Pixel Scroll 8/25/19 Pixel, Pixel, Scrolling Bright, In The Files Of The Night

(1) WORLDCON PHOTOS. Simon Bubb, part of Dublin 2019’s staff photography team, has posted albums of his photos from the Worldcon at Facebook. Beautiful photos. So many good memories for those who participated.

Worldcon Dublin 2019 – Wednesday 14th August

Worldcon 2019 – Thursday

Worldcon 2019 – Day 2 (Friday)

Worldcon – Saturday

Worldcon 2019 – Sunday

Worldcon 2019 – Hugos

Worldcon 2019 – Monday & Closing

(2) DINO SQUIRREL REVIVAL. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This week’s episode of Stranger than Sci-Fi on Beeb Beeb Ceeb Radio 4 was the penultimate episode. Next week is the final in the series and is on telekinesis.

Alice Fraser and Jen Gupta.

The latest episode, “Jurassic Park” (available for a month), looked at de-extinction. Crichton not only read up on the science, he was so taken with one paper that hypothesized possibly near-future DNA technology that he went to visit the researchers.  And the rest is history.

The programme pointed to the limits of de-extinction but did say that we could digitize DNA of current endangered species and bring them back if we had to.

Astro-physicist Jen Gupta and comedian Alice Fraser travel the parallel worlds of science and sci-fi.

Starting with the latest books and films, they discover real life science that sounds too strange to be true – from babies grown in bags, via black hole Jacuzzis, to flowers that behave like our ears.

In this episode, they tackle the question everyone wants to know the answer to – can we bring the dinosaurs back to life? They talk to the journalist Britt Wray about the surprising origin story for the book Jurassic Park. Then they dive into the world of de-extinction research and find out why there is a group of scientists who focus all their time on reviving extinct species.

They ask if we might soon see woolly mammoths roaming the Siberian steppe once again. What are the potential pitfalls of resurrecting the dead?

(3) UPDATED 2018 BESTS. Eric Wong of Rocket Stack Rank sends the link to RSR’s 2018 Best SF/F list with the scores updated and Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2019 stories highlighted (all 20 in TOC + 33 notable stories that scored 2 or more) with links to stories that are free online.

(4) AN AUTHOR’S PICK. Silvia Moreno-Garcia tells NPR that “In ‘Automatic Eve,’ Steampunk Meets ‘Blade Runner’ — In Japan”. A publisher’s last gasp is a winner.

I’m going to give you the Hollywood elevator pitch in order to secure your attention: This is a Japanese steampunk novel for fans of Blade Runner. Do I have your attention now? Good. Because we’re going to flash back in time to 2009, when Haikasoru popped into the world.

…Unfortunately, Haikasoru didn’t quite catch the imagination of the public in the United States. Its biggest hit was probably All You Need is Kill, adapted into the Tom Cruise vehicle Edge of Tomorrow, but otherwise it sadly went on being ignored by most of the speculative fiction fans, while ironically producing the stuff fans say they hunger for.

…But the first incarnation of the imprint has one last, lyrical swan song before it drifts to sleep: Automatic Eve, a mosaic novel.

I like mosaic novels thanks to having read Clifford D. Simak’s City as a teenager. Some people despise them, the break with non-linearity, the short episodes building up to something more, frustrate certain readers. But even if you don’t exactly fancy that format, Rokuro Inui’s Automatic Eve, translated by Matt Treyvaud, works well. Characters, situations and plot points reoccur during the course of the book, so that you are left with a feeling of coherence rather than of stories thinly strung together, which can be the issue that turns readers away from mosaic novels in the first place – and sometimes earns them the pejorative term of “fix-ups.”

Much of the wonder of the book derives from its setting and mechanics. In a steampunk Japan where artisans can produce automatons that perfectly mimic humans and animals, an intricate web of deceit and secrets has been laid down. At the center of this web sits the beautiful, mysterious Eve and her father, an inventor with ties to both the shogunate and the ruling imperial house, which are locked in a battle for power.

(5) CORRECTION. The participants James Davis Nicoll is recruiting participants for the next phase of Young People Read Old SFF must have been born after 1990. The post still says “1980,” however, he later corrected this in the comments. Uh, never mind!

(6) WHAT A FAN DOES TO A $40K CAR. [Item by Dale Arnold.] Baltimore area fan Miriam Winder Kelly recently bought a brand new Tesla Model 3 for over $40,000.00 and immediately put bumper stickers for  her favorite causes on it. The Baltimore Science Fiction Society, The Red Cross and Middle Earth?  The BSFS bumper sticker is quite old and apparently she saved several from 20 years ago so she could always have one on her car.

By the way the bumper sticker was designed by a committee chaired by the late costuming fan Bobby Gear. (wife of the late multiple Worldcon Masquerade MC Marty Gear) Bobby said when she delivered the design, “I am never helping design anything with a committee again!”

(7) LOOMIS OBIT. Game publisher Rick Loomis of Flying Buffalo Incorporated died August 24, his birthday, after battling cancer. He was 73.  A “Help Gaming Legend Rick Loomis” for his medical expenses had been started just recently.

Rick was one of the founding members of the Game Manufacturing Association and served as its President several times when they needed him. He started Flying Buffalo Games back in 1970 and was one of the first people to ever run a Play-by Mail game on a dedicated computer. He has traveled the world to promote role-playing and card games and over the years Rick has befriended hundreds (thousands!) of people at conventions from his Flying Buffalo Games booth and company.  He published Tunnels & Trolls, the Nuclear War Card Game, Grimtooth’s Traps and so much more…

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • August 25, 1851 George Parsons Lathrop. Noted for co-authoring In the Deep of Time novella with Thomas A. Edison which ran in English Illustrated Magazine on the third of March 1897. (Died 1898.)
  • August 25, 1909 Michael Rennie. Definitely best remembered as Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still. He would show up a few years later on The Lost World as Lord John Roxton, and he’s got an extensive genre series resume which counts Lost in Space as The Keeper in two episodes, The Batman as The Sandman, The Time TunnelThe Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Invaders. (Died 1971.)
  • August 25, 1913 Walt Kelly. If you can get them, Fantagraphics has released Pogo in six stunning hardcover editions covering up to 1960. They’re planning to do all of his strips eventually. Did you know Kelly began his career as animator at Walt Disney Studios, working on DumboPinocchio and Fantasia? (Died 1973.)
  • August 25, 1930 Sean Connery, 89. Worst film? Zardoz. Best film? From Russia with Love. Best SF film? Outland. Or Time Bandits you want go for silly.
  • August 25, 1940 Marilyn Niven, 79. She was a Boston-area fan who lives in LA and is married to writer Larry Niven. She has worked on a variety of conventions, both regionals and Worldcons.  In college, she was a member of the MITSFS and was one of the founding members of NESFA. She’s also a member of Almack’s Society for Heyer Criticism.
  • August 25, 1947 Michael Kaluta, 72. He’s best known for his 1970s take on The Shadow with writer Dennis O’Neil for DC in 1973–1974. He’d reprise his work on The Shadow for Dark Horse a generation later. And Kaluta and O’Neil reunited on The Shadow: 1941 – Hitler’s Astrologer graphic novel published in 1988.
  • August 25, 1955 Simon R. Green, 64. I’ll confess that I’ve read pretty much everything he’s written. Favorite series? The Nightside, Hawk & Fisher and Secret History are my favorite ones with Drinking Midnight Wine the novel I’ve re-read the most. 
  • August 25, 1958 Tim Burton, 61. Beetlejuice is by far my favorite film by him. His Batman is interesting. Read that comment as you will. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is definitely more Dahlish than the first take was, and Sleepy Hollow is just damn weird. 
  • August 25, 1970 Chris Roberson, 49. Brilliant writer. I strongly recommend his Recondito series, Firewalk and Firewalkers. The Spencer Finch series is also worth reading.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lio mourns the loss of a favorite magazine.

(10) HE GAVE US SUPE’S DIGITS. CBR.com wants to know “When Did We Learn the Address of Clark Kent’s Apartment?” Hint: Bill Finger thought it up.

In “When We First Met,” we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, “Avengers Assemble!” or the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that.

Today, based on a suggestion from reader Riccardo N., we look into the first time that Clark Kent’s apartment was given the address of 344 Clinton Street, Apartment 3-D.

Obviously, in the early days, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were not really all that considered about world-building. No one in comics really was. Batman’s set-up was different from issue to issue early on (my favorite is where Bruce Wayne just kept his Batman costume in a chest at the foot of his bed). So when they say Superman is in his apartment, there really was no thought into it beyond “Superman is in his apartment”…

(11) WEBS ON THE WAY. SYFY Wire got this straight from the spider’s mouth: “Tom Holland says his third Spider-Man film has already been pitched, describes it as ‘something very different'”.

During his first-ever visit to Philadelphia at Keystone Comic Con, Tom Holland teased his third live-action Spider-Man film, teasing that it’s already been pitched and will be “something very special and something very different” from what we saw in Homecoming and Far From Home, while having a deep personal connection to the actor’s own life. Moreover, he gave an enthusiastic “of course!” when asked if Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) has a long-term romantic shot with Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). 

Holland also took a moment to tackle the headline-making split between Disney and Sony, which many see as Peter Parker’s removal from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“Uh, it’s been a crazy week,” he said, echoing his statement at D23 Expo yesterday. “The news came as a bit of a shock, but we’ve made five great movies … you guys have made it so special for me and it’s not the end of me playing Spider-Man. There’s definitely more to come … I’m just really excited for everything … It’s only gonna get bigger and better … It’s pretty crazy.”

(12) COINING A WORD. John M. Jordan, in “The Czech Play That Gave Us the Word ‘Robot’” on the MIT Press website reminds us that, although we might know that Karel Capek coined the term “robot” most people don’t know the plot of Capek’s play R.U.R. or know that robota is Czech for “forced labor.”  The post is an excerpt from Jordan’s MIT Press book Robots.

The contrast between robots as mechanical slaves and potentially rebellious destroyers of their human makers echoes Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” and helps set the tone for later Western characterizations of robots as slaves straining against their lot, ready to burst out of control. The duality echoes throughout the twentieth century: Terminator, HAL 9000, Blade Runner’s replicants.

The character Helena in “R.U.R.” is sympathetic, wanting the robots to have freedom. Radius is the robot that understands his station and chafes at the idiocy of his makers, having acted out his frustrations by smashing statues.

(13) CASTALIA’S BUSINESS PLAN. Vox Day addresses the retrenchment at Castalia House in “A change to the Caligan campaign” [Internet Archive link.]

In light of the changes in the ebook market and our retreat from the Kindle Unlimited space, we’ve been making some strategic changes at Arkhaven and Castalia House. Now that we’ve successfully entered the video space, we’re concentrating our efforts on our strongest fiction and non-fiction properties, primarily because we don’t have the bandwidth to devote to everything.

This is why we’ve returned the publishing rights to their books to a number of our authors, although we continue to support them and their self-publishing efforts, and why we have methodically reduced the number of books that we are publishing. Our sales remain strong, which tends to indicate that our revised approach is a viable one.

Day responded to a complaint in comments:

It’s not a democracy. And given some of the lessons we’ve learned, we are no longer going to push IP that we do not control into other media.

Publishers are in a trap of sorts. If a book doesn’t sell well, the author thinks he should have self-published. If the book sells really well, the author thinks he should have self-published.

And in another comment he said:

I was told a lot of things that didn’t come to pass too. So I am not going to accept being held accountable for things that were entirely contingent upon other’s responsibilities.

If you want a refund, we’ll give you one. You have that option. But I’m not going to waste my time or the backers’ resources on projects that should not have been done in the first place. We all meant well, but the foundation was not solid.

We are going to be in the red on this no matter what due to the need to produce 18 comics. So I want to make sure at least some of them will sell well enough to give us a shot at breaking even on it.

(14) WHO STAYS, WHO GOES. Camestros Felapton identifies the affected creators in “Day confirms the Castalia retreat”.

…So what does Day mean be ‘our strongest fiction and non-fiction properties’. There are some clues.

  • We know John C Wright has at least partially been dropped or moved on.
  • We know that the core of this announcement was shifting what comic would be provided to people who had pledged to a crowd funding campaign. Day is shifting from a story by Rolf Nelson to an adaptation of one of his own books.
  • In a comment Day says: “And given some of the lessons we’ve learned, we are no longer going to push IP that we do not control into other media.” What IP does Day control? What he writes himself.

The problem with being a publishing house is you have to deal with two groups of people best avoided in business: writers and readers. Castalia’s business model also includes a third: Amazon. It sounds like Day has problems with all three….

(15) YES BUGS M’LADY. NPR’s “Nailed It: Bringing Science Into Nail Art” shows photos of parasites and other things you never expected to find on fingernails.

Of all the things I love about being a girl, I love doing nail art the most. But I’m also a scientist, and scientists aren’t usually associated with perfectly manicured nails. Nail art became my way of debunking some common stereotypes, including those that associate scientists with being cold or unapproachable.

I got into nail art four years ago after a friend of mine bought a beginner nail art kit. It contained one metal plate with various nail-sized designs etched on the surface – animals, flowers, food – along with nail polish, a scraper and a silicone stamper.

…At the time, I was working as a research scientist studying Alzheimer’s disease at Cornell University, where I was looking for ways to get lay people interested in science. On Instagram, I found some science communicators using drawings or video to explain concepts like how stem cells help heal wounds.

Then I had an epiphany! None of these science communicators were using nail art as a platform. And none of the nail artists I followed were doing scientific designs.

I had been blogging about science for a while, but I wanted to try something new. So on October 10, 2018, I started an Instagram account (@nailsciart) where I’d use nail art to reach a very specific demographic: teenage girls. I wanted to show them the fun side of science through an art form many of them could find appealing — and that it’s possible to have polished nails and work on cool science.

[Thanks to Simon Bubb, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Dale Arnold, Eric Wong, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, BravoLimaPoppa, Danny SIchel, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Pixel Scroll 11/15/16 The Manhunt Extended Across More Than One Hundred Pixels And Eight Box Tick Scrolls

(1) NAMING CALLS. Katie Rask announced that the YA Award Survey has had over 1,200 entries so far.

(2) THE SHIRT OFF YOUR BACK. The gift-giving season approaches, so it’s time to pay another visit to the Litographs store, where you can pick up something from The Princess Bride movie, or Daniel Jose Older’s Shadowshaper, or quite a few other genre authors from Diana Gabaldon and Ellen Kushner to Kurt Vonnegut and H. P. Lovecraft.

princess-bride-t-shirtdaniel-jose-older-t-shirt

(3) LINGUISTICS IN SF. Rowan Hooper’s piece for New Scientist looks at the use of linguistics in Arrival to give a survey of how sf films have treated linguistics, with references to Contact and Interstellar — “The science behind the twisting alien linguistics of Arrival.

Science fiction thrillers usually send in gun-toting heroes like Will Smith or Tom Cruise to kick invading alien butt. Arrival is completely, wonderfully different: it sends in a linguist, played by Amy Adams.

“Language,” one character says, “is the first weapon drawn in a conflict.” The big question to ask the aliens: what is their purpose on Earth?

In Contact, the aliens used prime numbers as a Rosetta stone that could be used to decrypt their communication; in Close Encounters of the Third Kind they helpfully used five musical tones in a major scale, presumably because vibrating strings have the same harmonics in other parts of our galaxy.

(4) MR. SCI-FI NEEDS SPACE. Storage space, that is — anybody want to store a spaceship?

Writer-Director-Producer Marc Zicree needs your help! Part of the hero set of Space Command (half the floor) needs a free home! (The rest is in storage). He’s been working to get overhead down on costs such as rent, while he’s busy at work completing the two-hour pilot of Space Command and selling the show. Have some of your garage or yard free to give us some space for our spaceship floor? You can help!

 

(5) INTO THE WEST ONCE MORE. HBO has renewed Westworld reports the New York Times.

“Westworld,” an expensive sci-fi drama, had been sidetracked by development problems and its October debut was later than expected. Before it had its premiere, HBO executives were privately saying they were unsure if it would land with its audience. But landed it has. “Westworld” has regularly been the No.-3-highest-rated scripted TV show in cable, drawing nearly three million viewers each week. HBO said on Monday that after adding up additional metrics like DVR, HBO Go and HBO Now views, the show is averaging 11.7 million viewers per episode, a figure they said is higher than “Game of Thrones” and “True Detective” at similar points in their freshman seasons. And like the first season of “True Detective,” it has ignited a lot of commentary online.

(6) SERIES BASED ON ATWOOD NOVEL. Hulu is planning a 10-episode adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale.

Taking a cue from Netflix, Hulu isn’t slowing down with its original programming. Today, the streaming service announced that it’s ordered a full series adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood’s seminal sci-fi novel. It centers on a totalitarian society where the birth rate is falling, and fertile women are placed in sexual slavery as “handmaids” to help humanity repopulate. Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men, Top of the Lake) will star as Offred, a handmaid working in the home of a government official named The Commander. Her main goal? To find her daughter, all the while trying to deal with her low place in society.

(7) OUTRÉ LIMITS. Sheila Williams explains why the current issue of Asimov’s consists of all fantasy stories.

Welcome to our annual slightly spooky issue. The fall double issue is always long in the making. Throughout the year, we see stories that land a little outside Asimov’s, admittedly rather soft, parameters. While we do publish one or two stories in each issue that could be called fantasy, surreal fiction, or slipstream, our focus is primarily on science fiction. Of course I get a lot of traditional science fiction story submissions, but I see a lot of uncanny submissions, too. The average issue of Asimov’s rarely features ghosts, witches, or werewolves, so during the year I tend to set aside many of my favorite outré tales while I wait to lay out the October/November issue.

(8) I KNOW. The actress kept this news on ice for 40 years — “Carrie Fisher Reveals She Had an Affair With Harrison Ford on ‘Star Wars’: ‘It Was So Intense’”.

Carrie Fisher is finally going public with a secret she has guarded closely for 40 years: When she was 19, she and Harrison Ford, then a 33-year-old married father of two, had a whirlwind three-month affair while filming the original Star Wars in 1976.

“It was so intense,” the actress-author, 60, tells PEOPLE exclusively of the real-life romance die-hard fans of the franchise have wished for since Han Solo and Princess Leia captured hearts on-screen.

(9) POP CULTURE QUEST. The actor who convinced California to pass a law about authenticating collectibles now has turned his interest into a TV show — “Mark Hamill on Turning Professional Toy and Collectibles Explorer”.

Hamill has launched a new series, Mark Hamill’s Pop Culture Quest, on the recently-launched Comic-Con HQ subscription service – you can watch the first episode right now via DC Comics’ YouTube channel.

On the series, Hamill — an avid toy and memorabilia collector himself — travels to see different notable collections, from classic Godzilla and other Japanese-created toys kept in a fan’s home to the iconic Batman comics and items on display at DC Comics’ headquarters. I spoke to Hamill about how the series came to be, what it’s like for him to interview the subjects, and more, including his own personal history as a collector….

IGN: As we’re doing an interview right now, I’m curious, doing this show, do you enjoy getting to be the interviewer, having been on the other side of it so many times?

Hamill: Oh yes, absolutely. That’s part of the fun. I thought, “Boy, I could really get used to this.” You’re right. It’s role reversal. One thing that I discovered… Because you look at the schedule and it’s like, “We’re going to do a show about a guy who collects shoes!?” That doesn’t really grab me, but then you meet the person and it’s really the shared trait that all collectors have that you relate to and then you hear the personal stories of how they got started on whatever collection they have and that’s the connective tissue. So that’s part of the fun. I don’t personally collect some of these things, but I love seeing other people who do.

(10) NAME CHANGE. Seattle’s EMP is now Museum of Pop Culture—MoPOP.

As of Saturday, November 19, EMP will officially be named Museum of Pop Culture—MoPOP. As you know, our museum encompasses so much more than music, and as we look toward the future, MoPOP reflects the entirety of the museum and where we are headed.

Spanning science fiction, fantasy, horror, fashion, sports, and video games, MoPOP reflects our vision for curating, exploring, and supporting the creative works that shape and inspire our lives. While the name of the museum is evolving, our mission remains the same: to bring genuine human experience and perspective to pop culture through our exhibits, programs, and events that invite exploration and inspire creativity.

We are so excited to showcase the breadth of the museum and celebrate pop culture in all its diversity with our Pop Culture Party, an all-day fest that is free to the public this Saturday. Admission includes entry to all MoPOP galleries—including Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds—and will feature live music, architectural tours, pop culture games, and more fun for guests of all ages.

(11) SUBSTANDARD DANCE. Cemetery Dance has been delisted by SFWA.

Please note that, as of November 1, 2016, Cemetery Dance is no longer a SFWA-qualifying market. In 2014, SFWA increased the standard of payment from 5¢/word to 6¢/word, and this publication has not increased its pay rate to keep pace. In addition, payment for stories is capped at $250, regardless of length. Cemetery Dance was alerted in September about the issue and their upcoming de-listing and has declined to raise its rates or change the story cap. Should the magazine change its policy to meet SFWA standards, it will be reinstated to our qualifying list.

(12) THE EXPLANATION. Charles Stross thinks there are no coincidences and all the disparate parts should fit together, rather like a Tim Powers novel played out in real life.

What happened last week is not just about America. It was one move—a very significant one, bishop-takes-queen maybe—in a long-drawn-out geopolitical chess game. It’s being fought around the world: Brexit was one move, the election and massacres of Dutarte in the Philippines were another, the post-coup crackdown in Turkey is a third. The possible election of Marine Le Pen (a no-shit out-of-the-closet fascist) as President of France next year is more of this stuff. The eldritch knot of connections between Turkey and Saudi Arabia and Da’esh in the wreckage of Syria is icing on top. It’s happening all over and I no longer think this is a coincidence.

Part of it is about the geopolitics of climate change (and mass migration and water wars). Part of it is about the jarring transition from an oil-based economy (opposed by the factions who sell oil and sponsor denial climate change, from Exxon-Mobil to the Kremlin) to a carbon-neutral one.

Part of it is the hellbrew of racism and resentment stirred up by loss of relative advantage, by the stagnation of wages in the west and the perception that other people somewhere else are stealing all the money—Chinese factories, Wall Street bankers, the faceless Other. (17M people in the UK have less than £100 in savings; by a weird coincidence, the number of people who voted for Brexit was around 17M. People who are impoverished become desperate and angry and have little investment in the status quo—a fancy way of saying they’ve got nothing to lose.)

But another big part of the picture I’m trying to draw is Russia’s long-drawn out revenge for the wild ride of misrule the neoconservatives inflicted on the former USSR in the 1990s.

(13) GRIM FAIRY TALE. Easier to understand is M.A.M.O.N. (Monitor Against Mexicans Over Nationwide), “a satirical fantasy sci-fi shortfilm that explores with black humor and lots of VFX the outrageous consequences of Donald Trump´s plan of banning immigration and building an enormous wall on the Mexico – US border.”

(14) FIRST ROBOTS. Jim Meadows writes:

A college radio station in my town is airing a student production adapted from the play “R.U.R.” by Karel Capek, credited for coining the word ‘robot’.

The play, “Airing Robots” is being broadcast today and tomorrow (Tuesday & Wednesday) on WPCD, 88.7 FM in Champaign, Illinois. The station streams at its website, http://wpcd.parkland.edu/index.html

The play aired today at 10 AM Central Time, and will repeat today at 6 PM and Wednesday at 12 PM and 8 PM.

The production is the culmination of two different Communications classes at Parkland College, a public community college in Champaign.

Here’s a link to an article in Parkland’s student newspaper, the Prospectus, which actually does a fair job of summarizing key elements of the play

One aspect of “Airing Robots” and its source material Geiken finds interesting is the type of robots featured: androids as opposed to cog-and-gear machines.

“[T]he robots of R.U.R are not your typical mechanical robots that you might imagine for this sort of early sci-fi story, but more akin to cyborgs or androids made from organic matter. The robots of R.U.R. are more like the ‘Cylons’ of the 2004 version of ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ or the cyborgs of the ‘Terminator’ movie series,” he said.

?apek, who was a highly-political writer, wrote “R.U.R.” in 1920, when Europe was feeling the effects of the Russian civil war and the end of World War I. According to Czech writer and biographer Ivan Kilma, ?apek wrote the play in response to many of the societal and technocratic utopian ideas that were spreading around Central Europe at that time.

R.U.R. was first performed in 1921, Kilma states.

(15) ROSEWATER. Rosewater by Tade Thompson is a new release from Apex Publications. Thompson lives and works in the south of England. His first novel Making Wolf won the 2016 Kitschies Golden Tentacle award for best debut novel.

apex-rosewater-cover-final-v1-covercrop

Between meeting a boy who bursts into flames, alien floaters that want to devour him, and a butterfly woman who he has sex with when he enters the xenosphere, Kaaro’s life is far from the simple one he wants. But he left simple behind a long time ago when he was caught stealing and nearly killed by an angry mob. Now he works for a government agency called Section 45, and they want him to find a women known as Bicycle Girl. And that’s just the beginning.

An alien entity lives beneath the ground, forming a biodome around which the city of Rosewater thrives. The cities of Rosewater are enamored by the dome, hoping for a chance to meet the beings within or possibly be invited to come in themselves. But Kaaro isn’t so enamored. He was in the biodome at one point and decided to leave it behind. When something begins killing off other sensitives like himself, Kaaro defies Section 45 to search for an answer, facing his past and comes to a realization about a horrifying future.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]

SF in Broadway History

By Bill Higgins: Karel Capek’s play R.U.R. — which gave the English language the word “robot”– was a hit in Prague in 1921, and came to the U.S. soon afterward, with a Broadway production in 1922.

Among the New York Public Library Digital Collections I found photos of a later traveling production of R.U.R. by the Theatre Guild Tour Company. They’re dated 1928 to 1929. They’re part of the collection “Vandamm Theatrical Photographs, 1900-1957”.

One actor whose name I recognized in a small part: Sydney Greenstreet, whose later Hollywood career included appearances in The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca. (He turns up at the right-hand edge of this image.

If you’re curious what sets, costumes, and actors looked like in a 1920s version of Capek’s famous play, take a look.

There’s probably all kinds of SF-related stuff in the NYPL’s collection of public-domain images.

Pixel Scroll 2/13/16 He Feels The Pixels Scraping, Scrolls Breaking On His Brow

(1) TIME IN A BOTTLE. Ars Technica tries to figure out how time travel works in Star Trek.

Time travel, while perhaps one of the most interesting devices in the series, is also confusing, befuddling, and inconsistent. In the words of Captain Janeway, “the future is the past, the past is the future; it all gives me a headache.”

While we can’t get too deep into the purported mechanisms behind Trek time travel—they rely on things like “chronotons” whose nature real-world science has sadly yet to discover—it’s still interesting to ponder time travel’s effects. How does it affect the present? Is interference with the past a predestined part of history? Do alterations in the past get mixed into the current timeline?

(2) BIT PLAYER. “Finding Boshek” is the latest in The Numerous Solutions of Billy Jensen.

He was the man who could have been Solo.

I have always been intrigued by BoShek. When Ben Kenobi enters the cantina on Mos Eisley looking for a pilot to take himself, the boy and two droids to Alderaan, his first choice is a smuggler sporting arched eyebrows, killer muttonchops, and a black and white space suit more akin to an astronaut than a fighter pilot. While we cannot hear their dialogue, it is obvious that Kenobi asks him for a ride to Alderaan–and for whatever reason, the space pilot says no.

Was his ship out of commission? Did he have another charter later that day?

Whatever the reason, BoShek turns down the offer, but smoothly motions over his shoulder to the furry beast behind him, in my mind saying something to the effect of “Sorry, I can’t help you. But why don’t you give him a try?”

That furry beast, Chewbacca, then brings Kenobi and Skywalker to the table, Han Solo sits down, the rest is history…and BoShek faded forever into the darkness of the Mos Eisley bar.

Incredibly enough, he solved the mystery.

Commenter Jeremy Miller was so impressed he wrote:

This was a spectacular discovery, but there remains yet another, even more elusive uncredited extra hailing from the Star Wars cinematic universe begging to be found. His character has been named…Willrow Hood…the infamous Cloud City tech who absconded with an ice cream maker during the evacuation of Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back. Help us, Billy Jensen. You’re our only hope.

(3) SLATE FIGHTER. Steve Davidson’s thoughtful Amazing Stories post “Whether tis Nobler” follows this introduction with an analysis of anti-Hugo-slate tactics.

GRRM’s laying the blame for the success of No Award at my feet – problematic.  For reasons both personal and voting-related.

I like Mr. Martin.  I particularly admire and am grateful for his unstinting support of fandom over the years.  (By way of example:  he has consistently attended Worldcon even when other, higher-profile conventions have been scheduled for the same weekend.  His stated reason for doing so is “He is a fan”.)  I find him to be, in  many respects, a fine example of the kind of fan-turned-pro that I grew up with, people like Asimov, Bradbury, Clement, Buchanan, Gerrold, others.  They KNOW where they came from, they recognize and acknowledge the support the community has provided to them, they embrace the culture and they pay things forward.

I’m uncomfortable being at odds with him.

On the voting front though, we’re at odds.  We are not at odds when it comes to the general concept of “do not mess with the Hugo Awards”.  Our conflict is based on tactics, not strategy.  Mr. Martin believes that the only consideration ought to be whether or not a work is worthy of a Hugo Award, and further, he believes that this position should trump any anti-slate considerations. Anything less can potentially negatively affect deserving nominees who happen to be on slates.

I on the other hand believe that slates are the primary issue and taking an effective and long-lasting stand against their use and acceptance ought to be the main focus.

(4) VENERA. At Galactic Journey, The Traveler has just read about the Soviet Union’s 1961 Venus probe.

Look out, Venus!  The Russians are coming to open your shell.

Venus, forever shrouded in a protective layer of clouds, may soon be compelled to give up her secrets to a 1400 pound probe.  Launched by the Soviet Union on the 11th, it is the first mission from Earth specifically designed to investigate “Earth’s Twin.”

(5) EXCITABLE BRIN. And in 2016, David Brin got a little revved up by what he heard at two events in California: “Space: so many milestones ahead!”

Space is looking up. In that more eyes appear to be turning skyward in tentative optimism. A few days ago I participated in a pair of events in Los Angeles, hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and NASA and Fox Studios. The morning event featured Ridley Scott, Adam Savage, Bill Nye, Andy Weir and scientists and screenwriters discussing how the film The Martian may be a harbinger of much more about bold exploration.  The smaller afternoon event, at UCLA put scientists and Hollywood myth-makers together in workshops.  Maybe we’ll get more hopeful tales!

(6) INKLINGS. Glenn Hough has reviewed Diana Pavlac Glyer’s Bandersnatch at Worlds Without End.

In terms of the 20th century, the Inklings, this select group of men, who met, talked, and critiqued each others work, has now become The Example for how a fellowship is supposed to work. Even Paris of Hemingway’s lost generation, with their salons, and creative minds from far more disciples, seems now a pale second place.

Bandersnatch takes us into this crucible, trying to reconstruct from a fly-on-the-wall perspective this extraordinary time and place. Glyer is concerned with two fundamental questions: What did they talk about when they discussed the various works in progress? and What difference did it make within the books they were writing?

(7) CRASHY BOOM. Neatorama remembers “The Sound Effects Genius Behind The Looney Tunes And Merrie Melodies”.

Treg Brown started his career as a sound editor for the Warner Brothers in 1936, and under his guidance the iconic Looney Tunes cartoon sound took shape.

From the subtle inclusion of sound effects in orchestral scores to the hiring of iconic voice actors like Mel Blanc, Treg is the guy responsible for it all.

(8) EO BBC. The BBC aired the first science fiction television program 78 years ago.

Doctor Who may be the world’s longest-running science fiction television series, but it’s not the oldest sci-fi program to have been broadcast on television. That honor goes to another BBC production, which first aired 78 years ago today: a live recording of Karel ?apek’s seminal play, R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots). You probably remember that the program was nominated for a Retro-Hugo in 2014.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 13, 1931 — Bela Lugosi is undead in Tod Browning’s Dracula, seen for the first time on this day in 1931.

(10) HOYT DESERVES BETTER. Sarah A. Hoyt has been unjustly attacked, she explains in “The Games People Play”.

The unnamed site, having read the first paragraph and seeing that a post followed, immediately went on to say that research was hard and that, without doing it, I’d done a whole post about the case.  When it was pointed out to them I hadn’t, but the case was a mere jumping off point, they claimed stupidity on my part since the post was an obvious sham or something.

That’s terrible! I wonder what site that was? At first I suspected it was this one. After all, File 770 ran an item about that column the other day which was, indeed, based on the assumption that the introduction signaled what the rest of the column would be about.

Now, I haven’t read the complaint, so perhaps there is more to it, and the complaint is more substantial. …

We’ll stop here and wait til she reads the complaint…

But when J. C. Salomon informed me about the true state of affairs, I responded in a comment:

J.C. Salomon: That’s hilarious — the rest of the column had nothing to do with the lede? I would never have known! Thanks for telling me.

Nothing like Hoyt’s description. So if some blogger “claimed stupidity” on Hoyt’s part, and claimed “the post was an obvious sham,” I’m glad Hoyt is taking him to account, whoever he is.

(11) FANCAST REVIEWS. Geeking Out About… discusses “Road to the Hugo Awards: Selected Fancasts, part 1”.

Finding the time to listen to hour-long episodes of podcasts which are eligible for the 2016 Hugo Awards wasn’t easy for me, but that’s what today’s article is about. The eligibility requirements state that the podcast must be a “non-professional” production—that is, no other company paid the podcaster(s) to make it—and at least one episode has to have been produced during the calendar year in question.

As such, then, I decided to pick one episode from a currently eligible podcast whose description interested me the most and I’ll be basing my recommendations on just the one episode. Unlike the “three episode rule” which I’m borrowing from former GOA contributor Kara Dennison, I think that I’d be able to tell what’s going to be on my nomination and/or platform lists before March 31 from just one episode.

(12) SETTING AN EXAMPLE. Here is Brian Niemeier’s tweet, inviting people to read his post criticizing Matthew Foster for using ad hominem attacks.

See Niemeier’s post “Sad Puppies: Cognitive Dissonance Makes Our Enemies Oblivious” at Kairos.

There are two possible explanations for why Matthew responded to my evidence-based arguments with nothing but ad hominem attacks.

  1. False positives: all of his “tells” are in fact rational responses to unknown stimuli.
  2. Cognitive dissonance: lacking contrary evidence against arguments that shook his worldview, Matthew responded with a slew of irrational accusations.

(13) FORCE AWAKENS DESPOILED. As CinemaBlend notes, in How Star Wars the Force Awakens Should Have Ended much of the video is actually dedicated to fixing holes in the movie rather than specifically dealing with how it ended.

[Thanks to JJ, James H. Burns, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 9/6 With Six, You Get Egg Scroll

(1) A postcard from the Baen beachhead at Dragon Con.

(2) The Stanley Hotel in Colorado inspired Stephen King’s novel The Shining, a connection the hotel’s operators have used to market the resort for years.

But unlike King’s fictional Overlook it never had a hedge maze – until this summer when the owner had one built to placate his customers.

Missing from the experience, however, has been the hedge maze that Mr. Kubrick used as the setting for the film’s climax….

At a colleague’s suggestion, Mr. Cullen [the owner] opted to hold a contest for the design, a move that amplified the public-relations potential. A panel of judges received 329 entries from around the world, and the winner was a New York architect named Mairim Dallaryan Standing.

Mr. Cullen chose to form the maze from juniper trees that grow to just three feet high, making the Stanley’s maze far less imposing than the 13-foot labyrinth in the Kubrick film. Mr. Cullen said he was concerned about losing children in the maze.

This summer, that decision has caused some disappointment….

The owner of the real hotel builds a maze to please King fans, who then are not pleased because it doesn’t match the source. How fannish is that?

(3) John O’Halloran’s Sasquan photo album – mainly the Hugo ceremony.

(4) Lou Antonelli on Facebook

I’m going to write an alternate history set in a world where cloning was perfected in the 1920s and by the beginning of the television era in the 1950s entertainers are able to license copies of themselves for live performances.

The clones of bigger stars are more expensive than the clones of lesser ones. One man has to settle for a Teresa Brewer clone, but he bemoans the fact that he couldn’t afford a clone of the star he REALLY wanted.

The story will be called…

“If You Were a Dinah Shore, My Love.”

(5) The works of Karel Capek are being celebrated at a festival in Washington D.C. Celia Wren penned an overview in the Washington Post.

Prepare for rebellious automatons, a 300-year-old opera singer, and a pack of newts taking a page from Ira Glass. These and other inventions will unfold locally this fall courtesy of the Czech writer Karel Capek (1890-1938), with help from other artists.

Capek is the focus of the Mutual Inspirations Festival 2015, led by the Embassy of the Czech Republic and offering films, theater pieces, lectures, art exhibits, and — for children — a Lego Robotics Workshop. Now in its sixth year, the festival pays tribute to an influential Czech figure, such as Antonin Dvorak (2011), Vaclav Havel (2013) or Franz Kafka (2014).

The Mutual Inspirations website has complete details.

Running from September 3-November 21, 2015, the festival highlights events at select venues in the Washington area, such as the Kennedy Center, the Gonda Theatre in the Davis Performing Arts Center at Georgetown University, the Avalon Theatre, and Bistro Bohem. Highlights of this year’s festival include a jazz-age evening of music and dance, theatrical readings of the new work R.U.R.: A Retro-Futuristic Musical, the world premiere of War with the Newts adapted by Natsu Onoda Power, a robotics demonstration and lecture with Czech robotics expert Vladimir Ma?ík, a panel discussion on R.U.R. and the Rationalized World, and a Lego Robotics Workshop for children facilitated by the Great Adventure Lab. Additional noted speakers include Templeton Prize-winner Tomáš Halík, art historian Otto Urban, and theatre/ interactive media arts scholar Jana Horaková. The festival incorporates a variety of events, including theatrical performances, film screenings, a concert, lectures, and exhibitions. With over 30,000 people attending the festival over the last three years, the festival strives to reach a wide audience through its vibrant programming.

(6 George R.R. Martin, in “Awards, Awards, and More Awards”, encourages the Puppies who are talking about starting an award of their own.

He discusses how many different awards there are in the field and includes lots of pictures – which is easy because George has won most of them.

A great many of the awards discussed above were started precisely because the people behind them felt someone was being overlooked by the Hugos and/ or other existing awards, and wanted to give an “attaboy” to work they cherished.

There is no reason the Sad Puppies should not do the same. Give them at Dragoncon, give them at Libertycon… or, hell, give them at worldcon, if you want. Most worldcons will give you a hall for the presentation, I’m sure, just as they do for the Prometheus Awards and the Seiuns. Or you can rent your own venue off-site, as I did with the Alfies. Have a party. No booing, just cheers. Give handsome trophies to those you think deserve it. Spread joy.

That’s what awards are supposed to be about, after all. Giving some joy back to the writers and editors and artists who have given you so much joy with their work. Celebration.

Since RAH is already taken by the Heinlein Foundation for its own award, maybe you should call them the Jims, to honor Jim Baen, an editor and publisher that I know many of you admire. If you launch a Kickstarter to have a bust of him sculpted for the trophy, I’ll be glad to contribute. (It may surprise you to know that while Jim Baen and I were very far apart politically, we shared many a meal together, and he published a half dozen of my books. Liberals and conservatives CAN get along, and usually did, in fandom of yore).

(7) Kevin Standlee philosophizes about the relationship between a stable, democratically-run society and good sportsmanship.

A prerequisite of a stable democratic society is being a good loser.

If your definition of “democracy” boils down to “I get what I personally want or else the entire process is wrong and corrupt,” then you have reduced yourself to the spoiled child who throws a tantrum and overturns the table when s/he loses at a board game.

Could it be that our society’s over-emphasis at “win at any cost” and “second place is the first loser,” and a complete de-emphasis on learning how to be graceful in defeat is undermining the entire democratic process? After all, if you’ve been conditioned to think that Winning Is The Only Thing and that losing gracefully is for suckers and wimps, how can you possibly live with yourself when your “side” loses a political election, even if the process was demonstratively fair? In such a situation, you almost naturally are doing to insist that the process itself is wrong, because you’ve built up a self-image that requires you to win.

I’m also worried that we’ve overly emphasized not hurting people’s feelings when they are young by pretending that they can never lose. When they reach the real world where not every corner is padded for them, they can’t handle anything other than “I showed up, so I need to win.” I admit that possibly I’m just being old and crotchety about Those Darn Kids.

As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m disappointed that Popular Ratification, into which I invested a lot of myself, lost at the ratification stage. But I can see that the process was fair, and I neither consider myself a moral failure because my cause lost nor do I consider the entire WSFS legislative process invalid because I got outvoted. I get the feeling, however, that a whole lot of people out there can’t live with the concept of losing.

(8) Didact doesn’t care.

I really can’t make it any clearer than that, unless the good people over at File770 want me to break out a pack of crayons and draw them a picture. And I don’t speak any dialect of dipsh*t, so even that probably won’t help.

Didact, Vile Faceless Minion #0309, repeats:

WE DON’T CARE whether or not our nominees won awards. Not this year, not next year, and not in any other year. It matters not the minutest quantum of a damn for us. As far as I, personally, am concerned, the Hugo Awards have lost their point and purpose and need to be torn down and replaced wholesale.

I don’t know why I have such a hard time getting it through my thick skull that they don’t care. Really. It’s just embarrassing. As many times they’ve been forced to repeat this. Think of all the time they could  spend on something they do care about if only I would just get it. All my fault. My bad. So sorry.

(9) And dammit, Jonathan M has uncovered another of this blog’s deepest secrets.

(9) Great photos from a vintage computer exhibit.

K9 robot dog COMP

(10) Megan Guess at Ars Technica – “I watched Star Trek: The Original Series in order; and so can you. Or, Filling the gaps in your cultural knowledge is equal parts boring and fun”

At the beginning, this is how I approached The Original Series. Despite how much everyone wants to talk about Star Trek‘s progressiveness in 1966, you can tell just by a quick glance at the costuming that womankind is not going to be treated as equal, with all the rights and responsibilities pertaining thereto.

But around the end of season one, I couldn’t help but become a little bit invested in the world of the Federation. I was always happy when Lieutenant Uhura was given real lines in an episode, because she was just what you’d want in a starship officer of the future—brave and serious, but with a human side, too. Nurse Chapel was also welcome—she had gravitas without being robotic and cold.

Of course, for every Uhura or Chapel there was the endless supply of one-off Kirk foils planted on every strange new world, waiting for a strong-jawed spaceman to rescue them. Sometimes they were decent characters, like Edith Keeler in “The City on the Edge of Forever,” one of The Original Series’ most famous episodes. In it, Kirk and Spock end up in the 1930s and a depression-era charity worker—Keeler, portrayed by Joan freaking Collins—preaches futurism to a group of unenlightened hobos. (And then Kirk falls in love with her. Because of course.) Other characters were worse—you need only search “Women Star Trek Original Series” to find the lists of the show’s hottest, most vacant babes.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Mark and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day James H. Burns.]