Pixel Scroll 2/18/16 Pixel Bell Rock

(1) INTERNET HIGHWAY ROBBERY. Chuck Wendig tees off on a Huffington Post UK editor who preens about not paying their 13,000 contributors.

Because it isn’t “authentic.” To pay writers.

You toxic tickledicks.

You venomous content-garglers.

You thieves, you brigands, you media lampreys.

Let us expose this hot nonsense for what it is: a lie meant to exploit writers and to puff up that old persistent myth about the value of exposure or the joy of the starving artist or the mounting power of unpaid citizen journalism.

The lie is this: writing is not work, it is not fundamental, it is a freedom in which you would partake anyway, and here some chucklefuck would say, haw haw haw, you blog at your blog and nobody pays you, you post updates on Twitter and nobody pays you, you speak words into the mighty air and you do it for free, free, free. And Huffington Post floats overhead in their bloated dirigible and they yell down at you, WE BROADCAST TO MILLIONS and DON’T YOU WANT TO REACH MILLIONS WITH YOUR MEAGER VOICE and THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU.

But it is an opportunity for them, not for you.

But it seemed to me after a strong start Wendig’s rant winds down and loses headway:

Writing is work. Most things begin with writing. Though I find writing a pleasure, it is also a thing that requires great mental effort. It is not mere content — that word said almost dismissively, as if it is a synonym for styrofoam peanuts. (And by the way: you actually have to buy styrofoam peanuts. They aren’t free unless you rob them from boxes shipped to you.) Content is not slurry. It’s not protein goo. It’s not mud or air or some readily available resource…

Intrinsic value and market value are different things. While I don’t think Chuck Wendig believes all writing has the same market value, or necessarily any market value, it seems to me he has conflated spiritual and economic value in this paragraph.

Wendig is right that Huffington Post capitalizes on uncompensated labor, of course. If HuffPo is making money, that establishes that the content collectively has some market value. Since none of that value flows through to the contributor, you can argue an injustice.

But are all these contributors trying to launch writing careers? I do agree that if somebody is trying to be a pro writer, which not all HuffPo contributors necessarily are, they should be working on material that has a paying market.

(2) THAT GETTING PAID THING. In a series of tweets, John Scalzi thanked Wendig for doing the heavy lifting today, and tossed in a few more points:

(3) WRITING VS. WIDGETS. Elizabeth Bear tells about detoxing as a writer, metaphorically speaking, in “if you live for something, you’re not alone”.

One of the things I’ve realized that I need to work on in order to develop a healthier relationship with my job involves certain toxic aspects of the professional writing/publishing culture that I’ve done an overly good job of internalizing. And I’m trying to scrape it out of my soul, because in the long term it winds up being the opposite of productive when dealing with a creative career.

Some of that is a competition thing: “Writer X turns in three books a year and I’m a slacker if I don’t, too!” And that’s not great, honestly, and the sheer pressure to produce isn’t great, either, and doesn’t necessarily lead to good work. One has to think up new things to say between books, after all, or one ends up writing the same book over and over again. No use in that.

I think there’s a certain bravado of culture among may writers that is actively toxic in a lot of ways. And it’s tied to the NaNoWriMo kind of mode of “produce a bunch of stuff really fast, lather rinse repeat” pressure, and also the “THIS JOB SUCKS AND WE’RE WARRIORS FOR DOING IT” thing. It’s this weird Puritan machismo in suffering.

I mean, you don’t learn to write well by turning out 50K in a month once a year. It’s the two pages a day or whatever that get you there. Constant practice, as with any art. And mammals don’t respond well to punishment for performance. If we do a thing and the result is horrible, we generally avoid doing that thing again

(4) STARSHIPPING. From the Initiative for Interstellar Studies, Principium, Issue 12, February 2016 [PDF file]. The overview begins —

In this edition our guest introduction is by Gill Norman. Gill is a former director of i4is. She has helped us become the reasonably well organised body that we now are. Her thoughts here are on the necessity of human engagement in Interstellar Studies and space in general, Space: It’s all about people. She tells us how we need to engage resources and talents from all who feel our outward urge. Scientists and engineers are essential but so are entrepreneurs, PR experts and, of course, the best administrators we can find!

(5) FRAUD AT ICE CREAM COUNTER. “Astronaut ice cream is a lie”!

Astronaut ice cream — did it really fly? Vox’s Phil Edwards investigates, with the help of the Smithsonian and an astronaut.

 

(6) MOVING DAY. “China displaces nearly 10,000 humans for huge telescope in search for aliens” reports Asia One.

China will move nearly 10,000 people to make way for the world’s largest radio telescope which promises to help humanity search for alien life, state media reported on Tuesday.

It’s compensating them less than $2,000 each to relocate.

(7) CONGRATULATIONS: Becky Thomson and Tom Veal, friends for over 45 years, have announced they are engaged to be married. The wedding will be on June 25, in Ft. Collins, Colorado.

(8) SIGNALLING THE BEST. At SF Signal, “Top 15 Sci-Fi Comics of 2015 (Becky Cloonan, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Greg Rucka, More” .

We don’t write many articles about comics here at SF Signal. That’s not to say that we dismiss comics as literature, though. Many of the contributors to this blog are huge fans of the medium, but sites devoted the field abound, and whether superheroes are actually science fiction or a form of fantasy that simply employs sci-fi conventions as convenient MacGuffins is debatable. The one notable exception to our comic freeze out is our annual list of the top science fiction comics of the year… which number exactly one, because last year’s list was our first.

To my surprise, though, last year’s list of the Top 14 Sci-Fi Comics of 2014 turned out to be one of our top ten most popular articles of 2015. So, back by popular demand, here’s a rundown of the best on-going science fiction comics to hit stands in 2015. It’s not exhaustive, because there were a LOT of great sci-fi series this year, but it’s what we consider these to be the cream of the crop. Feel free to debate or contribute your own suggestions in the comments below….

(9) KENYON/CLARE ARTICLE. Laura Miller at Slate writes with a fannish slant about “The Shadowhunters vs. the Dark-Hunters”.

A lawsuit between two best-selling authors involves fantasy, romance, charges of plagiarism, and fan fiction gone mainstream….

I have friends with deep roots in fandom—albeit without much connection to this particular sector of it—who believe that this is the true source of the undying animosity toward Clare: She left fandom “badly,” or, worse yet, she seemed to be repudiating her own origins in that community by changing the spelling of her name. Fan-fiction writers are routinely and viciously ridiculed and shamed for their hobby, which makes their communities especially insular and self-policing. “Back in the day,” Cleolinda Jones, a onetime regular at Fandom Wank, wrote to me, “we used to say, ‘The first rule of fanfic is, do not take money for your fanfic.’ Because the overriding fear was intellectual property holders would sue everybody and shut fandom down.” Rights-holders that once issued cease-and-desists against fan sites for using promotional photos now encourage fan art and other tributes, Jones says, but in the early 2000s, “I just really cannot overstate the sense of living on borrowed time by the grace of the IP holders.” This would explain why word-for-word plagiarism, as opposed to the transformative appropriation of another creator’s characters and setting, would seem a catastrophically reckless sin against the entire community.

Of course, Clare was reviled—and adored—in Harry Potter fandom even before the plagiarism charges against her came to light. And fan fiction itself has come a long way, spawning numerous real-world stars, fan writers such as E.L. James who move on to publish best-sellers. Clare was among the very first to do this. But the prospect of going pro and striking it rich seems to many fan-fiction writers like a serpent in the garden, corrupting what once felt like an idyllic, egalitarian gift-economy of like-minded dabblers. Once, fandom was a destination in itself; now it’s just another stepping stone for ambitious writers with their eyes on a richer prize. Like so much of the idealism of the early Internet, this, too, has become an offshoot of the marketplace. “I think what you don’t understand,” one friend told me when I expressed bafflement that Clare’s fellow fan-fiction writers didn’t view the popularity of her books as a feather in their collective cap, “is that a lot of them just feel used.” When I admitted that didn’t make sense to me, she added, “It’s hard to explain, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t real.”

(10) CON OR BUST. MidAmeriCon II has also pitched in:

MidAmeriCon II, August 17-21, 2016, Kansas City, MO, USA. MidAmeriCon is the 2016 WorldCon; its Guests of Honor are Kinuko Y. Craft, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Tamora Pierce, and Michael Swanwick, and its Toastmaster is Pat Cadigan.

MidAmeriCon has donated four memberships to Con or Bust, either in full or as upgrades to supporting memberships (if the recipient already has one).

(10) TAKING ART IN NEW DIRECTIONS. “Best Fan Artist?” asks Steven H Silver. GPS Doodles’ Stephen Lund creates figures by riding his bike in meatspace on routes tracked by Strava. Some are Star Wars-themed.

GPS Yoda

“Doodle a Jedi I must”

Wasn’t it Yoda, Grand Master of the Jedi Order, who said “Doodle. Or doodle not. There is no try”?

Well, doodle I must. And on May the 4th, there’s little choice but to doodle the Jedi Order’s most disciplined master of the Force. Good ol’ Yoda.

“Take a ride on the dark side”

Subject: ride along I’d like to request one. Can you come up with a suitable topic? Vader and his young apprentice perhaps?

It sounded like fun – not just the Star Wars theme but the idea of having someone along for the ride.

Kudos to Geoff, who stuck with me for the entire 4.5+ hours with no inkling whatsoever about what we were doodling. He was completely in the dark (“on the Dark Side,” I suppose you could say) until he got home afterward and downloaded the ride to Strava.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 18, 1930 – Clyde Tombaugh discovered planet Pluto, before it became a dwarf.
  • February 18, 1977 – First unmanned test flight of space shuttle Enterprise mounted on another aircraft.

(12) ARE YOU SHOCKED? Kate Paulk’s award overview series continues with “Hugo Categories Highlight – The Short Fiction Categories”.

The problems of the Hugo voting/nominating population being relatively small and to a large extent long-term fans who could be termed the science fiction “establishment” (in the sense that many of these people have been to the same conventions for twenty and more years and helped each other run quite a few of them) have probably had years where they actually could read everything eligible with the result that they’ve seen practically everything.

This leads to a kind of weird inversion of killer mailbox syndrome (what happens to your marvelous tale about a killer mailbox when the slush reader has just read the third killer mailbox piece in the slush dive and the other three were horrible. The horrible gets imputed to your story because of the human mind’s extreme pattern-making and association ability) where something that isn’t all that great seems the freshest, most wonderful piece of the year because it’s sufficiently unlike the rest of the entries it stands out. This gets good-but-not-extraordinary works nominated and winning awards because they aren’t like everything else.

There’s no need for a conspiracy to explain some of the “winning the future” selections in recent years – this effect will do just as nicely, particularly since many of said voting group have very similar opinions about what constitutes a desirable message and from what I’ve seen are honestly shocked that their views of what is right and proper are not shared by the rest of fandom (two rules that we fans have to remember: sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from malice; and highly intelligent people are capable of extremely advanced stupidity).

(13) THE REBUTTAL. Vox Day at Vox Popoli makes additional arguments supporting his contention that he is a better editor than David Hartwell.

The SF-SJWs at File 770 are appalled at the fact that Tor Books and Castalia House author John C. Wright is willing to go on the record and state that, in his opinion, I am a better editor than the late, Hugo Award-winning editor David Hartwell:…

You see, I have perspective that they do not. Unlike them, I have seen Mr. Wright’s unedited prose. I know exactly what it looks like. And as it happens, it looks very much like the prose that appears in Mr. Wright’s novels that are published by Tor Books. John is an excellent writer; he is one of the greatest SF/F writers alive. But he writes very, very quickly and he is prone to what one might describe as an exuberant approach to writing. Last year, Castalia House offered him a contract for a 60k-word book. I am now reading the manuscript, which clocks in at nearly 200k words. Even those authors who don’t like Mr. Wright or his style might well contemplate suicide if they truly understood how speedily and effortlessly the man writes… and writes well. When I say he is a great writer, I do not do so lightly, nor do I do so because I am fortunate enough to publish some of his works. I say it out of pure envy and awe.

…. UPDATE: It appears my surmise about the extent to which Mr. Wright’s books were edited at Tor Books was correct, as per L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright

Just in case anyone wondered: John has tremendous respect for Mr. Hartwell, whom he admired, appreciated working with, and liked as a person. But Mr. Hartwell almost never made any changes to John’s manuscripts.

(14) ADMIRATION. John C. Wright’s contributions to the foregoing discussion included this compliment to another author:

I would have trouble editing George RR Martin’s books. Most of the comments here mock him, but he is an exquisitely skilled writer, a consummate writer. His writing is a little dark for me, but reread the opening prologue of GAME OF THRONES: the text establishes a fullfledged three dimensional character, a man who is realistic yet sympathetic, and who is snuffed out as a redshirt a few paragraphs later to show you how the monster works — and it comes as a surprise because usually the redshirts are not given a backstory. What in other hands would have been a boring B-movie horror scene in Martin’s is a masterful, and even moving, establishing scene. Now, to be frank, I have not read his last two volumes, and I may never, because he has killed off too many likable characters and is taking too long to get anywhere: but once the series is done, and I know it reaches a satisfying conclusion, I may revisit that decision. So Mr. Martin may be suffering from the victory disease, where some of his discipline lapses due to his popularity. Or he may be, as I am, an exuberant writer who likes his digressions.

(15) TROPE TRAP. At The Book Smugglers, Carlie St. George “examines the Sexy Douchecanoe trope” in “Trope Anatomy 101: Reader, I Didn’t Marry Him – I Kicked His Jerk Ass to the Curb”.

The Sexy Douchecanoe isn’t an official trope, as such; at least, it’s not one that I often find people analyzing, subverting, and/or railing against. It is one, however, that I run into constantly because, while they’re often unfairly associated with strapping, half-dressed men on paperback covers, Sexy Douchecanoes actually pop up in every medium and every genre. The first time I remember coming across one, I was maybe 20 and reading Naked in Death by JD Robb. At the time, I’d been interested in giving romance a go, but as I hadn’t read much of the genre, I wasn’t entirely sure where to start. I figured the best plan was to pick a romance that was also a murder mystery set in the future.

And maybe that plan would have been successful, if I hadn’t hated the love interest with the power of a thousand suns.

(16) MONSTER HIGH NOTE. Lady Gaga and Mattel are teaming to create a Monster High doll.

You know you’ve made it big when you’re commissioned by a major toy manufacturer to design a doll. That’s exactly what’s happened to Lady Gaga. The singer/actress is adding “toy designer” to her resume now with a forthcoming Monster High doll. Is there anything she can’t do? She’s designing the doll with her sister, costume designer Natali Germanotta. Which is totally fitting, given Gaga’s Mother Monster moniker.

 

https://twitter.com/LGMonsterFacts/status/698251609860485120

(17) THIRD MILLENNIUM. Part three of “Who Are Millennial Fans: An Interview with Louisa Stein” by Henry Jenkins at Confessions of an Aca-Fan.

[Louisa Stein] I mentioned above the TV series Supernatural’s ambivalent depictions of female fans over the years. Supernatural is a series that has a dynamic and rich transformative fandom, and the majority of those participating in the fandom are women. Supernatural fans, while expressing love for the series and its characters and potential, have long been critics of its gender and racial politics, and have spoken out at times about how they have felt misrepresented and even attacked by the series and its metatexts, for example, in response to a preview that declared the teenage girl the “ultimate monster.”

(18) STUBBY ON SPUDS. At Tor.com Stubby the Rocket says, “Matt Damon Has Replaced Sean Astin as the Face of Pop Cultural Potato Enthusiasm”. Yes, I guess he has…. (It’s a reference to this antique video from the dawn of YouTube.)

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

Pixel Scroll 2/16/16 Think Pixel, Count Scroll

(1) CARNEGIE AND GREENAWAY LONGLISTS. The longlists for the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals have been announced.

The Carnegie Medal, established in 1936, is awarded annually to the writer of an outstanding book for children. The Kate Greenaway Medal has been given since 1955 for distinguished illustration in a book for children.

Locus Online has identified the works of genre interest on both lists.

(2) TOLKIEN POEMS DISCOVERED. Two poems by J.R.R. Tolkien have been discovered in a 1936 copy of a school annual reports the BBC.

The Shadow Man, and a Christmas poem called Noel, were found at Our Lady’s School, Abingdon.

It is thought Tolkien got to know the school while he was a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University.

The poems were printed a year before Tolkien’s first literary sensation The Hobbit was published.

The Shadow Man is an earlier version of a poem eventually published in 1962 in Tolkien’s Adventures of Tom Bombadil collection.

The existence of the poems came to light after American Tolkien scholar Wayne G. Hammond got in touch with the school.

According to The Guardian

The first poem, The Shadow Man, is an early version of a poem that Tolkien went on to publish in his 1962 collection The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. It tells of “a man who dwelt alone/ beneath the moon in shadow”, who “sat as long as lasting stone,/and yet he had no shadow”. When “a lady clad in grey” arrives, he wakes, and “clasped her fast, both flesh and bone;/and they were clad in shadow”.

The second, Noel, is a Christmas poem, albeit one set in scenery that would not be out of place in Middle-earth. “The hall was dark without song or light,/The fires were fallen dead,” writes Tolkien, going on to portray “the lord of snows”, whose “mantle long and pale/Upon the bitter blast was spread/And hung o’er hill and dale”.

(3) TWITTER WISHES. John Scalzi, in “What I Want Out of Twitter”, explains the changes he’d like to see made in this social media platform.

What I’m more interested in is how Twitter can make itself better, which is a different question than how Twitter can be saved. Twitter’s major issue, as everyone except apparently Twitter’s C-bench knows, is that there are a bunch of shitheads on it who like to roll up to whomever they see as targets (often women and/or people in marginalized groups) and dogpile on them. That’s no good….

So, if Twitter were asking me what I wanted out of Twitter to make it an optimal service for me, here’s what I would suggest, in no particular order:…

Other things to allow filtering of:

  • Profile keywords: If I could filter out every single account that had “#GamerGate” in its profile text, as an example, my replies would have been a lot quieter in the last couple of years.
  • Accounts based on who they follow: Right now I’m thinking of five Twitter accounts of people I think are basically real assholes. I suspect that if you are following all five of them, you are probably also an asshole, and I don’t want to hear from you. In this particular case I think it’d useful to have the filtering be fine-grained, as in, rather than just filtering everyone who followed one account, you’d filter them if they followed Account 1 AND Account 2 AND Account 3 (and so on). It would also be useful to be able to do this more than once, i.e., have more than one follower filter, because often it’s not just one group being annoying.

(4) THE HAMMER. Robot6 asks “Are you worthy to wield this Thor’s Hammer Tool Kit?”

Noting a serious lack of geek-themed hardware, Dave Delisle came up with an idea for a tool set to tackle virtually any home-repair project in the Nine Realms, even the famed clogged drains of Jotunheim.

As you can see, the Thor Hammer Tool Kit looks like the fabled Mjolnir, until it’s opened to reveal a claw hammer, wrench, screwdriver, socket set and so on.

Click through to see an animated gif that makes it all clear.

(5) UNREADY PLAYER ONE. Science Fiction.com reports “’Ready Player One’ Moves Release Date To Dodge ‘Star Wars’”.

And now that the release date for Rian Johnson’s ‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’ has officially moved from May 2017 to December 15, 2017, it looks like even the legendary Steven Spielberg is jumping out of the way in hopes of not getting steamrollered.

According to Variety, the iconic filmmaker’s latest film ‘Ready Player One’ will push back it’s release date to March 30, 2018. Originally slated for December 15, 2017, the movie based on Ernest Cline’s acclaimed nostalgia-filled sci-fi adventure has vacated that spot to give a galaxy far, far away some space. After all, they definitely don’t want to end up like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s ‘Sisters’, which went up against J.J. Abrams’ highly anticipated blockbuster during this past holiday season and didn’t stand a chance against the intergalactic juggernaut.

(6) A MUNDANE YEAR FOR GRAMMY. The 2016 Grammy Award winners didn’t have much of genre interest. I’m really going to have to stretch a point…

Best pop duo/group performance

“Uptown Funk”: Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars

Although the music video for the song wasn’t a Grammy nominee, it’s the main reason I’m reporting any of these awards, because fannish actor Ed Green appears in the background of it beginning at :25 — he’s on the left, speaking on the pay phone. (He also appears at right, below, in the title frame.)

Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media

Birdman

Antonio Sanchez, composer

Then, Jimmy Carter won the Best Spoken Word Album category, where Janis Ian was also a nominee.

(9) ONLY IN IT FOR THE PUN. The Telegraph says “BBC to axe television and radio divisions as part of radical management overhaul”.

Lord Hall, the director-general of the BBC, will not replace Danny Cohen, the corporation’s recently departed director of television, and is instead moving ahead with radical plans to abolish the broadcaster’s radio and television divisions.

“’Doc Martin’ and ‘Doctor Who’ to be combined into new programme, ‘Doc Who’,” reports Andy Porter.

(10) LE GUIN. Ursula K. Le Guin continues answering people’s questions about writing in “Navigating the Ocean of Story (2)” at Book View Café.

Do you consider it a good idea to offer your work in progress to numerous and/or unselected critics? If so, how do you decide which criticisms are valid and useful?

To offer work for critique to an unselected group on the Net, people who remain strangers, is to extend trust to absolute strangers. Some of them will take advantage of the irresponsibility afforded by the medium.

Here’s my advice, for what it’s worth: Don’t do it unless you’ve considered the risks. Pay attention to any comment that really makes sense to you; value any intelligent praise you get. That’s about as far as trust can take you. Keep an eye out for know-it-alls who make like critics, spouting secondhand rules. And remember some may be there because they want to make soup out of your bones.

This is not the voice of experience. I never gave my work to strangers to criticize in first draft or at any stage. I never submitted a piece to an editor or agent until it was, to the best of my knowledge and ability, finished.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 16, 1923 – Archeologists opened the tomb of Tutankhamen in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born February 16, 1958 – Lisa Loring, the actress who played Wednesday Addams in the original Addams Family TV series.

Lisa Loring as Wednesday Addams

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born February 16, 1926 – Rusty Hevelin
  • Born February 16, 1957 – LeVar Burton, Jr., who played ST:TNG’s Geordi LaForge.

(14) CHAOS HORIZON. Chaos Horizon comments on the final SFWA 2015 Best Novel Recommended Reading List. It’s interesting that only six novels have more than 20 recommendations.

Gannon [Raising Caine] and Schoen [Barsk] have shot up this list like rockets, going from nowhere in November to dominating by the end. Those 34 and 33 numbers are so impressive it’s hard to imagine them not getting Nebula nominations at this point. Overall, there were 728 total recommendations; that has to represent a substantial amount of the final Nebula nomination vote. Gannon and Schoen will raise some eyebrows if they get nominations; these SF books certainly got less press, acclaim, and online discussion than other SF books like Sevenves or Aurora. The Nebula is quirky like this, often favoring smaller authors over the big names. If they get nominated, I think the question is whether or not one of those books can win. Will Gannon follow the McDevitt route—get nominated enough and eventually you’ll win? Will Barsk grab a ton of new readers and take the Nebula? I think there’s a definite advantage to being fresh in your voters’ minds.

(15) WRIGHT BACKS HIS BEST EDITOR. John C. Wright adds his endorsement to the Rabid Puppy slate.

The Puppy-kickers are our ideological foes bent on replacing popular and well crafted sci fi tales with politically correct science-free and entertainment-free moping dreck that reads like something written by a highschool creative writing course dropout.

The Puppy-kickers have repeatedly and vehemently assured us assured us that soliciting votes from likeminded fans for stories you judge worthy was a “slate” and therefore was (for reasons not specified) totally and diabolically evil and wrong and bad, was not something insiders had been doing for decades, and was always totally inexcusable, except when they did it, and voted in a slate to grant ‘No Award’ to categories where they had lost their stranglehold over the nominations.

In that spirit, I hereby officially announce in my capacity as the Grand Inquisitor of the Evil Legion of Evil Authors, that the following list is the recommended reading list of our Darkest Lord only, and not a voting slate.

These are the recommendations of my editor, Theodore Beale, aka Vox Day, the most hated man in Science Fiction, but certainly the best editor I have had the pleasure to work with.

(16) MESSAGE FREE. Those who feel the yarn is the most important thing may find themselves voting for this —

Geeknits

(17) MILLENNIALS. “Millennial Fans: An Interview with Louisa Stein (Part Two)” conducted by Henry Jenkins at Confessions of an Aca-Fan.

Many of the shows you write about as Millennial programs are also shows with strong female leads and targeted at female consumers — Friday Night Lights would be a notable exception on your list. So, what happens to the gendering of fandom as we move towards Millennial fan culture? 

Issues of gender permeate millennial culture, fan culture, and the relationship between the two. Masculinizing—or feminizing—fan culture has been one way industry interests tame fandom’s perceived unruliness. Seemingly masculine forms of fandom (and I would emphasize that these areas, like gender itself, are social constructs) have already been categorized as industrially legible and profit friendly. The fanboy stereotype has its share of taboo associations, going all the way back to the “Get a Life” bit on Saturday Night Live that Textual Poachers opens with; but the fanboy position has since been spun into industry heralded narratives of superfans and fanboy auteurs (see Scott, Kohnen), with the lines toward brand support and profit already clearly delineated.

Obsession_inc (and many others citing her) have termed this divide “affirmational fandom,” versus “transformative fandom,” with the latter perceived as more the practice of female consumers who transform media texts into art and fiction, often in so doing significantly changing their meaning. In Millennial Fandom, I actually argue that transformational and affirmational fandom are more deeply intertwined than we might at first assume, but nevertheless, at a discursive level, the distinction helps us to see why and how transformative (perceived “feminine”) practices have been and continue to be treated as suspect, marked as taboo, and policed.

(18) AQUA JODHPURS. “Our first good look at Jason Momoa’s full Aquaman costume comes from ToyFair” at Yahoo! TV.

Then along came ToyFair 2016. Ahhhh, good old ToyFair. Hosted in New York City at the beginning of each year, the convention showcases the best of upcoming merchandise to look forward to. It’s also ALWAYS good for a spoiler or two. One of this year’s was a complete look at Jason Momoa’s costume in Batman v Superman, complete with colors. Behold!

The tattoos on Aquaman’s chest appear to continue onto his pants(?) which are a murky green. The better to blend into the ocean floor with. Of course, the camo look is marred by the bright gold knee-highs, but a king has to make concessions for style. I’m curious if Aquaman’s asymmetrical armor has a backstory is just there to look cool. Also, he is totally standing in rubble. Could it be that Wonder Woman isn’t the only superhero to show up at the end to clean up Batman and Superman’s mess?

(19) SHATNER BOOK REVIEW. Ryan Britt at Tor.com says “William Shatner’s New Memoir Leonard is Surprising and Moving”.

Whether they’re in their Kirk and Spock guises, or just being themselves, it’s hard to prefer William Shatner to Leonard Nimoy. Nimoy just seems more comfortable and real of the two, whereas Shatner appears to be putting on airs. Over the years, William Shatner seems to have figured this out and embraced the fact that no one will ever totally take him seriously. All of this makes the publication of a memoir written by him about Leonard Nimoy both look like a cynical cash-grab and a disingenuous maneuver of faux-love.

But if you’re a Star Trek fan, or casually interested in Leonard Nimoy, Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship With a Remarkable Man reveals that not only is Shatner a good guy, but that Leonard Nimoy may not have been the cool one, and did in fact fight all sorts of demons both inside and out.

(20) CORREIA’S SCHOOL FOR BUSINESS. Larry Correia says “One Star Reviews Over Book Prices are Dumb”, which is absolutely true.

I know writers aren’t supposed to respond to reviews, but I’m not responding to this as a writer, I’m responding to it as a retired accountant.

I am the author in question. Your review doesn’t hurt anything except my overall average. You aren’t sticking it to the man. You aren’t harming the corporate fat cats. If you think the book sucks, give it one star. That’s awesome. That’s what the stars are for. But you don’t use one star to bitch about the price of eBooks. That just makes you look stupid. We shouldn’t still be having this conversation with anybody who isn’t a Bernie Sanders supporter.

Now, Accountant Hat on. This is pretty basic stuff. This is how basic costing works, not just for books, but quite literally everything. But today, we’ll talk about books, because your ridiculous review has pissed me off.  I’m going to dumb this down and keep it simple as possible.

The rest is a long but lighthearted lesson about the business of producing books that makes cost accounting entertaining. (I know you think I’m being facetious, which is why I need to say, no, I really found it entertaining.)

(21) ANOTHER OPINION ABOUT THE KENYON SUIT. Amanda S. Green at Mad Genius Club begins her “And the World Keeps Turning”  column: “I will give the same caveat here that Sarah gave in her post. I have not read the pleadings filed on Ms. Kenyon’s behalf. Nor have I read Ms. Clare’s books.”

On Friday of last week, the Guardian published an article that addresses, from Ms. Clare’s point of view. Two things stood out for me and, yes, I know I am paying attention to lawyer-speak but the attorney, John Cahill, does bring up some interesting questions. First, “the lawsuit failed to identify a single instance of actual copying or plagiarism by Cassie.”  The second is that Ms. Clare has been writing these characters and series, iirc, for ten years. That’s a long time to wait before filing suit and part of me wonders if the fact Ms. Clare’s series is being made into a television series wasn’t the impetus for the suit.

To be fair, the suit does allege that Ms. Clare, in her series, does, “employ a line of warriors who protect the normal world from demons”, both cover how “a young person becomes part of the Dark-Hunters’ (or Shadowhunters’) world after being saved by a gorgeous blond Dark-Hunter (or Shadowhunter)”, and “both Dark-Hunters and Shadowhunters have enchanted swords that are divinely forged, imbued with otherworldly spirits, have unique names, and glow like heavenly fire”.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I can think of any number of books, short stories, TV shows and movies that could fall under that description. Those are, indeed, story elements, but does it rise to the level of plagiarism and copyright infringement?

Green steps into the judge’s shoes, for at least a few sentences, to voice skepticism about the plaintiff’s case. Not having read the complaint, Green missed the opportunity to see its list of the statutes the judge is asked to apply. With the help of Google she could have tested lawyer Cahill’s argument, as well as her own doubts that the infringement is actionable.

(22) A MENU ALOFT. Rick Foss was interviewed by Leanna Garfield for her Tech Insider post “We’re in a golden age of airplane food – for some people”.

When American Airlines recently launched a 15-hour direct flight from Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia, it also debuted a new menu. Flight attendants offer first-class passengers complimentary glasses of 2010 Penfolds Grange Shiraz (normally $850 per bottle) and roasted sirloin steak with red wine sauce.

Travelers in the economy cabin are still only treated to peanuts (But hey, at least they now get complimentary spirits — quite the perk).

The improvements in first and business class have more to do with the economics of the airline industry than they do with a desire to provide better service, Richard Foss, culinary historian and author of “Food in the Air and Space: The Surprising History of Food and Drink in the Skies,” tells Tech Insider.

Foss has studied the history of airline food for over a decade, from the glory days in the ’70s when airlines served lobster to today’s inflight tuna sandwiches. Here’s a look at that history, and how airlines are trying to bring back the golden age of airline dining for high-paying passengers.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/11/16 Get Your Pixels For Nothin And Your Clicks For Free

(1) ALBERT WAS RIGHT! Einstein – what an insightful dude! He should have been on a bubblegum card.

Another bit of his work has been confirmed. Here’s The New Yorker’s account: “Gravitational Waves Exist: The Inside Story Of How Scientists Finally Found Them”.

…The waves rippled outward in every direction, weakening as they went. On Earth, dinosaurs arose, evolved, and went extinct. The waves kept going. About fifty thousand years ago, they entered our own Milky Way galaxy, just as Homo sapiens were beginning to replace our Neanderthal cousins as the planet’s dominant species of ape. A hundred years ago, Albert Einstein, one of the more advanced members of the species, predicted the waves’ existence, inspiring decades of speculation and fruitless searching. Twenty-two years ago, construction began on an enormous detector, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). Then, on September 14, 2015, at just before eleven in the morning, Central European Time, the waves reached Earth. Marco Drago, a thirty-two-year-old Italian postdoctoral student and a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, was the first person to notice them. He was sitting in front of his computer at the Albert Einstein Institute, in Hannover, Germany, viewing the LIGO data remotely. The waves appeared on his screen as a compressed squiggle, but the most exquisite ears in the universe, attuned to vibrations of less than a trillionth of an inch, would have heard what astronomers call a chirp—a faint whooping from low to high. This morning, in a press conference in Washington, D.C., the LIGO team announced that the signal constitutes the first direct observation of gravitational waves.

(2) PERFECT TIMING. Michael A. Burstein observed in a comment on Facebook:

It’s probably not significant, but I find it interesting that the gravitational waves we detected from the black holes merging one billion light-years away from us…reached us on Rosh Hashanah.

(3) TIES AND JACKETS REQUIRED. At Black Gate, Doug Ellis posted some fascinating photos and letters from fandom’s early days in “The Great Pulp Gathering: That Time Jack Williamson, L. Sprague de Camp, Frank Belknap Long, Edmond Hamilton, John W. Campbell, Manly Wade Wellman, Otis Adelbert Kline and others met at Mort Weisinger’s House in 1937”

From time to time I’ve posted in various places material I acquired at an auction many years ago from the estate of Jack Darrow. In the 1930’s, Darrow (whose real name was Clifford Kornoelje) was pretty much science fiction fan #2 behind Forry Ackerman.

Darrow’s best friend was science fiction pulp author Otto Binder – who, with his brother, Earl, formed half of the writing tandem of Eando Binder (their other brother was pulp/comic artist Jack Binder). By 1936 however, although the byline often continued to read Eando, the stories were written solely by Otto. In 1939, Binder also began working in comics, particularly for Captain Marvel and the other Fawcett titles, though he would eventually work for all the major publishers. Among the material in Darrow’s estate was a box of correspondence between him and Binder about a foot thick.

Among these letters was one from Binder to Darrow, dated July 10, 1937, which was accompanied by two snapshots. On the back of each, Binder writes that these are photos of “science fiction authors at Mort Weisinger’s home June 1937” (the home was in New Jersey). At the time, Weisinger was the editor of Thrilling Wonder Stories….

(4) MILLENNIALS. “Who Are Millennial Fans?: An Interview with Louisa Stein (Part One)” conducted by Henry Jenkins at Confessions of an Aca-Fan.

In many ways, you see the millennial audience as emblematic of the “mainstreaming” of fan culture within a networked culture. You write, “Millennials have made fan practices more socially acceptable by action, word, and image, if not name.” To what degree is this something Millennials have done and to what degree is this something the industry has done as it has constructed millennials as a particular kind of fan?

First, I want to emphasize that I mean millennial as an imagined category, one co-created by industry and (the cultural participants we refer to as) millennials in an ongoing negotiation. Likewise, the depiction of millennials as modified fans is an ongoing joint creation: industry marketing, advertising, network positioning, programming, scheduling, and digital paratexts together construct a vision of millennials as modified fans; but millennials’ (and/or fans’) own performances of self, responses to one another, and collective interactions also shape this picture. Advertising campaigns and paratextual strategies (like officially coordinated hash tags or programming embedded with fan reference) may hail a modified fan position—one that is invested, created, and interactive up to a particular degree and in certain industry-accepted modes. But fans created many of these practices in the first place, and choose when and how to respond to industrial hailing, when to play along the designated lines and when to transgress….

The mainstreaming of fandom into millennial culture is a chosen stance of fans to represent their modes of engagement as more than only niche and subcultural. Fans choose to post about their fan engagement in the public spaces of Tumblr rather than the locked communities and friends-only journals of the late 1990s and early 2000s. They may perceive these fan spaces as intimate publics, as I’ve written about elsewhere, yet they choose to allow for the possibility of visibility, for a default public culture, albeit one with intimate semi-private pockets. Indeed, the social activism of, for example, what some refer to as Tumblr feminism is part of—or at least deeply connected to—this fan performance of fandom as an expansive mode of engagement with something important to share and spread.

(5) IT’S HUGE! You might like this enormous list of movies/tv series being developed from SF books. Adam Whitehead, “The SF and Fantasy novels currently being developed for the screen”, at The Wertzone.

After a glut of recent news, here’s a list of all the science fiction and fantasy novels, short stories and novellas which are currently being developed for the screen. Natalie Zutter’s article for Tor.com from last year was a helpful reference point for this post.

(6) HARRY THE EIGHTH. Shelf Awareness says another volume of Potter will be published this summer.

The “eighth Harry Potter story,” a script of a stage play called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II, will be published in the U.S. and Canada by Scholastic at 12:01 a.m. — aka bookstore party time — on Sunday, July 31, the day after the play by Jack Thorne makes its world debut in London. The play is based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany.

The “special rehearsal edition” book, called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, will be priced at $29.99 in the U.S. and $39.99 in Canada and published under Scholastic’s Arthur A. Levine Books imprint. The book will be published in the U.K. by Little, Brown Book Group, and Pottermore.com will publish the e-book version.

(7) BSG REBOOT. The Battlestar Galactica reboot is still happening reports CinemaBlend.

The Social Network’s Michael de Luca has signed on to produce Battlestar Galactica, according to The Tracking Board. This doesn’t provide any new details on the movie’s creative direction, but de Luca reportedly describes himself as a “huge Battlestar Galactica fanatic,” so that should prove beneficial. De Luca’s other producing credits include Moneyball, Captain Phillips, Fifty Shades of Grey and the Syfy miniseries Childhood’s End.

(8) NO 2016 DUCKON. SF Site News has learned that “DucKon Remains on Hiatus”

After cancelling the 2015 DucKon and establishing a transition team to take care of the convention’s debt and retool for future DucKons, the Duckon Transition Team has announced that they are not in a position to host a DucKon in 2016….

(9) TODAY IN LAWSUIT HISTORY

In the latest of a series of legal battles involving J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved trilogy The Lord of the Rings and film adaptations made of the books, several of Tolkien’s heirs join a group of publishers in filing a $150 million lawsuit against New Line Cinema on February 11, 2008, in Los Angeles Superior Court….

Behind the film trilogy’s phenomenal success, however, was a tangled web of legal conflict, as recounted in a February 2008 New York Times article on the most recent lawsuit. …Finally, in the Tolkien lawsuit, the holders of a trust for J.R.R. Tolkien, who died in 1973, stated that they had failed to receive any money from the films. According to the literary-rights agreement signed in 1969, they said, the trust was entitled to 7.5 percent of the gross revenue from any film adaptation of Tolkien’s novels.

(10) COPY OF THE COMPLAINT. If you’re in the market for a copy of the Kenyon v. Clare lawsuit, click here — http://www.courtneymilan.com/cc-complaint/1-main.pdf.

13. The Dark-Hunter Series and the Shadowhunter Series are so similar that CLARE’S own publisher mistakenly printed 100,000 copies of a Shadowhunter Book referencing the Dark-Hunter Mark on the cover. Upon written demand by PLAINTIFF, CLARE’s publisher destroyed tens of thousands of the Shadowhunter Book that contained PLAINTIFF’s Dark-Hunter Mark on its cover. Despite the destruction of tens of thousands of copies of this Shadowhunter Book, thousands of Shadowhunter Books including the Dark Hunter Marks on the cover have now been sold and substantial commercial confusion has resulted.

(11) ZOE QUINN. Zoë Quinn explains “Why I Just Dropped The Harassment Charges The Man Who Started GamerGate” [sic].

I just hung up from what I hope will be my last phone call with the District Attorney assigned to my case, and I choked back tears as she told me that I’d conducted myself with grace through this whole nightmare. I don’t know why I’m crying. I’m writing this and examining it as I go through the fog of someone with PTSD. I don’t know if the tears are out of frustration of having sunk a year and a half into this awful system for seemingly less than nothing, or if it’s out of relief….

One of the biggest myths that needs to die is that your first response to being abused should be to go to the police and seek justice. Leaving aside the fact that the police flat out murder unarmed citizens for their race all the time, and that sex workers are likely to be incarcerated when reporting crime done to them, and a myriad of other things I can’t get into, I have a certain amount of privilege and a well-documented case. I have one of the most public abuse cases out there, it started a hate movement that’s swept up my industry and hurt dozens of bystanders, and got international media attention. A lot of people don’t think of it in terms of domestic violence, they forget where the flashpoint of GamerGate came from – you might not even know the man responsible’s name. To make matters worse, I was unable to speak up during that time period out of fear of reprisal from the judicial system (more on that later) and watched as he was washed out of history (along with a lot of other people targeted). I was on my own on this front, until the Boston Magazine article was posted by a journalist who had been following everything and speaking with my ex. Shortly after, I got a call from the DA telling me that I shouldn’t have been told to simply go offline, and that she knew we had a very strong case worth prosecuting.

So why am I dissolving it then?

Ironically, getting a restraining order against Creep Throat was the least effective thing I could do in terms of getting him out of my life for good, and for protecting myself.

(12) GRRM REPORTS. George R.R. Martin posted another editor’s list of what she worked on in 2015 — “What They Edited, Once More”

So… as we discussed below, a lot of fans don’t know who to nominate for the Hugo in the two editorial categories because they don’t know who edited what last year. The problem is especially acute in Long Form. Fair enough. So I went and asked the editors I’d recommended what books they’d edited. We all benefit by being well informed, no?

…Today I received another answer, from DIANA PHO of Tor.

(13) BEST RELATED. Kate Paulk demonstrates the difference between Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies in “Hugo Category Highlight: Best Related Work” at Mad Genius Club.

I’d say the Castalia House series about pedophilia in the science fiction and fantasy community is a worthy entry if seriously disturbing – and frankly, I expect this suggestion to be controversial because the series does not tiptoe around any of the major figures in the genre.

(14) A LONG DOGIE. Vox Day continues recommending things for his slate in “Rabid Puppies 2016: Dramatic Presentation (long)”.

Although the ancient geezers of fandom don’t seem to know it, or are just too old to either know or care about games, both computer and video games are eligible for the Hugo Award for Dramatic Presentation Long Form as they are included in the definition of “any medium of dramatized science fiction or fantasy” that lasts more than 90 minutes. Ergo, my recommendations for the category will probably look a little different than most this year.

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  • Until Dawn
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • The Martian

(15) GEEKING OUT. You got me, clickbait.

Geeking Out About…  actually didn’t propose a slate but a platform. See “Road to the Hugo Awards: Presenting The Geeking Out About… Platform”

When word first broke on how a vocal and reactionary segment of the sci-fi/fantasy fandom managed to rally its supporters over the years into jamming works they liked into the nominations list for the Hugo Awards, culminating in a near-total overrun in 2015, I was amused at how it began, appalled and how it progressed, and ultimately impressed at what they managed to pull off.

Which makes me think that if a group of terrible people can push forwards works they think epitomize the best in science fiction and fantasy, why can’t someone like me who is not completely terrible do the same thing?

Here then are the planks of the first-ever “Geeking Out About…” platform for the 2016 Hugo Awards season:

1. All works which are being promoted must be created by people who believe that genre fiction should contain diverse characters and perspectives.

2. All fictional works which are being promoted must contain at least two characters whose gender, sexual, physical, and/or racial identity is substantially different from the creator’s and also:

a) Has their own agency within the plot.

b) Has a scene with another character who is also of their same gender, sexual, physical, and/or racial identity where they don’t speak about the main protagonist but do advance the plot.

c) If there is a love interest for either or both of the characters, it is not the same character as the main protagonist. d) If the characters die, the deaths are meaningful.

3. All non-fictional works which are being promoted must contain references to and/or significant discussion about diversity in genre fiction, and also:

a) If a web article written by one person or solo podcast or web series, must contain links to other articles or references to other work where the gender, sexual, physical, and/or racial identity of those creators/authors is substantially different from the solo creator’s.

b) If a multiple-creator podcast, article, or web series, one of the authors/creators or a guest speaker must be a person whose gender, sexual, physical, and/or racial identity is substantially different from the other creators.

4. All visual works which are being promoted which depict humanoid beings must contain imagery which does not demean individuals who are not of the same gender, sexual, physical, and/or racial identity of the creator.

[Thanks to Steven H Silver, John King Tarpinian, Mark-kitteh, Andrew Porter, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Kip W., Cheryl S., JJ.]

Pixel Scroll 12/22 I Saw Mommy Reading Pixel Scroll

(1) IN SFWA TIMES TO COME. Cat Rambo in “What I’m Hoping For SFWA in 2016” tells about the organization’s accomplishments and shortfalls in 2015, and what the future holds. Here’s an excerpt from each category —

SFWA’s 2015 Accomplishments

We hammered out membership criteria that didn’t just include writers publishing independently or with small presses but made us the first organization to consider crowdfunded projects as a publication path. That’s led to an influx of new members and fresh energy that’s been delightful to be part of….

Some Bad Stuff

The lack of a plan behind the 50th Anniversary Anthology finally sank that project when our CFO and I realized that the books would have to sell for 84.50 each in order to break even….

What I’m Looking Forward to in 2016

M.C.A. Hogarth has been a terrific Vice President, proactive and self-guided. One of her projects is a guidebook for SFWA members that explains everything: how to join the discussion forums, how to nominate for the Nebulas, how to participate in the Featured Book Program on the website, who to mail with directory issues, etc. That will appear in 2016 and I think it will be a bit of a revelation to us all….

Rambo ends with Henry Lien’s anthem “Radio SFWA,” which I must say I am a huge fan of, whatever it may do for anybody else…. (The lyrics appear when you click “show more” at the song’s YouTube page.)

(2) RULES ARE MEANT TO BE BROKEN. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens lands unprecedented award nomination” reports Polygon.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens has already shattered plenty of box office records, but the movie has also made history by reportedly earning an unprecedented nomination from the Broadcast Critics Association.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Association made the historic move to include the film as the eleventh contender for their Best Film award. The nomination list had come out eight days before The Force Awakens was released, effectively shutting the film out entirely. Usually, films must be submitted during a specific voting period and those that don’t meet the deadline aren’t considered at all.

(3) GOOD FOR A QUOTE. Academic Henry Jenkins, who appeared as a witness in The People Vs. George Lucas, explains “What We Talk About When We Talk about Star Wars” at Confessions of an Aca-Fan.

This blog post might be subtitled “The Pretentious Ass Strikes Back.” Here’s a story we tell in my family.

In 1977, Cynthia Ann Benson, an undergraduate at Georgia State University, has signed up for a class on film theory and criticism, with some nervousness about whether it will take the pleasure out of going to the movies. On the first day of class, the instructor — Jack Creech — is late, and a group of students are gathered outside the classroom. This guy — you know the one — another undergraduate student  is standing around making assertions about gender, race, and technology in the recently released Star Wars movie to anyone who will listen and to many who would probably rather not be listening. She goes off after class and writes a letter to her best friend describing “this pretentious ass pontificating about the social significance of Star Wars” as summing up everything that made her fearful of cinema studies.  It took me several years to overcome that unfortunate first impression and get her to go out on a date with me. We’ve now been married for almost 35 years.

So, it was some ironic glee that I accepted the invitation of the media relations folks at USC to be put on a list of experts who could talk to the media about Star Wars. I found myself doing some dozen or more interviews with reporters all over the world in the week leading up to the release of A Force Awakens, filling them in about the impact which the Star Wars franchise has had over the past few decades.

(4) HE’LL BE HERE ALL WEEK FOLKS. James H. Burns sent an email to ask: “Hey, Mike, do you know why I’ll be wearing a deerstalker cap on the 25th?”

The answer: “Because I’ll be Holmes, for Christmas.”

(5) I’M MELTING…MELTING….

(6) HIGH CASTLE TO CONTINUE. Amazon’s The Man In The High Castle has displaced Titus Welliver-starrer Bosch as its most-watched original according to The Hollywood Reporter.  The show’s pilot also has been streamed more times than any other pilot in Amazon history. The company announced a few days ago it has renewed the show for a second season.

(7) DID YOU PAY ATTENTION? Pit your wits against “Orbit’s Ultimate 2015 Science Fiction and Fantasy Quiz” at Playbuzz. Multiple choice questions, for example:

Fans visited the Discworld for the last time this year, with Terry Pratchett’s final book, The Shepherd’s Crown, released in August. If you were to visit Ankh Morpork, how would you recognise the city’s crest? It contains…

JJ says, “In my opinion, it’s way too heavy on media (Film, TV, comics) and Game of Thrones, but I’m sure a lot of Filers will do well on it.”

(8) BIG NAME ZOMBIE WRITERS. Jonathan Maberry and George Romero are joining forces to edit Rise of the Living Dead, an anthology of all-original stories set in the 48 hours surrounding Romero’s landmark film.

Rise of the Living Dead will be published by Griffin, and will include stories by Brad Thor, Brian Keene, Chuck Wendig, David Wellington, George Romero, Isaac Marion, Jay Bonansinga, Joe Lansdale, Joe McKinney, John Russo, Jonathan Maberry, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Mike Carey, Mira Grant (pen name of Seanan McGuire), Neal Shusterman & Brandon Shusterman, and Sandra Brown & Ryan Brown.

(9) LEWIS PART THREE. Matthew David Surridge unveiled “Wandering the Worlds of C.S. Lewis, Part III: Dymer” at Black Gate.

In 1922 C.S. Lewis recorded in his diary that he had “started a poem on ‘Dymer’ in rhyme royal.” His phrasing’s interesting: a work “on” Dymer, as though it were a well-known subject. “Dymer” was already a familiar story to him. He’d written it out in prose in 1917, one of his first mature prose works to use modern diction and avoid the archaisms of William Morris’ novels. Late in 1918 he wrote in a letter that he’d just completed a “short narrative, which is a verse version of our old friend Dymer, greatly reduced and altered to my new ideas. The main idea is that of development by self-destruction, both of individuals and species.” Nothing of this version seems to have survived in the 1922 poem, which was finished in 1925 and published in 1926 to mixed reviews.

(10) HERE COMES SANTA CLAUS. After viewing “Boston Dynamics’ Robo-Dogs Pulling a Sleigh is a Terrifying Glimpse of Christmas Future”, Will R. asked, “Do electric puppies dream of…wait…where was I?”

I love the possibility of a Christmas battle royal between the Robo-Dogs and the regiment of parading Krampuses – it would be the real life equivalent of that Doctor Who episode where the Daleks fought the Cybermen….

(11) PARTYARCHS. Because the MidAmeriCon II Exhibits team will be helping people throw parties in the Worldcon’s event space, rather than have them in hotel rooms, they are inviting people to an advance discussion —

Hi all you party throwers!

At MidAmeriCon II, we are going to have a different party setup and we have some questions to ask of you and answers to share with you.

Please subscribe to our party-discussion mailing list by sending an email to party-discuss-join@midamericon2.org with the subject line of SUBSCRIBE.

Even if you aren’t going to throw a party, we are interested in your insight and advice.

(12) BOND ON ICE. James H. Burns calls”Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown?” from the sixth James Bond movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, “Perhaps the most unusual song in a James Bond film.” Nina Van Pallandt is the singer.

The song played behind this action scene:

(13) RECOMMENDATION SITE. Ken Marable’s 2016 Hugo Recommendation Season is working its way through every category week at a time. It just wrapped up the Best Fanzine recommendations.

Previously covered – Best Semiprozine, Best Fan Writer, Best Professional Artist, and Best Editor (Short Form). See the schedule at the site for when others will be covered.

(14) BOIL’EM, BAKE ‘EM, STICK ‘EM IN A STEW. Peru’s Centro Internacional de la Papa will learn how to grow “Potatoes on Mars”.

A team of world-class scientists will grow potatoes under Martian conditions in a bid to save millions of lives.

The experiment, led by the International Potato Center (CIP) and NASA, is a major step towards building a controlled dome on Mars capable of farming the invaluable crop in order to demonstrate that potatoes can be grown in the most inhospitable environments.

The goal is to raise awareness of the incredible resilience of potatoes, and fund further research and farming in devastated areas across the globe where malnutrition and poverty are rife and climbing….

By using soils almost identical to those found on Mars, sourced from the Pampas de La Joya Desert in Peru, the teams will replicate Martian atmospheric conditions in a laboratory and grow potatoes. The increased levels of carbon dioxide will benefit the crop, whose yield is two to four times that of a regular grain crop under normal Earth conditions. The Martian atmosphere is near 95 per cent carbon dioxide.

(15) FISHER. “Han Jimbo” (James H. Burns) says this interview with Carrie Fisher from earlier in the month is just delightful.

(16) CINEMATIC COAL LUMP. ‘Tis the season to remember what is generally regarded among the worst movies ever made.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians can be viewed free online. (As if you would pay to see it!)

(17) WAY OF THE HOBBIT. Ebook Friendly draws our attention to the “Following the Hobbit trail (infographic)”.

Quirk Books, an independent book publisher based in Philadelphia, has released a fantastic infographic that will let you study the timeline of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

The visual was prepared for Quirk Books by Michael Rogalski.

Following-the-Hobbit-trail-infographic

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Will R., James H. Burns, John King Tarpinian, JJ, and Gregory N. Hullender for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Iphinome.]