Pixel Scroll 6/4/20 You Put The File In The Pixel Scroll And Drank It All Up? And Pinged The Glyer And Woke Him Up?

(1) ANOTHER AGENCY MELTDOWN. After Marisa Corvisiero’s tweet provoked several agents to resign from her agency — Corvisiero fired the rest. Book & Film Globe supplies the background:

Literary Twitter has responded in all manner of ways to the death of George Floyd and to the subsequent nationwide outrage. Anti-racist book lists abound, black-owned bookstores get great press, and people continue to call out the publishing industry for racism. Most recent is Marisa Corvisiero, founder and agent at Corvisiero Literary Agency, an NYC-based boutique agency whose clients include Maze Runner author James Dashner, who publisher Penguin Randomhouse dropped in 2018 over allegations of sexual misconduct.

“Make your point, take a stand, and don’t hurt other people or damage property in the process,” said Corvisiero yesterday in a now-deleted tweet. “No violence is acceptable ever. The whole point is to be heard and seen to help make things better.”

In response to this statement and to the agency’s representation of Dashner, many members of Corvisiero’s staff resigned this week. And if things ended there, this wouldn’t be news. Instead, Corvisiero doubled down by firing her remaining staffers. 

Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware tweeted a screencap of Corvisiero’s message telling her agents they were fired:

Here are some tweets from the agents who resigned.

Erik Thurman is assembling a “List of Former Clients of Corvisiero Literary Agency with Orphaned Work” (Google Docs).

Due to facing criticism from tweets sent out by the owner of CLA, many clients discovered that their literary agents were fired en masse and now have their livelihoods thrown in disarray during a pandemic. This directory is meant for literary agents and editors to help ease the blow and economic hardship this has placed on these writers by finding them home for new work.

(2) HUGO VOTER PACKET TABLE OF CONTENTS. Laura’s Library has made a list of what’s in the “2020 Hugo Voters Packet”. There are also detailed comments citing problems with some documents.

In the following breakdown, I have put an asterisk (*) next to the file types where I noticed formatting issues.  In most cases, these issues only affect the EPUB and MOBI formats, and the PDF version of the same book looks fine….

(3) SFWA ANNOUNCES A STRATEGY. From the SFWA Blog: “A Statement from SFWA on Black Lives Matter and Protests”.

…We support Black Lives Matter and the protesters who are seeking justice for centuries of white supremacy and police brutality.

We acknowledge that SFWA has historically ignored and, in too many instances, reinforced the injustices, systemic barriers, and unaddressed racism, particularly toward Black people, that have contributed to this moment. We have allowed those who spoke for change in SFWA to be drowned out by those who clung to the status quo. We have a responsibility to admit our failings and to continually commit to dismantling these oppressive and harmful systems, both within this organization and ourselves.

These are the actions that SFWA is taking as first steps to clean our own house and work towards making our community safer for Black writers.

  • For the month of June, 100% of registrations for the 2020 Nebula Convention Online content will go directly to the Carl Brandon Society and the Black Speculative Fiction Society.
  • We are creating a matching program for the 2020 Nebula Convention Online so that each registration purchased this month creates a seat for a Black writer.
  • For the next year, we are waiving fees for SFWA membership for Black writers.
  • We are waiving registration fees for next year’s Nebula conference attendance for Black writers.
  • We are creating a travel fund to help defer the costs of Black writers attending the Nebula conference.
  • We are committing to reaching out to Black-led science fiction and fantasy organizations about applying for the additional grant money that we have available.

(4) NYT ON CHARLIE LIPPINCOTT. The New York Times tribute went up yesterday: “Charles Lippincott, Who Hyped ‘Star Wars,’ Is Dead at 80”.

(5) FINANCIAL TIMES NOTES CHINESE WORLDCON BID. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Behind a paywall in the May 30 Financial Times, Jing Tsu, John M Schiff professor of East Asian languages and literatures at Yale University, discusses the Chinese 2023 Worldcon bid as part of her survey of current Chinese sf.

…Meanwhile, even as they opened their doors, the organisers of the Chengdu gathering (AsiaCon) were also thinking, on a more global scale, eyeing a bid to host the World Science Fiction Convention in 2023.  For those outside the sci-fi world, ‘Worldcon’–an annual affair that has been running for over 80 years and draws from a mainly North American and European fan base of sci-fi enthusiasts–might not mean very much.

But for those in the know, it is, according to Yao Haijun, editor of Chengdu-based magazine Science Fiction World, which helped organise AsiaCon, like bidding to host the Olympics.  Landing WorldCon would confirm China’s position as a global centre in sci-fi. not just an ordinary participant.  ‘It would be a true landmark,’ says Han Song, a widely respected voice in the Chinese science-fiction world, ‘to bring writers and fans from disparate worlds together to learn and share one another’s visions for the future.’

A concerted effort is now under way to secure the necessary support among the 6,000 or so WorldCon fan members who will vote on the location for the 2023 event.  The Chinese sci-fi community has been diligently lobbying for the idea, dispatching representatives to staff booths at recent world conventions in London, Helsinki, San Jose, and Dublin to spread the slogan of Chengdu–‘Panda Wants a WorldCon.’

As such, China’s sci-fi scene is emerging as an unexpected element in a broader initiative of cultural diplomacy aimed at projecting a positive and engaging impression of the country abroad.  Yet unlike Beijing’s ‘panda’ or ‘ping-pong’ initiatives of the past, it is driven by popular grassroots enthusiasm–which has made Chinese officials sit up and take notice.

Tsu interviewed Discon III co-chair Bill Lawhorn, who said he visited Chengdu and found a “city pushing to be on the cutting edge.’

(6) BILL AND TED GREET THE GRADS. John Scalzi could tell you where San Dimas is – he lived there once. (Actually, so did I.) “Bill & Ted: Reeves And Winter Deliver A Short (But Most Excellent) Address To The Class Of 2020” at SYFY Wire.

Last night, the San Dimas High School seniors graduated in a virtual ceremony attended by the school’s most famous alumni: Bill Preston and Ted Logan, the time-traveling, air guitar-playing heroes of the Bill & Ted movies. Appearing in a short video message, actors Keanu Reeves (Ted) and Alex Winter (Bill) offered their hearty congratulations to the class of 2020.

“We know that it’s a tough time right now and that you’re having to do this virtual graduation,” Winter said. “We wanna wish you the best of luck moving forward.”

“Well done,” added Reeves.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • June 4, 1982 Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan premiered. Directed by Nicholas Meyer and produced by Robert Sallin, the screenplay was by Jack B. Sowards off a story by Harve Bennett and Jack B. Sowards. It starred the entire original Trek cast plus guest stars of Bibi Besch, Merritt Butrick, Paul Winfield, Kirstie Alley and Ricardo Montalbán. Gene Roddenberry was not involved in its production. It was a box office success and critics really, really liked it. It’s generally considered the best of all the Trek films ever produced. It would finish second to Bladerunner at ConStellation for Best Dramatic Presentation. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a stellar 90% rating. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born June 4, 1894 – Patricia Lynch.  Interwove Irish rural life and fantasy.  In The Turf-Cutter’s Donkey (here’s a Jack Yeats illustration) and 3 sequels, children meet the Salmon of Knowledge and Fionn mac Cumhaill (pronounced roughly “fin m’cool”), are replaced by mischievous changelings, and like that; in Brogeen of the Stepping Stones and 11 sequels the leprechaun Brogeen keeps running away from home, with his elephant companion Trud.  Fifty novels, two hundred shorter stories.  (Died 1972) [JH]
  • Born June 4, 1897 Robert J. Hogan. Starting in 1933 and lasting for 115 issues, his G-8 and His Battle Aces (both the name of the superhero here and the pulp itself), battled mad scientists, vampires, weirdly advanced technology and the like. He also wrote The Secret 6: The Complete Adventures, more pulp adventures which had an even stronger SF bent. The latter is available at the usual digital suspects for a very reasonable price. (Died 1963.) (CE) 
  • Born June 4, 1916 – Ozma Baum Mantele.  First granddaughter of L. Frank Baum (1856-1919).  The Lost Princess of Oz was dedicated to her.  It was one of her last wishes that Baum’s manuscript of his last Oz book (Glinda of Oz) be donated to the Library of Congress; done, the year after her death.  “Memories of My Grandmother Baum”, “Ozcot, My Second Home”, and “Fairy Tales Can Come True If You’re Young At Heart” in The Baum Bugle; see also its “Baum Family Questionnaire”.  (Died 1999) [JH]
  • Born June 4, 1930 – Steve Schultheis.  Coined “Beastley’s on the Bayou” when Beatley’s hotel on Indian Lake, Ohio, wouldn’t admit African-American Bev Clark to Midwestcon IV.  Wrote (with Virginia Schultheis) the song “Captain Future Meets Gilbert & Sullivan”.  Retrieved the 15th Worldcon’s gavel for the Goon Defective Agency, in what proved to be as true to life as the Agency itself (John Berry wrote up the Agency, satirizing himself as Goon Bleary).  Instrumental in composing the World Science Fiction Society constitution adopted by the 21st Worldcon.  [JH]
  • Born June 4, 1936 Bruce Dern, 84. Here for Silent Running, a film I’d completely forgotten I’d seen until compiling this Birthday but which I thought was awesome when I saw in-theatre. It’s the directorial debut of Douglas Trumbull who went on to much more famous projects. He also shows up in a number of other genre films such as The Incredible 2-Headed TransplantThe HauntingThe Astronaut Farmer and Freaks. Needless to say, you’ll find him on series such as The Outer LimitsAlfred Hitchcock Presents and Land of the Giants. (CE)
  • Born June 4, 1951 Wendi Pini, 69. With husband Richard, responsible for Elfquest which won them a BalrogOver the years Elfquest has been self-published by the Pinis through their own company Warp Graphics, then Marvel Comics, then the Pinis again, more recently DC Comics and then Dark Horse Comics. Everything prior to 2013 is free online. Be prepared to spend hours lost in great reading! (CE)
  • Born June 4, 1953 – Pam Fremon, F.N.  Chaired two Boskones; worked on 47th, 62nd, 66th Worldcons (maybe more if I remembered better).  Elected a Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; for service).  Here’s a photo of some watermelon art for the Orlando in 2001 Worldcon bid.  (Died 2012) [JH]
  • Born June 4, 1960 Kristine Kathryn Rusch, 60. If you’ve not discovered the amazements of her Diving Universe series, you’re in for a treat — it’s that good. Her Retrieval Artist series is one that can be read in no particular order so is a great deal of fun no matter where you start. Other than those two series, I’ve not read deeply of her, so recommendations are welcome. Oh, and she won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer for “Sing”. Her Website is here; don’t miss her appreciation of A.J. Budrys.  (CE)
  • Born June 4, 1969 – Ralph Voltz.  German-born illustrator now of North Carolina.  Four hundred fifty covers, and much else, in and out of our field.  Here is This Is My Funniesthere is The Nakk and the Cat (Nakks are in the Perry Rhodan universe); here is “Star Wars” on Trial.  [JH]
  • Born June 4, 1972 Joe Hill, 48. I’ve met him once or twice down the years as he shows up here in Portland for signings at both book shops and comic shops. Nice guy like his father. Actually, the whole family is amazingly nice. Locke & Key is a superb graphic novel series and I’m fond of all of his short stories, particularly those collected in 20th Century Ghosts. I’ve got Full Throttle, his latest collection in my digital reading pile. I notice that though he’s not yet won a Hugo, he’s won a fistful of Stokers, many BFAs, a World Fantasy Award and even an International Horror Guild Award.  (CE)
  • Born June 4, 1975 Angelina Jolie, 45. I really liked her two Tomb Raider films and thought Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was a really cool film with her role quite magnificent. I never saw her early Cyborg 2 undertaking but think Hackers and her role as Kate “Acid Burn” Libby was rather good. I’ve not seen, nor have any desire to see, her two Maleficent films. (CE)
  • Born June 4, 1984 – Xia Jia.  A dozen short stories so far; under the name by which she earned a Ph.D. she is a university lecturer in China.  In “The Demon-Enslaving Flask” James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) meets a demon, with footnotes. “A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight” shows what at first seems a haunted keep, as in millennia of Chinese stories, but proves to be a decayed far-future theme park with cyborgs.  Translated into Czech, English, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Romanian, Spanish.  [JH]

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) NOT STAR VEHICLES. ScreenRant assures you these are “The 10 Most Hilariously Bad Sci-Fi Vehicles In Movies, Ranked”.

But not all sci-fi vehicles are fondly remembered like the USS Enterprise or Mad Max’s Interceptor. Some of these haven’t aged well while others are just hilariously lame in general. In this list, we will rank 10 such hilariously bad vehicles in sci-fi films….

8. Total Recall – Johnny Cab

Total Recall‘s chaotic future seems to be annoying on purpose with all sorts of flashy, over-the-top technology, and space creatures. No wonder that leading man Arnold Schwarzenneger spends most of the movie in a cranky mood. The cherry on the top is the Johnny Cab.

Johnny Cabs are the taxis of the year 2084 that are driven by robotic drivers that look more like a creepy human-size ventriloquist dummy. And these drivers can be really annoying, making small talk with the passengers at every instance. Further, the cabs are pretty grotesque in themselves. In fact, the Tesla trucks pretty much look like Johnny Cabs!

(11) GRANDMA THEFT AUTO. Behind a paywall in The Week:

“A 90-year-old Japanese woman has developed an online following for her skill in playing video games. Hamako Mori, known as the ‘Gaming Grandma,’ said she acquired her passion for gaming 39 years ago while watching children play.  ‘It looked like so much fun,’ she said, adding it wasn’t ‘fair if only children’ got to play. Today, 150,000 YouTube followers log in to watch her play her favorite game:  the violent Grand Theft Auto 5, where a carjacker kills people with an assortment of weapons.  ‘I am truly enjoying my life,’ she said.  ‘It’s rosy.'” 

(12) THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE. Camestros Felapton explained the true origins of his prowess.

(13) DUDS ON JEOPARDY! [Item by Andrew Porter.] First day of the Teacher’s Tournament Final on Jeopardy!

Not science fiction or fantasy, but still stunningly wrong questions.

Answer: On this man’s death in a 1935 motorcycle accident, Churchill said, his “pace of life was faster & more intense than the ordinary.”

All three got it wrong:

  • “Who is Chamberlain?”
  • “Who is Astin-Martin?”
  • “Who is Davidson?”

Correct question: “Who is T.E. Lawrence?”

I am pondering a world in which Neville Chamberlain died in a motorcycle accident — who knew he had it in him? — and never got to be PM, or met Herr Hitler, or wave that piece of paper in the air….

(14) BANK HOLIDAY ENDS. BBC is there when “Jodrell Bank Observatory ‘switched on’ after longest shutdown”.

The Jodrell Bank Observatory is being “switched back on” after the longest shutdown in its history.

The first set of telescopes have resumed operations at the Cheshire site after it was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, said a spokesman.

During lockdown, staffing at the University of Manchester facility was cut from about 60 to a “skeleton crew”.

Scientists have dubbed the switch-on the biggest “reboot” in the history of astrophysics.

Research, including a study into how planets form around stars, has continued at home since on-site research ended on 17 March.

The world famous site will remain closed to visitors until the government changes its guidelines on visiting public places such as museums, said a spokesman.

‘Positive signal’


Jodrell Bank, which opened in 1957, is known as the birthplace of radio astronomy and is one of the earliest radio telescopes in the world.

(15) CRUNCHABLY SOFT. Oor Wombat risks all for science. And cleans up after. Thread starts here.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George’s “If The News Was A Person.”

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

Waiting For Online Hugo Voting And The 2020 Voter Packet

By JJ: Enquiring Hugo voter minds want to know: When will we be able to vote online? When will the Hugo Voter Packet be available?

In the fine tradition of similar File 770 posts on the subject in years past, and using my highly-refined statistical skills gained while acquiring my Master’s degree from Cattimothy U*, here is a comparison of the deadlines and availability dates of recent Worldcons.

Because what the hell, we’ve got time to kill. And a year from now, someone is going to ask about this again, the way they do every year.

Notes:

  • In 2008 and 2009, the Hugo Voter Packet was put together by John Scalzi
  • In 2012, the Hugo Voter Packet was released in stages starting on May 18, becoming fully available on May 30
  • With the exception of 2009, 2016, 2017, 2019, and 2020, all Finalist Announcements were made on Easter weekend

Timing Observations:

  • Aussiecon 4 in 2010 had online nominations available the earliest, on January 1.
  • Aussiecon 4 and Loncon 3 in 2014 had online nominations available the longest, at 82 days.
  • Chicon 7 in 2012 and Renovation in 2011 were the Worldcons which had online voting up and running the fastest, at 2 and 5 days following the announcement of the Finalists.
  • Chicon 7 had online voting available the longest, at 113 days.
  • Denvention 3 in 2008 and Renovation were the Worldcons which had the Hugo Voter Packet available the most quickly, at 3 and 4 weeks following the Finalist announcement.


1 – days between online nominations becoming available and nomination deadline
2 – days between nomination deadline and finalist announcement
3 – days between finalist announcement and online voting becoming available
4 – days between finalist announcement and Hugo Voter Packet becoming available
5 – days between online voting becoming available and voting deadline
6 – days between voting deadline and the start of Worldcon


While you’re waiting for the Hugo Voter Packet, here’s a list of links to read the 2020 Hugo Finalists which are available for free online.

*The Camestros Felapton University for Beating Statistical Horses Until They Are Thoroughly Dead

Where To Find The 2020 Hugo Award Finalists For Free Online

By JJ: CoNZealand has announced the 2020 Hugo Award Finalists. Since the Hugo Voter’s packet will take awhile to arrive, if you’d like to get a head start on your reading, you can use this handy guide to find material which is available for free online. Where available in their entirety, works are linked (most of the Novelettes and Short Stories are free, as are the Pro and Fan Artist images, and many of the Semiprozines and Fanzines).

If not available for free, an Amazon link is provided. If a free excerpt is available online, it has been linked.

If I’ve missed an excerpt, or a link doesn’t work, please let me know in the comments, and I’ll get it fixed.

Fair notice: All Amazon links are referrer URLs which benefit fan site Worlds Without End.

2020 HUGO AWARD FINALISTS

Novel

Novella

Novelette

Short Story

Best Series

Best Related Work

Best Graphic Story or Comic

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

Best Editor, Short Form

Best Editor, Long Form

Best Professional Artist

Best Semiprozine

  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies, editor Scott H. Andrews
  • Escape Pod, editors Mur Lafferty and S.B. Divya, assistant editor Benjamin C. Kinney, audio producers Adam Pracht and Summer Brooks, hosts Tina Connolly and Alasdair Stuart
  • Fireside Magazine, editor Julia Rios, managing editor Elsa Sjunneson, copyeditor Chelle Parker, social coordinator Meg Frank, publisher & art director Pablo Defendini, founding editor Brian White
  • FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction, executive editor Troy L. Wiggins, editors Eboni Dunbar, Brent Lambert, L.D. Lewis, Danny Lore, Brandon O’Brien and Kaleb Russell
  • Strange Horizons, edited by Vanessa Rose Phin, Catherine Krahe, AJ Odasso, Dan Hartland, Joyce Chng, Dante Luiz, and the Strange Horizons Staff
  • Uncanny Magazine, editors-in-chief Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas, nonfiction/managing editor Michi Trota, managing editor Chimedum Ohaegbu, podcast producers Erika Ensign and Steven Schapansky, Disabled People Destroy Fantasy Special Issue editors Katharine Duckett, Nicolette Barischoff, and Lisa M. Bradley

Best Fanzine

Best Fancast

Best Fan Writer

Best Fan Artist

Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book

Astounding Award for Best New Writer

* [2nd year of eligibility]

Pixel Scroll 5/22/19 Post Scroll Propter Scroll

(1) HUGO VOTER PACKET ADDITION. The editors of Uncanny Magazine tweeted –

(2) WINDS (OF WINTER) BENEATH MY WINGS. George R.R. Martin gave a classy response to Air New Zealand’s offer to “help” him finish his next book by flying him to their country — “Thanks, New Zealand”.

…Of course, I was especially moved by your offer to bring me to New Zealand “on us.”  How wonderfully generous.   As it happens, I do have enough money to make it to New Zealand on my own… but there are many American writers, fans, and artists who do not.   If you’d care to fly, say, twenty or thirty or fifty of them to Wellington in place of me, I have no doubt they would instantly accept, and fall in love with Middle Earth.. er, New Zealand… just as I have. 

Of course, GRRM already has plays to go there – he gave a nice shout-out to CoNZealand.

In the summer of 2020, Wellington is hosting the World Science Fiction Convention, the oldest and most important con in the SF/ fantasy calendar, and they’ve asked me to serve as Toastmaster for the Hugo Awards. Writers, fans, and artists from all over the world will be headed down to check out all of your wonders. I hope lots of you Kiwis will join us.

And while he didn’t promise to have the next book done before then, he expressed hope that he will —

As for finishing my book… I fear that New Zealand would distract me entirely too much.   Best leave me here in Westeros for the nonce.   But I tell you this — if I don’t have THE WINDS OF WINTER in hand when I arrive in New Zealand for worldcon, you have here my formal written permission to imprison me in a small cabin on White Island, overlooking that lake of sulfuric acid, until I’m done.   Just so long as the acrid fumes do not screw up my old DOS word processor, I’ll be fine.

(3) FIFTY YEARS ALREADY? “Disneyland Summons a Spirited 50th for the Haunted Mansion” reports NBC Los Angeles. I was in high school when the attraction was about to open, and was one of the winners of the contest held by KFI radio personality Jay Lawrence to pick a group of people who’d be among the first to go through the ride. You entered by writing a very short (100 word?) bit about your family ghost. I made up something about a relative who was a failed baseball player, and decided to end it all by walking into the ocean – because, don’t you know, there are 20,000 leagues under the sea…

(4) HARASSMENT ALLEGATIONS. “AnimeNEXT Staff Launch Investigation Into Sexual Misconduct Allegations Against Former Con Chair”Anime News Network has the story.

Allegations of sexual misconduct against a former member of the board of Atlantic City’s AnimeNEXT convention has led to an ongoing internal investigation. Former con staff member “Anne May” posted her story on Facebook on March 12 where she alleged the board member was “handsy,” made inappropriate comments, and invited her back to his room in 2015. Anime News Network learned via former convention staff members that the allegations were levied against long-time AnimeNEXT staffer Eric Torgersen.

…Staff members that were present at the vote stated that the allegations relayed to them by the President of the Board Robert Rustay were misrepresented as less serious.

“What we were told is that one staff member reported that Eric was chatting with them and asked if they drank and then invited them to his room for drinks. The request made them uncomfortable so they reported it to another member of Corporate HR Carlo Darclin. In actuality it was a number of staff members who were approached in a similar fashion,” former staff member “B” told ANN.

“From my understanding, the decision had been made by the President [Rustay] and Chairman of the Board, who also happened to be Eric’s best friend, to move on from the matter,” they said.

Torgersen would remain on the board of directors and a vote held at the meeting would make him convention chair for AnimeNEXT. Torgersen continued as convention chair for two years following the vote. Darcelin chose to retire from the convention following the 2015 vote.

Former staff member “A” cited Torgersen’s friendships with fellow board members Gregg Turek, Lindsey Schneider, and Andrew Green for his continued involvement with the con despite the allegations.

“The entire board would validate his behavior or simply look the other way because they enjoyed their position of power and didn’t want to ruin it,” “A” said.

(5) SAY CHEESE. The Huntsville, AL Museum of Art has opened their new exhibit: “A New Moon Rises: Views from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera” featuring large-scale, high-resolution photographs of the lunar surface captured over the last decade by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC).

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of man’s first step on the Moon, see Earth’s only permanent natural satellite like never before. A New Moon Rises is a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian and features amazing, large-scale, high-resolution photographs of the lunar surface taken over the last decade. Captured by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), the images are stunning: from historic Apollo landing sites to towering mountains rising out of the darkness of the lunar poles.

The Moon is not the same place as when astronauts last stepped foot on it. New impact craters are being formed. Volcanic activity, once thought long extinct, may have happened in the recent past. The crust has recently fractured from slow interior cooling and shrinking of the Moon and it may still be shrinking today. The LROC has taken over a million images of the surface and revealed details never before seen. These images are providing answers to long-held questions, and raising new questions about the Moon’s ancient and recent past, as well as its future.

The LROC’s mission was originally conceived to support future human missions to the Moon. After its first 15 months of operation, it began a mission of pure scientific exploration.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.

May 22, 2008 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls set a record for shark leapage.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 22, 1859 Arthur Conan Doyle. I read the Holmes stories a long time ago. My favorite is The Hound of the Baskervilles as it allows him to develop a story at length. Favorite video Holmes? Jeremy Brett.  Looking at ISFDB, I’m see there were more Professor Challenger novels than I realized. And the Brigadier Gerard stories sound suspiciously comical… (Died 1930.)
  • Born May 22, 1901 Ed Earl Repp. His stories appeared in several of the early pulp magazines including Air Wonder Stories, Amazing Stories and Science Wonder Stories. Some were collected in The Radium Pool (just three stories), The Stellar Missiles (another three stories) and Science-Fantasy Quintette (five this time with two by L. Ron Hubbard). He also had one SF novel written in 1941, Rescue from Venus. He turned to writing scripts for Westerns and never wrote any fiction thereafter. (Died 1979.)
  • Born May 22, 1939 Paul Winfield. He’s best remembered as Capt. Terrell in The Wrath of Khan, but he was also in the Next Gen episode “Darmok” as the signature character.  He showed up in Damnation Alley as a character named Keegan and in The Terminator as Lt. Ed Traxler. Oh, and let’s not forget that he was Lucien Celine In The Serpent and the Rainbow which surely is genre. (Died 2004.)
  • Born May 22, 1960 Andrea Thompson, 59. I’ll not mention her memorable scene on Arliss as it’s not genre.  Her noted genre work was as the telepath Talia Winters on Babylon 5. Her first genre role was in Nightmare Weekend which I’ll say was definitely a schlock film. Next up was playing a monster in the short-lived Monsters anthology series. She had an one-off on Quantum Leap before landing the Talia Winters gig. Then came Captain Simian & The Space Monkeys. Really. Truly. Her last genre role to date appears to be in the Heroes: Destiny web series.
  • Born May 22, 1964 Kat Richardson, 55. Her Greywalker series is one of those affairs that I’m pleased to say that I’ve read every novel that was been published. I’ve not read Blood Orbit, the first in her new series, yet. Has anyone here done so?
  • Born May 22, 1968 Karen Lord, 51. She’s a Barbadian writer. Her debut novel, Redemption in Indigo, retells the story “Ansige Karamba the Glutton” from Senegalese folklore; The Best of All Possible Worlds and The Galaxy Game are genre novels as is her edited New Worlds, Old Ways: Speculative Tales from the Caribbean.
  • Born May 22, 1979 Maggie Q, 40. She portrayed Tori Wu in the film adaptation of Veronica Roth’s novel Divergent, a role she reprised in its sequels, Insurgent and Allegiant. She played a female agent in a comedic version of the Jackie Chan fronted Around the World in 80 Days. And she’s in the forthcoming film remake of Fantasy Island. No, I’m not kidding.

(8) GROWING AWARENESS. “13 Reasons Horror Should Put On A Happy Face” is Ace Antonio Hall’s contribution to HWA’s series “Horror & Urban Fantasy Literature’s Effect on Health Awareness” —

…In conclusion, one of my biggest takeaways from researching horror writing for Mental Health Awareness Month was some of the things we shouldn’t do. For example, unless your character is politically incorrect, don’t describe suicide as an “epidemic”, “skyrocketing” or other exaggerated terms. Use words such as “higher rates” or “rising”. Don’t describe suicide as “Without warning” or “inexplicable”. Do convey that the character exhibited warning signs. Don’t refer to suicide as “unsuccessful” or “failed attempt”, or report it as though it was a crime. Do say, “died by suicide” “killed him/herself”, and instead of presenting the act like a crime, write about suicide in your story as a public health issue. Hopefully, as horror authors, we can continue to scare the jeebies out of our readers but at the same time, create a story which accurately exhibits archetypes of mentally ill characters, whether they are mad scientists, psychopathic serial killers or characters with dissociative identity disorders that assume their mother’s personality.

(9) TBR. Andrew Liptak lists “13 new science fiction and fantasy books to check out in late May” at The Verge.

May 15th

Alternis by Maurice Broaddus, Andrea Phillips, Jacqueline Koyanagi, and E.C. Myers

The latest serial from digital publisher Serial Box dropped last week, and it features a great team of writers: Maurice Broaddus, Andrea Phillips, Jacqueline Koyanagi, and E.C. Myers, with Firefly star Summer Glau handling the audiobook narration. In this story, a video game developer learns that the game she’s working on is part of a top-secret government project where countries around the world are competing for real resources.

You can read the first installment for free.

(10) FOLLOW THAT LODESTAR. Bonnie McDaniel has completed her Lodestar YA Award Reviews. Here is her summary. Here are the links to her individual reviews of the finalists:

(11) HUGO NOVELETTES. Standback provides an enthusiastic rundown of the Hugo Best Novelette category: “The Hugo 2019 Best Novelettes are The Best”.

Almost all of these stories are free to read online; and they’re quick and sharp and unusual. If you want the fun and beauty of the Hugos in a nutshell, the Best Novelette category is a damn good place to find it.

(12) HUGO RECOMMENDATIONS WIKI. Standback also announced: “I’m picking up the Hugo Nominee Wiki that Didi Chanoch has been running the last few years — just a simple site for collecting (and keeping track of…) recommendations and notable nominees in the various categories” — Hugo Award Nominees 2020 Wiki

This wiki is a handy place to collect recommendations for 2019 works which are eligible for a Hugo Award in 2020!

If you’re looking for recommendations from last year, the 2019 wiki is right here.

(13) MORE NOVELETTE LOVE. Peter Enyeart’s “2019 Hugo Picks: Novelettes” are also filled with praise.

This is a strong set, perhaps my favorite set of nominees ever. I enjoyed reading all of them, and I’m sad I have to rank any of them lower than #1.

(14) ONE BORN EVERY MINUTE? BBC asks “Would you pay $1m for a laptop full of malware?” (I’m afraid I own one of these already!)

A laptop deliberately infected with six notorious strains of malware, including WannaCry and ILoveYou, is being auctioned in the US as an art project.

At time of writing, the highest bid for the device was $1.1m (£800,000).

…The project is a collaboration between the artist Guo O Dong and a New York cyber-security company called Deep Instinct.

“We came to understand this project as a kind of bestiary, a catalogue of historical threats,” Guo told Vice.

“It’s more exciting to see the beasts in a live environment.”

(15) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. “Female-voice AI reinforces bias, says UN report” – BBC has the story.

AI-powered voice assistants with female voices are perpetuating harmful gender biases, according to a UN study.

These female helpers are portrayed as “obliging and eager to please”, reinforcing the idea that women are “subservient”, it finds.

Particularly worrying, it says, is how they often give “deflecting, lacklustre or apologetic responses” to insults.

The report calls for technology firms to stop making voice assistants female by default.

The study from Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) is entitled, I’d blush if I could, which is borrowed from a response from Siri to being called a sexually provocative term.

“Companies like Apple and Amazon, staffed by overwhelmingly male engineering teams, have built AI systems that cause their feminised digital assistants to greet verbal abuse with catch-me-if-you-can flirtation,” the report says.

(16) SUPERBUGS MR. RICO! NPR tells how “Scientists Modify Viruses With CRISPR To Create New Weapon Against Superbugs”.

…”What CRISPR is able to do is something that we’ve not been able to do before. And that is, very selectively modify genes in the viruses to target the bacteria,” Priebe says.

Later this year, Dr. Michael Priebe and his colleagues plan to start infusing cocktails containing billions of bacteriophages genetically modified with CRISPR into patients at six centers around the United States.

“If we’re successful, this revolutionizes the treatment of infections,” he adds. “This can be the game changer that takes us out of this arms race with the resistant bacteria and allows us to use a totally different mechanism to fight the pathogenic bacteria that are infecting us.”

The approach, developed by Locus Biosciences of Morrisville, N.C., involves viruses known as bacteriophages (called phages for short). Phages are the natural enemies of bacteria. They can infect and destroy bacteria by reproducing in large numbers inside them until the microbes literally explode.

(17) WHY A SKYWALKER HAS TRUE GRIT. It may have something to do with the location shooting — “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, The Ultimate Preview” at Vanity Fair.

There’s a desert valley in southern Jordan called Wadi Rum, or sometimes “the Valley of the Moon.” There are stone inscriptions in Wadi Rum that are more than 2,000 years old. Lawrence of Arabia passed through there during the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire. More recently, J. J. Abrams went there to film parts of the latest Star Wars movie, The Rise of Skywalker, because it’s largely uninhabited and starkly beautiful and looks plausibly alien, and one of the things that has always made the Star Wars movies feel so real—as if they had a real life of their own that continues on out beyond the edges of the screen—is the way they’re shot on location, with as few digital effects as possible. George Lucas shot the Tatooine scenes from A New Hope in southern Tunisia. For Skywalker, it’s Wadi Rum.

They don’t do it that way because it’s easy. Abrams and his crew had to build miles of road into the desert. They basically had to set up a small town out there, populated by the cast and extras and crew—the creature-effects department alone had 70 people. The Jordanian military got involved. The Jordanian royal family got involved. There was sand. There were sandstorms, when all you could do was take cover and huddle in your tent and—if you’re John Boyega, who plays the ex-Stormtrooper Finn—listen to reggae.

(18) RESCUED FROM THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR. Yahoo! Entertainment reveals “Carrie Fisher and Daughter Billie Lourd Will Appear in Scenes Together in New Star Wars Film”.

Fans of Carrie Fisher will be able to see the star live on in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker — with her daughter Billie Lourd right beside her.

Director J.J. Abrams told Vanity Fair he used old footage of Fisher for the upcoming Episode IX and had cut Lourd, 26, out of those scenes with her late mother thinking it would be too painful for the young actress to see.

Instead, Lourd asked him to keep their scenes intact….

[Thanks to Standback, Martin Morse Wooster, Mark Hepworth, Marc Criley, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Errolwi, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Liptak, Andrew Porter, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

What’s In The 2019 Hugo Voter Packet?

By JJ: On May 11, the 2019 Hugo Awards voter packet became available for download by Attending, Supporting, First Worldcon, Young Adult, and Child members of Dublin 2019. The packet is an electronic collection which helps voters become better informed about the works and creators on the ballot. Works which are included have been made available through the generosity of finalists and their publishers.

The voter packet contains complete texts of many Hugo-nominated works, preview versions of some works, and directions for finding some finalists’ works online. Some novels have been made available through NetGalley, which requires a user account for access (registration is free).

The packet is available for download from the Dublin 2019 website in the Membership section by clicking “Vote for the 2019 Hugo Awards”. You must have a valid Membership login link to download the packet. If you have recently joined Dublin 2019, you will be sent a Membership login link shortly after joining. You can request that your Membership login link be re-sent to you by entering the e-mail address you used when you registered with Dublin 2019 on the Membership page. If you do not receive the e-mail, or your Membership login link fails to authenticate, you can e-mail hugohelp@dublin2019 for assistance.

If you haven’t yet downloaded this year’s Hugo Voter Packet and wish to download only selected parts, or if you’re still trying to decide whether to purchase a membership, a breakdown of its contents is presented below.

The Hugo Voter Packet will be available for download until the voting deadline at 11:59 pm Pacific Daylight Time on Wednesday July 31st, 2019 (7.59 am, Irish time, on 1 August 2019). Voters can make as many changes as they wish to their ballot until the deadline. Changes are automatically saved, and a copy of the voter’s current ballot will be emailed to them 30 minutes after they finish modifying it.

As in previous years, WSFS and Dublin 2019 ask that voters honor publishers’ and creators’ request that they reserve these copies for their personal use only, and that they do not share these works with non-members of Dublin 2019.

Only members of Dublin 2019 can access the 2019 Hugo Award Voter packet and vote on the 2019 Hugo Awards. To become a member of Dublin 2019, see the membership page.

If you don’t have access to the Hugo Voter Packet, here is a list of links to read the 2019 Hugo Finalists which are available for free online. Some detailed discussions of the Finalist works can be found on the 2019 Hugo Award Finalists announcement thread, as well as in other posts on File 770.

Dublin 2019 and WSFS are deeply appreciative of the publishers, authors, artists, editors, and other creators who have generously provided their works to this year’s Hugo Voter Packet, and ask that voters who feel the same way consider posting on social media to thank the publishers, editors, and creators who have participated in the packet.

Read more…

Waiting For Online Hugo Voting And The 2019 Voter Packet

By JJ: Enquiring Hugo voter minds want to know: When will we be able to vote online? When will the Hugo Voter Packet be available?

In the fine tradition of similar File 770 posts on the subject in years past, and using my highly-refined statistical skills gained while acquiring my Master’s degree from Cattimothy U*, here is a comparison of the deadlines and availability dates of recent Worldcons.

Because what the hell, we’ve got time to kill. And a year from now, someone is going to ask about this again, the way they do every year.

UPDATE May 11, 2019:
The Hugo Voter Packet and Online Voting are now available.

Notes:

  • In 2008 and 2009, the Hugo Voter Packet was put together by John Scalzi
  • In 2012, the Hugo Voter Packet was released in stages starting on May 18, becoming fully available on May 30
  • With the exception of 2009, 2016, 2017, and 2019, all Finalist Announcements were made on Easter weekend

Timing Observations:

  • Aussiecon 4 in 2010 had online nominations available the earliest, on January 1.
  • Aussiecon 4 and Loncon 3 in 2014 had online nominations available the longest, at 82 days.
  • Chicon 7 in 2012 and Renovation in 2011 were the Worldcons which had online voting up and running the fastest, at 2 and 5 days following the announcement of the Finalists.
  • Chicon 7 had online voting available the longest, at 113 days.
  • Denvention 3 in 2008 and Renovation were the Worldcons which had the Hugo Voter Packet available the most quickly, at 3 and 4 weeks following the Finalist announcement.


1 – days between online nominations becoming available and nomination deadline
2 – days between nomination deadline and finalist announcement
3 – days between finalist announcement and online voting becoming available
4 – days between finalist announcement and Hugo Voter Packet becoming available
5 – days between online voting becoming available and voting deadline
6 – days between voting deadline and the start of Worldcon


While you’re waiting for the Hugo Voter Packet, here’s a list of links to read the 2019 Hugo Finalists which are available for free online.

*The Camestros Felapton University for Beating Statistical Horses Until They Are Thoroughly Dead

Where To Find The 2019 Hugo Award Finalists For Free Online

By JJ: Dublin 2019 has announced the 2019 Hugo Award Finalists. Since the Hugo Voter’s packet has not yet arrived, if you’d like to get a head start on your reading, you can use this handy guide to find material which is available for free online. Where available in their entirety, works are linked (most of the Novelettes and Short Stories are free, as are the Pro and Fan Artist images, and many of the Semiprozines and Fanzines).

If not available for free, an Amazon link is provided. If a free excerpt is available online, it has been linked. Excerpts are web pages, except where otherwise indicated. Overdrive excerpts are usually longer than web excerpts, and are read by clicking the right side of the page or swiping right-to-left to advance pages.

Fair notice: All Amazon links are referrer URLs which benefit fan site Worlds Without End.

2019 HUGO AWARD FINALISTS

Best Novel

Best Novella

Best Novelette

Best Short Story

Best Series

Best Related Work

Best Graphic Story

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • The Expanse: “Abaddon’s Gate” written by Daniel Abraham, Ty Franck and Naren Shankar, directed by Simon Cellan Jones (trailer)
  • Doctor Who: “Demons of the Punjab” written by Vinay Patel, directed by Jamie Childs (trailer)
  • Dirty Computer, written by Janelle Monáe, directed by Andrew Donoho and Chuck Lightning (full video on YouTube & Vimeo)
  • The Good Place: “Janet(s)” written by Josh Siegal & Dylan Morgan, directed by Morgan Sackett (trailer)
  • The Good Place: “Jeremy Bearimy” written by Megan Amram, directed by Trent O’Donnell (trailer)
  • Doctor Who: “Rosa” written by Malorie Blackman and Chris Chibnall, directed by Mark Tonderai (trailer)

Best Professional Editor, Short Form

Best Professional Editor, Long Form

Best Professional Artist

Best Semiprozine

  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies, editor-in-chief and publisher Scott H. Andrews
  • Fireside Magazine, edited by Julia Rios, managing editor Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, social coordinator Meg Frank, special features editor Tanya DePass, founding editor Brian White, publisher and art director Pablo Defendini
  • FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction, executive editors Troy L. Wiggins and DaVaun Sanders, editors L.D. Lewis, Brandon O’Brien, Kaleb Russell, Danny Lore, and Brent Lambert
  • Shimmer, publisher Beth Wodzinski, senior editor E. Catherine Tobler
  • Strange Horizons, edited by Jane Crowley, Kate Dollarhyde, Vanessa Rose Phin, Vajra Chandrasekera, Romie Stott, Maureen Kincaid Speller, and the Strange Horizons Staff
  • Uncanny Magazine, publishers/editors-in-chief Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas, managing editor Michi Trota, podcast producers Erika Ensign and Steven Schapansky, Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction Special Issue editors-in-chief Elsa Sjunneson-Henry and Dominik Parisien

Best Fanzine

Best Fancast

Best Fan Writer

Best Fan Artist

Best Art Book

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book

RELATED: What’s In The 2019 Hugo Voter Packet?

Alasdair Stuart Talks About Escape Artists

By Alasdair Stuart: Hello, I’m Alasdair Stuart and I own Escape Artists. We’ve been active for 14 years, we produce 4 weekly podcasts, have an archive of over 2,000 episodes covering science fiction, fantasy, horror and YA and we don’t charge for a single one of them.

I love my job. And this year, it involves being a part of Hugo history. Escape Pod is our science fiction show and it’s a Best Semiprozine finalist this year. That’s amazing. What’s more amazing is that it’s the first ever audio-first magazine to reach that level. For years, the category was dominated by print magazines. Then it was opened up to digital possibilities and the digital magazines spent a few years making their way into the running. Now you can draw a line with two distinct points on it showing the massive progress not just the field, but the awareness of it outside the legacy print magazines, has made. Print. Print and digital. Now, print, digital and audio in a glorious melange. The entire field this year is amazing and in no small part due to the massive variety in style, format, tone and approach between the finalists. Variety really is the spice of life for this industry and an award like this and remember, whoever controls the spice, controls the universe.

That’s why I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved in 2017, and also where it’s got us.

Take a look at the Escape Pod Hugo Voter Packet. Five episodes, a cross-section of 2017 that covers every editor, every host, reprints and originals as well as an entry from our yearly Artemis Rising project. There’s a sample of every major voice on the show there and it was consciously designed to be that way. We didn’t want to bury voters under hundreds of pages of material so, instead, went for some of our finest hours. Or, more commonly, our finest 35 minutes at a time. We work hard to ensure our stories fit inside a commute so you’ve always got something good to listen to.

Those stories were picked by our heroic slushers, polished and finalized by Norm Sherman (Now doing great work over at the revitalized Drabblecast), S.B. Divya and Mur Lafferty along with Benjamin C. Kinney. Then narrators and hosts, including Mur, Divya, Tina Connolly and myself were assigned, audio producers like Adam Pracht worked their magic and the episode was ready to go.

It takes a village to make a podcast. And that village works 52 weeks of the year to make sure it gets done. And I’ve never been prouder of the people I work with than I am right now. Especially as our fantasy show PodCastle just became the first podcast to be shortlisted for a World Fantasy Award and PseudoPod, our horror show, is a finalist in the BFS’ inaugural Best Audio award.

So if you’re a listener, thank you. If you’re a new listener, welcome aboard. We hope you enjoy the shows and where they’re going. Because after this year, we certainly do.

Pixel Scroll 7/28/18 Error 770 Pixel Not Scrolled

(1) HUGO VOTING CLOSES JULY 31. Worldcon 76 sent members a reminder earlier in the week:

Voting for both will end on Tuesday, July 31, 2018 at 11:59 PM PDT.  Online voting forms and Voter Packet downloads for both sets of awards are located on the Worldcon 76 website. The 2018 ballot can be found at https://www.worldcon76.org/hugo/vote.php and the 1943 ballot can be found at https://www.worldcon76.org/hugo/retro_vote.php.

(2) SHAKEN, NOT BEAMED UP. This is not my father’s Popular Mechanics, full of fannish esoterica like “Ten Forward Vodka Is What Riker Puts in His Martini”.

The next time you want to grab a vesper martini with a Vulcan or pour yourself a holodeck Harvey Wallbanger, reach for a bottle of Ten Forward. That’s right: There is now an officially licensed Star Trek: The Next Generation vodka made by Silver Screen Bottling Company and named for Guinan’s bar on the USS Enterprise-D.

The best thing about this novelty booze is clearly the bottle. Its type and graphics are an homage to the LCARS computer system seen on all the terminals and pads used throughout the show.

(3) AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH. BBC does a word study: “Tsundoku: The art of buying books and never reading them”.

Do you have a habit of picking up books that you never quite get around to reading?

If this sounds like you, you might be unwittingly engaging in tsundoku – a Japanese term used to describe a person who owns a lot of unread literature….

The word “doku” can be used as a verb to mean “reading”. According to Prof Gerstle, the “tsun” in “tsundoku” originates in “tsumu” – a word meaning “to pile up”.

So when put together, “tsundoku” has the meaning of buying reading material and piling it up.

“The phrase ‘tsundoku sensei’ appears in text from 1879 according to the writer Mori Senzo,” Prof Gerstle explained. “Which is likely to be satirical, about a teacher who has lots of books but doesn’t read them.”

While this might sound like tsundoku is being used as an insult, Prof Gerstle said the word does not carry any stigma in Japan.

(4) AMAZON’S AMBITIOUS GENRE TV PLANS. SYFY Wire has published a story (“Star Trek 4 Writers to Helm Lord of the Rings TV Series and More from Amazon Studios”) with a variety of news from Amazon about upcoming genre shows. The headline news is that “writers JD Payne and Patrick McKay [who wrote the upcoming 4th Star Trek movie] will oversee the Lord of the Rings TV series” which is expected to air no sooner than 2020. The series will be set in a time prior to the events of the LorR books (and movies) but little other details has been annoiunced by the studio. Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke has said “It’s a vast world and so many ways to go with that property. We brought in so many people with abundant enthusiasm for the property. They will move us into the the next stage as they build out this world.”

The SYFY Wire story also brings news of other genre series from Amazon:

  • THEM: Covenant[…] is: ‘Set in 1953, Alfred and Lucky Emory decide to move their family from North Carolina to an all-white Los Angeles neighborhood. The family’s home on a tree lined, seemingly idyllic street becomes ground zero where malevolent forces both real and supernatural threaten to taunt, ravage and destroy them.’”
  • Half-hour comedy Upload“will revolve around the ability of humans to upload themselves to a selected afterlife” and is said to be “a sci-fi romcom [that] will star Robbie Amell [and] Andy Allo.”
  • Cryptically, “Avengers: Infinity Wardirectors Joe and Anthony Russo are developing ‘a radical global storytelling disruption’ that will be ‘a large-scope, multi-layered international event series’ [and an] ‘origin mothership series will function as a fire-starter to ignite the creation of multiple original local language and local production series. All of the local series are meant to enhance the entire entertainment experience and will be available for the viewer to deep dive into an imagined layered world.’”

(Can anyone parse that last one and tell me what that last sentence really means?)

(5) THIRTY YEARS OF THE SIMPSONS?! Mike Riess, veteran of The Simpsons, has written a book about the series: Springfield Confidential.

Four-time Emmy winner Mike Reiss—who has worked on The Simpsons continuously since episode one in 1989—shares stories, scandals, and gossip about working with America’s most iconic cartoon family ever. Reiss explains how the episodes are created, and provides an inside look at the show’s writers, animators, actors and celebrity guests. He answers a range of questions from Simpsons fans and die-hards, and reminisces about the making of perennially favorite episodes.

In his freewheeling, irreverent comic style, Reiss reflects on his lifetime inside The Simpsons—a personal highlights reel of his achievements, observations, and favorite stories. Springfield Confidential exposes why Matt Groening decided to make all of the characters yellow; dishes on what it’s like to be crammed in a room full of funny writers sixty hours a week; and tells what Reiss learned after traveling to seventy-one countries where The Simpsons is watched (ironic note: there’s no electricity in many of these places); and even reveals where Springfield is located! He features unique interviews with Judd Apatow, who also provided the foreword, and Conan O’Brien, as well as with Simpsons legends Al Jean, Nancy Cartwright, Dan Castellaneta, and more…

(6) REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY. Adweek points out a reference-filled video: “Buckle Up. This Short Film From a Financial Tech Startup Is Part Black Mirror, Part ‘They Live’”.

Bank ads love to talk about your dreams. A bucolic retirement, an Ivy League education for your kids, that five-bedroom home with the “Sold” sign in the yard.

But a new long-form ad—or branded short film, more accurately—from Canadian financial tech startup Koho positions banks not as the enablers of your best life but rather as harvesters of dreams, brutally siphoning customers of both their money and their aspirations.

It’s not a pretty picture.

Dystopian, bleak and visceral, “Dream Thieves” accomplishes exactly what Koho set out to do with its first major marketing push. Led by Jason Chaney, Koho’s chief creative officer, the video was directed by French music video visionary Fleur Fortuné and produced by acclaimed Canadian agency Cossette, where Chaney previously served as chief strategist.

Sci-fi aficionados will notice no small number of references, some subtle and others overt, to previous movies, shows and even ads. While the overall tone may remind modern TV viewers of the Netflix anthology Black Mirror, Chaney says his team has counted roughly 30 references in “Dream Thieves,” including callbacks to A Clockwork Orange, Poltergeist and Apple’s iconic ad “1984.”

 

(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.

When you complain about slow internet service, remember this:

The first transcontinental phone call was held between the device’s inventor, Alexander Graham Bell, and his former assistant Thomas Watson in 1915. Bell called from Dey Street in New York City to Grant Avenue in San Francisco. It took five telephone operators 23 minutes to manually connect the call. (Source: Wikipedia)

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 28, 1956 The Cyclops had its theatrical release
  • July 28, 1995Waterworld premiered

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

  • Born July 28 – Georgia Engel, 70. First genre appearance on the first Fantasy Island series followed by lots voice work in such productions as The Special Magic of Herself the Elf, Dr. Doolittle 2,  and the Hercules series.
  • Born July 28 – Lori Loughlin, 54. First genre work was in The Tom Swift and Linda Craig Mystery Hour series, also the Amityville 3-D film, the animated Justice League Unlimited series, likewise the animated Casper: A Spirited Beginning film.
  • Born July 28 – Elizabeth Berkley, 46. Yes she’s done some genre work including The Twilight Zone, Perversions of Science which appears to be akin to the Tales from The Crypt series, the animated Armitage III: Polymatrix series, and the Threshold series which pops up regularly in these birthday notes.
  • Born July 28 – Tom Pelphrey, 36. Regular role in the Iron Fist series and not much else for genre work other than appearing in Ghost Whisperer.
  • Born July 28 – Dustin Milligan, 33. Regular role in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency series; other genre roles were on Andromeda (which I’ve not seen — worth seeing?), in the Final Destination 3 film, The Dead Zone, Supernatural, and a bit of probably horrible horror called Demonic.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) RELOADED.  Lou Antonelli’s Hugo nominee “Replacement Pins” have arrived. Photo at the post.

(12) A THOUSAND TIMES, NEIGH. The Verge shows why “The future of search-and-rescue robots might be centaur, not human”. The embedded video has the bot doing what looks for all the world like a tai chi routine for the first several seconds of the ~3 min video.

Centauro is the latest experiment by scientists to find the most adaptable and useful body-shape for robots designed to help in disasters. Usually, these machines are built like humans, with two arms and two legs, but researchers are increasingly finding that hybrid designs offer more flexibility. With its four wheeled legs, Centauro is more stable than a humanoid bot, but still retains the two forward-facing arms needed for manipulating objects like tools and doors. (Or, as in the video below, karate-chopping some plywood for fun.)

(13) WHEN THE SEA IS BOILING HOT. NPR explains how “Hot Weather Spells Trouble For Nuclear Power Plants”.

Air temperatures have stubbornly lingered above 90 degrees in many parts of Sweden, Finland and Germany, and water temperatures are abnormally high — 75 degrees or higher in the usually temperate Baltic Sea.

That’s bad news for nuclear power plants, which rely on seawater to cool reactors.

Finland’s Loviisa power plant, located about 65 miles outside Helsinki, first slightly reduced its output on Wednesday. “The situation does not endanger people, [the] environment or the power plant,” its operator, the energy company Fortum, wrote in a statement.

The seawater has not cooled since then, and the plant continued to reduce its output on both Thursday and Friday, confirmed the plant’s chief of operations, Timo Eurasto. “The weather forecast [means] it can continue at least a week. But hopefully not that long,” he said.

(14) NO SINGULAR SENSATION. Forbes says the public needs to catch up, that model is decades out of date: “There Was No Big Bang Singularity”.

…There is a theorem, famous among cosmologists, showing that an inflationary state is past-timelike-incomplete. What this means, explicitly, is that if you have any particles that exist in an inflating Universe, they will eventually meet if you extrapolate back in time. This doesn’t, however, mean that there must have been a singularity, but rather that inflation doesn’t describe everything that occurred in the history of the Universe, like its birth. We also know, for example, that inflation cannot arise from a singular state, because an inflating region must always begin from a finite size.

Every time you see a diagram, an article, or a story talking about the “big bang singularity” or any sort of big bang/singularity existing before inflation, know that you’re dealing with an outdated method of thinking. The idea of a Big Bang singularity went out the window as soon as we realized we had a different state — that of cosmic inflation — preceding and setting up the early, hot-and-dense state of the Big Bang. There may have been a singularity at the very beginning of space and time, with inflation arising after that, but there’s no guarantee. In science, there are the things we can test, measure, predict, and confirm or refute, like an inflationary state giving rise to a hot Big Bang. Everything else? It’s nothing more than speculation.

(15) BITE ME. Here’s some more bad science you’ll be less surprised to hear about. The Washington Post’s Emily Yahr notes that Discovery broadcast Megalodon:  Fact vs. Fiction last night, even though there is no evidence that hungry prehistoric sharks are in the ocean: “A fake Shark Week documentary about megalodons caused controversy. Why is Discovery bringing it up again?”

At the beginning of this special, a narrator explains the dust-up. Unflattering headlines from news articles at the time (“Discovery kicks off Shark Week with dishonest documentary”) and angry tweets fly across the screen. The special keeps a tongue-in-cheek tone; at one point, shark conservationist Julie Andersen acknowledges the scenes of Shark Alley, a real-life area off the South African coast, was pretty accurate in the fake film.

“But let me repeat myself: There are no megalodons!” she adds.

“We get it, smarty-pants. No megalodons roam the modern seas,” the voice-over narrator shoots back. “But when they did, the oceans were like a Darwinian Thunderdome, survived only by the fittest and biggest.”

(16) HOLD FAST. Beth Elderkin at Gizmodo’s io9 takes a look at Star Wars weapons and the characters who love them (“A Shockingly In-Depth Examination of How Star Wars Characters Hold Their Weapons”). Though, one might quibble about just how shockingly in-depth it is. Blasters, light sabers, stunners, and even capes are considered. Poses and grips are dissected. As the author puts it, “We’re here to not only explore but celebrate the art of looking cool while holding a toy gun or fluorescent lightbulb on a stick.”

(17) BY GEORGE! Item 5 in yesterday’s Scroll set Camestros Felapton’s muse to weavnig a copacetic comma filk:

[With apologies to Culture Club]

Words running altogether every day
To make sense they need something in their way

[Pre-Chorus]
I’m a sign without conviction
I’m a tiny mark that doesn’t know
How to work as punctuation
I come and go and come and go

[Chorus]
Comma comma comma comma comma chameleon
I come and go and come and go
Usage would be easy if you used me when you pause
Or to break a clause, to break a clause

[Bridge]
An em-dash is not my rival
I’m a punctual revival
It is not a matter of survival
Style guides are not my bible

[Chorus]
Comma comma comma comma comma chameleon
I pause and go and pause and go
Commas would be easy if you used them sparingly
Or not at all or not at all

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