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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Ready Player One

“Really properly good fun!”

 

  • Annihilation (audio only)

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

 

  • A Wrinkle in Time

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

 

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

Pixel Scroll 2/25/18 I, Pixel

By JJ:

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

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

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

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

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

He set me free.

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

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

And then I was accused of being a harasser.

And then the same woman recanted her accusation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

lose.

his.

shit.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Shortly afterward, Spectacle Magazine published the following tweet:

Another author on Twitter noted, with astonishment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Friend (Author), Annoying Person (Editor)

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

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

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

All she did was tweak the words.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“May I see the note?” I asked.

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

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

(12) BIRTHDAYS.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

– photo by von Dimpleheimer

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

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

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

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

Even worse, your fursona name is also displayed.

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

Known affected furry cons:

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

Known affected non-furry cons:

  • Arisia
  • RustyCon

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

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

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

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

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

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

(19) WHY SETI IS CONTRAINDICATED.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Pixel Scroll 9/9/17 The Map Is Not The Epic Fantasy Just As The Pixel Is Not The Scroll

(1) FURRY COUNCILMAN OUSTED. A city councilman in the eastern U.S. was pressured into quitting after his activities as a furry fan became a source of public controversy. The Danbury, Connecticut News Times has the story: “New Milford councilman resigns after furor over ‘furry’ activities”.

Town Council member Scott Chamberlain had never made a secret of his deep involvement in Furry Fandom, a subculture of adults who dress in mascot-like animal costumes, attend role-playing conventions and interact regularly online.

But an uproar ensued when a town resident posted on a community Facebook page several screenshots of Chamberlain’s profile from a private website catering to “furries,” many of whom participate in or write about unusual sexual practices. The profile includes a list of Chamberlain’s “loves,” “likes” and “hates,” some sexual in nature, but also said that he “tolerates” rape.

In an interview at midday Thursday, Chamberlain explained his involvement in the “furry” community as a harmless hobby.

“It’s nothing to do with sex; it’s an interest in cartoon animals,” said the first-term Democrat, who was up for re-election.

But Mayor David Gronbach, saying elected officials should be held to a “higher standard,” called for Chamberlain’s immediate resignation, and within two hours party officials said he would resign all his town and party positions by Monday morning.

(2) PROGRESS. The “Help Lezli See (Eye Surgery)” campaign has now raised $6,525 of its $8,000 goal. The contributions have come from 130 donors, including Game of Thrones producer David Benioff.

(3) GENRE GROWTH. At Amazing Stories David Gerrold has a guest editorial, “Humanity’s’ R&D Department – Science Fiction”.

The evolution of science fiction is a reflection of our changing culture. Attitudes that were commonplace in the past have been recognized as antiquated, quaint, and obsolete.

Our national conversation is the result of our diverse history. We’re not the proverbial melting pot — no, we’re a tossed salad. Every new wave of immigrants adds new ingredients to the mix, new flavors to discover; but all arrive with the same dream, a place to build a better life. We are immigrants, or we are the descendants of immigrants, and as a people we are learning to recognize the strength and value of our national diversity — it gives us a greater sense of the global village.

So, yes, it is inevitable that science fiction authors will explore that diversity — expanded roles for women, new definitions of gender and sexuality, the contributions of People of Color and other non-white ethnicities. We’ve discovered the overlooked skills of the aged and the disabled, the unusual and extraordinary ratiocinations of people who are neuro-atypical. The next generation of authors are exploriong vast new landscapes of possibility — places to explore and discover ways of being human previously unconsidered.

Even as science extends its reach outward, probes journeying as far as Pluto, telescopes peering to the farthest edges of the universe, as we expand our knowledge of what’s out there, some of our most ambitious authors are turning their attention to a different frontier —exploring the workings of the human soul.

We’ve seen some remarkable work, truly transformative — mind bending. Yes, it’s non-traditional — so what? Science fiction has always been non-traditional. It has always been “that weird stuff.” It has always been subtly subversive — and sometimes even openly dangerous.

(4) SPACE FOR YOU. Brandon O’Brien muses about the genre:

Further down he says:

(5) STRANGE HORIZONS. Elsewhere, O’Brien encourages people to participate in the “Strange Horizons Fund Drive 2017”. $4,726 out of $16,000.

(6) AWARD WORTHY. The Hugo Award Book Club waxes nostalgic about “The science fiction art of Erik Nitsche”.

There was no Hugo Award given for Best Artist in 1957 at the 15th Worldcon in London. But since awards were given in other categories, there is no provision in the current rules of the WSFS constitution to award any Retro Hugos for that year. Which is a shame, because some of the finest work from one of the most innovative graphic designers of the era had started verging into the realm of science fiction in 1955 and 1956. The name Erik Nitsche is rarely brought up in conversations of science fiction, but is well-known to historians of graphic design. In 1955, the Swiss-born designer had been hired by General Dynamics to create promotional imagery for the organization’s annual International Conferences on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy (ICPUAE).

(7) WASTED ON THE YOUNG? In The Guardian, Joanna Walsh asserts “All the awards for young writers amount to discrimination”.

A few years ago I wrote an article for the Guardian on ageism in the literary world, about the predilection of publications like Granta, the New Yorker and Buzzfeed for authors under the age of 40. The problem hasn’t gone away and on Tuesday I wrote an open letter to the Royal Society of Literature, after it called for nominations for 40 new fellows under 40.

Encouraging young writers is laudable. After all, it’s increasingly difficult to get started. Publishers’ advances are low and getting lower; arts degrees are more expensive than Stem subjects; social security is fiercely tested. Which must mean that those most able to pay for a writing course, or those most able to take time off work to write while still young, are those most likely to have money, security, contacts, confidence. There’s a correlation between setting an age bar and encouraging the already privileged.

All writers were young once, and many start writing young, but not all begin their careers as published authors at that point. Leaving aside the fact that some only decide to start writing later in life, many factors affect one’s ability to commit to writing seriously. Besides income issues, age bars can lead an organisation into worrying territory. Authors from outside the perceived cultural mainstream who do not already see their voices represented – LGBTQ writers, writers of colour – are sometimes slow to recognise the contribution they can make, or to feel like their voices will be valued.

Age is a feminist issue. Careers, delayed by years looking after children or other dependents, are mostly women; residencies that offer no childcare or require long stays are an easy way to sift female candidates out of contention. Older women are already told every day, in ways ranging from the subtle to the blatant, that they are irrelevant and should shut up. Multiply this by, say, race or gender, and the courage required to put work out is even greater. Or the potential writer might not be the carer, but the cared-for. Writers who live with a disability or ill-health may not start out until they have found a way to write with their condition – which may take longer than this 40-years-old rule allows for.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 9, 1927 — Silent horror-comedy The Cat and the Canary turns 90 today.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian found one it takes a moment to figure out: The Argyle Sweater.
  • It’s Daredevil vs. Spider-man at Bliss.

(10) JUST PLAIN FOWL. The Guardian profiles actor Michael Keaton: “Michael Keaton: ‘There was a lot of bad taste in the 90s and I contributed to that’”.

He has made a career out of taking the unpredictable route: you can never guess his next role, and then he never plays it the way you’d expect. In his breakthrough movie, 1983’s Mr Mom, Keaton played a stay-at-home father at a time when such a concept was almost unheard of, and he played him as a man who has no idea how to do any of the stereotypically masculine jobs around the house; when asked if he’s rewiring the house with 220 volts, Keaton adlibbed, “220, 221, whatever it takes”. He was the dazzlingly frenetic lead in Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice, a largely improvised performance opposite fellow ghosts Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis. With Burton again, he played Batman as a conflicted nerd, rather than a grinning muscle man. In Birdman, he plays an actor so neurotic, he ends up running through Manhattan in his underwear.

(11) PRATCHETT INSPIRES FAST FOOD AD. Arby’s is known for its roast beef, not its Morpork….

(12) HISTORY CORRECTED. Have researchers finally discovered Sweden’s real-life version of Lady Brienne of Tarth or Xena the Warrior Princess? “Viking warrior found in Sweden was a woman, researchers confirm”.

The grave, which Hedenstierna-Jonson describes as the world’s “ultimate warrior Viking grave”, was discovered and excavated by Swedish archeologist Hjalmar Stolpe at the end of the 19th century. Because of the “manly” warrior equipment found in the grave, it was just assumed – rather than proven – that the remains were that of a man.

But a few years ago, Anna Kjellström, an osteologist at the Stockholm University, brought out the remains to study them for another research project and noticed that something was amiss. The cheekbones were finer and thinner than that of a man, and the hip bones were typically feminine. An osteological analysis was carried out, lending even more support to her suspicion.

Now, however, a DNA-analysis has been carried out, clearly confirming that the Viking warrior was indeed a woman.

(13) WEEDING THE PLOT. Your cabal curator, Shaun Duke:

(14) PLUNGE RIGHT IN. Beware: John Scalzi is a language prescriptivist and a plumber.

(15) GRITE LITERATURE. Camestros Felapton has had a busy day, posting chapters from Timothy the Talking Cat’s work in progress, Chiseled McEdifice: Returns.

Just then a gunshot rang out and a bullet ricocheted off his space marine helmet (he was wearing his space marine helmet obviously – look at the cover image). The HUD display flickered on in his helmet (no that isn’t ‘redundant’ I can’t just say ‘his HUD flickered on’ as that sounds perverted to me). Targeting identified a heat source 501.67 metres away to the north east.

“Enhance,” McEdifice vocalised and in some sort of cool special effect way the helmet magnified that area of his vision (with maybe a hi-tech noise like boop-ooohwushboop). It was one of the Treerat gang!

The Treerat Gang: a bunch of outlaws and pagan worshippers of the ancient demonic squirrel god. They had a lasting hate for McEdifice ever since he drove them and their filthy ways out of town and killed their leader in a shoot-out.

“Oh dear!” said McEdifice as he once again made a futile attempt to apply the brakes! Just then the front wheel hit a particularly large pebble! The bike crashed and McEdifice was thrown clear!

KABOOM! The bicycle exploded in a fiery explosion as a consequence of it hitting a rock. McEdifice rushed over and beat back the flames and then with one mighty flick of his shoulders he hoisted up the flaming bike and threw it into a near by pond which I should have probably mentioned earlier.

(16) NO TRUCE IN THE CULTURE WARS. Sadly, Lawrence Person ended his Jerry Pournelle obituary with an irrelevant shot at “SJWs”.

He edited a number of anthologies over the years; when he finally received a Hugo nomination for that, Social Justice Warrior bloc voting made sure he finished below No Award.

Person didn’t think it was important to mention that Pournelle was slated onto the 2016 ballot by the Rabid Puppies, which was the direct cause of that outcome. Or that Pournelle was nominated for eight other Hugos and finished above No Award every time.

(17) MEAT. What are they selling in this video? It’ll come to you eventually. Includes L. Ron and an alien.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Darren Garrison, and David Doering for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Montreal’s “What the Fur?” Ends Its Run

What the Fur (WTF?), a Montreal furry con, held its final event over the last weekend of July. The reason given was lack of volunteers to pick up the reins.

That leaves Otakuthon as the city’s only non-commercial con.

A fan has started a GoFundMe to help Feli (Christopher Pilgrim) pay the bills. It has raised $455 of its $5,000 goal as of this writing. However, the slow response may be because Christopher Pilgrim made no such request in his farewell comments and, in fact, said he was proud that this year’s con had managed to give over $900 to charity.

[Thanks to Cathy Palmer-Lister for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 4/13/17 Hark! What File Through Yonder Pixel Scrolls?

(1) ODYSSEY CON LOSES SECOND GOH. Honoring the reasons for the withdrawal of Monica Valentinelli, another Odyssey Con GoH has dropped out — Tad Williams made this announcement on Facebook:

I am sad to announce that I won’t be appearing at the upcoming Odysseycon. I feel a debt of conscience to guests of this con and to others whose complaints of harassment (and worse) at gatherings in our field have gone unheard and unresolved.

At the same time it seems to me and Deb that the issues are complicated and a lot of people must be having a very miserable time right now. We don’t want to contribute to the heat, and hope that things can be improved for everyone in the future. Odysseycon have been straightforward in their dealings with us, and gracious when we withdrew. I wish to extend my apologies to any members of the convention who will be disappointed by my not attending.

(2) TOOLMAKING. And today, Monica Valentinelli is looking for knowledge to make cons safer.

How can we…

  • …teach people not to harass?
  • …teach allies what to watch out for?
  • …foster healthy and safe communication about harassment?
  • …teach people how best to enforce harassment policies?
  • …address safety concerns that are not part of an official claim?
  • …share experiences between conventions so each con doesn’t live in a silo?
  • …implement better documentation policies so materials aren’t lost?
  • …help allies understand how to support victims?
  • …help victims have the confidence to come forward?
  • …guarantee that personal e-mails will not be posted publicly?
  • …help victims/allies mitigate the losses that come from making hard decisions?
  • …teach con goers how we take their safety seriously?
  • …teach con goers what to do next if something should happen?
  • …address what proper resolutions are and how they should be implemented?
  • …leverage our social communities better to review our convention attendance?
  • …help con runners decide how to implement training for their staff?
  • …help con runners understand how important it is to have the right people on staff to handle this?

I am 100% certain there are other questions I am missing, as I am speaking through the lens of my experiences. Regardless, I feel that the first step is to ask questions like these before they can be answered. Then, we need to have those hard discussions to take additional steps.

(3) TALKIN’ ABOUT M-MY REGENERATION. Beware, this will make your head spin — a video of every Doctor Who regeneration at Yahoo! TV. (The only bad part is you have to watch at least 30 seconds of a commercial before the video begins.)

(4) CARRIE FISHER. Is there anybody who hasn’t seen the Star Wars tribute to Carrie Fisher yet? Or who doesn’t want to watch it a couple more times?

(5) ROLLING IN THE GREEN. You might have said that’s a lot of lettuce to ask for a 50 pence coin, but the Royal Mint’s offering of a Peter Rabbit 2017 UK 50p BU Coin for £10 has sold out.

The Mint also put out a set of coins in 2016 to celebrate Potters’ 150th anniversary –

Features four coins depicting some of her best-loved characters: Peter Rabbit, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, Jemima Puddle-Duck and Squirrel Nutkin

(6) PKD FILM FEST. The fifth annual Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival takes place May 25-30 in New York City.

The program showcases over 100 films, premieres, panels, virtual reality demonstrations and celebratory gatherings as the festival continues its salute to the master of science fiction, Philip K. Dick.

Highlights include the world premieres of Maryanne Bilham-Knight’s A Life Gone Wild (2016) and Jean-Philippe Lopez’s III (2016), North American premiere of Adam Stern’s FTL (2017), USA premieres of Caroline Cory’s Gods Among Us: The Science of Contact (2016), Rasmus Tirzitis’s Vilsen (2016) and Ove Valeskog’s Huldra: Lady of the Forest (2016), east coast premieres of Niall Doran/Justin Smith’s Sixteen Legs (2016) and Renchao Wang’s The End of the Lonely Island (2016) and NYC premiere of Bruce Wemple’s The Tomorrow Paradox (2016).

The festival will also launch PKD Talks: Conversations with Luminaries, Visionaries and Mavericks, a new panel series discussing scientific, inspirational and world changing themes with industry professionals including author and physicist Dr. Ronald Mallett, acclaimed directors Maryanne Bilham-Knight and Caroline Cory, web host Joe Cerletti, astrophysicist Rudy Schild, computer scientist Jacques Vallee and more distinguished guests.

Check out the full schedule here.

(7) ATWOOD STORY ON TV. The Verge has seen the first three episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale and gives the show an enthusiastic endorsement.

But The Handmaid’s Tale is more than a political jab. In the first three episodes provided to reviewers, it’s a dystopia that manages to stand out in a television landscape already full of apocalypses and oppressive imaginary societies. It’s a colorful TV series about a woman negotiating domestic drama, and judging from its initial installments — all three of which will be released simultaneously on April 26th — it might be one of the darkest shows on television this year.

(8) THE EVENING NEWS. Problems with a furry convention have made it onto TV. That’s not surprising anymore, is it? But this is still a story that makes a fan’s hair (or fur) stand on end — “Amid allegations of unpaid taxes, neo-Nazism, and sex offender, Denver furry convention canceled”.

Head of company that operates RMFC exposed

But the letter was not signed by an attorney, nor did it contain language or punctuation consistent with those typically used by lawyers. But it did contain a red thumb print, sometimes associated with a movement the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as extremists.

And Kendal Emery, the man who signed the letter and the self-identified “Chief Executive Contract Law Officer” for Midwest Anthropomorphic Arts Corporation, is a convicted sex offender.

The Arvada man pleaded no contest to three counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor in 1993 in Alamogordo, New Mexico, near his native Carlsbad. New Mexico court records show he served at least probation and underwent out-patient counseling as part of his sentence.

But that isn’t the end of Emery’s issues: though he registered Mid America Anthropomorphic and Art Corporation in Colorado in 2005 at an Aurora address and also with the IRS, the IRS revoked the company’s status in May 2011 and has not reinstated it

(9) WHAT MAKES A WRITER REAL. Sarah A. Hoyt’s inspirational column “You’re real” ends:

A contract won’t make you real.  Writing more will make you real.  Indie and traditional both thrive on content.  The more you write the more you’ll make.  And in indie, this is all in your hands.  You don’t need anyone to give you permission.

Go write and publish.  Stop obsessing about being real.  I say you’re real, and in proof thereof, I’ve made the following certificate, which you can download, fill in and print at your convenience.

STOP GIVING AWAY part of you income for nothing, particularly to small presses of dubious value.  Write.  Publish.  Repeat.  Become a professional.

(10) EUROCON NEWS. The first announcement with details of 2017 ESFS Business Meeting has been made available on the European SF Society website.

The ESFS General Meeting for 2017 will take place at U-Con, the Dortmund (Germany) Eurocon, on June 16-18.

(11) TODAY’S DAY

Scrabble Day

By far the best way to celebrate Scrabble Day is with Oxyphenbutazone. That’s right, Oxyphenbutazone is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug – you already knew that – but it’s also the word that, in a single play, can give the highest possible score on a Scrabble board. The chances of it ever coming up are similar to the chances of winning this week’s lottery, as you’d need to join all seven of your tiles with eight already on the board across three triple word scores. Still, it’d be worth waiting for, scoring 1,778 points. You’d almost certainly win the game with that.

(12) TODAY IN ALTERNATE HISTORY

April 13, 1967 — In another reality, 50 years ago today would have been the end of Star Trek. The final new first-season episode, “Operation — Annihilate!,” aired April 13, 1967. Only an unprecedented letter-writing campaign, spearheaded by Bjo Trimble and other science-fiction writers and fans, got the show renewed for a second season.

(13) TODAY IN REGULAR OLD HISTORY

April 13, 1970 — …disaster strikes 200,000 miles from Earth when oxygen tank No. 2 blows up on Apollo 13, the third manned lunar landing mission. Astronauts James A. Lovell, John L. Swigert, and Fred W. Haise had left Earth two days before for the Fra Mauro highlands of the moon but were forced to turn their attention to simply making it home alive.

(14) MATH OF KHAN. Why, this is heresy! Space.com says “Redshirts Aren’t Likeliest to Die – and Other ‘Star Trek’ Math Lessons”.

Grime first focused on an age-old assertion: that crewmembers wearing red shirts in the original “Star Trek” series, which denote working in engineering or security, are far more likely to be killed off than any other shirt color.

That claim, in fact, is false — more “redshirts” died on-screen than any other crew type (10 gold-shirted, which are command personnel; eight blue-shirted, who are scientists; and 25 red-shirted, Grime said), but that calculation fails to take into account that there are far more redshirts on the ship to start with than any other crew type.

In other words, we’re looking at the probability that you are a redshirt if you die (58 percent) — what we want to know is the probability that you die if you’re a redshirt, Grime said.

Grime used the “Star Trek” technical manual to find out how many of each crew type there were, which painted a different picture: out of 239 redshirts, 25 died, which is 10 percent. Out of 55 goldshirts, 10 died, which is 18 percent! So you are more likely to die as a goldshirt, Grime said.

Oh, so it’s actually true – this is just a lawyerly exercise in lying with statistics.

(15) FAN MAIL. Alastair Reynolds praised Erin Horakova’s Strange Horizons article article about Captain Kirk:

If you have a little time on your hands I commend this excellent Strange Horizons article by Erin Horakova on our changing (and inaccurate) perception of the character of Captain Kirk…

Regardless of the quality of the individual episodes, though, I quickly found myself wondering when this legendary bad Shatner was going to turn up, because all I was seeing – right from the outset – was an efficient and convincing portrayal of a man in a complex, demanding position of authority. Shatner isn’t just much better at playing Kirk than the popular myth would have it, but the character itself is also much more plausibly drawn than the supposed brash womaniser of the insidious meme.

Erin Horakova dismantles this false Kirk in expert fashion, while lobbing a few well-earned potshots at the reboot films.

(16) THE NEW NUMBER SIX. John  Scalzi continues Reader Request Week with “#6: Reading as Performance”.

  1. Recognize it is a performance. Which is to say that you can’t just go in front of a room, mumble your way through fifteen minutes of text, answer a couple of questions and go home (I mean, you can, but it won’t turn out the way you want it to). You actually have to be up and on, from the moment you get to the event until the moment you’re done. Which is draining, but can also be fun. When you read, don’t just read the text, act it. When you’re answering questions, don’t answer quickly, answer completely. When you’re signing, work to make it so the person you’re signing for feels like that those 30 seconds with you is a pretty good 30 seconds of their life. Know all this going in, and prepare.

(17) WAITRESSING FOR GODOT. Ann Leckie was prompted by Scalzi’s post to add her own thoughts – “On Performance and Sincerity”.

Now as it happens, I have a tiny bit of theater experience, along with that music degree, so I’m actually pretty comfortable onstage. But you know what else I think has helped me–years of waiting tables. I am a serious introvert, but working at waiting tables gave me practice interacting with lots of strangers for hours at a time, keeping my demeanor pleasant and mostly cheerful. It’s practice that has stood me in good stead for a lot of my non-writing-related life, actually. In a lot of ways waiting tables can be a really miserable job, but that aspect of it, learning how to be “on” very pleasantly and confidently, has been super valuable to me.

(18) WHAT GOES UP… Just don’t ask for an explanation: “Mysterious X37-B ‘space plane’ stays in orbit for 677 days – and no one knows why”.

A mysterious robotic ‘space plane’ has now been in orbit for a record 677 days – and America is remaining silent about what it’s doing up there.

The robotic Boeing X-37B craft – also known as Orbital Test Vehicle 4 – conducts long missions in orbit, carrying a classified payload.

Observers have speculated that the Space Shuttle-esque vehicle might be designed to destroy satellites – or work as a ‘movable’ satellite itself.

(19) LOST BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. Evidently, Scotland’s witch prosecution records leave something to be desired. Atlas Obscura has the story — “Maggie Wall’s Memorial”.

A mysterious monument where a woman who records say never existed was burnt alive for being a witch.

…Outside of a small village of Dunning, nestled in the former parklands of Duncrub Castle, lies a monument. It’s a collection of stones about 20 feet high, topped with a cross and decorated with gifts left by visitors—pennies, feathers, shells, fluffy stuffed animals, and tiny tea candles. The stones bear the words in stark white lettering: “Maggie Wall burnt here 1657 as a witch.”

Scotland was home to nearly 3,800 people accused of witchcraft between 1500s and 1700s, the vast majority of whom were women. In the end, about 1,500 were murdered as a result of witch hunt inquisitions. However, mysteriously, there is no record of a woman named Maggie Wall being tried as a witch. What’s more, there’s no record of the monument itself until 1866, though a forest surrounding the monument called Maggie Walls Wood was documented as of 1829.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Carl Slaughter, Michael J. Walsh, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Steven H Silver, and David Doering for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contirbuting editor of the day Rev. Bob.]

Patten Chronicles Furry Fandom Conventions Worldwide

Furry Fandom Con coverFred Patten’s fanhistory Furry Fandom Conventions, 1989-2015 is now on sale from McFarland & Company, Publishers.

Patten says, “This is the first study of furry fandom published by a publisher outside of the furry specialty press itself. It indicates that furry fandom is becoming an accepted subject for academic study.”

Furry fandom—an adult social group interested in anthropomorphic animals in art, literature and culture—has grown since the 1980s to include an estimated 50,000 “furries.” Their largest annual convention drew more than 6,000 attendees in 2015, including 1,000 dressed in “fur suits” or mascot-type animal costumes. Conventions typically include awards, organizations, art, literature and movies, encompassing a wide range of creative pursuits beyond animal costuming.

This study of the furry subculture presents a history of the oft-misunderstood group and lists all conventions around the world from 1989 through 2015, including organizers, guests of honor and donations to charity.

Furry Fandom Conventions, 1989-2015 is 242 pages, illustrated with more than 50 furry convention posters, program book covers, website banners, T-shirts, and other artwork; including 8 pages in full color.

Patten To Launch Anthology at Further Confusion

Dogs of War, edited by Fred Patten, is launching at Further Confusion 2017 in San Jose, California over the January 12-16 five-day weekend.

Dogs of War is an all-original anthology of 23 short stories and novelettes of anthropomorphic animals (not just dogs) in military scenarios, from battle action to boot camps, on land, at sea, and in space.  This is designed to appeal to both s-f & fantasy fans, and fans of military s-f.

From a rabbit army’s training camp, to a human army turned into wolves, praying mantises in spacesuits, rattlesnake troops, prejudice against uplifted rat sailors, multi-tailed fox warrior priestesses, and more; these are stories for your imagination and enjoyment.

Contents

  • Nosy and Wolf, by Ken McGregor
  • After Their Kind, by Taylor Harbin
  • Succession, by Devin Hallsworth
  • Two If By Sea, by Field T. Mouse
  • The Queens’ Confederate Space Marines, by Elizabeth McCoy
  • The Loving Children, by Bill McCormick
  • Strike, But Hear Me, by Jefferson P. Swycaffer
  • End of Ages, by BanWynn Oakshadow
  • Shells On The Beach, by Tom Mullins
  • Cross of Valor Reception for the Raccoon, Tanner Williams, Declassified Transcript, by John Kulp
  • Last Man Standing, by Frances Pauli
  • Hunter’s Fall, by Angela Oliver
  • Old Regimes, by Gullwolf
  • The Shrine War, by Alan Loewen
  • The Monster in the Mist, by Madison Keller
  • Wolves in Winter, by Searska GrayRaven
  • The Third Variety, by Rob Baird
  • The Best and Worst of Worlds, by Mary E. Lowd
  • Tooth, Claw and Fang, by Stephen Coughlan
  • Sacrifice, by J. N. Wolfe
  • War of Attrition, by Lisa Timpf
  • Fathers to Sons, by MikasiWolf
  • Hoodies and Horses, by Michael D. Winkle

The book can be pre-ordered from FurPlanet Productions. It will be for sale on the FurPlanet online catalogue after the convention. Price:  $19.95.  455 pages.  Wraparound cover by Teagan Gavet.

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M. C. A. Hogarth: Peltedverse Creator, Artist, and SFWA VP

By Carl Slaughter: M.C.A. Hogarth is a prolific author. Most of her stories are in the Pelted universe.  She is also a fiction illustrator and illustrates her own stories. She also does coloring books and children’s books. She is a Kickstarter veteran and advises other authors on Kickstarting. Hogarth is VP of the SFWA.

CARL SLAUGHTER:  Why are most of your series in the same universe?

M.C.A. HOGARTH:  There’s a George Eliot quote that goes ‘How unspeakably the lengthening of memories in common endears our old friends!’ I love writing broadly and deeply in the same setting because it gives us—the readers, me—the opportunity to settle in, become more than tourists, develop a group memory. I now have multiple settings where my readers remember “historical” details, often before I do. We’re properly sunk in at that point, and that’s when you get community.

In the end, I guess I like people. You don’t come close to understanding a person without living with them for a while.

M. C. A. Hogarth

M. C. A. Hogarth

SLAUGHTER: Obviously, your fans like the Pelted universe. What’s the appeal?

HOGARTH:  When I was super-young, I was deeply attracted to Star Trek for its optimism, and I thought ‘I want to make a world that people would want to live in.’ And so… I did. I populated it with friendly animal races, because who doesn’t love talking cats and foxes and giant birds? And then added fascinating aliens, because who doesn’t long to explore the unknown and find it welcoming? I gave it a noble war, so people could have a chance to defend the true and good. I made that war complex, so people could find ways to redeem evil. I made the universe expansive so that its potentials felt limitless. I made it nuanced, so people could find their own struggles in it. I added dragons and elves, because come on. Dragons. Elves.

It’s unashamed space opera, and I think just about everyone can find a place they belong in it. And it’s been in continuous development for over twenty years, so it feels like a real place to a lot of readers.

The Peltedverse is a refuge, and everyone can be a hero, whatever heroism means for them. I think that’s why a lot of people enjoy it.

SLAUGHTER:  Which Pelted series is ideal for which type of reader?

HOGARTH:  I chose to go with the “Valdemar”-style development of the Peltedverse, because I always felt it was easier to jump into a setting with several complete stories than trying to catch up to Book 24 in a single series. So, yes, there are multiple threads, and some of them are dark and some of them are bright. The war stories are the harshest, and those start with the Princes’ Game books (Even the Wingless is Book 1). The gentlest are the slice-of-life pastoral “college campus” stories of xenotherapists Jahir and Vasiht’h, which start with Mindtouch. Somewhere in the middle, in the action-adventure slot, are the books of the Her Instruments series, which starts with permafree Earthrise. There’s also a sleeper series about one of Fleet’s military crews, the Stardancer, that I’m starting to develop now. That’s going to have a more classic Trek feel (“new adventure every week”).

earthrise-cover-for-ks

SLAUGHTER: You describe your Kherishdar stories as “genteel and meditative,” “dense and contemplative,” “provocative,” and “controversial.”  What is it about these stories that justifies these descriptions?

HOGARTH:  With Kherishdar I wanted to tackle the idea of a caste-based system that worked. This is a society where everyone has a proper place, and no, you don’t step outside it. We’re conditioned to think of that as appalling. But what conditions would apply, I wondered, to make it not so? What if they were right? Could I write that universe?

This is not a minor question, since every form of collectivism is blood-and-bone-anathema to me, from a familial history perspective.

So I embarked on this experiment (via crowdfunding—my readers paid for all 50 pieces of flash fiction in my original plan) and discovered that, yes, yes I could imagine a world where this worked. And it was profoundly uncomfortable to contemplate that world unless you immersed yourself in it, and its mindset. This is part of the reason I started developing its language so fully, so that we could “speak” the language and see what it did to us. The two flash fiction chapbooks led to a full-length novel (Black Blossom) about the power of negative ideas and how cultures can fail to intersect productively.

It’s worked out well enough that I’m serializing a new novel via Patreon. It’s a pleasure to have so many of my Ai-Naidari fans back (and using my own vocabulary to comment on events as they unfold!).

SLAUGHTER:  Compared to your other fiction, the Kherishdar series seems much more message oriented than entertainment oriented.  Lots of sociology and philosophy.  Like a parable.  What are the lessons we humans can learn from these other species?

HOGARTH:  I’m not sure anything I write is intentionally message-oriented, honestly. At least, it doesn’t come from a place where I want to lecture. I like using fiction to explore ideas and thoughts that would otherwise trouble me, or intrigue me: it’s a safe place to do that, and I invite my readers to come see what happens. But the ‘what happens’ is always the paramount thing. Any thought experiment is bloodless without involving characters you care about and a story you want, breathlessly, to reach the end of, just to see what happens next. The stories I want to share from Kherishdar are about how your relationship with your society affects everything about you. Maybe in the process, we question what kind of relationship that is, and whether we are giving ourselves to it fully enough. But that’s really between the reader and the text. What concerns me most is how any of that plays out for the characters: for the high priest of Shame, the gentle calligrapher, their guardian keepers, and now the Public Servant who has been tasked with the unenviable project of understanding aliens—us.

SLAUGHTER:  What can we learn about identity and gender from the Stone Moon trilogy?

HOGARTH:  It always makes me smile when people ask what I intended to say with gender in my series about the Jokka. Because there are three sexes (female, male, and neuter), and because you have two opportunities during puberty to flip to a new sex—and this is not under your control—people assume that I wanted to talk about gender identity. But the strongest thread for me in this setting was less about identity and more about the relationship between biology and society. Because the breeding sexes are fragile and tend toward early death or (more often) early senility, the population has been in a slow decline for generations. The powerful struggle in the Stone Moon trilogy is what you do when the needs of individuals and the needs of the species conflict. How does society solve that problem?

I won’t say that I found The Answer, because I don’t think there is a single answer. But we spend three books asking questions and seeing how the possible answers fall out, and I think that’s a valuable exercise.

I think by now you can sense a repeating theme in my work, which is about the intersection of the individual and their community.

SLAUGHTER:  Is it fair to describe your Godkindred series as your most humorous and is it fair to say that you and the main character make a deliberate effort not to take the plot too seriously?

HOGARTH:  I don’t know that I’d call the Godkindred saga humorous? But it’s supposed to be a lighter read, and fun in places. It gets awfully serious in other places, though—this is a book that I thought would be ‘fluffy’ and within the first third of the first book took on the morality of genocide. Whatever it might have started as, it became another series of opportunities to struggle with big questions. Having a furry on the cover doesn’t change that.

There are some funny scenes, though. I seem to recall at least one bubblebath with a griffin, fox, and snow leopard girl. The publisher asked me to illustrate that one…

SLAUGHTER:  Does Godkindred have a message about religion or are you just using religion to provide readers with an opportunity to have some fun?

HOGARTH:  My books always have some mention of religion, whether it’s an important part of the plot or an animating force for some of the characters. The Godkin’s religion requires its members to breed toward divinity, by choosing mates of different animal species. The more species in your bloodlines, the more ‘diffuse’ your animal characteristics and the closer to that godhead you come.

As you can imagine, this doesn’t go over well with the territories the Godkin are busy annexing into their empire. Maybe there’s a message there, but I suspect everyone’s going to take away a different one based on what they go into the book thinking. Certainly the main character finds it far more complex an issue than she thought going into the events of the novel.

SLAUGHTER:  Twin Kingdoms series:  “Technically a high fantasy romance novel, but with significant world-building. The leads are two composers, a hermaphrodite and a man, and there is a poly component with a true neuter human. Pastoral, low-conflict, and sweet.”  That’s mouthful of descriptions.  Can you break it down for us?

HOGARTH:  Hah! I think that’s the best I managed, in terms of reducing it to its component parts. Expanding it, I’d say that I wanted to write a romance novel that would appeal to me. Which meant it had to have good world-building. It had to eschew artificial inflation of tension through plot devices that distract from the relationship. And it had to be beautiful. Since I’ve always liked multiple sexes, I thought I’d go with human ones this time. This gave me a bonus opportunity to write asexual romances, which are some of my favorite kind. Book 2 in this series, in fact, is a romance between a male and a neuter (Cantor for Pearls).

Honestly, I loved doing the world-building for this setting. It has a magical system that is inherently unfair and concentrates power in one geographic location. The bitterness between that population and the countries around them is part of the texture, and gives me the chance to once again explore cross-cultural issues. Book 1’s protagonist falls in love with a member of the imperialist nation that destroyed his country and his culture. That’s an issue he has to spend multiple books working on. It was gratifying to me to have people read Thief of Songs and try to tell me that I’d made it too easy, only to have them go on to Book 2 and come back to say, ‘Oh, I see. This is a recurring theme. That’s a lot more realistic.’

SLAUGHTER:  A Rosary of Stones and Thorns:  “Old school urban fantasy, from the beforetimes when narrators didn’t have to be snarky or sexy.”  Did I miss a transition?  When and how did this happen?

HOGARTH:  I’m not sure when it happened, but at one point urban fantasy was Charles de Lint and now it’s a subgenre of paranormal romance. Don’t get me wrong, I love paranormal romance! And I like urban fantasy too. But I rarely see myself in the narrators of those novels. I don’t like snark. I’m not into sarcasm, which is often used as a form of emotional assault. And while I don’t mind everything being about sex in one or two series, you do sometimes want there to be another focus. Just for contrast, you know?

Rosary was one of my first novels. It’s an unabashed redemption fantasy. It’s got (asexual but very romantic) angels. It’s got a crazy mythology only barely based on Christian and Gnostic legends. Christians often don’t want to read it because it takes liberties; non-Christians are often afraid to try it because it looks too Christian. My poor little book. It’s really about how love is our salvation. I like to think that’s a theme that resonates with everyone. The people who do give it a chance usually tell me they re-read it every holiday season.

SLAUGHTER:  If they don’t breathe fire, and I assume they don’t hoard gold either, nor demand sacrifices, how can the creatures in The Laundry Dragons be identified as dragons?  In this form, how are they distinguishable from other species?  How do they fit into the canon of dragon literature?  Or am I overthinking it?

hogarth-laundry-dragons

HOGARTH:  It’s a kid’s book, Carl. You’re overthinking it. *grin*

SLAUGHTER:  How about some samples of the rhymes in The Laundry Dragons?

HOGARTH:  Here you go then:

They run the wash cycle
when they want to get clean
Hot water and bubbles
give them all a bright sheen!

Plus they like soaking,
and splashing and scrubbing:
there’s no laundry dragon
that dislikes washer hot tubbing.

I am not an amazing poet, mind. My decision to make children’s books had nothing to do with a feeling that I had any special talent in that regard. It was purely selfish: I wanted to read my daughter things, and I wasn’t find enough things I liked in the library/bookstore. So I did it myself (story of my life, here). By that measure, Laundry Dragons was a great success: not only did my daughter like it, but she proudly took it to school and handed it to her first grade teacher to read, and created singlehandedly an entire classroom full of Laundry Dragon fans. To this day, when I walk around her school, kids I can’t identify greet me and when I ask how on earth they know me, they say, ‘You’re so-and-so’s mom, the Famous Writer! I loved the Laundry Dragons!’

The second set of books I did, about Vinnie the Armadillo, also served this purpose (they gave me something to read to Daughter that we had a context for, in this case, books set in Florida with familiar flora and fauna). But by the time I wrote those, Daughter was old enough to watch and understand the process. I asked her what kind of plots would interest her, and what kind of messages she thought it would be important for kids to hear. I would print out drafts and read them to her and ask her opinion on each chapter. I’d show her the illustrations as I created them. She opined on the cover art (“You can’t put the unicorn on the cover, Mommy, or boys will never want to read it.”). I showed her how I uploaded it, and explained the process of approving the proof. Then I showed it to her on retail sites.

The insight this gave her into ‘Mommy’s job’ was immense. I still think of the Vinny the Armadillo books as collaborative works. We haven’t done anything similar since, but some part of me wonders if there won’t eventually be some Mommy/Daughter YA books because, once again, I don’t feel like there’s enough for us to read together.

SLAUGHTER:  Space marine sounds like an awfully generic term to me.  So explain the legal basis for the novel Spots the Space Marine getting pulled from Amazon and give us a thumbnail history of the resulting controversy.

HOGARTH:  There was no legal basis. It was a farce, based on an attempt by a foreign company to stretch its domestic and very narrow trademark to apply to properties it had no control over. Games Workshop had a trademark for space marine in the UK that applied to board games. It decided to see if it could convince Amazon that trademark should also apply to fiction in another country. Amazon didn’t want to take sides because they didn’t feel it was their business to make legal rulings, so they pulled the book.

You can read about it on Wikipedia. It was pretty disgusting. I’m grateful for the internet support that rallied around me, even if in my crusaders’ enthusiasm a lot of incorrect information was thrown around, including that I’m a single mom struggling to survive on my royalties. You can more properly imagine my husband comforting me while I cried at the injustice of it, and giving me the sage advice that helped me write the post that got the whole mess fixed.

It was miserable, though. I’m glad it’s over. And yes, you can buy the book on Amazon today.

mca-hogarth

SLAUGHTER:  Which speculative fiction Kickstarter campaigns have you been involved in and what lessons does From Spark to Finish have to offer?

HOGARTH:  Ah, Kickstarter. I’ve run 10 campaigns now, and all of them have succeeded. Four were for art. Six were for novels.

My strategy has always been to run short campaigns with modest goals that have a chance of overfunding, and then to sock away the profit to put into a new project. For a while I chained Kickstarters this way, seeding the new projects with the slush from the old. That was fun! And that experience is what led me to write the Kickstarter guide (From Spark to Finish: Running Your Kickstarter Campaign).

That book has checklists by the way. Checklists are mighty. Also cartoon jaguars, because cartoons.

SLAUGHTER:  Any speculative fiction Kickstarter campaigns in the near future?

HOGARTH:  Oh, certainly. Kickstarter is my favorite way to pay the cost of print and audiobook editions for my books, and I have several I’d like to put in that pipeline. I’m gratified to be living in a world with sites like Kickstarter and Patreon that allow us to work directly with our readers to make the things we both want happen. It’s empowering. It’s a great time to be a writer!

SLAUGHTER:  You do a lot of art.  Is it a hobby and/or to complement your fiction or do you also do it on a professional/commercial basis?

HOGARTH:  I think of myself as a storyteller, and art is just another medium to tell stories. I do consider myself a professional artist—I think I decided that the first time I sold an original painting for four digits—but I don’t do work-for-hire or commissions. Most of my work is either sold to buyers (the gallery/fine art model), or used for my own work. About half my books have my art for covers; some have interior art, as well. And I’m always drawing to explore the settings I’m making, or the characters, so there’s a lot of plot-based work as well. I’ve taken to putting some of those in the backmatter of novels, since readers have told me they enjoy seeing them.

I love writing, but I ‘think out loud’ with a pencil in my hand.

SLAUGHTER:  Any new novels/series in the work?

HOGARTH:  There are always new novels in the works. My production schedule is ‘3-4 novels a year, plus ancillary books’ where ancillary equals coloring books, or nonfiction, or kids’ books. I actually do make publishing schedules at the beginning of every year, and follow guidelines I set in place a while back; for example, ‘at least two installments in a current series or major setting’ is one of those guidelines.

Honestly, I like working. I feel a little weird in the head if I’m not writing, so 3-4 novels isn’t that hard for me. If it takes too much longer, my head starts feeling congested and I find myself walking into walls because I don’t have any cycles left to pay attention to my environment.

SLAUGHTER:  What does being SFWA VP involve?

HOGARTH:  Most volunteer work… you make of it what you put into it, I think. For me, the job involves supporting the president (because Cat Rambo is an awesome SFWA President) and finding ways to help our members make more money. Money gives you freedom: the freedom to write that story that might not make as much as your bestselling series; the freedom to walk away from bad contracts and bad business partners; the freedom to experiment; the freedom to work without fearing where your next meal is coming from.

We writers are at a point where so many bets are just off. We’re drowning in opportunities because the waves of change are so strong. It’s hard to know which way to paddle to get to shore. It’s terrifying and exhilarating and frankly exhausting, and I know this because I’ve been determinedly swimming in these waters for years now. I was serializing fiction for money in the early 2000s before ‘crowdfunding’ was a word, following in the footsteps of other internet pioneers who’d made it seem like there was a way to turn my presence online into an asset that would buy my family bread. Sometimes I was one of the first people to do something. Sometimes someone else’s footsteps showed there’d been someone there before me, and that trailblazer had left warnings about the dangers ahead. My gratitude for those trailblazers is immense, and whenever I can, I try to pay it forward.

More than anything, I want to help my peers find the shore, find the trail, find that point where their bliss and their paychecks coincide. For a lot of us, that’s not going to be a perfect fit, and there will be compromises. But they’ll be better compromises for having had the help.

This, then, is my focus as VP. Communicate the knowledge. Bring more of our peers into our space so they can share what they’ve learned. Find ways to make our authors more accessible to readers. Find ways to help them grow their businesses and their careers.

SLAUGHTER:  Any advice to aspiring speculative fiction writers?

HOGARTH:  Go out into some sunny park, alone, and give yourself some time to really understand what you want out of writing. What constitutes success to you? Is it being able to complete a story and have it out of your head? Is it being really good at crafting stories, and improving every time you write one? Is it money? How much money would be enough? Enough to buy coffee? A meal once a month? Pay one bill? Pay all your bills? Or is it awards? How many? Which ones? Do you want to be read widely, or would it be enough to be read by a small number of super-enthusiastic people? Do you want to be a name, or do you just want to quietly do your thing and not be bothered?

Many, many people will challenge your choices; sadly, even more will deride them. Your only armor against this is to be satisfied with those choices. Understanding your own motivations and goals will help you make the right decisions for your career.

Just think of yourself as one of your characters. That way, you’ll know how to write your happy ending.

SOCIAL MEDIA

MCAH@DeviantArt: A good place to go for highlights;

Art Archive@Stardancer.Org: Hogarth has over 3000 sketches and finished pieces here, with descriptions, searchable and browse-able.

MCAH@FurAffinity: I also have a FurAffinity account, for those who prefer it to DA, and use it in much the same way (almost entirely finished pieces).

Pixel Scroll 9/30/16 How Much For Just the Pixels?

(1) WRITERS WITH POWER? Having lived through the days when few sf authors had any kind of industry prestige, I’m impressed how many genre writers are included in “Hollywood’s 25 Most Powerful Authors 2016”, compiled by The Hollywood Reporter. The list begins with Patrick Ness, and Lauren Oliver, drops Margaret Atwood in the middle, and spots Rowling at #1, Stephen King at #2, and George R.R. Martin at #4. Neil Gaiman and Diana Gabaldon are in there, too.

(2) QUESTION TIME. Shana DuBois has unveiled a new installment of a popular feature at B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, “Mind Meld: The Imagined Possibilities of Science Fiction”.

In Istvan Csicsery-Ronay’s The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction, he states works of science fiction “may be credible projections of present trends or fantastic images of imagined impossibilities. Or an amalgam of both.”

Q: Do you enjoy science fiction that is more a reflection of where today’s society could be headed in the near future, or science fiction that reflects a far, far future, and why? What are some recent works you’ve enjoyed?

The participants are S. C. Flynn, Michael R. Underwood, Laura Anne Gilman, Andrea Phillips, K. C. Alexander, and Malka Older.

(3) CAT RAMBO AUTHOR NEWSLETTER. Cat Rambo sent a link to her newsletter:

Usually I don’t make my newsletter public, but I did so today so people can see a sampling what it’s like: http://us6.campaign-archive1.com/?u=5c1e6d30440f85da8e0ac39d3&id=5befcbc8ca

One of the news items is about — The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers.

On October 1, Rachel Swirsky and Juliette Wade will launch their classes in the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers. The following week I’ll be announcing four single session workshops for October-December: the long-promised space opera class with Ann Leckie, live classes with Swirsky and Wade, and one solo workshop.

(4) WHO REVIEWS MOST BOOKS BY POC? James Davis Nicoll is not one to hold a grudge. He’ll tell you so – read “A challenge for Rising Shadows, Foundation, SFS, Analog, Asimov’s, Vector, F&SF, SFX, and Locus”

Nobody who made Strange Horizons’ annual count—still not holding a grudge—has reviewed as many books by POC as I have.

Nicoll is speaking of Strange Horizons’ “The 2015 SF Count”. The editors there explain:

Welcome to the sixth Strange Horizons “SF count” of representation in SF reviewing. The goal of the count is straightforward: for the last calendar year, for a range of SF review venues, to calculate the gender and race balance of books reviewed, and of reviewers.

Despite being just about the most prolific reviewer in the field, a review-writing dynamo, Nicoll is not included in the Strange Horizons survey. Maybe if he pretended  to be a magazine?

(5) FUNDRAISER. Family members of the Yosts have started a GoFundMe page to benefit the two girls, ages 6 and 8, who survived the murders reported here the other day.

I am a family member of the Yost Family and even typing these words out now still doesnt make it real.  The unimaginable as happened to two little innocent girls who are now left with out parents to raise them.  Our hearts are completely broken and will miss them every single day that passes.  We will remember the good times we had and remind these two beautiful girls of how much they were loved by their parents.  The girls are 6 and 8 and will need all the help they can get in this extremely tragic event.

Every donation received will be to help for future care of these children.

Our family sends our deepest gratitude for any help.  Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.  We truly appreciate all of your help and kind words while our family mourns the loss of two beloved family members.

(6) GOLDEN DUCK. Still catching up with awards announced in August.

2016 Golden Duck Awards

The 2016 Golden Duck Awards were announced by Doug Drummond and Helen Gbala at MidAmeriCon II on August 18.

  • Picture Book Interstellar Cinderella, by Deborah Underwoon (author) and Meg Hunt (illustrator) (Chronicle)
  • Eleanor Cameron Award for Middle Grade Fuzzy Mud, by Louis Sacher (Delacorte)
  • Hal Clement Award for Young Adult Armada, by Ernest Cline (Crown)

(7) KANSAS CITY BBQ. Scott Edelman and David Levine sat down for barbecue while attending the Worldcon, and that culinary inspiration led to Episode 19 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

daviddlevineeatingthefantastic1-768x768

We talked about the things being a science fiction fan for so long taught him about being a professional science fiction writer, what it was like contributing to George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards universe after having read the series since Day One, how pretending to live on Mars for two weeks helped him write his newly published novel Arabella of Mars, and much more.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 30, 1988 Elvira, Mistress of the Dark premieres in theaters.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born September 30, 1924 — Truman Capote.

And what, you may ask, is his connection to sf/f?

After a rejection notice from the pulp magazine Weird Tales, Ray Bradbury sent his short story “Homecoming” to Mademoiselle Magazine. There it was spotted by a young editorial assistant named Truman Capote, who rescued the manuscript from the slush pile and helped get it published in the magazine. “Homecoming” won a place in The O. Henry Prize Stories of 1947.  This was the first publication of a Ray Bradbury story in the mainstream.

(10) FAN FUND OF NEW ZEALAND. The FFANZ administrators have announced that Lynelle Howell is running to be the fund’s delegate to Continuum 13, in Melbourne, 2017:

The Fan Fund for Australia and New Zealand was created to strengthen the ties between Australian and New Zealand fandom.  FFANZ assists fans with travel to the Natcon of the other nation, and assists with as many of the attendant costs of travel as practical, as well as facilitating connections between fans.

This year’s FFANZ race is a westward bound one, facilitating travel by a New Zealand fan to the 56th Australian Speculative Fiction National Convention, Continuum XIII – Triskaidekaphilia, to be held in Melbourne, Victoria, over Queen’s Birthday Weekend, 9th-12th June, 2017. It is expected that after the trip the winner takes over as administrator of the fund, engages in fundraising for the fund, and that they promote links between the two fandoms via a trip report or other means.

Click the link above for the candidate’s platform, and her nominators’ statements.

(11) FREAKY FRIDAY MUSICAL. The Washington Post’s Jane Horwitz writes about the Disney-backed Freaky Friday musical, opening at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia this weekend, including how the show is simultaneously based on the Mary Rodgers novel, the first Disney movie, the second Disney movie and the 1995 TV movie and how stars Emma Bunton and Heidi Blickenstaff really like working together.

(12) WHAT DIDN’T MAKE IT TO THE PAGE. Some things are better left untold.

(13) HIDEOUS TO BEHOLD. The Good Show Sir blog promises to post “Only the worst Sci-Fi/Fantasy book covers. The amazing thing is, they never run out!

There are many pieces of cover art that are beautiful to behold. Yet, there are others which exhibit a rarer, odd form of beauty. We think that such conflicts of focal points, lettering choices, false perspectives, anatomical befuddlement, ridiculous transport vehicles, oversized and frankly unusable monster-hunting weaponry, clothing choices that would get you killed walking down the street let alone hiking a through a frozen wasteland, clichéd cat-people, and downright bad art deserve their own special form of tribute.

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

The Hammer and the Horn

I think they’re living up to their promise….!

[Thanks to JJ, Scott Edelman, Michael J. Walsh, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Rambo, James Davis Nicoll, DMS, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Furry Murder

Frank Felix, 25, Sun Valley and Josh Acosta, 21, Fort Irwin, have been arrested in connection with the three murders that occurred September 25 in Fullerton.

Frank Felix, 25, Sun Valley and Josh Acosta, 21, Fort Irwin, have been arrested in connection with the three murders that occurred September 24 in Fullerton.

Four people associated with a triple homicide in Fullerton (CA) on September 24 were involved in the Southern California furry community reports the Orange County Register — one of the victims, two men charged with the murder, and an unnamed teenager who may also be charged.

Christopher Yost, 34; his wife, Jennifer Yost, 39; and their friend Arthur Boucher, 28, were found dead in the Yost home in Fullerton on Saturday morning. Two of the couple’s daughters, ages 6 and 9, were home when police arrived. The younger girl alerted police by calling 911, saying their parents had died.

On Sunday morning, police arrested Frank Felix, 25, of Sun Valley; Joshua Acosta, a 21-year-old U.S. Army mechanic based at Fort Irwin; and a 17-year-old female on suspicion of murder.

The trio were arrested after police had asked for the public’s help in finding Jennifer Yost’s missing daughter, Katlynn, who is 17.

Katlynn Yost was located, but police said state law prevents them from saying whether she was the arrested teenager.

According to reports from KTLA, the teenager is expected to face murder charges as well.

Katlynn, known on the OC Furry Facebook Fan Page as Daydreamer, was reported to the group as missing on Sunday.

The Register interviewed the SoCal Furs videographer Christopher Parque-Johnson.

“A lot of people in our community were devastated,” said Christopher Parque-Johnson, 23, of Garden Grove, an artist, performer and videographer for the SoCal Furs, which has members from San Luis Obispo to San Diego. “I’ve been hearing from a lot of people. It bothered everybody.

“It makes no sense.”

Parque-Johnson led a group of furries, as they call themselves, to the site of the homicides Sunday night. They laid roses, left cards and lit candles to honor victim Jennifer Yost, Parque-Johnson said, because she was a mother figure to the SoCal Furs. The two men accused in the killings are also furries, as is Yost’s daughter Katlynn Goodwin Yost, Parque-Johnson said.

“All of them were always nice to everybody,” said Parque-Johnson, known in the furry community as Bandit, a raccoon inspired by the film “Over the Hedge.”

The Los Angeles Times carried details of the charges against the two men arrested in the murders.

A soldier in the U.S. Army and another man were charged with murder Tuesday in connection with the slaying of a Fullerton couple and their friend over the weekend, according to authorities.

Pfc. Joshua Acosta, 21, of Ft. Irwin in San Bernardino County, and Frank Sato Felix, 25, of Sun Valley, each face three felony counts of murder, with special circumstance allegations of multiple murder, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.

Prosecutors also charged Acosta with a sentencing enhancement because he used a firearm, according to the district attorney’s office. Both men have been ordered held without bail. If convicted, the men face a sentence of at least life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Parque-Johnson also told the Orange County Register quite a bit of background about furries which was published in the article.

Parque-Johnson said he knew the two men and Katlynn Yost, who identifies herself as a furry on her Facebook and Twitter accounts, but did not associate them with one another.

“We’ve never seen them huddled together,” Parque-Johnson said. “We didn’t know them as friends of each other.”

Parque-Johnson said he was closest with Jennifer Yost.

“People looked up to her,” he said. “A lot of people cared about her.”

Joshua Acosta and Frank Felix were helpful in setting up and breaking down weekend events, Parque-Johnson said.

“They were trying to be outstanding citizens,” Parque-Johnson said.

Furries have been around since the 1980s. They admire anthropomorphic animals – characters that walk on two feet and speak like humans. Most of them are “non-suiters,” meaning they don’t spend $1,000 to $5,000 or more on full-body animal costumes. Instead, they create characters and wear badges with their characters displayed.

Parque-Johnson said furries have been unfairly characterized in the media as a group of sexual deviants. Sexual activity involving some people in furry costumes has happened in the three-decade history of the furries, according to media accounts.

“If we see it, we don’t allow those people back,” Parque-Johnson said. “We feel that behavior would be very inappropriate in our group. We think that is very weird.”

The furry community comprises mostly adults under 30, although there are some older furries who were fans of Disney movies involving animals with human characteristics such as in “Robin Hood.”

Furries watch movies, play video games, draw pictures and trade cards, Parque-Johnson said.

“People come to us to get away from the negative stuff in life,” he said.