Pixel Scroll 5/12/16 The Pixels Scrolls Don’t See

(1) THE SICHUAN CHICKEN EMERGENCY. Last year’s Hugo-winning novelist has received a new honor — “Dinosaur relics named after science fiction writer Liu Cixin”.

A new kind of bird-footed dinosaur footprint was discovered in Gulin county, Southwest China’s Sichuan province and named for Chinese science-fiction writer Liu Cixin, to honor his contribution to raising public interest in science.

Liu, who was thrilled to hear the news, said that he has great interest in paleontology.

“It is like a science fiction we’re reading that the dinosaur in Gulin county was preserved so well for billions of years. It helps us travel back in time. I hope the relics could be studied and preserved well.”

(2) SUPERGIRL ADDS W, LEAVES BS BEHIND. Variety makes it official — “’Supergirl’ Lands at the CW for Season 2”.

After nearly two years of rumors, “Supergirl” is heading to the CW for its second season, Variety has learned….

At CBS, “Supergirl” averaged a 2.5 rating in adults 18-49 and 10.03 million viewers overall in Nielsen’s “live plus-7” estimates. It was CBS’ top-rated rookie drama this season in the demo, and was also its youngest-skewing drama with a median age of 55.6 — however, it was down from comedies in the Monday night timeslot last year.

The hotly anticipated crossover with “The Flash” on March 28 was a ratings hit for the CW, prompting the rumors to begin swirling once again that “Supergirl” would head over to the younger-skewing network, in order to nab a renewal. That episode, co-starring “Flash’s” Grant Gustin, averaged a 2.5 rating in 18-49 and 9.6 million total viewers in L+7 — the show’s best numbers in the second half of its run.

(3) KRYPTON. Vulture says Supergirl’s home planet is also going to be on the tube: “Syfy Orders Pilot for Krypton, a Show About Superman’s Grandpa Who Lives on a Planet That Definitely Isn’t Going to Explode Any Time Soon”.

And you thought Batman was the only DC Comics superhero who would get a TV show about what everyone around him was doing before he became interesting: THR reports that SyFy has ordered a pilot for Krypton, a Superman prequel from David S. Goyer set on the eponymous doomed planet. The series will follow Superman’s grandpa as he “fights to redeem his family’s honor and save his beloved world from chaos,” which is one task at which he is guaranteed to fail (because the world will blow up) and another that is a bit of a moot point (because, again, the world will blow up).

(4) GEMMELL VOTING STARTS TOMORROW. Voting on the longlists for 2016’s David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy (the Legend, Morningstar, and Ravenheart Awards) opens midday on Friday, May 13 and closes at midnight on Friday June 24.

The award’s Facebook page revealed there will be 48 nominations for the Legend Award, 6 for the Morningstar and 39 for the Ravenheart.

Voting on the shortlist opens at midday on Friday July 8 and closes at midnight on Friday August 19.

The presentation takes place at 8pm on Saturday September 24 at Fantasycon in Scarborough.

(5) MIND MELD. SFFWorld threw a lifeline to Rob B, whose Mind Meld installment needed a home after SF Signal went offline. The participants are N. E. White, Jonah Sutton-Morse, Yanni Kuznia, and Summer Brooks.

“MIND MELD: Recent SF/F/H You’ve Read & Enjoyed About Which You Knew Little”

Q: What recent SF/F/H books have you read and enjoyed which you knew little to nothing about beforehand? (For example, you go into a bookstore and picked a book off the shelf based on title and/or cover alone.)

(6) NEW YORK NEW YORK NEW YORK. Pornokitsch compares and contrasts in “Will Eisner and Three Visions of New York”.

Both Eisner and Fantasia 2000 also recognise this aspect of the city: it can grind people down, even to the point of death. Using the darkness of the city in this way all three of these representations show the city itself to be an active force working on their various protagonists. Dark Dark Dark focus more on the elemental aspects of the city while Eisner examines the interaction of the people and their home, but both are aware of the inherent magic of the place. Dark Dark Dark present in their enigmatic lyrics and the swirling otherworldliness of their instrumentals what Eisner recognised in his introduction to ‘The Building’, there is something “unexplained and […] magical” about the city which can affect those that live in it.

(7) NEW DESTINATION. Variety’s article “Winchester Mystery House Movie Attracts Spierig Brothers” discusses the next project by the Spierig Brothers, Winchester, about the famous San Jose, CA haunted house.

Keith Kato writes, “Michael and Peter Spierig, the Spierig Brothers, are favorites of (and members of) The Heinlein Society for their most recent film, Predestination (2014 U.S. release), based on the Robert A. Heinlein short story ‘All You Zombies.’ We have been told by the Brothers that they will be out of the country from July-September, presumably for filming commitments for this project and they regret they will not be able to attend the Kansas City Worldcon.”

(8) FURNITURE. I don’t think we’ll be able to order a park bench from them, though it’s nice to know Sancal’s Futura collection is based on 1960s sci-fi space stations.

Dezeen promotion: Spanish brand Sancal has launched a “retro-futuristic” collection of furniture, featuring tables, chairs and ornaments that reference 1960s science fiction films (+ movie).

The Futura collection, which was exhibited by Sancal during this year’s Milan design week, is modelled on the set designs of movies such as the 1968 epic 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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(9) NEW AWARDS? Bleeding Cool passed on this rumor about the San Diego Comic-Con.

The word on the street is that we are about to get a brand-new, very well-funded awards show for San Diego Comic Con.

I understand that high level talks are taking place between Jennifer O’Connell, Executive VP of Alternative Programming, Seth Lederman, Executive VP General Manager of the new streaming channel Comic-Con HQ and David Glanzer, Chief Communications and Strategy Officer of Comic-Con International, the people behind San Diego Comic Con.

While the existing Eisner Awards cover the comic book industry, and have been the premier awards at San Diego for some time, this new award show is planned to cover comics, TV, film, games and all manner of fan and genre culture. So expect very big names on hand to host and present awards…..

Lionsgate is said to be interested in producing the show.

(10) YESTERDAY IN HISTORY. Can it be May 11th was National Twilight Zone Day….? And I missed it?

Well…! Then I guess that makes it appropriate to feature a “lost episode”…

(11) STARFLEET TRAINING. “’Star Trek: The Starfleet Academy Experience’ is coming to the USS Intrepid this summer”. MeTV has the story.

The museum exhibit will allow fans to study Starfleet culture as part of “Starfleet Academy’s Career Day.”

Beginning July 9, those lucky enough to get to New York City can visit Star Trek: The Starfleet Academy Experience. The museum exhibit is opening aboard the USS Intrepid, which sits on Pier 86 along the Hudson River on the west side of Manhattan. A naval museum might seem like a strange location for a Star Trek exhibit, but what is Star Trek if not a space navy? Besides, NASA’s Space Shuttle Enterprise is on display at the Intrepid Museum.

The Intrepid Museum will be the first venue in the United States to host this immersive “Trek Tech” experience, a sort of quick fantasy camp. The exhibit allows visitors to join Starfleet Academy’s Career Day, which includes orientation and nine zones of study in language, medicine, engineering, navigation, command and science. Tickets cost $18–$35. The exhibit runs through October 31, 2016. (That final day will be a cosplay dream.)

Visit the Intrepid website for more information.

(12) MEMORIES. Here’s a Lou Stathis artifact I never heard of before.

The cover image comes from here.

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born May 12, 1937 — George Carlin (comedian; first to host Saturday Night Live)
  • Born May 12 – Heather Rose Jones
  • Born May 12 – David Doering

(15) WILL FANAC FOR CHARITY. Jim C. Hines is back with another example of “SF/F Being Awesome: Lar DeSouza and Sailor Bacon”.

If my math is right, Lar [DeSouza] and his fans have raised around $40,000 in total to fight MS.

There’s even a new Sailor Bacon plush, with a portion of the proceeds going to MS research.

Fighting MS by con light,
Winning breakfast by daylight,
Rainbow beard that is so bright!
It is the one named Sailor Bacon!

The MS Walk was May 1 this year, but it looks like you can still donate.

(16) END OF DISNEY DOLLARS. Paleofuture at Gizmodo mourns that gift cards have killed Disney Dollars.

When I was a kid I loved Disney Dollars. For those unfamiliar, they’re Disney’s paper notes that look like real money and feature cartoon characters such as Mickey Mouse and Dumbo on the front. They’re only good at Disney Parks and stores, making them essentially like gift certificates. But Disney will stop printing Disney Dollars on May 14, 2016.

It’s truly the end of an era for Disney nerds. As reported by WDW News Today, the move is being blamed on the rise of gift cards and the general death of paper money. Disney staff were told just a couple of hours ago but the company has yet to make an official statement.

Disney Dollars will continue to be accepted at Disney locations, since they have no expiration date. But unless you have hundreds of notes to unload you should probably just hold on to them for a bit. The resale market for even once-common Disney products can be pretty lucrative after a few years.

John King Tarpinian recalls, “A long time ago when friends would have a kid or a grandkid I would buy one share of Disney stock. (Usually with a $25 premium over the stock price.) The certificates were beautifully framed, not to mention that with even one share it would get an invite to corporate events. Then Disney went electronic and that was gone. Now Disney Dollars. Gift cards are just not the same.”

(17) CAP’S PSA. Jim Burns says, “With all this Captain America chat (my all time favorite super hero, by the way!), a truly rare piece of film: a public service announcement, circa 1980 (or thereabouts)!”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Keith Kato, Will R., Tom Galloway, Andrew Porter, and James H. Burns for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Doctor Science.]

Stoop Lore

Tiempo04James H. Burns: Call this one, a bit of life insurance, of the man-made kind (but, as always, divine intervention is welcome)!

One night, about thirty years ago, I had to worry that someone had requested a hit be placed on me.

My girlfriend’s mother was furious, rightly or wrongly, and threatened my life.

…Which might not have been such a big deal, in the larger view, or necessarily unusual as such relationships go, except that one of her former boyfriends was what we used to call, anyway, kind of “mobbed up.”

(Years later, my girlfriend and I deduced that he may have been associated with the Queens, New York crew shown in the Nicholas Pillegi book, Wiseguy, and its film adaptation, Goodfellas.)

I was in my early twenties, and turned to my father for counsel, at first insuring that he wouldn’t tell my mother:

There was absolutely no need to worry her.  (Besides, she was the one with the vicious temper in the family, and there was no telling what she would do.)

My Dad, a mechanical engineering professor, was a tough guy, as the occasion merited, and a decorated World War II veteran.  He had also been misled by too many Godfather movies, and other Mario Puzo tales.  (We shared an affection, by the way, for Puzo’s too-long overlooked ability, as a potentially wonderful storyteller.)

My father thought that a hit had to be warranted.  But the ’80s were dangerous times in New York, with, as history has shown, some semi-connected guys just running out of control.

(Then, as now, the greatest hazard could come from “wannabes,” fellas with no particular affiliation at all, but who wanted to be perceived as such.)

It was entirely possible that for no other reason than as a favor to an old girlfriend, or in the hopes of wanting to impress an old flame, a guy could try to take someone out, or at least have someone else beat the hell out of him.

I handled it simply by sitting on my front stoop (the steps in front of my family home).

I figured, if someone was indeed after me — as unlikely as that may seem in the cold light of years — to make it easy; to bring it to a head, and see what happened…

As it turned out, I learned decades later, my girlfriend had promised her mom her own wrath, should anything untoward befall me.

Women are often our better tigers.

But I was on the stoop again, the other night; a different house, to be sure, but under similar circumstances.

A local restaurant was convinced I was behind a controversy that they were having, which was beyond ridiculous.  A relative of the owner’s warned me, oddly, through my landlord.  (Why not just call me?)

Some text messages, hopefully, quickly worked everything out.

But before then?

I brought my coffee outside, and made it easy for anyone who might be looking… I then walked one of my familiar routes through town.

(My neighborhood remains one of the few Long Island areas still harboring a bit of a reputation, rightly or wrongly, as a “Mafia” town.)

Our demise, of course, is always somewhere in the times ahead, but we can hope that it’s never over a misunderstanding.

If you know you’ve doing nothing wrong, you might as well grab a shave, and take a stroll.

Night’s actual dark angels should, hopefully, hold no clouds as to your designs.

Dave Cockrum, and a Secret Storm

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Introduction: One of Star Trek’s earliest journalist/historians, chronicler of many epics, and a frequent File 770 contributor, recalls an encounter with fantasy legend, Dave Cockrum.

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Dave Cockrum

By James H. Burns: The late Dave Cockrum was a comics virtuoso, contributing to such classic titles as Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and The Avengers. He also created his own series, both science fiction adventures, The Futurians, and Soulsearchers and Company.

The artist’s greatest legacy may have been developing The New X-Men, in 1975, with Len Wein.  Revising the super hero team that had been originated by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Cockrum and Wein devised such characters as Storm, Nightcrawler and Colussus.

Dave also loved Star Trek.

An admiration, in fact, that may have had a greater influence on the world of (billion dollar) pop culture, than has been previously realized…

In February of 1976, Dave saw me at one of the original, classic Star Trek conventions, at New York’s fabled Commodore Hotel. He must have seen me hanging out with one of the show’s actors, because Dave — whom I had met only briefly, at a previous comics con — asked me if it would be possible for me to get a painting he had done, to Nichelle Nichols.

(Now, just for the sake of my own ridiculous ego, I have to point out that back then, I was only an early teen. I had begun writing professionally, not long before that, and more to the point — and a lot of confusion for folks, over the years — I looked like I was in my mid-twenties…)

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Dave was far more famous already than almost anyone who was on that hospitality suite floor of the hotel. I pointed out to him that I’d be glad to help, but since I didn’t really know Nichelle (at that point), all he’d really have to do was introduce himself to one of the folks running the convention, whom, I was sure, would be happy to introduce him, to the actress.

My memory’s foggy here, but I think I brought Dave over to one of the convention organizers….

Crystal clear to me, even then, though, was what struck me as the remarkable modesty of this fellow, who didn’t seem to begin to have an inkling that the folks running the convention would be thrilled that he was actually there, attending the event.

And I was also touched that this established professional loved something so much, that, really, just for the joy of creating it, he had taken the time to paint a huge, lovely canvas, of Star Trek’s only continuing female lead.

What’s also fascinating to consider is that when Cockrum, and Len Wein, relaunched the X-Men, many of the new lineup came from characters that Dave had been sketching/noodling with, for years…

If Cockrum loved Star Trek and Nichelle Nichols so much that he was moved to create a painting of her — I wonder how far the actress, and her portrayal of Lt. Uhura, could have been from his mind, as he doodled the delight that would one day become one of Marvel Comics’, and later Hollywood’s, first significant female super heroes?

The prototype for Storm was one of the characters that Dave had been drawing for ages.cockrum-outsiderscockrum-trio039-star-trek-theredlist COMP4782545244_e64204c9c9

[An earlier version of this reminiscence appeared in Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego magazine, from TwoMorrows, devoted to comics history!]

Pixel Scroll 4/29/16 Dr. Strangelist

We’ll split the Scroll again today. Guess which part this is!

(1) NOMINEE STATEMENT. For those who are interested, Cora Buhlert sent a link to “What Price Humanity?” author David VanDyke’s statement regarding his nomination at Kboards.

Re: KBoarder David VanDyke is a Hugo Award Finalist

Thanks everyone.

I wrote this bit and posted in the other thread before I saw this one, so I’ll copy-paste it here:

As we poker players say, I’ve tried to put myself into a position to get lucky, and it seems I have. Or, as another quote goes, it takes years to become an overnight success. I submitted a story to a Jerry Pournelle anthology (There Will Be War X), got accepted, then suddenly got nominated for a Hugo in a relatively easier category (novelette – novels, novellas and short stories seem much more competitive), and boom, somebody notices me after 4 years and 25 books as an indie…

I’ll be going to WorldCon in KC, but I don’t think I have a snowball’s chance of winning…not with a Stephen King novelette in there. But the nom is nice, and the networking will be nice.

…and for those who might wonder, I’m apolitical about the whole Hugo process and on nobody’s side. I just submitted a story to one of the grand masters of military sci-fi and it got picked up for the anthology, and then nominated. That’s it. No investment in puppies, kitties, gerbils, tortoises or other animals. I’m not really a joiner of special interest groups or parties anyway. Hopefully my work stands on its own.

Thanks again for all the well-wishing.

(2) MORE VOTING ADVICE. WTF Pancakes makes a modest suggestion in “Hugo Awards 2016: Geez, not this shit again”.

I’ve read suggestions that this year’s troll-fest was a direct response to the Hugo voters’ failure to reward the Puppies to force the voters to give them trophies even if the voters didn’t actually believe they were deserved. No, really, that’s the argument (although it was phrased slightly differently.) The desire, then, is to receive an award, regardless of merit. The sort of thing that Puppy authors might call “affirmative action.”

Fortunately, I have a solution which I think every reasonable person will agree is wise and just: If what the Puppies really want is recognition, then simply reward every Puppy candidate with a “participant” award. You know, the kind they give to grade school children when you don’t want anyone to feel bad. This way, the Chuck Tingles and John C. Wrights of the world can have their recognition without having to try to abuse the nomination process. Then, simply discard any nominations which match the slate proposed by the Rabid Puppies. Problem solved…for a little while at least…maybe.

(3) IT’S DEAD JIM. Joe Follansbee conducts the autopsy in “The Hugo Awards are dead, and the xPuppies killed them”.

All this wouldn’t matter, except for the fact that science fiction readers worldwide depend on the Hugo Awards as a mark of quality. While some of the xPup-inees are worthy, such as Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, and sci-fi master Jerry Pournelle for his editing, the nomination ballot-stuffing by the xPuppies has permanently damaged the Hugos’ credibility. How can any discerning reader look at the phrase “Hugo Award-nominated” or “Hugo Award-winning,” not think of Butt Invasion, and not drop the potential purchase like a hot potato?

Likewise, how can any publisher associate itself with these kinds of brand-threatening shenanigans? They’re risk-averse enough as it is. Why take the chance with printing the Hugo rocket ship logo on its project without thinking of two years’ worth of Hugo train wrecks?

A second year of “No Award” winners will put the final nails into the Hugos’ coffin because it would demonstrate readers’ lack of faith in the award.

Hope is not completely lost, however. WorldCon, which manages the Hugos, has a chance to fix the problem with proposed nominations rules changes, though they won’t take effect until 2017, assuming they’re approved. If not, they might as well kill the awards program altogether. No one will believe in it anymore.

(4) TOO GRAPHIC. GamerGate Life responds to its nomination.

(5) AH SWEET. Russell Newquist boosts the Castalia House signal in “The Perversion of Science Fiction and Fantasy Fandom”.

The 2016 Hugo Awards are important, and not for any of that. There is a critical message this year that far exceeds anything else to do with the Hugos. It boils down to two specific works, both of which have been nominated in the “Best Related Work” category:

The first is “Safe Space as Rape Room: Science Fiction Culture and Childhood’s End.” Written by Daniel Eness for the Castalia House blog. The second is “The Story of Moira Greyland” by Moira Greyland.

These two works are not just the most important published works of the science fiction community of 2015. They are the most important works of this millennium….

(6) DEJA HUGO. Jim C. Hines presents his thoughts about the Hugos, and the difference between anger and abuse, in “A Few Hugo Requests”.

2. No asterisks, please.

I did make a crack about asterisks and the Hugo last year after the trophy was released. And I think a lot of people had a mental asterisk over the whole thing, because let’s be honest, last year was anything but normal for the Hugo awards. So yeah, I definitely get it.

But at last year’s Hugo award ceremony, they handed out wooden asterisk plaques, and later sold additional wooden asterisks.

I don’t believe this was done with malicious intent (though I obviously can’t read anyone’s minds). Maybe it was an attempt at humor, and/or to acknowledge the elephant in the room. I appreciate that the sale of the asterisks raised several thousand dollars for a good cause.

Whatever the intentions, it resulted in a lot of people feeling hurt and attacked. I know from experience how nerve-wracking a Hugo ceremony can be in a normal year. Last year, and this year, tensions and anxieties and fears are exponentially higher. And for many of the people in attendance, the asterisks felt like a big old slap in the face.

Like I said, I don’t think that was the intention. (Others will disagree, and have gleefully pointed to the asterisks as “proof” that “the other side” is evil and nasty.) In this case, I don’t think intention matters so much as the impact it had, including hurting some good, talented people.

(7) THE ESTIMATE. Rocket Stack Rank’s Gregory N. Hullender attempts an “Analysis of Slate Voting for the 2016 Hugos”.

Overview

I estimate there were about 205 “Rabid Puppies” this year, essentially identical to the estimated 204 Sad+Rabid puppies last year. The reason they did so well despite a doubling of the number of “organic” votes is that they managed much better slate discipline this year; last year, not everyone voted for all five candidates nor in every category, but this year it seems they did….

(8) THOUGHTS THUNK WHILE THINKING. How come nearly everybody titles their post “Thoughts on the Hugo Nominations”? Like Anthony M at the Hugo-nominated Superversive SF blog who is thoroughly okay with the reason that happened, so why should you have any problem?

Does this bother anybody? It shouldn’t. It doesn’t bother me. We’ve been growing a fanbase since we started, and the fact that the Sads AND the Rabids both had us on their lists does mean we’re leaving a mark. I don’t believe we were picked as a parody, for the simple reason that Castalia likes our work enough to give us a weekly column on their increasingly popular blog. An anthology unassociated with us recently opened up submissions for superversive stories. We’re doing very well, and this only gets us more exposure. This is great!

And yet, if we weren’t on the Rabid Puppies slate, we still probably wouldn’t be on the Hugo shortlist. So why doesn’t this bother me? My answer is simple: I agree with what Vox Day is doing.

(9) MY HUGO NOMINATED PONY. At anthropomorphic fiction blog Fayrah, Brendan Kachel reacts: “’My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic’ episodes nominated for 2016 Hugo Awards as part of ‘Rabid Puppies’ slate”.

However, furries and bronies perhaps shouldn’t celebrate so soon; last year’s Hugo Awards were pretty controversial, and this year is apparently the sequel.

Looks like the ponies are actually Trojan horses. For puppies.

The Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies are “slates” of nominees designed to abuse a loophole in the Hugo Awards rules by which a group of voters can assure nominations for a pre-approved set of nominees by agreeing to vote for them. These slates were begun in order to fight what they describe as “political correctness” (and opponents would describe as “progressive social stances”) in the works nominated and winning at the Hugos. The politics of those running the “puppies” slate are frequently described as “neo-conservative;” the founder of the Rabid Puppies, Vox Day, is described by Wikipedia as a “white supremacist.” And the My Little Pony episodes were on his list.

The obvious question is how a children’s television show like My Little Pony (one created by feminist Lauren Faust known for its progressive themes, no less) came to be associated with someone like Vox Day. Part of the answer may be that Day is looking to further embarrass the Hugo Awards, especially after none of his slate won an award last year (even in categories where his slate swept the nominees, “No Award Given” received the most votes, leaving many categories unrewarded), and perhaps figured a nomination for a cartoon about magical horses was an embarrassment. This year, one of his short story selections was “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” by Chuck Tingle, a story of what Wikipedia delicately calls “niche erotica” (and, yes, is exactly what it sounds like). Or perhaps Day is just a legitimate fan of both ponies and “niche erotica”, after all.

However, the two episodes in question were praised by conservative sources as “anti-Marxist”, which may be on point about the episodes in question (and, admittedly, the show, being based on a toy line, can hardly be called anti-capitalist), but hardly holds up as a valid interpretation of the show’s ethos overall.

(10) DEDUCTIONS. Barry Deutsch at Alas! A Blog has his thinking cap on, too: “Hugo Nominations Are Out, And The Rabid Puppies Dominated The List. A Few Thoughts”.

1) My guess is that we’ll see Noah Ward win on at least a couple of categories this year, but most categories will have a named winner.

2) Next year, assuming the voters at this year’s Worldcon agree to this, there will be a change in the Hugo vote-counting rules – E Pluribus Hugo – which might reduce the ability of a minority of slate voters to game the process and unfairly dominate Hugo nominations. Early data may indicate that EPH won’t make as large a difference as people are hoping. If further changes are necessary to prevent the Rabid Puppies from gaming the system to dominate nominations, I expect further changes will be made.

3) By a wide margin, more people voted to nominate works for the Hugos in 2016 than in any prior year. And the Rabid Puppies still dominated the outcome. If there are hundreds of possible nominees, and if most nominators vote honestly, then a small group of slate voters can overpower the large majority of honest voters. I hope that this result will persuade people who have been saying “all’s that’s needed is for more people to nominate” to change their minds.

(11) PATRICK NIELSEN HAYDEN.

(12) ALTERNATE AWARDS. Adam-Troy Castro told his Facebook readers what else they can do for writers.

The Hugos are broken. These people broke them. I don’t see them going away and I don’t see it getting any better.

This is a sad thing, but you know what?

The Hugos were once fandom’s way of honoring that which touched them.

Today, the readership is more balkanized. Nobody reads everything published in fantastic fiction. Some of you only read novels about women in tight pants fighting vampires. Some of you only read novels about spaceships going pew-pew-pew in the asteroids. Some of you only read literary sf. Whatever gets honored in any particular year will leave the partisans of one kind of fiction feeling left out. The Puppies are nothing if not folks saddened by a couple of years of awards going to more diverse choices: people going boo-hoo-hoo because of not enough love for pew-pew-pew.

You want to honor your favorite authors with awards?

Telling others about their great books is an award.

Telling them you loved their books is an award.

Expressing your enthusiasm with online reviews is an award.

(13) THE OTHER HUGO. James H. Burns points out this ’70s toy that later was featured as “a guest” on both The Uncle Floyd Show, and Pee Wee Herman’s first stage show and HBO special!

hugo-man-of-a-thousand-faces-movieHugo

(14) GALACTIC STARS. The Traveler at Galactic Journey decided over 50 years ago that the Hugos were not the answer, and started giving out his own Galactic Stars every year. The latest set were announced last December.

The chill of winter is finally here, heralding the end of a year.  It’s time for eggnog, nutmeg, presents, pies, and family.  But more importantly, it’s time for the second annual Galactic Stars awards.

Forget the Hugos–here’s what I liked best in 1960.

In a tradition I began last year, I look back at all fiction that debuted in magazines (at least, The Big Four) with a cover date of this year as well as all of the science fiction books published.  Then I break down the fiction by length, choose the best by magazine, and finally the best overall.  All using the most modern and sophisticated scientific techniques, of course.

Last year, my choices mirrored those chosen at the Labor Day Worldcon for the Hugo awards.  We’ll see if my tastes continue to flow in the mainstream.  I break my length categories a bit finer than the Hugos, so there are bound to be some differences from that aspect, alone.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Jim C. Hines, and James H. Burns for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Space Age, on the Street

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Background_for_wikiaBy James H. Burns: I saw Colonel Bleep on the streets in Brooklyn, yesterday. He was riding along, as I finished a mid-morning cup of coffee…

Colonel Bleep, of course, was the syndicated science fiction cartoon series, each episode roughly five minutes in length, that debuted in 1957, and somehow was still playing in New York, and other markets, through the early 1970s.

Colonel Bleep was an extraterrestrial from the planet Futura, who protected our planet from various perils with his sidekicks Squeek (a cowboy puppet boy!), and Scratch the Caveman.  While the animation was limited, there were several memorable surrealistic designs, heavily influenced by the era’s futuristic tropes.

The cartoons were a neat part of my childhood, watching them early on Saturday mornings (back-to-back with DoDo the Kid From Outer Space.)

But suddenly, amid the threat of rain, he was staring at me, from all sides of a large delivery truck…. Perhaps the resemblance was only in my mind’s eye, a happy chimera from across the decades.

But I asked the driver if he would mind if I took a photo.

He smiled and said that I had a good eye. I was surprised and asked what he meant. It turns out the illustrations were the work of Robert Cohen, a famous graffiti artist known as “Meres One.”

I introduced myself and the gentleman told me that his name was Rufino Garcia. We shook hands, and he said that, a little over two years ago, his truck had even been the subject of a New York Times article!  The faces on the Ford, a closer look revealed, were lightbulbs.

Sarah Maslin’s feature said that “the bulbs are also synonymous” with what was “one of New York graffiti’s most venerable institutions, 5Pointz, a warehouse in Queens that became a de facto museum of street art.”

Surely, the resemblance of Mr. Garcia’s and Meres Ones’ artwork to our long ago friend from the future was coincidental. But it’s always nice to run into even the memory of an old pal, particularly in the most unexpected of places!

Colonel Bleep

Colonel Bleep

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No Time For Yeomen (Don’t Tell Janice Rand)

By James H. Burns: Haven’t our current military brass ever watched Star Trek?

From the New York Times: “’Yeo-Person’? One Title Vexes Navy’s Push for Gender Neutrality”

The Navy and the Marine Corps, Mr. Mabus said, had to come up with new names for the dozens of job titles that ended in “man,” like rifleman, mineman and assault man. “Man” can be replaced by “technician,” “specialist” or “professional,” so carrying out the order has been fairly straightforward.

But one title has vexed Navy officials: yeoman, the traditional name for sailors who work in clerical or administrative positions that are now held by many women.

The problem with the title, which has been a part of naval terminology for centuries, is that if you lop off its “man,” you are left with a prefix — “yeo” — that means very little by itself.

“You can’t have yeo-specialist or yeo-technician, right?” said Michael D. Stevens, the master chief petty officer of the Navy, the service’s top enlisted sailor, who has been assigned the job of coming up with new titles for his service. “Yeo-person? There is no such thing.”

Burns sent along a photo collage of Grace Lee Whitney in character as classic Trek’s Yeoman Rand.

 

Lee Falk’s Phantom of Happy Memory — And Fellini and Falk’s Mandrake!

Phantom Spot 2_0By James H. Burns: Recently, The Phantom, the great comic strip character created by Lee Falk in 1936, celebrated his 80th anniversary.

The Phantom, of course, is “The Ghost Who Walks,” the legendary protector of the wild jungle domain of Bangalla, who hands his mantle onto a son or other descendant, and operates from a cave-base deep within the country’s interior…

The Phantom began his quest for justice against PIRATES, hundreds of years ago, and to the denizens of his world, he seems eternal.

Almost always overlooked, is that he was also the world’s first super hero, before Superman and Batman, (and appearing less than five years after the Shadow, in the pulp magazines), or at least the comic world’s  initial masked and costumed adventurer!

the-phantom-first-comic

The Phantom was part of that great newspaper comics pantheon of heroes that included Flash Gordon, Terry (and the Pirates), Mandrake the Magician (also created by Falk, about an expert illusionist who investigates mysteries and intrigues–one of the many forerunners of Marvel’s Dr. Strange!)  and the comic strip adventures of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan.

In the 1930s, when these series debuted, it was before the advent of television, of course, and the vast number of Americans–and others around the world–turned to their daily papers for a serialized jolt of action and adventure , and of course, also comedy, with a wide array of humor series.

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Lee Falk

Falk, like almost all of the creators of the major comic book heroes, was Jewish. A native of St. Louis, Missouri, born in 1911, Falk was only in his early twenties when he created Mandrake (whose debut preceded the Phantom’s premiere, by less than two years)!  (Many artists, over the decades, collaborated with Falk on the comic strips for which, reportedly, he also drew the first installments.)  Ultimately, Falk became a devoted world traveller, as well as a theatrical director and producer.  (The Phantom and Mandrake had over one hundred million readers across the planet, and were adapted into almost all forms of other media.  (The Phantom retains a particularly devoted following, in Australia.)  Falk’s last years were spent in Manhattan, and Cape Cod, before he passed, in 1999.MandrakeLogo

I was lucky enough to actually grow up with the vast majority of classic comic strip characters, thanks to a newspaper that has long been forgotten: The New York Knickerbocker.

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knickerbicker issueDebuting sometime around 1967, the paper (aka, for a while, apparently, The New York Daily Column and The New York Knickerbocker) was a Sunday edition, initially featuring a variety of syndicated feature stories and columns, and also a great selection of comics, highlighting the legendary continuities from decades past, that were still, at the time, being produced:

Suddenly, every week, I was able to follow Flash and Dale Arden, Major Hoople (of Our Boarding House), Joe Palooka (and Mickey Finn), Alley Oop, Captain Easy, Snuffy Smith  (and Barney Google), Popeye, There Ought To Be A Law, and in a sensational center spread, Russ Manning’s glorious work on Burroughs’ Tarzan!  (There were also the Sunday page hijinx of such other old friends as Archie, Yogi Bear, and The Flintstones!)

Between the Knickerbocker and The Long Island Press Sunday paper (ultimately to be supplanted by Newsday’s Sunday edition, in the early 1970s), and The Sunday Daily News, virtually the whole world of comics was available to me —

Or a pretty sizable sample!

 

Dick Tracy and Dondi, along with Winnie Winkle and Moon Mullins were in The News, while Mandrake and The Phantom were in The Long Island Press (along with, somewhere, Brenda Starr)!  Relatively new to the scene were other strips I looked forward to each week: Tiger, Eek and Meek, Andy Capp, Fred Basset

(The News‘ comics section was actually a Monday morning gift from my wonderful next door neighbors of the time, Alice and Sam Picker!)

Mine might have been the last generation able to experience new installments of all these great works, while also experiencing the explosion of creativity happening in the world of comic books!

It soon became a cherished part of my week to wait for my Dad to come home with the papers, and sit down to the Sunday funnies… (The earliest issues, in fact, must have helped teach me to read!)  In later years, this terrific repast would occur sometime after coming home from Sunday School.

It also pleased me to know that I was taking a part in what was a great American tradition!

At some point in the early 1970s, The Knickerbocker went under. But within weeks, it was replaced by a new Sunday comics supplement, sold entirely on its own, entitled The New York Comics.  Sadly that too only lasted a short while longer.

But The Phantom remained a constant in the different editions, and was a favorite of mine, as he fought crime and other menaces, often accompanied by his wolf, Devil, and his sturdy mount, Hero! Once in a while, Falk would tell a tale of one of the earlier Phantoms, and you’d suddenly be transported to yet another fantastic time.Phantom-68-00

In the later 1970s, I also became enamored  by the wonderful Phantom comic books from Charlton, illustrated by the supremely talented Don Newton.

So, it was with great glee that I discovered that Falk was going to be a guest at one of Fred Greenberg’s Great Eastern Conventions’ first two-day affairs, (after years of running one day events), at Manhattan’s Penta Hotel (aka the  Hotel Pennsylvania,and the Statler Hilton, just across from Penn Station).

11 Apr 1986 --- Original caption: Lee Falk stands in front of painting of two of his creations-Mandrake, the Magician and Lothar, the magician's black companion. Falk brought them to life on comic pages in 1934. On 4/11, a new era will begin for Mandrake, Lothar, The Phantom (also created by Falk) and Flash Gordon. They'll be in a special cartoon preview of "Defenders of the Earth." --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Lee Falk in 1986.

And a little bit of history may have been made that day, or at least an element of the Phantom’s chronicle discovered, that should be more widely noted.

First up, was the beginning of a mystery, one which perplexed even Falk.

I was sitting with my friend, Douglas Aleksey, the late, long time comics fan  who, during the question-and-answer session, asked Falk about a film clip he had once seen, in a montage-tribute to Marcello Mastroianni, where the legendary actor was dressed AS Mandrake!

Falk was stunned, and was as curious about the appearance as Doug was!

The answer to this conundrum came over a decade later, when I was watching 1987’s Intervista, Federico Fellini’s kind of fake documentary, about his making of another feature film!

Suddenly, as Fellini’s in his office having a production meeting, Mastroianni comes floating up to the window, dressed as Mandrake (and standing on a rising platform)!

In a film within a film (within a film!), Mastroianni is making a commercial on the studio lot, starring as Falk’s legendary prestidigitator!7780aeee220ce41e9b35b0af012b7ae7

Falk certainly knew Fellini.  According to some sources, in 1971, producer Dino De Laurentiis flew Falk to Italy to meet with the director, hoping to foster a Mandrake movie. Fellini was a long time comics fan (who once, famously, visited the offices of Marvel Comics, in Manhattan).  At various times, Fellini had apparently stated his desire to make a Flash Gordon film, based on Alex Raymond’s and Don Moore’s comic strip, or other comics related films.

But what Falk may not have known–and which I only discovered when researching photos for this article — is that Mastroianni also played Mandrake in 1972, with the famed film star Claudia Cardinale as his beloved (and later wife), Narda–

Directed by Fellini!mandrake-mastroianni

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According to one source, Fellini was invited to help edit a special issue of French Vogue, when he decided to devise a fumetti, a photo comic, long popular in parts of Europe, starring his associates.

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That’s Cardinale in the white dress, and here, how she might have appeared in an actual Mandrake feature film!

There was one more surprise at the question-and-answer session in New York.

Falk had already mentioned that the Phantom’s home, Bangalla, could be seen, to some extent, as a mythical place, a combination of many jungles from around the globe.

I raised my hand, and as gently as I could put it, said to Falk something along the lines that as great a character as the Phantom is, as many wonderful stories as Falk had written, with all the great efforts he had taken to show people of color with respect and dignity… Through no fault of his own, some could argue that in the modern age anyway, the Phantom could be perceived as the embodiment of what could be called the colonial and prejudiced notion that the people of the jungle needed a “Great White Saviour….”

Falk smiled warmly.  He made reference to the tribute hall in the Phantom’s cave, honoring past Phantoms through the ages, and their families.

“You know, we probably haven’t seen all of the Phantom’s ancestors.”

Quite logically, and subtly, Falk was suggesting that the modern Phantom we’ve all grown up with, could well be multi-cultural.

ADDENDUM:

There was a surprising number of PHANTOM merchandising spinoffs in the 1960s, especially during the latter part of the decade’s super hero years. Perhaps the neatest element of the board game seen below was that it came with a facsimile of the Phantom’s skull ring!292fb39895d5c66f0b6ed7162a5b8b467b0627d70d7e52cf4640cbc3b7fcc717ca_display$_1phantom%20front

Once, When We All Were Scientists

By James H. Burns: There was a time, when we all were scientists…

Or many of us wanted to be!

There were certain hallmarks of growing up somewhere between the 1950s and 1970s, if you had an interest in science…

First off, were those amazing How and Why Books of Wonder. The artwork in many of which is still superb, and whose texts, in certain editions, remain first class introductions to their subjects!

The most unusual element to these volumes may have been what in New York, anyway, seemed to be their excellent distribution in pet shops!  In both local pet stores of my youth (one of which occasionally had a tiger on display!), were spinner racks filled with the books.il_570xN_656847232_ej5t

The Science Service Science Program books were another talisman of the times…

The Science Program 5-1/2 by 8-1/4 inch volumes, were offered as  a monthly subscription  from Nelson Doubleday Inc. Each sixty-four page “digest” was in two-colors, but their special feature was a centerfold of beautiful full color photo stamps, which the reader could then attach in the appropriate “boxes” throughout the book.

Album slipcases which could hold a number of the volumes were also included with the subscription membership.

(Doubleday also used this overall format for other series, including the National Audobon Society Nature Program and the American Geographical Society Around the World Program.)Science-Program-Advertisement-1960 COMP

z0205goz0rk9jnDifferent Introductory membership kits throughout the 1960s, could include a poster, as well as the Mercury model seen here.  By my era, in the early 1970s, the model offered was a lovely rendition of the lunar module on the moon, with Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin upon the surface.Science-Program_Membership-Card-Back

“The Science Service,” itself remains an active organization as the publishers of Science News magazine.

With a name-change to the Society For Science and the Public in 2008,the group also publishes Science News For Students online (as well as The Science News website), and is one of the sponsors of the Intel Science and Engineering Fairs and Talent Searches, and other events.

Its contributions to the children of another time were also significant, on many fronts.

The Science Service was launched in 1921 by newspaper publisher Edward W. Scripps and California zoologist William Emerson Ritter, under the name the American Society for the Dissemination of Science, as a news service to make the latest scientific information available to the public. One year later, they started distributing their own periodical, Science Newsletter to “satisfy curiosity from educators, and the general public.”

One of the group’s greatest boons to youthful encouragement was their series of small science kits, Things of Science. Each month, a new small blue box (or sometimes a manila envelope) would be sent out, containing several “samples;” or the parts to make a basic but effective apparatus (some times out of cardboard cutouts!)  or other material, along with a miniature pamphlet with experiments.

(Kits through the years included “Aerodynamics,” “Liquid Crystals,” “Pendulum,”‘ “Buoyancy,” “Hydroponics,” “Optical Illusions,” “Seeds….”)

Things of Science was evidently the invention of Watson Davis, who was director of the Science Service from 1928 until 1967. It developed when the Service would send out samples to accompany articles. Things of Science officially commenced in 1940, and it was soon realized that its main audience was schools and science clubs, and other youngsters!

(One early mailing contained dinosaur bones, pounded into slivers, so that every member could have his own prehistoric specimen!)

Things of Science was sold to another company in 1981, who kept the club going for another nine years.  Historian George B. Moody says that at some point, the Science Service reacquired the rights to the series….

There were other instruments of wonder in many like-minded American homes. I can’t remember a time when my Dad didn’t have a “Star-Finder” in one of his bookshelves.

And the Edmund Scientific catalog was filled with a cavalcade of delights.

Intriguingly, I don’t remember my family ever actually ordering anything from the catalog, but it was the possibilities that were always so enticing. (I must admit, I still would like six-foot weather balloon, although I’m not quite exactly sure why…)576d12a9f2e4e21d485e474299c2ee78

And then, there was the Gilbert Chemistry Set….  An astonishing amalgam of chemicals and equipment, and experiments neatly printed out on index cards. I set up my “laboratory” on an old desk in the basement.

What, exactly, was I hoping to discover, as a ten-year old?

But I can still remember the sense of trust implicit when my father said I could use the bunsen burner on my own. And the thrill when my folks picked me up my first Erlenmeyer flask.

Earlier, there had been the fun of working with the microscope my Dad passed on down to me. And there were always a couple of telescopes somewhere nearby. But for some skygazing, it was my father’s World War II binoculars, brought home from Europe in 1945, that seemed to be the most stable.

Somewhere around my house were copies of Popular Science, Mechanix Illustrated…  Set apart, in a special place, were the Life magazine issues from 1955 debuting “The Epic of Man” series (with extraordinary depictions of primitive humanity), and the still remarkable Complete Book of Outer Space, from 1954.

Surely, there were signposts of your own scientific life as a girl or boy.

But all these ruminations lead me to one more pioneer of our nascent knowledge, someone who helped educate the young in years and temperament for over a couple of generations, through some of the most crucial periods of our history.

It also brings us to the aforementioned mystery that you just might be able to help solve…

When I was a little boy in the 1960s, there was a column in the newspapers, “Uncle Ray’s Corner.” (I suspect that the feature was in The New York Post, back when that was actually considered New York’s liberal newspaper.)

I can remember being disconcerted when Uncle Ray’s column was suddenly gone from the daily, just a while after I had discovered it. Like other kids, I had clipped and saved some of the installments, in a notebook which was now destined to have too many empty pages.

I remember “Uncle Ray’s Corner” as being a science column, an early stop for those enchanted by the era’s sense of exploration. But apparently, the articles were across a wide range of subjects, anything that might interest a school-age child.

My parents actually said they remembered “Uncle Ray,” from their own younger days, but I didn’t see how that was quite possible…

Until the dawn of the internet.

When I finally got actively online, later than many, in 1999. I’d occasionally look for information about Uncle Ray, but with little luck. Whatever kindness and good fellowship of awareness had been in his columns, had made an impression that lasted decades.

Suddenly, years later, I was able to begin finding listings for some of his old books.

Uncle Ray was Ramon Peyton Coffman. Beginning in the 1930s (if not earlier), he wrote such volumes for “young people” as The Child’s Story of the Human Race, Uncle Ray’s Story of the Stone Age People, Famous Kings and Queens, and New World Settlement.  (There was even a Big Little Book edition, Uncle Ray’s Story of the United States.)

Commencing in the late 1940s, Coffman was also responsible for Uncle Ray’s Magazine, subtitled “Adventures in Fascinating Facts.” It seems to have been devoted to any of the myriad of historical, scientific and current world events that might interest kids.

A few years ago, an obituary tribute to Coffman popped up from the Madison Wisconsin Central High School Records.

The obit says that Coffman was born circa 1896, in Indianapolis, and grew up in Madison.  He attended Yale and Columbia Universities, as well as the New York College for Social Research, and earned a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1927.  Coffman lived in Shorewood Hills, Wisconsin from 1935 until 1949, and then resided in several states, “often returning to Madison.”0_0_4858_6927

uncle ray clipping“Uncle Ray’s Column” was launched around 1925, “to teach children about science.” Appearing in many newspapers in the United States “and several foreign countries.” It ran, it seems, through 1970.

Coffman passed in June, 1989 in Palo Alto, California, survived by four children, Gratton, Peyton, Roger and Kathleen Davis.

Why all this curiosity from me about Coffman?  His column was from a time when more of our society celebrated the simple pleasure of knowing about things. It’s extraordinary to think that Coffman’s career as a popular educator spanned the time before jets, and the splitting of the atom, and, of course, the space age; from before the Depression, to the heart of the tumult and joy of the 1960s…

The internet must be a godsend for scientifically inclined children, but the beauty of a column like Ray Coffman’s was that it was there for anybody in the newspaper, from a precocious tot to a like-minded adult.

Surely, those who helped set so many of our paths of exploration should be remembered!

It strikes me as sad that someone like “Uncle Ray” has so little trace on the web. I’m hoping that some here can help expand our familiarity with this gentleman of elucidation.

I also have a somewhat selfish wish.

In the late 1960s, I sent in a request to the column: just for the asking, a reader could receive a special certificate proclaiming that you belonged to Uncle Ray’s club (or legion of fellow junior wonderers!).

I had that yellowish heavy-stock proclamation, attached to my science scrapbook from the 1960s, until less than two years ago, when due to an awful calamity, almost all my collection was destroyed.

I’ve found no sign of the Uncle Ray “diploma” anywhere on the net and would love to see it again.

(I had planned on scanning it, along with many other irreplaceable mementos from the era, and later, other histories.)

In fact, all the books and items seen here were once part of that assemblage.

But all these totems of the future, very happily, belong to all of us.

They are always nice to revisit, and remember such gifts of inspiration, and strive to create such passages for all our tomorrows.

Pixel Scroll 4/16/16 I’m Looking Over A Five-Leaf Clover

(1) HOLD ONTO YOUR KAIJU! Scified says Toho’s Godzilla Resurgence will not be released in North American cinemas.

As it stands currently, it doesn’t look like Toho’s Shin-Gojira (dubbed Godzilla Resurgence for us Westerners) will be making its way to the silver screen in North America this summer. With no mention of a US theater distribution company the chances of fans in the US and Canada seeing Godzilla Resurgence in a theater are extremely low.

The only semi-confirmed distribution company for Shin-Goji in North America seems to be a company called New World Cinemas. The downside is they’ve only listed home entertainment release on DvD for Godzilla Resurgence. The other downside is their projected release date is set in 2017… So, G-Fans over here will need to wait half a year to see Godzilla Resurgence… On DvD. We’re hoping Blu-Ray will also be available, but again, no confirmation.

(2) INKLINGS. John Garth reviews Charles Williams: The Third Inkling by Grevel Lindop in Oxford Today Trinity Term 2016.

“…By the time the narrative reaches the Inklings, we already know Williams as intimately as it is possible to know someone so secretive and strange…”

I review the latest biography of Charles Williams, whose shared times with CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien were only one facet of a fascinating and peculiar life.

(3) MARS EXPERIENCE BUS. Fulfilling the vision of Icarus Montgolfier Wright….

Lockheed Martin has launched Generation Beyond, a first of its kind, national educational program to bring the science of space into thousands of homes and classrooms across America. The Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program is designed to inspire the next generation of innovators, explorers, inventors and pioneers to pursue STEM careers.

Generation Beyond includes a real-life Mars Experience Bus that will travel the country providing student riders with an interactive experience simulating a drive along the red planet’s surface. The Lockheed Martin Mars Experience Bus is the first immersive virtual reality vehicle ever built and replicates 200 square miles of the Martian surface. The Mars Experience was built with the same software used in today’s most advanced video games.

 

(4) BACK UP THE TRUCK. Indianapolis’ Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library is asking his fans to contribute $775,000 to pay for its move to a larger location.

The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library needs $750,000 to pay its first three years of rent at a downtown Indianapolis building which has four times more space than its current location.

Library founder and CEO Julia Whitehead says that money will also help pay to reconfigure that 5,400-square-foot building for expanded programming and to exhibit more of its large collection, much of which remains in storage.

Click here to make an online donation.

(5) THE MAGIC NUMBER FIVE. Cheryl Morgan, in “Some Awards Thoughts”, speculates about how the Hugo Awards’ 5% rule will come into play this year.

…The first thing to note is that the rule is 5% of ballots in that category, not 5% of ballots overall. 5% of 4000 ballots is 200 votes, and that will probably be required in Novel and the Dramatic Presentation categories, but participation in other categories tends to be much lower. In addition, there is a separate rule that says every category must have at least three finalists, regardless of the 5% rule. So no category is going to be wiped out by this…..

My guess is, therefore, that we’ll have a few categories with 3 or 4 finalists this year. We’ll be able to draw some pretty graphs showing how more participation means more variation. And that will be useful because a motion to remove the 5% Rule got first passage in Spokane last year. This data will inform the debate on final ratification….

(6) PRATCHETT MEMORIAL. A year after the writer’s death from Alzheimer’s, a tribute in London drew together fans and friends — “Terry Pratchett memorial: tears, laughter and tantalising new projects” in The Guardian.

…Sir Tony Robinson read Pratchett’s Dimbleby lecture on Alzheimer’s and assisted dying, while the author’s daughter, Rhianna, read the obituary she wrote for the Observer. Dr Patrick Harkin, whose collection of Pratchett ephemera includes an onion pickled by the man himself, appeared alongside Discworld sculptor Bernard Pearson, as well as Pratchett’s publisher, Larry Finlay, and agent, Colin Smythe.

Neil Gaiman flew in from the States to read his introduction to Pratchett’s 2014 non-fiction collection A Slip of the Keyboard, and found himself presented with his friend’s trademark hat. Gaiman, looking a tad thunderstruck, placed it for a moment on his head, but quickly took it off again, saying: “Oh, I don’t dare.”

(7) NEW WAVE IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR. C. Derick Varn and Dinesh Raghavendra conduct New Worlds: An Interview with M. John Harrison” at Former People.

Former People Speak: What do make of the direction Science Fiction has headed in since you edited New Worlds and New Wave of Science fiction began?

M. John Harrison: New Worlds and the New Wave were a reflection of the more general cultural changes which went on from the late 1950s to the late 1970s. I think science fiction headed in more than one direction as a response to those changes. Or perhaps better to say that it’s an elastic medium, it was heavily perturbed, and it’s been bouncing around inside its formal limits ever since. There was an immediate reaction against the New Wave in the shape of a Reaganistic “back to the future” movement, but that was soon swamped by the concomitant emergence of left wing, feminist and identity-political sf. Now we see an interesting transition into post-colonialism, intersectionality, and–at last–the recognition by western sf that rest of the world writes science fiction too. These are, like the New Wave, responses to changes in the general cultural context. I enjoyed my time at New Worlds, although by the time I got there all the important work had been done. I enjoyed the New Wave for its technical experiments–even in those, though, it was beginning to reflect the generalised cultural shift to postmodernism (while the science fiction Old Guard hunkered down and grimly dug in its heels against the demons of modernism, fighting the previous generation’s wars, as Old Guards will).

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • Born April 16, 1921 — Peter Ustinov, who was in lots of things, including Logan’s Run.

(9) THE 100 ANGERS LGBT FANS. Washington Post writer Bethonie Butler says after Lexa, an openly lesbian character (played by Alycia Debnam-Carey) died on an episode of The 100, a lot of fans of the show vented, although the venting led, among other things, to raising a large amount of money tor the Trevor Project, which runs a suicide hotline for LGBT teens — “TV keeps killing off lesbian characters. The fans of one show have revolted”.

Many fans have stopped watching the show and have redirected their energy to Twitter and Tumblr to vent their frustrations. During the episode following Lexa’s death, fans tweeted with the trending topic LGBT Fans Deserve Better, which has since become an international fan-led initiative. As the show returned Thursday after a two-week hiatus, fans tweeted with Bury Tropes Not Us, sending the topic trending nationally. A fundraising effort has raised more than $113,000 for The Trevor Project, an organization that provides a 24-hour toll-free national suicide hotline and other services for LGBT and questioning youths in crisis.

(10) ASK GANNON ANYTHING. Chuck Gannon announced on Facebook he will be taking questions in a live session on Reddit.

For folks who were among my earliest readers (i.e.; Analog folks), and saw the earliest beginnings of my Caine Riordan / Terran Republic over a decade ago (now thrice Nebula nominated), this is the chance to ask some questions about my stories or what’s to come.

I’ll be on Reddit’s Ask Me Anything. April 20, 2 PM, but u can start leaving questions ~ 11AM EDT. & yes, in addition to answering questions about the craft and biz of being an SF/F author, I will spill beans in re my various series. (And particularly Caine Riordan/ Terran Republic.) PLEASE SHARE! And u can enter ur questions as long as u join Reddit (no cost) for just one day. You’ll be able to drop in by going to the front page of /r/books: https://www.reddit.com/r/books/.

(11) FAAn AWARDS VOTING DEADLINE NEARS. There’s just one week left to vote for the FAAn awards for fanzine activity in 2015. The deadline is midnight on Saturday, April 23. Award administrator Claire Brialey reminds —

So if anyone interested in SF fanzines is looking for something else to occupy their time before the Hugo award shortlists are announced, information about categories and voting can still be found at: http://corflu.org/Corflu33/faan2015.html

People don’t need to be members of Corflu to vote. They just need to have enjoyed some fanzines from 2015 and want to express their opinions about that.

Votes should be sent to me at this address (faansfor2015 [at] gmail [dot] com).

(12) YOUR FELLOW PASSENGERS. Damien G. Walter’s genre overview “Reaching for the stars: a brief history of sci-fi space travel” in The Guardian references Stephen Hawking and David Brin – also Kim Stanley Robinson and some mournful canines:

And the psychology of the human species is so poorly understood that the idea that we might survive for generations together in a big tin can is simply insane. Aurora digs into many of the social and psychological issues of generation ships, but ultimately Robinson is an optimist; a believer in the powers of the rational, scientific mind to overcome all challenges. Meanwhile, the science-fiction writing community can’t even organise the Hugo awards without descending into factionalism worthy of revolutionary France. Think the Sad Puppies are annoying now? Wait until you’re trapped in a space-biome with them.

(13) ASTRONOMICAL PUNCHLINES. David Brin feels like cracking jokes today

Asteroids, gotta love the yummy things.  For example: asteroid 5748 Davebrin made its closest approach to Earth April 4. (1.7 AU). Hey! I can see my house from here! Come on guys, it’s mine so let’s go melt it down and get rich.

And yes, this means it is time for one of our “look up!” postings, here on Contrary Brin!

For example…

Many of you recall the thrilling sight of Jupiter getting whacked multiple times by the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 in 1994. Now Phil Plait reveals some video taken this month by an amateur astronomer, which appears to reveal another one smacking the King World. And hints there may have been another collision some years ago. Yipe!  This’ll affect the statistics, for sure. No fluke, after all.  As Goldfinger said: “Three times, Mr. Bond, is enemy action.”

(14) PLEONASM INSTRUCTION MANUAL. At SFFWorld Mark Yon reviews the dictionary. But not just any dictionary — “Firefly: The Gorramn Shiniest Dictionary and Phrasebook in the ‘Verse by Monica Valentinelli”.

Nominally it’s as the title suggests – a dictionary/phrasebook of all those words created and amalgamated into the language of the TV series. For those who don’t know, Firefly is a future Western series set in the year 2517, where the language used by Joss Whedon’s characters is a mash-up of English and Mandarin Chinese.

So if you were wondering what words like ‘gorramn’ meant, then here’s the place to look them up. *

The writer, Monica Valentinelli , has a wealth of background that she draws on for this book. She worked on and became the lead developer and writer for the Firefly Role-Playing Game, and it is this that informs her work here. She has also had access to the original TV scripts.

(15) VERTLIEB ON JOINING RONDO HOF. Steve Vertlieb is thrilled to be voted into the Monster Kid Hall of Fame.

I awoke quite late last evening to a congratulatory telephone call from writer pal Jim Burns informing me of the astonishing news that I’d been inducted into The Monster Kid Hall Of Fame, the ultimate honor bestowed by voters in the annual Classic Horror Film Board competition for excellence in genre contribution. I am stunned, choked up, and deeply humbled by this wholly unexpected honor at the CHFB. I’ve been involved in organized fandom since September, 1965, when I attended Forry Ackerman’s very first Famous Monsters of Filmland convention in New York City, and have been a published writer since 1969 with my first published articles in England’s L’Incroyable Cinema Magazine. I dutifully voted this year for many deserving recipients of the “Rondo,” as I do each year, but I NEVER had ANY expectation of ever winning this most loving, prestigious award myself. I am profoundly moved by this wonderful recognition of my work for nearly than half a century, and want to thank everyone who helped behind the scenes to make it a reality. I’d also like to congratulate Mark Redfield and David Del Valle who happily share this distinct honor with me in the Hall Of Fame category, as well as Mark Maddox for his win in the Best Artist category, Gary Rhodes for Writer of the Year, and so many others whose artistic excellence has garnered them a well deserved commendation. I don’t know what else to say just now….except that I am utterly speechless and humbled by this wondrous honor, and most gracious kindness. Thank You all sincerely.

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

In Honor of the New Dr. Strange Trailer

Dr StrangeBy James H. Burns: Some weeks ago, we ran the opening theme songs (and all the lyrics!) for the rather memorable themes from the 1966 Marvel Super Heroes syndicated cartoon television series…

And with all this talk of the Doctor Strange movie, it got me thinking, and I began noodling, what could have been an of-its-era tune for the Master of the Mystic Arts segment of the show….

Master of the mystic arts!
It’s where the doctor’s wisdom starts!
To realms eternal,
And dreams within,
This Doctor Strange, is always in!

With his amulets and charms,
Brave words and a wave of his arms,
He protects dimensions,
A universal range!
Ascetic medic: Doctor Strange!

(ECHO; Doctor Strange!)