Pixel Scroll 11/1/18 When You Gonna Give Me Some Time Scrollona

(1) SAME NAME, DIFFERENT GAME. At Strange Horizons, Abigail Nussbaum reviews Netflix’ “The Haunting of Hill House”.

…Netflix’s miniseries adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House, by Mike Flanagan (who wrote most of the series’s ten episodes and directed all of them), throws most of that out the window. It takes only a few scenes for a viewer familiar with the book to realize that the only similarity between it and this miniseries are a few character names, and the fact that they both revolve around a Hill House which is haunted. To a Jackson fan (most of whom are, after all, extremely defensive of her reputation) this initially seems like sacrilege. Why use the name if you’re not going to honor the actual work?

Flanagan’s Haunting never offers a persuasive answer to this question. What it does instead, almost as soon as the issue is raised, is counter with a genuinely excellent piece of horror filmmaking that makes you forget, at least for a while, its total lack of fidelity to its source….

(2) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman orders up an interview with Steve Rasnic Tem in Episode 80 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Steve Rasnic Tem

…I now ask that you join me for lunch at The Fish Market with Steve Rasnic Tem.

Tem has published more than 400 short stories, garnering multiple award nominations and wins, including a British Fantasy Award in 1988 for “Leaks,” a 2001 International Horror Guild Award for “City Fishing,” and a 2002 Bram Stoker Award for “In These Final Days of Sales.” His many collections include Fairytales, Celestial Inventory, The Far Side of the Lake, and others. Some of his poetry has been collected in The Hydrocephalic Ward, and he edited The Umbral Anthology of Science Fiction Poetry. His novel Blood Kin won the 2014 Bram Stoker Award. His collaborative novella with his late wife Melanie Tem, The Man On The Ceiling, won the World Fantasy, Bram Stoker, and International Horror Guild awards in 2001.

We discussed the importance of writing until you get to page eight, what he did the day after Harlan Ellison died, why even though he was a fearful kid he turned to horror, the thing which if I’d known about his marriage might have caused problems with my own, how crushed we both were when comics went up to 12 cents from a dime, why his all-time favorite short story is Franz Kafka’s “A Country Doctor,” how TV shows like “So You Think You Can Dance” had an effect on the way he writes action scenes, why he made an early pivot from science fiction to creating horror, the way joining Ed Bryant’s writing workshop taught him to become a writer, how math destroyed his intended science career, the reason it took him 48 years to take Ubo from initial idea to finished novel, why beginning writers should consciously read 1,000 short stories (and what they should do once they’re done), and much more

(3) THESE BOOKS DON’T MAKE THEMSELVES. Jeannette Ng has written a fabulous thread on the history of book production, urging writers to think about this when worldbuilding. Starts here.

(4) DAWN’S SUNSET. For the second time this week, a long-duration NASA mission has come to an end due to exhausting its fuel supply. RIP Kepler is now joined by RIP Dawn. (CNN: “NASA’s Dawn mission to strange places in our solar system ends”)

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has run out of fuel and dropped out of contact with mission control, the agency said Thursday.

This ends the spacecraft’s 11-year mission, which sent it on a 4.3 billion-mile journey to two of the largest objects in our solar system’s main asteroid belt. Dawn visited Vesta and Ceres, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit two deep-space destinations.

Dawn missed two communication sessions with NASA’s Deep Space Network the past two days, which means it has lost the ability to turn its antennae toward the Earth or its solar panels toward the sun. The end of the mission is not unexpected, as the spacecraft has been low on fuel for some time.

It’s the second historic NASA mission this week to run out of fuel and come to an end, as NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope did Tuesday.

(5) HOSTILE GALACTIC TAKEOVER. Today’s Nature shares “Evidence of ancient Milky Way merger”:

An analysis of data from the Gaia space observatory suggests that stars in the inner halo of the Milky Way originated in another galaxy.

This galaxy is thought to have collided with the Milky Way about ten billion years ago.

One conclusion on which all of the groups agree is that the event might have contributed to the formation of the Milky Way’s thick stellar disk. Astronomers have speculated for several decades that an ancient satellite galaxy merged with the Milky Way in the past, because such  an event could explain differences in the motions and chemical compositions of stars in the neighbourhood of the Sun.

Here’s a PDF of the item.

(6) SABRINA SHORTCOMINGS. Taylor Crumpton’s op-ed for Teen Vogue analyzes “How ‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ Failed Prudence Night”.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is not a reboot. Yes, the new Netflix show features the same characters as the cheery ‘90s sitcom, but it has been updated to reflect our darker, more malevolent times. The show also aims to be progressive, with storylines that speak to marginalized communities and a diverse cast of actors in almost every scene.

But despite great intentions, the show falls short in its portrayal of its black women characters, specifically with the character of Prudence Night (Tati Gabrielle), the head witch of the Academy of the Unseen Arts and leader of the Weird Sisters.

…The most troubling aspect of the conflict between Sabrina and Prudence occurs after “The Harrowing,” a pledging ritual that simulates the horrors experienced by the 13 witches during the Greendale Witch Trials. The last step in the ritual process mimics the hangings of the original witches by the mortals of Greendale; as Prudence leads Sabrina to the tree, Sabrina emphasizes the importance of the Academy as a safe space of community and inclusion for witches who have been subjected to violence by mortals for centuries. While in the tree, Sabrina calls upon the power of the dead witches and warlocks to effectively lynch Prudence and the Weird Sisters, and declares the end of “The Harrowing.”

The show did not issue a trigger warning for an image of a lynched Black woman in 2018; it comes on suddenly and in close-up view

(7) STATIONING GAS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The preprint paper “Securing Fuel for Our Frigid Cosmic Future” was discussed in a news story covering that article at Universe Today: “The Tools Humanity Will Need for Living in the Year 1 Trillion”

A preprint (that is, not yet peer-reviewed) paper from Harvard University’s chair of the astronomy department, Dr. Abraham Loeb, concludes in Securing Fuel for Our Frigid Cosmic Future that:

Advanced civilizations will likely migrate into rich clusters of galaxies, which host the largest reservoirs of matter bound by gravity against the accelerated cosmic expansion.

He opens with the question:

The accelerated expansion of the Universe pushes resources away from us at an ever- speed. Once the Universe will age by a factor of ten, all stars outside our Local Group of galaxies will not be accessible to us as they will be receding away faster than light. Is there something we can do to avoid this cosmic fate?

In his discussion, Loeb mentions various “cosmic engineering” projects that have been suggested and briefly examines their limitations. He then works his way around to suggesting an advanced civilization should move to a region with a high concentration of galaxies close together to provide a large fuel density, even as ones observable universe shrinks due to the accelerating expansion of the universe. He further notes that:

The added benefit of naturally-produced clusters is that they contain stars of all masses, much like a cosmic bag that collected everything from its environment. The most common stars weigh a tenth of the mass of the Sun, but are expected to shine for a thousand times longer because they burn their fuel at a slower rate. Hence, they could keep a civilization warm for up to ten trillion years into the future.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born November 1, 1897 — Dame Naomi Mitchison, Writer, Poet, and Activist from Scotland who lived to be over a hundred years old. Her genre writing includes the 1931 novel The Corn King and the Spring Queen, which contains open sexuality and is considered by contemporary genre editor Terri Windling to be “a lost classic”. Other genre works include Memoirs of a Spacewoman, which was nominated for a Retrospective Tiptree Award, Solution Three, and the Arthurian novel To the Chapel Perilous. As a good friend of J. R. R. Tolkien, she was a proofreader for The Lord of the Rings.
  • Born November 1, 1917 — Zenna Henderson, Writer whose first story was published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1951. She is best known for her more than 30 stories in The People universe about members of an alien race with special powers who are stranded on earth, which were published in magazines and later in collections, including The People: No Different Flesh, and the stitched-together Pilgrimage: The Book of the People. Her novelette “Captivity” was nominated for a Hugo Award, and her story “Pottage” was made into a movie starring William Shatner, The People, which was a Hugo finalist for Best Dramatic Presentation in 1973. “Hush” became an episode of George A. Romero’s Tales from the Darkside, which first aired in 1988.
  • Born November 1, 1923 — Dean A. “dag” Grennell, Writer, Editor, Firearms Expert, Conrunner, and Fan who edited numerous fanzines including La Banshee and Grue, which was produced sporadically from 1953 to 1979 and was a finalist for the Hugo Award in 1956. He published several short fiction works, and even dabbled in fanzine art. He ran a small U.S. gathering held the same weekend as the 1956 UK Natcon which was called the Eastercon-DAG, and another called Wiscon, which preceded the current convention of that name by more than twenty years. He is responsible for the long-running fannish joke “Crottled Greeps”.
  • Born November 1, 1923 — Gordon R. Dickson, Writer, Filker, and Fan who was truly one of the best writers of both science fiction and fantasy. It would require a skald to detail his stellar career in any detail. His first published speculative fiction was the short story “Trespass!”, written with Poul Anderson, in the Spring 1950 issue of Fantastic Stories. Childe Cycle, featuring the Dorsai, is his best known series, and the Hoka are certainly his and Poul Anderson’s silliest creation. I’m very fond of his Dragon Knight series, which I think reflects his interest in medieval history.  His works received a multitude of award nominations, and he won Hugo, Nebula, and British Fantasy Awards. In 1975, he was presented the Skylark Award for achievement in imaginative fiction. He was Guest of Honor at dozens of conventions, including the 1984 Worldcon, and he was named to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and the Filk Hall of Fame. The Dorsai Irregulars, an invitation-only fan volunteer security group named after his series, was formed at the 1974 Worldcon in response to the theft of some of Kelly Freas’ work the year before, and has provided security at conventions for the last 34 years.
  • Born November 1, 1941 — Robert Foxworth, 77, Actor whom you’ve most likely seen, if you’ve watched genre television or film. His first genre role was as Dr. Victor Frankenstein in the 1973 Frankenstein TV movie, followed by the lead role in Gene Roddenberry’s TV pilot The Questor Tapes, which never made it to series after NBC and The Great Bird of the Galaxy had a falling-out. He is well-known to Star Trek fans, having had roles in episodes of both Deep Space Nine and Enterprise, as well as Stargate SG-1, Babylon 5, seaQuest DSV, and The (new) Outer Limits. His genre movie roles have included Beyond the Stars, Damien: Omen II, Invisible Strangler, Prophecy, The Devil’s Daughter, and The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mines, and he provided the voice for the character Ratchet in the Transformers movie franchise.
  • Born November 1, 1944 — David Rorvik, 74, Writer and Journalist who published in 1978 the book In his Image: The Cloning of a Man, in which he claimed to have been part of a successful endeavor to create a clone of a human being. According to the book, at the behest of a mysterious wealthy businessman, he had formed a scientific team that was taken to a lab at a secret location, and after a few years of experimentation they managed to create a human ovum containing implanted DNA, which was brought to term by a surrogate mother and produced a living, cloned child. A British scientist whose doctoral work had been lifted for the theoretical basis outlined in In His Image sued for 7 million dollars, and after a judge ruled pre-trial that the book was a fraud, the publisher settled out-of-court for $100,000 plus an admission that the book was a hoax. No evidence for or against the cloning claim was ever produced, and the author to this day still denies that it was a hoax. (numerous conflicting sources list either 1944 or 1946 as his birth year)
  • Born November 1, 1959 — Susanna Clarke, 59, Writer from England whose alt-history Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell wins my award for the most footnoted work in genre literature. It won the Hugo, World Fantasy, Mythopoeic, and Locus Awards, was a finalist for Nebula, British Fantasy Society, British Science Fiction Association, and Premio Ignotus Awards, and was adapted into a 7-episode BBC series which was nominated for a Saturn Award. The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories collects her short works, and is splendid indeed; it was a finalist for the World Fantasy, Mythopoeic, and Prix Imaginaire Awards. Interestingly, she also has a novelette included in Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: Book of Dreams anthology.
  • Born November 1, 1972 — Toni Collette, 46, Tony-nominated Actor of Stage and Screen from Australia who received an Oscar nomination for her leading role in the supernatural film The Sixth Sense, and had roles in Hereditary, The Night Listener, Fright Night, Krampus, xXx: Return of Xander Cage, Tsunami: The Aftermath, and the upcoming Velvet Buzzsaw. She has provided voices for characters in the animated features The Boxtrolls, Blinky Bill the Movie, The Thief and the Cobbler, The Magic Pudding, and Mary and Max.
  • Born November 1, 1984 — Natalia Tena, 34, Actor from England who played Nymphadora Tonks in the Harry Potter film franchise and the wildling Osha in the Game of Thrones series. She also appeared in Black Mirror’s feature-length special White Christmas and the superhero comedy SuperBob, and had lead roles in the Residue miniseries and the short-lived Wisdom of The Crowd series. She has a recurring role on Origin, a series set on a spacecraft bound for another system which premieres on November 14.
  • Born November 1 — Jaym Gates, Writer, Editor, Game Designer, and Crisis Management Educator who is currently the acquisitions editor for Nisaba Press and Falstaff Books’ Broken Cities line. She also writes and designs role-playing games, fiction, comics, and nonfiction, and has been editor of numerous SFF anthologies, including JJ’s favorite Genius Loci. She has presented on the topic of crisis communication and community crisis response to groups including the 100 Year Starship and the Atlantic Council, and is a creative partner on an educational project which uses role-playing games, storytelling, and game theory to teach students about managing crisis. She was the SFWA Communication Director for five years and helped to run the Nebula weekends during that time, as well as fostering communications with NASA, DARPA, library and school systems, and public media. She will be a Special Guest at the OrcaCon tabletop gaming convention in January 2019.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) TITLE POLL. The Bookseller has opened public voting for this year’s “Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year”. Voting closes on November 16, and the winner will be announced November 23. The shortlist for year’s six oddest titles includes:

  • Are Gay Men More Accurate in Detecting Deceits? by Hoe-Chi Angel Au
  • Call of Nature: The Secret Life of Dung by Richard Jones
  • Equine Dry Needling by Cornelia Klarholz and Andrea Schachinger
  • Jesus on Gardening by David Muskett
  • Joy of Waterboiling by Christina Scheffenacker
  • Why Sell Tacos in Africa? by Paul Oberschneider

(11) PROPS TO YOU. An LAist reporter managed to get in the door at “The Amazing Santa Monica Prop Shop That’s Rarely Open”.

It’s difficult to define Jadis, because it wears multiple hats: it’s a movie prop house, a museum of pre-computer-era oddities, a cabinet of curiosities, and a retail store.

Oh, and it’s also infamous for almost never being open. Like, ever.

“I tell people, not being open all the time just increases the demand,” Jadis’s owner Susan Lieberman said. “You would take me for granted if I was open regular hours.”

When you walk inside Jadis, you might feel like you’ve found yourself inside a mad collector’s lab: giant interlocking gears, microscopes, cabinets filled with old postcards and eyeglasses, quack science devices from the turn of the century. And if you clap or talk too loudly, there’s a talking head that might yell at you: “My brain hurts. Why you look at me like that. WHYYY?!”

 

(12) NUKE AVOIDANCE. They say all knowledge is contained in…. I thought it was fanzines, but apparently it’s in James Davis Nicoll essays. Today he points out “13 Stories About Surviving a Nuclear War — At Least Briefly”.

Most people now living are too young to remember the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was a fun time when the Americans and the Russians (who at that time were not good buddies but rivals), toyed with seeing just how close they could come to World War Three without pressing the (metaphorical) button. For various reasons, not least of which was that the balance of power of power greatly favoured the United States and the Soviets apparently didn’t fancy atomic suicide for some reason, the stand-off stopped short of nuclear war.

(13) DEATH WHERE IS THY STING. Horror Writers Association President Lisa Morton was one of those asked to explain “How death disappeared from Halloween” for the Washington Post.

Sexy avocado costumes obscure the holiday’s historical roots and the role it once played in allowing people to engage with mortality. What was once a spiritual practice, like so much else, has become largely commercial. While there is nothing better than a baby dressed as a Gryffindor, Halloween is supposed to be about death, a subject Americans aren’t particularly good at addressing. And nowhere is that more evident than in the way we celebrate (or don’t celebrate) Halloween.

Halloween has its origins in the first millennium A.D. in the Celtic Irish holiday Samhain. According to Lisa Morton, author of “Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween,” Samhain was a New Year’s celebration held in the fall, a sort of seasonal acknowledgment of the annual change from a season of life to one of death. The Celts used Samhain celebrations to settle debts, thin their herds of livestock and appease the spirits: the kinds of preparations one might make if they are genuinely unsure whether they will survive the winter.

(14) MARVELMAN. Corporate and legal shenanigans enliven Pádraig Ó Méalóid’s new history Poisoned Chalice.

The comic character Marvelman (and Miracleman) has a fascinating – and probably unique – history in the field of comics. His extended origin goes all the way back to the very beginnings of the American superhero comics industry, and it seems likely that his ongoing story will stretch on well into the future. It involves some of the biggest names in comics. It’s a story of good versus evil, of heroes and villains, and of any number of acts of plagiarism and casual breaches of copyright. Poisoned Chalice wades into one of the strangest and thorniest knots of all of comics: the history of Marvel/Miracleman and still unsolved question of who owns this character. It’s a story that touches on many of the most remarkable personalities in the comics industry—Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Todd McFarlane, Joe Quesada and more—and one of the most fascinating in the medium. The story of Marvelman touches on the darker places of comics history, springing from the prehistory where greed ruled the day; it’s a complex tale that others have attempted to untangle, but there has never been as thorough or as meticulous a study of it as this book.

(15) ELEGANT SOLUTION. Greg Egan and fans of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya contribute to mathematics: “An anonymous 4chan post could help solve a 25-year-old math mystery”.

…An anonymous poster figured out one possible way to solve to the 4chan problem, satisfying the more mathematically inclined Haruhi fans. But in the process, they also helped puzzle out an issue that mathematicians have been working on since 1993. The anonymously authored proof (which was recently reposted on a Fandom wiki) is currently the most elegant solution to part of a mathematical problem involving something called superpermutations. It’s an enigma that goes well beyond anime….

… The 4chan proof outlines how to find the smallest possible number of episodes for the solution. But that doesn’t fully solve the problem. An even bigger breakthrough came earlier this month when sci-fi author and mathematician Greg Egan wrote up a proof that outlined how to find the largest possible number for any given superpermutation problem….

(16) THERE WILL BE (WATER) WAR. Gizmodo take’s a look at a new report that looks at potential areas of conflict over water could arise as climate change continues (“Here’s Where the Post-Apocalyptic Water Wars Will Be Fought”). They couldn’t resist the genre allusions.

A United Nations report published last week said we have about a decade to get climate change under control, which—let’s be honest—isn’t likely to happen. So break out your goalie masks and harpoon guns, a Mad Max future awaits! Now, as new research points out, we even know where on Earth the inevitable water wars are most likely to take place.

Sarcasm aside, this report is actually quite serious.

Published today in Global Environmental Change, the paper identifies several hotspots around the globe where “hydro-political issues,” in the parlance of the researchers, are likely to give rise to geopolitical tensions, and possibly even conflict. The authors of the new report, a team from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), say the escalating effects of climate change, in conjunction with ongoing trends in population growth, could trigger regional instability and social unrest in regions where freshwater is scarce, and where bordering nations have to manage and share this increasingly scarce commodity.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Big Data–L1ZY” on Vimeo shows what happens when a virtual assistant becomes an evil robot overlord!

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Andrew, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 10/31/18 Niels Pixel’s Underground Scrolls

(1) REALLY AND SINCERELY DEAD. [Item by Bill.] Harry Houdini died 92 years ago today:

The Official Houdini Seance will be held this year in Baltimore at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. The event will feature talks by Houdini experts and performances by magicians. The museum is currently home to the exhibition Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini. Note: This event is SOLD OUT.

Although his fame was based on his magic and escapes, he was genre-adjacent:

  • His movie serial Master Mystery (1919) featured Q the Mechanical Man, one of the first robots on film.

  • In his film The Man from Beyond (1922), he plays a man frozen in ice in 1820 and revived in 1922.

  • He had a couple of pieces of fiction published in Weird Tales (ghost-written by H. P. Lovecraft).

(2) WEAR YOUR HALLOWEEN COSTUME TO WORK. This won the Internet today:

(3) CANDY CONVERTER. Here’s what you all are going to be looking for later tonight – from Adweek, “Reese’s Halloween Vending Machine Lets You Exchange Trash Candy for the Good Stuff”.

According to the Food Network, the machines had their maiden voyage on October 27 in Tarrytown, New York, birthplace of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, at the town’s big annual Halloween parade. And on Halloween, October 31, Reese’s will set up a Candy Exchange Vending Machine in New York City, so New Yorkers can ditch whatever candy they’re not that into for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

(4) SERIOUS SCIENTIFIC CANDY TALK. From LAist, “LAist’s Ultra Scientific Halloween Candy Ranker Proves Reese’s Is The Best Candy Bar Ever”.

(5) BLACK PANTHER ON HALLOWEEN. Michael Cavna and David Betancourt in the Washington Post ask if it’s all right for white kids to dress as characters from Black Panther for Halloween, with many white parents bothered by this but African-Americans such as director Reg Hudlin and Black Panther costume director Ruth E. Carter told him, “Yes, any kid can wear a Black Panther costume, say creators who helped shape the character”.

SINCE FEBRUARY, when Disney/Marvel’s smash “Black Panther” first captured not only audience attention but also the cultural zeitgeist, reporters have been asking the question: Which kids are permitted to don the superhero costume from the fictional African nation of Wakanda?

Or as Joshua David Stein wondered in a column at the time for Fatherly: “Should I allow my white son to dress as a black superhero?”

Jen Juneau wrote on People.com this month: “Parents of white children may want to think twice before purchasing a Black Panther Halloween costume this year.” And Steph Montgomery, writing this month for the online publication Romper, said: “I don’t think it’s appropriate for my white children to dress up as main characters T’Challa and Shuri, or the members of Dora Milaje — the badass women special forces of Wakanda.

…But in interviews with The Washington Post, several creators who have helped shape the Black Panther character, along with other prominent authors who have written characters of color, are adamant: Any kid can dress as Black Panther.

“The idea that only black kids would wear Black Panther costumes is insane to me,” said Reg Hudlin, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker who has worked on Wakanda-set projects for both the page and screen, including the animated TV miniseries “Black Panther.” “Why would anyone say that?”

…Ruth E. Carter, the Oscar-nominated costume designer (“Malcolm X,” “Amistad”), created the beautifully intricate attire for Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther,” drawing inspiration from not only the comics but also from real-world designs in Africa.

She says the point in creating such Afrofuturistic art is to build not barriers but, rather, cultural bridges — and so fans should embrace that the world of Black Panther is “taking its royal place in the vast Comic-Con and cosplayer universe.”

So why are people posing this question over T’Challa now, Carter says rhetorically.

“The only reason we’re asking that question now is because the Black Panther is a black man. And I think that’s what’s wrong with people — that’s what’s wrong with parents,” Carter said. “Because I see kids far and wide embracing the concept of a superhero. I believe they see him as someone who is majestic and powerful and doing good, and has a kingdom and a legacy and is pretty cool. I don’t think they see a black guy — I think they see the image of a superhero,” she added, and “it happens to be the Black Panther just as it happens to be Superman.”

(6) FUTURE TENSE. Each month in 2018, Future Tense Fiction—a series of short stories from Future Tense and ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives— is publishing a story on a theme.

This month’s entry in the Future Tense Fiction series is: “Burned-Over Territory” by Lee Konstantinou.

I’m halfway through a plate of soggy risotto, giving my opinion about the Project Approval Framework, when my phone buzzes. I thought I’d muted notifications. I’m tempted to check the alert, but 30 faces are watching me, all Members, some from Zardoz House, the rest from other Houses around Rochester. We’re at a table made from reclaimed wood, which is covered with food and drink. It’s freezing. Everyone’s wearing sweaters, hats, coats, scarves, mittens; I’m in a blue blazer over a T-shirt, jeans, and leather boots. My hair is buzzed into a crew cut, and even though it makes me feel like an ass clown, I’m wearing makeup….

It was published along with a response essay, “What Problem Is Universal Basic Income Really Trying to Solve?”, by UBI advocate Sebastian Johnson.

…Many policy advocates and technologists have promoted universal basic income, or UBI, as one way to cope with the specter of joblessness wrought by advances in artificial intelligence. UBI would provide each individual with a no-strings-attached payment each month to cover basic needs and prevent individuals from falling below the poverty line. The benefits of UBI, according to proponents, would include the elimination of poverty, the fairer distribution of technologically generated wealth, and human flourishing. Critics are less sanguine, variously seeing in UBI a Trojan horse for dismantling the welfare state, an ill-considered policy that will sap humans of the self-actualization and pride derived from work, and a wholly inadequate response to the structural problems with late capitalism….

(7) WATCH THE WATCH. Deadline reports “Terry Pratchett’s ‘Discworld’ Adaptation ‘The Watch’ Lands At BBC America”.

The U.S. cable network describes the show as a “punk rock thriller” inspired by the City Watch subset of Discworld novels. The character-driven series centers on Terry Pratchett’s misfit cops as they fight to save a ramshackle city of normalized wrongness, from both the past and future in a perilous quest.

The Watch features many Discworld creations including City Watch Captain Sam Vimes, the last scion of nobility Lady Sybil Ramkin, the naïve but heroic Carrot Ironfoundersson, the mysterious Angua and the ingenious forensics expert Cheri together with Terry Pratchett’s iconic characterization of Death…

(8) KEPLER OBIT. Phys.org bids farewell to an exoplanet pioneer: “Kepler telescope dead after finding thousands of worlds”.

NASA’s elite planet-hunting spacecraft has been declared dead, just a few months shy of its 10th anniversary.

Officials announced the Kepler Space Telescope’s demise Tuesday.

Already well past its expected lifetime, the 9 1/2-year-old Kepler had been running low on fuel for months. Its ability to point at distant stars and identify possible alien worlds worsened dramatically at the beginning of October, but flight controllers still managed to retrieve its latest observations. The telescope has now gone silent, its fuel tank empty.

“Kepler opened the gate for mankind’s exploration of the cosmos,” said retired NASA scientist William Borucki, who led the original Kepler science team.

Kepler discovered 2,681 planets outside our solar system and even more potential candidates.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

They were out there on Halloween 1936 to try what few people at the time had tried: lighting a liquid rocket engine. It took them four attempts to get a rocket to fire for a glorious three seconds — though an oxygen hose also broke loose and sent them scampering for safety as it thrashed around.

  • October 31, 1962The First Spaceship On Venus premiered at your local drive-in.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 31, 1923 – Art Saha, Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Member of First Fandom who is credited with coining the term “Trekkies”. After becoming an editor at DAW books, he edited 8 volumes of The Year’s Best Fantasy, and, with Donald Wollheim, 19 volumes of The Annual World’s Best SF. He also edited the souvenir program book for the 1977 Worldcon and was a co-editor of the fanzine Parnassus. He was president of First Fandom and the NY Science Fiction Society (the Lunarians), chaired a number of Lunacons, and was named to the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 1992.
  • Born October 31, 1930 – Michael Collins, 88, Astronaut and Test Pilot who was the Command Module pilot for Apollo 11 while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended to become the first astronauts on the moon. He later served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, then went on to be director of the National Air and Space Museum, before becoming undersecretary of the Smithsonian Institution.
  • Born October 31, 1937 – Jael, 81, Artist, Illustrator, and Fan whose work has appeared in books, magazines, and calendars. She became interested in producing speculative art after attending a symposium on contact with aliens and meeting writers C J Cherryh, Larry Niven, and Jerry Pournelle. In her 50-year career, she has created more than 38,000 paintings and images, many of which are housed in public and private collections. She has received eight Chesley Award nominations, and has been Guest of Honor at numerous conventions.
  • October 31, 1941 – Dan Alderson, Rocket Scientist and Fan who worked for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he wrote the navigation software for Voyagers 1 and 2, as well as trajectory monitoring software for low-thrust craft which was used for decades. He was a member of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, an Official Editor of the comic book APA CAPA-alpha, and an early member of gaming fandom. He died of complications of diabetes at the far-too-young age of 47, but has been immortalized as “Dan Forrester” in Niven and Pournelle’s Lucifer’s Hammer.
  • Born October 31, 1950 – John Franklin Candy, Actor and Comedian from Canada best known in genre circles for playing Barf in Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs, as well as appearing in Frank Oz’s Little Shop of Horrors, Splash, Heavy Metal, Boris and Natasha, and the hilarious alt-history Canadian Bacon (one of JJ’s favorites). He was the narrator of “Blumpoe the Grumpoe Meets Arnold the Cat/Millions of Cats” for Shelley Duvall’s Bedtime Stories. His talents were lost to the world far too early when he passed away in his sleep at the age of 43.
  • Born October 31, 1959 – Neal Stephenson, 59, Writer and Game Designer who is well known for doorstopper-length, award-nominated science fiction novels, including The Diamond Age, Cryptonomicon, Anathem, the Baroque Cycle trilogy, Snow Crash, and the hotly-debated Seveneves. His works have been translated into numerous languages and have won Hugo, Clarke, Prometheus, Premio Ignotus, Kurd Laßwitz, and Prix Imaginaire Awards. This year he was recognized with the Robert A. Heinlein Award, which recognizes authors who produce exceptional works promoting space exploration.
  • Born October 31, 1961 – Peter Jackson, 57, Writer, Director, and Producer from New Zealand whose most famous genre works are the spectacular Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, as well as The Frighteners, King Kong, The Lovely Bones, and the upcoming Mortal Engines. His use of the NZ-based Weta Workshop for his films has helped turn that firm into a computer graphics and special-effects powerhouse now known for their work on many Hollywood blockbusters.
  • Born October 31, 1982 – Justin Chatwin, 36, Actor from Canada who was the principal guest star in the rather delightful 2016 Doctor Who Christmas special “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”. He’s also been in War of The Worlds, Dragonball Evolution, and The Invisible; had recurring roles in the Orphan Black and American Gothic series; and appeared in episodes of The Listener, Lost, Smallville, Mysterious Ways, and Night Visions.
  • Born October 31, 1979 – Erica Cerra, 39, Actor from Canada who is best known for her portrayal of Deputy Jo Lupo on the Eureka series, but has extensive genre credentials which include recurring roles on Battlestar Galactica and The 100, and guest parts in episodes of Supernatural, The 4400, Smallville, The Dead Zone, Warehouse 13, iZombie, Reaper, Dead Like Me, Special Unit 2, and Sanctuary. You get to guess how many were filmed in Vancouver, BC…
  • Born October 31, 1994 – Letitia Michelle Wright, 24, Guyanese-born British Actor who, in just 8 short years, has built a substantial genre resume including a recurring role in the TV series Humans and guest parts in the Doctor Who episode “Face the Raven” and the Black Mirror episode “Black Museum”, for which she received an Emmy Award nomination. Her genre film credits include a Saturn-nominated role as Shuri in Black Panther (a character which will be the subject of a new comic book series by Hugo winner Nnedi Okorafor), Ready Player One, Avengers: Infinity War, and the upgoming Avengers sequel.

(11) WIMPY BOOK TOUR. Christina Barron in the Washington Post says that Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney, rather than a traditional book tour, is having “Wimpy Kid Live: The Meltdown Show,” with “costumes, cartooning, and the chance to stump the author on Wimpy Kid trivia: “Jeff Kinney puts on a show to launch new ‘Wimpy Kid’ book”.

Considering “The Meltdown” is Number 13 in the series, you might expect Kinney’s next book to be “Diary of a Weary Writer.” But instead of slowing down, the author is changing up what he does when he meets his many fans. He’s doing a few typical talks and book signings, but Kinney is also putting on a show.

“We thought it would be really fun to change the idea of what a book signing is,” Kinney said in a recent phone conversation.

(12) AGITPROP. The Hollywood Reporter takes note when a “’Rehire James Gunn’ Billboard Appears Near Disneyland”:

On Monday, a digital billboard popped up in Garden Grove, California, at an intersection just over four miles away from Disneyland in Anaheim. The billboard, which reads “Save the Galaxy: James Gunn for Vol. 3,” was paid for via a GoFundMe campaign that has raised nearly $5,000 since launching last month. The campaign sprang from the minds of a group of fans who organized online soon after Disney fired Gunn as director of Guardians 3 on July 20, after conservative personalities resurfaced old tweets in which the filmmaker joked about rape and pedophilia.

(13) SUMMER SCARES. The Horror Writers Association announced its “Summer Scares Reading Program”.

The Horror Writers Association (HWA), in partnership with United for Libraries, Book Riot, and Library Journal/School Library Journal, has launched a reading program that provides libraries and schools with an annual list of recommended horror titles for adult, young adult (teen), and middle grade readers. The goal is to introduce new authors and help librarians start conversations with readers that will extend beyond the books from each list and promote reading for years to come.

Each year, a special guest author and a committee of four librarians will select 3 recommended fiction titles in each of 3 reading levels (Middle Grade, Teen, and Adult), for a total of 9 Summer Scares selections. The goal of the program is to encourage a national conversation about the entire horror genre, across all age levels, at libraries all over the country and ultimately get more adults, teens, and children interested in reading. Official Summer Scares designated authors will also be available to appear, either virtually or in person, at public and school libraries all over the country, for free.

The committee’s final selections will be announced on February 14— National Library Lover’s Day. Some or all of the authors of those titles will appear on kickoff panels during Librarian’s Day at StokerCon each year.

(14) CIXIN LIU ADAPTATION. At The Verge, Weekend Editor Andrew Liptak seems to be taken with the teaser trailer for the Chinese film The Wandering Earth, an adaptation of a Cixin Liu story. (“The Wandering Earth could be China’s breakout sci-fi blockbuster film”) The movie appears to be the first in a proposed six-film franchise.

China isn’t typically known for its science fiction blockbusters, but a new trailer for an upcoming film called The Wandering Earth has all the hallmarks of a big, Hollywood-style genre movie: it features a dramatic story of the Earth in peril, complete with eye-popping scenes of spaceships escaping Earth.

The Wandering Earth is based on a story by Cixin Liu, the author best known for The Three-Body Problem, and, more recently, Ball Lightning. In the original story, scientists discovered that the sun is on the verge of turning into a red giant, and when it does, it’ll expand beyond the orbit of Mars, incinerating all of the solar system’s potentially habitable planets. They concoct a desperate plan to move Earth out of the solar system to a new star, Proxima Centauri.

 

(15) NOT GOING AT NIGHT. Popular Science raised a cheer because “NASA’s Parker Solar Probe just smashed two all-time records on its way to the sun”. The Parker Solar Probe has broken records as the fastest moving manmade object (relative to the Sun) and the closest manmade object to the Sun. Over a series of orbits, the perihelion will get progressively closer to the Sun, until the PSP dips into the solar corona.

The corona paradoxically burns millions of degrees hotter than the surface of the star itself, despite extending millions of miles into space. NASA expects that Parker will directly sample this unexplored zone on its 22nd orbit, which will take place in about six years.

Until then it will continue to best its own speed and closest approach records, which McDowell says is a fitting update to the largely overlooked legacy of Helios 1 and 2. “The great 1970s space probes, the really ambitious ones, there were three pairs: Viking, Voyager, and Helios. You’ve heard of Viking and Voyager, but you’ve never heard of Helios,” [astrophysicist Jonathon] McDowell says. Its measurements of the solar wind and magnetic field didn’t capture the public’s imagination in the same way as its camera-bearing cousins did, he suggests, but its speed record stood for nearly 42 years nonetheless.

(16) THE OLD EQUATIONS. Geek Tyrant can’t wait: “Anna Kendrick Heads To Mars in a New Sci-Fi Film Called STOWAWAY”.

Anna Kendrick is set to star in a new sci-fi thriller from XYZ Films called Stowaway. We’ve never really seen Kendrick in a sci-fi film before, so it’s cool to see her try something new.

Stowaway follows “the crew of a spaceship headed to Mars that discovers an accidental stowaway shortly after takeoff. Too far from Earth to turn back and with resources quickly dwindling, the ship’s medical researcher (Kendrick) emerges as the only dissenting voice against the group consensus that has already decided in favor of a grim outcome.”

(17) WOMEN OF THE GALAXY. A new book shows off badass female characters from the Star Wars universe (Polygon: “New art showcases the badassest women in the Star Wars universe”). The hardcover is a 30 October release from Chronicle Books and features a foreword by producer Kathleen Kennedy. It lists for $29.95.

Women of the Galaxy, a new art book examining female characters from every corner of the Star Wars universe, is exactly the kind of thing I would have read cover to cover twice in one sitting if you’d given it to me when I was nine.

From Jedi Master Aayla Secura to bounty hunter Zam Wesell, each alphabetical entry features art from a group of 18 women illustrators, as well as an explanation of the character’s history from Nerdist and StarWars.com writer Amy Ratcliffe. And with more than 70 characters in the book, there’s bound to be someone in here you’ve never heard of, but wish you had.

(18) DINO SUIT. Here’s our chance to test who are the most ferocious predators, Jurassic Park dinos or Hollywood lawyers: “‘Jurassic World’ Campaign to “Save the Dinos” Sparks $10M Lawsuit”

The Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom campaign to “Save the Dinos” has sparked a $10 million trademark infringement and breach of contract lawsuit against producers.

Frederick Zaccheo of The Dinosaur Project claims filmmakers breached their contract with him by using the slogan on merchandise.

According to the complaint filed Tuesday in New York federal court, lawyers for Universal and Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment contacted Zaccheo requesting his consent to use his trademarked phrase. They paid him $50,000 for the right to use it in advertising for the film and promised not to use it in connection with clothing or to promote any charity, specifically animal rights, endangered species and environmental causes. They also agreed that the slogan must always be used with Jurassic Park franchise branding.

“In the months leading up to the release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Defendants launched a multi-faceted advertising and marketing campaign centered around the theme of saving the fictional dinosaurs on the fictional island from the fictional volcano,” writes attorney Hillel Parness in the complaint. “To that end, Defendants created the ‘Dinosaur Protection Group,’ a fictional organization run by the character of Claire Dearing from the first Jurassic World film and portrayed by Bryce Dallas Howard.”

The campaign included a Dinosaur Protection Group website and social media sites and featured an Adopt-A-Dinosaur contest which offered Save the Dinos merchandise as prizes. (See the complaint below for screenshots.)

(19) ORLY? Camestros Felapton was surprised to hear the founder of Infogalactic touting it as a success: “Voxopedia Again”.

…What had caught my interest was that much of the content was actually about Voxopedia, the vanity Wikipedia project that’s just like Wikipedia but out of date and with nonsense attached. I was curious because manifestly as a project it has failed and clearly at some point it will be abandoned. I had assumed that it had already slipped into a zone of lack-of-interest as newer, shinier projects competed for attention*. But it seems not. rather Vox was holding up Voxopedia as a shining example of how he has all the experience he needs to run a social network.

Now note, currently Voxopedia has about 6-10 active editors or whom only two really are doing any work, two of whom are just feuding conspiracy theories maintaining their own separate (and incompatible) conspiracy pages, one of whom is engaged  in a personal campaign to document all things about Englebert Humperdinck (and nothing else) and one of whom is doing nothing but write hate pieces about transgender people….

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Halloween: John Locke vs. The Zombies” on YouTube, American Enterprise Institute fellow Jonah Goldberg explains why political philosopher John Locke would support killing zombies during a zombie apocalypse.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/29/18 Pixel Was The Doctor. The Croll’s Name Was Pixel’s Croll

(1) THE ORVILLE RETURNING. The second season of The Orville premieres December 30 on Fox.

THE ORVILLE is a live-action, one-hour space adventure series set 400 years in the future that follows The Orville, a mid-level exploratory spaceship. Its crew, both human and alien, face the wonders and dangers of outer space, while also dealing with the familiar, often humorous problems of everyday life.

 

(2) ABOUT TIME. TV Line says the farewell episode of Timeless will air on December 20: “Timeless Series Finale Gets Air Date, EPs Promise ‘Unforgettable Thrill Ride Through Past, Present and Future'”.

NBC is giving Timeless fans an early Christmas gift: The cancelled drama’s two-hour series finale will air on Thursday, Dec. 20 at 8/7, the network announced on Friday.

According to the press release, executive producers Eric Kripke, Shawn Ryan and Arika Lisanne Mittman are “promising fans an epic, unforgettable thrill ride through the past, present and future, with a healthy dose of Christmas spirit. Spread across three centuries and two continents, the finale will test Lucy, Wyatt and the entire Time Team like never before as they try to #SaveRufus, preserve history and put a stop to Rittenhouse once and for all.”

Returning cast members include Abigail Spencer, Matt Lanter, Malcolm Barrett, Goran Višnji?, Paterson Joseph, Sakina Jaffrey and Claudia Doumit

(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Leanna Renee Hieber and Cat Rambo on November 21:

  • Leanna Renee Hieber

Leanna Renee Hieber is an award-winning author, actress and playwright who has written twelve Gothic, ghostly Gaslamp Fantasy novels for Tor and Kensington Books such as the Strangely Beautiful series, The Eterna Files, the Magic Most Foul trilogy and The Spectral City series. Her work has been featured in many notable anthologies and translated into many languages. A veteran of stage and screen, Leanna works as a Manhattan ghost tour guide for Boroughs of the Dead. http://leannareneehieber.com

  • Cat Rambo

Cat Rambo is the author of two novels, the most recent of which is Hearts of Tabat, five collections, 200+ stories, several non-fiction works, and co-editor of one cookbook. A Nebula Award, World Fantasy Award, and Endeavour Award nominee, she is also a two-term President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and runs online school The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers.

Things begin Wednesday, November 21st, 2018, 7 p.m. at KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.) New York, NY.

(4) VAMPIRE RESEARCH. Bram Stoker marked up library books but these librarians aren’t upset. The Bookseller has the story — “London Library finds Bram Stoker’s source books”.

The London Library says it has located a number of the actual books used by Bram Stoker in researching his novel Dracula.

Stoker’s own notebooks list a wide range of the author’s sources for Dracula, including hundreds of references to individual lines and phrases in books that he considered relevant. A recent trawl of the London Library’s bookshelves has revealed that the Library has original copies of 26 of these books, and many of them carry detailed markings that closely match Stoker’s notebook references – whether crosses and underlinings against relevant paragraphs, or page turnings on key pages, or other notations – and which the library believes were made by Stoker himself.

…Philip Spedding, the library’s development director, and the man who uncovered the books’ annotations, commented: “Bram Stoker was a member of The London Library but until now we have had no indication whether or how he used our collection. Today’s discovery changes that and we can establish beyond reasonable doubt that numerous books still on our shelves are the very copies that he was using to help write and research his masterpiece.”

(5) HOW TO AMEND THE LAWS OF NATURE. Steven Sottong tells SFWA Blog readers why this job is not that bleepin’ easy in “Suspension of Disbelief”.

I’d even gotten as far as figuring out about gravity. If you accelerate at 1G for the first half of the voyage, turn the ship around and decelerate at 1G for the last half, you always have gravity and it’s always in the same direction. But if you stop accelerating at some point in the voyage, you end up with zero G which is highly disruptive. So if I can’t accelerate and decelerate the entire voyage, then all or part of the ship must spin to create an artificial gravity with centripetal force. Unfortunately, the direction of the artificial gravity is at right angles to the direction of acceleration, so you have to rotate all of the living quarters of the ship to keep the floor where floors normally go — a major pain. Additionally, I found out at a presentation at the 2018 WorldCon that centripetal force doesn’t behave like natural gravity, meaning I needed to adjust many of the scenes in the story.

(6) MYTHCON 50 GOHS. These are your guests of honor for Mythcon 50 in San Diego:

  • John Crowley will be our Author GOH (“Little, Big” – won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award in 1982; “KA: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr” – won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award this past summer, 2018).
  • Verlyn Flieger will be our Scholar GOH (“A Question of Time: J. R. R. Tolkien’s Road to Faerie”, “Tolkien’s Legendarium: Essays on The History of Middle-earth”, and “Green Suns and Faërie: Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien” – all winners of the Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Inklings Studies – in 1998, 2005, and 2013).

(7) THRILLING TSUNDOKU TALES. By O. Westin —

(8) WHO COMIC BEGINS. Titan Comics’ Thirteenth Doctor comic series debuts November 7.

Taking control of the TARDIS for this regeneration is an amazing new team: Eisner-nominated writer Jody Houser (Stranger Things, Mother Panic, Faith, Spider-Man), illustrator Rachael Stott (Doctor Who, Motherlands), and colorist Enrica Angiolini (Warhammer 40,000).

(9) SCIENCE FICTION/DOUBLE FEATURE: Jason got caught in a bit of a time warp over at Featured Futures and only recently finished Summation: September 2018 with its lists of reviews and recommended readings:

Apologies for taking so long to finish what I read for this month. I ended up reading 90 stories of about 533K words. That netted fourteen noted stories (four recs), with Lightspeed’s special issue, Asimov’s, Analog, and Galaxy’s Edge contributing multiple tales.

But you don’t have to shiver with antici… pation for Summation: October 2018 as it’s been completed on time:

October was fairly light in both total and noted stories. Counting a couple of late September stories in the month’s first Wrap-Up, there were 37 of the former, weighing in at about 207K words, and a half-dozen of the latter at about 41K (with two recommendations of 7K). Somewhat unusually, Nature and CRES produced the recommended tales, with a science fantasy from Lightspeed and a trio of BCS fantasies from one of its anniversary issues getting the honorable mentions

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 29, 1906 – Fredric Brown, Writer who produced a handful of novels and a prodigious number of short works which have been translated into more than a dozen different languages, and are known for their use of humor and for the mastery of the “short-short” form. One of his stories, “Arena”, was the basis for an episode of the original Star Trek series. Four of his stories have been finalists for Retro Hugo Awards, and a collection of his stories translated into Spanish won a Premio Ignotus. He has been credited as an influence for a wide range of well-known SFF authors, from Philip K. Dick and Robert A. Heinlein to Neil Gaiman and Stephen King. In 2012 he was the recipient of the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award. History records that he was an SJW with a Siamese cat named Ming Tah.
  • Born October 29, 1935 – Sheila Finch, 83, Writer and Linguist from England who emigrated to the U.S. in her early 20s. She won the Compton Crook Award for her first novel, Infinity’s Web. She is best known for her Guild of Xenolinguists series; one of its novellas, Reading the Bones, won a Nebula Award, and she is credited with coining the term “xenolinguist”, a title used for Uhura in the Star Trek reboot movies. She served as Vice-President of SFWA and Chair of their Grievance Committee for five years, is a founding member of the Asilomar Writers Consortium, and has been Guest of Honor at several conventions, including a Balticon.
  • Born October 29, 1938 – Ralph Bakshi, 80, Animator, Writer, and Director from Israel who started as a low-level animator at Terrytoons, studio of characters such as Heckle and Jeckle and Mighty Mouse. His first major break was as creative director for CBS on Mighty Mouse and the Mighty Heroes, fast-forwarding to Fritz the Cat (which may or may not be genre, but it’s got a talking cat). Genrewise, I’d say he’s most noted for the Hugo finalist Wizards which features voice work by Mark Hamill and for which the name was changed from War Wizards, so that it wouldn’t be confused with you-know-what film. Next up was the Hugo-nominated The Lord of the Rings, a very odd affair, followed by by Fire and Ice, a collaboration with Hugo-winning artists Frank Frazetta. Then came what I considered his finest work, the Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures series! He created the animated series Spicy City, which was SF noir with lots of sex and violence, and got cancelled after six episodes. Then there’s Cool World… His career work was recognized with an Annie Award for Distinguished Contribution to the Art of Animation.
  • Born October 29, 1941 – Hal W. Hall, 77, Librarian, Writer and Member of First Fandom who is best known for his nonfiction bibliographies and indexes of genre works. His Science Fiction and Fantasy Reference Index, 1985-1991 was computerized in 2000 and put online as the Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Database; it currently indexes more than 113,000 items about SF and fantasy. His work has been recognized with the Science Fiction Research Association’s Pilgrim Award and their Thomas D. Clareson Award, First Fandom’s Sam Moskowitz Archive Award, and the J. Lloyd Eaton Memorial Award, given by the UC-Riverside Eaton Collection’s foundation to honor contributions of lasting significance to the field.
  • Born October 29, 1954 – Paul Di Filippo, 64, Writer and Critic. Ciphers: A Post-Shannon Rock-n-Roll Mystery was his first work. He is, I’d say, an acquired taste. I like him; for first-time readers, I’d suggest The Steampunk Trilogy and go from there. His A Year in the Linear City was a finalist for Hugo Award for Best Novella, a World Fantasy Award, and the Sturgeon Award. He’s one of genre’s stellar reviewers, having reviewed at one time or another for Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Science Fiction Eye, The New York Review of Science Fiction, Interzone, Nova Express, and Science Fiction Weekly. His work has received numerous nominations for BSFA, Nebula, World Fantasy, Philip K. Dick, Tiptree, Sidewise, and Premio Ignotus Awards, and he has won a British Science Fiction Award and the Prix Imaginaire.
  • Born October 29, 1967 – Rufus Sewell, 51, Actor from England who is currently appearing as Reichsmarschall John Smith in The Man in The High Castle, which is loosely based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Philip K. Dick. He was the lead in Dark City, a film which is often compared to the Matrix films, but which actually preceded them. He’s also appeared in The Legend of Zorro, Arabian Nights, Hercules, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, A Knight’s Tale, Mermaid Chronicles, The Illusionist, and the U.S. version of the TV series Eleventh Hour.
  • Born October 29, 1969 – Jason Chong, 49, Actor from Australia whose first genre appearance was in an episode of Time Trax; he has gone on to roles in the films See No Evil, The Forbidden Kingdom, The Pact, Guardians of the Tomb, Little Monsters, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and episodes of Farscape, The Lost World, Terra Nova, Marco Polo, Wolf Creek, and Bite Club.
  • Born October 29, 1971 – Winona Ryder, 47, Actor who has a long history in the genre starting with Beetlejuice, but also including Saturn-nominated roles in Edward Scissorhands, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Alien: Resurrection, and the Hugo-nominated TV series Stranger Things, as well as parts in S1m0ne, A Scanner Darkly, Being John Malkovich, Black Swan, and the 2009 Star Trek reboot, as Spock’s mother.
  • Born October 29, 1972 – Gabrielle Union, 46, Actor who has solid genre creds with extended roles as Perri Reed in the new Night Stalker and as Zoey Andata in FlashForward, for which she was nominated for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. She also played the Klingon officer N’Garen in the “Sons and Daughters” episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, had a guest part on The Others, and was nominated for a Saturn Award for her role in Cradle 2 the Grave.
  • Born October 29, 1977 – Ben Foster, 41, Musician and Composer from England, best known for his work on the Torchwood TV series (for which he received three BAFTA nominations) and as orchestrator for Murray Gold on the Hugo-winning Doctor Who; he has also worked on the series Thunderbirds Are Go, Sherlock, Mars, The Last Witch, and films including Poltergeist, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, and Prometheus.
  • Born October 29, 1985 – Janet Montgomery, 33, Actor from England who has had main roles on the TV series Salem and the TV version of DC Comics’ Human Target. She has also appeared in the films The Space Between Us, Black Swan, Dead Cert, The Hills Run Red, and Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead, and in episodes of Black Mirror and Merlin.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) WHERE NO TREK HAS GONE BEFORE. From Fansided we learn about the “Star Trek short from author Michael Chabon”.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon. Chabon’s short, called Calypso, is set 1000 years after Discovery, meaning it’s set later down the Star Trek timeline than any film or TV show yet produced. There’s a new trailer for that, too:

 

(13) BEAUTY IS IN THE ABACUS OF THE BEHOLDER. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Data visualization is probably as much art as science and the shortlists for the 2018 Kantar Information is Beautiful Awards support that. The lists include several items of potential genre & genre-adjacent interest. You’ll need to click the links below to get to the nominee page, then click through to the various creator’s websites to see the full visualizations.

A 3-D linked look the Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the nominees in the Arts, Entertainment & Culture category. Also in that group is Fear and Loathing In Cinema Theatre: Our Favourite Genres and Emotions In IMDB Top 250. In the Science & Technology category, there’s an ambitious wrap-up of Satellites: 60 Years In Orbit. (Though some people may hesitate to go to the Russian host site to view this one.) For the astronomically inclined, Figures in the Sky looks at how constellations vary across a host of cultures. The Next Bechdel Test may already have been reported in File 770. Both those latter two are in the People, Languages & Identity category. YMMV on how many other of these nominees are genre-adjacent.

(14) TENTACLE TIME. National Geographic video shows where “World’s largest deep-sea octopus nursery discovered”.

Off the coast of Monterey, California, and some two miles below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, scientists piloting a remotely-operated submersible saw something no one has ever seen before.

Octopuses. Hundreds of them. Huddled on a rocky outcrop at the base of an underwater mountain.

“We went down the eastern flank of this small hill, and that’s when—boom—we just started seeing pockets of dozens here, dozens there, dozens everywhere,” says Chad King, chief scientist on the Exploration Vessel Nautilus.

All in all, King estimates that more than 1,000 octopuses known as Muusoctopus robustus were nestled among the rocks, most of which appeared to be inverted, or turned inside out. For this species, that inside-out pose is common among females that are brooding, or protecting their growing young. In some cases, the submersible’s camera could even spot tiny embryos cradled within their mothers’ arms.

(15) HALLOWEEN TREE. It’s Bradbury season at the Take Me To Your Reader podcast: “TMTYR Episode #70: This Movie is Woke! (The Halloween Tree)”.

Once, again, the Pavement Pounders are joined by Dr. Phil Nichols to discuss some Ray Bradbury. This time, it’s The Halloween Tree, the book, the television film, and the Colonial Radio Theater production.

(16) ON THE ROAD. Filmmaker John Carpenter’s Official Music Tour will take him all over Europe, but the last stop will be in Los Angeles.

(17) BARELY SFF ADJACENT. Slate presents “The 10 Commandments of Baby Halloween Costumes”. And a lot of the photos are of genre costumes!

There are almost no wrong answers. You don’t have to be especially creative. Tons of babies dress up as pumpkins, and guess what? Each and every one of them makes an excellent pumpkin. On the other end of the spectrum, if you want to do something weird or special, go for it! This Halloween will be one of the few your baby isn’t old enough to express any preferences of her own, so if you want to dress her as Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born or a Chippendale’s dancer, I say go for it.

(18) DUM VIVIMUS VIVAMUS. SYFY Wire has made note of Halloween yard art that pays homage to (spoiler alert) the demise of Spider-Man at the end of the latest Avengers movie (“Avengers: Infinity War fan Halloween display pays hilarious homage to the snap”).

Thanos’ finger snap at the end of Avengers: Infinity War sucked for pretty much everybody but the Mad Titan himself — and perhaps most of all for Peter Parker and Tony Stark. Stranded with a busted alien spacecraft on Thanos’ home planet and already left for dead, Stark has to watch as his superhero friends vaporize all around him one by one — including Spidey, who turns to ash right in Tony’s arms.

Just in time for Halloween, one MCU fan has used a little low-fi elbow grease, along with a ton of creative thinking, to commemorate what may be the movie’s most poignant moment. With nothing more than some pumpkins, a handful of leaves, and a couple of Marvel bits you can buy at the nearest big-box store, they’ve captured the tear-jerking moment of Peter’s sad goodbye, and the result — we have to admit — is way funnier than it probably should be.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/23/18 We Can Pixel It For You Scrollsale

(1) EXTRAPOLATION. At WIRED, The Geeks Guide to the Galaxy podcast asks Peter F. Hamilton “How Would Teleportation Change Society?”

Hamilton envisions a future in which teleportation portals are used for garbage disposal, irrigation, and carbon sequestration, and in which the now-useless bridges and highways have been converted into parks and shopping centers. He also predicts that cheap teleportation would spell the end of the hotel business.

“If it takes two minutes to walk from where I am [in England] to America, what do I need a hotel for?” he says. “There are still fabulous resorts and places like that, but the idea of a businessman needing a hotel for the night? No, that’s gone.”

Teleportation might also allow humanity to easily explore the galaxy. Hamilton’s interstellar starships are propelled forward by exhaust channeled through a portal. “You have one part of the portal that you just drop into the sun, and the other half is the rocket engine on the starship,” he says. “No need for any antimatter or fusion or anything.”

Sounds like a recipe for mass unemployment!

(2) STAYIN’ ALIVE. Here’s somebody else who’s looking for work. We learn from The Late Late Show with James Corden that Predator is desperate for new acting roles:

With “The Predator” now out in theaters, the franchise’s famed antagonist, whose name is Howard, is ready for a new chapter. With new headshots and a positive attitude, Howard jumps into the Hollywood grind in search of the next great role.

 

(3) REMEMBER TO SQUEE. Edmund Schluessel wrote up “Fantasticon 2018 in Copenhagen”. (He wants you to know this event was distinct from the Fantasticon SF convention which took place in Indiana this same weekend.)

…The audience at Fantasticon was consistently among the nicest I’ve encountered. One of the program items I made a point of seeing on Saturday was a talk led by the dauphines of Swedisn and Danish fandom, Fia Karlsson and Sanna Bo Claummarch respectively, titled Come with me if you want to squee! whose thesis was, simply, there should be no guilty pleasures: we should feel free to enjoy what we enjoy, and break down barriers of “you can’t like this because you’re a girl, or boy, or too old, or to young” and so on.

And this is something we need to keep reminding ourselves of because those barriers are continually being reconstructed for us. Now that I am A Published Author people can read what I write in an “official” way; but part and parcel of that is that the publisher and Amazon will both try to quantify me like census takers because that’s as indivisible and fundamental a component of marketing books as carbon is a component of sugar, and we authors and fans are complicit too when we try to promote the work by putting it in a familiar context (“you like young adult romances with aliens, right?”). We owe it to ourselves as writers and fans to break down the barriers even as we take part in building them up through how we present our work.

(4) A SAGA OF THE MEXICANX INITIATIVE. Hector Gonzalez has posted two more entries in his account of  Worldcon 76.

I started thinking something showing my traditions as well as the new lessons I’ve learnt in the US. The choice was simple: gorditas, a Mexican specialty of stuffed fried masa dough. I opted for a smaller version of these, around the size of a mason jar mouth. There would be two versions, one for meat eaters, another one for vegans. The meat option would be filled with carnitas estilo Michoacan, using my grandmother’s recipe but adapting it to a modern technique called sous vide. With it you cook the food at a constant temperature to assure more tender and intense flavors. The vegan version would be vegan carnitas, made with mushrooms, using sous vide too.

Now, the science fiction angle. The easiest way would be playing with my specialty: salsas. I opted for making 7 salsas, each spicier than the previous one. The first one that came to my mind was Soylent Verde, because it was an easy pun. My dear Aussie friend Paul CZ came up with a couple of the other names: Picard de Gallo?—?Make It Salsa happened while eating BBQ, while Obi Juan Chipotle was sent over Messenger later that same day.

I though I had everything under wraps and the plan would go without a hitch. However, I tend to think on worst case scenarios when cooking. “If this fails, which is your plan B?” I started thinking about options. I was assured by Diane that I would get help in the kitchen but even with an extra pair of hands, catering for over 100 person could be daunting.

(5) A GOLDEN AGE. M M Owen, in ”Our Age of Horror” on Aeon, interviews Joe Hill, Ramsey Campbell, and Daid J Skal to discuss why horror remains so popular.  Plus he begins his piece by discussing Ray Bradbury’s 1955 story “The Next in Line.” which he thinks is one of the great horror stories of the 20th century.

Our present era is one in which the heart of culture is blowing hard upon a coal of fear, and the fascination is everywhere. By popular consent, horror has been experiencing what critics feel obliged to label a ‘golden age’. In terms of ticket sales, 2017 was the biggest year in the history of horror cinema, and in 2018, Hereditary and A Quiet Place have been record-breaking successes. In both the United States and the United Kingdom, sales of horror literature are up year over year – an uptick that industry folk partly attribute to the wild popularity of Netflix’s Stranger Things (2016-). And the success isn’t merely commercial. Traditionally a rather maligned genre, these days horror is basking in the glow of critical respectability. As The New York Times remarked this June, horror ‘has never been more bankable and celebrated than it is right now’.

As any historian of the genre will tell you, horror has had previous golden ages. Perhaps ours is just a random quirk of popular taste. But perhaps not. Perhaps we are intoxicated by horror today because the genre is serving a function that others aren’t. Can’t. Horror’s roots run deep, but they twist themselves into forms very modern. The imagination’s conversion of fear into art offers a dark and piercing mirror.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 23, 1846 — Planet Neptune was discovered.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born September 23, 1908 – Wilmar H. Shiras, Writer. Also wrote under the name Jane Howes. Her most famous piece was In Hiding, a novella which was published by John W. Campbell, Jr. in Astounding Science Fiction in November 1948 – eventually to be included in the The Science Fiction Hall of Fame novella anthology — and widely assumed to be the inspiration for The Uncanny X-Men that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby would release 15 years later.
  • Born September 23, 1920 – Richard Wilson, Writer and Archivist. Though a genre writer who garnered several Nebula and Hugo nominations, I’m going to argue that his major contribution to the field was collecting the papers of many SFF writers for Syracuse University’s George Arents Research Library. As Wiki notes, ‘the collection eventually included manuscripts, galley proofs, magazines, correspondence and art donated by Piers Anthony, Hal Clement, Keith Laumer, Larry Niven, Frederik Pohl and others, including Wilson himself.’ I wonder if that means Niven’s Ringworld artwork is there…
  • Born September 23, 1936 – Edgar L. Chapman, 82, Scholar and Critic. I’m fascinated by genre academics. This one is a specialist on Philip José Farmer – not exclusively, but that’s his main area of interest. So let’s look at some of what he’s published: From Rebellious Rationalist to Mythmaker and Mystic: The Religious Quest of Philip José Farmer, The Magic Labyrinth of Philip Jose Farmer, The Fabulous Riverworld, and On Philip Farmer.
  • Born September 23, 1956 – Peter David, 62, Writer. Despite my general aversion to works based on media series, I’m going to single out his Babylon 5 work as most excellent. Among his fiction work of a non-media undertaking, his Modern Arthur series is very good as is his quite silly Sir Apropos of Nothing series. Let’s by no means overlook his very, very impressive work in comics covering series such as Doctor Who, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Aquaman, Super-Girl, and Young Justice. He has won a number of Awards including an  Eisner Award for Best Writer/Artist Team with Dale Keown for The Incredible Hulk.
  • Born September 23, 1957 – Rosalind Chao, 61, Actor. Perhaps best known to genre fans as the botanist Keiko Ishikawa O’Brien from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, she grew up working part-time in her parents’ restaurant near Disneyland. Her early genre appearances include guest roles in episodes of the TV series The Amazing Spider-Man and Beauty and the Beast and the TV miniseries Intruders. She appeared in the 2003 version of Freaky Friday, and has a role in the upcoming live-action movie version of Disney’s Mulan.
  • Born September 23, 1967 – Justine Larbalestier, 51, Writer, Editor, and Critic. An Australian author of fiction whose novels have won Andre Norton, Carl Brandon, and Aurealis Awards, she is probably best known for her comprehensive scholarly work The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction which was a Hugo, Locus, and Aurealis finalist. Her Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century, an anthology of SFF stories and critical essays by women, won The William Atheling Jr. Award.
  • Born September 23, 1975 – Katrina Browne, 43, Actor. A New Zealander who has appeared in numerous genre properties including The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Xena: Warrior Princess, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Young Hercules, Power Rangers DinoThunder, and Power Rangers Ninja Storm.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • In this Over the Hedge, we find out Alexa has limits on what it can do to affect your Kurma.

(9) TRUE CONFESSIONS. J.W. Ocker kicked off the Halloween season  by watching the 1983 Disney/Ray Bradbury flick Something Wicked This Way Comes. Oh, and by the way….

For whatever stupid, random twists that the universe throws at this planet to keep itself entertained, I happen to own the head of Will Halloway. Like, the actual physical prop. It’s from the scene where he and Jim are running from the carnival at night and come full stop at a small guillotine that beheads a version of Will right in front of them. The severed head prop was created by Rob Schiffer, a famous Disney make-up artist who was responsible for turning Jonathan Winters into a pumpkin in the Halloween Hall of Fame show and a dog into a monster in the original Tim Burton short Frankenweenie. He also worked on such properties as The Black Hole, TRON, and Escape to Witch Mountain, as well as movies for other production houses. I mean, he did the makeup on everything from The Wizard of Oz to Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

(10) NPR AND COMICSGATE. NPR’s investigative reporting show Reveal devoted an episode to explaining #ComicsGate: “Never Meet Your (Super) Heroes”. Because of my bad hearing I haven’t listened myself, however, person who emailed me the link says a feature of the show is a Rolling Stone reporter interviewing Vox Day, publisher of the comics referenced in the following blurb —

There’s a new battlefield in the culture wars: comic books. The alt-right now has gotten in the business, led by a buxom, Confederate flag-waving superhero named Rebel and a white vigilante who turns immigrants over to ICE.

(11) DOLLARGATE. Whatever else #ComicsGate is, Vox Day and Jon Del Arroz hope it’s a revenue stream. However, one of Day’s moves has offended some people and made both VD and JDA objects of social media scorn. Castalia House apologist Bounding Into Comics tries to run interference for them in “Let’s Not Turn #Comicsgate into #Dramagate”.

With coordinated attacks coming from all sides, it’s more critical than ever that #Comicsgate members keep their eye on the prize and don’t turn into #dramaqueens who favor sniping and infighting over solidarity. Sadly, for those supporting this consumer revolt in the name of good comic books, and for the high profile figures within it, recent history may not be on our side.

On September 3rd, 2018, Alt-Hero publisher Vox Day announced his prospective Comicsgate imprint right here on Bounding Into Comics, and it would be an insult to diarrhea to say that the Comicsgate community understandably lost their crap in response. Whether Vox Day was trying to do something he deemed to be positive for the movement, or he was just trying to co-opt it a la Sad Puppies…or both, is mostly irrelevant; the fallout from his move was quite real, particularly when it came to author and occasional BIC contributor Jon Del Arroz.

Over the course of 24 hours, Del Arroz, whose Sci-Fi and comic book work are both published by Day’s imprints, was not only taken to task for his friendship with Day, but he would see some of his sociopolitical positions erroneously conflated with Day’s. When the accused makes it crystal clear that they disagree with someone else’s specific politics and yet they are still being taken to the woodshed for them, it’s a pretty clear case of reactionary outrage….

(12) RECOVERING FROM A FORMER GOOD IDEA. BBC reports: “France removes toxic tyres from failed reef project”.

Teams of divers are painstakingly lifting an artificial reef made of tens of thousands of old car tyres from the seafloor south of France, after it was found to spread pollution from toxic chemicals.

The operation is costing well over a million euros ($1.1m; £898,000) and is part-funded by the tyre manufacturer Michelin as well as the French state.

The divers are supported by a boat with lifting equipment.

Fish had been avoiding the area.

(13) LEGO PORG. SYFY Wire has made note that you will soon be able to buy your own Porg; some assembly required (“LEGO just brought a life-size Porg to Earth”).

By now, we’ve seen just about all the Porg merch in this galaxy—Porg shirts, Porg Funko pops (of course), Porg bobbleheads, furry animatronic Porgs, a borderline terrifying Chewbacca and Porg backpack, and now a life-size LEGO Porg.

Yes, this is for real, and it’s one Porg that Chewie can’t slow-roast over a fire.

The LEGO kit lists for $69.99 and is listed on the company’s site as “Coming Soon on Oct 1 2018”. Features of the kit, per LEGO, are:

  • Features authentic detailing, an opening mouth and flapping wings.
  • Also includes a display stand with decorative fact plaque and an extra porg mini build.
  • Porg without stand stands over 7” (19cm) high.
  • Display stand measures approx. 2” (6cm) high and 1” (3cm) deep, and over 4” (11cm) wide.
  • Relive fun porg adventures from Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

(14) DISNEY STREAMING. Variety has a report (“Loki, Scarlet Witch to Get TV Series on Disney Streaming Service”) that the as-yet unnamed Disney streaming service will have exclusive content from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Disney is enlisting Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as the company prepares to launch its upcoming streaming service. The entertainment giant is in early development on an ambitious plan for a number of limited series centered on popular characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. These series will likely include shows centered on Loki and the Scarlet Witch, along with other beloved superheroes who have yet to appear in their own standalone movies.

Marvel and Disney had no comment.

There’s an important distinction from other Marvel small screen efforts, however. The actors who portrayed these heroes and villains in the Avengers films and their spin-offs, such as Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen, are expected to play them in the streaming shows. Moreover, though sources close to the production are staying mum on the cost of the programming, the budgets are expected to be hefty rivaling those of a major studio productions. Each series is expected to include six to eight episodes. Marvel Studios will produce the shows and Kevin Feige, the guru of all things MCU, is expected to take a hands-on role in their development.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/31/17 Here’s Harry Mudd In Your AI

(1) HALLOWEEN VIGIL. John King Tarpinian commemorated his annual Halloween visit to Ray Bradbury’s gravesite with this photo.

(2) THE MOST GHOSTS. Halloween is a good day to be publicizing books newly available for sale from Richard Dalby’s Library.

One of the largest collections of rare and antiquarian supernatural and ghost books. If you’re looking for something special, unique and rare we might just have the book for you.

Richard Dalby was an editor and literary researcher noted for his anthologies of ghost stories. He was also an avid book collector and scholar. He sadly died in April 2017.

Read more about Richard Dalby in this article written by Brian Showers of Swan River Press, “Remembering Richard Dalby”:

 I first met Richard in Brighton at the World Horror Convention on 27 March 2010. Thinking back now, we certainly must have corresponded before 2010 as conversation was immediately familiar and friendly. I don’t think I’d ever seen a photograph of Richard prior to meeting him in Brighton, so was struck by his boyish appearance. It conflicted with the fact that his publication history goes right the way back. Jesus, how old was this guy? Not that old at all as it turned out.

But Richard wasn’t just boyish in appearance; he had something of that youthful manner about him too. Maybe curiosity is a better word for it. He was inquisitive. After brief salutations and nice-to-finally-meet-yous, Richard immediately launched into questions. I’d been working on Stoker a lot in those days, and he wanted to know what I knew about “X” edition, or if I had ever been able to track down the exact publication date of “Y”. Of course I hadn’t. Sure, I know more than the average person does about Stoker, but Richard’s knowledge far exceeded mine and by no small amount. And yet he asked me questions anyway because that’s how Richard seemed to work. He probed, asked questions, compiled, collected, and collated. I think that’s one of the key qualities Richard possessed that made him such a good researcher, bibliographer, and anthologist.

(3) MIND MELD. The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog has assembled a “Mind Meld” for the holiday: “Mind Meld: Monster Mayhem—Vampires and Everything Else”. The question is:

What are your favorite books or stories featuring vampires or anything uncategorizable?

And the panelists are: Gareth L. Powell, Stina Leicht, Zachary Jernigan, Jason Sizemore, Mary Robinette Kowal, Jennifer Brozek, Christopher Golden, T. Frohock, Rachel Swirsky, Jason Arnopp, Dr Gillian Polack, Jeffrey Ford, Paul Cornell, Paul Jessup, Lara Elena Donnelly, Kristine Smith, Carrie Cuinn, Beth Cato, Brea Grant and Mallory O’Meara, Jaym Gates, Gail Z. Martin, Tracy Fahey, Jaime Lee Moyer, and Tracy Townsend.

(4) LOUD OUT THERE.  Who says they can’t hear screaming in space? Mike Chua of MikeShouts says “NASA’s Playlist Of Sounds From Space Is Apt For Sci-Fi-themed Halloween Party”.

Are you going to have a sci-fi-themed Halloween party? Well, if so, you will want these spooky sounds recorded in space by NASA as your soundtrack. Like, seriously. Be warned though, these sounds are really, really spooky. The level of spookiness cannot be overstated. I have listened to all the tracks in the playlist and all I can say that they sound more paranormal than space-ish. Aptly entitled Spooky Sounds from Across the Space, the playlist on Soundcloud includes 22 tracks pulled from NASA’s archive of sounds recorded in outer space by the various probes and orbiters, and therefore do not expect sweet, varying mood, orchestrated music from Contact.

(5) COSTUME OF THE DAY. Never thought of that wordplay before —

(6) THE FIRST ONE IS FREE. YouTube Red is airing Lifeline, produced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Seven Bucks Digital Studios and Studio 71.

The series stars Zach Gilford (Friday Night Lights) and Sydney Park (The Walking Dead), and tells the story of a life insurance company that sends its agents into the future to prevent the accidental deaths of its clients.

 

(7) A VISIT TO THE REAL WORLD. Maggie Stiefvater: “I’ve decided to tell you guys a story about piracy”. Piracy not only costs sales, it kills series.

…There was another new phenomenon with Blue Lily, Lily Blue, too — one that started before it was published. Like many novels, it was available to early reviewers and booksellers in advanced form (ARCs: advanced reader copies). Traditionally these have been cheaply printed paperback versions of the book. Recently, e-ARCs have become common, available on locked sites from publishers.

BLLB’s e-arc escaped the site, made it to the internet, and began circulating busily among fans long before the book had even hit shelves. Piracy is a thing authors have been told to live with, it’s not hurting you, it’s like the mites in your pillow, and so I didn’t think too hard about it until I got that royalty statement with BLLB’s e-sales cut in half.

Strange, I thought. Particularly as it seemed on the internet and at my booming real-life book tours that interest in the Raven Cycle in general was growing, not shrinking. Meanwhile, floating about in the forums and on Tumblr as a creator, it was not difficult to see fans sharing the pdfs of the books back and forth. For awhile, I paid for a service that went through piracy sites and took down illegal pdfs, but it was pointless. There were too many. And as long as even one was left up, that was all that was needed for sharing.

I asked my publisher to make sure there were no e-ARCs available of book four, the Raven King, explaining that I felt piracy was a real issue with this series in a way it hadn’t been for any of my others. They replied with the old adage that piracy didn’t really do anything, but yes, they’d make sure there was no e-ARCs if that made me happy.

Then they told me that they were cutting the print run of The Raven King to less than half of the print run for Blue Lily, Lily Blue. No hard feelings, understand, they told me, it’s just that the sales for Blue Lily didn’t justify printing any more copies. The series was in decline, they were so proud of me, it had 19 starred reviews from pro journals and was the most starred YA series ever written, but that just didn’t equal sales. They still loved me.

This, my friends, is a real world consequence.

… The Ronan trilogy nearly didn’t exist because of piracy. And already I can see in the tags how Tumblr users are talking about how they intend to pirate book one of the new trilogy for any number of reasons, because I am terrible or because they would ‘rather die than pay for a book’. As an author, I can’t stop that. But pirating book one means that publishing cancels book two. This ain’t 2004 anymore. A pirated copy isn’t ‘good advertising’ or ‘great word of mouth’ or ‘not really a lost sale.’

It was preceded by this twitter thread:

And this post about why not every author can give away stuff for free:

Today on Twitter and Tumblr, I posted about piracy and the effect it had had on the publishing side of the Raven Cycle. Several readers lashed out at me and asked why I did not merely release an 11,000 word story for free if the publisher had decided not to release it — further, they noted, other “big name authors” released “loads” of free content and since I didn’t release “loads” of things for free, surely this meant I just was in it for the money.

…And I’m not going to speak to the giving away art for free business. The internet has discussed this a lot already, and the fact is that if you take away a paying-for-art model, you end up only getting art from people who can afford to work in their spare time or art that is supported by patrons — both models that we have seen before, both models that end up giving you art produced by and for a homogenous and upper class group. So moving on.

What I will speak to is the “loads” of free content business, because I haven’t addressed this before. I know there are authors who do release loads of free content. Stories of all lengths. Still other authors release loads of extra content available for a low cost, stories and novellas, etc. I can very much see how this is thrilling to readers. However, this will never be me, for four reasons:…

(8) NO OASIS IN 2018. The Orlando Area Science Fiction Society has announced they need more help to continue putting on the annual OASIS convention, and until they find it they’re skipping a year.

OASIS 29 revealed a need for restructuring our future conventions. As a result, we must regretfully announce that there will not be an OASIS convention in 2018.

We hope to present the next OASIS convention in 2019. We’ll provide the latest updates of our progress through Twitter, Facebook and the OASFiS web page.

However, that progress depends on you. Yes, you.

Each convention, we’ve asked people who love fandom to join OASFiS and help us build future conventions and events. In this critical time, we need you more than ever. It might be fun to watch fan activities from an audience seat, but it’s more fulfilling to make them happen and bring your own ideas to the world.

We want to bring greater events beyond the convention, involving all of Central Florida’s fan communities, but that requires the involvement of your minds, bodies and souls. Come to our monthly meetings – which we’re planning to move to a comfortable location in downtown Orlando, to be announced soon – and talk to us. As we’ve discovered, it’s good to have some friends. But it’s better to have more friends.

(9) JULIAN MAY. Here’s the Chicago Sun-Times’ obituary, published today: “Julian May, who weaved worlds in sci-fi, fantasy novels, dead at 86”

Julian May’s Christmas tree was bedecked with a flying-dinosaur ornament handcrafted by someone better known for writing “I, Robot” and other sci-fi classics — Isaac Asimov. Author Ray Bradbury used to bounce her son on his knee.

Before becoming a popular science-fiction writer herself, Ms. May grew up in a Cape Cod home in Elmwood Park, attended Trinity High School in River Forest and landed her first job at Burny Brothers bakery at 2445 N. Harlem.

Her books included two sprawling sci-fi sagas: the four “Saga of Pliocene Exile” novels and the six-book “Galactic Milieu” series. They incorporate aliens, barbarians, time travel, swordplay and paleontology, with elements of Carl Jung and Celtic and Norse mythology.

Ms. May, who wrote 19 science-fiction and fantasy novels and more than 250 young-adult nonfiction books, died of a heart attack Oct. 17 at Overlake Hospital in Bellevue, Wash. She was 86….

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 31, 1926 – Harry Houdini died.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian encountered a question about Dracula’s sartorial splendor in today’s Shoe.

(12) MANUFACTURER’S RECALL. If you rushed to buy the new Penric novella on the first day, Lois McMaster Bujold says you need to check whether you received a corrupted edition.

I would advise Kindle customers to give up waiting on the “manage your content and devices” page and go straight to the chat solution, as explained.

… The problem should only apply to customers who bought on the first days, Friday Oct. 27 and most of Saturday Oct. 28.  (The corrected file went up Saturday afternoon/evening.)  Files sold from Sunday Oct. 30 onward should be updated and complete.  Do please pass the word, as I doubt all the first-day purchasers read my blog (although, happily, it seems many do.)

To see if you have a good copy (or not), do the “Limnos corrections cross-check”:

As discussed (at length) in the prior post, the file uploaded on Friday of “The Prisoner of Limnos” was corrupted due to a formatting glitch — 14 out of its 18 chapters were missing their final paragraphs. We caught up with the problem on Saturday afternoon, and a fresh and supposedly corrected file was uploaded at the three vendors.

Bujold concludes, “For all the aggravation, I do have to admit this beats binning a multi-thousand-copy bad paper print run.”

(13) WITCHES UNFAMILIAR. Jamie at Pornokitsch turns the pages of several recent comic books in “Hubble, bubble, toil and feminism: Witches in comics”.

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina also takes the form of a coming-of-age horror. While Harrow County has a positive message about female friendship, Chilling Adventures tells a much muddier story.

Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Robert Hack, Chilling Adventures is part of the Archie Comics horror line and sends Sabrina back to a 1960s setting. Using this historical time period –  a decade of changing attitudes – helps polarise Sabrina’s position not only as a girl halfway between the worlds of the witches and regular humans, between girlhood and womanhood, but also between the old and new ways of thinking. The old hidebound rules of the witches represent the old way, the coven standing in for the stratified social systems of family and motherhood that constrained women for so long.

Sabrina’s time in the human world – a normal teenage girl in high school – shows all the new attitudes of the 1960s. There, Sabrina is dating a football player, studying In Cold Blood and trying to get the big role in the school adaptation of Bye Bye Birdie. She looks up to the new drama teacher, Ms. Porter who, unfortunately, turns out to be a long-thought-dead witch with a grudge against the Spellman family.  Ms. Porter (a.k.a. Madam Satan) is herself something of a dichotomy. In her mortal guise she is a sympathetic confidante, a no-nonsense woman with the tell-tale ‘Ms.’.  When we see her in her witchy moments, however, she’s driven by jealousy, lust and vanity, a trio of sins classically assigned to ‘witchy’ women. In Chilling Adventures, Sabrina’s attempts to move away from this outdated view of femininity that provides so much of the comic’s thematic tension and makes its witches so compelling.

(14) GOBLIN UP THE SHORT FICTION. Jason has devoured October’s short fiction and has recommendations on the tastiest treats in the “Summation of Online Fiction: October 2017” at Featured Futures.

September was the scary month with few great or even particularly good stories but October rebounded resoundingly with several remarkable tales (out of only thirty-four read of 157K words), and from relatively unusual venues. Flash Fiction Online produced an excellent Valloween issue combining Valentine relationships with Halloween darkness. Uncanny and Apex also had stories above the usual fare. While Nature produced no recs this month, it produced a double-honorable-mention and got into the Halloween spirit with both, one of which would have fit into the FFO issue and one of which was outright horror. Plus there was a trio of quite remarkable near-misses of fantasy from a trio of other sources, at least a couple of which also fit the season and one of which was a rare webzine novella. For those not in the Halloween mood, there were still a few good tales that weren’t so dark. Speaking of scary, though, Tor.com published only one story in September and posted only two original ones in October. Here’s hoping they get back on track.

(15) STRANGER CONOISSEUR. Camestros Felapton is on duty beside the TV, giving us “Review: Stranger Things 2 (spoilers avoided)”:

The hyper genre-aware Netlfix show is back with another nine hour marathon wearing the early 1980’s as a halloween costume. If you didn’t like the first series, fair enough – tastes very and I’ll discuss one of the biggest issues I have with the show below. If you did like the first series then you’ll like this one also. Essentially while the characters have grown and the plot advances, the core features of the show are the same. Personally, I was absolutely riveted.

…The strength of the show remains with a great cast with strong characters. Wynona Ryder as Joyce Byers gets to be less frantic for more of the show but still conveys an electric mix of nervous energy and fierce determination to protect her family against absolutely ANYTHING. Above all she is a wonderful antidote to the cliche of the disbelieving adult – as with the first series, she follows the internal logic of the crazy situation with a compassionate ruthlessness.

The younger cast remain brilliant and charming and plausible. The addition of Max, a skateboarding new kid from out of town, broadens the gender mix of the core gang. While among the adults, Sean Astin plays Wynona Ryder’s romantic interest as an adult nerd – which is a handy trait in a show where being a nerd is often a handy superpower….

(16) ANOTHER ENTRY IN THE LITTLE BLUE BOOK. Doctor Who News predicts there will be a close encounter of the fourth kind — specifically, “River Song to Meet Fourth Doctor”.

River Song as played by Alex Kingston, is to meet the Fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker, in a new set of audio adventures released by Big Finish. Series Four of The Diary of River Song, to be released in August 2018, will see the archaeologist encounter Doctor Number Four, in a set of new adventures alongside the longest serving Doctor. Meanwhile Series Three of the Diary of River Song will released in January 2018, and will feature the Fifth Doctor, as played by Peter Davison, battling against the most evil midwife in Doctor Who history, Madame Kovarian, played by Frances Barber.

(17) TAKE THREE AND CALL ME IN THE MORNING. BigThink takes the piss out of Pythagoras: “Scientists Discover the Purpose of a Mysterious 3700-Year-Old Babylonian Tablet” .

The tablet has 15 rows of numbers written in cuneiform over four columns. It uses a base 60 numeral system (called “sexagesimal”), which originated with ancient Sumerians. What was the tablet used for? The scientists think it might have been an invaluable aid in the construction of palaces, temples and canals. Before pocket calculators, trigonometric tables were used widely in a variety of fields. They let you use one known ratio of the sides of a right-angle triangle to figure out the other two unknown ratios.

One of the study’s authors, Dr. Daniel Mansfield from the UNSW School of Mathematics and Statistics, explained why the tablet held such mystery –

“Plimpton 322 has puzzled mathematicians for more than 70 years, since it was realised it contains a special pattern of numbers called Pythagorean triples. The huge mystery, until now, was its purpose – why the ancient scribes carried out the complex task of generating and sorting the numbers on the tablet,” said Mansfield. “Our research reveals that Plimpton 322 describes the shapes of right-angle triangles using a novel kind of trigonometry based on ratios, not angles and circles.”

He also called the tablet “a fascinating mathematical work that demonstrates undoubted genius.” Mansfield said the mathematics on the tablet are advanced even for our modern trigonometry. Plimpton 322 also shows the Babylonians proved the famous Pythagorean theorem a thousand years before Greek mathematician Pythagoras was born.

Interestingly, not only is this the world’s oldest trigonometric table, it’s also “the only completely accurate” one because of its reliance on the potentially more precise base 60.

(18) JAUNTY ALOUETTE. The Traveler at Galactic Journey keeps watching the skies: “[October 31, 1962] Trick and Treat! (A Halloween candy wrap-up of the Space Race)”.

Typically, a Thor Agena B launch from Southern California means yet another Air Force “Discoverer” spy sat has gone up; such flights are now weekly occurrences.  But the flight that went up September 29 actually carried a civilian payload into polar orbit: Alouette 1, the first Canadian satellite.

Alouette is designed to study the ionosphere, that charged layer of the atmosphere hundreds of miles up.  But unlike the sounding rockets routinely sent into the zone, Alouette will survey (or “sound”) the ionosphere from above.  Canada is particularly interested in understanding how and when the sun disrupts the region, interrupting radio communications.  Our neighbor to the north is a big country, after all, and it is the Northern Hemisphere’s first line of defense against Soviet missiles and bombers.  Radio is, therefore, vital to both defense and civilian interests.

According to early data, it looks like the highest “F2” layer of the ionosphere is as reflective to radio waves from the top as the bottom.  Alouette has also, by beaming multiple frequencies down to Earth, helped scientists determine what radio wavelengths aren’t blocked by the ionosphere.

(19) A MUCH DIFFERENT BOY AND HIS DOG. From Deadline: “Amblin Entertainment Acquires Tom Hanks Sci-Fi Package ‘Bios’”.

Writers are Craig Luck and Ivor Powell. The story is about a robot on an a post-apocalyptic Earth who was programmed to protect his creator’s dog. Through that, the robot learns about love, friendship and the meaning of life. Producing will be ImageMovers Jack Rapke and Jackie Levine along with writer Powell. Bob Zemeckis, Luck and Sapochnik will be executive producer.

(20) NOW ON THE SHELVES. The Archie McPhee catalog acknowledges our debt to these unsung professionals with their new LIBRARIAN ACTION FIGURE!

What’s that in the sky? It’s our new super-powered Librarian Action Figure! We need heroes right now who can help us navigate information, point us to reliable sources and recommend books that help us grow in our understanding of our fellow humans. In other words, move over Captain America, it’s time for the librarians. Based on Seattle librarian Nancy Pearl, this action figure has a removable cape and a deep knowledge of how knowledge is organized. Celebrate an everyday hero!

[Thanks to Meredith, ULTRAGOTHA, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Juan Sanmiguel, and Wendy Gale for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 10/21/17 Stars in My Pocket Like Scrolls of Pixels.

(1) HEART SURGERY. Vulture grilled Kirkus’s editor-in-chief Claiborne Smith about changes made to a review in the face of a swarm of critics: Kirkus Editor-in-Chief Explains Why They Altered That American Heart Review.

Kirkus was well-aware from the start that American Heart was something of a lightning rod, which Smith says was not a concern. “As you know, we’re no stranger to controversy,” he says, referring to the recent outrage surrounding Kirkus’s starred review for The Black Witch. And the response to this controversy, according to Smith, stemmed from a long-standing policy of listening when readers have something to say: “We do investigate [criticisms] and consider all of those claims.”

Yet while investigating criticisms may be business as usual, Smith admits this is the first time during his tenure that a review has been pulled and altered in this way. And while the Muslim woman who wrote the original review was involved in the editing process — “the decision to retract the star was made in full collaboration with the reviewer,” he says — altering the review does not appear to have been her idea in the first place. According to Smith, Kirkus concluded internally that edits would be made before reaching out to the reviewer.

“We wanted her to consider if changing what we thought was sort of reductive word choice, and adding deeper context, is something she thought might be appropriate,” he says, though he emphasizes it was ultimately her call: “I did not dictate that to her. She made that decision on her own.” (The word choice in question likely refers to text in the original review that referred to Sadaf as “a disillusioned immigrant,” which some commenters took exception to.)

Kirkus’s critics are skeptical of that claim; among the more cynical takes on the controversy is that Kirkus used the reviewer’s identity as a shield, only to then suppress her voice when it didn’t toe the line. Smith bristles at that: “It’s like no one believes that this reviewer has a mind and can change her opinion. Is that so difficult to believe?”

The answer isn’t necessarily clear. Would Kirkus’s reviewer have changed her mind independently, even if the review hadn’t been pulled for evaluation? Or did she feel pressured to alter what had proven to be a deeply unpopular opinion when asked if she wanted to, even without explicit instructions to do so? What is clear, though, is that the choice to un-star American Heart reflects something noteworthy about Kirkus’s framework for critique — one in which a book’s value is determined not just by the quality of its storytelling, but also by its politics. The sentence added to the review indicates that writing the book from Sarah Mary’s point of view remains an admirable choice from a craft perspective (“an effective world-building device”), but wrong from a moral one (“it is problematic that Sadaf is seen only through the white protagonist’s filter”). And while Smith says the call-out of said problematic element is not meant to dissuade readers from reading the book — “If readers don’t care that this novel is only told about a Muslim character, from the perspective of a white teenager, that’s fine” — he acknowledges that Kirkus does care, and does judge books at least in part on whether they adhere to certain progressive ideals. When I ask if the book’s star was revoked explicitly and exclusively because it features a Muslim character seen from the perspective of a white teenager, Smith pauses for only a second: “Yes.”

(2) INDIA 2049. “Call for Submissions: India 2049 – Utopias and Dystopias”. Mithila Review is doing this issue as a fundraiser, and is basically paying only an honorarium. Submissions for India 2049 are open until April 30, 2018.

“The developing countries such as those in the South Asia and Africa are not sufficiently depicted in typical SF stories.”— Cixin Liu, Mithila Review

Mithila Review is seeking submissions for India 2049: Utopias and Dystopias, an anthology of short stories and comics devoted to the exploration of Indian futures, utopias and dystopias, set in India, South Asia or beyond.

Editors: Salik Shah & Ajapa Sharma

Word Limit: 4000-12,000 words

Comics: Up to 24 pages

Deadline: April 30st, 2018

Eligibility: Stories should be set in India, South Asia, or told from Indian or South Asian perspective. We want excellent, characters-driven and thoughtful stories from emerging and established voices around the world. Your citizenship or nationality, or lack of it, isn’t a bar to submission. Please free to re/define India or South Asia to make it relevant to the future/s you’re creating. If you are new to Mithila Review, please go through our existing issues to get a taste and understanding of the kind of stories that define Mithila Review.

(3) THE SCI-FI PIPELINE. From IndieWire, “The New Golden Age of Studio Science-Fiction is Upon Us”

The New Golden Age of Studio Science-Fiction is Upon Us

We’ll be seeing a lot of major studios releasing auteur-driven science-fiction over the next couple years. Here are some of the titles you need to know about:

“Downsizing,” Alexander Payne

Alexander Payne is well regarded as a humanist and a sharp observer of middle-aged existential crises, which makes the thought of him directing a science-fiction movie all the more intriguing…. “

“Annihilation,” Alex Garland

…Studios were clearly paying attention to “Ex Machina’s” success, as Paramount quickly landed Garland to direct the big budget adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer’s novel “Annihilation.” …

Ready Player One,” Steven Spielberg

You’d have to go back to “War of the Worlds” in 2006 to find the last pure Steven Spielberg science-fiction blockbuster….

“Gemini,” Ang Lee

Ang Lee’s unpredictable career has taken him from gay romances to historical dramas, war films, literary adaptations, and period pieces, but with “Gemini” he’s finally set to bring his boundless visual scope to the science-fiction genre….

“Ad Astra,” James Gray

James Gray has been upping the stakes of his narratives and working with larger budgets with each new film, so it was only a matter of time before the director would join forces with a studio to make something truly epic. “Ad Astra” sounds like that kind of mainstream breakthrough after the indie success of “The Lost City of Z.” Brad Pitt plays an astronaut who sets out on a mission through the solar system to find his father (Tommy Lee Jones), who disappeared 20 years earlier on a one-way mission to Neptune….

“Alita: Battle Angel,” Robert Rodriguez

Robert Rodriguez has only ever made big-budget action films for family audiences (see the “Spy Kids” franchise and “The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl”), which is part of the reason the upcoming “Alita: Battle Angel” could mark a whole new chapter in the director’s career. The idea for a film adaptation of Yukito Kishiro’s acclaimed manga series was first brought to James Cameron by Guillermo del Toro, but the director’s work on “Avatar” kept the project from being properly developed….

“The Predator,” Shane Black

Normally a studio reboot of “The Predator” franchise wouldn’t inspire much anticipation (and fans clearly weren’t too interested in the 2010 installment directed by Nimród Antal), but 20th Century Fox has made the exciting decision of putting none other than Shane Black in the director’s chair….

“Avatar” Sequels, James Cameron

The second “Avatar” movie will arrive over a decade after the original became the highest grossing movie of all time (adjusted for inflation). It’s been so long since “Avatar” conquered the box office that no one is really begging for a sequel anymore, and yet you’d have to be crazy not to be at least a little excited for another opportunity for James Cameron to play on the biggest canvas imaginable….

(4) HAWAIIAN SHIRT FRIGHT. High Seas Trading Company is willing to sell you the shirt off its back in time for Halloween: Classic Horror Monsters.

(5) ZINE TRANSCRIBERS SOUGHT. Slate Magazine, in “Retyping the Future’s Past”, tells about the University of Iowa Libraries project to crowdsource transcription of some of its holdings, like the Rusty Hevelin fanzine collection. I didn’t get involved myself because as it was put to me, the zines were not out of copyright so the transcriptions would not be made publicly available, only to scholars working through the library. My fellow fanzines fans would not immediately benefit from my work.

However, the face value the offer is certainly true – you get to read the ones you work on.

If you’d like to participate, you need to do little more than set up a free account with DIY History, select an issue from the hundreds available, and dive in. It’s hard to guess what you might find within, but the possibilities are promising. As some of us still do today, the science fiction fans of decades past imagined different worlds, sometimes better ones. Retyping their words is a welcome reminder that we have yet to write our own future.

(6) YESTERDAY’S DAY

International Sloth Day

We missed this.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRLS

  • Born October 21, 1929 – Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Born October 21, 1956 – Carrie Fisher

(8) TAKING ONE FOR THE TEAM. Camestros Felapton has got himself a copy of Vox Day’s new book SJWs Always Double Down and penned a review titled “Reading Vox Day So You Don’t Have To…Again: Part 1”. Though not even Camestros takes that title literally – by the time he reaches Chapter 4 he’s writing:

Skim, skim, Google, skim, Twitter again (the social media platform so terrible that Vox came crawling back to it after his tantrum at Gab), some band I haven’t heard of. The chapter was supposed to be about ‘convergence’ but it was just another list of complaints.

(That being the case, it’s lucky for Camestros that this book seems to have only one Chapter 5.)

Did I mention that this chapter is called “The Convergence Sequence”. I guess I had assumed that previous chapter would be about that. Anyway this chapter is about how convergence happens (hint: women are all conspiring against Vox to get him). The previous chapter was “Convergence” so maybe chapter 4 was the first Chapter 5*

The convergence sequence, Vox claims, is this: 1. Infiltration. This is when women, oops sorry, “SJWs” join things and do work. Now you might think that would be both a good thing and inevitable that helpful, nice people predisposed to being helpful and nice would do things. This is bad though because then they’ll expect the think they joined to also be helpful and nice.

“SJWs are particularly drawn to HR in the corporate world and community management in the open source world, because these organizational roles tend to combine the two things that SJWs seek most, power over others and an absence of personal responsibility. They can also be found in volunteer roles; SJWs tend to have a lot of time on their hands and volunteering for the jobs that no one else wants to do is one of their favorite ways to make themselves appear indispensable to those who are in charge of the organization…. But if you want to identify the initial SJW in an organization, look for a longtime volunteer, usually female, who is quiet, selfless, well-regarded by everyone, and heavily relied upon by the leadership.”

See, I wasn’t being sarcastic earlier or even exaggerating. Note the key elements he sees as symptoms of being a “SJW” – not a tendency to quote Gramsci or use the term “intersectionality” or a hard to suppress desire to punch Nazis. Nope the key symptoms of Vox’s fear are:

  1. Being a woman (or ‘female’ as Vox says in what I presume is a Ferengi impression)
  2. Quiet
  3. Selfless
  4. Well-regarded by everyone
  5. Relied upon by leadership

I wonder if Vox ever reads the New Testament and if he does, does he shout “obvious SJW!” every so often.

(9) E.T.IQUETTE. John C. Wright tries to reconcile his preferences with contemporary practices in “A Courteous Note about Courtesy in Names”.

People with modern hence fake standards meeting someone loyal to older hence real standards are in the same position as that younger brother.

You have no idea what a cruel practical joke has been played on you by the modern inversion of the forms of courtesy, nor how much sincerity, fellowship, and elegance has been deliberately removed from the world.

But I am not a king nor a pope, so there is no reason why someone who knows me only through my public words and works should be required to address me by my Christian name.

It would be rather presumptuous of me to assume that I can impose the burdens of intimate friendship on you.

You have done me no wrong. Please do not fret over so minor a matter.

To which I should add a general word: I am prone to wrath, as it is one of my besetting sins, and would do well to avoid a sharp tongue. I find that, for myself, speaking formally to people who give a last name, and calling him by his last name, makes it easier to resist the temptation to be shrewish and rude.

A man or woman whose Internet handle is some presumptuous yet joking phrase or nickname is much harder to take seriously, and much harder for someone like me to treat seriously. I was able to keep my temper with Dr. Andreassen for years, or nearly so, despite his studied provocations, merely because I addressed him formally.

Someone with a dippy handle like “Gharlane of Backdoor” or “4ssclown Pharting” or “Visions-from-Trippy-High” inadvertently will create in me the impression the I am addressing a pimply and nasal sophomore in teeth braces with a dull sense of humor who is most likely on mood medication.

(10) DUBBING. Myke Cole supplies a caption for the iconic image from Blade Runner 2049:

(11) ALT SIGHT. Uprising Review’s unironic reference in their latest podcast to guest Jon Del Arroz as “the #1 Hispanic voice in science fiction” is more easily understood if you know that it recently devoted bandwidth to topics like “Help Fund A Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Charlottesville,” Dawn Witzke’s Dragon Con report, and a link roundup featuring JDA’s harassment of a Filer.

(12) I’M MELTING, MELTING. NPR explains why these are: “‘Impossible To Save’: Scientists Are Watching China’s Glaciers Disappear”.

Li calls out to scientists hiking nearly 1,000 feet above. In their bright parkas, they look like neon-colored ants. They call back, their voices bouncing off an ice and stone amphitheater that cradles the eastern glacier.

Scientists are the only people allowed here. The government has banned tourism on the glacier and shut down factories in the town below, laying off 7,000 workers to try to lessen the impact of pollution.

But local sources of pollution account for just 30 percent of the damage to glaciers, says Li. The other 70 percent is caused by global carbon emissions that have warmed the entire planet.

The central goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change — which the Trump administration has promised to pull the U.S. out of, but to which China is still a party — is to limit the rise in global average temperature to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Tianshan is one of those rare places where the impact of climate change policy can be measured and seen.

“If every country sticks to the emissions reductions in the Paris Agreement, these two glaciers will be around for another hundred years,” says Li. “If not, then temperatures will continue to rise, and the glacier we’re walking on? It’ll be gone in 50 years.”

(13) HIS FAMILIARS. The Washington Post’s Savannah Stephens has an interview with Philip Pullman about La Belle Sauvage, including why he wanted to write prequels to “His Dark Materials” and what is his personal daemon — “Philip Pullman on what drew him back to the world of His Dark Materials”.

Q: Who were you most excited to revisit besides Lyra?

A: Hannah Relf is someone who appears near the beginning and near the end of “His Dark Materials.” She’s a woman whom I like very much and someone I respect a great deal. I was glad to give her a part that’s important in “La Belle Sauvage.” She lends Malcolm books, and she’s interested in his life, his thoughts, his education. Her character pays tribute to an old lady who had a big house in the village that I used to live in when I was a boy. She took an interest in me, and she let me borrow books from her library. She had books on every wall — bookcases all through her house. She very generously allowed me to come and borrow a couple of books every week. She didn’t tell me, “Oh no, you can’t have that, dear. That’s not for you.” She said, “Take anything you like. Read anything you like. We’ll talk about it when you bring it back.” I thought that was so nice, so I gave that part to Hannah Relf.

(14) A GOOD PLACE TO CRASH. They don’t want anybody underneath when these come down: “The place spacecraft go to die”.

The equivalent point in the ocean – the place furthest away from land – lies in the South Pacific some 2,700km (1,680 miles) south of the Pitcairn Islands – somewhere in the no-man’s land, or rather no-man’s-sea, between Australia, New Zealand and South America.

This oceanic pole of inaccessibility is not only of interest to explorers, satellite operators are interested in it as well. That’s because most of the satellites placed in orbit around the Earth will eventually come down, but where?

Smaller satellites will burn up but pieces of the larger ones will survive to reach the Earth’s surface. To avoid crashing on a populated area they are brought down near the point of oceanic inaccessibility.

Scattered over an area of approximately 1,500 sq km (580 sq miles) on the ocean floor of this region is a graveyard of satellites. At last count there were more than 260 of them, mostly Russian.

The wreckage of the Mir space station lies there. It was launched in 1986 and was visited by many teams of cosmonauts and international visitors.

With a mass of 120 tonnes it was never going to burn up in the atmosphere, so it was ditched in the region in 2001 and was seen by some fishermen as a fragmenting mass of glowing debris racing across the sky.

(15) HAMMERING. According to the BBC: “Thor out of five: Marvel’s latest has critics raving”.

Thor is a case in point. Whether toplining his own films or chipping in as part of the Avengers ensemble, this relic from Norse mythology has always seemed out of step with the rest of the extended franchise.

By recognising and embracing his core ridiculousness, though, Thor: Ragnarok may have finally found a way to integrate the character and his world into the wider MCU landscape.

Despite taking its title from a Norse word for apocalypse, the latest Marvel film is a joyously irreverent hoot in which superhero heroics are almost an afterthought.

The scenes in which Chris Hemsworth’s Thor banters and bickers with the now-talking Hulk are a delight, as are any in which Jeff Goldblum appears as the ostensibly villainous but actually rather affable Grandmaster.

(16) LIGHTNING STRIKING AGAIN AND. It’s a jungle out there.

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

Pixel Scroll 11/1/16 We Have Scrolled The Pixel, And It Is Us

Mowatt Rhino run on Christmas

Mowatt ran to Save the Rhino on Christmas

(1) ANOTHER WAY TO HELP. Jim Mowatt’s rhino-saving run is now a book: From Parkrun To London Marathon: Running The London Marathon For Save The Rhino.

Some time ago I thought it would be a jolly good idea to run the London Marathon.I was fantastically excited about it and eager to consume every blog, book and youtube video I could find that contained any tiny morsel of information about the marathon. I consumed everything I could find and wanted more. Ideally I wanted a book that would relate how someone prepared for the marathon and give me a description of what it felt like to actually run the steps it would take to get around the streets of London. I couldn’t find what I wanted so I have now written the book that I wanted to read. It is now available on Amazon for anyone who might want an insight into how it feels to train for and run a marathon. I also describe the shorter runs that I did in the rhino costume.

The book is called, From Parkrun To London Marathon. Every penny I receive after Amazon have taken their cut will be sent to Save The Rhino International.

(2) READY TO WRIMO. Kameron Hurley says she’s finally gotten past an “epic brain freeze” – just in time for “NaNoNoNoNo”.

Finally, I was able to sit at the keyboard, in the dark, with a beer and a skull candle, and just completely inhabit another world. In my mind’s eye I was surfacing back in Nasheen again, running around a contaminated desert, dodging bursts and bombs, and trying not to care about my companions too much because the world had already ended and living was so very glorious. That’s the sort of writing experience I crave, when you feel like you’re not making things up so much as dictating a story as you’re living it in your head.

(3) MINNEAPOLIS WORLDCON BID. Emily Stewart announced there will be a Minneapolis in 2023 Open Discussion about a possible Worldcon bid on November 19.

If somebody could satisfy my curiosity about who in addition to Stewart is starting up the discussion, I’d appreciation knowing.

(4) CURSED CUBS IN SFF. With the Cubs staying alive for a couple more days, an article about the Cubs and Science Fiction… The Verge has an article about sf and fantasy stories that reference the Cubs’ World Series drought, including those by Jim Butcher. Andy Weir and John Scalzi.

(5) BASEBALL SEASON. Meantime, Steven H Silver invites you to gaze in amazement at his very long bibliography of baseball-referencing science fiction.

(6) CLARKE CENTER PODCAST. Launching today, Into the Impossible is a podcast of stories, ideas, and speculations from the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination.

Early episodes will take listeners through exciting, ranging conversations with and between scientists, artists, writers, and thinkers of different stripes, on the nature of imagination and how, through speculative culture, we create our future. The first episode includes Freeman Dyson (physicist and writer), David Kaiser (physicist, MIT), Rae Armantrout (Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, UCSD professor emeritus), and Brian Keating (astrophysicist, UCSD).

(7) JUST $79,000 SHORT. Jason Davis is asking Kickstarter donors for $100,000 to fund The Harlan Ellison Books Preservation Project, “To create definitive versions of all Harlan Ellison’s writings, fiction and non-fiction, to preserve in print for posterity.”

A digital library of Harlan’s entire literary oeuvre created from thousands of papers filed in his home office.

Harlan’s preference for working on manual typewriters from the instrument’s heyday through to his latest work has resulted in an astonishing volume of paper, much of it crammed into overstuffed drawers that often require the industry of two people to extract or—even more difficult—reinsert files.

While oft-reprinted stories like “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” and “Jeffty Is Five” exist as formal, preferred-text documents from which all reprints are set, many of Harlan’s more obscure pieces exist only as faded carbon copies on decaying yellow pages.

Some of the never-before-reprinted stories collected in HONORABLE WHOREDOM AT A PENNY A WORD and its sequel only exist on 60-year-old carbon copies of the original typescripts and, due to fading of the carbon impressions and yellowing of the paper, are almost illegible. Though one can usually reference the published version of a faded tale in Harlan’s copy of the original pulp magazine, itself exceedingly brittle, it’s preferable to work from the original, which might contain passages excised by the original editor upon initial, and often only, publication.

Jason Davis says the fruits of the project also would include —

At least five all-new Ellison collections.

In addition to reissuing the back catalog titles, there are several more HarlanEllisonBooks.com titles in various stages of completion.

Originally, I was hired as a freelance editor for the first four HarlanEllisonBooks.com releases, but the original publisher moved on and I arranged to continue the project. Since the 2012 release of ROUGH BEASTS and NONE OF THE ABOVE, the endeavor has been a deficit-financed operation wherein I, as editor and publishing associate, used all my free time (outside of my editorial day job) to collect, edit, layout, design, typeset, publish, and market new Ellison books (12 so far), with all expenses out of pocket. Only after the books are released do I receive payment via a commission (not unlike an agent’s) paid to me by Harlan, who is paid directly by our distributor two months after each individual book sells.

(8) NEW HECKEL BOOK. The Dark Lord Jack Heckel, an author covered here by Carl Slaughter, is on sale today from Harper Voyager Impulse.

After spending years as an undercover, evil wizard in the enchanted world of Trelari, Avery hangs up the cloak he wore as the Dark Lord and returns to his studies at Mysterium University. On the day of his homecoming, Avery drunkenly confides in a beautiful stranger, telling her everything about his travels. When Avery awakens, hungover and confused, he discovers that his worst nightmare has come true: the mysterious girl has gone to Trelari to rule as a Dark Queen. Avery must travel back to the bewitched land and liberate the magical creatures . . . but in order to do so, he has to join forces with the very people who fought him as the Dark Lord.

(9) TODAY’S BELATED BIRTHDAY LAB

Eighty years ago, when interplanetary travel was still a fiction and that fiction looked like Flash Gordon, seven young men drove out to a dry canyon wash in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and helped jump-start the Space Age.

They were out there on Halloween 1936 to try what few people at the time had tried: lighting a liquid rocket engine. It took them four attempts to get a rocket to fire for a glorious three seconds — though an oxygen hose also broke loose and sent them scampering for safety as it thrashed around.

The result was encouraging enough for this group — made up of five grad students studying at Caltech and two amateur rocket enthusiasts — to keep going, to build more rockets that would lead to an institution where they could do this kind of work every day.

(10)  THE CRITIC. James Davis Nicoll reprinted his list of rejected ideas for review series which includes categories like —

  • Least Believable Teenaged Girl Protagonist Written by a Man
  • Beloved Classics That Make Modern Readers Say “What the Helling Hell, Old Time SF Fans?”
  • SF Books She Wrote and He Took the Credit For
  • Hard SF Ain’t Nothing But Nonsense Misspelled

(11) FOUND IN TRANSLATION. When Newsweek invites you to “Meet the Man Bringing Chinese Science Fiction to the West”, it’s Ken Liu they’re talking about.

As Xia Jia, an award-winning sci-fi writer and lecturer in Chinese literature, puts it in the essay that closes Invisible Planets, Chinese sci-fi since the 1990s “can be read as a national allegory in the age of globalization.” But Liu argues that the everyday problems encoded by speculative stories in China apply just as much in the West. “People’s lives tend to be dominated by the same considerations…petty bureaucracy, how to make a living, how to give your children a good education…how to adjust to a radically changing society.”

(12) DRAGON AWARDS TAKING NOMINATIONS.  Thanks to Camestros Felapton, we know the Dragon Awards site has been updated its to accept nominations for the 2017 awards. Eligible works are those first released between 7/1/2016 and 6/30/2017.

Welcome to the second annual Dragon Awards! A way to recognize excellence in all things Science Fiction and Fantasy. These awards will be by the fans, for the fans, and are your chance to reward those who have made real contributions to SF, books, games, comics, and shows. There is no qualification for submitting nominations or voting – no convention fees or other memberships are needed. The only requirement is that you register, confirm your email address for tracking nominations and voting purposes, and agree to the rules. This ensures that all votes count equally.

Once you have submitted a nomination for a category you cannot change it. If you are not sure about a category, then leave it blank. You can come back at a later date and add nominations for any category you leave blank using this same form. Make sure your name (First and Last), and the email address match your original submission. No need to fill in your original nominations, the form will append the new nominations to your prior list.

Nomination Deadline: July 24, 2017. We encourage you to get your nominations in early.

(13) LATE ADOPTER. Is TV narration for blind people really a thing?

(14) AIRBRUSHED COSTUME. This is what it looks like when it’s Halloween and your dad is Dan Dos Santos.

I introduced Uno to ‘Akira’ a few weeks ago, and we both immediately thought he’d make a great Tetsuo. He doesn’t care that none of his friends will know who he is.

uno-by-dan-dos-santos

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Tom Galloway, JJ, Steven H Silver, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Pixel Scroll 10/30/16 Now When Them Pixel Scrolls Get Rotten, You Can’t Tick Very Much Cotton

(1) A GAME THAT WILL MAKE YOU TINGLE. Jamoche brings to everyone’s attention Zoe Quinn’s crowdfunding appeal, Kickstarted in the Butt: A Chuck Tingle Digital Adventure:

Zoe Quinn is making a game inspired by Chuck Tingle: Project Tingler [True Name Concealed Until Release to Protect From Dark Magics] is a brilliant blend of classic adventure games, dating sims, and the world of Amazon Kindle Sensation and Hugo Award Nominee Dr. Chuck Tingle (Space Raptor Butt Invasion; Slammed in the Butthole by My Concept of Linear Time; Pounded in the Butt by My Hugo Award Loss) from game developer Zoë Quinn (Depression Quest; Framed; Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow’s Walk), to be released on computrons of the PC/Mac variety in early 2017.

In case you wondered, they say the game’s visuals will be restrained —

GET TINGLED BY OUR CUSTOM SMUT! The very nature of the Tingleverse is The Rawest of Graphic Sensualities, but players who aren’t down with visual depictions of sexual content needn’t fear. While we’re working with video and real actors (the cast will most certainly SURPRISE and AMAZE you), there won’t be explicit footage of people taking a trip to bonetown. Our salacious scenes are literary in nature and read aloud by talented performers, intended to pound the most sexual of your organs…Your imagination.

To date she has raised $36,958 of the $69,420 goal, with 16 days to go.

(2) FRENCH WORLCON BID. Here’s a video of the Worldcon in France presentation at Utopiales yesterday. Hint: It’s not in English.

(3) FILLION. At Digital Trends, “Nathan Fillion on ‘Firefly,’ mastering selfies, and living the Con life”.

How big a fan boy were you growing up?

There were things that I really enjoyed. I lived half an hour from school. I got out at 3:30 and my favorite show, Gilligan’s Island, started at 4:00. Because in the winter time that little tropical island was the only reprieve I had from the snow. But you had to haul ass to make that trip in a half an hour. You had to move. You couldn’t walk or you’d miss half the show. So it was a half hour run to get home to see Gilligan’s Island at 4:00. That was a big deal to me. We didn’t have access back then the way people have access now. People can get online and see when someone’s going to be in their city. The convention circuit is huge now. But it wasn’t a big deal back then. People weren’t connected the way they are now. And on top of all that you can just get online and say, “Hey, what’s Bob Denver thinking about today?” If Bob Denver had a Twitter, I’d know what he was doing.

(4) SFWA AND INDIE. Cat Rambo’s hometown paper published an interview with a great photo of her: “Science fiction author Cat Rambo helps expand genre”.

With changes in who writers are and where they’re from, there’s also changes in how people are reading science fiction. Traditional publishers are nervous when it comes to e-books, but that is where quite a bit of the market is going, Rambo says. A year and a half ago, SFWA voted to allow in independent publishers that meet certain criteria. The organization can help increase awareness for lesser-known authors.

“I think self-publishing will become more and more accessible,” she says. “The biggest issue those authors have is discoverability. Once you have more gatekeepers saying what’s good, it gets easier.”

She reads an extremely high number of books each month — somewhere between 50 and 100 — and about 80 percent of those are e-books. That doesn’t mean print books don’t have a future, though. Print books can continue to push the boundary of the definition of a book, Rambo says. The can blend books and games, for instance, or expand what a book looks like through changing fonts, how words appear or what’s included in a text.

(5) HALLOWEEN READING. Cat Rambo has posted a free story suitable for the holiday, “The Silent Familiar”.

The Wizard Niccolo was not happy. At the age of 183 — youthful for a wizard, but improbable for an ordinary human — he had thought certain things well out of his life. Sudden changes in his daily routine were one. And romance was another – even if it was his familiar’s romance, and not his own.

(6) FERTILITY. And, says Cat, put in a link to Will Kaufman’s “October’s Son” in Lightspeed Magazine, perfectly timed for Halloween and also free to read.

No excerpt, which would give away the story, so let me quote from Arley Sorg’s interview with Kaufman in the same issue:

This piece is full of surprises and frank, unsettling images, which is part of what makes it so effective. To me, it never goes too far or becomes gratuitous. What, for you, are the benefits and the hazards, or perhaps the challenges, of surprise and shock?

In a short story, visceral imagery can be a great tool. Short stories don’t give the writer a lot of time to work a wedge into the reader’s brain so you can split it open and fiddle around inside. A solid visceral image is a very fast, effective way to do that. Reading is often portrayed as an intellectual activity, but it can also be very bodily. Nothing reminds people of that, or grounds them in their bodies and short-wires the defenses that separate mind from body, quite like a little body horror.

tz-books

(7) BEFORE THEY WROTE FOR TZ: MeTV says there are “8 books any fan of The Twilight Zone should read”, such as —

Richard Matheson – ‘Nightmare At 20,000 Feet: Horror Stories By Richard Matheson’

In his introduction, Stephen King describes Matheson’s influence on the horror genre in the 1950s as “a bolt of pure ozone lightning.” The master also confesses that without Matheson, he “wouldn’t be around.” This modern collection largely draws from the 1950s, with some 1960s shorts thrown in as well, keeping it contemporary with Twilight Zone. Matheson was the mind behind other classic episodes like “Third from the Sun,” “Nick of Time,” “The Invaders,” “Night Call” and more.

(8) CREATING THE CREATOR. What happened to Rod Serling before TZ also has a lot to do with why he created the series: “The psychological trauma that Rod Serling suffered after WW2 inspired him to creat ‘The Twilight Zone’”.

In his senior year of high school, he was interested in joining the military, enlisting after graduation. He served as a U.S. army paratrooper and demolition specialist with the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 11th Airborne Division.

His military service was a turning point in his life and influenced much of his writing, experiencing combat for the first time in November 1944 on the Philippine island of Leyte. When he was discharged in 1946, Serling had earned the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and Philippine Liberation Medal.

Nightmares and flashbacks of his wartime experiences haunted Serling constantly once he returned. One particular event while serving in World War II would dramatically change his life and writings….

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 30, 1938 — Orson Welles triggered a national panic with a realistic radio dramatization of a Martian invasion, based on H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds.” The wire service news story about the event began —

NEW YORK, Oct. 30, 1938 (UP) — Residents of New Jersey fled their homes tonight, squad cars and ambulances roared through Newark and newspaper and press association offices throughout the country were besieged with telephone calls demanding to know about “a meteor which fell in New Jersey.”

The uproar resulted from a radio dramatization of H.G. Wells’ novel, “The War of the Worlds,” in which the arrival of men from Mars upon earth at first is believed to be a meteor shower.

welles-1938

(10) NOVELLA DISCUSSION ON REDDIT. Reddit user jddennis has created a subreddit for people to discuss SFF novellas: https://www.reddit.com/r/Spec_Fic_Novella_Club/

The first two being discussed are:

The Warren by Brian Evenson <https://www.reddit.com/r/Spec_Fic_Novella_Club/comments/5a1ciw/discussion_the_warren_by_brian_evenson/> and

Folding Beijing by Jingfang Hao <https://www.reddit.com/r/Spec_Fic_Novella_Club/comments/5a1c5b/discussion_folding_beijing_by_jingfang_hao/>.

(11) ROCKS. Brad R. Torgersen has an excellent column on the importance of persistence to a writer —  “It takes a lot of rocks to get to the candy” — at Mad Genius Club.

My wife and I coordinated our Halloween costumes this year, to correspond with It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! She’s Lucy, complete with red witch hat and green witch mask; both custom-made — my wife is just talented as hell like that. My outfit, on the other hand, is far simpler: Charlie Brown — to include the white sheet with way too many eye holes. A family friend commented to me (tonight, at the local ward party) that all I needed to complete my portion, was a football, and a paper sack filled with rocks.

I’ve use the sack-full-of-rocks analogy before, to describe what it’s like being an aspiring author….

Yeah, I get it. No sane person gets a sack full of rocks every single year, and doesn’t experience moments of severe doubt. I was getting ready to throw in the towel by 2005 — after over a dozen years of rejection — when my wife said to me, “If you let this dream go, you have to replace it with an equal or better dream.” I ultimately couldn’t do that, because I couldn’t turn off the story-generator in my head. Even if my storytelling chops weren’t yet good enough to take what was happening in my head, and smoothly translate it to words. So I redoubled my effort. And I switched up my style. Moving from third-person to first-person — especially for short stories — was a huge win for me. Uncomfortable as hell, at first. But it was the necessary move that helped me bump my short work into entry-level professional territory. So that by 2010 I had stuff under contract, with more on the way, and a bona fide career was launched.

And because I still had all those sacks filled with rocks, I could look at them and relish the (then, new) candy suddenly being thrown my way….

(12) AWARD FANAC. Jugger Grimrod continues “The Hugo Conversation (Hugo Awards 2016)” at silence is a weapon.

Once I started thinking about Fandom in these terms, it occurred to me that voting on awards is just as much a Fan activity as any of those others. Voting, in this case, doesn’t just mean checking boxes and clicking submit on a form, it means the whole process: researching potential candidates, nominating, reviewing and ranking nominees, presenting the awards, celebrating the winners, and examining all of the voting statistics afterwards. Different voters may emphasize different parts of the process, but they all put time and effort into it, just like Fans of other activities.

So when we talk about a Fan-voted award, we aren’t talking about a random sampling of Fans from across Fandom. We aren’t talking about a group that was selected on some basis, they aren’t necessarily more knowledgeable than anyone else and they don’t have an agenda to push. The core Voter Fan group is unified only by the fact that they enjoy participating in awards. They don’t make up the whole voter population, there will also be occasional participants who are either trying it to see if they enjoy it, or they joined the group for some other reason and they’re voting just because they can, or because they do have a particular story, author or agenda to push (obviously this has been an issue recently). So Voter Fandom doesn’t automatically control the outcome of any particular vote, but they’re usually going to be an influential voice in the proceedings.

This explains why a relatively small group of Fans determines the outcome of some major awards. It’s just not an activity that attracts a big crowd….

(13) THESE ARE THE JOKES, FOLKS. The New York Post reveals “Mel Brooks’ hilarious secrets behind the making of ‘Young Frankenstein’”.

Mel’s mother was funnier than he is.

Mel was 5 years old in 1931 when he saw Boris Karloff in “Frankenstein.” He was so terrified he asked his mother, Kate, if he could sleep with the window by the fire escape closed in their Brooklyn apartment. It was 90 degrees outside, but Mel thought the monster would come through the window and eat him.

His mother thought for a moment and said, “The monster lives in Romania . . . Romania is not near the ocean. He’s going to have to go a long way to get to a boat. Then he has to have money to pay for his passage. He may not have any money if he is just a monster. He may not have pockets. Let’s say he gets a boat to America. The boat may go to Miami. But if it goes to New York and he gets off, he doesn’t know the subway system. Let’s say he gets to Brooklyn. He doesn’t know our street. Let’s say he does find our street. The people on the first floor have their window open. If he’s hungry, he is going to eat who’s ever on the first floor.”

(14) PEN PAL. Camestros Felapton becomes a story doctor in “Tmothy and the publishing delay”.

“Never mind all that – I need you to think of an ending for my book.” grumbled the cat, who now sat on his haunches in front of the specially cat-adapted keyboard.

“Your book?” I asked. Timothy’s book? I had announced Timothy’s book some weeks ago and it was originally going to be a domestic drama called the “Confusing Walrus” based on unsubtle plagiarism of a John Scalzi space-opera, which had led to some excitement among Timothy’s inexplicable following. The capricious cat had then forced me to retract that announcement because the supposedly “finished” book was now going to be a cook-book called the “Collapsing Souffle”.

[Thanks to JJ, Gregory N. Hullender, John King Tarpinian, Cat Rambo, and Jamoche for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day RedWombat.]

Pixel Scroll 10/24/16 I’m Free. I’m Free, And Waiting For Scroll To Pixel Me

(1) KEEP ON FIBBING. Diana Pharaoh Francis says according to “Writer Club Rules: Truth is No Excuse” in a post at Book View Café.

That’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, that truth is no excuse for fiction. I’ve had students who want to fictionalize a real story and then have found themselves floundering because true things are often too unbelievable to work in fiction. Fiction needs to make sense. It needs to be plausible. Reality doesn’t. That’s why the saying, Stranger Than Fiction.

(2) SACRED QUESTER. In “Is This Economist Too Far Ahead of His Time?” in the October 16 Chronicle of Higher Education, David Wescott profiles Robin Hanson about The Age of Em, including where Hanson gets his wild ideas, how Hanson hopes to write sf someday, and how fans accost him with ideas about “transcension and living in blocks of computronium.”

Hanson considers himself something of an exception to that rule and has described his mission as a “sacred quest, to understand everything, and to save the world.” He argues that academics are primarily devoted to signaling their own importance, and not necessarily to the pursuit of intellectual progress. “We lie about why we go to prestigious colleges as students, we lie about why we fund research, we lie about why we do research … we lie about lots of things,” he says. “We are so tempted to bullshit and give the most noble reason for why we do things.”

For academics who do actually care about intellectual progress more than “prestige, promotions, salaries, funding, lots of students, and roaring crowds,” Hanson says, there is a lot of freedom.

For him it’s the freedom to study things like immortality, aliens, and what to do if you suspect you are living in a computer simulation. “There are important silly subjects,” he says. And while most academics shy away from silly, “silly doesn’t equal unimportant.”

(3) GHOSTBUSTER. Fox News reports “Bill Murray honored as he accepts Mark Twain prize for humor” in a ceremony at the Kennedy Center on Sunday night.

There were plenty of laughs at Murray’s expense in evening that took on the tone of a gentle roast. Jimmy Kimmel, Aziz Ansari, Sigourney Weaver and Steve Martin were among those who ribbed Murray for being aloof, unpredictable and difficult to reach — and somehow still lovable.

“I think you and I are about as close as two people can be, considering that one of them is you,” Martin said in a video tribute.

(4) TEPPER OBIT. Shari S. Tepper (1929-2016) died October 22 reports Locus Online.  The author of over 40 novels, Tepper received a lifetime achievement award from the World Fantasy Convention just last year.

John Scalzi paid tribute at Whatever:

Also a bit depressing: That Tepper, while well-regarded, is as far as I can tell generally not considered in the top rank of SF/F writers, which is a fact I find completely flummoxing. Her novel Grass has the sort of epic worldbuilding and moral drive that ranks it, in my opinion, with works like Dune and Perdido Street Station and the Earthsea series; the (very) loose sequel to GrassRaising the Stones, is in many ways even better, and the fact that Stones is currently out of print is a thing I find all sorts of appalling.

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born October 24, 1893 — Film producer-director Merian Cooper (the original “King Kong”).
  • Born October 24, 1915 — Bob Kane, creator of Batman.

(6) FREER’S SCAPEGOAT OF THE WEEK. Remember when Dave Freer used to teach about writing in his column at Mad Genius Club? Me neither.

Here am I, in the esteemed company of such luminaries in my field as Larry Correia and John C Wright, as winners of the Wally Award, an honor I will treasure – because it isn’t every day I find myself lumped with authors that I try to learn from and imitate, and I hear some terribly tragic news.

There’s no doubt that being singled out by none other than Damien Walter of ‘The Grauniad’, a newspaper whose reputation for unbiased journalism is only rivaled by Pravda, legendary for its typos and grammos (hence Grauniad, rather than The Guardian), and with research and factual quality which is mentioned in the same breath as News of the World and Beano (although they cannot seriously compete with Beano in the opinion of most people of an IQ above ‘sheep, dim (Merino)’) and whose sf/fantasy correspondent’s effect on the sales and livelihoods of sf and fantasy authors has been equated with file 770. The last comparison I feel unfair, because despite Damien’s tiny readership his attempts to harm my career and ability to make a living, he actually had some effect on my sales, with his hatred of my unread work improving sales for me. It is for this reason I find the news that the floundering ‘Grauniad’ (the Venezuela of mainstream print media, which is running out of other people’s money) seems to have dispensed with his services, so sad.

(7) CLOSE CALLS. The BBC interviews Megan Bruck Syal about avoiding extinction by asteroid.

Sixty-five million years ago, a catastrophic impact forever changed the environmental landscape of Earth – and there was no way to see it coming.

This Earth-bound asteroid – or maybe several – changed the course of millions of years of evolution, altered the composition of our atmosphere – and the geology of Central America for good measure.

To prevent a similar event, we need to be prepared. Megan Bruck Syal, postdoctoral researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, works on the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (Aida) – which, for the first time, will test how effective a kinetic impact mission would be in altering the course of an Earth-bound asteroid.

“It’s not a matter of if an asteroid will impact again, but when,” says Bruck Syal. “Planetary defence began to be an issue when more and more near-Earth asteroids began to be discovered.”

She warns of close calls, like the Chelyabinsk meteorite – which in 2013 made international headlines when it left hundreds of people injured and damaged thousands of buildings in Russia. “It really captured the world’s attention because no one saw it coming. And it was pretty small yet it still did a lot of damage for its size.”

(8) BLABBY MCBLABFACE. Apparently, if you want to know what’s happening in season 7 of Game of Thrones, it would not be too hard to find out — “MAJOR SPOILERS: The Entire Plot of ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7 May Have Been Leaked on Reddit”.

A brave Redditor named awayforthelads dumped what appears to be the entire plot of Season 7 onto the Freefolk subreddit. The subreddit has a long history of being the go-to place for Thrones leaks and last season was incredibly reliable at thoroughly spoiling almost every detail of Season 6.

As further proof of authenticity, awayforthelads has deleted his account, presumably to evade the wrath of HBO.

And actress Nathalie Emmanuel, who plays Daenerys Targaryen’s beautiful handmaiden Missandei, appears also to have confirmed the authenticity of the leak on Twitter:

(9) COSPAIN. Apparently it’s not a favorite holiday for some: “University of Florida offers counseling for students offended by Halloween costumes”.

Halloween can be scary, but it can also be… offensive?

The University of Florida wants students to know that counseling is available for students hoping to work past any offense taken from Halloween costumes.

“Some Halloween costumes reinforce stereotypes of particular races, genders, cultures, or religions. Regardless of intent, these costumes can perpetuate negative stereotypes, causing harm and offense to groups of people,” the school administration wrote in a blog post. “If you are troubled by an incident that does occur, please know that there are many resources available.”

(10) THE ETHICS OF ASTRONOMICAL ART. NPR feature: “Out of This World: How Artists Imagine Planets Yet Unseen”. There’s a brief shout-out to Bonestell, but the artists interviewed aren’t likely to be known to fans.

“It’s tricky with computer graphics,” says Ray Villard, news director for the Space Telescope Science Institute. “You can make stuff in such extraordinary detail, people might think it’s real. People might think we’ve actually seen these features — canyons, all kinds of lakes and rivers.”

“The point of these illustrations is to create excitement, to grab the general public’s attention. But there is a danger that many people sometimes do mistake some of these illustrations for real photos,” agrees Luis Calçada, an artist with the European Southern Observatory’s education and public outreach department.

“Many, many astronomers actually do see this danger on this kind of illustration,” he says, “because it might create false images on people’s minds.”

(11) FIRE WHEN READY. NPR reports on experiments planned for the ISS, including deliberately starting a fire in the cargo ship in “Gotcha: Space Station Grabs Onto NASA’s 5,100-Pound Cargo Craft”.

Astronauts used the International Space Station’s robotic arm to grapple the Cygnus cargo spacecraft early Sunday morning, starting the process of bringing more than 5,100 pounds of supplies and research equipment aboard. The cargo’s experiments include one thing astronauts normally avoid: fire.

“The new experiments include studies on fire in space, the effect of lighting on sleep and daily rhythms, collection of health-related data, and a new way to measure neutrons,” NASA says.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/11/16 When An Unscrollable Pixel Meets An Irretickable File

(1) THE PAST THROUGH YESTERDAY. Dave Langford recalls his experiences at the Milford (UK) writers workshop three decades ago in “Mr Langford’s Milfords”

My Milford attendance record was nothing to write home about, let alone pad out to a six-volume fantasy trilogy.  All “my” Milfords were in the early though not the earliest days at the Compton Hotel, Milford-on-Sea. The Langford era ran from 1977 to 1984, skipping 1979 because that year’s UK Worldcon led to Milford being cancelled, and missing the 1983 event as a personal decision after long and painful study of my credit card statement.

Dave also heartily recommends Christopher Priest’s July post, “The Prequels”:

The misbehaviour of those middle-aged writers at Milford was in fact more or less as described, although I did leave out the bit where one of the most famous writers stormed out in a rage, where two others went for a midnight swim but afterwards couldn’t remember where they’d left their clothes … and when someone suddenly appeared at dinner dressed only in a black plastic bin-liner. No, that was another year.

(2) TYPO IN BRONZE. The Heinlein Society reports a typo was discovered on the dedication plaque of Robert Heinlein’s bust in the Hall of Famous Missourians, and a corrected plaque has now been installed.

(3) CONVERGENCE. Pukeko tries to relate his notions about political reality to Stross’ creation the Laundry Files, and Stross’ own politics, in “The turning is progressing as expected” at Dark Brightness.

The Laundry, on one level, is a horror urban fantasy. On another level, a spy story, And on the third, it has become a satire of the pretensions of the British Civil Service. The British Civil Service still is a good reason to move to than Antipodes.

But there is a tide in the seasons of man, and his neo-liberal political model — which he hates — is becoming one with the Soviet and Tyre. The Luddites he despises are on the flood. And the organisations he writes about, supports, and have his loyalty are converging, which means they are becoming unreliable, without utility, and forked….

Stross and I are of an age. Our youth was the time of Thatcher, Gorbachev, Clinton and brush wars in failing states. Our leaders became neo conservatives, including the converged leftist ones, and broke the social contract of the welfare state. We remember the welfare state. And we remember the Christmas strikes.

But that world has gone, along with the rules that made our society decent, functional, and allowed us to align with those who did not have the same religion, politics or lifestyle. The current social justice cadre instead demand we all double down and quackspeak.

My fear is that Stross will do this. I would much rather he pull the plot off, as he did when he introduced vampirism into the world. He moved too far into the uncanny valley with the last book. I want his cynical, but believable, Bob back. He is too good a writer to quack. And he does not deserve to go down with this death dealing elite.

(4) KEEP THAT RED NOSE UNDER COVER. McDonald’s downplays Ronald McDonald while ‘creepy clown’ sightings spread, reports the Los Angeles Times.

(5) SPACE TOURISM. Carl Slaughter points out —

Hidden Universe Travel Guides: Star Trek: Vulcan
by Star Trek novelist Dayton Ward

Plan your next trip to the planet Vulcan! Find restaurants that serve the best fried sandworms and Vulcan port. Take a trip to the Fire Plains or experience spring break at the Voroth Sea. Learn all about the native Vulcan people and their unusual customs. Discover how to correctly perform the traditional Vulcan salutation (you really don’t want to get this wrong). Learn key Vulcan phrases such as Nam-tor puyan-tvi-shal wilat: “Where is your restroom?” Find out what to do if you suddenly find yourself host to a katra—a Vulcan’s living spirit—at an inconvenient moment. All this and more can be found within the pages of this essential travel guide to one of the most popular—and logical—destinations in the known universe.

This Hidden Universe travel guide draws on 50 years of Star Trek TV shows, films, and novels to present a comprehensive guide to Spock’s iconic home world. Modeled after real-world travel guides, the book will explore every significant region on Vulcan with fascinating historical, geographical, and cultural insights that bring the planet to life like never before. Also featuring a dynamic mixture of classic Star Trek imagery and original illustrations created exclusively for the book, Hidden Universe Travel Guide: Star Trek: Vulcan is the perfect way to celebrate 50 years of Star Trek and will thrill pop culture fans and hardcore Star Trek fans alike.

(6) HOLD ON TO THE LIGHT. Cat Rambo has posted her contribution to the HoldOnToTheLight campaign, “Nattering Social Justice Cook: Be Kind to Yourself”.

I’ve found that writers excel at angst and guilt, at worrying at 2 am over whether or not they stuck their foot in their mouth (human nature being what it is, the answer is sometimes yes), at being anxious and projecting futures far out of proportion to actuality in their horror.

They’re also tough on themselves, holding themselves to sometimes impossible standards. It involves being willing to forgive yourself and the illness you live with, to not just know yourself but be comfortable with yourself.

(7) IN THE BEGINNING. EverydayFangirl interviewed Lois McMaster Bujold on her early fannish life:

When do you realize you were a Fangirl?

LMB:

Before the term “fangirl” was invented. I started reading science fiction for grownups at about age nine, because my father, an engineering professor, used to buy the magazines and books to read on the plane when he went on consulting trips, and they fell to me. Got my first subscription to Analog Magazine at age 13. So when Star Trek came along in 1966, when I was in high school, the seed fell on already-fertile ground; it was an addition, not a revelation. At last, SF on TV that was almost as good as what I was reading, a miracle! I would have just called myself a fan then, or a reader, ungendered terms I note.

In my entire high school of 1,800 students, there was only one other genre reader I knew of (later we expanded to 4 or 6), my best friend Lillian, and she only because we traded interests; I got history from her, she got F&SF from me. So there was no one to be fans with, for the first while.

(8) GHOST OF HALLOWEENS PAST. The Los Angeles Times invites readers to “See what’s killing haunted houses and other independent Halloween attractions”

For every success like Carbone’s, there are several mom-and-pop haunted attractions that have been killed off by mounting insurance and other expenses, as well as extensive government regulations…

“It’s getting so expensive that unless you have $100,000 to put into it and $30,000 into the marketing, you are not going to make it,” said Jeff Schiefelbein, chief executive of Sinister Pointe Productions, and Orange County company that builds haunted attractions for theme parks and individual entrepreneurs.

(9) KAIJU IN THEATERS THIS WEEK. Shin Godzilla, the latest addition to the mythos, is having a limited theatrical run with subtitles right now in the US and Canada.

Make way for the ultimate homage to one of the most enduring legends of the big screen—Godzilla! The King of the Monsters is back in Tokyo for a city-crushing crusade that speaks to the very roots of the world-renowned franchise.

It’s a peaceful day in Japan when a strange fountain of water erupts in the bay, causing panic to spread among government officials. At first, they suspect only volcanic activity, but one young executive dares to wonder if it may be something different… something alive. His worst nightmare comes to life when a massive, gilled monster emerges from the deep and begins tearing through the city, leaving nothing but destruction in its wake. As the government scrambles to save the citizens, a rag-tag team of volunteers cuts through a web of red tape to uncover the monster’s weakness and its mysterious ties to a foreign superpower. But time is not on their side—the greatest catastrophe to ever befall the world is about to evolve right before their very eyes.

(10) UNDERRATING INDIES. Amanda S. Green gives a Passive Voice columnist a stern talking to about his short-selling indie authors in “Oh my, are they protesting too much” at Mad Genius Club.

Yesterday, when I started looking for something to blog about, I made my way over to The Passive Voice. TPV is an excellent source of information for every author out there, traditionally published or indie. One post in particular caught my eye. It asks the question we have heard asked so many times over the last few years: Are self-published books inferior to professionally published books?

Now, without even reading the article, I knew I wasn’t going to like the post TPV had linked to. The title of the article itself shows a bias, not by TPV but by the author of the article TPV linked to. It assumes that self-published books, what we call indies, aren’t professionally published. Take that one step further. By phrasing the headline the way it did, the author of the article signals from the beginning that indies aren’t as professional or as good as traditionally published books. Otherwise, why not rephrase the title of the article as “are self-published books inferior to traditionally published books?”

So, without even reading the underlying article, my back is up. I can’t speak for anyone except myself but I am a professional writer. I make money from writing, enough to pay my bills. I simply chose not to take the traditional publishing route. That does not make me any less of a professional than any other writer who has chosen to try to find an agent, get a contract and publish with one of the Big 5 publishers.

(11) ALL OVER BUT THE SHOUTING. Jim C. Hines adds his observations about the Weingart/Worldcon 75 controversy.

The Beale Effect: I’m bemused at how effectively Theodore Beale managed to unite Worldcon and Weingart, both of whom came together as if to say, “Oh hell no. F**k that guy.” As soon as Beale jumped in, Weingart pulled his posts, Worldcon called Weingart to apologize, then posted their public apology. It pretty much ended the public dispute right there.

Tuesday-Afternoon Quarterbacking: I wasn’t there, and I wasn’t part of the decision-making process. But as I understand it, Weingart notified the staff from the beginning that the other individual had set boundaries about not wanting to interact or work with him. Bringing Weingart on but restricting his interactions seems like a solution destined to cause problems. If this other individual was already working for the con, my hindsight solution would be to simply not bring Weingart on staff. Yeah, it might mean losing a good volunteer in Weingart, but it would have more effectively respected the other individual’s boundaries, and would have avoided the mess that eventually followed.

(12) PLUTO’S NEW PAL ISN’T GOOFY. The discovery-by-software of another dwarf planet: “A Friend For Pluto: Astronomers Find New Dwarf Planet In Our Solar System”.

Scientists in Michigan have found a new dwarf planet in our solar system.

It’s about 330 miles across and some 8.5 billion miles from the sun. It takes 1,100 years to complete one orbit.

But one of the most interesting things about the new object, known for the time being as 2014 UZ224, is the way astronomers found it.

David Gerdes of the University of Michigan led the team that found the new dwarf planet. Gerdes describes himself as “an adult-onset astronomer,” having started his scientific career as a particle physicist.

He helped develop a special camera called the Dark Energy Camera that the U.S. Department of Energy commissioned to make a map of distant galaxies.

A few years ago, Gerdes had some undergraduates visiting him for the summer. He decided to give them a project: He asked them if they could find some solar system objects lurking in the galaxy map.

Chip Hitchcock joked, “Clyde Tombaugh is spinning in his grave and grumbling ‘You punks don’t know how easy you have it these days!’”

(13) X MARKS THE SPOTS. “Why Are There X’s In The Desert?” In the first place, you probably never knew there were. But for the high-tech answer, you need to search back to the Cold War.

We step out in the searing heat and into a desolate landscape — just cactus and tumbleweed.

“Middle of nowhere,” Penson says.

We walk toward the base of a small mountain range, and that’s when we see it: four 25-foot slabs of concrete inlaid in the desert floor that form a giant “X.”

Penson kneels down to brush off the sand covering a tarnished brass plate at the very center. The engraving reads: “$250 fine or imprisonment for disturbing this marker — Corps of Engineers – U.S. Army.”

That’s who Penson and Owen contacted to get their answer.

These X’s were once part of a top-secret government program called CORONA — the nation’s first reconnaissance satellite program.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Cat Rambo, John King Tarpinian, Mark-kitteh and Petréa Mitchell for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Heather Rose Jones.]