N3F Award Winners for 2018

The National Fantasy Fan Federation announced several awards and honors in the latest issue of the organization’s newsletter Tightbeam.

2018 NEFFY AWARDS

The National Fantasy Fan Federation Speculative Fiction Awards, called the Neffy Awards, have been given annually since 2005.

Best Novel

  • Princess Holy Aura by Ryk Spoor

Best Shorter Work

  • “And Then There Were (N-One)” by Sarah Pinsker

Best Book Editor

  • Toni Weisskopf

Best Film

  • Thor: Ragnarok

Best Fanzine

  • Tightbeam

Best Blog

  • Mad Genius Club

Best TV Show

  • Supergirl

Best Anime

  • The Ancient Magus Bride

Best Graphic Art Publication

  • Jean Grey

LIFE MEMBER

  • Jon Swartz

By vote of the Directorate, N3F Historian Jon Swartz has been elected as a Life Member of the N3F. He joins long-time Life Member Jacqueline Lichtenberg in this role.

2018 KAYMAR AWARD

  • Cedar Sanderson

The Kaymar Award is given for work for the benefit of the club and its members. The recipient is decided by a vote of prior winners. The award, which may only be won once, is a memorial to long-time Neffer K. Martin Carlson (1904-1986) who originated, maintained, and financed it for 25 years.

Update: Corrected title of Spoor novel — which was wrong in the Tightbeam announcement.

 

Antonelli’s Apology Accepted By Foz Meadows and Camestros Felapton

Lou Antonelli has tweeted apologies to the victims of his false claims that blogger Camestros Felapton is a pseudonym for Foz Meadows’ husband, Toby.

Camestros Felapton accepted the apology: “A Gracious Note From Lou Antonelli”.

Lou Antonelli has sent me a polite apology via Twitter regarding his claims that I was Toby Meadows. I’d like to thank him for that.

I’ve disabled comments on this post because I’d prefer to move on from this now. I will say that I don’t regard myself as particularly the injured party in this. The Meadows family have had to put up with a lot of maliciousness from several parties.

Over the past ten days Camestros Felapton has written many posts about this kerfuffle. “Was Antonelli Set Up?” (January 26) is as good as any for learning the details if you don’t already know them.

Foz Meadows also accepted Antonelli’s apology in this exchange:

The impetus for the charge may have come from Facebook conversations that I cannot access, therefore I cannot document who originated it. But on January 21, Brad Torgersen used the charge as the basis for a malicious attack on Camestros at Mad Genius Club, “Camestros Felapton is Toby Meadows, spouse of Foz Meadows” [Internet Archive page]. Foz Meadows, after she and her husband dealt with the resulting abuse for several days, on January 29 posted “A Personal Note” about the falsehood of the claim and the emotional pain that it caused.

[Thanks to JJ, Daniel Dern, and Camestros Felapton for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 1/7/18 Your Majesty Is Like A Scroll With Pixels On Top

(1) BOOK SMUGGLERS AT 10. Happy birthday to The Book Smugglers. They celebrated their tenth anniversary today:

Welcome to Smugglivus 2017: A Year In Review. Today, January 7, 2017, is our bloggoversary–and it’s a big one. Today we officially turn ten years old. To celebrate, we’re looking back at 2017 to document our year, as well as our top 10 moments since starting The Book Smugglers a decade ago.

A lot of interesting achievements and reminiscences in this post.

(2) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Myke Cole and Joseph Helmreich on Wednesday, January 17, 2018, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street, New York).

Myke Cole

Myke Cole is the author of the military fantasy Shadow Ops series and its prequel trilogy, the Reawakening series, both from Ace/Roc. His Sacred Throne series is forthcoming from Tor.com in February. His first nonfiction (military history) book, will be out from Osprey in the fall. Myke appeared on CBS’ hit TV show Hunted, as part of a team of elite investigators tracking fugitives across the southeastern United States.

Joseph Helmreich

Joseph Helmreich has contributed writing to NewsweekNY Daily News, and Tor.com, and is author of the recent sf thriller, The Return (St. Martin’s Press, March 2017) about a physicist who gets abducted by an alien ship on live TV.  When not writing, Joe is a ventriloquist, illustrator, voice-over actor and member of alternative folk duo, Honeybrick. He lives in New York City and works in film distribution.

(3) SALAM AWARD. The 2018 jury for the Salam Award will be Elizabeth Hand , E. Lily Yu and Anil Menon. The award promotes imaginative fiction in Pakistan.

Last year’s winner was Firuza Pastakia for her story The Universe is a Conscientious Gardener.

(4) FANTASY MINIATURES. Dangerous Minds showcases some cute miniature models of Fauns, Jackalopes, Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen, and Unicorns. Here’s Exhibit A:

Warning: Cuteness overload ahead

Silvia Minucelli is an engineer and freelance artisan who creates itsy-bitsy, ickle figurines using polymer clay and a toothpick—can you imagine how painstaking and difficult that must be? Minucelli produces and sells her delightful models under the name Mijbil Creatures—named after the famous otter in Gavin Maxwell’s book Ring of Bright Water.

(5) PKD ON TV. The New York Times’ Jonathan Ringer tells how “With ‘Electric Dreams,’ Philip K. Dick Gets the TV Anthology Treatment”.

…The actors attracted to the series included Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad” (also one of the show’s executive producers), Steve Buscemi, Maura Tierney and the avant-R&B singer Janelle Monáe. And “Electric Dreams” attracted writers and directors like Dee Rees (“Mudbound”), Peter Horton (“American Odyssey,” “Thirtysomething”) and Alan Taylor (“Game of Thrones”).

Dick’s daughter, Isa Dick Hackett, whose production company Electric Shepherd oversees adaptations of her father’s work, reached out in 2012 to Mr. Dinner, executive producer of FX’s “Justified,” and invited him to look at the short stories. “Michael really had the idea to do it as anthology,” said Mr. Moore, a friend of Mr. Dinner’s who was brought on soon after.

Mr. Dinner, who had a deal with Sony, also recruited Mr. Cranston, who, like the others, is a major Philip K. Dick fan. All four brought in people they’d worked with as well as reaching out to talent they admired. “I sent Janelle Monáe a letter and asked her if she’d want to be a part of it,” Ms. Hackett said. “I knew that she was a big fan of my dad’s.”

David Klaus sent these comments with the link:

There’s an irony in that Star Trek was sold as the first s.f. t.v. series unlike previous s.f. series which had all been anthology shows, to have continuing characters and standing sets, to reduce production costs.

It could also be said another of Robert Heinlein’s great gifts to science fiction was the typewriter he bought and gave to PKD so that he could earn his way out of being so broke he couldn’t pay a library overdue fine.

(6) BLATHER. The New York Times interviewed an expert about “How To Speak Gibberish”. And it wasn’t even a member of Congress.

… In 2014, Sara Maria Forsberg was a recent high-school graduate in Finland when she posted “What Languages Sound Like to Foreigners,” a video* of herself speaking gibberish versions of 15 languages and dialects. Incorporate actual phonology to make a realistic-sounding gibberish. “Expose yourself to lots of different languages,” says Forsberg, now 23, who grew up speaking Finnish, Swedish and English.

Assemble your raw linguistic materials. Shortly after her YouTube video went viral — it has since been watched more than 19 million times — Lucasfilm contacted Forsberg and asked her to make up a language for one of the alien fighter groups in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” The actors were Indonesian, so Forsberg studied online videos in various Austronesian languages including Bahasa Indonesia and Sundanese, a language spoken in western Java. “Listen for repeated syllables,” she says. Write them down phonetically. Note the rhythm of the language. Look at the way a speaker’s lips and tongue give shape to his or her words. You don’t need to be a linguist to get an impression of real syntactic rules, which you can borrow. It helps to love listening to the singsong quality of people talking. For Forsberg, “it’s like music.”…

(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.

A friend was watching Queen of Outer Space with Zsa Zsa Gabor and noticed the title stuff did not appear until 17 minutes into the flick.

He then recalled that George Lucas was fined by the Directors Guild for not having the opening credits.  George paid the half million dollar fine and quit the Guild — see “How famous Star Wars title sequence survived imperial assaults” at The Conversation.

Star Wars creator George Lucas had to fight to maintain his vision of going straight into the story through the use of his rolling text sequence. He thought that opening credits were nothing to do with making a movie, seeing them as an example of the old-school posturing that he and his new Hollywood contemporaries had spurned. In this he could well have been inspired by George Mélies’ A Trip to the Moon (1902), which is regarded as the first sci-fi film and avoided using any credits because the visual narrative was so strong.

Lucas did end up having to put the studio and Lucasfilm idents at the start of the reel, but he put his own directing and producing credits at the end of the film. He argued that credits would destroy the impact of the opening, and put them at the end of the film instead.

Lucas did the same thing for Empire Strikes Back in 1980, which was directed not by himself but by Irving Kershner. This time the Directors Guild of America objected, even though Kershner didn’t mind. The guild wanted the movie withdrawn from theatres, the opening re-titled with Kershner’s directing credit at a cost of US$500,000 (£1.4m today), and that Lucas pay a $25,000 fine.

Lucas was incensed and took the guild to court. When it countersued, he decided to pay the fine to avoid entangling Kershner in the dispute. It was a pyrrhic victory for the guild, however. Lucas resigned from both the writers’ and directors’ guilds and all future Star Wars opening titles were untouched and consistent with the original.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 7, 1929 — The Buck Rogers in the 25th Century A.D. comic strip debuted. (The character’s first appearance was in a story published by Amazing Stories in 1928.)

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • January 7, 1934 – Flash Gordon. This has been long regarded as his “birthdate” because that was the day Alex Raymond’s strip was first published.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) WOMBAT ON THE AIR. Information wants to be free —

(12) REMEMBERING THE GREAT RAY BRADBURY. Steve Vertlieb hopes you will read his piece for AmericanMusicPreservation.com, “A Ray Bradbury Remembrance (Film Music Review 14th Anniversary Special)”.

Here is my affectionate tribute to cherished friend Ray Bradbury, whose loving presence occupied my world and my heart for nearly four decades. Ray was one of the most distinguished writers of the twentieth century and, with H.G. Wells, perhaps the most influential, legendary science fiction writer of the past one hundred years. More importantly, however, Ray was a gentle little boy whose love of imagination, fantasy, and stories of other worlds influenced hundreds of writers and millions of admirers all over the world. His monumental presence upon this planet warmed and inspired all who knew him, and I was honored to call him my friend for thirty-eight years. Here, once more, is my loving remembrance of the life and world of Ray Bradbury, “I SING BRADBURY ELECTRIC.”

Steve’s article begins —

He was a kindly, gentle soul who lived among us for a seeming eternity. But even eternity is finite. He was justifiably numbered among the most influential writers of the twentieth century. Among the limitless vistas of science fiction and fantasy he was, perhaps, second only in literary significance to H.G. Wells who briefly shared the last century with him. Ray Bradbury was, above all else, the poet laureate of speculative fiction.

(13) KARMA. The house directly to the left of what was Ray Bradbury’s is listed on Air BnB and other sites as a party rental  You can even search for it by name, Cheviot Wonderland.

The large floor plan with gorgeous floor to ceiling windows overlooking the breathtaking pool area makes entertaining a breeze. With a state of the art chef’s kitchen and dining room that seats 10, tastefully dazzle your guests with a perfect setting for your dinner parties.

Los Angeles architect Thom Mayne razed Bradbury’s longtime Cheviot Hills home and built a place of his own design, which was finished in 2017.

(14) SIMULTANEITY PRINCIPLE. Andrew Porter points out there will be two conventions a few miles apart, same town, same weekend, July 27-29. Confluence is at the Sheraton Pittsburgh Airport Hotel. And Pulpfest is at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry. He says —

They’re about 8 miles apart, NW of downtown Pittsburgh. You’d think both conventions could do some sort of deal together. Maybe a shuttle between the two. I bet both sets of dealers would be happy with the exposure.

Also, judging from people’s Facebook posts, Confluence will be gaining some writers who have been trimmed from ReaderCon programming (another July convention).

(15) ANOTHER ADDICTIVE GAME. They say literally anybody can play: “China’s Most Popular Mobile Game Charges Into American Market”.

Chinese tech giant Tencent is trying to do something that’s never been done before: take the biggest online mobile game in China global.

Kings Of Glory, sometimes also translated as Honor Of Kings, boasts over 200 million monthly players worldwide. In China, it’s been reported that tens of millions play daily. The game is so popular that Tencent had to implement a daily time restriction for young players to “ensure children’s healthy development.”

(16) JUST IN TIME. The doctor will see you – right after he levels up. “Gaming addiction classified as disorder by WHO”.

Gaming addiction is to be listed as a mental health condition for the first time by the World Health Organisation.

Its 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD) will include the condition “gaming disorder”.

The draft document describes it as a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour so severe that it takes “precedence over other life interests”.

Some countries had already identified it as a major public health issue….

(17) MORE TRIVIA. Mad Genius Club has 10 times more people who want to read JDA’s blog than we have here. At least. Didn’t we know that already?

(18) ROWLING SITES. The Washington Post’s Tom Shroder tells how to go about “Discovering the magic of Edinburgh” in a travel piece about his visit to the places where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in longhand, and a trip to Greyfriars Graveyard, whose tombs include Thomas Riddle (the real name of Lord Voldemort).

It was the first of what I came to think of as our Edinburgh Harry Potter moments — when the ordinary Muggle reality suddenly parted to reveal something magical. As it turned out, this wasn’t entirely fanciful thinking on my part. I only discovered later that J.K. Rowling herself said, in a 2008 speech accepting the Edinburgh Award, “Edinburgh is very much home for me and is the place where Harry evolved over seven books and many, many hours of writing in its cafes.”

The city’s remarkably consistent buildings of mottled brown stone blocks, the most spectacular of them with sharply peaked roofs and ostentatious turrets, are clear inspiration for the architecture of the Hogwarts School of Wizardry. The tombstones in the fabulously gloomy Greyfriars Kirkyard in the oldest part of the city bear the names of some key Potter characters — McGonagall, Moodie and, most notably, Thomas Riddle, the birth name of Harry’s nemesis, Lord Voldemort. Tourists flock to the cafes where the then-impoverished author wrote out her stories in longhand: the Elephant House, Nicholson’s (now called Spoon), the baroquely gorgeous Balmoral Hotel.

(19) ADDRESSER UNKNOWN. An anonymous piece at write.as summarizes Jon Del Arroz’ track record and concludes —

The most mind-boggling thing of all about Jon is, he insults and harasses people, then wonders why folks don’t want him around. If you call SFWA terrorists, insult women in science fiction related podcasts, insult people in the comic industry, call folks running fandom sites bigots, then openly admit you’re going to break a convention’s rules, why would you be surprised when people start banning you? You are your own worst enemy, Jon Del Arroz. I don’t believe you anymore.

(20) WHAT THOSE TINY HANDS ARE FOR. Thanks to ScienceFiction.com I discovered this artistic triumph — “Colorado Symphony Performs ‘Jurassic Park’ Theme Led By A T-Rex”.

Last March, Colorado Symphony conductor Christopher Dragon donned a T-rex costume to lead the ensemble in a performance of John Williams’ beloved ‘Jurassic Park’ theme song. The hilarious musical moment is getting its 15 minutes of fame after a video from the concert was posted to social media.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 7/24/16 The Pixel Who Walks Through Walls

(1) CLOTHING SHRINKS. NPR takes a psychological look at cosplay in “Cosplayers Use Costume To Unleash Their Superpowers”.

These cosplayers are invoking clothing’s subtle sway over us. People have used clothing to subdue, seduce and entertain for millennia. In some outfits, people not only look different, but they feel different. Psychologists are trying to figure out how clothes can change our cognition and by how much. Adam Galinsky, a psychologist at Columbia Business School, spoke with NPR’s Hanna Rosin for the podcast and show Invisibilia. Galinksy did a study where he asked participants to put on a white coat. He told some of the participants they were wearing a painter’s smock, and others that they were in a doctor’s coat.

Then he tested their attention and focus. The people who thought they were in the doctor’s coat were much more attentive and focused than the ones wearing the painter’s smock. On a detail-oriented test, the doctor’s coat-wearing participants made 50 percent fewer errors. Galinksy thinks this is happening because when people put on the doctor’s coat, they begin feeling more doctor-like. “They see doctors as being very careful, very detailed,” Galinksy says. “The mechanism is about symbolic association. By putting on the clothing, it becomes who you are.”

Almost any attire carrying some kind of significance seems to have this effect, tailored to the article as a symbol. In one study, people wearing counterfeit sunglasses were more likely lie and cheat than those wearing authentic brands, as if the fakes gave the wearers a plus to cunning. “If the object has been imbued with some meaning, we pick it up, we activate it. We wear it, and we get it on us,” says Abraham Rutchick, a psychologist at California State University Northridge.

(2) WOMAN OF MYSTERY. The LA Weekly claims to know “Why This Might be Elvira’s Last Comic-Con (as Elvira)”.

Cassandra Peterson has been playing Elvira, the self-proclaimed Mistress of the Dark and horror movie hostess, for 35 years, and she’s been attending Comic-Con as the character for longer than she can remember.

“I was going through my records trying to find the first Comic-Con I came to, and it was in the basement of some motel or hotel or something,” she says. She used to come almost every year, but this year will likely be her last, at least as Elvira. She’s here now to promote her upcoming coffee table book, which features commentary and photos spanning Elvira’s 35-year history (including a few behind-the-scenes shots, like one of her in full costume, seven months pregnant).

Reflecting on her years at the convention, she’s enjoyed meeting her idols, like Forrest Ackerman, a prominent figure in the sci-fi and fantasy scene, and running into colleagues. “I saw Gene Simmons last time I was here, a couple years ago, and that was awesome, because I don’t often run into him, and he was in his KISS drag, I was in my Elvira drag, kind of scary. We were both going, ‘How long are we going to be doing this?’”

But what sticks out the most is a memory of her first Comic-Con, where she was one of the only women in attendance. “When I was there, I was really the ‘odd man out,’ being a woman,” she says. “And now, I am positive that it’s at least 50 percent women [here] that are interested in the whole genre, whether it’s horror, fantasy, sci fi. And I’ve seen that, in my 35 years, just completely change.” She adds, “I was one of those geek girls who was into that stuff when I was a kid, so to see it catch on, for me, is pretty thrilling.”

(3) ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE. Trek Core relays word from SDCC: “The Roddenberry Vault Reveals Lost Star Trek Clips, New Blu-Ray Release Arriving in Late 2016”.

In a surprise reveal today at its own San Diego Comic Con panel, STAR TREK: THE RODDENBERRY VAULT, a years-long endeavor to recover lost and cut footage from the making of the original Star Trek series, debuted with never-before-seen clips from production of the series.

The source of the recovered material (to be released as part of an extended documentary) comes from hundreds of film reels of archived, unused Original Series footage – called the “Holy Grail” by Denise Okuda – which remained in Gene Roddenberry’s possession after the conclusion of filming on the classic series.

Mike and Denise Okuda spoke to the motivations behind the nine-year (!) project, starting from hints of cut scenes in the James Blish novelizations of the classic Trek episodes to occasional publicity photos that the pair had never seen before.

Producer Roger Lay, Jr., who worked on the Next Generation and Enterprise Blu-ray releases, also confirmed that a Blu-ray release of this recovered footage will be arriving before the end of 2016 – but the team has not yet finalized the documentary, and could not specify how many minutes of recovered footage will be included.

…We have no information yet on the timetable for release of this fantastic-sounding new Blu-ray, but as Lay reiterates at the end of the panel, this is a Fiftieth Anniversary production that WILL be out before the end of 2016.

 

Roger Lay Jr. and Ray Bradbury back in the day.

Roger Lay Jr. and Ray Bradbury back in the day.

(4) YOU’RE THE CADET. Guelda Voien was at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum to see an exhibit celebrating 50 years of Star Trek, and pronounced it “Every Dork’s Wet Dream”.

…It is Career Day at the Academy, and you’re given a chance to try out all the different stations—tactical, medical, navigation, command and communications. You perform tasks, like a phaser exercise or choosing which planet to evacuate your crew to, and take a sort of quiz at the end. Your RFID bracelet tracks your progress. It’s like the part of the Museum of Tolerance where you track a Jewish child through the Holocaust, but less horrible.

I did all of them except for communications. No offense, Uhura, but I did not go to Starfleet Academy to talk (though your role got way better in the reboots, thanks, J.J.). No, I went to shoot stuff, try to heal a Klingon and try the fucking Kobayashi Maru.

And I got to do all that stuff. The assessments straddled the obvious and full-on dorkbait in a way that kept me pretty much giddily entertained for an hour (the ticketed show is intended to take about that long and costs $25 for an adult nonmember). At some point, I turned to Danny and asked, “Is Kronos in the Alpha Quadrant?” He thought about it for a second. “I don’t think it is.” I thought about it. “Well, Bajor, Earth and Cardassia definitely are, so it must be Kronos that isn’t.” But I was also thinking, “Hmm, wasn’t Kronos destroyed by the time TNG began?” And that’s why they just call the Klingon homeworld “the Klingon homeworld” later in the timeline, right? And I was happy. This is why I came.

(5) MARVEL AT DISNEY CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE. The Los Angeles Times says Marvel Studios has made official what fans have been speculating about for awhile — “Tower of Terror to get superhero makeover at Disney California Adventure Park”.

….Walt Disney Co. bought Marvel Entertainment Inc. in 2009 for $4 billion but had yet to inject many of the Marvel characters into the Anaheim theme parks. The ride will reopen next summer.

The move to re-create the Tower of Terror into a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction has been rumored on Disney fan blog sites for months but the Burbank-based entertainment giant has refused to comment on the speculation.

The announcement was made by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige at San Diego Comic-Con, the annual celebration of comics and pop culture.

“We are eager to present the attraction to the millions who visit Disney California Adventure and place them in the center of the action as they join in a mission alongside our audacious Guardians of the Galaxy team,” he said in a statement.

In the past, Disney has added new features to existing rides to renew interest among park visitors. Space Mountain, for example, became Hyperspace Mountain when the park added elements borrowed from the popular Star Wars franchise, now owned by Disney.

But Disney representatives say that the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride will keep the fast-dropping elevator from the Tower of Terror, but the rest of the attraction will be completely overhauled.

They declined to say how much Disney will spend on the project.

Disney fans have speculated that the overhauled attraction will stand at the entrance to a new Marvel land at the park.

 

(6) GONE. Variety reports “Popular Movie, TV Set Location Sable Ranch Destroyed in California Wildfire”. IMDB shows a number of sf TV episodes were shot there.

Sable Ranch, a location boasting Old West-style buildings that have been used for countless movies and TV shows, is one of the latest casualties of a Southern California wildfire that has nearly blocked out the sun in Los Angeles all weekend.

The ranch in Santa Clarita, Calif., was destroyed by the fire on Saturday despite the efforts of dozens of firefighters, according to the Los Angeles Times. Some offices were reportedly able to be salvaged, but the set is gone.

Sable Ranch served as host to such movies as horror film “Motel Hell” and Chevy Chase’s “The Invisible Man,” as well as classic Westerns like “The Bells of Coronado.” Television shows including “The A-Team,” “Maverick” and “24” also shot at the location.

(7) HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU’RE FINISHED? Caroline Yoachim says this was her way —

(8) SDCC AS SEEN FROM WILLIAM WU BOOKS. Sundays are less crowded than Saturdays in front of William Wu Books.

wu books at sdcc

(9) I THINK HE LIKED IT. Ian Sales was surprised to be pleased by Station Eleven. By the end of his review I was convinced to add the book to my TBR list – something the thoroughly favorable reviews I read had never accomplished.

Station Eleven, Emily St John Mandel (2014). This won the Clarke Award last year, and while I’d heard many good things about it, it’s a lit-fic post-apocalypse novel and I find post-apocalypse fiction banal at the best of times, and lit fic attempts at the genre all too often seem to think they’re doing something brand new and innovative, that no one has ever thought of before, and so the prose tends to reek of smugness. So my expectations were not especially high. Happily, Mandel proved a better writer than I’d expected, and I found myself enjoying reading Station Eleven. It’s still banal, of course; more so, in fact, because it trots out the Backwoods Messiah With The Persecution Complex plot, which should have been retired sometime around 37 CE. Anyway, a global flu epidemic wipes out most of humanity. Station Eleven opens in Toronto, when a famous actor has a heart attack on stage and dies. Then everyone else starts to die from the flu. The book jumps ahead twenty years to a post-apocalypse US, and a travelling orchestra/acting troupe, who travel the southern shores of the Great Lakes. And then there is a half-hearted attempt at a plot, which ties in with some of the flashback sections, which are about either the actor or the main character of the post-apocalypse story, a young actress in the travelling troupe. The writing was a great deal better than I’d expected, and so despite being post-apocalypse I came away from Station Eleven a little impressed. A worthy winner of the Clarke Award.

(10) AUTHOR EARNINGS. At Mad Genius Club, Fynbospress pointed out a new round of statistics has been posted:

Author Earnings just did an in-depth analysis of the romance genre, and presented it at the RWA (Romance Writers of America). …

2.) Down in the comments at the bottom, both of the report itself and in the comments at Passive Voice, Data Guy provides breakouts for SF&F, and for Mystery/Thriller/Suspense, too!

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 24, 1948 – Marvin the Martian (not yet given that name) appeared onscreen for the first time in the Bugs Bunny cartoon “Haredevil Hare”.

275px-Looney_Tunes_'Haredevil_Hare'_-_screenshot

  • July 24, 1969 — Apollo 11 returned to Earth, ending its historic moon-landing mission. After the spacecraft’s splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were flown by helicopter to the recovery ship USS Hornet.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRLS

  • Born July 24, 1951 – Lynda Carter, called by some the Only and True Wonder Woman.
  • Born July 24, 1982 — Anna Paquin

(13) THOUGHT FOR THE DAY. Neil Armstrong said the Apollo missions demonstrated that “humanity is not forever chained to this planet, and our visions go rather further than that, and our opportunities are unlimited.”

(14) SELDEN’S XANATOS PLAN. Vox Day teases “No one foresaw it” at Vox Popoli.

It’s no wonder the SF-SJWs are always a few steps behind.

It had been believed that the slaters would lose interest if they couldn’t sweep entire categories, since it that would mean that they could neither get awards for their own favorites (since fans would No Award them) nor “burn down” the awards, since fans would have at least a couple of organic works to give awards to. No one foresaw the “griefing” strategy of nominating works whose mere presence on the finalist list would cast the awards into disrepute. – Greg Hullender at File 770

They still don’t quite get it, do they? Rabid Puppies didn’t nominate “If You Were a Dinosaur My Love” or “Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue” for the Hugo Award. We didn’t give a Best Novel Nebula to The Quantum Rose (Book 6 in the Saga of the Skolian Empire) or a Best Novel Hugo to Redshirts. We’re not casting the awards into disrepute, we are highlighting the fact that the SJWs in science fiction have already made them disreputable. I wonder what they will fail to foresee next? That’s a rhetorical question, of course. I already know….

(15) A VOX ON BOTH THEIR HOUSES. RameyLady doesn’t understand the impact of the Rabid Puppies slate on the finalists –

The nominees continue to suffer, in these shorter works, from poor selection but perhaps that’s as much a result of fan voting as it is the Puppies’ attempt at chaos and domination.

— but still writes a good overview of the Hugo-nominated novelettes.

In order of my appraisal:

  1. “Obits” by Stephen King is going to be my top pick in Novelette, though my #2 selection is within a hair’s breadth of taking my top vote.  But it’s hard to deny the feel of sentences coming off the pen of a man as experienced and talented as King.

(16) BALLOT SNAPSHOT. Mark Ciocco says Lois McMaster Bujold gets his vote for Best Novella in his survey of all five nominees.

After last year’s train wreck of a Novella ballot, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to this year’s finalists. But it seems my fears were misplaced, as this might be the most solid fiction category of the year. Novellas can be awkward and to be sure, a couple of these don’t entirely pull it off, but even those manage better than the other categories.

  1. Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold – No surprise here, as I was one of the many who nominated this in the first place. I’m a huge fan of Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga and it’s very much to her credit that I’ve followed her from my preferred SF genre to her fantasy worlds. This story takes place in her Chalion universe and tells the story of a young man who accidentally contracts a demon. This is both better and worse than you’d expect. Better, because in Chalion, demon possession can grant great powers. Worse, because with great power comes intrigue and scheming by those interested in your new powers. That’s all background though, and the story itself is well plotted and the character relationships, particularly between Penric and his demon, and extremely well done. Easily and clearly tops this list. (Also of note: the sequel to this story is out!)

(17) RESPIRE OR EXPIRE. Spacefaring Kitten tackles The Martian in “Aspiration Porn — Campbell Nominee Andy Weir”.

While watching The Martian, I remember enjoying the cosmic visuals, but the reader of the book doesn’t have that and she has to be kept in awe of the science. It was quite impressive, considering that the natural sciences interest me very little. Still, Weir was able to force me into the aspiration porn mindset — ISN’T IT GREAT THAT THE HUMAN RACE HAS DONE SUCH A WONDERFUL THING AS GOING TO SPACE (AND MOSTLY ALSO MAKING IT BACK ALIVE??!!). Yeah, it is. Little less bable about making water and oxygen wouldn’t have hurt, but I guess that really paying attention to these technical details was what Weir’s project was about.

(18) IT’S ALIVE! Bradley W. Schenck tells how he achieved “My successful human hybrid experiment” – which is a piece of digital artwork.

It’s with no small amount of pride that I can now reveal my second, and most successful, human hybrid experiment. I wish I knew exactly what it was; but, as you can see, it’s keeping an eye on us until I figure that out.

Over the past year or so I’ve learned some new tricks with my morph-targeted character heads, and the most interesting tricks are the ones I can play on characters that are already done. Some of this is due to Collapse to Morpher, a very useful 3DS Max script.

Morphs are terrific, but they rely on the source object and its morph targets sharing the exact same topology. That means they need to have the same number of vertices, and (importantly!) those vertices have to be numbered in the same order. If you’re not careful you can end up with two objects that used to share those properties but which now are subtly and fatally different. You just can’t morph them any more.

(19) ANOTHER MARVEL SUPERHERO HEARD FROM. Doctor Strange movie trailer #2 dropped at Comic-Con.

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

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.]

Pixel Scroll 2/22/16 Through Pathless Realms Of Space, Scroll On

(1) NUKED THE FRIDGE. Yahoo! News says there may be a good reason why Indy survived the atomic blast, in “Fan Theory Explains That Much-Maligned Indiana Jones Scene”.

Much like ‘jumping the shark’ from ‘Happy Days’, the Indiana Jones movie series has a similar phrase to encompass the moment it all went a little bit too far.

And it’s ‘nuked the fridge’.

Many ardent fans of Harrison Ford’s swashbuckling archeologist very much drew the line at the moment in ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ where Indy jumps into a conveniently situated fridge to protect himself from a nuclear blast.

Walking away unscathed, it did seem a trifle unfeasible….

(2) POWERLESS LEAD ACTRESS. The name of the show, Powerless, makes punning inevitable. “Vanessa Hudgens Is Far From ‘Powerless’ – ‘Grease’ Star Will Headline NBC’s New DC Comics Sitcom” reports ScienceFiction.com.

Vanessa Hudgens is on a roll after starring in FOX’s smash hit version of ‘Grease Live!’  She’s just landed the lead role in NBC’s upcoming DC Comics-inspired sitcom ‘Powerless’.  Hudgens will play Emily Locke, an insurance claims adjuster, working for “the worst insurance company in the DC Universe” which covers victims caught in the crossfire of super hero/villain battles.  This workplace comedy has been compared to ‘The Office’ but set within the DC Universe.

(3) DECLAN FINN’S FELINE FAN. At Camestros Felapton’s blog, a hilarious faux interview “Timothy the Talking Cat Reads Honor at Stake”.

[Camestros] Noted. So what book do you have today?
[Timothy] Well, today I have with me Honor at Stake by Declan Finn. A tale of love and vampires in modern New York.

[Camestros] And why this book in particular?
[Timothy] Well I was reading twitter and there was this tweet with a graph that showed it was really doing well in the Sad Puppy 4 lists.
[Camestros] The graph from my blog?
[Timothy] Your blog? I don’t think so, this was some sort of SadPuppy4 twitter account.
[Camestros] They tweeted my graph. Do you not even read this blog?
[Timothy] Good grief, no. I mean your very name offends me.…

[Camestros] So the sexy love interest vampire – she is conflicted about this? A bit of a Romeo & Vamp-Juliet thing going on?
[Timothy] No, no. She is a good vampire and a good Catholic girl. She goes to mass and everything.
[Camestros] So crucifix don’t work on vampires then?
[Timothy] No, you see the book has this all worked out. Vampires can be good or bad and the more good you are the nicer you look and the less things like holy water and sunlight affect you. The more bad you are the more hideous you become and the more holy water hurts,
[Camestros] OK so the bad vampires are like regular vampires.
[Timothy] Yup – a bit like the ones in Buffy.
[Camestros] Let me guess – the author explains this by comparing them to the vampires in Buffy?
[Timothy] Exactly! Quality writing – explains things up front so you know what is going on.

(4) MEMORIAL CUISINE. Frequent File 770 contributor James H. Burns has found yet another way to time travel… See “Recipe For the Dead” at Brooklyn Discovery.

Perhaps this is unusual. I have no way of knowing. But when I’m missing a loved one who has passed, or wishing to commemorate someone who is no longer with us… Sometimes, I’ll cook a meal that they loved. Not that I necessarily ever cooked for the departed. But sharing a repast that they favored, having those aromas in the air as the food is cooking, seems a very real way of honoring a memory.

(5) OSHIRO STORY FOLLOWUP. Here are some items of interest related to the Mark Oshiro story.

  • K. Tempest Bradford on Robin Wayne Bailey

3) I am and remain a big fan of Ms. Rosen. I’ve only read one of her novels, but I fell in love with her personality from the two times I’ve been to ConQuesT. She is lively, articulate on her strong opinions, and she is a strong woman. No, I do not always agree with her. In fact, I often greatly disagree with her and her methods of dealing with situations. It in no way changes my respect for her. She doesn’t need me to agree with her for her to be comfortable in her skin. We can disagree, and it in no way takes away from her person. That’s the biggest reason I like the woman. So, in my opinion, she can pull her pants down whenever she wants. Her white legged exposure at ConQuesT 45 was in no way indecent, and no one was assaulted by anything more than her wit, charm, and strong opinions. And honestly, if that’s not what you’re looking for, then you probably shouldn’t go to a convention filled with writers. If the writers at a convention are going to be overtly nice and congenial, I’m not going to pay a hefty entry fee to go listen to their polite little opinions. I go to conventions because of the lively discussion of various opinions from very opinionate writers. If I leave feeling strongly about something, even if that feeling is offense, then in my opinion, the panelists have done their jobs and done them well.

4) I was not present at ConQuesT 46 and cannot speak to the events that happened there.

(6) THE LEVERAGE CONCEPT. Elizabeth Bear offers help in “We provide…Leverage”.

If I am a guest at a convention you are attending, or simply a fellow attendee, and you feel that you have been harassed, intimidated, or that your boundaries have been trampled or ignored, please feel free to ask me for support, help, intervention, or just an escort to a safer area or backup on the way to talk to convention or hotel security.

If you do not feel that you can stick up for yourself, I will help. I will be a buffer or a bulwark if necessary or requested.

Just walk up to me and ask for Leverage, and I promise that I will take you seriously and I’ll try to make things better.

(This is not an exhaustive list.)

(7) BOSKONE COMPLETE. Steve Davidson finishes his Boskone report at Amazing Stories.

Final thoughts?  There were lots of smiles walking out the door on Sunday.  The David Hartwell memorial was touching, much-needed and well-handled.  From what I was able to see, everything went very smoothly (except for perhaps a few hiccups with pre-registration that I understand are already being addressed).

(8) SLOCOMBE OBIT. Cinematographer Douglas Slocombe has died at the age of 103 reports the BBC.

Slocombe shot 80 films, from classic Ealing comedies such as The Lavender Hill Mob and Kind Hearts and Coronets, to three Indiana Jones adventures.

In 1939 he filmed some of the earliest fighting of World War Two in Poland.

Indiana Jones director Steven Spielberg said Slocombe – who won Baftas for the Great Gatsby, The Servant, and Julia – “loved the action of filmmaking”.

(9) NOW YOU KNOW. Some believe Carrie Fisher revealed the working title of Star Wars: Episode VIII when she tweeted this photo of her dog. It’s on the sweatshirt back of the director’s chair.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 22, 1957 — When Scott Carey begins to shrink because of exposure to a combination of radiation and insecticide, medical science is powerless to help him in The Incredible Shrinking Man, seen for the first time on this day in 1957. Did you know: special effects technicians were able to create giant drops of water by filling up condoms and dropping them.

Incredible Shrinking Man Poster

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRLS

  • Born February 22, 1968 – Jeri Ryan
  • Born February 22, 1975 – Drew Barrymore

(12) CORREIA ISN’T LEAVING TWITTER. Well, what else do you say when somebody announces “I’ll leave the account open to post blog links back to here and book ads, but other than that I’m not going to use it for any sort of conversation,” as Larry Correia did on Monster Hunter Nation today?

Recently they created a Trust and Safety Council, to protect people from being triggered with hurtful dissenting ideas. Of course the council is made up of people like Anita Sarkesian, so you know how it is going to swing.

They’ve been unverifying conservatives, and outright banning conservative journalists. Then there were rumors of “shadow banning” where people would post, but their followers wouldn’t see it in their timelines. So it’s like you’re talking to a room that you think has 9,000 people in it, but when the lights come on you’ve been wasting time talking to an empty room.

For the record, I don’t know if that’s what happened to me or not. Some of my posts have just disappeared from my timeline entirely. Other tweets seem to show up for some followers, but not others, and it wasn’t just replies. Beats me. Either something weird was going on and I’ve violated the unwritten rules of the Ministry of Public Truth, or their technical interface is just getting worse (never attribute to malice what could just be stupidity). Either way it is enough of a pain that it was getting to be not worth the hassle.

Then today they disappeared all of my friend Adam Baldwin’s tweets. Ironically, his only visible post (out of 8,000) was a link to an article about how Twitter is banning conservatives. That was the last straw.

(13) THAT DARNED JOURNALISM THING. Actually, Adam Baldwin deleted himself.

….Baldwin, who has nearly a quarter of a million followers, deleted his entire Twitter history Monday morning, leaving only one tweet asking for the CEO of Twitter to be fired and the abolishment of the platforms new Trust and Safety Council….

“This group-think, Orwellian, so-called Safety Council is really killing the wild west of ideas that Twitter was,” Baldwin laments:

“That’s what made Twitter fun. You could run across all sorts of differing viewpoints. That is what free speech is all about. As long as you’re not threatening people with violence, have at it.”

Baldwin cites the banning of prominent conservative tweeter Robert Stacy McCain as a major reason for leaving …

(14) REASON’S INTERPRETATION. Reason.com’s “Hit & Run” blog asks “Did Twitter’s Orwellian ‘Trust and Safety’ Council Get Robert Stacy McCain Banned?”

Twitter is a private company, of course, and if it wants to outlaw strong language, it can. In fact, it’s well within its rights to have one set of rules for Robert Stacy McCain, and another set of rules for everyone else. It’s allowed to ban McCain for no reason other than its bosses don’t like him. If Twitter wants to take a side in the online culture war, it can. It can confiscate Milo Yiannopoulos’s blue checkmark. This is not about the First Amendment.

But if that’s what Twitter is doing, it’s certainly not being honest about it—and its many, many customers who value the ethos of free speech would certainly object. In constructing its Trust and Safety Council, the social media platform explicitly claimed it was trying to strike a balance between allowing free speech and prohibiting harassment and abuse. But its selections for this committee were entirely one-sided—there’s not a single uncompromising anti-censorship figure or group on the list. It looks like Twitter gave control of its harassment policy to a bunch of ideologues, and now their enemies are being excluded from the platform.

(15) BRIANNA WU DEFENDS TWITTER. Brianna Wu commented on Facebook about Correia’s Twitter statement. (File 770 received permission to quote from it; the post is set to be visible to “friends” only.)

He and other conservative figures like Adam Baldwin are claiming that Twitter is breaking down on “free speech” and capitulating to the “SJWs,” which I guess means people like me. I have spent much of the last year asking Twitter and other tech companies to improve their harassment policies. There is one problem with Mr. Correria’s claim.

There is no evidence whatsoever for it.

None, zilch, zero. It’s a fantasy. A similar lie is going around that Twitter has put Anita Sarkeesian in charge of their Trust and Safety council, which is similarly baseless. I’ve spoken with a lot of tech companies in the last year and I have never heard anyone propose shadowbanning.

The only “proof” that Twitter is shadowbanning people comes from a disreputable conservative blog, that is so disreputable it cannot even be used as sourcing on Wikipedia. That blog used anonymous sourcing, and was written by someone with a personal axe to grind against Twitter.

The truth is, companies like Twitter are finally enforcing their own TOS if you threaten someone, dox someone, or set up an account specifically created to harass someone. That has led to some people being banned, and some accounts that perpetually break Twitter harassment rules to become deverified.

The backlash against Twitter is by people that prefer these system to remain as they are – a place where the women in your life will get rape threats, where anyone can have their private information posted, and where swarms of vicious mobs are destroying people’s reputation with slander.

The last I checked, almost 100 people have spread Mr. Correria’s baseless claim – and even more with Adam Baldwin. This is an important thing to fact check, and I hope you’ll share this to set the record straight.

(16) ELSEWHERE ON THE INTERNET. Bailey Lemon at Medium writes “Why This Radical Leftist is Disillusioned by Leftist Culture”.

…And yet I witness so many “activists” who claim to care about those at the bottom of society ignoring the realities of oppression, as if being offended by a person’s speech or worldview is equal to prison time or living on the streets. They talk about listening, being humble, questioning one’s preconceived notions about other people and hearing their lived experiences…and yet ignore the lived experiences of those who don’t speak or think properly in the view of university-educated social justice warriors, regardless of how much worse off they really are. That is not to say that we should accept bigotry in any form?—?far from it. But I would go as far as saying that the politically correct mafia on the left perpetuates a form of bigotry on its own because it alienates and “otherizes” those who do not share their ways of thinking and speaking about the world.

I’m tired of the cliques, the hierarchies, the policing of others, and the power imbalances that exist between people who claim to be friends and comrades. I am exhausted and saddened by the fact that any type of disagreement or difference of opinion in an activist circle will lead to a fight, which sometimes includes abandonment of certain people, deeming them “unsafe” as well as public shaming and slander.

(17) YES, THIS IS A SELECTED QUOTE: Dave Freer makes his feelings clear as the summer sun:

I couldn’t give a toss how I ‘come over’ to File 770 and its occupants, (there is no point in trying to please a miniscule market at the expense of my existing readers) but it’s a useful jumping off point:…

Is Freer simply unable to generate his own column ideas? He proves his indifference by spending most of today’s 2,500-word post teeing off about half-a-dozen imagined slights he thinks self-published writers suffered here.

(18) PROVERBIAL WISDOM. Mark Lawrence declines to reap the dividends of political blogging.

When you declare a political preference (especially at either end of the spectrum) you’re immediately plumbed into an extensive support network. It’s rather like a church. Complete strangers will shout “Amen, brother!”.

Yes, you may well alienate half the political spectrum but you’ll still have half left, and half of ‘everything’ looks pretty attractive when all you’ve got is all of nothing.

Plus, the business of blogging becomes easy. You don’t have to think up something new and original to write, you can just turn the handle on the outrage machine and content drops onto the page.

“SJWs ate my baby!”

“This group of two is insufficiently diverse, you BIGOT.”

If you don’t ‘get’ either of those headlines from opposing political extremes then I’m rather jealous of you.

Anyway, the fact is that joining a side in the culture war can seem like a no-brainer to an aspiring author who needs backup. I’m entirely sure that the motivations for many authors taking to political blogging are 100% genuine, born of deep convictions. I’m also sure that many jump on board, dial up their mild convictions to 11 and enjoy the ride, blog-traffic, retweets, prime spots on the ‘right on’ genre sites of their particular affiliation, oh my.

It’s a step I’ve never been able to take. I do have moderately strong political convictions, but they’re moderate ones, and moderation doesn’t sell, doesn’t generate traffic, doesn’t get retweeted.

(19) CASE IN POINT. io9 reports “The BBC Is Bringing Back The Twilight Zone As a Radio Drama”

Ten classic episodes of The Twilight Zone will be broadcast in the UK for the first time—but, much like the show’s trademark, there’s a twist. The episodes will be reinvented as radio plays taken from Rod Serling’s original TV scripts, thanks to BBC Radio 4 Extra.

According to the Independent, veteran actor Stacy Keach will step in to perform the late Serling’s iconic monologues; other cast members throughout the series will include Jane Seymour, Jim Caviezel, Michael York, Malcolm McDowell, and Don Johnson. Producer Carl Amari has owned the rights since 2002, which he obtained in part by promising to do the episodes justice in terms of production values and casting.

(20) TECH TUNES UP FOR TREK. The Daily News profiled cast members of the Star Trek musical parody being performed this weekend at CalTech.

It’s not unusual for the cast and crew to open up text books, work on papers and discuss theoretical physics in their downtime. It provides an opportunity to network too, with students acting beside people who work in the fields they’re studying, Wong said.

“To be able to stand on stage with all of these people and sing about ‘Star Trek’ that’s just crazy,” he said.

“Boldly Go!” started out with the cast meeting on weekends, before amping up to twice a week and nearly every day in the past month.

Marie Blatnik, who studies experimental nuclear physics and plays a fierce Klingon named Maltof, described the scheduling as hectic. She originally auditioned — in half a Starfleet uniform — for a different role, but the brothers recast a male Klingon when they saw her energy.

“It kind of feels like a cult where they lure you in with ‘it’s only 15 bucks’ then jump to ‘I want your life savings,” Blatnik joked about the time invested in the show.

(21) YOUR GAME OF THRONES NEIGHBORS. Seth Meyers has had two Late Show skits where Game of Thrones characters are featured in everyday situations:

  • Melisandre at the Meyers’ baby shower:

  • Jon Snow at a dinner party:

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Frank Wu, Rob Thornton, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus (you know who you are!).]

Pixel Scroll 1/29/16 Purple Pixel Eater

(1) IMMEDIATE FEEDBACK. CBC reports a Twitter uproar ensued after a Marvel exec made a big contribution during the broadcast of a Trump charity event.

‘Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump announced at a fundraiser Thursday night that Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter would donate $1 million US to his charitable foundation, and comic book fans took to Twitter in reaction.’

Taral, who knows how fans think, says, “I can imagine a lot of Marvel readers and viewers being horrified and contemplating a boycott for almost 3/10s of a second before lining up to see Antman for the fourth time.”

(2) A DIFFERENT GIVING OPPORTUNITY. George Takei is the draw in a new Omaze donation drive — “Charity Share: Inspire Change Broadway”

Oh myyy! Social media aficionado and former helmsman of the Starship Enterprise, George Takei is offering one lucky Omaze winner the opportunity to “Takei over NYC” with him. Just $10 gets you the chance to have a private dinner with George, sit VIP at his Broadway musical Allegiance, and go inside the stage door to meet the cast! And it all supports Inspire Change Broadway.

Launched in 2009, Inspire Change Broadway provides communities across the tri-state area with subsidized tickets and round-trip transportation to Broadway productions….

…Thanks to donors from around the world and Inspire Change Broadway, 10,000 students who may have been unable to afford tickets got to experience the Tony Award-winning musical Memphis.

Now the foundation hopes to do the same for Allegiance, which is set during the period of Japanese-American internment in World War II and inspired by events from George Takei’s own childhood experience. Learn more here! 

(3) ANIMATED JUSTICE LEAGUE. DC’s Justice League will return to the Cartoon Network in 2017, with fan favorites providing some of the voices.

Well, DC’s top superteam is returning to TV in the upcoming Justice League Action. The new series will star DC’s classic triad of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman along with rotating guest stars and its episodes will be 11 minutes long, similar to Teen Titans GO! Speaking of which, Justice League Action will be executive produced by Sam Register, who also producers Teen Titans GO!

…it’s set to feature the return of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill. Conroy and Hamill put their indelible stamps on Batman and The Joker in the original Batman: The Animated Series, but they’ve been phased out in recent years…. Both of them returning is a real treat for longtime fans of Warner Bros. Animation’s superhero cartoons. The show will also feature James Woods as Lex Luthor.

(4) THIS JOB AIN’T THAT EFFIN’ EASY! Fansided’s Leah Tedesco, who writes for Doctor Who Watch, tells what it’s like to face the forbidding temporal desert of a show’s hiatus in “Doctor Who: On Writing for a Fan Site”.

When you write for a fan site of a television program, the off season can be a particularly tricky period. Oh, there is a trickle of news, but the big stories are few and far between. Until Doctor Who returns with the 2016 Christmas special, we at Doctor Who Watch have been tasked with the challenging endeavor of continuing to generate at least the minimum number of articles each month for almost an entire new-episodeless year. I imagine that madness will soon ensue… well, more madness than is already involved.

(5) CAREER COUNSELING. At Black Gate, Violette Malan’s “You May Be A Writer” begins with a humorous hook —

Do you enjoy planning? When you want to give a party, do you start making lists? Thinking about the menu? Who to invite? When there’s a trip coming up, are there lists? Are you usually the first one packed? Or have you at least given considerable thought to your packing?

Is organizing an event almost more fun than the event itself? Then you may be a writer.

Do you think planning’s for squares? Do you decide at 6:00 pm to have a party and let people know via Twitter? Are you rushing through the airport at the last minute with your passport in one hand and a pair of (mismatched) socks in the other?

Are you all about the spontaneity? Seizing the moment? Then you may be a writer.

Of course, what I’m talking about here is process: every writer has one, and it’s likely to be different from yours, or mine.

(6) EXPANSEAPALOOZA. “’The Expanse’ Authors Talk Space Epic Size and Crazy Sci-Fi Tech” at Space.com.

Space.com: What’s the coolest technology you have developed for the series?

Franck: In the book series, when we were coming up with the visuals for the ships and stuff, I was talking to a guy I know who works out of Los Alamos Labs. I was talking to him about the fact that the primary weapon on our ships is railguns — those big, electromagnetically fired weapons. And he said you can extend the length of a railgun barrel [by blowing] this plasma out, and you run electricity through the plasma.

“Turning a Sci-Fi Series into a TV Epic: Q&A with ‘The Expanse’ Authors”, from Space.com.

Space.com: I’ve read that the initial concept for the books was actually a video game. Is that right?

Ty Franck: The fleshed-out version of the idea started out as that. I’d had the idea before that, but when a friend of mine asked me to help her come up with a pitch for a video game is when I really sat down and put more flesh on the bones of this idea that I had. It existed before that, but it was sort of nebulous. The video game thing is what really kind of solidified it.

But as soon as they realized how expensive making an MMO [massively multiplayer online game] was, they sort of backed away quietly.

Space.com: What happened to the story next?

Franck: It went from a video game to a pen-and-paper RPG [role-playing game] setting because I wanted to keep playing around with it. And then Daniel did the rest.

Daniel Abraham: I was in Ty’s tabletop game, and I saw the amount of work that he’d done with the background and world building. And I’d written probably six or seven novels at that point, so my pitch was, “Look, you’ve already done all the hard work; let’s just write it down, and it’ll be a book.”

(7) RAFTERY OBIT. SF Site News reports British filker Joe Raftery died January 29.

Raftery debuted his first filk song at the 1979 Worldcon in Brighton before gafiating until 2000, when he attended FilkContinental. Following his reintroduction to fandom, Raftery became a regular at filk meet ups and was nominated for the Pegasus Award in 2007 for his role in the n’Early Music Consort.

Farah Mendelsohn credited his behind the scenes design work on Loncon3’s Exhibit Hall with enhancing accessibility:

If our accessibility was so good, it’s because Joe designed the corridors, the seating areas, the shapes of booths and the spaces between boards. We couldn’t have managed the intricacies of the exhibits without him.

He is survived by his wife Gwen Knighton Rafter and his children Anna Raftery and Emily January.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 29, 1845 — Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven was published.

(9) SPEAKER TO GENIUSES. Today Mad Genius Club featured “Hugo History – A Guest Post by Ben Yalow”. It’s fascinating to watch an accomplished fanpolitician at work, but — Why is Yalow working the Mad Genius Club? And he makes an interesting choice to discuss Hugo history as something “we” did — will MGC regulars feel included or excluded? Consider the way Yalow phrased the rules changes that produced the semiprozine category.

When it became clear that, during the late 70s, we had three fanzines whose circulation was many thousands, while most fanzines were having circulations in the low hundreds (when you’re printing and mailing physical fanzines, and generally they were available for free, there were real limits on circulation, depending on people’s budgets), we split out semiprozines, just to get them out of the fanzine category. And we tweaked the rules somewhat, so that there were more contenders than just the three that we moved out of fanzine; if it were only that, then semiprozine wouldn’t be a viable category. We were starting to see the beginnings of small run fiction magazines, and serious academic small circulation magazines, and the semiprozine rules put those into the new category, so it was a category offering reasonable choices.

(10) HAD ME GOING. It turns out Sigrid Ellis’ “Best Brussel Sprouts” post is a recipe, not an idea for a new Hugo category.

Okay, these are not the BEST Brussel sprouts. I am pretty sure the BEST ones are cooked with bacon. But these are pretty good.

(11) MORE RECOMMENDATIONS. Nerds of a Feather continues its recommendations in “2016 Hugo Longlist, Part 4: Nonfiction and Institutional Categories”.

This time we are looking at what are, for lack of a better term, the “nonfiction and institutional categories”: Best Related Work, Best Semiprozine, Best Fanzine and Best Fancast. Now, those who follow this blog know how cranky I can get on the subject of certain categories and their bizarre eligibility guidelines–and we’ve got two of them today (Best Semiprozine and Best Fancast). Nevertheless, I will do my best to stay calm and stick to the rules, frustrating as they can be. I reserve the right, will, however, get a little snarky and passive-aggressive in the process.

(12) ANOTHER ELIGIBILITY POST ADVOCATE. Abigail Nussbaum has a few thoughts about the opening of the 2016 Hugo nominations.

The announcement that Hugo nominations are open (as well as the nominating periods for several other awards, such as the BSFA and the Nebula) is usually accompanied by authors putting up “award eligibility posts,” followed by a discussion of whether this is a good thing or whether it makes the entire process into a PR effort.  I’ve already said my piece on this subject, so at the present I’ll just repeat what feels to me like the most important point from that essay, which is that my problem with award eligibility posts is less that they’re crass and commercialized, and more that for their stated purpose, they are utterly useless.  I don’t want to trawl through an author’s blog history to find the list of works they published last year.  What I want is a bibliography–easily found, up-to-date, and ideally sorted by publication date and containing links to works that are available online or for purchase as ebooks.  If you haven’t got one of those on your website, I have to question how seriously you want my vote.

(13) THAT MAKES EVERYTHING OKAY. Antonelli reminds himself (and the internet) that John Clute said nice things about his writing.

After spending most of 2015 – the period from April 4 until August 22 – being told I was an worthless hack writer and overall loser by the s-f literary establishment because I was a Sad Puppy nominee for the Hugo awards, I sometimes go and read my entry in the Science Fiction Encyclopedia by John Clute to remind myself I sometimes rise to the level of occasional competency:…

(14) MASSIVE MULTI-LAWYER ROLEPLAYING. Motherboard explains how “Sony’s Greedy Attempt to Trademark ‘Let’s Play’ Was Shot Down”.

Gaming is a hugely popular category for video content on the internet. It’s why Amazon acquired the video game streaming platform Twitch for $1 billion, and why the most famous creator of “Let’s Play” videos Pewdiepie has the most popular channel on YouTube with 41 million subscribers. Basically, if Sony managed to register this “Let’s Play” trademark, the company would be in a good position to sue any YouTuber or Twitch streamer who used the term to promote their videos, even though the term has been commonly used in the gaming community for roughly a decade.

The USPTO said it would likely reject Sony’s application in its initial form, but gave Sony six months to address its concerns, namely that Sony’s application is too similar to an existing trademark called “LP Let’z Play.”

(15) SAVORY TWEETS. The connoisseurs at Fantasy Faction bring you “The Top 15 Tweets & Top 7 Blog Posts of Robert Jackson Bennett”.

The Twitter-feed of Robert Jackson Bennett is a wondrous, but dangerous place to spend time. If you follow Robert in addition to another 1000 or so people, the normality and reason of the masses will likely dilute the strangeness and zaniness of Robert’s feed to the extent there will be no lasting damage or changes in personality from what you consume. If you spend time looking through Robert’s Tweets on a Tweet-by-Tweet basis though, as I was asked to do by Jo Fletcher Books for this feature, there may be some lasting damage…

Here is their comment about Bennett’s 2009 blog post “Finished.”

Link: http://robertjacksonbennett.com/blog/finished

I love this blog post because, as someone who writes, it is a reminder that not everything you write is publishable or even good; in fact, ‘80% of your output will be unacceptable shit, even if you polish it.’ I’ve spoken before about my thoughts that too many novelists of 2016 are too quick to use Amazon direct publishing as an alternative to admitting their work isn’t ready to be published and that they need more practice. Robert’s ability to take the good and learn from it combined with a willingness to ‘toss the rest and start all over again’ is undoubtedly the reason his books have gotten better and better.

It’s interesting to note the book The Long Wake of which Robert says ‘I like it. I really like it a lot.’ has not been published yet (i.e. it became another, unexpected, learning experience). You can read about that here and here.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Andrew Porter and Steven H Silver for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 1/9/16 To Flail Beyond the Sunset

(1) USE THE FARCE. Entertainment.ie says this Twitter spat between Emo Kylo Ren and Very Lonely Luke is what the internet was made for. Here are the first two tweets in the exchange —

(2) BEWARE FAUX SPOILERS. Will R., who says Hobotopia is a long-running web comic, and one of the nicest things in all of the Internet, draws attention to its ostentatious Spoiler Alert for what turns out to be a pretty obscure The Force Awakens spoiler.

(3) ACTION FIGURES. Here are your prototype action figures for the Ghostbusters reboot. There wasn’t much chance Mattel would repeat the mistake Hasbro made with The Force Awakens of leaving out the female characters, was there?

Amanda Kooser at CNET already has play suggestions.

The action figures come from toy company Mattel and will be 6 inches (about 15 centimeters) in height. That’s a pretty standard size for action figures, so you should be able to fold them into imaginative play along with your Star Wars and Star Trek collection. The crossover possibilities are endless. I can’t wait to see what a proton pack does against Kylo Ren.

(4) STABBY WINNERS. Reddit’s r/Fantasy group has chosen the winners of the 2015 Stabby Awards. Here are the top vote-getters in 3 of the 15 categories:

Stabby Award

Stabby Award

  • BEST NOVEL OF 2015 Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson
  • BEST SELF-PUBLISHED / INDEPENDENT NOVEL OF 2015 The Labyrinth of Flame by Courtney Schafer
  • BEST DEBUT NOVEL OF 2015 The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson

Click on the link to see the rest.

(5) MEAN STREETS. Tobias Carroll at Literary Hub introduces a review by reminding everyone of the time Raymond Chandler mocked science fiction.

In a 1953 letter to his agent H.N. Swanson, Chandler indulges in a brilliantly entertaining, paragraph-long parody of sci-fi writing, which hits every trope and cliché of the genre. Oh, and he namedrops Google some 45 years before Larry and Sergey registered the domain.

Did you ever read what they call Science Fiction? It’s a scream. It is written like this: “I checked out with K19 on Adabaran III, and stepped out through the crummaliote hatch on my 22 Model Sirus Hardtop. I cocked the timejector in secondary and waded through the bright blue manda grass. My breath froze into pink pretzels. I flicked on the heat bars and the Bryllis ran swiftly on five legs using their other two to send out crylon vibrations. The pressure was almost unbearable, but I caught the range on my wrist computer through the transparent cysicites. I pressed the trigger. The thin violet glow was ice-cold against the rust-colored mountains. The Bryllis shrank to half an inch long and I worked fast stepping on them with the poltex. But it wasn’t enough. The sudden brightness swung me around and the Fourth Moon had already risen. I had exactly four seconds to hot up the disintegrator and Google had told me it wasn’t enough. He was right.”

They pay brisk money for this crap?

In the case of Adam Christopher, Chandler’s rivalry with science fiction gave rise to literary inspiration. In the acknowledgements to his new novel Made to Kill, Christopher writes that “what I really wished did exist was Raymond Chandler’s long-lost science fiction epic.” He describes himself as “amused” by “the way Chandler hated science fiction.” There are a handful of nods to Chandler’s infamous riff on the genre peppered throughout Christopher’s novel, including as its epigraph. Made to Kill can be read as a science fiction-laced detective story and as a way of using the detective story template to investigate more archetypally science fictional themes of memory and identity.

The setting of Made to Kill is an altered 1965: John F. Kennedy is president, the Cold War rages on, and American society has had an unsuccessful dalliance with incorporating robots into everyday life. The last survivor of this program, narrator Ray Electromatic, is the detective at the center of this novel, drawn into a conspiracy involving Hollywood stars, radioactive material, and Soviet spies. Ray makes for an interesting protagonist in a number of ways: as robots go, he has an unexpected moral compass, and the fact that his memory only lasts for a day does a good job of establishing him as a less-than-reliable narrator from the outset.

(6) YOU’VE BEEN WARNED. David Gerrold says he’s learned from (bad) experience to avoid feuds, as he explains on Facebook.

Here are 5 of his 10 points:

4) “Forgive and forget” does not apply here. Everyone in a feud, no matter what side they’re on, has already succumbed to self-righteousness, simply by being in the feud. Self-righteousness is terminal.

5) A really spectacular feud, if it goes on long enough, if it gets loud enough, if it gets ferocious enough, will not only destroy the participants, it will destroy the community in which the feud occurs. (I have seen this happen multiple times, where whole forums evaporated because the toxicity reached armpit level.)

6) Sociopaths and attention whores enjoy feuds. People who have not yet learned a modicum of restraint or self-awareness are the biggest victims.

7) Screechweasels and harangutans will outlast everyone and declare the victory of getting the last word. It’s a hollow victory, because most of the other participants will have walked away in disgust.

8) Reconciliation of any kind is almost always impossible — because there is always at least one person who needs to recap the past in one last attempt to prove the other side wrong.

(7) CALL FOR PAPERS. “Reframing Science Fiction”, a one-day conference on the art of science fiction, will be held in Canterbury (UK) on March 21. Keynote speakers: Dr. Jeannette Baxter (Anglia Ruskin University) and Dr. Paul March-Russell (University of Kent).

From William Blake and John Martin to Glenn Brown and The Otolith Group, artists have been producing works of art that are science fiction. And artists and their works have been incorporated into many works of sf.

Meanwhile, on countless book covers and in magazine illustrations, a visual language of science fiction has evolved: bug-eyed monsters; spaceships; robots and so on.

Art in the comic strip and the graphic novel has been the means of telling stories in visual form – whilst artists such as Roy Lichtenstein have made comic panels into art.

The call for papers (which opened some time ago) has a January 15 deadline.

We invite 300 word proposals for twenty minute papers on the intersection of art and sf across the media – painting, sculpture, drawing, collage, photography, film, performance, prose, dance, architecture and so on…

(8) ONE ISLAND’S OPINION. Colleen Gillard’s article “Why the British Tell Better Children’s Stories” in The Atlantic is high-brow click-bait.

The small island of Great Britain is an undisputed powerhouse of children’s bestsellers: The Wind in the Willows, Alice in Wonderland, Winnie-the-Pooh, Peter Pan, The Hobbit, James and the Giant Peach, Harry Potter, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Significantly, all are fantasies. Meanwhile, the United States, also a major player in the field of children’s classics, deals much less in magic. Stories like Little House in the Big Woods, The Call of the Wild, Charlotte’s Web, The Yearling, Little Women, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer are more notable for their realistic portraits of day-to-day life in the towns and farmlands on the growing frontier. If British children gathered in the glow of the kitchen hearth to hear stories about magic swords and talking bears, American children sat at their mother’s knee listening to tales larded with moral messages about a world where life was hard, obedience emphasized, and Christian morality valued. Each style has its virtues, but the British approach undoubtedly yields the kinds of stories that appeal to the furthest reaches of children’s imagination.

And it works – people are coming unglued in the comments.

(9) FX. Doctor Science formulates a TV production axiom in “How special effects eat characterization”. The Doctor’s last paragraph says it best, but you should read it there. Here is the first paragraph:

I don’t think this trend is mostly an artistic or marketing choice, even though that’s what people in Hollywood usually say. I think “more explodey” is driven by the need to justify budgets, and by the individual interests of the people who have to do it.

(10) UNEMPLOYED KAIJU. They won’t be needing any special effects for Pacific Rim 2 — it’s dead, Jim.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the follow-up to director Guillermo Del Toro’s monsters-versus-robots epic is “off the table indefinitely” – and in its place, del Toro has entered talks with 20th Century Fox to helm a rather different sci-fi spectacular.

Del Toro is reportedly gearing up to take the helm on ‘Fantastic Voyage,’ a remake of the 1966 sci-fi classic which starred Raquel Welch and Donald Pleasance as members of a team who are miniaturized in a submarine and injected into the body of a dying scientist in order to save his life.

(11) CLASS. The Doctor Who spinoff Class will air on BBC America in 2016. It was already on BBC Three’s schedule in the UK.

The eight-part series is from young-adult author Patrick Ness, who is known for writing the “A Monster Calls” books. The series is exec produced by “Doctor Who’s” Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin and is a co-production between BBC America and BBC Cymru Wales. It is filmed in Cardiff in the U.K.

“I’m astounded and thrilled to be entering the Doctor Who universe, which is as vast as time and space itself,” said Ness. “I can’t wait for people to meet the heroes of ‘Class,’ to meet the all-new villains and aliens, to remember that the horrors of the darkest corners of existence are just about on par with having to pass your exams,” he joked.

(12) BESTSELLER SNARK. Diana Gabaldon zinged George R.R. Martin – The Hollywood Reporter has the quote:

When asked by a reporter whether her work on the Starz drama [Outlander] — she penned a season two episode — would interfere with her meeting the deadline for the ninth installment in her saga — in light of Game of Thrones’ George R. R. Martin’s recent announcement that, of course, his next book will be delayed — Gabaldon didn’t miss a beat. “No. Unlike George, I write no matter where I am or what else I’m doing,” she said, adding: “He admits it himself that he likes to travel and he can’t write when he travels. That’s just the way he works. Everybody’s got their own writing mechanism. When I began writing, I had two full-time jobs and three small children.”

(13) TENTACLE TIME. Matthew Dockrey, designer of Sasquan’s Hugo base, made news with his new piece of public art in Vancouver (WA).

A newly installed tentacle sculpture is seen on Main Street in Vancouver Wednesday January 6, 2016. (Natalie Behring/The Columbian)

A newly installed tentacle sculpture is seen on Main Street in Vancouver Wednesday January 6, 2016. (Natalie Behring/The Columbian)

A giant steel tentacle bristling with saucer-sized suckers is slithering from the sewer in Uptown Village at Main and West 23rd streets.

Does it belong to an enormous octopus? A sea monster? Is it the tail of a dragon?

The imagination reels with possibilities.

The sculpture, created by Seattle metal artist Matthew Dockrey, is Vancouver’s newest piece of public art. Called “The Visitor,” the 5-foot-tall appendage cradling a genuine city manhole cover was installed Saturday. It will be dedicated at a celebration at noon Friday by the Uptown Village Association, Arts of Clark County, Vancouver’s Downtown Association and the city.

Karen Madsen, chairwoman of the nonprofit Arts of Clark County, said the artwork selection committee had sought a piece that was whimsical and interactive and that would endure over time. The sculpture, which Dockrey specifically created for the site in front of the old Mission Theatre, fits within the Steampunk art movement, she said.

(14) THE FRONT. Cedar Sanderson has pulled together the Mad Genius Club’s considerable wisdom about cover creation for self-published books into one post.

First and most important: before you start designing a cover, creating art intended for book covers, or even thinking about a book cover, you need to look at book covers. A lot of them. Specific book covers to your genre is even better, as there are subtle cues you need to know and recognize, even if you aren’t doing your own covers. So first, before anything else, go to Amazon and search for your sub-genre (space opera, paranormal romance, werewolf stories, historical military fiction, whatever it is) and look at the top 100 selling books. Not the freebies (unless you are looking at what not to do). Make notes of elements you like, things you hate, and the consistent notes that many of the covers have in common. When you’re done with this, you are ready to begin.

(15) HUGO PREP WORK. Shaun Duke has posted a crowdsourced list – “The 2016 Hugo Awards Reading/Watching List (or, My Next Few Months)”.

Last month, I asked for recommendations for my annual Hugo Awards reading bonanza.  A bunch of you responded with books, movies, TV shows, cookbooks, and so on.  The form will remain open for the next month or so, so if you haven’t submitted anything or want to submit some more stuff, go for it!

So, without further delay, here is the big massive monster list of stuff I’ll be reading or watching for the next few months…

(15) IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR. Doris V. Sutherland resumes her analysis of the comparative quality of Puppy and non-Puppy Hugo nominees in the past two races in “2014 Hugos Versus 2015 Sad Puppies: Novelettes” at Women Write About Comics.

Breaking down the above ten works, we have two stories from the 2014 Sad Puppies slate, four from the 2015 Sad Puppies slate, one from the Rabid Puppies and three that were not Puppy picks. In terms of numbers, this is a strong showing from the Puppies. In terms of quality, well…

Before I go on, I should—in the interests of balance—remind my readers that I generally liked the Puppy choices for Best Short Story; some had their flaws, but I felt that the only out-and-out dud was the Rabid slate’s “Turncoat.” Looking at the Puppy novelettes, on the other hand, I find myself decidedly unimpressed.

(16) ROCK ENROLL. NASA’s new Planetary Defense Coordination Office will coordinate asteroid detection and hazard mitigation.

NASA has formalized its ongoing program for detecting and tracking near-Earth objects (NEOs) as the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO). The office remains within NASA’s Planetary Science Division, in the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The office will be responsible for supervision of all NASA-funded projects to find and characterize asteroids and comets that pass near Earth’s orbit around the sun. It will also take a leading role in coordinating interagency and intergovernmental efforts in response to any potential impact threats….

NASA’s long-term planetary defense goals include developing technology and techniques for deflecting or redirecting objects that are determined to be on an impact course with Earth. NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission concept would demonstrate the effectiveness of the gravity tractor method of planetary defense, using the mass of another object to pull an asteroid slightly from its original orbital path. The joint NASA-European Space Agency Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA) mission concept, if pursued, would demonstrate an impact deflection method of planetary defense.

Even if intervention is not possible, NASA would provide expert input to FEMA about impact timing, location and effects to inform emergency response operations. In turn, FEMA would handle the preparations and response planning related to the consequences of atmospheric entry or impact to U.S. communities.

(17) AFRICAN SF. There are six African authors on BSFA Awards Longlist.

Sarah Lotz has been nominated in the Best Novel category for Day Four, the follow-up on her bestseller The Three.

Chinelo Onwualu of Nigeria has been nominated in the Best Non-fiction category for her essay “Race, Speculative Fiction And Afro SF”, published by the New Left Project.

The Best Short Fiction category features four other African nominations:

Unfortunately Samatar’s story won’t be eligible for the award as she announced hers is a reprint of a 2012 story.

(18) ANIMAL FARM. The extended trailer for Disney live-action movie The Jungle Book looks pretty good.

(19) WUV. Matthew Johnson contributed these instant classic parody lyrics in a comment.

Star Base… LOVE.”

Love, at Warp Factor Two

Beam aboard, we’re expecting you

Love, it’s a captain’s reward

Make it so, it warps back to you

 

The Love Base

Soon we’ll be plotting a different course

The Love Base

You’ll learn a new way to use the Force

Love

Won’t stun anyone

It’s fruity drinks ‘neath the double suns

It’s the Love

It’s the Love

It’s the Love

It’s the Love Base

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Brian Z., Will R., Standback, and Alan Baumler for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 11/1 Rank Election

(1) If you are fan who drinks, the newly reopened Clifton’s Cafeteria would like to tempt you with these two science fictional libations –

drinks at Cliftons

(2) “Another Word: Chinese Science Fiction and Chinese Reality” by Liu Cixin, translated by Ken Liu, in Clarkesworld, talks about the themes of other Chinese writers after these introductory comments about the domestic reception for his own work.

China is a society undergoing rapid development and transformation, where crises are present along with hopes, and opportunities coexist with challenges. This is a reality reflected in the science fiction produced there.

Chinese readers often interpret science fiction in unexpected ways. Take my Three Body series as an example. The alien-invasion story takes as its premise a “worst-case” scenario for relationships among members of the cosmic society of civilizations, which is called the “Dark Forest” state. In this state, different starfaring civilizations have no choice but to attempt to annihilate each other at the first opportunity.

After publication, the novels became surprisingly popular among those working in China’s Internet industry. They saw the “Dark Forest” state portrayed in the novels as an accurate reflection of the state of brutal competition among China’s Internet companies….

Authors (myself included) are often befuddled by such interpretations.

(3) From “’Star Wars’: Their First Time” in the New York Times.

Ridley Scott: I had done a film called “The Duellists” and was in Los Angeles to shoot at Paramount, and I honestly think Paramount had forgotten. I remember saying, I’m Ridley Scott, and they said who? So David Puttnam, one of the greatest producers I’ve ever worked with and the most fun, said, “Screw them, let’s go see [“Star Wars”] at the Chinese [theater].” It was the first week. I’ve never known audience participation like it, absolutely rocking. I felt my “Duellist” was this big [holds thumb and forefinger an inch apart], and George had done that [stretches arms out wide]. I was so inspired I wanted to shoot myself. My biggest compliment can be [to get] green with envy and really bad-tempered. That damn George, son of a bitch. I’m very competitive.

(4) Andrew Porter was interviewed, complete with photo, for “Longtime Brooklynites Reflect on a Changing Brooklyn” on Brownstoner.com:

Now you can put a face to me and my non SFnal opinions about recent changes in Brooklyn Heights, where I’ve lived for 47 years.

I’m sure you’ll also appreciate the comments, one of which accuses me of hating Brits!

(Daveinbedstuy accuses – “Andrew Porter sounds cranky; as he usually does on BHB. I wonder what he has against ‘Brits.’ And bringing up ‘granite countertops’ Really????????”)

(5) Jim C. Hines on Facebook:

I HAVE WRITTEN THE FIRST 22 WORDS OF MY NANOWRIMO NOVEL!

The NaNo word counter says at this rate, I’ll finish by January 20, 2022.

I suppose I should probably keep writing, eh?

(6) “Fantastic Worlds: Science and Fiction, 1780-1910” is on exhibit through February 26, 2017 in the newly renovated Smithsonian Libraries Exhibition Gallery of the National Museum of American History.

Travel with us to the surface of the moon, the center of the earth, and the depths of the ocean – to the fantastic worlds of fiction inspired by 19th century discovery and invention.

New frontiers of science were emerging. We took to the air, charted remote corners of the earth, and harnessed the power of steam and electricity. We began unlocking the secrets of the natural world. The growing literate middle class gave science a new and avid public audience. Writers explored the farther reaches of the new scientific landscape to craft hoaxes, satires and fictional tales.

Fantastic Worlds: Science and Fiction, 1780-1910 is accompanied by an online exhibit.

(7) Francis Hamit, a novelist and film producer who is a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, has published A Perfect Spy, a memoir about his first two years at the University of Iowa when he was a dual major in Drama and Business. While he narrates the ongoing dramatic social changes that were transforming society and the university in 1965 and 1966, he also covers the impact of the sexual revolution, the sudden rise of a drug culture, and the beginnings of the anti-war movement at the University of Iowa, from a first-person perspective.

“I saw the first draft card burnt,” Hamit says; “And I would see the last anti-war riot there several years later. I was also very disturbed by the rise of all kinds of drug use in and around Iowa City. Unlike almost everyone else I knew, I did not think this ‘cool’. I saw people ruining thier lives by refusing to tell the police who’d sold them the drugs: facing years in prison. I offered to help them find the dealers if they would leave my friends alone. How I did this is narrated in A Perfect Spy, which is a 118-page excerpt from my forthcoming book Out of Step: A Memoir of the Vietnam War Years.

“I was already in place,” Hamit added; “A perfect spy who made no pretenses of approving of recreational drugs. I didn’t do anything with them, but simply watched and listened so I could collect some useful intelligence for the police. At the same time, I became involved with some very interesting women who were part of the Sexual Revolution. That was part of a larger social revolt. None of what happened then can be viewed in isolation, so I’ve just tried to be as truthful as possible while changing a lot of the names of the people to prevent embarrassment.”

A Perfect Spy will be available exclusively at first from November 12, 2015 on Amazon Kindle for $5.00 and can be pre-ordered now. A print edition will be available in March, 2016 with a suggested retail price of $12.00 from most bookstores.

(8) “The artist who visited ‘Dune’ and ‘the most important science fiction art ever created’” – a gallery of Schoenherr at Dangerous Minds.

Frank Herbert said John Schoenherr was “the only man who has ever visited Dune.” Schoenherr (1935-2010) was the artist responsible for visualising and illustrating Herbert’s Dune—firstly in the pages of Analog magazine, then in the fully illustrated edition of the classic science fiction tale. But Herbert didn’t stop there, he later added:

I can envision no more perfect visual representation of my Dune world than John Schoenherr’s careful and accurate illustrations.

High praise indeed, but truly deserved, for as Jeff Love pointed out in Omni Reboot, Schoenherr’s illustrations are “the most important science fiction art ever created.”

(9) Jason Sanford posted a collection of tweets under the heading “The fossilization of science fiction and fantasy literature”. Here are some excerpts.

https://twitter.com/jasonsanford/status/660782118356783104

https://twitter.com/jasonsanford/status/660783781654233088

https://twitter.com/jasonsanford/status/660789856075948034

Although I have friends that do exactly what Sanford complains about, he doesn’t hang with them, read their fanzines, or (I’d wager) even know their names, so I’m kind of curious whose comments sparked off this rant.

Personally, I’m prone to recommend Connie Willis or Lois McMaster Bujold if I’m trying to interest someone in sf – though both have been around over 25 years and aren’t spring chickens anymore either.

People recommend what they know and esteem. It’s perfectly fine to argue whether recommendations will win fans to the genre, but it seems petty to act as if pushing “classic” choices is a war crime.

(10) John Scalzi was more or less content with Sanford’s line of thought, and responded with “No, the Kids Aren’t Reading the Classics and Why Would They”.

Writer Jason Sanford kicked a small hornet’s nest earlier today when he discussed “the fossilization of science fiction,” as he called it, and noted that today’s kids who are getting into science fiction are doing it without “Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein and Tolkien.” This is apparently causing a moderate bit of angina in some quarters.

I think Sanford is almost entirely correct (the small quibble being that I suspect Tolkien is still common currency, thanks to recent films and video games), nor does this personally come as any particular shock. I wrote last year about the fact my daughter was notably resistant to Heinlein’s charms, not to mention the charms of other writers who I enjoyed when I was her age… thirty years ago. She has her own set of writers she loves and follows, as she should. As do all the kids her age who read.

The surprise to me is not that today’s kids have their own set of favorite authors, in genre and out of it; the surprise to me is honestly that anyone else is surprised by this.

(11) “The kids” who don’t read the classics are one case, would-be sf writers are another, explains Fynbospress in “Slogging forward, looking back” at Mad Genius Club.

Kris Rusch has also noted how many young writers she’s run into who are completely ignorant of the many, many female authors who’ve been in science fiction and fantasy since the start. Among other reasons, many of their works have gone out of print, and the new writers coming in may not have read the old magazines, or picked up the older, dated-artwork books at the used bookstores. So they really, truly, may not know that their groundbreaking new take has been done to death thirty years before they came on the scene, or that they’re trying to reinvent a wheel that has not only been invented, it’s evolved to all-wheel drive with traction control.

(12) I can’t say that Vivienne Raper is going where no one has gone before in responding to the latest Wired article about the Hugos — “Five reasons why the ‘Battle for Pop Culture’s Soul’ isn’t about ‘white men’”.

[First three of five points.]

There are many reasons why I might be “angered” by previous Hugo winners.  And none of them are anything to do with ‘the increasingly multicultural makeup’ of the awards:

ONE

Science fiction’s most prestigious award‘ for Best Novel was decided in 2014 by fewer than 4,000 voters.

TWO

The Best Short Story for 2014 got onto the ballot with fewer than 43 nominations.

THREE

Popular blogger John Scalzi has won more Hugo Awards (inc. best fan writer) than Isaac Asimov – author of I, Robot – or Arthur C. Clarke. He also has 90K+ Twitter followers.

(13) Jeb Kinnison at Substrate Wars is more analytical and lands more punches in “The Death of ‘Wired’: Hugo Awards Edition”. Here are his closing paragraphs.

The various flavors of Puppies differ, but one thing they’re not is anti-diverse — there are women, people of various colors, gays (like me), religious, atheists, and on and on. The one thing they have in common is that they oppose elevating political correctness above quality of writing, originality, and story in science fiction. Many of the award winners in recent years have been lesser works elevated only because they satisfied a group of progressives who want their science fiction to reflect their desired future of group identity and victim-based politics. For them, it is part of their battle to tear down bad old patriarchy, to bury the old and bring themselves to the forefront of culture (and incidentally make a living being activists in fiction.) These people are often called “Social Justice Warriors” – they shore up their own fragile identities by thinking of themselves as noble warriors for social justice. Amy Wallace places herself with them by portraying the issues as a battle between racist, sexist white men and everyone else.

She then goes on to give some space to Larry Correia, Brad Torgerson, and Vox Day (Ted Beale). While her reporting about them is reasonably truthful, they report that she promised to interview Sarah Hoyt (who ruins the narrative as a female Puppy) but did not do so, and left out material from other interviews that did not support her slant. Tsk!

The piece is very long, but written from a position of assumed moral superiority and elite groupthink, a long fall from classic Wired‘s iconoclastic reporting. It’s sad when a quality brand goes downhill — as a longtime subscriber, I’ve noticed the magazine has grown thinner in the last year as ad revenues declined and competition from upstarts like Fast Company ate into their market. Now they are me-tooing major controversies for clicks. Once you see this dishonesty in reporting, you should never view such sources as reliable again.

(14) Sometimes I suspect AI stands for “artificial ignorance.”

If the programmer of this tweet-generating robot was literate, they could easily discover that the words Portugal and Portuguese are not even mentioned in this U.S. Census definition of “Hispanic or Latino.”

(15) “The Original Star Wars Trilogy Gets An Awesome Force Awakens-Style Trailer” via Geek Tyrant.

I’d warn that there are too many spoilers, except you’ve already seen the original trilogy how many times?

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Mark-kitteh, Will R., JJ, Trey Palmer, Francis Hamit, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 7/19

(1) Jim Davis, who was on the set while they shot the second episode of Star Trek:The Next Generation, recalls “Patrick Stewart’s trailer still had a handwritten sign on it (by him) that said ‘Unknown British Shakespearean Actor’).”

(2) The Catcher In The Rye bar in LA is gives its drinks literary names. Here is a sample of what the menu has to offer.

THE RAVEN

Absinthe, Benedictine, Dry Vermouth, Orange

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary…”  -Edgar Allen Poe

CLOCKWORK ORANGE

Templeton Rye, Sweet Vermouth, Aperol, Burnt Orange, Orange Bitters

“But what I do, I do because I like to do.” -Anthony Burgess

SLEEPY HOLLOW

Mount Gay Rum, Bitters, Simple Syrup, Pressed Apple Juice

“Don’t you ever go laughing at the Headless Horseman” -Washington Irving

But no Bradbury reference? That seems out of character for a book-themed enterprise based in his home town.

Compare this to the Literati Cafe which made the papers a few years ago by serving a cocktail named the Fahrenheit 451.

(3) Nicholas Whyte has updated his survey 2015 Hugo Awards: how some more bloggers are voting.

(4) Patrick May tested EPH with the 1984 Hugo data (scroll down to comment #299). I still got two Hugo nominations. What more do I need to know?

(5) I may have forgotten to mention that Sarah A. Hoyt and the Mad Genius club don’t write about Puppies most of the time. Dare I say that I usually enjoy the expositions about professional writing?

Consider Hoyt’s “Selling Books To Real People”:

This post has been prompted by my friend Amanda Green’s post on Amazon.  To whit, by the implication that Amazon killed Borders that others have flung up.

This is a touchy subject, because although I was informed that nice ladies don’t discuss politics, religion or coitus in public, I’ve found that the touchier subject is money: making it, keeping it, wanting it….

Did Amazon kill Borders?  Well, only if you look at it as assisted suicide.

Borders grew and became very big by having a system.  The system was ordering to the net.  They ordered only proven sellers.  The way they did this was by looking in the computer at the author’s name, and seeing how many of his hers or its (must be post binary) book they had sold.  Then they ordered just that number.

This system worked magnificently while Borders was a small bookstore, in a small town, and before the publishers tumbled onto it.  Two things Borders didn’t take into account: the variety of regional tastes and the corruption inherently possible in the system….

And this Mad Genius Club report “How to work with artists” based on the advice given by Sam Flegal, Libertycon artist GoH to self-publishers.

Just as we frequently say here that “It’s all in the contract!” and “You are not selling your book, you are licensing intellectual property!” Guess what? When dealing with artists, it’s all in the contract. And when you talk to them about using an image for a book cover, you’re not buying the work, you’re licensing intellectual property. Yep, that’s right: they’re just as concerned about licensing and IP rights when they talk to you as when you talk to a publisher… because in this case, they’re the IP creator, and you’re the publisher!

The shoe is now on the other foot. So, what terms should you offer the artist?

(6) Can it be that the makers of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, pioneers of the “digital backlot” that became the model for producing superhero summer blockbusters, lost so much money they never got to reap the benefits of their own system?

But a few great reviews don’t make a difference if your numbers are bad, and Sky Captain’s were very bad. Cinemagoers, perhaps put off by its black and white visuals or comic-strip tone, stayed away: the film made just $15.5 million on its opening weekend. This would have been fantastic if the film had used the tiny budget for which the brothers had originally asked, but the reported cost of $70 million made its eventual worldwide takings of $58 million a catastrophe…..

Kevin Conran has worked in the art department on films including Bee Movie and Monsters Vs. Aliens, and as a production designer on Dreamworks’ Dragons, a TV spin-off of the hit movie How To Train Your Dragon. As he muses on where the Sky Captain experience has led him, he says. “I think sometimes that there’s a world where we might have made this thing for $3-4 million and there would be a whole different story to tell.“

Kevin would never say this himself, but the Conrans’s contribution to cinema is huge. “You can absolutely draw a line from Sky Captain to the look and feel of many of the big blockbusters we see today,” says Ian Freer. “Its use of a digital backlot is now the dominant M.O. for production design. Films like 300, Sin City, Avatar and Alice In Wonderland have all created worlds built on the ideas put down by Conran.”

As much as the big budget movies have taken the techniques the Conrans developed, still very few people have really done what they set out to do: eradicate the need for giant budgets on fantasy films. Their plan was not to make things better for James Cameron or George Lucas, it was to give opportunity to the guys nobody had heard of – guys like them – and to have moviemaking be restricted only by your imagination not your bank balance.

“Conran crystallised the idea of the one man film studio, taken up by the likes of Robert Rodriguez and Gareth Edwards (director of Monsters and later Godzilla),” continues Freer. “But there are other ways in which Conran was ahead of his time. Sky Captain is a film built entirely on nerd love by a nerd director. With its in-jokes, old school visuals and pastiche of old genres, Sky Captain is the ultimate ‘geekgasm’ years before the word was invented.”

(7) Prediction: the Scooby-Doo & KISS: Rock & Roll Mystery will never be on Kyra’s bracket.

scooby doo and KISS COMP