Pixel Scroll 3/16/16 Teenaged Mutant Radioactive Shapeshifting Cheesy Ninja Hedgehogs

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(1) PRINCESS ON CAMPAIGN. A set of election posters help publicize a new Star Wars novel — “Leia’s Past Haunts Her In new Star Wars: Bloodline Poster”, at IGN.

Set in-between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, the upcoming novel Star Wars: Bloodline focuses on Leia Organa, and the shifting role she finds herself playing after the Rebel Alliance’s victory and key moments that will define who she is in Episode VII.

IGN has the exclusive debut of four posters for the novel, which will be given to fans at C2E2 and other upcoming conventions.

The posters are all variations on one another – starting with an in-universe campaign image of Leia and then showing how it has been defaced in different ways by some who seem none too happy with the Princess from Alderaan.

(2) DARTH BY THE HEARTH. Meanwhile, Dad’s lifestyle is no longer as glamorous: “This Ukranian man lives his life as Darth Vader – and the photos are incredible”

While many people would consider themselves serious “Star Wars” fans, one Ukrainian man is taking things to the next level.

Darth Mykolaiovych Vader legally changed his name in homage to the classic “Star Wars” villain. He spends his days dressed in a Vader costume, complete with black cloak, gloves, and of course, the iconic face mask.

Reuters caught up with Vader to see what life is like as one of the world’s most famous movie villains. Turns out, even mundane tasks, like showering and dog walking, look a lot cooler when the Sith Lord does them.

(3) CARNEGIE AND GREENAWAY SHORTLISTS. The shortlists for the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals have been announced.

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

Locus Online identified these titles on the shortlists as being of sf/f interest.

Carnegie Medal

  • The Lie Tree, Frances Hardinge (Macmillan)
  • The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Patrick Ness (Walker)
  • Five Children on the Western Front, Kate Saunders (Faber)
  • The Ghosts of Heaven, Marcus Sedgwick (Indigo)

Greenaway Medal

  • The Sleeper and the Spindle, Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell (Bloomsbury)

The winners will be announced June 20.

(4) A MONTH OF MARCH. C. Stuart Hardwick thinks a writing career is a marathon. He means it literally. See “Stay Fit” at The Fictorians.

What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how infirm! In action how like a potato!

…American’s should ditch the office chair and switch to a treadmill desk they said. We could loose a few pounds a week just by walking instead of sitting, and address all the other health impacts at the same time. We are not evolved to sit around, nor to stand around, but to hike.

So okay, I decided to give it a try. Treadmill desks are stupid expensive, though, so I made my own. I put a laptop and $10 worth of wire shelving on a $600 Horizon T101 treadmill. I learned to touch type while walking at 2.2 MPH on an incline—just enough to barely crack a sweat. I started loosing weight.

After two months, I was so impressed, I decided to splurge on an upgrade.

I bought a dedicated workstation and bolted it to the treadmill with a monitor arm and a theatrical clamp (I blogged about it here: https://cstuarthardwick.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/upgraded-treadmill-desk-2/). My weight kept falling. In addition to the treadmill, I also started spending time on the exercycle as well, and I used MyFitnessPal to track my net calories. In six months, I lost 45 pounds.

(5) WU ON SYFY SERIES. Brianna Wu appears in a new episode of The Internet Ruined My Life.

200 death threats later, online harassment is a new kind of normal for game developer Brianna Wu. But she refuses to let it silence her.

Wu is one of the subjects in the latest episode of the new Syfy Network series, “The Internet Ruined My Life.”

Wu is the cofounder and CEO of a gaming studio, Giant Spacekat, which make games that empower women, not objectify them.

(6) NOW WE KNOW. Pat Cadigan gives an assist to Philip K. Dick.

(7) IRISH SF. The Dublin 2019 Worldcon Bid has been given permission by author Jack Fennell to publish his bibliography of Irish Science Fiction, which describes hundreds Irish Science Fiction stories and books published from the 1850s to the present day. Download A Short Guide to Irish Science Fiction [PDF file].

Jack Fennel has also written a book, Irish Science Fiction.

When I started my doctoral research into Irish SF, I thought that I had picked a nice handy topic: there couldn’t be that many Irish SF novels and short stories out there, and whatever amount there was must be very recent. Over the course of the next four years, I was proven wrong over and over again. There were hundreds of texts out there, so many that I had to abandon my plans to write a comprehensive overview. What struck me as particularly bizarre, though, was the difficulty I had in finding this stuff when there was such an abundance of it. The reasons became apparent as I continued digging.

Firstly, it was just an accepted truism that Ireland was not science-fictional. The phrase ‘Irish science fiction’ would, at best, bring forth memories of irascible Irish engineer Miles O’Brien from the Star Trek franchise (to date, the only character to shout “Bollocks!” on a Star Trek episode); at worst, it would trigger traumatic flashbacks to Leprechaun 4: In Space. The idea of Irish SF in itself was somewhat ridiculous, and more often than not played for laughs. There was a general perception, among the ‘uninitiated’ anyway, that the Irish just didn’t bother imagining such things.

(8) UNMADE INDIANAS. Simon Brew at Den of Geek knows all about “The Indiana Jones Films That Never Were”.

Indiana Jones and the Saucermen from Mars

Following the success of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, George Lucas would develop an idea or two that could have seen a fourth Indy adventure in cinemas in the 1990s. One that got quite far into the writing process was Indiana Jones and the Saucermen from Mars, an idea that Lucas started working on in 1993. He originally hired Jeb Stuart to write the script for him before passing on the mantle to the late Jeffrey Boam (who had co-written The Last Crusade.)

In this one, Indy very nearly gets married at the start to a linguist by the name of Dr. Elaine McGregor. Amongst the guests at the wedding would have been Marion, Willie, Sallah, and his father, but instead of walking down the aisle, McGregor hops into a car on the big day and disappears. The search is thus on to find her.

Turns out she’s working on the discovery of alien bodies and a strange stone cylinder. Indy and McGregor crack the code on said cylinder, which turns out to be coordinates leading them to a mountain. Russian spies want in though, and as Indy tries to rescue Elaine from one of their planes, a flying saucer appears. A further alien encounter sees a truck being lifted off the ground. Meanwhile, a mysterious countdown clock ticks away, with the assumption being that it’s a bomb.

(9) EXCUSE FOR A PUNNY HEADLINE. Sometimes they have storms in Ireland, you may have heard. “Storm ‘troopers’ to inspect Star Wars site after winter weather causes safety concerns” reports the BBC.

An Irish island used as location in the latest Star Wars film is to undergo safety inspections after it felt the full force of winter storms.

Skellig Michael, off County Kerry coast, is a Unesco World Heritage Site that has played host to 8th Century monks and 21st Century film crews.

Parts of Star Wars Episode VII were filmed on the rocky landmass in 2014.

(10) STRING THEORY. Alastair Reynolds salutes Supermarionation in “Hey Joe” at Approaching Pavonis Mons by balloon.

After a military coup, a dictator misappropriates global aid funds to develop drone warfare technology to use against his own citizens. A stricken submarine ends up in the territorial waters of a Central American failed state, threatening to derail international peace talks. In a Middle Eastern Sultanate, a political assassination leads to a constitutional crisis, imperilling the progressive, democratic policies of the rightful successor to the throne. In the Arctic, a nuclear accident heightens an already tense East-West standoff…

Failed states. Democracies. Autonomous weapons. Middle East crises. Rising nuclear tension. The East and West at each other’s throats …

Sound familiar?

This is the world of 2013 – or rather the world of 2013 as envisaged in 1968, when Gerry Anderson began making Joe 90, the last of his series to be based exclusively around Supermarionation.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

(12) THE FIRST TRUMP. Jeb Kinnison’s piece “Trump World: Looking Backward” is recommended as having a Canticle for Leibowitz illustratrion and flavor.

The Internet seemed to end the constraints on opinion, but a new sound of silence appeared when its two-way nature allowed crowds to join together to silence expression of ideas they found threatening. People lost their jobs because of one errant tweet, and politicians found it useful to stoke the flames of envy and resentment to gain votes. A new victim cult appeared, seeing racism and sexism in every element of US life, and command of the cult’s lexicon enabled entry to academic and government positions.

The left-behind grew angry, and simmered in disability payments and painkilling drugs while they saw their children discriminated against by the gateway institutions built by their forebears. They had supported the growth of the Federal government through costly wars and the building of a social safety net, only to be left out and denigrated by their ruling class. Federal agencies were taken over by progressives and affirmative-action hires, and wasted time and resources shuffling reports and holding grand meetings to write about working toward solving problems that barely existed while neglecting their core functions. The levels of incompetence tolerated grew and grew, until civil service employees could hold their jobs after being absent for years or being discovered spending most of their time viewing Internet porn. Major new government programs and projects failed and billions of dollars were wasted without consequence, those responsible for the failures being promoted to further damage the private economy by ruling from Washington.

And all that’s before Trump even appears.

(13) NUSSBAUM’S BALLOT. Abigail Nussbaum’s entry “The 2016 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Short Fiction Categories” makes compelling reading for her honest admission that – like who knows how many Hugo voters – she’s allergic to paying for short fiction.

Before we get started, a few comments on methodology, and observations on the state of the field.  Almost all of these stories were published in magazines that are freely available online, largely because that makes them easier to access whenever I have some free reading time.  As I did last year, I ended up skipping the print magazines completely, as well as most of the for-pay online magazines.  The one exception is the novella category, where the e-book boom continues to be extremely rewarding for both authors and readers, creating a new market for slimmer volumes and more contained stories that you can enjoy for just a few dollars apiece.

She also read the free fiction on Tor.com despite some misgivings – it was, after all, free.

Second, I should say that I debated for a long time over reading stories published on Tor.com, or in the publisher’s new novella line.  The behavior last year of Tor editor Tom Doherty, in which he all but aligned himself with the Rabid Puppies and their leader Vox Day, was to me completely beyond the pale, and the fact that Doherty has not retracted or apologized for his words is a black stain on the entire company he runs….

(14) I’M SHOCKED. Via “Barbershops, Bookshops, Histories and Bad Math” by Jared at Pornokitsch, this link to the Observer post “Amazon Best-Selling Author” is a crock of shit”.

Last week, I put up a fake book on Amazon. I took a photo of my foot, uploaded to Amazon, and in a matter of hours, had achieved  “No. 1 Best Seller” status, complete with the orange banner and everything.

(15) PHOTO TOUR OF LEGO HOGWARTS. From Popsugar, “A Supermom Created This 400,000-Piece Hogwarts Castle Out of LEGOs, and We Are Speechless”.

Finch’s absolutely epic 400,000 piece structure puts every single LEGO creation ever built — my tiny, school-bound Potter most of all — to shame.

The mother of two built a LEGO Hogwarts castle so full of detail, only a true fan could have lovingly pieced it together with such success. “I did quite a bit of research in the books and movies looking for the smallest of details, things like the old-fashioned slide projector in Lupin’s Defense Against the Dark Arts class, the location of the potions class, and the wood paneling in the charms classroom,” she told LEGO blog The Brother’s Brick.

(16) BITE ME. “’You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat’: ‘Jaws’ Writer Reveals Origins of Movie’s Famous Line” in The Hollywood Reporter.

The infamous line from Jaws, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat,” which landed at No. 3 on Hollywood’s Top 100 Movie Quotes, came about during those rewrites.

“It was an overlap of a real-life problem combined with the dilemma of the characters onscreen,” [Carl] Gottlieb says of the origins of the line. The real-life problem being a barge (named by the cast and crew S.S. Garage Sale), which carried all the lights and camera equipment and craft services, was steadied by a small support boat that was too tiny to manage the job.

Gottlieb recalls: “[Richard] Zanuck and [David] Brown were very stingy producers, so everyone kept telling them, ‘You’re gonna need a bigger boat.’ It became a catchphrase for anytime anything went wrong — if lunch was late or the swells were rocking the camera, someone would say, ‘You’re gonna need a bigger boat.'”

Roy Scheider, who played Brody in the movie, ad-libbed the line at different points in his performance throughout filming. But the one reading that made it in to the final cut of the movie was after the suspenseful first look at the great white shark. Says Gottlieb, “It was so appropriate and so real and it came at the right moment, thanks to Verna Field’s editing.”

Gottlieb has heard the line pop up in a lot of strange places, but he says the most memorable time it was quoted back to him was in a casino: “I was playing poker and thought I had a winning hand, ’cause I had a full house, which is referred to as a ‘full boat,’ and the guy across the table from me said, ‘You’re gonna need a bigger boat,’ and he put down a larger full house.”

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

Pixel Scroll 3/15/16 At The Age of 37, She Realized She’d Never Scroll Through Paris With The Warm Pixels In Her Hair

(1) THE MAN WHO WOULD BE WHO. An actor who’s already accumulated a lot of experience traveling in time one day in front of the next has his eye on the prize. Metro News says “Brian Blessed wants to be the next Doctor Who after Peter Capaldi”

The actor, who is fast approaching the ripe old age of 80, has been speaking to Calibre magazine about his desire to be the next Time Lord after Peter Capaldi; he said:

‘I would love to play the Doctor, absolutely!’

Doctor Who fans may remember Blessed as King Ycarnos in 1986’s The Trial Of A Time Lord, where his character went on to marry the Sixth Doctor’s companion, Peri.

If Blessed were to become the next Doctor, he would be the oldest actor to do so, with some twenty years on current TARDIS pilot Capaldi.

(2) BEANS IN SPACE. Whereas the poster for the Australian competition referenced Mad Max: Fury Road, the “2016 Hungarian Aeropress Championship” post goes with a Star Wars icon.

Hungarian aeropress championship COMP

Fast circulating rumours, perhaps with the assistance of a HyperDrive, are suggesting the coffee has been sourced by coffee’s home planet of Alderaan. Unfortunately these rumours have been denied by Ewoks on the forrest moon of Endor who have hand-picked all the rainforest alliance coffee. The variety of the coffee is mostly heirloom, sometimes also know as Degu(bah) and is famous for having very high midi-chorian levels, but low caffeine.  The coffee was fermented and de-pulped in the now re-purposed garbage disposal units on the detention level of the Death Star. That’s enough lame Star Wars references for now i think…

(3) HPL ON THE AUCTION BLOCK. FineBooks & Collections reports “Found: Lovecraft-Houdini Manuscript”.

Whispered about by hopeful collectors and scholars for decades, the manuscript of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Cancer of Superstition, commisssioned and co-written by magician Harry Houdini, has finally come to light. It was rather incredibly “discovered by a private collector among the records of a now-defunct magic shop,” according to Chicago’s Potter & Potter Auctions, which will auction the 31-page typewritten story on April 9.

A brief description of the manuscript is provided in the Potter & Potter auction catalog available for download here [PDF file]. The bidding will open at lucky $13,000….

(4) OCTAVIA BUTLER. From Southern California Public Radio, “The life and legacy of Octavia Butler – and 5 stories you should read”.

It’s been a decade since science fiction writer Octavia Butler passed away.

The California native fell in love with storytelling as a kid at the Pasadena Library, and later grew up to be the only sci-fi writer to receive a MacArthur Genius Fellowship. She was also the first African American woman in the genre to achieve international fame.

According to her friend and fellow writer Steven Barnes, Butler anticipated the challenges of presenting black characters in her stories.

“In her early novels, they would put green people or aliens on the covers of her books,” Barnes said.

“Or blond, white women,” added Tananarive Due, also a friend of Butler’s.

As a teacher and another African American female author, Due knows firsthand how influential Butler’s work is.

“I wish I had discovered Octavia’s work when I was a learning writer,” Due said. “When I wrote my first novel, I had no idea whether or not there would be an audience for speculative fiction — speculative fiction being science fiction, fantasy or horror novel — with black characters, you know, not necessarily intended for black readers.”

(5) JONESING. Everyone who’s still alive in 2019 can see if the iconic star of the Indiana Jones movies can claim the same. The Walt Disney Company announces, “Spielberg and Ford Reunite as Indiana Jones Returns to Theaters July 19, 2019”.

Indiana Jones will return to the big screen on July 19, 2019, for a fifth epic adventure in the blockbuster series. Steven Spielberg, who directed all four previous films, will helm the as-yet-untitled project with star Harrison Ford reprising his iconic role. Franchise veterans Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall will produce.

“Indiana Jones is one of the greatest heroes in cinematic history, and we can’t wait to bring him back to the screen in 2019,” said Alan Horn, Chairman, The Walt Disney Studios. “It’s rare to have such a perfect combination of director, producers, actor and role, and we couldn’t be more excited to embark on this adventure with Harrison and Steven.”

(6) GAVEL RAPPER. Kevin Standlee says a Business Meeting chair has “No Magic Bullets”. Nor any other kind, to be sure.

A couple of days ago, I got into a conversation on billroper‘s LJ about the “Heckler’s Veto” and that led to me thinking about something that had worried me about running the WSFS Business Meeting. After all, the entire meeting process, and parliamentary procedure itself, assumes that the people gathering actually are willing to play by the rules. If a significant number of the people showing up won’t play by the rules, the meeting will dissolve. It would be like a bunch of football players deciding during a match that they don’t like the rule book and that they can ignore the officials and do anything they want. There’s not a lot the officials can do in that case, other than leave.

I did give a lot of thought to this approaching the 2015 WSFS Business Meeting, what with doomsday scenarios of thousands of people overrunning the meeting and refusing to obey any rules and shouting down anything they didn’t like and generally causing chaos. I concluded that a meeting whose members refuse to follow their own rules is not a meeting, but a mob, and I’m not chairing a mob. Had such a thing happened, I would have ordered the meeting adjourned “at the call of the chair” and turned to the convention for help. The convention would then in turn have had to ask the convention security to clear the area, and potentially even call the police if non-members (including any people who had their memberships revoked) refused to leave on their own accord.

(7) TO HAL WITH IT. 2001 A Space Odyssey: A Look Behind the Future is a 1960s promotional film. The 10-minute color documentary includes production of props, revolving spaceship set, etc.

(8) CURRENT EVENTS. A much more recent sf film will also be the subject of a documentary: Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey.  It will be a bonus on the movie’s Blu-Ray disc, to be released April 5.

(9) GROWING UP AI. At The Way Finder, Hugh C. Howey says he has observed “The Birth of Artificial Intelligence”.

…This was not the week, however, that AI was born. This was the week that I realized that AI was born quite some time ago…..

It’s in the early years of human development where I think we can see the current state of AI being somewhere post-birth and yet pre-awareness. But the development of strong AI will have incredible advantages over the human acquisition of general intelligence. This arise from the modular nature of intelligence.

Our brains are not one big thinking engine; they are collections of hundreds of individual engines, each of which develop at different rates. What’s amazing about AI is that the learning does not need to be done twice for every module. When we build a chess-playing module, and a Go-playing module, and a Jeopardy-playing module, all of these can be “plugged in” to our general AI. Our baby girl is growing every day, and thousands of people are pouring billions of dollars of research into her education. We, the general public, are contributing with petabytes of data. It is already happening, and we won’t even recognize when our first daughter graduates into strong AI. Every day will be — as parents know — one small miracle added to the last, a succession of amazing little first steps that result in them going off to college and being their own person.

Each headline you read is us — as collective parents — gasping to our spouse at what our baby girl just did for the first time.

Google has already taught our daughter to drive a car. Amazon is doing amazing things with their Alexa device, creating the beginnings of the virtual assistant seen in Her. IBM is building the best medical mind the field has ever known. In the last five years, AI has taken strides that even the optimistic find startling. The next five years will see similar advances. And this progress will only accelerate, because we’re operating in the realm of Moore’s Law. We are building the tools that help us build faster tools, which help us build faster tools.

(10) IRENE LARSEN OBIT. Magic Castle co-founder Irene Larsen died February 25 reports Variety.

Irene Larsen, co-founder of the Academy of Magical Arts and the private clubhouse the Magic Castle, died unexpectedly on Thursday morning at her Los Angeles home. She was 79.

After she assisted her late husband William “Bill” Larsen Jr. in his various magic acts for years, the two launched the Magic Castle together in 1963. Larsen’s dedication to the role of ambassador of magic helped elevate the AMA to an internationally renowned and respected organization within the art’s community.

(11) WRITING WHILE WAITING FOR THE EMERGENCY. Amanda S. Green’s “Putting things into perspective” at Mad Genius Club demonstrates how a professional writer honors her real-life priorities — a friend’s health and her writing commitments .

…One of my oldest and dearest friends is facing a challenge the vast majority of us will only ever read about. She is going to need me with her as she faces this challenge. Even if she hadn’t asked, I would be there for her. Why? Because she has always been there for me and mine.

That’s what friends and family do. You rally around those you care about.

But, when you do, work is impacted.

I know that the next few weeks and months will see us waiting for the shoe to drop. In some ways, it will be like those last weeks of pregnancy. A bag will be packed, the gas tank filled and we will all be waiting for the phone to ring to tell us it is time to leave. No, not a bug-out, at least not in a Ringo-esque sort of way. This is the call to get to the hospital within a certain amount of time. The clock is ticking and it is very loud….

It has also meant changing what I have with me at any time. I’ve always had my phone and a small notepad squirreled away in my purse in case I needed to make a note about something. Smart phones are great for being able to use for dictation and look up things, etc. Now, however, the small purse — my preference — has been traded for a larger one. The smartphone and pad have been joined by my Surface Pro 3, stylus and charger. Why? Because the SP3 gives me everything my laptop does but at a fraction of the weight. The screen, while small, is still larger than my Android tablet and the keyboard is much better than the virtual keyboard on the Android. Add in the thumb drive with all my working files and I have my office on the go….

The result has been that I can and have been getting the job done despite the worry that is constantly there right now. I am working hard to not only meet the schedule I set for myself at the beginning of the year but to get ahead. I want that cushion for the day when we get the call telling us it is time to meet my friends at the hospital. I want to be able to be there for them and not worry about falling behind on “work”. I need to know that I am keeping with my schedule so the money can and will keep coming in. I need to know that, no matter what the time of day or day of the week, I am able to continue working without worry about where I happen to be….

(12) COMIC-CON HQ TO LAUNCH. San Diego’s Comic-Con International will brand a video-on-demand service.

The Hollywood Reporter: “Lionsgate, Comic-Con Set Launch Date for Streaming Service”

Lionsgate and Comic-Con International will launch Comic-Con HQ, their newly-named fanboy streamer, on May 7, ahead of an official launch in June. The subscription video-on-demand service will have a soft launch in May, with an official bow to follow in June in the lead up to Comic-Con International: San Diego in July.

Deadline: “Lionsgate & Comic-Con’s SVOD Channel Comic-Con HQ Sets Launch Date”

The ad-free streaming service will feature “an evolving slate of programming including original scripted and unscripted series, recurring daily and weekly entertainment commentary, plus unique access to a growing library of live and archival programming from their world-class events, a highly-curated selection of film and TV genre titles, and behind-the-scenes access and bonus features from genre titles that defy and define pop culture,” per the announcement.

Variety: “Lionsgate to Launch Comic-Con Channel in May”

Monday’s announcement disclosed that gaming personality Adam Sessler, former host of G4’s X-Play, will executive produce programs on comics, science and gaming, along with hosting his own interview series. Other formats being developed include a general pop culture news show, a late-night talk show, a weekly movie talk in partnership with Complex’s Collider and an all-female panel on pop culture from women’s perspectives.

(13) ONCE AROUND THE BLOCK. Mr. Sci-Fi has something to say about the Paramount/CBS suit against the maker of Axanar.

Sci-Fi Writer-Producer Marc Zicree discusses Paramount’s lawsuit against Star Trek Axanar and puts it in context with the long history of science fiction fan fiction and fan films — and suggests several possible win-win strategies for a successful outcome.

 

[Thanks to Will R., Steven Johnson, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 2/28/16 Little Old Lady Got Mutilated Late Last Night, Pixels Of London, Again

Your host will be on the road for a couple days attending Nic Farey’s wedding to Jennifer AlLee on February 29. I have prepared a couple of Scrolls in advance.

(1) CAN’T WE JUST ALL GET ALONG? Roz Kaveny tills the unsatisfactory middle ground between five recent studies of “Tolkien’s English Mythology” in the Times Literary Supplement.

In a sense, of course, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are offcuts from Tolkien’s principal and in the end unfinished and unfinishable work, parts of it published after his death as The Silmarillion, others as the Unfinished Tales. Although he was a Christian who absolutely believed in the literal and metaphysical truth of that body of stories, Tolkien was impressed enough by Elias Lönnrot’s assemblage of Finnish myths and legends as the Kalevala that he wanted to assemble, even forge in both senses of the word, a specifically English mythology that owed nothing to the Celtic or Norse pantheons, or to the Arthurian cycle (he also wrote his own version of that, as he did of Lönnrot’s story of Kullervo). Tolkien wanted to reclaim elves and Faerie from mere decorative prettiness and embed them in a narrative of fall and redemption that functioned as a secondary world; this was a spiritual as well as a creative enterprise, an attempt to understand God by doing imperfectly what He had done.

The success or failure of such an enterprise is in a sense irrelevant; what he produced in the main body of his legendarium is a heap of glorious moments rather than anything entirely achieved. Along the way, however, he wrote a children’s book called The Hobbit which might have been just another light work like Farmer Giles of Ham but turned out to be his gateway into a more approachable version of the legendarium, something that included a voice of the ordinary among gods, monsters and tyrants. In due course, his publishers’s and admirers’ desire for a sequel led to something considerably more ambitious but still puny by the standards of what he intended; one of the most attractive things about Tolkien is how he coped with being famous for something less than his lifelong ambition, not least because it achieved and exemplified some of his aims on a smaller scale.

This is why some of the complaints against him are beside the point – he had planned something compared to which Paradise Lost or the Prophetic Books of Blake would look modest, but if people wanted a superior adventure story, he would give them a superior adventure story with enough of his greater intention embedded in it to make itself visible in sudden vistas down narrative corridors. Whatever Tolkien thought about the literature of his time – not much, since he regarded, or affected to regard, everything that had been written in English after the late Middle Ages as a colossal mistake – he has a lot more in common with, say, T. S. Eliot than he or Patrick Curry would have been comfortable acknowledging.

(2) CCUBED. Those interested in gathering to talk about running conventions should look into ConComCon 2016, which will be held June 10-12, 2016 in Portland, OR at the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel.

Marah Searle-Kovacevic  says, “The theme will be ‘Building Bridges’ between different types of conventions, the convention and the hotel, convention staff and members, and other bridges. There will also be the usual discussions on hotel contracts, crisis management, parties and hospitality. There will also be a time Saturday afternoon for choosing topics that you want to talk about as programming items.”

You can also buy a membership or book a hotel room at the con web site.

Also, SWOC (founded as the Seattle Westercon Organizing Committee) is offering a scholarship to each convention for one person to attend CCubed. We would like this to be for someone who has not attended a CCubed before. If your convention is interested please contact Searle-Kovacevic through info@concomcon.com.

(3) CONTRASTING BLOODLINES. Doris V. Sutherland continues her comparison of non-slated with slated Hugo categories in “2014 Hugos Versus 2015 Sad Puppies: Related Works” at Women Write About Comics.

Sad Puppies founder Larry Correia presumably had this book in mind when he quipped that “the usual [Related Work] nominees are things like Transsexual WereSeals Love Dr. Who.” This seems unfair, as Queers Dig Time Lords has entertainment value—and that, after all, is something that the Sad Puppies are supposed to be fighting for. That said, I will have to admit that the book is closer to a fan blog than to a Hugo-worthy piece of media criticism…..

Given the book’s jack-of-all-trades approach, it is hardly surprising that Letters from Gardner is something of a mixed bag. To be honest, the fourteen-year career outlined here is simply too uneventful to make a particularly gripping biography. It is somewhat novel to see such an in-depth look at the beginning of a writer’s creative period—I can imagine Letters from Gardner inspiring many of its readers to try their hands at fiction themselves, with Antonelli making the process look easy—but too often the book gets bogged down in irrelevant details. The low point is when Antonelli spends multiple paragraphs waxing nostalgic about those Bic ballpoint pens with orange shafts, which are apparently hard to find in America these days.

(4) A NUANCED THEORY. Douglas Milewski explains “Why the Puppies Bid for the Hugos Failed”.

I’m not sure who taught Conservatives that SJWs only succeed because they browbeat everyone else. (Correct me if I’m mis-characterizing.) That’s the sort of information that sets you up to lose. SJWs win by building coalitions from the ground up, and they’ll take decades to do it. Most of this is done quietly, not because of secrecy, but because that sort of projects just takes time. This coalition building isn’t just a fanciful notion, but the cornerstone of their power. The number one weapon of the SJW is the narrative, building a story that holds the coalition together. A good narrative wins the battle. (Gay marriage is a fine example of this.) So who joined the SJW coalition when the fight got started? The best SF&F writers in the world joined, that’s who. They wrote the SJW narrative. That’s the sort of opposition that you must absolutely respond to, and the Puppies did not adapt.

One more analyst proves with geometric logic that writers, not fans, determined the outcome of their own award.

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • Feburary 28, 1996 Tromeo and Juliet premieres.

(6) LIGHTS, CAMERA, MISSING-IN-ACTION. CinemaBlend says he is “The Indiana Jones Actor Who Refused To Come Back For Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull”.

John Rhys-Davies portrayed Sallah in the first and third entries of the Indiana Jones franchise. It turns out, he was asked to make an appearance in the fourth as well, but declined because they only wanted him there for a cameo. What’s worse, he tells Digital Spy that he wouldn’t even have been interacting with any of the other characters.

I was asked to be in the last one, but they wanted me to do a bit of green-screen – walk in, sit down and clap – and they were going to cut that into the wedding scene at the end. I turned it down because it seemed to me that that would be a bit of a betrayal of the audience’s expectations. Sallah is a popular character – there’s a greatness of soul about him that we all love and admire…

(7) H8TERS GONNA H8. In “How real is that Atlas robot video?”, The Guardian pooh-poohs a viral video I linked to the other day.

The Google-owned company’s most recent video shows the latest version of Atlas opening fire doors, prancing about through snow, being abused by an evil scientist wielding a hockey stick, and doing an uncanny impersonation of an Amazon warehouse worker. It looks incredibly impressive, but how much of it can we take at face value?

(8) THEY’RE TEASING. The Spaceballs 2 teaser poster has arrived….

(9) BY POPULAR DEMAND. Here is bloodstone75’s take on Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s Cradle.”

Pup’s in the Manger

A man wrote some books the other day
With Monsters and Guns in the usual way
And they attained some scratch, and won some praise
New writer win? They said “Not today”

And when he didn’t nab a Hugo, his anger grew.
He said “It’s ‘cause I’m not like you, right?
I’m never gonna be like you!”

And the Pup’s in the manger, and he’s venting spleen,
Larry boy’s blue, and it’s making him mean

When you giving up, Lar’
“I won’t say ‘when’; but I’m gonna vex the Fen;
You know I’m gonna vex those Fen.”

A year went by, Larry couldn’t wait
He said “This time it’s mine, yeah, my story’s great.”
But he wanted revenge — they just had to pay!
“I got to make them cry,” he said. “Meet Vox Day
And he, he carved a slate, and his smile was so grim,
And said “They’re gonna choke on him, yeah.
They’re really gonna choke on him.”

CH

Well, he passed his banner to another guy
So much like himself he just had to smile
And he scored a nom, but then he turned it down
He shook his head and said “I’m no clown.
All I really want now is to torment the lefties.
Won’t be happy ‘til they’re on their knees.”

CH

So though he’d “retired”, he still mixed it up
He built a slate with the other Pups
He said “You made us do it; you rigged the vote.
I got my own cabal, now you can watch us gloat.”
But the Pox was ascendant, and the shit hit the fan.
And the backlash sign-ups began, yeah,
The fan enrollment began.
And as they read out the votes it occurred to him
Their rocket hopes were dim
His hopes were just so dim

CH

(10) ALICE SEQUEL. Coming May 27, Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass.

In Disney’s “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” an all-new spectacular adventure featuring the unforgettable characters from Lewis Carroll’s beloved stories, Alice returns to the whimsical world of Underland and travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter. Directed by James Bobin, who brings his own unique vision to the spectacular world Tim Burton created on screen in 2010 with “Alice in Wonderland,” the film is written by Linda Woolverton based on characters created by Lewis Carroll and produced by Joe Roth, Suzanne Todd and Jennifer Todd and Tim Burton with John G. Scotti serving as executive producer. “Alice Through the Looking Glass” reunites the all-star cast from the worldwide blockbuster phenomenon, including: Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska and Helena Bonham Carter along with the voices of Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen and Timothy Spall. We are also introduced to several new characters: Zanik Hightopp (Rhys Ifans), the Mad Hatter’s father and Time himself (Sacha Baron Cohen), a peculiar creature who is part human, part clock.

 

(11) INTERFACE. Kill Command opens May 16.

Set in a near future, technology-reliant society that pits man against killing machines.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Will R., Andrew Porter, and Woodwindy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 2/25/16 The Scrolls My Pixellation

(1) BACK HOME AGAIN IN INDIANA. In 1936 the Marshall College Archaeological Review accepted Professor Jones’ journal article, but asked for a few teensy changes – in “Why Professor Indiana Jones Was Hated By His Colleagues” at Cracked.

The Title

Though your findings are certainly incredible and we understand your enthusiasm, we must say that the title “God Melted Some Nazi Faces In Front Of Me” simply doesn’t fit our journal’s aesthetic. I am only more distressed by the title when I read the first sentence of your abstract, which states “At least I think that’s what happened. Really, I just closed my eyes for a while, and when I opened them, all the Nazis had melted.” As men of science, it is our academic duty to at least entertain the notion that there was a corrosive substance inside the Ark of the Covenant that killed them. Or perhaps there was some sort of violent squabble that erupted while you and Miss Ravenwood had your eyes shut. Or anything, really. Any explanation beyond “God did it” should, at the very least, be mentioned. This segues nicely into my next concern.

(2) REVOLUTIONARY CASTING IDEA. Here’s your next singing and dancing chimney sweep — “’Hamilton’ Creator/Star Lin-Manuel Miranda Signs On For ‘Mary Poppins’ Sequel” reports ScienceFiction.com.

Walt Disney’s new ‘Mary Poppins’ film, directed by Rob Marshall with Emily Blunt portraying everyone’s favorite magical nanny has found its male lead.  Broadway wunderkind Lin-Manuel Miranda, the mastermind behind Broadway’s hottest show, ‘Hamilton’ (It’s sold out through 2018!) will play Jack, a lamplighter, a part similar to Bert the chimney sweep, played by Dick Van Dyke in the classic 1964 film.

The new movie is set 20 years after the original, in Depression-era London and will pull from one P.L. Travers’ seven other ‘Mary Poppins’ novels.  (The 1964 film was based on the first, with hopes of turning them into a series, but Travers despised the film and nixed those plans.)

(3) IN TAVERNS TO COME. Rob Ehlert and Cathy Mate, the subjects of “Know Your Neighbors: Rob Ehlert of Dark Rogue Tavern” at Around Berwyn, are long time Chicago fans. Cathy’s husband, “Clash” DJed many Windycon dances prior to his death in 2013.

People will know it’s a tavern because in Chicago there will be snow around the entrance half the year…. (File 770 inside joke.)

DRT-Logo-300x200When an opportunity arises to receive a $10,000 endorsement from Bar Rescue’s Jon Taffer, you take it. That’s what Berwyn resident Rob Ehlert did when he entered his bar concept, Dark Rogue Tavern, into a nationwide entrepreneurial contest sponsored by the famous TV personality.

Dark Rogue Tavern will be Berwyn’s newest bar and grill scheduled to open in July 2016. The concept is the brainchild of Amy Mate and Rob Ehlert, who felt inspired to create “a ‘Cheers’ for nerds.” According to Ehlert, Dark Rogue Tavern will be a place for geeks, gamers, comic book collectors, sci-fi fans, and fantasy role-players to come together and enjoy a space dedicated to them. They can come with friends, or make new ones, and watch their favorite shows and movies, play their favorite games and enjoy craft beers, cocktails, and elevated bar food.

After pitching this idea to Taffer’s entrepreneurial contest, Mate and Ehlert made it into the top 10 but ultimately did not win the contest. But never fear! Dark Rogue Tavern will eventually be here, even without the $10K grant. “We will make this bar open regardless of the support from Jon Taffer,” said Ehlert.

(4) THE BRANDENBURG GREAT. Neil Clarke is the guest fiction editor of a science and sf theme issue of The Berlin Quarterly, a European print review of long form journalism, literature, and the Arts. Clarke says —

Their budget permitted me to select four reprints, so in this issue you’ll find:

  • “Slipping” by Lauren Beukes
  • “Tying Knots” by Ken Liu
  • “A Brief Investigation of the Process of Decay” by Genevieve Valentine
  • “The Best We Can” by Carrie Vaughn

(5) MEOW MIX. George R.R. Martin alerted readers of Not A Blog that Meow Wolf will be open to the public for the first time on March 18 and 19. He also linked to an LA Times story about the project, “Art collective builds a dream house in Santa Fe with millions of dollars – and junk”

Calling themselves “Meow Wolf,” they have earned a reputation for using whatever materials they can scavenge to build fantastical exhibits that are part haunted house and part jungle gym — giant artwork that people can step inside.

These immersive shows — a psychedelic cave, a junk-filled dome — have grown progressively more elaborate. Now, after years of surviving on shoestring budgets, Meow Wolf has persuaded investors to pour millions of dollars into something even bigger.

The Santa Fe group has procured an abandoned bowling alley in a struggling part of town to house a massive, permanent exhibit. King and his friends call it a dream come true, but it comes at a price.

Martin has invested $3.5 million in the project, says the LA Times.

(6) BERLITZKRIEG. I have it on the highest authority that Vox Popoli isn’t a result of an inability to spell vox populi, it’s a combination of the Latin phrase with the Italian la voce dei popoli.

And Vox Day isn’t “the voice of God” either. It’s a trilingual pun, Latin-Greek-English.

Vox Day
Vox Dei
Vox Theos
Theo’s Voice

There will be a quiz.

(7) TWISTING IN THE WINDS OF WINTER. IGN has posted a video interview with George R.R. Martin and Colony co-creator Ryan Condal in which Martin delivered an intriguing bit of news.

George R.R. Martin has officially decided to write in the big twist he planned for his new book, The Winds of Winter. The twist on the twist? The Game of Thrones TV show won’t be able to pull it off, because it’s already killed off a key character involved in the storyline. Watch Martin give us the scoop in the video above.

This is just one awesome moment from our full 27-minute sit down with Martin and Colony co-creator Ryan Condal, where we talk the suggestions that changed their series completely, the sci-fi/fantasy properties that made them fans, dream casting and how to end a story.

(8) CONTINUING COVERAGE OF MARK OSHIRO AND CONQUEST. Selina Rosen and Mark Oshiro exchanged comments on Facebook, and Oshiro said he appreciated Rosen’s apology.

[Selina Rosen:] It was never my intention to make you uncomfortable. I am not aware of touching you but know that if I did it was not meant as an insult or to make you uncomfortable. FYI till Monday of this week I did NOT even know that you were the one who turned me in. I apologize for any perception you had that I was in any way sexualizing or trying to demean you. I will be more aware in the future that fandom has changed and I must change with it or stay home.

[Mark Does Stuff:] Thank you very much for this, Selina. For what it’s worth, I believe you in that you may not have even known you were touching me. I appreciate your apology. I wish ConQuesT had just TOLD you about this so that you didn’t have to find out this way. Regardless, I genuinely thank you for posting this.

[Selina Rosen:] Not knowing who had told made it imposable for me to address the issue with you directly. Only know I am not that person and never have been.

Rosen further commented on a different Facebook post.

[Selina Rosen.] Seriously I’m so sorry that I did this mostly because it’s the joke that will not die. I played to the audience. The joke is so old I have to go to the banks of antiquity to ask permission to use it. I will not do it again. I am sorry that he was so upset in any way. No one should be uncomfortable.

(9) RABID PUPPIES MARCH ON. Vox Day’s slate for another Hugo category — Rabid Puppies 2016: Best Short Story.

The preliminary recommendations for the Best Short Story category:

  • “Tuesdays With Molakesh the Destroyer”, Megan Grey, Fireside Magazine
  • “Asymmetrical Warfare”, S. R. Algernon, Nature Nr. 519
  • “Seven Kill Tiger”, Charles Shao, There Will Be War Vol. X
  • “The Commuter”, Thomas Mays, Amazon Kindle Single
  • “If You Were an Award, My Love”, Juan Tabo and S. Harris, Vox Popoli

(10) SAD PUPPIES 4 REPORT. Kate Paulk checks off “the big two” Hugo categories in a short Mad Genius Club post.

I’m wrapping these two together because they’re the big hitters of the Hugos even though the Campbell isn’t a Hugo. They’re also, well… kind of obvious. The Campbell website even has a list of eligible authors….

As for what to nominate, well, that’s up to you folks. I can guarantee that what shows up on my ballot will not be what bubbles to the top of the List, because I’m doing the List as a service to anyone who’s interested and trying to boost interest and involvement in the entire Hugos process. Also because I’m just weird.

Now the administrative stuff:

I will start closing comments on the Sad Puppies recommendation threads starting around 5pm US Eastern Time on Monday 29th February. This is so I don’t have new recommendations coming in while I’m trying to collate what’s there.

(11) BOOK PROMO. At the SFWA Blog, Cat Rambo lists “10 Ways SFWA Can Help Promote Your New Book”.  Here are the first three:

  1. The Featured Book section of the website appears on the righthand side of the website’s front page and is open to new books at the time of their release. While filling that out, you might also fill out the Featured Author section.
  2. The New Release Newsletter is a recent addition that lists forthcoming publications by SFWA members. It is not limited to books, but can encompass shorter fiction and alternate forms. Backlist books being newly released can be listed in the newsletter.
  3. The SFWA Discussion Forums have multiple ways to promote your book. Mention details in your personal thread, list interviews and reviews in the Self Promotion section, where you can also find a link to Don Saker’s The Dealer’s Room, where SFWAmembers can list free book promotions.

(12) CONSTRUCTION TOYS. These items come from Andrew Porter.

Meccano was the British equivalent of the US Erector Set. The history of Meccano Magazine is available here at the Meccano Indexes and Information Home Page.

James May (not the Puppy James May) hosts the BBC show James May’s Toy Stories, where he built a Meccano bridge which supported a man, in Liverpool — part of a series which included running electric model trains for five miles in open country, building a two-story house out of LEGO, and creating a life-size plastic Airfix Spitfire model.

You can download issues of Meccano Magazine as PDFs here

(13) SPINNING SHIELD. ScienceFiction.com has the story: “ABC Releases Synopsis For ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Spinoff ‘Most Wanted’”.

Back in January, ABC gave the green light to Marvel Television’s ‘Most Wanted’ after a period of will they/won’t they. Since then, the ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ spinoff starring Adrianne Palicki and Nick Blood has been ramping up. First, Delroy Lindo joined the cast as the swashbuckling adventurer Dominic Fortune. Now, we have our first description of the series that gives us a glimpse at Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter’s new mission.

The first official synopsis for the latest show set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was recently shared and as anticipated, we learn about Mockingbird and Hunter’s less than ideal situation where they find themselves with bounties on their heads. But there’s also some new information about Fortune’s role in the whole thing and how the three will come together…

(14) OLD FEDEX COMMERCIAL. Saw this getting replayed today…

[Thanks to Steven H Silver, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Nigel.]

Pixel Scroll 2/22/16 Through Pathless Realms Of Space, Scroll On

(1) NUKED THE FRIDGE. Yahoo! News says there may be a good reason why Indy survived the atomic blast, in “Fan Theory Explains That Much-Maligned Indiana Jones Scene”.

Much like ‘jumping the shark’ from ‘Happy Days’, the Indiana Jones movie series has a similar phrase to encompass the moment it all went a little bit too far.

And it’s ‘nuked the fridge’.

Many ardent fans of Harrison Ford’s swashbuckling archeologist very much drew the line at the moment in ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ where Indy jumps into a conveniently situated fridge to protect himself from a nuclear blast.

Walking away unscathed, it did seem a trifle unfeasible….

(2) POWERLESS LEAD ACTRESS. The name of the show, Powerless, makes punning inevitable. “Vanessa Hudgens Is Far From ‘Powerless’ – ‘Grease’ Star Will Headline NBC’s New DC Comics Sitcom” reports ScienceFiction.com.

Vanessa Hudgens is on a roll after starring in FOX’s smash hit version of ‘Grease Live!’  She’s just landed the lead role in NBC’s upcoming DC Comics-inspired sitcom ‘Powerless’.  Hudgens will play Emily Locke, an insurance claims adjuster, working for “the worst insurance company in the DC Universe” which covers victims caught in the crossfire of super hero/villain battles.  This workplace comedy has been compared to ‘The Office’ but set within the DC Universe.

(3) DECLAN FINN’S FELINE FAN. At Camestros Felapton’s blog, a hilarious faux interview “Timothy the Talking Cat Reads Honor at Stake”.

[Camestros] Noted. So what book do you have today?
[Timothy] Well, today I have with me Honor at Stake by Declan Finn. A tale of love and vampires in modern New York.

[Camestros] And why this book in particular?
[Timothy] Well I was reading twitter and there was this tweet with a graph that showed it was really doing well in the Sad Puppy 4 lists.
[Camestros] The graph from my blog?
[Timothy] Your blog? I don’t think so, this was some sort of SadPuppy4 twitter account.
[Camestros] They tweeted my graph. Do you not even read this blog?
[Timothy] Good grief, no. I mean your very name offends me.…

[Camestros] So the sexy love interest vampire – she is conflicted about this? A bit of a Romeo & Vamp-Juliet thing going on?
[Timothy] No, no. She is a good vampire and a good Catholic girl. She goes to mass and everything.
[Camestros] So crucifix don’t work on vampires then?
[Timothy] No, you see the book has this all worked out. Vampires can be good or bad and the more good you are the nicer you look and the less things like holy water and sunlight affect you. The more bad you are the more hideous you become and the more holy water hurts,
[Camestros] OK so the bad vampires are like regular vampires.
[Timothy] Yup – a bit like the ones in Buffy.
[Camestros] Let me guess – the author explains this by comparing them to the vampires in Buffy?
[Timothy] Exactly! Quality writing – explains things up front so you know what is going on.

(4) MEMORIAL CUISINE. Frequent File 770 contributor James H. Burns has found yet another way to time travel… See “Recipe For the Dead” at Brooklyn Discovery.

Perhaps this is unusual. I have no way of knowing. But when I’m missing a loved one who has passed, or wishing to commemorate someone who is no longer with us… Sometimes, I’ll cook a meal that they loved. Not that I necessarily ever cooked for the departed. But sharing a repast that they favored, having those aromas in the air as the food is cooking, seems a very real way of honoring a memory.

(5) OSHIRO STORY FOLLOWUP. Here are some items of interest related to the Mark Oshiro story.

  • K. Tempest Bradford on Robin Wayne Bailey

3) I am and remain a big fan of Ms. Rosen. I’ve only read one of her novels, but I fell in love with her personality from the two times I’ve been to ConQuesT. She is lively, articulate on her strong opinions, and she is a strong woman. No, I do not always agree with her. In fact, I often greatly disagree with her and her methods of dealing with situations. It in no way changes my respect for her. She doesn’t need me to agree with her for her to be comfortable in her skin. We can disagree, and it in no way takes away from her person. That’s the biggest reason I like the woman. So, in my opinion, she can pull her pants down whenever she wants. Her white legged exposure at ConQuesT 45 was in no way indecent, and no one was assaulted by anything more than her wit, charm, and strong opinions. And honestly, if that’s not what you’re looking for, then you probably shouldn’t go to a convention filled with writers. If the writers at a convention are going to be overtly nice and congenial, I’m not going to pay a hefty entry fee to go listen to their polite little opinions. I go to conventions because of the lively discussion of various opinions from very opinionate writers. If I leave feeling strongly about something, even if that feeling is offense, then in my opinion, the panelists have done their jobs and done them well.

4) I was not present at ConQuesT 46 and cannot speak to the events that happened there.

(6) THE LEVERAGE CONCEPT. Elizabeth Bear offers help in “We provide…Leverage”.

If I am a guest at a convention you are attending, or simply a fellow attendee, and you feel that you have been harassed, intimidated, or that your boundaries have been trampled or ignored, please feel free to ask me for support, help, intervention, or just an escort to a safer area or backup on the way to talk to convention or hotel security.

If you do not feel that you can stick up for yourself, I will help. I will be a buffer or a bulwark if necessary or requested.

Just walk up to me and ask for Leverage, and I promise that I will take you seriously and I’ll try to make things better.

(This is not an exhaustive list.)

(7) BOSKONE COMPLETE. Steve Davidson finishes his Boskone report at Amazing Stories.

Final thoughts?  There were lots of smiles walking out the door on Sunday.  The David Hartwell memorial was touching, much-needed and well-handled.  From what I was able to see, everything went very smoothly (except for perhaps a few hiccups with pre-registration that I understand are already being addressed).

(8) SLOCOMBE OBIT. Cinematographer Douglas Slocombe has died at the age of 103 reports the BBC.

Slocombe shot 80 films, from classic Ealing comedies such as The Lavender Hill Mob and Kind Hearts and Coronets, to three Indiana Jones adventures.

In 1939 he filmed some of the earliest fighting of World War Two in Poland.

Indiana Jones director Steven Spielberg said Slocombe – who won Baftas for the Great Gatsby, The Servant, and Julia – “loved the action of filmmaking”.

(9) NOW YOU KNOW. Some believe Carrie Fisher revealed the working title of Star Wars: Episode VIII when she tweeted this photo of her dog. It’s on the sweatshirt back of the director’s chair.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 22, 1957 — When Scott Carey begins to shrink because of exposure to a combination of radiation and insecticide, medical science is powerless to help him in The Incredible Shrinking Man, seen for the first time on this day in 1957. Did you know: special effects technicians were able to create giant drops of water by filling up condoms and dropping them.

Incredible Shrinking Man Poster

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRLS

  • Born February 22, 1968 – Jeri Ryan
  • Born February 22, 1975 – Drew Barrymore

(12) CORREIA ISN’T LEAVING TWITTER. Well, what else do you say when somebody announces “I’ll leave the account open to post blog links back to here and book ads, but other than that I’m not going to use it for any sort of conversation,” as Larry Correia did on Monster Hunter Nation today?

Recently they created a Trust and Safety Council, to protect people from being triggered with hurtful dissenting ideas. Of course the council is made up of people like Anita Sarkesian, so you know how it is going to swing.

They’ve been unverifying conservatives, and outright banning conservative journalists. Then there were rumors of “shadow banning” where people would post, but their followers wouldn’t see it in their timelines. So it’s like you’re talking to a room that you think has 9,000 people in it, but when the lights come on you’ve been wasting time talking to an empty room.

For the record, I don’t know if that’s what happened to me or not. Some of my posts have just disappeared from my timeline entirely. Other tweets seem to show up for some followers, but not others, and it wasn’t just replies. Beats me. Either something weird was going on and I’ve violated the unwritten rules of the Ministry of Public Truth, or their technical interface is just getting worse (never attribute to malice what could just be stupidity). Either way it is enough of a pain that it was getting to be not worth the hassle.

Then today they disappeared all of my friend Adam Baldwin’s tweets. Ironically, his only visible post (out of 8,000) was a link to an article about how Twitter is banning conservatives. That was the last straw.

(13) THAT DARNED JOURNALISM THING. Actually, Adam Baldwin deleted himself.

….Baldwin, who has nearly a quarter of a million followers, deleted his entire Twitter history Monday morning, leaving only one tweet asking for the CEO of Twitter to be fired and the abolishment of the platforms new Trust and Safety Council….

“This group-think, Orwellian, so-called Safety Council is really killing the wild west of ideas that Twitter was,” Baldwin laments:

“That’s what made Twitter fun. You could run across all sorts of differing viewpoints. That is what free speech is all about. As long as you’re not threatening people with violence, have at it.”

Baldwin cites the banning of prominent conservative tweeter Robert Stacy McCain as a major reason for leaving …

(14) REASON’S INTERPRETATION. Reason.com’s “Hit & Run” blog asks “Did Twitter’s Orwellian ‘Trust and Safety’ Council Get Robert Stacy McCain Banned?”

Twitter is a private company, of course, and if it wants to outlaw strong language, it can. In fact, it’s well within its rights to have one set of rules for Robert Stacy McCain, and another set of rules for everyone else. It’s allowed to ban McCain for no reason other than its bosses don’t like him. If Twitter wants to take a side in the online culture war, it can. It can confiscate Milo Yiannopoulos’s blue checkmark. This is not about the First Amendment.

But if that’s what Twitter is doing, it’s certainly not being honest about it—and its many, many customers who value the ethos of free speech would certainly object. In constructing its Trust and Safety Council, the social media platform explicitly claimed it was trying to strike a balance between allowing free speech and prohibiting harassment and abuse. But its selections for this committee were entirely one-sided—there’s not a single uncompromising anti-censorship figure or group on the list. It looks like Twitter gave control of its harassment policy to a bunch of ideologues, and now their enemies are being excluded from the platform.

(15) BRIANNA WU DEFENDS TWITTER. Brianna Wu commented on Facebook about Correia’s Twitter statement. (File 770 received permission to quote from it; the post is set to be visible to “friends” only.)

He and other conservative figures like Adam Baldwin are claiming that Twitter is breaking down on “free speech” and capitulating to the “SJWs,” which I guess means people like me. I have spent much of the last year asking Twitter and other tech companies to improve their harassment policies. There is one problem with Mr. Correria’s claim.

There is no evidence whatsoever for it.

None, zilch, zero. It’s a fantasy. A similar lie is going around that Twitter has put Anita Sarkeesian in charge of their Trust and Safety council, which is similarly baseless. I’ve spoken with a lot of tech companies in the last year and I have never heard anyone propose shadowbanning.

The only “proof” that Twitter is shadowbanning people comes from a disreputable conservative blog, that is so disreputable it cannot even be used as sourcing on Wikipedia. That blog used anonymous sourcing, and was written by someone with a personal axe to grind against Twitter.

The truth is, companies like Twitter are finally enforcing their own TOS if you threaten someone, dox someone, or set up an account specifically created to harass someone. That has led to some people being banned, and some accounts that perpetually break Twitter harassment rules to become deverified.

The backlash against Twitter is by people that prefer these system to remain as they are – a place where the women in your life will get rape threats, where anyone can have their private information posted, and where swarms of vicious mobs are destroying people’s reputation with slander.

The last I checked, almost 100 people have spread Mr. Correria’s baseless claim – and even more with Adam Baldwin. This is an important thing to fact check, and I hope you’ll share this to set the record straight.

(16) ELSEWHERE ON THE INTERNET. Bailey Lemon at Medium writes “Why This Radical Leftist is Disillusioned by Leftist Culture”.

…And yet I witness so many “activists” who claim to care about those at the bottom of society ignoring the realities of oppression, as if being offended by a person’s speech or worldview is equal to prison time or living on the streets. They talk about listening, being humble, questioning one’s preconceived notions about other people and hearing their lived experiences…and yet ignore the lived experiences of those who don’t speak or think properly in the view of university-educated social justice warriors, regardless of how much worse off they really are. That is not to say that we should accept bigotry in any form?—?far from it. But I would go as far as saying that the politically correct mafia on the left perpetuates a form of bigotry on its own because it alienates and “otherizes” those who do not share their ways of thinking and speaking about the world.

I’m tired of the cliques, the hierarchies, the policing of others, and the power imbalances that exist between people who claim to be friends and comrades. I am exhausted and saddened by the fact that any type of disagreement or difference of opinion in an activist circle will lead to a fight, which sometimes includes abandonment of certain people, deeming them “unsafe” as well as public shaming and slander.

(17) YES, THIS IS A SELECTED QUOTE: Dave Freer makes his feelings clear as the summer sun:

I couldn’t give a toss how I ‘come over’ to File 770 and its occupants, (there is no point in trying to please a miniscule market at the expense of my existing readers) but it’s a useful jumping off point:…

Is Freer simply unable to generate his own column ideas? He proves his indifference by spending most of today’s 2,500-word post teeing off about half-a-dozen imagined slights he thinks self-published writers suffered here.

(18) PROVERBIAL WISDOM. Mark Lawrence declines to reap the dividends of political blogging.

When you declare a political preference (especially at either end of the spectrum) you’re immediately plumbed into an extensive support network. It’s rather like a church. Complete strangers will shout “Amen, brother!”.

Yes, you may well alienate half the political spectrum but you’ll still have half left, and half of ‘everything’ looks pretty attractive when all you’ve got is all of nothing.

Plus, the business of blogging becomes easy. You don’t have to think up something new and original to write, you can just turn the handle on the outrage machine and content drops onto the page.

“SJWs ate my baby!”

“This group of two is insufficiently diverse, you BIGOT.”

If you don’t ‘get’ either of those headlines from opposing political extremes then I’m rather jealous of you.

Anyway, the fact is that joining a side in the culture war can seem like a no-brainer to an aspiring author who needs backup. I’m entirely sure that the motivations for many authors taking to political blogging are 100% genuine, born of deep convictions. I’m also sure that many jump on board, dial up their mild convictions to 11 and enjoy the ride, blog-traffic, retweets, prime spots on the ‘right on’ genre sites of their particular affiliation, oh my.

It’s a step I’ve never been able to take. I do have moderately strong political convictions, but they’re moderate ones, and moderation doesn’t sell, doesn’t generate traffic, doesn’t get retweeted.

(19) CASE IN POINT. io9 reports “The BBC Is Bringing Back The Twilight Zone As a Radio Drama”

Ten classic episodes of The Twilight Zone will be broadcast in the UK for the first time—but, much like the show’s trademark, there’s a twist. The episodes will be reinvented as radio plays taken from Rod Serling’s original TV scripts, thanks to BBC Radio 4 Extra.

According to the Independent, veteran actor Stacy Keach will step in to perform the late Serling’s iconic monologues; other cast members throughout the series will include Jane Seymour, Jim Caviezel, Michael York, Malcolm McDowell, and Don Johnson. Producer Carl Amari has owned the rights since 2002, which he obtained in part by promising to do the episodes justice in terms of production values and casting.

(20) TECH TUNES UP FOR TREK. The Daily News profiled cast members of the Star Trek musical parody being performed this weekend at CalTech.

It’s not unusual for the cast and crew to open up text books, work on papers and discuss theoretical physics in their downtime. It provides an opportunity to network too, with students acting beside people who work in the fields they’re studying, Wong said.

“To be able to stand on stage with all of these people and sing about ‘Star Trek’ that’s just crazy,” he said.

“Boldly Go!” started out with the cast meeting on weekends, before amping up to twice a week and nearly every day in the past month.

Marie Blatnik, who studies experimental nuclear physics and plays a fierce Klingon named Maltof, described the scheduling as hectic. She originally auditioned — in half a Starfleet uniform — for a different role, but the brothers recast a male Klingon when they saw her energy.

“It kind of feels like a cult where they lure you in with ‘it’s only 15 bucks’ then jump to ‘I want your life savings,” Blatnik joked about the time invested in the show.

(21) YOUR GAME OF THRONES NEIGHBORS. Seth Meyers has had two Late Show skits where Game of Thrones characters are featured in everyday situations:

  • Melisandre at the Meyers’ baby shower:

  • Jon Snow at a dinner party:

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Frank Wu, Rob Thornton, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus (you know who you are!).]

Pixel Scroll 1/2 Sacrificing Poisoned Pixels While Dancing Naked in the Scrolls

(0) APOLOGY TENDERED. Greg van Eekhout is quite right to be displeased —

I was so struck with the association sparked between two posts about not having a book out in 2016 that I quite insensitively plowed over the real life causes he was relating. I apologize for making light of his situation.

(1) HOW TO IMPROVE. Sherwood Smith’s post “Beginning Writer Errors” at Book View Café shares the distilled wisdom she found in an old set of notes taken during a Loscon panel by that name.

I think these lists interesting mostly because they reveal writerly process at least as much as they do beginner errors. Some of the best discussion arose out of what some considered no error at all, and others considered advice for revision, not for first draft errors, and what the difference was.

For pants writers (those who sit down and let the tale spin out through their fingers before going back to see what they have) one set of rules might be helpful and another useless; for plotters and planners, a completely different set….

Panelist’s Three’s list suggests to me that that writer works by a completely different process:

  1. Ending every chapter on a transition.
  2. Letting the narrative voice tell readers what to think.
  3. Long, clumsy sentences.

To number one, half the panelists disagreed. Note: “transitions are natural chapter breaks.” The writer defended it: “this pattern reads artificial.”

(2) HELP HELPS. “Joe Hill Calls Bullshit On The Crazy Artist Cliché” by Hayley Campbell at Buzzfeed.

“I was just really paranoid and really depressed and really unhappy and full of really nutty ideas. I would call my dad with my latest crazy ideas and he would patiently listen. He was the only person who could listen to me. And he’d talk me through and explain why my latest idea about being pursued and prosecuted and persecuted was irrational.”

Hill wouldn’t go into what he calls his “terrible, lunatic notions”, because he doesn’t like revisiting them. But eventually his dad suggested that seeing someone professionally could help him out – an idea Hill had resisted because he was convinced the paranoia and “lunatic ideas” were connected to his creativity. “I thought if I got help, I wouldn’t be able to write any more.”

It all goes back to another cliché: the crazy artist. But as a crazy artist, he got no actual work done. The three novels he couldn’t finish are testament to that cliché being bullshit.

“I got into therapy and I got on a pill, and what I discovered was getting help didn’t make me less creative. What was making me less creative was being a depressed crazy person. Figuring out how to be happy and have fun with the kids again, how to have fun with my life and work, actually made me a better writer, not a worse writer.”

(3) BEST SF FILMS OF 2015. JJ says Brian Merchant’s “The 11 Sci-Fi Films That Defined 2015”at Motherboard is “A ‘Best SF Films’ list that isn’t just a re-hash of other lists.” Part of the proof – The Martian ranks ahead of The Force Awakens – and three other movies rank above them.

The major themes that bubbled up in the year’s science fictional slipstream included income inequality, artificial intelligence, transgender rights, and the power and necessity of the scientific endeavor itself. Young adult dystopias showed signs of flagging, while classic-mold sci-fi mega franchises boomed (with one exception). There were not one but two great feminist-leaning SF films; one a bona fide blockbuster hit, another a powerful, slow-burning indie. There was an already-beloved animated short about our possible futures.

(4) THE HEISENBERG CERTAINTY PRINCPLE. Jonathan M is right, however, it is equally clear that when no one was paying attention to them, they were not starved out of existence for lack of it.

(5) STEAMING PILE. Just one person’s opinion, but I think this logo (first posted last April) isn’t that different from the real 1988 Hugo Award base.

1988 Hugo Award base by Ned Dameron

1988 Hugo Award base by Ned Dameron

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • BORN January 2, 1920 – Isaac Asimov

(7) JASON WINGREEN OBIT. Yahoo! News reports actor Jason Wingreen passed away January 1.

The Brooklyn native appeared in three episodes of The Twilight Zone, most notably portraying the real train conductor in the 1960 episode in “A Stop at Willoughby.” …[He] died a memorable death as Dr. Linke on the 1968 Star Trek episode “The Empath.”

… On The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Wingreen auditioned for the part of Yoda. He didn’t get that role (Frank Oz did), but he was given four lines of dialogue spoken by the masked Boba Fett, the feared bounty hunter who captures Han Solo (Harrison Ford).

“I think the actual work, aside from the hellos and goodbyes and all that, could have been no more than 10 minutes,” he said. He received no credit for his work (it didn’t become publicly known that the voice was his until about 2000)…

(8) MEADOWLARK LEMON OBIT. Meadowlark Lemon, who passed away December 27, starred in a few Saturday morning outings (animated, and otherwise) as James H. Burns recalls in an appreciation written for the NY local CBS affiliate website.

In 1979, there was yet another Globetrotters cartoon, The Super Globetrotters, in which they became super heroes, but Lemon was not part of that mix. That same year, though, he co-starred in the fantasy comedy theatrical feature film, The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh (along with Julius Erving (Doctor J!), Debbie Allen and Stockard Channing). According to some sources, the movie–about a failing professional basketball team, saved by stocking its roster according to the players’ astrological signs–has developed something of a cult following….

(9) FIFTH! “Indiana Jones 5 Confirmed By Disney” is the headline. Tarpinian’s suggestion for the movie title is “Indiana Jones and the Rocking Chair of Gold.”

Speaking to Yahoo earlier in 2015, Spielberg said he’ll likely work on the film and that it would star Harrison Ford. Bradley Cooper and Chris Pratt were rumoured to play a younger version of the archeologist.

He said: “Now I’ll probably do an Indy 5 with Harrison, [so] it’ll be five for Harrison, four for Tom [Hanks].”

In a separate interview with French radio RTL, Spielberg said: “I am hoping one day to make it to an Indiana Jones V. I would hope to make it before Harrison Ford is 80 and I get much older.”

Spielberg’s quotes suggests that both he and Harrison Ford are on board for the sequel, though neither has officially said as much.

(10) FIRST! While you’re waiting for the new Indy film, Open Culture recommends you click on “Great ‘Filmumentaries’ Take You Inside the Making of Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark & Jaws.

Even casual filmgoers will recognize these movies, and they’ll feel, shortly after pressing play on [Jamie] Benning’s Inside Jaws and Raiding the Lost Ark, as if they’ve just settled in to watch them again, though they’ll see them as they never have before. Serious film fans will, as the form of the filmumentary emerges, recognize the basis of the concept. Described as “visual commentaries,” these productions take the concept of the commentary track and step it up considerably, overlaying the original film’s soundtrack with the words of a veritable chorus of those who worked on it — actors (even some not ultimately cast), crew members, designers, producers, hangers-around — sourced and sometimes even recorded by Benning.

 

(11) LOGAN’S RUN AND AUTHOR APPEARANCE. William F. Nolan, co-author of Logan’s Run, will be on hand when the Portland Geek Council presents the film Logan’s Run on January 17.

(12) TWU WUV.  “Jared Weissman Made Harry Potter Fictional Wizard’s Broomstick For Girlfriend”. With DIY photos taken as he made a copy of the Nimbus 2000.

“Shelby has been obsessed with Harry Potter for a long time now and about a year ago decided she wanted to start collecting prop replicas,” Weissman told Mashable in an email. “We went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter this past summer where she bought the Sorcerer’s Stone, Tom Riddle’s diary, and a plaster scroll that says Dumbledoor’s Army with 6 wands mounted on it (Harry, Ron, Hermoine, Luna, Neville, and Ginny).”

From that point on, it was pretty clear to Weissman what the perfect Christmas gift for Shelby would be.

(13) FROSTY PERSONALITY. The Game of Thrones parody “Winter Is Not Coming” is a French commercial from Greenpeace about climate change.

(14) IMPERIAL TRAILER PARK. If you’re not burnt out on Star Wars stuff, Mark-kitteh recommends a fan-made trailer for Empire Strikes Back, deliberately aiming for a modern trailer style. Mark adds,

For reference, I found a vid of the 1979 original as well. It’s an interesting contrast – the original has a fun high-energy vide, but is a bit too breathless (and spoiler-filled!) for modern tastes.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 12/30 The Scrolls Have Eyes

(1) INDY 5 IS GO. Consequence of Sound has the story.

Walt Disney Company chairman and CEO Bob Iger, has confirmed that a fifth Indiana Jones movie is indeed happening.

During a recent interview with Bloomberg, Iger spent much of his time talking about the franchise possibilities that are opening up with the massive success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. When he got to comparing Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm to that of Pixar and Marvel, however, he noted that taking on Lucasfilm’s intellectual properties also meant “Indiana Jones, by the way, which will be coming.”

(2) ABOUT FACE. Kameron Hurley posted a funny gallery of GIFS to illustrate the “Faces I Make When Reading Reviews”.

A lot of people think authors take reviews personally, and I suppose there are many who do. Those are the folks who should really steer clear of reader reactions to books, or rather, what some readers believe the books say about the author, which is always far more amusing.

There are great reviews with insightful criticism of my work, and glowing reviews about how it changed people’s lives.

But, this being the internet and people trying to poke an author for a meltdown, I’m often asked about my reaction when reading negative reviews of my work. What folks don’t get is that I find most negative reactions endlessly amusing. Not the real criticism that points out real flaws, no, but the reactions that say far more about the reader than the writer.

(3) MIND MELD. SF Signal’s latest Mind Meld, curated by James Aquilone, posts the question “What are your favorite new genre (SF/F/H) TV shows of 2015?” – with replies by Alex ShvartsmanSarah Pinsker, Matthew Johnson, Robert Davis, Carlie St. George, Erin M. Hartshorn, Andrew Liptak, Rob H. Bedford, and Sally Ember, Ed.D.

(4) CHOOSE FEAR. Here’s how David Brin’s Mars mission would start.

Go to Phobos before landing on Mars itself?  I have pushed this idea for twenty years and now some at NASA agree.  Not only is the larger moon far easier to reach and might serve as an ideal research platform, it also has two advantages never mentioned in this article.  It can serve as a logistics hub where supplies might be pre-positioned and tended without complex orbital management.  It also might (some figure) be carbonaceous chondritic material, containing volatiles like water.  If these could be mined and stored and prepared, subsequent Mars landing missions would find all the water and rocket fuel they need, lowering both cost and risk by an order of magnitude.

(5) ZICREE ON FAN-MADE TREK FILMS. Marc Scott Zicree on Facebook.

Science fiction has a long and honorable tradition of fan fiction — in fact, many of the top professional writers started out writing fan fiction — and these fan films are the logical extension of that tradition. More than that, speaking as a professional who’s written extensively for all the major studios and networks, the reason I chose to do “World Enough and Time” was that I felt Michael Reaves and I, along with our creative team, could bring as high a level of professional quality to that project as anything we had ever done for the studios and networks. I wanted to work with George Takei, the powers that be were never going to choose to do the ultimate Sulu story we wanted to tell, and it was something we could share with the whole world.

CBS/Paramount views Star Trek as a money machine, and that drives their decision on what or what not to make. This is perfectly justifiable. But it’s not what led Gene Roddenberry to create Star Trek, nor is it why Renegades or Axanar are being made. I think often taking a step back, gaining perspective and saying, “How can we create a win/win situation here?” is a good idea. It’s what led George Lucas to not only allow Star Wars fan films, but to hold an annual contest recognizing the best ones.

(6) GERROLD ON SUIT STRATEGY. David Gerrold on Facebook:

…But this lawsuit also suggests that CBS and Paramount might be missing the more important point. The fan productions are about the hunger for new Star Trek. They’re not competition as much as they are signs that the franchise is alive and well. Keeping the fans engaged is the best thing that CBS and Paramount can do to keep the franchise alive.

I understand the corporate desire to protect their rights to the franchise, but that cat got out of the bag a long time ago. If they weren’t going to shut down Star Trek New Voyages and Star Trek Continues and Star Trek Renegades and Star Trek Farragut for “copyright infringement” — and those productions use Kirk, Spock, et al, and the original enterprise — then they’re going to have a much harder case with Axanar which barely touches the same specific content of the original series.

I suspect that the lawsuit isn’t about copyright infringement as much as it’s designed to intimidate Axanar’s producers. I’ll be interested to see how this proceeds….

(7) CAVEAT TWITTER. Business Insider reports “Mark Hamill is protecting fans from fake signed ‘Star Wars’ merchandise on Twitter”.

He apologized to fans who have spent money on fraudulent items and urged them to look at real copies to learn how to confirm his signature on their own. When asked why he wasn’t tired of responding to people, he said, “Because I owe it to all true fans to protect them from being victimized by dishonest dealers.”

(8) FORCE A FEW DOLLARS MORE. Steven Harper Piziks opines about writers who are “Riding the Coat Tails of the Force”.

These and other similar articles mean absolutely nothing, of course.  They’re written by people who have no real cred. For example, Lili Loofbourow, who wrote the desperate-sounding “emotional blind spots” article above, is a freelance reporter. She’s not a professor of media studies, or an experienced film reviewer, or a film maker. She has a computer and a contact at Salon.com and ticket stub for THE FORCE AWAKENS. Same goes for all the others. They’re just riding along on TFA’s coat tails, trying to make a few dollars for themselves.

Well, at least I got a blog entry out of it.

(9) PICACIO PLUGS COMPETITION. Today John Picacio commented on George R.R. Martin’s pro artist Hugo recommendations and added six more names (with links to their work).

Thanks so much for the shoutout, George. It’s an honor to be be considered in any year, including this one. That said, winning any major award comes with responsibility along with hardware and glory. It’s always great to win, but as a past winner, I want the Pro Artist Hugo list to reflect the extraordinary range and evolution of the field. So while I’m not recusing myself, I would like to take this opportunity to shine light on some of sf/f’s art stars that have had an outstanding year and deserve Hugo consideration in this category:…

(10) HITCHHIKER’S HOMECOMING. Think how much more effective Lazlar Lyricon 3’s “about” statement would be if it hadn’t stopped with just four reasons for holding this convention? I hope the concom will treat themselves to one or two fifths as part of their launch celebration.

Dateline: The Old Kings Head Pub, London, 21 November 2015. Today, ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha (the Official Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Appreciation Society) Annual General Meeting authorised a committee to run Lazlar Lyricon 3. This is the third (coincidentally) in a series of conventions celebrating The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Douglas Adams, the first having occurred in the 1980s.

Lazlar Lyricon 3 will take place on 9-11 June 2017 at the Quality Hotel in Stoke-on-Trent.

Committee members Stefan Lancaster, Emma J. King, David Haddock and Alan Sullivan, amongst others, were on hand to discuss plans, answer questions and receive the imprimatur of the AGM. They were also given ‘seed money’ of £500 towards the costs, which was greeted with much cheering!

The first two Lazlar Lyricons were part of a series of conventions in the 1980s, 90s and early 00s colloquially called ‘Fun Cons’, which also included the Incons, Dangercons, and several one-off conventions such as Year of the Wombat and Aliens Stole my Handbag. The aspiration is to ensure everyone has a great time (and not panic!), with fun, loosely Hitchhikers-inspired programme items such as crab stomping and towel-based martial arts. The announcement that the first and foremost in appointments will be a ‘beer liaison’ was greeted with more cheering!

(11) SPEAKING OF LAUNCHING. Gail Z. Martin on “Making the Most of Your Launch Day” at Magical Words.

Book launches are on my mind since Vendetta, the second book in the Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy series, just launched yesterday. So I thought it might be fun to pull the curtain back on what can go into a book launch, and let you pick and choose the elements you feel best suit your own circumstances.

Social media is is your biggest bullhorn to the world. Long before your book comes out, you should be creating a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Wattpad, a blog, and a web site. These are the places you can gather your tribe–the people who have read and liked your work, your friends and others who wish you well and are happy to help spread the word. Make sure you let your friends and followers know in advance when the book is coming out, and how they can help.

(12) ON RECONCILIATION. Joe Vasicek’s “Response to Steve Davidson on Reconciling with the Puppies” is a commentary on Steve Davidson’s Amazing Stories post “Reconciling with Puppies – ‘…to dram, the impossible dream, to reach the unreachable star…”.

Mr. Davidson’s post is interesting, and worth reading. We obviously don’t see eye to eye on a number of things, but it would be rather petty to go through our disagreements line by line. Instead, the part that I want to respond to is his call to action at the end:

Want to reconcile?  Here’s what puppies must do.

1: Stop scamming the system.  If you want to recommend works that you think are worthy of the award, go ahead and do so.  But drop the political agenda (you’re dragons are imaginary) and eliminate the hateful, snarky commentary

If you’re looking for “hateful, snarky commentary,” I’m sure that you’ll be able to find it. On the fringes of both sides, there are a lot of people with blogs and strong opinions. I’d count myself as one of them—while I align with the Sad Puppies, I’m not a leader or organizer by any stretch, just another guy with opinions and a blog. Don’t be so quick to look for ammunition, because there’s a lot of it lying around.

Kate Paulk, one of the Sad Puppy organizers, has pointed out that Sad Puppies 4 is open to nomination suggestions from anyone, which appears to be what you’re calling for. And honestly, I think a lot of us don’t want to see conservative writers edge out everyone else so much as to see them go head to head with more liberal writers on a more equal playing field. It’s not about slaying imaginary dragons so much as breaking down walls.

So on this first point, Mr. Davidson and I tend to be in agreement. This seems like a reasonable step for reconciliation, and it’s one that the Sad Puppies 4 already appear to be taking.

(13) YOUR RANCOR MAY VARY. Brad Torgersen’s “Sad Puppies and the future”, prompted by Martin’s “reconciliation” post, says many familiar things.

Many people have already seen George R. R. Martin’s optimistic (and well-intended) commentary at his LiveJournal. However, just as with George’s hood ornament Alfie awards (also well-intended) there is more than one way for a thing to be perceived. My perception — and I am not alone in this — of George’s desire for an end to the rancor, is that George still seems to think that a) the rancor was flowing almost entirely one-way, from the Puppies’ side to the Trufan side, and also b) none of the Puppies are themselves fans. Not Fans (caps f) and certainly not Trufans. No. Puppies are still an outsider bunch, who carry an outsider’s stigma.

There is also a bit too much parentalism in George’s tone: dear kids, I hope you’ve learned your lesson, now wipe those dirty looks off your faces and come give your mother a hug!

(14) DO YOU FEEL SAFER? And in the comments, national security consultant Arlan Andrews, Sr. gives MidAmeriCon II members something to look forward to:

I for one will never forgive anyone who appeared in that pre-Awards “90-minute-hate-the-Puppies” TV show, nor anyone who called me a neoNazi. Though some were, I had thought, nice acquaintances if not actual long-time friends, their behavior before, during and after the Hugos simply meant that I shut them out of any future consideration of any kind, meaning no purchasing of their products, no voting for their works, no attendance at any function at which they are honored or prominent, no reviews of anything they are involved with, and no defense of any criticism of them. As a very minor player in fandom/prodom, despite 60+ years of fanlife and 35+ years of prolife, those people will seldom notice nor long remember what I do here, but if thousands of others do likewise, the effects may be meaningful. All of the SP3 experience this year has been enlightening, and a tiny reflection of the national schism between those who cherish Freedom and those banding together to enforce Collectivism. I thank Brad and Larry and the Jovians for graciousness in the face of fire. And next Worldcon, I will definitely attend. (Does Missouri have Concealed Carry?)

(15) HOOKY HEADLINE. “9 things ‘Starship Troopers’ totally nailed about today’s technology”  is a pretty bold claim about a movie that showed space infantry fighting in shoulder-to-shoulder formations like at the Battle of Waterloo.

(16) CHRISTMAS CONFLATION. When I read the headline of io9’s post “Chewbacca Comic Finally Answers A Question Star Wars Fans Have Pondered For Years” I mentally filled the blank with, “Does Chewie sleep with his whiskers outside or in?”

(17) REEL CONSPIRACY. At Star Wars Minute, “How Kylo Ren Got Darth Vader’s Helmet.” A fan theory based on some events in Disney/Lucasfilm comics and novels.

(18) TONIGHT ON JEOPARDY! A Bradbury-themed question.

Literary Characters for $200

Answer: Beatty is the captain of the fireman in this Bradbury Novel

Question: What is Fahrenheit 451

(19) IF YOU WERE A DINOSAUR…BUT WAIT, I AM. “Retaliation for getting coal in my stocking!” says YouTube poster Ralph the Rex.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/6 Beyond the pixelated event horizon

(1) Put together “William Shatner” and “flying” and I’m going to think of the “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” episode of The Twilight Zone. Not Scotland’s former first minister Alex Salmond — he thinks of a different Shatner role when he flies, and it got him into trouble.

Alex Salmond found himself in a bizarre situation with airline staff after booking on to a flight under the name James Kirk – the captain of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise.

The former Scottish first minister caused confusion when British Airways initially refused to let him board a flight at Heathrow under the sci-fi alias.

The Mail on Sunday reported that it took a series of telephone calls for the senior politician to persuade the airline that he should be allowed on board.

Salmond said he often travelled under a false name for security reasons and as a Trekkie – as fans of the show are known – he liked to use Kirk’s name, partly as a joke but also because it was easy to remember….

He told the Mail on Sunday: “It was all sorted out. I just wanted BA to ‘beam me up, Scotty’.”

(2) “Lines from The Princess Bride that Double as Comments on Freshman Composition Papers” by Jennifer Simonson on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

[Last 3 of 9.]

“Skip to the end!”

“That is the sound of ultimate suffering.”

“Inconceivable!”

(3) Ursula K. Le Guin will appear at UCLA on Sunday, November 15 at 4 p.m. Tickets from $19-$49.

Incomparable storyteller and worldweaver Ursula K. Le Guin joins us for a conversation celebrating her incredible oeuvre, hosted by Meryl Friedman, CAP UCLA Director of Education and Special Initiatives.

(4) A report on Diana Pavlac Glyer’s talk about the Inklings’ “dangerous friendships”, by Scott Keith.

I recently finished the C. S. Lewis biography authored by Alister McGrath entitled, C. S. Lewis – A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet. I highly recommend it. Over the weekend, I also attended The Great Conversation (TCG) C. S. Lewis symposium. At the symposium, Diana Pavlac Glyer, professor of English at Azusa Pacific University gave a talk on the influence of the Inklings on the thought of C. S. Lewis. I am struck by the extent to which great writers like Lewis and Tolkien seemed to use what McGrath calls, “midwives” when writing their great works. Or as Glyer put it, “We all need dangerous friends.”….

Gradually, the schedule of Inklings’ meetings became regularized, so they generally met on Tuesday mornings at the Eagle and Child pub (which they called the “Bird and Baby” or just the “Bird”) and at Lewis’s study rooms in the college where he was an Oxford Don, Magdalen College, on Thursday evenings. At the pub they smoked their pipes, drank, and had good food almost like hobbits. While they sat in the bar, they talked about language and literature. Others in the group included Owen Barfield, Warren Lewis, Nevill Coghill, Hugo Dyson, and Charles Williams.

As it is described by those in the know, the Inklings were not afraid to mix it up a bit. These men were not all alike. Lewis was brash and boisterous. Tolkien seems to have been more reserved and introspective. They did not agree on many things. Tolkien is said to have believed that Lewis’s use of allegory in his Ransom Trilogy and Chronicles of Narnia, was perhaps too obvious. In fact, they often disagreed on issues of morality. McGrath explains that Tolkien believed that Lewis’s view concerning civil marriage was against the teaching of the church. Thus, the evidence points to the fact that Tolkien disapproved of Lewis’s marriage to Joy Davidman.

(5) Gregory N. Hullender of Rocket Stack Rank has responded to Neil Clarke’s recent editorial “The Sad Truth About Short Fiction Reviews”, where Clarke opined that short-fiction reviews are of little value.

In Hullender’s RSR post “Getting More From Short Fiction Reviews” he draws a distinction between a review system and a recommendation system. While conceding that Clarke is probably right that reviews alone aren’t worth a lot to most people, he argues that as part of a recommendation system, reviews can be very valuable indeed.

(6) Scientists think they may soon be able to answer “What color was the T-Rex?”. From NPR –

INSKEEP: That’s Jakob Vinther of the University of Bristol in Britain. Vinther and scientists from Virginia Tech confirmed traces of melanin in fossils dating back millions of years, and that melanin may provide a vital clue.

VINTHER: The kinds of hair colors that we see in humans, ranging from black to ginger, are made by melanin.

MONTAGNE: Bits of melanin are found inside cells, and the shape of those bits says something about the color of the creature.

VINTHER: If you have a black melanosome, they’re shaped like a sausage whereas if you have a red melanosome, then they’re shaped like a little meatball.

INSKEEP: Turns out, this meatball and sausage theme is pretty consistent across nature.

VINTHER: I myself is quite sort of ginger in my appearance. My beard is very, very sort of reddish. And if you took a look at the melanosomes in my beard, they will be shaped like little meatballs. And then if you have, for example, an American robin, they have this reddish-brown chest and they would also have these kinds of meatballs.

MONTAGNE: So the researchers are presuming the shapes may also have matched the color of creatures from the distant past. The team checked the melanin from two species of bat that lived almost 50 million years ago. They were a reddish-brown color.

(7) The Western Science Fiction Association maintains a convention listing page, and Stephanie Bannon invites conrunners to send their events for inclusion. Contact info at the site.

(8) It never occurred to me the Archie characters were based on anybody in particular. A documentary filmmaker tracked down the real life Betty.

In 1939, 18-year-old Betty Tokar Jankovich briefly dated, and quickly dumped, a comic book artist named Bob Montana. Though she quickly forgot about the young illustrator, he never forgot about her. More than seven decades later, Jankovich was shocked to discover that an ex-boyfriend she only vaguely remembered had named a character after her: She was the inspiration for Betty Cooper from the Archie comics.

Jankovich would likely never have known about her Archie connection if not for filmmaker Gerald Peary. A documentarian, journalist, and Archie super-fan, Peary decided to research the real-life inspiration for the comic book characters. He didn’t expect to actually meet any living real-life members of the gang—he just wanted to find out if they’d really existed.

(9) Sales prices of some items in Profiles in History’s recent Hollywood Auction have been made public.

The “slave Leia” costume worn by Carrie Fisher in Return of the Jedi sold for $96,000.

The costume — once colorfully described by Fisher in a Newsweek article as “what supermodels will eventually wear in the seventh ring of hell” — came with a certificate of authenticity from Star Wars designer Richard Miller.

CBS News has results for 22 other pop culture items. Among them:

  • The 16-inch miniature Rebel Blockade Runner, seen in the opening moments of Star Wards (1977), sold for $450,000.
  • Leonard Nimoy’s velour tunic from the second season of the original Star Trek series went for $84,000.
  • George Reeves’ gray knit wool costume from The Adventures of Superman, when it was filmed in black-and-white, fetched $216,000.
  • The signature stylized “S” insignia is in dark brown on a field of crème. An “undersuit” made of durable synthetic satin-like fabric featured a sculpted rubber muscles. Also includes a molded fiberglass “flying pan” to hold Reeves when he flew, after he refused to hang from wires.
  • The duck that dropped down when someone said the secret word on Groucho Marx’ You Bet Your Life brought $16,800.
  • Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones fedora from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade sold for $90,000 and his bullwhip, used in the first three movies, sold for $204,000.

(10) John Ringo, who has said before there will be a continuation of the March Upcountry series, co-authored with David Weber, had a status report on Facebook. I’ve enjoyed the series so I’m glad to hear it, although fans should expect to wait another couple years before seeing more of Empire of Man.

(Another funny. David had just broken his wrist and was just starting to use voice-to-text to write. So at one point in an email I got the line ‘I’m looking forward to senior manuscript.’ Took me forever to figure out ‘senior’ was Dragon’s attempt to translate a Southern accent saying ‘Seeing your.’) 🙂

Anyway, most of the ‘middle stuff’ is politics. So I’m going to write what I know (blowing shit up) and send it to David then say ‘David, this is your specialty. You figure it out. Looking forward to senior manuscript.’ 🙂

I’ll probably end up writing it, Junior Author’s job, but it will give David a skeleton to hang the ‘politics’ on and come up with some ideas. 🙂

So the answer to ‘what next’ is Empire of Man. But don’t get your hopes up. It will only be about half done when I’m done and currently the schedule is blocked with other stuff out to 2017.

(11) Previously unreleased Apollo photos, rather spectacular in places — “8,400 High-Res Images From The Apollo Moon Missions Were Just Put Online – Here Are The Best”.

Apollo 9

Apollo 9

(12) In a news flash apropos of our latest round of brackets, Deadline.com ran an article “HBO Confirms ‘Preliminary Discussions’ For ‘Watchmen’ TV Series”. HBO has spoken with Zack Snyder, director of the 2009 movie Watchmen, about a potential series.

(13) Pepsi will release Back to the Future Part II-inspired Pepsi Perfect, but like Doc Brown’s DeLorean, the price will be sky high.

Pepsi announced it is paying tribute to Back to the Future Part II with the release of Pepsi Perfect, the formerly fictional beverage featured in the film.

The company announced Pepsi Perfect, which contains Pepsi Made with Real Sugar and features packaging consistent with the beverage served to Marty McFly in Back to the Future Part II‘s fictional version of 2015, will be available starting Oct. 21.

The company said fans thirsty from a hard day riding on their hoverboards will be able to buy the limited-edition Pepsis at a price of $20.15 for a 16.9-ounce bottle and visitors to New York ComicCon will have an opportunity to get their hands on the collectable beverages early starting Oct. 9.

Must be the law of supply and demand at work — they’re making only 6,500 bottles.

(14) Today is election day at North Pole, Alaska and a familiar name is on the ballot. Seriously. So they say.

Santa Claus is running for the North Pole City Council.

The North Pole Clerk’s office announced on Thursday that the former North Pole Chamber of Commerce president, whose driver’s license really does bear his legal name of Santa Claus, is one of two candidates who have launched write-in campaigns for City Council. The other is La Nae Bellamy.

The North Pole City Council has two seats up for election this year, but no one filed for office during the regular filing period. Candidates run as a group for the at-large seats, with the top vote-getters declared the winners. Claus and Bellamy will need voters to write in their names next Tuesday, Oct. 6.

The lack of candidates appears to be a problem throughout the Fairbanks North Star Borough. The two candidates for the Fairbanks City Council are uncontested, as are two school board seats. North Pole Mayor Bryce Ward is also uncontested in his re-election bid.

[Thanks to Mark sans surname, Locus Online, Ansible Links, Gregory N. Hullender, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day IanP.]

Earhart Goggles Top Item at Auction

The goggles Amelia Earhart wore during her historic 1932 solo transatlantic flight commanded $141,600 at Profiles in History’s October 8-9 auction. The goggles were the most avidly-sought flight-related item up for sale.  Among others, astronaut Gus Grissom’s worn Mercury flight suit brought $47,200 and the baseball cap Neil Armstrong wore after splashdown and recovery from the Apollo 11 mission went for $14,160.

Many collectibles of interest to fans also were on the block. The early Apple Macintosh 128 computer given to Gene Roddenberry by Apple Computer sold for $8,260. Walker Edmiston’s archive of Time for Beany show puppets and memorabilia went for $70,800. A John Steed derby hat from The Avengers yielded $57,500. A Harrison Ford signature hero “Indiana Jones” bullwhip from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade fetched $56,050. 

All amounts include the hammer price plus the 18% buyer’s premium.

The full press release appears after the jump.

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Time to Interview Obsessed Indy Fans

Riding the coattails of the new Harrison Ford movie, a Seattle paper predictably ran this story about an obsessed Indiana Jones fan.

The genial and otherwise normal Kirkland man is a fan-extraordinaire of Indiana Jones and his celebrity alter-ego, Harrison Ford — and he’s got the movie posters, golden fertility idol, Indy pinball machine, miniature Ark of the Covenant, action figures and autographed photos to prove it.

It’s no longer surprising when I don’t know the subjects of these articles. Science fiction is the mainstream in America.

Once this type of thing was more uncommon, and I admit I did know the fan with the humongous collection of Star Wars stuff. And I had seen the fellow who changed his name to James T. Kirk and always wore gold velour shirts. Kirk also decorated his white Ford van to mimic a shuttlecraft, which attracted unfortunate attention from fascinated Canadian border guards when he drove to a Vancouver Westercon. They pulled him over to be searched while hundreds of other vehicles, including the van I was in, got waved right through.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the link.]