Pixel Scroll 11/14/18 Ask Not For Whom The Files Scroll

Power was off here for 8 hours while they replaced a utility pole – fortunately the rest of you kept sending stuff!

(1) GRRM DEALS WILD CARDS TO TV. Tor.com says “George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards Universe Finds a Home at Hulu”

The Hollywood Reporter dropped big news for GRRM fans yesterday; the Wild Cards series, helmed by Martin and Melinda Snodgrass, and featuring stories from many SFF luminaries, is coming to Hulu.

Hulu and Universal Cable Productions are near to a deal that would create a writers room for Wild Cards, helmed by Andrew Miller. The intent is to begin with two series and potentially expand to more, with Martin, Melinda Snodgrass, and Vince Gerardis executive producing the lot.

(2) ARISIA GOHS PUNISHED. Did you know Amazing Stories was sponsoring the 2019 NASFiC’s Fan Guests of Honor Bjo and John Trimble? Well, if you didn’t, never mind, they aren’t anymore — “Amazing Stories Withdraws Trimble’s NASFiC Sponsorship”. And why is that? Steve Davidson thinks it’s bad publicity for Amazing to be associated with people who are also going to be guests at Arisia 2019 — apparently, even worse publicity than Amazing will receive from making this announcement.

Today, November 14th, The Experimenter Publishing Company reluctantly announces that it has formally rescinded its NASFiC Fan GoH sponsorship of John and Bjo Trimble, following the Trimble’s decision to remain Guests of Honor of the Arisia 2019 convention.

In December of 2017 at the Boston SMOFcon, Steve Davidson (Experimenter Publisher) met Kate Hatcher, chair of the 2019 Utah NASFiC bid.  Utah won the bid and The Experimenter Publishing Company was approached as a potential sponsor for the as yet unnamed Fan GoH.  Following brief discussions, Experimenter agreed to cover the costs associated with the attendance and promotional efforts typically incurred.

… The Trimbles initially announced that they would be attending Arisia.  When I learned of this, I wrote to Kate Hatcher of the Utah NASFiC and subsequently to Bjo Trimble, explaining that The Experimenter Publishing Company and Amazing Stories could not be associated with nor support Arisia under the current circumstances and, since one purpose of their trip to the convention was to promote the NASFiC as sponsored by Amazing Stories, I felt that I had no choice but to withdraw their sponsorship should they choose to attend….

(3) HAZARDOUS SFF TOYS. W.A.T.C.H. (World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc.) has released their 2018 list of “10 worst toys” for the holiday season (press release here and more about each toy starting here). Cited issues include choking, ingestion, cutting, blunt force, and eye damage hazards. A majority of the toys have sff or science themes. The full list is:

  • Nickelodeon Nella Princess Knight Pillow Pets Sleeptime Lites
  • Nerf Vortex VTX Praxis Blaster
  • Marvel Black Panther Slash Claw
  • Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel Superstar Blade
  • Cabbage Patch Kids Dance Time Doll
  • Zoo Jamz Xylophone
  • Nici Wonderland Doll: Miniclara The Ballerina
  • Stomp Rocket Ultra Rocket
  • Cutting Fruit
  • Chien Á Promener Pull Along Dog

(4) BEFORE LITTLE NEMO. Titan Comics is publishing McCay, an “invented biography” chronicling authentic — though only partially true — stories of the life of the “father of animation” Winsor McCay, in which “McCay’s life is enriched by an imaginary encounter with British mathematician and science fiction writer Charles Hinton…and glimpses of the fourth dimension.” Release date is November 20.

(5) KICKSTARTER SPRINT. Fireside Fiction has launched a short crowdfunding campaign for “Hope In This Timeline”, a collection of short spec fiction stories about finding hope in difficult times curated by Meg Frank.

This reality is bonkers, and keeping up, let alone keeping your spirits up is really hard. Team Fireside thought we’d insert a little hope into the mix. We collected stories by Lee S. Bruce, Beth Cato, Gillian Daniels at midnight EST and in addition to the collection we’ve got some rad backer rewards like an enamel pin designed by Team Fireside and original artwork by Sara Eileen Hames.

They have raised $3,845 of their $7,000 goal with two days to go.

(6) G. WILLOW WILSON INTERVIEW. She starts her run on the DC icon this month — “Ms. Marvel’s G. Willow Wilson reflects on the political side of Wonder Woman”.

Wonder Woman is unavoidably this icon of feminism and of diversity and, to an extent, any Wonder Woman story can’t escape the broader context of her as a fictional element in the wider world. You just look at her becoming a figurehead for the UN, and the backlash to that, and the weight that we place on her as a fictional character. And certainly there’s a lot of conversation about issues of feminism and diversity just in the comics world right now. Do you feel that the presence of that context when you’re writing her?

Yes, absolutely. I think those of us, especially in the United States, who grew up with these characters, tend to assume a kind of universality to them. We assume that the ideals that they represent are universal across time and space and culture; that everybody can relate to them the same way that we do; that the things that they say and they think, their costumes, all of this stuff — is a universal human expression of justice.

And it’s not always the case. That’s not always the case. And I think now that we are really interconnected across the globe, and in social media, to the press, through the globalization of pop culture, we’re asking much bigger questions about these characters then we might have before, when they were a uniquely American phenomenon. And so it’s something that I’m always conscious of.

And it does, I think, make one’s job as a storyteller more interesting, because we’re now dealing with these characters who have a much broader reach than they might have 60 years ago. Yet by that same token, they’re no longer as universal and that’s a very interesting paradox.

[That’s] part of why I wanted to start out my run on the series in the way that I do: asking, “What is justice in this very different context?” Is there such a thing as a just war in a time when war is no longer about two armies facing each other across the battlefield, and it’s more about proxy wars and asymmetrical warfare and civilian casualties? And all of these different warring perspectives where there is no clear, black-and-white good guy and bad guy? And not shy away from that stuff. It’s a tall order, but I think it’s never been more necessary to ask those questions

(7) PATTEN TRIBUTES. Lee Gold has assembled a LASFS memorial page for Fred Patten that includes this quote from David Gerrold:

Fred was a treasure. You could turn to him and say, “I remember a story about a … etc.” and he would not only identify it by title and author, but where it was published. He was an incredible resource. I admired his encyclopedic knowledge of the field. He was classic old-school fandom. I am so sorry to hear of his passing.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • November 14, 1883 — Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island is published as a one-volume book.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • November 14, 1907 Astrid Lindgren. Creator of the Pippi Longstocking series and, at least in the States, lesser known Emil i Lönneberga, Karlsson-on-the-Roof, and the Six Bullerby Children series as well. In January 2017, she was calculated to be the world’s 18th most translated author, and the fourth-most-translated children’s writer after Enid Blyton, H. C. Andersen and the Brothers Grimm. There have been at least forty video adaptations of her works over the decades mostly in Swedish but Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter (Sanzoku no Musume R?nya in English transliteration) was an animated series in Japan recently. (Died 2002.)
  • November 14, 1930 – Lt. Col. Ed White, Engineer, Pilot, and Astronaut who was the first American to walk in space during the Gemini 4 flight, for which he was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. He and his crewmates Virgil “Gus” Grissom and Roger B. Chaffee died as a result of a catastrophic fire in the command module during a launch test for Apollo 1, which was to have been the first manned Apollo mission. (Died 1967.)
  • November 14, 1932Alex Ebel. He did the poster for the first Friday the 13th film, and his cover illustration for The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin published by Ace Books in 1975 is considered one of the best such illustrations done. I’m also very impressed with The Dispossessed cover he did as well as his Planet of Exile cover too. His work for magazines includes Heavy MetalSpace Science Fiction and Fantastic Story Magazine. (Died 2013.)
  • November 14, 1951 – Beth Meacham, 67, Writer, Editor, and Critic who is best known for the many award-nominated and winning authors and books she has brought to SFF fans in her decades as editor at Ace and Tor, including Tim Powers’ The Anubis Gates and Greg Bear’s Blood Music. She has been a finalist for the Best Editor Hugo numerous times – but what JJ found especially interesting are her Hugo nominations for Best Related Book, as a collaborator on A Reader’s Guide to Fantasy, and on Vincent Di Fate’s Catalog of Science Fiction Hardware. She has been Editor Guest of Honor at several conventions, including next year’s World Fantasy Convention.
  • November 14, 1951 – Sandahl Bergman, 67, Actor, Stuntperson, and Dancer who appeared in several Broadway shows and gained prominence when choreographer Bob Fosse cast her in Pippin and Dancin’, and then in his fantasy dance film All That Jazz. She played Valeria in Conan the Barbarian – for which she won a Saturn Award – and Queen Gedren in Red Sonja. She was one of the nine muses in the fantasy musical Xanadu, and starred in She, a post-apocalyptic movie based on H. Rider Haggard’s novel She: A History of Adventure. Other genre appearances include Hell Comes to Frogtown, Revenge on the Highway, TekWar: TekJustice, Ice Cream Man, and Sorceress II, and guest roles on Sliders and Hard Time on Planet Earth.
  • November 14, 1959 Paul McGann, 59. Yes he only did one film as the eighth incarnation of the Doctor in the 1996 Doctor Who television film, but that role he has reprised in more than seventy audio dramas and the 2013 short film entitled “The Night of the Doctor”. Other genre appearances include Alien 3FairyTale: A True StoryQueen of the Damned and Lesbian Vampire Killers.
  • November 14, 1963 – Cat Rambo, 55, Writer and Editor, who co-edited Fantasy Magazine from 2007 to 2011, which earned her a World Fantasy Special Award nomination. Her fantasy and science fiction works have been recognized with Nebula, Endeavour, and Compton Crook Award nominations. She has been an ardent gamer since the days of Pong and Chainmail, and was one of the developers of Armageddon (MUD). Her alter identity is as President, since 2015, of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), which has enjoyed an unprecedented amount of visibility and transparency to fandom and non-members under her guidance; in addition to letting the rest of us get a better understanding of “how the sausage gets made”, the organization has continued its evolution by adding a mentorship program, Nebula voting rights for Associate Members, and a Gamewriting category to the Nebula Awards.
  • November 14, 1969 – Daniel J. Abraham, 49, Writer and Producer. He has published several fantasy series under his own name, as well as under M. L. N. Hanover and Daniel Hanover;  his solo works include the Long Price Quartet (about which Jo Walton has waxed enthusiastic), and the Black Sun’s Daughter and Dagger and the Coin quintologies, as well as numerous short works in GRRM’s Wild Cards universe. But let’s get to the leviathan in the room: he is one half of James S. A. Corey – a pen name which derives from his middle name and that of his collaborator, Ty (Corey) Franck, and his daughter’s initials – a team responsible for the bestselling Expanse novels and popular TV series. The first novel, Leviathan Wakes, was a Hugo finalist, and the episode of the same name won a Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation; the novel series itself was a finalist for the Best Series Hugo Award in the year of its inception. He has also collaborated on comic books for various GRRM properties, including Game of Thrones.
  • November 14, 1979 – Olga Kurylenko, 39, Actor born in the Ukraine who is probably best known for her genre-adjacent role in Quantum of Solace, which earned her a Saturn nomination. She’s had several roles in movies based on comic books: Hitman, Max Payne, the Belgian Largo Winch, and the regrettably plothole-ridden Oblivion. She played The Vampire in Paris, Je t’Aime, and had appearances in Tyranny, Vampire Academy, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, Mara, and the probably-never-to-be-released epic fantasy Empires of the Deep.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Off the Mark is just kidding, but you’ll never look at your bookshelves quite the same way again.
  • This In the Bleachers shows the importance of correct spelling in horror.

(11) STEAM TO MARS. Online play will become an option for a top-rated board game says Ars Technica: “Review: Super-hot board game Terraforming Mars goes digital”.

Terraforming Mars is one of the most popular heavy strategy games of the last two years (read our 2016 review); it earned a nomination for the Kennerspiel des Jahres (expert’s “game of the year”), losing to the very good but much simpler Exit: The Game series. It’s currently ranked #4 on BoardGameGeek’s master ranking of all board games, a ranking that tends to skew towards complex games that eschew luck in favor of strategy and engine building.

Now, an adaptation from Asmodee Digital brings the game to Windows via Steam. (Android and iOS ports are coming soon.) The Windows port offers local play, online multiplayer, and a solo challenge mode that functions as a good learning tool in addition to providing a strong single-player experience.

(12) BABYLON BERLIN. The Berlin Sci-Fi FiImfest takes place November 16-17.

Last year we screened 66 films from 21 countries and had over 600 visitors. This year the festival will have 144 features as Berlin Sci-fi Filmfest takes over the Babylon Cinema.

Berlin Sci-fi Filmfest is pleased to announce the inclusion of the following:

Simon Lejeune aka Haedre, Berlin based Artist, painter, illustrator and comic author will take up residency and his exhibition will be featuring new works along with original comic pages.

Hans Hanfner, A Berlin based composer who wrote music for the award winning series Danni Lowinski and Allein gegen die Zeit will discuss the scoring workflow used in Babylon Berlin and discuss the tools and techniques used that made working with a team across the world possible.

Irrlicht e.V. is an association that supports fantastic culture, role-playing, tabletop and board games. They are committed players who meet regularly in Berlin and around the country and offer all those interested in the opportunity to experience fantastic culture and art and of course to play.

And as for Cosplay, we welcome back Anette Pohlke and the Film Fan Force team, who will be providing our guests with ample photo opportunity to pose with some of their favourite fan film characters from Star Wars to Star Trek to Guardians of the Galaxy.

(13) SHED A TEAR. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Artist Thomas Ollivier (aka Tom le French) has re-imagined modern technology as if it had been developed pre-internet. The Verge’s Ashley Carman was particular taken by them (“We’re charmed by these tech products, reimagined for a simpler time”) though there seems something quite sad about the perpetually blinking “No Likes” display on the Facebook-branded pager. For myself, I’m at least as taken by his Cosmo Kids portfolio of kids from around the world, all dressed as if for astronaut’s official photos. Of those, Ollivier says “These portraits depict kids as agents of change.  There’s no more powerful fuel on the planet than a kid’s imagination.”

(14) COP A PLEA. NPR reports “Man Who Made Fatal ‘Swatting’ Hoax Call Pleads Guilty To 51 Charges”.

Tyler Barriss, 26, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to making a false report resulting in a death, after he placed a hoax call late last year that resulted in police fatally shooting an unarmed man in Wichita, Kan.

Barriss pleaded guilty to a total of 51 charges as part of a plea deal. He will be sentenced in January, The Associated Press reports.

Prosecuting U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister told The Wichita Eagle he will recommend that Barriss be sentenced to 20 years in prison, providing he writes apology letters to police, dispatchers and the family of Andrew Finch, a 28-year-old father of two who was shot by police who responded to the hoax call in December.

(15) EXO MARKS THE SPOT. “Exoplanet discovered around neighbouring star” – the second-closest ever found. (If we leave right away we can get there in… never mind.)

The planet’s mass is thought to be more than three times that of our own, placing it in a category of world known as “super-Earths”.

It orbits Barnard’s star, which sits “just” six light-years away.

(16) JOURNEY TO THE SURFACE OF THE EARTH. “Greenland ice sheet hides huge ‘impact crater'” — scroll down for discussion of entanglement with current recent-extinction hypotheses.

If the impact was right at near-end of the age window then it will surely re-ignite interest in the so-called Younger Dryas impact hypothesis.

The Younger Dryas was a period of strong cooling in the middle of the climatic warming that occurred as the Earth emerged from the height of last ice age.

Some have argued that an asteroid impact could have been responsible for this cooling blip – and the accompanying extinction of many animal groups that occurred at the same time across North America.

Others, though, have been critical of the hypothesis, not least because no crater could be associated with such an event. The Hiawatha depression is likely now to fan the dying embers of this old debate

(17) POSTED TO ORBIT. “Rocket Lab’s Modest Launch Is Giant Leap for Small Rocket Business” – the New York Times has the story.

A small rocket from a little-known company lifted off Sunday from the east coast of New Zealand, carrying a clutch of tiny satellites. That modest event — the first commercial launch by a U.S.-New Zealand company known as Rocket Lab — could mark the beginning of a new era in the space business, where countless small rockets pop off from spaceports around the world. This miniaturization of rockets and spacecraft places outer space within reach of a broader swath of the economy.

The rocket, called the Electron, is a mere sliver compared to the giant rockets that Elon Musk, of SpaceX, and Jeffrey P. Bezos, of Blue Origin, envisage using to send people into the solar system. It is just 56 feet tall and can carry only 500 pounds into space.

…The Electron, Mr. Beck said, is capable of lifting more than 60 percent of the spacecraft that headed to orbit last year. By contrast, space analysts wonder how much of a market exists for a behemoth like SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, which had its first spectacular launch in February.

A Falcon Heavy can lift a payload 300 times heavier than a Rocket Lab Electron, but it costs $90 million compared to the Electron’s $5 million. Whereas SpaceX’s standard Falcon 9 rocket has no shortage of customers, the Heavy has only announced a half-dozen customers for the years to come.

(18) YOU’RE INVITED TO THE SHOWER. NPR tells you where to “Watch The Leonid Meteor Shower This Weekend”.

This year the shower of shooting stars is expected to peak late Saturday night and into Sunday morning.

Always occurring in mid-November, an average of about 15 meteors per hour streak across the night sky during the shower’s yearly peak, according to NASA.

The cascade will be competing with a waxing gibbous moon, so the best time to watch is after the moon has set but before dawn.

NASA suggests finding a viewing site far away from city or street lights and giving your eyes time to adjust to the darkness.

(19) TORUS TORUS TORUS. Vice claims “Apparently, Some People Believe the Earth Is Shaped Like a Donut” – which makes for some interesting astronomical GIF illustrations, like the one that explains the motion of the moon.

Yes, some people on the internet are arguing that Earth is neither flat, nor spherical, but torus-shaped, which is a fancy science word for something that looks like a donut. The idea first appeared on FlatEarthSociety.org in a 2008 thread started by a mysterious figure named Dr. Rosenpenis as a joke, but it was fleshed out in detail by FES trailblazer Varaug in 2012.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/15/18 It’s The Wrong Pixel, Gromit, And It’s Scrolled Wrong

(1) WHAT GEEZERS SAY. James Davis Nicoll’s twist on his previous series theme, Old People Read New SFF, finds the panel assigned “Carnival Nine” by Caroline M. Yoachim.

This month’s installment of Old People Read New SFF is Caroline M. Yoachim’s award nominated Carnival 9, an endearing tale of clockwork people second cousin to children’s toys and inevitable, implacable mortality. The Hugo nominated it garnered suggests reader appeal and the fact that it was also nominated for a Nebula means professionals enjoyed (or at least appreciated) it was well. But will my Old People find it worth reading?

Carnival 9 can be read here.

(2) CSI MARS. The Atlantic is already worried about “How Will Police Solve Murders on Mars?”

Christyann Darwent is an archaeologist at the University of California at Davis. Darwent does her fieldwork in the Canadian High Arctic, a place so frigid and remote that it has been used as a training ground to prepare astronauts for future missions to Mars. Darwent’s expertise in how organic materials break down in extreme environmental conditions gives her unique insights into how corpses might age on the Red Planet.

As we speculated about the future of Martian law enforcement, Darwent emphasized that her expertise remains firmly terrestrial; her husband, she joked, is the one who reads science fiction. Nevertheless, Darwent brought a forensic angle to the subject, noting that nearly everything about a criminal investigation would be different on the Red Planet. She described how animal carcasses age in the Arctic, for example: One side of the body, exposed to high winds and extreme weather, will be reduced to a bleached, unrecognizable labyrinth of bones, while the other, pressed into the earth, can often be almost perfectly preserved. Think of Ötzi, she said, the so-called “Iceman,” discovered in a European glacier 5,300 years after his murder. Ötzi’s body was so well preserved that his tattoos were still visible. Murderers on Mars might have their hands full: The bodies of their victims, abandoned in remote canyons or unmapped caves, could persist in the Martian landscape “in perpetuity,” Darwent suggested.

(3) TAKING THE INITIATIVE. The Hugo Award Book Club reviews a book delivered at Worldcon 76 in “Showcasing the strength of Mexicanx Science Fiction”.

In a time where the American government separates and imprisons migrant families, hearing from those who live and engage with the Mexico-US borderlands on a personal level couldn’t be more relevant.

Fresh off the presses in time for WorldCon76, the Mexicanx Initiative’s bilingual anthology Una Realidad más Amplia: Historias desde la Periferia Bicultural/A Larger Reality: Speculative Fiction from the Bicultural Margins celebrates the diversity of Mexicanx writers who create science fiction, fantasy and horror. Born of a Kickstarter project, the book includes twelve short stories and one comic in both Spanish and English, with an ebook version on the way.

(4) POWER OF WORDS. Simini Blocker’s site includes a series of posters about reading that use quotes from George R.R. Martin, C.S. Lewis, Lemony Snicket, Albert Einstein, Annie Dillard, Anna Quindlen, Cassandra Clare, etc.

(5) LALLY IN CHINA. At Vector, a photo gallery of Dave Lally’s visit to Chengdu, China: “Dave in Chengdu”.

This July, our roving Membership Officer Dave Lally spent four days Chengdu, Sichuan province, China, participating in the Science Fiction Sharing Conference. Here are just a few snaps from the trip.

(6) LISTENING TO THE GOLDS. LASFSians and renowned filkers Lee and Barry Gold were intereviewed by Edie Stern for Fanac.org. Hear the audio and see illustrative photos at YouTube.

Lee and Barry Gold tell stories about Los Angeles fandom and filking in the 1960s. In this audio recording enhanced with images, there are charming anecdotes about Poul and Karen Anderson, LASFS, and a great story about Bruce Pelz and Ted Johnstone obtaining permission from John Myers Myers to print the “Silverlock” songs. Lee and Barry tell how they got into fandom, and the interview also includes snatches of song from filks of the time as well as a discussion on where the word “filk” came from. The audio was captured in San Jose at Worldcon 76, and is enhanced with 35 images.

 

(7) ASHES SCATTERED. Martin Tays posted a photo of the moment on Facebook.

A final farewell to Poul Anderson and Karen Anderson. Their ashes were scattered today in Puget Sound from on board the Schooner Zodiac, sailing out of Bellingham, Washington.

(8) MERTON OBIT. Actress Zienia Merton (1945-2018) passed away September 13. She memorably played Space: 1999’s Sandra Benes, Data Analyst on Moonbase Alpha. See photos at Moonbase Central.

(9) SUTTON OBIT. Dudley Sutton (1933-2018): British actor, died September 15, aged 85. Genre appearances include The Avengers (one episode, 1968), Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (two episodes, 1970 and 2000), The Devils (1971), The Glitterball (1977), The Island (1980), Brimstone & Treacle (1982), The Comic Strip Presents… (‘Slags’, 1984), The House (1984), A State of Emergency (1986), Screen One (‘1996’, 1989), Orlando (1992), Delta Wave (two episodes, 1996), Highlander (one episode, 1997), The Door (2011), Ripper Tour (2018), Steven Berkoff’s Tell Tale Heart (completed 2017, but not yet released), A Midsummer Night’s Dream and When the Devil Rides Out (both currently in post-production).

(10) BLAY OBIT. The New York Times says the creator of the videocassette movie industry has died:

Andre Blay, 81, whose innovative idea of marketing Hollywood movies on videocassettes sparked an entertainment industry bonanza and a revolution in television viewing, died on Aug. 24 in Bonita Springs, Fla. He was 81….

But in 1977 Mr. Blay was able to persuade Fox to make a deal under which he would duplicate and distribute 50 of the studio’s most successful films, including “M*A*S*H” and “The French Connection.” The relatively high initial retail price of movies on videocassettes prompted an unexpected proliferation of video rental stores, from neighborhood businesses to sprawling chains like Blockbuster. As the price of recorders plummeted to about $500 from about $1,000, sales boomed, and so, to some people’s surprise, did rentals. By 1987 home video was generating more revenue than movie-theater ticket sales.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 15, 1949The Lone Ranger TV series debuted.
  • September 15, 1965 — The original Lost in Space premiered on television – theme by ”Johnny Williams.”

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 15, 1890 – Agatha Christie. Ok, according to Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction –

Christie wrote several short stories with supernatural elements – some collected, together with orthodox nonseries detections, in The Hound of Death (coll 1933) – and created a kind of sentimental Occult Detective [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] for The Mysterious Mr. Quin (coll 1930). In these stories the shadowy and elusive Harley Quin (the “harlequin” pun is deliberate and explicit) does not so much detect as use his presumably occult information to steer a mundane friend, Mr Satterthwaite, towards the insight required to explain a crime; the misleadingly titled The Complete Quin & Satterthwaite: Love Detectives (omni 2004) includes two long Hercule Poirot investigations featuring Satterthwaite but not Quin. Christie was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1971.

  • Born September 15, 1943 – John M. Faucette. Harlem born and raised genre writer who published four novels in the Sixties, two apparently as Ace Doubles. I wish I could tell you more about him but scant information now exists about him alas.
  • Born September 15 – Norman Spinrad, 78. Writer of many genre novels including Bug Jack BarronGreenhouse Summer and The People’s Police.  Wrote the script for “The Doomsday Machine” for Star Trek: The Original Series; also wrote episodes for Land of the Lost and Werewolf. His very early reviews are collected in Science Fiction in the Real World which was published in 1990.
  • Born September 15 – Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, 76. Writer, composer, demographic cartographer. Genre works include the very long running Count Saint-Germain vampire series, the Vildecaz Talents series and a number of other works listed as genre but which I’m not familiar with so I’m not certain that they are. Her site notes that she’s ‘Divorced, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area – with two cats: the irrepressible Butterscotch and Crumpet, the Gang of Two.’
  • Born September 15 – Howard Waldrop, 74. Primarily a short story writer so much of his work is unfortunately out of print though iBooks lists ePubs for Horse of a Different Color right now along with two other Small Beer published collections. I rather like The Texas-Israeli War: 1999 novel he co-wrote with Jake Saunders. His “The Ugly Chickens” amusingly enough won a Nebula for Best Novelette and a World Fantasy Award for Short Fiction.
  • Born September 15 – Loren D. Estleman, 66. You’ll have noticed that I’ve an expansive definition of genre and so I’m including a trilogy of  novels by this writer who’s better known for his mainstream mysteries featuring Amos Walker which are set in the  Sherlock Holmes Metaverse, Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes and The Devil and Sherlock Holmes. I think it was Titan Book that maybe a decade ago republished a lot of these Holmesian pastiches of which there are more than I want to think about.
  • Born September 15 – Jane Lindskold, 56. Let’s see… I see a number of genre undertakings including Artemis, Athanor, Breaking the Wall and the Firekeeeper series. She’s done a lot of excellent stand-alone fiction novels including Child of a Rainless Year, Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls and The Buried Pyramid. She either edited or greatly expanded (depending on your viewpoint) two novels by Roger Zelazny, Donnerjack which I love and Lord Demon which thrills me less. Her latest I believe is Asphodel which she sent me an ebook to read and it is quite good.

(13) COMIC SECTION.

  • Over the Hedge explains how to get people interested in the space program.

(14) QUANTUM LEAP. That’s right, there could be a perfectly sensible explanation for a friend’s strange behavior, like this —

(15) BEHIND THE CURTAIN. Cora Buhlert visited 1963 to report on a recent East German/Polish movie based on one of Stanislaw Lem’s novels for Galactic Journey: “[September 15, 1963] The Silent Star: A cinematic extravaganza from beyond the Iron Curtain”.

Kurt Maetzig is not a natural choice for East Germany’s first science fiction movie, since he is mostly known for realist fare and even outright propaganda films. Though the fact that Maetzig is a staunch Communist helped him overcome the reservations of DEFA political director Herbert Volkmann, who doesn’t like science fiction, since it does not advance the Communist project and who shot down eleven script drafts as well as Maetzig’s plan to hire West European stars.

(16) IT’S A STRETCH. Marko Kloos’ post for the Wild Cards blog, “Coming Up Aces”, tells how hard it is to do something new in “a world with an established canon spanning 70 years, where hundreds of aces and jokers have already been put on the page by dozens of other writers.”

Wild Cards is up to twenty-six volumes now, and the Trust has more than forty members. Each of those writers has created multiple characters, so there are hundreds of aces, joker-aces, and jokers out in the Wild Cards world, each with their own distinct physical characteristics and abilities. And once they are on the page, they’re canon. Try coming up with an original ace who doesn’t duplicate something that’s already been done by someone else—I can assure you it’s not easy, especially if you’re new to the team and haven’t had your head in that world for the last few decades. The first few ideas I had were roundly shot down at the start because they had been used in some form already, or they brought abilities to the table that had been done too often.

For my first character that truly stuck, I came up with Khan, who makes his first appearance in LOW CHICAGO. Khan is a joker-ace, a 300-pound underworld bodyguard whose left body half is that of a Bengal tiger….

(17) STREE. In the Washington Post, Vidhi Doshi discusses the new Bollywood film Stree (“Woman”). a horror comedy about a vengeful female ghost where “the real fear is hidden in the jokes about the realities of being a woman in India.” — “In India’s new hit film, men — not women — are afraid to roam the streets”.

The success of “Stree” is due in part to how it flips Bollywood’s norms. The male protagonist is the opposite of Bollywood’s muscly, macho heroes — he spends most of the film trying to see things from the female ghost’s point of view. The women, on the other hand, are bold, educated and fearless.

The movie breaks rules of the horror genre: The scares and jolts are funny, while the real fear is hidden in the jokes about the realities of being a woman in India.

(18) MORE BROKEN CONVENTIONS. At Black Gate, Derek Kunsken recommends a YouTube podcast about comics — “Analyzing the Comics Story-Telling Process with Panel x Panel”.

Lately I’ve been watching a lot of the Youtube channel Strip Panel Naked, by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. In this extraordinary video podcast, Hassan analyses different techniques of pacing, page layout, color, positive and negative space, genre conventions and how they’ve been broken, stylistic choices and so on. I have lots of favourites, including the analysis of the use of time in Fraction and Aja’s Hawkeye.

(19) THESE AREN’T THE SPOTS YOU’RE LOOKING FOR. Nobody’s getting excited about this. Everyone please remain calm. “The director of the Sunspot Observatory isn’t sure why the feds shut it down”.

The saga began to unfold on September 6, when authorities unexpectedly closed and evacuated Sunspot  Solar Observatory. Sunspot Solar Observatory is managed by a consortium of universities that provide funding to operate the telescope and adjoining visitor’s center. AURA (The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy) is a big site, tens to hundreds of acres, McAteer explained, and the observatory is used to study the sun in very specific ways.

McAteer said while the reason behind the closure is still unknown, he does not believe it is as strange as some believe.

“AURA deciding to close it is not an unusual event to me and I’m not going to jump to any unnecessary speculation,”  McAteer told Salon. “They [AURA] made the decision to close the site based on an internal decision, based on whatever they make their decisions on, and as they often make decisions to close remote sites this is not an uncommon thing to do.”

Alamogordo Daily News first reported the news on Sept. 7, when the observatory closed citing a “security issue” at the facility. Shari Lifson, a spokeswoman for AURA, said the closure was their decision.

“The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy who manages the facility is addressing a security issue at this time,” Lifson told the local newspaper. “We have decided to vacate the facility at this time as precautionary measure. It was our decision to evacuate the facility.”

(20) VIRTUAL HALLOWEEN. The LAist gets ready for the holiday at a SoCal mall: “We Tried Out 2 Halloween VR Experiences And Survived (After Some Screaming)”.

The Void’s trying to change that by throwing you into a real physical environment, which you can check out locally at the Glendale Galleria.

In the Void’s games, if you pick up a gun, you’re holding a physical weapon — if you sit on a bench, there’s an actual physical bench for you to sit on. We went to a demo of the Void’s new Halloween experiences and talked with the creators behind them — here’s what we learned, and what went down.

When you’re about to go into the Void, you’re fitted with a vest and a VR helmet. The vest vibrates when you get shot or attacked — or in the case of one of their new experiences, slimed. (Ew.)

The two new experiences are Nicodemus: Demon of Evanishment, and an enhanced version of one they’d previously released, Ghostbusters: Dimension.

 

(21) HIMMELSKIBET. Karl-Johan Norén has another sff link to in Denmark: “Himmelskibet is a Danish 1918 silent movie about a trip to Mars, 81 minutes long, that has been restored by the Danish Film Institute.”

Photos from the film and additional info are available via a Facebook photo archive.

[Thanks to Danny Sichel, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, Steve Green, Karl-Johan Norén, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Pixel Scroll 8/26/18 Pixels Of Unusual Size? I Don’t Think They Exist

(1) ALL SYSTEMS WIN. Martha Wells posted a Worldcon 76 report including her experiences at the Hugo Awards ceremony —

Then we got to novella, and I was extremely nervous. I felt like I had a strong chance and was hopeful, but it was still awesome to win. I managed to get up the stairs to the stage, give my speech without crying (After the Nebula Awards I didn’t want to be the author who cries all the time.) (I saved it all up for Monday, when every time anyone said anything nice to me, I would start crying.) Managed to get down the Stairs of Doom backstage with the help of about four people, got stopped to get a photo outside the auditorium in the reception area, went back in the wrong door and could not get it open and had to thump on it until the backstage people heard me, and then got back to my seat in time to see Nnedi Okorafor win for Best YA novel and N.K. Jemisin win for Best Novel!

And she has some Worldcon photos on her Tumblr.

(2) DIGBY IN ONE PLACE. The Golds reminded readers today about the extended electronic edition of Tom Digby’s amazing fanwriting that’s available online, “Along Fantasy Way”. Originally produced for the 1993 Worldcon where Tom was a guest of honor, the collection was expanded in its 2014 digital version. What a treasure trove of wonderfully creative idea-tripping. Delightful poetry, too – for example:

…OR MINERAL(2/07/76)

Pet rocks are OK, but some people prefer more variety.
The guy upstairs from me
Has a 1947 Chevrolet engine block.
I think his apartment is too small for it,
But there it is.
And the family down the street
With the goldfish pond in the yard
Has an old ship’s anchor
To keep the fish company.

But of all the inorganic pets in the neighborhood,
The happiest is an old beer can
Belonging to a small boy.
It would never win a prize at a show:
Too many dents
And spots of rust
And paint flaking off.
And besides, it’s a brand of beer
Most people don’t like.
But that doesn’t really matter.
What matters is FUN
Like afternoons when they go for a walk:
The can leaps joyously ahead
CLATTERDY RATTLEDY CLANG BANG!
Then lies quietly waiting for its master to catch up
Before leaping ahead again.
I may get a beer can myself some day.

But I still don’t think it’s right
To keep a 1947 Chevrolet engine block
Cooped up in such a small apartment.

The collection is illustrated by Phil and Kaja Foglio.

(3) ALL BRADBURY ALL THE TIME. A very nice set of Bradbury quotes at Blackwing666: “Ray Bradbury – Born August 22, 1920”

(4) GUNNED DOWN. You could see this coming. The Hollywood Reporter says “‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ Production Put on Hold”. The studio still expects to make the movie later on.

Sources say that crewmembers, which is, at this stage, a small group that was prepping for preproduction, are being dismissed and are free to look for new work.

The Marvel project was originally to have been directed by James Gunn and was to have begun principal photography in the winter, either in January or February. The project was crewing up and was to have gone into full preproduction mode in the fall.

But Gunn was let go as the director in July when old tweets were resurfaced in response to his vocal political posts. While some held out hope that the director would be given a reprieve by Disney, a mid-August meeting with Disney chairman Alan Horn closed the door on that.

(5) LAST DAYS OF BANG ON EARTH. Big Bang Theory has started production of its final season.

Let What Culture tell you Why The Big Bang Theory Just Got Cancelled.

(6) HUGO STATISTIC. I don’t have time to check. Could be….

(7) HOW THEY STACK UP. Rocket Stack Rank’s Eric Wong writes:

With the recent release of the TOC for the Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy 2018 (BASFF), I’ve updated RSR’s 2017 Best SF/F Anthologies article with the 20 stories in that anthology plus their honorable mentions.

The grand total from five 2017 “year’s best” SF/F anthologies is 114 stories by 91 authors, from which we can make the following observations:

o   Magazines: Asimov’s (12), Clarkesworld (9), Lightspeed (9)

o   Anthologies: Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities (3/7), Extrasolar(5/14), Infinity Wars (5/15)

o   Nancy Kress (3), Rich Larson (3), Robert Reed (3), Alastair Reynolds(3)

To see other outstanding stories that didn’t make it into the five “year’s best” SF/F anthologies, go to RSR’s 2017 Best SF/F article, which has also been updated with the BASFF stories for a total of 256 stories by 201 authors.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 26, 1953The War of the Worlds premiered. (“Welcome to California!”)

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge]

  • Born August 26 — Katherine Johnson, 100. NASA mathematician and physicist awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom by Obama in 2015. Her work made space travel possible. And yes she’s African-American as well! (Makers has a post celebrating her birthday.)
  • Born August 26 — Barbara Ehrenreich, 77. Social activist and author of one genre novel, Kipper’s Game which gets compared to the works of Connie Willis.
  • Born August 26 — Stephen Fry, 61. Narrator, all of the Harry Potter audiobook recordings, Col. K. In the animated Dangermouse series and any number of other delightfully interesting genre related undertakings.
  • Born August 26 — Wanda De Jesus, 60. Genre work includes Robocop 2, SeaQuest 2032, Tales from The DarksideBabylon 5, and Ghosts of Mars
  • Born August 26 — Melissa McCarthy, 48. Now starring in The Happytime Murders which apparently is the first film from the adult division of Jim Henson Productions. Also Ghostbusters: Answer the Call.
  • Born August 26 — Chris Pine, 38. James T. Kirk in the current Trek film franchise; also Steve Trevor in the Wonder Woman film franchise as well as A Wrinkle in Time and Rise Of The Guardians.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Brevity shows some movie dinosaurs who keep comic back.

(11) SPACE ANNIVERSARY. JPL celebrates “15 Years in Space for NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope”, an instrument that has far outlasted its predicted useful life.

Launched into a solar orbit on Aug. 25, 2003, Spitzer was the final of NASA’s four Great Observatories to reach space. The space telescope has illuminated some of the oldest galaxies in the universe, revealed a new ring around Saturn, and peered through shrouds of dust to study newborn stars and black holes. Spitzer assisted in the discovery of planets beyond our solar system, including the detection of seven Earth-size planets orbiting the star TRAPPIST-1, among other accomplishments.

 

(12) OH NO, WHERE CAN THE MATTER BE. Gizmodo reports “Scientists Will Soon Drop Antimatter to See How It Behaves in Gravity”.

In a new study, physicists attempted to find differences between matter and antimatter—confusingly, also a kind of matter, but with the opposite charge and other differences. It’s like an evil twin. Confusingly, the universe has way more matter than antimatter, for no clear reason. Physicists haven’t found the specific differences they were looking for when studying the antimatter version of hydrogen, called antihydrogen, but they have demonstrated a way to study antimatter better than ever before.

Mike Kennedy forwarded the link with the note, “It’s a complicated story, and mostly about recent measurements of the Lyman-? emission lines of anti-hydrogen… in particular it being the same wavelength as for hydrogen <http://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0435-1>. The bit about laser cooling anti-hydrogen and dropping it to observe how it reacts to gravity is IIUC speculative at this point.”

(13) MORE ON NEXT SHATNER RECORD. SYFY Wire brings us news that William Shatner is releasing a holiday album (“William Shatner teases Christmas cover record: Shatner Claus”):

Set phasers to jolly.

The legendary actor and musician William Shatner is giving us another reason to be excited about the holiday season. Shatner tweeted the Amazon link to pre-order his first upcoming record: Shatner Claus The Christmas Album. You can add the self-described godfather of dramatic musical interpretation’s album digital audio, CD, or vinyl in your letter to the North Pole. With vinyl record sales on the constant rise, it’s exciting to see if this will find Shatner Claus’ sleigh riding its way to the top of the Billboard charts.

(14) JURASSIC BLETCHLEY PARK. In “Dinosaur DNA clues unpicked by researchers at University of Kent”, scientists are theorizing-from-clues that dinosaur DNA, like birds’, had many chromosomes, making mix-and-match easier.

Researchers at the University of Kent say their work uncovers the genetic secret behind why dinosaurs came in such a variety of shapes and sizes.

This variation helped the creatures evolve quickly in response to a changing environment – helping them to dominate Earth for 180 million years.

But the researchers behind the DNA work say they have no plans to recreate dinosaurs, Jurassic Park style.

(15) FLAME OFF. BBC assures us, “Yes, Antarctica has a fire department”.

But fighting fires in freezing temperatures also calls for some specialist equipment.

Surprisingly, water is still an option. McMurdo’s fire engine has a pump, which cycles water constantly through the vehicle to prevent it from freezing.

Remembering to set the pump going is, says Branson, a lesson quickly learned.

“You do not want to be the person who freezes all the water in the fire engine. Then you’re stuck with a 500 gallon engine with an ice block in it… and nobody on base is going to like you.”

(16) BEARLY VISIBLE. BBC has video: “Bear roams ‘The Shining’ hotel in Colorado”. It’s a good thing Jack Nicholson didn’t try swinging an axe at this guest….

A bear was filmed going through the lobby of the hotel that inspired Stephen King’s classic horror novel in Colorado.

(17) YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY. While excavating on YouTube, Carl Slaughter found Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (1965): “Frankenstein, ie, Frank the android, does battle with a Martian beast to prevent a Martian princess from replenishing Mars with voluptuous and sometimes bikini-clad Earth women.  The Pentagon monitors the situation and tries to lend Frank a hand.  Turns out Frank wears an Air Force uniform and holds military rank  – like Data.  This is in the so bad it’s good category.”

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

Pixel Scroll 7/11/16 The Coal Equations

(1) OH, PUH-LEEZE. Hoping to prove his superiority to his critics, Simon Pegg resorts to the Quantum Defense as he justifies a gay Sulu, in “A Word About Canon”

The main thrust for those who aren’t keen on our LGBT Sulu, seems to come down to two things. Firstly, why Sulu? It’s a good point, I mean it could have been anybody: Kirk is a pansexual fun seeker; who knows why Bones got divorced? Nobody said Spock and Uhura were exclusive; Chekov is just permanently horny and let’s face it, there’s more to Scotty and Keenser than meets the eye. The fact is, we chose Sulu because of George, there was something sweet and poetic about it. Introducing a new gay character had its own set of problems, as I mentioned before, the sexuality of that character would have to be addressed immediately and pointedly and the new characters in Star Trek Beyond have enough on their plate, without stopping to give us the intimate details of their personal lives. We were concerned it might seem clumsy, tokenistic or worse, too little too late, raising and exasperated, “finally!” from those who’ve been waiting for representation for the last 50 years.

So why persist when George Takei wasn’t keen? The thinking behind embracing an existing character was that it felt as though it retroactively put right something that had long been wrong. By the time, we mentioned it to GT, the idea had taken shape, it felt good, interesting and worthy of thought and conversation. We were disappointed that George didn’t see it that way but, truth be told, Sulu Prime seemed to be missing a very important point. With galaxies of respect to the great man, this is not his Sulu. John Cho does not play a young George Takei, nor does he play the same character George Takei played in the original series. He is a different Sulu. This brings me to the second point of contention, Canon.

With the Kelvin timeline, we are not entirely beholden to existing canon, this is an alternate reality and, as such is full of new and alternate possibilities. “BUT WAIT!” I hear you brilliant and beautiful super Trekkies cry, “Canon tells us, Hikaru Sulu was born before the Kelvin incident, so how could his fundamental humanity be altered? Well, the explanation comes down to something very Star Treky; theoretical, quantum physics and the less than simple fact that time is not linear…..

Wouldn’t he have done better to skip that part and go right to his closing argument?

…I know in my heart, that Gene Roddenberry would be proud of us for keeping his ideals alive. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations, this was his dream, that is our dream, it should be everybody’s.Ultimately, if we love Star Trek, we are all on the same page, we all want Gene’s idea of a tolerant inclusive, diplomatic and loving Universe to become a reality.

(2) BIG BOOK LANDS TOMORROW. Jeff and Ann VanderMeer’s Big Book of Science Fiction will be released July 12, 750,000 words and 1,216 pages.

(3) THE PACE OF FEAR. At the Horror Writers Association blog, Mac Childs begins his series “And the Clock Strikes Midnight: Time and Timing in Terror, Part I” with this advice —

Whether it’s the beeping of an alarm clock marking a night over too soon, a school buzzer announcing the start of a test period, or the chime of a grandfather clock in an old house declaring the start of the witching hour, there are lots of ways that time can provoke dread. So, when writers look no further than flashbacks and verb tenses, they miss out on timely tension opportunities.

With a little attention towards the timing of the horrors in your story—pacing as well as narratively—you can save yourself time in revisions, time better spent dreaming up new nightmares to implant in the fertile minds of your young readers.

First, you’ve got to figure out the best times for your horrors to strike. For this, you need to keep two axes (plural of axis, not axe) in mind: the external, physical timeline of pages experienced by the reader between scares, and the in-story time passage experienced by the characters. While it’s great when these two lines meet and overlap (e.g. during a tense scene when the protagonist experiences time in slow motion, with a reader savoring the moment), too much intersection becomes narratively unsustainable easily, or for some audiences unfeasible, because of the need to maintain the suspension of disbelief.

(4) IT COULD BE VERSE. Bertie MacAvoy discusses ”Poetry and Song”.

I don’t think that, prior to the wide use of the printing press, there was any distinction between poetry and song. It was only when a person could buy an edition of someone’s poems, and read them – not knowing at all how the writer had meant them to sound aloud – that a branch of poetry that consisted of interesting mind pictures could exist.

And that explains my preference over the poetry of Yeats to that of Eliot….

(5) ERRATA. Lee Gold sent me a link to Jack Bennett’s poem “Ben Ali the Egyptian” which appeared in 1893 in St. Nicholas Magazine, having just learned the authorship was misattributed to Randall Garrett in the collection Takeoff Too, which was assembled when his medical condition did not allow him to be consulted. I see the Internet Science Fiction Database already captured that information. Though as long as I had the link I took a look at the poem and now I understand its fannish appeal.

(6) DEFINING ACTIVISM. John Scalzi answers another writer’s question in “Activism, and Whether I Do It”.

My answer to her was no, I don’t really consider myself an activist. The reason I gave her was pretty straightforward: I’m too lazy. Which is to say that while I have my beliefs and principles and largely follow them (sometimes imperfectly), and will happily tell others what those beliefs and principles are, the sort of committed action that to me defines activism — and the continued proselytization for a belief that activism often requires, including the desire to inspire others to take moral action — is not something I usually undertake.

There are other reasons for this besides laziness, including work and the desire to have other interests in my life, but laziness really is a large part of it. Activism is work. I’m glad other people do it, and admire their effort. But it’s not something I put much effort in.

But you write here all the time on political and social topics! Yes I do. But this is not a blog for activism, it’s a blog for whatever I feel like writing — or, when I’m writing a book as I am now, what I have time for writing. The blog is like me; all over the place and a bit pixelated….

Good Lord, it’s contagious!

(7) GETTING TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA PEOPLES. National Geographic reports on the unique discovery of a Philistine cemetery at the site of ancient Ashkelon in Israel.

An unrivaled discovery on the southern coast of Israel may enable archaeologists to finally unravel the origins of one of the most notorious and enigmatic peoples of the Hebrew Bible: the Philistines.

The discovery of a large cemetery outside the walls of ancient Ashkelon, a major city of the Philistines between the 12th and 7th centuries B.C., is the first of its kind in the history of archaeological investigation in the region. (Read more about ancient Ashkelon.)

While more than a century of scholarship has identified the five major cities of the Philistines and artifacts distinctive to their culture, only a handful of burials have been tentatively identified.

Simply put, archaeologists have found plenty of pots, but very few people.

(8) LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR POLISH WRITER. Piotrek celebrates “Andrzej Sapkowski with World Fantasy Award” at Re-enchantment of the World.

Andrzej Sapkowski is a big guy in Polish fantasy. The big one. Was big long before The Witcher games. Well, some young people might disagree. There are some more popular authors now. But he is… GRRM of our fantasy? Terrible movie/tv series adaptation of Witcher being as good Game of Thrones as our tv is capable of delivering … At a first glance a bit of Tolkien in him as well, adapting folklore for his stories. But if you read it – definitely a post-tolkienite.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • July 11, 1913 – Cordwainer Smith

(10) OH YES JOHN RINGO. Ringo told his Facebook followers —

It got announced at closing ceremonies that I’m to be the LibertyCon guest of Honor for LibertyCon 30. (I was in a meeting at the time so couldn’t make it to closing) They are calling it XXX. I hope there is no connection implied.

Here is the link to LibertyCon.

(11) 2016 LIBERTYCON REPORT. Jeb Kinnison has a gallery of photos to go with his account of attending his first LibertyCon.

…One obvious difference at LibertyCon — it’s a Red Tribe con, meaning most attendees are in the liberty-loving, military-respecting, rural-BBQ-and gun-loving population typical of the US away from the coastal urban enclaves. Since I grew up with those people and understand them well, I’m not frightened by guns, blades, military uniforms, seared meat, or the occasional less-than-sensitive remark….

(12) EATING THE FANTASTIC, DONUT EDITION. Scott Edelman found it was easy to get more than a dozen authors at Readercon to participate in his podcast, with an assist from Dunkin’ Donuts.

I planted myself in the lobby (as captured in the photo below by Ellen Kushner), where I offered free donuts to the first 12 random passersby willing to give brief interviews about their favorite Readercon memories.

I had no idea who might wander over, but knew that something entertaining would surely come out of this sugary experiment. And it did! I ended up with 15 guests digging into those 12 donuts—the differential being because there were three who eschewed—in a “lightning round” 13th episode I’ve decided to call the Readercon Donut Spectacular. Surprise visitors included Greer Gilman, Maria Dahvana Headley, Rajan Khanna, plus a dozen more.

Guests—some of whom had attended nearly every Readercon, and some for whom this was their first—shared their peak Readercon moments, many of which revolved around Samuel R. Delany.

 

(13) BUSIEK PRAISED. At Black Gate, Nick Ozment pays tribute to Kurt Busiek’s Astro City. Also Joyce, Hemingway, Faulkner, and a tangent on Modernism”.

Kurt Busiek’s Astro City is one of my favorite superhero comics. It consistently delivers brilliant, funny, poignant, human stories in a colorful, wonderfully idiosyncratic comic-book world. It is Busiek’s magnum opus — like Bendis’s Powers, it towers above his other work for the big publishers using their branded characters. He brings the sensibilities he honed in the groundbreaking Marvel miniseries Marvels to his own universe and, beneath all the ZAP! BANG! POW!, weaves tales you will never forget.

What Marvels did that was so fresh in 1994 is it “lowered the camera” from the god-like supers knocking each other through buildings and focused in on the ordinary humans down here at street level, wide-eyed and slack-jawed, watching it happen. What impact did the existence of such powers have on their day-to-day lives?

(14) TOIL, TEARS, AND SWEAT NOT ON OFFER. “Finally, you can buy Richard Garriott’s blood” reports Ars Technica.

Richard Garriott selling vials of his blood for thousands of dollars is one of those stunts.

Yes, Lord British himself, the 55-year-old creator of the Ultima series and noted space tourist, is auctioning off samples of his actual blood to raise money for his new fantasy RPG, Shroud of the Avatar. The six reliquaries—which we’ll note again are full of Richard Garriott’s actual blood—are being marketed as limited-run art pieces, “made of bakelite, copper, nails, glass, and mirrored glass that can be hung on your wall.”

…Bidding for the vials starts at $5,000.

The items originally were offered on eBay, then were removed, speculates Ars Technica “ quite possibly because it’s a violation of eBay’s policy against selling human remains and body parts.”

The listings have been moved to Shroud of the Avatar‘s own Make a Difference store, where two reliquaries have already sold for $6,000 and $8,000 each, and another is still available for $11,000.

(15) ACCEPTING FOR. While researching the Geffen Award, I came across these humorous tweets from a 2015 accepter –

(16) MAGIC MAKEOVER. The Sun interviewed a family that’s redone its dining room Harry Potter-style. (I was charmed all to heck by the replica of Dobby, looking like a mummy that’s seen better days…)

Charlotte, 31, her husband Andrew, 39, and kids Eleni, three, Max, four and Kiri, six, are all massive fans of the magical movies.

After visiting Warner Bros. Studios: The Making of Harry Potter, the family decided to splash out on some renovations to their home.

It wasn’t a quick turnaround though – the family spent 18 months perfecting the room, which now boasts a sorting hat, props from the films, wooden panelling and a large table…..

“We have a lot of replica props and two original props from the films.

“We have one of the letters thrown through the fire place which we bought from a dealer, which cost us about £200.

“We also have a witch in a jar which was from Professor Lupin’s office in the third film. That cost £350.”

One of the most exciting items are the ‘moving pictures’ – which show the kids riding broomsticks and were cunningly created using an iPad.

In all, the Harry Potter dining room has cost the family a whopping £13,004.72.

(17) TOY DEPARTMENT. On sale soon, Game of Thrones stuffed direwolves:

With this year’s Comic-Con right around the corner, details are spilling out as to what goodies you’ll find down in San Diego this year. Factory Entertainment has just revealed some of their OMG products for this year’s line-up, and our favorite product is by far the collection of direvolves. ALL SIX OF THEM! FOR ALL SIX STARK CHILDREN!

The Stark direwolves come in three sets, priced depending on how many direwolves you’re getting for your dollar. The first set is $30, and includes Shaggydog, Summer, and Lady. Set two is $40 and now includes GHOST! The last set, and the best set, has all six dogs for a steal at $55. You’ll get Rickon’s Shaggydog, Bran’s Summer, Sansa’s Lady, and now also Arya’s Nymeria, Robb’s Grey Wind, and of course, Jon’s Ghost.

direwolves

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Scott Edelman, Cat Eldridge, and DMS for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.] 

Tepper, Levin Marry

Debra Levin and Matthew Tepper wed in a Jewish ceremony at the LASFS clubhouse on June 30 in the presence of about 75 family members and friends.

A canopy lifted on four poles was carried into the main meeting room by members of the wedding party including John DeChancie and David Gerrold.  The canopy was blue fabric with an elaborate yellow design.

The principals came forward in procession, Rabbi Marcia Minsky, who presided over the ceremony, Tepper in a top hat and black tuxedo, and Levin wearing a white wedding gown beautifully trimmed in lace.

Minsky was assisted by Mark Poliner. Tom Safer cued the music. Other participants included Joyce Sperling, Eylat Poliner, Charles Lee Jackson II and Jerry Pournelle, plus several more whose names I didn’t know.

At the appropriate point in the ceremony, various people had the honor of reading one of the seven blessings, in Hebrew if they were able, otherwise in English translation. Jerry Pournelle recited the third blessing in English: “Blessed are You, LORD, our God, sovereign of the universe, who creates man.” Barry and Lee Gold did a glorious job reading the lengthy seventh blessing, first in Hebrew, and then in translation.

Matthew waved off the applause that began when people thought the service had ended, because he still needed to stamp on the glass – then the couple was introduced and applause resumed.

LASFS officers figured prominently in the service. The groom is club president, while his bride is vice-president-elect. Marcia Minsky and Eylat Poliner, are co-vice-presidents, and Charles Lee Jackson II is a Special Advisor.

It was a great occasion, and a chance to greet some old friends including Elst and Carole Weinstein, Regina Renante, Marty Cantor, and quite a few of those named above.

Fandom’s Most Beloved Typo

Wordnik.com’s “Word of the Day” for May 25 is “filk” —

adj. (adj) About or inspired by science fiction, fantasy, horror, science, and/or subjects of interest to fans of speculative fiction; frequently, being a song whose lyrics have been altered to refer to science fiction; parodying.

The Wordnik post takes its definition from the Wikitionary entry for “filk”.

Unlike most developments in the history of popular culture, how the word “filk” got its start is precisely known. Lee Jacobs typoed the word “folk” in the title of his manuscript “The Influence of Science Fiction on Modern American Filk Music” intended for distribution in a mailing of the Spectator Amateur Press Society in the early 1950s. While I’ve never seen the article and can’t say what the problem was, Wrai Ballard, SAPS’ official editor at the time, feared its bawdy content could get him into trouble with the Post Office under the Comstock Laws and he refused to send it out. Ballard nevertheless enjoyed the typo, as did the others he told about it. “Filk music” rapidly became part of the faannish jargon.

Thanks to Lee Gold, we even know that the first composition to designate itself a filksong was “Barbarous Allen”, lyrics attributed to Poul Anderson, in Karen Kruse Anderson’s SAPSzine Die Zeitschrift für Vollstandigen Unsinn #774 (1953).

[Thanks to Sam Long for the story.]

Crime and Punishment

Weekly World News reports that the Seventh Circuit upheld the warden’s order to a Wisconsin inmate — “No Dungeons & Dragons in Jail”!

He was told he could not have the materials because the game “promotes fantasy role playing, competitive hostility, violence, addictive escape behaviors, and possible gambling.”

Singer filed a federal lawsuit, saying the prison had violated his free speech and due process rights, but the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld the policy.

The decision read, “After all, punishment is a fundamental aspect of imprisonment, and prisons may choose to punish inmates by preventing them from participating in some of their favorite recreations.”

David Klaus, tongue in cheek, comments: “I guess Lee Gold had better not ever get arrested.” (Lee, of course, is the LASFSian who started a D&D apa, Alarums and Excursions, 35 years ago.)

David says the tabloids are always good for a laugh:

I saw my all-time favorite Weekly World News headline in a 7-Eleven on Duarte Rd. at the Arcadia/Monrovia border back in ’80 or ’81. It said, in all-capitals type big enough to fill the entire tabloid front page:

“AIR FORCE FIGHTER HAS DOGFIGHT WITH ARMED STARSHIP”

I should have bought a couple to pass around, I don’t know why I didn’t.

John Hertz: A Carol

John Hertz has rewritten a seasonal song and offered me the chance to post it here. It originally appeared in Vanamonde #606. John notes Lee Gold deserves credit for a suggestion incorporated into the final version.

Deck the mind with gosh and golly,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la la la;
Science fiction can be jolly,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la la la.
At its best it’s such a treasure,
Fa-la-la, la-la-la, la la la;
At its worst it’s no one’s pleasure,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la la, la, la.
 
See the Hugos bright before us,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la la la;
Let us not just speak in chorus,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la la la.
If poor work should be well-rated,
Fa-la-la, la-la-la, la la la,
Think what else was nominated,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la la, la, la.
 
Fast away the old year passes,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la la la;
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la la la.
Look out for what may be worthy,
Fa-la-la, la-la-la, la la la,
That due praise may not be dearthy,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la la, la, la.

1948: First Westercon Program Book

The program book from the very first Westercon has been scanned and posted on the LASFS website, reports Lee Gold.

There were very few sf conventions anywhere in 1948, and none at all in the southwestern US, when Walt Daugherty proposed an annual convention be started for West Coast fans. The first Westercon was held on September 5 that year at the Park View Manor (the same hotel used for the 1946 Worldcon). 

The day-long convention attracted 77 attendees to hear from a number of well-known local authors. E. Mayne Hull, L. Ron Hubbard and Dr. Eric Temple Bell (aka John Taine) spoke in the afternoon, and astronomer Dr. Robert C. Richardson (aka Philip Latham) was one of three speakers on the evening program.

This copy of the Program Book belonged to Aline and Gerry Thompson, who collected numerous autographs from fans and pros at the con — Genie Willmorth, Jerry G. Thompson, Forrest J Ackerman, Harvard Johnson, Fred Johnson, Roy A. Squires, Rick Sneary (appended: South Gate in 58!), Elmer B. Perdue, Andy Anderson, Stan Woolston, William Rotsler, Dale Hart, Al Ashley, A. E. Van Vogt, Jean Cox, G. Gordon Dewey.

[Thanks to Lee Gold for the story.]