Pixel Scroll 7/26/19 Scroll-Fly Pie And Pixel-Pan Dowdy

(1) MARY SUE ORIGIN STORY. [Item by Jerry Kaufman.] This recent article from the London Review of Books is about fandom, or fandoms as the case may be, the woman who identified the “Mary Sue”, and her recent writing. (I am the real Jerry Kaufman – accept no other) – “On Sophie Collins”. (Registration required to read full article.)

A ‘Mary Sue’ is an implausibly skilful, attractive or successful protagonist who seems to be a stand-in for the author, especially in fanfiction. The term comes from Paula Smith’s parodic story ‘A Trekkie’s Tale’ (1973), originally published in a mimeographed journal for Star Trek fans. In mocking ‘Mary Sue’, Smith was not attacking fanfiction but trying to bolster its literary quality against fans who used it naively for wish fulfilment. Most of these fans were (like Smith) female. As the term, and the critique, became more common, some fans, and some feminist critics, pushed back. They saw fan communities, and the defiantly unprofessional cultural production that emerged from them, as a kind of safe space, where the rules imposed by a patriarchal outside world about what one can say, and who one can be, could be ignored.

(2) ON THE STREET WHERE YOU LIVE. “City Council Votes to Name Bronx Street ‘Stan Lee Way’ in Honor of Comic Book Genius, Spider-Man Creator” — New York TV station NBC-4 has the story.

Council Member Fernando Cabrera’s proposal aims to honor Stan Lee’s Bronx roots by co-naming a section of University Avenue between Brandt Place and West 176th Street after the comic book genius.

The city council voted Tuesday to approve the proposal.

… “Stan Lee was a Bronx native who grew up in my district,” said Cabrera. “Stan Lee was a creative genius who co-created iconic super heroes including Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, Black Panther and more. Mr. Lee’s amazing talent brought joy and entertainment to countless children and adults and he deserves to be permanently memorialized in his home borough, the Bronx.”

(3) BUILDING A STORY WITH MAGIC. Juliette Wade’s new Dive Into Worldbuilding introduces readers to “Julie Czerneda and The Gossamer Mage. View the video interview, and/or read the summary notes at the link. 

…I asked her where the idea for the book started, and she said it started with a pen – and proceeded to show us the pen in question! She brought a lot of cool props to show us, so I encourage you all to check out the video if you’re curious about them.

One of the things that Julie explored while writing this was the history of ink. Battles were fought over areas of the world that provided good ink ingredients, and pirates stole ink as well as other things.

I’ve always found constrained magic systems very interesting, so I asked her to tell us about the magic system she used in The Gossamer Mage. Julie said she agreed with me that she liked constrained systems. She said she liked it when everyone knows how to use the magic, but wait, it’s not so simple. This particular magic system is constrained in part because it requires writing, which means it requires a particular type of scholarship. You have to be able to write words that are not human words, and to intend them. Further, this magic can only be done in the one place in the world where magic remains. One important ingredient here is that magic used to be in more of the world, but is no longer present except in one region, ringed with mountains.

Thus, magic is constrained physically, and it is constrained to scholars….

(4) BOOK MAKER. Shelf Awareness does a Q&A with Babylon-5 creator, who recently published his autobiography Becoming Superman: “Reading with… J. Michael Straczynski”.

On your nightstand now: 

Rereading A Coney Island of the Mind by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I believe that an appreciation of poetry is essential for any writer in any field. That economy of language reminds you of the importance of choosing exactly the right word, not the word next to the right one on the shelf. On a conceptual level, I admire Ferlinghetti’s writing which comes at you from a right angle with a huge impact, so I reread his work every couple of years to keep my brain flexible.

(5) HE WHO OVERCOMES. Then, Cory Doctorow does an epic review of “J Michael Straczynski’s “Becoming Superman”: a memoir of horrific abuse, war crimes, perseverance, trauma, triumph and doing what’s right” at BoingBoing.

And so, drip by drip, crumb by crumb, inch by inch, Straczynski manages to become a writer, and it turns out that not only can he write to deadline, he’s really good at it. Even projects that seem silly or trivial on their face, like writing for He-Man or The Real Ghostbusters, are treated with such intense seriousness that they just kill.

But this being Hollywood, where, famously, nobody knows anything, every success that Straczynski ekes out is eventually scuttled by venality, cowardice, grift, or all three, as greedy execs and bullshit-slinging consultants demand that he compromise on what he knows is right. And Straczynski being Straczynski — being the survivor of a campaign of terror visited upon him by a literal Nazi — refuses to back down, because despite the mountain of shit he’s climbed to get where he is, the prospect of falling down to the bottom is incapable of scaring him beyond his threshold of tolerability.

And, remarkably, despite industry concentration and a thousand variations of “you’ll never work in this town again,” Straczynski continues to work. His story is a beautiful parable about how luck is made: the way it’s told, it seems like Straczynski has a horseshoe up his ass, with opportunities dropping appearing over the horizon just a little faster than the burn-rate of the bridges he’s torched behind him, but when you look a little closer, you realize that the most improbable thing here isn’t the opportunities, but rather Straczynski’s relentless, singleminded determination to seize them, writing (for example) entire seasons of his TV shows when the studios’ dumb mistakes leave them shorthanded.

(6) REVOLUTIONARY DATA. Can you imagine Brent Spiner playing John Adams in 1776? There’s a concept. He’s the guest on the latest Maltin on Movies podcast.

Forever to be remembered as Lt. Commander Data on Star Trek: the Next Generation and other treks to follow, Brent Spiner is a versatile actor and performer with notable Broadway credits—and two fervent fans in Leonard and Jessie, who saw him play John Adams in a masterful revival of 1776. He’s happy to discuss all facets of his career, from musical theater to his memorable role in Independence Day. Even longtime fans may learn things they didn’t already know about Brent in this delightful chat.

(7) THIS IS COOL. The earth seen from outer space —  here is a visualization of how Planet’s satellites assemble swatches of remote sensing tiles to complete a global observation in 24 hours:

In four years, Planet has flown on 18 successful launches and deployed 293 satellites successfully into low Earth orbit. With more than 150 satellites currently in orbit, Planet has the largest constellation of Earth imaging satellites in history.

As you may notice, the satellites are not always taking photos (or sending / “beaming” the data down to Earth). Parts of the landmass can also be missing due to complete cloud cover that day. See the Amazon, Central Africa, or Northern Australia for example.

A companion piece reveals more about the satellites themselves; the “doves”, “RapidEyes”, and “SkySats”. Explaining their sizes, the numbers out there already and the types of images they capture. Check out the story here!

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 26, 1883 Edwin Balmer. Together with author Philip Wylie, he penned When Worlds Collide and After Worlds Collide. The first was made into the 1951 movie by George Pal. He also wrote several detective novels and collaborated with William MacHarg on The Achievements of Luther Trant, an early collection of detective short stories. The latter are not genre, despite being listed as ISFDB as I’ve read them. (Died 1959.)
  • Born July 26, 1894 Aldous Huxley. Brave New World is fascinating. I knew I had it assigned and sort of discussed in a High School class and at least one Uni class decades ago. So what else is genre by him and worth reading? (Died 1963.)
  • Born July 26, 1919 James Lovelock, 99. Just shy of a century now in life, the Gaia theorist wrote a genre novel with Michael Allaby, The Greening of Mars, of the transformation of the red planet into a green one.  His newest work, Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence, thinks that hyperintelligent machines are coming into being by our own hand and that we better be prepared for their arrival. 
  • Born July 26, 1928 Stanley Kubrick. I’m reasonably sure 2001: A Space Odyssey was the first film I saw by him but Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb was the one that impressed me the most. A Clockwork Orange was just damn depressing. And I’m not a horror fan as such so I never saw The ShiningBarry Lyndon is great but it’s not genre by any means. (Died 1999.)
  • Born July 26, 1945 M. John Harrison, 74. TheViriconium sequence, I hesitate to call it a series, starting with The Pastel City, is some of the most elegant fantasy I’ve read. And I see he’s a SJW as he’s written the Tag, the Cat series which I need to take a look at. He’s not published deep in digital form at this time.
  • Born July 26, 1945 Helen Mirren, 74. She first graces our presences as Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She next shows up in a genre role as Alice Rage in The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, Peter Sellers’ last film. She’s an ever so delicious Morgana in Excalibur and then leaps into the future as Tanya Kirbuk in 2010: The Year We Make Contact. She voices the evil lead role in The Snow Queen, and likewise is Deep Thought in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  • Born July 26, 1957 Nana Visitor,62. Kira Nerys on Deep Space Nine which for my money is the best of the Trek series to date. After DS9 ended, Visitor had a recurring role as villain Dr. Elizabeth Renfro on Dark Angel. In 1987, Visitor appeared as Ellen Dolan in a never developed series pilot for Will Eisner’s The Spirit with Sam J. Jones as The Spirit.
  • Born July 26, 1971 Mary Anne Mohanraj, 48. Writer and editor. Founder of Strange Horizons, a genre fiction magazine. She has one genre novel, The Stars That Change, and two stories published in the Wild Cards Universe, “Low Chicago” and “Ties That Bind”. She also an anthology, Without A Map, co-edited with Nnedi Okorafor.
  • Born July 26, 1978 Eve Myles, 41. She’s a a Welsh actress from Ystradgynlais, convenient as she played Gwen Cooper on Torchwood which was set in and shot in Cardiff. She previously played the servant girl Gwyneth in the Doctor Who episode “The Unquiet Dead” during the Ninth Doctor’s time. She and the full Torchwood cast did an an BBC 4 Radio Play called  Golden Age in which they time travelled back to Imperial India. Highly recommended. 

(9) THE BOYS. According to NPR’s Glen Weldon, “Superhero Satire ‘The Boys’ Doesn’t Have Much New To Say, But Says It Loudly”.

…Amazon’s new 8-episode series The Boys – about a team of non-powered mercenaries determined to take down the world’s premier team of evil, corrupt, soulless-corporate-shill superheroes – chooses to play in a sandbox that’s seen its share of use. A sandbox that’s been sitting out in the sun and rain and wind for decades, filling up with cigarette butts and cat poop and old toys left by previous storytellers, who’ve hit precisely the same themes.

This is even more true today than it was in 2006, when the comics series The Boys, by writer Garth Ennis and artist Darick Robertson – from which the Amazon show has been adapted, freely – first debuted.

…What The Boys was, at the time — especially if you’d been reading comics for years — was tiresome, more than anything else: Really? We’re still doing … this?

I’m happy to report that the Amazon series improves on its source material. It does so by taking the comics’ lazy inciting incident – the accidental death-by-superhero of the girlfriend of its main character Hughie (Jack Quaid) – and treating it as something more than solely a plot trigger. The series gives Hughie time to absorb, to grieve, to soak in the brutal incident so – even though it is depicted, lovingly, in garish slow-motion – it becomes something more than another nihilistic gag.

That’s a hallmark of the show, as it turns out. Where the comic was content to steer headlong into bloody spectacle and smugly snicker, the show serves up the spectacle (on a budget) and then … takes the time to inspect it, examine it, unpack it. To legitimately honor it, in other words. In its way.

(10) NEW TENANT IN THE WHITE HOUSE. Zombieland: Double Tap comes to theaters October 18.

A decade after Zombieland became a hit film and a cult classic, the lead cast (Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, and Emma Stone) have reunited with director Ruben Fleischer (Venom) and the original writers Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick (Deadpool) for Zombieland 2: Double Tap. In the sequel, written by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick and Dave Callaham, through comic mayhem that stretches from the White House and through the heartland, these four slayers must face off against the many new kinds of zombies that have evolved since the first movie, as well as some new human survivors. But most of all, they have to face the growing pains of their own snarky, makeshift family.

(11) CHANNELING TRADER JOE. Fast Company appreciates why “The Trader Joe’s YouTube channel is unexpectedly amazing—and very weird”.

Although wackiness levels vary from video to video, the run times are all wisely kept brief. The only things that run longer than the time it takes to decide between regular avocados and organic ones are the cooking tutorials. Everything else—including charm-infused shorts like Christmas in Germany, produced by Condé Nast Traveler, which mixes traditional animation with stop-motion footage of Pfeffernüsse cookies and other German delicacies—runs at around the one-minute mark, making for a thoroughly undemanding watch.

This one’s very stfnal –

While this one’s just plain funky –

(12) NASFIC/WESTERCON IN UTAH. Rodford Edmiston has posted an album of photos from Spikecon at Flickr. Whether intentionally or not, the photographer showed a genius for standing at the back of a hall in which the only people were in the front row and on the platform.

(13) REUBEN AWARD. Stephan Pastis won the 2018 Reuben Award for Cartoonist of the Year given by the National Cartoonists Society. The award was announced during the NCS Annual Reuben Awards Weekend in May.

STEPHAN PASTIS is the creator of the daily comic strip Pearls Before Swine, syndicated by Andrews McMeel Syndication. Stephan practiced law in the San Fransisco Bay area before following his love of cartooning and eventually seeing syndication with Pearls, which was launched in newspapers beginning December 31, 2001. The National Cartoonists Society awarded Pearls Before Swine the Best Newspaper Comic Strip in 2003 and in 2006. Stephan is also the author of the children’s book series Timmy Failure. Stephan lives in northern California with his wife Staci and their two children.

(14) CHERNOBYL. BBC digs into “The true toll of the Chernobyl disaster” in a long meaty article. Here is a brief excerpt:

Covered up by a secretive Soviet Union at the time, the true number of deaths and illnesses caused by the nuclear accident are only now becoming clear.

Springtime was always the busiest time of year for the women working at the wool processing plant in Chernihiv, northern Ukraine. More than 21,000 tons of wool passed through the factory from farms all across the country during the annual sheep shearing period. The April and May of 1986 were no exception.

The workers pulled 12-hour shifts as they sorted the piles of raw fleece by hand before they were washed and baled. But then the women started getting sick.

Some suffered nosebleeds, others complained of dizziness and nausea. When the authorities were called to investigate, they found radiation levels in the factory of up to 180mSv/hr. Anyone exposed at these levels would exceed the total annual dose considered to be safe in many parts of the world today in less than a minute.

Fifty miles away was the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. On 26 April 1986 reactor number four at the power plant suffered a catastrophic explosion that exposed the core and threw clouds of radioactive material over the surrounding area as a fire burned uncontrollably.

But Chernihiv was regarded to be well outside the exclusion zone that was hastily thrown up around the stricken plant and readings elsewhere in the town had shown it to have comparatively low levels of radiation.

(15) HAUER’S MASTERPIECE. Bilge Ebiri explains why “Even Now, Rutger Hauer’s Performance in ‘Blade Runner’ Is a Marvel” in the New York Times.

…Had Hauer played Batty as another stone-faced Eurobaddie, “Blade Runner” itself might have been a more comfortably classifiable genre effort, the kind of movie that many viewers expected in 1982, the kind that promised to pit Ford, the star so familiar to us as Han Solo and Indiana Jones, against a new kind of futuristic nemesis. Instead, audiences were thrown off by the knotty neo-noir that Scott and the screenwriters Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples delivered, the film flopped, and a cult masterpiece was born.

Look no further than Batty’s extended final battle with Deckard to see both the evidence of the movie’s idiosyncratic tone and how Hauer’s remarkable performance enhances it, practically deconstructing the simple plot before our eyes. The replicant chases the beleaguered, frightened Deckard around an abandoned building, toying with the cop and playing singsong children’s games. But there’s still a catch in Batty’s words, slight pauses scattered in unusual places. Seeing that Deckard has killed his replicant lover, Pris (Daryl Hannah), Batty offers, “I thought you were good. Aren’t you the … good man?” The awkwardness of the words, combined with the pause before “good man” seems to question the film’s very moral universe…

(16) X MARKS THE PLOT. ScreenRant fires up another Pitch Meeting – this one for Dark Phoenix.

The X-Men franchise has been running for nearly two decades, and it all culminates with Dark Phoenix, a storyline that the movies already covered in 2006. Once again, Jean Grey goes absolutely bonkers with power, but this time Wolverine isn’t around to stab her. The movie has a pretty awful score on Rotten Tomatoes and definitely raises a lot of questions. Like what’s the deal with the aliens, are they bulletproof or not? Why was Quicksilver dismissed from the movie so quickly? What was up with that Phoenix moment in X-Men Apocalypse? Why do these movies keep jumping forward a decade each time? Is Magneto supposed to be 62 years old, and if so, why is a 42-year-old with no make-up playing him? Why did they show Mystique dying in the trailer?

[Thanks to Jerry Kaufman, Juliette Wade, John Hertz, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, mlex, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Pixel Scroll 6/8/17 The Pixel Who Circumnavigated Filerland In A Scroll Of Her Own Making

(1) BUM OF THE MONTH CLUB. The time is ripe for “The Official Pornokitsch Taxonomy of Villains”.

So we’ve been at this Villain of the Month thing for a while now — since August 2016, to be precise — and by this point we’ve accumulated an interesting roster of villains….

First up, we have the True Believer (the Operative, Dolores Umbridge). True Believers have a cause to which they are faithfully devoted. That’s not to say they lack other ambitions — wealth, for example, or glory — but those take a back seat to one all-important ideological goal. For the Operative, that goal is creating “a world without sin”. For Umbridge, it’s a fascist regime ruled by the Ministry of Magic. Villains who obsequiously serve a Dark Lord (e.g. Bellatrix Lestrange) or fight to preserve the existing order (e.g. Agent Smith) would also fall into this category. For me, the most interesting True Believers are those fighting for a cause the audience could nominally get behind (e.g. the aforementioned world without sin), but whose methods are beyond the pale….

(2) MISSING THE APOCALYPSE. “Yeah, why DON’T authors deal with climate change??? <rolleyes>,” wrote JJ after seeing Tobias Buckell, Daniel Abraham and some other sff authors on Twitter get a little peeved because Publishers Weekly touted an article by Siddhartha Deb in The Baffler that said only nonfiction writers seemed to be dealing with it.

Such are the absurdities of the fossil-fuel lifestyle we are locked into globally, folly piling upon folly, the latest among them the decision by the United States to pull out of a Paris Climate Agreement that itself is like a band-aid applied to an earthquake. (Its target is to limit the global rise in temperature to between 1.5 and 2 degrees centigrade but, since it comes into effect only in 2020, it is seen by many critics as putting such a target beyond reach.) Yet in spite of all the evidence of the destruction visited upon the world by our resource-heavy appetites, accompanied by a gnawing recognition that something is fundamentally wrong in our relationship with the Earth and in the way we live, and all the cumulative knowledge about climate change and the irreplicable characteristics of an era that some have named the Anthropocene, the end result is still a kind of imaginative fatigue.

This makes itself evident in the paucity of fiction devoted to the carbon economy, something the Brooklyn-based Indian writer Amitav Ghosh addresses in his marvelous recent book, The Great Derangement, writing, “When the subject of climate change occurs . . . it is almost always in relation to nonfiction; novels and short stories are very rarely to be glimpsed within this horizon.”

(3) FAUX POP CULTURE. The Book Smugglers reminds all that Yoon Ha Lee’s Raven Stratagem comes out next week with this guest post from the author, “You Were Watching What on TV, Cheris?”

One of the most entertaining things I’ve gotten to do in the background worldbuilding for the hexarchate is its popular culture. For example, in Ninefox Gambit, my heroine Cheris spends her free time watching crackalicious TV shows (“dramas”). In Raven Stratagem, one of the Kel recalls a classmate who used to read trashy adventures involving “dungeon-crawling” in the bowels of the campus. And it also reveals that Jedao’s mom used to like reading equally trashy sci-fi novels involving survivalists and tentacled monsters from outer space. Just because she’s a science fantasy character doesn’t mean she can’t like sci-fi, right?

(4) INDIGENOUS VOICES. Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Robin Parker have succeeded in creating the Emerging Indigenous Voices Awards, which is now hosted by the Indigenous Literary Studies Association. And the ILSA has announced the award judges. (No excerpt, because the news item is one big image file — not text!) ILSA has set a funding target of $150,000 to”make the award sustainable for many years to come.” As of this writing, the Indiegogo appeal has raised $109,298 (Canadian). [H/T to Earl Grey Editing.]

(5) TIPTREE FELLOWSHIP REPORTS. The two 2016 Tiptree Fellowship winners have reported on how their work has been facilitated by the fellowships. [H/T to Earl Grey Editing.]

First on Porpentine Charity Heartscape’s list:

Here’s what I’ve been up to since I got the Tiptree fellowship. I made Miniskirt World Network: Business Slut Online, a video/music hypertext about a femme vaporwave world where fashion is a basic computer peripheral. I wanted to evoke the contradictory tensions of feminine-coded clothing and the weird emotional textures that come with it.

Mia Sereno (Likhain) explains:

I cannot separate my being Filipino, of the Philippines, from my being a woman; they are inextricably intertwined. Thanks to the Tiptree Fellowship I was able to examine this intertwining more closely through my art. Life has not been easy this past year and between trying to keep my household afloat and taking care of my own health, I’ve had less time than I would have liked to work on my art series built around the concept of Filipinas as monsters, monstrosity reclaimed and embraced. Still, I’d like to share with you some work-in-progress pencils and concept sketches featuring both high fantasy settings and the supernatural as the second skin of our everyday.

(6) THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND. The Wombat Conservancy, Winery, and Writer’s Retreat — a hilarious conversation on Twitter.

To reach the beginning, JJ advises, “You have to keep scrolling up until you get to the top (land for sale listings).”

(7) RARE POWER. ScreenRant tells you what they think is the “Wonder Woman Movie’s Most Important Scene”. But I will excerpt a less spoilery part of the article.

By now most superhero fans with an eye for gender representation will have noticed a discrepancy between males and females with superpowers in comic movies, fantasy, science fiction, etc., etc.. Where the men either immediately or eventually see their superpowers as a gift, and the testing and mastery of the powers as a thrilling ‘coming of age’ story (or montage), women face a different road ahead. Often, the surfacing of a latent or new superpower is treated as an illness: something to hide, remove, control, or at the very least suspect as a problem to be solved (no matter how cool those superpowers may be). For every ‘Professor X’ there is a Jean Grey, for every Flash there is a Killer Frost, for every super-fast Quicksilver, there is a mentally-traumatized Scarlet ‘Witch.’

It’s a gender difference that means men will typically exert power by hitting things, while women are given powers rendering them unpredictable, mentally unstable, or simply tied to forces from an ‘unknown, mystical, potentially harmful’ source. But with Wonder Woman, Diana’s discovery of her ability to punch straight through stone is treated as the world-altering, empowering, and thrilling gift the viewers would take it to be. After smashing her hand through the stone in a frantic fall, Diana deduces that she is stronger than any Amazon before her

(8) NEBULA SHOWCASE. Don’t forget the Nebula Awards Showcase 2017 edited by Julie Czerneda.

The Nebula Awards Showcase volumes have been published annually since 1966, reprinting the winning and nominated stories of the Nebula Awards, voted on by the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). This year’s editor, selected by SFWA’s anthology Committee (chaired by Mike Resnick), is Canadian science fiction and fantasy writer and editor Julie Czerneda. This year’s Nebula Award winners are Naomi Novik, Nnedi Okorafor, Sarah Pinsker, and Alyssa Wong, with Fran Wilde winning the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Book. Also included in this volume are works by N. K. Jemisin and Ann Leckie.

(9) ON THE ROAD. I laughed.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY REDUX

  • June 8, 1949 — George Orwell published his most significant book, 1984. (You may be pardoned for thinking there’s an echo around here.)
  • June 8, 1984 Ghostbusters is released in theaters across the United States.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • June 8, 1910 — John W. Campbell, Jr

(12) BRYANT MEMORIAL. George R.R. Martin tells about attending the memorial service for Ed Bryant in “Saying Farewell”.

Ed was a talented writer and a great workshopper, who mentored and encouraged many writers younger than himself and helped them on their way. He was one of my Wild Cards authors, creator of Sewer Jack and Wyungare. But most of all he was a sweet, kind man, with a warm smile and a gentle wit. Science fiction and fantasy will be poorer without him. Memorials like this are not for the deceased so much as they are for those left behind, I believe. It was good to get together with so many others who cared about Ed, and to share our memories of him, with laughter and love.

(13) TURNABOUT. Queen Idia’s Africa: Ten Short Stories by Cordelia Salter was released May 11.

Africa is rich and the West is poor. That’s the setting for Queen Idia’s Africa: Ten Short Stories by Cordelia Salter with a foreword by Zeinab Badawi.

This is a world where slavery and colonialism never happened and Africa is the rich global superpower.

The West is mired in poverty, politically unstable and relies on aid from Africa. Zeinab Badawi, Chair of the Royal African Society, points out in the foreword that the stories make us think what things could have been like if the boot had been on the other foot.

What would Africa do about swarms of illegal European migrants trying to get to Africa in search of a better life? How would Africa respond to droughts, famines and rebel warfare in North America? Could there have been apartheid the other way round?

(14) SHE, THE JURY. Naomi Alderman, whose sf novel The Power just won the Baileys Prize for Women’s Fiction, has been added to the jury for the The Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize.

Alderman will be one of five judges, chaired by award-winning writer and television presenter, palaeontologist and Royal Society Fellow, Richard Fortey. They are joined by: writer and presenter of BBC Radio 4’s All in the Mind, Claudia Hammond, Channel 4’s Topical Specialist Factual Commissioner, Shaminder Nahal and former Royal Society University Research Fellow, Sam Gilbert.

The Prize has worked with many eminent judges over its illustrious 30-year history, among them Ian McEwan, Sarah Waters, Terry Pratchett, David Attenborough, Tracy Chevalier and Michael Frayn.

The Prize celebrates outstanding popular science books from around the world and is open to authors of science books written for a non-specialist audience. Over the decades, it has championed writers such as Stephen Hawking, Jared Diamond, Stephen Jay Gould and Bill Bryson.

Naomi Alderman commented: “It’s a terrible shame that arts and sciences are so often seen as mutually opposed, and that there’s so little understanding of what makes great work in ‘the other’ culture. So many of the most urgent problems that face us today can only be solved by thinking in an interdisciplinary way. That’s why I’m particularly thrilled to be a judge of this Prize, where we’ll be looking both for great science and excellent writing and storytelling. There’s no reason that a science book can’t be a bloody good read, and I can’t wait to get stuck in, and to discuss the best new science writing with the other judges.”

(15) ILLEGAL ESPIONAGE. In Section 31: Control, frequent Star Trek novelist David Mack takes on Starfleet’s secretive, rogue agency. Dr. Bashir, as he was in Deep Space Nine episodes involving Section 31, is the chief protagonist.

No law…no conscience…no mercy. Amoral, shrouded in secrecy, and answering to no one, Section 31 is the mysterious covert operations division of Starfleet, a rogue shadow group pledged to defend the Federation at any cost.

The discovery of a two-hundred-year-old secret gives Doctor Julian Bashir his best chance yet to expose and destroy the illegal spy organization. But his foes won’t go down without a fight, and his mission to protect the Federation he loves just end up triggering its destruction.

Only one thing is for certain: this time, the price of victory will be paid with Bashir’s dearest blood.

(16) TOASTY. A “heat battery” in use in real world: “From hand-warmer to house-warmer for tech firm”.

It took a creative leap to take the idea further: could you scale up the phase change process so a hand-warmer became a house-warmer?

Several big corporations – over several decades – tried to make it happen but each time the research petered out.

Now an East Lothian company with fewer than 30 employees has succeeded.

The equipment Sunamp have developed at their base in Macmerry has already been installed in 650 Scottish homes, providing heat and hot water for about half the cost of gas.

(17) HAWKING MEDAL. Space.com reports “Neil deGrasse Tyson Becomes 1st American to Receive Stephen Hawking Medal”.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson received the Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication Tuesday (June 6), becoming the first American scientist to earn the prestigious award.

Tyson, who refers to himself as “your personal astrophysicist,” is most known for his television series “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” and podcast-turned-television-series “StarTalk.” He is the director for the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History here in New York City, where Tuesday’s announcement was made.

The Stephen Hawking Medal is an annual award created in association with the Starmus Festival, an international gathering celebrating science and art that will take place in Trondheim, Norway, on June 18-23 this year. Medals are given to science communicators in three categories: writers, musicians and artists, and people in the film and entertainment industry. Hawking, a famous theoretical physicist and author of several best-selling books about the universe, handpicks the recipients himself. [The Most Famous Astronomers of All Time]

(18) WHEN MEN WERE MEN AND DINOS WERE FROGS. Looking for a Father’s Day present? How about this “ORIGINAL JURASSIC PARK Screenplay SPECIAL Copy”, asking price (reduced 30%!) now $2,450 on eBay.

[JURASSIC PARK – THE FILM]. CRICHTON, MICHAEL, DAVID KOEPP. Original Limited and Numbered Confidential Shooting Script for the Film ‘Jurassic Park’ by David Koep. Based on the Novel by Michael Crichton and on Adaptations by Michael Crichton and Malia Scotch Marmo. Los Angeles: Amblin Entertainment, 1992. Original limited and numbered copy of a 126 page shooting script with color rewrite pages for the film ‘Jurassic Park’ by David Koep, based on the novel by Michael Crichton and on adaptations by Michael Crichton and Malia Scotch Marmo. A special printed page at the beginning reads: “HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL – You are a part of a very limited distribution. This numbered copy of JURASSIC PARK has been assigned to you and is for your eyes only.” next to which “JP” and “64” are stamped in red and throughout the script. This copy belonged to the film’s safety coordinator

(19) MARKET OVERVIEW. David Steffen’s “SFWA Market Report for June” at the SFWA Blog includes these opening markets.

OPENING MARKETS

(20) NOT THAT ANYONE WOULD REMEMBER. Chris Chan continues his Orwellian remaking of recent fanhistory in “‘No Award’: The Hugo Awards, Sad Puppies, and Sci-Fi/Fantasy Literature — Part Two: A Short History of the Sad Puppies at the Hugos” at Nerd HQ.

The results of the 2015 experiment were dramatic and explosive. The recommendations of the Sad Puppies (and also those put forward by the Rabid Puppies) dominated the 2015 Hugo Nominations. John C. Wright received five nominations in three categories (he initially was awarded a sixth slot, but one was revoked on a technicality). The Hugo nominee list changed over the coming weeks. Aside from the aforementioned instance, some nominees chose to decline their nomination (Hugo nominees have this option and can decline for any reason they like — some original nominees did not approve of the Sad or Rabid Puppies and did not wish to have any connection with them, and others objected that they believed that the voting process was being corrupted), and the slots were then filled by the runners-up. Incidentally, Correia’s Monster Hunter Nemesis received enough votes to qualify for a Best Novel nomination, but he turned down the nod to make the point that Sad Puppies was not being organized in order to receive honors for himself.

And yet that’s exactly why Correia started down this road — see the first post in 2013, “How to get Correia nominated for a Hugo. :)”, and the follow-up post that initiated the Sad Puppies theme, “How to get Correia nominated for a Hugo PART 2: A VERY SPECIAL MESSAGE”. There was really nothing noble about it, in the beginning or later.

(21) THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF PEOPLE. Jon Del Arroz, after studying the wildlife in its native habitat, offers his “Behavioral Observations In Science Fiction”.

There’s two groups, the old guard burnout mentality, and the new indie pulp revolution. There’s a bit of a line up along political lines, but not as much as you’d expect, and in fact, that’s used as an excuse a lot of the time to poo poo the new. This is the state of science fiction today. I’ve talked about it briefly before, but here’s a broader look at the experiences I’ve had after engaging with both.

Old Guard

You walk into social media, or a group, or a convention of what I called the “old guard”, they’e hesitant. They’re the type to complain that they’re introverts, having to recharge after social interactions (which is fine to be, but knowing that — why complain so often?). A new person is immediately greeted with a stand-offish attitude, like they have to vet you to make sure you’re “really one of them” or that you have to pay your dues to prove yourself somehow. They’re hyper-political. If you look at their social media posts, 70-90% of them are endless shrieking about politics they don’t like. They keep talking about how they’re too busy for anyone or anything — including the next generation of fans and writers. And this is all before they know that you’re on the “wrongthink” side of politics.

(22) WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM. The Coode Street Podcast will take a couple of breaks this year. The announcement provoked this hilarious exchange.

(23) ALTERNATE REALITY HUMOR. It might be too late for this to be funny — Loki Runs For President, a video from last November. (Was it funny then? It’s basically somebody talking a mile a minute over scans of a comic book.)

(24) APE CLIP. Two minutes of War for the Planet of the Apes about “Meeting Nova.”

She is the future. Meet Nova in the first clip from #WarForThePlanet and be the first to #WitnessTheEnd on Monday, June 19

 

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Earl Grey Editing, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor the day Oneiros.]

Pixel Scroll 10/17/16 Scrolls From Topographic Pixels

(1) TAKE NO PRISONERS OF ZENDA. Ian Sales’ title “When I read a story I skip the explanations” introduces an extremely skillful dissection of a certain approach to science fictional worldbuilding that Sales compares to Ruritanian romance.

That’s the essence of Ruritanian science fiction. It is genre fiction which builds an invented setting out of elements which might as well not be invented. The labels are different but the objects are the same, or fulfil the same function. It’s not a failure of imagination, because imagination doesn’t feature in the process. And it’s only a failure of craft if the author is attempting something more than Ruritanian sf. If all they want is a science-fictional setting the reader can parse, one that’s uncoupled from the real world but close enough to it that few explanations are required, then if they’ve produced Ruritanian sf they’ve succeeded. Info-dumps are a given, but they’re usually “historical”, inasmuch as they attempt to give the invented world solidity and depth through exposition – but shifting the burden of exposition onto the setting’s own narrative only demonstrates how little exposition the tropes in the story actually need.

Needless to say, I think such forms of science fiction are low on invention and make poor use of the tools at the genre’s disposal. They can be entertaining, there’s no doubt about that; but their uncritical use of tropes, and their failure to interrogate the form, means they have little or nothing to add to the genre conversation.

(2) KEEP TRACK OF YOUR SPOONS. Andrea seeks the reasons she’s not writing more reviews in “Anger, Anxiety, and Art” at the Little Red Reviewer.

I know what I write on this blog doesn’t matter. I know none of this counts as “writing” or as anything, really.  But in my mind, I put a lot of energy into this.  I like pretty metaphors, ornamented sentences. I like to write book reviews and other articles that I am proud of.  It’s not art, by a long shot, but I am creating something out of nothing. for the purposes of this particular blog post, let’s call what I do here art.  And art requires mental energy. or at least it does for me.

So, where were all my spoons going?  And was there any way to get them back? And thus, we get to the why.

(3) ONE MORE THAN FIVE. Nerds of a Feather has the perfect pairing of feature concept with an interesting author: “6 Books with Julie Czerneda”.

  1. What upcoming book you are really excited about? The next one Ben Aaronovitch writes in his Rivers of London series. Our travelling offspring lent me the existing books and I gobbled them up, despite trying to ration myself. They are fun, original, and yes, feel a bit Pratchett (wistful sigh) in the best way. Can’t wait to dive back in!

(4) VANISHING POINT. Camestros Felapton is keeping an eye on the internet’s newest knowledge source: “Voxopedia: where information about women goes to be erased”.

The erasure of women’s achievements in science is a known phenomenon, but it is rare that you get to see it happen in such a simple and direct way. Over at our new favourite train-wreck, Vox Day had been busy quite literally erasing women’s contribution to science….

(5)  A MONTH WITH NO FIVES. Rocket Stack Rank’s ”October 2016 Ratings” covers 51 stories, but none of them warranted the highest score of 5, which means ‘Hugo worthy.”

(6) BINARY CHOICE. Matthew B.J. Delaney says characters count in “Characters or Plot, Which Is More Important?” at Fantasy Book Critic.

The 5 highest grossing films of all time are heavy plot, light character:
Avatar 
– Titanic 
– Star Wars: The Force Awakens 
– Jurassic World 
– The Avengers.

These are all entertaining movies dominated by things happening. The characters are interchangeable pieces to throw explosions or dinosaurs, or sinking ships at. They don’t really matter. People don’t walk around reciting quotes from any of these films, because characters are made memorable by the things they say. And there are no truly memorable characters in any of these movies.

Memorable scenes, yes, memorable quotes, no.

On the other hand, character movies are filled with amazing lines.

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.

Here’s looking at you kid.

These are the kind of things that characters who really blow your hair back say. The cool comebacks and one liners you wish you could have used on anyone who pushed you around or made you fall in love. These are character driven quotes, and the top IMDB highest rated films of all time are filled with them…

(7) NO FEAR. I would need to excerpt about eight paragraphs of Ann Leckie’s “On Blacklisting” to convey how many aspects of this topic she deals with. That’s why you should just click through and read it, eh?

I’ll be honest, I am not down for calls to close anyone out of the field for bad behavior. I mean, for myself, bad enough, or bad in specific ways, and yeah, I don’t want to work with you. Maybe quite a few people don’t. But it’s not my call to make for anyone but me, nor should it be. No one should have that power, to shut anyone out of SFF. Behave badly enough and quite a few editors will prefer not to work with you–but that’s not the same as a field-wide blacklist, and I don’t think there should be one. Ever. Each editor gets to make the call for their venue, end of story. And yes, there will be editors who are all about the purity of art apart from artist, editors who don’t care one way or the other about kittens. You may disagree with those editors’ decisions, but they get to make that choice. You may prefer on balance not to work with such editors–again, that’s your call. You choose where to submit, and you get to have whatever reasons you want for that choice.

I am down for being open about serious problems, though. Someone who’s a really bad actor, who’s strewn destruction in their wake? Yeah, let’s know about that. We can all make our decisions about how to react to that, going forward. Concealing things to whisper networks and private chats just lets the bad actor continue to harm the unwarned.

(8) BELLY UP. This weekend Utah regional publisher Jolly Fish Press announced they are going out of business.

Our Journey Has Come to a Close

It is with deep sadness that we are announcing the closing of Jolly Fish Press (JFP). For nearly five years, JFP has been a beacon of inspiration to many in the publishing industry; we’ve opened up doors to authors, editors, designers, publicists, and illustrators alike, providing them with a platform on which their dreams of establishing themselves in the industry could be realized….

After a long process of seeking investors who believe in our company and what we aim to achieve, we have, unfortunately, failed to secure the funds necessary to grow and move the company forward. While JFP has great propensity to becoming a serious competitor in the industry, the lack of financial investment prohibits us from reaching our potential. We have approached the point where we can no longer sustain our business.

JFP is ceasing business effective October 31, 2016. All rights to our titles will be reverted by October 31, 2016. Book production will stop effective immediately.

JFP’s authors included Johnny Worthen and Jenniffer Wardell.

(9) STUART OBIT. TheRecord.com profiled the late Ruth Ann Stuart (1964-2016), who died of brain cancer on August 12, in “Lifetimes: By day an insurance worker, by night a fantasy fiction writer”.

Ruth Stuart worked in insurance, the past 10 years as quality assurance auditor for Manulife Financial. Her job required a no-nonsense approach in the anything but lighthearted world of insurance. By night, Ruth cast off her serious side and delved into the world of fantasy writing as an author, mentor, editor and inspiration to everyone in the speculative fiction community. She even dabbled in writing eroticism according to her friend and editor, Julie Czerneda.

These were two very different sides to a woman who had so many friends that while in hospital suffering through the final stages of brain cancer, Ruth’s room was constantly jammed packed with visitors, not to mention the steady stream of phone calls and text messages. Nurses suggested they install a revolving door in her room.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born October 17, 1948  — Margot Kidder

(11) APPLYING CODES OF CONDUCT AT CONS. Alexandra Erin suggests where to strike the balance, in “Priorities: Justice vs. Safety in Convention Culture”.

One comment I made in one of my recent posts that has attracted a certain amount of skepticism was my endorsement of a con culture that focuses on safety rather than justice in conflict resolutions. “How can you have safety without justice?” is one typical response. “So justice is a bad thing now?” is another.

Well, justice is most assuredly not a bad thing.

But justice in the sense of criminal justice or what we might call retributive justice is not the most pressing concern of a convention’s code of conduct, nor should it be the focus of a convention’s safety or security team.

Let me put it to you this way: how many comic, literary, or media conventions have you been to or heard of, that you would trust with the weighty responsibility of meting out justice? How many of them do you think have the people, expertise, or time and resources to serve out justice in a meaningful sense?

(12) BURTON BEFORE BEETHOVEN. The Los Angeles Times says symphony-goers have something to look forward to: “’A Freak in Burbank’: Alex Theater Concert to Feature Composer’s Paean to Tim Burton”.

The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and guest conductor Thomas Dausgaard are looking to start off an upcoming concert on a more eccentric note.

One of Beethoven’s most celebrated works, Symphony No. 3, “Eroica,” will be the headlining piece at the chamber’s concert at the Alex Theatre in Glendale on Oct. 29. However, the night will open with a roughly 10-minute work called “A Freak in Burbank,” a composition making its West Coast debut and dedicated to the legendary and eccentric filmmaker Tim Burton.

(13) SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT. Crooked Timber recommends “A Science Fiction Tasting Menu For The As Yet Uninitiated”.

Hors d’oeuvre—short stories available for free or cheap download

If you don’t like any of these, you won’t appreciate anything that follows

E.M. Forster, The Machine Stops – Dystopia perfectly imagined, in 1909.

William Tenn, The Liberation of Earth – All you need know about war

James Blish, Surface Tension – What imagination can do

Frederik Pohl, The tunnel under the world – Life inside Facebook

(14) TREEHOUSE OF HORROR. A.V. Club got an advance peek — The Simpson’s evil scheme to reach 600 episodes lands in the Treehouse of Horror”.

The promotional materials, including the usually amusing snarky screener announcement sent to critics (or “critics” as such people are called within), hyped the return of still-hotly-debated Homer nemesis Frank Grimes, or at least the poor guy’s ghost. And the opening segment sees the Simpsons in costume, buying Christmas trees on Halloween, as Homer says, “Because in America, everything’s way too early.” (He’s wearing an “Ivanka 2028” campaign button, because nothing matters in America at this point.) There, they’re confronted not only by the ghost of Grimes (“Who?,” asks Homer, to the ghostly Grimes’ chagrin), Sideshow Bob, Kang (or Kodos), and that leprechaun who tells Ralph to burn things, who proclaim themselves the family’s four evil nemeses before being immediately slaughtered by Maggie. (What looked like her Chaplin costume turns out to be her old Alex DeLarge costume, complete with sword cane.) Adios, Frank Grimes—you were used for a throwaway gag, as is your destiny.

The pieces that follow all partake of the same strengths and weaknesses.

(15) GORMAN OBIT. Todd Mason wrote an appreciation of the late writer, “Ed Gorman (1941-2016)”, who died October 14.

The first fanzine I read was an issue of Science Fiction Review, a magazine edited and published by the late Richard (Dick) Geis, and that issue included among much else a bit of autobiography by Algis Budrys, a fiction-writer, editor and critic who has had rather a large influence on me; along with that essay, an interview, conducted by an impressed fan of his (and of other contributors to the literary legacy of the Fawcett Gold Medal paperback line), Edward Gorman. So that’s how I was introduced to Ed, in 1978.

Like Budrys, or Geis, only perhaps even more so, Ed went ahead and did things that he clearly thought needed doing, not only establishing himself as a freelance writer, but launching the magazine Mystery Scene and engaged in the launch of the book-publishing house, Five Star, which have both done notable service to the field of crime fiction and beyond. He co-edited two (or, arguably, three) best crime fiction of the year annual series, and wrote well and often brilliantly in at least the fields of crime fiction, fantastic fiction (particularly horror), western fiction, and historical fiction. His editorial work has been impressive, beyond the magazine and annuals, often assembling key anthologies of crime fiction and more, not least with The Black Lizard Anthology of Crime Fiction and The Second Black Lizard Anthology of Crime Fiction, and such notable compilations as the nonfiction collection The Big Book of Noir and the interview collections Speaking of Murder and Speaking of Murder 2. 

(16) DO WE BLAME ASIMOV? In a video at Business Insider, “Neil deGrasse Tyson explains why killer robots don’t scare him”.

Movies would have you believe that killer robots  are the inevitable future of technology gone awry — but Neil deGrasse Tyson isn’t afraid, here’s why.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Bonnie McDaniel, Mackenzie, Martin Morse Wooster, James Davis Nicoll, and Dave Doering for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Jim Henley and Simon Bisson.]

Who’s Coming to Anticipation?

Anticipation lists the names of program participants in a new press release that follows the jump.

A prestigious addition is 2008 Nobel Laureate in Economics Professor Paul Krugman of the Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University and centenary professor at the London School of Economics:

He has credited Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” novels with inspiring him to choose his field, and will be speaking about his experiences in a program item entitled “From SF Reader to Economist.” He will also have a conversation with Charles Stross, author of the Hugo nominated novel Saturn’s Children.

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