Pixel Scroll 12/13/20 It’s The Pixel To Scroll When You’re Scrolling More Than One

(1) THE VALUE IN EXPERIMENTING. Nino Cipri offers some sff writing pointers. Thread starts here.

(2) BABY FOOD. Beware spoilers – but not spoilage: ‘The Mandalorian’ Season 2: A Baby Yoda food diary”) in the LA Times.

Babies have to eat — and Grogu is no different.

During the second season of “The Mandalorian,” Grogu, long referred to by fans as Baby Yoda, has been shown eating everything from a froglike alien’s eggs to fancy blue cookies. The popular Disney+ series could easily spawn a spinoff called “The Best Thing Baby Yoda Ever Ate.”

As of the seventh episode of Season 2, titled “The Believer,” Baby Yoda remains a captive of Moff Gideon and his Imperial forces. Hopefully, the Empire remembers to feed its prisoners, because Grogu is one hungry baby, if previous episodes are anything to go by.

Until Mando and Baby Yoda are reunited (and hopefully throw a celebratory feast), here’s a look back at everything Baby Yoda has been seen eating during the show so far.

(3) DINO TIMES. The Los Angeles Public Library did an “Interview With an Author: David Gerrold” about his new novel Hella.

How did the novel evolve and change as you wrote and revised it? Are there any characters or scenes that were lost in the process that you wish had made it to the published version?

I had a first draft that sat on my computer for a couple of years. It wasn’t bad, but it needed a polish. And the ending was unsatisfying. I offered it to Betsy Wollheim at DAW. I really admire her. She understands the genre better than most because she grew up in it. Her dad, Donald A. Wollheim, was one of the most underrated movers and shakers in the field. She suggested that I rethink the ending and I came up with a much stronger resolution, one that was a much better payoff. So I have to give her the credit for making Hella a better book.

(4) PRO TIP. In Isaac Asimov’s autobiography In Memory Yet Green he discusses how he continued to write letters in the pages of science fiction magazines even after he became a professional.

I began to enjoy less the writing of letters.  Yet I did write them, and often quarreled with writers who objected to something or other in one of my stories–until I received a letter from the writer Nelson S. Bond (whom I met briefly at the World Convention in 1939, and never again), saying that now that I was a professional, I should stop slugging it out in fan columns.  I took that seriously and from the moment I received that letter, I stopped writing letters to the magazines, except for very occasional ones that did not involve fannish comments.  I have always been grateful to Bond for this word in season.

(5) TWO FIFTHS. Thanks to Jim Henley for this fine example of a File 770 trope – double fifths!

(6) ANOTHER FIVE. Speaking of the magic number, James Davis Nicoll knows “Five Novels About the World After the End of the World”.

While nostalgia has had a place in tabletop roleplaying games ever since the field was old enough to have second editions—remember when tabletop roleplaying game nostalgia was new?—the recent Twilight 2000 Kickstarter is remarkable for the speed at which the project hit its funding goals: just seven minutes, a bit longer than it would take missiles launched from the Soviet Union to reach Britain.

First published in 1984, Twilight 2000 took as its background a mid-1990s Soviet-Chinese conflict that spiraled into a global war when East and West Germany tried to use Soviet distraction to reunify. By 2000 all sides are too exhausted to continue. Most campaigns begin as the war stumbles to a chaotic, exhausted halt.

T:2000 might seem to be an odd game to be nostalgic about. Perhaps it is a reflection of the Jason Mendoza principle: “Anytime I had a problem and I threw a Molotov cocktail, boom! Right away, I had a different problem.” …

(7) CHINA’S COSPLAY RESTRICTIONS. “China cracks down on cleavage at cosplay convention”CNN has the story.

Organizers of Asia’s largest digital entertainment expo — where scantily clad models usually dress up as characters from comic books, movies and video games — say they will levy a fine of $800 on women who reveal “more than two centimeters of cleavage.”

Men are not exempt from the crackdown on exposed flesh.

They will face the same penalty if they wear low-hanging pants or expose their underwear. If models are caught dancing in cages or around a pole they will be fined a whopping $1,600, as will anyone caught striking vulgar poses.

It’s the latest example of what appears to be a government campaign for stricter morality in China.

A New York Times story on December 11 collected other examples in “Two soccer teams showed up to play. One lost because of hair dye” (repeated here by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel):

Under China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, the Communist Party’s creeping interference on the smallest details of Chinese life is being felt more and more. Censors have blurred the bejeweled earlobes of young male pop stars on television and the internet so that, in their mind, the piercings and jewelry don’t set a bad example for boys. Women in costumes at a video game convention were told to raise their necklines.

(8) BATMAN ’66 AND OTHER VINTAGE TV OPINIONS. [Item by Todd Mason.]  From 1966: “At Issue; 65; What’s Happening to Television?” This episode of the monthly series from National Educational Television makes its points, sometimes less tellingly than its creators think it does, but writer Morton Silverstein and some of those interviewed sure get their boots in on Batman, the ABC series, to a remarkable degree. Also, the blithe use of “drama” to refer only to anthology series that don’t have a slant toward one established program category or another beyond that concept. Interesting to those who are students of popular culture and news medium self-justification.

“What’s Happening to Television?” is the topic explored by no fewer than twenty-two top personalities allied to the television industry. This hour program in National Educational Television’s “At Issue” series presents timely and critical observations on daily programs, news, TV ratings, government regulations and the role of advertising. “What’s Happening to Television?” is analyzed by network executives, news commentators, advertising people, writers and critics. They comment on the growth of television, from its infant days to its present giant development, when more than 35 million Americans watch their sets for some 3 hours daily. “What’s Happening to Television?” looks back into TV history, analyzing some of the early successes, commenting on present programs, and giving the viewer a glimpse of next fall’s offerings. Some of the questions discussed include: Will television ever live up to its potential? What is the real purpose? Who determines which programs are dropped? What is the role of the program sponsors? Is the public interest being protected? Is educational television the answer to more worthy programs? What can the viewer do to control the quality of programs coming into the family living room? 

(9) GALANTER OBIT. Star Trek author Dave Galanter (1969-2020) died of cancer on December 12. Galanter has authored (or coauthored with collaborator Greg Brodeur) such Star Trek projects as Voyager: Battle Lines, the Next Generation duology Maximum WarpThe Original Series novels Crisis of Consciousness and Troublesome Minds, and numerous works of short Star Trek fiction.

(10) LE CARRE OBIT. The author of the George Smiley novels has fallen to pneumonia: “John le Carre, who probed murky world of spies, dies at 89” reports the AP News. He died December 12.

“John le Carre has passed at the age of 89. This terrible year has claimed a literary giant and a humanitarian spirit,” tweeted novelist Stephen King. Margaret Atwood said: “Very sorry to hear this. His Smiley novels are key to understanding the mid-20th century.”

…After university, which was interrupted by his father’s bankruptcy, he taught at the prestigious boarding school Eton before joining the foreign service.

Officially a diplomat, he was in fact a “lowly” operative with the domestic intelligence service MI5 —he’d started as a student at Oxford — and then its overseas counterpart MI6, serving in Germany, on the Cold War front line, under the cover of second secretary at the British Embassy.

His first three novels were written while he was a spy, and his employers required him to publish under a pseudonym. He remained “le Carre” for his entire career. He said he chose the name — square in French — simply because he liked the vaguely mysterious, European sound of it….

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • December 13, 2002 — On this date in 2002, Star Trek: Nemesis premiered. It directed by Stuart Baird and produced by Rick Berman from the screenplay by John Logan as developed from the story by John Logan, Rick Berman and Brent Spiner. It was the fourth and final film to feature the Next Generation cast. It received decidedly mixed reviews, was a full-blown box disaster but currently has a decent fifty percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 13, 1909 – Alan Barclay.  Five novels, two dozen shorter stories; essays “Interplanetary Navigation” in New Worlds SF, “The Bow” in SF Adventures.  “The Scapegoat” is in New Worlds SF 105 which has this neato Sydney Jordan cover.  (Died 1991) [JH]
  • Born December 13, 1923 – Faith Jaques.  Six covers, eight interiors for us.  Here is Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator and here is an interior.  Here is “The Flirtation of Two Mice”.  Outside our field I know her for this; and here are some Christmas Waits.  (Died 1997) [JH]
  • Born December 13, 1929 Christopher Plummer, 91. Let’s see… Does Rudyard Kipling in The Man Who Would Be King count? If not, The Return of the Pink Panther does. That was followed by Starcrash, a space opera I suspect hardly anyone saw which was also the case with Somewhere in Time.  Now Dreamscape was fun and well received.   Skipping now to General Chang in Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country. Opinions everyone? I know I’ve mixed feelings on Chang.  I see he’s in Twelve Monkeys which I’m not a fan of and I’ve not seen The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus yet. (CE) 
  • Born December 13, 1940 – Ken Mitchell, age 80.  Co-founded the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild and the S Playwrights Center.  A novel, a shorter story, two covers for us (here is The Tomorrow Connection); six other novels, a dozen plays.  Retired from the Univ. Regina English Department, tours as a cowboy poet.  Order of Canada.  Saskatchewan Order of Merit.  [JH]
  • Born December 13, 1945 – Drew Mendelson, age 75.  Two novels, half a dozen shorter stories.  Maybe Cora Buhlert can explain why “Once I Built a Railroad” was translated as »Einst baute ich eine Eisenbahn« which means Once I built a railroad but Pilgrimage was translated as Die vergessenen Zonen der Stadt which isn’t a bad title for it but doesn’t mean Pilgrimage.  [JH]
  • Born December 13, 1949 R.A. MacAvoy, 71. Winner of the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. I’m very, very fond of her Black Dragon series, Tea with the Black Dragon and Twisting the Rope. The only other thing I’ve read of hers is The Book of Kells so, do tell me about her other works. (CE) 
  • Born December 13, 1954 Tamora Pierce, 66. Her first book series, The Song of the Lioness, took her character Alanna through the trials of training as a knight; it sold very well and was well received by readers. She would win in 2005 the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction, a rare honor indeed. (CE)
  • Born December 13, 1954 Emma Bull, 66. Writer of three of the best genre novels ever, Bone Dance: A Fantasy for TechnophilesFinder: A Novel of The Borderlands and War for The Oaks. Will Shetterly, her husband and author of a lot of really cool genre works, decided to make a trailer which you can download if you want. Just ask me.  She’s also been in in a number of neat bands, one that has genre significance that being Cat Laughing which has Stephen Brust, Adam Stemple, son of Jane Yolen, and John M. Ford either as musicians or lyricists. They came back together after a long hiatus at MiniCon 50. Again just ask me and I’ll make this music available along with that of Flash Girls which she was also in. (CE) 
  • Born December 13, 1960 – José Eduardo Agalusa Alves da Cunha, age 60.  (Agalusa the maternal, Alves da Cunha the paternal surname, Portuguese style.)  Two novels for us: The Society of Reluctant Dreamers just appeared in English, 2019; The Book of Chameleons won the Independent Foreign Fiction prize); a dozen others, shorter stories, plays, poetry, journalism, radio.  Int’l Dublin Literary Award.  [JH]
  • Born December 13, 1969 Tony Curran, 51. Vincent van Gogh in two Eleventh Doctor stories, “Vincent and the Doctor” and “The Pandorica Opens”, the latter as a cameo. He’s had vampire roles in Blade II as Priest and Underworld: Evolution as Markus, and was Lt. Delcourt in The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn to name but a few of his myriad genre roles. (CE) 
  • Born December 13, 1978 – Lee Isserow, age 42.  A score of novels, a dozen shorter stories for us; screenwriting; and the terrifying ABAM project, which means – yes – A Book A Month.  Has read not only Breakfast of Champions but The Master and Margarita.  [JH]
  • Born December 13, 1984 Amal El-Mohtar, 36. Canadian editor and writer. Winner of Hugo Awards for Best Short Story for “Seasons of Glass and Iron” at WorldCon 75 and  Best Novella for “This Is How You Lose the Time War” at CoNZealand (with Max Gladstone). (The latter got a BSFA and a Nebula as well.) She’s also garnered a Nebula Award  for “Madeleine“, a World Fantasy Award for “Pockets” and a World Fantasy Award for “Seasons of Glass and Iron”. Impressive. She has edited the fantastic poetry quarterly Goblin Fruit magazine for the past four years. (CE) 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • In The Far Side, it looks like the coroner’s office has already picked up this extra sized decedent.
  • And in another entry of The Far Side, they also walk dogs.

(14) IMAGINARY GIFT SHOP. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Washington Post had a short feature where they asked writers to “dream up the presents that they’d love to parcel out this year but don’t exist.”  Ken Liu says he wants a phone-sized device he can point at tweeters to see whether they are arguing in good faith or just being a troll.  Ted Chiang says he wished the Web had evolved into a subscription-based servie where people paid for sites they visited with money instead of personal data. “A guide to gifts that don’t exist but should”.

(15) THE ANSWER IS BOOKS. Of more practical use, “A gift guide for the fans of science fiction, fantasy and horror books in your life” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Lavie Tidhar in the Washington Post.

It’s that time of the year when the nights grow long, the air grows cold, the festive lights go up and the year’s best books lists are sprouting like mushrooms after the rain. But will any of them help you find that perfect book-gift for your friends who love science fiction, fantasy and horror? If not, we’re here to help….

(16) THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY. Camestros Felapton is highly entertaining with “My new pointless Star Wars theory”.

The issue that had been bugging me was the inconsistent way of travelling between planets. In the films but also in The Mandalorian (less so in cartoons), characters fly in space ships between planets in two ways:

  • Using hyperspace as faster than light travel.
  • Using sub-light speed engines….

But now he has it all figured out!

(17) YES, VIRGINIA, THERE WAS A WRITER NAMED G. K. CHESTERTON? At CrimeReads, Olivia Rutigliano contends “Famed mystery writer G.K. Chesterton proudly, sincerely believed in Santa Claus”.

… Chesterton’s applied his penchant for logic in this article on “Santa Claus.” Along with providing a short history of the figure of Santa Claus in popular culture (particularly his origins, as the gift-wielding St. Nicholas of Bari in Medieval iconography), Chesterton offered a simple proposition: that a child’s ultimately ceasing to believe in Santa Claus, justified by the fact that Santa Claus is not real, is a precursor to that child’s ceasing to believe in God. And this, Chesterton explained, was a terrible phenomenon.

And then he admitted a surprising detail: “I startled some honest Protestants lately by telling them that, though I am (unfortunately) no longer a child, I do most definitely believe in Santa Claus.”

Elaborating on this decidedly ‘hot take,’ Chesterton stressed that he felt it was critical for children to believe in Santa Claus even after Santa Claus has been debunked as a real, flesh-and-blood man, because the Santa Claus that children know is ultimately a caricature of an actual saint; just because, Chesterton argued, he is not real to their eyes does not mean that he is not a genuine, spiritual entity….

(18) FIREFLY CHARACTER AS ILLUSTRATION OF PTSD. “SERENITY and Coping with Trauma” from Cinema Therapy on YouTube.

What happens when you’re kidnapped from your family, tortured, and conditioned into being an assassin? You get River Tam. And also Alan, apparently. Therapist Jonathan Decker and filmmaker Alan Seawright discuss what we can learn about coping with trauma from Summer Glau’s character River in Serenity and Firefly. They break down some of the symptoms of PTSD she exhibits, and some of the things that help her work through them and start healing. Even though most of us don’t live in a sci-fi future with space ships, space zombies, and space cowboys (along with psychics and lots of other fun), we can still learn a thing or two about how to heal from and deal with the trauma we do face in real life.

(19) ZOOMING THROUGH FANHISTORY. Fanac.org is planning a series of Zoom Interactive Fan History Sessions.

For our first session, Rob Hansen is going to give us an historic tour of fannish Holborn, London. Rob is probably the most accomplished fan historian writing these days. As most of you know, he has written the history of British fandom, Then and has put together a number of books covering various aspects of British fandom. Find many of them here. Reserve the date: Saturday, December 19, 2020 at 11AM EDT.

Despite the pandemic, Rob has done video recordings around London, and with historic photos and live description will give us a tour that covers some household fannish names and places. He has worked with Edie [Stern] over the past several months to provide an interesting and fairly detailed coverage of London’s fan heritage. This one-hour session is based on tours which Rob has given to individual fans and also developed as a group tour after the last London Worldcon. Even if you have been on one of these tours, you will find some fresh sights and insights. Of course, Rob will be live on Zoom with additional material and to answer questions.  Please send your RSVP to fanac@fanac.org as our Zoom service is limited to 100 participants.

(20) BEYOND INFINITY. Disney+ dropped a trailer for What if….? an alternate-universe animated series.

(21) MARTIANS AT THE NEW YORK TIMES. [Item by David Goldfarb.] The New York Times puzzle page has a game called “Letter Boxed”, in which you make words out of letters arranged around a square. The idea is to use all the letters with as few words as possible: there is always a two-word solution. The two-word solution for Saturday 12/12 was “Visualizing – Grok”.

(22) EDUCATE YOURSELF. Ursula Vernon ladles out more life experience. Thread starts here.

(23) RUN TO DAYLIGHT. SYFY Wire learned that “Spiders get thrown off spinning webs in zero-G…unless they have light”.

It’s one small step for insects, eight steps for spider-kind.

“Arachnauts” flown to the ISS have revealed their secret backup plan when they can’t use gravity to figure out where they are when spinning their webs. Earth’s gravity is what normally helps them make a web optimal for catching dinner—and position themselves in it. Lamps accidentally placed above the spider experiment showed that when the arachnids lose their orientation in microgravity, they use light to find their way again….  

(24) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Hulk (2003) Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says that people who watched the 2003 Hulk expecting that Hulk would smash things will be disappointed by the first 45 minutes, which consist of nothing but brooding and that few people will be excited by the scenes where Hulk beats up a Hulkified French poodle.

[Thanks to Jim Henley, David Goldfarb, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Contrarius, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Pixel Scroll 10/23/16 Earth Scrolls Are Easy

(1) LE GUIN HEALTH NEWS. Ursula K. Le Guin, who was hospitalized for a few days this summer with heart problems, gave a health update in a comment at Book View Café on October 22.

The kindness of these messages is wonderful.  I wish I could thank you each. I can only thank you all with all my heart.

Health update: My daily bouquet of medicines with weird names is definitely doing its job.   Am quite recovered from the bad time, and get along fine if I don’t push it. My model of behavior is the Sloth.  Can’t hang from branches yet, but am real good at moving slo o o w w l y . . .

Best wishes to all my well-wishers.

(2) STARSHIPS IN OUR LIFETIME. Starship Engineer Workshops are being offered in London on November 12-13.

For further information or to book contact the team at: info@i4is.org  for more details.  For the full promotional flyer: http://i4is.org/app/webroot/uploads/files/SE_A4_Nov2016%20(AM)%20Vers%202.pdf

The Initiative for Interstellar Studies in collaboration with the British Interplanetary Society will deliver an updated Starship Engineer workshop course. Two one day courses, either attend one or both, each will be different and important in their own way.

12th November: Starship Engineer.  Aims to give a grounding in interstellar studies. It starts from considering the essential requirements to giving you an overview of different spacecraft systems, then takes you on a journey through several actual starship design studies. We use examples from the literature, but focus on two specific case studies, that of fusion and beamed-sail propulsion, as plausible ways by which we may someday reach the  stars.

13th November: Science Fiction Starships.  The works of science fiction literature have fascinating starship concepts, but how realistic are they? In this day course we will examine and evaluate the laser-sails in “The Mote in Gods Eye (Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle), Torch Ships in “Time for the Stars” (Robert Heinlein), Quantum Ramjets in “The Songs of Distant Earth” (Arthur C Clarke) and other inspirational examples of interstellar vessels….

Principal Lecturers: Kelvin F. Longis a physicist and aerospace engineer, until recently Chief Editor Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, author of the book “Deep Space Propulsion: A Roadmap to the Stars” and is the Executive Director i4is and a member of the Breakthrough Starshot advisory committee.

Rob Swinney is a former RAF Squadron Leader aerosystems engineer and is a Deputy Director of i4is. He, and Long, have both been involved in the creation and running of the only two modern starship design projects, Project Icarus (fusion) and Project Dragonfly (laser-sails).

(3) IN TRAINING. Kevin Standlee writes a lyrical post about taking the California Zephyr through the Sierras.

Speaking of the nice parts: the eastbound Zephyr includes some views through the Sierra Nevada that you don’t get on the westbound trip. For example, shortly after Colfax the train goes around “Cape Horn” with some spectacular views of the American River Canyon. Some of the trees have finally been cut back as well; for a while, they’d grown so thick that they cut off the vista, which was unfortunate. Eastbound you miss this because the normal eastbound track goes through a tunnel that custs off this corner with its precipitous view. I’m composing most of them while snaking our way up the mountain, but I can’t post it because on this stretch there is no cell phone signal. We’re on the opposite side of the mountains from the I-80 corridor where the cell phone towers are. Not that I mind. I’m mostly looking out the window. As a touch-typist, I don’t need to stare at the keyboard to write.

(4) NOT A TYPICAL ANALOG WRITER. Galactic Journey says Harry Harrison has finally registered on their radar screen –

Author Harry Harrison has been around for a long time, starting his science fiction writing career at the beginning of the last decade (1951).  Yet, it was not until this decade that I (and probably many others) discovered him.  He came into my view with the stellar Deathworld, a novel that was a strong contender for last year’s Hugo.  Then I found his popular Stainless Steel Rat stories, which were recently anthologized.  The fellow is definitely making a name for himself.

Harrison actually occupies a liberal spot in generally conservative Analog magazine’s stable of authors.  While Harry tends to stick with typical Analog tropes (psionics, humano-centric stories, interstellar hijinx), there are themes in his work which are quite progressive – even subversive, at least for the medium in which they appear.

For instance, there is a strong pro-ecological message in Deathworld.  I also detect threads of pacifism in Harrison’s works, not to mention rather unorthodox portrayal of women and sexual mores.  Harry isn’t Ted Sturgeon or anything, but he is definitely an outlier for Analog, and refreshing for the genre as a whole.

(5) ALMOST YOUR BIGGEST FAN. The Twitter user formerly known as Jim Henley knows how to pay a compliment.

(6) DILLON OBIT. Comics artist Steve Dillion died October 22 reports the BBC.

Steve Dillon, the legendary British comic book artist, known for his work on Preacher, Punisher, and 2000AD’s Judge Dredd has died aged 54.

His brother Glyn confirmed the death on Twitter, saying his “big brother and hero” had died in New York City.

Dillon was a prolific artist who began professional work at age 16, drawing for Marvel UK’s Hulk magazine.

He was best known for his US collaborations with writer Garth Ennis, creating classic cult comic titles.

In his Twitter profile, Dillon, originally from Luton, describes himself as: “A comic book bloke. Co-creator/Artist of Preacher. Co-founder/Editor of Deadline magazine. Artist on Punisher, Judge Dredd and many others.”

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born October 23, 1942  — Michael Crichton.

(8) YOUR EPIC IMAGINATION. James Davis Nicoll says it’s “Good news!” Dorothy J. Heydt’s The Interior Life (published under penname Katherine Blake) available again as a free ebook.

Go here for the download.

(9) DO YOU LIKE WHAT SMART PEOPLE LIKE? Ann Leckie keeps hitting them out of the park. Today’s topic: “On Guilty Pleasures”.

Or Romance. Romance isn’t one of my things, right, but let’s be honest, a crappy detective novel or a crappy SF or Extruded Fantasy Product is just as bad as a crappy Romance. When it’s SF we’ll protest that no, that’s just a bad one, the whole genre’s not like that, but Romance? Romance is just stupid, man.

Isn’t it funny how guilty pleasures are things that poor people like–or tend to buy or use because it’s cheap. Isn’t it funny how guilty pleasures are things that teenage girls like, or women. Isn’t it funny how guilty pleasures are things we liked when we were kids.

I’m not saying that nothing can be criticized–there are surely bad Romance novels. Taylor Swift is a pretty good songwriter who has done some very admirable things, but she’s also had her less than admirable public moments. Velveeta doesn’t come out well in a comparison with really good cheese (unless its a competition for what will make the easiest mac & cheese, given only three minutes and a microwave to work with), and it’s probably not very good for you. I’m perfectly willing to criticize things I like, or consider criticism of those things, and still like them.

No, I’m talking about that weird, moral dimension to likes and dislikes. You like pumpkin spice anything? You should be ashamed. You should feel guilty, because you’re not supposed to like that, smart people don’t like that, people who like that have something wrong with them.

So much of what we like or dislike–what we’re publicly supposed to like or dislike–is functioning as in-group identifiers.

(10) HAN SOLO MOVIE CASTING. Donald Glover will play young Lando Calrissian, and YES he will wear a cape reports the Los Angeles Times.

Donald Glover is officially your new Lando Calrissian. Lucasfilm has announced that Glover will play the younger version of “Star Wars’” Cloud City administrator turned Rebel Alliance general in the upcoming standalone Han Solo film.

Glover will join Alden Ehrenreich, who was confirmed to play the young Solo during Star Wars Celebration in July.

According to the press release, the upcoming film will depict “Lando in his formative years as a scoundrel on the rise in the galaxy’s underworld — years before the events involving Han, Leia, and Darth Vader in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and his rise to Rebel hero in ‘Return of the Jedi.’”

(11) ACCELERATING HUMAN IMAGINATION IN ENGLAND. Did somebody think it wasn’t fast enough?

On November 24 and 25th on the campus of the University of Liverpool, London, the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination and the University of Liverpool, London will host a workshop called Accelerating Human Imagination, bringing together a number of US and European experts in the study of imagination. They will be presenting and discussing new research on questions such as: What is “imagination?” Is there a singular basis of imagination that develops into a number of different phenomena, or do we use the word imagination to group together a number of aspects of behavior and cognition into a common category? If we can better understand imagination, we might be able to find ways of directly engaging it in order to accelerate its operation. What use might we put this accelerated imagination to?

(12) RAW SCIENCE FILM FESTIVAL. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination is a  partner of the Raw Science Film Festival, which honors films on science and technology from around the world. The screening and award ceremony will take place on December 10, 2016, on the Fox Studio lot inside the historic Zanuck Theater. Sheldon Brown will be on hand to present the inaugural Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination Prize in Speculative Media. The deadline for festival submissions is November 9.

(13) INDIE SHRINKS. At Mad Genius Club, Fynbospress makes insightful speculations about the new author earnings report.

Interesting times, interesting results. After two and half years of constant growth, this time we see the first contraction for indie market share. Trad Pub’s big five showed a very slight gain in unit sales, but most of the market share went to Amazon’s own publishing arm, and a smaller amount to uncategorized single-author publishers (mostly indies).

On gross revenues, most of the lost market share went to small and medium publishers, with a smaller amount to amazon Pub.

Having the what, we’re left to speculate on the why, and how. Causes may include, but are not limited to: Amazon’s Kindle first program, pushing their own new releases; Bookbub’s increasing percentage of big and medium press slots as opposed to indies (and increased price raising the barrier to the fewer slots left); Amazon’s new promoted/sponsored search ads; consolidation of indies into small pubs; the stars being in the right configuration for C’thulu to rise from dead R’lyeh; other factors unknown at this time.

(14) SAY AHHHHH. Research shows “Migraine Sufferers Have More Nitrate-Reducing Microbes in their Mouths”.

Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have found that the mouths of migraine sufferers harbor significantly more microbes with the ability to modify nitrates than people who do not get migraine headaches. The study is published October 18 by mSystems.

“There is this idea out there that certain foods trigger migraines — chocolate, wine and especially foods containing nitrates,” said first author Antonio Gonzalez, a programmer analyst in the laboratory of Rob Knight, PhD, professor and director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation at UC San Diego and senior author on the study. “We thought that perhaps there are connections between what people are eating, their microbiomes and their experiences with migraines.”

Many of the 38 million Americans who suffer from migraines report an association between consuming nitrates and their severe headaches. Nitrates, found in foods such as processed meats and green leafy vegetables and in certain medicines, can be reduced to nitrites by bacteria found in the mouth. When circulating in the blood, these nitrites can then be converted to nitric oxide under certain conditions. Nitric oxide can aid cardiovascular health by improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure. However, roughly four in five cardiac patients who take nitrate-containing drugs for chest pain or congestive heart failure report severe headaches as a side effect.

(15) SQUINTING. Kevin Marks discusses “How the Web Became Unreadable”. Surprisingly, he’s not talking about all the political posts.

It’s been getting harder for me to read things on my phone and my laptop. I’ve caught myself squinting and holding the screen closer to my face. I’ve worried that my eyesight is starting to go.

These hurdles have made me grumpier over time, but what pushed me over the edge was when Google’s App Engine console—a page that, as a developer, I use daily—changed its text from legible to illegible. Text that was once crisp and dark was suddenly lightened to a pallid gray. Though age has indeed taken its toll on my eyesight, it turns out that I was suffering from a design trend.

There’s a widespread movement in design circles to reduce the contrast between text and background, making type harder to read. Apple is guilty. Google is, too. So is Twitter.

(16) HAGIOGRAPHY. Leonard Maltin interviews Stan Lee for Parade.

DINNER WITH DOCTOR STRANGE

When asked which three of his superheroes he would like to have dinner with, he takes a moment to think the question through. “I’d probably enjoy talking to Iron Man,” he says. “I’d like to talk to Doctor Strange. I like the Silver Surfer. Iron Man is sort of a classier Donald Trump, if you can imagine that sort of thing. The Silver Surfer is always philosophical; he comments about the world and man’s position in the universe, why we don’t enjoy living on this wonderful planet and why we don’t help each other.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, JJ and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day RedWombat.]

Pixel Scroll 7/10/16 Captain Pixel Pants

(1) JIM HENLEY POOPS ON SPACE. In comments, Jim deposited this link to a report that long-duration space habitation impairs vision in 80% of astronauts. (Hey, “poops” is his word.)

In 2005, astronaut John Phillips took a break from his work on the International Space Station and looked out the window at Earth. He was about halfway through a mission that had begun in April and would end in October.

When he gazed down at the planet, the Earth was blurry. He couldn’t focus on it clearly. That was strange — his vision had always been 20/20. He wondered: Was his eyesight getting worse?

“I’m not sure if I reported that to the ground,” he said. “I think I didn’t. I thought it would be something that would just go away, and fix itself when I got to Earth.”

It didn’t go away.

During Phillips’ post-flight physical, NASA found that his vision had gone from 20/20 to 20/100 in six months.

Rigorous testing followed. Phillips got MRIs, retinal scans, neurological tests and a spinal tap. The tests showed that not only had his vision changed, but his eyes had changed as well.

The backs of his eyes had gotten flatter, pushing his retinas forward. He had choroidal folds, which are like stretch marks. His optic nerves were inflamed.

Phillips case became the first widely recognized one of a mysterious syndrome that affects 80 percent of astronauts on long-duration missions in space. The syndrome could interfere with plans for future crewed space missions, including any trips to Mars.

(2) THE TAKING-UP-SPACE PROGRAM. You might say The Traveler at Galactic Journey doesn’t see eye-to-eye with editor John W. Campbell, who spent 20 pages criticizing the space program in Analog: “[July 10, 1961] The Last Straw (Campbell’s Wrong-Headed Rant In The August 1961 Analog]“

Campbell’s argument is as follows:

1) America could have had a man in space in 1951, but America is a democracy, and its populace (hence, the government) is too stupid to understand the value of space travel.

2) The government’s efforts to put a man in space are all failures: Project Vanguard didn’t work.  Project Mercury won’t go to orbit.  Liquid-fueled rockets are pointless.

3) Ford motor company produced Project Farside, a series of solid-fueled “rock-oons,” on the cheap, so therefore, the best way to get into space…nay…the only way is to give the reins to private industry.

Campbell isn’t just wrong on every single one of these assertions.  He’s delusional.

(3) WHO DAT? The Mirror stirs up rumors in its news article “Can Matt Smith be the first Doctor Who to regenerate as himself?”

Matt Smith may be about to travel back in time to play Doctor Who again.

Show boss Steven Moffat has hinted Smith could be the first of the 12 Doctors to return to the Tardis after regenerating.

Matt, who stars as Prince Phillip in Netflix’s big-budget royal drama The Crown in November, has made no secret of his desire to return, saying last year: “They will ask me back one day, won’t they?”

Matt’s successor Peter Capaldi has been tipped to bow out after the next series, currently being filmed for release in 2017.

And Moffat, who is leaving after his sixth season next year has said Matt is “quite open about how much he misses it, and how much he wishes he hadn’t left”.

(4) OH SAY DID YOU HEAR? A piece by Carly Carioli in the July 1 Boston Globe called “Did the Star-Spangled Banner land Igor Stravinsky in Jail?” explores the issue of whether or not Stravinsky was arrested for playing a radical arrangement of the national anthem in 1944.  (He wasn’t because he substituted the traditional arrangement at the last minute.)

The sf connection is that Carioli linked to a photo of Stravinsky.  “The novelist Neil Gaiman thought it was a mug shot.  He sent the image to the blog Boing-Boing a few years ago, along with an astounding plot-point:  He claimed that Stravinsky had been arrested in Boston” for his weird arrangement.

Spoiler alert: The photo is not a mug shot, and Stravinsky was never arrested. But the real story of what happened to the composer in Boston is an incredible tale. He did compose a weird arrangement of the national anthem, and the Boston police really did ban him from performing it — sparking a national uproar and a tense showdown that played out live on the radio.

The Boston Globe has a tight paywall of five articles a month, so good luck clicking through.

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born July 10, 1923 – Earl Hamner, Jr.
  • Born July 10, 1926 – Fred Gwynne
  • Born July 10, 1929 – George Clayton Johnson
  • Born July 10, 1941  — David G. Hartwell

(6) HUGO NOVELETTES REVIEWED. Rich Horton explains how he is ranking the Hugo-nominated Novelettes on Strange at Ecbatan.

As I wrote in my first post in this series: I am not planning to reflexively rank Rabid Puppy entries below No Award. I am of course disgusted by the Rabid Puppy antics, and I feel that many worthier stories were kept off the ballot by the Rabid choices. And if a story is bad enough, it will certainly be off my ballot, with No Award the last choice. (That’s always been my approach.) But, this year in particular, many of the nominees supported by the Rabid Puppies were either unaware of that, or aware and quite clearly not happy with that. Also, I don’t want to reduce the meaningfulness of the win for those worthy winners – if they finish first and No Award is second, to my mind it to some extent delegitimizes their wins, through no fault of their own. Better to have been chosen the best with every voting on merit than voted best simply because all the other choices were automatically rejected regardless of quality.

(7) STEPHEN KING. Lisa J. Goldstein reviews Stephen King’s Hugo-nominated novelette: “Obits” at inferior4+1.

Sometimes I think that Stephen King is too skilled a writer for his own good.  No, wait, hear me out.  “Obits” is about an obituary writer who discovers that when he writes obituaries about live people, they end up dead.  It’s not an earth-shattering idea, and I’d bet that any number of writers have come up with something similar.  Other writers, though, would try to figure out where the story should go, how it should end, if it would be too predictable — and when they finished with all of that, they’d decide that the idea wouldn’t work, that it’s just not a very good concept for a story.

(8) CHIMERA CREATURES. Mary Lowd has been rescuing stuffed animals and playing mad scientist in order to resurrect them. She displays the results in a photo gallery.

The Subjects:

For this project, subjects were gathered from local dispensaries of unwanted toys.  Most of the specimens were procured from various Goodwills, but a few were found at St. Vinnie’s and Sarah’s Treasures.  Excluding a few exceptional specimens, they all cost between $1 and $2.  Even the exceptional ones cost at most $4.  In order for a specimen to be suitable, it had to be in good condition, contain nice parts, but be — shall we say — uninspiring in its totallity.  Several specimens were rejected for inclusion due to being too lovable in their original, unaltered forms.  All of the specimens selected for final inclusion in the project are pictured below in Fig. 1 – 3.

(9) WHEN LUCY LAUNCHED A THOUSAND STARSHIPS. Many writers have been fascinated to discover Lucille Ball played a role in getting Star Trek on the air. The latest retelling of the tale is “How Lucille Ball Saved Star Trek at Entertainment Weekly.

While many series were being shot at Desilu, the studio was in dire need of original programming of its own following the end of The Untouchables in 1963. Herbert Solow, hired to help locate new projects for the studio, brought two notable proposals to Desilu in 1964. One was Mission: Impossible; the other was Roddenberry’s quirky sci-fi idea. When Lucy’s longtime network CBS said no to Trek, Solow and Roddenberry took it to NBC. Science fiction was alien to the network’s schedule, but it ordered a pilot.

According to Solow in Marc Cushman’s history These Are the Voyages, Lucy initially thought Star Trek was about traveling USO performers. But her support for the show was necessary as it became clear how expensive the pilot would be. Lucy overruled her board of directors to make sure the episode was produced.

(10) STAND BY ME (BUT NOT TOO CLOSE). There is a flurry of weird news stories about Pokémon Go players getting hurt or whatnot. Here is the first of several people have sent me today: “Players in hunt for Pokemon Go monsters feel real-world pain” reports ABC’s Chicago affiliate.

Beware: “Pokemon Go,” a new smartphone game based on cute Nintendo characters like Squirtle and Pikachu, can be harmful to your health. The “augmented reality” game, which layers gameplay onto the physical world, became the top grossing app in the iPhone app store just days after its Wednesday release in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. And players have already reported wiping out in a variety of ways as they wander the real world – eyes glued to their smartphone screens – in search of digital monsters.

Mike Schultz, a 21-year-old communications graduate on Long Island, New York, took a spill on his skateboard as he stared at his phone while cruising for critters early Thursday. He cut his hand on the sidewalk after hitting a big crack, and blames himself for going too slowly. “I just wanted to be able to stop quickly if there were any Pokemons nearby to catch,” he says. “I don’t think the company is really at fault.”

(11) ACHIEVEMENT UNBURIED. One player got more than she bargained for: “Pokémon Go player finds dead body in Wyoming river while searching for a Pokestop”.

The augmented reality game, which was released last week, gets people to catch virtual monsters using the person’s location on their phone.

Nineteen-year-old Shayla Wiggins, from Wyoming, was told to find a Pokemon in a natural water source but instead found a man’s corpse.

“I was walking towards the bridge along the shore when I saw something in the water,” she told County 10 news.

“I had to take a second look and I realised it was a body.”

(12) DARWIN REWARD. Police in Darwin, Australia requested on their Facebook page that players not waltz into their station, which of course is a Pokestop in the game.

For those budding Pokemon Trainers out there using Pokemon Go – whilst the Darwin Police Station may feature as a Pokestop, please be advised that you don’t actually have to step inside in order to gain the pokeballs.

It’s also a good idea to look up, away from your phone and both ways before crossing the street. That Sandshrew isn’t going anywhere fast.

Stay safe and catch ’em all!

(13) ROBBERMON. And then there are the robbers who figured out that setting up a beacon in the game was a surefire way to attract victims.

Police in O’Fallon, Missouri are investigating a series of armed robberies believe that the robbers used the Pokemon Go smartphone app to target victims, according to a post on the department’s Facebook page. Four suspects were arrested early Sunday morning near the intersection of Highway K and Feise Road in O’Fallon after a report of an armed robbery. Police say they are suspected of multiple armed robberies in St. Louis and St. Charles counties in Missouri. A handgun was recovered.

Police believe they used the game to, “add a beacon to a pokestop to lure more players” and then used the app to locate victims.

(14) RISK ASSESSMENT. Fitting in with the week’s tragic news is this take on playing the game: “Warning: Pokemon GO is a Death Sentence if you are a Black Man”.

I spent less than 20 minutes outside. Five of those minutes were spent enjoying the game. One of those minutes I spent trying to look as pleasant and nonthreatening as possible as I walked past a somewhat visibly disturbed white woman on her way to the bus stop. I spent the other 14 minutes being distracted from the game by thoughts of the countless Black Men who have had the police called on them because they looked “suspicious” or wondering what a second amendment exercising individual might do if I walked past their window a 3rd or 4th time in search of a Jigglypuff.

When my brain started combining the complexity of being Black in America with the real world proposal of wandering and exploration that is designed into the gameplay of Pokemon GO, there was only one conclusion. I might die if I keep playing.

(15) TOY QUEST. John King Tarpinian went to a store and personally checked out several of the Hallmark collectible ornaments discussed in a post here at File 770. He says the fidelity of the recordings is “surprisingly good.”

Fidelity COMP

Though about this one he cryptically commented, “No sound but yabba dabba doo.”

Flintstones COMP

(16) MORE TOYS. ScreenRant previews Star Wars toys and figure fans can see at Comic-Con.

Folks heading to San Diego Comic-Con can also get their Star Wars fix from July 21 – 24. If you plan on attending SDCC later this month, make sure to swing by the Hasbro booth (#3213) and have your fill of some new Star Wars figures. Hasbro will also have a panel on Friday, July 22nd at noon to introduce their latest line of exclusives….

As noted above, the Darth Vader, Kanan Jarrus, and Biker Scout figures are 12? models while Rey and Hera Syndulla are just under 4? tall. Kanan and Vader also have “electronic touches” which could mean their light sabers actually glow. These figures will be on display at SDCC, but fans will have to exercise some patience because they won’t be available for purchase until fall 2016 — just in time for Christmas

(17) STAR WARS CON IN LONDON. The same ScreenRant post also links to the 3-day Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016 that takes place in London from July 15 – 17. This event will see several exclusives including the premiere of the third season of Star Wars Rebels and a huge presence from Star Wars video games.

For those of us who can’t make it across the pond, some panels will be streamed, including the Rogue One panel, where we should be in for a new trailer for the spinoff film.

(18) REMEMBERING GEORGE. There will be a George Clayton Johnson Memorial Gathering at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Thursday, July 21 at 9:00 p.m.

Let’s share our memories and adventures of our pal and mentor for over 40 years. George wrote “The Man Trap” the very first Star Trek episode that aired. He also wrote 8 original Twilight Zone episodes, Oceans 11 movie and the “Logan’s Run” novel with William F. Nolan. Panel participants include David Gerrold, Craig Miller, Greg Koudoulian, Gene Henderson, Clayton Moore, Scott Smith, Jimmy Diggs and Anthony Keith

(I don’t know which Clayton Moore this is but it can’t be the one from The Lone Ranger – he passed away in 1999.)

(19) KUBRICK LOST AND FOUND. A 2015 documentary on YouTube, Stanley Kubrick: The Lost Tapes, is based on tapes that a New Yorker writer produced in 1966 for a Kubrick profile. Kubrick discusses the making of Dr. Strangelove at about 20 minutes in to this 25-minute documentary. He discusses his professional relationship with Arthur C. Clarke very briefly beginning at 22:00.

(20) ROD SERLING AND GROUCHO MARX. You Bet Your Life was retooled as Tell It To Groucho and sold to CBS for one short season in early 1962. Here’s half of one of the very few episodes available to view today, featuring Rod Serling.

(21) MORE HARLEY QUINN. The Suicide Squad international trailer dropped.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Petréa Mitchell, Dawn Incognito, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Rambo, Jim Henley, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

The Cover Story – Plots of Books We Haven’t Read

Joe Zieja taught us the game in “Five Books I Haven’t Read But Want To and Am Going to Summarize Anyway Based on Their Titles and Covers”. Filers took it from there.

Jim Henley http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447403

The Dark Forest

The Dark Forest, by Cixin Liu, translated by Joel Martinsen.

The destiny of humankind changes forever when some kind of weirdass fucking train appears above the Earth. The front of the engine is like if only death-metal fans were into steampunk. In Norway, death-metal fan and wannabe bassist Larch Umber is inspired by the appearance of the alien conveyance to feverishly compose a song cycle he calls “The Dark Forest” because he thinks it sounds cool and, really, all the forests are dark now what with the weirdass fucking alien train blotting out the sun. Larch’s race against time to recruit a band to record his masterpiece reaches a crisis point when his guitarist refuses to play anything in E-flat. Then the aliens alight, and turn out to be fans of an ever-so-slightly different subgenre of metal, and discord reigns throughout the solar system.

Jim Henley http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447409

Station Eleven

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel.

People unclear on the concept decide to be ghosts for Halloween, but the tents they choose to drape themselves in are much too large, and also, you’re not supposed to set them up. They nevertheless make it partway across the field between their village and the one with the Halloween party, albeit slowly, when they hit the wall. And behind that wall, a pile of rocks has been awaiting its chance at revenge…

Jim Henley http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447413

Space Raptor Butt Invasion

Space Raptor Butt Invasion, by Chuck Tingle.

In the post-singularity future, stock photos have gained sentience. Hijinx ensue.

Camestros Felapton http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447427

scalzi-end-things

 

The End of All Things by John Scalzi

In dystopian nanny state, cigarette smokers have been banished to live in giant flying aircraft carriers. In a bizarre twist only they can save humanity from global catastrophe. But can they generate enough secondhand smoke before disaster engulfs the Earth?

Stoic Cynic http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447428

Saturn Run

The UNSS Wolverine returns from the first expedition to the sixth planet. Celebration soon turns to horror though as an extraterrestrial virus escapes quarantine mutating into a human infectious disease causing severe gastrointestinal distress. Doctor Cronos Romano of the International CDC discovers not only a cure but a government conspiracy to use the disease to assume dictatorship of Earth. On the lam he tries to reach the resistance and distribute the formula for the cure to the general populace.

Kathodus http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447466

Rocket Ship Galileo

Rocket Ship Galileo – Robert Heinlein

On a cold winter’s day, in a small village far from the hustle and bustle of the capitol and its bickering courtiers, a group of adventurers meet at their old stomping ground and favorite inn, the Rusty Bearclaw, to discuss what they’ve found about the goings-on of the self-proclaimed High King Lordibadman and his minions. To nobody’s surprise (except Glinliadiel, the morose high elf who would rather be off on an entirely different and golden-glowier continent, to be completely honest, and who’d just basically skulked around town for the past year trying to pick up the local milkmaids by flashing his pointing ears seductively toward them), there are reports throughout the land of ork sightings, and rumors of dragons terrorizing the more remote mountain villages. Dirk “Rocket Ship” Galileo and his brooding, whiny, master necromancer brother, “Doctor” Smith, have come up with a plan to stop Lordibadman, but is it too late?

Arifel http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447474

Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice

Colt McCartney, better known to the galaxy as the Red Baron, has made a name as one of the Company’s best star pilots, turning the tide in countless battles across the Thousand Systems against the nefarious White Tide syndicate. However, when the White Tide score a victory against one of the Company’s core world’s, wiping out an entire city in a single strike, Colt finds himself implicated in a terrible conspiracy which seems to go to the very top.

Disgraced and cast out from the company’s fighter squadron, the Red Baron is finally offered a position in the Company’s mysterious legal support wing. But will completing his assignments lead him to the answers about what really happened on Tavany Snoe, and allow Colt to clear his name for good?

Camestros Felapton http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447479

Dhalgren-bantam-cover

Dhalgren

After finding a genie in a bottle, Bob Biscuit wishes that he wants to ‘paint the town red’. To his horror, his wish comes true and now he and his friend have to paint it back a normal colour before anybody notices. Hilarity ensues.

Camestros Felapton http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447482

Godstalk

God Stalk

She came from the haunted lands to work as a gargoyle repair service operator only to find that eccentric fishermen keep ruining her work.

Mark-kitteh http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447487

uk-uprooted

 

Uprooted

A young person has to leave the city for the countryside, where the only mystery she has to solve is why this small landlocked village needs a lighthouse.

Mark-kitteh http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447489

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen

Gentleman Jole and The Red Queen

In this gender-swapped retelling of the Alice stories, Jole demonstrates that all you need to make your way through a psychotropic landscape is good manners

Xtifr http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447495

Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross.

[This plot description has been removed for the sake of any children that might happen to be in the audience.]

Hal Winslow’s Old Buddy http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447496

Stars My Destination

The Stars My Destination Alfred Bester

Gully and Jisbella were young, beautiful, and talented. They dreamed of stardom. But after that fateful night in Tijuana, it all came crashing down for Gully. Jiz woke up with a tasteful crescent moon discreetly placed on one shoulder, but Gully . . . . “I told you to put those damn tats on your back, not your face, Gul,” she insisted. “Now you’ll never be a leading man.” Gully is left without his girl, his looks, and the Hollywood future he’d imagined. Can he reclaim his tattered hopes, or will he be forever relegated to supporting roles? Can he still get that house in the Hollywood Hills, or at least Bel Air? Can he find a laser surgeon willing to take on his case? You’ll be on the edge of your La-Z-Boy, cheering him on!

Mokoto http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447528

Bridge of Birds

Bridge of Birds, Barry Hughart

A daring use of non-standard materials ends in catastrophe for a young architect.

Steve Wright http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447552

Gates of Eden

The Gates of Eden, by Brian Stableford.

She longed to work at the biosphere project. She’d brought her own overalls and everything. But they refused to let her anywhere near the dome until she did something about that rampant athlete’s foot.

Gregory N. Hullender http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=2#comment-447570

Seveneves-cover-novel-by-Neal-Stephenson COMP

Seveneves. In this sequel to The House of the Seven Gables, Phoebe and Holgrave decide to return to the house because it was too bright at night to sleep in the countryside. But the curse is still there, so they only stay a week.

Francesca http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=2#comment-447603

Monster Hunter International

Monster Hunter International by L.Correia

Pensively the hero is trying to decide if he will dare suggest that particular shade of slate nail polish to his love.

Nancy Sauer http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=2#comment-447624

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

Hong “Ninefox” Gil-dong had put his life as SpecOps dirtiest dealer behind him and plunged into his dream of being a sushi chef at the most exclusive sushi restaurant on Station Zeta. But when the station is attacked by giant space urchin, he realizes that he must embrace both his old and new skills to triumph over the celestial menace.

Camestros Felapton http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=2#comment-447629

Connie_Willis-Blackout_2010

Blackout/All Clear

In this tour-de-force of magical realism we are taken inside the minds of inanimate objects during WW2. Kurt is the embodied consciousness of a Junkers Ju 88 multirole combat aircraft. Diana is the genius-loci of Saint Pauls cathedral. Each night of the London Blitz they share stories of their lives via a shared psychic connection.

Lurkertype http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=2#comment-447668

44272486-BlackAmazonOfMarsByLeighBrackett-PlanetStoriesmarch1951-600x861

“Black Amazon of Mars”: A beautiful redhead starts a lawn care business on Mars. The Martian foliage may be huge and tough, but she and her trusty axe can take out any killer grass! If only she hadn’t been pressured into hiring her unemployed cousin, who’s botanophobic!

Arifel http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=2#comment-447677

House-of-Shattered-Wings-2

House of Shattered Wings

In a world where humans have always flown, the Feathered Throne of Kes has laid unclaimed for almost a century. Now, the former Kingdom is split between those hoping to restore a monarch to the throne, and those defending the New Way – a fledgling system of representative democracy which has given voice to the furthest reaches of the kingdom for the first time.

As both a Parliamentary Representative and a younger daughter of Hawk House, Lira is no stranger to conflicted loyalties. But when a mysterious accident cripples the leader of her party, she finds herself embroiled in a political conflict which threatens to consume ally and enemy alike…

Hal Winslow’s Old Buddy http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=2#comment-447679

catswings

Catwings: A Catwings Tale by Ursula K. Le Guin

The protagonists become stranded in a tree. But then they realize that they are cats. With wings. And tails, too, but mostly wings. The cats find this vastly amusing; the birds, not so much.

Did I mention that the cats have wings?

Cora Buhlert http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=2#comment-447690

Too like the lightning

Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer:

It’s goose hunting season in the Voztavoz mountains of the planet Makalak, when the hunters in their suborbital ships tackle gigantic flocks of galactic geese during their annual migration to their winter quarters. One of the hunters is Mycroft who finds himself caught in a desperate struggle for survival, after his ship is struck by lightning during one of the feared thunderstorms of Voztavoz. Can Mycroft make it back to the city, alone and on foot. And will he bring home a goose for the non-denominational (cause religion has been banned) winter holiday dinner?

Cora Buhlert http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=2#comment-447690

Company Town

Company Town by Madeline Ashby:

The shocking story of what happens when the letters of the neon sign on top of a derelict factory gain sentience and begin rearranging themselves in what appears to be a monstrous game of scrabble. However, one young woman living in the town at the foot of the factory, known only as Company Town, believes that the sentient letters are really sending a dire warning…

Pixel Scroll 5/22/16 Pixelpotamus vs. Scrolloceros

(1) PRECISION. In “Save the Allegory!” on Slate, Laura Miller calls on writers to actually define “allegory” correctly.  She quotes from C. S. Lewis’ The Allegory of Love at length and makes lots of superhero references.

What people usually mean when they call something an allegory today is that the fictional work in question can function as a metaphor for some real-world situation or event. This is a common arts journalist’s device: finding a political parallel to whatever you happen to be reviewing is a handy way to make it appear worth writing about in the first place. Calling that parallel an allegory serves to make the comparison more forceful. Fusion says that Batman v Superman is a “none-too-subtle allegory for the fight between Republican presidential hopefuls Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.” (It is not.) The Hollywood Reporter calls Zootopia an “accidental anti-Trump allegory”—this despite the fact that there is no literary form less accidental than allegory. The meaning of the word has drifted so far that even works that aren’t especially metaphorical get labeled as allegory: A film about artistic repression in Iran is a “clunky allegory” for … artistic repression in Iran.

Allegory or metaphor: The distinction might seem obscure and academic to many readers. Shouldn’t allegory be grateful to get any attention at all? Isn’t it just an archaic literary mode that nobody uses anymore? Yes and no. About the only people creating true allegories today are political cartoonists. But a culture never entirely discards its roots, and allegory, which first appeared in the waning years of the Roman Empire, is one of the foundations of Western literature. Maybe if we understood it better, we’d realize how much we owe to it.

(2) NEXT AT SFWA. While detailing her writing and travel plans for the summer, Cat Rambo also previews SFWA’s upcoming activities in “Catching My Breath and What’s Coming Up”. In her second year as the organization’s president, she will be putting some needed infrastructure in place.

In SFWA areas, I’m focusing on a new committee that I’ll be working with, the Membership Retention Committee, whose job will be to look at the new member experience for SFWA members as well as how to keep the organization useful for members. (If you’re interested in volunteering with that, feel free to drop me a line.) Other efforts include a) working with SFWA fundraising, b) a small musical endeavor that I just prodded someone about and which involves Tom Lehrer (yes, that Tom Lehrer), and c) helping out where I can with some of M.C.A. Hogarth’s amazing efforts, such as this mysterious thing here lurking under a tarp that I am not at liberty to discuss. *mouths the words “SFWA University” then is dragged away by the SFWA honey badgers while shouting something about a guidebook*

Three other important SFWA things:

  1. I’ll be watching the results of our decision to admit game writers with keen interest. I can tell you that the initial set is criteria is being voted on right now and I expect to see it announced soon.
  2. An effort is in the works that I think will prove a lovely tribute to longtime SFWA volunteer Bud Webster and which will, in the longtime SFWA tradition, provide a benefit for professional writers at every level of their careers.
  3. And we’ll (finally) be announcing some of the partnerships we’ve been making — you saw reps from Amazon, Audible, BookBub, Draft2Digital, Kickstarter, Kobo and Patreon at the Nebulas and those relationships are going to extend beyond the weekend and give our members special resources and relationships at all of those companies — and others, including one that I am super-stoked to have facilitated.

(3) DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH. Neil deGrasse Tyson gives his view about how long you could survive on each planet in our solar system. It’s a 2015 video.

(4) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born May 22, 1859 — Scottish writer Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes.

(5) POSERS FOR TINGLE. Neigh, a thousand times neigh!

(6) EVERMORE. The Baltimore Sun quotes lots of people involved with the convention in “Balticon grew to 50 as sci-fi, fantasy grew more mainstream”. Several are Filers.

Even 50 Balticons later, Ray Ridenour remembers his introduction to the annual gathering of the Baltimore region’s science-fiction and fantasy aficionados.

Ridenour, then a student at the University of Maryland, College Park, recalls taking the elevator to the top floor of the city’s since-demolished Emerson Hotel. This was the first Balticon put together by the then-4-year-old Baltimore Science Fiction Society, and he had little idea what to expect.

“As soon as I stepped out of the elevator, I heard something very noisy and stepped back in,” he recalls. “Two guys roared by in a wheelchair; one of them was singing loudly, the other was pushing loudly. They careened down the hotel aisle and then zoomed in another direction and disappeared.”

Ridenour asked someone walking by if they had any idea what was going on. “‘Oh, yeah,'” came the reply. “‘That was the president of the club.'”

Ridenour, now 68, a graphic artist and designer living in Hampden and a veteran of every Balticon since, knew he was in the right place. “So I said, ‘Well, these guys look like they know how to party.'”

…Baltimore natives Miller, 65, and Lee, 63, authors of a series of books set in the Liaden universe, were guests of honor at Balticon 37 in 2003. Veterans of Balticons dating to the mid-’70s — they met at Balticon 10 in 1976, when Lee won a short-story contest Miller had helped start — they have been married since 1980.

Balticon’s strength, Miller says, lies in its deep fan base. At a time when many fan gatherings have become massive affairs staged by professional organizations whose business is organizing conventions, with an emphasis on movie- and TV-star guests, Balticon is still organized and run by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society and skewed toward the written word.

“Balticon hasn’t lost touch with the fact that it’s a bunch of fans putting this together, for their own interests and the interests of their friends,” Miller says.

(7) DUNGEON N-COUNTER. Jo Lindsay Walton tweeted this sample of what goes on in the Sputnik Award’s Dungeons of Democracy.

(8) ARE GO. Michael Flett describes the 2015 revival in “Thunderbirds 1965” at GeekChocolate.

…Adhering strictly to the ethic of the late sixties, wires are visible, the motion and expressions of the puppets are limited but still capable of expressing great character, and while Tracy Island is extended by the use of archive footage of tropical islands there can no justifiable objection to this use of stock footage nor in the famous launch sequences or any repeated shots of flybys, as this was all part and parcel of the original productions.

What is undeniable is the loving recreations of puppets, props, sets and machines, from Lady Penelope’s wonderfully shiny pink Rolls Royce FAB1 to the Thunderbirds vehicles themselves, the characters themselves graced by the creations of costume designer Liz Comstock-Smith who has crafted an exquisite new wardrobe for Lady Penelope, much to the chagrin of her chauffeur Aloysius Parker who in addition to his other duties must act as porter.

“When one is visiting, one tries to look one’s best,” his employer drily responds as she arrives at Tracy Island in opening episode Introducing Thunderbirds, less of an audio adventure now granted a visual dimension than, as the name would suggest, a showcase of International Rescue’s secret base and the amazing vehicles used to perform their daring missions.

Adapted from the soundtrack of F.A.B., The Abominable Snowman offers more in the way of spectacle with big explosions from the opening moments as a fire rages at Meddings Uranium, named of course in honour of the late special effects designer Derek Meddings who worked on many Anderson shows and later progressed to several James Bond films….

(9) STOP FIGHTING THE LAST WAR. Jim Henley, in “Hugo McHugoface Has Sailed”, offers his own frame for the Hugo reform discussions.

…Various options – including some kind of jury component and restricting voting rights (e.g. to only attending members) – have raised the objection that “They change the fundamental character of the award.” That class of objections fails to recognize the core truth: the character of the Hugo Awards has already changed. Again, the character of the Hugo Awards has already changed.

The Hugo Awards have become an internet poll in the age of Boaty McBoatface, freeping and chan culture. Nobody set out to make them this, and ex ante it was reasonable to imagine that the supporting membership fee (currently $50) was enough of a gating function to keep LULZers and trolls from targeting the process for abuse. But experience shows that there are enough motivated bad actors willing to spend that much to tie up the bulk of the ballot with whatever works their whims inspire them to place there, motivated by any combination of venial and mortal sins.

There is no question of preserving the character of the Hugo Awards. That ship has sailed, and it is not named for David Attenborough. The question is how can the award process be restructured so that future nominees and award winners will be of a character consistent with the Hugo tradition for the ’70 years prior to the mid-’10s.

I suppose the other question is how long it will take Hugo fandom and WSFS members to admit this.

(10) VERBAL AUTOPSY. Toby Litt tells Guardian readers “What makes bad writing bad”.

…Bad writers continue to write badly because they have many reasons – in their view very good reasons – for writing in the way they do. Writers are bad because they cleave to the causes of writing badly.

Bad writing is almost always a love poem addressed by the self to the self. The person who will admire it first and last and most is the writer herself.

When Updike began writing Rabbit, Run it was either going to be a great technical feat or a humiliating misjudgment

While bad writers may read a great many diverse works of fiction, they are unable or unwilling to perceive the things these works do which their own writing fails to do. So the most dangerous kind of writers for bad writers to read are what I call excuse writers – writers of the sort who seem to grant permission to others to borrow or imitate their failings.

I’ll give you some examples: Jack Kerouac, John Updike, David Foster Wallace, Virginia Woolf, Margaret Atwood, Maya Angelou. Bad writers bulwark themselves against a confrontation with their own badness by reference to other writers with whom they feel they share certain defence-worthy characteristics….

(11) DOWN UNDER FAN FUND. Julian Warner, Justin Ackroyd and Lucy Huntzinger officially announced that the winner of the 2016 race is Australian fan Clare McDonald-Sims. She was the only candidate. The administrators say voting numbers to follow. McDonald-Sims will attend MidAmeriCon II.

(12) IT’S STILL NEWS TO SOMEONE. Fanac.org now has James V. Taurasi’s classic fan newzine Fantasy Times online, published from 1941-1955.

Also, congratulations to Jack Weaver, Fanac.org’s Webmaster of 20 years, and the site’s software developer, who received a special award at FanHistoricon in Virginia last month.

weaverplaque

(13) TANK FOR THE MEMORIES. NPR covered yesterday’s transfer from the harbor to the museum – “A 66,000 Pound Space Shuttle Fuel Tank Is Parading Through The Streets Of LA”.

fuel tank

The last remaining space shuttle external propellant tank is moved across the 405 freeway in Los Angeles on Saturday. The ET-94 will be displayed with the retired space shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center.

A massive space shuttle fuel tank is winding its way through the streets of Los Angeles Saturday, on a 16-mile trek heading to the California Science Center.

It’s set to be displayed with the space shuttle Endeavor. The tank, which was never used in a mission, is the “last flight-qualified space shuttle external tank in existence,” according to the science center…..

As The Associated Press reports, the giant tank started moving at midnight from Marina del Rey, where it “arrived by barge Wednesday.” It’s crawling along at about 5 mph, the wire service reports, and is expected to take 13 to 18 hours to reach the science center….

The tank was donated by NASA, and Science Center President Jeff Rudolph tells Danielle that he’s thrilled to acquire the tank.

“As soon as we got Endeavor, we said we got to see if there’s any way we can get that one remaining external tank,” he says. Danielle adds that the center is hoping to eventually add booster rockets to the display.

According to the center, that means it will be the “be the only place in the world that people will be able to see a complete shuttle stack — orbiter, external tank, and solid rocket booster — with all real flight hardware in launch configuration.”

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

Filers Destroy Pixel Scroll

Filers proved today there is no such thing as an innocent question….

Bonnie McDaniel http://file770.com/?p=28284&cpage=1#comment-417321

By the way, since this is National Poetry Month, are we having Scroll titles based on poems?

The other Nigel http://file770.com/?p=28284&cpage=1#comment-417341

T’was Brillig and the Pixel Scroll did gyre and gimble in the web

Soon Lee http://file770.com/?p=28284&cpage=1#comment-417342

Two Pixels diverged in a Scroll, and I
I took the one less traveled by,

rea http://file770.com/?p=28284&cpage=1#comment-417454

Whan that Aprille, with hise pixels soote,
The scroll of March hath perced to the roote . . .

Jack Lint http://file770.com/?p=28284&cpage=1#comment-417441

Scroll Season!
Pixel Season!

Kip W. http://file770.com/?p=28284&cpage=1#comment-417443

Come file with me and read my scroll
And we shall prove the pixels droll
That Hugos, books, shows, and things,
Fans and working writers brings.

And we will crawl about the Net
And hear of famous folk we’ve met
And if your joy be piqued to stroll
Come file with me and read my scroll.

Jack Lint http://file770.com/?p=28284&cpage=1#comment-417448

In the middle of the web in the land of Glyer
Lives a brave little pixel whom we all admire.

I’ll just stop here as I’m not even sure if Glyer and admire rhyme.

Steve Wright http://file770.com/?p=28284&cpage=1#comment-417452

A Glyer who bore, ‘mid snow and ice
A pixel with the scroll device
Excelsior!

Jim Henley http://file770.com/?p=28284&cpage=1#comment-417464

Downward to pixels on extended scrolls.
For the Scroll’s more full of pixels
Than you can understand.

The Scroll That Through the Vile Hive Drives the Pixel.
The scroll of pixels isn’t hard to master.
Pixel is Scroll; Scroll, Pixel. That
Is all ye file and all ye need to file.

The apparition of these pixels in the scroll:
Items in a vile, long File.
Before I’d build a pixel
I’d ask what I was scrolling in or out.

Stoic Cynic http://file770.com/?p=28284&cpage=1#comment-417470

@Mike Glyer
I can recognize a rhyme, it’s meter that always gets my goat

Well you know what they say:

Don’t do the rhyme if you can’t do the time….

Will R. http://file770.com/?p=28284&cpage=1#comment-417476

Oh Pixel, My Pixel (from the Dead Scrollers Society).

Stoic Cynic http://file770.com/?p=28284&cpage=1#comment-417481

I blame @Will R:

O PIXEL! my Pixel! our fearful trip is done;
The scroll has weathered every troll, the talk we sought is won;
The Hugo is near, Worldcon I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady File, the website bright and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where in ‘older posts’ my pixel lies,
Fallen cold, unread.

Greg Hullender http://file770.com/?p=28284&cpage=2#comment-417489

Pixels, pixels everywhere
And all the scrolls did link.
Pixels, pixels everywhere
Nor any pup to think.
(From “The Rime of the Ancient Filerscum.”

Stoic Cynic http://file770.com/?p=28284&cpage=2#comment-417508

Where there’s a slate, there’s a way!
Where there’s a slate, there’s a way!
Where there’s a slate…

We want to vote the straight ticket today,
But Space Butt Raptor seems just so… outre’
We’re gonna gambit that gambit all day

Where there’s a slate, there’s a way!
Left, Right.
(LEFT?!? WHO LET THAT SJW IN HERE! SKIN HIM!!!) *clangs, shouts, singing resumes*
Where there’s a slate, there’s a way

Right, right.
Right, right.
Right, right.

With apologies to Rankin Bass

 

Peace Is My Middle Name http://file770.com/?p=22527&cpage=5#comment-262347:

This is last year’s, but still …

The Puppies is a slate, ma lads, for the Hugo Prize she’s bound,
And the quay it is aa garnished wi bonnie fanboyz round.
Captain Torgersen he orders tae vote the Puppies high,
He’ll fetch himself a Hugo, lads, or know the reason why.

Chorus

And it’s cheer up, ma lads, let yer hearts fill wi hate.
When the Sad and Rabid Puppies nab the Hugos for the slate.

Along the quays at Puppyheim the fanboys stand aroond,
Their angst all pulled aboot them and the salt tears rinnin doon.

Oh, don’t you weep, my bonnie Pups, though ye’ll be left behind.
For the Beale will pal wi’ Scalzi, before we change our mind.

Here’s a health tae the Son o’ Torger, likewise the John C. Wright,
Here’s a health tae the Monster Hunter, and the fans who fight the fight.

We wear the trenchcoats o the brown, an fedoras o the gray,
We’ll pack the slate wi Pups me lad, we cannae lose that way.

It’ll be bright baith day and night when the Puppy lads come hame,
Wi a load of Puppy Hugos, boys, and money tae oor name.

Like the ships all crushed in ice, me lads, while fishing for the whale,
We’ll try and try and try again until the Pups prevail.

File 770 Destroys Poetry

File 770 commenters changed rhymes sublime and took a beater to the metre in yesterday’s spontaneous parody party.

ULTRAGOTHA bites This Is Just To Say

This Is Just To Say
I have consumed
the pixels
that were in
the scroll

and which
you were probably
posting
for news

Forgive me
they were delectable
so interesting
and so bold

RedWombat plucks The Raven

Once upon a laptop blurry, while I pondered, weak and bleary,
Over many a quaint and curious pixel of forgotten scroll—
While I nodded, nearly Skyping, suddenly there came a typing,
As of some one faintly sniping, sniping at the pixel scroll.
“’Tis some commenter,” I muttered, “sniping at my pixel scroll—
Only this and nothing mo’.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was the month after December;
And each separate dying ember of a flame war guttered forth fifth.
Reluctantly I saw the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
More time for reading’s surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the loss of myth—
For the rare and radiant Hugo whom the fans award to myth—
No award for pups and kith.

Bruce Baugh capitalizes on e. e. cummings

pity this busy monster, fanunfandom,

not. Blogging is a comfortable disease:
your victim (news and comfort safely beyond)

plays with the postness of his his blogness
— electrons deify one new item
into a mountainrange; pingback extend
unwish through curving wherewhen till uncomment
returns on its unself.
A world of made
is not a world of born — pity poor blogger

and dragons, poor brackets and reviews, but never this
fine specimen of hypermagical

ultraomnipotence. We commenters know
a hopeless case if — listen: there’s a hell
of a good blog next door; let’s go

Jim Henley destroys a Basho haiku

Vile hive
A scroll drops in
Without a pixel

Kip W changes the stripes on The Tyger

Pyxel! Pyxel! Scrolling fast
In the hives of columns past!
What dread buttons, what dread fans,
Dare dight the thoughts your maker scans!

RedWombat dismounts a Kobayashi Issa haiku

O Pixel!
Climb Mt. File 770
But slowly, slowly.

bloodstone75 carries off The Red Wheelbarrow

So much depends
upon

a fine scrolled
pixel

glazed with troll
nonsense

beside the cruel
brackets

Kip W disassembles Naming of Parts

Today we have scrolling of pixels. Yesterday,
We had spaceship coveting. And to-morrow morning,
We shall have several cascades of puns. But to-day,
To-day we have scrolling of pixels.

Bruce Baugh condenses Prufrock

In the dealer room the SJWs come and go
Speaking of Scalzi and of Hugo
I do not think they will vote for me.

Jonathan Edelstein sabers The Charge of the Light Brigade

Half a scroll, half a scroll
Onward to destiny;
All in the valley of trolls
Wrote the sev’n seventy.
“Essays by Beale I spy!
Time for some snark,” say I:
Into the valley of trolls
Wrote the sev’n seventy.

Puppies are here to stay:
Greet they that with dismay?
Not though they see today
Months more of enmity:
Theirs not to look for sense,
Theirs but to make defense,
Guarding an art immense,
Into the valley of trolls
Wrote the sev’n seventy.

Puppies to right of them,
Puppies to left of them,
Puppies in front of them
Thunder’d unpleasantly:
Storm’d at with insults vile
Stood they with wit and style,
Into the culture wars,
There at the Hugos’ doors
Wrote the sev’n seventy.

Flash’d all their keystrokes swift
Flash’d as they gave short shrift
To those who spurn’d the gift
Cleaning the slate of them
And then, incredibly,
Once silent, they were now
Join’d by a common vow;
Sads and the Rabids
Reel’d from the ballots cast
Driven to entropy:
They were not overwhelmed
Not the sev’n seventy.

Puppies to right of them,
Puppies to left of them,
Puppies behind them
Thunder’d unpleasantly:
Label’d and curs’d apace
Stood they with wit and grace:
They that had won the race
Came thro’ with no awards
Back to the art’s embrace
Now even more of them
More than sev’n seventy.

When can their glory fade?
O the defense they made!
And again presently:
As Rabids now crusade
Honor the fan brigade:
Noble sev’n seventy!

Cally fires a clip at Hiawatha, on the way to Jerusalem

By the shores of the Pacific,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water
Scroll the pixels of Mike Glyer
Host of File 770, Glyer.

***

And did those scrolls in pixeled times
Talk about Fandom’s hopes and dreams?
And were the fans, and authors too,
On Worldcon’s pleasant panels seen?

And did the Hugo winners float
The rest of Worldcon on a cloud?
And Hugo losers truly say
The nomination made them proud?

Bring me my nomination form!
Bring me my list of what I love!
Let no one tell me how to vote;
My socks will orbit up above!

I will not yield to childish taunts,
Nor let a slate make choices less.
And we shall celebrate the works
That Worldcon fans think are the best!

Jim Henley destroys The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Some for the pixels of this scroll; and some
Sigh for the bracket tournaments to come;
Ah, take the filk and let the facecloths go,
Nor heed the rumble of the slates to come.

–From The Rubaiyat of Camestros Felapton.

ULTRAGOTHA immures Mending Wall

Something there is that doesn’t love a Hugo,
That sends the frozen-distain to destroy it,
And scoffs at the stories writ by Other,
And misconstrues even clear basic prose.
The work of puppies is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one word upon a word,
But they would beat the dinosaur with a tire iron,
To please the yelping dogs. The awards I mean,
Puppies have not created them or helped them become,
But at spring nominating-time we find them ripped apart.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to read the stories
And love the prose within covers once again.
We share the books between us as we go.
To each the narrative joy that has fallen to each.
And some are flash and some so nearly epics
We have to use a spell to set them right:
‘Stay as you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our eyes sore with reading them.
Oh, just another kind of well-loved game,
With no sides. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the Hugo:
He is all Fantasy and I am Military Fiction.
My Ray Guns will never fire across
And lay waste the magic in his books, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good genre make good neighbors’.

Ultra Frost

Camestros Felapton toots Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came

Childe Pixel to the Dark Scroll Came – with apologies to Robert Browning

MY first thought was, he lied in every word,
That hoary blogger, with malicious eye
Askance to watch the working of his lie
On mine, and mouth scarce able to afford
Suppression of the glee, that pix’ld and scroll’d
Its edge, at one more victim gain’d thereby.

What else should he be set for, with his posts?
What, save to waylay with his lies, ensnare
All fannish-readers who might find him posting there,
And ask the net? I guess’d what skull-like laugh
Would break, what crutch ’gin write my epitaph
For pastime in that dusty cyberwar,

If at his counsel I should turn aside
Into that ominous tract which, all agree,
Hides the Dark Scroll. Yet acquiescingly
I did turn as he pointed: neither pride
Nor hope rekindling at the end descried,
So much as gladness that some end might be.

For, what with my whole world-wide-web wandering,
What with my search drawn out thro’ years, my hope
Dwindled into a ghost not fit to cope
With that obstreperous joy success would bring,—
I hardly tried now to rebuke the spring
My heart made, finding failure in its scope.

There the filers stood, ranged along the hill-sides, met
To view the last of me, a living frame
For one more comment! in a sheet of flame
I saw them and I knew them all. And yet
Dauntless the slug-horn to my lips I set,
And blew “Childe Pixel to the Dark Scroll came.”

Camestros Felapton plows under Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

An Australian’s Elegy on a US Blog Comment Section (with apologies to Thomas Gray)

The Glyer scrolls the pixel of the parting day,
The filking herd wind slowly o’er the lea,
The comments homeward plod their weary way,
And leaves half the world to darkness and to me.

Kyra rolls up The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

The Lovescroll of J. Alfred Pixel

Let us scroll then, you and I,
Where the pixels are spread out before the eye
Like a screenshot rasterized in nested tables;
Let us link to certain half-demented posts,
And make nostalgic toasts
To restless nights in three-night con hotels
And xeroxed RPGs with broken spells
(Spells that always cause a tedious argument
About authorial intent
And lead you to an underwhelming session —
So do not ask, “How’s that work?”
Just accept it’s mostly hackwork.)

In the scroll the pixels come and go
Talking of Attanasio.

The shallow blog that made a linkback to the Windows screen,
The shallow troll that tried to puzzle out the Windows screen,
Flicked its post into the corners of the comments,
Lingered so it could afterwards complain,
Attempted to backtrack the statements it had uttered,
Slipped in an insult, made a sudden pounce,
And seeing that it was trapped in moderation,
Snarled once about the host, and did a flounce.

After that, there is downtime
From the shallow troll that slides along the blog,
Rubbing its ick upon the Windows screen;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a post to meet the filers that you meet;
There will be time to edit and create,
And time for all the filks for all the fans
That lift and drop a poem on your plate;
Time for you and time for me —
Five minutes for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the finish of the post you see.

In the scroll the pixels come and go
Talking of Sergey Lukyanenko.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Did that rhyme?” and, “Was that worse?”
Time to look back and to soundly curse
At the lame spot in the middle of my verse —
(They will say: “How the verse is past its prime!”)
My meter and my word choice hewing strictly to the rhyme,
My subject apropos with substitutions made at fitting times —
(They will say: “A self-indulgent waste of time!”)
Do I dare
Disturb this classic verse?
In five minutes there’s no time
For decisions and revisions, and past that there’s no reverse.

For I have scrolled them all already, scrolled them all:
Have scrolled in evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my energy in spoons;
I have seen attack ships dying with a dying flare
Above the shoulder of a larger meme
(And glittering C-beams.)

For I have read the books already, read them all—
Books that transfix you with a fascinating phrase,
And when I am fascinated, reading through LeGuin,
When I am pinned and marveling at it all,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all my counterfeit and skim-milk filk?
And how should I presume?

And I have seen the films already, seen them all—
Films that are magical and finely wrought
(But in the daylight, full of holes in plot.)
Are there spoilers I have seen
Disguised in rot13?
Films that spin a timeless fable with a slanted starting crawl..
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?

Shall I say, I have gone at dawn through SF brackets
And watched the votes that come out with the gripes
Of grumpy fans with Feelings, raving about God Stalk? …

I should have banned anthologies, because.
I should have crowdsourced long before round three.

And the pixel scroll, the comments, blog so peacefully!
Smoothed by Mike Glyer,
Relaxed … soothing … or do they tire,
Stretching the page, typed out by you and me.
Do I, as I feel my zeal diminish,
Have the strength to force this filking to the finish?
For though I have tried to keep myself inspired,
Though I have seen my rhymes (grown slightly weak) grow longer with each posting,
I am no poet, and make no great boasting;
I have seen the moment of my bedtime nearing,
And I have seen a comfy blanket temptingly appearing,
And in short, I’m really tired.

bloodstone75 multiplies Sonnet 18

Sonnet 770

Shall I compare this to a nutty tale?
Thou art too pink and poofy in thy prose.
Oh dear, thy hero isn’t even male;
Why must thee push thy dogma up my nose?

Sometime too loud the message fiction shrills
And often is thy plotting sadly dim
In service to thy listing of the ills
That needs must always stem from He and Him.

No, thy eternal grievance shall not fade
Nor wilt thou cease from ruining the gen’re,
‘Til ev’ry con and imprint you invade
Be stripped of fun and manliness and hon’r.

So long as men can type, thine eyes will frown,
And thou wilt work to keep the straight man down.

Kip W. tackles Tichborne’s Elegy

My scroll of pixels is but a flash of suns,
My slate of tales is but a mess of mutts,
My hive of wits is but a mash of puns,
And all my squirreling is but food for nuts;
The game is on, yet I did not pass Go,
And now I tell you what I do not show.

My thread is over, but yet it was not run,
My bows were taken, yet no curtain fell,
My jokes were told, but only half in fun,
And my Farmers did not come from Dell;
The game runs still, over top and below,
And now I tell you, and now you know.

I sought for life and found it on the page,
I looked for laughs and found them in the posts,
I tried to rhyme, for it was all the rage,
And now I’m haunted by great poets’ ghosts;
The glass is crack’d, and out the verses flow,
You’ve told me yours; here’s my quid pro quo.

Jim Henley plays Abbot to Elvis Costello

Welcome to the Pixel Scroll

Now that your fifth is in the roundup being SFnally admired and you can
troll anyone that you have ever desired
All you gotta tell me now is why why why why

Welcome to the pixel scroll
Oh I know that we file ya
because we are vile yeah
Welcome to the pixel scroll
The way it’s dated maybe grated
but at least it’s not slated

We wish our favorites somehow could have survived
Hartwell and Bowie maybe both might still arrive
along with Alan Rickman, and give us all high fives

Welcome to the pixel scroll
Oh I know that we file ya
because we are vile yeah
Welcome to the pixel scroll
The way it’s dated maybe grated
but at least it’s not slated

I heard you sayin’ even Puppies are fine
if they talk about their favorite books
Spend all your money on your TBR
cause you can’t resist the impulse to look

Sometimes I wonder who is really a Trufan
Why’d I break your bracket-heart when I
Rejected miniseries out of hand

Welcome to the pixel scroll
Oh I Welcome to the pixel scroll

Pixel Scroll 11/30 The Doom That Came to File770

(1) TOLKIEN AT THE PLATE. Pitchers’ faces turn almost gargoyle-like at the moment they deliver the baseball. Major league baseball blog Cut4  decided it would be amusing to match those expressions with melodramatic quotes from Lord of the Rings.

The pitch face. Completely uninhibited, wholly pure. Every pitcher has one. It takes a lot of effort to throw a pitch 90-plus mph, after all, and pitchers can’t exactly worry about what arrangement their features make while trying to hit their spots. And so, the pitch face is one of baseball’s most totally human elements.

Below, some of the best we saw this year. And to explain their greatness, we captioned them with quotes from the only movies as epic as these faces: The Lord of the Rings trilogy….

“A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day.”

pitcher

(2) SWEDISH SF ART. A fine gallery accompanies a brief interview with the artist in The Huffington Post’s, “Sci-Fi Painter Simon Stålenhag Turns The Everyday Into Dystopia”.

One artist working actively to infuse visions of the future into scenes from the present is Simon Stålenhag, whose narrative paintings have recently been collected into a book, thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign. The paintings in Tales from the Loop show children and adolescents traipsing across gray plains, energetic in spite of their glum surroundings. Power lines and radio towers dot the skyline, alongside foreign machines, hefty and ominous.

That Stålenhag’s imagined robots stand beside clusters of desktop computers, scoreboards and hatchbacks makes their existence that much more believable. “Look what we’ve created,” he seems to suggest. “Imagine what else we can create.”

staylenhag art

(3) FERMI PARADOX REDUX. A long time ago there was a famous commercial for a hamburger chain that mainly consisted of an elderly woman interrupting a rival’s ad copy, shouting “Where’s the beef?” The Fermi Paradox has a similar effect on speculations about intelligent life in the universe – and Jim Henley’s new post puts a dent in a favorite corollary — “Fermi Conundrum Redux: The Singularity as Great Big Zero?”

Half the objections come from transhumanist types saying that “We’ll just send our robots” or “mind-uploading” or “frozen genetic material raised by AI nannies” or self-replicating Von Neumann machines etc. – the whole LessWrong kitbag of secular eschatons.

But it occurs to me that all that does is bring those notions into the orbit of the Fermi Conundrum, née Fermi Paradox*. The Conundrum, as we all know, runs, “Where is everybody?” That is, we should see evidence of intelligent life Out There or right here or, if you’re especially cynical, should have been wiped out by another civilization before we even evolved this far, just to be on the safe side. The answer, “Maybe there just aren’t any other intelligent civilizations,” almost has to count as the most probable answer to the conundrum at this point.

(4) NEWITZ BIDS GOODBYE. Today was Annalee Newitz’ last day at io9 and Gizmodo. Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders co-founded io9 in 2008. In “I’m Heading Out to the Black. Farewell, io9 and Gizmodo!” at io9, Newitz announced:

And this is where my path diverges from io9 and Gizmodo. This past year managing both sites taught me that I’m not actually interested in being a manager. I want to write. That’s why I got into the writing business, and that’s what I want to do for the rest of my life. So I’ve accepted a position as tech culture editor at Ars Technica, where I’m excited to be devoting all my time to writing about the cultural impact of technology and science.

Did I mention that change is scary? Actually, it’s terrifying. And amazing. And a fundamental, banal part of being trapped in linear time. Anyone who loves the future, or who looks forward to a tomorrow that’s different from today, has to accept the uncertainties of change. Your Utopian vision might lead you straight to the shithole. But sometimes, your one-year speculative experiment grows into a giant robot that saves humanity from giant monsters. You won’t know until you actually veer off the road you were on, and steal a little plutonium to fuel your dreams.

Newitz says Katie Drummond will carry on Gizmodo.

(5) NaNoWriMo PROGRESS. Misty Massey asks “Did You Win NaNo?”  at Magical Words,

Today is the last day of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, a gloriously insane thirty-days of writing like your head is on fire and your booty is catching. I’ve participated for a whole lot of years now, although I never win, because this kind of writing is just not what I do. Despite having been told time and again that I should just write it all down and fix it later, I can’t. It needs to be as perfect and wonderful as I can manage the first time, so my writing style is Eeyore-slow.  But I still sign on for NaNo every year, just in case.  I managed about 9,000 words. Which, for me, is a stunning achievement.

(6) FAVES. Stephanie Burgis lists her “Favorite MG Novels of 2015”. And lo and behold, Ursula Vernon, you are Number Six…

  1. Castle Hangnail, by Ursula Vernon, is a wickedly funny fantasy novel with a fabulous heroine, and it turned me into a huge Ursula Vernon fan. You can read my full review here.

(7) JESSICA REVIEW. Jim Henley’s post “Jessica Jones (And Her Amazing Friends): A Netflix Original Series” sounds like he’s going to keep watching, if you ask me.

(8) BANGING ON. Larry Correia notifies his readers “JP Enterprises is now offering MHI [Monster Hunter International] and MCB logo AR-15 lower receivers” – a logo etching on a gun part.

I just had a fun thought. While certain other bestselling novelists are writing sanctimonious ignorant tweets bleating for more gun control, Larry Correia offers you custom rifles. 🙂

JP-MHI-1024x867

(9) THE RACK IS BACK. Lou Antonelli made sf and fantasy the dominant genres sold at the Dollar General store in Mount Pleasant, TX, as he explains in “Help the spin rack make a comeback!”

In talking about publishing original fiction [in a 2008 article by Antonelli], [Tom] Doherty mentioned that those paperback spin racks we used to see in stores and pharmacies were often a point of entry for people to the s-f and fantasy genres.

They used to be ubiquitous – those tall, vertical wire racks that you could spin around to see all four sides loaded up with mass market paperbacks. Doherty noted how the consolidation of book distribution had all but eliminated them. He said he hoped the fiction published by Tor.com would serve the same function as a point of entry for new readers in the digital age.

…Now, fast forward two and half years, to the summer of 2011. I was scheduled as a panelist at ArmadilloCon in Austin, and one of the panels was on “Secret History”. The Thursday before the convention I stopped at a local Dollar General in Mount Pleasant to pick up some groceries on the way home from work, and while standing in line, I caught sight of a spin rack.

Yes, Dollar General still believes in the spin rack. I walked over and saw that among the books was a copy of Steven Brust’s “The Paths of the Dead”. While I don’t read high fantasy, I bought the book because Brust was on the panel with me.

The following Sunday afternoon, as the panel on Secret History broke up, I stopped and pulled the book out. I told Steve “you know you are a best-selling author when you’re on the spin rack in the Dollar General in Mount Pleasant, Texas! That means your books are sold EVERYWHERE!”

(10) OUT WITH THE OLD. Jeff Duntemann’s photo of “Samples from the Box of No Return” is like a fannish time capsule.

I’m packing my office closet, and realized that The Box of No Return was overflowing. So in order to exercise my tesselation superpower on it, I had to upend it on my office floor and repack it from scratch.

I hadn’t done that in a very long time.

You may have a Box of No Return. It’s downstairs from the Midwestern Junk Drawer, hidden behind the Jar of Loose Change. It’s for stuff you know damned well you’ll never use again, but simply can’t bring yourself to throw away. A lot of it may be mementos. Some of it is just cool. Most of it could be dumped if you were a braver (and less sentimental) man than I….

There follows a descriptive paragraph of the treasures discovered. And things less that treasured.

I tossed a couple of things, like my SFWA membership badge. SFWA wanted to get rid of me for years for not publishing often enough; I saved them the trouble. Rot in irrelevancy, you dorks; I’m an indie now, and making significant money. Some promo buttons were for products I couldn’t even recall, and they went in the cause of making room. But most of it will go back in the (small) box, and it will all fit, with room to spare for artifacts not yet imagined, much less acquired.

(11) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • Born November 30, 1835 – Mark Twain

  • Born November 30, 1937 – Director Ridley Scott

(12) ONE STARS. Scalzi, Leckie, Rothfuss and others reading various one star reviews out loud.

(13) ABRAMS INTERVIEW. “J.J. Abrams Is Excited for Mothers and Daughters To See Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The Star Wars: The Force Awakens director stopped by Good Morning America on Monday to talk about the upcoming release, and how he’s hoping it won’t just be a “boy’s thing.”

Star Wars was always a boy’s thing,” Abrams said. “I was really hoping this could be a movie that mothers could take their daughters to as well.”

In the interview, Abrams also confirmed that he at first refused the offer to direct the new Star Wars film, saying that it was a franchise he so revered that he “thought it would be better just to go the theater and see it like everyone else.” After talking to producer producer Kathy Kennedy, however, Abrams said the opportunity was “too delicious and too exciting to pass up.”

Video of the GMA interview is at the link.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Paul Weimer, Mark-kitteh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Greg.]

Update 12/01/2015: Corrected the link to Jim Henley’s review of Jessica Jones.

This Will Ring Your Chimes

The magnificent series of mashups in yesterday’s comments deserves to be collected in a post. Thanks to the incandescent Kyra and the sublime RedWombat, Simon Bisson, Jim Henley, and Camestros Felapton.

Kyra

“Dr. Suess’ Lord of the Rings”

I am Samwise. I am Samwise. Samwise I am-wise.

Samwise Gamgee! Samwise Gamgee! I do not like Samwise Gamgee!

Would you bear the ring with me?

I will not bear it, Sam Gamgee. I will not bear the ring with thee.

Would you bear the ring to Bree?

I will not bear the ring to Bree. I will not bear it willingly. I will not bear the ring with thee. I will not bear it, Sam Gamgee.

Would you bear it to Weathertop, where ringwraiths stab you when we stop?

I won’t bear it to Weathertop if ringwraiths stab me when we stop. I will not bear the ring to Bree. I will not bear it willingly. I will not bear the ring with thee. I will not bear it, Sam Gamgee.

Would you bear it to Rivendell, where Glorfindel and Elrond dwell?

Not Rivendell, where elf-lords dwell. Nor Weathertop, stabbed when we stop. I will not bear the ring to Bree. I will not bear it willingly. I will not bear the ring with thee. I will not bear it, Sam Gamgee.

Would you? Could you? Through the Mine? (Gandalf will die, but he’ll be fine.)

I would not, could not, through the Mine.

You could bear it now and then. Maybe to Lothlórien!

I would not to Lothlórien. Nor through the Mine, no matter when! I won’t bear it to Rivendell, where Glorfindel and Elrond dwell. I won’t bear it to Weathertop if ringwraiths stab me when we stop. I will not bear the ring to Bree. I will not bear it willingly. I will not bear the ring with thee. I will not bear it, Sam Gamgee.

The Morgul Vale! The Morgul Vale! Would you, to the Morgul Vale?

Not to the Vale, Lothlórien, nor through the Mine, no matter when! I won’t bear it to Rivendell, where Glorfindel and Elrond dwell. I won’t bear it to Weathertop if ringwraiths stab me when we stop. I will not bear the ring to Bree. I will not bear it willingly. I will not bear the ring with thee. I will not bear it, Sam Gamgee.

Say! Past Shelob? Just past Shelob? Would you, could you, past Shelob?

I would not, could not, past Shelob.

Would you, could you in orc jail?

I would not, could not in orc jail, nor past Shelob, nor to the Vale, Lothlórien, or through the Mine. I won’t, and that’s the bottom line. Not Rivendell, nor Weathertop. Not where elves dwell or ringwraiths stop. I will not bear the ring to Bree. I will not bear it willingly.

You will not bear the ring with me?

I will not bear it, Sam Gamgee.

Could you, would you, to Mt. Doom?

I would not, could not to Mt. Doom!

To drop it in a lava flume?

I could not drop it in the flume! I will not take it to Mt. Doom. I will not take it to orc jail! Nor past Shelob! Nor through the Mine! Or to the Vale! I must decline! I won’t bear it to Rivendell, where Glorfindel and Elrond dwell. I won’t bear it to Weathertop If ringwraiths stab me when we stop. I will not bear the ring to Bree. I will not bear it willingly. I will not bear the ring with thee. I will not bear it, Sam Gamgee.

You will not bear it. So you say. Bear it! Bear it! Come what may. Bear it come what may, I say.

Samwise! If you let me be, I will bear it. You will see … Say! Gollum, with his nasty cough, just went and bit my finger off! Then fell right in the lava flume, after I bore it to Mt. Doom! And I bore it through the orc jail, and past Shelob, and through the Vale, Lothlórien, and in the Mine where Gandalf died (but then was fine). And I bore it to Rivendell, where Glorfindel and Elrond dwell. And I bore it to Weathertop, though ringwraiths stabbed me at that stop. And yes, I bore the ring to Bree. I bore that ring most willingly. I’m glad I bore that ring with thee! Thank you, thank you, Sam Gamgee!

 

Kyra

Middlemarch/Red Book of Westmarch

> “And if you replace taking the ring to Mordor in Lord Of the Rings with a young woman making an unsuitable marriage in a perhaps misguided effort to valourise the intellectual over the sensual, you get Middlemarch.”

Miss Undomiel had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress. Her hand and wrist were so finely formed that she could wear sleeves not less bare of style than those in which the Blessed Lúthien appeared to Gondorian painters; and her profile as well as her stature and bearing seemed to gain the more dignity from her plain garments, which by the side of provincial fashion gave her the impressiveness of a fine quotation from the Red Book of Westmarch,—or from one of our elder poets,—in a paragraph of to-day’s broadside …

 

Simon Bisson

“Melville’s Ring World (or The Big Dumb Object)”

Call me Louis Wu. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having far too much money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on Earth, I thought I would explore about a little and see the livable parts of Known Space. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before the organ banks, and snarling up at the face of every Kzinti I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time to get to space as soon as I can. This is my substitute for wirehead and tasp. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the stars. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the skies with me.

 

RedWombat

A Tale of Two Empires

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was a more civilized age, it was a more barbaric age, it was long long ago, it was far far away, it was the season of Jedi, it was the season of Sith, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Coruscant, we were all going direct to Korriban–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

There were an emperor with a pointed jaw and a lord with a plastic face, on the throne of the Empire; there were an admiral with no jaw and a princess with a fair face, on the throne of the Rebellion. In both factions it was clearer than crystal that things in general were settled for ever and there would be no need for prequels ever again.

 

Red Wombat

Ring and Ringwraith

IT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single hobbit in possession of the One Ring must be in want of a volcano.

However little known the feelings or views of such a hobbit may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding armies, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their squadrons.

“My dear Foultongue,” said his second to him one day, as he was roasting cave spiders over an open flame, “have you heard that the Ring is come to Mordor at last?”

Foultongue replied that he had not.

“But it is,” returned she; “for Urguk has just been here, and she told me all about it.”

Foultongue made no answer. His spider was nearly well-done.

“Do not you want to know who Is bearing it?” cried his second impatiently.

“You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it.”

(Presumably an excerpt of Ring and Ringwraith.  And I would be very surprised if no one had done it before.)

 

Jim Henley

“Dashiell Hammitt, Red Barkfest”

I first time heard Puppyville called Poopyville by a red-diapered SJW named Hickey Dewey in the con suite at Wiscon. He also called his butt a boot. I didn’t think anything of what he had done to the movement’s name. Later I heard fen who could manage their u’s give it the same pronunciation. I still didn’t see anything in it but the meaningless sort of humor that made richardsnary the nerd’s word for dictionary. A few years later I read Wisdom From My Internet and learned better.

–Dashiell Hammett, Red Barkfest.

 

Jim Henley

To Wound the Autumnal Fandom

So howled out for the in-crowd to give him an award.

The in-crowd answered with blogs.

All you know I know: tweeting astronauts and bank-clerks glancing at the Kindle during lunch; editors refreshing Facebook pages and gun shop owners wiping a thumbprint from a steel barrel; #blacklivesmatter; know that dark women in writers’ groups shook their heads last week because in six months award season has paled outlandishly; how bile tastes after you’ve read John C. Wright essays, sober, a whole month.

A whole month he slated, reader suggestions tucked in an iCloud folder (the unread one), listening to his friends mention recent publications.

–Samuel R. Delany, Dog-gren.

 

Camestros Felapton

1984

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him. “Wait – isn’t this a science fiction novel already?” he thought as he entered the hallway that smelt of boiled cabbage and old mats. “I thought the idea was to transpose SF/F novels onto classic literature” he pondered as he passed the huge coloured poster, too large for indoor display, that had been tacked to the wall. It depicted simply an enormous face, more than a metre wide: the face of a man of about forty-five, with a heavy black moustache and ruggedly handsome features.

Then he recalled the work he had done that day – excising the lies S.J.W. Goldstein had somehow snuck into the library catalogues of Oceania. He tried hard to focus on the today’s truth. 1984 was literary fiction not science fiction and always had been…

 

Simon Bisson

“Phlebas And Loathing In The Culture: Hunter M Thompson”

We were somewhere around Schar’s World on the edge of the Command System when the glands began to take hold. I remember saying something like “I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive. …” And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the jump lane was full of what looked like huge GSVs, all swooping and screeching and diving around the ship, which was going about 100 times lightspeed in the grid with the top down to the Clear Air Turbulence. And a voice was screaming: “Minds! What are these goddamn knife missiles?”

Then it was quiet again. Kraiklyn had taken his shirt off and was pouring some liquor on his chest, to facilitate the hyperspace jump. “What the hell are you yelling about?” he muttered, staring up at the sun with his eyes closed and covered with wraparound Idiran sunglasses. “Never mind,” I said. “It’s your turn to drive.” I hit the brakes and aimed the Very Fast Picket toward a convenient asteroid belt. No point mentioning those Ships, I thought. The poor bastard will see them soon enough.

 

Red Wombat

From H.P. Lovecraft’s Rebecca

Last night I dreamt I went to many-columned Y’ha-nthlei again. It seemed to me I stood by the dark reef leading to the sea, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me. There were scorch marks and torpedo holes upon Devil’s Reef. I called in my dream to my grandmother, and had no answer, and peering closer through the eldritch swirls of the water I saw that the reef was uninhabited. No Deep Ones swam from the cyclopean caverns, and the little tidepools gaped empty and forlorn. Then, like all dreamers, I was possessed of a sudden with supernatural powers and passed like a spirit through the reef before me.

(Actually…you could totally rewrite Rebecca so that the dead wife is a Deep One and goaded her husband into shooting her when she realized that she was acquiring the Innsmouth Look…but the Venn diagram of overlaps for that particular audience is probably an infinitesimal sliver.)

 

Camestros Felapton

The Case of the Naked Sun by Sir Arthur Issac Asimov Doyle

On glancing over my notes of the seventy odd cases in which I have during the last eight years studied the methods of my friend Elijah Baley, I find many tragic, some comic, a large number merely strange, but none commonplace; for, working as he did rather for the love of his art than for the acquirement of wealth, he refused to associate himself with any investigation which did not tend towards the unusual, and even the fantastic. Of all these varied cases, however, I cannot recall any which presented more singular features than that which was associated with the well-known Spacer family of the Delmarres of Solaria. The events in question occurred in the later days of my association with Baley. It is possible that I might have placed them upon record before, but a promise of secrecy was made at the time, from which I have only been freed during the last month by the untimely death of the lady to whom the pledge was given. It is perhaps as well that the facts should now come to light, for I have reasons to know that there are widespread rumours as to the death of Dr. Rikaine Delmarre which tend to make the matter even more terrible than the truth.

 

Camestros Felapton

District Metamorphosis by Neil Blomkamp

Translated by Frans Kafka

One morning, when Wikus van de Merwe woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible alien ‘prawn’. He lay on his armour-like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could see his brown belly, slightly domed and divided by arches into stiff sections. The bedding was hardly able to cover it and seemed ready to slide off any moment. His mouth pedipalps, pitifully thin compared with the size of the rest of him, waved about helplessly as he looked.

“What’s happened to me?” he thought. It wasn’t a dream. His room, a proper human room although a little too small, lay peacefully between its four familiar walls. A collection of relocation papers lay spread out on the table – Wikus was a manager at MNU – and above it there hung a picture that he had recently cut out of an illustrated magazine and housed in a nice, gilded frame.

To Sail Beyond the Doghouse 5/19

aka Chronicle of a Slate Foretold

Hitched to the sled today are Spacefaring Kitten, David Gerrold, Vox Day, Jim Henley, John C. Wright, Jim C. Hines, Lis Carey, Martin Wisse, Chris Gerrib, Joe Sherry, Rebekah Golden, Bob Snyder, and the masterpiece of Brian Z. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Rev. Bob and Kary English.)

Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring, Extradimensional Kittens

Unfisk / refisk / fisk² – May 19

All I know about smoking ruins is that if that’s to happen, Elric the Prince of Ruins will be pleased. Frankly, I don’t think that anything is truly lost in either case. A Puppy-sponsored work getting a Hugo is not the end of the world and there have been weak winners in the past (and maybe all Puppy-nominated works aren’t that weak). No Award winning means that the majority of the Worldcon voters didn’t enjoy the works on the Rabid Puppies slate (plus the two or three additions that Sad Puppies managed to get up there on their own) and/or they weren’t ready to give in to a campaign of tactical voting, and that’s fine too.

I wonder who are the “CHORFs” Brad’s talking about there. Kevin J. Maroney hasn’t been suggesting that you should vote No Award over everything, slate or not. Neither has Teresa Nielsen Hayden, or Steve Davidson, or Anita Sarkeesian, or John Scalzi, or Karl Marx, or Barack Obama. I’ve been following the discussion rather closely and I remember reading one single blog post in which someone said that the voters should do a blanket No Award thing, and I think nobody was very keen on the idea.

Brad, is it possible that you’re exaggerating?

 

David Gerrold on Facebook – May 18

Coming back to a comment someone made here about “threats of ostracism” — no.

In all the articles I’ve seen, nobody has said, “We’re going to shun X, Y, and Z.”

Because … nobody in fandom has the power to lock anyone out.

But what is possible is that people will choose on their own not to associate with those who they perceive as toxic.

It’s not even an organized boycott. It’s just a personal reaction.

An example from the 70s: There was a C-list author whose behavior toward women was so creepy that when he entered a room, several of the women would quietly and discreetly excuse themselves and leave. He was never specifically ostracized — but individuals were choosing to spend their time elsewhere. That’s the most you’ll ever see in fandom.

And here’s how that works on the larger level:

There are opportunities that are occasionally offered to authors. You get invited to speak, you get handed an award, you get to be a Guest of Honor, sometimes you even get a lifetime achievement plaque. All very nice. But if you have a reputation for being hard to work with, and there are a lot of authors and artists who have that reputation — or if you’re the center of a major controversy, one that you created yourself — the organizers of those opportunities are going to look elsewhere for honorees.

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“King Log or King Stork?” – May 19

The moment that the SJWs in the science fiction community decided they could exclude individuals from it (and whether the SFWA expulsion was technically real or not is irrelevant in this regard), that meant the open community concept was dead. The principle was established. Now we can exclude Eskimos, people with big noses, people with little noses, people who look funny, or people who smell bad; in short, we can openly exclude anyone we have the power and the desire to exclude. There is no longer free speech in science fiction.

There is no longer freedom of expression or thought. It is now a simple ideological power game and we are ready to play that game with extreme prejudice. There is no need for discourse. There is no need for dialogue, for compromise, or negotiations. There is nothing to discuss. They laid out the new rules.

They laid out the new consensus. We not only accept them, we’re going to use make far more ruthless use of them than they ever imagined. Once we were content to let the twisted little moral freaks do and think and say what they wanted, but now they have claimed the right to tell US what to do and think and say we’re not going to tolerate them anymore. We are the sons of the Crusades and the daughters of the Inquisitions. This is a game we know how to win.

 

Jim Henley on Unqualified Offerings

“The Puppies of This Generation and the Trainers of Ever Afterwards” – May 19

What occasioned considerable jocularity in comments was Wright’s statement that

For the record, I write literary fiction…

People laughed at this because many of them have read Wright’s stories and/or essays and found them to be bad. But I have no problem with Wright’s claim whatsoever. Not because I think his stories and essays are actually good. I haven’t read them. People who seem to be acute readers have found his Hugo-nominated work wanting or worse, but even if, as I suspect, they’ve got it right, I still have no problem with Wright calling his own work “literary fiction.”

 

John C. Wright in a comment on File 770 – May 19

I notice this debate consists of two points, endlessly repeated: We say that for which we stand, what our goals and methods and motives are, publicly and repeatedly. The enemy pretends we said something else and that are motives are whatever impure and horrible impulse happens to be at hand. We state that we said what we said and that our motives are what we said. The enemy pretends we did not say it. And repeat.

Now, just as a matter of logic, who has access to knowledge about our inner secret motives? How did we communicate our goals to each other and to our voters aside from public statements of our goals?

 

 

Jim C. Hines

“Hugo Thoughts: Short Fiction” – May 19

No Award will be scoring pretty high in this category. That doesn’t mean I think all of the stories are bad. (Though I don’t think they’re all good, either.) But it’s one thing for a story to be competent or interesting or fun. It’s another thing for that story to be award-worthy, for me to consider it one of the best things published in the past year. Four of these stories don’t clear that bar for me, and the fifth I’ll have to think about a little more.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“The Plural of Helen of Troy (from the collection City Beyond Time), by John C. Wright” – May 19

There’s a plot here, but time travel can make even a simple plot complicated, and Wright has no interest in people following the story. The nonlinear storytelling was a “feature” I didn’t need in a story where I already had difficulty caring what happened to the characters.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Pale Realms of Shade (in The Book of Feasts & Seasons), by John C. Wright” – May 20

Based on reading all the other Wright fiction nominees, I kept waiting for this to go bad places. It didn’t. It’s a solid story that, given it is explicitly religious fiction, expresses beliefs and values that have a strong and positive resonance for me. It won’t work for other people for the very reasons it does work for me, and it’s not so good that it blows me away, but this is the first of the Puppy nominees whose placement on my ballot I will have to think seriously about.

 

Martin Wisse on Wis[s]e Words

“My gods it’s full of puppy poo!” – May 19

That gets you two of last year’s best novels and nobody will force you to read the Kevin J. Anderson. Many of the other categories are of course soiled with Puppy droppings you don’t want even if free, but there are some gems among the dross. Especially so in the Best Graphic Story category, with no Puppy nominee included and complete PDFs of Sex Criminals Vol. 1, Saga Vol. 3, Ms Marvel Vol. 1 and Rat Queens Vol. 1.

Though the Hugo Voting Packet should be seen as a bonus, rather than an inalienable part of buying a supporting membership for Worldcon, for plenty of people this of course has been the main benefit of membership, after getting to vote for the Hugos and all that. For those people this year’s packet is far from a bargain, despite the presence of the books listed above. Another reason to smack down the Puppies..

 

Chris Gerrib on Private Mars Rocket

“Hugo Packet – Thoughts” – May 19

Best Related Mike Williamson’s Wisdom From My Internet is everything the Amazon preview promised, namely random crap half-assedly puked into book format. Yeah, I get that it was parody, but I’m not amused by it. Antonelli’s Letters from Gardner is better (small praise indeed) but seems mostly an excuse for an anthology of Antonelli’s short fiction. No Award for the whole category.

 

Joe Sherry on Adventures in Reading

“Thoughts on the Hugo Award Nominees: Short Story” – May 19

“On a Spiritual Plain” / “A Single Samurai”: One thing that I found very interesting about reading through the nominated short works is that they pair very closely in my head in how I would rank them. Antonelli’s story of a faith (of sorts) on an alien world and a man trying to lead a human spirit to wherever “moving on” turns out to be. It’s a simple story, but cleanly told. The comparison between human faith and that of the alien is interesting. “A Single Samurai”, on the other hand, is a story of action, of one samurai taking on a kaiju about to terrorize the samurai’s land. There is a certain spirituality to the samurai’s thoughts and actions and an economy to the movement and pacing of the story. On a different day, I could flip my ranking of these two stories.

 

Rebekah Golden

‘2015 Hugo Awards Best TV Show: Reviewing Orphan Black” – May 18

I can easily see how the whole series deserves a Hugo and this episode definitely has individual merit.

Rebekah Golden

“2015 Hugo Awards Best Graphic Story: Reviewing Sex Criminals” – May 18

Well this one definitely captured the “graphic” part of graphic story.

Rebekah Golden

“2015 Hugo Awards Best TV Show: Reviewing Grimm” – May 19

It was good, it was entertaining but I’m hung up on the history of the Hugo Award and the depth of respect I feel for past winners. Grimm is good, and this episode is good, but it’s not that good.

 

Adult Onset Atheist

“SNARL: Turncoat” – May 19

For a story where there is so much happening there is very little going on.

 

 

Brian Z. on File 770 – May 19

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for Castalia House that day;
The score stood 16 of 20 with one story out of play.
And then when Kloos withdrew at first, and Bellet did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few turned off the stream in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought if only John C. Wright could get a whack at that–
We’d put up even money now with John Wright at the bat.

But Vox preceded John Wright, as did Bryan Thomas Schmidt,
Resnick already had 36, and Schubert, he had quit;
So upon that Evil League of Pups a pall was settling in,
For there seemed but little chance for John Wright’s editor to win.

Thomas Schmidt’s Kickstarter was still in its final surge,
And Vox, the much despised, had so far failed to reemerge;
And when the list was opened, and the pups saw what had occurred,
There was Resnick safe at second and poor Bryan hugging third.

Then from 5,000 pups and more there rose a lusty bark;
It echoed through the group blogs, it rattled Riverfront Park;
It blasted like a ray gun shining from the Golden Age,
For John Wright, mighty John Wright, was advancing to the stage.

There was ease in John Wright’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in John Wright’s bearing and a smile on John Wright’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No rabbit in the crowd could doubt ’twas John Wright at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he dipped his pen in ink;
The hoi polloi applauded as he urged them to the brink.
Then as Social Justice Warriors began to jibe and snip,
Defiance flashed in John Wright’s eye, a sneer curled John Wright’s lip.

And now the silver-plated rocket came from off the stage,
And John Wright stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy penman the trophy unheeded sped–
“Remember, nits make lice,” said John Wright. “No Award,” the Emcee said.

From Ustream, thick with puppies, there went up a muffled howl,
While Torgersen swooped in again like Weasley’s Great Gray Owl.
“BOO HIM! BOO THE CHORF!” shouted someone in the thread;
And it’s likely they’d have booed him had not John Wright raised his head.

With a smile of Christian charity great John Wright’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the show go on;
He signaled to the Emcee, and once more the rocket flew;
But John Wright still ignored it, and Mr. Gerrold said, “Strike two.”

“Fraud!” cried the rabid puppies, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from John Wright and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his fingers strain,
And they knew that John Wright wouldn’t let that rocket by again.

The sneer is gone from John Wright’s lip, his teeth are clenched in rage;
He scratches with hyperbole his pen upon the page.
And as Due holds the envelope, he continues to compose,
And now the air is shattered by the force of John Wright’s prose.

Oh, somewhere on the favored fen the sun is shining bright;
The filk is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere pups are yelping, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy at Sasquan –mighty John Wright has struck out.