gelder shared the May/June 2018 cover for The Magaine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The cover art is by Alan M. Clark.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY XENA

  • Born March 29, 1968 – Lucy Lawless

(8) COMIC SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian spotted an especially funny Brevity  — at least I thought it was, because I’m familiar with the collectible they’re joking about.

(9) NATURE CALLS. The next issue of Concatenation, the British SFF news aggregator, comes out in a couple of weeks, but while you’re waiting, Jonathan Cowie, lead editor of the original zine, sent along this link to the new issue of research journal Nature which carries a piece on “The ageless appeal of 2001:A Space Odyssey.

Fifty years on, Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece looks more prophetic than ever, reflects Piers Bizony.

…Monoliths aside, 2001 was prescient in almost all its detailed predictions of twenty-first-century technology. For instance, in August 2011, the Samsung electronics group began a defence against a claim of patent infringement by Apple. Who invented the tablet computer? Apple claimed unique status for its iPad; Samsung presented a frame from 2001.

Samsung noted that the design claimed by Apple had many features in common with that of the tablet shown in the film clip — most notably, a rectangular shape with a display screen, narrow borders, a flat front and a thin form. In an era when computers still needed large rooms to accommodate them, Kubrick’s special-effects team rigged hidden projectors to enliven devices that looked as though you could hold them in one hand. Only the need to trim the film’s running length prevented ingenious mock-ups of touch-sensitive gaming screens and electronic newspapers from making the final cut.

(10) OFF WITH ITS HEAD. Can social media be saved? Should it? That’s the question Kevin Roose tries to answer in a New York Times column.

I don’t need to tell you that something is wrong with social media.

You’ve probably experienced it yourself. Maybe it’s the way you feel while scrolling through your Twitter feed — anxious, twitchy, a little world weary — or your unease when you see a child watching YouTube videos, knowing she’s just a few algorithmic nudges away from a rabbit hole filled with lunatic conspiracies and gore. Or maybe it was this month’s Facebook privacy scandal, which reminded you that you’ve entrusted the most intimate parts of your digital life to a profit-maximizing surveillance machine.

Our growing discomfort with our largest social platforms is reflected in polls. One recently conducted by Axios and SurveyMonkey found that all three of the major social media companies — Facebook, Twitter and Google, which shares a parent company with YouTube — are significantly less popular with Americans than they were five months ago. (And Americans might be the lucky ones. Outside the United States, social media is fueling real-world violence and empowering autocrats, often with much less oversight.)

(11) THE MATTER. “Ghostly galaxy may be missing dark matter”. i.e., it apparently doesn’t have any.

An unusually transparent galaxy about the size of the Milky Way is prompting new questions for astrophysicists.

The object, with the catchy moniker of NGC1052-DF2, appears to contain no dark matter.

If this turns out to be true, it may be the first galaxy of its kind – made up only of ordinary matter. Currently, dark matter is thought to be essential to the fabric of the Universe as we understand it.

(12) L’CHAIM! Shmaltz Brewing’s latest Star Trek beer is “Terrans Unite India Pale Lager.”

STAR TREK MIRROR UNIVERSE
TERRANS UNITE! INDIA PALE LAGER

Available in 4-Packs and on Draft.

MALTS: 2-Row, Pilsen, Patagonia 90
HOPS: Pacific Gem, Centennial
5% ABV

What if there was another world, a world that appeared similar to our own, with the same people, the same places, and even the same advancements in technology, but a world in which the motives and ethics of its inhabitants were turned upside down? The heroic now villainous and the noble corrupt, valuing power over peace and willing to obtain their desires by any means necessary – this is the Terran Empire in the Mirror Universe.

Our universe may feel villainous and corrupt at times, but we can still find comfort in good friends and tasty beer. By spanning north and south, east and west, continents and traditions, Mirror Universe blends ingredients bringing together the world of brave new craft brewing. HOPS – MALTS – LAGER – UNITE!

(13) EXCEPT FOR ALL THE REST. Panoply took flak for appearing to overlook how far other podcasting pioneers have already taken the medium.

Here’s an example of the feedback:

(14) LEARNING FROM WAND CONTROL. Washington Free Beacon editor Alex Griswold, in “Harry Potter Is An Inspiring Parable About #Resisting Gun Control”, argues that “I’ve read all seven (Harry Potter) books on several occasions, and they make the strongest case for an armed populace and the evils of gun control I’ve ever read.”

…Even if you buy into the notion that fantasy books should dictate our policy, I find it surprising that so many of the children who read Harry Potter came away thinking we need more gun control. I’ve read all seven books on several occasions, and they make the strongest case for an armed populace and the evils of gun control I’ve ever read.

Instead of guns, wizards in Harry Potter use wands for self-defense. Every wizard is armed at eleven, taught to use dangerous spells, and released into a society where everyone’s packing heat and concealed carry is the norm. It’s an inspiring example the United States should strive towards.

But the reader slowly discovers there is wand control in the Harry Potter universe, and that it’s a racist, corrupt and selectively enforced. In the second book, Chamber of Secrets, we learn that the Hogwarts groundskeeper Hagrid has been forcibly disarmed after being accused of a crime he didn’t commit. When government officials again come to falsely arrest Hagrid, he lacks any means of self-defense….

(15) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. New Statesman advised “Forget Facebook, Russian agents have been pretending to be furries on Tumblr”.

Cambridge Analytica. Mark Zuckerberg. Steve Bannon. Russians pushing propaganda on Facebook and Twitter. Yeah, you’ve heard it all before, but did you know that Russian agents were posing as furries on Tumblr to destabilise the crucial ‘Riverdale stans’, K-Pop obsessive, secretly-looking-at—‘arty’-porn in the office demographic? Because they were. And Tumblr just admitted it.

(16) REN AND STIMPY CREATOR ACCUSED. Buzzfeed tells “The Disturbing Secret Behind An Iconic Cartoon”.

Robyn Byrd and Katie Rice were teenage Ren & Stimpy fans who wanted to make cartoons. They say they were preyed upon by the creator of the show, John Kricfalusi, who admitted to having had a 16-year-old girlfriend when approached by BuzzFeed News….

In the summer of 1997, before her senior year of high school, he flew her to Los Angeles again, where Byrd had an internship at Spumco, Kricfalusi’s studio, and lived with him as his 16-year-old girlfriend and intern. After finishing her senior year in Tucson, the tiny, dark-haired girl moved in with Kricfalusi permanently at age 17. She told herself that Kricfalusi was helping to launch her career; in the end, she fled animation to get away from him.

Since October, a national reckoning with sexual assault and harassment has not only felled dozens of prominent men, but also caused allegations made in the past to resurface. In some ways, the old transgressions are the most uncomfortable: They implicate not just the alleged abusers, but everyone who knew about the stories and chose to overlook them.

(17) TRAILER PARK. The Darkest Minds, due in theaters August 3, sure has a familiar-sounding plot:

When teens mysteriously develop powerful new abilities, they are declared a threat by the government and detained. Sixteen-year-old Ruby, one of the most powerful young people anyone has encountered, escapes her camp and joins a group of runaway teens seeking safe haven. Soon this newfound family realizes that, in a world in which the adults in power have betrayed them, running is not enough and they must wage a resistance, using their collective power to take back control of their future.

(18) SCOOBYNATURAL. Daniel Dern found this video via io9. Dern leads in: “Yes, there was the Farscape episode which turned the characters (and action) into an animated cartoon sequence. And the Angel episode where Angel got turned into a large-ish puppet. (That was fun.) And now this…”

“…as in, the Supernaturalists (if that’s the right word) somehow end up in a Scooby episode. (Note, this isn’t a show I’ve watched, and not clear I will catch this episode, but I’m glad I know about it.)”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Jonathan Cowie, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Brian Z., Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]

Another Rejection Letter Story, More Or Less
or
How Barry Malzberg Got His F&SF Special Issue

By Daniel Dern: First, a disclaimer: This isn’t quite the anecdotal story I intended to write… because it wasn’t until after finishing what would otherwise have been a clean draft that got the relevant folder from its file cabinet drawer, and discovered that my memory of one key bit was inaccurate. (To further add to the mystery, Bobbi corroborates the version I remember.) Anyhoo, what follows reflects the adjusted-for-what-seems-to-be-the-actual-fact(s).

Accumulating rejection slips is part of becoming/being a writer. I have my fair share — I’d have more if I was more on top of sending ’em out again quickly — some boilerplate, some personal.

That said, when I submitted “For Malzberg It Was They Came” to F&SF, I was ready to add another F&SF rejection to my files.

I’d written the story based on the classic/cliched advice-for-writers, “Write what you know”

o  I grew up in New Jersey (Englewood, to be specific). Before I reached driving age, including bicycling modest distances (1-3 miles) on my three-speed to libraries in my and several nearby towns to plunder their sf holdings. (And a few visits to Fred Lerner, who I must have met through fannish activity, back when he still lived in Bergan County.) Check.

o  While visiting my parents, post-college (before they moved elsewhere) (or possibly this was a decade or so later, and I was passing through staying with friends), I discovered that Barry Malzberg, one of my favorite sf authors, lived one town away. (I believe I discovered that while looking around in a new-to-me bookstore in my old home town, and chatting with a woman who turned out to be his wife.) I ended up being invited to visit Barry at his house, which I did, a few times over the following years, and also got to briefly chat with him at several ReaderCons. Check.

So, in early 2002, it wasn’t a huge leap from “I know about New Jersey, down to the street and store level in some places” and “I can describe some of Maison Malzberg” and “hey, I’m trying to write science fiction here” to “how about aliens come looking for Barry Malzberg?”

Which led to a (very) short story, “For Malzberg It Was They Came.”

My sf sales already included Analog (two, to Ben Bova), but I was still trying to crack F&SF and Asimov’s, so off it went to F&SF, in mid-May 2002.

I was prepared to add another rejection slip to my files… but when it came, I was more than slightly surprised by the reason that Gordon Van Gelder (the editor back then) had included:

Many thanks for submitting “For Malzberg It Was They Came,” but I’m going to pass on this one. Curiously enough, this story is the third Barry Malzberg pastiche I’ve seen in the last two years, [but…], I’m afraid that the story didn’t quite win me over, alas.

Interestingly, oddly, curiously, etc-ly, for years now, I’d been telling people that the F&SF rejection slip instead said:

I’m sorry, but I just bought a story about Barry Malzberg.

which would indeed have put it in the running for Most Unexpected and Frustrating Story Rejection Letter Ever. The actual letter is more like, “Sigh.”

Ah, well. I can’t go back and redo my previous tellings.

Happily, this doesn’t change the remainder of the tale.

Undaunted, I immediately shipped it off to Asimov’s, attention Gardner Dozois.

A month after F&SF’s rejection letter, Gordon Van Gelder wrote me a followup:

If you haven’t already sold “For Malzberg It Was They Came,” could I get another look at it? I’m not promising anything, but I might be able to use it in F&SF after all.

I replied that that would be fine with me — except that I’d already sent it to Asimov’s… and wasn’t sure how to go about “unsubmitting”… perhaps Gordon could sort this out directly with Gardner (who was still editor at that point)?

And that’s what happened. Here’s part of an email message from Gordon:

So I spoke with Gardner Dozois last week about your story “For Malzberg It Was They Came” and he said that if I wanted it for F&SF, Gardner would consider it withdrawn without prejudice from ASIMOV’S.

This led to Gordon shooting for a special Malzberg issue of F&SF. (F&SF had done many similar special issues over the decades, for notables including Theodore Sturgeon, Ray Bradbury, Fritz Leiber, Stephen King, Kate Wilhelm, and, most recently, David Gerrold (list courtesy a mix of my memory and Wikipedia).)

Gordon let Barry Malzberg know, and commissioned an essay from him, “Tripping With The Alchemist” (about Barry’s time at the Scott Meredith Agency). It all came together in the May 2003 F&SF which also included:

  • John Kessel’s story that included Barry Malzberg, “Of New Arrivals, Many Johns, and the Music of the Spheres” (I’m guessing this was the second of the stories about/involving Barry Malzberg that Gordon had originally been referring to.)

and two reprints:

  • Barry N. Malzberg. “A Short Religious Novel,” from F&SF, September 1972
  • Bill Pronzini and Barry N. Malzberg. “A Clone At Last,” from F&SF, 1978.

Barry was, to say the least, very pleased by all this.

And so was I, by finally appearing in F&SF.

And, after the fact, having this reasonably unusual anecdote (which, admittedly, isn’t quite the story I’d been remembering, ah well).

One closing note, re my story, hopefully not a spoiler: While the aliens do coming looking for Malzberg, despite what some reviewers have said, at no point does the man who answers the door, nor the story’s author (yours truly), claim/acknowledge that’s who he is.

That said, if somebody is planning to do an anthology of “Science Fiction Stories About, Or At Least Including, Science Fiction Authors,” or even, “Great Science Fiction About Or Including Barry Malzberg,” I’m more than happy to have my story there.

Gordon Van Gelder Likes the Hat

Gordon Van Gelder. Photo by Leslie Howle.

By Carl Slaughter: Gordon Van Gelder does themed anthologies.  A painstaking and time-consuming but rewarding task.

CARL SLAUGHTER:  Why did you give up the editor’s chair of FSF?

GORDON VAN GELDER:  I was wearing two hats — that of the publisher and that of the editor.

With the publisher’s hat on, I could see that the magazine was losing some of its edge –it was growing too predictable, falling short in some other ways.  So I tried bringing in a guest editor to liven things up, and that went well.  So I decided it was time to step down (wearing my editor’s hat) and I offered the editing job to C. C. Finlay (with my publisher’s hat on).

CS:  Why stay on as publisher?

GVG:  I like the hat.

But seriously, publishing a magazine isn’t a bad job.  And someone’s got to do it.

CS:  Looking at your list of anthologies, it seems you’re still doing some best of, but have been moving toward themed.  Is that an accurate interpretation?

GVG:  Fairly accurate.  The path we take is mostly a function of what the market wants and what book publishers want.  If we could publish a non-theme “Best of F&SF” anthology every year as we did in the 1950s, I’d be happy with that.  But the book market in 2017 is vastly different from what it was in 1954.

CS:  What’s the selection process for the themes?

GVG:  Again, it’s mostly a function of what the market will support and what interests book publishers.  There’s such a wealth of material in our back issues that we can produce good anthologies on a lot of themes.  (I have detailed notes for several.)  But how many of them will sell well?

CS:  What’s the selection process for the stories?

GVG:  It varies a bit from book to book, but mostly, it’s a matter of pinning down the prominent stories on the theme, and then doing research and filling in the book with lesser-known works.

My favorite one to assemble was the Mars anthology, Fourth Planet From The Sun.  That one had a real dynamic to it, from Bradbury to Zelazny to Varley to Alex Irvine.  The whole book seemed to assemble itself, much as writers will sometimes say that a book wrote itself.

CS:  Your latest anthology is on repopulation.  I confess, I am not familiar with that subgenre.  Give us the background on this project.

GVG:  The subgenre is like a relative of the old Adam and Eve stories — a lot of stories born from anxiety over the threat of nuclear bomb destruction and wondering what happens if humanity mostly manages to wipe itself out.  (In fact, there was a recent book on this exact subject, something called The Knowledge by Lewis Dartnell on how to rebuild civilization.  I used a quotation from it as the epigraph for my book.)

I got interested in the subgenre when I happened to encounter two stories on the theme from the 1950s and I thought, “I read a lot of these stories as a kid, but I don’t think I’ve seen one in the last fifteen years.”

When I dug into it, I found a lot of interesting material.  Since the subgenre by definition basically calls for a scenario with a small number of people under fairly intense pressure, the stories tended to be dramatic and often extreme.  Some of them are deeply moving, others are disturbing.

Researching the book took a long time, but it was a lot of fun reading through anthologies and old magazine issues. It was also interesting to see a lot of the 1950s stories from the SF magazines that have never been reprinted.

One thing that frustrated me is that I heard about a couple of stories I was never able to locate.  If you don’t mind, I’ll mention one now in hopes that someone seeing this interview will be able to identify it:

As I heard it (and this may well be confused or mis-remembered, especially since I feel like I read it myself when I was a teen) the story concerns a p.r. or advertising guy who’s hired to convince men to go to Mars or another planet because they need men there.  And he’s so good at his job that he convinces all the men to leave, leaving him alone on the home planet with the responsibility of repopulating Earth. But the kicker at the end comes in the form of his confession to the reader: “I don’t have the heart to tell them I’m sterile.”

CS:  One of your anthologies is on climate change.  Do any of these stories provide solutions?

GVG: Not really.  If I’d thought any of the writers could actually make things better, I’d have sent them to a college friend of mine who’s working on these things for real.  I saw the anthology more as an opportunity for writers to dramatize different aspects of what we humans might experience as the planet changes.

 

CS:  Your next project is on dystopias.  Why do in this direction?  Isn’t this a well-worn trail?

GVG: Does it answer your question if I say that we came up with the idea for the book on January 20th and most of the stories are specifically focused on the next four years?

CS:  What else is on the horizon for Gordon Van Gelder?

GVG:  Well, aside from continuing to run F&SF, I’ve got a couple of smallish writing projects — an article and a book introduction — that I need to finish up.  I’m also helping a couple of writers get some of their older work back in print.  I don’t have any more books under contract right now, but I’ve got a few ideas simmering.  And who knows?  Maybe another odd, half-forgotten subgenre will come along and grab me and set me off on another four years of research to produce a book that’s liable to interest only a few oddballs like myself.

You just never know.

Pixel Scroll 3/29/17 “Scrolls! They Were Inwented By A Little Old Lady From Pixelgrad!”

(1) GEMMELL LONGLIST VOTING DEADLINE. First round balloting on The Gemmell Awards longlist closes March 31. It is free and open to the public. Click here to cast your vote for the Ravenheart Award (best cover art), Morning Star Award (best debut novel) and the Legend Award (best fantasy novel). The shortlists for each award will be announced and voting opened on April 21.

Legend Award “Snaga”

(2) MAKING BOOK. The next Doctor Who will be….? Here’s where British gamblers are putting their money this week.

Today, DoctorWhoTV.co.uk has shared a story from Betway. This particular bookmakers reckons that Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge – who’s set to appear in the young Han Solo movie next year – is in with a shot.

“Phoebe Waller-Bridge is all the rage with the punters at the moment”, a spokesperson revealed. “Her odds of being the next Doctor Who have collapsed from 20/1 to 2/1 since Monday morning and we’re on red alert, keeping an eye out for any more telling bets.

“Kris Marshall remains solid at 2/1, but the sudden rush of support for Waller-Bridge suggests the race to become TV’s next Time Lord is swinging in her favour.”

(3) SUBTERRANEAN HOMESICK LYRICIST. He’s on the road again. (Wait, that isn’t his song!) Songwriter Bob Dylan is doing two concerts in Stockholm, so long as he’s in the neighborhood… “Bob Dylan finally agrees to accept Nobel Prize for Literature”.

Bob Dylan will finally accept his Nobel Prize for Literature in Stockholm this weekend, the academy has announced.

The American singer was awarded the prize in October but failed to travel to pick up the award, or deliver the lecture that is required to receive the 8m kroner ($900,000;£727,000) prize.

The academy said it would meet Dylan, 75, in private in the Swedish capital, where he is giving two concerts.

He will not lecture in person but is expected to send a taped version.

If he does not deliver a lecture by June, he will have to forfeit the prize money.

(4) CHANGELINGS. Debbie Urbanski pushes the envelope of literary discussion with her post “In Which I Make Up a Categorization Called ‘Slow-paced Genre Realism”.

I had a great time this past month savoring Version Control by Dexter Palmer. It clocks in at a little over 18 hours as an audio book, but once I settled into the story, I found the slow pacing to be really wonderful. I wonder if we can create a sub-genre in science fiction or fantasy of slow-paced genre novels (or slow-paced genre realism?). Think a little Alice Munro or Karl Ove Knausgard transported into a genre setting. Into such a categorization, I’d throw some of my favorite books: The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber, as well as Molly Gloss’s Dazzle of the Day and Wild Life. Ah, and how about the beloved The Wall by Marlen Haushofer? My Real Children by Jo Walton? And then there is this one book I read 20 years ago, which I can not locate, no matter how many creative Google searches I do, about a regular California community and a regular woman, maybe a mother, who is just essentially living in an almost boring way–and then, in what’s maybe the last two chapters, there is a nuclear holocaust. But that is such a small part of the book, maybe even an afterthought…

I’ll stop my list now. But I do admire the authors who write this way. I think it takes some courage to straddle the line, not just in style but in plotting, between genre and realistic fiction as they do, as genre readers may find such fiction slow, and literary readers may wonder why there has to be aliens in the story….

Urbanski’s story with the intriguing title “On the Problem of Replacement Children: Prevention, Coping, and Other Practical Strategies” appeared in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January/February 2017. Although you have to buy the issue to read it, the author interview about this story shows why that might be something you’d want to do —

Tell us a bit about “On the Problem of Replacement Children: Prevention, Coping, and Other Practical Strategies.”

I’ve been interested in the idea of speculative non-fiction these last few years: what if you took a certain emotional element of your life, put it in a speculative setting, and then wrote about it? So on the one hand, the emotions in this story capture my experience raising my son, who has autism, and my struggle to work through what I needed to work through, accept the child I actually have, and figure out how I can best be a parent to him. On the other hand, this is a fictional story about a world where children are snatched from under the lax eyes of their parents and replaced with a different child from another world….

(5) GHOST NOT INCLUDED. Who ya gonna call? The LA Times called the real estate agent — “Haunted Hollywood home of ‘Dracula’ legend Bela Lugosi for sale for $3 million”.

It’s been over 80 years since iconic cinema star Bela Lugosi slept in this stately Tudor in Beachwood Canyon, yet his reputation still haunts it. Whether it’s called Westshire Manor, Castle La Paloma, or simply the Bela Lugosi House, the remodeled mansion is now for sale for $3 million.

The hillside Los Angeles neighborhood where this mansion is perched is right under the world-famous “Hollywood” sign, and is in fact still known as “Hollywoodland,” which is what the sign said when it was first constructed.

Best known for playing Count Dracula, Lugosi moved around Los Angeles and was hard to pin down, but the best sources place him in this particular home between 1934 and 1937. Apparently he, his fourth wife, Lillian, and their large dogs, including Great Danes and a white German Shepherd, enjoyed hiking to what was the Hollywoodland sign at the time.

Lugosi wasn’t the only celebrity to inhabit the manor. Actress Kathy Bates lived there for several years. Considering her roles in “Misery” as well as “American Horror Story,” we thought Westshore Manor might have a scary actor vibe.

(6) WOTF LIVESTREAM. The Writers of the Future Awards ceremony will be livestreamed on Sunday, April 2 beginning at 6:30 p.m. (PDT).

Streaming will be live from writersofthefuture.com and Facebook.com/WritersandIllustratorsoftheFuture.

The event will open with a fire dance, featuring performers from EMCirque, a Hollywood and Las Vegas based Circus Entertainment Production Company. Concurrent with the dance, Rob Prior (creator of the poster art for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”) and Larry Elmore will execute a live painting on stage.

Celebrity presenters will include Erika Christensen (co-star “The Case for Christ” releasing April 2017) and Marisol Nichols (Hermione Lodge in the CW’s “Riverdale”).

…As the top names in the science fiction and fantasy world, contest judges will be on hand to present the annual awards to this year’s writer and illustrator winners as well as the grand prize winner for each contest.

Writer judges who will be attending include: Kevin J. Anderson, Gregory Benford, Dave Farland, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Nancy Kress, Larry Niven, Jody Lynn, Nye, Nnedi Okorafor, Jerry Pournelle, Tim Powers, Mike Resnick and Robert J, Sawyer.

Illustrator judges will include: Ciruelo, Echo and Lazarus Chernik, Larry Elmore, Val Lakey Lindahn, Sergey Poyarkov and Rob Prior.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY WARRIOR

  • Born March 29, 1968 – Lucy Lawless

(8) CROWNED WITH LAURELS. Alison Bechdel will be the next Vermont Cartoonist Laureate. If that name sounds familiar, then you’ve doubtless heard of the Bechdel Test named for her. The test — whether a work of fiction features at least two women or girls who talk to each other about something other than a man or boy – first appeared in her comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For in 1985.

Next Thursday, April 6, Edward Koren will pass the torch — er, laurels — to his successor, Alison Bechdel, as Vermont Cartoonist Laureate. In a ceremony at the Statehouse, the longtime Bolton resident, creator of the strip “Dykes to Watch Out For,” and author of Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic will become the third cartoonist laureate in the only state to regularly appoint one. The initiative originated with the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, the professional school founded by James Sturm and Michelle Ollie 10 years ago. Bechdel succeeds New Yorker cartoonist and Brookfield resident Koren, who in turn succeeded Vermont’s very first cartoonist laureate, James Kochalka of Burlington.

“It seemed obvious she could have been the choice from the get-go — we’re lucky to have so many great cartoonists in the state,” says Sturm of selecting Bechdel. “Besides all her accolades and fame, she’s really a cartoonist’s cartoonist. Cartooning is just essential to who she is and how she makes sense of the world.”

(9) MORE SCALZI BOOK TOUR STALKERS. There is now a “Johan Kalsi” YouTube channel and a second stalker video for it to host.

Made out to “Ted” (Theodore Beale) a.k.a Vox Day, John Scalzi encounters another unidentified member of the Dread Ilk, this time in Dallas, TX

 

(10) CH-CHING! Meanwhile, Nick Mamatas has discovered Bookscan is part of the vast conspiracy, or is accurately reporting sales of The Collapsing Empire, (probably the latter.)

(11) PLUG-INS, Roll on cyberpunk: Elon Musk creates brain-electrode firm.

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has launched Neuralink, a start-up which aims to develop technology that connects our brains to computers.

A report from the Wall Street Journal, later confirmed in a tweet by Mr Musk, said the company was in its very early stages and registered as a “medical research” firm.

The company will develop so-called “neural lace” technology which would implant tiny electrodes into the brain.

The technique could be used to improve memory or give humans added artificial intelligence. …

Specialists in the field envision a time when humans may be able to upload and download thoughts.

(12) ON THE GRIPPING HAND. While Musk’s scientists are coming up with next-generation advances, here’s what’s available today – and it’s pretty amazing. “Paralyzed Man Uses Thoughts To Control His Own Arm and Hand”.

First, surgeons implanted two electrode arrays in Kochevar’s brain. The electrodes detect signals coming from areas of his brain that once controlled his right hand and arm.

“We have an algorithm that sort of transforms those neural signals into the movements he intended to make,” says Robert Kirsch, a professor of biomedical engineering at Case Western.

But movement requires muscles. So doctors also implanted electrodes in muscles that control his arm and hand movements.

The final result was a system that could determine which movements Kochevar wanted to perform, then electrically stimulate the appropriate muscles in his arm.

(13) LEARNING CURVE. As part of getting enough English speakers in time for the Tokyo Olympics, Japan assigns Fawlty Towers and Red Dwarf as homework. Because you never know when it’s going to be necessary to tell someone they can’t drive a nail with a hamster.

Japan is struggling to make sure it has enough proficient English speakers when it hosts the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020.

And the classic BBC comedy series Fawlty Towers is being deployed by some teachers in an attempt to give Japanese students an example of spoken English – rather than focusing on written language and grammar.

Japan’s government and businesses want to use the Olympics to boost tourism and global trade and to present a positive image of Japan to the world.

So the government needs to ensure a supply of English speakers to be Olympic volunteers and work in the accommodation, tourism, and retail industries.

There is also a demand for professionals, such as doctors and nurses, to speak to visitors or competitors in English.

(14) BLOODSHED AND APPLE PIE. Two inseperable American traditions — Adrian Garro at Cut4.com says “Baseball is coming…and so are ‘Game of Thrones’ theme nights at MLB ballparks”.

This summer, fans of both baseball and GoT will have plenty to be excited about … because special Game of Thrones® theme nights are coming to ballparks around MLB — featuring commemorative collectibles, ticket packages, giveaways, special co-branded merchandise, social media events and a lot more.

MLB has staged promotions like this before — like, say, the trailer for “The Force Awakens” as reimagined by the Twins — but this will be on a whole other level.

HBO has yet to announce when Season 7 will get underway, but we do know it will be some time this summer. Currently, at least 19 teams are scheduled to participate, including the D-backs, Red Sox, Reds, White Sox, Astros, Dodgers, Royals, Marlins, Brewers, Twins, Athletics, Phillies, Pirates, Mariners, Giants, Cardinals, Rangers, Rays and Nationals.

Hold the door for more information coming soon about this partnership, which has to be the biggest news since Jon Snow coming back from … well, you know.

(15) OTHER MLB PROMOTIONS. Martin Morse Wooster also sent the link to Michael Clair’s article about this summer’s best Major League Baseball promotions because the author says the Noah-Syndergaard-as-Thor bobblehead is ranked as the number 1 giveaway by anybody this year.

In the original Marvel Comics, Thor inhabited Dr. Donald Blake’s body while on Earth. But that’s just a fictional story. In our actual universe, Thor inhabits Noah Syndergaard every fifth day. Thanks to the Mets and Marvel Comics, you can walk away with the depiction of this stunning transformation.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, David K.M. Klaus, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Pixel Scroll 7/30/16 Two Pixels Diverged In A Scroll, And I – I Took The One That Had The Most Bacon

(1) ALWAYS TO CALL IT RESEARCH. An appeals court affirmed that Luc Besson’s Lockout plagiarized John Carpenter’s Escape From New York.

The French filmmaker will have to fork over nearly half a million dollars

An appeals court has ruled that French filmmaker Luc Besson is guilty of plagiarizing from John Carpenter’s 1981 classic “Escape From New York” and must now pay the fellow filmmaker nearly half a million dollars.

As Yahoo reports, Besson has long denied that his 2012 thriller, “Lockout,” was a copy of Carpenter’s Kurt Russell-starring actioner. In Carpenter’s film, Russell plays a former government agent who is tasked with retrieving the U.S. president from the island of Manhattan — which has been turned into a massive prison — after his plane crashes there (thanks, Air Force One, thanks a lot). In “Lockout,” Pearce is a convict sent to a giant space jail who is given the chance to win back his freedom if he can rescue the U.S. president’s daughter, who is trapped in said giant space jail.

The court ruled that Besson’s film had “massively borrowed key elements” of Carpenter’s feature…

[Via Ansible Links.]

(2) MIDAMERICON LOSES HOTEL. The MidAmeriCon II committee announced on Facebook that one of its hotels will be unavailable, and members who reserved there are being shifted elsewhere:

HOTEL UPDATE: The Courtyard/Residence Inn has let us know that their construction has run over schedule and they will not be open in time for MidAmeriCon II. We have been working with their staff and Passkey to contact those displaced to advise them of the situation and to find our members a hotel room with one of our other contracted properties. Please be aware that the new reservations will not be in the individual hotel systems until later this week. Once that occurs, the affected members will be contacted with information on where they have been relocated and provided new confirmations. Any questions can be sent to hotel@midamericon2.org.

(3) FURNISHING THE NEXT STAR TREK. iDigital Times learned that “’Star Trek: Discovery’ Ship Has Its Captain’s Chair”.

Star Trek: Discovery showrunner Bryan Fuller revealed the captain’s chair aboard the starship U.S.S. Discovery NCC-1031. It’s very much in line with classic captains’ seats, with the swept open armrests of Jean-Luc Picard’s luxurious, tan cathedra.

 

(4) THE PRICE OF FAME. Of course, by “the price of fame” we mean what price the fans will pay. CNN Money has the going rates: “Want a picture with Captain Kirk? That’ll be $100”.

Star Trek’s massive 50th anniversary convention starts next week in Las Vegas, and celebrities have posted their prices for photos with fans.

…Resistance is, of course, futile.

Older actors who starred in Star Trek: The Original Series from the 1960s charge higher prices. And the clairvoyant Whoopi Goldberg tops the charts.

(5) OWL SERVICE. A gig on Fiverr: “I will design a Harry Potter Hogwarts Personalized Acceptance Letter for $5”.

acceptance letter

Have you been waiting forever for your special letter to come? OMG! Don’t wait anymore! You can receive your very own letter, stating that you’ve been accepted to Hogwarts and feel the magic! Makes the perfect Hogwarts gift for anyone of any age and it is fully personalised with their very own name and address.!

What you get is a PDF file – when you pay only $5, you have to provide your own bells and whistles….

(6) THE DISNEY-TOLKIEN INTERSECTION. The original story is on Cracked, but this Hello Giggles writer explains it more clearly. Maybe that’s because she’s sober. “This insane theory says ‘Snow White’ is a sequel to ‘Lord of the Rings’”

While Snow White’s dwarfs seem pretty standard—they’re short, unsocial, and obsessed with treasure—Diplotti explains that Tolkien took many of the names of his dwarves from a centuries-old Norse epic called the Voluspa, which has a section devoted to dwarf names and their meanings. Durin? That’s “Sleepy,” thank you very much. Dwalin, or “Dvalinn” in the “Voluspa,” is torpid, lazy, or sleepy. Oin? That would be “shy,” a.k.a. “bashful.” Well, that’s creepy!

(7) LIFE IS NOT A REHEARSAL. As Kameron Hurley frees herself, she offers hope to other writers: “You Don’t Owe Anyone Your Time”.

Certainly one in a position of privilege does have a moral imperative to state, “This atrocity is wrong.” But when you buckle down to engage the haters on any issue, consider what your end goal is in having that conversation, and consider what other valuable work you could be doing with that time. I can pretty much guarantee you that, say, writing The Geek Feminist Revolution and getting it into people’s hands was worth about a billion times more than spending that time arguing with dudes on the internet who were just there to distract me. They aren’t here to change minds. They are here to keep us from doing the work that changes the world.

We all have a finite amount of time on this earth. Those of us with chronic illness or who have had near-death experiences appreciate that more than others. I feel that it’s my moral imperative to remind you that you could get hit by a bus tomorrow. And if you did, would you regret how you’d spend the hour, the day, the week, the month, the year before?

My goal is to live the sort of life where I won’t feel I’ve wasted my time if I die tomorrow. It has kept me on target through a lot of bullshit. The truth is that all this shit is made up, and because it’s made up, it can be remade. But only if we focus our efforts on creating the work that moves the conversation forward, instead of letting ourselves get caught up in the distraction.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 30, 1932 — Walt Disney released his first color cartoon, “Flowers and Trees,” made in three-color Technicolor.
  • July 30, 1999Blair Witch Project released

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY TERMINATOR

  • Born July 30, 1947 — Arnold Schwarzenegger

(10) BANG THE GAVEL SLOWLY. Frank Darabont is auctioning off rare Hollywood memorabilia. The Hollywood Reporter explains:

Frank Darabont, the filmmaker behind The Shawshank Redemption who helped launch The Walking Dead on AMC, is parting ways with some of his most prized possessions.

The director is putting more than two dozen rare items up for the gavel Saturday as part of Profiles in History’s art and movie memorabilia auction — including plenty of items that would make fanboys and fangirls weak in the knees.

“One thing I’ve always known is this amazing art wouldn’t be mine forever. It couldn’t be. We don’t own these things. We can only be their caretakers for a time, enjoying them as much as possible until inevitably they must pass on to the next caretaker” Darabont said in a statement. “For me, that time has come. I won’t lie to you and say that parting with these things is easy. Trust me, it really, really isn’t. But the time for everything passes, and so has my position as caretaker. I will be ever grateful for the joy these wonderful pieces of art have brought me. I can only hope that they will bring their next caretakers (and all caretakers after that, ad infinitum) equal or greater joy.”

And Art Daily has more details about the items going up for auction.

Following the hugely successful sale of Frank Frazetta art from the collection of Dave Winiewicz, this unique auction will be presented in two sessions. Session One, The Frank Darabont Collection, includes original works by master artists Bernie Wrightson, Mike Mignola, Sanjulian, Jack Davis, Will Eisner, Eric Powell, Bob Peak, Rich Corben, Vaughn Bode, a bronze of the “Cyclops” creature by Ray Harryhausen, and rare movie posters including the only known Frankenstein 1941 Italian 4-fogli, and much more.

Session Two comprises a superb collection of vintage comic and illustration artwork featuring the finest original oil paintings by Frank Frazetta ever offered at auction, including “Sea Witch” (pre-sale estimate of $1,000,000 – $1,500,000) and “Bran Mak Morn” (pre-sale estimate of ($450,000 – $550,000), the most expensive Frazetta paintings ever offered at auction. These two paintings have never been offered for sale. The sale also features a wealth of works by “The Studio” artists Bernie Wrightson, Mike Kaluta, Jeffery Jones, and Barry Windsor-Smith, as well as Spider-Man art by John Romita, a Golden Age cover by Jack Kirby, horror and fantasy art by Richard Corben, an important work by John Buscema, among many other pieces by notable masters of the comic medium. Most of these works have been hidden away in private collections for decades, and this sale represents the first and likely only chance to obtain them.

 

(11) AUSTRALIA IS ON THE MOVE – LITERALLY. The BBC tells why “Australia plans new co-ordinates to fix sat-nav gap”

Because of the movement of the Earth’s tectonic plates, these local co-ordinates drift apart from the Earth’s global co-ordinates over time.

“If you want to start using driverless cars, accurate map information is fundamental,” said Mr Jaksa.

“We have tractors in Australia starting to go around farms without a driver, and if the information about the farm doesn’t line up with the co-ordinates coming out of the navigation system there will be problems.”

The Geocentric Datum of Australia, the country’s local co-ordinate system, was last updated in 1994. Since then, Australia has moved about 1.5 metres north.

So on 1 January 2017, the country’s local co-ordinates will also be shifted further north – by 1.8m.

Chip Hitchcock commented, when he sent the link: “A fascinating reminder that the world we live on is still changing. (I’d love to see comparable numbers for the US, cf the Grand Canyon docent snarking ‘If you want to go to Europe this is the year, because it will never be any closer.’) The story also quotes a claim that this inaccuracy affects self-driving cars, but I’d hope such cars would rely on immediate observation rather than stored memories of coordinates of fixed objects like curbs.”

(12) THE SHARK, DEAR. The Wrap reviews the sequel a day before it airs on SyFy: “’Sharknado 4’ Review: This Joke Has No Teeth Anymore”.

A joke might be funny the first time, but by the fourth time you hear it, the punchline gets tired.

“Tired” is a good description for “Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens,” which premieres Sunday on Syfy. Although the parody movie is as absurd and silly as the first three installments were, this time around the whole thing feels forced.

On one hand, you can tell stars Ian Ziering, Tara Reid and David Hasselhoff are having fun. Ziering even manages to mock his stint as a Chippendales dancer. But the novelty of this campy killer-shark franchise has clearly worn off, and now the nudges and winks from the made-for-TV flick’s cast and writers border on punishing.

(13) SOUTH KOREA’S GAMERGATE? NPR raises the spectre that “South Korea Is Contending With A ‘Gamergate’ Of Its Own – Over A T-Shirt”.

An online controversy over a South Korean voice actress’s tweeted image of a T-shirt has escalated into what is now being called East Asia’s version of Gamergate — a reference to the vitriolic controversy that pitted gamers, largely men, against women in tech.

Twelve hours after posting a photo of a shirt reading “Girls Do Not Need A Prince,” Kim Jayeon — who had been providing a voice for the popular video game Closers — was out of her job.

Part of the problem was the source of the shirt. It’s put out by Megalia4, a South Korean feminist group.

When Kim’s tweet surfaced on July 18, scores of male gamers demanded that she apologize for supporting what they call a “anti-man hate group.” When Kim refused to budge, they bombarded Nexon, her employer and publisher of Closers, with complaints and refund requests, and soon, she was out.

“We have to be responsive to our customers’ opinions,” Nexon told The Hankyoreh, a South Korean news outlet. “The voice actress exacerbated the issue by posting inflammatory tweets such as ‘what’s wrong with supporting Megalia?'”

(14) HANDICAPPING THE HUGOS: This reader predicts Chuck Tingle will get a rocket.

(15) MACII ONLINE PRE-REG ENDS AUGUST 5.

MidAmeriCon II will be closing online pre-registration for all classes of membership on Friday, August 5, 2016.  Fans planning to attend the convention are encouraged to buy their membership before this date, both to take advantage of the best membership rates and for maximum convenience when they arrive at the convention. Full (five-day) Adult Attending Membership rates will increase from $210 now to $240 at the door, while Young Adult and Military Attending Membership rates will increase from $100 now to $120 at the door. Pre-registered members may collect their badges and other membership materials from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, August 15 and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, August 16.  Members who can collect their materials on these days can expect to benefit from reduced waiting times.

Full details of all MidAmeriCon II membership categories and rates, as well as at-con opening hours, can be found on the convention website at http://midamericon2.org/home/registration-hotel-member-information/registration/.

(16) YELLOW F&SF DAYS. Paul Fraser at About SF Magazines provides a retro review of “The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction #5, December 1950”.

(17) TREK BREW. The Nerdist relays plans to “Celebrate 50 years of Star Trek with golden anniversary beer”.

Trek Pale Ale

A quote:

“Star Trek Golden Anniversary Ale: The Trouble With Tribbles” will debut at the premiere of Star Trek Beyond, at the IMAX Embarcadero Marina Park on July 20, and Comic-Con at the San Diego Convention Center on July 21 – 24. It will also available at the “Star Trek Las Vegas” convention at the Rio Hotel & Casino from August 3 – 7, 2016. Then in the fall, Shmaltz will bring Voyage to the Northeast Quadrant to the Mission New York Convention at the Javits Center from September 2 – 4, 2016.

(18) JULES VERNE MOVIE. The Galactic Journey crew was among the first to see what they dubbed “[July 30, 1961] 20,000 Leagues in a Balloon (Jules Vern’s Mysterious Island)”.

Perhaps the most famous of Verne’s protagonists is Captain Nemo, skipper of the magnificent submarine, the Nautilus.  In 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, adapted to film in 1953, Nemo led a one-man crusade against war, sinking the world’s warships in the cause of pacifism.

My daughter and I just came back from the premiere of Mysterious Island, the latest translation of a Verne novel.  It is a sequel of sorts to 20,000 Leagues, though this is not immediately apparent from the beginning.  The initial setting is the siege of Richmond at the end of the American Civil War.  Four Yankee prisoners make a daring escape in a balloon along with an initially wary, but ultimately game, Confederate prisoner.  The film begins with no indication of where it’s going other than the title (and the mention of Nemo in the cast list – an unfortunate spoiler).

(19) APOLLO TREK. Space.com’s Leonard David has a piece about how George Takei and Buzz Aldrin got an assist from William Shatner to celebrate the 47th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing and the 50th anniversary of Star Trek at Cape Canaveral.

An audience of some 250 people took part in the evening event, which was dominated by a huge Saturn 5 moon rocket perched overhead. The occasion raised funds for Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s ShareSpace Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring children to be passionate about science, technology, engineering, the arts and math.

The anniversary gala was hosted by George Takei, best known for his portrayal of Mr. Sulu in the original “Star Trek” TV series and movies….

Takei had a special surprise video beamed in from one of his “Star Trek” crewmates — William Shatner, who played USS Enterprise Capt. James T. Kirk.

Shatner said he wished he could be present at the Apollo 11 anniversary event. He was in Los Angeles, tied to a previous engagement with the other starship captains of “Star Trek” celebrating the past 50 years, Shatner said.

(20) UNSPARING CHANGE. Black Gate’s Derek Kunsken experiences “A Tremendously Disappointing Re-Read: The Soaked-in Misogyny of Piers Anthony’s Xanth”

How bad is the sexism and misogyny? I mean, can we cut it some slack because it was published in 1977?

Um. No. The 1970s were the 1970s, but there were still lots of remarkable writers creating compelling stories with well-rounded characters back then.

All the female characters in the first two novels occupy a narrow range of man-created stereotyped roles that were already fossils in the 1970s. Anthony has:

  1. the dumb love interest,
  2. the smart love interest,
  3. the nagging love interest, and
  4. the cautionary tales for Bink’s choice of love interest.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Keith Kato, Martin Morse Wooster, Dawn Incognito, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Pixel Scroll 6/27/16 770 Sunset Scroll

(1) BREAKING IT DOWN. Damien G. Walter contemplates “Systems fiction: a novel way to think about the present” in The Guardian.

Weirdly enough, science fiction is not the best lens through which to examine science fiction. In the 80s, critic Tom LeClair came up with an alternative category for all the weird literary novels that veered into speculative territory: the systems novel. These books pick apart how the systems that keep society chugging along work: politics, economics, sex and gender dynamics, science, ideologies – all can be explored through fiction, especially experimental fiction. LeClair applied this tag specifically to Don DeLillo, but it can be expanded more widely: think Thomas Pynchon, Margaret Atwood, David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Franzen, Jennifer Egan and Umberto Eco, among others….

“The future is here,” William Gibson famously said. “It’s just not evenly distributed.” And in these difficult times, the visionary possibilities of the systems novel can be comforting. When we’re in the capable hands of guides like Atwood, DeLillo and Robinson, these novels can be a profound reminder of human progress and potential. In the wake of the EU result, and ahead of the US elections, if you are feeling at all unsettled about the future – go read these books today.

(2) POST-BREXIT FASHION. Jim Mowatt’s FB page displayed a “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted Remain” t-shirt, and I made an idle joke that the marathon runner should really be wearing a different slogan – which Alison Scott immediately made available (or that’s the impression I got).

i voted rhino

(3) WHAT’S UP WITH SFWA. Episode 3 of the SFWA Chat Hour features SFWA Board Members Jennifer Brozek and Matthew Johnson, CFO Bud Sparhawk, and President Cat Rambo.

Includes discussion of what the criteria for game writers will be like and when they’ll go out (hint: soon!). Also the usual books we like, writing advice, reports on the Locus Weekend, Stokercon and Origins, and ice cream vs. sherbet, in which we unanimously vote for ice cream.

 

(4) CAMESTROS FELAPTON. When not busily engaged arm-wrestling with Vox Day about their IQs, Camestros turns his talents to the visual arts.

(5) HORROR PODCAST. The Horror Writers Association recommends the Scary Out There podcast. The latest installment offers a dialog with Kaitlin Ward, the author of Bleeding Earth (Adaptive Books, February 2016). Listen to the episode here.

Hello Horror Fanatics! Today Scary Out There is sitting down with Kaitlin Ward, the author of Bleeding Earth (Adaptive Books, February 2016). Listen as Kaitlin discusses how she came up with the idea for Bleeding Earth, why it’s important for children and teens to read horror, what scary books she recommends, and more.

Kaitlin Ward grew up on a dairy farm in Monroe, New Hampshire, the same town where she lives today with her husband and son. Before settling back in her hometown, Kaitlin studied animal science at Cornell University. She co-founded the well-known blog, YA Highway, and by day she works at a company that sells coins. Bleeding Earth is her debut novel. Kaitlin’s new book, The Farm, will be released by Scholastic in 2017. Keep up with Kaitlin at kaitlin-ward.com and follow her on Twitter @Kaitlin_Ward.

Kaitlin recommends the following horror titles: Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics (Harlequin Teen, September 2016); Relic by Gretchen McNeil (HarperCollins/EpicReads Impulse, March 2016)

(6) FANS WHO SNORT. In the July/August Fantasy & Science Fiction, David Gerrold has a novelette called “The Thing on the Shelf” that begins as a report on the 2013 World Horror Convention, which hands out the Bram Stoker Award.

“The World Horror Convention was one of the better conventions I attended. Horror fans are clean, well-dressed, intelligent, polite, and enthusiastic. I have no idea why this is so. (Although I have to admit I was a little put off by the beautiful woman who came up to me and said she wanted to lick my Stoker. I wasn’t sure what she meant by that, and I’m not up on this year’s crop of new slang terms.)”

He adds the following:

“At one con, a young fan saw my badge had the ‘Pro’ ribbon attached, so he leaned forward and read my name.  ‘I never heard of you,’ he said. ‘What did you write?’

I replied, “I wrote the novelization of Battle of the Planet of the Apes. I said it with deadpan pride.

He snorted and walked off, his way of showing how unimportant I was.”

(7) DININ’ GAIJIN. Liz Braswell tells the readers of Eating Authors about a memorable meal in Japan. The best part follows this excerpt.

My husband, my crazy-blond toddler, my sister Sabrina and I were in Japan for work and fun — the vacation of a lifetime. One night Scott took the baby and a colleague of his took Sabrina and me for a night out on the town. Mutsumi asked us where we wanted to go and of course we answered someplace super obscure no Americans have been to Japanese only please we’ll behave.

She very nicely obliged and led us through the labyrinth of streets, around and around and deeper and deeper into Tokyo. Most of the city doesn’t follow a grid system and buildings are addressed by age rather than specific location; were my sister and I by ourselves we never would have found our way in or out of the tiny neighborhood we eventually wound up in. And forget about stumbling upon the tiny, unmarked, second-floor restaurant where we were, indeed, the only gaijin.

Everything about the place was perfect: from the rustic tables and wooden shutters to the little button one presses to ring for a waiter—otherwise diners are left in perfect privacy. The sake came in hand-thrown cups, Mutsumi ordered for us, we behaved.

We wanted to stop drinking at one point, but apparently that would not have been behaving, so we continued….

(8) EXIT POLL. Nicholas Whyte ranks his Retro and regular Hugo picks in “My Hugo and #RetroHugos1941 votes: Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)”. In second place on his Retro Hugo ballot —

2) The Adventures of Superman: “The Baby from Krypton”

The only radio play in the mix (as opposed to two years ago, when we had four radio plays and a TV play than nobody had seen), it’s the origin story of Superman, and does what it says on the tin perfectly competently. Lara, Kal-El’s mother, is played by Agnes Moorehead, later Endora in Bewitched.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • June 27, 1927 — “Captain Kangaroo” Bob Keeshan
  • June 27, 1966 — J.J. Abrams

(10) SKIFFY AND FANTY. I tend not to cover podcasts — even with hearing aids I’m not able to listen to them effectively. I will say the blurb for this episode of The Skiffy and Fanty Show makes it sound pretty irresistible: 298. Sphere (1998) — A Torture Cinema “Adventure”.

Eggs, squid, and bad dreams, oh my!  Our latest listener-directed Torture Cinema episode has finally arrived.  This time, we discuss the infamous adaptation of Michael Crichton’s Sphere starring Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, Samuel L. Jackson, and more!  At least two of us have a bit of a rant about this movie, so you should expect some pure, unadulterated Skiffy and Fanty rage in this episode!

(11) AND SOMETHING BUT THE TRUTH. Alexandra Erin is right on the money about “Sad Boner Confessionals”.

You can tell you’re reading a Sad Boner Confessional when the language suggests a high wire act where the author is trying to achieve some delicate balance between “I’m a sensitive man” and “BUT I’M A MAN” and wants you to sympathize with the contortions he puts himself through as  a result. You can tell you’re reading a Sad Boner Confessional when a man is describing the worst trauma of a woman’s life purely in terms of what it means about him. You can tell you’re reading a Sad Boner Confessional when a man is telling you everything he’s learned from the mistakes he’s made but none of those things are accountability or personal responsibility. You can tell you’re reading a Sad Boner Confessional when all admissions of past sins have a sheen of humblebragging about them.

(12) LABYRINTH. The BBC article “Why Labyrinth is so memorable” talks about the advantages of real-time puppetry over computer animation. Chip Hitchcock comments, “They don’t discuss how/if the gap has been narrowed by motion capture; would be interesting to see discussion of this — or any input by Mary Robinette Kowal, who has done fascinating convention talks about the practice of puppetry and the theory behind it.”

Jim Henson’s beloved 1986 movie musical Labyrinth, one of only two non-Muppets films the legendary puppeteer directed, is famous for several reasons.

Fans of David Bowie will recall visions of the late musician wearing extremely tight trousers that fail to obscure an enormously large codpiece. Bowie wrote and performed all the songs, including the iconic Dance Magic Dance. He plays a nefarious, all-singing, all-dancing king of a fantasy world of goblins, castles and all manner of strange colourful creatures.

One of Labyrinth’s best-known scenes is a sensational finale that takes place on a set modelled on Escher staircases. It is also the production that brought a then-unknown, then-15-year-old Jennifer Connelly to the public’s attention.

… One of the first creatures she encounters in the Goblin King’s fantastical world is a dwarf named Hoggle: a morally dubious, Sméagol-esque character whose motives and allegiances are unclear. With a huge lumpy nose, spurts of shoulder-length white hair and a crinkled, finely detailed face, Hoggle is an amazing puppet, at once both magical and realistic.

His seemingly effortless facial and body movements required the collaboration of six people working in real time. The character’s large face contained 18 motors, which were manipulated off-frame by four crew members using remote controls. Diminutive actor Shari Weiser controlled Hoggle’s body and Brian Henson, Jim’s son, provided his voice.

(13) STOPWATCH. Are you worried about how long Suicide Squad will run? ScreenRant is going to tell you anyway.

Collider has heard from their sources that Suicide Squad runs approximately 130 minutes with credits. Its DCEU predecessors were both in the range of 2.5 hours, meaning Suicide Squad will be about 20 minutes shorter than either Man of Steel or Dawn of Justice. Considering the sheer amount of characters Ayer is working with, some may be concerned that Squad is actually too short, but a shade over two hours gives him plenty of time to flesh everything out. After all, Star Wars: The Force Awakens had a lot on its plate and accomplished it all in 136 minutes.

(14) A DIFFERENT DICTIONARY. John G. Hartness, in Magical Words’ “Making Money Mondays” post, uses a commercial definition of “Fans v. True Fans”.

Now on to our main topic – fans. Now I’m not ever going to bash fans, because I love my fans. Hell, I love everybody’s fans, because I’m a fan myself. But what we want to talk about today is the concept of the True Fan, what they are, how best to interact with them, how to find them, how to keep them. Looking at that, it’s going to take more than one post, so this week we’ll talk about what a True Fan is, then later on ee’ll look at how to cultivate them, how to deal with them, and how to convert a Lesser Fan into a True Fan.

For the record, exactly ZERO of this material is anything I came up with. The concept of 1,000 True Fans was first put forth by Kevin Kelly in 2008 on his blog post here. He later references a couple of other folks who had similar ideas a little earlier, unbeknownst to him, but his site, with a tip of the hat to Seth Godin, who wrote the blog post that first turned me on to Kevin’s work.

Kelly postulates that any independent artist, that is any artist outside the big machine of superstar entertainment, needs to cultivate only 1,000 True Fans to survive. BTW, this whole blog post came out of a late-night conversation with AJ Hartley, where I claimed the number was 100. I’m bad at math. He defines a True Fan as someone who spends $100 per year on your work, and those thousand people then contribute to a $100,000 annual income, which is a pretty comfortable living in most places. At least that’s the rumor. I’m a writer, I don’t make anywhere near that kind of money.

So what’s a True Fan, and how do I get their hundred bucks? I assume that’s what you’re all asking. In this case, it’s usually a lot easier to show you than tell you….

(15) DON’T BE ALARMED. George R.R. Martin expressed gratitude about winning a Locus Award together with Gardner Dozois, and he couldn’t resist adding a punchline.

All kidding aside, I am very proud of OLD VENUS, and I know Gardner is as well. There are some terrific stories in there, and one that in any normal year would have been a surefire Hugo finalist. This is the third year in a row that one of the original anthologies that I’ve done with Gardner has won the Locus Award, and I can’t tell you how gratifying that is. Gardner and I both began our careers (a long time ago) with short fiction, and it pleases me no end to be able to provide a showcase for some of the extraordinary short stories, novelettes, and novellas still being written in this age of the series and the meganovel. If you don’t read anthologies, friends, you are missing out on some great stuff.

Oh, and before the crazy internet rumors start flying, I had better say that I was only kidding about OLD URANUS….

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peter J.]

Pixel Scroll 6/25/16 All My Kzins Remembered

(1) PHOTOS FROM THE LOCUS AWARDS.

File 770 was a Locus Award finalist in the magazine category and I did arm someone with an acceptance statement in case I unexpectedly won. It never occurred to me to dramatize my feelings about losing, however, I see First Novel nominee Sylvia Moreno-Garcia refused to admit defeat. (Or was that just her reaction to Nick Mamatas?)

My designated accepter, Suzle Tompkins, stands at the right of this photo.

(2) THUMB UP. Gary Westfahl delivers his verdict at Locus Online: “The Fogeys of July: A Review of Independence Day: Resurgence”. BEWARE SPOILERS.

Since I was recently complimented at a conference for writing “honest” film reviews, I feel obliged to begin this one by conveying my honest reaction to Independence Day: Resurgence: although I was bored and appalled by the original Independence Day (1996), and utterly baffled by its tremendous popularity, I somehow found its belated sequel to be surprisingly engaging, even moving, despite some obvious issues in its logic and plausibility. Perhaps this indicates that I am finally becoming senile, unable to distinguish between worthwhile entertainment and reprehensible trash; perhaps this is a sign of the times, so that a film modeled on a film that stood out in 1996 for its risible inanity and clumsy manipulativeness now seems, amidst scores of similar films, merely typical, or even a bit superior to its lamentable competitors. Perhaps, though, it is simply a better film than its precursor, the theory that merits some extended exploration.

(3) ONLINE COMICS. David Brin is back with “A look at Science Fiction webcomics: Part 3”.

Crowded Void, by Mike West offers one of the more unusual concepts. Finding Earth too crowded and people rather distasteful, Vincent Foxwell thought he could find peace when he took a job on a cargo vessel, hauling junk in space, with only an AI for company. Space turns out to be more crowded than he imagined…. when his spacecraft is swallowed by a massive space worm, where there is already an intestinal civilization of over a million humans and aliens, jockeying for position in the worm’s digestive cycle. He must find a way to escape… before digestion is complete. But first he must deal with the The Joint Intestinal Monarchy, which controls the worm, harvesting parts from spaceships. No end of good material for humor… a new theory of wormholes? Start at the beginning here.

(4) BANDERSNATCH. Charles de Lint reviewed Diana Pavlac Glyer’s Bandersnatch in the July/August Fantasy & Science Fiction.

Yes, there is a wonderful font of information about the Inklings, but it also provides one of the better guides to the collaborative process, including a chapter with the end about how to get the most out of a group set up in a style similar to that of the Inklings.  I think one of the best  pieces of advice she gives is the difference between “I don’t personally like this’ and ‘This isn’t any good’ in critiquing a manuscript.

To writers setting up a writing group, I recommend Bandersnatch wholeheartedly,  That said, those who simply love to read–especially those who particularly appreciate the work of Tolkien, Lewis, and Williams–will find much to enjoy as well.

(6) EAU DE MIDCHLORIAN. When you wear Star Wars Perfumes, the Force is with you….

The trilogy of futuristic “must have” perfumes transfers the essence of the Star Wars universe skillfully into a fascinating world of fragrances, which represent the best-known elements and characters from the saga.

The products are presented in a luxurious and lavish flacon which draws upon the symbolism of probably the most emblematic element of the movie – the lightsaber.

There’s Amidala, for women, and Jedi, and Empire for men.

AMIDALA inspired this fragrance through her royal elegance as well as by her strong, indomitable will. The elegant and sensual notes of vanilla, musk and patchouli are complemented by a fruity top note of apple and tangerine and merges into a sovereign seductive aura for any situation by day and by night; a floral perfume with oriental and powdery notes, which makes its wearer irresistible.

Should you want to smell like Darth Vader, spritz yourself liberally with this stuff —

EMPIRE covers you with an aura of masculinity and power. A scent that captures the dark side of the Force; mystical, formidable and superior. It starts with a sparkle of fruity notes from lime and apple. Powerful chords of amber, patchouli and tonka-bean characterize the powerful heart and base note that refine the composition. The result is a distinctive, oriental, seductive fragrance – perfect for the night, made for men which one better does not get in the way.

I just love that The Mary Sue kicks off its post about these perfumes with a GIF from the first Star Wars movie showing our heroes in the garbage bin and Han Solo demanding, “What an incredible smell you’ve discovered.”

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 25, 1951 — On this day in 1951, CBS aired the first commercial color television network broadcast. At the time, no color TV sets were owned by the public. The broadcast was seen on color TV sets in public buildings. (Emphasis on commercial – there were other network broadcasts in color the previous year, 1950.)
  • June 25, 1982 — John Carpenter’s The Thing, seen for the first time on this day.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • June 25, 1925 — June Lockhart, whom some remember from Lassie, while fans remember her from Lost in Space.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • June 25, 1903 – George Orwell

(10) MARK THIS DATE: Neil Gaiman will be on Late Night with Seth Meyers next Friday night, July 1.

(11) HARD TO WIN. Chuck Tingle had a good excuse for not getting a Locus Award.

(12) BREXIT DEBRIEFING. Camestros Felapton registered his disapproval of Brexit by refusing to art containing a notorious Leave supporter.

Not doing cat pictures because Timothy is still running around the house wearing a mop and pretending to be Boris Johnson whilst shouting “effinEurolosers” at squirrels.

(13) FREE SPEECH. The July Harper’s Magazine excerpted the brief the Language Creation Society filed in the Axanar lawsuit claiming that CBS and Paramount did not have copyright over the Klingon language.

Plaintiffs claim copyright over the entire Klingon language.  The notion is meqHutlh (‘lacking reason.’)  If this court commits this qab qech (“bad idea”), an entire body of thought will be extinguished.  Hoch jaghpu’Daj HoHbogh Suvwl’ ylvup-‘ (‘Pity the warrior who kills all his enemies.’)  By Plaintiffs’ account, everyone who translates something into Klingon, writes a poem in Klingon, gives a speech or presentation at a Klingon Language Institute meeting or Star Trek convention, or gives lessons on how to speak Klingon is a copyright infringer. Qam ghu’vam, loD!  (“This will not stand, man!”)  Plaintiffs’ argument that ‘a language is only useful if it can be used to communicate with people, and there are no Klingons with whom to communicate’ is an insulting assertion.  Many humans speak Klingon.  People get married in Klingon.  Linguist d’Armond Speers spent three years teaching his infant son how to speak Klingon. Speaking and writing in Klingon is not simply a matter of transposing words from a different language, either.  The Sesame Street theme-song lyric ‘Sunny day, chasing the clouds away’ translates into Klingon as jaj pen puQmo’, chaw’nIS je Jaj ‘ej Haw’raDchen, or ‘Day of the daytime star, the clouds are filled with dread and forced to flee.’  Klingon is not just a language, but a state of mind.

(14) TEMPLE GRANDIN. A Blank on Blank animation of an interview with Temple Grandin contains lots of food for thought for geeks and nerds. (Don’t be thrown off by the Squarespace ad about 4:30, because Grandin resume talking for another 90 seconds when it’s done.)

(15) RAINING ON A PARADE. Jesse Hudson, in a review of Alastair Reynolds’ Chasm City for Speculiction, compares its execution unfavorably with an Iain Banks standby.

This is important to note given the bifurcated storyline, and its intended effect. Seemingly an emulation of the narrative structure of Iain Banks Use of Weapons, Reynolds’ adherence to plot above character does not allow the big reveals to be very big. I will not spoil the story for those unable to put one and one (not even two and two) together, but suffice to say the underlying reality of the situation is telegraphed in the least subtle ways the length of the novel, emphasized by the lack of complete coherence at the character level. Where Banks’ story resolves itself in surprising fashion upon the final chapter, a surprise that feeds logically back through the entire book, I have doubts Chasm City does the same for the majority of readers—this coming from a person who is terrible at predicting endings

I’m not implying any defect in Hudson’s opinion of Reynolds’ book, but I have to say I saw the ending of Use of Weapons coming from a long way off. To me, Banks’ success was in delivering the expected “surprise” in an elegant way.

(16) TOM REAMY. Joachim Boaz reminds readers about a strong award contender, now forgot, Tom Reamy’s Blind Voices (1978), at Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations.

Tom Reamy’s Blind Voices (1978) was nominated for the Nebula, Hugo, and BFSA awards and came in second in Locus voting for best novel in 1979.  Posthumously released, Reamy died of a heart attack while writing in the fall of 1977 at 42.  His take on small town America transformed by the arrival of a traveling circus and its array of wonders will stay with you for years to come.  The science fiction elements (revealed more than halfway through the novel) interlace and add to the elegiac and constrained fantasy feel.  The specter of sexuality and violence spells cataclysm.

(17) OLD SCHOOL FAN. In a piece cleverly titled “Trexit”, Steve Davidson says “Get off Star Trek’s lawn!”

Alec Peters, you asked for it and you got it.  A set of fan work guidelines for the Star Trek universe that pretty much kills everything except maybe Lego animations. (Which are fine for what they are, but…)

I don’t personally do fanfic, fan films, fan art, etc., I’m sufficiently happy to stick with the originals, lament the lack of “more of the same”, and to spend some time dithering over whether or not I want to invest in the latest whatever released by the franchise holders.

But maybe that’s because I’m an old school fan with old school ideas about how one goes about engaging with someone else’s property….

(18) A LIZARD WITHOUT THUNDER. At Galactic Journey, The Traveler is falling out of love with one of the major prozines: “[June 25, 1961] The Twilight Years (July 1961 Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Like Victorian ladies’ hats, the dinosaurs became increasingly baroque until they were too ungainly to survive.

I worry that The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is heading in that direction.  I’m all for literary quality in my sf mags, but F&SF has been tilting so far in the purple direction that it is often all but unreadable.  I present Exhibit A: the July 1961 “All-Star” issue.

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

F&SF on Kindle

Kindle customers who subscribe can receive all of F&SF’s editorial content and one short story at no cost. This includes editor’s recommendations, “Curiosities” (odd books of enduring interest), film reviews, book reviews, cartoons and humor, and “Coming Attractions” (highlights of each issue).

The complete content of each issue is available for $12 a year — with everything in the digest edition plus several additional short stories and novelettes. Individual issues of the extended edition are available for $2.99. F&SF publishes six times a year.

Stephen King, in his capacity as a long-time fan of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, applauded the arrangement: “This is the best fiction magazine in America. Kindle readers are in luck.”

[Thanks to Michael Walsh for the link.]