Pixel Scroll 1/30/21 Hiding In The Hamburger Menu

(1) WINTER IS HERE. The Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop will host the Winter Writers Series, monthly conversations via Zoom between Clarion alumni and instructors about the art of speculative fiction and their writing careers. The conversations are co-hosted by Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore. The online events are free and open to the public. Each conversation will include time for Q&A with the audience. RSVP to each event individually via the links below.

Writing the Magic and the Real. February 24, 2021, 5pm PT / 8pm ET (register here)

A conversation between Andrea HairstonKiik Araki-Kawaguchi and Sanjena Sathian about how they approach blending elements of realism—including historical events and contemporary culture—and the fantastic in their fiction.

  • Andrea Hairston is a playwright, novelist, and scholar. She has published three novels.
  • Kiik Araki-Kawaguchi writes dreampop speculative fictions and darkwave minimalist poetry that can be enjoyed on a bus ride or in line for coffee.
  • Sanjena Sathian was raised in Georgia by Indian immigrant parents. She’s a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, an alumna of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, and a former Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow. Her debut novel, Gold Diggers, will be released by Penguin on April 6, 2021.

Science Fiction: Balancing Worldbuilding and Narrative. March 24, 2021, 5pm PT / 8pm ET (register here)

A conversation about the art of creating science fictional worlds and the stories that bring them to life with Cory DoctorowKaren Osborne, and Kali Wallace, three incredible writers and Clarion alumni.

  • Cory Doctorow is a science fiction author, activist, and journalist.
  • Karen Osborne is a speculative fiction writer and visual storyteller living in Baltimore. Architects of Memory is her debut sf novel and its sequel, Engines of Oblivion, will be released on 2/9/21.
  • For most of her life Kali Wallace was going to be a scientist when she grew up. Only after she had her shiny new doctorate in hand did she admit that she loved inventing imaginary worlds as much as she liked exploring the real one. Her newest novel, Dead Space, comes out on 3/2/21.

(2) 2021 WESTERCON. Westercon 73, the one-year delayed Westercon in Seattle, posted on their website that the delayed in-person conference will now be a virtual/online conference. Also, due to health concerns Sally Woehrle has stepped down as convention Chair. Gene Armstrong has moved from Vice Chair to Chair of Westercon 73. The committee says she will be assisting the convention in going forward once her health improves. Meanwhile, Armstrong explained the move to a virtual event:

Since winning the Westercon 73 bid in 2018 our committee has been excited about planning and holding this Westercon! However, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a number of changes in the last year no one could have foreseen and this Westercon wasn’t exempted from any of those challenges. We’ve all had to be patient and adjust to new ways of keeping in contact and that has also meant new ways of holding conventions. Even though vaccinations are starting to be available it doesn’t look like there will have been enough to make major gatherings safe by our original convention dates. That has led to hard conversations and decisions as to how Westercon 73 will go forward. Westercon 73 will NOT be an in-person physical convention.

In order to ensure the safety and health of all participants Westercon 73 will be a virtual/online convention. We are still working out key details of what this will entail but some decisions have been established. Virtual Westercon 73 will be held on the originally planned weekend of July 1-4, 2021. Westercon 73 will be offering a film festival, filking, and all the programming that can be managed effectively in an online format. The cost of a full attending membership has been dropped to $35 for the weekend to reflect the online nature of the convention. Please check our website or Facebook page for more information and updates as they become available.

(3) LEPRECON GOES VIRTUAL, TOO. LepreCon 47, a fan-run sff convention based in Phoenix, will be virtual from March 19-21, 2021 via Zoom.

Artist Guest of Honor (GoH) is Jeffrey S. Veregge, an award-winning Native American artist and writer from the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe. Also participating: artist David Dace, and authors Maxwell Alexander Drake, Gregory Benford, Larry Niven, and Evan Currie. FtM Musician Alexander James Adams will be doing a Filk Concert.

(4) FUTURE TENSE. Simon Brown’s short story “Speaker” which looks at human-hyena communication is the latest story from Future Tense Fiction, and the first in a series presented by Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, as part of its work on Learning Futures and Principled Innovation

Akata woke before sunrise because a question occurred to her.

“What is joking?”

Samora, 300 kilometers away, rubbed sleep from his eyes and said, “Repeat?”

“What is joking?” Akata repeated.

“Umm.” Samora sat up straighter. He realized the question could mark one of those turning points that Project Sentience referred to as Levers, a window to wider dialogue between Speakers. It was a word the Project always spelled with a capital L, as if those working there needed to be reminded of its importance. Samora played for time. “Why do you ask?”…

Iveta Silova’s response essay asks “If nonhumans can speak, will people learn to listen?”

Living in the Anthropocene is fraught with paradox. For centuries, we have convinced ourselves that we, humans, are special and superior to other species and the rest of the natural world. We stand as self-appointed speakers for the planet, as though no other beings can feel, think, or communicate.

Today, however, we are forced to acknowledge that we are not so special after all. On the one hand, we wonder and worry whether artificial intelligence will become conscious, leading us down a dystopian spiral of human irrelevance. On the other hand, we see a major shift in scientific thinking about plant intelligence and animal consciousness, suggesting that the difference between human and nonhuman species is just a matter of degree, not of kind. Meanwhile, our hyperseparation from the natural world is threatening every species on Earth—including humans….

On Thursday, Feb. 4, at noon Eastern, author Simon Brown and Iveta Silova, professor and director of the Center for the Advanced Studies in Global Education, housed under Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, will discuss this story in an hour-long online discussion. RSVP here.

(5) TRAINING DAY. First Fandom Experience, in “Via Freight Train, A Travelogue Tragically Truncated”, has pulled together as many installments as they could find of two Denver fans’ accounts of traveling to the 1940 Worldcon in Chicago via boxcar.

[For Olon F. Wiggins and Lew Martin] at the Chicago gathering was essential, for they had already hatched a plan to propose that the following Worldcon in 1941 be held in Denver. So — how to get to Chicago?

According to Martin:

“It all began one meeting of the Denver Science Fictioneers when I asked Chairman Wiggins if he planned to attend the Chicago 1940 World’s Science-Fiction Convention. He replied that he was and I told him of my desire and determination to go. He planned to go via bus and I had planned to hitch-hike, picking up Al McKeel at Jefferson City, Missouri. Several meetings elapsed before we had compromised on accompanying each other via freight train.”From “Via Freight Train” by Lew Martin, TSFF, v5n7, April 1941

(6) FELLOWSHIP OF TELEPHONE RING. [Item by rcade.] The science fiction author Cherie Priest has a Twitter thread about being hit up for professional book deal advice by somebody in desperate need of a come-to-Jesus. Thread starts here.

Spoiler alert: The guy was a major-league [redacted]. But her conclusion about the friendship of writers is quite nice, and includes —

(7) MENTORING OPPORTUNITY. Vanity Fair shares “A Wrinkle in Time Author Madeleine L’Engle’s Letters to Ahmad Rahman”.

Madeleine L’Engle’s mail arrived in prodigious batches by the summer of 1976, 14 years after the publication of A Wrinkle in Time. From her study in Manhattan’s Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, where she served as librarian, the 57-year-old author attended to editorial correspondence, fan art, manila envelopes stuffed with middle-school-reader responses, royalty statements, and speaking requests from around the world. Amid the usual haul, one correspondent stood out: Ron Irwin, inmate #130539 at the State Prison of Southern Michigan, a 25-year-old former member of the Black Panther Party.

Irwin, who later converted to Islam and adopted the name Ahmad Rahman, had just received an honorable mention in the nonfiction category of the 1976 PEN America Writing Award for Prisoners. PEN had recently launched a correspondence program pairing writers in prison with established writers on the outside. Rahman signed on, welcoming the opportunity for literary growth while completing his bachelor’s degree through Wayne State University. He articulated only one wish: that the correspondent not be antagonistic to his interests. “I do not subscribe to the so-called universalist school of Black literature that tries to downplay the uniqueness of the ways and politics of Black people in our American dilemma,” he explained. “I am not a writer first and then a Black man.”

A young PEN administrator named John Morrone played matchmaker. L’Engle, he knew, had asked to be a mentor. He forwarded Rahman’s concerns and writing samples. L’Engle saw raw talent. “I believe that literature is, in fact, a strong common meeting ground,” she responded to Morrone, “but he may not agree. I certainly have no objection to his writing out of his own background. That’s all any of us has to work from.” She typed an introductory letter to Rahman and had a copy of Wrinkle sent to the prison because, she told Morrone, “science fiction/fantasy transcends barriers of race.”

It was a match made of opportunity—as for alchemy, time would tell what no one then could have predicted: that a “mystical connection,” in Rahman’s words, would bind them for life; that their surviving letters—more than 200 pages—would lay bare the senselessness of excessively punitive “justice” and the ravages of mass incarceration; that the integrity of two extraordinary people would breed a leveling intimacy, making way for a mutual mentorship that purposefully, sometimes painfully, worked through the obstacles of politics, class, race, religion, gender, and generation….

(8) GUNN TRIBUTE. Catching up here with the photo-filled announcement “Founder James Gunn has died” posted December 23 by Chris McKitterick on the KU Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction site.

When he was teaching – and for at least a decade after retiring – Jim would go to his office each day and write there, door open to passers-by. If anyone had a question, he’d pause in his work and welcome their questions. I once asked him if I had what it takes to become a writer, because it’s a difficult and painful calling. He asked me why I keep doing it if I felt that way. I said that if I don’t write, I get grumpy and unhappy, and then went on to excitedly explain what I was trying to say in my newest story. As I spoke, he smiled, then nodded and said, ‘Anyone who can be discouraged from becoming a writer should be. The rewards are small and delayed, few people will ever care about your work, and there are no guarantees. Only those who cannot be discouraged find success. You have what it takes.’

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1996 Twenty-five years ago, the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel went to Christopher Priest for The Prestige. Runner-ups were James Blaylock’s All Bells on Earth, Tim Powers’ Expiration Date, Vikram Chandra’s Red Earth and Pouring Rain, Graham Joyce’s Requiem and Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s The Silent Strength of Stones. The film version of The Prestige would be nominated for a Hugo at Nippon 2007. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 30, 1866 – Gelett Burgess.  Famous – in my opinion, deservedly, but he hated it – for “The Purple Cow”; see the original, his reply, and more here.  Coined “blurb”, which most folks now take as neutral without bothering to learn GB’s distaste.  We may claim – although there is something fantastic about all he did – three novels, half a dozen shorter stories; he drew things, too; Don Markstein concurrently calls him a cartoonist, although as you can discern, DM’s description is defective.  (Died 1951) [JH]
  • Born January 30, 1924 – Lloyd Alexander.  (See 28 Jan 57 note for  Joanne Findon.)  Five novels, eight shorter stories in the Prydain Chronicles; another score of novels, and another of shorter stories, for us; other books, some nonfiction.  Cats recur.  Newbery Medal, two Nat’l Book Awards.  Co-founder of Cricket magazine.  A story and a drawing in the Oz Hundredth Anniversary Celebration.  Two translations of Sartre.  Also a violinist; once sent this Christmas card.  See a blog and a documentary about him. (Died 2007) [JH]
  • Born January 30, 1926 Peter Brachacki. Set designer for the very first episode of Doctor Who. Everything I’ve been able to read on him and that work says that he was not at all interested in working on the series and did so reluctantly under orders. Doctor Who producer Verity Lambert would later recount that she was impressed with Brachacki’s work on the TARDIS interior even though she personally did not like him at all. His design elements have persisted throughout the fifty years the series has been produced.  His only other genre work that I’ve been able to find was Blake’s 7 and a short series called the The Witch’s Daughter done in the late Seventies. The BBC wasn’t always great at documenting who worked on what series. (Died 1980.) (CE) 
  • Born January 30, 1930 – Doll Gilliland.  Beloved late wife of Alexis Gilliland and, with him, active in WSFA (Washington, D.C., SF Ass’n).  They hosted WSFA meetings in their home 24 years and ran six Disclaves together.  For Inside “2001: a Space Opera” see the ConStellation Program Book (41st Worldcon).  Here is AG’s appreciation.  Not every such widower is lucky enough to remarry but, like Kelly Freas, he did.  (Died 1991) [JH]
  • Born January 30, 1937 Vanessa Redgrave, 84. I think her role of Guinevere in Camelot is her first genre role. Yes, that’s a fantasy. From there I see she’s Lola Deveraux in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, Max in Mission: Impossible, Robin Lerner in Deep Impact, Countess Wilhelmina whose The Narrator of Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story in which Jim Henson reworked the story to give it “a more ethical, humanist view”.  Really. Truly. She next shows in the adaptation of Cornelia Funke’s The Thief Lord as Sister Antonia. I’ve only got two series appearances for her, one on Faerie Tale Theatre as The Evil Queen in, surprise not, the “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” episode; the other on the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles as Mrs. Prentiss in the “London, May 1916” episode. (CE) 
  • Born January 30, 1941 – Jim Benford, age 80.  Identical twin of Greg Benford (see Cat Eldridge’s note).  Active as a fan, often with G; famously they both did the fanzine Void; since 2012, Motley; J has been in LofgeornostSF ReviewTrap DoorVertex, with and without G.  Some pro work: three short stories together, two Science Fact pieces in Analog – more recently J did one with Dominic Benford; anthology with G Starship Century.  [JH]
  • Born January 30, 1941 – Gregory Benford, 80. His longest running series is Galactic Center Saga, a series I find a little akin to Saberhagen’s Beserker series. I’ve not read enough of it to form a firm opinion though I know some of you of have done so.  Other novels I’ve read by him include Timescape (superb) and A Darker Geometry: A Man-Kzin Novel which was actually was quite excellent. (Yes, I do read Baen Books). (CE)
  • Born January 30, 1953 Michael J. Anderson, 68. He’s known for being as The Man from Another Place in David Lynch’s television series Twin Peaks, the prequel film for the series, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, and as Samson Leonhart on Carnivàle. He had one-offs on MonstersDeep Space NineX-FilesThe Phantom Eye and Charmed. (CE) 
  • Born January 30, 1955 Judith Tarr, 66. I’m fond of her Richard the Lionheart novels which hew closely to the historical record while introducing just enough magic to make them fantasy. The novels also make good use of her keen knowledge of horsemanship as well. Her Queen of the Amazons pairs the historical Alexander the Great, with a meeting with the beautiful Hippolyta, who is queen of the Amazons. Highly recommended. (CE) 
  • Born January 30, 1962 – Todd Hamilton, age 59.  A novel and two shorter stories with Patricia Beese; mostly active in visual art: two dozen covers, ten dozen interiors.  One Chesley.  Served a term as ASFA (Ass’n of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists) President.  Here is the Nov 87 Analog.  Here is Through Darkest Resnick with Gun and Camera.  Speaking of identity, here is A Case of Mistaken Identity.  Here is TH’s Chicon in 2000 trading card.  He also did the hippocampus for Chicon IV the 40th Worldcon; it’s on p. 1 of the fine Program Book, see here (PDF).  [JH]
  • Born January 30, 1963 Daphne Ashbrook, 58. Grace Holloway, Companion to the Eighth Doctor. Need I say more? And yes, she kissed him. Unlike so many other Who characters, she has not shown up in a Big Finish production. She’d show up as the title character in the “Melora” episode of Deep Space Nine, and she was Katherine Granger in the “A Knight in Shining Armor” episode of Knight Rider. (CE) 
  • Born January 30, 1973 Jordan Prentice, 38. Inside every duck, is a self-described person of short stature. In the case of Howard the Duck from the movie of the same name, one of those persons was him. He’s not in a lot of SFF roles after his performing debut there though he shows up next as Fingers Finnian in Wolf Girl,  playing Sherriff Shelby in Silent But Deadly, Napoleon in Mirror Mirror and Nigel Thumb in The Night Before the Night Before Christmas. (CE)
  • Born January 30, 1986 – Rebecca Green, age 35.  Of course a book called The Glass Town Game appeals to me; here is RG’s cover.  See more, including Iqbal and His Ingenious Idea (AAAS/Subaru Prize), at her Website.  How about a Wikipedia entry?  [JH]

(11) PEEKING INSIDE THE GLASS BALLOT BOX. Marvel tweeted an in-progress report on the fan vote to pick the final member of the X-Men team.

(12) AFRICAN SUPERHEROES. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt interviews Roye Okupe, whose line of African superheroes self-published through YouNeek Studios has just been acquired by Dark Horse Comics, a transaction which makes Okupe “one of the rising stars of a comic industry that has made attempts to diversify over the past decade.” “Roye Okupe dreamed of creating his own African superhero universe. Now it’s finally paying off”.

…By the time he graduated from George Washington University with a degree in computer science (while also studying animation at the Art Institute of Washington), Okupe was shopping around an eight-minute animated trailer for an African superhero. Years before “Black Panther” would go on to make $1 billion at the box office, Okupe received little interest from the TV world. One producer told him his ideas might work if he changed the race of his heroes.

But Okupe never lost confidence in his dream, and in 2015 he decided to introduce his heroes to the world by self-publishing comic books.

Now, in 2021, Okupe’s dream will become mainstream….

(13) TOP OF HIS FIELD. David Morrell on writing novels is the first of a series of Zoom seminars by notable writers hosted by SouthWest Writers. Takes place February 6, at 10 a.m. The author who created Rambo (in First Blood)is also a three-time Bram Stoker Award winner.

Zoom Meeting Information:
Topic: SWW Saturday Meeting – February 2021
Time: Feb 6, 2021, at 10:00 AM Mountain Time (US and Canada)

Join the Zoom Meeting. Click here to join the meeting. (Meeting ID: 446 372 3340, no password required.) For all sign-in options, go to the Zoom Meeting Sign In page.

(14) PAY THE ARTIST. Here’s Steve Wagner’s response to a t-shirt design contest.

(15) DOWN THE HATCH. Somebody’s getting paid for this effervescent “AYE! – Star Trek – T-Shirt” – hopefully that includes the artist.

Star Trek’s “Scotty” always says “Aye!” to a wee dram of Auld Aberdonian scotch whisky! Look for the distinctive red top. Since 1966.

(16) MY MIND IS BLOWN. In “The Kerminator” on YouTube, Pixel Riot asks, “What happens if you fuse The Terminator and Kermit the Frog?”

(17) THEY’RE PINK. File this under “horror genre” Food & Wine headlines that “Kraft Mac and Cheese Comes in Pink Candy Flavor” for Valentine’s Day. You could be a lucky winner. (Or a luckier loser?)

…Kraft doesn’t want to overdo it, so you can’t buy Candy Kraft Mac & Cheese in stores. Instead, from now until February 8, interested fans need to go to CandyKraftMacandCheese.com to enter a random drawing. Kraft says 1,000 winners will be selected and have one box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and one candy packet to turn the Mac & Cheese pink delivered to their door by February 14.

(18) BEAMING FROM THE PAST. Facebook invites you to “Watch: That Time William Shatner Appeared As Captain Kirk In 1970s Kids’ ‘Hollywood Squares”. The Hollywood Squares game show did some episodes for kids that aired on Saturday morning called The Storybook Squares, where celebrities appeared as characters out of fiction or history. Shatner is first introduced at the 45-second mark and contestants call on him a couple times during the show.

(19) SANDMAN CAST. “Oh bless, Gwendoline Christie is going to play Lucifer in Netflix’s The Sandman”Yahoo! Entertainment is excited – maybe you will be too!

Netflix has finally set the main cast for its forthcoming adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s DC comic, The Sandman, a dark fantasy that has been in the works for quite some time now. (In fact, it was first picked up a year and a half ago. Can anyone even remember a single thing about 2019 at this point?) While there were early concerns that this project might roam Development Hell for a while, Gaiman recently assured fans and Seth Meyers that there was an active set after a brief COVID-related pause. Today, Netflix reveals the players that are on said hot set: Tom Sturridge, star of Starz’s Sweetbitter, will take on the role of Dream, Lord of the Dreaming realm. Netflix also added Vivienne Acheampong, Boyd Holbrook, Charles Dance, Asim Chaudhry, and Sanjeev Bhaskar to the intriguing ensemble.

And for a serious kicker, Gwendoline Christie will step in to play Lucifer…. 

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Cat Rambo reads her short story “Acquainted with the Night”. Trigger warning: child murder, violence. Rambo says: “This is an early superhero fiction story of mine that originally appeared in Corrupts Absolutely?

[Thanks to John Hertz, JJ, Frank Catalano, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Todd Mason, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, rcade, Woody Bernardi, Steve Wagner, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Anna Nimmhaus and Colin H.]

Second Pixel Scroll 4/28/16 Scroll Up And File Right

Here’s a bonus Scroll, healthfully free of references to rocket-shaped awards. Well, except for that one.

(1) THE DOCTOR. Vulture provided an introduction for this clip of David Tennant and Stephen Colbert doing their own version of “Who’s on First”.

David Tennant is currently playing Richard II in a cycle of Shakespeare history plays at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and on Wednesday night, he stopped by Stephen Colbert’s show to tell him all about it. But before he could, he had to take part in a very silly “Who’s On First” spoof with late night’s most verbally gifted host, one that wrapped in Doctor Who, Doctor Strange, and Benedict Cumberbatch (who, coincidentally, is about to play Richard III on British TV).

 

(2) PETER DAVID.

(3) GIVE FORWARD. When Ed Dravecky III passed away at WhoFest last weekend, away from home, a crowdfunded appeal was launched on behalf of his partner Robyn Winans seeking financial assistance to help with the transport and funeral arrangements.The target was $2,000 – over $5,000 was raised.

(4) FREE PAOLO BACIGALUPI STORY. Joey Eschrich, Editor and Program Manager for the Center for Science and the Imagination as Arizona State University, and Assistant Director, Future Tense, has something for you —

I just wanted to share this new (free) short story from Paolo Bacigalupi about artificial intelligence, pleasurebots, and the ethical and legal quandaries of human-machine interaction – I’m hoping you might consider sharing it with your community!

The Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University, where I work, commissioned and edited the story along with Slate.com’s Future Tense channel – it’s the first in Future Tense Fiction, a series of short stories about how technology and science will change our lives. The story is accompanied by a response essay from Ryan Calo, a robotics and law expert at the University of Washington.

(5) FULL FURY FIVE. The “Wasteland Weekend” video features people cosplaying entire cars in Mad Max-esque styles.

For Mike Orr, a.k.a. “Sweet Lips,” escapism comes in the form of Wasteland Weekend: an annual four-day post-apocalyptic festival held in the Southern California desert that attracts thousands of people from around the country. It’s basically a giant celebration of end-of-the-world culture, where, per Sweet Lips, “people can do whatever they want.” This includes everything from hand-to-hand combat to burlesque to bonfires that set the night sky ablaze.

But most of all, people come to Wasteland for the cars?—?DIY war machines that look as though they’ve rolled right out of Fury Road.

 

(6) TO THE PAIN. The New York Times explains why “Ramsay Bolton of ‘Game of Thrones’ Is the Most Hated Man on TV”.

Like many successful actors, Iwan Rheon, better known as the blithely malicious Ramsay Bolton on “Game of Thrones,” arguably the most hated man on television, admits he’s concerned about being narrowly defined by an indelible character. But ask a logical follow-up question — what else are you working on? — and the scale of his challenge becomes clear.

“I’m playing a young Hitler,” he replied, referring to the British television movie “Adolf the Artist.” Then realization took hold, and his face crumpled in mock despair: “Oh, I’m typecast already!”

(7) KEEP YOUR YAB BANG CHUT. A side-effect of the studio’s suit against the producers of Axanar is this story: “Paramount Pictures sued over copyright of Klingon language”. Notwithstanding the headline, what’s been filed is an amicus curae brief, which, as Chris Meadow explains, “Is a legal brief in which a party not directly involved in a case puts in a few words about issues that could nonetheless affect them depending on how the case is decided.”

A group called the Language Creation Society is suing Paramount Pictures in federal court over its copyright of the Klingon language from the television series Star Trek, arguing that it is a real language and therefore not subject to copyright.

The suit, filed by Marc Randazza and the Language Creation Society, argues that while Paramount Pictures created Klingon, the language has “taken on a life of its own.”

“A group called the Language Creation Society claims in U.S. federal court that Paramount Pictures lacks the ‘yab bang chut’ or ‘mind property law’ necessary to claim copyright over the Klingon language,” Randazza wrote in the brief’s description.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the issue had previously been brought up in a lawsuit between Paramount Pictures and CBS over a crowdfunded Star Trek fan film that made use of the language.

Ken White at Popehat did his own analysis of the question.

The legal point is a fascinating one: if a language is created in connection with a copyrighted work of fiction, can there be a copyright on other use of the language, even if it’s not to speak the lines from the copyrighted work?

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • April 28, 2007  — Ashes of actor James Doohan, who portrayed engineer “Scotty” on Star Trek, and of Apollo 7 astronaut Gordon Cooper soared into space aboard a rocket.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL.

(10) SINFUL STAR WARS. CinemaSins covers Everything Wrong With Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens and reminds us: “Remember, no movie is without sin!”

(11) FUTURE DSC AWARDED. SF Site News learned ConCave to Host DeepSouthCon in 2018.

(12) WE NOW KNOW. In 2016, the planet Mars will appear brightest from May 18 to June 3. NASA has the scoop.

Mars Close Approach is May 30, 2016. That is the point in Mars’ orbit when it comes closest to Earth. Mars will be at a distance of 46.8 million miles (75.3 million kilometers). Mars reaches its highest point around midnight — about 35 degrees above the southern horizon, or one third of the distance between the horizon and overhead. Mars will be visible for much of the night.

There is a nice animation at the above site showing how Mars’ appearance embiggens during the approach…

(13) UNEXPECTED VACANCY IN HALL H. “Fox Movie Studio Pulls Out of Comic-Con Main Event Over Piracy Fears” at The Wrap.

20th Century Fox will not showcase its upcoming movie releases in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con this year.

The studio feels it cannot prevent the piracy of custom trailers and exclusive footage routinely screened for fans in attendance, an individual familiar with the decision told TheWrap.

A representative for Fox declined to comment. SDCC was not immediately available for comment….

(14) THE PLURAL OF NEMESIS. The Verge introduces Batman: The Killing Joke trailer.

The first full trailer for Batman: The Killing Joke, Warner Bros. Animation’s first R-rated Batman movie, is finally here. Based on the acclaimed and highly controversial graphic novel of the same name, the film will explore Batman’s relationship with the Joker, and drive home the fact that they represent perfect arch-nemeses for one another.

Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke, released as a one-shot back in 1988, is considered by many fans as the greatest, and perhaps most terrifying, Joker story ever written….

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Glenn Hauman, JJ, Will R., Mark-kitteh, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File770 contributing editor of the day Heather Rose Jones.]

Pixel Scroll 3/3/16 What’s Scroll Got To Do, Got To Do With It?

(1) CANCER SMACKDOWN IN PROGRESS. Pat Cadigan has a great update — “That’s Right, Cancer, I Said You Better Run ‘Cause There Ain’t Nothin’ For You Here”.

Yes, in case you can’t tell, the level of cancer in my body continues to decline. I did a little math and the current level is 3% of what it was when I started chemotherapy in January 2015. I saw one of the doctors on my consultant’s team, a young Asian doctor that I’ve seen before. He was so genuinely happy for me, I kinda choked up.

This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. I had the bad luck to have my cancer recur in the worst possible form but the good luck to have the drugs work better than anyone expected them to. I’d like to tell you attitude is half the battle. I mean, then I could really pat myself on the back (no pun intended, I swear) and say I kicked cancer’s arse. The truth is, I got lucky; the drugs work. My attitude lets me enjoy it.

I would like to be more profound but at the moment, I’m just kinda dazed. Six months ago, I was terminal, at least as far as anyone knew. Today I’m no longer dying of cancer, I’m living with my technicolor Doc Martens boot on its neck.

You know, I don’t think that will ever get old.

(2) OVER TIME. An interview with Lois McMaster Bujold in the New Zealand Herald.

Gentleman Jole And The Red Queen is precisely to do with what happens when a woman refuses to be constrained by the assumptions of the people who think they know her. Cordelia is 76, in a future society where she can expect to live to 120.

“This, of course, has metaphorical import for our own times, with more people living longer. What should we do with ourselves? Is something genuinely new possible, that isn’t just a variant of things we were doing earlier in life?”

It will not spoil the book if I tell you the answer is that it depends on your perspective; which does indeed change with age.

Bujold, 66, remarks she was once part of a book club discussion of her fantasy novel, The Curse Of Chalion, with a group of junior high students, “where it gradually became apparent that the hero was far more alien to them by being an old man of 35 – practically like their parents! – than by being a demon-ridden medieval fantasy nobleman.”

(3) SPECIAL DEFECTS. From LiarTown USA

(4) SCHOLARSHIP ABOUT SPANISH SF. Science Fiction Studies, published three times per year by DePauw University, is looking for contributions to the monographic issue on Spanish SF, to be guest edited by Sara Martín and Fernando Ángel Moreno. (Via Europa SF.)

By ‘Spanish SF’ we mean SF novels and short fiction written specifically in Spain, excluding other Spanish-language areas.

Science Fiction Studies is particularly interested in articles dealing with writers Gabriel Bermúdez Castillo, Rafael Marín, Rodolfo Martínez or Javier Negrete and with SF women writers (excluding Elia Barceló).

All submissions must be in English and conform to SFS submission policies, which includes a rigorous peer-reviewing process.

Abstracts (150-200 words) are due by March 30, complete papers by 1 September (maximum 7000 words).

Please, email your proposals to Sara Martín : Sara[dot]Martin[at]uab[dot]cat

(5) NEW GAME IN TOWN. The “Storium” play-by-post forum has just gone live. A number of fairly-well-known writers and game companies have kicked in worlds, including File 770 regular Ursula Vernon, Seanan McGuire, Chuck Wendig, etc. Chris Meadows has details in “Storium storytelling game launches for public view” at Teleread.

The Kickstarter game worlds include quite a few intriguing settings, including some by fairly well-known authors or game companies. For example, the default universe for the HERO system “Champions” RPG is one of those worlds—so if you have some favorite old characters from a “Champions” setting, why not bring them back to life? Hugo-winning webcomic artist and author Ursula Vernon has a humorous setting called “Weird Fruit” (pictured above), and multiply-Hugo-nominated author Seanan McGuire has a setting called “Chambers of the Sea” in which merfolk take part in Atlantisian politics. Matt Forbeck has adapted his Monster Academy young-adult series into a Storium setting as well.

And that’s only scratching the surface. Well-known gaming or fiction writers such as Tobias Buckell, Robin D. Laws, N.K. Jemisin, J.C. Hutchins, Richard Dansky, Elizabeth Bear, Sam Sykes, Mur Lafferty, Kenneth Hite, Chuck Wendig, Stephen Blackmoore, Jordan Weisman, and Charles Stross have settings either ready or under preparation. Steve Jackson Games and Green Ronin Publications are also readying Storium worlds based on their “In Nomine” and “Mutants & Masterminds” RPG settings, respectively.

(6) YOUR TUMBLR DEEP THOUGHT OF THE DAY. From Weird Deer, this quote by Erin Bow:

“No writing is wasted. Did you know that sourdough from San Francisco is leavened partly by a bacteria called lactobacillus sanfrancisensis? It is native to the soil there, and does not do well elsewhere. But any kitchen can become an ecosystem. If you bake a lot, your kitchen will become a happy home to wild yeasts, and all your bread will taste better. Even a failed loaf is not wasted. Likewise, cheese makers wash the dairy floor with whey. Tomato gardeners compost with rotten tomatoes. No writing is wasted: the words you can’t put in your book can wash the floor, live in the soil, lurk around in the air. They will make the next words better.”

(7) HAPPY ANNIVERSARY. Max Florschutz launched his blog Unusual Things a year ago this week.

Views

So, where to start? How about with the number of views Unusual Things has landed in its first year of operation? A quick look at the site’s stats board and some simple addition says …

10,207 Views

Hey, you know what? That’s not bad. Not bad at all. Ten thousand views, while nothing to those with heavy advertising budgets and ten thousand fans, is pretty good for a one-year blog on writing, a subject not a lot of people care about.

Actually, let’s dig into that one a bit more. What’s been the post with the highest number of views, the one that’s caught the most attention?

I’m Not a Fan of Science-Fiction and Fantasy? from May 30th, 2015, with 741 views.

You might remember that post. That was the post where I reacted to a number of statements from the Insular crowd during last year’s Hugo insanity, statements that, well, in line with their given moniker of “Insulars,” was all about how certain “casual” fans needed to be kept out of the Hugos, suggesting that they weren’t “real” fans of Sci-Fi and Fantasy because they hadn’t passed some invisible, societal conscientious litmus test that made them a “real fan.”

(8) CHAINS OF LOVE. There’s everything else, so why wouldn’t there be books where “Science Fiction Romance Goes To Space Prison”? Victoria Scott tells you about several of them at Amazing Stories. Ann Aguirre’s Perdition, for example, gets this valedictory:

OK, I have to warn you that “bleak” is an understatement. This series has some of the darkest stuff I’ve ever read, much more to the horror side than I normally will go (I have nightmare issues, ok?) but I found the characters so fascinating, I was compelled to read on. I was rooting so hard for Dred and Jael to make it –  as a couple, out of Perdition, on to a Happily Ever After – that I was willing to stay with them through all the travails. The grim world of Perdition is well drawn and comprehensively thought out, and learning the many details of the worldbuilding backstory was another good reason to continue reading.

(9) NOT PLAN 8 OR PLAN 10. Before he can discuss Plan 9 From Outer Space, Jay McDowell needs to explain what a Bad Movie is:

A real, honest to goodness, grade Z modern Bad Movie is a movie where the creator, be it due to A) technical ineptitude (Manos: The Hands of Fate); B) budget limitations (pretty much anything cranked out by Roger Corman and/or AIP [American International Pictures]); or C) the creator’s overinflated sense of self (vanity projects like Battlefield Earth, Star Trek V, and Glitter), failed spectacularly and inadvertently, made a movie that has become endearing to the viewer. Simple, run-of-the-mill bad movies are, usually, movies that are just bad and not in a fun way; they’re sub-par or heavy handed with their message or, perhaps worst of all, purposely trying to be a true Bad Movie.

(10) WILL SHE PREORDER? My daughter has mentioned several times how excited she is that the eighth Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Pts. I & II, is on the way. Will I ever get a clue that I’m supposed to buy it for her? 🙂

Directly following the play’s premiere in London, a play script will be released in both print and digital finally, finallyFINALLY giving readers the story of Harry’s life 19 years after he defeated the Dark Lord.

The book will be published by Little Brown Book Company on July 31, 2016, marking Harry’s 36th birthday.

(11) BAEN NEWS. Baen publisher Toni Weisskopf sent readers a message: they’re going to synchronize the release dates of ebooks and paper books.

From the publication month of April 2016 onward, the release dates will be the same (that is, the ebooks will not be available two weeks earlier than the paper books).

We will not be changing the time the Monthly Bundles are initially offered for sale, we will continue to offer eARCs as usual, and all other policies regarding ebook bundles will remain in place. We will not be making the period you can buy Monthly Bundles shorter, but longer.

The April 2016 bundle contains the ebooks that will be available in print on April 5th. The final versions of these ebooks would have been scheduled to go live as ebooks on all retail venues on March 16, 2015, and will now be available in their entirety April 5, 2016. At that point, the Monthly Bundle will become unavailable for sale.

We will continue to publish two newsletters per month to help you keep track of our offerings, one highlighting the print books which will come out two weeks in advance of the release date, the other highlighting ebook and website offerings on (or very close to) the release date itself.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born March 3, 1920 – James “Scotty” Doohan

(13) KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY. Rod Roddenberry is executive producing CBS’ new Star Trek series.

Roddenberry Entertainment President Rod Roddenberry and Chief Operating Officer Trevor Roth are serving as executive producers on the new Star Trek television series.

Other executive producers include Alex Kurtzman, Heather Kadin and Bryan Fuller, who was previously announced as showrunner.

(14) AT LSE. Literary Festival 2016 at the London School of Economics featured a number of discussions about sf/f-related topics.

There’s a podcast of “To Boldly Go: what Star Trek tells us about the world”, with participants Michèle Barrett, Professor of Modern Literary and Cultural Theory at Queen Mary University, London and author, Duncan Barrett, a best-selling author, Barry Buzan, Emeritus Professor of International Relations at the LSE, Steven French, Professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of Leeds, and Bryan Roberts, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method at LSE.

And tweets about several other items have been collected at Storify.

(15) SCOTT KELLY RETURNS FROM THE ISS.

Astronaut Scott Kelly arrived in Houston early this morning where he was reunited with his family after a whirlwind year-long mission in space.

Waiting for Kelly, 52, in Houston were his two daughters and girlfriend, along with his identical twin brother, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, and his sister-in-law, former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

After living for nearly a year aboard the International Space Station, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is two inches taller than his identical twin brother Mark.

One of the main goals of his groundbreaking mission is to study how well humans can endure — mind, body and spirit — on a long-duration spaceflight.

From his perch 400 kilometers (249 miles) above the earth’s surface, Kelly snapped hundreds of beautifully abstract photographs of our planet’s landforms and waterways. He spotted hurricanes ominously swirling on sapphire-blue oceans. He gazed out at the aurora’s glittering fog. He consistently turned Earth’s lands and waters into an abstract artist’s dream, with shots of beaches, deserts, forests, and everything in between.

(16) GHOSTBUSTERS TRAILER BONUS. Russ discovered this website was apparently hidden in the trailer… http://www.paranormalstudieslab.com/#/

(17) THAT’S BAT-MA’AM, TO YOU. In 1974 Yvonne Craig gave an equal pay pitch to a captive audience…

Will Batgirl save Batman and Robin from the bomb? Or will she stand for her rights and get the same pay as a man? If they say no to equal pay…bombs away! 1974 Public Service Announcement by the U.S. Department of Labor–Wage & Hour Division.

 

[Thanks to Will R., John King Tarpinian, Steven French, JJ, Robotech_master, and robinareid for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Iphinome.]

Pixel Scroll 11/16 Time Enough For Hedgehogs

(1) The UCLA Library’s Special Collections include the Gene Roddenberry Star Trek collection and the Robert Justman Papers.

A year ago the Special Collections’ blog posted Justman’s memo to Roddenberry about some wigs and hairpieces that had gone missing. The Captain of the Starship Enterprise was the prime suspect.

Back in the day Shatner’s denials about wearing a toupee were news, but people long ago quit keeping his secret.

That anger spilled out in 1967 when the prestigious Life magazine sent a photographer to the Star Trek set – not to profile Shatner but Nimoy, who was being photographed having his pointy Vulcan ears put on in the make-up room.

James Doohan recalled in his memoir: “Bill’s hairpiece was being applied. The top of his head was a lot of skin and a few odd tufts of hair. The mirrors on the make-up room walls were arranged so that we could all see the laying on of his rug.”

Shatner suddenly exploded angrily from his seat and ordered the photographer to leave. George Takei, aged 70, who played Sulu, recalls: “Leonard was livid. He refused to have his make-up completed until the photographer was allowed back.”

(2) In celebration of Star Trek’s 50th anniversary in 2016, publisher Simon & Schuster is bringing back the popular fan fiction writing contest, Strange New Worlds.

Ten winning selections will be published as part of an all-new official anthology, coming from Simon & Schuster in 2016.

Plus, two first prize winners will receive a free, self-publishing package from Archway Publishing!

Register for the contest here.

(3) “CBS Pulls ‘Supergirl’ Episode Due To Similarities To Paris Attack” reports ScienceFiction.com.

Out of respect for the events that happened in Paris last Friday, CBS has decided to delay the episode of ‘Supergirl’ set to air tonight, titled ‘How Does She Do It?’ Apparently the episode revolved around Supergirl dealing with a series of bombings around National City, which the network felt might be a little to similar to the tragic events that struck Paris. With all of the heartbreak and discord currently enveloping that poor city, it makes perfect sense why the network would delay the episode, especially when shows like ‘Supergirl’ should serve as an escape for people from the real world, not a twisted reflection of current tragedies.

(4) “J.K. Rowling Said THIS Is Her Favorite Harry Potter Theory” – the theoretical tweets are posted on PopSugar.

The first Harry Potter book came out 18 years ago, but not a day goes by where new theories and plot coincidences don’t shock us all (and make us want to reread the entire series). J.K. Rowling keeps up with them too and she recently answered a fan’s question about which is her favorite.

(5) This year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special will be shown in North American cinemas on December 28 and 29. Get tickets through Fathom Events

The Doctor is back on the big screen this holiday season for a special two-night event featuring an exclusive interview with Alex Kingston and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the special featuring Peter Capaldi, Stephen Moffat and more….

It’s Christmas in the future and the TARDIS is parked on a snowy village street, covered in icicles, awaiting its next adventure. Time traveler River Song meets her husband’s new incarnation, in the form of Peter Capaldi, for the first time! Don’t miss this unique opportunity to celebrate the holidays with fellow Whovians in cinemas this December.

 

(6) It seems you can’t guarantee a win by betting on Albert Einstein after all. IFL Science brings word that an “Experiment Proves Einstein Wrong”.

Scientists at the National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST) have proven beyond reasonable doubt that Einstein was wrong about one of the main principles of quantum mechanics and that “spooky action at a distance” is actually real.

We are now certain that entanglement, the ability of particles to affect each other regardless of distance, exists and that it’s an intrinsic property of the universe. When a pair or a group of particles are entangled, they cannot be described independently from each other. Measuring a particular property, like velocity, of a single particle affects all the other entangled particles.

Einstein and many other scientists believed that this phenomenon was paradoxical, as it would allow for information to be exchanged instantaneously across vast distances. He dubbed it “spooky action at a distance” and he believed that there was a way to reproduce this phenomenon with classical physics. He claimed that there were hidden variables – quantities that we didn’t or couldn’t know – that would make quantum mechanics perfectly predictable.

(7) Mark Lawrence seeks feedback on what really creates a sense of diversity in fiction.

JK Rowling told the world after the event that Dumbledore is gay. There was no need to mention it in the books – it didn’t come up. So … after reading seven books with gay Dumbledore and no mention of it … do gay people feel represented?

If Tolkien rose from the grave for 60 seconds to mention that, by the way, Gandalf is black … would that be delivering diversity?

Or does diversity mean seeing black people’s experience (in itself a vastly diverse thing) represented in fantasy – and the fantasy world needs real-world racism imported so the reader sees that particular aspect of black people’s experience?

In my trilogy, The Red Queen’s War, the main character is of mixed race. It’s not mentioned very often – though he does meet someone in the frozen north who mocks and intimidates him over his ‘dirty’ skin. In the trilogy I’m writing at the moment, Red Sister, the world is reduced to an equatorial corridor hemmed in by advancing ice. All races are mixed and have been for thousands of years. There are many skin tones and it’s of no more note or interest than hair and eye colour. Does a person of colour reading that feel represented – or does the failure to connect with the prejudice of the real world mean that they don’t feel represented?

I don’t know. I’m asking.

I’m not writing these books to promote diversity or represent anyone – the worlds and characters are just the way they are – just how the pieces of my imagination and logic meshed together on these particular occasions. But the question interests me.

(8) Congratulations to Jonathan Edelstein on his first professional story publication, “First Do No Harm”, at Strange Horizons.

For twenty-seven thousand years—through kingdoms and republics, through prophets and messiahs, through decay and collapse and rebirth—the city and the medical school had grown around each other. The campus stretched across districts and neighborhoods, spanning parks and rivers, but few buildings belonged to it alone: an operating theater might once have been a workshop, a classroom a factory floor. The basement room where Mutende sat in a circle of his fellow basambilila was an ancient one and had been many things: office, boiler room, refrigerator, storage for diagnostic equipment. Remnants of all its uses were in the walls, the fixtures, and most of all, in memory….

(9) At The 48th Sitges – International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia, The Invitation, directed by Karyn Kusama, picked up the Award for Best Feature Film in the Sitges 2015 Official Fantàstic Selection. The winners of the festival’s other awards can be found here.

(10) MousePlanet has the details about what’s going on with Star Wars at Disneyland – a long article with lots of photos —  but SPOILER WARNING.

If you don’t want to know anything about Star Wars – The Force Awakens before you see it in the theater, you should probably skip this update too. Before you go, heed this warning: If you wish to remain spoiler-free until December 18th, don’t go into the Star Wars Launch Bay, don’t see the Path of the Jedi feature in the Tomorrowland Theater, and don’t ride Star Tours. Hyperspace Mountain is spoiler-free, and a complete blast – you can enjoy that worry free, and see the rest of the additions in a month….

Star Wars Launch Bay

The lower level of the former Innoventions building – now officially known as the Tomorrowland Expo Center – is now the Star Wars Launch Bay. From the moment you step inside, you enter a spoiler-filled space packed with artwork, props and merchandise from across the Star Wars saga, including from the upcoming movie Star Wars – The Force Awakens. The Launch Bay is divided into six sections, with some smaller areas around the outer ring of the building.

Entrance and Gallery

The largest portion of the Launch Bay is devoted to case after case of props and replicas from the Star Wars Saga, including previews of people, places and things from Star Wars – The Force Awakens. Again, if you’re trying to avoid spoilers, you have no business in this exhibit.

The Light Side (Chewbacca meet-and-greet)

Enter a rebel hideout, and come face-to-face with the best co-pilot in the galaxy. To occupy you while you wait in what could be a very long line, the queue is filled with props from the Light Side, including lightsabers and helmets.

The Dark Side (Darth Vader meet-and-greet)

Like the Light Side, the queue for the Darth Vader meet-and-greet is filled with Sith props. Lord Vader isn’t much one for conversation, but he does have some prepared remarks for your encounter on the deck of a Star Destroyer. Disney PhotoPass photographers are on hand to document your meeting.

 

Star Wars Landing Bay carpet.

Star Wars Landing Bay carpet.

(11) Norbert Schürer discusses “Tolkien Criticism Today” in LA Review of Books. It takes awhile, but he finally finds something good to say.

It is perhaps no wonder, then, that the field of Tolkien studies is in a sad state. This is not to say that there aren’t excellent critics (such as Tom Shippey, Verlyn Flieger, and Jane Chance) and outstanding scholarly venues (particularly the venerable journal Mythlore and the more recent annual Tolkien Studies). However, judging by seven recent works of Tolkien scholarship, there are various challenges in the field. Much criticism features weak, underdeveloped arguments or poor writing, and the field is overrun by niche publishers who seem to have little quality control…..

With the Companion to J.R.R. Tolkien and Tolkien: The Forest and the City (in parts), the future of Tolkien studies is perhaps not entirely bleak. The Companion in particular is a volume from a well-established publisher, which actually gives Tolkien academic cachet by including him in their Companion series. The essays in this volume and in Tolkien: The Forest and the City make well-developed, well-written, comprehensive, and compelling arguments. Thus, these books show the two requirements for good Tolkien criticism. For one, he should be treated like any other author in being discussed in seriously peer-reviewed journals and established academic presses rather than in essay collections and niche publications. Just as importantly, Tolkien should not be treated with kid gloves because he is a fan favorite with legions to be placated, but as the serious and major author he is.

(12) Jennifer M. Wood discusses “11 Famous Books That Have Proven Impossible to Film” at Mental Floss.

6. UBIK

Believe it or not, there is a Philip K. Dick novel that has yet to be made into a movie. Which isn’t to say that an adaptation of this 1969 sci-fi tale of telepathy and moon colonization (set in the then-futuristic year of 1992) hasn’t been tried. As early as 1974, filmmaker Jean-Pierre Gorin commissioned Dick to adapt his own work for filming. Dick finished the script in less than a month; though it was never produced, it was published in 1985 as Ubik: The Screenplay. In 2006, A Scanner Darkly producer Tommy Pallotta announced that he was readying the film for production. In 2011, it was Michel Gondry who was confirmed to be at the helm … until earlier this year, when Gondry told The Playlist that he was no longer working on it.

(13) Farnam Street Blog’s “Accidents Will Happen” is an excerpt from Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, by Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation, 2001), about the management of America’s nuclear arsenal.

command and control cover

A B-47 bomber was taxiing down the runway at a SAC base in Sidi Slimane, Morocco, on January 31, 1958. The plane was on ground alert, practicing runway maneuvers, cocked but forbidden to take off. It carried a single Mark 36 bomb. To make the drill feel as realistic as possible, a nuclear core had been placed in the bomb’s in-flight insertion mechanism. When the B-47 reached a speed of about 20 miles an hour, one of the rear tires blew out. A fire started in the wheel well and quickly spread to the fuselage. The crew escaped without injury, but the plane split in two, completely engulfed in flames. Firefighters sprayed the burning wreckage for 10 minutes—long past the time factor of the Mark 36—then withdrew. The flames reached the bomb, and the commanding general at Sidi Slimane ordered that the base be evacuated immediately. Cars full of airmen and their families sped into the Moroccan desert, fearing a nuclear disaster.

The fire lasted for two and a half hours. The high explosives in the Mark 36 burned but didn’t detonate. According to an accident report, the hydrogen bomb and parts of the B-47 bomber melted into “a slab of slag material weighing approximately 8,000 pounds, approximately 6 to 8 feet wide and 12 to 15 feet in length with a thickness of 10 to 12 inches.” A jackhammer was used to break the slag into smaller pieces. The “particularly ‘hot’ pieces” were sealed in cans, and the rest of the radioactive slag was buried next to the runway. Sidi Slimane lacked the proper equipment to measure levels of contamination, and a number of airmen got plutonium dust on their shoes, spreading it not just to their car but also to another air base.

(14) Tomorrow you can download Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Stories Inspired by Microsoft

— an anthology of short stories written by some of today’s greatest science fiction authors. These visionary stories explore prediction science, quantum computing, real-time translation, machine learning, and much more. The contributing authors were inspired by inside access to leading-edge work, including in-person visits to Microsoft’s research labs, to craft new works that predict the near-future of technology and examine its complex relationship to our core humanity.

AUTHOR ROLL CALL

Elizabeth Bear · Greg Bear · David Brin · Nancy Kress · Ann Leckie · Jack McDevitt · Seanan McGuire · Robert J. Sawyer The collection also includes a short graphic novel by Blue Delliquanti and Michele Rosenthal, and original illustrations by Joey Camacho.

 

future_visions_sitg_th

(15) Abigail Nussbaum has “Five Comments on Hamilton”.

If you’re like me, you probably spent some portion of the last six months watching your online acquaintance slowly become consumed with (or by) something called Hamilton.  And then when you looked it up it turned to be a musical playing halfway around the world that you will probably never see.  But something strange and surprising is happening around Hamilton–a race-swapped, hip-hop musical about the short life and dramatic death of Alexander Hamilton, revolutionary soldier, founding father of the United States, co-author of The Federalist Papers, and creator of the US financial system.  Unusually for a work of pop culture that is only available to a small, even select group of people, Hamilton is becoming a fannish phenomenon, inspiring fanfic and fanart and, mostly, a hell of a lot of enthusiasm….

(16) Local Three Stooges fans will convene November 28 at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. The 18th Annual Alex Film Society The Three Stooges Big Screen Event “showcases six classic Stooges shorts featuring Moe, Larry, Curly and Shemp preparing, throwing and wearing food. Will high society matrons be hit in the face with cream pies? Soitenly!”

On the bill of fare — A Pain In The Pullman (1936, Preston Black), Healthy, Wealthy and Dumb (1938, Del Lord), Idiots Deluxe (1945, Jules White), Crash Goes The Hash (1944, Jules White), Sing A Song Of Six Pants (1947, Jules White), Dutiful But Dumb (1941, Del Lord).

(17) SF Site News announced this year’s ISFiC Writer’s Contest winner:

M. Aruguete won the ISFiC Writer’s Contest with her story “Catamount.” The contest is sponsored by ISFiC in conjunction with Windycon. Aruguete won a membership at Windycon, room nights, and $300. Her story was published in the con program book. This year’s contest was judged by Richard Chwedyk, Roland Green, and Elizabeth Anne Hull.

(18) Jeff Somers, in a guest post for SF Signal, argues that his stories with psionics should stay on the sf shelf at the bookstore.

As the TV Tropes page on psychic powers says, “Telepathy, clairvoyance, pyrokinesis—the powers are supernatural, but the names are scientific, which is good enough for soft Sci-Fi.” This sort of disdain is the top layer of a debate that’s been raging for decades about whether or not a story can have psychic powers and still be considered Science Fiction as opposed to Fantasy. The argument is simple: There is absolutely no evidence that supports psychic powers of any kind being possible, and without at least the real-world scientific possibility, they’re essentially magic powers. Which makes your story a Fantasy, thanks for playing, you might as well shove a bearded wizard in there and start reading Wikipedia articles about broadswords.

Anyway, I started thinking about all this recently because I’ve been writing and publishing digital-only short stories set in the Avery Cates universe, and in that universe (from the very beginning) there are psionic (er, psychic) powers…

(19) Mindy Klasky points out the varied uses of feedback, in “C is for Critique” at Book  View Café.

Critique partners offer authors valuable insight into what works and what does not work in a book. Sometimes, that criticism is directly on point—the mere statement of the problem is enough to help an author see what needs to be fixed. Other times, an author concludes that a critic is mistaken—she doesn’t understand the book, or she isn’t familiar with a particular sub-genre, or she was having a bad day as she wrote her criticism. Even in those cases, the rational writer considers the criticism as a warning that the reader was pulled off track at that particular point. Often, a critic finds fault with a particular aspect of a book (e.g., “your heroine sounds whiny when she talks to her best friend”) but an author discovers a completely different fix (e.g., the heroine shouldn’t be talking to her best friend in that scene; instead, she should be taking steps to solve her problem more directly.) Critics aren’t omniscient, but they can be good barometers of when a story succeeds.

(20) Kameron Hurley says this is “Why You Should Be Watching The Man in The High Castle:

I’m not sure when I realized that this wasn’t a story about the Nazis and Japanese Empire laying waste to the happy United States we have in our happy memories. I think it was when the Japanese Empire raids a Jewish man’s house, seemingly for no reason, and I realized it looked a lot like a swatting raid, or a raid on some innocent brown man with an Arab-sounding name, or the FBI raid on an innocent professor accused of sending sensitive material to the Chinese. And in that moment I realized the entire world I’d been presented thus in the show far wasn’t so much different from the United States in 2015, and that in fact the show was very much aware of that. If you’re brown, or black, or Muslim, or have a non-white sounding name, or you look at a TSA agent funny, or say something about supporting terrorism online (threatening to murder a woman is still OK! But I digress), get ready to get raided, detained, tortured, thrown into prison, or disappeared. I thought about our creepy no-fly lists, about police throwing students to the floor in classrooms, about minor traffic violations that end with somebody strangling you to death in prison and pretending you totally hung yourself with a plastic bag. I thought of this whole world we’ve built, post-World War II, and realized this show wasn’t saying, “Wouldn’t things be so different?” but instead, “Are things really as different as we think?”

(21) Move and groove like everyone’s favorite kaiju with Logemas Godzilla Simulator.

There’s something big coming this way… Logemas’ latest Motion Capture and VR demo!

We’re tracking 7 objects, hands, feet, hips, chest and an Oculus DK2 with Vicon Bonita cameras and streaming into the Unreal game engine for some mayhem!

Of course, we all want to know where they attach the tail-motion-generator.

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

The SpaceX Files

NASA has awarded a big contract to resupply the space station to a private company, SpaceX, started by PayPal co-founder by Elon Musk in 2002.

A successful launch of the company’s Falcon 9 rocket on June 4 was the first of three test flights for NASA. Supply missions could begin in 2011. The contract calls for a dozen flights and gives NASA an option to order more.

SpaceX executives have many reasons to be happy about the latest development. Not the least is the hope it brings that their Falcon rocket will become memorable for something besides the failed attempt to orbit the remains of astronaut Gordon Cooper and actor James Doohan, something  Taral Wayne still hasn’t gotten over:

It’s really kind of sad, considering how Scotty was last seen in ST:TNG, preserved in a transporter loop for decades, and then free to roam the galaxy again. In reality the poor dimp falls back to earth and ends up as just another whiff of smog.

[Thanks to Taral for the story.]

Back from the Drawing Board

SpaceX has finally chalked up a success with its Falcon 1 launch vehicle. The company announced that on September 28 it launched a Falcon 1 from Kwajalein Atoll, carrying into orbit a payload mass simulator of approximately 364 lbs. Consisting of a hexagonal aluminum alloy chamber 1.5 meters (5 feet) tall, the payload remains attached to the second stage as it orbits Earth.

There had been several previous failures. Last time the first and second stages bumped into one another after separation, resulting in the loss of three government satellites and human ashes including the remains of Scotty and Gordo.

Scotty and Gordo Only Get
Halfway to Heaven

The Explorers Flight mission carrying the ashes of Star Trek actor James Doohan, along with those of astronaut Gordon Cooper and 206 others who paid to have their remains shot into space, failed to reach orbit after launch on August 2.

According to the mission summary, after the main engine shut down and when the first and second stages should have separated, a small amount of unanticipated pressure released in the engine chamber caused the two stages to bump together. (The Washington Post, brushing away the jargon, blames a fuel leak.) As a result, all was lost.

Fans had waited several years for the fulfillment of Doohan’s wish to have his ashes orbited. His ashes would have joined those of Gene Roddenberry, Timothy Leary and Eugene Shoemaker, already successfully launched into space.

[Via Chaos Manor.]