Pixel Scroll 8/2/18 Where Late The Sweet Pixels Scrolled

(1) F&SF. Gordon Van Gelder has unveiled the cover for F&SF’s Sept/Oct. 2018 issue. The cover art is by Michael Garland.

(2) SPINER BECOMES A SUPER VP. ScienceFiction.com has the results — “Data From Polling Numbers Are In: Brent Spiner Elected To Join ‘Supergirl’”.

Brent Spiner (‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’,’Independance Day’) has just been elected by the casting department of The CW’s ‘Supergirl‘ to join the show. His role? Vice President of the United States! That’s right folks, in the fourth season of ‘Supergirl’ were going to have Spiner joining the cast as a regular to work with Lynda Carter (‘Wonder Woman’) who is the President of the United States.

I suspect that she won’t be staying in the Oval Office for long though as Spiner’s role is being described as:

Adept and politically minded, Vice President Baker makes for an unlikely leader but steps up in a big way when his country needs him most

(3) ROGUE AGENT. Publishers Weekly listens as “Agent Danielle Smith’s Former Clients Speak Out”. Quite a bit of material here.

The children’s book publishing world has been roiling for the past week over the disclosure that Danielle Smith, the principal of Lupine Grove Creative, an agency specializing in children’s and YA authors, acted more like a literary grifter than a literary agent. Since Smith emailed a letter to her clients on July 24, confessing that recently she had “not handled a situation as well as I should have” and thus was dissolving the agency effective immediately, 19 former clients have reached out to PW, sharing tales of a pattern of malfeasance that has shaken their confidence and adversely affected their careers.

According to some former clients, she claimed to have had offers in hand that didn’t exist, such as, one author requesting anonymity disclosed, a $50,000 two-book deal. She informed others that editors had expressed interest in their submissions, but subsequently told them that either the editors had then lost interest or had outright rejected those submissions. Clients also complained about Smith’s refusal to communicate with them honestly and in a timely fashion, as well as the lack of transparency, including a reluctance to render submission lists to them upon request. Several clients allege that she even forged emails from editors and passed this correspondence along to them.

(4) CALL FOR EISNER IMPROVEMENTS. Each award has and needs its critics. In “Comic-Con’s Eisner Judging and the New ‘Comics & Design Awards’” Michael Dooley of printmag.com pinpoints some shortcomings and workarounds he’s identified.

…Every year, Comic-Con International’s awards committee assembles a panel of a half-dozen or so judges. Each bring a unique interest, perspective, and expertise: creator, scholar, critic/reviewer, retailer, librarian, and a Comic-Con rep. Together, they critically winnow down an enormous amount of published material to arrive at a small handful under each category. CalState Northridge professor Charles Hatfield, who was part of the selection committee a few years ago, has described the process as “like going to Comics Heaven—if Heaven is a place where you work really hard, fence with a table full of smart, demanding, and dedicated people, and learn something about your own biases in the process.” He was also pleased to learn what he describes as “the importance of voting past my prejudices.” Now there’s an attribute that’s practically nonexistent among the voters.

Diligence and dedication such as this is why anyone in search of recommend reading should check out all the nominees in all categories of interest. You also might jump to Wonder Women of the Eisner Awards, my feature from last year that included several judges’ choices who didn’t bring home a trophy but who are nevertheless not to be overlooked. However, locating worthwhile info on these artists and publications is much easier said than done. You can’t rely on the official site; its design is a frightful mess, and very difficult to navigate quickly and efficiently. Plus, its page of nominees is merely a basic bullet point listing….

(5) OPEN THE GARAGE BAY DOOR SAL. Adweek shows how an insurer is capitalizing on the latest high-tech fears: “See a Smart Home Go Rogue in New State Farm Campaign”.

In the ad an unnerved husband, Dave, recounts to State Farm agent Amy all the ways SAL has been majorly unhelpful, including closing the garage door on their car, turning on the in-home sprinklers, and erroneously blasting The Ring instead of the requested music. Amy assures Dave that while State Farm can’t fix SAL, they can certainly cover the home and auto damages. For anyone who has ever had to angrily repeat a simple question for Siri syllable-by-syllable, this scenario feels all too plausible. Truly, we could all use an Amy to assure us during our more frustrating brushes with technology that everything will be fine.

 

(6) CONTESTED GROUND. In Luke Shelton’s reading of Lord of the Rings, “Caradhras Changes Everything”.

I have always had inordinately strong opinions about the passage about Caradhras. In fact, it was changes made to this episode that made me shout “no!” when I went to see Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of the Rings in theaters.

I was familiar with other literature that gave a sense of autonomy to nature before I read LotR, and I was excited to see that Tolkien does the same throughout the text, even before getting to the fully autonomous Treebeard. As a child, I loved the idea that trees could have volition and emotions. Tolkien takes this wondrous idea and pushes it one step further in the Caradhras episode. As the snows on Caradhras foil the attempt of the Fellowship to pass over the mountain, this exchange occurs…

Here Boromir tries to attribute the malevolent weather to Sauron or one of his agent; however, but Aragorn and Gimli are quick to halt this impulse and clarify that there are other forces at play in the world. Gimli goes so far as to specify that the will is probably that of Caradhras himself.

I cannot emphasize this enough: this passage changed my worldview the first time I read it. To ascribe volition to not just plants, but to all of nature, to the very earth itself! This was a truly awe-inspiring thought for me. I remember walking around for days thinking about the ramifications of this idea. What does it mean to till an earth that could feel the cuts? What does it mean to dynamite a mountain that can fight back?

(7) WOTF ADDS FIRST READER. Kary English comes aboard — “Writers of the Future Announces Kary English as New First Reader”.

Over its 34 year history, the Contest has recognized 404 winners who have gone on to publish 1,150 novels and 4,450 short stories. Of these, 192 are still active with a writing career—that’s over 40%. Twelve of these Contest winners have gone on to become NYT bestselling authors: Dave Wolverton (aka David Farland), Sean Williams, Jo Beverly, Nancy Farmer, Lisa Smedman, Karen Joy Fowler, Patrick Rothfuss, Tim Myers, Eric Flint, Dean Wesley Smith, Tobias Buckell and Elizabeth Wein. And Contest Winners have garnered 155 major awards. Collectively, the winners of the contests have sold over 60 million books over the years.

And with the last 4 volumes of Writers of the Future hitting national bestseller lists—and each of the winners becoming national bestselling authors and illustrators as a result—contest entries continue to increase each quarter with entries from around the world.

Dave Wolverton, himself a Writers of the Future winner from the 3rd year of the contest, is the Coordinating Judge for the Writer Contest and was asked to help in the selection of a 1st reader to keep pace with the expansion. “Obviously, I’ve had a number of amazing authors that I’ve helped mentor over the years, and so when I considered who I might ask to help out as a first reader, I really suffered from an embarrassment of riches. A dozen names almost instantly leapt to mind, but Kary English was right near the top.

He continued, “I wanted someone with a great eye for style, someone who understood storytelling well. Kary, as an award-winning author, has proven over and over to have a great eye, but more than that, her strong support for and commitment to helping new authors spoke volumes….”

(8) 1970S SFF HISTORY. In “Fighting Erasure: Women SF Writers of the 1970s, Part X”, James Davis Nicoll winds up his Tor.com series with a segment covering “T” to the end of the alphabet —

Alison Tellure had a very small but very memorable body of work. “Lord of All it Surveys,” “Skysinger,” “Green-Eyed Lady, Laughing Lady,” and “Low Midnight” are all set on an alien world dominated by a single, vast, godlike creature. Existence there is complicated by the presence of competing, considerably tinier beings not entirely unlike humans. Contributors over on my blog, More Words, Deeper Hole, dug up biographical details from old Analog Biologs and con appearances, but the exchange raised more questions than it answered. As far as I know, Tellure never had a single author collection, but readers might be able to track down the June 1977 issue of Analog, which contains “Lord of All it Surveys.”

(9) THE MAGIC NUMBER. The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog hails “5 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Spoofs That Stand on Their Own”. For example —

The Last Adventure of Constance Verity, by A. Lee Martinez
Sometimes, having a fairy godmother really backfires. That is certainly the case for Constance Verity, blessed with (cursed by?) a life of being the world’s greatest adventurer. She’s got a history of adventuring filled with just about every genre trope and cliché you could imagine, and she’s on a mission to end it—by killing that darned godmother. This final quest puts the idea of destiny—and the monomyth—into its crosshairs with a wink and an absurdist sense of humor—Martinez’ specialties.

(10) GRINDSTAFF OBIT. Classic Trek had a sound as well as a look because of creators like him: ComicBook.com has the story — “Doug Grindstaff, Creator of Iconic Sounds of ‘Star Trek,’ Dies at 87”.

Grindstaff worked with Jack Finlay and Joseph Sorokin on Star Trek. Together they created the background sounds for the iconic series, including the iconic red alert klaxon and the sound the doors make when they slide open. They also developed the sounds of space battle in the Star Trek universe, transporter materialization, and sickbay scanners.

In a 2016 interview with Audible Range, Grindstaff discussed working with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.

“And he wanted sounds everywhere. One time I asked him, ‘Don’t you think we’re getting too cartoony?’ Because I felt it should be a little more dignified, but he wanted sound for everything. For example, I worked on one scene where [Dr. McCoy] is giving someone a shot. Gene says, ‘Doug, I’m missing one thing. The doctor injects him and I don’t hear the shot.’ I said, ‘You wouldn’t hear a shot, Gene.’ He said, ‘No, no, this is Star Trek, we want a sound for it.’

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born August 2 — Edward Furlong, 41. John Connor in Terminator 2: Judgment DayPet Sematary II (Cat Eldridge notes, “Courtesy of knowing the on-site medics, I visited the props room fort he original Pet Sematary — weird seeing actual props of dead people and lots of pets managed horribly”), various Terminator shorts, The Crow: Wicked Prayer, and Star Trek: Renegades (“…which I think is fanfic.”)
  • Born August 2 — Sam Worthington, 42. Avatar film franchise, Clash of The Titans and its sequel Wrath Of The Titans, and The Titan, a space exploration film that may or may be a horror film.
  • Born August 2 — Simon Kinberg, 45. Genre director for a very long list of projects including the forthcoming Logan’s Run, an X-Men one-off called Multiple Man, the Boba Fett project, The Martian, the Legion series, and the animated Star Wars: Rebels series. Also the writer for another X-Men one-off titled  X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
  • Born August 2 — Jacinda Barrett, 46. Genre roles include series work in Campfire TalesZero Hour, Millennium, NightMan and Hercules: The Legendary Journey.
  • Born August 2 — Matthew Del Negro, 46. Genre roles in Teen WolfStargate: Atlantis and Eastwick series, horror films such as Ghost Image and Trailer Park of Terror.
  • Born August 2 — Kevin Smith, 48. Well-loved comics writer with work for DC, Marvel and other venues with work on both Daredevil  Green Arrow. He directed the pilot for the CW supernatural comedy series Reaper, produced and appeared in reality television series Comic Book Men, and appeared as a character in the animated Superman: Doomsday as a commentary on a Superman unused script he wrote.
  • Born August 2 — Mary-Louise Parker, 54. Genre roles are the R.I.P.D. fil, The Spiderwyck Chronicles and Persephone, a generation ship film that may or may not happen.

(12) TRUE CONFESSION. JY Yang shares a writing crisis —

(13) IN THE ISS LIBRARY. The Independent has “The Book List: What do astronauts read on the International Space Station?” Plenty of sff, including 11 Bujold novels and 13 David Weber books.

The astronauts on the International Space Station are obviously busy people, but even busy people need some time to relax and unwind. In addition to a well-stocked film library (particularly strong on movies with a space theme, including 2001: A Space Odyssey and Gravity), there are also plenty of books in their informal library.

Some are brought up by the astronauts – Susan Helms was allowed ten paperbacks and chose Gone With the Wind, Vanity Fair and War and Peace in her carryon. Others come with space tourists such as billionaire businessman Charles? Simonyi, who brought Faust and Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

(14) ROT-180. Bounding Into Comics analyzed a sly slam against JDA — “Nasty Personal Attack Against Jon Del Arroz Appears in Dynamite Comics and Atari’s ‘Centipede’ Comic” [Internet Archive link].

Comic book writer and the lead singer of Say Anything Max Bemis, artist Eoin Marron, and letterer Taylor Esposito decided to use Atari’s Centipede intellectual property in a Dynamite Comics published book to attack fellow comic book writer Jon Del Arroz.

What’s supposed to be a balloon full of alien gibberish becomes all too easy to understand if you turn it upside-down.

In Centipede #4, which was published on October 25, 2017, Bemis writes, “Jon Del Arroz is a never was fat piece of sh**who blames everyone but himself for his ineptness.”

As you can tell Bemis and letterer Taylor Esposito tried to disguise the personal attack through an alien language. Not only did they disguise it as an alien language they also inverted it.

We’ve inverted the image so you can read it better.

Several more examples from the same comic are at the post.

JDA accepted the publisher’s statement that they knew nothing about it, securing an apology and some publicity in compensation — “Official Statement On The Personal Attacks In Dynamite Entertainment’s Centipede Book” [Internet Archive link].

Last night I discovered that a print book of Atari’s Centipede property referenced me in multiple places by name in an effort to defame and diminish me as a comic creator and a human being….

However, I have been in contact with Dynamite Entertainment, who apologized themselves and said they were unaware of the situation and that it slipped past editorial by mistake. They also say it’s been corrected for the trade paperback edition. They also very cordially said they would support my Flying Sparks indiegogo effort as I’m trying to launch my own comic career.

I believe them.

It would have been very easy for Dynamite to ignore me and to let this go, but they in their quick response and quick taking action to remedy this are doing the right thing. The company was hoodwinked by a rogue contractor who has lost the trust of the entire industry by inserting personal animus into a book, and saying the most horrific things about a fellow creator. They understand this, they are doing what they can to make it right even though the hurtful damage has been done.

I do not want my fans and followers to boycott Dynamite or take any action to try to harm them. As I said, the company has been consummate professionals to me and I appreciate their efforts they’re going to to make this right….

(15) YOU’RE FROM THE SIXTIES. Rosemary Benton considers “[August 2, 1963] Sinister Geometry (Daniel F. Galouye’s Lords of the Psychon)” at Galactic Journey.

But what if the shift in humanity’s daily life is beyond explanation, bordering on paranormal? And what if the alien force that is bringing about that change is so far removed from known biology that it appears extra-dimensional? Daniel F. Galouye’s new book, Lords of the Psychon, takes the reader to that terrifying reality with an invader that is unnervingly simple – a large, floating, metallic sphere – and their mission which can be surmised as absorbing compatible human minds and letting the rest die in the grip of mind shredding madness.

(16) ON THE ROAD. They came, they saw, they rocked? “First Stonehenge residents came from west Wales”. Isotopes identify oldest cremains as coming from same area as the stones themselves. No explanation for the unusual eastward movement.

… While it is already known that the “bluestones” that were first used to build Stonehenge were transported from 150 miles (240 km) away in modern-day Pembrokeshire, almost nothing is known about the people involved.

The scientists’ work shows that both people and materials were moving between the regions and that, for some of these people, the move was permanent.

When their lives ended, their cremated remains were placed under the ancient monument in what is now Wiltshire. …

However, Dr Rick Schulting, senior author on the study, said: “These must have been important people. Being buried at Stonehenge is the ancient equivalent of being interred in Westminster Cathedral today.”

He said: “The evidence suggests that some of the people buried at Stonehenge must have spent much of their last 10 or so years in Wales. Although we tend to think that immigration is a new thing, these people were obviously able to travel substantial distances across difficult terrain.”

(17) SLIP SLIDING AWAY. BBC knows “How Greenland scorched its underside”. All of Greenland slid over the hotspot that later created and is now augmenting Iceland.

It’s like the underside of the island got a good roasting in the distant past and still has the big scar to prove it.

That hotspot, by the way, is the one which today is building Iceland in the middle of the North Atlantic.

The plume of broiling rock rising from deep inside the Earth has broken through the thin ocean floor at Iceland’s location and is now creating new land with regular eruptions of lava.

(18) A THOUSAND AND ONE FLAVORS. “The world’s oldest ice cream?” The BBC video feature says Iran had ice storage to make chilled treats over 2000 years ago.

(19) ROBOTS IN THE MUSEUM. The Robot Show is on display at the Museum of Art and History in Lancaster, California from August 4 through September 26.

The Robot Show is comprised of eight exhibitions exploring the place robots, and other forms of artificial intelligence, have in a contemporary social landscape – from popular culture to nature and spirituality. Featured in the Main Gallery at MOAH is a retrospective of Emmy-nominated artist and animator, Dave Pressler. The Robot Show also showcases the solo exhibitions of Jeff Soto, Patrick McGilligan, Robert Nelson and Karen Hochman Brown, with site specific installations by artists Cristopher Cichocki, Alexander Kritselis, and Chenhung Chen.

Dave Pressler’s 20-year retrospective, Idea to Object, is a narrative of his career, which focuses on how he made his ideas a reality. Pressler’s robots are fixtures in popular culture and he is best known for his Emmy-nominated Nickelodeon series, Robot and Monster.  “Pressler’s work appeals to audiences of all ages,” says Andi Campognone, Curator at MOAH. “His work is a great example of the combination of strong contemporary concepts and expert craft, and we are so excited to exhibit his work for both the Lancaster and greater Los Angeles communities.”

Jeff Soto, in the East Gallery, is a pop-surrealist who also features robots prominently in his bold paintings and murals, which are meant to evoke nostalgia and the natural environment. In the South Gallery, Cristopher Cichocki furthers this connection between the artificial and the natural with his newest body of work, Divisions of Land and Sea, which combines audiovisual performance and black light painting into an immersive environment. Karen Hochman Brown’s digital photographic compositions will be highlighted in the North Gallery joining Robert Nelson’s robot paintings in the Wells Fargo Gallery along with Patrick McGilligan’s work in the Museum’s lobby and atrium. Alexander Kritselis will feature one of his multimedia installations in windows of the Museum’s Hernando and Fran Marroquin Family Classroom. Rounding out this exhibition is Chenhung Chen, a Los Angeles-based artist, who will be installing her technology-based towers in the Vault Gallery.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/31/18 There’s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvish

(1) BOOKS PEOPLE BOUNCED OFF. On Bustle.com, Charlotte Ahlin takes a look at “The 15 Most Frequently Unfinished Reads, According To Goodreads’ ‘Popular Abandoned Books’ Shelf” and encourages at least a subset of people to try again. The list includes many genre works, but genre or not, Ahlin gives you a paragraph about each laying out why you might (or might not) enjoy the book more than you thought.

We’ve all left a book unfinished in our time. And honestly, I get it. Forcing yourself to slog through a book you don’t like is a pretty pointless endeavor. Reading should be fun, not a joyless exercise in seeming smart/trendy/interesting. But if you have it in your heart, some of these oft-abandoned books are actually worth giving a second (or third) chance:

1             The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling
2             Catch-22, Joseph Heller
3             A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin
4             American Gods, Neil Gaiman
5             The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
6             Fifty Shades of Grey, E.L. James
7             Outlander, Diana Gabaldon
8             The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt
9             Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke
10          Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
11          Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
12          Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, Gregory Maguire
13          One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
14          Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert
15          The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson

(2) LEADERS WHO READ SFF. POLITICO reports that two European Commissioners are science fiction fans. Valdis Dombrovskis (Latvia) is reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman, while Pierre Moscovici (France) recommends George Orwell’s 1984, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven“POLITICO Brussels Playbook: Death by a thousand cuts — What presidents are reading — Go full Orbán”.

(3) PUTTING A GOOD FACE ON IT. When Bill Oberst Jr. does his Bradbury show in 2019, this is the creator who will make the illusion convincing: “Jeff Farley Recreates Ray Bradbury for Touring Stage Portrayal of Sci-Fi Author”Broadway World has the story.

Jeff Farley‘s love letter to Ray Bradbury will soon be on Bill Oberst Jr.‘s face. Special effects makeup artist and Primetime Emmy Award Nominee Farley has just completed the sculpt for Oberst’s prosthetic transformation into Bradbury in the authorized stage portrayal of the beloved author, Ray Bradbury Live (forever.)

“This project is the culmination of four decades of professional experience, and the most exciting of my career,” Farley said. “I am proud to help my friend bring his vision to life. Bill says I’m his Dick Smith and he’s my Hal Holbrook. We laugh, but that really is the level of illusion we’re aiming for.” Smith’s prosthetics for Holbrook’s Mark Twain Tonight broke new SFX ground in 1967. For his part, Oberst says he’s “ecstatic” about what Farley (whose resume stretches from BABYLON 5, WOLF and Demolition Man to Quarry, Pod and Imitation Girl) is creating. “Jeff is a bit of a recluse and he’s very selective,” said Oberst “so I’m over the moon to have him crafting this illusion.”

(4) SF BOOK QUIZ. The Sporcle challenge: “Can you name the 100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books to Read in a Lifetime, according to Amazon?” You’ve got 16 minutes. And it’s not enough to know a good book by the authors – you have to get the ones that made the list. Filers have been playing all day since Giant Panda dropped the link in comments.

(5) ONCE MORE INTO THE LIFEBOAT DEAR FRIENDS. Slightly better than cancelled, not nearly as good as rescued or renewed — “NBC Sets ‘Timeless’ Two-Part Series Finale” reports Variety.

NBC will bring back “Timeless” for a special two-part series finale, the network confirmed Tuesday.

“We’re excited to tell one final chapter to this incredible story,” said Lisa Katz, co-president, scripted programming, NBC Entertainment. “A huge thank you to all — our cast, crew, producers and partners at Sony – who have worked so very hard, and to the fans who kept us on our toes and made sure we did our very best week after week.”

In June, NBC canceled the time travel drama from Sony Pictures Television and executive producers Shawn Ryan and Eric Kripke after two seasons. It was the second cancellation for “Timeless.” NBC had canceled the series after its first season, only to bring it back a few days later after Sony agreed to hand over a 50% stake in the show to NBC’s sister studio Universal Television.

(6) CURE FOR THE SUMMERTIME BLUES. Or at least a treatment for the symptoms. Jason, at Featured Futures, has condensed the month’s offerings down to a short list of cool stories in “Summation: July 2018”.

Here are the fifteen noted stories (four recommended) from the 92 stories of 503 Kwds I read from the July issues along with links to all their reviews and the other July posts on Featured Futures. This month’s wombat was a remarkable number of mostly print SF honorable mentions while all the few other items (except an excellent F&SF dark fantasy) came from the web.

(7) 2019 WORLDCON PROGRAM. Dublin 2019 has a form online where people can “Request to be a Programme Participant”. There’s more than one good reason to fill it out.

Kevin Standlee pointed out on Facebook a few days ago:

European data protection rules severely restrict the amount of information that entities can share with others, even those that hosted the previous event. You should assume that the 2019 Worldcon is starting with zero information about program participants, even if you were on program in Helsinki in 2017 or will be on program in San Jose in 2018. Contact Dublin if you’re interested in being on programming, and don’t assume that “of course they’ll just start with last year’s list” or “with the last European Worldcon’s list,” because legally, they can’t do that.

(8) LOOK OUT BELOW! What happens to the International Space Station when it can’t be maintained in orbit any more? It crashes, just like every other piece of hardware in low Earth orbit. Popular Mechanics takes a look at the status of plans to do this safely (hint: the plans are not nearly as well-developed as they should be; “Death Star: The ISS Doesn’t Have a Way to Crash Safely”).

As the debate over what to do with the International Space Station heats up, with a new NASA report casting doubt over the plans to commercialize it by 2025, the ultimate outcome could be its intentional crash landing into the Earth. But even that contingency is lacking, according to NASA Inspector General.

“At some future date NASA will need to decommission and deorbit the ISS either in response to an emergency or at the end of its useful life,” the report says. “However, the Agency currently does not have the capability to ensure the ISS will reenter the Earth’s atmosphere and land in a targeted location in the South Pacific Ocean.”
NASA, to its credit, has started the work. However, even the most preliminary steps are snarled up in diplomacy with the Russian space agency. The Inspector General says that in January 2017, NASA completed a draft plan but “this plan has not been finalized and is pending review by Roscosmos.”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

  • Born July 31 – France Nuyen, 79. In the original Outer Limits, Star Trek and Fantasy Island series, also Battle for the Planet of the Apes and The Six Million Dollar Man series.
  • Born July 31 – Geraldine Chaplin, 74. Dinotopia and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Gulliver’s Travels and a vampire series called  BloodRayne.
  • Born July 31 – Michael Biehn, 62. Best known in films directed by James Cameron; as Sgt. Kyle Reese in The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Cpl. Dwayne Hicks in Aliens and Lt. Coffey in The Abyss; also in Logan’s Run, Timebomb, AsteroidClockstoppers and The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power. 
  • Born July 31 – Wesley Snipes, 56. Genre roles include Demolition Man, the original Blade films, as an alien abducting humans in The Recall film, and a Mayan God in The Chronicles of the Mayan Tunnel.
  • Born July 31 – J. K. Rowling, 53. Harry Potter books and films, some other decidedly not genre work
  • Born July 31 – Annie Parisse, 43. Regular cast on the Person Of Interest series, also The First, a Mars mission series and NYPD 2069.
  • Born July 31 – Zelda Williams, 29. Daughter of Robin Williams, she’s been in genre work such as the Dark/Web series, plus voice work in the current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Legend of Korra, also roles in Stitchers and Teen Wolf.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) TOLKIEN AND LUCAS ON A DIET. Actor Topher Grace has taken to the editing suite and has taken a scalpel (or dwarven ax?) to the Hobbit trilogy—trimming the whole thing to a svelte two hours (IndieWire: “Topher Grace Recut ‘The Hobbit’ Trilogy as a 2-Hour Movie to Clear His Head After Playing David Duke”). Grace speaks of his reaction to playing David Duke in the upcoming BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee) and having his wife give birth during the production of that movie:

“I was so depressed.[…]  I was probably a terrible husband at the time. It was so disturbing to go home and turn on the news to see how his ideology was affecting us at the moment.”

Some people might have sought catharsis in a long vacation. Grace found a more unconventional outlet: Reediting Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” trilogy into a single movie.

Grace had previously recut the three prequel Star Wars movies into a combined 85-minute version he called Star Wars: Episode III.5: The Editor Strikes Back that was “for industry insiders before it disappeared from the internet” (SYFY Wire: “The Hobbit trilogy gets a new two-hour cut thanks to actor Topher Grace”). The IndieWire story continues:

While hardly the first fan edit of “The Hobbit,” Grace’s version may be one of the most palatable. One widely circulated fan edit in 2015, “The Tolkien Edit,” ran four hours long. Grace said he managed to reduce the entire trilogy to two hours, and felt that it was “a lot tighter.” (A Reddit forum actually predicted that Grace would tackle this project years ago.) “I don’t know what other guys do. Go fishing? For me, this is just a great way to relax,” the actor said. “There’s something really zen about it.”

(12) OUT OF JOINT. An expert in the time travel industry has found his next job: “Steven Moffat Developing The Time Traveler’s Wife Television Series for HBO”Tor.com has the story.

HBO has won the bidding war for a TV adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, from former Doctor Who showrunner and Sherlock creator Steven Moffat. Other outlets, including Amazon Studios, were in the running to acquire the series about Henry DeTamble and Clare Abshire’s nonlinear love story, according to Deadline.

The official logline from HBO is slightly tongue-in-cheek for a novel about Henry, a time traveler and librarian whose Chrono-Displacement Disorder drops him in and out of time, and artist Clare, who first meets Henry as a child and who spends the rest of her life encountering him at different ages as she progresses through time linearly…

“I read Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife many years ago, and I fell in love with it,” Moffat said in the official announcement. “In fact, I wrote a Doctor Who episode called ‘The Girl In The Fireplace’ as a direct response to it. When, in her next novel, Audrey had a character watching that very episode, I realised she was probably on to me. All these years later, the chance to adapt the novel itself, is a dream come true. The brave new world of long form television is now ready for this kind of depth and complexity. It’s a story of happy ever after?—?but not necessarily in that order.”

(13) OUTREACH. It’s not up to Gil Hamilton’s standard, but SingularityHub (“This Mind-Controlled Robotic Limb Lets You Multitask With Three Arms”) reports on a new brain-machine interface (BMI) that “only requires an electrode cap” and can control a third arm while you still use your biological two. The original paper (“BMI control of a third arm for multitasking”) is available at Science Robotics (a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science) for AAAS members or those willing to pony up to get past their paywall. Meanwhile, at SingularityHub:

To crack the problem, [Shuichi] Nichio and colleague Christian Penaloza recruited 15 volunteers and outfitted them with a prosthetic arm and a brain-wave-reading cap.

…The participants were asked to sit in a chair mounted with a robotic arm, strategically placed in a location that makes them feel like it’s part of their body. To start off, each participant was asked to balance a ball on a board using their own arms while wearing an electrode cap, which picks up the electrical activity from the brain.
Next, the volunteers turned their attention to the robotic arm. Sitting in the same chair, they practiced imagining picking up a bottle using the prosthesis while having their brain activity patterns recorded. A nearby computer learned to decipher this intent, and instructed the robotic arm to act accordingly.

Then came the fun part: the volunteers were asked to perform both actions simultaneously: balancing the ball with natural arms, and grasping the bottle with the robotic one. Eight out of the 15 participants successfully performed both actions; overall, the group managed cyborg multitasking roughly three quarters of the time.

(14) TIME AFTER TIME. Time for The Traveler at Galactic Journey to give John W. Campbell Jr. his monthly rap on the knuckles: “[July 30, 1963] Inoffensive Pact (August 1963 Analog)”.

At last we come to what you all will probably (as I did) turn to first: the conclusion to the second novel in the Deathworld series.  When last we left Jason dinAlt, interstellar gambler and lately resident of the dangerous world of Pyrrus, he had been enslaved by the D’sertanoj of a nearby primitive planet.  These desert-dwellers know how to mine petroleum, which they trade to the people of the country, Appsala, in exchange for caroj — steam powered battle wagons.  When dinAlt reveals that he can produce caroj himself, he is promoted to “employee” status and given run of the place.  He eventually escapes with his native companion, Ijale, as well as the obnoxiously moralistic Micah, who kidnapped dinAlt in the first place.  Adventures ensue.

The original Deathworld was a minor masterpiece, a parable about letting go of destructive hatred, suffused with a message on the importance of environmentalism.  It was also a cracking good read.  This new piece is just a yarn, one almost as clunky as the caroj dinAlt works on.  The theme is that universal morality is anything but, and ethics must be tailored to the society for which they are developed.

(15) SOLAR PROBE. NPR studies how NASA’s probe will keep from being burnt to a crisp: “Building A Probe That Will Survive A Trip To The Sun” — lightweight video with little discussion of the topic, but cool pictures of the probe being fitted out.

This summer, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe will embark on a mission to “touch the sun.”

“Touch” might be a bit of an overstatement — the probe will actually pass 3.8 million miles from the sun’s surface. Its primary job is to learn more about the outer atmosphere of the sun, called the corona. Many things about the corona remain a mystery. For example, scientists still aren’t sure why the corona of the sun is hotter than its surface. The probe will take a series of images and measurements to figure out how energy and heat move through the corona.

 

(16) CASE OF THE UNKNOWN CON. Trae Dorn at Nerd and Tie found the explanation is simple — “The Reason You Didn’t Hear About SBC Anime Festival Is Because Apparently No One Did”.

It’s been a week and a half since AVC Coventions‘s Bossier City, LA based SBC Anime Festival closed its doors for 2018, and you’d be forgiven for not even knowing it happened. The reason for this is that apparently no one knew it was.

Okay, so maybe that’s an exaggeration, but very few knew about it at least.

Needless to say, vendors and artists present weren’t exactly happy about spending their weekend in an empty hall. One of those vendors was artist K.F. Golden, who decided to detail their experience on Tumblr.

You should read the post in its entirety, but the gist of it is that very few people attended the convention. K.F. Golden took some pictures of the empty dealer hall, and it seems like no one knew the con was happening.

…The point is that when your event doesn’t do well, you still need to be able to talk to a vendor politely. This is basic customer service, and do not mistake me — when you are running a convention, vendors and artist are customers. If what K.F. Golden alleges is true, I would be hesitant to vend at any of AVC Conventions‘s other events.

(17) MY GENERATION. Phoebe Wagner delivers “Musings on The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang” at Nerds of a Feather.

While I love fantasy novels like The Poppy War, Kuang’s story has taken a special slot on my shelf because, as a millennial, I connected to the novel on a generational level. No, Kuang did not include avocado toast. From the voice to history to worldbuilding, the novel captured how I so often feel as a millennial. While the USA school testing systems are vastly different than Chinese systems, I remember the pressure of the SATs and GREs–and the relief at performing well. Like Rin, millennials grew up in the shadow of a terrorist attack and hearing the propaganda surrounding a war. Due to income inequality, those millennials that made it into “the good schools” found a cultural gap caused by wealth. Like Kuang’s worldbuilding around opium and other hallucinogens, so many millennials have watched their hometowns and families destroyed by opioids while simultaneously voting for the legalization of marijuana. These issues have marked the millennial generation, and Kuang captures them on the page.

(18) LET ROVER COME OVER. Here’s a curiosity: You can build your own open-source rover using JPL’s design.

(19) DISNEYLAND ICONS FOR SALE. Rachael Leone Shawfelt, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story “Rare Trove of Disneyland memorabilia Going Up For Auction–Here’s Your Sneak Peek” says RIchard Kraft is putting his collection of Disneyland memorabilia up for auction, including original rides from Dumbo the Flying Elephant  and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride as well as  a Swiss Family Treehouse organ.

Kraft’s treasures will be on display for the public in a free exhibition called “That’s From Disneyland!,” from Aug. 1 to Aug. 26, in Sherman Oaks, Calif. The items are arranged according to their former location in the park; for example, a piece of the Dumbo ride is close to rare Snow White dolls. Original maps of the park hang on the wall above a miniature re-creation of the park.

(20) MANIFEST. Trailer for the new series —

An airplane disappeared, and its passengers were presumed dead until they returned, unscathed, five years later. Manifest is coming to NBC on Mondays this fall.

 

[Thanks to Giant Panda, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Iphinome, Nicholas Whyte, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 6/14/18 When The Scroll Hits Your Eye Like A Big Pixel Pie, That’s A-nnoying

(1) PUTTING SOME ENGLISH ON IT. Should the Hugo Awards add a Best Translated works category? Here are Twitter threads by two advocates.

(2) EXPANDING STOKER. The Horror Writers Association will be adding a new Bram Stoker Awards category for Short Non-Fiction in 2019.

HWA President, Lisa Morton welcomes the new addition, stating: “As a writer who has written non-fiction at all lengths, a reader who loves articles and essays, and an admirer of academic study of dark fiction, I am pleased to announce this new awards category.”

(3) WEBER DECLARES VICTORY. David Weber’s Change.org petition, “Ensure Freedom of Speech & Assembly at ConCarolinas”, recorded 3,713 signatures. Weber’s fans were so enthusiastic one of them even signed my name to the petition. Although I asked them to remove it I’m still getting notifications, like this one — “The Vote Is In…”

Our petition in favor of the policy on guest invitations for ConCarolinas enunciated by Jada Hope at the closing ceremonies of the 2018 convention is now closed.

That policy, simply stated, is that ConCarolinas will issue apolitical invitations to genre-appropriate guests and that guests, once invited, will not be DISINVITED because of political hate campaigns waged online after the invitations are announced.

In the week that it was open, it accrued over 3,700 signatures, many of whom left comments explaining why they had signed in support of that policy. We believe this is a fairly resounding statement of the fact that many more members of fandom support a policy in which individuals are not excluded because of the political demands of a vocal minority who assail conventions online. We believe the fact that NONE of the signatures on this petition were anonymous speaks volumes for the willingness of the signers to “put their money where their mouths are” on this issue.

At no time have we suggested that conventions are not fully entitled to make their initial guest selections on whatever basis they like, including how compatible they expect that guest’s apparent politics to be to the con goers they expect to attend. What we have said is that there is no justification for RESCINDING an invitation, once issued and accepted, simply because someone else objects to that guest’s inclusion. Clearly there will be occasional genuinely special circumstances, but unless something becomes part of the public record only after the invitation has been extended, it should not justify rescinding an invitation. That was that thesis of this petition, and that was what all of these individuals signed in support of.

Sharon and I thank you for the way in which you have come out in support of our position on this, and we reiterate that it does not matter to us whether the guest in question is from the left or the right. What matters is that true diversity does not include ex post facto banning of a guest simply because some online mob disapproves of him or her.

Fandom is supposed to be a community open to ideas that challenge us. Creating an echo chamber in which no dissenting voices are heard is the diametric opposite of that concept. Thank you, all of you, for helping to tone down the echo effect.

(4) WHERE STORIES COME FROM. Robert Aickman recalled, in “Strange, Stranger, Strangest” at The Baffler.

Like some of his more famous contemporaries—Evelyn Waugh, say, or Aldous Huxley—Aickman yearned for those pre-industrial times before the democratic rabble began making all their poorly educated and unreasonable demands; and while his political prejudices didn’t yield what some of his contemporaries considered a satisfactory person (one of his closest friends recalled him as being incapable of any “real commitment to anyone”), they inspired him to explore narrative ideas that were always idiosyncratic, funny, disturbing, and unpredictable. No two Aickman stories are alike; and no single story is like any other story written by anybody else.

The most dangerous forces in an Aickman story often emerge from common and unremarkable spaces: tacky carnival tents, rural church-yards, the rough scrim of bushes at the far end of a brick-walled back garden, the human rabble who visit their dead relatives in decaying cemeteries, or remote (and often unnamable) foreign holiday isles. And while supernatural events may often occur in Aickman stories—at other times they only seem to occur, and at still other times they don’t occur at all.

(5) JEMISIN GETS AWARD. The Brooklyn Book Festival Literary Council has announced the lineup of initial 150-plus authors for this year’s Brooklyn Book Festival (“Brooklyn Book Festival Announces Stellar Fall Line-Up”), September 15-16. Hugo award-winning author N.K. Jemisin will be the recipient of the annual Best of Brooklyn (BoBi) Award.

Brooklyn author N.K. Jemisin has been named the recipient of the Brooklyn Book Festival’s annual Best of Brooklyn (or BoBi) Award. The annual award is presented at the September Gala Mingle to an author whose work exemplifies or speaks to the spirit of Brooklyn. Past honorees have included Colson Whitehead, Jacqueline Woodson, Jonathan Lethem, James McBride, Lois Lowry and Pete Hamill.

(6) LE GUIN TRIBUTE. John Lorentz, who attended, says the video recording of last night’s tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin is now available online at http://www.literary-arts-tribute.org/.

It was a special night (Ursula was a real treasure here in Portland, and throughout the literary world), and we were very happy that we could be there.

It was a mix of videos of Ursula and live speakers, such as Molly Gloss, David Jose Older and China Mieville.

And a dragon!

(7) AROUND THE BLOCK. Mary Robinette Kowal says NASA astronauts are now doing the spacewalk she saw them rehearse. Get on the Twitter thread here —

(8) SNEYD OBIT. Steve Sneyd, a well-known sff poet who also published fanzines, died June 14. John Hertz, in “The Handle of a Scythe, commemorated Sneyd after the Science Fiction Poetry Association named him a 2015 Grand Master of Fantastic Poetry.

He was poetry editor for Langley Searles’ unsurpassed Fantasy Commentator.  His own Data Dump has been published a quarter-century;

.. On the occasion of the Grand Master award, Andrew Darlington posted a 3,400-word piece “Steve Sneyd from Mars to Marsden” at Darlington’s Weblog Eight Miles Higher,  with photos, images of Sneyd’s various publications including Data Dump, electronic links, and things too fierce to mention

Sneyd’s own website was Steve-Sneyd.com. And there’s an entry for him at the SF Encyclopedia — http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/sneyd_steve.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born June 14  — Lucy Hale, 29. Bionic Woman (2007 TV series) as Becca Sommers, sister of Jaime Sommers, and voiced Periwinkle in TinkerBell and the Secret of the Wings.

(10) NOW AUTOMATED. CockyBot™ is on the job.

(11) SWATTERS PLEAD. “Two rival gamers allegedly involved in Kansas ‘swatting’ death plead not guilty in federal court” reports the Washington Post.

…Late last December, Casey Viner and Shane Gaskill, two young men separated by more than 800 miles and a time zone, clashed inside the digital playpen of “Call of Duty: WWII.” The Wichita Eagle would later report that the disagreement was over an online wager of less than $2.

But according to a federal indictment, Viner, from North College Hill, Ohio, became “upset” with Gaskill, a Kansas resident. Plotting a real-world revenge for the alleged slight delivered in the first-person shooter, Viner allegedly tapped a 25-year-old  from Los Angeles named Tyler Barriss to “swat” Gaskill.

“Swatting” — or summoning police to an address under false emergency pretenses — is a particularly dangerous form of Internet harassment. But when Gaskill noticed that Barriss had started following him on Twitter, he realized what the Californian and Viner were plotting. Instead of backing down or running for help, Gaskill taunted the alleged swatter via direct message on Twitter.

“Please try some s–t ,” Gaskill allegedly messaged Barriss on Dec. 28, according to the indictment. “You’re gonna try and swat me its hilarious … I’m waiting buddy.”

The wait was not long. According to authorities, about 40 minutes after the messages on Twitter, police in Wichita swarmed a local house in response to a hostage situation. Twenty-eight-year-old Andrew Finch was shot dead by law enforcement — the result, allegedly, of Barriss’s fake call to police. The deadly hoax, sparked by an online gaming beef, quickly became international news.

Now Viner, Gaskill, and Barriss are all facing federal criminal charges stemming from the shooting. On Wednesday afternoon, Viner and Gaskill — 18 and 19, respectively — were in a Wichita courtroom making their first appearance in the case. The Associated Press reported that both men pleaded not guilty to a host of charges, including conspiracy to obstruct justice and wire fraud.

(12) WARM SPELL. NPR reckons “Antarctica Has Lost More Than 3 Trillion Tons Of Ice In 25 Years”.

Scientists have completed the most exhaustive assessment of changes in Antarctica’s ice sheet to date. And they found that it’s melting faster than they thought.

Ice losses totaling 3 trillion tonnes (or more than 3.3 trillion tons) since 1992 have caused global sea levels to rise by 7.6 mm, nearly one third of an inch, according to a study published in Nature on Wednesday.

Before 2010, Antarctica was contributing a relatively small proportion of the melting that is causing global sea levels to rise, says study co-leader Andrew Shepherd of the University of Leeds.

But that has changed. “Since around 2010, 2012, we can see that there’s been a sharp increase in the rate of ice loss from Antarctica. And the ice sheet is now losing three times as much ice,” Shepherd adds.

(13) DUSTY ROADS. The end? “Enormous Dust Storm On Mars Threatens The Opportunity Rover”.

A massive dust storm on Mars is threatening NASA’s Opportunity rover, which has been conducting research on the Red Planet for well over a decade.

Where the rover sits, the dust storm has completely blotted out the sun, depriving Opportunity of solar power and cutting off communications with Earth.

NASA scientists believe the rover has fallen asleep to wait out the storm, and that when the dust storm dies down and sunlight returns, the rover will resume activity.

“We’re concerned, but we’re hopeful that the storm will clear and the rover will begin to communicate with us,” says John Callas, the Opportunity project manager.

The rover has survived dust storms before, but it’s never lost power this thoroughly.

The dust storm on Mars grew from a small, local storm into a massive event over the course of the last two weeks. Opportunity is located near the middle of the storm, while the newer rover Curiosity — which is nuclear-powered, so not threatened by the loss of sunlight — is currently near the storm’s edge.

… There’s no expectation that the rover will be completely buried by dust, but there are risks associated with the lack of temperature control and the extended lack of power.

“The good news there is that the dust storm has warmed temperatures on Mars,” Callas says. “We’re also going into the summer season so the rover will not get as cold as it would normally.”

The rover also has small, plutonium-powered heater units on board that will help keep it from freezing, and NASA scientists believe the rover will be able to ride out the storm until the skies clear. It’s not clear how long that will take.

(14) HOMEBREW DROID. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Patrick Stefanski decided, even before Solo: A Star Wars Story hit the theaters he wanted to build an Alexa-powered version of the droid L3-37. Well, the head anyway. He combined his skills with 3-D printing, model painting, and electronics to have his robot head respond to “Ethree” as a custom wake word and reply with a sassy “What?” when summoned. Those changes required running Amazon Voice Services software—basically the thing that powers Alexa—on a Raspberry Pi microcomputer rather than using stock Amazon hardware. That change also allowed him to set the localization to the UK so “she” could speak with a British accent.

Quoting the io9 article “Talented Hacker Turns Amazon’s Alexa Into Lando’s Sass-Talking L3-37 Droid” —

One of the best parts of Solo: A Star Wars Story is Lando Calrissian’s piloting droid, L3-37, who’s been uniquely pieced together and upgraded from parts of other droids. Patrick Stefanski has essentially done the same thing to turn Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant into a desktop version of L3-37 who answers to your beck and call.

The customizability of Amazon’s Echo speakers, which feature Alexa built-in, are quite limited. So in order to make his L3-37 actually respond to the simple phrase, “Elthree,” Stefanski instead used a software version of Alexa running on a Raspberry Pi3 mini computer. It also allowed Stefanski to alter his location so that his Alexa-powered L3-37 speaks in a British accent, similar to actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s performance of the character in the movie.

The SYFY Wire article has more of an interview with Stefanski, “This dude built a fully-functional and definitively sassy 3D-printed L3-37 Alexa”, including:

“I originally wrote off the idea of doing a 3D printed L3 project when I first saw her in a teaser trailer. Here is a 6- or 7-foot walking humanoid robot with tons of articulation and a ton of personality. What could I possibly do with that? Some builder’s tried to tackle K2-SO, a very similar droid from the Rogue One movie, and ended up with a 6-foot static mannequin.

…]That’s cool and all but, me, I’m all about the motors and the electronics and the motion.

“Then as luck would have it, the first time I heard L3-37 talk (a British female voice), it happened to be on the same day I saw a random YouTube video about someone hacking together an Echo Dot and one of those old ‘Billy the Bass’ novelty fish. […] My daughter is 3, and just starting to really get comfortable with Alexa. ‘ALEXA PLAY FROZEN!!!!’ is something you’ll hear yelled in my house a lot! So, I started thinking of something fun to do with our Echo, and the idea of turning it into this new female robot from Star Wars kind of just fell into place.”

(15) GREEN HELL. Science Alert is enthralled: “Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano Is Literally Raining Gemstones Now, And We Want Some”.

If Hawaii’s K?lauea volcano were to offer an apology for its chaos and destruction, it just might come in the form of a beautiful green mineral called olivine.

Over the past months we’ve reported on devastating lava flows and bone-shattering boulders. Now it’s raining gems – a rare event that has geologists enthralled and the rest of us just plain confused.

But ULTRAGOTHA sent in the link with a demurrer: “I will note that I am not confused as to why an active volcano is producing olivine.  This one does it a lot. There is a green beach on Hawai’i.” She has in mind Papakolea Beach:

Papakolea Beach (also known as Green Sand Beach or Mahana Beach[1]) is a green sand beach located near South Point, in the Ka?? district of the island of Hawaii. One of only four green sand beaches in the world, the others being Talofofo Beach, Guam; Punta Cormorant on Floreana Island in the Galapagos Islands; and Hornindalsvatnet, Norway.[citation needed] It gets its distinctive coloring from olivine sand eroded out of the enclosing volcanic cone (tuff ring).

(16) HIGH PRICED TICKET. This weekend, “Aliencon links the worlds of space travel, UFOlogy and science fiction at the Pasadena Convention Center”. Story from the Pasadena Weekly.

Tully notes that AlienCon moved to Pasadena this year simply because of needing a bigger venue, and that there is no hidden agenda or secret information that ties Pasadena to an impending alien invasion or hidden landing sites from past eras.

“That question of whether we know things we can’t tell came up numerous times at the first AlienCon,” says Tully. “I don’t know anything, hand over heart, but I believe we have a panel that answers everything one could possibly know. They don’t get censored by the government.”

The move to Pasadena has already paid off with one-day passes  for Saturday already sold out, as are the Bronze and Gold level (which includes a private event with the “Ancient Aliens” cast) passes, which cost $124 and $549, respectively. The remaining Silver level passes cost $436 and, according to the website, “passholders receive guaranteed premium seating in the Main Stage, a voucher redeemable for autographs or photographs, a tote bag with exclusive merchandise, and much more!”

The fact that AlienCon doesn’t feature any experts from Caltech or JPL raises the antenna of Dr. Michael Shermer, founder of the Altadena-based Skeptic Society, who has long debunked the prospect of alien life forms as well as the existence of God. While he was somewhat impressed that the chief astronomer of the federal government’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program and “Star Trek: Voyager’s” Picardo (who works with the Pasadena-based Planetary Society) will be panelists, he was more incredulous about the moneymaking aspects of the event.

“It’s a fun topic, like talking about God, where everyone has an opinion, but no one has any proof,” says Shermer. “But with the Gold Pass costing $550, you better be able to meet and greet an actual alien.”

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

Pixel Scroll 6/6/18 Rishathra And the City And The City

(1) EMMY CAMPAIGN. Comicbook.com spotted these “For Your Consideration” videos touting Star Trek: Discovery for costuming and makeup Emmy nominations.

(2) WISCON PROGRAM NOTES. Yes, there were other panels at WisCon… Lady Business has launched a series of posts to tell you about them, beginning with – “WisCon 42 Panel Writeups: ‘Positive Representations of Masculinity’”.

I didn’t think to say this during the panel itself, but I’ve seen the “helping hand” ethos more and more on reality tv lately. I’ve been watching a lot of Face Off, which is a makeup/special effects artist competition show, and once of the great sellings points of that show for me is how often the competitors help each other. On that show there’s often an element of “this person’s idea for the makeup is so good and it would be a shame if they didn’t manage to realize their vision because of [impediment of the hour].” It’s great to see this approach spreading through more and more competition shows. It’s not just a question of what kinds of contestants are on these shows, but deliberate editing decisions about choosing to play up cooperation rather than conflict. Face Off started out playing up the conflict a lot more in early seasons, but as the show went on they chose more and more to highlight the collaborative aspects and the artistry. I think this is a really important trend in terms of what producers and editors predict or perceive audiences reacting well to, and it’s a trend we can and should reward.

(3) WISH FULFILLMENT. C.E. Murphy’s friends made it happen — “Agent Carter Kisses”.

I have, from time to time, made noises about how much I wanted the Agent Carter kit from Besame Cosmetics, all with a “maybe someday I can buy it” wist.

Well, some of my friends conspired and got it for me as a birthday gift! In fact, I got the package from the Lead Conspirator, my friend Mary Anne, and I thought “???” and turned it to see ‘cosmetics’ written on the customs form, and, as Young Indiana will attest, said, “Oh, she didn’t,” right out loud.

… Later, after everybody said BUT WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER ONES I went to try them, too, and holy carp.

Me, looking at the color of the 2nd lipstick (“Forget Me Not”): oh, this will definitely by my least favorite of three colors.

Me, putting it on: holy shit if this is my LEAST favorite this is gonna be an AMAZING trio!!!

The products are still available from Besame Cosmetics’ Agent Carter Shop.

We are overjoyed to introduce our 1946 Agent Carter collection. This labor of love was sparked by Marvel’s use of our popular shade, 1946 Red Velvet, on the iconic Agent Carter. Peggy’s fierce independence, glamour, and intelligence — as well as our love for the series — inspired us to create a collection dedicated to the show.

(4) GUFF. Congratulations to Donna Maree Hansen for publishing her GUFF Trip Report so quickly!

My GUFF trip report is complete at 62 pages comprised of 26,000 words and photos. The report contains the account of the trip I made to Finland for Worldcon 75 and my adventures meeting fans around northern Europe, Ireland and the UK.

If you would like a copy then please order below. All money raised from the report goes to the GUFF to support other SF fans to travel to SF cons in Europe and Australasia.

I’ve set the minimum donation to $7.00.

Thank you in advance.

(5) IT COMES IN THE MAIL. Seen at ~12:00 in this video, Campbell (best new writer) nominee Jeanette Ng sent a copy of her book with a thank you note to the creators of a wrestling podcast she thanked in the acknowledgements.

DMS, who sent the item, says “And, yes, I do watch a show about opening mail.”

(6) A PEEK AT THE BALLOT. Joe Sherry resumes his Nerds of a Feather series with “Reading the Hugos: Novella”

River of Teeth: From my review: “Um, did you know there was a serious plan to bring hippopotamuses to America to alleviate a meat shortage? I didn’t either, but Sarah Gailey did. I’m so happy that she knew this because it grew into this insanity of a novella that delivers a fantastic story that feels like the wild west as seen from hippoback. River of Teeth is glorious, but it is more than just the wonderful idea of using hippos as beasts of burden and transit (and oh, this idea is so well excuted) – it is also filled with striking characters like Winslow Remington Houndstooth and Regina Archambault, but the whole cast, really. It’s great.” The fact that this is my least favorite of the finalists does not denigrate River of Teeth at all, but rather it shows just how high the bar is in this category.

(7) ON FIRE. Paul Weimer’s latest Nerds of a Feather contribution is “Microreview [book]: Fire Dance, by Ilana C Myer”.

In 2015, attracted by it’s cover and premise, I became interested in the work of then debut novelist Ilana C Myer. Her Last Song Before Night was a triumph of poetry, language and worldbuilding that immersed me from the first page and refused to let me go. I was left wanting to learn much more about Lin and her world of Court Poets, returning magic, and vivid language.

Fire Dance, although not strictly a sequel to Last Song Before Night, returns us to that same world, set not longer thereafter. The consequences of Lin’s unleashing of long suppressed magic in the land of Eivar is only starting to be felt, with none understanding what this will truly mean….

(8) VACATIONING FROM THE NEW AND SHINY. Book Smugglers’ Ana Grilo turns back to “Old School Wednesdays: The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus #1) by Jonathan Stroud”.

This is another entry in a series of Old School Wednesdays posts, brought to you by the amazing folks who supported us on Kickstarter. As one reward level, backers were given the opportunity to pick an Old School title for one of us to read and review online.

It starts with the summoning of one of the most powerful djinn in history, Bartimaeus. He is tasked with stealing the Amulet of Samarkand from Simon Lovelace, one of England’s greatest and most powerful magicians. Bound and controlled by the magician who summoned him (and WHO could have that kind of power?), Bartimaeus sets out to accomplish the deed.

(9) TIMESCAPE IMPRINT. James Davis Nicoll reminds Tor.com readers “Why Editors Matter: David Hartwell’s Extraordinary Timescape Books”.

Thanks to Asimov’s repeated admonitions that editors matter, I began at an early age to pay attention to the humans responsible for the books I consumed en masse. When I knew which editors were behind the works I liked, I would follow them from company to company. Thus I first became aware of Hartwell as the person behind Pocket Books’ remarkable Timescape imprint1.

(10) MAREN OBIT. Jerry Maren, the last of The Wizard of Oz’ Munchkin actors, died in May. The Hollywood Reporter has the details: “Jerry Maren, Last Surviving Adult Munchkin From ‘Wizard of Oz,’ Dies at 98”.

He also appeared in ‘Superman’ and Marx Brothers movies, as well as on television in ‘The Gong Show’ and ‘Seinfeld.’

Jerry Maren, the last surviving adult Munchkin from The Wizard of Oz, has died. He was 98.

The actor, who stayed active in show business long after Dorothy had returned to her home in Kansas, died last month, a niece and his nephew reported in separate Facebook posts.

Maren had been residing in an assisted-care facility in the San Diego area, Steve Cox, co-author of the 2006 book Short and Sweet: The Life and Times of the Lollipop Munchkin, told The Hollywood Reporter.

At age 19, Maren (at 3-foot-4) appeared as one of the three Lollipop Guild Munchkins (the green one in the middle) in the classic 1939 movie. He had been spotted by an MGM scout while performing in a show at the Bond Hotel in Connecticut and was the youngest of the 124 adult actors to suit up as a Munchkin. (A few children were used as a well.)

(11) PEW PEW. The Pew Research Center has published a new study of how Americans view the roles of NASA and of private companies in space endeavors: “Majority of Americans Believe It Is Essential That the U.S. Remain a Global Leader in Space”

Despite the increasing role of private companies in space exploration, most believe NASA’s role is still vital for future.

Sixty years after the founding of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), most Americans believe the United States should be at the forefront of global leadership in space exploration. Majorities say the International Space Station has been a good investment for the country and that, on balance, NASA is still vital to the future of U.S. space exploration even as private space companies emerge as increasingly important players.

…And, as the private sector increasingly ventures into space – through companies such as SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic – 65% of Americans believe NASA should still play a vital role in the exploration of space, while a third (33%) say private companies will ensure enough progress in this area even without NASA’s involvement.

Pew summarizes their findings as regards NASA with this graphic:

Three news sources provide their own takes on what the Pew research “really” means (note the variability in headlines, in particular):

A study published today by the Pew Research Center has found that a majority of Americans reckon that staying on top of the space pile should be a US priority, with NASA still attracting a lot of love.

However, party poppers are unlikely to be fired within NASA’s scattered spaceflight centres since the idea of putting boots back on the Moon or on Mars doesn’t attract quite the same levels of affection.
While previous studies, like this one by the National Science Board, found that 25 per cent of Americans felt too much was spent on space exploration (45 per cent said it was OK and 21 per cent wanted more), the new research focussed on where US citizens think space priorities should lie and who – NASA or the private sector – should be doing the work.

Americans rank monitoring Earth’s climate and detecting asteroids and other objects that could hit the planet as top priorities for NASA, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Lowest on the list: returning astronauts to the Moon — a top priority for the White House.

For the future: Half of the 2,541 Americans surveyed think people will be routinely traveling to space as tourists in the next 50 years. But 58% of respondents said they wouldn’t want to orbit Earth.

The Trump administration has vowed to make America great again in spaceflight, and the centerpiece of its space policy to date has been a re-prioritization of human spaceflight as central to NASA’s activities. As part of this initiative, the White House has sought to reduce funding for satellites to observe environmental changes on Earth and eliminate NASA’s office of education.

However, a new survey of 2,541 Americans by Pew Research Center, which aims to represent the views of US adults, finds that these views appear to be out of step with public priorities.

(Special thanks to Mike Kennedy for pulling this item together.)

(12) MEANWHILE, BACK AT REALITY. NPR reports “Space Station For Sale: NASA Administrator Is In Talks With International Companies”.

Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft is scheduled to blast off Wednesday morning with its three-member crew to begin what is billed as Expeditions 56-57 at the International Space Station.

But new NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, this week is talking openly about a very different future the International Space Station and space travel in general. The big idea is less government and more private investment.

In an interview with the Washington Post published Tuesday, Bridenstine says he is in talks with international companies about commercial management of the space station.

Bridenstine, who was sworn in this past April, says there are many large corporations that are interested the commercial potential of the ISS.

(13) FROM HERE TO THERE. Camestros Felapton became positively obsessed with working up a list of all the possible ideas about “How To Teleport”. Amazing! Here are three examples –

  • Transport only your consciousness, transmit into clone or robot bodies somewhere else. Obviously has a potential duplication issue. Seems a lot like demonic possession the more you think about it.
  • Quantum tunnelling. Fundamental particles can do this so why can’t you? There’s a chance that you might be somewhere else and so sometimes you are somewhere else. Requires messing with the fundamentals of probability.
  • A wormhole/portal. You physically move but through a piece of space that is a shortcut. The implication is that places in space ae all physically closer than they appear.

Then he followed up with a 19-paragraph set of model “Terms and Conditions” for using such a device — highly entertaining!

Teleport-buffer Terms & Conditions

1 You must access and use the HereThere!(tm) teleport-buffer (“teleport-buffer”) only in accordance with these terms and conditions (“Teleport-buffer Terms and Conditions”) the Energiser/De-energiser Terms and Conditions and any instructions for use provided or made available by Tel-E-Port-U Centauri Pty Ltd or its affiliates (“Tel-E-Port-U”) or Engineering Officers from time to time.

2 The teleport-buffer is designed for HereThere!(tm) VIP Club members (“Members”) to contain their own thoughts, DNA-profiles, matter states and continuity of persistent existence profiles. The materials holding thoughts and opinions contained on this teleport-buffer (including the responses in the ‘HereThere!(tm) Help Panel and the ’DNA-check sum’ area) are the thoughts and opinions of the teleported parties and not those of Tel-E-Port-U. Tel-E-Port-U does not endorse or support any buffered thoughts or opinions or guarantee the accuracy of any of the information, beliefs or perceived facts stored on the teleport-buffer no matter how brief or protracted storage in the buffer might be.

(14) CONCAROLINAS. Author Jason Gilbert, who ran ConCarolinas’ film festival, told Facebook readers why he won’t be involved anymore.

On a professional level, it was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made.

ConCarolinas was the first con that ever accepted me as a guest, and I have considered it my “Home Con” for years. But the past few years have shown the con to be moving in a direction that I cannot go. The event itself and the past few days have made my decision easier. Where I was originally going to resign from running the film festival since I only agreed to do it for one year, I cannot make myself return in any capacity. I have seen ConComm members treating guests and vendors with disrespect. I have seen scheduling that made any form of professional development almost impossible, and turned what could have been good panels into a conversation led by people who have no knowledge in that particular subject, and are questioning why they were placed on the panel in the first place when they never signed up for it. Filmmakers who worked hard on their projects and were rewarded with recognition and awards were treated as an afterthought.

But, beyond that, I have seen horrific behavior from the ConComm on social media. A disabled guest was openly mocked in two separate Facebook threads, which disgusted me to my core. I have screenshots. Complaints about John Ringo’s fans using the ConCarolinas page to hunt down Guests and Attendees in efforts to troll and harass them on their own walls to the point of abuse and hate speech were ignored. I have screenshots. The conchair went to David Weber’s page and offered discount passes to next year’s event if those on the “Right” could tell stories of actions taken against them by those on the “Left.” I have screenshots. Two con security volunteers, both with no more than the basic, required 8-hour training in order to receive a permit to carry a concealed weapon in North Carolina, were carrying over the weekend. One of them the head of the team. I have screenshots. I have contacted the hotel and gotten their policy. Based on my conversation with them, they had no idea that, not only were there loaded guns at the event, but that there have been loaded guns at the event for years. One guest will be having a conference call today over this, as management is apparently floored.

(15) TREK ACTORS REUNITED. GeekTyrant has this story covered: “First Trailer For The Sci-Fi Thriller 5TH PASSENGER Brings Together Several Fan-Favorite STAR TREK Actors”

The first trailer has been released for a new sci-fi thriller 5th Passenger and the cool think about this film is that it brings together several fan-favorite Star Trek cast members.

…The cast of the film includes Doug Jones (Star Trek: Discovery), Tim Russ (Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Generations), and Armin Shimerman (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine).

5th Passenger was funded through Kickstarter and they ended up raising a little over $80,000. The goal was to create the film centered around a strong female lead. The director of the film, Scott Blake, had this to say about his film:

“I directed 5th Passenger because it’s a film I wanted to see. It is inspired by my love of the science fiction genre, The Twilight Zone, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. All twisted storylines with principled characters thrown into extreme situations where society breaks down and their morals and values are tested.”

 

(16) KISSY-FACE. Iphinome hit it out of the park with these two scales for measuring literary displays of affection:

Having given it some thought, here’s a kissy-face scale.

0 – No kissy face
1 – rare and chaste kissy face
2 – What you would expect from two people who date
3 – Delectable, some people do like to make kissy face and it is wonderful but that’s not the main plot
4 – There’s a lot of kissy face here. Might be uncomfortable.
5 – They’re kissing again. Is this a kissing book?

And a second scale for grownup sexy times

0 – Eww no keep your cooties out of my reading time
1 – This book contains grown ups and you should assume they like sexy times from time to time but it isn’t really talked about.
2 – Implied grownup sexy times. I hate a great time last night. Come to my room later. Cut away to another scene after the kissy face.
3 – On page low detail grownup sexy times.
4 – Grown up sexy times with detail, low frequency. One or two such events in a novel length work.
4.5 – Outlander
5 – You’re reading this story because you really like reading detailed depictions of grown up sexy times.

Swordspoint gets three kissy face emoji.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/20/18 I Know What You’re Thinking: Did He Scroll Six Pixels Or Only Five?

(1) SAFE AT HOME. Adweek tells about an Incredibles 2 movie product tie-in: “Why The Incredibles Needed an ADT Home Security System”.

Even superheroes need a good home security system, says a fun new ad from ADT and Disney, themed around the upcoming premiere of The Incredibles 2.

In the 30-second spot, animated by Pixar, the film’s titular super-family gets a tour of their new alarm system from superhero costume designer Edna Mode.

There are, for example, water level sensors—to safeguard against “surprise attacks” if a villain is hiding, for some reason, in a full bathtub, wielding a rubber ducking, waiting to pounce. There are motion sensors with live video—useful for tracking Mr. and Mrs. Incredible’s super-fast middle child, Dash. Intrusion detection can warn of invaders—and also help keep their teen daughter, Violet, gifted with invisibility, from sneaking out.

 

(2) CONSUMMATE PROFESSIONAL. Want to know how to tank your writing career before it starts? Tony Perez offers his advice:

(3) DO GIANTS SHRINK? John Scalzi tackled a question about Robert A. Heinlein’s residual influence in “Reader Request Week 2018 #6: The Fall(?!?!?) of Heinlein”.

But the question wasn’t whether Heinlein is going to disappear; it’s whether he’s declined as an influence. I think it’s fair to say he has, if for no other reason than that in the last 30 years, the scene in SF/F has changed. For one thing, fantasy and fantasy writers are much more influential in the field and on emerging writers than they were when Heinlein was alive; there’s an entire generation now edging into their 30s who grew up at Hogwarts, and for whom people like Robert Jordan (with an assist from Brandon Sanderson) and George RR Martin loom large in their landscape. Over on the SF side William Gibson, Neal Stephenson and Lois McMaster Bujold (not to mention Suzanne Collins) are much nearer influences, to name just three.

Also, as hinted above, YA authors are much more significant influences now than they were three decades ago. I can’t tell you how many younger authors count people like Tamora Pierce and Scott Westerfeld as significant in their development, and why wouldn’t they? And, yes, Heinlein wrote juvies, but the fact he wrote them is not the same as them currently being widely read and being influential. They’re not, which is not entirely surprising, as almost all of them are now sixty years old and the world they were written in doesn’t exist any more.

(4) DIFFERENT INTERPRETATIONS. Comics fans won’t be surprised at the wide variety of results, I suspect: “Image Comics Had Seven Different Artists Color a Black & White Todd McFarlane ‘Spawn’ Drawing”.

While we wait for more news on Blumhouse’s Spawn feature film, creator Todd McFarlane is finishing up issue #286 of the Image Comics series, which is going to printers today. For this one, Image did something pretty awesome, enlisting seven different artists to interpret a cover McFarlane drew for issue #286, in their own personal style.

The result? Seven vastly different pieces of art… which all began as the same piece.

McFarlane wrote on Facebook, “Here’s the list of AWESOME people who lent their coloring skills to Spawn issue 286 this month (in order of the covers below):

  • Jean-Francois Beaulieu
  • Nikos Koutsis
  • Moreno Dinisio
  • Frank Martin
  • Matthew Wilson
  • Owen Gieni
  • Annalisa Leoni

Pretty wild to see how much color can completely change the entire feel of a drawing…

(5) RUNNER-UP. Usually the winner gets all the publicity. Kevin Polowy, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story, “Emilia Clarke calls Brad Pitt’s $120K bid to watch ‘Game of Thrones’ with her the ‘weirdest experience of my entire life'”, says she can’t talk about the anonymous bidder who donated $160,000 to watch an episode of Game of Thrones with her to benefit Haitian relief because the bidder was anonymous.  But she says that Brad Pitt bidding $120,000 was quite strange.

Clarke clearly did not want to get into details — perhaps because the bidder from Sean Penn’s fundraiser for relief in Haiti chose to remain anonymous.

But she did speak a little more about the runner-up, Brad Pitt. The actor fell short in his attempt to spend some QT with the GoT star who plays Dragon Queen Daenerys Targaryen. Pitt bid only $120K at the Sotheby’s event.

“It was the weirdest experience of my entire life,” Clarke, 31, said of the auction. “I thought my head was going to explode. I went bright red and couldn’t stop smiling. It was amazing. I texted everyone I knew.”

(6) DEEP CUT. Shadow And Act reports “Laura Harrier’s Role As Millie Montag Cut From Fahrenheit 451”.

Laura Harrier’s role in Fahrenheit 451 was cut from the final version of the HBO film. Harrier, who is in Cannes for Black KkKlansman, revealed the fate of her role to The Wrap.

The actress, who starred last in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, would have had the rare distinction of starring in two Cannes films in one year.

Harrier was supposed to play the wife of Michael B. Jordan’s character Guy Montag, but the character was trimmed from the adaptation due to time.

“The character definitely has a big part in the book, but because of the length of the film, (director Ramin Bahrani) decided they needed to change the storyline and the structure of the film,” she said. “And unfortunately my character didn’t fit with the storyline. It’s something you always hope doesn’t happen, but I’m not the first it’s happened to, and I definitely won’t be the last.”

(7) ISS CARGO RATES. I thought there was a popular joke among hard sf writers that Newton’s fourth law tells us “Everything costs more and works less,” but Google says I misremember…. Ars Technica headline: “NASA to pay more for less cargo delivery to the space station”. A large price increase by SpaceX will overcome a smaller price cut by Orbital ATK.

A new analysis finds that NASA will pay significantly more for commercial cargo delivery to the International Space Station in the 2020s rather than enjoying cost savings from maturing systems. According to a report by the space agency’s inspector general, Paul Martin, NASA will likely pay $400 million more for its second round of delivery contracts from 2020 to 2024 even though the agency will be moving six fewer tons of cargo. On a cost per kilogram basis, this represents a 14-percent increase.

One of the main reasons for this increase, the report says, is a 50-percent increase in prices from SpaceX, which has thus far flown the bulk of missions for NASA’s commercial cargo program with its Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket.

This is somewhat surprising because, during the first round of supply missions, which began in 2012, SpaceX had substantially lower costs than NASA’s other partner, Orbital ATK. SpaceX and Orbital ATK are expected to fly 31 supply missions between 2012 and 2020, the first phase of the supply contract. Of those, the new report states, SpaceX is scheduled to complete 20 flights at an average cost of $152.1 million per mission. Orbital ATK is scheduled to complete 11 missions at an average cost of $262.6 million per mission.

But that cost differential will largely evaporate in the second round of cargo supply contracts. For flights from 2020 to 2024, SpaceX will increase its price while Orbital ATK cuts its own by 15 percent. The new report provides unprecedented public detail about the second phase of commercial resupply contracts, known as CRS-2, which NASA awarded in a competitively bid process in 2016. SpaceX and Orbital ATK again won contracts (for a minimum of six flights), along with a new provider, Sierra Nevada Corp. and its Dream Chaser vehicle. Bids by Boeing and Lockheed Martin were not accepted.

(8) DEADPOOL ROUNDUP. The Mary Sue’s Kaila Hale-Stern claims Deadpool 2 Has Trolled the Critics into Liking It” while scanning reviews of the movie.

There’s a personality divide where some people are just never going to like a main character like Deadpool or a movie like Deadpool 2, and that’s okay! It is, however, refreshing to hear that there’s fun to be had here for those who want to have it. If one of the worst things you can say is that a movie is “too hip” for its own good, our curiosity is piqued.

(9) JOE KUBERT STORYTELLER AWARD. The inaugural award was given this weekend. “‘Usagi Yojimbo’ Creator Wins First Joe Kubert Storyteller Award”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

The first Joe Kubert Distinguished Storyteller Award was presented Saturday at Ontario’s Comic Con Revolution, and the recipient is a comic book veteran whose career has lasted for more than 30 years and multiple publishers. Stan Sakai, the creator of epic anthropomorphic historical series Usagi Yojimbo, was tapped for the honor, although he was unable to attend the ceremony.

Sakai, who was born in Kyoto, Japan, and raised in Hawaii, got his start in comics as a letterer in the early 1980s on a number of independent comic book series, including cult classic Groo the Wanderer by MAD Magazine cartoonist Sergio Aragones and Mark Evainer. He was soon writing and illustrating his own characters, beginning with The Adventures of Nilson Groundthumper and Hermy in the debut issue of the anthology title Albedo. Usagi Yojimbo followed in the very next issue, setting Sakai’s career path for years to come….

(10) HOSHI OBIT. Japanese monster movie actress Yuriko Hoshi (1943-2018) has died.

Actress Yuriko Hoshi, who was nominated for the Award of the Japanese Academy in 1997 for her supporting performance in Night Trains to the Stars, was perhaps most known for being a staple of Toho’s Kaiju films, appearing in Mothra vs. Godzilla, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster and, most recently, Godzilla vs. Megaguirus.

Today we’re sad to report, via Toho Kingdom, that Yuriko Hoshi passed away this week after a battle with lung cancer. Hoshi, born in December 1943, was 74 years old.

(11) SUBSEQUENT ARRIVAL. Jeb Kinnison, after reading Filers’ comments, has added a few hundred words to his article “Why ‘Arrival’ is Bad Science Fiction”, linked here yesterday.

(12) DESTINATION MOON. “Aiming for the Moon, Literally: One Foundation’s Plan for a Lunar Library” – but who’ll be there to check it out?

The Arch Mission Foundation has plans to put the entirety of Wikipedia, among other things, into an elaborate microfiche archive, then send it to the moon. And it’s not even the first time they’ve done something like this.

Wikipedia it seems, is everywhere on Earth—on smartphones and dumb phones, in countries with great internet access and in places with less.  But on the moon? It’ll be there soon, too, thanks to a nonprofit group with a mission to share knowledge across time and space.

(13) TRESPASSERS WILL BE VIOLATED. The colors on these Roman stone slabs faded long ago, but scientists have figured out what they were: “Ancient Romans Painted Horrifying Blood-Red Warnings on Wall Across Scotland” at LiveScience.

Ancient Romans used blood red, bright yellow and stunning white paints to illustrate dire warnings on the wall that separated them from the rebellious tribespeople of Scotland, a new study shows.

The painted warnings — including Roman eagles with blood-stained beaks, and the slain and decapitated bodies of the defeated victims of the victorious Roman legions — were shown alongside Latin inscriptions on carved stone slabs placed along a Roman rampart in Scotland.

Archaeologist Louisa Campbell from the University of Glasgow says the carved and painted stone slabs would have served as “Roman propaganda” to local tribespeople north of the Antonine Wall, a fortified wall built across Scotland by the Roman legions during the reign of the emperor Antoninus Pius in the second century A.D.

(14) SCI-FI TRAILER. 2036 Origin Unknown with Katee Sackhoff – here’s the official trailer.

(15) ARCHIE MCPHEE. A cultural icon finally gets its due in the Rubber Chicken Museum.

If you make your way to our Seattle Archie McPhee store, you’re in for a treat. Last week we premiered our new Rubber Chicken Museum! You can see the world’s largest rubber chicken and the world’s smallest rubber chicken, as well as everything in between. Our museum is dedicated to the history, cultural zeitgeist and general hilariousness of the rubber chicken. It is a must see! Plus, you can also see our new “Room 6” collection of historical novelties. You’ll get your PhD in LOL!

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

Pixel Scroll 3/19/18 Scroll Miner’s Data

(1) READ FOR LIFE. Inc. tells “Why Reading Books Should be Your Priority, According to Science”.

People who read books live longer

That’s according to Yale researchers who studied 3,635 people older than 50 and found that those who read books for 30 minutes daily lived an average of 23 months longer than nonreaders or magazine readers. Apparently, the practice of reading books creates cognitive engagement that improves lots of things, including vocabulary, thinking skills, and concentration. It also can affect empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence, the sum of which helps people stay on the planet longer.

(2) SOMTOW. The Thailand Tatler covers Somtow Sucharitkul’s fundraising concern for a U.S. orchestral tour: “Siam Sinfonietta Takes To The States”.

As the local music scene continues to thrive and as Thai musicians of all ages and styles gain increasing recognition both at home and abroad, the talented youths of Siam Sinfonietta are getting ready to play at Carnegie Hall in the Big Apple for the third time this April as part of the New York International Music Festival.

Siam Sinfonietta is a scholarship orchestra that aims to provide local prodigies with the great opportunities to perform professionally, regardless of background or income. In order to ensure that all 70 musicians and orchestral staff can have a smooth tour of the States in April, Opera Siam is holding a series of fundraising events, such as a recent Star Wars-themed concert on March 15. Find out how you can still support them here.

Listen to the opening of their Star Wars marathon concert – and see his lightsaber conductor’s baton!

(3) SOCIETY PAGE. Congratulations to Catherynne Valente!

(In case it’s a bit obscure, the ultrasound pic is a clue.)

(4) ANOTHER CLUELESS ATTENDANT. Author Fran Wilde was lectured on a plane that her cane could be a weapon.

(5) BLUE MAN GROUP. Expedition 55 sets new standards in space fashion. Or as David Klaus ad libs, “Are we not Astromen? We are DEVO! Also, if you tailor those uniform coveralls to fit, you have the uniforms of the Starfleet of the NX-01 Starship Enterprise.”

(6) BRIAN ALDISS, CURMUDGEON. Kim Huett had to take a short hiatus from Doctor Strangemind which he is determined to make up with a new 3,400 word article “about a story that Brian Aldiss assures me is only 3300 words long. Still, is 3400 words too many for what Brian also assures me is the WORST SCIENCE FICTION STORY EVER!!!”

You’ll have to read the article and decide for yourselves: “Brian Aldiss & the Worst Story Ever!!!”

It is my impression that Brian Wilson Aldiss was generally considered to be a stern but fair elder statesman until he passed away in 2017. I, on the other hand, considered him to be far more curmudgeonly than that (he would never have made a passable member of the Beach Boys for example). It also my opinion that Brian Aldiss adopted his curmudgeonly persona relatively early in his career. Oh, but Doctor Strangemind I hear you all cry, Brian Aldiss was never a curmudgeon, at least not until he was old enough to carry the title with a suitable level of gravitas! Ah ha, my poor innocent audience! You have fallen into my cunningly constructed audience trap and now while you lay squirming in the metaphorical mud at the bottom of the pit of unwarranted assumption I’ll just sit here on the lip above and tell you all about how in Australian Science Fiction Review #15 (published by John Bangsund in April 1968) that young curmudgeon, Brian Aldiss, did go so far as to accuse two fellow British authors of writing as he put it the, ‘WORST SCIENCE FICTION STORY EVER!!!’ To quote from Aldiss himself:

There was one story in particular in Authentic which, ever since I read it on its first appearance in 1954, had impressed me as reaching a really impressive level of badness. To my great delight, I found on reading it again that it has grown even worse over the intervening fourteen years. I therefore would like to nominate as the worst sf story ever published:

The Lava Seas Tunnel, by F.G. Rayer and E.R. James, (Authentic SF, edited by H.J. Campbell, Vol.1, no.43, March 1954.)

(7) BUJOLD AT RIVENDELL. The Rivendell Discussion Group of the Mythopoeic Society will host Lois McMaster Bujold at its April 7 meeting in Minneapolis.

(8) NEED SHARPER HEARING? Cnet says “Spock’s ‘Star Trek III’ ear tips can be yours”.

An iconic set of pointy ears worn by Leonard Nimoy in “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” are up for auction through Lelands.com and they look pretty funky when you see them up close. You’ll notice pits and wrinkles in the flesh-colored appliances. On film, they were artfully blended with make-up to match Nimoy’s own ears.

(9) CLARKE CENTER. A bonus podcast by the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination’s associate director sharing his personal reminiscence on Stephen Hawking, who passed away on March 14, 2018. Viirre was the medical director for Hawking’s trip into weightlessness on a zero gravity flight in 2007.

Only last December, he accepted the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Lifetime Achievement (his citation and acceptance speech can be seen here), during which he said, “It is no small task to be judged as having met with what would have been Arthur’s expectations for intellectual rigor powered by imagination, insatiable curiosity, and concern for our planet and its inhabitants.”

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 19, 1999 Farscape premiered on Syfy.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Cat Eldridge sent along xkcd’s suggestion for multiplying internet outrage.
  • Mike Kennedy sent Non Sequitur’s not exactly funny theory about a trend in closing bookstores.

(12) PRISONER COMICS. First shown on Canadian and UK TV screens in 1967, The Prisoner was co-created, written, directed and starred Patrick McGoohan (Scanners, Braveheart). Titan’s new comic series is released for the 50th Anniversary of the first US broadcast in 1968.

Titan Comics are excited to announce that they are partnering with print and poster house Vice Press to create a Diamond UK exclusive cover for The Prisoner Issue #1. This first-ever Vice Press exclusive cover for The Prisoner Issue #1 – designed by Star Wars movie concept artist, Chris Weston – is based on his original silk-screen poster created for Vice Press to mark the 50th Anniversary of The Prisoner hitting US TV screens.

Titan’s new The Prisoner comic series, licensed by ITV Studios Global Entertainment, is set in the world of The Prisoner – based on the celebrated cult TV series – from writer Peter Milligan (X-Statix, The Mummy) and artist Colin Lorimer (The Hunt, Harvest)…

“I’ve made no secret about how The Prisoner is my favourite television show of all time,” said Vice Press cover artist Chris Weston, “I have always wanted to create my own artistic tribute to The Prisoner. Fortuitously, my friends at Vice Press offered me the chance to fulfil my lifelong ambition to create a loving artistic homage, timed to coincide with the show’s 50th anniversary.”

(13) OSCAR’S LOVECHILD C3PO. Joal Ryan, in “Let’s revisit the spacy ‘Star Wars’ Oscars from 40 years ago” at Yahoo! Entertainment, has several clips from the 1978 Oscars, in which Star Wars was the only film of this series to be nominated for Best Picture and when Bob Hope, in his last time as Oscars MC, made some groaning Star Wars jokes.

Bob Hope, as he had done 17 times before, hosted the ’78 Oscars. The icon was 74, and this would be his last show as emcee. But he was as quick as ever with the lecherous gag, and the rat-tat-tat monologue that had been punched up with current events. (“1977 will be known as the year of Star Wars, which has grossed over $200 million,” one Hope line began. “That’s more than even some baseball players make.”)

(14) PLATYPUS NEWS. If you thought milking a cow was dangerous…. “Platypus milk: How it could combat superbugs”

Platypus milk could help combat one of humanity’s looming problems, antibiotic resistance, scientists say.

The weird creatures have a duck’s beak, venomous feet and are one of only two mammals able to lay eggs.

Australian scientists discovered in 2010 that the semi-aquatic animal’s milk contains a potent protein able to fight superbugs.

They’ve now identified why, and say it could lead to the creation of a new type of antibiotic.

(15) ALEXA BASHING. Paris Martineau at The Outline says “Hey Alexa, shut up”. My question is: would Paris say that if it was a man’s voice?

Why do voice assistants need to talk so much? If you’ve ever used one of Amazon’s ridiculous, yet rather addictive (I have two) Echo products, you know what I’m talking about: Whether you’re setting a timer, or asking her to play a podcast, Alexa just won’t shut the fuck up. Even when you give it a relatively simple command (like, “Alexa, set an alarm for 6 a.m.,” or “Alexa, set timer for five minutes”) it always responds with either a partial or total repetition of your phrase (“Okay, alarm set for 6 a.m. tomorrow,” or “Timer set for five minutes”), which can be more than a little annoying when it’s two in the morning and you don’t exactly want a booming robot voice waking your roommates up a wall over.

(16) DRIVING WHILE BETAZOID. From Marina Sirtis’ appearance at Dublin Comic Con last year.

Marina Sirtis (Counselor Deanna Troi) tells the hilarious story about driving the Enterprise as well as burning the bridge.

 

[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus, Mark Hepworth, John King Tarpinian, Danny Sichel, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, rcade, Brian Z., and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 2/11/18 ’The Scroll of Doctor Pixel And Other Stories’ And Other Stories

1) EXTENDING LIFE FOR ISS? TechCrunch says: “The Trump administration is reportedly moving to privatize the International Space Station”. (“I’m sorry, Dave, but it will cost you $2.5 million to open the pod bay doors.”)

The Trump administration is planning to privatize the international space station instead of simply decommissioning the orbiting international experiment in 2024, according to a report in The Washington Post

According to a document obtained by the Post, the current administration is mulling handing the International Space Station off to private industry instead of de-orbiting it as NASA “will expand international and commercial partnerships over the next seven years in order to ensure continued human access to and presence in low Earth orbit.”

The Post also reported that the administration was looking to request $150 million in fiscal year 2019 “to enable the development and maturation of commercial entities and capabilities which will ensure that commercial successors to the ISS — potentially including elements of the ISS — are operational when they are needed.”

(2) PALEYFEST. PaleyFest LA puts fans in the same room with over a hundred TV stars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood from March 16-25. This almost throws Comic-Con in the shade. Deaadline reports: “PaleyFest LA Sets Talent From ‘Handmaid’s Tale’, ‘Queen Sugar’, ‘Riverdale’ For TV Event”.

In addition to the previously announced opening night tribute to Barbra Streisand, the lineup at this year’s fest includes over 100 stars from some of the best shows making waves on television  including Seth MacFarlane, Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes, Anna Faris, Allison Janney, Thomas Middleditch, Kumail Nanjiani, Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Iain Armitage, Zoe Perry, Freddie Highmore, Rutina Wesley, Ava DuVernay, KJ Apa, and Lili Reinhart.

PaleyFest LA 2018 gives fans access to special screenings, exclusive conversations, and behind-the-scenes scoops and breaking news from the stars and creative minds behind their favorite shows. This years shows include The Orville, Will & Grace, The Handmaid’s Tale, Silicon Valley, Supernatural, The Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon, The Good Doctor, Mom, Queen Sugar, Riverdale, and Stranger Things….

Click the link to see all the stars who will be appearing for these shows —

Friday, March 16: Opening Night Presentation: PaleyFest Icon: An Evening with Barbra Streisand (7:30 pm):

Saturday, March 17: FOX’s The Orville (2:00 pm):

Saturday, March 17: NBC’s Will & Grace (7:00 pm): 

Sunday, March 18: Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale (2:00 pm):

Tuesday, March 20: CW’s Supernatural (6:45 pm):

Wednesday, March 21: CBS’s The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon (7:30 pm) 

Thursday, March 22: ABC’s The Good Doctor (7:30 pm):

Saturday, March 24: CBS’s Mom (2:00 pm):

Saturday, March 24: OWN’s Queen Sugar (7:00 pm):

Sunday, March 25: CW’s Riverdale (2:00 pm):

Sunday, March 25: Netflix’s Stranger Things (7:00 pm):

(3) CHANGING THE CHANNEL. Abigail Nussbaum covers new TV shows in “Winter Crop, 2018 Edition”.

…I don’t know if I’m going to stay in love with all of these shows (three episodes in, I’m starting to lose patience with Counterpart, for example), but they have a hook that the fall’s carefully samey procedurals don’t even try for.

  • Black Lightning – There’s a scene about halfway through the premiere episode of the CW’s latest DC superhero show that really made me sit up, and think that maybe we were about to get a genuinely revolutionary take on this increasingly problematic concept.  Retired superhero turned school principal Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) has just rescued his daughter from the clutches of a gang boss, in the process causing panic at a nightclub.  Wandering outside the club in a daze, he’s discovered by some cops, who immediately train their guns on him and order him to “get [his] black ass on the ground”.  Jefferson could comply–as he did earlier in the day when he was pulled over for “fitting the description” of a liquor store robber–and his powers mean that he isn’t in any immediate danger.  Nevertheless, a long litany of frustration, including from the earlier run-in with the police, takes its toll, and he clenches his fists and lets fly with his electric powers, leaving the cops alive but on the ground as he power-walks away.It’s a scene that feels important for two reasons.  First, because of how rarely black heroes–and black superheroes in particular–are allowed to express anger, much less allow themselves to be overcome by it.  Think, for example, of the MCU’s black heroes–Falcon, War Machine, Luke Cage, and Black Panther–and how often they’re positioned as the level-headed, or cheerful, counterpoint to a hotheaded or angsty white hero.  Even as heroes of their own stories, these characters are expected to proceed with calm deliberation, and are rarely allowed to express rage or frustration–in Civil War, T’challa is seeking justice for the recent murder of his father, and yet he spends the film acting cool and collected, while Captain America and Iron Man’s every temper tantrum is indulged and excused.  For Black Lightning to allow its titular hero to feel rage–to make that expression of rage our introduction to him as a person with powers–feels like a thesis statement, as well as a deliberate rebuke to the stereotype of the angry black man.

(4) LOST AND NOT FOUND. An interview with a student of manuscripts in The Guardian: “‘I really want to find it before I die’: why are we so fascinated by lost books? “

Does the Book of Kells lose any of its allure when a mass-produced paperback version is available to buy just feet away, in Trinity College Dublin’s gift shop? No, says de Hamel: “There are things you’ll see in an original manuscript that even a microfilm or digitised surrogate cannot convey – drypoint glosses, erasures, sewing holes, underdrawing, changes of parchment, subtleties of colour, loss of leaves, patina of handling – even smell and touch and sound, which can transform knowledge and understanding of the text when its scribes made it and first readers saw it.” So, when we mourn lost manuscripts, it’s not just over the disappearance of words, we are also losing an understanding of the process of their creation – the author’s scribbles, their hasty additions, their fraught deletions.

There are many lost books that de Hamel hopes to one day see: “The Book of Kells had more leaves in the 17th century than it does now. Are they somewhere in someone’s scrapbook? The 12th-century Winchester Bible, perhaps the greatest English medieval work of art, had a number of miniatures cut out, possibly as recently as the 20th century: some, at least, probably do exist. I really, really want to find one before I die.”

(5) HEFTY TOME. If you want a hardcover of Rosarium’s massive Sunspot Jungle, pledge the fundraiser – see details at “Sunspot Jungle: Kickstarter Exclusive Hardcover Edition”.

 On June 17, 2018, Rosarium Publishing will be turning five years old. So, we’ve decided to throw a little party. Since we like to say we “introduce the world to itself,” we just knew it had to be a global party!

Like any good party, we’ve invited some friends, acquaintances, associates, people we’ve heard good things about, and some complete strangers.

The end result is Sunspot Jungle!

A two-volume, spec fic anthology filled with stories from over 100 writers from around the world!!!

This campaign is for special hardcover editions of the anthology only available to you Kickstarter supporters.

(The paperback for Vol. 1 will be out in December while the one for Vol. 2 will be released in spring of 2019.)

(6) GAVIN OBIT. John Gavin (1931-2018): US actor who later became a diplomat, died February 9, aged 86. Screen appearances include the horror classic Psycho, the psychological drama Midnight Lace (both 1960), two episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1963/65). Reportedly signed up to play James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever until Sean Connery agreed to return to the role, but this apparent setback allowed him to fulfil a lifelong dream to become the US ambassador to Mexico.

(7) CATHEY OBIT. Reg E Cathey (1958-2018): US actor, died February 9, aged 59. Genre appearances include Star Trek: The Next Generation (one episode, 1993), The Mask (1994), Tank Girl (1995), Grimm (three episodes, 2013), Banshee (two episodes, 2014), Banshee Origins (three episodes, 2014), Fantastic Four (2015). He also provided a voice for the video game Star Wars: The Old Republic – Rise of the Hutt Cartel (2013).

(8) JONES OBIT. Mickey Jones (1941-2018): US musician and actor, died February 7, aged 76. Genre appearances include The Incredible Hulk (three episodes, 1978-81), Galactica 1980 (one episode, 1980), Starman (1984), Misfits of Science (one episode, 1985), ALF (one episode, 1986), Probe (one episode, 1988), Something Is Out There (six episodes, 1988), Total Recall (1990), It Came From Outer Space II (1996), Penny Dreadful (2006), Necrosis (2009), Deadtime Stories (one episode, 2013).

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

(10) WOODEN YOU LIKE TO KNOW? Another case where a gang of facts dismantle a wonderful story: “Did Abraham Lincoln sleep here?”

Visitors to a small log cabin in Kentucky are right to ask: Is it true that Abraham Lincoln slept here? On the eve of Lincoln’s 209th birthday tomorrow, Brook Silva-Braga has the answer:

Professor Henri Grissino-Mayer has come to Hodgenville, Kentucky to solve a mystery almost as old as Abraham Lincoln himself.

Silva-Braga asked, “So, someone pulls off the highway, sees you guys drilling into this cabin and says, ‘What are you doing here?’ what do you say to them?”

“What we’re trying to do is authenticate when this cabin was made by using the tree rings in the logs,” he replied.

(11) VESTED INTERESTS. In the past five years Disneyland has experienced growth in these social groups, and now two are in court — “They’re Disneyland superfans. Why a lawsuit is alleging gangster-like tactics against one social club”.

They stroll through Disneyland in packs of 20 or more, motley crews that resemble a cross between the Hells Angels motorcycle gang and a grown-up Mickey Mouse Club with their Disney-themed tattoos and their matching denim vests strewn with trading pins and logos.

Disneyland social clubs, by most accounts, are harmless alliances of friends and family who meet up at the park to share a nerdy obsession for all things Disney. With club names such as Tigger Army and Neverland Mermaids, how threatening can they be?

… But a lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court has revealed a dark undercurrent to the pastime. The head of one club has accused another of using gangster-like tactics to try to collect “protection” money for a charity fundraiser at the park.

The lawsuit reads like mob movie set in a theme park. The plot revolves around the Main Street Fire Station 55 Social Club, whose leaders claim they have been bullied and terrorized by the head of the White Rabbits Social Club.

(12) LOOKBACK. The British Science Fiction Association’s Vector does a science roundup in “Vector’s pick of science news in 2017”.

First of all, water. Two new inventions for increasing the supply of drinking water caught our eye:

In other exciting news regarding fluids, albeit less immediately applicable: scientists have made a fluid with negative mass. But then, the usefulness of inventions is often hard to judge….

(13) I’VE BEEN TO OKLAHOMA, BUT I’VE NEVER BEEN TO KLINGON. Even people in Tulsa have heard about it now — the Tulsa World ran a story about the Swedish production Hampus Eckerman brought to our attention last month — “Brush up on your Klingon for a new vacation hotspot”.

In search of a new and different vacation spot, with great food and cultural delights? Look no further.

A theater in Stockholm is playing host to a Klingon delegation seeking to promote tourism to Qo’nos (pronounced “Kronos”), the home planet of the ruthless yet honorable race of warriors from the cult TV franchise “Star Trek.”

(14) DOESN’T LEAVE MUCH TO WATCH. At Superversive SF, Anthony M tells about the unrewarding experience of trying to “retake the culture” — “The Problem of the Scold” [Internet Archive page].

Right now those of us on the cutting edge of the coming revolution in the entertainment field face a very thorny problem: We are scolds.

Brian Neimeier has – correctly, in my view – pointed out that we should simply be refusing to see films and shows written by people who hate us and that direct their hate at us.

So no Star Wars. No Star Trek. It is looking increasingly likely that Marvel movies are just about done. Television? Forget it, pretty much. Netflix, the exceptions are few and far between. Should we be supporting Netflix anyway?

… They get annoyed at me. I’m a killjoy. I’m a wet blanket. I see politics in everything. I’m ruining their fun. And of course, in a sense, they are exactly right. Nobody wants to hear me bash “Frozen”, because it will ruin the movie for them. And they like the movie!

I have turned myself into a scold. Many of us have. Nobody likes scolds. We’re negative and we annoy people. And scolding so far has not worked outside of getting people who already agree to clap their hands.

(15) PRECEDENT. NPR looks at influences on the world of the new movie — “Black Panther’s Mythical Home May Not Be So Mythical After All” – and finds a similarity to a historic African empire built on trade instead of military might.

There are different theories about the real-life inspiration for Wakanda. Ta-Nehisi Coates, who authored a reboot of the Black Panther comic series, explained his in this post for The Atlantic’s website. But the actor Chadwick Boseman, who plays Black Panther on screen, told The New York Times that Wakanda is a fictional version of “the Mutapa empire of 15th-century Zimbabwe.”

So how does the mythical Wakanda compare to the real-life Mutapa?

Stretching from modern-day South Africa into Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Zambia, the kingdom of Mutapa thrived from the early 1400s to about 1760.

“Mutapa operated on three basic levels: they had a capital city, provinces and little villages,” says Professor Angelo Nicolaides of the University of South Africa. Chiefs ruled at each of these levels under the supreme authority of the king, known as the Munhumutapa.

Like so many other kingdoms that believed in the divine right of kings, “the Mutapan people believed that their leaders were placed in positions of authority by the creator,” says Nicolaides. “The oral tradition tells us that they were involved in ancestral worship to a large extent, and the people believed that the kings had a very good relationship with the spirit world.”

(16) CONFERENCE OVERLOAD IN DC. T.M. Shine has a piece in Washington Post Magazine about how many conventions he could go to in Washington in a week.  Among the events he went to were Fortfest 2017, the International Fortean Organization convention, and Blerdcon, which started off as a con for “black nerds” and evolved into a con for people who like to wear superhero costumes — “Net neutrality, sex, falconry: In one week, I crashed as many D.C. conferences as possible”.

I’m romping around this convention, mingling with those dressed in costume, which is basically everybody. Blerdcon started as a celebration of black nerds, and then all minority nerds, but now it seems to be simply all of us — white, black, Hispanic, Asian. My costume is weak, I admit — just me with my various conference badges — but I begin to imagine everything from laser beams to android shrapnel bouncing off them. But what would my superhero name be? Evolution Man sounds too grand. I kind of like Symposium Man, but what would his powers be? Powerful personal anecdotes that freeze listeners in their tracks? The ability to spot a raised hand from 100 yards?

(17) WHAT DRONES CAN DO. The PyeongChang Olympics opened with 1218 drones filling the sky in the formation of the Olympic flag.

Good Morning America talks about how it was done.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Steve Green, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Will R., Carl Slaughter, Jeffrey Smith, ULTRAGOTHA, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Pixel Scroll 1/22/17 How Do We Tell If A Scroll is Made of Pixels?

By JJ:

(1) MOVING FORWARD. ScreenRant broke the news that Wonder Woman 2 will be the first film to adopt the Anti-Sexual Harassment Guidelines announced on Friday by the Producers Guild of America, prior to their annual awards gala.

As reported by Variety, the PGA’s board of directors voted unanimously to ratify the new guidelines, which were then issued to the organization’s 8,200 members. PGA presidents Gary Lucchesi and Lori McCreary said of the guidelines:

Sexual harassment can no longer be tolerated in our industry or within the ranks of the Producers Guild membership. We provide key leadership in creating and sustaining work environments built on mutual respect, so it is our obligation to change our culture and eradicate this abuse. While the PGA is a voluntary membership organization, the PGA’s Anti-Sexual Harassment Guidelines are sanctioned as best practices for our members.

The Wonder Woman sequel being the first film to officially adopt these guidelines certainly makes sense considering the character’s position as a role model for girls and women everywhere (though that might not necessarily be why it will be the first to adopt the guidelines). Additionally, Jenkins’ Wonder Woman broke records for movies directed by women, solidifying it as a major step forward for gender representation in terms of Hollywood directors. Further, it was reported last year while Jenkins and Gadot were negotiating their deals for the sequel that the actress refused to sign on for Wonder Woman 2 unless Warner Bros. cut ties with Brett Ratner’s production company RatPac for the film. (Ratner was accused of sexual misconduct by a number of women, including X-Men: The Last Stand’s Ellen Page.)

(2) THE WRITING BOAT IS OPEN FOR BOARDING: Dan Wells from the Writing Excuses podcast announced that applications are open for their 2018 Writing Excuses Retreat Scholarship:

The sixth annual Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat makes a triumphant return to the Caribbean Sea! We begin in Houston, TX, on September 22; we’ll visit Roatan, Belize City, and Cozumel; and then we’ll end up back in Houston again on September 30. You can find all the other info, including our incredible guest list, here.

We are also delighted to report that we are offering more scholarships in 2018 than ever before: five! One of these is sponsored by the hosts of Writing Excuses, one by our amazing patrons on Patreon, and three (3) by our incredibly awesome alumni. They’ve been on the retreat (sometimes more than once), they love it, and they want to share it with as many people as possible.

As always, our scholarships come in two categories: three Out of Excuses Scholarships, awarded to those in financial need, and two Carl Brandon Society Scholarships, awarded to writers of color. Both categories have introduced us to some incredible writers in the past, and we can’t wait to see who we get to meet this year. Share this post with everyone you know, read the rules carefully, and apply!

Workshop presenters announced thus far include Amal El-Mohtar, Piper Drake, Maurice Broaddus, Kathy Chung, K Tempest Bradford, Valynne E Maetani, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler.

(3) I SEE YOU SHIVER WITH ANTICI

(4) FURY STILL TO BE UNLEASHED. On an update to the Kickstarter for the Hath No Fury anthology of fantasy, science fiction, and urban fantasy tales featuring lead characters inspired by women from literature, history, and film, editor Melanie R. Meadors announced that Outland Entertainment has committed to complete the anthology after the original publisher, Ragnarok Publications, shut down:

The good news is that Outland Entertainment has absorbed all the rights to Ragnarok’s anthologies. The books will continue to be in print, and Hath No Fury will be published as well. The files for the books are currently being processed so that they have the copyright and logo info updated, and Hath No Fury is being sent to the printer. There has been a super long delay with that, and Outland wants you to know they are really sorry about that. The money Ragnarok received for this Kickstarter had been used for other business expenses by Ragnarok, and so Outland had to figure things out in order to get backer rewards paid for out of their own pocket. The money to pay for all printing expenses and shipping, etc for the Kickstarter backers is now earmarked and ready to go, however, and the only delay right now is with printing – in order for printing to be done as efficiently as possible, Outland is doing a batch printing order with another project, and they just had to wait for that to finish up in order to submit the job.

I know you folks have been itching to get your hands on the books, and communications have been sparse. I apologize for that. Outland wanted to be sure to try to get accurate information out there instead of giving a lot of false starts and dates based on hopes. I don’t have an exact date yet (the head of the other project’s mother just passed away, so as soon as he’s back to work, I can get more details on that), but it WILL be this spring, and the money for the printing and processing IS earmarked and will not be going anywhere. I’m really grateful to Outland for helping to make all this happen, especially for absorbing such a huge cost to them for fulfilling the Kickstarter. More details are forthcoming as far as what is shipping when, and when folks can expect to get surveys. Again, I apologize for the delays and the gaps in communication, but going forward we should see some real progress.

The Kickstarter had more than doubled its $14,500 goal, receiving $32,047 in pledges.

(5) KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY MAUSOLEUM. Tina Romero, daughter of the grand master of zombie horror George A. Romero, will be directing zombie movie Queens Of The Dead, according to ScienceFiction.com:

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as it now looks like Tina Romero is going to be directing a new feature film titled Queens of the Dead. With George A. Romero creating the modern zombie and his son Cameron busy at work with Rise of the Living Dead, it seems like the undead are becoming a family affair. Tina had previously announced that she was working on a new horror web-series with Tom Savini but now that partnership will also have a new movie as well.

There is no news if this movie will be part of the Night of the Living Dead universe or set in her own world and will just be paying tribute to her father’s work with the title.

As to what the movie will be about and what inspired her to do it?

“Queens of the Dead is a fusion of two huge parts of my world: zombies and Gay nightlife. It’s a tribute to my father as well as my entrée into the genre he grandfathered. I can’t say too much yet, but what I can tell you is that this film will have all the hallmarks of a George A. Romero classic: farce, politics, heroes, assholes, and most importantly, herds of silly and slow-moving walkers that you can’t help but love. But I’m doing it Tina-style, and bringing the glitter, choreography, queers & queens.”

Basically, it boils down to showing us “the zombie apocalypse, seen through the eyes of the patrons at a drag nightclub.” Now, that is an idea which hasn’t been done before and could prove to be full of humor and heart.

(6) DARKNESS FALLS. All 1,225 Episodes of vintage TV series Dark Shadows have been released on Amazon Prime Streaming, says Bloody Disgusting:

Depicting the lives, loves, trials and tribulations of the wealthy Collins family of Collinsport, Maine, where a number of supernatural occurrences take place, the American gothic television series “Dark Shadows” aired from June 27, 1966, to April 2, 1971 on ABC. The show ran for five years, delivering a staggering 1,225 episodes.

As of this week, you can stream EVERY episode through Amazon Prime US & UK!

The Wikipedia entry for the cult series offers this description:

The series became hugely popular when vampire Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) appeared ten months into its run. Dark Shadows also featured ghosts, werewolves, zombies, man-made monsters, witches, warlocks, time travel, and a parallel universe. A small company of actors each played many roles; as actors came and went, some characters were played by more than one actor.

Dark Shadows was distinguished by its vividly melodramatic performances, atmospheric interiors, memorable storylines, numerous dramatic plot twists, adventurous music score, broad cosmos of characters and heroic adventures.

(7) SETTING PRIORITIES. The NASA History Office came up with this gem right before they turned out the lights:

(8) GOODNIGHT EARTH. In a lengthy piece, “What Happens to Astronauts During a Government Shutdown?“, The Atlantic verifies that the astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) won’t be completely abandoned:

As the wheels of the U.S. government ground to a halt Friday at midnight, thousands of federal employees prepared to face days or weeks without work or pay until their offices reopened.

Some employees will continue working through the government shutdown, however, including the three with the longest commute: NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Joseph Acaba, and Scott Tingle. Despite the political tussle that closed most of the government on Saturday, the American part of the International Space Station remains open for business. Mission-control staff, considered “essential” personnel, will keep working, too, to support the astronauts.

Phew. And, well, obviously! After all, NASA can’t exactly press pause on the work of keeping humans alive in microgravity 200 miles above Earth, even if Congress missed the deadline for the government running out of money.

“To protect the life of the crew as well as the assets themselves, we would continue to support planned operations of the ISS during any funding hiatus,” states a NASA plan, published in November, that outlines protocols for a potential government shutdown.

(9) HOUSTON, CAN YOU READ ME? Former ISS Commander Chris Hadfield reminisces about the last time the lights went out:

(10) QUICK, WHILE THEY’RE NOT LOOKING.

(11) SAY, ARE YOU RELATED TO…? Author and Filer Laura Resnick posted a diary of an unnamed convention where she was a guest, exposing the sordid truth concealed behind the glamorous myths about a midlist writer’s life. Here’s a spine-tingling excerpt:

At dinner, am required to sit at assigned table and be available to interested attendees.

Overhear attendees say, “All the good seats are taken, I guess we’ll have to sit here,” a moment before they sit down at my table.

Table gradually fills up with disappointed attendees who had hoped to sit with someone better than me at this meal.

No one at table sits next to me. The chairs are empty on either side of me. I suggest someone might like to sit closer to me. No response.

Nearest person on left asks me, “Are you any relation to Mike Resnick, the science fiction writer?”

I respond, “Yes, he’s my dad.”

Ten minutes later, nearest person on right asks me, “Are you any relation to Mike Resnick?”

(Old man will enjoy this. Must make sure he never finds out.)

Otherwise, not much said to me throughout meal.

(12) A FUTURE INFORMED BY BLACKNESS. Mic, a digital news media site, discusses revolutionary Afrofuturistic elements in “Black Panther isn’t just another Marvel movie – it’s a vision of a future led by blackness.”

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

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

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

(13) CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. New York native Frederick Joseph’s GoFundMe campaign to set up screening of Black Panther for children has gone viral, says ABC News.

Joseph knew he wanted to give back to his community in some way and with the highly-anticipated Black Panther hitting theaters next month, he decided to try and raise funds to send a few hundred kids from the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem for free.

But what has happened over the last few days since his GoFundMe page launched is something straight out of the pages of Marvel Comics.

Joseph’s original goal of $10,000 has been well surpassed and now stands at around $25,000 and climbing. More than 500 people have donated. The campaign also boasts support from Chelsea Clinton, J.J. Abrams and ESPN’s Jamele Hill.

After seeing his goals exceeded so quickly and enthusiastically, Josephs issued the #BlackPantherChallenge:

… start a @gofundme to buy tickets for kids in your city to see Black Panther. If you’re a teacher, buy tickets for your entire classroom. If you’re a coach, take your team. If you’re a community leader, do some organizing and get the kids and parents in your community to the theater. 10 campaigns that answer the #BlackPantherChallenge will receive a $100 donation from GoFundMe.

Comicbook.com reports that rapper Snoop Dogg has announced that he will fund one of the NYC screenings and a screening for kids in Los Angeles, as well as donating funds to Joseph’s GoFundMe campaign.

Joseph’s GoFundMe now stands at $42,642 of $10,000 goal.

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:

(15) FINALLY NAMING NAMES. Compulsive list-maker and Filer James Davis Nicoll has made the first in a new series of posts over at Tor.com, Fighting Erasure: Women SF Writers of the 1970s, A Through F.

You may have been annoyed by recurrent comments from a certain surprisingly flammable Waterloo-region reviewer. He complains about the erasure from SF memory of women writing SF back in the 1970s – but has that reviewer ever bother to name names? Suggest books? I think not. It is time to confront the erasure directly. Forward! Excelsior!

In an attempt to keep this list to a manageable length, I will focus on women authors who first published in the 1970s. That means skipping some significant authors who were already active at the time. I also reserve the right to cheat a bit by including a few works published after the 1970s. I am also going to break this list into several installments, beginning with A through F. Which should tell you just how many women have been erased. Whole binders full of women.

(16) SO THAT’S WHAT’S UNDER THERE. In a comment on File770, RedWombat (aka Ursula Vernon) says:

I went through what I called an “objectified Scotsman” phase about two months ago. A very specific, very silly genre, mostly tied to kilts, existence thereof, and what may or may not be worn underneath them.

You have to be absolutely in it for the romance, there is no comedy of manners, and they run INTENSELY formulaic (and I say this as one who respects romance enormously as a genre, couldn’t write it, and believe it deserves an immense amount of respect) but they are hella fun for comfort reads.

Structure goes as follows:

Act One: Arranged Marriage

HIM: I hate the English.

HER: Goddamn.

Act Two: Love

HIM: I still hate the English, but this one’s mine.

HER: Hot damn!

Act Three: The Clans Go To War

HIM: Let’s kill those other English!

HER: Oh, damn.

(17) THE TOR BOYCOTT HAS SUCCEEDED.

(18) NOW THAT YOU MENTION IT. Angered by what he apparently perceived to be too many “girl cooties” ruining his childhood in The Last Jedi, a Mens’ Rights Activist released last week a version of the 152-minute movie called “The Last Jedi De-Feminized Fanedit”, with the female characters almost completely excised. The resulting movie is (wait for it…) 46 minutes long. Dorkly’s Tristan Cooper takes one for the team and reports on the result.

I know. Part of you kind of wants to see this tragic, insecure shitshow. Don’t worry, you don’t have to scrub through the sketchier side of the internet just to satisfy your morbid curiosity – I’ve already done that for you. I watched the De-Feminized Fanedit of The Last Jedi, and I can tell you with authority that it’s even worse than you think…

In response, Twitter user Logan James released his own gender-edited films:

(19) MOTOR CITY COMIC MADNESS. SFF Author Saladin Ahmed has a new comic book, Abbott, debuting on January 24, set in 1972 Detroit. The Detroit Free Press gives us the lowdown:

Whether she’s arriving at a crime scene, standing up to her boss or just listening at home to John Coltrane albums, Elena Abbott is cool.

So cool that the fictional newspaper reporter is the title character of a new comic book series set in 1972’s “two Detroits: one white, one black” – a place where “the former would rather leave the city than truly share it with the latter.”

(20) BUT WAIT UNTIL AFTER THEIR BEDTIME. I’m Going to Outer Space by Timothy Young is a picture book for your little SF lover – and for the adults who will delight in spotting the Enterprise, a Space:1999 Eagle, and the Jupiter-Two among the spacecraft in the illustrations, and Bender, Robby, “the Robot”, Daleks, Maria, and many other old friends among the robots in the illustrations. An Amazon reviewer describes it as “the Where’s Waldo? for science fiction fans”.

(21) THAT’LL TAKE THE WIND OUT OF YOUR CAPE.

(22) FOLLOWING IN HIS FATHER’S STARSTEPS. Director Duncan Jones, whose film Moon won a Hugo Award in 2010, has produced another science-fiction movie Mute, which will debut on Netflix on February 23. Jones is better known in some quarters as the son of The Man Who Fell to Earth, David Bowie.

 [Thanks to Andrew, Bonnie McDaniel, Chris M., Cora Buhlert, Hampus Eckerman, James Davis Nicoll, lauowolf, Laura Resnick, Lee Billings, Mark-kitteh, Paul Weimer, RedWombat, Robin A. Reid, and ULTRAGOTHA for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 Contributing Editor of the Day JJ.]

Pixel Scroll 1/20/18 Where All The Pixels Are Strong, All The Files Are Good Looking, And The Scrolls Are Above Average

(1) EPPS HELD BACK. BBC reports U.S. astronaut Jeanette Epps, who was a guest at the 2015 Worldcon, has been taken off her assigned mission to the ISS: “Nasa removes US astronaut from ISS mission”

The US astronaut Jeanette Epps has been removed from her upcoming mission to the International Space Station (ISS) just months before launch.

Dr Epps was to have been the first African-American astronaut assigned to the space station crew.

She would have flown aboard a Russian Soyuz flight in June but is being replaced by another astronaut.

Nasa has not given a reason for withdrawing her but says she will be considered for future missions.

(2) BYUTV SERIES EXTINCT NOW IS. BYUtv has cancelled its pioneering series Extinct, the post-apocalyptic SF show directed by Ryan Little and written by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston. It ran ten episodes since it premiered on October 1, 2017 and was BYUtv’s only second scripted show, (the first being its science-fiction-y Granite Flats).

(3) FORREST J ACKERMAN IN 1996. Fanac.org has posted a recording of a one hour interview of Forry Ackerman, conducted by Rich Lynch.

Forry Ackerman, winner of the first fan Hugo Award, tells the stories behind his creation of the long running magazine “Famous Monsters of Filmland”, Vampirella, and the science fiction service award, the “Big Heart”. Here’s your chance to find out how Yvette Mimieux, Harlan Ellison, Poul Anderson and George Pal had a bit part in Forry’s creation of Vampirella. In this 1996 interview by Richard Lynch, conducted at LACon3, Forry talks about his movie career (over 50 cameos!), and tells anecdotes about the fans and professionals he knew during his long and productive career. Includes great anecdotes about Dr. David Keller, Bela Lugosi and E. Everett Evans. The audio recording is enhanced with more than 50 images.

 

(4) JOELCRAFT. At Birth. Movies, Death., in “Someone Realized An HP Lovecraft Poem Maps Perfectly to Billy Joel’s ‘Piano Man’”, see four different versions!

To repeat, this individual discovered that this 100-year-old poem by HP Lovecraft tracks almost perfectly to “Piano Man” by Billy Joel. Just reading it, you can almost hear it.

But we at BMD wanted to actually hear it. We saw this tweet yesterday morning and immediately begged a musically talented friend of ours to do the right thing here. He of course agreed. But in the time it took him to arrange, record, and send the song to us, SOMEONE ELSE HAD ALREADY DONE IT. Ladies and gentlemen, the talented and expedient Julian Velard, appearing here as “HP Joelcraft”:

 

More videos at the link.

(5) CARLTON OBIT. Bob Carlton, who created Return to the Forbidden Planet, has died.

The writer and director created the jukebox rock and roll musical, which is loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, in the mid-1980s. It later transferred to the West End and won the Olivier award for best new musical in 1990.

Carlton was also artistic director of the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch for 17 years, stepping down in 2014.

(6) SHEARMUR OBIT. The Hollywood Reporter says producer Allison Shearmur has died.

Allison Shearmur, who produced the Hunger Games films, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story, died unexpectedly Friday at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles after a battle with lung cancer. She was 54.

Shearmur was an executive at Paramount and Lionsgate before making a transition to a producer role, becoming involved in some of the biggest movies in recent years.

She was an executive producer on 2017’s Power Rangers and was casting Disney’s The One and Only Ivan, which she was producing with Angelina Jolie.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Can it be Shelob has captured Charlie Brown? See Lio.

SUPERMAN NO LONGER GOING COMMANDO. Or so says John King Tarpinian. Inverse has the story: “Superman Puts On His Red Trunks Again in Landmark ‘Action Comics’ #1000”.

But the costume! This is more than just a special outfit for a special cover of a special issue. It will be Superman’s new outfit going forward, marking yet another change in Superman’s wardrobe within the last few years.

Back in 2011, in an effort to modernize Superman (as well as the rest of the DC Universe), many DC heroes got big costume changes as part of the hard reset, dubbed the New 52. Decked out in armor instead of spandex, Superman also ditched his red trunks in favor of a plain red belt. He also had a turtleneck. Superman went through another change in 2016, during Rebirth, and in early 2017 had a few more tweaks that included the return of his long red boots. Now, an older version of Superman is back, but no matter what Clark Kent is still just a farm boy from Kansas who is now raising his own family.

By the way, Superman never wore “underwear.” As confirmed in an issue of Action Comics #967 in 2016, the red “undies” (as Jon Kent put it) were just a “decorative element.” The suit was all one piece.

(9) ANOTHER COMPANY READIES FOR SPACE COMMERCE. The second test flight of the Electron rocket has succeeded in placing 3 small sats in orbit — “Rocket Lab Electron reaches orbit on second launch”. The plan is for frequent launches (approximately weekly), enabled by the sparse air traffic.

The Electron lifted off from the company’s launch site on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula at 8:43 p.m. Eastern (2:43 p.m. local time Jan. 21) on the second day of a nine-day launch window for the mission….

As the second stage shut down, launch controllers declared that the vehicle was in orbit. The stage subsequently released its three payloads, a Dove cubesat for Planet and two Lemur-2 cubesats for Spire. Planet later confirmed that its cubesat was in orbit and communicating following the launch.

…The launch was the first for the Electron after the vehicle’s inaugural flight in May 2017 failed to reach orbit. The company said that the rocket worked as planned on that mission, but a telemetry problem triggered range safety systems about four minutes after liftoff, ending the mission.

In an interview earlier this month, Beck said that if the second launch was successful, the company would move ahead into commercial service with the rocket. Beck said in the post-launch interview that was still the case, but didn’t set a date for the next mission beyond rolling the vehicle out at the launch pad “in the coming months.” The customer for that launch, if it is a commercial mission, has not been announced.

(10) A TEACHING MOMENT. Yahoo! News tells that the “ISS astronauts will complete Challenger teacher’s science lessons”.

On January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded during liftoff. Onboard were seven astronauts, one of which was teacher Christa McAuliffe. She was selected from over 11,000 applicants for the position of NASA’s Teacher in Space. McAuliffe had plans to conduct lessons from Challenger; now those lessons will finally take place from the International Space Station.

Over the next few months, astronauts Joe Acaba and Ricky Arnold will conduct four of McAuliffe’s six planned lessons, focusing on liquids, effervescence, chromatography and Newton’s laws. They will be filmed and then posted online by The Challenger Center, which focuses on outreach to students about STEM topics in memory of the Shuttle and her crew.

[Thanks to Dave Doering, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Bonnie McDaniel, Errol Cavit, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

Pixel Scroll 2/23/17 We Scroll Not Because It Is Easy, But Because It Is Hard

(1) NAME THAT TRILOGY. The game show where you figure out the title of the third movie based on the first two! And who is our contestant today, George?

(2) NUANCES OF LESTER DENT. Cat Rambo’s new Doc Savage post — “Reading Doc Savage: The Spook Legion”.

Hideous and amazing! Let us begin. Leo does, of course, send off the telegraph and soon after Doc Savage calls on the phone. He points out certain subtleties we might have missed earlier:

The mysterious circumstances surrounding the appearance of the message then came out. Dr. Savage heard it through without comment then advised, “There is probably no A. N. Onymous listed in your directory.”

Leo Bell looked in the directory.

“No,” he said. “There is not.”

“The name was the result of a trick writing of the word ‘anonymous,’” Doc pointed out. “The dictionary defines an anonymous work as one of unknown authorship, which seems to fit in this case.”

Lemony Snickett has nothing on Lester Dent. Leo and the night manager discuss the mysterious telegram and then vanish from the book, never to be seen again.

(3) THEY’RE BLACK, AREN’T THEY? Blastr says “We’re finally going to find out what black holes look like. Sort of.”

We think we know what black holes look like. NASA renderings and sci-fi special effects artists usually imagine the eerie glowing ring of an event horizon around what appears to be an impenetrable dark chasm. It happens that they aren’t so far off from the truth — and a groundbreaking (sky-breaking?) telescope is about to prove it.

Supermassive black holes have long been suspected to lurk at the center of every galaxy, including ours. These mysterious phenomena were initially predicted by Einstein’s Theory of Gravity over a hundred years ago. Don’t get any time-travel ideas yet, but their gravitational power is intense enough to warp space-time. Activity that occurs at the edge of one of these dark leviathans can actually ripple through the entire galaxy it resides in. Despite their awe-inspiring power that has fueled pages and pages of brilliant science fiction and even an iconic Muse song, no one has actually ever seen one.

(4) SAVING TED’S HOME. Ted White’s appeal “Save My House” has funded. He asked for $15,000, and within two days 352 donors have given $17,948.

(5) LAWLESS AND DISORDERLY. “Stories ripped from the headlines” as it’s famously said about one TV franchise. Amanda Bressler tells readers of the HWA Blog how to profit from this strategy in her post “Horror in the Headlines: Using the News for Novel Ideas”.

Multiple points of view While good journalism tries to cover a story in a balanced way, you really never get the whole picture. Everyone involved in a tragedy or mysterious event will have a slightly different version of what happened. Fiction gives authors the ability to explore and create those various angles through multiple points of view. School shooting novels especially use this tactic as these encounters are so personal—the gunman, the victims, the bystanders are the friends, teachers, siblings, and classmates with whom there is history and relationships. Allowing for many first person accounts gives a fuller picture of this tangled web of high school connections and emotions that culminate in a horrific and terrifying event.

The book Violent Ends takes a unique approach to multiple points of view by giving 17 YA authors one chapter each to write from the perspective of a student in a high school that has been taken hostage by a fellow classmate. It achieves an even more complex study into what would drive a person to such violence, and the variety of styles throughout the book make for a more interesting reading experience.

(6) WHO KNEW? The President of SFWA may be mighty but she is not in charge of your Wikipedia entry.

(7) ODDS AGAINST. Meanwhile, a former SFWA President swats another fly – “Reminder: There’s No Such Thing as an Automatic Award Nomination”.

Over at Inverse, writer Ryan Britt is annoyed that two of his favorite science fiction books of the year, Death’s End by Cixin Liu, and Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey, are not on the Nebula list of nominees for Best Novel. His argument for both basically boils down to they’re both amazing so they should be obvious nominees, obviously, which to be fair is the same general argument anyone makes when they complain about something they love getting what they perceive to be a snub for whatever award they think the thing the love should be up for….

…It’s pretty much 100% certain this didn’t happen here; instead, people just voted for the novels they preferred, and preferred other books.

But Death’s End and Babylon’s Ashes were good books! Indeed they were. But there were five Best Novel slots available on this year’s Nebula ballot and dozens of SF/F novels (at least!) of sufficient quality to make the ballot. The two novels that Britt points out are only a couple of the novels that could have been on the ballot, from the perspective of quality, but aren’t. There are — thankfully — always more good SF/F novels in a year than may fit on a Nebula ballot.

And not just novels but novellas, novelettes, short stories, YA novels and screenplays, those being categories that SFWA awards annually. I mean, let me use me as an example: My novella The Dispatcher was eligible for the Novella category this year. It was very well reviewed, had a huge audience, and is already up for other awards. I’m a well-known and (mostly) liked science fiction writer, and former president of SFWA, so I’m also familiar to the folks who nominate for the Nebula. The Dispatcher should be a shoo-in for a nomination, yes? Yes! I say yes! A thousand times!

(8) THE FLY STRIKES BACK. Swatted is just a metaphor, of course, for while people were reading Scalzi’s fine-tuned mocking, his target, Ryan Britt, was busily (buzzily?) typing a reaction piece, “Science Fiction Awards are Basically Bullshit”. But he writes as if he suffered an actual rather than metaphorical concussion. Today, for a brief and shining moment, Britt seemed to understand how works get shortlisted for the Nebula, something he misstated in Tuesday’s post (“Two Huge Sci-Fi Novels Were Snubbed by the Nebula Awards”) —

In order for something to make it on the ballot of the Nebulas, it has to be nominated by members or associate members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. This is a little better than the Hugo nominating process, which is loose enough to create loopholes that let all sorts of bigoted groups to hijack the process. But still, the non-insider fan gets bamboozled: SFWA ignores great science fiction writing published outside of the places they usual look. The Nebulas and Hugos will nominate books about fantasy worlds and spaceships, but when the technological sci-fi speculation gets closer to home, those types of books tend to be overlooked. And this doesn’t mean they aren’t finding really obscure, indie sci-fi authors. Just the opposite. Mainstream literary fiction — which is totally sci-fi — gets snubbed by the Nebulas and the Hugos completely.

Unfortunately, by the last paragraph he was again telling people the Nebula finalists are the product of a “nominating committee.” His syntax was pretty groggy, too —

This year, the Nebula Nominations have proven again that they’re nominating committee is only seeing half the picture. With two huge science fiction novels nowhere on the list — Death’s End and Babylon’s Ashes — it feels like a good time for fans can start looking elsewhere for good science fiction book recommendations.

(9) USE YOUR PLACE AT THE TABLE. What to do after you’ve been to the ISS: “After Making History In Space, Mae Jemison Works To Prime Future Scientists” at NPR.

On encouraging more women and minorities to enter math and science

I think that there are really important things that we have to do with students to get them to succeed in science, to go on and stay with careers. And that includes the idea of being exposed to something.

So if you know that those things exist, it makes it easier for you to get involved. For example, it helps to know what an engineer is. It helps to know what a biotechnician is, so you’re not afraid of it.

Then, it’s experience. When you do hands-on science, you learn to — you learn about electricity by wiring a flashlight. And then it’s expectation. And that expectation is, we should expect our kids to succeed and to achieve. Children live up or down to our expectations. And so, I always call it the three E’s: experience, expectation and exposure.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 23, 1896 — Tootsie Roll introduced by Leo Hirshfield.

(11) YESTERDAY IN HISTORY

  • February 22, 1957  — Incredible Shrinking Man premieres.

(12) COMIC SECTION. John King Tarpinian recommends the LOTR joke in today’s Brevity.

(13) A BOLD DEFENSE. In Kate Paulk’s Mad Genius Club post she never names the person she is standing up for.

So when a controversial figure’s book deal is suddenly canceled because of a manufactured furor (not even over the content of the lies used to create that furor because the publisher has printed and supported far worse from those who happen to have not had the howling mobs roused against them) it impacts all of us readers and authors.

For the record, I don’t give a flying fuck what that – or any other author – does in privacy with consenting partners. Even if I would be squicked to high heaven by the details if anyone was crass enough to tell the world. I don’t care what he – or anyone else – believes as long as it’s not being shoved down my throat and nobody is being damaged by it. If I don’t like the author’s behavior or politics I don’t have to buy their books and I certainly don’t have to read them. I am sufficiently mature that I do not see the need for a legion of sensitivity readers to take their works and massage them into bland, tasteless pap.

What I care about is that someone who has – objectively – done not one damn thing wrong is the subject of a coordinated effort to not merely silence him, but disappear him. I’ve seen this happen in the past. It happened to Larry Correia. To Brad Torgersen. I didn’t get the full force of it last year, but instead got the cold shoulder of people doing their best to pretend I’d already been disappeared

(14) WRITERS GUILD AWARDS. SciFi4Me points out that Arrival hasn’t lost all the awards to its song and dance rival:

LaLa Land may be the heavy favorite to sweep the Oscars this year, but on February 19 the Writers Guild of America (WGA) awarded Best Adapted Screenplay to the underdog science fiction film Arrival.

Here are some WGA winners of genre interest.

FILM NOMINEES

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Arrival, Screenplay by Eric Heisserer; Based on the Story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang; Paramount Pictures- WINNER

TELEVISION AND NEW MEDIA NOMINEES

ADAPTED SHORT FORM NEW MEDIA

“Part 4” (Fear the Walking Dead: Passage), Written by Lauren Signorino & Mike Zunic; amc.com – WINNER

CHILDREN’S EPISODIC

“Mel vs. The Night Mare of Normal Street” (Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street), Written by Laurie Parres; Amazon Studios – WINNER

VIDEOGAME NOMINEES

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN VIDEOGAME WRITING

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Written by Neil Druckmann, Josh Scherr; Additional Writing Tom Bissell, Ryan James; Naughty Dog – WINNER

(15) NO BUCK ROGERS, NO BUCKS. Jim C. Hines continues to analyze the data from his latest survey — “2016 Novelist Income Results, Part 4: Impact of Marketing and Promotion”.

Does this mean the time and money I spent last year as a large-press author traveling to signings and conventions and doing online promotion was completely wasted? Not necessarily. We’re looking at overall trends, and any individual data point might buck a given trend. (Also, correlation =/= causation. I think I’ve said that on every post so far.)

There’s also the question about how you’re spending that time. 20 hours spent standing on a street corner wearing a BUY LIBRIOMANCER! sign probably wasn’t as effective as 20 hours spent researching reviewers and sending out targeted review copies of my book.

(16) SPACE STATION OF THE APES. First there were snakes on a plane. Now there’s a gorilla on the ISS.

Astronauts aboard the international space station recently had a surprise visitor, but it wasn’t an alien.

In a video posted on Twitter, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly dresses up in a gorilla suit and chases his colleagues around the space station.

Kelly’s brother, Mark Kelly, posted a video of the incident on Monday with the hashtag #ApeInSpace.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day bookworm1398.]