(1) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOOK. George R.R. Martin looks back on “The Long Game… of Thrones”, which came out 20 years ago today.
…Reviews were generally good, sales were… well, okay. Solid. But nothing spectacular. No bestseller lists, certainly. I went on a book tour around that same time, signing copies in Houston, Austin, and Denton, Texas; in St. Louis, Missouri; in Chicago and Minneapolis; and up the west coast to San Diego, Los Angeles, Berkeley, Portland, and Seattle. Turnouts were modest in most places. The crowds didn’t reach one hundred anywhere, and at one stop (St. Louis, if you must know), not only was attendance zero but I actually drove four patrons out of the bookshop, allowing me to set my all time “bad signing” record at minus four (on the plus side, I had the time for long friendly talks with the readers who did show up).
But my oh my, things have changed a bit in these last twenty years….
(2) OBAMA ON BEING A NERD. “President Barack Obama on How To Win The Future” at Popular Science.
PS: Do you consider yourself a nerd and, if so, what’s your nerdiest pastime?
BO: Well, my administration did write a pretty detailed response to a petition, explaining why we wouldn’t build a real-life Death Star, so I’d like to think I have at least a little nerd credibility built up.
What’s remarkable is the way “nerd” is such a badge of honor now. Growing up, I’m sure I wasn’t the only kid who read Spider-Man comics and learned how to do the Vulcan salute, but it wasn’t like it is today. I get the sense that today’s young people are proud to be smart and curious, to design new things, and tackle big problems in unexpected ways. I think America’s a nerdier country than it was when I was a kid—and that’s a good thing!
(3) SWAP HIS SCARF FOR THE GARTER. John Harvey has started a petition at Change.org calling for Tom Baker to receive a knighthood.
After reading a recent edition of Doctor Who Magazine, the stark realisation set in that after a life time in entertainment and tireless charity work, visits to hospitals and hospices, the living legend that is Tom Baker has not been officially recognised in any way shape or form.
Tom Baker’s commitment to the role of the 4th doctor and his many charitable acts since and brightened the lives of children and adult’s everywhere.
In an age where the like’s of James Corden can receive honours so early in their career, I think it’s a travesty. I’d like to try to change that and right this wrong.
(4) LOCUS POLL. The July issue of Locus published the survey rankings – Black Gate posted the top 10 in the magazine category.
- Asimov’s SF
- Fantasy & Science Fiction
- File 770
- Black Gate
- Strange Horizons
(4) MORE ON JOYCE KATZ. As big a loss as it is to fanzine fandom, there are gaming journalists who felt Joyce Katz’ death just as keenly. Chris Kohler of WIRED paid tribute: “Joyce Worley Katz, Pioneering Videogame Critic, Has Passed Away”.
Joyce Katz, who along with her husband Arnie Katz and friend Bill Kunkel founded the first magazine devoted to videogames, has passed away at the age of 77.
Katz, who wrote professionally under her maiden name Joyce Worley, was senior editor of the magazine Electronic Games from its founding in 1981 until just prior to its shuttering in 1985. She went on to take senior editorial roles at gaming publications throughout the 1990s, including Video Games & Computer Entertainment and the relaunched Electronic Games…..
Joyce had continued to write about games regularly until the closing of the second run of Electronic Games in the mid-90s. In the August 1994 issue of that publication, Katz made note of the industry’s worrying shift away from “games for everyone” to a hyper-violent boys’ club: “Tetris and Shanghai charmed women, Mortal Kombat did not.”
It was a prescient column in more ways than one. Katz looked forward to a future in which online gaming would make women “feel less threatened by on-lookers who might tease or criticize their performance in a game.” Sadly, it did not turn out to be that simple. But she also predicted that easier-to-use hardware coupled with better software design would keep girls gaming their whole lives, a future she did live to see.
“Somewhere between age 9 and 12, we lose the ladies,” Worley wrote. “We may never get back the teenaged girls, but hopefully we can arrange gaming so that we won’t lose them in the first place.”
(5) JUST. ONE. BOOK. Margaret Elysia Garcia and friends are still processing the avalanche of donations that came in response to their appeal for people to send books to a rural California school library.
I am bone tired and weary. I have biceps I haven’t had since my kids were toddlers. I am happy to say we have only 20 more boxes to open at the library–and hopefully none will come tomorrow. We are few people and we need to catch up. The generosity is overwhelming. Thank you. Thank you cards have begun and imagine they will take the better part of the fall semester to complete. I hope a thank you here is also enough as some boxes came in damaged in parts and addresses were not always readable. Please be patient. I’ve had a few emails from people thinking perhaps that we have 200 people and a sophisticated technology set up to respond. Alas we have a couple dozen people who donate time when they can. And we have one very exhausted me who has some reinforcements coming this week thank goodness.
(6) SPACEDOCK. See how the original model Enterprise was restored.
This is a short film showing the process of the detail paint work on the restoration of original U.S.S. Enterprise miniature. The work was done between the 11th and the 23rd of April 2016 at the Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy facility. The model is now on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.
(7) IT’S TOO LATE, BABY, IT’S TOO LATE. Yesterday, when it wasn’t, Timothy the Talking Cat posted, “Timothy says: Hugos! Vote! Vote now! Before it is TOO LATE!”
So I say to you all: Go back to your constituencies and prepare for government! You have nothing to fear but the lurking horror in your basement! We shall fight them on the bleachers! Countrymen lend me your ears! But above all in the immortal words of Theodore Cruz: Vote yourself conscious!
(8) THE HORROR. Jason P. Hunt did a roundup of all the horror genre news that came out of San Diego Comic-Con at SciFi4Me.
“Want to see something really scary?”
Remember that line from The Twilight Zone? Well, we have a scary big pile of news on the horror side of things from Comic-Con International in San Diego.
(9) TITLES TO BE UNLOCKED. Thanks to Petréa Mitchell we know the list of achievement trophies in No Man’s Sky:
No spoilers, other than the names of the trophies themselves. They’re all named after sf works. There’s a mixture of old and new, classic and obscure, Puppy-approved and degenerate SJW… even one (out of 23) written by a woman.
Attain ‘Confused’ status in Words Collected
Attain ‘Archivist’ status in Uploaded Discoveries
(10) WHALE OF A TAIL. This will unquestionably float somebody’s boat — “Channing Tatum to Play Mermaid in ‘Splash’ Remake for Disney”.
Disney is moving forward on a remake of the 1984 film Splash with an interesting twist: Channing Tatum will star as the mermaid character that was played by Daryl Hannah while Jillian Bell will play the character originally played by Tom Hanks.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
- August 1, 1819 – Herman Melville. It took John Huston to get Ray Bradbury to read the book.
(12) SFWA GRANTS. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America is taking applications for grants for worthy projects until October 1.
Last year the Givers Fund received enough donations to provide grants to projects such as the LaunchPad astronomy program, the Alpha Workshop for Young Writers, the Clarion West Writers Workshop, and the SFWA Star Project, among others, in the program’s first year.
The Grants Committee evaluated the multiple proposals on a number of criteria, the most important of which was how well they served the genre community and its writers. For example, the SFWA Star Project looks for a crowdfunded initiative each month to support by spreading the word as well as with a small donation. The innovative effort underscores SFWA’s leadership in new publishing models, including being the first writing organization to take crowdfunding as professional credentials.
This year we are continuing to provide grants to worthy projects. If you have a nonprofit project that you think would benefit the writing community, please submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Application forms must be submitted by October 1st. Decisions on recipients will be finalized in November of this year and applicants notified by year’s end.
(13) CHEER YOURSELF DOWN.
If you are having a bad day, remember:
Ursula Le Guin has never written a bestselling book.
— Kameron Hurley (@KameronHurley) August 1, 2016
(14) TOR EBOOK. The Tor.com Free eBook Club Pick for August is The Just City by Jo Walton.
Sign up for the Book Club, or sign in if you’re already registered, to download the book (available only from August 1 through 7).
(15) WHAT IS PLANNING. Nigel Quinlan’s “Outline Planning Permission Part 2” went up on Writing.ie today.
…I challenged myself to PLAN. I wrestled with the big issues. What was planning? Was coffee planning fuel? What did it mean to plan? When was I getting another cup of coffee? Wasn’t planning just writing, only without the fun? (No, that’s making radical revisions because you wrote without a proper plan, Nigel.) I drank coffee. I read up on planning. Some was useful, some wasn’t. It became apparent that I was going to have to devise a method that worked for me.
This is where I’m at, by the way. I’m, er, making up my planning as I go along.
I got loads of notebooks and spread them around my desk in a very satisfactory manner.
Then I wasted time on the internet. Then I stopped because procrastination gets depressing after a while.
I wrote out the story so far.
I filled a big page with the names of all the characters so far and indicated roughly their relationships.
I made a tentative list of characters who have yet to appear and gave some indication of their roles and relationships.
I made a list of settings and gave rough ideas of how the story moves from place to place and what occurs there. I gave detail where I had them and left things vague where I didn’t, and decided not to worry about the vague bits – that’s rather the point of planning: find the vague bits and fill ‘em in.
I made a list of words I associated with the story as a whole. Random words, some reflecting theme, some mood, some character, some representing nothing yet.
I wrote out my ideas for the rest of the story, asking questions, posing alternatives, highlighting some of the stuff that needed work and trying to remain calm at the vast spaces that remained vague and undefined.
I sat and surveyed what I had done. And it was a start….
(16) DISCWORLD CON. The North American Discworld Convention 2017 announced yesterday –
Hotel Contract Signed!
We are delighted to announce that the North American Discworld® Convention 2017 will be held in New Orleans, LA, September 1–4 next year. Membership and hotel details will be announced in the next month, but for now, save the dates and start contemplating which costumes you’ll want to wear as you attend The Genuan Experience!!
(17) DID THE EARTH MOVE FOR YOU? Speaking of the earth moving (as we did in a recent Scroll), the BBC just did a report on continental drift accompanied by speculative animated maps tracing their movement back 750 million years and forward 250.
Science calls it “Pangaea Proxima”. You might prefer to call it the Next Big Thing. A supercontinent is on its way that incorporates all of Earth’s major landmasses, meaning you could walk from Australia to Alaska, or Patagonia to Scandinavia. But it will be about 250 million years in the making.
For Christopher Scotese at the University of Texas at Arlington, the fact that our continents are not stationary is tantalising. How were they arranged in the past – and how will they be positioned in the future?
“Fifty million years from now, Australia will be in collision with southeast Asia to a much larger degree,” he says. Africa will also be pushing right up against southern Europe, while the Atlantic will be a far wider ocean than it is today.
(18) GLAZE NOTE. In case anyone wondered if it was possible, the BBC explains “How to break glass with sound”. Step one: not with one’s voice.
You’re probably familiar with the urban legend: the opera singer ascends the stage and clears his throat. His audience cheer and wave their champagne flutes in anticipation. He opens his mouth – and a roomful of glasses smash to pieces. We have no record that this has ever actually happened, but there were rumours that the legendary tenor Enrico Caruso could quiver a glass into a million pieces.
(19) SHARKNADO 4, THE COMPLETE SPOILER REVIEW. Be honest, you weren’t going to watch it anyway, so why not read Jordan DesJardin’s “Movie Review: ‘Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens’” at ScienceFiction.com?
I don’t want to spoil the ending, but the words ‘Shark-ception” definitely comes to mind. ‘Sharknado: The 4th Awakens’ culminates is probably the most ridiculous ending of any of these films to date, and there is nothing to not love about it. If you’re a fan of the first three, you’ll love this one. And really if you’ve never seen a ‘Sharknado’ movie before (in which case, what is wrong with you, get on that!), it is really difficult not to have a good time while watching this movie. We highly recommend pairing this movie (and the previous three) with a large couch, several good friends, some snacks and drinks, and you are all set for one hell of a ride!
(20) HOLODECK. You’ve just been drafted into the crew of the Enterprise. Would you rather wear a redshirt or a gray coverall?
Worst gig in Starfleet: Holodeck janitor.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) July 31, 2016
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Gary Farber, Petréa Mitchell, Mark-kitteh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]