Pixel Scroll 6/25/20 You Scroll My Pixel Round Baby Right Round

(1) THE BOOKSELLER FROM UNCLE. Laurie Hertzel of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune has assembled readers’ “Fond memories of Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s, and hope for the future”.

Elaine K. Murray, Minneapolis: It was my mother’s bookstore. All the years she worked at Sears across the street she could go there and get her beloved vintage mysteries at a price she could afford. After she retired I would drive her there and buy her books for a Christmas or birthday present.

She has been gone more than five years, but I could still go there, find books from some of her favorite authors, and feel like she was still near me.

Now that’s gone forever and I can’t seem to stop crying.

(2) WRITER INDEPENDENCE DAY. Cat Rambo is teaching two online courses on the Fourth of July. Registration and cost information at the links.

The next class date is Saturday, July 4, 2020, 9:30-11:30 AM Pacific time.

The question isn’t how to tell a good idea from a bad one; it’s how to learn to turn any idea into a story. Come with a story idea, no matter how vague. We’ll discuss multiple ways of plotting a story based on its unique inspiration, as well as engaging in class exercises designed to hone your plotting skills. Learn how to build a roadmap for your story that will help you complete it in a class that combines discussion, lecture, and in-class writing exercises.

Next class date is Saturday, July 4, 2020, 1:00-3:00 PM Pacific Time.

Learn how to create interesting, rounded characters that your readers can identify with, whether hero or villain. We’ll cover how to write convincing interesting dialogue as well as how to flesh out a character so they come alive and help you move the story along. A combination of lecture, discussion, and in-class writing exercises will help you apply new technique immediately to your own stories.

The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers is offering plenty more classes in the weeks to come. Here are two examples.

Saturday, July 11

Values are not universal across all cultures, and thus what a satisfying story looks like is not limited to one model either. This course examines East Asian storytelling forms and themes, including the four-act kish?tenketsu structure, which is not based on conflict, tension, and resolution. The course will use case studies from books, films, and other mediums, and in-class exercises and games to demonstrate that elements that we consider staples of European/Western storytelling, such as the Hero’s Journey story structure, the empowerment arc, and individual heroism, are not universal across all cultures. Students will complete the course with tools to analyze the European/Western forms and themes in the stories they have written as well as templates from East Asian storytelling to explore and apply to their work.

Sunday, July 12 

Are you a novelist with a fascinating world? Have you thought about turning your novel into an RPG? In this class, gaming industry veteran will walk you through the ins and outs of adapting your novel to fit a gaming world. This class is customized for authors who have published at least one original novel or novella. It is not designed for adaptations of someone else’s work.

(3) MURDOCH MYSTERIES. [Item by Daniel Dern.] We are on the home stretch of, via Acorn.tv, watching the Murdoch Mysteries [1], and, sans spoilers, I thought I’d drop a brief note on one of the episodes we saw earlier this week, Season 13 Episode 11, “Staring Blindly into the Future”

In addition to the use of (then) new scientific techniques to solve crimes — fingerprinting, blood typing, ultraviolet to reveal bloodstains, surveillance cameras — and various legitimized/finessed tech, like a prototype hyperloop, a (larger) roomba, and more — another of the sf/fan-adjacent aspects of the show is the use of historical figures (e.g., Mark Twain, played by William Shatner).

This episode features a dozen — most of whom (all but 3, IIRC) have appeared on previous episodes throughout the season:

  • Nikola Tesla
  • Svetlana Tsiolkofsky (a fictional daughter of rocketry’s Konstantin T.)
  • Thomas Edison
  • Alexander Graham Bell
  • Emma Goldman
  • Albert Einstein (previous name-dropped but not shown)
  • Marie Curie
  • Ernest Rutherford
  • Henry Ford
  • Andrew Carnegie
  • Harry Houdini
  • H.G. Wells

Fun stuff!

[1] From the CBC URL:  “Set in Toronto at the dawn of the 20th century, Murdoch Mysteries is a one-hour drama series that explores the intriguing world of William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson), a methodical and dashing detective who pioneers innovative forensic techniques to solve some of the city’s most gruesome murders.”

(4) JUDGING A BOOK BY ITS BACK COVER. The Guardian reports a practice adopted by some newly reopened UK bookstores to minimize COVID-19 contamination  — “Flipping hell: book designers lament Waterstones’ back-to-front displays”.

It was understandable but slightly “heartbreaking”, designer Anna Morrison said of the news that Waterstones is asking shoppers to judge a book by its back cover.

The retailer has offered its apologies to book designers after some newly reopened branches began displaying books back to front so browsers could read the blurb without picking it up.

…People can pick up a book in Waterstones but if they do not buy, it is quarantined for 72 hours. A branch in Swansea was first to post on Twitter that they were turning books round where possible. 

(5) SOME AMENDS. John Scalzi reacted to news about the misconduct of several sff writers he knows (named in the piece): “When Friends Fuck Up, and So Do I”.

… I have some friends who have fucked up in how they’ve been treating women.

… I’m angry at my friends right now. I’m sad for my friends right now. I’m even more angry about and sad for the women who they have made feel unsafe, and who they have harassed, or groomed, or otherwise harmed, because it is unacceptable. I want to be a friend to my friends and I also want to chuck them off the side of the fucking boat and be done with them. I want to think there’s a way back for some of them, for the same reason there was a way back for me when I’ve fucked up before. That’s on them, and right now I don’t know how much, if any, of my personal time and credibility I want to put into helping them. I’m frustrated and I’m tired that we keep having to do this, and I’m ashamed that some of the reason we keep having to do this rests on me. I understand and accept why I need to write this piece and I also fucking resent having to, and that resentment rests solely on my friends, and me….

(6) GAMING FIGURES ACCUSED. The New York Times covered last weekend’s outpouring: “Dozens of Women in Gaming Speak Out About Sexism and Harassment”. Tagline: “After more than 70 allegations surfaced on Twitter this weekend, gaming companies and streamers responded with action. Some say it’s the beginning of real change in the industry.”

More than 70 people in the gaming industry, most of them women, have come forward with allegations of gender-based discrimination, harassment and sexual assault since Friday. They have shared their stories in statements posted to Twitter, YouTube, Twitch and the blogging platform TwitLonger.

The outpouring of stories from competitive gamers and streamers, who broadcast their gameplay on platforms like Twitch for money, led to the resignation of the C.E.O. of a prominent talent management company for streamers and a moment of reflection for an industry that has often contended with sexism, bullying and allegations of abuse.

Already, the response has been a far cry from Gamergate in 2014, when women faced threats of death and sexual assault for critiquing the industry’s male-dominated, sexist culture. Now, some are optimistic that real change could come.

Gamers began sharing their stories after a Twitter user who posts as Hollowtide tweeted about an unnamed “top” player of the online game Destiny on Friday night, referring to the person as a “scum lord.” Three female streamers, JewelsVerne, SheSnaps and SchviftyFive, saw the post and decided to come forward about their experiences with the gamer in question, who is known online both as Lono and SayNoToRage. The women posted their allegations, including nonconsensual touching, propositioning for sex and harassment, on Twitter using their streamer handles. (The streamers did not provide their legal names to The New York Times. In years past, women gamers who have spoken out against the industry using their legal names have been subjected to further harassment, hacking and doxxing.)

In interviews with The Times, when asked to describe their experiences with Lono, the streamers asked a reporter to refer to their public statements on Twitter, TwitLonger and Twitch.

Lono responded to their Twitter accusations in a YouTube video posted on Saturday. “There is no excuse for my behavior. There is no way to gloss over it. The things I did were unacceptable,” he said in the video. “Being inappropriate with these people robbed them of their sense of safety and security and it broke trust, and I am deeply sorry.” (He declined to speak to a reporter from The Times on Monday, and would not share his last name.)

(7) BRAVE NEW SHOW. “You are an essential part of a perfect social body.” Brave New World  begins streaming July 15 on Peacock. Let SYFY Wire set the frame: “It’s A ‘Brave New World’ In First Full Trailer For Peacock’s Sci-Fi Dystopia Series”.

…Based on the highly-conditioned, controlled, and warped population in Huxley’s 1932 novel, this society is a tragic one in need of resistance. So why not John? And, as the new posters for the series declare, “everybody happy now.” The grammar might be a little strange but the sentiment is clear: this dystopia thinks emotional problems have been solved thanks to some handy pharmaceuticals.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born June 25, 1903 – George Orwell. His other work is admirable but he compels our attention with Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four.  Naturally people on both the Left and the Right have claimed them and attacked them.  Translated into Croatian, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Serbian, Spanish, Thai.  (Died 1950) [JH]
  • Born June 25, 1935 – Charles Sheffield.  Physicist and SF author. “Georgia on My Mind” won both the Hugo and the Nebula.  Thirty novels, a hundred shorter stories, some with co-authors.  Translated into Croatian, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish.  Toastmaster at BucConeer the 56th Worldcon.  Pro Guest of Honor at Lunacon 44 the year I was Fan Guest of Honor.  (Died 2002) [JH]
  • Born June 25, 1944 – Rick Gellman, age 76.  Art Shows and Dealers’ Rooms at various conventions.  Helped start a Gordy Dickson Memorial Scholarship Fund for sending writers to Clarion.  Founded the Minnesota Munchie Movement.  [JH]
  • Born June 25, 1958 – Pat Sayre McCoy, age 62.  She chaired WindyCon 33 and 34; ran the Green Room at Chicon 2000, the 58th Worldcon; contributed an essay to the wrestling with “SF conventions and Gender Equity” in Journey Planet 13, as did Our Gracious Host. [JH]
  • Born June 25, 1963 – Yann Martel, age 57.  Famous for The Life of Pi, second of three SF novels (besides writing Beatrice and Virgil, which is not about those two historical persons, nor a book-length treatment of The Divine Comedy, but – well, read it for yourself).  A theatrical adaptation of Pi with puppets (no, not hand puppets) was a great success and was scheduled to open in London this month, naturally postponed.  [JH]
  • Born June 25, 1980 – Amanda Arista, age 40.  Third novel about Merci Lenard, who always gets her story but doesn’t always get the truth she wants, just released in January.  Three novels about an urban panther.  AA herself likes bowling, croquet, and the SMU (Southern Methodist University) Creative Writing Program in which she once studied and now teaches.  [JH]

(9) US IN FLUX. The latest story for the Center for Science and the Imagination’s Us in Flux project launched today: “A Cyber-Cuscuta Manifesto,” a story about big data, emerging life forms, and a plea for coexistence by Regina Kanyu Wang.

 It was a public hearing held online. Billions of people crowded into the meeting room, in suits, in pajamas, on treadmills, on sofas, in groups in front of large screens suspended above busy streets, alone at home with VR headsets on. The host called for silence and their words were translated into myriad languages, in both sound and text. The audience held its collective breath and waited for the special guest to show. A face appeared, vague in detail, like billions of faces merged into one. The face began to talk, in an equally vague voice, in thousands of languages at the same time, alien but also familiar to everyone…

On Monday, June 29 at 4 p.m. Eastern, they’ll have another virtual event on Zoom with Regina in conversation with Athena Aktipis, a psychology researcher who studies cooperation across systems, from human sharing to cancer. Registration required.

(10) TONI WEISSKOPF Q&A. Author Robert E. Hampson interviewed Baen Books publisher Toni Weisskopf for his Wake Forest University class.

(11) BOUNTY PAID. “Rare ‘Star Wars’ Toys Attract Big Money At Auction”Forbes reported some high sales figures in March – but also that one rare item failed to attract its minimum bid.

One of the most sought after Star Wars collectibles has sold for $93,750 at auction.

Bidding on the Rocket-Firing Boba Fett started at $30,000 but had already exceeded the $60,000 lower estimate before the auction began thanks to several absentee bids. The final sale price includes the buyer’s premium.

The unpainted promotional item, made of blue plastic, is a prototype that utilized an L-Slot design named after the shape of the backpack mechanism to allow the rocket to fire. It was created by toymaker Kenner to promote the second film in the franchise, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. It is one of the few prototypes known to exist. The launcher design was amended to a J-Slot mechanism and eventually replaced by a non-firing version. None of the firing toys were ever made available to the general public.

This item is the latest to be available on the market. A similar item sold at auction through Hakes in July 2019 for $112,926. Another, one that had been painted and had a J-Slot design in the backpack, sold for $185,850 in November 2019. Both prices include the buyer’s premium.

(12) LUNAR LOO. “NASA and HeroX Launch Lunar Loo Challenge to Find Way for Astronauts to Poop on the Moon”. So, will this be an outhouse with a crescent Earth on the door?

HeroX, the social network for innovation and the world’s leading platform for crowdsourced solutions, today launched the crowdsourcing competition “Lunar Loo” on behalf of the NASA Tournament Lab (NTL) and NASA’s Human Landing System (HLS) Program. NASA is preparing to return to the Moon by 2024 and needs to develop a new way for astronauts to urinate and defecate in microgravity and lunar gravity. The crowdsourcing challenge calls on the global community of innovators to provide innovative design concepts for fully capable, low mass toilets that can be used both in space and on the moon.

Competitive toilet designs will align with NASA’s overall goals of reduced mass and volume, lower power consumption, and easy maintenance. Selected designs may be modified for integration into Artemis lunar landers. This effort is all part of NASA’s Artemis program to return astronauts to the moon in 2024.

HeroX says this is the payoff:

This Lunar Toilet Challenge has a total prize purse of $35,000 that will be shared among the teams submitting the top three designs in the Technical category.  The top three participants in the Junior category will each receive public recognition and an item of official NASA-logoed merchandise.

(13) ABOUT THE WEATHER. I’ll bet they were.

(14) FROM HIDDEN FIGURE TO MARQUEE NAME. BBC reports “Nasa to name HQ after first black female engineer”.

Nasa is to name its headquarters in Washington DC after its first black female engineer, Mary Jackson.

Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine said Jackson had helped to break down barriers for African Americans and women in engineering and technology.

The story of Mary Jackson was told in the 2016 film Hidden Figures. Born in Hampton, Virginia, she died in 2005.

Last year, Nasa renamed the street outside its headquarters as Hidden Figures Way.

“Hidden no more, we will continue to recognise the contributions of women, African Americans, and people of all backgrounds who have made Nasa’s successful history of exploration possible,” Mr Bridenstine said in a statement.

“Mary W Jackson was part of a group of very important women who helped Nasa succeed in getting American astronauts into space,” Mr Bridenstine added.

“Mary never accepted the status quo, she helped break barriers and open opportunities for African Americans and women in the field of engineering and technology.”

(15) LISTEN TO THE RHYTHM OF THE FALLING RAIN. “The Science Behind That Fresh Rain Smell”.

Scientists have known for decades that one of the main causes of the smell of fresh rain is geosmin: a chemical compound produced by soil-dwelling bacteria. But why do the bacteria make it in the first place? It was a bacteria-based mystery… until now! Maddie gets some answers from reporter Emily Vaughn, former Short Wave intern.

Transcript here

(16) FORK OVER. Snippet good! “Google to pay for ‘high quality’ news in three countries”.

Google says it will pay some news outlets for “high-quality” stories that it uses amid pressure from publishers.

Part of the initiative will require Google to pay for its users to access news stories otherwise locked behind a so-called paywall on certain websites.

The first sites to join are in Australia, Brazil, and Germany, with a product launch set for later this year.

It comes as authorities in some countries investigate how tech firms use news content without paying for it.

Australia has put forward plans to force Google and Facebook to pay news publishers under competition rules.

France has already issued Google with an order to do so.

It is the latest development in a long-standing row with news publishers over whether tech giants should pay them to include “snippets” of news articles in search results or on social media.

(17) YOUTH’S A STUFF WILL NOT ENDURE. “Parties — Not Protests — Are Causing Spikes In Coronavirus”, according to NPR.

As the U.S. begins to open back up, coronavirus clusters — where multiple people contract COVID-19 at the same event or location — are popping up all over the country. And despite drawing massive crowds, protests against police violence and racial injustice in Washington state weren’t among those clusters.

“We did have a rally in Bellingham, which is our county seat, and there was also a protest, and we have not been able to connect a single case to that rally or to the protest, and what we’re finding is in large part that’s due to the use of masks,” Erika Lautenbach, the director of the Whatcom County Health Department in Washington State, tells NPR’s All Things Considered. “Almost everyone at the rally was wearing a mask, and it’s really a testament to how effective masks are in preventing the spread of this disease.”

For the clusters that have popped up, Lautenbach says the state has been using contact tracing to learn more about how they’re contributing to the spread of the virus. For instance, it found that 14 cases were associated with a party of 100 to 150 people in early June. Subsequently, 15 more cases were associated with the original 14.

“So that one event spread to 29 people and 31 related employers,” Lautenbach says. “Our challenge is to continue to trace as it moves through families, as it moves through workplaces and as it moves through social events as well.”

But protests just aren’t spreading the disease in the same way, Lautenbach says.

“We’re finding that the social events and gatherings, these parties where people aren’t wearing masks, are our primary source of infection,” Lautenbach says. “And then the secondary source of infection is workplace settings. There were 31 related employers just associated with that one party because of the number of people that brought that to their workplace. So for us, for a community our size, that’s a pretty massive spread.”

And much of that spread, Lautenbach says, is affecting young people.

“We have seen almost a near flip in the cases that we’re experiencing,” Lautenbach says. “So in April of this year, we were really struggling with long-term-care outbreaks. And so about 3 out of 4 people were over the age of 30 and really pretty heavily skewed to 60-plus. And by contrast, in June, we’re seeing that now 2 out of 3 people that have contracted this disease are under 29.”

(18) SPLICING EDGE. NPR reports,“A Year In, 1st Patient To Get Gene Editing For Sickle Cell Disease Is Thriving”.

Like millions of other Americans, Victoria Gray has been sheltering at home with her children as the U.S. struggles through a deadly pandemic, and as protests over police violence have erupted across the country.

But Gray is not like any other American. She’s the first person with a genetic disorder to get treated in the United States with the revolutionary gene-editing technique called CRISPR.

And as the one-year anniversary of her landmark treatment approaches, Gray has just received good news: The billions of genetically modified cells doctors infused into her body clearly appear to be alleviating virtually all the complications of her disorder, sickle cell disease.

(19) DON’T LESNERIZE. Dean Koontz, in the course of telling fans his new book Devoted is available, filled them in about his experience dining out in newly-reopened California.

Wow, after months of having to eat at home every night, we here in Koontzland were excited when our favorite restaurants began to do business again this past week. We went with Ms. Elsa on opening day. The patio tables were ten or twelve feet apart, the waiters wore masks and gloves, the busboys wore full-face plastic shields, and the mood-music guitarist kept alternating between “Eve of Destruction” and “Saint James Infirmary.” It was sooooo romantic!

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

Pixel Scroll 3/13/20 The Sun Comes Shining As I Was Scrolling, The Pixels Waving And The Dust Clouds Rolling

(1) BUTTIGIEG INTERVIEWS SIR PAT. “Recently unemployed” Mayor Pete Buttigieg guest-hosted The Jimmy Kimmel Show. Due to public health concerns over the coronavirus, they cancelled their studio audience. Sir Patrick Stewart was a guest on the show.

Sir Patrick talks about Mayor Pete’s huge “Star Trek” fandom, civil disobedience, Sir Ian McKellen performing the multiple marriage ceremonies he had to his wife, and he surprises Mayor Pete with one of his original scripts from “Star Trek.”

They also did a sketch about “a Star Trek trivia game show for the ages called ‘Who’s the Captain Now?’” hosted by LeVar Burton.

(2) HELIOSPHERE CANCELLED. Heliosphere, which was to have been held April 3-5 in Tarrytown, NY has been called off. The committee has not yet decides whether to try and hold it later this year.

Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus, HELIOsphere 2020 will not be running as scheduled for April 3-5. At this time, we don’t know whether we will be postponing or simply cancelling for this year. We will keep you posted as we work out the details with the hotel.

(3) STOKERCON STATUS. The Horror Writers Association’s annual StokerCon is scheduled to be held in the U.K. next month. HWA President John Palisano gave this update to Facebook readers today:

At this time, more than two-thirds of attendees are based in the U.K., you should all be aware that the political situation has been changing by the hour. Only in the last 24 hours has travel in Europe (with the exception of the U.K.) been generally banned. The U.K. may take a similar step, or the U.S. may prohibit travel to and from there. So it’s a very real possibility that in the next few days, the decision of whether to hold the Con may be taken out of our hands. We don’t want to cancel the event unnecessarily, because that could cause severe financial hardship to many of our attendees and volunteers. On the other hand, we want to be respectful of individual decisions about whether or not to travel. We ask for you to be patient for a few more days while we try to sort out various options, including streaming the Bram Stoker Awards ceremony.

Meanwhile, our Librarians Day event, scheduled for May 7th of this year in Chicago, is still a go at this point. The organizers are also carefully watching this pandemic and are working on contingencies should the issues stretch that far into the future. They will have an announcement tomorrow.

Know that heading my first StokerCon as President of the HWA carries no small weight, and that my main priority is and will remain our members’ safety and well-being as we navigate these treacherous and unmapped waters.

(4) UP IN THE AIR. Fans inquiring about the status of Minicon 55, planned for April 10-12 in Minneapolis, have been told there’s a committee meeting this weekend and an announcement one way or the other may follow.

(5) MORE COVERAGE. Tor.com’s Andrew Liptak is also tracking the status of sff events. “Coronavirus: The Sci-Fi/Fantasy Conventions Canceled So Far”.

Those events include major science fiction, fantasy, and gaming conventions, as well as adjacent events like conferences. We’ve compiled a list of major and regional events that have been postponed, canceled, or which are as of now still running.

(6) SMITHSONIAN’S OPEN ACCESS IMAGE COLLECTION. We ought to be able to do a lot with this: “Smithsonian Releases 2.8 Million Images Into Public Domain”.

Culture connoisseurs, rejoice: The Smithsonian Institution is inviting the world to engage with its vast repository of resources like never before.

For the first time in its 174-year history, the Smithsonian has released 2.8 million high-resolution two- and three-dimensional images from across its collections onto an open access online platform for patrons to peruse and download free of charge. Featuring data and material from all 19 Smithsonian museums, nine research centers, libraries, archives and the National Zoo, the new digital depot encourages the public to not just view its contents, but use, reuse and transform them into just about anything they choose—be it a postcard, a beer koozie or a pair of bootie shorts.

And this gargantuan data dump is just the beginning. Throughout the rest of 2020, the Smithsonian will be rolling out another 200,000 or so images, with more to come as the Institution continues to digitize its collection of 155 million items and counting.

When I searched “science fiction” lots more photogenic things came up – from lunch boxes to C3PO – but I was intrigued by this 1951 Astounding advertising rate card:

(7) SCIENCE IN THE HOUSE. That’s candidate Brianna Wu’s latest appeal:

Media has focused on the dangers of Coronavirus. Brianna Wu speaks with Geneticist Frank Wu about the possible treatments and vaccines being developed by the biotech industry

(8) ANOTHER WORLD. Henry Lien posted this thought experiment on Facebook.

WHAT WOULD THE WORLD BE LIKE IF EVERYONE WERE LIKE YOU?
I used to play a game and ask people what the world would be like if everyone were like you. Here are some features of my world.
1. Restaurants would be filled with constant people traffic as everyone went to wash their hands after touching the menu and after touching cash.
2. Doorknobs, elevator buttons, light switches, hotel TV remotes, and ATM interfaces would all be redesigned for elbows.
3. There’d be no shoes in the house and people would bow instead of shaking hands.
4. Everyone would be at home on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights happily writing, making music, reading, or playing Nintendo.
5. No one would get a cold more than once every ten years.
6. Extroverts and free-spirited folks would be miserable.

(9) SPEAKER IN THE HOUSE. Cat Rambo shares her experience in “How to Stay Sane and Productive While Working at Home”. One of her eight main headings is —

Exercise is good. You may not be able to get to the gym — I’m currently avoiding it, myself — but you will be happier and healthier if you are doing something. For me, that’s walking, because I’m lucky enough to live in a great area for it. I also have a standing desk that I got from Ikea years back. Your mileage may (literally) vary, but at least stretch when you can and be mindful of your back.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • March 13, 1927 Metropolis premiered in Germany. It was directed by Fritz Lang. It was written by Thea von Harbou in collaboration with Lang. It stars Gustav Fröhlich, Alfred Abel, Rudolf Klein-Rogge and Brigitte Helm. The film’s message is encapsulated in the final inter-title of “The Mediator Between the Head and the Hands Must Be the Heart.” In 2001 the film was placed upon UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, the first film so distinguished. It is considered one of the greatest films ever made, and has a 92% rating among audience members at Rotten Tomatoes. You can see it here.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 13, 1911 L. Ron Hubbard. Ok I’ll admit that I tried reading Battlefield Earth and really didn’t like it. Some of his early pulp fiction is actually quite good. So what do y’all think of him as a genre writer? (Died 1986.)
  • Born March 13, 1928 Douglas Rain. Though most of his work was as a stage actor, he was the voice of the HAL 9000 for 2001: A Space Odyssey and its sequel. He’s in Sleeper a few years later as the voices of the Evil Computer and Various Robot Butlers. (Died 2018.)
  • Born March 13, 1932 Richard Lawrence Purtill. He’s here because EoSF list him as the author of  Murdercon, a1982 novel where a murder is discovered at a SF Convention. I’ve not heard of it but was wondering if y’all had heard of this work. (Died 2016.)
  • Born March 13, 1938 David McKail, 82. He was Sergeant Kyle in the Fourth Doctor story, “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”. He also was Sir Henry Roscoe in Beatrix: The Early Life of Beatrix Potter, and was in the adaptation of Iain Banks’ The Crow Road which I know is neither genre or genre adjacent but it had Peter Capaldi in it.  
  • Born March 13, 1950 William H. Macy Jr., 70. I’ll start his Birthday note by noting that he was in the superb Pleasantville as George Parker. He’s shown up in a lot of genre works including but limited to Somewhere in Time, Evolver, The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue, The Night of the Headless Horseman, Jurassic Park III, Sahara and The Tale of Despereaux.
  • Born March 13, 1956 Dana Delany, 63. I’ve come today to praise her work as a voice actress. She was in a number of DCU animated films, first as Andrea Beaumont in Batman: The Mask of The Phantasm, then as Lois Lane in Superman: The Animated Series, Superman: Brainiac Attacks and Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. (That’s not a complete listing.) Remember that Wing Commander film? Well there was an animated series, Wing Commander Academy, in which she was Gwen Archer Bowman. 
  • Born March 13, 1966 Alastair Reynolds, 54. As depressing as they are given what they lead up to, The Prefect Dreyfus novels are my favorite novels by him. That said, Chasm City was fascinating. The only ones by him that I absolutely failed to get any enthusiasm for is his Revenger Universe series.
  • Born March 13, 1967 Lou Anders, 53. Hugo-winning Editor. He’s has been editorial director of Prometheus Books’ SF  imprint Pyr since its launch fifteen years ago. He’s a crack editor of anthologies. I’ve very fond of his Live Without a Net, Sideways in Time and FutureShocks anthologies. I note that he has a fantasy trilogy, Thrones and Bones, but I’ve not heard of it til now.
  • Born March 13, 1968 Jen Gunnels, 52. Writer and genre theater critic, the latter a rare thing indeed. She does her reviews for Journal of the Fantastic in the ArtsFoundation: The Review of Science Fiction and New York Review of Science Fiction. With Erin Underwood, she has edited Geek Theater: Anthology of Science Fiction and Fantasy Plays

(12) KGB TO STREAM. The Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series with Daniel Braum and Robert Levy has been converted to a livestream. Hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel invite everyone to see it here on YouTube on March 18 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

We will, for the first time in our history, be live-streaming readings from both of our authors on YouTube. We hope you will join us for this historic event.

UPDATE March 13, 2020: For the safety and well-being of our readers and guests, we have decided to cancel this month’s in-person Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading with guests Daniel Braum & Robert Levy.

Instead, we will be hosting a YouTube Live event with both authors, who will be reading their work. Anyone with YouTube access can watch.

(13) PIKE PEEK. We Got This Covered confirmed “Captain Pike Star Trek Spinoff Series Reportedly In Development”.

… Of course, there’ve been calls for CBS to move ahead with such a spinoff for the past couple of years. EP Alex Kurtzman has addressed the possibility in the past, refusing to rule it out and commenting that they’re trying to find ways to bring these characters back. True, they did all appear in a few episodes of the Short Treks anthology series, but this didn’t fully satiate our appetite to see more of Pike and his crew.

As Discovery itself addressed, Pike is fated to meet a tragic end. As detailed in an episode of TOS, he’s eventually left paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair after rescuing Starfleet cadets from a delta ray radiation leak. Our intel says that this spinoff show will build up to that fate, properly filling the gap between TOS‘ pilot, “The Cage,” and his return in “The Menagerie.”

(14) WEEKEND NEWS BACKDATE. Galactic Journey’s John Boston has a 1965 news flash: “[March 12, 1965] Sic Transit (April 1965 Amazing]”.

The big news, previously rumored, is that Amazing and its stablemate Fantastic are to change hands.  The April Science Fiction Times just arrived, with the big headline “ ‘AMAZING STORIES’ AND ‘FANTASTIC’ SOLD TO SOL COHEN.” Cohen is the publisher of Galaxy, If, and Worlds of Tomorrow, but will resign at the end of next month to take up his new occupation. 

Why is this happening?  Probably because circulation, which had been increasing, started to decline again in 1962 (when I started reviewing it!).  The SF Times article adds, tendentiously and questionably, that “the magazine showed what appeared to be a lack of interest by its editors.” Read their further comment and draw your own conclusions on that point.

(15) ACROSS THE DIVIDE. Law & Liberty’s Brian A. Smith, in “Ursula Le Guin and the Persistence of Tragedy”, looks at The Dispossessed from the right.

At least when their authors avoid offering a thesis, novels acquire peculiar value in deranged times. They allow us to see cracks in our political and social foundations from another perspective, and as a result, open paths to conversation and thought that might otherwise remain closed. Lots of genres can unsettle us, but one peculiarity of science fiction is that its authors have the freedom to create worlds.

At the genre’s most stereotypical, this license to invent lends itself to both ham-fisted allegories and didacticism. But if the author happens to be coming from the “right” direction, so to speak, and has some real talent, it’s relatively easy to take an imaginative leap into their world. Reaching beyond one’s own tribe may present a challenge, however. It is difficult to read David Drake, Iain Banks, China Miéville, Robert Heinlein, or John Varley without observing how they view human nature, what they think family means, or the political order they endorse—and a lot more besides.

Critics often complain that such novels fail precisely because they think the author is stacking the deck in favor of their pet ideas. It’s easy for partisans to forgive this because such novels entertain while also fortifying our opinions against a hostile world. And it’s not surprising that sci-fi readership so often divides along partisan lines.

The Work of Sympathy

It is harder to name many great works of science fiction that offer a definitive point of view, while also presenting us with unresolvable tensions and latent anxieties that no attentive reader can quite escape. Neal Stephenson’s best work probably qualifies. Arguably Frank Herbert’s Dune or Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos also do this. We need the sympathy and broadening of horizons that such novels can cultivate more than ever, and for the present moment, the most compelling book of this kind remains Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed.

(16) STANDING UP. “Disney promises LGBT ‘commitment’: ‘We want to represent our audience'”.

Disney has promised to continue making films and TV shows with “an increased commitment” to diversity in its output, according to its boss Bob Chapek.

“We want to represent our audience,” he said at a meeting for the company’s shareholders this week.

“We want to tell stories that our audience wants to hear, that reflects their lives.”

He was responding to a question about LGBT characters in their films and pride events at theme parks.

There will be a transgender character in a future Marvel film, and upcoming superhero movie The Eternals will introduce Marvel’s first openly gay lead character to cinema screens.

…At the shareholder’s meeting, Disney CEO Bob Chapek was asked a question by Catholic campaigner Caroline Farrow, who represents conservative group Citizen Go.

As part of her question, she asked: “Is it perhaps time to reconsider what you can do to make Disney more family friendly, to make it safe for people around the world, not just one particular minority?”

She also claimed a petition which asks Disney not to hold gay pride events in its parks was signed by “almost 700,000 people”

(17) CLIMB EV’RY MOUNTAIN – NOT. From the BBC — “Mount Everest: Nepal’s government shuts off mountain amid virus outbreak”.

Mount Everest has shut down for the rest of the expedition season because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Nepal’s government announced that it would cancel all climbing permits from 14 March until 30 April.

China had already cancelled expeditions from the northern, Chinese-controlled, side of the mountain.

According to the Kathmandu Post, Nepal earns $4m (£3.1m) by issuing Everest climbing permits every year, aside from wider tourism revenue.

(18) THAT IS NOT DEAD… “Marine pollution: Russian fly spray and 1800s shoes among beach litter”.

Russian fly spray, US prohibition-era rum, shoes from the 1800s and a council bin have been among the stranger items to have washed up on British shores.

To highlight pollution, the National Trust has revealed the oddest objects to wash up on beaches it manages.

The 19th Century shoes, Russian insect spray and an aerosol from Saudi Arabia were all found at Orford Ness, Suffolk.

The National Trust saidit illustrated the “deluge” of marine litter and how long items such as plastic could last.

(19) NO PICTURES! They tore it out by the roots: “Christmas Island: ‘A giant robber crab stole my camera'” — video, including some impressively mangled equipment and a crab walking off with a coconut.

Researcher Annabel Dorrestein set up a thermal imaging camera to study flying foxes, or bats, at night on Australia’s Christmas Island.

But when she returned one morning to collect the camera, she discovered it had been stolen – almost certainly by the island’s famous robber crabs.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/14/19 We Are All In The Pixel, But Some Of Us Are Looking At The Scrolls

(1) ONE STOP SHOPPING. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] SF2 Concatenation’s Autumn 2019 edition is up. Voluminous seasonal news and reviews page of both SF and science which includes the major UK SF/fantasy imprint book releases between now and New Year.  (Many of these will be available as imports in N. America and elsewhere.)

(2) LEM V. DICK. [Editor’s note: I apologize for what amounts to misspelling, but characters that WordPress would display as question marks have been changed to a letter of the alphabet without marks.]

[Item by Jan Vanek Jr.] Yesterday the English-language website of the Polish magazine Przekrój published (and started promoting on Facebook, hence my knowledge) the translation of a 2,700-word excerpt (not a self-contained “chapter” as they claim) from Wojciech Orlinski’s 2017 biography of Stanislaw Lem detailing what led to “the famous Lem-Dick imbroglio” with PKD’s “famous Lem report to the FBI”: “access to previously unpublished letters […] resulted in what is likely the first accurate description of the incident, as well as the ultimate explanation as to how the concept of ‘foreign royalties under communism’ is almost as much of a mess as ‘fine dining under communism’ (but not quite as fine a mess)”:

…It all began with Lem’s depiction of Dick – in the third of his great essay collections, Science Fiction and Futurology as little more than a talentless hack. Lem had a poor opinion of almost all American authors, and never thought much of the literary genre of which he himself was an exponent (think of his equally critical view of Pirx the Pilot, for example, or Return from the Stars)….

I found it a quite informative and interesting read, although “Lem’s unfortunate expulsion from the SFWA” that ensued is mentioned only briefly and I think misleadingly (I have checked the Polish book and there is nothing more about it, but it has been described in American sources, many of them online).

(3) ABOUT AO3’S HUGO AWARD. The Organization for Transformative Works has clarified to Archive of Our Own participants — “Hugo Award – What it Means”.

We’re as excited as you are about the AO3’s Hugo win, and we are shouting it to the rafters! We are grateful to the World Science Fiction Society for recognizing the AO3 with the award, as well as to the many OTW volunteers who build and maintain the site, and all of the amazing fans who post and enjoy works on it.

The World Science Fiction Society has asked us to help them get the word out about what the award represented—specifically, they want to make sure people know that the Hugo was awarded to the AO3, and not to any particular work(s) hosted on it. Therefore, while we can all be proud of the AO3’s Hugo win and we can all be proud of what we contributed to making it possible, the award does not make any individual fanwork or creator “Hugo winners”—the WSFS awarded that distinction to the AO3 as a whole. In particular, the WSFS asked us to convey this reminder so that no one mistakenly describes themselves as having personally won a Hugo Award.

Thanks for sharing our enthusiasm, and consider yourselves reminded! We appreciate every one of your contributions.

So far there are 80 comments, any number by Kevin Standlee making Absolutely Clear Everybody Must Understand Things Exactly The Way He Does. One reply says, “You aren’t doing a particularly good job of reading the room here.”

(4) ARISIA PERSISTED. Arisia 2020 has issued its first online Progress Report. Key points: (1) It’s happening! (2) It’s (back) at the Westin Boston Waterfront. (3) The headliners are Cadwell Turnbull, Author Guest of Honor, Kristina Carroll, Artist Guest of Honor, and Arthur Chu, Fan Guest of Honor.

(5) BOO!  LAist primes fans for Universal Studios’ Halloween mazes: “Halloween Horror Nights: A Photo Tour Of The New ‘Ghostbusters’ & ‘Us’ Mazes At Universal Studios”.

Halloween’s almost here… well, OK, it’s more than a month away, but that means it’s time for Halloween haunts — aka Halloween mazes, aka scary Halloween things at theme parks and the like, to start.

Halloween Horror Nights has been taking over Universal Studios Hollywood for 21 years, and we got the chance to take a behind-the-scenes tour of two of the brand new mazes, Ghostbusters and Us. We were guided through by Creative Director John Murdy, the man in charge of creating the stories and the scares inside all of the mazes.

He works with an art director to design every moment, writing treatments for each attraction than can run up to 100 pages.

“It’s a narrative from the guest’s POV — everything I see, hear, smell, etcetera, as if I’m going through the maze,” Murdy said. “But it also has a very elaborate technical breakdown by scene, by discipline, down to the timecode of the audio cues.”

(6) DUBLIN 2019. Cora Buhlert’s report begins with — “WorldCon 77 in Dublin, Part 1: The Good…”. There’s also a shorter version for the Speculative Fiction Showcase: “Cora’s Adventures at Worldcon 77 in Dublin, Ireland”. Each has lots of photos.

…On Wednesday, the day before WorldCon officially started, I helped with move in and set-up at Point Square. This involved carrying boxes, assembling shelves for the staff lounge and crafting area, taping down table cloths and helping to set up the Raksura Colony Tree model. This was my first time volunteering at a WorldCon and it was a great experience. Not only do you get to help to make a great project like WorldCon happen, no, you also get to meet a lot of lovely people while volunteering. Especially if you’re new to WorldCon and don’t know anybody yet, I recommend volunteering as a way to meet people and make friends. What is more, I also got a handful of groats (which I used to buy a very pretty necklace in the dealers room) and a cool t-shirt.

(7) MEMORIAL. Jim C. Hines tweeted the link to his post about the Memorial held for his wife, Amy, on September 8, a touching and highly personal tribute.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • September 14, 2008The Hunger Games novel hit bookstores. (For some reason, the bookstores did not hit back.)

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 14, 1915 Douglas Kennedy. No major SFF roles that I see but he’s been in a number of films of a genre nature: The Way of All Flesh, The Ghost Breakers, The Mars InvadersThe Land UnknownThe Lone Ranger and the Lost City of GoldThe Alligator People and The Amazing Transparent Man. Series wise, he had one-offs on Alcoa PresentsScience Fiction TheatreAlfred Hitchcock Presents and The Outer Limits. (Died 1973.)
  • Born September 14, 1919 Claire P. Beck. Editor of the Science Fiction Critic, a fanzine which published in four issues Hammer and Tongs, the first work of criticism devoted to American SF. It was written by his brother Clyde F. Beck. Science Fiction Critic was published from 1935 to 1938. (Died 1999.)
  • Born September 14, 1927 Martin Caidin. His best-known novel is Cyborg which was the basis for The Six Million Dollar Man franchise. He wrote two novels in the Indiana Jones franchise and one in the Buck Rogers one as well. He wrote myriad other sf novels as well. (Died 1997.)
  • Born September 14, 1932 Joyce Taylor, 87. She first shows as Princess Antillia in Atlantis, the Lost Continent. Later genre appearances were The Man from U.N.C.L.E., the first English language Beauty and the Beast film, the horror film Twice-Told Tales and the Men into Space SF series. 
  • Born September 14, 1936 Walter Koenig, 83. Best-known for his roles as Pavel Chekov in the original Trek franchise and Alfred Bester on Babylon 5Moontrap, a SF film with him and Bruce Campbell, would garner a 28% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and InAlienable which he executive produced, wrote and acts in has no rating there. 
  • Born September 14, 1941 Bruce Hyde. Patterns emerge in doing these Birthdays. One of these patterns is that original Trek had a lot of secondary performers who had really short acting careers. He certainly did. He portrayed Lt. Kevin Riley in two episodes, “The Naked Time” and “The Conscience of the King” and the rest of his acting career consisted of eight appearances, four of them as Dr. Jeff Brenner.  He acted for less than two years in ‘65 and ‘66, before returning to acting thirty-four years later to be in The Confession of Lee Harvey Oswald which is his final role. (Died 2015.)
  • Born September 14, 1947 Sam Neill, 72. Best known for role of Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic Park which he reprised in Jurassic Park III. He was also in Omen III: The Final Conflict, Possession, Memoirs of an Invisible ManSnow White: A Tale of TerrorBicentennial ManLegend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’HooleThe Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas BoxThor: Ragnarok and Peter Rabbit. 
  • Born September 14, 1961 Justin Richards, 58. Clute at ESF says “Richards is fast and competent.” Well I can certain say he’s fast as he’s turned out thirty-five Doctor Who novels which Clute thinks are for the YA market between 1994 and 2016. And he has other series going as well! Another nineteen novels written, and then there’s the Doctor Who non-fiction which runs to over a half dozen works.  

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frank and Ernest ask deep questions about Pokémon.
  • A Tom Gauld cartoon about The Testaments launch in The Guardian.

(11) LUCAS MUSEUM. George Lucas, his wife Mellody Hobson, and the mayor dropped by the site yesterday to see how things are going: “Force Is With Them! Construction Of George Lucas Museum In Full Swing”.

Construction of the George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is in full swing.

On Friday, Lucas — along with his wife and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti — watched as construction crews helped bring his vision to life.

And he thanked them for the tireless effort.

“You’re doing the impossible — thank you so much,” Lucas said.

“Millions of people will be inspired by this building. We were just in our board meeting for the museum and George said you are the artists so you’re the artists of this art museum,” says Mellody Hobson, Co-CEO of Ariel Investments and the museum’s co-founder.

(12) LISTEN TO LIEN. Henry Lien is the Special Guest Star on this week’s episode of  The Write Process podcast, hosted by the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program — “Henry Lien on Worldbuilding, Puzzle Stories, Middle Grade, & Peasprout Chen: Battle of Champions”

Henry Lien teaches law and creative writing at UCLA Extension. A private art dealer, he is the author of the Peasprout Chen middle grade fantasy series, which received New York Times acclaim and starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and Booklist.

(13) COSPLAY ID’S. SYFY Wire has collected all the tweeted photos — “Detroit high school encourages students to dress as pop culture icons for ID photos”.

High school can be a turbulent time for any budding teenager, but when you’re allowed to dress up as your favorite movie or television character, facing picture day isn’t the daunting challenge it once was. Per a report from The Huffington Post, North Farmington High School in the suburbs of Detroit allowed its senior pupils to assume the persona of their favorite pop culture icon for the sake of ID photographs. What followed was a parade of Woodys (Toy Story), Shuris (Black Panther) Fionas (Shrek), creepy twins (The Shining), and so many more!

(14) GUTS. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna profiles YA graphic novelist Raina Telgemeier, whose autobiographical graphic novels have sold 13.5 million copies and  who attracted an audience of 4,000 to her talk at the National Book Festival. “Raina Telgemeier became a hero to millions of readers by showing how uncomfortable growing up can be”.

…Now, because her fans kept asking, she is getting more personal than ever. The Eisner Award-winning author who launched her publishing empire with 2010?s “Smile,” about her years-long dental adventures as a kid, is prepared to bare new parts of her interior world with “Guts,” available Tuesday, which centers on how fear affected her body.

 “This is the reality of my life,” Telgemeier told her fans. She quickly got to the heart and GI tract of the matter: “I was subject to panic attacks and [was] worrying that something was really wrong with me.”…

(15) SIGNAL BOOST. Naomi Kritzer offers an incentive for supporting a cause that needs a cash infusion.

(16) MARATHON SITTINGS. The Hollywood Reporter considers “The Long Game: Super-Sized Movies Are Testing the Patience of Audiences”.

And there may be a financial cost. Over the Sept. 6-8 weekend, New Line and director Andy Muschietti’s It: Chapter Two opened to $91 million domestically, a 26 percent decline from the first It, which debuted to $123.4 million on the same weekend in 2017. The sequel ran a hefty 169 minutes, 34 minutes longer than its predecessor.

“Andy had a lot of story to tell in concluding his adaptation of Stephen King’s book, which is more than 1,100 pages,” says Jeff Goldstein, chief of distribution for Warner Bros., New Line’s parent. “We strategically added more shows and locations to counterbalance losing a show on each screen.”

Adds a rival studio executive regarding It: Chapter Two, “look, $91 million is a great number. But anytime the second film in a hoped-for franchise goes down — and not up — that’s not what you wish for. And I do think the fact that it was so long didn’t help.”

(17) COLBERT. Stephen Colbert’s “Meanwhile…” news roundup includes a furry joke related to the movie Cats, and a bit on “The 5D Porn Cinema No One Asked For.” These items start at 2.02 — here on YouTube.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Cinema verite of author Liz Hand on Vimeo. A 5-minute video of Hand at work and play

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

Pixel Scroll 6/30/19 The Scroller I File, The Pixel I Get

(1) AVOIDING THE HIT PARADE. The Planetary Society welcomes you to enroll in “Asteroid Defense 101” “A short course introduction to asteroid impact and what we can do to prevent it.” It’s free.

In this course, you’ll learn about the threat of asteroid impact, the history of asteroid impacts on Earth, asteroids and comets in general, and The Planetary Society’s 5 step plan to prevent asteroid impact. At the end of the course you’ll be presented with resources to learn more, and encouraged to share what you’ve learned with others. The entire course can be completed in about an hour or a little bit more. See below to learn about the instructor and see the curriculum. Let’s save the world!

(2) HE’S IN THE BOOK. Henry Lien celebrated his discovery that he’s the subject of a Wikipedia article. “Achievement Unlocked,” he called it. The entry begins —

Lien is originally from Taiwan and lives in Hollywood, California. He has been an attorney, a teacher at UCLC Extension, and an art dealer in Los Angeles, representing artists from the Americas and Eurasia. He has also served as president of the West Hollywood Fine Art Dealers’ Association and on the board of the West Hollywood Avenues of Art and Design.

(3) ONE TO BEAM DOWN. The latest gatekeeping controversy inspired Kiya Nicoll to explain “I Was Born To Be A Fake Fan”.

…My first serious fannish activity was writing Star Trek: The Next Generation fanfic, largely focusing on my two favorite/self-insert characters: Data and Wesley Crusher.

My first social fanac was half-assedly joining a play-by-mail Starfleet simulation RPG.

My first “no shit there I was” fan story was giving a homemade snickerdoodle cookie to Brent Spiner.

You don’t get my fandom experience without Tolkien, for sure; but you damn sure don’t get it without Star Trek, either. Star Trek is where I start doing fandom, as a social thing broader than the scope of my family, rather than merely reading my father’s shelves ravenously. (Though of course my immediate social circle of fic writers included at least one person who sneered at anything involving Wesley Crusher positively, and I came away with the impression that she did it to fit in and I would be expected to do the same. So I stopped sharing my fic.)

I used to comment about the watershed of the post-Star Wars fandom experience; I am pretty sure that the post-Harry Potter fandom experience has only increased this phenomenon. Older fen I saw talk about being teased or bullied for liking science fiction and fantasy; I got a bit of that for reading, generally, but it was a given that I would read genre. Everyone did genre, at least people who actually read.

I was… sometime in my teens before I learned that there was stuff out there that wasn’t genre. It was the Doonesbury sequence on The Bridges of Madison County that did it. This wasn’t something that was explained to me – or remotely apparent to me – before then. Everything I read, I read as Strange People In Unfamiliar Situations, and the same principles applied that to Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson and whatever nonsense was assigned in English class, where it worked just as well as it did on Niven and my beloved Cherryh.

One of my first encounters with old-school convention/zine fandom was being indirectly mocked for saying “sci-fi”, the way my father did, the way everyone I knew did. It was made clear to me that this was the mark of an Outsider, possibly an Interloper, certainly not someone who was qualified to be welcomed into the inner circles….

(4) BACK TO THE FUTURE. Gene Kranz, famed as the voice of Mission Control, helped celebrate the restoration of the historic facility: “NASA Reopens Apollo Mission Control Room That Once Landed Men on Moon” in the New York Times.

…On Friday, Mr. Kranz and Jim Bridenstine, the NASA administrator, cut a ribbon marking the official reopening of the restored Apollo Mission Control Center. It was a three-year, $5 million project, and every inch of the famed heart of America’s lunar aspirations was repaired and refurbished. Its reopening comes three weeks before the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s giant leap for mankind, and helps to kick off Apollo festivities across the country.

Apollo mission control had been abandoned in 1992, with all operations moved to a modernized mission control center elsewhere in the building. Center employees, friends, family — and anyone, really, who had access to Building 30 — could walk in, take a seat, take a lunch break and take pictures.

While they were there, they might take a button from one of the computer consoles. Or a switch or dial, anything small — a personal memento from an ancient American achievement. The furniture fabric and carpet underfoot grew threadbare. The room was dark; none of the equipment had power. Wires hung where rotary phones had once sat. The giant overhead screens in front of the room were damaged, and the room smelled of mildew. Yellow duct tape held carpet together in places….

(5) IT GETS WORSE. The Guardian tells us “German sci-fi fans lap up dystopian tales of Brexit Britain”.

“One basic rule of dystopian fiction is that the future should be worse than the present,” said the German novelist [Tom Hillenbrand]. “But in this case it turns out I was a bit too optimistic.

“In my book Britain has actually worked out how it wants to leave and the EU is preparing a new constitution as a result. The real Brexit is actually much more dystopian.”

Since Drone State was published in Germany to critical acclaim in 2014, two years before the EU referendum on EU membership, a new micro-genre has flourished in the country’s publishing industry: dystopian fiction about Brexit Britain.

(6) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Theodora Goss and Cadwell Turnbull on Wednesday, July 17, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar.

Theodora Goss

Theodora Goss is the World Fantasy and Locus Award-winning author of novels, short stories, essays, and poetry, including debut novel The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter and sequel European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman. She has been a finalist for the Nebula, Crawford, Seiun, and Mythopoeic Awards, as well as on the Tiptree Award Honor List, and her work has been translated into twelve languages. She teaches literature and writing at Boston University and in the Stonecoast MFA Program.

Cadwell Turnbull

Cadwell Turnbull is the author of the The Lesson. His short fiction has appeared in The Verge, Lightspeed, Nightmare, Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018, and The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2019 (forthcoming). He lives with his wife in Somerville, Massachusetts. 

KGB Bar: 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.) New York, NY

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • June 30, 1971 Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory was released on this day

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 30, 1902 Lovat Dickson. Australian-born publisher and author who was half-brother of Gordon R Dickson. He wrote the biography H G Wells: His Turbulent Life and Times. (Died 1987.)
  • Born June 30, 1905 Nestor Paiva. Sometimes it only takes one film or series for a performer to get a Birthday write-up from me. Paiva makes it for Lucas the boat captain in The Creature from the Black Lagoon and its oft-forgotten sequel Revenge of the Creature. Though that was hardly his only genre role as his first role was in the early Forties as an uncredited prison guard in Tarzan’s Desert Mystery and he’d be in many a genre film and series over the decades as Prof. Etienne Lafarge in The Mole People, as the saloon owner in (I kid you not!) Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter, Felicity’s Father in The Spirit Is Willing, Captain Grimby in “The Great Treasure Hunt” of The Adams Family and a Doorman in the “Our Man in Leotards” episode of Get Smart. (Died 1966.)
  • Born June 30, 1920 Sam Moskowitz. SF writer, critic, and historian. Chair of the very first World Science Fiction Convention held in NYC in 1939. He barred several Futurians from the con because they threatened to disrupt it in which was later called the Great Exclusion Act. In the Fifties, He edited Science-Fiction Plus, a short-lived genre magazine owned by Hugo Gernsback, and would edit several dozen anthologies, and a few single-author collections, most published in the Sixties and early Seventies. His most enduring legacy was as a historian of the genre with such works as Under the Moons of Mars: A History and Anthology of “The Scientific Romance” in the Munsey Magazines, 1912–1920 and Hugo Gernsback: Father of Science Fiction. (Died 1997.)
  • Born June 30, 1959 Vincent D’Onofrio, 60. Not Kingpin in that not terribly good or bad Daredevil film, but rather in the Daredevil series, Edgar the Bug in the only truly great Men in Black film and Vic Hoskins in Jurassic World. He also was Jason Whitney / Jerry Ashton in The Thirteenth Floor, loosely based upon  Simulacron-3, a early Sixties novel by Daniel F. Galouye. 
  • Born June 30, 1961 Diane Purkiss, 58. I’ve not read her Corydon Trilogy she wrote with Michael Dowling, her son, but I can say that  At the Bottom of the Garden: A Dark History of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Nymphs, and Other Troublesome Things is as splendid as the title suggests it is. She’s also written Fairies and Fairy Stories: A History.
  • Born June 30, 1966 Peter Outerbridge, 53. Dr. David Sandström in what I think is the underrated ReGenesis series as well as being Henrik “Hank” Johanssen in Orphan Black anda recurring role on Millennium as Special Agent Barry Baldwin. He’s currently in two series, The Umbrella Academy with a recurring role as The Conductor, and as Calix Niklosin in V-Wars, yet another Netflix SF series. 
  • Born June 30, 1972 Molly Parker, 46. Maureen Robinson on the current Lost in Space series. One-offs in Nightmare Cafe, The Outer Limits, The SentinelHighlander: The SeriesPoltergeist: The LegacyHuman Target and she appeared in The Wicker Man asSister Rose / Sister Thorn.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) WILL YOU SEE IT AGAIN? Emergency Awesome gives a rundown of the extras tacked onto the end of the Avengers: Endgame re-release, done in hopes of topping Avatar’s box office record.

Covering new Avengers Endgame Post Credit Scene with Hulk from Endgame Re Release. Special Stan Lee Cameo Scene and Avengers Endgame Spider-Man Far From Home Post Credit Scene. New Footage, Deleted Scenes and Bonus Features. Most of which will be on the Avengers Endgame Blu Ray later this year.

(11) COURT IS IN SESSION. At Legal Eagle, “Real Lawyer Reacts to Daredevil (The Trial of Frank Castle).”

Is Frank Castle a hero or a villain? Is Matt Murdock a good lawyer or a bad one?

A legal analysis of Frank Castle’s trial from season 2 episode 7 and 8 of Marvel’s Daredevil. As Vulture eloquently put it: “In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the “trial of the century” does not concern O.J. Simpson, but Frank Castle. It’s finally time for the Punisher to stand trial, and thanks to just about every imaginable thing going wrong, Nelson and Murdock must defend him against District Attorney Reyes, who has a stacked deck and enough clout to steamroll our favorite tiny firm with ease.”

(12) HUGO’S GREATEST MOMENTS. This is probably well-intended, but my goodness!

Translation: HUGO AWARD 2018: SCIENCE FICTION and FANTASY AWARD – SUMMARY WITH THE BEST MOMENTS http://www.

(13) SHOOTING SPARKS. The Monica Bellucci sf movie Nekrotronic has dropped its official trailer.

(14) NERO. Congratulations to fanartist Taral Wayne (creator of the File 770 masthead), who also is a coin collector and just acquired a fabulous Roman aureus.

To my surprise, the number quoted was not remotely as high as that. Just HOW high, I asked? He did a few calculations about his costs, and compared examples on line, and gave me a number that led me to swallow and say, “I can do that!” Mind you, I will be scraping together everything I can spare for the next three months, along with everything else I had already spend at the show, but I CAN do it. It will be the most expensive coin I have ever bought in the past, or am ever likely to buy in the future, and it was more expensive than anything else of any kind that I have ever bought, but IT IS MINE! I now own a gold aureus by the emperor Nero, roughly 54 to 68 AD. I think I have experienced an epiphany of sorts.

(15) BEST NEW WRITER. Bonnie McDaniel has posted her assessment of the Campbell Finalists. From the middle of her ballot —

3) S.A. Chakraborty (my review of her novel here).

This is an Arabic-inspired fantasy, set in the secret magical land of the daeva, or djinn. This world is well built, with a great weight of history and backstory conveyed without infodumping. There’s also some meaty themes of discrimination and oppression.

(16) RETRO HUGO NOMINEE DECODED. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] For all of us Retro Hugo voters who are confused by the rather incoherent horror film The Seventh Victim, here is an older article from Vice which explains why the movie is so strange: “The 1940s Horror Movie That Embraced Lesbianism and Satanism” (2017).

 The signs are plentiful. Jacqueline has recently married a lawyer Gregory Ward (Hugh Beaumont), yet shows no signs of wanting to take his name or be with him romantically. Ward reveals to Mary, “There’s something about your sister a man can never quite get hold of.” Jacqueline is also “miserable” with her life, necessitating regular visits to psychiatrist Dr Louis Judd. (The doctor is played sarcastically by Tom Conway, who reprises the same character from Lewton’s similarly odd 1942 masterpiece Cat People—a film that also tackles repressed sexuality.) It turns out that Jacqueline has fallen in with the secretive cult and is now wanted dead by its members, who fear that she has told her psychiatrist about them.

In short, the missing women everybody is looking for is a lesbian and because society doesn’t accept her, she becomes depressed and commits suicide. But Jacques Tourneur and Val Lewton weren’t allowed to do more than vaguely hint at the character’s sexual orientation, so they shoehorned in a plot about Satanists, since Satanists are apparently less scary than lesbians.The article certainly caused me to reevaluate the movie, since a) it’s now even less SFF than before, and b) equating lesbians with Satanists is pretty offensive.

(17) ALTERNATE MUSICAL HISTORY. Whether it’s sff or not isn’t something Leonard Maltin is concerned about – it’s the disappointing execution: Yesterday: What A Letdown”.

A good idea is a rare and precious gift. Screenwriter Richard Curtis has had many of them, leading to such films as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually and Notting Hill. He and Jack Barth had another good one: What if a time warp erased the whole world’s memory of The Beatles, and a struggling singer presented their songs as his own? They brought this concept to director Danny Boyle, whose enthusiasm led to Yesterday.

An idea, however, is not the same thing as a story. This film is an unfortunate example of a premise that doesn’t blossom into a full-fledged screenplay. The cast is engaging enough, with Himesh Patel as a hard-luck guy who has greatness thrust upon him and Lily James as his platonic pal. They’ve been like brother and sister since childhood, always there for each other, but neither one can admit that they are truly in love. This relationship, fraught with hesitations and crises, becomes repetitious and tiresome.

(18) PAPER ART. Colossal’s gallery shows how “Quilled Paper Sculptures by Sena Runa Embellish the Natural Forms of Everyday Objects and Animals”. Some sff images among them —  

Sena Runa (previously) twists, folds, and stacks layers of thick paper to create dynamic paper sculptures. The Turkish artist uses a wide range of hues to create chromatic elephants with a rainbow of shades, or work all of the brilliant blues of the ocean into a single sea turtle.

(19) KURTZMAN DEFROCKED. Midnight’s Edge explains why Alex Kurtzman can’t be fired but has been sidelined as the maven of all things Star Trek at CBS.

On June 27, CBS officially confirmed what Midnight’s Edge revealed almost two weeks earlier: that Michael Chabon is the new showrunner of Star Trek Picard. In this video, we will begin by going through what this implies about Alex Kurtzman and his current role, before moving on to what Chabon might bring to Picard.

(20) RE-VERSE. A visit to Bonnie McDaniel’s blog led me to rediscover this wonderful verse Stoic Cynic posted in comments in 2016 (it was a very good year!)

A fragmented excerpt from The Filer and the Astronaut by Louise Carol:

‘The time has come,’ the Filer said,
‘To talk of many things:
Of pups — and picks — and palimpsests —
Of Cadigan — and King —
And why this movie, cult is not —
And whether trolls believe.’

‘But scroll a bit,’ the Pixels cried,
‘Before you have your chat;
For some of us are full of links,
Oh do not rush so fast!’
‘No hurry!’ said the Astronaut.
They thanked him much for that.

‘A post of fifth,’ the Filer said
‘Is what we chiefly need:
Filking and Punnery besides
Are very good indeed —
Now, if you’re ready, Pixels dear,
We can begin to read.’

‘O Pixels,’ said the Astronaut,
‘You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be posting here again?’
But answer came there none —
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d scrolled up every one.

[Thanks to mlex, Carl Slaughter, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Bruce D. Arthurs, P J Evans, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Alan Baumler, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day GSLamb.]

SFWA’s Latest Recruitment Anthem

Kate Heartfield, Darusha Wehm Emperor Stardust (Henry Lien) and Rachel Hartman. Photo by Richard Hefner.

Emperor Stardust and the Eunuchs of the Forbidden City bring you “Come and Join Our Band.”

This new recruitment anthem for the Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers of America was performed live at the Nebula Awards Ceremony on May 18, 2019 in Los Angeles.

The group’s previous hit, the unforgettable “Radio SFWA”, debuted at the 2016 Nebulas and is still earworming its way into history books.

The lyrics for “Come and Join Our Band” can be found by clicking “show more” at the song’s YouTube page. The link is an audio-only recording. SFWA has posted video of the live performance –

Pixel Scroll 5/16/19 Pixelate a Spherical Chicken

(1) FRAZETTA SALE BREAKS RECORD. Heritage Auctions reports that Frank Frazetta’s 1969 Egyptian Queen just sold for $5.4 million during the ongoing Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction (Chicago; 16–18 May). This is said to be a world record for comic book art, besting a record also held by Frazetta for Death Dealer 6 (1990; also sold by Heritage in May 2018) at a “mere” $1.79 million: “Egyptian Queen by Artist Frank Frazetta Sets $5.4 Million World Record at Heritage Auctions”

…The winning bidder does not wish to be identified at this time.

The painting has been in the possession of Frazetta’s family ever since it was created 50 years ago, and Thursday was the first time it was made available for private ownership in Heritage Auctions’ Comics & Comic Art Auction. In addition to a world record, the painting also set a house record as the most expensive item ever sold by Heritage Auctions, surpassing a luxury Dallas estate, which closed for $4.95 million in 2016.

(2) IN THE BEGINNING. At CrimeReads, Michael Gonzales, in “The Groundbreaking Art of Jim Steranko”, profiles the artist, whose crime novel Chandler has a claim to be the first graphic novel.

For a moment I just stared at him, as the man himself flashed me one of his trademark Kodak smiles. With his jet black perfect hair, G.Q. wardrobe, sunglasses and spit-shined boots, he was iceberg smooth. “How you doing over there,” Steranko said in his world’s greatest showman voice. I shyly glanced at him and back at the Chandler cover when I suddenly realized that the picture of that mean streets private dick was actually a self-portrait.

(3) ON THE IRON HOT SEAT. The Ringer’s Brian Phillips finds that George R.R. Martin makes an excellent vehicle for exploring all kinds of problems with the way writers are underrated, even now in the so-called Golden Age of Television: “Funny Hats and Lonely Rooms: Give George R.R. Martin Some Respect”.

…He’s become a tragicomic figure, a man whose story got away from him creatively and outgrew him culturally at the same time.

Got all that? Good. Now, can we take a minute to give him some damn respect?

If the relentless mediocrity of Game of Thrones’ final season has clarified anything, it’s how desperately this show has always needed Martin’s imagination. (God knows it hasn’t clarified character motives or the workings of fantasy elements or the rate-distance equations for determining travel time over continent-sized landmasses.) Without Martin’s storytelling gifts to guide the series—without his understanding of the characters he created and the world into which he set them loose—Game of Thrones has lost its way, and more than that, it’s lost its way without evidently knowing or caring that it has. The show still looks great, at least when you can see it, and it’s still full of hugely talented actors. Narratively, though, it comes across as a tourist wandering through its own story, pressed for time and always a little confused about what’s happening.

(4) FOOD OF ICE AND FIRE. Meanwhile, Delish ponders the less weighty question of “What Would Happen If Your Favorite Fast Food Chains Actually Did Exist In The ‘Game Of Thrones’ Universe”. “Starbucks in Westeros was just the beginning.”

Did you notice that while HBO said it was a craft services coffee cup chilling in the middle of episode four‘s most pivotal scene, Starbucks didn’t refute the internet’s insistence that it was a classic Bux cup? I did. That’s why I’m doubling down on my theory that there’s been fast food in Westeros all along. A lot of it.

(5) NEW EARWORM. Emperor Stardust plans to set everyone humming again at this weekend’s Nebula Conference.

(6) RUNNING AN AUTHOR KICKSTARTER. Kristine Kathryn Rusch devotes a Business Musings post to “Kickstarter Stress”.

… let me tell you our procedure for running a Kickstarter.

1. Pick a project that will work on Kickstarter

By work, I mean two things. Make sure that it’s something that people will want. And make sure it’s something you can do.

(7) A MID-CENTURY COLLECTION. Bruce D Arthurs found another list of books I haven’t read many of: “Blast From The Past: 102 Great Novels, as of 1962-63”. My score is 16 out of 102. (There are a few more I bought at some point and tried to read without success.)

Among the papers of our friend Anne Braude, who passed away in 2009, I found a small pamphlet, a single folded sheet yellowed and brittle with age, that listed “102 Great Novels”. The pamphlet was distributed by the Scottsdale Public Library, and its list “COMPILED BY NELLENE SMITH, DIRECTOR”. Ms. Smith’s name dates the list to 1962 or 63 (thanks, Google!).

So, nearly sixty years ago, these were the books thought listing as “Great”.

(8) DONBAVAND OBIT. The writer Tommy Donbavand has died at the age of 52.

Tommy Donbavand was an authour and entertainer who wrote over 100 books for young readers, including the Scream Street series. He wrote the Doctor Who book Shroud of Sorrow featuring the Eleventh Doctor.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 16, 1891 Mikhail Bulgakov. Russian writer whose fantasy novel The Master and Margarita, published posthumously, has been called one of the masterpieces of the 20th century. The novel also carries the recommendation of no less than Gary Kasparov. (Died 1940.)
  • Born May 16, 1918 Barry Atwater. Surak in “The Savage Curtain” episode. He did a lot of other genre work from Night Stalker where he played the vampire Janos Skorzeny to The Man From U.N.C.L.E.The Alfred Hitchcock HourVoyage to the Bottom of the SeaNight Gallery, The Wild Wild West and The Outer Limits. (Died 1978.)
  • Born May 16, 1937 Yvonne Craig. Batgirl on Batman, and that green skinned Orion slave girl Marta on “Whom Gods Destroy”. She also appeared in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.The Wild Wild West, Voyage to The Bottom of the SeaThe Ghost & Mrs. MuirLand of the Giants, Six Million Dollar Man and, err, Mars Needs Women. (Died 2015.)
  • Born May 16, 1942 Judith Clute, 77. Illustrator, painter and etcher. Artwork can be found on such publications as Polder: A Festschrift for John Clute and Judith Clute and The Entropy Exhibition: Michael Moorcock and the British ‘New Wave’ in Science Fiction
  • Born May 16, 1944 Danny Trejo, 75. Trejo is perhaps most known as the character Machete, originally developed by Rodriguez for the Spy Kids films. He’s also been on The X-FilesFrom Dusk till DawnLe JaguarDoppelganger: The Evil WithinFrom Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money, Muppets Most Wanted and more horror films that I care to list here. Seriously he’s really done a lot of low-budget horror films.
  • Born May 16, 1950 Bruce Coville, 69. He’s an author of young adult fiction. He has a number of series including Coville’s ShakespeareCamp Haunted Hills and Bruce Coville’s Chamber of Horror / Spirit World. He’s is also the co-founder of Full Cast Audio, a company devoted to recording full-cast, unabridged copies of YA literature.
  • Born May 16, 1953 Pierce Brosnan, 66. James Bond in a remarkably undistinguished series of films. Dr. Lawrence Angelo in The Lawnmower Man, lunch, errr, Professor Donald Kessler in Mars Attacks! and Mike Noonanin Bag of Bones.
  • Born May 16, 1962 Ulrika O’Brien, 57. A Seattle-area fanzine fan, fanartist, con-running fan, and past TAFF winner. Her APA list according to Fancyclopedia 3 is quite amazing —  Fringe, Widening Gyre, and Demi-TAFF Americaine (TAFF Newsletter). Her APAzines include Mutatis Mutandis, and APAs include APA-L, LASFAPA, Myriad and Turbo-APA.
  • Born May 16, 1968 Stephen Mangan, 51. Dirk Gently in that series after the pilot episode. He played Arthur Conan Doyle in the Houdini & Doyle series, did various voices for the 1999 Watership Down, and appeared in Hamlet as Laertes at the Norwich Theatre Royal.
  • Born May 16, 1969 David Boreanaz, 50. Am I the only one that thought Angel was for the most part a better series than Buffy

(10) OWNING IT. BBC quotes “Guardians director James Gunn: Disney ‘had right’ to fire me”.

Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn says Disney “totally had the right” to fire him over decade-old tweets that joked about rape and abuse.

He was rehired to direct the third instalment of the Marvel franchise in March, after the film’s stars signed an open letter asking for his return.

Gunn says he “feels bad” about some of the ways he’s spoken in public in the past and “some of the jokes I made”.

“I feel bad for that and take full responsibility,” he told Deadline.

(11) CRACK TO THE FUTURE. Let James Davis Nicoll explain why “The Luddites Were Right: SF Works That Show the Downside to New Technology”.

…Let’s examine the contrarian position: newer isn’t always best. And let’s take our examples from science fiction, which is dedicated to exploring the new…and, sometimes inadvertently, showing that the newest thing may not work as intended.

(12) SFF FROM A FILER. Joy V. Smith, a regular contributor to the letter column in File 770’s paper days, is out with her latest book, Taboo Tech.

Taboo Tech is a science fiction adventure; it begins with Lacie Leigh Collier saying good-bye to her parents, who leave her in her Uncle Sterling’s care. However, this family has secrets and is fascinated with discovering caches of ancient technology, most of which is forbidden and protected zealously by the Interstellar Guard. So when her uncle gets impatient–he’s supposed to be taking care of Lacie until she comes of age–and takes her with him while on an venture of his own and is pursued by the IG, he sends Lacie on her way, and she must make her way back home, with her own AI, the young Embers, and continue her education at the space academy and points beyond while wondering where her parents are…

(13) THIS TIME FOR SURE! Ehhh…. “Medieval manuscript code ‘unlocked’ by Bristol academic”

An academic claims to have deciphered a medieval manuscript which countless scholars including Alan Turing had been unable to decode.

The Voynich manuscript is a handwritten and illustrated text carbon-dated to the mid-15th Century.

The document is housed in the Beinecke Library at Yale University in the USA.

Dr Gerard Cheshire said: “I experienced a series of ‘eureka’ moments whilst deciphering the code, followed by a sense of disbelief and excitement.”

The manuscript is named after Wilfrid M Voynich, a Polish book dealer and antiquarian, who purchased it in 1912.

The script’s codex also baffled the FBI, which studied it during the Cold War apparently thinking it may have been Communist propaganda.

Dr Cheshire, a research assistant at the University of Bristol, said: “The manuscript was compiled by Dominican nuns as a source of reference for Maria of Castile, Queen of Aragon, who happens to have been great-aunt to Catherine of Aragon.

“It is also no exaggeration to say this work represents one of the most important developments to date in Romance linguistics.”

(14) RAWHIDE AND GO SEEK. Yesterday Ursula Vernon was on the road at an unholy hour to go help a friend “acquire a calf so that her cow will not be sad.”  (Thread starts here.) We also learned something new about sheep —

(15) SURVIVOR. Cockroaches surviving a holocaust is a staple of speculative fiction, but we know for sure “Bedbugs survived the dinosaur extinction event”.

A study that began as an investigation into the “utterly bizarre” way in which bedbugs reproduce has revealed they have existed for far longer than humans.

DNA samples from 30 species of bedbug revealed the insects had been around for at least 115 million years.

The blood-sucking parasites predate their earliest known hosts – bats – by more than 50 million years.

The surprising finding is published in the journal Current Biology.

(16) HUGO REVIEWS. Garik16 joins the throng of reviewers sharing their opinions of the finalists with “Reviewing the 2019 Hugo Nominees: Best Novel”.

I’d actually read all six Hugo Nominees when they were announced, though none made my nominating ballot (you can find that HERE).  Still, three of the nominees came close to making my ballot, so I’m not really dissatisfied with the results, even if my favorites didn’t make it.  There’s definitely some works I don’t really think are Hugo Worthy, though I can see how others might enjoy some of those more than I did.  But there’s a few clearly worthy potential winners here as well.

(17) TO THE LAST DROP. Quanta Magazine discusses the research that suggests “Black, Hot Ice May Be Nature’s Most Common Form of Water”. (Which reminds Daniel Dern of Jane Curtin’s Airplane coffee.)

Recently at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics in Brighton, New York, one of the world’s most powerful lasers blasted a droplet of water, creating a shock wave that raised the water’s pressure to millions of atmospheres and its temperature to thousands of degrees. X-rays that beamed through the droplet in the same fraction of a second offered humanity’s first glimpse of water under those extreme conditions.

The X-rays revealed that the water inside the shock wave didn’t become a superheated liquid or gas. Paradoxically — but just as physicists squinting at screens in an adjacent room had expected — the atoms froze solid, forming crystalline ic

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

Pixel Scroll 1/25/19 Eight Files High

(1) SINGING ABOUT PEASPROUT CHEN. Lightspeed Magazine’s interview with Henry Lien brought out a fascinating musical connection —

You’re the first author I’ve interviewed who’s had a Broadway singer perform at the book launch for their debut novel. I watched the promotional video of the one and only Idina Menzel performing the theme song from the first book of your Peasprout Chen series, Peasprout Chen: Future Legend of Skate and Sword, with you. That’s so cool! What’s the backstory? How did that happen?

We’re represented by the same agency, ICM. She got a hold of the advance reader copy of the first Peasprout Chen book and flipped over it. She asked ICM if they could arrange for her to meet me. After I finished screaming into my pillow, I said, “Oh, well, let me see if I can find a slot in my calendar to squeeze in lunch with Idina Freeggin’ Menzel.” Then I screamed into my pillow some more. We met and really hit it off. She has become a dear friend. So I asked her to sing the theme song for the book at the launch. She said yes. Then I died of shock, and thus am conducting this interview with you from the Beyond.

(2) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites you to gobble goat cheese fritters with Scott H. Andrews while listening to Episode 87 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Scott H. Andrews, founder and editor and publisher of the online magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies, celebrated the 10th anniversary of that magazine by hosting a party at the recent World Fantasy Convention in Baltimore, Maryland — which made it seem like the right time for us to discuss that first decade. So we raised a pint at Red’s Table in Reston, Virginia.

Well, he raised a pint — of bourbon-barrel aged Gold Cup Russian Imperial Stout from Old Bust Head Brewery in Fauquier County, Virginia — while I downed my usual bottle of Pellagrino. And as we sipped, we chatted about that work on Beneath Ceaseless Skies, which has so far earned him six World Fantasy Award nominations and six Hugo Award nominations — and won him a British Fantasy Award. He’s a writer as well, with his own fiction appearing in Weird Tales, Space and Time, On Spec, and other magazines.

We discussed the treatment he received as a writer which taught him what he wanted to do (and didn’t want to do) as an editor, how his time as member of a band helped him come up with the name for his magazine, why science fiction’s public perception as a literary genre is decades ahead of fantasy, what it takes for a submission to rise to the level of receiving a rewrite request, the time he made an editor cry (and why he was able to do it), how he felt being a student at the Odyssey Writing Workshop and then returning as a teacher, the phrase he tends to overuse in his personalized rejection letters (and the reason why it appears so often), the way magazine editing makes him like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan the Barbarian, why writers shouldn’t worry about the ratio of submitted stories to purchased ones, the reason he’ll probably never edit novels, what anyone considering starting a magazine of their own needs to know, and much more.

(3) GET ILLUMINATED. “Sacred Texts: Codices Far, Far Away” – Two University of Pennsylvania scholars are doing a series of videos about the ancient Jedi texts until Star Wars Episode 9 is released on December 20.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Luke Skywalker gathered a small library of ancient Jedi texts and placed them in an uneti tree on Ahch-To.

On October 8, 2018, Dr. Brandon Hawk and curator Dot Porter met to talk about these ancient books, and to compare them with manuscripts from the collection of the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania.

Here are the first two videos:

(4) NEW HORIZONS PHOTOS ARRIVING SLOWLY. “Nasa’s New Horizons: Best image yet of ‘space snowman’ Ultima Thule” – BBC had the story.

The New Horizons probe has sent back its best picture yet of the small, icy object Ultima Thule, which it flew past on New Year’s Day.

The image was acquired when the Nasa spacecraft was just 6,700km from its target, which scientists think is two bodies lightly fused together – giving the look of a snowman.

Surface details are now much clearer.

New Horizons’ data is coming back very slowly, over the next 20 months.

This is partly to do with the great distance involved (the separation is 6.5 billion km) but is also limited by the small power output of the probe’s transmitter and the size (and availability) of the receive antennas here on Earth. It all makes for glacial bit rates.

The new image was obtained with New Horizons’ wide-angle Multicolor Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) and gives a resolution of 135m per pixel. There is another version of this scene taken at even higher resolution by the probe’s Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), but this has not yet been downlinked from the probe.

(5) RSR PRO ARTIST RESOURCE. Rocket Stack Rank’s Greg Hullender says, “Based on the discussion on File770, we did the experiment of expanding our Pro Artist list using the ISFDB info. This actually expands it hugely. We ended up not trying to merge the lists for this year, but we posted the ISFDB data separately just so people could have it as a resource. It’s awfully nice data, if a bit overwhelming, and it’d be great to find a good way to use it. We’re hoping people will look at it and offer some ideas for how to make it a bit more manageable.” — “Pro Artists from ISFDB Novels 2018”.

Based on some conversations on File 770 about better ways to find candidates for the Best Professional Artist Hugo Award, we decided to try using the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB) as a source.  The result is spectacular, but maybe a bit overwhelming, so we decided not to try to integrate it with our regular Pro Artists page this year. Instead, we’re treating this as an experiment and inviting feedback on how we might best use this wealth of data in the future to help people who’re trying to find professional artists to nominate.

(6) FRANKENSTEIN AND ROBOTS. In the Winter 2019 Beloit College Magazine, Susan Kasten (“Why Frankenstein Will Never Die”)  discusses how an English professor, an anthropologist, a physicist, and a professor of cognitive science team-taught Frankenstein in a class called “Frankenstein 200:  Monster, Myth, and Meme.”

Robin Zebrowski, a professor of cognitive science, pointed out that the themes of Frankenstein — of creation, difference, empathy, monstrosity, and control–are the memes of artificial intelligence.  Zebrowski pointed out that early robot stories are about Frankenstein.  ‘They’re about building something no one can control once it’s unleashed,’ she said.  She noted that the first work of literature ever written about robots–a 1923 Czech play called R.U.R.–is a story about a robot uprising.

(Incidentally, Professor Zebrowski believes she is not related to sff author George Zebrowski.)

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

January 25, 1915 — First transcontinental telephone call was made, between New York and San Francisco; Alexander Graham Bell and Dr. Thomas A. Watson exchanged greetings.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 25, 1918 King Donovan. His first first SF film have him as Dr. Dan Forbes in the 1953 The Magnetic Monster and as Dr. Ingersoll In The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. The very next year, he plays James O’Herli in Riders to the Stars. And now we get to the film that you know him from — Invasion of the Body Snatchers in which he playsJack Belicec. After that, I show him only in Nothing Lasts Forever which has never been released here in the States. (Died 1987.)
  • Born January 25, 1943 Tobe Hooper. Director of such such genre films as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (the original of course), Poltergeist (damn scary film) Invaders from Mars and Djinn, his final film. He directed a smattering of television episodes including the “Miss Stardust” of Amazing Stories, “No More Mr. Nice Guy” of Freddy’s Nightmares, “Dead Wait” of Tales from the Crypt and the entire Salem’s Lot miniseries. He also wrote a horror novel with Alan Goldsher,  Midnight Movie: A Novel, that has himself in it at a speaking engagement. (Died 2017.)
  • Born January 25, 1958Peter Watts, 61.Author of the most excellent Firefall series which I read and enjoyed immensely. I’ve not read the Rifters trilogy so would welcome opinions on it. And his Sunflower linked short stories sound intriguing. 
  • Born January 25, 1963 Catherine Butler, 56. Butler published a number of works of which the most important is Four British fantasists : place and culture in the children’s fantasies of Penelope Lively, Alan Garner, Diana Wynne Jones, and Susan Cooper. Another important work is Reading History in Children’s Books, with Hallie O’Donovan. Her website is here.
  • Born January 25, 1970 Stephen Chbosky, 49. Screenwriter and director best-known I’d say for the Emma Watson-fronted Beauty and the Beast. But he also was responsible for the Jericho series which was a rather decent bit of SF even if, like Serenity, it got killed far too quickly. (Yes, I’m editorializing.) 
  • Born January 25, 1973 Geoff Johns, 46. Where to begin? Though he’s done some work outside of DC, he is intrinsically linked to that company having working for them for twenty years. My favorite work by him in on Batman: Gotham Knights, Justice League of America #1–7 (2013) and 52 which I grant which was over ambitious but really fun. 
  • Born January 25, 1985 Michael Trevino, 34. Performer, Tyler Lockwood on The Vampire Diaries and now Kyle Valenti on the new Roswell, New Mexico series whose premises I’ll leave you to guess. His first genre appearance was in the Charm episode of “Malice in Wonderland” as Alastair. He also shows up on The OriginalsThe Vampire Diaries spin-off. 
  • Born January 25, 1985 Claudia Kim, 34. Only four film films but all genre: she played Dr. Helen Cho Avengers: Age of Ultron followed by voicing The Collective In Equals which Wiki manages to call a ‘dystopian utopia’ film to which I say ‘Eh?!?’, and then Arra Champignon in the 2017 version of The Dark Tower and finally as  Nagini, Voldemort’s snake which I presume is a voice role (though I’ve not seen the film so I could be wrong) in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Hulk’s last words? Bizarro has them.

(10) ASIMOV REFERENCE. Yesterday on Late Night With Stephen Colbert (at about the 1:50 mark) the host said during a sketch —

“My self-driving car has stopped taking me to Taco Bell…citing the first law of Robotics.”

(11) RE-DEEP. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] press release from Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias in Spain addresses the latest “deep image” from the Hubble Space Telescope. The original Hubble Deep Field was assembled in 1995, only to be exceeded by the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field in 2004 and the Hubble eXtreme Deep Field in 2012. Each imaged galaxies further away and thus further back in time. Now there’s a new version of the Ultra-Deep Field that recovers “additional light” not included in earlier versions and showing thus additional information about the included galaxies.

To produce the deepest image of the Universe from space a group of researchers from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) led by Alejandro S. Borlaff used original images from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST taken over a region in the sky called the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field (HUDF). After improving the process of combining several images the group was able to recover a large quantity of light from the outer zones of the largest galaxies in the HUDF. Recovering this light, emitted by the stars in these outer zones, was equivalent to recovering the light from a complete galaxy (“smeared out” over the whole field) and for some galaxies this missing light shows that they have diameters almost twice as big as previously measured.

A scientific paper on the image and analysis is on ArXiv at https://arxiv.org/pdf/1810.00002.pdf (technically a preprint, but it has been accepted for publication by Astronomy & Astrophysics). The data itself is at http://www.iac.es/proyecto/abyss.

(11) NOW BOARDING. James Davis Nicoll knows how we love the number 5 here — “5 SFF Stories About Surviving the Dangers of Boarding School” at Tor.com.

As a setting, boarding schools allow for the construction of thrilling narratives: concerned parents are replaced by teachers who may well prioritize student achievement over student welfare, e.g. maximizing points for Gryffindor over the survival of the students earning those points…

Are there any SFF novels featuring boarding schools? Why yes! I am glad you asked—there are more than I can list in a single article. Here are just a few….

(12) BETTER TECH, MARK 0. Scientists have now deduced that “Neanderthals ‘could kill at a distance'”.

Neanderthals may once have been considered to be our inferior, brutish cousins, but a new study is the latest to suggest they were smarter than we thought – especially when it came to hunting.

The research found that the now extinct species were creating weaponry advanced enough to kill at a distance.

Scientists believe they crafted spears that could strike from up to 20m away.

The study is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Lead researcher Dr Annemieke Milks, from UCL Institute of Archaeology, said: “The original idea was that Neanderthals would have been very limited using hand-delivered spears, where they could only come up at close contact and thrust them into prey.

“But if they could throw them from 15m to 20m, this really opens up a wider range of hunting strategies that Neanderthals would have been able to use.”

Extension of the above — “Why we still underestimate the Neanderthals”.

Prof Clive Finlayson, director of the Gibraltar Museum, explains why some old assumptions about the intellectual capabilities of our evolutionary relatives, the Neanderthals persist today. But a body of evidence is increasingly forcing us to re-visit these old ideas.

A paper out this week in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution reports the early arrival of modern humans to south-western Iberia around 44,000 years ago.

Why should this be significant? It all has to do with the spread of our ancestors and the extinction of the Neanderthals. South-western Iberia has been claimed to have been a refuge of the Neanderthals, a place where they survived longer than elsewhere, but the evidence is disputed by some researchers.

The latest paper, which is not about Neanderthals, has been taken by some as evidence of an arrival into this area which is much earlier than previously known.

By implication, if modern humans were in south-western Iberia so early then they must have caused the early disappearance of the Neanderthals. It is a restatement of the idea that modern human superiority was the cause of the Neanderthal demise. Are these ideas tenable in the light of mounting genetic evidence that our ancestors interbred with the Neanderthals?

(13) LOST ART? This certainly seems symbolic of the government shutdown: “Shutdown Leaves Uninflated Space Sculpture Circling in Orbit” in the New York Times.

…“Orbital Reflector,” a sculpture by Trevor Paglen that was recently launched into orbit.

The sculpture is not lost in space as much as stuck in a holding pattern before activation, pending clearance by the Federal Communications Commission. According to the artist, it might not survive the wait while F.C.C. workers are on furlough.

A 100-foot-long mylar balloon coated with titanium oxide, “Orbital Reflector” was designed to be visible to the naked eye at twilight or dawn while in orbit for a couple of months. It would then incinerate upon entering the Earth’s thicker atmosphere.

But although it was sent to space, the balloon was never inflated as planned.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/26/18 I’ve Got A Troll And He Hasn’t Got A Scroll

(1) NEBULA WEEKEND WITH THE QUEEN. Read “The Merqueen’s Report: Nebula Awards Weekend, 2018” by Cat Rambo.

…At five, the always cool Monica Valentinelli came to my hotel room and helped me begin the transformation into Mer queen. I had tweeted about the dress months before, at which point my friend Kris Dikeman said it needed a seashell tiara, Nick Hyle then volunteered a trident, and by the time of the Nebulas I was a little worried it would turn out to be a costume instead of an outfit and instead it was GLORIOUS and I felt like the belle of the underwater ball….

…Sunday morning was time for my favorite part and another one I will take full credit for implementing, unlike most of the other stuff: the volunteer breakfast. We had close to fifty people show up this time, which was the third so far, and people seemed to happy to get their fancy certificates (suitable for framing!) and get a chance to talk with each other. I told the joke I stole from Joe Haldeman about SFWA, like soylent green, being made of people once again and a good time was had by all….

(2) HEAR ABOUT SFF ARCHITECTURE. Henry Lien will be one of the participants in “Imagined Cities: Innovative Use of Architecture in Film and Literature” in LA on June 2.

Description

The Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles will host a conversation between renowned architect Jimenez Lai and children’s fantasy author Henry Lien entitled Imagined Cities: Innovative Uses of Architecture in Film and Literature at its gallery in Westwood on Saturday, June 2, 2018 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The conversation is in connection with the Taiwan Academy’s current exhibition Rooftops & Backyards: Expanding Taipei & L.A., which explores the construction of “architecture on top of architecture”, and multi-purpose use of properties as ways that cities deal with the issue of limited space in densely populated urban areas. The Imagined Cities event explores such themes in fictional depictions of cities.

“From Blade Runner to Howl’s Moving Castle, film and literature have historically embraced innovative uses of architecture,” says Henry Lien, the author of Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate and Sword. “Science fiction and fantasy are particularly effective in expanding notions of beauty in buildings and cities, which becomes relevant as cities experiment with new ways to solve population density issues.”

Jimenez Lai, the founding partner of Los Angeles-based studio Bureau Spectacular and the curator of Rooftops & Backyards: Expanding Taipei & L.A., hopes to explore the universal issue of limited space in densely populated urban areas through the dialogue and the exhibition.

According to Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles, the exhibition demonstrates an interesting comparison between Taipei and Los Angeles, discussing topics surrounding art, architecture, urbanism, and the way of life between the cultures of Taiwan and the United States

Rooftops & Backyards: Expanding Taipei & L.A runs through July 7, 2018, and is free and open to the public, as is Imagined Cities: Innovative Uses of Architecture in Film and Literature. To attend Imagined Cities, please RSVP through https://www.eventbrite.com/e/imagined-cities-innovative-use-of-architecture-in-film-and-literature-tickets-46236212757

(3) DOZOIS HOSPITALIZED. Christopher Casper posted on Facebook that Gardner Dozois is in hospital:

Friends of Gardner – He is currently in Pennsylvania hospital under medical sedation and intubated. While in the hospital for a chronic condition he had a serious and rapid deterioration causing some major systems to fail. He has an amazing team of doctors and the doctors are cautiously optimistic that his condition can be reversed!

I will do my best to keep everyone informed.

I am comforted and Gardner would be humbled by the hundreds of IM I received in the last 24 hrs expressing concern and love for my father. Due to the mere quantity, please forgive me if I am unable to respond personally to them all. Gardner is blessed to be so loved by so many.

Please continue to send good vibes, well wishes, and prayers his way. It is appreciated and thank you.

(4) THEY’LL BE MISSED. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have moved from the country town of Winslow, Maine to the city of Waterville, Maine, and that’s affected their summer travel plans. They tell how in the latest “Liaden Universe® Infodump No. 120”.

LEE AND MILLER WILL NOT ATTEND WORLDCON 76

We had intended to attend WorldCon; we had budgeted time and money; arranged schedules, and then — in late February, we looked at a house in town (we have long been looking to move into town, closer to services and conveniences), fell in love with the place, made an offer, and — the long and short of it is that, all the money and time we had budgeted for attending WorldCon instead went to moving into the new house.  We’re very sorry that we won’t be at the con with our friends and readers, old and new.  But we’re very happy with our new situation.

On the topic of conventions — this is the first time since 1997, that we haven’t had a convention, or three, on the schedule.  That feels. . .strange, indeed.

Everyone who is going to WorldCon — have fun!

(5) ICE STATION EUROPA. Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie dropped the 2010: Odyssey Two tagline “All these worlds are yours – Except Europa” when sending along this link to Nature’s article “Evidence of a plume on Europa from Galileo magnetic and plasma wave signatures” [PDF file].

The icy surface of Jupiter’s moon, Europa, is thought to lie on top of a global ocean1–4. Signatures in some Hubble Space Telescope images have been associated with putative water plumes rising above Europa’s surface5,6, providing support for the ocean theory. However, all telescopic detections reported were made at the limit of sensitivity of the data5–7, thereby calling for a search for plume signatures in in-situ measurements. Here, we report in-situ evidence of a plume on Europa from the magnetic field and plasma wave observations acquired on Galileo’s closest encounter with the moon….

(6) AT THE CANYONS OF MADNESS? BBC says “Giant canyons discovered in Antarctica”.

Scientists have discovered three vast canyons in one of the last places to be explored on Earth – under the ice at the South Pole.

The deep troughs run for hundreds of kilometres, cutting through tall mountains – none of which are visible at the snowy surface of the continent.

Dr Kate Winter from Northumbria University, UK, and colleagues found the hidden features with radar.

Her team says the canyons play a key role in controlling the flow of ice.

And if Antarctica thins in a warming climate, as scientists suspect it will, then these channels could accelerate mass towards the ocean, further raising sea-levels.

(7) THEY DUCKED. Here’s “How ancestors of living birds survived asteroid strike”

The ancestors of modern birds may have survived the asteroid strike that wiped out the rest of their kin by living on the forest floor.

The new theory, based on studying fossilised plants and ornithological data, helps explain how birds came to dominate the planet.

The asteroid impact 66 million years ago laid waste to the world’s forests.

Ground-dwelling bird ancestors managed to survive, eventually taking to the trees when the flora recovered.

“It seems clear that being a relatively small-bodied bird capable of surviving in a tree-less world would have conferred a major survival advantage in the aftermath of the asteroid strike,” said Dr Daniel Field of the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath.

(8) BEAN OBIT. Moon explorer and Skylab astronaut Alan Bean died May 26. NASA has posted a “Family Release Regarding the Passing of Apollo, Skylab Astronaut Alan Bean”.

Apollo and Skylab astronaut Alan Bean, the fourth human to walk on the moon and an accomplished artist, has died.

Bean, 86, died on Saturday, May 26, at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. His death followed his suddenly falling ill while on travel in Fort Wayne, Indiana two weeks before.

“Alan was the strongest and kindest man I ever knew. He was the love of my life and I miss him dearly,” said Leslie Bean, Alan Bean’s wife of 40 years. “A native Texan, Alan died peacefully in Houston surrounded by those who loved him.”

A test pilot in the U.S. Navy, Bean was one of 14 trainees selected by NASA for its third group of astronauts in October 1963. He flew twice into space, first as the lunar module pilot on Apollo 12, the second moon landing mission, in November 1969, and then as commander of the second crewed flight to the United States’ first space station, Skylab, in July 1973….

On Nov. 19, 1969, Bean, together with Apollo 12 commander Charles “Pete” Conrad, landed on the Ocean of Storms and became the fourth human to walk on the moon. During two moonwalks Bean helped deploy several surface experiments and installed the first nuclear-powered generator station on the moon to provide the power source. He and Conrad inspected a robotic Surveyor spacecraft and collected 75 pounds (34 kilograms) of rocks and lunar soil for study back on Earth.

(9) TODAY’S DAY

Of all of the monsters known to man, which one could possibly be considered more iconic than Count Dracula? The quintessential vampire, Count Dracula has inspired tens of films and stories the world over, not to mention the virtual immortality of the character during as a beloved Halloween character. For all of these reasons, it’s undeniable that this icon of horror more than deserves his own little holiday so the world can show its appreciation for his contributions to the worlds of cinema and literature over the centuries. So put on your fangs, and let’s sink out teeth right into this, shall we?

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • May 26, 1961The Twilight Zone aired “Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?” Jack Elam utters the words, “It’s a real Ray Bradbury.”

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born May 26, 1912 — Jay Silverheels (“Tonto” on The Lone Ranger TV series)
  • Born May 26, 1913 – Actor Peter Cushing
  • Born May 26, 1951  — Sally Ride, astronaut. First American woman in space

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Chip Hitchcock discovered the game of Monopoly roused surprisingly strong feelings in these Something Positive characters.

(13) SARTORIAL SPLENDOR. Indeed, it is a most absolute and excellent hat.

(14) HOLLYWOOD LAWYERS FIND WORK. Sesame Street production company Sesame Workshop (formerly known as Children’s Television Workshop) has sued distributor STX over Melissa McCarthy’s new movie The Happytime Murders.

Quoting The Hollywood Reporter: “’Sesame Street’ Sues STX Over New Melissa McCarthy Puppet Movie”

The makers of Sesame Street are suing the promoter of a new Melissa McCarthy movie, saying it’s abusing the famed puppets’ sterling reputation to advertise the film.

A judge Friday scheduled a hearing next week to consider a request for immediate relief by Sesame Workshop, which sued Thursday in federal court for unspecified damages.
The film, The Happytime Murders, is scheduled for release Aug. 17. McCarthy plays a human detective who teams with a puppet partner to investigate grisly puppet murders.
The lawsuit said the Sesame Street brand will be harmed by a just-released movie trailer featuring “explicit, profane, drug-using, misogynistic, violent, copulating and even ejaculating puppets” along with the tagline “NO SESAME. ALL STREET.”

STX Productions LLC says in a statement it is confident in its legal position.

And Vanity Fair’s article “Sesame Street Sues Over Melissa McCarthy’s R-Rated Puppet Murder Movie” notes —

Apparently, the puppet-based entertainment industry is more divided than we knew. The people behind Sesame Street may not like it, but The Happytime Murders has the imprimatur of Muppet royalty: the director is none other than Jim Henson’s son, Brian Henson, who is also the chairman of the Jim Henson Company, and will feature a number of puppeteers from various Muppet movies.

Variety summarized Sesame Street’s complaint as follows:

But “Sesame Street” creators are incensed at the reference, arguing in the lawsuit that it will confuse audiences and harms the “Sesame Street” brand. The marketing campaign “seeks to capitalize on the reputation and goodwill of ‘Sesame Street,’” the suit says. “While the trailer at issue is almost indescribably crude, ‘Sesame’ is not trying to enjoin defendants’ promotion or distribution of their movie. It is only defendants’ deliberate choice to invoke and commercially misappropriate ‘Sesame’s’ name and goodwill in marketing the movie — and thereby cause consumers to conclude that ‘Sesame’ is somehow associated with the movie — that has infringed on and tarnished the ‘Sesame Street’ mark and goodwill.”

(15) IS REY BELIEVABLE? YouTuber MisAnthro Pony is skeptical about Star Wars’ Rey:

She knows how to swim even though she spent her entire life on a desert planet, she’s as powerful as Kilo Ren despite receiving no training from Luke, she’s as skilled of a swordsman as Obi Wan, and now she can gun the Millennium Falcon like a pro in a matter of minutes.  She apparently seems to know everything about stuff she should know nothing about.  OK, Rey doing things she shouldn’t have been able to do in The Force Awakens was stupid too.  But this is reaching it.  This is really reaching it.

Carl Slaughter defends the presentation of the character:

Oh I don’t know.  Luke blocks multiple gadget beams blindfolded with a light saber the first time he wields it.  After only a few hours of training in the Force, he pinholes the shot that takes out the Death Star.  After only a couple of months of training with Yoda, even Darth Vader is impressed.  Never mind that even the best Jedi are trained all their life from toddlership by a team of instructors in an academy.

 

(16) ON HIS GAME. And Chuck Tingle is skeptical about some gameplaying skeptics….

(17) SPOILERS AHEAD. If you’ve seen Deadpool 2, you may be ready for ScreenRant’s spoiler-filled “Deadpool 2 Pitch Meeting.”

(18) MULTIPLE DUNII. Consequences of Sound reports “Denis Villeneuve confirms his Dune adaptation will be split between two films”.

In what might prove beneficial, given the scope of Dune as a story, Villeneuve recently confirmed that he plans to split the adaptation into two films, still likely to be substantial in length each. While speaking to the Quebec publication La Presse, he mentioned the news while touching on the process of turning Herbert’s 896-page epic into a cohesive feature (or set of them): “Eric Roth wrote the first draft and I worked on my side afterwards… I have not had such fun on the creative side since Incendies! My wish would have been to make both films at the same time, but it will be too expensive. We will do them one at a time.”

(19) DESPITE POPULAR DEMAND. Borys Kit in The Hollywood Reporter story “‘Star Wars’: Boba Fett Movie in the Works With James Mangold”, says that James Mangold and Simon Kinberg, who last worked together on Logan (which Mangold directed and co-wrote and Kinberg produced) have been signed by Disney to develop a Boba Fett movie.

As N.K. Jemisin asked –

(20) KEEPING IT LEGAL. Like everyone else whose internet babblings are read in Europe, Timothy the Talking Cat is updating Cattimothy House security policy.

A message from our Legal and Compliance Department:

Dear User/Subscriber/Stranger/Prisoner

Due to the recent legislative changes in the European Union (a body not recognised by our founder and CEO, Timothy the Talking Cat), we have made several changes to our security policy.

… Our change in policy means that we will no longer:

  • Post lists of your names and misdeeds as a notice in the town square.
  • Maintain in a dark basement a wall with your photographs joined together with lines of red twine, with some faces circled in red marker and others defaced with a huge question mark….

Much more humor follows…

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

Pixel Scroll 5/14/18 They Took Some Pixels, And Plenty Of Scrolls, Wrapped Up In A Five Pound Note

(1) SUDDENLY THERE CAME A TAPPING. Seattle Times headline: “Ripples in space-time or 3-pound bird? Ravens at Hanford foul test of Einstein’s theory”. Ravens are interfering with measurements at LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) which helped find the first confirmed gravitational waves.

For the LIGO observatory on Washington’s Hanford site, noise is a real buzz killer.

Any earthly sound — a truck rumbling past, the humming of a refrigerator in a nearby building, or the distant flutter of a plane’s propellers — can drown out the faint whispers from the cosmos that the Nobel Prize-winning project was designed to detect.

So when strange blips in the data started cropping up on summer afternoons, researchers were anxious to find the source and eliminate it.

“Any other noise makes it harder to hear the thing you’re listening for,” said University of Oregon physicist Robert Schofield, whose job is to ferret out racket from the environment and reduce its impact on some of the most sensitive instruments ever built.

…The glitches at Hanford corresponded to sounds recorded by a microphone installed by Schofield and his colleagues as part of their endless quest to detect and stamp out noise.

…It didn’t take long for Schofield to identify the prime suspect once he listened to the recordings. “It sounded like pecks to me,” he said. “I immediately thought it must be ravens.”

(2) DOCTOR NEW. What she told Radio Times: “Jodie Whittaker on filming Doctor Who: ‘I smile every single morning going to work’”.

“It’s like nothing I’ve ever done before, it’s absolutely incredible,” she said. “I must smile every single morning knowing I’m going to work to do it, I’m very lucky – it’s brilliant.”

We’re still in the dark as to what form the new series will take following Chris Chibnall taking over from Steven Moffat as showrunner, but the star assures us that it’s likely to be even bigger and bolder than what has come before it. Whittaker and Walsh will also be joined by new stars Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill. The ten-episode series is expected to air this autumn on the BBC.

“It feels incredibly epic,” Whittaker said. “The ambition is wonderful, and something we’re fighting every day to have the energy to back it up with.”

(3) FUTURE IS ON THE WAY. Alex Shvartsman will launch a new sf magazine tomorrow: “Announcing Future Science Fiction Digest”. It will be free to read online.

This bit of news has been six months in the making, but I can finally announce that I will be editing a science fiction magazine, to be published in collaboration by UFO Publishing and the Future Affairs Administration. The magazine will focus on various science fiction sub-genres (hard SF, space opera, cli-fi) but will not include fantasy or horror. There will be a strong focus on international fiction. I’ll be looking to fill about half of each issue with translations and stories written by authors from non-anglophone countries.

Although the magazine will feature original (to anglophone readers, anyway) fiction, I’ve put together a sample “issue zero,” to be released in time for the Nebulas and the Asia Pacific SF Con organized by the FAA. This issue features all-reprint stories with different takes/visions of the future, which also happen to be representative of the sort of material I hope to acquire and publish in the future.

The magazine’s website goes live Tuesday, May 15 at www.future-sf.com.

(4) MEET HENRY LIEN. Juliette Wade hosted a video hangout with Henry Lien about his new fantasy novel: “Henry Lien and Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate and Sword. You can read a summary on her blog, and/or watch the conversation on YouTube. (I was excited to hear more about his writing, having already become a fan through his composition “Radio SFWA.”)

…Henry explained that he loves rules. School is an environment girdled all around with rules to keep people from misbehaving, so it’s a setting he loves to work in. Students at the wu liu school are not allowed to do any moves outside of class, or they will forfeit their next examination. This is a key element of the plot of Peasprout Chen.

In particular, he says he wanted a fantasy world with no magic. George R. R. Martin consulted with him on aspects of it. Everything is grounded in real world experience, including the constant threat of injury that has grave consequences for the students. Even a bad wrist can knock you out. Henry himself got injured at one point during his training because he had become frustrated when another student did a kick the first time. Henry tried the same jump and tore his hamstring; he said it looked like someone had cut him.

Danger creates good stories. Ambition is a characteristic required by the sport.

Henry quoted a line from Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell: “Don’t talk to me about magic. It’s like everything else: full of setbacks and disappointments.” If this is the way your work seems, then whenever you achieve something, it feels like a huge accomplishment! Peasprout Chen’s life is full of cultural landmines and danger, but when she does something cool, we cheer….

(5) BEYOND BECHDEL. IndieWire covered this story in December: “Lena Waithe, Kimberly Peirce, and More Women Introduce 12 New Bechdel Tests to Measure Gender Imbalance”.

FiveThirtyEight recently asked 12 women to come up with new gender imbalance tests, including actress and Emmy-winning writer Lena Waithe, filmmaker Kimberly Peirce, cinematographer Jen White, and actress Naomi Ko. The new tests demand more gender equality from film and television, both in front the camera and behind the scenes.

In order to pass the Waithe Test, for instance, a movie or show must feature a black woman who’s in a position of power and is in a healthy relationship with her partner. Only five of the top 50 films of 2016 pass the Waithe Test: “Bad Moms,” “Central Intelligence,” “Hidden Figures,” “Boo! A Madea Halloween,” and “Independence Day: Resurgence.”

Here’s more direct from FiveThirtyEight: “The Next Bechdel Test” – “We pitted 50 movies against 12 new ways of measuring Hollywood’s gender imbalance.”

Another example: The Feldman Test

Rachel Feldman: director; former chair of the Directors Guild of America’s Women’s Steering Committee

A movie passes with a score of five or higher:

  • 2 points for a female writer or director
  • 1 point for a female composer or director of photography
  • 1 point for three female producers or three female department heads
  • 1 point for a crew that’s 50 percent women
  • 2 points if there’s a female protagonist who determines story outcomes
  • 2 points if no female characters were victimized, stereotyped or sexualized
  • And 1 point if a sex scene shows foreplay before consummation, or if the female characters initiate or reciprocate sexual advances

(6) NICHELLE NICHOLS. A TMZ story about Nichelle Nichols reports “Judge Grants Conservatorship After Dementia Claims”

‘Star Trek’ actress Nichelle Nichols will have a new team handling her financial affairs in response to her son’s claims she’s battling dementia … TMZ has learned.

According to court docs, an L.A. County judge signed off on Kyle Johnson’s request to have 4 fiduciaries be his mom’s conservators until mid-August, when there will be a court hearing. The hope is Nichelle will be able to attend that hearing.

As we first reported … Kyle says his mother, who famously played Lt. Uhura, suffers from severe short-term memory loss, and needs court-ordered protection to block people from taking advantage of her.

In the docs, obtained by TMZ, the judge said Nichelle consents to the appointment of her conservators. The judge also noted Nichelle is currently out of state.

(7) KIDDER OBIT. CNN reports “Margot Kidder, ‘Superman’ actress, dead at 69”:

Kidder starred opposite Christopher Reeve’s Clark Kent and his alter ego Superman in the original [1978] film as well as the three sequels: “Superman II” in 1980, “Superman III” in 1983 and “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” in 1987.

She also starred in “The Amityville Horror” in 1979 and worked steadily in television and on stage.

After three marriages and thousands of dollars in medical bills, Kidder found herself homeless in 1996 as she struggled with bipolar disorder.

Her story grabbed the hearts of fans and Hollywood with many reaching out to help Kidder, who eventually got back on her feet and went on to become a mental health advocate.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY MOGULS

  • Born May 14, 1944 – George Lucas
  • Born May 14, 1951 – Robert Zemeckis

(9) REMEDIAL CLASSWORK. Alexandra Erin is refreshing the recollection of some Twitter users who proved unfamiliar with the Sad Puppies events as they really occurred in this timeline. Jump on the thread here:

(10) SPACE SPRITZ. Analysts are catching up with the data collected by space probe Galileo: “Icy Moon Of Jupiter Spews Water Plumes Into Space”.

Scientists have new evidence that there are plumes of water erupting from the surface of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa — plumes that could, maybe, possibly contain signs of life.

The evidence comes from data collected by the now-defunct Galileo spacecraft. Although the data has been available since it was collected in 1997, it’s only now that an analysis confirms the existence of water plumes.

For more than two decades, scientists have been convinced Europa has a liquid water ocean sloshing around beneath its icy outer crust. In the past six years, two teams of researchers using the Hubble Space Telescope reported the possible existence of plumes. But as powerful as Hubble is, seeing something as small as a plume on a moon more than 380-million miles away is difficult.

(11) DROP BY ANYTIME. NPR has the story: “Tardis Optional: Time Travelers Invited To Stephen Hawking Service” — repeat of an old Hawking test/gag?

Stephen Hawking’s ashes will be interred at Westminster Abbey this June. He’ll take his place among giants — between Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. Applications to attend a Service of Thanksgiving are open to the public, and anyone — including people born in 2038, can apply. A thousand spaces are available.

…The time warp in the memorial service application was first spotted by London blogger IanVisits. He writes on his blog that Hawking had once thrown a party for time travelers, sending out invitations after the fete, to see if anyone would show up. Spoiler: no one did, yet.

CATCHING UP WITH SOME EXCELLENT BLACK PANTHER THEMED LINKS COURTESY OF ROBIN A. REID:

(12) AWESOME TECHNOLOGY. In May 2016, Popular Science did an “Entertainment” feature on the technology of Black Panther. Xavier Harding interviewed artist Brian Stelfreeze in “‘Black Panther’ Has The Coolest Tech In The Marvel Universe”.

Popular Science: There’s a lot of great tech in the world of Wakanda. Where does your inspiration for it come from?

Brian Stelfreeze: I think when you’re being creative, you still attach it to reality somehow. I grew up in a small town in coastal South Carolina. Where I’m from, the people are known as Gullah people. They’re some of the first freed slaves that lived on their own, without being attached to the rest of the U.S.

They kind of developed their own culture, so they do things a little bit different. Growing up in that area and going to the rest of the world, I noticed things were just slightly different. Seeing my first pile driver in real life I thought, “Oh, that’s like what my uncle built out of tree stumps to dig wells.” So I thought, “what if that happened over thousands of years? How could technology evolve?”

Popular Science: So how does that compare to T’Challa and the people of Wakanda?

Brian Stelfreeze: I think of Wakandan technology as organic technology. Most of their tech mimics nature because it comes from nature. Wakanda was a tremendously warring nation, with a very feudal time early on. But after a while proper borders were established, which ushered in a time of peace. Peace time shifted concerns from war to agriculture, from agriculture to early days of knife and spear-building to developing exotic materials. Rather than coming from industry, Wakandan tech came from agricultural needs—using organic tech to build machines.

But a lot of this stuff is in the background. Like the flying vehicles you see in Wakanda designed like a flying animal. And even when readers may not directly see it, I want them to feel it.

(13) SIX GOOD REASONS Cherokee Washington explains “Why The Black Panther is So Important To The Black Community”  for Odyssey in June 2016.

In 2002, Marvel studios graced the world with the first superhero blockbuster film; “Spiderman.” Following suit with “Spiderman 2,” “Spiderman 3,” and two spin-offs of the series, Marvel went on to create one of the largest Hollywood franchises in the world, telling the stories of a hand full of the comic book company’s most popular heroes. Today, amongst the many Iron Man and Avenger films, one hero in particular has recently been added to the mix; the Black Panther. It may not sound that exciting or important to the general public, but the introduction of the Black Panther is a momentous event for the Black (and comic-lover) community. Not only is he a bad ass superhero, but he’s one of 10 or so major Marvel characters who identifies as Black, something that would’ve been unheard of back in the day. Making his first appearance in the 52nd issue of the Fantastic Four comic books, Black Panther has shifted back and forth in the limelight, falling behind other heroes such as Captain America and the X-Men. Fortunately, Marvel has decided to push Black Panther more into the centerfold with the rest of his comrades by giving him a cameo in the newest “Avengers: Civil War” film and announcing the “Black Panther” film’s release in 2018. With that said, I thought it appropriate to list a few reasons as to why the Black Panther character is so important not only to me, but to my community. He’s a symbol of more than justice; he’s a symbol of pride, hope, and so much more. Here it goes…

(14) BREAKDOWN! You’ve seen the trailers, but have you seen the trailer breakdown by Jacob Hall: “Black Panther Trailer Breakdown: Welcome to Wakanda”. Posted in June 2017 on Slashfilm.

The Black Panther trailer feels like a breath of fresh air in an environment crowded with superhero movies – no comic book adaptation has ever looked like this. Heck, no movie has ever looked like this. Even with a few familiar Marvel Studios trappings on display, Ryan Coogler’s movie looks to blend superheroes and afrofuturism and all kinds of intrigue into something…well, new.

And if you’re new to this corner of the Marvel universe (or just want to take a closer look), we went through the trailer frame-by-frame for an extended breakdown. Join us, won’t you?

Frame by lovely frame!

And, if you want to look at the trailer again after the breakdown, here you go:

(15) CRYING EYES. Alan Jenkins gets geeky and weepy and happy about Wonder Woman and Black Panther in this piece published in Ebony in July 2017: “Black Panther, Wonder Woman and the Power of Representation”.

My theory is that audiences are being moved by the overwhelming power of symbolism.  We are not used to seeing people of color and women on the big screen who are powerful, triumphant, and heroes of their own story.  The most emotionally powerful moments in each film are those that use the power of symbols to break away from social stereotypes.

As in the Black Panther comic book, the film’s characters are everything that a century of cinematic Black and African characters have not been.  They are regal.  They are brilliant.  They are gorgeous.  They are the future as well as the past.

(16)  REVOLUTIONARY!  “Black Superheroes Matter: Why a ‘Black Panther’ Movie Is Revolutionary”, by Tre Johnson, in Rolling Stone, October 2017, puts the upcoming film in the historical context of American film and comics representations of heroes.

The novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talks about “the danger of a single story” – about Africa, about black brilliance, our humanity and the black experience for too long. There would never be a time when this movie’s creation wouldn’t mean something to black people in particular, and the inevitable backlash that this movie will receive for its celebration, existence and confidence in blackness will be a reminder that there are no new conversations, merely new opportunities to remind us of who we collectively are. Yet that won’t matter because the people this movie will speak most deeply to – a rainbow-coalition cross-section of black comic book readers, African-American movie audiences, Boseman/ Jordan/ Bassett/ Nyong’o fans, black-culture connoisseurs and pop-culture nerds – will see something of themselves in this movie. They will also likely be both familiar and resistant to the disdain it will receive for merely existing. Like anything black in America, Black Panther will be politicized for being black, which is to say for being and for announcing itself as a having a right to be here and to be heard.

(17) AFROFUTURISM. Mic, a digital news media site, discussed the revolutionary Afrofuturistic elements of Black Panther in December 2017 in  “‘Black Panther’ isn’t just another Marvel movie–it’s a vision of a future led by blackness”.

Wakanda is more than just a fun spectacle; it represents something much more magnificent and powerful — a version of Africa unaffected by the external world, one that was allowed to pursue its own march toward spectacular progress.

When the most recent trailer for the movie was released in October, people weren’t just excited, they were jubilant. Now, it’s an event pretty much every time there’s a new Marvel movie but — no disrespect to Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, etc. — those blockbusters don’t normally have an entire culture of people impatiently awaiting their release. So what makes Black Panther especially noteworthy?

The secret sauce of Marvel’s Black Panther is Afrofuturism — an arts form that combines science fiction with black culture to create a future informed by blackness. On its face, Black Panther masquerades as Marvel’s latest superhero flick. Dig deeper and you’ll find the movie’s true identity: an Africa-set, Afrofuturist film — made for black people, by black people — powered by a Disney budget.

(18)  WRIGHT AND NYONG’O INTERVIEW. TeenVogue‘s Lynette Nylander interviewed Letitia Wright and Lupita Nyong’o on film diversity and superheroes in December 2017: “Letitia Wright and Lupita Nyong’o on “Black Panther” Film and Diversity in Hollywood”.

When he debuted in 1966 as the first black superhero in mainstream American comics, Black Panther broke boundaries. Naturally, next year’s silver-screen rendition of his story, featuring a nearly all-black cast, isn’t going to be just a box-office blockbuster — it’s going to be history in the making. The film is set in the fictional African country of Wakanda, where Black Panther (also known as T’Challa) serves as a leader at a time when the nation’s safety is under threat. And at the core of the story: Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o and ingénue Letitia Wright as Nakia and Shuri, who play two of the strongest women in Wakanda. Their characters do away with the usual damsel-in-distress narrative associated with many classic superhero movies and create a new normal. Here, they discuss what making Black Panther meant to them and what the movie will hopefully mean for others.

(19) THE WOMEN OF WAKANDA. Cameron Glover looks at the women heroes in “Here’s What Black Panther Is Doing Differently For Its Female Heroes” posted in January 2018 at Refinery29.

The expansion of what a woman’s role in film looks like speaks directly to how the female action heroes of Black Panther are able to balance their fight scenes with embodying these expansive personal themes. Giving women, especially Black women, such public roles in the film not only speaks volumes to how women are regarded within Wakanda, but also shows the shifting attitudes of women’s roles in action films. The way that female action stars are celebrated and centered within the film is just another reason to snag a ticket to see Black Panther once it’s released next month.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/5/16 Scrollamagoosa

Radio SFWA(1) RADIO SFWA OFFICIAL VIDEO. Henry Lien has released the video of Radio SFWA as performed on stage at the Nebula Banquet in May.

Lien, who wrote the song as a recruiting anthem for the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, sang as Emperor Stardust backed by the brilliantly-choreographed Eunuchs of the Forbidden City doing SFWA spellouts and other routines. They received a well-deserved standing-O at the end.

Click CC (Closed Captioning) to view the lyrics.

Click Settings to watch it in 1080 HD.

Emperor Stardust

  • Henry Lien (Nebula Nominee, SFWA Member)

The Eunuchs of the Forbidden City

  • Liz Argall (SFWA Member)
  • Tina Connolly (Norton Nominee, SFWA Member)
  • Alyx Dellamonica (SFWA Member)
  • Patrice Fitzgerald (SFWA Member)
  • Fonda Lee (Norton Nominee, SFWA Member)
  • Reggie Lutz (Future SFWA Member)
  • Kelly Robson (Nebula Nominee, SFWA Member)

(2) MIDWESTERN MIGHTINESS. “Marvel reveals New Great Lakes Avengers Series”Nerdist has the story.

They’re not Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. They’re not even the West Coast Avengers. At one point, they received a cease-and-desist order to prevent them from using the Avengers name. But their tenacity could not be stopped and their inherent silliness endeared them to readers all around the world. And that is precisely why Marvel is announcing today, exclusively on Nerdist, that they are bringing back the Great Lakes Avengers in an all-new monthly ongoing comic book series….

Let’s begin with the obvious question: why is now the right time to revive the Great Lakes Avengers?

“Now is the time for Great Lakes Avengers to return, one, because I simply want to do it,” [editor Tom] Brevoort joked. “They need to give me perks to keep doing the comics that people like and that sell really well,” he added with a laugh.

Great-Lakes-Avengers-Cover

(3) SALTIRE. At another spot on the map, BBC reports a “Scottish superhero challenge to Marvel and DC Comics”.

Glaswegian [John] Ferguson, who set up Diamondsteel Comics with his Lancashire-born wife Clare, said other elements of Scotland’s past and folklore also feature.

He said: “The Stone of Destiny, the Blue Stanes, the Loch Ness Monster and the Caledonian Fae traditions all have a significant place in the Saltire universe.

“Saltire’s origin is built from myth and legend so a comparison might be Marvel’s Thor although perhaps a bit darker and grittier. He does have an iconic visual appeal similar to the famous American superheroes.”

A year in the making, Saltire: Legend Eternal, the first comic book in a new series of the comics has been “meticulously inked, coloured and lettered” to compete with the high standards set by Marvel and DC Comics, said Ferguson.

(4) WHO NEEDS A DEGREE? Recently, David Tennant and Steven Moffat each received honorary degrees from different schools in Scotland.

Dr Who star David Tennant has travelled back in time to his old acting school to pick up an honorary degree.

The Broadchurch actor has been awarded an honorary drama doctorate from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

The 46-year-old was recognised during a ceremony in Glasgow.

Tennant studied drama at the Royal Conservatoire between 1988 and 1991, then known as the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, before enjoying success on stage and screen.

He said: “I’m honoured and rather humbled to be here – it’s all quite overwhelming but lovely to be back. It evokes some very vivid memories.

“It was a very important time for me. I don’t think I would have survived without my time here – for me it was essential. Three years of getting to practice in a safe environment.

“I was quite young, quite green, and I did a lot of growing up here and learned an enormous amount. They were very formative years that I look back on very fondly.”

Dr Who writer Steven Moffat also received an honorary degree from the University of the West of Scotland in Paisley.

(5) TRUDEAU. In Yanan Wang’s story for the Washington Post, “How Canada’s prime minister became a superhero”, about Justin Trudeau’s appearance in the Marvel comic Civil War II: Choosing Sides  she explains that writer Chip Zdarsky (who writes as “Steve Murray”) put Justin Trudeau in the comic book because his father, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, made an earlier appearance with the Alpha Flight team (who are Canadian superheroes) in the 1980s.

She also unleashes this quote from Peter C. Newman, a prominent Canadian business journalist:

“If God had meant for us to be heroic, he wouldn’t have made us Canadians.  This is the only country on Earth whose citizens dream of being Clark Kent, instead of Superman.” To regard themselves as heroes would be “boastful,” Newman observed, which Canadians were decidedly not.

(6) CONTROVERSY. “In His New Novel, Ben Winters Dares to Mix Slavery and Sci-Fi”, a New York Times article, covers a lot of ground about a book whose reception is all over the spectrum.

In Ben H. Winters’s chilling new thriller, “Underground Airlines,” a bounty hunter named Victor tracks fugitives for the United States Marshals Service. But his mission, like his past, is complicated: The people he’s chasing are escaped slaves. Their main crime is rejecting a life of forced servitude. And Victor himself was once one of them.

From the moment he started writing it, Mr. Winters knew that “Underground Airlines” was creatively and professionally risky. The novel tackles the thorny subject of racial injustice in America. It takes place in a contemporary United States where the Civil War never happened, and slavery remains legal in four states, and it’s narrated by a former slave who has paid a steep moral price for his freedom.

“I had reservations every day, up to the present day, because the subject is so fraught, and rightfully so,” Mr. Winters said. “It isn’t as if this is ancient history in this country.”

Mr. Winters, 40, has pulled off high-wire acts before. As one of the early literary mash-up artists, he churned out zany best sellers like “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters” and “Android Karenina.” His best-selling trilogy, “The Last Policeman,” is a genre-defying blend of crime writing and science fiction, starring a stoic police officer trying to solve crimes as the world braces for a catastrophic asteroid collision….

“He’s taking a direct whack at one of the main critical things that’s happening in this country right now,” said Lev Grossman, a book critic and author of the fantasy series “The Magicians.” “This is a white writer going after questions of what it’s like to be black in America. It’s a fearless thing to do.”

(7) WORLDCON IN MEMORIAM LIST. Steven H Silver announced that the deadline for getting names onto the In Memoriam list for the MidAmeriCon II program book is Friday, July 8.  Names currently under consideration can be found at http://www.midamericon2.org/home/general-information/memoriam-page/. Suggestions for additional names can be made there as well.  Any names suggested after July 8 will make it into the Hugo scroll, but not the program book.

(8) TODAY IN SILLY HISTORY

  • July 5, 1935 — Hormel Foods introduced the canned meat product SPAM.

(9) DID YOU PAY ATTENTION? Den of Geek put the Back to the Future movies under a microscope and came up with “The Back to the Future Trilogy: 88 Things You Might Have Missed”. The most I can say is that I hadn’t missed all of them. Take number one, for example:

  1. The Doc’s clocks (I)

As the first film opens and we pan across Doc Brown’s incredible assortment of clocks – all previously synchronized to be exactly 25 minutes slow – the eagle-eyed may notice that one of the clocks features a man hanging from its hands. It’s actually silent comedy star Harold Lloyd, dangling from a clock in perhaps his most famous turn in 1923’s Safety Last. Aside from being a cool little nod to a past movie, it also prefigures the later scene in which Doc hangs from the Hill Valley clock in near-identical fashion.

(10) FUTURE WARFARE. Jeb Kinnison will be on the “Weaponized AI and Future Warfare” panel at LibertyCon, and is preparing by organizing his thoughts in a series of highly detailed blog posts.

In Part I of Weaponized AI: My Experience in AI, Kinnison shares details of his professional background in technology, which informs the rest of his discussion.

Autonomous control of deadly weaponry is controversial, though no different in principle than cruise missiles or smart bombs, which while launched at human command make decisions on-the-fly about exactly where and whether to explode. The Phalanx CIWS automated air defense system (see photo above) identifies and fires on enemy missiles automatically to defend Navy ships at a speed far beyond human abilities. Such systems are uncontroversial since no civilian human lives are likely to be at risk.

DARPA is actively researching Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS). Such systems might be like Neal Asher’s (identity) reader guns, fixed or slow-moving sentries equipped to recognize unauthorized presences and cut them to pieces with automatic weapons fire. More mobile platforms might cruise the skies and attack any recognized enemy at will, robotically scouring terrain of enemy forces:…

Many of the readers of Mil SF have had experience in the military themselves, which makes platoon-level fighting stories especially involving for them. The interpersonal aspects are critical for emotional investment in the story — so a tale featuring a skinny, bespectacled systems operators fighting each other by running AI battle mechs from a remote location doesn’t satisfy. Space marines a la Starship Troopers are the model for much Mil SF — in these stories new technology extends and reinforces mobile infantry without greatly changing troop dynamics, leaving room for stories of individual combat, valorous rescue of fellow soldiers in trouble, spur-of-the-moment risks taken and battles won by clever tactics. Thousands of books on this model have been written, and they still sell well, even when they lack any rationale for sending valuable human beings down to fight bugs when the technology for remote or AI control appears to be present in their world.

One interesting escape route for Mil SF writers is seen in Michael Z Williamson’s A Long Time Until Now, where the surrounding frame is not space travel but time travel — a troop from today’s Afghanistan war find themselves transported back to paleolithic central Asia with other similarly-displaced military personnel from other eras and has to survive and build with limited knowledge of their environment.

(11) KRUSHING IT. At secritkrush, Chance Morrison has launched a review series about Hugo-nominated short fiction. Still looking for one that Morrison liked…

Novella it a tough length. Most of the time Novellas feel like they are either bloated short stories which could benefit from an edit or a story which really ought to be expanded into a novel to do it justice. Binti is one of the latter….

Why, given this setup, was the book not a comedy, even a dark one because I really cannot take it seriously but it is really not funny?

One day Google (the search engine) develops consciousness and decides that it doesn’t want to be evil, unlike Google the company….

Writing stories under 1000 words is exceedingly difficult. Writing one of the five best (allegedly) SF short stories of the year in less than a thousand words? Highly unlikely.

Data and River Tam/Jessica Jones together at last! They fight crime commit crimes….

(12) ON THE TRAIL. Lisa Goldstein feels a little more warmly about “’And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead’” – at least room temperature.

“And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander is the only novelette on the Hugo ballot that was not also on the Rabid Puppies’ slate.  To get that far, against all the Puppies voting in lockstep, means that it’s probably a very popular story.  I liked it as well, but I had some reservations.  Which puts me in a minority, so you should definitely read it and make up your own mind.  Hey, I don’t claim to be infallible here.

(13) WORLDCON ANNOUNCES FILM FESTIVAL. The 2016 Worldcon will host the MidAmeriCon II International Film Festival.

The Festival will showcase the best film shorts, features and documentaries from around the world, spanning the science fiction, fantasy, horror, and comic genres. Many film makers will also be in attendance and taking part in Q&A sessions to provide a unique behind the scenes perspective on their work.

The MidAmeriCon II International Film Festival is being led by Nat Saenz, whose extensive track record in the field includes the Tri-City Independent/Fan Film Festival (www.trifi.org) as well as events at the 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015 World Science Fiction Conventions. Nat continues to bring a truly global perspective to his audience, with the 2016 programme including films from Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Russia, Germany, Spain, Greece, France, Italy, and the UK, as well as the USA and Canada.

The Film Festival will run through all five days of the convention, starting at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, August 17 and concluding at 2 p.m. on Sunday, August 21.  All films are open to full and day attending convention members (subject to relevant age restrictions in line with film classifications). All screenings will take place at the Kansas City Convention Center.

A full screening schedule can be found at www.midamericon2.org/home/whats-happening/programming/film-festival/.

[Thanks to Henry Lien, Steven H Silver, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Dawn Incognito.]