Pixel Scroll 2/18/18 The Turn Of A Friendly Pixel

By JJ:

(1) THE DOCTOR IS | IN | . Gallifrey One, the Doctor Who convention, is taking place in Los Angeles this weekend, and fans are posting some great photos:

(2) THE LEFT MENU OF DARKNESS. The Paris Review, which has previously interviewed Ursula K. Le Guin, has recently published an article by Valerie Stivers in which the author created a series of recipes based on food from Le Guin’s The Left Hand Of Darkness. Dishes include Hot Beer For Two, Batter-Fried “Sube-Egg” Porridge with Winter Vegetables, and others:

Overall, I found Winter’s low-food-chain ingredients easy to work with; they fit in well with our modern sustainability-oriented cooking, an approach Le Guin, a passionate environmentalist, would have welcomed. The sticking point was the drinks. The characters in The Left Hand of Darkness consume hot beer, which, Ai explains, may sound gross but “on a world where a common table implement is a little device with which you crack the ice that has formed on your drink between drafts, hot beer is a thing you come to appreciate.” Some research revealed that even on Earth, hot beer was common prior to refrigeration and often contained nutritious items like eggs or half-curdled cream. I tried several recipes that were uniformly undrinkable until coming up with an adaptation of something I read about in a Wall Street Journal story calling hot beer a trend. As improbable as it sounds, the results were wonderful, and I can only urge you all to try it. Remember, sometimes it’s nice to be speculative – in beers as well as in love and in fiction.

(3) IN MEMORIAM. In “Two Seattle Memorials to Ursula K. Le Guin”, Cat Rambo provides specifics for those who wish to attend:

Folio Forum: A Tribute to Ursula Le Guin
Tuesday, February 20, 2018, 7:00 PM
The Seattle Athenaeum, 314 Marion Street, Downtown Seattle
$10 at the door; $8 for Folio Members, SFWA Members, and Town Hall Members
Complimentary wine reception to follow
Noted local authors and fans honor the great writer, plus a recording of Le Guin, reading her famous story

 

Celebration of the Life and Work of Ursula K. Le Guin
Sunday, February 25, 7:00 PM
Blue Moon Tavern, 712 NE 45th St, Seattle, Washington 98105
$free (please support our venue by buying food and drink!)
Please join us for a reading to commemorate the words and worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin (1929–2018).

(4) ABUSER MANUAL. Lurkertype points to a graphic sequence where “Someone kinda like The Little Mermaid ‘splains how to fight sealioning”.

(5) ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERS TO THE ELDER GODS. In “Octlantis is a Just-Discovered Underwater City Engineered by Octopuses”, Ephrat Livni describes a revelation in octopod behavior:

Gloomy octopuses – also known as common Sydney octopuses, or octopus tetricus – have long had a reputation for being loners. Marine biologists once thought they inhabited the subtropical waters off eastern Australia and northern New Zealand in solitude, meeting only to mate, once a year. But now there’s proof these cephalopods sometimes hang out in small cities.

In Jervis Bay, off Eastern Australia, researchers recently spotted 15 gloomy octopuses congregating, communicating, dwelling together, and even evicting each other from dens at a site the scientists named “Octlantis.”

The discovery was a surprise, Scheel told Quartz. “These behaviors are the product of natural selection, and may be remarkably similar to vertebrate complex social behavior. This suggests that when the right conditions occur, evolution may produce very similar outcomes in diverse groups of organisms.”

(6) CAN’T LET IT GO. In “Why (some of the) Right Hates Elsa”, Camestros Felapton unpacks some of the criticisms of the Disney animated movie Frozen from conservative blogs, and tries to determine why, more than 4 years after its release, the film still seems to generate so much antipathy in some quarters:

The issue is not hard to diagnose. Frozen is mainly conventional Disney – in some ways even less than that. The plot is slight compared to other classic Disney films (e.g. the Lion King) and the songs (bar one) are unmemorable. Yet it does a few things and those things are interesting…

The story rejects romantic love as its central message and instead centres on the familial love of two sisters.

This being Disney, there really is zero implications about Elsa’s sexuality EXCEPT that at no point does she act out of desire for a romantic relationship with anybody of any gender. And with that we get to part of the multiple issues the right continue to have with the film.

(7) IF I COULD TURN BACK TIME. A new Kickstarter promotes the 6th Extinction Card Deck, a playable poker deck showcasing 54 extinct animals and birds from the ice age to the 1980’s, as illustrated by 34 different artists. One of the artworks featured is by Oor Wombat; her designated lifeform has not yet been revealed, but perhaps we can pry it out of her with a suitable bribe.

The Kickstarter has thus far achieved $843 in pledges toward a goal of $3,600, with 25 days left to go.

(8) GO MAKE ME A SAMMICH. Forget digging to China, here’s the new global craze: Earth Sandwich. (click on the photo on the left, then click on the right arrows to scroll through the gallery)

(9) CHALLENGE ACCEPTED, REDUX. The January 22 Pixel Scroll (Item #13) reported the viral campaign of New York native Frederick Joseph to set up screenings of Black Panther for children across the U.S. through the #BlackPantherChallenge. The website for the challenge is now live; donors can click on any of the icons on the map to see existing GoFundMe challenges and choose one to which to contribute. (unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be a “list” view, so in areas with numerous challenges, zooming in on the map is required to differentiate between them)

(10) HOT COUTURE. On the Daily Dot, Gavia Baker-Whitelaw interviews Gersha Phillips, who designed the costumes for Star Trek: Discovery:

In the end, Discovery wound up with a more sleek and high-tech look. The new uniforms follow the classic idea of color-coded Starfleet departments (gold, silver and bronze accents for Command, Science, and Operations), but also take inspiration from contemporary athleisure brands.

Speaking to Gersha Phillips, we delved into Discovery’s fashion influences from Alien to Balenciaga. She’s a fount of knowledge about the canon background for costuming details like Klingon armor (Klingons have different internal organs!), and cosplayers have her to thank for the Mirror Universe’s beautiful gold capes.

(11) #BOWIEURCAT. Somehow, I don’t think that this is quite what the Thin White Duke had in mind.

(12) BIRTHDAYS.

  • Born February 18, 1919Jack Palance, Actor (Batman, Solar Crisis)
  • Born February 18, 1948Sinéad Cusack, Actor (The Ballad of Tam Lin, V for Vendetta)
  • Born February 18, 1984Genelle Williams, Actor (Warehouse 13, Bitten)

(13) MORE GALLIFREY ONE PHOTOS.

(14) FIRE THE CANON. Grant Snider, at Incidental Comics, asks “Who Controls the Cannon of Literature?”

(15) MAPPING THE WORLDS. Sarah Gailey contributes to what has now become a series of posts on cartography in SFFnal worlds with “Hippos, Worldbuilding, and Amateur Map-Making”:

About a year ago, I attended a panel on worldbuilding in young adult literature. All of the authors on the panel were young, brilliant, dynamic women. They wore flower crowns and they talked about mapmaking and spreadsheets. They were impressive as all get-out. I have never felt more intensely envious in my life.

I was jealous of their flower crowns, of course. I was also jealous of the easy way they talked about going in-depth on planning color schemes for each chapter they wrote, and the Pinterest boards they referenced for their character aesthetics. I was jealous of the way their worldbuilding all seemed to start from the ground up, because that seemed to me to be a whole other level of professional-writer-ness. My worldbuilding has always leached out from my character development – I write how a character moves, and their movement defines the world they live in. The women on this panel were talking about writing thousands of words about the world their characters inhabited, all before they put a single line of dialogue on a page. They were clearly worldbuilding masters. I was in awe.

It only took seven words for my awe to become fear.

(16) THE TOR BOYCOTT IS STILL TOTALLY WORKING. The Tucson Festival of Books will take place from March 10-11, and you can do your part for the Tor Boycott by checking out their author sessions. Tor/Forge and Tor.com Publishing authors Candice Fox, Nancy Kress, K Arsenault Rivera, Myke Cole, Annalee Newitz, Kristen Simmons, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., and Patty Garcia will be participating. A schedule can be found at the link.

(17) DEMAND EXCEEDS SUPPLY.

(18) BIRTHING PAINS. Jill Lepore, in a very long and very interesting essay at The New Yorker about childbirth, grief, and the de-feminization of Shelley’s best-known work, says in “The Strange and Twisted Life of “Frankenstein”: (content warning for miscarriage and infant death)

Because Shelley was readily taken as a vessel for other people’s ideas, her novel has accreted wildly irreconcilable readings…

“This nameless mode of naming the unnameable is rather good,” Shelley remarked about the creature’s theatrical billing. She herself had no name of her own. Like the creature pieced together from cadavers collected by Victor Frankenstein, her name was an assemblage of parts: the name of her mother, the feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, stitched to that of her father, the philosopher William Godwin, grafted onto that of her husband, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, as if Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley were the sum of her relations, bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh, if not the milk of her mother’s milk, since her mother had died eleven days after giving birth to her, mainly too sick to give suck – Awoke and found no mother.

(19) RULE 34 MEETS THE SHAPE OF WATER. (warning: this item is utterly Not Safe For Work) Doug Jones, who plays the fishman in Guillermo del Toro’s fantastical movie, admits of the glow-in-the-dark erotic accessory currently being marketed:

With a light chuckle, I can tell you it’s not exactly what I’d hoped for. After pouring my heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears into this romantic, beautiful, magical role, the last thing I want to be remembered for is a silicone appendage that comes in two sizes.

(20) NOT EXACTLY WHAT I MEANT BY “SPIDEY-SENSE”.

 (21) UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE. The exhibit “A Conversation Larger Than the Universe: Science Fiction and the Literature of the Fantastic from the Collection of Henry Wessells” will run from January 25 to March 10, 2018 at The Grolier Club. Publishers Weekly describes the exhibition:

This erudite and altogether fascinating collection of essays from Wessells (Another Green World) explores the development of science fiction from its roots, focusing on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which the author considers “the point at which science fiction emerges from the gothic.” He then takes the reader on a personal journey through his favorite books, pointing out historic firsts such as Sara Coleridge’s Phantasmion (1837), the first fantasy novel published in English. He surveys the publishing history of some of the pillars of the genre, including Philip K. Dick, James Blish, Thomas M. Disch, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Robert Sheckley, as well as highlighting the work of authors whose names are less well known by the general public, such as Avram Davidson and R.A. Lafferty.

(22) MAKE THE ROBOT HAPPY. An SF & Fantasy Humble Bundle from Angry Robot is currently available, including books from Anna Kashina, Carrie Patel, Christopher Hinz, Dan Abnett, Danielle L. Jensen, Foz Meadows, Ishbelle Bee, Jay Posey, Justin Gustainis, Kaaron Warren, Keith Yatsuhashi, Megan O’Keefe, Peter Mclean, Peter Tieryas, Rod Duncan, and Wesley Chu. 10 days are left to grab the bundle, which benefits humanitarian charity Worldbuilders (be sure to click on “Choose where your money goes” before going through the checkout process).

(23) GIVE MY REGARDS TO KING TUT. Io9 says, “You Can Now Watch the Original Stargate Movie for Free”:

Back in 1994, few could have predicted what Stargate would become. The original film was a hit, but what happened after is damn near unprecedented. Not a theatrical sequel, no, but several popular television series and a rabid fandom that far overshadowed the people who saw the original movie in theatres.

But it did start with that original movie, directed by Roland Emmerich, starring Kurt Russell and James Spader. And though it’s been available in multiple formats since its initial release, this week MGM put the full film on YouTube for free.

 

[Thanks to Camestros Felapton, Cora Buhlert, Greg Machlin, Hampus Eckerman, James Davis Nicoll, jayn, Juliette Wade, lauowolf, lurkertype, Mark-kitteh, Paul Weimer, Rob Thornton, and Robin A. Reid for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 Contributing Editor of the Day JJ.]

Pixel Scroll 1/24/18 You Can Get Anything You Want At Filer’s Pixel Rant

(1) WORLDCON 76 MEMBERSHIPS SPONSORED FOR MEXICANX FANS, CREATORS. Artist John Picacio, a Worldcon 76 guest of honor, and John Scalzi, are funding four memberships —

John Scalzi, who will fund a pair of the memberships, also publicized the announcement on Whatever: “John Picacio Offering Worldcon Memberships to Mexicanx Fans and Creators”.

(2) COMMEMORATION. Naomi Novik was asked by the New York Times to write an appreciation of Ursula K. LeGuin. She responded with a poem — “For Ursula” – which begins:

I want to tell you something true
Because that’s what she did.
I want to take you down a road she built, only I don’t want to follow it to the end.
I want to step off the edge and go into the underbrush
Clearing another way, because that’s also what she taught
Not how to repave her road but how to lay another
Even if it meant the grass came through the cracks of the pavement, and the thicket ate it up.

(3) DID YOU REMEMBER? Philip K. Dick and Ursula K. Le Guin were at Berkeley High School at the same time in 1947. However, it spoils the story to add that they didn’t know each other…. See “When Ursula K. Le Guin & Philip K. Dick Went to High School Together” at Open Culture from 2016.

(4) OF ACE BOOPS. Doctor Strangemind’s Kim Huett draws this great anecdote from the pages of a classic Australian fanzine — “Ursula Le Guin & Her Elusive Hugo!”.

And now for my favourite Ursula Le Guin letter, one which highlights the two things I like best in an author, a lack of pretentiousness and a sense of humour. The following letter appeared in Philosophical Gas #2, published by John Bangsund in October 1970. The Hugo in question was awarded to Ursula for The Left Hand of Darkness at Heicon ’70, the worldcon held in Heidelberg, Germany in August of 1970. I assume the rocket was accepted on Ursula’s behalf by Terry Carr of Ace Books (which would explain a lot).

(5) SFWA AFFIRMED. Jennifer Brozek on “SFWA and its Community”:

Last night, I went to the SFWA Reading to see my friends Josh Vogt, Greg Bear, and Tod McCoy read. I realized something: I’d missed my SFWA community. These are people I only see at conventions and SFWA events. I’d been so busy with my own stuff lately, and needed some distance from the organization after I stepped down as a Director-At-Large, that I’d pulled away too much. That was the wrong approach, but I suppose it was one I needed at the time.

It’s hard to express just how good it feels to be in a room full of like-minded people who all understand why losing one of the greats like Ursula K. Le Guin is such a tragedy or why naming Peter S. Beagle as SFWA’s newest Grand Master is such a joy. So many of the people I met up with last night are at various points in their writing careers. It was like looking at my past, present, and future writing self. They all understood the language of the writing professional and the publishing industry. It felt like coming home. It felt like family.

Recently, SFWA has had to deal with some tough issues. All of them center around protecting its membership at large. I know, intimately, what they’ve been going through—all the time spent, the discussions had, the decisions made—and I’m proud of the Board. I think, with the evidence they had on hand, they did the only thing they could do to protect the SFWA organization and the community they’ve built.

(6) MORE ON COMMUNITY. SFWA President Cat Rambo tweeted —

(7) RETURN OF THE SHADOW CLARKE JURY. CSFF Anglia has empaneled a new Shadow Clarke Jury for 2018 — Gary K. Wolfe, Alasdair Stuart, Maureen Kincaid Speller, Nick Hubble, Samira Nadkarni, and Foz Meadows. (Speller and Hubble are the only returning Sharkes.)

Dr. Helen Marshall, General Director of the Centre for Science Fiction and Fantasy says in “And Now for a Word from our Hosts”

The Arthur C. Clarke Award has long been an excellent point of reference for taking stock of the changes in the field. It has a deliberately loose mandate to identify the “best” science fiction book of the year, acknowledging that the definition of “best” must be decided by a changing pool of jurors on an annual basis. The Clarke shortlist and the eventual winner showcase the work that has been done in the field, providing an intriguing snapshot of a field in flux. Since its inception the award has been at the heart of a robust critical discussion which interrogates the centre of the genre, its heartland, as well as the margins, where the genre pushes outward. This is why we’ve chosen the Clarke Award submissions list as a starting point for our discussions, and why we return to their shortlist in our discussions.

…What a shadow jury might do, then, is bring these debates into sharper focus. We believe the criticism is valuable, and that detailed, provocative, and respectful criticism enhances our understanding of the text and the cultures which produced it. This form of criticism is not intended to serve the needs of marketers or publicists but those of readers and writers. It aims not only to make visible but also to illuminate and contextualise.

Shadow Clarke juror Maureen Kincaid Speller’s manifesto for the return engagement, “You’re Never Alone with a Critic – Shadowing the Clarke Award, 2018”, says in part —

Here’s the thing – a critic’s job is not to provide plot synopses, nor is it to tell you whether or not you’ll like a novel. It is definitely not a critic’s job to act as an unpaid publicity agent. A critic’s job is to look at the fiction itself, and to have a view about it. Critics write about all sorts of things. They think about where a text sits in relation to other works of sf, they explore themes, tease out aesthetic similarities and differences; they consider what a novel says about the world at large, and, yes, they make judgement based on their experience as informed readers. Which is, if you think about it, exactly the same kind of work as that carried out by an award jury.

Which makes it all the more puzzling that criticism per se has become so frowned upon in the last few years. Is it just that people don’t want to admit this is what is going on behind the scenes? Is it because the word ‘criticism’ carries two meanings, one analytical, the other disapproving? We couldn’t tell but we were fascinated by this pushback against the Shadow Clarke project and decided we needed to explore it further. So, we have decided to run the project for a second year, and this time, rather than simply focusing on the Clarke Award, we’re taking the opportunity to use the shortlisting process as a springboard to exploring the business of criticism more broadly, because we continue to believe that critical analysis has a vital role to play when it comes to talking about science fiction.

(8) STRONG ATTACHMENT. Live Science reports the discovery of a “1.7-Billion-Year-Old Chunk of North America Found Sticking to Australia”.

Geologists matching rocks from opposite sides of the globe have found that part of Australia was once attached to North America 1.7 billion years ago.

Researchers from Curtin University in Australia examined rocks from the Georgetown region of northern Queensland. The rocks — sandstone sedimentary rocks that formed in a shallow sea — had signatures that were unknown in Australia but strongly resembled rocks that can be seen in present-day Canada.

Will this open the way for an Aussie Worldcon with adjacent NASFiC?

(9) WHO IS COMING. LA’s premiere Doctor Who convention takes place in three weeks, and the program has been posted: “Gallifrey One 2018 Schedule of Events Now Online”.

With great pleasure, Gallifrey One today is proud to announce the release of our Schedule of Events for our upcoming convention, The 29 Voyages of Gallifrey One in February. As in prior years, we are using the Sched online scheduling system for a seamless and easy-to-navigate program that can be used on your desktop or mobile device….

Full Screen (General Purpose) version
Fully viewable version, with custom views of events, searchable, plus panelist and guest listings
http://gallifreyone2018.sched.com

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 24, 1984 — Apple Computer, Inc. introduced the Macintosh personal computer.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) RON ELLIK AND THE RONVENTION (1962). Although I never met LASFS member Ron Ellik, who died before I ever joined the club, he was a well-known newzine editor (Starspinkle) and influence on Bruce Pelz, who kept his friend’s name alive in the title of his annual wine and cheese party that I attended for years. Now Rob Hansen gives us new reasons to remember him —

Ron Ellik in 1962.

This year’s Eastercon is being held in Harrogate for the first time in more than half a century. Known as the RONVENTION, that earlier one was organised by Ron Bennett and attended by TAFF-winner Ron Ellik, hence the name. At the January first-Thursday pub meeting here in London, Eastercon committee and staff persons Mark Plummer and Caroline Mullan asked me if I could add a section on the RONVENTION to my website that they could link to. Since this was one of those I’d always intended to get around to I was happy to oblige. I drew mainly from conreports by James White and the two Rons when putting it together: “Ronvention, the 1962 Eastercon”.

I’m uploading this earlier than originally intended because of something I realised after I started work on it, namely that tomorrow, 25th January, is the fiftieth anniversary of Ron Ellik’s death at the tragically young age of 30. So I’m publishing it today in memory of him.

Weird to think that when Ron died, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were still alive, the Beatles were still together, and astronauts had yet to leave Earth orbit and strike out for the moon.

(13) OSCAR ISSUE. The Washington Post’s Cindy Boren, in “Kobe Bryant’s Oscar nod rings awkward in a year Hollywood is hyper-focused on sexual assault”, says Dear Basketball, an Oscar nominee for Best Animated Short Film, may be in trouble because, despite its John Williams score and Glen Keane animation, it features Kobe Bryant, who settled a sexual assault case in 2003 for a substantial sum in an out-of-court settlement.

(14) WOEBEGONE. The MPR News (Minnesota Public Radio) post “Investigation: For some who lived in it, Keillor’s world wasn’t funny” has more information on the firing of Garrison Keillor. Several incidents are described at the link.

For weeks, Minnesota Public Radio refused MPR News’ repeated requests to comment on the company’s separation from Keillor. But as negotiations with Keillor’s company stalled and pressure from news organizations mounted, Jon McTaggart, president and CEO of MPR and American Public Media Group, broke his silence.

In an interview with MPR News Tuesday afternoon, he said the company’s separation of business interests from Keillor came after it received allegations of “dozens” of sexually inappropriate incidents involving Keillor and a woman who worked for him on A Prairie Home Companion. He said the allegations included requests for sexual contact and descriptions of unwanted sexual touching.

McTaggart, who after the interview with MPR News sent an email to MPR listeners and members further explaining the separation from Keillor, says cutting Keillor off was the most painful decision he’s made as CEO. But in-house and external investigations into the matter bore details he could not ignore.

“When we reached a point that from all sources we had sufficient confidence in facts that really required us to act, we took the action we did,” he said. “It was the right thing to do. It was the necessary thing to do, and we stand by it.”

Since the firing, Prairie Home Companion has been renamed Live From Here.

(15) WHAT FATE. Charles McNulty ponders “As artists fall into disgrace, must their art be consigned to oblivion?” at the Los Angeles Times.

The cavalier way men have systemically abused their power over women in and around the workplace warrants little leniency. But a more slippery question has emerged in this me-too moment of cultural reckoning: What to do with the works of artists whose conduct has been abhorrent?

In the growing gallery of alleged predators, there aren’t any artists I hold dear. James Toback’s films aren’t in my Netflix queue. I never mistook Kevin Spacey for one of the greats. And my admiration for James Levine’s conducting has been mostly of the dilettantish variety.

But inevitably a contemporary artist with whom I feel a special kinship will shatter my illusions about his or her character. I doubt that I will throw away the books or delete the recordings or swear off the films. I’m sure I’ll be disillusioned and quite possibly disgusted, but I know that an artist is not identical with his or her masterpieces and that few human beings can live up to their greatest achievements.

This is a theme that Marcel Proust returns to in his epic novel, “In Search of Lost Time” (more romantically known in English as “Remembrance of Things Past”). The narrator recalls a dinner party in which, as a young man, he meets his hero, the writer Bergotte. The young Marcel, intimidated to be seated among the important guests of the swanky Swanns, is struck immediately by the way Bergotte bears no physical resemblance to the man he had “slowly and painstakingly constructed … a drop at a time, like a stalactite, out of the limpid beauty of his books.”

More distressing to Marcel than Bergotte’s coarse appearance is “the busy and self-satisfied mentality … which had nothing in common with the type of mind that informed the books.” The narrator, a natural philosopher, begins to understand through this encounter that art is not contingent on the specific circumstances of an artist’s life.

(16) SF HISTORY. Michael Dirda, in “An expert’s guide to science fiction’s greatest — and neglected — works”, reviews the companion volume to A Conversation larger than the Universe, an exhibit on view at The Grolier Club in New York City from January 25 through March 10 (see the January 19 Pixel Scroll, item 7).

Being well-read both inside and outside the genre, Wessells contends that the first major work of alternate history was a 1931 collection of essays, edited by J.C. Squire, titled “If It Had Happened Otherwise.” Its fanciful “lapses into imaginary history” include “If Lee Had Not Won the Battle of Gettysburg,” by none other than Winston Churchill. Wessells also lingers over one of the most chilling dystopian novels of the 20th century, “Swastika Night,” written by Katharine Burdekin under the pen name Murray Constantine. Drafted in 1936 and published in 1937, it projects a Nazified far-future Europe where Hitler is worshiped as an Aryan god and women are kept in pens as breeding animals. (For more about this remarkable book, I recommend Daphne Patai’s excellent Feminist Press edition or the Gollancz SF Masterworks paperback, for which I wrote a short introduction.)

(17) A COMFORTING DOOM. Jill Lepore’s “A Golden Age for Dystopian Fiction” in the June 5-12 New Yorker last summer, is an essay-review of several dystopian novels, including Cory Doctorow’s Walkaway and Ben H. Winters’s Underground Airlines. Martin Morse Wooster flagged up its quotable last paragraph:

Dystopia used to be a fiction of resistance; it’s become a fiction of submission, the fiction of an untrusting, lonely, and sullen twenty-first century, the fiction of fake news and infowars, the fiction of helplessness and hopelessness. It cannot imagine a better future, and it doesn’t ask anyone to bother to make one.  It nurses grievances and indulges resentments; it doesn’t call for courage; it finds that cowardice suffices.  Its only admonition is:  Despair more.  It appeals to both the left and the right, because, in the end, it requires so little by way of literary, political, or moral imagination, asking only that you enjoy the company of people whose fear of the future aligns comfortably with your own.  Left or right, the radical pessimism of an unremitting dystopianism has itself contributed to the unravelling ot the liberal state and the weakening of a commitment to political pluralism. ‘This isn’t a story about war,’ (Omar) El Akkad writes in American War.  ‘It’s about ruin.’  A story about ruin can be beautiful.  Wreckage is romantic.  But a politics of ruin is doomed.

(18) UP IN THE AIR. Maybe we’ll get them after all? “Degree in ‘flying car’ engineering offered online”.

The online course is being offered by Silicon Valley e-learning school Udacity and will begin in February.

It is the brainchild of former Stanford University professor Sebastian Thrun, who previously headed up Google’s self-driving car project, Waymo.

Prof Thrun is hoping to attract at least 10,000 applicants to what he is describing as a “nanodegree”.

A nanodegree, according to Udacity’s website, is an online certification that can be earned in six to 12 months, and aims to teach basic programming skills in various disciplines.

…Previously Udacity has offered a self-driving car course, which has attracted 50,000 applicants since 2016.

(19) KIDS PUT IT TOGETHER. “K’Nex builds toys rollercoaster you can ride in VR”. (Video) A little like those model railroad trains with the tiny camera on the front – only a lot faster.

Toy-maker K’Nex has designed a toy rollercoaster kit that children can assemble and then “ride” by wearing a virtual reality headset.

The BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones tried it out at the Toy Fair 2018 exhibition in London.

(20) VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA. BBC reports “A submersible mission in Antarctic waters has revealed unique ecosystems so rare they deserve special protection, say scientists.” — “Antarctica’s Weddell Sea ‘deserves protected status'”.

The seabed investigation, co-ordinated by the campaign group Greenpeace, will help build the case for the creation of the world’s largest wildlife sanctuary.

Covering 1.8 million sq km, the marine reserve will be considered by Antarctic nations at a conference in October.

It would ban all fishing in a large part of the Weddell Sea.

… Along with the smaller creatures that live on the seafloor, the reserve would bring additional protection to larger animals such as leopard seals, orcas, humpback whales and penguins.

(21) WETTER RESISTANCE. The BBC’s Nicholas Barber argues “Why ‘The Shape of Water’ is the most relevant film of the year”.

All things considered, the savvy choice for best picture might be Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water, which has been nominated in a whopping 13 different categories. Admittedly, it’s yet another film with a male director, but it does have a female co-writer, Vanessa Taylor, and a female lead, Sally Hawkins, and it passes the Bechdel Test within minutes. If that weren’t enough, it has major black and gay characters, as well as a South American immigrant; true, he’s a half-human, half-newt South American immigrant, but that’s not the point. More diverse and inclusive than any of the other best picture nominees, the film doesn’t just rail against sexism, racism and homophobia, it argues that they are all symptoms of the same patriarchal disease – a disease which all voiceless and oppressed people should defeat together. In short, The Shape of Water is a lot more militant than the average magic-realist fable about a woman who fancies a fish-monster. What’s more, it’s even more topical now than when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival last August.

(22) WORKSHOP WISDOM. Cynthia Felice shared “Five things I learned at Clarion”. The first is:

  1. Writers who write naked or wearing only a fedora do not write any better than a writer who is fully dressed.

(23) TRAILER PARK TRASH. Cnet doesn’t want you to miss it — “Quentin Tarantino’s Star Trek gets a trashy parody trailer”.

Ever since news emerged that Quentin Tarantino, famous for films like “Pulp Fiction” and “Kill Bill,” had pitched a great idea for a Star Trek movie to film studio Paramount, we’ve been wondering what Tarantino Trek might look like.

We now have one possible answer in the form of “Star Trek: Voyage to Vengeance,” a fake trailer made up of moments from the original series.

The video comes from Nerdist and features a laundry list of some of the original series’ most cringe-worthy moments, including the space hippies and almost everyone Captain Kirk ever kissed.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Mark Hepworth, ULTRAGOTHA, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael J. Walsh, Carl Slaughter, Daniel Dern, David K.M. Klaus, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 11/9/17 You Get A File, I’ll Get A Scroll, We’ll Go Down To The Pixel Hole

(1) DOCTOR WHO, FASHION STATEMENT. The BBC gives us a glimpse of “Doctor Who: First look at Jodie Whittaker in character”. The outside of the TARDIS gets a makeover, too.

The first official photo of Jodie Whittaker as she will appear in Doctor Who has been released.

She is seen in cropped teal culottes with yellow braces, as well as a striped jumper and long trench coat.

The Broadchurch and Trust Me star has begun filming as the 13th Time Lord.

Whittaker, the first female Doctor, takes over from Peter Capaldi and will make her debut on screen when the Doctor regenerates in the Christmas special on BBC One.

Her look is completed with brown boots, blue and turquoise striped socks and some unusual earrings, at the top and bottom of her left ear.

Reading about braces made me think of Christopher Robin, but another commenter said the outfit reminded her of Robin Williams’ outfit in Mork and Mindy, while JJ said the ensemble reminds her of ST:TNG’s Wesley Crusher.

While we might like to think the new Doctor’s clothing therefore has a rich science fictional pedigree, Radio Times says all these touches are references to past Doctors. (For example, I should not have already forgotten that Matt Smith wore braces.) See the full breakdown at the link.

(2) MORE EXCHANGES OVER SULEIMAN. After CA Suleiman was permanently banned from Horror Writers Association events yesterday, people continued to discuss both the charges of sexual harassment, and the tenor of statements by Green Ronin Publishing, which released him from a project.

Hillary Monahan was the focal point for a long discussion on Twitter, now Storified as “GR and I’m Tired: Account of last night’s FB trolling” with numerous screenshots from Facebook. Monahan begins —

And Green Ronin Publishers made a second attempt at explaining its stance in “A followup and clarification to yesterday’s statement.

Yesterday, Green Ronin’s leadership made a statement about allegations regarding the freelance developer of The Lost Citadel.

Valid concerns have been raised about the tone of our initial response, and for this, we apologize. We absolutely believe victims. Full stop. We always have, and we always will.

Our initial reactions were complicated, due to previous issues related to this matter (we will, once leadership is back in-office, release a timeline to clarify the sequence of events.). As new information became available to us, we have tried to adjust course as quickly as possible.

We put our foot in it when we did so. We have been rightly criticized for the way it was phrased and the way our tone cast blame at the concerned folks who felt we weren’t doing enough to manage the situation. Those critiques are fair, and we’ve listened.

The fact of the matter is that this is on us. We could have, and should be, handling this better. We will be, going forward.

Green Ronin remains committed to diversity, safety, and respect for all, but that does not mean we are perfect. What we can do, when we make a mistake is to take the situation and learn from it. We hope to use the dialogue surrounding these accusations and responses to create an industry that is truly safe for women and minorities, as well as continuing to improve our own responses, personal and professional.

We believe, passionately, in doing the right thing, and that sometimes the right thing is an evolving situation that we will have to adapt to as we go, making difficult and time-consuming decisions along the way. We will be instituting an external anti-harassment policy (applicable to our freelancers and volunteers) to accompany the internal employee policy, as well as working with our contractors and anyone who represents Green Ronin publicly to ensure that they meet our standards of respect, consent, and response.

Thank you for your feedback, and for your patience as we figure out how to prevent such issues going forward. We will continue to try and do better, and to earn back the trust that was previously placed in us.

Sincerly, Green Ronin’s Staff and Owners

(3) THERE IS ANOTHER. A third Star Wars trilogy has been announced: “Rian Johnson, Writer-Director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, to Create All-New Star Wars Trilogy”.

As writer-director of The Last Jedi, Johnson conceived and realized a powerful film of which Lucasfilm and Disney are immensely proud. In shepherding this new trilogy, which is separate from the episodic Skywalker saga, Johnson will introduce new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored.

“We all loved working with Rian on The Last Jedi,” said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm. “He’s a creative force, and watching him craft The Last Jedi from start to finish was one of the great joys of my career. Rian will do amazing things with the blank canvas of this new trilogy.”

“We had the time of our lives collaborating with Lucasfilm and Disney on The Last Jedi,” Johnson and Bergman said in a joint statement. “Star Wars is the greatest modern mythology and we feel very lucky to have contributed to it. We can’t wait to continue with this new series of films.”

Johnson’s upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi arrives in U.S. theaters on Dec. 15, 2017.

(4) MARTHA WELLS. Tor.com has the text of “’Unbury the Future’: Martha Wells’ Full Speech from the 2017 World Fantasy Awards”, which addresses the WFC theme “Secret Histories.”

Weird Tales had women poets, a woman editor named Dorothy McIlwraith, women readers who had their letters printed in the magazine. There were women writing for other pulps, for the earlier Dime Novels, lots of them. Including African American Pauline Hopkins, whose fantasy adventure novel appeared in a magazine in 1903.

These women were there, they existed. Everybody knew that, up until somehow they didn’t. We know there were LGBT and non-binary pulp writers, too, but their identities are hidden by time and the protective anonymity of pseudonyms.

Secrets are about suppression, and history is often suppressed by violence, obscured by cultural appropriation, or deliberately destroyed or altered by colonization, in a lingering kind of cultural gaslighting. Wikipedia defines “secret history” as a revisionist interpretation of either fictional or real history which is claimed to have been deliberately suppressed, forgotten, or ignored by established scholars.

That’s what I think of when I hear the words “secret histories.” Histories kept intentionally secret and histories that were quietly allowed to fade away.

(5) FLOATING GREEN HEADS. Alan Brown recounts “Lessons in Chivalry (and Chauvinism): Have Space Suit—Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein” at Tor.com.

… I can’t remember exactly what edition of Have Space Suit—Will Travel I read first; I suspect it was a library edition. Sometime thereafter, I bought a paperback copy of my own. I certainly didn’t pick it for its cover, which portrayed the hero in his space suit with the Earth behind him, and the faces of many of the other characters in shades of green around the globe, floating like severed heads in space. Jarringly, the artist left out the main female protagonist, perhaps thinking that boys would not want a book with a girl’s face on the cover (but regardless of the reason, at least we were spared the sight of her portrayed as a severed, greenish head)….

The social settings of the juveniles also can be jarring. The clichéd families, with the father serving as breadwinner and ruler of the household and the mother portrayed as obedient, passive, and nurturing, can set modern teeth on edge. While the male protagonists are all clearly beyond puberty, they display an indifference to females more appropriate to a boy in the pre-puberty latent phase of development. I wonder if this was something imposed on Heinlein by the publisher, as his own opinions in these areas were far more liberal.

The juveniles, however, excel in making the future seem believable, and are populated by characters the reader can identify with. And to a young reader, the grim challenges the protagonists faced in the books were the stuff of excitement. The books offered a view of how young people could face even the most daunting of challenges and overcome them. They offered a model of self-reliance and empowerment for the reader. It is no wonder they are remembered long after “safer” youth-oriented entertainment has been forgotten.

(6) TWITTER JAIL. Twitter has suspended Vox Day’s account. Just like the President, only longer.

I can’t say the Trust & Safety Council were particularly helpful, as they did not provide any explanation why or ask me to remove any tweets. I can still access Twitter from that account and see my notifications, but can’t actually tweet anything. It’s just as well, I have too much to do to waste time on social media anyhow. We apologize for this momentary disruption in the Daily Meme Wars, which will resume tomorrow in an email-only format.

(7) GALLIFREY ONE SAFETY UPDATE. Los Angeles’ epic Doctor Who convention has modified its antiharassment procedures: “Gallifrey One Faces Off… Against Harassment”

Right now, most of America is paying close attention to reports out of the entertainment industry (and elsewhere) about sexual harassment and other forms of bullying and intimidation. Indeed, Gallifrey One has already been planning to do our part to help with cyberbullying and harassment through the announcement of our support for the Pop Culture Hero Coalition as our 2018 charity.

But at-convention harassment, especially sexual harassment, is something that has been disclosed more and more of late, and something we consider to be a very big deal. Although we have always been readily available to deal with any perceived harassment reported at our convention, we want to do our part to ensure that all of our attendees feel Gallifrey One is a safe environment in which to enjoy what we have to offer. And most of all, we want every one of our attendees to feel their complaints about harassment are heard, understood, investigated and acted upon.

That’s why, effective with our 2018 convention, we have elected to modify our procedure just a bit to make things a lot easier on attendees who feel they need to report poor behavior to the convention. This begins with a central point of contact: we have appointed Joyce Lloyd, our Facilities & Hospitality Director, to an additional role as our Convention Harassment Ombudsperson.

(8) RANDY BYERS MEDICAL NEWS. One of the nicest fans I’ve ever met, Randy Byers, is in hospice care and nearing the end. As Geri Sullivan summed it up for File 770 —

The information is posted public to the world on Facebook, which is certainly in keeping with Randy’s decision to be public about having glioblastoma and the various treatments he’s been through for it since his first post early in December 2015.

The glioblastoma appears to be progressing rapidly at this point; IIUC, they don’t expect Randy to be conscious again. Here’s the perma-link to the Facebook post Randy’s sister LaVelle Allen put up Tuesday night: https://www.facebook.com/randy.byers.58/posts/1947245215290919

Just incredibly sad news.

(9) IN PASSING. Cora Buhlert says there was much more to the late actress than her most famous role: “More than just a Bond Girl – Remembering Karin Dor”.

Though the peak of her career was in the 1960s, Karin Dor continued to appear in movies, TV and theatre roles almost up to her death. Most of her later roles were in bad German TV shows, but occasionally she appeared in good stuff as well such as Margaretha von Trotta’s 2006 drama Ich bin die Andere (The Other Woman – trailer here). And because the Edgar Wallace movies, the Winnetou movies, the Dr. Mabuse movies, the Fu Manchu movies and the rest of the marvelously entertaining German thrillers of the 1960s were a staple on TV in the 1980s and 1990s and even show up on TV occasionally today, Karin Dor is still the iconic face of 1960s German cinema to a generation born long after these movies first appeared. She was definitely an important part of my childhood.

(10) POP CULTURE PANTHEON. British artist Chris Barker released a 2017 version of the Sgt. Pepper cover to follow his 2016 version:

View this post on Instagram

#sgtpepper2017

A post shared by Chris Barker (@christhebarker) on

(11) HORROR ANTHOLOGY. As recently announced on Episode 140 of The Horror Show with Brian Keene.

Christopher Golden, James A. Moore, and John McIlveen working in concert with Haverhill House’s Twisted Publishing imprint have launched a GoFundMe campaign for a collection of horror short stories titled “The Twisted Book of Shadows“.  The unique feature of this collection is that all submissions will be made via a blind process.  None of the slots will be reserved for premier authors.

But those books were published during horror literature’s glory days. In the years since, it has grown more and more difficult to persuade publishers to invest in horror anthologies (or anthologies of any sort, really). If Golden wants to pitch an anthology to a mainstream publisher, it’s necessary to compile a list of contributors first. Which means that there’s little opportunity to bring in unknown writers.

Yet those memories remain. We have talked for years about the desire to present an anthology that is open to anyone, and which allows us to follow some personal rules (outlined below). Yes, it’s a massive time commitment, but we-and John McIlveen of Haverhill House-believe it is absolutely worth it. We want to create a market for horror stories that presents a real, professional opportunity.

To that end, THE TWISTED BOOK OF SHADOWS…

  • Will have zero spaces reserved for marquee names.
  • Will use a blind submissions program (we won’t know who wrote the stories until we’ve selected them).
  • Will pay professional rates-a minimum of six cents per word, with a cap on advances of $300 per story.
  • Will pay royalties-a pro rata share of 50% of all royalties earned.

How the hell are we going to do this?

If you’re reading this, you already know. We’ve launched this GoFundMe page because we believe there are enough readers out there who will believe in this project to get it funded. We want there to be opportunities out there for horror writers to compete based solely on talent, and to be paid professional rates for their work. Yes, we’re aware six cents per word is not a lot of money, but it’s a start.

(12) THE SKUNKWORKS. You got that right….

(13) BUGGY E-CASH. BBC has the story — “Code bug freezes $150m of Ethereum crypto-cash”.

The bug was in code written by Parity Technologies to create digital wallets holding virtual coins – called Ether.

It let someone hunting for bugs become the joint owner of hundreds of wallets.

However, when the unidentified person tried to reverse their mistake they stopped the original owners of the wallets getting access too.

(14) POTTERMON GO. Look out for this — “Harry Potter game is Pokemon Go creator’s next trick”.

One expert said the Harry Potter brand had the potential for similar success.

Publisher Warner Bros Interactive owns the video game rights to the Harry Potter series. It has previously developed Lego-branded tie-in titles via its TT Games subsidiary as well partnering with Electronic Arts to create action-adventures that launched alongside the movies.

Warner said Niantic’s Harry Potter: Wizards Unite was just one of several new games based on JK Rowling’s characters that are planned. They will all be released under a new label – Portkey Games – so-named because Portkeys transport wizards from place to place in the books.

(15) MOVING IN. The local News-Gazette celebrated their new neighbors, the editors of Uncanny: “Sci-fi-focused Uncanny Magazine takes up residence in Urbana”.

An award-winning online science-fiction magazine read by people all over the world has made the move to Urbana.

University of Illinois graduate Lynne M. Thomas is now a top librarian at the UI, but most of the literary world knows her as a five-time winner of the Hugo, the World Science Fiction Society’s top award.

Her husband, Michael Damian Thomas, a Parkland College graduate, is a stay-at-home dad who cares for their daughter, Caitlin, who has a rare congenital disorder called Aicardi syndrome. When Michael isn’t working as an advocate for children with disabilities, he has also managed to become a two-time Hugo Award winner.

(16) NAME THAT REDHEAD. In one minute, Marvel brings you up to date in X-Men: Jean Grey Through The Years.

Take a moment to relive all the classic moments of Jean Grey, from her debut in 1963’s X-MEN #1 to the return of her adult form in the upcoming PHOENIX: RESURRECTION.

 

(17) DOUBTFUL. Several members of the cast of Stranger Things were on The Late Late Show with James Corden where they did a skit that claimed at one point the Stranger Things actors and Corden were all in a Motown tribute group called “The Upside Downs.”

[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Dann, Jim Meadows, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Kathy Sullivan, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories,, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Pixel Scroll 10/24/17 Harry Pixel And The Undeserved Scroll

(1) MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RADCH. Ann Leckie gave away “Provenance Vestiges” on her book tour. See some of them at the link.

For the trilogy, I was giving out pins, which was great fun, but in all honestly were somewhat difficult to travel with. One pin may not weigh much. Several hundred are another matter entirely. And the mass of them tended to make airport security jumpy.

I wanted to do something fun this time, too, but maybe also something that wouldn’t set off every metal detector on my cross-continent trek, and might be more easily mailable once I got home. And the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like what I wanted was some kind of cool vestige! So I contacted Nikki Thayer. Nikki did me my GigaNotoSaurus banner, and it was Nikki who I turned to when I wanted some Emanations. So this time I went to Nikki and asked her to please make me some cool art to go on the back of some postcards.

If you came to one of my signings, you’ll have gotten (or been able to get) a vestige of the occasion with the first image here, but there are two others! And Nikki says y’all can use these for stuff–make things with them if you want! Do please try to credit Nikki if you can, though.

(2) ROLL ‘EM. The Tolkien biopic has started filming in northern England says Den of Geek.

Nicholas Hoult is taking on the title role in the movie, with the cast also featuring Lily Collins and Colm Meaney (Meaney was announced as joining the cast a week or two back). The latter two have been shooting scenes in Cheshire, under the eye of director Dome Karukoski.

(3) WRITE LIKE THE WIND. Mad Genius Club’s Amanda S. Green is incensed:

Last night, I started my usual prowling through the internet, looking for a topic for today’s post. Nothing resonated with me until I came across a discussion about indie authors. Even though the discussion remained civil, the disdain and condemnation was obvious. I’ll admit, I had a knee-jerk reaction where I wanted to go wading into the discussion to give the indie side of the argument. I didn’t because it would have gained nothing. The people taking part in the discussion are so entrenched in their beliefs, they wouldn’t have listened, no matter how convincing my arguments might have been.

You see, like so many who have been traditionally published, this group simply can’t fathom the speed with which a number of indie authors write. More than that, they can’t accept you can write, edit and publish a book in a month or two. They can’t wrap their minds around the fact that the year or more between books most authors experienced by traditionally publishing was an artificial delay in the production line. But, because this is the system they are used to, it is the only one they feel is valid.

Yes, that is a bit of an oversimplification. They understand that authors write at different paces. It is the rest of it that blows their minds. They have a hard time realizing it doesn’t take months to get edits back and have them finalized. They forget that indies don’t have to wait for publication slots to come open for release dates. Even so, when they start saying they fear for our industry, they point to the speed with which indie writers are putting out their product and assume the product must be inferior because it didn’t go through the same process their work did.

Roger Zelazny once wrote a novel in a weekend. I doubt you could tell which of his works it is.

(4) IN HER PRIME. As previously reported, Kit Reed died September 24 of an inoperable brain tumor. Andrew Porter furnished his photo of the author taken at the 1995 Readercon.

Kit Reed 1995 Readercon – Photo copyright © Andrew Porter

(5) PHILOSOPHICALLY SPEAKING. Ethan Mills delves into “The Contingencies of Histories: Ultima by Stephen Baxter” at Examined Worlds.

Aside from some deeper elements of the plot that really only come together at the end (which I will leave spoiler-free), some of the most interesting philosophical content surrounds the contingency of history.  Could human history of the last few thousand years have gone really differently than it did?  How do contingent events of climate and disease shape history?  Do science, technology, and ethics proceed in a linear fashion from one stage to the next, as a lot of science fiction supposes?  (See especially Star Trek, where the historical trajectory of Western Europe sets the standard for all civilizations in the galaxy in the form of Hodgkin’s Law of Parallel Planetary Development).  Could you imagine societies with spaceflight, but without sophisticated computers, even opting for low tech interstellar travel?  Or a society that eliminates hunger but not slavery?  A society that colonizes this and other solar systems but with a deeply traditional view of its past and acceptance of social hierarchies including empires and royalty?

(6) WHO’S COMING. Gallifrey One didn’t get Pearl Mackie after all but they have new guests to announce.

Greetings, Gallifrey One attendees! Our October update is now on our website and includes a lot of updates… first and foremost, we are absolutely thrilled to announce that Gallifrey One 2018 will be the very first *ever* convention appearance of Doctor Who’s amazing music composer, Murray Gold, who will be joining us for a special live performance on Saturday afternoon. We’ll have details about that soon. We’re also pleased to welcome Doctor Who’s current costume designer Hayley Nebauer, and a number of other program guests including Jane Espenson, Blair Shedd and Naren Shankar.

With the good news comes the bad: we can confirm that Pearl Mackie will indeed not be attending in February, due to her recent commitment to the new play The Birthday Party in the West End. As we mentioned on our last update in September, we tried to work out an alternative allowing her to come to L.A. for our weekend, but with the play’s schedule and Ms. Mackie’s burgeoning career, it simply wasn’t meant to be. Rest assured we’re already working on additional guests for February so stay tuned!

(7) LONGUEUIEL OBIT. Persephone Longueuiel was a victim of a house fire in April. Jay Allan Sanford has written a tribute in the San Diego Reader,  “Behind the fire at Mission Hills’ ultimate Halloween house: Letters from Persephone”.

Tall and dark, with long jet-black hair and inclined toward gypsy-gothy clothes, she was a part-time photographer and aspiring author who spent 30 years working on a never-published book about homosexuals in early Hollywood forced to hide their sexuality. She lost her virginity at a San Diego Comic-Con to a famous horror author for whom she spent the rest of her life pining. She once managed the Comic Kingdom store in Hillcrest, and she owned a horror memorabilia collection valued many times the $20,000 fire officials say the contents of the “hoarder” house were worth. She bought one each of all the Stephen King signed hardcovers and other contemporary authors such as Clive Barker, but she also had rarities like a second edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and original editions of HP Lovecraft books such as The Outsider and Others. She had original TV scripts for shows such as The Addams Family, crates of Universal monster toys dating back to the 1940s, and movie posters for lovable turds such as Son of Blob and Attack of the Crab Monsters.

Her pen pals over the years included authors Robert “Psycho” Bloch, Clive Barker (Hellraiser), and comic creators Neil Gaiman (Sandman) and Alan Moore (Watchmen). Persephone and Elizabeth got holiday cards from Ray Bradbury, Robert Crumb, and Isaac Asimov. One of those celebrated figures is the man who claimed her virginity at Comic-Con.

(8) WEITZ OBIT. Skylab rescuer: “Astronaut Paul Weitz Dies At 85; Veteran Of Skylab And Shuttle Missions”.

On his first space flight, he served as pilot on Skylab-2 (SL-2), along with Apollo 12 veteran Charles “Pete” Conrad, Jr., and Joseph Kerwin, also a rookie on SL-2. The mission to fix Skylab, which had suffered significant damage during the space station’s launch, is still considered one of the most difficult and dangerous in the annals of spaceflight.

…”We had to get the temperatures under control if we were going to salvage Skylab at all,” he told NASA in an oral history recorded in 2000.

Years later, Weitz returned to space when he commanded the critical first mission of Challenger, NASA’s second flight-worthy Space Shuttle orbiter, lifting off on April 4, 1983. The successful flight lasted five days.

Photos and more details on BBC.

(9) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

The Disney chipmunks Chip and Dale are named after Thomas Chippendale, the furniture maker.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) GRAPHIC EXAMPLES. PJ Media’s Megan Fox finds “Prominent Conservative Artists Blacklisted Because of Involvement with Alt*Hero Comics Series”. (Although it sounds like Chuck Dixon already hadn’t been that busy for awhile.)

Timothy Lim, a talented freelance professional illustrator and cover artist, has been fired from Mount Olympus comics because he took a job to create the cover for subversive right-wing comic series Alt?Hero. After Alt?Hero creator Vox Day announced Lim’s contribution publicly, Lim received this message from his current employer.

Lim had begun work for Patriotika, Mount Olympus’s answer to SJW comics, because he had heard it would be pro-American and the SJWs who have taken over DC Comics and Marvel would hate it. “I found out about Patriotika from friends who had positive things to say about it,” Lim said. “I contacted the owner to volunteer my services for his next issue, free of charge, just to support a good cause. He decided to hire me for cover work on another title in the same universe, Valkyrie Saviors.”

But the goodwill took a bad turn when it became public that Lim was working with Vox Day. “When he saw the work that I had done for Alt?Hero, he was not enthused. Three days later he messaged me to tell me he would not print the Valkyrie Saviors cover or the Patriotika one which I was going to finalize the following week,” said Lim.

… Chuck Dixon, the Batman writer most known for co-creating the popular villain Bane and the man Bleeding Cool called “the most prolific comic book writer of all time,” has also been attacked for signing on with Alt?Hero. PJ Media spoke to Dixon about it.

… Dixon’s conservative politics have never been a secret. He wrote the graphic novel “Clinton Cash” during the last election, which hammered the Clintons for their dubious money grabbing schemes. Dixon says the blacklisting began in the early 2000s. “I’ve experienced a steep drop in assignments since 2000. Primarily from the two largest comics publishers [Marvel and DC Comics]….

…Dixon explained why he decided to work with Vox Day. “My decision to join with Vox on this project is because he offered me an interesting opportunity; a return to the kind of escapist superhero fantasy I used to be allowed to create at DC Comics and Marvel Comics. I’ve long lamented that the major comics publishers have walked away from their core audience over the past two decades,” he explained. “They  ran from them by creating ham-handed preach-athons that scold the readers rather than entertain them. And just within the last year, the diversity movement in comics has ratcheted up to chase away even the last of the die-hard fans who were holding on to the hope that one day superhero comics would return to their core appeal as wish-fulfillment fantasies.”

Dixon believes that the answer to SJW culture is to carve out a counter-culture in the realm of entertainment….

(12) THEY’LL BE BACK. It shouldn’t come as a surprise: “CBS has renewed Star Trek: Discovery for a second season” reports Andrew Liptak at The Verge,

The USS Discovery will continue to explore the galaxy. CBS announced this morning that it has renewed the latest iteration of the Star Trek franchise for a second season.

CBS noted that the show has been successful at bringing in new subscribers to its streaming service All Access, and has earned acclaim from fans and critics. Following the season’s premiere, CBS announced that sign-ups for the service had reached their highest level to date. CBS did not announce an episode count for season 2, nor when it would begin airing.

Star Trek: Discovery is set roughly a decade before the events of The Original Series. The show follows Michael Burnham, a disgraced Starfleet officer who serves aboard the USS Discovery following the outbreak of war between the Federation and Klingon Empire. Presently, CBS has aired six of the first season’s 15 episodes, and it has split the season into two “chapters.” The first nine episodes are set to premiere on a weekly basis through November, while the second half will premiere in January 2018.

(13) NOT A MEAL. Soylent isn’t people, and now it’s also not for people, at least Canadians: “Soylent Banned in Canada for Not Actually Being a Meal” according to Gizmodo.

In a major blow to Canadians who love bland on-the-go meal replacement goop, The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has blocked all shipments of Soylent into the country.

Soylent first began shipping to Canada in July 2015, announcing the move with a video of people reading fanatical complaints from Canucks requesting Soylent, with “O Canada” playing in the background. It seems Canada’s food regulatory agency is not as enthusiastic about having the quasi-nutritious substance shipped into the Great White North.

According to a statement from Rob Rhinehart, the CEO of Rosa Foods and the former software engineer who created Soylent, CIFA told the company in early October that their “products do not meet a select few of the CFIA requirements for a ‘meal replacement.’”

(14) ARCHEOLOGICAL GIFTS. NPR has the official word: “U.K. Offers Famed Arctic Shipwrecks As ‘Exceptional Gift’ To Canada”.  The Franklin expedition has spawned genre spinoffs ranging from an Alpha Flight take (right after the first corpses were discovered, 30+ years ago) to a Dan Simmons novel.

In an act befitting “our long shared history and the closeness of our current bilateral relationship,” the U.K. has announced it will give Canada the recovered shipwrecks of John Franklin, a British explorer who sought to chart an unnavigated section of the Northwest Passage in the Arctic in the 1840s — and died in the attempt, along with all of his crew.

“This exceptional arrangement will recognise the historical significance of the Franklin expedition to the people of Canada, and will ensure that these wrecks and artefacts are conserved for future generations,” British Defense Minister Michael Fallon said in a statement published Tuesday.

For more than a century and a half, the resting place of the two vessels remained a mystery — until a team of archaeologists finally found and identified the HMS Erebus in 2014. Just two years later, researchers acted on a tip from an Inuit man to find the HMS Terror, the flagship of Franklin’s 1845 expedition, sitting “perfectly preserved” nearby in the waters near King William Island.

(15) A BANG TOO BIG FOR CAMBRIDGE. Not-so-brief History: “Stephen Hawking’s Ph.D. Thesis Crashes Cambridge Site After It’s Posted Online”.

Interest in “Properties of Expanding Universes” is at an all-time high: Stephen Hawking’s doctoral thesis of that name crashed Cambridge University’s open-access repository on the first day the document was posted online.

The Cambridge Library made several PDF files of the thesis available for download from its website, from what it called a high-resolution “72 Mb” file to a digitized version that is less than half that file size. A “reduced” version was offered that was even smaller — but intense interest overwhelmed the servers.

By late Monday local time, the well-known theoretical physicist’s thesis had been viewed more than 60,000 times, says Stuart Roberts, deputy head of research communications at Cambridge. He added, “Other popular theses might have 100 views per month.”

(16) AGE OF DISCOVERY. “Astrolabe: Shipwreck find ‘earliest navigation tool'” — not exactly the Antikythera, but historic tech in its own right.

An artefact excavated from a shipwreck off the coast of Oman has been found to be the oldest known example of a type of navigational tool.

Marine archaeologists say the object is an astrolabe, an instrument once used by mariners to measure the altitude of the Sun during their voyages.

It is believed to date from between 1495 and 1500.

The item was recovered from a Portuguese explorer which sank during a storm in the Indian Ocean in 1503.

The boat was called the Esmeralda and was part of a fleet led by Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, the first person to sail directly from Europe to India.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/20/16 The Knights Who Say “Pi(xel)”

(1) SPOILERIFFIC GAME OF THRONES RECAP. Lots of GoT recaps online and I tend to read them at random. I found much to recommend Ben Van Iten’s “The Game of Throne Awards, Season 6, Episode 9: Two Battles for the Price of One!” at B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog which ends with a holiday-appropriate joke —

The “GIRL POWER WHOO!” award goes to the newfound alliance between Dany and Yara. They bonded over a number of subjects, but mostly how terrible their dads were. Happy Father’s Day?

(2) CILIP KATE GREENAWAY MEDAL. Chris Riddle has won the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for his illustrations of Neil Gaiman’s retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, The Sleeper and the Spindle. Riddell is the award’s first three-time winner, and also the first reigning  Children’s Laureate to win.

(3) PEAKE RETURN. Chip Hitchcock recommends a BBC post, “Watching Tim Peake return to Earth”: “Describing Tim Peake’s landing — much more rugged than most authors talked about: The nearest to this I can remember is the arrival on Earth of Manny and the Professor in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress — but they were definitely traveling in economy class….”

Next to emerge was Tim Peake. Pale-faced from six months without sun, he was grinning and relaxed and apparently well.

But the sudden exposure to the baking summer heat obviously left him uncomfortable, medics offering him sips of water and mopping his brow.

Having met him a number of times over the past seven years, I felt moved to welcome him back to Earth. He smiled and said he’d been so well trained that the descent was fine and he was loving the fresh air.

You would never have known he’d just spent a few hours crammed into an agonisingly small spaceship and endured the perils of descent with scorching temperatures and violent swings.

(4) TED WHITE PULPFEST GOH. PulpFest today reminded everyone Amazing Stories editor Ted White will be its 2016 Guest of Honor. (A full profile appeared in January).

PulpFest is very pleased to welcome as its 2016 Guest of Honor, author, editor, musician, and science-fiction and pulp fan Ted White. Winner of the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 1968 and nominated as Best Professional Editor or for Best Professional Magazine throughout most of the seventies, Mr. White will speak about his career, AMAZING STORIES, science fiction fandom, the pulps, and much, much more on Saturday evening, July 23, from 7:30 to 8:15 in the Union Rooms on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency.

We look forward to seeing you at “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con” from July 21 through July 24 at the beautiful Hyatt Regency and the city’s spacious convention center in the exciting Arena District of Columbus, Ohio. Please join us as editor emeritus Ted White helps PulpFest celebrate ninety years of AMAZING STORIES!

(Our guest of honor continues to publish professionally after more than sixty years of practicing his craft. His short story, “The Uncertain Past,” appeared in the March & April 2014 number of THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION — featuring front cover art by Kent Bash — while “The Philistine” can be found in the October 2015 issue of ANALOG SCIENCE FICTION AND FACT.

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 20, 1975 Jaws was released.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • June 20, 1928 — Martin Landau
  • June 20, 1952 — John Goodman

(7) FORECAST DENIED. Henry Farrell tells Crooked Timber readers “The Age of Em Won’t Happen” and advises author Hanson to read Hannu Rajaniemi and Ken McLeod.

Tyler Cowen says that the predicted future of Robin Hanson’s Age of Em – a world in which most cognitive and much physical labor will be done by emulations of brain-scanned human beings – won’t happen. I agree. I enjoyed the book, and feel a bit guilty about criticizing it, since Hanson asked me for comments on an early draft, which I never got around to giving him (the last eighteen months have been unusually busy for a variety of reasons). So the below are the criticisms which I should have given him, and which might or might not have led him to change the book to respond to them (he might have been convinced by them; he might have thought they were completely wrong; he might have found them plausible but not wanted to respond to them – every good book consists not only of the good counter-arguments it answers, but the good counter-arguments that it brackets off).

(8) HOW GREAT IS THE SLATE? Lisa Goldstein has launched her 2016 Hugo nominee review series with “And So It Begins: Short Story: ‘Asymmetrical Warfare’”.

In “Asymmetrical Warfare” by S. R. Algernon, Earth is attacked by starfish-shaped aliens, who then wonder why the Earth warriors they killed aren’t regenerating.…

(9) BIG GUEST LIST AT GALLIFREY 2017. Shaun Lyon alerted the media today – here are the big names coming to the next Gallifrey One convention:

It’s time for our first guest block announcement for 2017! First, Gallifrey One is delighted to welcome back to Los Angeles our confirmed guests Paul McGann (the Eighth Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela), William Russell (Ian Chesterton), Katy Manning (Jo Grant), Peter Purves (Steven Taylor), Anneke Wills (Polly), Frazer Hines (Jamie), Daphne Ashbrook (Grace) and 1970s producer Philip Hinchcliffe, as well as guest actors Simon Fisher-Becker (Dorium Maldovar), Prentis Hancock (“The Ribos Operation,” “Planet of the Daleks”) and Michael Troughton (“Last Christmas”), costume designer June Hudson, the voice of the Daleks and Big Finish producer Nicholas Briggs, Dalek operators and writers/actors Nicholas Pegg and Barnaby Edwards, composer Dominic Glynn, Big Finish managing producer Jason Haigh-Ellery, and writers Paul Cornell, Gary Russell, Richard Dinnick, Scott Handcock, David J. Howe, Sam Stone and Tony Lee.

Next, we have a special treat for British TV fans, as we welcome actress Hattie Hayridge — known best as the female Holly in the long-running sci-fi comedy “Red Dwarf” — for her first appearance in L.A.

And that’s not all. It is with great pleasure that we are finally able to welcome one of the last few principal cast members of the classic Doctor Who series we haven’t had before… Lalla Ward (Romana II) joins us for her first and only North American event in 21 years! In conjunction with Ms. Ward’s appearance, we are happy to announce that the beneficiary of Gallifrey One’s 2017 charity auction will be Denville Hall, the UK-based actors’ retirement home for which Ms. Ward is the trustees’ chairperson. We’re thrilled to once again bring our attendees this unique guest experience courtesy our friends at Showmasters Events, who are sponsoring both Ms. Ward and several of our guests listed above.

(10) ENJOY LIFE TO THE HILT. This design-your-own lightsaber system, funded by $1.2M raised on Indiegogo, can now be ordered online. They have shipped over 4,000 to Indiegogo and Kickstarter supporters.

Adaptive Saber Parts are an easy to use modular system that lets anyone construct their very own movie quality custom saber. we have lowered the barrier to entry, now you don’t need expensive machinery, soldering equipment, or years of prop building experience to make your very own custom saber, all you need is your imagination, and Adaptive Saber Parts.

To go along with our ground breaking ASP system, we designed a three dimensional virtual saber builder that allows you to create and modify your custom saber in a digital saber workshop.

 

(11) FIGHTING ‘BOTS. At Future War Stories, “FWS Topics: Miliart Robots and Robotic Soldiers”.

The Near Future of Military Robots

One element of military robots that P.W. Singer raised in his 2009 TED talk was that while America is one of the first to put armed UAVs into the modern battlefield, we do not dominate the field of military robotics. Islamic extremist groups have been using drones, remote controlled explosives with grim effective in Iraq and with off-of-the-shelf hobby drones, more military robots will be accessible to all, even those who want to do harm to the US and her allies. We will see more nations, PMCs, and groups using military robotic systems for surveillance and combat within the next few decades. Nations like the United States, will create more advanced military robots that will be tasked support and combat, unmanning more of modern warfare, downsizing the scale of military organizations. Some warfighters, as with UAV drone pilots today, will never get their boots dusty on foreign soil, but will be engaged in actual warfare. These remote control operators will command battlefield units, in the air, ground, and even sea from thousands of miles away….

(12) LO-TECH FX. The “Melting Toht Candle” is not on my wish list….

melting-toht-candle_2378

If you’ve seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, there’s probably one scene that really sticks in the memory. No not that gigantic boulder tumbling after Indy, nor when he shoots that sword-twirling nutter in the market square, nor even when he has that uncomfortable staring contest with a cobra…

No, we’re talking about when ruthless Gestapo agent Toht gets his gory comeuppance at the end of the film…

  • Celebrate the greatest special-effects death in movie history
  • Wax replica of sadistic Gestapo agent Toht – specs, fedora n’ all
  • Thankfully it melts a lot slower than his face does in the film
  • Doesn’t emit a blood-curdling screech as it burns

(13) POMPEII AND CIRCUMSTANCES. Nicole Hill at B&N Sci-Fit & Fantasy Blog declares “New Pompeii Is a Popcorn-Worthy Summer Thriller”.

Refreshing in its straightforward appeal, Godfrey’s plot rests largely upon the shoulder of Nick Houghton, a down-on-his-luck history scholar who, through mysterious machinations, is offered the job of a lifetime. Novus Particles, one of those monolithic corporations that seem to exist solely to manufacture ethical quandaries, has long mucked about with controversial technology able to transport matter from the past to the present. To varying degrees of success, Novus has brought forward things and people from events at least 30 years in the past. (Time travel, in this world, has its limitations, chiefly in the form of tinkering with the recent past.)

Now, the company has covertly created its crown jewel: a replica Pompeii, populated by residents transported in time moments before their preordained deaths at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. Hapless, brainy Nick has been tagged to take over as the company’s historical adviser, a position designed both to study the displaced culture of Pompeii and to subdue the natives’ unease by maintaining the pitch-perfect authenticity of their surroundings.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Stephen Burridge, Chip Hitchcock, Lisa Goldstein, and Hampus Eckerman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Pixel Scroll 4/4/16 Do Not Scroll Gentle Into That Vile Hive

(1) HEAD OF THE CLASS. From Variety: “’Doctor Who’ Spinoff ‘Class’ Taps Katherine Kelly to Lead Ensemble Cast”.

“Happy Valley” alum Katherine Kelly has been tapped to lead an ensemble of newcomers in the “Doctor Who” spinoff “Class.”

Kelly will play a teacher at Coal Hill School, an institution that has been part of the “Doctor Who” universe since its inception in 1963. Students will be played by newbies Greg Austin, Fady Elsayed, Sophie Hopkins and Vivian Oparah.

Filming on “Class” begins this week. There’s no word yet on a target premiere date for the BBC Three/BBC America series created by Patrick Ness. “Doctor Who” and “Class” exec producer Steven Moffat likened the series to a British version of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

(2) ROLL CALL. Sci-Fi Storm completes the roster – “BBC announces the Class of Class”.

Joining Kelly as students at the school are Greg Austin (Mr. Selfridge), Fady Elsayed (My Brother the Devil), Sophie Hopkins (The Meeting Place) and newcomer Vivian Oparah.

With the focus on the young adult audience, each of the students is described as having “hidden secrets and desires. They are facing their own worst fears, navigating a life of friends, parents, school work, sex, sorrow — and possibly the end of existence.”

(3) TWO MINUTE WARNING. Tickets for next year’s Gallifrey One, the Doctor Who-themed convention in LA, go on sale April 16.

As we prepare for Gallifrey One 2017 ticket sales to start, please remember: tickets to Gallifrey One 2016 sold out in less than two minutes. We mention this because we want to emphasize very strongly that you should be prepared to be ready to purchase your tickets shortly before the time announced above….

2017 Ticket Prices

Prices for tickets to our 2017 Gallifrey One convention are as follows:

$95.00 Adult Full Weekend

$50.00 Teen Full Weekend (Ages 12-16)

$20.00 Child Full Weekend (Ages 3-11)

…Please note that we have elected to discontinue single-day tickets for 2017 in order to adequately support our entire attendee base with a complete weekend full of programming. All tickets will allow entry into the 2017 convention at any time throughout the weekend, and attendee badges can be picked up from Thursday afternoon through Sunday morning.

(4) SATURDAY NIGHT’S ALL RIGHT FOR FIGHTIN’. Wall Street Journal’s “Speakeasy” blog covers Peter Dinklage’s appearance on Saturday Night Live.

There was the expected “GoT” parody (video above), which had Dinklage hosting an “HBO First Look” special on the upcoming sixth season. The gag here – other than Kate McKinnon‘s serviceable impression of Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) – was that there was a quite a bit of truth to Daenerys’s dragons being the show’s scene-stealers. As it turns out, the dragons’ camera-hogging is the result of Bobby Moynihan‘s obnoxious motion-capture actor.

Moynihan also showed up as the brains behind “GoT” – author George R.R. Martin – during Dinklage’s monologue.

NBC has video clips from the episode, including the Game of Thrones sneak peek.

(5) DRAFTING. Rachel Swirsky explores “The difference between draft 1 and draft 12ish of ‘Love Is Never Still’” with sample text and numerous bullet point comments.

I thought it might be interesting to look at a passage from my most recent story, “Love Is Never Still,” as it existed in the first and last drafts. By the time I actually publish a story, I’ve often forgotten what the first draft looked like exactly.

(6) RECOMMENDATION. Mark-kitteh wanted to point out Becky Chambers’ 2014 short story “Chrysalis” at Pornokitsch.  Make it so!

(7) PRE-TRIP REPORT. John Scalzi tells Whatever readers “What I’m Doing in Los Angeles Next Weekend”. He’s coming to LA for the LA Times’ Festival of Books, with other appearances on his schedule — one of the more out-of-the-ordinary is:

7 PM, Nerdmelt Showroom, 7522 Sunset Ave, Los Angeles: I’m one of the featured performers at The Objectively Hottest Authors On Earth LIVE!, which is being presented in association with the Festival of Books. During the show, hosted by artist and comedian Sara Benincasa, I, Maris Kreizman, Cecil Castellucci and Isaac Fitzgerald will be saying and/or doing funny things, and being interviewed by Sara. It’s going to be fantastic. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door, and if you want to show up, don’t wait — the room is, uh, not huge, as I understand it. I can’t say what anyone else has planned but I will be reading an recently-written funny piece that hasn’t been published anywhere yet (although I’ve read it in a couple of places and it killed), so the only place you’ll be able to enjoy it is live, and the only place I’m planning to read it live in the foreseeable future is here, at the Nerdmelt Showroom.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 4, 1930 — American Rocket Society founded
  • April 4, 1975 — Microsoft was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen.
  • April 4, 1983 — The space shuttle Challenger lifted off on its inaugural mission.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • April 4, 1965 – Robert Downey Jr.

(10) THE MARGIN IS THE CUTTING EDGE. That seems to be Noah Berlatsky’s bottom line in his post, “Why Cutting-Edge Sci-Fi Is Often Penned By Marginalized Writers” at The Establishment. I wish he hadn’t spent half his wordage attacking somebody else’s paradigm, and just kept strengthening his case with more of the kind of enlightening analysis he provided about Delany and Le Guin.

“Great science fiction explores the philosophical possibilities of science’s impact on reality,” sci-fi writer James Wallace Harris declares at SF Signal. You take real science, you add brilliant philosophy, and you’ve got sci-fi. Right?

Actually, no. Harris’ article has been widely pilloried on social media because, in his tour of “cutting-edge science fiction,” he managed to make a list without citing a single piece of work by a woman or person of color. But what’s been less discussed is that his omissions are tied closely to the fact that his definition of cutting-edge science fiction is ludicrously limited.

(11) POC TOC. People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction, funded by a Kickstarter appeal, will be another special issue of Lightspeed, guest-edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Kristine Ong Muslim, in partnership with section editors Nisi Shawl, Berit Ellingsen, Grace Dillon, and Sunil Patel, who are assembling a lineup of fiction, essays, and nonfiction from people of color.

The list of original short stories and flash fiction has been announced in the latest backer project update.

Original Short Stories/Novelettes (edited by Nalo Hopkinson & Kristine Ong Muslim)

  • A Good Home — Karin Lowachee
  • Firebird — Isha Karki
  • Fifty Shades of Grays — Steven Barnes
  • Depot 256 — Lisa Allen-Agostini
  • Digital Medicine — Brian K. Hudson
  • The Red Thread — Sofia Samatar
  • Salto Mortal — Nick T. Chan
  • Omoshango — Dayo Ntwari
  • Wilson’s Singularity — Terence Taylor
  • As Long As It Takes to Make the World — Gabriela Santiago

Original Flash Fiction (edited by Berit Ellingsen)

  • Binaries — S.B. Divya
  • Other Metamorphoses — Fabio Fernandes
  •  An Offertory to Our Drowned Gods — Teresa Naval
  • Morning Cravings — Nin Harris
  • Breathe Deep, Breathe Free — Jennifer Marie Brissett
  • The Peacemaker — T.S. Bazelli
  • Chocolate Milkshake Number 314 — Caroline M. Yoachim
  • A Handful Of Dal — Naru Dames Sundar
  • Hiranyagarbha — Kevin Jared Hosein
  • Four And Twenty Blackbirds — JY Yang

The appeal also funded horror and fantasy special issues, for which submissions are now being taken.

  • POC Destroy Horror! will publish in October, as a special issue of Nightmare Magazine, from guest editor Silvia Moreno-Garcia. The submissions portal for the issue is now open, so if you’re a POC writer, and you’d like to write something, by all means please do so and submit your story! Submissions are open now and close May 15, 2016. Just visit submissions.johnjosephadams.com/poc-destroy-horror to read the guidelines and to submit.
  • POC Destroy Fantasy! will publish in December, as a special issue of Fantasy Magazine, from guest editor Daniel José Older. The submissions portal for the issue will be open May 1 – June 15. Visit submissions.johnjosephadams.com/poc-destroy-fantasy to read the guidelines.

(12) KEY TO CHARACTERIZATION. “Why Character Agency is So Important” by Jadah McCoy at Fantasy Book Critic.

What the frick frack does character “agency” really even mean in relation to the wonderful world of book writin’? Character agency is such an integral part of writing believable characters, and it’s something that many people don’t really notice at all when reading.

Chuck Wendig puts it eloquently by saying, “Character agency is…a demonstration of the character’s ability to make decisions and affect the story. This character has motivations all her own. She is active more than she is reactive.”

In other words, the story responds to the character’s actions, not the other way around. Too many times I’ve sat in bed screaming at a character for their stupidity, for their inability to control anything around them, including themselves. Too many times these characters have done the Incredibly Stupid Thing because only the Incredibly Stupid Thing would move the plot forward, and it’s only at the expense of that character’s credibility. Just because isn’t good enough.

When decisions are taken away from the character, they become merely a pawn in a contrived chess game—one where all the moves are already planned out, and no matter where the pawn goes, the results will end up the same.

Characters are living things, like you and I. They think, they speak, they love and hate, they have desires and ideas, and they rebel (and often I can’t even control mine, they just commandeer whatever attempted plot I had penned out).  They are three dimensional. They are people on paper, and people have reasons for what they choose to do. They have thought processes, which sometimes they care to share and sometimes they don’t (not even with their own author).

(13) SEQUELS. “They’re Coming Back” is the title of a TV commercial for Independence Day: Resurgence, coming to theaters June 24.

Using recovered alien technology, the nations of Earth have collaborated on an immense defense program to protect the planet. But nothing can prepare us for the aliens’ advanced and unprecedented force. Only the ingenuity of a few brave men and women can bring our world back from the brink of extinction.

 

(14) REMAKES. While you’re waiting for the Independence Day sequel, you can practice throwing stones at mere remakes. CheatSheet pontificates on “8 of the Worst Sci-Fi Movie Remakes Ever”.

Since science fiction typically rely on special effects more than most other types of films, it would seem that older films in this genre would generally benefit from being updated with the latest moviemaking technologies. Unfortunately, it seems that in many cases any improvement that a remake offers in the area of special effects is canceled out by bad scripts or poor casting decisions. For this reason, there are many science fiction films that are several decades old, but still manage to hold up better than remakes that were made only a few years ago.

It’s a tough audience! #7 is Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes remake.

(15) FUTURE TECH. “The future if literature was to be believed” – an infographic from the Red Candy blog.

Literature has always been a vehicle for predictions about future technology, which turns out to become a reality. Who knows you might well see some of these items in the near future!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Bonnie McDaniel, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peter J.]

Pixel Scroll 1/5/16 A Fine and Pixeled Place

Note: I’m going to start putting the year in the header, too.

(1) SNODGRASS ON AXANAR. Melinda Snodgrass commented about the suit against Axanar on Facebook.

So far a cease and desist order has only been issued and a lawsuit filed against Axanar, but speaking as a former attorney I see no way for CBS and Paramount to turn a blind eye to the other fan efforts. As it is they have an “unclean hands” issue because they allowed the fan productions to go forward for so many years without reacting. Now that they are taking notice they will have to take notice across the board — no exceptions. That’s my best prediction based on training and education.

Because I am a professional screenwriter and also as a trained attorney I feel I have to step away from any involvement with any Star Trek fan funded project. Out of love for Star Trek, and the chance to write for two wonderful actors from the original series I was excited to write a new Trek script. And at the time I agreed to do this CBS was giving everyone tacit approval, a sort of wink and a nod. That is no longer the case.

Am I disappointed? Of course. Having met Walter I would love to have written for him, but it’s not to be. Look, I don’t blame the network or the studio. Bottom line the intellectual property that is Star Trek belongs to them. They have an obligation and a right to protect their asset.

(2) BIG BUCKS BUT SMALL FOOTPRINT. Forbes writer Scott Mendelson ponders why “Five Years Ago, ‘Avatar’ Grossed $2.7 Billion But Left No Pop Culture Footprint”. Why does the film Avatar have no great fannish following (ala Star Wars)?

Despite a pretty swift case of blockbuster backlash, whereby pundits quickly attributed the film’s box office success entirely to the 3D effects, I still think it’s a pretty fantastic adventure film. The characters are simple but primal, and the storytelling is lean and efficient even while running nearly three hours. Avatar was arguably the right film at the right time, with a potent anti-imperialism message that came about just as America was waking up from its post-9/11 stupor and the rest of the world was more-than-ready to cheer a film where murderous private armies were violently defeated and driven away by impassioned indigenous people.

But it was basically a historical cinematic footnote not a year later, with no real pop culture footprint beyond its record-setting box office and groundbreaking 3D.

(3) ADVISED BY C3PU? Hasbro responded to complaints about not including a Rey figure in Monopoly.

https://twitter.com/HasbroNews/status/684205970248089600/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Few bought the explanation.

(4) GALLIFREY CONUNDRUM. LA’s Doctor Who-themed convention Gallifrey One has posted a “Program & Guest Update: Early Schedule, Fan Panels and More!” Here’s a panel devoted to a question I’ve wondered about myself.

Life and Death in the Moffat Era — These days it doesn’t seem like anybody who’s dead stays dead… it’s merely a setback! From Clara to Rory to Missy to Osgood to Davros and even the Time Lords — and you have to through the increasingly complicated history of River Song in there somewhere — has Steven Moffat’s decision to bring back multiple characters made death in Doctor Who anti-climactic? Or is it just another example of the wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey fun that keeps the show fresh?

(5) USED BOOKSTORES. Mad Genius Club’s Amanda S. Green, in “Bookstores: Friend or Enemy”, a commentary on Kristen Lamb’s post about the publishing industry (also linked here the other day), makes an interesting point about used book sales.

When I started this post, I did so figuring I’d be flaying Lamb over how she viewed used bookstores. Why? Because some of the comments I’ve seen around the internet claimed she denounced used bookstores as bad for authors. She doesn’t, not really. She points out something a lot of readers don’t understand. When you buy a book from a used bookstore, the author gets nothing from that sale. Also, she rightly points out that the books you will find in such stores are, by the vast majority, traditionally published books. So, used bookstores aren’t much help for indie authors.

However, for authors whose books are found there, used bookstores do serve a purpose. In fact, it is much akin to the same purpose libraries serve. A person is more likely to pay a percentage of the price of a new book for an author they have never read before than they are to pay full price. So, even though that author doesn’t get a royalty from that particular sale, if the buyer likes the book, there is the possibility of a royalty sale down the road. Even if the reader doesn’t buy a new book later, they will discuss the book with others who might. To me, it is promotion and a good thing. Word of mouth is the best sort of promotion an author can have.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 5, 1889 — The word hamburger first appeared in print in the Walla Walla Union, Walla Walla, Washington.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born January 5, 1914 — George Reeves, of Adventures of Superman fame. (He was also one of Scarlett O’Hara’s suitors in Gone With The Wind.)
  • Born January 5, 1929 — Russ Manning, artist of the comic strip Tarzan, whose credits include Magus Robot Fighter.
  • Born January 5, 1941 Hayao Miyazaki,  Japanese film director, producer, screenwriter, animator, author, and manga artist.

(8) DIRTY PICTURES. Settle down, they’re only pictures of dirt. NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now sending back close-ups of tall, ripple-ridden Martian sand dunes. Lots of photos here.

(9) GOTHAM. Formerly known as Pee Wee Herman — “Gotham: First Look At Paul Reubens As Penguin’s Father”.

Cobblepot is in need of a parental figure on Gotham, after his mother was killed toward the end of the first half of the season, by Theo “Dumas” Galavan. What role daddy dearest will play in that story is unclear, but from this image it looks like Penguin may have gotten his more vengeful side from his paternal parent.

While we don’t know exactly when Penguin’s Papa will show up, Gotham returns February 29, 2016, so we can expect him soon after.

(10) LEAPIN’ LITTERS. Not every dog has his day.

(11) THE CERTAINTY UNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE. T. C. McCarthy can’t explain it.

(12) QUIDDITCH PONG. Combining the elements of Harry Potter’s favorite sport with beer pong, the Unofficial Quidditch Pong tabletop game assigns the player representing each house three unique spells. For example —

Slytherin:

Avada Kedavra– Once per game, choose a cup and remove it from the table. (can be used on Resurrection Stone)

Crucio– All of your opponents must make trick shots for one round

Imperio– Dictate which cup your opponents must make for one round

 

Quidditch Pong slide_2

(13) WETFOOT. Past LASFS President, actor Ed Green, plays one of the hundreds of faux lawyers and bankers fording the Rio Grande to illustrate a talking point in this Ted Cruz campaign ad. (If there’s a problem with the embedded video below, it can also be played at the Ted Cruz website Fix Our Border Yeah, like you would do that…)

Ed appears at in all his glory at :14, :25 and :35.

[Thanks to Dave Doering, John King Tarpinian, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 10/27 Return To Hedgehogwarts

(1) Bad science in sf I’m used to. On the other hand, this expose of Monty Python by medievalist Kathleen E. Kennedy is shocking! Her post for The Mary Sue, “Coconuts in Medieval England Weren’t as Rare as Monty Python and the Holy Grail Made You Think”, claims England was practically awash in coconuts – had he existed, King Arthur would have had no problem acquiring one.

(2) As a fan, when I see something like “15 Facts You Didn’t Know About the Original ‘Ghostbusters’”, I start jonesing to tell the headline writer that the original Ghost Busters was the working title of a Bowery Boys movie. But carry on….

Imagine Eddie Murphy and his fellow paranormal firefighters battling a motorcycle-riding skeleton and a giant lizard monster from their gas-station base in a futuristic New Jersey. Who you gonna call? Ghost Smashers!

By the time it became an instant classic upon its release in 1984, Ghostbusters had morphed through radically different iterations, featuring bonkers plot points and unrecognizable creatures. Those mind-blowing details are chronicled by Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History, author Daniel Wallace’s revelatory, self-explanatory new book due out this week, just in time for Halloween.

(3) I stopped to watch Ray Parker Jr.’s Ghostbusters music video while researching the previous item. That 1980s video did some nice things with neon lights. But it can’t hold a candle *coff* to the Halloween Light Show set to his vocals in this YouTube video — four singing pumpkin faces, tombstones, hand carved pumpkins, strobes, floods, two Matrix boards and thousands of lights.

(4) At this hour it may be hard to find anyone who hasn’t already read John Scalzi’s Whatever post titled “Here’s the Egregious, Mealy-Mouthed Clump of Bullshit That is the 2015 World Fantasy Convention Harassment Policy”.

I am not a lawyer, but I expect that ReedPOP, the company that runs [New York Comic Con] (among many other conventions around the US) has maybe a few lawyers on its staff. If NYCC is utterly and absolutely unafraid to promulgate a harassment policy even though there is a legal statute defining what harassment means in the state of New York, I expect it might have been possible for World Fantasy to have done likewise, if they chose to do so.

And I recommend reading Jesi Pershing’s comment on the post. (I’m unable to link to specific comments on Whatever, despite both it and File 770 running on WordPress….)

(5) Trae Dorn’s story at Nerd & Tie, “World Fantasy Convention writes the worst harasssment policy ever” doesn’t live up to the hyperbole of the headline, but it reflects the prevailing mood of the internet.

(6) Jim C. Hines weighed in with “Trying to Fix WFC’s Harassment Policy Problem”.

Can this actually be fixed?

Well, no. Not completely. You’ve pissed off a lot of people, and you’ve got nine days before the start of the convention. You can’t fix it. But you can work to make it better. Here are my suggestions, for what they’re worth.

A compelling observation was quoted from Natalie Luhrs’ post —

Keep in mind that, as Natalie Luhrs pointed out, “three of the last five World Fantasy Conventions had harassment incidents that were publicized: 20102011, and 2013.” This doesn’t include incidents that weren’t publicized.

However, it should be noted that other recent WFC’s have had genuine anti-harassment policies – the 2015 committee is an aberration in that respect.

(7) The headline for Arthur Chu’s post captures just what I think was really controlling SXSW’s decision to have these panels at all – “This Is Not a Game: How SXSW Turned GamerGate Abuse Into a Spectator Sport”. Chu also is very informative about the history about the anti-harassment panel proposal.

  1. Any “both sides” narrative is nonsense. Whatever harassment and abuse there was cannot have been at all symmetrical.

SXSW acknowledges this when they tell Randi Harper in an email they’ve “received numerous threats of violence regarding this panel (Level Up)” and a “civil and respectful environment seems unlikely.” You can see with your own eyes the degree of incivility and disrespect likely to occur at her panel by looking at the comment thread GamerGate left on PanelPicker. This started up in August and has only had time to fester since then.

By contrast, I don’t think anyone “anti-GamerGate” I’ve spoken to other than my fellow panelists was even aware a GamerGate panel was in the cards until it was announced last week. Feel free to search my own history on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, etc. to see if you can find any mention of it.

(8) Chris Kluwe went straight for the jugular.

What you did, what you’re doing, is providing the blueprint for harassers and hatemongers as to how they win. From this point forward, any fringe group of spiteful lunatics can point to this moment and say, “We will silence the voices of anyone we dislike at SXSW, any view we disagree with, because we know the mewling slugs in charge have not the backbone to stop us. All we need to do is confront them with our vileness, and they will fold.”

And the worst part?

YOU are solely the ones responsible for this.

YOU decided that it was appropriate to give a group of harassers a platform to continue their wretched campaign of ignorance. No one forced you to bypass the application process, to slide this selection of charlatans and liars along back alley channels into the conference. (And by the way, it is beyond ironic that a group ostensibly about ‘ethics in journalism’ required such an unethical route.)

YOU chose to ignore the warnings of the women targeted, to dismiss their voices as unworthy of respect or consideration, and then had the gall to act shocked that a ‘movement’ known for its corrosive toxicity slimed its oh-so-predictable foulness in your direction after you invited them in.

(9) Today In History:

October 27, 1938 – Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre of the Air broadcasts its adaptation of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. Joe Bloch comments —

People have debated for decades just why the country was so willing to be fooled by the broadcast, and the question of whether or not Welles had an inkling of what would happen was never answered. It is certain that he denied it at a later Congressional hearing, but in subsequent interviews he answered the question rather coyly, implying that he might have known what could happen.

(10) Stop snickering about aliens, d’ye hear me? Astrophysics profession Adam Frank, co-founder of the 13.7 blog, says “Maybe It’s Time To Stop Snickering About Aliens”.

Boyajian and her co-authors considered a wide range of possibilities to explain the strange dips in the light coming from KIC 8462852. Nothing they dreamed up provided a really, really good explanation. And in the absence of that really, really good explanation, at least a few others have been thinking: “Aliens!” As Ross reports, Jason Wright of Penn State is already working on a paper suggesting we might be seeing a signature of extraterrestrial construction, a “swarm of mega-structures,” on a planetary system scale.

Now, at this point, I could start telling you about Dyson spheres and Kardashev Type II civilizations that engage in solar-system-spanning building projects (or even Vogon Constructor Fleets).

But I won’t.

That’s because the point today is not what KIC 8462852, in particular, might be telling us. The odds are high that a natural explanation will be found for the star’s flickering that has nothing to do with aliens.

Why take that stance? Well, aliens are always the last hypothesis you should consider. Occam’s razor tells scientists to always go for the simplest explanation for a new phenomenon. But even as we keep Mr. Occam’s razor in mind, there is something fundamentally new happening right now that all of us, including scientists, must begin considering.

Kepler and the many exoplanet-hunting missions coming next (JWST, PLATO, etc.) represent an entirely new way of watching the sky.

Telescope time has always been expensive — and there’s a lot of sky. In the past, astronomers didn’t have the technical capacity to continuously watch zillions of stars for long periods of time. The suns we astronomers did come back to again and again tended to be remarkable in one way or another (they flared or blew up periodically). But the exoplanet revolution means we’re developing capacities to stare deep into the light produced by hundreds of thousands of boring, ordinary stars. And these are exactly the kind of stars where life might form on orbiting planets.

(11) Tom Knighton says it’s only a “Supergirl Kinda-Review” but he covers a lot of ground as he fills in readers about last night’s series debut.

First, the casting was interesting, and I mean that in a good way.  Kara (aka Supergirl for those who don’t know) is, like her cousin, raised by human parents.  Her parents were played by…*drum roll please* Dean Caine of Lois and Clark and Helen Slater, the original live-action Supergirl.  Honestly, it make my inner geek giddy right there.

(12) All the other old-timers showed up in the latest Star Wars trailer. Where was Mark Hamill? The director has an answer — “J.J. Abrams addresses Luke’s absence from Star Wars trailers”

When asked what’s going with Luke’s lack of appearance in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailers, director J.J. Abrams stated it’s part of the plan.

“These are good questions to be asking. I can’t wait for you to find out the answer,” he said. The fact Luke is being kept away from the promotional materials is “no accident,” he continued.

It actually goes a bit deeper than that. There was a leaked image of Luke Skywalker wearing what seemed to be standard Jedi robes that made the rounds, but Disney went to work pulling as many copies of the image from the internet as possible, including Twitter embeds.

(13) Gail Z. Martin suggests “Five Reasons Why Authors Do Blog Tours (And Maybe You Should, Too)” at Magical Words.

What’s a blog tour and why should you consider doing one?

A blog tour provides the opportunity for an author to be featured in guest posts on a number of other blogs, thus gaining visibility to the readers on all those sites. Likewise, an author who has a blog can do a tour on his/her own site by featuring a number of other authors on the site in a given period of time.

Two crucial elements separate a ‘blog tour’ from merely being a guest for the day on someone else’s blog. First, a blog tour generally involves guesting on multiple blogs or hosting multiple guests on your blog. And secondly, the activity occurs within a pre-defined (and advance-promoted) time period—perhaps a week or a month. In fact, blog tours work best when the bloggers and the guests promote the upcoming post—much like when a celebrity promotes being interviewed on TV. The author gets visibility, and perhaps new readers. The blogger gets traffic and well as visibility—and perhaps some of those visitors will come back time and again.

(14) Harlan Ellison is among the contributors to Jewish Noir: Contemporary Tales of Crime and Other Dark Deeds, to be published November 1.

The stories explore such issues as the Holocaust and its long-term effects on subsequent generations, anti-Semitism in the mid- and late-20th-century United States, and the dark side of the Diaspora (e.g., the decline of revolutionary fervor, the passing of generations, the Golden Ghetto, etc.).

(15) And rather like Harlan Ellison, Wil Wheaton thinks the writer should get paid. His post “you can’t pay your rent with the ‘unique platform and reach our site provides’” tells why he told HuffPo to take a hike.

(16) Here’s somebody you don’t see at fan-run conventions every day… but he’ll be at Gallifrey One in 2016:

Sir John Hurt, who brought the ‘missing link’ in the Doctor’s past — the War Doctor, from the 50th anniversary special “The Day of the Doctor” — to life, will be headlining the 2016 Gallifrey One convention, in an appearance sponsored by Showmasters Events.

(17) Remember that how that old statue of Lenin in a Ukraine town was rededicated to Darth Vader the other day? Well, sounds like old Darth is up to no good – just check out this story: “Chewbacca Arrested During Ukraine Elections”

The Wookiee is handcuffed and detained after supporting Darth Vader’s bid to be elected as Mayor of Odessa.

Yes, my friends, there’s trouble in unpronounceable city!

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

A Note From Gallifrey One

I’m sitting in Program A at “The 26 Seasons of Gallifrey One” about to remedy my heroic ignorance of the Doctor Who universe by watching an interview of Torchwood’s Eve Myles, who has just emerged from the onstage Tardis.

Many will count themselves accursed they were not here…

I must also compliment the fellow in the audience about eight rows ahead who has costumed himself as a Dalek in quilted robes (that look like the shell), a plumber’s helper, and a round hat with two illuminated cylinders on top which may have started life as path lighting. This is my idea of a fun con.

Gallifrey 2015 Fully Booked

Every year I read about the San Diego Comic-Con selling out its passes as fast as people can get online – as it did again last week but with fewer complaints thanks to a new system capable of accommodating the vast demand.

However, I was surprised to discover Gallifrey One, the annual Doctor Who convention in Los Angeles, performed the same feat on Friday, selling all its memberships in 75 minutes.

While Gallifrey One reportedly has an attendance limit of 3,700 and Comic-Con hosts over 130,000 – I was impressed just the same.

People who can’t get in are asking if the committee plans to move to a bigger facility. The answer is

No.  Gallifrey One is a fan convention. Let’s explain how fan conventions work. Every human being involved in this convention is a volunteer – we do this on our spare time.  We are not paid employees.  We are fans just like you, with one minor difference… we got off our butts and put on a show 25 years ago, and never stopped. Doing this sort of thing takes personal money; tons of meetings; hours behind our computers on evenings & weekends; valuable vacation time away from work; making promises to dozens of guests in writing that require large sums of money (and losing sleep over it in the process; ask our program director who literally doesn’t sleep for six weeks prior to the convention each year!); and so forth. We do this not for money (we certainly don’t make any; we are a registered California 501(c)(3) non-profit organization) but for the love of the show only. We do not and cannot serve the entire Doctor Who fan community. Our convention is, simply put, at the maximum size it can be that allows our all-volunteer staff to run it every February without it adversely impacting our jobs, our lives, our families (at least, any more than it already does)… and we have ABSOLUTELY NO INTEREST in growing the convention beyond its current size.