Panel, Young Adults versus the world!
Michael Scott, Lucienne Diver, Ian McDonald, Cat Valente and Fonda Lee
The rest of Dern’s Saturday gallery follows the jump.Continue reading
Panel, Young Adults versus the world!
Michael Scott, Lucienne Diver, Ian McDonald, Cat Valente and Fonda Lee
The rest of Dern’s Saturday gallery follows the jump.Continue reading
The Helsinki Science Fiction Society announced the winner of the 2018 Tähtifantasia Award at Finncon 2018 in Turku. The award is given for the best translated fantasy book published in Finnish during the previous year.
The award jury is composed of critics Jukka Halme and Aleksi Kuutio, author and publisher Anne Leinonen, and Osmo Määttä of Risingshadow.net.
Jukka Halme said, “The jury commended the book’s handling of the themes of time, and the worth of eternal life, and how it tackles changes in society and consequences of climate change, yet is also an entertaining read. The Finnish translation gets a special mention from the jury.”
[Thanks to Jukka Halme for the story.]
(1) STRANGE TOY. Robin Sloan offers “Voyages in sentence space”.
Imagine a sentence. “I went looking for adventure.”
Imagine another one. “I never returned.”
Now imagine a sentence gradient between them—not a story, but a smooth interpolation of meaning. This is a weird thing to ask for! I’d never even bothered to imagine an interpolation between sentences before encountering the idea in a recent academic paper. But as soon as I did, I found it captivating, both for the thing itself—a sentence… gradient?—and for the larger artifact it suggested: a dense cloud of sentences, all related; a space you might navigate and explore.
…My project called sentencespace, now public on GitHub, serves up an API that provides two things.
- Sentence gradients: smooth interpolations between two input sentences.
- Sentence neighborhoods: clouds of alternative sentences closely related to an input sentence.
Sentence neighborhoods are simpler than gradients. Given an input sentence, what if we imagine ourselves standing at its location in sentence space, peering around, jotting down some of the other sentences we see nearby?
Mlex sent the link together with a screenshot of his own experiment with gradients between two sentences: “I put in the opening and closing phrases of Dhalgren and got the output (in the screenshot attached).”
(2) JUKKA WINS. The Finnish Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association presented Worldcon 75 chair Jukka Halme with the Cosmos Pen Award, their highest honor.
(3) SPIRIT AWARDS. Get Out won the top two categories at today’s Film Independent Spirit Awards ceremony, Best Feature and Best Director.
(4) SUGGEST CHESLEY AWARD NOMINEES. The Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists is seeking suggestions for 2017 works for consideration for this year’s Chesley Awards in the categories Hardback Cover, Paperback Cover, Magazine Cover, Interior Illustration, Gaming Related Illustration, Product Illustration, Color Work Unpublished, Monochrome Work Unpublished, Three Dimensional Art, Art Director, and Lifetime Artistic Achievement. Anyone can suggest works for consideration, you do not need to be an ASFA member.
The Suggestion form is here: https://goo.gl/v8QuzP
The gallery of works suggested so far is here.
The deadline is March 5.
(5) THESE BOOTS. Will Terry Goodkind get a veto over his next book cover? Although not yet displayed on the Macmillan website, another service is circulating this draft cover art for the third novel in his Nicci Chronicles series. Siege of Stone goes on sale December 31, 2018. Unfortunately, the banner obscures the character’s footwear, one of the things Goodkind criticized in his recent blast about the cover for Shroud of Eternity.
(6) DID PKD EVER COMPLAIN ABOUT HIS COVERS? Alicia Kroell, in “33 of the Weirdest Philip K. Dick Covers We Could Find” at LitHub, has unearthed some truly creepy covers!
(7) ASSEMBLY REQUIRED. Roy Scranton reviews an Iraqi sf novel in New Republic — “A Surreal Story from Baghdad”.
Frankenstein in Baghdad begins with an explosion in Baghdad’s Tayaran Square, the full significance of which doesn’t become clear until later, when the junk dealer Hadi tells his story to a group of journalists at a coffee shop. One, a German documentary-maker, leaves halfway through, laughing off Hadi’s tale as a fable stolen from a Robert De Niro movie. But Mahmoud al-Sawadi, an Iraqi magazine journalist, stays and listens closely, because what Hadi’s telling him is genuinely weird, even for Baghdad: how after the explosion he’d picked up someone’s nose off the street and sewed it onto the face of a corpse he’d been building in his shed. Then how, while he was sleeping, the corpse apparently got up and walked away.
Hadi’s a well-known liar, and a drunk to boot, but as Mahmoud discovers, this time the junk man was telling the truth. His story sparks the plot of Ahmed Saadawi’s brilliant, rueful novel, which won the 2014 International Prize for Arabic Fiction and has recently appeared in a crisp, moving, and mordantly humorous English translation from Jonathan Wright and Penguin Books. Hadi, it turns out, created a monster.
(8) STIERS OBIT. David Ogden Stiers, best known for playing Major Charles Emerson Winchester III on MAS*H, died March 3 at the age of 75. He also appeared in several genre TV shows, and had numerous voice acting roles in animated films.
Stiers was a prolific voice actor, working in eight Disney animated features including 1991’s Beauty and the Beast (in which he played Cogsworth), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (the Archdeacon), Pocahantas (Governor Ratcliffe) and Lilo & Stitch (Dr. Jumba Jookiba). He also voiced Kamaji in the English-dubbed version of Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY DOMAIN
(11) WAKANDA AND COSPLAY. NPR explores how “‘Black Panther’ Brings New Visibility To Cosplayers Of Color”.
The film “Black Panther” has inspired black cosplayers around the country to be more visible within the cosplay community.
Cosplay, which is short for “costume play,” is when people wear often-handmade costumes to embody fictional characters from comic books and popular movies like Captain America and Star Wars. But black and other non-white cosplayers often feel excluded because non-white characters are rarely featured prominently in the fantasy worlds of comics. They are often relegated to the roles of sidekicks or villains rather than the superheroes.
But Black Panther, which features a black lead and a predominantly black cast, offers a multifaceted depiction of African life where people of color play both the villains and the heroes. These characters are transforming the playing field for non-white cosplayers like Tamara Heredia, a black cosplayer from Houston, Texas. …
(12) ANCIENT SAILORS. Learn Moana’s real history — “DNA sheds light on settlement of Pacific”.
Prof Reich, who is lead author of the study in Current Biology, added that Vanuatu was a “gateway to the remote Pacific islands… through that region of Vanuatu and neighbouring islands, people spread all over the Pacific”.
The first people to arrive in the islands belonged to the Lapita culture, who expanded out of Taiwan between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago, reaching Vanuatu about 3,000 years ago. “They were really talented seafaring people,” said Dr Cosimo Posth, from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany. Dr Posth was co-author of the study in Nature Ecology & Evolution.
Their secret was the specialised outrigger canoe, which is characterised by the addition of lateral support floats which stabilise the main hull. This innovation, says Dr Posth, “allowed them to cover immense distances of the ocean”.
(13) BUTLER TALK. The Pasadena (CA) Museum of History will host a lecture, “Telling My Stories: The Pioneering Fiction of Octavia E. Butler”, on March 29 at 6:30. Tickets now on sale.
Join Natalie Russell, Assistant Curator of Literary Collections at the Huntington Library and curator of the recent Huntington exhibition, Telling My Stories: The Pioneering Fiction of Octavia E. Butler, for this lecture in celebration of Womens History Month and in conjunction with the new exhibition Dreaming the Universe. Octavia E. Butler was the first female African American writer to make science fiction her career. A shy, only child from Pasadena, she dreamed of ordinary people in extraordinary worlds, and extraordinary people in ordinary worlds, and put them on the page. Her stories brought the voice of women of color to a genre traditionally dominated by white men. That powerful voice tackled issues, not just about race, but themes that continue to resonate with a wide audience: power, identity, gender, class, the environment, and what it means to be human.
This program is presented in partnership with the Historical Society of Southern California – George A. V. Dunning Lecture Series.
Tickets include light refreshments and entrance to the exhibition Dreaming the Universe: The Intersection of Science, Fiction, & Southern California starting at 5:30 pm. Tickets: Members $10; General $15. Advanced ticket purchase is recommended, visit https://octaviabutlerlecture.brownpapertickets.com.
(14) APPRENTICED TO A PILOT. From 2012, John Hodgman presents “Dana Gould as Maurice Evans as Dr. Zaius as Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain.” And I’ll throw in a twisted Gilbert & Sullivan reference as the headline.
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Alan Baumler, Mark Hepworth, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]
(1) VERIFIED FILER IN HELSINKI. Daniel Dern sent a photo of himself at Worldcon 75 wearing his Filer button: “From the batch I had made at Sasquan. Also note ‘pocket program’.”
Can it be, a pocket program that fits in a pocket?!!
Good thing – they need all the room they can get.
(2) JAMMED. Cheryl Morgan on “Worldcon 75 Day 1: Where Did All These People Come From?”
The Helsinki Worldcon is now well underway, and the big topic of conversation is the attendance. On the face of it, this is a good thing. We all want Worldcon to grow. The largest number of attending members in history is still LA Con II in 1984 with 8365. LonCon 3 in 2014 had more members in total, but only 6946 attending. The last I heard Helinki was up to 6001. Some of those may be day members, who have to be counted somewhat differently from full attending members, but even so it is an impressive number. Helsinki certainly looks like being in the top 5 Worldcons by size.
Unfortunately, based on previous Worldcons outside of the US/UK axis, expected numbers for Helsinki were more like 3500. Messukeskus could handle that easily. It is more than big enough in terms of exhibit space for what we have. But the function space, where programming happens, is stretched to the limit.
There are many things that a Worldcon can do to cope with the unexpected, but building new program rooms is not one of them. Seeing how memberships were going, Helsinki did negotiate some space in the library across the road. It did not try to turn empty exhibit halls into function space because we all know how badly that went in Glasgow in 1995.
(3) MORE SPACE COMING. Nevertheless, Worldcon 75 chair Jukka Halme says:
We will have more function spaces on Thursday available, and even more on Friday and Saturday. These things take time, as some of these rooms need to be built in halls, since we already have all the available rooms in Kokoustamo at our disposal. I believe this will help out the congestions somewhat.
Also, we are closing all membership sales on our website. http://www.worldcon.fi/news/closure-membership-sales/
All in all, I believe still we had a very good opening day for Worldcon 75 and the next four will be even better! See you in Messukeskus!
(4) UNPRECEDENTED. Kevin Standlee says:
In 1993, committee set 10K limit, but because we didn't expect to hit it, we didn't publicize the decision.
— Kevin Standlee (@KevinStandlee) August 10, 2017
I believe that’s true. And simply because I happen to know this story I will add that before L.A.con III (1996), Bruce Pelz and I briefly discussed what our membership cutoff should be – a topic because the previous L.A. Worldcon (1984) set the all-time attendance record. We considered 16,000. But since our attending membership sales didn’t even crack 7,000, it never became an issue.
(5) YOU CAN’T GET OUT OF THE GAME. Doris V. Sutherland finds three points of interest in Pat Henry’s answer to Alison Littlewood, refusing to take her off the Dragon Awards ballot — “The Dragon Awards: A Peek Behind the Scenes”. The third is:
3: The Dragon Awards were originally conceived as a way of building a reading list for SF/F fans during the nominations phase, with the awards themselves being of secondary importance.
Now, the first two of these takeaways won’t be much of a surprise to anyone who’s been keeping an eye on the proceedings, but the third point is significant.
For one, it explains something that had rather puzzled me about the Dragons: the shortness (less than one month) of the period between the ballot being announced and the voting process ending, leaving very little time for a typical reader to get stuck into a single novel category before voting. If fans are expected to continue using the ballot as a reading list after the awards are presented then this is a lot easier to swallow.
(6) WHAT REAL WRITERS DO AND DON’T DO-DOO. Chuck Wendig offers a “PSA To Writers: Don’t Be A Shit-Flinging Gibbon”.
Here is a thing that sometimes happens to me and other authors who feature a not-insignificant footprint online or in the “industry,” as it were:
Some rando writer randos into my social media feed and tries to pick a fight. Or shits on fellow authors, or drums up some kind of fake-ass anti-me campaign or — you know, basically, the equivalent to reaching into the overfull diaper that sags around their hips and hurling a glob of whatever feces their body produces on any given day. The behavior of a shit-flinging gibbon.
Now, a shit-flinging gibbon hopes to accomplish attention for itself. It throws shit because it knows no other way to get that attention. The gibbon’s most valuable asset, ahem, is its foul colonic matter, so that’s the resource it has at hand.
Thing is, you’re not a shit-flinging gibbon.
You’re a writer.
Your most valuable asset is, ideally, your writing.
If it’s not, that’s a problem. A problem with you, to be clear, and not a problem with the rest of the world. It rests squarely upon your shoulders.
If your best way to get attention for yourself is to throw shit instead of write a damn good book, you are a troll, not a professional writer.
(7) A SPRINT, NOT A MARATHON. Here’s the place to “Watch five years of the Curiosity rover’s travels in a five-minute time-lapse”.
Five years of images from the front left hazard avoidance camera (Hazcam) on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover were used to create this time-lapse movie. The inset map shows the rover’s location in Mars’ Gale Crater. Each image is labeled with the date it was taken, and its corresponding sol (Martian day), along with information about the rover’s location at the time.
(8) COLD EQUATION. Although sf is not really a predictive genre, that doesn’t stop people from enjoying the recognition when the things they’ve warned about in fiction happen in reality: the Antarctica Journal has the story — “Craig Russell, Canadian Novelist Predicts Arctic Event”.
In 2016, a Canadian novelist, Craig Russell — who is also a lawyer and a theater director in Manitoba — wrote an environmental cli-fi thriller titled “Fragment” about a major calving event along the ice shelf of Antarctica. The Yale Climate Connections website recently recommended the novel, published by Thistledown Press as a good summer read.
Ironically, scientists in Antarctica are in fact right now monitoring the Larsen C ice shelf with a huge crack in it and threatening to fall into the sea any day now. How is that for reality mirroring art?
How did Craig Russell respond when asked how he felt about his accurately future-predicting novel being in the news now?
“Some 40 years ago, as a student, I lived and worked at a Canadian Arctic weather station, 500 miles from the North Pole,” he added. “So I’ve remained interested in polar events, and was both fascinated and appalled by the Larsen A and B ice shelf collapses in 1995 and 2002.”
“To see world events catch up so quickly with a fictional reality I spent years creating has been quite unnerving,” he added.
(9) STAR WARS INTERPRETATION. Syfy Wire will show you the lot: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi teaser posters get the LEGO treatment “.
The long wait for the next Star Wars film can be painful to endure. We hang on any morsel we can get, any tie-in we can overreact to, and anything else that can get us geeking out. Then there is LEGO, who can help ease the painful wait by just getting us in a good mood. Take the new teaser posters for The Last Jedi, which were released in mid-July at the D23 Expo.
LEGO has now taken those same posters and LEGO-fied them, giving us six posters with LEGO mini-figure art that corresponds to those D23 posters. Again, repeating the crimson robe attire, echoing the red we saw on the first poster and also the ruby red mineral base of planet Crait. There’s no telling yet whether these posters are just part of Lego’s social media campaign or if these posters will be part of their gift with purchase program for VIP Lego Club members.
(10) TODAY’S DAY
Book Lovers Day
From the scent of a rare first edition book found in an old time book collection, to a crisp, fresh book at the local supermarket, the very sight of a book can bring back memories. Reading as a child, enjoying the short stories, the long books and the ability to lose yourself in a story so powerful that at the end your asking yourself where to get the next book in the series. This is for the reader in all of us, the celebration of Book Lovers Day!
(11) TODAY IN HISTORY
(12) TODAY IN ALTERNATE HISTORY
— Humanoid History (@HumanoidHistory) August 9, 2017
(12b) YESTERDAY’S BIRTHDAY FILER
(13) COMIC SECTION. Chip Hitchcock saw yesterday’s Bliss and thought: “Flame on!”.
(14) RELICS OF WAR. Something to watch out for when beachcombing in Helsinki: “German woman mistakes WW2 white phosphorus for amber”.
A German woman narrowly escaped injury after picking up an object she believed to be amber but which then spontaneously combusted.
She had plucked the small object from wet sand by the Elbe river near Hamburg and put it in a pocket of her jacket, which she laid on a bench.
Bystanders soon alerted the 41-year-old to the fact her jacket was ablaze.
The stone was actually white phosphorus, which had reacted with the air as it dried.
Police say the two are easily confused.
Chip Hitchcock adds, “Yes, most amber comes from the south coast of the Baltic, and leftover munitions may be more common in Germany than in Finland.”
(15) RIGHTING THE RECORD. Max Gladstone decides it’s up to him to salvage the reputation of a famous academic: “Defending Indiana Jones, Archaeologist” – at Tor.com.
First, I want to acknowledge the common protests. Jonesian archaeology looks a lot different from the modern discipline. If Jones wanted to use surviving traces of physical culture to assemble a picture of, say, precolonial Peruvian society, he’s definitely going about it the wrong way. Jones is a professional fossil even for the mid-30s—a relic of an older generation of Carters and Schliemans. Which, if you think about it, makes sense. By Raiders, he already has tenure, probably gained based on his field work in India (Subterranean Thuggee Lava Temples: An Analysis and Critical Perspective, William & Mary Press, 1935), and the board which granted him tenure were conservatives of his father’s generation, people who actually knew Carter and Schliemann—not to mention Jones, Sr. (I’ll set aside for the moment a discussion of cronyism and nepotism, phenomena utterly foreign to contemporary tenure review boards…)
Jones is the last great monster of the treasure-hunting age of archaeology. To judge him by modern standards is to indulge the same comforting temporal parochialism that leads us to dismiss post-Roman Europe as a “Dark Age.” Jones may be a lousy archaeologist as we understand the field today. But is he a lousy archaeologist in context?
(16) PROGENY. I can’t even begin to imagine, but apparently somebody at DC Comics can — “Superman & Wonder Woman’s Future Son Revealed”. ScreenRant has the story.
If you’ve ever wondered what the children of Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, or Aquaman would look like, the time for wondering is over. Thanks to DC Comics, every fan gets to see the parentage and superpowers of the sons and daughters of the Justice League. The good news is that they’re every bit the heroes that their parents were, making up the Justice League of the future… the bad news is that they’ve traveled back in time to seek their parents’ help. Because as heroic as their superhero parents taught them to be, the future may be too lost for them to ever save.
(17) GUFFAW OF THRONES. If you don’t mind MAJOR SPOILERS, then this Bored Panda post is for you — “10+ Of The Most Hilarious Reactions To This Week’s Game Of Thrones”. Funny stuff.
If you haven’t watched this week’s Game Of Thrones, come back to this after you do because it contains MAJOR SPOILERS. You have been warned. All the rest of you probably agree that The Spoils of War was one of the most emotional episodes of the show to date. Judging from all the reactions online, at least the internet certainly thinks so.
Bored Panda has compiled a list of some of the funniest reactions to Game Of Thrones Episode 4 of Season 7, and they brilliantly capture the essence of the plot….
(18) FASHION STATEMENT. Architectural Digest wryly calls this “Innovative Design” — “Game of Thrones Uses IKEA Rugs As Capes”.
As any of the HBO series’s devoted fans can tell you, Game of Thrones is not a cheap production. In fact, with the budget for its most recent season coming in at more than $10 million per episode, it’s among the most expensive television shows in history. (If you have dragons in a scene, they need to destroy things . . . and that’s not cheap). But it’s not only the dragons and set designs that are costly; it’s also the costumes. There are upward of 100 people who work to ensure that each character is wearing an outfit that’s as realistic as possible. What might surprise some fans, however, is that IKEA rugs are often used as clothing.
“These capes are actually IKEA rugs,” Michele Clapton, an Emmy Award–winning designer, told an audience at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles last year. “We take anything we can,” Clapton added with a chuckle as she described the process that goes into designing medieval garb. “We cut and we shaved [the rugs] and then we added strong leather straps. . . . I want the audience to almost smell the costume.” The result is an IKEA-inspired cape that not only appears worn-in but also has the aesthetic of real medieval clothing. It remains unclear as to which IKEA rugs were used to dress the GoT characters. The next time you visit IKEA, see if you can envision Jon Snow marching into battle with a Höjerup or Alhede wrapped around his shoulders.
(19) POORFEADING. Another graduate of the Pixel Scroll Editing Academy & Grill:
A concise argument for copy editors. pic.twitter.com/n6yuGkIqb3
— Naomi Schalit (@Naomi_Schalit) August 9, 2017
(20) DINO TIME. This dinosaur had more bumps on its head than a Star Trek: Voyager humanoid: “It’s Official: Stunning Fossil Is a New Dinosaur Species”.
About 110 million years ago in what’s now Alberta, Canada, a dinosaur resembling a 2,800-pound pineapple ended up dead in a river.
Today, that dinosaur is one of the best fossils of its kind ever found—and now, it has a name: Borealopelta markmitchelli, a plant-eating, armored dinosaur called a nodosaur that lived during the Cretaceous period. After death, its carcass ended up back-first on the muddy floor of an ancient seaway, where its front half was preserved in 3-D with extraordinary detail.
Unearthed by accident in 2011 and unveiled at Alberta’s Royal Tyrrell Museum in May, the fossil immediately offered the world an unprecedented glimpse into the anatomy and life of armored dinosaurs.
(21) THUMBS DOWN. Carl Slaughter says If you have read the Dark Tower series, you will probably share this reviewer’s shrill disapproval of the screen adaptation.
(22) MARJORIE PRIME. This doesn’t sound too jolly.
2017 Science-Fiction Drama starring Jon Hamm, Tim Robbins, Geena Davis, and Lois Smith
About the Marjorie Prime Movie
Eighty-six-year-old Marjorie spends her final, ailing days with a computerized version of her deceased husband. With the intent to recount their life together, Marjorie’s Prime relies on the information from her and her kin to develop a more complex understanding of his history. As their interactions deepen, the family begins to develop diverging recounts of their lives, drawn into the chance to reconstruct the often painful past. Marjorie Prime is an American science-fiction film written and directed by Michael Almereyda, based on Jordan Harrison’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated play of the same name.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Mark-kitteh, Craig Russell, Carl Slaughter, JJ, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]
(1) GAME OF THRONES AND WORLDCON 75 MAKE NEWS. George R.R. Martin mentioned in his blog the other day (“Tick, Tick, Tick”) that Game of Thrones’ David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are coming to Worldcon 75 in Helsinki for the Hugo Awards ceremony.
Chair Jukka Halme confirmed it and the story made it into Finland’s biggest newspaper (Helsingin Sanomat). You can get all the details there…if you read Finnish: “Game of Thrones -sarjan tekijät tulevat vierailulle Suomeen elokuuss”.
(2) TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN. The July 2 New York Times Magazine has an article by Steven Johnson called “Greetings, E.T. (Please Don’t Murder Us)” about the search for extraterrestrial life and the debate about whether we should wait for aliens to contact us (the “SETI” approach) or actively send messages to outer space (a method known as “METI”). Johnson interviews David Brin, who is fiercely opposed to actively broadcasting messages of our existence to other worlds:
Before Doug Vakoch had even filed the papers to form the METI nonprofit organization in July 2015, a dozen or so science-and-tech luminaries, including SpaceX’s Elon Musk, signed a statement categorically opposing the project, at least without extensive further discussion, on a planetary scale. ‘‘Intentionally signaling other civilizations in the Milky Way Galaxy,’’ the statement argued, ‘‘raises concerns from all the people of Earth, about both the message and the consequences of contact. A worldwide scientific, political and humanitarian discussion must occur before any message is sent.’’
One signatory to that statement was the astronomer and science-fiction author David Brin, who has been carrying on a spirited but collegial series of debates with Vakoch over the wisdom of his project. ‘‘I just don’t think anybody should give our children a fait accompli based on blithe assumptions and assertions that have been untested and not subjected to critical peer review,’’ he told me over a Skype call from his home office in Southern California. ‘‘If you are going to do something that is going to change some of the fundamental observable parameters of our solar system, then how about an environmental-impact statement?’’
(3) KAISER. JoAnn Kaiser reopened The Magic Door within a week of the death of her husband, Dwain, reports David Allen in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin — “Pomona bookstore’s reopening binds community after owner’s death”.
But Saturday she was revived, buoyed by her family and friends. A 12th anniversary sale that had been set to end July 5 instead continues, with all merchandise 30 percent off. The sale pricing may continue indefinitely.
Her goal is not to keep the store long-term. For one thing, she’s 82. But she wasn’t going to let the tragedy mark the end of Magic Door.
“I could have locked the door. I’m not a door-locker,” JoAnn Kaiser told me firmly. “The plan is to get the books he loved to the people who want them, who need them. He didn’t want his books dumped. He wanted them to go to somebody.”
…The bookstore fit the Arts Colony like a glove. “It was just part of the ambience of downtown Pomona,” customer Bill Martinez told me outside after buying two books. (I recognized “The Best of S.J. Perelman” as one I had sold Dwain Kaiser a few weeks ago.)
“Everybody knew them,” Martinez said of the Kaisers. “They were part of the community, and one of the best parts.”
Mayor Tim Sandoval has visited to offer his condolences and at Monday’s City Council meeting asked for a moment of silence in Dwain Kaiser’s memory.
…Not every customer knew of Dwain Kaiser’s death. Monica Berrocal was saddened when I told her. She liked to bring her children there. Once JoAnn Kaiser gave her son a Thomas the Tank Engine book. “They were always so kind,” she said.
Hino, a Pomona High graduate, greeted customers warmly from Dwain Kaiser’s usual seat and thanked them for coming. A hospital executive, he confided that this was his first retail job. He’ll be there helping out as he can, as will his sister, Kim.
“It’s very different from what I normally do,” Hino told me cheerfully. “I’m enjoying it. It’s nice. And it’s good being back in Pomona.”
…“Pomona’s resilient. I think tonight shows the best of Pomona,” JoAnn Kaiser said.
The store has a lot of books, and there are more in storage that Dwain Kaiser, due to age and mobility issues, had not seen in years. JoAnn Kaiser, with help, hopes to dig them all out, put them on the shelves and get them homes before shutting the doors for good.
“He had a mad love affair with books,” she said of her husband of 32 years.
“The support will fade. I know that. But I’m doing what he would have wanted.”
(4) BEAU GESTE. Deadpool gracefully yielded his place on the box office record lists to Wonder Woman:
— Deadpool Movie (@deadpoolmovie) July 11, 2017
(5) FOLLOW THE MONEY. What does John Scalzi have in common with Milo Yiannapoulos? Probably not much, except this one thing – Bookscan doesn’t count all their sales. Scalzi explains in “How to Screw Up a Triumphant Bestselling Debut”.
Here’s the deal: Yiannopoulos has asserted his book’s opening week sales were on the order of 100,000 copies. Contrasting this, Nielsen Bookscan, the service which tracks physical book sales via many (but not all) booksellers, including Amazon, has his first week sales as 18,268 in the US (and — heh — 152 in the UK). As most of us probably know, 18,000 is less than 100,000.
Or is it? Because here’s the thing about Bookscan — it doesn’t in fact track all sales of a book. It doesn’t track eBook sales, for example, nor does it track audiobook sales. Nor does it track sales from some small independent booksellers, who might have not signed up to be Bookscan-reporting retailers. As a result, depending on how much you sell in other formats, and where you sell your books, Bookscan can massively underreport your total sales.
I know this because that’s what Bookscan does with me. A couple of years ago I tracked the sales of the hardcover era of Lock In (which is to say, all the sales reported while the physical book was only available in hardcover). For the time it was in hardcover, Bookscan reported 11,175 hardcover sales in the US. However, overall the book sold about 22,500 copies in hardcover and about 87,500 copies across all formats (hardcover, ebook, audio).
In all, Bookscan recorded roughly 12.7% of my total sales. Which is not a lot! If Yiannopoulos were seeing a similar sort of ratio, based on his physical copy sales, he could indeed have sold something on the order of 100,000 copies of his book in the first week. He might not be lying.
With all that said, on further examination, this is why I very strongly suspect that Yiannopoulos has not, in fact, sold, 100,000 copies of his book in the first week…
(6) WE GET LETTERS. CBR.com tells you about “15 Times Fans Changed Comic Book History”.
15. INVISIBLE WOMAN’S POWERS
Other comics had certainly had an element of fan interaction in them before Marvel Comics, but Stan Lee took things to a whole other level when he began the “Marvel Age of Comics” in the early 1960s. Lee made fan interaction a key element of the success of Marvel. In Fantastic Four #11, Lee and Jack Kirby even worked in actual letters to the series into the comic book, having the characters respond to frequently asked questions.
Infamously, though, that issue also included their attempts to defend the Invisible Girl from all the hate mail she got for being seemingly useless (their “defense” was hilariously conceived – “She inspires them! Like Lincoln’s mother!” but still). They got enough of those complaints that they decided to give her invisible force fields in Fantastic Four #22, eventually leading to her becoming the most powerful member of the team!
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY
(8) A KEY TO WRITING. Fantasy-Faction’s Aaron Miles gives tips: “On Character Development”.
An understanding of character development techniques can bring many benefits to your writing and help improve your work, so let’s start by establishing what it is. In essence character development is the change in nature of a character brought about by events in the narrative, it can be subtle or pronounced, and it may happen over a long period or reasonably quickly. The difficult part is actually showing it on the page, and just as importantly, showing it’s justified. For a character to change their whole nature for no apparent cause or just because the plot requires it is sloppy writing and obvious to the reader. While the methods and timeframe may very per character, a well-constructed piece of character development will follow a set formula.
In order to show change an author must first establish an original nature to change from. When the author introduces the character they must detail their personality, opinions and mannerisms in order to make us view them as a believable and realistic person, particular focus should be given to any traits that might be relevant to later development.
For example, if you’re planning to have a cowardly character show a moment of bravery and save the day at the end of the novel, then you need at least a couple of scenes showing his cowardice in action. It could be crumbling in an argument with a shopkeeper, avoiding a hostile boss, or literally running away from a fight. Before the development even begins the author must cement a character’s nature quickly in the reader’s mind, this can be done with a variety of traditional characterisation methods and tricks and ideally is accomplished as quickly as possible. Without this establishment there is no baseline to measure development against and the change will lack meaning. Think about our introduction to Daenerys in A Game of Thrones as she is appraised and abused by her brother:
“You don’t want to wake the dragon do you?” His fingers twisted her, the pinch cruelly hard through the rough fabric of her tunic. “Do you?” he repeated.
“No,” Dany said meekly.
Without seeing the timid girl she was at the start of the story her later accomplishments and changes would be far less moving for the reader, but after Martin has shown us some early scenes of her life the reader gains a greater perspective to realise how pronounced her development is through several books.
(9) ECLIPSE VIEWING AND ECLIPSE CON. Hopkinsville, Kentucky is reputed to be the “point of greatest eclipse” for the 2017 Solar Eclipse. Just call them Eclipseville.
We’re already planning for your visit; our southern hospitality will make you and your group welcome, and your Solar Eclipse experience memorable. So, whether you are a bona fide eclipse chaser, or just looking for the best place to experience Mother Nature’s rare eclipse show, we invite you to be with us in Hoptown. Our community’s big enough to provide everything you’ll need and want for the 2017 Eclipse weekend experience… we’re planning a big Friday-Sunday Eclipse celebration before the sun disappears – for two minutes and forty seconds – at 1:24:41 pm CT on Monday, August 21, 2017.
And that’s where you’ll find Eclipse Con “raising awareness and funds for the Boys & Girls Club” with nationally recognized celebrities and vendors in the genres of cartoons, comics, anime, cosplay, sci-fi and superheroes
August 19-20, 2017
James E. Bruce Convention Center
Currently Confirmed Guests:
- Samantha Newark, best known for her beloved voice-over work as the speaking voices of “Jem” and “Jerrica” on the wildly popular cartoon series Jem and the Holograms;
- The Walking Dead’s Santiago Cirilo, who was also a member of the 101st Airborne Infantry and was stationed at Fort Campbell prior to his acting career;
- and the award winning creator of sci-pulp series, VIC BOONE, Shawn Aldridge.
(10) IT’S DARK OUT. Mental Floss explains “How Eclipse Chasers Are Putting a Small Kentucky Town on the Map”.
Today, James McClean is an eclipse chaser. That’s not the name of some cute weekend hobby. It’s a lifestyle. For the past two decades, McClean, a professional photographer, has given up everything resembling a normal life. He has no permanent home base, opting instead to trot the globe, work odd jobs, and live on tight budgets to see solar eclipses.
Every. Single. One.
McClean has made a living as a cartographer and an aurora borealis tour guide. He’s lived on an island near Sitka, Alaska and taught photography. (When he needed Internet, he’d kayak an hour and a half to the nearest library.) He’s spent summers in Germany doing archaeology and winters in Sweden constructing, and living in, a hotel made of ice. He’s slept in bamboo huts on top of volcanic islands, backpacked through Egypt, and trudged the snows of Svalbard, Norway. One time, in Indonesia, he was invited to sip coffee in a sultan’s palace.
(11) BERNECKER OBIT. The Walking Dead suffered another loss today when stuntman John Bernecker, seriously injured in a stunt (he reportedly missed the landing mattress while doing a 20-ft. fall), was declared brain-dead. There are many tweets with condolences from industry professionals included in the linked article.
(12) OUT, OUT DARNED SPOT. Nautilus interviews UC Berkeley’s Philip Marcus, a computational physicist and a professor in the mechanical engineering department, about “Why Jupiter’s Great Red Spot Refuses to Die”. Turns out there’s quite a bit of work been done on this.
Why did it start on Jupiter and not somewhere else?
Here on Earth, if you fly over the ocean, you can almost certainly tell when there’s an island below you because there’s a cloud hanging on top—topographic features often pin clouds to themselves. But there’s no solid surface on Jupiter until you get down to a very small core. It’s basically a ball of fluid. You don’t have differential heating between continents and oceans. You don’t have winds interrupted by mountain ranges. You don’t have all that messy stuff, so it’s got a really well organized set of jet streams on it. Once you’ve got jet streams, vortices just form naturally. You’ve got winds going in opposite directions, shearing against one another. Think of a ball bearing between two oppositely moving walls. The walls make the ball bearing spin, and the oppositely moving jet streams on Jupiter make the air between them spin. Vortices between jet streams are resistant to anything smashing into them. If I create a vortex in a bathtub and I smash it, the vortex is generally gone. If I do a simulation of a big Red Spot on Jupiter sitting between zonal winds and I smack it, try and break it in two, it’ll come back together. So I think of jet streams as gardens in which you want to grow vortices.
(13) DO PANIC. Two Travelers from Galactic Journey praise a low-budget Roger Corman production. You know, somebody should make Roger a Worldcon guest of honor someday — “[July 14, 1962] Cause for Alarm (Panic in Year Zero – a surprise summer hit film!)”.
The latest example is a tiny-budgeted film by schlockhouse American Independent Pictures, Panic in Year Zero. The Young Traveler and I saw Panic at opening night, July 5. There was a big promotional event headlined by Frankie Avalon, and I understand the picture made back its budget in just the evening L.A. showings! The film has already generated some positive buzz, and I suspect it’ll be the surprise hit of the summer.
Produced by the master of the independents, Roger Corman, Panic opens with a literal bang: a typical Angelino family out on a drive toward a camping vacation sees a bright flash as their home town of Los Angeles is wiped out by Soviet bombs. It soon becomes clear that the attack is widespread and civilization is about to deteriorate. Our viewpoint family must brave its way to safety, securing adequate supplies and a defensible shelter, before the walls of society collapse.
(14) FORK YOU. The January 30 New Yorker article by Raffi Khatchadourian, “The Movie with a Thousand Plotlines”, is about efforts in Hollywood to create films that have alternate endings that viewers can choose among. The article focuses on efforts by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, who directed Swiss Army Man, to come up with films that fit this template. The sf news is that both War Games and The Twilight Zone have had rights sold for interactive television series that are under development.
Treehouse is an intuitive program for a nonintuitive, nonlinear form of storytelling, and Bloch is adept at demonstrating it. In his office, he called up a series of video clips featuring the model Dree Hemingway sitting at a table. Below the clips, in a digital workspace resembling graph paper, he built a flowchart to map the forking narrative—how her story might divide into strands that branch outward, or loop backward, or converge. At first, the flowchart looked like a “Y” turned on its side: a story with just one node. “When you start, it is always ‘To be, or not to be,’ ” he said. The choice here was whether Hemingway would serve herself coffee or tea. Bloch dragged and dropped video clips into the flowchart, then placed buttons for tea and coffee into the frame, and set the amount of time the system would allow viewers to decide. In less than a minute, he was previewing a tiny film: over a soundtrack of music fit for a Philippe Starck lobby, Hemingway smiled and poured the beverage Bloch had selected. He then returned to the graph paper and added a blizzard of hypothetical options: “You can decide that here it will branch again, here it goes into a loop until it knows what to do, and here it becomes a switching node where five things can happen at the same time—and so on.”
As Bloch was getting his company off the ground, a small race was under way among like-minded startups looking for financial backing. In Switzerland, a company called CtrlMovie had developed technology similar to Interlude’s, and was seeking money for a feature-length thriller….
The article also discusses Mr. Payback, a 1995 interactive film about a cyborg – script by Bob Gale! – that was panned by Roger Ebert.
Early experiments in interactive film were likewise marred by shtick. In 1995, a company called Interfilm collaborated with Sony to produce “Mr. Payback,” based on a script by Bob Gale, who had worked on the “Back to the Future” trilogy. In the movie, a cyborg meted out punishment to baddies while the audience, voting with handheld controllers, chose the act of revenge. The film was released in forty-four theatres. Critics hated it. “The basic problem I had with the choices on the screen with ‘Mr. Payback’ is that they didn’t have one called ‘None of the above,’ ” Roger Ebert said, declaring the movie the worst of the year. “We don’t want to interact with a movie. We want it to act on us. That’s why we go, so we can lose ourselves in the experience.”
(16) IN MOLT. Joe Sherry has reached the artist categories on his Hugo ballot: “Watching the Hugos: Professional and Fan Artist” at Nerds of a Feather. Too bad it includes a slam against Steve Stiles, one of the greatest fan artists of all time.
(17) PINCH HITTER. Tor.com’s Emily Asher-Perrin discovered something at the movies: “Star Trek IV Now Exists in the Same Universe As All Marvel Films Thanks to a Special Cameo”.
When nerds make movies, beautiful things can happen. In this case, the fact that MCU producer Kevin Feige happens to be a big fan of Star Trek IV led to a cameo that now places a character from The Voyage Home into Spider-Man: Homecoming.
I won’t spoiler her spoiler – you’ll have to click through.
(18) UNEXPECTED CASTING. The Big Bang Theory’s Melissa Rauch will voice Harley Quinn in the upcoming Bruce Timm animated film Batman And Harley.
CinemaBlend is all in favor:
As far as casting decisions go, Melissa Rauch is a fairly pitch perfect choice for the role of Harley Quinn. Not only does she have a high-pitched voice that’s very reminiscent of Arleen Sorkin and Tara Strong; she also has developed a reputation as an actress through her work in a show predicated on the passion and intensity of geek culture. Something tells us that all of those years on The Big Bang Theory have given her an understanding of how fans will respond to her performance, thus ensuring that she will deliver the best possible Harley Quinn.
(19) POETRY CORNER. Johnstick joined the throngs who have been raining limericks in the File 770 comments section.
As prophets of eld have foretold,
and pixels of all hues have scrolled,
Death takes the clever
and redshirts forever,
plus all those whose glister’s not gold!
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, and Terhi for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) WERE THEY UNDER ATTACK? Chuck Wendig launches “The Great Ewok Defense of 2017”. Make sure you never find yourself standing between Chuck’s Ewoks and a stormtrooper…
Ewoks are not cute. Many are hideous. Look at this guy. He's been up all night, high as a kite on jungle tea. pic.twitter.com/5clhfejBcK
— Chuck Wendig (@ChuckWendig) April 5, 2017
Let's also remember, the Ewoks are basically an insurgency of guerrilla fighters who handily dispatched a superior technological force.
— Chuck Wendig (@ChuckWendig) April 5, 2017
Then finally, they take the helmets of the stormtroopers and use them as drums.
And you know they ate those troopers.
— Chuck Wendig (@ChuckWendig) April 5, 2017
(2) DRAGONS FROM OUT OF TOWN. Aliette de Bodard tells about “My Favourite Dragons and How I Designed Mine” at The Book Smugglers.
It will probably not be a surprise that I love dragons — a lot of fantasy and SF readers also do! There’s something intrinsically fascinating, for me, about flying, graceful reptiles with magical powers.
You’ll notice I don’t say “reptiles that breathe fire”, and the main reason for that is that the first dragons I encountered weren’t the Western ones that needed to be killed by the likes of Saint George, but the r?ng, the Vietnamese dragons, who tend to live underwater, have deers’ antlers and a long serpentine body but generally no wings, and who are generally benevolent entities who dispense rain (or catastrophic floods if angered).
(3) REACHING FOR THE SHELF. Nicholas Whyte created a quick introduction to the Hugo Awards, which he administers for Worldcon 75.
(4) A SINGULAR SENSATION. I wasn’t able to help Jason Kehe when he asked me about Chuck Tingle – you know as much as I do — while Vox Day said on his blog he simply refused to answer questions from the media. But Tingle himself was happy to offer a quote for WIRED.com’s article “The Hidden, Wildly NSFW Scandal of the Hugo Nominations”.
Hiscock’s nomination is the work of the Rabid Puppies, a community of reactionary sci-fi/fantasy writers and fans who in 2015 sought to derail the Hugos’ big-tent evolution by stuffing the notoriously gameable ballot box with what they saw as criminally overlooked white male nominees. After the Rabid Puppies found huge success—they placed more than 50 recommendations—predecessors the Sad Puppies smuggled in a 2016 Best Short Story nominee they hoped would really tank the proceedings: Space Raptor Butt Invasion, an erotic gay sci-fi tale self-published by an unknown named Chuck Tingle.
Incredibly, though, the plan backfired. Tingle turned out to be a ridiculously lovable, possibly insane ally—or at least a very shrewd performance artist—who used his new platform to speak out against exclusion and bigotry in all their forms. In the intervening year-plus, he’s emerged as something of a cult icon, pumping out ebook after skewering ebook of wildly NSFW prose. His latest, Pounded In The Butt By My Second Hugo Award Nomination, refers to the recognition he got this year, on his own, in the Best Fan Writer category.
Here’s what the man of the hour had to say:
Chuck Tingle: hello buckaroo name of JASON thank you for writing and thank you for congrats on this way! i believe this author is put on the nominees by THE BAD DOGS BLUES as a way to prank the hugos like when they thought author name of chuck was some goof they could push around (no way buddy not this buckaroo). so it seems to be same idea as last year dont know much about it. thing is you cant just nominate some reverse twin of chuck there is only one chuck on this timeline and he is nominated as BEST FAN WRITER all by his own! this is a good way i am so proud! so long story short i hope this new author is not a reverse twin of the void but who knows i have not seen the end of this timeline branch yet.
(5) TOUGHEST CHALLENGE. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog , Ross Johnson contends “The Best Series Hugo Is the Hardest Decision on the Ballot”.
A Best Series award makes perfect sense: when a book is part of a larger story, no matter how mind-blowing, it can be tough to judge it on its own merits—so why not take a look at series as a whole? After all, we all know SFF loves its trilogies (and its 10- to 14-book epic sagas). This is a great way to recognize a body of work, especially when the nth book of an excellent series generally has little chance of being nominated (let alone winning), but is still worthy of recognition. No one was quite sure how the nominations would shake out (could the entire Star Wars Extended Universe be considered as a singular series?), but there’s no arguing that the books on this inaugural ballot don’t seem to be entirely in the spirit of the award. There’s a wide-range of serious talent on the list, venerable classics alongside burgeoning favorites, all displaying the kind of character- and worldbuilding that can only be accomplished across multiple books.
(6) GOING TO THE WORLDCON. The Shimmer Program announced that the winners of the Worldcon 75 Attending Funding for Chinese fans offered by Storycom are Yang Sumin and Zhang Jialin (Colin). Each will get RMB 10,000 for use in attending and staffing the con. They are expected to gain experience in the Worldcon organizational work and help with future Chinese bids.
Jukka Halme, Chair of Worldcon 75 and Xia Jia, Chinese science fiction writer, selected the winners from five finalists.
There are photos and introductions to the two winners at the link.
(7) ISLAND NEWS Download Progress Report #1 for NorthAmeriCon’17, to be held in San Juan, PR from July 6-9. Lots of areas where they’re looking for staff and volunteers.
(8) FIRST CLUB. Joshua Sky sold this article to Mayim Bialik of Big Bang Theory for her site, Grok Nation. It’s about the origins of science fiction fandom: “The Scienceers: Where Science Fiction Clubs Began”.
All my life I’ve been a fan of science fiction, but I never knew much about the history of the field, nor did the majority of die-hard fans that I encountered. How could we – who could instantly recall every detail from our favorite comic books and every line of dialogue from Star Wars or Back to the Future – love something so much and know so little about its origins?
Last year, I found the answer when I was given a handful of wonderful out-of-print books chronicling the rich history of science fiction and fandom, including The Way the Future Was by Frederik Pohl, The Futurians by Damon Knight and The Immortal Storm by Sam Moskowitz. In their pages, I learned about the fascinating beginnings of fandom, which was mired in political warfare between overzealous teenagers, where clubs would form and disintegrate overnight. What I found most interesting, was an account of the first science fiction club ever established, called The Scienceers. It was founded in New York, on December 11th, 1929. Nearly 90 years ago. The first president of the club was a young African-American man named Warren Fitzgerald, and the first club meetings were held in his home….
File 770 took a look at that topic in 2014 from a different angle — “Early Science Fiction Clubs: Your Mileage May Vary” and “The Planet: One Last Landing” – and The Scienceers won the verdict of “first club” then, too.
(9) ALLIANCE FINALISTS. Realm Makers has announced the shortlist for the 2017 Alliance Award, the site’s new Readers Choice award for speculative fiction novel by a Christian author.
A Branch of Silver, A Branch of Gold Anne Elisabeth Stengl A Time To Rise Nadine Brandes ‘sccelerant Ronie Kendig Bellanok Ralene Burke Black Tiger Sara Baysinger Darkened Hope J. L. Mbewe Defy Tricia Mingerink Domino Kia Heavey King’s Folly Jill Williamson New Name A.C. Williams Rebirth Amy Brock McNew Saint Death Mike Duran Samara’s Peril Jaye L. Knight Scarlet Moon S.D. Grimm Siren’s Song Mary Weber Songkeeper Gillian Bronte Adams Star Realms: Rescue Run Jon Del Arroz Tainted Morgan Busse The Shattered Vigil Patrick W. Carr Unblemished Sara Ella
(10) HEALTH SETBACK. Eric Flint told about his latest medical problems in a public Facebook post.
Well, there’s been a glitch in my serene and inexorable progress toward eradicating my cancer. I developed an abscess at the site where the pancreas drain came out of my abdomen from the splenectomy. (Nasty damn thing! Painful as hell, too.) So I had to go back into the hospital for five days while the doctors drained it and pumped me full of antibiotics. I’m now on a home IV antibiotic regimen.
In the meantime, my oncologists suspended the chemotherapy regimen until the 20th. Chemo depresses the immune system so you really don’t want to pile it on top of an active infection. (That’s probably why I developed the abscess in the first place, in fact.) I’d just finished the third cycle, so what’s essentially happening is that we’re suspending one cycle and will resume the fourth cycle right when the fifth one would have originally started…
(11) TODAY IN HISTORY
Trivial Trivia: In Kubrick’s next movie, Clockwork Orange, there is a scene in the record store where the LP for 2001 is displayed.
(12) RICKLES OBIT. Famous comedian Don Rickles (1926-2017) passed away today at the age of 90. His genre work included The Twilight Zone, “Mr. Dingle, the Strong” (1961), X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes, both The Addams Family and The Munsters, The Wild, Wild, West, I Dream of Jeannie, and Tales from the Crypt. Late in life he voiced Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story film series.
(13) DO YOU HAVE THESE? James Davis Nicoll is back with “Twenty Core Epic Fantasies Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves”
As with the two previous core lists, here are twenty epic fantasies chosen entirely on the basis of merit and significance to the field. No implication is intended that these are the only twenty books you should consider.
I agree that was wise to say, since he omits the first three authors whose names I’d expect to see on such a list. On the other hand, if not for Nicoll’s list I would have remained unaware that Kara Dalkey (someone I knew at LASFS 40 years ago) has written a well-regarded fantasy.
(14) WHITEWASHING. Steven Barnes shares “Ten Thoughts on Whitewashing”. Here are the first five.
The whitewashing controversy is pretty simple at its core:
- if a character’s race is changed toward yours, you will tend to be sanguine with it. If it is changed away from yours, you will tend to object. If you have control of the property, you will choose changes toward you, on average.
- To this end, if you are group X, you will put X’s into makeup to resemble Y’s so you can control the image systems and keep the money circulating in your own communities. When that stops working, you’ll change the back-stories. It all achieves the same result, and other X’s will support any change you make.
- The changers will not be honest about the fact that they simply preferred the change. They will blame the audience, the lack of actors, the material, another country. Anything but themselves.
- The audience prefers it too, but also will not take responsibility. It is the creators, the material, other people. Never them.
- As this is what is really going on, and everybody does it, you can remove this entire issue from the table and ask instead: what kind of world do we want? I can answer this for myself: I want a world where art reflects the world as it is. Not “politically correct” but “demographically correct” which, we can see, translates into “economically correct.” But #1 continues to dominate far too often, corrupting the creative process (thank God!) and creating under-performing movies and television and outright bombs.
(15) TOR LOVE. The xkcd cartoon “Security Advice” became the most-clicked link from File 770 yesterday after Darren Garrison commented, “Well, it looks like Randal Monroe is part of the Tor cabal.” Read it and you’ll understand why.
(16) ALL ABOARD. Jump on Matt Lambros’ “Los Angeles Lost Theatre Tour”.
On Saturday July 1, I’ll be co-leading tours through seven of Los Angeles’s Lost Theatres as part of the Afterglow event at the Theatre Historical Society of America’s 2017 Conclave.
Starting at 10AM, we’ll be going to The Variety Arts, the Leimert/Vision, the Rialto, the Raymond, the Uptown and the Westlake. Photography is allowed, and I’ll be conducting short demonstrations and answering any questions you may have about architectural photography.
(17) BATGIRL. “Hope Larson discusses and signs Batgirl Vol. 1: Beyond Burnside (Rebirth)” at Vroman’s in Pasadena on April 12.
Spinning out of DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH comes the newest adventures of Batgirl in BATGIRL VOL. 1: BEYOND BURNSIDE! New York Times best-selling creators Hope Larson (A Wrinkle in Time) takes one of Gotham’s greatest heroes on a whirlwind world tour in BATGIRL VOL. 1: BEYOND BURNSIDE. Barbara Gordon’s heart belongs to Burnside, the ultra-hip Gotham City neighborhood. But some threats are bigger than Burnside. And when those threats come calling, Batgirl will answer! When Babs plans a trip to train with the greatest fighters in the Far East, she has no idea her vigilante life will follow her. Lethal warriors are out to take her down, each bearing the mysterious mark of “The Student.” And where there are Students, there must also be…a Teacher. As part of the epic Rebirth launch, Batgirl Vol. 1: Beyond Burnside is a perfect jumping-on point to start reading about Batgirl and her action-packed, crime-fighting adventures! (DC Comics)
(18) BESTER TV EPISODE. “Mr. Lucifer,” story and teleplay by Alfred Bester, can be seen on YouTube. Broadcast in glorious b&w in four parts on ALCOA Premiere Theater, starring Fred Astaire and Elizabeth Montgomery, on November 1, 1962.
In addition to “Mr. Lucifer,” Astaire played several other characters. Music by a much younger John “Johnny” Williams.
Links to parts 2-4 listed on upper right side of page.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Darrah Chavey, Darren Garrison, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day m.c. simon milligan.]
(1) Karen R.A. Lord has been named Worldcon 75’s Toastmistress.
— Worldcon 75 (@worldcon75) January 26, 2017
Worldcon 75 on Twitter – The secret’s out! Looking forward to being in Helsinki, Finland for Worldcon 75! https://t.co/LwEVQhWpGX
— Karen Lord (@drkarenlord) January 26, 2017
(2) Worldcon 75 has released Progress Report 3. Download it free here.
If you have paid for paper publications, you will also receive a printed PR3 in the post early next month. If you have not paid for paper publications, you are still welcome to print out this PR3 and savor its wisdom and knowledge in a nice warm sauna or elsewhere, or to enjoy its pixels directly on your screen.
(2) PR3 contains articles on:
- Words of Wisdom from our Guests of Honour
- We introduce our Toastmistress!
- Hugo Nomination information and ballot
- Finnish foods and where to find them
- A brief history of Finnish fandom, part 2
- and much more!
(4) Storycom will provide support for two Chinese fans to attend Worldcon 75 who are willing to work this year’s con and help with a future Chinese Worldcon bid. Here is the bilingual link for the funding: http://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/DN8UO45YFxeANe_IReUExQ
Worldcon 75 Attending Funding for Chinese Fans
In order to encourage Chinese fans to take active part in Worldcons and enhance the communication between Chinese and international fandom, Storycom sets up this Worldcon 75 Attending Funding. 2 active Chinese fans will be selected and granted RMB 10,000 each, for their attendance in and work for Worldcon 75, which will be held in Helsinki in August 2017. The beneficiaries should buy attending memberships for Worldcon 75, book their flights and hotels, as well as apply for visa by themselves, with the help of Storycom. The beneficiaries should also volunteer to work for Worldcon 75 and promise to take active part in attending and organizing both domestic and international science fiction activities in the future.
1. The applicant must be a Chinese citizen and live in mainland China.
2. The applicant must be a science fiction fan and have experience in organizing science fiction activities.
3. The applicant must be available during August 9-13, 2017 and can attend Worldcon 75 in Helsinki, Finland. He/she should also volunteer to work for Worldcon 75 before the con actually takes place.
4. The applicant should promise that he/she will help with future Chinese Worldcon bid if there is any.
5. The applicant’s English proficiency should meet the requirements of working for Worldcon 75.
Applications will be judged by:
Crystal Huff, who spent years working to bring the Worldcon to Helsinki and, after they won the bid for 2017, became co-chair of Worldcon 75, resigned today citing the need to give family and career priority. She will continue working on the con in another role.
— Crystal Huff (@crystalvisits) November 19, 2016
The committee responded on Twitter:
Jukka Halme continues as sole Chair of Worldcon 75 for the time being.
— Worldcon 75 (@worldcon75) November 19, 2016
Worldcon 75 wishes @crystalvisits all the best in all her future endeavours.
— Worldcon 75 (@worldcon75) November 19, 2016
[Thanks to Mark-kitteh for the story.]
A growing controversy over Dave Weingart’s termination as Music department head, fanned to life by his explanation and complaint on LiveJournal, and the 2017 Helsinki Worldcon committee’s effort to explain and justify their actions on Facebook, now has been defused by the Worldcon 75 issuing an apology and taking down its Facebook thread about the matter. Weingart says he has also received a verbal apology from one of the chairs.
Worldcon 75 would like to apologise for the grave mishandling of a personnel issue over the past few weeks, in particular regarding communication, the delays in our responses, and for our role in escalating the situation. Specifically, we would like to apologise to both our current and former staffers, who are now experiencing harassment from various parties. We would also like to apologise to our staff and to the Worldcon community at large for the lack of transparency in how this issue was handled and for our missteps in communication about it.
In order to prevent issues like this from recurring, we are taking steps to improve our internal hiring practices, our staff services communications, and our public-facing communications.
- Worldcon 75 will no longer discuss this personnel matter with the public. We have deleted the earlier statement on this topic with the full knowledge and blessing of the current and former staffers involved.
- We will ensure that our staff services and social media teams are well-versed in compassionate communications across cultural differences and have a range of solutions available to them when issues arise.
- All senior staff will receive further management training and information.
- Communications with staff about behaviour and conduct expectations will be timely and explicit. All staff will have an opportunity to discuss any expectation placed on them with staff services and the chairs.
- Worldcon 75 will publish our Code of Conduct on 31 October 2016. We have a draft in review and are working with all our staff to make sure that it clearly communicates the values of Worldcon 75.
- An internal conflict-resolution policy will be formulated and published to staff by 1 December 2016.
- We reaffirm our commitment to making this convention a fun and safe experience for all our staff and members through clever, competent, and kind management.
… Thank you, Jukka Halme, Crystal Huff, and the Staff Services Division of Worldcon 75
Weingart had already made private his LiveJournal posts about the controversy in reaction to Vox Day linking to them from Vox Popoli:
Because Vox Day and his miserable crew of people have glommed onto my disagreement with Worldcon 75 I have made my DW/LJ posts mentioning any other party private. I’ve done likewise with my FB posts.
After Worldcon 75 took down its Facebook thread, Weingart responded:
The wording of Worldcon’s posted apology is something I agreed to verbally on the phone with one of the co-chairs on 2016-10-10, when I was also given a verbal apology. Worldcon’s deleting their other post on this subject (on the Worldcon 75 page) was done with my explicit permission as well.
Whatever the disagreement, neither Worldcon 75 nor I want Vox Day to have anything to do with this.
[Thanks to Karl-Johan Norén and Dave Langford for the story.]
[There’s been quite a bit of discussion here about accommodations for the Helsinki Worldcon, the relative convenience of getting back and forth to the 2017 Worldcon site, and whether voters were aware of the facts. Chair Jukka Halme left a response in comments, and it seemed a good idea to make it a post so more will see it.]
Hello, Worldcon 75 Co-Chair Jukka Halme here.
I’d like to thank Terhi (and others) for addressing a number of issues here and giving answers we should have on our website. We have every intention of adding more information there about Helsinki, hotels, traveling, eating, parties etc. This will take time and effort, but I believe we’ll have more than a fair amount of this info available before the end of 2016. Comments and questions are always welcomed, especially if they come directly to us, via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or various SoMe channels.
We apologise for any miscommunication, but I’m afraid I have to beg to differ with, or at least comment on, some of the claims raised here.
When bidding, we did mention that there was a hotel attached to the Helsinki Exhibition and Congress Center Messukeskus. We were always clear to point out, however, that it is the only hotel close to Messukeskus and that most people would have to find accommodation somewhere else, namely Downtown area. This fact was never hidden, obfuscated or covered up. We apologise that this information did not reach everyone, but the bid never hid this fact.
As to traveling to the convention site from the centre of Helsinki, I cannot even remember how many times we explained the various ways of reaching Messukeskus. It takes five minutes to travel by train from the Helsinki Central Railway station to Pasila, and back. And those trains leave every other minute during day.
Trams are slower, but will make the same trip in 20-25 minutes or so. Adding walking time from and to the hotel makes it more or less what Terhi states in one of her many messages. As we said on our bid FAQ: “There are about 40 hotels within 20 minutes’ travel by public transport”.
On Twitter, Mark Gerrits made this nice map: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?mid=1Iiu0EwyuGmmRYsmNY-IlnDJ5T4k Helsinki does have a fair number of other hotels besdes the ones shown here, but these should be the ones we have blocked rooms.
Walking distance from the Central Railway station to Messukeskus is 2,5 miles or 4 kilometers. It would take me forever, or about 45 minutes and I’m a slow walker.
I understand that not everyone is Finnish, or even European, and have ways different from us. I know, shocking. “Si fueris Romae” and all that.
It’s a big world, and we really would like to bring a piece of that world to Worldcon with our little convention here in Helsinki next year. I welcome you all: Tervetuloa!