Pixel Scroll 4/1/19 Scroll Over Beethoven

(1) A WISE SAYING TO SUIT THE DAY.

(2) APRIL FOOLISHNESS. Here’s a prank that was hard to miss – because the perpetrators e-mailed me the link to the Haines in 2021 Westercon bid.

Haines in 2021 is the byproduct of several days of post-travel exhaustion and mild annoyance at all of the kvetching about the Tonopah bid. You want a bid somewhere that isn’t dry and hot, has no risk of you wandering out into the desert, and that you don’t have to drive several hours to get to? Fine, then! Haines, Alaska solves ALL of those problems!

What we lack in experience, we make up for in location! What we lack in location, we make up for in…well, you didn’t want the experienced team putting together your Westercon, so that’s on you.

Getting there is twice the fun of being there:

By Road: The Alaska Marine Highway System accepts cars for transport. However, if you want to avoid a long ferry ride you can drive from Seattle to Haines in only 34 hours (entering and exiting Canada) via Skagway, involving a short ferry ride.

(3) A MORE OBVIOUS JOKE: Nerdbot gets into the spirit of the day with a news flash — “BREAKING: George Lucas to Film New Star Wars Trilogy”. Clever artwork accompanies the rumor “of a new Jar Jar Binks story line, including the confirmation of him being the one, true Sith lord and the current Emperor of the New Galactic Empire.”

(4) DIVE INTO THE PACIFIC. Juliette Wade’s latest Dive Into Worldbuilding interview is with Vida Cruz about Philippine mythology.

…We started by discussing Vida’s story “Odd and Ugly,” which she describes as a retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in Spanish colonial Philippines. In this tale, the Beast is a Kapre, a kind of hairy giant who lives in a tree and smokes cigars, while Beauty is a farm girl. The story is told in second person from the Beast’s point of view. Vida told us that she had written about these two characters in different iterations, and the Beauty and the Beast portion of the story came last.

Since the Spanish were in the Philippines for over 300 years, education has been heavily influenced by them. There is a dearth of good literature about the early colonial period. When Vida attended Clarion workshop in 2014, she did more research for that story….

Read the summary and/or watch the interview video:

(5) BACK TO THE HAGUE. Here’s a new flyer for Reunicon 2020, the celebration planned for the 30th anniversary of the Worldcon in the Netherlands.

In short, we have now organized a World Science Fiction Congress in The Hague 28 years ago (and 30 years in August in 2020), in which we had rented the congress building and also many hotel rooms in The Hague, including the then Bel Air hotel was our headquarters. The SF congress lasted five days and had around 3500 visitors from around the world, in addition to thousands of so-called “supporting” members, who could not come but did support our congress. More information via: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/48th_World_Science_Fiction_Convention

It was a huge success at the time. And they have been asked for a follow-up for years. As remaining committee members, we have decided to respond to this at the 30th anniversary in 2020 in the form of a kind of reunion meeting, a so-called REUNICON 2020.

(6) TIPTREE CORRECTION. Ben Roimola, Editor-in-chief and publisher of the only Swedish language sf-fanzine in Finland, Enhörningen (www.enhorningen.net) spotted something in the Tiptree Award press release that needed correcting. He contacted Pat Murphy, who shared it with me, and you may find the explanation equally interesting. He writes: 

I am thrilled and extremely happy to see Maria Turtschaninoff’s novel ”Maresi” on the Tiptree Honor List! It’s such a great novel (as are all her novels) for readers of all ages from YA upwards. Thank you for choosing it among the honor list!

BUT, there is a small error in the text about the novel. On the web page (https://tiptree.org/2019/03/gabriela-damian-miravete-wins-2018-tiptree-award-honor-and-long-list-announced) your write ”This young adult novel was translated from Finnish.”, but the novel was actually translated from Swedish. You see, Finland is a bilingual country with Finnish and Swedish as the official languages (and Sami as a third one in the northern parts). Maria Turtschaninoff is part of the minority of Finns who have Swedish as their main language. Yes, she is a Finn and the novel is published in Finland and it is a Finnish novel, BUT it is written and published in Swedish. ”Maresi” has been translated in Finnish, but the English translation is, of course, made from the original Swedish language novel.

We Swedish speaking Finns are such a small minority (anly about 5% of the population), that it is understandable to make an error such as the one you made, but we do exist and want to point out the fact that we do. 🙂

(7) EYES WIDE SHUT. At The Believer, B. Alexandra Szerlip revives one of Hugo Gernsback’s enthusiasms in “Vintage Tech: Learn While You Sleep (Hypnopaedia)”, about programs that allegedly educate you while you are sleeping.

“Hypnopaedia aka Sleep Learning had been thrust upon the world in 1921, courtesy of a Science and Invention cover story. Echoing Poe, Hugo Gernsback informed his readers that sleep ‘is only another form of death,’ but our subconsciousness “is always on the alert.’  If we could ‘superimpose’ learning on our sleeping senses, would it not be ‘an insatiable boon to humanity?/’ Would it not ‘lift the entire human race to a truly unimaginable extent?’

Gernsback proposed that talking machines, operating on the Poulsen  Telgraphone Principle (magnetic recordings on steel wires) be installed in people’s bedrooms.  The recordings library would be housed in a large central exchange; subscribers could place their orders by radiophone.  Then, between midnight and 6 AM,requests would be ‘flashed out’ over those same radiophones, onto reels, each with enough wire to last for one hour of continuous service.  Eight reels would give the sleeper enough material for a whole nights’ work!”

(8) AH! SWEET IDIOCY! “Laney himself would not allow it to be reprinted during his lifetime, evidently fearing lawsuits,” says Fancyclopedia 3. What fan can resist that bait? Today David Langford added Francis T. Laney’s Ah! Sweet Idiocy! to his free ebook page – download it here. And chip in a bit for fan funds if you please.

This infamous memoir and polemic about the 1940s Los Angeles fan scene was published in 1948. This first ebook edition was added to the TAFF site on 1 April 2019. Cover painting of Laney by Dan Steffan. 85,000 words of Laney plus 18,000 of additional material for a total of 103,000 words.

Please be warned that a few passages display a level of homophobia perhaps excessive even by 1948 standards.

Francis Towner Laney’s many brief and often affectionate character sketches of contemporaries may be of more interest now than all the fiery rhetoric about political machinations and (gasp) homosexuality in and around the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, a gigantic arena of controversy in which world-shaking elections could be deadlocked with 8 votes to 8. Still-remembered subjects of Laney “vignettes” include Forrest J Ackerman (alternately a close friend and deadly rival), Fritz Leiber, Clark Ashton Smith and A.E. van Vogt, while among his offstage correspondents were Anthony Boucher and August Derleth. Ah! Sweet Idiocy! has always been controversial: Fancyclopedia 3 notes that “Canadian faned Beak Taylor reportedly quit fandom after reading it. Laney himself would not allow it to be reprinted during his lifetime, evidently fearing lawsuits.”

David Langford has added brief notes on abbreviations never or only belatedly explained in the text; with help from Robert Lichtman, a summary of its reissues since Laney died; and from Rob Hansen’s photo archive, contemporary snapshots of Laney and many other featured fans. Also included are Harry Warner Jr’s 1961 appraisal and Alva Rogers’s 1963 rebuttal of Ah! Sweet Idiocy!, “FTL & ASI”.

Rob Hansen has posted a page of photos from the 1930s and 1940s that are in addition to those he supplied for the ebook: “LASFS & Others, 1930s/40s”.

(9) TAILS OF THE TEXAS RANGERS. In “A Dinosaur Tried To Throw The First Pitch at a Rangers Game And It Did Not Go Well” on mlb.com, Andrew Mearns says the Texas Rangers had Roxy the dinosaur throw out the first pitch at Globe Life Park to promote Dino Day at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.  But Roxy didn’t do well because dinosaurs have very weak arms!

(10) WHERE THE SCARES COME FROM. NPR’s Linda Holmes discusses how “Fears Are Forever In Jordan Peele’s ‘Twilight Zone'”. SEMI-SPOILER WARNING — lots of context/spoilers for older work; spoiler-free for first four new episodes.

What is the scariest thing you can imagine?

The Twilight Zone ran from 1959 to 1964. It was adapted into a film in 1983, then revived on television for brief runs in 1985 and 2002. Now, it returns on CBS’s streaming service CBS All Access, hosted and executive produced by the man who may be America’s most exciting filmmaker, Jordan Peele. He developed the new version alongside a team of executive producers including Simon Kinberg and Glen Morgan (Morgan was one of the primary writers behind The X-Files). Peele, in his films Get Out and Us, has spent a lot of time thinking about one of The Twilight Zone’s central questions, going back to original creator and host Rod Serling: What is the scariest thing you can imagine?

It’s true that Serling’s show was always connected, both in text and in subtext, to events of the moment. The fear of nuclear annihilation was ever-present in characters who built shelters and feared missiles. Allegories connected to the civil rights movement and other efforts to escape systemic injustices were common. Space travel was everywhere, both as opportunity and threat. The human legacy of endless war hung over the world always. Not-fully-trusted technology, like robots and large airplanes, held dangers, while technology that felt like it might arrive soon, like time travel, perhaps held even more.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 1, 1885 Wallace  Beery. He starred in the first adaptation of Doyle’s The Lost World, filmed in 1925. He’d be Long John Silver in a 1930s adaptation of Treasure Island, and he was in Robin Hood with Douglas Fairbanks. (Died 1949.)
  • Born April 1, 1926 Anne McCaffrey. I read both the original trilogy and what’s called the Harper Hall trilogy oh so many years ago. Enjoyed them immensely. No interest in the later works she set here. And I confess that I had no idea she’d written so much other genre fiction! (Died 2011.)
  • Born April 1, 1930 Grace Lee Whitney. Yeoman Janice Rand on Star Trek. She would reach the rank of Lt. Commander in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Folks, I just noticed that IMDB says she was only on eight episodes of Trek. It seemed like a lot more at the time. Oh, and she was in two video fanfics, Star Trek: New Voyages and Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. (Died 2015.)
  • Born April 1, 1942 Samuel R. Delany, 77. His best works include Babel-17, The Einstein Intersection and the Return to Nevèrÿon series. He is one of the most honored writers in the history of the genre, a well-deserved accolade. My short must read list for him includes The Jewels of AptorDhalgrenBabel-17 and Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand
  • Born April 1, 1953 Barry Sonnenfeld, 66. Director of The Addams Family and its sequel Addams Family Values (both of which I like), the Men in Black trilogy (well one out of three ain’t bad), and Wild Wild West (what a piece of shit that is). He also executive produced Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events which I’ve not seen, and is the same for Men in Black: International, the forthcoming possible reboot of that series. 
  • Born April 1, 1960 Michael Praed, 59. Robin of Loxley on Robin of Sherwood which no doubt is one of the finest genre series ever done of a fantasy nature. He also played Phileas Fogg on The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne, an amazing series that think ever got released on DVD. 
  • Born April 1, 1963 James Robinson, 56. Writer, both comics and film. Some of his best known comics are the series centered on the Justice Society of America, in particular the Starman character he co-created with Tony Harris. His Starman series is without doubt some of the finest work ever done. His screenwriting not so much. Remember The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? Well that’s him. 
  • Born April 1, 1964 Marcus Hutton, 55. He’s making the Birthday list because he played Sgt. Leigh In “The Curse of Fenric” story on Doctor Who during the Seventh Doctor. It’s one of the best stories done in the Sylvester McCoy years. 
  • Born April 1, 1997 Asa Butterfield, 22. He played the young Mordred in the Merlin series and Norman in Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, also was in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children as Jacob “Jake” Portman. He was Gardner Elliot, a Martian boy who travelled to earth in The Space Between Us. 

(12) SIGNAL BOOSTED. Wow – we made the big time!

(13) THE HORROR. I Like Scary Movies is making its first stop in Los Angeles. Ticket info at the link.

I Like Scary Movies is a groundbreaking interactive art installation celebrating some of your favorite films, including the first chapter of IT, The Shining, The Lost Boys, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Beetlejuice!

• We have timed entry every 15 minutes so that you aren’t waiting in line just to get in! Visitors can expect to spend an average of 90 minutes on their quest to capture their own iconic moments as they explore the rich worlds that have come to life.

• This first-of-its-kind exhibit spans 25,000 square feet (nearly half a football field!) and features amazing large-scale photo opportunities!

• Come play with us! “Sink” into the infamous carpet from the The Shining’s Overlook hotel and explore “redrum” hedges. Swallow your fear as you pass through the jaws of IT’s Pennywise and explore the clown’s sewer lair. Have a seat in the throne of Freddy Krueger and step into his boiler room to become snatched by his giant glove from A Nightmare on Elm St. Then have a turn as recently deceased guests in the Netherworld waiting room before visiting Beetlejuice’s graveyard. Test your strength as you hang from the Santa Clara train tracks before becoming part of a “noodle” dinner from The Lost Boys. These are just a few things that fans will interact with on their way to the Gift Shop at the end of the journey, where we’ll have exclusive merchandise for you to take a part of your experience home with you!

• The exhibit does not feature “scare actors” or strobe lights.

(13) HERLAND AUTHOR. Kate Bolick, in “The Equivocal Legacy of Charlotte Perkins Gilman” at the New York Review of Books website, praises Gilman’s pioneering horror short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” and her dystopia Herland, but also notes her support of racism and eugenics.

… There is a snake in this garden, however—not in the plot, but in Gilman’s conception of this utopia-in-her-time: a desire for racial purity. For all her progressiveness when it came to equality for the sexes, Gilman was a xenophobe, a regrettably common response at the turn of the last century to the waves of immigrants resettling in urban areas. This prejudice dovetailed with her simultaneous embrace of eugenics, then a respectable academic field and a widespread enthusiasm even among, or especially among, social reformers. Between her passion for science and sociology and her constitutional faith in the forward march of progress, Gilman was quick to adopt the idea that some human populations are genetically superior to others, and that by playing to the strengths inherent to each race, poverty could be eradicated and society vastly improved. 

Moreover, at a time when sex education and effective birth control weren’t widely available, Gilman saw in eugenics an answer to the scourges of sexually transmitted diseases (a major public-health issue until penicillin was found to treat syphilis in 1943) and involuntary motherhood. Feminists and activists in general were divided over eugenics: Margaret Sanger, Emma Goldman, and Olive Schreiner all shared Gilman’s views, while Jane Addams, Lillian Wald, and Florence Kelley fought against them.

(14) BE HISTORY. Marquette University, which has a huge J.R.R. Tolkien collection, wants to hear from fanboys and girls for an oral history project about the author. 

Check out this story on USATODAY.com: “Here’s your chance to become part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s oral history”.

Marquette is kind of a pilgrimage site for Tolkien fans. I thought we should collect their voices,” says William Fliss, curator of Marquette’s Tolkien collection.

Fans are given just three minutes to briefly expound on why they love Tolkien. To help people distill their thoughts, Fliss asks them to answer three questions:

When did you first encounter the works of J.R.R. Tolkien?

Why are you a Tolkien fan?

What has he meant to you?

(15) AFRO FANTASY ALBUM. NPR’s Michel Martin reports that “Fantasy Collides With African Culture In Blitz The Ambassador’s ‘Burial Of Kojo'”.

On his 2014 album, Afropolitan Dreams, hip-hop artist Samuel Bazawule, also known as “Blitz the Ambassador,” vividly describes his journey from wide-eyed immigrant to multinational success story. In one song he declares: “I think I’m relocating back to Ghana for good.”

And, he did.

Taking leave from his home in Brooklyn and returning to the country of his birth was a fateful decision that Bazawule credits as the inspiration for his first feature film, The Burial of Kojo. The modern fable of a young girl navigating the spirit realm to find her father after his mysterious disappearance, the film takes place entirely in Ghana, using a cast and crew made up almost entirely of locals.

The Burial of Kojo caught the eye of producer and director Ava DuVernay , who acquired it earlier this year for distribution by her production company, ARRAY. On Sunday, the film makes its premieres on Netflix — the first original film from Ghana to be released on the streaming platform.

(16) THRONE FOR A LOOP. “A Game of Thrones Fan Traveled To The Arctic As Part Of A Worldwide Scavenger Hunt”. Chip Hitchcock comments, “As someone who works convention logistics, I want to know how the throne got there without everyone noticing the activity.”

Some fans watch Game of Thrones. Others live it.

The final season of the HBO hit television series premieres in two weeks. But some fans got an early treat this month when the TV network challenged people to a worldwide scavenger hunt.

For those who don’t watch the show, the ultimate symbol of power in the fictional Game of Thrones kingdom of Westeros is the Iron Throne. So, HBO placed six of them in different locations around the world and tweeted the hashtag #ForTheThrone, along with a cryptic 12 second video. Fans could also view hour-long 360-degree videos of the thrones in various terrains.

Soon after, fans around the world began their quests.

One of those individuals was Josefine Wallenå, a 25-year-old gamer and project manager from Sweden.

After looking at one of HBO’s tweeted clues closely and its caption, she realized one of the thrones might be nearby.

(17) LIVE! FROM THEIR MOTHER’S BASEMENT. “Dead Pixels: A comedy ‘about gamers for gamers'” — looks like this is UK-only for now, but most UK content seems to get spread around eventually.

Dead Pixels is a new comedy about gamers that promises to be “on their side”.

One of the stars of the show, Alexa Davies, tells Newsbeat: “It’s about fully understanding where people who play come from.”

Part live action and part computer animation, the show is based on a fictional game called Kingdom Scrolls.

“A lot of the funny bits are about characters’ frustrations with the balance between real life and the game,” says Alexa.

(18) WELL, DID IT? The question in Rowan J. Coleman’s headline is a tad blunt – “Crusade – Did It Suck?”

Following the landmark Babylon 5 is no easy task, but J.Michael Straczynski took a stab at it with Crusade. Was it any good?

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Pat Murphy, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Gray Anderson, 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 3/16/19 Hit Me With Your Pixel Stick, One Weird Fandom Click Click Click

(1) FANS LOSE THEIR SHIRT OVER ELLISON DESIGN. A Harlan Ellison Facebook Fan Club member pointed out that a Hawaiian shirt seller on Etsy was offering a colorful fractal collage of Ellison images.

The first fan to respond made the mistake of saying admiringly, “I think I’m going to order it” and was instantly schooled how outraged Ellison would have been to discover someone attempting to profit from unlicensed sales of his image (nor without paying the photographers who took the pictures). Fans shared their ire with Etsy store owner Ed Seeman and the Ellison shirt was taken down. However, Seeman’s hundreds of other similar designs involving movie and TV celebrities, famous scientists, and classical composers, are still on offer. These include William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, John Williams, and “Stephan” King.

(2) THINGS WRITERS HAVE TO DO BESIDES WRITE. Jeff VanderMeer came up with one I haven’t heard before:

It looks like a hawk got a dove on the ground near one of the feeders while we were out. From the spread of feathers and lack of body or any parts, I think it’s a hawk rather than a cat. Honestly, I sure hope it was a hawk, because if it was a cat I have to get out the supersoaker, fill it with orange juice, and spend a lot of time quietly waiting in the shadows and I have so much else to do.

(3) JEDI FASHION STATEMENT. The Orange County Register blabs practically everything about one of Disneyland’s forthcoming Star Wars experiences: “Step-by-step preview of the lightsaber-building experience coming to Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge”.

Padawan learners strong with the Force will be able to build their own lightsabers using scavenged parts from fallen Jedi temples inside a covert workshop hidden from the watchful eye of the First Order when the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens at Disneyland.

The build-your-own lightsaber experience will take place in Savi’s Workshop — Handbuilt Lightsabers when the 14-acre land debuts May 31 at the Anaheim theme park.

The new Galaxy’s Edge themed land will be set in the Black Spire Outpost on the planet of Batuu, located on the outer rim of the “Star Wars” galaxy. Every shop and restaurant in the village will have an extensive backstory and proprietor from the “Star Wars” universe.

The handbuilt lightsaber workshop will be run by Savi, who owns a space junkyard near the main entrance to Black Spire Outpost. The scrapper has been collecting lightsaber pieces from throughout the galaxy in hopes a true hero with the ability to assemble the parts would one day enter his shop. That day is today and that hero is you.

… Builders will choose from four lightsaber styles:

  • Peace & Justice, reflecting the Jedi style from the Republic era
  • Power & Control, a Sith style reflective of the Dark Side of the Force
  • Elemental Nature, using natural components like Brylark trees, Cartusion whale bones and Rancor teeth
  • Protection & Defense, incorporating components with ancient and mysterious motifs and inscriptions

(4) E.B. WHITE AWARD. “‘Bridge to Terabithia’ author Katherine Paterson wins E.B. White Award for literature” – the Burlington Free Press has the story:

Children’s-book author and Montpelier resident Katherine Paterson was announced Monday as the winner of the E.B. White Award, given once every two years by the American Academy of Art and Letters “in recognition of an exceptional lifetime body of work.”

Paterson, best known as the author of “Bridge to Terabithia,” receives $10,000 for the award that is given for achievement in children’s literature. The most recent winner, in 2017, was Judy Blume.

According to the biography on her website, Paterson has written more than 30 books, including 16 novels for children and young people. She won the Newbury Medal for American children’s literature in 1978 for “Bridge to Terabithia” and in 1981 for “Jacob Have I Loved.” She received the National Book Award in 1977 for “The Master Puppeteer” and 1979 for “The Great Gilly Hopkins.”

The Award jury members were Judy Blume and Alison Lurie.

(5) NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON SHOWS TO GO BACK ON AIR. Variety reports “Neil deGrasse Tyson Will Return to National Geographic After Assault Investigation” although little is said about what the investigation learned.

National Geographic Channel has completed its investigation into “Cosmos” and “StarTalk” host Neil deGrasse Tyson, and will move forward with both shows. The channel didn’t elaborate on its findings, however.

“‘StarTalk’ will return to the air with the remaining 13 episodes in April on National Geographic, and both Fox and National Geographic are committed to finding an air date for ‘Cosmos,’” the network said in a statement. “There will be no further comment.”

“Cosmos: Possible Worlds” and “Star Talk” have been in limbo for months, since Nat Geo launched an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against the famed astrophysicist.

Fox had originally scheduled the new season of “Cosmos” to premiere on Sunday, March 3, while Nat Geo had slated a second window to begin on Monday, March 4. Both networks later had to scrap those plans.

 (6) 2020 WORLDCON WEBSITE UPDATE. CoNZealand will unveil its changed website design on St. Patrick’s Day.

New Membership Site coming!

We are about to release our new Membership site. Barring any problems, we expect to open the site on March 17th, 2019, around 3PM NZST.

Our new system will include some new features.

  • New accounts will be created for Pre-supporting Members;
  • Membership upgrades will become available for Pre-supporting Members;
  • Lay-by instalment payments will become available for the purchase of new Memberships and to upgrade existing Memberships;
  • Existing membership numbers from our current online system will be increased by 2000. So if you are member #19, you will become member #2019. Because it’s the future. 
  • New fields will be added to the form to give people registering online the same options as those who registered on the paper form.

(7) DITILLIO OBIT. Writer Larry DiTillio, who became well-known to fans while serving as executive story editor on Babylon 5, has died at the age of 71. Before Babylon 5 he wrote for many TV shows, several of them also run by J. Michael Straczynski who recalled for Facebook readers their years of friendship and its end:

…Larry never pulled his punches, and that frankness requires stating that we did have our differences from time to time. Larry could be fractious, and I think he sometimes resented being brought on by me as a lieutenant. He was talented enough to be a show-runner on his own, and being constantly a second-in-command chafed to the point that he began carving out his own pocket universe in B5. He wanted to show that he could do what I was doing, which for me was never even a question, I just didn’t want him doing it when I was trying to tell a story in a straight line in a way that no one had ever done before. But things became increasingly difficult between us, the friendship strained and broke, and we parted ways after season two.

We didn’t speak again for nearly ten years. And that was very hard for me. I don’t make friends often or easily, and Larry was probably my closest friend, right alongside Harlan Ellison. We’d celebrated birthdays and went to conventions together, shared a love of comics and terrible movies and he even got me to do some gaming for a while, which was his greatest love, and we had dinner together more times than I can even begin to count. And now all that was gone, and I was lost.

Straczynski and DiTillio co-hosted local Pacifica radio show Hour 25 from 1987-1989, and I met him in the studio when I was there to promote Loscon. (I’d first met Straczynski when I recruited him to be on the 1980 Westercon program).

(8) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.

Sonic More Music wants to show you the picture:

In the early days of The Velvet Underground, Lou Reed and John Cale had a day job playing Batman and Robin at birthday parties.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • March 16, 1961 –Walt Disney released The Absent Minded Professor to U.S. audiences.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 16, 1920 Leo McKern. Long involvement in the genre so I’ll be selective here. You probably know from his non-genre role in Rumpole of the Bailey where he was Horace Bailey, but I’m fond of him in three roles, the first being Professor Moriarty In The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, the second when he played, and this is a slight pun, Number Twothe chief administrator, of The Village in The Prisoner series, and the third being the great Swami Clang In Help!, a Beatles film which should be genre even if it’s not. (Died 2002.)
  • Born March 16, 1943 Susan Bay, 76. Also known as Susan Nimoy, wife of that actor. She portrayed Admiral Rollman in two episodes of Deep Space Nine: “Past Prologue” in the first season and “Whispers” in the second. Her only genre appearance, I believe, was in the Mr. Merlin series.
  • Born March 16, 1951 P. C. Hodgell, 68. Her best known work is the  Chronicles of the Kencyrath series with The Gates of Tagmeth being the current novel. She has dabbled in writing in the Holmesian metaverse with “A Ballad of the White Plague” that was first published in The Confidential Casebook of Sherlock Holmes as edited by Marvin Kaye. 
  • Born March 16, 1952 Alice Hoffman, 67. Best known for Practical Magic which was made into a rather good film. I’d also recommend The Story Sisters, a Gateway story, The Ice Queen, an intense riff off of that myth, and Aquamarine, a fascinating retelling of the mermaid legend. 
  • Born March 16, 1961 Todd McFarlane, 58. Best known for his work on The Amazing Spider-Man and Spawn. And let’s not overlook McFarlane Toys whose product could be fantastic or shitty depending on the mood of Todd on a given day. And, of course, Todd reached a deal after decades with Neil on unpaid monies due on books that Todd had done with him.
  • Born March 16, 1963 Kevin Smith. He was a New Zealand actor who was best known for being  Ares in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and in its two related series – Xena: Warrior Princess and Young Hercules. He also voiced Ares for Hercules and Xena: The Animated Movie: The Battle for Mount Olympus. And it looks like his last role was as Valdemar in the abysmal Riverworld movie. (Died 2002.)
  • Born March 16, 1964 Gore Verbinski, 55. He is best known for directing the first three films of the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise. I see he’s also responsible for Mouse Hunt (a delightful film), Rango (ok going downhill here) and hitting rock bottom, The Lone Ranger
  • Born March 16, 1966 David Liss, 53. Writer of Spider-Man: Hostile Takeover, novelization of Marvel’s Spider-Man whichis a 2018 action-adventure game. Comics writer, Black Panther: The Man Without Fear and Sherlock Holmes: Moriarty Lives series. Not at all genre but his trilogy of novels starting with A Conspiracy of Paper and featuring Benjamin Weaver, a retired bare-knuckle boxer, now a thief-taker, a cross between a PI and bounty hunter, are highly recommended by me. 
  • Born March 16, 1971 Alan Tudyk, 48. Best known, I think, as Hoban “Wash” Washburne in the Firefly metaverse. His current role is the very, very irritating villain Mr. Nobody in the excellent Doom Patrol series on the DC Universe streaming service. For at least the first several episodes, he narrated the episodeswhich was really annoying as it included references to everything meta including Grant Morrison and universe creating goat farts. They dropped that aspect mercifully. 

(11) BESIDES THE WRINKLE. At The Paris Review, Frankie Thomas’ YA of Yore column recalls “The Creepy Authoritarianism of Madeleine L’Engle”. It’s L’Engle’s mainstream YA novels that inspire the title.

…It was strange to go to school at night, and in a taxi with my father instead of on the bus. The book-signing took place in the elementary school gymnasium, noisier and more crowded than I’d ever seen it during the day; the event was open to the public and full of strangers. I carried two books for L’Engle to sign. One was my mother’s childhood copy of A Wrinkle in Time, which embarrassed me—surely everybody would bring that one!—but my mother had insisted. To correct for this, I also brought Troubling a Star, my favorite L’Engle novel and no one else’s. I hoped it would communicate to L’Engle that I was a different caliber of reader.

The line to meet L’Engle was so long, and I was so short. I couldn’t see her until it was my turn—then I was face to face with her. She was older than I’d expected. Her gray hair was cropped shorter than in her author photo. In my memory she looms quite tall even while seated at the book-signing table; I’ve always assumed this was the exaggerated perception of a very small nine year old, but apparently she was indeed very tall.

She smiled an impersonal smile at me, the same smile she must have smiled at thousands of other kids. She wrote her name, nothing more, inside my books. She did not say, “Wow, Troubling a Star? That’s an unusual choice!” She did not say “You are to be a light-bearer” or “You see things invisible to lesser mortals” or “I love you, Frankie, love you like my daughter.” If she said anything at all, I don’t remember what it was. The whole thing was over so quickly…

(12) SHH, IT’S A SECRET. Rebecca Lewis, in “Black Panther cast had no idea they were auditioning for a Marvel movie” on Metro was told by Winston Duke he auditioned for Black Panther using fake sides for a non-existent movie, and it wasn’t until Ryan Coogler showed up at his third audition that he began to realize he was auditioning for a Marvel movie.

(13) MEAN CUISINE. Clearly the demand is there!

(14) LOOK AT THE PRETTY PICTURES. SYFY Wire assembled an “Emerald City Comic Con Day 2 cosplay gallery”.

(15) EVOLUTIONARY ADAPTATIONS. For those keeping score at home, Adam Whitehead tells what all the Love, Death & Robots episodes are based on:

(16) FINDING 451. Parvati Sharma revels in the feeling of “When a book finds you” at The Hindu BusinessLine.

For a lover of second-hand books, buying a book pales in comparison to the sheer delight of chancing upon one

I was dying to read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. I’d discovered him through my mother and a cover-less paperback that contained her favourite Bradbury short story The Veldt, about two kids so addicted to their virtual reality (VR) nursery that they feed their parents to VR lions. But even at his most gruesome (and prescient?), Bradbury has a sheer open-mouthed enjoyment of the strange and unexpected — from him, I learned to love dystopia. I even tried to write it. “He chocked. He was chocking. He would be chocking until death,” I wrote, aged 11, before taking things to a grim conclusion: “Then suddenly his head burst”.

A world in which books were crimes? It was a dystopian vision that held a particular thrill — in such a world, I might be a criminal.

So I was burning to read it, Bradbury’s novel about a book-less future, but it did not occur to me to look for it in a bookshop. I was sure I would find it on the book-strewn pavements of Daryaganj in Delhi….

(17) THE SWARM. BBC explores “How swarming drones will change warfare”.

The swarm robots are coming and they could change the way wars are fought.

In February, the defence secretary said “swarm squadrons” will be deployed by the British armed forces in the coming years.

The US has also been testing interconnected, co-operative drones that are capable of working together to overwhelm adversaries.

Low-cost, intelligent and inspired by swarms of insects, these new machines could revolutionise future conflicts.

From swarming enemy sensors with a deluge of targets, to spreading out over large areas for search-and-rescue missions, they could have a range of uses on and off the battlefield.

But just how different is “swarm” technology from the drones that are currently used by militaries across the globe? The key is self-organisation.

(18) BEFORE YOU BUY. Looking for book reviews? There are links to all of these at Todd Mason’s  Sweet Freedom: “Friday’s ‘Forgotten’ Books and More”. The reviewer’s name comes first, then book title and author’s name.

  • Patricia Abbott: Sleep While I Sing by L. R. Wright; What It Might Feel Like to Hope by Dorene O’Brien
  • Paul Bishop: the Gunships series by “Jack Hamilton Teed” (Christopher Lowder) 
  • Les Blatt: Three Witnesses by Rex Stout 
  • John Boston: Amazing: Fact and Science Fiction Stories, April 1964, edited by Cele Goldsmith Lalli 
  • Ben Boulden: Snowbound by Richard S. Wheeler; Things to Come, January/February 1955, the catalog of the (Doubleday) Science Fiction Book Club 
  • Brian Busby: The Bright Path to Adventure by Gordon Sinclair 
  • Peter Enfantino and Jack Seabrook: Warren Comics (Creepy and Blazing Combat), October to December 1965, edited by Archie Goodwin
  • Will Errickson: The Manitouby Graham Masterton 
  • José Ignacio Escribano:Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks by John Curran
  • Curtis Evans: Swing, Brother, Swing by Ngaio March
  • Paul Fraser: The Great SF Stories 5 (1943) edited by Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg; Unknown Worlds, June 1943, edited by John W. Campbell, Jr. 
  • Barry Gardner: Kahawa by Donald Westlake
  • John Grant: The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig; The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro
  • Aubrey Hamilton: Death in the Quadrangle by Eilis Dillon
  • Rich Horton: Antic Hay by Aldous Huxley; PITFCS: Proceedings of the Institute for Twenty-First Century Studies edited by Theodore R. Cogswell; Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart;
  • Jerry House: The Select (aka The Foundation) by F. Paul Wilson 
  • Kate Jackson: three novels by Michael Gilbert; 
  • Death in Store by Jennifer Rowe 
  • Tracy K: Turncoat by Aaron Elkins
  • Colman Keane: Cast the First Stone and Heart of Stone by James W. Ziskin
  • George Kelley: The Great SF Stories 7 (1945) edited by Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg
  • Joe Kenney: Cold Iron by “Robert Stone Pryor”
  • Margot Kinberg: The Division Bell Mystery by Ellen Wilkinson
  • Rob Kitchin: Winston’s War by Michael Dobbs
  • B. V. Lawson: The Port of London Murders by “Josephine Bell” (Doris Collier Ball)
  • Evan Lewis: Half Past Mortem by John A. Saxon
  • Jonathan Lewis: Journey into Fear by Eric Ambler
  • Steve Lewis: The Goodbye Look by “Ross Macdonald” (Kenneth Millar); “Eurema’s Dam” by R. A. Lafferty; Lemons Never Lie by “Richard Stark” (Donald Westlake); “Schroedinger’s Kitten” by George Alec Effinger
  • Mike Lind: Dashiell Hammett, Man of Mystery by Sally Cline
  • Todd Mason: best of the year horror fiction annuals for 2016
  • Jess Nevins: some women writers of horror from around the world 
  • John F. Norris: The Flight of the Doves by Walter Macken
  • Patrick Ohl: In the Best Families by Rex Stout (hosted by Kevin Tipple)
  • Scott D. Parker: Weird Western Tales, December 1973, edited by Joe Orlando
  • Matt Paust: The Trail to Seven Pines by Louis L’Amour; Ways of Looking at a Woman by Caroline Hagood
  • James Reasoner: “Blitzkrieg in the Past” by “John York Cabot” (David Wright O’Brien), Amazing Stories, July 1942, edited by Ray Palmer
  • Richard Robinson: A Blaze of Glory by Jeff Shaara
  • Gerard Saylor: Murdaland, #1 (2007), edited by Michael Lagnas
  • Jack Seabrook: “One More Mile to Go” by F. J. Smith, Manhunt, June 1956, edited by Scott Meredith 
  • Steven Silver: Convergent Series by Larry Niven
  • Victoria Silverwolf: Fantastic: Stories of Imagination, July 1963, edited by Cele Goldsmith-Lalli
  • “TomKat”: Challenge the Impossible: The Final Problems of Dr. Sam Hawthorne by Edward D. Hoch
  • David Vineyard: The Seven Sleepers by Francis Beeding

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, John A Arkansawyer, Michael Toman, Todd Mason, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 4/20/18 A Fool And His Pixels Are Soon Parted

(1) SF IN NYT. Amal El-Mohtar’s latest Otherworldly book review column for the New York Times covers “Princesses, Priestesses and Time Travel: What’s New in Science Fiction and Fantasy”

What does it mean to retell a story? Does it mean dressing up a familiar tale in different clothes? Reading it against its grain? Replacing parts of a story like boards in a ship, until an old story’s shape is built of entirely new wood? This month, I’m looking at recent books that are all retellings of one sort or another.

(2) EDITORS YOU RECOGNIZE. Amber Troska pays tribute to two editors in “Shaping the Speculative Fiction World: Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling”.

It is difficult to overestimate the tremendous value of editors. The contributions that authors make to their respective fields, and their impact on the readers that encounter their work, can’t be overstated either, of course—but it is equally important to remember that no truly great author goes it alone; there are always strong editors behind the scenes, shaping the individual stories themselves as well as the publishing world at large. The Hugo Awards are named for an editor, after all.

Yet I can count most of the editors I recognize by name on one hand. Even with such a limited group to choose from, only two have had an extremely significant, identifiable impact on me as a reader: Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow. I could never hope to cover everything the two have contributed to the publishing world—their careers have stretched too far and are too varied and far-reaching for me to do them full justice. However, there are several projects that are worth looking at in order to appreciate their impact and get a sense of how influential their work has been, and continues to be.

(3) AFRICAN SF EDITORS. From The Minnesota Review: “Editor Interview: Mazi Chiagozie Fred Nwonwu and Chinelo Onwualu of Omenana”.

Mazi Chiagozie Fred Nwonwu and Chinelo Onwualu are co-founders and editors of Omenana, a web-based literary magazine dedicated to publishing speculative/sci-fi/fantasy fiction by African writers. In this interview with Uche Okonkwo, Mazi Chiagozie and Chinelo talk African speculative fiction, life lessons, and writing and publishing as a labour of love.

UCHE OKONKWO: This idea that Africans don’t write sci-fi/fantasy/speculative fiction is, I believe, part of the reason you started Omenana. Where do you suppose this idea comes/came from and why did/does it persist?

MAZI CHIAGOZIE: I think it comes from that general misconception that Africa is a backward place that hasn’t played any notable role in man’s journey to the stars. So even Africans look at Africa as this place whose people only concern themselves with war, famine, dancing, and procreation. It’s a view that has been propagated for a long time and has now come to offer a copout for people who don’t want to do the work needed to unravel the complexity that is Africa and her varied nations and peoples. We are doing our bit to change the perception, but it continues to persist. And with Wakanda being a fictional place, will continue to persist.

CHINELO ONWUALU: I think the idea that Africans don’t write speculative fiction is born out of the rather racist definitions that limit what speculative fiction is to the sorts of things written by white men in North America and Europe. Thus, when Africans write speculatively, it’s often dismissed as folklore or fable telling.

I feel many of us have adopted this same attitude as part of the deep-seeded practicality that is common with a lot of oppressed groups. Because our systems are so broken – often by colonialist design – we don’t see a lot of value in imaginative endeavours that might divert our energies from the struggle for daily survival. Combined with the devaluation of cultural artefacts like our stories, traditions and beliefs, many of us end up dismissing creative pursuits as wastes of time.

(4) ONCE LESS IN THE BREACH DEAR FRIENDS. David Langford tells about a program Terry Pratchett asked him to write in “The Silicon Critic” at the Milford SF Writers blog

Milford participants often have distinctive personal crotchets when commenting on stories, and John Brunner’s (as I remember from the 1980s) was a particular sensitivity to repetition. Sometimes it seemed that the unintended re-use of a significant word too soon after its last appearance pained him more than a gaping plot hole. The “deliberate repetition for effect” card could be played only so often, especially if you hadn’t noticed the repetition of “repetition” and the fact that it’s now appeared four times in one paragraph.

Terry Pratchett was another author who worried about such things. In 1998 he invited me to write a little Windows application to monitor his own use of favourite words. This, he stipulated, was to be named Bicarb because the idea was to stop you repeating….

(5) ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST. The Hollywood Reporter picked up the con’s Twitter announcements: “Universal FanCon Suddenly Postponed a Week Before Event”

The Baltimore convention created to celebrate diversity has not been rescheduled.

A week out from its announced debut, organizers have confirmed that Universal Fan Con, the new convention created to celebrate diversity and inclusivity in fandom, will not take place and has been postponed to an as-yet unspecified date.

In a series of tweets, organizers said that they were “devastated to make this postponement decision,” and shared that there is a “contingency plan” for those whose travel to Baltimore next week was already booked and are unable to reschedule their trip.

Although no official reason has yet been given for the sudden postponement — social media accounts for the event were promoting the show as recently as yesterday — a source told Heat Vision that the event “has a financial deficit.” In January, Heat Vision talked to Universal FanCon executive director Robert Butler, who said that the Kickstarter campaign to fund the show had been “a greater success than we could have imagined,” raising twice the amount initially asked for….

One committee member announced her resignation:

One dealer publicized how the cancellation is affecting him financially – start the thread here.

The con committee now has posted a FAQ on their website: http://www.universalfancon.com/. They claim the con will be held at a later date.

Why are you postponing FanCon?

Currently we are in a financial deficit that will not allow us to operate the convention within budget. Accordingly, we have made the decision to postpone and reschedule FanCon so we can put forward the type of event our fans deserve.

Why did you wait so long to postpone the event?

The FanCon team worked really hard up to the last minute to put forward an amazing event. However, it became clear in our last team meeting that we would not be able to deliver the event the fans deserved without more time.

How long will the event be postponed?

Once we are able to fully assess our options, we will make an announcement.

(6) ANDERSON OBIT. Harry Anderson (1952-2018): US actor and writer, died April 16, aged 65. Genre roles include Tales from the Darkside (one episode, 1985), Mother Goose Rock ‘n’ Rhyme (1990), Tales from the Crypt (one episode, 1990), It (1990), Harvey (1996), Lois & Clark (one episode, 1997), Nightmare Ned (voice for video game, 1997), Noddy (one episode, 1998). He also wrote one 1992 episode of Tales from the Crypt.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born April 20, 1937 – George Takei
  • Born April 20, 1939 – Peter S. Beagle
  • Born April 20, 1964 – Andy Serkis

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lise Andreasen discovered it’s not all play time when you’re a werewolf.

(9) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman hopes you will “Share spring rolls with Stoker Award-winning author Elizabeth Massie” in Episode 64 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Elisabeth Massie

It’s time to head to Providence, Rhode Island for the final episode of Eating the Fantastic recorded during this year’s StokerCon, following my Italian lunch with Paul Di Filippo and a Portuguese dinner with Victor LaValle.

This episode I wandered off with one of the con’s Guests of Honor, Elizabeth Massie, for lunch at Apsara, a restaurant which serves up Cambodian, Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese cuisine. Massie made her first professional fiction sale 35 years ago, and since then has won two Bram Stoker Awards for the critically acclaimed novels and short stories which followed.

We discussed why Bionic Woman Lindsay Wagner is the one to thank for her Stoker Award-winning first novel Sineater, how reading Robert Bloch’s Psycho at a young age was like a knife to her heart, which episode of Twilight Zone scared the crap out of her, why you’ll probably never get to read her Millennium and Law & Order novels, her nearly impossible task of writing one spooky book for each of the 50 states in the U.S, why Kolchak: The Night Stalker was her favorite franchise to play in, the great-great grandfather who cut off his own head with a homemade guillotine, which Dark Shadows secret was only revealed in her tie-in novel, and much more.

(10) NO B5. “J. Michael Straczynski Says With Current Warner Bros. Execs, Babylon 5 Never Going to Happen”Bleeding Cool has the story:

During an extended series of tweets on Thursday evening, Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski expressed at length that the award winning science fiction series’ current television rights holder Warner Bros. has no intention of either doing anything with the license themselves, or of letting anyone else do anything with it….

(11) HELP WANTED. Hugo nominee nerds of a feather has put out a call: “New Contributors Wanted: 2018”.

Who we’re looking for: we are looking for people who (1) write well and don’t need extensive copyediting, (b) appreciate our brand of humor, (c) understand and are ready to abide by our established format and scoring system and (d) are otherwise good fits with our voice and style. We are not, however, looking for automatons who agree with the rest of us on anything and everything.

We would also like to note that one of our goals is to feature a diverse range of voices on the topics that matter to us. As such, we encourage writers of all backgrounds to apply.

Caveat: we know lots of you have awesome projects you want everyone to know about, but since these are regular contributor positions, we would like to emphasize that this would not be an appropriate forum to use for promoting that awesomeness (aside from your blogging awesomeness, of course).

(12) WHAT’S THAT SMELL? Here’s a no good very bad article for everyone to disagree with: Olivia Ovenden asks “What’s Going Wrong With Sci-Fi?” at Esquire.

“One of the problems with science fiction,” said Ridley Scott back in 2012 ahead of the release of Prometheus, “is the fact that everything is used up. Every type of spacesuit, every type of spacecraft is vaguely familiar. The corridors are similar, the planets are similar. So what you try to do is lean more heavily on the story and the characters.”

Great science fiction has always done just that. So why have a recent string of releases shown less interest in the story than the spaceships? Is sci-fi a genre in trouble?

(13) PUNCH BROTHERS, PUNCH WITH CARE. Declan Finn says his personal solution would be what Asimov described as “the last resort of the incompetent” — “The John Ringo and ConCarolinas issue”.

I’ve been scratching my head for a while about whether or not I was going to do a blog post for the whole ConCarolinas debacle.

You know, how they told John Ringo that they couldn’t guarantee his safety, etc. THEN the announcement they released about his not attending seemed … poorly managed.

To be honest, I’d never heard of them until this fashla happened. So they made a great first impression on me.

So much so that they convinced to never attend their convention, as a guest or even as just an attendee.

And no, it’s not necessarily “Oh, look what they did to Ringo.”

I am doing something radical. I will take them ENTIRELY AT THEIR WORD that they can’t guarantee the safety of one of their own guests against the angry hordes of Social Justice Zombies.

On THEIR OWN TERMS, I should be concerned to even walk the halls as a regular attendee carrying a John Ringo book. While I have no problem defending myself, I to go conventions to have a good time. I don’t want to spend the majority of the con in cuffs because some dickheads decide “You’re a Ringo fan, therefore you’re [insert cliche lefty insults here]” and therefore I have to beat them senseless.

(14) ERASURE. Sarah A. Hoyt rehashed Sad Puppy history in “Of Conservatives And Conventions” [Internet Archive link] at PJ Media.

…I went over to John Ringo’s page and read about it.  As far as I could tell, a bunch of people on Twitter had been badgering both the con-committee and the other (very leftist) guest about inviting someone who was… what the heck was he?  I don’t know.

In the beginning, the accusation against him was that he was “Puppy Adjacent.”

For those of you wanting to follow this at home, the score card is this: Five years ago, my friend Larry Correia started a movement called Sad Puppies, which was a half joking attempt to get books not of solid leftist bent (not even right wing, just not preachy left) nominated for the Hugo, which used to be one of the most prestigious fan awards in science fiction.

When Larry tired of the game after two years, my friend Brad Torgersen took it over…

Vox Day was a little offended to find that he and the Rabid Puppies have been erased from Hoyt’s version of history — “SJWs in SF: Sad Puppy version” [Internet Archive link.]

I find this rather fascinating for what it omits. The Baen cum Sad Puppies crowd is in an uncomfortable position not terribly different from that of Never Trump and the cuckservatives. They are accustomed to being the sole opposition to the SJWs in science fiction, and viewing themselves as the proper and respectable opposition, so they really don’t know what to do about the Rabid Puppies or the considerably less accommodating opposition that is now represented by Castalia House, Arkhaven, and Dark Legion. Nor do they understand how various trends favor the growth of our influence, in part at their expense.

So, they push a narrative to the public in which we don’t exist, even though without us, Sad Puppies would have remained what it was prior to our involvement, a minor bump in the road that didn’t even require any suppression outside of the usual routine. This is not to say that what they did was not admirable, and indeed, their construction of the Dragon Awards will likely prove to be more significant in the long run than our demolition of the Hugo Awards. I merely observe that their efforts would have been insufficient in our absence.

But unlike the SJW narrative, the Sad Puppy narrative does not harm us at all. I am content to let them push it in peace; after all, they are not the enemy. Right now, we are marshaling our forces and preparing to engage in offensives on multiple fronts, some of which are known and others which will prove to be unexpected….

Let the others trail in our wake at their own pace. As long as they refrain from either attacking us or getting in our way, they are not part of the problem. They are trying to be part of the solution, even if they go about it in different and suboptimal ways.

[Hat tip to Camestros Felapton.]

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. in Stems, Scottish animator Ainslie Henderson shows how he takes found objects and turns them into stop-motion animation.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, ULTRAGOTHA, Steve Green, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Mark Hepworth, Andrew Porter, Lise Andreasen, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ky.]

Pixel Scroll 1/17/18 You’re A Little Short For A Pixel Scroll, Aren’t You?

(1) STRACZYNSKI MEMOIR COMING. Harper Voyager US has acquired the imprint’s first memoir, written by J. Michael Straczynski. The book will be published in 2019.

Straczynski is one of the most successful writers of comics, TV, graphic novels, and movies in modern pop culture, and has emerged as one of the most respected voices in science fiction today, selling millions of comics, winning dozens of awards and working with such luminaries as Clint Eastwood, Angelina Jolie and Kenneth Branagh. He is famed for his work on the recent Netflix hit Sense8, his work on Babylon 5, Changeling, World War Z, Thor, and a seven-year stint on The Amazing Spider-Man. But despite forty years of twelve-hour writing days, there’s one story Straczynski could never tell: his own. This memoir chronicles the author’s struggle growing up surrounded by poverty, violence, alcoholism and domestic abuse. The result is an inspiring account of how he wrote his way out of some of the most harrowing conditions.

(2) COINCIDENTAL PROPHET. Henry Farrell takes the measure of the author and this age in “Philip K. Dick and the Fake Humans” at Boston Review.

Standard utopias and standard dystopias are each perfect after their own particular fashion. We live somewhere queasier—a world in which technology is developing in ways that make it increasingly hard to distinguish human beings from artificial things. The world that the Internet and social media have created is less a system than an ecology, a proliferation of unexpected niches, and entities created and adapted to exploit them in deceptive ways. Vast commercial architectures are being colonized by quasi-autonomous parasites. Scammers have built algorithms to write fake books from scratch to sell on Amazon, compiling and modifying text from other books and online sources such as Wikipedia, to fool buyers or to take advantage of loopholes in Amazon’s compensation structure. Much of the world’s financial system is made out of bots—automated systems designed to continually probe markets for fleeting arbitrage opportunities. Less sophisticated programs plague online commerce systems such as eBay and Amazon, occasionally with extraordinary consequences, as when two warring bots bid the price of a biology book up to $23,698,655.93 (plus $3.99 shipping).

In other words, we live in Philip K. Dick’s future, not George Orwell’s or Aldous Huxley’s. Dick was no better a prophet of technology than any science fiction writer, and was arguably worse than most. His imagined worlds jam together odd bits of fifties’ and sixties’ California with rocket ships, drugs, and social speculation. Dick usually wrote in a hurry and for money, and sometimes under the influence of drugs or a recent and urgent personal religious revelation.

Still, what he captured with genius was the ontological unease of a world in which the human and the abhuman, the real and the fake, blur together.

(3) BLACK LIGHTNING. The Hollywood Reporter’s Daniel Flenberg praised the new series: “‘Black Lightning’: TV Review”.

It could be argued that what The CW needs least is another superhero show, much less another murky superhero show.

The pleasant surprise, then, is that Black Lightning, based on yet another DC Comics property, is smart and relevant and full of an attitude that’s all its own. It takes its characters and their world seriously, but thus far doesn’t take itself too seriously. And, best of all, it’s ostensibly entirely separate from Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, Arrow and Supergirl, so the risk of time-consuming crossovers or key plot points delivered on a different show is currently nil.

(4) NINE IS TEN. This month io9 is celebrating its 10th anniversary, too. io9 and the File 770 blog started the same month and it’s easy to see which got the most mileage out of that decade. Congratulations io9! Here’s a video made by the founding alumni —  

(5) STARVING IN THE CITY OF THE FUTURE. Slate has published Charlie Jane Anders’ story of future hunger: “The Minnesota Diet”. The future isn’t that far away.

This short story was commissioned and edited jointly by Future Tense and ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination. Each month in 2018, Future Tense Fiction—a series of short stories from Future Tense and CSI about how technology and science will change our lives—will publish a story on a new theme. The theme for January–March 2018: Home.

North American Transit Route No. 7 carves a path between tree silhouettes like wraiths, through blanched fields that yawn with the furrows of long-ago crops. Weaving in and out of the ancient routes of Interstates 29 and 35, this new highway has no need for rest stops or attempts to beautify the roadside, because none of the vehicles have a driver or any passengers. The trucks race from north to south, at speeds that would cause any human driver to fly off the road at the first curve. The sun goes down and they keep racing, with only a few thin beams to watch for obstacles. They don’t need to see the road to stay on the road. The trucks seem to hum to one another, tiny variations in their engine sounds making a kind of atonal music. Seen from above, they might look like the herds of mustangs that used to run across this same land, long ago….

(6) POLL. Uncanny Magazine has opened voting for readers to pick their three favorite original short stories from the works they published last year — “Uncanny Celebrates Reader Favorites of 2017”.

We’ve set up a poll for Uncanny readers to vote for their top three favorite original short stories from 2017. (You can find links to all of the stories here.)

The poll will be open from January 17 to February 7, after which we’ll announce the results. We’re excited for you to share which Uncanny stories made you feel!

snazzy certificate will be given to the creator whose work comes out on top of  the poll!

So please spread the word! And don’t forget, EVERY VOTE COUNTS!

(7) GENRE DESTRUCTION. Also, Uncanny is taking submissions to a special issue through February 15 — “Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction Guidelines”

We welcome submission from writers who identify themselves as disabled. Identity is what matters for this issue. What kinds of disabilities? All of them. Invisible and visible. Physical disabilities, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, mental health disabilities, and neurodiversity.

Yes, even if your disability is a recently acquired one.

Yes, even if your disability is static, or if it isn’t.

Yes, even if you’ve had your disability since birth.

Yes, even if you use adaptive devices only SOME of the time.

Yes, you.

Reading Elsa’s essay “Disabled Enough” from our Kickstarter may help if you have any doubts.

So, if you identify as disabled across any of these definitions or others, we want to hear from you!

(8) LONELINESS OF THE LONG-DISTANCE WORDSMITH. L. Ron Hubbard couldn’t do it. andrew j. offutt couldn’t do it. So it’s up to Matthew Plunkett to tell you “How to Write 100,000 Words Per Day, Every Day” (from McSweeney’s.)

Relationships

My first blog post appeared online in 2008 when I explained how I attained my top ranking on a popular worldwide online game. Since then, I haven’t stopped writing. If you’re wondering whether this level of output will hinder your relationships with friends and lovers, let me set you straight. Life is about decisions. Either you write 100,000 words a day or you meet people and develop ties of affection. You can’t do both.

(9) GENTLER PACE. Concatenation has posted its “Newscast for the Spring 2018” – an aggregation of sff and pop cuture news issued at a not-quite-quarterly rate.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 17, 1982 – The Ray Bradbury-penned The Electric Grandmother premiered on television.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY DARTH

  • Born January 17, 1931 – James Earl Jones

(12) BIAS AT WORK. Sarah Hollowell, who calls her blog “Sarah Hollowell, Fat Writer Girl and Her Fat Words”, was not added to the Midwest Writers Workshop’s organizational committee after her appearance was made an issue.

A week ago The Guardian covered the initial stages of the story in “Roxane Gay calls out writing group for ‘fatphobic’ treatment of Sarah Hollowell”.

An American writers’ workshop that has counted Joyce Carol Oates, Jeffrey Deaver and Clive Cussler among its faculty has been called out by Roxane Gay for “fatphobia”, after a writer’s appearance was criticised during a vote to give her a public-facing role.

Gay, who has herself been on the faculty for the Midwest Writers Workshop (MWW), turned to Twitter on Tuesday to lay out how the workshop’s organisers treated the writer Sarah Hollowell. According to Gay, Hollowell has worked for MWW for five years, and was voted to be on its organisational committee. But when her appointment was being discussed, “someone said ‘do we really want someone like her representing us?’ That person elaborated ‘someone so fat. It’s disgusting’,” claimed Gay.

Gay, the author of essay collection Bad Feminist and the memoir Hunger, said that only two people in the room defended Hollowell, and that the author was not then brought on to the committee. “This is unacceptable. And cruel. And cowardly, Midwest Writers Workshop. And you thought you could get away with it. You very nearly did,” wrote Gay, calling on the workshop to issue a “public and genuine” apology to Hollowell, and forbidding it to use her name as a past faculty member in its promotional materials again. “I’m too fat and disgusting to be associated with you,” she wrote.

Hollowell herself said that “there are a lot of good people” at the MWW, but that “I have been hurt in a very real way and I don’t think it should be hidden”.

The workshop subsequently issued an apology to Hollowell on Wednesday, in which its director Jama Kehoe Bigger said: “We screwed up.”

The apology and offers to attempt to “make it right” have not panned out. Instead, here’s what’s happening —

Hollowell responded with a full thread, which includes these tweets —

(13) NOW YOU SEE IT. Nothing magical about this disappearing act — “Rare first edition Harry Potter worth £40,000 stolen”.

A hardback first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone worth about £40,000 was one of a number of rare books stolen during a burglary.

The book, J.K Rowling’s maiden novel of the globally successful series, was stolen from SN Books in Thetford, Norfolk, between 8 and 9 January….

The Harry Potter book was made even more “unique” by being in a custom red box, the force added.

(14) TRAIN TRICKS. The BBC reports a “Japanese train barks like a dog to prevent accidents” — it scares away deer who lick the tracks to get iron.

Tokyo’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper reports that the combination of sounds is designed to scare deer away from the tracks in a bid to reduce the number of animal deaths on the railway.

Officials from the Railway Technical Research Institute (RTRI) say that a three-second blast of the sound of a deer snorting attracts the animals’ attention, and 20 seconds of dog barking is enough to make them take flight.

(15) EVEN IF YOU DO EVERYTHING RIGHT. An interesting thread by Alex Acks who argues that maybe it’s not a conspiracy….

(16) WHAT DOESN’T PAY. And Shaun Duke has his own argument against the conspiracy theory.

(17) FILL ‘ER UP. This sounds like the beginning of a nice 1950s sf story —  “UK firm contracts to service satellites”.

Effective Space says its two servicing “Space Drones” will be built using manufacturing expertise in the UK and from across the rest of Europe.

The pair, which will each be sized about the same as a washing machine and weigh less than 400kg, are expected to launch on the same rocket sometime in 2020.

Once in orbit, they will separate and attach themselves to the two different geostationary telecommunications satellites that are almost out of fuel.

 

(18) HIRSUTE. Chip Hitchcock says, “As the proud possessor of a handle bar mustache, I’m pleased to see ’Moustached monkey is separate species’.”

A monkey from Ethiopia and Sudan with a “handlebar moustache” has been identified as a distinct species.

Scientists took a fresh look at the distribution and physical appearance of patas monkeys in Ethiopia, confirming there were two species rather than one.

It was originally described as a separate species in 1862, but was later folded in – incorrectly – with other patas monkeys to form a single species.

(19) WHEN THE BOOKS WERE WRITTEN. Brenton Dickieson has published an epic tool for scholars – “My Cheat Sheet of C.S. Lewis’ Writing Schedule” — at A Pilgrim in Narnia.

For those who study authors of the past, you will soon discover that the publication lists and bibliography of an author are not always terribly helpful. After all, writing, editing, and publishing a book are stages that can each take years. Knowing something is published in 1822 or 1946 tells us little about the writing process. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien each had books that took nearly two decades to write….

Over the last five years, then, I have developed a habit of speaking about when C.S. Lewis or one of the Inklings wrote a book, rather than when they published it. I haven’t been perfectly consistent with this on the blog, but have generally put the writing period in brackets rather than the publication date.

To do this, I discovered that I was slowly building myself a cheat sheet to help me remember when Lewis was writing a book so that I can connect it with what was going on at the time. The cheat sheet includes completed books and incomplete fragments of what would have been a book. I’ve decided to share this cheat sheet with those of you who are interested. This might save you time or inspire you to make connections between Lewis’ work and his life patterns. And, perversely, I’m hoping to draw more people into the project of reading Lewis chronologically, and have provided resources here, here, and here.

(20) HYPERBOREAN AGE. Black Gate’s Doug Ellis says it’s “Time to Revise Your Lin Carter Biography”, though “bibliography” may be the intended word. Either way — Ellis tells about a 1967 fanzine, The Brythunian Prints, published by some Toledo fans.

The most interesting content is two pages of poetry by Lin Carter, under the general heading “War Songs and Battle Cries,” apparently reprinted with Carter’s permission from The Wizard of Lemuria and Thongor of Lemuria. The remaining content is taken up with editorials, limericks by John Boardman (four of which were reprinted from Amra) and a book review of The Fantastic Swordsmen edited by de Camp. The back cover is Tolkien related, as it pictures “Baggins and Trinket” (the Ring).

(21) MORE PAST FUTURES. Let MovieWeb tell you “10 Back to the Future Facts You Never Knew”.

THE POTENTIAL DOC BROWNS

Christopher Lloyd, part of the ensemble of the TV series Taxi which ran from 1978 till 1983, seems irreplaceable as Doctor Emmett Brown in the minds and hearts of fans around the world. But before he landed the role, some other big names were considered for the part, including John Lithgow, Dudley Moore, and Jeff Goldblum. Imagine those memes!

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

Pixel Scroll 11/18/17 It’s Beginning To Scroll A Lot Like Pixelmas

(1) THE PHENOMENA BEHIND LEGENDS. Kim Huett has added two new posts to Doctor Strangemind.

The first is about the Orson Welles War of the Worlds radio transmission: “The Great Radio Hoax”.

As appealing as I find the idea of Wells’ story taking in so many thousands of people who had been looking down their noses at science fiction I can’t bring myself to believe it. The prosaic alternative, that the supposed mass panic was in reality a beat-up by a newspaper industry hoping to scare advertisers away from radio back to print by labelling the former ‘irresponsible and untrustworthy’, seems far more likely to me. (Not surprisingly while CBS was keen to refute such newspaper claims Orson Wells was happy to play along in return for the massive amount of personal publicity it gave him.)

Now as it happens I recently discovered a small piece of evidence to back up my preferred assumption. In the March 1942 issue of Leprechaun is an article by Gerry de la Ree all about this incident. This is the Gerry de la Ree who later went on to publish books such as The Book of Virgil Finlay, A Hannes Bok Sketchbook, and Fantasy by Fabian: The Art of Stephen E. Fabian by the way. In his article de la Ree repeats most of the claims that appeared in the papers; injured people were admitted to hospital in New York, Minneapolis switchboards were inundated by calls, hundreds were fleeing by car in New Jersey. However amongst all this second-hand reporting Gerry de la Ree describes his own encounter with The Mercury Theater’s Halloween production. I suspect this hits closer to the mark than any of the newspaper hysteria.

The second is about the Flying Dutchman and sheep: “Far Beneath, the Abysmal Sea”.

The first reference in print to the ship appeared in 1795, when George Barrington mentioned the matter in his book, Voyage to Botany Bay. According to Barrington sailors had told him of a story about a Dutch ship that was lost at sea during a horrendous storm. This it was claimed was due to Captain Bernard Fokke for he was known for the speed on his trips from Holland to Java. The story went that Fokke was aided by the Devil and that he and his crew eventually paid the price for dealing with Old Nick and so were consequently doomed to sail the seas forever more despite their demise. Sighting the Flying Dutchman was said to be very bad luck.

Now what strikes me most about all this is how late in the piece this legend comes. The general agreement seems to be that the Flying Dutchman legend originated in the eighteenth century and that my friends is passing strange. If the Flying Dutchman obeys the principle of reality conservation in fiction then what changed to make such a story suddenly possible? Clearly some new phenomena was needed because mysteriously abandoned boats drifting with the currents is a scene as old as sailing itself. If it was simply a matter of sailors wanting to explain boats apparently travelling by themselves then I can’t imagine they would wait till the eighteenth century to invent the Flying Dutchman story.

Huett also says he’s working on a revised edition of his John Brosnan collection You Only Live Once for Dave Langford to add to the ebook page of TAFF freebies.

(2) JOT AND TITTLE. You’ve heard of the Oxford comma. Now there’s the Straczynski period.

(3) LOVE AMONG THE RAYGUNS. SyFy Wire names “The 26 greatest romances in science fiction’s last two decades”.

07 Amelia Pond and Rory Williams, Doctor Who

The Ponds are two of The Doctor’s most beloved companions. Amy (Karen Gillan) is best remembered for her eagerness to see every inch of every universe but her most compelling story arcs always foregrounded her relationship with Rory (Arthur Darvill). For example, when a trickster time lord traps the three time travellers in two potential realities and asks them to determine which is real lest they die, it’s up to Amy to sort them out. But she doesn’t rely on logic to guide them, she uses her heart; when Rory dies in one timeline Amy decides that it must be the fake one because for her no world without Rory could be real.

(4) JOHN GARTH AT OXFORD. The author of Tolkien and the Great War will speak this coming week at Oxford.

I have exciting things to reveal about Tolkien’s extraordinary Creation myth in a talk to the Oxford Tolkien Society (Taruithorn) in Lecture Room 2, Christ Church, Oxford, at 8pm next Thursday, 23 November. Non-members £2.

(5) MARVEL’S WORST PARENTS. Could it be the criminal Pride, or a negligent Hero? Find out in Marvel’s Top 10 Bad Parents!

(6) CROWDSOURCED HELP PAYS OFF. Last April the Scroll gave a signal boost for to a GoFundMe for a young writer’s medical expenses. Nick Tchan has sent along a good news update about Lachlan:

Scans and meeting with surgeon and oncologist today.

Lachlan is officially cancer-free!

Thank you for initially posting the GoFundMe link to File770.

Tchan wrote about the appeal in April:

“The 17-year-old son of a woman in my writing group has been diagnosed with an osteosarcoma in his right shoulder,” writes Nick Tchan, a Writers of the Future winner and Aurealis nominated author. “It’s an aggressive and rare form of bone cancer. At the very least, he’s going to have an extensive regime of chemotheraphy and a bone replaced in his right arm.

“Both he and his single mother are keen speculative fiction fans and writers. I’m putting together a GoFundMe to help pay for the time she’ll have to take off work as well as the other costs that tend to accumulate. Any funds left over from cost-of-living and treatment expenses I’m hoping to put towards something like Dragon Dictate so that he can write even if they have to amputate his arm.”

(7) HOME SAVED. And the GoFundMe to Help Mike Donahue keep his home has succeeded.

I’m overwhelmed. Thank you all. In just two days! I’m writing individual thank you cards to everyone but I want to post today that you have filled me with a tremendous sense of hope. If all the money comes in, this, along with what I have saved, will reinstate my mortgage. I’ve arranged for my attorney to talk with Ditech and verify the demand letter and make sure it will all work properly.

(8) FRIES WITH THAT. Nicola Griffith hunts for sff that passes “The Fries Test for disabled characters in fiction”:

…Most readers will be familiar with the Bechdel Test. Today I want to talk about the Fries Test for fiction:

Does a work have more than one disabled character? Do the disabled characters have their own narrative purpose other than the education and profit of a nondisabled character? Is the character’s disability not eradicated either by curing or killing?

…There are more novels in which the main character is disabled and isn’t cured or killed, such as the Miles Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold, but those characters are alone in their disability.6 Novels in which crips talk to each other? Novels in which we talk to each other about something other than wanting to be cured, or how to get cured, or why we want to die because we can’t be cured? Novels in which we don’t die? I’m drawing a blank.

Think about that. I read a lot. I can only think of four novels for adults with two or more crip characters who talk to each other and who are not killed or cured. It’s true that until recently I might not have noticed whether or not characters were disabled but, still, five.7 FIVE.

Surely I’m missing some. Please tell me I’m missing some…

(9) BREW MATCHMAKER. Charles Payseur’s latest short fiction reviews on Nerds of a Feather: “THE MONTHLY ROUND – A Taster’s Guide to Speculative Short Fiction, 10/2017”.

“Fandom for Robots” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Uncanny)

Tasting Notes: A surprising tang gives this a punch of sweetness that almost overpowers with its joy, settled only by the complexity of its profile and the lingering smiles it leaves in its wake.

Pairs with: Peach Hard Cider

Review: Computron has a fairly ordinary job…for the only sentient AI in existence. He teaches kids about robots and artificial intelligence, something that he’s rather singularly qualified to do. Only it really doesn’t seem like people consider him the marvel that he is, judging him on the retro-futurist aesthetic he has, imagining he’s outdated despite his uniqueness, despite the fact that he’s sentient. It’s not until he finds a show that features a character much like himself, an older-style robot named Cyro, that he begins to understand just how much he was yearning to see himself represented in media, to interact with other people who won’t think he’s strange because of the way he looks. Enter fandom. I love how this story explores the ways that fan spaces allow people to explore and celebrate themselves. No, fandom isn’t perfect, and Computron does have to deal with aspects of that, but at the same time it gives him this new purpose, this new feeling of belonging. Where he doesn’t have to fit all he has to say into a tiny window inside a larger presentation on robotics. Where he can really get into something and be appreciated for it and make connections through it and shatter the isolation that had dominated his life. It’s a story about being a fan, and how fun and freeing that can be. The story revels in Computron’s journey into fandom, writing fic and offering feedback and just being an all around pleasant person. And it’s a joyous story to experience, clever and cute and playing with the tropes of how AI mirror humans, but how they are distinct as well, and valuable in how they are different, able to contribute in ways that are surprising and wonderful.

(10) MORE ON DIAN CRAYNE. The death of Dian Crayne received a write-up in her local paper, the Willits Weekly. Most of the text is unblushingly copied from the File 770 obit (!) but there are some interesting added details. Click here for the PDF edition.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • November 18, 1990 — The television version of IT premiered with Tim Curry.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian learned something unexpected about the afterlife in Close to Home.

(13) DISSATISFIED BABYLONIAN CUSTOMERS. “Garbageboy Stinkman” tells us about the evidence for one of history’s least reputable businessmen in cuneiform clay tablets.

The majority of the surviving correspondences regarding Ea-nasir were recovered from one particular room in a building that is believed to have been Ea-nasir’s own house.

Like, these are clay tablets. They’re bulky, fragile, and difficult to store. They typically weren’t kept long-term unless they contained financial records or other vital information (which is why we have huge reams of financial data about ancient Babylon in spite of how little we know about the actual culture: most of the surviving tablets are commercial inventories, bills of sale, etc.).

But this guy, this Ea-nasir, he kept all of his angry letters – hundreds of them – and meticulously filed and preserved them in a dedicated room in his house. What kind of guy does that?

(14) LEAPIN’ DRAGONS. John F. Holmes thinks the latest category changes mean the Dragon Awards have turned their backs on indie authors.

And the Dragon Awards jump the shark.

I’m fine with a new award, (even though I think the category is kinda bulls*t) but why the BLEEP do you drop Post-apocalypse awards?

“Best Media Tie-In Novel” is a huge slap in the face of indie authors. You have to be a big time writer to get permission to write for a brand, like Star Wars or Halo. And, to be honest, a lot of those novels kinda SUCK, though many are great. I’m thinking about the first new Star Wars novel, which was horrible.

Holmes is the first I’ve seen put that interpretation on it.

(15) UNDERSTANDING TOLKIEN RIGHTS. Kalimac analyzes why it’s probably accurate that the Tolkien Estate controlled the TV rights involved in the new Amazon deal.

…The most curious question is, what authorized entity is responsible for conveying the rights to do this? News articles in the past have often confused the Tolkien Estate – the family-controlled entity that owns Tolkien’s writings – with Middle-earth Enterprises (formerly Tolkien Enterprises), the company which owns the movie and associated marketing rights to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and which licensed them to New Line to produce the Jackson movies.

They’re not associated. Tolkien sold the movie rights outright in 1969, and they eventually wound up in the hands of the late Saul Zaentz, who was the producer of the 1978 Bakshi movie and the creator of the firm that now owns those rights. It’s this firm which is responsible for most of the trademark defense that’s hit the news over the years, but it’s the Estate that sued New Line for shafting it on royalties owed.

Since the Estate has no control over the LotR movie rights, its opinion on the topic is moot, though Christopher Tolkien, head of the family and his father’s literary executor, has expressed his distaste for them. Because of this, and because of the historical confusion between the entities, the assumption was that the new project came from Middle-earth Enterprises, despite news references to the Estate.

But that apparently is wrong, and it has to do with the fact that the new series will be television, not movies, and will be inspired by other writings by Tolkien. Middle-earth Enterprises does not own rights to either of these aspects; the Estate retains that.

This article on a Tolkien bulletin board is the fullest I’ve seen, and looks the most reliable to my eye. It cites scholar Kristin Thompson on this. Despite Thompson’s lack of comprehension of criticisms of the Jackson movies, I’ve found her well-versed on the facts of the history of the movie rights, so if she says this, I accept it.

That means, in turn, that the Estate did authorize this…

(16) FAILURES OF JUSTICE. Ethan Alter, in a Yahoo! article “Justice League before ‘Justice League’: Revisiting 4 less-than-super attempts to unite the DC heroes”, profiles four failed efforts to film the Justice League, Including “Legend of the Superheroes,” a late-1970s effort which would have been Adam West’s comeback as Batman had it been greenlit, and Justice League Mortal, a project of Mad Max director George Miller that was killed by the 2007 writers’ strike.

So far, early reviews are mixed, with some (including Yahoo Entertainment) suggesting that Justice League doesn’t live up to the high standards set by this summer’s blockbuster Wonder Woman. Nevertheless, these versions of the characters look positively super compared with the non-animated incarnations of the Justice League we’ve seen in the past. For Flashback (or, should we say, Flash-back?) Friday, we’re revisiting three less-than-super TV versions of DC’s all-star super team, as well as one film project that never came to fruition.

(17) IN THE BEAT OF THE NIGHT. The Washington Post’s Robert O’Harrow Jr, in “Law clerk by day, ghost hunter by night, now Trump’s judiciary nominee”, profiled Brett Joseph Talley, whose previous appearance in the Post was in 2014 when, as a speechwriter for Sen. Ron Johnson, he took a Post reporter ghosthunting.  O’Harrow quotes an interview done by the Unlocked Diary website with Talley where the interviewer said Talley’s Stoker-nominated novel That Which Should Not Be has “awesomestatic gooeyness coming frome very page to where you will be licking it off your fingers and savoring it for days to come.”

In 2012, Talley and Higdon co-authored “Haunted Tuscaloosa,” a short book of stories about ghostly doings in Alabama. At the time, Talley was working as a speechwriter for Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

Higdon said Talley wrote the book using Higdon’s recollections and ideas. In the introduction, Talley raises questions about the line between personal experience and verifiable fact.

“In this book, there are children who died too early, professors who never left the classroom and even the spirit of a collie that still serves its master, long after his death,” Talley wrote in the introduction.

“Some will criticize these stories, saying they are not real history,” he wrote. “But that raises a question. What is real history? Sure, we know the dates and the major players, but the color, the heart of the matter — that we see through eyewitnesses.”

(18) BACK TO BILLY JOEL. He’d like to restart the fire.

(19) FLASH IN THE PAN. An “observation camera” captured short video with spectacular end: “Meteor streaks across Arizona sky”.

The city of Phoenix captured a meteor on one of its observation cameras as the bright light flashed across the skyline.

(20) FRANCLY SPEAKING. Not quite Da Vinci (but ~genre): “Rare Tintin art fetches $500,000 at Paris auction”.

A rare India ink drawing of young reporter Tintin and his faithful dog Snowy has been sold for almost $500,000 (£380,000) at auction in Paris.

The picture from the 1939 comic album King Ottokar’s Sceptre was among items by Hergé, the Belgian artist who created Tintin, to go under the hammer.

An original strip from the book The Shooting Star fetched $350,000.

But a copy of Tintin adventure Destination Moon, signed by US astronauts, failed to find a buyer.

(21) SJW CREDENTIALS OF THE DESERT. Nerdist convinces you to click, and click again, in “Impossibly Adorable Sand Cat Kittens Caught on Film for the First Time”. Who can resist?

You might think you’ve seen all the cat videos on the internet, but here’s one you haven’t: the first known footage of sand cat kittens in the wild. It takes a lot to make us squee nowadays but wow — LOOK AT THEIR LITTLE FACES.

In case you aren’t familiar with them, sand cats (Felis margarita) are an adorable species of impossibly tiny cats that are perfectly adapted to live in the deserts of North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. They have a light brown/tan fur that blends in with sand and brush, and their extra-furry paws protect the sand cats from hot sand (and barely leave a trace of where they’ve been). Those oversized ears are not just super cute; they also give the sand cat exceptional hearing for tracking down its prey, typically small rodents, birds, or lizards.

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

Wesley Crusher: Naming Calls

ST:TNG had just started its second season when Rick Foss and I organized the 1988 Loscon program. Every fan I knew watched the show and had opinions about the assorted minor controversies involving its creator Gene Roddenberry and how the characters were scripted. We expected a panel about Wesley Crusher, the precocious teenaged boy who all too often saved the Enterprise, to be a good draw, and we had excellent writers to use on it.

We also had the prospect of springing a celebrity guest on the panelists – just not the one who actually showed up. Here’s what happened. (From File 770 #78, recently uploaded to Fanac.org)

o0o

The Star Trek-oriented “Solving the Wesley Problem” filled every seat and had fans lining the walls They got a bonus when the actor who plays Wesley unexpectedly dropped in.

The panel began with D.C. Fontana, Joe Straczynski (then known as story editor for the new The Twilight Zone), Sonni Cooper (a Trek novelist), Mel Gilden and Jane Mailander (local writers) and a hoped-for surprise guest – but not the one we got.

As the program began, Bjo Trimble was stationed at the front of the Pasadena Hilton, and John Trimble at the back door, waiting for the arrival of Patrick Stewart, whom a contact at Paramount had supposedly sent our way seeking some word-of-mouth publicity for his Charles Dickens reading scheduled in December.

While I was shuttling between John and Bjo for news of Patrick Stewart, Wil Wheaton, who plays Wesley, materialized in the “Solving the Wesley Problem” audience and virtually took over the panel. As I learned from him the next day, he simply came to Loscon because he likes sf conventions. But Guy Vardaman, his stand-in, looked in the pocket program and told him, “Hey, there’s an ‘I Hate Wesley’ panel; I think you should check it out.”

Wheaton’s gesture to explain the panelists’ changing tone when he arrived was one of extracting foot from mouth. (Actually, the panelists had criticized the series, rather than Wheaton’s acting.) They didn’t know he hadn’t been there for most of it.

Patrick Stewart never did show up, but I like to think of the alternate world where he walked in on the panel after Wil Wheaton had already joined it. What pandemonium!

Before Wheaton’s unexpected appearance, our biggest “star” was going to be Paul Marco, joining the “Plan 9 From Outer Space 30th Anniversary” panel. He played Kelton the cop, and ever since the film came out he’s been working very hard to turn himself into a cult figure, despite the movie’s reputation as the worst film ever made.

Pixel Scroll 7/29/16 I Have Promises To Keep, And Pixels To Scroll Before I Sleep

(1) IRON MAN. Gregg Van Eekhout was injured at “San Diego Cracked-it-Con 2016”. Before he was taken away on a cart he signed his fan’s books! Click the link for the whole story. The bottom line —

So, it’s going to be six weeks in a hard cast, and that’s my Comic-Con story. And I’d like to reiterate that I continued to autograph copies of my books even with a fractured fibula. That’s pretty metal, I feel.

(2) PROSECUTION FOR ONLINE THREATS. Ken White at Popehat reports on “A Rare Federal Indictment For Online Threats Against Game Industry”.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California has sought and obtained an indictment against a young man named Stephen Cebula for sending online threats to Blizzard Entertainment, the freakishly successful powerhouse behind the Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo games as well as many others. The case is notable because it’s so rare: there’s so much threatening behavior online, and so little of it is addressed by the criminal justice system.

Stephen Cebula seems overtly disturbed. The search warrant for his home and subsequent criminal complaint tell a tale of him engaging in bigoted trash talk with other players on the Blizzard game “Heroes of the Storm,” ranging from racial epithets to comments like “I will kill your family bitch” and fantasies about raping a child at Disneyland. Blizzard suspended Cebula’s ability to communicate with other players. Cebula — perhaps tutored in law and political theory on Reddit, or by Milo Yiannopoulos — saw this as an outrageous violation of his freedom. He used his Facebook account “tedbundyismygod1” to send two threatening messages to Blizzard:

Careful blizzard … I live in California and your headquarters is here in California …. You keep silencing me in Heroes of the STorm and I may or may not pay you a visit with an AK47 amongst some other “fun” tools.

You keep silencing people in heroes of the storm and someone who may live in California might be inclined to “cause a disturbance” at your headquarters in California with an AK47 and a few other “opportunistic tools” …. It would be a shame to piss off the wrong person. Do you not agree blizzard?

(3) SITE SELECTION, COMPARE AND CONTRAST. Petréa Mitchell delivered vital data in a comment:

In crucial last-minute Worldcon voting news AND Pokemon Go news, New Orleans in 2018 has published a map of Pokestops and gyms near its proposed facility. (San Jose in 2018 has mentioned Pokestops nearby but only vaguely.)

(4) THE ENDLESS DELIGHT OF POKÉMON GO. The Week reported —

“A Georgia woman became trapped in a graveyard while playing Pokemon Go.  ‘The gate is f—ing closed,’ the indignant woman told a 911 dispatcher.  ‘This is not cool.'”

(5) THE NEXT SFWA CHAT HOUR. Coming Monday, August 1 at 3 p.m. Eastern time. — SFWA Chat Hour Episode #5: Selling Your Book at Conventions.

Join Cat Rambo as she hosts a lively discussion on how to sell your books at conventions, featuring Quincy J. Allen, Jennifer Brozek, David John Butler, and Michael Underwood.

RSVP the event to get a reminder when it’s about to start. Afterwards, it’ll go up on YouTube as usual.

(6) BANDERSNATCH. Musician Andrew Petersen discusses an influence on his decision to create The Rabbit Room“The Inklings, Diana Glyer, and the Art of Community”.

It’s easy for Americans like me, who are almost maddeningly intrigued by the romance of that famous fellowship, to idealize the Inklings—to imagine that the meetings were all chummy chortles and pipe smoke, pints of beer and chin-stroking, heady conversation and magical recitals of what are now classic works of literature. The Inklings were human, after all, and they lived in the same tired old world that we occupy, bearing the same weaknesses and wounds in varying degrees. The meetings were probably more sporadic and less inspired than we like to think. The story is a good one: Christians getting together in the name of friendship and good books. It piques an almost mythic longing in many of us. Who wouldn’t want to be a fly on the wall in one of those rooms? For that matter, who wouldn’t want to be a member of that inner ring?

Glyer’s thesis, contrary to some academic works that claim too much has been made of the Inklings’ influence on each other, is that the very nature of friendship, of nearness, of interaction, guarantees influence on their work. Like it or not, the famously grumpy and immovable Tolkien simply had to have been affected by his relationship with Lewis, and his work must have been affected, too. It was Glyer’s book where I first grasped the idea that The Lord of the Rings probably wouldn’t exist if not for C. S. Lewis. Yes, it was Tolkien’s God-given genius that wrote the masterpiece, but it was C. S. Lewis’s encouragement that nudged Tolkien along and convinced him that the public would care to read it. Friendship matters. Encouragement, resonance, accountability, and criticism were crucial ingredients that went into the feast of Middle-Earth.

One of the central tenets of the Rabbit Room is that art nourishes community, and community nourishes art. And to me the profound thing about that idea is that the friendships—the heart-shaping relationships, the Christ-centered community—will outlast the works themselves. Glyer’s book makes a strong case for the influence of the Inklings on one another, imperfect though it was. If you want to write good books, good songs, good poems, you need some talent, yes. You also need to work hard, practice a lot, cultivate self-discipline, and study the greats. But you also need good friends. You need fellowship. You need community…..

(7) HUTCHMOOT. And The Rabbit Room is planning a conference in October. Diana Pavlac Glyer will be the keynote speaker.

On October 6 – 9, the Rabbit Room will convene Hutchmoot 2016 at Church of the Redeemer in Nashville, Tennessee. You’re invited to come and enjoy a weekend of live music, delicious food and conversation, and a series of discussions centered on art, faith, and the telling of great stories across a range of mediums.

Speakers, sessions, and special events will be announced as they are confirmed.

(8) VERTIGO. Flashbacks to the right of them, flashbacks to the left of them, volleyed and thundered.

https://twitter.com/damiengwalter/status/759051917993672704

(9) FILE WORTHY PUN.

(10) ON JEOPARDY! Steven H Silver says this was a Jeopardy entry —

Women Authors for $800.

?

?

“Nobody rang in,” said Silver.

(11) SUMMERTIME. “A summer book list like no other: Michael Dirda picks 11 hidden gems”, at the Washington Post.

One of the pleasures of summer holidays is choosing just the right books to pack along on the annual visit to the beach. I stress that word “books” because only the foolhardy would take an electronic device anywhere near sand, water, intense heat and — as one learns by experience — children predestined to spill their soda where it will do the most damage. Much better to pick one of the following recent titles in paperback or hardcover.

The Big Book of Science Fiction , edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (Vintage). How big is big? In this case, we’re talking nearly 1,200 double-columned pages, dozens of representative short classics of science fiction, and newly translated work from around the world. There are surprises, too: Did you know that W.E.B. Du Bois wrote sf? That’s just one indication that the VanderMeers hope to establish a more culturally diverse science fiction canon. Still, there are many old favorites here, some of mine being William Tenn’s “The Liberation of Earth,” J.G. Ballard’s “The Voices of Time,” Cordwainer Smith’s “The Game of Rat and Dragon” and Joanna Russ’s “When It Changed.”

(12) ARRIVAL. The Wikipedia tells us:

Arrival is an upcoming American science fiction drama film starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. The film is based on the short story “Story of Your Life” by author Ted Chiang. The film is scheduled for released on November 11, 2016 by Paramount Pictures.

Deadline Hollywood reported in June:

Paramount Pictures has set a November 11 wide release for Arrival, the Denis Villeneuve-directed sci-fi movie starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. This was the film that took the 2014 Cannes market by storm when the studio won a wild rights auction to the pic for a fest-record $20 million, earning it North American and China distribution rights.

(13) CLOUDY DAYS. Bob, Gordon, and Luis have been laid off from Sesame Street.

The changes keep on coming for Sesame Street. Last year, the controversial news broke that the show was packing its bags and moving on up to HBO from PBS—and now, most of the children’s show’s longtime (non-puppet) cast has been let go.

At Florida Supercon, original cast member Bob McGrath, known simply as “Bob” to his young audience, said that he and comrades for several decades Emilio Delgado (“Luis” on the show) and Roscoe Orman (“Gordon”) have had their last hurrah on Sesame Street.

“As of this season, I completed my 45th season this year,” McGrath said. “And the show has done a major turnaround, going from an hour to a half hour. HBO has been involved also. And so they let all of the original cast members go, with the exception of Alan Muraoka—who is still on the show, he is probably 20 years younger than the rest of us—and Chris Knowings, who is also young.”

(14) CLICKBAIT RATINGS. Entertainment Weekly rated all 13 Star Trek movies, offering its opinion of the good, the bad, and the why.

The same day, Rotten Tomatoes published “Every Star Trek Movie, Ranked From Worst To Best”. The Rotten Tomatoes list looked like this:

  1. STAR TREK (reboot)
  2. FIRST CONTACT
  3. THE WRATH OF KHAN
  4. INTO DARKNESS
  5. THE VOYAGE HOME
  6. BEYOND
  7. THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY
  8. THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK
  9. INSURRECTION
  10. GENERATIONS
  11. STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE
  12. NEMESIS
  13. THE FINAL FRONTIER

(15) ST:WTF! Adam Whitehead decided there was also clickbait potential in criticizing EW’s “gratuitous list”. And my linking only helps prove him right.

The point of Gratuitous Lists is that the things on it are not listed in order of excellence, but are just on there so people can talk about the shows/games in question rather than argue about the order, which is often arbitrary. But sometimes arguing about the order is just too much fun. After Entertainment Weekly issued a list of Star Trek movies ranked by quality that is simply objectively wrong (how high up is Nemesis?), here’s my riposte…

(16) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 29, 1958 — The U.S. Congress passes legislation establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
  • July 29, 2002 — M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs.  Shyamalan cited The Birds, Night of the Living Dead and Invasion of the Body Snatchers as the influences for this film.

(17) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born July 29, 1972 – Wil Wheaton

(18) BELATED BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born July 28, 1866 — Beatrix Potter, British author/illustrator of the Peter Rabbit stories.

(19) FIRST TREK CON. Stu Hellinger announced he’ll be part of a fan panel at Star Trek Mission New York over the September 2-4 weekend.

On September 2 – 4, at the Javits Center here in NYC, ReedPOP is running a 50th Anniversary Star Trek Convention called Star Trek: Mission New York.

One of the program items is titled: “The First Convention and How it Helped Resurrect Star Trek”.

The panel description: The first Star Trek Convention, in New York City, began as a crazy idea with a shoestring budget that created ripples all the way to the Klingon Empire and helped put the Enterprise back in space. A panel discussion with members of the original organizing committee.

The participants on this panel are Linda Deneroff, Devra Langsam, Elyse Rosenstein, Joyce Yasner and myself as the moderator.

We have not been informed, as yet, what date and time the panel will be, but I will post the information as soon as I know.

Join us to reminisce or to learn more about what we did that helped create the ongoing phenomena that is Star Trek.

(20) JEFF STURGEON. Fascinating work at “Welcome to the Art of Jeff Sturgeon”

After his long time friend and art collaborator artist Jeff Fennel  ( www.Jefffennel.com ) convinced him to try painting on aluminum Jeff left the game business behind and went to painting full time with aluminum his new canvas. Through the new millennium Jeff’s work became nationally known with increased appearances as a exhibitor,guest,panelist and guest of honor at conventions around the country and as a illustrator and cover artist. Jeff’s work is much sought after by art collectors whether one of his classic SF/ astronomical pieces or his beautiful renderings of the american west. Jeff’s newest project is Jeff Sturgeon’s last Cities of Earth as his much anticipated shared world project comes to fruition with an anthology with the top writers in the field, an art book of Jeff’s city paintings and concept art., other platforms are in negotiation to try and bring this amazing world Jeff has created to life. Jeff lives in great pacific NW with wife and artist Leslie Kreher and sons Duncan and Corwin.

(21) WALL OBIT. SF Site News has learned Canadian fan Alison Wall died on March 5. More information at the link.

(22) WILSON OBIT. SF Site News reports Toronto fan Ian Wilson, a past Ad Astra chair, died July 28.

(23) STRACZYNSKI TRIBUTE TO DOYLE. Babylon 5 Creator J. Michael Straczynski On the Death of Jerry Doyle” in Epic Times.

When it came to politics, Jerry Doyle and I disagreed on, well, pretty much everything. Politically, Jerry was just to the right of Attila the Hun. There is a line in Babylon 5 where his character, Michael Garibaldi, suggests that the way to deal with crime is to go from electric chairs to electric bleachers. That line is quintessential Jerry Doyle. I say this with confidence because I overheard him saying it at lunch then stole it for the show.

Despite our differences, when Jerry ran for congress as a Republican not long after Babylon 5 ended, I donated to his campaign. Not because I agreed with him, but because I respected him; because there was one area in which we agreed: the vital intersection between the arts of acting and storytelling. In that respect, Jerry was a consummate professional. Regardless of whatever was going on in his life, whether it was marital issues, a broken arm, forced couch-surfing with Bruce and Andreas or other problems, he never once pulled a prima donna on us; he showed up every day on time, knew his lines, and insisted that the guest cast live up to the standards of the main cast, to the point of roughing up one guest star who showed up not knowing his lines. Trust me when I say that after Jerry got done with him, every day he showed up, he knew his lines. And then some.

He was funny, and dangerous, and loyal, and a prankster, and a pain in the ass; he was gentle and cynical and hardened and insightful and sometimes as dense as a picket fence…and his passing is a profound loss to everyone who knew him, especially those of us who fought beside him in the trenches of Babylon 5. It is another loss in a string of losses that I cannot understand. Of the main cast, we have lost Richard Biggs, Michael O’Hare, Andreas Katsulas, Jeff Conaway, and now Jerry Doyle, and I’m goddamned tired of it.

So dear sweet universe, if you are paying attention in the vastness of interstellar space, take a moment from plotting the trajectory of comets and designing new DNA in farflung cosmos, and spare a thought for those who you have plucked so untimely from our ranks…and knock it off for a while.

Because this isn’t fair.

And Jerry Doyle would be the first person to tell you that. Right before he put a fist in your face. Which is what I imagine he’s doing right now, on the other side of the veil.

(24) PROFESSIONALISM. Amanda S. Green reminds readers “It is a business. . .” at Mad Genius Club. It’s a good point in its own right, and a lesson that can be expanded to apply to fan activities as well.

So treat it as one. Yesterday, as I was looking at FB, I came across a post from someone I respect a great deal. He also has one of the most unverifiable jobs there is in publishing. No, not reading the slush pile, although that is part of his job. He has taken it upon himself to do what so many publishers don’t do. He responds to those who send something in, letting them know whether or not their work has met the minimum threshold to be passed up the line for further consideration. Believe me, that is definitely more than a number of publishers do. Too many simply never get back to you unless they are interested.

What caught my eye with his post was how unprofessional someone had been in response to his email letting them know their story had not been passed up the line. Now, I know how it stings when you get a rejection. It’s like someone telling you your baby is ugly. But it happens and we have to accept it with grace and move on. Yes, we can kick and scream and curse in public but you do not send a note back telling the editor how wrong they were. Nor do you tell them that the title has been published during the time the editor was considering it, especially if the editor has gotten back to you in less than half the time they say it normally takes.

And that is where this particular author screwed up. Not only did they send back an unprofessional note to the editor, insuring he will remember the author and not in a good way, but he went ahead and self-published the book without removing it first from consideration by the publishing house. That is two very big strikes and, in this case, the author doesn’t get a third strike before he’s out….

(25) WAGON TRAIN IN SPACE. BBC Radio 4’s “Caravans in Space” investigates space habitats and visits the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop in Chattanooga. Stephen Baxter makes a brief comment in the program.

Is the Earth too perfect? The Moon too grey? Mars too dusty? Then how about setting up a human colony in the depths of space?

Richard Hollingham travels to the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop in Chattanooga, Tennessee to meet scientists, engineers, doctors and anthropologists planning human colonies in space and spaceships that will take humanity to the stars.

These are not dreamers – although they all have an ambitious dream – but well qualified experts. Several work at Nasa, others have day jobs at universities and research institutes.

Richard hears of proposals to build giant space stations and worldships – vessels packed with the best of humanity. These caravans in space might be lifeboats to escape an approaching asteroid or perhaps the first step to colonising the galaxy.

The programme features conference chair and Technical Adviser to Nasa’s Advanced Concepts Office, Les Johnson. He is keen that any discussions about our interstellar future are rooted in reality, not Star Trek.

We also hear from John Lewis, Director of the Space Engineering Centre at the University of Arizona, who advocates mining asteroids and suggests the first space colonies would be like lawless frontier towns.

Other contributors include architect Rachel Armstrong, who is engineering soils for living, breathing organic spaceships and anthropologist Cameron Smith.

As the programme is recorded on location in Chattanooga, it would be remiss of us not to make some reference to trains. Fortunately, our spacefaring future is being discussed in a railroad-themed hotel and on the local tourist train passengers are surprisingly open to living life permanently away from Earth.

(26) STATE FAIR FOOD. When I saw that bacon-wrapped churros were among the semifinalists in the State Fair of Texas annual fried food contest, I hastened to bring this to John Scalzi’s attention. It wouldn’t have surprised me to be the five hundredth person to send him the news, but he said I was actually number seven.

If you read the entire list of semifinalists, you’ll understand why I’m tempted to run a set of brackets and let people pick which sounds most deadly.

Next to “Lollipop Fried Bacon Wrapped Quail Breast on a Stick,” a bacon-wrapped churro sounds like health food….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Rambo, JJ, Dawn Incognito, Michael O’Donnell, David K.M. Klaus, Carl Slaughter, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Pixel Scroll 3/25/16 Phantom MacSpaceface O’Trollington

(1) SOLID NUMBERS. “So How Many Books Do You Sell?” is the question. Kameron Hurley dares to answer.

It’s the question every writer dreads: “How many books have you sold? ”

It’s a tricky question because for 99% of the year, those with traditionally published books honestly have very little idea. But two times a year – in the spring and in the fall – we receive royalty statements from publishers, which give a sometimes cryptic breakdown of what has sold where. So for those keeping track here with my “Honest Publishing Numbers” posts, here’s an update.

(2) HAND JIVE. Star Trek 50th Anniversary Celebration Honors Leonard Nimoy’s Artwork”.

More than 50 pieces will be featured during a 50th-anniversary Star Trek art exhibit honoring a half-century of exploring the final frontier. That includes the final piece of art created by original series star, the late Leonard Nimoy.

The event, which San Diego Comic-Con attendees will arrive just in time for, opens on July 21 at the Michael J. Wolf Fine Arts in San Diego, CA. It will then travel to Las Vegas, Toronto, and the UK.

The official Star Trek site is rolling out all the pieces bit by bit, but the artistic work of the beloved Nimoy was one of the first released. The piece, which depicts multiple images of Nimoy’s hand giving the “Live Long and Prosper” salute, was created for the Star Trek Art Exhibit.

The red, yellow and blue motif is a nod to the uniform colors worn by the Star Trek cast of characters in the original show.

(3) LISTEN UP. In “These hearing aids aren’t just for show A.k.a. This message speaks volumes”, Swedish fan Feeejay describes how her being hard of hearing impacted her experiences at the 2014 Swecon, her coping strategies, and how we can assist them.

What can you do to help? In social situations:

Face me when talking.
Repeat or double check that I’ve got the important information.
Help me sit in the center so I can hear everyone.
Speak clearly, and if I ask you to repeat yourself, try to raise your voice just a tad, but mostly speak slower and more clearly.
If you have a induction loop in a facility, use it.
Microphones should always be used, and if an audience microphone is available, use it too.
Alternatively, have the moderator repeat the questions.

When I’m at conventions, I always sit in the front row. If I’m in a panel I prefer to sit in the middle. This is what works for me — if you don’t know what works for someone else, try asking!

And how did it go at the Steampunkfestival?

Some panels went just fine, if I was placed in the center and didn’t get an audience question. Some panels worked less fine if the moderator forgot to repeat the audience question before someone answered it.

In one panel, I got an audience question and waited for the moderator to repeat it. My silence was interpreted as confusion or not having a good answer, so other panel members answered instead, while I looked like a question mark. I felt really stupid.

(4) THE MAGIC NUMBER FIVE. Lavie Tidhar, interviewed by Shelf Awareness, is asked a numerical question.

Your top five authors:

The writers who most influenced me (for good or bad) are probably Philip K. Dick, Raymond Chandler, Cordwainer Smith (the pen name of Paul Linebarger, who was an intelligence specialist and the godson of Sun Yat-sen and wrote the most extraordinary and peculiar science fiction stories). Tim Powers–I still remember discovering him for the first time and being so blown away. T.S. Eliot.

It’s a sort of Hardboiled Five, isn’t it? It’s more a list of people who directly influenced my writing in some way than anything else.

(5) READ COATES. Rachel Swirsky makes a “Favorite Fiction Recommendation: ‘Magic in a Certain Slant of Light’”

I met Deborah Coates when I was in graduate school at the University of Iowa. She and I were in a writers group together with a lot of other people. We called it Dragons of the Corn.

Deb writes beautiful magical realism, fantasy and science fiction. At one point, she was tossing around the term “rural fantasy.” Her prose is lovely, and the moods she creates are delicate and pervasive.

“Magic in a Certain Slant of Light” is one of my favorites of her short stories….

(6) HAMNER. Earl Hamner, Jr.’s family thanked everyone for their condolences on Facebook, and at the post provides addresses of charitable institutions he supported.

We have been asked about a memorial or service and all I can tell you at this time is that Dad was emphatically opposed to the idea. He even made my mother promise him not to even consider the idea! So, we are respecting his wishes, but at the same time trying to imagine a way to remember him that he would like. (I.e., we all meet at the James River in Virgina and go fishing and drink a lot of Jack Daniels.) In the meantime, if you feel you need to do something to honor him, you will find below a list of organizations that Dad supported. A charitable gift in his memory would make him proud.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 25, 1956 — Lon Chaney stars as “Butcher” Benton, The Indestructible Man.

(8) RED MARS HITS RED LIGHT. Deadline reports “Spike TV ‘Red Mars’ Series On Pause After Showrunner Exits”.

Spike TV has pushed the pause button on Red Mars, its 10-episode straight-to-series drama adaptation of Kim Stanley Robinson’s best-selling “hard” science-fiction trilogy. The move comes as executive producer/showrunner Peter Noah has exited the project, produced by Skydance TV.

…. I hear Straczynski, who had written the pilot script out of his passion for the books, had the option to stay on as showrunner or leave and keep an executive producer credit. The writer, who had been busy in features and TV, opted for the latter, and Noah came in as showrunner. He has now departed too over what I heard were creative differences with Spike.

(9) THE MESSAGE. Chris Van Trump is “Back In The Sad-dle Again” at Shambling Towards Bethlehem.

…What bothers me about the whole Sad Puppies situation is how often the existence of talent in the opposition has been denied, by both sides in this small battlefield of the culture war. Obviously that was Correia’s point in kicking off the whole affair; to expose what he considered to be ideological filtering in the Hugo nomination and voting process.

Personally, I think he was right. Not because of some grand cabal of liberal hypocrites willing to trash good authors on the grounds of political dissent, but because communities develop specific cultures, and those cultures create preferences.

And WorldCon has its own subculture, and as a result its own preferences, and those preferences lean towards the kind of pretentious twaddle that bores me to tears. But hey, it has the right messages, and that’s what’s important.

Or is it?

You see, there’s something that bothers me more than the denial of talent on the grounds of ideology, and that is the degradation of talent in the service of ideology.

One of the problems you run into, and this is something I’ve seen in other mediums as well, is that when you place the perceived political and social value of a work over its artistic value when determining merit, you get, well, precisely what you deserve. Passive, politically-correct-for-your-critical-lens pablum. A checklist of boxes to be marked off, with the expectation of accolades if enough boxes are checked.

You get boring message fiction. Or games. Or art of any kind….

(10) ON THE DOGS. Lela E. Buis, in “Discrimination against the Puppies?”, applies the thoughts from her recent posts about multiculturalism to the Puppy dilemma.

But, is Kate Paulk telling it straight? I don’t quite think so. Unfortunately I’m not going to have time to read the whole list of recommendations before the award nominations are due, but I have worked through the short stories and some of the related works. I can’t speak for the novels, but much of what I’ve read are not neutral recommendations. If you’re keeping up with my reviews, these works are slanted to present the Puppies side of the recent conflict. That means they are written by SJW’s on the Puppy side.

Who’s right? I suspect the SFF community needs to consider the Puppies’ point of view. If you’re reading along on my social commentary, you’ll note that the 50-year era of multiculturalism has closed, and we are now entering a period where community is becoming more important. This means the actions of divisive activists will be less well received than in the past—on all sides. I know people like to fan the flames, but wouldn’t community building be time better spent?

(11) PERFECTION. Sarah A. Hoyt begins “Perfectly Logical” with an epic autobiographical introduction to justify her view about why people asked off the Sad Puppies 4 List.

….It wasn’t a stupid fear.  It was real.  Even though writers can’t control who reads them and likes them, if you’re liked by the “far right” you must be using “dog whistles” — and thus the blacklisting starts.

So those people asking to be removed from the Hugo recommendations which were made by fan vote?  Perfectly logical.  Getting tainted by association is a thing in their circles.

The people proclaiming that we: Larry, Brad, myself, John C. Wright, I don’t know if they were stupid enough to include Kevin J. Anderson and Butcher in that, but definitely everyone else in the list, had “ruined their careers” are right.  For their world and their definition of career.  None of the big four will ever publish us again, except Baen.

They are stuck in the old push-model days in their head.  They think that everyone down the chain will now boycott us.  And they want to make d*mn sure it doesn’t splash on them.

Meanwhile we’re living in a different world.  We’ve tried indie, and it worked.  (Even though in my case it was just toe dipping.  More to come once internet is fixed and bedrooms, kitchen and office unpacked. (It’s all we’re unpacking in this house.)

We’re living in a world where we can be rude to whomever we please, love our fans whoever they are, and have our own opinions.  Because NYC publishing is NOT the boss of us….

(12) CASTING DUDES. “’Why Can’t We Have One White Superhero?’ Said No One Ever” is the topic today at Angry Asian Man.

Many of us who were following the casting of Marvel’s upcoming Iron Fist Netflix series were disappointed when news broke that some white dude named Finn Jones would play the title role of Danny Rand.

Inspired by this thoughtful plea by Keith Chow of The Nerds of Color, over the last two years a vocal fan movement had swelled and rallied around the possibility of an Asian American Iron Fist. While Danny Rand has traditionally been depicted as white in the comic books, there is no legitimate reason why he had to be played by a white actor. This could have been an interesting opportunity to cast an Asian American actor in the lead role, and complicate and reclaim some of the more problematic, orientalist elements of the character’s mythos.

It was a nice thought. But alas, Danny Rand will be white and it’s business as usual. Some people had some gripes about that. And of course, some people had gripes about the people with gripes.

Comic book creator Joshua Luna, best known for his work as a co-creator and writer of such books as Ultra, Girls and The Sword with his brother Jonathan Luna, recently posted a funny comic offering his take on the Iron Fist casting. Imagine, if you will, an alternate dimension…

(13) BEST SF TV. Adam Whitehead offers his list of the 20 Best SF TV shows of all time at The Wertzone.

In the grand tradition of Gratuitous Lists, here’s a look at the twenty Best Science Fiction TV Shows of All Time (that I can think of today). The list is in alphabetical order, not order of quality, nor is there a #1 choice as I’d probably have a totally different choice tomorrow. So rather than argue about arbritary placements on the list, you can instead yell at me at what got left off.

In case you’re wondering, the list contains only overtly science fictional TV shows. No fantasy (that’d be another, different list) and no anime, as I’m not well-enough versed in the field. After some debate, also no superhero stuff as the SF credentials of those shows can vary wildly and there’s enough of them now to make for another list.

(14) LEGO ACTORS. The LEGO Batman Movie – Batcave Teaser Trailer.

(15) DO YOUR DAMN DUTY. The Onion has a jaded view of the Batman v Superman experience:

Promising that it would be best to just buy a ticket and take care of the unpleasantness right away, a new Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice promotional campaign launched this week reportedly urged filmgoers to simply get this whole thing over with. “Listen, you all knew this day was coming, so just go sit your ass in the theater, stare up at the IMAX screen for a couple hours, and be done with this shit once and for all,” said Warner Brothers marketing strategist Elizabeth Harris, who encouraged fans to make plans with friends right now so they could all bite the fucking bullet over opening weekend.

(16) PRE-SUMMER HUMMER. No matter what you may have heard about the movie, Deadline says Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice set the cash registers spinning.

East coast registers are winding down and Warner Bros.’ Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is still on track to be the biggest pre-summer opening day with $80.5M (beating Furious 7‘s $67.4M) and weekend with $169.5M (outstripping The Hunger Games $152.5M) at 4,242 theaters. In sum, this is $20M better than where the industry originally estimated the film to be.

(17) THEME SONG. Darren Garrison’s salute to the late Garry Shandling takes a peculiar turn:

This is the theme to Glyer’s blog,
The theme to Glyer’s blog.
Glyer tweeted me and asked if I would write his theme song.
I’m almost halfway finished,
How do you like it so far?
How do you like the theme to Glyer’s blog?

This is the theme to Glyer’s blog,
The opening theme to Glyer’s blog.
This is the music that you hear as you read the comments.
We’re almost to the part of where he starts to Pixel Scroll.
Then we’ll read Michael Glyer’s blog.

This was the theme to Michael Glyer’s blog.

For those scratching their heads (starting around 30 seconds in):

(18) FLAME ON. Stoic Cynic rocked this verse.

With apologies to BOC:

You see me now a veteran
Of a thousand Usenet wars
I’ve been living on the edge so long
Where the posts of flaming roar

And I’m young enough to look at
And far too old to see
All the scars are on the inside
I’m not sure if there’s candy left in me…

[Thanks to Karl-Johan Norén, Michael J. Walsh, John King Tarpinian, Will R., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Nigel.]

Pixel Scroll 1/26/16 Things Scroll Apart, The Pixel Cannot Hold

(1) MILLIONS STAYED HOME. The Force Awakens made plenty of money in China, but it did not blow up the way it did in the U.S. Inverse ponders “Why Chinese Audiences Skipped The Force Awakens”. BEWARE SPOILERS.

But Zhen, also the director of NYU’s Asian Film and Media Initiative, says there’s another simple reason why Star Wars isn’t as successful in China.

“Chinese audiences are not as familiar with the series and franchise as a whole,” she says. “There is much less knowledge of it or a cult following, but the curiosity is there.”

It makes perfect sense. The Chinese market is blooming so quickly that it’s easy to forget it’s Hollywood’s youngest sibling. The first Star Wars film to be released in China was The Phantom Menace in 1999, making both the rapid proliferation of Hollywood blockbusters in China in recent years impressive, but also the extreme newness of Star Wars as a phenomenon that much more apparent.

China’s primary moviegoing audience is made up of 17-to-31 year-olds who didn’t get the same embedded, multi-generational cultural significance as American audiences that came of age when Star Wars debuted in 1977.

(2) EYE CANDY. Terra Utopische Romane 1957-68 on the Retro-Futurism LiveJournal.

“These old covers are like candy,” says Will R. And Planet X makes an appearance.

(3) FANDOM’S CLOSER. A pitcher for the Oakland Athletics doubles as a trivia maven — “Watch Sean Doolittle answer your deepest, most important Star Wars Questions”. Cut4 warns there could be SPOILERS – at least there could be if any of the stuff he says is true.

(4) GAME APP. In “Super Barista: Manage your own coffee shop and alien clientele in space”.

If you’re a nerd like us, chances are you also love coffee. Those things tend to go hand-in-hand, and today’s app combines coffee nerdiness with space action gaming nerdiness, and it’s called Super Barista.

The premise behind Super Barista is that you serve a very specific, yet broad clientele in your coffee shop. The trick is, that coffee shop is set in space, and your clientele is an assortment of strange, interesting, and sometimes dangerous alien beings. Your shop will take you across the galaxy to five different unique planets where you’ll have to manage your resources, build your staff and crew, and serve your delicious drinks in a timely and efficient manner.

(5) IN MEMORIAM. Steven H Silver has posted his annual In Memoriam list at SF Site.

(6) PEN HONORS ROWLING. “PEN America to Honor J.K. Rowling, Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch at Annual Literary Gala”.

Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling will receive the 2016 PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award at PEN America’s annual Literary Gala on May 16 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. PEN America, the country’s largest writer-driven free expression advocacy organization, presents the award annual to a critically acclaimed author whose work embodies its mission to oppose repression in any form and to champion the best of humanity….

Since her rise from single mother to literary superstar, J.K. Rowling has used her talents and stature as a writer to fight inequality on both a local and global level. Her charitable trust, Volant, supports causes in the United Kingdom and abroad that alleviate social exclusion, with particular emphasis on women and children. In 2005 she founded Lumos, a nonprofit organization that works to help eight million children institutionalized around the world regain their right to a family life. Herself the frequent object of censorship in schools and libraries across the globe, as well as online targeting, Rowling has emerged as a vocal proponent of free expression and access to literature and ideas for children as well as incarcerated people, the learning -disables, and women and girls worldwide….

(7) MORE ON FANFIC. Sharrukin at Sharrukin’s Palace tells what he finds helpful about writing fanfic. His is set in the universe of the Mass Effect game.

First advantage of writing fan-fiction: You will immediately start to build an audience, and get feedback for your work.

By the end of that month, I had posted thirteen chapters, about 40,000 words of new material, and I was still going strong. I finished that entire first novel in a little over four months.

Memoirs was followed by a second novel, composed of substantially original work since most of it was set during a period when Liara and Shepard are not on stage together. I took the opportunity to flesh out Liara’s character arc, introduce a bunch of new supporting characters, and start patching the big plot holes I saw in the games. By the time I got to my novelization of the third game, I was working almost entirely without a net, openly rewriting the story from the ground up.

The experience was tremendously valuable. I learned more about my craft from writing a fan-fiction trilogy than I had learned in decades of on-again, off-again dabbling. I even broke my long-standing aversion to the shorter forms, writing several short stories and a novella along the way.

Some pro authors are a little disdainful of fan-fiction. I believe George R. R. Martin has compared it to paint-by-numbers, something that doesn’t rank with original work as a creative endeavor. I’m not going to dispute that. There are several reasons why I’m working hard now to move away from fan-fiction, and one of them is the desire to create something worthwhile that’s really mine. But as an exercise in improving your craft so that you can survive as a genre author, there’s a lot to recommend it.

You won’t have to do all the work yourself. The source material provides a framework on which you can build and experiment. Your audience will already be familiar with it. Still, you will have to work on the mechanics: prose style, description, exposition, dialogue, point of view, characterization and voice. You will end up taking the original material apart and analyzing it, seeing what worked and what didn’t, in the process of putting together your own version. You will get practice in the simple art of sitting down and cranking out word count, week after week, so that your audience doesn’t get bored and wander away.

(7) EBOOK PRICING. Amanda S. Green compares print book and ebook pricing in “Publishers, You Need To Hear This” at Mad Genius Club.

So, is there a trend — or possibly a clue — here as to why e-book sales for the Big 5 are leveling off?

Some folks were having this discussion yesterday in a private FB group I belong to. The consensus among those taking part in the discussion was that the price point publishers were charging, especially for newly released titles, was more than they were willing to pay. Not just for e-books but for hard covers as well. Those who aren’t big fans of  e-books lamented the fact they were turning to used bookstores to buy those hard cover titles they wanted. Not because they were paying less for the book but because they knew authors don’t receive royalties for those sales.

Note, they weren’t worried about the publishers.

And that is something the Big 5 needs to realize. The reading public is starting to look at the prices they pay for their books — whether they are print or digital — and wonder why the prices are so high. They are following their favorite authors, many of whom write for publishers that aren’t the Big 5 or who are indies, and they are paying attention to what the authors are saying. They understand that the life of the writer is closer to struggling author working in a coffee shop than it is to Castle. They are beginning to realize that the majority of the money they pay for that book, the vast majority of it, goes not to the person who created it but to the corporation what distributed it.

(8) STRACZYNSKI INTERVIEW. Lightspeed Magazine has a transcription of the J. Michael Straczynski interview that was originally part of WIRED’s Geeks Guide to the Galaxy podcast.

I was a street rat, had grown up a street rat, I come from nothing, my family has no connection to literature or writing, and in his introductions I found a kindred spirit. Harlan Ellison was a street rat. He had run with gangs; he was considered trouble. I remembered that in one of his introductions, he had given his phone number. “I wonder if that’s real,” thought I, so I dialed the number and waited and it began to ring. There was a click and I heard, “Yeah?”

“Is this Har-har-har-lan Ellison?” says I.

“Yeah, what do you want?”

“My-my-my-my name is Joe,” I say, stammering through the whole thing, “And I’m a writer and my stuff isn’t selling and I thought you might have some advice.” Which is the stupidest thing to ask any writer; it’s like saying to someone, “What are you doing to my wife?” There is no good answer to that question.

So he says, “All right. Here’s what you do: If it’s not selling, it’s shit. My advice to you? Stop writing shit.”

“. . .Thank you, Mr. Ellison.” Years later, I got to LA and we met in bits and pieces and eventually we became friends, and I finally reminded him of that conversation. And he said, “Were you offended?” And I said, “Had you been wrong, I would’ve been offended.” But he wasn’t.

(9) SANDIFER WONDERS ALOUD. It’s funny that some people will think Phil Sandifer was the first person to ask this question, in “An Open Letter to Sad Puppies IV”.

As the science fiction community mutters “I thought MidAmericon said nominations would open in early January” with baited breath, I note that certain fascist pricks have begun to ramp up their performative chortling. So I figured “why not write a mildly trolling open letter to someone else entirely?”

Ms. Paulk et al:

I note with some bemusement your efforts to reform the Sad Puppies movement from its oft-criticized 2015 form, stripping away its overtly conservative trappings, widening it to a ten-item recommendation list, et cetera. By and large, I have to admit, these seem like, if not strictly speaking good things, at least less bad things. So thank you for your efforts to be less odious than your predecessors. It’s genuinely appreciated. That said, there’s one rather large issue that you don’t seem to have addressed, and that I’d like to raise.

Simply put, why are you doing this?

(10) GRRM RESPONDS. For the record, here’s how George R.R. Martin answered John C. Wright’s latest overture.

I agree, death has a way of putting life’s other trials and triumphs in perspective. My own political and social views are very much at odds with yours, Mr. Wright, and our views on literary matters, especially as regards science fiction and fantasy, are far apart as well. But I have always believed that science fiction has room for all, and I am pretty sure that David Hartwell believed that as well. If we want to heal the wounds our community suffered last year, all of us need to stop arguing about the things that divide us, and talk instead about the things that unite us… as writers, as fans, as human beings. Our grief in David’s passing is one of those things. Everyone who ever knew him or worked with him will miss him, I do not doubt. So thank you for your note, and your heartfelt and compassionate words about David.

(11) A DIFFERENT WRIGHT. The home of the late Jack Larson – “Jimmy Olsen” on the original Superman TV series – is up for sale.

Frank Lloyd Wright‘s George Sturges House, owned by actor and playwright Jack Larson, will be auctioned on 21 February, 2016, for an estimated $2.5 million to $3 million. It is among 75 lots from the estate owned by Larson to be sold after the actor passed away in September. The residence, designed in 1939, was the first Usonian house on the West Coast and was acquired by Jack Larson and Jim Bridges in 1967.

(12) DON’T PANIC. Thug Notes has done a summary and analysis of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Got to love the moment our narrator explains, “But Dude don’t know what the question is!”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Will R., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contrbuting editor of the day Ian P.]

Pixel Scroll 1/1 Let Scrolled Acquaintance Be Forgot…

rhinowaiting(1) HORNING IN. Another rhino run starring Jim Mowatt — “New Year Parkrun Rhino Running at Temple Newsam House”

We set off past the glorious Elizabethan mansion and out through the formal gardens. Down the long hill, left at the motorway and curl back along the edge of the woods until we are once again struggling up the hill toward the house. Twice around we go and the second time we are curved around the hill a little until we burst out into the finish funnel. I queue to be scanned behind the girl in the orange tee shirt. I’d finished before her at Woodhouse Moor but she was really pleased to finish in front of me here at Temple Newsam. “I couldn’t be beaten by a rhino twice in one day” she said.

 

(2) CARRIE FISHER. James H. Burns writes: “Considering that I was never particularly a fan of Carrie Fisher as an actress, I am finding myself becoming quite a fan of her mind!” Burns had just read “Carrie Fisher shuts down the ageist haters as only Carrie Fisher can” on Salon.

She soon followed up with a more direct command, saying, “Please stop debating about whether OR not aged well. unfortunately it hurts all 3 of my feelings. My BODY hasn’t aged as well as I have. Blow us.” It’s been favorited over 35 thousand times — and still going.

(3) FIRST AMENDMENT. Has he been listening to Fisher, too? George Lucas definitely spoke freely on the Charlie Rose show broadcast on December 25:

At one point he said that filmmakers in the Soviet Union had more freedom than their counterparts in Hollywood, who, he maintained, “have to adhere to a very narrow line of commercialism.”

Mr. Lucas appeared particularly unhappy with the direction the “Star Wars” franchise has taken since he sold the rights to it, along with Lucasfilm, his company, to Disney for $4 billion. He compared the sale to a breakup and a divorce.

“These are my kids. All the Star Wars films,” he said. “I love them, I created them, I’m very intimately involved in them.”

He added, trailing off with a laugh: “And I sold them to the white slavers that take these things and. …”

(4) BABYLON 5.1. Blastr’s headline runs a little ahead of the facts – “Straczynski bringing sci-fi classic Babylon 5 back to life with movie reboot in 2016” – in that he hasn’t finished a script and he doesn’t have a commitment from a studio to produce the movie.

Thanks to some shrewd negotiating, Straczynski actually owns the film rights to the franchise — so he isn’t beholden to getting a particular studio to sign on. But he is apparently hoping Warner Bros. (the studio that produced the original series) might be interested once the script is complete. You know, assuming it’s good.

If Warner Bros. doesn’t bite, Straczynski apparently aims to finance the film through his own Studio JMS, though that might be a tall order to bankroll an $80-100 million sci-fi epic. But considering the franchise’s name cachet with genre fans — not to mention the fact that studios are mining just about any brand they can get their hands on these days — you’d think someone would be interested in co-producing.

(5) MARSHAL BURNS. Ken Burns the documentarian was this year’s Rose Parade Grand Marshal, prompting an exchange between John King Tarpinian and Phil Nichols:

[Tarpinian] The documentarian is this year’s Rose Parade grand marshal.  They keep taking about his “moving” stills as having been groundbreaking, calling it Ken Burns effect. Now his documentaries are very well done and quite enjoyable however when I saw the first one this moving-still effect reminded me of Icarus Montgolfier Wright.  I’m thinking Ray Bradbury and George Clayton Johnson’s contribution to this effect was a bit earlier.

[Nichols] Good point, jkt! In fact, the technique had been used prior to ICARUS, most famously in a Canadian documentary called CITY OF GOLD (1957). In the UK, it has only recently become known as the Ken Burns effect. We have our own Ken (Ken Morse) who did similar work for the BBC for decades. We used to call it “movement in stills”, until the American influence became irresistible.

(6) STAR WARS SPOILERS. Beware spoilers in Alex Ross’ fine discussion of “Listening to Star Wars” at The New Yorker.

Williams’s wider influence on musical culture can’t be quantified, but it’s surely vast. The brilliant young composer Andrew Norman took up writing music after watching “Star Wars” on video, as William Robin notes in a Times profile. The conductor David Robertson, a disciple of Pierre Boulez and an unabashed Williams fan, told me that some current London Symphony players first became interested in their instruments after encountering “Star Wars.” Robertson, who regularly stages all-Williams concerts with the St. Louis Symphony, observed that professional musicians enjoy playing the scores because they are full of the kinds of intricacies and motivic connections that enliven the classic repertory. “He’s a man singularly fluent in the language of music,” Robertson said. “He’s very unassuming, very humble, but when he talks about music he can be the most interesting professor you’ve ever heard. He’s a deep listener, and that explains his ability to respond to film so acutely.”

(7) 40% PUPPY CONTENT. Brandon Kempner at Chaos Horizon takes his first cut at predicting the 2016 Best Novel Hugo. Pups get 2 spots out of the top 5.

The difficulty in predicting the 2016 Hugo lies in how little information we have: how big will the Rabid Puppies vote be? How will the Sad Puppies 4 operate? How much will the rest of the Hugo vote increase? Will other Hugo voters change their voting habits to stop a Puppy sweep? Will specific authors turn down endorsements and/or nominations?

(8) RETURN TO SENDER. Kate Paulk, in “Offer? What Offer?” at Sad Puppies 4, dismisses Steve Davidson’s reconciliation post for failing to treat with “the management.”

I’ve heard through the Internet (all right, Facebook) that someone who fancies himself a big shot in the field has “offered” to stop claiming Sad Puppies 4 is all things evil in return for a few “reasonable concessions” on our part.

Since the person in question hasn’t bothered to make this offer to me, Sarah Hoyt, or Amanda Green, Sad Puppy supporters can reasonably assume that the so-called offer is not actually genuine.

(9) KNOW JOHN, NO PEACE. John C. Wright deconstructed George R.R. Martin’s reconciliation post in “Peace on Mars, Good Will Toward Puppies” .

…Mr. Martin wills the ends without willing the means. He wishes for a cessation of enmity but does not identify who caused it and why, nor does he offer any apology or concession. Perhaps he is merely wishing for the status quo ante. Perhaps he regards his role in the matter as an entirely innocent one.

Be that as it may, honor demands a courteous response to a courteous overture….

The second group is a parasite on the first. Its sole purpose rests on expropriating the glory and reputation the award in times past painfully and honestly earned in the public esteem, and expending this stored capital profligately on unworthy objects to give them an outward momentary appearance of worth.

For example, the parasites seek to elevate REDSHIRTS to the stature of DUNE by an outward show of praise without the book being as praiseworthy. However, according to the inevitable rules governing such counterfeits, as soon as the public opinion grows aware of the inflation and adjusts its estimates accordingly, the parasites fail, and the original host fails with them.

In this case, failure means the Hugo Award no longer represents to anyone an honest judgment of worth. The boast ‘Hugo Award Winning!’ becomes a leper’s bell rather than a badge of honor, and any undeceived science fiction readers flee it. REDSHIRTS is not elevated to the stature of DUNE, but DUNE sinks.

Perhaps Mr. Martin can see a means whereby the host and the parasite that forever seeks to destroy the host can coexist in peace. I, for one, cannot….

(10) AN INTERVIEW WITH URASIS DRAGON. But once Wright had a look at Steve Davidson’s reaction to Martin, he discovered a new comradely admiration for GRRM, as expressed in “Constant Discord from Imaginary Dragons”.

Good grief. Observe that by kicking up this smokescreen of false reconciliation, Mr. Davidson actually makes it more difficult for any parties wishing for true reconciliation (I believe George RR Martin is one such) to accomplish the task…..

For the sake of any undecided readers toying with the notion that the puppykickers have some sort of valid argument or same vestigial desire for peace, allow me to address Mr. Davidson’s four points in order.

Point One: Please note that in the same column he says ” Anyone can become a member and all members enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other member.”

So, when we Sad Puppies did exactly this, Mr. Davidson uses this as an example of us “scamming the system” and advises us, as a condition of reconciliation, that we stop.

Logically, since we cannot cease to do what was never done to begin with, the condition cannot be met. As if one offered peace to a confirmed bachelor on the condition he stop beating his wife.

And Mr. Davidson also uses this to contradict our (accurate) accusation that a small group of inside elite writers and editors over the last fifteen years has been manipulating and dominating the awards secretively, that is, scamming the system.

(11) AMAZING NEGOTIATIONS. Meanwhile, Fandom’s self-appointed Ambassador Plenipotentiary Steve Davidson is experimenting with a unilateral cease-fire, which he calls a “Self-Inflicted Puppy Moratorium”.

I’ve finally whittled my suggestions down to two:  1.  leave the current SPIV recommendation list as a pure recommendation list.  (It’s almost not a slate – all that needs doing is to drop the associated political rhetoric and the curation down to a “final list” and it will BE a recommendation list) and 2. disassociate SP from RP in a publicly demonstrable way.

I’ll note in passing that BOTH of these suggestions are things that the Sad Puppies are claiming to want to do – or to have already done.  It would, therefore, seem to be an easy set of requests to comply with.

As quid pro quo, I offered the following:  I would consult and participate in their recommendation list(s) (participate in order to ‘prove’ that I was doing so); I would give serious consideration to any proposal(s) they might make at WSFS business meetings (they’ve called for a Hugo for tie-ins, among other things);  I will honor their votes and nominations as being valid participation in the Hugos (in other words, won’t assume it’s all politics and market grab on their part); will continue to keep Amazing as an open source (that it has always been – the ONLY people I’ve ever received a “never coming here again” are those who complain the site is biased against them, which, if they stuck around instead of running for the hills….)

AND – I promised a unilateral moratorium on puppy-related posts for two weeks (starting yesterday) while I awaited their response.

(12) NEW YEAR’S FIREWORKS DISPLAY. Scott Lynch, who for reasons explained in the post felt unable to do so immediately after Sasquan, rang in the New Year with a defense of Patrick Nielsen Hayden against John C. Wright’s characterizations.

…This was especially frustrating in the wake of the 2015 World Science Fiction Convention, after which the ponderously self-important blowhard John C. Wright publicly accused veteran editor and lifelong fan Patrick Nielsen Hayden of both assaulting Wright’s wife and masterminding the long-term “corruption” of the Hugo Awards, to which the SF/F field largely replied: “Meh.” Now, some of that is certainly due to Wright’s tireless self-marginalization and frothing bigotry, but regardless, I think Patrick deserved better of his friends and colleagues. He deserved to have someone stand up and state plainly what he could not– that John C. Wright talks a big game about truth and courage, but that he is demonstrably full of shit.

I wanted to be that person. I prepared a lengthy post to that effect. And then anxiety did its usual crushing, grinding thing, and days became weeks, which became months. It is now the new year, Hugo chat has started up in earnest, and Wright is once again plying his mealy-mouthed combination of false civility and vicious nonsense on the subject. I have decided to weigh in with a reminder that the narrative Wright wants to push is an absolute full-blown fabrication….

(13) YEAR IN REVIEW. Like on that game show, Lou Antonelli delivers the answer in the form of a question: ”2015? The Year in Review?” at This Way to Texas.

And then, what I would have thought would be be a great thing, being nominated for the Hugo award twice, turned out to be the worst thing that ever happened in my life. But it helped me realize that, in the end, I really only write for myself and friends, and in literature – as in other things in life – trying to please other people is the fast track to misery.

[Thanks to Stephen Burridge, Morris Keesan, Nila Thompson, John King Tarpinian, Zenu, and Bruce Arthurs for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]

Update 01/02/2016: Corrected item (8) after readers pointed out Paulk was commenting about Steve Davidson’s reconciliation post, not George R.R. Martin’s.