Sci-Fest LA Asks Donations for SFX

The third annual Sci-Fest LA Science Fiction One-Act Play Fest runs May 5-29 at the ACME Theatre in Hollywood. Four days remain in Sci-Fest LA’s Indiegogo appeal to crowdfund the special effects.

All we want is to do justice to do justice to these incredible stories of alien abductions, distant war-torn galaxies, deadly pandemics, inter-dimensional travel, malevolent machines and demonic soul hunters.   Some of these projects were personally handed to us by literary icons Neil Gaiman and Clive Barker!

In order to create these desolate planets, invading space ships, slithering aliens, and creepy creatures under the dock, we’ll need to give our extraordinary team of “A-List” designers all the things they need including:  SFX lighting, 3D projection mapping, a transformative stage set, all kinds of crazy props, special effects rigging, SFX costume creation, facial prosthetics mechanics, plus lots of slime, goo and other things to make you jump out of your seat!

At this writing, $13,409 has been pledged towards the $20,000 goal.

Ten new one-act plays will be performed, including one based on Janis Ian’s story “Prayerville.”

Those who donate $100 to help produce “Prayerville” will be billed in the program as one of the show’s “Executive Producers,” receive a copy of the Sci-Fest LA show poster signed by the cast, plus a special CD of Janis Ian’s music and two tickets to the evening program on May 21.

The titles and playwrights of the 10 plays in the 2016 festival lineup are —

A MIDNIGHT CLEAR

by Michael J. Himstedt

A divorced man’s attempt to share Christmas with his estranged son is thwarted by terrifying, otherworldly forces.

ARRIVAL

by Spencer Green

Stranded for decades between dimensions, a desperately lonely astronaut suddenly has a surprise guest.

CERTAIN UNEXPLAINABLE EVENTS

by Cody Daigle

Three troubled teenagers have very different accounts of the night their friend disappeared.

LOVE LIFE ALPHA

by Nathan Wellman

A young couple find it tough to mend their damaged relationship under the constant, watchful eye of “Alpha.”

PRAYERVILLE

by Janis Ian

Adapted by Lisa Beth Kovetz

A futuristic tale of love, honor and unwanted duty played out in a distant, war-torn galaxy.  Based on the short story by the iconic singer-composer of “At Seventeen.”

RANDOMIZED SKIN

by Chuck Armstrong & Charlie Stockman

A trio of quirky aliens fiercely interrogate a captive astronaut, determined to get answers to their questions about humanity.

SHOGGOTH’S OLD PECULIAR

by Neil Gaiman

Adapted by Michael Bernard

A naïve American student stumbles onto a creepy, uncharted seaside village that hides a horrible secret.  Literary legend Neil Gaiman’s chilling homage to the work of Lovecraft.

WINGED CUPID, PAINTED BLIND

by Rob Hollocks

The love between two married scientists is put to the ultimate test when they are trapped in a deadly race against time.

THE YATTERING AND JACK

by Clive Barker; Adapted by Matt. Murray.

Despite his best demonic efforts, a “Yattering” dispatched from Hell cannot seem to break the spirit of his designated victim.  Based on the classic short story by one of Sci-Fi and Fantasy’s grandmasters.

ZEBULON’S CALLING

by John P. Dowgin

A seemingly chance encounter between two strangers unleashes unexpected calamity.

 

Pixel Scroll 2/16/16 Think Pixel, Count Scroll

(1) CARNEGIE AND GREENAWAY LONGLISTS. The longlists for the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals have been announced.

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

Locus Online has identified the works of genre interest on both lists.

(2) TOLKIEN POEMS DISCOVERED. Two poems by J.R.R. Tolkien have been discovered in a 1936 copy of a school annual reports the BBC.

The Shadow Man, and a Christmas poem called Noel, were found at Our Lady’s School, Abingdon.

It is thought Tolkien got to know the school while he was a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University.

The poems were printed a year before Tolkien’s first literary sensation The Hobbit was published.

The Shadow Man is an earlier version of a poem eventually published in 1962 in Tolkien’s Adventures of Tom Bombadil collection.

The existence of the poems came to light after American Tolkien scholar Wayne G. Hammond got in touch with the school.

According to The Guardian

The first poem, The Shadow Man, is an early version of a poem that Tolkien went on to publish in his 1962 collection The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. It tells of “a man who dwelt alone/ beneath the moon in shadow”, who “sat as long as lasting stone,/and yet he had no shadow”. When “a lady clad in grey” arrives, he wakes, and “clasped her fast, both flesh and bone;/and they were clad in shadow”.

The second, Noel, is a Christmas poem, albeit one set in scenery that would not be out of place in Middle-earth. “The hall was dark without song or light,/The fires were fallen dead,” writes Tolkien, going on to portray “the lord of snows”, whose “mantle long and pale/Upon the bitter blast was spread/And hung o’er hill and dale”.

(3) TWITTER WISHES. John Scalzi, in “What I Want Out of Twitter”, explains the changes he’d like to see made in this social media platform.

What I’m more interested in is how Twitter can make itself better, which is a different question than how Twitter can be saved. Twitter’s major issue, as everyone except apparently Twitter’s C-bench knows, is that there are a bunch of shitheads on it who like to roll up to whomever they see as targets (often women and/or people in marginalized groups) and dogpile on them. That’s no good….

So, if Twitter were asking me what I wanted out of Twitter to make it an optimal service for me, here’s what I would suggest, in no particular order:…

Other things to allow filtering of:

  • Profile keywords: If I could filter out every single account that had “#GamerGate” in its profile text, as an example, my replies would have been a lot quieter in the last couple of years.
  • Accounts based on who they follow: Right now I’m thinking of five Twitter accounts of people I think are basically real assholes. I suspect that if you are following all five of them, you are probably also an asshole, and I don’t want to hear from you. In this particular case I think it’d useful to have the filtering be fine-grained, as in, rather than just filtering everyone who followed one account, you’d filter them if they followed Account 1 AND Account 2 AND Account 3 (and so on). It would also be useful to be able to do this more than once, i.e., have more than one follower filter, because often it’s not just one group being annoying.

(4) THE HAMMER. Robot6 asks “Are you worthy to wield this Thor’s Hammer Tool Kit?”

Noting a serious lack of geek-themed hardware, Dave Delisle came up with an idea for a tool set to tackle virtually any home-repair project in the Nine Realms, even the famed clogged drains of Jotunheim.

As you can see, the Thor Hammer Tool Kit looks like the fabled Mjolnir, until it’s opened to reveal a claw hammer, wrench, screwdriver, socket set and so on.

Click through to see an animated gif that makes it all clear.

(5) UNREADY PLAYER ONE. Science Fiction.com reports “’Ready Player One’ Moves Release Date To Dodge ‘Star Wars’”.

And now that the release date for Rian Johnson’s ‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’ has officially moved from May 2017 to December 15, 2017, it looks like even the legendary Steven Spielberg is jumping out of the way in hopes of not getting steamrollered.

According to Variety, the iconic filmmaker’s latest film ‘Ready Player One’ will push back it’s release date to March 30, 2018. Originally slated for December 15, 2017, the movie based on Ernest Cline’s acclaimed nostalgia-filled sci-fi adventure has vacated that spot to give a galaxy far, far away some space. After all, they definitely don’t want to end up like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s ‘Sisters’, which went up against J.J. Abrams’ highly anticipated blockbuster during this past holiday season and didn’t stand a chance against the intergalactic juggernaut.

(6) A MUNDANE YEAR FOR GRAMMY. The 2016 Grammy Award winners didn’t have much of genre interest. I’m really going to have to stretch a point…

Best pop duo/group performance

“Uptown Funk”: Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars

Although the music video for the song wasn’t a Grammy nominee, it’s the main reason I’m reporting any of these awards, because fannish actor Ed Green appears in the background of it beginning at :25 — he’s on the left, speaking on the pay phone. (He also appears at right, below, in the title frame.)

Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media

Birdman

Antonio Sanchez, composer

Then, Jimmy Carter won the Best Spoken Word Album category, where Janis Ian was also a nominee.

(9) ONLY IN IT FOR THE PUN. The Telegraph says “BBC to axe television and radio divisions as part of radical management overhaul”.

Lord Hall, the director-general of the BBC, will not replace Danny Cohen, the corporation’s recently departed director of television, and is instead moving ahead with radical plans to abolish the broadcaster’s radio and television divisions.

“’Doc Martin’ and ‘Doctor Who’ to be combined into new programme, ‘Doc Who’,” reports Andy Porter.

(10) LE GUIN. Ursula K. Le Guin continues answering people’s questions about writing in “Navigating the Ocean of Story (2)” at Book View Café.

Do you consider it a good idea to offer your work in progress to numerous and/or unselected critics? If so, how do you decide which criticisms are valid and useful?

To offer work for critique to an unselected group on the Net, people who remain strangers, is to extend trust to absolute strangers. Some of them will take advantage of the irresponsibility afforded by the medium.

Here’s my advice, for what it’s worth: Don’t do it unless you’ve considered the risks. Pay attention to any comment that really makes sense to you; value any intelligent praise you get. That’s about as far as trust can take you. Keep an eye out for know-it-alls who make like critics, spouting secondhand rules. And remember some may be there because they want to make soup out of your bones.

This is not the voice of experience. I never gave my work to strangers to criticize in first draft or at any stage. I never submitted a piece to an editor or agent until it was, to the best of my knowledge and ability, finished.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 16, 1923 – Archeologists opened the tomb of Tutankhamen in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born February 16, 1958 – Lisa Loring, the actress who played Wednesday Addams in the original Addams Family TV series.

Lisa Loring as Wednesday Addams

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born February 16, 1926 – Rusty Hevelin
  • Born February 16, 1957 – LeVar Burton, Jr., who played ST:TNG’s Geordi LaForge.

(14) CHAOS HORIZON. Chaos Horizon comments on the final SFWA 2015 Best Novel Recommended Reading List. It’s interesting that only six novels have more than 20 recommendations.

Gannon [Raising Caine] and Schoen [Barsk] have shot up this list like rockets, going from nowhere in November to dominating by the end. Those 34 and 33 numbers are so impressive it’s hard to imagine them not getting Nebula nominations at this point. Overall, there were 728 total recommendations; that has to represent a substantial amount of the final Nebula nomination vote. Gannon and Schoen will raise some eyebrows if they get nominations; these SF books certainly got less press, acclaim, and online discussion than other SF books like Sevenves or Aurora. The Nebula is quirky like this, often favoring smaller authors over the big names. If they get nominated, I think the question is whether or not one of those books can win. Will Gannon follow the McDevitt route—get nominated enough and eventually you’ll win? Will Barsk grab a ton of new readers and take the Nebula? I think there’s a definite advantage to being fresh in your voters’ minds.

(15) WRIGHT BACKS HIS BEST EDITOR. John C. Wright adds his endorsement to the Rabid Puppy slate.

The Puppy-kickers are our ideological foes bent on replacing popular and well crafted sci fi tales with politically correct science-free and entertainment-free moping dreck that reads like something written by a highschool creative writing course dropout.

The Puppy-kickers have repeatedly and vehemently assured us assured us that soliciting votes from likeminded fans for stories you judge worthy was a “slate” and therefore was (for reasons not specified) totally and diabolically evil and wrong and bad, was not something insiders had been doing for decades, and was always totally inexcusable, except when they did it, and voted in a slate to grant ‘No Award’ to categories where they had lost their stranglehold over the nominations.

In that spirit, I hereby officially announce in my capacity as the Grand Inquisitor of the Evil Legion of Evil Authors, that the following list is the recommended reading list of our Darkest Lord only, and not a voting slate.

These are the recommendations of my editor, Theodore Beale, aka Vox Day, the most hated man in Science Fiction, but certainly the best editor I have had the pleasure to work with.

(16) MESSAGE FREE. Those who feel the yarn is the most important thing may find themselves voting for this —

Geeknits

(17) MILLENNIALS. “Millennial Fans: An Interview with Louisa Stein (Part Two)” conducted by Henry Jenkins at Confessions of an Aca-Fan.

Many of the shows you write about as Millennial programs are also shows with strong female leads and targeted at female consumers — Friday Night Lights would be a notable exception on your list. So, what happens to the gendering of fandom as we move towards Millennial fan culture? 

Issues of gender permeate millennial culture, fan culture, and the relationship between the two. Masculinizing—or feminizing—fan culture has been one way industry interests tame fandom’s perceived unruliness. Seemingly masculine forms of fandom (and I would emphasize that these areas, like gender itself, are social constructs) have already been categorized as industrially legible and profit friendly. The fanboy stereotype has its share of taboo associations, going all the way back to the “Get a Life” bit on Saturday Night Live that Textual Poachers opens with; but the fanboy position has since been spun into industry heralded narratives of superfans and fanboy auteurs (see Scott, Kohnen), with the lines toward brand support and profit already clearly delineated.

Obsession_inc (and many others citing her) have termed this divide “affirmational fandom,” versus “transformative fandom,” with the latter perceived as more the practice of female consumers who transform media texts into art and fiction, often in so doing significantly changing their meaning. In Millennial Fandom, I actually argue that transformational and affirmational fandom are more deeply intertwined than we might at first assume, but nevertheless, at a discursive level, the distinction helps us to see why and how transformative (perceived “feminine”) practices have been and continue to be treated as suspect, marked as taboo, and policed.

(18) AQUA JODHPURS. “Our first good look at Jason Momoa’s full Aquaman costume comes from ToyFair” at Yahoo! TV.

Then along came ToyFair 2016. Ahhhh, good old ToyFair. Hosted in New York City at the beginning of each year, the convention showcases the best of upcoming merchandise to look forward to. It’s also ALWAYS good for a spoiler or two. One of this year’s was a complete look at Jason Momoa’s costume in Batman v Superman, complete with colors. Behold!

The tattoos on Aquaman’s chest appear to continue onto his pants(?) which are a murky green. The better to blend into the ocean floor with. Of course, the camo look is marred by the bright gold knee-highs, but a king has to make concessions for style. I’m curious if Aquaman’s asymmetrical armor has a backstory is just there to look cool. Also, he is totally standing in rubble. Could it be that Wonder Woman isn’t the only superhero to show up at the end to clean up Batman and Superman’s mess?

(19) SHATNER BOOK REVIEW. Ryan Britt at Tor.com says “William Shatner’s New Memoir Leonard is Surprising and Moving”.

Whether they’re in their Kirk and Spock guises, or just being themselves, it’s hard to prefer William Shatner to Leonard Nimoy. Nimoy just seems more comfortable and real of the two, whereas Shatner appears to be putting on airs. Over the years, William Shatner seems to have figured this out and embraced the fact that no one will ever totally take him seriously. All of this makes the publication of a memoir written by him about Leonard Nimoy both look like a cynical cash-grab and a disingenuous maneuver of faux-love.

But if you’re a Star Trek fan, or casually interested in Leonard Nimoy, Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship With a Remarkable Man reveals that not only is Shatner a good guy, but that Leonard Nimoy may not have been the cool one, and did in fact fight all sorts of demons both inside and out.

(20) CORREIA’S SCHOOL FOR BUSINESS. Larry Correia says “One Star Reviews Over Book Prices are Dumb”, which is absolutely true.

I know writers aren’t supposed to respond to reviews, but I’m not responding to this as a writer, I’m responding to it as a retired accountant.

I am the author in question. Your review doesn’t hurt anything except my overall average. You aren’t sticking it to the man. You aren’t harming the corporate fat cats. If you think the book sucks, give it one star. That’s awesome. That’s what the stars are for. But you don’t use one star to bitch about the price of eBooks. That just makes you look stupid. We shouldn’t still be having this conversation with anybody who isn’t a Bernie Sanders supporter.

Now, Accountant Hat on. This is pretty basic stuff. This is how basic costing works, not just for books, but quite literally everything. But today, we’ll talk about books, because your ridiculous review has pissed me off.  I’m going to dumb this down and keep it simple as possible.

The rest is a long but lighthearted lesson about the business of producing books that makes cost accounting entertaining. (I know you think I’m being facetious, which is why I need to say, no, I really found it entertaining.)

(21) ANOTHER OPINION ABOUT THE KENYON SUIT. Amanda S. Green at Mad Genius Club begins her “And the World Keeps Turning”  column: “I will give the same caveat here that Sarah gave in her post. I have not read the pleadings filed on Ms. Kenyon’s behalf. Nor have I read Ms. Clare’s books.”

On Friday of last week, the Guardian published an article that addresses, from Ms. Clare’s point of view. Two things stood out for me and, yes, I know I am paying attention to lawyer-speak but the attorney, John Cahill, does bring up some interesting questions. First, “the lawsuit failed to identify a single instance of actual copying or plagiarism by Cassie.”  The second is that Ms. Clare has been writing these characters and series, iirc, for ten years. That’s a long time to wait before filing suit and part of me wonders if the fact Ms. Clare’s series is being made into a television series wasn’t the impetus for the suit.

To be fair, the suit does allege that Ms. Clare, in her series, does, “employ a line of warriors who protect the normal world from demons”, both cover how “a young person becomes part of the Dark-Hunters’ (or Shadowhunters’) world after being saved by a gorgeous blond Dark-Hunter (or Shadowhunter)”, and “both Dark-Hunters and Shadowhunters have enchanted swords that are divinely forged, imbued with otherworldly spirits, have unique names, and glow like heavenly fire”.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I can think of any number of books, short stories, TV shows and movies that could fall under that description. Those are, indeed, story elements, but does it rise to the level of plagiarism and copyright infringement?

Green steps into the judge’s shoes, for at least a few sentences, to voice skepticism about the plaintiff’s case. Not having read the complaint, Green missed the opportunity to see its list of the statutes the judge is asked to apply. With the help of Google she could have tested lawyer Cahill’s argument, as well as her own doubts that the infringement is actionable.

(22) A MENU ALOFT. Rick Foss was interviewed by Leanna Garfield for her Tech Insider post “We’re in a golden age of airplane food – for some people”.

When American Airlines recently launched a 15-hour direct flight from Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia, it also debuted a new menu. Flight attendants offer first-class passengers complimentary glasses of 2010 Penfolds Grange Shiraz (normally $850 per bottle) and roasted sirloin steak with red wine sauce.

Travelers in the economy cabin are still only treated to peanuts (But hey, at least they now get complimentary spirits — quite the perk).

The improvements in first and business class have more to do with the economics of the airline industry than they do with a desire to provide better service, Richard Foss, culinary historian and author of “Food in the Air and Space: The Surprising History of Food and Drink in the Skies,” tells Tech Insider.

Foss has studied the history of airline food for over a decade, from the glory days in the ’70s when airlines served lobster to today’s inflight tuna sandwiches. Here’s a look at that history, and how airlines are trying to bring back the golden age of airline dining for high-paying passengers.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/18 Brackets and Black Dice

(1) Some of these antics would be perfectly at home in the U.S.

While China’s vice president is meeting with the respectable author of Three-Body Problem, other officials are occupied cracking down on fake aliens and zombies says the New York Times.

Science fiction and fantasy tales have been growing in popularity in China, where some creative efforts have earned official endorsement. Vice President Li Yuanchao met this week with authors — including Liu Cixin, who wrote the Hugo Award-winning novel “The Three-Body Problem” — and called on them to inspire young people’s interest in science and encourage “faith in realizing the Chinese Dream,” the state news agency Xinhua reported.

But even as the Chinese leadership offered praise for the writers, the police have been less tolerant of social media users’ flexing their creativity. Several people have been punished in the past few years for relaying tales of the walking undead and extraterrestrial invaders for fear of touching off public panic….

In 2013, a farmer in Shandong Province claimed to have encountered five extraterrestrial creatures, one of whom was killed by an electric fence. The farmer’s story, and photos of the purported alien corpse he kept in a freezer, drew widespread attention online. The local authorities investigated and held a news conference to announce that the dead alien was actually made of rubber, Southern Metropolis Daily reported. The farmer was sentenced to five days of detention for disturbing public order, Xinhua reported.

I guess if Orson Welles had pulled his “War of the Worlds” stunt in China, they’d have made him the star of 20,000 Years in Sing Sing instead of Citizen Kane….

(2) Your 2015 Ig Nobel Prize winners include these scientific advancements —

PHYSICS PRIZE — Patricia Yang [USA and TAIWAN], David Hu [USA and TAIWAN], and Jonathan Pham, Jerome Choo [USA], for testing the biological principle that nearly all mammals empty their bladders in about 21 seconds (plus or minus 13 seconds).

REFERENCE: “Duration of Urination Does Not Change With Body Size,” Patricia J. Yang, Jonathan Pham, Jerome Choo, and David L. Hu, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2014: 201402289.

LITERATURE PRIZE — Mark Dingemanse [THE NETHERLANDS, USA], Francisco Torreira [THE NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM, USA], and Nick J. Enfield [AUSTRALIA, THE NETHERLANDS], for discovering that the word “huh?” (or its equivalent) seems to exist in every human language — and for not being quite sure why.

REFERENCE: “Is ‘Huh?’ a universal word? Conversational infrastructure and the convergent evolution of linguistic items,” Mark Dingemanse, Francisco Torreira, and Nick J. Enfield, PLOS ONE, 2013.

(3) “How did George R.R. Martin end up at Janis Ian’s wedding in Toronto?” asks CBC Radio in its post “Janis Ian’s Toronto wedding, where Game of Thrones’ creator was a best man”.

That’s a question we had after reading this Sunday’s New York Times. The newspaper featured a story on the well-known musician’s relationship with Patricia Snyder. It turns out they were the first same-sex couple to be featured in the newspaper’s ‘Vows’ section. You can read more here.

But, it was a photograph published farther down the article that also caught our attention. A short caption reads as follows:

“In 2003, before same-sex marriage was legal in the United States, the couple wed at Toronto’s City Hall. Author of the ‘Game of Thrones’ series George R.R. Martin was best man.”

 

janis-ian-wedding-with-george-r-r-martin

Seated: David Axler, Mike Resnick, Parris McBride, George R.R. Martin. The couple: Janis Ian and Patricia Snyder. The minister is Malcolm St. Clair. Photo by Steve Payne.

This turned out to be a simple why-was-this-celebrity-at-another-celebrity’s-wedding post, not a sly juxtaposition of real life Martin attending a wedding with a reference to the Red Wedding episode of Game of Thrones. That is left as an exercise for cheesy fan bloggers. Oops.

To make up for it, this fan blogger can name all the people in the photo, which the CBC incompletely captions, “In 2003, before same-sex marriage was legal in the United States, the couple wed at Toronto’s City Hall. Author of the ‘Game of Thrones’ series George R. R. Martin, fourth from the left, was a best man. (Steve Payne)”

They are, in order, David Axler, Mike Resnick, Parris McBride, George R.R. Martin. The minister is Malcolm St. Clair.

(4) Lunar rocks brought back by Apollo astronauts have a tendency to change characteristics once scientists start handling them notes a Space.com article “Some Apollo Moon Samples ‘Crumbling to Dust’”

Between 1969 and 1972, Apollo astronauts brought 842 lbs. (382 kilograms) of lunar rocks and dirt back to Earth. Eighty-three percent of that material remains unexamined in nitrogen storage at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Cooper told Space.com via email. The other 17 percent has been allocated to researchers for study in a number of different laboratories….

The most likely explanation for the degradation is damage caused by water vapor, the scientists say.

“Leaching by water vapor causes the specific surface area of a lunar soil sample to multiply, and a system of pores develops,” they wrote in the study, which was published online last week in the journal Nature Geoscience. “These structural changes may be attributed to the opening of existing, but previously unavailable, pore structure or the creation of new surfaces through fracturing of cement or dissolution of amorphous particles.”

The new results suggest that the Apollo soil samples being studied by scientists are not pristine, Cooper said.

“People should not assume that the Apollo lunar soil samples remain representative of soils found in the natural environment of the moon, especially if they have been exposed to air,” she told Space.com via email. “In addition to particle size distribution, other geotechnical properties (such as strength and cohesion) must also have changed. Also, for example, water found in the sample might be taken to be lunar in origin when in fact it is the result of contamination.”

(5) Yesterday I linked to Kameron Hurley’s commentary, from the viewpoint of someone with ascending sales. Today at Mad Genius Club, Pam Uphoff, who hasn’t had the success yet (“my sales had flat-lined”), talks about the jump start she got from the site’s Labor Day Sale.

Umm, how about the book that had just crept past 200 sales in almost three years selling over a hundred in a week? Call me gob smacked. It briefly broke into the top fifty in its sub category. Call me impressed. And that was before the KU pages counts skyrocketed.

(6) Here are more positive numbers about another market segment — “Nielsen Summit Shows the Data Behind the Children’s Book Boom” – from Publisher Weekly.

The book team at Nielsen held its second-annual Children’s Book Summit at Convene in downtown NYC on September 15, to discuss trends found in their data for publishers to make use of, in an effort to better reach consumers. The days’ panels touched on many aspects of the industry, including adult readers of YA, suburban teens, and multicultural consumers.

Jonathan Nowell, president of Nielsen Book, began the day with plenty of figures: for the time period between January 2014 to September 2015, children’s book sales are up 12.6% in the U.S., 28% in Brazil, and 10% in China, with 11 of the 20 bestselling books in the U.S. being children’s titles. The proliferation of tablets has brought the age kids start reading e-books down from seven to five. And board books have seen 20% compound growth over the last three years.

(7) Naturally, the Neil Gaiman Humble Bundle is selling great guns. It went live on September 9 and was raising huge amounts in no time at all.

It’s broken all the previous Humble Bundle records for Books.  As I type this, about 7000 people have already bought the  Bundle. It’s raised $133,000.

The bundle is on sale for four more days.

Gaiman isn’t the only author in it, and the others aren’t necessarily donating their proceeds to charity like he is –

I’m giving my entire portion of Humble Bundle creator-money directly back to the Gaiman Foundation. (My agent Merrilee has donated her fee, too, so 100% of what comes in to me goes to the Foundation.) There are, obviously, other authors and artists and publishers involved. Some have asked for their money to go to charities, and some are, perfectly sensibly, paying the rent and buying food with it.

But no doubt the Gaiman rarities in the bundle are driving sales.

Books that were long out of print, stories and such that collectors would pay hundreds of dollars for, obscure and uncollected comics and pamphlets and magazine articles. Even the things I am still vaguely embarrassed by (like the Duran Duran biography, a hardcover copy of which, as I said, can set you back thousands of dollars these days, if you can find one).

Books which have been out of print for 30 years, like GHASTLY BEYOND BELIEF, a collection of quotations from the strangest SF and Fantasy books and movies that Kim Newman and I made when we were 23 and 24 respectively. Things that were absolutely private and never before sold, like LOVE FISHIE, a book of poems and letters from my daughter Maddy (aged 8) to me, and from me back to Maddy, that was made into a book (with help from my assistant the Fabulous Lorraine) as a gift for my 42nd birthday.

Two long out-of-print books from Knockabout Comics: OUTRAGEOUS TALES FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT and SEVEN DEADLY SINS, with stories written and or drawn by me, Alan Moore, Hunt Emerson, Dave Gibbons, Dave McKean and a host of others.

Rare out-of-print comics stories by me and Bryan Talbot, by me and Mark Buckingham, even by me and Bryan Talbot and Mark Buckingham.

There would be small-press short story & suchlike collections like ANGELS AND VISITATIONS and the LITTLE GOLD BOOK OF GHASTLY STUFF containing stories that went on to win awards and be collected in the more big, official collections (Smoke and Mirrors, etc), and stories no-one has seen since, not to mention non-fiction articles, like the one about the effects of alcohol on a writer, or the one where I stayed out for 24 hours on the streets of Soho, that are now only whispered in rumours.

There would even be a short story of mine, “Manuscript Found in a Milk Bottle”, published in 1985, that is so bad I’ve never let it be reprinted. Not even to give young writers hope that if I was that awful once, there is hope for all of them.

Han Solo mini fridge(8) I need hardly tell you what the Han Solo mini-fridge is a reference to, although this post on Yahoo! Games drops a heavy hint —

 The refrigerator’s design references, of course, the state that the hero is left in at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. Wal-Mart notes that your hibernating Solo fridge is an “official” Star Wars product, and can hold up to six cans of soda.

That silly thing could wind up on my Christmas list….

(9) Rocket Stack Rank (RSR) aims to help casual SF fans efficiently identify, obtain, and discuss great original short fiction to nominate for the annual Hugo Awards.

“My husband and I have created a new website to make it easy for people to find good SF short stories and figure out how to read them online,” explains Gregory Hullender. “Lots of people are setting up sites to recommend stories, but I think we’re the only ones to put a lot of work into helping people find online copies once they’ve decided they wanted to read a particular story.”

Here’s what they’re planning to do.

After witnessing the problems with this year’s Hugo Awards, we decided to create a website to encourage readers of science fiction and fantasy to read and nominate more short fiction. Lots of other people are doing this too, but we specifically wanted to tackle the problem of helping people get copies of short stories, novelettes, and novellas once they decided they wanted to read them.

The three big professional magazines, Analog, Asimov’s, and F&SF are all available online by subscription, but they don’t make it easy to get back-issues online. Our 2015 Magazines page covers just about every possible way to do this, and there are good strategies for people with tablets and smartphones, people with eReaders like Kindles and Kobos, people who want to read everything on their desktop or laptop, and even people who want to stick with print.

Our rating system, on a scale from one to five stars, aims to produce a small “bucket” of five-star stories by the end of the year. These are the stories we think are award-worthy, and there should be few enough of them that a person with limited time could read just that subset and find things worth nominating. Since we’re trying to apply fixed standards rather than hit a particular target, we’re not sure how many there will be in each category, but it won’t be more than a dozen or so.

(10) You can tell Fred Kiesche is Paul Weimer’s friend.

(11) This Screaming Marmot loop needs an caption from File 770 readers. (Via Boing Boing.)

[Thanks to Daniel Monson, Will R., Susan de Guardiola, Gary Farber, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Shambles.]

Women in Sci-Fi Storybundle Available

Kristine Kathryn Rusch has organized a Women in Sci-Fi Storybundle. Pay what you like and get five books. Pay more than $15 and unlock five more books.

Rusch is justly proud –

The women writers in this bundle have written or worked in science fiction for a cumulative 240 years. They have written every kind of sf, from space opera to hard science fiction. They’re all award nominees. Some of them are award winners. They’ve written dozens of bestselling novels. Many of the women in this bundle have written Star Trek tie-in novels. Others have written for popular games. And of course, we’ve written in their own universes. They’re here to share their universes with you.

“I am kinda awed by all of the company,” says participating author Cat Rambo, “and love the fact that Mike Resnick is included in the bundle. He’s been a bit droll about it.” (Resnick and Janis Ian co-edited an anthology in the bundle.)

The five works everybody gets in the bundle are

  • The Phoenix Code by Catherine Asaro
  • Crossfire by Nancy Kress
  • Memory by Linda Nagata
  • Near + Far by Cat Rambo
  • Recovering Apollo 8 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

The five bonus books are –

  • Strong Arm Tactics by Jody Lynn Nye
  • Starfarers by Vonda N. McIntyre
  • The Diving Bundle by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • Forgotten Suns by Judith Tarr
  • Stars – The Anthology by Janis Ian and Mike Resnick

There’s no DRM on any of the books.

Pixel Scroll 7/30 Gonna Scroll the Bones

A lot of material out there because of the Hugo voting deadline tomorrow but if you want more than the three items I included in today’s Scroll then Google is your friend.

(1) Today in History!

1932: Walt Disney released his first color cartoon, “Flowers and Trees,” made in three-color Technicolor.

1976: NASA released the famous “Face on Mars” photo, taken by Viking 1

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter image by its HiRISE camera of the "Face on Mars". Viking Orbiter image inset in bottom right corner.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter image by its HiRISE camera of the “Face on Mars”. Viking Orbiter image inset in bottom right corner.

(2) And Today’s Birthday Boy and Girl – what a coincidence!

Born 1965: J. K. Rowling

Born: Harry Potter (main character of Harry Potter series)

(3) “The Tom-cademy Awards: The Only Awards Show Exclusively for Tom Cruise Movies” is part of a weeklong Cruise-themed series on Grantland. The author anoints Emily Blunt as the Best Supporting Actress of any Cruise movie.

The wonderful thing about EoT is that it’s really funny. It achieves that by not pretending the audience has never seen a time-travel movie. Instead, Edge of Tomorrow claps the audience firmly on the shoulder and, smiling, asks (rhetorically), “Hey, wanna see Tom Cruise get iced?” And, as it turns out, watching The Character Named Tom Cruise getting killed in fun and interesting ways, ways that show just enough exposed cranium to make the exercise mean something, is pretty invigorating.

But! Do we not, paradoxically, also want to see The Character Named Tom Cruise succeed? To save the world and get the girl? Yeah, of course we do. This is Tom Cruise we’re talking about. And it’s Blunt, playing it straight the whole time while kicking a Ripley-in-Aliens level of xenomorph butt, who has to downshift from hero-on-a-recruiting-poster to woman-who-we-kind-of-want-to-see-kiss-Tom-Cruise in order to make Cage’s journey from charming coward to soldier/love interest believable. He’s the hero we deserve, that we also need to see die.

Genre films Minority Report (Best Visual Effects) and Interview With The Vampire (Best Costume Design) also take home the hardware.

(4) Janis Ian, who now writes in the sf field, has her own Bill Cosby story from when she was a teenager preparing to sing her hit song on The Smothers Brothers show in 1967.

“No, I was not sexually bothered by Bill Cosby,” said Ian in a Facebook post Tuesday, reacting to a New York magazine report featuring 35 women who accuse Cosby of sexual impropriety.

In her post, Ian accused Cosby of publicly outing her as a lesbian, based on a chance meeting backstage at a television show.

“Cosby was right in one thing. I am gay. Or bi, if you prefer, since I dearly loved the two men I lived with over the years. My tilt is toward women, though, and he was right about that.”

(5) On to tamer subjects – the Worldcon business meeting. Kevin Standlee hopes to discourage complaints while rewarding the reader’s attention with a good discussion of why meetings adopt Roberts Rules or the equivalent:

The reason that parliamentary procedure is complex is that it’s trying to balance a bunch of contradictory rights. If you’re someone who is convinced that your personal, individual right to speak for as long as you want and as many times at you want trumps the rights of the group to be able to finish the discussion and reach a decision in a reasonable time, well, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever be happy with any rules that allow for limits on debate. If you’re someone who has no patience with debate and just wants the Strong Man to Make Decisions, you’ll never be pleased with rules that allow for people to debate and reach a group decision through voting….

And he invites your help to improve how WSFS meetings are run.

WSFS rules are complicated because the people who attend the meetings have effectively voted for complexity, but also because some of the complexity is required to protect the rights of members, both individually and in groups, and including the members who aren’t even at the meeting. If you have a better way for deciding how we should run things, the onus is on you to propose something. As long as you just complain that “it’s too complicated,” without proposing something both easier and workable, don’t expect to be taken seriously.

(6 ) Russell Blackford on Metamagician and the Hellfire Club delivers “The Hugo Awards – 2015 – Summation”.

Even if there is a legitimate grain of truth somewhere amongst the complaints of the Sad Puppies group, their actions have led to an exceptionally weak Hugo field this year and to some specific perverse outcomes. If the Sad Puppies campaigners merely thought that there is a “usual suspects” tendency in recent Hugo nomination lists, and that politically conservative authors are often overlooked in recent times, they could have simply argued their case based on evidence. Likewise, they could have taken far wiser, far more moderate – far less destructive – actions to identify some genuinely outstanding works that might otherwise have been missed. What we saw this year, with politicised voting on an unprecedented scale, approached the level of sabotaging the awards. I repeat my hope that the Sad Puppies campaign will not take place next year, at least in anything like the same form. If it does, my attitude will definitely harden. I’ve been rather mild about the Sad Puppies affair compared to many others in SF fandom, and I think I can justify that, but enough is enough.

I really can’t understand how Blackford processes the ethics of the 2015 situation, this being the third go-round for Sad Puppies, that “enough” had not happened already to warrant a stronger expression of his disapproval, but a fourth iteration will.

(7) The shortest “fisking” in history — Larry Correia strikes back at Sad Puppies references in The New Yorker’s Delany interview The boldfaced sentences below are literally 66% of what he had to say.

The ensuing controversy has been described, by Jeet Heer in the New Republic, as “a cultural war over diversity,” since the Sad Puppies, in their pushback against perceived liberals and experimental writers, seem to favor the work of white men.

Diversity my ass. Last years winners were like a dozen white liberals and one Asian liberal and they hailed that as a huge win for diversity. 

Delany said he was dismayed by all this, but not surprised. “The context changes,” he told me, “but the rhetoric remains the same.”

Well, that’s a stupid conclusion. 

Alert the bugler to blow “Taps” over the fallen standards of Correia fisks….

(8) Cheryl Morgan tells fans don’t give up.

Look, there will be some weird stuff in the results this year. There may well be a few No Awards given out, and possibly some really bad works winning awards. It is not as if that hasn’t happened before, though perhaps not in the same quantities. On the other hand, people are talking about the Hugos much more this year than they ever have before, and in many more high profile places. In addition vastly more people have bought supporting memberships, and we are looking at a record number of people participating in the final ballot. All of those people will be eligible to nominate next year. This isn’t the way I would have liked to get that result, but it is a result all the same.

(9) John Scalzi realized he would have a more restful day if instead of discussing the Hugos he spent his time doing computer maintenance.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, David K.M. Klaus and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit to File 770 contributing editor Soon Lee.]

2015 Audie Award Finalists

The Audio Publishers Association (APA) has announced the 2015 Audie Awards finalists. The Audies are given in 30 categories for spoken word entertainment.

Here follow the genre category finalists, and other categories containing names of interest to genre fans.

AUDIO DRAMA

  • Anne Manx and the Blood Chase; by Larry Weiner; Narrated by Claudia Christian, Moira Kelly, Patricia Tallman, with full cast; RRCA
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles; by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle adapted by David Pichette and R. Hamilton Wright; Narrated by Geoffrey Arend, Wilson Bethel, Seamus Dever, Sarah Drew, Henri Lubatti, James Marsters, Christopher Neame, Moira Quirk, Darren Richardson; L.A. Theatre Works
  • Mistborn: The Final Empire; by Brandon Sanderson; Narrated by Terence Aselford, Kimberly Gilbert, David Jourdan and a full cast; Graphic Audio® A Movie in Your Mind®
  • The Swords of Riverside; by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman; Narrated by Ellen Kushner, Barbara Rosenblat, Katherine Kellgren, Dion Graham, Simon Jones, et al.; SueMedia Productions for Neil Gaiman / ACX
  • Under Drake’s Flag; by G.A. Henty; Narrated by Brian Blessed; Heirloom Audio Productions

CHILDREN’S TITLES FOR AGES 8-12

  • The Graveyard Book; by Neil Gaiman; Narrated by Derek Jacobi, Neil Gaiman, Robert Madge, Clare Corbett, Miriam Margolyes, Andrew Scott, and Julian Rhind-Tutt; HarperAudio
  • The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw; by Christopher Healy; Narrated by Bronson Pinchot; HarperAudio
  • How to Catch a Bogle; by Catherine Jinks; Narrated by Mandy Williams; Listening Library
  • A Snicker of Magic; by Natalie Lloyd; Narrated by Cassandra Morris; Scholastic Audio
  • Unstoppable Octobia May; by Sharon G. Flake; Narrated by Bahni Turpin; Scholastic Audio

CHILDREN’S TITLES FOR AGES UP TO 8

  • Deep in the Swamp; by Donna M. Bateman; Narrated by Tom Chapin; Live Oak Media
  • Follow, Follow; by Marilyn Singer; Narrated by Marilyn Singer & Joe Morton; Live Oak Media
  • H.O.R.S.E.; by Christopher Myers; Narrated by Christopher Myers and Dion Graham; Live Oak Media
  • Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker; by Patricia Hruby Powell; Narrated by Lizan Mitchell; Recorded Books
  • This Is Not My Hat; by Jon Klassen; Narrated by John Keating; Weston Woods
  • Timeless Tales of Beatrix Potter; by Beatrix Potter; Narrated by Katherine Kellgren; Tantor Media

FANTASY

  • Cress; by Marissa Meyer; Narrated by Rebecca Soler; Macmillan Audio
  • The Emperor’s Blades; by Brian Staveley; Narrated by Simon Vance; Brilliance Publishing
  • Hawk; by Steven Brust; Narrated by Bernard Setaro Clark; Audible, Inc.
  • The Queen of the Tearling; by Erika Johansen; Narrated by Katherine Kellgren; HarperAudio
  • Words of Radiance; by Brandon Sanderson; Narrated by Kate Reading and Michael Kramer; Macmillan Audio

MULTI–VOICED PERFORMANCE

  • The Anatomy Lesson; by Nina Siegal; Narrated by Adam Alexi-Malle, Peter Altschuler, Emma Jayne Appleyard, Hannah Curtis, Gildart Jackson, Bruce Mann, Steve West; Penguin Random House Audio
  • The Graveyard Book; by Neil Gaiman; Narrated by Derek Jacobi, Neil Gaiman, Robert Madge, Clare Corbett, Miriam Margolyes, Andrew Scott, and Julian Rhind-Tutt; HarperAudio
  • Land of Love and Drowning; by Tiphanie Yanique; Narrated by Cherise Boothe, Korey Jackson, Rachel Leslie, Myra Lucretia Taylor; Recorded Books
  • A Long Time Gone; by Karen White; Narrated by Susan Bennett, Jennifer Ikeda, and Pilar Witherspoon; Recorded Books
  • The Sixteenth of June; by Maya Lang; Narrated by Julia Whelan, Will Damron, and MacLeod Andrews; Brilliance Publishing
  • Stars: Original Stories Based on the Songs of Janis Ian; by Janis Ian (editor), Mike Resnick; Narrated by Janis Ian, Emily Rankin, Gabrielle du Cuir, John Rubinstein, Kathe Mazur, Kristoffer Tabori, Paul Boehmer, Sile Bermingham, Stefan Rudnicki and Susan Hanfield; Audible, Inc.

PARANORMAL

  • Damoren; by Seth Skorkowsky; Narrated by R.C. Bray; Audible, Inc.
  • The Girl with All the Gifts; by M.R. Carey; Narrated by Finty Williams; Hachette Audio
  • Pleasure of a Dark Prince; by Kresley Cole; Narrated by Robert Petkoff; Simon & Schuster
  • A Second Chance; by Jodi Taylor; Narrated by Zara Ramm; Audible, Inc.
  • Suffer the Children; by Craig Dilouie; Narrated by R.C. Bray; Tantor Media
  • Yesterday’s Gone, Season One; by Sean Platt, David Wright; Narrated by R.C. Bray, Chris Patton, Brian Holsopple, Ray Chase, Maxwell Glick, Tamara Marston; Podium Publishing

SCIENCE FICTION

  • The Beam: Season 1; by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant; Narrated by Johnny Heller, Tara Sands, Ralph Lister, Ray Chase, R.C. Bray, Jeffrey Kafer, Chris Patton, Eric Martin, Brian Holsopple, Rachel Fulginiti, Stephen Bowlby, and Emily Woo Zeller; Podium Publishing
  • Dark Eden; by Chris Beckett; Narrated by Matthew Frow, Jayne Entwistle, Ione Butler, Hannah Curtis, Robert Hook, Bruce Mann, Nicholas Guy Smith, and Heather Wilds; Penguin Random House Audio
  • The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August; by Claire North; Narrated by Peter Kenny; Hachette Audio
  • Lock In; by John Scalzi; Narrated by Wil Wheaton, Amber Benson, and a full cast; Audible, Inc.
  • The Martian; by Andy Weir; Narrated by R.C. Bray; Podium Publishing

SHORT STORIES/COLLECTIONS

  • The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher; by Hilary Mantel; Narrated by Jane Carr; Macmillan Audio
  • Dangerous Women; by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois; Narrated by Claudia Black, Scott Brick, Karen Dotrice, Jonathan Frakes, Iain Glen, Janis Ian, Stana Katic, Inna Korobkina, Jenna Lamia, Lee Meriwether, Emily Rankin, Maggi-Meg Reed, Fred Sanders, Allan Scott-Douglas, Sophie Turner, Harriet Walter, Jake Weber; Penguin Random House Audio
  • Faceoff; Edited by David Baldacci. Written by Linwood Barclay, Steve Berry, Lee Child, Lincoln Child, Michael Connelly, Jeffery Deaver, Linda Fairstein, Joseph Finder, Lisa Gardner, Heather Graham, Peter James, Raymond Khoury, Dennis Lehane, John Lescroart, Steve Martini, T. Jefferson Parker, Douglas Preston, Ian Rankin, James Rollins, M. J. Rose, John Sandford, R.L. Stine, F. Paul Wilson; Narrated by Dylan Baker, Dennis Boutsikaris, Jeremy Bobb, Daniel Gerroll, January LaVoy, with David Baldacci; Simon & Schuster
  • Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths; by Bernard Evslin; Narrated by Todd Haberkorn; Graymalkin Media
  • The Legend of Drizzt: The Collected Stories; by R. A. Salvatore; Narrated by Dan Harmon, Danny Pudi, Al Yankovic, Felicia Day, Greg Gurnberg, Melissa Rauch, Michael Chiklis, Sean Astin, Tom Felton, David Duchovny, Ice T, and Wil Wheaton; Audible, Inc.
  • The Wily O’Reilly: Irish Country Stories; by Patrick Taylor; Narrated by John Keating; Macmillan Audio

SOLO NARRATION — MALE

  • Hamlet, Prince of Denmark; by A.J. Hartley and David Hewson; Narrated by Richard Armitage; Audible, Inc.
  • The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw; by Christopher Healy; Narrated by Bronson Pinchot; HarperAudio
  • The Martian; by Andy Weir; Narrated by R.C. Bray; Podium Publishing
  • Mr. Mercedes; by Stephen King; Narrated by Will Patton; Simon & Schuster
  • The Other Story; by Tatiana de Rosnay; Narrated by Simon Vance; Macmillan Audio
  • Radiance of Tomorrow; by Ishmael Beah; Narrated by Dion Graham; Macmillan Audio

THRILLER/SUSPENSE

  • The Avengers, Lost Episodes Vol 1: Hot Snow; Adapted by John Dorney; Narrated by Various; Big Finish Productions
  • Dead Six; by Larry Correia and Mike Kupari; Narrated by Bronson Pinchot; Audible, Inc.
  • In the Morning I’ll Be Gone; by Adrian McKinty; Narrated by Gerard Doyle; Blackstone Audio Inc.
  • The Lost Key; by Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison; Narrated by Renee Raudman and MacLeod Andrews; Brilliance Publishing
  • Those Who Wish Me Dead; by Michael Koryta; Narrated by Robert Petkoff; Hachette Audio
  • Wayfaring Stranger; by James Lee Burke; Narrated by Will Patton; Simon & Schuster

Finalists for two special awards, Distinguished Achievement in Production and Audiobook of the Year will be announced in April. The winners will be announced May 28.

Opening Moves in Ender’s Game

When Ender’s Game takes its turn in San Diego Comic Con’s Hall H this Thursday, Harrison Ford will appear with producer Bob Orci, director Gavin Hood, and co-stars Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, and Abigail Breslin.

Orson Scott Card will be somewhere else.

Card’s brand now is as much identified with his anti-gay rhetoric as with his award-winning fiction, and in his capacity as a director of the National Organization for Marriage he is a leading opponent of same-sex marriage laws. He is a target of protestors, who succeeded in running Card off a Superman comic he’d been signed to do for DC. Now they are building support for a boycott of the movie based on Card’s novel due out in November.

Since witnessing the Superman debacle movie executives have decided they need to keep Card away from this year’s Comic Con. The Hollywood Reporter concluded —

Promoting Ender’s Game without Card would be like trying to promote the first Harry Potter movie without J.K. Rowling. But having Card appear in the main ballroom in front of 6,500 fans could prove a liability if he’s forced to tackle the issue head-on during the Q&A session.

However, the latest efforts to avert bad publicity for Ender’s Game display none of Hollywood’s usual flair for faking sincerity. Consider two statements released last week.

Orson Scott Card himself tried to separate the story from the contemporary political landscape in a statement rife with the odor of special pleading:

Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984.

With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot.  The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state.

Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.

The distributor, Lionsgate Entertainment, identified itself as “proud longtime supporters of the LGBT community” and asserted —

[We] obviously do not agree with the personal views of Orson Scott Card and those of the National Organization for Marriage. However, they are completely irrelevant to a discussion of Ender’s Game. The simple fact is that neither the underlying book nor the film itself reflect these views in any way, shape or form.

The company even promised to host a benefit premiere for Ender’s Game. Proponents of the boycott at Geeks Out were quick to spurn the offer as a cynical business maneuver:

A benefit premiere, indeed any outreach to the LGBT community by Lionsgate, ought to be much appreciated. What’s clear is that whether or not they support his views, Lionsgate is standing by their man and their would-be blockbuster. They made the common, perhaps cynical, calculation that audiences wouldn’t connect Ender’s Game with Card’s very public homophobia—or wouldn’t care. Geeks OUT appreciates that most American families work for every dollar and care deeply about where that money goes and what it supports.

Geeks Out urged readers to go to its new Skip Ender’s Game site and sign a pledge to spend no money on the movie:

Skip Ender’s Game is a call to action. Do NOT see this movie! Do not buy a ticket at the theater, do not purchase the DVD, do not watch it on-demand. Ignore all merchandise and toys. However much you may have admired his books, keep your money out of Orson Scott Card’s pockets.

The NY Times reports only around 2,000 people had signed up in the site’s first 6 days online. Geeks Out says hundreds more are signing each day. Even so, that is not a material part of the movie’s potential audience.

Despite the studio keeping him away from Comic Con, Orson Scott Card has been busy reasserting his identification with Ender’s Game. This month production began on a 6-hour audioplay Ender’s Game Alive to be published by Audible.com – which Card calls the definitive version of his story. More than 30 actors voice over 100 characters, with Kirby Heyborne as Ender Wiggin, Emily Rankin (Orson Scott Card’s daughter) as Bean, Alison Bews as Hot Soup and Jim Meskimen as Dink Meeker.

Providing four or five other voices in the spoken-word recording are Harlan Ellison and Janis Ian.

Ellison’s participation came up in John Rabe’s interview for the Pasadena NPR outlet. Ellison frankly disapproved Card’s views, though said he still found him personally likeable:

[Some of Card’s opinions are] wrong, ultimately destructive, anti-human and anti-peaceful. But he’s never done me any harm. And he’s a smart guy…. What Scott Card believes is what Scott Card believes, and what I believe is something entirely different.

At a public appearance over the weekend the writer angrily objected to the way his comments had been used, for in addition to posting the full 15-minute interview, the station cut a separate 2-minute excerpt of Ellison’s responses about Card and drove traffic to it with a headline “SF author Harlan Ellison on juvenile delinquents, gays and Orson Scott Card” as if he was part of the controversy. (“Juvenile delinquents” because of the signing party for two early Ellison novels reprinted by Kicks Books.)

Ellison feels he is able to relate to his friend Scott Card without agreeing with his views, an attitude not uncommon among sf writers of his generation whether on the left or right. But the shame-and-shun culture of the internet doesn’t accept that as an option, feeling it is more than a petty inconsistency.

Ender’s Game Alive promotional videos. (1) Harlan Ellison and Janis Ian end their recording session with a selfie.

(2) Author Orson Scott Card discusses the creation of the audioplay for Ender’s Game Alive.

[Thanks to Steven H Silver, John King Tarpinian and Andrew Porter for the story.]