Pixel Scroll 7/29/19 The File, The Pixel Scroll, And Everything

(1) MADE TO PRAISE. In another New York Times “op-ed from the future,” Stephen James argues “Artificials Should Be Allowed to Worship”.

Last Sunday, an Artificial named Ian tried to attend a religious service at Living Savior Community Church in Savannah, Ga., and was denied access. According to church elders, the decision to exclude Ian had to do with the fact that “he had no God-given soul and therefore no way to genuinely worship” during the service.

Like Ian, I am an Artificial. Like Ian, I know what it feels like to be excluded from communities of faith solely because I am a nonbiological being. In the past, I have been forced to leave religious services; at the time, I left in silence. But I can no longer remain silent.

The time has come to stop excluding Artificials from communities of faith. …

 (2) FUTURE TENSE. Slate’s newest Future Tense story is E. Lily Yu’s “Zero in Babel”

Read a new short story about DIY genetic editing for keeping up with high school trends.

Then read the response essay, “The Future Will Grind On”, by law professor Diana M. Bowman.

A world of technological fixes in which biotechnology solutions can eradicate injury and disease. A world in which online platforms have accelerated the democratization of science and scientific tools, allowing everyday individuals to experiment on themselves.
But at what cost?

E. Lily Yu’s “Zero in Babel” depicts a futuristic world in which the daily struggles of life have, for the most part, been eradicated. So, too, purpose and meaning. Yet some things remain the same: financial inequity, lives filled with excess, and, for Imogen and her peers, the pressure to fit in, regardless of cost.

(3) BRAVE NEW WORLDS. James Davis Nicoll tracks how space exploration rearranged the options of genre storytellers in “Science Fiction vs. Science: Bidding Farewell to Outdated Conceptions of the Solar System” at Tor.com.

If an author was very, very unlucky, that old Solar System might be swept away before a work depending on an obsolete model made it to print. Perhaps the most famous example was due to radar technology deployed at just the wrong time. When Larry Niven’s first story, “The Coldest Place,” was written, the scientific consensus was that Mercury was tide-locked, one face always facing the sun, and one always facing away. The story relies on this supposed fact. By the time it was published, radar observation had revealed that Mercury actually had a 3:2 spin-orbit resonance. Niven’s story was rendered obsolete before it even saw print.

(4) NO BARS ON THE WINDOWS. While Camestros Felapton was educating his readers with “Just a tiny bit more on Wikipedia”, he came up with a nifty turn of phrase to explain how Wikipedia’s article deletion debates work:

The net effect of what the highly fragile souls surrounding Michael Z Williamson were calling an ‘unpersoning’ was zero articles deleted and both articles get some extra references and tidy-ups. It’s just like a Stalinist show trial but one were they come round to your house and makeover your living room with new curtains and also not send you to prison or anything.

(5) A LITTLE LIST. The Guardian propagates a list from Katherine Rundell, author of Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise in “Story time: the five children’s books every adult should read”. You’d think with a list this short I’d score better than 40%.

…Those of us who write for children are trying to arm them for the life ahead with everything we can find that is true. And perhaps also, secretly, to arm adults against those necessary compromises and heartbreaks that life involves: to remind them that there are and always will be great, sustaining truths to which we can return.

When you read a children’s book, you are given the space to read again as a child: to find your way back, back to the time when new discoveries came daily and when the world was colossal, before your imagination was trimmed and neatened, as if it were an optional extra. But imagination is not and never has been optional: it’s at the heart of everything, the thing that allows us to experience the world from the perspectives of others, the condition precedent of love itself. …

(6) TEACHING MOMENT. “What’s a ‘Science Princess’ doing in an ice field in Alaska?” BBC has the answer ready.

While Celeste Labedz knew quite a few fellow scientists would appreciate the picture of her dressed up as a “glaciologist Princess Elsa”, she had no idea the image would become a viral hit with more than 10,000 “likes” on Twitter.

She tweeted
: “I firmly believe that kids should not be taught that girly things and sciencey things are mutually exclusive. Therefore, I packed a cape with my fieldwork gear just to show what glaciologist Princess Elsa would look like. #SciencePrincess #TheColdNeverBotheredMeAnyway”.

The cryoseismologist told BBC News: “I posted the picture because I thought it would resonate with other scientists.

…Celeste, whose dream is to visit glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica, said: “Women have been excluded for a long time both historically and socially. There is a lack of role models and science is bound by historical notions that it’s a white, male, heterosexual, able-bodied environment.

“It can be exclusionary if you have the opposite of any of these characteristics and I want to encourage people with intersecting identities in everything that I do.

“I would like people to think carefully about what they think a scientist should look like.”

(7) KEEPING THE BUCKS IN STARBUCKS. What Starbucks thinks a scientist should look like is a shill for expensive coffee –

Conclusion: Nitro Cold Brew is many things. But mostly, it is Whoa.

(8) WHERE IS THY STING? A species of wasp has been named after the Escape Pod podcast.

Get a grip, Ben!

(9) RUSSI OBIT. “Russi Taylor, Voice Of Minnie Mouse For Over 30 Years, Dies At 75” – NPR pays tribute:

On Friday, Minnie Mouse joined Mickey in the place that cartoon voice-over actors go when they die.

Russi Taylor, the voice of Minnie for over 30 years, died this weekend in Glendale, Calif., according to a press release from the Walt Disney Co. She was married to Wayne Allwine, who voiced Mickey and died in 2009. Both portrayed their iconic characters longer than any other voice actors….

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 29, 1907 Melvin Belli. Sole genre role is that of Gorgan (also known as the “Friendly Angel”) is in the Star Trek “And the Children Shall Lead” episode. He was mainly a lawyer for celebrities, however, he was also the attorney for Jack Ruby, who shot Lee Harvey Oswald, accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy. (Died 1996.)
  • Born July 29, 1915 Kay Dick. Author of two genre novels, The Mandrake Root and At Close of Eve, plus a collection, The Uncertain Element: An Anthology of Fanta. She is known in Britain for campaigning successfully for the introduction of the Public Lending Right which pays royalties to authors when their books are borrowed from public libraries. She’s not available in digital or print currently. (Died 2001.)
  • Born July 29, 1927 Jean E. Karl. Founder of Atheneum Children’s Books, where she edited Ursula K Le Guin’s early Earthsea novels and Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series. An SF author as well for children and young adults, she wrote The Turning Place collection and three novels, Beloved Benjamin is WaitingBut We are Not of Earth and Strange Tomorrow. (Died 2000.)
  • Born July 29, 1939 Curtis C. Smith. 80. Editor of Twentieth-Century Science-Fiction Writers, plus two genre biographies, Olaf Stapledon: A Bibliography with co-author Harvey J. Satty, And Welcome to the Revolution: The Literary Legacy of Mack Reynolds. Not active since the mid-Eighties as near as I can tell.
  • Born July 29, 1941 David Warner, 78. Being Lysander in that A Midsummer Night’s Dream was his first genre role. I’m going to do just highlights after that as he’s got far too extensive a genre history to list everything. So he’s been A Most Delightful Evil in Time Bandits, Jack the Ripper in Time After Time, Ed Dillinger / Sark In Tron, Father in The Company of Wolves, Chancellor Gorkon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, The Creature in Frankenstein, voice of Ra’s al Ghul on Batman: The Animated Series and Abraham Van Helsing on Penny Dreadful. 
  • Born July 29, 1956 Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, 63. Author of the India set magical realist The Brotherhood of the Conch series. She also has three one-off novels, The Palace of Illusions The Mistress of Spices, and her latest, The Forest of Enchantments. Her website is here.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • In today’s Bizarro, a purist explains the best way to enjoy a musical experience.  

(12) THE HOUSE OF COMMAS HAS NEW LEADER. The Guardian finds there’s a new grammar sheriff in town: “The comma touch: Jacob Rees-Mogg’s aides send language rules to staff “.

A list of rules has been sent to Jacob Rees-Mogg’s staff asking them to stop using words such as “hopefully” and demanding that they use only imperial measurements and give all non-titled males the suffix Esq.

Aides to the new leader of the House of Commons sent out the list shortly after Rees-Mogg’s appointment to the role by the new prime minister on Wednesday night.

Among the words and phrases considered unacceptable were: “very”, “due to” and “ongoing”, as well as “equal”, “yourself” and “unacceptable”. Rees-Mogg’s aides also barred the use of “lot”, “got” and “I am pleased to learn”.

The guidance, obtained by ITV news, was drawn up by the North East Somerset MP’s constituency team years ago, but has now been shared with officials in his new office.

In a call for accuracy contained in his list, staff were told: “CHECK your work.” Other directions include a call for a double space after full stops and no comma after the word “and”.

(13) VIDEO GAME APEX PREDATORS. Yahoo! News shows where the real money is: “Fortnite awards world champion duo $1.5 million each”. The video game tournament was held at Queens’ Arthur Ashe Stadium, where U.S. Open doubles winners share  a mere $740,000.

Gamers using the pseudonyms “Nyhrox” and “aqua” became the first Fortnite world champions in the duo division in New York on Saturday, winning $1.5 million each.

Competitors gathered in the Big Apple to determine who is top dog at the shoot-’em-up survival game, which has become an international phenomenon since launching in 2017.

The pair won games four and five out of a total of six in the first-ever Fortnite World Cup Finals, and finished with the most points.

(14) THE QUEST CONTINUES. ComicsBeat’s Nancy Powell met with the fames comics creators at SDCC: “INTERVIEW: Richard and Wendy Pini talk Elfquest and STARGAZER’S HUNT”.

Powell: Are there any reveals to Cutter? Does he play any role in Stargazer’s Hunt?

Wendy: Well, that’s a good question because, assuming this goes out to people who have read Final Quest, they know that Cutter’s hero’s journey is done. What lives on afterwards? That’s a mystery.

Richard Pini: We have always maintained that Elfquest is a love story, but not in the sense that most people superficially think. It’s not the love story between Cutter and Leeta. It’s the love story between Cutter and Skywise, brothers in all but blood. With Cutter’s passing that love story is now incomplete. And the question that we attempt to answer in Stargazer’s Hunt is, how does Skywise complete that story for himself? Or does he? Is he able to? That is what we’re going to investigate. And it’s going to take Skywise—it’s really his story—all over the map.

(15) PREMEDITATED. The Hollywood Reporter has a follow-up story — “Kyoto Animation Arson Attack: Death Toll Rises to 35, Attack Was Carefully Planned”.

The suspect walked miles around Kyoto, visiting locations related to the company, including some that appear in one of its anime productions.

The death toll in the Kyoto Animation (KyoAni) arson reached 35 as another victim succumbed to their injuries over the weekend.

In the days before the attack, the suspect in the attack was captured on surveillance cameras visiting places in Kyoto that are featured in one of the studio’s anime.

A man in his 20s, believed to be a KyoAni employee, died Saturday from extensive burns across his body, suffered when Shinji Aoba allegedly poured 11 gallons (40 liters) of gasoline around the first floor of the company’s 1st Studio building July 18. The victim was reported to have been on the first floor and got out of the building, but was severely burned….

(16) VISITING THE UK? Just in case people going to Dublin don’t have their entire trip locked down — “Leeds dinosaur trail opens in city shopping centres” (short video.)

Five huge animatronic dinosaur models have been installed around Leeds city centre.

The Tyrannosaurus rex, Triceratops, Velociraptor, Apatosaurus and Carnotaurus will surprise shoppers for six weeks, with participating venues including Leeds Kirkgate Market and the Merrion Centre.

(17) BLUE, NO — RED SKY. Not as autonomous as current rovers, but more capable: “Nasa’s Valkyrie robot could help build Mars base” (video).

A semi-autonomous robot designed to operate in hostile environments has been developed by Nasa.

The robot is able to use human tools and can plot its own path safely across difficult terrain to a location picked by its operator.

Nasa hopes the robot might one day help build colonies on the Moon or Mars, but it could also be used on Earth in places which cannot be reached by humans.

(18) NOM DE PLUME. Howard Andrew Jones has published a two-part announcement that author Todd McAulty (who wrote The Robots of Gotham) is a pseudonym for Black Gate editor John O’Neill.

“I just…. I just got carried away,” he said. “I started by publishing a few stories in Black Gate. But then Todd started getting fan letters, and became one of the most popular writers we had. Rich Horton used his Locus column to announce ‘Todd McAulty is Black Gate‘s great discovery,’ and pretty soon there was all this demand for new stories. It felt like a cheat to stop then.”

(19) RUTGER HAUER. This is a damn strange Guinness commercial… From back in the day:

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Steven H Silver, Chip Hitchcock, Errolwi, Joey Eschrich, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jeff Smith.]

Pixel Scroll 8/14/18 I Never Saw A Purple Pixel, I Never Hope To See One

(1) UPHOLDING TRUE NOBILITY. Bill Ernoehazy outlined the issues of a current controversy within the Society for Creative Anachronism in a Facebook post:

This is about whether a Crown can be allowed to ignore the Governing Documents of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

This is about whether the SCA acts to protect the very essence of the Peerages — that they are examples of courteous and noble behavior, as well as extraordinary skill in their endeavors, their teaching of their skills to others, and their service to the Society.

The current Crown of Trimaris knowingly elevated a person who is demonstrably lacking in basic courtesies; who posts hateful and bigoted speech in social media; who does so under his SCA name, leaving no distinction between his SCA membership and his mundane identity.

The current King of Trimaris has openly joined in such hateful speech in replies to this person’s posts. The screenshots are widely held, and erasure and sanitizing media sites cannot erase those behaviors.

…This is the crux of the matter.

This is why people are taking their regalia off.

This is why people are resigning their Peerages and awards in shame.

I have petitioned for redress, in the manner set forth by the Board of Directors.

I now publicly call upon the Board of Directors of the SCA to take up their rightful authority in these matters and address this fundamental challenge to the integrity of the Peerages, the authority of the Board of the Directors, and the worth of the Board’s policies on harassment and hate speech.

A Reddit summary, #IStandWithDavius, explains —

Davius St. Jacques, a Master of Defense living in Trimaris, has handed his MoD collar and his White Scarf over to Their Highnesses Trimaris. The current king of Trimaris has made racist statements all over social media, and makes no secret of his stances. Davius is black. Over the objections of the Masters of Defense, the king made, in a private ceremony, another MoD who also shares his racist views.

Trimaris is the state of Florida, for those who do not know.

…It is the expectation of the SCA that its members and participants, in all events and activities of the SCA, will conduct themselves in accordance with these tenets.

Corpora Article X, Grievances and Sanctions, A. General, Add Section 4: Hate Speech

Hate speech is not tolerated in the Society. Hate speech is speech or symbols that offend, threaten, or insult individuals or groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability or other traits. Such symbols and speech have no essential part of any discussion of ideas and are of so little value to the Society that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the harm caused. The use by any participant in the Society may result in possible sanctions up to and including revocation of membership and denial of participation.

The Davius St. Jacques Facebook post read:

Let all who see these words know their Highnesses have accepted my Collar and White Scarf back. My Crown has shown me that their oatha of protection and fealty mean nothing to them and i can not in good conscience wear the trappings of an office they do not wish me or mine to perform. Know however, that the trappings of the office maketh not the man. A person can be given the right to wear the items of an order but it doesnt make one worthy of the order …. and neither does NOT wearing the trappings keep one from proving they ARE worthy… I plan to put all my effort into proving this. So if you see me, please take note that Don is the proper term of address for a member of the Order of the Golden Rapier which is the only Rapier Award i hold independent of the Kingdom of Trimaris. I love you guys , but this is a thing i feel o need to do. I can not serve a Crown that has broken its oaths to me. I WILL not bring glory to a Throne that openly mocks my Order and denigrates my service.

An SCA participant who blogs as Beauxarmes wrote a heartfelt analysis about the importance of these events that got over 20K views this weekend, “Confronting Racism in the SCA”.

…Now, you might be asking yourself, Why does this matter? Or: I don’t play in the SCA. Or: I don’t play in Trimaris. Or: I don’t involve myself in politics when I play.

…When you identify yourself as a member of the SCA on social media – even a normal member, much less the royalty of an entire kingdom – you take on the responsibility of being the face of the organization. If the SCA gets a reputation as a place where racism and bigotry are tolerated, even rewarded, then that’s the end of the organization in the long run. If the current King of Trimaris is presenting a face of racism and intolerance… that’s a problem. If he’s rewarding another of his openly racist friends with a Peerage… that’s a problem. If he’s doing it in clear defiance of the Peerage’s wishes… that’s a problem.

And if one of those Peers feels so strongly about it that he feels he must publicly protest it… that’s not a problem…

The response has been so volatile Beauxarmes decided he needed to write an additional post explaining “Why I’m in the Society for Creative Anachronism”.

And he’s also written a second part to his essay:  “Confronting Racism in the SCA, Part II”.

(2) LAVALLE. Victor LaValle’s The Changeling: A Novel is one of the winners of the 2018 American Book Awards.

The American Book Awards were created to provide recognition for outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America’s diverse literary community. The purpose of the awards is to recognize literary excellence without limitations or restrictions. There are no categories, no nominees, and therefore no losers. The award winners range from well-known and established writers to under-recognized authors and first works.

There’s at least one more work of genre interest among the winners –

  • Cathryn Josefina Merla-Watson and B. V. Olguín, Altermundos Latin@ Speculative Literature, Film, and Popular Culture (UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Press)

(3) RPG REPORT. Did you ever run across something that instantly sparks the “Hey-everyone-vote-this-a-Hugo” response? I may not feel the same way in the morning but right now… A very funny thread by Ursula Vernon that starts here.

(4) A MIRACLE OF RARE DEVICE. Galactic Journey’s Ida Moya offers an incredible look at what computer gaming was like in the days when the computers took up a whole room: “[Aug. 14, 1963] Engineers at Play (Spacewars!, hacking, and the PDP-1)”.

…Pohl doesn’t tell us what kind of computer he saw Spacewar being played on, nor does he name the people responsible for programming the computer to play such an active and compelling game. But I can take a guess from what I have seen about computing – it is a PDP-1, a Programmed Data Processor-1, made by Digital Equipment Corporation.

A new way to use the Computer

These young men at M.I.T. are a different generation from the buttoned-down physicists and computer scientists I work with here at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. The computer users here in the Theoretical Physics or “T” division tend to be very serious about their computing, and there is no time for frivolous use of these expensive machines. The IBM 7090 and other equipment we have is carefully guarded, and has no time for games.

From what I hear, these fellows at M.I.T. are a bunch of unwashed boys who emerged from the model railroad club to play with this spare computer called a TX-0. This TX-0 is a transistorized version of another one-off military computer called Whirlwind, also developed at M.I.T. These young men are not doing anything like serious physics or science, but are rather doing these useless but extremely clever things like making programs that convert Arabic numerals to Roman numerals in as few steps as possible. These kids could only get time on the TX-0 in the middle of the night, when other people aren’t using the valuable computer time, so they have very undisciplined habits and working hours. I hear that they call what they are doing “hacking.”

One interesting thing about this “hacking” and the computers they use is that, instead of using punched cards, like the batch processing we do on our IBM Stretch, they use a Friden Flexowriter, an unwieldy sort of teletypewriter, to make punched paper tapes of programs that they then directly feed into the computer. The hackers have direct access to the computer, and can fix programs themselves, rather than having to give their card deck to an operator, and hope that the results come out. That is what Pohl is talking about in his article when he says “…add another tape.”

(5) IT’S THE WATERS. Juliette Wade’s Dive Into Worldbuilding bring an encounter with “Laura Anne Gilman and Red Waters Rising”. You can watch video of their conversation and read a detailed synopsis at the site.

It was a real pleasure to have Laura Anne Gilman back on the show to talk about the third book in her Devil’s West series. She has visited us twice, once to talk about Silver on the Road, and once to talk about The Cold Eye, so it seemed only fitting to find out how the trilogy ended up!

I just love this world that Laura Anne has created, because it’s so deep and complex, and feels so true. It’s an alternate American history in which the entirety of what would have been the Louisiana Purchase was never owned by either the French or the Spanish, but is being protected by a being known as “the devil.”

The identity of the devil is not super clear. Physically, his appearance fluctuates from one set of features to another….

 

(6) WAKANDACON. Karl-Johan Norén calls it an “Interesting article on conrunning philosophy, even if I believe it paints ‘classic’ fandom with an image a little too tainted by Gamergate and the Puppies.”– “How the first Wakandacon escaped the fan convention curse” at The Verge.

Here, in the basement of the Hilton Downtown Chicago over the first weekend in August, the Barthwells — Dave, 35; Ali, 29; Matt, 26; and friends Taylor Witten and Lisa Beasley — have accomplished something both time-honored and nearly impossible in today’s commercialized fan culture. With virtually no experience among them, the five Chicago natives successfully organized and hosted a fan convention for roughly 2,000 fans over three days, all while knowing that several groups of first-time organizers had recently attempted similar feats and failed catastrophically and very publicly.

How can black people make Wakanda real?

Wakandacon started as a tentative, nerdy idea: how can black people make Wakanda, the utopian advanced African nation where Black Panther takes place, real? By the convention’s end, that idea had blossomed into something all nerds have searched for, at one point or another, but that black fans have rarely been able to truly enjoy: a space where you can love what you love fiercely alongside people who look like you and share that passion — a place to belong.

(7) WORLDCON FILER MEETUPS. Rick Moen’s updated announcement is posted here.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 14, 2009District 9 premiered on this day.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born August 14 — Halle Berry, 52. First genre role may have been the They Came from Outer Space series; other genre work includes The FlintstonesSolomon & Sheba, Die Another Day, the X-Men films, Catwoman and the Extant series which has a really dumb premise.
  • Born August 14 — Christopher Gorham, 44. Genre work in Jupiter RisingThe Magicians, Buffy the Vampire SlayerOdyssey 5 and Once Upon a Time series; voice work in a lot of DCU animated productions including The BatmanJustice League: WarJustice League: Throne of Atlantis and Justice League vs. Teen Titans.
  • Born August 14 — Brianna Hildebrand, 22. Deadpool and Deadpool 2The Exorcist series and The Tragedy Girls slasher film.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Breakfast with the superheroes at Eek!.

(11) INCREASE YOUR VOCABULARY. The Frisky coaches you on “6 ‘Star Trek’ Catchphrases And How To Work Them Into Everyday Conversations”.

Catchphrase #1: “Make it so!”

Who Said It/What It Means: This curt three-word phrase was Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s standard way of issuing an order, often immediately followed by a sexy sip of earl grey tea.

How To Use It In Real Life: Every time you would normally say, “Yes.” Example:

Barista: Would you like cream in your coffee?
You: MAKE IT SO.

(12) MAKING OF A STAR. CNET reports on a tweet by William Shatner to give Carrie Fisher a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (”William Shatner: Let’s get Carrie Fisher a Hollywood star”). In that, he joins Mark Hamill — who went a bit further earlier this month in suggesting the vandalized Donald Trump star could be replaced by one for Fisher.

The Star Trek and Star Wars universes are colliding.

On Monday, actor William Shatner, who played Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, tweeted, “Hey @starwars is it true that @carrieffisher does not have a star on the walk of fame? If it is what are we going to do about it?”

…Shatner continued the discussion on Twitter after his initial tweet, agreeing with a fan who suggested Fisher should have a star placed next to that of her late mother, singer and actress Debbie Reynolds.

(13) JURASSIC REWATCH. Daniel Dern writes: “My friend Kevin Kulp (creater of the Timewatch RPG which includes, among other things, time-travelling velociraptors, IIRC), started watching (or perhaps re-watching) Jurassic Park a few days ago, and found himself tweeting about the various OSHA safety fails, in a spirited thread that starts here.”

(14) UTAH’S VR PARK. For the well-heeled fan, the greatest Fantasy Park in history is opening September 8th! Evermore in Pleasant Grove, Utah debuts with a huge party–at $89 a pop: https://www.evermore.com/

(15) DON’T BLAME THE GAME (OF THRONES). Kevin Polowy, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story, “Forget ‘Game of Thrones’:  Matt Groening Reveals Unlikely Inspiration Behind New Animated Fantasy Series ‘Disenchantment,”  says that Groening’s new animated fantasy series Disenchantment on Netflix is not intended to be a parody of Game of Thrones.

“It’s from growing up with fairy tales and fantasy and all the rest of that,” Groening told us recently at San Diego Comic-Con (watch above). “I was particularly inspired as a kid by Rocky and Bullwinkle. And in The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show there were ‘Fractured Fairy Tales.’ And I thought, ‘Oh man, this would be great to do as a grownup.’”

In fact, Groening says, he and his creative team steered away from contemporary shows like GoT that play in that sandbox.

“We didn’t want to be influenced. In fact, we had a rule that certain major fantasy shows that you might be familiar with, we said we’re not going to do any more jokes, other than ones we already thought of. There’s a few references to things you might be familiar with, but [mostly] we went the other way.

(16) HUGO HANDICAPPING. John Scalzi’s “A Pre-Worldcon Q&A” self-interview includes this prediction:

Well, do you think The Collapsing Empire will win the Hugo? 

Nope, I think N.K. Jemisin is gonna three-peat with The Stone Sky.

Why is that?

Uhhh, because the Broken Earth trilogy is an absolutely groundbreaking achievement (pun entirely intended) in modern science fiction and fantasy? Don’t you agree?

I guess I do since I’m actually you? 

Yes. Precisely. But even if you weren’t in fact me, you would still have to acknowledge that Nora’s work on this series is stunning, and deserving of every accolade that’s been sent her way. To be clear, saying this is not a diminution of any of the other nominated works or their authors, including me and my novel. As I said, every novel on the ballot is eminently Hugo-worthy and could win, depending on the calculus of the voters as a group. But individually, The Stone Sky is worthy, and as a part of a larger whole, it’s a remarkable work.

(17) PLUNK AND BOOM. A great find by Krypton Radio – the Sailor Moon theme played on traditional Japanese instruments.

(18) ABOUT THOSE GRAPES. Ann Leckie has heard this bit before. Thread begins here.

(19) YOLEN’S NEBULA ANTHOLOGY. Black Gate’s John O’Neill defends an editorial decision in “Fairy Tales, Space Stations, and a Sequel to The Thing: The Nebula Awards Showcase 2018, edited by Jane Yolen”:

For example in 1980, for Nebula Winners Fourteen, Frederik Pohl jettisoned virtually every single short fiction nominee (and all the novelettes) so he could make room for just two stories, C. J. Cherryh’s Hugo Award-winning “Cassandra,” and Gene Wolfe’s massive 60-page novella “Seven American Nights.” That had to be a tough call, but I think it was the right one.

In the 2018 Showcase volume, editor Jane Yolen makes a similar choice. Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway, which won the Best Novella Nebula, is a massive 176 pages, far bigger even than Gene Wolfe’s 60-page classic, and would throughly dominate the anthology. Instead, for the first time I can remember, Yolen has chosen not to include the full version of the Nebula Award winning novella, but rather represent it with a 20-page excerpt. That leaves her with enough space to include every short story and novelette nominee (or at least, as is the case for Fran Wilde’s 96-page The Jewel and Her Lapidary, a substantial excerpt).

It’s a bold decision, and I applaud it. The 2018 Nebula Awards Showcase is a terrific volume, and it certainly gives you the opportunity to sample a wide variety of top-notch fiction from last year, including the delightfully subversive fairy tale “Seasons of Glass and Iron” by Amal El-Mohtar, Sam J. Miller’s thoughtful and creepy sequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing, “Things With Beards,” Caroline M. Yoachim’s “Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station / Hours Since the Last Patient Death: 0,” and excerpts from All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders and Arabella of Mars by David D. Levine

(20) I WILL SURVIVE. Nerdist is convinced “Thor’s Old Roommate Darryl Survived Thanos’ Infinity War Snap!” Twitter video included in the Nerdist article.

We can argue over which Avenger deserves the title of Earth’s mightiest hero, but there is no debating the greatest secondary character in the MCU. That title goes to someone who has never actually been in a Marvel movie, Darryl Jacobson, Thor’s old roommate. The last time we saw Darryl was before Infinity War, and we’ve had no idea if he was turned into dust in the wake of Thanos’ master plan. But don’t worry, because not only did he survive the Snapture, he took time out of his very busy work schedule to wish his old roomie a belated happy birthday.

And Gizmodo/io9 has more: “Video Evidence That Thor’s Roommate Darryl Survived Avengers: Infinity War”.

(21) INSTANT CLASSIC. At least I think it is, and so will those who get all the File 770 in-jokes packed into Soon Lee’s verse.

@Lenore Jones

The scrollvolution will not be autopopulated
The scrollvolution will not be brought to you by Godstalk
In four brackets without large supplies of facecloths
The scrollvolution will not show you pictures of felines
Sitting on books of non-binary taverns in the snow
Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein and more
Old Favourites been touched by unforgiving Suck Fairies
The scrollvolution will not be autopopulated

[Thanks to David Doering, Juliette Wade, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories,, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Robert Whitaker Sirignano.]

Pixel Scroll 12/2/17 And With Strange Pixels Even Scrolls May File

(1) I SEE BY YOUR OUTFIT. Smofcon, the con for conrunners has convened in Boston.

  • John Scalzi is there to share what pros expect from conventions.

  • Steve Davidson of Amazing Stories is on hand, too.

The convention is well attended for Smofcons, registration and hospitality were working efficiently the last time I passed through and many interesting conversations have been heard and overheard.

  • An issue of Journey Planet with a con programming theme has been released in time for Smofcon.

  • Jeeze, I played the inaugural version of this game in 1987.

  • Richard Gadsden’s additions to the “Fannish Inquisition” questionnaire are inspired by the virtual wall of TSA.

(2) JUMP IN. Charles Payseur shares his experience and advice to encourage the growth of a deeper and more diverse field of sff short fiction reviewers. “So You Want To Be A Short SFF Reviewer?” at Quick Sip Reviews.

Hi. My name is Charles Payseur and I began reviewing short SFF in early 2014 for Tangent Online, with Dave Truesdale as my guide and mentor. If you shuddered just a bit there, I’m sorry. But imagine, little baby queer me, just getting into the field in my mid 20s, wide-eyed and bushy-tailed. And running into that. I’ve had an Education. One that’s been somewhat dearly bought, but here I am, closing in on four years later.

Short SFF is a field dominated by broken stairs and strange pitfalls. What’s more, it seems to attract some (fairly loud) people who really like to make objective statements of merit with regards to stories and are absolute shit at admitting when they’re in the wrong while simultaneously being wrong fairly frequently and jerks generally. It’s a field that chews and spits out a great many excellent reviewers while seeming to find time to praise and promote the most toxic and insensitive. It’s often tiring, draining, and infuriating. But it’s also kind of amazing. Welcome!

My general goal in this is just to give something of a guide for people wanting to get started in short SFF reviewing. Because the field needs more and more diverse voices if it’s to self-govern away from the most toxic examples of short SFF reviewer. It’s not a comprehensive guide, but I’ve left my contact info toward the bottom if you have any more questions. So yeah, let’s get started!

(3) GOOD TO GO. NASA will be able to keep the mission going awhile longer: “Voyager 1 Fires Up Thrusters After 37 Years”.

If you tried to start a car that’s been sitting in a garage for decades, you might not expect the engine to respond. But a set of thrusters aboard the Voyager 1 spacecraft successfully fired up Wednesday after 37 years without use.

Voyager 1, NASA’s farthest and fastest spacecraft, is the only human-made object in interstellar space, the environment between the stars. The spacecraft, which has been flying for 40 years, relies on small devices called thrusters to orient itself so it can communicate with Earth. These thrusters fire in tiny pulses, or “puffs,” lasting mere milliseconds, to subtly rotate the spacecraft so that its antenna points at our planet. Now, the Voyager team is able to use a set of four backup thrusters, dormant since 1980.

…Since 2014, engineers have noticed that the thrusters Voyager 1 has been using to orient the spacecraft, called “attitude control thrusters,” have been degrading. Over time, the thrusters require more puffs to give off the same amount of energy….

On Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, Voyager engineers fired up the four TCM thrusters for the first time in 37 years and tested their ability to orient the spacecraft using 10-millisecond pulses. The team waited eagerly as the test results traveled through space, taking 19 hours and 35 minutes to reach an antenna in Goldstone, California, that is part of NASA’s Deep Space Network.

Lo and behold, on Wednesday, Nov. 29, they learned the TCM thrusters worked perfectly — and just as well as the attitude control thrusters.

(4) MAKE IT SO. Food & Wine reports “New ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ Holiday-Themed Beer Getting National Release”.

Courtesy of New York’s Shmaltz Brewing Company comes Star Trek: The Next Generation 30th Anniversary Ale – Captain’s Holiday. Yes, that’s a mouthful, but this beer is trying to cover a lot of bases. Not only is this tropically-tinged beer brewed with natural citrus flavors intended as a holiday release, this “Collector’s Edition” product is also meant to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation which first aired back in 1987. As such, the name “Captain’s Holiday” actually comes from the title of an episode of that series in which “the crew convinces Captain Picard to take a much-needed vacation on the pleasure planet Risa” (of course).

(5) MYTHLORE AT 50. Help the Mythopoeic Society pick what belongs in the collection — “Reader’s Choice: The Best of Mythlore’s First Fifty Years”.

IN 2018 WE CELEBRATE THE FOUNDING OF MYTHLORE, the scholarly journal of the Mythopoeic Society, which published its first issue in January 1969. Reader’s Choice: The Best of Mythlore’s First Fifty Years will collect and reprint the very best articles, artwork, reviews, letters, and creative work, all nominated by readers, along with commentary about the journal’s founding and history, and will be published in time for Mythcon 49.

(6) A GRATEFUL WILLIS. In Connie Willis’ “Thanks on Thanksgiving” post she remembers three people who had a big influence on her.

  1. My eighth-grade teacher, whose name I do remember.

Mrs. Werner was my home-room teacher, and every day after lunch she read aloud to us, one of which was Rumer Godden’s AN EPISODE OF SPARROWS.  This is NOT a children’s book, even though its heroine, Lovejoy, was ten years old.  She was also a thief.  She lived in post-war London, and when she decided she wanted to build a garden in the rubble of a bombed-out church, she not only shoplifted seeds and a trowel, but recruited other kids to steal for her.  She was also thoroughly unpleasant.  Not without reason.  She had a slutty mother with an assortment of nasty boyfriends and was often left with strangers for months at a time.  As I say, not a book for junior-high-schoolers.

I have no idea what anybody else in the class thought about the book, but I loved it AND Lovejoy.  It was my first introduction to Rumer Godden, who I fell in love with, especially her novel about grief, IN THIS HOUSE OF BREDE.  It was also my first introduction  to how you can take a classic and update it (AN EPISODE OF SPARROWS is actually Frances Hodgson Burnett’s THE SECRET GARDEN retold.)

And it was my first introduction to the Blitz, planting a seed which blossomed when I went to St. Paul’s years later and fell in love with the fire watch and the history of London during the war–which had a HUGE impact on my life.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 2, 1979 Star Trek appeared in the funny papers with a daily comic strip.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born December 2, 1914 – Ray Walston – your choice, My Favorite Martian, or the Devil in Damn Yankees.

(9) CLASSIC MACHADO. Jane Dykema, in “What I Don’t Tell My Students About ‘The Husband Stitch’” at Electric Lit, says, “The first story in Carmen Maria Machado’s ‘Her Body and Other Parties’ brings up big questions about who we believe and why.”

I was first introduced to the husband stitch in 2014, when a friend in medical school told me about a birth her classmate observed. After the baby was delivered, the doctor said to the woman’s husband, “Don’t worry, I’ll sew her up nice and tight for you,” and the two men laughed while the woman lay between them, covered in her own and her baby’s blood and feces. The story terrified me, the laughter in particular, signaling some understanding of wrongdoing, some sheepishness in doing it anyway. The helplessness of the woman, her body being altered without her consent by two people she has to trust: her partner, her doctor. The details of the third-hand account imprinted into my memory so vividly that the memory of the story feels now almost like my own memory. Later that year, Machado’s “The Husband Stitch” was published, and sometime after that, I read it, and the details of Machado’s scene were so similar, down to the laughter, down to the words “don’t worry” (though in Machado’s story they’re directed at the woman), that I’m not sure now what I remember and what I read.

(10) ELEMENTARY. “The Serial-Killer Detector” in The New Yorker tells how A former journalist, equipped with an algorithm and the largest collection of murder records in the country, finds patterns in crime.

Hargrove created the code, which operates as a simple algorithm, in 2010, when he was a reporter for the now defunct Scripps Howard news service. The algorithm forms the basis of the Murder Accountability Project (MAP), a nonprofit that consists of Hargrove—who is retired—a database, a Web site, and a board of nine members, who include former detectives, homicide scholars, and a forensic psychiatrist. By a process of data aggregating, the algorithm gathers killings that are related by method, place, and time, and by the victim’s sex. It also considers whether the rate of unsolved murders in a city is notable, since an uncaught serial killer upends a police department’s percentages. Statistically, a town with a serial killer in its midst looks lawless….

(11) HEAD ‘EM OFF AT THE PASS. Sounds like a Kage Baker story. The Pharaoh’s city from The Ten Commandments is still under the sand south of San Francisco: “Sphinx head discovered beneath sands of California blows dust off one of the greatest stories of extravagance in Hollywood history”.

The head of a sphinx uncovered from beneath the sand dunes of California has blown the dust off one of the greatest stories of extravagance in Hollywood history.

The perfectly intact 300-pound plaster head was unearthed by archaeologists excavating the set of Cecil B. DeMille’s 95-year-old movie set for The Ten Commandments.

The piece, buried in the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, is unlike anything found on previous digs, said Doug Jenzen, Executive Director of the Dunes Center.

“The majority of it is preserved by sand with the original paint still intact.

 

(12) BABELFISH.  The BBC tells about “The translator that sits in your ear”.
So how does the Pilot earpiece work? It uses a sophisticated microphone array along with noise-cancelling algorithms to listen to spoken words from and around the user.

“Those words are passed to the cloud where it is processed through speech recognition, machine translation, and speech synthesis, before it is sent back to the user and anyone else whose Pilot earpiece is synced into the conversation,” explains Ochoa. “This happens within minimal delay, usually in milliseconds.”

There are a number of competitors hot on the heels of the Pilot, including Clik, Skype, and Google, which last month launched its Pixel Buds, complete with the ability to translate in real time between 40 languages. The Pilor earpiece currently works with 15 languages, but can be ugraded to translate more. But with its head start, and now its prestigious nomination, the Pilot may be a step ahead.

(13) FAKE GUARDIAN. Someone’s trying to act like the actor: “Chris Pratt alerts fans to ‘pervy imposter'”.

Guardians of the Galaxy’s Chris Pratt has taken to social media to alert his fans to a “pervy dude” who has been allegedly impersonating him online.

“Somebody is trying to pretend to be me on Facebook,” he wrote on Instagram.

The US actor claimed the “imposter” had been “apparently hitting on a lot of different female fans, trying to get their numbers and who knows what else.”

“I find this behaviour reprehensible,” he continued. “If I find out who it is I’ll have their account shut down.”

(14) MEGAFAME. I read both authors, but it felt surreal to see Lee Child and N.K. Jemisin sharing the marquee in the same article.

(15) A WARNING TO PEOPLE IN THE FUTURE.

(16) GREAT COLLECTION. John O’Neill is “Remembering Frank M. Robinson’s Legendary Pulp Collection” at Black Gate.

A complete collection of Weird Tales is a towering achievement. Weird Tales, which had chronically poor circulation, is one of the most sought-after pulps on the market, as it was the most important home of the most significant pulp writers of early fantasy, including H.P Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, and many, many others. Copies in good condition typically go for several hundred dollars each, and early issues for significantly more than that….

The 1970s might have been the last time it was possible to compile a collection like this, at least for any kind of reasonable sum. His entire collection was auctioned off while Frank was still alive by John Gunnison at Adventure House, and netted a total well north of a million dollars.

(17) ALL WET. Den of Geek goes “Diving Into The Shape of Water with Michael Shannon”, an actor who will also be in HBO’s Fahrenheit 451.

Den of Geek: Have you and Guillermo ever talked about working together before?

Michael Shannon: No, this was totally out of the blue. I didn’t know Guillermo. I was out here doing something silly, I don’t know. Maybe I was out for the indie film Spirit Awards or something and my agent said, “Guillermo del Toro wants to have lunch with you while you’re in town this weekend.” I said okay. So he came to my hotel and we sat at this table out back, and he just laid it all out. Said, “I’ve been writing this movie for a long time. I’ve been writing it with particular people in mind, and you’re one of those people. Are you interested?” And I said okay. That was it. It’s an astonishingly simple and concise story.

He said he wrote Strickland with your voice in his head. So when you got to read the character, what struck you about the character?

I thought it was funny. I thought it was a funny character. I saw a lot of humor in it. I liked the opportunity to play some uptight, confused government agent guy. I mean he’s kind of a train wreck inside, but he’s presenting this exterior of authority and competency, which is a total fabrication at the end of the day.

(18) DON’T BE SHY. In 1962 some authors didn’t want to be known for writing sf. Not much different from 2017, eh? Galactic Journey’s Victoria Silverwolf gives a rundown on the situation of half a century ago: “[DECEMBER 2, 1962] THEY CAME FROM THE MAINSTREAM (SF BOOKS NOT PUBLISHED AS SF)”.

Russian-born writer Vladimir Nabakov, best known for his controversial novel Lolita (toned down somewhat in this year’s film adaptation), creates a very unusual structure in his new book, Pale Fire.  It consists of a poem of 999 lines by an imaginary poet, followed by footnotes written by an equally fictional critic.  Read together, the poem and footnotes come together to form a plot of impersonation, exile, and murder.  What makes this a work of science fiction is the fact that it takes place in a world different from our own.  The story deals with the deposed king of the European nation of Zembla.  It takes place in an alternate version of the USA, which contains the states of Appalachia and Utana.

(19) CUISINE OF THE FUTURE. Sometimes that future doesn’t seem very far away.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]

Complaint About Term “Neo-Nazi” Results in Foz Meadows Post Moving from Black Gate to Amazing Stories

Black Gate published Foz Meadows’ analytical essay “Unempathic Bipeds of Failure: The Relationship Between Stories and Politics” (archived version) on December 7.

As it originally appeared, the post included these lines  —

For the past few years, the Sad and Rabid Puppies – guided by an actual neo-Nazi – have campaigned against what they perceive as the recent politicization of SFF as a genre, as though it’s humanly possible to write a story involving people that doesn’t have a political dimension; as though “political narrative” means “I disagreed with the premise or content, which makes it Wrong” and not “a narrative which contains and was written by people.”

Vox Day, who was not named in Meadows’ piece but is the subject of the linked We Hunted the Mammoth article, immediately published an objection to her “neo-Nazi” characterization, and asked Black Gate to remove it.

I have written to John O’Neill, my former editor at Black Gate, asking him to remove this false, malicious, and materially damaging libel directed at me, and by extension, the Sad and Rabid Puppies. As I was a long-time contributor to Black Gate, Mr. O’Neill knows perfectly well that I am neither a neo-Nazi nor a National Socialist, I have never been a neo-Nazi or a National Socialist, I do not belong to, or subscribe to the tenets of, the German National Socialist Workers Party or any subsequent facsimile, and I do not appreciate the libelous attempts of Ms Meadows, to publicly and falsely assert that I am “an actual neo-Nazi”.

On December 11, Black Gate truncated its version of Meadows’ post. What remains now are two introductory paragraphs and a link indicating the rest can be read at Amazing Stories. (The link is not yet operative, for reasons outlined below.)

Foz Meadows explained for File 770 the steps that led to her essay originally appearing on Black Gate:

I pitched John a piece about the relationship between politics and SFF back on November 14th; he expressed an interest, and I turned it in to him on December 8th. He read, approved and posted it to the site himself.

The day after it appeared, O’Neill wrote to Meadows discussing reaction to the post.

Checking my email, I found two missives from John on the subject. The first warned me that there was some ugliness about insults and doxing me in VD’s comment thread; he said he’d been getting threats from VD’s readers, that VD himself had sent a lengthy email demanding a retraction, and to let him know if I started getting harassed.

The second email was longer: as VD lives in the EU where there are laws about Nazi affiliations, John said, he (VD) was concerned that being called a neo-Nazi could have adverse legal consequences for him, and though John expressed his agreement with and support of what I’d written, he nonetheless didn’t want to risk Black Gate being the source of an actual legal difficulty for someone else. As such, he asked if I’d consider changing my wording as a personal favour to him. I didn’t want to do that for a number of reasons, not least because we’re at a point in history where refusing to acknowledge the neo-Nazism of the alt-right, with which VD is openly affiliated, is a major contributing factor to its normalisation. To me, this was a statement worth defending. VD denies being a misogynist while saying that women shouldn’t have the right to vote, denies being racist while spouting white supremacist dogma, and denies being homophobic while defining queerness as a defect and a moral failing: that he would additionally deny being a neo-Nazi while defending anti-Semitism and espousing xenophobic, ableist and ultranationalist views, among others, fits the established pattern of his behaviour. His dislike of the label doesn’t moot its applicability, and as I pointed out to John, I’m hardly the first person to call him one, whether online or off. John agreed again, but reiterated his preference that Black Gate not risk responsibility for getting someone else in legal trouble, however hypothetically.

O’Neill proposed several ideas for removing the controversy from Black Gate.

Initially, it was suggested that I could either change my wording in the piece and write a footnote explaining why, or else move it to my own blog with a link remaining at Black Gate. However, John also mentioned that Steve Davidson of Amazing Stories had contacted him in support of what I’d written and was willing to back me up on it, and would I consider transferring the unaltered piece to his site? After a further back and forth with both Steve and John, I agreed to that. However, owing to various emails getting caught in spam filters, there was a miscommunication about timing between Steve and John: Steve wanted to research and write a footnote of his own before posting the piece to Amazing Stories, while John assumed it was good to go. Hence the current state of affairs where the truncated version is up at Black Gate, but linking to a URL that hasn’t yet posted the rest.

Essentially, then the issue is this: a man who happily uses feminazi as an insult, gives commenters who think Nazis are preferable to feminists a space on his blog, and who has publicly said that people have a right to be anti-Semitic, thinks my calling him a neo-Nazi is both inaccurate to the point of being libelous and concrete enough to potentially get him in trouble. Rather ironic, really.

Meadows’ expects the essay to reappear before long at Amazing Stories.

Black Gate’s O’Neill published the essay without having committed to keep it online when the inevitable objection came. That one would be coming could be predicted based on Vox Day’s success in extracting apologies from Tor Books’ Tom Doherty and Irene Gallo  after Gallo referenced the Rabid Puppies as a neo-nazi group on Facebook in 2015.

Pixel Scroll 12/8/16 Let It Scroll, Let It Scroll, Let It Scroll

(1) X-WING. Hollywood decorating the neighborhood for the premiere of Rogue One. Robert Kerr’s photo shows a prop now on display curbside near the theater.

photo-by-robert-kerr-resized_20161208_170203-01

Yahoo! Movies ran a series of photos taken while the fighter was being hauled into position.

Star Wars has definitely landed in Hollywood.

Preparations for Saturday’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story premiere have already seen some big road closures on Hollywood Blvd. — and on Tuesday, an X-Wing was spotted in the area where the stars of the film will gather in a few days.

Pictures quickly spread on social media, as apparently keeping an X-Wing secret is even trickier than keeping plans for the Death Star under wraps.

The red-carpet premiere itself also prompted major road closures in Hollywood, with the X-Wing now clogging streets up further. Road closures will last until 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 13.

(2) JAM ON MARS. Will Curiosity need Tommy John surgery? Seeker says “Curiosity’s Mars Drill Is Jammed”.

The Mars rover’s robotic arm-mounted drill appears to have malfunctioned and NASA has instructed the rover to hang tight while they find a solution.

Having your drill break down while you’re millions of miles from the nearest hardware store would be a bummer, but that is exactly what’s happened to NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity.

The rover, which is currently located at the lower slopes of the 3.4-mile-high Mount Sharp (officially known as Aeolis Mons), was supposed to carry out a drilling operation on a geologically interesting location on Dec. 1 when mission controllers got word that Curiosity was unable to complete its commands. Early indications show that the rover detected a fault with the “drill feed” mechanism that lowers the drill piece to the rocky sample and aborted the operation.

(3) AT HOME. The Chicago Reader visited a  popular sf author in her new (since 2012) neighborhood — “Mary Robinette Kowal makes puppets and writes in a 1913 building in the Ukranian Village”.

A fire is roaring in the fireplace and sprays of bright red winterberry adorn a vase on the deco mantel. The scent of hot cider wafts through the air. What Victorian-era storybook scene have I stepped into on this chilly, gray day in late November? It’s the home of Hugo Award–winning author, audiobook narrator, and professional puppeteer Mary Robinette Kowal, a spacious and stately 1913 apartment in Ukrainian Village that she shares with her winemaker husband, Robert, and their two cats.

 

(4) RETURN OF RUTLAND WEEKEND TV. The Guardian ran this feature in August — “Ex-Python Eric Idle and Brian Cox to take on The Entire Universe for the BBC”. But now the BBC broadcast date is nearing.

Written by Idle, the one-hour show will feature the return of Rutland Weekend Television, the haphazard station depicted in Idle’s sketch show of the same name during the 1970s.

Filmed in front of a live studio audience, The Entire Universe will feature an “explosion of comedy, music and dance” and will air on BBC2.

Davis plays The Big Bang and comedian Fielding is Einstein, while Game of Thrones actor Hannah Waddingham tackles time, and Robin Ince attempts to keep order.

Idle has written songs for the Christmas special, which will be choreographed by Arlene Phillips and combine “fascinating facts about the birth of the universe with larger-than-life comedy characters”.

Cox finds himself in a major musical at Rutland Weekend Television, after thinking he is booked to give a lecture.

The program will be broadcast in Britain on BBC2 on December 26.

(5) DO JAMES DAVIS NICOLL’S HOMEWORK. He’s lining up books to review in 2017, and feels there’s one writer demographic that requires more of his attention:

Don’t often tick the Other/Genderqueer/Non-Binary box in my site’s review gender fields. Can change that. What authors should I consider?

He emailed me the link asking, “Do the F770 people have suggestions?”

(6) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #12. The twelfth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for the four-book Twixt series from Dawn Metcalf.

Today’s auction is for a signed set of all four TWIXT books. But wait – there’s more! Metcalf also has a pile of “own voices” and books she’s offered to donate to a local shelter and/or children’s hospital in your name. The higher the bidding, the more books she’ll donate!

  • $25: Two books
  • $35: Three books
  • $45: Four books
  • $60: Five books
  • $75: Six books

About Book One: INDELIBLE:

Some things are permanent. Indelible. And they cannot be changed back.

Joy Malone learns this the night she sees a stranger with all-black eyes across a crowded room-right before the mystery boy tries to cut out her eye. Instead, the wound accidentally marks her as property of Indelible Ink, and this dangerous mistake thrusts Joy into an incomprehensible world-a world of monsters at the window, glowing girls on the doorstep and a life that will never be the same. Now Joy must pretend to be Ink’s chosen one-his helper, his love, his something for the foreseeable future … and failure to be convincing means a painful death for them both. Swept into a world of monsters, illusion, immortal honor and revenge, Joy discovers that sometimes, there are no mistakes.

Somewhere between reality and myth lies … THE TWIXT!

(7) TINGLE’S SATIRICAL NEWS SITE. Chuck Tingle harpoons the “alt-right” with his most feared weapon – laughter — at a new website, Buttbart. At the bottom of the home page are links for donating to the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Billings Public Library Foundation

READER POLL: What is real?

We asked our readers if reality was a constantly shifting web of cosmic planes, blinking in and out of exhistence depending on our location in spacetime.

YES: %87

NO: %2

K’GULH-TUB KA: %11

(8) GLENN OBIT. Mercury astronaut and former U.S. Senator John Glenn (1921-2016) died December 8 reports SF News Site.

Glenn was the last surviving member of the Mercury 7 astronauts and the first American to orbit the Earth, flying on the third Mercury mission on February 20, 1962 aboard Friendship 7. Following his flight and status as a national hero, Glenn was grounded by President Kennedy and eventually became a Senator from Ohio and ran unsuccessfully for President. The oldest of the Mercury astronauts, he flew a second time in 1998 about the space shuttle Discovery, becoming the oldest man to fly in space.

CNN’s obituary recounted the highlights of his 1962 mission:

….Glenn recalled in a Life magazine article a strange phenomenon that occurred during the mission: “There, spread out as far as I could see were literally thousands of tiny luminous objects that glowed in the black sky like fireflies. I was riding slowly through them, and the sensation was like walking backwards through a pasture where someone had waved a wand and made all the fireflies stop right where they were and glow steadily.”

The flight also featured a glitch that contributed to Glenn’s reputation for being cool under fire.

Because of an indicator light showing that the Mercury capsule’s heat shield was partly detached, mission controllers decided to bring Glenn home early and told him not to jettison his aft retro rockets, which allowed him to maneuver the craft in space. Because the retropack was strapped to the heat shield, it was thought it would provide an extra measure of security.

It would later be learned that the heat shield wasn’t damaged, but the fiery re-entry was made more spectacular by the scorching retropack in Earth’s upper atmosphere. Glenn’s first words when he stepped aboard the deck of the USS Noa were, “Boy, that was a real fireball of a ride!”

…More than 20 years after their historic missions, the team was immortalized in the 1983 movie “The Right Stuff.” Glenn — portrayed by Ed Harris — didn’t care much for the film, saying, “I thought it was dramatic enough without Hollywood doing its number on it.”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRLS

  • Born December 8, 1953 – Kim Basinger, Batman’s Vicki Vale.
  • Born December 8, 1964 – Teri Hatcher, Lois and Clark’s Lois Lane.

(10) TA-POCKETA-POCKETA

  • Born December 8, 1894 – James Thurber

(11) A GRAIL OF A TALE. A dinosaur tail was discovered trapped in amber in Myanmar.

The tail of a 99-million-year-old dinosaur has been found entombed in amber, an unprecedented discovery that has blown away scientists.

Xing Lida, a Chinese paleontologist found the specimen, the size of a dried apricot, at an amber market in northern Myanmar near the Chinese border.

The remarkable piece was destined to end up as a curiosity or piece of jewelry, with Burmese traders believing a plant fragment was trapped inside.

“I realized that the content was a vertebrate, probably theropod, rather than any plant,” Xing told CNN.

“I was not sure that (the trader) really understood how important this specimen was, but he did not raise the price.”

(12) POP CULTURE COINCIDENCE. Reuters reports a “Space oddity as Dr David Bowie treats ‘starman’ Buzz Aldrin in New Zealand hospital”.

In what can only be described as a space oddity, former astronaut Buzz Aldrin is being cared for in a New Zealand hospital by Dr David Bowie after being evacuated from the South Pole.

In a truly remarkable coincidence, Aldrin’s doctor shares the name of the late British singer whose greatest hits included songs such as “Starman” and others about space travel that could easily have been penned for the great American astronaut.

(13) FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB. Reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Livia Llewellyn and Sarah Pinsker on December 21 on Wednesday, December 21 at the KGB Bar in New York. Event starts at 7 p.m. Details at the linked post.

Livia Llewellyn is a writer of dark fantasy, horror, and erotica, whose short fiction has appeared in over forty anthologies and magazines and has been reprinted in multiple best-of anthologies, including The Best Horror of the Year series, Years Best Weird Fiction, and The Mammoth Book of Best Erotica. Her first collection, Engines of Desire: Tales of Love & Other Horrors received two Shirley Jackson Award nominations, for Best Collection, and for Best Novelette (for “Omphalos”). Her story “Furnace” received a 2013 Shirley Jackson Award nomination for Best Short Story. Her second collection, Furnace was published this year.

Sarah Pinsker is the author of the Nebula Award winning novelette “Our Lady of the Open Road” and the Sturgeon Award winning “In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind.” Her fiction has appeared in magazines including Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Uncanny, among others, and numerous anthologies and year’s bests. She is also a singer/songwriter with three albums on various independent labels and a fourth forthcoming. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland with her wife, dog, and a yard full of sentient vines.

(14) THE WORK THAT STORIES DO. Foz Meadows’ well-written piece “Unempathic Bipeds of Failure: The Relationship Between Stories and Politics” found a home at Black Gate:

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need stories to act as emotional dry-runs for caring about different types of people, because our empathy would already natively extend to everyone. But we don’t live in that world; because if we did, somewhat paradoxically, we’d have less urgent need of its empathy, as its unequivocal presence would make it much harder for us to discriminate in the first place.

Which is precisely why stories matter; why they’ve always mattered, and will continue to matter for as long as our species exists. Stories can teach us the empathy we otherwise lack, or whose development is railroaded by context, and yeah, it’s frustrating to think that another person can’t just look at you, accept what you are, and think, human, different to me in some respects but fundamentally as whole and as worthy of love, protection and basic rights as I am, but you’ve got to understand: we’re a bunch of bipedal mammals with delusions of morality, a concept we invented and which we perpetuate through culture and manners, faith and history and memory – which is to say, through stories, which change as we change (though we don’t always like to admit that part), and in that context, the value of the impossible – of SFF as a genre – is that it gives us those things in imaginary settings, takes us far enough out of the present that we can view them at a more objective remove than real life ever allows, and so get a better handle on them than our immediate biases might otherwise permit…

And so I think about the UKIP supporter who empathized with a fictional refugee [in Dragon Age 2] but voted to dehumanize real ones; about the millions of people who grew up on stories about the evils of Nazism, but now turn a blind eye to swastikas being graffitied in the wake of Trump’s election; of Puppies both Sad and Rabid who contend that the presence of politics in genre is a leftist conspiracy while blatantly pushing what even they call a political agenda; about fake news creators and the Ministry of Truth; about every f***ing dystopian novel whose evocation by name feels simultaneously on the nose and frighteningly apropos right now, because we shouldn’t have to cite The Handmaid’s Tale to explain why Mike Pence and Steve Bannon (to say nothing of Trump’s infamous comments) are collectively terrifying, and yet see above re: unempathic bipeds of failure, forever and always; and yet

(15) ORANGE CONE BY THE ROADSIDE. The discussion of Meadows’ main points, however, was drowned out by the reaction to several lines in her closing:

For the past few years, the Sad and Rabid Puppies – guided by an actual neo-Nazi – have campaigned against what they perceive as the recent politicization of SFF as a genre, as though it’s humanly possible to write a story involving people that doesn’t have a political dimension; as though “political narrative” means “I disagreed with the premise or content, which makes it Wrong” and not “a narrative which contains and was written by people.”

Vox Day reacted in a post titled “Please to remove the libel”:

I have written to John O’Neill, my former editor at Black Gate, asking him to remove this false, malicious, and materially damaging libel directed at me, and by extension, the Sad and Rabid Puppies. As I was a long-time contributor to Black Gate, Mr. O’Neill knows perfectly well that I am neither a neo-Nazi nor a National Socialist, I have never been a neo-Nazi or a National Socialist, I do not belong to, or subscribe to the tenets of, the German National Socialist Workers Party or any subsequent facsimile, and I do not appreciate the libelous attempts of Ms Meadows, to publicly and falsely assert that I am “an actual neo-Nazi”.

Vox Popoli commenters spent the day conspicuously scavenging the web for Meadows’ personal and financial details and lodging their finds as comments on Day’s post. Meadows Twitter stream also has been haunted by people unsuccessfuly trying to intimidate the author by sounding as if there could be ominous consequences.

Day made several updates to his post, one saying a resolution was in process.

UPDATE: As I expected, John was very reasonable about it and the matter is being resolved. Thanks for your support, everyone.

But in the hours since, Meadows’ text has remained unchanged nor has O’Neill added any comment.

(16) INVASION. In a New York Times article “California Today: Booksellers See a Threat in New Law”, the A.C.L.U. has an opinion.

A new law going into effect next month mandates that anyone selling a signed book for more than $5 must vouch for the autograph’s authenticity. That includes, among other things, identifying the previous owner.

“If you visit my bookstore to trade in that copy of ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ you picked up at a book signing, I’ll need to take down your name and address and then provide it to whoever happens to buy the book from me,” said Scott Brown, who runs Eureka Books in Eureka.

The law was designed to protect consumers from the booming trade in fake collectibles. But it is written so loosely that some worry it might drag booksellers down.

“I can understand why booksellers are concerned,” said Michael Risher, a lawyer with the A.C.L.U. of Northern California. “The law is an invasion into privacy and should be amended.”

The legislation began with an effort by State Representative Ling Ling Chang to broaden a 1992 law about sports memorabilia. She joined forces with Mark Hamill, the “Star Wars” actor who kept seeing signed posters that were fake. Booksellers say they didn’t realize they were vulnerable until after Gov. Jerry Brown signed the measure in September.

Ms. Chang, who was unavailable for comment, has published on her Facebook page a statement that both “the letter and spirit of the law” do not apply to booksellers. Her reasoning is that the law is aimed at “dealers,” who are mostly in the business of selling signed collectibles. Since booksellers sell all kinds of books, many of them unsigned, Ms. Chang argues that leaves them off the hook.

But some booksellers worry that is not true….

(17) RATS! New Zealand’s 2017 national sf convention has opened a writing competition.

In our short story competition, you have the opportunity to channel your inner rodent, or world build a mischief of rats… Write us a short story which, in honour of our Ghost of Honour, Orville, includes a reference to a rat.

The competition is held in association with SpecFicNZ, who are generously contributing prizes, and judged by Guest of Honour Seanan McGuire. Get scratching!

We’re also running a drabble competition – 100 words of fiction based around a word you invented. If you’re new to writing, this could be a great place to start.

Find out more at www.lexicon.cons.nz/comps.php. Other competitions will be announced shortly; artists, filkers, and cosplayers, stay tuned.

(18) DEAL US IN. Tor.com’s Natalie Zutter has good news for Cards Against Humanity fans: “Patrick Rothfuss and Cards Against Humanity Release Special Sci-Fi Pack”.

For $5, this pack of 30 cards “poking fun at the Sci-Fi genre” (in Rothfuss’ words) will let you throw down the geekiest cards in your next game of CAH. All proceeds from the first two weeks of sales will go to Worldbuilders, Rothfuss’ nonprofit. What’s more, Rothfuss says, they’ll double that donation before passing it along to Heifer International, the organization that Worldbuilders supports.

Here’s everyone who contributed to the cards!

  • Delilah S. Dawson
  • Elizabeth Bear
  • Jim C. Hines
  • Myke Cole
  • Martha Wells
  • Catherynne M. Valente
  • Patrick Rothfuss

[Thanks to JJ, Xtifr, Bonnie McDaniel, Cat Eldridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Redheadedfemme. (Yes, Bonnie, I held over a few you suggested last year.)]

Pixel Scroll 6/21/16 Everybody In The Whole Scrollblock, Dance To The Pixelhouse Rock

(1) HE’S BAAACK. ScienceFiction.com explains how Dr. Okun’s been down for the count almost as long as Captain America – “Okun’s Razor: New ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ Featurette Explains The Return Of Dr. Okum”.

Of course, the alien attacked the doctor and took over his mind, using him to communicate with the other people outside the laboratory, and the encounter ended with men having to shoot the alien before it hurt the president, all of which left Dr. Okun comatose on the floor.

According to the new featurette released, Dr. Okun did not actually die that day. Apparently he was just left in a vegetative state, a coma, for the past twenty years, leaving him prime to be woken up by contact with new alien minds as the aliens return in the new film.

 

(2) FUTURE PUPPIES. Paul Weimer’s “Of Dogs and Men: Clifford Simak’s City” is the latest installment of Tor.com’s “Lost Classics” series.

…A suite of stories that merges Simak’s love of dogs, his interest in rural settings and landscapes, use of religion and faith, and his interest in robots all in one package: City.

City is a fixup novel originally consisting of seven stories written between 1944 and 1951, and collected together in 1952. City charts the fall of Humanity’s (or the creature called “Man” in the stories) civilization, starting with his urban environment, and finally, of the fall of Humanity itself. As Humanity falls, so rises the successor to Man, the Dogs. As David Brin would later do to chimps and dolphins in his Uplift stories and novels, the story of the engineered rise of Dogs, and their supplanting of Man, is due to the agency of one family, the Websters. The growth and development of the Dogs is thanks to their agency, and the Dog’s continued growth is due to the help of Jenkins, the robot created as a butler for the Webster family who becomes a mentor to the Dogs and a through line character in the narrative…..

(3) SIMAK AT 1971 WORLDCON. And with lovely timing, the FANAC YouTube channel has just posted Part 2 of a photo-illustrated audio recording of the Noreascon Banquet. It includes the Guest of Honor speeches from Clifford Simak and Harry Warner, Jr. Other speakers: Bob Shaw, Toastmaster Robert Silverberg, Forrest J Ackerman, Gordon Dickson, and TAFF winner Mario Bosnyak.

(4) PATIENCE REWARDED. Ricky L. Brown says go for it, in a review of Joe Zieja’s Mechanical Failure at Amazing Stories.

At first, the book comes off as a plead, as if asking the reader to accept the fact that it supposed to be funny. The dialog feels a little forced and the humor dangerously becomes the focal point over character development and plot. If a literary version of a laugh track was a real thing, letting the reader know that this part is funny and you are supposed to be laughing along with the fabricated audience, it would be running non-stop during the first chapter.

As a reviewer, this is usually the point when one must decide if the work has potential or if it is time to abandon hope before investing the time. The original premise was sound and I truly wanted the book to be good, so I pressed on.

And then it got better….

Mechanical Failure by Joe Zieja is a funny story about a funny man in a funny universe. What makes this book work so well is the author’s innate ability to paint a sarcastic hero in a ridiculously irrational setting, and allow the reader to laugh along at the absurdity that could become our future.

(5) AUTOGRAPH SEEKERS. A weekend of signings at the Denver Comic Con inspired Sarah A. Hoyt to write “The Running Of The Fans”. Before you get cranked up – I thought it was pretty funny.

….This is interrupted by a voice from the ceiling, “The fans are coming, the fans are coming.”

The double doors open on a throng at the end of the hall.  Some of the fans are in costume.  There is a minotaur in an Acme costume, for instance, several ladies in corsets and men wearing uniforms of all epochs, some of them imaginary.

The announcers shriek and run behind the barriers which are formed by booths filled with books.  For a while the melee is too confused to focus on, and the announcers are both talking at the same time.

After a while the younger announcer says.  “John Ringo is down.  I repeat he’s down, and they’ve taken his kilt.  But he’s still fighting valiantly.”

“Larry Correia,” says the older announcer, “Is still running, though he is QUITE literally covered in fans demanding his autograph.  Look at him move!  That’s why they call him The Mountain Who Writes.”

“If mountains moved, of course.”

“We have the first author to escape the melee, ladies and gentlemen.  David Drake seems to have evaded the fans by the expedient of pretending to be lost and asking for directions, then fading away.”….

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

(7) HOW TO HIT BILLIONAIRES IN THE FEELS. Renay at Lady Business outlines a plan for action in “Captain America: Steve Rogers – The Only Power Left to Us is Money”.

Captain America: Steve Rogers #2 drops on June 29. I’m not getting it because I dropped it from my pull list and didn’t buy #1 due to A) my HEIGHTENED EMOTIONS, expressed by this thread on Twitter by readingtheend and B) the behavior of Nick Spencer/Tom Brevoort in the media, which included laughing at upset fans, and generally being dismissive, cruel, and gratuitously smug on Twitter (the failure mode of clever is asshole, etc.). I placed my funds toward other comics instead (Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur is super cute, y’all). But I’m just one fan. I’ve never advocated a boycott before, but there’s a first time for everything!

Boycotts work when they target specific behavior. A wholesale Marvel/Disney boycott is ineffective; they’re diversified (curse them for being smart at business, and also, billionaires). Refusing to buy and removing from your pull or digital subscription list Captain America: Steve Rogers #2 (June 29, 2016) and all subsequent issues will be more effective than swearing off all Marvel comics. Also, it doesn’t punish other creative people at Marvel who had no control over this situation. That sends a message to Marvel, The Company: this comic/plotline is not profitable! That’s easier for them to grasp than nuanced discussions about history and cultural respect that it’s clear they have no interest in listening to at this particular time. Although it doesn’t hurt to tell them, either, by writing emails or letters to outline exactly why you aren’t supporting the comic. This post has a longer list on how to make financial decisions that impact this specific comic that are active rather than reactive.

(8) WESTWORLD TEASER TRAILER. Westworld is coming to HBO in October 2016.

(9) ORDWAY. Universe Today features “Finding ‘The Lost Science’ of 2001: A Space Odyssey”.

The film 2001: A Space Odyssey brought space science to the general masses. Today we may consider it as common place, but in 1968 when the film was released, humankind yet to walk on the Moon. We certainly didn’t have any experience with Jupiter. Yet somehow the producer, Stanley Kubrick, successfully peered into the future and created a believable story. One of his methods was to employ Frederick I. Ordway III as his science consultant. While Ordway has since passed, he left behind a veritable treasure trove of documents detailing his work for Kubrick. Science author and engineer Adam K. Johnson got access to this trove which resulted in the book “2001: The Lost Science – The Scientist, Influences & Designs from the Frederick I. Ordway III Estate Volume 2“. It’s a wonderful summary of Ordway’s contributions and the film’s successes.

Johnson’s book was released this month.

(10) TABLE TALK. Black Gate’s John O’Neill gave his neighbor a lesson in marketing psychology, as he explains in “Total Pulp Victory: A Report on Windy City Pulp & Paper 2016, Part I”.

I learned a great deal about selling at my first Windy City Pulp show. And most of what I learned was the result of one fateful purchase.

When I noticed I was running low on paperbacks, I glanced across the aisle at the seller across from me, who had hundreds in big piles on his table. He was charging 25 cents each for the books he’d stacked on the floor, but wasn’t selling many. I’d rummaged through them and found he had a lot of great stuff, including some rare Ace Doubles in great condition, but no one seemed to be taking the time to dig through the jumbled stacks on the floor.

So I offered him 10 bucks for a box of books, and he was happy to sell it to me. Back at my table, I slipped each book out of the box and into a poly bag, and slapped a $10 price tag on it. The vendor watched me wordlessly as I put them prominently on display at the front of my booth. I’d put out less than half of them when a buyer wandered by, picked one up excitedly, paid me $10, and happily continued on his way.

Over the next few hours, the seller across the way watched furiously as I did a brisk business with his books, selling a good portion of his stock and making a very tidy profit. In the process, I learned two very valuable lessons.

  1. A 25 cent book in a jumble on the floor is worth precisely 25 cents, and a prominently displayed $10 book in a poly bag is worth $10. Simple as that.
  2. One the whole, it’s much easier to sell a $10 book than a 25 cent book.

(11) STEVE FOX. Somebody on eBay will happily take $12 for “1986 sci-fi fanzine FILE 770 #60, Challenger disaster”. However, I included this link for the opportunity afforded of showing you a cover by Steve Fox, a Philadelphia fanartist who, quite unreasonably, was voted behind No Award in 1985.

steve fox cover f770 60

(12) CHARGE REVERSED. Vox Day, at the end of a post otherwise spent extolling the views of John C. Wright, took issue with the popular acclaim given to a massive battle in the latest episode of Game of Thrones.

The battle scenes in the most recent episode of A Game of Thrones were so shockingly inept and historically ignorant that I found myself wondering if Kameron Hurley had been hired as the historical consultant.

As one wag put it on Twitter: A cavalry charge? I’d better put my pikes in reserve!

And while I’m at it, I’ll refrain from ordering my archers to fire at them as they approach. Then I’ll send my infantry in to surround the survivors, so they can’t break and run, thereby preventing my cavalry from riding them down and slaughtering them from behind. And when the totally predictable enemy reinforcements arrive just in the nick of time, because I’ve been busy posturing rather than simply destroying the surrounded enemy, instead of withdrawing my army and retreating to my fortress, I’ll just stand around and watch them get entirely wiped out before fleeing by myself.

It was the second-most retarded battle scene I’ve ever seen, topped only by Faramir leading Gondor’s cavalry against a fortified position manned by archers in The Return of the King. I was always curious about what the cavalry was intended to do if they somehow managed to survive the hail of arrows and reach the walls that no horse could possibly climb.

(13) STOP MOTION DINOSAURS. The Alex Film Society will show The Lost World (1925) on Sunday, July 10th at 2:00 p.m. at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, CA.

The Lost World poster

When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was not writing Sherlock Holmes stories, he often wrote history, fantasy, adventure and science-fiction tales. One of his most successful novels was The Lost World, the story of adventurers who find a South American plateau – where time stopped 65 million years ago – inhabited by dinosaurs. In 1912, when the book was published, movies were still in their infancy and technology wasn’t available to do the fantastic story justice, but by 1925, Willis O’Brien had begun to perfect stop motion, a form of animation that would allow him and his small team to bring these long dead creatures to life, blending them convincingly with real actors. It created a sensation when people saw, for the first time, believable prehistoric creatures on the screen, and remains a cinematic milestone today.

Featuring some of the biggest stars of the silent era, including Wallace Beery, Bessie Love and Lewis Stone, as well as no less than a dozen different species of dinosaur, our print of The Lost World is a fully restored version from the George Eastman House collection. Famed composer and pianist Alexander Rannie will accompany the film with the musical score that was written for the original release.

Preservation funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and Hugh Hefner.

(14) NEWS FOR THE FIRST DAY OF SUMMER? Yahoo! Movies has a Frozen franchise update: “Olaf Forever! Disney Introduces ‘Frozen Northern Lights’ – Including Brand New Character”.

Think of it as the Frozen sequel before the Frozen sequel. Disney has just unveiled Frozen Northern Lights, a multimedia expansion of its hugely popular princess franchise that will include new books and Lego animated shorts. The adventure revolves around Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff, and Sven — joined by their new friend, Little Rock — on an mission to fix the Northern Lights in time for a special troll ceremony.

 

frozen art

(15) JESSICA F. JONES. Whatever you thought you heard, you apparently didn’t. ScienceFiction.com has the story — “She Don’t Give A @#$%: ‘Jessica Jones’ Executive Producer Reveals Marvel’s Restrictions In Season 1”.

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporte, ‘Jessica Jones’ executive producer Melissa Rosenberg spoke candidly about producing the show, and what restrictions were placed on her by either Netflix or Marvel. As suspected, Netflix did not put a lot of restrictions on the show, but it seems Marvel had some very specific Dos and Don’ts that she had to abide by during Season 1 of ‘Jessica Jones.’ In her words:

“The beauty of working at Netflix is that you don’t have those limits. I also work with Marvel, and Marvel has a brand and their brand is generally PG-13. They’ve kind of let us go to PG-16. No F-bombs! And if anyone was going to say ‘fuck,’ it would be Jessica Jones. Sometimes I would be like, ‘Please just let me put one!’ Never. But what’s funny is that people said, ‘Wait — she didn’t say fuck? I could have sworn she did!’ Ritter can deliver ‘fuck’ with her face. Her look says it! She can be saying ‘potato.’”

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

Pixel Scroll 6/3/16 Second Pixelscroll To The Right

(1) LATEST MOWATT RHINO RUN CUT SHORT BY INJURY. Jim Mowatt tried to follow his London Marathon triumph by running the Edinburgh Marathon but midway through his knee gave out.

At around 15 miles Steve asked me for his Lucozade bottle. I dig around in his back pack and hand it to him. My leg is hurting so I cadged some ibuprofen gel from him. His tendons were hurting and he asked me to rub some gel on his knee also.

Steve ran on, I stepped out to try and catch up and found the knee pain had increased dramatically. I gritted my teeth and tried to carry on and then suddenly discovered that I could no longer put any weight on my left leg without it buckling from the pain. I staggered over to the side of the road and found a tree to prop myself upon with one leg held in the air. A marshall came to help, asked if I needed medical assistance and I said yes.

While we were waiting I heard various exchanges on his radio. Not everyone was as willing to stop and receive assistance. Someone else apparently was weaving all over the road in considerable distress, bumping into other runners. Marshalls had asked him to stop but he didn’t seem to hear them and carried on. Someone was shouting over the radio, “stand in front of him, it’s the only way to stop them when they are like this.” I had no such problems stopping myself running. Putting any weight on that leg at all sent huge rolling waves of agony flashing out sharply from my knee. I wasn’t keen on the notion of letting that foot touch the ground anytime soon.

….Carrie pointed me at the train station and we began our long slow walk up the hill. A very tall man appeared from nowhere and asked if we wanted a lift up to the train station. “Yes, absolutely!” yells I, “that would be brilliant”. He vanishes for several minutes and then reappears in a car and drives us to the train station. I think he must have seen us from his living room window and made the decision to help. Just a downright wonderful thing to do. Thank you tall man from Longniddry. You are a damn fine chap.

(2) TIE UP YOUR BOAT TO IDAHO. Steve Fahnestalk recalls his “Moscon Memories” at Amazing Stories.

As I mentioned we asked Robert A. Heinlein to be our GOH, but he demurred at first, saying his health would not allow him to commit to any convention (Figure 5); he later said he would commit to coming as long as his health would allow. Later, closer to the con, he suggested Verna Smith Trestrail as a GOH instead, because her father, E. E. “Doc” Smith, had attended the University of Idaho in Moscow. None of us, of course, had known this. (And if you don’t know who Doc Smith was, your reading is sadly behind the times. Check out the Wikipedia article.) I corresponded with Verna, and she gave us an enthusiastic “yes!” Figure 6, the Kelly Freas convention badge, is a portrait of Verna leaning out of the back of a train—don’t ask me why; I’ve forgotten—and holding out her arms to Worsel of Velantia, one of Doc’s non-human Lensmen. Verna and Al, her husband, trekked out to Moscow from the wilds of Leesburg, Indiana, and we were all hooked. Verna on us, and we on Verna. (Al wasn’t into all this stuff, being more of a Western kind o’ guy, but he bore up really well.) Verna bustled around MosCon, buttonholing anyone who stood still for five minutes, and gave them the lowdown on Doc; she also gave a talk on Doc at the con. Because Heinlein couldn’t attend, he wrote a short article about Doc, which I put in the program book; being a thrifty sort, Heinlein recycled it and reprinted it in Expanded Universe; we PESFANs, of course, are proud of printing it first.

(3) BUSBY RITES. The Memorial Service for James M. Busby will be held on Tuesday, June 14 at The Church of Latter Day Saints 2000 Artesia Blvd., Torrance. Service begins at 11a.m.

The family requests no flowers instead please make a donation in Jim’s memory to continue his life’s passion to educate and preserve space to the Aerospace Legacy Foundation.

(4) THE WINNER. Black Gate’s John O’Neill’s choice as “The Most Successful Anthology of 2015 [is] Meeting Infinity, edited by Jonathan Strahan”. Why?

It’s beginning to look as if Jonathan Strahan’s Meeting Infinity is the most successful SF anthology of 2015… at least if you use story reprints as your yardstick (which I kinda do).

Nine of the anthology’s stories were picked for year’s best collections by Horton, Clarke and Dozois.

(5) ROOMMATE NEEDED. A female reader has just had their MidAmeriCon roommate withdraw, and if there’s a female reader who’d be interested in sharing, e-mail a message to mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com and I will forward it. (Or if you prefer to work it this way, communicate to me and I will have the person write a message to be forwarded via email to you.)

(6) SPEAR OF LIGHT AUTHOR. SFFWorld interviews Brenda Cooper.

Are strong female characters important for you?

Thanks for the lovely leading question! Of course they are. And even more important, strong female characters that are complete with brilliance and challenges.  I’m not impressed when “strong female characters” translates to “women who act like men.”  I also like balance – I have strong men and strong women, and sometimes weak men and weak women.  Not so much in this book as Lym and the Glittering are placed that reward strength rather deeply. But still, characters should be complex, interesting, and they should grow. Women should be at least as strong as men, and just like in our current world, sometimes they need to be a little stronger.

(7) FIRST PITCH. Patrick Redford asks “What the Hell, Japan?” at Deadspin.

All sorts of people throw out first pitches before baseball games. Old guys, dinosaurs, washed rappers—you name it, they’ve done it. But this week, Nippon Professional Baseball—ever the innovators—went and put every quirky MLB first pitch into the toilet with this bizarre, unsettling play-within-a-play first pitch faceoff between Sadako from The Ring and Kayako from The Grudge.

The post has lots of GIFs of the action.

(8) PORTALS. Jonathan Thornton reviews Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire at Fantasy-Faction.

The story is set in Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. It is set up by Eleanor West after she returned from her own magical world to help other children who’ve been through the same thing as her adapt. The novella follows Nancy, a girl who’s just returned from the Halls of the Dead, where she has spent decades pretending to be a statue and is promised to the Lord of the Dead, as she joins the school and begins to adapt to her new life. Nancy’s parents are thrilled to have her back and just want to give her their love and help her, but they are unable to understand her experience, or what she’s going through now. This has obvious parallels with the experiences of those who suffer from mental health problems or victims of trauma – indeed, Eleanor tells the parents of the afflicted children that her school is a sanitarium.

The children’s experiences also have parallels with those whose sexual orientation or gender identity comes between them and their family. Nancy is asexual, and her parents are having difficulty understanding this aspect of her life. Kade is a trans man who is living as an intelligent and productive young man at the school while his parents still want their little girl back. More generally still the children’s condition could also be read as a metaphor for the transition from childhood to being a young adult, the point when you grow away from being your parents’ child into your own identity as an individual member of society. McGuire explores all these themes and ideas in the novella, and throughout it all treats her characters with respect and sensitivity, whatever aspect of their pain or personal history she is exploring.

(9) FOOTAGE FROM THE CULTURE WARS. Jason Ahlquist’s About Tomorrow is a feature-length documentary in progress “about the intersection of science fiction and politics told through the 2015 Hugo Award balloting controversy.” He plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign in July.

Also known as “Puppygate,” the controversy revolved around the efforts of two right-wing groups and their use of coordinated voting blocs to influence the outcomes of one of science fiction’s most prestigious awards…..

“I want this film to be a vehicle for exploration of the larger depths of sci-fi’s role,” said Ahlquist, “not only in how we see our future, but how we’ll act on our hopes and fears.” Ahlquist went on to say that production on the film is nearly complete, and that, “production will wrap at the 74th World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City before we move into post-production.”

 

(10) X-MEN. “Meet the Underappreciated Woman Who Invented X-Men’s Apocalypse” – a profile at Vulture.

Her name is Louise Simonson, and she co-created Apocalypse (his look came courtesy of artist Jackson Guice) in the pages of Marvel Comics’ X-Factor, in 1986. Simonson — “Weezie” to her friends — is one of the better superhero-comics writers of the past 40 years, a person who crafted beloved stories about the X-Men and DC Comics’ Superman, just to name a pair of the more famous properties she has worked on. The 69-year-old was also a pioneer: She did much of her most famous work when women writers were a rarity in the comics industry. Despite all that, she’s never gotten her due in mainstream media outlets. But within the comics world, her name reverberates.

(11) NEWS, WEATHER AND SUPERMAN’S DEATH ON THE TEN. From Gamespot I learn “Superman Is Dead Again – What That Now Means”.

Back in 1993, Superman died while fighting Doomsday. In the comics, the world mourned the death of the Man of Steel, and soon saw other Supermen rise to take his place. The real Superman eventually returned to life, and his adventures continued. That was in the previous comic continuity. In the current continuity, which started in 2011, Superman is dying again. This time, his death and return is something different.

Yeah, sure it is. Excuse me while I don’t give a damn. Superman’s life status has become as routine as the weather report.

(12) APPERTAINING YOUR OWN CON. Alexandra Erin explains in considerable detail that just because a Helsinki Worldcon co-chair hopes Erin will be at next year’s con it doesn’t mean they’re paying her way. Apparently not everyone immediately understands that.

This is probably the last time I’ll bother qualifying something neat like “a WorldCon head personally told me she’d be jazzed if I were there” by explaining the real world to dedicated denizens of a carefully constructed artificial reality, for the simple reason that I know it doesn’t work. It’s more my fascination with the disconnect between actual reality on the ground and the stories that swirl based on a few glimmers of that reality and much speculation that prompts this post.

What a different world we live in than the one that is ascribed to us.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

Pixel Scroll 5/15/16 Think Baloo, Count Two

(1) TWO FIVES WORTH OF WISDOM. Cecilia Tan shares “Ten Things I Learned at SFWA Nebulas Weekend”. Here’s the outline, click through for details:

  1. We Clean Up Pretty Good
  2. Kickstarters Should Be Pretty
  3. At Patreon a Little Means a Lot
  4. Dictate for Artistry
  5. The Myth of Self-Publishing
  6. White Knights and Online Harassment
  7. Think Globally
  8. You Can’t Be in Two Places at Once
  9. John Hodgman is Really Funny
  10. Not the Hugos or the Worldcon

[Warning: One Filer says this was flagged on her system as NSFW. I don’t see anything problematic on that page. However, Tan does write some NSFW things which may be elsewhere on her site.]

(2) NEBULA WINNERS PHOTO.

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Nebulans

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(3) NEBULA LOSERS CELEBRATION. Meanwhile, an informal survey showed only 50% of SFWAns know how to make an “L” sign on their foreheads.

(4) GRANDMASTER CHERRYH. Black Gate’s John O’Neill has posted a video of C.J. Cherryh’s SFWA Grandmaster panel.

This weekend I attended the 2016 Nebula Conference here in Chicago, where CJ Cherryh received the SFWA Damon Knight Grand Master Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Science Fiction Writers of America. Part of the Friday afternoon programming included “An Hour With CJ Cherryh, SF’s Newest Grandmaster.” I sat in the front row, with Nebula nominees Ann Leckie and Lawrence M. Schoen, and captured the first part of the speech, in which Cherryh entertained the audience with recollections of her childhood ambition to be a writer, discovering science fiction, her early career, selling her first novel to Donald Wollheim at DAW Books, and her recent marriage to fellow novelist Jane Fancher.

 

(5) SAME NIGHT, AT THE BRAM STOKER AWARDS. Ace Antonio Hall knew from the look of Scott Edelman’s piñata-colored jacket there was still some candy left….

(6) WISE INVESTMENTS FOR YOUR PLAY MONEY. From Die Welt, “Game of Thrones: Real estate and Prices in Westeros”.

The dungeons and castles located on the continent of Westeros have kept the families known from the tv-show “Game of Thrones” safe and sound for centuries. What if several properties from the show were suddenly listed for sale? Christoph Freiherr Schenck zu Schweinsberg, leading expert on castles for the real estate agency Engel & Völkers, checked out some of the unreal estate objects….

Andrew Porter is skeptical about these exorbitant valuations:

I don’t believe any of the properties have indoor plumbing, and the thought of being shot with a crossbow while sitting on the throne (no, not the Iron Throne!) may give you second thoughts about buying any of these…

(7) TOLKIEN’S FRIEND. Tolkien scholar John Garth contributed to “Robert Quilter Gilson, TCBS – a documentary”.

When Tolkien writes in the Foreword to The Lord of the Rings that ‘by 1918 all but one of my close friends were dead’, he is referring to his friends in a clique formed at school but later bonded by the First World War – the TCBS. Of these, Robert Quilter Gilson was the first to be killed, on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 100 years ago this July. Tolkien’s shock and grief infuses one of the first items in The Letters of JRR Tolkien: ‘His greatness is … a personal matter with us – of a kind to make us keep July 1st as a special day for all the years God may grant to any of us…’

Geoffrey Bache Smith never returned from the Somme either; only Tolkien and Christopher Luke Wiseman, a naval officer, survived the war. The letters written by Tolkien, Gilson, Wiseman and Smith form the heartbeat of my book Tolkien and the Great War. For Gilson, thanks to the wonderful generosity of his relatives, I was also able to draw a little from the many letters he wrote home from the training camps and trenches to his family and to the woman he loved.

Now, with my help, Gilson’s letters have been used as the basis for a 40-minute documentary by the school, King Edward’s in Birmingham.

 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born May 15, 1856 L. Frank Baum. John King Tarpinian has a Baum story —

A number of years back I went to an author event for a friend. She raises Cairn Terriers aka Toto Dogs. The author, a grand nephew of Baum was using a rubber stamp made from an imprint of Toto’s paw to sign the books.

Baum’s house was in Hollywood, just behind Musso & Frank Grill. It is now a mid-60s apartment building. In those days just about every house had an incinerator for burning trash, my parent’s home had one that also worked as a BBQ & wood burning oven.

Shortly after his death a niece came over to the house to visit her aunt to see how she was doing. Baum’s wife was in the back yard burning his papers. She figured since all of his books were on the shelves there was no need for the old papers. The niece explained to her why that was not a good idea to continue. You could feel the people in the event audience shudder at the thought.

(9) CHOOSING HELL. Brad R. Torgersen takes SFWA’s choice of Max Max: Fury Road for its dramatic award as the text for his message, in “The Martian and Mad Max”.

…Of course, The Martian was every inch a Campbellian movie, while Fury Road was almost entirely New Wave.

Guess which aesthetic dominates and excites the imaginations of SF/F’s cognoscenti?

I know, I know, I am a broken record about this stuff. But it never ceases to amaze me (in an unhappy way) how the so-called writers of Science Fiction, seem to be in such a huge hurry to run away from the roots of the field. I’ve read and listened to all the many arguments — pro and con, from both sides — about how Campbell rescued the field from the Pulp era, but then New Wave in turn rescued the field from the Campbell era. So it might be true that we’re finally witnessing the full maturation of SF/F as a distinct arena of “serious” literature, but aren’t we taking things too far? Does anyone else think it’s a bad idea for the field to continue its fascination with cultural critique — the number of actual nutty-bolty science types, in SFWA, is dwindling, while the population of “grievance degree” lit and humanities types, in SFWA, is exploding — while the broader audience consistently demonstrates a preference for SF/F that might be termed “old fashioned” by the modern sensibilities of the mandarins of the field?

Now, I think there is a very strong argument to be made, for the fact that Campbellian vs. New Wave is merely the manifestation of a deeper problem — a field which no longer has a true center. The two “sides” in the discussion have been taking shots at each other since long before I was born. The enmity may be so ingrained — in the internal conversation of SF/F — that nothing can reverse it. Save, perhaps, the total explosion of the field proper….

(10) BAD DAY IN SANTA FE. Bleeding Cool posted screencaps of a con committee’s rude Facebook comments in “Santa Fe Comic Con Makes Social Media Faux Pas”.

Instead of faux pas, how about we just say you shouldn’t call anyone a boob model?

(11) TIME TRAVEL ON FALL TV SCHEDULE. NBC’s new drama Timeless, starring Abigail Spencer, Matt Lanter and Malcolm Barrett, follows a team chasing a criminal intent on destroying America through time.

(12) AND THIS. NBC’s new comedy The Good Place follows Eleanor Shellstrop and her mentor as she tries to become a better person in the afterlife.. Stars starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson.

(13) TIME OUT. Trouble, as one of last year’s Best Graphic Story Hugo nominees goes on hiatus. Mad Art Lab reads the Twitter tea leaves in “Tess Fowler Pushed Out of Rat Queens?”

Comic book fans were deeply saddened by the recent news that Rat Queens, the Eisner Award-nominated comic book series, was going on hiatus. As fans likely know, Rat Queens has had a tough run since the series launched in 2013. In 2014, artist/co-creator Roc Upchurch was removed from the series after being arrested on charges of domestic violence. His departure made room for Tess Fowler, who was a natural fit artistically – but also seemed to some a symbolic choice, given her history of speaking up for women in comics. Unfortunately, it seems that is at an end. Fowler announced she would be leaving the series a few weeks ago, with creator Kurtis Wiebe making the news of a hiatus official…

(14) MEMOIR COMPETES AT SF BOOK FEST. Congratulations to Francis Hamit – A Perfect Spy received recognition at the San Francisco Book Festival.

A Perfect Spy, Francis Hamit’s memoir from fifty years ago of his adventures as an undercover police operative fighting the drug trade while a student at the University of Iowa has been awarded runner up (or second place) in the Biography/Autobiography category by the 2016 San Francisco Book Festival.  It is an excerpt from a larger forthcoming work entitled OUT OF STEP: A Soldier’s memoir of the Vietnam War Years.

The book also includes Hamit’s encounters with notable figures such as novelist Nelson Algren, filmmaker Nicholas Meyer and the poet Donald Justice, and his enthusiastic participation in the Sexual Revolution even as he resisted the onslaught of the drug culture.  It was a transformative time for him that led to his abandonment of a theatrical career for one as a writer and his enlistment in the U.S. Army Security Agency at the height of the Vietnam War when most of his contemporaries were trying to evade military service.

(15) NEW BFG TRAILER. Disney’s The BFG comes to theaters July 1, 2016.

(16) STUDY TIME. Paul Fraser at SF Magazines reviews the stories in the June 1940 issue of Astounding, including Retro Hugo nominee “The Roads Must Roll” by Robert Heinlein.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, Andrew Porter, Cora Buhlert, Mark-kitteh, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Black Gate Withdraws From Hugo Ballot

Black Gate’s editor John O’Neill announced May 1 that he has withdrawn his online fanzine from the 2016 Hugo ballot — see “Black Gate Declines Hugo Nomination”.

As O’Neill explained the decision:

Why did we decline? While we won’t know the exact number of nominating ballots until the stats are released (after the Hugos are awarded), it’s clear that Black Gate largely benefited from Vox Day’s Rabid Puppy Hugo slate. As we reported Wednesday, roughly 80% of this year’s Hugo ballot was dictated by that slate — it swept six categories, including Short Story, Graphic Story, and Fanzine. Our choice to withdraw was informed by many of the same factors that led us to make the same decision last year.

It also seems fairly obvious that we cannot win. Of the 61 nominees the Puppy ballots placed on the Hugo ballot last year, only one, Guardians of the Galaxy, received an award. The Rabid Puppy brand, which BG is now unwillingly associated with, is so toxic that it’s virtually impossible to overcome that association without the equivalent of a $100 million advertising campaign. Those nominees who stubbornly argued otherwise last year, and attended the Hugo ceremony with high hopes, learned that the hard way, unceremoniously losing out to No Award in a painful rout across virtually every category. (Incidentally, I also voted No Award for most of the ballot.)

[Thanks to Steven H Silver for the story.]