Pixel Scroll 3/1/21 Second Pixel On The Left, Scroll On Till Morning

(1) A KIND OF HOUSING CRISIS. In “Jonathan Lethem on Robert Heinlein and Other Influences” at The New Yorker, Lethem answers questions about his story in this week’s issue, “The Crooked House.”

The story’s protagonist, Mull, has found himself living in a once spectacular tesseract house—an architect’s grandiose solution to L.A.’s housing crisis—which has collapsed yet is still habitable. The structure keeps shifting and Mull struggles to find his way around. A corridor he used one day may have vanished the next. When did you first imagine this building? Do you see it as a three-dimensional space in your mind’s eye? Do you know it better than Mull? Or as well as Mull?

The idea of a tesseract as building comes from Robert Heinlein’s famous 1941 short story, “—And He Built a Crooked House—” (an influence my story wears on the sleeve of its title). It was one of my favorite stories growing up, and, for a lot of readers my age, it might be as responsible for the introduction of the idea of a tesseract as Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time.” It’s also an L.A. story, and Heinlein was a resident when he wrote it. The house in the story is across the street from his own address, if I’m remembering right.

That people in Los Angeles live outside right now, in tents and under overpasses, is such a cruel and overwhelming reality that it may be atrocious to make reference to it in passing (though it probably isn’t better to leave it unmentioned at all, which is what happens constantly). I’ll try saying simply that I sometimes find it easiest to let certain realities express themselves in my thinking when I give them a surreal or allegorical expression. 

(2) MORE COMMENTS ON BAEN’S BAR AND DISINVITING WEISSKOPF. Here are three recent posts that go beyond rehashing others’ opinions.

LawDog: “Freedom of Speech by LawDog”, a guest post on According to Hoyt, is a non-lawyer’s defense of Baen’s Bar hosting the sort of comments called out in Jason Sanford’s article.

…This, however, isn’t where the deplatformers come from (I’m looking at you folks taking a thunder run at Baen’s Bar in particular), they’ve decided that “Incitement to Violence” isn’t Free Speech, as they clutch their pearls.

Lawdog briefs a Supreme Court case, then proceeds —

“How,” I hear you ask, “Does this pertain to Baen’s Bar?”

Simple. If someone has been yacking about doing violence unto the Fed.gov for ten or fifteen years … it’s pretty safe to say that lawlessness is not “imminent”, and thus fails the Brandenburg test. That speech, distasteful though you may find it, is protected Free Speech.

And what is speech protected from? Protected from suppression by the government. So the government can’t prevent Baen’s Bar from hosting, for example, Tom Kratman’s advice about a Trumpian militia.

However, the pertinent question is do fans want to honor a figure in the sff field that hosts this speech? Lawdog’s cite does not bridge that divide.

Ben Sheffield takes a 360-dgree look at the topic in “Baenposting” at Coagulopath.

… That’s the main issue under consideration: are these “threats” on Baen’s Bar any more substantial or interesting than symbolic posturing, like a Twitter leftist with a guillotine avatar saying “eat the rich”? I don’t think they are.

So the expose has problems, and avenues of counterattack. But the reaction from the forum’s defenders has largely been to shoot themselves in the foot.

Baen’s publisher Toni Weisskopf had a hard row to hoe. If she deletes the mentioned posts and bans the offenders, her users will perceive this as a craven surrender to a bully’s demands. But if she ignores the expose, it will be spun as a further endorsement of violence.

She tried to have it both ways, temporarily closing the forum pending an investigation while refusing to condemn the violent threats. “We take these allegations seriously, and consequently have put the Bar on hiatus while we investigate. But we will not commit censorship of lawful speech.” She might have hoped that the scandal would blow over in a week, and she could reopen the Bar without doing anything. This approach blew up in her face, and caused her to lose her Guest of Honor spot at the 2021 Worldcon.

As I’ve said, you can’t win with forums. In chess, zugzwang is when you’re forced to make a bad move, because there’s no other way. Jason Sanford put her in zugzwang on February 15. There was no way she could have responded without suffering reputational damage, either from the SF community at large or from her own fans.

The smart thing to do, of course, would have been to never allow posts like that on Baen’s Bar to begin with.

But moderation is tricky, particularly with regards to powerful, respected users who are also personal friends. Forums founded on an ethos of “everything goes!” are generally moderated as little as possible, and this establishes precedent that’s hard to break. Like a roof with a hole in it, “everything goes” only seems fine until it starts raining. Moderation is almost always necessary, regardless of your friends’ feelings.

I’ve seen some attempted defenses of Baen’s Bar, and they’re not impressive….

Linda Bushyager, who in the Seventies edited the fannish newzine of record (Karass) before passing the torch to File 770, told Facebook readers that Toni Weisskopf didn’t deserve this outcome:

… I went to Discon’s website to read what they had to say about their decision. Basically the committee said because some users of Baen Books discussion had said violent or nasty or non PC or whatever comments, Toni, as the main editor at Baen would be disinvited. Note, Toni never made those comments, but I guess did not criticize them or ban them. However after complaints Toni did close down the “offensive” forum.

So it’s like you rent a room in your house to someone (a stranger) who turns out to be a robber, or Nazi, or racist, or whatever — well now let’s ban you too for whatever they said or did. Or maybe I belong to some club or organization or political party and someone else in this group said abhorrent stuff and I didn’t immediately withdraw from that group, so ban me from whatever honor you were going to give me, even if I disagree with those spoken views. Etc. There are many examples one could imagine. Am I responsible for everything not only my relatives and friends may say or do, but for acquaintances and people I work with or casually ride an elevator with? Where is the line?

Guilt by association.

All in all a sad day for Science Fiction fandom, as I see it — especially where in years past we were known for being tolerant to people who were different and who may have had different views. And when we found fans who had abhorrent ideas or said awful things, we tried to understand where they were coming from and tried to be tolerant and sympathetic where possible in an effort to understand and change minds, not just rebuke bad behavior thoughtlessly….

(3) COMIC-CON@HOME AGAIN. Comic-Con International has cancelled this spring’s WonderCon, and once more will run both it and the San Diego Comic-Con as virtual events: “Statement Regarding Comic-Con 2021”

As you may be aware, due to concern for public health and safety, San Diego Comic Convention had to cancel both of its in-person events in 2020 and recently announced that our spring 2021 show, WonderCon in Anaheim, will also be canceled. In its place, WonderCon@Home will once again be held as a free online event on March 26 and 27, 2021.

It is the policy of the organization to continue to closely monitor information from local and national healthcare officials as it pertains to the COVID-19 pandemic. Never could we have imagined what the world experienced in 2020 and continues to experience today. While we are buoyed by the rollout of the vaccine and the growing number of individuals being inoculated, it appears that July will still be too early to safely hold an in-person event of the magnitude of Comic-Con. For this reason, we have made the challenging decision to postpone Comic-Con 2021 as an in-person gathering until our 2022 dates, and once again hold this year’s celebration as the free online Comic-Con@Home. Unfortunately, the challenges of this past year and the multiple postponements of our two largest events have left us with limited financial resources, so this year the online experience will be reduced to a three-day event, spanning July 23-25, 2021.

(4) VIABLE PARADISE. The Viable Paradise SF&F Writers’ Workshop is also postponing til 2022: “ANNOUNCEMENT: Viable Paradise 2021 and Covid-19”.

Despite a decline in the number of new Covid-19 cases and the increasing rate of vaccinations, we cannot be certain there will be no threat come October. Last year, a major surge of the disease began just as the workshop would have been taking place. The new variants of the virus represent a wild card. No one is more disappointed with this outcome than we are, but we will not take risks with the safety of our students, instructors, and staff.

(5) TACKLING THE GENDER DIVIDE IN WANDAVISION. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Writing at the DailyDot, Gavia Baker-Whitelaw (@Hello_Tailor on Twitter) examines how differing standards for male and female magic users in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are indicative of existing prejudices about men and women. It’s an illuminating article about how often in comics (and superhero movies) a woman’s superpower is undercut by her own helplessness. “What ‘WandaVision’ and ‘Doctor Strange’ say about magical gender roles”. BEWARE SPOILERS.

…While Wanda Maximoff’s role is all about emotional upheaval and uncontrolled outbursts of power, her male counterpart (and future co-star) Doctor Strange develops his magic through rigorous academic training….

(6) FLASH FICTION CONTEST. Queer Sci Fi opened its annual Flash Contest today, and will be accepting entries through April 30. Full details at the link. (Via Locus Online.)

Every year, QSF holds a flash fiction contest to create an amazing new anthology of queer speculative fiction stories. We ask authors to do the nearly-impossible – to submit a sci fi, fantasy, paranormal or horror LGBTIQA story that has no more than 300 words.

The theme for 2021 is “Ink”…

We’ll be accepting works from across the queer spectrum, and would love to see more entries including lesbian, trans, bi, intersex and ace protagonists, as well as gay men. We also welcome diversity in ability (physical and mental) and in race. We had our most diverse set of entries yet in 2020 – let’s keep up the trend!

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • March 1, 1997 –On this day in 1997, the Crime Traveller series premiered on BBC. It was produced by Carnival Films for the BBC. The premise being of  time travel for the purpose of solving crimes. It was created by Anthony Horowitz, and starred Michael and Chloë Annett. It would last but eight episodes being caught in the change of guard in the BBC Head of Drama position. You can watch the first episode here.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born March 1, 1885 Lionel Atwill. He had the lead roles in Thirties horror films Doctor XThe Vampire BatMurders in the Zoo and Mystery of the Wax Museum but his most-remembered role was the one-armed Inspector Krogh in Son of Frankenstein which Kenneth Mars parodied in Young Frankenstein. He would appear in four subsequent Universal Frankenstein films. (Died 1946.) (CE) 
  • Born March 1, 1915 – Wyman Guin.  One novel, eight shorter stories.  Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award.  Some have praised his focus on the human implications of enduring the future, but I’ve always loved “Volpla”.  (Died 1989) [JH]
  • Born March 1, 1918 Roger Delgado. The first Master in the Doctor Who series. The role was written especially for him. He would appear only with the Third Doctor as he died in car crash in Turkey. Other genre appearances were Quatermass IIDanger ManThe Mummy’s Shroud and First Man into Space. (Died 1973.) (CE) 
  • Born March 1, 1923 Andrew Faulds. He’s best remembered as Phalerus in Jason and the Argonauts in which he was in the skeleton fight scene that featured model work by Ray Harryhausen. He appeared in a number of other genre films including The Trollenberg TerrorThe Flesh and the Fiends and Blood of the Vampire. He had one-offs on Danger Man and One Step Beyond. Oh, and his first acting gig was as Lysander in A Midsummer’s Night Dream. (Died 2000.) (CE) 
  • Born March 1, 1946 Lana Wood, 75. She’s best remembered as Plenty O’Toole in Diamonds Are Forever. She was in The Wild Wild West as Vixen O’Shaughnessy in “The Night of the Firebrand” and Averi Trent in “The Night of the Plague” episodes. She was in both up the CBS televised Captain America films playing Yolanda, and she was still active in the genre as little three years ago playing a character named Implicit in Subconscious Reality. Be very suspicious that all the Amazon reviews of the later are five stars. (CE) 
  • Born March 1, 1950 David Pringle, 71. Pringle served as the editor of Foundation during the Eighties which In turned spawned Interzone during that time. The Glasgow Worldcon committee gave Pringle a Special Award for his work on Interzone. With Malcolm Edwards and Ian Watson, he also edited Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction from the late Seventies through the mid Eighties. Besides his various guides to the genre such as The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy, I see early on that he did a lot of work on J.G. Ballard such as Earth Is the Alien Planet: J. G. Ballard’s Four-Dimensional Nightmare and J. G. Ballard: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography.  (CE) 
  • Born March 1, 1952 Steve Barnes, 69. I remember him best from the Dream Park series with Larry Niven but the Insh’Allah series is quite stellar as is the Heorot series that he did with Niven. His only award to date is an Endeavour Award for Lion’s Blood.  (CE) 
  • Born March 1, 1954 Ron Howard, 67. Director of Cocoon and Willow. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. And opinions are I believe are definitely divided on Solo: A Star Wars Story. As a producer only, he’s responsible for Cowboys & Aliens and The Dark Tower. (CE)
  • Born March 1, 1954 – Maureen Garrett, age 67.  Known as a fanartist – she did the Nine of Wands in Bruce Pelz’ Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck (see the whole deck here [PDF]; after BP’s introduction the suits are Cups, Pentacles, Swords, Wands, then the Trumps; yes, that’s the model for her card, named elsewhere in these birthday notes), contributed to Rune, moderated “What Is an Artist’s Life Really Like?” at ConFrancisco the 51st Worldcon – she was also Director of Fan Relations at Lucasfilm.  [JH]
  • Born March 1, 1955 – Tracy Barrett, Ph.D., age 66.  Six novels for us, two dozen all told.  The Song of Orpheus, seventeen Greek myths we’re little acquainted with, has been called nonfiction, but I dunno.  Anna of Byzantium is her novel of Anna Comnena (1083-1153; wrote The Alexiad, hello Joe Major). Taught at Vanderbilt thirty years. Likes Dickens’ Bleak House (as do I), “anything by Jane Austen, James Thurber, George Eliot.”  [JH]
  • Born March 1, 1962 – Dave Weingart, age 59.  Variously active fan, celebrated as a filker.  InterfilkGuest at Consonance 2001.  Official Filk Waif at FilKONtario 12.  Music Guest of Honor at Apollocon 2010.  Featured Filker at 8Pi-con.  Filklore Award.  [JH]
  • Born March 1, 1968 – Dorian Vallejo, age 53.  Five dozen covers, a few interiors.  Here is the Jul 91 Asimov’s.  Here is The California Voodoo Game.  Here is Lone Star.  Here is Smoke and Mirrors.  Jack Gaughan Award.  Son of Boris, which some say irks him; his Website has “Born into an artistic family” and nothing of us; but like any artist he gets to do what he thinks best.  [JH]
  • Born March 1, 1987 – Maxmilian Meinzold, age 34.  Thirty covers, a few interiors.  Here is The Silmarillion (in German).  Here is The King of Camelot (in German; tr. of The Once and Future King).  Here is The Hidden Oracle.  Here is Zealand (spelled Seeland in German; subtitle, “hitch-hiking to the Strudel Throat”; yes, in English it’s too bad there’s an r).  [JH]

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • In today’s episode of Spaceman Spiff at Calvin and Hobbes, Spiff finds a huge monster camouflaged as a mountain range.

(10) STRATIGRAPHY. “Crossing Castes: Juliette Wade’s Transgressions of Power” is a Paul Weimer review at Tor.com of Wade’s new novel.

…. And that brings us to another theme of the series, and this book in particular (right in the title, Transgressions of Power). For, you see, Della and Tagaret do want to break down those adamantine boundaries of Caste. They see, even if darkly and imperfectly (and Wade does a great job in making them fallible and human in it) that the caste system is really the root of the problems of the crumbling civilization and if there is any hope for the Varin, from the Grobal on down, it will take crossing those boundaries…in making transgressions, if you will.  In keeping with that, not only do we see Tagaret and Della’s efforts, but we get an emphasis on a dreaded and whispered thing that can happen to the Grobal—to “Fall” down to another caste. This is shown as a dangerous and one possibility for Adon to escape the pressures on him, and while it is a societal safety valve,  it is treated as a fate almost worse than death. It is also a Chehkov’s Gun that the author effectively fires in the conclusion, as well….

(11) THE EVOLUTION OF MARIO. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the February 24 Financial Times, gaming columnist Tom Faber looks at the success of Nintendo character Mario.

Nintendo’s influential designer Shigeru Miyamoto came up with the blueprint for Mario when he was developing 1981’s Donkey Kong, in which a hero called Jumpman dodges obstacles to reach the top of a construction site where a gorilla is holding his girlfriend hostage.  Mario’s characteristics were determined by technical limitations and accidents:  his red and blue overalls were selected to contrast with a black background while his large nose and moustache were an effort to infuse personality into a character comprised of a handful of pixels.  According tto company lore, his name was inspired by Mario Segale, the irate landlord of Nintendo of America’s warehouse.

Mario was first cast as a carpenter, then as a plumber for Mario Bros., which featured him and his twin brother Luigi fighting off monsters which oozed up from the sewers of New York. Soon a polish formula was established, with nefarious king Bowser, hapless Princess Peach and a cast of surrounding characters drawn in broad brushstrokes.  Powers included mushrooms that made Mario grow or shrink, or items that turned him into a bee, a ghost, a flying squirrel, and, in the new release Super Mario 3d World, a cat. Mario appeared in educational games, a low-budget cartoon and an execrable 1993 live-action film–though an upcoming animated movie, co-produced by the studio behind the Minions films, might be better.

(12) CELESTIAL LODGINGS. “First-ever space hotel slated to be operational by 2027” in the New York Post. This design might look a bit familiar if you’re old enough to have watched Walt Disney’s original Disneyland series.  

… This decade will see the start and completion of construction on humanity’s first ever hotel in outer space, according to the group behind it, Orbital Assembly. 

The 3-year-old company plans to begin building Voyager Station in low Earth orbit in 2025, and believes its interstellar resort may be operational as soon as 2027, the Daily Mail reported. 

Renderings of the celestial hotel are cosmic-chic: Individual pods are attached to a rotating wheel, with tubes connecting the different areas forming an X, as if the wheel’s axle….

(13) SPOT MAKES ITS OWN SPOTS. “Boston Dynamics’ Robot Dog Is Now Armed—in the Name of Art” reports WIRED. Video here.

…The project, called Spot’s Rampage, is the work of MSCHF (pronounced “mischief,” of course), an internet collective that regularly carries out meme-worthy pranks.

Previous MSCHF stunts include creating an app that awarded $25,000 to whomever could hold a button down for the longest; selling “Jesus Shoes” sneakers with real holy water in the soles (Drake bought a pair); developing an astrology-based stock-picking app; and cutting up and selling individual spots from a Damian Hirst painting.

Daniel Greenberg, a member of MSCHF, claims there’s a serious side to Spot’s Rampage though. “Anytime you see a TikTok or a dance it’s like, ‘Oh God, Spot is so happy,’” Greenberg says. “But if we actually talk candidly about what it’s going to be used for in the real world, you could say it’s police, you could say it’s military.”

Needless to say, Boston Dynamics isn’t very happy. The company tweeted on Friday: “We condemn the portrayal of our technology in any way that promotes violence, harm, or intimidation. Our mission is to create and deliver surprisingly capable robots that inspire, delight and positively impact society.”

Michael Perry, the company’s vice president of business development, says Spot’s terms of use prohibit violent uses of the robot. “The core things we’re trying to avoid are things that harm people, intimidate people, or break the law,” Perry says.

Perry adds that it is a particular concern because the company is trying to sell its robots. “It’s not just a moral point, it’s also a commercial point for us,” he says.

Because the robot periodically checks in with Boston Dynamics servers, it would theoretically be possible to disable the Spot that MSCHF is using. “We’re wrestling with that,” Perry adds. The MSCHF crew claim to have a workaround ready just in case.

(14) VIDEOS OF THE DAY. Fanac.org has made videos of the 1989 Worldcon Masquerade available on YouTube.

Norascon 3, the 47th Worldcon, was held in Boston, MA. In this recording, costumers make their appearance on the big stage, and showcase the physical results of their imaginations and their skills. The costumers range from Novices to Journeymen to Masters, and the themes from silly and playful to very serious. Note: Some sections have been muted due to copyright laws. There’s more to come in part 2.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Olav Rokne, Michael J. Walsh, Andrew Porter, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Darrah Chavey, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]

Fortieth Anniversary of File 770

It was 40 years ago today
Sgt. Saturn taught the band to play…

Okay, never mind the rest of that… but on January 6, 1978 File 770 began life as a paperzine with issue #1.

Several friends have been along for the entire ride, like artist Taral Wayne, who had an illo in the first paper issue, and also is the creator of the banner art for this blog. Or Steve Davidson, mentioned in a news item on page 2. Not to mention the many who were on the mailing list from the beginning.

I also want to thank Linda Bushyager, editor of Karass, which preceded File 770 as fandom’s newzine of record, for passing the baton those many years ago.

And thanks to the generosity of everyone who has shared their stories, events and concerns in these pages over the years.

We’ll be celebrating this anniversary — and the 10th anniversary of this blog on January 15 — over the next 10 days with a series of special guest posts, too. Watch for the logo!

Pixel Scroll 9/21/17 A Pixel Walks Into A Bar And Orders A Fifth

(1) CELEBRATE THE RADCH. Ann Leckie’s new book Provenance comes out on September 26, and the Imperial Radch fandom on Tumblr is asking people to create thematic fanworks as part of the celebration.

Each day, fans are encouraged to post work under the #Imperial Radch tag, and if you like, a new #Imperial Radch Week tag. Any medium is encouraged, and we selected days that hopefully highlight a wide range of skills!

  • Tuesday, Sept 19th: Ship Day
  • Wednesday, Sept 20th: Music Day
  • Friday, Sept 22nd: Fav Friday
  • Saturday: Sept 23rd: AU Day
  • Sunday, Sept 24th: Favorite Scene Day
  • Monday, Sept 25th: What the Heck is a Geck Day
  • Tuesday, Sept 26th: Release day

See this post for details of each day’s featured topic.

(2) RAISE YOUR TBR HIGHER. James Davis Nicoll foresees you will want to read “Twenty Core SF Works About Psionics and Awesome Mind Powers Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves”. Three of those works are –

  • The Clairvoyant Countess by Dorothy Gilman
  • Ingathering by Zenna Henderson
  • Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang

Next week – “Twenty Room Houses True Fans Need To Own To Accommodate All The Books True Fans Should Have On Their Shelves.”

(3) FINAL JEOPARDY REFERENCES LEN WEIN. Steven H Silver has the story: “Today’s Final Jeopardy question may be the first time there’s been a FJ question about the spouse of a former contestant.  The question asked about a character created by Len Wein.  Len was married to four-time Jeopardy! champion Christine Valada (2009).”

(4) DONATIONS NEEDED. Mica Sunday Deerfield, Linda Bushyager’s sister, suffered substantial damage to her Houston home from Hurricane Harvey, and has launched a GoFundMe to raise money to make it habitable again.

When hurricane Harvey struck the Gulf coast, it filled over capacity the reservoir that is behind Mica’s house in West Houston. There was about 3 1/2 feet of water in the house and the neighborhood was inaccessible until yesterday, when our friend Dan courageously went there to see what happened. After 7 days of floodwaters, virtually all her possessions were dissolved, covered with mold, and lost to the flood. It will cost approximately $25,000 to empty the house, tear out all of the drywall, and remove the appliances, kitchen cabinets, insulation, furniture and everything else. Then they will do drying out and mold remediation. She will end up with an empty shell of a house. She will also then need money to fix the house back up. Any donation at all will be much appreciated. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

If you don’t know Linda Bushyager, she’s a long-time fanzine fan (Granfalloon, Karass) and fantasy author. More than that, when she shut down her fannish newzine Karass in the mid-Seventies, she passed the torch to File 770. And we’re still here!

(5) GATEKEEPERS. Martin Wisse defines a problematic culture in “The real trouble with comix”.

Supporting small business is important, but Amazon won’t ask you if you’re buying X-Men for your boyfriend every week. I’ve lost count of the women I know who stopped going to comic shops after being hit on or patronized too many times.

That small aside from a story about online harassment in video gaming perfectly illustrates the challenge the socalled mainstream comics industry has created for itself. Like videogaming, comics culture is steeped in rightwing victim culture, where you convince yourself both that you and your hobby are horribly oppressed and bullied by the jocks, the popular clique, riajuu and that your particular brand of pop culture is superior to what the brainless masses consume because they don’t spent their Wednesday evenings waiting for the new issue of whatever The Avengers is called this week. So you get a culture and industry that bemoans the fact that nobody loves comics anymore, but resents any step made to make people feel welcome. In fact, people seem to feel personally insulted if others enjoy the wrong sort of comics, as this fortuitous tweet demonstrates.

(6) SHOULDN’T SALES MATTER? Barry Deutsch addresses the same problem in a tweetstorm that begins here —

It runs 21 tweets and along the way observes:

(7) AGENT SPILLS THE BEANS. Fantasy-Faction scored an interview with agent Harry Illingworth.

When you’re reading all of those submissions, trawling through the slush pile, what is it you are actually looking for? What type of story, point of view, writing sets fire to your super-agent synapses and makes you request the full manuscript or sign them up there and then?

First up I’m looking at whether the author has followed the submission guidelines. It may sound obvious that you follow the guidelines when you submit, but you’d be amazed at how many people don’t. I then think about whether it’s a good cover letter as if it’s not a good cover letter I’m not inclined to be too hopeful about the book itself. I do find the authors I’ve taken on have all had really strong cover letters and the author knows their book and can express that in the letter. It all comes down to the actual writing though, and I’ll only ever call in the full manuscript based on my enjoyment of the first three chapters.

When writers search the internet for advice on how to create successful query it can be… overwhelming. So, help us out – what makes a good query letter, synopsis?

I think what makes a good query is research beforehand. You’ve written a book, so take care to find out who is writing similar kinds of books. Who can you compare to without saying you’re the next GRRM? Entice the agent but don’t tell the whole story of the book, and also carefully research the agent before you submit. Make sure you are putting your book in front of the right pair of eyes, and it doesn’t hurt to add a personal touch so the agent knows you haven’t just sent it out blindly.

(8) STINKIN’ BADGES. Jeff Somers names “Science Fiction & Fantasy’s Most Delightful Government Agencies” for readers of the B&N Sci-FI & Fantasy Blog.

SpecOps 27 (Thursday Next Series, by Jasper Fforde) What isn’t to love about a government agency charged with investigating literature-related crimes? Especially in an alternate universe where literature has the cultural heft of superhero movies, and the division between reality and fiction is so thin the two are easily mixed—with breathtaking results. All of the “Special Operations” units in the fictional world are pretty cool, actually, including SpecOps 12, in charge of investigating time travel-related events. For anyone who’s ever dreamed of falling into a book and waking up in their favorite story, SO-27 represents kind of the next best thing.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 21, 1937 — J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit published.
  • September 21, 2005 Invasion premiered to those interested TV audiences.
  • September 21, 2015 — Fox TV dished out the series premiere of Minority Report.  The premise was culled from the Steven Spielberg movie of the same name, based on a story by Philip K. Dick. By the end of the first season it had been learned that few people want to see precogs go incog.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born September 21, 1866 – H.G. Wells
  • Born September 21, 1912 – Chuck Jones, famous animator
  • Born September 21, 1947 — Stephen King

(11) COMICS SECTION.

Mike Kennedy found someone who probably should have asked for help earlier, in Real Life Adventures.

(12) SCARED TO DEATH. In October, Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) has filled their calendar with all things spooky and magical. Their movie lineup that includes Interview with the Vampire, The Dark Crystal, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, and a talk with Cheryl Henson (daughter of Jim and Jane Henson and President of The Henson Foundation).

Campout Cinema: Interview With the Vampire, October 6, 8:00 p.m. 21+ ($14, $11 MoPOP members)

A vampire tells the story of his life from widowed plantation owner to murderous immortal in this gothic classic based on Anne Rice’s best-selling novel starring Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Kirsten Dunst, Antonio Banderas, and Christian Slater. Includes admission to Scared to Death: The Thrill of Horror Film and Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction.

Campout Cinema: The Dark Crystal, October 13, 7:00 p.m. All ages. ($16, $12 MoPOP members)

The last of the Gelfings must journey to find the crystal shard that will create order and bring peace to his world in this Jim Henson classic. Includes admission to The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited and a pre-screening talk with Cheryl Henson (Henson Foundation President, and Jim and Jane’s daughter).

The Art of Puppetry with Cheryl Henson, October 14, 2:00pm Free with museum admission.

From Sesame Street and The Muppet Show to The Dark Crystal, Jim Henson’s creative imagination and enthusiasm for new technologies expanded the art of puppetry. Join Cheryl Henson (Henson Foundation President, and Jim and Jane’s daughter) as she looks at her parent’s dedication to the art form through a discussion and showcase of their impressive body of work.

 Campout Cinema: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, October 26, 8:00 p.m. ($14, $11 MoPOP members)

The dream warriors must work together to try and stop Freddy Krueger for good in the third installment of this classic horror franchise starring Robert Englund, Patricia Arquette, and Heather Langencamp. Includes admission to Scared to Death: The Thrill of Horror Film and Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction.

MoPOP After Dark: On Thursdays and Fridays throughout the month of October, MoPOP will host After Dark Happy Hours with exclusive after-hours access to MoPOP’s newest exhibition Scared to Death: The Thrill of Horror Film, plus MoPOP favorites Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy Worlds of Myth and Magic. Specialty, bone-chilling cocktails will be available for purchase. 5pm-8pm, MoPOP South Galleries. 21+, $15.

(12) ASGARD STYLE. About this time of year if I think of anyone wearing Marvel-themed clothing, I’m thinking about a Halloween costume. But no longer!

Josh Bennett, fashion designer and knitter extraordinaire, brings his passion for Marvel and its complex storytelling into a new sweater collection inspired by Marvel Studios’ Thor: Ragnarok. The new line will showcase Nordic influences, luxury fibers, and fantastical touches across a tight range of men’s sweaters available this holiday season.

…Bennett has always had a love for storytelling, and grew an appreciation for the robust worlds in Marvel stories as he immersed himself in Marvel films. When Thor: Ragnarok was announced as a November release, the unique settings, bold colors, and sense of wonder made it a perfect idea for a winter sweater collection.  Using references from the film, modern day trend influences, and new knitting techniques, Bennett has created a first-of-its-kind collection.

… The luxury limited edition collection includes four different styles, a chunky cardigan, v-neck tennis sweater, fisherman hoodie, and fair isle zip up, and uses yarns including 100% Italian cashmere and yarns from New Zealand, a nod to Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi.  Each sweater is extremely limited to no more than three pieces per size for each style and is numbered and dated.

The Josh Bennett x Marvel collection ranges from $1095 – $1495 USD and is available to shop online at www.joshbennettnyc.com  beginning November 10 with a pre sale October 10.

(13) HOW TO BREAK IN. The BBC reports that “Game of Thrones’ Ellie Kendrick wants to open up ‘closed shop’ film industry”.

“I’ve worked in the film industry on and off for about half my life and I’ve noticed that the worlds that are represented on our screens by no means mirror the worlds that we see around us in our everyday lives,” the 27-year-old says.

“Part of that is because it’s such a difficult industry to break into and often it requires huge financial support from parents or jobs. Or it requires contacts you’ve made in film school – which again costs a lot of money.

“So it’s a bit of a closed shop.”

The piece ends with this prime quote about her GoT role:

“But also, you know, I get to wield an axe occasionally and kill some zombies. So, all in all, she’s a pretty well-rounded character.”

(14) DIFFERENT BOUNDARIES. Mel Brooks, currently preparing for the opening in London’s West End of a musical version of his film Young Frankenstein, told a reporter, “Blazing Saddles would never be made today”.

He said Blazing Saddles, his Western spoof about a black sheriff in a racist town, could never be made today.

“It’s OK not to hurt the feelings of various tribes and groups,” he said. “However, it’s not good for comedy.

“Comedy has to walk a thin line, take risks. It’s the lecherous little elf whispering in the king’s ear, telling the truth about human behaviour.”

(15) MICHELLE YEOH. A featurette with Star Trek: Discovery’s Captain Georgiou.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Steven H Silver, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, David K.M. Klaus, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]

Your Darn Near Hugo-Free Auxiliary Pixel Scroll 4/27/16 Scrolljira!

Gluten-free, too!

(1) SF HALL OF FAME VOTING. The EMP Museum has opened public voting on the 2016 finalists for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. The deadline to cast your vote is May 11.

In honor of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame’s 20th anniversary, we invited the public to submit their favorite Creators and Creations. After tallying up your nominations (nearly 2,000 submissions!), a committee of industry experts narrowed down the list to the final twenty nominees.

SF Site News observed:

It is the first time the EMP will be inducting a second class into the Hall of Fame, comprised of “Creations” as well as the “Creators” who have traditionally been honored.

Creators

  • Douglas Adams
  • Jorge Luis Borges
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Aldous Huxley
  • Stephen King
  • Stan Lee
  • Terry Pratchett
  • Nichelle Nichols
  • J.K. Rowling
  • Lana & Lilly Wachowski

Creations

  • 1984, by George Orwell
  • Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott
  • Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  • Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
  • The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
  • The Star Wars media franchise, created by George Lucas
  • The Star Trek media franchise, created by Gene Roddenberry
  • “Space Oddity,” by David Bowie
  • The Twilight Zone TV series, created by Rod Serling
  • A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle

(2) OWN ONE OF THE WORLD’S BEST SF COLLECTIONS. Ebay is asking for best offers on what is billed as the “World’s Best Science Fiction Small press and Pulp Magazine Collection – High Grade”.

The owner is willing to sell it outright for US $2,500,000.00.

Details about  World’s Best Science Fiction Small Press and Pulp Magazine Collection High Grade

20,000+ Books Complete Sets Arkham House Fantasy Press

You are bidding on the most extensive, highest graded, complete set of all Small Press Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror books as well as the most extensive very rare pulp magazine collection in the world. Many of the sets below are the best in the world. A few are the only ones in the world, let alone in “like new” condition. Many are also complete (or near complete as some authors were dead at time of publication) signed sets.

You aren’t just buying a bunch of books, you are buying the rarest, and you are buying the best.

There is also a long Q&A section.

How can these things be in such high grade? Are there any fake dustjackets or facsimile reprint books?

EVERYTHING IS ORIGINAL. They are in such high grade because that’s what I go after. I have bought most of the books in the small press collection (for example) 2-4 times a piece. I love to marry high grade dustjackets to high grade books. I regularly buy the highest graded copy of any book that comes up for sale online from any of a couple dozen different book sites) as well as buy from older collectors with long time private collections. My record for any individual book is having bought it 13 times before finding a very high grade copy. Virtually none of these books came from collections I bought as a dealer. I had to buy them all individually. Most of the books I bought individually several times a piece. I’ve assembled all but one of these sets personally….

How large is the collection and book store?

Imagine a three car garage completely full from floor to ceiling, front to back without walking room in between, completely full of books. It’s the equivalent of about 350 to 400 “comic long boxes”, and will take the majority of an 18-wheeler for transportation purposes….

Why sell the personal collection and store together?

There is a lot of cross over interest, and frankly if I own even one book after this auction is over, I’ll just end up buying more….

(3) HAILED INTO COURT. Rachel Swirsky conducts a “Silly Interview with S. B. Divya, Defense Attorney for the Oxford Comma”.

1. Your bio says that “S.B. Divya is a lover of science, math, fiction, and the Oxford comma.” I am here to tell you that the Oxford comma has, unfortunately, been put on trial for its life. However, you are its defense attorney! Make your case.

Your honor, I humbly present the Oxford comma, also known as a serial comma. It is abastion of orderliness in a sea of grammatical chaos. This comma is an exemplary citizen, always obeying a simple rule: that it follows each item in a list until the last. Let us not create an exception to the rule! Let us not say, “It follows each item in a list except for the second to last and the last, which shall be joined by a conjunction.” Nay, let us stand fast against such unwieldy rule-making – such convoluted thinking – and embrace the simplicity that is embodied by this innocuous punctuation mark.

(4) CLASSIC FANZINE DIGITIZED. Linda Bushyager’s 1970s newzine Karass has been scanned and put online at FANAC.ORG.

They currently reside at http://fanac.org/fanzines/Karass/” Go there for a blast from the past (1974-1978). Lots of good artwork too, especially in the final Last Karass issue. If you don’t remember it, Karass was a SF fan newszine I published. My thanks go to Joe and Mark for doing this.

Basically, Karass passed the torch to File 770 at the end of its run. Wasn’t that awhile ago!

(5) CHINA PRESS COVERS HUGO NOMINEE. The South China Morning Post ran this story: “Young writer’s fantastical tale of class inequality in Beijing earns her Hugo Awards nomination”

Hao Jingfang says her sci-fi novelette ‘Folding Beijing’ aims to expose society’s injustices…

The nomination of Hao’s work comes after Chinese author Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem – depicting an alien civilisation’s invasion of earth during the Cultural Revolution – won best novel at the Hugo Awards last year.

Folding Beijing is set in the future, where Beijing folds up so different groups occupy different levels. The protagonist, a waste worker from the Third Space, is hired by a student in the Second Space to send a love letter to a girl in the First Space, despite strong opposition from the girl’s family due to their class difference.

(6) FAN MAIL. Kurt Busiek tweeted a fan letter he once sent to a Marvel comic calling on them to revive the quality of their letter section.

(7) BOOKMARKED. Rachel Swirsky interprets her story “If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love” in a comment at File 770.

“If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love has the clear implication that the author desires violent justice towards people who beat the narrator’s lover into a coma over either their sexuality or their ethnicity.”

OK, author talking about their own story follows. Feel free to skip.

Desires it, sure, but then is like “wow, that would suck and leave victims like me which is not okay.” Or: “I have a base desire to hurt you despite my understanding that it is morally and ethically wrong and would have terrible consequences, and I can’t even really fantasize about it without being overwhelmed by that knowledge and returned to the reality of the real world where nothing helps, nothing changes things, and certainly not revenge.”

(To a certain extent, isn’t that the *same* point Wright makes about homosexuals and tire irons? It’s his impulse, he says, but he’s not doing it, so presumably he’s aware that it is wrong–I hope–or at least that it has social consequences he doesn’t wish to encounter.)

I’m not suggesting you didn’t understand this in your comment. Just that it is a thing that confuses and bugs me about the revenge reading that’s been put forward, since it’s specifically an *anti-revenge* story.

It is an *anti-revenge* story because one of my intimate relations had recently uncovered a history of childhood physical and sexual abuse, and fuck if I didn’t fantasize about stopping or revenging it. But the damage is done. It is incontrovertible. And there is no revenge to be had; the abuser is still around, but what’s the point? It’s been thirty years. The person who did it, and the moment when it could have changed, are gone. All that’s left is the reality of the abuse and its long-lasting damage.

Not that I realized that was the impetus when I was writing it. I didn’t put it together until a lot later, that the story, and the angst I was going through over that, were related.

(I continue to have no problem with people who dislike it based on actual literary criteria, personal definitions of SF, or for sentimentality or manipulation. I would ask the folks in category two to consider noting that “it’s sff” or “it’s not sff” is actually a matter of opinion, not fact, since there is no reifiable SFF; it’s not like it’s a platonic thing that can be identified and pointed to. It’s a mobile boundary, interacting with a lot of other things. In this case, the interaction occurs around conditional tense and storytelling, which has a long history of being considered SFF in cases like The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, and folklore, but I suspect there are also works that are considered realist that use the device. I don’t actually have an investment in whether it’s SFF or not, as I cannot be moved to give a damn about genres, but I think both positions are valid.)

OK, done, thanks, needed a rant.

(8) GET YOUR SECRET DECODER RINGS READY. The signal is on its way from John Scalzi —

(9) HAIR TONIGHT. King Gillette never used this for a commercial.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, and Michael J. Walsh, for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the second shift, Brian Z.]

Bushyager Novels Available Again

Linda Bushyager reports her two science fantasy novels are being reprinted by Wilder press/Fantastic Books. The first is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99 – Master of Hawks. Linda adds:

The books are in the vein of science fantasy, the sort of thing that Andre Norton or Marion Zimmer Bradley or Anne McCaffrey write. In Master of Hawks, the hero is a telepath who can mind-link with all sorts of birds. His kingdom and several neighboring kingdoms are at war, and he is called upon to be a scout, using his ability to see what the enemy is doing. However circumstances send him into a series of dangerous adventures that he doesn’t expect (or want) to accomplish his mission.

By the way, this is the novel in which a certain fanartist was Tuckerized — made the unseen sorcerous presence who rules the Taral Empire with an iron hand.   

Linda’s novel The Spellstone of Shaltus also will soon be reprinted and made available on Amazon.com.

Linda also has an sf novel, Pacifica, written with John Betancourt, which is available at Amazon.com, Borders.com, and Wildside Press. She says, “It is set in the near future, when a food shortage causes a major corporation to begin farming a new type of algae as a food-substitute, and like the fantasy novels, is a face-paced action-adventure.”

Future of Fanzines Past

This article of mine was originally posted on Trufen.net in October 2004.

From-purple-fingers-to-pixel-flingers: When you go, your fanzines stay here – a rule made to avoid cluttering up all Eternity like one big Slanshack. So what will you do to make sure they have a nice warm home?

One solution is to donate them. Pick out a library that is building a fanzine collection. Three ambitious libraries have websites that let you step in and take a virtual tour of their fanzine holdings – UC Riverside’s Eaton Collection, Temple University and the National Library of Australia.

Eaton Collection: The niftiest and most fannish website shows off the Eaton Collection at the University of California, Riverside. Curator George D. Slusser, Ph.D. has put a lot of ingenuity into this display. On the front page, the animated rocket of Fanac blazes above a background that resembles a faded old Twiltone fanzine cover, complete with two rusty staples in the margin. Five icons link to the website’s main divisions – watch how they animate when you click on them!

The foundations of the Eaton Collection’s fanzine catalog came from Terry Carr, Rick Sneary, and Bruce Pelz. It is the most extensive fanzine collection available to researchers. When J. Lloyd Eaton donated his 6,000 hardcover sf books to UC Riverside he helped aim them in the right direction. Bruce Pelz gave them 190,000 fanzines. The collection also has Rick Sneary’s personal correspondence, a unique fanhistorical archive.

Slusser’s website shows remarkable sensitivity to fanzine fandom’s subtle nuances. You can’t get more “inside” than to quote Arnie Katz (from The Trufan’s Advisor) in making a point about print-versus-electronic fanzines. Equally delightful is Slusser’s impatience with the claims of teenaged faneditor Harlan Ellison: “[His fanzine’s] cover promises ‘Ponce de Leon’s Pants,’ a fantasy by Mack Reynolds, which is nowhere inside the covers. Why bother to copyright this stuff?”

Of course, Slusser isn’t completely perfect either – for example the Carr Collection page refers to “Bob Bergeron” as the editor of Warhoon and Linda Bushyager’s “Grandfalloon.”

Then there is the unintentional irony. When Slusser says “The Carr fanzines are stored in acid-free containers in acid-free boxes” I’m sure he means they were acid-free before Richard Bergeron’s prose was slipped inside.

Temple University: Another zine collection is on the opposite coast. Temple University (in Philadelphia) accepted donation of the Paskow Science Fiction Collection in 1972. It has grown since then to 30,000 volumes (plus other stuff, like manuscripts, they can only gauge by the cubic foot… sounds like my office!) Their catalog of fanzine holdings is available at the Paskow Collection’s modest website.

Lots of popular fanzines are represented, though like the Platte River the collection is a mile wide but only an inch deep. There’s one issue of Mimosa, two issues of File 770, the first three issues of Trap Door, and so on. There are whole handfuls of a few other zines, for example, seven issues of Dick Geis’ Psychotic. And a like number of issues of Locus — just none dating later than when Charlie Brown lived in Boston!

Surprisingly, some of the most prolific fanzines are missing entirely. There are no issues of Ansible at all. (But how long can the Paskow Collection be kept uncontaminated, when anybody with an internet connection and a printer can own a complete run?)

National Library of Australia: On the far side of the world, the National Library of Australia owns a fanzine collection with a different slant, primarily Australian media fanzines contributed by long-time Star Trek fan, Sue Batho (formerly Smith-Clarke).

Unfortunately, the webpage about her collection is full of grindingly earnest prose, a jarring contrast to Batho’s appreciation for good entertainment. The tendency begins with the site’s description of Batho herself:

“It would not be unfair to say that Susan Smith-Clarke is one of the founding mothers of media SF fandom in Australia. The accompanying history of Star Trek fandom shows that Susan Smith-Clarke has been involved in many ways and through many years with fandom.”

Z-z-z-z-t — Wha’? I’m sorry, I nodded off there. Not that the earnest narrative completely smothers the subject. Batho’s personal sense of humor peeks through whenever zines are called by their titles, though I suspect the writer picked up some of them with a pair of tongs, for example:

“In this collection, are a number of issues of The Captain’s Briefs….”

However, for newcomers to the field the webpage explains basic terms with unexpected fannishness. Its definition of fanzine reads:

“The actual word means a magazine produced by a fan. Fan itself means, of course, a SF fan, just as Fandom, the collective noun, means SF fandom and nothing else. A non-fan is a mundane, which is why the word does not need any qualification.”

Exactly.

Your Fate Is in Your Hands: When you decide to donate your fanzines, there will be two general questions to think about.

The first question is: Do you want to send them to the place having the most success in acquiring and presenting its collection, or do you want to strengthen a collection that looks like it needs a boost?

It’s not a casual decision. In researching this article I was disappointed to find nothing online about the fanzines held by Bowling Green State University’s Department of Popular Culture. They had an accumulation (it wasn’t organized enough to deserve being called a collection) when I attended there in 1975, most of it donated by Vern Coriell (founder of the Burroughs Bibliophiles.)

The second question is: How will you make sure the transfer happens?

You can do it in your lifetime (as Bruce Pelz did) or through a properly drafted will. By all means, avoid Harry Warner’s mistake of leaving them to the local church and hoping things work out!

One last thought — the representative from the Eaton Collection told John Hertz they are perfectly happy to receive duplicates of zines already in the collection, feeling that makes the holdings more accessible to researchers, the same as having more than one copy of a rare book.

Update 03/05/2009: Updated the links to the Eaton and Paskow collections.

New Jetpack Startup

Martin Jetpack

Whether the Martin Jetpack even deserves the name is controversial:

The fact that the device reached no more than 6 ft. of altitude during its various test runs at Oshkosh could indicate that it’s not achieving true flight, but a limited amount of lift, due to a phenomenon called “ground effect.” Spinning blades can create a cushion of air below a vehicle, which is how hovercrafts glide across the water.

That, and other abuse is being heaped on the startup by its competitors, in a Popular Mechanics article.

David Klaus forwarded the link along with his own comments:

More breathy coverage of the fledgling commercial jetpack industry. I remember Linda Bushyager once saying about the NASFiC, “It was an idea whose time should never have come.” Whether that applies here, further deponent sayeth not. Best comment I ever saw about jetpacks: comic book scene in which the Atom stares, jaw-dropped, as the villain escapes and says, “Wow. Jetpack Hitler. Reality has jumped the shark.”