Pixel Scroll 5/11/18 The Seventh Sealion

(1) SHELDON AND AMY. Some say it’s a bigger wedding than the one coming up across the pond: Yahoo! Entertainment has video — “‘The Big Bang Theory’ wedding gives Mark Hamill the feels”.

Wil Wheaton was originally going to officiate the wedding. But after Howard called in a favor, Mark Hamill replaced him. It was the least Mark could do after Howard found his dog, Bark Hamill.

…Mark Hamill was so taken aback by the touching vows that he was almost too emotional to continue, but he did. Choking back tears, he said, “Then by the power vested in me by evenyoucanperformweddings.com, I now pronounce you husband and wife.”

(2) EXPANSE GETS AXED. Syfy has cancelled The Expanse, however, it may be picked up by another network: “‘The Expanse’ To End On Syfy With Season 3, Will Be Shopped Elsewhere By Alcon”.

The current third season of The Expanse will be the space drama’s last one on Syfy. The cable network has decided not to renew the show for a fourth season, with the last episode slated to air in early July. Alcon Television Group, which fully finances and produces the critically praised series, plans to shop it to other buyers.

The Expanse transported us across the solar system for three brilliant seasons of television,” said Chris McCumber, President, Entertainment Networks for NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. “Everyone at Syfy is a massive fan of the series, and this was an incredibly difficult decision. We want to sincerely thank The Expanse’s amazing cast, crew and all the dedicated creatives who helped bring James S.A. Corey’s story to life. And to the series’ loyal fans, we thank you most of all.”

(3) DINO DAZE. Universal’s “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ‘A Look Inside’ Featurette” explains the new movie’s connection to the series.

It’s been four years since theme park and luxury resort Jurassic World was destroyed by dinosaurs out of containment. Isla Nublar now sits abandoned by humans while the surviving dinosaurs fend for themselves in the jungles. When the island’s dormant volcano begins roaring to life, Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) mount a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from this extinction-level event. Owen is driven to find Blue, his lead raptor who’s still missing in the wild, and Claire has grown a respect for these creatures she now makes her mission. Arriving on the unstable island as lava begins raining down, their expedition uncovers a conspiracy that could return our entire planet to a perilous order not seen since prehistoric times.

 

(4) THIS POISON COMES RECOMMENDED. NPR’s Glen Weldon says: “New ‘Rocky And Bullwinkle’ Is Something We Hope You’ll Really Like”.

Nostalgia is a paralytic toxin.

It’s killing us slowly, steadily: Every time an old, smarmy sitcom, or a pallid network drama, or a toy ad that masqueraded as a cringeworthy children’s cartoon gets dredged from the feculent muck of history’s lake bed and rebooted for a contemporary audience, our cultural blood pressure incrementally drops, our collective pulse grows that much threadier, our soft tissues go just a scosh more necrotic. That’s because these properties exude nostalgia’s deadly poison — they’re sticky with it — and there is no antidote….

Nostalgia is no longer a part of our culture. It has become our culture. And the toxin it carries has leached into the groundwater. It riddles the food chain. It’s airborne. We are lost.

Now: All of the above is true. (Resolutely so. Fundamentally so. Incontrovertibly so.)

And here is another thing that is equally true: This new Rocky and Bullwinkle is pretty good!

(5) SOLO EARLY REACTIONS. The BBC says “Solo: A Star Wars Story praised by first to see it”.

The first reactions to the new Star Wars film Solo have come out, after its premiere in the US.

And the verdict? While some said it was clunky in parts, most loved it – describing the movie as fun, epic and “a blast”.

There was particular praise for Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge, in her role as droid L3-37.

(6) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. The first time a hologram was filmed in a movie was in the 1976 theatrical release of Logan’s Run.  Because of this achievement it won a Special Achievement Academy Award Oscar.

Wikipedia:  “For the scene where Logan is interrogated by the Deep Sleep central computer, it was decided genuine holograms would be most convincing, with Saul David advocating a new hologram effect be created.”

 

For more history, see the American Cinematographer article “The Use of Holograms in ‘Logan’s Run’”.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lise Andreasen learned from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal that Smaug isn’t very smart.

(8) A HEAP OF WATER. Hilbert Schenck should have seen this, says Chip Hitchcock: “Massive wave is southern hemisphere record, scientists believe”.

Scientists in New Zealand have documented what they believe is the largest wave ever recorded in the southern hemisphere.

The 23.8m (78ft) wave was measured by a buoy on New Zealand’s Campbell Island in the Southern Ocean on Tuesday, the country’s weather authority said.

It eclipses a 22.03m wave that was identified south of the Australian state of Tasmania in 2012.

Larger waves have been recorded in the northern hemisphere.

The Meteorological Service of New Zealand (MetService) installed its solar-powered buoy in March. The area is known for big storm activity, but waves had been previously difficult to measure.

(9) PROGRESS REPORT. The Ray Bradbury Experience Museum in Waukegan has a website. They plan to open in 2020.

(10) JDA AND FOGCON. Jon Del Arroz’ version of his experience attending Bay Area convention FogCon (see March 13 Pixel Scroll (item #8)) did not suggest the impression he made would lead to this —

JDA responded in a new blog post [Internet Archive link] by reminding everyone he is already suing the Worldcon:

“It can’t happen to our team, we control the cons,” they might think. Or perhaps they may not think at all. But this is what happens when the path of silencing dissenting ideas is taken. In California, I’ll remind, that there are civil rights laws to address this kind of behavior by organizations. It’s called the Unruh Act, and FogCon, in their attempt to appease a few bullies trying to hate popular conservatives out of fandom, would be good to remember that not applying standards equally to all is very illegal in this state.

(11) GAS LIGHT. Science headline: “Trump White House quietly cancels NASA research verifying greenhouse gas cuts”.

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. The adage is especially relevant for climate-warming greenhouse gases, which are crucial to manage—and challenging to measure. In recent years, though, satellite and aircraft instruments have begun monitoring carbon dioxide and methane remotely, and NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System (CMS), a $10-million-a-year research line, has helped stitch together observations of sources and sinks into high-resolution models of the planet’s flows of carbon. Now, President Donald Trump’s administration has quietly killed the CMS, Science has learned.

…The agency declined to provide a reason for the cancellation beyond “budget constraints and higher priorities within the science budget.” But the CMS is an obvious target for the Trump administration because of its association with climate treaties and its work to help foreign nations understand their emissions, says Phil Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts. And, unlike the satellites that provide the data, the research line had no private contractor to lobby for it.

The cancelation saves only $10 million/year; which seems well below the rounding error; NASA’s budget is about $20 billion/year.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/25/17 When All Of A Sudden There Arose Such a Pixel

(1) STAR EXPLAINER. The New York Times profiles sf fan favorite Brother Guy Consolmagno in “Searching for the (Star) Light at the Vatican Observatory”.

Some 2,000 years ago, a celestial phenomenon is believed to have lit up the sky. Guiding the wise men of New Testament lore to the birthplace of Jesus, the star of Bethlehem has since become a planetarium and Christmas carol favorite.

What that star might have been — a comet, supernova, or the conjunction of planets, let alone whether it ever existed — is one of the recurring questions that Brother Guy Consolmagno is called on to answer even though, he noted dryly, “it has nothing to do with our work as scientists at the Vatican Observatory.”

“Too often people get distracted by the Star and forget to look at the Child! And yet I also have to admit I feel a certain joy in the story, and a joy that this story has been so popular for so many people over the centuries,” said Brother Consolmagno, since 2015, the director of La Specola Vaticana (which translates as Vatican Observatory). “Of course, we have no idea what Matthew was writing about. It doesn’t matter!”

The observatory is the only Vatican institution that does scientific research, and Brother Consolmagno, a former physics professor and later-in-life Jesuit, is the public face of an institution whose work “is to show the world that the church supports science.”

(2) UP ABOVE THE WORLD SO HIGH. And here’s what you can look forward to if you keep watching the skies – “Astronomy Calendar For 2018”

(3) TRACKING SANTA. It wasn’t an unlisted number after this happened: “NORAD’s Santa Tracker Began With A Typo And A Good Sport”.

This Christmas Eve people all over the world will log on to the official Santa Tracker to follow his progress through U.S. military radar. This all started in 1955, with a misprint in a Colorado Springs newspaper and a call to Col. Harry Shoup’s secret hotline at the Continental Air Defense Command, now known as NORAD.

Shoup’s children, Terri Van Keuren, 65, Rick Shoup, 59, and Pam Farrell, 70, recently visited StoryCorps to talk about how the tradition began.

Terri remembers her dad had two phones on his desk, including a red one. “Only a four-star general at the Pentagon and my dad had the number,” she says.

“This was the ’50s, this was the Cold War, and he would have been the first one to know if there was an attack on the United States,” Rick says.

The red phone rang one day in December 1955, and Shoup answered it, Pam says. “And then there was a small voice that just asked, ‘Is this Santa Claus?’ ”

His children remember Shoup as straight-laced and disciplined, and he was annoyed and upset by the call and thought it was a joke — but then, Terri says, the little voice started crying.

“And Dad realized that it wasn’t a joke,” her sister says. “So he talked to him, ho-ho-ho’d and asked if he had been a good boy and, ‘May I talk to your mother?’ And the mother got on and said, ‘You haven’t seen the paper yet? There’s a phone number to call Santa. It’s in the Sears ad.’ Dad looked it up, and there it was, his red phone number. And they had children calling one after another, so he put a couple of airmen on the phones to act like Santa Claus.”

(4) DIAGNOSIS GRINCH. The Washington Post’s Susan Svrluga, in “The Grinch needs a good cardiologist, and other holiday stories explained by scientists”, interviews area scientists who answer scientific questions posed by fictional works, such as why Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’s nose glows.  (It could be because Santa’s sleigh crash-landed into the Red Sea and Rudolph got doused in glowing coral.)  Among the scientists interviewed was Johns Hopkins medical school cardiologist Dr. David Kass, who argues the reason why the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes in a day after he pigs out on Whoville food is that the Grinch is a snake and snake’s hearts expand after big meals.

(5) THE PERMANENT CAMPAIGN. Charles Stross, jockeying to keep his series eligible for a future year where he thinks there will be more UK voters to back him, asks —

Please do not nominate the Laundry Files for the best series Hugo award in 2018.

(Explanation below the cut.)

The rules for the best series Hugo award stipulate:

Previous losing finalists in the Best Series category shall beeligible only upon the publication of at least two (2) additional installments consisting in total of at least 240,000 words after they qualified for their last appearance on the final ballot and by the close of the previous calendar year.

This means that if series X is shortlisted in 2018 and loses, it won’t be eligible again until two more installments amounting to 240,000 words have been published in a subsequent year.

There is a significantly better chance of either series winning the award at a British—or Irish—worldcon, such as the one in Dublin in 2019, simply because the worldcon attendees will include more of my UK readers. However, a nomination in 2018 would probably lose (there are plenty of very good series works by American authors: consider Max Gladstone or Seanan McGuire, for example) and thereby disqualify me from eligibility in 2019.

(6) NOT TOO LATE. If you didn’t already get the gift you wanted this holiday season, maybe you can fill the void with the “Star Wars R2-D2 Coffee Press”. Or not – I keep visualizing giving R2 a sinus headache every time…

(7) OBITUARY.  Heather Menzies-Urich (1949-2017), best known for portraying Louisa von Trapp in the 1965 film The Sound of Music, died December 24 at the age of 68. Her main genre credit was starring as Jessica 6 in the TV series Logan’s Run (1977-78). She had an uncredited role in The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969); other genre appearances include Sssssss (1973), The Six Million Dollar Man (one episode, 1977), Piranha (1978), Captain America (1979), Endangered Species (1982).

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 25, 1980 Altered States first premiered in theatres.
  • December 25, 1999 Galaxy Quest opened.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • December 25, 1924 – Rod Serling

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) NAUGHTY. The Guardian’s research shows Home Alone atop the pyramid — “Data sketch: the most pirated Christmas movies”. It’s A Wonderful Life is listed, too – I thought it was in public domain now?

(12) CHIANG OP-ED REBUTTED. Tech Crunch’s Jon Evans mounts a defense: “Ted Chiang is a genius, but he’s wrong about Silicon Valley”.

Ted Chiang isn’t just one of the greatest science-fiction writers alive — he’s one of the greatest writers alive full stop. Which is why I was so saddened and disappointed by his recent excoriation of Silicon Valley in BuzzFeed. As the tech industry grows ever more powerful, we need brilliant minds critiquing and dissecting its many flaws. Instead we got a trenchant takedown of a Valley that only exists in the minds of especially shallow journalists.

To be clear, his larger point is dead on: that being that the worry about an AI which maximizes for the wrong thing, most famously one which is told to make paperclips and responds by turning the entire planet into paperclips, is a worry which applies perfectly and exactly to capitalism itself.

…But the thing Chiang doesn’t get is: Silicon Valley is actually not a home of paperclip capitalism. That’s Wall Street. That’s Confessions of an Economic Hit Man-style neoliberal globalization. That’s not the tech industry. The Valley is a flawed and sometimes terrible place, true, but it’s a nuanced sometimes flawed and terrible place.

(13) WATER IS COMING. I don’t know if it would melt the Wall, but it wouldn’t do any good to the rest of the world — “This is what global warming would do to the ‘Game of Thrones’ planet”.

The warring inhabitants of Westeros — one of the four known continents in the Game of Thrones world — dread the planet’s long, unforgiving winters. But a global warming event there, stoked by an influx of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, would likely be even more dire.

Earlier this week, University of Bristol climate scientist Dan Lunt published a study that modeled the doubling of carbon dioxide on the Game of Thrones fantasy world. His results show that if these levels doubled over the course of a century, the average temperature on the planet would warm by over 2 degrees Celsius, or about 3.5 Fahrenheit. This climatic shift would make some areas nearly uninhabitable and unleash devastating natural disasters.

(14) A TOM LEHRER HOLIDAY. Mr. Sci-Fi renders the Science Fiction Christmas Song (recorded in 2014.)

Sci-Fi Ubergeek Marc Zicree sings Tom Lehrer’s Christmas song as great science fiction Christmas images from 1950s Galaxy Magazine and other sources flash by. Marc just recorded this song for Coast to Coast AM’s Christmas Album, with proceeds going to charity.

 

(15) THE DARTH VADER YULE LOG. A seasonal tradition (since 2015).

Gather the younglings for a centuries old family tradition the Darth Vader Yule Log. Sith Lords will be roasting on an open fire, as you sit back an enjoy some holiday classics.

 

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, JJ, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Daniel Dern, and Steve Green for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day OGH.]

Pixel Scroll 11/19/16 Don’t Pixel Me, I Didn’t Scroll!

(1) BEST OF TREK. ScreenRant ranks “The 20 Best Characters in Star Trek History”. Warning: Quark is on this list.

Creating something that stands the test of time is no easy feat, let alone creating something that can stay relevant and maintain a firm, devoted fanbase that spans decades and cultures. In fifty years, Star Trek has produced 546 hours of entertainment through five TV series and thirteen movies. It has told hundreds of stories with thousands of original characters. Admittedly, not all those characters were classic— some seemed to exist just because we can’t have nice things— but Star Trek is a journey, and sometimes it’s not about the destination; it’s about who you traveled with….

  1. KHAN – the original series / kelvin timeline

Khan has made—if you count Into Darkness—only three appearances in the Trek film and television lore. Ask even non-fans and they’ll know at least the basics about who Khan from Star Trek is.

Part of the reason for Khan’s popularity is—whether fans want to admit it or not—that he is technically somewhat justified. His reasons for hating and blaming Kirk are surprisingly solid and well-considered. Imagine being exiled and having to fend for yourself when a cataclysm kills the people you loved and protected—including your wife. All those years with nothing to read but Paradise Lost and Moby Dick. So, you make it out finally, only to learn that the man you hated is even more beloved and respected than before. Remember how galled Khan was repeatedly whispering “Admiral Kirk” when he heard of his enemy’s promotion.

In the end, it isn’t even Kirk who beat Khan. Rather, Khan did it to himself. Even Joachim pleaded repeatedly that Khan had already proven his superiority by surviving and escaping, but that wasn’t enough. In a film steeped so heavily in literature and religious themes, it was Khan’s original sin that always defeated him: pride.

(2) NEXT MODERN MASTERS OF SF. Theodora Goss has been tapped to write the Ursula K. Le Guin volume of Modern Masters of Science Fiction series from University of Illinois Press.

I hope this is a little good news in the midst of so much bad. I’ve signed a contract to write the Ursula K. Le Guin volume of Modern Masters of Science Fiction, a wonderful series from University of Illinois Press. So: I’m going to be writing a book on Ursula Le Guin! It’s going to be about her life, her work, her ideas . . . which I think are especially important to us now. We need the kind of insight into political dystopias, and how to rethink/recreate the world, that Le Guin has been giving us throughout her writing career. It’s a tremendous honor to be writing this book.

Here are the subjects of the other books already released in the series:

  • John Brunner (2013)
  • William Gibson (2013)
  • Gregory Benford (2014)
  • Ray Bradbury (2014)
  • Greg Egan (2014)
  • Lois McMaster Bujold (2015)
  • Frederik Pohl (2015)
  • Octavia E. Butler (2016)
  • Alfred Bester (2016)

(3) CAN THIS BE THE END OF LITTLE RICO? The Traveler at Galactic Journey thinks John W. Campbell is washed up — [November 19, 1961] See Change (December 1961 Analog ).

Analog has had the same master since the early 30s: John W. Campbell.  And while Campbell has effected several changes in an attempt to revive his flagging mag (including a name change, from Astounding; the addition of a 20-page “slick” section in the middle of issues; and a genuinely effective cover design change (see below)), we’ve still had the same guy at the stick for three decades.  Analog has gotten decidedly stale, consistently the worst of The Big Three (in my estimation).

You can judge for yourself.  Just take a gander at the December 1961 issue.  It does not do much, if anything, to pull the once-great magazine from its shallow dive:…

(4) LEWIS THE JOVIAN. Michael Ward (Planet Narnia) decrypts planetary symbolism in “C.S. Lewis, Jupiter, and Christmas”.

How apt, incidentally, that Lewis’s favourite Oxford pub, the Eagle & Child, home to so many meetings of the Inklings, was named for an episode in the life of Zeus, the forerunner in Greek mythology of the Roman god, Jupiter. Zeus fell in love with the beautiful child, Ganymede, and sent an eagle to snatch him up to Mount Olympus where he could serve as his royal cup-bearer.

Those who knew C.S. Lewis have often noted his joviality, though not always with a clear recognition of the significance the term had for him in his personal lexicon. Paul Piehler remembers ‘a plumpish, red-faced Ulsterman with a confident, jovial Ulster rasp to his voice’. Peter Milward recalls ‘a burly, red-faced, jovial man’. John Lawlor relates how Lewis’s ‘determined and even aggressive joviality was all on the surface: within was a settled contentment’. Peter Bayley describes him as ‘Jove-like, imperious, certain, absolute’. Richard Ladborough says he was ‘frequently jovial’. W.R. Fryer speaks of his ‘jovial maleness’. Peter Philip opines that ‘his manner was jovial when he was in a good mood, which I must say was most of the time’. Pat Wallsgrove likens Lewis to ‘a jovial farmer’. Claude Rawson writes that his nickname, ‘Jack’, was ‘well suited to his jovial “beer and Beowulf” image’. Nevill Coghill recalls that, although Lewis was formidable, ‘this was softened by joviality’. Douglas Gresham remembers his step-father as ‘jovial’. The title of Chesterton’s novel, The Man Who Was Thursday, might have been coined as a description of C.S. Lewis, notwithstanding his Tuesday nativity!

But though so many people use the word ‘jovial’ of the man, only George Watson, his Cambridge colleague, explicitly recognizes how important the planetary derivation was for Lewis himself: ‘His own humour was sanguine, its presiding deity Jove, and . . . he knew that it was’ (Watson, Critical Essays on C.S. Lewis, 1992, p3). Peter Milward goes further, making a link to Lewis’s fiction. Having emphasized Lewis’s ‘sturdily jovial manner’, Milward notes an important connection: ‘he was indeed a . . . jovial man; and these qualities of his I later recognized . . . in his character of the kingly animal, Aslan.’

Aslan, Narnia’s Christ figure, brings us to Christmas and the birth of the infant Jesus. In early January 1953, Lewis wrote to Ruth Pitter remarking on what he had seen in the night-sky during the recent Christmas: ‘It was beautiful, on two or three successive nights about the Holy Time, to see Venus and Jove blazing at one another, once with the Moon right between them: Majesty and Love linked by Virginity – what could be more appropriate?’ Venus signifies love, of course, and the Moon virginity. Jupiter signifies majesty or kingliness and, as such, was a very suitable symbol for Christ, the ‘king of kings’ (Revelation 19:16).

(5) THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY. Steve Davidson borrows a File 770 tradition in his post “Appertain yourself”. (I know he’ll appreciate that I made this item #5, too.)

(6) REMINDS ME OF A CHRIS HADFIELD DEMO. Loss of ship’s gravity threatens Jennifer Lawrence with drowning in this new clip from Passengers.

(7) KAIJU T-SHIRT. Godzilla intercepts a little snack, in a t-shirt satirizing E.T.’s iconic Moon image. (For sale here, among other places.)

godzilla-t-shirt

(8) YOUR FACTS MAY VARY. ScreenRant has scientifically researched “8  Sci-Fi Ships Faster Than The Millennium Falcon – And 7 That Come Close”, for some values of “scientifically researched”.

  1. Spaceball One (Spaceballs)

It’s only fitting that one of the ships that can travel faster than the Millennium Falcon is a ship from one of the world’s best Star Wars parodies: Spaceballs, directed by none other than Mel Brooks. In the movie, Darth Vader’s counterpart, Dark Helmet (played by Rick Moranis) is tasked by Skroob to force King Roland of Druidia to give them their air. So, Dark Helmet plans to accomplish this task by kidnapping the king’s daughter, Princess Vespa, on the day of her wedding.

Unfortunately for Dark Helmet, she fled her wedding before he and his tremendously large ship, Spaceball One, could arrive. The ship, commanded by Colonel Sandurz, is presumably the biggest and fastest ship in the galaxy, for it is outfitted with secret hyperjets. These unknown parts allow Spaceball One to travel at 1,360,000,000 times the speed of light — far greater than its Star Wars counterpart, the Imperial I-Class Star Destroyer.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

November 19, 1969  — Apollo 12 landed on the moon. Astronauts Pete Conrad and Alan Bean become the third and fourth humans to walk on the moon.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born November 19, 1919 — Alan Young, who played two roles in The Time Machine and was also in Tom Thumb both directed by George Pal…not to mention being Wilbur.

(11) RETURN TO RURITANIA. Ann Leckie shares “Things I’ve read lately”.

Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones

This is a Ruritanian fantasy. It’s also a pretty straight-ahead romance, which isn’t generally my thing, but I enjoyed it quite a lot. It takes place in the fictional tiny European country of Alpennia, and involves inheritances and wills and political intrigue. There’s also magic, very Christianity-based, a matter of petitioning saints in the right way at the right times. It’s the sort of thing that could easily turn me off, but I thought was handled very very well. Basically an eccentric wealthy baron leaves nearly everything he owns–except his title and the estate attached to it–to his god-daughter, a young woman nearly at her legal majority but being pressured to find a husband who can support her, since she has no means of her own. “Everything the baron owns” includes his bodyguard/duellist, another young woman. The bodyguard can’t be freed yet, because of the terms of the baron’s will, and besides the new young baron really resents being done out of the money he expected to inherit and will stop at nothing to get it, as well as his revenge. This is lots of fun, and Goodreads calls it “Alpennia #1” which implies there are more, so those are going on my long long TBR list for whenever I can get to them.

(12) THE FUTURE WAS HERE. Here’s Logan’s Run Official Trailer #1. Makes me remember that the futuristic city scenes were shot on location in a Dallas shopping mall. Yes, we were already in the future in 1976. Where that puts us now in 2016?

(13) THE PRIZE. This TV Guide Big Bang Theory episode rehash (BEWARE SPOILERS) reveals what Stephen Hawking feels is really important in life. For comedic purposes, anyway.

Later, Stephen Hawking himself Skypes in to talk to Leonard and Sheldon (Jim Parsons), who spent the episode consumed with jealousy of Bert’s (Brian Posehn) “genius grant.” Hawking tells Sheldon that he doesn’t need any awards to feel good about himself.

The brilliant physicist consoles Sheldon by telling him, “I’ve never won a Nobel Prize.” He’s alright with that, though, because he got something better: he was on The Simpsons.

(14) THE STAR WARS I USED TO KNOW. JJ says, “Not new… but then it’s always new to somebody, including me.” And me, too!

Here’s the original, for comparison —

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]

Pixel Scroll 6/23/16 Where The Scrolls Have No Name

(1) THE LEMONADE IS READY. Rachel Swirsky’s Patreon donors are enjoying the squozen fruits of victory.

One of those donors tells me the story has two Chapter Fives.

(2) AXANAR TEASERS. Space.com ran an exclusive story,  “Trailer for ‘Star Trek: Axanar’ Unveiled Amid Lawsuit”, about the filmmaker’s unexpected decision:

A second teaser trailer for a fan-made “Star Trek” movie was released this week, despite an ongoing lawsuit over the film.

The new teaser trailer for “Star Trek: Axanar” was released by the filmmakers yesterday (June 22). Called “Honor Through Victory,” the trailer shows Klingon ships flying through a planetary ring system and features an intense voice-over that sounds like a prebattle pep talk. This is the second of three teaser trailers set to be released this week. The first, titled “Stands United,” also appeared online yesterday. The “Honor Through Victory” teaser trailer was shared exclusively with Space.com.

 

(3) VINTAGE TV. Echo Ishii is tracking down antique sf shows in “SF Obscure: The wishlist Roundup” for Smart Girls Love Sci-Fi Romance.

Since it’s summer once again, it’s time  to I hunt down the really obscure classics or try to sample B/C list  shows and see how many episodes I can survive. This time around I decided to make a list of those shows which I have not seen, but added to my wishlist. Most are only on limited DVD runs.  Based on cloudy memories jarred by  the vast world of YouTube, I  tracked down a stray episodes, or a set of clips, or an old commercial to remind me of their existence. Here are a select few.

The post discusses Mercy Point, Birds of Prey, Starhunter, and Space Rangers.

(4) JIM CARREY TURNS TO HORROR. Variety reports “Jim Carrey, Eli Roth Team on Horror Film ‘Aleister Arcane’”.

Jim Carrey will star in and executive produce while Eli Roth directs the long-in-development horror movie “Aleister Arcane” for Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment.

“Aleister Aracane,” written by Steven Niles, was first published in 2004 by IDW Comics. Jon Croker will adapt for the screen.

Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman will produce along with Michael Aguilar.

The story centers on a group of children who befriend a bitter old man ruined and shunned by their parents. After his death, only they have the power to thwart the curse he has laid upon their town.

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY

Logans Run

  • June 23, 1976 Logan’s Run (the movie) was released.
  • June 23, 1989 — Tim Burton’s noir spin on the well-known story of the DC Comics hero Batman is released in theaters.
  • June 23, 2016 – Today is National Pink Flamingo Day.

(6) FIRST PAST THE POST. Rachel Neumeier tells how she surprised herself in “Hugo Voting: at last, the novels”:

Okay, now, listen. I went in knowing, just *knowing* that I was either going to put Ancillary Mercy or Uprooted in the top spot, the other one second. I hadn’t read the other three nominees at the time. I was happy to try The Fifth Season, unhappy about being forced to try Seveneves, and okay if not enthusiastic with trying The Aeronaut’s Windlass.

That’s how I started out.

I have seldom been more surprised in my life as to find myself putting Seveneves in the top spot….

I guess I’d better read it after all. 😉

(7) PUPPY CHOW. Lisa Goldstein continues her reviews of Hugo nominated work with “Short Story: ‘If You Were an Award, My Love’”. About the review she promises: “It’s a bit intemperate.”

“If You Were an Award, My Love” is not so much a story as a group of schoolkids drawing dirty pictures in their textbooks and snickering.

(8) JUSTICE IS NOT BLIND. Joe Sherry continues his series at Nerds of a Feather with “Reading the Hugos: Short Story”, in which No Award does not finish last….

While I am clearly not blind to the controversy surrounding this year’s Hugo Awards (nor is The G, for that matter), I have mostly chosen to cover each category on the relative subjective merits of the nominated works. I understand that this is something that not everyone can or will choose to do, but it is the way that I have elected to engage with the Hugo Awards. While the result of the Hugo Awards short list is not significantly different in regards to the Rabid Puppies straight up dominating most of the categories / finalists with their slate, the difference is that this year they have selected to bulk nominate a group that includes more works that might have otherwise had a reasonable chance of making the ballot and also that meets my subjective definition of “quality”. That slate from the Rabid Puppies also includes a number of works that come across as little more than an extended middle finger to the people who care about the Hugo Awards. Feel free to argue with any or all of my opinions here.

(9) FEELING COLD. Not that Kate Paulk liked any of these Hugo nominees, but in her pass through the Best Semiprozine category she delivered the least condemnation to Sci Phi Journal:

Sci Phi Journal edited by Jason Rennie – Sci Phi was the only finalist with any content that drew me in, and honestly, not all of it. I could have done without the philosophical questions at the end of each fiction piece, although that is the journal’s signature, so I guess it’s required. I’d rather ponder the questions the stories in questions raised without the explicit pointers – although I will say they weren’t as heavy-handed as they could have been, and they did highlight the issues quite well. I’m just fussy, I guess.

(10) AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL GRAPHIC NOVEL. Paul Dini signs at Vromans Bookstore in Pasadena on Friday, June 24 at 7:00.

Dark Knight

This is a Batman story like no other the harrowing and eloquent autobiographical tale of writer Paul Dini’s courageous struggle to overcome a desperate situation.

The Caped Crusader has been the all-abiding icon of justice and authority for generations. But in this surprising original graphic novel, we see Batman in a new light as the savior who helps a discouraged man recover from a brutal attack that left him unable to face the world. In the 1990s, legendary writer Paul Dini had a flourishing career writing the hugely popular “Batman: The Animated Series” and “Tiny Toon Adventures.” Walking home one evening, he was jumped and viciously beaten within an inch of his life. His recovery process was arduous, hampered by the imagined antics of the villains he was writing for television including the Joker, Harley Quinn and the Penguin. But despite how bleak his circumstances were, or perhaps because of it, Dini also always imagined the Batman at his side, chivvying him along during his darkest moments. A gripping graphic memoir of one writer’s traumatic experience and his deep connection with his creative material, Dark Night: A True Batman Story is an original graphic novel that will resonate profoundly with fans. Art by the incredible and talented Eduardo Risso…

(11) WORLD FANTASY AWARD WINNER. Jesse Hudson reviews Sofia Samatar’s A Stranger in Olondria at Speculiction.

If it isn’t obvious, A Stranger in Olondria is one of those novels where the road beneath the feet only reveals itself after the reader has taken the step—what the foot lands so rich and engaging as to compel the next step.  The novel a journey of discovery, there are elements of Robert Silverberg’s Lord Valentine’s Castle as much as Ursula Le Guin’s The Tombs of Atuan.  A coming of age via a very personal quest, Samatar unleashes all her skill as a storyteller in relating Jevick’s tale.

But the novel’s heart is nicely summed up by Amel El-Mohtar: it is about the human “vulnerability to language and literature, and the simultaneous experience of power and surrender inherent in the acts of writing and reading.”

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

Pixel Scroll 6/14/16 The Scroll Above The Port Was The Color of a Pixel, Encoded in a Dead Website

(1) BIG CON BUSINESS. At ICv2 Rob Salkowitz analyzes “Three Convention Trends We Could Do Without”, art scammers, pay to (cos)play and –

Indifference to fan experience. The rising prominence of cons means more and more families and individuals plan vacations and big-ticket trips around these experiences. The expectations are higher, and more at stake for the business in delivering great experiences.

Naturally, each year, there are always a few bad cons, and bad moments at good cons. These are complex events to organize, and well-meaning folks can get in over their heads. I find it’s best to never attribute to malevolence what can adequately be explained by incompetence.

But as the industry becomes more competitive and conventions become more templated, it’s easy to see how organizers can get so focused on the “best practices” for separating fans from their money that they lose sight of the big picture: that this whole business is built on fun and passion.

The more shows become dependent on tightly-booked celebrities, the more likely that some fans will get the runaround. It’s already astounding to me how much some fans will put up with – and spend – to get a few seconds and a photo with a famous media personality. But when cons lose control of this process, either because they are not following through on little details like whether the photos actually came out properly, or because they are having a behind-the-scenes business dispute with their talent, as happened at Houston’s Space City Comic Con a few weeks ago, it’s the fans who suffer.

(2) THREE BODY. Carl Slaughter delivers another awesome interview: “Liu Cixin, The 3 Body Problem, and the Growth of SF in China”. Where? Here!

CARL SLAUGHTER: Why was science fiction not taken seriously in China until several years ago?

LIU CIXIN: Actually, the 80s was a peak period for Chinese science fiction.  Some books during that period sold as many as 4 million copies.  When public officials deemed parts of science fiction socially unhealthy, publishers went through a slump.  In the 21st century, science fiction in China made a comeback.  This might be related to China’s modernization.  Modernization focuses people’s attention on the future.  They see the future as full of opportunities, as well as crisis and challenges.  This set the stage for the development of science fiction and an interest in this literary form.

(3) GAMER. In “Guest Post: Better Sci-Fi Through Gaming, by Yoon Ha Lee”, the author talks about growing up gaming, for the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.

Not that I needed writing a novel an excuse to play games, mind you. But it made for useful background. One of the major characters in the novel basically is a game designer; he comes  from the Shuos faction, which likes using games and game design in its pedagogy. It’s something I can trace back to my excellent 8th grade teacher Mr. Capin, who taught social studies and made use of simulations. I’ll never forget the Middle East sim, in which the class was divided up into different nations. I was assigned to “Israel.” Mr. Capin also played the role of the USA, and from time to time, the “USA” would drop “foreign aid” on us. The other groups hated us instantly. Another time, we did the “Roman Senate,” with Mr. Capin playing the role of “Julius Caesar.” He gave me the opportunity to try to stop him, so long as I didn’t spoil what was to come. I was insufficiently persuasive, and he assassinated me. (I have never been prouder to have a teacher announce, “Senator Yoon is dead.” God knows, that’s the closest I’ll ever come to a government position!) It was very visceral, and I’ve never forgotten how vivid the lessons became in that format.

(4) GHOSTBUSTED. “Doc” Geressey, a fixture at cons in NC, SC, and VA for several years, known for having a very exact Ghostbusters replica vehicle and dressing up as a Ghostbuster with friends, has been charged with soliciting a child on social media.

The Gaston Gazette reports:

Michael “Doc” Robert Geressy, 36, of South New Hope Road, has been charged with soliciting a child for sex act by a computer and appearing to meet a child.

Detectives with the Lincolnton Police Department conducted an undercover sting operation involving Geressy. An officer posed as a 14-year-old child on social media. Geressy reportedly discussed meeting to engage in sexual activity.

When Geressy arrived at the predetermined location and was arrested, he was wearing a black suit, tie and sunglasses, police said, like characters in the movie, “Men in Black.” Geressy showed up driving a 1987 Ford Crown Victoria that is a replica of the car used in the movie, according to reports. The vehicle had emergency light equipment as well as after-market toggle switches to replicate the car seen in the movie, police say.

Another member of The Carolina Ghostbusters told the reporter that the group disbanded a year ago, however, they were advertised as appearing at XCON World in Myrtle Beach last month.

carolina_ghostbusters

(5) MESZAROS OBIT. Michu Meszaros, an actor who brought the titular alien in ’80s sitcom “Alf” to life, has died reports Variety. He was 76.

I had no idea – I thought Alf was a puppet….

(6) TEMERAIRE. Kate Nepveu reviews the series finale: “The Temeraire Series Sticks the Landing: Non-Spoiler Review of League of Dragons”, at Tor.com.

Let me put the conclusion up front: League of Dragons sticks the landing, and if you like the series overall, you should read it. It handles gracefully the general challenges of concluding a long series, and it has lots of the best parts of the series to date, and not that much of the worst.

The general challenges are, by this point, fairly well known. The final book of a long series has to address long-standing problems, without being boringly obvious; surprise the reader, without being unfair; maintain continuity, without letting past decisions unduly constrict the story; and give the reader a satisfying sense of where the important characters wind up, without overstaying its welcome.

I think League of Dragons does well on all these fronts.

(7) A PG-RATED DRAGON. Disney dropped the official trailer for Pete’s Dragon today.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 14, 1938 — The first Superman comic book — Action Comic No. 1 — was published

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • June 14, 1909 – Burl Ives, the voice of Gepetto in a Pinocchio TV movie, and Sam the Snowman in Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer, who also had a role in an episode of Night Gallery.
  • June 14, 1949 – Harry Turtledove

(10) WHY WAIT FOR THE MOVIE? Based on viewing the trailer, BBC popular culture writer Nicholas Barber gives the Ghostbusters remake a thumb’s-down, but only for the “right” reasons: “Why the sexists get Ghostbusters wrong”.

Fast-forward 32 years, and it doesn’t look as if much of that innovation and counter-cultural grubbiness has made it into the new film. From what we have seen of it so far, Feig’s version will be a slavish copy of Reitman’s – right down to the cameos by Slimer and the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man – except with bright and shiny CGI replacing practical effects, and all-for-one togetherness replacing cynical opportunism. But the one thing it has got right is its casting. After all, the Ghostbusters were always meant to be unconventional underdogs. They were meant to be the last people you would expect to save the world from demonic forces – just as the film as a whole was meant to challenge your preconceptions of what a summer blockbuster could be. And one ingenious way to give both the new film and its protagonists that pioneering freshness is to have women in the lead roles.

(11) RADIANCE. Speculiction hosts Jesse Hudson’s “Review of Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente”.

Working with the art of filmmaking, the relationship between the fictional and the real, and Hollywood of old, Radiance is a novel that possesses every ounce of Valente’s literary awareness and fervor for language. Paul Di Filippo calls it “uncategorizable fantastika,” which is, in fact, a shortcut from Valente’s own more complex but accurate description: “a decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery.” Dynamic to say the least, the milieu is never allowed to desiccate into simple retro-pulp homage, going further to tell a rich, multi-faceted tale of one woman’s life and legacy in Hollywood’s Golden Age—or what it would have been were the solar system alive with humanity.

(12) MONEY IN HAND. Buy a first edition of Logan’s Run, signed and decorated by Bill Nolan, from Captain Ahab’s Rare Books.

  1. Nolan, William F. and George Clayton Johnson. LOGAN’S RUN – INSCRIBED TO HERB YELLIN. New York: The Dial Press, 1967. First American Edition. First Printing. Octavo (23cm); red pebbled paper-covered boards, with titles stamped in black on spine; dustjacket; [10], 134pp. Inscribed by the author to his long-time friend and publisher on the half-title page: “A GEN-U-INE LOGAN 1ST!! / To Herb, with hand, and with friendship, Bill Nolan / June 4, ’80.” At the center of the page Nolan has drawn an open hand with crystal disc in red, blue, and black ink; he has also tipped a typed 41-line bio of himself (measuring 2.75″ x 3.5″) onto the opposite page. Pinpoint wear to spine ends and corners, with upper rear board corner gently tapped (though still sharp); very Near Fine. Dustjacket is unclipped (priced $3.95), lightly shelfworn, with a few short tears, shallow loss at crown, with a few small chips along edges of front panel; an unrestored, Very Good+ example.

Nolan’s best-known work, a novel which takes place “after a strange act of nuclear terrorism, forcing the remaining population into underground keeps; a youth culture takes over, instituting the dystopian rule that all those over twenty-one must be killed to combat overpopulation” (Encyclopedia of Science Fiction). Basis for Michael Anderson’s Oscar-nominated 1976 film, starring Michael York and Farrah Fawcett. Sargent, p.144.             $1,750.00

Logans Run nolan auto

(13) SIMAK FAN. The Traveler at Galactic Journey is excited about this recently-completed serial: “[June 14, 1961] Time is the simplest thing… (The Fisherman, by Clifford Simak)”.

If you’re a fan of Cliff’s, you know that he excels at writing these intensely personal stories, particularly when they have (as this one does) a rural tinge.  The former Fisherman’s transformation into something more than human is fascinating.  Blaine’s voyage of self-discovery and self-preservation is an intimate one, a slow journey with a growing and satisfying pay-off.  The pace drags a little at times, and Simak adopts this strange habit of beginning a good many of his sentences with the auxiliary words “for” and “and,” which lends an inexorable, detached tone to the proceedings.

Still, it’s an unique book, one that I suspect will contend for a Hugo this year.  It single-handedly kept Analog in three-star territory despite the relative poor quality of its short stories and science articles.

I won’t spoil things for The Traveler by blabbing about what else came out in 1961 if you won’t….

(14) THE SPY WHO SLAGGED ME. James Bond vs Austin Powers – Epic Rap Battles of History – Season 5.

[Thanks to Laura Haywood-Cory, Chip Hitchcock, Hampus Eckerman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day John A Arkansawyer.]

Pixel Scroll 4/17/16 Hives of Light

(1) TIE-IN BOOKS. “The Secret Life of Novelizations”, an 11 minute segment on WYNC.

Write a great book and you’re a genius. Turn a book into a great film and you’re a visionary. Turn a great film into a book…that’s another story.

Novelizations of films are regular best-sellers with cult followings — some are even more beloved than the films that spawned them — but respected they are not. Instead, they’re assumed to be the literary equivalent of merchandise: a way for the movie studios to make a few extra bucks, and a job for writers who aren’t good enough to do anything else. But the people who write them beg to differ.

OTM producer Jesse Brenneman goes inside the world of novelizations, featuring authors Max Allan CollinsAlan Dean FosterElizabeth Hand, and Lee Goldberg.

(2) SPOCK DOC. Lance Ulanoff reviews For the Love of Spock at Mashable — “’For the Love of Spock’ is a moving love letter to an icon and a father”.

For the Love of Spock is three stories woven together into a solid, emotionally charged strand. There is the story of a gifted actor — a renaissance man, as he is described in the film — and his journey from bit player to fame, fortune and permanent pop-culture icon status.

It’s also the story of a character who sprang from the mind of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, but became flesh and blood — and Vulcan salutes — in the hands of Nimoy. And finally, it’s the story of a father and son and their decades-long journey toward love and mutual acceptance.

There’s no way to fit 83 years into a rather fast-paced 100 minutes. As a consequence, huge swaths of Nimoy’s life and career are mentioned all-too-briefly (his directing career) or not at all (Star Trek V and VI, and much of his latter TV career).

(3) MORE FREQUENT DARK. SF Site News says editor Sean Wallace has announced his magazine is stepping up its schedule.

Sean Wallace has announced the the dark fantasy magazine The Dark will shift to a monthly schedule beginning with the May 2016 issue.

(4) ADAMANT. J.C. Carlton says he is really, really right about that book he still hasn’t read – “Why Generation Ships Will NOT ‘Sink’ A Failure To Communicate” at The Arts Mechanical.

As an engineer, I think that Mr. Robinson is clearly wrong.  Or at least, he doesn’t understand the basic rules for setting mission parameters and designing to meet those parameters.  Mr. Robison’s vessel failed because he wanted it to fail.  But to extend that to saying that ALL such proposals would fail is more than a little egotistical. And wrong, really wrong.

Now I haven’t as yet read the book.(Somehow this sticks in the craw of the people over at File 770….

Real pioneers don’t screw up  because failure is not an option and incompetence is something that can’t be tolerated. Yes the environment and the unknowns get the pioneers, think the Donner Party, but the typical pioneers don’t go down without a fight.  They do the work that needs to get done because they are working to make a better place for the next generation, not themselves.  We as a culture have suppressed the pioneer spirit in the last few years and maybe that’s a mistake.  Because pioneers desire and understand liberty and the alternative is tyranny.

Here’s a bunch of links to get the pioneer spirit started.  Sorry, Mr. Robinson, our carracks to the stars will not fail because the pioneer spirits in them, will not let them fail.  Look if my ancestors can cross the North Atlantic in a tiny leaky little boat, can I say anything less?

(5) HOWDY NEIGHBOR. “Never Before Seen Galaxy Spotted Orbiting the Milky Way”: New Scientist has the story.

The galaxy’s empire has a new colony. Astronomers have detected a dwarf galaxy orbiting the Milky Way whose span stretches farther than nearly all other Milky Way satellites. It may belong to a small group of galaxies that is falling into our own.

Giant galaxies like the Milky Way grew large when smaller galaxies merged, according to simulations. The simulations also suggest that whole groups of galaxies can fall into a single giant at the same time. The best examples in our cosmic neighbourhood are the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, the Milky Way’s two brightest satellites, which probably orbit each other.

Orbiting galaxies

About four dozen known galaxies orbit our own. The largest in terms of breadth is the Sagittarius dwarf, discovered in 1994 – but it’s big only because our galaxy’s gravity is ripping it apart. The next two largest are the Magellanic Clouds.

(6) BATMAN V SUPERMAN V ABIGAIL. This is the kind of post that has inspired me to write Abigail Nussbaum’s name on my Hugo ballot from time to time. In the paragraphs following the excerpt, she deconstructs a scene from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and gives us a wonderful premise for understanding what shaped Superman’s psyche in the Snyder and non-Snyder movie versions.

Nor am I here to talk about how Batman v Superman fundamentally betrays its two title characters–and betrays, along the way, the fact that Snyder and writers David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio fundamentally do not understand what either of those characters are about.  Because the truth is, I don’t really care.  I’m not a comic book reader, but I’ve been watching Batman movies for twenty years, and good or bad they all depict the character as, at best, someone who is working out their mommy-and-daddy issues by beating up poor criminals, and at worst, an outright fascist.  I’m perfectly willing to believe that there is more to the character, and that the comics (and the animated series) have captured that, but I think at this stage it’s a mug’s game to go to a Batman movie expecting to find more than what they’ve been known to give us.  As for Superman, if I want stories about a character who is all-powerful yet fundamentally good, and still interesting for all that, I’ve got the MCU’s Captain America, not to mention Supergirl, so that fact that Batman v Superman depicts Superman as someone who seems genuinely to dislike people, and to be carrying out acts of heroism (when he deigns to do so) out of a sense of aggrieved obligation, doesn’t really feel worth getting worked up over.  On the contrary, I was more upset by those scenes in Batman v Superman in which characters insisted–despite all available evidence–that its Superman was a figure of hope and inspiration, because they made it clear just how badly the people making the movie had misjudged its effect.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 17, 1810 Lewis M. Norton patented a vat for forming pineapple-shaped cheese. (Even John King Tarpinian doesn’t know why he sent me this link.)
  • April 17, 1970 — With the world anxiously watching on television, Apollo 13, a U.S. lunar spacecraft that suffered a severe malfunction on its journey to the moon, safely returned to Earth.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY DUCK.

  • April 17, 1937 – Daffy Duck.

From the CBS News Almanac: …That day saw the premiere of a Warner Brothers cartoon titled “Porky’s Duck Hunt.”

The cartoon followed Porky Pig as he attempted to bag a most unusual duck … a duck quite unwilling to follow the rules:

Porky: “Hey, that wasn’t in the script!” Daffy: “Don’t let that worry you, Skipper! I’m just a darn fool crazy duck!”

Actually, make that DAFFY Duck, in his very first film role — his first, but by no means his last.

(9) ACCOUNTING FOR TASTES. Fynbospress, in “Preorders” at Mad Genius Club, sorts out how that sales tool affects traditional and indie publishers differently.

Several years ago, indie publishers put up quite a hue and cry about not having preorders available to them on Amazon, unlike their trad pub competitors. Amazon listened, and made preorders available, with a few caveats to ensure that indie pub would indeed have the product ready on ship date, and not leave Amazon holding the bag while angry customers yelled at them.

With glee, indie pub rushed out to put things on preorder…. and promptly found it wasn’t all that and a bag of chips. It’s a useful tool, but it isn’t nearly as important to them as it’s made out to be.

The critical differences:

  1. Amazon counts a preorder toward the item’s sales rank the day the order is placed.

This makes logical sense in the non-publishing world, as the “sale” happens the day a contract to sell is agreed upon, not the ship date, not the date money changes hands, nor the date the customer receives the item. This is pretty standard whether ordering a run of shoes manufactured in China, selling wheat futures in Chicago, or a racehorse in Kentucky.

(10) QUIDDITCH ON TV. “Quidditch, the sport of wizards” was a segment on today’s CBS Sunday Morning. There’s a video report and a text article at the link.

Quidditch, anyone? No idle question in Columbia, South Carolina, where a big championship match is underway this weekend. Anna Werner attended last year’s contest, where she saw an author’s imaginary game come to life:

It’s been nearly 20 years since the first Harry Potter book came out and proceeded to cast a spell over fans around the world. J.K. Rowling’s creation became the most popular book series in publishing history, with over 450 million copies sold — and one of the biggest movie franchises in film history, with nearly $8 billion in ticket sales.

And now Potter-mania has spawned another craze, one based on the high-flying fantasy game played by Harry and his friends called Quidditch, which has now jumped from the world of wizards to the playing fields of Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Yes, real-world Quidditch, complete with players “riding” broomsticks.

“Quidditch has exploded into the college scene and the high school scene all over the world,” said one girl. “It’s absolutely amazing!”

It’s even been the subject of a documentary called “Mudbloods” (a Harry Potter reference, of course).

“People get passionate about it because they grew up with Harry Potter,” said one fan.

The documentary introduces Alex Benepe, one of the founders of Quidditch. He’s been playing since 2005, when a classmate at Middlebury College turned to him with an idea: “‘This weekend, we’re gonna try and play real-life Quidditch,'” Benepe recalled. “We were freshman. And I just thought to myself, ‘There’s no way this is gonna work. This is gonna be so dumb!'”

(11) PLAYING QUIDDITCH. CBS Sunday Morning also provides “A how-to guide to Quidditch”.

The Balls

A volleyball doubles as a Quaffle, which players use to score points, either by throwing it or kicking it through a hoop.

Bludgers are dodgeball-weapons used against opposing players; hit someone with a bludger, and they are temporarily out. They must drop whatever ball they possess, head to the sidelines, and touch a goalpost before returning back to the field.

In the J.K. Rowling books, a Snitch (or a Golden Snitch) is a winged ball that tried to avoid capture. Since magical equipment is harder to come by in real life, Snitches are instead played by people dressed in yellow, who run onto the field at the 18-minute mark and must evade players who try to steal their “tail.”

If a Snitch loses his tail (actually a tennis ball in a sock), the game is over, but in the event of a tie score, play goes into overtime.

(12) RUNNING LOGAN’S MOVIE. Once upon a time there was a Jeopardy! answer…

Jeopardy Logans Run

John King Tarpinian says “In the book middle age would be ten.”

And while we’re on the topic, John recommends Reading The Movie Episode 3: Logan’s Run, a 2011 video.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Xtifr, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day IanP.]

George Clayton Johnson (1929-2015)

One of the most fan-friendly pros ever, George Clayton Johnson passed away at 12:46 p.m PST on December 25 from cancer. He had been in hospice care in his final days and there were many premature reports of his death.

Born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Johnson wrote that he loved reading the pulps “while surviving an Okie upbringing, a broken home, an alcoholic mother and institutional lockstep in a state orphanage with an occasional escape into a public library or a movie house.”

He briefly served as a telegraph operator and draftsman in the Army. Using his benefits under the G.I Bill he enrolled in an Alabama college, then dropped out to travel, supporting himself as a draftsman.

On coffee breaks working as a draftsman detailing wind-tunnels for U.S. Steel, and later the boss of my own drafting service in Van Nuys designing ticky tacky for the San Fernando Valley, and later still while hanging out, a beatnik-wild bird, faced with foreclosure and crab-grass in my G.I. home in Pacoima, trying to be a writer, I drove myself and all who met me into a frenzy over the question, “What is a story?”

Those who taught him the answer included members of “The Group,” also referred to as “The Southern California School of Writers,” among them Charles Beaumont, William F. Nolan, John Tomerlin, Richard Matheson, OCee Ritch, and Chad Oliver.

He began to sell. Alfred Hitchcock Presents developed one of his submissions into the 1959 episode “I’ll Take Care of You.”

Then the script he wrote with Jack Golden Russell, bought “blind” as a vehicle for Frank Sinatra’s “Rat Pack”, became Ocean’s Eleven (1960). However, it was heavily rewritten and earned them only a story credit.

That same year he connected with The Twilight Zone series, which bought his story “All Of Us Are Dying.” Rod Serling turned it into the 1960 episode “The Four Of Us Are Dying.”

Johnson would go on to write four episodes of The Twilight Zone, such as “Kick the Can”, “Nothing in the Dark” featuring a very young Robert Redford, and “A Game of Pool” with Jonathan Winters and Jack Klugman. Two others were based on his stories, and one more was done from his story under a pseudonym.

Accepting an Emmy for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama for The Twilight Zone in 1961, Rod Serling thanked the “three writing gremlins who did the bulk of the work: Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, and George Clayton Johnson.”

George created some monumental tv and film stories, though he didn’t always enjoy paydays worthy of his efforts. The Wikipedia relates —

In 1960, George Clayton Johnson submitted a story to The Twilight Zone called “Sea Change” which was purchased by Rod Serling. The premise of the story was, “Off the coast of California, there’s a man in a boat. Through an accident his hand is cut off. Miraculously, he re-grows a new hand. But what he doesn’t realize is that out there in the kelp beds, the hand is re-growing a new man…”

Serling planned to produce “Sea Change” for the 1960 season, but General Mills, a sponsor for The Twilight Zone at the time, rejected it for being too violently graphic. Serling was then forced to call Johnson and ask him to buy the story back (for $500.00),

In 1962, Johnson convinced Ray Bradbury to let a short film be made from Ray’s story “Icarus Montgolfier Wright.” Johnson wrote the screenplay. Joseph Mugnaini created the images and Ross Martin (later of Wild Wild West) voiced the narration. Although it screened for only twelve days at a theater in Westwood, the film wound up being nominated for an Oscar.

George Clayton Johnson and Ray Bradbury watch restored "Icarus Montgolfier Wright"

George Clayton Johnson and Ray Bradbury watch restored “Icarus Montgolfier Wright” at the Motion Picture Academy in 2008.

Johnson also wrote episodes of Honey West, Kentucky Jones, Kung Fu, The Law and Mr. Jones, Mr. Novak, and Route 66.

On the print side, he sold stories to Rogue editor Frank Robinson, and William F. Nolan at Gamma.

Johnson also had six credits as an actor. The first was as a Coast Guard officer in a 1961 episode of Sea Hunt. His last role was as Father Time, in a soon-to-be-released film by Gabe Bartalos titled Saint Bernard. Look for it in 2016.

Johnson and William F. Nolan appeared in The Intruder (1962), which they call the only Roger Corman movie to have lost money at the box office.

“I loved being an actor, and between Bill and me we set up a couple of very archetypal evil guys,” Johnson remembered. “It all came about because the people we were hiring on the spot [in Missouri] to read for these parts…could not say lines.”

Nolan and Johnson liked to tell how they made make funny faces when standing behind the lead actor, William Shatner, as he spoke his lines.

Johnson went from making fun of Shatner’s lines to writing them, scripting the first aired episode of Star Trek, “The Man Trap” (1966), in which he also coined Dr. McCoy’s iconic line, “He’s dead, Jim.”

His next big splash was co-writing with William F. Nolan the cult classic Logan’s Run. As Nolan tells it, “George wanted to immediately create a screenplay, but I felt strongly that it should be a novel first. George acquiesced, and we rented a motel room to remove distractions and for three weeks we took turns at the typewriter. The rest is history.”

They sold the novel to Dial Press, and the screen rights to MGM for $100,000. Although they despaired of the movie ever being made as the project passed through the hands of various producers and directors, it finally came out in 1976.

Logan's Run collaborators William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson in 2009.

Logan’s Run collaborators William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson in 2009.

The first time I met George Clayton Johnson was in the 1970s when I was student living at home Sylmar. I learned he lived in nearby Pacoima and went over to his house to drop off a copy of my crudely mimeographed fanzine. He and his wife, Lola, were very kind to me on that quick visit.

I also saw him speak at a LASFS meeting in 1972 when he was freshly returned from teaching at the Clarion SF Workshop. One of his statements I have never forgotten. He said everyone has one story in them – their own. And if they pay close attention when they write that first story, they may be able to write another, and another. Otherwise, they never become writers.

Johnson was known to everyone as a gracious, accessible and friendly individual, and continued to be celebrated down the years by all his colleagues and readers. John King Tarpinian helped organize Johnson’s annual birthday celebration at Mystery & Imagination Bookshop in Glendale, where Johnson often did signings and gave talks, many of them reported here on File 770.

For George Clayton Johnson’s 86th birthday, L.J. Dopp did a wonderful painting titled “The Fictioneer,” with images from George’s most famous TV and movie work. The only reward Dopp wanted was the thrill of seeing the expression on George’s face when he saw it for the first time.

GCJ tribute by LJ Dopp

Johnson would say that he always wanted to “leave his footprints in the sand,” and that he did.

He is survived by his wife, Lola Johnson, daughter Judy Olive, and son, Paul B. Johnson. Paul says in around 30 days he will announce a “lifetime celebration” party that will be held in his memory.

Smofcon 2015 Website Updated

Smofcon 33 will be held December 4-6 at the Sheraton Ft. Worth Hotel and Spa in Fort Worth, Texas.

The annual convention for sf conrunners is chaired this year by Tim Miller. His committee includes Robert Jinks (Vice Chairman), Steven Staton (IT), Sam Gayle (Hospitality), Pablo Vazquez (Social Media).

The con’s theme is “From Global To Local: Thriving in the Fannish Biosphere.”

The current membership rate is $50.

Two thumbs up to the committee for illustrating their website with a shot of the Fort Worth Water Gardens as seen in Logan’s Run (1976). These days we overage conrunners must always be ready to make a run for it!

Logan’s Walk

Logans Run styleLogan’s Run will be brought to life as a live-action street game in the alleys of San Francisco this Saturday evening, February 8.

When your lifeclock turns black, will you accede to the mandatory euthanization ritual of Carrousel, or will you run? Search the corners and nooks of the City for the secret of Sanctuary. Discover strange sights and hidden peoples, some trustworthy – some not – all while evading ruthless squads of Sandmen searching for Runners at every turn.

The Multiverse Council is staging a game in the style of Journey To The End of The Night. There will be 1-2 miles of walking involved, with brief periods of running and chasing, but they promise that players of all levels of athletic ability will enjoy themselves.

It’s a pay-to-play event, $20 for the basic Runner, and $50 for a Sandman. They say “Some special experiences will only be available to Sandmen & Sandwomen.” With or without “special experiences” the price structure makes sense to me because fans who want to work security should be forced to pay more. A lot more!

On the other hand, if you prefer to cosplay in colorful attire, a Runner is what you want to be. The organizers recommendations for clothing are —

Recommended: something fetching, shiny, and solid-colored in orange, watermelon red, red, mint, green, or emerald. Bonus points for curled or feathered hair and silver or gold accents.

Sandmen: wear black and gray.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]