Pixel Scroll 3/13/21 If You Like Antikythera, And Getting Caught In The Rain

(1) WHAT MONEY CAN’T BUY. ALLEGEDLY. “’Batman Is Ours Alone to Exploit.’ DC Comics Warns Against Using Its Characters in NFTs”Yahoo! Finance has the story. (Does that headline remind you of “All These Worlds Are Yours, Except Europa. Attempt No Landing There” – or is it just me?)

Publisher DC Comics, a subsidiary of Warner Bros, itself a unit of Time Warner, is unhappy with artists using its intellectual property (IP) in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and said it has its own plans for characters.  

In a letter sent to freelancers employed by the firm Thursday, Jay Kogan, DC Comics’ senior VP of legal affairs, stressed it is against company policy to sell digital images featuring DC’s IP with or without NFTs.

… Recently NFTs have become a craze with millions of dollars being spent on rare or desirable digital artworks. On Thursday, a piece of digital artwork or NFT by crypto artist Beeple was sold for a record $69.3 million by the auction house Christie’s….

What is a non-fungible token? Wikipedia says:

Non-Fungible Token (NFT) is a digital file whose unique identity and ownership are verified on a blockchain (a digital ledger). NFTs are not mutually interchangeable (see fungibility). NFTs to things such as a digital artwork are commonly auctioned at online NFT marketplaces. The token can be bought with cryptocurrency and resold.

NFTs are used to commodify digital things, such as digital art, video game items, and music files. Access to any copy of the original file, however, is not restricted to the owner of the token.

(2) WHO STARTED THIS SUBGENRE ANYWAY? Jeff Somers goes looking for “The Untold Truth Of The Origins Of Cyberpunk” at Grunge. (Even if you lived this history, a refresher course might be helpful just the same.)

These days, the word cyberpunk conjures up images of Keanu Reeves and, per Gizmodo, terribly, horribly broken video games.

Cyberpunk, a sub-genre of science fiction that explores a counter-cultural and anti-authoritarian worldview through the lens of a dystopian, technologically-advanced, and dehumanized future, has proved to be prescient. No other genre of speculative fiction has remained as relevant and useful over the course of decades. Cyberpunk stories are as powerful as ever, and examples dating back decades remain evergreen in a way that most sci-fi can’t manage….

…In the early 1980s, two short stories clarified the fact that this wasn’t just a loose collection of themes and tropes, but rather a distinct sub-genre of science fiction. As noted by The Verge, the first was “Burning Chrome” by William Gibson, published in 1982. Not only did this story literally introduce the word “cyberspace” to our vocabulary, it’s often identified as the first true example of cyberpunk. It tells the story of two hackers who use sophisticated software to steal a criminal’s fortune, only to be left bereft and heartbroken.

The word “cyberpunk” didn’t exist yet, however. As reported by the Encyclopedia Britannica, that happened when Bruce Bethke published a short story in 1982 that (per Infinityplus) was literally titled “Cyberpunk.” According to Neon Dystopia, Bethke purposefully invented the word to describe a future generation that would combine the nihilism and violence of angry teenagers with technical proficiency….

(3) FANHISTORY ONLINE. Joe Siclari provides a roundup of the incredible number of recent additions to The Fanac Fan History Project website in Fanac Newsletter 15 [PDF file]. A big part of their work is scanning fanzines and securing permission to host them online.

…The reason for digitally archiving fanzines is to make them accessible to fans everywhere. When someone hears how wonderful a storied fanzine like Quandry or The Acolyte was, they can use the archive to read the issues instead of just wonder what they were like. Originally, in the 1990s, we started retyping issues (and hey, thanks Judy Bemis!). In the 2000s we started putting up JPGs of each page, so readers could just click their way through. Now, we’re putting up searchable PDFs. One of our projects is to replace those fanzines that were accessible in typed or JPG form with searchable PDFs. Since the last newsletter, we have replaced our complete runs of the following titles with searchable PDFs: Aporrheta (H. P. Sanderson), Bane (Vic Ryan), Double Bill (Bill Bowers and Bill Mallardi), Fanscient (Donald Day), Fantastic Worlds (Edward Ludwig and Sam Sackett), Granfalloon (Linda Bushyager), Hyphen (Walt Willis and Chuck Harris), Innuendo (Terry Carr), Mota (Terry Hughes), Slant (Walter A. Willis), Stellar (Ted White and Larry Stark), Toto (Walt Willis et al), and Void (Jim and Greg Benford, Ted White). We’ve also replaced all the issues we have of: Cry of the Nameless (134 issues, F. M. Busby, Wally Weber, et al), Outworlds (70 issues, Bill Bowers, except for a one page flyer), and Spanish Inquisition (8 issues, Jerry Kaufman and Suzle Tompkins).

The latest newsletter includes two short and rather interesting articles about applying genealogical research to answer fanhistorical questions.

  • “Other people’s genealogy” by Leah Zeldes

…Transferring the list of names, I realized at least a third of the pre-reg members of Chicon, the 1940 Worldcon, were fictitious — alter egos of some of the others. Forry Ackerman accounts for at least seven of them…

  • “Using Genealogical Records to Find More Information on (Mostly Dead) Fans” by Laurie Mann

… Recently, I’ve started to give Mark Olson & Leah [Zeldes] Smith a hand with research for Fancyclopedia 3. We were trying to straighten out how some attendees of the 1939 Worldcon, Nycon 1, were related. There were a few attendees with the same last name (https://fancyclopedia.org/Nycon_1_Membership_List). Were they related? Multiple Nycon 1 registrants had last names like Alberti, Racic, Sykora, & Unger. I searched in the 1930 census through ancestry.com to see what I could find….

(4) DRACULA HAS QUESTIONS. In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri says Dracula has been a good citizen and has been hiding in his castle, but now that the vaccine is coming, he wants to know if the vaccine has garlic in it and if he flies around as a bat during the day, does he have to wear a mask? “I have not left my castle in ages, and I have some questions about post-vaccine guidelines”.

…Yes, CDC, I have been living in seclusion for some time, unable to go out and about and enjoy all the delicacies of taste that I would wish. So my questions for you are legion. First: Should I get the vaccine? The only doctor I know, Van Helsing, counseled strongly against my receiving the vaccine at all, but in the past he has tried to stab me through the heart with a sharpened wooden stake, and I fear he does not have my best interests in mind….

(5) HE DID THE MASH. “Hergé’s heirs sue artist over his Tintin/Edward Hopper mashups”The Guardian has the story.

A French artist who imagines romantic adventures for the boy adventurer Tintin in the landscapes of Edward Hopper has been sued by the Tintin creator Hergé’s heirs, who said it was not funny to take advantage of Tintin by putting him in an erotic universe, especially as Hergé had chosen not to caricature women.

In Breton artist Xavier Marabout’s Hergé-Hopper mashupsTintin is variously painted into Hopper’s Road and Houses, scratching his head as he greets a woman in a car; looking disgruntled in a version of Hopper’s Cape Cod Evening, 1939; and kissing a girl in a car, in a spin on Hopper’s Queensborough Bridge, 1913. On his website, Marabout describes his work as “strip art”, in which he “strips distant artistic universes to merge them together” in a style where “parody [is] omnipresent”….

(6) CROWN RESTORED. “’Avatar’ once again highest-grossing film of all time at the box office”CNBC explains how the 2009 movie regained the record.

…Over the weekend, James Cameron’s sci-fi epic was rereleased in China and garnered enough in ticket sales to overtake “Avengers: Endgame” for the record.

“Avatar” first became the top-selling global release of all time in 2010 when it usurped Cameron’s “Titanic.” In 2019, “Avengers: Endgame” won the title with a $2.797 billion box office haul.

As of Saturday, “Avatar’s” box office gross surpassed $2.802 billion, allowing it to earn back its crown…

(7) CAT WITH NO HAT. “Sam and Bucky Debate If Doctor Strange Is a Wizard in Comedic Sneak Peek” at Yahoo! Entertainment.

…In the wake of the events of Avengers: Endgame, Sam and Bucky will team up for “a global adventure that tests their abilities — and their patience.” The six-episode spinoff is set to be a “cinematic experience” in which the pair navigate a world post-Steve Rogers’ Captain America. Expect plenty of action and more pop culture references.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born March 13, 1855 – Percival Lowell.  Founder of the Lowell Observatory.  Three books he meant as nonfiction, MarsMars and Its CanalsMars as the Abode of Life; posthumously published poem “The Canals of Mars”.  Honorary degrees from Amherst and from Clark.  Prix Jules Janssen.  Traveled in and wrote about Japan and Korea.  Better data later showed his astronomical life-work was mistaken, but let us not minimize him.  (Died 1916) [JH]
  • Born March 13, 1911 – L. Ron Hubbard.  Never aspiring to great literature, he may have achieved it with Fear; he sought to be, and was, a first-rate yarn-spinner; his stories sold, among us and in Westerns, aviation, travel, romance.  So fluent he used many pseudonyms.  I’ve always liked the Ole Doc Methuselah stories, comedy on the science fiction – fantasy border; look for the Edd Cartier illustrations.  H toward the end of his life turned out another dozen novels in the old pulp style.  Battlefield Earth, the first of them, has a hero who loves his horse more than his girl; when he’s beaten the evil aliens, we get to wonder who was behind them, which proves to be interstellar bankers – sharkmen.  (Died 1986) [JH]
  • Born March 13, 1928 Douglas Rain. Though most of his work was as a stage actor, he was the voice of the HAL 9000 for 2001: A Space Odyssey and its sequel. He’s in Sleeper a few years later as the voices of the Evil Computer and Various Robot Butlers. (Died 2018.) (CE) 
  • Born March 13, 1932 Richard Lawrence Purtill, He’s here because EoSF lists him as the author of Murdercon, a 1982 novel where a murder is discovered at a SF Convention. I’ve not heard of it but was wondering if y’all had heard of this work. (Died 2016.) (CE) 
  • Born March 13, 1933 – Diane Dillon, age 83.  Widow of Leo Dillon; they worked together so intimately they sometimes said their graphic art was by a third person made of them both; anyway among our very best, likewise outside our field.  A hundred sixty covers, two hundred twenty interiors for us.  No. 10 here has my note on LD.  More? certainly: here is Mother Goose, Numbers on the Loosehere is Le Morte d’Arthurhere is To Every Thing There Is a Seasonhere is The People Could Fly; here here is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  [JH]
  • Born March 13, 1934 – Barry Hughart.  Lovable for Bridge of Birds (World Fantasy Award, Mythopoeic Award) and two sequels, set in “an Ancient China that never was”, or as one of us said, “filled with Chinese legend, mostly invented by the author…. [its] verisimilitude demonstrates the care with which Hughart studied actual Chinese folklore and history”, hello Steven.  Also worked on eight movies (will films pass out of use, or continue like hang up the telephone?).  So far this Website can still be viewed.  (Died 2019) [JH]
  • Born March 13, 1944 – Bonnie Dalzell, age 77.  Four covers, thirty interiors.  Here is the Apr 76 Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.  Here is the May 77 Galaxy.  Here is a Pierson’s Puppeteer; here is a bandersnatch.  Official Artist at Boskone 12.  Contributor to Mythologies.   [JH]
  • Born March 13, 1950 William H. Macy Jr., 71. I’ll start his Birthday note by noting that he was in the superb Pleasantville as George Parker. He’s shown up in a lot of genre works including but limited to Somewhere in Time, Evolver, The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the RescueThe Night of the Headless HorsemanJurassic Park IIISahara and The Tale of Despereaux. (CE) 
  • Born March 13, 1956 Dana Delany, 65. I’ve come today to praise her work as a voice actress. She was in a number of DCU animated films, first as Andrea Beaumont in Batman: The Mask of The Phantasm, then as Lois Lane in Superman: The Animated SeriesSuperman: Brainiac Attacks and Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. (That’s not a complete listing.) Remember that Wing Commander film? Well there was an animated series, Wing Commander Academy, in which she was Gwen Archer Bowman. And though definitely not genre or even genre related, i must single out her role in Tombstone. (CE) 
  • Born March 13, 1959 – Steve Davies, age 62.  Chaired Eastercon 50.  Member, RSFG (Reading SF Group, i.e. of Berkshire, England; it ‘has a proud tradition of not organising things’).  Chaired Birmingham Univ. SF Soc.  Active in the PLOKTA (Press Lots Of Keys To Abort, ‘the journal of superfluous technology’) Cabal, thus part of two Nova awards and a Hugo for Best Fanzine. Composes filksongs (linking to Fancyclopedia III although I still think the Wikipedia article with E. Bull and P. Nielsen Hayden is swell).  [JH]
  • Born March 13, 1966 Alastair Reynolds, 55. As depressing as they are given what they lead up to, The Prefect Dreyfus novels are my favorite novels by him. That said, Chasm City is fascinating. The only ones by him that I absolutely failed to have any enthusiasm for is his Revenger Universe series which leaves me cold. His next novel in the Revelation Space series, Inhibitor Phase, is out this July. (CE) 
  • Born March 13, 1967 Lou Anders, 54. A Hugo-winning editor. He’s has been editorial director of Prometheus Books’ SF imprint Pyr since its launch fifteen years ago. He’s a crack editor of anthologies. I’ve very fond of his Live Without a Net,  Sideways in Time and FutureShocks anthologies. I note that he has a fantasy trilogy, Thrones and Bones, but I’ve not heard of it til now. (CE) 
  • Born March 13, 1986 – Ashley Christman, age 35.  Three novels.  “Grace Caldwell [is] so intimately connected with death that it frightens her….  Vampires are afraid of her and the Sidhe are confused by her….  her ex-boyfriend, FBI agent Jack Montgomery, blackmails her into helping him solve [omitted – JH].

(9) START THE PRESSES! “Marvel is going back to print on comics that sold out thanks to WandaVision craze” reports Yahoo! (In a way, Gene Wolfe would be shocked. He used to say – sarcastically – that the difference between a professional publisher and a fanzine editor is that if a faned sells out his zine he’ll print more.)

Never doubt Wanda Maximoff’s power to change reality. Her starring role in the Disney+ series WandaVision didn’t just dominate pop culture discourse for the past few months, it also has created a huge run on many of the most relevant Marvel comics featuring Scarlet Witch and the Vision.

EW has confirmed that Marvel has been going back to press for new print runs of Vision by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Scarlet Witch by James Robinson and various artists, and Vision and Scarlet Witch by Steve Englehart and artists like Don Heck and Bill Mantlo, among other comics. House of M, the 2005 event series in which Wanda changed the entire reality of the Marvel Universe to one where her adoptive father Magneto ruled over mankind, had its print stock depleted “almost overnight” in the wake of WandaVision‘s premiere.

(10) SECRET IDENTITIES. “This Jewish female artist from the comic book golden age was overlooked for decades” at Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Like the comic superheroes they invented, the Jewish creators of the characters often had secret identities – at least different names. Superman creators Joe Shuster and Jerome Siegel used the pseudonyms Joe Carter and Jerry Ess. Bob Kane, born Robert Kahn, created Batman. Jack Kirby, the pen name of Jacob Kurtzenberg, concocted Captain America.

Although lesser known, the comic book heroine Señorita Rio was Hollywood starlet Rita Farrar by day and Nazi-fighting secret agent by night. The artist who drew Rio’s action-packed panels in the 1940s, and signed as L. Renee, lived a sort of double life, too.

“Everybody assumed I was a man,” artist Lily Renee Phillips has said of the fan mail she received at the time, which was always addressed to “Mr. Renee.” Fans knew neither Renee’s gender nor her incredible origin story, which rivaled the plotline of Señorita Rio. 

In the New York offices of Fiction House, the comic book publishing firm where Renee worked, she was a scrappy immigrant who worked her way up from erasing pencil marks to drafting her own heroines. Outside work she was a Vienna-born Holocaust survivor who fled Austria after the 1938 Anschluss, the Nazi annexation of Austria. She escaped to England on a Kindertransport and reunited with her parents in New York in 1940….

(11) WORLDBUILDING IS CHARACTER BUILDING. In “The Mystery Is The Human Psyche: On Shakespeare, Crime, and Human Motivation” on CrimeReads, E.J. Beaton discusses how she studied Shakespeare’s use of psychology in her DAW fantasy novel The Councillor.

…If Julius Caesar were simply a retelling of political events, it wouldn’t be so compelling. The real drama lies not in how the assassination is arranged, but in why the main characters commit their crimes. Both Cassius and Brutus have feelings about Caesar as a person, and both have ideas about power and justice. One man prioritizes his envy, and the other lets his ideals override his friendship: that is where the humanity lies. We all choose between emotion and logic in our daily lives, and even high-ranking politicians question their loyalty to their leaders, oscillating between personal values and collective order….

Another dimension of Beaton’s novel is discussed in “My Favorite Bit: E.J. Beaton Talks About THE COUNCILLOR” at Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog.

…While I worked on my debut novel The Councillor, I realised that I wanted my main character, Lysande, to live in a world where being bisexual is normal. Because The Councillor is a fantasy novel, I had the chance to create a world where Lysande’s sexuality is not only accepted, but utterly unremarkable. She has a parcel of secrets to conceal, but in the realm of Elira, where the story is set, her sexuality isn’t one of those. I tried to people the story with other queer characters, and to include casual references to same-sex couples, too.

By the time I finished the novel, a word for these kinds of societies was floating around fantasy book spaces – “queernorm.” The power of that word rings in its very sound. Queerness is, by definition, strangeness, and in most societies, queer people are positioned as other to the cultural norm of straightness. So for queer to be norm sounds like a revolution. It feels like a sudden leap into full sun, hart-swift, with no going back.

(12) BE CAREFUL OUT THERE. CrimeRead’s Cynthia Pelayo says “Fairy Tales Are Dark For a Reason—They’re Trying to Warn Us About Danger”.

…It’s thought that the brothers [Grimm] kept much of the grim and gore, even heightening it a bit, because it stoked reader’s interests. Murder and mayhem sells. It’s also thought then that situations like mentions of pre-marital sex, like in Rapunzel, where her young suitor climbs into her tower, was omitted—or quickly glossed over.

So why did the brothers leave in so much terror, and I suppose why did Walt Disney find these tales suitable to adapt into childhood fantasy? Perhaps the horrible things were left in as a warning. That is all that most of us can assume right now, because in many fairy tales it is clear to interpret who is the protagonist and who is the villain. The lines are usually clearly drawn between good and evil, and in fairy tales, very often that evil is by chance—just like in life.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “System Error” from DUST.

George works at a convenience store, desperately hoping for a friend. But George is a robotic service unit, and robotic service units do not have friends. Not yet, anyway.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, JJ, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Bill and Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 4/8/20 Why The Pixel Shudders When It Perceives The Scroll

The Sad Puppies always predicted, for their own vindictive reasons, that the time would come when the internet fell on me. I never disagreed. I knew they were right. Today was that day.

(1) SAVING BOOKSTORES. In his latest e-newsletter Barry Hoffman, Publisher of Gauntlet Press, included this news about aid to crisis-affected indie bookstores:

  • James Patterson has donated $500,000 in partnership with the American Booksellers Association to help Independent bookstores (#SaveIndieBookstores).
  • Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, Mass., launched a GoFundMe campaign earlier this week after being closed to the public since March 17.
  • Annie Philbrick, owner of Bank Square Books in Mystic, Conn., and Savoy Bookshop & Cafe in Westerly, R.I., launched a GoFundMe campaign. Philbrick and her team are looking to raise $100,000, and raised over $10,000 on the fundraiser’s first day. Funds raised will go to payroll, utilities, liabilities and rent.
  • The Bookworm of Edwards in Edwards, Colo., launched a GoFundMe page. In the days since, store owner Nicole Magistro has managed to raise more than $62,000 out of a $75,000 goal. Since launching the campaign and appealing to customers, Magistro reported, online sales have jumped tremendously.

(2) WAIT A MINUTE, THAT WAS YOU? Veteran conrunner Laurie Mann also works as a movie extra: “Happy Tales from Set: The “Quiet” Jack Reacher Bus Scene”.

I’m a movie extra, paid for something like 30 different productions since 2008, and this turned out to be my favorite day on set…

… The movie came out in 2012, and I think the DVD came out in 2013.  I love to listen to director’s commentary, which, for this movie, was both the director, Christopher McQuarrie and the star, Tom Cruise.  When this scene came up, they both made a point of saying how hard the Pittsburgh extras worked on this movie!!  So what was another reason this scene was my favorite scene – not only was I in it, but I got to suggest three bits of business that the director used!

(3) SOMTOW’S LISTENING GUIDE. Somtow Sucharitkul lists “Programming on OperaSiamTV.com  that MIGHT be of interest to my friends in science fiction community” — all times GMT+7 (Thailand Time)

  • Thursday 8 pm with reruns midnight, Friday morning 8 am, 12 noon: by popular request, the Ultimate Star Wars Symphony Concert once again (this is all Thursday for L.A.)
  • Friday (Good Friday) 8 pm and 12 am plus 8 am and 12 noon a production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” from Bangkok, directed by Somtow
  • Saturday (for Passover) – first broadcast of Somtow’s opera about the Holocaust, Helena Citrónová 8 pm, 12 am, 8 pm, 12 noon
  • Sunday (Easter) same times — Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony
  • Monday (Songkraan, Thai Buddhist New Year) — marathon run of the first seven works in Somtow’s “Ten Lives of the Buddha” noon and midnight (this will run around 10 hours) — this probably has some interest in the fantasy crowd

(4) FOWL PLAY DELAYED. Shelf Awareness reports –

Disney has pulled its upcoming film Artemis Fowl, based on Eoin Colfer’s fantasy novels, from theatrical release and will debut the movie exclusively on its Disney+ streaming service sometime this summer. The Wrap reported that the move “comes as all theatrical releases are being shuffled around and delayed–some by as long as a year–while movie theaters remain closed during the coronavirus pandemic.”

(5) HOMEWORK. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna talks to comics creators Lynda Barry, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Paige Braddock, Faith Erin Hicks, and Dean Haspiel about how they are staying creative during the coronavirus pandemic.“5 tips to spark your creativity while working alone, from artists who do it all the time”.

1. Find an inspiring place to think

Many of [Jeff] Kinney’s familiar haunts are shuttered during the pandemic — including An Unlikely Story, the bookstore and cafe he owns in town. (Closed for nearly three weeks, the store had to cancel even Hillary Clinton’s scheduled tour stop.)

Sign up for our Coronavirus Updates newsletter to track the outbreak. All stories linked in the newsletter are free to access.

“Theoretically, the coronavirus quarantine shouldn’t affect a cartoonist’s productivity, because we’re experienced at working from home,” Kinney says. But “I’ve lost all my spaces in which I could generate ideas.”

So, he now spends his workdays parked at the local cemetery. Even his supplies and goodies support his creative routine.

(6) FISH IN A BARREL. National Review’s Jack Butler made me click, which I guess was the whole point. “Isaac Asimov’s Comforting Technocratic Fable”. Tagline: “The sci-fi great’s Foundation novels are an unrealistic depiction of free will, civilization, and crisis management.”

As leaders and those they govern struggle to confront the global challenges of COVID-19, wouldn’t it be nice if a hologram from the past spontaneously appeared with a pre-recorded message telling us exactly what to do? In Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels, that’s exactly what happens. First serialized as novellas in the sci-fi magazine Astounding Stories between 1942 and 1950 and published as proper novels in the early ’50s, the first three books in the Foundation series provide a superficially comforting tale of technocratic triumph. But they suffer from a failure in their central conceit that both renders the works fundamentally flawed and limits their utility for our own confusing time….

(7) KGB. Ellen Datlow and Matt Kressel announce:

Due to the NYC Coronavirus shutdown, there will be no in-person reading at the KGB Bar. Instead, we will live stream readings with April’s authors, Michael Cisco and Clay MacLeod Chapman on YouTube on April 15th, 2020, 7pm Eastern Time.

You can watch the readings live by clicking here.

If you wish to support the KGB Bar during the shutdown, you may do so here.

Michael Cisco

Michael Cisco published ten novels including The Divinity StudentThe Great LoverThe NarratorAnimal Moneyand Unlanguageand a short story collection called Secret Hours.  His short fiction has appeared in: The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited DiseasesLovecraft UnboundBlack WingsBlood and Other CravingsThe WeirdThe Grimscribe’s Puppets, and Aickman’s Heirs, among others.  He teaches at CUNY Hostos.

Clay McLeod Chapman

Clay McLeod Chapman is the author of The RemakingNothing UntowardCommencement, and several other novels. He has written the films The BoyHenley, and Late Bloomer. In the world of comics, he is the writer for Marvel’s ongoing series Scream: Curse of Carnage, as well as Iron Fist: Phantom LimbLazarettoSelf StorageEdge of Spider-Verse, and American Vampire, among others.  For more information, check out his website: www.claymcleodchapman.com

You can listen to podcasts of KGB readings here.

(8) THE WINTER LINE. George R.R. Martin said this was coming in “Crossovers and Cameos”. Now you can see a clip on YouTube.

I got a message from my friend Jonah Nolan last week. Jonah is one of the creators and showrunners of HBO’s WESTWORLD, along with his wife Lisa Joy, and he told me to be sure to catch Sunday’s episode, there might be something that would amuse me.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 8, 1912 John Carnell. British editor well regarded  for editing New Worlds two different times. He also edited Science Fantasy starting in the Fifties. After the magazines were sold off to another publisher, he left to create the New Writings in Science Fiction serieswhich ran until his death. Damien Broderick and John Boston have a two volume history of him entitled Building New Worlds, 1946-1959: The Carnell Era. (Died 1972.)
  • Born April 8, 1933 Cele Goldsmith. She was editor of Amazing Stories and Fantastic from 1958 to 1965 during which time Zelazny, Le Guin and Disch had their first published stories appeared in those magazines. She has given a special Hugo at Chicon III for editing Amazing Stories and Fantastic. (Died 2002.)
  • Born April 8, 1942 Douglas Trumbull, 78. Let’s call him a genius and leave it at that. He contributed to, or was fully responsible for, the special photographic effects of Close Encounters of the Third Kind2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Blade Runner, and directed the movies Silent Running and Brainstorm. And Trumbull was executive producer for Starlost
  • Born April 8, 1967 Cecilia Tan, 53. Editor, writer and founder of Circlet Press, which she says is the first press devoted to erotic genre fiction. It has published well over a hundred digital book to date with such titles as Telepaths Don’t Need Safewords and Other Stories from the Erotic Edge of SF/Fantasy (Wouldn’t Bester be surprised to learn that. I digress), Sex in the System: Stories of Erotic Futures, Technological Stimulation, and the Sensual Life of Machines and Genderflex: Sexy Stories on the Edge and In-Between. She has two series, Magic University and The Prince’s Boy
  • Born April 8, 1974 Nnedi Okorafor, 46. Who Fears Death won a World Fantasy Award for Best Novel.  Lagoon, an Afrofuturist novel, was followed by her amazing Binti trilogy. Binti won both a Nebula Award and a Hugo Award for best novella. Several of her works have been adapted for video, both in Africa and in North America. 
  • Born April 8, 1981 Taylor Kitsch, 39. You’ll possibly remember him as the lead in John Carter which I swear was originally titled John Carter of Mars. He also played Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and was Lieutenant Commander Alex Hopper in Battleship which was based off the board game.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Today’s Lio comes with a tip of the hat to H.G. Wells.
  • Nancy’s April Fools Day explanation of who (or what) she really is was too good to miss.

(11) IT IS THE END, MY FRIEND. CBR.com knows everybody would rather read a prediction of doom: “Coronavirus Could Be the Beginning of the End for Super Conventions”.

…Now, however, with the justifiable closure of these conventions due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s unclear how much we really need these super conventions. We’ve already started to see a trend of major studios skipping them. Marvel and Sony opted out of these events for the past couple years, and it’s not a stretch to say they might reconsider attending in the future.

As digital media has expanded, the convention model has become more and more antiquated. Today, companies can draw the same amount of hype with an online trailer release and press conference as they used to by premiering a trailer at Comic Con — and the online trailer is a lot less hassle. It also allows studios to control how much gets out about their upcoming releases, lets them limit press access and saves them the embarrassment of a poor fan reaction at a live show.

(12) BITE ME. Eater Los Angeles says this “Rad New LA Pizza Delivery Service Comes With Immersive At-Home Vampire Game”.

What’s better than getting a pizza delivered at home during the time of the coronavirus pandemic? How about a pizza delivered by an ageless vampire family, complete with mysterious clues and puzzles to solve along with those slices?

That’s precisely the idea behind Vampire Pizza, a new at-home interactive food experience in Los Angeles that has been designed specifically for this current COVID-19 quarantine life. The idea is simple: a ghost kitchen pizza company partners with experiential artists and producers who are also stuck at home to create a one-of-a-kind character and clues-based game that gets delivered to a customer’s doorstep this weekend. It’s basically dinner and a (personal) show.

(13) D’OH! “A Family in Lockdown Recreated The Simpsons Opening and It’s Absolutely Joyful”Io9 points the way.

(14) BORING SCIENCE. The Harvard University Press blog advises about “Responding to Boredom during Self-Isolation”.

… To make matters worse, isolation often goes hand in hand with the strain of monotony. The Norwegian-built ship Belgica was the first to overwinter in the Antarctic during its epic 1898 voyage. Despite facing numerous challenges, Frederick Cook, the onboard doctor, was particularly struck by the problem of isolation and monotony. “We are imprisoned in an endless sea of ice, and find our horizon monotonous. We have told all the tales, real and imaginative…time weighs heavily upon us as the darkness slowly advances,” was his grim description. Allegedly, one crewmember was so fed up he jumped ship proclaiming that he was going to walk home to Belgium across the ice!

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Every C3PO Costume Explained By Anthony Daniels” on YouTube is a 50-minute documentary done for WIRED in which Daniels describes every costume he wore in the nine Star Wars films and includes a lot of rare behind-the-scenes footage.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Rich Horton, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day David Shallcross.]

Demon with a Glass Hound 5/30

aka The Pup Who Circumnavigated Hugoland In A Slate Of His Own Making

The roundup includes Lela E. Buis, Samantha Noll, David Gerrold, Max Florschutz, Vox Day, Alexandra Erin, Jim McCoy, David Mack, Wei Ming Kam, Lis Carey, Pluviann, Chad Orzel, Bonnie McDaniel, Ursula Vernon, May Tree, Laurie Mann and less identifiable others. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Jim Henley and Alexandra Erin. Update: In case you’re keeping score at home, the subtitle is similar to one previously contributed by DMS, but not identical.)

Lela E. Buis

“SJWs in space” – May 30

The Puppies debate has some interesting facets, and it’s also an unusual opportunity to observe a little human behavior. One of the main accusations of the Puppies’ spokesmen Theodore Beale (aka Vox Day), Brad Torgersen and Larry Correia is that SF&F has been taken over by social justice warriors (aka SJW) who are pushing a liberal and literary agenda while forcing out old fashioned, right-leaning SF&F. I’ve just been reading about social justice, as it turns out. According to Professor Michael Reisch the definition of social justice is fairly open to question. This mutability means that different groups tend to co-opt the activist strategy and organize to advance their own definition of what social justice really is. Clearly, the Puppies have taken on the mantle and have now become social justice warriors, the very thing they have been loving to hate.

Samantha Noll on Dispatches from the Philosophy of Science Association’s Women’s Caucus

“A War of Words and Ideas: Philosophy, Science Fiction, and the Hugo Award Controversy” – May 30

So why is this important for society in general and for philosophers of science in particular? The answer to this question may become clearer when we reflect on why fringe groups are escalating their campaigns in science-fiction and other genres aimed at disenfranchising and silencing entire groups of people. As Kameron Hurley of The Atlantic argues “the truth is that our wars of words and narrative matter, especially those that tell us what sorts of possible futures we can build—and groups like Gamergate, Sad Puppies, and Rabid Puppies understand this.” During a time where the United States is becoming ever more diverse and citizens’ views ever more liberal, the push to suppress this trend is becoming ever more rabid, to appropriately apply Beale’s terminology. Barring those writing from diverse standpoints from receiving formal recognition helps to limit the exposure of these works and thus silences the authors. This is one of the reasons why it is important for those living in a democratic and multicultural society to ensure that those like Beale and Correia are not successful.

David Gerrold on Facebook – May 29

Worldcons, as we know them, have been around since 1939. Hugos have been awarded since 1953

Thousands of people have invested an enormous amount of time and energy into keeping the traditions of the World Science Fiction Convention going. Thousands have invested an enormous amount of time and energy in developing an award system designed to acknowledge excellence in the craft.

No award system is perfect — but it’s hard to argue with a system that has recognized the excellence of Dune, Left Hand Of Darkness, Starship Troopers, Ringworld, The Stars My Destination, Dragonflight, Stand On Zanzibar, Flowers For Algernon, City On The Edge Of Forever, Aye And Gomorrah, Blink, and other works that not only represent the best of the year — they also redefine what’s possible in the genre.

To some extent, there is an element of popularity in the voting. To some extent, there is an element of promotion by publishers and authors. To a larger extent, the problem with the Hugos is that the field has gotten so big and so sprawling that it’s impossible for any fan to be as widely read as in the past. This is why recommended reading lists are a great help.

There’s also a tradition of respect in fandom.

David Gerrold on Facebook – May 29

Some people have advocated going to Amazon and Goodreads and other sites to post one-star reviews of works by authors whose views they oppose.

Please, don’t do it.

It’s a failure of integrity.

If you’ve read the work, then post your honest opinion, good or bad. But punishing an author by down-voting his/her work — that’s not fair to the author, to the work, or to readers who are looking for useful reviews.

If you’re claiming to be one of the good guys, you gotta act like it.

Max Florschutz on Unusual Things

“I’m Not a Fan of Science-Fiction and Fantasy?” – May 30

I may not be a Science-Fiction and Fantasy fan.

Which is shocking. I always thought I was one. But no, according to a lot of these posts and comments I’m seeing and reading, I am not a “fan.” Or, to use the terms that some of the insulars have started to use, I am not a “trufan,” a term which, quite honestly, reminds me quite a bit of the ridiculous amount of self-inflicted (and mostly declarative) segregation in the gaming community between the “PC Master Race” and the “Console Gaming Peasants.” The console gamers aren’t really gamers, you see. They’re just casuals.

Caitlin on Devourer of Words

“Why I am voting for the Hugo Awards this year” – May 30

In general, I am disappointed that a small number of people think they have the right to dictate what the genres of sci-fi and fantasy consist of. In particular, people like Vox Day make me physically ill, and I don’t want promising new authors with awesome new ideas to leave the genre because of them. Vox Day in particular deserves to be defended against: this is a guy who doesn’t believe women should be allowed to vote…

 Vox Day onVox Popoli

“Eric Flint, SJW”

You know, we’ve wondered who was going to the new Hitler ever since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proved to be such a washout in that regard. My money was on Putin, so I had absolutely no idea it would turn out to be me. Someone get Hugo Boss on the line, we’re going to need some snappy new outfits for the VFM, stat! Let’s address the issues as Mr. Flint, real deal SJW, puts them forth.

  1. I don’t share Hitler’s views on race, as I have a basic grasp of human genetics and I am neither a eugenicist nor an Aryan supremacist.
  2. On the subject of Jews, I am a Zionist who edits and publishes the eminent Israeli military historian Dr. Martin van Creveld.
  3. I’m not opposed to women learning to read and write. I am opposed to women being encouraged to obtain advanced degrees in the place of husbands and children. Unlike Mr. Flint, I can do the demographic math.
  4. I don’t support honor killings. I never have.
  5. I don’t hide what I really believe. Mr. Flint claims to know what I really believe without me ever putting it into words because, and I quote, “peekaboo”. If anyone is “a fucking clown” here, it is observably Mr. Flint.
  6. I’m not trying to win Hugo Awards. I don’t care about winning awards.
  7. I have no delusions of grandeur. I’m not the one who keeps running to The Guardian, Entertainment Weekly, The New Zealand Herald, NPR, Popular Science, or the Wall Street Journal to talk about me. I haven’t issued a single press release or called a single member of the media about the Hugo Awards or anything else, for that matter.
  8. Western civilization is in peril. In large part thanks to idiots like Mr. Flint.
  9. I don’t like to portray myself with a flaming sword. That was the brainchild of the Star Tribune photographer who was taking pictures of me for a story the paper was doing. Apparently he was onto something, as it’s an image many people have remembered….

Alexandra Erin on Blue Author Is About To Write

“How big is the doghouse?” – May 30

So, Kate Paulk has been tapped as the standard-bearer of next year’s Sad Puppies campaign. She has declared that next year’s Hugo ballot-stuffing initiative will be done in a transparent and democratic manner. This does not fill one with confidence, since Brad Torgersen has made the same claims about this year’s ballot-stuffing initiative.

It also needs to be pointed out that it hardly matters who leads the Sad Puppies campaign or what they do or how they do it, as this year’s otherwise failed campaign only managed to achieve accidental relevance through the fact that the successful Rabid Puppies campaign largely copied and pasted their agenda.

With all that in mind, I have to say that I’m interested in Kate Paulk’s post about what she considers to be Hugo-worthy work only as an academic matter. If the list she assembles using it winds up being the ballot, it will likely be only because someone truly nasty as well as small-minded got behind her and started shoving, as happened this year.

Jim McCoy on Jimbos Awesome SFF Book and Movie Reviews

“Kate Paulk’s ConVent” – May 30

Before I get too far into the book, I wanted to mention Kate’s involvement with the Sad Puppies. She is next year’s evil, evil, evil ringleader. If you support evil, mean people who evilly think that you should evilly vote for good fiction written by evil people who evilly put story over message (because they’re evil) she’s worth supporting. Oh, and her book also kicks ass, but we’ll get to that in a minute. I just wanted to take a minute to give evil praise to Her Evilness, The Duchess of Snark. Does that make me evil? Probably. I’m OK with that. Now, onto the book.

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“The Ones Who Walk Away from Fandom” – May 30

It’s more than a little amusing. And those who walk away are the wise ones, because, as it has been sung:

Never kick a dog
Because it’s just a pup
You’d better run for cover when the pup grows up!

Wei Ming Kam on Fantasy Faction

“The pros and cons of the voting processes behind major SFF awards: Part 2” – May 31

This year, there is reportedly a massive upsurge in people buying supporting memberships of Sasquan, so basically people want to vote in the awards but have no interest in going to the con. Normally, the number of people who vote in the awards is small, so it’s reasonable to say that the upsurge is a result of the resentful manchildren making this year’s awards political. SADFACE. SAD SASQUATCH SADFACE.

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“The Revenge of Hump Day–Hugo Nominated Best Fanzine” – May 31

It’s all perfectly competently and clearly written. I’m sure it’s well-received by its intended audience. On the other hand, I don’t see any exceptional excellence.

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Sex Criminals Volume 1:One Weird Trick (Sex Criminals #1-5), by Matt Fraction (writer) Chip Zdarsky (artist)” – May 30

This one I did not expect to like. I got a surprise. It’s intelligent, thoughtful, does some really interesting things, and Suzie, as an adult, is a librarian, and a well-done librarian is always a win for me, Yes, it’s self-indulgent. So sue me.

Pluviann on The Kingfishers Nest

“On a Spiritual Plain – Lou Antonelli” – May 30

Imagine a great caravan of giant aliens travelling across a bleak and open plain, above them the most glorious auroral display fills the sky, and travelling with them is a human chaplain on a segway enclosed by faraday cage. This image comes from Lou Antonelli’s ‘On a Spiritual Plain’ and it deserves fanart. It’s the best part of the short story, and the idea of a faraday segway in particular really tickled me.

Award-Winning Reading

“Best Fan Artist” – May 28

Fun fact: I almost voted No Award for this entire category. Now I’m voting for Elizabeth Leggett and No Award for everything else. I went looking at each nominees website to make sure that I was looking at everything that is award eligible. Ninni Aalto, Brad W. Foster and Steve Stiles all have similar styles (to my very untrained eye) that just does not appeal to me. Add in that I didn’t find the subject matter that interesting, and there is no reason for me to vote for any of them. I like that Spring Schoenhuth’s work consists mostly of jewelry. I don’t really recognize most of it though, and again the style doesn’t really appeal to me, so I won’t vote for her.

Award Winning Reading

“Totaled by Kary English” – May 29

There is some science talk in this story, but it was unobtrusive and easy to understand. It was just enough to give the story weight without pulling attention away from the storyline. The writing is beautiful. Descriptive, but concise. It really drew me into the story in a way that I was not expecting.

Award-Winning Reading

“On a Spiritual Plain by Lou Antonelli” – May 28

I liked the writing style. Not overly wordy but descriptive enough to ground the reader. I do also like that the story made me confront the idea that I decided what the story was about when I was halfway through and then got mad when it didn’t follow like I thought it should. While I’m a bear to be around when that happens, I like to be reminded that authors can do whatever they please without catering to my idea of what it should be.

Chad Orzel on Uncertain Principles

“Hugo Reading: Not-Novels” – May 30

In the short fiction categories, two of the longer nominees were weirdly incomplete. “Flow” by Arlan Andrews and “Championship B’Tok” by Edward Lerner are perfectly fine, but just… stop. I wouldn’t object to reading more in either setting, say if these were the introductory chapters of longer novels, but as self-contained stories, they’re kind of lacking.

“The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale” by Rajnar Vajra is a complete alien-contact story, and good enough in a Heinlein-pastiche sort of vein. It’s maybe a little shaggy, but it’s enjoyable enough. “The Day the World Turned Upside Down” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt is kind of stupid and pointless, featuring a world where gravity literally reverses itself after the narrator gets dumped. I’m not sure it’s all that much more stupid and pointless than last year’s “The Water That Falls On You From Nowhere,” though, and that ended up winning, so…

“A Single Samurai” by Steven Diamond is built around the nice image of a samurai climbing up the back of a mountain-sized monster in an attempt to kill it, but doesn’t quite pay off, and the bits where the narrator explains samurai stuff were kind of tedious. “Totaled” by Kary English may have been the best of the lot, a brain-in-a-vat story that had some genuine emotional content.

I don’t think any of these are brilliant, but I didn’t find any of them strikingly awful, either (“The Day The World Turned Upside Down” comes closest, but remained at “sigh heavily but keep reading” rather than “close the file and move on to the next thing”). I suspect there were probably better stories out there, but I say that almost every year that I read the short-fiction nominees, so…

Adult Onset Atheist

“Don’t crush THAT Hugo, hand me the SNARL” – May 30

Decades later I would find out that “Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers” did not barely lose out to “No Award”, and that “Blows Against the Empire “ by Jefferson Starship had actually come in second place. I know that the Jefferson Starship supergroup that put out “Blows Against the Empire” was not really the same band that “Built This City” in  1985 (“Worst song of the 80s” by a Rolling Stone Reader’s poll), but the fact that they had the same name, and several of the same members, makes me think it was better that “No Award” won in that year. In addition to the dubious distinctions of most “No Award” winners, and for propelling films like “Flesh Gordon” (nominated 1975) to prominence, the Best Dramatic Presentation has been a place where stories too far ahead of their time could be reconsidered in a digested visual format some of the members of fandom could better relate to.

Bonnie McDaniel on Red Headed Femme

“The Hugo Project: ‘Wisdom From My Internet’” – May 30

I picked “Wisdom From My Internet” to review first, mainly to see if all the rumblings I’ve heard about it are true, and it is indeed the worst thing to disgrace the ballot in decades.

May I be perfectly frank for a moment?

Great Cthulhu, kill me now.

What the hell is this shit?

I really don’t want to hurt Michael Z. Williamson’s feelings, but I’m afraid it’s going to be unavoidable.

May Tree in a comment on File 770 – May 29

Voting for Noms On a Summer Evening

Whose noms these are I think I know.
His blog is quite a silly show;
He will not see me stopping here
His lousy choices to forego.

My Siamese Cat must think it queer
To stop without a Hugo near
But I must set aside this slate
And vote again another year.

These stories, at best second-rate,
Were stuffed by Pups (and GamerGate?!)
The rockets they would try to sweep
Their wounded egos to inflate.

The Puppy Poop is much too deep,
My sanity I’ll have to keep,
And “No Award” before I sleep,
And “No Award” before I sleep.

Laurie Mann on Facebook – May 30

This is not a joke. This group, Snarky Puppy, is playing in the INB Theater 3 months after the Hugo Awards are presented in the same building.  http://www.inbpac.com/event.php?eventID=270

Snarky Puppy

Confluence 2013 Cancelled

Laurie Mann has announced the cancellation of Confluence 2013. The Pittsburgh convention was scheduled for July 19-21 weekend. This would have been its 25th anniversary.

The con had changed hotels a couple of months ago in response to a hike in the cost of function place. Now the replacement plans to close in July, just four days before Confluence was to have happened. The committee looked again but couldn’t find the right hotel for its needs.

Smofcon Ripples

Smofcon 27 was held in Austin over the weekend and produced plenty of interesting news.

This year’s Worldcon, Anticipation, distributed checks for pass-along surplus funds, $17,000 each to Aussiecon 4 and Renovation, and is holding another $17,000 for the winning 2012 bid. 

There presently is only one 2012 Worldcon bid, for Chicago. During Smofcon the bid committee revealed it has chosen Dave McCarty to chair the Worldcon if they win. He is beginning to set up the committee structure.

Bidders for future Smofcons made presentations. The two bids for Smofcon 2011 are Maui (James Daugherty and Bobbi Armbruster) and Amsterdam (Vince Docherty, presented by Steve Cooper).  There also is a bid to hold Smofcon in Pennsylvania in 2012, either in Pittsburgh or Philadelphia (Laurie Mann and Joni Dashoff).

Snapshots

Wired reports the Army is moving ahead with plans for a laser cannon What next, the U.S.S. Death Star?

All the winners of the 2008 Mythopoeic Awards are listed at SF Award Watch.

There’s already a DVD of Denvention 3 Masquerade photos for sale. The committee expects to offer a DVD of the Hugo Ceremony this fall. And Laurie Mann has posted a vast collection of links to Denvention 3 news, blog and photo coverage.

Want to help with next year’s Worldcon? Anticipation’s volunteer form is online.

Keith Stokes reports on his January 2008 trip to Costa Rica, with beautiful photos, here.

And Keith takes you along on his March 2008 trip to Kansas and Nebraska, featuring Rocky Mountain Oysters, here.

Fast-Forward did a total of five podcasts from Denvention 3.

Peter Glaskowsky, a frequent contributor to Chaos Manor Reviews and attendee at 16 Worldcons, has a post about ebooks and Digital Management Rights on CNET.

Hugo-winner Michael Chabon’s affectonate comments about SF and alternate history can be found in articles at the Los Angeles Times, the UK’s Times Online, and the New York Review of Books.

[Links via David Klaus, Isaac Alexander, Rick Moen, Laurie D. T. Mann and Michael Kennedy.]